Boxing Insider Notebook: Lemieux, Russell, Whyte, Martinez, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of April 16th to April 23rd; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Right Hand Injury Forces David Lemieux to Withdraw From Super Middleweight Debut Against John ‘The Gorilla” Ryder
An unfortunate hand injury has forced David Lemieux (40-4, 34 KOs) to withdraw from his 168-pound debut against London’s John “The Gorilla” Ryder (27-4, 15 KOs) in what was going to be the scheduled 12-round co-main event of Canelo vs. Jacobs. Lemieux injured his right hand during a sparring session, and his doctor has recommended that he rest for eight weeks before returning to the gym.
Details for the new co-main event will be announced shortly. The Canelo vs. Jacobs will continue as planned on Saturday, May 4 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and will be streamed live exclusively on DAZN.
Lemieux, a 30-year-old native of Montreal, Canada, is disappointed at his injury, but promises to return stronger than ever.
”Training camp was going really great,” said David Lemieux.”I felt in tremendous shape, the strongest I’d ever felt in my entire career. But, I will be back soon. Hopefully, the fans will understand. I promise I will make it up to them once I’m healed.”
“I’m very disappointed since he was in the best shape of his life both in the gym and in the ring,” said Camille Estephan, President of Eye of the Tiger Management. “We will take the time to heal his hand and get right back in the chase for a world title.”
“It’s very unfortunate that David Lemieux’s return has been postponed,” said Eric Gomez, President of Golden Boy. “But this is boxing, and these things happen. We wish David a speedy recovery and look forward to his return, so he can make big waves at 168 pounds.”
WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. To Defend Against Former Champion Kiko Martinez
WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. will defend his title against former world champion Kiko Martinez in the co-feature to Wilder vs. Breazeale on Saturday, May 18 live on SHOWTIME from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™, and presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will also feature unbeaten super lightweight contender Juan Heraldez squaring-off against former world champion Argenis Mendez in a 10-round attraction. The event is headlined by WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder as he makes the ninth defense of his title against mandatory challenger Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale.
“Gary Russell Jr. is one of the most skilled fighters in the sport and he’ll look to stake his spot atop the featherweight division on May 18 against the always exciting former champion Kiko Martinez,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “The event will also feature a battle between a rising contender in the 140-pound division in Juan Heraldez going up against one of the division’s toughest and most active contenders in Argenis Mendez. This is truly going to be an electric night leading up to heavyweight champion of the world Deontay Wilder in the main event.”
“Preceding the night’s main attraction will be Gary Russell Jr. defending his title against a tough and experienced Kiko Martinez, making for a battle that is sure to bring excitement to the fans, plus Mayweather Promotions’ young prospect Juan Heraldez will open the telecast looking to put on a show, as he continues to elevate his career to new heights,” said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions. “I’m confident that he will execute his game plan impressively and showcase his talent against a seasoned and tested Argenis Mendez, who has been in the ring with some of the top guys in the super lightweight division. The fans at Barclays and those tuning in on SHOWTIME will see a night of non-stop action come May 18.”
Tickets for this BombZquad event can be purchased at ticketmaster.com and barclayscenter.com, Tickets can also be purchased at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP. The Heraldez vs. Mendez fight is co-promoted with Mayweather Promotions.
The 30-year-old Russell (29-1, 17 KOs), who was born in Washington, D.C. and now lives in Capitol Heights, Maryland, will make the fourth defense of his featherweight world title on May 18 and his second career appearance at Barclays Center. Russell won his title by knocking out Jhonny Gonzalez in 2015. After stopping Patrick Hyland and Oscar Escandon, he most recently defeated previously unbeaten Joseph Diaz Jr. last May. Russell, who is trained by his father, Gary, Sr., is part of a boxing family. Two of his younger brothers, Gary Antonio and Gary Antuanne, are currently unbeaten professionals.
“I expect to send a message to everyone in or near my division that I’m a force to be reckoned with,” said Russell. “I want to unify against Leo Santa Cruz and I’m going to do what I have to do to get there. I’m never going to take any opponent lightly and right now, it’s my job to take care of Kiko Martinez before I worry about anything else. On May 18 you should expect to see excitement, punching power, hand speed, fast combinations and a great level of boxing IQ. I’m the best in boxing today and I prove that every time I get in the ring.”
A native of Comunidad Valenciana, Spain, Martinez (39-8-2, 28 KOs) has faced the best names in and around the featherweight division throughout his career. He won a super bantamweight world title in 2013 by stopping Jhonatan Romero and has faced the likes of Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton, Josh Warrington and Scott Quigg. The 33-year-old is unbeaten in his last four contests, including most recently defeating Marc Vidal for a European featherweight title in October.
“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity to win another world title and I’m thankful and excited for May 18,” said Martinez. “Gary Russell Jr is in for a rude awakening. I have a lot of experience and I feel great at featherweight. There will be nothing better than celebrating my 50th fight with a new world title.”
The undefeated Heraldez (16-0, 10 KOs) continued to rise up the rankings in 2019 when he knocked out Eddie Ramirez in their February showdown. The 28-year-old from Las Vegas earned a decision victory over Kevin Watts and a stoppage of Maynard Allison in 2018. That followed up a unanimous decision victory over then unbeaten prospect Jose Miguel Borrego in his first 10-round bout in August 2017 on the Mayweather vs. McGregor undercard.
“I’m one of the best super lightweights in the world and I’m going to show it again on May 18,” said Heraldez. “They keep lining them up and I’ll keep knocking them down. Mendez is good, veteran opposition, but I’m going to show I’m on a different level. This is a great opportunity to once again perform on a big stage and I’m going to take full advantage and steal the show.”
Mendez (25-5-2, 12 KOs) most recently fought to a competitive split-draw against Anthony Peterson in March, running his unbeaten streak up to three fights. The 32-year-old defeated Eddie Ramirez and Ivan Redkach in back-to-back fights after losses to Robert Easter Jr. and Luke Campbell. Originally from San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic and now living in Brooklyn, N.Y, Mendez won the IBF super featherweight title with a knockout victory over Juan Carlos Salgado in 2013.
“This fight is do or die for me to become champion again,” said Mendez. “Anthony Peterson ran from me in our fight in March, so if Heraldez does that on May 18, I will be better prepared. If he stands and fights with me, I feel strongly that I will dominate him and make a statement to everyone that I’m an elite 140-pound fighter.”
Whyte to Face Rivas in London Showdown
Dillian Whyte will face Oscar Rivas for the number one Heavyweight spot in the WBC at The O2 in London on Saturday July 20, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
Whyte (25-1 18KOs) holds the number one slot with the WBC and puts that on the line as the hard-hitting ‘Body Snatcher’ continues to blast his path to a World title shot. The Brixton banger put Derek Chisora away in devastating style in his last outing, the pair thrilling the Greenwich crowd in their rematch in December – before icing Del Boy in the 11th round.
The 31-year-old Briton will be gunning for a tenth straight win against Rivas, with wins over Joseph Parker, Robert Helenius and Lucas Browne sandwiched between his two wins over Chisora. Whyte has become a must-watch fighter since rocking old foe Anthony Joshua in their battle at The O2 in December 2012, and yet again takes on a high-risk challenge as he cements his spot as the leading Heavyweight contender in the world.
Rivas (26-0 18KOs) is yet another dangerous customer for Whyte to risk his number one rankings with, and the Colombian comes into the bout on the back of his biggest win in the paid ranks. Rivas travelled to Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY in January and KO’d former World title challenger Bryant Jennings in the final round of their clash, underlining his dangerous potential to World titlists and fellow contenders, with ‘Kaboom’ ranked at number ten with the WBC, seven in the IBF and a lofty five with both the WBA and WBO.
The Canadian-based 31 year old carried an impressive amateur record into the paid ranks, beating Kubrat Pulev in the 2008 Olympic Games a year after landing silver in the Pan-American games – and with 18 Kos in 26 fights since turning over, July 20 promises to be an explosive war between two in-form big-punchers, with huge stakes on the line.
“I am very happy to be fighting again at The O2 in July,” said Whyte. “Oscar Rivas is undefeated and ranked in the top 10 across the board of all the governing bodies. He has been one of the most avoided heavyweight fighters in the last few years.
“His KO victory over Bryant Jennings sent shockwaves through the division and Tyson Fury just turned down ESPN/Top Rank’s offer to fight him. I am over the moon that he has accepted the fight. He has a great amateur and professional record, including a win over Kubrat Pulev.
“I am more than happy to carry on fighting top 10 fighters like Rivas until I get my well-earned shot at Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua.
“I can’t wait until July 20 to fight again at The O2 which is one ofthe best venues in the world for boxing.”
‘‘I have waited for this opportunity for a very long time,” said Rivas. “Dillian Whyte is an excellent boxer, a World class fighter and the number one contender. He deserve all my respect for his accomplishments and I am grateful for the opportunity he is giving me.
“This is exactly the kind of challenge I was hoping to get. I am undefeated, I am planning to keep my perfect record after July 20 in my quest to get the ultimate opportunity to become World champion.”
“This is a great fight with both men coming off explosive late knockouts,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Rivas is undefeated and looking to take Dillian’s number one spot but as we know, The O2 has become a fortress for him of late and this is set to be another war. We are planning a huge night of boxing on July 20 with a monster card topped by the brilliant heavyweight headliner.”
“First I would like to thank Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing who made a proposal impossible to turn down,” said Yvon Michel, President of Groupe Yvon Michel. “Oscar Rivas was willing to step up and face Anthony Joshua for June in New York and representations were made.
“It might not be his turn now but instead he is extremely happy, to be earning an eventual World title opportunity, by proving he is the best amongst the contenders against the outstanding Dillian Whyte. On July 20 a new star will be born!”
Adam Smith, Head of Sky Sports Boxing, said: “Dillian Whyte is risking it all again as he battles the dangerous Oscar Rivas at The O2, which has become a happy hunting ground for ‘The Body Snatcher.’
“Dillian has already delivered exciting wins over Joseph Parker and Derek Chisora at the same venue, but he could have his hands full against Rivas, the unbeaten Colombian with his own world ambitions.
“Expect another enthralling showdown when Whyte returns in the summer, and we expect to have a stacked card before a sizzling main event.”
Croatian Heavyweight Star Hrgovic Makes American Debut on May 25
The Rio 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist joins a blockbuster bill in Maryland headlined by former undisputed Cruiserweight Champion Oleksandr Usyk, the winner of the inaugural World Boxing Super Series tournament, who makes his Heavyweight bow against Carlos Takam.
Hrgović returns following a one-sided points victory over Kevin Johnson in his hometown of Zagreb and is eager to showcase his skills in front of an American audience as he continues his quest for World glory.
The Croatian boxing sensation will take on Dallas-born Heavyweight Gregory ‘Bad News’ Corbin (15-1, 9 KOs), whose only previous defeat has come at the hands of former IBF World Champion Charles Martin.
“I am pleased that my promoter Team Sauerland has made an agreement with Matchroom and DAZN that will enable me to fight in America,” said Hrgović. “I believe DAZN is the future of boxing and I’m sure they will give their viewers the best match ups in the history of the Heavyweight division.”
“I look forward to making my American debut on May 25 I’m very excited because the entire Heavyweight division is moving to the US and the US is the best place for big fights at the moment.”
“I think American fans will love my style because I’m not a classic distance fighter. I’m constantly trying to fight and throwing many punches. The fans can expect some excellent fights from me.”
“My opponent Greg Corbin is very good, and I think he is an excellent choice for this stage of my career. I will prepare for this fight as if it were for a World title so I’m sure it will be a great match up.”
“It will be a good test for me because he is more experienced than me, we can see that from his record, and I believe he will come in his best possible shape so it will be an exciting match for viewers around world watching on DAZN.”
“I’m currently in training camp in Miami. We always train like it’s a fight for the world title. Pedro Diaz insists on discipline and hard training. He refuses to work with fighters who are not 100% focused. We share the same opinion about that. That is why we are a good team, and I think we can achieve big things together.”
“I am looking forward to getting straight back in there on May 25,” said Corbin. “This is a chance for me to redeem myself after the Martin fight. There were a lot of distractions for me in the build-up to that one, but this time I’m fully focused on Hrgovic. “There’s a lot of hype around this guy with his amateur background and his start in the pros – let’s see if he can back it up.”
“Filip Hrgović is an incredibly talented fighter and this could be a breakthrough year for the young Croatian,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “His amateur pedigree is outstanding and I share Team Sauerland’s excitement about his future – he’s going to be a real player in the division.”
“American fight fans are in for a treat. On May 25 they will witness a future star of the Heavyweight division,” said Hrgović’s promoter Nisse Sauerland. “Filip Hrgović is on a fast track for Heavyweight gold.”