Boxing Insider Notebook: Lomachenko, Khan, Algieri, Taylor, Wilder, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of November 28th to December 5th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Top Rank on ESPN to Feature Lomachenko vs. Pedraza WBA/WBO Lightweight Unification Bout
Live and Exclusively on ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Saturday, December 8 at 9 p.m. ET from The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden
ESPN+ to Stream Undercards Live Starting at 6 p.m. ET
One of the biggest boxing events of the year airs live on ESPN Saturday, December 8 from The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The reigning WBA lightweight champion, Vasiliy Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) is set to take on WBO champion Jose “Sniper” Pedraza (25-1, 12 KOs) in a title unification main event airing live and exclusively on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 9 p.m. ET, immediately following the live presentation of the 2018 Heisman Trophy Ceremony. Top Rank on ESPN will drop gloves just after 6 p.m. ET starting with the undercards on ESPN+ — the new multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment and ESPN.
Two additional fights round out Saturday’s Top Rank on ESPN with marquee appearances by rising stars Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe and Teofimo Lopez. ESPN+ will stream the undercards live headlined by Guido Vianello facing Luke Lyon (5-1-1, 2 KOs) starting at 6 p.m. ET.
Calling the fight for ESPN will be Joe Tessitore and Mark Kriegel, with former two-division world titleholder, Tim Bradley (analyst), reporter Bernardo Osuna and on-location studio contributors Stephen A. Smith, Kevin Connors, former pound-for-pound two-division world champion and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward, and ESPN Deportes’ coverage includes play-by-play from Robert Sierra and analyst Delvin Rodriguez.
ESPN’s official coverage of fight week kicked off Monday, December 3 with “Top Rank on ESPN: Best of Lomachenko” – an encore presentation of Vasiliy Lomachenko’s last two fights — Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Guillermo Rigondeaux (December 9, 2017) and Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Jorge Linares (May 12, 2018).
ESPN+ will also feature:
• Countdown to Lomachenko vs. Pedraza, a four-part series that takes viewers behind the scenes as one of the world’s great pound-for-pound fighters attempts to unify lightweight world titles against WBO world champion Pedraza. Episodes include:
• “Loma: Under the Knife” (available now) — rare footage of Lomachenko prepping for shoulder surgery, the surgery itself, how he injured it vs. Jorge Linares, and how his team handled his comeback.
• Unifying The Belts (premieres today) — Lomachenko and Pedraza talk about their chances and ambitions to unify the lightweight title belts.
• Fishing with Loma (premieres Wednesday, Dec 5) — Behind the scenes day fishing with Lomachenko and his team off the coast of California.
• Training The Loma Way (premieres Thursday, Dec 6) — Inside Team Lomachenko’s unique training strategies, including unique outdoor and mental training.
• The final press conference, which will stream live on Thursday, December 6 at 12:30 p.m. ET.
• The Boxing Beat with Dan Rafael premieres Tuesday, the weekly ESPN+ original show will include a look ahead to Lomachenko vs. Pedraza with ESPN boxing guru Dan Rafael.
• The weigh-in will stream live Friday, Dec 7 at 1:30 p.m. ET. Also airing on ESPN2.
Katie Taylor to Defend World Titles Against Wahlstrom in New York
Katie Taylor will defend her IBF and WBA World Lightweight titles against Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden, New York on December 15, on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez challenging Rocky Fielding for the WBA World Super Middleweight title, live on DAZN.
Taylor (11 – 0 5KOs) makes her third defense of her belts in her third fight in New York, first in the World famous Manhattan boxing mecca and the fourth stateside fight in her last seven fights.
The Irish sensation became the WBA World ruler in her seventh pro outing in Cardiff, Wales in October 2017 against Anahi Sanchez and unified the belts at the Barclays Center in fight number nine in the paid ranks, comfortably ripping the IBF belt from Victoria Bustos in April.
Taylor, an amateur star in the Emerald Isle with an Olympic gold medal added to five World championships and six European golds, is hunting unification bouts at 135lbs in 2019, but in unbeaten Finn Wahlstrom, the 32 year old faces the stiffest test of her pro career.
Wahlstrom (22 – 0 – 1 3KOs) is aiming to become a two-weight World champion in the Big Apple the long-reigning WBC Super-Featherweight champion steps up to Lightweight to achieve that goal on December 15.
The 38 year old landed her 130lbs strap in April 2015 and has been unmoved in four defenses on home turf, including a win over her common foe with Taylor, in former World champion Sanchez, who the Helsinki ace beat in December 2016.
The pair have history having clashed at the very start of Taylor’s amateur career 14 years ago, and the defending champion cannot think of a better setting to meet in the pros and continue her path to unification just over two years since the start of her pro career.
“Eva is someone I know very well from our time in the amateurs,” said Taylor. “I was actually drawn against her in my very first international competition back in 2004 and it seemed like every time I turned up to a major competition after that she was in the draw!
“She was always a really tough opponent so it’s no surprise that she’s gone on to have a great professional career. I think this fight will really showcase the best that women’s boxing has to offer and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’ve been lucky enough to fight in some iconic venues since turning pro two years ago but I’m not sure there’s any more iconic in a boxing sense than Madison Square Garden. I think every fighter dreams about stepping in the ring there and I’m no different. To get the opportunity to defend my World titles there is really very exciting.”
“I have stated for a longest time that I am ready and I want to engage in toughest fights available,” said Wahlstrom. “This is the ultimate, biggest and toughest fight anywhere and to have it in the legendary Madison Square Garden is a huge honor.
“I lost to Katie few times in amateur days but I am sure I won her respect anyway. Now in a 10-round pro fight, it will be totally different game with all new avenues to avenge those defeats.
“I have the greatest respect to Katie for how she has remained her respectable, nice, down-to-earth personality despite all the success and fame. Thus, I am not going to do any trash-talking, but I am very ready to do some thrashing in the MSG ring.”
“This is an amazing opportunity for Katie to fight at MSG,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “This is by far the toughest fight of her career so far and hugely important moving into 2019.
“There will be great Irish support in New York and she adds even more superstar status to this brilliant night of boxing on DAZN.”
ICB Signs Vanes Martirosyan; Contender to Make Cage Boxing Debut in 2019
Former super welterweight world contender Vanes Martirosyan of Glendale, Calif., is the first standout to join International Championship Boxing, promoter of the revolutionary and exciting new combat sport that features boxing in a cage.
“Vanes is not just the first to sign a multi-bout, multi-year agreement with ICB, but he’s also the first of several,” says Jack Fulton, founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia-based ICB.
“We are in discussions with many boxers, mixed martial artists and kickboxers, and some of the names definitely would surprise,” says Fulton.
“It’s more than interest, it’s enthusiasm to box in ‘The Fight Zone’ says Fulton. “We’ve struck a chord with boxers and MMA fighters, and it’s resonating.”
The 32-year-old Martirosyan, originally from Armenia, has a record of 36-4-1 with 21 knockouts.
Martirosyan’s most recent bout was against Gennady Golovkin on May 5 for “GGG’s” World Boxing Association and the World Boxing Council middleweight championships, a fight he took on three-week notice.
Martirosyan had two previous title bouts, one for the WBA super welterweight crown and another for the World Boxing Organization super welterweight championship.
Martirosyan’s first bout in the ICB cage will be during the first quarter of 2019.
“I was surprised when I heard about boxing in a cage, but at the same time I was real happy,” says Martirosyan. “The idea is just amazing. Fans are going to love it.
“I’m going to be a nightmare in the cage,” says Martirosyan. “It’s easier to cut off the cage in a dog fight, and I’m an action fighter; I do bring the action.
“I challenge all fighters in the world, boxing or MMA, to come into the cage with me, and I’ll show them what real fighting is all about,” says Martirosyan.
“Vanes and his team are excited to be part of this new and unique concept for boxing,” says his manager, Vince Carthron.
“It’s a format just made for Vanes, and we are delighted to be there at the beginning and helping to build it,” says Carthron. “It’s good for boxing fans, and it’s good for Vanes.”
It took Fulton almost two years to get the cage designed, built, patented and approved by boxing and athletic commissions within the United States, including the state of Nevada.
An 18 year veteran promoter of the sport, through the years Fulton began to realize the sport needed something new, something fresh. And in 2016 he did something about it.
“The sport of boxing needed something revolutionary, and this is it,” says Fulton.
“The ICB cage better assures toe-to-toe, non-stop action, something that’s appealing to both boxing and mixed martial arts fans, and to the new hybrid athlete that’s proficient in more than one combat sport”
“We have no doubt ICB boxing in the cage will engage all ring sports fans,” says Fulton. “‘This is boxing for a new generation, a generation that has grown up watching combat sport in a cage. And that’s the main reason we conceived, created and now launched the ICB. It will re-energize boxing fans and bring MMA fans who prefer stand-up striking.”
“Vanes gets it; he sees the future and the opportunity,” says Fulton. “The ICB cage doesn’t force a boxer or an MMA fighter to make a choice; it offers them flexibility.”
Showtime to Air Epic Wilder vs. Fury Heavyweight World Title Bout on Saturday at 9pm ET
The thrilling Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury heavyweight blockbuster, a sure-fire Fight of the Year candidate, will air on SHOWTIME this Saturday, December 8 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The WBC Heavyweight World Championship bout between the 6-foot-7 unbeaten American champion Wilder and 6-foot-9 challenger Fury originally aired live on SHOWTIME PPV® on Saturday, December 1 from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.
On Saturday, both Wilder and Fury made strong cases for 2018 Fighter of the Year honors. Wilder faced the two toughest opponents of his career this year including a spectacular knockout win over Cuban slugger Luis Ortiz in a Fight of the Year candidate in March. Fury, the lineal heavyweight champion, returned from a two-and-a-half-year layoff to score two wins in a span of 10 weeks before facing Wilder. On Saturday, he miraculously withstood a devastating, final-round knockdown that appeared to knock him out cold. Fury rose dramatically and continued to fight until the final bell to cap an effort that will go down as one of the greatest comeback stories in all of sports.
The SHOWTIME presentation of the Wilder vs. Fury, a bout that has been hailed as “…the greatest night for boxing in the U.S. in recent memory,” by Yahoo! Sports, will be immediately followed by the premiere of ALL ACCESS: WILDER vs. FURY EPILOGUE. The networks’ Emmy Award winning Epilogue reveals the drama of fight night from a unique perspective and introduces viewers to the rarely seen aftermath of world championship prizefighting. ALL ACCESS: WILDER vs. FURY EPILOGUE goes behind the scenes, into the locker rooms, corners and inner circles as Fury aims to complete a storybook comeback and Wilder looks to continue his reign as the “baddest man on the planet.”
Amir Khan Launches ‘Ring the Changes” Initiative to Help Under-Privileged Youth
Boxing superstar Amir Khan has launched a new initiative in London today aimed at addressing youth crime in partnership with online financial trading broker ThinkMarkets.
More than 100 young people have been murdered in London alone this year and Khan will work with ThinkMarkets and charity partners to raise funds and support initiatives to help young children get off the streets using financial education and the power of boxing.
Amir Khan said: “ThinkMarkets have ambitious plans to address youth crime and together I am confident that we can make a real difference through our ‘Ring the Changes’ initiative.
“I faced challenges as a young man and I’ve been fortunate that boxing has given me opportunities and a support network that has helped me throughout my life. Not everyone is as fortunate as I have been and alongside my boxing career, I want to do some good in the world, helping young people.
“As a sportsman in the public eye, young people may be more inclined to listen to me than to people they don’t know and if I can pass on any guidance or help with opportunities that change even just one person’s life for the better, I will be very proud.”
Tonight (December 3) Khan will auction an exclusive training session and VIP tickets for his next fight with funds going to sport for employment charity Street League, that delivers a powerful programme of sports combined with employability coaching to young people from the most disadvantaged communities in the UK in order to improve their life chances.
Khan will also work with ThinkMarkets to secure employment in the City for 100 young people from disadvantaged families by 2022 and is planning to collaborate with an amateur boxing club to provide inspirational talks and fundraising activities to support its members.
The collaboration will also see Khan and ThinkMarkets run masterclasses together for the trading community, with the boxer giving talks on having a successful mindset and how to manage emotions.
Khan has a long history of helping charitable causes around the world and set up his own Foundation in 2014, something that attracted ThinkMarkets to working with the former Olympic silver medallist.
Faizan Anees, Co-founder of ThinkMarkets, said: “’Ring the Changes’ aims to make a difference to the lives of a great many young people in the UK. Amir Khan will be a fantastic ambassador for our activities and we are both committed to helping less fortunate young people and their families.”
ThinkMarkets aims to teach youngsters the importance of mental discipline and provide them with key skills to help them achieve their goals.
Khan’s partnership with ThinkMarkets is the first of its kind, with ThinkMarkets becoming the first UK broker to sponsor a professional boxer.
Algieri Rocks the House in Return to Paramount
CHRIS ALGIERI (22-3 8KO’s) returned to the Star Boxing’s acclaimed venue, The Paramount in Huntington, NY for the first time in over four years as the former WBO Super Lightweight champion looked spectacular in dismantling a game and rugged
ANGEL HERNANDEZ (14-12-2 9KO’s) from McAllen, TX over the 10 round distance of a Jr Welterweight contest in the main event of Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing Rockin Fights 33 before a frenzied sold-out standing room only crowd last night.
Algieri took control from the outset as he displayed the superb boxing skills he is known for but under new head trainer Andre Rozier, Chris has added another dimension to his already potent offense. Chris worked at a very high rate and threw numerous impressive multi punch combinations to both the body and head of Hernandez. Algieri displayed tremendous hand speed and his usual impeccable conditioning. Hernandez for his part tried the best he could and moved forward the entire fast paced fight but was no match in skills of the former world champion and in the end Algieri came away with the unanimous decision, 100-90, 100-90, and 99-91 improving to 22-3 8KO’s while Hernandez dropped to 14-12-2 9KO’s.
The semi-final 8 round Welterweight bout pitted Elmont’s TYRONE “PRETTY BOY” JAMES (9-0 6KO’s) and LEONARDO CARRIZALES (5-6-1 2KO’s), Tampico, MX. They certainly didn’t disappoint the sold out crowd as they put on a wild bout which saw James score a sensational 8th round TKO after a series of eye opening uppercuts. James started out boxing beautifully over the first 5 rounds landing vicious shots to the ever charging Carriales who also landed his fair share of blows. In the 6th round the fight took a dramatic turn as Carrizales landed a blistering right hand to the jaw of James dropping “Pretty Boy” for the first time in his career. James arose on very wobbly legs but hung in there to finish the round. The final 2 rounds saw wild action between these two fighters as they stood toe to toe trading bombs with each other, much to the delight of the crowd. The end came as James cornered Carrizales and landed 5 straight vicious uppercuts which had Carrizales’ head moving like a Jack N Box and forcing the ref to call a halt to the bout at the 42 second mark of the final frame. James improves to 9-0 6KO’s while Carrizales drops to 5-6-1 2KO’s.
Undefeated Lightweights OMAR BORDOY (7-0 2KO’s) and TEREL BOSTIC (3-1 1KO), put on a fight to remember over the 6 round distance. Danbury, CT’s Bordoy took the fight right to the local Wynadanch fighter, Bostic, as they went back and forth in a high paced, skillful match. Bordoy dropped Bostic with a monstrous right hand in the 3rd round and tried his best to finish Bostic but was unable to do so. Bostic came out for round 4 and took the fight right to Bordoy getting the best of the action. The final 2 rounds had the crowd going wild as the 2 young fighters traded freely and in the end Bordoy came away with a split decision winning 58-55 on two card while Bostic prevailed on the 3rd card 57-56.
ALEX VARGAS (2-0) won a hard fout 4 round decision over Rochester’s JARRILL HAADI (0-1), getting off the deck in the first round to do so by scores of 38-37 across the board and Jr. Welterweight DASHAUN JOHNS made his pro debut a successful one taking out late sub DEVON GRANT in the first round.
Promoter JOE DEGUARDIA had this to say about the fights: “What a spectacular night of fights. The Paramount was electric and Chris Algieri confirmed that he wants to regain his world championship belt. We plan on providing Chris with another world title opportunity in 2019. He is a skilled and dedicated boxer and will give any title holder at 140 lbs. an exciting and tough challenge. Congratulations to all of Friday nights fighters on a exciting and action-packed night of fights, and thank you to our great fans”