Boxing Insider Notebook: Lomachenko, Shields, Brant, Baranchyk, and more…


Compiled By: William Holmes

The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of October 24rd to October 31st; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.


Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Loma Prepares for Pedraza in Oxnard
WBA lightweight world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko was at home at the Boxing Laboratory as he prepared for his next challenge. Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs), who has won world titles in three weight classes in just 12 pro fights, will seek to unify titles for the first time as a pro when he takes on WBO champion Jose Pedraza (25-1, 12 KOs), Dec. 8 at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden (ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 9 p.m. ET).

Lomachenko worked out for the media Tuesday, showing off his assortment of training tricks. This is what the pound-for-pound great had to say.

On the Pedraza fight

“I had a long rest {following shoulder surgery}. I am looking forward to seeing how I feel and taking on a tough opponent like Pedraza. I haven’t had much time to watch his fights.”

On potentially unifying the titles

“I can’t wait. After this fight, a lot of doors will be open. Title unification fights are good for the sport of boxing.”

On future opponents

“I love challenges. That’s what motivates me. I want all the top fighters. I’m open to anyone.”

On the Jorge Linares fight

“It was the first time I was knocked down as a pro. After the knockdown, I came back and finished the fight. It was a tough fight, but I showed the heart of a champion.”

On whether he’ll remain at lightweight

“I believe I’ll stay at 135 and focus on 135 because when I fought against Linares, I felt like he was bigger than me. So I’ll stay at 135 because I think 135 is not my {ideal} weight category right now. After one or two years, it will be my {ideal} weight.”

On a Mikey Garcia fight

“I hope {it will happen}. We can see in the future because my next fight is against Pedraza. After Pedraza, we can talk about fighting Mikey.”

Claressa Shields to Defend IBF and WBA Middleweight Championships Against Hannah Rankin on DAZN
On Saturday, November 17, at the Kansas Star Arena and Casino in Mulvane, Kansas, superstar two-division women’s world champion Claressa Shields of Flint, Michigan, will defend her IBF and WBA World Middleweight Championships and be looking to add the vacant WBC title against Hannahh Rankin from Glasgow, Scotland.

The 10-round Shields (6-0, 2 KOs), and Rankin (5-2, 1 KO) battle will serve as the co-featured bout to Brooklyn-born heavyweight contender Jarrell Miller’s WBA World Heavyweight Championship showdown against Romania’s Bogdan Dinu.

These two fights will be broadcast live on DAZN, along with former world champion Brandon Rios taking on Canelo’s brother, Ramon Alvarez, in a super welterweight 10-rounder and former two-time world middleweight title challenger Gabriel Rosado going against once-beaten contender Luis Arias.

Shields was originally scheduled to face WBC and WBO World Middleweight Champion Christina Hammer on November 17, but the bout was postponed after Hammer withdrew due to medical reasons. Hammer has been named a champion in recess during her recovery. The two champions are now projected to do battle in the first quarter of 2019.

“Claressa is a once-in-a-generation athlete that transcends the sport,” said her promoter, Dmitriy Salita. “She will take another step in her goal to achieve the status of GWOAT as she makes the first defense of her middleweight world titles against the skilled and durable Hannah Rankin.”

A bonafide women’s superstar and TV ratings favorite, 23-year-old “T-Rex” Shields is a two-time Olympic gold medallist and already a world champion in two weight divisions. In her fourth professional fight, she won the IBF and WBC Super Middleweight Championships in August 2017 with a dominant stoppage of Germany’s Nikki Adler. Then, in June of this year and in just her sixth pro fight, she dropped down to 160 pounds and won the IBF and WBA Middleweight titles with an exciting unanimous decision over Hannah Gabriels.

“I’m so excited to be able to give my fans another chance to see me defend my championship this year and to have the opportunity to win the WBC middleweight title on November 17,” said Shields. “I appreciate the efforts of Salita Promotions, my manager Mark Taffet, and Matchroom Boxing in putting this fight together so quickly. I will be in great shape and will provide a great performance.”

“I want to thank Salita Promotions and Matchroom Boxing for providing Claressa with another chance to fight this year and an opportunity to attain a third middleweight world championship,” said Mark Taffet, manager of Claressa Shields. “Claressa is hungry and motivated to put on a great performance on November 17 on DAZN. Claressa has lofty goals and I have no doubt that she’s going to achieve every one of them, including fighting and defeating Christina Hammer early next year. I expect Shields vs Rankin to be an action-packed fight that fans will enjoy tremendously.”

28-year-old Rankin put in an impressive and brave performance while losing a challenge for Alicia Napoleon’s WBA Super Middleweight Championship in August of this year. Before that, she picked up the WBC Silver Middleweight Championship with a dominant victory over Finland’s Sanna Turunen in June.

“I’m excited about the fight and proud to be representing Scotland on such a big stage,” said Rankin. “In boxing, nothing is impossible and on November 17, it will be just us in there when the bell rings and I think it’s going to be one hell of a fight.”
New WBA Middleweight Champion Rob Brant Basking in the Glow, but Ready for Next Assignment

Brand-new WBA World Middleweight Champion Rob “Bravo” Brant says he goes everywhere with his new best friend. “The belt hasn’t left my side since they handed it to me,” laughs the personable new champion from Saint Paul, Minnesota.

28-year-old Brant (24-1, 16 KOs) says he went into his main-event showdown with then champion Ryota Murata (14-2, 11 KOs), last Saturday night at the Park MGM in Las Vegas (and live on ESPN+), unaware he was such a heavy underdog.

“I really did go into it very confident I would win, just off the preparations we did,” said Brant, who was having his first fight with former world champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad as his trainer. “I tried to stay away from news when I was in training, so I had no idea how big of an underdog I was. We had a post-fight press conference and that was when I found out. When reporters were asking about it. I had no idea. It wouldn’t have deterred me anyway if I had known.”

Despite the doubts of the bookmakers, Brant cruised to a lopsided 12-round unanimous decision over 2012 Olympic gold medalist Murata, with two judges giving him all but one round, the other all but two. Brant busted up the now ex-champion with a piston-like jab and peppered him with combinations throughout what turned out to be a surprisingly dominant performance.

According to CompuBox statistics, Brant landed 356 of 1,262 punches (28 percent) while Murata connected with just 180 of 774 (23 percent).

“As a pro, he hasn’t seen what I gave him,” explained Brant. We knew he had a hard time with hand speed and jabs. He locks up when punches are being thrown, so we made sure we kept him backing up and worried about the jab and punches in general. The more he thinks about my shots, the less he throws. We knew we’d be able to keep him on his back foot. Eddie Mustafa is very strict on letting the hands go. We were big on the cardio in training and keeping the punch rate high. And when you’re keeping the jab out there all the time, other shots open up.”

Brant says at fight’s end, he wasn’t worried about the decision going his way.

“I’ve always felt that judges’ decisions are out of my hands. I was nervous about it, you don’t know until they announce your name, but I knew I had done what I felt was my best work. I had a great sense of pride and relief knowing I put it all out there and did everything possible to win. But now that I have won, it’s kind of like having giant weight lifted off my shoulders. It’s definitely my biggest accomplishment ever, winning in Vegas against a former Olympic gold medallist. It’s everything I ever worked for. It was the best feeling in the world. I knew how much I worked for that. Boxing gives back what you put into it and I put my everything into it.”

Although Brant and promoters GCP reportedly agreed to a rematch before the fight, the new champion says he’s not sure the now ex-champion wants it.

“All the talk of a rematch has been from his promoters. I haven’t heard him say anything about it. He might be a little discouraged right now. I’m not saying he won’t be able to come back, but I don’t think he wants it right now. I’ll just go on to bigger and better in the division. Once you win a title, there are no more easy fights. Until you are the undisputed king, you’re always taking steps up in class in every fight.”

Brant says he took a week off but is now back in the gym and ready for what comes next.

“I’m just waiting for the next assignment to work toward. I want to know who my next opponent is as soon as possible, so I can go to sleep at night thinking of what I’m going to do. Watching film and looking for flaws and things I can exploit. That’s when I‘m really the most comfortable. When I have an assignment. It’ll be a big name eventually. I’m there now. So I’m just waiting to see who is next for me to spend all my time watching that person.”

Brant gives a big piece of the credit for his upset victory to the only man to ever beat him. Last October, he stepped up in weight to participate in the World Boxing Super Series as a super middleweight and lost a one-sided decision to former light heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer in Germany.

“The thought of what happened against Braehmer was always in the background. That’s what really motivated me to be the best I could in this fight. I knew I was better than I was in that fight. I had to prove it by doing what I’m capable of. The loss to Braehmer will be in the back of my mind forever. I won’t let anyone else do that to me again. I will never forget that loss and I’ve been a better fighter from that point forward.”

Undefeated Prospects Castaneda and Venegas Jr. Clash for NABA Super Lightweight Title on December 1st

TMB & PRB Entertainment and Roy Jones Jr. Boxing Promotions, present “Whose ‘0’ Will Go 2”, a live boxing event taking place at the Scottish Rite Theatre in San Antonio, TX, on December 1, 2018. In the 10-round main event, undefeated super lightweights Kendo Castaneda (14-0, 7 KOs) and Gilbert Venegas Jr. (10-0, 6 KOs), will battle for the vacant WBA-NABA title. The entire card will be streamed via Facebook’s FIGHTNIGHT LIVE channel, which has already served more than three million fight fans since May 2017.

Venegas age 24, is coming off an impressive unanimous decision victory against Armando Cardenas (9-2, 5 KOs), a fight that took place at the Scottish Rite Theatre on September 8, 2018. With momentum on his side, Venegas is determined to remain unbeaten with a victory against Castaneda.

“Castaneda comes in with an undefeated record, so this will no doubt be my toughest opponent of my career, but a fight I believe I can win.” stated Gilbert Venegas Jr. “I’ve worked very hard to get into this position, to fight for a title, so rest assure, I’m not going to let this opportunity pass me by. Being that this will be my first shot at a title, you better believe I’m coming to win, and win impressively. I’m going to be the new NABA super lightweight champion and on December 1st, my hands will be raised in victory.”

The 24-year old Castaneda, who is promoted by Roy Jones Jr. Boxing Promotions, recently defeated former WBC United States Champion, Jesus “Chuy” Gutierrez, by 8-round unanimous decision. With the victory, Castaneda, who resides in San Antonio, TX, will look to keep his undefeated record in tact against Venegas.

“I’m predicting a tremendous performance,” said Castaneda. “I’m ready to razzle and dazzle, graze them and daze them, confuse and abuse them. Getting a NABA title shot on my second fight with Roy Jones Jr. Boxing represents a huge door being kicked down for me. If I can’t beat a guy like Venegas, I have no business in boxing.”

Tickets priced $35 General Admission $40 at the door, and $100 Ringside, are on sale now, and can be purchased by calling (210) 449-5599 or (210) 322-9974. The Scottish Rite Theatre is located at 308 Ave E, San Antonio, TX 78205. Doors open at 4:00 PM, first bell at 5:30 PM.
Split-T Management’s Ivan Baranchyk Captures IBF Junior Welterweight Title
Split-T Management’s Ivan Baranchyk won the IBF Junior Welterweight title with a 7th round stoppage over Anthony Yigit.

The bout, which took place in New Orleans, was also part of the World Boxing Super Series, giving Baranchyk more than just a world title to celebrate.

Baranchyk took the fight to Yigit, as he landed many power shots that made the left eye of Yigit swell very badly. With the eye just about closed, the fight was halted after the 7th frame, gibing Baranchyk the coveted world title.

Baranchyk will now face the winner of next Saturday’s contest between Josh Taylor and Ryan Martin, which will take place in Glasgow, Scotland.

“This is the best feeling in the world,” said Baranchyk. “To become world champion, I feel like I am the best fighter in the tournament. It was a good fight, I was able to implore my style and get the stoppage. I will rest for a a week or so, and then start my work for my next fight.”

“I couldn’t be happier than I am for Ivan. He deserved this and worked for it as hard as anyone can. You have to be around Ivan to really realize how intense and dedicated he is. We are looking forward to the next round and I honestly don’t think Ivan cares which one he fights,” said David McWater of Split T Management.

Baranchyk is promoted by DiBella Entertainment, Holden promotions and Fight Promotions.
New Era Dawns: ICB Launches Boxing’s Move to MMA-Style Cage

With a patent, trademarks and official approval complete, Jack Perone Fulton, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of International Championship Boxing (ICB), is set to reboot the traditional sport of boxing by moving it into an MMA-style cage.

Trademarked “The Fight Zone,” the specially designed ICB cage is a 24-foot, six-sided fenced hexagon with red and blue entry points and two opposing neutral corners.

“ICB represents boxing for a new generation, one that has grown up watching combat sports in a cage,” said Fulton. “It’s truly a better boxing platform. It’s a larger fighting space and with better camera angles for broadcast viewers. And when a boxer’s heel touches the back of the cage fencing, they must come out swinging instead of resting on the ropes. Those are the main reasons we conceived, created and are now launching the ICB. We have no doubt the ICB will capture the imaginations of existing fans and attract new ones around the globe.”

It took Fulton almost two years to get The Fight Zone specially designed, built, patented and approved by boxing and athletic commissions within the United States. In March of this year, he received a unanimous approval from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, recognized as the industry leader when it comes to regulatory matters.

“I’m both ecstatic and excited we have been granted approval by the NSAC,” said Fulton. “It’s the first time anything remotely resembling this has been legally attempted.”

Real-life testing of the new format has gone extremely well.

“The initial sparring sessions have resulted in action that has exceeded our wildest expectations,” said Fulton. “MMA fans get what they want: stand-up striking, instead of the all-too prevalent ground game, which produces long breaks in the action. And boxing fans will enjoy the new action-packed toe-to-toe dynamic the cage produces.”

What has also exceeded expectations is the response from boxers and mixed martial artists alike. Several notable combatants in both fields have expressed enthusiasm about competing in the ICB. “You’d be surprised by the number of boxers – boxers whose skill sets range all the way up to world champions and world-ranked contenders – who not only are expressing interest but enthusiasm about boxing in the ICB cage,” said Fulton.

Because of the characteristics of a cage in comparison to a ring, boxers will have to learn and hone new skill sets.

“Some boxers will adapt and flourish quicker than others,” said Fulton, “but eventually, they’ll see the advantages of competing in the cage and will gravitate en-masse. Mixed martial artists, particularly those who excel at striking, will also feel the lure of boxing in the cage. It accentuates their strong points while eliminating their weak points.”

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