By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of December 31st to January 7th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
New Mchunu Opponent Announced for January 24th
When the popular nationally televised live boxing series Fight Night returns for its Friday, January 24th season opener on NBC Sports Network, the co-feature bout will be an intriguing clash for the NABF championship belt between two African cruiserweights. South African Thabiso “The Rock” Mchunu, 14-1, 10 KOs, meets Olanrewaju “God’s Power” Durodola, 15-1, 14 KOs, of West Africa, in a 10-round fight at Resorts International Hotel and Casino, on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Durodola stepped in when Garrett Wilson was forced to pull out of the bout due to an injury. The fight is the main supporting bout of a card headlined by the 10-round middleweight encounter between Curtis Stevens and Patrick Majewski.
HBO World Championship Boxing Returns January 18th
American fight fans will see the biggest bout in Canadian boxing history when the action-packed tripleheader WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING: JEAN PASCAL VS. LUCIAN BUTE, ELEIDER ALVAREZ VS. THOMAS OOSTHUIZEN AND MIKE PEREZ VS. CARLOS TAKAM is presented SATURDAY, JAN. 18 at 10:15 p.m. (live ET/tape-delayed PT) from the Bell Centre in Montreal, exclusively on HBO. The HBO Sports team will call all the action, presented in HDTV and in Spanish on HBO Latino.
In the historic main event, the country’s top rivals, Jean Pascal (28-2-1, 17 KOs) and Lucian Bute (31-1-0, 24 KOs), meet in a 12-round, 175-pound spectacle originally slated for May 2013. The 31-year-old Pascal has never backed down from a challenge, confronting American stars Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson with supreme confidence. Bute, 33, has displayed flashes of brilliance as a super middleweight, and will now test his power in the light heavyweight division.
The preceding bout features Montreal’s Eleider Alvarez (13-0-0, 8 KOs) and Thomas Oosthuizen (22-0-2, 13 KOs) of Boksburg, Gauteng, South Africa in a 12-round light heavyweight title clash. The undefeated Alvarez, 29, who has fought his last ten fights at the Bell Centre, will have the backing of fight fans around the country. Returning to HBO after recording a draw against Brandon Gonzales in June, Oosthuizen, 25, is making the transition from super middleweight to the highly competitive 175-pound division.
The evening opens with a battle of highly touted heavyweights, as Mike Perez (20-0, 12 KOs) of Cork, Ireland, takes on Carlos Takam (29-1, 23 KOs) of Noisy-le-Grand, Seine-Saint-Denis, France in a scheduled ten-round bout. Coming off a November win, Perez, 28, seeks to preserve his undefeated record and power-punch his way to a shot at a heavyweight crown. Boasting an impressive 11-fight win streak, including eight by knockout, Takam is making his HBO and Canadian debuts. He is sharp having scored a third round KO win over Jakov Gospic on Dec. 20.
Travis Kauffman to Battle Vincent Thompson on January 25th
On Saturday night January 25th, King’s Boxing Promotions & XFE presents a great night of boxing at the Sands in Bethlehem, that will feature the WBA number-nine ranked Heavyweight in the world Travis Kauffman taking on once beaten Vincent Thompson in the ten round main event.
Kauffman of Reading, PA has a record of 27-1 with 20 knockouts. He has risen to Number-nine by the WBA.
He won his first 18 bouts with wins over William Shahan (7-1) and Malachy Farrell (16-1) before his only blemish to Tony Grano.
Kauffman is riding a nine bout winning streak with wins over Chris Koval (24-6) and his last bout when he stopped Jason Barnett in one round on November 30th in Reading, PA. In that bout, Kauffman dropped Barnett three times with the final two coming on hard body shots.
Thompson of Federal Way, Washington has a record of 13-1 with two knockouts.
The thirty year-old southpaw won his first thirteen bouts with wins over Freddie Miller (1-0-1); Enrique Lobatos (1-0-1); Charles Ellis (6-0-1) & Jonta Willis (8-1-1).
In his last bout, Thompson suffered the first blemish on his record when he dropped a six round unanimous decision to Charles Martin (9-0-1) on September 21st in Shelton, Washington.
Oscar Molina Out of Action for Four Months after Surgery
On Friday, December 20, 2013, undefeated 2012 Mexican Olympian Oscar Molina had labrum surgery on his left shoulder performed by Neal S. ElAttrache, M.D. at Kerlan Jobe Surgery Center in Los Angeles, CA.
Molina (8-0, 7 KOs), who has to be considered one of the “top prospects” of the year in 2013 with eight victories, and seven of those wins ending by knockout, will now take the next few months in 2014 to rehabilitate his shoulder in preparing to take his next step-up in the professional ranks upon his return. With co-promoters Goossen Tutor Promotions and Promociones del Pueblo splitting the bouts evenly; four in the U.S. and four in Mexico, Molina has been on a busy schedule with five of his bouts broadcast on Televisa, one on ESPN, and he capped off the year with HBO showing clips of his fight in November on the undercard of the Andre Ward-Edwin Rodriguez bout.
Dr. ElAttrache, the team physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers and a consultant to the Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Rams, LA Lakers, LA Kings and the PGA Tour, noted the surgery was successful and Molina should be able to return to the ring within the next four months.
Oscar’s twin brother and 2008 U.S. Olympian, Javier, makes his ESPN main event debut on January 24, 2014 when he takes on his stiffest challenge in former world champion Kendall Holt at the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, WA, where Oscar will work his brother’s corner.
Bermane Stiverne on Mission to Become 1st Haitian-Born World Champion
On his mission to become the first Haitian-born heavyweight champion of the world, World Boxing Council (WBC) Silver champion Bermane “B. Ware” Stiverne (23-1, 20 KOs) still doesn’t know exactly when and where he will be fighting for the vacant WBC heavyweight world title.
After patiently waiting 2 ½ years as the mandatory challenger, though, the 34-year-old Stiverne understands that he will be in his first world title fight sometime during the first-quarter of 2014 – date, place and network to be determined – in a rematch with Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola (36-3, 31 KOs).
Once Vitali Klitschko finally announced his retirement, the WBC mandated a title fight between its top two rated heavyweights, No. 1 Stiverne and No. 2 Arreola, ordering their respective promoters, Don King Productions and Goossen-Tutor Promotions, to begin negotiations. Stiverne-Arreola will go to a WBC purse bid in Mexico if an agreement is not reached by the January 17.
Stiverne knocked out Ray Austin on June 25, 2011 in the 10th round of their WBC heavyweight title eliminator to capture the WBC Silver championship. Last April in another WBC heavyweight title eliminator, Stiverne successfully defended his Silver belt, winning an impressive 12-round unanimous decision (118-109, 117-110, 117-10) over Arreola, breaking Arreola’s nose and dropping him in the third round. Also, three purse bids for Stiverne to challenge Klitschko were postponed during Stiverne’s arduous journey to his dream of fighting for the world title.
“I believe that good things happen to those who wait,” Stiverne said sounding more like a philosopher than world heavyweight title challenger. “I also believe that one of my best qualities is to be patient for things that I want and care about in life, especially if I’m putting in work at 110-percent.
“I am not disappointed that I won’t be fighting Klitschko. All I care about right now is to get my hands on that green belt and to be the first Haitian heavyweight champion of the world. I have the best team in boxing to take care of this matter. It is not my concern about where or when. My job is to be ready when the time and date comes.”
Undefeated Lightweight Prospect Ivan Redkach to Make American Debut
Undefeated Ukrainian lightweight prospect Ivan “The Terrible” Redkach (15-0, 13 KOs) will continue to follow his American dream on January 17, in Memphis as he makes his U.S. network debut in the 10-round main event against Canadian Tony “The Lightning” Luis (17-1-1, 7 KOs) on ShoBox: The New Generation.
Redkach, who lives in Los Angeles, gained invaluable experience working there with world champions Brian Viloria and the late Edwin Valero. Currently rated No. 13 by the World Boxing Council (WBC), the ferocious 27-year-old Redkach has knocked out 13 of his 15 professional opponents. The lethal southpaw had a 260-40 amateur record and he was a 2008 Ukraine Olympic Team alternate.
“This opportunity is what I have worked so hard for since I was eight years old,” Redkach said from his training camp in LA with head trainer Mario Morales. “National exposure in the U.S. is why I uprooted my life and moved here. So many world champions started out fighting on ShoBox and now it’s my turn.”
Luis was a standout Canadian amateur who was a seven-time Provincial and three-time National silver Mittens champion. Styles make fights and the 25-year-old Luis is a consummate boxer, as opposed to the power-punching Redkach, to combine for a potential 2014 standout fight.
Lihaug Confident of Victory Over Runde at Nordic Fight Night
Tim-Robin Lihaug (5-1, 4 KOs) faces a tough test at the Nordic Fight Night on February 1st as he comes up against undefeated German Alexander Runde (6-0, 5 KOs).
However the Bergen-boxer is unfazed by his opponents winning record. ‘’It doesn’t matter if he is undefeated or not as the result will be the same,’’ said Lihaug. ‘’I know Runde is a tough guy and I will have to bring my A-game in order to beat him but I have been working on a great game plan with my coach Joey Gamache and I am confident that my hand will be raised after the final bell.’’
‘’This will be a good test for Tim,’’ said promoter Nisse Sauerland. ‘’He has bounced back from the defeat to Oscar Ahlin and has shown good progress under the guidance of Joey Gamache. Now he must step up and put in a good performance against an undefeated fighter. There is no doubt that Runde will be coming to Frederikshavn win and I am anticipating an entertaining fight.’’
Pound-for-pound number one Cecilia Braekhus (23-0, 7 KOs) headlines the show at the Arena Nord, defending her WBA, WBC & WBO Female Welterweight titles against Myriam Lamare (22-3, 10 KOs). Norwegian prospect Alexander Hagen (3-0) will also be in action.
Boxing After Dark Returns on January 25th
HBO’s hit late-night boxing franchise begins 2014 with an all-action doubleheader featuring an intriguing junior lightweight title showdown when HBO BOXING AFTER DARK: MIKEY GARCIA VS. JUAN CARLOS BURGOS AND BRYANT JENNINGS VS. ARTUR SZPILKA is seen SATURDAY, JAN. 25 at 9:45 p.m. (live ET/tape-delayed PT), exclusively on HBO. The HBO Sports team will be ringside for the event, which will be available in HDTV, closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired and presented in Spanish on HBO Latino.
The main event pits Mikey Garcia (33-0, 28 KOs) of Oxnard, Cal. against Juan Carlos Burgos (30-1-2, 20 KOs), from Tijuana, Mexico, in a scheduled 12-round, 130-pound title bout. Garcia comes from a talented boxing family: The 26-year-old is trained and co-managed by his father, Eduardo, and his brother, Robert, the Boxing Writers Association of America’s 2012 Trainer of the Year. Garcia has been on the fast track to superstar status, steamrolling the competition and emerging as one of the sport’s elite fighters. His three wins in 2013 were knockout triumphs over former champions Orlando Salido, Juan Manuel Lopez and Rocky Martinez. The 26-year-old Burgos is a seasoned veteran who will be making his third bid for a world title.
In the co-feature bout, rising heavyweight Bryant Jennings (17-0, 9 KOs) makes his HBO debut. The 29-year-old Philadelphia native has attracted the attention from boxing observers as the sport searches for the next big American heavyweight star. His formidable foe, 24-year-old Artur Szpilka (16-0, 12 KOs) of Krakow, Poland, has generated a following in the U.S. this year with two televised victories over Mike Mollo, both of them all-action affairs.