Boxing Insider Notebook: Ortiz, Ali, Ray Edwards, Gomez, Canelo, Ward, Kovalev, Smith, and more…
By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of August 23rd to August 30th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Hogan Photos
Sadam Ali and Eddie Gomez to Fight on Canelo vs. Smith Undercard
Fans at AT&T Stadium, in Arlington, Texas will be in for a treat on Saturday, September 17, as top welterweight contenders Sadam “World Kid” Ali (22-1, 13 KOs) and Eddie “E-Boy” Gomez (19-1, 11 KOs), make their grand return to the ring in respective 10-round fights. Ali and Gomez will be headlining the preliminary undercard which will start off the action on Mexican Independence Day weekend, ahead of the live Pay-Per-View telecast, on select channels before the pay-per-view event and digitally on HBO Boxing’s YouTube Page, www.GoldenBoyPromotions.com, www.ringtvlive.com and additional websites and outlets where Ring TV is available starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT/3:30 p.m. PT.
Diving head first into the action in the Lone Star State this September will be the pride of Brooklyn, as Sadam “World Kid” Ali makes his grand return to the ring to take on Saul Corral (21-7, 12 KOs) of Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico in a 10-round welterweight fight. The Bronx’s Eddie “E-boy” Gomez will also be participating in a 10-round fight defending his IBF North American Welterweight Title against Mexican fighter Dario “Maczio” Ferman (13-1, 10 KOs).
“The preliminary undercard for Canelo vs. Smith features a string of talented and exciting fighters to watch in the ring from rising welterweight contenders to young, thirsty lightweight and bantamweight prospects,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “On Sept. 17, Sadam Ali is determined to prove that he is still a force to be reckoned with after a difficult loss to Jessie Vargas earlier this year, and Eddie Gomez will show the fans that he is a threat not to be ignored in the hot welterweight division. Additionally, we have some of Texas’s most promising prospects on the card with Vergil Ortiz, Hector Tanajara, Jr. and Joshua Franco and as fight fans know – some of the best fighters in the sport have come from the Lone Star State. In addition to an exciting undercard, Canelo vs. Smith will be an event that celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month with activities to enjoy and celebrate Canelo reclaiming Mexican Independence Day weekend for fight fans.”
Kovalev vs. Ward Tickets On Sale September 2nd
Tickets for the most anticipated fight of the year go on sale to the public on Friday, Sept. 2 at 11:00 a.m. PT. The Saturday, Nov. 19 showdown between No. 2 Pound-for-Pound* and WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) and No. 4 Pound for-Pound* and Two-Time World Champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) will crown the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Tickets start at $55 and are available on axs.com and the T-Mobile Arena box office.
Kovalev vs. Ward “Pound for Pound” is presented by Main Events, Roc Nation Sports, Krusher Promotions and Andre Ward Promotions and sponsored by the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. The championship event will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View® beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.
Luis Ortiz Splits with Golden Boy
Luis Ortiz has split with Golden Boy Promotions and will now be a promotional free agent.
Golden Boy Promotions spokesman Stefan Friedman told ESPN, “Golden Boy Promotions and Luiz Ortiz amicably parted ways. We are proud of the work that Golden Boy and Luis accomplished together culminating in his WBA Heavyweight interim championship victory and subsequent title defense. We wish Luis and his team all the best in the future.”
Former NFL Player Ray Edwards Signs with GH3 Promotions
GH3 Promotions is honored to announce the signing of undefeated heavyweight Ray Edwards to an exclusive promotional contract.
Edwards of Cincinnati, Ohio has a perfect mark of 11-0-1 with seven knockouts.
After a successful seven-year career as a defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League, Edwards has made professional boxing his full-time occupation.
The 31 year-old Edwards actually turned professional May 20, 2011 when the NFL players were entrenched in a lockout.
“Ray has shown that he has the physical tools to become a top heavyweight,” said GH3 Promotions CEO Vito Mielnicki.
“He has a ton of upside and with heavyweights, there is a chance to become a star very quickly here in the States. I think that because he has competed at a high level in the NFL, he has a chance to do that in boxing. We are looking to get him three fights before the end of the year. He is 6’6 255 lbs. and we will move him like like most heavyweights, steady but right and no rush. He will be at the top when it’s time. He is class act, well spoken and when he walks in a room u see his presence.
“I always loved boxing. I started doing in at as an off-season workout and just really enjoyed it,” said Edwards.
In his pro debut, Edwards won a four-round unanimous decision over Tyrone Gibson in Hinckley, Minnesota.
Edwards, who did not have an amateur fight, has increased his level of opposition and is coming off a 2nd round stoppage over Steven Tyner on August 26 in Minneapolis.
“It is a big deal for me to sign with GH3 Promotions,” continued Edwards. “Vito Mielnicki has a good stable with Antoine Douglas and Jerry Odom and this is the type of step I was looking for.”
Because Edwards was known for his prowess on the gridiron, his transition into the ring was not taken seriously.
“I was looked down upon because I was a football player. I have the right team around that will help develop my style. I have been in camp wiith (WBC Heavyweight champion) Deontay Wilder and I held my own, and I have confidence in myself.”
In what he thinks his move from the NFL to boxing can help persuade kids to start boxing, where in the recent past, a lot of the good young athletes have chosen other sports.
“I can help kids be passionate about boxing. Kids haven’t dedicated themselves and learned their crafts. People just see the finished products of fighters. I don’t listen to the negative comments and have good people around me.”
“I just want to stay busy and keep winning. Let me be great. In do time, people will see the finished product.”
In what playing at the highest level of professional sports, he can take into boxing, Edwards notes, “I p
played defensive line and I was focused on the ball. So I have learned to tune things out. It’s that tunnel vision that playing in front of 100,000 people, you learn that. Not to listen to the crowd and stay focused.”
When asked if what his former NFL fraternity thinks of his move to boxing, Edwards stated, “I still get support from my friends in the league. They are always asking when and where I am fighting, so I feel when the fights get higher profile, It will become a really big thing.”
Edwards will fight on September 15 against an opponent to be named in Philadelphia. The bout will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
Sampson Lewkowicz Says Peralta No Longer a Cab Driver After Huge Upset Victory Over Robert Guerrero
Sampson Lewkowicz, promoter of suddenly red-hot welterweight David Emanuel “El Pirata” Peralta, says big changes are on the way for his cab-driving Argentinean fighter.
On Saturday night, Peralta (26-2-1, 14 KOs), a 70:1 underdog, came out of retirement to win a surprise 12-round split decision over former world champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
The victory, televised nationally on PBC on Spike, has changed 33-year-old Peralta’s fortunes in the talent-rich welterweight division.
“He is no longer a cab driver,” laughed a happy Lewkowicz, post-fight. “David came out of retirement to take this fight when I offered it to him. Now his life will change. He will go back to being a full-time fighter and I will find him another big fight to win.”
Lewkowicz, credited with discovering Manny Pacquiao and Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez among many others, says his Argentinean fighter was taken lightly because he had never fought outside his homeland, but he knew what he could do.
“David is very talented fighter and very tough,” said Lewkowicz. “We knew Guerrero was in a tough battle against him, but no one else did. And I thank the great champion Robert Guerrero for giving him the opportunity. He and his team have our utmost respect.”
Lewkowicz says he will get to work finding Peralta another big opportunity as soon as possible.
“You have to like David. He is very humble and honest and he fought his heart out and now everybody knows his name. He’s a special fighter and I’m very happy to be his promoter. He was only retired because he thought nothing would ever happen in his career. He’s back now and he’ll be in the gym full-time. His cab can wait. I will find him a big fight against another top contender and try to get him in line for a world title shot. Or if Robert Guerrero feels like he wants an immediate rematch, we would give it to him. He gave us the chance.”
Mason Menard Calls Out Terry Flanagan
Coming off another impressive SHOWTIME-televised knockout last Friday, Louisiana-based lightweight contender “Rock Hard Mighty” Mason Menard is setting his sights on WBO Lightweight Champion Terry Flanagan.
“I would be more than happy to fight Terry Flanagan,” said Menard. “It would be a great fight. He’s a skillful southpaw, but he is touchable. With my power, that makes for a cat and mouse-type fight. I think sooner or later I would catch up with him.”
Menard (32-1, 24 KOs) of Rayne, Louisiana, was last seen taking out the capable Bahodir Mamadjonov in nine rounds in the co-main event of a ShoBox: The New Generation broadcast from Rochester, New York last Friday night. Before that, the 27-year-old scored a “Knockout of the Year” candidate over then undefeated Eudy Bernardo.
“He’s a star in the making with all the momentum in the world behind him,” said Menard’s promoter, Greg Cohen. “Mason is now the WBO NABO Champion and climbing up their ratings. Now that Felix Verdejo (whom Flanagan was supposed to fight) has been injured, I think Menard stepping in would make for a great match-up.”
However, Menard says he has his doubts that Manchester’s Flanagan will take the bait.
“Let’s just be real, after what I did to the last skillful southpaw (Mamadjonov) with only two weeks’ notice, I doubt he wants these problems.”
DiBella Entertainment Signs Fernandez and Roman
Looking to add to its ever growing stable of young, up-and-coming talent, DiBella Entertainment (DBE) has announced the signing of undefeated Spanish prospect Jon Fernandez and Puerto Rican amateur standout Jose Roman to exclusive long-term promotional contracts. Both Fernandez and Roman will be making their DBE debuts on the upcoming special edition Broadway Boxing card in the Premier Ballroom at the beautiful Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT, next Thursday, September 1. Broadway Boxing is proudly sponsored by Nissan of Queens, OPTYX, Azad Watches, and Christos Steakhouse.
“I am happy to be coming back to Foxwoods with another great card, and to have the opportunity to showcase these two new additions to the DBE roster,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “Promoting Sergio Martinez was one of the highlights of my career and I am proud to say that he and I have forged a lifelong friendship. Sergio told me that Jon is one of the best young fighters he has seen in a very long time, and I look forward to helping build the career of Jon Fernandez here in the States with my friend and great champion Maravilla.”
Regarding Roman, DiBella continued, “Jose Roman was a terrific amateur, and gained invaluable experience fighting on the Puerto Rican national team. He was one of the most sought out amateurs on the island and we are thrilled for him to call DBE his home. We are looking forward to featuring him in the US, as well as in Puerto Rico, and building him in front of the huge Puerto Rican fan base here on the East Coast.”
At just 20 years of age, the junior lightweight Fernandez (8-0, 6 KO’s) is one of the most promising young prospects to come out of Spain in years. Standing at 5’11”, Fernandez is extremely tall for the 130lb. division and has devastating power in both hands. Fernandez caught the eye of former middleweight kingpin and future Hall-of-Famer Sergio Martinez when he was still fighting as an amateur. Martinez immediately saw star potential and signed Fernandez to his promotional company, MaravillaBox Promotions, in 2015 and soon after began courting the young Fernandez to his own former promoter Lou DiBella. DiBella and Martinez made things official in June, signing Fernandez to a co-promotional deal at this year’s Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) awards dinner, where DiBella received the James A. Farley award for honesty and integrity in boxing.
“This is a dream come true. I still cannot believe it,” said Fernandez. “I am very grateful to Lou DiBella, one of the most important and prestigious promoters in the United States, for the trust and belief that he has placed in me and to Sergio (Martinez) for the potential he saw in me as a boxer. Boxing is my life and I want to be the best. Following in the footsteps of Sergio and becoming a world champion like him is my lifelong dream.”
“I have been watching Jon fight since his amateur days and truly believe that the sky is the limit for him,” said Maravilla Martinez. “With each passing fight, he continues to show vast improvement and I believe that he has the ability to become not only a future champion but a future star in this sport. Jon has to stay focused and continue to work, to learn and to give everything he has to this sport. For Jon to have the opportunity to sign with Lou at just 20 years old, an opportunity that I did not have until I was already 32, is amazing and he has to take full advantage of it. Jon has to destroy everything that is put in his path and with time, patience and hard work, he will achieve greatness in this sport.”
A native of the boxing rich city of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Roman began boxing at 13 years of age amassing a stellar 124-17 record along the way. Roman joined the Puerto Rican national team in 2012, winning three consecutive national championships from 2013-2015.
“I couldn’t be more excited to get my career underway behind such a great promoter as Lou. DiBella has done tremendous work with so many great fighters over the years, and I am looking forward to growing and shining under the DiBella Entertainment banner. It is every fighter’s dream to fight in the US, and now I have the opportunity to make my pro debut here, and for that I want to thank my manager Ricardo Figueroa and my trainer Emilio Lozado for getting me this amazing opportunity,” said Roman.