Boxing Insider Notebook: Pacquiao, Helenius, Alvarez, Chavez, Chisora, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of March 28th to April 4th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Pacquiao to Possibly Face Jeff Horn
Bob Arum recently stated that Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn may face each other in the summer after Pacquiao abandoned the planned fight to pursue a showdown with Amir Khan.
This fight is being discussed to take place in Australia, but no set date or venue has been established.
Arum is currently working on finalizing the deal, but nothing has been set in stone yet.
Helenius and Chisora Ready to Renew Rivalry
Robert Helenius (24-1, 15 KOs) and Dereck Chisora (26-7, 18 KOs) came face-to-face for the first time since their controversial December 2011 showdown today at the Hotel Kamp in Helsinki, Finland as they prepare to renew their rivalry on May 27.
Helenius was awarded a split decision victory in their first bout, despite many people believing the British boxer did enough to win. Chisora now has the chance to settle the score when they return to the Hartwall Arena to contest the WBC Silver World Heavyweight title in a hotly anticipated rematch.
Chisora is coming off the back of another contentious decision in a ‘fight of the year’ contender versus countryman Dillian Whyte, while Helenius has scored back-to-back knockout victories against Konstantin Airich and Gonzalo Omar Basile.
‘’I don’t think Robert took me seriously last time,’’ said Chisora. ‘’But this time he will need to train harder than ever. I’m going to take him to places he has never been before, and I’m going to stop him. I’m not playing around. This guy is in trouble. When I come back to Helsinki, I’m going to be in war mode.”
‘’I’m looking forward to this fight,’’ said Helenius. ‘’Dereck is a tough fighter and I think we will put on a great show for the fans. My hand was raised after our first fight and I can’t see any other outcome this time. This is a big opportunity for me. A victory will bring me closer to a World title fight, and that is my goal.’’
‘’This is going to be the biggest fight on Finnish soil in recent history,’’ said promoter Nisse Sauerland. ‘’It’s a fight that’s been six years in the making, and we’re delighted to be back in Helsinki and back at the Hartwall Arena.’’
Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. Coming Live to the Big Screen on May 6th
Cinemas across the U.S. will play host to a Cinco de Mayo weekend mega-fight with a pulse-pounding live broadcast event featuring two of Mexico’s finest boxers: “Canelo Álvarez vs. Julio César Chávez, Jr.” in a historic showdown that will rival the biggest fights in Mexico’s rich boxing history. Two-division world champion Canelo Álvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) will square off against former WBC World Middleweight Champion Julio César Chávez, Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KOs) in a 12-round battle.
Presented by Fathom Events and Golden Boy Promotions, the one-day cinema broadcast is set for Saturday, May 6 at 6:00 p.m. PT / 7:00 p.m. MT / 8:00 p.m. CT / 9:00 p.m. ET, live from the sold-out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In addition to catching all the in-ring action up close and personal, event attendees will receive an exclusive commemorative fight mini-poster.
Tickets for “Canelo Álvarez vs. Julio César Chávez, Jr.” can be purchased beginning Friday, April 7, 2017 online by visiting www.FathomEvents.com or at participating theater box offices. Fans throughout the U.S. will be able to enjoy the event in select movie theaters through Fathom’s Digital Broadcast Network (DBN). A complete list of theater locations will be available April 7 on the Fathom Event’s website (theaters and participants are subject to change).
On May 5, 2016, Álvarez celebrated T-Mobile Arena’s first boxing event with a knockout of Amir “King” Khan. Álvarez last fought on September 17, 2016, knocking out the previously undefeated WBO junior middleweight champion Liam Smith. Chávez, Jr. was last in action on December 10, 2016, when he secured a unanimous decision victory over highly-regarded German fighter Dominik Britsch.
Álvarez says, “Julio César Chávez, Sr. is one of the best, if not the best fighter in history. I grew up watching him and learned a lot from him, but that won’t have any influence when I fight his son… I want to remind you that when two Mexican fighters face-off, a spectacular show is guaranteed, and I can assure you that May 6 will be no exception.”
“This is going to be a tough fight. Every fight is important, and this one especially because it is between two Mexicans fighting each other for the glory,” Julio César Chávez, Jr. said. “I’m going to win, but my country will too, because this is the fight that boxing needs.”
Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions said, “Mexican boxing is the best, and when you have these two top boxers who want to give the best to the fans, we couldn’t pass it up. Canelo, the biggest boxing star, will take on not only a former world champion in Julio César Chávez, Jr., but the son of the biggest star in the history of boxing in Mexico.”
“There’s nothing like seeing these warriors – Canelo Álvarez and Julio César Chávez, Jr. – do battle, larger than life, on the big screen,” John Rubey, CEO of Fathom Events said. “It’s like having a real ring-side experience in your local cinema surrounded by other fans!”
Samuel Clarkson Laser-Focused on Interim WBA World Title Fight
A laser-focused Samuel “Main Event” Clarkson (19-3, 11 KOs) will step onto the world stage on Friday, April 14, as the Uprising Promotions light heavyweight faces unbeaten prospect Dmitry Bivol (9-0, 7 KOs) for the Interim WBA World Championship. The bout will serve as the feature attraction of ShoBox: The Next Generation, with the fight taking place at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C.
“Preparation for this fight has been awesome. I’m ready, and I’m excited,” said Clarkson, who moved his training camp to New York for this bout. “I will definitely owe this victory to New York City and of course Uprising Promotions, Ronson Frank and my dad. This was a very hard camp, but it has made me mentally become a stronger person. Physically, I’m definitely a stronger person. Going through life from this day forward, I’m just a different person.”
A Texas native, Clarkson and his father/head trainer, Samuel, Sr., opted to move this camp to New York where Uprising Promotions President Ronson Frank has been able to secure sparring with many of the top prospects in the region.
“Preparation in New York has been awesome,” Clarkson continued. “I’m not taking anything away from my people in Dallas, but I came out here and got exactly what I wanted. I stepped out of my comfort zone, and we’re ready for war now. All the hard work is just about done.”
Clarkson has gone unbeaten since joining Uprising Promotions and is currently riding a nine-bout winning streak. Among those victories included a decision over former world title challenger Cedric Agnew and knockouts of highly touted prospects Jerry Odom and Lavarn Harvell on ShoBox. The 26-year-old pugilist has been continually improving and showing significant growth since signing with Uprising Promotions in 2015, and a newfound dedication to his craft now leads him into the biggest opportunity of his professional career on April 14.
“Coming here and being out of our comfort zone has been great for two key reasons,” said Samuel Clarkson, Sr., who has worked alongside his son throughout his amateur and professional campaigns. “For one, this has enabled Samuel to fully prepare mentally. Two, the quality of sparring we have gotten has been tremendous. We have sparred with some top quality guys here in New York. Being embraced by all of these highly skilled fighters in New York has just made this whole thing a great experience. We’re really thankful to have this opportunity.”
Uprising Promotions President Ronson Frank, who initially started the promotion in 2013 to help himself get fights as an undefeated light heavyweight prospect, has aggressively build the foundation for his company over the past four years and feels very confident as its lead stablemate heads into this world title opportunity.
“Camp has been great, and everything has gone very smoothly,” said Frank. “We have a nice, strong game plan, and we have put in all of the preparation necessary to be ready for a fight like this. We are good to go and can’t wait until the fight.”
Standing opposite Clarkson on April 14 will be Bivol, who had an extensive amateur career that he finished off with a record of 285-15. The 26-year-old won the Interim WBA Light Heavyweight Title last May in Moscow with a unanimous decision over previously undefeated Felix Valera.
“We have some tricks up our sleeves,” Clarkson concluded. “Fans are definitely going to see an amazing fight. Anybody who knows me, you know I’m going for the knockout. If it shows up early, we’re taking it. If it’s later in the rounds, then that’s where we’ll take it. I’m just coming, and I’m going to be vicious. I’m always aggressive. I’m not afraid of this guy, so people are going to see a really exciting fight from bell to bell.”
Diego De La Hoya to Headline Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN on May 18th
Looking to continue his meteoric rise up the Super Bantamweight division, undefeated WBC Youth World Champion Diego De La Hoya (17-0, 9 KOs) will headline the Thursday, May 18 edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN in a 10-round battle against crafty veteran Erik Ruiz (16-6-1, 6 KOs) at Casino Del Sol Resort in Tucson, Arizona and televised on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes starting at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST.
“I’m excited and thankful to be headlining Golden Boy Promotions’ new venture with ESPN in Tucson!” said Diego De La Hoya. “I have a tough opponent in Erik Ruiz, but I’ll be more than ready for him! I know ESPN is expecting great matchups from Golden Boy, and this fight is no exception!”
“I am thrilled to be getting the opportunity to fight Diego De La Hoya,” said Erik Ruiz. “I’ve had many ups and
downs in my career and I know a win against Diego can help erase some of those bumps. This fight has given me a renewed motivation. Only in boxing can one win change your life and a win against De La Hoya can change mine for the better. This will be a great fight for the fans!”
“We are thrilled to be adding Casino Del Sol Resort as one of our designated ESPN stops as an effort to ensure that fight fans around the country have the opportunity to see top talent give all they have in the ring,” said Golden Boy Promotions Chairman and CEO Oscar De La Hoya. “Diego is a natural in the ring and he’ll do anything to make sure he takes back home that belt. On the other hand, Erik Ruiz will look to vindicate himself, and will not hold back on Diego.”
US Olympian Nico Hernandez Building Wichita into a Fight Town
Last Saturday night at Kansas Star Arena in nearby Mulvane, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Nico Hernandez planted a seed in hopes of growing Wichita into a fight town, as world champions Terence Crawford and Deontay Wilder have already accomplished in the respective hometowns, Omaha (NE) and Birmingham (AL).
More than 3,100 fans purchased tickets Hernandez’ successfully professional debut, stopping Pat Gutierrez in the fourth round. To put that attendance figure in its proper perspective, Wichita has a population of less than 400,000 and in this hoop-crazed state, the appropriately named “KO Night Boxing: History Begins” went head-to-head with the popular Kansas Jayhawks quintet playing on national television in the Elite Eight of the NCAA college basketball championship, as well as The Wichita Force playing at home in indoor football.
The 21-year-old Hernandez is practically a sports franchise in Wichita, second only to the Wichita State University (WSU) men’s basketball team. The city turned out in force at a parade honoring Hernandez upon his return home from the Olympics and WSU awarded him an open-ended four-year college scholarship.
“The show was a huge success and Nico, as a pro fighter, produced a more complete body of work than we had expected,” Hernandez’ promoter John Andersen (KO Night Boxing) said. “I was very impressed. His amateur background converted to an even better pro style. It really showed his potential and that’s one of the primary reasons we signed him. We really believed in Nico. He is the only fighter we have signed, right now; Nico is our stable! We see things from a different angle than big-time promoters. We understood that he’s a hometown hero, so we had him headline at home his pro debut on national television (CBS Sports Network). We produce our shows on television and we enjoy telling stories like Nico’s. We’d like to come right back to Wichita with Nico fighting in June.”
Lifelong Kansas Sean Wheelock, a non-paid member of the Kansas Athletic Commission that oversees boxing, in addition to calling last Saturday’s fights as a member of the KO Night Boxing announcing team on CBS Sports Network, has a unique perspective on the significance of last Saturday evening’s in terms of local boxing history.
“It was huge for Kansas boxing,” Wheelock explained, “the biggest show in this state since the Tommy Morrison Era (early-to-mid 1990’s). Morrison was an adopted son, though. Nico was born here and he has a deep investment in the Wichita community. Drawing 3000-plus for his pro debut, in a non-boxing market, was phenomenal and he has the potential to do what Crawford has done in Omaha and Wilder in Birmingham. Boxing has strong roots in Kansas and across the Midwest, but MMA has taken over and lately, most boxing in Kansas has been on hybrid shows with MMA and kickboxing.
“Fans were loudly chanting, ‘Nico’ and ‘316’ (Wichita’s area code) before, during and after his fight. I’ve never heard fans chanting for a city like they did, ‘Wichita’, for an individual athlete. And they were also chanting ‘USA’. As a native Kansas, I’m proud that this state has become more ethnically and culturally diverse with more Hispanics living in Wichita. Nico is engaged in the Hispanic community and he is a fantastic kid, too. Because of his personality and fighting style, he can draw locally from Wichita, throughout all of Kansas, and nationally among Hispanics and Americans across the country because of his accomplishment in the Olympics.”
Hernandez is also fighting in one of the hottest divisions in boxing — 115-pound junior bantamweight/super flyweight — showcasing name fighters such as Naoya Inoue, Roman Gonzalez, Carlos Cuadras, Juan Francisco Estrada and recent addition Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Conspicuously absent, however, are top 20 ranked American fighters in this weight class, excluding 36-year-old Brian Viloria, the four-time, two-division (junior flyweight and flyweight) world champion. The opportunity is right there for Hernandez to quickly establish himself as the preeminent American boxer in this weight class.
“There’s no reason for Nico to fight outside of Wichita for a couple of years as he develops,” Andersen noted. “I feel that he can win a regional title next year. Our goal is to have him in a world title fight position within three years. Our goal is to get him 13 to 15 fights and then promote a super fight in Wichita. He started out in a six-round fight. I think he’ll only have a couple more and then move up to eight-round bouts.
“Nico doesn’t waste a lot of punches, so the number of scheduled rounds won’t be a problem for him. Another fighter would have punched himself out in two rounds, fighting at home in front of a crowed like he had supporting him, but Nico showed tremendous poise, settling down and putting his punches together very well. He didn’t chase Gutierrez, he effectively cut off the ring, and his powerful body attack was something he didn’t do as an amateur. We wanted to see how he reacted to resistance and he passed that test with flying colors.”
Andersen noted that his company has promoted several successful shows, noting the big difference is last weekend’s show featured a world-class fighter in Hernandez. “Making the Olympics was a big deal for Nico,” Andersen added, “whether he medaled or not. Nico is to us what Manny Pacquiao is to Top Rank, ‘Canelo’ Alvarez to Golden Boy. We’re lucky to start out with a fighter like Nico. Fighting in Wichita was risk for everybody but it’s already paying dividends.
“We know who and what we are as a promotional company. Nico is our top priority, our only fighter right now, and now we have a great opportunity to build off last weekend’s success. We give Nico all the attention he deserves and he’s going to take advantage of this situation. And we also discovered that there’s some other talented boxers in this market. Whit Hayden did a wonderful job making very competitive fights. That’s his history, he never has blowouts. Whit is one of the most knowledgeable people I know in boxing. He’s the perfect matchmaker to guide Nico’s career, along with Nico’s father (head trainer) Lewis Hernandez, who we work closely with in many ways, in and out of the ring.”