Boxing Insider Notebook: Pacquiao, Horn, Eubank, Abraham, Joe Smith Jr., and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of June 28th to July 5th covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
ESPN’s Telecast of Battle of Brisbane Between Jeff Horn and Manny Pacquiao Highest Rated Boxing Telecast Since 1995
ESPN’s live telecast Saturday, July 1, of the “Battle of Brisbane” (10 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET) averaged a total live audience (television and streaming) of 3.1 million viewers across the ESPN and ESPN Deportes networks, according to Fast National ratings from Nielsen. It was the highest-rated and most-watched boxing telecast on cable television since 2006 and ESPN’s highest-rated boxing telecast since 1995.
The WBO World Welterweight Championship main event between Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs), the Filipino legend and boxing’s only eight-division world champion, against undefeated No. 1 contender and Brisbane’s favorite son Jeff “The Hornet” Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs) (12 midnight to 1 a.m. ET) peaked during the final half hour of their fight with 4.4 million viewers across both networks. Horn defeated Pacquiao by a controversial unanimous decision.
On ESPN, the telecast averaged a 1.6 household rating and 2,812,000 viewers, making it the highest-rated and most-watched boxing telecast on cable TV since 2006. Carlos Baldomir vs. Arturo Gatti on HBO on July 22, 2006, earned a 1.6 household rating.
“The Battle of Brisbane” was also the highest-rated boxing telecast on ESPN’s networks since 1995. Danell Nicholson vs. Darren Hayden on ESPN, on December 21, 1995 earned a 1.7 household rating.
Highest Ratings for Boxing Telecasts on Cable in Last 10 Years
DATE NETWORK MAIN FIGHT US HH Rating
7/01/2017 ESPN Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn 1.6
9/26/2009 HBO Vitali Klitschko vs. Chris Arreola 1.4
4/19/2008 HBO Bernard Hopkins vs. Joe Calzaghe 1.3
5/03/2008 HBO Oscar De La Hoya vs. Steve Forbes 1.3
5/09/2015 HBO Canelo Alvarez vs. James Kirkland 1.3
“The Battle of Brisbane” on ESPN Deportes averaged 206,000 viewers, including 308,000 viewers in the final half hour of the event, making it the most-watched fight on ESPN Deportes since Leo Santa Cruz vs. Abner Mares on August 29, 2015, which had an average minute viewing audience of 355,00
ESPN’s telecast had a streaming average minute audience of 78,000, with 392,000 unique viewers, and 14.4 million total minutes streamed. Based on all three measures, the fight was the most-streamed boxing event on record on ESPN’s networks. On ESPN Deportes, the telecast had a streaming average minute audience of 1,400, with 7,800 unique viewers, and 253,000 total minutes streamed. Based on all three measures, the fight was the most-streamed boxing event on record on ESPN Deportes. Streaming provided a combined additional 2.6% lift on top of the television audience for both networks.
“The Battle of Brisbane” is available to stream now on the ESPN app.
Chris Eubank Jr. vs. King Arthur Abraham to Air on PPV in the United States
One of boxing’s most polarizing and exciting young fighters faces a dangerous three-time, two-division world champion, as Chris Eubank Jr. defends his International Boxing Organization (IBO) Super Middleweight Championship against “King” Arthur Abraham on Saturday, July 15, available to watch on Pay Per View in the United States, starting at 2:30 pm ET / 11:30 am PT, live from SES Arena, Wembley in London, England.
“Eubank Jr. vs. Abraham”, promoted by Poxon Sports in association with Team Sauerland, is presented in the United States by Integrated Sports Media and Protocol Sports Marketing, Ltd.
Integrated Sports Media will distribute “Eubank Jr. vs. Abraham” live in the United States on cable and satellite PPV via iN Demand, Vubiquity, and DISH for a suggested retail price of only $24.95. In Canada, the event will be available on television to fight fans that subscribe to premium pay television network Super Channel.
Outside of North America, “Eubank Jr. vs. Abraham” is being distributed to broadcasters worldwide by leading boxing television rights distribution firm, Protocol Sports Marketing Ltd.
Only 27 years old, the British-born Eubank Jr. (24-1, 19 KOs) enters the contest with less experience than Abraham but with power, a mean streak, and meaningful boxing pedigree. Eubank Jr. has won 16 of his last 17 fights by stoppage.
His father, Chris Eubank Sr. (45-5-2, 23 KOs), is a former World Boxing Organization (WBO) super middleweight and middleweight world champion. Eubank Sr. co-trains and manages his son, in addition to being an idiosyncratic presence in and around his son’s fights, and the British fight scene.
A former Interim World Boxing Association (WBA) Middleweight World Champion, Eubank Jr. captured the IBO title this past February, stopping Renold Quinlan (11-1, 7 KOs) in the 10th round. His July 15th fight versus Abraham will mark the confident young champion’s first IBO title defense.
“Abraham is a strong, come forward fighter,” Eubank Jr. said, “but he’s one-dimensional. He’s very good in that one dimension, but a one-dimensional fighter cannot beat me. I see a lot of holes in his game and I’m going to exploit those holes ruthlessly.”
The IBO No. 1 rated Abraham (46-5, 30 KOs) fights out of Berlin, Germany. “King” Arthur is a two-time WBO super middleweight world champion, as well as a former International Boxing Federation (IBF) middleweight world champion. The powerful Armenian has a sensational 18-4 (9 KOs) record in world championships, 7-4 (4 KOs) against former or current world champions. Noted victims during his 17-year professional career reads like a Who’s Who of Boxing in the 160- and 168-pound divisions, including world champions Raul Marquez, Hector Javier Velazco, Jermain Taylor, Robert Stieglitz thrice, and Giovanni De Carolis. Abraham has also defeated world-class opponents such as Martin Murray, Paul Smith twice, Lajuan Simon, Edison Miranda twice, Khoren Gevor, Sebastian Demers, Kofi Jantuah, Kingsley Ikeke, Robin Krasniqi and Howard Eastman.
Four of Abraham’s five career losses have been to world champions Carl Froch, Andre Ward, Stieglitz and Gilberto Ramirez. Stieglitz is the only opponent to stop Abraham, who has won 10 of his last 11 fights, the most recent a 12-round unanimous decision win over Krasniqi (46-4, 17 KOs) this past April in Germany.
“I will make sure that I’m in top shape and ready to secure a great victory,” Abraham remarked. “I know Chris Eubank, Jr. is a good fighter, like his dad. I’m expecting a tough fight, but I am confident I will beat him.”
Also airing live is the 12-round International Boxing Federation (IBF) Featherweight World Championship match as popular Welshman “Lightning” Lee Selby (24-1, 9 KOs) makes his third defense of the title he captured May 30, 2015, when he won an eighth-round technical decision over previously unbeaten Evgeny Gradovich (19-0-1, 9 KOs).
Selby will be challenged by former WBA Featherweight World Champion Jonathan Victor “Yoni” Barros (41-4-1, 22 KOs), of Argentina, who is the IBF No. 1 contender.
Additional PPV fights will soon be announced.
Taras Shelestyuk and Ruben Villa Defend Unbeaten Records on Saturday Night
In the “Locked n’ Loaded” main event, welterweight Taras “Real Deal” Shelestyuk (16-0, 10 KOs) made quick work of Jesus Alvarez Rodriguez (15-3, 11 KOs) by knocking him out in the third round Saturday night from Omega Products International in Sacramento, Calif.
Shelestyuk, who is ranked No. 5 by the WBO, predicted a knockout win in his prefight interview with the Olympic bronze medalist (London 2012) saying he planned to be aggressive from the start.
“I didn’t want this fight going the distance,” said Shelestyuk, who attributes the aggressiveness to new trainer Joel Diaz. “Joel and I worked on increasing our punch output and it showed in this fight.”
Shelestyuk, who is from the Ukraine but now makes his home in Los Angeles, rocked Rodriguez in the first round. He connected on a two-punch combination that sent the Mexican to the canvas. In the third round, Shelestyuk struck early and often, earning the knockout win at the 2:05 mark.
Top featherweight prospect Ruben Villa (7-0, 4 KOs) of Salinas, Calif. delivered a beating to overmatched veteran Jonathan Alcantara (7-16-2, 1 KO) of El Salvador. Villa, who swept all three scorecards (40-36), looked equally comfortable fighting on the outside or in the pocket.
“I think this fight showed how versatile I am,” Villa said. “I boxed him well and mixed it up inside without taking any hits. It was a solid performance.”
Villa, indeed, looked the part of an elite prospect. He was aggressive the entire fight, yet was extremely disciplined on the defensive end.
“There’s no doubt I frustrated him,” Villa continued. “I could tell he was having a hard time. I never let him relax.”
Shelestyuk and Villa are co-promoted by Banner Promotions and Thompson Boxing
Joe Smith Jr.-The Light Heavyweight Division is Back
Following his recent knockout of boxing legend BERNARD HOPKINS, Long Island fan favorite JOE SMITH JR. moved right into the mix in the light heavyweight division, boxing’s deepest and most exciting.
Working full-time as a union laborer in the New York City area, Smith (23-1-0, 19 KO’s) will take a short break from wielding the sledgehammer as he finalizes training for his upcoming 10-round showdown with fellow highly ranked contender SULLIVAN BARRERA, (19-1-0, 14 KO’s), on Saturday, July 15 from The Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles and telecast live on HBO’s Boxing After Dark (9:50 p.m. ET/PT).
Most recently a new #1 Pound-for-Pound in boxing from the light heavyweight division was heralded as ANDRE WARD defeated SERGEY KOVALEV for the second time on June 17, defending the WBA/IBF/WBO Light Heavyweight Titles. On June 3, longtime WBC Light Heavyweight Champion ADONIS STEVENSON stopped highly ranked contender ANDRZEJ FONFARA.
In addition to those two champions the division is filled with world class fighters and highly regarded contenders including ARTUR BETERBIEV, DMITRY BIVOL, OLEKSANDR GVOZDYK and ELEIDER ALVAREZ .
“It’s true the division is truly heating up and I’m honored to be a part of it,” said the 27-year-old Smith Jr. “The winner of my upcoming fight moves right into the top of the mix in the division.”
“With my last two knockouts I have the full confidence that the sky is the limit for me in this division, I want to achieve my dream of becoming a world champion.”
Smith Jr. is promoted by JOE DEGUARDIA’S STAR BOXING who has developed the heavy handed Long Island native over the last few years into a world ranked contender and holder of the WBC International Light Heavyweight Title.
“Timing is always very important when bringing along a fighter to a higher level,” said DeGuardia. “We started working together a few years ago and our plan was to continue developing Joe’s talents and present him with the right opportunities for success. This is a formula we’ve used many times in the past in building fighters the right way.”
“When the opportunity came to fight Andrzej Fonfara we believed as a team that Joe was ready and he was spectacular in the first round knockout victory. The same with fighting Bernard Hopkins, it was a great opportunity and Joe put on another star making performance.”
“With the Sullivan Barrera fight the stakes are even higher but we feel this is another great opportunity for Joe, back on HBO which has built many stars over the last forty years.”
Oscar Negrete Overpowers Sergio Frias to Take Home NABF Bantamweight Championship
In one of his best performances yet, the still undefeated and newly crowned NABF Bantamweight Champion Oscar “El Jaguar” Negrete (17-0, 7 KOs) overpowered the rugged and resilient Sergio “Frio” Frias (18-7-2, 9 KOs) with a technical knockout victory in the main event on Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN live from Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
“I want Caballero next,” said Negrete, calling out Randy “El Matador” Caballero who was scheduled to fight in the main event originally. “Tonight with Sergio Frias, I knew I was winning the fight; it was more of waiting for either the knock out to come about or get the unanimous decision. I felt like my jabs were the most effective, because after watching his fight against Archinean, our team noticed that he didn’t move his head a lot. There’s a couple more of these belts that I need to add to my career.”
“El Jaguar” was focused and in control of the fight, catching Frias on the ropes in several stand and deliver exchanges attacking the body consistently. In the last couple of rounds, Frias attempted to claw his way back, nailing Negrete with a couple of uppercuts that stunned “El Jaguar”. It was a heavy exchange in the eighth round that cause Frias to become unstable, and before the ninth round could commence, Frias’s corner called the fight, awarding the technical knockout win to Negrete.
A slew of VIPs attended the card, which marked the 50th show that Golden Boy Promotions has put on at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino including former IBF and WBO Featherweight Champion, Mexican actor and circus performer Jorge “El Maromero” Paez, NABF Featherweight Champion Joseph “Jojo” Diaz, Jr., Antonio “Relentless” Orozco, Jesus “El Renuente” Soto Karass, Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera, and Vyacheslav “Lion Heart” Shabranskyy.
In the co-main event, super lightweight contender Ryan “Blue Chip” Martin (19-0, 11 KOs) of Chattanooga, Tennessee participated in a 10-round slugfest against Marcos “El Tigre” Jimenez (22-8, 15 KOs) of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The two fighters went toe-to-toe with each other, however Martin managed to outclass his opponent.
“He was a tough, very defensive fighter,” said Ryan Martin. “It was hard for me to get him to open up because he would only throw a shot once he knew he could land it clean. This was my first time going the full 10 rounds, and by the eight, I was like ‘darn, he’s still standing?!’ Overall, I felt that I could be more consistent with my style, and I wish I would have listened to my coaches more while I was in the ring, but I am satisfied with my performance and despite not getting the knock out, I’m glad that I got the win.”
Heavy-handed Genaro “El Conde” Gamez (5-0, 4 KOs) from San Diego, Calif. demolished Devon Jones (2-5, 1 KO) of Fairfield, Calif. in a scheduled four-round match-up of lightweights that only made it to the 1:04 mark of the first round. “El Conde” handled his business with two knockdowns: the first with a left hook, the second a finishing blow of an overhand right.
“We were the swing bout, so I tried to send everyone home as early as I could,” said Genaro Gamez. “Of course I’m so excited for this win, I’m trying to keep my knock out streak alive.”
Retaining his unblemished record and champion title, WBC Youth Super Featherweight Champion Lamont Roach, Jr. (14-0, 5 KOs) dazzled the crowd with his skills in the ring against Sonora, Mexico’s Jesus “Chuito” Valdez (20-3-1, 9 KOs) for their 10-round super featherweight bout. Valdez landed impressive uppercuts that sent the crowd gushing for more, however Roach, Jr. went straight to the body, and worked-in his swift power combinations. In the last round, Roach gave a beating to Valdez, chipping away at him with consecutive blows to the head, leaving the resilient Mexican unbalanced. The judges scored the bout unanimously in favor of Roach, Jr. with scores of 100-90, 98-92, and 97-93.
“The icing on the cake would have been if I could have knocked him out, so I feel like this was an okay performance,” said Lamont Roach, Jr. “He was a tough opponent, and he was able to catch me a couple of times.”
Welterweight KeAndre “The Truth” Gibson (17-1-1, 7 KOs) made a comeback from the first loss of his career taking on Zurich, Switzerland’s Dennis “Dennis the Menace” Dauti (14-3, 7 KOs) in eight-rounds of non-stop action. The hungry fighters both pressed on aggressively, engaging in heavy exchanges, however “The Truth” was always a step ahead, utilizing his height and reach to his advantage. Dauti was unable to properly adjust to Gibson’s style, but nevertheless, was able to step into moments of dangerous exchanges. The judges scored the bout at 80-72, 79-73, 77-75, awarding the unanimous decision to Gibson.
“This fight gives me a confidence boost,” said KeAndre Gibson. “Most fighters who come from overseas are pretty awkward in their styles, and he was no exception – he had strange head and shoulder movements that could have become accidental head-butts. I just want to be able to get those tough fights, so I think this puts me back in there.”
Hot off his professional debut, Luis Feliciano (2-0) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and fighting out of Rancho Cucamonga impressed the crowd with his easy conquest over Baltazar Ramirez (3-3, 3 KOs) of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. In the six-round super lightweight bout, Feliciano displayed his growing ring generalship, preventing Ramirez from landing any significant punches with his effective counter punching. All three judges scored the bout accordingly with scores of 60-54.
“I feel like we came in and we executed the game plan just how we had trained,” said Luis Feliciano. “I wasn’t sure what type of fighter we were getting, and once you’re in the ring styles change. He was a tough guy, and he took a lot of my punches.”
Opening up the card, Philadelphia’s Damon “No Smilin” Allen (12-0-1, 5 KOs) battled ring veteran Gamaliel “El Platanito” Diaz (40-17-3, 19 KOs) in a scheduled eight-round super lightweight match that made it to the sixth round. Allen showed growth from his previous fights, forcing Diaz to taste the mat various times throughout the bout. The doctors called the fight during the sixth round, due to an accidental head-butt, forcing the judges to go to the cards. The scores were 57-56 for Diaz, 58-55 for Allen, and 57-56 for Allen, awarding “No Smilin” the split decision victory.
“I don’t know if it was actually a head butt that he got from me, I just remember going off on him and unleashing my punches,” said Damon Allen. “It doesn’t matter if it was a split decision or if it would have ended unanimously – I was going to win regardless. I love taking on veteran fighters for this reason. I feel that I learn a lot about my skills and how to improve for the better.”
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