Boxing Insider Notebook: Roc Nation, Tapia, Stiverne, Wilder, DiBella, Oquendo, Warren, and more…
By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of December 9th to December 16th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Roc Nations Sports Throne Boxing Lineup for January 9th
Roc Nation Sports January 9th lineup for their Fox Sports 1 Event at the Theater at Madison Square Garden will feature undefeated Duty Hernandez-Harrison against Tommy Rainone for the vacant WBC Continental Americas Welterweight Championship in the main event. In addition, hit master DJ Mustard will serve alongside notable event emcee and “Voice of New York” Angie Martinez with Brooklyn’s own Fabulous taking the stage between fights for a special performance. The legendary Michael Buffer will serve as the ring announcer.
HBO Sports to Present a Documentary on Johnny Tapia
HBO Sports will present a compelling documentary about the talented but tormented world champion boxer Johnny Tapia. Debuting Tuesday, December 16 (11:00 p.m.-midnight ET/PT), exclusively on HBO, TAPIA uses first-person narration and archival footage to explore the achievements, personal demons and ultimate redemption of the popular fighter, who died in 2012 at age 45. The film is executive produced by multiplatinum award-winning musician, entrepreneur and actor Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and sports promoter, producer and entertainment executive Lou DiBella.
Other HBO playdates: Dec. 18 (4:45 p.m., 1:50 a.m.), 20 (11:30 a.m.), 22 (11:00 a.m.), 28 (10:30 a.m.) and 29 (12:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m.), and Jan. 8 (8:00 p.m., 3:50 a.m.) and 13 (4:00 p.m.)
“Johnny Tapia’s life story was an incredible journey, and we are eager to celebrate his biggest accomplishments and chronicle the toughest and most difficult moments of his turbulent life,” says Rick Bernstein, executive producer, HBO Sports.
“Tapia was so much more than just a world champion, and we want to share this gripping account with our subscribers, many of whom may have seen Johnny in his five fights on HBO, but may not know the amazing story behind the fighter.”
“This is not a boxing film, but a film about tragedy, triumph, demons and redemption,” says DiBella. “Johnny gives us an honest assessment of his strengths and frailties; he reminds us of the power and resiliency of the human spirit.”
“Johnny’s is a story that needed to be told,” says Jackson. “Everyone can relate to some aspect of it, which makes it that much more powerful. Personally, his journey is one that has touched me greatly.”
Bermane Stiverne to Defend WBC Heavyweight Title Against Deontay Wilder
WBC Heavyweight World Champion Bermane Stiverne (24-1-1) is set to defend his title against unbeaten knockout specialist and mandatory challenger Deontay Wilder (32-0) on Saturday, January 17th. This bout will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will be televised live on Showtime at 10:00 p.m. ET.
This event will be co-promoted by Don King Productions and Golden Boy Promotions and will also feature undefeated IBF Bantamweight World Champion Leo Santa Cruz (28-0-1) defending his belt against a challenger to be announced.
“Don’t blink on Jan. 17. I am the heavyweight champion of the world and nobody is going to beat me,” Stiverne said. “I’m excited and I’m looking forward to making a statement. Talk is cheap. I do my talking in the ring.”
“I’m expecting a short night because we have bad blood,” Wilder said. “I really want to hurt this guy, and I haven’t felt this way in a long time. I want to show him this is no joke, this is real. This is business. This is the hurt game and my power is real. I told him that I’ll whoop his ass and I’m going to keep my promise.”
Oquendo Files Lawsuit in Federal Court in Manhattan over July WBA Title Fight
Fres Oquendo has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Manhattan against Hamburg-based promoter Terek Box Event seeking damages of $5 million and an injunction to prevent the promoter from promoting Ruslan Chagaev in any bouts until it first gives Oquendo the rematch he was promised.
On July 6, 2014 in Grozny Chechnya, Oquendo fought Chagaev for the vacant WBA “regular” World Heavyweight Title that became vacant after Wladimir Klitschko defeated Alexander Povetkin in October 2013. Chagaev, the home town favorite and adopted son of President Kadyrov, was awarded a majority decision with one judge ruling the fight a draw and the other two judges finding for Chagaev by only one round.
“I am really looking forward to my day in court and finally getting justice,” said Oquendo. “These guys pulled a really slick move and tricked me into fighting on July 6 by promising me to increase my purse to $1 million and giving me a rematch at a time when I wasn’t mentally right, with my wife and newborn baby being sick and in the hospital. Well, now they are the ones behind the eight ball. They’ve got until January 2 to respond to the lawsuit.”
Oquendo also is in the process of appealing a December 3, 2014 WBA resolution which suspended Oquendo until December 6, 2014 for allegedly having tested positive for a women’s breast cancer drug by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). Oquendo claims that he has proof that RUSADA violated the World Anti-Doping Code (WADA) because RUSADA leaked his results to a person not affiliated with the promotion and that this leak proves that the representatives and agents at RUSADA conducting the testing violated the testing protocols and cannot be trusted.
Oquendo also claims that he insisted on being tested by the Swiss Anti-Doping Agency but that he was forced to take the RUSADA test against his will and was forcibly driven back to the Arena to be tested.
Oquendo is also appealing the WBA’s denial of his protest regarding President Kadyrov being permitted to climb up onto the ring apron between rounds to coach and encourage Chagaev in clear violation of the WBA rules.
The fight was originally scheduled for June 7th but the promoter was not prepared and rescheduled the fight to July 6th in breach of its agreement with Oquendo. Given the new date, Oquendo warned the promoters that his wife was due to have their child the week of the fight and asked for the date to be pushed back another week or two. The promoter claimed that Ramadan would not allow that, an excuse that Team Oquendo later learned was a ruse.
Oquendo arranged to have his wife artificially induced so the child could be born before he left for the fight; however, due to complications, his wife and child had to be hospitalized and he was not mentally capable to doing the fight.
“That week I received over 200 phone calls, emails etc., a lot of them alluding to threats on Fres’ life, my life and our families if we didn’t go” claims Tom Tsatas, Oquendo’s advisor. “I have reported this to the FBI and I have sent them the emails.”
“They promised us everything to get us over there, but in the end gave us nothing,” continued Tsatas. “Once we got there, everything changed. We were not allowed to leave the hotel grounds and we were only able to eat at one place inside the hotel. One member from our team was told in the elevator that if Fres knocked out Chagaev, none of us would leave the country.
After the fight we took Fres to the hospital for a brain scan and then he, our promoter and trainer were essentially kidnapped and forced by men carrying automatic weapons to go back to the arena and forced to submit to the RUSADA drug test. And when we were leaving the next day, at the airport, our passports mysteriously went “missing” for over an hour while the promoter, complete with a firearm clearly visible on him, took us to a dimly lit back room and tried to renegotiate Fres’ $1 million purse by offering us a suitcase full of $200,000 in cash.
Ultimately, to get out of the country, I actually had to sneak onto the plane using someone else’s boarding pass.”
Frank Warren Wins Claim Against Ricky Burns
The Court today confirmed that boxing promoter Frank Warren won his claim against boxer Ricky Burns. The Judge found that there was no basis for Burns to walk away from his promotional and management agreements.
Promoter Eddie Hearn advised Burns that Warren had no claim at all, saying last March, “we’ve been provided with a letter from Burns as confirmation that he has terminated his agreement… We have advice from our lawyers and I’m very comfortable. There is no contract now.”
However this advice, now proven to be inaccurate, given to him by Hearn and his co-manager Alex Morrison, who did not give evidence nor attend the trial on any day, has proved costly to Burns, who must now pay £200,000 of his own legal fees and a further £170,000 by the end of January to pay Warren’s damages and costs, with other substantial sums to follow.
Morrison also lost an action to Warren recently in relation to a libel connected to this case, and he too was ordered to pay £110,000 plus further substantial costs.
Coincidently Hearn’s solicitors Mischon De Reya also represented Ricky Burns.
Frank Warren said, “I’m glad that the Court upheld my management and promotional agreements. I’m sorry that it came to this, as under my guidance Ricky became a double world champion, but his reliance on the advice of others has unfortunately cost him dearly.”
DiBella Entertainment Hires New Director of Boxing Operations and Matchmaking Eric Bentley
DiBella Entertainment (DBE) has announced the hiring of its new director of boxing operations and matchmaking, Eric Bentley.
Bentley has ten years of experience in the boxing industry. He has worked for the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) for over five years and served as its Director of Boxing under Executive Director David Berlin. He was also a finalist for the Executive Director position for the Nevada State Athletic Commission in 2014.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be working for DiBella Entertainment,” said Bentley. “I enjoyed my time at NYSAC and learned a tremendous amount from David Berlin, but it was the right time to move on and there’s no better place to go than DiBella Entertainment. There aren’t many more genuine and passionate guys than Lou (DiBella) and he has surrounded himself with a phenomenal team, of which I’m excited to be a part.”
“DiBella Entertainment has strengthened itself greatly with the hiring of Eric Bentley,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment.
“Eric was previously a quality matchmaker and then a highly respected executive with the New York State Athletic Commission. He will bolster my staff, which is already one of the finest in the boxing promotional business.”
Anthony Peterson to be Featured on Showtime Extreme
Washington, DC native and top rated lightweight contender Anthony Peterson (34-1) will be featured in a fight against Yakuba Amidu (21-5-2) on December 20th as the co-feature on Showtime Extreme Boxing.
Peterson and his trainer, Barry Hunter, held a media workout at the Headbangers Boxing Gym in Washington, DC. This will be Peterson’s second appearance on Showtime Extreme. He was last seen on Showtime on August 8th when he knocked out Edgar Riovalle in the first round at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
Casimero Defeats Santos in IBF Eliminator
Former IBF junior flyweight champion John Riel “Quadro Alas” Casimero (20-2) recently won a second round knockout over Mexico’s Amrando “Cobra” Santos (14-4-1) in an IBF Flyweight World Title elimination bout.
They fought at the Salon Los Palmas in Monterrey, Mexico and Casimero won the right to face Thailand’s IBF Champion Amnat Ruenroeng, or his upcoming challenger Zou Shiming, if he takes the title.
“John Riel had a fantastic training camp with his trainer, Feliciano ‘Jun’ Agrabio Jr., and it showed,” said his promoter Sampson Lewkowicz.
“He looked unbelievably strong and powerful at the new weight and he will be impossible to beat when he is in the shape he was in tonight.”