Boxing Insider Notebook: Ward, Plant, Flores, Parker, Lopez, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of December 4th to December 11th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Alexander Flores to Challenge Former World Champion Joseph Parker
Upset-minded heavyweight prospect Alexander “The Great” Flores departed a week ago on a 13-hour flight from California to New Zealand to challenge former world heavyweight champion Joseph Parker this Saturday (Dec. 15) in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“Beating Parker will get me a step closer to my goal to be the first Mexican-American to become world heavyweight champion,” Flores said. “I can’t picture myself losing, not the way I feel. I’ve had a long, hard training camp for this fight. It’s really been a couple years, because some fights fell through.”
A former World Boxing Council (WBC) Youth World Heavyweight Champion, the 28-year-old Flores (17-1-1, 15 KOs) has a new lease on his pro boxing career, now promoted by Roy Jones, Jr. (RJJ) Boxing.
“Alex has worked hard during the past two months,” added Keith Veltre, CEO/co-founder of Roy Jones, Jr. Boxing. “I truly believe Joseph Parker has no clue what he is in for with him. Like I said before, Alex is headed to New Zealand for the W, and he will leave it all in the ring. It has been a huge mistake on Parker’s part to overlook Alex.”
On a mission to become the first Mexican-American heavyweight champion of the world, Flores has already had a significant first leading up to this fight versus Parker. He experienced his initial flight a few months ago to do media work in New Zealand to promote the Dec. 15 fight.
“Yeah,” Flores explained, “that was my first flight. It took 13 hours, but I slept five or six hours, so it wasn’t too bad, other than being a little cold there. New Zealand is a beautiful country. The only thing I really need to acclimate to is the 20-hour time difference.
“I’m not concerned about fighting Parker there. I know I’m the underdog, but I had to take advantage of this opportunity. We were supposed to fight November 24th, so I had already waited a long time for a fight like this. At the end of the day it’s just going to be me and him in the ring. I’m going there to win, I see myself knocking him out.”
Parker (24-2, 18 KOs) is coming off back-to-back losses in the United Kingdom, both by way of 12-round unanimous decisions, respectively, to Dillian Whyte and unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. Parker captured the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO heavyweight world title two years ago, when he took a 12-round majority decision over Andy Ruiz, Jr., followed by unanimous and majority 12-round decisions, respectively, against Razvan Cojanu and Hughie Fury. Ruiz and Fury were undefeated going into their fights with Parker, both ending in majority decisions and shrouded in scoring controversy.
Flores’ lone loss as a professional came 3 ½ years ago against former world champion Charles Martin for the North American Boxing Organization (NABO) title, in which Flores, who took the fight with only two weeks’ notice, was stopped in the fourth round.
The powerful Flores, fighting out of Rowland Heights, California, realizes Parker has never been knocked out as a pro, plus the New Zealander is fighting at home for the first time in 1 ½ years, but he is not deterred from predicting a shocking conclusion.
“He’s going to get a little bit of everything from me,” Flores forcasted. “I’m a boxer-puncher, but I can press the action, or stand and punch. I’m tough to hit, too. It’s not going the distance; I’m not going down, Parker’s going down.”
Teofimo Lopez Has Star Making Performance in New York City
Top lightweight Teofimo Lopez scored an explosive 44-second knockout over Mason Menard this past Saturday night at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in a scheduled ten-round bout that was viewed by a massive audience on ESPN.
Lopez landed a crushing right hand that had Menard plummeting face-first on to the cnavas, in what was the opening televised bout on the Vasilly Lomachenko – Jose Pedraza lightweight unification card.
Lopez is now the NABA, NABF and USBA Lightweight champion.
The knockout, was featured on ESPN SportCenter, and all over social media, took place on an event which was the 2nd highest rated boxing card on cable television this year.
With the win, Lopez pushed his perfect mark to 11-0 with nine knockouts, and now he feels he is ready for anybody in the lightweight division.
“I knew he was a tough fighter. I knew he could fight,” Lopez said. “I wanted to test him, and I took a chance early in the fight. I know he trained hard, and he didn’t want it to go that way. But this is ‘The Takeover.’ ‘The Takeover’ has begun.
“In 2019, I will be a world champion. That’s a guarantee.”
“I put an exclamation point that I am no longer a prospect, and now it’s on to the contenders, and moving up the rankings. In 2019 you will see me fight for a world title.”
Said Lopez manger, David McWater of Split T Management, “He’s just never stops surprising me. Just when you think he can’t do better than his last fight he does something even more amazing. It’s been a generation since boxing saw a young fighter like this”
Keith Hunter Remains Undefeated with First Round Knockout
Last night at Bowie State University, in Maryland, Prince Ranch Boxing’s rising star, super lightweight prospect Keith “The Bounty” Hunter (9-0, 7 KOs), remained undefeated a devastating first round knockout against Siddharth Ravindra Varma (4-3-1, 1 KO). Hunter landed a monstrous right uppercut that sent Varma to the canvas up against the ropes forcing, the referee to stop the bout.
“I wanted to send a message to the super lightweight division with a great performance and I got the knockout,” said Keith Hunter. “It felt great to let my hands go. I’m going to get right back in the gym, so I can be ready for anything that comes my way. If my name is called, I’m going to be prepared, locked and loaded.”
“I’m very excited about Keith Hunter’s future,” said manager Greg Hannley, of Prince Ranch Boxing. “Tonight, his power was on display and those watching saw a star in the making. He’s getting better with each fight. He’s going to be a problem for anyone.”
This fight was promoted by Greg Cohen Promotions (GCP).
Jose Uzcategui to Defend World Title Against Caleb Plant
Battle-hardened Venezuelan Jose Uzcategui defends his IBF Super Middleweight World Championship against unbeaten top challenger Caleb Plant in prime time on Sunday, January 13 on FS1 and FOX Deportes presented by Premier Boxing Champions at Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
Also in action unbeaten featherweight contender Brandon Figueroa who takes on his toughest challenge to date when he meets rugged, once-beaten veteran Moises “Chucky” Flores in the televised co-feature. Also appearing is unbeaten sensation Joey Spencer entering the ring in a special junior middleweight attraction.
The first show of the 2019 season of PBC on FOX is promoted by TGB Promotions and Zanfer Promotions and tickets, starting at $50, are on sale now and can be purchased at AXS.com.
“This is an excellent card, featuring the kinds of bouts that are intriguing for boxing fans because it involves two young stars who are reaching up for challenges to determine whether they have what it takes to become world champions,” said Tom Brown of TGB Promotions. “Jose Uzcategui is going to push Caleb Plant to the limits and Plant will have to take the title away from Uzcategui if he wants it. Moises Flores feels like he definitely has something to prove coming off his last fight and Brandon Figueroa knows his road to a world title runs right through Flores. It’s also exciting to see the continued growth of the sensational prospect Joey Spencer. It’s going to be a special night of boxing on PBC on FS1 at Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live.”
“José Bolivita Uzcategui is the best super middleweight in the world and as always he will show his skills and elevate his game in the biggest stage,” said Fernando Beltran of Zanfer Promotions. “This is no exception. Plant is a good fighter but Bolivita is at his best and we are all thrilled to be able to do this fight on FOX Sports. So everyone tune in and enjoy the show.”
Uzgategui (28-2, 23 KOs) will be making his first defense of his IBF super middleweight championship with the match against Plant. The 27-year-old Uzgategui was born in El Vigia, Venezuela and now lives in Tijuana, Mexico. He earned the world title with a ninth round TKO victory over Andre Dirrell in their rematch in March. Uzcategui lost the first fight by disqualification in 2017. In his last match Uzcategui scored a unanimous decision over Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna on Sept. 28.
“It is an honor to defend my IBF title for the first time on FOX Sports,” Uzcategui said. “About the only thing I can say about my fight is that I don’t respect Caleb Plant. He has talked too much and I will punish him, beat him up and then knock him out.”
The 26-year-old Plant (17-0, 10 KOs) is an undefeated top contender who moved into position to challenge for the title with an impressive unanimous decision victory over tough veteran Rogelio Medina on Feb. 17. Plant, who was born in Nashville, Tennessee and now lives in Las Vegas, has dedicated his career to his daughter, Alia, who was born with a medical condition that causes seizures. She died at 19 months old from a respiratory infection that developed into pneumonia.
“Come January 13th when I step in that ring it will be for a lot of reasons,” Plant said. “I’ll be stepping between those ropes for Alia. I’m stepping between those ropes for the people of my city and state and for the people who come from the very bottom. I’m stepping between those ropes to finish the job that my father started, for all the work and sacrifice he made to ensure that he gave us a better opportunity than the life we once had and lived. But most importantly I’m stepping between those ropes January 13th in LA for myself. AND THE NEWWWW!”
The 21-year-old Figueroa (17-0, 12 KOs) will be facing the toughest challenge of his pro career when he takes on Flores. Figueroa fought three times and scored three knockouts in 2018 as he climbed the ladder in the super bantamweight and featherweight divisions. Figueroa of Weslaco, Texas is the younger brother of former lightweight world champion Omar Figueroa. In his last fight Figueroa scored an impressive TKO victory over Oscar Escandon on Sept. 30.
“This is definitely a step up for me. He’s 25-1 and he’s been in some tough fights, especially the championship fight against Daniel Roman,” Figueroa said. “I feel like I keep getting better with each fight, stronger and wiser in the ring. I want to show everyone that I’m the real deal and I’m ready for that world title. I believe that it’s coming soon and this is the kind of fight that I need to prove that I’m ready.”
Flores (25-1, 17 KOs) is looking to rebound from the first loss of his professional career after dropping a unanimous decision against Daniel Roman for the super bantamweight world title on June 16. The 32-year-old Flores of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico had fought Guillermo Rigondeaux in 2017 in a match that was ruled a no contest before the bout against Roman.
“I’m looking forward to this fight,” Flores said. “I had only fought one round in two years coming into my last fight with Roman. And while I wasn’t happy with my performance, it was great to get 12 rounds in and I’ve been in the gym since that loss. So now I’m confident I will be at my best. Figueroa and I both throw a ton of punches. It’s gonna be an all out war.”
Andre Ward in USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame
The last male American boxer to capture an Olympic gold medal, Andre Ward, will be honored tomorrow night, when he is inducted into the USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame.
The 34-year-old Ward will be inducted into the USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame in Salt Lake City, along with Class of 2018 members Roy Jones, Jr. and Claressa Shields, as well as the late Emanuel Stewart and Tom Cleary.
The second annual USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame reception, held in conjunction with the 2018 USA Boxing Elite and Youth National Championships and Junior and Prep Open, December 2-8, will be held at the Radisson Hotel (215 S. Temple St.) in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Not only is he the last American male boxer to garner Olympic gold, which he did in 2004 in Athens, Greece, Ward is the last to do so for Team USA.
“It (last American male boxer to win Olympic gold) has never crossed my mind and it’s bittersweet,” Ward remarked. “On one hand, it’s kind of cool to be the last to do something for so long but, on the other hand, I’m eager for that streak to be broken. It’s time that the United States of America take its rightful place at the top of amateur boxing, like it once was, and in 2020 I predict Gold…lots of it!”
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be inducted in to the USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall Fame,” Ward said. “It’s even sweeter to be inducted with this year’s other inductees and the icing on the cake is going in to the hall of fame with Roy Jones, Jr., my all-time favorite fighter.
“Being ranked No. 1 in the country since I was 17-years-old afforded me the opportunity to travel the world, train alongside the other top United States boxers, and the chance to face international competition leading up to the Olympics played a big part in my Olympic success.”
Ward, who lives in Oakland (CA), started boxing in 1994 at the age of nine. He finished his brilliant amateur career with an amazing 115-5 record, highlighted by his gold medal performance at the 2004 Olympics. He also was a two-time U.S. National Championships (2001 & 2003) winner, in addition to a 2002 Under-19 National champion.
“As the youngest USA Boxing alum to win a men’s Olympic gold medal, Andre has inspired present and future generations of champions,” said Chris Cugliari, USA Boxing Alumni Association Executive Director. “He is a champion in every sense of the term — for his intelligence, skill, and work ethic demonstrated throughout his career as well as his professionalism and character outside of the ring. The USA Boxing Alumni Association is thankful for Andre’s contributions to amateur boxing and look forward to honoring him as part of this year’s Hall of Fame class.”