What is the Hold Up for Zuffa Boxing?
By Bryanna Fissori
It has been about a year now since the combat sports world first saw the “Zuffa Boxing” image across UFC President Dana White’s red Reebok shirt. This was during the hype for the Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather Jr fight in August of 2017. How the time does fly . . .
Zuffa Boxing Recap
Shortly after the bout, which was largely a financial success, Dana White announced that the rumors were true. The UFC parent company was indeed looking to enter the boxing ring as the world’s newest promotion on the block.
Over the last year, White has made a number of claims about what the promotion will and won’t do. Here are a few:
- Zuffa Boxing will NOT have a roster of current UFC fighters
- Cards will be structured so that all of the fights are hyped (as opposed to just the main event, which is common in boxing)
- Up and coming fighters will be heavily promoted to build star-status
- The promotion will not be structured under a sanctioning body
- Zuffa Boxing will have its own champions
- He will not work with Oscar De La Hoya or Bob Arum
Reasons for the Delay
There have been rumors that White’s first big signing would be Anthony Joshua, which is certainly a go-big-or-go-home type of move. Though that doesn’t seem to be in the cards right now, it would be a stretch to think that this the primary reason for the delay. White has also commented that Joshua’s manager, Eddie Hern is “oversensitive.” No one ever said White was good at making friends.
The UFC has certainly kept White busy, hosting a card nearly every weekend. Plus additional shows like “Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series” and “Dana White- Looking for a Fight.” Both of these require White’s presence. Though a busy man, that is certainly not the only reason for the delay in Zuffa Boxing progress.
Status: It’s Complicated
All of White’s previous assertions about what Zuffa Boxing will and won’t do could be complicated. The promotion will need a full roster if it is going to operate independently of other organizations and sanctioning bodies. It would need to the time and resources for promotion, and is limited on partners with De La Hoya and Arum out of the question. Not to mention the legalities of skirting the Muhamad Ali Act.
“This is one of those things I said I’m going to put my toe in, I’m not diving in head first. We’re still working on stuff. A lot of things didn’t line up the way that I thought they would in the boxing world when I said we’re about to make a ballsy move,” White said on UFC Unfiltered.
“The thing kind of took a left turn, so I wasn’t able to make an offer on that deal yet. But when that deal does happen, and when it comes, I’m going to jump in.”
Boxing Insider Notebook: Dana White, Anthony Joshua, Sosa, Takam, Smith, Williams, Hernandez, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of October 17th to October 24th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Dana White Says UFC Could Start to Promote Boxing
Dana White recently spoke to the Wall Street Journal at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=V2wbIUSpALY. In this interview Dana indicated that he likes promoting MMA but has an interest in promoting boxing.
He told Jason Gay of “The Unnamed Podvideocast” that, “I could see bringing boxing under our umbrella and trying to see what we could do with that.”
White was observed wearing a shirt that read “Zuffa Boxing” on the promotional tour for the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor bout. Zuffa Boxing could soon become a real thing.
Watch Joshua vs. Takam Heavyweight Title Fight Exclusively on DAZN
Fight fans can watch Anthony Joshua defend his IBF and WBA Heavyweight Titles against Carlos Takam on Saturday, October 28th live on DAZN.
DAZN is a live and on-demand sports streaming service that allows fans to watch their sport, their way, live or on-demand. Fans can watch their favourite teams, leagues and players anytime, anywhere with the ability to play, pause and rewind anytime. Subscriptions are available for $20 a month or $150 annually, with the first month free.
DAZN is also the only way to get unlimited access to every live NFL game this coming season. And with access to the NFL Network 24/7 and NFL RedZone, you’ll never miss another touchdown, field goal or interception ever again. You can also see top European soccer including LaLiga Santander, Ligue 1 and Serie A, plus KHL Hockey, Moto GP, ATP 250 Tennis, PDC Darts and Pro14 Rugby Union – all in HD.
It’s available in Canada on most connected devices including Smart TVs, smartphones, tablets and games consoles – for more information or to sign up, please visit dazn.com.
Olympian Nico Hernandez Fighting for First Pro Title December 2nd
2016 Olympic bronze medalist Nico Hernandez will be fighting for his first professional title on Saturday, December 2, when he takes on Hungarian invader Jozsef “Little Red” Ajtai in the eight-round main event for the vacant International Boxing Association (IBA) Flyweight Championship, headlining “KO Night Boxing: Gold & Glory” at Hartman Arena in Park City, Kansas.
“KO Night Boxing: Gold & Glory” is a presentation of KO Night Boxing LLC., in association with Hartman Arena, and sponsored in part by Twister City Harley-Davidson Metro PCS, Mort’s Cigar Bar and Jimmy Egg.
The action will be taped live for future airing on CBS Sports Network.
The 21-year-old Hernandez (3-0, 2 KOs), fighting out of Wichita, will be fighting in a scheduled eight-round bout for the first time. His three pro fights to date were all scheduled for six rounds and each was held in Kansas, the last two in his second home, Hartman Arena.
In his last fight this past September 23rd, Hernandez was forced to fight late replacement Kendrick “Uprising” Latchman who outweighed the celebrated American Olympian by more than 10 pounds. Hernandez won a six-round unanimous decision by scores of 60-54 and 59-55 twice.
Despite being younger than Hernandez by almost a year to the day, Ajtai (19-9, 12 KOs) has already had 28 pro fights, including a full 10-round distance loss by decision last year to two-time Olympic gold medalist Shiming Zou, the former World Boxing Organization (WBO) flyweight world champion.
“By far, Nico is fighting the toughest opponent of his pro career,” Hernandez’ promoter John Andersen (“KO Night Boxing LLC) said. “Ajtai has much more experience as a pro than Nico, plus he went the distance against a two-time Olympic gold medalist, Zou. Ajtai is a busy fighter with a good knockout ratio (63%). This fight is going to tell us a lot about Nico, especially his power at 112 pounds.
“Nico fighting for a title in only his fourth pro fight proves that all our hard efforts of KO Night Boxing and Team Nico has paid off quickly and we’re grateful that the IBA has given him this great opportunity. I didn’t realize the high quality of champions the IBA has had in the past and we’re proud that Nico can someday join this group. In the flyweight division, Nico may enter world title fight shot discussions earlier than I had originally thought, which was in his third year as a pro. An impressive performance against Ajtai could position him for a world title fight next year with less than 10 fights under his belt.”
“We’re excited to have an American Olympian fighting for our first Americas title,” IBA President J.C. Courreges added. “Nico Hernandez is an Olympic bronze medalist and we’re hopeful that he will develop into an IBA world champion in the not too distant future. His amateur pedigree speaks for itself and we’re very happy to have this young man fighting for the IBA Americas title.”
IBA world champions during the past quarter-century include Hall-of-Famers Oscar de la Hoya, George Foreman, Roberto Duran and Arturo Gatti, as well as stars such as Roy Jones, Jr., Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosely, James Toney, Mikkel Kessler, Eric Morales, Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo, Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver.
Ukranian Olympian Makes Professional Debut on Friday
Olympian middleweight Dmytro Mytrofanov will make his professional boxing debut Friday night in Elk Grove Village against an unbeaten foe.
Mytrofanov, who fought for the Ukraine in the 2016 Olympics, will square off against American Brandon Maddox, who is 7-0, with five knockouts.
The six-round bout will take place at the Belvedere Events Center, 1170 W. Devon Ave., Elk Grove Village.
Mytrofanov, 27, won national titles in the Ukraine in 2008 and 2012, The middleweight was also a bronze medalist at the 2011 European Championships.
He is represented by Andrew Sobko of Natex Boxing Promotions.
The 31-year-old Maddox has won 71 percent of his fights by knockout. The Detroit, Mich. fighter won Golden Gloves titles in Detroit and Chicago. He also posted a 4-2 mark in professional Mixed Martial Arts fights.
Friday’s fight, sanctioned by the Illinois State Athletic Commission, is being promoted by Natex and Hitz Entertainment.
On Friday’s fight card, along with Mytrofanov-Maddox, are:
Super welterweights Anthony Prescott and Anthony Abbruzzese
Undefeated super featherweight Giovanni Mioletti and Tyrome Jones
Undefeated super middleweight Tommy Hughes and Emmanuel Sanchez
Heavyweight Tulagonov Osvaldo, making his professional debut
Undefeated middleweight Osvaldo Vera
Friday’s first bout begins at 7:30 p.m.
VIP tables, which seat 10 people, are $250 per person. General admission is $40.
Tickets can be purchased at www.natexboxing.com
Ishe Smith to Face Julian Williams on November 18th
Former world champion Ishe Smith battles top 154-pound contender Julian “J-Rock” Williams in a 10-round super welterweight clash that headlines Premier Boxing Champions on Bounce live from The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Saturday, November 18.
In the co-feature, Lionell Thompson clashes with unbeaten prospect Earl Newman in a 10-round light heavyweight bout. Televised coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT with unbeaten prospects Tugstsogt Nyambayar and Xavier Martinez going head-to-head in a 10-round featherweight fight.
“This card is going to bring it,” said Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe. “The fans will be presented with variety; veterans and prospects going head-to-head and tough fighting styles meshing come fight night. The main event between Ishe Smith and Julian Williams is going to be an exciting battle! I think Ishe and Julian are going to put on a great show. Both fighters are very tough competitors and fight with everything they have. We also have a great undercard line-up. This is going to be an all-around exciting night of boxing for the fans.”
“This is the kind of show that presents something for every boxing fan,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Ishe Smith is a former champion who still has title aspirations. He’s going up against a young hungry contender on the comeback trail in Julian Williams. Earl Newman will be taking a major step up when he takes on Lionell Thompson in the co-feature and both Tugstsogt Nyambayar and Xavier Martinez will be looking to keep their undefeated records intact. It all adds up to a fun night for boxing fans.”
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions, are priced at $29, $39, $59, $69, $89 and $149 and are on sale now. Tickets are available at www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com or through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 andwww.ticketmaster.com.
The 39-year-old Smith (29-8, 12 KOs) won his world championship with a majority decision over Cornelius Bundrage on Feb. 23, 2013 to become the first Las Vegas-native to win a world title. He has also challenged top fighters such as Erislandy Lara and Daniel Jacobs and most recently defeated Tommy Rainone and Frank Galarza in his last two bouts.
“I took this fight just like I’ve taken every tough fight over the years,” said Smith. “I constantly challenge myself to the best and I believe Julian Williams is one of the best in the division. If you look at my resume, all I’ve done is fight the best guys, in their prime, so this is nothing new to me. I’ve reached the point where I’ve seen it all. This fight will get me exactly where I need to be, closer to a world title shot.”
Williams (23-1-1, 15 KOs), one of the top young contenders in the 154-pound division, is working his way back into title contention by taking on a tough former world champion in Smith. The 27-year-old Williams of Philadelphia suffered a KO loss to Jermall Charlo in his first title shot in 2016 and returned to the ring with a TKO victory over Joshua Conley in his last fight on June 30.
“We’ve been working hard for months and I’m ready to get back in the ring,” said Williams. “I could fight tomorrow. I know this is an important fight for my career. Ishe is a veteran and he is going to bring his ‘A’ game to try to prove he’s still got it. I’m not going to give him that opportunity. I will be victorious and show that I’m ready to fight the best in the world.”
Rahman Junior Opponent Chickens Out in Ring, Seconds Before Scheduled Fight
The young career of heavyweight contender Hasim Rahman Jr. took an unexpected turn last week, as his scheduled opponent, Joseph Coats, decided not to fight, while in the ring during the introductions and literally left the ring and returned to the locker room.
The four-round Rahman vs. Coats bout was supposed to happen at The Durham Armory in Downtown Durham, North Carolina, last Thursday, October 19. However, the debuting Coats, trained by reputable trainer Don Turner, initially refused to come out of the locker room. Forty minutes later, Coats finally agreed to get on with the fight only to leave Rahman waiting in the ring for nearly 10 minutes while chickening out for a second time.
He now faces suspension.
Event promoter Michelle Rosado (Raging Babe Events) and matchmaker J Russell Peltz (Peltz Boxing Promotions, Inc.) were as perplexed as Rahman’s promoter, Greg Cohen, by Coats’ sudden departure.
“Russell told me in his 48 years in the sport, he NEVER saw anything like this,” said Cohen. “A fighter in the ring rethinks his choice and leaves. I’m told he was out of the building before the announcer finished explaining to the crowd what happened.”
Cohen says he already has the next fight scheduled for the promising slugger Rahman Jr., November 4 in Springfield, Virginia, in a co-promotion with Shabazz Brotherz Boxing Promotions.
“Junior showed class and poise in the way he handled this and he’s to be commended. Sometimes in boxing, strange things happen and this is one of those times.”
Jason Sosa to Clash with Robinson Castellanos on November 25th
Two of the most experienced fighters in the stacked 130-pound division will continue the heated Puerto Rico vs. Mexico rivalry when Jason “El Canito” Sosa (20-2-4, 14 KOs) takes on Robinson “Robin Hood” Castellanos (24-13, 14 KOs) in a 10-round super featherweight fight at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on the televised undercard for Kovalev vs. Shabrankskyy. The event takes place Saturday, Nov. 25 and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Although the competition between Puerto Rico and Mexico runs deep in the ring, Latinos and Hispanics come together and support each other in times of need. In light of the natural disasters affecting Mexico and the Caribbean, a portion of the proceeds of the ticket sales form this event will be donated to relief efforts for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the earthquake in Mexico City when ticket buyers use the code LATINOSUNIDOS to purchase their tickets through Ticketmaster.
“With the terrible natural disasters that have impacted Puerto Rico and Mexico recently, it was incredibly important to us that we find opportunities in boxing to give back to those affected,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “Though Puerto Rico and Mexico are rivals when it comes to boxing we stand together united to help these communities recover and rebuild their lives.”
The 29-year-old Sosa, of Camden, NJ and of Puerto Rican descent, is the former WBA World Super Featherweight Champion. He earned his title by handing Javier “El Abejon” Fortuna his first loss as a pro with an 11th-round knockout in Beijing, China in June 2016. Sosa successfully defended his title with a 12-round decision win over Stephen Smith in Monte Carlo in November 2016 before returning several months later in a tough fight against Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko in April 2017. Sosa is also known for fighting to an impressive majority draw against former WBA Super World Featherweight Champion Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters and for stopping former world title challenger Jerry “The Corpus Christi Kid” Belmontes in only one round. Sosa’s aggressive style should produce fireworks against Castellanos.
“Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico,” said Sosa. “I have been living there for the last few months and I opened a business there. Now to see the destruction and devastation that my people are going through, it breaks my heart. It was very difficult for me to leave and begin my training camp back in New Jersey to get ready for the fight against Castellanos. This fight is important for many reasons. It is the beginning of the road to becoming champion again and it is my way of giving Puerto Rico a reason to smile and be proud. They are my biggest supporters and that little island shows me so much love. I can’t do much but I can show them that this win is for them. I want to thank Castellanos and HBO for this opportunity.”
Castellanos is a battle-tested warrior who is coming off a spectacular performance against current WBA Super World Super Featherweight Champion Jezreel “El Invisible” Corrales in July of this year. The 35-year-old native of Guanajuato, Mexico also handed super bantamweight contender and world title challenger Ronny Rios his first career loss, stopping him by TKO in October of 2014. Before challenging for a world title, Castellanos stopped Cuban former unified WBA and IBF Featherweight Champion Yuriorkis “El Ciclon de Guantánamo” Gamboa on the May 5 edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN. After having been so close to winning a world title in his last outing, Castellanos will look to make sure that he gets another crack at the top of the division with a victory on Nov. 25.
“What has happened in Mexico and Puerto [Rico] has been devastating,” said Castellanos. But it has also reminded us that we are strong and united. The crisis won’t be resolved from one day to another, but however long it takes we will lift ourselves up. I know little about Jason [Sosa], but I know that he was a world champion. He has already accomplished a dream that I am still looking to accomplish. I know that I’ll need a victory to fight for a world title again. Both of us will have to leave everything in the ring, and I hope that the people in New York really enjoy our fight.”