Tag Archives: beterbiev

Canelo Alvarez on Possible Artur Beterbiev Showdown: I’m Ready


By: Hans Themistode

With Canelo Alvarez (53-1-2, 26 KOs) making not only a successful debut at Light Heavyweight, but an explosive one in knocking out former WBO titlist Sergey Kovalev. Many, like always, have wondered what could possibly be next for the Mexican superstar.

Canelo surely won’t be short on options.

As it currently stands, Canelo now holds world titles in three different weight divisions. Middleweight, Super Middleweight and now, Light Heavyweight.

Each weight class presents its own set of dangerous opponents. In the Middleweight division fighters such as WBC belt holder Jermall Charlo (29-0, 21 KOs) and WBO champion Demetrius Andrade (28-0, 17 KOs) are both undefeated and could provide Canelo with an arduous test.

Charlo, who has a December 7th contest against Dennis Hogan, is very big for the weight class. His ability to put his opponents out with his vaunted power is unlike any other in the division. Andrade on the other hand presents a different sort of challenge, as it easy to make the argument that no one is a better overall boxer than the current WBO champion.

At the Super Middleweight division, Callum Smith (26-0, 19 KOs) has already proven his worth by winning the WBA title and coming out victorious in the World Boxing Super Series. He is clearly the top name in the division and a contest between the two has been floating around for quite some time now.

Each of these fighters would be a worthy challenger for Canelo, but like always in his already hall of fame level career, Canelo wants to face the most dangerous fighter of them all.

Newly minted unified Light Heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) currently holds the distinction as the best fighter in the weight class. At least according to most. Unlike Kovalev, Beterbiev is in the prime of his career.

Questions surrounding just how good Beterbiev was as a fighter were put to bed once he stopped former WBC title holder Oleksandr Gvozdyk in the tenth round of their contest. Now that Canelo now holds a belt in the same weight class, a contest between the two seems inevitable.

During the lead up of Canelo’s contest against Sergey Kovalev, he was posed with the question of whether or not he would be willing to take him on. In true Canelo fashion, he didn’t mince words or back down from a possible showdown.

“I’m ready. Kovalev is better than Beterbiev and we are fighting Kovalev so why wouldn’t we fight Beterbiev?”

Did you expect anything different from Canelo?

He has shown time and time again that he has no issues taking the sort of fights that many believe he shouldn’t. With Canelo holding world titles in multiple weight divisions however, it could be quite some time before we see these two in the ring together.

With that being said, Canelo has always been very fond of making history over and over again. There is no other fighter in any weight class that will provide Canelo with a tougher challenge nor will anyone else allow him to continue to etch his name in the history books, which makes the possibility of this contest happening sooner rather than later.

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Dmitry Bivol Has Artur Beterbiev On His Radar


By: Hans Themistode

Two belts were on the line this past Friday night, at the Liacouras Center, in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

Center stage stood Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) and Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs). Their contest would not only decide a unified champion in the Light Heavyweight division, but it would also give credence to the winner as the best that the division has to offer.

It was your classic puncher vs. boxer contest, as Beterbiev had never seen the end of a contest, stopping each of his previous opponents inside of the distance. Gvozdyk on the other hand, had plenty of power in his own right but was known as the boxer between the two.

The opening few rounds saw Gvozdyk stay on the outside and box. He in no way wanted to turn this matchup into a slug fest. Beterbiev however, wanted exactly that.

Gvozdyk looked good early on. His boxing abilities were on full display, but Beterbiev was getting closer and closer as the rounds went by. As the contest went on, the ring began to get smaller and smaller for Gvozdyk. It was only a matter of time before Beterbiev would land his mark. He did exactly as previously stated in the tenth round. Gvozdyk was dropped not once, but three times in the round, forcing the referee to put an end to the matchup.

Beterbiev didn’t just wrap an extra title around his already gold minted waist, but he also sent a message to the rest of the division.

One man who seen the performance by Beterbiev and was impressed by it, was current WBA belt holder Dmitry Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs).

The undefeated belt holder has long been awaiting his turn for a big fight. With a new unified champion in the division, he made it clear that he is more than willing to make that fight happen.

“Of course, there is a desire to fight Beterbiev,” said Bivol. “The fact that he now has two belts will intrigue me.”

The possibility of adding more belts to his collection isn’t the only thing that is interesting to Bivol. The performance that Beterbiev put on display was eye catching. Unlike other fighters who might run away from such a difficult challenge, Bivol is inviting it.

“Beterbiev showed that he can work very well and that he is well prepared for this kind of event,” said Bivol as he gushed over Beterbiev’s performance. “Gvozdyk started well, and there were ideas to neutralize Beterbiev’s right hand. And in the middle of the fight, Beterbiev even seemed to be tired. However, several serious punches to the body created serious damage to Gvozdyk.”

Fans that are currently skeptical of these two champions ever meeting in the ring have nothing to fear.

“We’ll see what happens with Gvozdyk-Beterbiev,” said Bivol’s promoter Eddie Hearn before the Gvozdyk vs Beterbiev contest took place. “I would have no problem putting him in with the winner of that fight. If they wanna do it on ESPN, no problem at all, because I think it’s the right fight. I want Dmitry Bivol to actually achieve a legacy in this sport, and to do that, you’ve gotta be in those kinds of fights.”

With the promotional side of things seemingly out of the way, fans can see a possible showdown between Bivol and Beterbiev take place, sooner rather than later.

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Artur Beterbiev Bashes Oleksandr Gvozdyk in Round 10 to Unify Titles


By Robert Aaron Contreras

Nearing the end of the broadcast, Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KO) could be seen in the center of the ring holding up two belts—one green, the other red. Yet it was a third title, unseen, abstruse as ever, that mattered most of all. That lineal title, pried from the shaky grip of Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KO) in the tenth round, where referee Gary Rosato could only bear to watch the previously undefeated Ukrainian knocked down three times before signaling the end to the championship bout.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

Beterbiev added Gvozdyk’s WBC strap to his IBF belt; the contest also represented light heavyweight lineage: often called the true championship: “the man who beat the man who beat the man.” Gvozdyk unseated Adonis Stevenson last year for the nominal title and now the honor belongs to Beterbiev.

The action was a power struggle until the very end. The champion out of Ukraine, Gvozdyk gained control early behind quick successions of right and left hands. In fact, the bell rang and without a thought of a touch of gloves, Gvozdyk opened the fight with a snapping one-two, quickly setting the tone with a right hand upstairs and then a left to the body of Beterbiev.

Suddenly, in the final seconds of the first round, the giants wrapped each other up, chippy blows reigned down from Beterbiev, and Gvozdyk tipped over. Clearly a slip, the ref initially called a knockdown before it was overturned by the commissioner.

For the next two rounds, Gvozdyk could be seen outlanding Beterbiev, a 34-year-old from Russia who owned a crushing victory over the defending WBC champ back in the amateur circuit. The rounds may have been tallied for Gvozdyk but a couple of cross-counters from his opponent, hurled over Gvozdyk’s straight punches, caught his attention.

In Round 3, Beterbiev was generating incredible amounts of force in close quarters. The short blows chipped away at Gvozdyk’s confidence, ruddying his face in the process.

Gvozdyk, 32, carried on his sharpshooting. Tagging away at Beterbiev with a finely tuned offense: left jabs and right crosses zipping up and down. The Russian bulldozer kept him honest with singular punching, including feinting right uppercuts only to shoot straight left hands.

The rest of the way, Beterbiev was established in the center of the ring. And in the fifth stanza his best shots were a pair of wrecking ball right hands to Gvozdyk’s midsection; they took the air right out of him.

Both men were doing their best to outdo the other. A race to beat the other man to the punch. Exchanges exploded across every inch of the canvas. Coalescing, then rushing to land a shot as they disengaged. The end of the sixth inning was especially great. The opposing champions traded parallel right crosses. Gvozdyk even hit the deck; it was only another slip.

Gvozdyk, though, was on the verge of a real knockdown in the ninth, flustered more than ever. Beterbiev had seek-and-destroy pulsating from his eyes. Clubbing right hands touched up Gvozdyk. A mauling attack ensued consisting of uppercuts and body blows, pausing only to push Gvozdyk away so as to create enough space and leverage for more punishment.

In the fateful tenth period, a slinging right hand landed on Gvozdyk’s temple and sent him to one knee. The Ukrainian puncher stood back up. He tried grappling before jabbing with the Russian predator. Beterbiev’s left hand had no problem busting open the feeble guard of the shaken champion and plugged away for the second knockdown.

Rosato made it clear to Gvozdyk he had one more chance. So when two more right hands forced Gvozdyk onto another knee, it was no surprised the fight was over.

The punch stats revealed a slight edge in activity from Gvozdyk, landing118 of 614 total punches (19 percent) while Beterbiev connected on 161 of 515 total shots (31 percent). Of course it was the power numbers that carried Beterbiev across the finish line and he was successful on 40 percent of his power punches (113 of 283) whereas Gvozdyk landed just 27 percent of his own power shots (94 of 354).

Gvozdyk suffered the only defeat of his professional career. It is just the second for him and his stablemates Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk, who together ran unchecked at the championship level. Usyk, for one, picked up a lineal title of his own at cruiserweight against Murat Gassiev in none other that Moscow, Russia.

Vengeance it could be said is Beterbiev’s and his countryman. Though having transplanted to Canada, he may be a lone wolf. He is as much in the light heavyweight division, by himself—atop them all, their new king.

Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (17-0, 9 KO) def. Luis Collazo (39-8, 20 KO) by decision

Abdukakhorov is still undefeated, scoring a technical decision over Collazo, after a headbutt in the tenth and final round opened up a severe gash over the gutsy veteran’s right eye.

Just a minute into Round 10, Abdukakhorov again found himself cornered, pressured into the ropes by the tattooed, snarling figure in front of him. He zagged diagonally to his right to escape, but Collazo simultaneously threw his weight into an overhand left putting both of their heads on a collision course.

The result was a clash with such force that Collazo tumbled over, hitting the deck. The American southpaw lifted his head to reveal a glowing red split above his eye, blood quickly streaking down his face.

Referee Benjy Esteves immediately sent the fight to scorecards. And all three judges scored the fight in Abdukakhorov’s favor: 98-92, 99-91 and 97-93.

Abdukakhorov, a 26-year-old technician out of Uzbekistan, remains unbeaten since turning professional in 2015.

Collazo, 38, may be longer in the tooth but was still competitive. At least until injuring his right arm halfway into the fight. Abdukakhorov’s pattering punches secured the first round but did nothing to keep the older man off of him. Collazo gladly walked through his opponent’s composite punching in the second frame.

Abdukakhorov was forced to outmaneuver Collazo’s barreling attack the rest of the way. His potshotting served him well. Switching between southpaw and orthodox, the Uzbek stylist repeatedly outjabbed Collazo over the distance.

But the action belonged to Collazo when Abdukakhorov caught himself in any corner of the ring. Sweeping right hand left hooks bounced off the upstart’s face. The American, though, could not keep up the pace: his offense all but limited to one hand in the latter stages and his gas tank depleting as the bout went on.

Abdukakhorov’s flawless record leaves him on the cusp of a world title fight, already the No. 1 contender to Errol Spence Jr.’s IBF belt. He is also world-rated by the WBC and WBO. Collazo saw his three-fight win streak snapped, a resurgent run that dated back to 2017.

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Artur Beterbiev vs Oleksandr Gvozdyk is a Can’t Miss Fight


By: Hans Themistode

Big fights come around in the sport of boxing, but not as much as they should.

The anticipation for a huge boxing event is almost like no other. Two star boxers at the peak of their powers going blow for blow to determine who is better, gives chills to the fans who witness it.

This Friday night at the Liacouras Center, in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, IBF Light Heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs) will look to prove that he is the best in the division when het takes on fellow champion, WBC belt holder Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs).


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

Since the announcement of this contest, the boxing world has been buzzing. It is truly a 50/50 bout between these two champions. With so many great boxers currently in the Light Heavyweight division, these two will be given the chance to prove that they are a step above the rest.

This matchup hasn’t just gotten fight fans excited, but it has also brung joy too long time boxing promoter Bob Arum.

“We’ve had some really good fights this year,” said Arum. “But I think this unification battle between Gvozdyk, the WBC champion and Beterbiev, the IBF champion is something really special. Not only do I think it will be fight of the year but I think it has the capability of being one of the best all-time boxing matches.”

Those are lofty expectations set by Arum, but one that could very well come to fruition.

Throughout the brief career of Beterbiev, he has proven to be a force in the division. His run to the IBF title has been one like no other. He has flat out dominated his competition in every aspect. None of his 14 pro fights have made it the distance. Still, even with a championship belt safely in his possession, he has faced no one of note.

Gvozdyk will prove to be his toughest opposition to date. The WBC titlist has had an impressive run through the division in his own right. His attraction as a true big time fighter began in 2017, when he dismantled former contender Yunieski Gonzalez. Gvozdyk toyed with him that night to the tune of a stoppage win. He would later stop Craig Baker later on that year as well.

The biggest win in the career of Gvozdyk occurred in 2018. He managed to fight his way to a mandatory position against long time champion Adonis Stevenson. In the bout, Gvozdyk stopped Stevenson in the eleventh round to claim his first ever world title.

This contest between these two heavy hitting champions have all of the ingredients to be a special night for the fans.

“I really look forward to a knock down drag out fight,” said Arum.

Gvozdyk is clearly the better boxer but he’s not a bad puncher either. He’s the complete package. Beterbiev is not just a good puncher, he’s a devastating puncher. He puts his opponents to sleep. I wouldn’t be surprised if both guys were on the deck at some point in the fight. Two great fighters, two undefeated fighters, fighting to unify the Light Heavyweight belts.”

With the anticipation for this contest at an all-time high, fans and media alike can’t wait to see the outcome this Friday night.

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Gvozdyk and Beterbiev Ready to Brawl in Light Heavyweight Unification Showdown


IBF light heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev and WBC light heavyweight world champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk ended their fight promotion obligations Wednesday at the office of Hall of Fame promoter J Russell Peltz. They posed for pictures in front of the fight poster for the legendary 1962 light heavyweight championship fight between Doug Jones and Harold Johnson, which took place at the old Philadelphia Arena.

Beterbiev and Gvozdyk will add to the city’s light heavyweight legacy Friday evening at the Liacouras Center, a throwback battle befitting a storied fight city.


Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Before the two combatants posed for photos and faced off at Peltz’s office/museum, they participated in a media roundtable. This is what they had to say.

Oleksandr Gvozdyk

On working with Teddy Atlas

“Teddy demands a lot of his fighters, and I am fine with that. Training camp is supposed to be hard, and we worked together to come up with the necessary game plan to beat Beterbiev.”

“Teddy is very picky, very particular, and this is what you need. Sometimes, you cannot right yourself. Sometimes, you think you’re too tired, sometimes you want to work more, but Teddy knows exactly what you’re supposed to do. And there is no place for argument. First of all, he is a good person because when I met him, I realized that. Like I’ve said a lot of times before, this type of person is already under extinction, probably even non-existent anymore. From his professional qualities, besides his qualities as a human being, he’s very smart, he has over 40 years in this business, and he never loses any small details, which is really important.”

“First of all, my dream is to become undisputed champion. This is the first step, and this is the necessary step. And the second thing is, this is what fans like to see. They don’t want to see champions fight some opponents or journeymen. Tough fights, which fans like to see. For me, it’s a big challenge.”

“For now, only one challenge and one opponent exists for me. I’m not even thinking about any other opportunities. Everything is possible in the future. Maybe go up {in weight} or go down. I think it’s possible, maybe hard, but possible. But again, right now, I’m not even thinking about it.”

Teddy Atlas (Gvozdyk’s trainer)

“Camp couldn’t be better. We got to where we want to be. You gotta go in there Friday night and execute, but everything is in place. Couldn’t ask for more.”

On moving training camp to Philadelphia

First of all, we didn’t have to acclimate to the time difference because we’d be in the same time zone, and being that the weather would still be good, there was no problem with training here on the East Coast. Sometimes, you have to worry about bad weather with training on the East Coast. We didn’t have to worry about that. And not having to get on a plane and go across the country on the Sunday before the fight was a nice thing.”

On fighting a big puncher like Beterbiev

“It’s just, again, a reminder that there’s no room for mistakes, that there’s gotta be full concentration for 36 minutes. You have to fight one round at a time, one three-minute round at a time. Not two minutes and 59 seconds, no. Not when you’re in there with a puncher who can change everything in a moment with one punch, as {Adonis} Stevenson almost did in the 10th round. The reason why he’s a champion is because he was able to handle that and was able to survive that. That’s why he’s a champion. You could look at all the other rounds and say he’s a champion because of this, he’s a champion because of that, he gave angles, he used the jab, he punched at the right time. But he’s a champion because, when the moment came, he behaved like a champion.”

“If there are moments to take bigger bites in this fight, we’re going to take them at whatever time that is. If it’s early, it’s early. If it’s late, it’s late. If it’s middle, it’s middle. He’s got great judgment and instincts, and we’ve put that in place, and I know we can depend on that judgment and those instincts when it’s time to take a bite, small or big. We never want to get greedy. You never want to get greedy, especially with a puncher.”

“I think this fight’s a little different than maybe some people envision it. It’s not going to be exactly the same as the Stevenson fight because we have a guy where there’s going to have to be moments… put it this way, there’s going to have to be moments to take bigger bites with this guy. And that doesn’t mean getting sloppy or careless or greedy, but it means what it means.”

Artur Beterbiev

On the amateur fight he won against Gvozdyk

“I think it was two rounds. But I don’t know, I heard Gvozdyk say I broke his nose. I don’t know that. He said that. It was only two rounds.”

Has Gvozdyk changed as a fighter since then?

“I think so. I changed. He changed. Everybody changed. His face changed, too. A little more hair.”

On starting to train in Russia before moving camp to Montreal

“I went to Russia just for vacation, but I wanted to be, like, active. I went to altitude. I used to {train} there when I was an amateur boxer. I had a good camp there. It was like preparation for our camp {in Canada} for eight weeks.”

On his past promotional difficulties and extended layoffs

“It was a difficult time, but I don’t want to talk about the past. I think the future is more happy. It’s hard when you have court and you have to train and be active. It’s hard, but I did that. Now, I have 100 percent time to focus on my fight and my career.”

Marc Ramsay (Beterbiev’s trainer)

“I’m not going to expose my tactics for Friday night today, but the thing is, when you go into a big fight like this, it’s important that you’re not surprised by anything. This is what we prepared for in the gym, technically, tactically, all aspects of boxing, like speed {and} power. We’re going to bring everything to the table on Friday.”

“We asked our management if we could have {unification} fights right away. This is what Artur wants, what I want as a trainer, and everybody wanted to go in this direction. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes, but I know it wasn’t very difficult looking back with this fight on the table. We said ‘yes’ right away, first day {it was offered}.”

ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT

Oleksandr Gvozdyk vs. Artur Beterbiev, 12 rounds, WBC/IBF light heavyweight world titles

Luis Collazo vs. Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, 10 rounds, welterweight

ESPN+, 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT

Michael Seals vs. Elio Trosch, 8 rounds, light heavyweight

Josue Vargas vs. Johnny Rodriguez, 8 rounds, super lightweight

John Bauza vs. Donald Ward, 8/6 rounds, super lightweight

Joseph Adorno vs. Damian Sosa 8 rounds, lightweight

Julian Rodriguez vs. Leonardo Doronio, 6 rounds, super lightweight

Jeremy Adorno vs. Misael Reyes, 4 rounds, super bantamweight

Sonny Conto vs. Steven Lyons, 4 rounds, heavyweight

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Lineal Light Heavyweight Crown on the Line Between Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Artur Beterbiev


By: Robert Aaron Contreras

Recently, Tyson Fury’s out-of-competition shenanigans and in-ring disappointment seem to have ramped up the talk of “lineal championships.” But the only one actually on the line this week is the light heavyweight crown between Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KO) and Artur Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KO), set for Friday, Oct 18, on ESPN.

Currently it is Gvozdyk with the lineage in tow. He staked his claim over Adonis Stevenson at the end of 2018. The 32-year-old former Olympian not only travelled to Quebec, Canada but ate a bevy of monster shots from Stevenson late in the fight, to overwhelm the longstanding beltholder in the penultimate round.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

Gvozdyk’s encore in March 2019 was another knockout—technically anyway—coming to fruition over Doudou Ngumbu. Ngumbu, an unorthodox banger, provided the champion no real challenge but indeed an unorthodox finish, injuring his leg in the fifth-round of the title tilt. Alas, the Ukrainian puncher remains undefeated—unmatched, at the top of top-heavy division.

Beterbiev will look to unseat him. Two months following Gvozdyk’s first title defense, Beterbiev matched his counterpart, finishing his own challenger in five rounds, but in more resounding fashion. The Russian bashed Radivoje Kalajdzic, who is no less a dynamite puncher. In close quarters Beterbiev’s crunching blows seem to be unstoppable.

The finish was Beterbiev’s second successful defense of his IBF title. He earned the crown over Enrico Koelling, who represented Germany in the 2012 Olympics. In Round 12, it was an overhand, cross-counter that sat Koelling on the seat of his pants where he was counted out for the only KO loss of the German’s 29-fight career.

Of the talented quartet of 175-pound titleholders, Gvozdyk vs. Beterbiev is just the unification to make. If that was not true before last weekend, Dmitry Bivol’s apathetic effort against an unheralded opponent solidified the case. Sergey Kovalev’s tangling with a middleweight does nothing to refute the matter either.

When the two best fighters in the class are pitted against each other, the trinkets and alphabet belts can seem like a moot point. But belts are currency in the fistic world. Stevenson, it should be recalled, would never had come out of hiding to face Gvozdyk if not for the Ukrainian warrior picking up the interim WBC strap.

Gvozdyk did not squander the opportunity. Fully living up to the golden era of Ukrainian boxing at hand, teaming up alongside countryman and Olympic teammates Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk in their collective siege of the sport. Beterbiev would be the legion’s toughest scalp yet.

Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0, 9 KO) vs. Luis Collazo (39-7, 10 KO)

Abdukakhorov is a boxer-puncher supreme and has in the past faced opponents very dangerous but never has he met a mainstream name like Collazo.

Abdukakhorov, 26, is undefeated in his career after fighting out of the hotbed that is Uzbekistan. He has competed once this year, decisioning the spark plug fighter Keita Obara. The points win was his fourth decision victory in his last five contests—including a dominant performance over touted Russian upstart Dmitry Mikhaylenko. But while he has slowly built a fine ledger, it has not come at the ferocious pace by which he exterminated Charles Manyuchi in the first half of 2017.

The knockout was stunning, quickly taking apart Manyuchi, who is known for making opponents miss, look silly, and unable to mount significant offense. But Abdukakhorov is something special.

As it turned out, it was a one-off, equal parts accurate punching and mental lapses from Manyuchi. It remains only his second TKO since graduating to the 12-round distance and the uptick in competition that comes with that. He is simply more of a tactical fighter. Especially considering his patient attack against Obara.

Collazo prefers the walloping brand of punching, overpowering the recognizable brawler Samuel Vargas earlier this year. The win extended the experienced New York native to three consecutive wins. A middling record made up the majority of his career since losing his world title to Ricky Hatton ages ago. Collazo dropped three more fights, two of which were championship bouts.

And coming off a punishing defeat to Keith Thurman, the stage seemed set for another loss to promotional favorite Sammy Vazquez. But Collazo would have none of it, overcoming two-to-one odds, and kickstarting his current win streak and unbelievably, at 38 years old, forcing his way into the title picture.

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Boxing Insider Notebook: Kovalev, Canelo, Garcia, Conto, Beterbiev, and more…


Compiled By: William Holmes

The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of October 8th to October 15th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.


Photo Credit: Joe Barbuto

South Philadelphia Heavyweight Sonny Conto Right at Home in the Columbus Day Parade

Sonny Conto took time out from preparing for his hometown bout on Oct. 18 to appear in the annual Columbus Day Parade in South Philadelphia. Riding in a convertible adorned with posters promoting his bout at Temple University’s Liacouras Center, Conto entertained the crowd and spent time after the parade, signing autographs and handing out TEAM CONTO headbands to fans.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Conto. “I went to this parade every year as a kid, and this year, I was actually in the parade. It’s an incredible feeling.”

Conto’s convertible was positioned just behind the car of famed Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo. Rizzo passed away in 1991, but is still a beloved figure among South Philadelphia’s Italian community.

Tomorrow it’s back to work for the heavyweight fighter, as he prepares for his bout this Friday.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Peltz Boxing, tickets priced at $150, $90, $75 and $50 (not including applicable fees) can be purchased at the Liacouras Center Box Office, www.liacourascenter.com or charge by phone at 800-298-4200.
A Russia-Ukraine Story Ten Years in the Making- Friday in Philadelphia

As Russia and Ukraine dominate the news, both countries have become inextricably linked to the current impeachment inquiry in Washington DC. Up the road in Philadelphia, two world champion boxers–one Russian, one Ukrainian–are preparing to meet in a light-heavyweight unification bout.

As their home countries wage war against each other, their thoughts are 5,000 miles away, focused not on the opponent’s country, but on the man he will meet in the center of the ring at Temple University’s Liacouras Center on Oct. 18. The winner will leave the ring as WBC/ IBF Light-Heavyweight Champion of the world.

Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs) is the current WBC Light- Heavyweight Champion, having defeated Adonis Stevenson via knockout in the 11th round of their Dec., 2018, bout in Quebec, Canada. The knockout would end Stevenson’s boxing career.

IBF Light-Heavyweight Champion Artur Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs) defeated Gvozdyk when the two met as amateurs–Beterbiev representing Russia, Gvozdyk representing Ukraine.

Ukraine Arrives on the American Stage

In recent weeks, calls for President Donald Trump’s impeachment became deafening after Ukraine released the transcript of a phone call between its President, former comedian Volodymir Zelensky, and Trump, which included an exchange about former Vice President and Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Trump urged the newly elected leader to investigate the younger Biden.

The impeachment inquiry will examine whether Trump held up $400M in aid to Ukraine with the intention of releasing it when the country began an investigation of Hunter Biden, and one into Ukraine’s role in the 2016 US Presidential election–a conspiracy theory, which Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, have repeatedly pushed publicly. The premise is that Crowdstrike, a California-based company that was brought in to investigate the Russian hack of the Democratic party’s servers that election year, is owned by a Ukrainian.

Zelensky, who played the President of Ukraine in a television show called Servant of the People for four years, was elected in a landslide victory in April and began his term as Ukraine’s sixth president in May. He’s an unwitting participant in American politics, which was made clear during a 10-hour, informal question-and-answer session last week with reporters in Ukraine. He spoke dismissively about the potential that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 election, saying he would have to be shown a reason to proceed with any joint “theoretical” investigation.

Like the boxers training in Philadelphia, who are focused on their fight and not on war and politics, his mind is elsewhere – working to end the conflict with Russia on Ukraine’s Eastern border.

His constituents, the people of Ukraine, are not focused on American politics and elections. “The Trump phone call is being covered right now in Ukraine,” said Petro Shugurov, former Ring Magazine Ukraine Writer and Contributing Editor who lives in the country. “Mostly just that Zelensky was involved. The Ukrainian people have enough to worry about with our own politics.”

The American and the Canadian

While the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has a complicated and lengthy history, the roads that led Beterbiev and Gvozdyk to Philadelphia are well-traveled.

“The Boxing Federations of Russia and Ukraine are very similar,” said Shugurov. “They still operate like they did during the days of the USSR. The Russian Federation is like God Almighty to boxers in Russia–there are a lot of programs to support them and they receive stipends.”

Both boxers were decorated amateurs. Beterbiev had over 300 amateur fights and won gold and silver in world-level contests in Milan and Chicago. Gvozdyk had over 250 amateur bouts and won a bronze medal for Ukraine in the 2012 Olympics in London.

Gvozdyk is followed closely by those in his home country of Ukraine and Ukrainians stateside, despite moving to California five years ago to focus on his career: “One month ago, we went to the Ukrainian Festival. There were a lot of Ukrainian people there and I was surprised that a lot of them knew me. We spent a couple hours there, signing autographs and taking photos.”

Gvozdyk, whose father had a brief career as an amateur boxer in Ukraine, is living out his dream in California. “When I asked my wife to come to California with me, to leave her home, she said the most important thing is that I’m going to go with you,” Gvozdyk said of his wife, Daria. He acknowledges that it can sometimes be difficult to be away from family as the two raise a family, but the kids–two boys and one girl, ages 3-10–have traveled the world with their parents. “Our kids are the most quiet kids on the plane when they travel. They don’t cry. They know it’s pointless.” Gvozdyk lost his mother in 2014.

Politics is not a topic that Gvozdyk is anxious to discuss, going so far as to say he doesn’t know what’s happening. “It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I’m just an athlete. I don’t want to make any parallels to the fight. I am living in California, he is living in Montreal. I just don’t know anything about it.”

“Teddy Atlas, Gvozdyk’s trainer, runs a tight ship,” said J Russell Peltz, who is co-promoting the championship fight with Top Rank. “It doesn’t surprise me that he’s not focused on what’s happening on the other side of the world.”

His opponent, Beterbiev, shared the sentiment. “Any war is bad for people, but I really don’t want to talk about it,” said the Russian, who relocated to Montreal six years ago to further his career. “It’s far from me in Canada.”

Shugurov hints at other motives at why the boxers don’t want to talk about life in the former Soviet bloc: “They are high-profile athletes and they don’t want to upset anyone. They don’t want to have problems like those that have happened with other boxers.

“Ukrainians and Russians are everywhere and they are like a network. Fighters as a whole don’t want to get involved. They want to make money and not have problems. Beterbiev, he’s Canadian now. Gvozdyk is American.”

Beterbiev’s family life nearly mirrors that of his opponent. Married with four children ages 2-8, Beterbiev lost his father to an accident when he was only sixteen. His father was just starting to enjoy his son’s career. “A couple days before he died, I won a bronze medal in a tournament. He said to me: ‘You won this fight. Now go go go. I believe in you.’”

Raising a family away from home hasn’t been easy for Beterbiev and his wife, Medena, though Beterbiev’s mother has traveled to Canada to help.

Much Can Change in Ten Years

Ten years ago, Ukraine was led by Viktor Yushchenko, who had survived an assassination attempt by poison five years prior. There was political chaos and a gas dispute with Russia. Putin was not yet President of Russia, but it was understood that he was in charge of the country. There was tension between the two countries, but nothing that matched the war and hostility they are facing today.

“We had beat Germany together,” said Shugurov. “We fought Nazis together. A whole lot of people believed we should be one country. While Ukraine had a Western-friendly leader, there was a brotherhood between the people of the countries.”

The US had a different president, one not embroiled in an impeachment inquiry permeated by Russian and Ukrainian ties.

Ten years ago, two fighters, one from Ukraine, one from Russia, met in a boxing ring with the Russian besting the Ukrainian. The two fighters, now husbands and fathers, undefeated world champion professionals, living away from home and seeking the glory that comes with unifying world titles, will meet in the most pivotal fight of their respective careers. It’s a fight that transcends politics and war, whose winner, at least in the boxing world, will be declared Unified Champion of the World.
Andrew “El Chango” Cancio to Face Rene Alvarado in Rematch for WBA Super Featherweight Title

WBA Super Featherweight World Champion Andrew “El Chango” Cancio (21-4-2, 16 KOs) will defend his title for a second time in a 12-round rematch against Rene “Gemelo” Alvarado (31-8, 20 KOs). The event will take place on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif. and will be streamed live exclusively as part of fight season on DAZN.

“Andrew Cancio is a very resilient fighter and has proven himself with his raw talent and passion, showing his true potential to grow in this industry. Meanwhile, Rene Alvarado has also put in hard work during his tenure, with an impressive determination in the ring that has kept up his winning streak over the past couple of years,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy. “This year, we’ve put on many high-quality bouts at Fantasy Springs and are confident this event will be the best so far. We’re also excited to add this card to this fall’s action-packed fight season on DAZN. You don’t want to miss this!”

Cancio is a 30-year-old world champion who recently made two back-to-back stoppage wins against former undefeated world champion Alberto “Explosivo” Machado. The native of Blythe, Calif. has become a hero in his hometown, where he received a “Key to the City” after his first win against Machado. Cancio is managed by Ray Chaparro and recently re-signed with Golden Boy before his win against Dardan Zenunaj. Since his return to the sport after a two-year hiatus, he has become one of Golden Boy’s most prominent and determined champions.

“I’m very excited to return to my second home, Fantasy Springs Casino on November 23 for the rematch with Rene Alvarado,” said Andrew Cancio. “This is my 12th time fighting there, and I love the enthusiasm my fans bring to the venue in support of my fights. Rene Alvarado and I have fought before and now he’s earned another opportunity to fight me. I know he’ll be very well prepared to try and take my WBA world title. However, I plan on defending my championship in impressive style once again and show boxing fans in attendance and watching on DAZN that I’m the best 130-pound fighter in the world, period!”

Alvarado is a 30-year-old super featherweight contender who has faced challenging opponents in his professional career including Robinson “Robin Hood” Castellanos, Rocky Juarez, Joseph “JoJo” Diaz, Manuel “Tino” Avila, Jayson Velez, Yuriokis “El Ciclon de Guantanamo” Gamboa, and Carlos “The Solution” Morales. A veteran in the ring that originates from Nicaragua, Alvarado hopes to avenge his loss against Andrew Cancio.

“Nicaragua is known for its great world champions, and I’m one step away from becoming one,” said Rene Alvarado. “I’m coming for the victory against Andrew Cancio on November 23. We know each other very well, and it’s going to be a war.”

In the co-main event, Xu Can (17-2, 3 KOs), China’s third world champion, will defend his WBA Featherweight World Title against rising contender Manny Robles III (18-0, 8 KOs) of Los Angeles in a 12-round fight. Robles is a crafty fighter whose grandfather and father were renowned trainers. After victories against the likes of Edgar “Kid Neza” Valerio and Rigoberto Hermosillo, Robles is ready to take on the biggest challenge of his career against a man who has become a national hero in his home country.

“I’m ready to make the second defense of my world title,” said Xu Can. “I defended it with honor in my home country of China, and now I’ll come back to the United States to defend it against a tough fighter. Manny Robles III as earned his opportunity. He is smart and tough, but I plan to remain champion for a very long time.”

“My time has come,” said Manny Robles III. “All of my amateur experience, the hours spent in the gym, and the tough fights as a professional have prepared me for this challenge. I’m ready to bring a world title to Los Angeles and make everyone at home proud. Xu Can is a phenomenal fighter, but on Nov. 23, the Robles family will crown its very own world champion.”

Rashidi “Speedy” Ellis (21-0, 14 KOs) of Boston will fight Eddie “Eboy” Gomez (23-3, 13 KOs) of the Bronx, N.Y. in a 10-round rematch for the vacant WBA Continental Americas Welterweight Title. Ellis is very close to a world title opportunity, while Gomez is eager to avenge his stunning first-round knockout loss to him in 2016.

Victor Morales Jr. (12-0, 7 KOs) of Vancouver, Wash. will return in an eight-round super featherweight bout. This will be Morales’ first fight on a Golden Boy card after signing with the company.

Alberto “Impacto” Melian (5-1, 3 KOs) of Buenos Aires, Argentina will participate in an eight-round super bantamweight fight. Melian is a two-time Olympian who will return after his first loss against Leonardo “Leon” Baez for the NABA Super Bantamweight Title.

Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (15-3-1, 6 KOs) of Urumqi, China will face Saul Corral (30-14, 20 KOs) of Sonora, Mexico in an eight-round super lightweight bout.

Daniel Barrera will make his professional debut in a four-round super flyweight fight.

Alex Rincon (7-0, 6 KOs) of Dallas will return in a six-round super welterweight fight.

Opponents for this undercard will be announced shortly.

Ryan Garcia to Face ‘Ruthless” Romero Duno in Co-Main Event of Canelo-Kovalev

The Canelo vs. Kovalev undercard will be brimming with action as it features the returns of Ryan Garcia, Bakhram Murtazaliev, Seniesa Estrada, Marlen Esparza and many others. The event will take place Saturday, Nov. 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will be streamed live exclusively as one of the most anticipated events this fight season on DAZN.

“We have put a lot of thought into this long-awaited night, and we’re eager to deliver one of the best undercards of the year,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy. “This event will feature some of our brightest talents taking on the toughest fights of their careers. With Ryan Garcia, we have a huge star in the making, but he’ll need to get past a tough, hard-hitting contender in Romero Duno to secure his path for a world title. We also have Seniesa Estrada and Marlen Esparza, who will look to final end their rivalry in a fight for the Interim WBA Flyweight Title. So, whether in person or live on DAZN, a new chapter in boxing’s history will unfold on November 2.”

As announced previously, rising superstar Ryan Garcia (18-0, 15 KOs) of Victorville, Calif. will look to unify the vacant WBC Silver Lightweight Championship with NABO Lightweight Champion “Ruthless” Romero Duno (21-1, 16 KOs) of Cotabato City, Philippines in the 12-round co-main event to Canelo vs. Kovalev. This will be a fight between two of the hardest-hitting lightweights in the Golden Boy stable.

“This is a big moment for me,” said Ryan Garcia. “These opportunities don’t come often. It’s my chance to show what I’m capable of on the biggest stage in boxing. I’m not going to let this opportunity slip. I’m fighting against Romero Duno, the opponent I wanted since the beginning, so I’m going show that I’ve reached another level on Nov. 2.”

“This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for,” said Romero Duno. “I’m so excited to be part of a such a big night as the co-main event of Canelo vs. Kovalev. This fight has been building up for some time. I’ve had my eye on Ryan Garcia for a while now. I promise to do everything it takes to beat him on Nov. 2 and take home a big victory for the Philippines!”

Undefeated Russian prospect Bakhram Murtazaliev (16-0, 13 KOs) will face the biggest test of his young career in a 12-round elimination bout with Jorge Fortea (20-1-1, 6 KOs) of Valencia, Spain for the mandatory position in the IBF Junior Middleweight Division. Murtazaliev was originally supposed to fight Jeison Rosario on September 21 for the #1 position but Rosario pulled out due to an injury. This exciting bout will be co-promoted by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Sampson Boxing.

“I have been waiting a long time for this opportunity. I am excited for my first fight with my new trainer, Virgil Hunter. We will be ready on November 2nd to face Fortea and become mandatory challenger. Thank you to my team Main Events, Krusher Promotions, Kathy Duva, Sergey Kovalev, my manager, Egis Klimas and Virgil Hunter for making my dream a reality.”

According to Fortea, “It’s a moment I have been waiting for whole my life, to be part of the undercard of Canelo vs Kovalev for my US debut is like a dream. I trained 15 years for this. I want to thank Sampson Lewkowicz for making it true, Main Events and Golden Boy for hosting the eliminator. Murtazaliev is indeed a strong and dangerous boxer but I will be ready for that and my skills will prevail. I won’t waste the opportunity to fight for a world title”

Bakhram is a terrific fighter and we are so pleased to be able to give him this great opportunity on such an auspicious night,” said Main Events’ CEO Kathy Duva. “With any luck, Main Events and Krusher promotions will have another world champion soon.”

Two of the most exciting and popular female boxers in the sport today will finally settle their heated rivalry as Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada (17-0, 7 KOs) of East Los Angeles, Calif. and Marlen Esparza (7-0, 1 KOs) of Houston, Texas battle for the vacant Interim WBA Flyweight Title. This clash has been building up for over two years as both fighters have been exchanging words over social media and various interviews.

“Thank you to my promoter Golden Boy, especially Roberto Diaz for making this fight possible,” said Seniesa Estrada.“I’m happy to give the fans the fight they’ve been wanting to see. I’m looking forward to representing women’s boxing in a positive way. I’m going to put on a great show and demonstrate my skills, showing things that people have not yet seen from me. Thank you to all the people who continue to support me.”

“My team and I have been pushing for this fight,” said Marlen Esparza. “I know this is what the fans want. Now I’m forcing her to back up everything she has ever said. She knows it’s going to be a long night for her.”

Blair “The Flair” Cobbs (12-0-1, 8 KOs), a fan-favorite native of Philadelphia, will fight for the vacant NABF Welterweight Title against Carlos Ortiz (11-4, 11 KOs) of Torreon, Mexico. Cobbs is an exciting, unconventional fighter who has taken the undefeated records of Ferdinand “Lucky Boy” Kerobyan and most recently against Steve “Manos de Oro” Villalobos.

Rising 17-year-old prospect Tristan Kalkreuth (2-0, 2 KOs) of Duncanville, Texas will return in a four-round cruiserweight fight.

Meiirim Nursultanov (12-0, 8 KOs) of Merki, Kazakhstan will fight in a 10-roumd middleweight battle against Cristian Olivas (16-5, 13 KOs) of San Ysidro, California for the WBC – USNBC Middleweight Title. Nursultanov is a top prospect in the hot middleweight division and is current ranked #10 in the IBF. Olivas hits hard with power in both hands and has never been stopped. This should be an explosive match-up.

Evan Holyfield, the son of legendary Hall of Famer Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield, will make his much-anticipated professional debut in a four-round junior middleweight fight against Nick Winstead (0-1) of Abita Springs, La.

Canelo –Kovalev Stacked Undercard at MGM on November 2nd

The Canelo vs. Kovalev undercard will be brimming with action as it features the returns of Ryan Garcia, Bakhram Murtazaliev, Seniesa Estrada, Marlen Esparza and many others. The event will take place Saturday, Nov. 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will be streamed live exclusively as one of the most anticipated events this fight season on DAZN.

“We have put a lot of thought into this long-awaited night, and we’re eager to deliver one of the best undercards of the year,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy. “This event will feature some of our brightest talents taking on the toughest fights of their careers. With Ryan Garcia, we have a huge star in the making, but he’ll need to get past a tough, hard-hitting contender in Romero Duno to secure his path for a world title. We also have Seniesa Estrada and Marlen Esparza, who will look to final end their rivalry in a fight for the Interim WBA Flyweight Title. So, whether in person or live on DAZN, a new chapter in boxing’s history will unfold on November 2.”

As announced previously, rising superstar Ryan Garcia (18-0, 15 KOs) of Victorville, Calif. will look to unify the vacant WBC Silver Lightweight Championship with NABO Lightweight Champion “Ruthless” Romero Duno (21-1, 16 KOs) of Cotabato City, Philippines in the 12-round co-main event to Canelo vs. Kovalev. This will be a fight between two of the hardest-hitting lightweights in the Golden Boy stable.

“This is a big moment for me,” said Ryan Garcia. “These opportunities don’t come often. It’s my chance to show what I’m capable of on the biggest stage in boxing. I’m not going to let this opportunity slip. I’m fighting against Romero Duno, the opponent I wanted since the beginning, so I’m going show that I’ve reached another level on Nov. 2.”

“This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for,” said Romero Duno. “I’m so excited to be part of a such a big night as the co-main event of Canelo vs. Kovalev. This fight has been building up for some time. I’ve had my eye on Ryan Garcia for a while now. I promise to do everything it takes to beat him on Nov. 2 and take home a big victory for the Philippines!”

Undefeated Russian prospect Bakhram Murtazaliev (16-0, 13 KOs) will face the biggest test of his young career in a 12-round elimination bout with Jorge Fortea (20-1-1, 6 KOs) of Valencia, Spain for the mandatory position in the IBF Junior Middleweight Division. Murtazaliev was originally supposed to fight Jeison Rosario on September 21 for the #1 position but Rosario pulled out due to an injury. This exciting bout will be co-promoted by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Sampson Boxing.

“I have been waiting a long time for this opportunity. I am excited for my first fight with my new trainer, Virgil Hunter. We will be ready on November 2nd to face Fortea and become mandatory challenger. Thank you to my team Main Events, Krusher Promotions, Kathy Duva, Sergey Kovalev, my manager, Egis Klimas and Virgil Hunter for making my dream a reality.”

According to Fortea, “It’s a moment I have been waiting for whole my life, to be part of the undercard of Canelo vs Kovalev for my US debut is like a dream. I trained 15 years for this. I want to thank Sampson Lewkowicz for making it true, Main Events and Golden Boy for hosting the eliminator. Murtazaliev is indeed a strong and dangerous boxer but I will be ready for that and my skills will prevail. I won’t waste the opportunity to fight for a world title”

“Bakhram is a terrific fighter and we are so pleased to be able to give him this great opportunity on such an auspicious night,” said Main Events’ CEO Kathy Duva. “With any luck, Main Events and Krusher promotions will have another world champion soon.”

Two of the most exciting and popular female boxers in the sport today will finally settle their heated rivalry as Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada (17-0, 7 KOs) of East Los Angeles, Calif. and Marlen Esparza (7-0, 1 KOs) of Houston, Texas battle for the vacant Interim WBA Flyweight Title. This clash has been building up for over two years as both fighters have been exchanging words over social media and various interviews.

“Thank you to my promoter Golden Boy, especially Roberto Diaz for making this fight possible,” said Seniesa Estrada. “I’m happy to give the fans the fight they’ve been wanting to see. I’m looking forward to representing women’s boxing in a positive way. I’m going to put on a great show and demonstrate my skills, showing things that people have not yet seen from me. Thank you to all the people who continue to support me.”

“My team and I have been pushing for this fight,” said Marlen Esparza. “I know this is what the fans want. Now I’m forcing her to back up everything she has ever said. She knows it’s going to be a long night for her.”

Blair “The Flair” Cobbs (12-0-1, 8 KOs), a fan-favorite native of Philadelphia, will fight for the vacant NABF Welterweight Title against Carlos Ortiz (11-4, 11 KOs) of Torreon, Mexico. Cobbs is an exciting, unconventional fighter who has taken the undefeated records of Ferdinand “Lucky Boy” Kerobyan and most recently against Steve “Manos de Oro” Villalobos.

Rising 17-year-old prospect Tristan Kalkreuth (2-0, 2 KOs) of Duncanville, Texas will return in a four-round cruiserweight fight.

Meiirim Nursultanov (12-0, 8 KOs) of Merki, Kazakhstan will fight in a 10-roumd middleweight battle against Cristian Olivas (16-5, 13 KOs) of San Ysidro, California for the WBC – USNBC Middleweight Title. Nursultanov is a top prospect in the hot middleweight division and is current ranked #10 in the IBF. Olivas hits hard with power in both hands and has never been stopped. This should be an explosive match-up.

Evan Holyfield, the son of legendary Hall of Famer Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield, will make his much-anticipated professional debut in a four-round junior middleweight fight against Nick Winstead (0-1) of Abita Springs, La.

More Headlines

Boxing Insider Notebook: Roy Jones, Yarde, Kovalev, Beterbiev, Gvozdyk, Imam, and more…


Compiled By: William Holmes

The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of August 13th to August 20th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.

Unbeaten Champions Beterbiev and Gvozdyk Set to Unify Titles October 18th in Philadelphia

Two very bad men are set for an old-fashioned Philadelphia throwdown.

WBC light heavyweight world champion Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk and IBF light heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev will fight in a highly anticipated title unification bout Friday, Oct. 18 at the Liacouras Center.

Beterbiev and Gvozdyk enter this can’t-miss clash with a combined record of 31-0 with 28 knockouts.

Gvozdyk-Beterbiev will headline a special edition of Top Rank on ESPN beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.

The undercard will stream live on ESPN+ — the industry-leading sports streaming service — beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Peltz Boxing, tickets priced at $150, $90, $75 and $50 (not including applicable fees) go on sale Friday, Aug. 23 at 12 p.m. ET and can be purchased at the Liacouras Center Box Office, www.liacourascenter.com or charge by phone at 800-298-4200.

“This could very well be the fight of the year,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “These are two evenly matched, undefeated light heavyweight champions. There is nothing better in the sport of boxing.”

“My first goal was to win a light heavyweight world title. Now, I want to unify the belts, and that mission starts with Artur Beterbiev,” Gvozdyk said. “This is going to be a spectacular fight, one that the fans will enjoy. The fans asked for this fight, and we will deliver. One thing I know is that I will be the unified champion. I have the best trainer, Teddy Atlas, in my corner. This is our third fight together, and under his guidance, I will continue to get better.”

“I wish to thank Top Rank and my opponent, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, for making this unification bout possible and giving the fans around the world what they want,” Beterbiev said. “This will be a great fight between the two champions who aspire to become the undisputed light heavyweight world champion. I am looking forward to stepping into the ring on October 18.”

Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs) will be making the second defense of the title he won from longtime champion Adonis Stevenson in a come-from-behind 11th-round KO last December in Quebec City, Canada. He followed up the Stevenson win with a dominant fifth-round TKO March 30 over Doudou Ngumbu in Philadelphia, where a large Ukrainian contingent showed up to cheer on their countryman. Gvozdyk captured a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, where he was teammates with current professional stablemate and pound-for-pound great Vasiliy Lomachenko. A five-year pro, Gvozdyk climbed the ranks with victories over established veterans like Isaac Chilemba, Yunieski Gonzalez and Nadjib Mohammedi.

Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs), a former Russian amateur star, has a come-forward, take-no-prisoners ring approach that has made him the only current world champion with a 100 percent KO ratio. He won the vacant IBF world title with a 12th-round TKO over Enrico Koelling, preserving his perfect KO record by stopping Koelling with 27 seconds left in the bout. His two title defenses have lasted a total of nine rounds, and most recently, he walked through longtime contender Radivoje “Hot Rod“ Kalajdzic in five rounds in the main event of the May 4 Top Rank on ESPN telecast.

Amir Imam Signs with Top Rank

Amir Imam, a former super lightweight world challenger known for his explosive knockouts, has signed a multi-year promotional agreement with Top Rank.

Imam (21-2, 18 KOs) has been out of the ring since March 17, 2018, the evening he challenged Jose Ramirez for the vacant WBC super lightweight world title. He lost via unanimous decision in a brutal toe-to-toe battle to Ramirez, who is currently the unified WBC/WBO 140-pound world champion.

Imam will campaign at either super lightweight or welterweight, and he recently enlisted the services of South Florida-based manager Peter Kahn. He is expected to make his long-awaited ring return later this year.

“I am grateful to have joined the best promotional company in boxing. I have learned a lot from my past fights and have made positive changes that will allow me to succeed as I move forward to my goal of becoming a world champion,” Imam said. “I’m eager to get back into the ring before the end of the year and showcase my skills as part of the Top Rank team. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for me.”

“Amir Imam is a naturally gifted fighter who can best be defined as potential unrealized to this point in his career,” Kahn said. “He has the physical and mental tools to be a world champion. He’s a perfect fit for Top Rank. Whether Amir continues to campaign at super lightweight or welterweight remains to be seen, but the fans will see a rejuvenated, well-prepared Amir who is on a mission to be a world champion.”

Imam, from Albany, New York, knocked out 12 out of his first 13 opponents in the paid ranks, and won an eight-round unanimous decision in 2014 over Yordenis Ugas, who is currently one of the welterweight division’s top contenders. He scored highlight-reel knockouts over Jason Robinson and Fidel Maldonado before being stopped in shocking fashion by Adrian Granados in 2015. Imam rebounded with three consecutive knockout wins before locking horns with Ramirez in a memorable clash at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Carlos Takam Signs with Star Boxing

Star Boxing is excited to officially announce the signing of distinguished heavyweight title contender CARLOS TAKAM (36-5-1 28KO’s) of France, by way of Douala, Cameroon. Standing at 6’3″, the heavy handed, Takam has taken on some of the best in the business, in the heavyweight division. Star Boxing revealed the signing last week on its social media platforms.

Takam was an amateur standout in Cameroon. In 2003, he competed in the All-African Games in Nigeria, finishing with a bronze medal. In 2004, Takam qualified for the Athens, Greece Summer Olympics by earning Gold at the AIBA African Olympic Qualifying tournament in Morocco. Later that year, representing his native country of Cameroon, Takam fought in the Summer Olympic games in Athens, Greece, making it to the sweet sixteen.

Turning pro in 2005, just one year after the Olympics, Takam was an immediate force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division. After securing a record of 23-1 with 18KO’s, Takam defeated GBENGA OLUOKUN (then 18-5 12KO’s) by TKO to earn his first professional title, becoming the WBO International African Heavyweight Champion. Since then, Takam has held multiple titles, including the WBC Silver World Championship, the IBF Intercontinental Championship, and the WBF World Championship.

From 2011 on, Takam fought a gruesome list of boxing’s best heavyweights which include, heavyweight world title challengers, FRANS BOTHA (then 48-6-3 29KO’S), MICHAEL GRANT (then 48-7 36KO’S), TONY THOMPSON (then 39-4 27KO’s), JOSEPH PARKER (Then 18-0 16KO’s), DERECK CHISORA (then 28-8 21KO’s) as well as former world champion, ALEXANDER POVETKIN (then 27-1 20KO’s). In 2017, Takam challenged ANTHONY JOSHUA (19-0 19KO’s) in the biggest, bout of his career, for the WBA, IBF and IBO World Heavyweight Titles.

In Takam’s last bout in December 2018, he defeated German prospect, SENAD GASHI (then 17-1 17KO’s) who was favored in the bout. Gashi was a 5x Saarland Champion, 2x Gold International Boxing champion, 2x Gold German Open champion, amongst many other accolades in the amateurs. The bout took place at the 02 Arena in London, ending in a seventh round TKO victory for Takam.

Takam said this about signing with Star Boxing, “I’m very happy to sign with Joe and Star Boxing. It’s almost one year now I’m free agent. I didn’t sign with any promoter. I have had several propositions on the table, but with Joe [DeGuardia], the way I see, I have good feeling that we can achieve my potential together. I have big ambition in boxing for these coming years. Because I was taking my time looking around before to make any decision. I am ready to do the job.”

Manager of Carlos Takam, DWIGHT YARDE, had this to say about the opportunities that are ahead for Team Takam with Star Boxing, “Exciting times in the heavyweight division! I have known Joe [DeGuardia] for some 20 years and truly believe he is the man to take Team Takam to the heavyweight title. With Carlos’ ability as a fighter, nothing can stop us now. Heavyweight division watch out – we are coming.”

Star Boxing CEO, JOE DEGUARDIA said this about the signing of Takam, “Carlos is a world class heavyweight who has faced some of the best in the division. Throughout boxing history, the heavyweight division has always cultivated the most buzz, and that buzz is back.” DeGuardia continued, “I think highly of Carlos. The hard-core boxing experts know how good he is, but now he will show the casual fans and will surprise many as to how good he can still be. We are really excited to bring some big things to the table for him, and are confident that a heavyweight championship of the world bout is in his future.”

Kovalev-Yarde Headlines Special Afternoon of Boxing on ESPN+

WBO light heavyweight champion and future Hall of Famer Sergey Kovalev will face off against his hard-hitting mandatory challenger, Anthony Yarde, in a highly anticipated showdown Saturday, Aug. 24 from Traktor Arena in Kovalev’s hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia.

Kovalev-Yarde will stream live and exclusively in the United States on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT. The stream will also showcase the co-feature bout between unbeaten cruiserweight contender Aleksei Papin (11-0, 10 KOs) and former world title challenger Ilunga Makabu (25-2, 24 KOs). Fans in the U.S. can sign up at www.ESPNplus.com or on the ESPN App.

“I am thrilled to fight for the first time in my hometown of Chelyabinsk,” Kovalev said. “It is a dream to defend my WBO title in front of all my friends and family back home. I am also thankful ESPN+ will show the fight to my fans in the U.S. Thank you to Igor Altushkin, Egis Klimas, Main Events and Top Rank for making this dream a reality, and thank you to Anthony Yarde for agreeing to fight in my home.”

“Sergey has done just about everything a professional fighter can do, other than fight in his own hometown,” said promoter Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. “One of the sport’s greatest road warriors, Sergey will finally get the chance to salute his legion of fans in Chelyabinsk, where he grew up. It will be an exciting, long overdue homecoming for Sergey. And I am so happy to confirm that Sergey’s many fans in the U.S. will be able to watch this great event only on ESPN+. I wish to thank Igor Altushkin, German Titov and everyone at RCC for making this all possible. I also wish to thank Bob Arum and Top Rank for their continued support.”

Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) is a veteran of 15 world title bouts and has won the light heavyweight world title on three occasions. A former unified champion, he revived his career in February by scoring a wide points win over Eleider Alvarez, the man who’d knocked him out less than six months prior. One of this generation’s most decorated champions, Kovalev holds victories over Jean Pascal, Nathan Cleverly and living legend Bernard Hopkins. In Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs), he faces a London native with a giant hand who is taking a giant step up in competition. Yarde has won his last 16 bouts by knockout, most recently stopping Travis Reeves in five rounds in a bout that streamed on ESPN+. This will be only his second pro bout outside of England.

Roy Jones Junior Boxing Announces Deal with Eldorado Group to Co-Promote Multiple Installments on UFC Fight Pass

Roy Jones Jr. (RJJ) Boxing Promotions has reached an exclusive agreement with Eldorado Group to co-promote multiple installments of “RJJ Boxing on UFC FIGHT PASS®,” commencing October 25 with Joey Gilbert Promotions in Reno, Nevada.

The Oct. 25th show in Reno will be streamed live and exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS, the world’s leading digital subscription service for combat sports, starting at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT, from a venue to be determined.

“Everyone has seen all the excitement the Eldorado Group has going on,” RJJ Boxing CEO and Co-Founder Keith Veltre said. “Signing a deal of this magnitude is sending a strong message to the public that Eldorado Group wants to deliver the best in combat sports to its customers. Adding Joey Gilbert as a co-promoter only adds to the growing excitement RJJ Boxing Promotions has in the store for the future. Joey is a massive asset to what we are doing. Roy and I are super happy that he’s part of the team.”

In addition to being a combat sports promoter, Gilbert is a criminal defense and personal injury lawyer in Reno, as well as a sports agent and motivational speaker. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Nevada, where he was an outstanding amateur boxer, double majoring in English Literature and Political Science, and he went on to graduate from Thomas Jefferson Law School in San Diego.

Now retired as a boxer, Gilbert fought professionally from 2000-2010, compiling a 20-3 (15 KOs) record. He gained tremendous exposure participating in popular reality television series, The Contender, Season One.

“I am thrilled to bring professional boxing back to Reno,” CEO Joey Gilbert commented. “Reno has always been a fight town. I benefitted from this as both an amateur and professional fighter. I am beyond delighted to be involved in this endeavor with Roy Jones, Jr., who I have always held in such high regard, and looked up to as a fighter.

“I have been thoroughly impressed with the RJJ Boxing executive team and CEO Keith Veltre, who certainly produces one of the highest-quality and exciting boxing shows that I have ever seen. Together with UFC FIGHT PASS, we will absolutely impress and exceed expectations of all local fight fans, and The Row will be hosting this exciting opportunity. This will be one of many new fighting opportunities for our community to enjoy. I am excited that Eldorado Resorts International threw its proverbial hat in the ring to support this program. It’s safe to say that I can see this being the first fight series of many across numerous El Dorado International properties in the United States.”

The fight card will be announced at a future date.

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Beterbiev, Ancajas Win In Stockton, Flores Impresses


By: Sean Crose

IBF light heavyweight champ, and undefeated knockout king Artur Beterbiev, 13-0, defended his belt against the 24-1 Radivoje Kalajdzic Saturday night in a Stockton, California card that was aired live on ESPN. First up on the televised broadcast, the 30-1-2 Jerwin Ancajas defended his IBF super flyweight strap against the 31-7 Ryuichi Funai. The first round was a relatively close affair. The second saw Ancajas going to his man’s body, with both men exchanging fast, solid head shots. The third round had both men engaging in a high octane performance. Ancajas landed well, but Funai was most certainly in the fight.

Ancajas hurt Funai in the fourth, but the game challenger survived the round, and even managed to keep trading punches. To his credit, Funai stayed alive in the fifth – but was taking some sharp punching from the defending champion. The sixth saw Ancajas land one straight head shot after another. At the start of the seventh, the ring doctor wisely stopped the match, as Funai at that point was absorbing much punishment.

Next up, undefeated local lightweight Gabriel Flores, 12-0, faced off against Eduardo Reis, 23-5, in a scheduled six rounder. Flores started strong and looked sharp in the first. Flores came out in the second and ripped Reis’ body. To his credit, Reis showed enough defensive skill to effectively survive the round. It proved to be of little use. An absolutely thunderous left hook put Reis down and ended the night for the lightweight in the seventh.

It was time for the main event. Kalajdzic found Beterbiev going straight at him at the opening bell. He quickly adjusted, and both men took to maneuvering in order to dictate the tempo. Beterbiev began to assert himself in the second. The third round was a slug fest, with Beterbiev taking his man down – but not out – in the final minute. Round four was wild. Both men swung furiously, though Beterbiev was clearly the stronger of the two combatants. Beterbiev started banging away in the fifth. The fight was then smartly halted. Beterbiev improved his record to 13-0, all by stoppage, and was able to successfully hold onto his belt.

The light heavyweight division is now one of the more interesting weight realms in boxing, with all major titles being held by men who might all stack up competitively against one another. After emerging victorious on Saturday, Beterbiev indicated he was ready to collect more of the division’s major titles.

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Beterbiev: “I Want To Unify The Titles”


By: Sean Crose

“My preparation was excellent,” says IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev. “I look forward to showing the American fans my talent, and I am glad to be fighting in such a great light heavyweight division.” It’s easy to overlook the fact that the 13-0 Beterbiev, who has won all his bouts by knockout, is fighting this Saturday night due to this weekend’s Canelo-Jacobs match sucking all the oxygen out of the figurative ring. The hard hitting Russian will indeed be fighting, however, in Stockton, California, on a card that will be aired live on ESPN.

Beterbiev’s opponent will be the 24-1 Radivoje Kalajdzic, who has stopped his last three opponents within the distance. What’s more, Kalajdzic’s only loss (which came via split decision) was to the undefeated Marcus Brown for the WBC light heavyweight title back in 2016. “I have a great opponent on Saturday night,” Beterbiev says, “but of course, I want to unify the titles. There are many great light heavyweights, and as a fighter, I want to test myself against the best. I want to be No. 1 in the division.”

As for Kalajdzic, the man is thrilled with the opportunity Saturday has presented him with. “About two years ago,” he says, “I quit boxing. I had a really bad injury, got a job and went up to 225 pounds. Mentally, physically, I was done. Then, I had this procedure, stem cells, and over time it did a miracle. Look at me now. I’m on ESPN fighting for a world title. Life is great.”

Kalajdzic also feels Saturday’s bout will be rewarding for the fans. “I was excited,” he says of finding out he could be Beterbiev’s next opponent, “because I had been telling my manager that (Beterbiev) was one of the guys that I would pick if I could. When I got the call, I didn’t hesitate. I took the fight. It’s going to be a fun fight. He comes forward. I come forward. It’s going to be a fun fight for the fans.”

Saturday’s ESPN card also features the 30-1-2 Jerwin Ancajas defending his IBF super flyweight title against the 31-7 Ryuichi Funai. Ancajas is looking to impress after battling Alejandro Santiago Barrios to a draw last September. “”The last time I fought, I was not happy with the result,” Ancajas says. “For this fight, we did some different things in training to prepare 100 percent for the challenge in front of us. We prepared for all different types of styles, which will help me adjust as the fight goes on. My sparring partners were excellent, and you will see the result of that training on Saturday night.”

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Artur Beterbiev To Leave DAZN For New Deal With Top Rank and ESPN


By Jake Donovan

A new year, another new platform for Artur Beterbiev.

Just one fight into his recently signed deal with Eddie Hearn and sports streaming service DAZN USA, the unbeaten light heavyweight titlist from Canada has decided to sever all ties and start fresh in 2019. That path will lead to a lucrative pact with Top Rank and ESPN.

Le Journal de Montreal was the first to report this development.


Photo Credit: Artur Beterbiev Twitter Account

Beterbiev (13-0, 13KOs)—who has for years has held a tumultuous relationship with promoter Yvon Michel signed a three-fight co-promotional agreement with Hearn last summer, leading to his appearance on the stateside launch of DAZN USA’s boxing content.

The 33-year old retained his perfect 100% knockout-to-win rate, but had to climb off the canvas before putting away previously unbeaten Callum Johnson in the 4th round of their title fight last October in Chicago, Ill.

His next fight was to come in December at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, where Beterbiev would’ve faced Long Island’s Joe Smith Jr. The light heavyweight title fight would’ve been the perfect complement to the debut of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez both at MSG and on DAZN, but Beterbiev balked at the fight, instead electing to sit out the rest of 2018.

The new year only produced the same tricks.

A second attempt to reschedule Beterbiev-Smith led event handlers to tentatively set aside a late February date at Nassau Coliseum, less than an hour from Smith’s eastern Long Island hometown of Mastic, New York. Beterbiev once again reversed course, this time with the real reasons revealed—his intentions to fight elsewhere.

Despite a three-fight deal in place, the light heavyweight titlist found a loophole that could potentially end the deal. According to a report from The Ring senior writer Mike Coppinger, Beterbiev’s promotional pact with Michel only remained in place through his alignment with adviser Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) platform.

Haymon agreed to release Beterbiev in lieu of going to court over failure to meet his mandatory minimum of contractually guaranteed fights, which in turn nullified the boxer’s existing agreement with Michel. In turn, it would also effectively terminate any such arrangement with Hearn and DAZN, although that side is still being sorted out.

While there remains a chance that Beterbiev and Michel—who has a strong relationship with Top Rank founder Bob Arum—will remain in business together, his next move in the ring won’t take place until past business is cleared up.

What’s abundantly clear is that his next fight won’t come against Smith Jr., who is now being steered towards a March 9 title challenge of unbeaten Dmitry Bivol.

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Somebody’s 0 Has Got to Go: The Top Three Fights Fans Want to See


By: Oliver McManus

“Somebody’s 0 has got to go”, it’s possibly the most used phrase in modern boxing. Mind you, if David Diamante has his way it will soon become “let’s nix a nil” but the premise remains the same, two unbeaten fighters putting their records on the line in, hopefully, guts-and-glory encounters.

Don’t get me wrong, a loss doesn’t make you a bad fighter and beating an unbeaten man doesn’t, equally, make you a star player in the sport. As we’ve seen recently there have been a fair few damp squibs when it comes to unbeaten vs unbeaten – Andrade vs Kautondokwa, anyone?

Nonetheless there are plenty of mouth-watering fights in prospect and these are three fights I want to see, at world level, where someone’s 0 has got to go…

Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk – Heavyweight

Where better place to kick off than in the heavyweight division? Anthony Joshua has had things pretty much his own way at the top of the game since winning his first world title – sanctioned by the IBF- in 2016. Since that capitulation of Charles Martin, Joshua has fought in six world title bouts and added the WBA, WBO and IBO straps to his collection.

With a touted fight against Deontay Wilder falling by the wayside – take whoever’s side you want on that thorny issue – Joshua is next out on April 13th, at Wembley, with an opponent yet to be scheduled in.

But I’ll be honest, the tag of undisputed aside, I’d much rather see AJ in with the man who holds all of the cruiserweight belts and, arguably, one of the best in the world pound for pound. Usyk seems to me, and many others, the toughest challenge that Joshua can face.

Technically he is sublime and he possesses the heavyweight power required to take Joshua into deep water but, let’s not forget, Usyk has amateur pedigree in the heavier division so it’s not like he’s inexperienced at the weight. Even having said that experience wouldn’t be an issue for someone of such natural quality as Usyk for his fight IQ and ring-ability transcends weight classes.

Coming off the back of a breezy fight against Tony Bellew in which, if we’re honest, he never looked out of control the natural step is for Usyk to go up to heavyweight. Joshua, we know, is searching for “legacy defining” fights and a bout against Oleksandr Usyk is about as big as they come.

The fight seems the most realistic, out of all the big heavyweight contests, with Eddie Hearn taking an active involvement in the promotion of the Ukrainian powerhouse so, fingers crossed, we could see a blockbuster event next year.

Winner of Errol Spence Jnr and Mikey Garcia vs Terence Crawford – Welterweight

Announced last week is the fight that, if we’re honest, made no real sense. Mikey Garcia was the man we all wanted to see fight Vasyl Lomachenko and Errol Spence was the champion looking to unify with Terrence Crawford.

The IBF Welterweight title will be on line come March 16th with Garcia looking to become a five weight champion in his 40th fight. A frighteningly skilled boxer, the California native has continually proved his credentials with a frightening knockout power.

In his last three fights Garcia has been extended the distance but has boxed with class throughout the 36 rounds, controlling the pace of the fight and manouvering his way out of danger with a comprehensive ease.

Errol Spence Jnr goes into the bout with an obvious weight advantage – fighting 12lbs heavier than the division in which Garcia actively holds a world title. 2 years the younger man, Spence burst onto the scene in 2016 with knockout victories over Chris Algieri and Leonard Bundu.

Having captured the IBF crown with a ferocious victory against Kell Brook, in Sheffield, the Texas-man has defended the belt twice in equally terrifying fashion. A non-stop work rate with continual punch output, if you let the champion unfurl his hands then you’re going to be in trouble.

And whilst the question of weight will loom over the bout until fight night, Garcia is a consummate professional and an outstanding athlete. For a man trying to prove his ability in the welterweight division, there could be no better way to silence the critics than claiming a world title in your first fight so that’s where Terence Crawford comes into play.

Errol Spence is the man that people wanted to see in a unification class with Bud, they would produce a scintillating fight. If Mikey Garcia is able to overcome such a challenge then he will have instantaneously justified getting a fight with the WBO champion.

All roads lead to unification, or so they… bring it on!

Artur Beterbiev vs Dmitry Bivol – Light Heavyweight

We’ll deal with the younger boxer first in Dmitry Bivol who ticked over towards the back of 2014 with a Bronze Medal at the 2008 Youth World Championships and a Gold Medal at the 2013 World Combat Games. A two time Russian national champion with a record of 268-15, his amateur pedigree was impressive but paled in comparison to his counterpart.

As a professional, though, the 27 year old really turned up the heat by claiming the first, major, belt of his career in just his fifth fight. The knockout power we all enjoy was evident from the first second of his debut but, with that, he’d find opponents looking to hold and just survive through the early phases. Not that that mattered, Bivol has always found ways of punishing his opponent.

Even when he has been stretched the distance – three times in 14 fights – the Kyrgyzstan-born man has always looked in complete control with an array of power punches as well as technical skill. Of course we’ll all remember his fierce one-punch knockout over, admittedly over-matched, Trent Broadhurst that saw Bivol claimed champion.

Successful defences against Sullivan Barrera and Isaac Chilemba have followed – he next fights Jean Pascal on the 24th – but surely the Russian will be eying up the options for unification come the turn of the year.

Beterbiev, on the other hand, turned pro in the middle of 2013 and initially built up a strong following in Canada – the elite amateur (World Champion & runner up, two-time European champion) had moved to Montreal in order to purse his professional ambitions.

At 5 and 0 he stepped up to face Tavoris Cloud – a former IBF champion – and dealt with the threat of the American, coming off a world title loss, in convincing fashion. The momentum from this bout seemed to follow as Beterbiev looked to fight better opponents at every opportunity possible.

A refreshing attitude of “fight who’s in front of me and knock them out” has ensured success with all thirteen of his wins coming via an early stoppage. A grizzly fighter, that’s the best way to describe it, Beterbiev never looks the fastest of opponents but, boy, does he have vicious punch power.

Typically standing with his hands at shoulder level, the 33 year old stands ready to pounce and is mature enough not to go out all-guns-blazing. The IBF champion won his title against Enrico Koelling last November and, in a fight that ended in the 12th, boxed patiently and calmly to do so.

Two unbeaten Russian powerhouses, slugging it out to unify light heavyweight world titles… what more could you ask for?

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Artur Beterbiev vs. Joe Smith Jr. Title Fight Targeted For December


By Jake Donovan

The biggest knock on Artur Beterbiev in recent years has been his criminally infrequent fight schedule. His team has taken note and is now making up for lost time.

The unbeaten light heavyweight titlist from Canada by way of Russia will make the second defense of his title in late December, in a development first reported by RDS Canada. Beterbiev’s promoter, Yvon Michel has revealed the defense will come versus New York’s Joe Smith, landing on either December 15 in New York City or December 22 in Atlantic City.

Several moving parts will dictate when exactly the 33-year old knockout will next fight. The good news is that either date puts Beterbiev (13-0, 13KOs) back in the ring less than three months after his most recent start, a 4th round knockout of Callum Johnson on October 6 in Chicago, Ill.


Photo Credit: Artur Beterbiev Twitter Account

“It is almost certain that Artur will fight against Joe Smith,” Michel told RDS CA on Monday. “What is less certain is (the exact date). One thing is for sure; (Beterbiev’s) next fight will take place in 2018.”

Sports streaming app DAZN USA will carry the event, regardless. Whether it’s on December 15 or December 22 depends almost entirely on the streaming service securing the rights to the December 15 showdown between secondary super middleweight titlist Rocky Fielding and reigning World middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

A press conference to formally announce the event—which will take place at Madison Square Garden in NYC—will be held on Wednesday in NYC. It has been widely speculated that DAZN will win the sweepstakes, although HBO—with whom Alvarez enjoyed an exclusive contact since 2014, but is now exiting the boxing business—very much remains a contender, in what could be (through its Pay-Per-View arm) its final boxing broadcast of a storied 45-year run as the industry leader.

Should DAZN win the sweepstakes, Beterbiev’s title defense will land as the chief support. Otherwise, he will headline a separate card in Atlantic City. Either scenario will mark the East Coast debut for the hard-hitting light heavyweight, who earlier this month traded knockdowns with Johnson before putting away the previously unbeaten Brit in a bout that served on the stateside debut of DAZN USA’s boxing series.

The win was Beterbiev’s first piece of ring action since a 12th round stoppage of Enrico Koelling last November in Fresno, California. He hadn’t fought in 11 months prior to that bout, having boxed just twice in each of the prior two years (2015 and 2016).

It’s been a frustrating past few years for the former amateur standout and two-time Russian Olympian, but an alignment with promoter Eddie Hearn—DAZN’s primary content provider—is already promising better days ahead.

“Artur Beterbiev (versus) Joe Smith Jnr for the IBF World title done for DAZN USA in December,” Hearn announced via his verified social media account on Monday. “(It’s) going to be a WAR! Date and venue announced very soon!”

Meanwhile, news of the title shot is still resonating with Smith since he was already training for another heavily rumored opportunity.

The full-time union worker and top-rated light heavyweight contender from Eastern Long Island was previously linked to a November 24 title challenge versus unbeaten Dmitry Bivol. That bout was due to headline on HBO, but is now just left as Bivol headlining the show although former champ Jean Pascal has since been suggested as the new opponent.

Regardless, it remains the first career title fight for Smith Jr. (24-2, 20KOs), who is best known in boxing circles for his knockout win over future Hall of Famer and retiring former two-division champ Bernard Hopkins in Dec. ’16. The feat came six months after he scored a shocking 1st round knockout of then top-rated contender Andrzej Fonfara, in a bout which aired live on free-to-air NBC in primetime.

The win over Hopkins was the first of two HBO appearances for Smith Jr., who seven months later returned to the network in a 10-round loss to perennial top contender Sullivan Barrera. The setback was not without its moral victory, as the now 29-year old New Yorker was celebrated for having fought through a broken Jaw for most of the fight.

Just one fight has since come from the healing process, a rust-shaking 1st round knockout of Melvin Russell this past June in Uncasville, Conn. It was enough to put him back in the title mix, not having to wait very long – or wasting any time in preparing for the life-changing opportunity.

“All I can tell you is that Joe Smith is training very hard,” Phil Capobianco, Smith’s manager told BoxingInsider.com on Monday. “He will definitely fight (for the title) before the end of the year.”

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DAZN Boxing Preview: Beterbiev vs. Johnson and Vargas vs. Dulorme


By: Sean Crose

Artur Beterbiev will defend his IBF light heavyweight title on Saturday night when he faces Callum Johnson in a twelve round bout. The match will be aired live on the DAZN streaming network from the Wintrust Arena in Chicago. Johnson, an undefeated Englishman with an impressive 17-0 record, is the underdog walking into the bout, though he has expressed confidence that he will pull off the upset against the 12-0 Beterbiev. Johnson will have quite the challenge in front of him, as Beterbiev has knocked out every opponent he has faced. Johnson himself has some power, as all but five of his own bouts have ended by knockout.

LA’s Daniel Roman will also appear on Saturday’s card, putting his WBA super bantamweight strap on the line when he faces Gavin McDonnell in a twelve rounder. Roman, 25-2-1, will be making his first defense of his title when he steps into the ring to fight his 20-1-2 opponent. This will be Roman’s third title defense since besting Shun Kubo in 2017. It will be McDonnell’s second attempt at a title belt. He lost to Ray Vargas by decision last year in a contest where the WBC super bantamweight title was at stake.


Photo Credit: Artur Beterbiev Twitter Account

Well known former welterweight titlist Jessie Vargas will be on Saturday’s card, as well. He’ll be fighting for the first time since battling Adrien Broner to a draw last spring. Vargas, who has faced such big name competition as Sadam Ali, Tim Bradley and the iconic Manny Pacquiao, will be fighting veteran Thomas Dulorme for the WBC silver welterweight title. It will be the 24-3 Dulorme’s first fight since dropping a decision to Yordenis Ugas in 2017. It will be the 28-2-1 Vargas’ first title bout since losing his WBO belt to Pacquiao in November of 2016.

Aside from the numerous title bouts that will go down in Chicago this weekend, colorful heavyweight Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller will throw down against the popular Tomasz Adamek. Although the charismatic Miller is widely expected to win, there’s a lot at stake for the 21-0-1 Brooklyn native. For, perhaps by virtue of being connected to British promoter Eddie Hearn, Miller has hoped to find himself in line to face Hearn fighter Anthony Joshua, widely regarded as the king of the heavyweight division, sometime in the near future. The 53-5 Adamek, however, surely has plans of his own.

Saturday’s Beterbiev-Johnson card will begin at 9:00 PM Eastern Time through the DAZN streaming service.

Official Weights:

12-round Welterweight Bout @ 147 lbs.
Jessie Vargas vs. Thomas Dulorme
(Las Vegas) (Puerto Rico)
147 lbs. 146.4 lbs.

12-round IBF Light Heavyweight World Title Bout @ 175 lbs.
Artur Beterbiev vs. Callum Johnson
(Montreal) (United Kingdom)
174.8 lbs. 174.8 lbs.

12-round Heavyweight Bout
Jarrell Miller vs. Tomasz Adamek
(Brooklyn) (Poland)
317 lbs. 227 lbs.

12-round WBA Super Bantamweight World Title Bout @ 122 lbs.
Daniel Roman vs. Gavin McDonnell
(Los Angeles) (United Kingdom)
121.6 lbs. 121.8 lbs.

10-round WBC Female Super Lightweight Title Bout @ 140 lbs.
Erica Farias vs. Jessica McCaskill
(Buenos Aires) (Chicago)
139 lbs. 138.4 lbs.

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Top Rank on ESPN Results: Ramírez Stops Reed in Two; Beterbiev Cruises to IBF Title


By Eric Lunger

Jose Ramírez is easy to like – a 2012 Olympian, a fighter who brings an exciting come-forward style to the ring, and a man who supports his central California roots with more than just talk. Tonight’s card on ESPN from the Save Mart Center on the campus of Fresno State was not only the seventh “Fight for Water Rights,” an event that raises money and awareness for the California Latino Water Coalition, it was also a great night of action. Ramírez (20-0, 15 KOs) risked his mandatory position for the WBC super lightweight belt against a very technically proficient southpaw in Maryland’s Mike “Yes Indeed” Reed (23-0, 12 KOs), while much avoided knockout puncher Artur Beterbiev (11-0, 11 KOs) took on Enrico Kölling (23-1, 6 KOs) of Germany for the IBF light heavyweight title, recently vacated by Andre Ward.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Promotions

Having grown up in central California, Ramírez has remained connected to the community both as a citizen and a professional boxer. The 13,838 fans in the arena were, predictably, loud and passionate as Ramírez made his way to the ring. Reed gave up four inches in height and almost six inches in reach, but the Waldorf, MD, native came into the proverbial lion’s den with a plan to box and weather the early storm.

Both fighters were active in the first round, with Ramírez doing better work, especially with left hooks to the body. Reed, as is his way, was calm and poised, maintaining his defense and countering when and where he could.

In the second, Reed’s lead right hook caught Ramírez coming in, but then Ramírez — just as suddenly — caught Reed with a short right hand, hurting him and forcing a knock down. Reed took the count, but was still in trouble. After a second knockdown, and with 1:17 to go in the round, referee Jack Reiss, after watching Ramírez unload on Reed for about ten seconds straight, waved the fight off. Just like that, and on one punch, Ramírez seized control and gave Reed no chance to regain his equilibrium.

In the co-main event, Russian-born, Montréal based Artur Beterbiev came into the ring with record of eleven knockouts in eleven pro fights. In a cautious and uneventful bout, the Russian dominated every round. Kölling took few risks, fought with a high guard, and was on his back foot the whole night. For his part, Beterbiev was content to score with his jab, offering little variety in the way of offense.

Only in the twelfth round did Beterbiev put his motor into a high gear. He began to let his hands go in earnest and, with 40 seconds left, he knocked Kölling down twice. The referee waved the fight off without administering a count, a bit of a gift to Beterbiev, who thus keeps his knockout streak.

You know that feeling when you watch a professional and exploratory first round? Both fighters just getting their range and maybe trying to figure out a few things about the other guy? They go back to their corners, and you’re pretty certain that things will open up in the next round. Well, the first eleven rounds were more or less like that tentative, eventless first round.

Regardless, Beterbiev picks up the IBF belt and now must figure in any conversation with the other kingpins of the division: Sergey Kovalev, Adonis Stevenson, Eleider Alvarez, Sullivan Barrera, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, and Badou Jack.

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