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Andrade-Kautondokwa Now For Full WBO Title; Saunders Relinquishes Crown


By Jake Donovan

Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondokwa no longer have to worry about vying for interim title status, as their October 20 clash in Boston will now come with the full World Boxing Organization (WBO) middleweight title at stake.

The development is just the latest plot twist in a main event that continues to change in principals and significance.

“Just confirmed from (Francisco) Paco Valcárcel (WBO President)—Demetrius ‘Boo Boo’ Andrade (versus) WBO #2 (Walter) Kautondokwa will now be for vacant 160 lb. WBO world title,” Eddie Hearn, Andrade’s promoter confirmed Thursday on social media.

The bout—which will air live on streaming service DAZN USA—itself is Plan B to the originally scheduled title fight showdown between unbeaten challenger Andrade and undefeated British middleweight Billy Joe Saunders for the latter’s title. Those plans were scrapped on Tuesday, when Saunders—who tested positive for banned substance Oxilofrine on August 31—was denied a boxing license by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission.

Saunders and his promoter, Frank Warren threatened to appeal the outcome as well as any negative ruling that would come from WBO who previously stated that the defending titlist would be stripped should be not be able to compete on October 20.

Such actions are well within the bylaws of the WBO, who earlier in the week declared that Andrade and Kautondokwa would compete for the interim title. They were prepared to hear Saunders’ case before making a final decision, but instead had it made for them.

“We did not strip (Saunders) of the title,” Valcárcel clarified to BoxingInsider.com when asked of Saunders’ current status. “He relinquished the belt voluntarily. The (Andrade-Kautondokwa) fight will now be for the vacant title.”

Just like that, Andrade (25-0, 16KOs) is now right back in the mix to compete for a major title in his second weight division. The 30-year old from Providence, Rhode Island has seen an uneven run in the pro ranks following his time as a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic boxing team, but has remained undefeated and managed two title reigns at 154 pounds.

Andrade only managed one defense between the two tours—a 7th round stoppage over mercifully outgunned Brian Rose in June ‘14—before being stripped while his career fell in promotional disarray.

Inactivity has plagued his career, but he still managed to position himself for a title fight with Jack Culcay last March. Andrade traveled to Germany and managed a split decision win on the road to win a secondary title, but vacated without a single defense in favor of a middleweight campaign. Just one fight has followed, a 12-round victory over Alantez Fox last October—which will have come exactly 52 weeks ago come fight night.

Meanwhile, Kautondokwa (17-0, 16KOs) takes a major step up in class as he also makes his stateside debut.

The 33-year old from Namibia has not fought since registering a 5th round knockout of Argentina’s Billi Godoy in his hometown of Windhoek, Namibia, where the bulk of his five-year career has taken place. As far back as his knockout win over Obodai Sai last June in Ghana–his one career bout outside of Namibia—he has lobbied for a shot at Saunders.

Now he winds up taking his place.

By relinquishing his title, Saunders officially ends a title reign that dates back to his Dec. ’15 win over Andy Lee but has been marred by injuries, numerous fight cancellations and erratic out-of-the-ring behavior.

In all, just three defenses came of Saunders reign—none since a 12-round whitewash of former titlist David Lemieux last December—while seeing more than a half-dozen fights either canceled outright or falling apart at the negotiating table.

The past several weeks haven’t been too kind, to say the least. Saunders found himself in the midst of a food fight with heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder in August, flinging a chicken dinner at the unbeaten American before fleeing the scene.

The two hugged it out the very next day, but it was the least of Saunders’ troubles. He was issued a hefty £100,000 fine by the British Boxing Board of Control for having offered a local woman (and apparent drug addict) £150 worth of drugs to perform a sex act. The incident was not only captured on video, but posted on social media by Saunders, who later apologized for his actions and accepted the fine.

His troubles further compounded in late September, when it was revealed he’d failed an August 31 test through Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA). Because the substance for which he tested positive came “out-of-competition”, he was cleared by United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) and the BBBoC.

The Massachusetts commission wasn’t as kind, as stateside commissions tend to take VADDA test results at face value. Simply, a zero tolerance policy is recognized rather than distinguishing between substances being ingested in or out of competition.

No other disciplinary action has come of the session, although Valcárcel announced on Thursday his intentions to suggest to the WBO Executive Committee that Saunders be issued a six-month suspension for his action.

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Billy Joe Saunders Denied License in Massachusetts; Andrade, Kautondokwa To Vie For Interim Title


By Jake Donovan

Billy Joe Saunders’ year has gone from bad to worse in a hurry.

BoxingInsider.com has learned that the unbeaten but troubled British middleweight was denied a license by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission (MSAC) during the board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday. The ruling greatly affects a planned October 20 show at TD Garden in Boston, where Saunders was due to defend his title versus Demetrius Andrade.

Saunders was asked to appear before the board to review his application status on Tuesday, which he did via speakerphone from England. His specific purpose for appearing was to detail the events that led to his testing positive for banned substance Oxilofrine on August 31 through testing conducted by Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA).

Trace amounts of the drug were evident in his system, to which he attributed to having ingested nasal decongestant spray upon learning of the results in late September and again at Tuesday’s hearing.

Saunders made a similar—and successful argument—back home, where he was cleared by the British Boxing Board of Control. His clearance stemmed from his status being classified as “out of competition”, per United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) which follows the code set forth by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Simply put, any test conducted prior to fight night is deemed out-of-competition, a point which Saunders and his representatives argued with MSAC.

While the excuse wasn’t necessarily dismissed by the commission, it also wasn’t found sufficient enough to sway the board who unanimously voted to deny his license, according to BI source Cory Blamire, a local freelance writer who was in attendance.

The incident drew comparisons to that of Major League Baseball pitcher Michael Kopech, who was handed a 50-game ban for testing positive for the very same substance as a 19-year old in the Boston Red Sox minor-league system. Kopech, now with the Chicago White Sox, denied that he willingly took the substance but nevertheless apologized for the outcome and was forced to accept his punishment.

Appearing before a state athletic commission residing in Red Sox country—with at least two board members boasting baseball roots—proved to be a detriment for Saunders’ cause. The British Traveller didn’t take too kindly to the ruling, at first confused as to his license status before reportedly telling the board to “suck my p***k.”

The show will still go on, but without Saunders who not only is off the show but now sees his days as a middleweight titlist come to an end. Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcárcel declared prior to the hearing that any such ruling that would result in Saunders not being able to compete on October 20 would result in his being stripped of the title.

As Saunders is granted an appeals process, Andrade (25-0, 16KOs) will remain eligible to fight for the organization’s interim title, as the unbeaten middleweight from Providence remains as the mandatory challenger. As earlier reported by BoxingInsider.com, the 2008 U.S. Olympian and former 154-pound titlist will now face the next highest-rated contender in the WBO middleweight rankings, Namibia’s Walter Kautondokwa.

Should Saunders’ appeal be denied, Valcárcel confirmed to BoxingInsider.com that the October 20 winner would then be elevated to full titlist.

Promoter Eddie Hearn—who will present the October 20 show through his Matchroom USA promotional outfit live on streaming app DAZN—was wise enough to secure a contingency plan in the event Saunders would not be able to compete. Kautondokwa (17-0, 16KOs) signed a contract on September 28 provisionally agreeing to face Andrade should the title become vacant.

The bout will mark a massive leap in competition for Kautondokwa, a former member of Namibia’s national amateur boxing team before turning pro in 2013. The unbeaten knockout artist—who turns 34 in November—will also be making his stateside debut, taking on a vastly more experienced boxer in Andrade, who will be fighting less than an hour from his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.

Andrade hasn’t fought since a 12-round win over Alantez Fox last October, with the upcoming show marking 52 weeks to the day of that very ring appearance.

Meanwhile, Saunders will have to turn elsewhere for his next payday.

The 29-year old was due make the fourth defense of the title he won in a 12-round decision over Andy Lee in Dec. ’15. His title reign has been plagued by injuries and more infamously known for the fights that didn’t happen than the few defenses he’s managed in nearly three years.

For this event, Saunders (26-0, 12KOs) to earn a career-high purse for this event, which in part would help subsidize a £100,000 fine handed down by the BBBoC for his role in a social media video where offered a local woman (and apparent drug addict) £150 worth of drugs to perform a sex act.

It was hoped by Saunders and his team that he would at least be cleared to fight on October 20, which would’ve at least provided a high note to an otherwise miserable year. He came into 2018 on the heels of a 12-round whitewash of former middleweight titlist David Lemieux last December, but has now seen three scheduled bouts this year fall by the wayside.

Saunders was due to face countryman Martin Murray this past March, a bout that was postponed to June but ultimately canceled altogether when the reigning titlist claimed a training camp injury. It was widely speculated—by Murray, among others—that Saunders withdrew to instead make himself available in the event that Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin were unable to reach terms for their rematch.

It became moot when Alvarez and Golovkin fought again on September 15, four months pushed back from their original May 5 date. The postponement was due to Alvarez receiving a six-month suspension for having tested positive for Clenbuterol earlier in the year. The wildly popular boxer from Mexico attributed it to contaminated meat, an ongoing epidemic in his home country.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission accepted his response and documented proof that came with it, but still held him responsible for any substance that enters his body, regardless of means of consumption. Saunders was among Alvarez’ most vocal critics, his comments having since coming back to haunt him in light of recent developments.

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Billy Joe Saunders Team Issues a Statement in Response to Positive Test


By: Michael Kane

Billy Joe Saunders team have been quick to release a statement in response to report a earlier that Saunders has failed a VADA drug test.

According to the statement released on Frank Warrren’s website the product concerned is allowed to be used out of competition and the British Boxing Board of Control have confirmed Saunders is not in breach of BBBoC or UKAD (United Kingdom Anti Doping agency) regulations.

It suggests his fight in October is not in doubt.

The statement also says the product was a common decongestant nasal spray.

Following reports of an adverse analytical finding in a test carried out by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (“VADA”) on WBO World Middleweight Champion, Billy Joe Saunders, we can confirm that the product concerned is permitted to be used ‘Out of Competition’ by United Kingdom Anti-Doping (“UKAD”) in line with the regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”).

For the avoidance of doubt, the product in question was a common decongestant nasal spray.

The British Boxing Board of Control (“BBBofC”) under whose jurisdiction Billy Joe Saunders is licensed are affiliated only to UKAD/WADA.

Today the BBBofC have confirmed that Mr Saunders is not in breach of BBBofC or UKAD anti doping regulations and is therefore in good standing and is licensed to box and defend his World Title on October 20th.

Mr. Saunders has been tested a number of times in 2018, all negative, his last out of competition test by UKAD was on 24th September 2018.

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Billy Joe Saunders Reportedly Fails VADA Test


By: Michael Kane

It’s not been a great few days if you are Billy Joe Saunders.

First he was fined £100000 by the British Boxing Board of Control for a video he posted in which he appeared to offer a woman money for a sex act then told her to punch a man walking along the road, which she did, Saunders then drove away laughing.


Photo Credit: Billy Joe Saunders Twitter Account

Now there are reports he has failed a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association drug test.

The reports suggest he tested for the banned substance oxilofrine, which is a stimulant. ESPN’s Dan Rafael was the first to break the news.

Saunders, the current WBO middleweight champion, is due to defend his belt against Demetrious Andrade om October 20th. However this news will put that bout seriously in doubt. Saunders could also face being stripped of his title.

Oxilofrine is a stimulant that can increase performance as it helps to burn fat, it could increase adrenaline production, endurance and help with the oxygenation of the blood.

Several athletes have tested positive for the drug in the past.

It seems Saunders has taken to Twitter to laugh the claims off,

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Canelo and Golovkin: What’s Next for Both


By: Oliver McManus

With the benefit of 72 hours to sleep on things, it’s time to address what’s next for Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin after their ferocious rematch at the T-Mobile Arena and, whilst some of these options are a little more realistic than others, we can be dreamers, so here are my top picks (trilogy aside!) –

Mexican fiesta?

This one seems a little adventurous to begin with but there are two fights that makes me stand up with interest, with regards to Canelo, and they both involve fellow Mexicans in what would make the perfect Cinco de Mayo bouts for 2019 – whilst it’s likely that Alvarez would look to fight in December first, these fights could brew nicely into the early months of next year.

First up is Jaime Munguia and given the size of the WBO 147lb champion, it’s equally likely that this bout could be taken at middle as it is welterweight and we’ve seen Munguia really start to stamp his authority over the course of 2018 with the youngster playing the role of underdog in his title challenge against Sadam Ali and, marginally, in his first defence against Liam Smith.

The sheer size and explosivity of Munguia means the fight with Canelo would guarantee action – akin to the last two with Golovkin – and of course there’s that added all-Mexican spice.

Looking into the super middleweight and you find another WBO champion in Gilberto Ramirez who has failed to really find any momentum over the last couple of years despite defending the title on four occasions and Zurdo has made no bones about his desire to land a big fight.

We know Canelo looks BIG when out of the ring – I’m not even going to go near the whole clenbuterol situation – and even at the catchweight of 164 for his bout with Julio Cesar Chavez he looked comfortable. I mean, admittedly, not a great performance but it wasn’t because of the extra weight.

More of a tactician than Munguia and, indeed, Golovkin, Ramirez would represent a different type of opponent for Alvarez with the opportunity to show a different set of skills than the, relatively, brawling nature over the last few months and Canelo, certainly, is an elite level boxer not just fighter. (If that makes sense).

Munguia and Ramirez, starting to sound like a fajita, but I want to see ANOTHER all Mexican encounter involving Canelo because you just cannot beat those atmospheres and the two champs either side of middleweight appear to be the frontrunners in that respective category.

Saunders vs Golovkin

A fight that has been mooted for a long, long time and it seems that now could be the most realistic timing for the super-fight to take place and on the assumption that the WBO champion can navigate his way past Demetrius Andrade on October 20th , this would provide the opportunity for GGG to bounce straight back into the world title scene.

For Saunders it provides him with the chance to carry on with the momentum he picked up in Canada last December with a, let’s not beat around the bush, masterclass performance against David Lemieux and, whilst his antics outside of the ring have been less than respectable, in the boxing world a victory over Golovkin would cement his credibility as one of the best.

An awkward southpaw who dictates the tempo of the bout from the centre of the ring, Saunders poses a distinctly different threat to that of Canelo but is equally capable of getting dirty on the inside and involved in a firefight as he is executing a technical, counter-punching gameplan.

Golovkin doesn’t need warm up bouts following his first ever career loss, he’s an elite fighter, certainly a Top 15 pound for pound and, with only a few fights left in him, it seems logical to target the fight with Saunders because it’s one we know he is mightily confident in winning and if he were to be able to reclaim the single belt that has alluded him his whole career then, surely, we could be looking at the best middleweight ever?

Saunders vs Golovkin make sense, it’s been in the works for a long time and it’s a bout that both men are confident of winning so let’s get it on!

Canelo vs Lemieux

We’ll keep this section short and snappy because I think we’re all aware that David Lemieux, especially after the pasting he got via Billy Joe Saunders, is in a different league, technically, to the world champions but following a devastating knockout over Spike O’Sullivan he finds himself back in the fold for a world title.

The one that can’t be argued with is the power of the Canadian who, when given a chance, is able to unfurl bombs in the direction of whichever Tom, Dick or Harry is standing in front of him. Having said that, he is equally susceptible to stinking out a stadium when he fails to turn up for a fight and that happens alarmingly often for him to be taken seriously as a contender.

It’s very hot and cold with David Lemieux but even when he’s on top of his game it’s nothing that would really send Canelo back to Mexico quivering in his boots looking for some more of that steak – the threat of Lemieux is easily nullified by Canelo taking the fight to the Canadian, boxing at a high tempo for the duration of the fight with a strong lead jab.

Canelo vs O’Sullivan was being lined up for December and, thusly, it makes sense that O’Sullivan’s conqueror is also in the frame.

The truth of the matter though, like it or not, is that this would only serve as a stay busy fight until a big clash in May.

Retirement for GGG?

What is left for Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin to achieve in the sport of boxing? With seemingly little possibility of moving a weight class, the former unified middleweight champion has literally been there, done that and seen it all.

20 successful defences of his belt, five as unified champion, the 36 year old possess a record matched only by the great Bernard Hopkins and, looking through the eras, you’d be hard pressed to suggest he wouldn’t have found success across them all.

A World Amateur champion and Olympic silver medallist, to boot, Golovkin has a career, both amateur and professional, to be immensely proud of and in the eyes of many an onlooker he has got nothing left to prove.

On many scorecards he should have won that first fight with Canelo, the second was a stormer and there can be no loss of legitimacy for losing what was, let’s be honest, a fight that could have gon either way; you get the feeling that Golovkin and Canelo could go toe to toe 60 times and it would never get boring, 20 would be a win for Golovkin, 20 for Canelo and the other 20 a draw… it’s just that sort of a fight!

But for the love of the sport and the pride he gets from fighting, there is nothing left to achieve for Triple G so, if you ask me, hang those gloves up, kick back and just enjoy life Gennady!

Of course the fight we all want to see, well most of us anyway, is ANOTHER rematch between the two protagonists of the middleweight division and why shouldn’t we want that? 24 rounds of simply stunning action during which neither fighter could comprehensively claim to be the better man, throw in some controversy, a bit of bad blood, and we have got ourselves not just a fight but an EVENT.

The first two fights were must-see entertainment that captured the imagination of the boxing community and there’s very little reason to believe a third would be anything but the same – the only question’s that really need answering are where, when and how much is it going to cost us?

Preliminary talks are being held between the parties, allegedly, so hopefully we’ll be able to see the trilogy contest sooner rather than later because there’s some unfinished business to take care of and it’s a fight that I, certainly, will never get bored of.

Having said that, what if Golovkin wins the third fight? Does that mean we’ll have to have a fourth?!

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Boxing Insider Interview with Martin Bakole and Billy Nelson: A Contender from the Congo


By: Oliver McManus

Martin Bakole and Billy Nelson aren’t, on paper, two names that you’d associate with one another but, forget paper, because the relationship that they have brings out the best in each other and it really is as simple as that with Nelson relishing the prospect of guiding his Congolese heavyweight to the very top.

Billy rang me on Monday, about 10 minutes after he and Martin touched down at the hotel in Sheffield – where they’ve been sparring Anthony Joshua – and Bakole started off by telling me about growing up in Congo, how his father used to be a boxer and that he and his brother, Ilunga Makabu, would bounce off each other trying to be the best.

There were relatively few details at this point with Bakole struggling to understand my thick Southern accent so for the duration of the interview I had to rely on Billy, kindly, relaying the questions back in his unmistakable Scottish voice.

Talking of Scotland and his relationship with Billy, the fighter told me, “Yes, I’m getting used to it (the rain), I am a vegetarian, not only in Scotland but everywhere…

… it doesn’t matter where the meat comes from Ollie, he won’t eat it, there’s actually an African shop nearby where he gets his stuff from but I do try to get him trying the Scottish stuff…

…but the relationship with Billy is a very good one, I trust him, it’s great, it’s lovely, lovely, I always listen to what he tells me and he knows what he’s doing. My career has moved on since I’ve met him, I’m getting better, I’m having bigger fights. He gets me good sparring and I’m happy”.

Billy echoed those sentiments and I asked him just how good Martin was in comparison to his former charges, “Martin is by far the best fighter I have ever trained, he is technically fantastic, naturally gifted which makes my job a bit easier but the most important part for me is just tweaking some of the areas, fight management and guiding him through, he really is a fast learner”.

11 and 0 as a professional boxer, having made his debut back in 2014, there was a refreshing honesty from Martin when it came to that first fight – against Cecil Smith, also making his debut, at Emperors Palace in South Africa – “It was scary, harder than I thought it would be, in the amateurs there are head guards and I wasn’t used to it”.

Any fears that he initially had have been long put to bed with the Airdrie resident first fighting in the United Kingdom in August 2016 and having seven fights since, his last two fights have been against DL Jones and Ali Baghouz which, whilst not the highest level of operators, Martin dispatched with quicker than Daniel Dubois and Tony Yoka, respectively, and yet there is a comparative lack of attention being shone on Bakole.

Nelson was tactful on this, insisting it was just a case of biding their time, “It’s a fair point, they are British heavyweights but I can assure you that Martin Bakole’s time will come and Daniel Dubois will not fight Martin Bakole, not in a month of Sundays, Martin is just far too good right now. As good a fighter as Daniel is, Ollie, Martin is far superior so we don’t worry about getting the hype around us, Martin does the talking in the ring”

Fighting DL Jones back in June saw Bakole drop the challenger on two occasions on his way to a 62 second knockout, including the count, but it was by far the test that the IBO Continental champion was hoping for with a, unnamed, former European challenger withdrawing from the bout –

“I was beginning to worry that we wouldn’t get an opponent, at least DL Jones stepped up to the plate but look at the difference between Martin’s first fight with me – against (Dominic) Akinlade – and a few months previously Akinlade had gone 10 rounds with Nathan Gorman who is well thought of, we’ve sparred him, but Martin destroyed Akinlade in one round. DL Jones went three rounds with Dubois, Martin Bakole broke his nose and fractured his eye socket in 62 seconds. But the thing is, if you look at the Top 12 in Britain, I’d say at least eight of them will say ‘no, thank you’.”

Martin interjected at this point, “I think that was my best fight, or the guy I fought before, it’s a difficult name to say (Ali Baghouz), but DL Jones was a good fight, I got a very good knockout and it made me happy”.

Finding opponents is an area Martin doesn’t have to worry about, with the Congolese giant saying, “I don’t mind who I fight, I will not pick, I just want to fight” but it is something that causes Nelson nightmares, “we’ve offered Dave Allen the fight two or three times but he won’t take it, he was a bit derogatory to Martin but we made up and sparred two rounds and that’s really concreted that he won’t fight Martin, after that. The thing is that Martin has been round the country to spar, he sparred Tyson Fury a few years ago, Dillian Whyte called off sparring the night before, everyone knows what Martin has done in sparring and I got a coach telling me “play the game”. I told him “we don’t play games”, we’re here to spar Anthony Joshua for the next week but Martin doesn’t seem him as a sparring partner, they both need quality sparring and you’d pay good, good money to watch the spars”.

Attention swiftly turned to Martin’s next fight, on October 13th, against Michael Hunter – former Oleksandr Usyk challenger – and Bakole seemed to relax in prospect of this fight, taking a deep breath before telling me, “I am ready to show to the world who I am, that I will be a future world champion and I’m not going to be scared, I’m going to show people how good I am with a big fight, I will stop people saying “Who is Martin Bakole?. I will make a statement, whenever I knock him out, it will be a statement.”

That confidence was expanded on when he opened up about sparring with Anthony Joshua, “it gives me good confidence, no-one else wants to spar me but Anthony Joshua and his coach know that I am the best so when I spar him it is very good sparring, high level and it keeps me focussed. Helps my intelligent and he always texts me after sparring saying thank you and it gives me confidence going into my fights”.

A much mooted fight was that of Joe Joyce, who claimed Bakole needed to bring more to the table, “Martin is fighting Michael Hunter, who knocked out Joe’s last opponent, Kiladze, so it’s hypocritical of him to say that, I think we’ll go down different routes now but we would fight him in a heartbeat.”

Despite hailing from the Congo, Bakole will be eligible for a British Boxing Board of Control License from next year, allowing him to fight for domestic and European titles, and I asked him if that was a fight (Agit Kabayel) that interested him, “I think I am better than that level, I am higher than that”.

It was pleasing to hear the quiet character showing such confidence and Billy was happy with the progress made under him, “the guys just don’t want to fight him but he’s knocked Akinlade, Baghouz, DL Jones out in one round and the only guy to go the distance under me was Sokolowski, no excuses that day because we travelled from Scotland to London at about 6.30 in the morning – I had three in title fights the night before but Martin didn’t want to go down with anyone else – and he gave that guy a hell of a beating, broke his nose, the worst broken nose I’ve ever seen and Sokolowski is one tough guy”.

This was another one of those rare occasion where Martin came in with a declaration of his own, “I will fight anyone, I will beat anybody, it doesn’t worry me who they are, I will not say this one or that one but whoever wants to fight me, I will be thankful but I will beat them. I would like to be out 4, 5 time next year.”

I asked him what he thought of fighting on TV and in his new home country of Scotland, “It is nice to be on TV, people watching me live and it makes me feel nice, thank you to them for watching and for Cyclone Promotions. I love fighting in Scotland. I like the people here, they make me feel loved and happy”.

The last word, fittingly, should go to Bakole who had a very simple, emphatic answer for me when I was cheeky enough to ask if anyone could beat him – “NO”.

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Boston Press Conf Quotes: Billy Joe Saunders vs. Demetrius Andrade, Farmer vs. Tennyson


Eddie Hearn, President of Matchroom Boxing USA:

“I am thrilled to be bringing this triple-header of World championship action to the TD Garden in Boston.

“We want to take major fight nights to major cities across America that haven’t had the chance to witness this great sport in the flesh, that’s why we’re in Chicago on October 6 and then in Boston on October 20 – we’re taking this great sport to great cities in great arenas like the TD Garden with the best night of boxing the city has seen.”


Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

Billy Joe Saunders – Hertfordshire, England – 26 (12) – 0 – defending his WBO World Middleweight title against Demetrius Andrade

“This is such a big fight. The two main men at Middleweight at the moment is GGG and Canelo – and neither of them want to fight me or Demetrius. There’s a lot of smoke and mist in the division right now, and when it clears up I will be the man standing there.

“All jokes and trash talk aside, this is going to be a really good fight. Does anyone want to fight Demetrius? No. Does anyone want to fight me? No. We have to fight each other to prove who the number one guy is. Technically, we are the best two in the division, and the winner is going to be number one. I’m World champion, I’ve been more active, I’ve boxed the better opposition – but I have to beat this man.

“David Lemieux is a bum, a bum – he’s not worth talking about and I don’t take any credit from beating him. But I’ve been in with and easily handled World-class opposition – I’ve been in with Chris Eubank Jr and dealt with him, been in with Andy Lee and dealt with him, Willie Monroe had no heart or desire to win.

“There’s too much at stake in this fight to even think about losing – and I will prove that I am number one. If I turn up at my 100 per cent best, it’s good enough to beat him. He’s a great fighter and he’s been avoided, our paths have crossed and we have to fight. The winner is number one.”

Demetrius Andrade – Providence, Rhode Island – 25 (16) – 0 – challenging WBO World Middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders.

“It’s an honour to be fighting at the TD Garden, we’re giving you the best fight in boxing this year, you have to be there.

“Billy Joe is a great fighter, an undefeated southpaw, he’s ugly looking, but he can fight – but your boy Demetrius Andrade always come through. Never have I failed to come out with the victory.

“It’s going to be an entertaining build up and I’m thrilled to be working with Eddie Hearn, he’s bringing boxing at the highest level out here – there’s no sport like boxing, and we’re showcasing it in Boston.

“We’re going to be in shape to do 12 rounds, I know I have the bigger dog inside me than Billy Joe, and I’m going to unleash that on him on October 20.”

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

Tevin Farmer – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 26 (5) – 4 (2) – 1 – defending his IBF World Super-Featherweight title against James Tennyson.

“It’s been a long time coming for me to fight as a World champion. October 20, we’re coming to bring the pain. The last time I fought in Boston I fought Emanuel Gonzalez in June 2014 and it changed my life.

“I don’t know much about James but you don’t get to this level for no reason and I know he’s going to come to fight and try to beat Tevin Farmer. I’ve been one of the hottest fighters over the last few years, to beat me, he’s going to need to bring a knife and a gun because it’s not going to be easy – he needs to make sure he brings his A-game.”

James Tennyson – Belfast, Northern Ireland – 22 (18) – 2 (2) – challenging IBF World Super-Featherweight champion Tevin Farmer.

“It’s amazing to be involved in such a huge bill in a great city like Boston – and it’s going to be even better when I leave with the IBF World title.”

Katie Taylor – Bray, Ireland – 10 (5) – 0 – defending her WBA and IBF World Lightweight titles against Cindy Serrano.

“It’s great to be here, I love this city and it’s going to be like a homecoming fight for me with all the Irish fans living here. I want to thank Cindy for taking this fight, these are the types of fights that I absolutely relish, it’s going to be a really exciting clash alongside some brilliant fighters on the rest of the bill, I can’t wait.”

Cindy Serrano – Brooklyn, New York (born in Puerto Rico) – 27 (10) – 5 – 3 – challenging WBA and IBF World Lightweight champion Katie Taylor.

“Katie is a tremendous fighter and a hard worker so I know it’s going to be a hard fight, but a great fight. I am a great fighter too and not only can we both fight, we look good doing it – and we’re going to prove that on October.

Kid Galahad – Sheffield, England – 24 (15) – 0 – facing Toka Kahn Cleary in a final eliminator for the IBF World Featherweight title.

“We’re not here to play marbles, we’re here to take over. I’m over here to hurt this man, real bad. Me and Billy Joe Saunders are not joking – we’re coming to get big wins and in style.

Toka Kahn Cleary – Providence, Rhode Island – 25 (17) – 1 (1) – facing Kid Galahad in a final eliminator for the IBF World Featherweight title.

“It’s great to be on this huge bill alongside my big brother Demetrius Andrade and a lot of great fighters. I work very hard in the gym and I belong on the big stage, I promise you that after October 20, Toka Kahn Cleary is going to be fighting for a World title.”

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Billy Joe Saunders – Demetrius Andrade Fight Promotion Kicks Off In Entertaining Fashion


By: Sean Crose

Some press conferences are boring. Some are so over the top, they’re off-putting. Friday’s kickoff for the WBO middleweight championship of the world between champion Billy Joe Saunders and Demetrius Andrade was downright entertaining. Andrade decided to show his patriotism for the crowd gathered in Boston by dressing as a colonial soldier while England’s Saunders had some gems of his own to deliver. The fight, which goes down October 20th at Boston’s TD Garden, is being promoted by Eddie Hearn, and will have a strong undercard, featuring such notables as Tevin Farmer, Katie Taylor and Scott Quigg.

“The red jackets are here!” Andrade yelled in reference to the red uniformed British soldiers who used to occupy Boston at the dawn of the American Revolution. “We look good,” Saunders quipped in response, “but we’re mean m—–f—–s!” It may have been a bit vulgar at times, but this kickoff was as good natured as it was rowdy. Here were two fighters, both flamboyant, who seemed to actually like each other on a personal level, but were not afraid to go at it with the verbal jabs. Unlike last year’s Mayweather-McGregor pre fight tour, no one here seemed to be trying too hard.

“Billy Joe Saunders, yes, he’s a great fighter,” said Andrade. “Southpaw. Undefeated. Ugly looking. But he is a great fighter, yes.” Saunders took a moment to note the seriousness nature of the boxing business. While bringing up the fact that Canelo-Golovkin 2 is currently boxing’s big ticket, he added this dig at his fellow middleweights: “Does anybody want to fight Demetrius Andrade?” he asked. “Does anybody want to fight me? No.” Saunders made it clear that the two best men at middleweight aren’t Canelo or Golovkin, but Andrade and himself. “Technically,” he said, “we are the two best in the division and the winner of this fight will prove to be number one.”

Aside from the fact that there seems to be no bad blood between the combatants, another thing that separates Saunders-Andrade from Canelo-GGG 2 is the fact that both Saunders and Andrade are known as scientific fighters. In other words, the slickness and skill of both men can supersede the thrill factors that they can being to a bout. Saunders’ match last year against a way over his head David Lemieux, however, showed that slickness and skill can make for an entertaining fight. “This is going to be a really, really good fight,” said Saunders. “October 20th you have to be there,” claimed Andrade, “you have to see it.”

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Tevin Farmer Shuts Out Billy Dib to Become the New 130lb IBF Champion


By: Ste Rowen

Tevin ‘American Idol’ Farmer is the new IBF super-featherweight champion of the world after a completely victory over, Australian, Billy Dib.

Dib walked to the ring accompanied by two motorbikes, but it was Farmer that accelerated into the lead as the early rounds played out much as expected, with Tevin taking the initiative behind a well finished and accurate jab. Billy attempted to be more than just a passenger, but Farmer’s footwork and agility left the Australian struggling to land.

The bout threatened to turn awkward when the boxers grappled and held their way through the 2nd round. There was no inside-fighting finesse from either. Dib, a former IBF featherweight world champion, seemed to realise early on that he couldn’t outbox his southpaw opponent.

Farmer’s hands were too quick and constant, his footwork elusive and seemingly beyond what ‘The Kid’ could deal with.

Towards the end of the 4th, the American had his opponent trapped in the corner, and although Dib made it through the round, Farmer was upping the pace of his attacks. At the beginning of the 6th, Billy hit the canvas, ruled as a slip, but it summed up the home fighter’s whole fight so far.

The obvious criticism to lay at Farmer’s door is his lack of power. 5KOs in 30 bouts show that, and it felt, heading into the 7th, that considering the quality and frequency of Tevin’s punching, that with a little more power, this fight would be over.

Rounds 7 and 8 gave us more of the same, Dib’s only occasional success was coming on the inside but even then, the ‘American Idol’s’ strength kept him from being bullied or bruised up by the 47-fight veteran.

Then with 30 seconds left of the 9th, Farmer landed a beautiful left hook, which sent Dib falling backwards and down for the 10-8. The Australian survived the round, but Farmer was pumped and up on his feet for the 10th before the minute break had ended. Tevin was ready to end the bout there and then, but maybe a little too excited as he began to get sloppy and throw wide, wayward shots.

Despite the knockdown Dib survived through to see the final bell, but that’s all he did. Tevin was just far too good on the night for the brave Australian. This time there was no controversy for the American to deal with as the scorecards were read out. 118-109, 119-108, 120-107 all for new IBF 130lb world champion, Tevin Farmer.

A tearful Billy Dib announced his retirement in the ring, as he promised he would do if he was defeated tonight. The Australian ends his career as a former featherweight world champion with a record of 43-5 (24KOs).

‘‘Billy Dib is a hell of a fighter, he’s had a hell of a career. A great fighter to win the belt against’’ Said Farmer now, 26-4-1 (5KOs), post-fight. ‘‘If I was from somewhere else, not Philly, I might have been bullied…In Philly we come ready and we’re born out of the womb to be ready for war.’’

There are fascinating match-ups to be made at super-featherweight, but Farmer was keen to send a message to Gervonta Davis,

‘‘Everyone was ducking me and not wanting to give me an opportunity…Now I’ve got the belt, and everybody wants to scream my name. No more talking, send the fucking contract and the money on the table and we can make it happen.’’

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Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ Preview: Billy Dib vs. Tevin Farmer


By: Ste Rowen

Tevin Farmer vs. Billy Dib

Philadelphian southpaw, Tevin Farmer will be hoping it’s second time lucky this Friday when he takes on Australian, Billy Dib in a fight for the vacant IBF super-featherweight world championship, at Redfern’s, Technology Park in Australia.

Farmer, 25-4-1 (4KOs) was last seen in the ring in December when he challenged for the IBF strap vs. Kenichi Ogawa. It was a bout that was controversial on multiple levels. Firstly, the belt was only vacant because Gervonta Davis missed weight before his fight with Francisco Fonseca last August. The matchup between Farmer and Ogawa was then made and though it went the distance, it seemed the Philadelphian had clearly won the bout. Two of the judges begged to differ, returning scorecards of, 115-113, 116-112 and 112-116, handing the Japanese a split decision victory and the IBF belt.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

But the controversy wasn’t over just yet as, in April of this year, it was reported that Kenichi tested positive for two forms of synthetic testosterone and was subsequently banned and stripped of his title, leaving it vacant once again and opening the door for Tevin, #4 in the IBF rankings, to take his second chance at world honours.

‘‘When you go on the road and get it, I think people respect you more.’’ Farmer told ‘FightHype’. ‘‘I had a lot of setbacks in 2017…He’s gonna catch everything I’ve been feeling these past two years.’’

‘‘It goes like this. Beat Billy Dib for the IBF. Next fight Davis for the WBA, then fight Miguel Berchelt for the WBC. I want these fights back to back.’’

Dib, 43-4 (24KOs), a former IBF featherweight champion, was last involved in a world title fight over three years ago when he was knocked out by, then WBC 130lb titlist, Takashi Miura in Tokyo. And the ‘The Kid’ hasn’t fought in a scheduled 10-rounder since July 2016 when he went the distance with Thai, Amphol Suriyo. Since then Billy has fought three times, 11 rounds, including a ‘no-contest’ result where he clashed heads with Yardley Armenta Cruz on the Mikey Garcia vs. Adrien Broner undercard.

Speaking to ‘Fox Sports’ in Australia, the IBF’s ranked #3 said,

‘‘Ever since Jeff Fenech and I teamed up, back in early October, we’ve sort of had our eyes on either Gervonta Davis or Tevin Farmer…Both guys are southpaws, so we’ve been preparing mentally for southpaws and I think it’s gone really well.’’

‘‘With a loss, I’d definitely give my goodbyes to the sport of boxing.’’

The winner will join 130lb belt holders Berchelt (WBC), the recently crowned Masayuki Ito (WBO) and both – yes both – WBA champions, Alberto Machado & Davis; which should make for some interesting unifications, if all parties are willing, and ready to fight.

Tim Tszyu vs. Stevie Ongen Ferdinandus

Also fighting on Friday’s Technology Park card is, Tim Tszyu, son of former super-lightweight unified world champion, Kostya Tszyu. Tim, 9-0 (7KOs) will be up against Indonesian road warrior, Stevie Ongen Ferdinandus, 27-15-1 (14KOs) in Tszyu’s 2nd defence of the WBC ‘Asian Council Continental’ junior-middleweight strap.

Speaking to ‘Fox Sports’, Tszyu was keen to outline his own path, separate from his father’s success.

‘‘Through my ability and my training, I’m showing that I’m taking the right steps forward for my own career, not as the son of Kostya Tszyu…Everyone was born for a certain reason, and I was born for this.’’
‘‘This is the first time I’ve had 8-10 weeks (training) so we’ve had a strength time, a sparring time and now it’s just the finishing touches…I’ve only had 9 fights, so this is only the start.’’

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George Foreman Winning a Title at 45 Influenced Others


By: Ken Hissner

On November 5th in 1994 at the MGM Grand, Grand Garden Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada, “Big” George Foreman regained the IBF and WBA Heavyweight title knocking out Michael Moorer in the 10th round. He was behind on point from the judges with scores of 88-83 twice and 86-85. Shortly after the fight Foreman was stripped of the WBA title for refusing to fight Tony Tucker.

One of the fighters Foreman influenced most was now 44 year old Shannon “Cannon” Briggs, 29-1, who was the last opponent in Foreman’s 81 fight career. It was thought Foreman was lucky to get by Germany’s Axel Schulz, 21-1-1, in April of 1995 and most felt he deserved the decision over Briggs losing 117-113, 116-112 and 114-114.

Briggs last fought on November 4th 2016 improving his record to 60-6-1 (53). He has been 9-0 since turning 40. He chased Wladimir “Dr. Steelhammer” Klitschko then champion for years. He won the WBO title on November 4th 2006 stopping Siarhei “White Wolf” Liakhovich. Liakkhovich in his last bout at 42 in October of 2017 stopped Ramon “Pantera” Olivas, 14-7, of Sonora, Mexico, in the 3rd round of a scheduled 6, in Sonora, Mexico.

Former WBC Heavyweight champion Oliver “The Atomic Bull” McCall, 57-14 (37), at 49 lost his last fight in April of 2014 to Marcin “Rex” Rekowski, 13-1, over 10 rounds in Poland, in a rematch that McCall won in February. He was 15-7 after the age of 40. He won the title in September of 1994.

Fres “The Big O” Oquendo, 37-8 (24), at 45 is scheduled to fight for the WBA World title on September 29th at Cologne, Germany, when he meets champion Manuel Charr, 31-4 (17), though Oquendo hasn’t fought in four years. He lost a disputed decision to Chris Byrd in September of 2003 for his IBF World title.

Like Oquendo 45 year-old southpaw Amir “Hardcore” Mansour, 23-2-1 (16), is still chasing a title opportunity. He has won 7 minor titles and has been in the world ratings. His last fight was in November 2017 ending in a NC3 over a clash of heads against Russia’s Sergey Kuzmin, 11-0, in Moscow.

Billy “Bronco” Wright, 52-4 (43), of Las Vegas, last fought in January of 2016 at the age of 51. He hadn’t lost since 1998 to Tony Tucker. He won his last 22 fights since then of which 9 of his last 11 fights were in Bolivia. He won the WBC FECARBOX, WBO Latino and interim PABA titles.

All of these heavyweights felt they could match what George Foreman did at age 45 winning the heavyweight title.

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HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Saunders vs. Lemieux, Seldin vs. Ulysses, Douglas vs. O’Sullivan


By: William Holmes

On Saturday night the Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, Canada will be the host site for an HBO Triple Header to take place on HBO World Championship Boxing.

The opening bout will be between Cletus “Hebrew Hammer” Seldin and Yves Ulysse, Jr. in the junior welterweight division. The second bout of the night will be between Antoine Douglas and Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan in the middleweight division. The main event of the night will be between Billy Joe Saunders and David Lemieux for the WBO Middleweight title.


Photo Credit: Vincent Ethier/Eye of the Tiger Management

This fight card will help lend some clarity to the middleweight division behind the two current kingpins of the middleweights, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. This card will also feature Cletus Seldin, a popular Jewish fighter that HBO seems keen on featuring in the future.

The following is a preview of all three bouts.

Cletus Seldin (21-0) vs. Yves Ulysse, Jr. (14-1); Junior Welterweights

The opening bout of the night is between the Hebrew Hammer Cletus Seldin and Yves Ulysse.

Seldin is a compact power puncher who has seventeen stoppage victories on his record. He’s thirty one years old and needs to make a serious run now if he ever wants to fight for a legitimate world title.

He’ll be about the same height as Ulysse as both are 5’7”. Seldin is also the more powerful puncher of the two. Ulysse only has nine stoppage victories to his credit. However, Ulysse is two years younger than his opponent.

Both boxers have been fairly active the past two years. Ulysse fought four times in 2017 and once in 2016, while Seldin has fought twice in 2017 and twice in 2016.

Neither boxer had a notable amateur career, but Seldin appears to have had more success than Ulysse. Seldin was a Long Island Amateur Champion and lost in the finals of the New York State Golden Gloves.

Seldin has defeated the likes of Robert Ortiz, Renald Garrido, Jesus Selig, Orlando Vazquez, and Bayan Jargal.

Ulysse has defeated the likes of Ricky Sismundo and Zachary Ochoa. His lone loss was in his last fight to Steve Claggett.

Seldin fights a style that leaves him open to counters but puts on an exciting fight for his fans. Ulysse has a good record, but is the underdog going into the fight.

However, Ulysse was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and will have the support of the fans in attendance.

Antoine Douglas (22-1-1) vs. Gary O’Sullivan (26-2); WBO Inter-Continental Middleweight Title

Antoine Douglas is a good middleweight prospect who’s rise to the top was briefly derailed when he faced and lost to Avtandil Khurtsidze. He has since won three fights in a row and looks to reclaim his spot as a can’t miss prospect.

Douglas is still young and is in the middle of his prime at twenty five years old. O’Sullivan is getting near the end of his prime and is currently thirty three years old.

O’Sullivan and Douglas have similar knockout power. Douglas has stopped sixteen of his opponents and has one stoppage loss. O’Sullivan has stopped eighteen of his opponents and also has one stoppage loss.

Both boxers fought once in 2016 and three times in 2017.

Douglas has defeated the likes of Juan De Angel, Istvan Szili, and Thomas Lamanna. His lone loss was to Avtandil Khurtsidze and he drew with Micahel Soro.

O’Sullivan has defeated the likes of Nick Quigley, Melvin Betancourt, Milton Nunez, and Matthew Hall. The two times he faced good opposition, Chris Eubank Jr. and Billy Joe Saunders, he lost.

Douglas has quick hands and is willing to throw combinations and take risky exchanges. But his opponent is a veteran with knockout power.

This fight should be a tense and close fight, but it’s a fight that Douglas should be considered a close favorite.

Billy Joe Saunders (25-0) vs. David Lemieux (38-3): WBO Middleweight World Title

The main event of the evening is between Billy Joe Saunders and David Lemieux for the WBO Middleweight Title. The winner of this bout may set himself up for a future fight with either Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez.

Both boxers are twenty eight years old and are in the midst of their prime. Saunders will have a slight inch and a half height advantage on Lemieux, but Lemieux has thirty three stoppage victories to his credit while Saunders only has twelve stoppage victories.

This will be Saunders first fight outside of the United Kingdom, but he doesn’t seem bothered by it. He recently stated, “I’m used to fight outside the UK, I’m a traveler of the world. I don’t care if there’s a million people. It’s just me and him in that ring, end of the story. As for the rest, I don’t care.”

Saunders does have a better amateur resume than Lemieux. He is a former Commonwealth Champion and competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Lemieux was the Canadian Junior National Champion in 2006.
However, Lemieux does seem confident in his power and his ability to hurt Saunders with his power. He stated, “I’ve never said that I doubted his chin. Regardless he will hit the floor. And whether I win by knock out or go 12 rounds, it’s no matter. But I will drop him and I will hurt him”

Saunders has defeated the likes of Willie Monroe Jr., Artur Akavov, Andy Lee, Chris Eubank Jr., Gary O’Sullivan, Matthew Hall, and Jarrod Fletcher.

Saunders though has not been very active the past two years. He only fought once in 2017 and once in 2016.

It should be noted that his win against Andy Lee was a majority decision and his win against Eubank was a split decision.

Lemieux has defeated the likes of Curtis Stevens, Glen Tapia, Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, Gabriel Rosado, Fernando Guerrero, Hector Camacho Jr., and Elvin Ayala. His losses were to Marco Antonio Rubio, Joachim Alcine, and Gennady Golovkin.

The biggest intangible of this fight is the fact it takes place in Quebec, Canada and Lemieux is Canadian. The fans will be backing Lemieux in this fight and that kind of support has been known to influence the judges.

Saunders two biggest victories were close decisions in the United Kingdom. It’s unlikely he’ll get a close decision in Canada.

As long as Lemieux can keep up his energy and pressure for all twelve rounds it’s a fight that he can and should win.

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Original Gangster: Antandil Khurtsidze Arrested In Organized Crime Roundup


Original Gangster: Antandil Khurtsidze Arrested In Organized Crime Roundup
By: Sean Crose

Okay, I admit that title is a bit disingenuous. The truth is that here in the United States of America, one is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Therefore, middleweight Antandil Khurtsidze, who was arrested on Wednesday in a roundup of people reputedly connected to what the United States’ Attorney of the Southern District of New York referred to as “a Russian and Georgian Criminal Enterprise,” has done nothing wrong in the eyes of society. Still, the man is now up on charges and his upcoming title bout with Billy Joe Saunders is at least temporarily kaput. That does not constitute a good day.

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Specifically, Khurtsidze, a 33-2-2 product of the nation of Georgia who now lives in Brooklyn, is standing accused of conspiring to commit wire fraud and with breaking the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) Act. If convicted, the man can face decades in prison, be fined a ton of money and eventually end up under supervised release. The group Khurtsidze is reputedly connected to is known as the Shulaya Enterprise, a Russian/Georgian crime syndicate led by one Razhden Shulaya.

Among the Enterprise’s alleged operations are: illegal poker establishments in Brighton Beach, the extortion of gamblers and business owners, the attempted high tech defrauding of casinos, the theft of 10,000 pounds of chocolate (it’s true), the theft of other cargo shipments, the employment of a female Enterprise member to lure in and rob unsuspecting males (after rendering the victim’s unconscious with gas), the movement of untaxed cigarettes, the intention to open an after hours club (where, among other things, illegal narcotics would be sold), plans to bribe law enforcement, and forgery. With an assortment of charges, such as a “murder for hire conspiracy” and “conspiracy to sell firearms to a felon” lodged against its members, the Shulaya Enterprise appears to be quite a fearsome group – at least on paper.

All of this, of course, leaves middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders high and dry. He and Khurtsidze were supposed to fight in England this July. Now that his opponent has far more pressing things to attend to, Saunders will have to wait for another opportunity to fight. This, of course, only adds to the strangeness of Saunders’ title reign, which has consisted of twitter rants, long periods of time outside the ring and a ho-hum performance against Artur Akavov last December.

Still, Saunders’ future looks to be far brighter than Khurtsidze’s is at the moment. Sometimes it’s good to put everything in perspective.

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Louis-Conn II: A Heavyweight Title Fight Comes To Television


Louis-Conn II: A Heavyweight Title Fight Comes To Television
By: Sean Crose

For those who don’t know, Joe Louis was one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time. What’s more, he was one of the greatest boxers of all time. Believe it or not, these are facts that few fight analysts and/or historians will ever argue against (boxing know-it-alls are a traditionally ornery bunch). As in the case of Ali (and precious few others) Louis’ greatness is pretty much universally accepted. Just how good was the guy? Well, from the year 1936 to the year 1950, the man didn’t lose a single fight. Not. A. Single. Fight. Oh, and he had well over thirty bouts during that time span.

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Jack Sharkey, James Braddock, Max Baer, Max Schmeling, and Joe Walcott were just some of the notables Louis met and bested during his notable run. Impressive stuff for a man widely known for taking out one no-hoper after another (for a while, Louis’ competition was known as “the bum of the month club”). Yet, while Louis is rightly regarded as one of the most dominant boxers to ever slip on a pair of gloves, there were men out there known to present the guy with a challenge. Schmeling beat him the first time they met. Walcott gave him almost more than he could handle. Even the over the top “Two Ton” Tony Galento had Louis briefly taste the mat.

One fighter that gave Louis more trouble than the man could have possibly imagined, though, was Billy Conn. A product of Pittsburgh, Conn had a less than terrific start as a boxer, before finally getting the hang of things and collecting a whole lot of wins for himself. After winning and defending the light heavyweight title, however, Conn decided to go for greatness and take on Louis for the heavyweight championship of the world. It was a bold and daring move. Louis wasn’t just any heavyweight, after all. And besides, moving up to take the biggest prize in sports against a bigger man (Louis would outweigh Conn by at least twenty pounds)was a daunting challenge in and of itself.

Yet Conn almost pulled it off. Meeting Louis at New York’s Polo Grounds on the evening of June 18th, 1941, Conn employed incredible boxing skills to frustrate Louis and avoid the impact of the champions’ frightening power punches. Not only was Conn proving to be the great Louis’ equal – he was handily beating the man. Then came the thirteenth round. The slick, slippery Conn decided to play tough guy after surprisingly hurting his opponent. Yet the results of Conn’s hubris were entirely predictable…Louis ended up winning by knockout that very round. The story, however, wasn’t over. After the Second World War, which saw both Conn and Louis serving in the military, the two fighters were to meet again, on June 19th, 1946, at Yankee Stadium.

A lot of time passed since the first fight, however, and the world had changed in incredibly dramatic ways. The United States, previously seen as a kind of marginalized, movie making nation where poor people were apt to move, was, as a result of the war, now the world’s great power, deeply engaged in a “cold war” with the Soviet Union for the direction of civilization (hard to believe, but true). What’s more, American life itself had changed since Louis and Conn had first squared off. Television, which had been around for years, was about to really take hold with the American public. And boxing was to become one of the young medium’s prime attractions.

And what better way to bring boxing to tv fans than to broadcast a live rematch between the great “Brown Bomber” and his slippery foe?

Unfortunately, the second fight wasn’t nearly as thrilling as the first. “He can run, but he can’t hide,” Louis claimed beforehand, in perhaps the first utterance from a fighter that absorbed itself into everyday language. Louis was right. He was able to end Conn’s second attempt at glory in the eighth round. Conn’s big moment had passed, having slipped into the vapor of time half a decade and a full historical era earlier. Still, the rematch between Louis and Conn served it’s purpose, bringing a heavyweight title fight to a groundbreaking new medium. Make no mistake about it, boxing is still living in the shadow of that long ago night in New York

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Why Is Disappointment Such An Enormous Part Of Boxing?


Why Is Disappointment Such An Enormous Part Of Boxing?
By: Sean Crose

Seanie Monaghan wanted to fight Adonis Stevenson. He was disappointed. Adonis Stevenson wanted to fight Joe Smith. He was disappointed. Gennady Golovkin wanted to fight Billy Joe Saunders. He was disappointed. Billy Joe Saunders then wanted to fight Gennady Golovkin. He was disappointed. Welcome to boxing, where disappointment seems to sometimes reign as undisputed pound for pound king. The other night, while I was at the Mohegan Sun Casino to see Sullivan Barrera top off an entertaining card by besting the overmatched Paul Parker, I found myself less than a foot away from talented junior middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade.

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I asked the skillful Rhode Islander what he had in store for the future. The answer, unfortunately, was nothing at the moment. Andrade, you see, had wanted to face Cuban slickster Erislandy Lara, but ended up being – you guessed it – disappointed. The point of this piece isn’t to point fingers at any of the fighters mentioned above (or below), but rather to illustrate what a frustrating endeavor boxing can be…especially for those who are doing the fighting. It was clear sitting near Andrade, for instance, that the man keeps himself in shape and has expert knowledge of the skills required for success in the ring. His last fight wasn’t even televised in the states, however, and his future, at least at the moment, is grey.

Again, the point here isn’t to support or condemn Andrade (though he’s certainly an engaging guy to speak with). The point here is merely to illustrate the vast, some might even argue infinite, figurative desert so many fighters tend to find themselves in. Part of this, of course, has to do with the fact that boxing has no single controlling authority. This can be frustrating, but at least there’s not one or two people who get to pick who does and doesn’t become a star.

Then again, there’s also the matter of cherrypicking, which seems to be more relevant than ever these days. Fighters, even up and comers, can act like marketing experts, even when they’re not. Instead of trying to be Floyd Mayweather, boxer, some pugilists seem to aspire to be Floyd Mayweather, millionaire. There’s a huge difference between those two entities, but it looks as if some, if not many, fighters are afraid to recognize it. Such thinking leads, of course, to disappointment among fans, possible opponents and perhaps even the fighters themselves. Fighters, after all, SHOULD care about legacies if they have the chance to create them.

Look, disappointment has been a big part of boxing since at least the time John L Sullivan made it clear he wouldn’t fight the likes of “Prince” Peter Jackson because of Jackson’s skin color. That doesn’t mean there should be as many disappointed souls in the fight game as there seems to be, however. Just because disappointment is a natural part of everyone’s life doesn’t require it to play a leading role. The question, of course, is how can anyone, much less fans, actually deal with this issue plaguing the sweet science? No one appears to have a single satisfactory answer.

Oh well, at least Barrera seemed happy in the wee hours of Saturday morning as I said hi to him walking out of the arena and into the busy casino. For the record, he was supposed to have fought Artur Beterbiev on the 21st of April, but pulled out of the match, having to settle instead for some work against Parker. I think it’s safe to say people were disappointed by that particular turn of events.

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