Boxing Insider Notebook: Garcia, Easter, Diaz, Boxing Documentaries, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of June 5th to June 12th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Premier Boxing Champions Twitter Account
Mikey Garcia and Robert Easter to Meet in Lightweight Unification Fight
WBC Lightweight World Champion Mikey Garcia and IBF Lightweight World Champion Robert Easter Jr. will square-off in a 135-pound unification showdown between unbeaten stars Saturday, July 28 live on SHOWTIME from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
The main event of the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) will see Garcia look to become a unified champion for the first time in a career that has seen him win titles in four weight classes. Easter, who enters with a 5-inch height and 8-inch reach advantage, looks to stamp his name amongst boxing’s elite by unifying titles at 27 years old, less than two years after capturing his first belt.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Ringstar Sports and TGB Promotions, begin at $50, plus applicable fees, and are on sale today at 12 p.m. PT. To purchase tickets, visit AXS.com.
“SHOWTIME Sports continues to lead the industry with the biggest events, the most important matchups, week after week, month after month,” said Stephen Espinoza, President Sports & Events Programming, Showtime Network Inc. “Mikey Garcia vs. Robert Easter Jr. is the third world championship unification match on SHOWTIME this year. A consensus top-10 pound-for-pound champion facing an undefeated young champion while both are in the prime of their careers. July 28 has all the makings of an instant classic.”
“Mikey Garcia vs. Robert Easter is an outstanding lightweight matchup that is sure to deliver drama for fight fans at STAPLES Center and on SHOWTIME,” Said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Garcia will look to unify in his hometown and further solidify his credentials as boxing’s pound-for-pound best. He’ll have perhaps the toughest test of his career in the unbeaten Easter, who has a lethal combination of size, speed and power that he brings to the ring. With both fighters defending their titles and undefeated records, this is shaping up to be a can’t-miss night of boxing in downtown Los Angeles.”
“This is the kind of matchup that boxing fans love and a fight that I believe will certainly live up to expectations,” said Richard Schaefer, Chairman & CEO of Ringstar Sports. “With two undefeated world champions, and two of the top guys at 135 pounds, this fight is guaranteed drama. Mikey Garcia will look to become a unified world champion and add another accolade to a career that is already shaping up to be historic. Robert Easter Jr, a proud champion in his own right, is coming to STAPLES Center on July 28 to upset Mikey Garcia in his hometown. This is the quality of matchup that fans watching on SHOWTIME have come to expect and I suspect they will be fulfilled once again when these two warriors meet in the ring.”
“We are really looking forward to this incredible fight at STAPLES Center,” said Lee Zeidman, President, STAPLES Center. “These two fighters will undoubtedly headline an amazing night of fights for boxing fans in Los Angeles and we are looking forward to welcoming back Premier Boxing Champions and SHOWTIME for the second time in just two months.”
One of Southern California’s most popular fighters, Garcia returns to STAPLES Center for his first fight since becoming a world champion, and his first in California in seven years. Easter returns to the site of his professional debut, having started his career at STAPLES Center in 2012 after serving as an alternate in the London Olympic Games.
Garcia (38-0, 30 KOs), of Moreno Valley by way of Oxnard, Calif., became only the third fighter in modern history to become champion at 126, 130, 135 and 140-pounds, joining future Hall of Famers Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao, when he defeated Sergey Lipinets for the IBF 140-pound title in March. The 30-year-old relinquished that title so that he can unify the WBC Lightweight World Championship that he won in January 2017 with a highlight reel knockout of Dejan Zlaticanin.
These wins, combined with a summer 2017 victory over Adrien Broner, have seen Garcia return to the top of pound-for-pound lists after a layoff of two and a half years. Garcia accrued wins over a list of notable names while winning his first two titles at 126 and 130-pounds, including Orlando Salido, Roman Martinez and Juan Manuel Lopez.
“This is the toughest fight of my career to date,” said the four-division champion Garcia. “Robert Easter Jr. is an undefeated world champion who presents serious challenges that I’m going to have to work hard to overcome. Unifying titles is something I’ve dreamed of doing for many years, and to do it at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles will make it even more special. This is the kind of fight that will help my legacy. To be the best you have to beat the best, and Easter is certainly one of the best out there. I’m very thankful to have this opportunity and I’m going to make the most of it on July 28.”
Representing his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, Easter (21-0, 14 KOs) has made three successful defenses since winning his world title in an exciting contest over Richard Commey in 2016. The 27-year-old delivered a fifth-round destruction of former champion Argenis Mendez to earn the title shot, and since winning the title has held off challenges from Javier Fortuna, Denis Shafikov and Luis Cruz to retain his 135-pound belt.
Easter will be making the move to work with Kevin Cunningham for the first time for this fight and conducting training camp in West Palm Beach with him. Cunningham, the longtime trainer of former world champions such as Devon Alexander and Cory Spinks, spurred Adrien Broner to a strong performance in a draw against Jessie Vargas and Gervonta Davis to a dominant knockout of Jesus Cuellar in their first fights together in April.
“This is a fight I’ve been waiting for and I’m really excited that the time is now,” said Easter. “This is the best fighting the best. These are the fights that boxing is all about. I made the move to train with Kevin Cunningham down in Florida and I think it’s going to help me reach another level. It’s just eat, sleep and train down there. We’re going to be ready on July 28 to put on a show and deliver fireworks.”
Christopher Diaz to Fight Masayuki Ito for WBO 130 Pound Title on July 28th
Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz wants to add his name to the storied list of Puerto Rican world champions. He will get that chance July 28 at the Kissimmee Civic Center, when he squares off against Masayuki Ito for the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior lightweight title.
And, in the 10-round co-feature, undefeated welterweight prospect Carlos “Caballo Bronco” Adames will face Artemio Reyes of San Bernardino, Calif.
Diaz-Ito and Adames-Reyes will stream live and exclusively in the United States at 9:30 ET on ESPN+ — the recently-launched multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment in conjunction with ESPN. Undercard bouts will stream live on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. ESPN+ is available to all fans on the ESPN App and ESPN.com.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with All Star Boxing and Teiken Promotions, tickets to this world championship event will go on sale Tuesday, June 12 at 10 a.m. ET. Priced at $100 (red carpet ringside), $50 (lower bowl), and $30 (general admission), tickets may be purchased at the Kissimmee Civic Center box office, online at ticketerapr.com, or charge by phone at (787) 305-3600.
“This fight is dedicated to all of Puerto Rico and to my family that has always been there to support me,” Diaz said. “Now it’s my time to become a world champion, and I promise that I will bring home the world title. I love you, Puerto Rico. This one’s for you!”
“I am really pleased to be able to fight a great fighter like Christopher Diaz for the WBO title. Diaz is a very good fighter with power and speed, but on July 28, I will become the champion,” Ito said. “I will bring the belt home back to Japan without fail. I have promised my wife and children. I will fight as if my life depended on it.”
“I am happy and excited to return to the ring quickly because I want to keep as active as possible. This will be my second fight with Top Rank, and now I will return to the ring much better prepared because I have the experience and the confidence of fighting on big stages,” Adames said. “I will come ready to give the public what they always expect from me… a spectacular knockout! On July 28, ‘Caballo Bronco’ will come to Kissimmee with all the ‘Platano Power’ from the Dominican Republic.”
Diaz (23-0, 15 KOs), from Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, is entering his first world title match riding a four-bout knockout streak. The WBO’s No. 1 junior lightweight contender, Diaz won the vacant NABO junior lightweight title last December with a third-round knockout of Bryant Cruz, knocking Cruz down five times en route to the stoppage. In his last bout, March 17 on the Jose Ramirez-Amir Imam undercard at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Diaz defeated Braulio Rodriguez via fourth-round TKO to earn the shot at the world title. For Diaz, this world title opportunity is beacon of hope, as his home and most of his possessions were destroyed when Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico last year.
Ito (23-1-1, 12 KOs), from Tokyo, is the WBO’s No. 2 junior lightweight contender. He has won seven consecutive bouts since the lone defeat of his career, a 10-round majority decision to then-undefeated Rikki Naito in February 2015. Ito, who has fought all of his professional bouts in Japan, has won four of his past five bouts via knockout, including a ninth-round stoppage of Lorenzo Villanueva in April of last year. In his last bout, on March 3 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Ito stopped Vergil Puton in the ninth round.
Adames (14-0, 11 KOs), one of the welterweight division’s fastest rising contenders, made his Top Rank debut as the ESPN-televised co-feature May 12 on the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Jorge Linares card, rolling to a unanimous decision win over Alejandro Barrera. The Dominican Republic native will be fighting for the second time under renowned trainer Joel Diaz and is training in Palm Springs, Calif. Reyes (25-2, 20 KOs) is 10-0 with eight knockouts since his last defeat, a first-round TKO at the hands of Alan Sanchez on April 13, 2012 in Las Vegas. In his previous bout, in August of last year, Reyes knocked out Steve Marquez with a body shot in the fourth round.
Mekhrubon Sanginov Arrives in Las Vegas to Pursue Boxing Greatness
Undefeated super-welterweight prospect Mekhrubon Sanginov (5-0 3 KOs), from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, has moved to Las Vegas, Nevada to continue his dream of becoming a world champion. The highly decorated amateur returns to action June 23, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico.
“I am excited to take my training to a new level working in Las Vegas,” said Sanginov. “Las Vegas is the fight capital of the world and I feel that training in Las Vegas will take my career to the next level.”
Sanginov, who captured the WBC Youth Middleweight title in his last bout, has begun training with Justin Gamber, the well-respected trainer of undefeated super middleweight contender, Caleb “Sweethands” Plant (17-0, 10 KOs). Mekhrubon is looking forward to taking his career to new heights, as he will campaign at super-welterweight moving forward. Sanginov is currently a promotional free agent.
“I am excited to be training with Justin Gamber,” Sanginov continued. “He is an experienced coach, who is making me into a world champion. The sparring I am getting is top notch sparring as well. I’ll be looking to be signing with a credible promoter in the near future.”
Sanginov was an outstanding amateur, amassing a record of 105-14, which made him a heavy fan favorite in his native country of Tajikistan. His hometown fans are wanting to see how he progresses as a professional.
“I am going to make a statement in the world of boxing, especially in the super-welterweight division, and the world will know my name after my upcoming performances.” Mekhrubon concluded.
Boxing Documentary The People’s Fighters by Peter Berg Premiers on Olympic Channel
The Olympic Channel today announced the worldwide premiere of The People’s Fighters, the second film in its Five Rings Films signature series, which examines the triumphs and challenges faced by Cuban boxing today and how the rise of local talent is paving continued success for Cuba. The feature-length documentary, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Patriots Day), is now available to all audiences at olympicchannel.com and its mobile apps, in addition to a United States television premiere on NBCSN today, Thursday, 31 May, at 8 p.m. ET.
The People’s Fighters (87 minutes) takes an in-depth look at Cuba’s overwhelming history of success in the sport of boxing. Over the past 50 years, and despite being a nation of only 11 million residents, Cuba has produced more Olympic boxing medallists than any other country taking home 73 medals in the sport, 38 of which are gold. The success has been led by three-time heavyweight gold medallists Teófilo Stevenson, who once famously turned down a million-dollar offer to fight Muhammad Ali and turn professional in favour of continuing to fight for his beloved homeland, and Félix Savón, as well as the man behind their greatest achievements, the legendary coach Alcides Sagarra Carón.
“As a champion, Teófilo was the greatest, an example to all of us,” said Savón at the time of Stevenson’s death in 2012. “When he stopped fighting he taught me his tricks, and they were the secret of my success.”
Directed and narrated by Peter Berg and produced by Hollywood legend Frank Marshall (Jason Bourne, Jurassic World, Indiana Jones) and Mandalay Sports Media (MSM), The People’s Fighters features historical archival footage, interviews, and remarkable access in Havana and beyond.
Filmed in Havana and the United States and told through personal commentary from Savón, Sagarra, other Cuban Olympic boxing medallists and athletes, and former boxing world champion and Team USA Olympic gold medallist Oscar De La Hoya, the film provides an authoritative look at the country’s seminal boxing culture.
“As an American, I wanted to make money after becoming an Olympic gold medallist, to give my family a better life,” said De la Hoya. “But not in Cuba – they’re not built that way. Cuban fighters don’t think about how many millions they can have, it’s all about making your country proud. That’s the Cuban way.”
Five Rings Films, the Olympic Channel’s signature documentary series, is produced exclusively for the global media platform by Hollywood legend Frank Marshall and MSM. Five Rings Films is a series of incisive and entertaining documentaries directed by some of the biggest names in film from around the world. The first film in the series, The Nagano Tapes, which told the inspiring underdog story of the Czech Republic’s stunning gold medal win in men’s ice hockey in 1998, the first Games to allow NHL players, premiered in February. Future films include the story of Manu Ginobili and the rise of Argentinean basketball.
“Bringing Olympic stories to life through great filmmaking is a goal of our Five Rings Films signature documentary series” said Mark Parkman, General Manager of the IOC’s global Olympic Channel. “Peter Berg is not only an acclaimed filmmaker, but also a passionate boxing fan and he brings a personal perspective to the making of The People’s Fighters that is sure to resonate with fans around the world.”
“This film has all the elements that make the Olympics so fascinating – the intersection of politics, culture, huge personalities and incredible athletic achievement,” said Jon Weinbach, Executive Vice President of MSM. “Cuba’s boxing legacy is one of the great stories in modern sports history, and it was a privilege and a ton of fun making this film with Peter and our team.”
Marshall, whose producing credits include legendary titles such as the “Jason Bourne,” “Jurassic World” and “Indiana Jones” franchises, and MSM’s Mike Tollin are executive producers. MSM Executive Vice-President Jon Weinbach and Olympic Channel Director of Original Programming Greg Groggel are co-executive producers.
Fox Sports Acquires “They Fight” Boxing Documentary
Today, FOX Sports Films announced the acquisition of the North American rights for boxing documentary “They Fight,” as an addition to its “MAGNIFY” series. The film is directed by Andrew Renzi and produced by Emmy® Award winner, Academy Award® winner, Golden Globe® winner, and two-time Grammy Award® winner Common; his company Freedom Road Productions; and Argent Pictures, the film’s production and financing company run by Jill Ahrens, Ryan Ahrens, and Ben Renzo. The film was executive produced by Argent Pictures partners Drew Brees, Tony Parker, Derrick Brooks and Michael Finley.
The documentary follows Coach Walt Manigan’s Lyfe Style Boxing, an after-school program in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 8 – a community rife with inequity. Walt mentors young boxers, “Peanut” Bartee and Quincey Williams on the path to the 2017 Junior Olympics, while he also fights to find a permanent home for his program to help young fighters avoid the troubles he found in his own youth.
“It is important to share Coach Walt’s story and seeing how he overcame extreme hardships and now serves as a mentor to the youth in Ward 8,” said Common. “It is a true example as to how we can take the most challenging of situations and turn them into a positive, not only for ourselves but for others. Boxing is more than just a sport to these kids, it empowers and unifies them to fight for a better life.”
This project is the newest in the Sports Emmy®-nominated “MAGNIFY” series from FOX Sports Films. The series leverages sports as a lens for exploring important cultural stories and investigates the challenges, change, and unity they bring to communities. Since its November 2017 launch, the MAGNIFY series’ roster of influential contributors includes: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chance the Rapper; and, most recently, Kevin Durant.
“From the opening minutes of this powerful film, we knew it was a perfect fit for our ‘Magnify’ series,” said Gabe Spitzer, Senior Vice President and Executive Producer, FOX Sports Films. “The power of sports as a community builder is visible throughout the documentary.”
The producers are Jill Ahrens, Ryan Ahrens, and Renzo for Argent Pictures; Derek Dudley, Shelby Stone, and Melisa Resch through Common’s Freedom Road Productions; Renzi, Michael Minahan, Daniel Yaro, Nick Boak, and Chris Burt through Renzi’s North of Now production label; and Andrew D. Corkin through his Uncorked Productions company. Jason Michael Berman executive produced for Mandalay Pictures along with Michael Sherman and Matthew Perniciaro of Bow and Arrow Entertainment; Tommy Oliver and Codie Oliver of Confluential Films; and Stanley Twarog. The deal was negotiated by Endeavor Content.
“We continue to connect really strong contributors to the ‘Magnify’ series,” added Charlie Dixon, Executive Vice President, Content, FOX Sports. “These varied, authentic voices that influence and support the films add an important layer to the mission of telling stories that focus on life beyond sports.”
“They Fight” will premiere this fall as a FOX Sports broadcast. Other “MAGNIFY” films, past and future:
• 2018 Sports Emmy®-nominated “89 Blocks,” executive produced by James and Carter for Uninterrupted, along with Sports Illustrated (November 2017)
• “Shot in the Dark,” executive produced by Wade and Chance the Rapper (February 2018)
• “Nossa Chape,” from award-winning directors Jeffrey Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist (The Two Escobars, Pele: Birth of a Legend) focuses on the 2016 plane crash involving Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense. It premieres June 23rd at 4:15 pm ET on FOX immediately following 2018 FIFA™ World Cup coverage.
ESPN+ Debuts Its Newest Boxing Brand: Camp Life
ESPN+ has debuted its newest boxing brand, Camp Life, a series that takes fans inside the training camps of today’s biggest fighters for intimate and penetrating looks at boxers’ lives as they prepare for battle. The premiere episode visits pound-for-pound elite Terence “Bud” Crawford at his training camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and gives fans an opportunity to take a peek behind the curtain of one of boxing’s modern greats as he prepares for his bout against WBO welterweight champion Jeff “The Hornet” Horn, June 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“Camp Life” is available now live and exclusively in the United States on ESPN+ — the recently-launched multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment in conjunction with ESPN.