Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of January 23rd to January 30th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/Showtime
Notes and Quotes from 2018 Boxing Upfront Presented by Showtime Sports and Premier Boxing Champions
SHOWTIME Sports and Premier Boxing Champions unveiled the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING television lineup for the first half of 2018 in an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind Boxing Upfront at Cipriani’s in New York City on Wednesday.
Legendary ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. introduced the matchups of 10 marquee events featuring 12 world champions, 14 undefeated fighters and 12 World Championship fights across the first six months of 2018. Among the fighters in attendance included Deontay Wilder, Danny Garcia, Jermall Charlo, Jermell Charlo, Mikey Garcia, Erislandy Lara, Adrien Broner, Keith Thurman, Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares and Errol Spence Jr.
Radio presenter and television personality Charlamagne the God hosted Wednesday’s event and spoke to each fighter in attendance. Here are some highlights of what the fighters had to say:
“Ever since I’ve been a little boy, I’ve always been doubted no matter what. As a grown man now, I’m still being doubted. I like proving people wrong. There’s nothing like proving somebody wrong.
“As I see it, I’m 39-0 with 38 KOs. Every time I promise I’m going to knock somebody out, I’ve done that. Come March 3, I promise I’m going to knock him out too.”
“There’s an opportunity for a dreamer and March 3 is going to be a great fight.”
“My ideal goal is to show everyone why I’m the best in the world at 160 pounds.”
“2017 was a great year. Unifying the WBA and the WBC titles was a dream come true. Since then, we had the elbow surgery but 2018 is a get-back year. I’m truly looking forward to being back in the ring May 19. After that, I’m going to bring a more exciting fight later on this year. There are a lot of contenders and champions gunning for my number one spot but I’m going to have to let them know that I’ll be right here at the top.”
“Hopefully I get to accomplish this goal of winning the title in four different weight divisions on March 10. It’s an honor to be included on such a short list. This only opens up the doors to bigger fights and bigger things for my career. March 10 is just another small step closer to achieving my ultimate goal, which is to become the best fighter of this generation.”
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be on SHOWTIME and fight in this event. I will give my best before I get in the ring and when I get in the ring. I guarantee it will be a war and a great fight and you won’t be disappointed.”
“I’m trying to outshine everybody. I have to go crazy. I have to rematch Mikey. I have to fight Shawn Porter. This fight is the start of the turn-up. I’m ready. Let’s get it on. He’s undefeated, I’m trying to give him his first loss.”
“Young people make mistakes but the greats learn from it. I believe I’m the most skillful young guy that’s fighting on TV right now and in 2018, I want to show it.”
“It’s time to put everyone on notice who the best 154-pounder is. I know a win over Erislandy Lara will put me there so I’m coming for that number one spot.”
Leo Santa Cruz
“The fans can expect a full-action fight just like the first one, maybe even better. I know Abner Mares changed his trainer and Robert Garcia is a great trainer who will bring the best out of him. But we’re also smart. My dad is a great trainer who will bring the best out of me. It will be a great fight.”
“It’s been two years since I fought Leo Santa Cruz and all I’ve been thinking about is redemption. With Team Garcia, you’ve seen the change. If they think I’m going to fight the same way, they are in for a surprise.”
“I’m going to stay fly, get my body count up and let that lion roar.”
“It wasn’t my choice to relinquish the title, it was in the contract. Floyd [Mayweather] told me he would get me a bigger and better fight against Adonis Stevenson for the WBC title so I couldn’t pass that up.”
Beibut Shumenov Announces his Comeback
Two-division World Boxing Association (WBA) World Champion Beibut Shumenov announced his comeback today at a press conference held in his native Kazakhstan.
“I thought a very long time before making this decision,” Shumenov explained. “Having weighed all the pros and cons, in addition to consulting with my family and team, I have firmly decided to return to professional boxing. Ahead is a lot of work but our goal is obvious. I want to express my thanks to all those who’ve supported me. I will keep everyone up to date with more news and details of my return to the ring.”
The Las Vegas-based Shumenov (17-2, 11 KOs), a 2004 Kazakhstan Olympian, retired last June due to an eye injury., forcing him to relinquish his WBA cruiserweight world title.
“I want to tell you why I decided to interrupt my career.” Shumenov announced at today’s presser conference. “The trauma of my eye affected my decision. Fatigue and emotional tension accumulated. I just needed a break. Now, I have recovered, and I am going to resume my boxing career. Negotiations are now underway for my next fight.”
Shumenov also revealed that he is working with a Kazakh group to develop a domestic pro boxing program in Kazakhstan for young children in Kazakhstan to help them reach their heights.
In only his 10th pro fight, Shumenov established the fewest-fights record for the light heavyweight world champion 10 years ago, when he decisioned Gabriel Campillo in Las Vegas.
Shumenov became the only two-division world champion from Kazakhstan in his last fight, when he stopped Junior Wright in the 10th round of their May 2, 2016 title fight, capturing the WBA Cruiserweight World Championship.
During the 34-year-old Shumenov’s professional career, he has defeated four world champions (Campillo, Byron Mitchell, William Joppy and Montell Griffin), as well as seven world title challengers (Epifanio Mendoza, Vlacheslav Uzelkov, Danny Santiago, Enrique Ornelas, Tamas Kovacs, BJ Flores and Wright).
Sampson Boxing Sign Super 6’7” Super Welterweight Sebastian Fundora
Sampson Lewkowicz of Sampson Boxing proudly announces the signing of undefeated super welterweight prospect Sebastian ‘The Towering Inferno’ Fundora to a promotional contract.
The 6′ 7″, 20-year-old southpaw Fundora, from Coachella, California, is the tallest fighter in his division in the world. Lewkowicz was, at first, reluctant to sign a virtually unknown commodity in Fundora, whose tall statue and low weight make him look deceptively emaciated.
So, always having been a great eye for talent, Lewkowicz put the young fighter in some tough match-ups and was very impressed by the results.
In September of last year, Fundora took on then undefeated Victor Toney and dominated him over six rounds. Looking to evaluate him further, Lewkowicz then put Fundora in a couple tough tests in South America and he won both by near shutout.
“I thought he would be too frail against better competition,” said Lewkowicz, “but he barely lost a round in his last four fights. Sebastian is nearly impossible to fight at this weight, with his reach and southpaw stance. And he took enough shots for me to see that he also has a world-class chin. He is going to be a major factor in the division very soon and I’m happy to have signed him to my stable.”
“I am fortunate to have met and signed with a great boxing promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz, who has exciting plans for my future and who will guide me to conquer the dream of becoming world champion,” said Sebastian Fundora. “I have trained all my life to become a world champion, step by step and day by day. I am looking forward to seeing what the future awaits.”
Fundora has worked as a sparring partner for the world’s youngest super middleweight world champion in history, David Benavidez… also a Sampson Boxing fighter. It was members of Benavidez’ camp who initially directed Lewkowicz to the fighter.
“I now have boxing’s youngest super middleweight champion in history and the tallest junior middleweight in history,” said a proud Lewkowicz of his promotional stable.
Stephen Espinoza Promoted to President of Showtime Sports
Showtime Networks Inc. has announced that Stephen Espinoza has been promoted to President, Sports and Event Programming, where he will continue to develop and execute the overall strategy of the group. The announcement was made today by David Nevins, President and CEO, Showtime Networks Inc., to whom Espinoza reports.
Under Espinoza’s leadership, SHOWTIME has become the world’s leading outlet for live boxing. In 2017, SHOWTIME Sports produced 33 world championship fights and 71 live bouts in all – twice as many as any other outlet. SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® has a television lineup for the first six months of 2018 that will be the largest ever in the sport, with 10 world-class events including 12 world title fights. SHOWTIME can also lay claim to the two most watched pay-per-view events in history with Mayweather-Pacquiao (May 2015) and Mayweather-McGregor (August 2017), as well as the three most lucrative with Mayweather-Canelo (September 2013), each bout produced during Espinoza’s tenure. He also helped orchestrate one of the biggest deals in boxing history when Floyd Mayweather moved to SHOWTIME in 2013 under a landmark six-fight deal. Across seven events with Mayweather, SHOWTIME PPV generated more than 14 million domestic buys (U.S. and Canada) and over $1.2 billion in domestic pay-per-view revenue during a span of just four years.
“Simply stated, Stephen is the heavyweight champion of his profession,” said Nevins. “He is an innovator, equal parts thoughtful and tenacious, who has turned SHOWTIME boxing into the market leader, while also driving excellence in our documentaries and sports series.”
As head of SHOWTIME Sports, Espinoza is responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the sports and event group, including its pay-per-view unit. Based in Showtime Networks’ New York offices, Espinoza oversees the production of the network’s original sports series and sports documentaries, as well as the acquisition and licensing of all other SHOWTIME and pay-per-view sports and event programming. The network’s hard-hitting sports content includes SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING, SHOBOX: THE NEW GENERATION, ALL ACCESS, A SEASON WITH (featuring college football programs from Notre Dame, Florida State and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis), ALL ACCESS: QUEST FOR THE STANLEY CUP and the Emmy® Award-winning INSIDE THE NFL, as well as an enviable slate of documentaries including IVERSON, KOBE BRYANT’S MUSE, ONE & DONE and DISGRACED.
Prior to joining SHOWTIME in late 2011, Espinoza was a partner in the firm of Ziffren Brittenham LLP. At the firm, he specialized in representing athletes and sports personalities, including professional boxers Oscar De La Hoya and Mike Tyson, who generated a total of over $500 million in pay-per-view revenues under his representation. Espinoza served as lead counsel for De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions dating back to the formation of the company. Through his representation of Tyson, De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions and his subsequent work at SHOWTIME, Espinoza has been directly involved in the five highest-grossing pay-per-view events of all time (including De La Hoya-Mayweather and Tyson-Lewis, as De La Hoya/Golden Boy’s lawyer and Tyson’s lawyer, respectively).
Other notable former sports clients include former NFL star and current broadcaster Michael Strahan and mixed martial arts fighter and actress Gina Carano. Espinoza also represented a variety of established and emerging performers and filmmakers across the film and television industries. Espinoza previously worked at the Law Offices of Steinberg & Moorad, one of the nation’s preeminent sports law firms.
Espinoza earned a B.A. in Communication from Stanford University and received his J.D. from UCLA School of Law.
Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly owned subsidiary of CBS Corporation, owns and operates the premium television networks SHOWTIME®, THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ and FLIX®, and also offers SHOWTIME ON DEMAND®, THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ ON DEMAND and FLIX ON DEMAND®, and the network’s authentication service SHOWTIME ANYTIME®. Showtime Digital Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of SNI, operates the stand-alone streaming service SHOWTIME®. SHOWTIME is currently available to subscribers via cable, DBS and telco providers, and as a stand-alone streaming service through Apple®, Roku®, Amazon, Google, Xbox One and Samsung. Consumers can also subscribe to SHOWTIME via Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Sony PlayStation® Vue and Amazon Channels. SNI also manages Smithsonian Networks™, a joint venture between SNI and the Smithsonian Institution, which offers Smithsonian Channel™, and offers Smithsonian Earth™ through SN Digital LLC. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME PPV. For more information, go to www.SHO.com.