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.
Welcome to Montreal- Canada’s Mecca of Boxing
By: Patrick Mascoe
Montreal has long been considered Canada’s cultural capital and may very well be one of North America’s most beautiful and interesting cities. It is warm and inviting, as well as multicultural and cosmopolitan. French is the city’s official language, creating the illusion that Montreal is more of a European than North American city. Montreal may be best known for hosting the “Just for Laughs Comedy Festival” and for its beloved hockey team, the Montreal Canadians. However, in recent years it has re-established itself as a true boxing hotbed.
Historically, Montreal has always supported the sweet science. In 1958, arguably one of the greatest title fights of all time took place in Montreal between Yvon Durelle and legendary champion, Archie Moore. Moore eventually defeated the French Canadian, but it wasn’t easy. Motivated by fighting in front of a home crowd, Durelle, a 4-1 underdog, managed to knock down the champion five times before being stopped in the eleventh round.
Montreal also hosted the first Sugar Ray Leonard – Roberto Duran fight in 1980 in front of 44,000 spectators. Those numbers are truly amazing when you consider that neither boxer was fighting in front of a home crowd. Both the American, Leonard, and the Panamanian, Duran, were fighting on foreign soil. Montreal fans were not there to support one of their own as they had for Durelle years earlier. They were supporting the sport of boxing itself. That support has always existed in Montreal and now the rest of the world is taking notice.
American fighters, who would never have considered leaving home in the past, are now gladly flocking to Montreal and Quebec City to ply their trade in front of knowledgeable and appreciative audiences. Over the last few years, world ranked American boxers such as, Bernard Hopkins, Chad Dawson, Timothy Bradley, Kendal Holt, William Joppy, and Omar Sheika, as well as American-based fighters Edison Miranda, Glen Johnson, and Librado Andrade have all fought in the province of Quebec.
Ironically, after Bernard Hopkins fought Jean Pascal to a controversial draw in Quebec City in 2010, he swore he would never again fight in Canada. Funny how interest and money can change the mind of even the harshest critic. Bernard Hopkins did travel back across the border, this time to Montreal, and proceeded to win his rematch with Jean Pascal, becoming the oldest boxer in history to win a world title. More than 17,750 tickets were sold for the fight. Compare that to his very next fight against Chad Dawson at the Staple Center in Los Angeles, in front of a considerably smaller crowd of 7,000, and one can’t help but see the growing potential of the Montreal market.
How did the Montreal faithful react to the defeat of their local hero Jean Pascal? They responded with class. At the end of the fight, not only did the fans continue to support Pascal, they also enthusiastically applauded Hopkins and acknowledged his monumental performance. It is the capacity that the Montreal fans possess to judge fighters solely on their merits that makes coming to Montreal so inviting. This attitude transcends boxing. Though the Quebec fans are fiercely loyal and incredibly supportive of their own, what makes them truly special is that you don’t need to be French Canadian to be loved. If you adopt them they will in turn adopt you.
Before baseball legend Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, he played in the International League for the Montreal Royals. He often spoke about how fortunate he was to play baseball in Montreal because all that was expected of him was to play to the best of his ability. “In my own country, I received boos and jeering. Going back to Montreal, and the warm and friendly reception that I received, is something I can never forget.” After Montreal won the International League Championships in 1946, the Montreal Gazette reported that Robinson was forced to run for his life because he was being chased by white men – not because of hate but because of love and adoration.
Montreal’s love affair with its athletes, either homegrown or adopted, is as strong now as it was in the days of Jackie Robinson. Just ask Lucien Bute, the former Super Middleweight Champion of the world. Bute was born in Galati, Romania in 1980 and arrived in Montreal in 2003 to work as a training partner for local fighter Eric Lucas, who was preparing to defend his WBC Super Middleweight Title against Markus Beyer. Since his arrival, Bute has become a fixture in the Montreal boxing scene.
On October 19, 2007, at the Bell Center in Montreal, Bute was given a shot at the IBF Super Middleweight Title. He defeated Alejandro Barrio of Columbia by TKO in the eleventh round. Bute went on to defend his title nine times, including six title fights in Montreal. His title reign ended in 2012, when he was soundly defeated by Carl Froch in Nottingham, England.
In 2014, after a long lay off due to injuries, Bute was matched against fellow Montreal resident Jean Pascal. Despite the fact that both fighters were no longer world champions, the fight captured the interest of the entire city and proved to be their best financial option. More than 20,000 boisterous fans took turns chanting the names of their hometown heroes throughout the entire twelve-round match. When it was all over, Pascal was awarded a unanimous decision over his cross-town rival.
Montreal boxing promoter, Yvon Michel, claims that there are numerous reasons for the consistent success of boxing in the Montreal market. For one, the city has never been short of homegrown talent. Hall of Famer, Arturo Gatti was raised in Montreal and went on to become the WBC Lightweight Champion. Two of the four Hilton brothers, who were as famous in Montreal for their antics outside the ring as inside, managed to stay out of trouble just long enough to win world titles. Matthew Hilton was an IBF World Light Middleweight Champion back in 1990 and his brother Davey Hilton Jr. won the WBC Super Middleweight Title in 2000.
Another set of Montreal brothers, who are still making their living in the fight business, are Howard and Otis Grant. Back in 1998, Otis Grant challenged Roy Jones Jr. for his WBA and WBC Light Heavyweight Titles. He and brother, Howard, a former Olympic boxer, now run a popular gym in Montreal with clients from both the boxing and MMA world. For years, they have coached UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre and were Lucien Bute’s corner men.
Montreal resident Eric Lucas held the WBC Super Middleweight Title from 2001 – 2003 and was a regular main event fighter at the Bell Centre. Dierry Jean, of Montreal, fought Terence Crawford in 2015, for the WBO Light Welterweight Title but was stopped in the tenth round. Former WBC heavyweight champion, Bermane Stiverne, grew up and learned his trade in Montreal. WBC Champion Adonis Stevenson has fought most of his fights in Quebec and has seen little reason to fight elsewhere. Whenever he steps into the ring at the Bell Center, the arena is packed.
In 2015, Montreal native David Lemieux lost his IBF Middleweight Title to Gennady Golovkin. Despite the loss, Lemieux endeared himself to his Montreal fans by seeking out Golovkin and challenging the fighter that most others in the division were trying to avoid. Although Golovkin proved to be too much, Lemieux demonstrated that he was both willing and brave. At one point, Lemieux was hit while taking a knee. He shook it off and said nothing. If ever a fighter was looking for an easy way out, that was it. He could have easily made the claim that the illegal blow prevented him from continuing. Had he done so, he may have been awarded the fight by disqualification. Thankfully, that’s not what Montreal fighters do, nor is that what Montreal fans expect. Lemieux didn’t look for a way to earn an undeserved victory. Instead, he tried his best but came up short. His Montreal fans knew what he was up against in Golovkin and despite the loss, admiration and support for Lemieux has only grown.
According to Yvon Michel, Montreal is a city that supports all sporting events. Montreal’s athletes are seen as celebrities and boxing matches are seen as social events. He remembers seeing thousands of fans turning out to support Quebec’s Amateur Olympic Athletes in sports like speed skating and synchronized swimming. Being world class and representing Quebec has always been enough to elicit both pride and support from the Quebec faithful.
Another reason for boxing’s success in Montreal is the ability for promoters to work together. Yvon Michel and rival promotional company, Eye of the Tiger, see the benefit of working together in order to make the best match-ups possible. As a result, Montreal fans are never sitting around wondering what would have been. Matches that are hoped for are made. The two biggest promotional companies understand the principles of mutual prosperity and mutual benefit. They work together because when they do, all of Quebec benefits – the promoters, boxers, fans and the media. Unlike the majority of big city newspapers that never seem to cover any boxing news, Le Journal de Montreal dedicates an entire section of their online paper to covering boxing and other combat sports.
Former champions, Pascal and Bute are no longer the stars of Montreal as they once were. Both are now on the brink of retirement. Pascal has lost three of his last five fights, while Bute has lost four of his last five. For both men their best days are behind them. However, their contribution to the Montreal boxing scene will never be forgotten. Montreal fans are not fair weather fans. If Lucien Bute and Jean Pascal never win another fight, they will still be forever loved by the city of Montreal.
Despite the fact that Bute and Pascal are on the way out, the future of boxing in Montreal will continue to shine for years to come. Three of the Ring’s “100 Best Fighters in the World” call Montreal home; Adonis Stevenson, the WBC light heavyweight champion, undefeated light heavyweight Artur Beterbiev, and undefeated Eleider Alvarez, also a light heavyweight.
Rumors in Montreal are suggesting that Eleider Alvarez, a Montreal resident by way of Colombia, will be challenging Montreal resident and WBC Lightweight Champion, Adonis Stephenson for his title in Montreal in early 2018. The fight was originally rumored to be held in December but has been moved back because one of Montreal’s other top tier fighters is already in negotiations to fight at the Bell Center in December. David Lemieux appears to be set to take on WBO Champ Billy Joe Saunders just before Christmas. Promoters in Montreal are living the dream. When the main event fighters are from the host city and are vying for a world title, tickets tend to sell themselves.
As in all things in life, success seems to keep opportunity flowing. Whoever wins between Alvarez and Stephenson will probably guarantee themselves main event status in Montreal at least for the next couple of years. Perhaps, Sergey Kovalev who has fought twice in Montreal would be willing to come back to chase a title? Should David Lemieux defeat Saunders that could open up a number of possible match ups. In the past, Lemieux has called out Canelo Alvarez and appears willing to step in against anyone at anytime. Artur Beterbiev has also announced that he is ready to challenge for a world title as soon as possible.
Besides the major fights held at the Bell Center a large number of smaller cards are held annually throughout Montreal. Montreal trained fighters such as, Yves Ulysse Jr., Steven Butler, Batyr Jukembayev, Oscar Rivas, and Custio Clayton are all hoping to keep the Montreal tradition alive by one day becoming world champions.
In a city where loyalty is rewarded with loyalty, and where both fighters and fans understand that love is a two-way street, Montreal may prove to be a prime boxing destination for years to come. If you consider yourself a fan of boxing, then “Bienvenue à Montréal.”
PBC on Spike TV Results: Stevenson Wrecks Williams in 4
PBC on Spike TV Results: Stevenson Wrecks Williams in 4
By: Matthew N. Becher
Live from the Centre Videotron in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, Premier Boxing Championship showcased a night of Light heavyweights, including one of the reigning world champions.
Photo Credit: Dave Nadkarni/Premier Boxing Champions
In the lead up fight, Eleider Alvarez fought for a chance to become the #1 contender to fight for the WBC Light Heavyweight belt. Originally scheduled to fight former champion Chad Dawson, Alvarez would need to get past a late sub in New Zealand native Robert Berridge.
The Main Event was another title defense for the WBC Light Heavyweight champ, Adonis Stevenson. Stevenson has defended his belt 7 times, but has since been stripped of his Ring Magazine title, due to not fighting a top 5 divisional foe in 2 years. His opponent, Thomas Williams Jr. fought his way to the title by knocking out Edwin Rodriguez.
Eleider Alvarez (19-0 10KO) v. Robert Berridge (27-4-1 21KO): Light Heavyweight
Alvarez comes from a highly touted amateur background. He was an Olympian for his native country of Columbia in the Beijing games, and he came out early showing off his boxing skills. Berridge, who came in on late notice from New Zealand, is a brawler who tried to make the fight awkward from the beginning. Berridge did not want the fight fought at a distance, because Alvarez had the skill and length to his advantage. It ended up being fought on the outside anyway.
Berridge was never comfortable in the ring, possibly from the late notice, more likely due to his skill level not being the same as Alvarez. Alvarez on the other hand, could not capitalize on the lesser known opponent and make a statement. This may have played out completely different had Chad Dawson not get hurt before this fight.
Alvarez UD10 99-90, 98-92, 98-92
Adonis Stevenson (27-1 22KO) v. Thomas Williams Jr. (20-1 14KO): WBC Light Heavyweight Championship
In the front row sat two Light Heavyweight contenders, Artur Beterbiev and Lucian Bute, both watching their fellow countryman and also scouting a possible future opponent in Stevenson.
The fight started off quick, with Stevenson establishing his straight right hand jab, and following up with the big left hand. In the end of the round, the big left hand landed to the back of the right ear of Williams, putting the challenger down for an eight count.
Williams was down, but not out. Keeping his hands up, and picking his shots from different angles, Williams was able to land some pretty heavy shots of his own. Some staggering the champ.
The fourth round was a brawl. Both fighters traded power punches, the crowd was on its feet, and Thomas Williams Jr. just couldn’t take anymore. A huge left hand landed on the chin of Williams and he was not able to get back to his feet.
Stevenson KO4 2:54
Biyarslanov Aiming to Make History in the Olympics
Biyarslanov Aiming to Make History in the Olympics
By: Ed Hitchins
When Canadian Olympian Arthur Biyarslanov first took up boxing, he never thought of a gold medal. He thought of ways to get out of it.
“I really sucked,” recalls the 21-year-old. “I don’t like doing something I’m not good at.
“I was the worst one of all the guys there,” Biyarslanov says.
“I hated going back to the gym. Sometimes I would pretend I was asleep because I didn’t want to go. My brother boxed too. He would eventually catch onto my little tricks.”
Biyarslanov, born in Chechnya during the war with Russia in the mid ‘90s and emigrated immigrated to Canada from Azerbaijan when he was 10, would eventually start winning.
After the 2012 London games, he set his sights firmly on 2016.
“I felt that, my whole life I’ve been a fighter,” he says. “I have the fight in me. So I started to take boxing seriously. I just kept going and winning tournaments and got more motivated. So, I set a goal for myself for 2016.”
Biyarslanov, who has dreams of becoming a cop, put his degree in psychology on hold. Training 30 hours in the gym at a week, he simply doesn’t have time to study.
He also found a new trainer. Chris Johnson, who won a bronze medal at the 1992 Olympic games. Johnson feels Biyarslanov’s dedication to his craft is what will carry him into Rio.
“It seems like I’ve training him for 10 years,” says Johnson, who has been Biyarslanov’s trainer for the past six months. “He’s more confident and powerful. He hits the target.”
“This kid has all the attributes,” Johnson says. “He has power, speed and smart. He’s a wolf, he’s going to tear the opponent apart when he’s in the ring.”
Biyarslanov, who goes by the nickname ‘Chechen Wolf’ in honour of his roots, is aware of Canada’s drought in boxing. There hasn’t been a Canadian medalist in boxing since David Defiabagon in 1996. A Canadian hasn’t won a gold medal since Lennox Lewis took it in Seoul in 1988.
Having won Pan Am Gold in Toronto last summer and ending a 50-year drought at that competition, Biyarslanov would like to do the same at the Olympics.
“It would be awesome. It’s been a really long time,” he says. “Being in Canada, if I wasn’t here I would have never taken up boxing. I would have never had the opportunity to go to school.
“I want to work as hard as I can and return to Canada with the gold medal,” Biyarslanov says.
New Toronto Promoter Hoping to Follow Quebec’s Lead
New Toronto Promoter Hoping to Follow Quebec’s Lead
By: Ed Hitchins
When Ryan Frazer talks about boxing in Canada, he points to one place known for its resounding success.
“Quebec has winners,” Frazer says. “David Lemieux has been around the world and back. Otis and Howard Grant. Their commission supports them.
Trainer DeWith Frazer (second from left) is hoping his network, which includes stars such as (from left) Sugar Ray Leonard, Lennox Lewis and Roy Jones, will launch his son Ryan’s forte in promoting to a high level.
“Their amateur shows are bigger than ours. Guys like myself and other promoters need to show up at these amateur shows and help these kids,” he says.
It’s part of the 23-year-old’s motivation to start North Corner Promotions in Toronto, Ont. Fresh out of St. Lawrence College in with a degree in marketing, Frazer says couldn’t see himself in a long-term, 9-to-5 situation.
“I came home from college and I see the boxing scene in Toronto isn’t that great,” Frazer says. “I felt I could really spice things up around here. My father told me if I pursue it, I can really make a difference for boxing in Ontario.”
His dad would know a thing or two about that.
Trainer Dewith Frazer has been involved in boxing for the better part of 30 years, and some of his notable clients including 1988 Olympic silver medalist Egerton Marcus, as well as former IBF champion Steve Molitor.
The elder Frazer says Ontario has lagged in boxing for a generation for a multitude of reasons, finances being a major problem.
“What we’ve been suffering from here is something called ‘not-to-many-action,’” Dewith says. “You may see a fighter fight in June. But you won’t see him until the next June.
“That can’t work. Especially with a young guy coming up, they need to be active. Not only to get publicity, but also to grow,” says Dewith at his studio in Mississauga, Ont.
He says that during the past three decades, most promoters in Ontario aren’t boxing promoters.
“They don’t know the environment,” Dewith argues. “Boxing is a very small business. If they don’t know you, they won’t do business with you. There hasn’t been anyone here that has been known to the boxing community.
“We see Lennox [Lewis] come into the mix,” he says. “He could make a difference, because he is a known commodity.”
Dewith believes his experience and networks linking top people will be able to help his son’s endeavour create a fan base in order to harness and nurture developing talent.
“When I need a fighter that we’re having a problem, we could call Roy Jones,” he says. “Bob Arum and Top Rank do sign fighters from here. I know about Zsolt [Daranyi Jr] who’s contract was recently bought by Cameron Duncan from Top Rank. We have local fighters from here that Top Rank or Golden Boy have no problem allowing us to promote them in our city.
“It is a huge asset to know that,” Dewith says.
However, in a congested sports market that includes teams in Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL, the Frazers face an uphill climb promoting in the Canada’s largest city.
Dewith however is not deterred by that.
“The thing is, we have talent here,” he says. “Talent sells. We have kids that have the talent.
“We have to teach them how to speak to the media, how to dress, how to do charity work. We also have to teach the value of our sport,” Dewith says. “That’s what people are looking for right now, a leader.”
Hoping to put together their first show later this summer, Ryan has very lofty expectations. And he hopes to host the regular shows that are the norm in La Belle Province in just a few years.
“I want to make Casino Rama (in Rama, Ont.) the spot within five years,” Ryan says. “That’s the only resort we have like Vegas around here. I feel if I can make it there, I can possibly do Fallsview Casino (In Niagara Falls) as well.
“The boxing community is here, we just have to work together,” Ryan says.