Canelo Inks Record-Breaking Long-Term Contract with DAZN
By: Jake Donovan
From the moment they announced their commitment to boxing earlier this year, the brass at DAZN insisted they were in it for the long haul.
So, too, is the entire Golden Boy Promotions family, including its biggest star Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
The reigning World middleweight champion has committed to a long-term deal with the sports streaming service, according to overnight reports from ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael and The Los Angeles Times’ Lance Pugmire. The reported $365 million deal is the richest in sports history, with Alvarez’ per fight guarantee surpassing that of Floyd Mayweather’s previous six-fight deal with Showtime.
Photo Credit: Golden Boy Promotions Twitter Account
BoxingScene.com senior writer Keith Idec was the first to break the story of Alvarez heading to DAZN, with specific terms of the deal since revealed by Golden Boy Promotions through its press office.
News of the record-breaking contract comes ahead of a scheduled Wednesday press conference in New York City, originally intended to formally announce Alvarez’ forthcoming December 15 challenge of secondary super middleweight titlist Rocky Fielding.
“I’ve always liked a challenge, and this is yet another challenge in my career,” said Alvarez, in a statement that can point to both the incredible deal and his quest for a title in a third weight class.
Their bout—which will headline at Madison Square Garden, where Alvarez will fight for the first time in his career—had yet to disclose which network or platform would carry the event, which was supposed to be revealed on Wednesday. Golden Boy fielded offers from several outlets, including HBO which had presented Alvarez’ last seven bouts and 15 overall through its various networks and Pay-Per-View Arm.
HBO remained in the running to serve as the broadcast provider for Alvarez-Fielding, but removed its name from the fold after declining to match DAZN’s lucrative offer. The development means Alvarez appearing on a platform other than HBO, Showtime (where Alvarez appeared five times from 2012-14) or their respective PPV arms for the first time this decade.
Alvarez’ lucrative deal with HBO expired following his narrow points win over previously unbeaten and unified middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin in their rematch this past September. The event generated more than 1.1 million PPV buys, slightly down from the 1.3 million units sold for their controversial draw one year prior.
The two events managed to generate more than $180 million in PPV revenue, with Alvarez (50-1-2, 34KOs) alone clearing in the neighborhood of $50 million for the rematch between his guaranteed purse and PPV incentives.
Now armed with the richest sports contract ever, the 28-year old superstar from Guadalajara, Mexico will only have to worry about his name helping drive subscriptions to his new boxing home.
“We are thrilled to be exclusive partners with Golden Boy Promotions and Oscar De La Hoya,” said John Skipper, DAZN Group Executive Chairman who previously headed programming at ESPN. “By bringing Canelo’s fights to DAZN, we will turn his pay-per-view success into a growth engine for subscribers – a truly transformational moment for our business and the entire industry.”
DAZN entered the boxing fray earlier this year, cutting a deal with leading UK promoter Eddie Hearn for up to eight years worth $1 billion for the service to be available in the US market. The sports streaming app has already proven successful in several other markets throughout Europe and Asia, and its USA launch has so far been embraced by boxing fans.
The US-brand officially launched in September, with its first card available to North American viewers on September 22. The event aired live from London, starring unbeaten and unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua—easily the biggest star on that side of the pond—in his thrilling 7th round knockout of Alexander Povetkin.
It was a smart way to launch a new service, which had also armed itself with the entire schedule for season two of the World Boxing Super Series which spans three weight classes (bantamweight, super lightweight and cruiserweight). However, less inspiring was the name recognition that came with the first two shows from Hearn’s Matchroom USA company.
The October 6 show in Chicago provided plenty of thrills, far exceeding the notoriety that came with the night’s full lineup. Three separate title fights graced the undercard, but the event drew criticism for its choice in a headlining act between Jessie Vargas and Thomas Dulorme. The fight surpassed expectations, with post-fight buzz supplanting any pre-fight criticism that came with claims of the event failing to move the needle.
Still, another speed bump came ahead of this weekend’s scheduled show in Boston. The originally scheduled main event between unbeaten middleweights Billy Joe Saunders and Demetrius Andrade endured a major facelift when Saunders—who was due to defend his portion of the middleweight title—was scratched from the card after a failed pre-fight drug test resulted in his being denied a license by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission.
Andrade will now face unbeaten but unheralded Namibian contender Walter Kautondokwa, with the now vacant title at stake but carrying far less intrigue.
That dynamic dramatically changes now that the winner can now position himself for a very makeable fight with the division—and sport’s—biggest draw.
Alvarez’ arrival adds to an already increasing middleweight pot on the DAZN side of the street. His old home, HBO is still the network provider for the October 27 vacant title fight between Daniel Jacobs and Sergey Derevyachenko. Jacobs is promoted by Hearn and Derevyachenko by Lou DiBella, who has shown a willingness to work with all promoters, as evidenced by entering a co-promotional deal with Hearn for 130-pound titlist Tevin Farmer, who defends on this weekend’s card in Boston.
Any mixing of matching between Alvarez and the winners of the aforementioned middleweight bouts will at least now come without network roadblocks.
Meanwhile, Golden Boy Promotions—who cut its own deal with DAZN in lieu of a co-promotional pact with Hearn—also finds a new home for the rest of its stable.
“This is easily one of the best days in the growing history of Golden Boy Promotions,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Golden Boy Promotions Chairman and CEO. “We are committed to making this sport as accessible as possible and at an affordable price for all the fans.
“My dream has been to make boxing a sport for all. DAZN has the perfect platform to make this dream come true, and with the biggest star in the sport at the helm of this journey, I have no doubts that we will succeed in unimaginable ways.”
With HBO announcing its exit from the sport—due to come by year’s end—after 45 years in service, Golden Boy lost out on several fight dates. The company was also faced with the burden of its own four-wall deal with ESPN expiring at the end of 2018.
That is no longer a concern. According to ESPN.com, Golden Boy secured a pact with DAZN—separate from Alvarez’ deal—due to begin in the first quarter of 2019 and guaranteeing ten fight nights per year. This opens the door for several notable fighters either promoted or affiliated (through co-promotional deal with other companies) by Golden Boy, including current titlists Rey Vargas, Alberto Machado and Angel Acosta, former titlist Jorge Linares and rising contenders and prospects like Diego de la Hoya and Ryan Garcia.
Linares and Garcia recently appeared on Golden Boy’s current Facebook Live series, but would stand to benefit from a bigger budgeted promotion that would come with DAZN, who between Joshua and now Alvarez can boldly proclaim itself as the home for the two biggest stars in the sport today.
“Being part of this historic deal will require me to prepare myself even more and offer fans even better performances,” Alvarez insists, quite the claim since he’s already led a Hall-of Fame worthy career. “At the same time, I am humbled to be selected to lead this new vision for the sport of boxing, which will without a doubt be for the benefit of the fans.”
Katie Taylor: “I Am Loving The Pro Game”
By: Sean Crose
“I’m so excited about this fight. The fact it’s in Boston means it’s going to be like a home from home for me in there with all the Irish support.” These words, which come from the mouth of Ireland’s Katie Taylor, the women’s WBA and IBF lightweight titlist, make one thing clear – she’s looking forward to facing the 27-5-3 Cindy Serrano at Boston’s TD Center Saturday night on the undercard of the Demtrius Andrade – Walter Kautondokwa middleweight title bout. This weekend will mark the 10-0 Taylor’s third fight stateside and will be aired live via DAZN streaming service.
Photo Credit: Katie Taylor Twitter Account
Taylor is quick to credit promoter Eddie Hearn with a good portion of her success. “Eddie was as excited as me about the future,” she says, “and now I have the chance to be a part of the new venture with DAZN too which is great for me.” The former Olympic Gold medalist isn’t one to rest upon her laurels. “I am developing a fan base in the US as well as back home in Ireland and the UK,” she claims. “It’s such an exciting time for me and I am loving the pro game.”
Things have clearly gone well for Taylor since she turned pro back in 2016. “I love fighting in the US and this is a really big fight with a big name on a huge platform in Boston and on DAZN,” she says. “These are the kinds of fights that I am in the sport for.” Fighting in Boston, with its huge Irish American population, will unquestionably give the 32-year-old a boost.
As Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing states: “Katie Taylor believes another show-stealing performance in her WBA and IBF World Lightweight title defense against Cindy Serrano at the TD
Garden on Saturday night, live on DAZN can make her become a household name in Boston.”
Things haven’t always been easy on Taylor. A documentary, “Katie” details the fighter’s struggles both in the ring and with her family. With that in mind, the fighter has been able to forge herself a perfect record in the nearly two years since turning pro and has no intention of letting up as she watches her star begin to rise. Serrano, however, clearly has other plans. The Brooklyn based fighter hasn’t lost since 2012. She’s also the sister of noted champion Amanda Serrano, owner of the WBO women’s super-lightweight title.
Eddie Hearn Hopes To Ring In: “A New Era Of Broadcasting”
By: Sean Crose
On October 6th, Chicago’s Wintrust Arena will host the American premiere of promoter Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom boxing. The card, which will feature welterweights Jessie Vargas and Thomas Dulorme will be broadcast live on the DANZ streaming program. “This is a huge event and the first of our 16 fights across the year on DAZN,” said Hearn during a Wednesday press conference. “We are delighted to be in Chicago, a great fight city that we hope to really invigorate on October 6 in front of a huge crowd.” DANZ which, like ESPN+, charges a small fee, is being promoted as the viewing experience of the future.
“It’s a new era of broadcasting and a great chance to build our shows from top to bottom,” Hearn said. “No linear construction, no blocks getting in the way. Live throughout the night, stacked nights continuously, giving fight fans exactly what they want.” DAZN Honcho Joe Markowski stated that “in good time will be carrying a huge range of multisport content bringing tremendous value and excitement to fans of all types” Markowski also pointed out “that boxing and MMA fans have been underserved for far too long.”
However fans aim to see the fight, Vargas, who fought Adrien Broner to a draw in his last battle, is eager to prove himself against Dulorme. “I promise you,” he said, “that I will bring fireworks and I will bring entertainment. I am en-route to becoming a World Champion once again. I am a former two division World Champion.” First, however, his focus is on Delorme. “Thomas Dulorme is a contender that always comes to give a showdown,” Vargas claimed. “He never lets you down, he always brings you action.” After facing the likes of Broner, Manny Pacquiao, and Timothy Bradley, Vargas is still willing to face interesting competition. “It doesn’t matter to me” he said, “whoever you want to put in front of me, I’m ready.”
The October 8th card will also feature IBF World Light Heavyweight Champ Artur Beiterbev as he defends his belt against undefeated Englishman Callum Johnson. “Nobody was taking this fight,” said Johnson, “nobody wanted to know. You only had to ask me once and I’m here.” Heavyweight contender Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller will be on the card, as well. His opponent? Popular Polish vet Tomasz Adamek. “The Heavyweight division in booming right now,” said Miller. “Adamek stepped up in the blink of an eye to take this fight and I take my hat off to him but bring the ambulance because it’s gunna be an early night. I’m not going to spend an extra round in that ring.”
No doubt a thrilling bout is something Eddie Hearn and the people of DANZ would love to broadcast.
DAZN Kicks Off Stacked Fall Lineup of Boxing and MMA with Heavyweight Title Fight: Anthony Joshua vs. Alexander Povetkin
DAZN, the world’s largest dedicated live and on- demand sports streaming service, today announced the details of its expansion into the U.S. This follows parent company Perform Group’s $1 billion joint venture with Matchroom Boxing, one of the world’s leading boxing promoters, and a nine- figure multiyear global distribution agreement with Bellator MMA, a leading global combat sports franchise owned by Viacom. The first-ever fight night will be headlined by heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua OBE and Alexander “The Russian Warrior” Povetkin as the two battle for Joshua’s WBA, IBF and WBO titles on Sept. 22 live from Wembley Stadium in London.
Scott Coker, Bellator President and CEO, announced today the invited participants and some of the matchups for its stacked Welterweight Grand Prix. The tournament begins with Douglas Lima taking on Andrey Koreshkov as part of the star-studded “Bellator: Mousasi vs. MacDonald” event on Sept. 29 from the SAP Center in San Jose. Additional fights in the tournament include Jon Fitch vs. Neiman Gracie and Ed Ruth vs. Yaro Umasov. The 10-fighter tournament will play out over the next year exclusively on DAZN.
Additionally, Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Boxing Managing Director, announced plans for a stacked Oct. 6 card at Wintrust Arena in Chicago featuring new signings and former world titleholders Jessie Vargas and Demetrius Andrade as well as world-rated heavyweight Jarrell Miller, in separate bouts. The card will also include IBF light heavyweight titlist Artur Beterbiev vs. Callum Johnson and WBO, IBF women’s lightweight champion Katie Taylor vs. Cindy Serrano. At today’s event, Hearn announced the signings of WBO super lightweight titlist Maurice Hooker, WBA super bantamweight titlist Daniel Roman and several promising American amateurs to Matchroom U.S.A.
Going live in the U.S. on Sept. 10, the Over-the-Top (OTT) sports streaming service made by fans, for fans, will be reshaping the way fans experience the sports they love by making the viewing experience simpler, more affordable and more accessible to all – starting with fight sports. The global streaming platform with millions of subscribers will provide viewers with unlimited access to premium sports content anytime, anywhere for a single subscription price of $9.99 per month following a one-month free trial. All matches streamed on the service will be available both live and on-demand, on a wide range of connected devices, including smart TVs, PCs, smartphones, tablets and game consoles.
“We launched DAZN to disrupt the status quo and change the way the world sees sports,” said James Rushton, DAZN CEO. “When you get DAZN, you’ll get all the fights; we won’t stash our best matchups for PPV, linear TV or a higher-tier package. And you’re going to get the entire card live, no matter the time zone and without constraints for one affordable price.”
As the first global pure sports OTT platform, DAZN will be embarking on its September launch with a stacked line up of 70+ fights – more than one fight night a week on average – through partnerships with Matchroom Boxing U.S.A., Bellator MMA and the World Boxing Super Series. Fans will also enjoy access to a robust content portfolio ranging from new shows premiering on the service, behind-the-scenes features leading up to big events and real-time news stories about the upcoming matchups, making it a must-have for fight fans in the U.S.
“DAZN is Perform Group’s most ambitious undertaking to date and we have big plans as a global streaming leader,” said John Skipper, Perform Group Executive Chairman. “In the last two years we’ve expanded into seven countries across three continents attracting millions of subscribers and creating long-term global partnerships with the best in the industry to bring our fans what they want at an affordable price.”
Fight fans who take advantage of DAZN’s one-month free trial just ahead of Sept. 22 will be treated to the following fight nights already scheduled:
• Sept. 22 – Anthony Joshua vs. Alexander Povetkin
• Sept. 29 – Bellator: Gegard Mousasi vs. Rory MacDonald
• Oct. 6 – Card featuring Jessie Vargas, Demetrius Andrade
• Oct. 12 – Bellator: Matt Mitrione vs. Ryan Bader***
*** Simulcast with Paramount Network
For more information on the fight cards, visit www.matchroomboxing.com and
Additionally, fight fans will feel right at home as International Boxing Hall of Fame fight announcer and the “voice of champions” Michael Buffer will be partnering with DAZN and Matchroom to bring his iconic “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” call to all fight nights as part of the joint venture.
Fight sports is just the first chapter in DAZN’s multisport plans for the U.S. The platform, which first launched in Europe and Asia two years ago, has developed long-term relationships with rights holders around the world, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, EPL and UEFA among others. The sports streaming service has ambitious plans to expand the portfolio as more rights become available and make DAZN the true sports fan’s home, offering sports content from all over the world that’s viewable anytime, anywhere at one affordable rate. DAZN is already available as a multisport service in markets including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, Canada and most recently Italy. Fans can pre-register for the subscription service on www.DAZN.com, as well as receive news about the platform and the sports and games it will show. They can also follow DAZN’s U.S. social channels @DAZNUSA on Facebook and @DAZN_USA for Instagram and Twitter.
Are We Past the Main Stumbling Block for Wilder vs. Joshua?
By: Bryant Romero
Deontay Wilder and his team according to reports have finally agreed to an offer presented them to fight Anthony Joshua in the United Kingdom sometime later this year. This has been the main stumbling block in the very public negotiations between the two heavyweight champions. Obviously, the teams of both fighters want home field advantage for their respective fighter, since the one who has to travel would be at a clear disadvantage. Still, there is a clear A-side in the fight and that is Anthony Joshua who has insisted that fight with Wilder must take place in the UK, which is why negotiations have been difficult because of the location of where this fight will take place.
Now that finally Wilder and his team have agreed to terms for a bout in the UK, it would seem that this fight would no longer have complications in getting made for this year. However, promoter Eddie Hearn claims to have made this offer about 4 weeks ago and he is shocked to have finally heard back from Wilder. Hearn told the boxing media earlier this week that Wilder will be presented with a contract by the end of this week to fight Anthony Joshua. Perhaps Wilder knowing that Joshua is close to striking a deal with mandatory challenger to fight Alexander Povetkin in the fall hangs in the balance and doesn’t want to lose a gigantic payday for fear that Joshua could lose to Povetkin. Or Perhaps Wilder has come to realization that the risk is worth taking in traveling to fight Joshua since the alternatives for the Bronze Bomber are neither attractive nor the most financially lucrative.
Whether Wilder could potentially make more money by luring Joshua to the U.S. is up for debate, especially since Wilder would have to guarantee $50 million up front to Anthony Joshua who has never fought in the United States and has no proven track record of being a PPV draw here as well. The fact is even Deontay’s biggest supporters would be disappointed in the Joshua fight not getting made next, just to see Wilder take on Dominic Breazeale instead.
Wilder has long been criticized for the quality of his opposition and even though he got the win he much needed over a very dangerous Luis Ortiz, it’s Joshua who just 21 fights has already surpassed Wilder in accomplishments and names under his belt. Wilder needs this fight much more for his legacy and the chance to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
Dillian Whyte vs. Joseph Parker Announced for July 28th
By: Oliver McManus
LAST NIGHT we were made aware of a press conference for Dillian Whyte and an unnamed opponent – clearly, then, the Kubrat Pulev fight would not materialise. Dan Rafael from ESPN reported it was Luis Ortiz who would step in and go to war with The Body Snatcher.
Then rumours swirled about Joseph Parker – who had previously signed to fight Bryant Jennings – but David Higgins, Parker’s promoter, refuted these claims as “just hot air”. The rumour seemed to subside but if we’ve learnt anything from Higgins it’s that he’s a crafty old fox.
Photo Credit: Dillian Whyte Twitter Account
Come the announcement this morning at about 09.15 UK time – unseasonably early – we got the big fight; Dillian Whyte vs Joseph Parker, CONFIRMED, for July 28th at the O2 Arena.
The Pulev fight was an IBF eliminator, the Ortiz fight an eliminator for the WBC and whilst this bout holds no official status it is, arguably, Whyte’s best chance to look elite. Let’s not forget, how could we, that Parker was the first man to ever stretch the imperious, impenetrable Anthony Joshua to a full 12 rounds.
Whyte, no doubt, will be looking to better Joshua’s performance by dispatching with his Kiwi opponent in double-quick time and, in doing so, really staking a claim that “hey, look at me now”. Forget 2015, forget that first fight with AJ, Whyte will be wanting to force Anthony into taking notice of him with a performance to make the world stand up.
Parker, on the other hand, will see this as his chance of redemption and a simple route back to the top of the heavyweight scene – Jennings would have been an easier payday, a smaller payday mind, with less reward for the former WBO titlist but a win over Whyte unlocks a whole plethora of things not least the coveted ranking positions.
If Parker comes over in the same polite, respectful manner as he did against Joshua and managers to defy the expectations in beating Dillian Whyte then he establishes a fan-base in Britain and the potential for even bigger money fights.
Eddie Hearn has gone on record as saying he wants to build a “huge card” for this date in order to justify the Box Office, PPV, status but make no mistake this fight alone is worthy enough such an occasion;
Joseph Parker and Dillian Whyte are, arguably, the two best non-title holders in heavyweight boxing and, so, to see the pair square off when both had other options, is something to look forward to because there will be no lack of aggression in the ring – this will be a proper fight where both men take shots in order to enact their game-plan.
Pulev would have been a, relatively, boring fight with Whyte trying to entice Pulev out of his defensive shell and who knows what Deontay Wilder took out of the aging Luis Ortiz?
THIS IS A FIGHT.
Add to that Kell Brook on the undercard, expected anyway, alongside Daniyar Yeleussinov and you get a night of action that you simply cannot miss.
Love him or loath him, there’s no denying that Eddie Hearn keeps on pulling out fight after fight.
Darren Reay: Looking For Three More Fights Before Year’s End
By: Oliver McManus
Up in the North East fight fans are passionate and knowledgeable about their fighters right from the debut-makers all the way to the top with the likes of Lewis Ritson and Josh Kelly and over the past two-three years there’s been an exponential boom in the level of talent showcased on cards up over there; beforehand going to Newcastle used to be considered “experimenting in an untapped market” but it’s becoming a rite of passage, almost, and guarantees an electric atmosphere.
Darren Reay is a man looking to capitalise on this with the super-lightweight appearing on his second Matchroom Boxing card just two weeks away on June 16th – having been out of the ring for 51 weeks, exactly, Reay wants to expedite his career with three fast-track wins this year ahead of a big 2019 and there’s nowhere better to reignite his career than in front of a passionate, loyal, sold-out Metro Radio Arena.
I caught up with him yesterday to talk about his expectations and, trust me, this guy is going places – a top bloke, too, so how can you NOT want him to do well?
We are 2-3 weeks away from fight night, how are you feeling – any nerves?
No nerves yet, really excited to be honest to finally get in the ring after a frustrating period out the ring.
You’ve been out of the ring for almost 12 months for a whole host of reasons – explain it to us mate…
After my fight I had a holiday, and had a little hamstring niggle, that kept me from getting back into the ring in September. Then I had another little set back leading up to my December fight, after a clash of heads in sparring and decided not to risk it, with a big opening to 2018 expected.
Then there was talk of a BoxNation show coming to the North east early part of the year which got postponed which left me unable to get matched up on shows in the North East at short notice. It has been a hard time for myself, but at the same time I have never been out the gym and have learnt a hell of a lot in that time.
And because of such a lengthy absence does it almost feel as though you’re starting from the beginning again?
Not really because I have been training and sparring all this time so I have learnt a hell of a lot, but at the same time I need to be busy for the rest of the year.
Come June 16th then what can we expect from you?
Excitement, I’m buzzing to finally get back in the ring and show all the improvements I have made in the last 11 months. And on such a massive stage show what I can do!
You’re fighting on a Matchroom card too, you’re second time, – you looking to impress Eddie Hearn or just get the job done?
I obviously want to win, but winning well is key when you have such an opportunity like this. Put on a great fight and show my skills and impress all the crowd so people remember my name.
After this fight how many are you looking to get under your belt before the turn of the year?
I would really like to fight another 3 times minimum to finish off this year, my recent link up with MTK is massive for my career and to really help me push on to finish the rest of 2018 strong
At this stage of the career is it all about just staying busy UNTIL the big fights arrive?
100% I want to stay busy and keep learning , I’ve had 2 decent learning fights so far and want to continue that. I’m the first to say I have a lot to work on but I’m always in the gym and am always ready.
Boxing in the north east has had a bit of a boom recently, what do you make of the scene?
It’s fantastic, to be coming up and getting these chances at this time in my career is unreal for myself. We have Lewis Ritson and Josh Kelly flying the flag and that is what the North East has craved for a while someone to build these shows around. And I’m looking to make a big impression on these shows and keep being added to these cards as I see both lads going on to big things with massive nights in the North east and allowing the talent that is definitely here to come through.
When you perform in front of the home crowd does it add a bit more pressure to really perform?
Not really for myself because I would never of thought at this stage in my career I would be boxing on a stage like this, so I want to really enjoy myself soak up the atmosphere and use the home crowd to push me on and bring out a big performance.
Final question mate, this time next year, what’s the world looking like for Darren Reay?
Well I would have just been married to my lovely fiancé. So that will be a big thing in my life. But boxing wise, I would really like to be in a position for some big fights English title level would be ideal scenario but as long I’m busy winning and most of all improving that’s all I can ask for.
Eddie Hearn Announces American Streaming Service
By: Sean Crose
British super promoter Eddie Hearn has officially launched a streaming service here in the United States. According to the press release: “Matchroom Boxing, a world leading boxing promoter, and Perform Group, the digital leader in global sports media, have today announced the creation of a landmark $1billion joint venture and the biggest-ever deal in boxing.” Matchroom is Hearn’s company and it’s clear he’s making it a major player in US boxing. Hearn announced the deal on Thursday with Perfom Group CEO Simon Denyer.
“This is a historic moment for Matchroom and the sport of boxing,” said Hearn “Since our expansion to the US, we have been looking for a partner that shares our vision and that can give us the volume of dates and rights fees required to build the strongest stable in world boxing and take it to a new level.” Hearn intends to showcase 16 Matchroom promoted cards in America this year, along with another 16 from Great Britain. Matchroom will also include all the Pay Per View cards he airs across the Atlantic. “None of the fight nights will be on PPV,” the press release claims. “All will be available for one monthly fee and no long term contract.”
“This is a dream scenario for us,” said Hearn. “We can build a formidable team of fighters and also put our stamp on events from production to talent to in arena experience. Our plan is to make DAZN the home of boxing and with 32 big fight nights already confirmed from the US and UK we are nicely on our way…America – we have well and truly arrived, let the fun begin!” According to the LA Times, Hearn claims he “has $110 million per year to spend on the eight-year deal.” Such a bank account may allow Hearn to bring in the kinds of big American names he hopes to.
Denyer claimed that “Perform Group has a rich history of long term strategic partnerships with the best rights holders in world. I’m excited about working with Matchroom; we share the same passion and vision for reigniting boxing in the US and it’s time for DAZN to provide an exciting new platform for these great events. It’s a better deal for everyone – especially fight fans.” Streaming is making a huge impact on the sport of boxing recently. Aside from Hearn’s Matchroom deal, ESPN has recently begun its own streaming service.
“Marvelous” Marvin Hagler & Eddie “Flame” Mustapha Muhammad Were Schooled in Philly Before Becoming World Champions
By: Ken Hissner
Philadelphia was a hot bed for boxing back in the 1970’s especially in the middleweight division. Out of own boxers would come in to test the water. Two of them that were schooled in Philly that went onto become world champions were “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and Eddie Mustapha Muhammad aka then Eddie Gregory.
Let’s start with Hagler, who was 25-0-1, when he came to the city of “Brotherly Shove” at the Spectrum on March 13, 1976, losing a somewhat disputed majority decision to Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, 27-3-1. All of Hagler’s Philly fights were promoted by J Russell Peltz’s Peltz Boxing.
Several months late on March 9, 1976 Hagler returned to fight a “different” Willie “The Worm” Monroe, 31-3-1, who was then being trained by future IBHOF trainer George Benton for his second fight. Monroe was no longer a runner but stood in front of you like Benton did as a boxer slipping and countering. This writer was in attendance that night and it looked like by the second round Hagler’s nose reminded me if memory serves me right like “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”. Whether it was broken or not I do not know.
In September 14, 1976, Hagler returned to Philly to face their knockout artists Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, 30-6-1 with 28 knockouts. Hagler was ahead on all three scorecards when Hart was stopped in the eighth round.
This writer remembers seeing Monroe at a weigh-in with a cast on his I believe left hand sitting there. I asked “I hear you are having a rematch with Hagler in Boston” how come? “I beat him before didn’t I?” Well, like that old saying “watch what you ask for” and Monroe was stopped in the twelfth and final round for the vacant North American title.
Later that year on August 23rd Hagler and Monroe would have their rubber match back at Philly’s Spectrum with Hagler stopping Monroe in the second round.
Almost a year to the day on August 24, 1978, Hagler returned to face “Bad” Bennie Briscoe, 60-16-5, with 50 knockouts. I recall after defeating Briscoe Hagler went onto comment on how tough Briscoe was. It would be a little over two years when Hagler got his first title fight ending in a disputed draw against Vito Antuofermo, 45-3-1, in Las Vegas. A fight he should have gotten the decision. Antuofermo would lose his title in his next back to back fights with Alan Minter.
While Minter and Antuofermo were fighting one another Hagler got a rematch with Watts in Portland, Oregon, stopping Watts in the second round in April of 1980. Two fights later on September 27, 1980, Hagler traveled to the Wembly Stadium, in the UK, to stop Minter on facial cuts in the third round with a riot following the fight.
In Hagler’s second title fight he stopped Antuofermo in June of 1981. Two years after that he stopped “Caveman” Lee from Philly who was a member of the Kronk Team in the first round.
Now, let’s take a look at Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, 6-0, when he made his Philly debut on September 24, 1973 scoring a first round knockout over Philly’s Elwood Townsend, 3-6-2. J Russell Peltz told this writer he promoted the Townsend, Smith and Briscoe fights that Mustafa had in Philly. Almost a year later on August 26, 1974, in New York, he knocked out Hart in 4 rounds.
On January 14, 1975, Mustafa returned to the Spectrum knocking out Philly’s Steven Smith, 15-4, in 4 rounds. On April 28 he returned to the Philly Arena knocking out Don Cobbs, 25-12-1, of St. Louis. On June 16th he stopped Lenny Harden, 14-4, from nearby Philly suburb of Coatesville.
On August 18, 1975, Muhammad took on Briscoe, 51-14-2, at the Spectrum losing by split decision. On July 14, 1976, he returned to Philly’s Convention Hall to stop Lee Barber, 9-3-1, of Detroit in the fourth round.
On March 11, of 1977 Muhammad would take on Philly’s Matthew Saad Muhammad, 13-2-2, at the Philly Arena to take a split decision win. Later that year on November 20th he would get a title fight losing a disputed decision to Victor Galindez, 47-6-4, for his WBA Light Heavyweight title in Italy. He got knocked down in the fifth round which seemed to make the difference in the scoring losing by a point on two cards and by two points on the other. Galindez would lose his title less than a year later to Philly trained Mike “The Jewish Bomber” Rossman from Turnersville, NJ.
Muhammad would go onto win thirteen of his next fourteen fights only losing to James Scott at the Rahway State Prison. On March 31, 1980, he would win the WBA Light Heavyweight title stopping Marvin Johnson. His first defense was against Philly’s Jerry “The Bull” Martin, 19-1, who he stopped in the tenth round.
After Muhammad lost his title to Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Spinks in July of 1981 he would return to Philly one more time defeating Pablo Paul Ramos, 20-3-1, at the Spectrum.
Uncrowned Champion Eddie Booker
By: Ken Hissner
Ever Hear the Name of Uncrowned Champion Eddie Booker?
This writer recently asked my two favorite Historians Henry Hascup and Chuck Hasson. Hasson brought up the name of Eddie “Black Dynamite” Booker in his P4P all-time greats. I never heard of him and then went to www.boxrec.com and was I in for a shock! He beat Archie Moore, Lloyd Marshall (beat Sonny Liston) and Holman Williams to name a few.
Marshall and Williams were two of the most avoided boxers in the history of boxing. Booker fought from 1935 to 1944. He said when a fight with Charley Burley never materialized that Burley was “Just the best there is out there!”
Booker was from San Jose, CA, and was the San Francisco Golden Gloves champion in 1934 at lightweight. He fought as a middleweight as a professional.
Booker turned professional on January 15th 1935 winning his first twenty-one fights until a draw with Jimmy Wakefield, 21-7-6, on August of 1936. Then eight more wins including two fights after the Wakefield fight he defeated Wakefield.
Then, a pair of draws against Jackie Burke 68-13-17, in October of 1937, and Mickey Duris, 41-4-6, in January of 1938. This was followed with another eight wins.
In January of 1939 Booker met up with Holman Williams, 55-7-3, at Madison Square Garden fighting to a draw. Booker was 37-0-4, when he tasted defeat for the first time to future welterweight champion Fritzie Zivic, 79-19-5, at Madison Square Garden, in his next fight. Then, another loss to Cocoa Kid, 104-28-5, at the Arena in New Haven, CT. Seven straight wins would follow the back to back defeats.
Then came future light heavyweight champion Archie “Old Mongoose” Moore, 47-5-3, in February of 1941, at the San Diego Coliseum, in Moore’s hometown.
Three weeks later it would be another draw, this time with Shorty Hogue, 43-2-1, at the same facility. Two months after this he defeated Hogue. It would be a nine fight winning streak when he met Hogue for the third time and lost his State California Middleweight title.
Two fights later and Booker drew with Johnny “Bandit” Romero, 137-43-7, in May of 1942. Two fights later he stopped Hogue in eight to regain his state title. His six straight win streak ended defeating the ever dangerous Lloyd Marshall, 33-6-2, and a rematch with Moore ending in a draw. Then in the first fifteen round fight in the state since 1914, when he lost to Jack Chase, 49-5-4, and his title in January of 1943.
In Booker’s next fight he defeated Harry “Kid” Matthews, 30-2-4, but two fights later lost to Holman Williams, 107-17-6, in November of 1943. Two fights later he defeated Archie Moore, 59-7-5, in their third bout after drawing twice in January of 1944. The next month he defeated Frankie Nelson, 31-8-1. Then his final bout of his career against no other than Holman Williams, 113-17-6, in March at the Civic Auditorium, in San Francisco. It was their third meeting with a draw and a Holman victory. Booker would defeat Holman over ten rounds. He would retire due to an eye trouble.
What a sensational career for Eddie Booker. Twenty years and eleven days later he would pass away at the age of 57. He had a 66-5-8 record with 34 knockouts. He was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame and in 2017 the IBHOF.
More Boxing History
HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Seldin vs. Ortiz, Miller vs. Wach, Jacobs vs. Arias
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Eddie Hearn’s latest acquisition, Daniel Jacobs, will be on display on HBO. He will be facing Luis Arias in the main event of the evening. Two other bouts are also planned to be broadcast, a heavyweight fight between Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller and Mariusz Wach in the heavyweight division and a junior welterweight bout between Cletus Seldin and Roberto Ortiz.
The NYCB Live, Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York will be the host site for Saturday’s boxing card.
Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing
The following is a preview of Saturday’s HBO card.
Cletus Seldin (25-0) vs. Roberto Ortiz (35-1-2); Junior Welterweights
The opening bout of the night will be between Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin and Roberto Ortiz in the junior welterweight division.
Seldin is a local fighter with a large, supportive fan base. He’s fought in New York for most of his career with a large majority of his fights taking place at the Paramount Theatre. He’s undefeated, but he is currently thirty one years old and his window of opportunity for a legitimate world title fight is getting smaller.
His opponent Roberto Ortiz is the same age and has fought mainly in Mexico. He fought one time in the United States and was stopped by Lucas Matthysse. Ortiz will have a slight two and a half inch height and reach advantage.
Neither Seldin or Ortiz has a notable amateur background in boxing. However, Seldin does have experience in wrestling and judo. He also was a finalist in the New York Golden Gloves tournament.
Both boxers have decent power. Seldin has sixteen stoppage wins on his resume while Ortiz has twenty six. Seldin has never tasted defeated while Ortiz was stopped in his one fight against a big name opponent.
Neither boxer has any big name victories. Seldin’s best wins were against Jesus Selig, Johnny Garcia, and Bayan Jargal. Ortiz’s best wins were against Reyes Sanchez and John Aparicio.
This is an excellent test for Seldin and it will be the toughest of his career. Ortiz has a good record, but lost the only fight in which he faced a good opponent. Seldin should be able to win a close victory, but we’ll definitely have a better idea if he’s a legitimate contender on Saturday night.
Jarrell Miller (19-0) vs. Mariusz Wach (33-2); Heavyweights
Jarrell Miller is an intriguing heavyweight prospect in that he has experienced some surprising success in another combat sport, that being kickboxing.
He was able to defeat UFC veteran Pat Barry in a kickboxing match and went 19-0 in Muay Thai before going to kick boxing. He found some success in kickboxing’s prestige league, K1, and lost to UFC veteran Mirko Cro Cop twice by decision.
He has been very successful since switching to boxing. He’s undefeated and has seventeen stoppage wins, including eight stoppage victories in a row. He fought once in 2017 and three times in 2016.
Miller does have some amateur boxing experience. He made it to the finals of the New York Golden Gloves and lost to Tor Hammer on points. His opponent, Mariusz Wach, also had a successful amateur career and was a Polish National Champion and an Olympic alternate.
Miller will have an eight year age advantage on Wach, who is currently thirty seven years old. Wach will have a height advantage of about three and a half inches and a reach advantage of four inches.
In addition to being tested as a kickboxer, Miller also has defeated some notable heavyweights. His notable wins include Gerald Washington, Fred Kassi, and Donovan Dennis.
Wach’s biggest wins have come against Tye Fields, Kevin McBride, and Jason Gavern. His losses were to Alexander Povetkin and Wladimir Klitschko.
Wach’s age and relative inactivity is a concern. He fought only once in 2017 and once in 2016, against less than impressive opposition.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about a potential heavyweight fight between Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua, but an impressive win by Miller could result in him getting a title shot before Wilder and Joshua meet inside the ring.
Daniel Jacobs (32-2) vs. Luis Arias (18-0); Middleweights
Daniel Jacobs earned the title of “Miracle Man” after defeating a diagnosis of bone cancer in 2011. He was previously signed to Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) but has recently decided to sign with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport.
Jacobs had a very successful amateur career. He was a Junior Olympics National Champion, a Police Athletic League (PAL) National Champion, and a National Golden Gloves Champion. His opponent, Luis Arias, also had a very successful amateur career. He was a US National Champion at middleweight in 2008 and 2010 and was also a Gold Medal PAL winner.
Arias is twenty seven years old and three years younger than Jacobs. Jacobs will have a very sleight half an inch reach advantage over Arias.
Jacobs has a large edge in power over Arias. Jacobs has stopped twenty nine of his opponents and nine of his past ten fights were TKO victories. Arias only has nine stoppage victories, but three of his past four fights were TKO victories.
Jacobs has the better professional resume of the two boxers. He has defeated the likes of Ishe Smith, Jarrod Fletcher, Caleb Truax, Sergio Mora, and Peter Quillin. His losses were a close decision loss to Gennady Golovkin and a shocking knockout loss to Dmitry Pirog.
Arias has defeated the likes of Arif Magomedov, Scott Sigmon, and Jorge Silva.
Arias does have an edge in activity. He already fought twice in 2017 and fought three times in 2016. Jacobs has only fought once in 2016 and once in 2017.
This should actually be a tougher fight for Jacobs than most expect. Arias has the amateur background to match Jacobs and he has never tasted defeat. He’s also been in the ring more often than Jacobs and won’t have to worry about ring rust.
However, Jacobs was very impressive in his defeat to Gennady Golovkin and is filled with confidence. Arias has never felt the power of a boxer like Jacobs and has never been in the ring as a professional with someone of Jacobs’ caliber.
This is Daniel Jacobs’ fight to lose, but Arias has enough talent to make it closer than expected.
Daniel Jacobs: “At The End Of The Day It’s About What You Do Inside The Ring.”
By: Sean Crose
Top middleweight Daniel Jacobs may be taking his November 11th opponent, Luis Arias, seriously as a foe. What Jacobs is not doing, however, is taking Arias seriously as a talker. “It is kind of hard to listen to him because he is trying to force you guys into believing something that does not exist or really is not there,” Jacobs said of Arias on a recent conference call. Still, Jacobs claimed he wasn’t shocked by Arias’ words, as Arias was once part of Floyd Mayweather’s stable of fighters.
Photo Credit Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing
“You have to realize that this guy is a former TMT (The Money Team) guy,” said Jacobs. “He is used to the brash talk.” There’s little doubt that the 18-0 Arias is at least talking a good game in the lead up for a bout most expect him to lose. “I’m going to rough him up,” he told me. “I’m going to be in his face all night.” Some might argue that’s not the best strategy to employ against a man with an over eighty percent knockout ratio, but Arias appears confident as his showdown with Jacobs at New York’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum approaches.
“I do think he’s over-rated,” he said, referring to Jacobs. “If you go and look at his record,” Arias went on to add, “there is nobody there that he beat.” British promoter Eddie Hearn, who has recently teamed up with Jacobs, wasn’t willing to sell Milwaukee’s Arias short. “Maybe I’m a little bit different,” Hearn claimed. “Maybe I’m too much of a fan – it the upset comes, the upset comes.” Not that there was any questions where the man’s loyalty could be found. “Of course Danny Jacobs is our guy,” he said, “and I want him to win but if Luis Arias goes out there and gets the victory – good on him.”
I asked Hearn if Jacob’s impressive performance against Gennady Golovkin at Madison Square Garden last winter had anything to do with his interest in the Brooklyn native. “Many felt that he won,” Hearn said of that fight. “You know that he’s on that level.” The promoter made it clear, though, that he was well aware of the cold, hard facts of the matter. “He (Jacobs) didn’t win (the Golovkin fight),” he stated, “and that’s the reality of it.”
Jacobs also came across as a practical man on the call. After admitting he’d like to knock Arias out, Jabobs went on to say that he “would be completely fine getting a decision.” A decision? Against a man he’s clearly supposed to be better than? “I’m a boxer puncher,” Jacobs explained, “and I love to box.” In fact, Jacobs is such a realist that he made it clear where he feels he stands in relation to Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, who Golovkin recently fought to a draw. “I know,” he said, “that even though these guys aren’t really fearful of me, right now I’m in a lose-lose situation with those guys because I am not technically a champion.”
“They know it’s not worth it to step in there with a guy like me,” Jacobs continued. “I’d rather continue to do my job, climb the ladder, get a title eventually and maybe chase these guys, but to fight me right now? I don’t see that happening.” And so, for the moment at least, there’s Arias. “My job is to continue what I’ve been doing,” said Jacobs. “I’m a professional and have to act accordingly and the goal is to get the job done and look impressive.”
British Invasion: Eddie Hearn talks Matchroom’s plans to promote in the US
By: Sean Crose
“It’s been so hard not to to tell anyone,” English promoter Eddie Hearn told BoxingInsider.com’s Jeandra LeBeauf after Saturday night’s Linares-Campbell card in Inglewood, California. Hearns was in town to support his fighter Campbell’s admirable, but failed, attempt to win himself a lightweight title. Yet the dapper fight man was also in town to discuss his new deal with middleweight powerhouse Daniel Jacobs. “How are you not a superstar?” Hearns recalled telling the American, “because you’ve got it all.” Indeed, those who know Jacobs’ story, one which has seen the Brooklyn native go from a cancer patient to the top of a talent rich division, might find it hard to argue with Hearn’s assertion.
“I’m going to tell everyone that you’re the number one middleweight in the world,” Hearns recalled saying to his new fighter, adding that his goal was to see Jacobs fighting a “minimum three times a year,” with a clear objective in sight. “The ultimate goal, is the Canelo-GGG (Golovkin) winner.” Fight fans will recall Jacobs’ extremely close battle with middleweight kingpin Golovkin at Madison Square Garden last March. Golovkin walked away with the decision win, but Jacobs had clearly established himself as a force to be reckoned with (he had also convinced some, this author included, that he had actually deserved the victory that night).
Hearn’s American invasion, however, has targeted more than just Jacobs. Sure enough, the man made it clear to LeBeauf that he plans on becoming a force in the American fight scene. He’s got good reason to think he’ll be welcome here, for Hearn’s track record in his native England has been exceedingly impressive. As the head of Matchroom Sport, the 38 year old recently made huge waves by packing close to a hundred thousand fans into Wembley Stadium in London in order to see heavyweight honcho Anthony Joshua defend his championship against former great Wladimir Klitshcko in what many believe is the leading contender for 2017s fight of the year.
What’s more, Hearn has proven himself to be a visionary of sorts. His promotions in England are not dreary events, but, rather, take on the air of epic entertainment, so much so that they can even dwarf the spectacle that’s known to go with UFC promotions. “We need to make boxing sexy again,” Hearn said. Referring to his fights in the United Kingdom, the man stated that “people turn up for the night out… and they leave the arena with a smile on their face.” To be sure, fights like Joshua-Klitschko, with their legions of screaming fans and pre-fight pyrotechnics certainly come across as pretty memorable affairs.
“No one else is doing it like we’re doing it.” “I know he had his bad points, but Don King was a promoter.” Hearn went on to explain that, for all his faults, people KNEW when a Don King promotion was going down. “I need,” Hearn said, “people to know that when we’re in town.” So far, the man is doing quite the job of it.
Philly’s “The Big E” Eddie Duncan – What Could Have Been
By: Ken Hissner
This writer remembers back in the early 70’s when in “Smokin” Joe Frazier’s Gym seeing this boxer that Eddie Goodman managed named “The Big E” Eddie Duncan.
Duncan was boastful and was a tall light heavyweight with processed hair. Recently not wanting his name revealed a PA HOF trainer said this of Duncan, “he would spar with Frazier and run circles around him and taunted Joe.”
“Good fighter and very flashy when letting his hands go he excited the crowd. He was also a very personal guy. He won the PA Golden Gloves in 1970 before turning professional. In his professional career he was moved to fast and didn’t get the right fights,” said Jeff Jowett (boxing writer).
Duncan made his debut in September of 1970 scoring a third round knockout over Kenny Warner, 3-1, at the State Fairgrounds in Trenton, NJ. In December and January (1971), he scored first and second round stoppages before running into Ed “Beau Jack” Williams, 9-4, of Camden, NJ, getting stopping in the fifth of a six rounder in March of 1971.
Duncan would return to the ring in October in Baltimore, MD, knocking out Bobby Haynes, 2-3, in 2 rounds. He would return to Philly at the Arena making what would be his final appearance in The City of Brotherly Love winning a 6 round decision over Philly’s Billy Freeman, 4-2.
It was decided to take Duncan’s career “on the road” and off he went to London, ENG, in June of 1972 ending up with a disputed draw against the UK’s Johnny “Gypsy” Frankham, 18-2, over 8 rounds. He was impressive enough to be brought back to face unbeaten future WBC world light heavyweight champion John Conteh, 11-0, winning a 10 round decision.
It would be some 5 months later when Duncan again went back to London defeating Phil Matthews, 13-1, over 10 rounds. Six months later after his success in the UK Duncan returned to the US being a co-feature on a Bob Foster title defense win over Pierre Fourie and defeated Texan Frank Evans, 14-19-1, in Albuquerque, NM, but back to a 6 rounder.
Now at 8-1-1 it would be downhill for Duncan as he returned to the UK losing to Maxie Smith, 13-3, over 10 rounds in Manchester. Two months later his management sent him to Buenos Aires, ARG, against Argentine’s light heavyweight champion and future WBA light heavyweight Victor Galindez, 25-6-4, and got knockout out in 2.
It would be just over a year when Duncan returned at the end of 1974 losing a 12 round decision to Lonnie Bennett, 22-2, over 12 rounds in Las Vegas. In April of 1975 he traveled to Hamburg, Germany and lost to Argentina’s Avenamar Peralta, 85-12-4, being stopped in 7. Just 2 months later he would have his final fight in Oslo, Norway, in June of 1975 losing to Norway’s Harald Skog, 12-0-1, over 10 rounds.
Duncan went from 8-1-1 to end up 8-6-1, losing his 5 last fights. If only his management would have kept him in Philly after the Conteh fight for more experience and never sent him to Argentina you never know what success “The Big E” could have had.
More Boxing History
What’s next for WBA super-flyweight champion Kal Yafai?
By: Dale Josephs
Khalid “Kal” Yafai finally revived Birmingham boxing by bringing world championship boxing back to the region earlier this year, with a lively card of extremely high quality bouts, as well as a WBA world title on the line.Suguru Murunaka was the preferred opponent for Yafai’s first voluntary defence; a durable Japanese fighter who’s never been stopped but had previously only ever fought in his home surroundings of Korakuen Hall, Tokyo.
Eddie Hearn, the figurehead of Matchroom Boxing, delivered once again with a truly enjoyable spectacle which witnessed local Brummies compete; younger brother Gamal Yafai, Sam Eggington and Frankie Gavin emerged victorious from their bouts. Still WBA super-flyweight world champion, Kal Yafai, headlined the Birmingham bill which enticed a rammed arena to cheer, jeer, and drink plenty of beer. The Barclaycard Arena, which sits next to Brindley Place overlooking the famous canals, was occupied by a energetic, vibrant crowd which, along with the lights, music and fighters, created a thrilling atmosphere.
Admittedly, fans wereentirely anticipating Yafai to unite both his raw talent and ferocious power to make easy work of Murunaka. Yet, the Japanese fighter showed heart, courage and commitment to ensure Kal had to work to retain his belt. Despite the contest lasting 12 rounds being seen as extra, unnecessary ring time, it did mean the super-flyweight champion was allowed to showcase his superior boxing ability. Over the distance, Murunaka was completely out-boxed.And, considering Yafai’s hands were immediately in ice following the fight, Murunaka proved he is very tough and durable and is able to take a volume of big punches. Kal was clearly a fan favourite in his home town and he made certain the fans observed a successful defence of his prestigious title.
Now, despite Yafai allowing his bruised hands to heal thoroughly before he advanced any further in his career, the next move in his so-far perfect career has now been plotted. Later this year, the Birmingham based boxer will encounter a Japanese fighter for the second successive fight, and yet another fighter with an unblemished record. The second defence of Yafai’s WBA super-flyweight title will see him share the ring with 25-year-old, Sho Ishida.
So, will this Japanese fighter be able to achieve what the previous one couldn’t and inflict a first defeat on Kal Yafai’s record?
Well, Yafai himself seems to think this will be his most difficult fight to date, and believes Ishida’s unusual height for a super-flyweight will potentially cause him problems. He told Sky Sports, “I’ve watched a few bits of him and the first thing about him is he is very tall. He’s very, very tall for a super-fly so I have no idea how he does that, but he actually looks very good as well.”
Alongside his incredible 5 foot 8 frame, which is 4 inches more than Yafai, he also possesses natural, fierce power which has enabled him to win 13 out of his 24 professional wins inside the allotted distance. But, it’s his range and boxing ability that could prove to be the difference, with a huge reach advantage of 10cm, Kal may discover an extreme difficulty in getting close enough to land his own decisive shots. Although, Yafai is a big body puncher and has showed time and time again his ability to land ferocious punches to his opponents’ ribs and midriff. With that in mind, if he can reduce the gap between himself and Ishida, hurtful body shots could take its toll on a taller, thinner opponent.
Providing Yafai successfully defends his title and retains the WBA super-flyweight belt, an obvious progression would be to establish himself in America and aim to unify the division. Even though Roman Gonzales was finally conquered by Srisaket Sor Runvisai, he remains a colossal name within the 115lbs division, and still has an opportunity to acquire revenge in his rematch with Runvisai. So, along with Roman Gonzales, other opponents which could assist Yafai in creating a legacy would be the other champions; IBF champion Jerwin Acajas, WBO title-holder Naoya Inoue or even WBC champion Srisaket Sor Runvisai if he beats Gonzales for the second time would set up massive clashes in the super-flyweight bracket.