Crawford vs. Kavaliauskas, Commey vs. Lopez Fight Previews
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the legendary Madison Square Garden Arena in New York, New York will be the host site for Top Rank Promotions latest card to be televised live on ESPN.
Terence Crawford will defend his WBO Welterweight Championship against Egidijus Kavaliauskas in the main event of the night. The co-main event will be a IBF Lightweight Championship match between Richard Commey and Teofimo Lopez Jr.
The undercard is also stacked with talent. Michael Conlan will face Vladimir Nikitin in a featherweight bout that will be a rematch of their 2016 Olympic bout. Other fighters to keep an eye on include Josue Vargas, Julian Rodriguez, Mickey Bey, and George Kambosos Jr.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the night.
<strong> Richard Commey (29-2) vs. Teofimo Lopez Jr. (14-0); IBF Lightweight Title </strong>
Teofimo Lopez is one of Top Rank Promotions’ young guns with an incredibly high ceiling. He’s only twenty two years old and has under fifteen fights as a profressional, but he’s already fighting for a world title.
Lopez is ten years younger than Commey and will be giving up about two and half inches in reach. Lopez has been the more active fighter of the two, as he fought three times in 2019 and four times in 2018. Commey only fought twice in 2018 and once in 2017.
Lopez does appear to have a large edge in amateur experience. He competed in the 2016 Olympics for Honduras and was a US National Golden Gloves Gold Medalist. Commey has no major international accomplishments as an amateur.
Commey has two losses on his record, but they were both by close split decision to Denish Shafikov and Robert Easter Jr. He has defeated the likes of Raymundo Beltran, Isa Chaniev, Alejandro Luna, and Hedi Elimani.
Lopez has yet to taste defeat as a professional. He has defeated the likes of Masayoshi Nakatani, Edis Tatli, Diego Magdaleno, Mason Menard, William Silva, and Vitor Jones.
It will be interesting to see how Lopez handles the reach advantage of tested and rugged veteran. Commey is experienced and will be able to take advantage of any mistakes that Lopez may make. But Lopez is the good fighter with a strong punch.
This writer sees Lopez dominating in the middle to late rounds to win a decision victory.
<strong> Terence Crawford (35-0) vs. Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1); WBO Welterweight Title </strong>
Terence Crawford is one of the world’s best fighters, but he struggles to land big meaningful fights in a talent rich welterweight division.
Crawford is thirty two years old and the clock to get a big name fight in his athletic prime is starting to tick. His opponent isn’t much younger as Kavaliauskas is thirty one years old. Kavaliauskas will have abount a once inch height advantage but Crawford will have a three inch reach advantage.
Both boxers had extensive amateur backgrounds. Crawford was a former PAL Champ and a US National Champ as an amateur. Kavaliauskas represented Lithuania in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.
Kavaliauskas has been slightly more active than Crawford. He fought once in 2019, but fought three times in 2018 and in 2017. Crawford fought once in 2019, and twice in 2018 and in 2017.
Crawford has never tasted defeat as a professional and has won rather convincingly in every bout he’s been involved in. He has defeated the likes of Amir Khan, Jose Benavidez Jr., Jeff Horn, Julius Indongo, Felix Diaz, John Molina Jr., Viktor Postol, Henry Lundy, Thomas Dulorme, Raymundo Beltran, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Ricky Burns, and Andrey Klimov.
Kavaliauskas lone blemish on his professional record was a majority draw with Ray Robinson in Philadelphia. He has defeated the likes of Roberto Arriaza, Juan Carlos Abreu, David Avanesyan, Mahonri Montes, and Prenice Brewer.
Crawford has been angling for a big name fight for what seems like a majority of his career. He deserves it, but beating Kavaliauskas is expected of him and likely won’t add much hype for his chance at a big name fight.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Haney, Joshua, Ruiz, ESPN, Plant, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of November 19th to November 26th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing
Diriyah Arena Ready for Clash on the Dunes Action
An iconic fight needs a spectacular venue and few can compare to the Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia which is now ready for a historic night as the Clash On The Dunes sees World Champion Andy Ruiz Jr take on Anthony Joshua.
Earlier this week, Joshua promised the world an “iconic evening of boxing” as he flew into the Kingdom ahead of the epic bout on December 7.
The first-ever Heavyweight World Title fight to take place in the Middle East will be staged in the custom-built 15,000 seat Diriyah Arena in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site, known as the home of heroes and kings.
Eddie Hearn, Managing Director of Matchroom Boxing, said: “The arena and site are utterly breath-taking, with a theme park and concert the night before as well. It’s like nothing we’ve seen before in boxing. The Clash On The Dunes will be a night to remember. We can’t wait.”
The Diriyah Arena has been constructed by 175 staff working tirelessly to transform the 10,000 sq m site, which includes 295 tonnes of steel, which would stretch 57km. Work began on October 7, just two months out, with 3,000 sqm of scaffolding needed to complete the work.
On the night more than 2,000 staff will ensure proceedings run smoothly in the arena, 95 percent of which is reusable, and which will take a month to take down.
Joshua will be looking to regain his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO belts after suffering defeat to Ruiz in New York earlier this year, but the British Heavyweight will have the backing of thousands of UK fans joining boxing enthusiasts from more than 60 countries across the world.
Fans will approach the Diriyah Arena via the Diriyah Oasis, a huge sprawling entertainment hub which includes ice-skating outdoors, sky diving, jetski-ing and ziplining among a host of activities on offer. The Diriyah Oasis is split into the four zones – Nature, Imagination, Reflection, Excitement- giving families a place to come together, and at its heart lies an astonishing grand installation by world-renowned Italian artist, Edoardo Tresoldi.
The Clash On The Dunes forms part of the Diriyah Season, epic month of sports which kicked off with Formula E at the weekend, the Diriyah Tennis Cup featuring eight of the best men’s players on the planet, and the Diriyah Equestrian Festival, an elite competition with Tokyo Olympics 2020 qualifying points on the line.
The Diriyah Season is also supported by the Diriyah Music Festival with huge concerts taking place around the event. On December 6, the night before the Clash On The Dunes, major artists who are yet to be announced will perform. So far artists such as Imagine Dragons, DJ Alan Walker, Clean Bandit and Maluma have performed to 40,000 concert goers.
Tickets for all of the Diriyah Season’s spectacular events, concerts and entertainment will be available at www.diriyahseason.sa. Follow Diriyah Season’s news and announcements on the official social media pages on twitter and Instagram @diriyahseason.
Caleb Plant to Host Turkey Drive in his Hometown
This Wednesday, November 27, 2019, IBF super middleweight champion, Caleb “Sweethands” Plant (19-0, 11 KOs), will be hosting a turkey drive in his hometown of Ashland City, TN.
The Champ and his wife, FOX SPORTS announcer Jordan Plant, will personally hand out 100 turkeys to those in need. The Turkey Drive will take place on the Ashland City Courthouse Lawn, starting at 9:00 A.M CT.
“This is a chance to give back to those in need during the holiday season,” said Caleb Plant. “I felt it was important to come back home to Ashland City to give back to my community where it all started.”
WHO: CALEB PLANT, IBF Super Middleweight Champion.
JORDAN PLANT, FOX SPORTS Announcer.
WHAT: IBF Champion Caleb “Sweethands” Plant, and his wife, FOX
SPORTS announcer Jordan Plant, to host a Turkey Drive in,
Caleb’s hometown of Ashland City, TN.
WHERE: Ashland City, Courthouse Lawn
100 Public Square, Ashland City, TN 37015
WHEN: Wednesday, November 27, 2019
ESPN Celebrates 13th Annual V Week in Support of the V Foundation for Cancer Research
ESPN’s 13th consecutive V Week for Cancer Research begins on “Giving Tuesday,” Dec.3, and runs through Dec. 14. Throughout the week, ESPN will drive awareness and funds for the V Foundation for Cancer Research across ESPN platforms and all net proceeds will go directly to cancer research and related programs. Last year, V Week helped raise a record $8.3 million, bringing the 12-year total of contributions to more than $30.5 million.
“V Week leverages ESPN platforms and partners to drive awareness of the continued fight against cancer and generates donations to the V Foundation,” said Kevin Martinez, vice president, ESPN Corporate Citizenship. “This year, we celebrate our dear friend and colleague, and the 2014 Jimmy V Perseverance Award winner Stuart Scott, by honoring his courageous spirit to ‘Fight Like Hell.’ We’re honored to once again celebrate V Week and inspire fans to help support the V Foundation to one day eradicate cancer.”
The 2019 V Week will feature several new initiatives to raise funds for the V Foundation:
•Stuart Scott Day: In honor of famed ESPN television personality and 2014 Jimmy V Perseverance Award recipient Stuart Scott, who passed away from cancer in 2015, ESPN is dedicating Monday, Dec. 4, as “Stuart Scott Day.” On that day, ESPN will showcase content, which depicts Scott’s love of life and perseverance through his fight with cancer and his consistent message to “never give up.” A special, limited edition Stuart Scott t-shirt will go on sale starting Dec. 4 and all net proceeds of sales will benefit the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
•UFC “Fight Like Hell” Night: On Saturday, Dec. 7, UFC is dedicating its fight to the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund, which supports groundbreaking minority cancer research. Scott had a strong connection to mixed martial arts and even trained during his treatments. “Fight Like Hell” Night will also feature Stuart Scott-related content all throughout fight night.
•“Ring the Bell to Knock Out Cancer” Night: Also during V Week, Top Rank will raise awareness and funds for the V Foundation by dedicating Saturday, Dec. 14, as “Ring the Bell to Knock Out Cancer” night. Within boxing, “ringing of the bell” symbolizes the end of the fight, and for patients with cancer and their healthcare team, the “ringing of the bell” is a significant moment as well, signaling the end of active treatment and the beginning of a life free of cancer. The “ringing of the bell” will be a symbolic moment during the Top Rank fight, making fans aware of ESPN’s dedication to eradicating cancer. The fight will air on ESPN, Saturday, Dec. 14, at 9 p.m. ET.
•“Don’t Give Up on Me” Anthem: Multi-platinum selling pop artist Andy Grammer is invested in the mission to find cures for cancer, having lost his mother to breast cancer. The lyrics of his song “Don’t Give Up on Me” fit perfectly with the themes of fighting adversity, supporting a loved one, having belief in dark times and ultimately not giving up. Grammer’s song “Don’t Give Up on Me” will air during V Week campaigns, which aligns with the V Foundation theme of fighting adversity and motto of “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up!”®
Additional V Week programming includes:
•Kicks to Beat Cancer (Dec. 2-Dec.12): Professional athletes, celebrities and musicians are putting their “kicks” to good use by reaching into their extensive shoe collections and donating a signed pair to be auctioned off in support of the V Foundation. Celebrities and sports stars past and present have donated their shoes, including NBA legend Magic Johnson, Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, former NFL player Victor Cruz, Kansas City Chief athletes Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, fashion icon Anna Wintour, celebrity Kim Kardashian West, college basketball coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams, USA national soccer team athletes Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan, and many more. Fans can bid on the shoes at www.ebay.com/espn.
•Jim Valvano’s ESPYS Speech Roadblock: Just once a year, nearly all of ESPN platforms pause regularly scheduled programming and run a “roadblock” in support of the V Foundation. On Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m., the 15-minute roadblock will begin with a highlight by ESPN television personalities discussing Stuart Scott’s impact on the industry, his presence at ESPN and his fight with cancer. The roadblock also will highlight former N.C. State coach-turned ESPN commentator Jim Valvano’s legendary 1993 “Don’t Give Up” ESPYS speech. It will be offered simultaneously on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes, ACC Network, SEC Network, Longhorn Network, ESPN Radio, the ESPN App and ESPN.com. The roadblock will be streaming live on all networks listed and fans can access it on demand via ESPN3 replay. A captioned version also will be available on the ABC SuperSign in Times Square, HearstLive, the New York City Disney Store and within Disney Resorts. In addition, speeches from all Jimmy V Perseverance Award winners (Robin Roberts, Craig Sager and Jim Kelly) will air during V Week. Across all ESPN networks, the Bottomline scroll will encourage viewers to join ESPN and the V Foundation to achieve Victory Over Cancer®” by visiting v.org/donate.
The Jimmy V Men’s and Women’s Basketball Classics Presented by Corona will begin with the Women’s Classic on Sunday, Dec. 8, followed by the Men’s Classic on Tuesday, Dec. 10, all airing live on ESPN.
•Women’s Classic: No. 15 Notre Dame vs. No. 4 UConn at 4 p.m. (Gampel Pavilion on UConn’s campus)
•Men’s Classic: No. 12 Texas Tech vs. No. 2 Louisville at 7 p.m., and Indiana vs. UConn at 9 p.m. (Madison Square Garden); College GameDay will also be on-site, with host Rece Davis and analysts Jay Bilas, LaPhonso Ellis and Seth Greenberg providing news and analysis in between games.
Devin Haney Visits Skid Row to Give Back to Those Less Fortunate
Earlier this week, WBC Lightweight Champion, Devin “The Dream” Haney (24-0, 15 KOs), spent his 21st birthday giving back to those less fortunate. The young boxing phenom spent time with the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles. His plan was to feed as many people as he possibly could, serving one of his favorite dishes, garlic crab and shrimp with macaroni cheese, yams, and dessert.
When the food ran out, he gave everyone a little cash to brighten up their day. Devin loves to see people smiling and happy. He had an amazing birthday celebration on Sunday, and the very next day, he woke up and went out in the world to share.
“I really wanted to give back after my last fight, and that’s just what I did,” said Devin Haney. “I took my whole team out to skid row right after celebrating my 21st birthday. When I ran out of food, I passed out cash to those that didn’t get a plate. It was great seeing all the smiles on their faces. I’m grateful for the blessing that God has giving me I just want to bless others as well.”
Herring Gets Past Roach In Fresno
By: Sean Crose
Fresno, California hosted Top Rank’s ESPN+ card on Saturday night. First up was a battle of heavyweight contenders. Kubrat Pulev, 27-1, stepped into the ring for a scheduled 10 rounder against the 26-2 Rydell Booker. Although the ESPN broadcast team pointed out Booker’s lack of conditioning, the veteran fighter had himself a solid first round. Pulev controlled the ring in the second. The European fighter began coming in strong behind his jab in the third.
Pulev continued to jab his way along through the fourth. Booker was looking completely ineffective. “He’s ready to quit,” Pulev’s trainer said in between rounds. “But you’ve got to make him quit.” The fight was so one sided that by the fifth round, it was worth wondering why Pulev wasn’t finishing things early. Booker ended up coming alive a bit in the sixth. By the seventh, however, it was back to business as usual. The eighth round essentially saw more of the same. Pulev continued to work away in the ninth, while Booker did little at all. For some reason, though Pulev couldn’t stop his man. Perhaps it was because he continually fought in straight punching, European style. Still, it was enough to wing Pulev the tenth, as well as the entire fight. He walked out of the ring with a UD win.
It was time for the main event. The 20-2 Jamel Herring stepped between the ropes – after a brilliant military entrance – to defend his WBO title against the 19-0-1 Lamont Roach. Former Marine Herring worked the body well with crisp punching in the first. Herring slipped early in the second, but got up and continued to stalk his prey. Herring’s fast, effective punching told the story in the third. Roach started to land in the fourth round, but Herring controlled the fifth.
The sixth round was competitive. Although it appeared that Herring was winning, Roache was definitely in the fight. The seventh saw Herring be able to nullify and avoid Roach’s forward attack. The bout was proving to be a story of speed and accuracy edging solid determination. Things remained close in the eighth. Roache went down in the ninth, though it was ruled a slip. Both men fought well through the tenth round. Herring was able to find his range better in the eleventh…until Roache found and hurt his man at round’s end. The final round saw Roach coming after his man. Herring survived, but the round belonged to Roach.
The judges ruled it for Herring via unanimous decision.
Stevenson Defeats Gonzalez To Win WBO Title
By: Sean Crose
The Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada hosted a night of Top Rank Boxing on Saturday, featuring a card that was aired live on ESPN +. The main event was the battle for the WBO featherweight title between the 12-0 Shakur Stevenson and the 23-0 Joet Gonzalez. Before the main event, however, two other fights were presented for the live ESPN + audience. First, the 21-1-1 Joshua Greer Jr faced off against Cleveland’s 19-2-2 Antonio Nieves. The scheduled 10 rounder was for a couple of minor titles (the World Boxing Council Continental Americas Bantam Title, and the World Boxing Organization NABO Bantam title).
The first round was a tight affair, with neither man allowing himself to truly unload on his opponent. The second round didn’t showcase an inordinate amount of action, either. Things began to pick up in the third, as both fighters began to find their sea legs. Nieves landed a terrific left at the beginning of the fourth, but was unable to capitalize on it. In the fifth, it appeared as if Greer was searching for a big shot that he had yet to land. Still, the fight remained close. Nieves landed well and got aggressive at the end of the sixth.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
Greer came out blasting in the seventh, though Nieves was able to survive and engage throughout the rest of the round. Greer landed well in the eighth, before dropping Nieves with a low blow. Yet Nieves ended up closing the round by landing well himself. Greer began to dominate in the ninth of what had slowly become an entertaining match. Greer went down in the tenth, and the two fighters had to be separated at the final bell. Greer was still able to walk away with the UD win.
The next fight saw the 11-0 former Olympian Mikaela Mayer facing the 7-3-0 Alejadra Soledad Zamora for the NABF Female Super Featherweight title. The match was a scheduled 10 round affair. Mayer dropped her opponent in the first. To her credit, Zamora got back to her feet and exchanged throughout the round. Still, the first belonged to Mayer. The second round was exciting, as well, with both women trading shots. Mayer was controlling the fight, but Zamora was brave and game. The bout remained aggressive throughout the third.
The fourth saw Mayer start to beat up her opponent. The skill deficit had started to become obvious. Mayer continued to beat up Zamora in the fifth. The bout was about at the point where it no longer was necessary to continue the proceedings. The sixth showcased more of the same from the previous few rounds. In between rounds, Zamora’s father/trainer wisely and kindly stopped the bout.
It was time for the main event. The first round was basically a feeling out process, though Stevenson was able to jab a bit and throw some straight rights to the body. The second round saw Stevenson continue to do the same while Gonzalez feinted a lot, but didn’t do much else. The third and fourth rounds were identical – with Gonzalez missing his target and Stevenson landing point friendly, Olympic style punches. After five it was clear Gonzalez would have to unleash his inner Marcos Maidana if he hoped to have any chance of winning. Gonzalez had a stronger round in the sixth than he probably had in the previous five rounds, but his skill level was nowhere near that of his foes.
A mauling Gonzalez and a strangely inactive Stevenson told the story of the seventh. Stevenson regained control in the eighth. An aggressive Gonzalez stalked Stevenson in the ninth. Stevenson was no longer as dominant as he had been earlier in the fight – but he was still winning. Still, the rising star’s lack of activity seemed to cost him the tenth. Stevenson regained control in the eleventh, then went on to dominate the twelfth. Needless to say, Stevenson won a wide decision victory, along with a world title.
UFC on ESPN 6: Reyes Stops Weidman
By: Jesse Donathan
The surging light heavyweight prospect Dominick “The Devastator” Reyes (12-0, 7 KOs) knocked out former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman (14-5, 6 KOs) in the first round of their UFC on ESPN 6 main event fight in Boston, Massachusetts Friday night on ESPN 2 and in the process cemented himself as among the top light heavyweight contenders in the division.
The tale of the tape for Friday night’s main event had the 29-year old Reyes listed at 6-foot-4-inches tall, 203.5 pounds with a 77-inch reach. Conversely, his 35-year old opponent Weidman came into the fight listed at 6-foot-2, 204-pounds with a 78-inch reach; the “two-inch” height advantage for Reyes was readily apparent when the two fighters met in the center of the Octagon with referee Herb Dean to receive their final instructions.
Touching gloves as the combatants got to work, Reyes immediately opened up with a leg kick that found its mark early on, another kick from Reyes missed and Weidman immediately shot in under a Reyes punch, pressing the undefeated prospect against the cage and eventually securing the body lock takedown. Reyes would rather comfortably make his way back to his feet, the cage no doubt aiding in his ability to fight off the continued pressure from a Chris Weidman who was all over “The Devastator” like white on rice, looking to take the fight back down to the mat. After some body shots from Weidman, one of which forced Reyes to look at the referee momentarily, perhaps protesting its curiously low nature, the two would separate.
After some brief pawing at one another, Weidman went on the offensive and walked right into a Reyes counter left hook that sent the former middleweight champion crashing down to the canvas in serious trouble. Patiently, with Weidman badly hurt on his back, Reyes would control Weidman’s left leg as he repeatedly hammer fisted the stunned Weidman who was unable to intelligently defend himself, forcing referee Herb Dean call a halt to the contest at just 1-minute, 43-seconds into the first round, securing perhaps the biggest win of Reyes career to date.
During the post-fight interview, the well-spoken Reyes was all class in showing respect for his opponent Chris Weidman and specifically called out light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones, putting the champion on notice that he fully intends to come for his 205-pound championship title belt.
In breaking with the relatively recent protocol in avoiding interviewing fighters immediately after a TKO or KO loss, an obviously disappointed Weidman was interviewed by UFC reporter Jon Anik and was able to effectively articulate to the Boston crowd his appreciation for their support in coming out to see him fight and declared “God is good” before leaving the cage to head to the locker room, the former middleweight champion all class in defeat.
UFC on ESPN 6: Reyes vs. Weidman
By: Jesse Donathan
UFC on ESPN 6 is scheduled to take place Friday, October 19, 2019 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts live on ESPN 2 starting at 9:00 PM EST with a main event showcase between Dominick “The Devastator” Reyes (11-0, 6 KOs) and Chris “The All-American” Weidman (14-4, 6 KOs). The evenings co-main event will feature a rematch between Jeremy Stephens (28-16, 19 KOs) and Yair Rodriguez (12-2, 4 KOs), whose first bout ended in a wild no contest last month at UFC Fight Night 159 in Mexico City, Mexico after an accidental Rodriguez eye gouge rendered Stephens unable to continue.
In an October 15, 2019 The Schmo YouTube video titled, “Chris Weidman Feels a Striking Advantage over Dominick Reyes,” the former UFC middleweight champion was interviewed about his upcoming fight against the undefeated light heavyweight prospect Reyes. According to Weidman, when asked about how his body feels coming into his inaugural light heavyweight debut, “I honestly feel healthier than I’ve ever felt, not killing myself making weight anymore, that’s the reason that I moved up, to just keep my body healthy and not deplete myself,” said Weidman.
Photo Credit: UFC Twitter Account
The Schmo, who is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stagnant mixed martial arts media pool would go on to ask Weidman how the weight cutting was coming along for Friday night’s fight. According to the New York native, “There’s pretty much no weight cut at all, It’s been a joke compared to everything I’ve been used to throughout my whole career, so I’m just kind of like chilling, just kind of enjoying fight week, my little vacation, then I get to go in there and make a statement on Friday night,” the Serra-Longo Fight Team representative said.
“You’re fighting a guy who also wants to make a statement, he’s undefeated, he thinks he’s got a striking advantage against you, a lot of people are criticizing your chin man, what do you make of that,” The Schmo asked Weidman.
“I think if it was a striking match, I have the advantage to be honest. But unlucky for him, I also bring wrestling and Jiu-jitsu to the table to a level he’s never seen, he’s never even gone against a wrestler before and striking changes a lot when you have to worry about the takedown, and he’s going to have to worry about it, because the fact is, if I get on top, he hasn’t dealt with anything like that before, and it’s going to be … that’s a problem,“ Weidman said.
Speaking with Reyes in his October 15, 2019 YouTube video titled, “Dominick Reyes Comes Dressed To SCHMO,” The Schmo asked Reyes how he planned to get the win Friday night knowing Weidman wants to wrestle him. According to Reyes, “It’s simple man, stop the takedown, don’t let him try to wrestle me and knock him out man, put these hands on him, make him pay.”
“You moved back to California, working with “Hendo” Dan Henderson man with the wrestling, what have you been doing with him this fight camp,” The Schmo asked Reyes. “I’ve been wrestling with the man, man and he’s … catching a couple H-Bombs, so I know I got a chin on me, that’s for sure,” Reyes said of training with the legendary UFC and PRIDE champion.
Whether or not Weidman’s championship caliber skills translate over into the light heavyweight division is the big question coming into Friday night’s fight against a dangerous up and coming talent like Reyes, who is no walk in the park for a division where Weidman’s former middleweight nemesis Luke Rockhold was knocked out cold against Jan Blachowicz earlier this year at UFC 239 in July in his own light heavyweight debut. A matchup with UFC light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones is potentially on the line for either fighter, upping the bounty for whoever emerges victorious Friday night. It’s going to be a fight you do not want to miss starting at 9:00 PM EST live on ESPN 2 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, tune in to catch all the action.
Kovalev Stops Yarde in the 11th in Russia
By: William Holmes
Sergey Kovalev (33-3-1) defended his WBO Light Heavyweight Title against Anthony Yarde (18-0) in his hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia on ESPN+.
Top Rank Promotions has teamed up with Main Event Promotions to televise this card on ESPN+. The undercard featured a thrilling majority decision win by Illunga Makabu over the very game Aleksei Papin.
Fight fans were expecting a knockout in this fight, as a young challenger that had stopped every opponent but one and was facing a champion already known for his devastating power. This event was sold out with an announced attendance of 7,500.
Yarde entered the ring first to a muted pop, while Kovalev entered second and was warmly greeted by the crowd. Kovalev had Buddy McGirt in his corner.
The openin round was a little slow, but both boxers appeared to be in good shape and were gauging their distance with jabs and check left hooks. Yarde had some success with his counter left hooks, but neither had any notable offense.
Kovalev began to land his jabs at a higher rate in the second and third rounds, but didn’t have Yarde hurt at any point. Kovalev had a strong fourth round and was landing some power punches and began to wake up the crowd.
Kovalev’s jabs were snapping the head of Yarde in the fifth round, and had outlanded him 42 to 14 jabs by this point. Kovalev continued to walk down Yarde in the sixth round, who at one point spit out his mouthpiece as he was visibly tiring.
Yarde was able to land a few good shots in the sixth and seventh rounds, but he opened himself up to Kovalev’s more accurate counter punches whenever he opened up and took a risk. Yarde’s body work did appear to hurt Kovalev in the seventh round.
Yarde pressed forward in the eighth round and was landing to the body and head of Kovalev. Kovalev was warned by the referee to stop pushing with his elbow, and both boxers landed good punches during some fierce exchanges. However, Yarde appeared to be comfortable with handling the power of Kovalev and had him hurt bad with a hard right hand. Kovalev was back peddling for the remainder of the round and struggled to stay up, but was able to survive the round.
Kovalev was badly hurt in the eighth, but came back strong in the ninth round with accurate combinations in the middle of the ring that swung momentum back in his favor.
Kovalev pummeled Yarde from ring post to ring post in the tenth round and had Yarde covering up most of the time. Yarde likely needed a stoppage in the final two rounds to win the fight, and he went after Kovalev to try to get that win. But a vicious straight left jab from Kovalev sent Yarde crashing to the mat and unable to get up to his feet.
Sergey Kovalev wins by TKO at 2:04 of the eleventh round.
UFC 241 on ESPN+ PPV: Cormier vs. Miocic 2
By: Jesse Donathan
UFC 241 is set to take place on Saturday, August 17, 2019 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California and will be available for purchase on ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV). On paper, this event is going to be one of the best fight cards of the year, featuring a rematch in the main event between UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and former reigning UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. The co-main event will feature the return of Conor McGregor nemesis Nate Diaz vs. former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis in a welterweight showcase. The card will also include the long-awaited clash between middleweight titan Yoel Romero and the bruising Paulo Costa in what should prove to be a pivotal middleweight showdown.
The real question on everyone’s mind coming into UFC 241 is how Stipe Miocic is going to rebound coming off a loss by knockout to the man who took his title just over a year ago at UFC 226 in Daniel Cormier. Miocic had captured the belt against former UFC champion Fabricio Werdum, defending the title a record three consecutive times before losing to Cormier in mid-2018. Since that time, Miocic has begrudgingly sat out from competition awaiting a rematch while Cormier successfully defended the title at UFC 230 against challenger Derrick Lewis.
UFC 241 Stipe vs. Cormier 2 has been such an anticipated UFC event that fans on social media virtually overlooked last week’s UFC Fight Night 156 Shevchenko vs. Carmouche 2 card, with the mixed martial arts Twitter communities’ timelines spammed with UFC 241 promotional material well ahead of the Shevchenko vs. Carmouche 2 showdown. A curious phenomenon to consider from a community who by in large prides itself on being the antithesis to the dreaded “casual fan” stigma so often tossed around by today’s new generation of fans.
Which begs the question, exactly who is behind some of these social media accounts and just how devoted to the sport are they, really? One would think their free promotional work, based at the grassroots level of mixed martial arts fandom would be devoting their promo efforts to Valentina Shevchenko and Liz Carmouche instead of overlooking these accomplished warriors completely in light of next weekend’s event. Casuals … aren’t we all, though?
At UFC 241 in July of 2018, Stipe Miocic stood 6-foot-4 and weighed in at 242.5 pounds in his first match against Cormier that ended in disaster for Miocic and put Cormier firmly in the driver’s seat as one of the greatest fighters in mixed martial arts history.
The then challenger, Daniel Cormier came in at 5-foot-11 and weighed 246 pounds as the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion. When the bell sounded for round one, the two fighters casually met in the center of the Octagon, their gloves touching in one final show of respect before the champions got to work. The two would begin circling each other in the cage, the feeling out process underway as Miocic slowly began to cut off the cage by walking Cormier down.
Nearly from the start, Cormier looked to work the over hook in the clinch, a dangerous technique UFC legend Randy Couture used to great effect throughout his storied mixed martial arts career. The fight would soon make its way to the fence, with Miocic surprisingly trapping the former two-time Olympic wrestler against the cage in a show of strength and dominance not generally seen from opponents in a Daniel Cormier fight.
Its around this time Cormier noticeably switched to using an open gloved approach after fighting his way out of the clinch with Stipe. When a fighter’s fingers become extended, as opposed to closed in a clinched fist, the risk of accidentally or otherwise eye-gouging an opponent increases exponentially; a technique that has long since been prohibited in mixed martial arts competition though justifiably receiving renewed scrutiny in recent years.
The fighters would make their way to middle of the cage with Stipe noticeably getting the better of the striking exchanges early on. With some spunk still left in him, Cormier began to fire back on Miocic before his opened gloved approach brought a halt to the action from referee Marc Goddard. An instant replay would show Cormier lunging at Stipe with an open-handed strike resulting in his fingers raking into Miocic’s eye. This was a turning point in the fight where everything began to go wrong for the now former reigning UFC heavyweight champion.
Mentally, Stipe appeared to be out of the fight, his rhythm broken. Cormier would immediately begin to turn the fight around, looking quite a bit better in the standup department after the referee break in the action. Clinching up with Miocic, Cormier would expertly switch from an over hook used to control Stipe’s head and posture to an under hook, freezing Miocic and preventing him from escape as Cormier bombed Stipe with a right hand into unconsciousness. Referee Marc Goddard rushed in to save Miocic from any further damage as Daniel Cormier became both the UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champions of the world, cementing his place among the sports all-time greats in the process.
With Miocic well in control of the Cormier fight until he wasn’t, baring a quick finish from the AKA representative early on in the rematch things will likely begin to unfold in a similar fashion this time around as well too. While anything can and does happen in mixed martial arts, if the first fight is any indication of how the second fight will play out we can expect Miocic to get the better of Cormier from early on, the only question being how much dog is left in the 40-year old UFC HW champion to game plan his way to victory once again. Cormier is an intelligent fighter, not one simply prone to operate on instinct and overdrive, there is a method to his madness. An outstanding wrestler with a will to win, Cormier may once again reach deep into his offensive playbook and put the mixed back into mixed martial arts.
Sosa and Gonzales Win in Philadelphia
By: Ken Hissner
On Saturday night the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia was the host site for a Top Rank Boxing, Raging Babe Events, and Peltz Boxing Promotions show on ESPN+. The card featured former super featherweight champion Jason Sosa back in Philadlephia for the first time since 2015. He moved up to the main event due to an injury suffered by 2-time world champion Carl “The Jackal” Frampton earlier in the week.
In the main event former WBA Super Featherweight champion Jason “El Canito” Sosa, 23-3-4 (16), 129, of Camden, NJ, stopped Lydell “Hackman” Rhodes, 27-4-1 (13), 130.9, of Las Vegas, NV, at 1:08 of the seventh round.
In the first round Sosa used all his know how as Rhodes did a lot of clinching. Sosa may have hurt Rhodes early making him run and grab. In the second round Sosa continued having his way while Rhodes gave top referee Benjy Esteves, Jr. plenty of work holding.
In the third round it was a big one for Sosa getting in numerous body shots mostly. In the final ten seconds the fans were yelling “Sosa, Sosa!” In the fourth round between getting held Sosa got in more than enough to take the round hurting Rhodes as the ten second left in the round signal went off with Sosa getting in a body shot. Half a minute later a chopping right from Sosa on the head of Rhodes and down he went for a second time. He beat the count of referee Esteves barely.
In the fifth round a vicious left on by Sosa on the chin of Rhodes and down he went barely beating the count of referee Esteves, Jr. In the sixth round Sosa suffered a cut from an accidental clash of heads by his left eye. He controlled the round with a vicious body attack.
In the seventh round referee Esteves, Jr. wisely stopped the beating Sosa was putting on an unwilling Rhodes when the latter’s corner signaled the end.
Featherweight 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist Cuban southpaw Robeisy “La Tren” Ramirez, 0-1 (0), 125, of Gulphport, FL, suffered a major upset losing in his debut to an outstanding performance by Adan Gonzales, 5-2-2 (2), 125.3, of Denver, CO, by split decision in 4 with a first round knockdown a big reason.
In the first round a chopping left hand on the chin from Gonzales dropped Ramirez for 8-count. of referee Gary Rosato. Ramirez came back well the remainder of the round. In the second round both boxers had their moments.
Gonzales has surprised the Olympic star showing him no respect and landing the lead right. Gonzales left uppercut has been his best punch so far.
In the third round it was back and forth with each boxer getting their licks in. Ramirez may have pulled it out. In the fourth and final round both had their moments with Ramirez twice rocking Gonzales who otherwise seemed to have an edge but Ramirez may have won the round but seemed to need a knockout.
Scores were David Braswell 38-37 Ramirez, Alan Rubenstein 39-36 Gonzales and Rose Lucenda 40-35 Gonzales. This writer had it 38-37 Gonzales. Gary Rosato was ref. “I won it and give Jesus Christ all the glory,” said Gonzales. In the winners corner was Donald and Juaquin Camarena and Steve Mestas.
Middleweight Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga, 12-0 (12), of Brooklyn, NY, 162.3, continued his first round stoppages at 2:24 of the first round over Gregory “Nounou” Trenel, 11-5-2 (3), 162.2, of Dainville, France, in a scheduled 8.
In the first round a right from Berlanga dropped a game Trenel. Upon rising from an 8-count by referee Benjy Esteves, Jr. Trenel was suffering too much punishment when the referee wisely halting the bout for Berlanga’s 12th straight first round ko.
Welterweight Olympian Paul “The Punisher” Kroll, 5-0 (4), 147.9, of Philadelphia, PA, defeated Shinard Bunch, 2-1 (2), 146.6, of Trenton, NJ, over 6 rounds.
In the first round of a very competitive round Kroll had an edge. In the second round Kroll fought southpaw as Bunch ran and grabbed with Kroll easily winning the round. In the third round Bunch landed a right to the chin of Kroll making him go back to orthodox. Kroll went on to control the round.
In the fourth round a Kroll 3-punch combination rocking Bunch against the ropes highlighted the round. In the fifth round Bunch did more holding getting in a couple shots to the chin of Kroll who had much too much ammo for Bunch who spent more time bending over. In the sixth and final round Kroll landed a 4-punch combination. Bunch in only his third fight should have never jumped into a 6 especially with a seasoned former amateur star like Kroll.
Scores 58-56 by Weisfeld and Braswell while Rubenstein had it 59-55 as did this writer.
Heavyweight prospect Sonny “The Bronco” Conto, 4-0 (3), 214.5, of South Philadelphia, PA, easily defeated Guillermo Del Rio, 2-3-1 (2), 225.5, of So. Houston, TX, over 4 rounds scoring a knockdown.
In the first round it was all the taller Conto teeing off on Del Rio with shots to the body and head hurting him once with a body shot. In the second and third rounds it was more of the same with Conto dominating a game Del Rio with vicious body work. In the fourth and final round Conto dropped Del Rio with a vicious left hook to the body for an 8-count from referee Esteves, Jr. Del Rio managed to be the first of young Conto’s 4 opponents to last the distance. “It was good for him to get some rounds in,” said Frank Conto.
All four judges and this writer had it 40-35. In the winner’s corner were trainer Mickey Rosati, cut-man Joey Eye and assistant Frank Conto. He’s signed with one of Boxing’s top managers David McWater who was at ringside.
Featherweight southpaw Donald “No Love” Smith, 10-0 (6), 126.5, of S.W. Philadelphia, PA, easily defeated Raheem “Bazooka” Abdullah, 3-3 (0), 124.6, of Colorado Springs CO, over 6 rounds.
In the first round within seconds a lead left from Smith on the chin and down went Abdullah for an 8-count from referee Rosato. The much shorter Abdullah managed to get through the round by covering up but not backing off Smith.
In the second round a lead left from Smith on the chin of Abdullah drove him into the ropes. Midway in the round Abdullah landed a lead overhand right on the chin of Smith. Smith ended the round with a combination to body and head of Abdullah.
In the third round a wild right on the chin from Abdullah made Smiths legs almost give in while in a corner. The rest of the round was interesting between the two with Abdullah pressing forward. In the fourth round midway with Smith doing as much coming forward so far a lead left to the body and following with a right hook to the chin was the most action of the round.
In the fifth round a low punch from Abdullah gave Smith a five minute rest. Referee Rosato deducted a point from Abdullah. When action resumed Smith was throwing more punches than previously in the fight. In the sixth and final round Abdullah ran around the ring content in going the distance with Smith landing some body shots.
Scores were 59-53 by LaRosa and Weisfeld while Rubenstein had it 60-52 as did this writer. Lamar Smith worked corner of Smith.
Super Bantamweight southpaw Jeremy “Majic Hands” Adorno, 2-0 (1), 121.9, of Allentown, PA, stopped Fernando Robles, 2-2 (0), 121, of Pearland, TX, at 2:01 of the third in a 4 rounder.
In the first round it was all Adorno moving around the ring like a veteran boxer controlling with his jab and lead left to the mid-section of Robles who may not have landed a punch.
In the second round Adorno landed a double left to the chin of Robles a minute into the round. Adorno was landing on the chin with both hands. In the final ten seconds Robles landed several body shots.
In the third round after half a minute Adrono went inside and got hit in the eye making him blink repeatably. He then shook it off and continued his attack once he stopped moving. His speed of foot and hanld are to quick for Robles. Adorno was warned by referee Esteves, Jr. about using a straight arm. Before you knew it a wicked right hook ro the body of Robles for the full count. Can’t say Robles didn’t make an effort but Adorno is following in his brother Joseph’s footsteps at this point. It was quite a performancee by the young Adorno. His father-trainer Anibal was in the corner.
Ring Announcer in the preliminaries was Lupe Contreras. Jimmy Lennon did the ESPN+ final 3 fights. Timekeeper Fred Blumsteien.
Top Rank IBHOF team of Lee Samuels and Bruce Trampler were working the show in attendance.
Stevenson Easily Dispatches Guevara, Greer Skates by Potapov
By: William Holmes
The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey was the host site for tonight’s Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Card.
The undercard was streamed on ESPN+ and the telecast started off with a an IBF Bantam Weight Eliminator between Joshua Greer Jr. (20-1-1) and Nikolai Potapov (20-1-1).
This fight started off slower, with both boxers feeling each other and Potapov using his height to his advantage with sharply timed counters. Greer appeared to have trouble getting to his offense in the second round, and was slightly outlanded by Potapov by the third round.
Greer kept his feet moving in the fourth round and looked like he was gaining confidence and throwing more punches. Greer kept up the high pace in the fifth round and had outlanded Potapov 51-36 punches by this round. Greer was able to land several clear shots to the body.
Potapov was able to land a few good punches in the sixth round, but Greer was still picking off most of Potapov’s punches. Potapov was the aggressor in the seventh round and landed several good straight right hands in the center of the ring.
Potapov looked like he wasn’t deterred by Greer’s alleged power in the eight round and was landing good counters and punches in bunches. The ninth round was close, but Greer was the fighter that was pressing forward.
By the tenth round the fight was still up for grabs, and Greer appeared to hurt Potapov with body shots in this round.
Greer’s corner stressed the importance of winning the final two rounds in order to win the fight, and he appeared to listen to his corner and pressed the action while looking for the knockout.
His late fight surge appeared to have been just enough. The judges scored it 114-114, 116-112, and 115-113 for Joshua Greer Jr.
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Boxing
The main event of the night was between Shakur Stevenson (11-0) and Alberto Guevara (27-4) for the NABO Featherweight Title.
Guevara has had great success in Mexico, but little to none outside of it.
Guevara took the fight on short notice and didn’t look like he was in the best of shape. Stevenson opened up the first with a good lead right hook and was pressuring Guevara from corner to corner. Guevara looked scared to exchange with Guevara and spent most of the opening round on his bike.
Guevara was chased again by Stevenson in the second round and took several had punches to the body. One body led to a knockdown, but Guevara was able to get back to his feet. He was pursued by Stevenson again until Stevenson landed a right to the chin of Guevara and sent him down for a second time in the second round.
Stevenson continued to hunt down Guevara in the third round, but landed a left hand below the belt on Guevara and the referee gave Guevara time to recuperate. The fight restarted and Stevenson immediately went on the attack and had Guevara off balance. Stevenson sends Guevara down for the third time in the fight with a combination to the head.
Guevara meekly attempted to get up at the count of nine, but he was badly out matched, and the referee waived off the fight.
Shakur Stevenson wins by KO at 2:37 of the third round.
Fight Preview: Moloney Twins vs. Tanzanian Late Call-Ups
By: Ste Rowen
In the early hours of Saturday for most, but prime time in Australia, Moloney twins Jason and Andrew each take on opponent’s that they hope will lift them into world title contention in the bantamweight and super-flyweight divisions respectively.
At Seagulls Rugby League Club in New South Wales, bantamweight, Jason, 18-1 (15KOs) has already, once before had his chance for a championship belt when he entered the World Boxing Super Series but was beaten at the first hurdle by then IBF titlist, Emmanuel Rodriguez. It’s been almost eight months since that split decision loss in Orlando but Moloney remains confident not only that he defeated Rodriguez but that he has the tools to take on the biggest and the best at 118lb,
‘‘I feel I beat Rodriguez but that is in the past. I want world titles this year so for me a fight with the WBA number one (Liborio) Solis for the world title is one that I would love.
There’s talk of Rigondeaux fighting at bantamweight too. If I had to fight him, I would do it happily.’’
In his last outing, Jason ‘The Smooth One’ dismantled Cris Paulino inside five rounds which was set to lead the Australian into a bout with Cesar Ramirez of Mexico, but due to a late pull out Moloney will instead share the ring with 23-4 (13KOs), Goodluck Mrema. The Tanzanian may have a similar record to Jason’s original opponent but, as long as the home fighter continues to impress, he should deal with Saturday’s opponent handily. Goodluck hasn’t had much luck in his run of previous fights; he went three for three in 2018 and two of those defeats were stoppage losses including a 1st round KO defeat to Marlon Tapales.
But, with a second world title shot on the horizon, 28-year-old, Moloney promises fans he’s not taking his new opponent lightly,
‘‘I always prepare correctly no matter the circumstances. It’s what being a professional is all about…You can never overlook any opponent, look what happened to Anthony Joshua last week. I can’t let slip ups like that happen to me.’’
The Australian sits third in both the WBA and WBC rankings so any, as Moloney put it, slip ups at the weekend, and he could kiss goodbye to his world championship hopes any time soon.
Andrew Moloney will be hoping to catch up to his brother’s progress in the pro ranks sooner rather than later as well on Saturday night. Though Andrew remains unbeaten with a record of, 19-0 (12KOs), ‘The Monster’ has yet to challenge for a world championship belt. So far, Moloney’s biggest victory came in his final fight of 2018 when he defeated Luis Concepcion in the 10th and final round.
Since the impressive Concepcion victory nine months ago, like his brother, Andrew has fought just once, an 8th round stoppage of Miguel Gonzalez in a WBA title eliminator at super-flyweight, with the current superfly WBA champion being Great Britain’s, Kal Yafai, a man that ‘The Monster’ has never been afraid to call out,
‘‘As people know, I’m on the verge of becoming mandatory for Kal Yafai and that’s the fight I want. If not him then another world champion. I just want to be a world champion and I believe I will become one in 2019.’’
The parallels with his brother continue as Andrew will be facing a late change of opponent in another Tanzanian, and baby-faced, Selemani Bangaiza, 15-5 (5KOs), but Moloney despite talking of a big future and this possibly being his last fight in Australia, also promises he has his feet on the ground to ensure he puts on a show for his home crowd,
‘‘I intend on putting on an explosive display on Saturday night and show why I believe I’m the best 115-pounder in the world.
It’s a dream to be signed to Top Rank and it reiterates why I have to be on fire this weekend. This could be my last fight in Australia for a long time and if it is, I want to make sure it’s a performance people remember.’’
ESPN Boxing Preview: Ito vs. Herring, Pedraza vs. Lozada
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida will be the host site of Top Rank Promotions latest boxing card to be televised on ESPN. Masayuki Ito will defend his WBO Junior lightweight title against Jamel Herring, a former US Olympic team member.
The co-feature of the night will also be a lightweight bout with possible future title implications. Former champion Jose Pedraza will face Antonio Lozada in the co-main event.
The undercard will feature several prospects such as Adam Lopez, Jean Carlos Rivera, Jeyvier Cintron, Koki Eto, Steve Nelson, and Yomar Alamo.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Jose Pedraza (25-2) vs. Antonio Lozada (40-2-1); Lightweight Division
Jose Pedraza’s two losses came against two of the best fighters in the lightweight division, Vasily Lomachenko by decision and a TKO loss to Gervonta Davis.
Lozada’s two losses came against fighters not as well known as Lomachenko and Davis. He lost to Roberto Ortiz and Ramiro Alcaraz, though he avenged the Alcaraz loss in a rematch.
Pedraza is thirty years old and one year older than Lozada. Pedraza will be giving up two inches in height to Lozada, and will be giving up an edge in power. Pedraza has only stopped twelve of his opponent and his last five wins were by decision. Lozada however has stopped thirty four of his opponents.
Both boxers have been relatively active recently. Pedraza fought four times in 2018 and only once in 2017. Lozada fought three times in 2018 and twice in 2017.
Pedraza has a clear edge in amateur experience as he competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Pedraza has beatedn the likes of Raymundo Beltran, Antonio Moran, Stephen Smith, Edner Cherry, Andrey Klimov, Michael Farenas, and Tevin Farmer.
Lozada’s biggest win to date was an upset TKO victory of the then undefeated Felix Verdejo. He has no other notable wins.
Lozada’s win over Verdejo has given him some notoriety and allowed him to land this fight, but he will be facing a far more experienced and skilled opponent on Saturday. Lozada has the power to pull off an upset victory but on paper it appears unlikely.
But outside of those two boxers Pedraza is one of the best fighters in the lightweight division.
Masayuki Ito (25-1-1) vs. Jamel Herring (19-2); WBO Junior Lightweight Title
Ito is a bit of an unknown in the Unite States, out of 27 fights he has only fought once outside of Japan, and that was when he won the WBO Junior Lightweight Title.
Ito is only 28 years old, five years younger than Herring. However, he will be giving up about an inch and a half in height but will have a half an inch advantage in reach. Both boxers have been fairly active, with both of them fighting three times in 2018 and twice in 2017.
Neither boxer is known for their power. Ito has stopped thirteen of his opponents while Herring has stopped ten of his opponents. However, Ito has stopped four of his past five opponents.
Herring does have an edge in amateur experience, as he competed for the United States in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Ito has defeated the likes of Evgeny Chuprakov, Christopher Diaz, Lorenzo Villanueva, and Takuya Watanabe. His lone loss was to Rikki Naito.
Herring has defeated the likes of John Vincent Moralde, Art Hovhannisyan, and Luis Eduardo Florez. His losses were to Ladarius Miller and Denis Shafikov.
This should be a good fight, but Ito’s technical expertise should overwhelm the two loss Herring.
Saunders Achieves & Underwhelms In Equal Measure
By: Ste Rowen
At the Lamex Stadium on Saturday night, Billy Joe Saunders took the WBO super-middleweight crown at the first time of asking but left a lot to be desired for the fans; whilst Joe ‘The Juggernaut’ Joyce lumbered to an early stoppage victory over aged gatekeeper, Ustinov.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; well that’s the mentally that BJ Saunders seemed to enter the ring with when he faced up against Shefat Isufi on Saturday night. The former WBO 160lb world champion saw his opponent, Shefat, as a steppingstone and used him as such. Right from the first bell, the Brit was cruising as he made Isufi constantly miss multiple combinations and fired back with quick hands but a lack of fight-ending power.
At one-point Saunders taunted Isufi in the same way he played with David Lemieux – making his opponent miss widely and then looking into the distance – but, whereas that night in Quebec Billy Joe was facing a legitimate threat with bout-changing power, tonight it was more like Drogon coming up against the Golden Company but less exciting and much more predictable. The away fighter had no answer, struggling to lay a single shot on his confident foe, who continued to call him forward to try and land cleanly.
There was a shaky moment for Saunders in the 6th, when Isufi landed hard with two right hooks that left Billy shakily stepping backwards onto the ropes, but he was savvy enough to move in for the clinch and avoid taking any more significant blows. But it was the only bright spark in a rough night for Shefat. Both men made it to the final bell and the judges scorecards returned as; 120-108, 118-110, 117-111, all in favour of Billy Joe Saunders.
Now a two-weight world champion, Saunders, 28-0 (13KOs) spoke post-fight,
‘‘He caught me in the 6th but he didn’t have me where my legs were gone. I haven’t been in a meaningful fight for 14 months. He’s number one with the WBO for a reason so he’s obviously good.
My ability will always get me further in the sport…I want the big fights, the big names, the big domestic fights and unifications. I moved up from middleweight cos none of them wanted to fight me.’’
It remains to be seen who Billy’s next opponent will be, but with names such as Chris Eubank Jr and Callum Smith, amongst others, fighting at 168lb, Saunders and promoter, Frank Warren will be hard pressed to find an easy matchup they can pass off on the fans if they try.
The co-main event at the Lamex stadium on Saturday night saw Joe Joyce continue his rise towards contending for the top brass of the glamour division, with a 3rd round stoppage of Alexander ‘The Great’ Ustinov. The ‘Juggernaut’ attempted to jump on his opponent immediately; striking from the first bell and forcing Ustinov to either fight fire with fire or look to make it awkward; and credit to the Russian he tried his best to fight back with his own hooks but struggled to get in close to the younger man.
Joyce has a tendency to feint in the slowest possible way and yet still make his opponent take a step back and flinch. So though the speed of the Olympic silver medallist might not be close to someone such as Tyson Fury, the power is clearly a big worry for his rivals. At the start of round 3, Joyce really went in for the finisher, forcing Ustinov to retreat in any and every gap in the ring he could find. Joe through his punches in bunches but began to struggle to land cleanly, even taking a big right hand from his opponent which only briefly halted the ‘Juggernaut’s’ offense. Then, with 1:12 left on the clock, Joyce landed a thudding left hook, dropping Alexander to the canvas, and signalling the end of the bout as Ustinov made a feeble attempt to beat the count.
It wasn’t slick, and it won’t live long in the memory, but it does improve Joyce to 9-0 (9KOs) and the heavyweight prospect spoke to BBC Sport post-fight,
‘‘I just thought I’d start fast and see what would come back…He’s a seasoned veteran and every round was different…I came in warm and ready and it’s great to put in a performance here in Stevenage.
I’d like a world title by the end of the year and set myself up for some really big fights in 2020.’’
ESPN+ Boxing Preview: Saunders Looking to Become Two-Weight Champion
By: Ste Rowen
It’s been a long time, if ever, that someone has recognised Saunders as the #1 in his division, but on Saturday night the slick southpaw has the opportunity to present himself to a new weight class when he steps into the ring with Shefat Isufi for the vacant WBO super-middleweight title.
‘‘I had a terrible 2018, my title was robbed off me.’’ Saunders, 27-0 (13KOs) told the media on Thursday, ‘‘I jumped at this fight when it was offered, and I will become a two-weight world champion.’’
The former world champion was stripped of his WBO middleweight belt last year just weeks before his showdown with Demetrius Andrade when the Brit failed a drugs test for the banned stimulant oxilofrine. It was a moment that set fire to any of the momentum Saunders had carried through from his 2017 dismantling of David Lemieux. Instead of Andrade in October, Billy Joe fought and beat Charles Adamu in December; a bout in which he weighed in at 178lb.
But training again with Ben Davison and sharing the gym with Tyson Fury, Sanders believes he’s back to his best and ready for more than just becoming a two-weight world champion,
‘‘I’ve been training with Ben and it’s been good, enjoyable and great bouncing around with Tyson. I’m enjoying boxing again.
If I do bring it, I should box his head off. Whatever he brings I will fetch ten-fold more…I’m not looking past Isufi, but I am looking for the big names. I know I’ve got it inside me, and nobody’s seen my best…I have to be on my A game and send a message to the other super middleweights.’’
Isufi, 27-3-2 (20KOs), shouldn’t, in theory, set too big of a challenge for the former middleweight champion. Sitting at number one of the WBO’s 168lb rankings, the Serbian-born German has a basic style that, if he doesn’t jump on Billy Joe early, will mean he’ll paying for it as the fight draws on.
Shefat, the former WBO ‘Inter-Continental’ holder also spoke ahead of Saturday,
‘‘If Billy Joe did win, I will congratulate him, but it will be the other way around. He is quick and a hard puncher, but I can also punch, and one punch can make the difference.’’
However, if Saunders is anywhere close to the fighter that defeated Lemieux, or Andy Lee, the UK could be crowning its newest world champion by Saturday night.
Co-main for Saturday’s night world title bout at the Lamex Stadium in Hertfordshire, is ‘The Juggernaut’ Joe Joyce as he attempts to topple Alexander Ustinov as Joyce continues his climb to the summit of the heavyweights.
Joyce, 8-0 (8KOs) was last seen in the ring making swift, brutal work of Bermane Stiverne’s head and body when, in February, the former WBC world champion was broken down by the thudding puncher in six rounds. The Commonwealth champion is keen to continue his knockout streak but is fully aware of the experience his opponent holds,
‘‘Ustinov is a very experienced, big, strong, tough and this is a step up. I have to beat him to get to the next level.’’
Alexander ‘The Great’ Ustinov at 42-years-old is undoubtedly coming to the end of his career and goes into Saturday’s matchup on the back of two defeats. In November 2017, the Russian, 34-3 (25KOs) was dropped en route to a 12-round decision loss to Manuel Charr, then one year later he was stopped by rising heavyweight star, Michael Hunter in nine rounds. The ‘Juggernaut’ however is looking at Ustinov’s strengths rather than his pitfalls,
‘‘I know what he has in his arsenal and what I have to do to beat him. He can punch but I take a shot and give one back.
I’m looking for nine KOs out of nine.’’
Berchelt and Navarrete Win their Rematches
By: William Holmes
The Tuscon Arena in Tuscon, Arizona was the host site for tonight’s Top Rank Promotions boxing card televised live on ESPN.
Two world title rematches were on display Emanuel Navarrete took on Isaac Dogboe for the WBO Junior Featherweight Title in the co-main event of the night and Miguel Berchelt faced Francisco Vargas for the WBC Junior Lightweight Title.
The opening bout of the broadcast was between Isaac Dogboe (20-1) and Emanuel Navarrete (26-1) for the WBO Junior Featherweight Title . Their last bout ended in an upset victory for Emanuel Navarrete.
Navarrete height and reach advantage was obvious early on as he went to work with his jab and short combinations. Navarrete slipped to the mat in the opening round, but was able to win the early rounds with his movement and combinations. A left upcut by Navarrete had Dogboe slightly rocked in the second round.
Dogboe came out charging in the third round, but Navarrete was able to stop that momentum with a sharp left uppercut that left Dogboe with shaky legs. Dogboe would start off strong in the opening minute of the fourth and fifth rounds, but Navarrete would have Dogboe hurt by the end of the round with his reach and power.
Navarrete scored a knockdown in the sixth round when a combination from him had Dogboe falling backwards in the the ropes. Dogboe continued to take a beating into the ninth round, but showed tremendous heart as he attempted to stay in the fight.
Isaac Dogboe’s corner, with his father as the lead trainer, threatened to stop the fight in the tenth round but sent Dogboe out to continue fighting anyway. The uppercuts of Navarrete continued to snap the head of Dogboe backwards and Dogboe needed a knockout in the final round in order to secure a win.
However, Navarrete continued pound on Dogboe in the final round and scored another knockdown. Dogboe got back up to his feet but on wobbly legs, and his father correctly decided to throw in the towel and stop his son from receiving further punishment.
Navarrete wins by TKO at 2:02 of the twelfth and final round.
The main event of the evening was between Miguel Berchelt (35-1) and Francisco Vargas (25-1-2) for the WBC Junior Lightweight Title .
Berchelt and Vargas last fought two years ago, with Berchelt coming out on top.
Berchelt showed good hand early on and was crisp with his combinations. Vargas was coming forward and did land some good overhand rights, but Berchelt was landing at a higher rate. Berchelt did get warned twice for low blows in the first.
Berchelt was landing some heavy lead left hooks in the second despite being warned for low blows again. There were some fierce exchanges in the second, but Berchelt was getting the better of Vargas.
Berchelt’s double left hook to the body and head were landing in the third, though Vargas did connect with a good combinations after Berchelt turned to the referee to complain about a low blow landing on him. Vargas was warned bout using his head in the third from the referee.
Vargas had blood coming from his nose going into the fourth round and he got tagged several times with eye combinations in the fourth. Vargas had his best round of the night in the fifth as he continued to come forward and at one point had Berchelt in some trouble by the ropes, but even that round was could have been scored either way.
Berchelt had a dominating sixth round as he loaded up on his shots to the body and head. Vargas looked like he was close to going down in the sixth, but he was able to stay on his feet, though he looked beaten both mentally and physically.
The corner of Francisco Vargas didn’t like what they saw from Vargas and stopped the fight before the start of the seventh.
Miguel Berchelt wins by TKO at the end of the sixth round.