By: Donna Jo
To rise to the top of the boxing world, an athlete must be intelligent, physically fit, dedicated, aware, and, as many former champs have attested to, a little bit lucky. Because so much is demanded of boxers—because there’s always a younger, hungrier, and more skillful opponent on the horizon—some high-level competitors fly under the radar; that is, their accomplishments and capabilities are overlooked as a result of the sport’s breakneck speed.
Today’s starts soak up the entirety of the spotlight, while yesterday’s stars don’t usually receive much respect.
Let’s take a quick look at three of the most underrated boxers of all time—boxers who recorded magnificent achievements and made their mark, but who don’t necessarily receive their due from contemporary pundits.
Jake “The Bronx Bull” LaMotta was the subject of Martin Scorsese’s famed Raging Bull film, and in many ways, his out-of-ring pursuits overshadowed his boxing achievements. Consequently, LaMotta is remembered today as something of a media figure.
He was a media figure, to be sure, but there’s no denying that LaMotta was also a legendary practitioner of the sweet science. The New York native channeled his aggression and troublesome personal habits into training, and with the help of his brother and an unrelenting will, he became one of the most notable boxers of Forties and Fifties.
LaMotta wasn’t knocked down or stopped with strikes until the twilight of his career; he fought Sugar Ray Robinson six times, in what was one of the most fantastic rivalries in boxing; and he gave a number of skillful opponents a very, very hard time in the ring.
Take a quick trip to YouTube to see LaMotta’s refusal to quit in action.
There’s a lot more to George Foreman’s achievements than his multi-million-dollar grills.
Throughout his 28-year boxing career—which spanned from the time he was 20 until he was nearly 49—Foreman was finished just once, by none other than Muhammad Ali, who also happened to snap Foreman’s 40-0 professional record. 68 of Foreman’s 76 wins came via knockout, and overall, he lost just five matches—roughly six percent of the fights he accepted throughout three decades!
The quality of Foreman’s career is further amplified by the fact that he made a successful comeback, which came when he was nearing 50 years of age. At 47 (almost 48) years old, Foreman topped Crawford Grimsley for the WBU and IBA heavyweight titles—Grimsley, a 23-year-old star who hadn’t been defeated! In short, comebacks like this almost never happen in the “real world”–or in the movies!
It can safely be stated that George Foreman, even in his ripe old age, can safely dispatch younger opponents; the man doesn’t need a bodyguard, a home security system, or any other type of protection. He’s got it under control!
Evander Holyfield has had his share of ups and downs in and out of the ring, but taken as a whole, his boxing career is terribly underrated.
Most people remember when Mike Tyson infamously bit Holyfield’s ear, but few remember when Holyfield defeated Tyson via TKO in their first fight, which came at a time when Tyson was viciously dominating the competition. The same is true of Holyfield’s one-in-a-million bout against George Foreman. Similarly, Holyfield’s riveting series with John Ruiz isn’t often mentioned, nor is the fact that Holyfield managed to do what so many of history’s greatest boxers were unable to: retire on a win.
Hopefully this list provides some newer boxing fans with the information and foundation they need to learn about the sport’s most underrated competitors. Boxing’s history is rich, and in between today’s many exciting matches, viewers should flip on the computer and relive the many exhilarating contests that the twentieth century brought with it.
Thanks for reading, and here’s to the magic and appeal of the sweet science!
By: Ste Rowen
On Monday George ‘Saint’ Groves, former WBA super-middleweight champion, last seen fighting in the World Boxing Super Series final last September, has announced his retirement from boxing.
Playing a significant part of one of Britain’s most iconic sporting events, Groves leaves behind a legacy that will inspire future sportsmen and women, not just boxers.
In a snippet of the statement made via Instagram Groves said,
‘‘After taking a little time to reflect on the recent events in my career I have decided that it is time for me to retire as a professional fighter. In 2017 I boxed in front of a home crowd in Sheffield and became WBA super-middleweight world champion. After four attempts I had finally fulfilled my childhood dream and the experience was as great as I had always imagined it would be.
…Although we step through the ropes on our own, of course every fighter is backed by a team and not just the ones in the corner. There are many, many people that have helped me on my way to fulfilling my boxing dreams.
…I don’t want there to be a time where I’m ‘too old’ to box on or where an injury retires me in or out of the ring…I want to respectfully bow out while I’m still at the top of my game.’’
Groves also mentioned former opponent, Edward Gutknecht, who suffered life changing injuries after their 2016 bout,
‘‘A prayer for Edward Gutknecht who suffered a brain aneurysm after our fight in November 2016. He was put into an induced coma for 3 weeks and bravely fought his way back to consciousness. He lives in Germany with his wife, 3 children and a full-time carer…After winning the WBA world title I decided to only continue fighting while it felt necessary.’’
The full statement can be read here; https://www.instagram.com/p/BtLTP-8FHuC/
Now formally retired George’s professional record stands at 28-4 (20KOs), within that time achieving accolades that include the British, Commonwealth and ‘Super’ WBA super-middleweight belts. By the time he was 10-0, he had fought in Germany, Las Vegas and all over the UK, and already held the Lonsdale and Rainbow titles.
When Ricky Hatton made his unsuccessful return at the beginning of 2013, a void for British boxing needed to be filled, and Groves, along with Carl Froch filled it with firstly, their Manchester Arena fight in November that same year, which ended in controversy and then the super-event and ’80,000 people at Wembley’ in 2014.
Groves is the every-man boxer. A balding, pale, loud mouth challenger that got under the skin of the chiselled, unified 168lb champion at the time, Carl Froch. He went into his two most famous fights with avid supporters and rabid doubters. Even after getting knocked out in the rematch he was gracious in defeat.
Time and again he proved he was leagues above British, European and fringe level, sweeping aside the likes of Paul Smith, Charles Adamu a veteran Glen Johnson, and many years later, Martin Murray; as well as scoring a decision victory over Olympic gold medallist, and future world champion, James DeGale early on in both their careers.
When the time came to return to big time boxing, 14 months on from the Froch rematch, he travelled to Vegas to fight WBC champion, Badou Jack. Hitting the canvas in the first round, the Brit fought out to ultimately a split decision loss and it felt George was back to square one.
On the comeback trail from the Jack defeat George proved once again he was capable of challenging at the top again, stopping David Brophy and dominating Murray over 12 rounds, until his fourth opportunity to win a world title came along in the form of the WBA, held by Chudinov.
At Bramall Lane Stadium, on the undercard of Brook vs. Spence ‘The Saint’ achieved the ultimate objective. Through six rounds of what felt like all-out action, where both boxers were buzzed and hurt multiple times, Groves unleashed a brutal flurry and with no reply coming from the Russian, the referee stepped in to end the bout, an emotional George with arms held aloft in triumph, was lifted into the air by trainer, Shane McGuigan
A boxer’s rise almost seems incomplete without the fall and ultimately that’s what happened to ‘The Saint’ in his last fight in the World Boxing Super Series finale. Despite folding Jamie Cox in half in the quarter-finals with a 4th round body shot KO and outclassing Chris Eubank Jr in the semis (GG dislocated his shoulder in the later rounds), the final proved a step too far as Callum Smith consistently beat George to the punch and ultimately ground the ‘Saint’ down to a 7th round stoppage, finishing him off with a body-shot.
It was almost the perfect passing of the torch, although Groves will have wanted to keep hold of the metaphor, as well as his belt into retirement.
His fighting style had his lead hand low, and constant feinting; a boxing column about a Groves fight didn’t really count unless you mentioned how good he is behind the jab. His approach in the ring was just as synonymous as his entrance to it. When ‘Spitfire’ by The Prodigy rang out, and a hooded figure bowled towards the ring, you knew it was ‘The Saint’.
Memorable victories, famous defeats and multiple British classics. From Wembley Stadium to Las Vegas, Hammersmith to the Middle East, ‘Saint’ George Groves achieved the ultimate dream of becoming World champion, fighting the best along the way and leaves behind a boxer’s story that will live long in the memory of all hardcore and casual fans alike.
By: Ste Rowen
Callum Smith stopped George Groves in the 7th round in world class fashion, to become the new super middleweight WBA and Ring Magazine champion, as well as the first ever World Boxing Super Series super middleweight conqueror.
Tonight’s venue was the 10,000-capacity seat arena within Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City, the first official event of its kind held in Saudi Arabia’s second largest city, but the unusual venue didn’t change the approach that usually starts George’s bouts.
Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account
As always seems to be the case in Groves’ fights, the two fighters made a tentative start, both pawing away with the jab, attempting to find a weak spot early.
Smith, in the immaculate white and silver shorts, looked comfortable firing off the counter. The 2nd saw both fighters land eye-catching shots but it seemed the WBA champion’s work behind the jab made the difference.
With just over 1:30 left of round 3 though, ‘Mundo’ landed a counter-right hand that shook Groves, 28-3 (20KOs), enough to back him up and, for a brief moment, look shaky. Smith, 24-0 (17KOs) was unable to properly capitalise and ‘The Saint’ regained his equilibrium and end the round relatively well. Though Smith landed a crowd-pleasing right hand at the beginning of the 4th, George boxed smartly from there.
Smith seemed undeterred however, when his fellow Brit landed, Callum kept his head up and continued to maneuverer forward; even when, with 18 seconds left of the 5th, ‘Mundo’s’ feet were swept from underneath him after the two fighter’s legs became entangled.
Into 6 and 7 – despite another awkward fall that saw Smith on the canvas – it felt as if the WBC ‘Diamond’ champion was getting into his groove. He wasn’t just landing pleasing shots now, the Liverpudlian was forcing the tournament’s #1 seed further and further back.
With less than 1:20 left of round 7 Smith landed an almighty left hook that shook ‘The Saint’ to the ropes, unable to reply as ‘Mundo’ continued to land until he was forced to drop to his knee. The referee stepped in to call a conclusion to proceedings just as Callum landed one last right hand. A clinical finish from a man who is no doubt tired of being called un-proven. You can no longer label him that anymore.
With legends like Naseem Hamed and Evander Holyfield already in the ring, Rashida Ali, Muhammad’s daughter, presented Callum with the WBSS trophy to top off a lifechanging night for Callum Smith.
Now the main man at 168lb, Smith acknowledged the significance of tonight’s win.
‘‘It’s been a long time coming…I know how good I am, and I know I was good enough to become a world champion and become the best on the planet. I’ve had a slow couple of years and people kind of forgot me and forgot how good I was…I’ve reminded people how good I am.’’
‘‘It was a good fight. I felt I was ahead at the time of the stoppage. I feel I was beating him at his own game…I always knew I had the power to finish him, but I showed I could live with him, with my boxing ability as well.’’
‘‘Credit to George Groves, he’s a great champion. It was an honour to share the ring with him…I’ve never been satisfied but I think you’ve seen tonight how much this means to me. A lifetime’s work all rolled into one.’’
Groves was complimentary to the victor post-fight,
‘‘It was just not meant to be, full credit to Callum…He caught me with a body shot in the end, which is very embarrassing for me. I’ve never been caught with a body shot in my life, so I can’t believe he did it.’’
‘‘We knew he could punch. He’s got a higher reach on me as well, so I didn’t wanna go 50-50 with him and trade. I was making him miss and making him pay. He got the decisive shot in the end.’’
And when asked about his shoulder, previously injured in the WBSS semi-final,
‘‘I’m not here to make excuses, the shoulder worked. Callum, to his credit, was the better man on the night, and for someone like me, that’s tough to say…I’m not retiring, I don’t know what’s next, but it’s been a dogged year.’’
Now for only the 3rd time in the belt’s history, the Ring Magazine has an owner, the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight champion, Callum Smith.
On the undercard…
A bearded Chris Eubank Jr moved to 27-2 (21KOs) with a 3rd round technical knockout of JJ McDonagh. The southpaw from Ireland, McDonagh, bizarrely fell to the canvas in the 1st round after receiving what looked like a routine left hook to the side of the head. The Irishman regained his senses, but it put Chris up on the cards immediately. Eubank looked to have the upper hand, despite it being competitive, JJ pulled out at the end of round 3, seemingly a shoulder injury. In the corner between rounds 3 and 4, Eubank could be heard shouting to the opposite corner, ‘‘Don’t do it. Don’t do it.’’ Unfortunately for those watching, he did.
‘‘It was a good fight while it lasted but the going got too tough for him, so he quit.’’ Chris said post-fight. JJ McDonagh joined the interview and got himself riled up when Chris told him he could’ve fought on, leading the Irishman to say, ‘‘I’ll fight you right now with one hand.’’ A strange offer from a man who 10 minutes earlier, literally had the opportunity to fight him with one hand.
The 29-year-old was the main event’s injury reserve and although the tournament hasn’t unfolded the way he predicted, Eubank will no doubt have gained some new fans after two entertaining scraps with WBSS quarterfinalist, Avni Yildrim and tonight’s loser, George Groves.
Darren Surtees, an undefeated welterweight from County Durham scored a 2nd round knockout over 8-4, Kane Baker to improve his own record to 9-0 (6KOs). Baker was dropped in round 2 by a short-left hand, and then Surtees unleashed a volley of punches which ended in a left-hook which sent Baker falling into the ropes and eventually onto the canvas. Darren landed a cheeky right hand for good measure whilst his foe was on the way down.
The only representative of Saudi Arabia on the card, super lightweight, Zuhayr Al Qahtani moved to London when he was 12 and today, he moved to 5-0 (0KOs) after earning a 4-round decision over late replacement, Mohamed Mahmoud, whose now lost all six of his professional fights.
Al Qahtani looked slick as he landed quick-handed combinations, however it was Mahmoud who ended the 1st brightest, landing occasionally but clearly hard enough to upset Zuhayr’s flow. The fight continued to be entertaining, if a little stop-and-start due to holding and messy breaks but ultimately, ‘The Arabian Warrior’s’ performance was good enough to get the win.
Cruiserweight, Mikael ‘The Beast’ Lawal, 7-0 (5KOs) heading into tonight, added another W and KO to his pro record with a 3rd round knockout of journeyman-in-the-making, Tamas Kozma. The Hungarian, Kozma made the better start of the two but in the 3rd, Lawal landed a chopping overhand right to the back of the head, dropping his opponent to the canvas and ending the night early.
Heavyweight Kem Ljungquist of Denmark made light work of Mourad Omar by stopping the Egyptian after just two rounds, to move to 6-0 (4KOs). The Danish southpaw unrelentingly stalked the 4-1 fighter throughout the proceedings and just as the bell rang for the beginning of the 3rd, Omar told the referee he’d had enough and stayed seated to put an end to the bout.
By: Michael Kane
George Groves and Callum Smith spoke to the media ahead of their World Boxing Super Series final bout.
The Ali Trophy is up for grabs to end the inaugural middleweight season, delayed by a few months due to Groves suffering a shoulder injury.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
The bout between the two Englishman takes place in an unusual location, the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Groves is the current WBA Super World Champion, while Smith is the WBC Diamond title holder, the Ring magazine title will also be up for grabs.
Here is what the fighters had to say at the press conference:
“It’s great to finally be only a day or two away from the fight. We’ve had a great camp in the end. It took a long time to get back to full fitness, but we’re there now, and everything has gone as good as it possibly could. After such a long training camp and a long time since my last win, I can’t wait to fight and to collect some new belts and the Ali Trophy.
“I have been involved in some real big fights as a professional. I recently became WBA Super Champion and ranked number one in the division. Up for grabs for me this time around is the Ring Magazine belt, the WBC Diamond Championship and obviously the Ali Trophy as well.
“The tournament is only in year one, but everyone is extremely excited about it. It is a very prestigious thing to be associated with it, and I’m going to make sure I win it and win it well to stake my claim as the number one in the division.”
“It is a massive opportunity for me. Every fighter who starts boxing dreams of becoming a World Champion and I was no different. I turned professional and I believed my abilities were good enough to tell me to the very top and Friday night I get a chance to be there.
“A win over George puts me as the best super middleweight in the world, and a World Champion and a Ring Magazine Champion. It ticks a lot of boxes for me this fight, there is a lot at stake and that’s why I turned professional, for fights like these. I’ excited. I’m in a good place. I feel good, I feel strong. I’m ready to do what I came here to do and that’s become a World Champion.”
Shane McGuigan (Groves coach):
“It’s very different (from Eubank Jr. fight). You’ve got a guy who’s 6 foot or 5’11 and another guy whose 6’3’’. Completely different styles and that has been reflected in our training camp.
“I believe Callum is a much better fighter than Eubank Jr. and George will have to be better on the night, but I’m very confident that we are going to come away with the win. George has got the experience and I think the experience is going to tell in this fight. Calum has been in this position for a very long time. He has waited for this opportunity so we are expecting the very best Callum Smith.”
Joe Gallagher (Smith coach):
“There’s not much really to be said here. You’ve got the number one and number two seed of the tournament meeting in the final. Everyone is well aware of George Groves. His attempts at World titles and becoming World Champion, for which I think the whole nation in the UK was really pleased for him.
“This is now Callum Smith’s opportunity. His chance to shine, and he’s now got to go take this opportunity with both hands. We’re excited and ready to go, and ready to take care of business on Friday night.”
Wilfried Sauerland (Hall of Fame Promoter):
“For us it is a big day on Friday when we come to the final of the first round of the World Boxing Super Series. We’ve had one final already in Moscow and on Friday it will be the final everybody has been looking forward to in the super middleweight division, one of the strongest divisions in boxing.
“On Friday, we have the two best super middleweights in he world fighting on Friday for this most prestigious trophy and I myself can’t wait to see this fight. That means something when, like me, you have seen thousands of fights. It will be a very special occasion.”
Fans in the UK can watch Groves vs Smith LIVE on ITV Box Office. Ringwalks for the final will be at 9.00 pm UK time. Registration is open at itvboxoffice.com.
Fans in the U.S. can watch LIVE on DAZN, the global sports streaming platform. To sign up for a one-month free trial, fans can visit DAZN.com or download the DAZN app to their preferred connected device.
By: Ste Rowen
This Friday night the super-middleweight World Boxing Super Series champion will be crowned as, ‘Saint’ George Groves goes up against Callum ‘Mundo’ Smith for the WBA ‘Super’ strap, the Muhammad Ali Trophy and, for only the 3rd time in 168lb history, the Ring Magazine title.
Groves 28-3 (20KOs), will finish the tournament as he started it, against English opposition. In the quarter finals, the Hammersmith native folded an unbeaten Jamie Cox in half with a brutal body shot in the 4th round. His next opponent was of course, the smooth talking, high-volume punching, Chris Eubank Jr.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Groves proved a level above that night as well, inside Manchester Arena, accelerating ahead on the score cards, making a highly touted Eubank, look very basic. Despite George dislocating his shoulder in the championship rounds, he continued to land heavy shots and move well enough to avoid a late onslaught from Jr.
The 30-year-old took a unanimous decision and, speaking in the Super Series’ pre-fight documentary, is now ready to defend his WBA ‘Super’ belt for a third time and claim his place in boxing history as the first super middleweight WBSS champion,
‘‘This will be the pinnacle of my career.’’
‘‘We’re supremely confident about this fight. I’ve had my eye on Callum Smith for years now. He was the favourite before the tournament started so there are a lot of people believe in his abilities to a certain degree. I’m looking forward to proving those people wrong.’’
As mentioned earlier, Groves dislocated his shoulder in the final stages of his action-packed semi-final victory back in February and had to have surgery to properly repair and recover, which pushed the original July date, for the final, back to late September. But the ‘Saint’ promised that he’s back and better than ever now,
‘‘It’s taken an awful lot of work to get it back, far more than I anticipated…We’re doing shoulder specific work but now we’re at the point where there’s nothing we can’t do which is the most important thing.’’
‘‘I am boxing better than ever, and I don’t see Callum posing a threat. I expect another comfortable win.’’
Smith, 24-0 (17KOs) has arguably had a trickier route to the final. He drew the unbeaten Swede, Erik Skoglund, 26-0 at the time, for his Echo Arena quarter final. It was unquestionably ‘Mundo’s’ biggest test to date as Skoglund was unafraid take Smith’s attack and land his own.
It proved costly as in the 11th round, Callum landed a fantastic counter-right hand which wobbled Erik and setup four consecutive punches without reply, forcing the Swede to take a knee. The only blot on that night was the wide scorecards that favoured Smith but didn’t do justice to his opponent’s performance.
It was then onto what was originally a final-four date with Juergen Braehmer but, in fight-week, the German veteran pulled out due to illness. In came the slightly left field injury reserve, former kick boxing world champion and 13-0 (10KOs), Nieky Holzken. The Dutchman, like Skoglund, wasn’t afraid of marching forward, unfortunately it was quite clear early on that Callum wasn’t too concerned with the power Nieky had on offer.
But, yet again Smith was taken the full 12 rounds, this time however, the dominant scorecards in favour of ‘Mundo’, matched the fight in the ring. The youngest of the Smith boxing family clearly recognises the magnitude of Friday’s event,
‘‘Every fight I’ve had so far has been leading to this.’’
‘‘I’ve always felt that when I’ve been up against it and needed to perform, I’ve always delivered and there’s no bigger time to deliver than in the World Boxing Super Series final against George Groves. I know Groves very well, I’ve watched him for a very long time.’’
‘‘He’s (Groves) got good strength, got a good jab, he’s heavy handed. Defensively, I don’t feel he’s the best, and there’s little, slight things I’ve seen over the years I feel I could take advantage of.’’
‘‘I just feel I’m a better fighter than anyone he’s fought in this tournament…I am looking forward to becoming a world champion.’’
Originally intended to be the venue for the cruiserweight final between Usyk and Gassiev, the 10,000-seat capacity arena within the King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah will host the all British super-middleweight bout. It’s first ever boxing event at the ‘Shining Jewel’ complex.
The winner on Friday will join Joe Calzaghe and Andre Ward as the only men to claim the super middleweight Ring belt. Boxing this September has very much been the definition of ‘legacy fight’ month.
By Vishare Mooney
He’s been busy. In the last 14 months, undefeated Greek Australian fighter George ‘Ferocious’ Kambosos Jr. (14-0, 8 KOs), left Australia to train in the U.S., made his American debut with a stunning first round knockout of Jose Forero and trained in two world title camps (Pacquiao vs. Horn, Pacquiao vs. Matthysse). With his eyes clearly set on the prize, a world title, Kambosos Jr. has also found a friend and mentor in Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs), boxing’s most heralded 8-division world champion, having now sparred over 110 rounds with the legendary fighter.
The 25-year-old Kambosos Jr., who shares a coach with Pacquiao in former world title contender Justin Fortune and who is managed by Lou DiBella, will fight Filipino fighter JR “Star Boy” Magboo (17-1-2, 8 KOs) in the featured undercard of the Pacquiao-Matthysse WBA welterweight title fight in Kuala Lampur, this Saturday, July 14th on ESPN+. It was Pacquiao who insisted on adding his constant sparring partner, Kambosos Jr. on the already packed undercard roster. I caught up with Kambosos Jr. via videoconference, just days ahead of his fight and talked about his friendship with Manny, training regimen and goals for his own world title campaign.
Kambosos Jr. discussed why Pacquiao called on him again as a sparring partner. “I think he sees a younger version in myself, except for that I’m an orthodox fighter. We both train extremely hard, we both need to be pulled back by Justin Fortune, our coach at times to slow down. We both have the same mentality. He sees a young Manny Pacquiao in myself, so that’s how I got the opportunity. He wants to help my career as well. What better guy than the guy that’s done the most in boxing history” Kambosos Jr. added, “I think Manny will play a vital role in my future and my career, along side my promoter and my team.”
The camp was his second in 14 months. Kambosos Jr. was part of the Pacquiao vs. Horn team last summer. He said he is “still sore from the disappointment of the Horn fight” and adjustments have been made this time around. “We trained a lot smarter, pulled back on certain things, take a day off for rest, do some different kind of recovery, take a lighter session in the gym. I feel fresher during this camp. I feel great and I know Manny does as well. He will be ready for the fight on Sunday. There will be no excuses. Everything is ready to go.”
When Kambosos Jr. fights this weekend, it will have only been ten weeks since his last fight in May. He said it is the fastest turn around of his career and he likes it that way. He had trained hard for his American debut against Jose Forero, amassing over 150 sparring rounds prior to the swift win by TKO. By June, he was once again on a plane to the Philippines to reunite with Pacquiao. And after their first sparring session, got put on the undercard.
I asked Kambosos Jr. if he was at all nervous about his upcoming fight. “No, I have been sparring an all time great, the god of fighting. He’s Manny Pacquiao. I have been going toe to toe with Pacquiao not only on this camp but the last camp, that’s like over hundred something rounds together. I am more than ready for this fight. I’m excited for the challenge. And I know that I can’t afford any slip-ups. I need to make another good statement.”
What does he know of his opponent, JR Magboo? “He’s a tough Filipino. He’s 17-1. Knows his way around the ring. I research every fighter that I come across. I even research guys that I’m not fighting and could be fighting in the future so I look at everything. I’ve trained so hard I feel like I’m fighting Matthysse alongside Pacquiao.”
“As soon as I get in some shots, he (Magboo) is going to feel everything that I have done in camp and I’m coming for the knock out – that’s what I’m chasing. “
Kambosos Jr. seems to be keenly aware of the significance of this moment, his time with Pacquiao and his boxing career trajectory. On his quest to a world title, he has come a long way from being the chubby, bullied kid in Australia. “I was an obese kid, bullied, picked on, always picked last. If there was a joke it was going to be on me, So I just wanted to change my life. As soon as I started doing boxing the weight came off, my confidence got much better. I had a few school fights. Hurt them, beat up a few people, they realized, ok this guy can fight, we’re going to leave him alone. And now the rest if history.”
“Now look where I am, world ranked fighter, huge fan base, Manny Pacquiao’s chief sparring partner. I get to fight on a huge show like this…it’s incredible the journey I’ve had. But you know, I already envision the future I will have, not only as a world champion, but multiple champion, unified champion.”
Kambosos Jr. trains for each fight as if he were in a world title fight. “Before I had my pro debut, a good friend of mine said, look, now you’re a pro, treat every fight like a world title fight because it is. Every step is getting close to the world title. That’s the ambition, that’s the end goal. “
“I have been fortunate to be a part of proper world title camps. And so I have taken what Manny does in his training and added it to my game. I know what it takes at that level. I have trained alongside a legend in the sport, and I’m ready to have my own world title camp in the very near future.”
By: Ken Hissner
On November 5th in 1994 at the MGM Grand, Grand Garden Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada, “Big” George Foreman regained the IBF and WBA Heavyweight title knocking out Michael Moorer in the 10th round. He was behind on point from the judges with scores of 88-83 twice and 86-85. Shortly after the fight Foreman was stripped of the WBA title for refusing to fight Tony Tucker.
One of the fighters Foreman influenced most was now 44 year old Shannon “Cannon” Briggs, 29-1, who was the last opponent in Foreman’s 81 fight career. It was thought Foreman was lucky to get by Germany’s Axel Schulz, 21-1-1, in April of 1995 and most felt he deserved the decision over Briggs losing 117-113, 116-112 and 114-114.
Briggs last fought on November 4th 2016 improving his record to 60-6-1 (53). He has been 9-0 since turning 40. He chased Wladimir “Dr. Steelhammer” Klitschko then champion for years. He won the WBO title on November 4th 2006 stopping Siarhei “White Wolf” Liakhovich. Liakkhovich in his last bout at 42 in October of 2017 stopped Ramon “Pantera” Olivas, 14-7, of Sonora, Mexico, in the 3rd round of a scheduled 6, in Sonora, Mexico.
Former WBC Heavyweight champion Oliver “The Atomic Bull” McCall, 57-14 (37), at 49 lost his last fight in April of 2014 to Marcin “Rex” Rekowski, 13-1, over 10 rounds in Poland, in a rematch that McCall won in February. He was 15-7 after the age of 40. He won the title in September of 1994.
Fres “The Big O” Oquendo, 37-8 (24), at 45 is scheduled to fight for the WBA World title on September 29th at Cologne, Germany, when he meets champion Manuel Charr, 31-4 (17), though Oquendo hasn’t fought in four years. He lost a disputed decision to Chris Byrd in September of 2003 for his IBF World title.
Like Oquendo 45 year-old southpaw Amir “Hardcore” Mansour, 23-2-1 (16), is still chasing a title opportunity. He has won 7 minor titles and has been in the world ratings. His last fight was in November 2017 ending in a NC3 over a clash of heads against Russia’s Sergey Kuzmin, 11-0, in Moscow.
Billy “Bronco” Wright, 52-4 (43), of Las Vegas, last fought in January of 2016 at the age of 51. He hadn’t lost since 1998 to Tony Tucker. He won his last 22 fights since then of which 9 of his last 11 fights were in Bolivia. He won the WBC FECARBOX, WBO Latino and interim PABA titles.
All of these heavyweights felt they could match what George Foreman did at age 45 winning the heavyweight title.
By: Sean Crose
“I give them as much inspiration and motivation as I can.”
So says lightweight contender, George Kambosos Jr, who, at 13-0, will be making his American debut this Saturday evening at Connecticut’s Foxwoods Resort and Casino against the 13-6-1 Jose Forero. Kambosos is certainly a fighter to watch, one who employs lightning fast speed and an ability to work both the head and body simultaneously. The Sydney, Australia native also possesses an engaging, outgoing personality, which lends itself well to the contemporary American fight scene. As much as he longs for ring success, however – and the man certainly wishes to attain considerable heights – Kambosos also wants to help those in need, namely those who live through the type of experience he had growing up.
Photo Credit: George Kambosos Jr. Twitter Account
“I was always a heavy kid,” he says. “I was bullied at school.” Now a rising star in the fight game, the fighter helps bullied children as much as possible. ”We put out a real good motivational video on YouTube,” he says. The inspirational piece had over a million views. Unfortunately, YouTube took the video down, apparently for reasons connected to the audio. Kambosos, however, is still engaged. As he says, his experience has: “made me a better person.”
As a young man in Sydney, Kambosos’ eagerness to not only get in shape, but to stay there, led the young man to a local boxing gym – and things were never the same. “As soon as I started working at the gym,” Kambosos says, “I fell in love with the sport.” Kambosos may not be widely unknown in America at the moment, but his US debut comes with an impressive pedigree behind it. Aside from an amateur experience that took him around the world, the lightweight has also sparred quite a bit with a genuine legend. “Manny’s an all-time great,” he says of the one and only Manny Pacquiao, who Kambosos was a sparring partner for in the lead up to last year’s controversial welterweight title bout with Jeff Horn. “He’s a guy I look up to.”
Kambosos didn’t just trade a few punches with Pacquiao, his role was to legitimately help train the titlist for the Horn match. “Manny has extreme speed and so do I,” says Kambosos. “He’s still got it when he’s on.” Oh, and in case anyone’s wondering, Kambosos agrees with many people when it comes to the most controversial judges’ cards of last year. “I still believe he won the (Horn) fight,” Kambosos states. In fact, the up and comer isn’t of the opinion that the Filipino legend is washed up. “On his (best) day, I still believe he can be anybody,” Kambosos says of Pacquiao.
Kambosos is no mere sparring partner, though. Put simply, he’s a fighter on the rise. “We’ve got Lou DiBella behind me now,” he says. DiBella, one of the top promoters in boxing, knows how to move a fighter along, something Kambosos is grateful for. Provided Saturday goes as planned (“We take this guy out. We look great.”), Kambosos is ready to make his move towards the top of the division. “Another three or four fights, we’ll definitely be in line for a title fight,” he says. Already well known in his native land, Kambosos now wants his fame to grow. “Back in Australia,” he says, “it’s hard to walk down the street.”
That may not be the case for Kambosos in America – but he aims to change all that, starting this weekend in Connecticut. “We want the big fights in America,” he says, “and we want the stardom.” As Kambosos makes clear: “We want to take a risk…we want to chase the big boys here in America.” Kambosos is aware of the fact that a winning personality can help take a fighter far. “It’s very important in the American scene,” he says. If things go as planned, the lightweight’s formula of ring and personal appeal will be an irresistible combination for fight fans. “I think the Americans are going to love it,” he says. “It’s going to keep building, bigger and stronger.”
First, though, there’s the matter of Forero. “He’s a solid puncher,” Kambosos says of this weekend’s foe. Perhaps more importantly, “he’s coming in with nothing to lose.” Sure enough, a victory over a lauded rising star would be a huge career builder for any fighter. Kambosos, however, isn’t worried. “I love the pressure,” he says. “That’s why we’re here.” It helps to have a solid background behind him as he makes his stateside debut. “I started boxing at eleven years of age,” he says. “I got a good, solid base from that system.” Plus, training for Saturday has gone well.
“It’s been a good camp,” Kambosos states in regards to his preparation, adding he’s been working with “real quality guys.” One of those guys, of course, is his trainer. “I hooked up with the guys in America,” he recalls, “with Justin Fortune.” A former heavyweight of note, Fortune is, like Kambosos, an Australian who made his way to America to at least in part capitalize on the fight game. Now a respected trainer, Fortune has impressed his young contender. “Justin’s great,” Kambosos says. “We gel very, very well.” Although he was once with Kostya Tszyu’s gym in Australia and helped Pacquiao alongside Freddie Roach, Kambosos is happy with the man he has in his corner, just like he is with his career at the moment.
As the interview winds down, Kambosos tells of the time he was working with Pacquiao, how his partner was about to give birth to his daughter – now nine months old. “Your life’s going to change,” Pacquiao told him. It was a prediction that happily turned true. Kambosos’ life may change again after he makes his American debut this Saturday. And, if he has his way, the lightweight division will feel the effects.
By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night in Manchester, an all-British world title fight takes place when WBA super middleweight champion, George Groves 27-3 (20KOs), steps into the ring with IBO belt holder, Chris Eubank Jr 26-1 (20KOs) in the much-anticipated World Boxing Super Series semi-finals.
Both boxers made easy work of their quarterfinal opponents back in October.
At Wembley Arena, ‘Saint’ George Groves knocked out fellow Brit, Jamie Cox in the 4th round with a clinical body shot that kept Cox down for the count and served as Groves’ first defence of his WBA belt, which he won back in April after stopping Fedor Chudinov.
In the pre-fight documentary, still available on the WBSS YouTube channel, Groves said…
‘I don’t like to waste shots so anything I do throw, believe me you’re gonna get hit with it… There’s absolutely nothing there for me to worry about because there’s gaping, gaping holes in that style, in that approach.
He’s a blown-up middleweight who’s come into this tournament to try and build his profile… If he managed to beat me he’ll be the next coming but if he fails he’s gonna have the biggest fall from grace that we’ve had in this country for a long time.’
Away from home and in the heated atmosphere of Stuttgart, Eubank knocked out, walking punchbag Avni Yildrim in the 3rd round of his quarterfinal bout, with a devastating right hook that finished the Turk off, after already forcing his opponent into briefly taking a knee in the first round following an uppercut.
Speaking on his own and his opponent’s capabilities, Chris was in confident mood…
‘It’s more than possible to push through that pain barrier and get up, and I’m sure that he’ll try and use that against me and I’m sure I’ll be prepared for it… It won’t go the 12 rounds, somebody’s getting knocked out. This chin doesn’t have an off button, his does.
I don’t have any hate for the guy, he’s just a guy with a belt that I need to get passed to win the tournament. I keep my emotions out of boxing. It’s nothing personal, it’s just punishment.’
It’s a difficult fight to conclusively call. It could come down to how well Groves weathers the storm in the early rounds and whether his chin holds up as well as it did against Chudinov. Along with being able to slip and counter off the ropes, if Groves is able to fire off the selection of shots we’ve seen in his 6-fight win streak since losing to Badou Jack back in 2015, Eubank will need to do more to protect himself when those huge swinging hooks go amiss.
Eubank may not be pillow-fisted, but he’s lacking that one-punch KO power. Even in his previous bout, the IBO champion constantly landed cleanly throughout the 3 rounds. It’s difficult to envisage a scenario where a seasoned pro like George Groves, gives his semi-final foe so many opportunities to take him out.
The second semi-final takes place next week in Nuremberg as super middle & light heavyweight veteran, Jurgen Braehmer, 49-3 (35KOs) goes up against 23-0 (17KOs) Callum ‘Mundo’ Smith. The winners will progress to a final that’s expected to take place in early June at London’s O2 arena.
On the undercard, and as long as there’s no late injury to either of the main event fighters, WBSS super middleweight injury reserve, Zach Parker, 14-0 (10KOs) will take on 16-6-2 (10KOs), Adasat Rodriguez.
Two British title fights will also be on the undercard as Ryan Walsh takes on unbeaten, Isaac Lowe; and Tommy Langford is up against Jack Arnfield for the middleweight belt.
Both Walsh and Lowe have a mutual opponent on their records in Denis Ceylan who Lowe fought to a disputed draw, in March 2017; Walsh was beaten on a split decision to Ceylan five months earlier.
It’ll be the first time Tommy Langford, 19-1 (6KOs) defends his British title since 2016, after a 1-1 record in 2017. He was comprehensively knocked out by Avtandil Khurtsidze back in April and ended the year with a routine comeback points victory over 11-36-1 Miguel Aguilar. Jack Arnfield is currently on a six-fight win streak including wins over John Ryder, and former junior middleweight world title challenger, Brian Rose.
By: Niki Ross
Last week saw the Matchroom card “British Beef” take place at the London O2 Arena, the main event pitted Olympian Lawrence Okolie against the skilled prospect Issac Chamberlain.
This was promoted as a grudge match between two hungry prospects at the start of their career looking to chalk up the first significant win over a local rival. Unfortunately, despite one of the fighters being nicknamed “Sauce”, the main event of British Beef turned out to be pretty tough to swallow.
All eyes will now be turning to Feb 17th. This fight should be close and action is nothing short of certain. Both fighters look to secure a place in the final of the World Boxing Super Series tournament against Callum Smith and both fighters have had wars in sparring previously. History and bad blood makes this an intriguing fixture.
Chris Eubank Jr is pencilled as the bookmaker’s favourite. His recent wins have been a display of eye watering hand speed and versatile punch selection. He is comfortable lashing in five and six punch combinations which often pass in the blink of an eye. As with most young athletes these days he has also taken to YouTube to help raise his stock with footage of sparring and tearing apart punch bags. Regularly putting the hurt on unwitting sparring partners in a grandiose display of poor sportsman which smells like it has Eubank Snr’s influence all over it.
To the casual fan, Eubank Jr will be an attractive fighter to invest time and money in. Loosely following the Mayweather blueprint, he likes to showboat and entertain with gym clips and cute training montages. Take a look at his boxing record however and you’ll see that its built on soft ground. He’s yet to face an elite level fighter. On his day Billy Joe Saunders is world class and that’s where Eubank Jr came unstuck previously. Since that loss he has failed to up the standard of competition to a level where he really tests himself and learns the crucial lessons about swimming in deep waters. Of his 20 KO’s only one has been a straight knockout, the rest were all TKO’s. Chris Eubank Jr, for all his gusto, lacks knockout power.
George Groves has previously walked the walk and he’s consistently fought tougher opposition. A new partnership with trainer Shane McGuigan has sparked a renaissance in George Groves winning a world title in the process. Unlike Eubank Jr, Groves has punching power which can stop a man dead. Carl Froch went down for the second time in his colourful career when Groves delivered a solid right hand, the Cobra was not a man who was easily hurt.
The physical attributes of both fighters will probably be where this fight is won or lost. Eubank Jr is not a big 168lb’er and his lack of knockout power highlights this. If he maintains a high punch output he should see out a victory, a stoppage is possible, George Groves is not a hard man to hit. Groves on the other hand is the natural super middleweight, he has power, he hits hard. He’s seen off a number of quality opponents and the experience will give him an extra advantage in this fight. If he can withstand Eubank Jr’s ferocious onslaughts his power and experience could prevail in the later rounds. Eubank has a very slim torso, some early body work could take the wind out of his sails if Groves can find his way in.
This is a good match up which will answer more questions than it creates. If Eubank Jr scores an impressive victory he has to be taken serious as a top contender at super middleweight. If Groves picks up the win it cements his status in the divison as a dangerous title holder. His CV is rich with credible opponents and career defining fights. He seldom made it easy for himself, his victories have not always been convincing but he’s come through them and in the process learned more about himself and the sport than his opponent. It is refreshing that with this tournament, boxing has produced such an organic means of crowning the best fighter in a division. For these two fighters however, this fight already brings the gravity of a final, in terms of significance, this fight is the one which neither fighter can afford to lose.
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of November 21st to November 28th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Holyfield and Arum Headline 2018 Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame Class
Evander Holyfield and Bob Arum headline the 2018 inductees into the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame.
The Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame (ACBHOF) has announced its 25 member 2018 Induction Class, which also includes President Donald J. Trump. This epic event will take place at The Claridge, a Radisson Hotel located at Park Place & Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey on June 1 – 3, 2018.
Atlantic City, New Jersey Mayor-Elect Frank M. Gilliam Jr. commented, “The future of boxing in Atlantic City is brighter than ever. Being the newly elected Mayor of the City of Atlantic City, New Jersey it gives me great honor to be a part of bringing the 2nd Annual Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Weekend back to our Great City. I believe boxing and Atlantic City has always been a natural fit and we see it returning to its glory days, and under my administration, we plan on welcoming it back wholeheartedly: Congratulations to the ACBHOF “2018” Inductees!”
The Claridge Hotel serves as the signature Corporate Sponsor for this knockout weekend, “The Claridge is proud to be in partnership with the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame and to continue to promote professional boxing’s exceptional history in Atlantic City,” says Cem Erenler, Vice President/ Operations & Business Development for TMJ Properties, the owner and developer of The Claridge. The iconic hotel, which is now part of the global Radisson brand first opened in 1930. “Hosting this signature event is in the best traditions of The Claridge, which for more than 80 years has been Atlantic City’s center for exciting events in sports and entertainment,” Mr. Erenler said.
Evander Holyfield stated: “I have many great memories fighting in Atlantic City, and I am honored to be inducted into its Hall of Fame.”
The 2nd Annual Induction Ceremony & Celebration Weekend will honor some of the world’s most prominent trailblazers from the sport of boxing: President Donald J. Trump, José Sulaimán, and Bob Arum are just a few names who will be enshrined with the 2018 induction class. Also expected to be in attendance; current and former boxing champions, and VIP Guests for a fun-filled weekend that’s highlighted by a black-tie evening, and the acclaimed, unforgettable Induction Ceremony.
“The Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame is here to stay! The epic success of our 2017 Inaugural Induction weekend was pivotal to our brand value in the boxing and business community,” said Rodrick Green Vice President and Business Strategist for ACBHOF. “We are excited about the economic and sports entertainment impact the ACBHOF will continue to have in Atlantic City. Thank you for your support and be reassured that at the 2018 Induction Celebration the bar will be raised even higher.
Over the next several weeks there will be updates on the schedule of events, room packages and expected VIP appearances on the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame and the Claridge Hotel websites and social media platforms.
“We’re excited about the ACBHOF 2018 Induction Class; I believe our nomination committee did an incredible job in selecting a diverse and richly deserving group of individuals. I’m extremely proud of this class because it contains three remarkable women: Diane Fischer-Cristiano, Jean Williams, and Marian Muhammad. The ACBHOF team along with our partners and sponsors are looking forward to June where we will pay homage to our 2018 inductees,” said Ray McCline ACBHOF President and Founder.
Tickets for Groves-Eubank Jr. Sold Out in Seven Minutes
It took seven minutes to sell out the Ali Trophy semi-final bout between WBA Super World Champion George Groves (27-3, 20 KOs) and IBO-Champ Chris Eubank Jr. (26-1,20 KOs) at the Manchester Arena on February 17, 2018.
Europe’s largest purpose-built indoor arena will be at capacity to witness what promises to be the biggest Super Middleweight night in years.
“This is a sensational start to the semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series and the quest for the Muhammad Ali Trophy,” said Roberto Dalmiglio, Comosa’s CEO.
“I said before we went on sale that the fight between Groves and Eubank Jr. represents the boxing event fans cannot afford to miss, and I am happy to say that I was right.”
Said Kalle Sauerland, Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer: “This is clearly the fight everyone wanted and I am sure this super-fight will capture not only a nation but a generation of fight fans.”
“The build-up is going to be huge and we can’t wait to go to Manchester for a sold out event between two spectacular rivals and world-class fighters.”
“We will work hard over the coming weeks to release extra tickets to meet the huge demand for this fight.”
The build-up to the all-British grudge match begins today when Groves and Eubank Jr. come face-to-face at a kickoff press conference at 2 pm in London.
ITV will be live streaming the press conference on ITV Box Office, YouTube and Facebook.
The Ali Trophy super middleweight semi-final between George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr. will be live on ITV Box Office on February 17.
Lucas Matthysse and Jorge Linares to Headline HBO Card at Los Angeles Forum
Two of the world’s most exciting fighters, Lucas “La Maquina” Matthysse (38-4, 35 KOs) and Jorge “El Nino De Oro” Linares (43-3, 27 KOs), will kick off the 2018 boxing year with a bang as they compete in separate world championship bouts on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 at the “Fabulous” Forum in Inglewood, California. This special double main event will be televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark beginning at 10:20 p.m. ET/PT.
The first co-main event will see the 35-year-old Matthysse, an absolutely thunderous puncher out of Chubut, Argentina, facing undefeated Thai superstar Tewa Kiram (38-0. 28 KOs) in a 12-round battle for the vacant WBA Welterweight World Championship.
“I am honored to be able to fight for a world championship in just my second fight at welterweight,” said Matthysse, a former interim world champion at 140 pounds who has defeated the likes of former two-division champion Lamont “Havoc” Peterson, formerWBO Junior Welterweight Champion Ruslan “The Siberian Rocky” Provodnikov and former three-division titlist Humberto “La Zorrita” Soto. “I understand I am facing a younger, undefeated opponent, but I am confident that ‘The Machine’ will emerge victorious.”
Since turning pro at the age of 15, Kiram has torn through an astounding 38 opponents, with 28 of them never hearing the final bell. He won the interim PABA Welterweight Championship in just his sixth fight and defended it – and the full PABA Welterweight title – more than 30 times over seven years. This will mark his first fight outside of Thailand.
“I understand not many people know me in the U.S., but they are in for a big surprise on Jan. 27,” Kiram said. “I have never been defeated, and I am fully confident that I will return to Thailand with the WBA Welterweight World Championship around my waist.”
In the second co-main event, Linares, a 32-year-old Venezuelan considered one of the top fighters in the world, will make his second trip to the ‘Fabulous’ Forum in a row to defend his multiple lightweight world championships against the once-defeated Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta (31-1-2, 17 KOs).
“I have travelled all over the world to win and defend my titles, and I am looking forward to having my hand raised in victory once again in America,” said Linares, the three-division world champion who holds victories over world champions and contenders such as Anthony “Million Dollar” Crolla, Kevin “Mighty” Mitchell and Gamaliel “El Platano” Diaz. “I know that Gesta has speed and power, but he hasn’t been at this level before, and on Jan. 27, he’ll know what it’s like to face a world champion.”
Gesta, a 30-year-old from the Philippines, has not tasted defeat in six fights, beating quality opponents including Gilberto “El Flaco” Gonzalez and former contender Martin “El Brochas” Honorio. Gesta is getting his second shot at a world championship more than five years after dropping a unanimous decision to Miguel “Titere” Vazquez for the IBF World Lightweight Championship.
“I know firsthand how long it takes to get a shot at a world championship, and I will not allow this opportunity to pass me by,” Gesta said. “I understand Linares is a great fighter, but I know I have the skills, speed, power, and great coaching which will get my hand raised in victory.”
“What a way to kick of 2018 – with two of the top fighters in the sport taking on younger, hungry challengers,” said Oscar De La Hoya, CEO and Chairman of Golden Boy Promotions. “It’s not often you get two main events on one card, but that is what we will have on Jan. 27 at the “Fabulous” Forum. This card will help keep the momentum that boxing established in 2017.”
“This is a very important fight for Argentine boxing, for Lucas Matthysse and for Arano Box,” said Mario Arano of Arano Boxing. “Matthysse is ready to be a world champion, and we are more than sure that his win will make huge waves throughout the entirety of the Republic of Argentina and South America.”
“Thailand has never had a Welterweight World champion before,” said Taweesin Terry Laosuwanwat, Manager and Promoter of Kiram. “We are making history here, and Tewa [Kiram] will do anything to win this fight. Tewa has never lost before, and he will keep his undefeated record against Matthysse.”
The remainder of the undercard and the ticket information for this stacked event will be announced shortly.
Jose Lopez to Take on Avery Sparrow in New Co-Main Event on November 30th ESPN Show
Super featherweight contender José “Wonder Boy” López (18-1-1, 13 KOs) of Carolina, Puerto Rico will now take on Avery Sparrow (8-1, 3 KOs) in the new co-main event of the Nov. 30 edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland. The event will also feature the headlining debut of Lamont Roach, Jr. (15-0, 6 KOs) as he defends his WBC Youth Super Featherweight Title against Rey “Flash” Pérez (21-8, 6 KOs) in the 10-round main event. ESPN3 (English) and ESPN Deportes (Spanish) will air the fights live at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT. Undercard will stream on ESPN3 at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT. ESPN2 will air the fight at 11 p.m.ET/8 p.m. PT.
López, a 23-year-old contender who is coming off a four-fight win streak, has earned two regional titles since making his debut in Sept. 2011. In 2014, Lopez defeated veteran Leivi Brea to win the Interim WBC Fecarbox Super Bantamweight Title via first-round technical knockout. Two years later, López captured the WBO International Super Featherweight Title by defeating Edgar López Sasso via stunning second-round knockout. López was originally scheduled to fight against Miguel “Miguelito” González, but González was forced to pull out due to an injury suffered in his left arm when sparring.
Sparrow, who is also 23-years-old will took to take advantage of his first co-main event opportunity. The Philadelphian is coming off a four-fight win streak, defeating two undefeated prospects in his last two fights.
Fairfield, California’s Manuel “Tino” Ávila (22-1, 8 KOs) will take on Nick Otieno (31-12, 13 KOs) of Nairobi, Kenya in an eight-round featherweight fight. Ávila will return after his only defeat, which was in a tough battle against Joseph Diaz, Jr. on the Canelo vs. Chávez Jr. undercard in May of this year. The featherweight contender is looking to get back into the 126-pound mix before the year ends.
In the night’s swing bout, George Rincón (2-0) of Dallas, Texas will take on Jihad Wise (3-3, 1 KO) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a four-round 140-pound clash. Rincón’s brother, Alex Rincón, was originally scheduled to be in the swing bout, but the welterweight prospect who is currently signed to Golden Boy Promotions was forced to pull out and undergo surgery as he has been diagnosed with appendicitis.
Luther Smith (9-1, 8 KOs) of Alexandria, Virginia will open the night of boxing in a four-round bout in the cruiserweight division against an opponent that will be announced shortly.
Roach, Jr. vs. Pérez is a 10-round super featherweight fight for the WBC Youth Super Featherweight Title and is presented by Golden Boy Promotions. The event is sponsored by Tecate, “THE OFFICIAL BEER OF BOXING” and Hennessy “Never Stop, Never Settle.” ESPN3 (English) and ESPN Deportes (Spanish) will air the fights live from MGM National Harbor at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT. ESPN2 will air the fight at 11 p.m. ET/ 8 p.m. PT.
Tickets for Roach, Jr. vs Pérez are on sale and are priced at $75 VIP, $75, $55 and $35, not including taxes or fees. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call the Ticketmaster Contact Center at (800) 745-3000. Tickets will also be available for purchase online at www.ticketmaster.com and www.goldenboytickets.com.
Nico Hernandez Injured, Fight Posptoned
Due to an injury suffered by 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Nico Hernandez last week at training camp, this Saturday night’s “KO Night Boxing: Gold & Glory” card, presented by KO Night Boxing LLC, has been postponed until February 10, at the same venue, Hartman Arena in Park City, Kansas.
The 21-year-old Hernandez was scheduled to headline the event in his hometown against Hungarian flyweight champion Jozsef “Little Red” Ajtai (19-9, 12 KOs) in the eight-round main event for the vacant International Boxing Association (IBA) Americas flyweight championship.
The promoter plans to keep the card intact, as much as possible, and he is hopeful that Ajtai is available to challenge Hernandez for the IBA Americas title.
“Injuries are an unfortunate part of boxing, but the good news is that Nico will be 100-percent ready to go February 10th,” promoter John Andersen said. “I know that Nico feels that he’s letting everybody down but, at the end of the day, all that really counts is his health. He’s a tough kid who has his entire pro career ahead of him.”
“Over the last six months, Nico has become like family to the Hartman Arena staff,” said Hartman Arena Executive Director, Ben Bolander. “We wish the best for him and hope for a speedy recovery, so we can see him back here in February fighting for the title.”
TIckets to the December 2nd event will still be honored at the February 10 event. If ticket holders, are unable to attend the new event date, full refunds will be offered at the point of purchase. Tickets will remain on sale for the February 10, 2018 event date.
By: Ste Rowen
In the third Super Middleweight Quarter Final of the World Boxing Super Series, George Groves stepped up his claim to be the number one, Super Middleweight in Britain and the world as ‘The Saint’ landed a perfect body shot to stop Jamie Cox in the fourth round.
Cox, 24-0-0 heading into the bout, was looking to make a statement from the start, rushing into the bigger man from the first bell and forcing the WBA Champ onto the backfoot. Groves remained composed though as he blocked and deflected Cox’s best efforts through round two.
It became a scrappy affair at the end of round two and through round three as the smaller man, Jamie Cox, looked to rough up Groves. But again, his efforts went wanting, as Groves remained superior. Cox unloaded at an impressive pace but Groves ate up the punches and remained the more clinical of the two fighters.
Going into the fourth, it was more of the same with Cox looking to establish some kind of superiority until, as Cox continued to unload, he left himself open to the body and Groves, now 27-2-0, sent a crunching right hand that folded Jamie Cox in half and ended the bout.
Speaking at the post fight press conference Groves said, ‘I fought I boxed really, really well. I knew Jamie had tremendous heart, lots of balls. He walked through big shots that I was landing, so he was always dangerous. He certainly deserves to be at this level. We had fun and games in the buildup. I put him down a little bit but I knew that he was better than what I was saying but I think I boxed tremendous tonight, there’s always room for improvement. If anyone was down with whether I was a flash in the pan world title win, I think they know now that I mean business.’
On the upcoming semifinal and facing Eubank Jr, the WBA Champion said, ‘This Eubank Jr fight, I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while. I’m very excited about it. Eubank’s improved over the years but he hasn’t boxed anyone on my level. I know if I box like I did tonight, he doesn’t stand a chance. The fight fans out there now are excited about what’s coming. I’m excited.’
The Groves v Eubank semifinal is set for early 2018.
By: Ste Rowen
The third Super Middleweight World Boxing Super Series quarter final is set to take place at Wembley Arena on Saturday night in an all British match-up between WBA World Champion ‘Saint’ George Groves (26-3-0 19KOs) and the former Commonwealth Champion Jamie Cox (24-0-0 13 KOs). An accumulation of joy, relief and sadness hit George Groves when at the fourth time of asking he had become the newly crowned WBA titleholder. At Bramall Lane, England in May this year Fedor Chudinov gave his all, forcing ‘The Saint’ into rough waters and displaying an impressive chin but ultimately Groves’ relentlessness, world class jab and power showed as the referee stopped Chudinov on his feet in the sixth round of an all action bout.
Photo Credit: WBSS
It’s been a long winding road for the 29-year-old Londoner. He’s been part of, and victorious in one of the best British-prospect rivalries between himself and current IBF Super Middleweight Champion James Degale. He was one half of two fantastic all British world title fights, facing up against former WBA and IBF Super Middleweight Champion, Carl Froch.
Once in Manchester, then again at the fabled ‘80,000 people’ at Wembley Stadium. He lost both fights. Unfairly stopped in the first and indisputably beaten in the second as Froch knocked out Groves with the last punch of his career.
But Groves’ stature and popularity has grown ten-fold because of, and since then. He’s had his rough times. In the lead up to the first Froch fight he split with his only pro career coach, Adam Booth. After defeat in his third world title shot to Badou Jack in Vegas via split decision, Groves separated with trainer, Paddy Fitzpatrick. Then in the midst of cementing the foundations of a fourth world title shot; tragedy. He fought and defeated Edward Gutkneckht in a one-sided fight that, in truth should’ve been stopped earlier than it was. Gutknecht suffered swelling on the brain and to this day remains unable to speak or walk. Life had to go on for Groves though and the WBA World Title needed a champion to hold it, and so it did when he beat Chudinov in Sheffield.
The Muhammad Ali Trophy awaits and Jamie Cox is the first barrier to it. Jamie Cox is the relative unknown heading into this bout. Despite a successful amateur career that included a commonwealth gold in 2006, Jamie Cox has never established himself in the pros. Up until 2013 he was fighting at the light middleweight limit, even calling out then British Champion Kell Brook in 2009. Personal problems have also blighted his career and been the cause of inactivity, including an almost two-year absence from the ring between June 2013 to February 2015. The southpaw fights to impress in the early rounds but a tendency to stay on the inside is a concern when he’s up against someone with as impressive a right hook as Groves has got. The standard of opponents up until now is also a concern for Cox. His stand out wins have come against Hungarian Ferenc Albert in a first round knockout, Commonwealth Champion at the time Obodai Sai and a tenround decision win over Martin Fidel Rios in a dirty affair which saw Cox have two points deducted and Rios three. The World Boxing Super Series has created a platform that, for better or worse has set up bouts that wouldn’t normally be looked on as standalone world title fights. George Groves said himself at the quarter final draw that he chose Cox as his opponent because he is the ‘easiest route’. There are stories though of Jamie Cox’s power in sparring and his natural stance and come forward mentality has led to him leading with the head causing his competitors problems, including cuts, that his opponents hadn’t planned for.
It’s a problem Groves will have to nullify before Cox can gain momentum in the early rounds. Whoever comes out victorious on Saturday night, Chris Eubank Jr awaits in the semifinal and the IBO Champion is riding high on a wave of momentum since his one punch knockout of Turkish, Avni Yildrim last weekend. It’s set up for an all British semifinal, meaning for certain that there will be a Brit in the final of the WBSS.
By: Sean Crose
“We can change.”
So says famed former HBO commentator Larry Merchant at the end of Foreman, an intriguing documentary on the life of legendary boxer turned pop culture icon George Foreman, which airs Wednesday night at 8 PM on EPIX. One of the interesting things about Foreman is that his life basically falls into a neat narrative. From brutal street kid, to brutal fighter, to sincere Christian, to the star of perhaps the single best comeback story in all of sports, to life as a permanent fixture in American culture, the Houston, Texas native’s tale has essentially been begging to become a film for years. Needless to say, Foreman the documentary doesn’t disappoint.
Foreman’s son, George Jr., is the force behind the film and his choice of Chris Perkel as writer and director is an effective one. Rather than employing a narrator, Ken Burns style, Perkel allows Foreman and those individuals who have been a part of his universe to tell the story themselves. The footage, some of it famous, some of it little seen, accompanies the storytelling in a precise, fast-paced manner that makes for entertaining viewing. The movie rarely lags.
What gives the film it’s strength, though, is its theme of change. For Foreman truly became a changed man after entering his darkest moment. It was a change that was as abrupt as it has proven to be lasting. Yet Foreman essentially starts from the beginning, showcasing “Big George’s” rise from street thug to heavyweight champion of the world, an all American tale of one young man’s rise from poverty to the good life. Then comes that famous loss to Muhammad Ali in Zaire in 1974 and the subsequent psychological fallout. It’s at that point that we see Foreman the villain, dying in his locker room after a 1977 loss to Jimmy Young.
Yet it’s also at that exact moment that the film presents the man’s turning point. Foreman does a very effective job focusing on its subject’s now famous religious experience, so effective that it should be viewed rather than read about. Whatever one makes of the events of that long ago evening, there’s little doubt they brought about a profound shift in Foreman the man, and that they made him a much nicer guy in general, a fact evidenced by the film’s numerous recollections of family and friends.
Naturally, the second part of Foreman goes on to tell the prolonged happy ending millions now know as if it were the plot of a classic film – how the fat, aging Foreman, now a Christian cleric, took up fighting again and eventually, very improbably, managed, at forty-five, to win back the heavyweight title he had lost to Muhammad Ali over two decades earlier before moving on to become an entrepreneur and ubiquitous celebrity. Sure enough, Foreman’s story is so well known as to be spoiler free.
Yet the people behind Foreman the film wrap things up quite impressively by returning to the theme of change at the end of their documentary. For those who know Foreman the fighter know that he didn’t just change as a person, but ultimately went on to change as a ring tactician, as well. And the filmmakers rise to the occasion by letting the viewer know just how that first change inevitably led to the second.
By: Ken Hissner
Rising Star Promotions returns to the Claridge Hotel & Casino, in Atlantic City, NJ, Saturday. They will be featuring 12 bouts with Thomas “Cornflake” Lamanna of Millville, NJ, against George “El Terrible” Sosa for the WBC Silver Latino welterweight title in the Main Event.
“I’m just ready to fight and I hope he is too. I encourage people to come to this action packed event. 12 events and a title fight,” said Lamanna. His opponent Sosa had this to stay, “I think Lamanna is a boxer who has fought no one of my caliber yet, and like me I have fought everyone.”
Former IBF Cruiserweight champion Imamu “Young Ben” Mayfield, 26-10-2 (19), of Perth Amboy, NJ, takes on upset minded Lamont Capers, 7-10-2 (2), of Hawley, PA. Anthony “Juice” Young, 17-2 (6), of Atlantic City, NJ, takes on southpaw Tracey Johnson, 4-5-4 (0), of Boston, MASS.
Doors open at 6pm and first bout at 7pm