Boxing Insider Notebook: Figueroa, Guerrero, Shields, Caballero, Negrete, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of May 23rd to May 30th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Former World Champions Omar Figueroa and Robert Guerrero to Meet in Welterweight Brawl
A matchup between exciting former world champions Omar “Panterita” Figueroa (26-0-1, 18 KOs) and Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (33-5-1, 18 KOs) headlines an action-packed night of Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes on Saturday, July 15 in the first boxing event at the newly-renovated NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Televised coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT from the first boxing event at the Coliseum since Mike Tyson headlined in 1986.
“I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring and showing fans what I’m known for – exciting fights,” said Figueroa. “I’ve been quietly training and preparing in Indo, California with Joel Diaz and now it’s time. I’m looking forward to a great fight with Robert Guerrero on July 15 in front of a New York crowd. I can’t wait to show everyone at the Coliseum and on FOX and FOX Deportes what ‘Panterita’ is all about.”
“Both me and Omar Figueroa like to bang on the inside, which should make for great entertainment, but Omar is going to find out on July 15 that he’s facing a man who has his back against the wall and is going to leave everything in the ring,” said Guerrero. “I’m going to give the millions who’ll be watching on FOX and FOX Deportes a fight to remember. This is going to be a classic Mexican war and I’m coming out on top.”
The FOX and FOX Deportes broadcast will see unbeaten contender “Sir” Marcus Browne (19-0, 14 KOs) battling undefeated Long Island native and fan favorite Seanie Monaghan (28-0, 17 KOs) in a light heavyweight showdown.
“I have fought more times at Barclays Center than anyone, so it’s exciting to get to fight in a new venue not too far from home,” said Browne. “We might be in Seanie’s immediate backyard, but I’m just down the block, so he really isn’t any more at home than I am. I know he’s a hard-nosed fighter with a come-forward style. I’m preparing for a tough opponent. A win won’t come easy, but we have to take care of business. I am just ready to display my talent on national television and continue my climb toward a world title.”
“It is a dream come true to be fighting at the Coliseum, which is literally right next to the track where I run every day,” said Monaghan. “It is an honor to represent Long Island in the first boxing event held at this venue in 31 years. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time, and I feel that this bout will bring a new chapter in my career. I have a lot of respect for Marcus Browne, but let the best man win. On July 15, I am putting everything on the line.”
Also televised in prime time, Artur Szpilka (20-2, 15 KOs)meets Adam Kownacki (15-0, 12 KOs) in an all-Polish heavyweight showdown that promises fireworks.
“I can’t wait to get back in the ring and give my fans another exciting fight,” said Szpilka. “With two Polish heavyweights fighting, you know there will be power and pride on display. I’m training harder than ever to get this victory in front of the great Polish fans in New York. This will be my first step towards getting back to fighting for the heavyweight world title.”
“I can’t wait to fight again,” said Kownacki. “Most of my past fights were at Barclays Center, so fighting at the Coliseum will be a new and exciting experience. I am training very hard. A win on July 15 puts me one step closer to becoming a world champion. Szpilka will not stand in my way.”
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment, start at $50 (not including applicable fees) and are on sale Thursday, May 25 at 10 a.m. ET. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting www.ticketmaster.com, www.nycblive.com, or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Tickets are also available at the Ticketmaster Box Office at NYCB LIVE beginning Friday, May 26 at noon. Group discounts are available by calling 516-231-4848.
“Boxing’s grand return to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is going to be wall-to-wall action,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “The PBC on FOX and FOX Deportes main event between Omar Figueroa and Robert Guerrero is destined to be a bloody slugfest. The co-featured bout between Staten Island’s light heavyweight contender Marcus Browne and Long Island’s undefeated ‘Irish Rocky’ Seanie Monaghan will bring the heat on a summer night in Long Island. While Marcus and Seanie will bring in a big local crowd, the heavyweight grudge match between Poland’s Artur ‘The Pin’ Szpilka and Polish American Long Islander, by way of Brooklyn, Adam ‘Baby Face’ Kownacki will pack the house with Polish fans. As a Long Islander, I am proud to promote the first fight card at Nassau Coliseum in 31 years. July 15 will be a fun, action-packed night of boxing entertainment from beginning to end; the remainder of the card will be stacked with old-school brawls including local talent.”
“The Coliseum has a rich history in boxing, having hosted notable fights with the likes of Mike Tyson, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, and Gerry Cooney, among others,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. “We are thrilled to build on the sport’s heritage on Long Island, and to bring boxing back to the venue 31 years later with a major event on network television.”
A high volume puncher with an exciting style, Figueroa has returned to training with Joel Diaz in California leading up to this fight and looks to make his presence felt on July 15. Representing Weslaco, Texas, Figueroa is undefeated since turning pro in 2008 and won a lightweight world title by defeating Nihito Arakawa in a 2013 Fight of the Year standout. He followed that victory up with successful defenses against Jerry Belmontes and Daniel Estrada. The 27-year-old most recently defeated former world champions Ricky Burns and Antonio DeMarco in his last two outings.
Born and raised in Gilroy, Calif., Guerrero is always in exciting contests having gone toe-to-toe with Danny Garcia in a FOX main event in 2016 and Keith Thurman sandwiched around a hard fought victory over Aron Martinez. Prior to 2015, the 34-year-old picked up victories over Andre Berto, Secluk Aydin and Michael Katsidis while winning world titles in multiple divisions. The brawling warrior has been in several “Fight of the Year” candidates throughout his career, including a memorable brawl in Southern California with Yoshihiro Kamegai in 2014, and he also challenged former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather in 2013.
The undefeated Browne enters this fight after an electrifying performance in February that saw him drop former title challenger Thomas Williams Jr. before knocking him out in round six. The 26-year-old defeated previously unbeaten Radivoje Kalajdzic in April 2016 after a big 2015 that saw him defeat veteran contenders Gabriel Campillo, Aaron Pryor Jr., Francisco Sierra and Cornelius White. The 2012 U.S. Olympian fights out of Staten Island, New York after an exceptional amateur career that saw him win the 2012 U.S. Amateur Championship at light heavyweight.
One of the most popular fighters representing Long Island, Monaghan looks to solidify his first world title shot when he faces Browne on July 15. Monaghan competed in the 2009 New York Golden Gloves before turning pro, reaching the final before dropping a memorable contest to fellow Long Island-native Joe Smith Jr. He has yet to taste defeat in as a professional while battling a slew of veterans eager to test his championship mettle. Monaghan added two more victories in 2016 as he stopped Janne Forsman in five rounds and beat Fernando Castanedo in December.
The always entertaining Szpilka returns to the ring after a defeat at the hands of heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder in 2016 as he attempts to get back on the path towards world title contention. The aggressive-minded 6-foot-3 Szpilka, had a four-fight win streak entering the Wilder bout as he picked up a 10-round unanimous decision over former cruiserweight world champion Tomasz Adamek in 2014 and stoppage victories over Yasmany Consuegra, Manuel Quezada and Ty Cobb in 2015.
A two-time New York Golden Gloves champion, five of Kownacki’s last six victories have come at Barclays Center and he now hopes to bring that winning mindset to the Coliseum. Originally from Poland but now living in Brooklyn, Kownacki stopped previously once-beaten Joshua Tufte in January of this year after 2016 saw him earn a stoppage of Jesse Barboza in June and a decision over Danny Kelly in January. He will take on the toughest test of his career in his countryman Szpilka.
Undercard Announced for Next Detroit Brawl Show at Masonic Temple Featuring the Return to Michigan of Claressa Shields
The undercard has been announced for promoter Dmitriy Salita blockbuster “Detroit Brawl” on Friday, June 16, 2017, at the Masonic Temple in Detroit and it features an impressive mix of local and international prospects in high-stakes match-ups.
Thus far, five exciting bouts are scheduled in support of the eight-round main event featuring two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa “T-Rex” Shields (2-0, 1 KO) of Flint, Michigan, taking on Mery Rancier (7-8-3, 5 KOs) of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, for the WBC Silver Super Middleweight Championship and the 10-round co-main event between undefeated Detroit cruiserweight Demetrius Banks (9-0, 4 KOs) and Detroit via Russia’s Alexey Zubov (14-1, 9 KOs).
Tickets for “Detroit Brawl” are priced at VIP $200, Box Seats $100, Floor Seating $100 & $55, and balcony seating $40, and are available at all Ticketmaster outlets and Ticketmaster.com.
In the night’s main supporting bout, undefeated welterweight pulverizer Bakhtiyar Eyubov (12-0, 10 KOs) of Aktjubinsk, Kazakhstan, will look to stay busy waiting for his next high-profile step, as he attempts to inflict his crowd-pleasing style on always-tough Cesar Soriano (27-35-1, 16 KOs) Iztacalco, Mexico, over six rounds.
In another of the chief supporting bouts, Detroit’s rising talent and “Great Lakes King” Ja’Rico O’Quinn (6-0, 5 KOs) returns to action in a six-round bantamweight brawl against David Martino (2-2, 2 KOs) of San Felipe, Mexico.
Also scheduled is an all-action six-round super welterweight battle between Antonio Urista (7-2, 2 KOs) of Lansing, Michigan, and highly decorated former amateur star Serdar Hudayberdiyev (3-0, 2 KOs) of Turkmenabat, Turkey.
Opening the night will be a six-round super lightweight tilt between Staten Island, New York via Kazakhstan’s Dimash Niyazov (10-0-3, 4 KOs) and Grand Rapids, Michigan, veteran Ramon Guevara (10-24-2, 6 KOs); as well as a four-round welterweight bout between undefeated Jacob Bonas (2-0-1, 1 KO) of Bellville, Michigan, and Clinton Township, Michigan’s Tony Brooks (1-1).
“This is an exciting show from top to bottom,” said promoter Dmitriy Salita. “Every fight has been chosen for its excitement level. I am proud to be presenting it to the boxing savvy fans of Detroit, America’s comeback city and home for world-class boxing.”
More fights, opponents and rounds will be announced shortly. On fight night, doors open at 7:00 pm and the fights begin at 8:00 pm.
Irvin Gonzalez Starting to Make Waves in Super Featherweight Division
New England’s top prospect with 10 pro fights of less, undefeated hometown favorite Irvin Gonzalez, is on a fast track going into his June 10th headline fight in the third installment of the “New England’s Future” series, at the DCU Center (Exhibition Hall) in Worcester, Massachusetts.
“New England’s Future 3” is presented by Rivera Promotions Entertainment (RPE), which is owned and operated by retired three-time, two division world champion Jose Antonio Rivera and his son, Anthonee (A.J.) Rivera.
The 21-year-old Gonzalez (6-0, 6 KOs) takes on Raul Lopez (10-2-1, 5 KOs), of Bronx (NY), in an eight-round main event for the vacant Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) All-American super featherweight championship.
Pro boxing returns to the DCU Center for the first time in 11 years, ironically, when promoter Jose Antonio Rivera defeated Alejandro Garcia, by way of a 12-round unanimous decision, for the World Boxing Association (WBA) World super welterweight title.
“I am excited to watch Irvin’s boxing career flourish,” promoter Jose Rivera remarked. “He has all the tools to become a world champion. Fighting for the UBF championship will be the first of many and I am glad that we are able to give him this opportunity. I see big things for Irvin and I hope fans come out Saturday night, June 10th, to support him and the other local boxers.”
“This is a great opportunity for me,” Gonzalez said. “I’m blessed to be fighting in Worcester for my first title. It’s not a big title but it’s like taking baby steps to a world title. Since I started boxing at the Boys & Girls Club, I always wanted to be like Jose, a three-time world champion. Now, it’s my turn, and I’m fighting again in my city.”
Gonzalez has a perfect pro record: six rights, six wins by knockout. However, he’s only had fought a grand total of eight rounds, and June 10th he’s in a scheduled eight-round match. The well-spoken youngster isn’t concerned with the step up in rounds and opposition.
“I’ve been asked about that by a lot of media, trainers and other fighters,” he explained. “I’ve always trained like it’s for a world title fight, 12 rounds, so I’m not worried about going into deep water. I’m in magnificent shape, three weeks before the fight, and even in the amateurs I’ve always gotten stronger as the fight went along. In sparring, I get stronger, so going eight isn’t a problem for me.
“I don’t really know much about my opponent. He won a few national titles but hasn’t fought too often. I’ll see what he brings into the ring and then adjust. I know I’m taller.”
Gonzalez learned a lot when he was a sparring partner for Guillermo Rigondeaux in Florida that was supposed to be a six-week training camp that ended after three weeks due to Rigondeaux’ fight being cancelled.
“I learned a lot about different training methods that I now use,” Irvin continued. “His techniques are phenomenal. I was around a world champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist and I saw his work ethic. After all he’s accomplished, he still has a great work ethic, and I learned from him that a fighter need continue working like he does until the day it’s all over. It’s not all about money, it’s having fun every day, doing what we love.”
Randy Caballero to put NABF Super Bantamweight Title on the Line Against Oscar Negrete
Undefeated NABF Super Bantamweight Champion and Coachella native Randy “El Matador” Caballero (24-0, 14 KOs) will make his first title defense close to home as he takes on Los Angeles’ Oscar “Jaguar” Negrete (16-0, 6 KOs) at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in a 10-round main event for the June 30th edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN.
This marks the 50th show that Golden Boy Promotions has put on at Fantasy Springs.
Former IBF and WBO Featherweight Champion, Mexican actor and circus performer Jorge “El Maromero” Paez (79-14-5, 51 KOs) will be the VIP guest for this June 30th Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN card. Best known for a fight career spanning nearly 20 years and three weight divisions, Paez faced many of the boxing greats in the 1990’s including Oscar De La Hoya, Genaro Hernandez, Rafael Ruelas and Jesus Chavez. As the VIP guest of the night, Paez will be in attendance for the fights and will be on hand to meet fans; sign autographs and take pictures inside the Fantasy Springs Special Events Center before the ESPN broadcast begins. The meet-and-greet is open to the public with the purchase of a ticket to the event.
Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN will air live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes at 10 P.M. EST/7 P.M. PST
Caballero, a former IBF Bantamweight World Champion, looked impressive coming back after a long layoff on the inaugural edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN in March, taking a unanimous decision off of a game and rugged Jesus Ruiz. Now, Caballero takes on an undefeated fighter for only the second time in his career.
“I’ve told everyone who will listen that my goal is to regain a world championship belt, and this is another step on that path,” Caballero said. “I know my opponent is undefeated, but he’s never been in the ring with anyone close to my ability, and I’m confident that I’m going to take his “0” on June 30.”
Negrete has built a solid resume culminating with a shutout, unanimous decision over Victor Ruiz on Cinco de Mayo weekend in Las Vegas.
“I’m excited to compete for my first regional belt, especially on ESPN,” Negrete said. “People may overlook me, but after June 30, everyone will know that I am a force in the super bantamweight division.”
In the co-main event, standout amateur and WBC Youth Super Featherweight Champion Lamont Roach, Jr. (13-0, 5 KOs) of Washington, D.C. will defend his title for the first time against a soon-to-be-named opponent in a 10-round scrap.
Hoping to make TV time, heavy-handed Genaro “El Conde” Gamez (4-0, 3 KOs) from San Diego, California, returns to Fantasy Springs for the first time since knocking an opponent clear out of the ring last September. This time, he will take on Miguel Barajas (2-2, 1 KO) from Guadalajara, Mexico in a six-round match-up of super featherweights.
On the non-televised portion of the card, lightweight contender Ryan “Blue Chip” Martin (18-0, 11 KOs) of Chattanooga, Tennessee will bring his unblemished record to the desert in an eight-round fight against a soon-to-be-named opponent.
Welterweight KeAndre “The Truth” Gibson (16-1-1, 7 KOs) will look to come back from the first loss of his career when he takes on Dennis “The Spartan” Dauti (14-2, 7 KOs) of Naousa, Greece in an eight-round affair.
Hot off his professional debut, standout amateur Luis Feliciano (1-0) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and fighting out of Rancho Cucamonga will be back in action for a six-round super lightweight showdown against Baltazar Ramirez (3-2, 3 KOs) of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
And opening up the card, Philadelphia native Damon “No Smilin” Allen (11-0-1, 5 KOs) will put his undefeated record on the line in an eight-round match-up of lightweights against a soon-to-be-named opponent.
Tickets for the event will go on sale Friday, May 26 start at $25 and will be available at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino box office, by calling 1-800-827-2946, or by purchasing online at www.FantasySprings.com
Roman Gonzalez – Hot Chocolatito
By: Sean Crose
“Who is Chocolatito?”
This question, which was asked to me by the head of my department at the small college where I teach and tutor, took me by surprise. Why? Because my supervisor is no big fight fan. Indeed, she’s not even a casual fight fan. She doesn’t like boxing at all, truth be told. Yet she thought to ask me who this Chocolatito guy was.
That, fight fans, is what’s known as good news. At least it’s good news if you’re Roman Gonzalez, the 45-0 flyweight sensation whose nickname is, of course, Chocolatito. For boxers don’t cross over into the mainstream much these days. And that’s particularly true of smaller fighters, who even many legitimate fight fans ignore. For a contemporary academic to be curious about a smallish pugilist is very telling indeed. In short, it tells us that people are talking about Roman Gonzalez, so much so that the larger world outside of that occupied by fight nuts is starting to hear the man’s name.
And while it’s true Gonzalez will most likely never reach the popularity of a Mayweather or a Pacquiao, he may most certainly become a legitimate star regardless. How? Through generating interest and excitement. Needless to say, the man has been doing a wonderful job bringing the heat so far. Sure, he wasn’t able to knock out his foe last weekend, but McWilliams Arroyo was nothing if not a talented, determined and courageous foe.
Like Mike Tyson, Gonzalez will be forgiven for not knocking out everyone in his path. So long as he continues to excite, to thrill and to dominate, his popularity will likely continue to grow into the future. Why? Because Gonzalez never, ever sleeps on the job. He’s also becoming a bit synonymous with excitement when it comes to boxing’s core fan base. That has a lot to do with Gennady Golovkin.
And it has even more to do with Home Box Office.
For someone came up with the brilliant idea (that’s not sarcasm, by the way) to pair up Gonzalez’ matches with the ferocious and feared GGG’s. And as the Kazakh’s popularity has grown, so has Gonzalez’. Granted, neither is at the level of say, a Canelo Alvarez, but both men are doing an excellent job getting their names out there. While the bigger GGG is getting more of the spotlight, Gonzalez is earning the notice of fans who may have otherwise ignored a flyweight fighter, no matter how good that flyweight’s record might have been.
That’s saying something.
There truly is no such thing as an overnight sensation when it comes to boxing. James Douglas, arguably the biggest “overnight sensation” in history, had been kicking around the heavyweight division for what seemed like ages before he finally stunned the world by knocking out Mike Tyson. In other words, it generally takes time for careers to develop. Even though Gonzalez is now on the fast track, it will take a bit for him to reach his full potential as far as viewership numbers and paychecks are concerned.
Word is Gonzalez may soon headline his own card on HBO, however. If that’s not a big development, it’s frankly hard to say what is.