Boxing Insider Notebook: Juarez, Imam, Flores, Parker, Winters, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of February 4th to February 11th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Omar Juarez Greets Kids with Special Needs at the Tim Tebow Foundation’s Night to Shine
Undefeated super lightweight boxing sensation, Omar “El Relámpago” Juarez (7-0, 4 KOs), was a featured guest of honor at last Friday’s “A Night To Shine”, a prom-style event for special needs children presented by Down By The Border in association with the Tim Tebow Foundation, which took place on February 7, 2020.
Shoe Palace and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), proudly presented Omar at this very heartwarming and touching event that featured makeup stations, red carpet paparazzi entrances, and attendance by local and state-level dignitaries that made a night to remember for years to come.
As this event grows larger with each passing year, Juarez plans to be at every event. Omar saw nine hundred people in attendance, many of whom lined up to get a photo or autograph with him.
“This is such a great time and a special event,” said Omar Juarez, who is a rising prospect for PBC. “I look forward to attending this event every year as it is such a special event and so memorable for everyone involved, especially the kids. I want to thank Shoe Palace, PBC, Down by the Boarder, and the Tim Tebow Foundation for letting me be part of this event with their support.”
Amir Imam-Javier Molina, Gabriel Flores and Isaac Lowe Headline Wilder-Fury 2 Prelims
An exciting lineup of rising stars will enter the ring in undercard action leading up to the highly anticipated rematch between unbeaten WBC Heavyweight World Champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder and undefeated lineal champion Tyson “The Gypsy King” Fury headlining a historic, mega PPV event Saturday, February 22 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Wilder vs. Fury II Prelims will feature hard-hitting undefeated contender Subriel Matias in a super lightweight showdown against Petros Ananyan, plus super lightweight contender Amir Imam taking on Javier Molina.
Prelims will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT on FS1, ESPNEWS and in Spanish on FOX Deportes and ESPN3. ESPNEWS’ coverage will switch to ESPN at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
The Wilder vs. Fury II PPV begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and features former heavyweight world champion Charles Martin squaring off against former title challenger Gerald “El Gallo Negro” Washington for a 12-round IBF Heavyweight Title eliminator in the co-main event. WBO Junior Featherweight World Champion Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete, a.k.a “The Mexican Iron Man” will defend his title against Filipino contender Jeo Santisima in the PPV featured bout. Plus in the PPV opener, super welterweight sensation Sebastian “The Towering Inferno” Fundora will face 2016 Australian Olympian Daniel Lewis in a 10-round battle of unbeatens.
Tickets for the event are on sale now and can be purchased at www.mgmgrand.com or www.axs.com. The event is promoted by BombZquad Promotions, TGB Promotions, Top Rank and Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions. A Premier Boxing Champions presentation.
A pro since 2015, Matias (15-0, 15 KOs) has stopped every opponent he’s faced in the professional ranks, including three more knockout victories in 2019. The 27-year-old will be fighting in the U.S for the third time on February 22, and the first time in Las Vegas, as he looks for a big 2020 debut. The Fajardo, Puerto Rico native will take on the 31-year-old, Ananyan (14-2-2, 7 KOs), who made his U.S. debut in December 2019, losing a narrow majority decision against Kareem Martin after defeating Arkadi Harutyunyan in April 2019. Born in Abovyan, Armenia and training in Houston, Texas, Ananyan was unbeaten in his first 15 fights after turning pro in 2015.
“I’m very excited for this fight and thankful to my team for giving me this great opportunity,” said Matias. “Just like all of my other fights, I’m going to train to my maximum level, because no matter who the opponent is, we’re all chasing the same dream. I want to thank him for taking this fight, but I won’t let him stand in my way. We’re going to give the fans great action and on February 22, we will know who is the most prepared to win.”
“This is a moment that every boxer dreams about and I can’t wait to demonstrate my skills on a big show,” said Ananyan. “I’m training hard, learning my opponent’s style, his weaknesses and putting together a strategy for fight night. This is a very important fight for me, because with a win I will be able to make my dreams come true. It’s been a long road to achieve my dreams and I’m ready to take another big step on February 22.”
The fighting pride of Albany, N.Y., Imam (22-2, 19 KOs) has resumed his quest for a super lightweight world title. After promotional issues kept him out of the ring for nearly two years following his competitive March 2018 decision loss to Jose Ramirez for the vacant WBC super lightweight title, Imam came back in grand style last November, knocking out Marcos Mojica in four rounds. The Mojica fight was his first under the Top Rank banner, and he’ll return against promotional stablemate Molina (21-2, 9 KOs), a 2008 U.S. Olympian. Molina went 3-0 in 2019, most recently knocking out Hiroki Okada at 1:05 of the opening round in their ESPN-televised showdown.
“I feel blessed to be fighting on the undercard of the biggest fight of the year,” said Imam. “I am prepared to shine and take full advantage of the opportunity and the exposure. I’ve had a great camp in preparation for this fight. I’m excited to get in the ring and I feel stronger and more prepared than ever. Defeating Javier Molina will put myself back in the conversation as one of the top super lightweights in the world.”
“I’m looking forward to fighting in an event as big as this one,” said Molina. “I know I’m facing a tough fighter in Amir Imam, but these are the type of fights that I need to earn a world title shot. I’m excited and ready to make a statement on February 22.”
The action-packed non-televised lineup includes unbeaten prospect Rolando Romero battling fellow unbeaten Arturs Ahmetovs in an eight-round lightweight fight, plus rising prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. in an eight-round lightweight affair against Matt Conway.
Rounding out the card is sensational 17-year-old prospect Vito Mielnicki Jr. in a four-round welterweight attraction against Corey Champion, and unbeaten featherweight Isaac Lowe squaring off against Mexico’s Alberto Guevara.
Fighting out of Las Vegas, Nevada, Romero (10-0, 9 KOs) added three knockout victories to his tally in 2019, including a highlight-reel knockout win on FS1 in April when he stopped Andres Figueroa. A fast-rising prospect in the Mayweather Promotions stable, the 24-year-old will look to extend his five-fight knockout streak on February 22. He will take on the 30-year-old Ahmetovs (5-0, 2 KOs), who turned pro in March 2019 and picked up five victories throughout the year. Ahmetovs was born in Riga, Latvia and fights out of Delray Beach, Florida.
The 19-year-old Flores (16-0, 6 KOs) is one of the sport’s rising stars, an amateur prodigy who signed with Top Rank at the age of 16. Already a proven ticket-seller in his hometown of Stockton, California, he will be making his fourth Las Vegas appearance. Last September, he shut out Miguel Angel Aispuro over six rounds on the Fury vs. Otto Wallin undercard at T-Mobile Arena. Conway (17-1, 7 KOs) is a five-year pro whose only defeat came via split decision to Francisco Esparza last October.
Still a senior in high school, the 17-year-old Mielnicki (4-0, 3 KOs) fights out of his hometown of Roseland, New Jersey and turned pro in July 2019 after a stellar amateur career. Mielnicki has shown his immense skill in back-to-back performances on FOX PBC Prelims, stopping Marklin Bailey on the Wilder vs. Ortiz II prelims show on FS2 in November, then defeating Preston Wilson in his 2020 debut in January on FS1. He will take on the 21-year-old Champion, who fights out of Charlottesville, Virginia and has fought three times since turning pro in July 2019.
Lowe (19-0-3, 6 KOs), Fury’s close friend and training partner, is a former Commonwealth featherweight champion who has won five in a row since a 2018 draw against Ryan Walsh for the British featherweight title. A fan-friendly pressure fighter, Lowe was victorious on the undercards of Fury’s last two bouts and hopes to move closer to a world title shot with another win. Guevara (27-5, 12 KOs), a native of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico, is a two-time bantamweight world title challenger who pushed then-champion Leo Santa Cruz the distance in December 2012. He fought Shakur Stevenson last July on short notice and gave a valiant effort before being stopped in the third round.
Efe Ajagboa Takes on Razvan Cojanu on March 7th
Undefeated heavyweight sensation Efe Ajagba will take on former title challenger Razvan Cojanu in the 10-round co-main event of FOX PBC Fight Night and on FOX Deportes Saturday, March 7 from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™.
The night of heavyweight action begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and is headlined by undefeated Polish star and Brooklyn native Adam Kownacki looking to thrill his hometown crowd when he takes on Robert Helenius in a 12-round WBA Heavyweight Title eliminator. The opening attraction will see rising heavyweight Frank Sánchez step in to face Philadelphia’s Joey Dawejko in a 10-round battle.
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com and barclayscenter.com. Tickets are also available for purchase now at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center.
The non-televised undercard lineup will include exciting Brooklyn native Zachary “Zungry” Ochoa (20-1, 7 KOs) in an eight-round super lightweight fight and undefeated Cuban heavyweight Robert Alfonso (19-0-1, 9 KOs) in an eight or 10-round attraction against Puerto Rico’s Carlos Negrón (20-3, 16 KOs).
Rounding out the action is heavyweight prospect Steven Torres (2-0, 2 KOs) in a four-round bout and the pro debut of Boston’s Francis Hogan in a four-round middleweight fight.
Nigeria’s Ajagba (12-0, 10 KOs) has increased his opposition in his recent fights and passed those tests by getting off the canvas to stop Iago Kiladze in December 2019 and defeating fellow 2016 Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen by 10-round unanimous decision in July, both on FOX. The 25-year-old Ajagba gained widespread notoriety in August 2018 when his opponent, Curtis Harper, walked out of the ring after touching gloves to start the first round. Ajagba won the fight without throwing a punch as Harper was disqualified. Living in Stafford, Texas and training with renowned veteran trainer Ronnie Shields, Ajagba will make his 2020 debut and third career appearance at Barclays Center on March 7, after four victories in 2019.
Born in Romania and now residing in Burbank, California, Cojanu (17-6, 9 KOs) most recently won a decision over Tamaz Zadishvili in October 2019. The 32-year-old has fought professionally since 2011 and rebounded from a defeat in his first pro fight to win 16 of his next 17 bouts. He defeated Zhiyu Wu in 2016 to earn a title fight against Joseph Parker, which he lost by decision in 2017. Cojanu would then go on to challenge top heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz, plus rising contenders Daniel Dubois and Nathan Gorman, in three straight fights from 2018 until his most recent triumph.
Joseph Parker to Face Winters in Frisco
Joseph Parker will return to action against Shawndell Winters at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday February 29, live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK.
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Parker (26-2 20 KOs) is back on the hunt to regain his World champion status having been forced out of an October clash with Derek Chisora in London after a spider bite on his leg led to an illness that robbed the Kiwi of a fight with the all-action Brit.
The former WBO ruler had teed up a mouth-watering clash with ‘Del Boy’ having stopped Alex Leapai in the tenth round of their clash in Providence, RI in June, the first fight of a three-fight deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA.
Parker will look to reignite his charge to elite level and World title showdowns in Texas against Winters, the Illinois man ranked #14 with the WBA and looking to extend his KO run having taken the unbeaten record of Canadian-Ukrainian Oleksandr Teslenko to land the NABA title in Ontario, Canada in September and following that with another stoppage win on enemy turf with a fifth round victory over Poland’s Sergeij Werwejko in November.
Winters, who has KO’d 12 of his 13 wins, will be looking to continue his winning streak and scupper Parker’s plans to become a two-weight World champion, but Parker plans to make an explosive statement on a stacked card in the Lone Star State.
“I am delighted to be back in action on this huge bill in Texas,” said Parker. It was frustrating to be ruled out of the Chisora fight in October, especially in such an unusual way, but I have been on fire in the gym in Las Vegas and we’re ready to get back to business. The division is moving at a great pace and this is a perfect opportunity to show the world that I am one of the elite players in the division.
“Shawndell is on a great run and I know he’ll bring it on February 29 – but I am ready to show that I will become a two-time World champion in 2020 and that starts with a dominant and destructive display in Frisco.”
“This is the biggest fight of my career and I am going to make it count,” said Winters. “I am used to being the underdog, it’s something that I thrive on and if Joseph Parker underestimates me, he’s going to be in for a bad night – because I am going in there to take him out.
“I want to thank Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Boxing USA, DiBella Entertainment and Be Def Sports for the opportunity and special thanks to champion Joseph for taking me as a worthy opponent – but he will live to regret it!”
“It’s great to have Joseph back in action early in the year,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “The Heavyweight division is red-hot right now, and it’s important for Joseph to make a statement and remind the champions and fellow challengers that he’s coming for them – but Shawndell is on a roll and will. be desperate to take a huge scalp in the shape of the Kiwi on a massive night in Texas.”
“Shawndell is a very tough competitor who recently moved up to Heavyweight. He’s already pulled off two consecutive upsets against favored opponents, and the fight before that should have been a third,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “He’s looking for his biggest upset yet against former World champion Joseph Parker. This is a tremendous opportunity for this ex-Cruiserweight Rocky from Harvey, Illinois. I believe he is a live underdog.”
Parker’s clash with Winters is part of a huge night of action in Texas topped by a mouthwatering Welterweight clash between Mikey Garcia (39-1 30 KOs) and Jessie Vargas (29-2-2 11 KOs).
Two huge World title bouts feature as Britain’s longest reigning World champion Kal Yafai (26-0 15 KOs) puts his WBA World Super-Flyweight title on the line against the former pound-for-pound king and four weight World ruler Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (48-2 40 KOs) and rising Mexican sensation Julio Cesar Martinez (15-1 12 KOs) makes the first defense of his WBC World Flyweight title against unbeaten European champion Jay Harris (17-0 9 KOs) – with more fights to be confirmed for the card imminently.
Stevie Ortiz-Damon Allen Headlines Philly Special on March 27th
It should be another all-Philly classic when lightweights Stevie Ortiz and Damon Allen collide over 10 rounds for Ortiz’ Pennsylvania state lightweight championship on Friday evening, March 27, at the 2300 Arena.
The Ortiz-Allen showdown will headline a seven-bout card dubbed Philly Special by Raging Babe, aka Michelle Rosado. First fight will start at 7:30 p.m.
“The recipe for success in Philly always has been Philly vs. Philly,” said Rosado. “It’s what made Philly a great fight town. The hard part today is getting Philly fighters to fight each other so I’m thankful that Steve Ortiz and Damon Allen bought in.
“This fight is happening at the right time for both of them. The winner can break into the world rankings.”
Ortiz won the vacant state 135-pound title last year when he scored a pair of knockdowns en route to a unanimous eight-round decision over another Philadelphian, Jeremy Cuevas, at the Met.
The 26-year-old Ortiz last boxed Sept. 20 at the Parx Casino in Bensalem, PA, when he got off the canvas twice to earn an eight-round majority decision over Alejandro Salinas, of Youngstown, OH. Scores were 75-75, 76-74, 76-74.
A pro since 2015, Ortiz is 11-0, 3 KOs, and he has boxed only two men with losing records. Ortiz is managed and trained by Chino Rivas and promoted by DiBella Entertainment.
“It’s a big fight because we are both very talented,” Ortiz said. “It will draw a lot of attention because of our amateur backgrounds. A lot of people always wanted to see us fight.
“As amateurs, Damon was always the top guy in his division. I was the top in my division. We went to the National Golden Gloves together and we fought great fights. This match-up is going to bring the best out of us.”
“This is a great opportunity for Stevie Ortiz in a hometown, Philly Special main event against Damon Allen,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “This is reminiscent of the great Philly fights of old. The card is stacked and will be a great representation of Philly boxing and the best of local shows. I look forward to working with Raging Babe to secure a television or streaming partner for the March 27 Philly Special. Philly Special will be special and I can’t wait for fans to see it.”
Allen, 27, last boxed Oct. 25 at the 2300 Arena when he scored a unanimous six-round decision over Dieumerci Nzau, of Silver Spring, MD. That marked Allen’s first fight in his hometown in more than four years.
A pro since 2013, Allen is 16-1-1, 5 KOs. He owns a pair of victories over Mexican veterans Gamaliel Diaz and Martin Honorio.
Allen is managed by Tim VanNewhouse and David McWater, and he is trained by Brian McIntyre.
“I never wanted to be the best in the city; I want to be the best period,” Allen said. “I know he’s looking at it like it’s a big fight. This isn’t my first rodeo in a fight like this. I know what to bring and what not to bring. My mind is straight. He is going to be game.
“I have more experience in and out of the ring. He’s just another fighter in front of me. I live a boxing lifestyle. I told him to ‘come ready and prepared’ because I’m coming 110 percent.”
Philly Special is promoted by Raging Babe, in association with DiBella Entertainment. Hall-of-Fame promoter, Russell Peltz will handle the matchmaking duties.
Blair Cobbs Media Workout Quotes
Undefeated NABF Welterweight Champion Blair “The Flair” Cobbs (14-0-1, 10 KOs) hosted a Las Vegas media workout Saturday in preparation for his upcoming bout against Samuel Kotey (23-2, 16 KOs) which takes place Friday, February 14 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Cobbs, who is managed by Greg Hannely of Prince Ranch Boxing and promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, will make his 2020 debut as part of the of Ryan Garcia versus Francisco Fonseca card, which will air live on DAZN at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT.
Here is what Cobbs had to say Saturday from the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame in Las Vegas:
“This camp has been amazing. I’ve had nothing but the greatest sparring partners to get prepared for this upcoming bout. My trainer Brandon Woods has been sharpening up my tools and I’m ready to preform at my best on fight night. Everyone can expect to see the best Blair “The Flair” Cobbs possible. This is a sport filled with entertainment and I call myself “The most exciting man in Boxing”.
“On Valentines Day, I’m going to steal the show and all the fans watching on DAZN will see an amazing performance from me. My opponent, Samuel Kotey, is a tough hombre who is coming to win, but I have other plans for him. There is nothing he can do that will outmatch my skill and desire to win this fight.”
“It’s been a wonderful experience having the Mexican fans behind me being that they know that’s where I first learned how to box when I fled to Guadalajara, Mexico. It’s been a hell of a journey coming back to the United States from Mexico, where I learned to fight the Mexican style, always throwing big shots to entertain the fans. Fighting in the amateurs in Mexico, is like fighting in the pros. Sometimes we didn’t use headgear. It was crazy, but it made me the fighter I am today.”
GH3 Promotions Fighters in Action this Weekend
Six members of the GH3 Promotions stable will be in action this weekend, as the company will have three fighters featured on ShoBox: The New Generation card on SHOWTIME (10 PM ET/PT) on Friday night from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia.
In the main event, GH3’s Thomas Mattice (15-1-1, 11 KOs) of Cleveland, Ohio takes on Isaac Cruz (18-1-1, 14 KOs) of Mexico City in a 10-round lightweight bout.
In the co-feature, Adam Lopez (19-3-2, 9 KOs) of San Antonio, Texas battles undefeated Raeese Aleem (15-0, 9 KOs) of Las Vegas in an eight-round super bantamweight contest.
Opening up the television portion of the card will be Derrick Colemon Jr. (11-0, 8 KOs) of Detroit taking on fellow undefeated fighter Joseph Jackson (15-0, 12 KOs) of Greensboro, N.C., in an eight-round super welterweight bout.
Before the camera’s begin rolling, undefeated heavyweight Norman Neely (5-0, 5 KOs) of Paterson, N.J., takes on Jersey City’s Nicoy Clarke (2-5) in Neeley’s first scheduled six-round bout.
Also Friday night in Philadelphia, middleweight Ian Green (12-2, 9 KOs) of Paterson, N.J., takes on Ray Barringer (6-3, 4 KOs) of Cleveland, Ohio in a six-round middleweight fight.
Saturday night in Nashville, Tenn., former National Golden Gloves champion and undefeated Roney Hines (7-0, 5 KOs) of Cleveland battles Johnnie Langston (8-1, 3 KOs) of Sarasota, Fla., in a six-round heavyweight bout.
“We have all our guys in tough this weekend,” said Vito Mielnicki of GH3 Promotions. “I am really looking forward to seeing these fights, and how our fighters perform. A couple of the guys, namely Mattice and Lopez are on the cusp of some big opportunities. I think Colemon has a chance to establish himself as a top prospect. Green has won on ShoBox before and wants to get back there. And the two big heavyweights, Hines and Neeley, are taking the next steps on becoming top-prospects themselves.”
Richard Medina and Hector Coronado Score KO Wins in Mexico
Prince Ranch Boxing’s undefeated blue-chip prospects picked up big wins tonight as featherweight Richard Medina (7-0, 6 KO), and welterweight Hector Coronado (5-0, 4 KOs), both picked up spectacular wins on Friday, February 7, 2020, at the Centro de Convenciones in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico
The 19-year old Medina, who resides in San Antonio, TX, picked up a first-round TKO victory.
“I worked hard and had the performance I envisioned,” said Medina. “My promoter TMB & PRB Entertainment have done an excellent job with my career and my performances in the ring are showing. Between Rick Morones and Alex Draghici getting me fights, Greg Hannley of Prince Ranch Boxing managing me, I know I’m in good hands and I feel unstoppable.”
Coronado, a resident of Del Rio, TX, scored a second-round knockout.
“I am focused on becoming a world champion and this was the type of performance that puts me on that path,” said Coronado “I’m staying busy, and I am very focused. I am looking to fight a lot this year. I have a great team, who I know will keep me active and put me in the best possible positions.”
“Both Medina and Coronado are fighters with the skillset and abilities to be in position for great opportunities down the road,” said manager Greg Hannely, president of Prince Ranch Boxing. “What stands out about both fighters is their punching power, with some incredible knockouts early in their career, which makes them very fan-friendly.”
“These kids are both putting the time and effort into their training camps to have good performances,” said Rick Morones, of TMB & PRB Entertainment. “Medina and Coronado are crowd-pleasing fighters, who are looking to put on a show. Their work ethic is apparent in their fighting style.”
“It so exciting being a part of both of these young fighters’ careers,” said Alex Draghici, of TMB & PRB Entertainment. “They both leave everything in the ring, and the fans can tell by the type of performances they put on. I see only bigger and bigger things for them in the future.”
Boxing Insider Notebook: Roy Jones, Yarde, Kovalev, Beterbiev, Gvozdyk, Imam, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of August 13th to August 20th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Unbeaten Champions Beterbiev and Gvozdyk Set to Unify Titles October 18th in Philadelphia
Two very bad men are set for an old-fashioned Philadelphia throwdown.
WBC light heavyweight world champion Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk and IBF light heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev will fight in a highly anticipated title unification bout Friday, Oct. 18 at the Liacouras Center.
Beterbiev and Gvozdyk enter this can’t-miss clash with a combined record of 31-0 with 28 knockouts.
Gvozdyk-Beterbiev will headline a special edition of Top Rank on ESPN beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
The undercard will stream live on ESPN+ — the industry-leading sports streaming service — beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Peltz Boxing, tickets priced at $150, $90, $75 and $50 (not including applicable fees) go on sale Friday, Aug. 23 at 12 p.m. ET and can be purchased at the Liacouras Center Box Office, www.liacourascenter.com or charge by phone at 800-298-4200.
“This could very well be the fight of the year,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “These are two evenly matched, undefeated light heavyweight champions. There is nothing better in the sport of boxing.”
“My first goal was to win a light heavyweight world title. Now, I want to unify the belts, and that mission starts with Artur Beterbiev,” Gvozdyk said. “This is going to be a spectacular fight, one that the fans will enjoy. The fans asked for this fight, and we will deliver. One thing I know is that I will be the unified champion. I have the best trainer, Teddy Atlas, in my corner. This is our third fight together, and under his guidance, I will continue to get better.”
“I wish to thank Top Rank and my opponent, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, for making this unification bout possible and giving the fans around the world what they want,” Beterbiev said. “This will be a great fight between the two champions who aspire to become the undisputed light heavyweight world champion. I am looking forward to stepping into the ring on October 18.”
Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs) will be making the second defense of the title he won from longtime champion Adonis Stevenson in a come-from-behind 11th-round KO last December in Quebec City, Canada. He followed up the Stevenson win with a dominant fifth-round TKO March 30 over Doudou Ngumbu in Philadelphia, where a large Ukrainian contingent showed up to cheer on their countryman. Gvozdyk captured a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, where he was teammates with current professional stablemate and pound-for-pound great Vasiliy Lomachenko. A five-year pro, Gvozdyk climbed the ranks with victories over established veterans like Isaac Chilemba, Yunieski Gonzalez and Nadjib Mohammedi.
Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs), a former Russian amateur star, has a come-forward, take-no-prisoners ring approach that has made him the only current world champion with a 100 percent KO ratio. He won the vacant IBF world title with a 12th-round TKO over Enrico Koelling, preserving his perfect KO record by stopping Koelling with 27 seconds left in the bout. His two title defenses have lasted a total of nine rounds, and most recently, he walked through longtime contender Radivoje “Hot Rod“ Kalajdzic in five rounds in the main event of the May 4 Top Rank on ESPN telecast.
Amir Imam Signs with Top Rank
Amir Imam, a former super lightweight world challenger known for his explosive knockouts, has signed a multi-year promotional agreement with Top Rank.
Imam (21-2, 18 KOs) has been out of the ring since March 17, 2018, the evening he challenged Jose Ramirez for the vacant WBC super lightweight world title. He lost via unanimous decision in a brutal toe-to-toe battle to Ramirez, who is currently the unified WBC/WBO 140-pound world champion.
Imam will campaign at either super lightweight or welterweight, and he recently enlisted the services of South Florida-based manager Peter Kahn. He is expected to make his long-awaited ring return later this year.
“I am grateful to have joined the best promotional company in boxing. I have learned a lot from my past fights and have made positive changes that will allow me to succeed as I move forward to my goal of becoming a world champion,” Imam said. “I’m eager to get back into the ring before the end of the year and showcase my skills as part of the Top Rank team. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for me.”
“Amir Imam is a naturally gifted fighter who can best be defined as potential unrealized to this point in his career,” Kahn said. “He has the physical and mental tools to be a world champion. He’s a perfect fit for Top Rank. Whether Amir continues to campaign at super lightweight or welterweight remains to be seen, but the fans will see a rejuvenated, well-prepared Amir who is on a mission to be a world champion.”
Imam, from Albany, New York, knocked out 12 out of his first 13 opponents in the paid ranks, and won an eight-round unanimous decision in 2014 over Yordenis Ugas, who is currently one of the welterweight division’s top contenders. He scored highlight-reel knockouts over Jason Robinson and Fidel Maldonado before being stopped in shocking fashion by Adrian Granados in 2015. Imam rebounded with three consecutive knockout wins before locking horns with Ramirez in a memorable clash at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Carlos Takam Signs with Star Boxing
Star Boxing is excited to officially announce the signing of distinguished heavyweight title contender CARLOS TAKAM (36-5-1 28KO’s) of France, by way of Douala, Cameroon. Standing at 6’3″, the heavy handed, Takam has taken on some of the best in the business, in the heavyweight division. Star Boxing revealed the signing last week on its social media platforms.
Takam was an amateur standout in Cameroon. In 2003, he competed in the All-African Games in Nigeria, finishing with a bronze medal. In 2004, Takam qualified for the Athens, Greece Summer Olympics by earning Gold at the AIBA African Olympic Qualifying tournament in Morocco. Later that year, representing his native country of Cameroon, Takam fought in the Summer Olympic games in Athens, Greece, making it to the sweet sixteen.
Turning pro in 2005, just one year after the Olympics, Takam was an immediate force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division. After securing a record of 23-1 with 18KO’s, Takam defeated GBENGA OLUOKUN (then 18-5 12KO’s) by TKO to earn his first professional title, becoming the WBO International African Heavyweight Champion. Since then, Takam has held multiple titles, including the WBC Silver World Championship, the IBF Intercontinental Championship, and the WBF World Championship.
From 2011 on, Takam fought a gruesome list of boxing’s best heavyweights which include, heavyweight world title challengers, FRANS BOTHA (then 48-6-3 29KO’S), MICHAEL GRANT (then 48-7 36KO’S), TONY THOMPSON (then 39-4 27KO’s), JOSEPH PARKER (Then 18-0 16KO’s), DERECK CHISORA (then 28-8 21KO’s) as well as former world champion, ALEXANDER POVETKIN (then 27-1 20KO’s). In 2017, Takam challenged ANTHONY JOSHUA (19-0 19KO’s) in the biggest, bout of his career, for the WBA, IBF and IBO World Heavyweight Titles.
In Takam’s last bout in December 2018, he defeated German prospect, SENAD GASHI (then 17-1 17KO’s) who was favored in the bout. Gashi was a 5x Saarland Champion, 2x Gold International Boxing champion, 2x Gold German Open champion, amongst many other accolades in the amateurs. The bout took place at the 02 Arena in London, ending in a seventh round TKO victory for Takam.
Takam said this about signing with Star Boxing, “I’m very happy to sign with Joe and Star Boxing. It’s almost one year now I’m free agent. I didn’t sign with any promoter. I have had several propositions on the table, but with Joe [DeGuardia], the way I see, I have good feeling that we can achieve my potential together. I have big ambition in boxing for these coming years. Because I was taking my time looking around before to make any decision. I am ready to do the job.”
Manager of Carlos Takam, DWIGHT YARDE, had this to say about the opportunities that are ahead for Team Takam with Star Boxing, “Exciting times in the heavyweight division! I have known Joe [DeGuardia] for some 20 years and truly believe he is the man to take Team Takam to the heavyweight title. With Carlos’ ability as a fighter, nothing can stop us now. Heavyweight division watch out – we are coming.”
Star Boxing CEO, JOE DEGUARDIA said this about the signing of Takam, “Carlos is a world class heavyweight who has faced some of the best in the division. Throughout boxing history, the heavyweight division has always cultivated the most buzz, and that buzz is back.” DeGuardia continued, “I think highly of Carlos. The hard-core boxing experts know how good he is, but now he will show the casual fans and will surprise many as to how good he can still be. We are really excited to bring some big things to the table for him, and are confident that a heavyweight championship of the world bout is in his future.”
Kovalev-Yarde Headlines Special Afternoon of Boxing on ESPN+
WBO light heavyweight champion and future Hall of Famer Sergey Kovalev will face off against his hard-hitting mandatory challenger, Anthony Yarde, in a highly anticipated showdown Saturday, Aug. 24 from Traktor Arena in Kovalev’s hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia.
Kovalev-Yarde will stream live and exclusively in the United States on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT. The stream will also showcase the co-feature bout between unbeaten cruiserweight contender Aleksei Papin (11-0, 10 KOs) and former world title challenger Ilunga Makabu (25-2, 24 KOs). Fans in the U.S. can sign up at www.ESPNplus.com or on the ESPN App.
“I am thrilled to fight for the first time in my hometown of Chelyabinsk,” Kovalev said. “It is a dream to defend my WBO title in front of all my friends and family back home. I am also thankful ESPN+ will show the fight to my fans in the U.S. Thank you to Igor Altushkin, Egis Klimas, Main Events and Top Rank for making this dream a reality, and thank you to Anthony Yarde for agreeing to fight in my home.”
“Sergey has done just about everything a professional fighter can do, other than fight in his own hometown,” said promoter Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. “One of the sport’s greatest road warriors, Sergey will finally get the chance to salute his legion of fans in Chelyabinsk, where he grew up. It will be an exciting, long overdue homecoming for Sergey. And I am so happy to confirm that Sergey’s many fans in the U.S. will be able to watch this great event only on ESPN+. I wish to thank Igor Altushkin, German Titov and everyone at RCC for making this all possible. I also wish to thank Bob Arum and Top Rank for their continued support.”
Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) is a veteran of 15 world title bouts and has won the light heavyweight world title on three occasions. A former unified champion, he revived his career in February by scoring a wide points win over Eleider Alvarez, the man who’d knocked him out less than six months prior. One of this generation’s most decorated champions, Kovalev holds victories over Jean Pascal, Nathan Cleverly and living legend Bernard Hopkins. In Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs), he faces a London native with a giant hand who is taking a giant step up in competition. Yarde has won his last 16 bouts by knockout, most recently stopping Travis Reeves in five rounds in a bout that streamed on ESPN+. This will be only his second pro bout outside of England.
Roy Jones Junior Boxing Announces Deal with Eldorado Group to Co-Promote Multiple Installments on UFC Fight Pass
Roy Jones Jr. (RJJ) Boxing Promotions has reached an exclusive agreement with Eldorado Group to co-promote multiple installments of “RJJ Boxing on UFC FIGHT PASS®,” commencing October 25 with Joey Gilbert Promotions in Reno, Nevada.
The Oct. 25th show in Reno will be streamed live and exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS, the world’s leading digital subscription service for combat sports, starting at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT, from a venue to be determined.
“Everyone has seen all the excitement the Eldorado Group has going on,” RJJ Boxing CEO and Co-Founder Keith Veltre said. “Signing a deal of this magnitude is sending a strong message to the public that Eldorado Group wants to deliver the best in combat sports to its customers. Adding Joey Gilbert as a co-promoter only adds to the growing excitement RJJ Boxing Promotions has in the store for the future. Joey is a massive asset to what we are doing. Roy and I are super happy that he’s part of the team.”
In addition to being a combat sports promoter, Gilbert is a criminal defense and personal injury lawyer in Reno, as well as a sports agent and motivational speaker. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Nevada, where he was an outstanding amateur boxer, double majoring in English Literature and Political Science, and he went on to graduate from Thomas Jefferson Law School in San Diego.
Now retired as a boxer, Gilbert fought professionally from 2000-2010, compiling a 20-3 (15 KOs) record. He gained tremendous exposure participating in popular reality television series, The Contender, Season One.
“I am thrilled to bring professional boxing back to Reno,” CEO Joey Gilbert commented. “Reno has always been a fight town. I benefitted from this as both an amateur and professional fighter. I am beyond delighted to be involved in this endeavor with Roy Jones, Jr., who I have always held in such high regard, and looked up to as a fighter.
“I have been thoroughly impressed with the RJJ Boxing executive team and CEO Keith Veltre, who certainly produces one of the highest-quality and exciting boxing shows that I have ever seen. Together with UFC FIGHT PASS, we will absolutely impress and exceed expectations of all local fight fans, and The Row will be hosting this exciting opportunity. This will be one of many new fighting opportunities for our community to enjoy. I am excited that Eldorado Resorts International threw its proverbial hat in the ring to support this program. It’s safe to say that I can see this being the first fight series of many across numerous El Dorado International properties in the United States.”
The fight card will be announced at a future date.
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Results: Ramirez and Gvozdyk Win at Madison Square Garden
By: Ken Hissner
At Madison Square Garden on St. Patricks Day Saturday night over ESPN Top Rank Promotions put on a good seven fight promotion with two title fights including Jose Carlos Ramirez and Amir Imam in the Main Event.
Super Lightweight Jose Carlos Ramirez, 22-0 (16), of Avenal, CA, won a spirited fight in defeating Amir “Young Master” Imam, 21-2 (18), of Albany, NY, out of Davie, FL, for the vacant WBC World Super Lightweight title over 12 rounds.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
In the first round Imam opened up with a combination. Halfway through the round Imam landed a right uppercut to the chin of Ramirez rocking him. It was a spirited round. The second round Ramirez landed half a dozen unanswered punches. Imam used a very effective jab in the round. Ramirez countered an Imam jab. In the third round Ramirez drove Imam into the ropes with body shots. Imam showed quicker hands while Ramirez more power. Both scored well at the end of the round.
In the fourth round of a competitive round it looked like Imam won his first round. In the fourth round both landed left hooks. Halfway through the round Ramirez landed three left hooks to the body and head of Imam. In the fifth round Ramirez dug several left hooks to the body of Imam. Midway Ramirez rocked Imam with a right hand to the chin forcing him to clinch. Near the end of the round a chopping right from Ramirez to the head of Imam got his attention. In the sixth round the action continued with Ramirez pressing the fight and Imam countering at times.
In the seventh round Ramirez continued coming forward out working Imam. Ramirez ended the round with a solid right to the chin of Imam. In the eighth round Imam landed several right hands to the chin of Ramirez. Ramirez landed two rights to the chin of Imam who had his back to the ropes. Both landed good left hooks to the body. In the ninth round Ramirez drove Imam into the ropes with a flurry of punches. Imam worked the body of Ramirez who had blood showing from his mouth.
In the tenth round Imam landed a triple jab to the chin of Ramirez driving him backwards. A Ramirez hard left hook drew blood from the nose of Imam. Ramirez landed several punches to the head of Imam. In the eleventh round Imam landed a triple jab to the chin of Ramirez but was countered by a double left hook to the body and head by Ramirez. Ramirez drove Imam into the ropes.
Ramirez countered a jab with a left hook and right to the chin of Imam. Both were landing punches at the bell. In the twelfth and final round Ramirez drove Imam backwards with a double jab followed with a right to the chin of Imam. They were landing punches at the bell with referee Ricky Gonzalez getting between them at the bell.
Judge McKaie had it 117-111, DeLuca 115-113 and Steward 120-108 This writer had it 118-112.
Light heavyweight Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk, 15-0 (12), of UKR and Oxnard, CA, won a lopsided decision over Mehdi Amar, 34-6-2 (16), of Marseille, FR, for the interim WBC Light Heavyweight Title over 12 rounds.
In the first round Gvozdyk presses Amar in a battle of jabs for the most part. In the second round Amar landed a left hook to chin of Gvozdyk within ten seconds. Both boxers exchanged combinations to head. Gvozdyk landed a double left hook to the body of Amar. Good round of action with Amar landing the last punch, a left hook to the chin of Gvozdyk. In the third round Gvozdyk landed a lead straight right to the chin of Amar early in the round. Amar landed a 3-punch combination to chin and body of Gvozdyk. Gvozdyk landed a combination just prior to the bell.
In the fourth round Gvozdyk landed a flurry of punches driving Amar back against the ropes. Halfway through the round Gvozdyk landed a power right to the chin of Amar knocking his head back.
Amar landed a good left hook to the chin of Gvozdyk prior to the bell. In the fifth round Gvozdyk landed a 3-punch combination to the body and head of Amar. Amar worked on the body of Gvozdyk. In the sixth round Amar landed a chin followed by a right uppercut to the chin of Gvozdyk. Gvozdyk continued to control the fight.
In the seventh round Amar landed a good 3-punch combination to the body and head of Gvozdyk. A stiff jab from Gvozdyk knocked out the mouthpiece of Amar. Prior to the bell both landed punches and fell into the first clinch of the fight for referee Arthur Mercante, Jr. to separate the boxers. In the eighth round Gvozdyk landed a 3-punch combination to the head of Amar. Amar took the fight on 5 weeks notice after three opponents turned down the fight. Amar landed a good right to the chin of Gvozdyk. Gvozdyk had swelling over the right eye.
In the ninth round it continued in the favor of Gvozdyk. Several clinche’s in the round of a really clean bout. Gvozdyk landed half a dozen punches prior to the bell. In the tenth round Amar knowing he was behind tried to be more aggressive but couldn’t out punch Gvozdyk. In the eleventh round Amar landed a flurry of punches backing Gvozdyk up several steps. Amar landed a good left hook to the head of Gvozdyk just prior to the end of the round.
In the twelfth and final round for the first time in the fight Amar started moving away from Gvozdyk avoiding his punches. Gvozdyk lands a flurry of punches causing a cut by the left eye of Amar who came back with a left hook of his own.
Judge Morgan had it 119-112, Taylor 116-112 and Hazzard, Jr. 117-111. This writer had it 120-108.
Lightweight Felix “El Diamante” Verdejo, 23-1 (15), of San Juan, PR, lost in the tenth an final round to Antonio Lozada, Jr., 39-2 (33), of Tijuana, MEX,
Super Featherweight Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz, 23-0 (15), of Barranquitas, PR, stopped Braulio “El Chavo” Rodriguez, 19-3 (17), of Santo Domingo, DR, at 0:28 of the fourth round for WBO NABO title.
Two-time Olympian 2016 Bronze Medalist “Irish” Michael “Mick” Conlan, 6-0 (5), of Belfast Ireland, stopped David Berma, 15-3 (14), of Budapest, Hungary, at 1:00 of the second round.
In the first round Berman pressed as Conlan countered. Conlan switched to southpaw midway. Conlan landed a pair of straight left hands to the chin of Berman. A wicked left uppercut to the mid-section by Conlan dropped Berman for a count of nine by referee Eddie Claudio. In the second round a body shot from Conlan dropped Berman. Conlan went right after Berman causing referee Claudio to call a halt.
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Preview: Ramirez vs. Imam, Conlan vs. Berna, Gvozdyk vs. Amar
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Top Rank Boxing will return to the Theater at Madison Square Garden to televise three fights on ESPN for a St. Patrick’s Day Boxing special.
The WBC Lightweight World Title as well as the WBC Interim Light Heavyweight World Title will be on the line and televised. Irish Olympic Hero Michael Conlan will also be fighting on the televised portion of the card.
The untelevised undercard will feature some of Top Rank’s best prospects, including Christopher Diaz and Felix Verdejo.
The following is a preview of the three televised bouts on the card.
Michael Conlan (5-0) vs. David Berna (15-2); Featherweights
The opening bout of the night will be between Irish Superstar Michael Conlan and Hungarian boxer David Berna.
Berna is one year older than Conlan and has some power in his hands. He has stopped fourteen of his opponents and only has one win by decision. His two losses however were by stoppage. Conlan has four stoppage victories on his resume and will have about a half inch height advantage over Berna.
Conlan has a large edge in amateur experience. He competed in the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics while Berna has no such experience.
Conlan has not faced significant opposition at this point of his career. He has defeated the likes of Luis Molina and Kenny Guzman.
Berna’s only good win on his resume was against Jozsef Ajtai. He stepped up in competition twice and was stopped both times. His losses were to Toka Kahn Clary and Oleg Malynovskyi.
Berna should be able to test the chin of Conlan, but Conlan is too much of a polished boxer for Berna to give him problems.
Oleksandr Gvozdyk (14-0) vs. Mehdi Amar (34-5-2); Interim WBC Light Heavyweight Title
Oleksandr Gvozdyk is another Ukranian boxer that had a successful amateur career signed by Top Rank Promotions.
Gvozdyk is tall for his weight class, he stands at 6’2” and has a 75 ½” reach. He’s thirty years old and only has a few years left in his prime, but he’s five years younger than his opponent Mehdi Amar.
Amar has only fought once in 2017 and twice in 2016. Gvozdyk has been very active and fought twice in 2017 and four times in 2016.
Amar has sixteen stoppage wins on his record and one stoppage loss. He has fought exclusively in Europe during his career and has no notable victories. His losses were to Robert Stieglitz, Nadjib MOhammedi, Mehdi Bouadla, Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, and Pierre Moreno.
Gvozdyk has stopped twelve of his opponents and never tasted defeat. He has defeated the likes of Craig Baker, Yunieski Gonzalez, Isaac Chilemba, Tommy Karpency, and Nadjib Mohammedi. Gvozdyk was also a bronze medalist in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
On paper, this is the biggest mismatch of the night. Gvozdyk should be able to win quite easily over the French boxer.
Jose Ramirez (21-0) vs. Amir Imam (21-1); WBC Junior Welterweight Title
The main event of the night will be between the undefeated Jose Ramirez and the one loss prospect Amir Imam.
Ramirez and Imam are about the same height but Imam will have a slight one and a half inch reach advantage over Ramirez. Both boxers are in their prime and Imam one year older than Ramirez.
Ramirez has been the busier boxer of the two. He fought twice in 2017 and three times in 2016. Imam fought twice in 2017 and only once in 2016.
Imam has eighteen stoppage victories and four of his past fights were wins by KO/TKO. His lone loss was a major upset TKO loss to Adrian Granados. He has defeated the likes of Johnny Garcia, Walter Castillo, Yordenis Ugas, Fidel Maldonado Jr.
Ramirez has never tasted defeated but has defeated the likes of Mike Reed, Johnny Garcia, and Issouf Kinda.
Ramirez has the edge in technical skill and competed in the 2012 Olympics. Imam lost to Errol Spence Jr. in the 2012 US Olympic Boxing trials.
This should be a competitive fight and Imam has the power to pull off a surprise victory, but Ramirez should win a close decision.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Lara, Hurd, Imam, Ramirez, Top Rank, ESPN, and more….
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of March 6th to March 13th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Lara and Jarrett Hurd to Clash on April 7th
Erislandy Lara, the longest reigning world champion at 154-pounds, will clash with IBF champion “Swift” Jarrett Hurd in a highly-anticipated super welterweight title unification live on SHOWTIME (10 pm ET/7 pm PT) as part of an exciting card presented by Premier Boxing Champions Saturday, April 7 from The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
In the co-main event, Super Middleweight World Champion Caleb Truax will make the first defense of his IBF title against James DeGale in a rematch of one of the biggest upsets of 2017 that saw Truax wrestle the belt from DeGale on his home turf in London last December.
Tickets for the show, which is promoted by TGB Promotions and Mayweather Promotions, will go on sale Friday, March 16 and be available by visiting AXS.com or the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas Box Office.
“This is an action-packed card from top to bottom. The televised card features boxers who all have something significant to gain with a victory,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “The winner of Lara-Hurd will be one step closer to becoming the undisputed 154-pound world champion. In a rematch, Truax gets to re-affirm his position as champion and DeGale has a chance to regain his world championship status. This is the kind of show that keeps fans on the edge of their seats.”
“We take pride in promoting quality events that our audiences always want to see,” said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions. “This card is going to be another line-up that the fans won’t want to miss. With Lara and Hurd looking to unify their titles and guys going head-to-head in rematches on the undercard, this is sure to be a night of non-stop action.
Lara vs. Hurd is a classic contrast in styles that could force each fighter to raise their game to another level. Lara is a crafty southpaw who relies on his superior boxing skills to confound opponents, while Hurd is a pure pressure boxer-puncher that stalks his opponents and isn’t easily frustrated.
Lara, a Cuban whose nickname is “The American Dream”, is coming off a unanimous decision victory on SHOWTIME over Terrell Gausha in October. Hurd was on the same card and defeated former champion Austin Trout when Trout’s corner stopped the fight in the 10th round. That paved the way for this unification showdown.
The 34-year-old Lara (25-2-2, 14 KOs), who lives and trains in Houston, Texas, won his world title with a TKO victory over Alfredo Angulo in 2013 and has successfully defended it seven times, which includes wins over Trout, Ishe Smith and Vanes Martirosyan.
“I’m very excited and motivated for this fight and to once again be headlining on the best network in boxing on SHOWTIME, is truly a pleasure,” said Lara. “I look forward to adding another belt to my collection on April 7 and to proving that I’m the best 154-pound fighter out there. Everyone tune-in because you don’t want to miss this unification. It’s going to be a legendary night and one for the history books.”
The undefeated Hurd (21-0, 15 KOs) is coming off a career-defining TKO victory over the former champion Trout in his last fight on Oct. 14. It was the first defense of the title for the 27-year Hurd of Accokeek, Maryland, who won the championship with a TKO victory over Tony Harrison on Feb. 25, 2017.
“I plan on being the aggressor for the entire fight, so I’ve been doing some exercises and working on techniques to improve my foot work so that I can stay on top of Erislandy Lara,” said Hurd. “We are not trying to go to the scorecards, so hopefully, I can be the first man to stop him, which I hope to do in the later rounds.
“I called him out, and now, it has come to pass that I get to become a unified champion against the man everyone considers to be the best and most feared in the division, and that’s Erislandy Lara.”
They call 34-year-old Truax “Golden”, and he punched his ticket to world title gold while on a trip to London in December, when he defeated DeGale by majority decision. Truax (29-3-2, 18 KOs) of Osseo, Minnesota was on a two-fight win streak heading into the match against DeGale. Before that his only losses came against former champions Anthony Dirrell, Daniel Jacobs and Jermain Taylor.
“They made the right call on the decision in England, and I expect to be even more dominant this time around,” Truax said. “I am planning to really just beat up James Gale and get the job done in more efficient fashion this time.’
“Fighting in Las Vegas for the first time will be a very cool experience and I expect it to be friendlier than it was in London. There is a lot of pride on the line for me, being that I’m the first boxing world champion from Minnesota in a long time. So there is a lot on the line for me and I plan to keep that going, especially as a means for supporting my family.”
The 32-year-old DeGale (23-2-1, 14 KOs) was the first British boxer to win a Gold Medal in the Olympics (2008 Beijing Games) and a world championship as a professional. He won his world title with a unanimous decision over Andre Dirrell in 2015 and made two successful defenses before fighting to a draw against Badou Jack on Jan. 14, 2017. It was a brutal standoff between two world champions, but neither man had his hand raised in victory. DeGale, who was coming off of an injury, had his home town crowd behind him but couldn’t deliver a win as Truax scored a stunning upset with the majority decision victory.
‘I’m happy to have the opportunity to rematch Truax and regain my IBF title,” said DeGale. “I am not going to make excuses for my poor performance, actions speak louder than words. I am excited to be boxing in Vegas and on SHOWTIME again. The real JD will be back on fight night!”
Amir Imam Preparing for Jose Ramirez
Amir Imam (21-1, 18 KOs) is in Pompano Beach, Florida, under the auspices of head trainer Stacy McKinley, in final preparations for his March 17 showdown against Jose Ramirez (21-0, 16 KOs) from Avenal, California for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) super lightweight belt Saturday, March 17, at the The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Imam, 27, rated No. 1 by the WBC, boasts a victory by knockout ratio of 86%, including his last three and five of his last seven. Ramirez, 25, WBC No. 3 ranked super lightweight, has stopped 76% of the opponents he has faced, including four consecutive and eight in his last 10 bouts
“Amir Imam is coming to Madison Square Garden, The Mecca of Boxing, in New York City, to take down not only Jose Ramirez but Bob Arum too!” boasted Imam’s promoter Don King. “I can hardly wait for Saturday night. Start the clock. Tick-tock, tick-tock.” T-minus 124 hours 45 minutes till Ramirez-Imam enter the ring, Saturday night . . .
“Yes sir, March 17 is a big day for me and the stakes are real high for both me and him. It’s the first time I get to fight in the Garden and that’s exciting, knowing that greatness has fought there. It’s the first time I am fighting in a main event and first time fighting for a world title,” said Imam. “It’s what I have been working for my whole life and it’s finally here and I’ve got to take advantage of it.
“He’s kind of tall and long just like me, so it’s like seeing each other in the mirror so it is going to be real interesting and it’s going to be an electrifying fight.”
“Ramirez is a tough fighter – a real tough fighter and we know what we’ve got to do to win this fight. If a knockout comes I will take advantage of it but I am not going in there looking for a straight knockout. I have to fight real hard and get the rounds under my belt just in case. He’s been aggressive but he may not come out aggressive – you never know. I just have to be smart in the ring and adjust to things he will be doing.”
“I can definitely match his power, I can box when I have to, and I can fight. I can do a lot of things. I can do whatever it takes to get the W. A lot of fighters these days can’t do that – they are one-dimensional fighters. If I have to box or if I have to slug I can do it. I think I am the toughest guy in the 140-pund divisi
“I can just hear them saying “The New.”
Ramírez vs. Imam will headline a spectacular St. Patrick’s Day boxing extravaganza, The Ramírez – Imam world championship fight will be televised live and exclusively at 8 p.m. EDT on ESPN and stream live on the ESPN App at 6 p.m. EDT. It will mark the first time Arum and King have battled each other promotionally on the same card since Miguel Cotto defended his World Boxing Association (WBA) super welterweight world title on March 12, 2011.
ESPN Scores Highest Rated Boxing Fight on Cable Television in 2018 with Saturday Night’s Top Rank on ESPN
Top Rank on ESPN saw Oscar Valdez (24-0, 19 KOs) retain his WBO featherweight title against Scott Quigg while fighting under a canopy at the rainy StubHub Center, the famed outdoor boxing venue in Carson, Calif. south of downtown Los Angeles. The telecast includes two of 2018’s top five highest-rated fights on cable television in 2018, according to preliminary audience results from Nielsen. The Valdez vs. Quigg world championship fight aired live and exclusively on ESPN and ESPN Deportes and streamed live on the ESPN App.
Top Things to Know
• Last night’s telecast was the highest-rated of the three Top Rank on ESPN telecasts in 2018
• Last night’s Top Rank on ESPN featured two of the five highest-rated fights on cable television in 2018
• The main event featuring Valdez vs. Quigg averaged a 0.7 metered market rating, while the co-main event featuring undefeated junior lightweights Andy Vences vs. Erick De Leon averaged a 0.8 metered market rating
Top Boxing Overnight Ratings on Cable Television 2018 (By Fight)
VENCES vs. DE LEON
WILDER vs. ORTIZ
VALDEZ vs. QUIGG
MATTHYSSE vs. KIRAM
KOVALEV vs. MIKHALKIN
The next Top Rank on ESPN is this Saturday, March 17 and features top-rated contenders José Ramírez and Amir “Young Man” Imam fighting for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) super lightweight world title. Ramirez vs. Imam will headline a St. Patrick’s Day at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. The event also features Irish Olympian Michael Conlan (5-0, 4 KO’s), from Belfast, who begins his sophomore professional year exactly where he started his freshman year — at The Garden. The Ramirez vs. Imam world championship event will live and exclusively at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN and stream live on the ESPN App at 6 p.m. ET.
Witherspoon Decisions Capers in Atlantic City
Chazz Witherspoon raised his winning streak to eight in a row as he went the eight-round distance by won a unanimous decision over Lamont Capers that headlined a seven-bout card at The Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City.
The show, which took place this past Saturday, was promoted by Mis Downing Promotions and Silverspoon Promotions.
Witherspoon was able to outpoint the crafty Capers. Capers was very competitive, but it was Witherspoon’s size and harder punches that proved to be the difference as he captured the via 78-74, 78-74 and 77-75 scores.
Witherspoon of Paulsboro, NJ is now 37-3. Capers, who was fighting for the 2nd time in seven days is 9-12-4.
Willis Lockett took a six-round majority decision over Prince Badi Ajamu in a cruiserweight bout.
Lockett of Takoma Park, MD won by scores of 59-55, 58-56 and 57-57, and is now 16-22-6. Ajamu of Camden, NJ is 28-4-1.
Super Lightweight John Bauza remained undefeated with a six-round unanimous decision over David Morales.
Bauza of North Bergen, NJ won on all cards by scores of 60-54, and is now 9-0. Morales of Managua, Nicaragua is 13-9.
Mike Hilton won a three-round technical unanimous decision over Hector Perez.
The fight was a terrific back and forth brawl when Perez suffered a cut over his right eye in the third frame.
Perez almost made a quick night for himself as he dropped Hilton in the 1st round. Hilton stormed back to register his own knockdown’s in round two and three.
The scores were 28-26 on all cards at the time of the stoppage.
Hilton of Trenton, NJ is 10-0. Perez of Pleasantville, NJ is 3-2
Edgar Cortes won a four-round unanimous decision over Kevin Asmat in a featherweight bout.
Scores were 38-37 twice and 39-36 for Cortes, of Vineland, NJ, who is now 6-4. Asmat of North Bergen. NJ is 3-2.
Alejandro Jimenez made a successful pro debut with a 2nd round stoppage over Derrick Pitts in a bantamweight bout.
The time of the finish was 3:00. Pitts is 0-2.
Dan Murray and Latorrie Woodberry fought to a no-contest when Woodberry hurt his shoulder in the 1st round of their scheduled four-round welterweight bout.
“I am ecstatic about Saturday night’s card,” said Mis Downing of Mis Downing Promotions. “The fights were terrific and very competitive. I want to thank the Claridge Hotel and a special thanks to The Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. I also want to thank Mayor Frank Gilliam for supporting our event. We are excited about what is to come in the future, and we will have a very big announcement shortly about our next event, which will be a very special night of boxing.”