Raphael Gramajo: “This Is Why I Box”
By: Sean Crose
No one needs to be told what a tough time the world – and America in particular – is going through. Still, there are some of us who are able to find away to make at least a glass or two of lemonade out of a seeming orchard full of lemons. Super bantamweight Raphael Gramajo is one such person. “I held up pretty good,” he says of the time he had to spend isolated from the larger world during the Covid-19 pandemic. “I got my kid with me. That made it go a lot smoother.”
Some guys simply enjoy Dad Duty. Count the 11-2-2 Gramajo among their ranks. Talking to the man over the phone for a few minutes, it becomes clear he really enjoys the activities nvolved. “Art work,” Gramajo says of his time spent parenting in quarantine. “We built stuff. We played some games.” Being a family man is more than a side gig to Gramajo, it’s obviously the whole gig. “This is why I box,” he says. “I box because of this.” A product of the famous West Side boxing gym, Gramajo looks at his team through the prism of family, as well. “My career ends here,” he says of his gym. “This is not only a team it’s a family.”
Although Gramajo is an Los Angeles fighter through and through, he’s happy to admit he’s originally a product of Kansas. “Home to me is Kansas,” he says, “but this (LA) is home to me now.” There’s little doubt that his adopted home town has served Gramajo well. You can literally see his fans at ringside, donning matching white shirts, cheering him on. “That’s all thanks to LA.,” says Gramajo. “I’ve got a lot of fans out there now.” Fans who are undoubtedly eager to see their man’s ring return. “Just waiting for that call,” he says.
Although Gramajo would certainly be considered more of a boxer than a puncher, his last fight – an impressive win over Daniel Olea via retirement in the fourth round – showed the man can employ his power when the opportunity presents itself. “I want to see what the fighter’s about,” he says of his opponents. “I want to see what he’s working with and depending on what he’s working with, we go from there.” Its an analytical approach to the fight game that has served Gramajo well. “I’m focused from the moment I walk into the ring,” he says.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Ramirez, Postol, Ali, Frazier, Vargas, Conlan, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of March 3rd to March 10th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Jose Ramirez-Viktor Postol & Jose Pedraza-Javier Molina Super Lightweight Double Header Set for May 9th on ESPN
It took a little longer than expected, but WBC/WBO super lightweight world champion Jose Ramirez, the pride of California’s Central Valley, is set to return. Ramirez will defend his titles against mandatory challenger and former world champion Viktor “The Iceman” Postol Saturday, May 9 at Save Mart Center in Fresno, a short drive from Ramirez’s hometown of Avenal. Ramirez and Postol were set to fight Feb. 1 in China, but the bout was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Ramirez-Postol and a 10-round super lightweight battle between former two-weight world champion Jose “Sniper” Pedraza and surging 2008 U.S. Olympian Javier “El Intocable” Molina will be televised LIVE on ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 10 p.m. ET, with the undercard bouts scheduled to stream in English and Spanish on ESPN+ starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with TGB Promotions, tickets priced at $206, $131, $96, $66 and $31 go on sale Tuesday, March 10 at 10 a.m. PT and can be purchased at the Save Mart Center box office, Ticketmaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.
“We are pleased that Ramirez and Postol will finally fight May 9 from the great city of Fresno,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Viktor is a worthy mandatory challenger who earned his title shot, and Jose will be fully prepared to make a statement. And for Jose, this could be his last fight in Fresno for a long time, so I expect the Central Valley faithful to fill up the Save Mart Center for a special evening.”
Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs) is one of two unified junior welterweight champions. He won the WBC world title in March 2018, prevailing via 12-round shootout against Amir Imam in New York City. He defended that belt twice before stepping up to fight Maurice Hooker in a highly anticipated title unification bout. In one of the best fights of 2019, Ramirez knocked out Hooker in six rounds. A 2012 U.S. Olympian, Ramirez has headlined at Save Mart Center five times previously and has drawn a total of 65,794 fans through the arena’s turnstiles. Last time he fought at Save Mart Center — February 2019 against Jose Zepeda — he drew a career-high turnout of 14,034.
“It is always a blessing to fight at Save Mart Center in front of my loyal fans,” Ramirez said. “I prepared for Postol once, and I will be in top form May 9. My trainer, Robert Garcia, will have me ready for whatever he brings to the table. He is a former world champion who I cannot underestimate.”
Postol (31-2, 12 KOs) has spent the majority of his 12-year career as a super lightweight and nearly a decade at, or near, the top of the division. He stunned the boxing world in October 2015 when he dethroned Lucas Matthysse via 10th-round KO to win the WBC world title. In his next fight, he was blunted over 12 rounds by Terence Crawford in a unification bout. He is 3-1 since the Crawford defeat, dropping a 2018 decision to Josh Taylor, who is now the division’s other unified champion. He earned the WBC’s mandatory shot at Ramirez in April with a unanimous decision over Mohamed Mimoune.
“I am glad the new fight date is set. I’m already in gym, and camp is going really well,” Postol said. “I was ready to fight on Feb. 1 and now I’m focused on May 9. The fight is taking place in his hometown, but that does not bother me because I have the experience to fight on away soil. I am looking forward to become a champion again.”
Pedraza (26-3, 13 KOs), from Cidra, Puerto Rico, held the IBF junior lightweight world title from 2015-2017 and then upset Ray Beltran in August 2018 to capture the WBO lightweight world title. He came up short in a valiant effort against Vasiliy Lomachenko in a toe-to-toe unification bout in December 2018 before knocking out Antonio Lozada Jr. in nine rounds the following May. Pedraza then moved up to 140 pounds last September and was outboxed by southpaw spoiler Jose Zepeda. He’s taking another shot as a super lightweight, this time against Molina (22-2, 9 KOs), a native of Norwalk, Calif. Molina, winner of five in a row, is coming off a pair of signature victories.
Last November, he knocked out Japanese veteran Hiroki Okada in just 65 seconds in an ESPN-televised co-feature. He followed that up with gritty eight-round decision over Imam on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder II undercard.
“This May 9 fight against Javier Molina will be crucial for my career. This is a crossroads fight, and I will do everything in my power to return to the winning route against a world-class opponent,” Pedraza said. “I know Molina very well. I saw him fight while we were at the 2008 Olympics in China. He is coming off a couple of big wins and is looking for a world title shot at 140. I’m also looking for a world title shot at super lightweight, and that makes this fight a significant and interesting one. I’m working extremely hard because I know that to get a world title opportunity, I can’t have another loss on my record. I will get a big win against Javier Molina on May 9, and after that, the ‘Sniper’ will aim for a world title at 140.”
“I’m happy to get right back in the ring with another tough opponent. With a win over Pedraza, I feel like it should definitely set me up for a title shot next,” Molina said. “I’m excited to be on ESPN once again and continue to get that exposure. I’m just ready to go. 2020 will be my year.”
Josue Vargas, Julian Rodriguez, Paddy Donovan and Christopher Zavala Added to Michael Conlan’s St. Patrick’s Day Garden Party
Before Irish sensation Michael “Mick” Conlan enters the ring against Colombian slugger Belmar Preciado in front of a raucous St. Patrick’s Day crowd at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden (ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET), many of the sport’s brightest young stars will look to steal the holiday spotlight.
Josue “The Prodigy” Vargas will make the first defense of his IBF North American 140-pound belt Tuesday, March 17 against Salvador Briceno in a 10-rounder. Vargas (16-1, 9 KOs), from the Bronx, N.Y., has won 10 consecutive bouts since an October 2016 disqualification defeat. Briceno (17-5, 11 KOs), from Guadalajara, Mexico, has won two of three since pushing undefeated prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. the distance last June in Reno, Nev.
Vargas-Briceno, along with the returns of top prospects Julian “Hammer Hands” Rodriguez, Paddy “Real Deal” Donovan and Christopher “The Boy” Zavala, will stream live on ESPN+ starting at 5 p.m. ET.
“I’m excited to be fighting in my hometown on such a stacked card,” Vargas said. “It’s an honor to defend my belt in front of my friends, family and biggest supporters. I can’t wait for another spectacular fight night and to put on a show for everyone who will be watching on ESPN+.”
Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs), the fighting pride of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., will face former top prospect Dannie Williams (24-3, 18 KOs) in an eight-rounder at super lightweight. Rodriguez fought three times in the last five months of 2019 after nearly two years out of the ring due to assorted injuries. Williams, from Saint Louis, returned to the ring last April following more than five years away from it. He last fought in January, notching a 10-round decision over Andre Keys (12-1 at the time).
Donovan (3-0, 2 KOs), a 13-time national amateur champion from Limerick, Ireland, will be making his American debut in a six-round welterweight contest against Gregory Young (4-3, 1 KO). Donovan is trained and managed by former middleweight world champion Andy Lee.
“I can’t wait for my U.S. debut. I learned so much from training alongside Tyson Fury recently,” Donovan said. “I’m taking that experience into this fight. Thank you to Top Rank for putting me on this card. Conlan’s St. Patrick’s Day cards are always exciting, and I’m happy to be part of the festivities.”
Zavala (6-0, 3 KOs), a 20-year-old from Long Beach, Calif., will fight Rennard Oliver (7-2-3, 0 KOs) in a six-rounder at super featherweight. Oliver has never been knocked out as a pro and is coming off a draw against Raul Manrique Jr. (4-0 at the time).
In other action on the undercard stream:
Feargal McCrory (11-0, 5 KOs), one of Ireland’s top young prospects, will make his United States debut against the durable Juan Tapia (9-3, 3 KOs) in a six-rounder at super featherweight. Tapia, who has fought the likes of current WBO featherweight world champion Shakur Stevenson, has never been knocked out as a pro.
Matthew Tinker (2-0, 2 KOs), from Scarborough, England, will face Esai Herrera (2-1, 1 KO) in a four-rounder at light heavyweight. Tinker has scored a pair of first-round knockouts to begin his career.
Hrgovic and Yeleussinov Step Up in Maryland
Filip Hrgović will take on Jerry Forrest and Daniyar Yeleussinov will meet Julius Indongo in big step-up bouts for the talented pair on Friday April 17 at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, live on DAZN.
TICKETS START AT JUST $43 (PLUS FEES)
Hrgović (10-0 8 KOs) made his debut under the Sauerland-Matchroom Boxing USA co-promotional banner in the same venue in May, hammering Gregory Corbin in the first round in his first defense of his WBC International title, and has added two more big KO wins since then, stopping Mario Heredia in Mexico in August in three rounds and then needing under nine minutes once again to blast away former World title challenger Eric Molina in Saudi Arabia in December.
Hrgović expects tough resistance from Forrest (26-3 20 KOs) in his first fight in 2020, with the Virginia man having ran unbeaten Jermaine Franklin close in July and returning to action in September to record his 20thKO win from 23 fights.
“I am looking forward to getting back in the ring,” said Hrgović. “I have good memories from fighting at the MGM National Harbor. This is where I made my American debut when I knocked out Gregory Corbin in the first round, and I’ve been training hard to give the fans another exciting performance on April 17.
“Jerry Forrest is a good boxer. He is a southpaw with a good record, and I’m expecting a tough fight, but I’m confident I will beat him.
“2019 was a great year for me. I fought in America, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. I had three fights against three strong opponents and got three knockouts wins. This year will be even better. My goal has always been to become World Champion, and I’m now closing in on that goal. I’m coming for belts!”
Promoter Nisse Sauerland said: “Filip is in fantastic shape and ready to start his 2020 campaign in style. Last time out at the MGM National Harbor he introduced himself to the American fight fans with an explosive first-round knockout, and they can expect a similar display this time round. Whenever Filip steps into the ring you’re guaranteed excitement. He is the future of the Heavyweight division and it’s only a matter of time before he’s fighting for World honors.”
Yeleussinov (9-0 5 KOs) looked explosive in his last two outings of 2019, hammering Reshard Hicks inside the opening round of their September clash in New York before stopping Alan Sanchez in the fifth round of their clash in Phoenix in September.
The Kazakhstan 2016 Olympic gold medal man now faces a stiff test of his talents in his first action of 2020 against Indongo (23-2 12 KOs). The rangy Namibian rose to prominence in December 2016 when his stunning first round one-punch KO win saw him rip the WBO World Super-Lightweight title from Russia’s Eduard Troyanovsky in Moscow and then unified the division against Scotland’s three-weight World champion Ricky Burns in Glasgow in April 2017.
The 37 year old faced Terence Crawford for the undisputed Super-Lightweight title in August 2017 and then met former World Super-Lightweight champion and Maryland headliner Regis Prograis in March 2018. Indongo fell to both champions but bounced back with a 12th career KO win in Alabama in August, and Yeleussinov has vowed to shine against the former World ruler.
“This is the most important fight of my career,” said Yeleussinov. “I had a great end to the year, and I feel I am building real momentum in the pro game now, but this is a big leap in quality of opponent. Julius is a former unified World champion and has huge experience at the very top level, so I will need to put on a career-best performance to keep my run going.”
One of Matchroom Boxing USA’s bright young talents joins Hrgovic and Yeleussinov in the shape of Raymond Ford (5-0 2 KOs), who will be eager to build on an explosive performance in December in destroying Francisco Mura in the first round in Phoenix.
“This is a big night in the careers of Filip Hrgovic and Daniyar Yeleussinov,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Filip is a big problem for the Heavyweight division. The Croat is gaining valuable experience with every camp and fight, and all eyes will be on the 27 year old in Maryland as he looks to make another statement in boxing’s glamour division.
“Daniyar is really growing in the paid ranks and has been impressive in his recent outings, but Julius Indongo is a big step-up for the ‘Kazakh Thunder’. The former unified World champion will look to carry his power up to 147lbs so Daniyar will be under pressure to both impress again and stave off the attack of the dangerous Indongo.
“Our young stable of fighters is the best in the States, and Raymond continues his pro education on what promises to be another exciting night of action on DAZN.”
Ali-Frazier 50th Anniversary Save the Date
The World Boxing Council, The New York Athletic Club and Madison Square Garden join forces to honor the Fight of the Century, arguably the most celebrated boxing event in the history of sports!
Mark your calendars for March 2021 when one year from today, the world will commemorate this majestic battle with a variety of great events, recreating the thrill and breathtaking majesty of the Fight of the Century. Once again, New York will be the capital of boxing, and this time…. you’re invited.
Ali and Frazier fought three times, the first time on March 8, 1971 to a sold-out Madison Square Garden. The tension was high as Ali, attempting to recover his WBC World Heavyweight Title, stepped back into the ring after his absence for political and legal reasons.
Broadcast live, the fight, promoted by Jerry Perenchio, broke all existing, audience records, and was aired worldwide, in 50 countries and in 12 different languages to over 300 million fans.
The referee was Arthur Mercante, who also scored the fight. The other two, acclaimed New York judges were Artie Aidala and Bill Retch.
A spectacular war ensued, between two undefeated champions (Ali 31-0 and Frazier 26-0) resulting in the first time Muhammad Ali was ever knocked down.
That was a magical night, rich with celebrities participating in the spectacle; Frank Sinatra, the accredited photographer for Life magazine, Burt Lancaster the color commentary and Leroy Neiman, the official artist. And now, fifty years later, we will create the feeling of boxing at its best, again!
We are thrilled to begin the journey to commemorate the greatest fight of history, get ready! The countdown to greatness, begins!
DiBella Entertainment’s Broadway Boxing Coming to Atlantic City on March 19th
DiBella Entertainment’s acclaimed Broadway Boxing series, celebrating its 17th year, has moved its scheduled March 12 event in Miami, FL, to Thursday, March 19 at the Showboat Atlantic City in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The event will still be headlined by Ghanaian lightweight contender Emmanuel “The Gameboy” Tagoe (31-1, 15 KOs) battling Filipino veteran Rey “The Technician” Perez (24-11, 8 KOs) and live streamed exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS®, the world’s leading digital subscription service for combat sports, beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.
Advance tickets, priced at $100 (Ringside), $65 (Reserved) and $35 (General Admission), may be purchased on Eventbrite HERE or by calling DiBella Entertainment at (212) 947-2577. Doors on the night of the event will open at 6:30 p.m. ET with the first bell at 7:00 p.m. ET. The Showboat Atlantic City is located at 801 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401. More information can be found on their website, www.ShowboatHotelAC.com.
“I’m thrilled to bring the next Broadway Boxing event to the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ, on Thursday, March 19. World ranked Ghanaian lightweight contender Emmanuel Tagoe faces Filipino Rey Perez in a terrific main event, streamed live on UFC Fight Pass,” said 2020 International Boxing Hall-of-Fame Inductee Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “The stacked undercard includes two exciting female fights, featuring former world champion Kali Reis and rising prospect Logan Holler. Colombian Olympian Juan Carlos Carrillo will take on Demetri Bentley in a battle of unbeaten light heavyweight prospects and the popular Dusty Harrison, from Washington, D.C., will see action as well.”
Fighting out of the talent-laden region of Accra, Ghana, world-ranked lightweight Emmanuel “The Gameboy” Tagoe (31-1, 15 KOs) will seek to keep his remarkable winning streak intact, facing Rey “The Technician” Perez (24-11, 8 KOs), of North Hollywood, CA, by way of Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines, in the 10-round main event. Tagoe has won 31 fights in a row since his lone defeat in his 2004 pro debut.
Ranked #2 by the WBO, #6 by the IBF, and #10 by the WBC, Tagoe will be fighting in the United States for the first time in seven years. Most recently, the heavy-handed Ghanaian knocked out Ishmael Aryeetey in the sixth round, on July 20, 2019, in Accra. He also holds victories against former world champions Moses Paulus and Mzonke Fana.
Said Tagoe manager, Peter Kahn, “Emmanuel has been in camp in Florida for four months away from home in Ghana, away from his family. He has been working hard, he’s in excellent condition and ready to fight on March 19 in Atlantic City. As the WBO #2 rated lightweight in the world, Emmanuel is in line for big fights in 2020.”
The 30-year-old Perez hits the ring following a hard-fought decision loss to undefeated contender George Kambosos on January 19, 2019, in Las Vegas. Perez has been tested against solid opposition throughout his 11-year career, facing Jessie Magdaleno, Lamont Roach, Chris Avalos and Oscar Duarte. Prior to the loss against Kambosos, Perez stopped Christian Gonzalez in the seventh round on October 18, 2018, in Los Angeles, CA.
The co-feature will have former world champion Kali “KO Mequinonoag” Reis (16-7-1, 5 KOs), of Providence, RI, fighting in a scheduled eight-round welterweight bout. Since challenging undisputed champion Cecilia Braekhus in May of 2018, Reis has won three consecutive fights, including a six-round decision on August 29, 2019, against Patricia Juarez.
In a scheduled six-round light heavyweight battle of unbeaten prospects, 2016 Colombian Olympian Juan Carlos Carrillo (3-0, 2 KOs) continues his ascent as a professional challenging hard-hitting Demetri Bentley (8-0, 6 KOs), of Atlanta, GA. The 27-year-old Carrillo is staying busy in 2020, scoring a second-round knockout of Ben Williams on February 8, in Daytona Beach, FL. Following an active 2019, fighting eight times last year, the 24-year-old Bentley returns to action after an eight-round unanimous decision versus Ian Darby on September 29, 2019.
Exciting female junior middleweight prospect and newly signed to DiBella Entertainment, Logan Holler (8-0-1, 3 KOs), of Columbia, SC, clashes with Leslie Pope (4-1, 3 KOs), of Kansas City, MO, in a six-round bout. Fighting for the first time in 2020, the former star college athlete Holler has moved her training to South Florida, where she is guided by Javiel Centeno in a camp alongside Tagoe and Kambosos. She is looking to bounce back following the only blemish on her record; a six-round majority draw to Bertha Aracil on February 23, 2019.
Rounding out the card, undefeated light heavyweight contender Dusty Harrison (34-0-1, 24 KOs) will compete in an eight-round bout. The 25-year-old Washington D.C. resident is currently riding a five-bout winning streak against top-level competition. Most recently, he knocked out Les Sherrington in the second round on February 8, 2020, in Vienna, Virginia. The Harrison bout is presented in association with Lee Baxter Promotions.
WBO 18th Children’s Athletics Invitational Was a Huge Success
In an effort to help in engaging children occupied in positive activities and keeping them drug free, the World Boxing Organization (WBO), chaired by Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcárcel, Esq., held the 18th edition of the ‘WBO Annual Children’s Athletics Invitational’ which took place at the Cupey Alto Sports Complex (Cupey Track) located in the capital of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The WBO sponsored the event as part of their ‘WBO Kids Drug Free’ program, which is focused on helping to keep the world’s youth healthy and drug free.
The track and field invitational tournament was dedicated to current WBO Mini-Flyweight World Champion, Wilfredo ‘Bimbito’ Méndez, of Trujillo Alto. In and out of the ring, Méndez has been an example of discipline, dedication and sacrifice to reach his goal and win a world championship title.
“Thanks to the WBO for hosting this great activity that brings together lots of children from all over Puerto Rico so they can compete in positive, healthy activities. Thanks to the parents for bringing them to this event. You are also champions, but in life. I will always support events like this, that help kids stay out of trouble” Méndez said.
The tournament was very we’ll attended and involved over 300 boy and girl participants between the ages of 6 and 13, representing 20 athletic clubs around Puerto Rico.
The participants were awarded medals to the first three places per event and cash to the most prominent competitors in each category. Trophies were also awarded to the first three teams in scoring and two bikes were raffled per category.
The event was attended by the WBO Latino Junior Welterweight champion Jean ‘Lobo’ Torres, WBO NABO Interim Junior Welterweight Champion Danielito Zorrilla, former 130-pound world champion Alberto Machado, WBO Latino Junior Flyweight Champion René Santiago, WBO Latino Featherweight Champion Bryan Chevalier, prospects Nicklaus Flaz, Edwin Valentin and Angel ‘Bebito’ Aponte as well as amateur boxer Moisés Zorrilla.
Also present were referee José Hiram Rivera (event coordinator), judge Luis Ruiz, managers Raúl Pastrana and José ‘Pepe’ Ortíz, matchmaker Yoel González and trainer David Oyola.
WBO Treasurer Adolfo Flores and legal advisor Gustavo Olivieri Miranda, Esq. also were present in the tournament.
WBO Kids Drug Free is an international program aimed at children and young people in order to carry a message of drug prevention and motivate them to continue studying, using sports as a tool to stay on the right path, as well that support causes directed to those in need in order to ensure a better quality of life.
17 Year Old Vito Mielnicki On Boxing Insider Radio To Discuss His Win on wilder Fury 2 Undercard
In an interview on Boxing Insider Radio, young Vito Mielnicki sat down with the crew to discuss his recent performance and his fast rise up the boxing charts. Boxing Insider Radio provides fans with the sort of content they won’t be able to find anywhere else with tons of high profile guests every week. To tune into the discussion that airs every Tuesday, simply subscribe at iTunes, Spotify or on Boxinginsider.com.
What are the characteristics of a superhero?
Sure they are often young, strong and seemingly unbeatable. But they also have an alter ego as well. In the case of Superman, his alter ego was the meek and unassuming Clark Kent. Spiderman on the other hand, often walked around as the frail and seemingly always happy Peter Parker.
Not many of us have to assume this role. Who we are throughout our normal everyday lives is just fine.
For young boxing prospect Vito Mielnicki Jr however, he has no choice but to have an alter ego of his own.
From the outside looking in, Mielnicki seems like your typical kid. He currently attends West Essex High School, in New Jersey. The high school senior gives off the impression that he enjoys what normal kids his age does. Hanging around friends, going to class, goofing off and playing sports.
Nothing about Mielnicki would suggest that he isn’t out of the ordinary. Yet, once you take a deep dive into his life, you quickly find out that he is far from that.
At the age of 17, Mielnicki decided it was time to get a job. No, he did not choose to flip burgers at your local fast food place like normal teenagers. He also did not want to try his hand at retail as well. Instead, Mielnicki jumped into the one and only profession he had his eyes on since he was a young kid. Professional boxing.
Yes, when Mielnicki isn’t busy in the classroom studying he’s in the boxing gym working on his craft.
In a sport that is often times dominated and headlined by grown men, Mielnicki has found a way to carve out his niche. Starting a career at such a young age would lead to criticism and second thoughts, but after an undefeated start through five fights with three of those wins coming via knockout, he quickly proved that he made the right choice.
In Mielnicki’s most recent ring appearance, he stepped onto the biggest stage of his young career.
On February 22nd, 2020 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, Mielnicki was given a spot on the undercard of the Heavyweight mega showdown between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. His opponent would be Corey Champion on the night.
The main event of this card has reportedly received close to one million pay-per-view buys. That number alone would make just about any other fighter do back flips due to the exposure, but not Mielnicki. He may only be 17 years of age, but this isn’t his first time on the pay-per-view stage.
Fighters have gone their entire careers without making it on the pay-per-view platform. Yet, Mielnicki has already gotten there on multiple occasions. So what is the exact words that best describes how he feels about his current situation?
“I want to thank Al Haymon for continuing to put me on the biggest stage possible,” said Mielnicki on Boxing Insider Radio. “I’ve already fought on two pay-per-view cards. I’m just blessed with where I’m at in my career. To be on that kind of card where it was one of the most anticipated cards for years prior to that and years to come so I’m truly blessed.”
In terms of one day headlining his own pay-per-view, Mielnicki is still a long way away from pulling that off. But if he continues to put on the sort of performances that he did this past Saturday night, then it might happen much sooner than he realizes.
“It was a good fight for me and the atmosphere was crazy in the arena to say the least. It felt like the place was going to collapse, that’s how loud it was in there. It was just another great experience for my career overall. I dominated the fight so I felt great.”
Boxing wouldn’t quite be what it is if there weren’t any comparisons. It isn’t simply about winning. The bigger goal is to do so in impressive fashion. When Mielnicki signed up to take on Corey Champion, he did so knowing that one of his good friends already did. The undefeated Xander Zayas. The aforementioned Zayas looked impressive in his win over Champion, but one could argue that Mielnicki out performed him on the night.
The two are undoubtedly good friends and exceptional boxers. It might be a tad bit too early in their careers, but if all goes well, that could be a huge fight down the line.
For now however, Mielnicki just wants them both to succeed.
“Me and Xander finished off our amateur careers together. We’re close friends and actually we were on the Jr USA team together in Colorado Springs. We got a chance to be roommates together. He’s doing great and I’m doing great so it’s great to see us both succeeding right now in the pros.”
Mielnicki is doing more than just succeeding. He is slowly building up his profile and his name. All of the hard work that he has placed in the gym has helped lead him to where he is today but he can’t take all of the credit for the prosperity that he is enjoying. The high school Senior fully understands that he wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for the help of many people behind the scenes. Including his manager.
“Ever since me and my manager Anthony Catanzaro got together he has been helping my career. He’s just the perfect guy for me. That’s the reason why I chose him as my manager. He furthers my career and gives me nothing but positives.”
For now, Mielnicki doesn’t have a fight lined up but he expects to get the call soon. But until then, he spends his time both in the gym working on his boxing abilities and in the classroom trying to keep his grades up.
Larry Holmes Gives Boxing Insider Radio His Take On Wilder vs Fury 2
Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone is qualified to give an educated one.
When Lineal Heavyweight champion and newly crowned WBC titlist Tyson Fury destroyed former belt holder Deontay Wilder this past weekend, not only did he begin what could be a lengthy reign for himself, but he also seemingly gave birth to an unprecedented amount of so called pundits as well.
From the moment the two big men entered the ring at the MGM Grand Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada, something just didn’t look right about Wilder. His aggressive come forward style was nowhere to be found. The ridiculous power that has carried him through every single one of his previous fights, seemingly took a vacation on the night.
Wilder looked unsteady, discouraged and unsure of himself all night long. Words that are never usually associated with the former champion. During the few moments in which he was able to mount a bit of offense, not much of it was mustered. The right hand landed, but it looked ordinary.
Throughout the entire career of Wilder, his skills have always looked normal. Maybe even subpar, but his power has always carried him through. But not on this night.
With Wilder unable to land anything of note all night, he was essentially helpless as Fury sent him down to the canvas on two separate occasions before his corner ultimately ended the bout in the seventh.
Fans around the globe instantly became boxing experts. Many believed that nothing was wrong with Wilder, while simultaneously heaping praise on Fury for being the much better boxer on the night.
Taking away credit from what Fury was able to accomplish would be unfair, but it would also be unjust if the obvious signs of Wilder having more than just a bad night went unmentioned.
The opinions of those who were watching the fight from the sidelines are always welcomed. But the viewpoints of those who have actually stepped inside of the ring and competed at the highest level is even more so.
Throughout the entire history of boxing, not many can compare to the insight that former Heavyweight champion and hall of fame boxer Larry Holmes can provide.
During a recent interview with Boxing Insider Radio, Holmes stopped by to give the crew a bit of his time and insight on what went wrong for Wilder on the night. The usually soft spoken Holmes held absolutely nothing back.
“Wilder didn’t train properly or he overtrained because he had no energy,” said Holmes on Boxing Insider Radio. “He has guys working with him in his corner that still need to take lessons in boxing. He got Mark Breland in his corner but he’s not really telling him what to do. Mark knew how to fight but he never fought at Heavyweight, he fought little guys. So I hold that against him. There’s a lot of things that I thought he should have done but he didn’t do it.”
The criticism of Breland was a harsh one from Holmes, but it was only the tip of the iceberg.
“Mark Breland needs to learn how to teach people. He didn’t put any water on top of his head to keep him cool. Wilder is bleeding out of his ear and he didn’t put anything in there to get the blood out of there. Wilder probably had an equilibrium problem because of it. Just nobody was telling him anything.”
Unlike most critics who have nothing else to provide other than hollow words, Holmes was a former champion that is universally recognized as one of the best to ever do it.
Not only did Holmes cast blame on Wilder and his team, but he also gave his opinion on the adjustments that Wilder should make going forward.
“I would tell him hey man you got to jab, he doesn’t know how to jab. At one point I was trying to teach him how to jab when he was here but he never learned. He’s got to learn how to throw punches and just get the guy out of there. Most importantly he can’t overtrain because if you look at the fight he was tired after the second or third round.”
Something as simplistic as jabing is what Holmes built his career on. The overtraining comments are also an interesting point. Wilder did in fact come out flat at the very beginning of the contest and was seemingly out of gas from the moment he threw his very first punch. Holmes attributes those issues to over training, while Wilder on the other hand believes his pre fight costume was too much for his willowy body.
The 40 pound tribute to black history month was an eye catcher. If there was any way to make Wilder even more intimidating than he actually is, then he certainly found it. Yet, as soon as the mask, robe, chest plate and batteries (yes it was battery operated) was removed from his body, he was a shell of his former self.
Recently, Wilder revealed that the costume was far too heavy. When considering the long wait for Fury to make his way to the ring along with his own ring walk which included a rapper reciting several verses before Wilder even made it to the isle, Wilder sauntered his way to the ring with nothing left.
Coming from a fighter who used absolutely no excuses for his own shortcomings in the ring, Holmes has plugged both ears as if to shield himself from Wilder’s unnecessary explanation.
“I don’t want to hear that. When I fought all of these guys I won because I threw the right punches. How many jabs did he throw? He didn’t throw any. If you go back and look at the tapes of when I fought Ernie Shavers, Ken Norton and all of the guys that I fought, I didn’t stay there to get hit with the punches. These guys take the punches to prove what? That you’re tough? No you’re not tough. You’re tough when you win and win and win.”
Win, win, win was something that Holmes did a lot of over his nearly 30 year career. The hall of famer does after all hold the third most title defenses in Heavyweight boxing history with 20 consecutive.
Wilder, on the other hand, was going for his 11th.
For as great as Holmes was during his career, he dealt with plenty of setbacks of his own.
Much like Wilder who not only dressed himself in a ridiculous 40 pound costume, he also wore a cloak of invincibility. Holmes lost his own edge and illusion of indestructibility after starting his career 48-0. Back to back losses to Michael Spinks sent Holmes into a temporary retirement. Once he made his way back to the ring, he was quickly sent back to his retirement home at the hands of some guy named Mike Tyson.
After three years away from the sport, Holmes once again came back and this time, fought his way to becoming a legitimate title contender. His story sounds almost fairytale like. But Wilder’s tale is a bit different.
There isn’t exactly a clear direction in which the former champion can go. The only other champion that he could set his eyes upon is Anthony Joshua. But with two mandatories and a long list of other contenders, that contest seems doubtful.
Even if boxing was deprived of politics and streets that separated fighters, a contest between Wilder and Joshua would be doubtful. Not because Joshua wouldn’t agree to it, but more so because of the fashion in which he was dominated.
Losses aren’t difficult to come back from. Everyone loses. But not everyone gets their butt kicked.
With Wilder already enforcing his immediate rematch against Fury, Holmes has just one question. Why?
“No, third fight for what?”
For what? Revenge of course.
At this point, revenge seems virtually impossible as Wilder, Joshua and every other Heavyweight seems ill-equipped to deal with Fury. But how about Holmes?
No, at age 70 he won’t be making his fifth comeback to the ring. But if he was in his prime, there’s no doubt how a dream match would have played out between them.
“I would’ve knocked Fury out. I would’ve hit him in the body, head then circled around. Hit him with right hands and left hooks. I ain’t going to stand there and trade with him like Wilder did.”
No matter the sport, it always seems as though athletes of the past will always be incredulous to believe that the new generation could compete with their own. Things were harder in their time wasn’t it? The competition was stiffer and things were never handed to them. To ask Holmes the question of how the competition of today stacks up against his own, isn’t much of a question at all.
“It ain’t no match. You think Ernie Shavers would have been out there and quit? Muhammad Ali would quit? No. Joe Frazier quit? No. Kenny Norton would quit? No. None of those guys would quit. They would fight you until you ain’t got no fight left in you. But Wilder quit. He quit because his ears were bleeding.”
Do what you want to a boxer. Push him down a flight of stairs, stab him with a kitchen knife or shove him out of a moving car. Any of the above would be appropriate. Just don’t call them a quitter.
Still, Holmes doubled down on his quitting statement.
“He wanted to quit. He didn’t want to go anymore. He quit man. The guy quit.”
The harsh take of the former champion didn’t stop with criticism of this new generation of boxers. It also extended to his own as well.
“Lennox Lewis should have never quit boxing, he should be Heavyweight champion right now. But he doesn’t have any heart.”
For now, it doesn’t seem as though Holmes will be backing down from any of statements, no matter how much push back he receives from the public. The former champion seems to carry much of that same fire that helped him carve a hall of fame level career.
If Wilder wants to quiet his doubters, including Holmes, then there is only thing that he has to do.
Beat Tyson Fury.
Boxing Insider Radio continues to bring boxing fans the sort of coverage that they need. With weekly guest stopping by the show to give their take on the state of boxing, make sure that you don’t miss the the conversation. The show airs every Tuesday and is available on iTunes, Spotify and on of course on Boxinginsider.com.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Wallin, Monroe, Hunter, Kovalev, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of February 18th to February 25th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Otto Wallin Wants Tyson Fury Rematch
Brand-new WBC Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury wasn’t the only fighter whose stock rose dramatically with his dominant seventh-round stoppage of Deontay Wilder Saturday night.
By virtue of his strong performance against Fury last September, Sweden’s IBF #15-ranked Otto Wallin (20-1, 13 KOs) must now be considered a serious force in the big man’s division. “If anybody still doubted me, now they know,” said Wallin. “My fight with Fury was of course a much better fight and I showed that I belong as a top contender.”
Early in the fight, when the two met at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas last Fall, Wallin opened two gruesome cuts around Fury’s right eye with legal blows and came within a hair of scoring the huge upset. After an extremely tense 12-round battle, Fury was forced to fight through his own blood and dig deep to rally in the later rounds and take a unanimous decision over Wallin.
Many boxing experts noted, post-fight, that less serious cuts had brought a halt to the action in other fights and Fury was extremely fortunate to have escaped with his unbeaten record. Fury required close to 50 stitches and had to have a web mesh inserted surgically into the horrific wound.
“Neither Wladimir Klitschko or Deontay Wilder, two of the greatest heavyweights of our time, could do to Tyson Fury what Otto Wallin did,” said Wallin’s promoter Dmitriy Salita. “Otto at 29 years is only going to get better in every facet of the game. He is on his way to becoming a dominant force in the heavyweight division.”
Wallin and Fury displayed mutual respect after their fight and it continued Saturday night with Wallin congratulating the new champion for his impressive showing and the former champion for his courage.
“I think Fury came in with a good game plan and showed he’s the number one heavyweight in the world,” said Wallin. “The trainer change he made worked out for him and the more-aggressive style made Wilder look bad. Fury seemed to be on another level. Everything worked in his favor. I honestly think that my fight with Fury helped him get ready for this fight. He fought Wilder in a similar way to how he fought me in the second half of our fight.
“At the same time Wilder deserves respect for not wanting to quit. He kept fighting and showed a lot of heart, even though I think his corner should’ve stopped the fight earlier.”
Team Wallin say they will continue to train hard and look for opportunities to move back into line for another shot at Fury.
“Otto didn’t get lucky in that fight,” continued Dmitriy Salita. “He has the right style to always give Tyson Fury big problems. We’re going to keep him busy and winning while we wait for Fury to decide to settle this unfinished business with a rematch.”
“I want a rematch and this time I will finish what I started,” added Wallin.
Ring of Hope’s Night to Fight Returns March 7th at Toyota Music Factor in Irving, Texas
Lone Star State-based non-profit organization Ring of Hope returns for a resounding night of sanctioned professional boxing when it presents its ninth annual “Night To Fight” pro boxing and charity event on Saturday, March 7 at the Toyota Music Factory in Irving, Texas.
The main event will present an 8 round light heavyweight attraction between two battle-tested warriors when Dallas-Fort Worth born-and-bred boxer Samuel Clarkson (22-5, 15 KOs) challenges the Freddie Roach-trained Israel Duffus (19-6, 16 KOs).
The marquee match of the night will culminate to serve as the major fundraising event to help support the Ring of Hope boxing program. Since 2010, Ring of Hope has transformed communities and changed the lives of the youth by educating, empowering and engaging students through the fundamentals of boxing.
“I’m often asked why I’ve had such a desire to be a part of Ring of Hope. It’s all about the future of the young men and women in our communities,” said Ring of Hope founder Steven Bolos. “We believe for them, believe in them and believe with and through them that they can be the leaders of tomorrow.”
Evan “Yung Holy” Holyfield (3-0, 3 KOs), the son of Hall of Fame fighter Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, will continue on his quest to follow in his legendary father’s footsteps when the 22-year-old returns to the ring. Presented by Main Events, the Houston-based Holyfield made his pro boxing debut in November with his legendary father supporting ringside.
Local talent and 18-year-old standout Tristan Kalkreuth (4-0, 3 KOs), who last year inked a deal with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, will continue his climb up the ranks in a separate fight as well. Kalkreuth was born in Carrollton and is a resident of Duncanville. He’s trained by renowned coach Ronnie Shields, and has a decorated amateur background, where he participated in over 100 fights, earned two National Championships and fought for the USA Boxing Team in the World Championships in 2018.
Also to be featured in separate bouts are welterweights Jessy Martinez (14-0, 9 KOs) and Brandyn Lynch (10-1, 8 KOs), cruiserweight Robin Safar (10-0, 7 KOs) and heavyweight Patrick Mailata (4-0, 2 KOs), Austin-based super lightweight Robert Kevin Garcia (6-0, 5 KOs) and the Corpus Christi-based lightweight John Rincon (4-0, 2 KOs).
Night To Fight will be available live on Integrated Sports Pay Per View on cable, satellite and digital pay-per-view via iN Demand, Vubiquity, DIRECTV and DISH in the United States, Shaw PPV in Canada and worldwide via the FITE.TV app and website.
Hall of Fame Showtime TV broadcaster Al Bernstein, former two-division world champion Paulie Malignaggi and LA Times and Boxing Scene journalist and writer Manouk Akopyan will call the action from ringside.
Limited tickets and VIP dinner tables can be obtained through a sponsorship to Ring of Hope. For more information, go to www.ringofhope.com.
The Toyota Music Factory is located at 300 West Las Colinas Boulevard in Irving, Texas.
Keith Hunter to Face Ssanjarbek Rakhmanov in Rematch on February 28th
Undefeated rising prospect Keith “The Bounty” Hunter will face talented Sanjarbek “War” Rakhmanov in a rematch in the 10-round super lightweight ShoBox: The New Generation main event Friday, February 28 live on SHOWTIME (10:45 p.m. ET/PT) from Sam’s Town Casino in Las Vegas. Rakhmanov steps in to replace previously scheduled opponent Malik Hawkins who was forced to withdraw for medical reasons.
Hunter (11-0, 7 KOs) and Rakhmanov (12-2-1, 6 KOs) first met on February 5, 2019, in an eight-round welterweight contest that resulted in a narrow-split decision victory for Hunter. Although Hunter controlled the action in the early rounds and scored a knockdown in the second, Rakhmanov recovered and landed some heavy blows in the later rounds. The scorecards read 77-74, 76-75 and 75-76.
Rakhmanov, who fought to a draw with Alfonso Olvera on ShoBox in May of 2016, will be making his second appearance on the prospect developmental series and his ninth start at Sam’s Town Live. In his most recent performance on September 20, 2019, he broke down Andre Byrd, delivering punishment to the body for four straight rounds, leading to Byrd taking a knee and ending the fight. He currently trains with Chris Ben-Tchavtchavadze at the Mayweather Boxing Club.
The 30-year-old Rakhmanov, who was born in Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan, was a top amateur with more than 140 bouts, including a Gold Medal win at the 2009 Asian Amateur Boxing Championship. In 2013, he became the national champion of Uzbekistan. After signing with Mayweather Promotions in 2014, he turned pro with an impressive 1:21 first-round knockout over Brett Simmons in June of 2015.
In the ShoBox co-main event, 2016 Olympian and undefeated super lightweight prospect Richardson Hitchins (10-0, 5 KOs) takes on Rhode Island’s Nick DeLomba (16-2, 5 KOs) in a 10-round bout. Once-beaten Las Vegas native Kevin Newman II (11-1-1, 6 KOs) faces Albania’s Genc Pllana (7-1-1, 4 KOs) in a 10-round super middleweight matchup to open the telecast.
Barry Tompkins will call the action from ringside with boxing historian Steve Farhood and former world champion Raul Marquez serving as expert analysts. The executive producer is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.
TMZ Reports Sergey Kovalev Arrested for DUI
TMZ is reporting that Sergey Kovalev was arrested for DUI early Monday morning. He was allegedly pulled over by the California Highyway Patrol around 2am. He was released on his own recognizance around 7:35 AM.
This recent arrest comes while he is in the middle of a felony assault case stemming from an incident in 2018. He has pled not guilty and is currently fighting the case.
More info can be found here: https://www.tmz.com/2020/02/24/sergey-kovalev-arrested-dui-los-angeles-boxing/
Undefeated Russian Heavyweight Destroys Former Undefeated John Napari in Moscow
Last Friday, Russian heavyweight slugger Apti Davtaev remained undefeated with a two-round demolition of formerly undefeated John Napari of Accra, Ghana at the Dynamo Palace of Sports in Krylatskoye, Moscow.
Despite a confident and flamboyant ring entrance, Napari (now 21-1, 15 KOs) had no answers for the incredible power of Davtaev (20-0-1, 19 KOs) once the action started. The big Russian dropped Napari twice with counter right hands, the second time for good in round two.
Davtaev has been steadily improving under the tutelage of SugarHill Steward at Kronk Gym in Detroit. The already freakishly strong Davtaev has been developing outstanding boxing skills working with Steward and the difference is obvious with each passing performance.
“Apti has gained world-class skills since we’ve been working together,” said SugarHill Steward. “He is definitely ready to become a force in the heavyweight division in 2020.”
Davtaev agrees with Steward’s assessment that his time at Kronk has made him an even more formidable force.
“I am happy that my training at the Kronk Gym has been paying off,” said the 6’ 5” slugger from Mayrtup, Russia. “The goal is to continue to score knockouts and that is what I plan to do as I continue my march to the world title.”
Davtaev’s promoter Dmitriy Salita says he was also impressed with Davtaev’s latest beat down. “Apti showed impressive power and skills in dominating his undefeated foe. He is ready to beat the big names and will be a new star in the heavyweight division.”
Split T Management Signs Two Time World Title Challenger Willie Monroe Jr.
Split T Management Management has signed two-time world title challenger, middleweight Willie Monroe Jr.
“Willie is one of the top middleweights in the world. He is a terrific boxer, and has championship experience. I expect to get him a big opportunity in the very near future.” said Split-T Management’s David McWater.
“I’m just super grateful I’m at a point in my life, I am grateful for my fans and for the sport I am excited for opportunities past, present and future, and am.approaching the new season with gratitude. I always knew I could do it. It took me a little longer than I personally expected but never the less I’m here,” said Monroe. “Dave McWater is a very smart guy and I like his attitude and approach towards boxing. He is a very knowledgeable and he understands everything.”
Monroe of Rochester, New York has a record of 24-3 with six knockouts.
The 33 year-old Monroe is a 12 year-professional who began his career with wins over Wilson Montero (1-0-1), Chris Aucoin (1-0-1), Troy Artis (2-0-1) & Ibahiem King (7-1).
Monroe entered and won the 2014 Boxcino Middleweight Tournament with wins over Donatas Bondorovas (18-4-1), Vitalii Kopylenko (22-0) and future world title challenger Brandon Adams (14-0).
Those wins catapulted him into an opportunity to face unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.
After falling to Golovkin, Monroe gained wins over two world title challengers in John Thompson (17-2) and Gabriel Rosado.
After losing to WBO Middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders, Monroe has won three in a row with wins over Javier Maciel (33-6) and his latest outing where he won a 10-round unanimous decision over Hugo Centeno (27-2) on June 1st in San Jacinto, California.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Jackie Kallen, Vergil Ortiz, Jimmy Thunder, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of February 11th to February 18th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Banner Promotions Releases Statement on Passing of Jimmy Thunder
Banner Promotions has issued the following statement on the passing of it’s former fighter, heavyweight Jimmy Thunder, who passed away on Wednesday due to complications of a brian tumor at age 54 in New Zealand.
“My heartfelt condolences go out to Jimmy’s family. I was saddened to hear that Jimmy passed away,” said Artie Pelullo, President of Banner Promotions. “He was a real good guy and true professional. It was my pleasure to be associated with Jimmy. He was a good fighter who gave the fans a lot of exciting fights when we promoted him, especially on the Tuesday Night Fights series on USA Network, where he had one of the fastest knockouts in boxing history when he knocked out Crawford Grimsley in 13 seconds. It’s always sad to see someone pass away at a young age.”
Included in Thunder’s record that read 35-14 with 28 knockouts were wins over three former heavyweight champions, Tony Tubbs, Trevor Berbick and Tim Witherspoon.
Vergil Ortiz to Headline Stacked Card Against Samuel Vargas
The most dominant rising force in the welterweight division returns to the ring as Vergil Ortiz Jr. (15-0, 15 KOs) defends his WBA Gold Welterweight Title against Samuel Vargas (31-5-2, 14 KOs) in a 12-round main event. Ortiz Jr. will headline a stacked card in his adoptive home of Southern California that will also feature Pablo Cesar “El Demoledor” Cano, Azat “Crazy A” Hovhannisyan, Rashidi “Speedy” Ellis, Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada and more! The event will take place Saturday, March 28 at the “Fabulous” Forum in Inglewood, Calif. and will be streamed live exclusively on DAZN.
Ticket information for the event will be announced shortly.
“When people think of the future of the welterweight division, one name stands out, and that’s Vergil Ortiz Jr.,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO at Golden Boy. “Simply put, this kid is special. His talent, speed and power set him apart from any other fighter who is moving up the 147-pound rankings. Don’t miss another spectacular knockout performance at the Forum or live on DAZN!”
Since debuting as a professional in 2016, Ortiz Jr. has knocked out every opponent in sight. The native of Grand Prairie, Texas, who has roots in Michoacan, Mexico, will participate in his first fight of the year after stopping Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera, Antonio “Relentless” Orozco and Brad “King” Solomon in a spectacular 2019. The 21-year-old knockout artist plans to do the same in 2020, but Vargas stands in his way.
“I’m excited to be returning against Samuel Vargas,” said Vergil Ortiz Jr. “He’s a tough fighter with a lot of experience, so I know that my talent and skills are going to be put to a tough test. I’m also happy to be fighting in Los Angeles at such a historic venue where many legends in the sport have fought. I love this city, and I love the people here, so I’m going to work very hard to perform to the best of my abilities on March 28.”
Vargas is recognized as one of the toughest challenges in any division. The 30-year-old native of Bogota, Colombia has faced a who’s who of welterweight boxers, including Amir “King” Khan, Luis Collazo, Danny “Swift” Garcia and Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. Vargas plans to engage Ortiz Jr. in a war, something he has yet to encounter.
“Throughout my career, I have always taken the challenges that other fighters in the division don’t want, and that’s exactly what I’m doing again,” said Samuel Vargas. “Vergil Ortiz Jr. is one of the brightest young stars in boxing, but he hasn’t had to go through a war yet. I’ve shown that I’m willing to go through hell in that ring, so if Ortiz is everything he’s hyped up to be, he better be on point March 28 because I know I will.”
In the co-main event, Pablo Cesar “El Demoledor” Cano (33-7-1, 23 KOs) will put his WBC International Silver Super Lightweight Title on the line against Michael “The Artist” Perez (25-3-2, 11 KOs) of Newark, N.J. in a 12-round fight.
Azat “Crazy A” Hovhannisyan (18-3, 15 KOs) will fight for the vacant WBA Interim Super Bantamweight Championship against Jose Sanmartin (30-5-1, 20 KOs) of Barranquilla, Colombia in 12-round clash.
Welterweight contender Rashidi “Speedy” Ellis (22-0, 14 KOs) of Lynn, Mass. will defend his WBA Continental Americas Welterweight Title against Sergio Ortega (21-2, 15 KOs) of Mexicali, Mexico in a 10-rounder.
Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada (18-0, 7 KOs) of East Los Angeles, Calif. will make the first defense of her WBA Interim Flyweight Title in a 10-round battle.
Christopher Pearson (17-2, 12 KOs) of Tortwood, Ohio will participate in a 10-round middleweight bout.
Raul “Cougar” Curiel (8-0, 6 KOs) of Tampico, Mexico will face Steve “Manos de Oro” Villalobos (8-0, 6 KOs) of Mount Vernon, Wash. in a 10-round welterweight clash between two young prospects.
Irish prospect Aaron “Silencer” McKenna (10-0, 6 KOs) will return in an eight-round super welterweight clash.
Chris “Milly” Ousley (12-0, 9 KOs) of Chicago will open the night in an eight-round middleweight battle against Jarvis Williams (8-2-1, 5 KOs) of St. Louis.
Star Boxing’s Catskills Clash III Set for April 17th at Resorts World Catskills
Star Boxing is pleased to announce its return of “Catskills Clash III” to the majestic Resorts World Catskills Casino Resort in Monticello, New York on April 17.
The Catskills have an undeniable claim to boxing greatness. Decades of fighters have called the Catskills their temporary home, to train for upcoming championship fights. The hollowed boxing grounds of Sullivan County have been sacred territory since the golden age of boxing, established by the likes of Marciano, Tyson and Ali. As of late, that reputation has carried over to the new, fully integrated casino as Star Boxing delivered two hugely success events there in 2019.
Star Boxing’s “Catskills Clash” series returns to the Resorts WorldRW Epicenter, continuing theits own legacy of boxing in the region. Fully prepared to pick up where it left off last September, “Catskills Clash” III is set to be an evening of thrilling, action packed fights. In Catskills Clash I & II, Star Boxing featured rising talent including five title fights, big time knockouts and immense boxing skill. On April 17, fans can expect another outstanding experience.
Star Boxing CEO JOE DEGUARDIA is excited to be back at Resorts World Catskills, “The Catskills and boxing go hand in hand, and we are proud to be a part of that continued legacy. The fights at Resorts World Catskills have been great and fans love that they can see the fights and afterwards walk out to NYC’s closest fully integrated casino. April 17 will yet again feature fan-pleasing fights on a thrilling show with top talent, rising stars, and title bouts.”
Kim Clavel vs. Esmeralda Moreno on March 21st in Montreal
Dooly’s Boxing Series, presented by Mise-O-Jeu, in association with Videotron, is back at the Cabaret du Casino de Montréal in 2020 with five entertaining events on March 21, May 2, June 6, October 24 and December 12.
North American Boxing Federation (NABF) light flyweight champion Kim Clavel (11-0, 2 KOs) will be the main star of this series, and on March 21 she will make her Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM) debut. Clavel will defend her title in the 10-round main event against her Mexican challenger, former world champion Esmeralda Moreno (35-12-2, 11 KOs).
Moreno is a two-time World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight World champion, reigning from 2012-2013 and again in 2017. She is 3-4-1 in world championship fights and currently ranked at No. 2 according to the independent website BoxRec.com. The charismatic Clavel will face the toughest test of her pro career in her GYM debut.
“Kim Clavel and her team are tremendously ambitious and confident by accepting this challenge,” GYM president Yvon Michel said. “Moreno is part of the elite fighters in her division, holding WBC champion Yesenia Gomez to a draw and losing to a majority decision in a pair of 2018 clashes. After March 21, we will know where Kim rates among the brightest prospects in her division. “
A very well-known and popular figure at the Casino de Montréal, undefeated light heavyeight Terry Osias (9-0, 4 KOs) of Longueuil, will be in his 10th pro fight, all held at the Casino de Montréal, which is a unique phenomenon in Quebec. His opponent will be former Bolivia National Champion Javier Saucedo (7-3-1, 6 KOs) in an 8-round bout.
Welterweight Marie-Pier Houle (2-0-1, 1 KO) of Terrebonne, will be in her first career 6-round fight, against Mexican Claudia Rangel (2-2, 0 KOs). Marie-Pier fought a furious fight against Linda Dostalkova at the Videotron Centre in her last outing, which ended in a draw.
This Casino event will mark the start of an association with Ontario promoter Lee Baxter. For the entire 2020 series at the Casino de Montréal, GYM and Lee Baxter Promotions will be co-promoters of popular Montreal prospect Mazlum Akdeniz (11-0, 6 KOs). The light welterweight Quebecer will not be in unknown territory since he has already fought six fights on GYM cards. His opponent in the 8-round match is left-hander Lavisas Williams (9-1-1, 3 KOs) of from Rochester NY.
In other bouts, Ontario light heavyweight Kane Heron (16-0-1, 7 KOs) will face Alejandre Meneses (12-4, 6 KOs) in an 8-rounder. Light heavyweight Simon Pierre Adde (7-1, 3KO), a Frenchman who lives in Los Angeles, will meet undefeated Italian Stivven Dredhaj (5-0, 2 KOs) in a 6-round fight. In a pair of 4-round confrontation the Stéphane Larouche protégé, super lightweight Abed El-Safadi (3-0, 0 KOs) will tangle with Jakub Laskowski (1-0-1, 1 KO) of Poland, and a show opener for Diizon Belfon (2-0, 2 KOs) of LaSalle, an associate of the famed Grant brothers, who will try for another knockout against his Greek foe, Alexandros Kirsanidis (1-0, 1 KO).
All this action will take place in the warm and unique atmosphere of the prestigious Cabaret of the Casino de Montréal, where the proximity of the ring and the fighters provides a perspective and sensations that are found nowhere else. The fights will start at noon, so it’s a good opportunity to come have lunch with us, while watching spectacular and emotional fights on the first day of spring.
Jackie Kallen Predicts Unbeaten Mykquan Williams Will Be Her Sixth World Champion
Women’s pioneer Jackie Kallen, the first and arguably most successful female manager in the boxing history, strongly believes unbeaten 21-year-old “Marvelous” Mykquan Williams (15-0-1, 7 KOs) will develop into her sixth world champion.
Williams, fighting out of East Hartford, CT, is the reigning the World Boxing Council (WBC) United States super lightweight champion.
“Mykey has a lot of the qualities as some of the greats in boxing,” Kallen said. “He has some of the flash and speed of fighters like Ray Leonard, and the training habits and dedication of Thomas Hearns and Mike Tyson. He also has a killer smile and good looks like Hector Camacho, Sr.
“Mykey can go all the way to a world title. He has the speed, attitude, and heart, along with exceptional boxing ability. He has been groomed perfectly by his trainer, Paul Cichon, who has kept Mykey true to his style, working hard to perfect his skill. Mykey trains hard, eats right, and takes the game seriously.”
“Jackie’s very experienced and knowledgeable in boxing,” Williams remarked. “She’s worked with some great, world-class fighters, so she knows the route to take for me to get there.”
Cichon added, “I sought out Jackie as our manager because of her love for the sports, as well as the knowledge of that she brings to the table. She’s very well respected, as she certainly deserves to be.”
Boxing has dramatically changed since Kallen covered her first fight for a Detroit daily newspaper in 1978. The card showcased Hearns and Mickey Goodwin. She became an instant fan and wrote about boxing on a regular basis. A legendary trainer/manager based in Detroit, Emanuel Steward, hired her as a publicist for his famed Kronk Gym. Some of her best friends to this day are fighters who she worked with back then. She and Hearns still get together.
After serving as Kronk’s publicist for a decade, Kallen decided to branch out and she started managing fighters. Her first client was heavyweight Bobby Hitz, who today is a successful promoter and restaurateur in Chicago. She went on to manage a group of Who’s Who fighters, including world champions James Toney, Bronco McKart,Tom “Boom Boom” Johnson, Pinklon Thomas and Nonito Donaire.
Kallen, who overcame sexism in the boxing industry, is best known, perhaps, for her working relationship with Toney, largely because her life during that period was the inspiration for the popular 2004 movie, Against the Ropes, starring Meg Ryan as Kallen.
“Boxing today is a totally different animal,” she explained. “That’s not to say it’s better or worse, just different. There used to be more gyms in every city, heavy amateur programs, lots of shows on television networks, and enough local club shows to keep a young fighter active. I had guys back then who fought 8 to 10 times a year, which, of course, is almost impossible in 2020.
“There wasn’t as much information available on opponents either. If you were lucky, you could buy a tape. If the fighter hadn’t been on television, though, you were out of luck. There was no Internet, so there was nothing like BoxRec to check opponents’ records. You just had to believe the matchmaker. I had fighters expecting to fight a 14-4 guy who found out at the weigh in that he was actually 16-0.”
Boxing, likely the second-oldest profession, has continued to survive, albeit often on a roller-coaster ride.
“Today’s fighters are not as quick to fight each other as they were in the days of Hearns/Hagler/Leonard/Duran,” Kallen noted. “Back then, fighters wanted to really fight to be the best they could be. I see fighters today being more analytical and taking less chances.
“There are also more sanctioning organizations today. Back then it was most the WBA, WBC and IBF. Not to mention there was never one person who managed dozens and dozens of boxers at the same time. The game has definitely changed!” Kallen, though is still heavily invested in the sport she loves. Confident Williams will be her next world champion, her dream is to be inducted into the Hall of Fame with Toney
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.”
Victor Ortiz Opens Up About His Career On Boxing Insider Radio
One of the most difficult things to accomplish in any sport, let alone in boxing, is championship status. For many athletes it essentially represents the mountain top.
Getting to the top of that aforementioned mountain is difficult in itself but staying there, is a more arduous task.
For former Welterweight champion Victor Ortiz he’s been through the entire cycle. From prospect to contender, to champion to contender once again.
It’s almost hard to believe that Ortiz (32-6-3, 25 KOs) is only 32 years old. That’s still a relatively young age in boxing terms but its feels as though he’s been around forever.
In an interview with Boxing Insider radio, which airs every Tuesday and is available on iTunes, Spotify and Boxinginsider.com, Ortiz caught up with the panel to discuss several parts of his career including his infamous matchup with Floyd Mayweather, his absolute war with Andre Berto back in 2011, his views on the current state of the Welterweight division and where he sees himself fit in amongst this current group.
Even if you don’t like Victor Ortiz on a personal level, the relentless attitude he’s shown during his career is something to be admired. When Ortiz kicked off his career back in 2004, he looked like your typical star prospect. Seven fights resulted in seven wins, with five of those coming via stoppage. He had a bit of a slip in his 8th professional bout. A disqualification loss. But if you actually seen the contest, you would understand that it wasn’t through the fault of Ortiz. So that so called loss was swept under the rug.
Nine more fights resulted in nine more wins for Ortiz, but then another blimp on the radar appeared. During the first round of a matchup with Marvin Cordova Jr in 2007. During the bout, Ortiz was the recipient of a nasty elbow to the head in the first round. The blow opened up a gash big enough to fit two full sized quarters into it. Needless to say, the contest was stopped.
After eight more wins, with all coming by knockout, Ortiz was clearly on his way to making a name for himself. Yet, after a stoppage loss to Marcos Maidana he quickly coupled it with a majority draw with Lamont Peterson.
The jury was out on Ortiz. He was a solid fighter, but nothing special. So when he was called upon to take on then champion Andre Berto for the WBC Welterweight title, he wasn’t expected to do much of anything.
“I remember when I got down there and I seen all of the stats they had, and how badly I was going to get destroyed. They were pretty much giving me no chance,” continued Ortiz. “I was walking through the arena and I met some guy who was one of the promoters, I forgot his name but he was with a young woman and he told her, hey babe let me introduce you to the tomato can that we hired to get knocked out.”
As you might expect, Ortiz didn’t take those words too well.
“ I told him, hey you done f*cked up a beautiful career. I’ll see you tomorrow, then boom a few hours later, I became a world champion.”
The doubts coming from everyone we’re justifiable. The record of Berto was spotless and his performances were outstanding. Ortiz on the other hand, already had several losses and draws plastered all across his resume. None of it mattered.
With professional athletes, their motivation usually comes from the same source, the doubt of everyone else in their skills. Ortiz had plenty of doubt going into that contest but his motivation didn’t simply come from his doubters, but it also came from everything that was going on in his personal life.
“I had two jobs that year. I was working for Red Bull as a merchandiser and I was working for construction. On top of that I was going to college. I asked my college classes if they could give me the week off because I was going to go fight in Connecticut but they pretty much said do you know what the statistics are of you going out there and actually performing something that big, but I told them that I just need the time. They told me that I couldn’t miss the midterms but I told them hey I can pass them if you let me take them today or even when I come back I’ll take them but they wouldn’t let me so I had to drop out of college.”
“From there, I went to my job at Red Bull and they were saying that they couldn’t give me a week off but go handle your business and when you come back lets see if your still around. When I went to my construction job they said Vic, just come back with that damn belt or don’t come back at all.”
Ortiz did in fact come back with that damn belt but ask yourself this question, would you really go back to your job after you’ve become a world champion? The misconception in boxing is that, once you have become a world champion, the money comes in droves.
“That morning after the fight, I actually went straight to work. I only made $25,000 for the fight so it’s not like I made a ton of money.”
The money may not have been there but with such a huge victory under his belt, you would think that the fame and notoriety would be coming his way. Nope. Ortiz went back to his normal 9-5 and lived a very modest life. Of course, at times boxing fans would notice the newly minted world champion and take pictures with him but there was one story in particular that sticks out to Ortiz more than others.
“So there was this guy that I was stacking up this refrigerator of Red Bull for. And he says I look like this kid that just fought this past weekend so I tell him really? So I asked him what was the guys name and he says mines and I say no way that’s me!” Said Ortiz while laughing. “He was saying that the guy was on tv and had a tattoo on his back so I showed him the tattoo on my back and he was just like what are you doing working for Red Bull? I told him hey you gotta make a living bro.”
Ortiz may not have gotten the payday that he was looking for after his fight with Berto, but he did get the opportunity of a lifetime in his next fight when he took on Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to share a stage with someone like Floyd Mayweather. I personally think that we have unfinished but that’s just my opinion.”
That unfinished business that Ortiz is alluding to is when Mayweather left Ortiz staring up at the ceiling lights courtesy of a right hand in the fourth round. It was a bit of a cheap shot from Mayweather but something Ortiz warranted due to his constant headbutts throughout the match.
“I was young, 23 years old and I went into the fight with one of the biggest fighters in the world so I believe that not only did I have stage fright but also the fact that I was trying to perform with the elites.”
The lights may have been a bit too bright for Ortiz but the roughhouse tactics of Mayweather was what drove him over the edge.
“He kept hitting me with elbows. I took about 15 of them before I told the ref, elbows! But he kept hitting me with them. The last one that he hit me with felt like I was going to go blind or something so I launched a headbutt. But I only did that because my corner told me hey hit him with a headbutt an I’m sure he won’t do it again. Next thing you know the ref stops the action and I have my hands down and I get hit with a few punches and down I go.”
After his loss to Mayweather, Ortiz would go on to lose his next two contest to Josesito Lopez and Luis Collazo, both by stoppage. He’d get back on track by winning back to back fights since then but would come up woefully short in a rematch with the same man who helped make a star in the first place, Andre Berto.
If beating Berto in their first encounter back in 2011 represented reaching the mountain top of the Welterweight division, then losing to him five years later represented the bottom of it.
Over the last few years Ortiz has been inactive and its shown in his results in the ring. He’s fought just once time in 2017 and 2018. Scoring a knockout win against Saul Corral and a majority draw against former champion Devon Alexander.
With the time spent outside of the ring, the Welterweight division no longer resembles the one that he grew up competing in. Champions such as Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford are now considered the elite of the weight class.
There aren’t many observers who view Ortiz as a huge threat in the division anymore. Inactivity to go along with inconsistent performances have left his case for a top spot extremely tenuous. But the former champion just doesn’t see it that way.
“I’ll be honest man, I’m one of the most dangerous guys out there. Why? Because I have nothing to lose. I have losses, draws and a lot of knockouts. I have all of the experience in the world and I’m left handed. At this point in time, the real question is, who would really take that fight against me? I believe I’m still in the top 5 in the division or at least in the top 10.”
Juxtaposing Ortiz to any other current Welterweight champion or top tier contender would seem to leave him at a disadvantage. Simply put, he just doesn’t compare to his peers at the moment.
With that being said however, did anyone expect him to beat Andre Berto back in 2011? No, from the moment that contest was announced, there was apprehension from everyone as to what was going to take place. Ortiz beat the odds before and placed himself amongst the elite of the division. At only 32 years of age, he still has time to jump start his career. But with nearly two years away from the sport of boxing, time isn’t exactly on his side.
“For me personally, I would have been back in the ring long ago but I’m dealing with some personal stuff so I’m just trying to work through it. I’m with Freddie Roach now and we’re just working hard and staying ready. The moment my issues are behind me my life will go back to normal.”
For now, Ortiz plays the role of a spectator as he watches some of the world’s greatest fighters from a distance.
“I’m still a fan. I always enjoy watching Manny Pacquiao, Errol Spence, Terence Crawford and some of Canelo every once in awhile.”
The sidelines that Ortiz currently sits on has certainly become arduous to do so. If Ortiz can simply get his personal issues in order, he could be well on his way to another title run.
Unlikely? Maybe. But so was his first championship run to begin with.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Russell, Juarez, Andrade, Cancio, USA Boxing, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of January 21st to January 28th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Robert Elizondo/Team Juarez
Omar Juarez Training Camp Quotes
Unbeaten rising prospect Omar “El Relampago” Juarez will look to put on a show in the ring this Super Bowl weekend when he battles Mexico’s Angel Hernandez this Saturday, February 1 in FS1 PBC Fight Night action and on FOX Deportes from Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.
“This is another great opportunity for me to shine on the big stage,” said Juarez. “The Super Bowl is like a holiday for all sports fans. Everyone will be hanging out watching sports all weekend and I want to give them something to remember.”
The 20-year-old Juarez (6-0, 4 KOs) returns to the ring after an outstanding 2019 where he picked up five wins, including four by knockout. He most recently knocked out Kevin Shacks in November after his previous fight saw him score a sensational finish on FS1 over Gino De La Paz in August.
“I’m so grateful that my management team and FOX believe in me by continuing to showcase me to the masses,” said Juarez. “All I want to do is perform to my best ability and continue to give the fans watching on TV a spectacular performance.”
The Brownsville, Texas native held the early portion of his training camp in Brownsville before going to San Antonio to finish camp there and spar with WBA Super Lightweight Champion Mario Barrios, experience that will surely help him as his young career progresses.
“I started training camp in my hometown as I always do, but then headed out to San Antonio to finish off the last few weeks,” said Juarez. “I got really good sparring with a world champion and somebody I admire. I’m a big fan of Mario Barrios. He’s an incredible fighter and I learned a lot from being in the ring with him. As I’m getting older, I can feel my body getting stronger. I’m having a great training camp to say the least.”
Juarez will be opposed by the most experienced and accomplished opponent of his career in the 20-year-old in Hernandez. The Mexicali, Mexico native has won 10 of his 11 fights and will be making his U.S. debut on February 1.
“Angel Hernandez is a fighter with real power and a man who is coming to take me out,” said Hernandez. “All of his victories have come by knockout, so I feel I’m in the toughest fight of my career. He’s a tough gritty Mexican fighter with bad intentions on his mind.
“Unfortunately for Hernandez, I’m in the best shape of my life, and he’s stepping into the ring with a man on a mission. This will be an exciting night of fights and I plan to steal the show with a knockout.”
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased at the Beau Rivage Theatre box office and through Ticketmaster.com.
Undefeated 2016 U.S. Olympian Gary Antuanne Russell & Unbeaten Bantamweight Contender Antonio Russell Compete in Separate Attractions Highlighting Undercard Lineup Saturday, February 8 from PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania
Undefeated 2016 U.S. Olympian Gary Antuanne Russell will take on Mexico’s José Marrufo in a 10-round super lightweight bout, while unbeaten bantamweight contender Antonio Russell steps in the ring for a 10-round fight highlighting the non-televised undercard Saturday, February 8 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
The card is headlined by the older brother of Gary Antuanne and Antonio, as undefeated WBC Featherweight Champion Gary Russell Jr. will defend his 126-pound crown against unbeaten mandatory challenger Tugstsogt “King Tug” Nyambayar live on SHOWTIME.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will see former world champions Guillermo Rigondeaux and Liborio Solís battle for the vacant WBA Bantamweight World Title in the co-main event, plus Jaime Arboleda meeting Jayson Vélez in a 12-round bout WBA Super Featherweight Title eliminator in the opener.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions and Kings Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased through www.pplcenter.com/events (direct link HERE).
Undercard action will also see super welterweight contender Jamontay “The Quiet Assassin” Clark (14-1-1, 7 KOs) in an eight-round showdown against Mexico’s Vladimir Hernández (10-4, 6 KOs) and Springfield, Massachusetts native Anthony Velázquez (8-0, 8 KOs) in a six-round welterweight duel against Reading, Pennsylvania’s Kashon Hutchinson (7-5, 1 KO).
Rounding out the lineup is Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Torres (7-0, 3 KOs) taking on Mexico’s Edson Eduardo Neri (3-4, 2 KOs) for six rounds of bantamweight action, and a six-round battle of unbeaten welterweights as Bowie, Maryland’s Marlon Bolen (3-0, 2 KOs) squares off against Miami’s Osmel Mayorga (2-0, 1 KO).
The 23-year-old Gary Antuanne Russell (12-0, 12 KOs) has yet to allow an opponent to make it the distance against him since turning pro in 2017 following his run representing the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics. Russell added five more stoppage victories in 2019 and will be opposed by the 28-year-old Marrufo (12-9-2, 1 KO), who was born in Sonora, Mexico but fights out of Phoenix, Arizona. Marrufo split a pair of fights against then unbeaten Willie Shaw in 2019, defeating him in March before dropping a decision in the rematch in August.
Antonio Russell (16-0, 12 KOs) trains alongside his brothers Gary Antuanne and Gary Jr., with their father and head trainer Gary Russell Sr. in their Capitol Heights, Maryland hometown. The 26-year-old is unbeaten since turning pro in 2015 and picked up four wins in 2019, including his first 10-round fight, when he bested Francisco Pedroza in July, and most recently a first round stoppage of Samuel Gutierrez in November.
USA Boxing Announces 2020 Tokyo
Olympic Games Qualification Team
USA Boxing announced today the 13 boxers who will
represent Team USA at the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games Tokyo Boxing
Qualification Events, as well as the 13 alternates. A full list can be seen
The team was announced following the two-stage qualification process that began in December at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Boxing in Lake Charles and concluded at the recent 2020 Strandja Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria. The full athlete selection procedure can be seen here.
“First of all, this was a very difficult decision,”
stated USA Boxing Head Coach Billy Walsh. “Some of these
boxers were neck and neck between training camp and the 2020 Standja
“We feel the 13 boxers that earned their place on the Olympic Qualification Team will be the best team to represent Team USA at the upcoming qualifiers, as well as have the best opportunity to qualify a full team to the 2020 Olympic Games Tokyo.”
All 13 boxers will have two chances to punch their ticket to Tokyo. The first will take place at the America’s Qualification tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 26 – April 3. Boxers who do not qualify in Argentina will have one final opportunity at the World Qualifier in Paris, France, May 13-24. Click here for more information on how boxers qualify
The boxers, as well as several training partners, will return to the United States Olympics and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. on Feb. 5 for their next training camp.
Follow USA Boxing on social media to stay up to date on training and news of the Olympic Qualification Team.
USA Boxing Olympic Qualification Team
51 kg: Virginia Fuchs, Houston, Texas
52 kg: Anthony Herrera, Los Angeles, Calif.
57 kg: Andrea Medina, San Diego, Calif.
57 kg: Bruce Carrington, Brooklyn, N.Y.
60 kg: Rashida Ellis, Lynn, Mass.
63 kg: Keyshawn Davis, Norfolk, Va.
69 kg: Oshae Jones, Toledo, Ohio
69 kg: Delante Johnson, Cleveland, Ohio
75 kg: Naomi Graham, Fayetteville, N.C.
75 kg: Joseph Hicks, Grand Rapids, Mich.
81 kg: Rahim Gonzales, Las Vegas, Nev.
91 kg: Darius Fulghum, Houston, Texas
91+ kg: Richard Torrez Jr., Tulare, Calf.
USA Boxing Olympic Qualification Team Alternates
51 kg: Christina Cruz, Hell’s Kitchen, N.Y.
52 kg: Abraham Perez, Albuquerque, N.M.
57 kg: Lupe Gutierrez, Sacramento, Calif.
57 kg: David Navarro, Los Angeles, Calif.
60 kg: Amelia Moore, Alexandria, Va.
63 kg: Ernesto Mercado, Pomona, Calif.
69 kg: Briana Che, Madison, Wisc.
69 kg: Freudis Rojas Jr., Dallas, Texas
75 kg: Morelle McCane, Cleveland, Ohio
75 kg: Javier Martinez, Milwaukee, Wisc.
81 kg: Atif Oberlton, Philadelphia, Pa.
91 kg: Jamar Talley, Camden, N.J.
91+ kg: Antonio Mireles, Des Moines, Iowa
Yordenis Ugas Training Camp Quotes
Top welterweight Yordenis Ugas shared his thoughts on training camp and previewed his upcoming showdown against Mike Dallas Jr. before he steps into the ring this Saturday, February 1 in the FS1 PBC Fight Night main event and FOX Deportes from Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.
“We are in the final days of a great training camp and I couldn’t feel any better going into this fight,” said Ugas. “Me and my trainer Ismael Salas are working on a great strategy that we believe will be successful. My timing is right on point and every round of sparring has been unbelievable. It’s been an outstanding camp in Las Vegas and I’m ready to go!”
Ugas will look to put on a performance worthy of his headlining slot the night before Super Bowl LIV, and further cement himself as a force to be reckoned with at welterweight.
“This is a huge weekend for sports fans,” said Ugas. “It’s very exciting to be in the main event one day before the Super Bowl. You know that when I get in the ring, you’re going to see action and great skill from start to finish. I always come to put on a great performance.”
Ugas will be challenged by the veteran Dallas, who has faced quality competition throughout his career and enters this matchup the winner of four of his last five bouts, with the only blemish a split draw in 2016 against Dusty Hernandez Harrison.
“Mike Dallas Jr. is a very skilled fighter who’s been in the ring with some very good opposition,” said Ugas. “He’s a crafty veteran who I know is coming to fight with all his heart. His only losses have come against top fighters. I’m taking this fight very seriously and I’ll have to be on my game to really make a statement.”
The Cuban-born Ugas believes that a statement on Saturday will put him back in position to challenge one of the welterweight elite for a second shot at a world title. In March 2019, Ugas came up just short of becoming champion, dropping a narrow decision to then WBC titlist Shawn Porter. Ugas returned to action for a WBC title eliminator in July 2019, and he performed impressively, dropping Omar Figueroa and handing him the first loss of his career.
“My lifelong dream ever since I first laced up a pair of gloves was to win a world title,” said Ugas. “I’ve come so close to accomplishing that dream, but for some reason I’ve come up short. I’m determined to be the best fighter I can be, and I know in my heart that I’m one of the best welterweights in the world. My goal is to become a world champion in 2020.”
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased at the Beau Rivage Theatre box office and through Ticketmaster.com.
Ruben Villa Camp Notes
Undefeated featherweight and world-ranked Ruben Villa (17-0, 5 KOs) is winding down his training for his 10-round showdown with Cuban knockout artist Alexei Collado (26-2, 23 KOs), this Friday night at the Hirsch Memorial Coliseum in Shreveport, Louisiana. The bout will headline a three-fight telecast on ShoBox: The New Generation and live on SHOWTIME (10 PM ET/PT).
Villa has been working hard just outside of his native Salinas, California.
“Training camp has been good. I have been training in Prunedale which is a little bit outside of Salinas, but its close enough, so in a way I am home, but I am not at home.
In Collado, he is facing a tough veteran, who has an impressive knockout ratio.
“Collado is a real strong aggressive guy. He is a veteran. I have to be cautious because of his power and play it very smart on our end.”
With a winning performance on January 31st, Villa can see himself in the middle of the featherweight title chase as he looks to improve on his number-five ranking by the WBO.
“I feel like I’ve proven myself with the last couple of fights. I feel like I belong in the top-five if not higher. I feel that a win will set me up for bigger and better things.
Villa has been more them grateful to accelerate from prospect to contender on the series that has showcased more than 75 world champions.
“Another main event on ShoBox. I am excited to showcase my talents in Louisiana again. It’s motivation to prove myself to people that I should be the main event.
“I am usually just real focused. I know the featherweight division is stacked, but I am really just focused on what is in front of me and focused for the fight. After we are finished on January 31st, my team and I can figure out what is next; however, I feel that I am close to competing for a world title.”
Villa is promoted by Banner Promotions and Thompson Boxing.
Undefeated Ukrainian and 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist Taras Shelestyuk (17-0, 10 KOs) meets Argentina’s Luis Alberto Veron (18-1-2, 9 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight matchup in the co-featured bout. The televised opener features an eight-round lightweight bout pitting ShoBox veteran Zhora Hamazaryan (9-1-1, 6 KOs) of Armenia against Sulaiman Segawa (13-2, 4 KOs) of Uganda.
The event is promoted by Banner Promotions, Thompson Boxing and Bishop Promotions LLC. Tickets can be purchased at www.Bishoppromotions.com and prices are $20-$100.
Present 40 Days: Jake Paul vs. Gib
DAZN Originals will present the latest edition of its training camp series, 40 DAYS: JAKE PAUL VS. GIB, an in-depth look at YouTube stars Jake “The Problem Child” Paul and “7-Figure Gibber” AnEsonGib ahead of their Jan. 30 professional boxing debuts, which will serve as the co-main event to a special Thursday night edition of world class boxing, exclusively on DAZN.
40 DAYS: JAKE PAUL VS. GIB will debut on each fighter’s YouTube channel today, Jan. 23, one week before the two settle the score in Miami prior to the big game. The 25-minute episode will also be available on the DAZN platform in addition to DAZN and Matchroom Boxing’s YouTube channels.
This edition of 40 DAYS provides a revealing look at each fighter and their road to the Jan. 30 grudge match. DAZN takes viewers from Jake Paul’s rise to stardom via Vine and YouTube through to his training camp at California’s Big Bear Mountain where he is escaping his fame to prepare with three-division world champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley. Meanwhile, Gib’s high-energy antics and his path to overcoming obesity are detailed as he trains in Las Vegas with professional fighter and KSI’s head trainer Viddal Riley.
“Big Bear is high altitude and no distractions, you can’t escape thinking about boxing there,” said Jake Paul. “Training with Shane Mosley, just everything clicked, and everything felt right. Gib is definitely a stepping stone but you have to step on that stone to get to the next one. I don’t think Gib has ever been punched in the face by someone who is pissed off and has been locked away in the mountains when I could be in LA doing fun shit.”
“You lot won’t be seeing this Jake Paul vs. KSI fight,” said Gib. “Jake is getting peppered. He does not know what he is in for on Jan. 30.”
Jake Paul has made his intentions clear in the promotion of his fight against Gib: If he emerges victorious in his pro debut on Jan. 30, he wants to avenge Logan Paul’s 2019 loss against KSI later this year.
“I don’t like Jake and I think the whole world doesn’t like Jake,” said KSI. “If he does manage to get past the Big Gibber then yes, I will fight Jake. 100%. But that’s not going to happen, I don’t think he’s ready for Gib at all and that’s going to show on Jan. 30. I think Gib wins this hands down and that will be the end of the Paul brothers.”
“Losing to KSI wasn’t easy but in many ways, it has given Jake an opportunity to no longer be the little brother,” said Logan Paul. “Jake took my loss harder than I did. It hurt because seeing my younger brother more affected than I am by something that wasn’t even his ordeal. I think it says a lot about Jake’s character.”
“Even the most public figures have a story to be told,” said Deirdre Fenton, DAZN Director, Original Programming. “The world may think they know all there is to know about Jake Paul and Gib but we have tried to peel back the layers to deliver a comprehensive look at both fighters before they settle their differences on Jan. 30.”
Top Rank Signs Andrew Cancio
Former WBA super featherweight world champion Andrew “El Chango” Cancio, the working man’s hero who reached the pinnacle of the sport, has signed a multi-fight promotional contract with Top Rank. Cancio, who still holds down a full-time job at Southern California Gas Company, is expected to make his Top Rank on ESPN debut in April.
“Andrew Cancio is one of the very best fighters at 130 pounds, a hard-working young man who deserves another opportunity to fight at the sport’s highest level,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “He was a free agent, miraculously, and we didn’t hesitate to make a deal with him and his team.”
“I’m very grateful to begin the next chapter of my career with Bob Arum and the entire Top Rank team in my corner,” Cancio said. “I look forward to returning to the ring in front of my army of supporters and am fully prepared to fight my way towards becoming a world champion again. Thanks very much to my team, particularly my manager, Ray Chaparro, who has always believed in me and has been incredibly supportive of my career and instrumental in the success I’ve achieved.”
Said Chaparro: “Andrew and I are honored to join Top Rank as we move forward towards the rest of his career. I’ve known for a long time that Andrew is a world-class fighter and am very happy to begin working with Bob Arum and his outstanding team on our march towards another world title. I’d specifically like to thank Top Rank matchmaker Brad Goodman, who has worked diligently to welcome us to Top Rank. We both look forward to working closely with him in the future.”
Cancio (21-5-2, 16 KOs), from Blythe, Calif., knocked out Alberto Machado last February in four rounds to win the WBA super featherweight world title. Four months later, he repeated the deed, this time stopping Machado in three rounds. Cancio’s title reign ended last November when Nicaraguan veteran Rene Alvarado knocked him out in seven rounds.
Cancio is one of the sport’s top regional ticket-sellers, as he routinely draws sold-out crowds to the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif., a 90-minute drive from Blythe. After the Alvarado defeat, Cancio was released by his previous promoter, paving the way for him to sign with Top Rank. WBO world champion Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring, WBC world champion Miguel “El Alacran” Berchelt, former featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez, former two-weight world champion Carl “The Jackal” Frampton and former world champion Masayuki “The Judge” Ito are Top Rank-signed fighters who currently campaign at 130 pounds, leaving Cancio with a plethora of options as he resumes his career.
Andrade Signs Four Fight Extension with Matchroom
Demetrius Andrade has signed a four-fight extension to his contract with Matchroom Boxing USA.
Andrade (28-0 17 KOs) defends his WBO World Middleweight crown for the third time against Luke Keeler in Miami on January 30 live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK.
‘Boo Boo’ landed the vacant title in Boston in October 2018 with a win over teak-tough African Walter Kautondokwa and followed that win by stopping Artur Akavov in the final round of his first defense in New York in January 2019.
The Rhode Island ace went home for his second defense and thrilled his hometown fans at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence in June by putting Maciej Sulecki on the deck in the opening round en-route to a shut-out win over the Pole.
Irishman Keeler (17-2-1 5 KOs) travels to Miami in a bid to shock the world in his first World title fight, but Andrade wants to hold onto his title in style before attacking the big guns and fellow World rulers at 160lbs.
“I’m delighted to have signed an extension to my deal with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing USA,” said Andrade. “We have had a great 18 months and we’ve got plans to have an even bigger 2020 and 2021.
“I’ve matured in the ring as I’ve been more active and sometimes I think, if these guys had fought me before they might have had a better chance against me, but now they are giving me the time to sign with Eddie and DAZN, get active and fight four times, sharpen the tools and get the ring rust off. So, when it comes their time, it’s going to be hell for them!
“As long as I am building my legacy, performing the way I need to perform and people are loving my style and the things I am doing, I am not worried about anything else as the fans are going to start demanding that these guys fight me.”
The two-weight World ruler was one of the first fighters to team up with promoter Eddie Hearn in July 2018 as he expanded the Matchroom Boxing empire to America with a billion-dollar deal with DAZN, and Hearn expects the Rhode Island ace to have a big year in 2020.
“I am thrilled to have signed an extension to Demetrius’ deal with Matchroom Boxing USA,” said Hearn. “Demetrius is one of the best 160lb fighters in the world and now is the time to deliver him the fights against the other elite Middleweights in the division, live on DAZN.”
Christy Martin Gives Her Opinion On Laila Ali vs Claressa Shields On Boxing Insider Radio: “Laila Ali Would Bust Her Ass”
Before great female fighters such as Ann Wolfe and Laila Ali took the boxing world by storm, Christy Martin helped place it on the map.
Martin recently sat down with Boxing Insider Radio which airs every Tuesday and is available on iTunes, Spotify and Boxinginsider.com, to discuss her induction into the boxing hall of fame. She also gave her opinion on Claressa Shields and what a showdown against Laila Ali would have looked like.
The career of a female boxer has never been known for its longevity. With both Ali and Wolfe’s career lasting nine years, Martin found a way to stick around the sport of boxing for 23 years. Throughout much of the 1990s and the early 2000s Martin was the face of women’s boxing.
The ridiculous amount of hard work that she put in has paid off as she will be inducted into the boxing hall of fame later this year.
It may have seemed like a no brainer decision for everyone else looking on the outside but Martin was left speechless when she heard the news.
“I remember being the Grand Marshall for the boxing hall of fame induction weekend back in 1996,” said Martin on Boxing Insider radio. “Just to be around all of those legends it was great. Never could I have imagined that I would be inducted into the boxing hall of fame. It’s a dream come true.”
Martin may have did all of the hard work inside of the ring, but her soon to be hall of fame career wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for her promoter, Don King.
“I was just really lucky to get Don King involved in my career. So I got the chance to fight on the undercard of Mike Tyson numerous times. Fighting in Vegas and Madison Square Garden. I got exposure like no other female fighter had ever gotten. I honestly think that Don King is the world’s greatest promoter. He bought a lot of excitement to boxing and he made every fight an event. I remember fighting on those pay-per-view shows and he had world champion 12 round fights on the undercard that didn’t even make tv time. He was great at what he did.”
Times have changed. Having a championship fight on the non-televised portion of a card today would simply never happen. Hell, it’s difficult just getting one in the co main event.
When we take a look at the resume of Martin, it resembles someone’s idea of a cruel sick joke as she fought a murderous row of competition. Martin ducked no one in her fighting career and it shows on her resume. It’s the very reason why she managed to get a spot in the hall of fame. It’s almost hard to believe that it’s been seven years since anyone has last seen her in the ring.
At age 51, she still looks like she can compete in the ring right now, but don’t count on it. With the sort of fighters she’s fought, Martin’s name isn’t mentioned nearly as much as it should in the discussion of who was the greatest woman of all time (G.W.O.A.T).
At the moment, the G.W.O.A.T title has been seemingly taken away by Claressa Shields. Her claim to that lofty status isn’t without merit. Not only does Shields have two gold medals but she also has world titles in three different weight classes. Yet, none of those accomplishments mean anything to Martin as she considers Shields claim to the mantle a tenuous one.
“My momma told me a long time ago that if you don’t have something good to say about somebody or something you shouldn’t say anything. Claressa Shields has accomplished great things as an amateur fighter. To get the honor to go to the Olympics is awesome. Of course that is something that wasn’t even available to the ones that came before her.”
If you ever took the time to sit down and watch a male boxer speak during a press conference, you’ll notice just how brash, cocky and maybe even board line delusional they can come across at times. Females on the other hand, are usually much more reserved.
Not Shields. She’s a great fighter, and she knows it, but she wants to keep reminding the world just how great she is.
That penchant for trash talk and giving herself all the praise in the world might bring in high ratings whenever she fights, but it doesn’t sit well with Martin.
“I think that she is young but she has great marketing people around her. I don’t know why they haven’t sat her down and told her that she needs to pay a little more respect for the people that came before you. Had it not been for them, your road would not have been so easy. You probably would not have been given the opportunity to even box, had these women not come before you.”
Cast aside the brashness of Shields and just view her as a talent. Simply put, she’s one of the very best that women’s boxing has ever seen. But much like every other great fighter in their respective sports, they are always compared to those that came before them.
In the case of Shields, her comparison partner has always been and always will be, Laila Ali. So just like any other comparison, the question becomes, who would win between the two?
If anyone can give a sound judgement on how a fight between Shields and Ali would play out had they fought in their primes, it would be Martin. She did after all lose via stoppage to Ali back in 2003. When asked the question, Martin didn’t hold back with her response.
“Laila would bust her ass. It is what it is,” said Martin. “Claressa Shields doesn’t fight coming forward and she can’t fight going backwards. She wants to cry about needing to fight three minute rounds so that she can knock girls out but I knocked out 31 girls in two minute rounds so I don’t understand why it takes so long, if you’re going to get it done, then get it done.”
While the opinion of Martin is respected, Shields has never been the type to hold her tongue for anyone. So it seems like it’s only a matter of time before she responds.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Holyfield, Nova, Martin, Hurd, and more…
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of January 14th to January 21st; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Promotions
Abraham Nova Scores 4th Round Knockout Over Navarrete
This past Saturday night, Split-T Management’s world-ranked junior lightweight contender Abraham “Super” Nova was explosive in stopping veteran Pedro Navarrete in the 4th round of their scheduled eight-round bout at The Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
In round two, Nova landed a perfect left hook to the body that sent Navarrete to the canvas. In round three, it was an overhand right to the head that put Navarrete to the on the deck. In the opening seconds of round four, Nova landed three left hooks that dropped and eventually stopped Navarrete at 35 seconds.
Nova, of Albany, New York, is ranked number-seven by both the WBA and WBO is 18-0 with 14 knockouts. Navarrete, who has fought three future world champions and five more foes that competed for world titles, is now 30-25-3.
Nova was making his Top Rank debut and is co-promoted by Murphy’s Boxing and 12 Rounds Promotions.
Jarrett Hurd Training Camp Quotes
Former unified 154-pound champion “Swift” Jarrett Hurd shared his thoughts on his ring return taking place Saturday, January 25 against Francisco Santana live on SHOWTIME from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™, in a Premier Boxing Champions event.
“This fight isn’t about making a statement,” said Hurd. “I just want to get the win and fight a great fight. I’m going to remind the boxing world what it’s like when I bring a storm to Brooklyn.”
The January 25 co-main event will be Hurd’s first fight with new trainer Kay Koroma. While Koroma trains fighters at the Alexandria Boxing Club in Virginia, not far from Hurd’s Maryland home, he is also an assistant coach for the USA amateur boxing team, having helped various boxers win Olympic medals.
“Camp has been going great with my new trainer Kay Koroma,” said Hurd. “We’ve been working on a lot of head movement and jabs. We’re strictly focused on boxing and working on all the areas where I have room to grow. He’s really opened my eyes to a lot of things.”
For the Accokeek, Maryland native, this will be his first fight training outside of his home area as a pro fighter. He has been in Colorado Springs training since January 2 and has experienced both the positives and negatives of camp away from home.
“The positives are that there’s literally nothing to focus on out here except boxing,” said Hurd. “No distractions at all. The only negative is you can get homesick. I miss my girlfriend and my family. Also, I just got a new puppy named ‘Bolt’ and I miss my little guy too.”
Hurd will be fighting again after losing his WBA and IBF 154-pound titles in May 2019 against Julian Williams. It was one of the most exciting fights of last year, and one that Hurd will hope to be running back soon, after a victory on January 25.
“The rematch with Julian Williams is what I always wanted,” said Hurd. “I had no intentions of moving up in weight. Unfortunately, the rematch just couldn’t happen sooner because of my circumstances.”
For his first fight back, Hurd will be facing a tough veteran in Francisco Santana, one who has faced other top 154-pounders, including Williams and Jermell Charlo, and who always comes forward and brings the fight to his opponent. If Hurd is unprepared, it will show against his hard-charging opponent.
“We just wanted a matchup to get back in the groove of things,” said Hurd. “I’ve been inactive for the better part of the last year. Santana being a smaller fighter, he will stay close and try to outwork me. I know he’s coming to win, so I’m not thinking about anyone but Francisco Santana. We’re going to work behind strategy and skills to get the victory.”
Cletus Seldin to Headline Rockin Fights on February 28th
Boxing fans have been calling for it, Long Island has been waiting for it, and CLETUS “THE HEBREW HAMMER” SELDIN (Shirley, Long Island 24-1 20KO’S) couldn’t be more ready to make his ring return, back where it all began, at The Paramount, on February 28, at “Rockin’ Fights.”
Seldin is coming off the biggest win of his career, when he stopped boxing legend, and multi-time world champion, ZAB “SUPER” JUDAH (Brooklyn, NY 44-10 30KO’s) in June of 2019 at Turning Stone Resort Casino during the coveted Hall of Fame boxing event. Over eleven dominating rounds, Seldin hurt Judah badly in the third, finding success in relentless pressure, culminating in an eleventh-round stoppage as Seldin, an underdog to the former world champ, earned the NABA Super Lightweight Title. With the victory Seldinentered back into the World ratings (#11 WBA, #12 IBF).
Making his seventeenth appearance at “Rockin’ Fights,” Seldinholds the record for most wins at The Paramount, the first of which came in 2011 with a quintessential KO over Rashad Bogar. Seldinwent on to have tremendous success at the Paramount, ultimately winning the WBC International Silver Super Lightweight Title in 2014, which he successfully defended three times.
In November of 2017, Seldin would display his world class power on the national stage in a featured fight on HBO against ROBERTO ORTIZ (then 35-1-2 26KO’s). Seldin pounced on Ortiz from the opening bell and knocked knocked him out in the 3rd round in front of an electric crowd of his “Hamma Heads” fans at the Nassau Coliseum. Just one month later Seldin would make history as the only the third boxer to appear on HBO in back-to-back months, joining boxing legends MIKE TYSON and ROY JONES JR..
Seldin has fully recovered from a surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder which he suffered in the Judah fight in June. Riding a three-fight knockout streak, Seldin looks to continue his rise in the world rankings in his return to The Paramount. Seldinhad this to say about his return home, “It feels great to be home where it all started. There is no venue like The Paramount, and I cannot wait to be back. I feel healthy and plan on putting on a show for all the ‘Hamma Heads’ who come out on February 28.”
Blair Cobb Battles Samuel Kotey on Valentine’s Day on DAZN
Prince Ranch Boxing’s undefeated welterweight contender, Blair “The Flair” Cobbs (13-0-1, 9 KOs), who is by promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, faces Samuel Kotey (23-2, 16 KOs) of Ghana, Africa. The 10-round bout will take place on February 14, 2020, as part of the of Ryan Garcia versus Francisco Fonseca card at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA, which will air live on DAZN at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT.
“I am excited to return on such a great card,” said Blair Cobbs, who is managed by Greg Hannley of Prince Ranch Boxing. “I have been training very hard and know that all my hard work is about to pay off. My body feels great and I’m looking sharp in sparring. I’m ready to take this dude out.”
“We’re thrilled with how Blair Cobbs’ career is progressing” stated Hannely, Cobbs’ manager. “He has an incredible resume and has defeated some of the best unbeaten fighters already. He keeps getting better and better with each fight. I expect big things from Cobbs this year, and it all starts on Valentines day.”
Cobbs had a phenomenal 2019 defeating unbeaten fighters Ferdinand Kerobyan and Steve Villalobos as well as Robert Redmond Jr and Carlos Ortiz Cervantes. Cobbs’ last four opponents have had a combined record of (40-5-3, 32 KOs), making Cobbs one of the most battle-tested contenders in the welterweight division.
“Blair has all the tools to be a world champion,” stated Brandon Woods, Cobbs’ trainer, “He has defeated great opponents and done it in a style that is very entertaining. I see Blair accomplishing some incredible goals in 2020, and I know he’s done everything in the gym to be at his best come fight night.”
“I love what I do,” Cobbs continued. “I am ready to have another great year and continue to put on a great, entertaining show for the fans. It’s Blair “The Flair” time baby, WOOOO!
Evan Holyfield Gets Visit from Christy Martin
Evan “Yung Holy” Holyfield’s (2-0, 2 KOs) next fight will take place on a Christy Martin Promotions card at Hard Rock Hotel Daytona on Saturday, February 8.
Boxing legend Christy Martin stopped by Holyfield’s Houston Training Camp to look in on Four-Time World Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield’s son and came away impressed.
“Most importantly he is a great young man,”said Christy. “He has great speed and power. His work ethic looks unbeatable.”
“It was really great that Christy came by and she gave me some psychological tips to use during my training,” Evan said. “Right now we are in the middle of camp – sparring just started and things are getting more intense, which I like. I enjoy when things are hard.”
This Daytona Beach is about a six hour drive from Atlanta, where Evan grew up. “I am excited to fight in Daytona – it’s a little closer than my two previous fights. Mom says she is coming with some of the fam. My amateur coach plans to make the drive down, and so are a few friends. I also have a couple of friends in the military that are based in Daytona that will also be there.”
Holyfield announced himself to the professional boxing world on the Canelo-Kovalev November 2 fight card at MGM Grand with a spectacular seventeen second stoppage (TKO 1), which you can watch HERE His second fight took place in Houston on November 23, stopping his opponent with a vicious body shot (KO 4). Watch the viral body shot KO HERE
The event will be live streamed via Facebook and YouTube on Payne Boxing Television channels. More information will become available as we get close to the event.
Franchon Crews Dezurn Discusses Her Recent Loss and New Found Beef with Rapper Snoop Dogg
By: Hans Themistode
The unpredictability of boxing was on full display on Saturday, January 11th, at the Alamodome in San Antonio Texas, as former Super Middleweight champion Franchon Crews Dezurn lost her WBC and WBO world titles at the hands of Alejandra Jimenez.
In the sport of boxing, a storyline always exists. For Dezurn, it was simple. Defeat Alejandra Jimenez, than take on fellow unified champion Elin Cederroos. From there, Dezurn would be the undisputed champion and set up a highly anticipated rematch against Claressa Shields.
Now, none of those aforementioned chain of events will take place. At least not now.
During an interview that took place on Boxing Insider Radio which airs every Tuesday and is available on iTunes, Spotify and on BoxingInsider.com, Franchon Crews Dezurn opens up about her loss and her new found beef with rapper Snoop Dogg.
The loss to Jimenez wasn’t the first in the career of Dezurn, but it was the most puzzling. During the contest, Dezurn threw the entire kitchen sink at her opponent. She landed the sort of shots that could have put down anyone in the division. Jimenez on the other hand, simply walked through them seemingly unfazed.
“It was different,” said Dezurn on Boxing Insider Radio. “I’ve fought around the world, remember I used to fight at Light Heavyweight as well. I’ve sparred men but it was different. Something was different that’s all I can say. I hit like a Heavyweight, I’ve done testing with USA boxing and I hit as hard as a man but some of the punches she was taking wasn’t normal.”
It wasn’t just the contest that seemed to be a bit out of the ordinary but so was the entire matchup. At one point, Jimenez campaigned at the Heavyweight division. In just a short amount of time, she managed to shed a ton of weight to make the Super Middleweights 168 pound limit. Even more recently, following her win, Jimenez has dropped in weight yet again. This time with an eye on Claressa Shields. With Jimenez seemingly able to move down in weight without much issue, Dezurn wants to find out how.
“I wouldn’t have agreed to fight unless VADA was involved. I was tested four times from the time the fight was announced up until after the fight so I assume she was tested as well. I’m actually waiting for my attorney to get me the results of her tests. She never weighed 154 in her whole career, the lightest she ever weighed was 176 and she came in under me so it’s just weird. Whatever they did, they need to sell it in the store. Wrap that shit up and sell it in the store.”
Dezurn isn’t only pointing a suspicious finger in the direction of her opponent, but also at her promoter as well.
“Her promoter is very powerful that’s all I can say. He hosted the WBC 57th convention that we went to last year, so it is what it is.”
The story of the night should have been focused on the contest between the two women. Regardless of the outcome, they produced an early fight of the year contender. Yet, the fight in itself was not the main storyline.
During the latter half of the fight, Dazurn suffered a malfunction if you will. The weave that she was wearing throughout the bout began to fall from her head. Her corner did their best to fix the issue but when they came to the conclusion that it was becoming a deterrent, they got it removed from her head entirely. Men might not understand the big issue, but for women, their weave means everything. For Dezurn, she could have kept it, but instead, she chose to focus on keeping her titles around her waist.
“I just want people to know that when that happened that was a moment of me coming out because I had to make a choice of whether I was going to do my hair or do some type of fake thing or was I going to fight for something that was real like my legacy and belt. My coach and husband pulled me through and I felt amazing honestly. Like I’m actually natural now, I went and got my hair done like fuck it I went and got my hair done.”
In a moment that many would have considered embarrassing, Dezurn has since turned it into a great opportunity. The former champion has gone on to create shirts that read “#FXCKTHATHAIR I Want The Belts” on her Instagram page. It has become a moment that she can look back and laugh at while also profiting from.
Although it was all fun and games, one moment that Dezurn did not find amusing in the slightest is when rapper Snoop Dogg went on his Instagram page to post a video of Dezurn getting her wig placed back on her head. The video in itself isn’t the issue, but the caption in which accompanied it was. “Beat the wig off dat hoe” said Snoop Dogg on his Instagram page. It may have been nothing but a harmless joke to Snoop Dogg, but Dezurn did not find it amusing in the slightest.
“This is why women and black girls are scared to be themselves because you’re not boosting their confidence. Whether I have on a wig on or not I’m out here risking my life and I’m doing good.”
While Dezurn was disappointed in Snoop Dogg’s choice of words, she is a fighter and wants her chance to prove to Snoop Dogg that whether she wears a wig or not, that she will beat him down if they ever fought in the ring.
“I posted on my page a video of him boxing and he was looking a little hoeish. Oscar De La Hoya got on my page and said he would promote a fight between us at the MGM in Vegas, so I said hey make that shit happen. He can get this work.”
A matchup between Snoop Dogg and Dezurn would be entertaining but it is highly unlikely. A contest that isn’t out of the realm of possibility, however, is a rematch with Shields. First things first, she needs to rebuild herself from the ground up.
“Shields has done so many amazing things and anybody that faces her it is a great opportunity. My goal is to continue to building my name so that when we do get on the same page to fight it’s going to be worth it. We’re going to break the bank with this one. I’ll be back, this is just a small setback.”
Boxinginsider.com Radio brings the Boxing Gym to the radio studio every week. Subscribe to BoxingInsider Radio on iTunes, Spotify, Spreaker, Soundcloud, Google Podcasts, and other platforms and listen on boxinginsider.com
Michael Seals Sits Down With Boxing Insider Radio to Discuss His Upcoming Contest Against Eleider Alvarez
Opportunities aren’t afforded to everyone, especially in the sport of boxing. There has been numerous fighters throughout the history of the sport who have gone their entire careers without being given a shot at a world title.
For 37 year old Light Heavyweight contender Michael Seals, he has the chance to move one step closer to the goal that many aren’t given.
During an interview on Boxing Insider Radio which airs every Tuesday and is available on iTunes, Spotify and on Boxinginsider.com, Micheal Seals discussed his excitement for the biggest fight of his life against Eleider Alvarez on January 18th, along with his future plans should he come away with the win.
It’s been a long 12 year career for Seals, who originally grew up in Alabama. If you’ve been down south, you know full well just how much the sport of football reigns king. Seals was once a football player, and a good one in his own right. After realizing that his dreams of turning into a professional football player was unlikely to come true, Seals decided to switch sports.
26 fights later, Seals will now be given the opportunity of a lifetime when he takes on former world champion Eleider Alvarez (24-1, 12 KOs) at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino, in Verona, New York, on January 18th.
“This is a big fight, the winner of his goes on to fight for a world title,” said Seals on Boxing Insider Radio. “This would be a career defining victory. The minutes and hours are moving in slow motion is what it feels like.”
There is nothing on the resume of Seals (26-2, 18 KOs) that would indicate that he is ready for an opponent the caliber of Alvarez. That statement might ring true in terms of professional boxing resumes, however, Seals has the sort of experience both in and out of the ring that you just can’t teach.
“We prepared for everything because he is a dynamic fighter. I’m prepared for a war but I’m also prepared for a high level boxing match. Whatever he brings I’m ready for it. I don’t have a ton of amateur experience but I’ve sparred a lot of contenders and champions when I was coming up.”
Amongst an impressive list of sparring partners is former Heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko. It may have been a great learning experience but Seals quickly found out why Klitschko had one of the most dominant runs in boxing history.
“He hit me with a right hand man, I felt it in my toes,” said Seals while laughing. “I toughed it out though man and I gave him some good work.”
The lessons from Klitschko may have been a painful one, but they have definitely helped him reach the stage that he is currently standing on. Still, even with the valuable experience that he has gained throughout his career, no one is expecting him to come out with the victory.
“A lot of people are counting me out. There making me a crazy underdog which I get where they are coming from but they don’t know me, I know me.”
Seals may believe everyone is crazy for counting him out against Alvarez, but if he does manage to win, his preference in his next opponent would lead many to believe that maybe he really is.
“Beterbiev, that’s who I want next.”
If Seals can do what many think he can’t, which is actually pull off the upset victory, then a date with Beterbiev will be waiting for him next.
Boxinginsider.com Radio brings the Boxing Gym to the radio studio every week. Subscribe to BoxingInsider Radio on iTunes, Spotify, Spreaker, Soundcloud, Google Podcasts, and other platforms and listen on boxinginsider.com
Boxing Insider Notebook: Williams, Dulay, Salita, Fox, Khongsong, and more…
By: Hans Themistode
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of January 7th to January 14th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Darryl Cobb/TGB Promotions
Julian Williams Media Workout Quotes
Unified 154-pound champion and Philadelphia native Julian “J-Rock” Williams showed off his skills and previewed his upcoming hometown title defense at a media workout Wednesday, as he prepares to face hard-hitting Jeison Rosario Saturday, January 18 in the FOX PBC Fight Night main event and on FOX Deportes from Temple University’s Liacouras Center.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased at http://www.liacourascenter.com/events (direct link HERE) or by calling 800-298-4200.
After winning the title in one of 2019’s best fights against then unbeaten Jarrett Hurd, Williams will fight in his hometown for the first time since 2011 when he competes on January 18. Here is what Williams and his trainer, Stephen Edwards, had to say Wednesday from James Shuler’s Memorial Boxing Gym in Philadelphia:
On training and fighting in his hometown…
“I try to just block myself from the world… Especially with a hometown fight, people are pulling you 50 different ways, tickets, asking me stupid questions. It’s crazy, so I just try to block myself from the world.
“It’s not about enjoying, it’s about winning. I don’t care about enjoying. You’re not supposed to enjoy camp. It’s supposed to be a grind.”
On what he expects out of Rosario…
“Rosario brings ambition to the table. I think he’s an ambitious kid. I don’t think it’s a difficult fight (for me), to be quite honest. I just think it’s a matter of being focused and on top of my game, and I think I’ll take care of him. I don’t think it’s difficult, though. He’s a decent fighter. We’re not going to make him out to be Ray Robinson.
“He has put together a good string of wins, and he’s tough and he’s coming to win. So that’s more important than anything. He has the ambition to win, so you can’t underestimate him.”
On growing up in Philadelphia…
“Seeing all the stuff that I saw growing up (in West Philadelphia) made me hungry, made me want to get out and make a better life for myself. All you have to do is walk outside and go down Lancaster Ave. If that’s not motivating for you then nothing will.”
On his celebrity now that he’s a world champion…
“I’ve got a little more notoriety now. To be honest, I stopped thinking about it because I want to stay focused on the task at hand. The task at hand is being pound-for-pound best in the world. I’m not satisfied with just being the best super welterweight in the world. I’m just not satisfied with being unified champion of the world. Why sell myself short when I have the drive and the ability to be the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world? I’d be selling myself short. I’d be leaving millions of dollars on the table.”
On the history that he made for himself and Philadelphia when he defeated Hurd…
“I’m one of three men (from Philadelphia) who can say they’re a unified champion of the world.”
STEPHEN EDWARDS, Williams’ Trainer
On Rosario’s abilities…
“At this level, everybody can fight. (Rosario) is a good-looking fighter. He can punch. He’s just a good fighter. He’s got a lot of the same characteristics as Hurd and Charlo. He’s big and strong. It’s a good fight.”
On why this opponent for this fight…
“We thought we were going to be fighting Hurd (again), so we got a guy that’s kind of like Hurd because we didn’t know if Hurd was pulling out of the fight.”
On being Julian’s manager and helping advise him on real estate…
“If (Julian) buys a house I’ll tell him if that’s a good property, or sometimes he messes up, but the cool thing is that he’s got the money to make up for all the mistakes now.”
Nashville Native Austin Dulay Takes on Diego Magdaleno on Fox on February 15th
Lightweight contender and Nashville native Austin Dulay will fight in front of his hometown crowd when he takes on former title challenger Diego Magdaleno in a 10-round fight that opens FOX PBC Fight Night action and on FOX Deportes Saturday, February 15 from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
FOX PBC Fight Night begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and is headlined by IBF Super Middleweight Champion Caleb “Sweethands” Plant defending his title in a homecoming bout against mandatory challenger Vincent Feigenbutz. Plus, welterweight contenders Bryant “Goodfella” Perrella and Abel Ramos battle in the 10-round co-feature.
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by Sweethands Promotion, TGB Promotions and Sauerland Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.
Nashville’s Dulay (13-1, 10 KOs) has won back-to-back fights by stoppage since his lone pro defeat to top contender Chris Colbert in April 2018. The 24-year-old has fought professionally since 2015 and won his first 11 fights. He most recently scored a TKO victory over Yardley Armenta Cruz in February of last year, and his last time in the ring saw him stop Justin Pauldo in a fight that was later changed to a no contest. He will return to fight in Nashville for the first time since a 2017 victory.
The 33-year-old Magdaleno (31-3, 13 KOs) has twice challenged for a world title and will look for a signature victory on February 15 to get closer to another chance at the belt. The Las Vegas native previously dropped title fights against Roman Martinez and Terry Flanagan. Magdaleno won three straight fights between 2016 and 2018, including a triumph over Art Hovhannisyan, and most recently lost to lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez in February 2019.
Three Salita Promotions Prospects Score Victories in Atlantic City
Both of Salita Promotions undefeated Detroit-based welterweights, twin brothers Joseph and Jacob Bonas, and Russian heavyweight destroyer Apti Davtaev, remained undefeated with impressive victories last Friday night.
Fighting on the untelevised undercard of the Claressa Shields vs. Ivana Habazin showdown at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., Joseph “Detroit Bad Boy” Bonas moved his record to 7-0, 6 KOs by stopping Steubenville, Ohio’s Glenn Mitchell (3-5, 3 KOs) via TKO 2. Meanwhile, brother Jacob Bonas (now 5-0-1, 2 KOs) had to work a bit harder to gain a unanimous four-round decision over Highwood, Illinois’ Christian Rivera (1-1-1).
Showing marked improvement from his work in Detroit with SugarHill Steward, heavyweight crusher Apti Davtaev (19-0-1, 18 KOs) from Kurchaloi, Russia, overpowered Glenville, West Virginia’s Keith Barr (20-13-1, 8 KOs) in three brutal rounds.
Joseph Bonas showed some newfound patience in waiting for the right moment to pounce on the long-limbed Mitchell. And when the opening finally presented itself, he lowered the boom with a three-punch combination that brought things to a decisive end at 1:55 of round two.
Jacob Bonas survived a momentary scare when a surprise right hand from opponent Rivera got his attention quickly in round one. Showing his extensive amateur pedigree, however, Bonas made adjustments and eventually cruised to a comfortable four-round decision (scores 39-37 x 3).
Early on, Barr looked ready to rumble with his big Russian foe until a few punches from the Eastern Bloc strongman had him in full survival mode. 38 seconds into round three, the super naturally powerful Davtaev had his most impressive victory to date.
“All our fighters had terrific nights on Friday,” said Dmitriy Salita. “The Bonas brothers look to be turning into excellent professional fighters. They did what they are supposed to do with their early opponents by dominating. And Apti Davtaev is clearly getting stronger and stronger as his career advances. He is ready for a step-up fight against another up-and-coming heavyweight. His power is something the boxing world should have a look at soon.”
Mykal Fox Re-Signs with King’s Promotions
King’s Promotions is pleased to announce the re-signing of world ranked welterweight Mykal “The Professor” Fox to a multi-year promotional agreement.
Fox of Forrestville, Maryland has a record of 22-1 with five knockouts, and is currently ranked number-14 by the IBF and number-15 by the WBA.
The 24 year-old Fox had a busy 2019 as he competed four times against top-level opposition. After suffering his only professional setback to undefeated Shohjahon Ergashev on ShoBox: The New Generation, Fox rebounded in terrific fashion by defeating 2016 Olympic Gold Medal winner Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (7-0), Eudy Bernardo (25-4), and John Arellano (10-1) to earn his ranking.
Fox, who turned professional in 2014 also has wins over Ricardo Garcia (14-1), former world champion DeMarcus Corley and Gonzalo Dallera (5-0).
“We are ecstatic to have Mykal in the fold with us. It’s been a pleasure to watch him grow and King’s Promotions will continue to move Mykal into big fights and ultimately a world title opportunity,” said King’s Promotions CEO Marshall Kauffman.
“King’s Promotions has been great to me since signing in 2015. I look forward to continuing on with them and putting myself in position to become a world champion,” said Fox.
“We are happy to to continue the relationship with Marshall Kauffman and Kings Promotions. KP will allow Myke to keep busy until his inevitable world title opportunity,” said Fox’s agent and attorney, Mike Borao.
Ruben Villa to Face Alexei Collado on ShoBox on January 31st
Undefeated featherweight prospect Ruben Villa will make his fourth ShoBox: The New Generation appearance in just over a year as the former two-time Junior Olympic National Champion takes on hard-hitting Alexei Collado in a 10-round main event of a three-fight telecast on Friday, January 31live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT) from Hirsch Memorial Coliseum in Shreveport, La.
Undefeated Ukrainian and 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist Taras Shelestyuk (17-0, 10 KOs) meets Mexico’s Alejandro Davila (19-1-2, 7 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight matchup in the co-featured bout. The televised opener features an eight-round lightweight bout pitting Southern California native Jerry Pérez (12-0, 9 KOs) against ShoBox veteran Zhora Hamazaryan (9-1-1, 6 KOs) from Armenia.
The event is promoted by Banner Promotions, Thompson Boxing and Bishop Promotions LLC. Tickets can be purchased at www.Bishoppromotions.com and prices are $20-$100.
“On January 31 we have three prospects at different points in their careers with Ruben Villa developing into a must-see prospect with high expectations,” said Gordon Hall, Executive Producer of ShoBox: The New Generation. “Taras Shelestuyk is still undefeated and working on rebuilding a once-promising career in a must-win fight and Jerry Pérez is young and relatively unknown, but in a big step-up fight looking to be noticed. Each of these three are in meaningful fights that should be action-packed.”
The 22-year-old Salinas, Calif., native Villa (17-0, 5 KOs) was also the 2014 and 2016 National Golden Gloves Champion and is currently ranked No. 5 at 126 pounds by the WBO and No. 13 by the WBC. Villa was a 2016 U.S. Olympic Team alternate, and had an impressive amateur record of 166-17 with wins against Devin Haney, Shakur Stevenson, and Gary Antonio Russell.
The southpaw Villa has looked impressive in each of his three previous ShoBox appearances, including his debut last January when he outclassed then-unbeaten Ruben Cervera. In May, Villa stepped up to 10-round status for the first time and won a unanimous decision against Luis Alberto Lopez and in September, Villa scored a second-round knockdown against Enrique Vivas en route to a comfortable shutout unanimous decision.
“I know my opponent has a good record at 26-2 and he has heavy hands, but he is wild,” Villa said. “I feel that I am close to a title eliminator, but the middle or at the very latest at the end of 2020. ShoBox has helped me with my recognition and showcasing my talent. I am just thankful to be headlining once again on ShoBox. I know I’m close to making that next step up to contender so I have to look impressive on January 31.“
In Collado (26-2, 23 KOs), Villa will face a tough, 31-year-old Cuban currently living and training in Miami. Collado is on a seven-bout winning streak with six KOs and was active in 2019 winning four times, including his last victory via first-round KO against Facundo Eduardo Ased four days before Christmas. Collado won the 2006 Junior World Title in the flyweight division.
“I participated on a ShoBox event in the past and I couldn’t close the show,” said Collado, who made his ShoBox debut in April of 2014 in a 10-round lightweight unanimous decision loss to Rod Salka. “This time the story will be different and I am more than ready for Ruben Villa. Ruben is a young talented boxer but he will not be able to do with me what he was able to do to other guys. I’m far more experienced, much stronger and way smarter than all the guys put together that he has faced so far. This is an opportunity that I will not take for granted, Villa better be ready to get shocked.”
Management issues have kept the 34-year-old Shelestyuk mostly inactive and he has fought just once in two and a half years. Currently living and training in Southern California, Shelestyuk has trained with Freddie Roach and his stable of fighters at the famed Wild Card Gym in Hollywood. Shelestyuk’s last fight came in March, a unanimous decision against Martin Angel Martinez in Southern California. His best win came in 2015 on ShoBox over once-beaten Aslanbek Kozaev.
“Training camp is going great and a lot of the hard work is already done, but we have three more weeks to rock it and finish strong,” said Shelestyuk, who has previously fought twice on ShoBox, recording unanimous decisions in November of 2015 and 2016. “We always have a great atmosphere with the team during the training camp. It’s exciting to be back on SHOWTIME. The fans like my style and I’m ready to give them a show. My opponent is tough and a big guy, He has more fights than me in the professional ring, and it will be clash of different styles.”
Davila has campaigned almost exclusively in Mexico since turning professional in 2014. He was undefeated over his first 20 bouts, including two draws, before suffering his first loss in his last fight in November against once-beaten Mikael Zewski in Canada. Davila notched his last victory via unanimous decision over Luciano Chaparro Araujo in July in Mexico.
“I know Taras has a tremendous amateur and professional career but I also got what it takes to beat anybody at this level,” Davila said. “I am coming to win this fight and hand Taras his first defeat. I will do my best to win this fight.”
The 26-year-old Pérez had 45 amateur fights with some international experience and currently trains with four-division world champion Leo Santa Cruz, whom he met through a family friend in 2016. Perez made his pro debut on the Santa Cruz-Carl Frampton undercard at MGM Grand in Las Vegas as Perez recorded a knockout against Javier Cepeda in January 2017. In his young career, Perez has also fought at Staples Center in Los Angeles on the Mikey Garcia-Robert Easter undercard scoring a second-round KO against Aaron Jamel Hollis. Perez started boxing at age 9 learning his craft at the High Desert Boxing Club in Victorville, Calif., in San Bernardino County.
“We have been knocking on doors for a while and finally that door has opened up to us,” Perez said. “It’s now time to show I belong in the ring with a guy like Zhora whom I respect but have the certainty I can beat. I’m coming to make a statement in my TV debut and show that I’m a force at lightweight.”
The 23-year-old Hamazaryan resides in Los Angeles and has fought on ShoBox twice, both memorable and exciting bouts against lightweight prospect Thomas Mattice. Hamazaryan lost the first matchup by split decision in July of 2018 after out-landing and out-powering Mattice in a fight many observers thought Hamazaryan clearly won. Hamazaryan earned a draw against Mattice in an immediate rematch two months later.
“I have had a tremendous camp and am excited to get back on ShoBox,” Hamazaryan said. “I feel I am still undefeated and the fans now know what I bring and that is a fighter who fights hard for the whole fight. I do not know much about my opponent except his record. I just fight my fight and I will bring home the victory.”
Barry Tompkins will call the action from ringside with boxing historian Steve Farhood and former world champion Raul Marquez serving as expert analysts. The executive producer is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.
Sampson Boxing Signs Thailand’s Apinun Khongsong to a Co-Promotional Contract
Promoter Sampson Lewkowicz proudly announces he has signed Bangkok, Thailand, slugger Apinun Khongsong to a co-promotional contract, along with Jimmy Chaichotchuang of Kiat Kreerin Promotions.
23-year-old Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs) is the mandatory challenger to WBA and IBF Super Lightweight World Champion Josh Taylor of Scotland. Khongsong became the IBF’s mandatory by scoring a fifth-round knockout over Akihiro Kondo this past February.
Co-promoter Chaichotchuang says he and Khongsong were in attendance for Taylor’s World Boxing Super Series unanimous decision victory over Ivan Baranchyk last May and the pair say they see holes in the Scotsman’s game.
“We are very confident,” said Chaichotchuang of Taylor. “We know we can beat him. My fighter is a very, very hard puncher and he will beat Josh. And when he does he will go on to become the ‘Pacquiao of Thailand.’”
Chaichotchuang says he’s happy to be working with his old partner Lewkowicz on the promising Thai’s career.
“I’ve known Sampson for almost 20 years and he’s a good man. I feel very good about this deal and for my fighter’s future.”
Lewkowicz, who says he will begin negotiations almost immediately for the Taylor vs. Khongsong match-up, says he’s also happy to have inked this co-promotional.
“I’ve known Jimmy for many years, and we’ve done a lot of good business together,” said Lewkowicz. “Jimmy is very loyal and honest and I’m very proud to be helping him represent the best fighter from Thailand in all of boxing. Khongsong is a very hard puncher and not many fighters will be able to take his punches, especially at 140 lbs.”
Boxing Insider Notebook: Killic, Russell, Nyambayar, Ortiz, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of December 31st to January 7th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Gary Russell Jr. to Defend His Title Against Unbeaten Mandatory Challenger Tugstsogt Nyambayar on February 8th
WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. will defend his 126-pound crown against unbeaten mandatory challenger Tugstsogt “King Tug” Nyambayar Saturday, February 8 live on SHOWTIME from PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania headlining a Premier Boxing Champions event.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will see former world champions Guillermo Rigondeaux and Liborio Solís battle for the vacant WBA Bantamweight World Title in the co-main event. The telecast opens with Jaime Arboleda meeting Jayson Veléz in a 12-round bout WBA Super Featherweight Title eliminator.
The main event showdown will see Russell make the fifth defense of his title as he looks to again display the skills and speed that have made him one of the elite featherweight fighters in the world. He will be challenged by the 2012 Olympic silver medalist “King Tug”, who quickly rose up the rankings facing quality opposition throughout his 11-fight career.
“Gary Russell Jr. has proven himself to be at the very elite level of this sport and one of the best fighters in the featherweight division,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “His speed, power and overall skillset has made him a must-watch every time he steps into that ring. He’s going to get all he can handle from an undefeated fighter in ‘King Tug’ Nyambayar, who has the pedigree and power to make this a memorable fight. You won’t want to blink during this high octane showdown February 8 on SHOWTIME from PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania.”
“The February 8 card is co-headlined by two of the most skilled boxers in the sport today,” said Stephen Espinoza, President Sports & Event Programming, Showtime Networks Inc. “Gary Russell Jr. – arguably the fastest hands in boxing – will be facing his toughest challenge as world champion against the aggressive power-puncher ‘King Tug’. And in the co-main event, Guillermo Rigondeaux, one of the best boxers on the planet since his days as an amateur in Cuba, moves down in weight to the bantamweight division for the first time in his pro career as he faces former world champion Liborio Solis with a world title at stake. Add in a compelling super featherweight eliminator and we have the makings of an action-packed tripleheader on February 8.”
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions and Kings Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased through www.pplcenter.com/events (direct link HERE ).
The Capitol Heights, Maryland native Russell (30-1, 18 KOs) has held his WBC Featherweight Title since 2015 when he stopped multiple division champion Jhonny Gonzalez to emphatically capture the belt. The 31-year-old is part of one of boxing’s premier fighting families as he is trained by his father Gary Sr., and trains alongside his younger brothers, unbeaten super lightweight Gary Antuanne and undefeated bantamweight Antonio. Russell most recently stopped former champion Kiko Martinez in May on SHOWTIME after previously defeating then unbeaten challenger Joseph Diaz Jr in 2018 in a hometown defense.
“I’m forced to defend my title against another mandatory challenger and I’m going to show on February 8 why none of the other champions want to face me,” said Russell. “I’m the longest current reigning WBC champion but no one has stepped up to the challenge I present. I’m going to take care of business against a strong opponent and display all my skills like I always do.”
The 27-year-old Nyambayar (11-0, 9 KOs) represented his native Mongolia in the 2012 Olympics but now lives in the U.S. and is training out of Las Vegas. Nyambayar ascended up the featherweight rankings after his extensive amateur career with victories over then unbeaten Harmonito Dela Torre and former interim champion Oscar Escandon. Most recently he won his first 12-round decision by defeating former champion Claudio Marrero in January.
“This is going to be an exciting fight for everyone watching on February 8,” said Nyambayar. “Gary Russell Jr. is a great championwho is very talented, but he has the WBC belt and that’s what I want. I’m training hard to win this fight and I will be ready for anything that Russell brings to the ring.”
Rigondeaux (19-1, 13 KOs) will look to move down and capture a title in a second weight class in his SHOWTIME debut. Since turning professional in 2009 after one of the best amateur careers in history, Rigondeaux has showcased masterful technical skills that made him a unified 122-pound world champion and perennial member of the pound-for-pound list. A two-time Olympic gold medalist for his native Cuba, Rigondeaux made his name with victories over the likes of Nonito Donaire, Rico Ramos and Joseph Agbeko. Most recently, Rigondeaux scored an exciting eighth-round stoppage of former champion Julio Ceja in June.
Born in Venezuela and fighting out of Panama, Solís (30-5-1, 14 KOs) will make his U.S. debut on February 8 while riding a five-fight winning streak. Solís captured a super flyweight world title in 2013 amidst a 14-bout unbeaten run. He has lost by decision in his two previous attempts at 118-pound title, including a controversial loss to Jamie McDonnell, which he has bounced back from on his current win streak.
Arboleda (15-1, 13 KOs) has ripped off five straight victories by stoppage since he suffered the only loss of his career against ReckyDulay in 2017. The 25-year-old Arboleda from Curundu, Panama will be fighting in the U.S. for the third time in his career. He’s coming off a knockout victory over Victor Betancourt on August 24.
The 31-year-old Veléz (29-5-1, 21 KOs) has strung together three straight knockout victories since losing to Ryan Garcia in 2018. The Juncos, Puerto Rico resident is coming off a knockout victory over Hector Ruben Ambriz Suarez on July 27 and is looking for another championship opportunity. He came up short in his previous attempt when he fought to a draw against Evgeny Gradovich for the featherweight world title in 2014.
Undefeated Lightweight Prospect Jamaine “The Technician” Ortiz Hammering His Way to Medical School
Undefeated World Boxing Council (WBC) Youth World lightweight champion Jamaine “The Technician” Ortiz (12-0, 6 KOs) isn’t a typical professional boxer whose life entirely revolves in and around the “Sweet Science.”
The 23-year-old Ortiz is also a licensed carpenter with diverse interests ranging from engineering and psychology to philosophy, and his ultimate post-boxing career aspiration is to attend medical school. First, though, Ortiz’ goal is to become world champion, which would be a first for a native of Worcester, Massachusetts.
“I was always fascinated by architecture, starting with my mother’s house, and that spun off to engineering,” Ortiz explained. “I wanted to learn how to build to better understand and became a carpenter after graduating from high school. I’m not worried about getting hurt at work. I do work with my hands, but I’m in the union and everything is safe, and I’m very careful.
“Medical school is my dream. I want to help people working with cells, blood and muscle tissues, understanding the body. I’m not sure if I’ll do research or be working with patients, maybe in internal medicine, but not in traditional medicine. I’m interested in natural, holistic medicine, and working for the benefit of people.”
Ortiz, who started boxing at the age of six, will return to the ring in early 2020 for, most likely, his final WBC Youth World title fight, because this title is for fighters 23 or younger, and Jamaine turns 24 on April 28.
The WBC World Youth title has been a stepping-stone for great champions such as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Timothy Bradley, Danny Garcia and Leo Santa Cruz, among the more notables.
“I’m proud to be the WBC World lightweight champion, but I’ll have to give it up in April when I turn 24.,” Ortiz remarked. “I’ll win bigger titles as I get older. This has been good for now, but I’m going on to bigger and better things. I’m confident that I’ll be world champion in 2021 and I want to be a multiple wight-class world champion before I retire.”
Ortiz recently gained even more confidence when Teofimo Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) captured the International Boxing Federation (IBF) World lightweight championship, knocking out defending champion Richard Commey in the second round this past December.
At the 2015 National Golden Gloves, Ortiz lost a decision to Lopez in the championship final. “He didn’t do that stuff to me (like he did to Commey),” Ortiz noted. “He didn’t beat me up. I lost a decision, but I showed that I could fight with him. He was nothing like you saw on television (vs. Commey), though. I’ve watched him get better and better.
So is Ortiz and before he swaps his boxing gloves for a stethoscope, he has unfinished business in boxing. Nothing short of capturing a world championship crown will satisfy “The Technician.”
Joey Spencer to Battle Erik Spring in FOX PBC Fight Night Action on January 18th
Top super welterweight prospect Joey Spencer will enter the ring to take on Erik Spring in a six-round showdown that opens up the FOX PBC Fight Night broadcast and on FOX Deportes Saturday, January 18 from Temple University’s Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.
FOX PBC Fight Night begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and is headlined by unified 154-pound champion and Philadelphia-native Julian “J-Rock” Williams making a homecoming defense against hard-hitting contender Jeison Rosario. The co-main event will feature undefeated rising star Chris “Prime Time” Colbert taking on former champion Jezreel Corrales for the Interim WBA Super Featherweight Title.
Preceding the main card on FOX, FOX PBC Fight Night Prelims on FS1 and FOX Deportes begin at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT and feature a 10-round super welterweight attraction between Mexico’s Jorge Cota (29-4, 26 KOs)and New Jersey’s Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna (28-2-1, 10 KOs). Plus, sensational 17-year-old prospect Vito Mielnicki Jr. (3-0, 3 KOs) steps in for a four round welterweight bout against West Virginia’s Preston Wilson (6-3-1, 4 KOs), while Puerto Rican prospect Romuel Cruz (3-0-1, 1 KO) competes in a four-round super bantamweight fight against Wisconsin’s Julio Garcia (3-3, 2 KOs) in the opener.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased at http://www.liacourascenter.com/events (direct link HERE) or by calling 800-298-4200.
The 19-year-old Spencer (9-0, 7 KOs) has made fast strides since turning pro in February 2018, including four victories on his 2019 campaign. Representing his hometown of Linden, Michigan, Spencer most recently stopped Travis Gambardella on FS1 in September after defeating Akeem Black on FOX in June. He will kick off 2020 against the 35-year-old Spring (13-3-2, 1 KO), who fought three times in 2019, winning twice. The Reading, Pennsylvania native dropped a decision to Courtney Pennington last time out but has won five of his last seven bouts.
The non-televised undercard will also feature Delaware-native Kyrone Davis (14-5, 2 KOs) in an eight-round middleweight fight against Atlanta’s Antonio Todd (7-2, 4 KOs), Philadelphia native Paul Kroll (6-0, 5 KOs) battling another Philadelphia native in Marcel Rivers (7-2, 4 KOs) for a six-round super welterweight affair, and super featherweight Ricky Lopez (21-4-1, 6 KOs) from Colorado Springs taking on Chicago’s Jose Luis Gallegos (18-8, 14 KOs) in a contest scheduled for 10 rounds.
Rounding out the action is Paterson, New Jersey’s Norman Neely looking to remain unbeaten against Georgia’s Larry Knight in a four-round heavyweight bout, Puerto Rico’s Luis Del Valle in an eight-round super lightweight duel and the pro debut of Philadelphia’s Miguel Angel Roman Jr. in a four-round featherweight affair.
Undefeated Super Middleweight Cem Kilic Ready for Undefeated Steven Nelson in Atlantic City
This Saturday night at The Hard Rock Hotel Atlantic City, undefeated super middleweight contender Cem Kilic will be looking to make a big statement as well as positioning himself for a world title shot when he takes on undefeated Steven Nelson in the co-feature bout of an ESPN televised card.
The bout was originally scheduled for December 14th in Madison Square Garden, but was moved to Saturday, where the fight will receive more exposure being shown live on ESPN.
Kilic of Neustadt Hessen, Germany of Turkish decent, and now calls Sherman Oaks, California, has a record of 14-0 with nine knockouts.
That record includes wins over two undefeated foes in JerhedFenderson and DeAndre Ware.
In his last bout, Kilic, 25 years-old, stopped tough Martez McGregor in the eighth round of their June 15th bout in Las Vegas.
Kilic, who is ranked number-seven by the WBA has been training in Vero Beach, Florida under the watchful eye of Hall of Fame trainer Buddy McGirt.
“I have had a great training camp with my Hall of Fame trainer Buddy McGirt in Vero Beach, Florida, and I feel really strong and sharp heading into fight week. This fight means so much to me, as I know my talents will be on display, and that a big win in front of a large audience on ESPN will take my career to the next level. I would like to thank my manager Shane Shapiro for all his belief in me and Top Rank and ESPN for giving me this opportunity to properly introduce myself to the US audience,” said Cem Kilic
“Cem is doing very well. Everything is going good and we just waiting until next week. The fight being put off was a blessing. It gave us more time to do what we need to do to win this fight,” said McGirt.
“This is the life changing opportunity Cem, and I spoke about when he first agreed to move here from Germany 6 years ago. Next Saturday, on January 11th, all of the American audience watching will see Cem Kilic’s hard core aggressive style of boxing combined with Buddy McGirt’s teaching of textbook boxing! I want to thank Bob Arum and Brad Goodman for the opportunity and their committed dedication to bringing boxing back to network television. I can’t wait for Saturday night,” said Kilic’ manager Shane Shapiro of No Limit Mindset LLC.