Joyce vs. Jennings and Dubois vs. Gorman Fight Preview
By: Oliver McManus
A Saturday night dedicated to the big bruising heavyweights of Frank Warren’s stable – Joe Joyce vs Bryant Jennings and Daniel Dubois vs Nathan Gorman at the top of the bill – promises to provide serious entertainment. The quality of the show, however, runs deeper than many UK fight nights of recent memory with three more title fights being televised; Liam Williams vs Karim Achour, Sunny Edwards vs Hiram Gallardo and Archie Sharp vs Jordan McCorry.
Dubois-Gorman is officially granted headliner status within the plethora of quality contests with the young dancing partners fighting for the vacant British title. Both men deserve credit, from the off, for their willingness to engage in such an evenly matched contest when, undoubtedly, easier nights would have been readily available. It is also pleasing to see them give so much credit and respect for the Lord Lonsdale belt amid a generation of fighters where the British title seems to be losing prestige and priority.
Dubois, 11-0 (10KOs), has long been the prized jewel of Warren’s growing collection of prospects and he’s been developing steadily since turning professional in April 2017. The middle ‘phase’ of his career, thus far, saw Dubois take on successive domestic names – AJ Carter, Dorian Darch, DL Jones and Tom Little – and put them away in devastating fashion. Of course the calibre of that quartet is vastly inferior but that run of fights saw Dubois collect English and Southern Area titles all before his 21st birthday.
The fight against Little saw the Peacock’s fighter piece together his shots sumptuously and, as we’ve seen on plenty of occasions, it was the body shots that did the damage; Little down in the fourth and then finished off in the fifth. Subsequently he has faced Kevin Johnson, Razvan Cojanu and Richard Lartey in a mixed bag of performances. The 10 rounder against Kevin Johnson was quite a monotonous affair with Dubois struggling to shake up any variety to his rhythm in the face of ‘Kingpin’s’ repeated dour negativity.
Cojanu and Lartey were more ‘traditional’ performances from Dubois as he lived up to his ‘Dynamite’ nickname – Cojanu was dealt with decisively inside two rounds with the most composed, well-measured performance of Dubois’ short career whilst the Lartey fight was a scrappier affair where the 21 year old ‘got involved’ but took care of business inside four rounds.
He’ll be providing the ‘fire’ to this fight, a refreshing contest, possessing the reputation for brutality and mesmerising power. His technique, equally, deserves respect with the finish against Lartey coming after three consecutive jabs prevented the Ghanaian from unfurling a shot of his own before Dubois pulled out the right hand and slamming into his opponent’s face.
Gorman, 16-0 (11KOs), shapes up as the more methodical fighter with natural athleticism and agility over brute strength and shoulders the size of fridges. The 23 year old has, however, made better use of his body since he inked a promotional contract with Warren and whilst any weight change has remained negligable he is far better proportioned than in some of his previous contests.
That strength and conditioning work is abundantly clear when you take into consideration his ability to work at a high tempo for extended periods of time. His fast hands are the obvious stand out trying to piece together a compilation of his best work but, actually, Ricky Hatton’s fighter seems a lot more naturally varied in his shot selection. An obvious comparisom to make is with his contest against Kevin Johnsom in which Gorman was able to remain on his toes and looked to try different things as the rounds went on – almost just to loosen up and see what was working.
He, too, is no stranger to fighting domestic fighters having faced Dominic Akinlade, at the time billed as big step up, in the same month that his upcoming protagonist made his debut; therein lies an obvious advantage. That extra 16 months, five figthts as it were, of professional experience means Gorman has gone through the motions that Dubois is currently – boxing puberty, if you like. The Nantwich man, let’s not forget, hasn’t always been in favour with Warren and has built himself up from the small halls of Waslall and Stoke-on-Trent in order to get here. Inherantly that instills extra grit within you.
Whilst both fighters are chomping at the bit to get the first real ‘livewire’ on their record you’d suggest Gorman is the more emotionally invested in this contest with Dubois refusing, really, to shake from being a man of few words. Gorman, meanwhile, seems agitated and eager to replace Dubois as ‘THE heavyweight prospect’.
A tale of two contrasting styles but two men that deserve respect for their willingness to get it on with little bones made about it – despite living in an era where the ‘0’ is glamourised as much as Gollum’s precious ring. As long as it doesn’t end up like Jack Catterall vs Ohara Davies, we’ll be in for a treat.
Joe Joyce (9-0) takes a significant step up in class in facing Bryant Jennings (24-3) in defence of the Juggernaut’s WBA ‘Gold’ title. In spite of the farcical title at stake this should be the sternest test of Joyce’s career – which has peaked and troughed dramatically – and the set-up an assault of the governing bodies for a world title.
Jennings, from Philadelphia, arrives in London for his first contest outside of the US and the seventh bout of his ‘comeback’ that resumed in 2017 following a loss to Luis Ortiz. ‘By-By’ was last in action against Oscar Rivas in a contest that he looked to be winning quite comfortably, until a resurgent Rivas turned the scew in the final round to knock the 34 year old out.
The other two losses only other loss to blight Jennings’ record is a wide points loss to Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 and the Philadelphian was hitting a strong run of form until encountering Rivas; dealing with Alexander Dimitrenko and Joey Dawejko at a canter. This, likewise for Joyce, is a big step up in comparison to recent opponents. The American is typically composed in his approach to a fight as he looks to pick off rounds and nullify the work of his counterpart rather than any all-out aggression.
The same can be said for Joyce who on a fair few ocassions has had his opponent in trouble – most notably against Iago Kiladze – but hasn’t shown that ‘nasty’ state of mind to callously go for the kill. Obviously against opponents such as Kiladze you’ll get a second bite of the cherry but that won’t be there when it comes to facing a world champion so I’d like to see an increased urgency from Joyce, especially when his opponent is there for the taking.
If Dubois vs Gorman is going to provide the fireworks for then night then the second heavyweight clash might be more of a slow-burner, a mellowed encounter but certainly no less of an opportunity for Joyce, a heavy favourite, to put in a needded performance to get him out of the ‘who needs him’ club.
A win on Saturday night for Liam Williams (20-2-1) will put the Welshman in a strong position for a world title challenge later in the year. He faces Karim Achour (27-5-3) for the WBC ‘Silver’ title in Williams’ third consecutive title fight at middleweight. In those two previous contests, against Mark Heffron and Joe Mullender, the Clydach Vale man has looked menacingly spiteful with a calculated breakdown of Heffron to claim the British title. His first defence against, an over-matched, Mullender finished in barbaric fashion following a heavy knock-down with one punch sending Mullender face first to the canvas.
Achour will provide seasoned opposition for Williams having been a professional for 11 years but his losses will be enough provide confidence for the home fighter. The most recent of which came against David Lemieux, for two WBC trinkets, in which Achour was embarrased for the 12 rounds – rarely landing a punch and looking completely out of his depth.
Given Williams’ experience of being in big fights – two scintilatting bouts with Liam Williams – you can be sure that he’ll remain a consumate professional but there’s a clear gulf in quality between the two men and it should only be a matter of time before that’s exploited.
Sunny Edwards (11-0) fights for the IBF International title at super flyweight where a win should send him into the Top 5 with the governing body. His opponent, Hiram Gallardo (12-2-2), is an unknown quantity to British fight fans but the available footage suggests he’ll be similar to Junior Granados, Edwards’ last opponent of 2018.
Edwards has quickly risen up the rings with Frank Warren’s table to secure his place as a regular TV fighter and he always delivers on that faith. The 23 year old is always bouncing around the ring, quite literally, and it is his footwork that leaves most of his opponents unstuck; they just don’t quite know where to go and then end up being within the ‘strike zone’ for Edwards to flurry away with a series of punches. Against Matos he was particularly impressive with the way he dipped the legs and then sprung up into a real powerful left hand, bolting diagonally upwards and doing some real damage to the ear-drum of his Portuguese opponent.
The last title fight of the nght sees Archie Sharp (15-0) make the first defence of his WBO European super featherweight title against Jordan McCorry (18-5-1). Sharp was initially scheduled to face Lucas Ballingall in March before injury forced him to pull out; he returned from that injury in April with a two-round blow-out against Sergio Gonzalez. Being part of a packed super featherweight division that features Sam Bowen and Zelfa Barrett, to name just two, there are plenty of fights to pique the interest of Sharp. He’ll look to deal with McCorry in more convincing fashion than, stablemate, Bowen did in March.
McCorry lost that encounter via a ninth round TKO on a night where the Scotsman didn’t seem quite right. Warnings came thick and fast from Marcus McDonnell and it prompted McCorry to become overly cautious through fear of disqualification so it will be interesting to see if we get a more relaxed fight this time around.
It’s an action packed night of boxing from Frank Warren, who seems to have had a kick up the jacksie, where entertainment should be rife from top to bottom but it’s all about the glamour division, isn’t it? Daniel Dubois vs Nathan Gorman – two unbeaten, young, hungry prospects looking to win the British title and a spot at the centre of Warren’s plans. Let the best man win because doors will open, that’s for certain.
Tune in to the whole night of action live on BT Sport from 7pm on Saturday 13th and airing on ESPN+ across the States.
Saunders Achieves & Underwhelms In Equal Measure
By: Ste Rowen
At the Lamex Stadium on Saturday night, Billy Joe Saunders took the WBO super-middleweight crown at the first time of asking but left a lot to be desired for the fans; whilst Joe ‘The Juggernaut’ Joyce lumbered to an early stoppage victory over aged gatekeeper, Ustinov.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; well that’s the mentally that BJ Saunders seemed to enter the ring with when he faced up against Shefat Isufi on Saturday night. The former WBO 160lb world champion saw his opponent, Shefat, as a steppingstone and used him as such. Right from the first bell, the Brit was cruising as he made Isufi constantly miss multiple combinations and fired back with quick hands but a lack of fight-ending power.
At one-point Saunders taunted Isufi in the same way he played with David Lemieux – making his opponent miss widely and then looking into the distance – but, whereas that night in Quebec Billy Joe was facing a legitimate threat with bout-changing power, tonight it was more like Drogon coming up against the Golden Company but less exciting and much more predictable. The away fighter had no answer, struggling to lay a single shot on his confident foe, who continued to call him forward to try and land cleanly.
There was a shaky moment for Saunders in the 6th, when Isufi landed hard with two right hooks that left Billy shakily stepping backwards onto the ropes, but he was savvy enough to move in for the clinch and avoid taking any more significant blows. But it was the only bright spark in a rough night for Shefat. Both men made it to the final bell and the judges scorecards returned as; 120-108, 118-110, 117-111, all in favour of Billy Joe Saunders.
Now a two-weight world champion, Saunders, 28-0 (13KOs) spoke post-fight,
‘‘He caught me in the 6th but he didn’t have me where my legs were gone. I haven’t been in a meaningful fight for 14 months. He’s number one with the WBO for a reason so he’s obviously good.
My ability will always get me further in the sport…I want the big fights, the big names, the big domestic fights and unifications. I moved up from middleweight cos none of them wanted to fight me.’’
It remains to be seen who Billy’s next opponent will be, but with names such as Chris Eubank Jr and Callum Smith, amongst others, fighting at 168lb, Saunders and promoter, Frank Warren will be hard pressed to find an easy matchup they can pass off on the fans if they try.
The co-main event at the Lamex stadium on Saturday night saw Joe Joyce continue his rise towards contending for the top brass of the glamour division, with a 3rd round stoppage of Alexander ‘The Great’ Ustinov. The ‘Juggernaut’ attempted to jump on his opponent immediately; striking from the first bell and forcing Ustinov to either fight fire with fire or look to make it awkward; and credit to the Russian he tried his best to fight back with his own hooks but struggled to get in close to the younger man.
Joyce has a tendency to feint in the slowest possible way and yet still make his opponent take a step back and flinch. So though the speed of the Olympic silver medallist might not be close to someone such as Tyson Fury, the power is clearly a big worry for his rivals. At the start of round 3, Joyce really went in for the finisher, forcing Ustinov to retreat in any and every gap in the ring he could find. Joe through his punches in bunches but began to struggle to land cleanly, even taking a big right hand from his opponent which only briefly halted the ‘Juggernaut’s’ offense. Then, with 1:12 left on the clock, Joyce landed a thudding left hook, dropping Alexander to the canvas, and signalling the end of the bout as Ustinov made a feeble attempt to beat the count.
It wasn’t slick, and it won’t live long in the memory, but it does improve Joyce to 9-0 (9KOs) and the heavyweight prospect spoke to BBC Sport post-fight,
‘‘I just thought I’d start fast and see what would come back…He’s a seasoned veteran and every round was different…I came in warm and ready and it’s great to put in a performance here in Stevenage.
I’d like a world title by the end of the year and set myself up for some really big fights in 2020.’’
ESPN+ Boxing Preview: Saunders Looking to Become Two-Weight Champion
By: Ste Rowen
It’s been a long time, if ever, that someone has recognised Saunders as the #1 in his division, but on Saturday night the slick southpaw has the opportunity to present himself to a new weight class when he steps into the ring with Shefat Isufi for the vacant WBO super-middleweight title.
‘‘I had a terrible 2018, my title was robbed off me.’’ Saunders, 27-0 (13KOs) told the media on Thursday, ‘‘I jumped at this fight when it was offered, and I will become a two-weight world champion.’’
The former world champion was stripped of his WBO middleweight belt last year just weeks before his showdown with Demetrius Andrade when the Brit failed a drugs test for the banned stimulant oxilofrine. It was a moment that set fire to any of the momentum Saunders had carried through from his 2017 dismantling of David Lemieux. Instead of Andrade in October, Billy Joe fought and beat Charles Adamu in December; a bout in which he weighed in at 178lb.
But training again with Ben Davison and sharing the gym with Tyson Fury, Sanders believes he’s back to his best and ready for more than just becoming a two-weight world champion,
‘‘I’ve been training with Ben and it’s been good, enjoyable and great bouncing around with Tyson. I’m enjoying boxing again.
If I do bring it, I should box his head off. Whatever he brings I will fetch ten-fold more…I’m not looking past Isufi, but I am looking for the big names. I know I’ve got it inside me, and nobody’s seen my best…I have to be on my A game and send a message to the other super middleweights.’’
Isufi, 27-3-2 (20KOs), shouldn’t, in theory, set too big of a challenge for the former middleweight champion. Sitting at number one of the WBO’s 168lb rankings, the Serbian-born German has a basic style that, if he doesn’t jump on Billy Joe early, will mean he’ll paying for it as the fight draws on.
Shefat, the former WBO ‘Inter-Continental’ holder also spoke ahead of Saturday,
‘‘If Billy Joe did win, I will congratulate him, but it will be the other way around. He is quick and a hard puncher, but I can also punch, and one punch can make the difference.’’
However, if Saunders is anywhere close to the fighter that defeated Lemieux, or Andy Lee, the UK could be crowning its newest world champion by Saturday night.
Co-main for Saturday’s night world title bout at the Lamex Stadium in Hertfordshire, is ‘The Juggernaut’ Joe Joyce as he attempts to topple Alexander Ustinov as Joyce continues his climb to the summit of the heavyweights.
Joyce, 8-0 (8KOs) was last seen in the ring making swift, brutal work of Bermane Stiverne’s head and body when, in February, the former WBC world champion was broken down by the thudding puncher in six rounds. The Commonwealth champion is keen to continue his knockout streak but is fully aware of the experience his opponent holds,
‘‘Ustinov is a very experienced, big, strong, tough and this is a step up. I have to beat him to get to the next level.’’
Alexander ‘The Great’ Ustinov at 42-years-old is undoubtedly coming to the end of his career and goes into Saturday’s matchup on the back of two defeats. In November 2017, the Russian, 34-3 (25KOs) was dropped en route to a 12-round decision loss to Manuel Charr, then one year later he was stopped by rising heavyweight star, Michael Hunter in nine rounds. The ‘Juggernaut’ however is looking at Ustinov’s strengths rather than his pitfalls,
‘‘I know what he has in his arsenal and what I have to do to beat him. He can punch but I take a shot and give one back.
I’m looking for nine KOs out of nine.’’
Gilberto Ramirez Opens the Door for Billy Joe Saunders to Make History
By: Shane Willoughby
Gilberto Ramirez vacated his WBO Super Middleweight Title on Monday; a title he has held since 2016, making 7 successful title defenses.
Ramirez looked impressive in his last bout moving to 40-0.
The Mexican was expected to relinquish his title last month after his stoppage of Tommy Karpency at Light Heavyweight. Gilberto Ramírez’s Jump up to 175lbs is inevitable and in the process, he has presented an amazing opportunity for Billy Joe Saunders to make history.
Saunders (27-0) will be fighting for the vacant WBO Super Middleweight title this Saturday against Shefat Isufi, looking to become only the 6th English born fighter to be a 2 weight-world champion.
Saunders could possibly join Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank Sr and Ricky Hatton with a victory over Isufi.
The British fighter was stripped of his WBO Middleweight title last year after failing a drug test for a nasal spray, but has since then, decided to continue his career at 168lbs.
If the former Middleweight champion is victorious this Saturday, it could present some big domestic fights for him, including a rematch with Eubank Jr and a possible unification fight with Callum Smith.
Similarly to Saunders, Ramirez being a former WBO champion, means that he is entitled to fight for the belt at the weight class above.
The Mexican could possibly become mandatory for the title at 175lbs, where Sergey Kovalev looks to be defending his title against Anthony Yarde.
Regardless what route Ramirez takes, it appears that his time at the Super-Middleweight division is over, and Britain may have a new world champion in the process.
Saunders Wants the Canelo Fight
By: Michael Kane
Billy Joe Saunders is due to face German based Albanian Shefat Isufi on May 18th at Stevenage FC’s Lamex Stadium for the vacant WBO world super middleweight title.
However one man is on his mind as he took to Frankwarren.com to call out Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
Canelo unified the WBC, WBA Super and IBF middleweight titles at the weekend with his win over Daniel Jacobs at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Former WBO world middleweight champion Saunders said, “I would love the Canelo fight, but does he want to fight me? I don’t think so.
“If they do want to fight me, ring me up. I am not asking for millions. Just be fair with me and we can get the show on the road.
“Canelo has cemented his name, made good money and is a superstar in the sport. I wouldn’t say he is avoiding me, but there are plenty of people he can pick apart from Billy Joe Saunders.
“That is a fact. Who wants to fight a slick southpaw who is hard to hit?
“It could be middleweight or super-middleweight. I want the big fights and that is a reason I am moving up to super-middleweight. I cannot get the big fights at middleweight.”
Jacob’s had agreed to a clause in that he couldn’t regain too much weight on the day of the fight, he came in 3.6 lbs over this and was penalised by approx $750,000.
Saunders said this wouldn’t restrict him.
“I wouldn’t be restricted for any weight clauses at all.
“Daniel Jacobs was clearly struggling to come in the next day only three pounds over the agreed weight. If he wanted to balloon up he would have been eight or nine pounds above what he was at the weigh-in.
“That has cost him a lot of money and I believe that took a bit of performance away from Jacobs.”
If Saunders can become a two weight world champion by adding the Super middleweight title, he would be interested in facing fellow Englishman WBA super champion Callum Smith in a unification bout.
Saunders said, “Callum is a good fighter and big, but I think people go on about size in this sport too much.
“We saw David Haye beating Nikolai Valuev. Size doesn’t matter in this sport.
“If you’re good enough, you’re good enough, end of and I believe I am good enough to beat Callum Smith. That is a fight I would entertain.”
80th Anniversary of Joe Louis’ Knockout Over Jack Roper
By: Aaron Sutcliffe
“Some of the fans are already calling him the greatest champion of all-time” – two minutes and 20 seconds later, Joe Louis has successfully retained his World Heavyweight title for the sixth time.
On the 17th of April 1939, 80 years ago to the day, the “Brown Bomber” was embarking on what remains the longest individual heavyweight championship reign in the history of the sport – 11 years, eight months and eight days.
His victim that Monday evening in April 1939 was Jack Roper, one of 25 opponents Louis would beat as champion.
Alabama born Louis racked up 24 professional wins before suffering his first defeat to German Max Schmeling, who had Louis down in the fourth round before knocking him out in the 12th with the fight named as Ring Magazine’s “Fight of the Year” for 1936.
Louis responded by winning his next seven fights before claiming the Heavyweight title from James J. Braddock, despite being knocked down in the first, which would start his 140-month reign as champion.
He was the clear favourite heading into the Roper bout, having won his previous two fights with first-round knock-outs, which included avenging his sole career loss to Schmeling.
Louis became an American hero with that victory over Schmeling, with the fight being dubbed as Nazism against democracy by American press (despite Schmeling not being a Nazi), becoming one of the first widely admired African American’s.
His opponent, Roper, was on one of the best runs of his well-travelled career, which included impressive back-to-back wins against Patsy Perroni and Jorge Brescia, but lacked consistency as a fighter, having endured 39 professional losses before his bout with Louis.
Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California, was selected as the venue for the fight, with 25,000 spectators blissfully unaware they were about to witness arguably the greatest boxer of all-time claim yet another first-round knock-out victory.
The “Brown Bomber” weighed in three pounds lighter than the challenger (201lbs to 204lbs) with Roper’s game plan clear from the offset – trying to get on the inside of Louis.
But as Louis once famously quipped: “Everyone has a plan until they’ve been hit”.
A short, sharp left hook from Louis would be Roper’s downfall after some fiery exchanges of punches between the pair, the champion followed up with several vicious crosses and hooks to the head.
Roper tried to get back to his feet, only to fall back down to the canvas, failing to beat the count as so many of Louis’ foes did, with the first heavyweight title fight in California for 30 years over in just two minutes and 20 seconds.
The pugilist that Louis was meant he showed nothing but respect to his veteran opponent after the bout with the Ludington Daily News reporting that when speaking of Roper, Louis said: “He threw a left that I sure felt and was more than Max Schmeling or John Henry Lewis did”.
Roper painted a blunter picture, saying: “That Louis hits like a load of dynamite”.
Whilst this particularly victory may be forgotten about, considering the legacy Louis’ left not only for boxing but also African American’s, his own words best describe his attitude to life.
“I done the best I could with what I had”.
More Boxing History
DAZN Boxing Preview: Bivol vs. Smith Jr., Hooker vs. LesPierre
By: William Holmes
The Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York will be the host site for Saturday’s latest boxing offering by DAZN and will feature two separate title fights. The co-main event will be between Maurice Hooker and Mikkel LesPierre for the WBO Junior Welterweight Title and between Dmitry Bivol and Joe Smith Jr. for Bivol’s WBA Light Heavyweight Title.
The undercard also features some entertaining and competitive bout. Callum Johnson will meet Seanie Monaghan in the light heavyweight division, Sergey Kuzmin will meet Joey Dawejko in the heavyweight division, and Yamaguchi Falcao and Paul Mendez in the middleweight division. Prospects such as Otha Jones III and Junior Younan will also be featured.
Photo Credit: DAZN Boxing USA Twitter Account
The following is a preview of the two title fights on the card.
Maurice Hooker (25-0-3) vs. Mikkel LesPierre (21-0-1); WBO Junior Welterweight Title
Maurice Hooker exploded into the boxing scene when he won the WBO Junior Welterweight Title over Terry Flanagan at the Manchester Arena in Manchester.
He has defended the title once since then and looks to defend again against Mikkel LesPierre.
Hooker will have a three inch height advantage over LesPierre. He will also be five years younger than LesPierre, who is thirty four years old.
Both boxers have been relatively active recently. Hooker fought twice in 2018 and in 2017. LesPierre fought three times in 2018 and three times in 2017.
Both boxers had moderate success as an amateur. Hooker was a Dallas Regional Golden Gloves Champion and LesPierre competed as an amateur with moderate success.
Hooker has beaten the likes of Alex Saucedo, Terry Flanagan, Courtney Jackson, Cristobal Cruz, and Ty Barnett. He had draws with Darleys Perez, Abel Ramos, and Tyron Chatman.
LesPierre has beaten nobody of note. His biggest wins to date were against Gustavo David Vittori, Noel Murphy, and Mario Beltre.
This doesn’t appear to be a very competitive fight for Maurice Hooker. Les Pierre turned pro late and has never faced someone on Hooker’s level. Hooker should walk away with the win.
Dmitry Bivol (15-0) vs. Joe Smith Jr. (24-2); WBA Light Heavyweight Title
Dmitry Bivol is considered by many to be the best light heavyweight in the world. The former amateur Russian National Champion will face the heavy handed Joe Smith Jr.
Both boxers are in their prime with Bivol being 28 years old and Smith being 29 years old. Both boxers are also six feet tall. Bivol does have an edge in amateur experience as e was Russian National Champion and Smith was a New York Golden Gloves Champion.
Smith however, had a big edge in power as he had twenty stoppage victories while Bivol has eleven.
However, Bivol appears ready to face the power of Smith. He stated, “I am ready to fight. I hope Joe is ready too. We will make a great fight.”
Bivol has been the more active boxer of the two. Bivol fought three times in 2018 and four times in 2017. Smith only fought once in 2018, once in 2017, and three times in 2016.
Bivol has defeated the likes of Jean Pascal, Isaac Chilemba, Sullivan Barrera, Trent Broadhurst, Cedric Agnew, and Samuel Clarkson.
Smith has defeated the likes of Bernard Hopkins, Andrzej Fonfara, and Will Rosinsky. His losses were to Sullivan Barrera and Eddie Caminero.
Despite the fact Smith has been defeated before, the magnitude of this title fight is not lost on him. He recently stated, “This is what every fighter dreams of, to get a shot at a world title and this is my shot.”
It will be interesting to see how Bivol responds to a power shot from Smith, if he’s able to land one, but Bivol is a very good technical boxer and he should be able to walk away with the decision.
Joe Smith Jr. Plans to “Outwork” Bivol
By: Sean Crose
“Winning a World title would mean everything to me,” light heavyweight contender Joe Smith Jr says. “It’s everything I have worked towards my whole life. I cannot even express how I will feel when I win this title.” Smith, who will be facing WBA World Light Heavyweight Champion Dmitry Bivol this Saturday night at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, is aiming to grasp the holy grail of the professional boxer – a world title belt. “Dmitry is a great fighter,” Smith says of defending champ, Bivol, “very busy and active. My plan is to stay just as active and be busier than him, to outwork him. I plan to punch when he punches and make it a great fight.”
Smith made his mark by knocking out Bernard Hopkins in the great fighter’s final match back in December of 2016. In his next fight, however, Smith was bested by Sullivan Barrera via unanimous decision in July of 2017. Smith came back by knocking out Melvin Russel in June of last year. “The fans are in for a great show on Saturday,” Smith says.“They will see a new and improved Joe Smith Jr., the new Light-Heavyweight champion of the world.” As for Bivol, his last fight was a UD win over popular veteran, and former world champion, Jean Pascal last November in Atlantic City.
The Bivol-Smith battle will be broadcast live on the DAZN streaming service, and will be presented by Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing and Matchroom Boxing. “I would like to thank Joe DeGuardia, Star Boxing, DAZN and Matchroom for this opportunity,” says Smith. “I am looking forward to raising that belt, and finally reaching my dream of becoming a World champion.” Although the 24-2 Long Island native is going to have his hands full against the undefeated, 15-0, Bivol, he would insert himself into the heart of the highly competitive light heavyweight division should he once again score a considerable upset.
“Smith Jr’s clash with Bivol is part of a huge night of action at Turning Stone Resort Casino,” Matchroom Boxing states, “with a second mouthwatering World title fight on the bill in the shape of Maurice Hooker (25-0-3 17 KOs) defending his WBO World Super-Lightweight title against Brooklyn’s Mikkel LesPierre (21-0-1 10KOs).” Saturday will represent the 29 year old Smith’s first shot at a world title, though he’s fought for, and held the World Boxing Council International Light Heavyweight Title.
Showtime Boxing Results: Eubank Defeats DeGale, Joyce Batters Stiverne
By: Ste Rowen
Chris Eubank Jr forced himself into the super-middleweight world scene tonight with a deserved unanimous decision victory over former world champion, James DeGale.
Now improving his record to 28-2 (21KOs), the victor spoke post-fight,
‘‘I knew he was gonna come in there and run and use his boxing skills. I’ve been working a lot on my jab…The game plan worked. Smart pressure. Not getting too ahead of myself.
I dominated pretty much every single round…A lot of people said I was gonna lose, and now I’m onto big and better things.’’
Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing Twitter Account
The defeated DeGale, now 25-3-1 (15KOs), sounding a little dazed also spoke, ‘‘I’ve left my mark in boxing…I didn’t do enough, but when you’re in there with someone like Chris on you; punches you don’t even see.
I’ve been to the heights of boxing. If I call it a day now…’’
It was cold in the O2 Arena, but not for long.
As James DeGale vs. Chris Eubank Jr drew nearer, the atmosphere felt more claustrophobic. As though the crowd was inching their seats forwards every time the stewards looked away. By the time the main-event fighters were in the ring, the audience was practically breathing down their necks.
From the 1st round it was setup perfectly, DeGale in all-black, Eubank in all-white but both decided to size each other up through the first. DeGale, in the southpaw stance, allowed himself to become a little too susceptible to Eubank’s right hand which forced a small cut to James’ left eye early on.
The first minute of round 2 is where the action came alive. Eubank Jr landed a sharp left hook that unsteadied DeGale and, through a flurry of punches, eventually forced the referee into recognising that James had been knocked down. DeGale’s experience was telling as he survived the rest of the round, but it was obvious that Chris was well on top.
In the corner, the former IBF champion was complaining about something in his eye – it was a bad sign for a man already behind. But Eubank, like his opponent, sustained a cut this time under his right eye, it didn’t stop the Brighton-man from ending the 4th the stronger. Through to the 7th, Eubank stalked the perceived boxer across the ring whilst the former gold medallist did very little to reply.
As round 7 ended, DeGale stuck his tongue out to his opponent, which was an odd move considering Chris seemingly bossed the end of the round. DeGale kept switching between southpaw and orthodox, but neither was breaking through.
As the fight headed into the 10th Eubank seemed well on top. DeGale hit the canvas for the second time as Eubank landed a beauty of a left hook that shook up the former world champion, forced James onto the ropes and eventually the ground. DeGale survived, but it was clear he needed the KO, but it was Eubank Jr that came out swinging. By the end of the 11th, career-southpaw DeGale was orthodox and everywhere.
Both fighters raised their arms as the final bell rang but it seemed cleared who’d won. DeGale, the legitimate former world title holder had fallen well short.
Of course it’s never a chore to hear Jimmy Lennon Jr and it wasn’t this time as he read out the judge’s cards of, 114-112, 115-112, 117-109 all for Eubank Jr.
Joe Joyce vs. Bermane Stiverne
Joe ‘The Juggernaut’ Joyce took another step up in quality tonight as the British Olympian (2016 Silver) scored a 6th round stoppage of former world champion, Bermane Stiverne.
Dominant from beginning to end, the Commonwealth champion, now 8-0 (8KOs), spoke post-fight,
‘‘Big respect to Stiverne. He was very tough, still game, still tough. Only Wilder with that phenomenal power could take him out…My able condition in Big Bear.
Big things to come. Next one for the WBA ‘Regular’. Couple of weeks off and then back in the gym…I’ve barred all (The top heavyweights) bar Wilder, but I’m coming.’’
In a fight designated as a WBA eliminator Joyce had his chin checked at least twice in the 1st round but seemed unaffected and continued to pursue his prey. His shots may look slow, but Joe’s arms are long and thudding once landed and clearly leave an effect. Stiverne looked apprehensive as he stepped off his stool for the 2nd however he did begin to throw back, but only for a brief spell. The ‘Juggernaut’ fired clubbing shot after clubbing shot without reply for most of the round. Testament to the former world champion, Bermane for staying upright.
Round 3 brought the first knockdown as Joyce landed a lengthy right hook that sent the American into the ropes and forced the knockdown. Bermane continued but it felt pointless. Stiverne looked drunk as he tried to evade Joyce’s heavy combinations but survived into the 6th.
Joe dominated behind the left-hand jab until he seemed to switch flavour and fired hook and power shot continuously, forcing referee Howard Foster into stopping the fight midway through round six. There were no complaints from the away fighter.
Lee Selby vs. Omar Douglas
Fighting in his first lightweight bout, and for a minor title at 135lb, Lee ‘Lightning’ Selby bounced back from his May 2018 defeat to Josh Warrington to rough it out in a twelve round unanimous decision victory over American, Omar Douglas.
‘‘That was one of the toughest.’’ Selby said. ‘‘In the fight I kept on undoing their (His cut-men’s) good work.
Douglas was supposed to be a big puncher and I held his shots well…If my management says I’m fighting Anthony Joshua tomorrow, I wouldn’t turn it down.’’
In his signature white and gold shorts, Selby of Wales, forced an energetic start onto the American. Lee clearly wanted to make an early impression in what was a new division for him. Douglas’ dreads (white at the start but red by the end) were wrapped up much like his hands, so every time Selby landed a clean jab, Omar’s head fired back and made him look like Ridley Scott’s Alien.
But towards the end of round two a bloody cut on the eye of Lee Selby opened up, much like in his fight vs. Warrington. It didn’t stutter his performance for that round, but it did create a new element to the fight. The Welshman continued to fire off well, despite the cut, but it was clear Lee wasn’t as urgent in his offence as before the cut.
Omar has spent his career bouncing between 130-135 and as the rounds drew on he was giving Lee, who’d jumped 9lb in weight, a rough entry into the lightweight division. By the time of the final bell it was close as well as clear that ‘Lightning’ had taken the rough alleyway to enter 135lb.
Final scorecards were 116-112, 116-112, 115-114 all in favour of Lee Selby.
Demetrius Andrade vs Billy Joe Saunders: The Makings of a Great Technical Fight
By: Waqas Ali
As we edge closer to the making of this bout, fans are filled with anticipation.
Former champion Billy Joe Saunders looks like he will get a chance to recapture his WBO middleweight crown as he appears to be close to fighting Demetrius Andrade, who holds the belt.
The pair were initially meant to fight on October 20th 2018, but when Saunders tested positive for a banned substance called Oxilofrine in August, it cost him a licence from the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission.
Saunders then vacated the belt in fear of being stripped.
Andrade (27-0) fought for the belt against Walter Kautondokwa and won by unanimous decision.
He then recently stopped Artur Akavov in the 12th round to make his first successful defence of the belt.
Andrade, 30, was then ordered by the WBO to negotiate a deal with Saunders within 30 days.
“They’ve called purse bids,” Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren said.
“We’ve got a negotiation period then we’ll go to purse bids.”
He continued, “Good news for Bill, we worked very hard to get him back in the number one spot. He should be the champion.”
Currently, Saunders is the no.1 challenger by the WBO and ranked no.3 by Ring Magazine in the middleweight division.
His recent bout was over a month ago when he fought on the undercard of Josh Warrington vs Carl Frampton in December 2018.
Saunders, 29, defeated Charles Adamu via fourth-round TKO. But the bout itself was not part of BT Sport’s live TV coverage.
It was his first win since defeating David Lemieux in December 2017.
Amongst boxing fans on social media Saunders is the favourite to win against Andrade.
According to a poll conducted by boxing fan page Editinking on Twitter, out of 4,900 plus voters, 65% of them picked Saunders by decision, 15% by KO/TKO and only 14% for Andrade by points.
Demetrius Andrade vs Billy Joe Saunders
Who wins? #AndradeSaunders
— EditinKing Boxing (@EditinKing) January 22, 2019
Saunders even tweeted as a response upon hearing the WBO’s request for Andrade to fight the Englishman.
Saying: “I’ll take that thank you ‘ #ITsMeAgain”
— billyjoesaunders (@bjsaunders_) January 21, 2019
The scorpion inside the system of Saunders is suddenly starving for its prey.
But what styles and statistics support each fighter?
Saunders has a record consisting of 27 wins and zero losses.
His height is five feet 11 inches and a reach of 71”. He’s fought once outside the UK and averaged 716,000 in terms of viewership for the main event against Lemieux, according to Showbuzz Daily.
In terms of competition, he’s fought Chris Eubank Jr, Andy Lee and David Lemieux.
According to Compubox review, Saunders throws more jabs (25) than he does with power (13) punches per round.
The average middleweight throws around 57 and lands at a rate of 16 per round. Whilst Saunders only lands at 10. His connecting of jabs rate at six, whereas the average fighter lands at four.
The defence of Saunders is a plus point when only 18% of punches landed by his opponents with seven landing per round. That’s only half of the middleweight average.
Saunders is often known to be a 12 round fighter and hardly looks for a knockout. Considering the fact that 13 of his 27 wins were by decision. In his last six wins, four of them were point’s wins.
He starts off cleanly using his footwork and jabbing to the head and body. He uses his head movement really well and avoids exchanges.
Andrade is a bit taller at 6 foot 1 and a reach of 73”. He is already a two-weight world champion and 17 of his 27 wins come by KO. In his last six wins, three were by decision and three by KO.
Andrade’s activity level is reasonably high, considering the fact that he throws around 60 punches per round and lands around 18.
Another stat of a plus point is the power punching department. He throws around 32 and lands at 14 punches per round. That is three times higher than the average middleweight. He has a connect percentage of 45% and rest of the middleweights land at 37%.
One must keep in mind that Lemieux also had a higher activity and landing rate than Saunders but did not do enough to win and had no solution whatsoever to the style of Saunders.
Nobody can underestimate the talent of both fighters and the kind of skills, styles and seriousness they bring to the table. The compatibility is great. The numbers suggest the kind of game each fighter likes to play. Saunders is more of a chess player and could as well lead in the jab category. Andrade could as well lead in the power and connecting rate. But many questions will be asked. How will Andrade keep up with the footwork and timing of Saunders? Will he be able to keep up with the activity rate? Will Saunders produce a thrilling performance against Andrade as he did with Lemieux?
Billy Joe Saunders Added To Warrington-Frampton 12/22 Manchester Bill
By Jake Donovan
Billy Joe Saunders will get to fight in 2018 after all.
The unbeaten former middleweight titlist will end more than a year’s worth of inactivity when he steps into the ring on December 22 in Manchester, England. Frank Warren, Saunders’ promoter announced that the Brit will appear on an already loaded undercard in supporting capacity to the sizzling main event between defending featherweight titlist Josh Warrington and former two-division champion Carl Frampton.
Saunders’ appearance is largely of the showcase variety, as his last-minute placement comes with a last-minute type of opponent. Awaiting the 29-year old will be Hungary’s Zoltan Sera (32-17-1, 22KOs), a 33-year old globetrotter who has been knocked out nearly every time he’s strayed from the Hungary/Slovakia region.
Still, it’s as uplifiting an ending that Saunders (26-0, 12KOs) can enjoy in what has otherwise been a year to forget.
The brash boxer represented Great Britain in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a tour which ended in controversy and hasn’t come close to slowing down on that front since turning pro one year later. His career-best highlights—wins over Andy Lee to claim the middleweight title and a dominant decision win over former champ David Lemieux last December—were both squandered by inactivity due to injuries and a series of questionable out-of-the-ring decisions that have left him with just three fights in the past three years.
In the ring, Saunders remains as formidable a challenge as any middleweight on the planet. Getting him in the ring, however, has proven to be the greatest challenge of a career approaching 10 years in service. He was due to face countryman Martin Murray (who also appears on the December 22 undercard versus former tiltist Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam), but twice withdrew due to injury. The latter fallout was largely questioned by Murray and many in the industry, its timing interestingly convenient with Saunders being named as a possible foe for Gennady Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez at a point when the two middleweight superstars were in a stalemate in attempting to renegotiate plans for their rematch. Once they finally reached terms for their eventual September clash, Saunders moved on to a scheduled October title defense versus a fellow unbeaten 2008 Olympian in Rhode Island’s Demetrius Andrade in Boston, Massachusetts.
As has been the case throughout his three-year title reign, the end result was yet another canceled fight—this one resulting in Saunders being stripped of his middleweight title after testing positive for a banned substance. The Brit attributed the anomaly to an adverse effect from a nasal decongestant inhalation, but the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission didn’t buy his alibi in denying him a license during a special hearing less than two weeks out from fight night. Andrade went on to win the vacant title in a lopsided 12-round decision over Namibia’s Walter Kautondokwa, while Saunders vowed to get his career back on track and his belt back around his waist.
December 22 will mark the first step towards that rebuilding process—barring any more mishaps in Saunders’ bizarre career.
The show will air live on BT Sport in the United Kingdom and on ESPN+ in the United States. Also appearing on the bill, unbeaten featherweight Michael Conlan—a 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist in Rio and a highly controversial casualty of the 2016 Rio Olympics for Ireland—faces Jason Cunningham, while his good friend Paddy Barnes—a three-time Olympian and two-time Olympic Bronze medalist for Ireland—returns for the first time since a suffering a knockout loss in a failed title bid versus champ Cristofer Rosales earlier this year.
Showtime PPV Undercard Results: Hurd, Ortiz, and Joyce Stomp their Competition
By: William Holmes
The Staples Center in Los Angeles, California was the host site for tonight’s Showtime PPV offering between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury.
The opening bout of the night was between Joe Joyce (6-0) and Joe Hanks (23-2) in the heavyweight division.
Joe Joyce was a silver medalist in the 2016 Summer Olympics and has stopped every opponent he has faced as a professional.
Joyce was the taller fighter, but looked a little awkward around the ring and was stunned with some decent combinations by Hanks early on. However, when Joyce connected with a straight right hand it hurt Hanks and had him momentarily stunned. Joyce was able to follow that up with a jab and a left hook to the chin that sent Hanks crashing to the mat.
Hanks struggled to get up by the count of ten and protested when the referee waived the fight off, but he looked badly hurt at the time of the stoppage.
Joe Joyce wins by way of knockout at 2:25 of round one.
The next fight of the night was between Luis Ortiz(29-1) and Travis Kauffman (32-2) in the heavyweight division.
Ortiz is an elite fighter with a deep amateur background and the difference in talent was evident early on. Ortiz had Kauffman backing up early on with a stead streak of jabs and kept it up throughout most of the fight.
Kauffman got hit with a low blow in the third round and got some time to recover, but got tagged with a good combination by Ortiz after his break in what may have been the best shots of the night at that point.
Kauffman continued to get moved corner to corner in the fourth and fifth rounds as he was backwards. Ortiz landed a vicious straight left hand in the sixth round that sent Kauffman to the mat and Ortiz celebrating jumping in the corner. But it may have ben premature as Kauffman got back to his feet.
Ortiz picked Kauffman apart for the remainder of the sixth round and landed some solid straight right hands but wasn’t able to finish Kauffman off.
Ortiz had Kauffman backing up in the seventh round and sent him to the mat again in the eighth round with an overhand right to the temple. Kauffman got back to his feet again and took several more hard shots, including a left uppercut, but was able to survive the round.
Ortiz went for the stoppage in the final two rounds, an landed a low blow and a near knockdown in the ninth round that was ruled a push. He did land a left hand in the tenth and final round to score his third knockdown of the fight, but Kauffman got up to his feet again, only to get tagged with another left hook that had him badly hurt before the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
Louis Ortiz at wins by TKO at 1:58 of the tenth and final round.
The final fight on the undercard was between Jarrett Hurd (22-0) and Jason Welborn (24-6) in the super welterweight division.
Welborn was pressing the pace in the opening round and kept his head in the chest of Hurd and fought the fight in close and appeared to do well.
Hurd pressed behind his jab in the second round and appeared to throw a large number of left jabs and hooks. Hurd was rolling well with the punches of Welborn in the third round, but Welborn may have stolen that round with a flurry at the end.
Welborn opened up the fourth round with some heavy shots on Hurd by the ropes and connected with some clean hooks to the head while Hurd’s back was against the ropes. Hurd covered up and took the shots of Welborn before unloading a right uppercut to the body that sent Welborn to the canvas.
Hurd took some heavy shots in the process, but wins by knockout at 1:55 of the fourth round.
Rd 4: Weblron landed some heavy shots on Hurd by the ropes. Some hard combos. Hurt taking on some good shots. Hurd fighting back. Body shot sends him down. For ten. KO!!
Was Calzaghe the Greatest Super Middleweight?
By: Ken Hissner
After compiling a 110-10 amateur record Joe “Pride of Wales/Italian Dragon” Calzaghe turned professional in November of 1993 and won his first 9 fights by knockout. In his 17th fight he defeated Mark “Del” Delaney, 21-0, by TKO 5 in his first BBBofC British title defense he won in Oct 1995 stopped Stephen Wilson, 11-1.
In June of 1997 Calzaghe stopped Luciano “Toto Dodo” Torres, 45-2, of Brazil, to earn a title fight in his next fight with Chris “Simply the Best” Eubank, 45-2-2, for the vacant WBO World Super Middleweight Title. He had Eubank down in the first round and went onto win a lopsided 12 round decision.
Photo Credit: Joe Calzaghe Twitter Account
In Calzaghe’s third defense he won a split decision over Robin “Grim Reaper” Reid, 26-1-1. In August of 2000 he stopped Omar Sheika, 20-1, of the US. In his following fight he stopped Richie Woodhall, 26-2.
In Calzaghe’s next fight in April of 2001 he scored a first round stoppage of Germany’s Mario Veit, 30-0, having him down twice. In April of 2002 he defeated former IBF Champion Charles “Hatchet” Brewer, 27-8, of the US in his tenth defense.
In June of 2003 Calzaghe stopped former WBA Champion Byron “Slamma from Bamma” Mitchell, 25-2-1, coming off the floor for the first time in the second round. He got up and floored Mitchell in the same round. In his next fight he stopped Armenian Mgr “Matador” Mkrtchyan, 18-1, of Russia. Next he defeated Kabary “Egyptian Magician” Salem, 23-3, coming off the floor in the fourth round. He had Salem down in the twelfth.
In May of 2005 Calzaghe went to Germany in a rematch with Germany’s Mario Veit, 45-1, stopping him in the sixth round for his sixteenth defense. Next he won every round on two of the judge’s cards defeating Kenya’s Evans “African Warrior” Ashira, 24-1, of Denmark. In March of 2006 he added the IBF World Title defeating Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy, 21-0, having Lacy down in the twelfth round.
In October Calzaghe defeated Cameroon’s Sakio “The Scorpian” Bika, 20-1-2, out of Australia, who would win the WBC title in 2013. In April of 2007 in his twentieth defense he stopped Peter Manfredo, Jr. 26-3, of the US. In July he added the WBA Title defeating southpaw Mikkel “Viking Warrior” Kessler, 39-0, of Denmark. This would be his twenty-first and last defense.
In April of 2008 Calzaghe went to America for the first time in an overweight bout coming off the floor in the first round winning by split decision over former WBO, WBA, WBC and IBF Middleweight Champion Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, 48-4-1, in Las Vegas, NV. Hopkins was far from finished as he went onto win the WBA, WBC and IBF Light Heavyweight titles.
In Calzaghe’s final fight he defeated former IBF Middle, Super Middle, WBC, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight champion who also won the WBA Heavyweight Title Roy Jones, Jr., 52-4, coming off the canvas in the first round to do it. All three judges had it 118-109. The bout was held in the Madison Square Garden, in New York. On February 5th, 2009 Calzaghe announced his retirement with a 46-0 record with 32 knockouts.
Calzaghe was trained by his father Enzo and promoted and managed by Frank Warren. “I’ve had more broken bones than I can remember. My hands are crippled. They ache every single day from all the breaks. I have a really bad back too. I’m on pain killers a lot and I’m going to have bad arthritis when I’m older. I was happy to retire. I retired at the top. Yes, it was hard to fill the adrenaline rush for a while and that pisses you off but it’s nice to just be normal. Now I’m a dad and live the quiet life. I never wanted to be a celebrity. It was all about the boxing,” said Calzaghe.
In 2014 Calzaghe was inducted into the IBHOF in New York along with Felix “Tito” Alvarez and Oscar “Golden Boy” De La Hoya who both lost to Hopkins who Calzaghe beat. I did an article stating “Calzaghe should not be in the shadows having beaten the man (Hopkins) who beat both Trinidad and De La Hoya. My editor at the time informed me Calzaghe’s father Enzo loved the article.
Calzaghe’s was 46-0 with 32 knockouts and had 21 title defenses. He held the WBO, WBC, WBA and IBF Titles. Was he the best Super Middleweight in the history of boxing? The record speaks for itself!
Joe Smith Jr. Ponders Next Move After Beterbiev Fallout
By Jake Donovan
Less than a month ago, Joe Smith Jr. was in the favorable position of being able to choose between two offered title shots.
Today, he’s left to await his next move—but remaining ready for the first chance to return to the ring.
Photo Credit: Joe Smith Junior Twitter Account
The Long Island-based light heavyweight contender is left without a major fight for the moment, after watching a planned December showdown with unbeaten titlist Artur Beterbiev put on the back burner. A penciled-in December 15 clash at Madison Square Garden in support to reigning World middleweight king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s challenge of secondary super middleweight titlist Rocky Fielding was scrapped when Beterbiev decided upon returning to training camp that he was best served to sit out the rest of 2018.
Beterbiev (13-0, 13KOs) would’ve been making his second title defense in the span of just over two months, having recently turned away previously unbeaten Callum Johnson in four rounds this past October in Chicago. However, the Canada-based Russian traded knockdowns with his challenger, still feeling lingering effects in early stages of training after having previously agreed to terms for a title defense versus Smith Jr.
While the decision is understandable from a safety aspect, it still leaves a hole in the schedule of Smith Jr. (24-2, 20KOs) who remains in training but not entirely sure of when he will return to the ring.
“It’s disappointing, but Joe always remains positive and hard at work in the gym, ready for anything,” Phil Capobianco, Smith Jr.’s manager told BoxingInsider.com. “We’re exploring several opportunities to figure out what’s the best fit for Joe.”
One such possibility was remaining on the Alvarez-Fielding undercard, taking a stay-busy fight against a yet-to-be-determined opponent while surveying the entire light heavyweight landscape. Aside from Beterbiev, all of the division’s major titlists have bouts scheduled between now and early February.
Among the lot is Dmitry Bivol, who will put his title and unbeaten record on the line versus former lineal champion Jean Pascal. The same opportunity was once available for Smith Jr., who was in advanced talks for the HBO-televised title fight in Atlantic City, some three hours from his hometown in Eastern Long Island.
Instead, Smith Jr. and his team agreed to terms for a shot at Beterbiev. The move was coupled with promoter Joe DeGuardia entering a three-fight co-promotional pact with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA, who also co-promotes Beterbiev along with Yvon Michel and is the primary content provider for boxing on sports streaming platform DAZN USA.
Early whispers now have such a title fight taking place sometime in the 1st quarter of 2019, but doesn’t at all impact Smith Jr and DeGuardia’s aforementioned arrangement with Hearn. In fact, it leaves the door open to still fight in December, a desired route given he’s fought just once since a 10-round loss to Sullivan Barrera last July, scoring a 1st round knockout over Melvin Russell this past June in Uncasville, Connecticut.
The quick hit was just enough to shake off some rust, but nowhere the level of competition he’s enjoyed in recent years. Smith Jr. enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in 2016, scoring a massive upset in a 1st round knockout of Andrzej Fonfara live in primetime on NBC, then going on to send future Hall of Fame legend Bernard Hopkins into retirement with a 9th round knockout in their Dec. ’16 HBO headliner.
The hot streak opened up the possibility of challenging for a world title but settled on a crossroads bout with Barrera last July. Smith Jr. scored an early knockdown but suffered a broken jaw shortly thereafter, fighting through excruciating pain in dropping a decision.
Following his quick hit of Russell earlier this year, Smith Jr. and his team immediately began exploring title opportunities before landing on Beterbiev. The matchup still remains very much in play for the near future, but also leaves wiggle room for the 29-year old to consider a tune-up and then instead challenging the likes of Bivol, or the winners of the December 1 clash between lineal champ Adonis Stevenson and Oleksandr Gvozdyk or the title fight rematch between unbeaten titlist Eleider Alvarez and former champ Sergey Kovalev.
“We just want to make sure we’re not waiting around for Beterbiev and then he decides he doesn’t want the fight (at all),” suggest Capobianco. “If that’s the next big fight for Joe, we’ll be ready and willing. If not, there are a lot of big fights out there and we consider all of the (titleholders) in play.”
Fury Speaks Of Battles In And Out Of The Ring
By: Sean Crose
I had the hunger to beat Wladimir Klitscko,” Tyson Fury told Joe Rogan on Thursday, “but not to carry on and continue.” Fury, who is training to face WBC champ Deontay Wilder on December 1st at the Staples Center in Las Angeles, was a guest on Rogan’s popular podcast for over a full hour. During the lengthy conversation he discussed beating Klitschko, his battles with mental illness and addiction, and of course Deontay Wilder. Fury was the toast of the fight game after he stunned Kltischko to win the heavyweight title back in 2015. After that, however, the Englishman’s life spiraled out of control.
“I was depressed as depressed can be on a daily basis,” he said. “It just went from bad to worse.” Fans of the fight game are familiar with Fury’s spectacular fall from on high. Within a short time, he went from heavyweight king to former champ. What’s more, Fury’s emotional issues seemed to have clearly gotten the best of him after a certain point. “I hit the drink heavily on a daily basis,” he said. “I hit the drugs. I was out all night partying with women of the night, just coming home.” Things were so bad that Fury wanted out on life. “I just wanted to die, and I was going to have a good time doing it.”
After nearly intentionally killing himself in his vehicle and having a moment of realization, Tyson attempted to turn his life around. “You can only change your life if you want to change it,” he told Rogan. Crediting his faith in God, Fury is now engaged in prepping for what is surely a lucrative (and perhaps career defining) battle with Wilder, a fighter about as colorful as he is. Still quick with a wise crack, Fury joked about the WBC champions’ awkward style. “It reminds me of Bambi on ice,” he quipped. Still, he admitted to admiring Wilder for being willing to take on the big challenges.
“He could have picked much easier opponents and made similar money,” said Fury in his British accent. “I take me hat off to him.” Unlike many in the fight game, Fury was also quick to praise Widler’s team, which of course, includes the enigmatic and often maligned Al Haymon. “They were the most fairest most straight going people I ever worked with,” he said outright. “There was no hard negotiations. It was very, very simple.” Fury didn’t have such kind words for the team of heavyweight kingpin Anthony Joshua. According to Fury, Wilder’s camp offered “Joshuas team 80 million dollars for a 2 fight deal…and they declined that.” Fury then made it clear that his words were more than just gossip. “My lawyer, Robert Davis, he saw proof of funds from Al Haymon,” he told Rogan.
Although he was critical of both Joshua and Wilder, Fury showed on the podcast that he can be self critical, as well – or at least honest regarding himself. “My biggest fight in my whole career,” he said of his battle with Klitchko, “was a twelve round snooze fest. I’m man enough to say that.” Fury also credited Steve Cunningham, who he faced in his American debut, as being his most difficult opponent to date. “I’m not going to make any excuses,” he told Rogan. “Steven Cunningham was a better boxer than me.”
In the end, of course, Fury was able to rise to the occasion and defeat Cunningham. He plans to continue rising to the occasion. “The way to beat mental health is setting goals,” he said, “giving yourself short term and long term goals.”