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Daniel Dubois to Joe Joyce: “This is My Era!”

Posted on 02/12/2020

By: Hans Themistode

Whenever a fighter has yet to taste defeat inside of the ring, it can become difficult to get him or her to take on a real challenge. That 0 in the loss column is just too important to place in harm’s way. Unless, of course, if the price is right then that’s a completely different story. 

Other than a ridiculous payday, the risk never seems to outweigh the reward.

In the case of undefeated Heavyweight contenders Daniel Dubois (14-0, 13 KOs) and Joe Joyce (10-0, 9 KOs), they’ve both decided that they are ready to put everything on the line at such an early stage in their careers. 

On paper, this contest seems like an evenly matched one. It seems like the right call, after all, they are a couple of heavy hitters and for the most part, are viewed as the brightest young stars in the division. With both men knocking out all but one of their opponents, it’s safe to say that the judges are going to have a night off when they clash at the O2 Arena, in London.

As is often the case in boxing, there’s a storyline behind everything. For Dubois, he’s already faced off against Joyce. Well, in sparring that is. 

Back in 2016, Joyce was gearing up for the Olympic games. Dubois was one of many sparring partners who was brought in to give Joyce some work. The results of that sparring session weren’t exactly competitive to say the least.

With that being said however, it was several years ago and many things have changed since then. 

“I’m a different animal now,” said Dubois during a recent press conference. “You are going to become an old man that night. When I look at you I see a massive target and I am going to let loose. This is my era of boxing and I will dominate after this. All his fans will become my fans. You are getting destroyed. This is a new chapter, this is the next step in my career.”

You would think that since these two have a bit of history together, that there would be some sort of friendly atmosphere between them. Think again. Not only did the two go back and forth, but Dubois made sure to say how he felt the night will end.

“I don’t feel it is going to go the distance, he is going to be taken out in devastating style.”

For a fighter with only 14 professional fights under his belt, Dubois talks a good game. Yet, when juxtaposed with his opponent Joe Joyce, he actually has the edge in terms of the number of fights. But that doesn’t entirely tell the whole story. Joyce is already 34 years of age, with a Silver medal dangling around his neck. He also has two notable wins already. One came in the form of one-time title challenger Bryant Jennings and the other against former Heavyweight titlist Bermane Stiverne. 

Both Stiverne and Jennings aren’t exactly in their respective primes anymore but hey, the names on his resume are impressive. Dubois on the other hand, has no one even remotely close to the opposition that Joyce has found himself in the ring against.

“Nathan Gorman is you’re only credible win,” said Joyce. “I rate him, you’re on the way up, but maybe you are not ready for me. You are a good fighter, you have great potential, but you are going to unravel in this fight.”

At this point, it’s difficult to say who has the edge going into this one. Each Heavyweight can make a rock solid case for themselves as to why they are going to win this upcoming contest. But no one wants to hear a debate between these two. The fans simply want to see them end the discussion in the ring. Thankfully, that’s exactly what will happen on April 11th.

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Smith Outworks Hart to Earn Decision

Posted on 01/12/2020

By: Sean Crose

The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City hosted a Top Rank promoted, ESPN aired card on Saturday that featured light heavyweight contenders Jesse Hart and Joe Smith in a scheduled ten rounder. With the winner inching closer to a major title shot, there was a lot on the line for each action oriented fighter walking in. Smith’s claim to fame was literally knocking the great Bernard Hopkins into retirement. Hart, on the other hand, was being presented as an avenging angel from Hopkins’ native Philadelphia. Although not a major matchup, it was a solid, mid level affair between two fighters of note. It was a good bout to ring in 2020 with.

Photo Credit: Star Boxing Twitter Account

First up, the 15-0 super middleweight Steve Nelson faced the 14-0 Cem Kilic in a scheduled 10 round bout. The first round was rather uneventful, but Nelson was landing cleaner. The second round saw Nelson looking the bit sharper of the two. The third was essentially the same in that Kilic was slow in pulling the Trigger. The fourth may have been a bit more competitive, though it would have been hard not to give the chapter to Nelson. Nelson continued along in the fifth. 

By the sixth it was obvious that Kilic would have no chance of winning if he didn’t start landing clean. The seventh saw Nelson really taking it to his man. Hall of Fame trainer Buddy McGirt wisely stood up on the ring and waved the fight off in the eighth.  The beating Kilic was receiving at that point was simply too unrelenting and consistent.   
It was time for the main event. Smith entered the ring with a 24-3 record. Hart boasted a record of 26-2. Smith was the aggressor  in the first while Hart circled the ring. Smith hurt his man a bit late in the second, though Hart didn’t go down. Hart began to connect in the third. Smith, quite simply  started beating Hart up in the fourth. Hart had no answer for Smith’s aggression in the fifth. Smith kept up his attack in the sixth.

Smith dropped his man in the seventh. Hart got up, and was saved by the bell. Hart was able to land a bit in the eighth. The ring doctor checked out a Hart cut in the ninth, but allowed Hart to continue. The final round saw Smith grind along as he had the entire fight. Smith was simply the stronger man of the two. The judges  gave Smith the SD win.
Smith now finds himself on track for a light heavyweight title shot.

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Jesse Hart vs. Joe Smith and Steve Nelson vs. Cem Kilic Fight Previews

Posted on 01/10/2020

By: William Holmes

On Saturday night the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in  AtlanticCity, New Jersey will be the host site for Top Rank Promotions next televised fight card on ESPN.

Jesse Hart, a Philadelphia native, will look to avenge a loss that Joe Smith Jr. gave to Bernard Hopkins before he retired in December of 2016.

Both boxers are in the title hunt in the light heavyweight division and a win on Saturday could lead to a title shot in the near future. 

The co-main event will likely be a super middleweight bout between Steve Nelson and Cem KIlic.

Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

Other boxers on the undercard include Joseph and Jeremy Adorno, Chris Thomas, Sonny Conto, and Shinard Bunch.

The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.

Steve Nelson (15-0) vs. Cem Kilic (14-0); Super Middleweights

The co-feature of the night will be a fight between two undefeated Super Middleweights who are hoping for a title shot in the near future.

Steve Nelson is thirty one years old and in the middle of his athletic prime.  He is six years older than his opponent, CemKilic.  

Kilic will have about a two inch height advantage, but will be giving up about four inches in reach.  Kilic is a former Turkish and German National Champion as an amateur while Nelson was a former US National Champ.

Both boxers have moderate power.  Kilic has stopped nine of his opponents while Nelson has stopped twelve of his.  

They have have been fairly active.  Kilic fought twice in 2019, three times in 2018, and three times in 2017.  He has beaten the likes of Martez McGregor, DeAndre Ware, and Joe Amouta.  

Nelson has fought three times in 2019, 2018, and in 2017.  He has defeated the likes of Derrick Findley, Felipe Romero, Oscar Riojas, and DeShon Webster. 

This is a close fight to pick, as neither fighter has truly been tested.  Nelson does train alongside Terence Crawford and was a US Olympic Alternate.  To this writer, those facts gives Nelson a slight edge over Kilic. 

Jesse Hart (26-2) vs. Joe Smith Jr. (24-3); Light Heavyweights

Joe Smith’s biggest victory to date was a stunning defeated of the legendary Bernard Hopkins.  Hopkins happens to be from Philadelphia, the same city as Jesse Hart, who vows to avenge that loss for Hopkins when he faces Smith.

Both boxers are thirty years old and in their athletic prime.  Hart will have about a three inch height advantage over the Joe Smith.  

Jesse Hart has been the more active fighter of the two.  He competed once in 2019, four times in 2018, and twice in 2017.  Smith only fought once in 2019, once in 2018, and once in 2017.  

Both boxers are known for their active and fan friendly styles.  Hart has 21 stoppages on his resume while Smith has 20.  Hart has never been stopped in his career while Smith was stopped once.

Hart also has an edge in amateur experience.  He is a former US National Champ and a Golden Gloves champ.  Smith has no notable amateur experience.  

Jesse Hart has defeated the likes of Sullivan Barrera, Mike Gavronski, Demond Nicholson, Alan Campa, and Mike Jimenez.  His losses were two close defeats to Gilberto Ramirez.

Smith has defeated the likes of Bernard Hopkins, AndrzejFonfara, and Will Rosinsky.  His losses were to Dmitry Bivoland Sullivan Barrera.

Jesse Hart is from Philadelphia and Joe Smith Jr. is from Long Island, so Atlantic City will likely be packed with fans of both.  This fight looks like it will be an entertaining one to watch, but the amateur experience as well as the edge in recent activity has to make Jesse Hart the favorite in this fight. 

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Joe Hands Promotions and PBC Begin Historic Commercial Deal

Posted on 10/29/2019

By: Hans Themistode

Engaging in a big fight is like no other. Whether it’s the UFC, WWE or in this case boxing, fans will always show a level of interest when it comes to combat sports.

With the help of Joe Hands Promotions, they will ensure that not only hardcore fans, but also casuals will get the opportunity to be informed on the biggest fights of the year.

Joe Hands Promotions has partnered up with Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) to distribute pay per view commercial fight content. This isn’t just a one time deal either. Both sides came to an agreement that will last for quite some time.

Nothing like this has ever been done in the sport of boxing and Joe Hands Promotions were ecstatic to be apart of such a monumental arrangement.

“This is a historic time for our company right now,” said Joe Hands Jr. “We just celebrated our 48th year in business and what better way to commemorate than with a deal that has never been done before.”

So what exactly does this deal mean for you? The consumer. Well, it means everything. For fans, they will now gain the opportunity to see pay per view events in not just their homes but in various sports bars across the world.

The promotion that will be given to some of the biggest boxing events of the year will now reach new heights.

“Usually we would do one offs and then move on to the next one, which would be roughly six months later. We were kind of an event to event promoter, but the people at PBC are doing such a terrific job of stockpiling great talented boxers that they are able to sustain and commit to doing a certain amount of fights every year. There stable of fighters and commitment to high quality pay per events made this partnership come to fruition and it just made sense.”

Taking one fight at a time is a common theme in the world pay per view promotions, but there is a down fall to it.

“Doing one fight at a time sometimes doesn’t allow every chain restaurant to get involved because they don’t have room in there budgets but when we can go to them early with a set number of fights than they jump on the opportunity. What a package deal does is it provides security, not just for us but for the PBC as well. We can now go to our chain restaurants early and tell them hey we have all of these fights coming up in the next few months, so now they get the opportunity to make a budget for it, as opposed to having a one off.”

Have you ever been to your local bar and wondered, why don’t they show more big time fights? They might offer one or two a year, but typically a boxing calendar has much more than that. Sometimes a sports bar just isn’t afforded the opportunity nor the proper budget to fit a specific fight into its schedule. Now, Joe Hands Promotions they can ensure that more sports bar are given the opportunity to show big time fights.

“We essentially want to sell the PBC fights as a subscription series, so that people know that there are a certain amount of fights coming every year. That makes their entertainment schedule in bars and restaurants much easier for them. They can commit knowing that there are a certain amount of fights coming. This is the first time we have been able to do that.”

The partnership between Joe Hands Promotions and PBC is something that they have been progressively working on.

“We promoted one particular fight for the PBC and it gave us both a chance to engage with one another. We have a very strong foundation of chain restaurants that support our events. When we did that first fight I think both sides were pleased with the results and from there, instead of doing a one off we both decided to go with a package deal.”

Promoting a pay per view event takes much more than simply putting together a few commercials and hoping that fans will see and automatically feed into them. Instead, it takes careful planning in order to make an event successful. Although boxing is the main topic because of the association with PBC, Joe Hands Promotions has years of experience with other combat sports and the results speak for themselves.

“We encourage the chain restaurants that we are associated with to promote these events in a specific way but offering them a helping hand in what has proven to be the most effective way. We emphasize the importance of putting it on their social media accounts and what to say as well. We also give them a timeline on what they should do in terms of ok, the fights are getting closer this is what we should do in order to get more awareness about this fight. But it isn’t just about us, we also get the fighters to shoot commercials promoting the fights which plays on a loop at every sports bar that is associated with us and it just gives people that constant reminder. It’s all about brand awareness. Seeing the PBC, WWE or UFC logo by millions of people that go into these establishments give fans a chance to always reminded of a big fight that is coming up.”

Although pay per view events are of the utmost importance, fights which take place that aren’t pay per view level are significant as well.

“When a fight is on Showtime network, we have a contract to sell the Showtime subscription series which is a boxing series. The pricing is different because those fights aren’t pay per view caliber but they are very good. Those subscriptions are critical because it allows customers to see that our chain restaurants show just about every event, not just big pay per view fights.”

It’s clear that Joe Hands Promotions has crossed their T’s and dotted their i’s in terms of covering all their bases. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. For years, they have provided some of the best promotional value that you will ever come across. In fact, it was Joe Hands Jr’s father, Joe Hands Senior, who ushered in a new way to watch championship level fighting decades ago.

“My dad is 83 and he is the chairman of our company. What he has done for the boxing business is incredible. When he started this business, back in the 1960s and early 70s when people wanted to watch a championship level boxing event, it was my dad who came up with the idea to start putting these fights on closed circuit television and movie theaters around the country. People would pay 20 bucks to come and see the fight at the theater because there was no pay per view television at the time. My dad was really the first pay per view guy in the theater. If it wasn’t for my dad starting that concept in the early years it would have never became what it is today.”

It’s clear why PBC has decided to have Joe Hands Promotions in their corner. The work that they have been able to do has always been top notch and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

With combat sports being accessible at an even higher rate, there is one thing that fans can’t help but be frustrated with.

Finding a bar which shows these events can be a pain. Calling your local bar to simply find out if they will be airing your favorite contest on the night can be a long process as well. Luckily for you, Joe Hands Promotions has you covered in that regard as well.

“If you go to the Joe Hands Promotion website, we have a bar finder on there, you click in the city or the zip code of where you are and immediately locations will pop up to areas that are showing the fight.”

With tons of fights at the fingertips of fans all around the world, all that needs to be done now is to sit back, relax and enjoy the violence.

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Joyce vs. Jennings and Dubois vs. Gorman Fight Preview

Posted on 07/12/2019

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.

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Saunders Achieves & Underwhelms In Equal Measure

Posted on 05/20/2019

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.’’

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ESPN+ Boxing Preview: Saunders Looking to Become Two-Weight Champion

Posted on 05/17/2019

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.’’

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Gilberto Ramirez Opens the Door for Billy Joe Saunders to Make History

Posted on 05/15/2019

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.

Jan 24, 2015, Broomfield,Co. — Undefeated No. 2-world-rated super middleweight contender Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez of Mazatlan, Mexico wins an 10-round unanimous decision over Maxim Vlasov of Russia
, Saturday, at the 1STBANK Center in Broomfield,Co. — Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank (no other credit allowed) copyright 2015

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.

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Saunders Wants the Canelo Fight

Posted on 05/08/2019

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.”

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80th Anniversary of Joe Louis’ Knockout Over Jack Roper

Posted on 04/17/2019

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”.

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DAZN Boxing Preview: Bivol vs. Smith Jr., Hooker vs. LesPierre

Posted on 03/07/2019

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.

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Joe Smith Jr. Plans to “Outwork” Bivol

Posted on 03/06/2019

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.”

Jan 18, 2019; New York, NY, USA; WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol and Joe Smith Jr. pose after press conference announcing the March 9, 2019 Matchroom Boxing USA fight card which will take place at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, NY . Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

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.

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Showtime Boxing Results: Eubank Defeats DeGale, Joyce Batters Stiverne

Posted on 02/23/2019

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.

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Demetrius Andrade vs Billy Joe Saunders: The Makings of a Great Technical Fight

Posted on 01/28/2019

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.

October 20, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondokwa during their 12 round bout for the vacant WBO middleweight championship at the TD Garden in Boston, MA. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

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.

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”

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?

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Billy Joe Saunders Added To Warrington-Frampton 12/22 Manchester Bill

Posted on 12/12/2018

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.

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