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.”
Artur Beterbiev vs. Joe Smith Jr. Title Fight Targeted For December
By Jake Donovan
The biggest knock on Artur Beterbiev in recent years has been his criminally infrequent fight schedule. His team has taken note and is now making up for lost time.
The unbeaten light heavyweight titlist from Canada by way of Russia will make the second defense of his title in late December, in a development first reported by RDS Canada. Beterbiev’s promoter, Yvon Michel has revealed the defense will come versus New York’s Joe Smith, landing on either December 15 in New York City or December 22 in Atlantic City.
Several moving parts will dictate when exactly the 33-year old knockout will next fight. The good news is that either date puts Beterbiev (13-0, 13KOs) back in the ring less than three months after his most recent start, a 4th round knockout of Callum Johnson on October 6 in Chicago, Ill.
Photo Credit: Artur Beterbiev Twitter Account
“It is almost certain that Artur will fight against Joe Smith,” Michel told RDS CA on Monday. “What is less certain is (the exact date). One thing is for sure; (Beterbiev’s) next fight will take place in 2018.”
Sports streaming app DAZN USA will carry the event, regardless. Whether it’s on December 15 or December 22 depends almost entirely on the streaming service securing the rights to the December 15 showdown between secondary super middleweight titlist Rocky Fielding and reigning World middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
A press conference to formally announce the event—which will take place at Madison Square Garden in NYC—will be held on Wednesday in NYC. It has been widely speculated that DAZN will win the sweepstakes, although HBO—with whom Alvarez enjoyed an exclusive contact since 2014, but is now exiting the boxing business—very much remains a contender, in what could be (through its Pay-Per-View arm) its final boxing broadcast of a storied 45-year run as the industry leader.
Should DAZN win the sweepstakes, Beterbiev’s title defense will land as the chief support. Otherwise, he will headline a separate card in Atlantic City. Either scenario will mark the East Coast debut for the hard-hitting light heavyweight, who earlier this month traded knockdowns with Johnson before putting away the previously unbeaten Brit in a bout that served on the stateside debut of DAZN USA’s boxing series.
The win was Beterbiev’s first piece of ring action since a 12th round stoppage of Enrico Koelling last November in Fresno, California. He hadn’t fought in 11 months prior to that bout, having boxed just twice in each of the prior two years (2015 and 2016).
It’s been a frustrating past few years for the former amateur standout and two-time Russian Olympian, but an alignment with promoter Eddie Hearn—DAZN’s primary content provider—is already promising better days ahead.
“Artur Beterbiev (versus) Joe Smith Jnr for the IBF World title done for DAZN USA in December,” Hearn announced via his verified social media account on Monday. “(It’s) going to be a WAR! Date and venue announced very soon!”
Meanwhile, news of the title shot is still resonating with Smith since he was already training for another heavily rumored opportunity.
The full-time union worker and top-rated light heavyweight contender from Eastern Long Island was previously linked to a November 24 title challenge versus unbeaten Dmitry Bivol. That bout was due to headline on HBO, but is now just left as Bivol headlining the show although former champ Jean Pascal has since been suggested as the new opponent.
Regardless, it remains the first career title fight for Smith Jr. (24-2, 20KOs), who is best known in boxing circles for his knockout win over future Hall of Famer and retiring former two-division champ Bernard Hopkins in Dec. ’16. The feat came six months after he scored a shocking 1st round knockout of then top-rated contender Andrzej Fonfara, in a bout which aired live on free-to-air NBC in primetime.
The win over Hopkins was the first of two HBO appearances for Smith Jr., who seven months later returned to the network in a 10-round loss to perennial top contender Sullivan Barrera. The setback was not without its moral victory, as the now 29-year old New Yorker was celebrated for having fought through a broken Jaw for most of the fight.
Just one fight has since come from the healing process, a rust-shaking 1st round knockout of Melvin Russell this past June in Uncasville, Conn. It was enough to put him back in the title mix, not having to wait very long – or wasting any time in preparing for the life-changing opportunity.
“All I can tell you is that Joe Smith is training very hard,” Phil Capobianco, Smith’s manager told BoxingInsider.com on Monday. “He will definitely fight (for the title) before the end of the year.”
Andrade-Kautondokwa Now For Full WBO Title; Saunders Relinquishes Crown
By Jake Donovan
Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondokwa no longer have to worry about vying for interim title status, as their October 20 clash in Boston will now come with the full World Boxing Organization (WBO) middleweight title at stake.
The development is just the latest plot twist in a main event that continues to change in principals and significance.
“Just confirmed from (Francisco) Paco Valcárcel (WBO President)—Demetrius ‘Boo Boo’ Andrade (versus) WBO #2 (Walter) Kautondokwa will now be for vacant 160 lb. WBO world title,” Eddie Hearn, Andrade’s promoter confirmed Thursday on social media.
The bout—which will air live on streaming service DAZN USA—itself is Plan B to the originally scheduled title fight showdown between unbeaten challenger Andrade and undefeated British middleweight Billy Joe Saunders for the latter’s title. Those plans were scrapped on Tuesday, when Saunders—who tested positive for banned substance Oxilofrine on August 31—was denied a boxing license by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission.
Saunders and his promoter, Frank Warren threatened to appeal the outcome as well as any negative ruling that would come from WBO who previously stated that the defending titlist would be stripped should be not be able to compete on October 20.
Such actions are well within the bylaws of the WBO, who earlier in the week declared that Andrade and Kautondokwa would compete for the interim title. They were prepared to hear Saunders’ case before making a final decision, but instead had it made for them.
“We did not strip (Saunders) of the title,” Valcárcel clarified to BoxingInsider.com when asked of Saunders’ current status. “He relinquished the belt voluntarily. The (Andrade-Kautondokwa) fight will now be for the vacant title.”
Just like that, Andrade (25-0, 16KOs) is now right back in the mix to compete for a major title in his second weight division. The 30-year old from Providence, Rhode Island has seen an uneven run in the pro ranks following his time as a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic boxing team, but has remained undefeated and managed two title reigns at 154 pounds.
Andrade only managed one defense between the two tours—a 7th round stoppage over mercifully outgunned Brian Rose in June ‘14—before being stripped while his career fell in promotional disarray.
Inactivity has plagued his career, but he still managed to position himself for a title fight with Jack Culcay last March. Andrade traveled to Germany and managed a split decision win on the road to win a secondary title, but vacated without a single defense in favor of a middleweight campaign. Just one fight has followed, a 12-round victory over Alantez Fox last October—which will have come exactly 52 weeks ago come fight night.
Meanwhile, Kautondokwa (17-0, 16KOs) takes a major step up in class as he also makes his stateside debut.
The 33-year old from Namibia has not fought since registering a 5th round knockout of Argentina’s Billi Godoy in his hometown of Windhoek, Namibia, where the bulk of his five-year career has taken place. As far back as his knockout win over Obodai Sai last June in Ghana–his one career bout outside of Namibia—he has lobbied for a shot at Saunders.
Now he winds up taking his place.
By relinquishing his title, Saunders officially ends a title reign that dates back to his Dec. ’15 win over Andy Lee but has been marred by injuries, numerous fight cancellations and erratic out-of-the-ring behavior.
In all, just three defenses came of Saunders reign—none since a 12-round whitewash of former titlist David Lemieux last December—while seeing more than a half-dozen fights either canceled outright or falling apart at the negotiating table.
The past several weeks haven’t been too kind, to say the least. Saunders found himself in the midst of a food fight with heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder in August, flinging a chicken dinner at the unbeaten American before fleeing the scene.
The two hugged it out the very next day, but it was the least of Saunders’ troubles. He was issued a hefty £100,000 fine by the British Boxing Board of Control for having offered a local woman (and apparent drug addict) £150 worth of drugs to perform a sex act. The incident was not only captured on video, but posted on social media by Saunders, who later apologized for his actions and accepted the fine.
His troubles further compounded in late September, when it was revealed he’d failed an August 31 test through Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA). Because the substance for which he tested positive came “out-of-competition”, he was cleared by United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) and the BBBoC.
The Massachusetts commission wasn’t as kind, as stateside commissions tend to take VADDA test results at face value. Simply, a zero tolerance policy is recognized rather than distinguishing between substances being ingested in or out of competition.
No other disciplinary action has come of the session, although Valcárcel announced on Thursday his intentions to suggest to the WBO Executive Committee that Saunders be issued a six-month suspension for his action.
Billy Joe Saunders Denied License in Massachusetts; Andrade, Kautondokwa To Vie For Interim Title
By Jake Donovan
Billy Joe Saunders’ year has gone from bad to worse in a hurry.
BoxingInsider.com has learned that the unbeaten but troubled British middleweight was denied a license by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission (MSAC) during the board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday. The ruling greatly affects a planned October 20 show at TD Garden in Boston, where Saunders was due to defend his title versus Demetrius Andrade.
Saunders was asked to appear before the board to review his application status on Tuesday, which he did via speakerphone from England. His specific purpose for appearing was to detail the events that led to his testing positive for banned substance Oxilofrine on August 31 through testing conducted by Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA).
Trace amounts of the drug were evident in his system, to which he attributed to having ingested nasal decongestant spray upon learning of the results in late September and again at Tuesday’s hearing.
Saunders made a similar—and successful argument—back home, where he was cleared by the British Boxing Board of Control. His clearance stemmed from his status being classified as “out of competition”, per United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) which follows the code set forth by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Simply put, any test conducted prior to fight night is deemed out-of-competition, a point which Saunders and his representatives argued with MSAC.
While the excuse wasn’t necessarily dismissed by the commission, it also wasn’t found sufficient enough to sway the board who unanimously voted to deny his license, according to BI source Cory Blamire, a local freelance writer who was in attendance.
The incident drew comparisons to that of Major League Baseball pitcher Michael Kopech, who was handed a 50-game ban for testing positive for the very same substance as a 19-year old in the Boston Red Sox minor-league system. Kopech, now with the Chicago White Sox, denied that he willingly took the substance but nevertheless apologized for the outcome and was forced to accept his punishment.
Appearing before a state athletic commission residing in Red Sox country—with at least two board members boasting baseball roots—proved to be a detriment for Saunders’ cause. The British Traveller didn’t take too kindly to the ruling, at first confused as to his license status before reportedly telling the board to “suck my p***k.”
The show will still go on, but without Saunders who not only is off the show but now sees his days as a middleweight titlist come to an end. Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcárcel declared prior to the hearing that any such ruling that would result in Saunders not being able to compete on October 20 would result in his being stripped of the title.
As Saunders is granted an appeals process, Andrade (25-0, 16KOs) will remain eligible to fight for the organization’s interim title, as the unbeaten middleweight from Providence remains as the mandatory challenger. As earlier reported by BoxingInsider.com, the 2008 U.S. Olympian and former 154-pound titlist will now face the next highest-rated contender in the WBO middleweight rankings, Namibia’s Walter Kautondokwa.
Should Saunders’ appeal be denied, Valcárcel confirmed to BoxingInsider.com that the October 20 winner would then be elevated to full titlist.
Promoter Eddie Hearn—who will present the October 20 show through his Matchroom USA promotional outfit live on streaming app DAZN—was wise enough to secure a contingency plan in the event Saunders would not be able to compete. Kautondokwa (17-0, 16KOs) signed a contract on September 28 provisionally agreeing to face Andrade should the title become vacant.
The bout will mark a massive leap in competition for Kautondokwa, a former member of Namibia’s national amateur boxing team before turning pro in 2013. The unbeaten knockout artist—who turns 34 in November—will also be making his stateside debut, taking on a vastly more experienced boxer in Andrade, who will be fighting less than an hour from his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.
Andrade hasn’t fought since a 12-round win over Alantez Fox last October, with the upcoming show marking 52 weeks to the day of that very ring appearance.
Meanwhile, Saunders will have to turn elsewhere for his next payday.
The 29-year old was due make the fourth defense of the title he won in a 12-round decision over Andy Lee in Dec. ’15. His title reign has been plagued by injuries and more infamously known for the fights that didn’t happen than the few defenses he’s managed in nearly three years.
For this event, Saunders (26-0, 12KOs) to earn a career-high purse for this event, which in part would help subsidize a £100,000 fine handed down by the BBBoC for his role in a social media video where offered a local woman (and apparent drug addict) £150 worth of drugs to perform a sex act.
It was hoped by Saunders and his team that he would at least be cleared to fight on October 20, which would’ve at least provided a high note to an otherwise miserable year. He came into 2018 on the heels of a 12-round whitewash of former middleweight titlist David Lemieux last December, but has now seen three scheduled bouts this year fall by the wayside.
Saunders was due to face countryman Martin Murray this past March, a bout that was postponed to June but ultimately canceled altogether when the reigning titlist claimed a training camp injury. It was widely speculated—by Murray, among others—that Saunders withdrew to instead make himself available in the event that Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin were unable to reach terms for their rematch.
It became moot when Alvarez and Golovkin fought again on September 15, four months pushed back from their original May 5 date. The postponement was due to Alvarez receiving a six-month suspension for having tested positive for Clenbuterol earlier in the year. The wildly popular boxer from Mexico attributed it to contaminated meat, an ongoing epidemic in his home country.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission accepted his response and documented proof that came with it, but still held him responsible for any substance that enters his body, regardless of means of consumption. Saunders was among Alvarez’ most vocal critics, his comments having since coming back to haunt him in light of recent developments.
Billy Joe Saunders Team Issues a Statement in Response to Positive Test
By: Michael Kane
Billy Joe Saunders team have been quick to release a statement in response to report a earlier that Saunders has failed a VADA drug test.
According to the statement released on Frank Warrren’s website the product concerned is allowed to be used out of competition and the British Boxing Board of Control have confirmed Saunders is not in breach of BBBoC or UKAD (United Kingdom Anti Doping agency) regulations.
It suggests his fight in October is not in doubt.
The statement also says the product was a common decongestant nasal spray.
Following reports of an adverse analytical finding in a test carried out by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (“VADA”) on WBO World Middleweight Champion, Billy Joe Saunders, we can confirm that the product concerned is permitted to be used ‘Out of Competition’ by United Kingdom Anti-Doping (“UKAD”) in line with the regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”).
For the avoidance of doubt, the product in question was a common decongestant nasal spray.
The British Boxing Board of Control (“BBBofC”) under whose jurisdiction Billy Joe Saunders is licensed are affiliated only to UKAD/WADA.
Today the BBBofC have confirmed that Mr Saunders is not in breach of BBBofC or UKAD anti doping regulations and is therefore in good standing and is licensed to box and defend his World Title on October 20th.
Mr. Saunders has been tested a number of times in 2018, all negative, his last out of competition test by UKAD was on 24th September 2018.
Billy Joe Saunders Reportedly Fails VADA Test
By: Michael Kane
It’s not been a great few days if you are Billy Joe Saunders.
First he was fined £100000 by the British Boxing Board of Control for a video he posted in which he appeared to offer a woman money for a sex act then told her to punch a man walking along the road, which she did, Saunders then drove away laughing.
Photo Credit: Billy Joe Saunders Twitter Account
Now there are reports he has failed a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association drug test.
The reports suggest he tested for the banned substance oxilofrine, which is a stimulant. ESPN’s Dan Rafael was the first to break the news.
Saunders, the current WBO middleweight champion, is due to defend his belt against Demetrious Andrade om October 20th. However this news will put that bout seriously in doubt. Saunders could also face being stripped of his title.
Oxilofrine is a stimulant that can increase performance as it helps to burn fat, it could increase adrenaline production, endurance and help with the oxygenation of the blood.
Several athletes have tested positive for the drug in the past.
It seems Saunders has taken to Twitter to laugh the claims off,
😂 some shit 😂
— billyjoesaunders (@bjsaunders_) September 27, 2018
Canelo and Golovkin: What’s Next for Both
By: Oliver McManus
With the benefit of 72 hours to sleep on things, it’s time to address what’s next for Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin after their ferocious rematch at the T-Mobile Arena and, whilst some of these options are a little more realistic than others, we can be dreamers, so here are my top picks (trilogy aside!) –
This one seems a little adventurous to begin with but there are two fights that makes me stand up with interest, with regards to Canelo, and they both involve fellow Mexicans in what would make the perfect Cinco de Mayo bouts for 2019 – whilst it’s likely that Alvarez would look to fight in December first, these fights could brew nicely into the early months of next year.
First up is Jaime Munguia and given the size of the WBO 147lb champion, it’s equally likely that this bout could be taken at middle as it is welterweight and we’ve seen Munguia really start to stamp his authority over the course of 2018 with the youngster playing the role of underdog in his title challenge against Sadam Ali and, marginally, in his first defence against Liam Smith.
The sheer size and explosivity of Munguia means the fight with Canelo would guarantee action – akin to the last two with Golovkin – and of course there’s that added all-Mexican spice.
Looking into the super middleweight and you find another WBO champion in Gilberto Ramirez who has failed to really find any momentum over the last couple of years despite defending the title on four occasions and Zurdo has made no bones about his desire to land a big fight.
We know Canelo looks BIG when out of the ring – I’m not even going to go near the whole clenbuterol situation – and even at the catchweight of 164 for his bout with Julio Cesar Chavez he looked comfortable. I mean, admittedly, not a great performance but it wasn’t because of the extra weight.
More of a tactician than Munguia and, indeed, Golovkin, Ramirez would represent a different type of opponent for Alvarez with the opportunity to show a different set of skills than the, relatively, brawling nature over the last few months and Canelo, certainly, is an elite level boxer not just fighter. (If that makes sense).
Munguia and Ramirez, starting to sound like a fajita, but I want to see ANOTHER all Mexican encounter involving Canelo because you just cannot beat those atmospheres and the two champs either side of middleweight appear to be the frontrunners in that respective category.
Saunders vs Golovkin
A fight that has been mooted for a long, long time and it seems that now could be the most realistic timing for the super-fight to take place and on the assumption that the WBO champion can navigate his way past Demetrius Andrade on October 20th , this would provide the opportunity for GGG to bounce straight back into the world title scene.
For Saunders it provides him with the chance to carry on with the momentum he picked up in Canada last December with a, let’s not beat around the bush, masterclass performance against David Lemieux and, whilst his antics outside of the ring have been less than respectable, in the boxing world a victory over Golovkin would cement his credibility as one of the best.
An awkward southpaw who dictates the tempo of the bout from the centre of the ring, Saunders poses a distinctly different threat to that of Canelo but is equally capable of getting dirty on the inside and involved in a firefight as he is executing a technical, counter-punching gameplan.
Golovkin doesn’t need warm up bouts following his first ever career loss, he’s an elite fighter, certainly a Top 15 pound for pound and, with only a few fights left in him, it seems logical to target the fight with Saunders because it’s one we know he is mightily confident in winning and if he were to be able to reclaim the single belt that has alluded him his whole career then, surely, we could be looking at the best middleweight ever?
Saunders vs Golovkin make sense, it’s been in the works for a long time and it’s a bout that both men are confident of winning so let’s get it on!
Canelo vs Lemieux
We’ll keep this section short and snappy because I think we’re all aware that David Lemieux, especially after the pasting he got via Billy Joe Saunders, is in a different league, technically, to the world champions but following a devastating knockout over Spike O’Sullivan he finds himself back in the fold for a world title.
The one that can’t be argued with is the power of the Canadian who, when given a chance, is able to unfurl bombs in the direction of whichever Tom, Dick or Harry is standing in front of him. Having said that, he is equally susceptible to stinking out a stadium when he fails to turn up for a fight and that happens alarmingly often for him to be taken seriously as a contender.
It’s very hot and cold with David Lemieux but even when he’s on top of his game it’s nothing that would really send Canelo back to Mexico quivering in his boots looking for some more of that steak – the threat of Lemieux is easily nullified by Canelo taking the fight to the Canadian, boxing at a high tempo for the duration of the fight with a strong lead jab.
Canelo vs O’Sullivan was being lined up for December and, thusly, it makes sense that O’Sullivan’s conqueror is also in the frame.
The truth of the matter though, like it or not, is that this would only serve as a stay busy fight until a big clash in May.
Retirement for GGG?
What is left for Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin to achieve in the sport of boxing? With seemingly little possibility of moving a weight class, the former unified middleweight champion has literally been there, done that and seen it all.
20 successful defences of his belt, five as unified champion, the 36 year old possess a record matched only by the great Bernard Hopkins and, looking through the eras, you’d be hard pressed to suggest he wouldn’t have found success across them all.
A World Amateur champion and Olympic silver medallist, to boot, Golovkin has a career, both amateur and professional, to be immensely proud of and in the eyes of many an onlooker he has got nothing left to prove.
On many scorecards he should have won that first fight with Canelo, the second was a stormer and there can be no loss of legitimacy for losing what was, let’s be honest, a fight that could have gon either way; you get the feeling that Golovkin and Canelo could go toe to toe 60 times and it would never get boring, 20 would be a win for Golovkin, 20 for Canelo and the other 20 a draw… it’s just that sort of a fight!
But for the love of the sport and the pride he gets from fighting, there is nothing left to achieve for Triple G so, if you ask me, hang those gloves up, kick back and just enjoy life Gennady!
Of course the fight we all want to see, well most of us anyway, is ANOTHER rematch between the two protagonists of the middleweight division and why shouldn’t we want that? 24 rounds of simply stunning action during which neither fighter could comprehensively claim to be the better man, throw in some controversy, a bit of bad blood, and we have got ourselves not just a fight but an EVENT.
The first two fights were must-see entertainment that captured the imagination of the boxing community and there’s very little reason to believe a third would be anything but the same – the only question’s that really need answering are where, when and how much is it going to cost us?
Preliminary talks are being held between the parties, allegedly, so hopefully we’ll be able to see the trilogy contest sooner rather than later because there’s some unfinished business to take care of and it’s a fight that I, certainly, will never get bored of.
Having said that, what if Golovkin wins the third fight? Does that mean we’ll have to have a fourth?!
Boston Press Conf Quotes: Billy Joe Saunders vs. Demetrius Andrade, Farmer vs. Tennyson
Eddie Hearn, President of Matchroom Boxing USA:
“I am thrilled to be bringing this triple-header of World championship action to the TD Garden in Boston.
“We want to take major fight nights to major cities across America that haven’t had the chance to witness this great sport in the flesh, that’s why we’re in Chicago on October 6 and then in Boston on October 20 – we’re taking this great sport to great cities in great arenas like the TD Garden with the best night of boxing the city has seen.”
Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland
Billy Joe Saunders – Hertfordshire, England – 26 (12) – 0 – defending his WBO World Middleweight title against Demetrius Andrade
“This is such a big fight. The two main men at Middleweight at the moment is GGG and Canelo – and neither of them want to fight me or Demetrius. There’s a lot of smoke and mist in the division right now, and when it clears up I will be the man standing there.
“All jokes and trash talk aside, this is going to be a really good fight. Does anyone want to fight Demetrius? No. Does anyone want to fight me? No. We have to fight each other to prove who the number one guy is. Technically, we are the best two in the division, and the winner is going to be number one. I’m World champion, I’ve been more active, I’ve boxed the better opposition – but I have to beat this man.
“David Lemieux is a bum, a bum – he’s not worth talking about and I don’t take any credit from beating him. But I’ve been in with and easily handled World-class opposition – I’ve been in with Chris Eubank Jr and dealt with him, been in with Andy Lee and dealt with him, Willie Monroe had no heart or desire to win.
“There’s too much at stake in this fight to even think about losing – and I will prove that I am number one. If I turn up at my 100 per cent best, it’s good enough to beat him. He’s a great fighter and he’s been avoided, our paths have crossed and we have to fight. The winner is number one.”
Demetrius Andrade – Providence, Rhode Island – 25 (16) – 0 – challenging WBO World Middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders.
“It’s an honour to be fighting at the TD Garden, we’re giving you the best fight in boxing this year, you have to be there.
“Billy Joe is a great fighter, an undefeated southpaw, he’s ugly looking, but he can fight – but your boy Demetrius Andrade always come through. Never have I failed to come out with the victory.
“It’s going to be an entertaining build up and I’m thrilled to be working with Eddie Hearn, he’s bringing boxing at the highest level out here – there’s no sport like boxing, and we’re showcasing it in Boston.
“We’re going to be in shape to do 12 rounds, I know I have the bigger dog inside me than Billy Joe, and I’m going to unleash that on him on October 20.”
Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland
Tevin Farmer – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 26 (5) – 4 (2) – 1 – defending his IBF World Super-Featherweight title against James Tennyson.
“It’s been a long time coming for me to fight as a World champion. October 20, we’re coming to bring the pain. The last time I fought in Boston I fought Emanuel Gonzalez in June 2014 and it changed my life.
“I don’t know much about James but you don’t get to this level for no reason and I know he’s going to come to fight and try to beat Tevin Farmer. I’ve been one of the hottest fighters over the last few years, to beat me, he’s going to need to bring a knife and a gun because it’s not going to be easy – he needs to make sure he brings his A-game.”
James Tennyson – Belfast, Northern Ireland – 22 (18) – 2 (2) – challenging IBF World Super-Featherweight champion Tevin Farmer.
“It’s amazing to be involved in such a huge bill in a great city like Boston – and it’s going to be even better when I leave with the IBF World title.”
Katie Taylor – Bray, Ireland – 10 (5) – 0 – defending her WBA and IBF World Lightweight titles against Cindy Serrano.
“It’s great to be here, I love this city and it’s going to be like a homecoming fight for me with all the Irish fans living here. I want to thank Cindy for taking this fight, these are the types of fights that I absolutely relish, it’s going to be a really exciting clash alongside some brilliant fighters on the rest of the bill, I can’t wait.”
Cindy Serrano – Brooklyn, New York (born in Puerto Rico) – 27 (10) – 5 – 3 – challenging WBA and IBF World Lightweight champion Katie Taylor.
“Katie is a tremendous fighter and a hard worker so I know it’s going to be a hard fight, but a great fight. I am a great fighter too and not only can we both fight, we look good doing it – and we’re going to prove that on October.
Kid Galahad – Sheffield, England – 24 (15) – 0 – facing Toka Kahn Cleary in a final eliminator for the IBF World Featherweight title.
“We’re not here to play marbles, we’re here to take over. I’m over here to hurt this man, real bad. Me and Billy Joe Saunders are not joking – we’re coming to get big wins and in style.
Toka Kahn Cleary – Providence, Rhode Island – 25 (17) – 1 (1) – facing Kid Galahad in a final eliminator for the IBF World Featherweight title.
“It’s great to be on this huge bill alongside my big brother Demetrius Andrade and a lot of great fighters. I work very hard in the gym and I belong on the big stage, I promise you that after October 20, Toka Kahn Cleary is going to be fighting for a World title.”
Billy Joe Saunders – Demetrius Andrade Fight Promotion Kicks Off In Entertaining Fashion
By: Sean Crose
Some press conferences are boring. Some are so over the top, they’re off-putting. Friday’s kickoff for the WBO middleweight championship of the world between champion Billy Joe Saunders and Demetrius Andrade was downright entertaining. Andrade decided to show his patriotism for the crowd gathered in Boston by dressing as a colonial soldier while England’s Saunders had some gems of his own to deliver. The fight, which goes down October 20th at Boston’s TD Garden, is being promoted by Eddie Hearn, and will have a strong undercard, featuring such notables as Tevin Farmer, Katie Taylor and Scott Quigg.
“The red jackets are here!” Andrade yelled in reference to the red uniformed British soldiers who used to occupy Boston at the dawn of the American Revolution. “We look good,” Saunders quipped in response, “but we’re mean m—–f—–s!” It may have been a bit vulgar at times, but this kickoff was as good natured as it was rowdy. Here were two fighters, both flamboyant, who seemed to actually like each other on a personal level, but were not afraid to go at it with the verbal jabs. Unlike last year’s Mayweather-McGregor pre fight tour, no one here seemed to be trying too hard.
“Billy Joe Saunders, yes, he’s a great fighter,” said Andrade. “Southpaw. Undefeated. Ugly looking. But he is a great fighter, yes.” Saunders took a moment to note the seriousness nature of the boxing business. While bringing up the fact that Canelo-Golovkin 2 is currently boxing’s big ticket, he added this dig at his fellow middleweights: “Does anybody want to fight Demetrius Andrade?” he asked. “Does anybody want to fight me? No.” Saunders made it clear that the two best men at middleweight aren’t Canelo or Golovkin, but Andrade and himself. “Technically,” he said, “we are the two best in the division and the winner of this fight will prove to be number one.”
Aside from the fact that there seems to be no bad blood between the combatants, another thing that separates Saunders-Andrade from Canelo-GGG 2 is the fact that both Saunders and Andrade are known as scientific fighters. In other words, the slickness and skill of both men can supersede the thrill factors that they can being to a bout. Saunders’ match last year against a way over his head David Lemieux, however, showed that slickness and skill can make for an entertaining fight. “This is going to be a really, really good fight,” said Saunders. “October 20th you have to be there,” claimed Andrade, “you have to see it.”
Joe Joyce Defeats Ivica Bacurin
By: Ste Rowen
Coming in as a last-minute replacement for original opponent, Richard Lartey, Bacurin’s resume includes the likes of Carlos Takam and Dillian Whyte. He was stopped by both those men, in fact Ivica always falls short whenever he takes a step up and unluckily for the Croatian, Joyce was another step up.
The ‘Juggernaut’, now 5-0 (5KOs), was on his opponent from the first bell, setting off heavy 1-2s as Bacurin did his best to circle the ring backwards. But with 1:17 left on the clock of the 1st round, Joyce shot a right and left to the top of Ivica’s head, sending him down and keeping him there.
Hughie Fury was in attendance at York Hall, and it seems a British-Commonwealth unification bout would be the obvious fight to make next.
Michael ‘Venom’ Page, a former kickboxer and BellatorMMA fighter, moved to 2-0 with a 2nd KO of, 1-5, Michal Ciach of Poland.
Aiming to ply his trade at light heavyweight, the enigmatic Page, much like his debut performance back in October, was unconventional in his approach to taking out Ciach. Low hands, bolo feints, and jelly legs all within the first round, ‘Venom’ jabbed at his foe, keeping the Pol ineffective and, with just over 40 seconds left on the 1st, dropped his opponent for the first time.
Immediately into the 2nd round, Page landed a huge right hand, sending Ciach to the canvas for a second time and signalling an end to the fight. MVP spoke post-fight,
‘It’s a crazy style, it’s not normal…What I find difficult is, people know who I am so it’s gonna be difficult to call out named fighters.’
Page’s debut win came against 2-11-1, Jonathan Castano so it’s unlikely we’ll see ‘Venom’ fast tracked like his gym mate, Joyce, but it will no doubt be entertaining whoever it is.
Savannah Marshall outclassed 8-2 (5KOs), Alejandra Ayala with a 2nd round stoppage to move to 3-0 (2KOs). The 2014 Commonwealth middleweight champion had already dropped her Mexican opponent before she forced Ayala into the corner and was unable to counter the power shots Marshall was sending her way, before the referee called an end to the bout.
As the only boxer to beat the current IBF and WBC super-middleweight champion Claressa Shields, the ‘Silent Assassin’ will no doubt be keeping a keen eye on the unified champion’s matchup against Hanna Gabriels, which takes place next week in Detroit.
Both fighting in their pro debuts heavyweights, George Fox, 26 and Phil Williams, 32, fought out a close matchup, which saw Fox, nicknamed ‘Future’ come out the victor with a 40-37 scorecard in his favour.
Super welterweight Tom Ansell handed Fonz Alexander his 83rd career loss (31st in a row) with a 40-35 decision victory.Now 4-0 (1KO) Ansell, 25, landed a huge overhand right in the 1st round to drop his opponent but, though the result was rarely in doubt, he was forced to go the 4-round distance with journeyman, Alexander.
Fighting for the vacant women’s Commonwealth lightweight title, Anisha Basheel of Malawi made lightwork of favourite, Sam ‘SJ’ Smith, now 8-2, to earn a 1st round TKO. Teeing off with heavy hit after hit from the start, the referee was eventually forced into ending the bout with Smith still on her feet. Basheel now moves to 8-5 (8KOs) and becomes the new 135lb Commonwealth champion.
Chris Davies moved to 9-0 with a 4-round points decision over 0-13-2, Callum Ide, but the super middleweight from London is yet to record a victory over a boxer with a winning record or earn a stoppage win.