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IBF Orders Jose Uzcategui-Caleb Plant Super Middleweight Title Fight


By Jake Donovan

Jose Uzcategui has served nearly all of 2018 as a super middleweight titlist despite having yet to make a single defense.

The International Boxing Federation (IBF) is ready to change that status.

The New Jersey-based sanctioning body has ordered Uzcategui to make his first mandatory defense, naming unbeaten Caleb Plant as the leading contender to the throne. A 30-day free negotiation period has been ordered between the two camps, with a December 5 purse bid hearing set aside in the event they cannot come to terms.


Photo Credit: Premier Boxing Champions Twitter Account

Representatives for Uzcategui and Plant were notified by the IBF earlier in the month.

“(Uzcategui’s) mandatory defense is due on or before January 5, 2019,” the IBF reminded Uzcategui’s promoter, Fernando Beltran in an official letter—of which a copy was obtained by BoxingInsider.com—to representatives for both sides. “The leading available contender is Caleb Plant…represented by TGB Promotions.

“Negotiations should commence immediately and be concluded by December 5, 2018. In the event that you are unable to come to an amiable agreement with Plant, the IBF will call for a purse bid.”

Uzcategui (28-2, 23KOs) claimed the interim title in an 8th round stoppage of Andre Dirrell in their rematch this past March. The Mexico-based Venezuelan—who turns 28 later this year—was elevated to full titlist after James DeGale vacated the belt this past summer in lieu of a mandatory title defense.

The turn of events was sweet redemption for Uzcataegui, who was cheated out of the title in his first fight with Dirrell last May. He was winning the bout and on his way to a stoppage win when he was suddenly disqualified for an official ruling of hitting Dirrell after the bell to end the 8th round. The sequence prompted a brief riot, infamously sparked by Dirrell’s uncle and head trainer Leon Lawson who attempted to sucker punch Uzcategui in his corner.

Lawson fled from the scene and was a wanted fugitive before eventually surrendering to authorities on an outstanding warrant.

Despite realizing his dream of winning a major title, it’s been hurry up and wait for Uzcategui. A mandatory title defense was desired, but Plant (17-0, 10KOs) has been out for most of the year while recovering from a hand injury. The Tennessee product hasn’t fought since a 12-round win over Rogelio Medina this past February.

Meanwhile, Uzcategui’s only piece of ring action since becoming full titlist came in the form of a stay-busy non-title fight this past September. It was a well-served purpose, easily outboxing Argentina’s Ezequil Maderna over 10 rounds in their ESPN+ streamed main event.

Uzcategui is co-promoted by Top Rank, which provides him with a major network outlet in ESPN. However, he is represented by his main promoter, Zanfer Promotions in this current round of negotiations.

Plant is represented by TGB Promotions but technically a free agent. His only contracted affiliation is through manager Luis DeCubas and adviser Al Haymon, fighting under the latter’s Premier Boxing Champions’ umbrella, which has lucrative long-term deals with Showtime and Fox.

Given that, the eventual clash will undoubtedly benefit from major televised coverage.

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Jose Benavidez Jr. Has No Intentions To Lose


By: Rich Mancuso

Jose Benavidez Jr. has seen adversity out of the ring and the challenge to take the WBO Welterweight title from Terence Crawford will not be easy. Perhaps to those that take rankings serious the top pound-for-pound fighter in the business is Terence Crawford.

Benavidez Jr. is focused on changing that thinking about Crawford. Top three fighter or number one, the challenger does not care. Saturday night at the CHI Health Center in Omaha Nebraska, regardless of rankings, Benavidez Jr. has no intentions of leaving Crawford’s hometown without the title.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Twitter Account

Bob Arum of Top Rank, the promoter with rights to Crawford, always says the best fights are being delivered to fans on the ESPN televised platform. There is no debate about what is being delivered here and this is one of those fights, and partly because Jose Benavidez presents the challenge.

There is the height and reach advantage of Benavidez. There is also the anticipation of Terence Crawford and facing the toughest challenge of his title reign in this elite division of welterweight champions.

Insiders at Top Rank, and when asked, well they are skeptical because they are aware that Benavidez Jr. will not be easy. Basically it has nothing to do with their champion. This is a fight that will present the biggest challenge to date for Terence Crawford.

“Now he has grown into a man,” Arum said about Benavidez Jr. The often troubled and talented fighter has grown with Top Rank and Arum took him in at the age of 16.

There have been ups and downs with a fighter that never looks for attention. But those at Top Rank knew about the troubled past and they took a chance. Saturday night two of the best will put their differences aside and for Top Rank it means good business. This fight will be the center of attention from all perspectives.

“Things happen in life, good and bad,” Benavidez Jr. said Thursday afternoon. “I don’t try to use that as an excuse or anything. I know what I have to do.”

A leg with stitches above his right knee, that still bothers him. He survived and fought back from a bullet wound two years ago and that incident is still not clear. The question is, will Jose Benavidez Jr. survive 12-rounds with Terence Crawford?

“The leg, I block it out,” he said. “I just focus 110 percent. I know what we have to do. We train to win, and that’s what I am going to keep doing.”

There is no talk about looking ahead. This is a determined and hungry fighter and just looking at Terence Crawford, though a win would change the scope of this welterweight division. In fact, Arum would not discuss the options for both fighters and the focus is all about Saturday night.

But there is that concern of animosity as Benavidez Jr. made this personal. There were harsh words exchanged the day before at final workouts, and of course there is that call for the challenge to Terence Crawford.

“I don’t think Crawford is as good as people say,” said Benavidez Jr. “He is decent and not great. I came here to knock him out in his hometown. He is in a bigger weight division now and we have a lot more firepower than we ever had.”

And the firepower was evident. Those in the gym, in and out of the Benavidez Jr. camp, they saw that aggression and power. It was something they have never seen from the undefeated challenger but in boxing believe what you hear because the fighter has to convince the believers in the ring.

Yes, Benavidez Jr. is undefeated, But the opponent is Terence Crawford who can also come with that firepower and slowly get what he wants.

“Terence is the best fighter in the world,” says Brian McIntyre the trainer and manager of Crawford. He also said about Benavidez Jr. “He came here to fight hard which is okay with us.”

So there was never that disrespect from Terence Crawford or his team. This is all about a championship and one of prestige with that welterweight division always the talk in boxing circles. But hearing words from Benavidez Jr. and you wonder is there respect on the other end?

Or is this another way to promote a fight that has caught the interest of many? Sounds like a confident fighter and with the aggression, but this all about a championship and determination to get it Saturday night.

“Everyone is sleeping and soon they’re going to wake up and I’m going to beat his ass Saturday night,” Benavidez Jr. said. The reality can be a win and more of the elite will be in line to unify the titles.

This has always been the goal for Jose Benavidez Jr. to be in the ring with the best and the opportunity awaits. That troubled past will always be there and all he has to do is look and feel the pain from that wound to the leg.

Now it is close to reality. One punch or a decision in his favor and the pain will briefly go away. The troubled past is personal but being a champion leads to more opportunity.

Comment: [email protected] [email protected] Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

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Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Preview: Stevenson vs. Simion, Benavidez vs. Crawford


By: William Holmes

Top Rank Promotions will promote a card featuring arguably their best pound for pound fighter, Terence Crawford, in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska in the main event of an ESPN televised card.

Crawford will face fellow undefeated welterweight Jose Benavidez for Crawford’s WBO Welterweight title.

The co-main event of the night will be between former Olympian and high level prospect Shakur Stevenson and Viorel Simion in a junior lightweight bout.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

The undercard will feature several intriguing fights, including a junior middleweight bout between Carlos Adames and Josh Conley, ad junior welterweight bout between Mike Alvarado and Robbie Cannon, and a female junior lightweight bout between Mikaela Mayer and Vanessa Bradford.

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

Shakur Stevenson (8-0) vs. Viorel Simion (21-2); Junior Lightweights

Shakur Stevenson is one of Top Rank’s most coveted prospects, and he was a silver medalist in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. On paper he’ll be facing the toughest test of his career, Viorel Simion, a former Olympic participant in the 2004 Summer games.

Stevenson is still very young and will be sixteen years younger than his 37 year old opponent. He will also have a two inch height advantage.

Stevenson, a Newark, New Jersey native, has won three of his past five fights by stoppage and has never faced anyone with a losing record. He only has four stoppage wins on his resume, but has been very active since turning pro. He fought four times in 2017 and has already fought four times in 2018.

Simion, from Romania, has nine KO wins on his resume and isn’t known for his power. This Romanian boxer lost the two fights where he stepped up in competition, to Scott Quigg and Lee Selby. Simion has fought mainly in Eurpe and fought once in 2017 and twice in 2016.

Stevenson has defeated the likes of Carlos Ruiz, Aelio Mesquita, Roxberg Patrick Riley, and Juan Tapia. He also went 2-0 n the World Series of Boxing.

Simion has defeated the likes of Andoni Gago, Alexander Miskirtchian, and Ryan Sermona. The few times he stepped up his level of competition he was soundly beat.

This is a bout that Stevenson should win comfortably, but Simion is a good experienced boxer to gauge where Stevenson currently is in his professional development.

Terence Crawford (33-0) vs. Jose Benavidez Jr.(27-0); WBO Welterweight Title

Terence Crawford will be stepping into the ring with a younger, taller, and longer undefeated challenger on Saturday.

Crawford is still in his prime, but Benavidez is five years younger than him. Benavidez will also have about a six inch height advantage and a three inch reach advantage.

Crawford does appear to have an edge in power. He has stopped twenty four of his opponents, and seven of his past eight fights were stoppage victories. Benavidez only has eighteen stoppage victories, and three of his past five fights were by way of stoppage.

Both boxers had relatively successful amateur careers. Crawford was a former PAL National Champion while Benavidez was a former US National Golden Gloves Champion.

Both boxers have been fairly active in 2018 but Crawford has been the more active fighter of the two since 2016. Crawford fought once in 2018, twice in 2017, and three times in 2016. Benavidez fought twice in 2018 and only once 2016.

Benavidez was also shot in 2016 and missed all of 2017 as a result.

Crawford has soundly beaten every man he has faced so far. He has beaten the likes of Jeff Horn, Julius Indongo, Felix Diaz, John Molina Jr., Viktor Postol, Hank Lundy, Dierry jean, Thomas Dulrome, Raymundo Beltran, Yoriorkis Gamboa, and Ricky Burns.

Benavidez does not have the professional resume of Crawford, but he has beaten some decent boxers. He has defeated the likes of Frank Rojas, Matthew Strode, Francisco Santana, Jorge Paez Jr., Mauricio Herrera, and Pavel Miranda.

However, his win against Herrera is disputed by many who thought Herrera deserved the decision in that bout.

This is a major, major step up in competition for Benavidez. Unfortunately for him, he has never faced anyone near the level of Terrance Crawford and it is this writer’s opinion that he will be in over his head on Saturday night.

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Terence Crawford Readies for Homecoming Bout Against Jose Benavidez Jr.


Terence Crawford is excited to be back in Omaha, his beloved hometown and the site of many of his greatest fistic moments. The man nicknamed “Bud” will defend his WBO welterweight world title Saturday evening against Jose Benavidez Jr. at the CHI Health Center Omaha (formerly the CenturyLink Center), live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET. His four CHI Health Center outings have drawn nearly 45,000 fans, and another packed house is expected.

The long-simmering animosity between Crawford and Benavidez spilled over into Wednesday’s media day, with the pair and their respective teams exchanging verbal haymakers.


Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

The ESPN broadcast will also include 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist and top featherweight prospect Shakur Stevenson (8-0, 4 KOs) in a 10-rounder against the battle-tested Viorel Simion (21-2, 9 KOs).

The action begins on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET and features female boxing sensation Mikaela Mayer (7-0, 4 KOs) versus Vanessa Bradford (4-0-2, 0 KOs) for the vacant NABF super featherweight title, former 140-pound world champion Mike Alvarado (39-4, 27 KOs) against Robbie Cannon (16-13-3, 7 KOs), Omaha-born light heavyweight prospect Steve Nelson (11-0, 9 KOs) taking on Oscar Riojas (17-10-1, 6 KOs), and Carlos Adames (14-0, 11 KOs) battling Joshua Conley (14-2-1, 9 KOs) for the vacant NABF super welterweight title.

Terence “Bud” Crawford

On the beef between him and Benavidez

“It’s been real since day one, since the fight has been announced. It ain’t been nothing but real.”

“I’m just going to go out there and shut him up. That’s it. That’s all.”

On whether Benavidez deserves the title shot

“No. Not at all. But that ain’t the point. The point is we’re here now, and we’re fighting on Saturday. Come Saturday, all the talking will be out the window.”

On people asking about future opponents and not Benavidez

“I’m just gonna keep doing what I’ve been doing, and that’s winning the fights and looking spectacular each and every fight. Everything else will fall into place.”

“It’s part of the game, but I’m not worried about that. They do their thing, and I’ll do mine on Saturday.”

“Once he feels them punches going upside his head, I don’t even know if he’s going to want to stand there next to me.”

Jose Benavidez Jr.

“It’s time to show the world what I can do. I’ve been waiting for this my whole life.”

“I am here. I am going to take over this city, and I am going to take his belt. I’m not scared.”

“I don’t see anything special in him. I don’t know why everyone hypes him up so much.”

Shakur Stevenson

On whether it’s a challenge to fight a late-notice opponent in Simion

“Honestly, no, because I come from the amateurs where I went into tournaments and didn’t know who I was fighting. I was fighting randoms, never seen them fight before, and then I get in the ring. I saw them across the ring, and I won. I don’t think it made a difference.”

On Simion as a fighter

“This is my toughest opponent as a pro. I never fought an opponent with this type of record. I’m coming here, as always, to put on a show.”

On fighting as ESPN co-feature

“I love fighting on ESPN. I love the fact that I get to fight on Bud’s undercard, and he’s the main event and I’m the co-main event. I’m ready to open the show.”

Mikaela Mayer

On moving down to 130 pounds

“I’m a lot stronger than ever while fighting at a lower weight. I’m coming into my own as an athlete.”

On adjusting to the pro game

“From my first fight to now, I see such a huge difference. There’s such a big difference between the amateurs and the pros. For each opponent, my team and I look at what they do best and how we can counter it.”

“I don’t feel any added pressure because this is what I wanted. I’m going to go in there and get the job done.”

Mike Alvarado

On returning after less than four months removed from his last fight

“Fighting {in Nebraska} the last time in 2017, I had a good knockout. I’m ready to do it again. From that point until now, I got a new trainer. I’ve been doing new things in training. For me to apply what I’ve been working on, I didn’t really have a chance before the last fight. It’s good. I needed some rounds. I had some inactivity.”

On fighting in front a raucous crowd Omaha

“It gives you more motivation, and I like the intensity. I’m happy to be on this stage again.”

Carlos Adames

“I am 100 percent recovered from my foot injury and ready to show the fans that I am the future of the 154-pound division. It’s a big honor to fight on this card, and I want to give the fans in Omaha and watching on ESPN+ an incredible show.”

“Conley is a tough guy, but I am 100 percent prepared. I feel comfortable at 154 pounds. My power is going to be too much for him.”

Crawford-Benavidez and Stevenson-Simion will air live and exclusively on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10:30 p.m. ET with undercards streaming live in the United States at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+ — the new multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment in conjunction with ESPN.

Remaining tickets to this world championship event, priced at $178, $103, $63, and $38, not including applicable fees, can be purchased at the CHI Health Center Omaha box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 800-745-3000, or online at ticketmaster.com.

Use the hashtag #CrawfordBenavidez to join the conversation on social media.

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Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Preview: Prograis Defends Title Against Juan Jose Velasco


By: Ken Hissner

Interim WBC Super Lightweight southpaw Regis “Rougarou” Prograis, 21-0 (18), out of Houston, TX, riding a six fight knockout streak defends his title against WBC Latino Champ Juan Jose “El Pitbull” Velasco, 20-0 (12), of Bueno Aires, ARG, over 12 rounds.

This is a “homecoming” for Prograis fighting at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, LA. He was born in New Orleans and has always wanted to headline there so Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment and Sampson Boxing has made his dream come true. On Saturday at 7pm ESPN will show this card.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

“It’s a dream to come here. The Lakefront Arena, I grew up right around the corner from there. I have to hide my excitement for I still have to fight. I hope to bring big time boxing back to New Orleans. Velasco is going to try to knock me out. I’m focused. There are no distractions,” said Prograis.

“Regis is a great fighter. To be a great champion, you have to beat the great fighters. I want to prove that Saturday night, that I’m elite like him,” said Velasco.

There is a strong undercard featuring Lightweight Teofimo Lopez, 9-0 (7), of David, FL, takes on IBO Continental Champion William “Baby Face” Silva, 25-1 (14), of Sao Paulo, BRZ, fight for the vacant WBC Continental Americas Lightweight title, over 10 rounds.

“I definitely want to showcase more of what I’m capable of doing. People have yet to see everything of me. This is a good step up,” said Lopez.

“I’m ready for the fight. It’s a real important fight. I had a really good training camp and I’m ready to go,” said Silva.

Coming off a draw decision super featherweight southpaw Mexican Erik De Leon, 17-0-1 (10), out of Detroit, MI, takes on Adrian “Chinito” Young, 25-4-2 (19), out of Sinaloa, MEX, over 10 rounds.

“I can’t wait to see all my fans. I can’t wait to display my talent and everything I got. It’s going to show Saturday so get there early,” said De Leon.

Also, on the undercard are unbeaten boxers like super welter 2016 Olympian Charles Conwell, 7-0 (5), of Cleveland, OH, taking on Travis “Sweet Feet” Scott, 19-3 (5), of Baton Rouge, LA., over 10 rounds.

Also, Jonathan “The King” Guidry, 10-0-2 (5), out of Dulac, LA., taking on Aaron Chavers, 8-4-1 (3), out of Oklahoma City, OK, over 6 rounds.

Also, super middleweight Tyler Howard, 14-0 (9), out of Crossville, TN, taking on Javier Frazier, 8-3-1 (4), out of SC, over 6 rounds.

Unbeaten boxers facing one another are super lightweight southpaw Fazlidden Gaibnazarov, 4-0 (2), of UZB and living in L.A., CA, against welterweight Kevin Johnson, 5-0 (4), out of Detroit, MI, over 8 rounds.
Unbeaten featherweight PR’s Jean Carlos “Chapito” Rivera, 13-0 (8), out of Orlando, FL, takes late sub Dominican Angel “El Gato” Luna, 11-4-1 (6), over 10 rounds.

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The Champ is Home: Jose Ramirez to Make First Title Defense in Front of Hometown Fans


The dream has been realized. Now, it’s time for Jose Ramirez to get down to business.

Ramirez (22-0, 16 KOs), from Avenal, California, will make the first defense of his WBC super lightweight world title against Danny O’Connor (30-3, 11 KOs) on Saturday in front of a projected sold-out crowd at the Save Mart Center in Fresno. It’s the building Ramirez packed several times on his journey to a world title.


Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Ramirez-O’Connor and the 10-round welterweight showdown between NABF champion Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Juan Carlos Abreu will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET.

The entire undercard will be shown on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET and includes heavyweight contender Andy Ruiz Jr. (30-1, 20 KOs) against Kevin Johnson (32-9-1, 16 KOs) in a 10-rounder, undefeated Andy Vences (20-0-1, 12 KOs) defending the WBC Continental Americas super featherweight title against Frank De Alba (22-3-2, 9 KOs) in a 10-rounder, and 18-year-old wunderkind Gabe Flores Jr. (8-0, 5 KOs) against James De Herrera (4-3, 3 KOs) in a six-round lightweight contest.

The fighters gathered Thursday at the final press conference at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino. This is what they had to say.

Jose Ramirez

“It’s quite an honor for me to bring this type of fight, this type of entertainment, to Central California. To fight my first title defense in front of my biggest fans, my closest friends and my family, it’s a blessing.”

“We’re calling this event ‘Protecting Home’ because we’re protecting those that belong here in this country, who fight every day and contribute to this community. We’re also protecting what belongs to us, which is a world title.”

On switching from Freddie Roach to Robert Garcia as head trainer

“I think what went on with that change was loyalty and the fact that we do so much outside of the ring as well. Robert is a guy who is from Oxnard, a very similar community to Central California. He understands the work ethic and what we represent, what we do. And he wants to be a part of it. He’s very motivated to train me. He’s very excited to train me. That makes it easier for me to be motivated and to be excited to stay in this sport. Freddie is a great man. He’s very respected. He always respected me as a fighter, but he had so many world champions, and I needed to feel more of that loyalty and excitement from him. And I think I found it now in Riverside with a lot of undefeated prospects, good prospects, and future world champions at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy.”

Danny O’Connor

“First and foremost, I’m a father and a husband, so that’s the most important thing. After taking a knockout in that form {a first-round stoppage loss versus Gabriel Bracero in October 2015} when I had never even been dropped in the gym before, I had to assess my personal health to make sure I was able to be that father, that husband I needed to be. It wasn’t so much taking time away from the sport, it was kind of just re-evaluating to make sure I was OK mentally and physically and still able to compete at the level I needed to be in a fight like this.”

“I feel grateful to be in this position. I’ve worked very hard inside the ring and outside the ring to overcome so much adversity to be here today. I never quit. I never gave up on myself. I never lost hope.”

Egidijus Kavaliauskas

“I’m just happy to fight in Fresno. It’s close to where I live in Oxnard. It’s very nice here. It’s very hot. On Saturday, it will be even hotter inside the ring. It’ll be a very good fight.”

Juan Carlos Abreu

“I feel very good. I’m ready to take the title back home to the Dominican Republic.”

Andy Ruiz Jr.

“My goal is to fight the big names out there. The main thing is to stay on track, stay on the right side and in shape, and get ready for whatever comes in 2018.”

“I’m in good condition. After my last fight March 10 {a first-round stoppage over Devin Vargas}, I’ve been in the gym ever since. I’m training really hard, taking it more seriously. It’s my time for this year and next year. The main thing is to stay in shape and be prepared.”

Gabe Flores Jr.

“I sold a bunch of tickets out here. I’m glad a lot of people are supporting me, and for my family to see me fight, it’s beautiful. There’s only one person that I wish could be here, and it’s my mother. She’s up there, but she’s going to be watching me, and she’s going to give me the energy I need to fight.”

On building his hometown of Stockton, California, as a boxing market

“I have amazing support in Stockton, California. We’re going to be there eventually. It’s going to take some time, but I can’t wait to fight in front of my people.”

Andy Vences

“{The Erick De Leon fight} was a technical fight. It ended in a draw. I do what I always do. I looked back at the fight, saw what adjustments I could’ve made, and moving forward, those are adjustments I’m going to show for this fight. The fans are in for it. They’re going to get their money’s worth because every time I fight at the Save Mart Center, I bring action, I bring knockouts.”

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Pedraza, Stevenson, Ready To Impress On Horn-Crawford Undercard


By: Sean Crose

“Jose ‘Sniper’ Pedraza is nearing a title shot,” a Top Rank press release declared on Tuesday, “while Shakur Stevenson is well on his way.” Both Top Rank fighters will now find themselves on the undercard of much anticipated WBO welterweight title bout between Jeff Horn and Terence Crawford. Puerto Rico’s Pedraza will put his 23-1 record on the line by facing the 22-0 Antonio Moran. “I am excited because this will be my first fight in Las Vegas, which everyone knows is the fight capital of the world,” Pedraza claims. “I am determined to give a great performance…I know Moran is a good fighter and coming to upset my plans, but I have worked very hard to make sure that does not happen. I expect to be victorious on June 9 and will continue to show I am a force at lightweight.”

The WBO Latino Lightweight title will be at stake when Pedraza faces Moran on June 9th at the MGM Grand in Vegas. The bout will be aired on ESPN+, along with the Crawford-Horn main event. As for Olympic star, Stevenson, the 6-0 New Jersey native will face the 16-1 Aelio Mesquita in an eight round affair in the featherweight division. “I’ve gotten the chance to fight at Madison Square Garden,” says Stevenson, “and now I’m ready for my Las Vegas debut at MGM Grand on June 9…there have been so many historic fights in that arena and now it’s my turn. It’s always fun to fight on Terence’s undercards. The Crawford family has adopted me, so I’m going to put on a great performance for them and everyone watching at MGM and on ESPN+.”

The 26-0 Jose Benavidez will also be battling that night as he faces the 22-0 Venezuelan Frank Rojas. Having won all but one of his fights by KO, the hard hitting Rojas will present quite a challenge for Benavidez when they meet in a 10 round welterweight affair. “I have 21 knockouts in 22 fights,” Rojas claims. “On June 9, I will add another knockout to my record…I’m coming for you, Benavidez! I’m 100 percent ready to give the fans a great fight. I hope you are ready because I’m going to knock you out. I’m going to rip his head off. Get ready.” As for Benavidez, he appears eager to face the challenge. “”I hope that Rojas trained hard and that he comes well prepared,” he says, “because I’m determined to stop him.”

“Rojas will not touch me at all,” Benavidez adds. “He will not rip my head off because I’m going to rip his head off first.”

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USBA Featherweight Champion Jose Haro Fighting a Different Battle


By: Ken Hissner

USBA Featherweight Champion Jose Haro is from West Jordan, Utah, and won the title back in June knocking out Daniel Franco in the 8th round. He won every round up until then and scored a pair of knockdowns with the second one putting Franco out cold.

Haro, 14-1-1 (8), turned professional in August of 2010 winning his first 8 fights in Utah. Taking a fight with Toka Kahn Clary, 11-0, in June of 2014 coming off 10 months of inactivity he lost a hard fought 6 round decision at Bally’s in Atlantic City, NJ. Clary is currently No. 14 in the WBA.

Four months later Haro was in with tough Jorge Diaz, 18-3, in Somerset, NJ, ending in a split decision draw. Each boxer got a vote with the third judge calling it a draw.

It would be 7 months later before Haro fought again defeating Efrain Esquivias, 17-3-1, who had a knockout win over former world champion Rafael Marquez. The Esquivias fight was in Double Tree, Ontario, CA, as was his next fight with Juan Reyes.

Two wins would follow the Esquivias fight starting 2 months later when Haro defeated Miguel Tamayo, 17-13-2, of Mexico, with 15 knockouts. Haro would come back 2 months later defeating Juan Reyes, 12-2-3, a Mexican from CA.

In 2016 Haro finding it hard getting good opposition due to his ring success won a pair of fights 7 months after the Reyes fight defeating Raymond Chaco, 6-17, back in Layton, Utah, in April. He would follow this up in July stopping Sergio Nagera, 11-25-2 in 4 rounds.

Haro would be off close to a year when the fight with Roc Nation’s Daniel Franco was offered for the vacant USBA Featherweight title in June of 2017. Haro won every round starting to hurt Franco as early as the third round. In the fifth round Franco was warned for hitting behind the head of Haro. In the sixth round with Haro working Franco over good the referee warned Franco for holding.

In the fatal 8th round Haro rocked Franco with a hard right spinning him around and down he went which was a delayed knockdown. Franco’s corner could have thrown in the towel then but let it go on with just over 2 minutes left in the round. Haro went right after Franco who was bleeding from the nose. Another hard right and down went Franco face first with the referee immediately waving the fight over at 2:43 of the 8th round in a scheduled 10.

Franco was carried out in a stretcher. Haro told the ring commentator, “if it wasn’t for my wife I couldn’t do it.” They (Yesenia) have 5 children, Evenie 10, Alli 8, Haley 5 “Nugget”, Riley 3 and Louie 7 months. He is up at 3am each morning and off to work at 4. He then finishes his job and comes home so his wife can go to work. There is not much money when you are coming up like Haro is.

Haro has told his trainer Eric, his brother that if he is taking a beating stop the fight. He has a wife and 5 children to think of. He has had a lot on his mind since Franco went into a coma for 9 days and needed 4 brain operations. Franco feels Jay-Z who owns Roc-Nation has thrown him under the bus.

Haro was a victim of a hate crime being shot in both feet and told he may never walk again in 2015. He overcame plenty of troubles but regained his health to fight again. He broke his foot a year later in October of 2016 after this and His agent is Whitfield Haydon. Haro is ranked No. 15 by the IBF due to winning the USBA title. He had plenty of amateur experience with over 100 fights only losing 15 of them. Please keep Haro and of course Franco in prayer. He is currently scheduled to fight for Top Rank in February.

“My main purpose for fighting is to fight the best and hope someday make enough money to pay off my mortgage and leave this sport with good health. Once I am done with my career I would like to open my own boxing gym and help the youth in any way I can and watch my kids grow up,” said Haro.

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Unbeaten Benavidez Brothers Take Different Routes to Success


By: Ken Hissner

In talking to the father and trainer Jose Benavidez, Sr. from their Big Bear, CA, training camp about his sons Jose, Jr. and David Benavidez they have taken different routes from their amateur experiences to their unbeaten professional careers.

Jose Benavidez, Jr., 25-0 (16), at 25 had a 120-5 amateur career and had a fast start in 2010 winning 9 fights that year.

He has had an up and down career but still maintained his unbeaten record. In his last bout in July of 2016 he defeated Francisco Santana, 24-4-1, in Las Vegas, NV. Santana had a draw with recent title challenger Julian Williams of Philadelphia to his credit.

In 2014 Jose, Jr., won the interim WBA World super lightweight title defeating Mauricio Herrera, 21-4, of Mexico, who in a previous fight that year lost a disputed decision to then WBA Super world and WBC super lightweight champion Danny Garcia of Philadelphia, in Puerto Rico.

In his first defense he stopped Jorge Paez, Jr., 38-5-2, of Mexico in the twelfth and final round. He is co-managed by David A. Garcia and promoted by Top Rank.

The younger brother David “El Bandera Roja”, 18-0 (17), only had a 15-0 amateur record but has made the most of it since turning professional in 2013 and in his last bout stopped Rogelio Medina, 37-7, in May to earn a world title fight September 8th for the vacant WBC Super middleweight title against Romanian Ronald Gavril, 18-1 (14), out of NV, in Las Vegas. The latter is filling in for former champion Anthony Dirrell who was injured in training. Benavidez is promoted by Sampson Lewkowicz of Sampson Boxing and also co-managed by David A. Garcia. With a victory on September 8th David would be the youngest boxer not only to be the current youngest but the youngest ever to win the super middleweight championship of all time. His advisor is Al Haymon.

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Anthony Dirrell Speaks Out On Last Saturday Night


Anthony Dirrell Speaks Out On Last Saturday Night
By: Sean Crose

Boxing once again received some negative attention last Saturday night when chaos ensued after the Andre Dirrell-Jose Uzcategui super middleweight bout in Maryland. Dirrell was sent down and out by a punch that landed after the bell. Uzcategui was disqualified, but Dirrell’s uncle and trainer, Leon Lawson Jr, sucker punched Uzcategui twice in the fight’s aftermath. He’s now being sought by Maryland police. There was also an incident, however, involving Dirrell’s sibling, Anthony, for video shows the younger Dirrell brother pushing an individual in the post-fight madness. The man who was pushed is said to have been a Maryland commissioner. Needless to say, word was out that the police were quite interested in Anthony’s actions that night, as well as his uncles’.

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Anthony Dirrell himself, however, claims the police weren’t interested in him at all last weekend. “They wasn’t even looking for me,” Dirrell said over the phone. “They never interviewed me or nothing.” Dirrell even claimed that the police were rather helpful after the madness that transpired at the MGM Grand National Arena. “They escorted me to my brother’s room,” he claimed. Dirrells’ assertions coincide with those of his representative, Kira Kusky, who I had spoken with earlier in the day. “He is not in any jeopardy,” she said when I asked about a police investigation. “No, not at all.”

And so Anthony Dirrell looks clear to meet Callum Smith next September in California for the WBC world super middleweight title. There was word that the championship battle would be put off due to legal matters stemming from last Saturday, but both Dirrell and his representative assured me that wouldn’t be the case. “His next fight is still on,” Kusky said, a fact Dirrell himself reiterated when we spoke a short time later. “I don’t see how (the fight could be off),” he claimed. “Nobodies’ looking for me.” It’s clear, then, that Dirrell and his team feel it is safe to focus on the talented and undefeated Smith without being impeded by legal matters.

As for older brother, Andre – who found himself on the mat after the bell last Saturday – Dirrell claims he’s doing well. “My bother’s fine,” he said. The saga of Leon Lawson Jr, uncle and trainer, has yet to be resolved (he’s still wanted by police, after all), yet it looks like both Dirrell brothers themselves are free to carry on with their respective careers. Before the call ended I asked Anthony if he’d like to, through his perspective, go over the events at the MGM Grand National Arena. “No,” he responded. “I’m not talking about that.”

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Boxing’s Dark Saturday


Boxing’s Dark Saturday
By: Sean Crose

Look, boxing is a rough sport. Always has been. Always will be. Nothing gets much darker than when fighters become permanently damaged or even killed.

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There’s other less than savory matters, however, that often abound in and around the sweet science. For years, the sport was heavily under mafia influence. What’s more, bad decisions on the part of judges still pop up on a regular basis. Worse yet, modern fans are forever being taken for saps (Mayweather-McGregor is – or will be – in a sense, only the most recent example). And then, of course, there’s the miscellaneous, off the wall stuff. Like the time an in-ring riot erupted immediately after a Riddick Bowe-Andrew Golota heavyweight throwdown.

This past Saturday presented just such a scenario, when Jose Uzcategui was disqualified for hitting Andre Dirrell after the bell, an act which subsequently sent Dirrell to the mat. In response to said offense, Dirrell’s trainer and uncle, Leon Lawson Jr, absolutely cold cocked an unsuspecting Uzcategui twice. To make matters all the more insane, the entire incident was recorded for the entire world to see. Police are now looking for Lawson, who will be charged with some pretty serious stuff after such a violent assault. The trainer, who slipped out of the MGM Grand National Arena after the attack, is still essentially on the lam, as a Sunday phone call to the Saint George’s County Police Department presented no further developments.

Again, boxing is a rough sport. What’s more, physical violence, which is what boxing deals in, can lead to exceedingly high emotions. Still, one simply does not get to step up to an unsuspecting person and repeatedly punch that person in the face. It’s illegal and it’s also wrong.

Will Lawson be banned from boxing, as some are suggesting? Will he end up doing jail time? Maybe. Maybe not. This is boxing, after all, where nothing can be taken for granted, either in or out of the ring.

Yet the dark cloud that hung over the sport on Saturday didn’t begin and end with Lawson. Up in Madison Square Garden, Terence Crawford absolutely beat the hell out of an overmatched Felix Diaz later that same evening. Fair enough, you might say, Diaz knew what he was getting himself into. And while that’s true, this author still found Crawford’s behavior unsavory. Mocking an opponent is part of the psychological warfare of boxing.

Mocking an opponent while in the act of deforming that opponent’s face, however, is sadistic and unacceptable. Oh, it’s legally permissible. But it is – or should be – socially unacceptable, nonetheless.

Boxing’s been having a great year. Here’s hoping the terrible moments keep to a minimum.

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WBC Minimumweight Champion Chayaphon Moosri Goes 46-0!


WBC Minimumweight Champion Chayaphon Moosri goes 46-0!
By: Ken Hissner

Too many times the Thailand boxers have built up records and WBC Minimumweight champion Chayaphon Moosri at 46-0 (17), is no exception.

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In Moosri’s third bout he won the vacant WBC Youth title fighting an opponent who was 0-1 in March of 2007. He defended it 8 times. Several of his opponents had records of 0-0, 0-1 and 1-2. In December of 2009 he won the interim WBC International title and made 2 defenses. Then on January 2011 he won the vacant WBC International Silver title over a 7-5-2 opponent and made 3 defenses beforere-winning the vacant International title in November of 2011 making it 5 defenses.

In November of 2014 Moosri wins the WBC World title from a 14-4-1 boxer from Mexico and made 6 defenses. In his 46 fights he has defeated 29 opponents with winning records and 14 with losing records along with 2 debuting opponents and a 15-15-2 opponent.

Moosri is 31 and has been fighting for 10 years. His bio shows no amateur credentials. All 46 of his fights have been fought in Thailand. The WBA champion Thammanoon Niyomtrong, 15-0 (7), is also from Thailand. It would make sense for the two to meet in a unification bout. Mexico’s Jose Argumedo, 19-3-1 (11), holds the IBF titleand Japan’s Katsunari Takayama won the WBO title after losing his IBF title to Argumedo.

In December of 2016 and March of 2017 (his last bout) Moosri has won 6 round decisions in order to build up his record. A world champion shouldn’t be fighting 6 round bouts. It seems he is aiming to overtake both Rocky Marciano and Floyd Mayweather’s 49-0 record.

Another Thai boxer named Samson Dutch Boy Gym was 43-0 (36) when he retired. He won the World Boxing Federation super fly title in his fourth fight and defended it 38 times. Only thing is he defended against opponents with the following records:

1-7, 1-7-1, 8-16-2, 0-7 and 1-6. He never fought outside of Thailand.

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Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Jose Pedraza vs. Gervonta Davis, James DeGale vs. Badou Jack


Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Jose Pedraza vs. Gervonta Davis, James DeGale vs. Badou Jack
By: William Holmes

On Saturday night the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York will host a WBC/IBF Super Middleweight Unification Title fight between Badou Jack and James DeGale to be televised live on the Showtime Cable Network.

This bout will help determine who the true number one boxer is in the super middleweight division since Andre Ward bumped up to the light heavyweight division.

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Another bout scheduled for Saturday will be between Jose Pedraza and Floyd Mayweather Jr. promoted Gervonta Davis for Pedraza’s IBF Junior Lightweight Title. This bout should open up the Showtime broadcast.

The following is a preview of Saturday’s card.

Jose Pedraza (22-0) vs. Gervonta Davis (16-0); IBF Junior Lightweight Title

This is an intriguing matchup between two young upcoming stars in boxing with a bright future ahead of them. It’s also interesting because both boxers have had some much publicized issues with their management teams in the months coming into this fight. It’s been alleged that Pedraza wasn’t completely pleased with his lack of activity underneath the management of Al Haymon, and it’s also been alleged that there was some friction between Gervonta Davis and his promoter, Floyd Mayweather Jr.

However, those issues appear to have been resolved to allow this matchup to take place.

The most noticeable difference between the two boxers on Saturday will be the difference in size. Pedraza will have a two and a half inch height advantage over Davis and will also have about an inch and a half reach advantage. Pedraza is also five years older than Davis, and is experienced enough to deal with the southpaw style that troubles many boxers.

Pedraza does have an edge in amateur experience. Davis did well on the national level; he was a 2012 National Golden Gloves Champion, a three time National Silver Gloves Champion, and a two time PAL Champion. But, Pedraza competed on the international stage as an amateur and represented Puerto Rico in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Valuable international experience that Davis does not appear to have.

Davis has been the more active boxer between the two. He fought five times in 2015 and twice in 2016. Pedraza only fought twice in 2015 and once in 2016.

Davis is also the more powerful puncher/knockout artist. He has stopped fifteen of his opponents. He has defeated the likes of Marco Antonio Macias, Guillermo Avila, Luis Sanchez, and Cristobal Cruz.

Pedraza only has twelve stoppages on his resume. He has defeated the likes of Stephen Smith, Edner Cherry, Andrey Klimov, Michael Farenas, and Tevin Farmer.

This will be an entertaining bout between power and technique, and it should be a close one. But Pedraza has faced better opposition both as an amateur and a professional, and that experience alone gives him a slight edge going into their fight on Saturday.

Badou Jack (20-1-2) vs. James DeGale (23-1) WBC/IBF Super Middleweight Titles

This is one of the best bouts that could be made in the super middleweight division, and the winner should be considered by most to be the best super middleweight.

Both boxers are beginning to leave their prime ages as Jack is thirty three years old and DeGale is thirty years old. Neither boxer is known for their power, as Jack only has twelve stoppage victories and DeGale has fourteen stoppage victories.

Even though both boxers are at the top of their weight division, neither fighter has been very active. Jack fought once in 2016 and twice in 2015, and DeGale also fought once in 2016 and twice in 2015.

Both boxers have a deep amateur background. Jack represented Gambia in the 2008 Summer Olympics and DeGale represented Great Britain in the 2008 Summer Olympics. However, only DeGale medaled as he won the gold medal.

Jack has defeated the likes of Lucian Bute, George Groves, Anthony Dirrell, Rogelio Medina, Marco Antonio Periban, and Farah Ennis. His lone loss was an upset loss to Derek Edwards which he lost by TKO.

DeGale has defeated the likes of Rogelio Medina, Lucian Bute, Andre Dirrell, Marco Antonio Periban, Gevorg Khatchikian, and Dyah Davis. His lone loss was the George Groves.

Even though this is a good matchup, it will likely not be a fan pleasing fight as both boxers are technically skilled fighters that are not known for their power. DeGale has experienced more success as an amateur than Jack, and that indicates that he’s the better technical boxer.

DeGale should win by a close decision on Saturday night.

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Dana White Says No to McGregor-Diaz III


Dana White Says No to McGregor-Diaz III
By Jaime C. Feal

UFC President Dana White has stated he has no interest in a trilogy fight between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz and that he is “moving on.” Between McGregor showing up 30 minutes late and the water bottle throwing fiasco at the UFC 202 press conference, Dana has had his hands full trying to control the drama that surrounds these two fighters. Add in the fact that McGregor was pulled from his originally scheduled rematch with Diaz at UFC 200 for entirely skipping the press conference, and the fact that Diaz is now on McGregor’s pay scale ($2+ million per fight), and this matchup has really started to cause headaches for Uncle Dana.

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​Furthermore, Jose Aldo, the current interim Featherweight Champion, has been promised a rematch/title unification bout with McGregor or else McGregor will be forced to vacate his UFC Featherweight title. Nate Diaz has stated he doesn’t want to fight again unless it’s the trilogy fight against McGregor, and Conor said after UFC 202 that if Diaz wants a rematch it has to be in the 155 lb. weight division. Dana White even went as far as to say McGregor could fight Eddie Alvarez for the 155 lb. title if he wants. It seems like we have every reason to believe Dana won’t make a trilogy fight, right? Wrong.

​Dana White is a glorified spin and hype man. He’s also the UFC’s de facto Public Relations manager. It is his job to divert the fans’ attention away from fights he currently does not want to make. Nate Diaz isn’t going anywhere, and neither is the ability for the UFC to cash in on that fight. But the UFC Featherweight Division needs to get sorted out and Jose Aldo needs a chance to avenge his 13 second KO loss to McGregor. What Dana is doing is hyping the fight(s) he is going to make next, while having the fans believe the McGregor-Diaz trilogy fight is impossible. Then in a year or two when they’ve cashed in on McGregor-Aldo II and possibly other fights, they’ll make the trilogy fight and cash in big on “The Notorious” Conor McGregor one more time.
Until then, it’s time to sell the McGregor-Aldo rivalry once again, and maximize their earnings by generating interest in that fight as opposed to any other McGregor fight they plan on making down the line. If one thinks Dana is truly not interested in ever making a third fight between two warriors who deliver action-packed fights and have strong fan-bases, then they also must believe that Dana White does not like money.

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What’s next for Vasyl Lomachenko?


What’s next for Vasyl Lomachenko?
By: Jordan Seward

Vasyl Lomachenko created history last Saturday in Madison Square Garden by becoming a two-weight world champion in just his seventh professional fight.

The Ukrainian, who had an illustrious amateur career before he turned pro, delivered a brutal fifth-round knockout of Rocky Martinez to strip away and claim his WBO super-featherweight belt.

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Lomachenko (6-1) has now won world titles at featherweight and super-featherweight. The Ukrainian gold medallist won his first world title when he handed Gary Russell Jr (27-1) his first and only career defeat, with a majority decision victory to claim the vacant WBO world featherweight title. Although this was his second bite at the cherry.

Orlando Salido (43-13-4) was due to make his first defence of the WBO world featherweight belt against Lomachenko in the Ukrainian’s second professional fight but Salido came in over weight and was subsequently stripped of the belt. The much bigger Salido slugged his way to a split decision victory and is the only blemish on Lomachenko’s professional record to date.

The transition from amateur boxing to professional boxing can be a difficult one, but the Ukrainian was undoubtedly ready to make the leap way before he actually did. Before turning pro, the double Olympic champion achieved just about everything that can be as an amateur and boasts an incredible record of (396-1), the only loss coming to Albert Selimov. This sort of amateur pedigree stands a fighter in very good stead to progress on to the professional ranks and Lomachenko is testament to that.

Lomachenko nurtured in the amateur ranks and bought over his speed, skill and power to the professional game seamlessly, it was there for all to see, but questions hung over his head after the defeat to Salido. Many suggested he wasn’t ready to fight at world level and needed more time as a professional before fighting for a world title. How wrong they were. If it wasn’t for Salido coming in over the 126lb limit the story could’ve been different. Not that it mattered as he claimed the very same belt a fight later and hit back at his critics by beating a 24-fight veteran in Gary Russell Jr and winning a world title in just his third professional fight.

And now, at just 28-years-old and seven fights in, it seems Lomachenko is destined to replicate the success he had in the amateurs in the professional game. The Ukrainian is already unquestionably one of the biggest rising stars of modern boxing and has proved he is the real deal in the professional ranks. The only thing left to ponder, is who’s up next for Lomachenko?

It all depends on what weight division he wants to operate in, there’s huge fights out there for him at featherweight and super-featherweight. A unification fight with the IBF world super-featherweight champion Jose Pedraza (22-0) makes sense and would certainly appeal to an American audience. Guillermo Rigondeaux (16-0) is a name being bandied about as he returns to the ring after eight months out against James Dickens (22-1) on the 16th July.

The Cuban shares two Olympic gold medals with Lomachenko and has stated in the past he would fight the Ukrainian at 126lbs. It would be interesting to see who would come out on top of this super fight with the speed and power of Lomachenko and the defensive control and swagger of Rigondeaux.

Even a fight at lightweight is a possibility. Dejan Zlaticanin (22-0) has fought in America in his last two fights and has just won the WBC world lightweight title and could be a potential next opponent for the skilful Lomachenko. If he hasn’t already cemented his position among the world’s top pound for pound fighters, becoming a three-weight world champion in just eight fights surely would.

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