Has Chris Eubank Junior Graduated to the Seniors?
By G.E. Simons
At the end of February, Chris Eubank Jnr. beat gold medal Olympian and former two-time IBF super-middleweight champion of the world, James DeGale, into retirement and earned a signature win in a curious career so far, which has generated column inches, the airbrushing of defeats and a rain of dollars earned.
Junior, like his decorated father, just has that thing – it is undefinable, a lightning rod from Queensbury, infuriating, probably possibly impossible to deal with but vital and engaging at the same time.
Photo Credit: Ian Walton/SHOWTIME
Very few wish to sit down at the negotiating table with the Eubanks but their enigma is such that the same very few are not prepared to nip them out of the conversation all together. And fewer still embargo the opportunity to share a ring with the descendant of British boxing royalty.
But how good is Chris Eubank Jnr., how far can he go in the glittering duo of the middle and super-middleweight divisions which he is currently straddling, and is it possible for him to step out of the haute couture shadow of his truly, eccentrically iconic bloodline.
On one hand, what is there not to like?
Junior speaks with eloquence, eschews profanity, fully understands the mechanics of the black mirror generation and fights like a savage.
On the other, critics speak of nepotistic privilege, a lack of schooling and the most basic of foundation skills, narcissistic arrogance and even a dangerous ambivalence towards the dangers of the fistic art and its ramifications.
Chris Eubank Jnr. began his boxing apprenticeship in the US through an unusual familial arrangement which saw him move stateside and reside with a legal guardian in Irene Hutton, which also delivered a dual citizenship.
The young Eubank’s pugilistic genesis however, couldn’t have begun under much better tutelage, in working out of the Las Vegas gymnasium of Hall of Fame middleweight Mike McCullum, wo said of his charge, “Everything has worked out perfectly. In a few years, England is going to have another world champ named Eubank. I go in the ring with him and he’s skillful, but he can also bang.”
An amateur career began in 2007 and a mere seven fights later he claimed the Golden Gloves title for the state of Nevada and compiled a 24-2 record in the unpaid ranks before turning professional in 2011.
Back in the UK as a fledgling pro, the services of Brighton fight game don, Ronnie Davies were retained along with a presence, mentorship and guidance from Eubank Snr. of course. But who did what, who listened to who and what plans were planned is very much up for conjecture and whatever the what, why or where, was Junior really listening anyway?
His first 18 fights were the usual trade-learning, opposition-vetting, road-bleeding, hand-raising tour of scattered British leisure centres and arenas with a detour to Denmark for a victory along the way.
So far, was so good for an aspiring pro with burgeoning buzz, name value and an increasing presence in the one-to-watch and man most likely column.
But then came Billy Joe Saunders on a cold November night and a London acid test at the docklands ExCel Arena to contest the British, European and Commonwealth middleweight titles.
This was the first real test of the junior Eubank’s abilities as a professional and to be fair, Billy Joe’s as well, although he had operated in better company with wins over Gary ‘Spike” O’ Sullivan and Nick Blackwell on his record heading into this one.
A real fight of two halves saw Saunders befuddle, shut out and shutdown Eubank over 6 opening rounds and then defend that with some scares and enhanced aggression from his opponent through the closing 6, before inflicting a split decision loss on him.
Scores of 115-114 and 115-113 for Saunders and 116-113 for Eubank Jnr. were difficult to argue with and agreement with the outcome is probably dependent on whether you prefer your boxing served cultured or aggressively.
Speaking with SKY Sports in 2016, Eubank said of the fight, “I wasn’t battered or shown up. I made the mistake of not pressing him early, pacing myself too much because it was my first 12-round fight.”
A good assessment and a fair one against a skilled operator in Billy Joe Saunders who went on to claim the WBO world middleweight title from Andy Lee and defended it with a signature victory in a hometown humbling of David Lemieux in Quebec.
For his part, Eubank went on to win eight straight in increasingly impressive style against solid opposition including the then unbeaten Dmitrii Chudinov, Gary ‘Spike’ O’ Sullivan, Arthur Abraham and Avni Yildrim, the latter as part of the lucrative World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) super middleweight tournament.
A run which also included his capture of the British middleweight title in a savagely and tragically one-sided encounter with Nick Blackwell.
His show reel third round knockout of Turkey’s come-forward Yildrim set up a WBSS semi-final against the venerable WBA world champion at the weight in George Groves and represented a second step up to challenge at elite level.
Groves produced a mercurial performance in a unanimous points victory which made a mockery of his underdog status going into the fight and showed perhaps even more than the Saunders defeat, the inability of Eubank to deal with a moving, technically correct and knowing elite-level opponent.
However, the defeat did reiterate Eubank’s own attributes of iron will, proper toughness, punch volume and unerring willingness. And the changes that he seems to have now made in the aftermath of that second defeat will perhaps now combine as the cornerstones to build a final sparkling act to his career.
A rust shaking blow-out victory over the tough but outgunned JJ McDonagh on the undercard of the WBSS final in Jeddah at the end of 2018 returned Eubank to winning ways which takes us right back to the DeGale victory.
In the build-up, James DeGale described their ITV pay-per-viewer as the ‘retirement fight’ and whilst Eubank refused to even say the R word, he knew it was so.
And so it proved to be with DeGale indeed retiring in the days after 12 torrid rounds where he saw the last echoes of his skills shredded, tasted the canvas twice and looked pretty unsteady from the second round onwards.
Though he refused to admit it, Eubank knew that a defeat to a third opponent from the elites in DeGale, albeit a corroded one, would surely confine him to that frustrating tier of ability sandwiched between too good for European but not good enough for World level.
Such did he know this, that he looked for the first time to galvanise and build on those cornerstone attributes that he had shown in defeat to Saunders and Groves by appointing a new trainer, his first officially, in Nate Vasquez.
Vasquez, a Mayweather Boxing Club coach with form, seemed to have the ear of Eubank and his respect too. Whether Junior’s claims of self-tutoring up to appointing him are entirely true or not is a slippery one but he certainly listened to his new trainer’s instructions between rounds and looked to implement them.
So, the question now is, with victory over James DeGale and a public ability to take instructions and schooling from a new voice in the team, has Chris Eubank Junior finally graduated to the seniors?
He probably has.
However, that new voice in the team will no longer be that of Nate Vasquez, who speaking with SKY Sports in April confirmed that he had heard through word-of-mouth that Eubank Jnr. is now training with Virgil Hill in California.
“I don’t know if jumping trainers will help him. You can’t learn if you’re jumping trainers from time to time. If you go from trainer to trainer to trainer, it’s not good.”
Vasquez has not heard directly from Eubank following their work together for the DeGale fight, but is pragmatic, “I got the best win of his career with him. I’m not mad at him if he goes to another trainer.”
And with that the spread of possible next opponents is as broad as it is appetising, where win lose or draw he will make turnstiles spin and PPV tills ring for two or three more legacy fights at least.
A rematch with Billy Joe Saunders does great numbers and would be an intriguing match-up with both having improved since first they met. Whilst the unbeaten WBA champion Callum Smith would offer another intriguing civil war in the UK.
At 34, WBC champion Andre Dirrell offers an interesting option too in what is a really winnable one, as does the largely untested Caleb Plant, Tennessee’s unbeaten IBF belt holder.
Let’s also not forget the shadows cast and opportunities posed by Golovkin and Canelo whose radar Eubank has bleeped several times in the past
Speaking with talkSPORT Radio following the DeGale victory, Chris told the station, “For me, I’m 29 years old, I’m in the prime of my career and there’s just so much more that I wanna achieve. So many more belts that I want to collect, so I’m definitely looking now for the big names in the middleweight and the super-middleweight division.”
And that’s about the size of it.
Chris Eubank Junior always possessed every ingredient to make a massive impact except perhaps the technical seniority to worry the elite and cause trouble in the world title mix. Victory over James DeGale has given him that, his team is bolstered, his attitude has matured and his commercial alliance with ITV Boxing and PBC combine to make him a real player.
Whether this has been partly built with a victory over the carrion remains of what James DeGale had left rather than what Eubank has recently acquired remains to be seen but it will certainly be exciting and entertaining to find out.
Follow G.E. Simons on Twitter @GESimonsBoxing
What is Next for Errol Spence?
By: Waqas Ali
IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr produced a masterful performance following his 12-round decision win against former world champion Mikey Garcia (39-1).
The bout took place at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in front of over 47,000 fans in attendance.
Spence (25-0) executed his craft, cynical and crisp jab right from the start of the first round and kept using that for the entire round.
Garcia, a former four-division titlist did very little in terms of the activity level. The 31-year-old did step up his tactical style in the second round. Arguably that was his best round and close round to give him.
Spence, who was in the third defence of the title, stepped up his pace and landed devastating hooks in the third round that shook Garcia in his position.
The 29-year-old mixed up his punches in the middle and later stages of the fight with sharp left hooks to the head and body.
Garcia doing very little to fight back.
In round nine, Spence aka ‘The Truth’ cornered Garcia to the ropes and landed blistering body shots.
Much of the later rounds were repetition to the previous one and despite Garcia not landing any more than 10 punches per round, he showed great heart and devotion to the ring.
According to Compubox, Spence landed 345 of 1082 punches (32%). This was the most ever punches he had thrown as a professional.
This was also the most punches ever landed on Garcia.
Garcia landed only 75 of 406 punches (20%). His previous five bouts, his power punching accuracy was at above 40%. However, against Spence, he landed at a low 28%.
Spence won every single on all three judges scorecard. Reading at: 120-107 and 120-108 (twice).
The question remains: who is next for Spence and can he conquer the welterweight division?
According to a poll conducted by well-known boxing page on Twitter called Editinking, out of over 5,000 voters, 47% of them chose Terence Crawford for Spence to fight next, 28% chose Pacquiao and 15% picked Keith Thurman.
🤔 Who next for Errol Spence?
— EditinKing Boxing 🥊 (@EditinKing) March 17, 2019
In a post-fight interview of the bout, Spence instantly called out Pacquiao, who could be in the works of fighting him in July.
“Manny Pacquiao would definitely be a good fight,” Spence said.
“I’ll definitely give him that retirement check that he needs. I’m ready in July,”
Pacquiao in response stated: “Yeah, why not? We’ll give the fans a good fight. I’m so happy to be here in Dallas and I’m hoping I will be back here soon.”
For Pacquiao, this is a unique fight for him – considering the fact that he would a huge amount of money from this and to end his career on a high note would be big for him and a learning curve for Spence.
A much bigger financial award for the Filipino could be fighting the bigger fighters in the middleweight division such as Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin or the Charlo brothers.
But that is highly unlikely considering the huge weight advantage they would have over the 40-year-old veteran.
Terence Crawford, as boxing fans in the poll above, voted the most to fight Spence, is the main fight that has been going on for over two years.
He’s got great styles and variations in his arsenal of weaponry. His style of artilleries consists of footwork, speed, restricted and defensive guard, height and accuracy.
According to Compubox review, Crawford throws around 48 punches per round and connects with a rate of 35%. That’s five percent higher than the average welterweight.
In the power punching department, Crawford throws around 22 with a connect rate of 48%. That is 11% higher than the average welterweight.
Crawford opponents landed just 7 punches per round- 10 fewer than the welterweight and just 5 power shots per round.
Another fighter that could be a challenge for Spence is former two-weight world champion, Amir Khan.
Khan is always up for a challenge and has never been backed down from any competitor. He’s fought the likes of Marcos Maidana, Marco Antonio Barrera, Zab Judah, Paul McCloskey, Paulie Malignaggi, Luiz Collazo, Lamont Peterson, Danny Garcia and Canelo Alvarez.
Khan is known for his immense speed with blistering combinations which has always been his strongest asset throughout his amateur and professional career.
He would certainly be a great matchup for Spence in late 2019.
Whatever the case may be for Spence, the names listed above and in the poll are no easy target to take on. He possesses great talent and has proved it in the Kell Brook fight and even against Garcia. He is a fighter to watch out for and definitely a star of the future. Spence deserves to fight the big names in his division and boxing fans both casual and hardcore will no doubt be supporting him.
Boxing Insider Interview with Junior Younan: The Young God Adding to Brooklyn’s Long List of Prominence
By: Kirk Jackson
Undefeated super middleweight Junior ‘The Young God’ Younan 14-0-1 (10 KO’s) is one of the bright stars ushering in this new era of boxing. Overcoming obstacles and battling recent injuries, the Brooklyn-bred boxer aims to set plans in motion for the takeover in 2019.
Prior to fighting Derrick Findley 30-24-1 (20 KO’s) this weekend in Verona, New York on the undercard of a DAZN boxing event, Younan spoke with Boxing Insider and discussed plans for this year, expanded on his New York roots and living up to expectations.
“Well I’m in great shape right now so the plan is use my jab. He’s short he’s like 5’6” so use my jab, keep him outside, keep him honest, tag him up a little bit, keep him at range and box him but if that doesn’t work we’re ready to fight on the inside. We definitely want to expose that height and outbox him.”
This is a dangerous fight for Younan considering the variables not easily noticed at first glance. Yes Younan is the undefeated fighter, fighting in front of his hometown crowd, he’s young and has the upside and high trajectory. Younan has great boxing pedigree, good hand speed, coordination, size and is a good puncher.
One trait in Findley’s favor is his level of experience against great opposition. Finley definitely possesses is grit and that is something Younan is aware of.
“He’s been in the ring with a bunch of world champions. I’m not going in there looking for the knockout; personally I’m ready for a rough fight. He’s only been stopped by top dudes. Andre Ward went the distance with him, he went seven rounds with Andre Dirrell, he fought Edwin Rodriguez, [Jose] Uzcategui, [Vyacheslav] Shabranskyy and the list goes on.”
While knockouts aren’t guaranteed, a knockout is the special finish Younan will be searching for this weekend.
“I’m not going in there to look for it, but I think it will come personally. I’m more than ready, I been in camp for three months. Going into this fight I just think I’ve grown in the last year, year and a half I feel like I can think better under pressure and my ability to adjust has grown so I just want to show that.”
“Ya know it’s just a constant grind, the outsider looking in, I don’t think they understand how much goes into getting ready for a fight. It’s just an everyday grind, it’s rough. I’ve been in camp since December 5th, I was in camp with Marcus Browne – getting ready for Badou (Jack), it was just continuation when I got back home getting ready for the fight. “
“After the Ronald Ellis fight, they gave me a draw – I personally thought I won that fight, but battling yourself mentally after that. Just getting motivated after something like that happened, it’s a little bit of a battle but I feel like it made me better, work harder and it showed in my last performance and I’m pretty sure it’ll show in this next one.”
After overcoming a minor setback, Younan is focused on maintaining the proper course this year and winning every time he steps in the ring. Fighting on the DAZN card in front of his hometown fans is the first step for this year. In regards to representing New York the Brooklyn way, ‘The Young God’ relishes the opportunity to do so.
“It’s a good feeling, it’s a good feeling. My last fight was in Brooklyn, my first time fighting in Brooklyn in three years. It meant a lot to me so it brought out the best. There’s no added pressure, I like it. The list of champions (from Brooklyn) is crazy. I grew up around a lot top dudes including Danny Jacobs, Sadam Ali, Paulie Malignaggi, Curtis Stevens. I do feel like I gotta a reputation to uphold being from Brooklyn and I’m proud of it.”
“I grew up in the gym with all those guys, usually before every fight I get a call or two. Paulie trained with my dad for the Juan Diaz fight, we’re still very close. Me and him talk a lot, he definitely contributed to my growth, he had a lot of experiences and just little things he’s been through in the sport, not even all the time in the ring, just period. I definitely get a lot of insight from the older dudes and it’s great.”
In spite of his success as an amateur, Younan expressed professional boxing is much different but better suited for his style of fighting.
“I feel like amateur boxing doesn’t matter, professional fighting is a whole different world… you can’t throw million punches, you gotta be more careful. One punch can end ya night, people get knock-outs in the amateurs but those 10 oz. gloves are a little different. A lot of times I wouldn’t be able to fight how I wanna fight in the amateurs because you gotta worry about scoring a bunch of points. Now I can take my time, pick my shots and I think it comes out better.”
As Younan picks his punches and picks up additional experience climbing through the ranks, he has that great reputation of Brooklyn in the back of his mind.
Brooklyn is a borough represented by many champions; Mike Tyson, Shannon Briggs, Zab Judah, Daniel Jacobs, Paulie Malignaggi, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Junior Jones, Riddick Bowe, Sadam Ali and many more.
Maintaining relationships with some of these aforementioned fighters and sharing experiences has an obvious impact and viewers see it watching Younan in the ring. Over the past few years or so, the sport of boxing welcomed an influx of young talent into the professional ranks, some of which also gifted with transcendent ability to carry boxing from a commercial standpoint progressing forward.
“I just think I have a unique style, I feel like I bring a lot to the table, showmanship, personality and I hit hard. I have some pop, I’m flashy, I feel like I have the complete package to become something special in the sport. It’s all about goals at this point.”
“After this maybe three more fights, I want to stay busy, keep in the eye of the public at this point, three more fights this year after this one, I’ll be 18-0 and I’ll be knocking on some doors.”
His peers from the new generation are guys like Shakur Stevenson, Money Powell IV, Devin Haney, Gervonta Davis, fellow Brooklynite Teofimo Lopez, Karlos Balderas, Ryan Garcia, Ruben Villa – the list goes on. Some of these guys already captured world title – Davis. Some may be in position to fight for a world title this year – Stevenson, Haney and Lopez.
Perhaps they all aim to replicate similar success like retired Olympic Gold Medalist and former five-time, two-division, world champion Andre Ward 32-0 (16 KO’s).
“I got to spend a little time with him (Andre Ward),” Younan said when discussing his experiences with Ward.
“Maybe not pick his brain, but I got to see how he moves during the week of the fight. He was the ultimate professional; I get to steal little things. Before the Ward-Kovalev II fight he told us and said this is a big moment for us and he looked straight at me and we was like you guys gotta shine just as well I do and on this big stage you gotta step ya game up.”
With nuggets of knowledge embedded in his mind, Younan has his sights on a world title soon and his journey towards that goal and much more continues this weekend. Catch ‘The Young God’ at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York this weekend or across the DAZN app.
You can also follow Junior Younan @tygofficial on Instagram.
What’s Next For Chris Eubank Junior?
By: Hans Themistode
Chris Eubank Jr. (28-2, 21 KOs) got the biggest win of his career this past weekend when he knocked down former champion James DeGale (25-3-1, 15 KOs) twice and thoroughly dominated the contest. For Eubank Jr it was a win that he desperately needed. The story around him was that he looks like a world beater when he faces lesser opponents but when he steps up his level of competition he has failed.
It’s hard to argue against it as Eubank Jr had lost his two biggest fights of his career in George Groves and Billy Joe Saunders. Many had already written off his chances at winning. DeGale after all had the experience and pedigree advantages. Eubank Jr made a huge statement by putting on a dominant performance. Sure he picked up the IBO Super Middleweight title in the process but most importantly he proved that he can indeed raise his game when need be.
So where exactly does he go from here? Is he one of the best in the division? It’s hard to say. Was DeGale a shot fighter? It sure seemed like it. Regardless if he was or wasn’t Eubank Jr now has a signature win under his belt and a long list of fighters that he can take on next. Let’s take a look at who exactly that should be.
Over on the other side of the world Anthony Dirrell captured the WBC Super Middleweight title for the second time in his career with a win over Avni Yildirim this past weekend. It was a contest that was very close and had to be stopped in the tenth round due to a massive cut over the left eye of Dirrell due to a headbutt. That cut lead to the premature stoppage of the fight with Dirrell taking home the close victory. While Dirrell fought a back and forth affair with Yildirim, Eubank Jr dominated him when they matched up in 2017 to the tune of a third round knockout. The IBO title that Eubank Jr now possesses is not viewed as a major title. The WBC belt however is one of if not the most prestigious in all of boxing. If Eubank Jr can win against someone the caliber of Dirrell and snag the WBC title in the process then that would be a major statement.
Billy Joe Saunders
The former Middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (27-0, 13 KOs) has decided to move up to the Super Middleweight division for his next contest to take on Shefat Isufi for the vacant WBO title. If Saunders comes out on top in that matchup as many expect than a rematch with his domestic rival Eubank Jr who he out pointed in 2014 would be must see television.
Since their first matchup Saunders has gone on to become one of the best boxers in the entire sport. His attitude might rub the boxing community the wrong way but his skill is undeniable. In a rematch Saunders would be the odds on favorite. With that being said however, Eubank Jr has proved that he has matured and can cause anyone issues in the ring. These two don’t like each other which only adds fuel to their rivalry. Let’s hope we get this rematch sooner rather than later.
Callum Smith (25-0, 18 KOs) cemented himself as arguably the best in the Super Middleweight when he lifted the Muhammad Ali trophy by defeating George Groves in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series.
Smith has the boxing ability and power that can see him rule over the division for quite some time. Eubank Jr however would beg to differ as he feels as though he is the best that the division has to offer. Did I mention that both Smith and Eubank Jr are both from the United Kingdom which makes this matchup even more intriguing. Eubank Jr wants to be known as the best Super Middleweight in the world but in order to prove that he will need to defeat Callum Smith.
Boxing Insider Interview with Roy Jones Jr. at the Creed II Premier
By: Henry Deleon
At the NYC premiere for Creed 2, Boxing Insider got the chance to catch up with the legendary Roy Jones Jr.
Boxing Insider: Tell me Roy, what are your expectations for this movie, Creed 2?
Roy Jones Jr.: I expect it to be another great movie. They usually do a good job with these. It’s like they’re bringing “Rocky” onto the next generation, so for me it’s a beautiful thing. I love the concept, and you know the “Rocky” movies have actually brought a lot of fans to the sport of Boxing. It’s almost like the movie version of Boxing make some people pay more attention to real Boxing. When people see fights like the Gatti/Ward fights, it’s almost like they’re watching a real life “Rocky” movie.
Boxing Insider: How much impact did a movie like “Rocky” have on your career?
Roy Jones Jr.: Not really much on my career because I wasn’t much of a movie guy. But just the fact that I knew what it stood for, I knew what the concept was because I was a real boxer made me still respect it. It gave people a clear perspective of what some fighters feel. Everybody is not going to be the Sugar Ray Leonard, the Roy Jones, or the Muhammed Ali’s of their era. But there are guys who can be just as good to watch and who can provide great action-packed fights as the Arturo Gatti’s, the real life “Rocky’s”. It’s not always about the skill of Boxing, sometimes it’s about the heart and soul of Boxing and for that very reason the Rocky movies, the Creed movies do a great job in portraying that.
Boxing Insider: Being a pro fighter, do you feel that the way Hollywood portrays Boxing does the sport justice?
Roy Jones Jr.: It all depends on what movies you’re watching. Does it do some aspects of the sport justice? Yeah, but it doesn’t do the whole Boxing game justice because Hollywood would have to get deeper into the sport to do that. But it does do Boxing good because it shows people that every fighter has a story. So, what they’re doing I’d say is helping the sport of Boxing.
Roy Jones Jr. won several world titles in four different divisions. In 1988, he represented the United States in the summer Olympics where he went on to won a silver medal in the light middleweight division. He is considered by many to be one of Boxing’s all-time best.
“One thing you gotta know about Roy. The way I always saw myself is, I’m just like you. In the ring, I have a gift, that gift ain’t on the basketball court, that gift ain’t at home, you understand me? That gift is in the ring.” – Roy Jones Jr.
On November 21st, 2018 Catch Roy Jones Jr. and many more in the upcoming film “Creed 2”. This is going to be a fight you won’t want to miss!
Spence-Crawford And The Long Road To Nowhere
By Jake Donovan
The last time the top two welterweights in boxing happened to meet up in the same basketball arena and talk shop, it eventually resulted in the most lucrative event in the sport’s history.
Then again, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao weren’t just the best two welterweights in the world but also the best pound-for-pound and were circling each other for more than five years by the time they happened to run into each other at a Jan. ’15 Miami Heat game.
A budding rivalry has only just begun between Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford, both of whom are current unbeaten welterweight titlists. They’ve exchanged pleasantries (read: insults) through social media, and for real this past Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, home to the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.
It made for fun immediate reaction and a slew of clickbait headlines. Just don’t expect to lead to a head-on collision anytime soon—if ever at all.
The pair of elite boxers were on hand to take in Top Rank’s ESPN-televised show. Crawford is a regular ringside observer for his promoter’s events while not headlining his own shows.
Spence—who is advised by Al Haymon and fights under the Premier Boxing Champions banner on Showtime and now Fox prime—was in the house in support of fellow Dallas boxer Maurice Hooker, who defended his 140-pound title with a spectacular 7th round stoppage of Oklahoma City’s own Alex Saucedo.
While the aforementioned title fight was the main reason for the boxing world tuning in on Friday, it gave way to a much bigger sidebar, not unlike how Mayweather and Pacquiao meeting during halftime in South Beach is far more fondly recalled than the Heat eventually losing that night to the Milwaukee Bucks.
A major development worth noting from that Jan. ’15 entry was the fact that Mayweather and Pacquiao huddled up behind closed doors after the game, talking for more than an hour about the need for their long-awaited clash to finally become reality. In stark contrast, Friday’s run-in between Spence and Crawford ended with more of the same between the two— a lot of talk, but the realization that their careers will run in separate directions.
Spence practically admitted as such, not even bothering to bite his tongue in rattling off a potential 2019 campaign that won’t—or, frankly, doesn’t need to—include Crawford. The 2012 U.S. Olympian and reigning top welterweight is currently on course to face unbeaten four-division titlist Mikey Garcia next March at AT&T Stadium, home to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.
With a win, the rest of Spence’s 2019 campaign—as he suggested—would put him in the ring with two more of the top welterweights on the PBC side of the street.
PBC and Fox recently rolled out their 1st quarter schedule on the free-to-air network and its regional cable affiliate FS1. Just about every welterweight of note under Haymon’s advisory banner is scheduled to appear in the first four months of 2019. Aside from Spence—who along with Garcia will headline a Pay-Per-View event for the first time in their respective careers—comes four more welterweight bouts of significance.
Keith Thurman will fight for the first time since March ’17, as he faces Josesito Lopez in late January live on Fox in primetime. A similar setting will be provided for recently crowned two-time welterweight titlist Shawn Porter, who defends versus mandatory challenger Yordenis Ugas on March 9, as does an April meet between Danny Garcia—whose lone two career losses have come versus Thurman and Porter—and Adrian Granados, while Lamont Peterson and Sergey Lipinets collide in late February on FS1 with an interim title at stake.
Outside of that deal will come a January 19 superfight between Pacquiao—who earlier this fall joined the PBC family after more than a decade with Top Rank—and Adrien Broner live on Showtime PPV from Las Vegas.
The bouts being presented in such a cluster are undoubtedly designed to mix and match the winners—and possibly even several of the losing fighters—later in the year, perhaps as early as the beginning of the summer season. Spence suggested that should he and Porter win their next fights, a unification clash would immediately follow.
From there would come a pairing that would help advance Spence from rising superstar to industry leader, as he is already being groomed for a late 2019 run-in with Pacquiao, assuming the two can win out.
While the sport is available more than ever in U,S. markets thanks to lucrative deals with Showtime, Fox, ESPN and sports streaming service DAZN, the downside is that we’re getting a lot of fights but not necessarily THE biggest fights we’d like to see. The lone exception in the past couple of years came in the form of two sensational middleweight championship fights between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, yet even that pairing coming after nearly two years of talk.
Given that take, boxing fans are already clamoring for Spence and Crawford to meet sooner rather than later in lieu of history repeating itself. The sport doesn’t need another long-term Mayweather-Pacquiao soap opera, yet already has one at the heavyweight level with unbeaten titlists Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder continuing to come up with endless ways to say “No” rather than just one way to say “Yes.”
The ugly truth, however, is that Spence can afford to disappoint boxing fans by not fighting Crawford as long as Haymon can keep his word of matching his stud welterweight against the rest of PBC’s top players in the division, particularly a Pacquiao superfight.
Top Rank can’t make the same promises to its superstar. It could produce a negative public perception of Crawford despite his clearly wanting the fight far more than his counterpart.
Another reason for Crawford sitting ringside on Friday was to scout his next likely opponent. On the undercard, fellow unbeaten Top Rank-promoted welterweight Egidijus Kavaliauskas stopped Roberto Arriaza in three rounds to solidify his place as Crawford’s opponent. It’s a solid matchup on paper, but not one that even remotely moves the needle.
The same sad state applies for any other in-house welterweight Top Rank can summon for its top client, who just re-inked with the Las Vegas based promotional outfit earlier this fall. Crawford and his team agreeing to stick with Top Rank while fully aware that all of his top completion fights under the PBC banner is a fact that boxing fans won’t forget as long as he’s stuck settling for the Jeff Horns and Jose Benavidez’s of the world.
No matter how often he calls out Spence or any other top PBC welterweight, no matter how many in-person or social media run-ins take place, anything short of such a fight materializing will ultimately hurt the fighter who clearly wants it more.
This much wasn’t at all lost on Spence when he and Crawford decided to engage in banter that immediately made the rounds. He doesn’t care if he’s portrayed as the bad guy in any of this, when the truth is that a year from how he’ll boast the far healthier welterweight résumé no matter how he’s mixed and matched in house—and even without facing his biggest threat.
Mayweather made a very similar blueprint work in his favor, while Pacquiao would suffer two losses and eventually run out of available challenges worth arousing public interest. It’s possible that Crawford can run the tables for years, but testing the public’s—and his own—patience is not a long-term plan anyone is willing to once again embrace.
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.”
Crawford Won’t Get Spence Until……
By Rich Mancuso
The boxing fan deserve this fight as do Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.. This is asking the improbable with these obstacles of duel promotions and televised streaming rights. However a fight of this magnitude to unify portions of the welterweight titles and determine the pound-for-pound best is bound to happen.
Because it’s boxing, and the promotional fight has picked up a bit, they have to come to an agreement. Or do they?
But for this to happen there also needs to be unity with the respective promoters and of course the personnel who would be involved with networks and rights to televise this potential mega fight.
Photo Credit: Terence Crawford Twitter Account
And with boxing, a fight like this can be done. Then again it becomes a waiting game of back-and-forth and someone giving in with a late punch in the final round. With Top Rank and the PBC, obviously the main principals to deliver this also falls into the lines of boxing politics.
Boxing politics has never stopped Bob Arum and Top Rank from delivering. When the back-and-forth of politics concludes the fight is delivered. It has to be done and will be because Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. is as huge as Mayweather and Pacquiao was.
Perhaps this is bigger in magnitude because they are two champions, one with Top Rank and the other with the PBC, champions in the welterweight division. This elite division of welterweights that also generates the revenue and interest for boxing is shown in the ratings.
An this past Saturday, Terence Crawford, who could be the top pound-for-pound fighter in the business and Jose Benavidez Jr. established the highest rating boxing telecast on Broadcast and Cable television this year.
So now, it is time to deliver a fight that boxing needs. A fight that the boxing fan will demand. Delivering this fight, according to sources, and that back-and forth talk has commenced.
Moments after Crawford disposed Jose Benavidez Jr. in the final round Saturday night, his first defense of the WBO Welterweight title, Bob Arum was asked the questions. The fight boxing needs will have to wait but how long will it be?
Arum does have the leverage here because Crawford delivers the numbers for ESPN and the Hall of Fame promoter has the platform. Spence Jr. also has the numbers with Showtime and the PBC has that history of also delivering the numbers for the network seen in previous fights Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter opposing Danny Garcia for the Welterweight title.
In line with all of this, Tuesday Bob Arum made his pitch. Showtime, he said will soon be out of boxing just like HBO.
“So I’m predicting also that within the next year Showtime will be exiting from boxing because as great as they’ve been for boxing, they don’t belong,” he said. This was possibly the beginning of a bargaining point of view because Showtime is committed to continue their involvement with boxing, and the PBC continues to thrive with all the rumors to the contrary.
Arum is known to make some outrageous statements. This one, and only because he said Showtime is throwing more money into programming, does offer a line of truth. For the past few years it was HBO that lost the roster of fighters that put the network on top. But putting more of their budget into popular programs did boxing in for the network.
This is the Haves and Have Not of boxing. However, with Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. in the picture, it is about having the best fight for the boxing fan. Showtime and the PBC are moving along and so is Bob Arum and his deal with ESPN.
Just a matter of time and the fight will happen. Arum, in the meantime will go back-and-forth but is looking at other opponents for his champion. Similar to Mayweather and Pacquiao and how long it took, at some point next year this fight will be a reality.
And because this is boxing, it only works this way.
Errol Spence Shadowing the Path of Marvin Hagler
By: Kirk Jackson
As Errol Spence 24-0 (21 KO’s) progresses further into his career, the more it resembles a similar path once traveled by the legendary middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler 62-3-2 (52 KO’s).
Are far as listing similarities and drawing comparisons, there are plenty.
Comparatively from a fight stylistic standpoint, both are southpaws (albeit Hagler converted and was known as a switch hitter; a fighter skilled to switch interchangeably between southpaw to orthodox stance).
Hagler and Spence operate offensively off their stiff right jab; Hagler displayed the ability to effortlessly switch stances as mentioned earlier, but like Hagler, Spence prefers to mount his attack utilizing highly lethal, effective jabs.
Both possess impressive, Adonis-like physiques and oddly enough, both traveled to The United Kingdom to capture their first championship title.
Hagler made minced-meat out of Alan Minter over the course of four vicious rounds, while Spence comprehensibly violated Kell Brook into submission over the course of eleven rounds. Spence was 27-years-old at the time while Hagler was a year younger aged 26 years-old.
Like Hagler, Spence aims to transcend into boxing super stardom by facing another highly coveted, pound-for-pound fighter moving up in weight.
For Hagler, his dancing partner thrusting him into the realm of super-stardom was Roberto Duran.
Duran, initially dominating the lightweight division with hands of stone, climbed through the welterweight division, eventually reaching the mantle at middleweight to battle Hagler for middleweight supremacy.
Hagler soundly defeated Duran in an entertaining, competitive affair, securing his spot as one of boxing best fighters and biggest attractions.
Hagler’s victory over Duran led to greener pastures, as his star shined brighter and he capitalized eventually securing fights against Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard.
Mikey Garcia 39-0 (30 KO’s) is to Errol Spence as Duran was to Hagler.
And again, this is not a direct comparison of styles for each fighter, although we can draw similar comparisons for each fighter listed in this formula.
Whether it’s the traits of timing, mastery of range and distance, overall toughness and business-like demeanor, this is more of a comparison of situations and possible trajectory.
If not no. 1 on any given pound-for-pound list, Garcia is certainly in the discussion – just as Duran in his heyday.
Garcia has five world titles across four weight classes in seven championship fights. Like Duran, Garcia aims to move up in weight for greater challenges.
“There’s no one else that excites me enough, that motivates me and that can challenge me other than Errol Spence, and I’m willing to take that challenge, all the way up, because that’s the fight that will motivate me the most,” said Garcia at the post-fight press conference in his win over Robert Easter.
“I’m here to challenge myself. He is the best. He might feel that it’s an easy fight for him, that I’m too small, and that’s fine. Let’s get in the ring and let’s go to work.”
The emerging Spence recognizes too, facing Garcia could help build his brand among Hispanic boxing fans who strongly support Garcia.
“This definitely would help my fan base,” Spence said, “and help me grow as a superstar in the sport.”
It’s certainly a page borrowed from another boxing great and mentor figure to Spence, Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather offered his perspective regarding the potential match-up between Garcia and Spence to Fight Hype.
“You have to respect Mikey Garcia for wanting to test his skills against the best guys out there,” stated Mayweather.
“You can’t fault him [Garcia] for doing it, you can’t overlook Mikey Garcia in a fight with Errol Spence. Errol Spence can fight his ass off, it’s a good match-up. Spence he’s tough, he’s strong, he can bang.”
Aside from Garcia, Spence has other lucrative options on the horizon – his potential Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard.
Spence can potentially face the winner of Danny Garcia 34-1 (20 KO’s) and Shawn Porter 28-2-1 (17 KO’s) as they finally meet in September. Amir Khan 32-4 (20 KO’s) is still a name in the welterweight division and of course there is the ever-elusive Keith Thurman 28-0 (22 KO’s).
The former unified WBC and WBA welterweight champion is still recovering from injury and aims to return at some point in 2018.
A meeting between Spence and Thurman may not take place until 2019 if at all, while another emerging combatant apparently usurped Thurman as far as desired match-ups amongst boxing fans.
The fighter Spence appears fated to face, also drawing comparisons to the legendary Marvelous Marvin Hagler for his switch hitter abilities, overall grit and menacing demeanor, is none other than Terence Crawford 33-0 (24 KO’s).
Crawford is a six-time world champion across three weight classes and like Spence, aims to unify the welterweight division as he did at junior welterweight last year.
Anticipation amongst fans, media and other fighter’s alike continues to build in hopes of witnessing these two prized pugilists meet up in what envisions to be a showdown of epic proportions.
Will Crawford rival Spence as Leonard rivaled Hagler back in the 1970’s and 1980’s?
While that particular plot is yet to be determined, it’ll be interesting watching how the path of Errol Spence continues to unfold.
“I wanna be considered as an all-time great,” says Spence, in reference to his goals as a professional fighter.
“I wanna be mentioned with the likes of ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard, Ali and Ray Robinson, Floyd Mayweather. I wanna be mentioned along with those greats. And I know in order to do that, I have to fight the best fighters out there and keep getting titles. Hopefully, I can be undisputed welterweight champion.”
Like Hagler and other phenomenal fighters of yesteryear, Spence is treading along the same path previously molded before him.
Lamont Roach, Jr. Looks to Extend Unbeaten Streak Friday on ESPN
By: Ken Hissner
Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions is featuring Lamont Roach who not only intends on extending his unbeaten streak to eighteen but to pick up the vacant WBO International Super Featherweight title Friday on ESPN.
Roach, 16-0-1 (6), of Upper Marlboro, MD, is coming off a draw with Orlando Cruz, 25-6-1, in April in Puerto Rico. He will be taking on southpaw Deivi Julio “El Cabo” Bassa, 20-4 (12), of Monteira, Colombia, for the title in a 10 rounder.
Photo Credit: Lamont Roach Jr. Twitter Account
The event will be held at the Grand Oasis Arena, Quintana Roo, Cancun, Mexico. Roach had quite an amateur career with over 100 fights. In 2013 he was the National Golden Gloves and the U.S. National champion. He was a 5-time Ringside World Champion. He is trained by his father, Lamont, Sr. and is attending the University of Maryland, pursing a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Bassa won his first seventeen fights with ten by knockout all in Colombia. Then a losing trip to Japan to Kenji Ogawa, 15-1, who in December fought for the IBF world title. In Bassa’s last fight he scored a knockout win in February in his country of Colombia.
Bassa’s biggest wins were over Franklin Varela, 21-9, in 2013 and Edison Valencia Diaz, 21-12, in 2015, both in Colombia. In 2017 against Neslan Machado, 11-0, it ended in a NC, in making his US debut in Miami, FL.
In the co-feature Junior Featherweight southpaw Alexis Bastar, 10-1-1 (8), of Qunitana Roo, Cancun, MEX, is coming off a win in April. He takes on Rigoberto Nava, 3-2-4 (0), of Mexico City, MEX, who has four draws in his last five fights. This is including a majority decision draw with Bastar in November of 2017.
2012 London Olympics Bronze Medalist and 2014 World Amateur Gold Medalist Flyweight Marlen Esparza, 5-0 (1), of Houston, TX, takes on Debora “La Pantera” Rengifo, 10-5-1 (5), of Caracas, VZ, a two-time world title challenger, over 8×2 rounds.
Middleweight Manuel “El Meno” Gallegos, 11-0 (10), of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, MEX, meets tba over 6 rounds. He is on a three fight knockout streak having last fought in March with all eleven of his fights being in Mexico.
Time for Chris Eubank Jr. to Face Reality
by B.A. Cass
There is a disparity in how Chris Eubank Jr. comports himself outside the ring and how he fights once he is in the ring. In a prefight interview, a cool and collected Eubank Jr. told one interviewer that Groves was “ready to be taken out, man. He doesn’t want to be here. I just sense weakness in him. . . . I was telling him you’re not ready. You’re in serious danger here.” However, on Saturday night at the Manchester Arena, Eubank Jr. proved that he was the one who is not ready. Swinging wildly and often missing, he looked worse than amateur. At least a good amateur has his fundamentals intact.
After listening to Eubank Jr.’s trash talking, it was embarrassing to watch him try to box. There were times when he wound up so hard with his left hook that when he missed Groves, his momentum spun him nearly 180 degrees. He left himself open and vulnerable on many occasions, and he seemed to have absolutely no strategy.
What is truly sad, though, is that Eubank Jr. refuses to see reality. Apparently, he trained himself for the Groves fight, which was the biggest fight of his career. The fact that he does not believe he needs to have a trainer should tell us all we need to know about Eubank Jr. He may have determination and guts, but he doesn’t take boxing seriously. He takes himself seriously—that much is clear—which is exactly why he’s such a joke. Aside from Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Eubank Jr. is boxing’s best-known daddy’s boy. As the son of the great former boxer, Eubank Jr. thinks that just being who he is enough to make him great. It doesn’t.
In his post-fight analysis, Prince Naseem Hamed said, “[Eubank Jr.] is not at this level and he is not such a good fighter that he is making himself out to be. He ain’t going to win unbelievable things. Let’s just talk reality, let’s bring it down to where it really is. Let’s talk the truth right now. Is this guy a world beater? No, he’s not. In three years or four years, he still won’t be.”
Achieving excellence in any sport requires not only discipline and skill but the ability to assess and compensate for deficiencies. Eubank Jr. has potential. Presently, however, he is unwilling to look at his flaws or to surround himself with people who will challenge him to improve. Unless Junior makes some drastic changes, Hamed’s assessment will certainly prove prophetic.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch
WBSS Preview: George Groves vs. Chris Eubank Jr.
By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night in Manchester, an all-British world title fight takes place when WBA super middleweight champion, George Groves 27-3 (20KOs), steps into the ring with IBO belt holder, Chris Eubank Jr 26-1 (20KOs) in the much-anticipated World Boxing Super Series semi-finals.
Both boxers made easy work of their quarterfinal opponents back in October.
At Wembley Arena, ‘Saint’ George Groves knocked out fellow Brit, Jamie Cox in the 4th round with a clinical body shot that kept Cox down for the count and served as Groves’ first defence of his WBA belt, which he won back in April after stopping Fedor Chudinov.
In the pre-fight documentary, still available on the WBSS YouTube channel, Groves said…
‘I don’t like to waste shots so anything I do throw, believe me you’re gonna get hit with it… There’s absolutely nothing there for me to worry about because there’s gaping, gaping holes in that style, in that approach.
He’s a blown-up middleweight who’s come into this tournament to try and build his profile… If he managed to beat me he’ll be the next coming but if he fails he’s gonna have the biggest fall from grace that we’ve had in this country for a long time.’
Away from home and in the heated atmosphere of Stuttgart, Eubank knocked out, walking punchbag Avni Yildrim in the 3rd round of his quarterfinal bout, with a devastating right hook that finished the Turk off, after already forcing his opponent into briefly taking a knee in the first round following an uppercut.
Speaking on his own and his opponent’s capabilities, Chris was in confident mood…
‘It’s more than possible to push through that pain barrier and get up, and I’m sure that he’ll try and use that against me and I’m sure I’ll be prepared for it… It won’t go the 12 rounds, somebody’s getting knocked out. This chin doesn’t have an off button, his does.
I don’t have any hate for the guy, he’s just a guy with a belt that I need to get passed to win the tournament. I keep my emotions out of boxing. It’s nothing personal, it’s just punishment.’
It’s a difficult fight to conclusively call. It could come down to how well Groves weathers the storm in the early rounds and whether his chin holds up as well as it did against Chudinov. Along with being able to slip and counter off the ropes, if Groves is able to fire off the selection of shots we’ve seen in his 6-fight win streak since losing to Badou Jack back in 2015, Eubank will need to do more to protect himself when those huge swinging hooks go amiss.
Eubank may not be pillow-fisted, but he’s lacking that one-punch KO power. Even in his previous bout, the IBO champion constantly landed cleanly throughout the 3 rounds. It’s difficult to envisage a scenario where a seasoned pro like George Groves, gives his semi-final foe so many opportunities to take him out.
The second semi-final takes place next week in Nuremberg as super middle & light heavyweight veteran, Jurgen Braehmer, 49-3 (35KOs) goes up against 23-0 (17KOs) Callum ‘Mundo’ Smith. The winners will progress to a final that’s expected to take place in early June at London’s O2 arena.
On the undercard, and as long as there’s no late injury to either of the main event fighters, WBSS super middleweight injury reserve, Zach Parker, 14-0 (10KOs) will take on 16-6-2 (10KOs), Adasat Rodriguez.
Two British title fights will also be on the undercard as Ryan Walsh takes on unbeaten, Isaac Lowe; and Tommy Langford is up against Jack Arnfield for the middleweight belt.
Both Walsh and Lowe have a mutual opponent on their records in Denis Ceylan who Lowe fought to a disputed draw, in March 2017; Walsh was beaten on a split decision to Ceylan five months earlier.
It’ll be the first time Tommy Langford, 19-1 (6KOs) defends his British title since 2016, after a 1-1 record in 2017. He was comprehensively knocked out by Avtandil Khurtsidze back in April and ended the year with a routine comeback points victory over 11-36-1 Miguel Aguilar. Jack Arnfield is currently on a six-fight win streak including wins over John Ryder, and former junior middleweight world title challenger, Brian Rose.
Chapter Closed Say’s Roy Jones, Jr. in Final Career Win
By: Ken Hissner
Back to where he started in his hometown of Pensacola, FL, at the Bay Center Roy Jones, Jr. ended his career in the one division he didn’t win a title which was cruiserweight.
Jones defeated a game Scott “Cujo” Sigmon easily winning 8 out of the 10 rounds Thursday night before his home crowd. The hand speed was still there as the 49 year-old Jones gave his fans something to cheer about.
Jones won world titles in the middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and even the heavyweight division. He was a modern day throw back to the 50’s when boxers like “Sugar” Ray Robinson dominated his fights.
Jones ended up with a career record of 66-9 (47), for a total of some 75 fights from 1989 to 2018. That’s 29 years of boxing after he was robbed of a Gold Olympic Medal in South Korea in the 1988 Olympics. He came home with a Silver Medal.
Jones defeated such boxers as James “Lights Out” Toney, split with Bernard “The Executioner Hopkins”, won 2 of 3 from Antonio Tarver, Jorge Vaca, Jorge Castro, John “the Quiet Man” Ruiz, Thomas Tate, Vinnie Pazienza, Mike “The Body Snatcher” McCallum, split with Montell Griffin, Reggie Johnson, Otis Grant, Eric Harding, Julio Cesar Gonzalez, Glen Kelly, Clint Woods, Prince Badi Ajamu, Anthony Hanshaw, Felix “Tito” Trinidad, Jeff Lacy, and Bobby Gunn.
Sigmon, 30-11-1 (16), was a good opponent for Jones to show the skills he still has. He once held the WBC USNBC title. He is from Lynchburg, VA.
Jones talked about fighting MMA suspended fighter Anderson Silva. Jones who in the past had played in a semi-pro basketball league prior to games worked the corner prior to his fight Thursday of Ikram Kerwat who outpointed Angel Gladney on the undercard.
Jones has a promotional group called Square One Promotions having put on some 63 events since 2015.
Jones gave a lot to boxing and was appreciated by his many boxing fans all over the world including Russia where he got dual citizenship winning 2 of 4 fights there.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Roy Jones Jr., Khan, Bowe, Kovalev, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of January 30th to February 6th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Roy Jones Junior Quotes for his Last Fight
One of the greatest careers in ring history will come to close this Thursday night, when the legendary Roy Jones Junior competes in his final bout as a professional boxer bout as a professional boxer.
Widely considered one of the very best pound-for-pound fighters of all time Jones, 65-9 (47KOs), competes in cruiserweight (200lbs) bout vs Scott Sigmon, 30-11-1 (16KOs). The 10-rounder serves as the main event to a five fight Island Fights main card which features both boxing and mixed martial arts bouts.
The event will be live-streamed and available on video-on-demand basis exclusively on UFCFIGHTPASS, the UFC’s digital streaming service.
Joining combat sport play-by-play veteran TJ De Santis in the commentator booth will be Jeff Lacy. Known as “Left Hook” during his boxing career, Lacy represented the United States at the 2000 Olympics and went on to win the same IBF super-middleweight title Jones had annexed a decade earlier. Lacy also fought Jones in 2009 (the entire fight is available on UFC FIGHT PASS) and will bring a wealth of knowledge to the event.
ROY JONES JUNIOR FLASH QUOTES:
ON FIGHTING ON UFC FIGHT PASS
“This is the first live boxing on UFC FIGHT PASS. I love being the first to do something, so to be the first boxing event on UFC FIGHT PASS is cool. When I turned pro back in 1989, I said I wanted to bring new audiences boxing and that’s what I tried to do. By having my last night as a fighter on the
UFC’s (streaming service) I’m bringing new eyeballs to boxing and I’m throwing a spotlight on the boxing and MMA fighters who are on the event.
“I’m been a fan of the UFC for years. Me and (UFC President) Dana White have been friends for a long time, since before he even got started with the UFC. We’ve talked about FIGHT PASS showing a fight (of mine) and it has come about perfectly.”
ON HIS FINAL FIGHT
“It feels different. I’m emotional even thinking about how I’m going to feel on the day. I’m almost tearing up talking. I’m worried about how I am going to feel all day of the fight. I may be crying all day – but once I am in the ring I’ll have to put those tears away because there’s gonna be a guy in the other corner looking to beat me. Scott Sigmon won’t care about those tears. He cares about getting the win, that’s the reality.
“I turned professional in May 1989 in this same arena, but I’ve been doing this since 1979. In 39 years there’s not been a single day where I didn’t put on glove, skip, watch tape or spend time thinking about boxing.
“Boxing has been my life and it is my life. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. So much of it is still fresh (in my mind), not one thing but so much jumps out when I look back… representing my country at the Olympics in 1988, becoming a world champion for the first time, becoming the No.1 pound-for-pound vs James Toney, winning the world heavyweight title… like it was all yesterday.”
ON GETTING OLDER
“I’m not sad to get older, we all get old. I had a great prime. I was good in my prime, y’know? I wasn’t surprised that I was getting old, and that my abilities were getting more limited. Everybody knows everybody gets old, but I think some guys really don’t think their body will get old.
“I accepted it. People told me to retire but I knew what I could do and I’ve never let anyone tell me what to do.
“There are things I wanted to accomplish that I knew were no longer within my reach. I love boxing, even out of my prime I love boxing like I did when I was champ. But you can’t go on forever no matter how much you love it. It’s time, I’m ready to say goodbye.”
After MTV Super Fight League Ropes in Fox Networks Group for an Asian Broadcasting Deal
FOX Sports Asia has entered into a brand new one-year exclusive multimedia and broadcastrights agreement for the second season of Super Fight League, the world’s first mixed martial arts tournament, promoted by British businessman and sports enthusiast Bill Dosanjh and British professional boxer Amir Khan on their television and digital platforms in Asia.
Promising reach in more than 500 million homes by broadcasting action pack content, the licensed territories include Brunei, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam . Earlier this year, SFL came to one-year agreement on a broadcasting deal with MTV, Viacom 18 in India to broadcast all matches for season 2 (till 2019)
Having garnered over a whopping 100 million views in 5 years for 67 live televised events, Super Fight League is ranked as the third biggest Mixed Martial Arts brand in the world and second most watched sport in India after cricket apart from being the fastest growing combat sport.The franchise-based league that is being organized in association with the All-India Martial Arts Association (AIMMAA) will entail prize money of INR 4 crores as well as 96 players and 8 teams as listed below –
Bill Dosanjh, CEO & Founder of Super Fight League stated, “We are excited to be partnering with FOX Networks Group, the leading multi-platform entertainment group across the world. This association will further capitalize on our long term vision of taking SFL to different markets. In the next 3 years we would like to take SFL to the Asian markets where MMA is more popular than a sport like cricket and comes second after soccer. The opportunity to have our premier content available in over 500 million homes will immediately accelerate the growth of the SFL brand and the sport of MMA across the region. The emergence of young Indian mixed martial artists coupled with FOX’s marketing muscle and distribution, will allow us to expand our event output beyond India and into the rest of the world in the coming years.”
Brian Sullivan, President of FOX Networks Groupadded, “This new agreement allows us to continue adding value to our uniquely holistic entertainment experience, aiming to suit all our fans’ preferences. We are quite delighted to deliver first class MMA content through our channels and digital platforms. The passion of Asian fans for mixed martial arts makes this category key to our content offering, and we will contribute with our know-how to make the experience of living it in our portfolio unbeatable.”
Elaborating Asian athlete and two-time world champion Amir Khan states, “I think we’ll be considered mainstream just like the NFL and NBA now. To be on the Fox platform, we’re not second class anymore. This new agreement represents a great opportunity and will allow us to attract a new fanbase for the sport where MMA has a strongly established tradition as well as huge potential to gather and galvanize new fans.”
Formed in 2012 by British-Indian entrepreneur and philanthropist, Bill Dosanjh with an intent to give Indian mixed martial artists a platform to compete and hone their talent in their country of origin whilst bringing in talented fighters from different parts of the world, SFL is a revolutionary approach to combat and is the first MMA organization to feature female fighters. MTV SFL 2018 will promote gender equality through a fair and unique platform with women having the same influence on the team as men. The league entails a group ‘A’ and ‘B’, consisting of four teams each. Every team has six players—five male fighters and one female—and six back-ups, belonging to six different weight categories. The teams within the group compete with each other in 12 league-level matches.
The second season of the leading MMA league will be conducted at MTV SFL Arena, Famous Studios, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai from February 9, 2018 to March 17, 2018.
Riddick Bowe to be Special Guest for February 22nd Golden Boy Boxing Card
Former Undisputed Heavyweight World Champion Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe will be the special VIP guest for the Feb. 22 edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif. The highly anticipated headlining matchup will feature 126-pound contender Joseph “JoJo” Diaz, Jr. (25-0, 13 KOs) defending his NABF and NABO Featherweight Titles against former world champion Victor “Vikingo” Terrazas (38-4-2, 21 KOs) in a 10-round fight.
Doors to the Special Events Center open and first fight begins at 5:00 p.m. PT. ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes will transmit the fights beginning at 11:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. PT, and streaming on ESPN3 starting at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT.
A certified Hall of Famer, “Big Daddy” Bowe is known as the only Undisputed Heavyweight World Champion to have earned belts from all four main sanctioning bodies – WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO. The controversial heavyweight faced some of the best fighters of his era, including Andrzej Golota, Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, Jorge Luis Gonzalez, Herbie “Dancing Destroyer” Hide, and Michael “Dynamite” Dokes. Bowe is also one of five former heavyweight champions to have never suffered a stoppage defeat in the span of more than 40 fights in his career. Bowe will be in attendance for this event to meet fans, sign autographs and take pictures inside the Fantasy Springs Special Events Center before the ESPN transmission begins. The meet-and-greet is open to the public with the purchase of a ticket to the event.
Tickets for the event start at $25 and are available at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino box office, by calling 1-800-827-2946, or by purchasing online at www.fantasyspringsresort.com.
Chief support to the main event battle will be knockout artist Vergil Ortiz, Jr. (8-0, 8 KOs), who will participate in the eight-round co-main event for the vacant Junior NABF Super Lightweight Title against the dangerous Jesus “Carambolas” Alvarez (15-3,11 KOs) of Sinaloa, Mexico. Ortiz, Jr. has never heard the final bell of a bout and will be putting his spotless record on the line as he takes a step up in competition and fights for his first regional title.
Lightweight knockout artist Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez (18-1, 15 KOs) will make his highly anticipated ring return over a scheduled eight rounds of action and will kick off the ESPN3 coverage.Gonzalez will face Rey “Flash” Perez (21-9, 6 KOs), a Filipino fighter who now calls Los Angeles home and who was last seen giving Lamont Roach, Jr. trouble in the main event of the Nov. 30 edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN.
Manny “Chato” Robles III (14-0, 6 KOs), who is trained by his world-renowned father, Manny Robles, Jr., will participate in an eight-round featherweight affair. Power punching prospect Edgar “Kid Neza” Valerio (10-0, 7 KOs) of Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl by way of South Central, Los Angeles, Calif. will participate in an eight-round battle in the 126-pound division.
San Diego’s Genaro “El Conde” Gamez (6-0, 4 KOs) will participate in an eight-round lightweight fight, and Hector “El Finito” Tanajara, Jr. (11-0, 4 KOs) of San Antonio, Texas will open up the stacked card at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in a scheduled eight-round super featherweight fight.
Opponents for all these exciting prospects will be announced shortly.
AIBA Releases Progress Report on Governance
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board decided to maintain the financial suspension of AIBA and demanded a new report on AIBA governance by April 30th . This decision was made despite AIBA’s fulfilment of the IOC’s request to submit a Progress Report outlining all steps AIBA was asked to take and continues to take to improve its governance. To access the full AIBA Progress Report, please see the AIBA website.
This decision is extremely disappointing for AIBA as it hoped the IOC Executive Board would have understood that the processes necessary to implement even more measures require more time and that the positive steps already taken in recent times are evidence of AIBA’s strong efforts and willingness to reform.
Over the next six months AIBA will be in the process of a complete organisational review, which will lead to the ‘New Foundation Plan’ for AIBA. This plan and the recommendations produced will be discussed during the AIBA Executive Committee meeting in July and an update will be provided to the IOC in the requested April 30th report.
In the meantime, AIBA will continue its efforts to convince the IOC of its determination to not repeat any of the past mistakes and its commitment to a fresh, positive future centered on good governance and sound management.
Tickets on Sale for Kovalev vs. Mikhalkin
Tickets are on sale for the upcoming showdown between two-time Light Heavyweight World Champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KOs) versus Igor Mikhalkin (21-1, 9 KOs) and WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) versus Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KOs), which takes place on Saturday, March 3 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Tickets for this exciting event are priced from $50 to $300 and are available through ticketmaster.com and the Madison Square Garden box office.
Promoted by Main Events, Krusher Promotions and World of Boxing in association with EC Box Promotions, the event will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:05 p.m. ET/PT.
About March 3: The Saturday, March 3 main event between Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and Igor Mikhalkin is a 12-round match-up for the WBO Light Heavyweight World Title at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The co-main event features WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion Dmitry Bivol versus Sullivan Barrera in a 12-round title fight. The event is promoted by Main Events, Krusher Promotions and World of Boxing in association with EC Box Promotions and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing®. Tickets range from $50 to $300 and will be available through TicketMaster.com, the Madison Square Garden Box office and the Main Events office by calling 973-200-7050 or emailing [email protected]
Will Roy Jones, Jr. Keep to His Word Thursday in His Last Fight?
By: Ken Hissner
How many boxers have “retired” only to unretired again? Will Roy Jones, Jr. be one of them? He boxes Thursday in his hometown of Pensacola, FL, against Scott Sigmon, 30-11-1 (16), from Lynchburg, VA.
Jones has been middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight champion. This fight he will fight at cruiserweight. He is also a promoter of fights with Square One Promotions.
Jones won his first 34 fights before knocking down Montell Griffin and hitting him while down losing on DQ. In his next fight he knocked out Griffin on the first round.
Like too many boxers he gave Bernard Hopkins a rematch and got beat. Hopkins gave him a good fight in their first match. Hopkins is also older than Roy by about a year.
Jones started boxing after a controversial loss in the 2008 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He won his first 4 fights, 1 by KO and 3 by 5-0 decisions. He lost in the final to a South Korean 3-2. The decision was so bad he still won the Val Barker Award for the most outstanding boxer at the Olympics.
He turned professional the following year in his hometown of Pensacola where he plans to box and retire Thursday. Let’s hope he is a man of his word. His overall record until this match is 65-9 (47) and stopped 5 times. This will be his 75th fight and let’s hope his last. As a ringside commentator he is fine. Stay there Roy!
Jones has given many a good fighter their first loss such as James Toney 44-0-2, Glenn Thomas 24-0, Bryant Brannon 16-0, Montell Griffin 27-0, Eric Harding 19-0-1, Julio Cesar Gonzalez, 27-0, Glen Kelly 28-0-1, Anthony Hanshaw, 21-0-1, Pawel Glazewski 17-0 and Vyron Phillips 6-0 as an amateur making his debut.
Jones first title win was for the WBC Continental Americas Super Middleweight title in 1992 stopping Percy Harris, 15-3, at the Taj Mahal, in Atlantic City, NJ. In 1993 he won the vacant IBF Middleweight title defeating Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, 22-1, at RFK Stadium, in Washington, DC. He defended it 7 times. In 1996 he won the interim light heavyweight title defeating Mike “The Body Snatcher” McCallum, 49-3-1, at the Ice Palace, in Tampa, FL. After losing to Griffin he came back in his next fight winning the WBC World Light Heavyweight title from Griffin, then 27-0, at the Foxwoods Resorts, in Mashantucket, CT.
In the next fight Jones knocked out former IBF & WBA Light Heavyweight champion Virgil Hill, 43-2, at the Coast Coliseum, in Biloxi, MS, in 1998. He defended it at that weight 11 times. Prior to the 11th time he won the WBA Heavyweight title defeating John Ruiz, 38-4-1, at the Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas, NV, in 2003.
After Jones 12th defense over Antonio Tarver, 21-2, the roof fell in for him in back to back fights being knocked out by Glen Johnson, 40-9-2 and in a rematch with Tarver along with a decision to Tarver.
Jones would go onto win 3 fights in a row before Joe Calzaghe, 45-0, made his second straight US fight defeating Jones. It would be Calzaghe’s final fight of his career due to bad hands.
Two wins later would become 3 straight defeats starting with Danny Green in 1 round. Then losing a rematch with Hopkins and making a trip to Russia being knocked out by Denis Lebedev.
Jones would return to the US and in 2011win the UBO Inter Continental Cruiserweight title defeating Max Alexander, 14-5-2, at the Civic Center in Atlanta, GA.
In 2013 Jones would win the vacant World Boxing Union Cruiserweight title (German Version) in Russia, which is the same title he is fighting Sigmon for Thursday. He defended it 3 times after defeating Zine Eddine Benmakhlouf, 17-3-1. Jones would fight 4 times in Russia going 2-2 and becoming a dual citizen there.
In 2015 on his final bout in Russia he was knocked out by former WBO Cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli, 40-7, whose traine was Calzaghe’s father. He would go onto win his next 3 fights and that brings us to Sigmon. This writer attended his last fight in Wilmington, DE, defeating the King of Bare Knuckle Boxing Bobby Gunn before a packed Chase Center for the vacant World Boxing Foundation World Cruiserweight title in 2017.
But like too many boxers “never say never” if this will be the last farewell fight for Roy Jones, Jr.