Eddie Hearn: “There’s Still A Very Strong Chance That AJ Will Have To Fight Behind Closed Doors”
By: Hans Themistode
2020 has become an absolute crap shoot.
The year started off with such promise as big time matchups between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury led the way. But with COVID-19 turning the boxing world upside down, notable fighters have seen their once busy schedule dwindle down considerably.
For unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in particular, his schedule has been nonexistent.
With a win over Andy Ruiz Jr. to take back the titles that were ripped away from his broad shoulders in late 2019, Joshua was set to return in mid 2020 in a mandatory title defense against number one contender Kubrat Pulev. Assuming Joshua made it out of that contest in one piece, a date with WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk awaited him. From there, a matchup with Tyson Fury would be next on the docket.
Yet, before boxing fans can wipe the drool from the side of their mouths as they envision those future matchups, Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) must first make his 2020 debut. Unfortunately for the British born champion however, the lack of a live audience has made his return an arduous question to answer.
“We know AJ’s only going to fight once this year,” said promoter Eddie Hearn to ESPN. “We want to give ourselves the best opportunity to bring in a crowd, and obviously the later the better. But it’s still not a gimme at all. There’s still a very strong chance that AJ will have to fight behind closed doors.”
Throwing punches inside of an empty arena will be much different for a man who has grown accustomed to doing so in front of thousands of screaming British fans. The O2 arena in Liverpool, England has become the 30 year old Joshua’s home away from home. But even with countless knockouts inside of that aforementioned venue, it doesn’t seem likely that Joshua will be making a trip there for his matchup with Pulev.
“Their regulations comply with the government, so at the moment they’re closed,” explained Hearn. “So they would need to open up. We’d need to get an understanding from the government what is allowed in arenas. Are you going to open at 50 per cent [capacity]? Are you going to open up 100 per cent? There’s a lot of work that has to go into that with the government and The O2.”
Fight Camp: Something New And Old
By: Hans Themistode
Dark lighting and empty seats inside of boxing venues have quickly become the new norm.
Just three months ago, the sport of boxing was put on a COVID-19 induced hiatus. Pugilism was replaced with soap operas and old television shows from the 90s. While they were appreciated, boxing was sorely missed.
The thought of the sport returning sometime this year seemed far fetched with the deadly virus refusing to slow down. Despite that, promoter Bob Arum and his Top Rank stable set in place the guidelines that would allow them to come back. That they did, but things looked and felt vastly different.
There were no more obnoxious fans caught on camera giving the middle finger, nor were there any that stood on their feet whenever a big shot landed. No, they were substituted for blacked out backgrounds or in other cases, old fight posters.
For the most part, fans didn’t seem to care. Fights were back on the big screen and that’s all that mattered. Nevertheless, promoter Eddie Hearn couldn’t stand it. Matchroom Boxing’s head man took notes and began putting the pieces in place to return his fighters to the new COVID-19 boxing world.
This global pandemic may have placed a hinderance on much of the sport, but for Hearn, he used it to his advantage. And with that being said, “Fight Camp” was born.
First thing in the morning, Hearn would stretch out and be awoken, not by the sound of birds chirping, but by the sounds of bodies hitting the canvas as he built an entire arena in the backyard of his once childhood home turned Matchroom headquarters.
Headlining the first event of his outdoor venture would be a pair of fringe 154 pound contenders in Sam Eggington and Ted Cheeseman. Other than the obvious egg and cheese breakfast joke’s that were told at nausea, both fighters put on an eye pleasing show. In between watching fists fly through the night, green grass and Matchroom employees could be seen in the background.
Hearn’s plan is creative, but not unseen throughout boxing history. Fights have always been done in this way. Friends would gather around a pair of pissed off young adults and watch them settle their differences in a bloody way behind the home of a close friend. Whether you get your ass kicked in the most embarrassing way, or you walked away as the winner, backyard fights have always been a part of both pugilism and fighting history. The StubHub arena in Carson California, has been the home to outdoor boxing events on the west coast for decades. But despite the long outdoor boxing history, nothing has ever been done quite in this way.
“Fight Camp” is essentially Eddie Hearn’s professional backyard brawls. For the entire month of August and possibly even longer, Matchroom’s head man will continue to host events there. His vision has become a reality, and although he expressed extreme satisfaction with his first event, the jury is still out on whether or not fans of the sport are completely receptive to his idea.
MatchRoom Boxing Results: Ted Cheeseman Squeezes By Sam Eggington
Both Sam Eggington (28-7, 17 KOs) and Ted Cheeseman (16-2-1, 9 KOs) were given boxing’s spotlight as they headlined Matchroom boxing’s Fight Camp.
With a loss in his last ring appearance, Cheeseman couldn’t afford to pick up another. The British born 154 pound contender came out strong to kick off his night. He landed big shots to start off their contest and imposed his will early on.
Eggington however, did not fold under pressure and weathered the early storm. He stumbled across the ring on several occasions but found a way to stay composed. That in turn, helped him turn things around during the second half of the contest which he thoroughly dominated.
Despite that, his late surge wasn’t enough as he lost a clear decision. The final scorecards after 12 rounds of action were as followed: 115-114 and two scores of 116-113 all in favor of Cheeseman.
MatchRoom Boxing Results: Fabio Wardley Picks Up Stoppage Win Against Simon Vallily
With the English heavyweight title up for grabs, Fabio Wardley (9-0, 8 KOs) didn’t come to play around. Simon Vallily (17-3-1, 7 KOs) came into this matchup with four straight victories in his back pocket. However, he seemed ill-equipped to deal with his opponent on the night.
With two one sided rounds already in his favor, Wardley came out in the third ready to close the show. He did exactly that as he landed a left hook that sent his man flying into the ropes. From there, it was target practice for Wardley as he unloaded power shots until the referee stepped in.
MatchRoom Boxing Results: James Tennyson Gets Rid of Gavin Gwynne in The Sixth
Lightweight contender James Tennyson (27-3, 23 KOs) made it five knockouts in a row as he took care of business against Gavin Gwynne (12-2, 2 KOs).
The British born contenders battled it out in the co main event at Matchroom’s Fight Camp. With two wins on the record of Gwynne by stoppage, Tennyson walked straight ahead with no fear. He landed huge shots on the chin of his opponent and watched him crumble.
An early exchange forced Gwynne to drop down to a knee. He managed to pull himself together, but not for long. Tennyson continued the onslaught until the referee was given no other choice but to end their contest in the sixth round.
Dillian Whyte vs Alexander Povetkin Headline August Summer Schedule For Matchroom’s “Fight Camp”
By: Hans Themistode
Promoter Eddie Hearn has sat back and watched from the sidelines long enough.
Together with Matchroom promotions, they have announced the release of their August schedule. Much like promoter Bob Arum and his unique Top Rank “Summer Series,” which airs shows a minimum of twice per week, Hearn has created something different as well.
Unlike other boxing events, Fight Camp will not take place inside of an empty arena, instead, fights will be staged in Brentwood, Essex in the United Kingdom, at the Matchroom headquarters.
Hearn has spent several months renovating the area and it appears he is now ready to host live boxing events.
Headlining the first card which will take place on August 1st, will be Jr Middleweight contender Sam Eggington as he takes on Ted Cheeseman. Also on the card will be James Tennyson as he looks to take out Gavin Gwynne. Details for the entire card can be found below.
–Sam Eggington (28-6, 17 KOs) vs Ted Cheeseman (15-2-1, 9 KOs)
-James Tennyson (26-3, 22 KOs) vs Gavin Gwynne (12-1, 2 KOs)
-Jordan Gill (24-1 KOs) vs Reece Bellotti (14-3, 12 KOs)
–Fabio Wardley (8-0, KOs) vs Simon Vallily (17-2-1, KOs)
–Dalton Smith (5-0, 4 KOs) vs Nathan Bennett (9-1, 2 KOs)
“Eddie Hearn has supplied a sizzling summer schedule in August,” said head of boxing development for Sky Sports Adam Smith. “Starting with three Sky Sports shows packed with British talent. Sam Eggington against Ted Cheeseman should be a classic clash, while the exciting trio of Jordan Gill, Fabio Wardley and Dalton Smith will be eager to impress.”
Next up for the second week of “Fight Camp” will be WBC and IBO super featherweight champion Terri Harper as she places her titles on the lines against Natasha Jones. Also putting their undefeated records on the line will be a trio of prospects in Nathan Thorley, Aqib Fiaz and Hopey Price. Checkout who they’ll be taking on along with the entire night of action below.
–Terri Harper (10-0, 5 KOs) vs Natasha Jones (9-1, 7 KOs)
–Chris Billam-Smith (10-1, 9 KOs) vs Nathan Thorley (14-0, 6 KOs)
–Anthony Fowler (12-1, 9 KOs) vs Adam Harper (9-1)
–Aqib Fiaz (5-0) vs Kane Baker (13-6)
–Hopey Price (2-0, 1 KO) vs TBA
“Terri Harper has already endeared herself to fight fans with her remarkable success story,” said Smith “But Natasha Jones is a genuine threat as we return to Matchroom HQ with a high-class World Title fight. Anthony Fowler and Chris Billam-Smith have big ambitions and cannot afford slip-ups on the same bill.”
Felix Cash grabs week three by the horns when he main events against Jason Welborn. Zelfa Barrett on the other hand, hopes to make it five wins in a row when he takes on Eric Donovan. The full line up of week three can be found by scrolling below.
–Felix Cash (12-0, 8 KOs) vs Jason Welborn (24-8, 7 KOs)
–Zelfa Barrett (23-1, 14 KOs) vs Eric Donovan (12-0, 8 KOs)
–Kieron Conway (14-1-1, 3 KOs) vs Navid Mansouri (20-3-2, 6 KOs)
–Shannon Courtenay (5-0, 2 KOs) vs Rachel Ball (5-1)
-John Docherty (8-0, 6 KOs) vs TBA
“Felix Cash defends his Commonwealth belt against the dangerous Jason Welborn on our third action-packed show. We’ll get another chance to see Shannon Courtenay in action – she is a rising talent with an entertaining style – and it’s a perfect platform for Kieron Conway and Zelfa Barrett to showcase their skills.”
The previous three shows will bring us to what “Fight Camp” is considering their biggest show of them all. WBC Interim heavyweight titlist Dillian Whyte hopes to knock off another big name when he takes on Alexander Povetkin. The former gold medal winner is fresh off a split decision draw in his last contest against Michael Hunter, and at the soon to be age of 41, time isn’t on his side if he hopes to gain a third crack at a world title.
In addition to the main event, undisputed Lightweight world champion Katie Taylor returns against an opponent yet to be named. Her original opponent, seven division world champion Amanda Serrano, opted against facing Taylor for financial reasons amongst many.
Check out below for the full line up of Fight Camp week four.
–Dillian Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs) vs Alexander Povetkin (35-2-1, 24 KOs)
–Martin Bakole (15-1) v. Sergey Kuzmin (15-1)
–Luther Clay (13-1) v. Chris Kongo (11-0)
–Katie Taylor (15-0, 6 KOs) vs TBA
“Fight Camp ends with fireworks as Dillian Whyte risks his World Title ambitions against the big-hitting Alexander Povetkin, live on Sky Sports Box Office. Katie Taylor can cement her status as one of the sport’s finest fighters when she returns to action on another fantastic bill. We’re back with a red-hot line-up of live boxing!”
Fans hoping to catch the event can tune into Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN for those who are based in the US.
What’s Next For Mikey Garcia?
By: Hans Themistode
Coming into his Welterweight showdown against Jessie Vargas, Mikey Garcia was tasked with what many could consider the biggest fight of his career. It isn’t because Vargas is the most accomplished or the most dangerous, but more so because of what took place one short year ago.
For the first time in the career of Garcia he tasted defeat at the hands of current unified Welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. Garcia didn’t just lose, but he was thoroughly dominated. For as great as Garcia is, the Welterweight division just seemed like it was too much for him.
Everyone who doubted his decision to remain at the weight class was quickly proven wrong as he made it look easy against former two division world champion Jessie Vargas. Now that Garcia has proven that he has what it takes to contend with the big boys of the division, who should he take on next? Keep reading to find out.
If it seems as though a contest between Manny Pacquiao and Mikey Garcia has been discussed for years, that’s because it has. The two pound-for-pound stars have always hovered around the same weight class but a contest between them has never been seriously in negotiations. Now that they are officially in the same weight class, a match between them seems inevitable. Following Garcia’s win over Vargas, he wasted little time calling out the future hall of famer. “I think I’m ready to get back in with the best. I want Manny Pacquiao.”
At this point, what are we waiting for? Let’s make the fight happen.
A Garcia vs Garcia match might be a bit confusing during the promotion, but in the ring, it should provide fans with a great contest. Even with his big win against Vargas, there are some that are still skeptical on whether or not Mikey is a big time player in the Welterweight division. If he wants to end all doubts, then a fight against former two division world champion Danny Garcia would go a long way towards that.
At the moment, both Mikey and Danny are in consideration for a bout against Manny Pacquiao. If neither one is chosen then they should turn their attention towards one another.
Unlike most of the top Welterweights, Mikey Garcia has no contractual obligations with anyone. In essence, he’s a free agent. He can fight whomever he wants, whenever he wants without nagging promotional issues.
For years WBO Welterweight titlist Terence Crawford has been considered the best fighter in the world, but his resume leaves much to be desired. During Garcia’s post fight presser, he did mention an interest in taking on Crawford. If this is the truth, then Crawford should jump at the opportunity to face a legit fighter for a change.
Kell Brook is Back by Scoring a Knockout over Mark DeLuca in the Seventh Round
By Rich Lopez
Boxing was back in Sheffield, England and it marked the return of former welterweight champion Kell Brook. The main event and a four fight undercard was streamed on DAZN and promoted by Matchroom Boxing. After a fourteen month layoff and now campaigning in the super welterweight division, Brook gave his fans a warm welcoming.
In the main event, Kell “Special K” Brook (38-9, 27 KO’s) of Sheffield, England stopped Mark “The Bazooka” DeLuca (24-2, 13 KO’s) of Quincy, Massachusetts, in the seventh round. It has been a long layoff for Brook and it was apparent in the first round. Both fighters felt each other out. Brook was coming forward and studying his opponent, while DeLuca was looking to counter punch. The action picked up in round two. Brook started to let his hands go and landed a few straight punches to the head of DeLuca. Finally after shaking the rust off, Brook got going in the third round. Brook landed a right hand that hurt DeLuca. Brook then landed a right hook and a left hook that dropped DeLuca. A bloodied DeLuca got up and finished the round. DeLuca, who is an ex-Marine, was tough as they come. He stayed strong and was fighting hard in the fourth round. Brook took his time but then landed a flurry of punches to the head of Deluca. Brook continued working combinations to the head of DeLuca in round five. DeLuca at times would land a nice body shot on Brook but he was more on the defensive. In round six, Brook sensing his man was wearing out, landed a barrage of punches on DeLuca. In round seven, Brook landed a hard right hand that hurt DeLuca. DeLuca decided to trade with Brook. As the fighters exchanged punches, Brook landed a stiff left jab that connected and dropped DeLuca. DeLuca was on his back and then started to get up slowly. However, the ref counted him out and the time of the stoppage was 1:15 of the seventh round.
Brook got the win and the knockout he was looking for. It remains to be seen how far he will go in the super welterweight division. He is aiming for a world title shot and his chances are good. As of now, the super welterweight has good talented fighters and there is no lineal champion as of yet. Brook’s comeback win today will put him in the mix with fighters such as Jeison Rosario, Jarrett Hurd, and Jermell Charlo.
In the co-feature, the WBC World Female Super Featherweight Championship changed hands. Local favorite Terri Harper (10-0, 5 KO’s) of Yorkshire, England earned a ten round unanimous decision and dethroned Eva Wahlstrom (23-2-2, 3 KO’s) of Finland. The first round was a feel out for both fighters. Harper seemed to edge the round by being a little busier of the two fighters. Wahlstrom came forward in round two but she was being out boxed by Harper. Round three was closer as Wahlstrom got in the inside and landed a right hand followed by a left hook on the chin of Harper. Wahlstrom got busier in rounds four and five. She did a better job of timing Harper with good counter right hands. In round six, Wahlstrom connected with a good right hook in the inside and was getting the better of the exchanges. After six rounds, the fight was even but then Harper stepped it up. In round seven, Harper dropped Wahlstromwith a quick right hand that caused a flash knockdown.Wahlstrom got up and decided to trade with Harper but was being outgunned. Towards the end of round eight, Harper landed a huge left hook that hurt Wahlstrom. At this point, Harper took over the fight. She decided to move and outbox Wahlstrom in rounds nine and the final tenth round. Harper was the winner after ten rounds with scores of 98-91 and 99-90 (twice).
Harper just added herself as one of the top female fighters by winning the WBC World Female Super Featherweight Title.
In an IBF Featherweight Title Eliminator bout, Kid Galahad (27-1, 16 KO’s) of Sheffield, England impressively stopped Claudio“The Matrix” Marrero (24-4, 17 KO’s) of the DominicanRepublic, in the eighth round. Galahad got to a good start immediately in the opening round. He was the busier of the two fighters and landed quick punches to the head of Marrero. In round two, Marrero started the round fast throwing a flurry of punches to the body of Galahad. In an exchange, both fighters landed hooks on each other. Galahad finished the round strong. Galahad was sticking and moving and landed straight punches to the head of Marrero in round three. Marrero picked up the pace in round four. He backed up Galahad with a good right hand. Galahad would once again finish the round strong. In rounds five and six, Marrero was looking frustrated as he could not land any good shots on the elusive Galahad. Galahad showed good speed and movement. In round seven, Marrero was stunned by a right hand from Galahad. Marrero was looking more tired and he was bleeding from his nose. Marrero took more of a beating in round eight as Galahad was landing hard punches at will. When the round ended, the corner of Marrero saw enough and made a decision to stop the fight.
Galahad’s only blemish on his record was to IBF Featherweight champion Josh Warrington in close contest. With this win, Galahad once again earns another title shot against IBF champion Josh Warrington. Expect a rematch soon between those two fighters.
In a six round heavyweight bout, David “White Rhino” Allen (18-5-2, 15 KO’s) of Doncaster, England, stopped Dorian Darch(12-12-1, 1 KO) of Aberdare, England, in the third round. Allen started the opening round coming forward with hands down and switching stances. Neither fighter did much in the round. In round two, Allen invited Darch to stand and trade with him but there was not much action going on in the round. Allen finally decided to let his hands go in round three. Allen wobbled Darchwith a left hook. Allen then landed a few body shots that dropped Darch. Darch got up but then went down again with head shots from Allen. Darch stayed down and did not want anymore. The time of stoppage was 53 seconds of the third round.
The opening bout of the telecast was a ten round super featherweight bout. Martin “Wardy” Ward (24-1-2, 11 KO’s) of Leeds, England, outworked Jesus Amparan (16-1, 14 KO’s) of Mexico, to earn a ten round unanimous decision. The best round for Amparan was the opening round. As Ward focused on boxing and moving, he was caught by a right hand from Amparan that staggered him. Ward grabbed Amparan and backpedaled the remaining round. After regaining his composure, Ward put on a boxing exhibition for the remainder of the fight. In rounds two and three, Ward boxed well moving side to side. Ward was teeing off on Amparan with straight right hands and uppercuts. Amparan picked up his pace in rounds four and five, but was too slow for the quicker Ward. Amparanlooked more frustrated in round six as Ward continued to counter punch him effectively. Ward dropped Amparan in round seven with a straight right hand to the body. Amparan got up and Ward went back to the body. From rounds eight to ten, Ward went back to boxing and focused on his counter punching. The tough Mexican hung in tough but was outclassed. The referee scored the fight a shut out with a score of 100-88 for Ward.
Alexander Besputin Defeats Radzhab Butaev, Braekhus Dominates Victoria Noelia Bustos
By Rich Lopez
Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing hosted a card at the Casino de Monte Carlo Salle Medecin, in Monaco, Monte Carlo. The card was streamed on DAZN and it featured a pair of undefeated Russian welterweights fighting for a vacant world title. In addition, the world’s best female fighter Cecilia Braekhus was in action and other undefeated fighters were featured.
Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account
The main event was for the vacant WBA Welterweight title in a battle of undefeated Russians. Alexander Besputin (13-0, 9 KO’s) scored a twelve round unanimous decision over Radzhab Butaev (12-0, 9 KO’s) to win the WBA title. The shorter fighter Besputin used his quickness and his movement to have success against the taller Butaev. From rounds 1-2, Besputin displayed his speed and movement, using different angles to confuse the aggressive Butaev. The southpaw, Besputin, was also landing straight left hands to the head of Butaev and was also effective going to the body. In round three, there was good action from both fighters. Overall Besputin was making Butaev miss punches. Both fighters had good exchanges in round four, with Butaev getting the better of them. In round five, Besputin started the round good but then Butaev landed a right hook that staggered Besputin. Butaev landed a few more shots but Besputin survived the round. Besputin got back into his groove and started to show his effective footwork and speed to confuse Butaev in rounds six, seven, and eight. Butaev kept making the mistake of following Besputin around but not cutting off the ring or letting his hands go. In round nine, Butaev did have a good comeback round and finally got busy. Butaev trapped Besputin on the ropes and both guys traded punches with Butaev getting the better of exchanges. Once again Besputin regrouped and went back to work. He out boxed the taller Butaev in rounds ten and eleven. Butaev was getting tagged a lot but showed a good chin. In the final round, Butaev came out hard and went for the knockout but could not do it. All three judges scored 116-112 for Besputin.
Alexander Besputin is now the WBA world champion in the super talented welterweight division. Besputin looked good and showcased great boxing ability. Let’s see how his career progresses going forward in the welterweight division.
The co-feature was in the women’s welterweight division. Cecilia “First Lady” Braekhus (35-0, 9 KO’s) of Norway, made her return to the ring. Braekhus scored a ten round unanimous decision over Victoria Noelia Bustos (19-5) of Argentina. In typical Braekhus fashion, she starting boxing well and utilizing her jab in the first round. Then she started to nail Bustos with right hands. Braekhus continued to outbox Bustos in round two. In round three, Bustos made a good attempt to get in the inside of Braekhus but Braekhus used her reach and speed to offset Bustos. In rounds four and five, Braekhus continued to clearly outbox and outwork the shorter Bustos. In round six, Braekhus landed a left hook that dropped Bustos and was clearly a knockdown. However, the ref ruled it a slip. Braekhus went back to work in the seventh round. She kept popping Bustos with left jabs and right hands. Bustos increased the pressure in round eight and even managed to land a good right hook on Braekhus. In round nine, Bustos had a little better success with her nonstop pressure but Braekhus kept her distance well. In the final round, Braekhus closed the show with good body movements and landing good counter shots. It was a good effort by Bustos but she was outclassed by the superior Braekhus. The judges scores were 98-92 (twice) and 99-91 all for Braekhus.
The long reigning champion Braekhus can simply hang up the gloves with an undefeated record. However the best female fighter in the world wants to keep fighting on. Who can beat her? I think the next challenge for her would be a fight against WBO Super Lightweight champion Katie Taylor. That’s if Taylor decides to move up in weight.
In a competitive super featherweight fight, undefeated Welshman Joe Cordina (10-0, 7 KO’s) scored a ten round unanimous decision over Mexico’s Mario Tinoco (18-5-4, 13 KO’s). From the opening round, Cordina showed his speed and boxed well. Every time Tinoco got close, Cordina would clinch in the inside. Round two was a good round for Tinoco as he was able to get inside and land body punches. In rounds three and four, Tinoco had some moments landing effective body punches but was being outworked by Cordina. In round five, Cordina had a dominating round by connecting hard right hands on Tinoco. Tinoco came back in round six as he got close landing hook shots to the body and head of Cordina. Round seven was a good round for Cordina as he went back to moving and boxing. Tinoco could not be counted out and had a good eighth round. Tinoco now started throwing jabs that were jolting the head of Cordina. Both men had good exchanges in the round. Round nine was another good round with punches exchanged from both fighters. Both fighters battled to the end in round ten to close the show. At the end, Cordina won by scores of 98-92, and 96-94 (twice). The 96-94 scorecards were right but the 98-92 scorecard was a little too wide. It was a good battle, with Cordina winning the fight by being more effective with cleaner punching.
By winning, Cordina won the vacant WBA Continental Super Featherweight Title and he looks to be a top contender to look out for.
In heavyweight action, undefeated Zhilei “Big Bang” Zhang (20-0, 16 KO’s) of China, scored a ten round unanimous decision over Andriy Rudenko (32-4, 20 KO’s) of Ukraine. In rounds one and two, the taller Zhang used his distance well. Zhang was landing straight left hands on the head of Rudenko. In round three, Rudenko finally landed some good counter shots while he was against the ropes. Zhang turned this around and landed a right hand on the temple of Rudenko that stunned him. Zhang landed a few more punches that backed up Rudenko against the ropes. However, Rudenko managed to survive the round. From rounds 4-6, Zhang was slowing down but did enough to win the rounds and Rudenko could not close the gap. In round seven, Rudenko landed hard right hands that backed up a very fatigued Zhang. From rounds 8-10, both men were tired and slow, which did not generate any action. Zhang landed some left hands to the body and head of Rudenko in the closing rounds. Zhang won by scores of 99-91, 98-92, and 97-93.
This was the first time that Zhang went past six rounds in a fight and it showed as he was completely tired in the late rounds. Also the year layoff did not help Zhang either. This was a step up in competition for Zhang and he passed it but not too impressive. Hopefully Zhang stays more active if he wants to be considered the Big Bang in the heavyweight division.
In the opening bout of the DAZN card, undefeated Thulasi Tharumalingham (6-0, 4 KO’s) of Germany, won an unpopular six round unanimous decision over Alexander Benidze (13-27-3, 6 KO’s) of Georgia. The opening round started well for Thulasi. He moved around and boxed well while Benidze came forward but could not land any punches. This all changed in the second round. Benidze caught Thulasi with a right hand that dropped him. Thulasi was caught with his hands down and he paid the price. Thulasi got up and finished the round. Benidze continued his assault in round three. He landed more right hands that dazed Thulasi. In round four, Benidze continued to outwork Thulasi and was mixing his attack to the body as well. In round five, some tape got loose on the gloves of Thulasi. Thulasi immediately took a knee to signal to the ref that his tape was loose. Benidze still had a great round and Thulasi’s defense was poor as he always kept his hands down. Thulasi tried to finish the round strong letting his hands go but it seemed a little too late. However, Thulasi got lucky and won a unanimous decision by scores of 58-55, 57-56 (twice). It was a terrible decision and Benidze was robbed of victory.
Besputin vs. Butaev and Cecilia Braekhus Fight Previews
By Rich Lopez
Boxing action will pick up right after Thanksgiving and DAZN will have a live card in store on Saturday. Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing will host a card at the Casino de Monte Carlo Salle Medecin, in Monaco, Monte Carlo. The fight card will feature a pair of undefeated welterweights fighting for a vacant title. In addition, the world’s best female fighter Cecilia Braekhus is back, Hughie Fury returns, and other undefeated prospects will be featured.
Photo Credit: WBA Boxing Twitter Account
The main event will be for the vacant WBA Welterweight title and it will be a battle of the undefeated Russians. Radzhab Butaev (12-0, 9 KO’s) will face off with Alexander Besputin (13-0, 9 KO’s). Radzhab “The Python” Butaev, who now fights out of Brooklyn, New York was an outstanding amateur with a reported record of 453-9. He started as a professional in 2016 and the 25 year old has climbed up the rankings rapidly. Within the last year, he has beaten fighters such as: Ramses Agaton, Lanardo Tyner, and Silverio Ortiz. Butaev has punching power and always looks for the knockout. His opponent, Alexander Besputin was an outstanding amateur as well with a reported record of 300-15. He started professional in 2015 and has been fighting out of Oxnard, California.
Besputin has climbed the rankings quick and has beaten fighters such as: Juan Carlos Abreu, Saul Corral, and Breidis Prescott. The 28 year old southpaw also has power and looks for the knockout. As you can see both fighters are nearly identical which makes for a good pick’em fight. Manny Pacquiao is the “Super” WBA World Welterweight Champion and the two Russians are fighting for the regular WBA Welterweight title. Yes the belt situation does not make any sense. However, we should look at the Butaev vs Besputin fight as an exciting fight between two upcoming stars in the welterweight division.
The co-feature will showcase the return of Cecilia “First Lady” Braekhus, who is considered the world’s best female fighter today. Why is she the best female fighter? Braekhus (35-0, 9 KO’s) of Norway, has been boxing professionally for twelve years and has been a world champion for ten of those years. She won the vacant WBC and WBA World Female Welterweight titles in 2009 by defeating Vinni Skovgaard. Then she won the WBO title in 2010 by defeating Victoria Cisneros. Later on she became the undisputed champion when she added the IBF title in 2014 by defeating Ivana Habazin. To sum it up, she has made 22 defenses of the WBA title, 23 defenses of the WBC title, 20 defenses of the WBO title, and 8 defenses of the IBF title. More than half of her pro fights were championship fights and she is not stopping yet. Braekhus is also considered one of the best technical fighters in women’s boxing. Braekhus has been off almost for a whole year since her last fight on HBO’s final telecast. The 38 year old will be taking on Victoria Noelia Bustos (19-5) of Argentina. Bustos will try to pull the upset but will be at a disadvantage as she is moving up from the super lightweight to the welterweight division. Bustos most recently lost to Katie Taylor last year but bounced back with a win back in December of 2018.
Also on the undercard will be undefeated Chinese heavyweight Zhilei “Big Bang” Zhang (20-0, 16 KO’s). Zhang has a good amateur background and was a silver medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in the super heavyweight division. He also competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games. Zhang has been inactive and his last fight was in September of last year. He will be stepping up in competition as he faces late replacement Andriy Rudenko (32-4, 20 KO’s) of Ukraine. Zhang will need to be impressive if he wants to remain a force in the heavyweight division.
Also in the heavyweight division, Hughie Fury (23-3, 13 KO’s) of United Kingdom is back in action less than three months from his last fight. Like his cousin Tyson Fury, Hughie would like to make a name for himself in the heavyweight division. He has been a solid pro for six years but has come up short when stepping up in competition. In his last fight, he lost a unanimous decision against Alexander Povetkin. Fury will take on Pavel Sour (11-2, 6 KO’s) of the Czech Republic to stay busy and try to set himself up for another big fight.
Also on the card will be 2016 Olympian super featherweight Joe Cordina (10-0, 7 KO’s) of Wales. Since turning pro in 2017, Cordina has kept a busy schedule and will look to continue his winning ways. Cordina will face his biggest test up to date as he will face off with Mario Enrique Tinoco (18-5-4, 13 KO’s) of Mexico. Most notably, Tinoco stopped the British prospect Jordan Gill last year in an upset. They will battle for the vacant WBA Continental Super Featherweight title.
Also Olympian Thulasi “Tiger” Tharumalingam (6-0, 4 KO’s) of Germany, will be featured on the card. Thulasi was the first Qatari boxer to compete in the Olympic Games. The super welterweight fighter will look to shine and stay undefeated.
Andy Ruiz: “I’ll Make History Again In Saudi Arabia”
By: Sean Crose
“It feels good,” said WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz upon his arrival in Saudi Arabia for his December 7th rematch against former undefeated divisional kingpin Anthony Joshua. “You know I made history in New York and I’ll make history again in Saudi Arabia.” Ruiz shocked the fight world last June when he stopped Joshua in the Englishman’s American debut at Madison Square Garden. What was essentially supposed to be a glorified tuneup for Joshua on the road to a mega fight with Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury ended up being one of the sport’s biggest upsets in decades.
According to Matchroom Boxing, which is promoting Ruiz-Joshua 2: “The Mexican-American fighter followed his challenger Anthony Joshua into the Kingdom, touching down at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh in the early hours of today to set up his own training camp to prepare for the epic bout on December 7.” This will only be the second of the 22-1 Joshua’s fights to take place out of his United Kingdom homeland. Ruiz, on the other hand, has fought in places as diverse as the United States, Mexico, China, and New Zealand. Although reportedly hesitant at first to fight in Saudi Arabia, the defending champion is expected to receive a warm welcome.
In fact, a brand new outdoor arena has been built specially for the occasion of the rematch. Per Matchroom: “The first-ever Heavyweight World Title fight to take place in the Middle East will be staged in the custom-built 15,000 seat Diriyah Arena in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site, known as the home of heroes and kings.” Promoter Eddie Hearn is (unsurprisingly) coming across as thrilled with the new facility. “The arena and site are utterly breath-taking,” he said, “with a theme park and concert the night before (the fight) as well. It’s like nothing we’ve seen before in boxing. The Clash On The Dunes will be a night to remember. We can’t wait.”
Although this will be the first major boxing match to go down in Saudi Arabia, officials clearly feel like the Kingdom is rising to the occasion. “On the night (of the fight),” Matchroom claimed, “more than 2,000 staff will ensure proceedings run smoothly in the arena, 95 percent of which is reusable, and which will take a month to take down.”
Joshua-Ruiz 2, the “Clash On The Dunes,” will be aired live on the DAZN streaming service.
Ritson & Fitzgerald Take the Wins In an Electric Newcastle Night
By: Ste Rowen
In a night highlighted by domestic rivalries being fought, Lewis Ritson and Scott Fitzgerald came out on top in their lightweight and junior-middleweight bouts respectively. Ritson scored a unanimous victory over Robbie Davies Jr, whilst Fitzgerald kept his unbeaten run going also with a unanimous decision win over Ted Cheeseman.
It’s not often the phrase ‘You maggot’ ignites a rivalry but tonight’s main event in Newcastle, England between lightweights Lewis Ritson and Robbie Davies Jr, not solely, but in part was born out of Davies Jr calling out Ritson in his own unique way. Davies, 19-1 (13KOs) heading into tonight, looked confident as he was booed into the ring in Newcastle, knowing that the crowd was going to be on his back from, not just the first bell, but his very first steps into the Newcastle Arena.
Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account
‘The Sandman’ Ritson, a Newcastle native, was drenched in atmosphere with a smile painted on his face as he made his ring-walk. But the home-fighter was on the back foot at the ring of the first bell, with Davies Jr getting in the harsher shots but Lewis began to impose himself from around the second and third rounds onwards.
Liverpudlian, Robbie found a second wind in the middle rounds as Ritson began to lay off on the intense pressure he’d set but waned again as the rounds ticked on. Bloodied and bruised both men took the fight to the other in the final round. Lewis boxed well at the beginning of the round but the final stretch turned into a mixture of tit for tat power punches, with a bit of cuddling to add to it as both men made sure they heard the final bell.
The judge’s scorecards returned as, 117-112, 116-112 (x2) all for Lewis ‘The Sandman’ Ritson, who improves to 19-1 (12KOs) and puts himself in line for a world title shot next.
‘‘I said this was my coming out party and I was absolutely right.
I tried to fight him for the first six rounds, I knew I couldn’t do it for the full twelve…It takes two to tango and Robbie deserves praise.’’
In the middle of Davies Jr’s interview Lewis called for the crowd to stop booing in a show of respect to a man he’d clearly settled his bad blood with.
In the highly anticipated co-feature, British junior middleweights Scott Fitzgerald and Lonsdale belt holder, Ted Cheeseman fought a twelve round, all-action bout that saw Fitzgerald rip the belt from the now former holder, via a decision.
Cheeseman, 15-1-1 (9KOs) took the role of the boxer early on whilst Fitzgerald seemed to be searching for the finisher, whether that be the one shot or a swift combination of punches. British champion Cheeseman, defending his belt for the second time held his ground well off the back foot throughout most of the bout, whilst Scott seemed the keener of the two to take the fight to Cheeseman and demonstrate the excitement and power he brought to his previous domestic rivalry victory over Anthony Fowler earlier this year.
Fitzgerald rained down a floury of heavy shots in the 11th to drop ‘The Big Cheese’, firing off a crucial left hand to leave Cheeseman tumbling into the ropes. In the 12th, Scott went hell for leather as Ted continued to attempt to box off the back foot and it seemed to work as he made it to the final bell despite the ferocity of Fitzgerald’s pace.
But it wasn’t to be for ‘The Big Cheese’ as the final scorecards came back, slightly controversially it seemed to some, as, 116-113 (x2), 115-113 all to the unbeaten man, Scott Fitzgerald, leaving Cheeseman to jump out of the ring in disgust.
‘‘It wasn’t anything like how I wanted it but we’ve got it’’ Fitzy, now 14-0 (9KOs), said post-fight. ‘‘Next time you’ll see a better version.
I definitely won the last three/four rounds, but I definitely fell behind. It was a close fight…I’d like to be out again before the end of the year, let’s get the Brian Rose fight.’’
Eddie Hearn: Ruiz-Joshua 2 Can Change Boxing Forever
By: Sean Crose
Strangely enough, neither man was there. In a press conference to officially announce the highly anticipated rematch between former heavyweight kingpin Anthony Joshua, and the man who stunned the world by besting him, Andy Ruiz, promoter Eddie Hearn did his best to hype the impending bout. With neither Joshua or Ruiz present, however, it proved to be an off seeming affair. Ruiz-Joshua 2 is scheduled to go down on December 7th in Saudi Arabia, though word is making the rounds that Ruiz is unhappy with the arrangement. Still, Hearn spoke in detail about the Saudi Arabia location for the match.
“For us,” said Hearn, “we really wanted to go somewhere where they believed in the sport of boxing and they had a vision.” The promoter went on to praise Saudi Arabia as a qualified host country. “I was lucky enough to attend the World Boxing Super Series,” Hearn continued. “It was a fantastic event, not just for the logistical setup but because of the vibrancy of the crowd, the interest in the sport of boxing. And of course, recently they staged another fight with Amir Khan.”
Ruiz shocked not only the boxing world, but the entire sports world when he essentially beat up Joshua last June in Joshua’s American debut. The Madison Square Garden hosted bout was supposed to be Joshua’s introduction to the American public. Ruiz was essentially a last minute replacement opponent for Joshua after Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller had to drop out due to positive drug tests. In other words, not much was expected of the Mexican-American slugger. To claim Ruiz over-performed would be an overstatement. The heavyset challenger dropped Joshua numerous times before the bout was finally stopped in round seven.
Although he was stunned and thoroughly beaten, Joshua took the loss like a gentleman. The now 22-1 Englishman has also proven ready to redeem himself since the loss. With a rematch clause in place, it was essentially only a matter of where and when Joshua would face the now 33-1 Ruiz again. With a date and location set, Hearn was effusive Monday about the fight being scheduled in a unique location. Ever the salesman, the smooth promoter claimed that “this event can change boxing forever…You could be seeing a big change in the dynamics of the sport.” Hearn added that “with curiosity, the whole world will be watching this fight.”
While the fact that Ruiz-Joshua 2 is scheduled to go down in the middle east is now unarguably a major part of the story, it also brings with it a degree of controversy, something the media is already beginning to take note of. Saudi Arabia is widely seen as a nation ripe with human rights abuses, something that will no doubt continue to be noted as the countdown for the match begins. Whether the country’s reputation will keep fans from embracing Ruiz-Joshua 2 remains to be seen.
Tinoco Torches Gill, Wood Axes Doyle
By: Oliver McManus
Jordan Gill suffered a shock first defeat of his career last night in Nottingham, retiring after the eighth round in a contest that he never truly got into. Enrique Tinoco was the plucky Mexican to catch Gill unawares and did so in punishing style with unsympathetic salvos to the body of the Chatteris featherweight.
On paper this should have been a walk in the park for Gill given the manner in which he brushed aside Ryan Doyle and Emmanuel Dominguez: before the first round started it was more a question of ‘can he get another knockout?’, not ‘will he win?’. Tinoco was in altogether different mindset and, having initially weighed in 5oz over the limit, looked the far bigger man.
That disparity in size was made immediately obvious as Tinoco looked to be carrying that exrta heft behind his punches. There were no surprises as to the speed of this fight as both men looked to establish themselves from the off: neither fighting ceding centre ground. Gill was far more orthodox in leading with the jab whilst Tinoco made use of garish angles to find his man.
Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account
Issues arose when the challenger landed with regularity to Gill’s body; the home fighter visibly tensed with as the blows totted up. In the third round Tinoco set things up with a lovely punch to the liver before a quick flurry of punches, thrown with Tinoco marching forward, saw Gill hit the canvas.
From there on in the body was route one for his opposite number, exploiting his achilles heel, and Gill just could not live with them. Every time Tinoco shimmied towards the inside he found Gill an unmissable target – something wasn’t quite right about the 24 year old – and it was only matter of time before he fell once more. A right hook crashed home in the fifth and Gill was back on the seat of his pants.
This was not a one-sided affair such as Sergio Garcia vs Ted Cheeseman but Tinoco gaining in confidence with every passing round. Gill just didn’t look himself: we’ve seen Dave Coldwell’s prospect look far more assured than on Friday night. He did, in fairness, return in the seventh with a far more competent round as he scrambled for a foothold in a contest that was slipping through his fingers like sand in an hourglass.
Tijuana’s tactician respond in the only way he knew how with relentless pressure to assert his dominance. More body shots flooded Gill was immeasurable discomfort and, after being dropped in the eighth, Dave Coldwell opted to withdraw his charge. An understandable decision given the underwhelming nature of Gill’s performance: after the fight it emerged the former champion had suspected food poisoning but, whatever the reasoning, he just couldn’t find a rhythm.
A first for loss for Jordan Gill but in nowhere near as career-detrimental fashion as the likes of Ted Cheeseman; he’ll be back, he’s already proven his quality at this level, but he’ll have to take lessons from this fight if he is to push on.
The co-main event featured local sensation Leigh Wood finally getting the chance to put on big performance under the bright lights of his home city. The Commonwealth champion was defending his belt against, former holder, Ryan Doyle and this was, without a doubt, the stiffest challenge of his career since losing to Gavin McDonnell in 2014. A sixth round knockout, that reversal was the sole loss on Wood’s career whilst Doyle was looking to respond immediately from a seventh round TKO loss to Jordan Gill.
A contest that started cagily saw neither fighter willing to commit but Wood was showing more ringcraft as he settled on the backfoot, forcing to Doyle to try and close the distance – something he struggled to do. The defending champion looked to be at ease with the situation he found himself in whereas there was, perhaps, a sign of nerves from his challenger.
Wood found his feet early on and hit his stride after the tentative first round but gradually increased his application of pressure, tightening his grip on the contest. Confidence was never an issue for the local man who began to unfurl hook after hook to push his challenger up against the ropes and, when there, let his hands go with crisp accuracy and timing.
Doyle offered little to threaten his opponent and appeared to be a sitting duck, just waiting to drop from a sustained attack and the cork popped in the tenth round. Wood opened up the defence of his opponent through planted body shots before as clean a punch as you will ever see put the contest beyond all doubt. A ferocious counter left-hook twisted the head of Doyle, figuratively and literally, and that was that. Punch perfect from Ryan Doyle.
Big time boxing has been away from Nottingham for a little while but, if last night is anything to go by, it’ll be back very, very soon.
Wood vs. Doyle, Gill vs. Tinoco Fight Preview
By: Oliver McManus
Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing bring boxing back to the much-forgotten city of Nottingham this Friday, the first Sky show there since the heydays of Carl Froch. Boxing never truly went away, though, with shows being promoted regularly on a small-hall level and talents such as Ekow Essuman and Nina Bradley forcing their way into the spotlight.
Jordan Gill gets the honour of headlining at the Nottingham Arena with a defence of his WBA International title. The featherweight, 23-0, is one of the last fighters sticking by the old adage “20 for learning, 20 for earning”, with a patient development stretching back to his debut in 2012. Turning professional on his 18th birthday, the featherweight was a popular product on Sheffield and Peterborough shows, continually putting in mature performances to pick off rounds, and contests, with ease.
Not many had him down as someone with a big punch but, actually, as he’s got into the habit of making championship weight he’s begun to showcase his menace. Holding his punches well, the featherweight is on an impressive run of three straight knockouts (seven, in all) and has done so on each occasion through a simply ferocious body of punches. It’s that spite and aggression that, perhaps, you wouldn’t have seen at the beginning of his career.
His opponent, Enrique Tinoco, has been inactive since a six round victory in March, last year. His career has been blotted with various red and blue dots on Boxrec – five losses and four draws – without any real wins of note. In 2017 the Mexican was in the away corner for Devin Haney’s 17th contest and lost all eight rounds, comfortably so. Knocked out in 2014 by Miguel Roman, Tinoco kissed the canvas thrice in third round.
Easy on the eye and a joy to watch, it’s great to see Gill getting the backing from Matchroom and topping these NXT GEN cards. It’s only a matter of time before he becomes too big for these type of shows, however.
Local fighter Leigh Wood, from Gedling, will feature in the co-main event as he looks to defend his Commonwealth Featherweight title against Ryan Doyle. Wood won the belt, vacated by Gill, on March 2nd with a second round knockout against, over-matched, Abraham Osei Bonsu. He’s been knocking on the doors of a title for the last twelve, eighteen months having been made mandatory to the British at one point.
Similarly to Gill, Wood hasn’t rushed anything in his career and is now reaping the benefits. A sole loss to Gavin McDonnell is certainly no disgrace and the 31 year old has subsequently notched up wins against Josh Wale and Lee Glover to prove he’s beyond a domestic level. Naturally more of a heavy hitter than, his divisional counterpart, Gill has dropped his opponents on fourteen occasions and always seems to keep an extra something for these big fights.
Doyle, meanwhile, is coming off a loss to Gill – it all seems to tie together nicely – having formerly held this very Commonwealth title. Brought in as an away opponent for Reece Bellotti in June 2018, the Lancashire fighter was having none of it and duly set about dispatching Bellotti within five rounds and ending any hype or hope surrounding his opponent. The former champion, though, has done just as much of the groundwork as his adversary and has always leapt at opportunities – against Isaac Lowe, James Tennyson, Bellotti, Gill. We know, to an extent, what we’re getting from the 27 year old and that is, very simply, a proper boxer who leaves everything in the ring.
History shows, as well, he’s got a knack for revenge. Having suffered a last gasp knockout reversal to Ian Bailey, they met again and Doyle boxed his ears off for 10 rounds. Don’t bet against him doing the exact same and regaining his Commonwealth title. Now this is a pick’em.
On the undercard there are two fights that stand out, perhaps for obvious reasons, in Terri Harper vs Claudia Lopez and Fabio Wardley vs Dennis Lewandowski.
Harper was involved in an all British “super fight” against Nina Bradley earlier in the year – what should have been a watershed moment for women’s boxing in the country – and is leading the charge despite being just 22 years of age. She’ll look to defend her WBC International title but, my word, does she have a sensational future ahead of her.
Wardley is one of those heavyweights going under the radar and, for a guy announced in fight wek, his opponent is no slouch. Having been in with Tom Schwarz and Cyril Leonet, albeit losing both, Lewandowski knows his way around the ring but Wardley should have enough to see him off inside the distance.
Don’t go far because boxing is back in Nottingham and, if they’ve any sense, it won’t be leaving anytime soon.