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Teofimo Lopez Fights Masayoshi Nakatani in Title Eliminator

By Robert Aaron Contreras

Returning on July 19 to New York’s Madison Square Garden, it is clear Teofimo Lopez (13-0, 11 KO) was made for boxing’s grand stage—as much for his brass and post-fight celebrations as for his knockouts.

Top Rank Promotions have moved to give the Brooklyn wunderkind his own card on ESPN+ against the undefeated Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0, 12 KO) in title eliminator. On the line is a matchup with IBF beltholder Richard Commey, who Lopez—never one for reticence—began to point out the flaws the lightweight champion demonstrated over Ray Beltran in his last title defense. Beyond that, Bob Arum and Co. already have plans for a unification against one Vasyl Lomachenko.

In April, Lopez was again at MSG. There he picked up a ruinous knockout, this one over European standout Edis Tatli. Tatli had never before been convincingly defeated—his two losses were by conflicting decisions. But the 21-year-old Lopez, with the perspicacity of a star twice his age, eventually plugged a right hand to Tatli’s midsection that spelled the end of the bout in the fifth round.

One win away from a world title fight, Lopez has been fast-tracked to stardom since his professional debut in 2016. Top Rank had no qualms about signing him directly out of the Summer Olympics in Brazil, where he represented Honduras. The burgeoning puncher so far is dominating his competition, registering 11 knockouts in his first 13 pro contests.

His shining moment in the paid ranks came in 2018, pitted against a hardened contender in Mason Menard. Lopez blew him up with an overhand right in under a minute and the knockout went mainstream for Menard’s collapsing in rigor mortis. It complimented Lopez’s celebratory dancing and prancing earlier that year over Diego Magdaleno.

Magdaleno, a former title challenger himself, was made to look like a complete tomato can. Two leaping left hooks in the seventh period from Lopez left the veteran disheveled, stiffened right up on the canvas.

Nakatani, rated No. 3 in the division by the IBF, does not come close to carrying the same kind of punch and is not nearly the household name Lopez is. But in his own right, Nakatani did enter the sport a touted prospect in Japan and since plied his trade among the country’s quality domestic scene.

While there are no lights as bright as the acme of boxing venues that is MSG, the Japanese underdog has at least served as the headliner back home in nine of his previous 12 fights, dating back to 2014 when he won the OPBF lightweight trinket. He enters the weekend an 11-time defending titleholder—the third tier belt it may be, but still a sought-after strap in Asia that prepares its claimant for the full, 12-round distance.

Most recently, Nakatani extended his unbeaten ledger against the well-experienced puncher Hurricane Futa. He excellently negated the barreling Futa with his immense size, jabbing, and managing the momentum of the contest from a safe distance. Hooks from Nakatani would open up his countryman’s eyebrow and the cut forced the referee to call the bout in the fourth frame. It was just Futa’s second stoppage in 34 bouts.

The Japanese after all has three inches in height and reach on Lopez. That length, with his being just under 6-feet tall, gives Nakatani his best (and only) chance of upending one of the sport’s most promising fighters.

Co-Main Event: Maxim Dadashev (13-0, 11 KO) vs. Subriel Matias (13-0, 13 KO), junior welterweight eliminator

Dadashev, a 28-year-old Russian, is a spectacular talent training out of Oxnard, California under Buddy McGirt as well as a part of Egis Klimas’ ballyhooed stable of Eastern Bloc destroyers. His knockouts have made the rounds but his game revolves around adept, even flashy, footwork.

Marching up the sanctioning body rankings—top 5 by both the WBC and IBF—Dadashev is undefeated, turning away a handful of notable opponents. He is already 1-0 on the year. Typically a slow starter, he got off the canvas in March to defeat Ricky Sismundo by fourth-round knockout.

A grafting left hand in the second round from Sismundo put Dadashev on the ground. But the hotshot puncher, soon after detonated a left hand onto his opponent’s chin, all the while moving backwards, for an impressive finish.

Like most prospects stateside do, the California transplant picked up the NABF belt. And he defended the secondary title over former world champion Antonio DeMarco. Demarco was able to rattle Dadashev some time in Rounds 7 and 10. But Dadashev secured a decision victory, outboxing an aged Demarco the rest of the way.

Matias, 27, may be a lesser-known up-and-comer, but he is no less a dangerous one. The Puerto Rican slugger, who is a world-rated super lightweight by three sanctioning bodies, has yet to be read the scorecards in his professional carer. He is a sound composite puncher, bashing all 13 of his opponents inside of six rounds. This includes two-time Olympian Patrick Lopez and the hard-hitting pair of brothers Breidis and Daulis Prescott.

After making the elder Prescott quit from four rounds of steady punishment, Matias two months later dropped Fernando Saucedo in the opening round. And that was enough to convince the opposing corner to pull their man out. Matias’ victim—whose gaudy record of over 60 wins is par for the course for Argentina’s manufactured, promotional machine—was still technically a former world title challenger. As low as featherweight, sure, but not even a sizable two-divisional champion like Rances Barthelemy could take out Saucedo. It took Matias three minutes.

In March, Matias was at the top of the bill in his native Puerto Rico. He had a welterweight veteran in front of him, giving up inches in height to Wilberth Lopez. The same Lopez to extend the distance a bevy of heavy-handed bangers like Alex Saucedo, Isaac Dogboe and Ivan Baranchyk. Matias banged him out in six rounds.

All told, Matias presents Dadashev a real challenge. In fact, the Russian’s team must be confident in him given the high risk-low reward that a lethal, unheralded puncher like Matias concretizes.

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Joyce vs. Jennings and Dubois vs. Gorman Fight Preview

By: Oliver McManus

A Saturday night dedicated to the big bruising heavyweights of Frank Warren’s stable – Joe Joyce vs Bryant Jennings and Daniel Dubois vs Nathan Gorman at the top of the bill – promises to provide serious entertainment. The quality of the show, however, runs deeper than many UK fight nights of recent memory with three more title fights being televised; Liam Williams vs Karim Achour, Sunny Edwards vs Hiram Gallardo and Archie Sharp vs Jordan McCorry.

Dubois-Gorman is officially granted headliner status within the plethora of quality contests with the young dancing partners fighting for the vacant British title. Both men deserve credit, from the off, for their willingness to engage in such an evenly matched contest when, undoubtedly, easier nights would have been readily available. It is also pleasing to see them give so much credit and respect for the Lord Lonsdale belt amid a generation of fighters where the British title seems to be losing prestige and priority.

Dubois, 11-0 (10KOs), has long been the prized jewel of Warren’s growing collection of prospects and he’s been developing steadily since turning professional in April 2017. The middle ‘phase’ of his career, thus far, saw Dubois take on successive domestic names – AJ Carter, Dorian Darch, DL Jones and Tom Little – and put them away in devastating fashion. Of course the calibre of that quartet is vastly inferior but that run of fights saw Dubois collect English and Southern Area titles all before his 21st birthday.

The fight against Little saw the Peacock’s fighter piece together his shots sumptuously and, as we’ve seen on plenty of occasions, it was the body shots that did the damage; Little down in the fourth and then finished off in the fifth. Subsequently he has faced Kevin Johnson, Razvan Cojanu and Richard Lartey in a mixed bag of performances. The 10 rounder against Kevin Johnson was quite a monotonous affair with Dubois struggling to shake up any variety to his rhythm in the face of ‘Kingpin’s’ repeated dour negativity.

Cojanu and Lartey were more ‘traditional’ performances from Dubois as he lived up to his ‘Dynamite’ nickname – Cojanu was dealt with decisively inside two rounds with the most composed, well-measured performance of Dubois’ short career whilst the Lartey fight was a scrappier affair where the 21 year old ‘got involved’ but took care of business inside four rounds.

He’ll be providing the ‘fire’ to this fight, a refreshing contest, possessing the reputation for brutality and mesmerising power. His technique, equally, deserves respect with the finish against Lartey coming after three consecutive jabs prevented the Ghanaian from unfurling a shot of his own before Dubois pulled out the right hand and slamming into his opponent’s face.

Gorman, 16-0 (11KOs), shapes up as the more methodical fighter with natural athleticism and agility over brute strength and shoulders the size of fridges. The 23 year old has, however, made better use of his body since he inked a promotional contract with Warren and whilst any weight change has remained negligable he is far better proportioned than in some of his previous contests.

That strength and conditioning work is abundantly clear when you take into consideration his ability to work at a high tempo for extended periods of time. His fast hands are the obvious stand out trying to piece together a compilation of his best work but, actually, Ricky Hatton’s fighter seems a lot more naturally varied in his shot selection. An obvious comparisom to make is with his contest against Kevin Johnsom in which Gorman was able to remain on his toes and looked to try different things as the rounds went on – almost just to loosen up and see what was working.

He, too, is no stranger to fighting domestic fighters having faced Dominic Akinlade, at the time billed as big step up, in the same month that his upcoming protagonist made his debut; therein lies an obvious advantage. That extra 16 months, five figthts as it were, of professional experience means Gorman has gone through the motions that Dubois is currently – boxing puberty, if you like. The Nantwich man, let’s not forget, hasn’t always been in favour with Warren and has built himself up from the small halls of Waslall and Stoke-on-Trent in order to get here. Inherantly that instills extra grit within you.

Whilst both fighters are chomping at the bit to get the first real ‘livewire’ on their record you’d suggest Gorman is the more emotionally invested in this contest with Dubois refusing, really, to shake from being a man of few words. Gorman, meanwhile, seems agitated and eager to replace Dubois as ‘THE heavyweight prospect’.

A tale of two contrasting styles but two men that deserve respect for their willingness to get it on with little bones made about it – despite living in an era where the ‘0’ is glamourised as much as Gollum’s precious ring. As long as it doesn’t end up like Jack Catterall vs Ohara Davies, we’ll be in for a treat.

Joe Joyce (9-0) takes a significant step up in class in facing Bryant Jennings (24-3) in defence of the Juggernaut’s WBA ‘Gold’ title. In spite of the farcical title at stake this should be the sternest test of Joyce’s career – which has peaked and troughed dramatically – and the set-up an assault of the governing bodies for a world title.

Jennings, from Philadelphia, arrives in London for his first contest outside of the US and the seventh bout of his ‘comeback’ that resumed in 2017 following a loss to Luis Ortiz. ‘By-By’ was last in action against Oscar Rivas in a contest that he looked to be winning quite comfortably, until a resurgent Rivas turned the scew in the final round to knock the 34 year old out.

The other two losses only other loss to blight Jennings’ record is a wide points loss to Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 and the Philadelphian was hitting a strong run of form until encountering Rivas; dealing with Alexander Dimitrenko and Joey Dawejko at a canter. This, likewise for Joyce, is a big step up in comparison to recent opponents. The American is typically composed in his approach to a fight as he looks to pick off rounds and nullify the work of his counterpart rather than any all-out aggression.

The same can be said for Joyce who on a fair few ocassions has had his opponent in trouble – most notably against Iago Kiladze – but hasn’t shown that ‘nasty’ state of mind to callously go for the kill. Obviously against opponents such as Kiladze you’ll get a second bite of the cherry but that won’t be there when it comes to facing a world champion so I’d like to see an increased urgency from Joyce, especially when his opponent is there for the taking.

If Dubois vs Gorman is going to provide the fireworks for then night then the second heavyweight clash might be more of a slow-burner, a mellowed encounter but certainly no less of an opportunity for Joyce, a heavy favourite, to put in a needded performance to get him out of the ‘who needs him’ club.

A win on Saturday night for Liam Williams (20-2-1) will put the Welshman in a strong position for a world title challenge later in the year. He faces Karim Achour (27-5-3) for the WBC ‘Silver’ title in Williams’ third consecutive title fight at middleweight. In those two previous contests, against Mark Heffron and Joe Mullender, the Clydach Vale man has looked menacingly spiteful with a calculated breakdown of Heffron to claim the British title. His first defence against, an over-matched, Mullender finished in barbaric fashion following a heavy knock-down with one punch sending Mullender face first to the canvas.

Achour will provide seasoned opposition for Williams having been a professional for 11 years but his losses will be enough provide confidence for the home fighter. The most recent of which came against David Lemieux, for two WBC trinkets, in which Achour was embarrased for the 12 rounds – rarely landing a punch and looking completely out of his depth.

Given Williams’ experience of being in big fights – two scintilatting bouts with Liam Williams – you can be sure that he’ll remain a consumate professional but there’s a clear gulf in quality between the two men and it should only be a matter of time before that’s exploited.

Sunny Edwards (11-0) fights for the IBF International title at super flyweight where a win should send him into the Top 5 with the governing body. His opponent, Hiram Gallardo (12-2-2), is an unknown quantity to British fight fans but the available footage suggests he’ll be similar to Junior Granados, Edwards’ last opponent of 2018.

Edwards has quickly risen up the rings with Frank Warren’s table to secure his place as a regular TV fighter and he always delivers on that faith. The 23 year old is always bouncing around the ring, quite literally, and it is his footwork that leaves most of his opponents unstuck; they just don’t quite know where to go and then end up being within the ‘strike zone’ for Edwards to flurry away with a series of punches. Against Matos he was particularly impressive with the way he dipped the legs and then sprung up into a real powerful left hand, bolting diagonally upwards and doing some real damage to the ear-drum of his Portuguese opponent.

The last title fight of the nght sees Archie Sharp (15-0) make the first defence of his WBO European super featherweight title against Jordan McCorry (18-5-1). Sharp was initially scheduled to face Lucas Ballingall in March before injury forced him to pull out; he returned from that injury in April with a two-round blow-out against Sergio Gonzalez. Being part of a packed super featherweight division that features Sam Bowen and Zelfa Barrett, to name just two, there are plenty of fights to pique the interest of Sharp. He’ll look to deal with McCorry in more convincing fashion than, stablemate, Bowen did in March.

McCorry lost that encounter via a ninth round TKO on a night where the Scotsman didn’t seem quite right. Warnings came thick and fast from Marcus McDonnell and it prompted McCorry to become overly cautious through fear of disqualification so it will be interesting to see if we get a more relaxed fight this time around.

It’s an action packed night of boxing from Frank Warren, who seems to have had a kick up the jacksie, where entertainment should be rife from top to bottom but it’s all about the glamour division, isn’t it? Daniel Dubois vs Nathan Gorman – two unbeaten, young, hungry prospects looking to win the British title and a spot at the centre of Warren’s plans. Let the best man win because doors will open, that’s for certain.

Tune in to the whole night of action live on BT Sport from 7pm on Saturday 13th and airing on ESPN+ across the States.

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Charlo vs. Adams and Lubin vs. Attou Fight Preview

By: William Holmes

On Saturday night the NRG Arena in Houston, Texas will be the host site for Jermall Charlo’s WBC Interim Middleweight Title Defense against Brandon Adams.

The fight card will be presented by Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions and will be televised live on Showtime.

The co-main event of the evening will be between Erickson Lubin and Zakaria Attou in a WBC Junior Middleweight Title eliminator.

The undercard will feature fighters such as Eduardo Ramirez, Claudio Marrero, Miguel Flores, Cesar Cantu, and Omar Juarez.

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

Erickson Lubin (20-1) vs. Zakaria Attou (29-6-2); WBC Junior Middleweight Eliminator

Erickson Lubin is a young professional with a decorated amateur background from the United States. Lubin is a former US PAL Champion and a US National Golden Gloves Champion. Zakaria Attou is fourteen years his elder and has no notable amateur background.

That alone tells you this fight is likely a big mismatch.

Attou will have a slight one and a half inch height advantage over Lubin and has been a more active fighter. The one knock against Lubin is that for a twenty three year old boxer he hasn’t been very active. He only fought once in 2019, once in 2018, and twice in 2017. Attou fought once in 2019, twice in 2018, and three times in 2017.

Lubin also has a clear edge in power. Attou only has seven stoppage victories while Lubin has stopped fifteen of his opponents.

Attou is riding a seven fight win streak, but he has beaten no notable opponents. His most impressive victories have come against Stefano Castellucci, Orlando Fiordigiglio, and Emanuele Della Rosa. His losses were to the unheralded Roberto Santos, Frank Haroche, Ludovic Duval, Jonathan Bertonnier, Faycal Karkour, and Francois Riopedre.

Lubin has defeated the likes of Ishe Smith, Jorge Cota, Juan Cabrera, and Alexis Camacho. His lone loss was a KO loss to Jermell Charlo.

This is a fight that Lubin should win easily.

Jermall Charlo (28-0) vs. Brandon Adams (21-2); WBC Interim Middleweight Title

The main event will be a title fight between the undefeated Jermall Charlo and the winner of Season Five of the Contender, Brandon Adams.

Both boxers are still in their athletic prime at the age of twenty nine years old. Charlo will have a three inch height advantage and about a three and a half inch reach advantage over Adams.

Charlo does appear to have an edge in power as he has stopped twenty one of his opponents while Adams has only stopped thierteen of his opponents.

Charlo fought twice in 2018 and once in 2017. Adams fought four times in 2018, due to his participation in the Contender, but did not fight at all in 2017 or in 2016.

Charlo also has an edge in amateur experience. He had a record of 65-6 as an amateur while Adams only fought as an amateur for two years.

Charlo’s list of defeated opponents includes Matvey Korobov, Huge Centeno Jr., Jorge Sebastian Heiland, Julian Williams, Austin Trout, Wilky Campfort, and Cornelius Bundrage.

Adams has defeated the likes of Shane Mosley Jr., Eric Walker, Ievgen Khytrov, and Tyrone Brunson. His losses were to John Thompson and Willie Monroe Jr.

Adams is a live dog and his win on the Contender included several good prospects, but Charlo is a much more experienced fighter with a significant height and reach advantage over Adams.

Charlo might not stop Adams, but he should win the decision.

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Andrade vs. Sulecki Preview, Yafai and Parker Fight Preview

By Robert Aaron Contreras

On Saturday, Demetrius Andrade is up for his second title defense as he heads to his backyard of Providence, Rhode Island, where he won two pairs of National Golden Gloves, before reaching the quarterfinals of the 2008 Olympics, and eventually enjoyed an undefeated career in the pro ranks.

Also featured on the DAZN broadcast, in separate bouts, is light flyweight champion Khalid Yafai and one of the sport’s leading heavyweights in Joseph Parker.

The premium action kicks off at 9 p.m. ET and the undercard is set for 7 p.m. ET.

Demetrius Andrade (27-0, 17 KO) vs. Maciej Sulecki (28-1, 11 KO)

DAZN is sticking behind their man. The streaming service has aired Andrade’s last two fights—neither of which particularly moved the needle. Though Sulecki should actually give the American a run for his money.

Andrade, 31, is still the betting favorite—opening at -278 before the line was pushed to -600 approaching the weekend. Sulecki, as much as a two-to-one underdog, is fighting for his first world championship despite being a perennial contender between two divisions.

The defending champion rose to prominence amid a group of supremely talented junior middleweights, alongside Julian Williams and the Charlo brothers—all of whom won world titles. Andrade picked up his first championship belt in 2013 in a decision victory over Vanes Martirosyan. Then spells of inactivity killed most his momentum—in all he competed three times over the next three years. He defended the belt just once before being stripped by the WBO.

After some network freelancing, albeit getting by reasonably skilled fighters like Willie Nelson and Jack Culcay, Andrade agreed to terms with Matchroom Promotions that put him exclusively on DAZN. His title tilt with Sulecki represents the final leg of a three-fight deal.

Andrade’s first two showcases were nothing to write home about. He was given the right platform, headlining one show, where he stunk up the joint in a 12-round decision over the completely unheralded Walter Kautondokwa. His highlights: celebrating a knockdown too soon, nearly hitting the deck himself, and punching a downed opponent.

Of course Kautondokwa was no match for the American champ. Few are when Andrade is on his game. But another soft touch, Artur Akavov, was what fight fans had to settle for in his first middleweight title defense. The Russian challenger was severely outsized and couldn’t initiate an offense against the southpaw circling and buzzing around.

In Sulecki’s previous action, he nearly lost the opportunity to face Andrade. In the penultimate round against Gabriel Rosado, Sulecki ate a two-punch combo that sent him headlong overboard. The Polish banger touched the canvas once more but his early work and two knockdowns the other way were enough for a decision win.

Sulecki is still rated Top 10 in the world by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. In 2018, he extended Daniel Jacobs but was forced to settle for a unanimous decision loss. Before that he met the aforementioned Culcay and beat the bruiser, surviving serious scares in the seventh and tenth periods. Andrade was also rocked badly in the 12th round of his meeting with Culcay, ultimately squeezing out a split-decision verdict.

Joseph Parker (25-2, 19 KO) vs. Alex Leapai (32-7-4, 26 KO)

Parker must’ve had mixed emotions when he was in attendance to see Andy Ruiz Jr. upend Anthony Joshua. On his way to facing Joshua himself, the Kiwi boxer-puncher defeated Ruiz on points in 2016.

At the beginning of the month when Joshua refused to continue, Parker was then set to face journeyman Eric Molina. But now Leapai, who stepped in on late-notice, is standing between Parker an a possible rematch with Ruiz or Joshua.

Parker wasn’t as lucky as Ruiz was against Joshua. Nor was he as prepared or aggressive. The heavyweight clash between Parker and the superstar Englishman quickly dissolved into a jab fest: Parker’s hands quick as ever but no match for Joshua’s battering rams.

To Parker’s credit, after the loss he was still recognized as the second-best fighter in the class, and didn’t waste any time against third-tier competition. He was immediately paired up with Dillian Whyte, a dangerous contender. Whyte employed any tactic the referee would let him get away with, putting Parker through a mauling affair, gaining an early lead. With the fight slipping away, Parker turned it up in the championship rounds which in flashes evoked images of the classic slugfests of yesteryear. But in the end Parked walked away with a decision loss.

He finally broke the losing skid in December 2018 against Alexander Flores, a heavyweight out of California who scraped together decent record against the domestic field. Parker turned it on earlier than ever, driving his man to the ropes in the first round. And by the third stanza, a two-handed attack slumped Flores through the ropes for an easy knockout.

Leapai, who trains out of Parker’s neighboring Australia, has a punch too. But not much else. Pushing 40 years old, Leapai has only beaten two separate men since 2013. He has been living off a shocking upset over rising heavyweight standout Denis Boystov, dropping the upstart twice. The win earned Leapai a crack at Wladimir Klitschko.

Klitschko at the time was unbeatable. His jab didn’t take long to set up a couple right hands that sat Leapai down for good in the fifth frame to close the book on the Samoan-Aussie’s cinderella story.

Leapai still had a reputation for a decent punch, smashing 24 of his first 30 victims. So after Klitschko turned him away, both Malik Scott and Manuel Charr sharpened their teeth by winning decisions over the fading heavyweight. Leapai has since remained in his adoptive home, going 2-0-1 over the last two years.

Khalid Yafai (25-0, 15 KO) vs. Norbelto Jimenez (29-8-4, 16 KO)

Now 30 years old, Kal Yafai has a long way to live up to his amateur pedigree or the Eddie Hearn promotional machine. The 2008 Olympian takes on Jimenez, an unknown Dominican, marking his fifth defense. Yet the most recognizable name during Yafai’s reign is likely Israel Gonzalez, who may be a hardened lad but basically Jerwin Ancajas’ leftovers.

It was a disappointing outing with Gonzalez. Especially considering how his IBF counterpart, Ancajas brutally dispatched the Mexican. Yafai never looked lethal, or as finely tuned as he did in his title-winning performance over a legendary warmonger in Luis Concepcion. The Englishman was even on the receiving end of vicious volleys from Gonzalez. He nonetheless won by 12-round decision but was left nursing a hand injury into 2019.

Previously, Yafai’s third title defense was a seventh-round knockout of David Carmona—his first KO in two years. But the champion didn’t act the part at all, fouling on numerous occasions, hitting his challenger low and on the way down. A cleaner performance will do him wonders this weekend.

Jimenez, 28, only has a couple notable names on his ledger. But he is undefeated since 2011, despite his many losses. He raked in all eight of them, remarkably enough, in his first nine fights, starting his pro career on a 1-8 mark. At least one of those fights came against decent opposition—for example, future bantamweight beltholder Juan Carlos Payano, who sparked him in two rounds.

The surging light flyweight has since leveled off at 115 pounds. He even earned his first world title opportunity in 2015, when he pulled out a split-decision draw against the blistering Kohei Kono. Kono, per usual, was the aggressor while Jimenez danced along the outside, occasionally showing off a rangy jab. But mostly opting for slashing hooks to the midsection in-between taunting the Japanese champion.

Recently, Jimenez hasn’t been too active. Saturday will be his first ring appearance in over a full calendar year.

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Charlo vs. Cota and Rigondeaux vs. Ceja Fight Preview

By: William Holmes

On Sunday night the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada will be the host site for Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions Fight card to be televised live on Fox.

The main event of the evening will between Jermell Charlo and Jorge Cota in the junior middleweight division. The co-main event of the evening will be between former world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and Julio Ceja in a WBC Junior Featherweight Eliminator.

The undercard features fighters such as Joey Spencer, Alberto Mercado, Jesus Ramos, Leduan Barthelemy, and Ryan Karl.

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

Guillermo Rigondeaux (18-1) vs. Julio Ceja (32-3); Junior Featherweight Division

Guillermo Rigondeaux was once considered a pound for pound great, but a loss to Vasily Lomachenko in 2017 affected his status on the pound for pound list.

At thirty eight years old he’s clearly past his prime, and is twelve years older than his opponent. However, Rigondeaux will have about a four and a half inch reach advantage but will be giving up an inch in height.

Rigondeaux has twelve stoppage wins on his resume while Ceja has twenty eight stoppage victories. Rigondeaux only loss was by stoppage to Vasily Lomachenko, Ceja has been stopped twice in his career.

Ceja is the younger brother of Luis Ceja but has no notable amateur experience. Rigondeaux is a two time Olympic Gold Medalist and is considered by many to be an all time amateur great.

Rigondeaux bounced back from his defeat to Lomachenko by defeating Giovanni Delgado quite easily. Other notable opponents include James Dickens, Drian Francisco, Joseph Agbeko, Nonito Doniare, Roberto Marroquin, and Teon Kennedy.

Ceja notable wins include Anselmo Moreno and Hugo Ruiz. His losses were to Jamie McDonnell, Hugo Ruiz, and a loss in his last fight to a 17-4 Franklin Manzanilla.

Even though Rigondeaux is getting older, he’s still a technical wizard, and should have no problems getting past Ceja.

Jermell Charlo (31-1) vs. Jorge Cota (28-3); Junior Middleweight Division

Jermell Charlo’s career hit an unexpected speed bump when he lost his last bout to Tony Harrison in a close upset.

However, many felt he did enough to win that fight and he’s still a top rated contender.

On Sunday he’ll be facing Jorge Cota, a contender that also lost his last bout, but it was against a relative unknown in Jeison Rosario.

Charlo is two years younger than his opponent, but both will be about the same height with about the same reach. Cota actually appears to have an edge in power as he has stopped twenty five of his opponents while Charlo has only stopped fiftee, but Cota’s resume is littered with low level opposition.

Charlo has beaten the likes of Austin Trout, Erickson Lubin, Charles Hatley, John Jackson, Vanes Martirosyan, Gabriel Rosado, and Harry Joe Yorgey. He has been fairy active and fought twice in 2018 and twice in 2017.

Cota’s notable wins include Yudel Jhonson and Euri Gonzalez. His other two losses were to Erickson Lubin and Marco Antonio Rubio. Cota fought once in 2019, once in 2018, and three times in 2017.

Charlo also has a clear edge in amateur experience as he was a bronze medalist in the Junior Olympics.

Cota has an impressive knockout ratio, but he has to defeat any top rated contenders and lost to fighters that many would expect Charlo to beat easily.

Charlo is expected to breeze through this fight.

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Unbeaten Fundora and Zepeda Headline Fridays Showtime Card

By: Ken Hissner

Sampson Boxing and Paco Presents will bring in an 8 bout card Friday at the Vinna Vegas Casino & Resort, in Sloan, Iowa, over on the Showtime Network

In the Main Event they will be featuring unbeaten Super Welterweight Sebastion “The Towering Inferno” Fundora of California and Hector Manuel “Baby” Zepeda of Mexico.

Fundora, 12-0 (8), of Coachella, CA, is a 6’7 southpaw who in February knocked out previously unbeaten Donnie Marshall, then 10-0. Zepeda, 17-0 (4), of Tijuana, Mexico, just five weeks ago won an 8 round decision over Giovanny “GG” Gonzalez, then 7-4. This will be Zepeda’s US debut. Both boxers are 21.

This will be Fundora’s sixth unbeaten opponent he will be facing. He has fought outside the US including four wins in Mexico and two in Argentina.

Unbeaten Lightweights Michel “The Bramble” Rivera, 15-0 (10), from Santo Domingo, DR, will be facing Rene “El Bravo” Tellez Giron, 13-0 (7), of Queretaro, Mexico, over 8 rounds.

Rivera’s last four opponents had a combined record of 57-6-2, including a win over Manuel Botis, then 23-1-1, in 2017. Giron has wins in Ukraine and a pair in Colombia so fighting out of Mexico is nothing new to him.

Lightweight southpaw Yeis Gabriel Solano, 14-0 (10), of Monteria, Colombia, takes on Elias “El Macho” Damian Araujo, 20-1 (8), of Santa Fe, Argentina, over 8 rounds.

Solano will be making his US debut and up against his toughest opponent in Araujo who has held the WBC Latino and Argentina (FAB) title and will be making his US debut.

Unbeaten 6:06 heavyweight Roney Hines, 6-0 (5), out of Cleveland, OH, is a 2018 National Golden Gloves Champion. He takes on 43 bout veteran southpaw Grover Young of Memphis, TN, over 4 rounds.

Super lightweight Joe James, 4-0 (2), of St. Cloud, MN, takes on debuting Emeka Ifekandu, over 4 rounds.

A pair of Super lightweight boxers from Nebraska in Jose Jacobo, 5-1 (1), and Nate Morrow, 1-1 (1), will be in a 6 round bout. Two other 4 round bouts are scheduled rounding out this 48 round card.

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Fight Preview: Cancio vs. Machado II, Acosta vs. Soto

By Robert Aaron Contreras

Often on boxing, a giant upset lends itself to an immediate rematch. And Friday’s return match between Andrew Cancio and Alberto Machado is no different, going down on DAZN from the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in California.

The broadcast will featured a championship doubleheader as Angel Acosta looks to extend his knockout streak. The preliminary action gets started at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Cancio and Machado should make their way to the ring at about 11 p.m. ET.

Andrew Cancio (20-4-2, 15 KO) vs. Alberto Machado (21-1, 17 KO)

In February, Machado rolled into California from Puerto Rico with gold around his waist and nearly -2000 betting favorite odds behind him. But three knockdowns in the fateful, fourth round from Cancio would make the native the new WBA super featherweight champion.

Cancio, never tabbed for a future champ, seemed destined to continually fall short against the blue-chip talent of the division. He lost to both JoJo Diaz and Ronny Rios on their ways to fighting or winning world titles. Alas, the California native officially signed with Golden Boy Promotions after upsetting the previously undefeated Aidar Sharibayev, who was billed as one of Kazakstan’s premier prospects.

Then Cancio outboxed Dardan Zenunaj. Or better yet fought off Zenunaj, who never stopped moving forward, culminating in a blistering tenth period. Still Cancio’s cleaner punching took nearly every round off his man, winning across the board.

After opening as an underdog (again) against Machado, Cancio is now sitting at -200. Machado now knows what dog odds feels like, currently as low as two-to-one. Machado has been undervalued before, namely by the World Boxing Association (WBA)—a sanctioning body already known for malfeasance and somehow continues to outdo themselves.

After ringing up an undefeated record, including nine consecutive first- or second-round knockouts, Machado faced Jezzrel Corrales for the WBA’s 130-pound “super” belt. Both men hit the deck before Machado sparked Corrales in Round 8 and this is where the snafu unfolds.

Corrales had earned the distinction (“super” champ, instead of regular) by beating longtime belt holder Takashi Uchiyama. But he missed weight opposite Machado, leaving the gold only available to Machado. But the powers that be went ahead and made Gervonta Davis their “super” champion before Machado could even get back into the ring for his first title defense.

Machado carried on and defended his ambiguous title twice. Last July, he decisioned Don King’s warrior Rafael Mensah. And followed that up with a first-round destruction of former Golden Gloves champion Yuandale Evans.

Before battling Cancio, anticipation was building for a unification between Machado and Davis. Then a few flinging left hands and right hands to the body from Cancio flipped the script. Now Cancio has a chance to secure those kind superfights for himself.

Angel Acosta (20-1, 20 KO) vs. Elwin Soto (14-1, 10 KO)

Still on the right side of 30, Acosta has his fourth title defense lined up this weekend as he takes on Soto, of Mexico.

Puerto Rico’s Acosta orchestrated another knockout in his previous fight, where made easy work of divisional immortal Ganigan Lopez. It was the defending champion’s first start on DAZN.

All Acosta had to do to find himself fighting on mainstream airwaves was record every one of his wins by knockout—every single one. In March, at Ganigan’s expense, he continued the endeavor, stopped the hardened contender in eight rounds after having before that been relegated to defending his crown on Facebook.

Acosta’s terrorizing left hook resembles a converted orthodox. In lieu of a real jab, he repeatedly rams the shot up and down the side of his victims, complimenting it here and there with curling right uppercuts and overhands. As he demonstrated in his tenth-round finish of Juan Alejo, Acosta is also adept at cutting off the ring.

He’s been defeated just once, losing to Kosei Tanaka but rattled the Japanese virtuoso in the latter stages. Acosta has since rebounded to lift the WBO belt amid four straight victories.

Soto, 22, has never faced a top-level opponent—just two men on his record had more than just 5 professional wins. In his second year as a pro, he suffered his lone loss, a four-round decision, to a novice by name of Danny Andujo. The Mexican-born challenger has yet to lose again, rattling off 12 consecutive wins—mostly by knockout, to his credit.

Naturally, Soto is heading into the weekend as a hefty underdog (+600). He is 2-0 in 2019 (including one victory over a winless palooka) and this unexpected opportunity will be his first time training for 12 championship rounds.

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Fight Preview: Moloney Twins vs. Tanzanian Late Call-Ups

By: Ste Rowen

In the early hours of Saturday for most, but prime time in Australia, Moloney twins Jason and Andrew each take on opponent’s that they hope will lift them into world title contention in the bantamweight and super-flyweight divisions respectively.

At Seagulls Rugby League Club in New South Wales, bantamweight, Jason, 18-1 (15KOs) has already, once before had his chance for a championship belt when he entered the World Boxing Super Series but was beaten at the first hurdle by then IBF titlist, Emmanuel Rodriguez. It’s been almost eight months since that split decision loss in Orlando but Moloney remains confident not only that he defeated Rodriguez but that he has the tools to take on the biggest and the best at 118lb,

‘‘I feel I beat Rodriguez but that is in the past. I want world titles this year so for me a fight with the WBA number one (Liborio) Solis for the world title is one that I would love.
There’s talk of Rigondeaux fighting at bantamweight too. If I had to fight him, I would do it happily.’’

In his last outing, Jason ‘The Smooth One’ dismantled Cris Paulino inside five rounds which was set to lead the Australian into a bout with Cesar Ramirez of Mexico, but due to a late pull out Moloney will instead share the ring with 23-4 (13KOs), Goodluck Mrema. The Tanzanian may have a similar record to Jason’s original opponent but, as long as the home fighter continues to impress, he should deal with Saturday’s opponent handily. Goodluck hasn’t had much luck in his run of previous fights; he went three for three in 2018 and two of those defeats were stoppage losses including a 1st round KO defeat to Marlon Tapales.

But, with a second world title shot on the horizon, 28-year-old, Moloney promises fans he’s not taking his new opponent lightly,
‘‘I always prepare correctly no matter the circumstances. It’s what being a professional is all about…You can never overlook any opponent, look what happened to Anthony Joshua last week. I can’t let slip ups like that happen to me.’’
The Australian sits third in both the WBA and WBC rankings so any, as Moloney put it, slip ups at the weekend, and he could kiss goodbye to his world championship hopes any time soon.

Andrew Moloney will be hoping to catch up to his brother’s progress in the pro ranks sooner rather than later as well on Saturday night. Though Andrew remains unbeaten with a record of, 19-0 (12KOs), ‘The Monster’ has yet to challenge for a world championship belt. So far, Moloney’s biggest victory came in his final fight of 2018 when he defeated Luis Concepcion in the 10th and final round.

Since the impressive Concepcion victory nine months ago, like his brother, Andrew has fought just once, an 8th round stoppage of Miguel Gonzalez in a WBA title eliminator at super-flyweight, with the current superfly WBA champion being Great Britain’s, Kal Yafai, a man that ‘The Monster’ has never been afraid to call out,
‘‘As people know, I’m on the verge of becoming mandatory for Kal Yafai and that’s the fight I want. If not him then another world champion. I just want to be a world champion and I believe I will become one in 2019.’’

The parallels with his brother continue as Andrew will be facing a late change of opponent in another Tanzanian, and baby-faced, Selemani Bangaiza, 15-5 (5KOs), but Moloney despite talking of a big future and this possibly being his last fight in Australia, also promises he has his feet on the ground to ensure he puts on a show for his home crowd,
‘‘I intend on putting on an explosive display on Saturday night and show why I believe I’m the best 115-pounder in the world.
It’s a dream to be signed to Top Rank and it reiterates why I have to be on fire this weekend. This could be my last fight in Australia for a long time and if it is, I want to make sure it’s a performance people remember.’’

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Josh Warrington vs. Kid Galahad Fight Preview

By: Oliver McManus

Josh Warrington embarks on the second defense of his IBF featherweight title this Saturday when he faces Kid Galahad in a contest pitting Leeds’ home hero against the prickly-natured Sheffield-based mandatory challenger. Neither are shy of the spotlight and Warrington has been in full song surrounding his technical superiority whilst Galahad and, trainer, Dominic Ingle are sanguine that they have spotted weaknesses.

An aggressively ran marketing campaign from BT Sport is aimed at positioning Warrington as an eternal underdog; ‘written off 28 times’, when in reality questions have merely been raised as to the ceiling of Warrington’s ability, is the strapline spearheading BT’s adverts. A bloodied war with, kingpin at the time, Lee Selby saw Warrington wrestle the IBF belt away from Wales whilst he outgunned Carl Frampton in an assured display of aggression last December – ‘underdog’ is a severe injustice for the defending champion.

Kid Galahad, who was suspended between 2014 and 2016 after testing positive for stanozolol, remains unmoved by the ruthless performances of his adversary as he insists he’s “better than Frampton in every department”. The 29 year old will be looking for a far more composed gameplan that of Frampton, who was rocked in each of the first two rounds, as he gains a foothold in the contest from early doors. Three contests in 2018 showed a maturity from Galahad that has, arguably, been missing from previous performances with a measured tempo that allowed him to pick off rounds with relative ease.

Against Irving Berry (his first contest of 2018) he was able to strike up a fairly relaxed rhythm from the off and climbed through the gears in nonchalant fashion. An innocuous left hook caught Berry flush on the chin having narrowly missed moments earlier and the contest was over, just like that. In his other contests, against Toka Kahn Clary and Brayan Mairena, there was a tendency to favor a looping right hook to the body whilst remaining sharp with his upper body movement.

The defending champion, a 2/7 favorite in actuality, has cultivated a reputation as a puncher over recent fights: in thanks to his gritty, come-forward adventures against Selby and Warrington. Marginally younger, aged 28, energy has always been a huge plus for Warrington and he has frequently shown he’s the fresher fighter when championship rounds beckon; against Selby and Frampton he was effective in efficiently conserving energy by fighting in bursts of full-throttle commitment and stepping off the gas intuitively.

Such audaciously mature performances against two established featherweight figures, rightly, set the division on notice as to the little warrior from Leeds: a fighter whose ability was once questioned has rounded out his ability over the next couple years and now fights on resoundingly more than just “heart”. Make no mistake, however, that raw passion for fighting and success marks him out from Galahad – a fighter whose desire has been questioned in the build-up – and instantly gives Warrington the immediate ‘invincible’ mental edge.

Given the success he has found since inking a deal with Frank Warren, in 2017, you simply can find no logical ground for betting against the reigning IBF champion because, as we know, he always saves his best for when he’s written off.

The undercard sees a double scoop of domestic dust-ups as Zelfa Barrett and Lyon Woodstock clash for the vacant Commonwealth super featherweight title and JJ Metcalf and Jason Welborn compete for the vacant Commonwealth super welterweight belt. Both Barrett and Woodstock are no stranger to ‘getting involved’ with fellow rising prospects – both suffered their first loss last year: against Ronnie Clark and Archie Sharp, respectively- and display a refreshing eagerness to waste no time in getting back in at the deep end.

A rough and tumble contest against Clark, in which Barrett was dropped in the sixth, resulted in a marginal loss (via majority decision) for ‘Brown Flash’ with the fight proving a tough learning ground the nephew of Pat – himself a former European champion. An immediate rematch with Clark was touted but circumstance convened to frustrate the 25 year old and he has been limited to just two stay-busy bouts in the intervening sixteen months. Since turning professional in 2014 he has advanced to a record of 21-1 with notable victories over Chris Conwell (a fourth round knockout) and a one round destruction of Jordan Ellison. Certainly a power puncher with a penchant for ballistically hammering away with body shots, the only way Barrett really knows how to fight is with fire.

His counterpart for this contest is himself no stranger to a scrap with his contest against Sharp (in October) a contender for domestic fight of the year but, largely, is far more laid back when in the ring. Philosophically-oriented outside of the ring with a love for relaxing by watching documentaries, you can see this bleed into his fighting style with an almost spiritual aura encompassing him. The 25 year old has proven to be a strong counter puncher and that should serve as a bold contrast to the rugged aggression of Barrett but, he too, has the desire to go against the stereotypical grain of a professional boxer. The ‘0’ has never mattered for Woodstock and it’s always been about fighting the best to be the best.

Much like rollercoasters you probably shouldn’t watch this fight if you’re of a nervous disposition because this is going to loosen a bowel or two.

JJ Metcalf, the original opponent for Liam Williams on December 22nd, finds himself back in a big fight having brushed off the niggle with an eight round knockout over Santos Medrano back in April. The Merseyside fighter is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to momentum with just two fights in the last 20 months but when he has boxed he’s looked mighty impressive. Five knockouts on the trot against guys who rarely get stopped, a mixture of journeymen and continental contenders, are a testament to the sheer size of Metcalf: a relatively big super welterweight, in terms of physique, he is able to hold his punches superbly.
The same, however, can be said for Welborn who will likely come into the ring the bigger man having campaigned at middleweight for much of 2018 so you can almost guarantee this will be a case of ‘swinging and slugging’. The 33 year old’s last fight came on the undercard of Wilder-Fury with a world title challenge against Jarrett Hurd and Welborn was caught unawares by a huge body shots in the fourth round. Against Metcalf he’ll be facing an opponent of a far more level calibre and, indeed, Welborn will be confident that, having nullified Tommy Langford on two occasions, he’s a level above his unbeaten opponent.

A trio of fights that go without the hype and hyperbole of pay-per-view yet are bound to deliver far more bang for your buck than ‘main event’ from Las Vegas just hours afterwards. The perennial underdog for once finds himself a favourite but he can’t afford to slip up against an untested challenger and the undercard, well, that’s anyone’s guess.

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Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz, Callum Smith vs. Hassan N’Dam Fight Previews

By: William Holmes

On Saturday night Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Promotions will bring their heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, to the United States to make his US debut and defend his titles against challenger Andy Ruiz Jr.

Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller was originally scheduled to face Joshua, but a positive steroid test forced him to withdraw from the fight and allowed for Ruiz to step up and get this opportunity.

This fight card will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City and will be streamed live on DAZN.

The co-main event of the evening will be a WBA Super Middleweight Title fight between Callum Smith and Hassan’ N’Dam.

The undercard is also stacked and features a women’s lightweight unification title bout between Katie Taylor and Delfine Persoon. Chris Algieri, Tommy Coyle, Josh Kelly, Joshua Buatsi, and Diego Pacheco are just some of the contenders that will also be competing on the undercard.

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

Callum Smith (25-0) vs. Hassan N’Dam (37-3); WBA Super Middleweight Title

Callum Smith is one of the best boxers out of the United Kingdom and Saturday will be the first time he fights in the United States.

Smith will have some noticeable physical advantages over N’Dam. He will have a large three and a half inch height advantage over N’Dam and he’s also six years younger than him. Both boxers have fought once in 2018 and twice in 2017.

Smith appears to be the more powerful puncher of the two. Smith has eighteen stoppages on his record in only twenty five fights while N’Dam has twenty one stoppages on his record in forty fights.

Smith has beaten the likes of George Groves, Nieky Holzken, Erik Skoglund, and Rocky Fielding. He has never been defeated as a professional.

N’Dam has lost to the likes of Peter Quillin, David Lemieux, and Ryoto Murata. He has beaten the likes of Martin Murray, Ryoto Murata, Curtis Stevens, Max Bursak, and Avtandil Khurtsidze.

Both boxers had successful amateur careers. Smith has success on the national level in Great Britain and N’Dam has competed in the 2004 and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

N’Dam has the ability to pull off an upset, as he did when he defeated Murray and Murata. But he’s coming up in weight to face a good puncher who’s significantly younger than him.

This fight is an excellent opportunity for Smith to impress the fans in the United States.

Anthony Joshua (22-0) vs. Andy Ruiz Jr.(32-1); IBF/WBA/WBO Heavyweight Title

Anthony Joshua holds three of the four widely recognized heavyweight titles. He’s considered to be one of the, if not the, best heavyweights in the world today.

However, Saturday will be the first time he’s fighting in the United States and it’s against an opponent very few believe has a chance at beating him.

Andy Ruiz is a good fighter, he only has one loss on his record and was a former Mexican National Champion as an amateur. However, Joshua is a boxer who has never been defeated and has stopped every single one of his opponents except one. And while Ruiz was a Mexican National Champion as an amateur Joshua won the Gold Medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Joshua will have a large four inch height advantage and a very large eight inch reach advantage. They are both twenty nine years old. Joshua fought twice in 2018 and twice in 2017. Ruiz fought once in 2019, twice in 2018, and did not fight in 2017.

Joshua has beaten the likes of Povetkin, Parker, Takam, Klitschko, Molina, Breazeale, Martin, and Whyte.

Ruiz has defeated the likes of Dimitrenko, Johnson, Austin, Liakhovich, Hamer, and Hanks. He has only been beaten by Joseph Parker.

it’s hard to imagine this fight going the full twelve rounds. Ruiz has boxing skills, but he’ll be significantly undersized against a man who’s skills are just as good.

This should be an easy victory for Joshua.

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WBSS Preview: Taylor vs. Baranchyk, Inoue vs. Rodriguez

By: Michael Kane

The World Boxing Super Series has rolled back into Glasgow this week ahead of arguably the biggest show in the UK so far this year.

The conclusion of the semi-final line up of the super lightweight and bantamweight tournaments takes place at the Hydro Arena in Glasgow.

Prestonpans Josh Taylor (14-0, 12 KOs) will face U.S based Belarussian Ivan Baranchyk (19-0, 12KOs), for the IBF world title which Baranchyk won in the quarter final stage against Anthony Yigit. Taylor progressed to the semi-final after a comprehensive win in Glasgow against American Ryan Martin.

It’s only been a month or so since we knew the fight was definitely set after it seemed Baranchyk wasnt happy with World Boxing Super Series. It does go ahead this Saturday in what will be one of the biggest nights in Scottish boxing history as two world titles fights headline the event.

Taylor has fought several times at the Hydro Arena, from winning Commonwealth Games Gold in 2014 to beating former world champion Viktor Postol last year. With a large expectant home crowd it will be interesting to see how Taylor handles the pressure in his first world title shot and if Baranchyk will handle the red hot atmosphere sure to be created by the Scottish crowd.

The fight could be a close contest and the home support could be crucial to keep Taylor going to the end in a gruelling contest.

The other world title fight will see Puerto Rican, Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs) defend his IBF Bantamweight title against Japanese superstar ‘The Monster’ Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15KOs), who will have his WBA regular belt up for grabs.

The press conference on Wednesday would see approximately 80% of the media being made up from Japan showing the popularity of Inoue in his home country.

There has been a bit of animosity between the two camps with a Rodriguez coach pushing Inoue’s father and head coach at the media work out.

This should be the three weight world champion Inoue’s biggest test to date and will be interesting to see how he handles the bigger Rodriguez, who is confident and how Inoue handles fighting away from the home comforts of Japan for the first time.

Rodriguez won his world title when he fought and beat Paul Butler in London last year so has experience of big fights in the UK.

This could be a great fight between two fighters in their prime and a bonus for the Scottish public to see a genuine sporting superstar in Inoue.

World Boxing Super Series will be shown live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in the U.S.

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Showtime Boxing Preview: Wilder vs. Breazeale, Russell vs. Martinez

By: William Holmes

On Saturday night the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York will host a heavyweight title fight between Deontay Wilder and Dominic Breazeale for the WBC Heavyweight Title.

This bout will be put on by Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) and will be televised live on Showtime.

Garry Russell Jr. will also be appearing on the card and will take on Kiko Martinez for Russell’s WBC Featherweight Title.

Photo Credit: Premier Boxing Champions Twitter Account

The following is a preview of both title bouts.

Gary Russell Jr.(29-1) vs. Kiko Martinez (39-8-2); WBC Featherweight Title

Whenever the name of Gary Russell Jr. comes up a debate follows if he’s a legitimate pound for pound fighter or not.

He’s a boxer who’s only blemish on his record came at the hands Vasily Lomachenko, a fighter most will agree is a pound for pound great. However, he’s also a boxer that has only fought once a year since 2015 and frustrates fans for his inactivity.

Russell will be facing Kiko Martinez on Saturday, a 33 year old boxer with eight losses on his resume and five of those losses coming since 2013. Martinez has been very active, as he fought twice in 2018 and three times in 2017. Martinez will also have about a two inch reach advantage and a half inch height advantage over Russell.

However, Russell has a clear edge in his resume of defeated opponents and amateur background. He won several national tournaments as an amateur in the United States and represented the United States in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Martinez does not have the amateur pedigree of Russell.

Russell has defeated the likes of Joseph Diaz, Oscar Escandon, Patrick Hyland, Jhonny Gonzalez, and Christopher Martin. Martinez has defeated the likes of Marc Vidal, Hozumi Hasegawa, Jeffrey Mathebula, and Jhonatan Romero. He has losses to the likes of Carl Frampton (twice), Scott Quigg, Leo Santa Cruz, and Josh Warrington.

Even though Martinez has been more active than Russell, he doesn’t’ have the talent of Russell and has several losses and draws in recent years, including two losses by stoppage. This shouldn’t be a fight that Russell will have issues in.

Deontay Wilder (40-0-1) vs. Dominic Breazeale (20-1); WBC Heavyweight Title

This won’t be Dominic Breazeale’s first chance at a heavyweight title. When he last challenged for the heavyweight title he was stopped in the seventh round by Anthony Joshua.

On paper, it appears unlikely this fight will be much different.

Breazeale has power, as he has stopped eighteen of his opponents, but he also can be stopped, as he only made it to the seventh round when he faced Anthony Joshua. He’ll need a strong chin when he faces Wilder, who has stopped thirty nine of the forty opponents he has faced, and even knocked down Tyson Fury in their disputed draw.

Both boxers stand at 6’7” and Wilder will have a slight one and a half inch reach advantage. Wilder fought twice in 2018 and in 2017 while Breazeale only fought once in 2018 and twice in 2017.

Both boxers represented the United States in the Olympics. Wilder competed in the 2008 Olympics while Breazeale competed in the 2012 Olympics. Wilder however was able to medal while Breazeale did not.

Wilder has beaten the likes of Luis Ortiz, Bermane Stiverne, Gerald Washington, Chris Arreola, Artur Szpilka, Johann Duhaupas, Eric Molina, Malik Scott, and Siarhei Liakhovich.

Breazeale has beaten the likes of Carlos Negron, Eric Molina, Izuagbe Ugonoh, Amir Mansour, Fred Kassi, Yasmany Consuegra, and Victor Bisbal.

Wilder is looking for a big money fight but has remained steadfastly loyal to Al Haymon and Showtime. Dominic Breazeale stands in his way of that big money fight, but it’s an obstacle that Wilder should be able to overcome.

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ESPN Boxing Preview: Navarrete vs. Dogboe, Berchelt vs. Vargas

By: William Holmes

On Saturday night the Tuscon Arena in Tuscon, Arizona will be the host site for Top Rank Promotions Card on ESPN entitled “Twice as Nice”.

The main event of the card will feature a WBC Junior Lightweight Title rematch between Miguel Berchelt and Francisco Vargas for Berchelt’s title. The co-main event of the evening will be another rematch between Emanuel Navarrete and Isaac Dogboe for Navarrete’s WBO Junior Featherweight title.

The undercard will feature several prospects, such as Mykal Fox, Carlos Castro, Miguel parra, and Miguel Marriaga. The undercard will be streamed on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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

Emanuel Navarrete (26-1) vs. Isaac Dogboe (20-1); WBO Junior Featherweight Title

Navarrete has spent almost his entire career fighting in Mexico, but his first fight in the United States was a big one against Isaac Dogboe, the then WBO Junior Featherweight Champion, and he shocked many by pulling off the upset.

They’ll rematch each other on Saturday night and Navarrete has a lot of inherent advantages. Both boxers are young and only twenty four years old. Navarrete has a significant edge in height as he is five inches taller than Dogboe. He also has a significant edge in reach as he has an eight inch reach advantage over him.

Navarrete also has the edge in power, as he has stopped twenty two of his opponents while Dogboe has only stopped fourteen. Both boxers have been fairly active, with Navarrete being the more active boxer. Navarrete fought four times in 2018 and five times in 2017 while Dogboe four four times in 2018 but only once in 2017.

Prior to beating Dogboe, Navarrete did not have an impressive resume of defeated opponents. He has beaten the likes of Jose Sanmartin, Glenn Porras, and Isaac Dogboe. His lone loss was in 2012 to Daniel Argueta.

Dogboe’s only loss in his career was to Navarrete. He has defeated the likes of Hidenori Otake, Jessie Magdaleno, Cesar Juarez, Javier Chacon, and Julian Aristule.

Navarrete had a pretty dominating performance against Dogboe, and his size and reach will be difficult for Dogboe to navigate and avoid. This bout will go a long way in determining if Navarrete is the real deal or not, but it appears likely he’ll walk away with another win.

Miguel Berchelt (35-1) vs. Francisco Vargas (25-1-2); WBC Junior Lightweight Title

Even though this bout is a highly anticipated rematch, Berchelt is still in his athletic prime at 37 years old and Vargas is now 34 years old. Based on age along it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see Berchelt win convincingly.

Vargas will have about a one inch height advantage over Berchelt while Berchelt will have about an one inch reach advantage. Berchelt has the edge in power, as he has thirty one stoppage victories on his resume while Vargas only has eighteen.

Vargas’ lone loss was a knockout loss to Berchelt. He also drew with Orlando Salido. He has beaten the likes of Rod Salka, Stephen Smith, Takashi Miura, Will Tomlinson, Juan Manuel Lopez, Abner Cotto, and Jerry Belmontes.

Vargas also has an impressive amateur background that includes a trip to the 2008 Summer Olympics for Mexico.

Berchelt has defeated the likes of Miguel Roman, Jonathan Victor Barros, Maxwell Awuku, Takashi Miura, Sergio Puente, and Francisco Vargas. His lone loss was to Luis Eduardo Florez in 2014.

Berchelt never competed in the Olympics but he was a three time Mexican National Boxing Champion as an amateur.

Vargas fought once in 2018 and twice in 2017. He has only fought two times since he lost to Berchelt. Berchelt fought three times in 2018 and twice in 2017.

This writer sees this bout going in Berchelt’s favor and possibly by stoppage.

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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.

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Villa vs. Lopez: Previewing ShoBox’s Tripleheader

By: Robert Aaron Contreras

On Friday, May 10, ShoBox has a tripleheader on tap from the Omega Products International in Corona, California where a trio of the state’s most promising upstarts headline the show as they each face some of their stiffest competition to date.

At the top of the bill, Ruben Villa returns to the ring to face Luis Albert Lopez, a world-rated contender by the WBO. Michael Dutchover and Saul Sanchez, two adopted sons of Los Angeles, will be fighting in support on the Showtime broadcast, beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Barry Tompkins and Steve Farhood will be on the call for the network with Raul Marquez providing color commentary.

The early prelims, including former title challenger Petr Petrov, can be viewed at ThompsonBoxing.com.

Here’s a look at the three matchups bolstering the card.

Ruben Villa (15-0, 5 KO) vs. Luis Albert Lopez (17-1, 8 KO)

Somehow opening as an underdog (+110), Villa could be boxing’s biggest secret—at least one that’s been hiding in plain sight. The oddsmakers ignored the southpaw’s undefeated ledger and two National Golden Gloves.

Lopez, from Mexico, opened at favorable odds but has since plummeted to a four-to-one underdog (making Villa the -400 favorite heading into the weekend). Lopez, 21, is riding a five-fight win streak since the lone loss of his career to Abraham Montoya in 2018. Last time out, Lopez upended the previously-unbeaten Ray Ximenez on UFC Fight Pass. The action was tight, but after a cut stopped the bout in the eighth period, the judges agreed Lopez’s accurate potshotting was enough to defeat the Texas-born standout.

Fighting out of Northern California, Thompson Boxing Promotions recognized Villa’s aptitude early on. The promotional outfit has brought Villa along the professional ranks since he turned professional in 2016. Now they have set up Villa, 22, for his first Showtime main event and second start on national television. He’s prepared for the 10-round contest at Robert Garcia’s gym under the tutelage of father-son training duo Max and Sam Garcia.

Friday marks the second bout of the year for Villa. In January, he boxed the ears off Ruben Cervera, orchestrating the first loss of the Columbian puncher’s career, winning over an easy eight rounds. The California-bred stylist also went the distance with Miguel Carrizoza, winning by unanimous decision. Carrizoza, interestingly, was sparked out by another prospect in Ryan Garcia. Villa lacks the cracking punch of his hotshot counterparts but that’s no secret. He doesn’t rely on barnstorming ways, but a fluid, agile attack.

Before Villa’s ShoBox debut four months, he decisioned Jose Santos Gonzalez, who in his next fight bloodied Manny Robles III en route to a split-decision loss. And then in March, Gonzalez extended Manuel Avila to a draw. Villa, on the other hand, showed no trouble with the Mexican banger.

If Villa’s impressive pro record leaves anything to be desired, his time as an amateur doesn’t. Making up 166 ammy wins, he triumphed over Shakur Stevenson and Devin Haney in headgear.

Another impressive outing over Lopez would help Villa continue to stand out from the cohort of talented Californians making their names around the 126- and 130-pound divisions.

Michael Dutchover (12-0, 9 KO) vs. Ramon Mascarena (10-0, 5 KO)

Dutchover is set to face the first undefeated opponent of his career since crushing a 1-0 novice in his pro debut. Mascarena, 25, travels from Chile to meet the California transplant.

Dutchover is a hard-hitting lightweight training out of Southern California with Danny Zamora. He’s originally from Midland, Texas where he earned the nickname “West Texas Warrior.” And in his last outing, Dutchover was all over Ruben Tamayo from the word go, in three rounds stopping Tamayo, which has become a rite of passage for Mexican-American boxers following the veteran’s tussles over the years with Joseph Diaz, Oscar Valdez and Miguel Flores.

The 21-year-old puncher planted his feet and pitched right hands to Tamayo’s body, relentlessly. The powerful blows eventually forced not only the hardened man to hit the deck twice but the referee to call a halt to the action just two minutes into the third stanza. It was Dutchover’s fourth consecutive knockout.

Never tasted defeat, Dutchover stands an inch taller than his man this weekend. But Mascarena is still a career junior welterweight and so prove more difficult to crack open like he’s done to so many others.

Saul Sanchez (11-0, 6 KO) vs. Brandon Benitez (14-1, 6 KO)

Sanchez was pushed to his limit last time out but hopes to outdo himself in his first fight of 2019 against Benitez. Nicknamed the “Beast,” Sanchez is the odds-on favorite (-300) to get the job done Friday night.

Last October, the 21-year-old bantamweight fought the unheralded Luis Saavedra. The two battled for a complete eight rounds. Sanchez settled for a majority-decision. His past opponents haven’t been so lucky. Before that surprisingly competitive tilt, Sanchez punched out Mexico’s Ernest Guerrero in four rounds—quicker than champions like Francisco “Chihuas” Rodriguez took to ditch Guerrero.

Benitez represents another Mexican combatant to deal with. One younger, fresher and sharper. Equal in age, “Leoncito” Benitez makes his way from Queretaro, Mexico having rattled off five straight victories. More importantly, included in his winning streak is a three-fight stint in Venezuela. There Benitez defeated three middling homegrown fighters in enemy territory.

Of course he’s never faced anyone highly-touted as Sanchez. But Benitez won’t be the least bit shy on the road.

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