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Navarrete Makes Easy Work of De Vaca, Sets up Quick Turnaround for Fury Undercard


By Robert Aaron Contreras

Super bantamweight champion Emmanuel Navarrete took care of business so efficiently Saturday night, he is already gearing up for a return to the ring next month.

Navarrete (28-1, 24 KO) banged away at Francisco De Vaca (20-1, 6 KO), leaving no doubt to who is the most fearsome 122-pound fighter in the world, taking out his challenger inside of three rounds at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.

With a blood spattered across De Vaca’s face, and his countenance sinking—his consciousness soon to fall away too—referee Raul Caiz Jr. was left with no choice but to step between the outgunned man and Navarrete in the latter part of the third round.

The quick knockout was impressive enough to convince Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum to bring him back in time for the undercard to Tyson Fury’s heavyweight battle:

“He is Mexican—he’s proud to be Mexican. Sept. 14 is Mexican Independence Day weekend and the best fighter in Mexico will be there defending his title,” unabashedly promoting his man.

Navarrete was locked and loaded from the onset. His massive 72-inch reach—compared to De Vaca’s 65”—was scary as ever. The challenger got a taste of it in the opening round. But it was in Round 2 where those freakish arms began oscillating from every angle.

The Mexican champion did a great job interchanging uppercuts—an uppercut, always the bigger man’s ideal punch. Even when De Vaca dug deep for short spurts, forcing Navarrete backwards, the taller puncher would sling left uppercuts from seemingly the opposite corner of the ring.

Then under 30 seconds left in the second period, Navarrete dropped De Vaca at the end of a three-punch combo: back-to-back uppercuts followed by a short, crisp right hand.

De Vaca to his credit got up and looked for a scrap in the fateful third inning. But more punishment was all he had to look forward to. Navarrete hurled his weight into long hooks—windmills that would make another heavyweight champion jealous. Punched into the ropes, a verbal warning from the referee could be heard to the backdrop of a stream of punches clinking off De Vaca’s dome.

Never short on heart, De Vaca did take himself off the ropes of a moment or two. But was back on the defensive as Navarrete’s punches refused to let up. Blood permeating along De Vaca’s face, his hands falling, tension rising as a result of a deadly summer in boxing, referee Caiz Jr. waved everything off 1:54 into the third round.

“I want to continue the tradition of Mexican boxing in L.A.” a beaming Navarrete said, celebrating punching in his second title defense. “I want to fill a lot of arenas.”

Next month, he will help fill a bustling T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with Fury fronting the bill.

After that? Bernando Osuna, for one, speculating on ESPN’s post-fight production Navarrete’s future at the super bantamweight limit, citing the champion’s enormous size and what seems to be a daunting weight cut.

For now however he is the best in the class.

Jesse Magdaleno (27-1, 18 KO) def. Rafael Rivera (27-4-2, 18 KO) via technical decision

The classic boxer-brawler mixup between Magdaleno and Rivera came to premature end in the ninth round when an elbow worsened a cut on Magdaleno’s nose that he acquired from a headbutt in the fourth period.

Judges Edward Hernandez and Fernando Villarreal scored the fight 89-81 and Zachary Young had it 88-82, all for Magdanelo.

Magdaleno ran rings around his opponent through the first three rounds, zinging punches up the middle between Rivera’s raised gloves.

Rivera turned the tide in the fourth round, biting down on his mouthpiece—barreling in in such a way that caused a gnarly headbutt—but closed the inning plugging away with right and left hooks.

The pressure continued in the fifth round. But Magdaleno’s feet were back under him for Round 6. And a left uppercut rattled Rivera in the sixth period. Magdaleno might have ended the show there if he didn’t get so overzealous pouring on wild punches.

It was a more sound attack from him in the first minute of the ninth round and a counter left hand put Rivera on the ground. Eventually a dazed attack from Rivera ended in an inadvertent elbow and referee Thomas Taylor again called time.

Consultation with the ringside physician spelled the end and Taylor sent the fight to the cards.

In the post-fight interview, Magdaleno summarized his night well.

“It’s just part of the sport, he’s an aggressive fighter,” he said. “This is boxing. I felt great. I felt strong. I felt better than ever. I took off the ring rust. We knew he was gonna come forward so we put our boxing shoes on and outboxed him.”

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Sosa and Gonzales Win in Philadelphia


By: Ken Hissner

On Saturday night the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia was the host site for a Top Rank Boxing, Raging Babe Events, and Peltz Boxing Promotions show on ESPN+. The card featured former super featherweight champion Jason Sosa back in Philadlephia for the first time since 2015. He moved up to the main event due to an injury suffered by 2-time world champion Carl “The Jackal” Frampton earlier in the week.

In the main event former WBA Super Featherweight champion Jason “El Canito” Sosa, 23-3-4 (16), 129, of Camden, NJ, stopped Lydell “Hackman” Rhodes, 27-4-1 (13), 130.9, of Las Vegas, NV, at 1:08 of the seventh round.

In the first round Sosa used all his know how as Rhodes did a lot of clinching. Sosa may have hurt Rhodes early making him run and grab. In the second round Sosa continued having his way while Rhodes gave top referee Benjy Esteves, Jr. plenty of work holding.

In the third round it was a big one for Sosa getting in numerous body shots mostly. In the final ten seconds the fans were yelling “Sosa, Sosa!” In the fourth round between getting held Sosa got in more than enough to take the round hurting Rhodes as the ten second left in the round signal went off with Sosa getting in a body shot. Half a minute later a chopping right from Sosa on the head of Rhodes and down he went for a second time. He beat the count of referee Esteves barely.

In the fifth round a vicious left on by Sosa on the chin of Rhodes and down he went barely beating the count of referee Esteves, Jr. In the sixth round Sosa suffered a cut from an accidental clash of heads by his left eye. He controlled the round with a vicious body attack.

In the seventh round referee Esteves, Jr. wisely stopped the beating Sosa was putting on an unwilling Rhodes when the latter’s corner signaled the end.

Featherweight 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist Cuban southpaw Robeisy “La Tren” Ramirez, 0-1 (0), 125, of Gulphport, FL, suffered a major upset losing in his debut to an outstanding performance by Adan Gonzales, 5-2-2 (2), 125.3, of Denver, CO, by split decision in 4 with a first round knockdown a big reason.

In the first round a chopping left hand on the chin from Gonzales dropped Ramirez for 8-count. of referee Gary Rosato. Ramirez came back well the remainder of the round. In the second round both boxers had their moments.

Gonzales has surprised the Olympic star showing him no respect and landing the lead right. Gonzales left uppercut has been his best punch so far.

In the third round it was back and forth with each boxer getting their licks in. Ramirez may have pulled it out. In the fourth and final round both had their moments with Ramirez twice rocking Gonzales who otherwise seemed to have an edge but Ramirez may have won the round but seemed to need a knockout.

Scores were David Braswell 38-37 Ramirez, Alan Rubenstein 39-36 Gonzales and Rose Lucenda 40-35 Gonzales. This writer had it 38-37 Gonzales. Gary Rosato was ref. “I won it and give Jesus Christ all the glory,” said Gonzales. In the winners corner was Donald and Juaquin Camarena and Steve Mestas.

Middleweight Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga, 12-0 (12), of Brooklyn, NY, 162.3, continued his first round stoppages at 2:24 of the first round over Gregory “Nounou” Trenel, 11-5-2 (3), 162.2, of Dainville, France, in a scheduled 8.

In the first round a right from Berlanga dropped a game Trenel. Upon rising from an 8-count by referee Benjy Esteves, Jr. Trenel was suffering too much punishment when the referee wisely halting the bout for Berlanga’s 12th straight first round ko.

Welterweight Olympian Paul “The Punisher” Kroll, 5-0 (4), 147.9, of Philadelphia, PA, defeated Shinard Bunch, 2-1 (2), 146.6, of Trenton, NJ, over 6 rounds.

In the first round of a very competitive round Kroll had an edge. In the second round Kroll fought southpaw as Bunch ran and grabbed with Kroll easily winning the round. In the third round Bunch landed a right to the chin of Kroll making him go back to orthodox. Kroll went on to control the round.

In the fourth round a Kroll 3-punch combination rocking Bunch against the ropes highlighted the round. In the fifth round Bunch did more holding getting in a couple shots to the chin of Kroll who had much too much ammo for Bunch who spent more time bending over. In the sixth and final round Kroll landed a 4-punch combination. Bunch in only his third fight should have never jumped into a 6 especially with a seasoned former amateur star like Kroll.

Scores 58-56 by Weisfeld and Braswell while Rubenstein had it 59-55 as did this writer.

Heavyweight prospect Sonny “The Bronco” Conto, 4-0 (3), 214.5, of South Philadelphia, PA, easily defeated Guillermo Del Rio, 2-3-1 (2), 225.5, of So. Houston, TX, over 4 rounds scoring a knockdown.

In the first round it was all the taller Conto teeing off on Del Rio with shots to the body and head hurting him once with a body shot. In the second and third rounds it was more of the same with Conto dominating a game Del Rio with vicious body work. In the fourth and final round Conto dropped Del Rio with a vicious left hook to the body for an 8-count from referee Esteves, Jr. Del Rio managed to be the first of young Conto’s 4 opponents to last the distance. “It was good for him to get some rounds in,” said Frank Conto.

All four judges and this writer had it 40-35. In the winner’s corner were trainer Mickey Rosati, cut-man Joey Eye and assistant Frank Conto. He’s signed with one of Boxing’s top managers David McWater who was at ringside.
Featherweight southpaw Donald “No Love” Smith, 10-0 (6), 126.5, of S.W. Philadelphia, PA, easily defeated Raheem “Bazooka” Abdullah, 3-3 (0), 124.6, of Colorado Springs CO, over 6 rounds.

In the first round within seconds a lead left from Smith on the chin and down went Abdullah for an 8-count from referee Rosato. The much shorter Abdullah managed to get through the round by covering up but not backing off Smith.
In the second round a lead left from Smith on the chin of Abdullah drove him into the ropes. Midway in the round Abdullah landed a lead overhand right on the chin of Smith. Smith ended the round with a combination to body and head of Abdullah.

In the third round a wild right on the chin from Abdullah made Smiths legs almost give in while in a corner. The rest of the round was interesting between the two with Abdullah pressing forward. In the fourth round midway with Smith doing as much coming forward so far a lead left to the body and following with a right hook to the chin was the most action of the round.

In the fifth round a low punch from Abdullah gave Smith a five minute rest. Referee Rosato deducted a point from Abdullah. When action resumed Smith was throwing more punches than previously in the fight. In the sixth and final round Abdullah ran around the ring content in going the distance with Smith landing some body shots.

Scores were 59-53 by LaRosa and Weisfeld while Rubenstein had it 60-52 as did this writer. Lamar Smith worked corner of Smith.

Super Bantamweight southpaw Jeremy “Majic Hands” Adorno, 2-0 (1), 121.9, of Allentown, PA, stopped Fernando Robles, 2-2 (0), 121, of Pearland, TX, at 2:01 of the third in a 4 rounder.

In the first round it was all Adorno moving around the ring like a veteran boxer controlling with his jab and lead left to the mid-section of Robles who may not have landed a punch.

In the second round Adorno landed a double left to the chin of Robles a minute into the round. Adorno was landing on the chin with both hands. In the final ten seconds Robles landed several body shots.

In the third round after half a minute Adrono went inside and got hit in the eye making him blink repeatably. He then shook it off and continued his attack once he stopped moving. His speed of foot and hanld are to quick for Robles. Adorno was warned by referee Esteves, Jr. about using a straight arm. Before you knew it a wicked right hook ro the body of Robles for the full count. Can’t say Robles didn’t make an effort but Adorno is following in his brother Joseph’s footsteps at this point. It was quite a performancee by the young Adorno. His father-trainer Anibal was in the corner.

Ring Announcer in the preliminaries was Lupe Contreras. Jimmy Lennon did the ESPN+ final 3 fights. Timekeeper Fred Blumsteien.

Top Rank IBHOF team of Lee Samuels and Bruce Trampler were working the show in attendance.
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Fight Preview: Sosa vs. Rhodes, Berlanga vs. Trenel


By: William Holmes

On Saturday night Top Rank Promotions will partner with Peltz Boxing Promotions to put on an event at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The main event was originally scheduled to be a featherweight fight between Emmanuel Dominguez and Carl”The Jackal” Frampton, but a freak accident caused a facture in the left hand of Carl Frampton, and that fight had to be scrapped.

The junior lightweight fight between Jason Sosa and Haskell Lydell Rhodes was elevated to main event status and the co-main event will be between Edgar Berlanga and Gregory Trenel in the middleweight division.

Other boxers on the undercard include two time Cuban Olympic Gold Medalist Robeisy Ramirez, as well as prospects Paul Kroll, Donald Smith, and heavyweight Sonny Conto.

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

Edgar Berlanga (11-0) vs. Gregory Trenel (11-4-2); Middleweights

It should probably be noted again that this fight was bumped up to co-main event status after Carl Frampton broke his left hand.

Berlanga is a 6’1 prospect from New York that has stopped every opponent he has faced at this point in his career. He’s a tall middleweight at 6’1 and took second place several times at the National Police Athletic League as an amateur.

Trenel doesn’t have any notable amateur experience. He’s 28 years old and only has three stoppage wins. He has never been stopped in defeat, but has losses to Vincenzo Bevilacqua. Mickael Sanches, Christopher Guedes, and Karim Hayani. None of those boxers are very well known.

Both boxers have been fairly active the past two years. Berlanga fought twice in 2019 and three times in 2018. Trenel fought once in 2019 and three times in 2018. However, Trenel has never fought in the United States before and the combined record of his past two opponents was 13-55-2.

This fight should be a blowout. Anything less than a stoppage victory for Berlanga would be considered disappointing.

Jason Sosa (22-3-4) vs. Haskell Lydell Rhodes (27-3-1); Junior Lightweights

Jason Sosa is a Camden native that formerly held the WBA Super Featherweight Title. He’ll likely have a large contingent of supportive fans in attendance since Camden is a short trip from Philadelphia.

Sosa is the same age as his opponent and will be giving up about two and a half inches in reach but will have an inch height advantage. Both Sosa and Rhodes have not been very active the past two years. Sosa only fought once in 2019 and once in 2018. Rhodes fought three times in 2018, but zero times in 2019 and zero times in 2017.

Neither boxer has an extensive amateur background.

Sosa has gone 2-2 in his past four fights, but two of his losses were to big time opponents. He has losses to Yuriorkis Gamboa and Vasiliy Lomachenko. He also has a loss early in his career to Tre’Sean Wiggins. He has a majority draw with Nicholas Walters and has defeated the likes of Reynaldo Blanco, Stephen Smith, and Javier Fortuna.

Fortuna was the biggest win of his career and he win the WBA Super Featherweight Title in that fight.

Rhodes has losses to Omar Douglas, Edner Cherry, and Sergey Lipinets. His notable wins were against Miguel Huerta, John Nater, and Yakubu Amidu. Rhodes briefly competed in MMA.

Sosa has to be considered a favorite, but Rhodes is a live underdog. The home field advantage should help Sosa on his way to victory.

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ESPN+ Boxing Preview: Conlan vs. Ruiz


By: Oliver McManus

Saturday night sees boxing return to Falls Park for only the second time ever with Michael Conlan the man responsible for bringing verve back to the unique venue. Belfast’s featherweight has become more accustomed to soaking New York arenas in Irish emerald since turning professional but August 3rd will be his third fight in the UK in just over a year.

The event was announced back in May with Conlan set to seek redemption against, his Rio Olympics adversary, Vladmir Nikitn but the Russian was forced to withdraw towards the back end of June. With that pull-out seems to be an end to the once embittered rivalry between the two with Conlan (11-0) looking to pull ahead of his Top Rank stablemate (who has had just three professional fights). In stepped Diego Alberto Ruiz, 21-2, on around about five weeks notice and the Argentine can be expected to pose some wiley questions of Conlan.

Ruiz has spent most of his career in the stairwell of the South American bantamweight division – having been WBC Latino and Argentinian champion at that weight – but gained similar levels of success at super bantamweight over the course of 2018. The move to featherweight is a relatively fresh one with the 25 year old only having one previous contest at the weight: a 10 rounder in June in which he looked cagey against Luis Emanuel Cusolito.

From the available footage of his fights he has shown a reluctance to adapt to the style of his opponent and often seeks to fight in a cat and mouse style; frequently playing possum with a tight guard, left hand firmly against the ear, to try and land some counter attacks. That game plan worked particularly well against Diego Pichardo in the middle portions of their contests but likely not against his upcoming opponent.

Conlan, now a professional for two and a half years, is at the point where he can really think about pushing forward and searching for world level fights. Since making his debut, against Tim Ibarra, the Irishman has looked untouchable against his current calibre of opponents and has been in cruise control. He has gone on record as saying he prefers to fight in the face of someone looking to apply pressure and it’s unfortunate that his opponents have shrunk into themselves upon the start of the fight.

Against Ruiz you imagine that Conlan will have to do much of the busy work and look to force openings against an opponent happy to wait it out round after round. The patience and restrain that Conlan has shown in dealing with such tasks hopefully will go out of the window with an eye catching performance in front of an electric home crowd. We know Conlan is good but a reminder never hurts and what better occasion than Saturday night to go footloose and fancy free?

The co-main event sees Chris Jenkins defend his British welterweight title against Paddy Gallagher; the vacant Commonwealth strap is also at stake. Jenkins, born in Swansea, claimed the title with a silky out-pointing and out-classing of Johnny Garton in March but has been out of action since due to a slight hand injury. Gallagher, meanwhile, was meant to face Gary Corcoran in an eliminator last June before cracking his jaw. The Belfast welterweight has subsequently been in action on four occasions with wins against Jay Byrne, Fernando Valencia and Liam Wells and a sole loss to Freddy Kiwitt.

Since stepping up from super lightweight, where he had fought for six years, Jenkins has found a new lease of life at welterweight with the additional seven pounds proving to be, ironically, a weight off his shoulders. The contest against Garton saw a particular penchant for a peppering overhand right that repeatedly caught the defending Champion off guard. He fought to a smooth game plan in a contest that many expected to turn into a fire-fight but ended up being a methodical victory for the Welshman.

His challenger will be in a similar situation to that of Jenkins on March 8th with a clear understanding that this, realistically, might be his last opportunity to fight for the British title. The 30 year old has shown himself capable of fighting to a controlled tempo throughout a contest but has produced a killer instinct in his fights as of late. Against Liam Wells there was a gulf in class between the two men and Gallagher was eager to put the contest to bed in emphatic fashion. The only blip in the last twelve months came against Kiwitt in which Gallagher hit the canvas on two occasions – knockdowns that proved to be the deciding factor in the contest.

A fight between two of the nicest guys in British boxing for the nicest belt in all of boxing – it should be a cracker.

Of course the focus, rightly, will be on the man of the moment in Belfast boxing – nicknamed ‘Four Murals Conlan’ by Sean McComb, who also fights on the undercard – Michael Conlan as he brings the twelfth stage of The Conlan Revolution to Falls Park for a wonderfully unique boxing event. Watch it all exclusively live on ESPN+ in the United States and BT Sport in the United Kingdom.

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Jose Ramirez Unifies Belts with TKO over Maurice Hooker


By Robert Aaron Contreras

WBC, nay, unified junior welterweight champion Jose Carlos Ramirez is the hottest fighter in the division following a thrilling Saturday night at the College Parker Center in Arlington, Texas, his opponent Maurice Hooker’s de-facto hometown. Ramirez snatched Hooker’s WBO belt with a knockout flurry in the sixth round.

Ramirez (25-0, 17 KO) showed no qualms about traveling from California to Texas. Nor did he when Hooker (26-1-3, 17 KO) nearly spun his head around with check hooks and jolting jabs. The newly-unified beltholder fought through his opponent’s reach advantage, working his patented one-two combination thoroughly and consistently until finally he found his moment to take out Hooker.

“I threw that one-two that works perfectly for me,” Ramirez said after the fight. “He landed some good shots. But real champions always have faith in themselves. I was here with one mission: to be the unified champion of the world.”

Ramirez looked every bit like a man on a mission to open the title tilt. The center of the ring immediately belonged to him and Hooker was soon stumbling backwards from quick flurries. Hooker did straighten out his lengthy jab. But Ramirez stepped on his foot that again caused the taller man lose his balance and hit the deck.

Referee Mark Nelson, at the merciless command of watching a fight in realtime with no replay, called a knockdown. Ramirez at least affirmed the round in his favor by closing the period slipping Hooker’s long arms and stuffing short, straight left hands into his opponent.

In Round 2, Ramirez tried jabbing his way in. But Hooker sat back, relying on his incredible size, and spearing elongated right hands through Ramirez’s guard and occasionally circling out and away to his left with check hooks.

The momentum though was again in Ramirez’s corner in the final minute when he finally pinned his man to the ropes. With Hooker’s back stuck there, Ramirez pressed his weight onto his championship counterpart for leverage and pitched overhand shots to the head.

Ramirez’s navigation looked a little different in the third stanza. Instead of driving forward, the WBC champ shot quick punches upstairs and sidestepped to either side of Hooker. The movement did not stop Hooker from stunning him with chopping right hands in the waning moments of the round… or the chippy punches that ensued after the bell.

Ramirez caught Hooker’s attention in the fourth frame: jab upstairs, left hook to the liver and right back upstairs with a left hook. From there the round reached its symposium of violence, more chippy action resulting in blistering, two-way action.

In Round 5, Hooker’s jab was as daunting as ever—his 80-inch reach longer than many standout heavyweights—but complimented the punch with interchanging checkmark-shaped uppercuts. Ramirez also found moments of success, chasing Hooker down, crashing punches into his man’s raised gloves. Not every punch landed cleanly but it was pouring on enough to prevent any return from Hooker, whose long arms became obsolete in close quarters.

But what a round it was, the crowd worked their way into the broadcast when Hooker turned his focus to Ramirez’s midsection.

Both men traded jabs in the fateful, sixth period. Less frenetic than the round before, the pace could not have lulled Hooker to sleep but the left hand that clipped him with under two minutes to go nearly did. Hooker was visibly hurt and Ramirez pounced with 10 unanswered shots. Referee Nelson had no choice but to call an end to the title fight as Hooker’s eyes basically rolled to the back of his head.

According to CompuBox, Ramirez landed 99 of 414 total punches (24 percent) and Hooker actually connected on 129 of 360 (36 percent).

DAZN correspondent Chris Mannix asked Ramirez if he had his eyes and heart on unifying even more belts when they become available following the proposed Regis Prograis vs. Josh Taylor WBSS finale.

“Of course, those are the top guys,” Ramirez answered. “I want to get all the titles—that’s my goal.”

Tevin Farmer def. Guillaume Frenois by unanimous decision

Farmer cruised to another successful title defense—and cruise is certainly the right word. He was extended the entire 12-round distance by his challenger Frenois, of France. And for the second time in a row the American world champion took the last couple rounds off. In the end the judges still awarded Farmer the fight on scores of 116-111, 116-111 and 119-108.

A big speed advantage was quickly realized by Farmer, leading Frenois around early on. Frenois opened up in the third. But the defending champion was back on top over the next couple rounds.

In Round 6, Farmer would be warned for a blow that strayed way below the belt. It could not have happened at a worst time for the challenger as it was Frenois’ best round so far. Another low blow occurred in the tenth period and referee Mark Calo-oy couldn’t let it go, deducting the American a point.

The foul did nothing to convince Farmer to close out the show emphatically. For in the final stages, Frenois clipped his man with multiple left hooks and conceivably stole the final three rounds. In the end, it did not matter.

A glance at CompuBox suggests the right man won. Farmer landed 167 of 636 total punches (26 percent) while Frenois connected on 75 of 425 total punches (18 percent).

In the post-fight interview, Farmer summed up his performance before eluding to why he let off the gas across the finish line.

“I came out here and did what I had to do,” Farmer said. “My hands are always messed up. I come in here and I win and I keep winning.

“I don’t care about the crowd,” Farmer continued as Frenois could be seen in the backdrop, propped up on the corner post to draw cheers from the Texas audience. “You going to love me or you going to hate me. My speed and my IQ won the fight,” Farmed concluded.

When asked of the possibility of unifying his belt with WBA belt holder Gervonta Davis, Farmer took the opportunity to set the record straight and express the plans he has in mind for his career.

“Eddie Hearn has sent [Davis] multiple offers,” Farmer said. “I want all the champions out there. But if I can’t make those fights, give me JoJo Diaz.”

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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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Stevenson Easily Dispatches Guevara, Greer Skates by Potapov


By: William Holmes

The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey was the host site for tonight’s Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Card.

The undercard was streamed on ESPN+ and the telecast started off with a an IBF Bantam Weight Eliminator between Joshua Greer Jr. (20-1-1) and Nikolai Potapov (20-1-1).

This fight started off slower, with both boxers feeling each other and Potapov using his height to his advantage with sharply timed counters. Greer appeared to have trouble getting to his offense in the second round, and was slightly outlanded by Potapov by the third round.

Greer kept his feet moving in the fourth round and looked like he was gaining confidence and throwing more punches. Greer kept up the high pace in the fifth round and had outlanded Potapov 51-36 punches by this round. Greer was able to land several clear shots to the body.

Potapov was able to land a few good punches in the sixth round, but Greer was still picking off most of Potapov’s punches. Potapov was the aggressor in the seventh round and landed several good straight right hands in the center of the ring.

Potapov looked like he wasn’t deterred by Greer’s alleged power in the eight round and was landing good counters and punches in bunches. The ninth round was close, but Greer was the fighter that was pressing forward.

By the tenth round the fight was still up for grabs, and Greer appeared to hurt Potapov with body shots in this round.

Greer’s corner stressed the importance of winning the final two rounds in order to win the fight, and he appeared to listen to his corner and pressed the action while looking for the knockout.

His late fight surge appeared to have been just enough. The judges scored it 114-114, 116-112, and 115-113 for Joshua Greer Jr.


Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Boxing

The main event of the night was between Shakur Stevenson (11-0) and Alberto Guevara (27-4) for the NABO Featherweight Title.

Guevara has had great success in Mexico, but little to none outside of it.

Guevara took the fight on short notice and didn’t look like he was in the best of shape. Stevenson opened up the first with a good lead right hook and was pressuring Guevara from corner to corner. Guevara looked scared to exchange with Guevara and spent most of the opening round on his bike.

Guevara was chased again by Stevenson in the second round and took several had punches to the body. One body led to a knockdown, but Guevara was able to get back to his feet. He was pursued by Stevenson again until Stevenson landed a right to the chin of Guevara and sent him down for a second time in the second round.

Stevenson continued to hunt down Guevara in the third round, but landed a left hand below the belt on Guevara and the referee gave Guevara time to recuperate. The fight restarted and Stevenson immediately went on the attack and had Guevara off balance. Stevenson sends Guevara down for the third time in the fight with a combination to the head.

Guevara meekly attempted to get up at the count of nine, but he was badly out matched, and the referee waived off the fight.

Shakur Stevenson wins by KO at 2:37 of the third round.

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Shakur Stevenson vs. Alberto Guevara Fight Preview


By: Sean Crose

Rising featherweight Shakur Stevenson, the 16-0 undefeated New Jersey native, will be fighting in front of a hometown crowd on Saturday night when he faces the 27-4 Alberto Guevara at Newark’s Prudential Center. The televised portion of the Top Rank Card will be aired live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10:30 Eastern Standard Time. This will be Stevenson’s third fight in 2019, giving proof to the assertion that it’s hoped he rises quickly through the ranks.


Stevenson stopped Jessie Cris Rosales in January in Verona, New York, and then earned a unanimous decision win over Christopher Diaz in Madison Square Garden this past April on the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan undercard.

Guevara, of California by way of Mexico, was last seen on the ring this past January, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Hugo Ruiz. In truth, the 28 year old is a last minute replacement opponent for Stevenson. The former Olympian was first supposed to face Franklin Manzanilla, but Manzanilla had to step away from the bout. That left an opportunity for Guevara, who has fought twice for a world bantamweight title, to step in. Guevara’s most notable opponent to date has been Leo Santa Cruz, who Guervara lost a close fight to via unanimous decision back in 2012.

This will be the first time Stevenson is fighting as a pro in his hometown. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka was on hand this week to show his support for the local standout who earned himself an Olympic Silver medal in 2016. Since that time, the 22 year old has made himself one of the top names at featherweight. He’s also shown a more ferocious side lately, as when he unloaded a brutal body attack on Diaz last spring. Now Stevenson finds himself ranked as the number one WBO featherweight contender, although he’s been noted for not having real flash in an era of over the top personalities. As ESPNs Mark Kriegel recently put it, Stevenson “merely looks like a good guy in a sport that celebrates bad boys.”

Aside from Stevenson-Guevara, Saturday’s televised card will also present a bantamweight bout between the 20-1-1Joshua Greer Jr of Chicago, and the 20-1-1 Nikolai Potapov of Brooklyn, by way of Russia. The fight is scheduled for 12 rounds and will be an IBF world title eliminator. Greer’s last bout was a knockout victory over Giovanni Eascaner last February in Hinckley, Minnesota. Potapov was last seen retiring Adam Mgeba in Russia this past March. Needless to say, Saturday presents a huge opportunity for both fighters.

The televised portion of Saturday’s card will feature Top Rank’s go-to team on ESPN. Aside from Kriegel, there’s former welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley on hand to call the fights, along with former super middleweight and light heavyweight titlist Andre Ward, Joe Tessitore and Bernardo Osuna. Besides being televised, the card can also be streamed on the ESPN App, which will be showcasing the undercard, along with ESPN+. Expect Stevenson to be built up aggressively during the broadcast, as Top Rank and ESPN are clearly hoping the young fighter can attain true stardom.

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Brant vs. Murata II Final Showdown?


By: Shane Willoughby

Boxing has been on a rise and has been gaining a lot of global attraction however this week is proof that boxing is a sport loved worldwide.

Now whilst most eyes will be on the shows taking place in the UK and America; Matchroom is in Italy, King Khan is with the Arabs and is Arum is co-promoting a show in Japan on the 12th July.

Now whether he will be there or not is a different matter, but the event is definitely not worth missing, especially the main event.

The eagerly anticipated rematch between Rob Brant and Ryota Murata is finally here. If the first fight is anything to go by then expect fireworks.

For those who aren’t quite familiar with Murata, there are 2 things you need to know. Firstly, the kid can punch. Lastly, he doesn’t back down from a war.

From the start until the end he will be looking to land punishing punches. Whilst Brant does have better skills and is technically the better boxer, can he go 12 rounds without avoiding many exchanges.

Well, the obvious answer will be yes. As he was able to pick up the victory in the first fight. But not without receiving his fair share of damage. However, the circumstances are different.

Brant will be in front of Murata’s home crowd. How does he deal with the pressure, not just in the ring but outside?

Either way, it will be a great spectacle and for all those in attendance, they will see an extremely competitive fight that will most likely go the distance.

Most are expecting Brant to win as he is by far the better boxer but I do expect a lot of turbulence on the way.

One thing that Brant must be thinking is, how will the judges score the fight if it’s close? Will Murata get a favourable decision?

Another fight on the card is WBC light Flyweight champion Ken Shiro looking to make his 7th consecutive defence of his belt.

Shiro will also be in front of a home crowd and one thing for certain is, if this fight goes the distance, the announcers will be saying, ‘and still’.

There is no way Shiro will lose on points. Not saying his opponent Taconing isn’t a game fighter, neither am I implying the judges will have a bias.

But to outwork Shiro other 12 rounds is a near-impossible task. Shiro is a work-horse, who doesn’t stop throwing until he hears the final bell.

For anyone watching on T.V, count how many punches he throws each round. He has a tremendous engine.

But you never know, Taconing could land a good shot and put Shiro to sleep, but if not his chances of victory are very slim.

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Commey Eyeing Up Big Fights After 8th Round Stoppage


By: Shane Willoughby

Richard Commey retains his IBF lightweight title against Raymundo Beltran with an impressive stoppage.

Commey came to show off his skills and he put on a fantastic exhibition. Beltran, like expected, came for a war and tried to make the fight messy but Commey’ s movement was way too much for him.

It’s not that the Champion was running but his footwork was very smart, whilst keeping his jab in the Mexicans face. But Beltran did get a little bit of success, swelling Commey’ s left eye.

Other than that, it was a one-horse race and Commey was really punishing the former champion with quick combinations. It was only a matter of time before he ended the fight.

Funny enough the 8th round was one of Beltran’s best rounds – he was able to get in range to land his shots. Unfortunately for him, he was also in range to get knocked down.

Commey landed a terrific check left hook, dropping Beltran to the canvas. He was able to return to his feet but was in no state to continue and the referee pulled the plug on Beltran’s hopes of becoming a world champion again.

Richard Commey put on a punch-perfect display and is definitely in line for a massive fight this year and possibly an undisputed fight with Lomachencko.

Another fight on the card was between Carlos Adames and Patrick Day. From the 1st round, it was clear to see that Day had much better boxing fundamentals.

Round after round he was landing punches and making Adames miss with his jab but what was also clear, was he couldn’t hurt the Adames. It could be because Adames has great punch resistance but you get the impression Day has limited punching power

6 knockouts in 20 fights is a fair indication that you can’t really punch. He was landing great combinations on the inside but Adames with the high guard was just soaking it up.

Adames makes a similar mistake to Golovkin and Spence Jr. When his opponent throws combinations he puts up the high guard, lets them punch and tries to catch them on the way out. That is a very tricky skill to perfect because if you don’t land that single shot, you lose the exchange.

The Dominican does have power and he was looking to land power shots all night long. But his ability to set up punches was more than questionable. At times he couldn’t land a jab on a stationary target.

His punch power is real but his boxing intelligence is below par. Yes, Patrick Day was moving quite a bit but his footwork is far from a Pernell Whittaker and Adames was falling short quite a lot, especially in the early rounds.

If only Day knew how to throw punches on the move he would have caused Adames some problems. But the fight went as most expected. Adames eased his was to a points victory.

But there were a great number of holes exposed in Adames performance. Any fighter with decent power but good lateral movement will school this kid. It’s a good thing Andrade made that jump to 160 because Adames wouldn’t win a round against him.

When you match two Mexicans against each other it’s always a war. Saul Rodriguez vs Miguel Gonzalez was no exception. The bell rang and they swung.

Within 10 seconds Saul Rodriguez was floored with a beautiful left hook. The pre-fight favourite definitely was hurt by that shot but was able to return to his feet.

It was clear to see what was going on. Gonzalez was way more experienced in those situations. Whilst Rodriguez is older, Gonzalez has clearly been battle hardened. Fighting tougher opponents may have resulted in him losing 4 times, but he knows exactly what not to do in exchanges.

Rodriguez was way to green. Making schoolboy mistakes like trading with his chin in the sky. Big mistake! He was getting hit way too easily.

Whilst Neno was showing good effort coming forward, Gonzalez was making veteran moves; just waiting to catch and counter with that left.

He didn’t have to wait long; in the 3rd round, he caught Rodriguez with a fantastic short left hook and had Gonzalez out for the counter. Knock out of the year candidate?

If you watch that exchange it is identical to how Dillian Whyte knocked Dereck Chisora out last year. Both trading left hooks but, when one hook is wider than the other, the shorter shot lands. One fighter with his chin in the air and bang! One punch Knockout.

Very strong performance from Miguel Gonzalez, fighting “Mexican style” whilst displaying very good ring intelligence.

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Tyson Fury’s Test


By: Hans Themistode

Life is filled with tests isn’t it? You never know exactly when they are going to come, but you know they are heading your way. The biggest names amongst boxings Heavyweight division are being bombarded with a slew of tests.

WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 40 KOs) was given the first exam. It came in the shape of number one contender Dominic Breazeale (20-1, 18 KOs). With the bad blood these two shared there was no doubt that this would be a difficult assignment for Wilder. Think again. The WBC champion aced his exam with an impressive first round knockout. It was a jaw dropping performance for Tuscaloosa native.

On June 1st, it was unified Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s (22-1, 21 KOs) turn to deal with his own exam. His seemed like an easy one. The once beaten Andy Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) was a tough and rugged competitor, but not someone who was given much of a chance at pulling off the upset. It was a matter of how Joshua would win, as opposed to if he would win. With his Heavyweight rival Deontay Wilder putting on such an impressive performance, Joshua needed to follow that up with his own dominant showing.

To the surprise of many, Joshua failed his test. Ruiz did not simply win, but he flat out dismantled the now former unified champion. Joshua would hit the deck a total of four times before succumbing to his adversary in the seventh round.

Two tests down, and one to go. Last but certainly not least, is Lineal Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs). On Saturday night June 15th, he will have his exam placed in front of him. Tom Schwarz (24-0, 16 KOs) will look to create his own monumental upset in Las Vegas, Nevada.

There is an incredible amount of pressure on the shoulders of Fury coming into this contest. On paper, this is a contest that Fury should win with ease. However, as boxing has shown as time and time again, nothing happens quite how it should.

Deontay Wilder asserted his dominance when faced with his own test, while Anthony Joshua failed his miserably.

The world will have its eyes set upon Tyson Fury and Tom Schwarz. This final exam will bring us one step closer too revealing who truly is the king of the Heavyweight division.

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ESPN Boxing Preview: Ito vs. Herring, Pedraza vs. Lozada


By: William Holmes

On Saturday night the Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida will be the host site of Top Rank Promotions latest boxing card to be televised on ESPN. Masayuki Ito will defend his WBO Junior lightweight title against Jamel Herring, a former US Olympic team member.

The co-feature of the night will also be a lightweight bout with possible future title implications. Former champion Jose Pedraza will face Antonio Lozada in the co-main event.

The undercard will feature several prospects such as Adam Lopez, Jean Carlos Rivera, Jeyvier Cintron, Koki Eto, Steve Nelson, and Yomar Alamo.

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

Jose Pedraza (25-2) vs. Antonio Lozada (40-2-1); Lightweight Division

Jose Pedraza’s two losses came against two of the best fighters in the lightweight division, Vasily Lomachenko by decision and a TKO loss to Gervonta Davis.

Lozada’s two losses came against fighters not as well known as Lomachenko and Davis. He lost to Roberto Ortiz and Ramiro Alcaraz, though he avenged the Alcaraz loss in a rematch.

Pedraza is thirty years old and one year older than Lozada. Pedraza will be giving up two inches in height to Lozada, and will be giving up an edge in power. Pedraza has only stopped twelve of his opponent and his last five wins were by decision. Lozada however has stopped thirty four of his opponents.

Both boxers have been relatively active recently. Pedraza fought four times in 2018 and only once in 2017. Lozada fought three times in 2018 and twice in 2017.

Pedraza has a clear edge in amateur experience as he competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Pedraza has beatedn the likes of Raymundo Beltran, Antonio Moran, Stephen Smith, Edner Cherry, Andrey Klimov, Michael Farenas, and Tevin Farmer.

Lozada’s biggest win to date was an upset TKO victory of the then undefeated Felix Verdejo. He has no other notable wins.

Lozada’s win over Verdejo has given him some notoriety and allowed him to land this fight, but he will be facing a far more experienced and skilled opponent on Saturday. Lozada has the power to pull off an upset victory but on paper it appears unlikely.

But outside of those two boxers Pedraza is one of the best fighters in the lightweight division.

Masayuki Ito (25-1-1) vs. Jamel Herring (19-2); WBO Junior Lightweight Title

Ito is a bit of an unknown in the Unite States, out of 27 fights he has only fought once outside of Japan, and that was when he won the WBO Junior Lightweight Title.

Ito is only 28 years old, five years younger than Herring. However, he will be giving up about an inch and a half in height but will have a half an inch advantage in reach. Both boxers have been fairly active, with both of them fighting three times in 2018 and twice in 2017.

Neither boxer is known for their power. Ito has stopped thirteen of his opponents while Herring has stopped ten of his opponents. However, Ito has stopped four of his past five opponents.

Herring does have an edge in amateur experience, as he competed for the United States in the 2012 Olympic Games.

Ito has defeated the likes of Evgeny Chuprakov, Christopher Diaz, Lorenzo Villanueva, and Takuya Watanabe. His lone loss was to Rikki Naito.

Herring has defeated the likes of John Vincent Moralde, Art Hovhannisyan, and Luis Eduardo Florez. His losses were to Ladarius Miller and Denis Shafikov.

This should be a good fight, but Ito’s technical expertise should overwhelm the two loss Herring.

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Berchelt and Navarrete Win their Rematches


By: William Holmes

The Tuscon Arena in Tuscon, Arizona was the host site for tonight’s Top Rank Promotions boxing card televised live on ESPN.

Two world title rematches were on display Emanuel Navarrete took on Isaac Dogboe for the WBO Junior Featherweight Title in the co-main event of the night and Miguel Berchelt faced Francisco Vargas for the WBC Junior Lightweight Title.

The opening bout of the broadcast was between Isaac Dogboe (20-1) and Emanuel Navarrete (26-1) for the WBO Junior Featherweight Title . Their last bout ended in an upset victory for Emanuel Navarrete.

Navarrete height and reach advantage was obvious early on as he went to work with his jab and short combinations. Navarrete slipped to the mat in the opening round, but was able to win the early rounds with his movement and combinations. A left upcut by Navarrete had Dogboe slightly rocked in the second round.

Dogboe came out charging in the third round, but Navarrete was able to stop that momentum with a sharp left uppercut that left Dogboe with shaky legs. Dogboe would start off strong in the opening minute of the fourth and fifth rounds, but Navarrete would have Dogboe hurt by the end of the round with his reach and power.

Navarrete scored a knockdown in the sixth round when a combination from him had Dogboe falling backwards in the the ropes. Dogboe continued to take a beating into the ninth round, but showed tremendous heart as he attempted to stay in the fight.

Isaac Dogboe’s corner, with his father as the lead trainer, threatened to stop the fight in the tenth round but sent Dogboe out to continue fighting anyway. The uppercuts of Navarrete continued to snap the head of Dogboe backwards and Dogboe needed a knockout in the final round in order to secure a win.

However, Navarrete continued pound on Dogboe in the final round and scored another knockdown. Dogboe got back up to his feet but on wobbly legs, and his father correctly decided to throw in the towel and stop his son from receiving further punishment.

Navarrete wins by TKO at 2:02 of the twelfth and final round.

The main event of the evening was between Miguel Berchelt (35-1) and Francisco Vargas (25-1-2) for the WBC Junior Lightweight Title .

Berchelt and Vargas last fought two years ago, with Berchelt coming out on top.

Berchelt showed good hand early on and was crisp with his combinations. Vargas was coming forward and did land some good overhand rights, but Berchelt was landing at a higher rate. Berchelt did get warned twice for low blows in the first.

Berchelt was landing some heavy lead left hooks in the second despite being warned for low blows again. There were some fierce exchanges in the second, but Berchelt was getting the better of Vargas.

Berchelt’s double left hook to the body and head were landing in the third, though Vargas did connect with a good combinations after Berchelt turned to the referee to complain about a low blow landing on him. Vargas was warned bout using his head in the third from the referee.

Vargas had blood coming from his nose going into the fourth round and he got tagged several times with eye combinations in the fourth. Vargas had his best round of the night in the fifth as he continued to come forward and at one point had Berchelt in some trouble by the ropes, but even that round was could have been scored either way.

Berchelt had a dominating sixth round as he loaded up on his shots to the body and head. Vargas looked like he was close to going down in the sixth, but he was able to stay on his feet, though he looked beaten both mentally and physically.

The corner of Francisco Vargas didn’t like what they saw from Vargas and stopped the fight before the start of the seventh.

Miguel Berchelt wins by TKO at the end of the sixth round.

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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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Beterbiev, Ancajas Win In Stockton, Flores Impresses


By: Sean Crose

IBF light heavyweight champ, and undefeated knockout king Artur Beterbiev, 13-0, defended his belt against the 24-1 Radivoje Kalajdzic Saturday night in a Stockton, California card that was aired live on ESPN. First up on the televised broadcast, the 30-1-2 Jerwin Ancajas defended his IBF super flyweight strap against the 31-7 Ryuichi Funai. The first round was a relatively close affair. The second saw Ancajas going to his man’s body, with both men exchanging fast, solid head shots. The third round had both men engaging in a high octane performance. Ancajas landed well, but Funai was most certainly in the fight.

Ancajas hurt Funai in the fourth, but the game challenger survived the round, and even managed to keep trading punches. To his credit, Funai stayed alive in the fifth – but was taking some sharp punching from the defending champion. The sixth saw Ancajas land one straight head shot after another. At the start of the seventh, the ring doctor wisely stopped the match, as Funai at that point was absorbing much punishment.

Next up, undefeated local lightweight Gabriel Flores, 12-0, faced off against Eduardo Reis, 23-5, in a scheduled six rounder. Flores started strong and looked sharp in the first. Flores came out in the second and ripped Reis’ body. To his credit, Reis showed enough defensive skill to effectively survive the round. It proved to be of little use. An absolutely thunderous left hook put Reis down and ended the night for the lightweight in the seventh.

It was time for the main event. Kalajdzic found Beterbiev going straight at him at the opening bell. He quickly adjusted, and both men took to maneuvering in order to dictate the tempo. Beterbiev began to assert himself in the second. The third round was a slug fest, with Beterbiev taking his man down – but not out – in the final minute. Round four was wild. Both men swung furiously, though Beterbiev was clearly the stronger of the two combatants. Beterbiev started banging away in the fifth. The fight was then smartly halted. Beterbiev improved his record to 13-0, all by stoppage, and was able to successfully hold onto his belt.

The light heavyweight division is now one of the more interesting weight realms in boxing, with all major titles being held by men who might all stack up competitively against one another. After emerging victorious on Saturday, Beterbiev indicated he was ready to collect more of the division’s major titles.

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