Top Rank Boxing Results: Rivas Stops Jennings in 12th
By: Ken Hissner
Bob Arum’s Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ featured two heavy hitters Friday in the heavyweight division at Turning Stone Resort & Casino, in Verona, NY, as Philadelphia’s Bryant “By-By” Jennings was upset in a close fight in the twelfth and final round by 2008 Olympian Colombian Oscar “Kaboom” Rivas. This bout waa for Jennings IBF International and the WBO NABO heavyweight titles.
In the Main Event Philadelphia’s Bryant “By-By” Jennings, 24-3 (14), was defeated by NABF champion Colombian Oscar “Kaboom” Rivas, 26-0 (18), out of Montreal, CAN, at 0:54 of the twelfth and final round.
In the first round it was Rivas coming forward with Jennings landing his jab.
Photo Credit Turning Stone Resort Casino
In the opening round Rivas landed a combination to the head of Jennings. Jennings countered with a left hook to the body of Rivas. Rivas with hands held high to block the jabs of Jennings who is much faster with hands and feet and an 84” reach. In the second round it was Jennings with hands held high and Rivas still coming forward going to the body. Both fighters exchanged left hooks to the head. Rivas landed a solid left hook to the body of Jennings. Rivas drove Jennings against the ropes with body shots. Rivas landed a hard left hook to the chin of Jennings at the bell.
In the third round Rivas came out throwing punches with determination to hurt Jennings. He landed a lead right between the gloves of Jennings. Jennings used his reach with a jab but not much coming from his right hand. In the fourth round Jennings came out with more behind his jab. Rivas landed a right uppercut to the chin of Jennings. Rivas put Jennings up against the ropes with combinations.
Jennings hasn’t shown anything more than a jab so far.
In the fifth round Rivas immediately went to the body. Jennings landed more punches with his jab but Rivas landed the power punches. Jennings kept moving using his jab and an occasional left hook to the body. In the sixth round Jennings finally opened up in the middle of the ring landing jabs and several rights to the chin of Rivas. Jennings landed a good left hook to the head of Rivas. Jennings led with a left hook followed by a right to the chin of Rivas. The movement of Jennings seemed to bother Rivas.
In the seventh round Rivas landed a triple jab with Jennings countering with a right to the chin. Rivas landed an overhand right to the chin of Jennings. Jennings came back with an overhand right to the head of his own. In the last 10 seconds of the round though pinned against the ropes it was Jennings landing punches.
In the eighth round Jennings landed five unanswered punches to the body and head of Rivas. Jennings was walking Rivas back until Rivas landed a right to the chin. Rivas landed a lead right to the body of Jennings. Jennings began to chase Rivas who seemed to be slowing down.
In the ninth round Rivas used his jab until a left hook from Jennings landed on his jaw. Rivas landed several punches to the body and head of Jennings. Both had their best exchange of the fight up to this point. It was a close round in a close fight. In the tenth round Rivas landed a 3-punch combination driving Jennings against the ropes. Rivas landed a straight right through the gloves of Jennings on the chin.
In the eleventh round Jennings landed a double left hook to the body and head of Rivas. Rivas got a warning from referee Gary Rosato about hitting behind the head. Rivas landed a solid overhand right to the jead of Jennings who came back with a right of his own.
In the twelfth and final round Rivas came out with a flurry of punches dropping Jennings. Rivas went on the attack having Jennings defenseless against the ropes with referee Rosato wisely stopping it.
This writer had it 6-5 in rounds for Rivas going into the last round. Two of the scorecards had it for Rivas.
“In the twelfth and final round my trainer Marc Ramsey told me how hard I worked in training running up the mountain. I figured out I needed the left hook to end this fight,” said Rivas.
“I’m a whole man now. Of course I’m disappointed. It is what it is,” said Jennings.
In the co-feature 21 year-old 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist No. 11 ranked IBF Super Featherweight southpaw Shakur “Fearless” Stevenson, 10-0 (6), out of Brick City, Newark, NJ, looked sensational stopping Jesse “Jimdomar” Cris “VIP” Morales, 22-2-1 (10), of Cebu City, in the Philippines, at 1:29 of the fourth round winning the vacant IBF Inter-Continental and vacant WBC Continental Americas featherweight titles.
In the first round Morales came forward with Stevenson using his jab. Stevenson lands a combination to the head of Morales. Stevenson lands a 3-punch combination to the head of Morales. Stevenson landed a flurry of punches without return. Morales hardly landed a punch thru the round. In the second round dedicating this fight to his cousin who passed away recently Stevenson is all business. Morales came forward walking into punch after punch. There was blood on the hair line of Morales. Stevenson has been punching at will. Morales has had some success going to the body but nothing to the head.
In the third round Stevenson drives Morales to the ropes with head punches. Morales had nothing to come back with. A left uppercut to the body hurt Morales. Morales came back with a right to the body. In the fourth round Morales comes out landed a right to the chin of Stevenson bringing a smile from the Olympian. Both fighters are going to the body as Stevenson drives Morales into the ropes and drops him with a left uppercut followed by a straight left to the chin. Referee Charlie Fitch gave him the 8 count but Morales was in no condition to continue as the fight is waved off as it should have been.
“I’m on the right track listening to my corner (grandfather). I want to go to the English side and fight there and fight Josh Warrington, 28-0 (6), for his IBF title,” said Stevenson. His promoter Bob Arum agreed.
Super Welterweight Dominican Carlos Adames, 16-0 (13), out of Washington Heights, NY, knocked out Venezuela’s Juan “El Nino” Ruiz, 21-4 (13), out of Tijuana, MEX, at 1:57 of the third round of a scheduled ten. The referee was Charlie Fitch.
Former WBA Super Featherweight champion now No. 6 by the WBC Jason “El Canito” Sosa, 22-3-4 (15), of Camden, NJ, in a brawl from bell to bell each scoring knockdowns defeated Moises “Gatti” Delgadillo, 18-19-2 (9), out of Guadalajara, MEX, over 10 rounds.
In the opening round Sosa kept coming forward but received a cut on the bridge of his nose halfway thru the round. This has been a real slugfest on both parts. In the second round Sosa landed a double left hook to the body and Delgadillo countering a left hook to the body. This could have been fought in a phone booth. No one tried slipping a punch. A left hook from Delgadillo had Sosa wobbling and down. Referee Gary Rosato gave him the 8 count as the bell sounded.
In the third round a right hand to the head of Sosa rocked him. Sosa came right back slipping a punch landing a left hook causing swelling under the left eye of Delgadillo. They matched punch for punch throughout the entire three rounds. In the fourth round Sosa starts out moving around becoming the counter puncher until he got hit causing him to return to the slugfest. There have been few jabs. The fans are loving it. Sosa finally back Delgadillo up with a flurry of punches. One of the rare clinches for the referee seconds before the bell sounded. You can throw out the record of Delgadillo in this one.
In the fifth round Sosa starts out with a left hook followed by a double jab to the haw of Delgadillo. Sosa lands a lead right to the chin of Delgadillo. They exchanged left hooks to the head. Delgadillo was warned for a low left hook. In the sixth round Delgadillo landed a 4-punch combination to the body and head of Sosa. There have been few misses in this one. Sosa backed up Delgadillo with a good body attack.
In the seventh round both landed right’s to the head. This has been a throwback fight like back in the day. Sosa landed a right to the chin and a left hook to the body dropping Delgadillo who beat the count at 9. Delgadillo got up and grabbed Sosa still being hurt. Delgadillo was bent over trying to protect from body shots. He had swelling under his right eye. It was a big round for Sosa in this one.
In the eighth round these two warriors went right back at it. A right uppercut from Sosa to the body hurt Delgadillo but he came right back. When Sosa landed a lead right he got countered by a Delgadillo left hook time and again. The exchanged punches from bell to bell.
In the ninth round with both throwing punches a Sosa right to the chin rocked Delgadillo who comes right back.
Delgadillo’s face us a swelling mess but he knows no quitting coming back with a w-punch combo to the body and head.
In the tenth and final round both continue throwing and landing punches.
Sosa landed a right to the side of the neck of Delgadillo. Sosa landed a hard right at the bell. Both fighters hugged and smiled at each other in respect. What a fight!
Scores were Don Ackerman 96-92 and with Tom Schreck and John McKaie having it 97-91 with this writer having it 95-93.
Three time Olympian, 2016 Olympic Gold and Pan Am Gold Medalist with over 400 amateur fights Super Featherweight Robson “Nino” Conceicao, 11-0 (5), of Salvador, BRZ, scored a shutout over Hector “El Estudiante” Ambriz, 12-9-2 (6), out of Ensenada, MEX, over 8 rounds.
In the first round Conceicao the aggressor landed a right to the head and left hook to the body of Ambriz.
Conceicao landed a pair of rights to the body of Ambriz. Ambriz kept moving as Conceicao chased and landed well with his right hand. In the second round an overhand right from Conceicao landed on the side of the head of Ambriz who complained of a rabbit punch for the third time in the fight. Ambriz landed a counter combination to the head of Conceicao. A Conceicao jab knocked back the head of Ambriz who was backing up.
In the third round Conceicao continues looking for a knockout with Ambriz moving at all times. Conceicano landed a lead right uppercut to the chin of Ambriz.
Conceicano landed a right to the head but the left hook to the body was a crushing blow. Ambriz comes back with much lighter punches evading the big blow.
In the fourth round with the corner of Conceicano urging him to knockout his opponent he came out throwing bombs. Ambriz was not an easy target with his movement making Conceicano miss three punches while countering back with a combo of his own. It was the best round for Ambriz whether he won it or not. In the fifth round a right from Conceicano to the chin rocked Ambriz. A wide right from Conceicano to the head knocked Ambriz off balance.
In the sixth round Ambriz came out with swelling around his right eye from many rights from Conceicano. Conceicano landed a solid left hook to the chin of Ambriz. Ambriz comes back with jabs but doesn’t have the power to compete with Conceicano but a good heart.
Between rounds Conceicano was standing. In the seventh round Conceicano landed a rare body punch from a left hook. Ambriz right eye swelling showed a small cut. It was a close round with Ambriz not winning one but always in there. Conceicano has been pressing for a knockout that is not coming.
In the eighth and final round Ambriz missed a combination with Conceicano landed a right to the head. All his punches are arm punches as Ambriz is determined to go the distance. Both landed right hands to the chin. Ambriz landed four punches with Conceicano covering up. Conceicano won every round but just a win not an impressive one. Referee Benjy Esteves, Jr. did his usual fine job.
Scores were 80-72 as was this writer’s.
Super Lightweight southpaw Fazlidden Gaibnazarov, 8-0 (3), of UZB out of L.A., CA, stopped Dominican Ricardo Garcia, 14-6-1 (9), out of Reading, PA, who retired at the end of four rounds of an 8. Referee was Benjy Esteves, Jr.
Heavyweight Cassius Chaney, 14-0 (8), out of New London, CT, Michael Glasscox, 6-2-2 (5), of Columbus, OH,
Making his debut 2016 Olympian Middleweight Vikas Krishan, 1-0 (1), out of Hisar, India, stopped Steven “Iron Man” Andrade, 3-4 (2), out of Cartersville, PA , at 2:31 of the second round, of a 4. Referee was Benjy Esteves Jr.
Ring Announcer was Lupe Contreras.
Miguel Berchelt-Francisco Vargas Rematch Set, 3/23 on ESPN; Winner Could Get Lomachenko
By Jake Donovan
Miguel Berchelt and Francisco Vargas are prepared to do it all again—and this time, with even more at stake than just the 130-pound title.
A rematch to their Jan. ’17 thriller—which Berchelt won by 11th round knockout to dethrone the previously unbeaten Vargas—is set for March 23 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. The bout will air live on ESPN, with the event to be presented by Berchelt’s U.S. promoter Top Rank, who’ve already teased a loftier prize for the winner.
“It’s very possible that the winner of this terrific rematch will go on to face lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko later this year,” promoter Bob Arum said of the bout.
Berchelt (35-1, 30KOs) has exploded onto the 130-pound scene, beginning with his systematic dismantling of Vargas in their first meet. The bout was competitive early and befitting their all-action styles, but with Berchelt eventually wearing down his battered countryman in lifting the title.
Four defenses have since followed, most recently scoring a 9th round knockout of countryman Miguel Roman in an entertaining—if not one-sided—ESPN+ streamed bout this past November in El Paso, Texas.
With the historic Forum playing host to the rematch, Merida, Mexico’s Berchelt plays the California circuit for the third time in his two-plus year title reign. His title win over Vargas took place in Indio, Calif., while The Forum itself played host to his first defense, a points win over former titlist Takashi Miura in July ’17.
Miura was responsible for the all-action title reign of Vargas (25-1-2, 18KOs), who overcame a 4th round knockdown to drop and stop the reigning champ from Japan in the 9th round of their unforgettable Nov. ’15 war.
The savagely brutal war not only stole the show from the evening’s far more prolific headliner—Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s historic World middleweight championship win over Miguel Cotto—but would go on to gain universal recognition as 2015 Fight of the Year.
It also appeared to take quite a bit out of Mexico City’s Vargas, who was sidelined for much of the first part of 2016 to allow several cuts to heal.
His ring return was hardly a let-up in competition, once again thrown the wolves in fighting former two-division titlist Orlando Salido to a 12-round draw in June. Once again, Vargas managed to produce a Fight of the Year-level performance, but the back-to-back wars showed its effect by the time he got to Berchelt.
Two wins have followed for the 34-year old slugger, scoring a technical decision win over veteran contender Stephen Smith in Dec. ’17 and—in his lone ring action of 2018—slaughtering overmatched Rod Salka in six rounds last April.
Given his lofty ranking among the World Boxing Council—whom recognizes Berchelt as its 130-pound champ—it was a matter of time before Vargas found himself back in the title picture. Still, it took for rival promoters to put aside their differences for the sake of reaching a deal as Top Rank (Berchelt’s co-promoter), with whom Vargas began his career before eventually moving onto Golden Boy Promotions in 2011.
“Look what’s happening in boxing. All the other promoters are cooperating with each other, Arum said of doing business with Golden Boy, while also taking a shot at another rival in adviser Al Haymon. “This show, we have our kid, Miguel Berchelt against Oscar de la Hoya’s fighter, Francisco Vargas.
“To survive at this level and in today’s market, you have to work with other promoters. We have a commitment to deliver the best fights in the world to ESPN and that’s what we’re doing here. The winner will have another big fight to look forward to, as we’d love to match (whomever is victorious) with our lightweight champion, the great Vasiliy Lomachenko.”
Top Rank Boxing Preview: Jennings vs. Rivas
By: Hector Franco
This upcoming Friday at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino perennial heavyweight contender Bryant “By-By” Jennings (24-2, 14 KOs) will make his return to the squared circle when he takes on undefeated Columbian Oscar Rivas (25-0, 17 KOs) in a twelve round bout.
Jennings is coming off of a busy 2018 where he fought three times in the calendar year. In his previous bout, Jennings took on Alexander Dimitrenko in a tougher than expected match. The Philadelphia fighter was knocked down in the fourth round and rallied back scoring three knockdowns en route to a ninth round stoppage victory.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
At this time Jennings isn’t considered one of the elite heavyweights in the division who should be up for a title shot. However, his resume is undoubtedly one of the best in the division with victories over Mike Perez and Artur Szpilka. In 2015, Jennings took on two of the best heavyweights in the world back to back when he faced Wladimir Klitschko in April of 2015 and ended the year by taking on the perceived most feared heavyweight at the time, Luis Ortiz. Jennings lost to Klitschko via unanimous decision, but had his moments against the future Hall of Famer in a competitive bout. Jennings did not fair better against Ortiz who stopped him in seven rounds in one of the best performances of his career.
At age 34, Jennings still has plenty of time in continuing to rebuild his career to earn another world title opportunity. In the heavyweight division, many of the top fighters are in there 30’s giving Jennings more time to perfect his craft rather than keep up with younger opponents. However, Jennings has to continue winning against the pugilists Top Rank puts him in the ring against.
As for Jennings opponent, Oscar Rivas, the bout with Jennings will be just his second fight in the United States. Rivas is Columbian, but fights out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He has only had two matches outside of Canada one of them being in France in late 2017. Not much is known about Rivas, which could be used to his advantage if Jennings is not prepared for his style.
Jennings does have the height and reach advantage standing at six foot three with an 84-inch reach compared to Rivas standing at six feet with a 76 and a half-inch reach. The goal for Top Rank will be to get Jennings back into contention for a heavyweight title. On Friday night another roadblock will be put in front of Jennings to push down.
On the undercard, Newark, New Jersey’s Shakur Stevenson (9-0, 5 KOs) will step back into the ring for the first time in 2019 against Jessie Cris Rosales. In 2018, Stevenson showed vast improvements with each fight. In his last contest, Stevenson scored his most impressive victory to date when he defeated Romania’s Viorel Simon by first round stoppage. Much of the criticism laid towards Stevenson is for his lack of punching power. At just 21 years of age, the number of knockouts will likely increase as he gets older more into his prime.
Also on the undercard, will be former WBA 130-pound champion, Jason Sosa (21-3-4, 15 KOs). Sosa will be taking on Mexico’s Moises Delgadillo. Sosa is still on somewhat of a comeback after two back to back losses to Vasiliy Lomachenko and Yuriorkis Gamboa in 2017. Against Delgadillo, he will be facing an opponent who has lost six of their last eight bouts.
Artur Beterbiev To Leave DAZN For New Deal With Top Rank and ESPN
By Jake Donovan
A new year, another new platform for Artur Beterbiev.
Just one fight into his recently signed deal with Eddie Hearn and sports streaming service DAZN USA, the unbeaten light heavyweight titlist from Canada has decided to sever all ties and start fresh in 2019. That path will lead to a lucrative pact with Top Rank and ESPN.
Le Journal de Montreal was the first to report this development.
Photo Credit: Artur Beterbiev Twitter Account
Beterbiev (13-0, 13KOs)—who has for years has held a tumultuous relationship with promoter Yvon Michel signed a three-fight co-promotional agreement with Hearn last summer, leading to his appearance on the stateside launch of DAZN USA’s boxing content.
The 33-year old retained his perfect 100% knockout-to-win rate, but had to climb off the canvas before putting away previously unbeaten Callum Johnson in the 4th round of their title fight last October in Chicago, Ill.
His next fight was to come in December at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, where Beterbiev would’ve faced Long Island’s Joe Smith Jr. The light heavyweight title fight would’ve been the perfect complement to the debut of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez both at MSG and on DAZN, but Beterbiev balked at the fight, instead electing to sit out the rest of 2018.
The new year only produced the same tricks.
A second attempt to reschedule Beterbiev-Smith led event handlers to tentatively set aside a late February date at Nassau Coliseum, less than an hour from Smith’s eastern Long Island hometown of Mastic, New York. Beterbiev once again reversed course, this time with the real reasons revealed—his intentions to fight elsewhere.
Despite a three-fight deal in place, the light heavyweight titlist found a loophole that could potentially end the deal. According to a report from The Ring senior writer Mike Coppinger, Beterbiev’s promotional pact with Michel only remained in place through his alignment with adviser Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) platform.
Haymon agreed to release Beterbiev in lieu of going to court over failure to meet his mandatory minimum of contractually guaranteed fights, which in turn nullified the boxer’s existing agreement with Michel. In turn, it would also effectively terminate any such arrangement with Hearn and DAZN, although that side is still being sorted out.
While there remains a chance that Beterbiev and Michel—who has a strong relationship with Top Rank founder Bob Arum—will remain in business together, his next move in the ring won’t take place until past business is cleared up.
What’s abundantly clear is that his next fight won’t come against Smith Jr., who is now being steered towards a March 9 title challenge of unbeaten Dmitry Bivol.
Crawford-Khan On For April 20th
By: Sean Crose
With the above words, Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions let the world know, via Twitter, that WBO welterweight champ Terence Crawford would indeed be facing off against the talented and well known Amir Khan on April 20th. The tweet was accompanied by a picture of both men squaring off and the hashtag #CrawfordKhan. Fans and analysts had expected the announcement to be made for at least several days, after it became clear that the two sides had reached an agreement.
The match will give Crawford a name opponent and Khan another chance at the glory that has eluded him over the years. The bout will be aired live on Pay Per View, courtesy ESPN, which has a deal with Top Rank. It has yet to be announced where the fight will take place. Crawford, who fights under Arum’s famous Top Rank Promotions banner, is widely regarded as one of the top fighters in the world. The fact that most known welterweights fight under rival Al Haymon’s PBC banner, however, has made it difficult for the Omaha, Nebraska native to face big name rivals. The announcement of the fight with Khan changes that.
England’s Khan, a former top Olympian, has long been known for his speed and gamesmanship inside the ring. He’s often come up short in big fights, however, and was avoided by Floyd Mayweather when the then pound for pound king instead decided to face Marcos Maidana in 2014. There had been talk that Khan would face countrymen and rival Kell Brook in a British superfight, but Khan opted for Crawford instead, presumably because a win over Crawford would establish him as one of the biggest names in the entire boxing business. Known for craving major fights, Khan has once again landed on a major pay per view event (he lost to Canelo Alvarez in a game but doomed Pay Per View broadcasted effort in 2016).
This will be ESPN’s first foray into the Pay Per View Market. British super promoter Eddie Hearn will also promote the fight on behalf of Khan, though he reportedly wishes that Khan would have faced his countryman Brook rather than Crawford. With a record of 33-4, Khan will clearly be the underdog in this fight. Still, the 34-0 Crawford has arguably not met anyone of Khan’s caliber at welterweight, where he has fought since unifying the junior welterweight titles in 2017 against Julius Indongo.
Top Rank Prospects for 2019
By: Oliver McManus
Boxing is an ever changing landscape with new players emerging each and every day. An old name withstanding the test of time is that of Top Rank, still a driving force in American boxing. With that in mind and the new year looming, let’s take a quick-fire look at some of the best prospects emerging from Bob Arum’s stable with eyes on a big 2019 –
Alexander Besputin – Welterweight
12 and 0 in the welterweight division since turning professional in December 2015, all of Besputin’s fights have come in his adopted home of America. The Russian native has held his power considerably as he’s progressed through the ranks with nine victories inside the scheduled distance.
Russian champion on 11 occasions, across various levels, Besputin holds an amatuer victory of Daniyar Yeleussinov and is a two-time European Championship medalist. Aggressive by nature, Besputin has looked well-measured throughout his career, thus far, from the southpaw stance.
Favouring full-blooded flurries as opposed to counter-shots or loading up for one punch, Besputin secured the USBA Welterweight belt in September and is ranked 1st by the WBA and 10th with the IBF. A world title shot surely serves as the motivation for 2019 but the 27 year old would be minded to test himself against fellow contenders beforehand.
Mikaela Mayer – Super Featherweight
Women’s boxing is going through a purple patch that looks like it’s sticking around for a while. Traditional forerunners, in Latin American boxers, still pave the way but, increasingly, we’re finding talent emerge from their Northern counterparts.
Mikaela Mayer is leading the way for Top Rank with the super-featherweight looking to gatecrash the world title scene as imminently as possible. A bronze medal at Qinhuangdao in 2012 – the World Championships – was one of four medals for the U.S.A but it is Mayer who has made the most progress as a professional.
Eight undefeated, the 28 year old is the NABF Super Featherweight champion having won the belt in October with a definitive victory over Vanessa Bradford. Leading with the left hand, Mayer’s fights tall and at range, something she’s done effectively up to this point.
Defending her title against Calista Silgado on December 14th, Mayer closed the year at 9 and 0 in impressive style and is surely targeting one of the four world champions at 130lbs.
Guido Vianello – Heavyweight
Alongside Joe Joyce, Vianello formed a major part of preparation for Tyson Fury’s fight with Deontay Wilder. Invaluable rounds of sparring with the lineal champion preceded an announcement that he had signed with Top Rank Boxing, managed by Sam Jones.
Making his debut on the undercard of Vasyl Lomachenko vs Jose Pedraza, Vianello leapt straight onto the big stage and took on Luke Lyons (5-1-1). The Italian made his mark with an immediate impression with clubbing right hands dropping his counterpart on two occasions en route to a 2nd round KO.
Nicknamed The Gladiator, imagine Deontay Wilder but with a touch of regality, Vianello looks incredibly light on his feet, floating in and out of the pocket. The Rio Olympian, still 24 years young, looked classy in his opening fight and will be looking to expediate his development throughout 2019.
Josue Vargas – Super Lightweight
20 years old and already a professional for three years, Josue Vargas worked his way to 12 and 1 since debuting in November 2015. The singular loss came as a result of brash disqualification – Vargas guilty of hitting Samuel Santana when his back was turned – in the third round of his seventh professional fight.
Brought in by Floyd Mayweather for sparring, in the build up to his bout with Conor McGregor, the experience has seen Vargas mature in the ring. That’s to be expected for a man still becoming an adult. A flamboyant fighter – and I’m not just talking about his short choices – Vargas sweeps into the pocket, targeting the body of his opponent with relentless passion.
Returning, after an eight month absence, on the Lomachenko-Pedraza card, Vargas dropped John Renteria in rounds two, four and five to finish the fight in the fifth round, his eighth knockout win. The 140lb fighter, backed heavily by Bob Arum, will be looking to continue the momentum he’s found with a further three or four fights in 2019. Nicknamed ‘The Prodigy’, it’s clear to see why the Puerto Rican born fighter is thought so highly of in his new home.
Fazliddin Gaibnazarov – Super Lightweight
We’ll stick with the super-lightweight division, for our final pick, as we venture on towards an Uzbek living in Los Angeles – part of a whole raft of ‘-Stan’ suffixed nations with a recent influx of boxers over in America. Arguably the better positioned prospect, in relation to Vargaz, Gaibnazarov is able to make the most of his amateur pedigree. Rio 2016 Gold medallist as well as Silver in the 2016 Asian & World Championships, the 27 year old already has the technical foundations that will be crucial throughout his career.
Having shared the ring with Vasyl Lomachenko on the amateur circuit, Gaibnazarov turned professional in April of last year. That debut saw him touch down in the first round, a sign of nerves perhaps, but aside from that he has looked comfortable in his opening six bouts.
Fighting from range, Gaibnazarov has a pawing left-jab-turn-hook and stays rocking on the balls of his feet. I’ve been most impressed with the footwork of the Uzbekistan standout, particularly over the course of eight rounds against Augustine Mauras and Victor Rosas. In those particular contests, Gaibnazarov was able to to control the tempo of the pace throughout and looked breezy.
Next out on January 18th, he’ll face Ricardo Garcia over a scheduled eight rounds to move 7 and 0 but it really shouldn’t be long before the southpaw is knocking on the doors of a world title.
Mark your cards, 2019 is going to be a massive year Stateside with the emergence of new players on the landscape but these five are all looking to become a household name over the next 12 months… no pressure!
Michael Conlan Grateful For Year-End UK Showcase
By Jake Donovan
The next ring appearance for Michael Conlan represents the best of both worlds: getting in one last fight in 2018 just before the holiday season and returning to a country where he boasts his greatest boxing achievement to date.
As an added bonus, it comes on the undercard of a show where he could very well one day face the winner of the evening’s main event.
“That’s the thing being with Top Rank; they are the absolute best promoter in the game,” Conlan insisted to BoxingInsider.com of the manner in which his pro career has been handled thus far.
The 27-year old from Belfast, Northern Ireland gets to squeeze in a fifth fight in capping a productive 2018 in-ring campaign when he resurfaces this Saturday in Manchester, England. Conlan (9-0, 6KOs) will face domestic trialhorse Jason Cunningham in a scheduled-eight round featherweight bout on a bill where his countryman, Carl Frampton seeks to become a three-time titlist as he challenges unbeaten featherweight titlist Josh Warrington.
Both bouts will be part of a loaded show which will stream live on ESPN+.
“It was very smart of Top Rank to put me on the show,” notes Conlan, who was last seen in a 7th round stoppage of Nicola Cipolletta this past October in Las Vegas. “I love fighting in the United States, but this show is much closer to home (roughly one hour by plane from Belfast to Manchester), which is good for my fans over here who don’t have to worry about flying abroad just to see me live.”
Saturday will mark just the second time in his pro career that Conlan gets to play a venue more befitting his regional base. The lone other occasion came just six months ago, when he soundly outpointed Adeilson dos Santos this past June at home in Belfast.
To return to the UK, however, had to come with more meaning than just for the sake of fighting near home.
“I like fighting in the United States and am fine with a ratio maybe three in the states and then one at (or near) home,” Conlan admits. “This show is a really good one, though, and Top Rank recognized the benefit of my fighting on it. The fact that the main event is right in my weight division, I get a good look at who I can face in the future when I begin facing contenders and eventually challenge for a world title.”
Just two years into the pro ranks, Conlan isn’t quite yet within arm’s length of fighting for a title or even at the contender level. This is where show placement comes into play.
In Cunningham (24-5, 6KOs), he gets a durable southpaw capable of going rounds regardless of competition. The 29-year old from Doncaster has only been dropped twice and stopped just once in 29 pro contests.
For Conlan, it’s also his first look at a southpaw as a pro.
“The stance doesn’t matter to me, but it’s good to see all different styles rising through the ranks,” admits Conlan. “It’s all part of my development as I continue to work on my all-around game. My coach and I practice everything—boxing, short distance, long distance. Our goal is to be a master of all trades, instead of just one.”
The expanded skillset will certainly be a necessityin a loaded featherweight division, from the top level to contenders down to prospects on the rise. One in particular happens to be in Conlan’s promotional stable.
Top Rank signed the two-time Olympian around the same time they secured the services of 2016 Olympic Silver medalist Shakur Stevenson. Company founder and Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum has ever shied away from the selling point of one day matching them together, once it can be built into a superfight.
There already exists built-in history. Both competed as bantamweights in the 2016 Rio Olympics and were on a direct path toward meeting in the medal round.
That’s when Conlan forever remained a fixture in the spotlights. Having already captured a Bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics for Ireland, a repeat was well within reach and seemed to have occurred following his quarterfinals meet with Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin (now also with Top Rank as a pro).
Most observers had Conlan winning by no smaller than a 2-1 rounds margin, but the ringside judges saw a very different fight. Nikitin was awarded a unanimous decision—losing just one round among the three official scorecards—with a dejected Conlan reduced to his infamously flipping off the judges before erupting in a profanity-laced post-fight tirade.
It wasn’t at all how he envisioned his decorated amateur career coming to a close, but in a way helped his profile upon turning pro. But while some can leave bad memories in the past, Conlan—unable to shake loose the wrongdoing—has instead chosen to own it.
“For me, Rio is remembered forever,” Conlan confesses. “No matter how hard I try, I can never get over it. At the same time, it’s a good thing if you think about it because it’s given me a great attitude towards professional boxing.
“It put me in a very good position from a media perspective. It’s great focus for where I want to be as a professional—never take any situation for granted. Just keep working hard and good things will continue to happen.”
While Rio still remains on the mind, his latest trip to the United Kingdom conjures up a different type of amateur boxing memoir.
“This is my first time fighting in England since London 2012 (Olympics),” Conlan fondly recalls of his Bronze medal run as a flyweight, losing to eventual Gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba. “It’s brought back some great memories, but I’m so much a different fighter today than I was back then.”
By this time next year, he hopes to not even recognize the fighter he is today.
“First thing is to take care of business with Jason on Saturday,” Conlan notes before turning his attention to 2019. “God willing I come out victorious and healthy, next year will be all about building towards the path that leads to contending for a title. In 12 months, hopefully we’re talking about fighting for a world title or taking a title eliminator.
“But me and my team just worry about the battle plan in the ring. I have the best promoter in the world behind me. Top Rank knows better than anyone else how to move a fighter, so we’re in no rush.”
For now, being at—or near home—is a good enough way to end the year.
“We knew turning pro that the majority of my fights would take place in the United States, and that’s great for my worldwide appeal,” Conlan notes. “But getting to occasionally comes home makes it feel like a big event. That’s a great thing. Fighting at home always is, but getting the big fight night treatment just makes it even more special.”
Diego Magdaleno Tabbed To Face Teofimo Lopez On February 2
By: Jake Donovan
In the aftermath of his 44-second destruction of Mason Menard at MSG Hulu Theatre earlier this month, Teofimo Lopez told anyone who’d listen that he wants the toughest challenges from here on out.
The staff at Top Rank was clearly listening—and has delivered for his next fight.
Lopez (11-0, 9KOs) will take his first big step in advancing to the contender stage when he returns to the ring. Awaiting the red-hot unbeaten prospect will be two-time title challenger Diego Magdaleno, with their scheduled 10-round lightweight bout to stream on ESPN+ on February 2 live from The Ford Center in Frisco, Texas.
BoxingScene.com contributor and videographer Ryan Burton was the first to report news of the fight being finalized.
The bout comes as part of a loaded card on the eve of Super Bowl Sunday, with three title fights also on the bill. Lopez-Magdaleno will stream live on ESPN+ in supporting capacity to the light heavyweight title fight rematch between unbeaten titlist Eleider Alvarez (24-0, 12KOs) and former champ Sergey Kovalev (32-3-1, 28KOs).
On the ESPN portion of the show, Oscar Valdez (24-0, 19KOs) defends his featherweight title versus Italy’s Carmine Tommasone (19-0, 5KOs), while Ghana’s Richard Commey (27-2, 24KOs) and Russia’s Isa Chaniev (13-1, 6KOs) battle for a vacant lightweight title.
The latter bout has Lopez’ attention, as the 21-year old Brooklyn native is eager to transition from prospect to title contender in a hurry.
“One of the belts I just won was the USBA lightweight title, which is the regional title for the IBF,” Lopez told BoxingInsider.com in offering a glimpse into his planned title pursuit. “So that gave me a sign that I will be fighting for a world title next year. That title is vacant, so I’d love to fight whoever wins (Commey-Chaniev) after my next fight.”
No better way to plan for a title run than to test your skills versus someone who’s been there before.
“We’re trying to challenge Teofimo with all types of styles and experienced guys as he develops,” Carl Moretti, Top Rank VP of Boxing Operations told BoxingInsider.com in selecting Magdaleno. “Diego obviously fits that. Let’s see what the kid can do.”
On the other side of the equation, the one-time rising contender is also curious what he can still do on the big stage.
It was just a few short years ago when Magdaleno (31-2, 13KOs) and his brother Jessie were the talk of the town as rising prospects to watch. Jessie made it all the way to the finish line, picking up a 122-pound belt before conceding to Isaac Dogboe earlier this year.
For older brother Diego, the hope is that his third time will be a charm—if in fact there’s a third time to be had.
The Las Vegas-based southpaw has only lost to reigning titlists, coming up just short in a disputed split decision defeat to then-130 pound titlist Roman Martinez in April ’13. A five-fight win streak and a move up in weight put Magdaleno right back in title contention, only to suffer a 2nd round knockout at the hands of Terry Flanagan in their Oct. ’15 lightweight title fight on the road in Manchester, England.
Magdaleno has since posted three straight wins, including a 10-round decision over fellow southpaw Jesus Cuadro in his most recent outing this past September in Cancun, Mexico.
For Lopez, it’s a quick turnaround that even surpassed his own expectations. Plans called for the lightweight knockout artist—who represented Honduras in the 2016 Rio Olympics—to return either in February or March, the latter contingent on plans being finalized for a Terence Crawford-headlined show at Madison Square Garden.
Of course, opportunity always trumps location. With plans for Crawford’s next bout still being firmed up, an executive decision was made to have Lopez appear on the February 2 bill, which will mark his just second appearance in the Lone Star State.
His lone other bout in Texas will have come almost one year to the day by the time he enters the ring versus Magdaleno. That particular contest was also the last time he’s been extended the distance, settling for a six-round shutout of Juan Pablo Sanchez at close to the super lightweight limit this past February in Corpus Christi.
The win was his first of four in 2018, the balance all coming inside the distance and at lightweight where he plans to remain—at least until he gets a title or two around his waist.
“I want to win my first title at lightweight and hopefully be at this weight long enough to beat all the champs including Lomachenko, either next year or 2020,” insists Lopez.
Top Rank Loads Up Alvarez-Kovalev II Card On Super Bowl Weekend
By Jake Donovan
Cognizant of its placement on the eve of Super Bowl Sunday, the Top Rank staff have made significant additions to its super Saturday night of boxing.
A February 2 date long reserved for the light heavyweight title fight rematch between Eleider Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev has now turned into a live quadrupleheader spanning ESPN and its streaming platform ESPN+.
Alvarez-Kovalev II will now headline the ESPN+ portion of the evening (12:00am ET). That portion of the loaded card from The Star in Frisco, Texas will be accompanied by the quick return of unbeaten lightweight Teofimo Lopez, who is fresh off of a highlight reel 1st round knockout of Mason Menard earlier this month in New York City.
An opponent has yet to be announced for Lopez. Sources with knowledge of the show have informed BoxingInsider.com that it will be a step up in class, as the 2016 Honduras Olympian and fast-moving prospect is eager to transition to rising contender.
“I took over my last show, and I am going to do it again,” Lopez (11-0, 9KOs) said. “‘The Takeover’ is coming to Texas, and I can’t wait to get back in the ring.”
Preceding the livestream will be the awaited ring return of unbeaten featherweight Oscar Valdez. Sidelined while recovering from injuries sustained in an ESPN-aired 12-round win over Scott Quigg in March, the two-time Olympian for Mexico returns in a title defense versus unbeaten Carmine Tommasone, who represented Italy in the 2016 Rio Olymnpics.
The bout will headline a live doubleheader on ESPN (10:00pm ET). In chief support to Valdez’ return comes a vacant lightweight title fight between Ghana’s Richard Commey and Russia’s Isa Chaniev.
Moving the Alvarez-Kovalev rematch to ESPN’s live-streaming service was undoubtedly motivated by a desire to boost subscriptions. Top Rank and ESPN continue to search for the proper balance in what will air live on ESPN’s flagship network and what to dedicate exclusively to its subscription-based streaming service.
This particular show will actually provide the best of both worlds. With the ESPN linear platform preceded by ESPN+ live coverage of the preliminary undercard action (7:00 pm-10:00pm ET), boxing fans will get seven hours of live boxing between the services, including three title fights and the latest step in the career of a blue-chip prospect.
“It’s Super Saturday, and by syncing the ESPN linear and ESPN+ platforms for one night, fans have an incredible opportunity to watch a stacked show with many of the world’s best fighters and rising superstars,” said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank in a statement released through the company’s press office in announcing the full show on Wednesday.
The addition of Valdez (24-0, 19KOs) comes in the wake of the decision to forego a planned January 12 showcase in his adopted hometown of Tucson, Arizona. He was originally due to face Spain’s Andoni Gago, but issues in getting a travel visa in time along with other unbuttoned issues with the remaining undercard prompted an outright cancellation.
It gives Valdez an additional three weeks to further enhance his craft under new trainer Eddy Reynoso, while also providing an upgrade in competition.
“The fans can expect the same Oscar Valdez as far as being an aggressive and exciting fighter,” said Valdez, who looks to make the fifth defense of his featherweight title. “They are also going to see a different side that nobody has seen, which is the boxing skills that I also have and that I’m perfecting and learning with my new trainer, Eddy Reynoso.”
Tommasone (19-0, 5KOs) has yet to make his full mark in the pro ranks. However, the unbeaten featherweight is in the history books as becoming the first pro boxer to participate in—and win—an Olympic boxing match, doing so in 2016 while representing his native Italy.
The 2016 Rio Olympics marked the first year in which pro boxers were able to participate in competition previously limited to amateur boxers. Tommasone joined former flyweight titlist Amnat Ruenroeng (Thailand) and Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (representing his native Cameroon, but who lives in France) as the three to break ground, winning his opening round bout before being sent home in the Round of 16 by Cuba’s Lazaro Alvarez, who went on to capture the Bronze medal.
Tomassone—who was 15-0 prior to his 2016 Rio tour—has since won four bouts in his return to pro competition. All have come versus non-descript competition, as he steps way up in class while fighting outside of Italy as a pro for the first time in his eight-year career.
Still, he comes with greater appeal than Valdez’ originally selected opponent—not to mention it’s a great opportunity for Top Rank to showcase one of its brightest young stars for the third time on ESPN, the latest coming on a busy sports weekend.
“It will be great to see our little warrior, Oscar Valdez, back in action on Feb. 2 after his full recovery from a broken jaw and a courageous victory over Quigg,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Oscar always brings thrills and excitement to his fights.”
The ESPN-televised co-feature figures to serve as the perfect primer.
Ghana’s Commey (27-2, 24 KOs) has patiently waited for his crack at a lightweight title, which he originally believed would come versus Mikey Garcia. Those plans fell apart, however, after the unbeaten pound-for-pound entrant vacated his title in favor of a high-profile showdown versus unbeaten welterweight titlist Errol Spence.
The move left Commey as the highest-rated contender in his pursuit of winning a title on his second try. His previous effort came in a hard-fought split decision loss to Robert Easter Jr. in their Sept. ’16 vacant title fight, which was followed by an equally heartbreaking narrow defeat at the hands of Denis Shafikov just three months later.
Three straight wins have followed, including a six-round destruction of previously unbeaten Alejandro Luna this past March to earn his place as the mandatory challenger.
“When I started working with Richard in September 2016, our plan was to give him another chance to fulfill his dream of becoming a world champion,”said Lou DiBella , Commey’s promoter. “While Chaniev is a very tough Russian fighter, I’m confident that Richard has the skills, punching power and the mental toughness to come out victorious.”
DiBella’s efforts have not at all been lost on his lightweight client.
“I know how hard it is for Ghanaian fighters to get promoted by the top promoters, but Lou has consistently shown that if he thinks you’re the man, then he will be the man for you,” said Commey, who last fought in August in a 2nd round knockout of journeyman Yardley Cruz in Long Island, New York. “He has shown this by the investment DiBella Entertainment has put in me and by getting me this shot at the title and securing it in the United States.”
While it won’t be Commey’s first stateside appearance, his opponent stamps his passport for his first world title fight.
Chaniev (13-1, 6 KOs) has fought exclusively in Eastern Europe as he travels to the U.S. for the first time as a pro. The 26-year old Russian lightweight earned his place in the title mix after a strong showing in his career-best win, outpointing former titlist Ismael Barroso in his most recent bout this past May.
“I have the biggest motivation ever to win, and there is no other result that will satisfy me,” Chaniev said. “On Feb. 2, I will demonstrate all my skills and hard preparation. Some people don’t think I will win, but they will be shocked.”
Top Rank Boxing Results: Ramirez Defeats Hart
By: Hans Themistode
Gilberto Ramirez (39-0, 25 KOs) retained his WBO Super Middleweight title with a majority decision nod over Jesse Hart (25-2, 21 KOs) in their rematch Friday night.
Hart fought a much better fight this time around in comparison to their first bout. However he did not do quite enough to sway the judges in his favor tonight.
It was a nip and tuck affair as Hart used his reach advantage to keep Ramirez on the end of his punches. That success wouldn’t last long as Ramirez began to get closer and landed hard shots.
As the rounds went by a similar theme began to develop. Hart would do a good job of boxing and landing effective shots but Ramirez’s constant pressure and volume punching would wear Hart down as the rounds went on.
Towards the later rounds Ramirez aggression suddenly slowed and his punch output diminished as well. It was later found out that Ramirez injured his left elbow. That explained why we seldom saw the champion through a left hook throughout the rest of the contest. When we did see this punch thrown it wasn’t thrown with much aggression. It became clearer and clearer that the champions elbow was causing him serious issues. Hart took advantage by beginning to bank the latter rounds.
In round 11 the challenger was the most aggressive. He pinned the champ on the rope several times and unloaded shots on him. Ramirez responded with punches of his own but it was clear that he lacked the punching power at the moment to keep Hart off of him. The last round is where Ramirez shower true champion mettle. With essentially one hand he was beating his man to the punch by landing big blows.
At the end of the bout the scorecards were 114-114 and two scores of 115-113. It was another very entertaining bout by these fighters. The most intriguing part of this contest was the post fight commentary.
Ramirez revealed his plans to move up the 175 pound weight division. There will be no shortage of big name fighters he will be able to take on. If Ramirez can perform the way he did tonight while sustaining an injury during the contest then the rest of the 175 pound division will need to be on notice.
They seem to have a new intriguing fighter added to the already stacked division.
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ Preview: Hart vs. Ramirez 2
By: Hans Themistode
WBO Super Middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez (38-0, 25 KOs) will step into the ring for third time this year when he takes on the man that gave him his toughest bout of his career in Jesse Hart (25-1, 21 KOs). The matchup is scheduled to take place tonight in Corpus Christi Texas at the American Bank Center.
For Ramirez his reign as champion has spanned over two years but has featured underwhelming competition as he was able to blow through his opponents. His first bout against Hart last year however was his toughest to date. The victory presented Ramirez with the best win of his career.
The first fight between these two can be deceiving. Two judges scored the contest 115-112 while the third judge had it 114-113 all in favor of the champion. The nature of the close scorecards did not seem indicative of how the actual bout played out. Although Hart undoubtedly has his moments it was the champion who seemed to be in much more control. An early knockdown in round two for the champion followed by several punishing blows almost forced the referee to put a stop to the contest. The compubox numbers also spoke to the dominance of Ramirez. The champion connected on almost 100 more punches than his opponent, 220 to 132 while also connecting at a higher percentage. In short, Ramirez seemed to dominant.
Since Hart’s decision loss to Ramirez he has gone on to fight three times with all three fights ending in a knockout victory. Hart will not only be looking for his fourth straight stoppage victory of this calendar year but he will also look to even up the score with Ramirez while capturing his first world title.
The motivation for Hart will be at an all time high. Sure he will be looking to avenge the first defeat of his career and yes the thought of becoming a world champion is tantalizing as well but more then anything he will be looking to do so for not just himself but for his father as well. Eugene “Cyclone” Hart was a former top contender at Middleweight in the 1970s but never received his shot at the title. Winning this title would mean so much to not just Jesse but to his father as well.
Ramirez is not only the WBO champ but he may also be the best current Super Middleweight as well. Hart undoubtedly will have a tough task. Ramirez will be looking to make an emphatic statement this time around.
However with the current roll Hart is on along with the motivation that he will bring into this contest it should lead to another great fight tonight.
Ramirez, Hart Both Insist Nothing Familiar Will Come Of The Sequel
By Jake Donovan
Gilberto Ramirez and Jesse Hart fought each other just 15 months ago, yet both guarantee a limited amount of familiarity when they meet the second time around.
The pair of super middleweights once again collide with Ramirez’ title on the line in their ESPN+ main event this Friday in Corpus Christi. The bout is a rematch to their thriller last September in Tucson, Arizona, with Ramirez riding a 2nd round knockdown and early lead all the way to the finish line in taking a narrow decision.
Hart put up a brave stand in the second half of their contest—which, due to conflicting broadcasts, aired on ESPNews, ESPN2 and finally on ESPN by round seven—but the rally came too late to erase the early deficit. The second-generation boxer from Philadelphia has since fought three times, winning all by knockout.
That level of violence, he promises, is the version that will arrive on Friday night.
“We went back, looked at and corrected the little mistakes that cost us in the first one,” Hart (25-1, 21KOs) said on Wednesday during their final pre-fight press conference. “Those little things we fix, you’ll see that change on Friday night.”
The defending titlist not only believes him but is banking on such an adjustment.
“I’m glad to hear he’s ready to fight,” said Ramirez (38-0, 25KOs), the unbeaten 27 year old from Mazatlan, Mexico who attempts the fifth defense of the title he won nearly three years ago. “I’m thrilled the rematch is taking place here in Corpus Christi. The last time I fought here, I had a knockout. I want another knockout on Friday.”
Interestingly, the stoppage to which Ramirez refers—a 6th round drubbing of unbeaten but unheralded Habib Ahmed this past February—is his only bout to end inside the distance over the course of his title reign which began with an April ’16 points win over Arthur Abraham. In fact, his previous knockout victory also took place in Texas, coming more than four years ago in halting Fulgencio Zuniga in eight rounds in San Antonio.
Ramirez has since been extended the distance in seven of his last eight starts, none tougher than his fending off a determined Hart in their first meet. Just two fights have followed for the defending titlist; the aforementioned stoppage victory over Ahmed and a 12-round virtual shutout of unbeaten Roamer Alexis Angulo this past June in Oklahoma City.
Still, a statement-making performance awaits or so promises the super middleweight division’s longest-reigning titlist.
“I agree with my opponent, this rematch will be different,” Ramirez notes, though of course with a twist. “It will be one-sided, and all on my side.”
For the challenger, a win would mean much more than bumping off an incumbent titlist.
Hart’s father, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart was an integral part of the thriving Philadelphia fight scene during his heyday as a middleweight contender in the 1970s. His noted punching power has left historians to regard him as among the hardest hitters in boxing history; however, it never translated into a championship or even a shot at a major title.
Now battling health issues and not even to serve his role as his son’s head trainer, the next generation has made it his duty to bring greater honor to the already revered family name.
“It would mean everything to win this belt,” Hart admits. “Ever since I started boxing, me and my dad, we never dreamed of nothing else but being a world champion.
“I’m very blessed and very humbled by this opportunity I have again. I’m just going to go out there and put on the best performance I possibly can to bring home the victory. Come Friday, you are going to see a completely different version coming for this title.”
ESPN Boxing Results: Lomachenko Bests Game Pedraza, Eyes Mikey Garcia
By: Sean Crose
Lightweight supremacy was on the line Saturday night when Vasyl Lomachenko, the man many have claimed is the best fighter on the planet, defended his WBA lightweight championship against WBO beltholder Jose Pedraza in a scheduled 12 round title unifier at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The match was the main event on a three fight card aired live on ESPN.
First, undefeated lightweight phenom Teofimo Lopez, 10-1, slipped between the ropes to battle the 34-3 Mason Menard. The match was as brief as it was violent. Lopez rocked his man with a right almost immediately, unloaded his arsenal, then blasted Menard with a thunderous right. Menard landed flat on his face, forcing the referee to halt the bout almost immediately. It was reminiscent of Marquez’ knockout of Pacquiao or even Hearns’ of Duran. Indeed, it may have been the knockout of the year.
Next up, WBO junior featherweight champion Isaac Dogboe put his title belt and 20-0 record on the line when he faced the 25-1 Emanuel Navarette in a scheduled 12 rounder. Dogboe looked good in the first, though Navarette came on strong at the end of the round. Dogboe got hurt in the second and survived. Navarette nailed the champion with a pair of hard lefts in the third.
Dogboe looked better in fourth, but then got hurt again by Navarette late in the fifth. Things started looking up for the titlist in the eighth, and he even dropped Navarette in the ninth. It was Dogboe’s last big moment. Navarette survived the knockdown and continued to hurt his man on his way to a unanimous decision victory. Dogboe, gracious in defeat, looked as if the fight should have ended sooner than it did.
It was time for the main event. WBO champ Pedraza boasted a 25-1 record while WBA champ Lomachenko entered the bout with a record of 11-1. The first round was a feeling out process, with Loma landing what was essentially the only meaningful shot. Pedraza employed his own effective skill set in the second. The third was also a close affair. The fourth, too, was close…though Loma landed the more telling shots.
The fight remained tight in the fifth, but Loma began to land more regularly in the sixth. Yet Pedraza did enough in the seventh to perhaps win the round on the cards. It was a surprisingly close affair. The eighth and ninth began to tell a tale of Lomackenko edging a closer than expected bout.
Pedraza showed he was still in the fight by seemingly taking the 10th. Loma became explosive in the 11th, taking his man down twice with blistering flurries of punches. Pedraza survived the round, only to be dominated in the twelfth. Loma walked away with a new belt and a UD decision victory.
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Preview: Dogboe vs. Navarrete, Lomachenko vs. Pedraza
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Top Rank Boxing will take two of their top stars, Vasiliy Lomachenko and Isaac Dogboe, to the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City for another Top Rank Boxing on ESPN telecast.
Pound for pound star, Vasiliy Lomachenko, will put his WBA Lightweight Title on the line against WBO Champion Jose Pedraza in the main event of the night. The co-main event of the evening will be between Isaac Dogboe and Emanuel Navarrete for the WBO Junior Featherweight Title.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
The undercard will feature boxers such as Teofimo Lopez Jr., Mason Menard, Alexander Besputin, Juan Carlos Abreu, Josue Vargas, and Michael Perez.
The following is a preview of the main two fights of the night.
Isaac Dogboe (20-0) vs. Emmanuel Navarrete (25-1); WBO Junior Featherweight Title
Isaac Dogboe burst onto the scene and minds of boxing fans worldwide with his shocking upset of Jessie Magdaleno for the Junior Featherweight Title.
He’s a champion to keep an eye one, and the twenty four year old boxer from Ghana brings into the ring a wealth of amateur experience, including a trip to the 2012 Olympic Games.
His opponent, Emmanuel Navarrete, does not have the amateur experience of Dogboe and has never fought outside of his native country of Mexico.
Navarrete will have a large height advantage over Dogboe, approximately five inches. They both are relatively young, Dogboe is twenty four years old while Navarrete is twenty three.
Dogboe has been fairly active, especially in 2018. He has already fought three times in 2018 and fought once in 2017. Navarrete fought three times in 2018 and five times in 2017.
At this point in their careers, Dogboe has defeated the better boxers. He has defeated the likes of Hidenori Otake, Jessie Magdaleno, Cesar Juarez, and Javier Chacon.
Navarrete has fought exclusively in Mexico and his biggest win to date was over Jose Sanmartin. He has no other notable victories, but it should be noted he has only faced one opponent with a losing record and his lone loss was way back in 2012 to Daniel Argueta.
Both boxers have considerable power. Navarrete has twenty two knockouts on his resume, and he has stopped his past eight opponents. Dogboe has stopped fourteen of his opponents, including five of his past six.
Navarrete isn’t quite yet a well known opponent in the United States and this is first fight in soil outside of Mexico. This is a bout that Dogboe should emerge victorious.
Vasiliy Lomachenko (11-1)vs. Jose Pedraza (25-1); WBA/WBO Lightweight Title
Lomachenko, despite a loss early in his professional career to former world champion Orlando Salido, is considered by many to be the best pound for pound boxer on the planet.
He’s thirty years old and only one year older than his opponent Pedraza. Pedraza will have a slight one inch height advantage and a more pronounces five and a half inch reach advantage.
Lomachenko fought three times in 2017 and only once in 2018. Pedraza has fought three times in 2018 but only once in 2017. Both fighters have been fairly active recently.
Both boxers competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics as an amateur, but only Lomachenko can claim to have won a medal. In fact, Lomachenko has won two gold medals as an amateur boxer.
Lomachenko has defeated the likes of Jorge Linares, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Miguel Marriaga, Jason Sosa, Nicholas Walters, Roman Martinez, Gary Russell Jr., and Jose Ramirez. He has won his last eight fights by stoppage.
Pedraza’s lone loss was to Gervonta Davis by TKO. He has defeated the likes of Raymundo Beltran, Antonio Moran, Stephen Smith, Edner Cherry, Andrey Klimov, and Micahel Farenas. Pedraza, in contrast to Lomachenko, hasn’t had a stoppage victory in eight fights.
Pedraza’s length and height might give Lomachenko some problems early on, but Lomachenko is too good of a technical boxer to not figure out the reach and timing of Pedraza. Pedraza is a boxer with heart and will likely make it an entertaining fight, but he has little to no chance of beating Lomachenko.
Spence-Crawford And The Long Road To Nowhere
By Jake Donovan
The last time the top two welterweights in boxing happened to meet up in the same basketball arena and talk shop, it eventually resulted in the most lucrative event in the sport’s history.
Then again, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao weren’t just the best two welterweights in the world but also the best pound-for-pound and were circling each other for more than five years by the time they happened to run into each other at a Jan. ’15 Miami Heat game.
A budding rivalry has only just begun between Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford, both of whom are current unbeaten welterweight titlists. They’ve exchanged pleasantries (read: insults) through social media, and for real this past Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, home to the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.
It made for fun immediate reaction and a slew of clickbait headlines. Just don’t expect to lead to a head-on collision anytime soon—if ever at all.
The pair of elite boxers were on hand to take in Top Rank’s ESPN-televised show. Crawford is a regular ringside observer for his promoter’s events while not headlining his own shows.
Spence—who is advised by Al Haymon and fights under the Premier Boxing Champions banner on Showtime and now Fox prime—was in the house in support of fellow Dallas boxer Maurice Hooker, who defended his 140-pound title with a spectacular 7th round stoppage of Oklahoma City’s own Alex Saucedo.
While the aforementioned title fight was the main reason for the boxing world tuning in on Friday, it gave way to a much bigger sidebar, not unlike how Mayweather and Pacquiao meeting during halftime in South Beach is far more fondly recalled than the Heat eventually losing that night to the Milwaukee Bucks.
A major development worth noting from that Jan. ’15 entry was the fact that Mayweather and Pacquiao huddled up behind closed doors after the game, talking for more than an hour about the need for their long-awaited clash to finally become reality. In stark contrast, Friday’s run-in between Spence and Crawford ended with more of the same between the two— a lot of talk, but the realization that their careers will run in separate directions.
Spence practically admitted as such, not even bothering to bite his tongue in rattling off a potential 2019 campaign that won’t—or, frankly, doesn’t need to—include Crawford. The 2012 U.S. Olympian and reigning top welterweight is currently on course to face unbeaten four-division titlist Mikey Garcia next March at AT&T Stadium, home to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.
With a win, the rest of Spence’s 2019 campaign—as he suggested—would put him in the ring with two more of the top welterweights on the PBC side of the street.
PBC and Fox recently rolled out their 1st quarter schedule on the free-to-air network and its regional cable affiliate FS1. Just about every welterweight of note under Haymon’s advisory banner is scheduled to appear in the first four months of 2019. Aside from Spence—who along with Garcia will headline a Pay-Per-View event for the first time in their respective careers—comes four more welterweight bouts of significance.
Keith Thurman will fight for the first time since March ’17, as he faces Josesito Lopez in late January live on Fox in primetime. A similar setting will be provided for recently crowned two-time welterweight titlist Shawn Porter, who defends versus mandatory challenger Yordenis Ugas on March 9, as does an April meet between Danny Garcia—whose lone two career losses have come versus Thurman and Porter—and Adrian Granados, while Lamont Peterson and Sergey Lipinets collide in late February on FS1 with an interim title at stake.
Outside of that deal will come a January 19 superfight between Pacquiao—who earlier this fall joined the PBC family after more than a decade with Top Rank—and Adrien Broner live on Showtime PPV from Las Vegas.
The bouts being presented in such a cluster are undoubtedly designed to mix and match the winners—and possibly even several of the losing fighters—later in the year, perhaps as early as the beginning of the summer season. Spence suggested that should he and Porter win their next fights, a unification clash would immediately follow.
From there would come a pairing that would help advance Spence from rising superstar to industry leader, as he is already being groomed for a late 2019 run-in with Pacquiao, assuming the two can win out.
While the sport is available more than ever in U,S. markets thanks to lucrative deals with Showtime, Fox, ESPN and sports streaming service DAZN, the downside is that we’re getting a lot of fights but not necessarily THE biggest fights we’d like to see. The lone exception in the past couple of years came in the form of two sensational middleweight championship fights between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, yet even that pairing coming after nearly two years of talk.
Given that take, boxing fans are already clamoring for Spence and Crawford to meet sooner rather than later in lieu of history repeating itself. The sport doesn’t need another long-term Mayweather-Pacquiao soap opera, yet already has one at the heavyweight level with unbeaten titlists Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder continuing to come up with endless ways to say “No” rather than just one way to say “Yes.”
The ugly truth, however, is that Spence can afford to disappoint boxing fans by not fighting Crawford as long as Haymon can keep his word of matching his stud welterweight against the rest of PBC’s top players in the division, particularly a Pacquiao superfight.
Top Rank can’t make the same promises to its superstar. It could produce a negative public perception of Crawford despite his clearly wanting the fight far more than his counterpart.
Another reason for Crawford sitting ringside on Friday was to scout his next likely opponent. On the undercard, fellow unbeaten Top Rank-promoted welterweight Egidijus Kavaliauskas stopped Roberto Arriaza in three rounds to solidify his place as Crawford’s opponent. It’s a solid matchup on paper, but not one that even remotely moves the needle.
The same sad state applies for any other in-house welterweight Top Rank can summon for its top client, who just re-inked with the Las Vegas based promotional outfit earlier this fall. Crawford and his team agreeing to stick with Top Rank while fully aware that all of his top completion fights under the PBC banner is a fact that boxing fans won’t forget as long as he’s stuck settling for the Jeff Horns and Jose Benavidez’s of the world.
No matter how often he calls out Spence or any other top PBC welterweight, no matter how many in-person or social media run-ins take place, anything short of such a fight materializing will ultimately hurt the fighter who clearly wants it more.
This much wasn’t at all lost on Spence when he and Crawford decided to engage in banter that immediately made the rounds. He doesn’t care if he’s portrayed as the bad guy in any of this, when the truth is that a year from how he’ll boast the far healthier welterweight résumé no matter how he’s mixed and matched in house—and even without facing his biggest threat.
Mayweather made a very similar blueprint work in his favor, while Pacquiao would suffer two losses and eventually run out of available challenges worth arousing public interest. It’s possible that Crawford can run the tables for years, but testing the public’s—and his own—patience is not a long-term plan anyone is willing to once again embrace.