ESPN+ Boxing Results: Conlan Dominates Hernandez in Paddy’s Day Celebration
By: Ste Rowen
With a familiar feeling of magic in the air from two years ago when he performed in the same theatre on St Patricks Day, Irishman, Mick Conlan scored a whitewash 10-round decision over hopeful challenger, Ruben Garcia Hernandez and although he might not have been able to give the worshipping crowd the KO they craved Conlan, now 11-0 (6KOs), seemed more than happy speaking post-fight,
‘‘Ireland is in New York tonight and Ireland fucking runs New York…I just used my skills as I said I would.
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank
He had a tough head on them. There were a few times I probably could’ve stepped on it, but we wanted to practice things we’ve been working on. I felt I did that tonight.’’
Conlan, who now fights at featherweight, a weight class up from where he started as a pro, was in charge from the outset.
His display of attributes keeping most of the fans happy throughout the 10-rounds. Hernandez, 24-3-2, looked out of his depth at times; Mick was too fast, too slick, too much destined to not let anything spoil his night tonight.
Onlookers could tell how much Mick was enjoying himself as he consistently switched from southpaw to orthodox, further bamboozling his Mexican foe.
Ruben’s only brief success felt like a minor inconvenience for the 27-year-old amateur standout to deal with and all three judge’s scorecards read 100-90 for the Irishman, but Conlan was eager to aim for bigger challenges after tonight’s celebration, mainly calling out the man who defeated him in the controversial 2016 Olympics, Vladimir Nikitin,
‘‘Vladimir, I know you’re here tonight. We need to do it again for the fans. I need to write a wrong that shouldn’t have been written.’’
Whatever’s next for Mick, fans can be assured it’ll be engrossing in the ring, and rowdy outside of it.
On the undercard…
Luis Collazo attempted to reintroduce himself to the world welterweight scene with a close split decision victory over Samuel Vargas over 10 rounds. The New York southpaw sustained a cut to his left eye during proceedings, but it didn’t stop him from being able to move well when Colombian, Vargas came charging in.
At 37-years-old and now 39-7 (20KOs), Luis looked the much sharper man as the fight went on, laying the more eye-catching combinations, and though he didn’t look as agile as he used to back in his world champion days, was able to measured when Samuel had some success.
The final scorecards read as, 96-94 98-92 for Collazo, 94-96 for Vargas. Luis the victor was confident of the future ahead post-fight,
‘‘I want to be a world champion again. I still got the desire. I still got the fire. And I would like to fight the top guys in the welterweight division. They know who they are. I called them out before. It just hasn’t happened.’’
In his USA debut and 7th fight as a pro, Paddy Barnes fell to his second consecutive defeat after being dropped en route to a split decision loss to super-flyweight gatekeeper, Oscar Mojica.
Barnes’ frequent flurry of punches weren’t enough to trouble Mojica in the early rounds and the American put the Irishman down with a wonderful body shot in the second. Pale Paddy’s quickfire combinations looked good but did nothing to deter the bigger man from throwing heavy handed shots; one after the other.
By the end of the 3rd, Barnes’ face resembled a man who wanted out of there ASAP.
Weighing in 7lbs heavier than his most recent bout, a world title loss to Cristofer Rosales, Paddy was seriously struggling to find any kind of rhythm, although the final round was certainly his best as Mojica took a backseat. Both fighters made it to the final bell, and Oscar Mojica, determined in his capacity to get the upset, achieved his goal.
The final scorecards were, 56-58 to Barnes, and 58-56 (x2) for Mojica, to improve the American’s record to 12-5-1 (1KO).
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank
Josue Vargas entered the ring in an emerald top hat to match the night and the Irish luck rubbed off on Vargas who dominated 8 rounds of fighting in his 14th pro bout.
Vargas looked the noticeably bigger man in the ring with Adriano Ramirez, and it suited him well to rule behind his jab for the first two rounds, but, Ramirez made him suffer in the third.
But Josue, fighting out of the southpaw stance, kept Adriano at bay. When he threw his dominant jab, it was left to fans to wonder where the rest of Josue’s attack was. With only the scheduled 8 rounds to fight in, Vargas was taking a little bit of a risk by stepping off his attack so much.
The fight entered the 8th and final round and it was left to Ramirez, 10-2 (6KOs) heading into tonight to take the bout by the horns. He was unable to, and Vargas remained sufficiently dominant to see the fight out on top. The final scorecards came out as, 80-72 all for Josue Vargas of New York.
Vargas improves his record to 13-1 (8KOs).
Wilder Reacts to Fury’s Top Rank Deal
By: Michael Kane
The boxing world was expecting the rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury to be sealed this week. Negotiations have taken a twist it would seem after the announcement that Tyson Fury has signed a co promotion deal with Top Rank.
The general feeling is that negotiations will prove difficult with Top Rank aligned to ESPN and Wilder being represented by Al Haymon who runs PBC. With the last fight being shown on Showtime, there was an expectation that the rematch would be shown on Showtime too.
However, that may not be the case as Wilder told ThaBoxingVoice: “If anything, it makes the fight better, it don’t hurt the fight.
“If anything it hurts the other competition with Joshua, that Fury’s signing with ESPN. He [Joshua] is with DAZN, it don’t really affect me.
“At the end of the day, if he wants to fight, then he’s gonna fight. If not, then we’ll move onto the next one. We have enough guys in the stable that we can fight for the next two years.
“When it comes to America, there’s only one American that’s dominant and that’s Deontay Wilder.”
Despite being represented by Al Haymon, Wilder claims he doesn’t have any deals specifically with PBC, Showtime or FOX.
When asked if he would fight on ESPN, Wilder replied, “Of course, it’s always where the money is, is gonna be right.
“I’m a free agent, I can fight anyone, I don’t necessarily have to fight on the networks that I’m on, I can fight anywhere.
“The rematch is still on the table for him if he wants it. If he don’t may God be with him.”
In the event the rematch doesn’t take place on the rumored date of May 18th, Wilder is still aiming to fight on that date.
Wilder stated: “We’re doing our own thing, we’re still gonna have that date. Who knows who it’s gonna be?
“It could be [Dominic] Breazeale, it could be [Adam] Kownacki, it could be [Dillian] Whyte.”
Top Rank supremo Bob Arum believes Fury now has a better negotiation stance than he did last week. The WBC ordered a 60-40 split in favor of their champ Deontay Wilder and even if Top Rank win the purse bid, Wilder will earn more.
Speaking with BoxingScene.com Arum said, “(the purse bid) doesn’t factor into it at all, the WBC wants the fight to happen. Good luck to them but we don’t need them to tell us how the purses should be. That’ll come with reasonable negotiations.”
Arum also distanced himself from the rumored May 18th date at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn which seemed set to be announced only days ago.
“Well, there’s no magic in May 18th,” Arum said. “That’s just one day of the year. When it comes time to pick a date for the fight, as long as the fight happen, what difference does it make if it’s in June? Or where it is. I mean, obviously, Las Vegas would be a good place for it and there are other good places for it. But, I mean, that’s to be decided when the time comes.”
Fury Catches Fight World By Surprise, Aligns With Top Rank Promotions
By: Sean Crose
In a move that has clearly taken the boxing world by surprise, Tyson Fury, the man many still consider to be the lineal heavyweight champion of the world, has signed on with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions. What makes this decision by Fury particularly surprising is the fact that discussions for a rematch between he and WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder, who Fury fought to a wild draw last December, have reportedly been going quite well. Now that Fury has aligned himself with Arum, who arguably is the arch rival of Wilder adviser Al Haymon, the rematch situation appears cloudy – at least for now. Also curious is the fact that Arum has no other top heavyweight in his stable.
“Tyson Fury, one of the world’s most dynamic and popular heavyweight boxers, and Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren are joining forces with Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank,” ESPN claimed in a press release. “The agreement will mean that Fury will be a headline part of the boxing lineup under the historic, long-termTop Rank on ESPN relationship.” Fury’s management company, Mack the Knife, or MTK as it’s more commonly known, also weighed in on the matter. “After intense negotiations between MTK Global, Queensberry Promotions, Top Rank and ESPN,” the company claimed, “Fury’s future fights will be co-promoted across BT Sports in the UK and ESPN networks and ESPN+ after landmark agreement was penned by Top Rank and Queensberry Promotions.”
Fury, an enormous, colorful Englishman, has stunned the fight world before. At the end of 2015, he bested long standing champion Wladimir Klitshcko in Germany, to wrest the heavyweight crown off the Ukranian’s head. It was a fight few felt Fury could win, but his awkward, frustrating style clearly baffled Kltischko and ended up carrying the day the for the outspoken contender. After his great victory, however, Fury delved into a world of booze, drugs, food, and depression…only to finally emerge after two years and two tuneup fights to face the hard hitting American, Wilder. Even in the Wilder fight, Fury managed to stun people. He was dropped by a thunderous shot in the final round…only to get up off the mat and to close the bout in competitive fashion.
With this latest news dropping, Fury once again has fans and analysts scratching their collective heads. Top Rank, however, is an esteemed, and powerful promotional outlet, helmed by the iconic, controversial, and wildly successful Arum, so it’s not as if Fury has gone off and signed with an obscure entity. Time will tell the tale.
Rob Brant Cruises To Stoppage Victory In ESPN Main Event
By: Sean Crose
ESPN and Top Rank Boxing presented a Friday evening card live from Minnesota’s Grand Casino. The main event featured WBA “Regular” Middleweight champ Rob Brant, 24-1, making his first title defense against 17-0 Ukranian Khasan Baysangurov. First off, however, Chicago’s 19-1-1 bantamweight Joshua Greer Jr battled the 19-3 Giovanni Escaner of the Philippians. The scheduled10 round contest was for a stepping-stone belt, the World Boxing Council Continental Americas Bantamweight Title. Escabar started well. Greer picked up steam in the middle rounds, however. Although Escabar was able to drop his man at (or after) the bell ending the 3’d, Greer put is man down – and out – at the end of the eighth with a perfect body blow. It was a story of one fighter riding out some tough moments and working steadily until he found a moment of his own.
Next up, the 9-0 2016 American Olympian Mikaela Mayer faced the 13-1-1 Yareli Larios of Mexico in a scheduled 8 rounder for the NABF Female Super Featherweight Title. Meyer, the champion, employed sound footwork, but the aggressive Larios was able to apply pressure effectively, employ effective aggression and find her mark early on. By the mid rounds, Mayer was better able to assert herself, though Larios was still arguably the more active fighter. As the fight went into the later rounds, Mayer’s skill set was starting to tell the tale over Lario’s fighting spirit. By the end of the 7th Larios was taking such a beating that the bout could have been stopped. Meyer ended up dominating the 8th and final round, leading to a UD win.
It was time for the main event. Brant moved in for the kill right at the opening bell. The local fighter went on to completely dominate the round. A Brant right dropped Baysangurov in the second. The Ukranian, however, beat the count. Baysangurov was certainly game, but his lack of head movement clearly made him an easier target than he should have been. WIth that being said, the third was a much better round for the challenger than the first two had been. The fourth was fairly close, but Brant’s activity gave him the edge. By the fifth it was clear that it was to be a high octane affair essentially throughout.
The midpoint of the fight showed that although Barsangurov had his moments, Brant was having the better night, dominating the tempo with greater frequency and landing more effectively than his foe. Brant continued to land and move well as the fight progressed into the later rounds. Heading into the championship rounds, it looked as if Brant simply had to do what he had been doing up until that point in the fight – be active and dictate the tempo. After a brutal attack in the 11th, the bloody Baysangurov hit the mat again. He got up bravely, but Brant moved right in again and the referee wisely stopped the fight.
Top Rank on ESPN Preview: Rob Brant vs. Khasan Baysangurov
By: Sean Crose
WBA “Regular” Middleweight Champion Rob Brant, 24-1, will defend his title against the 17-0 Khasan Baysangurov at Minnesota’s Grand Casino on Friday night, headlining a card to be aired lived as part of ESPNs Top Rank Boxing programming. A native of Minnesota himself, Brant will be making his first defense in front of what is essentially a local audience. Brant won his title by besting then-titlist Ryoto Murata last October in Last Vegas. The undefeated Baysangurov will be making his first attempt at a major title. Brant is clearly the Ukrainian fighter’s biggest test to date.
Without doubt, he may have his hands full. For Brant will be making his 12th appearance at the Grand Casino on Friday. Considering the fact that Baysangurov has only knocked out roughly 40% of his opponents (scoring just two stoppages in the six fights he has engaged in during the past two years) he may not be able to rely on a knockout. The Brant-Baysangurov match is scheduled for 12 rounds.
Chicago’s 19-1-1-Joshua Greer Jr will be on the card, as well. The bantamweight will be facing the 19-3 Giovanni Escaner in a scheduled 10 round contest for a stepping-stone belt, the World Boxing Council Continental Americas Bantamweight Title. Escaner, who hails from the Philippians, hasn’t lost since 2014. The only loss on Greer Jr’s record came courtesy of a majority decision being handed to Stephen Fulton in 2015. The man stopped all four of his opponents in 2018, along with three of his four opponents in 2017. This will be Escaner’s fight bout in the US. All of his previous 17 fights have occurred in the Ukraine, Russia, and Azerbaijan respectively.
The first match on the televised card will feature the 9-0 2016 American Olympian Mikaela Meyer, as the Colorado native faces the 13-1-1 Yareli Larios of Mexico in the second defense of her NABF Female Super Featherweight Title, which she won via unanimous decision over Vanessa Bradford last October in Omaha, Nebrasksa.
The televised portion of the card will begin at 9 PM Eastern Standard Time on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, while the preliminaries will be aired live on ESPNs streaming service, ESPN+ starting at 6 PM, Eastern Standard Time. A total of twelve fights are scheduled to go down on the card, which his being presented by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions, which has a lucrative broadcast deal with ESPN.
April 20: Crawford-Khan Lands at Madison Square Garden
Start spreading the news. The year’s most anticipated welterweight showdown is headed to The World’s Most Famous Arena.
Terence “Bud” Crawford will defend his WBO welterweight world title against Amir “King” Khan on Saturday, April 20 at Madison Square Garden.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Matchroom Boxing and Khan Promotions, tickets for this world championship event go on sale Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 12 p.m. ET/9a.m. PT. Tickets priced at $606, $406, $306, $206, $106, $81, and $56 (including facility fees) can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge by phone (866-858-0008) and online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.MSG.com.
Undercard bouts and details on how fans will be able to access the pay-per-view event will be announced at a later date.
“I can’t wait to head back to New York City and Madison Square Garden for this fight with Amir Khan. The Garden is the perfect venue for a fight of this magnitude,” Crawford said. “I know that my fans will make the trip up to New York and I’ll have a ton of support when I step in to the ring. I expect Khan’s British fans to come out as well, and I believe we will have a packed house on April 20. It’s going to be a great fight so make sure to get your tickets early.”
“New York is undoubtedly one of my most favorite cities in the world, and it’s like a second home to me,” Khan said. “This is the biggest fight of my career against one of the world’s best in Terence Crawford, and Madison Square Garden is the perfect venue for a fight of this magnitude. It’s a short flight for my fans from the United Kingdom, and they will be coming over in droves to see this fantastic fight. I want to become a three-time world champion, and that is my primary motivation to win this fight.”
“Terence Crawford is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, he always puts on a show at Madison Square Garden, and we’re excited New York fight fans will be able to see him fight again at The Garden on April 20,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president, MSG Marquee Events. “This will be an action-packed fight between Crawford and Amir Khan, and The Garden is excited to host this great night of boxing.”
Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs), widely regarded as the world’s best fighter, is a three-weight world champion who has knocked out five consecutive opponents. A former undisputed 140-pound world champion, Crawford won the WBO welterweight title in June 2018 with a ninth-round stoppage of Jeff “The Hornet” Horn. He defended the belt in October with a 12th-round TKO over bitter rival Jose Benavidez Jr. in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. This will be Crawford’s second headlining appearance at the big arena at Madison Square Garden. In May 2017, he knocked out 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz in 10 rounds.
Khan (33-4, 20 KOs), a former unified world champion at 140 pounds, has won two in a row since his 2016 knockout loss to middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez. He is 4-0 in his career when fighting as a welterweight, including wins over former world champions Devon Alexander, Chris Algieri, and Luis Collazo. Khan headlined at Madison Square Garden once before when he defended his WBA 140-pound world title against Paulie Malignaggi at The Theater on May 15, 2010.
Top Rank Boxing Results: Ramirez Squeaks Past Zepeda In Front Of Hometown Crowd
By: Sean Crose
Japan’s Hiroki Okada, 19-0, faced the popular vet Raymundo Beltran, 35-8-1, in a scheduled 10 round junior welterweight affair at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California on a Sunday night card aired live on ESPN. The first round was close, but Okada was landing more effectively. Beltran sent his man to the mat in the second, courtesy of a mean left. Okada got up on an eight count and didn’t appear badly hurt. Yet, in the final minute of the round, it was Beltran who got rocked by an Okada right. Beltran seemed to be getting an edge heading to the halfway mark. Okada, however, looked a bit sharper than Beltran in the 6th.
Okada continued to impress in the seventh, courtesy of a sharp jab and effective use of range. The fight continued on at a relatively exciting pace. In the ninth, however, things ended in explosive fashion. Beltran dropped his man once, but Okada got up. Beltran dropped him again..and referee Jack Reiss wisely stopped the match.
Jose Zepeda walked into the ring a short time later. The 30-1 fighter was facing the 23-0 Jose Ramiez for the WBC junior welterweight title in a scheduled 12 round affair. The southpaw Zepeda boxed quite effectively in the first, sticking and moving and keeping the champion Ramirez from landing hard. Zepeda was able to slick his way through the second, as well. The California native was adhering to an effective game plan. A more aggressive Ramirez seemed to edge the third, though the round could have gone either way. Being a home town fight for Ramirez, one had to assume any round that wasn’t completely dominated by Zepeda might well go to Ramirez.
Ramirez started the fourth very well, but Zepeda took the last portion. The fifth saw Ramirez have his moment, but Zepeda’s effective game plan ended up telling the tale. By the end of the sixth, it was clear that the first half of the bout was a story of ring generalship, where Zepeda employed footwork to dominate his foe. Ramirez was ale to get back in the fight in the seventh, as his punches began to land on a lackadaisical seeming Zepeda. Ramirez was able to land on his man very effectively in the eighth. The ninth saw Ramirez throw the more effective shots again. The fight had become quite close. Zepeda came back and asserted his skill set in the 10th. An exhausted Zepeda took the 11th. A vicious Ramirez took the 12th in a finally rally.
The judges gave the win to hometown fighter Ramirez by scores of 114-114, 115-113, 116-112.
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.