European Boxing Notebook: DeGale, Fury, Saunders, WBSS, and more…
By: Oliver McManus
A busy, busy couple of weeks has seen action across Britain aplenty but, for a while, there were relatively few major talking points. Nonetheless here is everything you could possibly need to know from the course of the last two weeks –
Chunky chases the dollar
James DeGale chose to relinquish his IBF super-middleweight title ahead of purse bids with his mandatory challenge Jose Uzcategui to chase fights that will define his “legacy in the division”. The 32 year old British boxer would have been up against a tough, powerful, Venezuelan in Uzcategui and the risk far outweighed the potential reward.
By ridding himself of the IBF title and, therefore, the mandatory situations he is now free to chase huge, money-making fights as he nears the end of his career. Without doubt the ideal location will be in the United Kingdom and DeGale never really managed to take off in America but, back home, there is the potential for some genuine mega-fights.
The winner of the World Boxing Super Series immediately springs to mind with Callum Smith and George Groves both providing stern tests and the appetite for a rematch with Groves has, arguably, never been hotter.
Billy Joe Saunders is another name that had been sounded out with potential for a clash to take place on September 15th but the finances of such a bout were believed to be a sticking point.
Watch this space, though.
Billy Joe Saunders mandated to defend against Demetrius Andrade
Talking of Billy Joe Saunders, the World Boxing Organisation has mandated their middleweight champion to defend his belt against mandatory challenger Demetrius Andrade – ranked number 2, the WBO’s number 1, Daniel Jacobs is facing Sergiy Derevyanchenko for the vacant IBF title – with purse bids expected before the end of the month.
Saunders was scheduled to face Martin Murray on two occasions already this year – April and June – before pulling out with injury both times and with Murray, now, reluctant to sign on for a third bout there was seemingly few attractive avenues for the champion to go down.
Against Andrade, Saunders would be up against a former super-welterweight champion and, you’d say, one of the hardest challenges of his career. We already know September 15th is the date being mooted for Saunders’ next fight, at the O2, and Andrade would provide quite a nice test in anticipation of a potential showdown with the winner of GGG-Canelo.
Saunders has already declared his willingness to take the fight as well as his confidence in beating the American but with Andrade signing with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing USA we could be set for one tasty purse bids.
WE HAVE A TOURNAMENT for 2018/19 with the World Boxing Super Series announcing the complete line-up for the Bantamweight division with no less than four world champions – the WBC are the only governing body not represented by a world champion (mainly because the belt is currently vacant) – in Emmanuel Rodriguez, Naoya Inoue, Ryan Burnett and Zolani Tete the belt holders to have signed up.
The other four fighters in the tournament are Jason Moloney (IBF Mandatory), Juan Carlos Payano (WBO #1), Nonito Donaire and, 4-0 Russian, Mikhail Aloyan.
Safe to say this tournament is shaping up to be the cruiserweight equivalent for 2018/19 and Emmanuel Rodriguez vs Jason Moloney will serve as one of the first quarter-finals having been called as a mandatory whilst Burnett, Tete and Inoue will be the other three seeds.
Fury looks to freeze Pianeta
The former heavyweight kingpin will be returning to the ring for the second time since his much awaited comeback kicked off and will face Francesco Pianeta at Windsor Park on August 18th, on the undercard of Carl Frampton vs Luke Jackson.
Fury will be looking for a far more polished and serious performance than the crowd at Manchester Arena witnessed on June 9th against Sefer Seferi with critics accusing him of not taking the sport seriously. Against Pianeta there is, on paper, a far more challenging opponent in the opposite corner with Pianeta a two-time world title challenger.
Those title challenges both ended with the Italian-born German getting knocked out, by Wladimir Klitschko and Ruslan Chagaev and the 40 fight veteran has had a less-than-impressive record over the past 12-18 months having lost to both Petar Milas and Kevin Johnson in depressingly convincing fashion.
Tyson Fury should, then, sweep past his latest challenge with relative comfort.
MTK Scottish card
MTK Global announced their first card as part of the new BoxNation broadcast agreement, to take place at the Emirates Arena on Friday 24th August in Glasgow with an absolutely stacked card of action set to take place.
Ronnie Clark, who sensationally upset Zelfa Barrett earlier in the year, defends his IBF European title against unbeaten prospect David Oliver Joyce – 7 and 0 – with the Irishman coming off the back of a sixth round TKO victory over Jordan Ellison.
Joyce has already proven his natural power with six wins via knockout and he’ll be looking to stamp his authority throughout the course of this, scheduled, 12 rounder. Clark is well aware of the threat posed by his 31 year old counterpart having declared the bout will be “amazing” to Irish-Boxing.com.
And, mark my words, this will be a war. There are no other ways of putting it.
On the undercard, local-legend, Willie Limond will return to the ring to take on MTK’s new signing in Darragh Foley over the course of 10 rounds with Foley fighting for the first time on British shores as a professional having been based in Australia up until now.
Rankin’ Rising up the Rankings
Hannah Ranking, the leading light in female Scottish boxing, will look to put behind her the previous issues in finding opponents when she travels to New York for her world title challenge on August 4th. Fighting Alicia Napoleon for the WBA Super Middleweight title, Rankin is in with a counterpart who has lost just once previously – to Tori Nelson – and is moving up YET ANOHTER weight category having last fought at middleweight and, prior to that, super welterweight.
British purse bids
As is always a busy period in the month, it was time for the BBBofC purse bids and seeing as there is so much to get through, this will be brief;
Cruiserweight – Matty Askin has been mandated to defend his British cruiserweight belt against up-and-coming Lawrence Okolie after the two have been verbally sparring across social media for weeks. The contest will go to purse bids on Wednesday, August 8th.
Light Heavyweight – Following a tempestuous fight for the English title back in February and months of expectation, a date was set for the rematch between Liam Conroy and Miles Shinkwin – slated for Friday, September 14th – but just days afterwards Liam Conroy decided to vacate the title and avoid the fight.
Middleweight – With the English middleweight belt being vacant promoter Errol Johnson reached an agreement with Reece Cartwright and Tyler Denny for the two to go toe-to-toe on Saturday, September 29th in Walsall for the title.
Super Welterweight – An agreement was reached by Eddie Hearn and the respective parties to stage Asinia Byfield vs Ted Cheeseman for the vacant British Super Welterweight title with the fight to take place on Saturday, October 20th in London; Adam Harper and Billy Bird will meet for the vacant English title on Saturday, September 22nd in Ipswich.
Super Lightweight – Robbie Davies signed a three-fight agreement with Eddie Hearn earlier in the month and his first fight will be on Saturday, October 13th in Newcastle for the vacant British Super Lightweight title and he’ll be up against Glenn Foot in a bruising encounter.
HBO World Championship Boxing Results: Saunders Routes Lemieux, Ulysses and O’Sullivan Win
By: Eric Lunger
Billy Joe Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs) made his third defense of his WBO middleweight belt tonight at the he Place Bell in Quebec, Canada, taking on fearsome power-puncher and former IBF World middleweight champion David Lemieux (38-3, 33 KOs).
Photo Credit: HBO Boxing
Saunders won the WBO strap almost two years ago to the day, nipping Andy Lee by majority decision. After lackluster performances against Artur Akavov and Willie Monroe, Jr., meeting David Lemieux on his home ground was a significant step-up in opposition for Saunders, and marked his first professional foray outside of the United Kingdom. A southpaw and counter-puncher, Saunders is notorious for his trash-talking and his willingness to try to win on points.
David Lemieux is a more fan-friendly, pressure fighter who has knockout power in both hands. The match-up, a classic southpaw boxer vs. orthodox puncher, promised an intriguing show, and betting odds were virtually even going into fight week. The British media and fans were, not uncharacteristically, favoring Saunders, while most fight critics on this continent were leaning towards Lemieux.
Saunders took the first round, boxing and moving, while Lemieux was trying to find his range, but Saunders confidence soared in the second, as the Englishman danced and landed almost at will. In the third, Lemieux gave the crowd something to cheer about, landing a few shots, but Saunders continued to outbox him. In the fourth, Saunders elicited boos from the crowd, moving around the ring, dropping his hands, not throwing punches, but he clearly won the round. The boxing lesson continued in the fifth, as Lemieux could not find Saunders, and Saunders managed the distance with ease.
The one-sided nature of the bout continued: in the seventh, Saunders caught Lemieux with a good combination, snapping the Canadian’s head back. Then came a straight left down the pipe, staggering Lemieux, as though Lemieux had never sparred against a southpaw. And in the eighth, Saunders continued to be three or four steps ahead of the home town fighter.
To put it simply, Lemieux had no answers to the puzzle in front of him. In fact, he never started to figure out Saunders, and could not cut off the ring — the only way to make progress against a fighter of Saunders talent and style.
The judges saw it 120-108, 117-11, and 118-110 for Saunders.
The featured undercard bout saw Antoine Douglas (22-1, 16 KOs) of Washington, DC, took on Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan (26-2, 18 KOs) of Cork, Ireland, in a ten-round middleweight bout. The colorful O’Sullivan, 33, lost to Saunders in July of 2013. Douglas came out in the first slowly and tentatively — nervous almost– and let O’Sullivan land on him frequently, despite appearing the faster fighter with quicker feet. The second round was a brawl, with both men throwing and landing big shots. The third was similar, as Douglas stayed in front of O’Sullivan, not using his feet to outbox the Irishman.
In the middle rounds, both fighters continued to land heavy power shots upstairs, but Douglas was absorbing a number of big right hands from O’Sullivan. The end came in the seventh as O’Sullivan caught Douglas against the ropes and batter him to the canvas. A dazed Douglas beat the count, but the referee wisely called off the bout.
Earlier in the evening, undefeated Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin (21-0, 17 KOs) took on Yves Ulysse, Jr. (14-1, 9 KOs), in a ten-round super lightweight clash. With a combined seventy-two percent KO average between the two fighters, this one wasn’t likely to go the distance.
Seldin, from Long Island, NY, fought last month on the undercard of the HBO broadcast of Jacobs vs. Arias, and has built up something of a cult-following in the Metro area.
Unfortunately for the “Hammer,” Ulysse’s superior movement and hand-speed exposed Seldin as a one-dimensional slugger. In the first round Ulyssse scored his first knockdown, beating Seldin to the punch inside. In the second round, the Canadian fighter timed Seldin with a beautiful straight right, and, in the third, a combination uppercuts and hooks thrown in wicked succession dropped Seldin again. The Long Island man showed a ton of heart, especially in a brutal tenth round where he took significant punishment, but he was simply outclassed by a fast, fluid, and talented Yves Ulysse. The final scores: 99-88 across the board for Ulysse.
HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Saunders vs. Lemieux, Seldin vs. Ulysses, Douglas vs. O’Sullivan
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, Canada will be the host site for an HBO Triple Header to take place on HBO World Championship Boxing.
The opening bout will be between Cletus “Hebrew Hammer” Seldin and Yves Ulysse, Jr. in the junior welterweight division. The second bout of the night will be between Antoine Douglas and Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan in the middleweight division. The main event of the night will be between Billy Joe Saunders and David Lemieux for the WBO Middleweight title.
Photo Credit: Vincent Ethier/Eye of the Tiger Management
This fight card will help lend some clarity to the middleweight division behind the two current kingpins of the middleweights, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. This card will also feature Cletus Seldin, a popular Jewish fighter that HBO seems keen on featuring in the future.
The following is a preview of all three bouts.
Cletus Seldin (21-0) vs. Yves Ulysse, Jr. (14-1); Junior Welterweights
The opening bout of the night is between the Hebrew Hammer Cletus Seldin and Yves Ulysse.
Seldin is a compact power puncher who has seventeen stoppage victories on his record. He’s thirty one years old and needs to make a serious run now if he ever wants to fight for a legitimate world title.
He’ll be about the same height as Ulysse as both are 5’7”. Seldin is also the more powerful puncher of the two. Ulysse only has nine stoppage victories to his credit. However, Ulysse is two years younger than his opponent.
Both boxers have been fairly active the past two years. Ulysse fought four times in 2017 and once in 2016, while Seldin has fought twice in 2017 and twice in 2016.
Neither boxer had a notable amateur career, but Seldin appears to have had more success than Ulysse. Seldin was a Long Island Amateur Champion and lost in the finals of the New York State Golden Gloves.
Seldin has defeated the likes of Robert Ortiz, Renald Garrido, Jesus Selig, Orlando Vazquez, and Bayan Jargal.
Ulysse has defeated the likes of Ricky Sismundo and Zachary Ochoa. His lone loss was in his last fight to Steve Claggett.
Seldin fights a style that leaves him open to counters but puts on an exciting fight for his fans. Ulysse has a good record, but is the underdog going into the fight.
However, Ulysse was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and will have the support of the fans in attendance.
Antoine Douglas (22-1-1) vs. Gary O’Sullivan (26-2); WBO Inter-Continental Middleweight Title
Antoine Douglas is a good middleweight prospect who’s rise to the top was briefly derailed when he faced and lost to Avtandil Khurtsidze. He has since won three fights in a row and looks to reclaim his spot as a can’t miss prospect.
Douglas is still young and is in the middle of his prime at twenty five years old. O’Sullivan is getting near the end of his prime and is currently thirty three years old.
O’Sullivan and Douglas have similar knockout power. Douglas has stopped sixteen of his opponents and has one stoppage loss. O’Sullivan has stopped eighteen of his opponents and also has one stoppage loss.
Both boxers fought once in 2016 and three times in 2017.
Douglas has defeated the likes of Juan De Angel, Istvan Szili, and Thomas Lamanna. His lone loss was to Avtandil Khurtsidze and he drew with Micahel Soro.
O’Sullivan has defeated the likes of Nick Quigley, Melvin Betancourt, Milton Nunez, and Matthew Hall. The two times he faced good opposition, Chris Eubank Jr. and Billy Joe Saunders, he lost.
Douglas has quick hands and is willing to throw combinations and take risky exchanges. But his opponent is a veteran with knockout power.
This fight should be a tense and close fight, but it’s a fight that Douglas should be considered a close favorite.
Billy Joe Saunders (25-0) vs. David Lemieux (38-3): WBO Middleweight World Title
The main event of the evening is between Billy Joe Saunders and David Lemieux for the WBO Middleweight Title. The winner of this bout may set himself up for a future fight with either Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez.
Both boxers are twenty eight years old and are in the midst of their prime. Saunders will have a slight inch and a half height advantage on Lemieux, but Lemieux has thirty three stoppage victories to his credit while Saunders only has twelve stoppage victories.
This will be Saunders first fight outside of the United Kingdom, but he doesn’t seem bothered by it. He recently stated, “I’m used to fight outside the UK, I’m a traveler of the world. I don’t care if there’s a million people. It’s just me and him in that ring, end of the story. As for the rest, I don’t care.”
Saunders does have a better amateur resume than Lemieux. He is a former Commonwealth Champion and competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Lemieux was the Canadian Junior National Champion in 2006.
However, Lemieux does seem confident in his power and his ability to hurt Saunders with his power. He stated, “I’ve never said that I doubted his chin. Regardless he will hit the floor. And whether I win by knock out or go 12 rounds, it’s no matter. But I will drop him and I will hurt him”
Saunders has defeated the likes of Willie Monroe Jr., Artur Akavov, Andy Lee, Chris Eubank Jr., Gary O’Sullivan, Matthew Hall, and Jarrod Fletcher.
Saunders though has not been very active the past two years. He only fought once in 2017 and once in 2016.
It should be noted that his win against Andy Lee was a majority decision and his win against Eubank was a split decision.
Lemieux has defeated the likes of Curtis Stevens, Glen Tapia, Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, Gabriel Rosado, Fernando Guerrero, Hector Camacho Jr., and Elvin Ayala. His losses were to Marco Antonio Rubio, Joachim Alcine, and Gennady Golovkin.
The biggest intangible of this fight is the fact it takes place in Quebec, Canada and Lemieux is Canadian. The fans will be backing Lemieux in this fight and that kind of support has been known to influence the judges.
Saunders two biggest victories were close decisions in the United Kingdom. It’s unlikely he’ll get a close decision in Canada.
As long as Lemieux can keep up his energy and pressure for all twelve rounds it’s a fight that he can and should win.
Original Gangster: Antandil Khurtsidze Arrested In Organized Crime Roundup
Original Gangster: Antandil Khurtsidze Arrested In Organized Crime Roundup
By: Sean Crose
Okay, I admit that title is a bit disingenuous. The truth is that here in the United States of America, one is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Therefore, middleweight Antandil Khurtsidze, who was arrested on Wednesday in a roundup of people reputedly connected to what the United States’ Attorney of the Southern District of New York referred to as “a Russian and Georgian Criminal Enterprise,” has done nothing wrong in the eyes of society. Still, the man is now up on charges and his upcoming title bout with Billy Joe Saunders is at least temporarily kaput. That does not constitute a good day.
Specifically, Khurtsidze, a 33-2-2 product of the nation of Georgia who now lives in Brooklyn, is standing accused of conspiring to commit wire fraud and with breaking the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) Act. If convicted, the man can face decades in prison, be fined a ton of money and eventually end up under supervised release. The group Khurtsidze is reputedly connected to is known as the Shulaya Enterprise, a Russian/Georgian crime syndicate led by one Razhden Shulaya.
Among the Enterprise’s alleged operations are: illegal poker establishments in Brighton Beach, the extortion of gamblers and business owners, the attempted high tech defrauding of casinos, the theft of 10,000 pounds of chocolate (it’s true), the theft of other cargo shipments, the employment of a female Enterprise member to lure in and rob unsuspecting males (after rendering the victim’s unconscious with gas), the movement of untaxed cigarettes, the intention to open an after hours club (where, among other things, illegal narcotics would be sold), plans to bribe law enforcement, and forgery. With an assortment of charges, such as a “murder for hire conspiracy” and “conspiracy to sell firearms to a felon” lodged against its members, the Shulaya Enterprise appears to be quite a fearsome group – at least on paper.
All of this, of course, leaves middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders high and dry. He and Khurtsidze were supposed to fight in England this July. Now that his opponent has far more pressing things to attend to, Saunders will have to wait for another opportunity to fight. This, of course, only adds to the strangeness of Saunders’ title reign, which has consisted of twitter rants, long periods of time outside the ring and a ho-hum performance against Artur Akavov last December.
Still, Saunders’ future looks to be far brighter than Khurtsidze’s is at the moment. Sometimes it’s good to put everything in perspective.
Why Is Disappointment Such An Enormous Part Of Boxing?
Why Is Disappointment Such An Enormous Part Of Boxing?
By: Sean Crose
Seanie Monaghan wanted to fight Adonis Stevenson. He was disappointed. Adonis Stevenson wanted to fight Joe Smith. He was disappointed. Gennady Golovkin wanted to fight Billy Joe Saunders. He was disappointed. Billy Joe Saunders then wanted to fight Gennady Golovkin. He was disappointed. Welcome to boxing, where disappointment seems to sometimes reign as undisputed pound for pound king. The other night, while I was at the Mohegan Sun Casino to see Sullivan Barrera top off an entertaining card by besting the overmatched Paul Parker, I found myself less than a foot away from talented junior middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade.
I asked the skillful Rhode Islander what he had in store for the future. The answer, unfortunately, was nothing at the moment. Andrade, you see, had wanted to face Cuban slickster Erislandy Lara, but ended up being – you guessed it – disappointed. The point of this piece isn’t to point fingers at any of the fighters mentioned above (or below), but rather to illustrate what a frustrating endeavor boxing can be…especially for those who are doing the fighting. It was clear sitting near Andrade, for instance, that the man keeps himself in shape and has expert knowledge of the skills required for success in the ring. His last fight wasn’t even televised in the states, however, and his future, at least at the moment, is grey.
Again, the point here isn’t to support or condemn Andrade (though he’s certainly an engaging guy to speak with). The point here is merely to illustrate the vast, some might even argue infinite, figurative desert so many fighters tend to find themselves in. Part of this, of course, has to do with the fact that boxing has no single controlling authority. This can be frustrating, but at least there’s not one or two people who get to pick who does and doesn’t become a star.
Then again, there’s also the matter of cherrypicking, which seems to be more relevant than ever these days. Fighters, even up and comers, can act like marketing experts, even when they’re not. Instead of trying to be Floyd Mayweather, boxer, some pugilists seem to aspire to be Floyd Mayweather, millionaire. There’s a huge difference between those two entities, but it looks as if some, if not many, fighters are afraid to recognize it. Such thinking leads, of course, to disappointment among fans, possible opponents and perhaps even the fighters themselves. Fighters, after all, SHOULD care about legacies if they have the chance to create them.
Look, disappointment has been a big part of boxing since at least the time John L Sullivan made it clear he wouldn’t fight the likes of “Prince” Peter Jackson because of Jackson’s skin color. That doesn’t mean there should be as many disappointed souls in the fight game as there seems to be, however. Just because disappointment is a natural part of everyone’s life doesn’t require it to play a leading role. The question, of course, is how can anyone, much less fans, actually deal with this issue plaguing the sweet science? No one appears to have a single satisfactory answer.
Oh well, at least Barrera seemed happy in the wee hours of Saturday morning as I said hi to him walking out of the arena and into the busy casino. For the record, he was supposed to have fought Artur Beterbiev on the 21st of April, but pulled out of the match, having to settle instead for some work against Parker. I think it’s safe to say people were disappointed by that particular turn of events.
GGG Already Preparing for Next Fight
GGG already preparing for next fight
By: Matthew N. Becher
As boxing fans still debate the outcome from last Saturdays PPV fight between Gennady Golovkin and Danny Jacobs, one thing that for certain is, GGG got the win and is looking to get back in the ring no later than June.
Golovkin won on Saturday at Madison Square Garden to retain his WBA, WBC & IBF Middleweight titles. It was the first time in Golovkins career that he was taken to the 12th round of a fight and it ended his record 23 consecutive fight KO streak.
Most people are now waiting for the outcome of Canelo v. Chavez Jr. before Canelo and Golovkin can make it official to share a ring later this year in September. Canelo’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, was not quick to say that his man would be jumping at the bit to fight GGG.
“I actually believe [the percentages of making the fight] decrease. It all depends on the negotiations – and we’ll continue talks – but now obviously we clearly know who the ‘A’ side is and that’s obviously Canelo. So I’m going to instruct my president, Eric Gomez, to continue talks and, hopefully, it can get done,” said De La Hoya to the latimes.com.
One thing that may happen before any mega fight with Canelo, is another fight for Golovkin this June, in his native Kazakhstan. One man who would love to see GGG fight in June is his trainer Abel Sanchez, who likes his man to be in the ring rather than only fighting twice a year.
“We’re not gonna hold Gennady back on the chance that there is a fight in September…This year we hope to fight four times, that’s what he wants…” Sanchez told Badlefthook.com
The fight on the table right now would be against the WBO middleweight champion, Billy Joe Saunders. Saunders has been extremely inactive as a fighter, only fighting once in 2016, which was also his lone title defense. He has recently spoken about being ready to travel to Kazakhstan and fight Golovkin to unify the entire division.
“I’ll travel anywhere. I’m not bothered about fighting him in Kazakhstan — I’ll fight him in a field for all I care.
“He wants the WBO belt and I’m willing to put it on the line. Golovkin is strong but a boxer always beats a puncher and he’s never faced anyone as tricky as me.
“Jacobs gave him a real fight on Saturday but he isn’t in my class when I’m on form.”
The one downfall about all this recent talk from Saunders is the fact that he spoke on his twitter page that he was giving the GGG camp only until the end of this week to sign a contract or else he was looking elsewhere for a fight. Very strange demand for a man who has only fought 2x in the last couple years. We will wait and see.
Billy Joe Saunders Continues Not To Impress
Billy Joe Saunders Continues Not To Impress
By: Sean Crose
Here’s the truth – I could see last Saturday’s WBO middleweight title match in Scotland between champion Billy Joe Saunders and Artur Akavov being scored a draw. No, I didn’t see the 23-0 Saunders losing the fight to his 16-1 opponent. Nor do I have much of a problem with the judges giving Saunders a unanimous decision nod. I simply think that a draw wouldn’t have been a terrible decision, either. The fight, after all, was rather close. And when one considers the fact that no one knew who Akavov was before Wednesday, it’s time to admit that Saturday’s performance didn’t do Saunders’ already tarnished reputation any favors.
For starters, the Englishman hadn’t fought in about a year, since besting Ireland’s Andy Lee for his belt back in late 2015. Since then, Saunders has dealt with a career that’s been sidelined because of injuries and fights which have never come to fruition. A throwdown with middleweight counterpart GGG didn’t happen. A bout that could have led to a lucrative match with star Canelo Alvarez didn’t happen either. To add insult to injury, there’s a strong belief that Saunders didn’t want those potential big fights to happen. Judging by the man’s performance on Saturday it’s easy to suspect why.
For although Saunders didn’t look as bad as some say – or as he himself has apparently said – he certainly didn’t look on the level of GGG or Canelo. He arguably didn’t look on the level of fellow middleweights like Curtis Stevens and Daniel Jacobs, either. What Saunders looked like was a somewhat plodding professional with a degree of craftiness and a considerable amount of heart. Laudable assets, to be sure, but not the kind of things that lead to considerable wealth and greatness. Then again, perhaps considerable wealth and greatness aren’t things Saunders is looking for. Perhaps he’s more or less happy with where he is on the middleweight ladder and with what he has.
The problem, of course, is that what the man has is a world title. And world titles make fighters targets. Perhaps he can avoid GGG and Canelo forever, but it’s possible Saunders is still going to have trouble holding on to that WBO belt if he looks like he did on Saturday. Word is the man had to drop down from over 200 pounds in order to make weight for this weekend. Not good at all. Perhaps nothing can be done if Saunders wishes to go the Adonis Stevenson route and not mix it up with the top names in and near his division. He may want to be sure, however, that he’s always looking his best, no matter who it is he steps in the ring with from here on in.
Get a Grip, Billy Joe Saunders
Get a Grip, Billy Joe Saunders
By: Brandon Bernica
Billy Joe Saunders reminds me of Gollum from The Hobbit. Just as with Saunders’ belt, Gollum’s ring infatuates him with illusions of grandeur. Both are so committed to their prized possessions that their sanities hinge on protecting their gold at all times.
Truthfully, Saunders rejecting big-name fights is indicative of this nature. In fact, it isn’t lofty to suggest that he masquerades as a false champion with delusional sensibilities.
First, Gennady Golovkin offered him a lucrative deal to unify titles – even ceding home turf advantage to Saunders for the fight. That wasn’t enough money for Billy Joe. Soon after, Golden Boy presented him with contracts to fight Golovkin victims Curtis Stevens and Willie Monroe. Both were turned down for unknown reasons.
At this point, you’d probably assert that nothing could top these levels of avoidance from a “champion”. Think again. After reviewing terms to fight middleweight journeyman Gabe Rosado on the Canelo vs. Smith undercard, Saunders passed on the bout because Rosado is not a strong enough name to add to his resumé. While shocking, Saunders’ decisions signal bad news for the outlook on the rest of his career.
Saunders’ career can fall into one of two directions from this point. One outcome of his stingy micromanagement could be a refusal of any big names to fight with him. While Saunders appears content to guard his belt against heavily outmatched opponents, he’ll eventually need a star fighter to bring him money and public respect. As they say, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
But what if an inverse scenario is true? What if big names prey on him, sensing the fear underlying his steady diet of match rejections? At some point, either public pressure or a sanctioning organization will force him into one of these fights, which could leave him exposed and stripped of marketability. By then, it will be too late to return to the negotiating table with the big boys with his career heading towards a sharp descent, leaving him little more than a cautionary tale.
Sadly, Saunders’ unwillingness to fight only points to a common trend in today’s boxing world: fighters search for the highest reward while incurring the lowest risk. Floyd Mayweather made a career off of maximizing his earning potential without consistently challenging himself against the best. Mayweather utilized a bevy of excuses in rationalizing his behavior, and now other fighters are following suit. Note to the boxing world: you are not entitled. You made your name off of cutting your teeth and dedication; to give up this edge is a lead-in to disaster.
Saunders didn’t start out the tepid fighter he is now. His road to notoriety crossed through fellow up-and-comer Chris Eubank Jr and former world champion Andy Lee, winning both of his fights impressively en route to prominence. But the road to respect in boxing doesn’t end overnight. It endures night after night of painstaking work. Saunders will never win the adulation of boxing fans until he embraces this grind. Here’s hoping that that happens soon.
Is Gennady Golovkin a Bully or Misunderstood?
Is Gennady Golovkin a bully or misunderstood?
By: Kirk Jackson
We’re a few days removed from the shocking announcement making waves in the sport of boxing. The announcement of the match-up featuring two champions. The battle between Kell Brook 36-0 (25 KO’s) and Gennady Golovkin 35-0 (32 KO’s).
Many people, fans, trainers and fighters alike are in shock of this match-up.
There is a claim echoed by many supporters of Golovkin stating Saul Alvarez, most recently Chris Eubank Jr., along with the other prominent fighters of the middleweight division are afraid of Golovkin.
Golovkin sports an 91% knock out ratio and has a current streak of 22 straight KO’s.
Is it really the case that everyone is too afraid to fight Golovkin? Hall of Fame Trainer Freddie Roach appears to think so.
“The thing is there is nobody out there that will fight him though. These guys are all saying no. He’s [Golovkin] a dangerous guy,” said Roach in an interview with Radio Rahim.
The biggest criticism of Golovkin is his level of opposition. No disrespect intended, but Dominic Wade, Marco Antonio Rubio, Willie Monroe Jr. and David Lemieux are not exactly marquee names in the middleweight division.
But at the same token, talks with the aforementioned Eubank and Alvarez, regular WBA middleweight champion Danny Jacobs, WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders, retired super middleweight champion Carl Froch, either faltered or never transpired to begin with.
There is two sides to every negotiation so who truly knows what happened. It should be noted fighters such as Andre Ward and Erislandy Lara have openly talked about their willingness to face Golovkin and even called him out on a few occasions.
Like some of the other fight candidates, a proposed match-up between Golovkin vs. Ward and Golovkin vs. Lara never materialized.
Enter Kell Brook, which is an interesting case, as he was not on Golovkin’s radar initially.
A few things are certain now that Brook and Golovkin are set to fight Sept. 10th at the O2 Arena in London.
Golovkin and Brook were engaged in tough negotiations with other fighters, talks dissolved and they found a resolution in facing each other.
Brook has much more to gain with this fight. He has been criticized with having a soft touch of weak opposition in the past and that’s a fair assessment. Aside from Shawn Porter, the list of high caliber opponents on Brook’s resume is lacking.
A quick fix for that issue is moving up two weight divisions to face the unified middleweight champion of the world. As the underdog, Brook will have the support of many and he is fighting on home turf in London.
Some may question the reasoning for Brook to fight Golovkin. So far as explanations go, Brook stated he wants to fight the best opposition.
Current WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas, who was slated to face Brook in a unification match, suggests Brook has different intentions.
“Brook was just looking for a big payday. It’s a low-risk, high-reward situation. No one expects him to beat Triple G. What happens if he would have lost to me? He goes back to London without his title and no more significant paydays.”
For Golovkin, he is a strong, menacing, middleweight facing a smaller welterweight. Honestly this should be viewed as an unfair match-up; that should be the narrative.
Critics scoffed at the notion of the larger junior middleweight/middleweight/155 pounder Saul Alvarez fighting the welterweight Amir Khan. The fight happened and we saw Khan get smacked into unconsciousness.
Potentially, Brook vs. Golovkin can be much worse. Brook has a better chin than Khan, but Golovkin is a bigger puncher than Alvarez.
From the perspective of analyzing skills and achievements, Brook can be considered best opponent Golovkin will have faced thus far in his professional career.
This is quite interesting for the 34 year-old Golovkin. Although Brook is arguably top 10 pound-for-pound talent, weight classes exist for a reason.
If Golovkin manages to lose this fight, plenty of questions will be raised regarding the legitimacy of his career. Not saying it’s fair, but that’s the reality of the situation.
A great middleweight should not lose to a really good welterweight.
In some instances, Team Golovkin is damned if they do, damned if they don’t with this match-up.
But they may be at fault for their positioning with this dilemma. Team Golovkin has been the beneficiary of countless excuses made by the media and benefited tremendously from the false narrative projected by these same outlets.
As many great fighters have done in the past when seeking greater challenges, they typically move up in weight, not down.
Moving up not only in search of greater challenges, but larger paydays and worldwide recognition for seeking and achieving greater accomplishments.
Essentially what Brook is doing, something the Golovkin will soon follow.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Monroe, Top Rank, Gonzalez, Barrios, Benavidez, Gomez, Saunders, and more
Boxing Insider Notebook: Monroe, Top Rank, Gonzalez, Barrios, Benavidez, Gomez, Saunders, and more
By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of July 5th to July 12th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Banner Promotions Re-signs Willie Monroe Jr.
Banner Promotions is pleased to announce the re-signing of former world title challenger and Boxcino 2014 Middleweight champion, Willie Monroe Jr. to an exclusive promotional agreement.
Monroe of Rochester, New York has a record of 20-2 with 6 knockouts and is coming off a 10-round unanimous decision over fellow former world title challenger and Boxcino champion, John Thompson on June 11th in Verona, New York.
The 29 year-old Monroe turned professional in 2008 and won his first 10 bouts. Monroe won the 2014 Boxcino Middleweight tournament with wins over Donatas Bondorovas, Vitally Kopylenko, and Brandon Adams.
Those wins catapulted him into a bout with WBA/Interim WBC Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.
Monroe performed admirably in the bout, which took place on May 16, 2015 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
“I’m excited to re-sign with Banner Promotions. Artie has been nothing but great to me, and he’ll put me in position to fight against the Danny Jacobs and Canelos of the boxing world,” said Willie Monroe Jr.
“It feels good to have a fresh start over. I am coming off of a huge win on Showtime vs. John Thompson, and I now have a great team watching my back with my brother, Trent Monroe, TJ Nolan and Adrian Clark as my Strategic Partner.”
“Doing what was best for Willie was the focal point in negotiations. We put our heads together and structured a great deal for Willie with Banner Promotions. I am looking forward to working with Artie to map out things for Willie,” said Adrian Clark, Monroe’s Strategic Partner.
“We are excited to have Willie back in the fold,” said Banner Promotions President, Arthur Pelullo.
“Willie has showed not only in the Boxcino tournament, but in his fight against Golovkin, that he is one of the top middleweights in the world. He had a great performance against John Thompson, and now he is ready for any challenge in the division. We will be actively pursuing all of those opportunities for Willie.”
Top Rank Signs Jose Gonzalez
Unbeaten featherweight prospect José ‘El Chocolatito’ González signed a multiannual promotional contract with Top Rank® the promotional company based in Las Vegas that is led by hall of fame promoter, Bob Arum.
As a professional fighter, Gonzalez, who was born and raised in Harlem, New York, marches undefeated with a record of 3-0-1 and 1 knockout. The fighter that is called ‘El Chocolatito’ amassed a 34-6 record as an amateur and won various amateur tournaments as: Junior Olympics in 2011 and Golden Gloves in 2014.
“I feel very blessed and thankful for my managers and Top Rank for giving me this opportunity to sign with the best promotional company,” said Gonzalez. This will motivate me to train harder every day and accomplish my goal of becoming a world champion,” guaranteed the 20-year old fighter.
‘El Chocolatito’, who describes himself as a classic boxer-puncher with knockout power, is trained by his father Martin Gonzalez, in the famous Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn.
Boxing runs through the Gonzalez’s veins. Martin represented Nicaragua in 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona and Jose is the cousin of world champion Roman ‘El Chocolatito’ Gonzalez, from whom he adopted his nickname.
“Jose is solid prospect who is always in entertaining fights and has a growing fan base. Along with his manager, Richard Anthony guiding him, his future is extremely bright,” said Carl Moretti, vice-president of Top Rank.
“It is a honor and privilege to work with the Top Rank family. Bob Arum and his team have been a delight to work with and we look forward to a long and happy relationship,” said Richard Anthony, manager of Gonzalez.
Details about Gonzalez debut under the Top Rank banner will be announced soon.
Barrios Defeats Boschiero on ESPN
Undefeated rising super featherweight contender Mario Barrios (16-0, 8 KOs) defeated former title challenger Devis Boschiero (39-5-1, 21 KOs) by unanimous decision (120-107 X 3) in the 12-round main event of Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN & ESPN Deportes from Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, New Jersey.
From the opening bell, Barrios asserted himself as the aggressor, landing his jab at will and finding his distance early.
Barrios said, “Initially my game plan was to work the jab and see what would open (Boschiero) up. But as the rounds went by he didn’t seem like he was going to come at me. He just didn’t seem to want any action.”
A very tall super featherweight at more than six feet, the 21-year-old Barrios proved difficult for the stocky Boschiero to reach. However, near the end of the second round, the experienced Italian found a rare opening and landed several punches that briefly put Barrios on his heels.
In round three, Barrios regained control and coasted throughout the middle rounds, largely due to Boschiero’s hesitation to engage.
“It was pretty frustrating. I came out to put on a show for the fans, and unfortunately it seemed like my opponent was just trying to survive,” said Barrios. “I can try to press the fight all I want, but if he doesn’t want to fight it’s not going to happen.”
Boschiero, who challenged for a world title in 2011, added, “I had trouble finding my range tonight. He was tougher to hit then I expected.”
In round 12, Barrios scored the only knockdown of the fight, but Boschiero was able to get back to his feet and used the final seconds of the fight to execute his best combination of the night.
“I got to him in the final round,” said Bosciero. “But the opportunities were there when they weren’t in previous rounds.”
A victorious Barrios said, “This was my first 12-round fight, and it felt good to get the experience, I just wanted more intense action. But an ESPN main event takes my career to the next level. I’m just hoping for my shot at the title.”
Televised coverage kicked off with undefeated prospect Eddie Ramirez (14-0, 9 KOs) handily defeating Californian contender Jessie Roman (20-3, 9 KOs) by unanimous decision (98-92, 99-91 X2) in a 10-round super lightweight showdown.
David Benavidez Gets Right Back in the Gym
Just two days after dominating previously undefeated Francy Ntetu (16-1, 3 KOs) on Premier Boxing Champions’ June 25th CBS card at New York’s Barclay’s Center, “El Bandera Roja,” David Benavidez, was back at his home gym in Long Beach, preparing for his next bout. The rising star had no intention of taking time off, and jumped right into an intense training regimen that included sparring with Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (34-0, 24KO), who was set to make his pay-per-view debut later in the month, but was sidelined this week with an injury.
“My last fight was hard, but I learned a lot,” stated Benavidez regarding his bout with previously unbeaten Canadian Ntetu. “It was great experience, getting rounds in.”
With only one exception, a six round fight that went the distance in 2014, Benavidez hadn’t fought beyond the second round, knocking out opponent after opponent.
“I feel better and more experienced,” Benavidez continued. “I have confidence knowing I can go into deep waters and finish a fight if I have to. I’m learning how to pace myself when I need to during a round, and I know that those later rounds made me a better fighter.”
As Benavidez prepares for his next fight, he’s focused completely on improving himself.
“I didn’t mind getting right back to the gym,” said Benavidez. “This is my lifestyle now. I just want to train. I want to look at what I did wrong in my last fight and fix it. I don’t want to get rusty in between fights. When I’m not physically training, I’m thinking about mistakes I made in fights, techniques that can be improved. I want to get better each fight, and I’m consumed by that.”
“It’s this commitment to success and improvement that sets David apart from other young men his age, and other fighters,” said Jose Benavidez, Sr., David’s father and head trainer. “This is what makes him different, and this is why he’s going to be the best.”
Gomez Suffers Injury, Velez vs. Alvarado New Main Event
The exciting 10-round super featherweight bout between Jayson “La Maravilla” Velez (23-2-1, 16 KOs) and Rene “Gemelo” Alvarado (23-7, 16 KOs) has been upgraded to the main event on the Estrella TV Boxeo Estelar, broadcast on July 15. The originally scheduled fight between Alfonso Gomez vs. Pablo Cesar Cano has been cancelled due to Gomez sustaining an elbow injury earlier this week.
Live from Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, the event will feature a new televised co-main event between undefeated prospect Rashidi “Speedy” Ellis (15-0, 11 KOs) of Boston and Luis “La Roca” Hernandez (12-1, 7 KOs) of Rio Pierdas, Puerto Rico in a eight-round super welterweight fight. Decorated amateur, Cesar Diaz of Palmdale, Calif. will make his professional debut and open up the Estrella TV broadcast in a scheduled four-round super bantamweight fight.
The event will feature former five-division boxing world champion and International Boxing Hall of Famer Sugar Ray Leonard hosting a meet and greet at the Fantasy Springs Special Events Center ahead of the televised bouts from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Rob Brandt Wants to Face Billy Joe Saunders
Undefeated Minnesota-based middleweight Rob “Bravo” Brant would like to be the contender chosen to face WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders on September 17.
Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs) announced last week he would be fighting on the Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Liam Smith undercard on HBO pay-per-view in the United States, and WBO #9-rated Brant (20-0, 13 KOs) says he thinks he’s the right choice to face him.
“I have the utmost respect Billy Joe Saunders as an athlete,” said Brant. “I respect him so much that I would really enjoy giving him a grand welcome to the United States in the middle of the square circle.”
Brant has been on a tear for the last year, scoring important victories on national television, including a “KO of the Year” contending knockout over Decarlo Perez in January. During that time, he also won the NABA Middleweight and WBC Continental Americas Championships.
“Rob Brant is the perfect choice for Saunders in that fight,” said Brant’s promoter, Greg Cohen of Greg Cohen Promotions. “He’s red hot right now. He’s undefeated and makes for exciting fights and he’s got a fan following from his television appearances. Saunders vs. Brant makes great sense for boxing fans and from a business perspective.”
Cohen says he’s hoping to hear from Saunders’ representatives soon.
Boxing Is Just So, Like, Unfair
Boxing Is Just So, Like, Unfair
By: Sean Cross
Being a newshound, I read, see and hear a lot about today’s young people. They’re pretty much looked down on the same way my generation (Generation X) was and my parent’s generation (The Baby Boomers) were. Sure enough, bashing “these kids today” seems to be a timeless global pastime. Perhaps the “Greatest Generation” got a pass, because, you know, it battled German and Japanese aggression and all (it’s hard to knock those rotten kids when they’re out there literally saving your ass), but that was clearly the exception rather than the rule. In other words, virtually all young people are sneered at and today’s young people are no exception. They’re also – like those who came before them – not nearly as bad as they’re made out to be.
Still, there’s likely truths to be found in even the most excessive of criticisms The Boomers DID tend to be self-absorbed, for instance, and a whole lot of Gen Xrs WERE a bunch of lazy slackers. And, in regards to today’s young people, there is a sense of entitlement that seems to pervade much of the collective narrative. Take this new crop of top fighters, for instance: have you ever seen people clearly thinking it’s UNFAIR for them to have to challenge themselves?
I’m not referring to all of these rising stars, mind you, or even most of them. I’m talking here of the notable minority that inevitably ends up representing the vast majority. You know: the flappers, the hippies, the slackers. These were essentially subgroups that came to represent the entirety of their peers.
The same goes for the Billy Joe Saunders’, Canelo Alvarez’ and Danny Garcia’s of this era. When people look back someday at this time and place in boxing history, they won’t think Thurman-Porter and Ward-Kovalev. They’ll think of Billy Joe Saunders pricing himself out, of Canelo Alvarez giving up his belt and of Danny Garcia appearing downright disinterested in facing legitimate competition.
They’ll also think of the prevailing attitudes some of these contemporary fighters seem to have – which appear to ask: “Why on earth would you want me to challenge myself?” even though they’re all successful athletes. It’s this suspected line of thought, this assumed, unspoken accusation of “you’re just not getting it,” that also hampers the reputations of today’s fighters as a whole.
Then there’s the complete and total lack of self-awareness to go along with the bad attitudes. Guys like Billy Joe, Canelo and Danny talk tough, but come across as anything but. This is a shame, because I personally feel each one truly is a tough guy at heart. Indeed, I think none of these men are cowards. I just don’t think they see how bad they all look at the moment.
Sure enough, I think that perhaps these guys may not be capable of even understanding how poorly they appear to those outside their inner circles. Each is of an era where there are no losers, after all, where everyone is a winner, and where you’re perfectly awesome just the way you are. Although these assertions are healthy, they can be overused and can end up dulling ambition. In my humble opinion, that clearly may be the case here.
You did good in winning a belt, Billy Joe. Don’t worry about that Golovkin unless you’re offered a whole lot of money. You don’t have anything to prove. Same goes for you, Canelo. You beat Miguel Cotto, after all, and were brave enough to step up against Erislandy Lara a few years back. People can go put a sock in it. And you, Danny, don’t you mind what people say. You fought the best there was a while back. You’ve earned the right to take it easy now.
Such thinking, which borders on infantile when viewed through the perspective of the adult world, seemingly permeates the echo chambers of many of today’s rising stars. In fact, the whole sad spectacle becomes even more cringe worthy when you throw in the accompanying sense of procrastination. Both Billy Joe and Canelo probably seem to both feel they can beat Golovkin WHEN THEY’RE READY. News flash, fellas, you’re top level fighters. Saying you need time is like telling your mom you’ll get the trash out in a minute while the garbage truck is pulling up to the house.
Boxing may be a business, but someone might have to remind these fighters that boxing is also a sport. What’s more, fighters at the level they’re at are expected to fight the best competition out there – that or step down a few rungs on the figurative ladder. Give Canelo this, at least he gave up his title without trying to hold onto it without facing GGG. Now he needs to stop playing the tough guy. The same may ring true for others, as well.