By: Oliver McManus
12 months can be a long time in the sport of boxing – it can see you go from the cusp of retirement to the brink of a world title and for these next boxers, they’ll be hoping that 2019 is the year for them because these are five fighters in need of a BIG 12 months.
Photo of Jay Harris and Kristian Touze
Andrew Selby – Flyweight
There was a time, not so long ago, that we thought we had seen the last of Andrew Selby when he announced “I’m not fighting anymore”, quite understandably this prompted confusion because for a long time he had been scheduled to fight for the European title – indeed a clash with Vincent Legrand was postponed back in June – and Selby was deemed, by many, far good a talent to be allowed to go to waste.
Last month, at last, there was some good news as Jamie Sanigar won the purse bids for his challenge to, Frenchman, Legrand and set a firm date for the Welshman’s return – October 27th at the Newport Centre. Since then there has been mixed signals about the fight with no official confirmation save for the European Boxing Union website who, incidentally, have assigned officials for the contest but the good news is that Selby is back in the gym with fire in his belly, once more.
Further to that, consider the former Team GB member has been mandated to fight Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar in a world title eliminator with the winner set to face, WBC Champion, Cristofer Rosales – a man who Selby comfortably outpointed last May – and you start to see the makings of a sensational 2019 where, if all goes well, we could see the crowning of a new British world champion.
Anthony Yarde – Light Heavyweight
With one sharp intake of breath we get reminded that Yarde is the number 2 ranked challenger with the World Boxing Organization and, swiftly after, it is explained to us that he’s still not ready for a world title because he’s learning the trade.
Now there’s nothing wrong with either of those statements but the constant juxtaposition of the two leave me crying out for Yarde to have a monumental 2019 and this is nothing to do with Anthony Yarde, not at all, because he is a genuinely nice guy and rather this frustration is born out of a desire for him to do well and prove critics wrong – at least, attempt to prove them wrong.
Since fighting Nikola Sjekloca on December 9th, Yarde has seen his stock fall with the 27 year old facing, less than inspiring, Tony Averlant and Dariusz Sek in the meantime; that performance against Sjekloca was a top quality, high energy, explosive performance against a respectable opponent whilst against Averlant and Sek it is almost as though he’s dropped down to their level.
Next out on October 20th Yarde, now 16 and 0, will face the Argentine national champion Walter Gabriel Sequeira who steps up to the plate after, it is believed, Sean Monaghan priced himself out after initially accepting the fight – regardless, the whole boxing world wants to see Yarde get in the ring with an opponent will provide him with a solid test and there are plenty of British light-heavies that would be gunning for the fight.
Hopefully, for him and us, 2019 will see Anthony Yarde start to really make his mark on the 175lb scene.
Lawrence Okolie – Cruiserweight
British, Commonwealth, WBA Continental Champion with only 10 fights under his belt, things are going pretty well for Okolie from a belts point of view and you certainly can’t criticise Okolie for the guys he’s been willing to face – Isaac Chamberlain, Luke Watkins and Matty Askin in only his eighth, ninth and tenth fights.
That’s all fine and dandy but his much-hyped contests against Chamberlain and Askin, in particular, have failed to live up to the expectations as Okolie imposed a largely physical, holding game-plan much to the irritation of those watching.
Far be it from me to criticise a professional boxer unnecessarily but Okolie himself admits his performances were disappointing and, yes he got the win, but he’s in a situation where he needs to start letting his hands go and relaxing through the bout in order to become a big Box Office attraction.
With strong amateur pedigree, Okolie was always going to take a hastened route to the top but the cruiserweight sensation needs to go back to basics and work the jab to tee up openings that he can exploit in order to look every bit as good as we know he can be.
Plenty of domestic challengers are salivating at a potential fight with the Hackney-man and I like Okolie, I really like him, but time is a friend not an enemy and, having smashed his way through his first 10 fights, he can afford to be patient for 2019 in terms of names but the performances need to be big.
Okolie needs to be seen as adaptive and exciting otherwise people, having seen what they have, will be inclined to switch off – I’ve little doubt as to the quality and desire of the cruiserweight prospect so he should be able to take it in his stride!
Joseph Parker – Heavyweight
Returning to the ring on December 15th having been subjected to back-to-back losses against Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, respectively, Joseph Parker is in danger of becoming the forgotten talent of heavyweight boxing.
Making history by becoming the first New Zealand heavyweight world champion, you’d be hard pressed to suggest that Parker looked impressive in the fight that saw him crowned WBO king – against Andy Ruiz – or indeed in his subsequent defences over Razvan Cojanu and Hughie Fury and, actually, that fight against Dillian Whyte is, arguably, the best we’ve seen Parker.
That sounds weird to say given that he was on the reverse side of a unanimous decision but when Parker really got into his rhythm he was able to control the tempo of the fight, force Whyte into hot water and he looked like a physically imposing roughhouse fighter as opposed to the technical man we’ve got used to seeing.
It raised questions of WHY haven’t we seen this fire and aggression from the Kiwi before and whilst I can’t answer that question, I look forward to seeing how it impacts the 26 year olds fight plans going forward.
Parker gets the benefit of being in a comparatively weak heavyweight pool of talent than in years previous with a distinct gulf in quality even ranging throughout the top 15 and that should, on paper, ensure that Parker gets back into the world title mix sooner rather than later and, certainly, there are relatively few challengers that you wouldn’t tip Duco’s main man to topple.
The rebuild starts on December 15th, the climb back to a world title shot continues into 2019.
Now this is the slightly left field option for this article because who said I was going for the obvious? Jay Harris is a fighter who has had a frustrating year thus far with the Commonwealth flyweight champion scheduled to defend his belt – won via unanimous decision over Thomas Essomba back in February 2017 – against Dexter Marques back the first quarter of the year before visa issues put that fight indefinitely on hold.
He would fight for the first time in nine months when he entered the ring at the Llandarcy Academy of Sport on August 11th and eased his way to a 60-55 points decision over Critisan Narvaez and with those rounds under his belt he quickly set about establishing a date to defend his coveted belt.
That fight, against Ross Murray, was scheduled for this month but pushed back ever so slightly to November 3rd at York Hall; Mo Prior, the man behind British Warriors, has taken the Welsh flyweight under his wing and is already on a mission to provide Harris with regular fight dates for, put simply, the 28 year old is a sumptuous talent.
With one on the winner of Ryan Farrag vs Sunny Edwards – that bout for the WBO European Super Flyweight strap – Harris has already been mandated for the British Super Flyweight belt as well as the EBU-EU title so there are plenty of opportunities available for the Swansea-man, and that’s without even considering the permutations of the CBC!
By no means is this an exhaustive list of fighters who require a big one next year nor, for that matter, is it the five fighters who need it the MOST but they are guys who, in my opinion, should be hoping to leave a mark over the course of the next 12 months.
For guys like Jay Harris it is through no fault of their own that they are in the frustrating situation that they are and, certainly, there are plenty other candidates for this article – Kell Brook, Amir Khan, Liam Walsh, Roman Gonzalez to name just a handful but keep an eye out on these five fellas as they look for a career-best 2019.
By: Sean Crose
In the raucous cauldron of Elland Road, hometown favourite, Josh Warrington became the new IBF featherweight champion, and Leeds’ first boxing world champion after earning a split decision over ‘Lighting’ Lee Selby.
From the first bell the crowd bayed for blood, and that’s exactly what they got as, within the first two rounds Lee Selby sustained a cut to his left eye, from what the crowd presumed to be a head clash, though it didn’t seem to deter the Welsh champion from taking the centre of the ring.
Photo Credit: BoxNation Twitter Account
Selby was fighting well from distance through 4 but seemed unable to react when Warrington rushed in and fired off combinations that threw the Welshman off his stride. By the 5th round, Selby’s face was streaming with blood, but the heavily favoured Warrington crowd were loving it, as Josh landed the crowd-pleasing punches, and began to gather momentum both psychologically and physically.
Into the middle rounds, and Warrington began to dominate, but the question remained over whether the Leeds native had the power to take Selby out. The IBF champion seemed so unable to avoid Warrington’s hooks. Time and time again ‘Lighting’ Lee looked dominant from a distance but as soon as Josh piled on the pressure, there was nowhere to hide for the Welshman as he struggled to dodge the attack coming his way.
The championship rounds were upon us in what seemed like fleeting moments, this was a featherweight classic, as both fighters seemed to be going hell for leather through rounds 9 & 10. By now, Selby’s right eye was cut along with his left.
In some cases, a boxer’s face post-fight doesn’t adequately tell the story, in this case however, it probably did. Warrington began to take control over ‘Lightening’ Lee through 10, 11 & 12, though not without a fight from Selby, but it proved not enough.
The scorecards came back as, 113-115 Selby, 116-112, 115-113 Warrington, and a new featherweight champion was crowned.
Selby understandably made a quick exit from the stadium post-fight, but Warrington was more than happy to talk about tonight’s bout, and the battles to come,
‘I’ve been doubted for a very long time…I’ve always been confident throughout the build-up of this fight. Press conferences, open workouts, I’ve always massively believed I’ve had this fight won…As soon as I got into the venue tonight, it all lifted.’
‘I was doubted at English level, I was doubted at British level…I haven’t got punching power, I haven’t got the speed, I haven’t got the boxing intelligence, but I’ve just out boxed and outfought and outsmarted a brilliant champion in Lee Selby.’
When asked about future fights, the new IBF champion wasn’t shy in mentioning Frampton in his plans,
‘Carl Frampton keeps on getting mentioned but Windsor Park might be a little bit too soon. I wouldn’t mind going back to the (First Direct) Arena and defend this baby, and then possibly see about fighting Carl after that.’
Jack Catterall vs Christopher Sebire
In what would’ve been the headline act of the undercard, if it hadn’t of ended so early, Jack Catterall continued his momentum by earning a technical knockout over Christopher Sebire.
Sebire weighed 2lbs over the limit going into the bout, but it made no difference to ‘El Gato’ as he went in for the kill as the first bell tolled. The Frenchman was knocked down by a precise left-hand straight from Catterall, and he stayed down from then on. Sebire complained of an injured shoulder, but even if true, he wanted nothing to do with the British super lightweight.
Catterall now moves on to bigger and better fights. Domestically, many fans are calling for an Ohara Davies vs ‘El Gato’ matchup, which would see how far Catterall is from the best of the British super lightweights, Josh Taylor.
Nicola Adams vs Soledad del Valle Frias
In her first scheduled 10-rounder, Nicola Adams made lightwork of three-time world title challenger, and now, 13-12-4, Soledad del Valle Frias.
As expected, Nicola dominated from the first bell and looked to impress her home crowd of Leeds fans immediately, though her body shot KO came just before the end of the 1st round and left a number of the crowd confused as to whether the fight had ended or not.
It turned out it had, as the referee waved away Valle Frias, and opened the door for Adams to challenge the likes of current super flyweight champions, Linda Luca, Guadalupe Guzman, Debora Dionicius, or the German based, Raja Amasheh.
By: Ste Rowen
Over the next three weeks, 3 of the 4 featherweight champions of the world defend their IBF, WBC and WBA belts. First to take to the ring will be IBF champion, Lee Selby, who stakes his IBF strap against Josh Warrington in a long awaited domestic clash.
The two will meet on Warrington’s home turf, and dream venue in Leeds’ Elland Road stadium. It’s a matchup that’s been long in the making, even before the two boxers moved over to Frank Warren’s, Queensberry Promotions from Matchroom, and in the ‘Face to Face’ programme which brought the two together to discuss prefight, Warrington said the rivalry stemmed from Selby’s disrespect towards the Leeds native,
Photo Credit: Frank Warren Twitter Account
‘In the early days, when the rivalry was building we shook hands and you seemed a bit timid about wanting to shake hands. I respected you from that day because you’d achieved everything. You did nothing from then on but downplayed my achievements…There’s been times when you’ve said, ‘Easy work. I’ll knock him out. Not on my level’ You’ve changed your opinion many times.’
Selby, 26-1 (9KOs) drew on his time when the two fighters were under the same promotional banner,
‘Your promoter at the time bought the titles off me in order to build you up in front of your crowd, otherwise you wouldn’t have had the Commonwealth title…Built you up ready for me to knock you out.’
The Welshman was last out in December on the James Degale vs Caleb Truax undercard when he dominated the previously unbeaten Eduardo Ramirez to a clear unanimous decision. That was Lee’s 4th defence of the world title he won back in 2015 after scoring an 8th round technical decision win over Evgeny Gradovich, a bout he was clearly ahead in before the head clash which ended the fight.
Since then, Selby’s fought away from home, and at Wembley stadium, so he’s not afraid of the hostile environment he’s expected to walk into on the night,
At the press conference earlier this week he said,
‘I should be ready to defend my world title anywhere in the world so it’s only 5 hours up the road from where I live. It’s not so much of a lion’s den…It’s just another defence.’
‘I treat every opponent the same. I don’t train for a certain style or opponent… The guys in Leeds want you to win, but the whole country is backing me.’
Warrington, 26-0 (6KOs) hasn’t fought since October, when he stopped 18-0-2, Dennis Ceylan in the 10th round and the man from Leeds has built a strong record, collecting some solid names, including victories over Rendall Munroe, Patrick Hyland and everyone’s favourite Spanish boxer, Kiko Martinez. Warrington, like at most events in the build for this featherweight world title clash, was once again in buoyant mood,
‘Last few months I’ve really put my body through hell…After all the talk of me and Lee fighting it’s come down to this camp and I’m gonna give it everything…I feel like this is meant to be…It’s come around how I always planned it.
‘There’s no need for anymore talking. On Saturday I get to punch you in the face… There’s no way you can or will be able to prepare for what you’re gonna expect on Saturday night.
Both fighters know that it’s not just a world title on the line on Saturday. Carl Frampton is still looking for someone to fight at Windsor Park in August, and this weekend’s winner is expected to be the opponent. But, with WBC champ, Gary Russell Jr facing off against the unbeaten Golden Boy prospect, Joel Diaz also on Saturday; the rematch of Santa Cruz vs Abner Mares in three weeks’ time, and Oscar Valdez making a steady return from injury since his defence against Scott Quigg two months ago, there’s plenty of options for the man who has his hand raised on the 19th in Leeds.
On the undercard…
Jack Catterall vs Mohammed Kani
The top of Saturday night’s undercard sees Jack Catterall 20-0 (11KOs) come up against 14-1 (0KOs) Mohammed Kani, to defend his WBO Inter-Continental super lightweight belt. Catterall had an impressive 2017 which included a 12-round decision victory over Tyrone Nurse to earn the British title, and he has already fought once this year, knocking out the journeyman’s journeyman, Kevin Macauley 15-163-12, with a body 1st round body shot.
His opponent, Mohammed Kani, also a southpaw, will be fighting outside of France or Monaco, for the first time in his pro career, a career that faltered slightly when he dropped an 8-round decision to fellow Frenchman Laid Douadi 14-0-1.
Speaking to ‘British Boxers’, Warrington didn’t seem to concerned with his opponent,
‘I’ve had a lot of southpaw sparring and orthodox so it’s not an issue. I know I’ve prepared for this fight no matter who they put in front of us so, I’m confident of putting another loss on his record on Saturday.’
Nicola Adams vs Soledad del Valle Frias
Two-time Olympic gold medallist, Nicola Adams will fight in her first schedule 10-round bout, in just her 4th fight when she takes on 13-11-4, Soledad del Valle Frias a former three-time world title challenger.
Adams, so far has only gone as far as 4 rounds and although she’s taken on a relative veteran of the female boxing scene, Nicola is just taking it as any other fight. Speaking to BBC she said,
‘This is another step up for me on my professional journey to a professional world title…My camp has gone perfectly and I can’t wait to fight in a football stadium for the first time.
Ohara Davies vs Christopher Sebire
Ohara Davies makes his first return to the ring since linking up with Frank Warren, after cutting ties with Matchroom at the end of last year.
Davies, 16-1 (13KOs) is schedule to fight the unbeaten, Josh Leather, 13-0 next month, so Saturday’s bout is expected to be a keep busy exhibition for ‘Two Tanks’. His opponent Frenchman, Christopher Sebire 26-10-1 (9KOs) is fighting in Britain for the second consecutive time, losing a 10-round decision to 20-1, Paul Kamanga back in November.
By: Ste Rowen
James DeGale v Caleb Truax
It was supposed to be a challenging homecoming, not a do-or-die war, but the fight that should’ve propelled James ‘Chunky DeGale into unification fights in 2018 has left him beltless and wondering what’s next. American and one-time challenger for the WBA ‘Regular’ middleweight belt, Caleb ‘Golden’ Truax is the new IBF super middleweight champion of the world, and there can be no complaints against that.
Photo Credit: Sky Sports Boxing
It was DeGale’s first defence on home soil of the belt he won back in 2015 and from the first bell he seemed to be taking a more measured approach until he unleashed a flurry of left hooks, a notable weakness of Truax’s, and left his opponent stunned but not down. Truax did well to recover from that attack and continued into the second.
Caleb brought the fight to the champion from then on, as DeGale began to load up on left hands. The American won the round to even the scorecards going into the third. Through rounds three and four, a stiff jab from the American forced DeGale further and further back and allowed Truax to dictate how the fight would play out.
The fifth was a massive round for ‘Golden’ as he continued to pummel the IBF champ unanswered, with huge right uppercuts and straights. A brief rally at the end of the round from DeGale gave the impression to the home crowd that he was still in the fight.
The middle rounds saw the 2008 Olympic champion adopt a more stick and move style, but it wasn’t enough to keep Truax from coming forward without fear. The final three rounds were nip and tuck as DeGale began to employ a little of the darks arts with the forceful use of head and elbow. His little spurts of activity may have geed the crowd up but they would prove ineffective.
In the middle of the final round Truax lifted his arms in triumph, received mainly by cheers from a crowd that booed him into the ring. He’d won the hearts of the fans inside London’s Copper Box Arena, and with it the red strap that propels him into potentially huge fights in 2018.
The final scorecards came back as 114-114 and 115-112, 116-112 for the American. It was testament to Truax’s performance that when the 114-114 card was announced, it was met by boos. The crowd sensed another terrible 2017 scorecard but thankfully the right man won and a new champion was crowned.
Caleb Truax, now America’s second middleweight champion along with David Benavidez.
The Undercard highlights…
Lee Selby v Eduardo Ramirez
IBF Featherweight Champion, Lee Selby claimed a dominant points decision victory over Mexican challenger, Eduardo Ramirez to solidify his status as one of the best featherweights in the world.
The Welshman was fighting with style early on, whereas Ramirez was seemingly looking for the home run as he swung and swung, but never hit anything significant. Through the early rounds Selby showed his class. The southpaw in Ramirez did it’s best to show some essence of movement, but Selby’s jab was king through three.
Into four Selby began to take one to land two, frequently throwing combinations of hooks to be met by the occasional power shot response from the Mexican. More of the same followed through to round eight as Lee continued to dominate, but he was clearly looking to impress, made obvious by a number of wayward big left hands.
Despite a brief scare in the eleventh, as the Mexican rallied and landed a heavy left that gave Selby something to think about; the final five rounds saw Lee Selby do what Lee Selby does best. With a little more nastiness in the punches compared to previous fights, he established himself behind a dominant jab and chipped away at Ramirez’s remaining defences with consistent straight punches.
The final twelve round scorecards came back as 118-110, 119-109, 116-112.
Selby will now hopefully move onto a big 2018, with potential opponents such as, Josh Warrington, Scott Quigg, Carl Frampton and fellow belt holders, Gary Russell Jr, Oscar Valdez and Leo Santa Cruz.
Anthony Yarde v Nikola Sjekloca
Anthony Yarde became the first man to stop Nikola Sjekloca, as rising light heavyweight star, ‘The Beast’, earnt his fourteenth victory, and twelth straight knockout.
Yarde seemed to be precision personified, but it wasn’t a walkover. A man who has never been stopped is a man who wants to keep that record, but Yarde’s heavy hits only got heavier as he knocked down Sjekloca for the first time in the second round.
Sjekloca came with a reply at the start of round three, but again Yarde’s superior punches and the rate he was landing, kept the London native well on top.
At the start of the fourth Yarde landed big hit after big hit before knocking the Montenegrin down again, and then once more after continuous power punches and the referee stopped the fight with a brave Nikola still on his feet.
Yarde now 14-0 (13KOs) will surely be expecting the biggest fight of his career so far in 2018, a bout for the British light heavyweight title.
Daniel Dubois v Dorian Darch
Daniel Dubois made lightwork of one of Britain’s favourite heavyweight gate keepers in Dorian Darch, achieving his sixth consecutive knockout victory. But Darch didn’t come to lie down. Nearing the end of the first round, Dubois brought the firepower and knocked down his latest foe for the first time. Dorian survived, but not for long.
At the start of the second Dubois picked up where he left off and fired an assault on Darch, knocking him down three times in brutal fashion before the referee ended the fight and Dubois claimed his latest knockout victory. His record now stands at 6-0 (6KOS).
It’s a brave man that steps in with him next.
Joe Mullender v Lee Churcher
In a fantastic give-and-take fight between 10-2, Joe Mullender and 12-3-1, Lee Churcher, Mullender came out the victor, knocking Churcher down twice in round five and then again in the eighth and eleventh, when the referee waved the bout off and Joe Mullender became the new IBF East/West Europe Middleweight Champion.
By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night, James ‘Chunky’ DeGale headlines a card crammed with current and future British boxing stars at the Copper Box Arena in London.
The IBF champion, 23-1-1 (14KOs) is returning to the ring for the first time since his super middleweight unification attempt vs Badou Jack back in January this year, that ultimately ended in a draw but set the ball rolling for a fantastic year in the sport.
Photo Credit: Box Nation Twitter
Since then, DeGale has been held back by a shoulder injury that ruled him out of competing in the World Boxing Super Series, which resumes for the semi-finals in February next year.
It’ll be just DeGale’s fourth defence of the belt he won back in May 2015 after a unanimous decision victory over Andre Dirrell, and his first fight on home soil since he defeated Marco Antonio Periban on the undercard of Bellew v Cleverly in 2014. Since then the 2008 Olympic gold medallist has racked up decision victories over Lucien Bute, Rogelio ‘Porky’ Medina, and the aforementioned draw with now light heavyweight contender, Badou Jack.
His opponent, Caleb ‘Golden’ Truax, 28-3-2 (18KOs), has fought for a version of the world titles once before when he took on then WBA ‘Regular’ middleweight champion, Daniel Jacobs in 2015. Truax was being soundly beaten even before the twelth-round of that fight when, with 1:24 left on the clock Jacobs landed a right hand sending the Minnesota native sprawling into the ropes. The referee gave Truax the mandatory eight-count but after being allowed to carry on, Jacobs continued to fire off massive, unanswered rights and the referee put an end to the fight with Truax still on his feet.
Caleb attempted to bounce back when he returned ten months later to beat Melvin Betancourt via fourth-round TKO, and then took on Anthony Dirrell in April 2016, but he was simultaneously put on the canvas for the first time, and beaten for a third by the former WBC champion who took just 1:30 of the first round to drop Truax, and then again, his weakness for the right straight showed as Dirrell dropped him again and the referee stopped the fight.
Since then, ‘Golden’ has picked up two fairly routine stoppage victories over 5-15-0, Zachariah Kelley, and American middleweight, KeAndrae Leatherwood.
Caleb was no doubt surprised to get the offer of another world title shot in the form of James DeGale.
Speaking to the BBC about the challenger for his belt ‘Chunky’ said, “Truax is a good fighter, I’m not saying he’s a world beater… He dropped Jermaine Taylor when Jermaine Taylor was hot so he’s mixed it at a good level but he’s always just missed out… So, he’s no mug but this is the perfect opponent where I can look fantastic.”
DeGale also said this week he’s targeting another unification fight, this time with the recently crowned WBC champion, David Benavidez.
Co-main on the night will be IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby who is returning to the ring for the third time this year. He faces Eduardo Ramirez, 20-0-3, in his fifth fight since winning the IBF title from Evgeny Gradovich back in 2015. Last time out ‘The Welsh Mayweather’ fought Jonathon Victor Barros on the Eubank v Abraham undercard, dropping Barros in the twelth en route to a clear unanimous decision.
It’s not a dissimilar setup as Carl Frampton’s recent decision win against Horacio Garcia; the bout is seemingly the gateway to the super fights of 2018 against the likes of Leo Santa Cruz, Oscar Valdez, Gary Russell Jr and of course, former WBA Featherweight champion, Frampton.
In an interview from FrankWarren.com, Selby said, ‘Ramirez is a young, hungry Mexican who comes from a very good stable… He’s an undefeated southpaw and highly ranked by the IBF (11th). From clips I’ve seen, Eduardo’s a similar height as myself, if not taller, so I’ll not enjoy the advantages… My record shows I can always make the adjustments needed to win. I’m confident that my class will prevail’
His Mexican opponents’ most recent outing was a controversial draw in Vegas, with unbeaten, Leduan Barthelmy. Ramirez was viewed by most as doing more than enough to grant him the win, but Vegas was Vegas and handed Ramirez a third draw in his twenty-three-fight pro career. This will be Eduardo’s first scheduled twelve-round bout with his longest fight also being the ten-rounder mentioned above. The southpaw should not be an easy touch for Selby, the Welshman will need to box smart early when Ramirez attempts to fire off quick combinations of hooks and big overhand lefts. Experience could be key for Selby who’s been the twelve-round distance six times, three as a world champion.
Hot prospects, Light Heavyweight Anthony Yarde and ‘Dynamite’ Daniel Dubois will also feature on the card.
13-0-0 (12KOs), Anthony Yarde has been busy this year knocking out all four of his 2017 opponents, most recently scoring a third-round stoppage against former super middleweight contender, Robert Nemesapati, now 25-7-0.
He takes on never before stopped, Nicola Sjekloca, 32-4-1 (11KOs), who’s previous opponents include Callum Smith, Arthur Abraham and current WBA ‘Regular’ Super Middleweight champion, Tyron Zeuge. It’s certainly a step up though for Yarde. In his last fight in March, the Montenegrin went the twelve-round distance in a split decision draw to former WBO super middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz.
The only criticism to level against the light heavyweight prospect so far is the quality of opponent he’s come up against, even as early as it is in his career. Some would argue, you can only beat what’s put in front of you and ‘The Beast’ has certainly done so, showing speed, timing and a keen eye for the stoppage. It will be Yarde’s second scheduled twelve round fight; the furthest he’s gone so far is four when he was taken the distance by Latvian, Stanislavs Makarenko in the Englishman’s second pro bout.
Twenty-year-old heavyweight Dubois, 5-0-0 (5KOs) takes on 12-5-1 (1KO), Dorian Darch. Dubois has made an explosive start to his professional career but much like Yarde, is now being encouraged by fans to hurry along his early progress and the young Brit’s promoter obviously feels the same. Frank Warren is reportedly trying to get the British Board of Control to lower the age limit a fighter must be to challenge for the British heavyweight belt, currently set at twenty-one. Daniel’s 21st birthday is in September next year.
Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Lee Selby vs. Jonathan Victor Barros, Dejan Zlaticanin vs. Mikey Garcia, Leo Santa Cruz vs. Carl Frampton
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night a rematch of the consensus fight of the year between Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz will take place in Las Vegas for Frampton’s WBA Featherweight Title. This bout will take place at the MGM Grand and will be televised live on Showtime.
Last year’s match was a thrilling and close encounter between the two high volume punchers at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York and it could have been scored for either fighter. This is a rematch that most fans of boxing want to see.
Two other world title fights will be televised in support of the main event. Lee Selby will defend his IBF Featherweight Title against Jonathan Victor Barros on the opening bout of the Showtime Card. Mikey Garcia will compete against Dejan Zlaticanin for Zlaticanin’s WBC Lightweight Title in the co-main event of the night.
The following is a preview of all three televised bouts.
Lee Selby (23-1) vs. Jonathan Victor Barros (41-4-1); IBF Featherweight Title
The opening bout of the night will be for the IBF Featherweight Title, and it seems likely that the winner of this bout will go on to face the winner of the main event between Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton.
Lee Selby, the current IBF Champion, isn’t known for his power and has only stopped 8 of his opponents. Barros has stopped twenty two of his opponents, but also has one TKO loss.
Selby will be giving up an half inch in height and about an inch in reach on Saturday. However, he will be three years younger than Barros and has roughly half the professional fights of Barros.
Neither boxer has been very active in the past two years. They both only fought once in 2016 and twice in 2015.
Barros has shown a pattern of losing when he takes a step up in competition. Boxers such as Mikey Garcia, Juan Carlos Salgado, Celestino Caballero, and Yuriorkis Gamboa have defeated him. Barros has defeated the likes of Satoshi Hosono, Celestino Caballero, Miguel Roman, and Irving Berry.
Selby’s lone loss was early on in his career, by points, to Sami Mouneimne. He has defeated the likes of Fernando Montiel, Evgeny Gradovich, Joel Bunker, and Ryan Walsh.
Selby is the favorite going into the match and for good reason. Barros is a good boxer, but nothing more than a gatekeeper for rising stars such as Selby. Expect Selby to win by decision.
Dejan Zlaticanin (22-0) vs. Mikey Garcia (35-0); WBC Lightweight Title
Mikey Garcia was once considered one of the best pound for pound boxers in the world. But his stock has diminished somewhat since he made the decision to leave Top Rank Promotions and sign with Al Haymon. He lost several years of activity due to his decision.
Dejan Zlaticanin is the current WBC Lightweight Champion and is the first person from Montenegro to win a world title in boxing.
Zlaticanin will be three years older than Mikey Garcia and he will also be giving up three inches in height and reach to Garcia. Garcia also has more power in his punches, as he has stopped twenty nine of his opponents while Zlaticanin has only stopped fifteen of his opponents.
Zlaticanin, a southpaw, won the world title by defeating Franklin Mamani in June of 2016 in Verona, New York at the Turning Stone Casino. He has also beaten the likes of Ivan Redkach, Ricky Burns, and Petr Petrov.
The biggest knock against Zlaticanin is that he only fought once in 2015 and in 2016.
Garcia has been even more inactive than Zlaticanin. He fought once in 2014 and once in 2016 and had no fights in 2015. He has defeated the likes of Elio Rojas, Juan Carlos Burgos, Roman Martinez, Orlando Salido, Jonathan Victor Barros, and Bernabe Concepcion.
Garcia also has the edge in amateur experience, as he was a medalist in several national amateur competitions in the United States.
Zlaticanin will likely suffer the first defeat of his career on Saturday. Garcia looked sensational in his last bout and shook off the ring rust quite quickly.
Carl Frampton (23-0) vs. Leo Santa Cruz (32-1-1); WBA Featherweight Title
Frampton won the WBA Super World Featherweight Title by defeating Leo Santa Cruz by majority decision at the Barclays Center in July of 2016. Frampton was an underdog in their last match, but the odds now favor Frampton.
Carl Frampton is one year older then Leo Santa Cruz and is two and a half inches smaller and wil be giving up seven inches in reach.
Both boxers have been fairly active the past two years. Frampton fought twice in 2015 and in 2016 while Santa Cruz fought three times in 2015 and twice in 2016.
Santa Cruz is known for being a volume puncher and has more stoppage victories than Frampton. Santa Cruz has stopped eighteen of his opponents while Frampton has only stopped fourteen of his opponents.
They both have good amateur backgrounds. Frampton was an Irish National Champion and a Silver Medalist in the EU Championships. Santa Cruz won the Silver Medal in the US National Amateur Championships.
Frampton has never tasted defeat and has beaten the likes of Leo Santa Cruz, Scott Quigg, Alejandro Gonzalez Jr., Chris Avalos, Kiko Martinez, and Jeremy Parodi.
Santa Cruz’s lone loss was to Carl Frampton. Santa Cruz has defeated the likes of Kiko Martinez, Abner Mares, Jesus Ruiz, Manuel Roman, Cristian Mijares, Cesar Seda, Victor Terrazas, and Eric Morel.
The one difference between this fight and their last fight that may work in Santa Cruz’s favor is the fact that this fight is taking place in Las Vegas, which has a much larger Mexican population than Brooklyn, New York. This may give Santa Cruz the “home field” advantage on Saturday night.
However, this bout is expected to be exciting and a close one, like their last bout. Just don’t be surprised if the Mexican fans in attendance make a big enough difference for Santa Cruz to pull out the victory on Saturday and possible force a third fight.
Selby Defends IBF Crown Against Jon Barros With One Eye on a Unification Fight
By: Phil Oscarson
Former WBA World featherweight champion Jonathon Victor Barros (http://boxrec.com/boxer/244423) fought his way to a split decision over Satoshi Hosono in early October. Barros` 41st professional victory laid the path for a mandatory title shot against Lee Selby (http://www.premierboxingchampions.com/lee-selby) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 28th.
This will only be the third fight in the last year and half for Selby since he took ownership of the IBF belt. Selby has made good on each of his two previous title defenses – both by unanimous decision – since he snatched the IBF World featherweight belt away from Evgeny Gradovich in May of 2015. Barros seems to be all that stands in Selby’s way of big payday unification battle at some point in 2017.
Appeal of a Selby-Gradovich Rematch TKO’d
Sports book review (http://www.sportsbookreview.com/betting-sites/) was primed to set odds on a potential Selby – Gradovich rematch, but Mexico’s unbeaten Oscar Valdez erased that notion in April of last year. The undefeated Valdez hammered the Russian featherweight, winning by TKO at the 2:14 mark in the 4th round.
Boxing enthusiasts are salivating at the idea of a Valdez vs. Selby unifying title fight, but Selby must first handle the experienced Barros. The main event at the MGM in just over three weeks will throw a third belt holder in the unification conversation.
The Argentinian Has Experience
While Selby would appear to be the odds-on favorite to continue as the IBF titleholder, the Argentinean veteran has the ability to drag the fight out, maintaining a punchers chance at an upset. Selby’s only loss came nearly 8 years ago to Samir Mouneimne a high stamina fighter with a knack for taking fights the distance.
Barros built an esteemed record, undefeated with a single draw during the first 8 years of his career. With 28 victories on his card, Barros was given a shot at the WBA featherweight title in early 2010. Cuban Yuriokis Gamboa would hand Barros his first professional loss, but later that same year he would take advantage of another title opportunity, knocking out Panamanian Irving Berry in the 7th round.
Lee Selby has fought only twice in the last year and a half, albeit both were defenses of his IBF crown. Selby has weathered a barrage of criticism from the boxing world for stepping into the ring one single time in 2016.
All the critical comments from boxing experts aside, Selby might need to worry about shaking off a little rust against a seasoned fighter like Barros. While most predictions give little chance for an upset by the 32-year-old former champion, Barros has 46 fights to draw from, almost double the professional fight count of Selby.
Selby’s United Kingdom based promoter Eddie Hearn has even voiced his criticism of his fighter for only taking to the canvas twice since earning the IBF belt. Hearn’s in all honesty has a valid point since Selby has taken an extended vacation since the Welshman defended his title the second time against the Outlaw – American Eric Hunter.
Selby Eyes Frampton Unification Bout
Also looming on the featherweight horizon is another promising unification fight between the winner of January 28th main event Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santa Cruz. Selby has already voiced an interest in stepping into the ring against Frampton, but the undefeated “Jackal” must first defeat Santa Cruz a second time in less than a year. Cruz will be looking to avenge his only professional loss courtesy of Frampton in their July title fight at the Barclays Center in New York.
All indications point to the question of how decisively Lee Selby can defeat Barros, not whether Barros has much of a chance to hoist another belt. Selby should be able to win by a wide decision, laying the groundwork for some intriguing future title matchups. But, he better keep both eyes on Barros and not one on a big payday future fight, or he might end up with the second blemish on his professional fighting record.
Showtime Boxing International Results: Selby Wins by Decision, Joshua Demolishes Martin
By: William Holmes
Showtime boxing was broadcast live from the O2 Arena in London, England and televised two world title fights. Two British boxers participated in tonight’s bouts as Lee Selby defended his IBF Featherweight Title against Philadelphia native Eric Hunter and former Olympic Gold Medalist
Anthony Joshua took part in his first title fight against Charles Martin.
The opening bout of the night was between Lee Selby (22-1) and Eric Hunter (21-3) for Selby’s IBF Featherweight Title.
Both boxers started off in an orthodox stance and Hunter looked like he was trying to stay on the outside early on while Selby pushed the pace. Selby was able to momentarily trap Hunter a few times in the first round and was able to land a few straight right hands and left hooks upstairs.
Selby started off the second round strong with a solid right cross followed by a snapping jab. Selby, however, at one point got reckless and was cracked with a counter left hook that sent him to the mat. He was able to beat the count and survive the round, but he did suffer a clean knockdown.
Selby was able to recover by the third round and re-took control of the fight by staying more active and connected often with his jab. The fourth round featured a little more back and forth and could have gone either way, but Selby looked like he was fighting his style of fight.
Selby was able to rock Hunter in the fifth and sixth round with clean straight right hands and was beginning to visibly frustrate Hunter.
A low blow landed for Hunter in the seventh round and Selby responded by landing stiff combinations. Hunter’s frustration continued in the eighth and ninth round as he continued to land low blows. He was deducted a point in the eighth round and was warned again by the referee.
Hunter pressed the pace in the championship rounds and appeared to be looking for a big hook to end the fight, but Selby relied on his boxing prowess and was able to box safely and effectively to win a decision victory.
Lee Selby retained his title with a decision victory with scores of 115-111, 116-110, and 116-110.
The main event of the night was between British Phenom Anthony Joshua (15-0) and IBF Heavyweight Champion Charles Martin (23-0-1). Both boxers were known for their knockout power and the crowd at the O2 Arena appeared to sense that this fight might not go the full twelve rounds, as they were singing loudl
Anthony Joshua, despite being the hometown fighter, came into the ring first and was met with a positive reaction while Martin was greeted with mainly boos and jeers.
Anthony Joshua looked to be in incredible shape and was walking the southpaw Martin down early. Joshua was sharp with his jab early and was moving Martin backwards. Anthony Joshua had Martin fearing his shots early on and took control of the first round.
Martin came out in the second round looking determined and was throwing out a few jabs. Joshua, however, pressed forward and was landing his jab and right hooks. Joshua blew open the gates with a straight right hand in the second round and sent Martin to his butt on the canvas. Martin was barely able to get up at the count of nine, and the referee allowed the fight to continue. Joshua left little to chance and connected with another hard straight right hand that sent Martin to the canvas for a second time. He got up at the last second, but the referee waived off the fight while Martin protested.
Some referees would have let the fight continue, but Martin was badly hurt.
Anthony Joshua won the IBF Heavyweight Title by knockout at 1:32 of round two.
Pacquiao vs. Bradley and Joshua vs. Martin Weigh In Results
By: William Holmes
Tomorrow night HBO will present the third fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley Jr. on Pay Per View. Across the pond a few hours earlier in the day Charles Martin will put on the line his IBF Heavyweight Title belt against former Olympic Gold Medalist Anthony Joshua at the 02 Arena in London, England live on Showtime.
Both of the cards held their weigh-ins today and the official weights are listed below.
HBO PPV Boxing Card
WBO International Welterweight Championship
Manny Pacquiao -145.5 pounds
Timothy Bradley -146.5 pounds
WBO Super Middleweight Championship
Arthur Abraham -168 pounds
Gilberto Ramirez -168 pounds
WBO NABO Featherweight Championship
Oscar Valdez -125.5 pounds
Evgeny Gradovich -126 pounds
Showtime Championship Boxing Card:
IBF Heavyweight World Championship
Charles Martin – 245 Pounds
Anthony Joshua – 244 Pounds
IBF Featherweight World Championship
Lee Selby – 125 Pounds
Eric Hunter – 125 ¼ Pounds
Showtime Boxing International Preview: Charles Martin vs. Anthony Joshua, Selby vs. Hunter
By: William Holmes
Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley are not the only big names fighting on Saturday, as Showtime Showtime Boxing International will televised two world title fights live from the O2 Arena in London England. The main event of the evening will feature newly minted IBF Heavyweight Champion Charles Martin putting his title on the line against the hard hitting uber prospect Anthony Joshua. The opening bout of the afternoon will be between IBF Featherweight World Champion Lee Selby and Philadelphia contender Eric Hunter.
The main event will have big implications in the heavyweight scene moving forward, as the other two world titlists have big title bouts coming up in the near future. Tyson Fury is set to defend his title again against Wladimir Klitschko and Deontay Wilder will be traveling to Russia to face Alexander Povetkin. The winner of the bout between Martin and Joshua will have big money options in the near future.
The following is a preview of the IBF Featherweight and IBF Heavyweight title bouts.
Lee Selby (22-1) vs. Eric Hunter (21-3); IBF Featherweight Title
Lee Selby is the current IBF Featherweight Title holder and has fought outside the United Kingdom once in his career. However, on Saturday night he will be fighting in the United Kingdom yet again and will have the fans in attendance cheering for him.
Selby will have a two and a half inch height advantage as well as a one inch reach advantage over his opponent. They are both twenty nine years old and in the peek of their athetlic prime.
Neither Selby or Hunter has any notable international amateur accomplishments and both have average power for a featherweight. Hunter has stopped eleven of his opponents while Selby has only stopped eight.
Hunter’s record is a bit deceiving, as two of his losses were by disqualification, to Mike Oliver and Luis Franco, and his other loss was by split decision to Carlos Vivan way back in 2007.
Selby has defeated the likes of Fernando Montiel, Evgeny Gradovich, and Joel Bunker. Hunter’s biggest wins have come against Jerry Belmontes, Yenifel Vicente, Antonio Escalante, and Rene Alvardo.
This should be a close fight and will likely be action packed. Both boxers like to throw a high volume of punches, and this bout could go either way. But Selby, at this point, has faced the tougher competition and fighting in front of his countrymen should make him a favorite on Saturday.
Charles Martin (23-0-1) vs. Anthony Joshua (15-0); IBF Heavyweight Title
Charles Martin wasted little time in challenging himself after he defeated Vyacheslav Glazkov for the IBF Heavyweight title and accepted a challenge from one of the best prospects the heavyweight division has to offer.
Martin has incredible power and has stopped twenty one of his opponents, but Joshua has even more impressive knockout numbers as he has stopped every single opponent he has faced and only one guy has made it past the third round.
Martin, a southpaw, will be giving up one inch in height and two inches in reach to Joshua. Martin did have some success in the amateur circuit as he is a former National Police Athletic League Champion and was the National Runner up in the Golden Gloves. Joshua however, has reached the pinnacle of the amateurs by winning the gold medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Martin’s biggest victories to date have come against Vyacheslav Glazkov, Vicente Ssandez, Kertson Manswell, Glenddy Hernandez, and Joey Dawejko. Joshua’s biggest victories to date have come against Dillian Whyte, Gary Cornish, Kevin Johnson, and Raphael Zumbano Love.
This will be the first time Martin has ever fought outside the United States. Joshua has never fought outside the United Kingdom and will have a friendly crowd in attendance supporting him.
Both boxers have been very active the past two years. Martin fought once in 2016, four times in 2015, and five times in 2014. Joshua has fought five times in 2015 and seven times in 2014.
Martin has the power in his hands to score the upset, but Joshua comes from a strong amateur pedigree and has even more power in his hands than his opponent. The longer the fight goes the better the odds are of a Joshua victory, but regardless Joshua should be the favorite to win on Saturday night.