Top Rank Loads Up Alvarez-Kovalev II Card On Super Bowl Weekend
By Jake Donovan
Cognizant of its placement on the eve of Super Bowl Sunday, the Top Rank staff have made significant additions to its super Saturday night of boxing.
A February 2 date long reserved for the light heavyweight title fight rematch between Eleider Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev has now turned into a live quadrupleheader spanning ESPN and its streaming platform ESPN+.
Alvarez-Kovalev II will now headline the ESPN+ portion of the evening (12:00am ET). That portion of the loaded card from The Star in Frisco, Texas will be accompanied by the quick return of unbeaten lightweight Teofimo Lopez, who is fresh off of a highlight reel 1st round knockout of Mason Menard earlier this month in New York City.
An opponent has yet to be announced for Lopez. Sources with knowledge of the show have informed BoxingInsider.com that it will be a step up in class, as the 2016 Honduras Olympian and fast-moving prospect is eager to transition to rising contender.
“I took over my last show, and I am going to do it again,” Lopez (11-0, 9KOs) said. “‘The Takeover’ is coming to Texas, and I can’t wait to get back in the ring.”
Preceding the livestream will be the awaited ring return of unbeaten featherweight Oscar Valdez. Sidelined while recovering from injuries sustained in an ESPN-aired 12-round win over Scott Quigg in March, the two-time Olympian for Mexico returns in a title defense versus unbeaten Carmine Tommasone, who represented Italy in the 2016 Rio Olymnpics.
The bout will headline a live doubleheader on ESPN (10:00pm ET). In chief support to Valdez’ return comes a vacant lightweight title fight between Ghana’s Richard Commey and Russia’s Isa Chaniev.
Moving the Alvarez-Kovalev rematch to ESPN’s live-streaming service was undoubtedly motivated by a desire to boost subscriptions. Top Rank and ESPN continue to search for the proper balance in what will air live on ESPN’s flagship network and what to dedicate exclusively to its subscription-based streaming service.
This particular show will actually provide the best of both worlds. With the ESPN linear platform preceded by ESPN+ live coverage of the preliminary undercard action (7:00 pm-10:00pm ET), boxing fans will get seven hours of live boxing between the services, including three title fights and the latest step in the career of a blue-chip prospect.
“It’s Super Saturday, and by syncing the ESPN linear and ESPN+ platforms for one night, fans have an incredible opportunity to watch a stacked show with many of the world’s best fighters and rising superstars,” said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank in a statement released through the company’s press office in announcing the full show on Wednesday.
The addition of Valdez (24-0, 19KOs) comes in the wake of the decision to forego a planned January 12 showcase in his adopted hometown of Tucson, Arizona. He was originally due to face Spain’s Andoni Gago, but issues in getting a travel visa in time along with other unbuttoned issues with the remaining undercard prompted an outright cancellation.
It gives Valdez an additional three weeks to further enhance his craft under new trainer Eddy Reynoso, while also providing an upgrade in competition.
“The fans can expect the same Oscar Valdez as far as being an aggressive and exciting fighter,” said Valdez, who looks to make the fifth defense of his featherweight title. “They are also going to see a different side that nobody has seen, which is the boxing skills that I also have and that I’m perfecting and learning with my new trainer, Eddy Reynoso.”
Tommasone (19-0, 5KOs) has yet to make his full mark in the pro ranks. However, the unbeaten featherweight is in the history books as becoming the first pro boxer to participate in—and win—an Olympic boxing match, doing so in 2016 while representing his native Italy.
The 2016 Rio Olympics marked the first year in which pro boxers were able to participate in competition previously limited to amateur boxers. Tommasone joined former flyweight titlist Amnat Ruenroeng (Thailand) and Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (representing his native Cameroon, but who lives in France) as the three to break ground, winning his opening round bout before being sent home in the Round of 16 by Cuba’s Lazaro Alvarez, who went on to capture the Bronze medal.
Tomassone—who was 15-0 prior to his 2016 Rio tour—has since won four bouts in his return to pro competition. All have come versus non-descript competition, as he steps way up in class while fighting outside of Italy as a pro for the first time in his eight-year career.
Still, he comes with greater appeal than Valdez’ originally selected opponent—not to mention it’s a great opportunity for Top Rank to showcase one of its brightest young stars for the third time on ESPN, the latest coming on a busy sports weekend.
“It will be great to see our little warrior, Oscar Valdez, back in action on Feb. 2 after his full recovery from a broken jaw and a courageous victory over Quigg,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Oscar always brings thrills and excitement to his fights.”
The ESPN-televised co-feature figures to serve as the perfect primer.
Ghana’s Commey (27-2, 24 KOs) has patiently waited for his crack at a lightweight title, which he originally believed would come versus Mikey Garcia. Those plans fell apart, however, after the unbeaten pound-for-pound entrant vacated his title in favor of a high-profile showdown versus unbeaten welterweight titlist Errol Spence.
The move left Commey as the highest-rated contender in his pursuit of winning a title on his second try. His previous effort came in a hard-fought split decision loss to Robert Easter Jr. in their Sept. ’16 vacant title fight, which was followed by an equally heartbreaking narrow defeat at the hands of Denis Shafikov just three months later.
Three straight wins have followed, including a six-round destruction of previously unbeaten Alejandro Luna this past March to earn his place as the mandatory challenger.
“When I started working with Richard in September 2016, our plan was to give him another chance to fulfill his dream of becoming a world champion,”said Lou DiBella , Commey’s promoter. “While Chaniev is a very tough Russian fighter, I’m confident that Richard has the skills, punching power and the mental toughness to come out victorious.”
DiBella’s efforts have not at all been lost on his lightweight client.
“I know how hard it is for Ghanaian fighters to get promoted by the top promoters, but Lou has consistently shown that if he thinks you’re the man, then he will be the man for you,” said Commey, who last fought in August in a 2nd round knockout of journeyman Yardley Cruz in Long Island, New York. “He has shown this by the investment DiBella Entertainment has put in me and by getting me this shot at the title and securing it in the United States.”
While it won’t be Commey’s first stateside appearance, his opponent stamps his passport for his first world title fight.
Chaniev (13-1, 6 KOs) has fought exclusively in Eastern Europe as he travels to the U.S. for the first time as a pro. The 26-year old Russian lightweight earned his place in the title mix after a strong showing in his career-best win, outpointing former titlist Ismael Barroso in his most recent bout this past May.
“I have the biggest motivation ever to win, and there is no other result that will satisfy me,” Chaniev said. “On Feb. 2, I will demonstrate all my skills and hard preparation. Some people don’t think I will win, but they will be shocked.”
Alvarez to Unify Super Middleweight Division in 2019?
By: Daniel Smith
Alvarez, to unify Super Middleweight division 2019?
Last night at the Garden, Canelo Alvarez was razor sharp, formidable and devastatingly accurate as he peppered Rocky Fielding with a torrent pounding and punishing body shots to force the stoppage within three rounds of boxing.
Photo Credit: DAZN Twitter Account
Fielding struggled to ignite the engine, let alone move out of first gear as Canelo smothered, suffocated and obliterated the Liverpudlian’s offence and game-plan by deploying his brutal artillery throughout the rounds.
Meticulously targeting and thudding away at Fielding’s long, skinny flank; dishing-out lightning-bolt shots to the liver, one after the other, relentlessly zapping the former WBA champion into submission without even breaking a sweat. Incidently, whether it’s Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua, a sickening shot to the liver ultimately instructs the body to take a knee, no matter how big, bulky or solidly conformed you are – so no discredit to Rocky in that regard.
Although it was the Mexican who stepped up a weight-class; it certainly seemed as though Rocky Fielding was the one who’d brought a knife to gun fight, as every attack and combination he fired-out seemed fruitless.
So what’s next for the cinnamon-haired, super middleweight smasher? After skillfully bulldozing through the division’s WBA champion with such ease and cool; could Canelo continue on his 168lb division ascent and lay down the gauntlet for a clash with the WBA and WBSS champion, Callum Smith? A fight with Smith would be a an electrifying clash, an enticing prospect with another belt to add his collection, but ultimately, it would be a gruelling night’s work for the now, three weight-class champion.
There may be other fish to fry in the division such as WBO Gilberto Ramirez, IBF Jose Uzcategui and WBC David Benavidez. Or, alternatively, he could have a third dance with GGG which I’m sure would rake-in the fans and financial spoils.
Who knows? But one thing’s certain – 2019 will be explosive.
DAZN Boxing Preview: Canelo vs. Rocky, Farmer vs. Fonseca
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Golden Boy Promotions top promotional star, Canelo Alvarez, will make his debut in New York City and on the DAZN Streaming Network when he faces off against Rocky Fielding for Fielding’s WBA Super Middleweight title.
This bout will take place at the famed Madison Square Garden and features a rather stacked undercard. The co-main event of the night was originally supposed to be between David Lemieux and Tureano Johnson, but Lemieux had to withdraw due to dehydration issues and the bout between Tevin Farmer and Francisco Fonseca will take it’s place.
Other notable undercard fights include a welterweight bout between Sadam Ali and Mauricio Herrera, an IBF/WBA Women’s Lightweight Title bout between Katie Taylor and Eva Wahlstrom, and two bouts featuring high rated prospects Ryan Garcia and Lamont Roach Jr.
DAZN has gone all in with their partnership with Golden Boy Promotions and Canelo Alvarez, and this is the first of an eleven fight contract that they have with Canelo.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the night.
Tevin Farmer (27-4) vs. Francisco Fonseca (22-1-1); IBF Junior Lightweight Title
Tevin Farmer is one of those feel good stories in the sport of boxing. He wasn’t a heralded amateur and started his career with a 2-2 record, but he has shown significant improvement since his professional debut and was able to win the IBF Super Featherweight Title.
Farmer only had sixteen amateur fights so he had to learn quickly on the job. He’s not known for his power, he has only stopped six of his opponents and was stopped twice in his career. He lost by TKO in his very first professional fight and was later stopped by Jose Pedraza.
His opponent, Francisco Fonseca, has stopped sixteen of his opponents and was only stopped one time in his career, a knockout loss to Gervonta Davis. Fonseca will have a slight inch and a half height advantage and a two and a half inch reach advantage.
Fonseca has fought mainly in Panama and Costa Rica against suspect opposition. He lost his only fight outside of Central America. His biggest win to date was against a 13-3 Daniel Miranda. He’s been fairly active and fought once in 2018 and four times in 2017.
Farmer fought twice in 2018 and twice in 2017. He’s shown significant improvement since his debut, especially defensively, and has beaten the likes of James Tennyson, Billy Dib, Arturo Santos Reyes, Ivan Redkach, and Angel Luna.
This is a bout that Farmer should win by decision. Farmer is angling for a future fight with Gervonta Davis and he’ll need an impressive performance to get the boxing community talking about a potential fight with Davis.
Rocky Fielding (27-1) vs. Canelo Alvarez (50-1-2); WBA Super Middleweight Title
Canelo Alvarez is arguably boxing’s biggest, active star. He’ll be chasing history on Saturday night as he looks to win a title in his third weight class, and become the ninth Mexican boxer to do so.
Canelo is in the midst of his prime at 28 years old and is three years younger than his opponent. However, Canelo is the smaller man and will be giving up height, reach, and size to Fielding.
Canelo turned pro at the age of fifteen, so Fielding has more amateur experience than Canelo as he experienced some success as an amateur on the English circuit.
Canelo also has significantly more power in his punches than Fielding. He has stopped 34 of his opponents while Fielding has only stopped fifteen. Fielding also has a TKO loss on his record when he was stopped by Callum Smith. Canelo’s lone loss was to Floyd Mayweather Jr. five years ago and he has never been stopped.
Both fighters have been fairly active. Canelo fought twice in 2017 and once in 2018 while Fielding fought twice in 2018 and in 2017.
Canelo has a long list of accomplished opponents that he has beaten. He has defeated the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Liam Smith, Amir Khan, Miguel Cotto, James Kirkland, Erislandy Lara, Alfredo Angulo, Austin Trout, Shane Mosley, and Carlos Baldomir.
Fielding’s biggest wins were against Tyron Zeuge for the WBA Super Middleweight title, David Brophy, John Ryder, and Brian Vera. This will only be his second fought outside of the United Kingdom and his first fight in the United States.
It’s likely Fielding’s size advantage will give Canelo some problems early on, but Canelo’s skill is levels above Fielding and he should win quite comfortably in his New York City debut.
The Second Series of the Cruiserweight WBSS Proves Belts Matter
By: Ste Rowen
There we were, now here we are. This time last year Yunier Dorticos had KO’d an unbeaten Kudryashov, Mairis Briedis had bored us through twelve rounds against Mike Perez, Murat Gassiev had cut Wlodarczyk down with a body shot that could be felt through the TV screen and Aleksandr Usyk had dealt with a boisterous Marco Huck.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Hand on heart right now, could you say for definite whether there had been a knockout in the quarter-finals of the second series of cruiserweights in the World Boxing Super Series? Did you even know the cruiserweights were in the second series?
The problem is belts. As beautiful as it is to see one man draped in every single piece of boxing jewellery, as in the case of Usyk, the lack of belts or obvious rewards in the WBSS cruiserweight fights this year is so evident and is killing the hype.
So far this season big fights have been made and completed. Former WBC titlist and first season Super Series semi-finalist, Mairis Briedis has decisioned Noel Mikaeljan, former WBO champ, Krzysztof Glowacki dominated the Russian, Maksim Vlasov, Andrew ‘The Beast’ Tabiti, for all his talent, bored an Ekaterinburg crowd to a drab 12-round victory over Ruslan Fayfer and in the best of the bouts, Yunier Dorticos of Cuba slugged it out with former European champion, Mateusz Masternak.
The semi-finals are currently, Dorticos vs. Tabiti and Briedis vs. Glowacki, set to take place in early 2019. For the boxing purist, these are two exceptional fights to be made in a division living in the shadow of the Ukrainian supremo that is Usyk, who recently finished his ‘Fighter of the Year’ 2018 with a knockout of hopeful, Tony Bellew; but the 200lb limit division, and the second series of the Super Series is still steeped in talent even without the undisputed champ, and yet without the glitter on show such as, the WBC belt Briedis used to hold, or the WBO that Glowacki was once the champion of, the show is just lacking that key element that fans come out for, or watch on tv to see – The immediate reward. A champion lifting aloft a recognised, and respected title at the end of a fight.
For now, casual fans will overlook the second season of cruiserweights unless they’re on the same card as say, the bantamweight-semi-final of the newly crowned, WBA champion Nonito Donaire vs. WBO titlist, Zolani Tete. Maybe, by the cruiserweight’s final, there will be vacant belts left behind by Usyk moving up to the heavyweight division, but the keyword is ‘vacant’. And maybe it won’t matter that history will show the belts as vacant, but that was the beauty of the first series, and the perfection that lies in the bantamweight version of the Super Series, a feeling of finality. That when the final comes around and is won and lost, the man who lifts the Muhammad Ali Trophy above their head is actually worthy of having their name next to ‘The Greatest’. The current feeling with this season of cruiserweights is that this isn’t the case. Let’s hope for at least a knockdown in the semi-finals.
Was Calzaghe the Greatest Super Middleweight?
By: Ken Hissner
After compiling a 110-10 amateur record Joe “Pride of Wales/Italian Dragon” Calzaghe turned professional in November of 1993 and won his first 9 fights by knockout. In his 17th fight he defeated Mark “Del” Delaney, 21-0, by TKO 5 in his first BBBofC British title defense he won in Oct 1995 stopped Stephen Wilson, 11-1.
In June of 1997 Calzaghe stopped Luciano “Toto Dodo” Torres, 45-2, of Brazil, to earn a title fight in his next fight with Chris “Simply the Best” Eubank, 45-2-2, for the vacant WBO World Super Middleweight Title. He had Eubank down in the first round and went onto win a lopsided 12 round decision.
Photo Credit: Joe Calzaghe Twitter Account
In Calzaghe’s third defense he won a split decision over Robin “Grim Reaper” Reid, 26-1-1. In August of 2000 he stopped Omar Sheika, 20-1, of the US. In his following fight he stopped Richie Woodhall, 26-2.
In Calzaghe’s next fight in April of 2001 he scored a first round stoppage of Germany’s Mario Veit, 30-0, having him down twice. In April of 2002 he defeated former IBF Champion Charles “Hatchet” Brewer, 27-8, of the US in his tenth defense.
In June of 2003 Calzaghe stopped former WBA Champion Byron “Slamma from Bamma” Mitchell, 25-2-1, coming off the floor for the first time in the second round. He got up and floored Mitchell in the same round. In his next fight he stopped Armenian Mgr “Matador” Mkrtchyan, 18-1, of Russia. Next he defeated Kabary “Egyptian Magician” Salem, 23-3, coming off the floor in the fourth round. He had Salem down in the twelfth.
In May of 2005 Calzaghe went to Germany in a rematch with Germany’s Mario Veit, 45-1, stopping him in the sixth round for his sixteenth defense. Next he won every round on two of the judge’s cards defeating Kenya’s Evans “African Warrior” Ashira, 24-1, of Denmark. In March of 2006 he added the IBF World Title defeating Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy, 21-0, having Lacy down in the twelfth round.
In October Calzaghe defeated Cameroon’s Sakio “The Scorpian” Bika, 20-1-2, out of Australia, who would win the WBC title in 2013. In April of 2007 in his twentieth defense he stopped Peter Manfredo, Jr. 26-3, of the US. In July he added the WBA Title defeating southpaw Mikkel “Viking Warrior” Kessler, 39-0, of Denmark. This would be his twenty-first and last defense.
In April of 2008 Calzaghe went to America for the first time in an overweight bout coming off the floor in the first round winning by split decision over former WBO, WBA, WBC and IBF Middleweight Champion Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, 48-4-1, in Las Vegas, NV. Hopkins was far from finished as he went onto win the WBA, WBC and IBF Light Heavyweight titles.
In Calzaghe’s final fight he defeated former IBF Middle, Super Middle, WBC, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight champion who also won the WBA Heavyweight Title Roy Jones, Jr., 52-4, coming off the canvas in the first round to do it. All three judges had it 118-109. The bout was held in the Madison Square Garden, in New York. On February 5th, 2009 Calzaghe announced his retirement with a 46-0 record with 32 knockouts.
Calzaghe was trained by his father Enzo and promoted and managed by Frank Warren. “I’ve had more broken bones than I can remember. My hands are crippled. They ache every single day from all the breaks. I have a really bad back too. I’m on pain killers a lot and I’m going to have bad arthritis when I’m older. I was happy to retire. I retired at the top. Yes, it was hard to fill the adrenaline rush for a while and that pisses you off but it’s nice to just be normal. Now I’m a dad and live the quiet life. I never wanted to be a celebrity. It was all about the boxing,” said Calzaghe.
In 2014 Calzaghe was inducted into the IBHOF in New York along with Felix “Tito” Alvarez and Oscar “Golden Boy” De La Hoya who both lost to Hopkins who Calzaghe beat. I did an article stating “Calzaghe should not be in the shadows having beaten the man (Hopkins) who beat both Trinidad and De La Hoya. My editor at the time informed me Calzaghe’s father Enzo loved the article.
Calzaghe’s was 46-0 with 32 knockouts and had 21 title defenses. He held the WBO, WBC, WBA and IBF Titles. Was he the best Super Middleweight in the history of boxing? The record speaks for itself!
Golovkin Could Move Up to Super Middleweight to Face Champ Callum Smith
By: Michael Kane
Could Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) be following Canelo Alvarez to the super middleweight division?
According to Matchroom Promotions supremo Eddie Hearn that is a possibility.
Canelo (50-1-2, 34 KOs) faces WBA Regular champ Rocky Fielding (27-1,15 KOs) in New York on Dec 15th, in a debut fight at the 168 lbs division. Hearn has said talks have started about GGG taking on WBA Super champion Callum Smith (25-0, 18 KOs), potentially at the home of Liverpool FC, Anfield, next year.
If Smith doesn’t face GGG then there is talk of him moving to light heavyweight for a shot against one of the champions from that division.
“I’ve spoken to Tom Loeffler [‘GGG’s promoter] about it before,” Hearn told Sky Sports, “not since the press conference last week though
“That’s my No 1 choice for Callum Smith.
“I think it’s a fight that fills Anfield. It’s a great profile fight, it’s a great fight, full stop.
“Also, for Golovkin it gives him a chance to move up, do what ‘Canelo’ is doing, fight for the ‘Super’ title, and also for the ‘Ring’ magazine title at 168lbs.”
GGG may fancy a move up to super middleweight having competed at middleweight for so long and could set up another blockbuster with Canelo in the process, this time at super middleweight.
“If he [Golovkin] is even close to the mark in terms of weight at middleweight, it might be a good option,” Hearn continued.
“But whether he wants to take that risk before a possible third Canelo fight, I don’t know.”
WBSS on DAZN Preview: Briedis vs. Mikaelian, Glowacki vs. Vlasov
By: Hector Franco
This weekend at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois the World Boxing Super Series will be in full effect with the quarterfinals of the Cruiserweight division portion of the tournament. In the main event, Latvia’s Mairis Briedis (24-1, 18 KOs) will be taking on Germany’s Noel Mikaelian (23-1, 10 KOs) for the WBC cruiserweight diamond belt. Join DAZN free for 30 days and live-stream fight night anywhere!
Fans may remember Briedis for his stint in the first season of the World Boxing Super Series. At the time of the tournament, Briedis was the WBC cruiserweight champion winning the vacant title from former cruiserweight champion Marco Huck in early 2017. Entering the tournament, Briedis was considered one of the tournament favorites including Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev. In the first round, Briedis won a clear unanimous decision over former heavyweight contender Mike Perez. The Latvian cruiserweight would then go on to face the eventual winner of the tournament in Usyk. Looking back at the level of dominance Usyk has displayed thus far throughout his career, Briedis was able to give the Ukrainian his toughest test falling short in a close majority decision loss.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Briedis’ ability to give one of the best fighters in the sport a run for their money makes him this year’s tournament favorite this season. Briedis’ opponent, Noel Mikaelian, is not well known in the United States; however, his only defeat came at the hands of Poland’s Krzysztof Wlodarczyk who also participated in last season’s cruiserweight tournament. What will be detrimental to Mikaelian is that he has been inactive for the last 14 months with his last victory coming in September of 2017 against Isiah Thomas. The fight with Briedis will be Mikaelian’s first time-fighting in the United States and just the second time for the Latvian fighter.
For a first-round opponent, it may not get any tougher than having to face Briedis. For that reason, he will be the heavy favorite to advance to the semi-finals.
The main co-feature fight will be another quarterfinal tournament bout in the cruiserweight division featuring former WBO cruiserweight champion Krzysztof Glowacki (30-1, 19 KOs) taking on Russia’s Maksim Vlasov (42-2, 25 KOs). Glowacki is best known for his exciting, action-packed style that has provided fans with some of the best cruiserweight fights of this era. The Polish fighter’s 2015 bout with Marco Huck was one of the best fights of that year and showed that he could bounce back from being knocked down earlier on to come back to win by knockout. As is the case with a vast majority of top cruiserweights, Glowacki’s only blemish on his record stems from a bout with Usyk in September 2016.
Glowacki’s opponent Vlasov has fought as low as the middleweight division with his last defeat coming at the hands of current WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez in 2015. Since then, Vlasov has won 12 fights in a row with ten of those victories by way of stoppage. The only other defeat on Vlasov’s record is against light heavyweight contender Isaac Chilemba. Needless, to say that while Vlasov has not faced the elite at cruiserweight the gap in competition between him and Glowacki is not as extensive as one would think.
The city of Chicago has one of the largest Polish immigrant populations in the United States, and as seen in his fights with Huck and Steve Cunningham, Glowacki will have a large contingent of supporters in the arena. Fans in attendance can expect an action-packed battle between Glowacki and Vlasov who are the same age (32) and will continue the international rivalry between Russia and Poland.
The fights will stream live on DAZN this Saturday, November 10th at 8:00 pm ET.
WBSS on DAZN Preview: Taylor vs. Martin; Burnett vs. Donaire
By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night two of Britain’s best take to the ring for the World Boxing Super Series as 140lb number two, seed Josh Taylor of Scotland, fights undefeated American, Ryan Martin; while WBA bantamweight champion, Ryan Burnett of Belfast, steps in with future hall of famer, Nonito Donaire. Watch the fight on DAZN.
Whether watching at home or inside the arena you’re sure to remember at least one thing from Josh Taylor’s World Boxing Super Series quarter-final vs. Ryan Martin, and that’s noise. When the ‘Tartan Tornado’ appears to the crowd for the first time on Saturday, the Scottish crowd will erupt. Covering Martin, in a cacophony of sound he’s never felt before as a boxer.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Taylor’s professional-breakout fight was in his five-round dismantling of super-lightweight gatekeeper, Dave Ryan at Meadowbank Sports Arena, in 2016 and since then, five out of Taylor’s six fights have taken place either in Glasgow or his home city of Edinburgh. The fan-base has grown and with it, the anticipation of what the Scottish fans will bring.
Saturday nights venue, SSE Hydro was the base for the 2014 Commonwealth games in Glasgow, where Taylor won gold, so it stands to reason that he’ll be forever linked with the venue,
‘‘The Hydro is now my home. Every time I fight there I’m getting stronger and stronger and the fans are getting bigger and noisier.’’
The ‘Tartan Tornado’s’ last two fight have taken place at the SSE. Five months ago, the Scottish southpaw went head to head with former world champion, Viktor Postol in his most important professional fight to date.
His performance matched the event, as Taylor, now 13-0 (11KOs) battled through 12 exhausting rounds, dropping the Ukrainian in the 11th, to add another notch to his record and emerge as arguably, the biggest threat outside of the current 140lb world champions,
‘‘My style is based on hand speed and timing. I can punch hard as well…I know if I’m hitting you, I’m putting you down or hurting you. I don’t think there’s anybody that boxes the way I box.’’
‘‘I’ve seen every type of style, every type of fighting you can imagine… My ambition is to move forward, win this tournament and become world champion.’’
Before entering the WBSS, Taylor was making his way through the WBC rankings to eventually face one of the organisation’s belt holders, Jose Ramirez or already confirmed semi-finalist, Regis Prograis. If he wins on Saturday though, he’ll instead face the recently crowned IBF champion, Ivan Baranchyk for that title and a place in the final to fight either Kiryl Relikh or Prograis.
Ryan ‘Blue Chip’ Martin has fluctuated between lightweight and super-lightweight throughout his pro career. Currently 22-0 (12KOs) and training out of Big Bear under the tutelage of Abel Sanchez, Martin has won minor lightweight titles as an amateur and as a professional.
Towards the end of last year, he picked up the 135lb WBA Inter-Continental strap with a split decision victory over Francisco Rojo; as well as already being the owner of the WBC ‘Americas’ lightweight belt. However, his two fights this year came at the weight class above including a shut-out points victory over Briedis Prescott in May.
Though 22 bouts in, his professional record has been steady in its progress; Martin’s not the type of man who takes any opponent lightly,
‘‘I know Josh Taylor’s a very good boxer, I’m the most athletic, I have the most speed and that’s gonna make the most difference throughout the tournament.’’
‘‘I’ve heard the crowd in Scotland is gonna be a very different atmosphere than I’ve ever been in but I’m gonna soak it all in.’’
Although ‘Blue Chip’ won’t have fought in an atmosphere as raucous as Saturday’s is expected to be, he’s no stranger to performing on the big stage having already performed at venues such as, the StubHub Center in LA, Vegas’s T-Mobile Arena and, probably the most famous boxing venue of all, Madison Square Garden,
‘‘I’m a boxer-puncher. I love to entertain, I love to excite people…Nobody wants to see a boring fighter.’’
‘‘As fighter’s every time we step in the ring we’re risking something so why not risk it on the big stage.
As mentioned earlier, the man to emerge victorious this weekend will go on to face Ivan Baranchyk in the semi-finals, who last week scored a 7th round stoppage victory over Anthony Yigit.
Ryan Burnett vs. Nonito Donaire
The fourth and final bantamweight quarter-final sees WBA ‘Super’ champion, Ryan Burnett step into the ring with ‘The Filipino Flash’, Nonito Donaire. The winner will progress to the semis to fight WBO champion, Zolani Tete.
No one can say the 26-year-old Ryan Burnett hasn’t earned his place at the top table of 118lb boxers. The Belfast man has, on numerous occasions, been given reasons to quit boxing, his story, which he outlines in another brilliantly put together Super Series documentary here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu4AaO7UGlc isn’t your regular hard knocks tale.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
He’s overcome neurological issues that he was told were career-ending and been homeless; all before even catching his break in the sport.
‘‘I’ve got a hunger that I know no one in there has.’’
‘‘For a year and a half, we learnt how the brain worked and we started pursuing it to prove that my health wasn’t in any danger…I just always had that mad belief that I am meant to be a world champion.’’
Since around 2014, Burnett has been trained by Adam Booth and since then, established a record of 19-0 (9KOs) which, most significantly, includes becoming a world champion in 2017, for the first time via a completely dominant decision victory over Lee Haskins, and then immediately unifying the WBA and IBF championships with a tough but unanimous points win over Zhanat Zhakiyanov.
Before the WBSS second season fighters was announced, Burnett decided to drop the IBF strap, therefore avoiding a fight with WBSS semi-finalist, and now IBF champion, Emmanuel Rodriguez. Instead, Ryan’s one bout so far in 2018 was a fairly routine victory over Venezuelan, Yonfrez Parejo on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker.
Like all of the top seeds across the Super Series, Burnett recognises the pressure on his shoulders, especially when he’s going up against the power that his Filipino foe is known for,
‘‘I don’t need to be nasty to people, I’m able to switch it like a light switch and I turn into a different person…I picked Nonito because, the better the fighter, the better I become.’’
‘‘We all dream of these moments of fighting the best and becoming the best in the world and the World Boxing Super Series are making that come true.’’
Currently 38-5 (24KOs), Nonito Donaire’s, last fight was also his latest defeat as ‘The Filipino Flash’ was beaten by Burnett’s fellow Northern Irishman, Carl Frampton.
Speaking at the press conference on Wednesday, the four-weight world champion was asked about any similarities between the two men,
‘‘They (Frampton & Burnett) are similar because they’ve both got big balls. They’re there to fight and that’s something that I like… I’m just grateful to be in the ring with a great man.’’
Nonito hasn’t fought at bantamweight since 2011 when he scored a unanimous decision over, a then 35-0-2, Omar Narvaez. That night in New York he became a two-weight world champion, picking up the WBC & WBO straps as well as improving his own record to 27-1.
He then shifted his sights to super-bantam and eventually the featherweight division where he accomplished world honours in both, but by his own admission, he didn’t feel all together comfortable fighting at the 126lb limit, and the tournament has given him the opportunity to add one more achievement to his already impressive accolades.
‘‘I’ve always come to fight the best out there…I’ve achieved pretty much everything in boxing…The only thing I haven’t done in boxing is become the undisputed champion, and that’s the one thing that’s given me this fire.’’
It’s beneficial for both sides as well though as Donaire’s legendary status adds an extra bit of flavour to an already appetising class of fighters that has been whittled down to Naoya Inoue, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Zolani Tete.
‘‘This is a moment for me to rise. When one is driven to a point, there’s only one way to go and that’s going up and that’s rising beyond what I’m capable of.’’
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World Boxing Super Series Soldiers On, Even If You’re Not Watching
By Jake Donovan
One week after Emmanuel Rodriguez and Yunier Dorticos were both dragged through hell in order to secure well-deserved victories in Orlando, Regis Prograis and Ivan Baranchyk found new ways to take their respective careers to new heights in separate dominant wins Saturday evening in New Orleans.
The boxing world should be talking loud and proud about each of these four boxers, all of whom have advanced to the next round of the latest edition of World Boxing Super Series. Instead, all were forced to ply their trade in front of near-empty venues and with little outside fanfare beyond the sport’s hardcore due to their events playing second fiddle on their own platform.
So continues the struggles of rallying the U.S. boxing audience around the WBSS brand, a sad commentary as the series as a whole deserves a far more resounding response.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Whereas its overseas offerings have little difficulty commanding attention, the four stateside shows to date between the WBSS’ two seasons have featured little in the way of full-scale promotion, which has been reflected at the box office and in TV interest. Tournament handlers appeared to have learned from mistakes made in Season One, with this year’s offering featuring six WBSS doubleheaders rather than each bout topping its own card.
It meant a stacked card in Japan to kick off the series, with regional hero and rising bantamweight superstar Naoya Inoue destroying former champ Juan Carlos Payano in barely over a minute. The show aired on Sunday afternoon in Japan, which meant early Sunday morning for stateside viewers who were able to view on DAZN-USA which has picked up the U.S. broadcasts rights for the entire WBSS tournament spanning three weight divisions.
Despite the odd time slot for a typical boxing broadcast airing stateside, the event was able to command attention thanks to a big splash from DAZN USA presenting its first-ever US-based card barely eight hours prior in Chicago. Through cross-promotion came the extra push the event deserved, and fans willing to wake up a little earlier than normal in this corner of the world in order to catch Inoue and Kiryl Relikh (whom bested Eduard Troyanovsky in a 140-pound title defense) advance to the WBSS semifinal round of their respective weight divisions.
A similarly less distracting atmosphere came of the October 13 WBSS doubleheader from Russia. While wins posted by visiting cruiserweight Andrew Tabiti and well traveled bantamweight tiitlist Zolani Tete over house favorites Ruslan Fayfer and two-time Olympian Mikhail Aloyan lacked action, the advancement in their respective careers received deserved attention due to not having to compete for coverage.
The most significant boxing card of the day would come hours later on ESPN, with Terence Crawford stopping Jose Benavidez in the 12th round of the most watched U.S. televised boxing match of 2018. The spacing out between events meant most in the boxing industry were able to give their undivided attention to both shows.
That has simply not at all been the case for the past two WBSS offerings.
Conflicting telecasts is hardly anything new in boxing culture, but normally coming from rival networks or promoters. In each of the past two weeks, WBSS coverage was trumped by more high profile events offered by promoter Eddie Hearn, the primary boxing content provider for DAZN-USA.
Everything about Rodriguez’ gutsy win over Jason Moloney should’ve commanded boxing headlines. Their 12-round war is among the short list of viable Fight of the Year candidates, and Rodriguez’ eventual well-earned split decision victory setting up a mouthwatering bantamweight semifinal matchup with Inoue, a bout that is rumored to land stateside.
The perfect primer to the Rodriguez-Moloney slugfest came in the form of Dorticos’ brave stand versus a tough-as-nails challenger in Poland’s Mateusz Masternak. Dorticos is never in a bad fight—his TKO loss to Murat Gassiev in the Season One WBSS cruiserweight semifinals earlier this year also garnering Fight of the Year consideration—and his latest feat was no exception.
Unfortunately, the event came in front of a sparse Orlando crowd devoid of atmosphere, and playing second fiddle among the U.S. boxing audience to Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA-promoted event in Boston, headlined by Demetrius Andrade’s vacant middleweight title-winning shutout effort over Namibia’s Walter Kautondokwa. DAZN-USA’s core boxing crew was on hand for the latter event, with the WBSS offering on the same streaming platform carrying that DAZN brand only in televised rights but without any of the production value or promotion.
Prograis’ latest hometown headliner on Saturday suffered the same fate.
The unbeaten New Orleans native showed new elements to his game, offering a complete performance through a more subdued attack in dominating former lightweight titlist and still highly credible Terry Flanagan. The virtual shutout win included a knockdown of Flanagan, who’d previously never been down as a pro, as Prograis—in going 12 rounds for the first time in his career—showed that his boxing ability is just as strong as his explosive knockout game.
Much like the forthcoming November 10 WBSS cruiserweight doubleheader airing live from Chicago, Saturday’s show was intriguing in that both legs of the telecast featured bouts in the same weight class. While the winners won’t face off next—Prograis will next face Relikh, while Bananchyk awaits the winner of next week’s clash between Josh Taylor and Ryan Martin—Saturday night’s show very well could have provided a glimpse into the super lightweight finals.
That’s how dominant was Ivan Baranchyk’s performance, completely shutting the left eye of Anthony Yigit who bravely fought on to the point of even protesting the mandated stoppage by the ringside physician after seven physical rounds. Baranchyk picked up a vacant title for his effort, but seemed secondary to his not only remaining unbeaten but posing as a deep threat to Prograis and the rest of the bantamweight field.
Prograis and Baranchyk have plenty for which to be proud, but their moments of glory came in front of a near-empty room in a New Orleans venue that featured a much healthier crowd when Prograis performed just four months prior. This time around, it was DAZN-USA’s only boxing show on the night but from a notoriety perspective paled in comparison to a Hearn-promoted HBO triple header featuring storylines galore—including Daniel Jacobs re-emerging toward the top of the middleweight division following a hard-fought win over unbeaten and longtime training stablemate Sergiy Derevyanchenko to win a vacant title.
The WBSS tournament drifts back overseas to Glasgow, Scotland this weekend. Taylor and Martin will compete in a battle of unbeaten super lightweights looking to land a semifinal date with Baranchyk, while Ryan Burnett and former four-division champ Nonito Donaire meet with the winner to face Tete in the bantamweight semifinals.
One week later will come the cruiserweight doubleheader at UIC Pavilion in Chicago, where the winners between Mairis Breidis-Noel Gevor and Krzysztof Glowacki-Maksim Vlasov will collide early next year in the cruiserweight semifinals. A swarm of tickets still remain for the show, with barely a ripple of news having come of the event since the batch of stories that followed its initial announcement more than a month ago.
The good news for stateside viewers is that the November 10 cruiserweight show doesn’t have any competition on the dial. However, the most significant show of the day—and even of the division, for that matter—will come earlier from London.
That’s when World cruiserweight king and WBSS Season One winner Oleksandr Usyk will face Tony Bellew, also to be carried on DAZN, and to feature the platform’s primary crew and leading promoter. Their event—which in fairness is a massive one—has already benefited from live cross-promotion in each of the first two DAZN-USA live streams.
Nothing even remotely close has been afforded to any of the six Season Two WBSS telecasts. Suffering the most has been the (lack of) promotion for the five past and forthcoming stateside shows between the two seasons, all of which deserve a much better fate.
WBSS on DAZN Results: Prograis Defeats Flanagan; Baranchyk Stops Yigit
By: Ste Rowen
Tonight in The Big Easy, it was anything but easy viewing for the main event audience as, Regis Prograis battled his way to a unanimous decision victory over terry Flanagan; and, in more pleasant viewing, Ivan Baranchyk became the new IBF 140lb champion to score a 7th round technical stoppage over Anthony Yigit; both to progress to the semi-finals of their respective WBSS semi-finals.
Prograis now moves on to face Kiryl Relikh in the semi-finals; whilst Baranchyk faces the winner of next week’s matchup between Josh Taylor vs. Ryan Martin.
Both main event fighter’s southpaws, Prograis and Flanagan, were clearly weary of the other’s qualities as the two WBSS quarterfinalists fought off a steady jab through the early rounds into the 4th. ‘Turbo’ was in the fight but offering very little other than making it difficult for Prograis to initiate a substantial offense.
Photo Credit: DAZN Twitter Account
Both boxers seemed more mobile through the middle rounds, but there was only one man, home fighter Regis, who wanted to bring the excitement tonight. Flanagan seemed to have resigned himself to the occasional overhand counter. The Manchester native’s combinations weren’t quick enough to land on ‘Rougarou’.
At the end of round 6, Prograis gestured to his home crowd to pick up the atmosphere, a sure sign that the fight was lacking action. The American, in black and gold shorts, did his best to break out a fight but as the saying goes, it takes two to tango, and the away fighter had no desire to dance anything but his own moves.
With just over two minutes left of the 8th, Prograis dropped Flanagan. ‘Turbo’ took the 8-count and the onslaught that followed from the WBC ‘Interim’ champ, to survive the round. Now the crowd was making the noise Regis wanted to hear. But the 9th began as if the previous round hadn’t happened, ‘Turbo’ persisted with his earlier tactics, and Prograis reverted to a jab and hook manoeuvre.
Through 10 and 12, more of the same occurred as the American looked for a way in, but Terry nullified most shots that came his way, without firing back with his own arsenal.
It’s not hard to see what Flanagan’s plan was at the start of tonight’s bout, it is difficult however, to understand what ‘Turbo’ was looking to do in the championship rounds. The former WBO lightweight champion did very little in terms of attack compared to ‘Rougarou’ and by the final bell it felt as if the Manchester fighter came to survive rather than to win. Regis’ jab ruled the fight throughout and saw him to the final bell.
It was never in doubt as the crowd waited for the judge’s final scorecards. The announcer called, 119-108, 118-109, 117-110 all for Regis Prograis, who spoke after the fight,
‘‘I want to bring big time boxing back to New Orleans and guess what? I did it. We gonna do it again.’’
‘‘I boxed my ass off. Most people say I can’t box, I can’t do this, I can’t do that, I only got power, now I showed you I can go 12 rounds with a world class fighter…It doesn’t matter who the hell I fight, the Muhammad Ali trophy is mine.’’
Ivan Baranchyk vs. Anthony Yigit
Baranchyk ‘The Beast’ may have been born in Belarus, but the super-lightweight has made his home in the US, and tonight it seemed as though he’d made his home in New Orleans as he fell into his stride early on into tonight’s bout.
From the first bell both fighters went in search for the big, finisher. Yigit, the southpaw struggled to make as much as an impact as his Belarussian opponent who, on multiple occasions through the early rounds, impactfully jerked the Swedes head back.
Photo Credit: DAZN Twitter Account
Yigit was throwing well, but volume counts for nothing if it doesn’t land. Baranchyk was living to his pseudonym of ‘The Beast’ into rounds 2 and 3 as he landed with precision, rarely wasting shots, and though at times he was using his face as his best defence, Ivan’s chin stood up and allowed him to fire off hooks more efficiently.
It seems a little lazy to compare an eastern European fighter to Gennady Golovkin but, Baranchyk really does resemble an early day’s version of the Kazakh. Ivan seems to trust so much in his chin and accuracy that he’s prepared to go toe to toe, and jaw to jaw, with whatever opponent he faces.
Into round 4 there was now swelling below Yigit’s left eye. The pressure seemed beginning to tell, but the Swedish southpaw clearly hadn’t got the message as he rushed into attacks, attempting to restrain his foe’s outside game. It wasn’t working, and by the 6th, Yigit’s left eye looked ready to blow. Baranchyk was firing from all angles, and almost without meaningful reply by now, but he knew where the most valuable punches needed to land.
Through to the 7th, no one could question Anthony’s desire. As his eye only swelled further, the Swede, 21-0-1 (7KOs) heading into tonight, seemed to have no quit in him. Though surely only being able to see out of one eye. Yigit was prepared to go head to head with one of the 140lb division’s most dangerous boxers, meeting Baranchyk in the middle of the ring when, arguably, he should have been evading attack trying to tire his opponent out.
With a minute left of round 7, the referee, Phil Edwards, took a point from Baranchyk for what seemed to be pushing down on his opponent. Harsh considering when up close, Yigit seemed to be ducking. It didn’t matter though as, at the end of the same round, the ring doctor took another extensive look at the Swede’s eye and called an end to the bout, sending the Belarussian into the World Boxing Super Series semi-finals.
Yigit fiercely protested against the stoppage but it seemed the good doctor saved the Swede from himself. Yigit will walk away from tonight with credit in the bank and, a very worthy and attractive contender.
Baranchyk however, comes away from tonight as the IBF world champion and the second Super Series semi-finalist, set to face either Josh Taylor or Ryan Martin in the near future.
Speaking post-fight, the defeated Yigit was magnanimous in defeat,
‘‘Obviously, I am a fighter and you never want a fight to be stopped but maybe it was the right decision. People are telling me it looks pretty bad…Our game plan was to take him later on because we felt like he was gassing out…But they stopped the fight, so I couldn’t fulfil the game plan. He’s a hard hitter and he deserves this win.’’
The new IBF super-lightweight champion, Ivan, now 19-0 (12KOs), was complimentary towards his opponent,
‘‘It was a tough fight, but I win this fight. I win. He’s a tough guy but I love this. Anthony is a good guy, thank you…With him (Trainer, Pedro Diaz) I will win the Ali trophy.’’
WBSS Recap: Rodriguez & Dorticos Earn Decision Victories to Progress to Final Four
By: Ste Rowen
In an intriguing night at Orlando’s CFE Arena, IBF champion, Emmanuel Rodriguez scored a competitive 12-round decision over Jason Moloney; while Yunier Dorticos of Cuba, earnt a tough, but dominant, unanimous decision over Mateusz Masternak, both to progress to the final four of the World Boxing Super Series.
Tonight’s results mean Puerto Rican bantamweight, Rodriguez will fight Naoya Inoue next, and Dorticos, former cruiserweight ‘Regular’ champion, takes on Andrew ‘The Beast’ Tabiti, in their respective WBSS semi-finals.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
First up were the cruiserweights. Dorticos and Masternak started off their bout with a lot of jabs thrown but very little intent by either until, towards the end of the 2nd round, ‘The KO Doctor’ Dorticos lay on an onslaught of 1-2’s, forcing his Polish foe further and further back. The Pole survived but the pace of the fight was being firmly set by the Cuban.
Masternak sustained two cuts in round 3, one below his right and another above his left, but the former European champion regained composure as the fight unfolded into the middle rounds of the scheduled 12. Yunier, now 23-1-0 (20KOs), was mixing up his shots well. The frequent body attack in the early rounds let the crowd know that the former WBA ‘Regular’ champion was thinking long term for this matchup.
‘The Master’ may have taken punishment early, but through the 8th and 9th, Mateusz was showing that he wouldn’t be intimidated by Dorticos’ power. Even when the European touched the canvas in the 7th due to a slip and maybe a hint of fatigue, he rose calmly and initiated his own string of attacks. Miami resident, Dorticos, with the Orlando crowd audibly in his favour, tagged Masternak with a short right hand in the final 10 seconds of round 9. Once again, Masternak displayed his resoluteness to survive and come out swinging into the 10th.
The final rounds gave us more of the same dominance from ‘The KO Doctor’ and counters from the Polish Master. Both fighters went tit-for-tat in the 12th but the blooded face of Masternak seemed to tell the tale by the time the final bell rang.
And so, we waited for the final scorecards which returned as, 116-112, 115-113 (x2), all for Yunier Dorticos. The KO Doctor had prescribed a unanimous decision, and spoke post-fight via translator,
‘‘I came ready, I was prepared for 12 rounds. I gave the fans the best of everything I bring to the table.’’
And his thoughts on facing Andrew ‘The Beast’ Tabiti in the semi-finals,
‘‘Tabiti, be ready, The KO Doctor’s back and it aint gonna be easy. The Muhammad Ali Trophy, this time around, is mine, so you better make sure you train.’’
The final two cruiserweight WBSS quarter-finals are happening three weeks from now in Chicago when former WBC champion, Mairis Briedis comes up against Noel Gevor, and former WBO titlist, Krzysztof Glowacki fights Maksim Vlasov.
Emmanuel Rodriguez vs. Jason Moloney
In a candidate for fight of a stacked weekend, IBF titlist, Emmanuel Rodriguez roughed and toughed it out with unbeaten contender, Jason Moloney to earn a split decision over 12 rounds.
The IBF champion led with a heavy jab, multiplied his attack with swift overhand shots and evaded significant attack from his Australian opponent. Moloney is no pretender, 17-0, the Australian is undoubtedly a bantamweight contender, but unfortunately for Jason, ‘Manny’ seems to be in a class of few fighters that includes WBSS semi-finalist, Naoya Inoue, who was in attendance tonight.
Though perhaps lacking the power of Japanese phenom, Inoue, Rodriguez, now 19-0 (12KOs) is clinical in his offence. When he throws, he lands. When he dodges, he counters. Into round 4, Moloney began to find a little rhythm. The Australian became more mobile and freed up his shots, but, though there wasn’t much wrong with the tactics, ‘Manny’ figured it out as the bout headed into the middle rounds.
Moloney was more active through to round 9, the messages he was getting from his corner of Rodriguez’ legs ‘going’ were more hopeful than truthful. As the two fighters fought out round 8, the IBF champion, making his first defence, looked mean, almost annoyed that Jason was still hanging in. By the finale of the 9th, as Jason returned to his corner, the left-uppercut/right hand combo towards the end of the round from the Puerto Rican, had clearly left a lasting impression.
The bout entered the final three rounds, and though Moloney, was going all out, he struggled to do anything more than test Manny’s stamina. The blood thirsty crowd were appeased, with all-out action in the final two rounds but heading into the 12th, it looked as if Moloney would need the stoppage if he was gonna be the man to face Inoue next.
The Australian undoubtedly went for it, but the story of the fight seemed to be reoccurring as Moloney had the volume of punching, but the champ had the accuracy. The final scorecards, 115-113 for Moloney and 115-113 (x2) for Rodriguez came back closer than expected, but Rodriguez said he always felt confident, post-fight,
‘‘It took Moloney to bring the best out of me, but I knew I won the fight. We knew the fight was close, but my corner told me I was in front so, that’s what happened.’’
And Emmanuel’s thoughts on his future Japanese foe,
‘‘He’s a top fighter. I know he likes to finish his bouts with a KO…It’s gonna be a good fight and I can’t wait for it.’’
Semi-finalist and Emmanuel’s next opposition, Naoya Inoue joined Rodriguez in the ring and said,
‘‘I would like to congratulate Rodriguez on winning his fight today. I’m really excited that I’ll be facing Rodriguez in the semi-finals probably early next year.’’
The 4th 118lb quarter-final bout takes place in two weeks, when WBA champion, Ryan Burnett fights Filipino Flash, Nonito Donaire at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro. The winner of that matchup progresses on to fight WBO champion, Zolani Tete.
World Boxing Super Series Preview: Rodriguez vs. Moloney, Dorticos vs. Masternak
By: Ste Rowen
In Orlando’s CFE Arena, a venue normally associated with basketball, World Boxing Super Series season one semi-finalist, Yunier Dorticos of Cuba faces Polish cruiserweight veteran, Mateusz Masternak for the right to face Andrew Tabiti in the next round of the Super Series tournament. Alongside the cruiserweight’s second, the 3rd round of WBSS bantamweights get underway as IBF champion, Emmanuel Rodriguez fights, Jason Moloney for the chance to face Naoya Inoue.
Yunier ‘KO Doctor’ Dorticos hasn’t fought since his Fight of the Year contender vs. Murat Gassiev last February. The Miami resident was brave, and emotional, in defeat eight months ago as he went tit-for-tat with then IBF champion Gassiev until ultimately, the Cuban was nailed with a wonderful counter left hook, shot from the hip, by the Russian and handing Dorticos his first professional defeat.
However, ‘The KO Doctor’ is far from down about that loss, if anything, going off the WBSS YouTube pre-fight documentary, Dorticos is more confident than ever,
‘‘Masternak? Master of nothing…Things are going to get really ugly for him.’’
‘‘I have to train to entertain…My style is aggressive, and I’ve always been aggressive… I respect my opponents as people, but I don’t respect them in the ring. I go out to get them.’’
Now 22-1 (21KOs), Yunier has no intention of changing his style this time around,
‘‘The defeat to Gassiev hurt, but when you get knocked down you get up again…Believe me, I am going to KO everyone in front of me this season…I’m here today because of a lot of sacrifice…No one ever gave me anything…’’
Mateusz ‘Master’ Masternak is 31 now but turned professional over twelve years ago. Perhaps defined mostly by his defeats, of which include the supremely talented, but injury-ridden Grigory Drozd and future Usyk opponent, Tony Bellew; Masternak does have victories over potential future hall of famer Jean Marc Mormeck, and twice winning against, his and Dorticos’ shared opponent, Youri Kalenga.
Currently 41-4 (28KOs), ‘Master’ recognizes the enormity of both the bout, and the challenge his opponent represents,
‘‘This is the most important fight of my career. It will determine whether I’m a world class boxer or a second league player…Dorticos is a great boxer. He made a great impression on the first edition of the tournament…But the odds aren’t stacked against me. If we do what we plan, we’ll be celebrating success.’’
It’s not just the Cuban juggernaut heading his way that Mateusz has to deal with. The Pole opened up about his struggle with long term spinal injuries but also, post-Bellew fight in 2015, problems with his vision,
‘‘Following the fight with Tony, I had crossed eyes…There was a problem when I turned my head, I had double vision. So, I saw two heads, so in order to be able to fight I had to change my boxing style.’’
‘‘I’ve been a professional boxer for 12 years, and my dream is to become the world champion. Never before have I been this close to achieving my goal.’’
The remaining quarter-finals to take place, both on the 10th November at Chicago’s UIC Pavilion, in the cruiserweight WBSS are;
Mairis Briedis vs. Noel Gevor
Krzysztof Glowacki vs. Maksim Vlasov
Emmanuel Rodriguez vs. Jason Moloney
In the third fight of the 118lb World Boxing Super Series, IBF champion, Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Rodriguez comes up against undefeated contender, Jason Moloney of Australia.
When Rodriguez, 18-0 12KOs) faced Paul Butler for the vacant IBF 118lb title earlier this year, it was all but confirmed that the winner would enter the World Boxing Super Series. Extra motivation perhaps then as, the Puerto Rican dominated ‘Baby Faced’ Butler over 12-rounds to claim his first world honours and dream of being THE man at 118lb.
Now the man tournament favourite, Naoya Inoue, named the ‘‘…best fight for me’’, has the opportunity to impress the audience and maybe, the Japanese ‘Monster’,
‘‘It’s now or never…I’m in this to win. We’re not here just to make up the numbers.’’
‘‘We’re going to be fully prepared for Jason Moloney. We know he’s unbeaten. He’s the mandatory challenger and hungry to be the world champion, just as I was when I had the opportunity.’’
‘‘I know I have the tools to beat Jason Moloney and anyone else that gets in our way.’’
Jason Moloney, twin brother of superfly contender, Andrew, earnt his path into the WBSS thanks to a technical stoppage over Kohei Kono. Currently the Ring Magazine’s 7th ranked bantamweight, the Australian cut Kono via a punch in round 3, which subsequently forced the end of the fight as the same cut, above the left eye, led to the referee waving off the bout at the beginning of the 7th, with Moloney clearly ahead on the cards.
Fighting outside of Australia for the first time, Jason, 17-0 (14KOs), is keen to prove his place in the tournament isn’t down to good luck,
‘‘I know I am the underdog in this tournament…People write me off because they haven’t seen much of me yet but, that excites me…It doesn’t worry me who we’re fighting. Stylistically I think I match up very well with Rodriguez.’’
‘‘The fans can expect an explosive, entertaining, all action fight. It’s my time to show the world what I’m capable of…If I fight to the best of my ability, I’ll win the fight.’’
The winner of Saturday’s 118lb matchup will take on Naoya Inoue at the semi-final stage. The fourth and final bantamweight quarter-final to take place will be between WBA ‘Super’ champion, Ryan Burnett and future hall of famer, Nonito Donaire, in Glasgow two weeks from this Saturday. The winner of that bout can look forward to a fight with WBO titlist, Zolani Tete, who grinded his way to victory over Mikhail Aloyan last weekend in Russia.
Josh Taylor Confident Ahead of World Boxing Super Series Debut
By: Michael Kane
The World Boxing Super Series rolled into Glasgow today for a press conference ahead of their November 3rd show at the SSE Hydro Arena.
Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9 KO’S) defends his WBA ‘Unified’ championship against former multiple division world champion and legend of the sport Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24 KO’s)
However all eyes today were on a boxer, in which Scottish hopes of another world champion rest on, Prestonpans Josh Taylor.
Taylor (13-0, 11 KO’s) takes on American Ryan Martin (22-0, 12 KO’s) in a quarter final tie, with Taylor defending his WBC Silver Super Lightweight Title.
Taylor will be returning to a familiar venue having fought his last two fights at the Hydro, beating Winston Campos by 3rd round TKO in March and then an unanimous decision over former world champion Viktor Postol in June. Taylor also won gold at the Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow in 2014 as an amateur.
When asked about appearing at the Hydro Taylor said, “Its brilliant, I feel the Hydro is now my home, I’ve had such great success there since 2014.
“My biggest victories as a professional have been in the Hydro as well, so it definitely feels like my home. Looking forward to get travelling, going around the world as part of this tournament and seeing different places.”
What does Taylor expect to face from Martin?
“I’ve only seen bits and bobs of him, I’ve studied enough of him to know what I need to watch for.
“I know he’s a very well rounded fighter, got fast hands, good defensively. Good variation of punches and knows his way around the ring. He’s obviously got power as well although his record doesn’t say, only got 12 stoppages in his 22 wins.
“I know he’s going to throw punches and be strong and I’ll have my hands full. I’m fully confident I’m going to come out on top.”
Taylor continued to say how he feels great in training and more settled.
“The way I’ve been performing in the gym, I’m more settled now, got myself my own place down in London. So I’m settled, happy and I’m firing in the gym.
“I feel this is the best shape and condition I’ve been in since I turned professional, so feeling really confident.”
Taylor went on to say how he feels invincible fighting in front of his own fans.
“I think it’s brilliant, I don’t think there is anybody that will beat me in front of those fans at the Hydro.
“The atmosphere they make, the noise they make and the support they give me, they throw every single punch with me. So there is no way anybody will beat me in the Hydro, definitely no!”
There are a host of quality Super Lightweight fighters in the tournament, Regis Prograis, former world champion Terry Flanagan and WBA champion Kiryl Relikh. Does Taylor fear any of them?
“I’m not really fussed about any of the opposition. I feel I can beat every single one of them that’s in this competition.
“With that being said, they’re all good fighters, with good amateur careers and very tough fighters. They’re all undefeated, I think. Yeah it’s stiff opposition but I’m fully confident I’m going to come away with the trophy.”
With the World Boxing Super Series being a tournament, Taylor already knows who he could face in the semi finals should he over come Martin. He will face the winner of Ivan Baranchyk v Anthony Yigit who are fighting for the vacant IBF world championship.
Does Taylor have a preference?
“I don’t care. I think Baranchyk will probably get through that and if so I’m confident I can win that.
“And if Yigit wins it I know I will win that fight as well. I’ve had experience of him in the ring as a professional and experience of him in the amateurs as well. So I’m fairly confident of winning that fight so I’m not bothered who I face.”
With all indications pointing to a packed Hydro Arena backing Taylor, few would bet against him beating Martin and making it to the semi final for a chance at his first world title shot.
The hopes of Scotland rest on his shoulders to add another world champion to a list that includes Benny Lynch, Ricky Burns, Jim Watt and Ken Buchanan.
WBSS Preview: Tete vs. Aloyan; Tabiti vs. Fayfer
By: Ste Rowen
After last weekend’s fights in Yokohama, the World Boxing Super Series for the bantamweights and super-lightweights is well underway. Naoya Inoue and Kiryl Relikh, progressed through to their respective weight-class tournaments and this weekend in Ekaterinburg, Russia the second bantamweight quarter-final between WBO champion, Zolani Tete and Russian, Mikhail Aloyan takes place for the right to face either WBA champ, Ryan Burnett or Nonito Donaire at the semi-final stage.
Tete, the South African responsible for the quickest knockout in world title fight history (11-second wipe-out of Siboniso Gonya) shot himself into the wider audience’s view after he defended his IBF super-flyweight title for the first time, against Paul Butler, stopping the challenger in eight rounds.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Zolani decided against chasing unification, opting to have two homecoming bouts, returning to England 12 months on from the Butler win, and seek out the best at bantamweight. He would eventually achieve his aim of becoming a two-weight world champion after that same record-breaking Gonya KO meant Tete became the new WBO world champion, putting the rest of the division on notice.
Despite an underwhelming 12-round decision, first defence over Omar Andres Navaez, the South African southpaw, speaking at Thursday’s press conference, is confident he can score the knockout this Saturday,
‘‘As a world champion you need to adjust and adapt in each and every style that a boxer brings…Aloyan is one of the best fighters in the Super Series. I believe it’s going to be a good fight and definitely I’m gonna take him out…Whatever he is bringing, it won’t have any place to stay.
My focus is to become a unified world champion.’’
Zolani, 27-3 (21KOs) currently on a run of 11 straight wins, even set his future ambitions further than the WBSS,
‘‘After I win all the belts in the bantamweight division, we’ll move up to the next division.’’
Tete’s opponent on Saturday night has an interesting history. Born in Armenia but raised and fought for Russia in the amateurs, Mikhail Aloyan, 4-0 (0KOs), was an outstanding amateur picking up gold medals in the 2009 & 2016 World Championships. Aloyan briefly added the 2016 Olympic silver medal until tests came back positive for the stimulant, Tuaminoheptane and the Court of Arbitration of Sports ruled on stripping the silver from Mikhail.
Though the Russian maintains his innocence, he hasn’t let it affect his acceleration through the early stages of his pro career. Also a southpaw, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist has fought twice as at super-fly and twice at bantamweight, winning minor titles in both divisions. The combined record of his last three opponents is 46-1-2 (19KOs) and curiously, all four have so far all been from Nicaragua.
Aloyan, wasn’t allowing Tete’s talk of knockouts distract him at the press conference,
‘‘The fact that this fight takes place in Ekaterinburg, means we have an opportunity to bring out the best of our performance.
He is a strong opponent because he is a world champion…I’m not as experienced as a professional but we will see what happens on October 13th.’’
‘‘I will not speak about my opponent’s weaknesses.’’
The second season of the WBSS cruiserweights also gets going at the Ekaterinburg Expo, as unbeaten, American prospect, Andrew Tabiti steps into the ring with fellow undefeated fighter, Ruslan Fayfer, 23-0 (16KOs).
Tabiti, 16-0 (13KOs) was last seen sharing the ring with career-heavyweight, Lateef Kayode. An opponent ‘The Beast’ dispatched with inside 5 rounds with a precision right hand uppercut. It put to bed any demons left behind Tabiti’s controversial decision victory over cruiserweight veteran, Steve Cunningham on the Mayweather/McGregor undercard last year.
On Thursday, Tabiti, fighting outside of the US for the first time, was in confident mood,
‘‘I’m coming to this man’s country and take what he has. I’m on my A-game, I hope he’s on his A-game. It doesn’t matter how many fights he’s had; the quality of opponent is not anything for me to be afraid of.
I’m just coming to knock this guy out, that’s the only thing I’m worried about.’’
Ruslan Fayfer, 23-0(16KOs), born and raised in Russia, has mainly fought his career out above the 200lb limit, but in 23 fights, has yet to fight an outstanding name. The 27-year-old was taking a reserved approach in front of the media,
‘‘The fact I have more fights than my opponent does give me the ground to say I do have more experience than him…I am not going to reveal anything, I will show everything during the fight.
Everything you should see, you will see on Saturday night.’’
Saturday night’s winner of the cruiserweight showdown will fight either Yunier Dorticos or Mateusz Masternak.
The other WBSS cruiserweight quarter finals are as follows;
Yunier Dorticos vs. Mateusz Masternak – 20th October 2018
Mairis Briedis vs. Noel Mikaelian – 10th November 2018
Krzysztof Glowacki vs. Maksim Vlasov – 10th November 2018
WBSS: Inoue and Relikh Progress To Semi-Finals; Kenshiro Stops Melindo In 7
By: Ste Rowen
Naoya Inoue scored a sensational 1st round knockout of former world champion, Juan Carlos Payano, sending him into the WBSS semi-finals and solidifying his status as the bantamweight tournament favourite.
70 seconds into the fight Inoue, in search of his 7th straight stoppage victory, landed a jab, dropping Payano’s guard and firing off a punch-perfect right hand to send the Dominican to the canvas and bringing the main event proceedings to an early end.
Before tonight Payano was 20-1 (9KOs) having lost just once in a decision defeat to Rau’shee Warren, tonight in Yokohama the southpaw was almost lulled into a false sense of security in the first 60 seconds, until ‘The Monster’ executed his game plan to perfection.
The victory means that Inoue will face either IBF champion, Emmanuel Rodriquez or Jason Moloney, which takes place on the 20th October, in the next round of the World Boxing Super Series.
Speaking post-fight, Naoya was in jubilant mood,
‘‘It’s an amazing feeling.’’
‘‘I am very happy I continue to fight like this, but this is just the 1st round, I will have a 2nd round so I will show the best fight next time too…I would love to fight against (Emmanuel) Rodriguez because he is the best fight for me.’’
Also, on the Yokohama card…
Kiryl Relikh, now 23-2 (19KOs), sealed his place in the super-lightweight WBSS semi-finals and defended his WBA title for the first time, after scoring a unanimous 12-round decision victory over Eduard Troyanovsky. All three judge’s scorecards returned as, 115-113.
The matchup was completely overshadowed by the Kenshiro and Inoue fights that followed it but, the WBA super-lightweight champion will just be happy to have come through a tough test. Relikh will now fight the winner of Regis Prograis vs. Terry Flanagan, which takes place in New Orleans on the 27th October.
With the WBC light-flyweight belt on the line, Teraji Kenshiro made his fourth consecutive defence as the ‘Smiling Assassin’ scored an impressive 7th round TKO over former world champion, Milan ‘Method Man’ Melindo.
The early rounds, of the scheduled 12, lacked sustained action, despite Melindo landing a single overhand right in the 2nd round, Kenshiro was boxing well enough to win the rounds and keep his Filipino opponent at bay. Milan began to pick up the pace from round 4, which in turn, brought the best out of the WBC champion. A battle of the jabs ensued, and both men attempted to fire off combinations more freely.
By round 6 it was clear the pace of the fight was getting to Melindo as the Japanese star’s shots seemed heavier and were having much more of a lasting effect on ‘The Method Man’. Then in the 7th, having already sustained a cut to his left eye, the referee called the ring doctor to check over the Filipino, seconds later the bout was waved off and Kenshiro moved to 14-0 (8KOs).