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Herring, Pedraza Emerge Victorious On Top Rank ESPN Card


By: Sean Crose

Saturday night’s Top Rank ESPN card from Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida began with the 25-2 Jose Pedraza facing off against the 40-2-1 Antonio Lozada in a scheduled 10 round lightweight affair. The opening round was close, with both men landing clean, but Pedraza landed the more impressive blows. Lozada pressured Pedraza in the second, as he had the first, but Pedraza’s ring generalship and accurate punching told the story of the round. Pedraza began to really put his punches together in the third. As the fight carried on, Pedraza began showing effective defense, even presenting shades of Floyd Mayweather’s famous shoulder roll/counter punch style. It was clear by the midpoint of the fight that Pedraza was simply the more skilled boxer of the two.


Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Round seven saw Pedraza moving forward against the aggressive Lozada, though Pedraza’s performance was marred by a low blow. By the first minute of the eighth, Pedraza was unloading on his man. Lozada survived, but Pedraza continued to land with frightening accuracy and consistency. By the end of the round, Lozada looked to truly be impacted by Pedraza’s sharp body punching. In between rounds, the game fighter looked completely defeated. Yet he raced out to meet Pedraza at the top of the ninth, regardless. No matter – Pedraza put Lozada down in the final minute of the round. Lozada got up, but Pedraza unloaded on his man against the ropes. Lozada’s father and trainer wisely stepped in to stop the bout.

It was time for the main event. The 25-1-1Masayuki Ito stepped into the ring to defend his WBO junior lightweight title against the 19-2 former Marine and Olympian Jamel Herring. The scheduled twelve round bout started with both fighters doing well, but with Herring edging the first round. Effective aggression and clean punching gave the defending champion the second. Herring’s jab told the story of the third. Herring engaged in a boxing masterclass in the fourth. By the fifth it was clear that Ito simply couldn’t find his rhythm. Herring ended the round with an impressive series of shots. In the sixth, Ito started landing clean. Ito continued to do better in the seventh, but Herring became largely capable of telegraphing his opponent’s shots.

The eighth round was a brawl, a brawl that Ito arguably got the better of. The ninth was close, though Herring ended up boxing effectively. Herring continued to box smartly in the tenth. Ito went down in the 11th, though it was ruled a slip. Ito was aggressive enough throughout the round to have possibly taken it. The final round was close, and could possibly have gone either way. When the scorecards were read, there was a new champion – Jamel Herring.

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Beterbiev: “I Want To Unify The Titles”


By: Sean Crose

“My preparation was excellent,” says IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev. “I look forward to showing the American fans my talent, and I am glad to be fighting in such a great light heavyweight division.” It’s easy to overlook the fact that the 13-0 Beterbiev, who has won all his bouts by knockout, is fighting this Saturday night due to this weekend’s Canelo-Jacobs match sucking all the oxygen out of the figurative ring. The hard hitting Russian will indeed be fighting, however, in Stockton, California, on a card that will be aired live on ESPN.

Beterbiev’s opponent will be the 24-1 Radivoje Kalajdzic, who has stopped his last three opponents within the distance. What’s more, Kalajdzic’s only loss (which came via split decision) was to the undefeated Marcus Brown for the WBC light heavyweight title back in 2016. “I have a great opponent on Saturday night,” Beterbiev says, “but of course, I want to unify the titles. There are many great light heavyweights, and as a fighter, I want to test myself against the best. I want to be No. 1 in the division.”

As for Kalajdzic, the man is thrilled with the opportunity Saturday has presented him with. “About two years ago,” he says, “I quit boxing. I had a really bad injury, got a job and went up to 225 pounds. Mentally, physically, I was done. Then, I had this procedure, stem cells, and over time it did a miracle. Look at me now. I’m on ESPN fighting for a world title. Life is great.”

Kalajdzic also feels Saturday’s bout will be rewarding for the fans. “I was excited,” he says of finding out he could be Beterbiev’s next opponent, “because I had been telling my manager that (Beterbiev) was one of the guys that I would pick if I could. When I got the call, I didn’t hesitate. I took the fight. It’s going to be a fun fight. He comes forward. I come forward. It’s going to be a fun fight for the fans.”

Saturday’s ESPN card also features the 30-1-2 Jerwin Ancajas defending his IBF super flyweight title against the 31-7 Ryuichi Funai. Ancajas is looking to impress after battling Alejandro Santiago Barrios to a draw last September. “”The last time I fought, I was not happy with the result,” Ancajas says. “For this fight, we did some different things in training to prepare 100 percent for the challenge in front of us. We prepared for all different types of styles, which will help me adjust as the fight goes on. My sparring partners were excellent, and you will see the result of that training on Saturday night.”

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ESPN Boxing Results: Gvozdyk Wins By TKO After Ngumbu Hurts Leg


By: Sean Crose

ESPN’s boxing broadcast from Philly on Saturday opened with the 24-3 Ray Robinson facing the 21-0 Egidijus Kavaliauskas in a scheduled 10 round welterweight affair. Lithuania’s Kavaliauskas stalked his man throughout the first two rounds. The next two rounds showcased more of the same, with Kavaliauskas landing with a degree of effect.

The middle rounds saw Robinson picking up the pace a bit. The problem for Robinson was that his opponent hit harder and was able to cut off the ring with some success. The second half of the fight was engaged closer to the center of the ring than the first half. Still, both fighters were cautious, something that was noted (without pleasure) by ESPNs broadcast team. By the last round, Robinson was able to effectively flick his jab, and actually displayed a bit of aggressiveness.

The fight was ruled a majority draw.

Soon it was time for the main event. The last time the world had seen Oleksandr Gvozdyk, the 16-0 fighter had taken the crown from longstanding WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson by beating the aging titlist into what would eventually become a coma. Still in the shadow of that tragic event, the Teddy Atlas protege slipped between the ropes to face the 38-8 Doudou Ngumbo.

Gvozdyk appeared to be the significantly bigger man right from the opening bell. Gvozdyk patiently worked his way through the 1st, while the awkward Ngumbo found his moments. The 2nd round was interesting, with Gvozdyk trying to work the body. The 3d was fairly close, with Ngumbo throwing off the champion’s timing. Ngumbo began to showboat at the end of the 4th. One could be forgiven for feeling the man might have started to dominate, should he have thrown more punches.

The fight was abruptly halted in the fifth, when Ngumbu seemed to hurt his leg with no help from the champion. Oddly enough, the fighter was given five minutes to recover…but the bout was officially stopped after a few minutes, regardless. Gvozdyk was given a TKO victory as the result of a very strange turn of events.

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Berchelt-Roman: Fight of the Year Being Guaranteed By All Involved


By Jake Donovan

Miguel Berchelt and Miguel Roman not only don’t feel any pressure about living up to the Fight of the Year expectations surrounding their upcoming title clash; they’re both prepared to raise the ante.

The pair of knockout artists from Mexico are set to collide for Berchelt’s 130-pound title this Saturday live on ESPN+ from Don Haskins Convention Center in El Paso, Texas. From the moment their super featherweight title fight was announced, many in the industry hailed it as a can’t-miss slugfest.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

It’s the one aspect of the fight on which both combatants agree.

“I trained very hard for this fight; I want to knock him out,” Berchelt (34-1, 30KOs) boldly stated during Thursday’s final press conference ahead of his fourth title defense. “Blood, emotion and entertainment are guaranteed (in this fight) and I’m here to knock him out.”

It’s reasonable for Berchelt to predict a knockout anytime he steps into the ring. The red-hot puncher from Merida, Mexico—who turns 27 later this month—has been extended the distance just once in his past 21 starts dating back to 2012.

The bulk of his career has comprised of quick hits, in fact having never been past six rounds prior to his title challenge of Francisco Vargas in Jan. ’17. Berchelt validated his credentials as a leading contender, going tooth and nail with his countryman before surging late and forcing a stoppage in the 11th round to win his first title.

Just six months later, Berchelt would go even deeper into a contest, being extended the 12-round distance for the only time in his career in decisioning Takashi Miura. Despite having to go to the scorecards, Berchelt’s power was still evident in dominating the former champ from Japan.

A pair of 3rd round knockouts have comprised of his 2018 ring campaign, both taking place in Mexico. The latter came in June against former featherweight beltholder Jonathan Barros, topping a card that saw Roman (60-12, 47KOs) extend his four-fight win streak—all by knockout—with a two-round blitzing of previously unbeaten Michel Marcano.

The show was designed to build intrigue toward their eventual head-on collision, a path that began with Roman actually stepping in for his upcoming opponent on a night that forever changed his hard-luck career.

Berchelt was due to defend his title versus Orlando Salido last December, only for a hand injury to force him off of the HBO-televised show. Salido agreed to an offered stay-busy fight with Roman, who accepted the assignment on less than six weeks’ notice but proved more than game for the cause.

What was perceived as a Salido showcase instead turned into his forced retirement party, as Roman battered his countryman en route to a 9th round stoppage victory. The feat marked a bizarre 2017 ring campaign, beginning the year with a stoppage loss to Miura in a final eliminator—on the same night Berchelt trumped Vargas to win the strap—and then ending the year with the type of win that put him back squarely in the title picture.

“I’m very happy this fight is happening,” stated Roman, who—like his opponent—has been the distance just once in his last 21 starts, a run that includes 19 knockout wins. “I’ve dreamed about a fight like this since I turned pro at age 17. It’s finally happening on Saturday and I plan to leave everything.”

Berchelt is the heavy betting favorite going in, but many expect Roman to pull the crowd with the fight taking place just north of the U.S./Mexico border from his hometown of Juarez, Mexico—a city which incredibly has yet to boast a champion among the nation’s rich boxing history.

“I will be the first ever champion in the history of Juarez,” Roman firmly proclaimed. “That gets me going and I am very motivated for that very reason. I am going to leave everything in the ring.”

The bold claims from both boxers are music to Bob Arum’s ears—especially since the Hall of Fame promoter has already established a very high ceiling for this weekend’s clash.

“I guarantee this {fight} will be considered, once it’s finished, a contender for Fight of the Year,” stated Arum, who doesn’t have a vested interest in either boxer other than his Top Rank promotional outfit securing the rights to present the event through ESPN’s streaming service. “This is no ordinary fight. This is going to be a great, memorable fight.”

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A Tale Of Two Middleweight Title Fights


By Jake Donovan

Demetrius Andrade managed to win all 12 rounds of his vacant title fight yet somehow still found himself outclassed by another middleweight in the ring on Saturday night.

Luckily for Andrade, the far more memorable performance delivered by Robert Brant took place in a boxing ring in Las Vegas, more than 2,700 miles away from his main event in Boston, Mass.

The pair of middleweight title fights were the biggest events of a busy boxing weekend, but couldn’t have been more drastic in action despite both delivering the same exact results: landslide victories for the newly crowned titlists.


Photo Credit: Demetrius Andrade Twitter Account

Andrade scored a 12-round shutout of late replacement Walter Kautondokwa in their main event at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The makeshift headliner came about after Billy Joe Saunders was pulled from the bill and stripped of his title after a failed drug test in late August resulted in his being denied a boxing license by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission.

Kautondokwa (17-1, 16KOs) attempted to put his best foot forward, but the 33-year old contender from Namibia—who took the fight on less than two weeks official notice—was hopelessly outclassed from the opening bell. Andrade (26-0, 16KOs) had a chance to make a major statement, appearing well on his away after scoring four knockdowns through the first four rounds while making his debut under promoter Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA outfit.

Rather than proceeding in a manner that would keep fans in attendance and DAZN home viewers engaged, the contest somehow devolved into a garden variety Andrade fight. The fighting pride of Providence, Rhode Island—roughly an hour from Boston—had a hopelessly overmatched opponent in front of him, yet decided to box his way through the rest of the night.

It was the safest route he could’ve possibly chosen, but one that he and his supporters will quickly note that resulted in winning his third title in two weight divisions. Those who didn’t care for his opting to put it in cruise control will quickly point out that on the very same streaming service that carried his bout—and going head-to-head with his show—came a fiercely-contested World Boxing Super Series doubleheader from Orlando, Florida which generated far more engaging social media chatter.

Playing to far less pre-fight fanfare, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Yunier Dorticos both survived firefights to advance to the semifinal round of their respective WBSS tournaments. Rodriguez barely escaped with his bantamweight title and unbeaten record still intact following a hard-fought split decision win over Jason Moloney in a legitimate Fight of the Year contender.

It had to be that good after the brave showing put forth in the co-feature, where Dorticos fended off a late rally from Poland’s Mateusz Masternak to earn a close unanimous decision. The win put him in the semifinals of the WBSS cruiserweight bracket, the same position he found himself in earlier this year during Season One of the WBSS cruiserweight tournament.

As heartwarming as were both legs of the DAZN-aired WBSS tourney from Orlando, both DAZN offerings were extraordinarily outdone by what took place on EPSN+ live from Las Vegas.

For Ryota Murata (14-1, 12KOs), the game plan was simple; turn back the challenge of Brant and then proceed to a mouthwatering showdown with recently dethroned unified titlist Gennady Golovkin at some point in 2019. Murata was attempting the second defense of his secondary middleweight title, but the belt and his drawing power back home in Japan was enough to drum up the idea of a showdown with Golovkin at the famed Tokyo Dome.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

The concept was enough to prompt Golovkin’s longtime promoter, Tom Loeffler ringside at MGM Grand’s Park Theatre in Las Vegas to keep an eye on his client’s potential future investment.

What he witnessed what was not only that very opportunity drying up and blowing away, but also quite possibly the biggest upset of the 2018 boxing season.

Brant (24-1, 16KOs) told anyone who’d listen that his loss to Jurgen Braehmer in last year’s WBSS super middleweight quarterfinals round made him a better fighter in the long run. It’s something that a lot of boxers say after a defeat, but claiming such an occurrence to be a learning lesson and actually learning from the experience are not always one and the same.

The performance delivered by Brant in his first career title fight certainly put something behind his words. The engaging middleweight from Minnesota—who moved up to 168 last year solely for the sake of entering the tournament but has since dropped back down to his natural fighting weight—had fought just once since his lone defeat and was a massive underdog heading into Saturday’s showdown with Murata.

Someone forgot to tell him that he was just an opponent who wasn’t supposed to get in the way of bigger plans in store for the defending titlist. Brant jumped out to an early lead, finding Murata’s leaky defense all too inviting, Murata was not only forced to deal with his opponent’s offensive attack, but also bruising and swelling around both eyes and a growing deficit on the official scorecards.

Try as he might, the 32-year old from Tokyo—who captured a Gold medal for Japan during the 2012 London Olympics—just couldn’t mount a sustained attack to help turn the tide. Meanwhile, Brant never stopped throwing punches, in fact launching more than 1,260—averaging more than 100 punches per round, an unheard of workrate for a middleweight fight.

It was more than enough to secure the biggest win of his career. Brant claimed a surprisingly wide decision to become a secondary titlist in a lucrative middleweight division, and—perhaps even more important—fighting well beyond expectations, even taking into consideration the hype surrounding his career not too long ago as a rising middleweight prospect.

When all was said and done, Brant delivered a performance indicative of a boxer who never took a win for granted at any point in the fight and who had no clue heading into the night—or even afterward—of his next move.

Andrade’s makeshift title fight came with considerable fanfare. Part of it had to do with the aggressive promotional effort put forth by Hearn, but with the DAZN event picking up major profile following the mid-week announcement of World middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez signing a record-breaking 11-fight, $365 million deal with the streaming platform.

The move meant a clearer path to a future career-altering payday for Andrade, not to mention the possibility of a 2019 showdown with the winner of next Saturday’s bout between Daniel Jacobs (also promoted by Hearn) and Sergey Derevyachenko.

With so much movement in the middleweight division just in this last part of October alone, any boxer at the weight would be best served to stand out from the pack if he wants to dominate the headlines rather than just be another part of the story.

Andrade had that golden opportunity the moment he realized his late replacement opponent was in well over his head. Yet in a fight where he scored a shutout and won a title, he still couldn’t even win the story of the best middleweight performance of the night.

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Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ Results: Brant Spoils Murata’s US Debut


By: Michael Kane

Not many people gave Rob Brant much of a chance going into his WBA Middleweight title match against champion Ryota Murata. However Brant left the ring as the new champion.

Brant (24-1, 16 KO’s) showed he meant business right from the start, throwing punches, on the front foot. Murata (14-2, 11 KO’s) smiled through out the first round, as if bemused by Brant’s fast start, possibly expecting Brant to slow down.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

Brant continued the fast pace until the 4th round when Murata started to land some heavy body shots, this led to a 5th round in which the Japanese Olympic gold medallist sensed he was gaining the upper hand and was throwing more punches however Brant weathered the storm and ended the round landing several right hands.

Murata had the power however Brant was landing frequently. Brant had now slowed down from his fast paced earlier rounds but was still appearing busier than Murata and landing point scoring shots.

As the championship rounds came, Murata sensed he had to up his game but Brant had his second wind and landed a couple of good right hands in the final round that appeared to hurt Murata.

The judges all scored the bout in favour of Brant, 118-110, 119-109, 119-109.

The statistics showed Brant threw 1262 punches, landing 356 compares to Murata throwing 764 and landing 180.

“This is one of the best moments of my life,” Brant said in the press conference afterwards. “I wasn’t thinking about punch output. I was thinking about winning.”

“This was a great middleweight championship fight,” said Top Rank CEO Bob Arun. “Both fighters showed tremendous heart. Congratulations to the new champion. He deserved the win.”

Top Rank are putting a brave face on this defeat for Murata as they had big plans for him, with a fight against GGG or Canelo Alvarez rumoured to be on the horizon. However Brant remains undefeated in the middleweight division, his only defeat coming at super middleweight.

Also on the card at Park Theatre at Park MGM in Las Vegas was Maxim Dadashev defending his NABF super lightweight title against former world champion Antonio DeMarco.

DeMarco (33-7-1, 24 KO’s) showed his champion credentials as he stunned Dadashev (12-0, 10 KO’s) on several occasions throughout the fight. Dadashev had enough about him to survive these scares and come through and retain his belt. Dadashev won the last three rounds to secure the win.

The scorecard was 96-94, 97-93, 98-92.

The bout was a good learning experience for Dadashev, which he said so in the press conference.

“This was a great learning experience for me. DeMarco is a true champion and he thought with great heart and determination.”

Highly rated Irishman, Michael Conlan made his Vegas debut on the card against Italian Nicola Cipolletta, who was making his American debut.

Conlan pressured from the start, with Cipolletta on the defensive through out. Conlan landed several good shots to the body and head in the 7th which forced the referee to stop the fight.

Conlan moves on to 9-0 and is due back in the ring on the undercard of Josh Warrington v Carl Frampton bout in Manchester, England on December 22nd.

“When you fight a guy who is negative and trying to survive, those guys are the hardest guys to look good against,” Conlan said. “He was just negative. Now I want real opponents. I want top 10, top 15 opponents. These are the guys who are going to make me look good. These are the guys who are going to bring out the best of my technical ability. When you see guys trying to survive, it’s a lot easier to survive than fight it out.”

Other Results:
Middleweight: Esquiva Cacao (22-0, 15 KO’s) defeated Guido Porto (25-6-2, 8 KO’s) by unanimous decision 100-90 x3.

Lightweight: Joseph Adorno (10-0, 9 KO’s) defeated Kevin Cruz (8-1, 5 KO’s) by unanimous decision over 6 rounds, 59-53, 59-53, 58-54.

Super Lightweight: Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (6-0, 3 KO’s) won by 2nd rd TKO against Wilberth Lopez (23-10, 15 KO’s).

Featherweight: Vladimir Nikitin (2-0, 0 KO) won by unanimous decision over 6 rounds against Clay Burns (5-5-2, 4 KO’s). 59-55 x3.

Featherweight: Adam Lopez (11-1, 5 KO’s) defeated Hector Ambriz (12-8-2, 6 KO’s) by 8th round TKO.

Middleweight: David Kaminsky (3-0, 2 KO’s) won by 2nd round TKO against Noah LaCoste (2-1, 2 KO’s).

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