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Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Preview: Hooker vs. Saucedo


By: Michael Kane

Home town fighter Alex Saucedo is challenging champion Maurice Hooker for the WBO Super Lightweight title at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma on Friday 16th November.

This will be Hooker’s (24-0-3, 16 KOs) first defence of the belt he won back in June when he beat Terry Flanagan in Manchester, England. The Texan it seems doesn’t mind travelling to his opponents back yard.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

Saucedo (28-0, 18 KOs) is looking to emulate Sean O’Grady, by becoming Oklahoma’s second world champion. Its been a long wait, 1981 was the year O’Grady won the WBA Lightweight title. Saucedo last fought in June, when he stopped Leonardo Zappavigna in a fight of the year candidate.

Both boxers used to spar and train together when they were younger so should know plenty about each other.

“We both were young back then. We got better. I got better. He’s better. I just got a little more better than him. It’s going to be a good fight come Friday. I’m here in Oklahoma. I don’t care where I fight. It’s on.” Hooker said when asked about their past history at the press conference.

Hooker is unfazed fighting in Oklahoma, “l’ll fight anywhere. Outside your house, in front of your house, in the ring, on the sidewalk. I don’t care where I fight as long as I fight. I’m a fighter. I love to fight. I can outbox him. I can fight you on the inside. Come Friday, we’re going to see a good fight.”

Saucedo is dreaming of becoming the 2nd world champion from Oklahoma. He said, “I grew up just around the corner I always had the dream to bring championship fights back to Oklahoma, and now its here. I’m not going to let this opportunity go. I’m ready. We prepared ourselves in Big Bear for a very good fight. Like I’ve said, I’m ready for anything Maurice brings that night. I’m going to take that belt from him.”

When asked about his fight with Zappavigna, Saucedo replied, “It was a very tough fight. Everyone enjoyed it. I’m glad we’re here at this fight now. That fight got me to this point. Like I said, I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Also on the card, Californian based Lithuanian Egidijus Kavaliauskas defends his NABF welterweight tiltle against Nicaraguan Roberto Arriaza (17-0, 13 KOs).

Kavaliauskas (20-0, 16 KOs) won the NABF belt Mahonry Montes in September last year and has went on to successfully defend it twice.

Arriaza last fought in May and recorded a unanimous decision win over Juan Ruiz. Arriaza won the WBO Inter-continental title in March when he KO’d Sammy Valentin in the first round.

Press Conference quotes:

Egidijus Kavaliauskas

“Every fight for me is a step toward my dream. My dream is to become a world champion, so every fight for me, I’m bringing 100 percent of me because it’s a step. A big step. This fight is the same.”

“Big respect to Roberto. He’s a very good fighter. He and I have a similar style, so I know it will be a great fight.”

Roberto Arriaza

“I think this is a great opportunity. This is the opportunity of my life. I want to thank everyone involved for giving me this opportunity. I’ve been working hard for this.”

“I know he’s a great fighter. I have a lot of respect for him. Like always, I have a lot of faith, and in the name of God, I’m going to be victorious once again.”

Bob Arum

“It’s great to be back in Oklahoma City. It’s our second time here this year. {Sean O’Grady} is the pride of Oklahoma City. I never promoted Sean here, but he won the title from Hilmer Kenty of the Kronk group in Atlantic City, the {WBA} lightweight championship.”

Sean O’Grady

“I’ve kept my eye on Alex Saucedo since he was about 12 years old. And I can tell you right now, the kid can fight. He grew up in the amateurs. He was a great little fighter, even as a young man. At 12, 13, 14 years old, he was a great little fighter.”

“I like Maurice Hooker. He too has a great background in the sport of boxing. This is going to be a terrific matchup.”

ESPN, Midnight ET

Maurice Hooker (champion) vs. Alex Saucedo (challenger), 12 rounds, WBO junior welterweight world title

ESPN+, 6:30 p.m. ET

Egidijus Kavaliauskas vs. Roberto Arriaza, 10 rounds, Kavaliauskas’ NABF welterweight title

Cletus Seldin vs. Nelson Lara, 10 rounds, super lightweight

Jonathan Guzman vs. Roberto Castaneda, 10 rounds, super bantamweight

Albert Bell vs. Carlos Padilla, 8 rounds, lightweight

Trevor McCumby vs. Felipe Romero, 8 rounds, light heavyweight

Tyler Howard vs. Isiah Seldon, 8 rounds, middleweight

Aaron Morales vs. Francisco Lapizco, 6 rounds, bantamweight

Rasheen Brown vs. Sebastian Baltazar, 4 rounds, super bantamweight

Paul Kroll vs. Travis Conley, 4 rounds, super welterweight

John Rincon vs. Emanuel Williams, 4 rounds, lightweight

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Top Rank Boxing Results: Berchelt Steamrolls Over Roman


By: Sean Crose

The Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas hosted an evening of Top Rank Promotion’s boxing on Saturday, featuring WBC superfeatherweight champ Miguel Berchelt. The 34-1 titlist put his strap on the line against the popular and hardened vet Miguel Roman, 60-13, in a scheduled twelve round affair. In a fight that was expected to excite audiences, the main even certainly lived up to it’s billing. Although one sided, Berchelt-Roman certainly had its’ share of notable moments. Berchelt may have emerged victorious, but his grizzled opponent showed a ton of heart and refused to go out without battling until the final second of the match.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

Things began with Berchelt being the more active of the two in round one, peppering his man with straight one-two combinations. Roman came on in the second, rocking the champion and perhaps setting the high intensity tone of the rest of the matchup. Berchelt’s power, it the moment at least, didn’t seem up to par with Roman’s. If things were entertaining in the second, they became absolutely explosive in the third, as Berchelt’s power rose to the occasion and Roman found himself wobbling about the ring. Amazingly, the challenger ended the round on his feet.

Berchelt went on to dominate rounds four and five, yet Roman continued to show great heart. In the sixth, Berchelt sent his man to the canvas. Roman got up, then got sent down again before the bell. Once more, however, Roman survived the round. The seventh through ninth rounds saw Roman continue to be dominated. Yet even in the ninth, the challenger was still coming forward. He wouldn’t make it to the tenth. For Berchelt put Roman back on the mat again before sealing the deal with a blistering combination. At that point, the referee wisely stepped in and halted the proceedings.

Earlier in the night, the 26-3 Miguel Marriaga faced the 20-14-1 Jose Estrella in a scheduled ten round featherweight affair. Marriaga showed a sharp jab in the first. The second round was close, with Estrella controlling the speed and tempo. Things quickly took a turn, though. In the third, Marriaga sent his man down. Estrella got up, but in the fourth he was sent down and out with a piercing body shot. It was Marriaga’s second win in a row since losing to Vasyl Lomachenko via stoppage in 2017. The entire card was aired live on ESPN+, ESPNs streaming service.

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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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Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ Preview: Miguel Berchelt vs. Miguel “Mickey” Roman


By: William Holmes

On Saturday night the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas will be the host site for Top Rank Promotions latest offering on the streaming network, ESPN+.

WBC Junior Lightweight Champion Miguel Berchelt will defend his title against Miguel “Mickey” Roman in a fight that most think will be an action packed bout.

The co-main event of the evening will be between Miguel Marriaga and Jose Estrella in the featherweight division.

Other boxers on the undercard include Saul Rodriguez, Robson Conceicao, Sagadat Rakhmankul, Jose Estrella, Claudio Tapia, Joey Laviolette, and Vaughn Alexander.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

The following is a preview of the main event of the evening.

Miguel Berchelt (34-1) vs. Miguel Roman (60-12) WBC Super Featherweight Title

Allegedly, this is a fight that’s been wanted by both fighters for a very long time. At an earlier pres conference, Berchelt told the media,” Roman and I have wanted this fight for a very, very long time. He asked for this opportunity, and I am happy to give it to him. This is going to be a great fight, but I know it will end with my hands raised. I am young and hungry. It doesn’t matter that we’re fighting in his backyard. El Paso and Juarez are going to be my towns when it’s over.”

However, Mickey Roman feels comfortable since the fight is taking place near his home town. Roman told the media, “He’s talking all of this stuff, that he’s going to take my head off and things like that. El paso is my town. If he thinks he’s going to come in here and be talking like that, he’s got another thing coming.”

Berchelt should be considered by many to be a strong favorite. He only has one loss while Roman has twelve, and he’s six years younger than Roman. He will also have about a two inch height advantage and about a four and a half inch reach advantage.

Both boxers have good power. Berchelt has stopped thirty of his opponents while Roman has stopped forty seven. Berchelt has been stopped once early in his career while Roman has only been stopped twice.

Berchelt and Roman are both pretty active. Roman already has over 72 professional fights. He fought twice in 2018, three times in 2017, and three times in 2016. Berchelt fought twice in 2018, twice in 2017, and twice in 2016.

Berchelt has an edge in amateur experience. He’s a three time Mexican National Boxing Champion in the elite category while Roman doesn’t have any notable amateur accomplishments.

Berchelt lone loss was to Luis Eduardo Florez. He has defeated the likes of Jonathan Victor Barros, Maxwell Awuku, Takashi Miura, Francisco Vargas, Suriya Tatakhun, and Rene Gonzalez.

Roman has defeated the likes of Michel Marcano, Orlando Salido, Nery Saguilan, Juli Giner, and Daniel Ponce DeLeon. His wins against Orlando Salido and Daniel Ponce DeLeon are his most impressive and occurred recently.

However, Roman has a history of losing when he steps up in competition, and he does have a large number of losses. He has losses to Genaro Garcia, Jorge Solis, Miguel Beltran Jr., Antonio Escalante, Jonathan Victor Barros, Javier Fortuna, Antonio DeMarco, Dante Jardon (lost the rematch), and Takashi Miura.

Roman is a dangerous opponent for Berchelt in that he’s an experience rugged fighter who has already been in the ring with some of the best. But Berchelt is a top rated prospects with a high ceiling, and he’ll have a significant size advantage and age advantage on Saturday night.

This fight will feature some fireworks, but at the end Berchelt will likely be holding his hand up high.

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Media Workout Quotes: Lomachenko Prepares for Pedraza in Oxnard


WBA lightweight world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko was at home at the Boxing Laboratory as he prepared for his next challenge. Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs), who has won world titles in three weight classes in just 12 pro fights, will seek to unify titles for the first time as a pro when he takes on WBO champion Jose Pedraza (25-1, 12 KOs), Dec. 8 at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden (ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 9 p.m. ET).

Lomachenko worked out for the media Tuesday, showing off his assortment of training tricks. This is what the pound-for-pound great had to say.


Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

On the Pedraza fight

“I had a long rest {following shoulder surgery}. I am looking forward to seeing how I feel and taking on a tough opponent like Pedraza. I haven’t had much time to watch his fights.”

On potentially unifying the titles

“I can’t wait. After this fight, a lot of doors will be open. Title unification fights are good for the sport of boxing.”

On future opponents

“I love challenges. That’s what motivates me. I want all the top fighters. I’m open to anyone.”

On the Jorge Linares fight

“It was the first time I was knocked down as a pro. After the knockdown, I came back and finished the fight. It was a tough fight, but I showed the heart of a champion.”

On whether he’ll remain at lightweight

“I believe I’ll stay at 135 and focus on 135 because when I fought against Linares, I felt like he was bigger than me. So I’ll stay at 135 because I think 135 is not my {ideal} weight category right now. After one or two years, it will be my {ideal} weight.”

On a Mikey Garcia fight

“I hope {it will happen}. We can see in the future because my next fight is against Pedraza. After Pedraza, we can talk about fighting Mikey.”

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Madison Square Garden, tickets for Lomachenko-Pedraza are on sale now. Priced at $506, $356, $206, $106, and $56, tickets can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge by phone (866-858-0008), and online at ticketmaster.com and MSG.com.

Lomachenko-Pedraza will headline a special edition of Top Rank on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET, which will follow the 84th Annual Heisman Memorial Trophy Presentation.

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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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Top Rank on ESPN Preview: Ryoto Murata vs. Rob Brant


By: Michael Kane

Ryoto Murata, makes his second defence of his WBA Middleweight title against American Rob Brant at the MGM’s Park Theatre, Las Vegas, Saturday 20th October.

Murata (14-1, 11 KO’s) won the middleweight crown after winning a rematch against Hassan N’Dam Jikam winning by TKO in round seven in October 2017.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

This rematch came about after they both fought for the vacant title and Jikam won a controversial split decision, when most thought Murata had won.

Murata defended his belt for the first time in April against Italian Emanuele Blandamura winning by 8th round TKO.

During the press conference, Murata was asked about facing GGG or Canelo and replied, “Everything will happen after the result of this fight, so I’m not thinking ahead. I am looking forward to getting the victory on Saturday.

“I had a great training camp, and I am going to put everything out in the ring that I trained with. I am very prepared and very confident.

“I am very thankful for this opportunity, especially to Bob Arun and everyone at Top Rank and the team over at Teiken Promotions.”

Brant (23-1, 16 KO’s) has won the WBA-NABA Middleweight title and WBC Continental Americas Middleweight title while he was on a 21 fight win streak.

Brant entered the first season of World Boxing Super Series where he faced German Juergen Braehmer in the Super Middleweight division Brant suffered his first and only defeat losing by unanimous decision.

Brant returned to middleweight and defeated Colby Courter by 1st round KO in March and feels confident ahead of his fight against the Japanese superstar.

“We knew that Murata would be the challenge of a lifetime being an Olympic gold medalist as well as being a world champion. I knew I’d have to be here early working with (trainer) Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. We’re training specifically for Murata. I feel good. I feel confident.”

When asked about moving back to 160 after competing at 168 briefly, Brant said, “I feel like this is my natural weight. I feel a lot better at 160 pounds. I did my entire amateur career at 178 pounds at light heavyweight. Then I decided I had to lay off the McDonald’s a little bit and actually train. My body is actually very comfortable at 160, and that’s where I am going to stay at. And it’s where I am going to win my titles

In the co feature bout Maxim “Mad Max” Dadashev defends his NABF Super Lightweight belt against former world champion Antonio DeMarco.

Dadashev (11-0, 10 KO’s) won the belt in his last outing against Darleys Perez in June by TKO in the 10th round.

The 28 year old Russian takes on a veteran in DeMarco (33-6-1 24 KO’s), the Mexican has won his last two fights having lost beforehand 3 in a row including losing his title to Jessie Vargas back in 2014.

Dadashev said at the press conference, “My opponent is a former WBC champion. Of course, he has really good experience and is a smart fighter. That’s it. But I’m also strong.

“I am working hard in the gym and am prepared for this fight. I had a good camp and (would like to fight for a world totle) as soon as possible.”

DeMarco has his eyes on becoming a world champion again.

“I’ve been through this before and I’ve seen this before. It’s truly a pleasure to be here.

“I want to thank Maxim and his management team for taking this fight. I feel good about it. I’m at peace. I’m very comfortable, and I want to become a world champion again.”

Also on the card is popular Irishman, Michael Conlan who makes his Las Vegas debut. Conlan has been on a bit of a tour since turning pro with Top Rank, with fights in New York, Belfast and Australia.

Conlan headlined a show in his home city, Belfast last time out and won comfortably against Adeilson Dos Santos winning by unanimous decision. Conlan takes on Italian Nicola Cipolletta in the featherweight division.

Conlan is looking forward to his Vegas debut.

“It’s my fourth fight of the year, and I plan to have another one after this. It’s a pleasure to be here in Las Vegas. It’s my first time fighting in probably the fight capital of the world at the minute.”

Conlan on his trainer Adam Booth.

“It’s been fantastic with Adam. I think now the pen has finally dropped. Everything seems to be falling into place. I know fighters say it all the time, and I get sick of hearing it myself, but it’s definitely the best training camp I’ve had. I feel like I’m becoming more of a complete fighter, and that’s what I want to show on Saturday night. I want to show how advanced my style is now.”

Conlan, who lost controversially as an amateur in the Olympics is looking to face his old for Vladimir Nikitin who also appears on the card.

Conlan said, “It would be fantastic to face Vladimir in the professional ranks. I have no ill feelings towards Vladimir. I know it wasn’t his fault, but revenge is something that I want. I have no anger towards him, but I will {fight} him with enjoyment, and I do believe I’ll get the victory when we face each other.”

The event will be streamed live on ESPN+ in the U.S and Boxnation in the UK.

ESPN+, 10:30 p.m. ET

Ryota Murata vs. Rob Brant, 12 rounds, WBA Middleweight World Championship

Maxim Dadshev vs. Antonio DeMarco, 10 rounds, NABF Super Lightweight Title

ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET

Esquiva Falcao vs. Guido Pitto, 10 rounds, Middleweight

Michael Conlan vs. Nicola Cipolletta, 8 rounds, Featherweight

Fazliddin Gaibnazarov vs. Wilberth Lopez , 8 rounds, Super Lightweight

Adam Lopez vs. Hector Ambriz, 8 rounds, Featherweight

Joseph Adorno vs. Kevin Cruz, 6 rounds, Lightweight

Vladimir Nikitin vs. Clay Burns, 6 rounds, Featherweight

David Kaminsky vs. Noah LaCoste, 4 rounds, Middleweight

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ESPN+ Boxing Preview: Yarde vs. Sequeira, Garton vs. Corcoran


By: Oliver McManus

This weekend sees Frank Warren promoting at the Brentwood Centre, live on BT Sport and streamed on ESPN+, with, his highly-touted light-heavyweight, Anthony Yarde defending his WBO Inter-Continental belt against Walter Gabriel Sequeira; Johnny Garton and Gary Corcoran face off for the vacant British Welterweight belt; and imposing prospects Umar Sadiq and Zak Chelli put their unbeaten records on the line at an early stage of their career.

Anthony Yarde looks to move 17 and 0 against an opponent who, truth be told, is underwhelming and whilst it’s understood that Sean Monaghan was initially touted for the bout, the calibre of Sequeira fails to impress.


Photo Credit: Anthony Yarde Twitter Account

Ranked number two by the World Boxing Organization, Anthony Yarde has dealt with his 16 previous opponents in convincing fashion and the widely held frustration of the reluctance to progress him faster seems to be holding him back from truly being appreciated.

The muscular stature of the Hackney-born fighter is imposing with the tattooed physique of Yarde looking bulky, even for the 175lb division, and the speed and power in his hands mark him out as a real threat throughout the duration of his bouts; the first man to stop Nikola Sjekloca and a merciless number over, vastly-underrated, Chris Hobbs are a testament to Yarde’s ability to turn up the heat.

Since that win over Sjekloca, back in December, that heat has cooled ever so slightly with Joshua Buatsi catching the eye of the British public with his consistently explosive performances and Yarde’s performances against Dariusz Sek and Tony Averlant this year seeing him look less energetic than we have become accustomed too.

A man of ferocious talent with anger in his hands, Anthony Yarde has all the assets to reach the top and it’s just a matter of WHEN we see him get that opportunity to showcase his skills; Walter Sequeira will not be that man that allows Yarde to really cement his authority as a player on the global stage – the Argentine national champion has fought once away from his home country, in his 25 professional contests, and lost convincingly to Avni Yilidrim in doing so.

Expect this to be a convincing display from Anthony Yarde and, if it’s not, I’d start to get a little worried.

Johnny Garton, 22-1-1, and Gary Corcoran, 18-2, will be facing off against each other for the vacant British welterweight title – relinquished by Bradley Skeete earlier this year – in what promises to be an enthralling encounter.

For Garton, now aged 31, the title shot has been a long-time with Skeete – close friend and gym mate – having the belt since the turn of 2016 but ‘The Pexican’ has more than earned his crack at the strap having pieced together an impressive CV over the past few years.

Having turned pro in 2011, Garton claimed the vacant Southern Area welterweight belt in 2014 with an 8th round knockout over Adam Battle and since then has overcame plenty of domestic challengers – Nathan Weise, Martin Welsh, Ryan Fields and Tyler Goodjohn – as he added the English title to his name.

Late last year the Peckham-man registered an explosive performance to dispatch with Mihail Orlov in the 10th round of their contest for the IBF European title. Garton made hard work of his opponent and didn’t look as fluid as we know he can but, typically, when he gets into a fight it is easy pickings with Garton working through the motions and piecing together his shots nicely.

Corcoran, on the other hand, will be in his second fight since losing out to Jeff Horn, for the WBO world title, in December last year and Hellraiser goes into the contest off the back of a 5th round TKO win in June.

A second crack at a British belt for Corcoran, who’s previously lost out to Liam Williams for the super welterweight strap, he’s likely to approach it as he does every other fight of his career with a brash, fast-paced, attacking nature.

Known for his fast starts, Corcoran will seek to catch Johnny of guard early doors and impose his own rhythm on his contest; in all honesty this has the hallmarks of a fire fight and both men will probably engage from the centre of the ring – a style particularly suited to Corcoran.

Perhaps the most fitting testament of Corcoran’s ability to mix it at a high level with a mixture of both technique and slug-fest guts is his split decision win against Larry Ekundayo, in July of last year, in a performance that gained the plaudits from all corners of the boxing community – if he brings that level of performance into the ring on Saturday then we’ll be in for a thrilling contest.

Moving onto the clash of the unbeaten super-middleweights as Umar ‘Top Boxer’ Sadiq looks to settle a rivalry against Zak Chelli that has been quietly bubbling under the surface for the past few months.

Possibly the classiest man both inside and outside of the ring, Umar Sadiq has already attracted a huge fan base thanks to his impressive performances and innovative use of social media.
What really matters is his ability in the ring and having come from a strong amateur background he already looks at ease, moving through the motions quickly, and stamping his authority over his three opponents thus far.

Back in June Umar looked at his most complete, yet, with a masterful control of the fight tempo, insightful shot select before unfurling a vicious left hook into the body of Kamil Al Temimi to send the Polish fighter crumpling to the canvas with consummate ease.

Arguably the most terrifying thing about Sadiq is that he’s not even looked out of breath upon the conclusion of his three professional fights – I know they’ve only been four and six rounders, thus far, but it bodes well for the big bouts.

And this is the first real “big” bout of Umar’s career – and, for that matter, Zak’s – because this is going to stand as the acid test for who is the real deal and Chelli, whose father was also a fighter, is supremely confident in his ability to be “Warren’s number one super-middleweight”.

Hand-speed is his biggest asset with a frightening aggression and killer instinct, once he locks onto a target then shots will rain down on his counterpart in an explosive flurry. It’s easy to make comparisons with Chris Eubank Jr because of that style of fighting and Chelli is used to sparring with the Brighton man and that’s where he says he’s doing most of his development –

“When it comes to sparring I find it quite easy to transfer the skills into a fight performance, what I learn on the pads I put to practice in the ring and I treat sparring as a fight so it’s the same, for me”

“I can tell where I’m getting better, when I first started I was rushing things and trying to prove stuff but I learned from Adam Jones that, actually, you don’t need to go chasing knockouts all the time, believe in your ability and the performance will materialize. At the start I was trying to force the knockout but I’m definitely more relaxed now.”

Despite being just 20 years of age, Chelli is freakishly mature in the way he speaks and handles himself out of the ring but equally he’s begun to mature in it, too, as he himself admits he is far less likely to rush out of the gate than when he first started and Sadiq, well he’s Umar Sadiq, he’s silky smooth in whatever he does. This is going to be a great fight – fight of the night, you heard it here first!

October 20th at the Brentwood Centre, Frank Warren showcases some sensational talent and as the Hall-of-Fame promoter himself would say, “IT’S ON!”… BT Sport and ESPN+.

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Crawford Won’t Get Spence Until……


By Rich Mancuso

The boxing fan deserve this fight as do Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.. This is asking the improbable with these obstacles of duel promotions and televised streaming rights. However a fight of this magnitude to unify portions of the welterweight titles and determine the pound-for-pound best is bound to happen.

Because it’s boxing, and the promotional fight has picked up a bit, they have to come to an agreement. Or do they?

But for this to happen there also needs to be unity with the respective promoters and of course the personnel who would be involved with networks and rights to televise this potential mega fight.


Photo Credit: Terence Crawford Twitter Account

And with boxing, a fight like this can be done. Then again it becomes a waiting game of back-and-forth and someone giving in with a late punch in the final round. With Top Rank and the PBC, obviously the main principals to deliver this also falls into the lines of boxing politics.

Boxing politics has never stopped Bob Arum and Top Rank from delivering. When the back-and-forth of politics concludes the fight is delivered. It has to be done and will be because Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. is as huge as Mayweather and Pacquiao was.

Perhaps this is bigger in magnitude because they are two champions, one with Top Rank and the other with the PBC, champions in the welterweight division. This elite division of welterweights that also generates the revenue and interest for boxing is shown in the ratings.

An this past Saturday, Terence Crawford, who could be the top pound-for-pound fighter in the business and Jose Benavidez Jr. established the highest rating boxing telecast on Broadcast and Cable television this year.

So now, it is time to deliver a fight that boxing needs. A fight that the boxing fan will demand. Delivering this fight, according to sources, and that back-and forth talk has commenced.

Moments after Crawford disposed Jose Benavidez Jr. in the final round Saturday night, his first defense of the WBO Welterweight title, Bob Arum was asked the questions. The fight boxing needs will have to wait but how long will it be?

Arum does have the leverage here because Crawford delivers the numbers for ESPN and the Hall of Fame promoter has the platform. Spence Jr. also has the numbers with Showtime and the PBC has that history of also delivering the numbers for the network seen in previous fights Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter opposing Danny Garcia for the Welterweight title.

In line with all of this, Tuesday Bob Arum made his pitch. Showtime, he said will soon be out of boxing just like HBO.

“So I’m predicting also that within the next year Showtime will be exiting from boxing because as great as they’ve been for boxing, they don’t belong,” he said. This was possibly the beginning of a bargaining point of view because Showtime is committed to continue their involvement with boxing, and the PBC continues to thrive with all the rumors to the contrary.

Arum is known to make some outrageous statements. This one, and only because he said Showtime is throwing more money into programming, does offer a line of truth. For the past few years it was HBO that lost the roster of fighters that put the network on top. But putting more of their budget into popular programs did boxing in for the network.

This is the Haves and Have Not of boxing. However, with Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. in the picture, it is about having the best fight for the boxing fan. Showtime and the PBC are moving along and so is Bob Arum and his deal with ESPN.

Just a matter of time and the fight will happen. Arum, in the meantime will go back-and-forth but is looking at other opponents for his champion. Similar to Mayweather and Pacquiao and how long it took, at some point next year this fight will be a reality.

And because this is boxing, it only works this way.

Comment: [email protected] [email protected] Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

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Crawford-Benavidez Jr. ESPN-Headlined Telecast Most Watched Boxing Event of 2018


By Jake Donovan

While critics of unbeaten pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford continue to demand better opposition, his fans continue to relish his every move in the ring.

Apparently, both sides are tuning in whenever he fights.

Crawford’s latest in-ring conquest—a 12th round stoppage of previously unbeaten Jose Benavidez Jr. last Saturday—produced a massive ratings win for ESPN, with the two-hour broadcast as a whole averaging 2.245 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

The event—which aired live in front of a sold out crowd of more than 13,300 at CHI Health Center in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska—produced the second-most watched telecast of Top Rank’s boxing series on ESPN since returning to the network last July. Its debut—Jeff Horn’s controversial upset win over Manny Pacquiao—is the only show to outperform Saturday’s edition.

Even more impressive was the fact that it came on a crowded sports night that saw college football on ABC—a primetime matchup between Top 15 teams Wisconsin and Michigan (6.038 million viewers)—improve by more than 150% over the same slotted event one year ago. Crawford-Benavidez Jr. also competed against live coverage of Major League Baseball playoffs, which at 5.821 million viewers was within 10% of its lofty rating exactly 52 weeks ago.

The positioning of Saturday’s main event came with a strong college football lead-in of its own. Top-rated and defending champion Alabama’s rout of Missouri drew 3.758 million viewers in a game that ended early enough for ESPN to enjoy a rare on-time start for a primetime boxing event.

For Crawford, it’s more than a 230% increase from his previous ESPN primetime appearance, ironically in a far more significant bout. The undefeated switch hitter’s 3rd round knockout of Julius Indongo last August—which made him the first-ever four-belt champion in the history of the super lightweight division—averaged 965,000 viewers over the course of the telecast, with the bout itself averaging nearly 1.3 million viewers.

Specific ratings for each of Saturday’s two-bout telecast were not immediately available. The show also featured unbeaten featherweight Shakur Stevenson—a 2016 U.S. Olympian who earned the silver medal in the Rio Olympics—in a career-best 1st round knockout of Viorel Simion, who’d previously never been dropped or stopped.

According to an ESPN press release over the weekend, overnight ratings landed both legs of the doubleheader as the most watched boxing bouts of 2018. Crawford-Benavidez pulled in a healthy 1.8 overnight rating, slightly more than 80% above that of his pound-for-pound rival and promotional stablemate Vasyl Lomachenko, whose historic off-the-canvas knockout win over Jorge Linares this past May pulled a 1.0 overnight and just over 1 million viewers overall.

Saturday’s win marked the first successful defense of the welterweight title for Crawford (34-0, 25KOs), who won the belt in a 9th round stoppage of Horn this past June. That bout aired exclusively on ESPN+, a decision mandated by the ESPN brass that never seemed to sit well with Crawford and his team.

Ever the soldier, Crawford accepted the terms and ran through Horn in collecting a major title in his third weight class. His run as undisputed super lightweight champion was preceded by a 2014 Fighter of the Year-level campaign that bookended his stay as lightweight champion before moving up in weight.

The first defense of his welterweight title came with harsh pre-fight criticism, and for good reason. The 147-pound division is overflowing with top level talent, but Top Rank’s desire to keep the title defense in-house saw Crawford as high as a 33-1 favorite over Benavidez, a gifted amateur back in his day but who has managed to squander any positive momentum in the pro ranks.

Still, the previously unbeaten boxer from Phoenix, Ariz.—who held an interim title at 140 pounds—was praised for his brave return to the sport after being shot in his left leg in 2016. The 26-year old—whose younger brother David is a currently unbeaten super middleweight titlist—made his comeback earlier this year, a pre-Super Bowl event on ESPN in Corpus Christi, Texas for which Crawford was in attendance. Benavidez Jr. planted the seeds for a budding rivalry, getting into a heated exchange with Crawford and continuing the verbal onslaught throughout the year.

Benavidez Jr. appeared on the undercard of Crawford’s aforementioned win over Horn in Las Vegas this past June, scoring an 84-second knockout of previously unbeaten Frank Rojas. From there, the trash talk only increased, reaching a boiling point when the two landed in a brief violent eruption during Friday’s weigh-in.

To his credit, Benavidez Jr. gave a decent account of himself at least through the first half of Saturday’s main event, but was limited to taunting and absorbing over the final six rounds. Crawford finally decked his heated rival in the final minute of the fight, with an ensuing onslaught prompting referee Celestino Ruiz to stop the contest with just 18 seconds left.

The end result sparked a boisterous response from the partisan crowd on hand, which served as the largest attendance for any of Crawford’s five main events in this building and six overall title fights in his home state of Nebraska.

A hard-line stance is being taken by media members for Crawford’s 2019 campaign to include a mouthwatering showdown with fellow unbeaten welterweight titlist Errol Spence. Momentum for such a fight will only continue to build—much like Crawford’s fan base, as evidenced the numbers produced at the box office and in the ratings this past weekend.

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Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Results: Crawford and Stevenson Deliver Scintillating Knockouts


By: William Holmes

The CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska, the hometown of welterweight champion Terence Crawford, was the host cite for tonight’s Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card.

The main event of the night was between Terrance Crawford (33-0) and Jose Benavidez Jr. (27-0) for the WBO Welterweight Title.

But before the main event, undefeated former Olympian Shakur Stevenson (8-0) met Viorel Simion (21-2) in the junior lightweight division.

Stevenson, a southpaw, used a steady jab early in the first and was able to find his range early with his check right hook. Stevenson landed a crisp two punch combination that sent Simion down to the mat in the first half of the round. Simion got back to his feet but on wobbly legs, and Stevenson landed another combination on Simion who fell face forward again.

Simion got back to his feet again and had to try and withstand an onslaught from Stevenson. Stevenson landed another hard combination that ended with a hard left hook that sent Simion spinning to the ground again.

Simion arose on wobbly legs, and the referee waived off the fight as the round came to an end.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Twitter Account

Shakur Stevenson wins by TKO at 3:00 of the opening round.

Terence Crawford and Jose Benavidez Jr. were involved in a scuffle at the previous night’s weigh ins, and appeared to have some legitimate bad blood leading into the fight

Benavidez entered the ring first to a loud chorus of boos while Crawford had the support of the crowd behind him.

Both fighters came out in an orthodox stance with Benavidez finding some success early on walking Craword down behind his jab. Crawford switched to a southpaw stance before the end of the first.

Benavidez continued with his jab in the second round, but Crawford began to the target the body. Neither boxer took many risks in the second and could have been scored either way.

Crawford began to land his combination both to the body and head of Benavidez in the third round, but Benavidez’s straight right hand was finding it’s home in the fourth round and he briefly caught Crawford off balance as the round came to an end.

Crawford was landing from unique angles in the fifth but Benavidez was landing some stiff straight right hands in the sixth. Both of these rounds were close, though Benavidez looked like eh was beginning to tire.

Crawford had a strong seventh and eighth rounds as he was continuing to get hit less and less while landing at a progressively higher clip. Benavidez wasn’t able to come forward effectively and looked hampered by his right knee.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Twitter Account

Crawford looked like he was close to knocking Benavidez down in the ninth round and had Benavidez’s back to the ropes in the tenth. Benavidez attempted to lure Crawford into an exchange in the tenth and eleventh rounds with his back to the ropes, but when they did exchange Crawford looked like landed the better and more accurate punches.

Benavidez needed a knockout in the final round to win the bout and pressed forward in an attempt to finish the bout, but he got hit with a vicious right uppercut that sent him crashing to the mat in a violent fashion.

Benavidez somehow got back to his feet, but was hit with several hard combinations before the referee jumped in to stop the fight and award Crawford the TKO victory.

Terrance Crawford wins by TKO at 2:42 of the 12th round.

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Jose Benavidez Jr. Has No Intentions To Lose


By: Rich Mancuso

Jose Benavidez Jr. has seen adversity out of the ring and the challenge to take the WBO Welterweight title from Terence Crawford will not be easy. Perhaps to those that take rankings serious the top pound-for-pound fighter in the business is Terence Crawford.

Benavidez Jr. is focused on changing that thinking about Crawford. Top three fighter or number one, the challenger does not care. Saturday night at the CHI Health Center in Omaha Nebraska, regardless of rankings, Benavidez Jr. has no intentions of leaving Crawford’s hometown without the title.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Twitter Account

Bob Arum of Top Rank, the promoter with rights to Crawford, always says the best fights are being delivered to fans on the ESPN televised platform. There is no debate about what is being delivered here and this is one of those fights, and partly because Jose Benavidez presents the challenge.

There is the height and reach advantage of Benavidez. There is also the anticipation of Terence Crawford and facing the toughest challenge of his title reign in this elite division of welterweight champions.

Insiders at Top Rank, and when asked, well they are skeptical because they are aware that Benavidez Jr. will not be easy. Basically it has nothing to do with their champion. This is a fight that will present the biggest challenge to date for Terence Crawford.

“Now he has grown into a man,” Arum said about Benavidez Jr. The often troubled and talented fighter has grown with Top Rank and Arum took him in at the age of 16.

There have been ups and downs with a fighter that never looks for attention. But those at Top Rank knew about the troubled past and they took a chance. Saturday night two of the best will put their differences aside and for Top Rank it means good business. This fight will be the center of attention from all perspectives.

“Things happen in life, good and bad,” Benavidez Jr. said Thursday afternoon. “I don’t try to use that as an excuse or anything. I know what I have to do.”

A leg with stitches above his right knee, that still bothers him. He survived and fought back from a bullet wound two years ago and that incident is still not clear. The question is, will Jose Benavidez Jr. survive 12-rounds with Terence Crawford?

“The leg, I block it out,” he said. “I just focus 110 percent. I know what we have to do. We train to win, and that’s what I am going to keep doing.”

There is no talk about looking ahead. This is a determined and hungry fighter and just looking at Terence Crawford, though a win would change the scope of this welterweight division. In fact, Arum would not discuss the options for both fighters and the focus is all about Saturday night.

But there is that concern of animosity as Benavidez Jr. made this personal. There were harsh words exchanged the day before at final workouts, and of course there is that call for the challenge to Terence Crawford.

“I don’t think Crawford is as good as people say,” said Benavidez Jr. “He is decent and not great. I came here to knock him out in his hometown. He is in a bigger weight division now and we have a lot more firepower than we ever had.”

And the firepower was evident. Those in the gym, in and out of the Benavidez Jr. camp, they saw that aggression and power. It was something they have never seen from the undefeated challenger but in boxing believe what you hear because the fighter has to convince the believers in the ring.

Yes, Benavidez Jr. is undefeated, But the opponent is Terence Crawford who can also come with that firepower and slowly get what he wants.

“Terence is the best fighter in the world,” says Brian McIntyre the trainer and manager of Crawford. He also said about Benavidez Jr. “He came here to fight hard which is okay with us.”

So there was never that disrespect from Terence Crawford or his team. This is all about a championship and one of prestige with that welterweight division always the talk in boxing circles. But hearing words from Benavidez Jr. and you wonder is there respect on the other end?

Or is this another way to promote a fight that has caught the interest of many? Sounds like a confident fighter and with the aggression, but this all about a championship and determination to get it Saturday night.

“Everyone is sleeping and soon they’re going to wake up and I’m going to beat his ass Saturday night,” Benavidez Jr. said. The reality can be a win and more of the elite will be in line to unify the titles.

This has always been the goal for Jose Benavidez Jr. to be in the ring with the best and the opportunity awaits. That troubled past will always be there and all he has to do is look and feel the pain from that wound to the leg.

Now it is close to reality. One punch or a decision in his favor and the pain will briefly go away. The troubled past is personal but being a champion leads to more opportunity.

Comment: [email protected] [email protected] Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

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Unbeaten Former Olympian Lightweight Mikaela Mayer is a Boxer to Be Reckoned with in the Future


By: Ken Hissner

When I watched unbeaten 2016 Lightweight Olympian Mikaela Mayer in her most recent bout against Edna Kiss, 14-7(8), I knew she was a prospect to keep an eye on when she scored a stoppage at the end of the third round. I noticed Philadelphia’s Al Mitchel in her corner. I later found out that Kay Karoma was the co-trainer along with Mitchel and George Ruiz of Santa Monica, CA, her manager with all three since 2017. Ruiz is the CEO at Intelligent Arts & Artists.

This writer has written articles on women boxers and without a doubt super lightweight Lucia “The Dutch Destroyer” Rijker, 17-0 (14), of Amsterdam, Netherlands was the best I have ever seen. Super Middleweight Ann “Brown Sugar” Wolfe, 24-1 (16), of Waco, Texas, was another top female boxer.


Photo Credit: Mikaela Mayer Twitter Account

In viewing Mayer, now 7-0 (4), she had what seemed like such a long reach and a jab to stop you in your tracks. Earlier in her career she defeated tough and durable Nydia “Dha Phenomenal” Feliciano, then 9-8, out of the Bronx, NY, by a majority decision over 4 rounds at Madison Square Garden, in New York, in Mayer’s third fight. Two judges had it 40-36 and the other 38-38. “Mikaela is a rare combination of talent, determination and marketability. She’s going to be a household name soon,” said Ruiz.

Mayer started boxing at the age of 17 in kick boxing. Northern Michigan University coach Al Mitchel has worked with her for the past 10 years. Born in Woodland Hills, CA, Mayer lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where her co-trainer Kay Karoma. He works with boxers at the Olympic gym in Colorado Springs. The first six of Mayer’s fights have been at 131 ¼ or 131 ½. In her last bout she came in at 129½ against Kiss. She may stay at Super Featherweight having just turned 28 in July and is 5:09.

“I think it’s going to be a great fight and she is getting better and better with each fight. She has the height and can go up from super featherweight. We have a good team with coach Kay and the cut man is coach Manny Robles along with George Ruiz the manager,” said Mitchel.

Mayer will be on the undercard this Saturday on the WBO World Welterweight title defense of champion Terence “Bud” Crawford, 33-0 (24) against Jose Benavidez, Jr., 27-0 (18), at the CHI Health Center, Omaha, Nebraska, over ESPN.

In 2016 she represented the USA Olympic team at lightweight in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She defeated Jennifer Chieng representing the (FSM) Federated States of Micronesia by a score of 3-0. In the second round she lost to eventual Bronze Medalist Anastasia Beliakova, of Russia by a score of 2-0.

KEN HISSNER: Mikaela, did you start boxing or kick boxing when you started at age 17?

MIKAELA MAYER: I first walked into a Muay Thai kickboxing gym when I was 17.

KEN HISSNER: Who was your boxing trainer at the beginning?

MIKAELA MAYER: I competed in Muay Thai the first year and competed in ten smoker shows. After a year my trainer suggested I took some boxing fights to develop my hands. I never went back. My first trainer was Ricardo O’Kane who ran Mejero Gym in Canoga Park, CA. He was a Muay Thai cash so when I became serious about boxing I started looking in the other direction to better my skills. That’s when I ended up taking the boxing scholarship to NMU and meeting Al Mitchel.

KEN HISSNER: What was your record as an amateur?

MIKAELA MAYER: I couldn’t tell you my amateur record but I had about 135 fights.

KEN HISSNER: In order to make the Olympic team who did you fight in the Olympic Trials?

MIKAELA MAYER: Making the Olympic team at 132 in the US was a definite challenge because it has always been a very competitive weight. In the 2016 Olympic Trials I had 5 fights and had to fight against girls such as Amateur World Champion Tiara Brown and Youth World Champion and Youth Olympic Gold Medalist, Jajaira Gonzalez. It was a hell of a tournament and one of my greatest accomplishments. However winning the US Trials wasn’t the last step qualification for the games. I had to qualify internationally as well because only 12 countries per weight can qualify for boxing. I had 2 chances…I either had to win Gold at the 2016 Continental Games or place Top 4 in the World Championships. The Continental Games came first and I and I ended up beating Canada, Puerto Rico and then Mexico in the finals to secure my spot at the Rio Games. It’s funny because I didn’t grow up around boxing and I’m the first one in my family to pursue and show interest in it. Also when I started….this career was non-existent. Women were not allowed to compete in the Olympics yet and promoters didn’t sign women. There wasn’t really a boxer to emulate or a path to follow….what I wanted to do was different and hadn’t been done. But I have always been a fan of Lucia Rijker (who is an amazing human being as well as a fighter) and “Sugar” Ray Leonard.

KEN HISSNER: How did you get involved with Coach Al and Coach Kay?

MIKAELA MAYER: At 19 I had come off a few losses and unhappy with my training. My first trainer was a great guy but just didn’t have all the boxing experience to take me any further, and he knew it too. My dad had seen an ad on the USA Boxing website about a boxing scholarship to NMU where I could go to college and train with a 2x Olympic coach (Al Mitchell). I was still down from my losses so I just told my dad to go ahead and look into it. Two weeks later I was on a plane from L.A. to the frozen tundra of Marquette, Michigan. I had no idea what I was getting into. I showed up in a pink velour juicy suit and Ugg boots, haha. I froze my ass off for 4 years.

The funding for school was cut after just one year but I knew coach Al was going take me where I wanted to go. We just fell short of making the 2012 Olympic team but I continued to fly up and train with him in camps and eventually moved up there and got a place to train full time for 2016 trials. Coach Kay was the assistant coach for the 2016 games and resident coach at the Olympic training center when I turned pro, it all started to unfold so fast and within one month I was having to move out of the training center and get ready to have my first fight in 4 weeks. Kay knew me as a fighter so I asked him if he would help get me ready until coach Al would fly in. Coach Kay and Coach Al work great together. Coach Kay gets me ready for the first 3-4 weeks and then Coach Al flies in for the last 2 weeks to strategize and break down the game plan for our opponent.

I don’t know much about my opponent other than her fighting style. Coach Al is very big on studying tape. He watches my opponent about 150 times (no joke) and we’ll watch her together about 4-5 times. Despite their experience….we always look at what they do best and strategize for that specific strength. That’s how I learn and continue to grow….we don’t look past anyone.

KEN HISSNER: I see the promoter is Top Rank. Are you signed with them?

MIKAELA MAYER: Yes, in August of 2017 I signed a multi-year contract with Top Rank Promotions as their only female fighter. This was such an honor and so huge for women’s boxing. I had a job to represent more than myself in this new journey but it was the challenge I was looking for after the Olympics.

KEN HISSNER: What’s the reason why you still do you’re camps?

MIKAELA MAYER: One of the reasons I continue to do my camps here in Colorado Springs because there is never a lack of sparring partners. USA Boxing still graciously allows me to join their camps and use their facility which has been such a huge help. You also have Triple Threat out here where (Terence) Crawford does his camps as well as a few others so there is always a fighting environment. I truly feel it’s the best place to train. Great facility, trainers, a great team environment, and not to mention the altitude which is a huge advantage that most of my opponents aren’t getting.

KEN HISSNER: I want to wish you nothing but the best in the future in boxing and in life thanking you for taking the time to answer these questions. I also want to thank your manager George Ruiz for helping us get together.

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Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Preview: Stevenson vs. Simion, Benavidez vs. Crawford


By: William Holmes

Top Rank Promotions will promote a card featuring arguably their best pound for pound fighter, Terence Crawford, in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska in the main event of an ESPN televised card.

Crawford will face fellow undefeated welterweight Jose Benavidez for Crawford’s WBO Welterweight title.

The co-main event of the night will be between former Olympian and high level prospect Shakur Stevenson and Viorel Simion in a junior lightweight bout.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

The undercard will feature several intriguing fights, including a junior middleweight bout between Carlos Adames and Josh Conley, ad junior welterweight bout between Mike Alvarado and Robbie Cannon, and a female junior lightweight bout between Mikaela Mayer and Vanessa Bradford.

The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.

Shakur Stevenson (8-0) vs. Viorel Simion (21-2); Junior Lightweights

Shakur Stevenson is one of Top Rank’s most coveted prospects, and he was a silver medalist in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. On paper he’ll be facing the toughest test of his career, Viorel Simion, a former Olympic participant in the 2004 Summer games.

Stevenson is still very young and will be sixteen years younger than his 37 year old opponent. He will also have a two inch height advantage.

Stevenson, a Newark, New Jersey native, has won three of his past five fights by stoppage and has never faced anyone with a losing record. He only has four stoppage wins on his resume, but has been very active since turning pro. He fought four times in 2017 and has already fought four times in 2018.

Simion, from Romania, has nine KO wins on his resume and isn’t known for his power. This Romanian boxer lost the two fights where he stepped up in competition, to Scott Quigg and Lee Selby. Simion has fought mainly in Eurpe and fought once in 2017 and twice in 2016.

Stevenson has defeated the likes of Carlos Ruiz, Aelio Mesquita, Roxberg Patrick Riley, and Juan Tapia. He also went 2-0 n the World Series of Boxing.

Simion has defeated the likes of Andoni Gago, Alexander Miskirtchian, and Ryan Sermona. The few times he stepped up his level of competition he was soundly beat.

This is a bout that Stevenson should win comfortably, but Simion is a good experienced boxer to gauge where Stevenson currently is in his professional development.

Terence Crawford (33-0) vs. Jose Benavidez Jr.(27-0); WBO Welterweight Title

Terence Crawford will be stepping into the ring with a younger, taller, and longer undefeated challenger on Saturday.

Crawford is still in his prime, but Benavidez is five years younger than him. Benavidez will also have about a six inch height advantage and a three inch reach advantage.

Crawford does appear to have an edge in power. He has stopped twenty four of his opponents, and seven of his past eight fights were stoppage victories. Benavidez only has eighteen stoppage victories, and three of his past five fights were by way of stoppage.

Both boxers had relatively successful amateur careers. Crawford was a former PAL National Champion while Benavidez was a former US National Golden Gloves Champion.

Both boxers have been fairly active in 2018 but Crawford has been the more active fighter of the two since 2016. Crawford fought once in 2018, twice in 2017, and three times in 2016. Benavidez fought twice in 2018 and only once 2016.

Benavidez was also shot in 2016 and missed all of 2017 as a result.

Crawford has soundly beaten every man he has faced so far. He has beaten the likes of Jeff Horn, Julius Indongo, Felix Diaz, John Molina Jr., Viktor Postol, Hank Lundy, Dierry jean, Thomas Dulrome, Raymundo Beltran, Yoriorkis Gamboa, and Ricky Burns.

Benavidez does not have the professional resume of Crawford, but he has beaten some decent boxers. He has defeated the likes of Frank Rojas, Matthew Strode, Francisco Santana, Jorge Paez Jr., Mauricio Herrera, and Pavel Miranda.

However, his win against Herrera is disputed by many who thought Herrera deserved the decision in that bout.

This is a major, major step up in competition for Benavidez. Unfortunately for him, he has never faced anyone near the level of Terrance Crawford and it is this writer’s opinion that he will be in over his head on Saturday night.

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