WBSS Preview: Oleksandr Usyk vs. Murat Gassiev
By: Ste Rowen
Over four weeks since the 14th June, the soccer world cup has swept Russia and the globe. Overshadowing every other sporting event that dared take place on the same day, week or even months.
Somewhat ironic then that the ‘actual’ biggest sporting event in 2018 will take place six days later and 10km from the climax of the world cup when, in the World Boxing Super Series final, Oleksandr Usyk takes on Murat Gassiev for no less than the WBC, IBF, WBO, Ring Magazine, the actual (no strings, interims or regulars attached) WBA belt, as well as the Muhammad Ali trophy and, arguably most important of all, cruiserweight supremacy.
The fight was originally set to take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia but, like most fights billed for the Middle East, plans fell through weeks after Usyk was forced into postponing the original date due to a shoulder injury. It opened the door for the more logical option of Moscow to take its place.
The Olympiyskiy Arena has hosted the 1980 Olympics, the 2009 Eurovision song contest, and in September it will be the venue for the UFC’s first ever event in Russia, but on Saturday night, the arena will house an estimated 35,000 lucky, bloodthirsty boxing fans.
It’s been a long and explosive road to get to Saturday’s final in Moscow. Way back in the very first 200lb limit quarter final, on the 9th September 2017, when he only held the WBO belt, Usyk taunted and dominated Marco Huck to a 10th round stoppage.
For many, coming into the tournament the Ukrainian southpaw was the outright favourite already, but his September performance in Berlin solidified his number one status amongst a majority of fans. There was no let up from the champ that night in Germany, his movement even more demoralising for Huck than the punches he was landing, which seemed to be every time Oleksandr threw. So, when the referee eventually stepped in, with Marco still on his feet, there were little to no complaints at all.
42 days later, it was Murat’s turn to step into the ring for his quarter final. Due to IBF mandatory commitments, Gassiev had elected to fight Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, a good test for any newly crowned cruiserweight champion. The setting was the Prudential Center in Newark and it was to be a short night as, in the 3rd round, Murat landed a wonderful left hook upstairs/downstairs combination and left the Polish veteran fighting for breath, unable to rise to beat the count.
And so, onto the semi-finals, Usyk to face WBC champion, Mairis Briedis who’d earnt a 12-round decision over Mike Perez, in the only disappointing cruiserweight fight of the whole tournament. Gassiev was to take on then, WBA ‘Regular’ champion Yunier Dorticos who’d steamed through Dmitry Kudryashov in two rounds.
In the ‘WBSS Pre-Fight’ video for Saturday’s bout, Usyk said of his semi-final,
‘‘The first thing I remember is that it was a poor training camp. I could’ve done more work, I should have.’’
And there did seem to be something different about the Ukrainian that night, though many just put it down to a step up in competition. When he took on Mairis, it was the 5th time in a row the 2012 gold medallist had fought away from home (Saturday’s final will be his 6th), and though Usyk displayed the same attempts to dominant, as in his quarterfinal, this time his opponent wasn’t afraid to take punches, to land them. With the Riga crowd screaming him on, Briedis seemed to find another wind again and again, and though Usyk spent the majority of the fight as the aggressor, the Latvian timed his counter punches well enough to keep the fight close. The bout eventually went to the scorecards and was ruled a majority decision to Usyk, now the holder of the WBO and WBC.
A week on from the first semi-final, Gassiev and Dorticos fought an early frontrunner for fight of the year. Dorticos was unafraid of the Russian contingent on his back throughout the fight and started the brighter of the two, but unlike in his quarterfinal, Yunier’s 1-2’s wasn’t having the same effect on this Russian as they did against Kudryashov. As time drew on, it was clear that Murat’s early body attacks were having the lasting effect. In the championship rounds it seemed every punch ‘Iron’ threw shook up the Cuban and in the 12th Gassiev dropped Yunier once, then twice and with 17 seconds left in the fight, rifled Dorticos through the ropes and put an end to proceedings.
It was a fight that stood up alongside past greats such as Holyfield vs Qawi 1 or Haye vs Mormeck, and like the latter, Gassiev came out with two legitimate belts, as months later the WBA would rightfully upgrade the ‘Regular’ belt to the full champion strap.
‘‘Some experts predicted the final would be Gassiev vs. Usyk.’’ said Oleksandr, during his most recent training camp, ‘‘Now Murat and I will fight to be the undisputed world champion.’’
‘‘I’ve set myself on fire. I’m burning. That’s how I characterise my training camp.’’
‘‘We’re going to Moscow. I was not surprised… It doesn’t matter for me. The important thing is to fight, and I have somebody to fight.’’
Never one to give too much away before a fight, Gassiev is keeping a level-headed approach to the final,
‘‘Same as the last camps we do some different things in tactics for a southpaw and other things, nothing changes. Same running, physical exercise, sparring.’’
‘‘Toughest fight for me, for my career. He is number one in the cruiserweight division right now.’’
Ultimately, from hardcore to casual, fans want to see the best fight the best and in terms of the cruiserweights, that’s what we’re getting. For pure, unadulterated boxing, – skill, power, speed, P4P status – this upcoming WBSS final bout is arguably the best fight that can be made right now in this ridiculous sport.
Forget Wilder/Joshua, Spence/Crawford, Inoue/Tete… at least for now anyway.
Across 285 days, 8 fighters, 4 countries, and now 2 finalists.
Ukraine’s biggest vs. Russia’s best to give us an undisputed champion is what boxing, and the world, needs.
We should all be feel. Very feel.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Conwell, Bare Knuckle Fighting, Usyk, Gassiev, Munguia, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of July 10th to July 17th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Tom Hogan-Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
Usyk and Gassiev Touch Down in Moscow for Historic Final
Murat Gassiev and Aleksandr Usyk arrived Monday evening in Moscow ahead of the Cruiserweight Ali Trophy Final on July 21 at the Olympic Sports Complex.
“I am looking forward to the final. A final that will bring out the best in boxing. I can’t wait to see my fans in Moscow,” said Usyk.
Gassiev: “I’m in Russia one week before the fight. I’ve never had problems with the acclimatization. Jet-lag is also not a problem. A good nap during the flight and I’m ready to box at the airport. As always I expect a tough fight. I have to be ready for everything and adjust.”
Tickets are still available through official channels for one of the most anticipated fights of the decade, one of the most exciting boxing events in history, with 10.000 being sold up to now and 20.000 spectators expected.
“The exciting build-up for the first Ali Trophy Final ever is entering its most exciting phase,” said Kalle Sauerland, Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer. “This is the moment we have been waiting for.”
“True history and legacy making are at stake and the ‘Winner takes it all’ frase has never been more fitting. On Saturday in Moscow boxing and the world of sport will have a new, true superstar!”
The winner of Usyk-Gassiev will be the first boxer ever to win the Muhammad Ali Trophy and unify the cruiserweight titles in the four belt era.
The belts on the line will be the WBO, WBC, IBF and WBA Super and RING Magazine’s vacant cruiserweight championship strap.
The mouthwatering final will be a key event during a weekend of boxing activities in the Russian capital in celebration of International Boxing Day after Comosa were invited to bring and supervise the first final of The Greatest Prize in Boxing – The Ali Trophy – to the festival of pugilism.
Jaime Munguia and Alberto Macahdo Los Angeles Media Workout Quotes
Jaime Munguia (29-0, 25 KOs), the newly-crowned WBO Junior Middleweight World Champion of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, hosted a media workout today at the Westside Boxing Club ahead of the first defense of his title against former world champion Liam “Beefy” Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs) in a 12-round main event Saturday, July 21 at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas. The fight will be televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Alberto “Explosivo” Machado (19-0, 16 KOs), who will put his WBA Super Featherweight World Title on the line as he faces undefeated No. 1 Contender Rafael “Sweet Pea” Mensah (31-0, 23 KOs) in the 12-round co-main event, also participated in the workout.
Here’s what Munguia and Machado had to say during today’s media workout:
JAIME MUNGUIA, WBO Junior Middleweight World Champion:
“We had a sensational training camp. We have a great team, so I feel very good. The potential fight against Gennady Golovkin really got my name out there. It allowed me to get the opportunity to fight for a world title. I’m grateful for that. I’m also grateful that the NSAC didn’t allow me to fight against Golovkin because it lead to this world title.
I’m always 100% ready. I got the call to fight Sadam Ali with only two weeks notice. The only struggle was to lose the weight, but other than that I was ready. I knew my advantage was my reach and my power. I knew that he was a smaller fighter. Those were the keys to my victory.
I feel very motivated now that I am a world champion. Everyone is going to talk about to me after this fight. This will open up more opportunities, and people will mention my name with the likes of Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.
I think that the only advantage that Liam Smith has is that he’s fought in big events before. But I have many fights under my belt. I have a lot of experience. I had over 100 fights as an amateur. All this experience gives me a lot of confidence when I step into the ring. Also, Smith might say that he’s a natural 154-pounder, but I want to tell him that I’m a natural 160-pounder who drops down. I’m very happy with the training camp we had and very confident about this fight.”
ALBERTO “EXPLOSIVO” MACHADO, WBA Super Featherweight World Champion:
“It’s been about 10 months since my last fight. But it served me well. It allowed me to get some rest and to work on some technical details I needed to work on. I had been boxing for 15 years straight, so it was a necessary rest.
Fighting on HBO for the first time was a dream come true. I used to gather with my friends to watch Miguel Cotto, Ivan Calderon and Felix Trinidad on HBO, so this was definitely a dream come true. The fight against Jezreel Corrales was very tough. At first, he didn’t event make weight. I knew he had a lot more experience than I did too. But I brought out the spirit that characterizes us a boxers to walk away with the victory.
For this camp, I worked on strategy and technique. I had more time to travel to Los Angeles and work with Freddie Roach. During this camp, I really got to see why he is a Hall of Fame trainer. I got to see why he’s had so many world champions. On July 21, you will definitely see a new and improved Alberto Machado.”
Mykquan Williams Headlines Broadway Boxing on July 21st
Following a successful weekend that saw DiBella Entertainment (DBE) spanning the globe with four impressive victories between junior welterweight star Regis Prograis and US Olympian Charles Conwell in New Orleans, female boxing sensation Raquel Miller in San Francisco and lightweight contender George Kambosos Jr. in Kuala Lumpur, DBE is on the road again bringing the Broadway Boxing series back to its home away from home at the beautiful Foxwoods Resort Casino, in Mashantucket, CT, this Saturday. Headlining the event will be East Hartford, CT’s “Marvelous” Mykquan Williams (11-0, 7 KOs) facing Matt “The Mantis” Doherty (8-4-1, 4 KOs), of Salem, MA, in an eight-round junior welterweight bout.
Only 20 years old, the all-action Williams has become a featured fighter at Foxwoods Resort Casino, with nine previous starts on-site. Managed by Jackie Kallen and trained by Paul Cichon, Williams has started his 2018 campaign in destructive fashion with two first-round knockouts, most recently stopping Orlando Felix on May 5, at Foxwoods. The 29-year-old Doherty looks for a return to victory after his four-bout winning streak was stopped in a six-round clash against highly regarded undefeated prospect Ray Moylette on March 31, in Quincy, MA.
Tickets for the stacked card, presented by Nissan of Queens, Azad Watches, OPTYX, Christos Steak House and Gagliardi Insurance, are priced at $125, $75 and $45, and can be purchased online at Foxwoods.com, Ticketmaster.com, by calling 800-200-2882, or visiting the Foxwoods box office. Foxwoods Resort Casino is located at 350 Trolley Line Boulevard, Mashantucket, Connecticut 06338. Doors will open to the Fox Theater at 6:30 p.m., with the first fight scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
The show will be broadcast on LIVE.DBE1.COM, part of the SportsLive OTT service as part of a partnership with CBS Sports Digital. Fans can subscribe to the event for $6.95 now by visiting LIVE.DBE1.COM.
Featured in an eight-round women’s featherweight contest, Providence, RI, fan favorite Shelly “Shelito’s Way” Vincent (22-1, 1 KO) battles hard-hitting Colombian Calixta Silgado (16-9-3, 11 KOs), in a rematch of their memorable clash last year, won by Vincent over eight rounds. Including the win versus Silgado, Vincent is currently riding a four-bout winning streak, started after her history-making nationally televised battle with world ranked Heather Hardy on August 21, 2016, the only loss on her ledger.
Popular fast-rising welterweight prospect Adrian Sosa (7-0, 5 KOs), of Lawrence, MA, will compete in a scheduled six-rounder. The 23-year-old Sosa returns to action following his best win in the paid ranks, a six-round decision against fellow undefeated prospect Khiry Todd on May 5, at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Sosa was a 2014 New England Golden Gloves champion and turned pro in July 2016 following an 18-2 amateur career.
Newcomer Lamont Powell (1-0), of Pawtucket, RI, will compete in a four-round middleweight bout against Charles Carroll (0-1), of The Bronx, NY. The 25-year-old Powell made his triumphant pro debut on May 5, with a shutout four-round decision against Amadeu Cristiano.
Brooklyn, NY’s Hurshidbek Normatov (6-0, 2 KOs) will square off in a six-round junior middleweight fight against fellow unbeaten prospect Alexis Gaytan (4-0, 2 KOs), of Mission, TX. A former amateur standout representing Uzbekistan, the 26-year-old Normatov won a six-round decision versus Ronald Montes on May 5, at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Promoted by DiBella Entertainment and managed by David McWater’s Split-T Management, Normatov was an experienced amateur competing in 324 bouts and winning the 2014 European National Championships. The 23-year-old Gaytan returns following a six-round decision win versus then undefeated Kendrick Ball Jr. (9-0-2), on June 2, at Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Undefeated super middleweight contender Lennox “2 Sharpe” Allen (20-0-1, 13 KOs), of Brooklyn, NY, will see action, after a three-year layoff, in a scheduled six-rounder against Willis Lockett (16-23-6, 5 KOs), of Takoma Park, MD. Allen is a former WBC CABOFE, New York State and Guyanese champion.
Co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment and Fight Promotions Inc., Uzbek heavyweight Bakhodir Jalolov (1-0, 1 KO) will return to the scene of his pro debut in a six-round bout. Born in Sariosiyo, Uzbekistan, Jalolov was a highly accomplished amateur, compiling a record of 84-13. A four-time National champion from 2013 to 2016, Jalolov represented his homeland at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, and had the distinguished honor of being the country’s flagbearer at the Opening Ceremonies. As an amateur, Jalolov won gold medals at the Asian Amateur Boxing Championships in 2017, World Cup Tournament, Liventsev Memorial Tournament, Great Silk Way Tournament, and Duisenkul Shopokov Memorial Tournament in 2015, and at the World Cup of Petroleum Countries Tournament in 2014. During his amateur career, Jalolov also focused on his education, earning a Master’s Degree in Sports Science. He now trains in Miami, FL, with the renowned Pedro Diaz and Ravshan Khodjaev.
Bridgeport, CT, native Oscar Bonilla (4-3-2) will challenge Philadelphia, PA’s Seifullah Jihad Wise (3-4, 1 KO) in a six-round junior welterweight bout.
2016 United States Olympian Charles Conwell Scores 2nd Round Stoppage
2016 U.S. Olympian Charles Conwell was impressive by stopping Travis Scott in the 2nd round of their junior middleweight bout.
Conwell came out in round by hurting Scott with a flurry of punches on the ropes. Conwell ended things with a perfect left hook to the body that sent Scott to a knee for the ten count at 1:34.
Conwell, of Cleveland, OH raises his record to 8-0 with 6 knockouts. Scott, of Baton Rouge, LA falls to 19-4.
“This win means a lot as it shows that I can not only beat good fighters with experience, but get them out of there,” said Conwell. “It also shows that I am on a whole other level then guys out there in my weight, and that I am a force to be reckoned with.”
“Charles has remarkable power for somebody his age, and he really has no ceiling. This was supposed to be his step up fight,” said Split-T Management CEO, David McWater.
Conwell is co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment and Holden Productions
World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation Up and Running
Combat sports’ newest organization, World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation (WBKFF), officially announced today that it is fully operational and targeting this October to promote its inaugural professional event, to air worldwide on independent pay per view.
WBKFF principals include CEO Tom Stankiewicz, COO & Director of Operations JC and matchmaker Paul Tyler.
The exact date of this historical event, venue, complete PPV details, and bouts will be announced during this summer.
“WBKFF will soon become the biggest, most popular in combat sports,” JC predicted. “This all started from our passion for hand-to-hand combat and to give fans what they deserve. WBKFF and fan-friendly will be synonymous. We’re going to give combat sports fans what they want and deserve: integrity, passion and fairness.”
Newly adopted rules including holding and striking, spinning backfists and hammer fists will be used in all WBKFF fights, which will be contested in a traditional boxing ring for optimum viewing and safety. All men’s and women’s matches will feature five (two-minute) rounds.
WBKFF has actively scouted and recruited battle-tested veterans and promising prospects alike from boxing, mixed martial arts, kickboxing, Muay Thai, wrestling and other combat sports disciplines.
Members of the WBKFF stable of fighters range from legendary MMA veteran and undefeated kickboxer Phil “New York Bad Ass” Baroni to Street Beats Internet and YouTube MMA sensation Chris “Mighty Mouse” Yarborough, pro-debuting Team USA national boxing champion Tika “Ice Cold” Hemingway and former University of South Alabama football star Desmond LaVelle, former UFC fighters Seth “Polish Pistola” Baczynski, Tom “Da Tank” Gallicchio and Christina Marks, former Bellator fighters Virgil “Rezdog” Zwicker and Dakota Cochrane, and former world boxing title challenger Jasmine Clarkson, among the more notables to date.
Additional signings, including some with major names in MMA and boxing, are in negotiation stages.
All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Usyk Opens as 3-1 Favorite to Defeat Murat Gassiev in WBSS Final
By: Bryant Romero
The stage is set for the Crusierweight final of the Word Boxing Super Series. Oleksandr Usyk (14-0, 11 KOs) of Ukraine will take on Murat Gassiev (26-0, 19 KOs) of Russia for all the marbles of the cruiserweight division in an unusual location for a prize fight in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on May 11. Perhaps a change in location could be in the cards since its being reported that Russia is pushing hard to land the cruiserweight final. Though it would be fair to both finalists to fight on neutral soil, especially since Usyk has already had to fight on hostile territory on two occasions in this tournament.
The 31-year-old Usyk has opened as high as a 3-1 favorite to defeat Gassiev , according to the 5dimes sportsbook. Usyk is coming off a hard fought battle against Latavia’s Mairis Briedis (23-1, 18 KOs) in a good scrap between two undefeated champions. Usyk was legitimately tested for the first time in his so far brief pro career. The Ukrainian however, was able to separate himself though as the rounds progressed, showing a superior workrate, and consistently outboxing Briedis while coming forward. It was the most competitive fight of Usyk’s pro career, but he was the rightful and clear winner earning a majority decision on the scorecards.
It’s only early February but Gassiev on the other hand was already in a fight of the year candidate with Yunier Dorticos (22-1, 21 KOs) of Cuba. In an anticipated matchup between explosive punchers, it sure lived up to the hype as Gassiev and Dorticos produced a dramatic battle at the Bolshoy Ice Dome in Alder, Russia. Dorticos started fast giving Gassiev problems with his range, long jab, and workrate. The 24-year-old Gassiev however, was able to turn the fight around after a slow start and slowly but surely started to pick apart the shaky defense of the 31-year-old Cuban. Gassiev would score 3 knockdowns in the 12th and final round forcing a stoppage and sealing the victory, while unifying the IBF and WBA titles in the process.
Gassiev seems very mature beyond his 24 years of age but he will have an uphill battle with Usyk who brings in a very extensive amateur background, pedigree, and a much different boxing style compared to Gassiev’s last two opponents. Usyk’s boxing style has given him the comparisons of being a cruiserweight Lomachenko and he should be the favorite coming into this bout. However, the confidence Gassiev will bring into the fight after unifying two titles and under the guidance of his coach Abel Sanchez who also trains Gennady Golovkin, we could be in for a dramatic battle of this cruiserweight final. May the best man win.
WBSS Results: Usyk Defeats Briedis
By: Ste Rowen
Wins for Usyk, Hrgovic and Otto Wallin, top a great night for former amateur standouts.
Olesksandr Usyk has taken one step closer to Cruiserweight supremacy after outworking the now former WBC champion, Mairis Briedis, to a unanimous 12-round decision.
The early rounds saw Bridies press as Usyk stood off, countering when it mattered. The Latvian made it uncomfortable for Usyk through four.
As the rounds progressed though, Usyk began to dominate behind his jab and his championship experience began to show.
The final round saw Briedis go all out as if he knew it was all or nothing, but Usyk kept his distance, and the Ukrainian did enough to keep the Latvian at bay.
The final score cards were, 114-114, 115-113, 115-113 for Usyk.
Speaking post-fight, Usyk said,
‘These were the most difficult 12-rounds I’ve had in my career.
On his possible finalist, Usyk said,
‘I will be watching this fight, and I wish the strongest man wins.’
He will now face either IBF champion, Murat Gassiev or WBA ‘Regular’ champion, Yunier Dorticos in the WBSS final in May.
On the undercard, highly rated, 2016 bronze medallist, Filip Hrgovic of Croatia, moved to 3-0 after scoring a TKO victory over Tom Little in the 4th round. Much like his fellow Super Heavyweight Rio Olympians, Tony Yoka and Jo Joyce; Hrgovic is being quickly accelerated through the heavyweight rankings and a stoppage victory over Tom Little, in just his third fight, underlines that point.
His victory tonight follows 1st round knockouts over heavyweight gatekeeper, Raphael Zumbano Love and 6-0, Pavel Sour.
Swedish southpaw, Otto Wallin moved to 19-0 (13 KOs) after taking out 6-5, Srdan Govedarica in the 3rd round with a body shot. After fighting just once in 2017 with a 5th round stoppage of 12-4 at the time, Gianluca Mendras; heavyweight Otto will be hoping to continue the steady progress he was making back in 2016, a year topped by his shutout points victory over the aforementioned, Zumbano Love. A showdown with fellow countryman Adrian Granat awaits later this year.
WBSS Preview: Oleksandr Usyk v Mairis Briedis
By: Ste Rowen
The World Boxing Super Series gets back underway on the 27th January as Latvia holds host to the first semi-final between WBC champion Mairis Briedis, 23-0 (18KOs) and WBO champion Olesksandr Usyk 13-0 (11KOs).
It will be Riga-born Mairis Briedis’ second consecutive fight in his home city after he dominated Mike Perez to a unanimous decision in his quarter final back in September.
Despite the awkward way the Perez fight played out, speaking at the first face-off between the two fighters, Briedis seemed confident that the bout would match up with the raucous atmosphere expected in Arena Riga,
‘It is one of my dreams as a fighter to be part of one of the greatest fights of all time. I hope this fight will be a hall of fame fight. It has all the ingredients to become a classic.’
On the raised stakes with each fight he’s a part of, Mairis replied,
‘I don’t think of anything outside of boxing so right now I’m doing my job… When the fight is done we will talk about other stuff that is not pure boxing.’
The enigmatic Usyk was in confident mood as always. It will be the Ukrainian’s 5th consecutive fight away from his home country and his 4th title defence since defeating then unbeaten Krzysztof Glowacki in Poland back in 2016.
‘There wasn’t an arena suitable to host this event in Ukraine but that’s not a problem… This is a unification bout; two world champions are facing each other so it doesn’t matter where the fight is taking place, it could even be on the moon. The most important thing is what’s happening in the ring.’
Asked about his travelling support, the WBO champion said,
‘Who knows? There is definitely interest in Ukraine and there is always fans when I am fighting abroad… 50/50 split.’
The 2012 Olympic gold medallist progressed to the semi-finals courtesy of a 10th round stoppage of Marco Huck. It was a particularly impressive victory coming off the back of two laboured wins over American, Michael Hunter and fellow southpaw, Thabiso Mchunu.
The second semi-final between Murat ‘Iron’ Gassiev and Yunier ‘The KO Doctor’ Dorticos takes place in Sochi, Russia a week later. All four remaining fighters go into the semi-finals unbeaten with a combined record of 83-0 (68KOs).
Reminder: If any of the fights are scored a draw across the three judges, a fourth judge will be called into play to settle who progresses to the much anticipated final, set to take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in May this year.
Five Fighters to Watch in 2018
By: Eric Lunger
As the final wrapping paper gets cleaned up from under the tree, and as we collectively vow – in varying degrees of enthusiasm and conviction — to get back to sensible eating and exercise, it’s time to take a glance ahead at the upcoming year in boxing, and count down the top five fighters to keep an eye on. This is a pretty eclectic list, and no doubt you have your own picks; I’d love to read which boxers you are watching for 2018 in the comments below.
Photo Credit: WBSS
Joseph Parker (Heavyweight). The Kiwi WBO champion had a great 2017, defending his newly-won belt twice. In May, he took care of business against Razvan Cojanu, a late-minute replacement in a not-so spectacular bout, but in September, Parker traveled to Manchester, UK, to take on the talented contender Hughie Fury. Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) answered a lot of questions that night, and won over some critics. Still, there are some commentators who feel that Parker is the odd man out in the top tier of the division, that he doesn’t really belong in the same rarified air as Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, and Tyson Fury. But with his power, his hand speed, and most importantly, his meteoric learning curve each and every outing, Parker can be a real spoiler in the division. Will he get a shot at AJ in 2018? That is tough to envision, given Team Joshua’s current aversion to risk, but as the WBO Champion, unification of the belts has to go through Parker at some point.
Oleksandr Usyk (Cruiserweight). Usyk (13-0, 11 KOs) fought on the same Olympic team as Vasyl Lomachenko, training with Lomachenko’s father, and it shows in Usyk’s footwork and use of angles. Already WBO world champion, the Ukrainian southpaw is in the semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series Cruiserweight tournament, slated to take on undefeated WBC champion Mairis Breidis in Riga, Latvia, on January 27. Supremely confident, Usyk is one of those few European amateurs who understands that the professional game is about more than just scoring points; a fighter needs to be exciting to watch if he wants to build his fan base. With knockout artist Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos in the other semi-final in February, the WBSS tournament is exciting and dynamic, and Usyk has to be the favorite to unify all the belts and lift the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
Javier Fortuna (Lightweight) A southpaw from the Dominican Republic and former WBA World champion at junior lightweight, Fortuna (33-1-1, 23 KOs) has an important title shot this coming January against undefeated IBF lightweight champion Robert Easter, Jr. Fortuna is an underdog in this fight, to be sure, but the matchup will be competitive and entertaining. The Dominican standout is a risk-taker, and he can get caught. But he is also brilliant to watch, especially when he makes intuitive adjustments in the ring or decides to ramp up the performance aspect of his game. This will be no easy tune-up for Easter, and Fortuna should not be overlooked as a potential upset of the year.
Danny Garcia (Welterweight). Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) has always been one of my favorite fighters. A guy with deep Philly roots, he’s had tough battles with the likes of Amir Khan, Zab Judah, Lucas Matthysse, Paulie Malignaggi, and Keith Thurman. Danny is an accurate counterpuncher whose risky style is based on one of the most dominant left hooks in the game. The split decision loss to Thurman last March had to be a bitter pill for the proud Garcia to swallow. How does a fighter who has accomplished so much in the sport find the motivation to rebound from a loss like that? We will find out where Garcia is mentally and physically this February 17 as he takes on Brandon Rios (34-3, 25 KOs) in a twelve-round welterweight clash.
Vasyl Lomachenko (Junior Lightweight). Obviously, the slick Ukrainian southpaw is on top of the boxing world right now, and is a factor in everyone’s pound-for-pound discussion, but the real unknown for Lomachenko in 2018 is: whom should he fight next? Who will give him a challenge? Who will draw a big audience? Miguel Berchelt (32-1 28 KOs), who holds the WBC belt, seems like the logical next opponent for “HiTech,” but a case can certainly be made for Francisco Vargas (24-1-2, 17 KOs) or even Gervonta Davis (19-0, 18 KOs). There has also been significant social media chatter about Lomachenko moving up to 135 to fight Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs), and what a fight that would be. Unfortunately, for now, Garcia has moved to junior welterweight to face Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) for the IBF title. Regardless, Lomachenko remains a fighter to watch in 2018.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Seldin, Usyk, Briedis, Estrada, Shields, Rungvisai, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of December 5th to December 12th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Star Boxing/Nick Sideris
Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin Returns to HBO in Back to Back Months Usyk-Briedis Semi-Final Tickets for WBSS on Sale
Tickets for the Ali Trophy semi-final bout in the cruiserweight edition of the World Boxing Super Series between WBO World Champion Aleksandr Usyk (13-0, 11 KOs) and WBC World Champion Mairis Briedis (23-0, 18 KOs) are on sale now via bilesuserviss.lv with prices starting at €50.
This biggest Cruiserweight unification fight for several years, takes place at the Arena Riga in Latvia on 27 January 2018.
Ukrainian Usyk has promised a night to remember for boxing fans at the arena and around the world: “Fans at the arena and in front of their TV’s can look forward to a beautiful and interesting battle between two world champions.”
Said Briedis: “I can’t wait to hear the noise of the devoted Latvian fans again. I will prepare myself over the next weeks to give them a show against Usyk.”
Tickets for Usyk vs Briedis start at €50 and are on sale now via bilesuserviss.lv
Women’s Boxing Superstar Claressa Shields to Hold Public Media Workout
WBC and IBF Super middleweight World Champion Claressa “T-Rex” Shields (4-0, 2 KOs) to defend titles against former world champion and undefeated mandatory challenger Tori Nelson (17-0-3, 2 KOs) on Friday, January 12, in the main event of ShoBox: The New Generation live at 10 p.m. ET/PT from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY; Presented by Salita Promotions
Shields, her trainers, and Salita Promotions’ founder, Dmitriy Salita, will be available for photographs and interviews.
Tuesday, December 12 – OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
12:00 p.m. ET – Media Arrival
12:15 p.m. ET – Workout Begins
Kronk Boxing Community Center
9520 Mettetal St,
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Juan Francisco Estrada Set for February 24th Live on HBO
Following the overwhelming success from the first SUPERFLY event this past September, Tom Loeffler’s 360 Promotions in association with Nakornluong Promotions and Zanfer Promotions is proud to announce the highly anticipated second installment, SUPERFLY 2, set for Saturday, February 24 at the Forum in Los Angeles, CA televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT.
SUPERFLY 2 will be headlined by WBC Super Flyweight World Champion SRISAKET SOR RUNGVISAI, (44-4-1, 40 KO’s), of Si Sa Ket, Thailand, defending his title over 12-rounds for the second time against former world champion and #1 ranked mandatory challenger JUAN FRANCISCO “El Gallo” ESTRADA, (36-2, 25 KO’s), of Sonora, Mexico.
Advance tickets for SUPERFLY 2, priced at $250, $150, $100, $60 and $30 will go On-Sale Tuesday, December 12 at 12:00 p.m. PT and can be purchased through Ticketmaster (Ticketmaster.com, 1-800-745-3000) and the Forum Box Office. The Forum is located at 3900 W. Manchester Blvd, Inglewood CA 90305.
“It’s very exciting to announce the main event for the second installment of our SUPERFLY series. With the tremendous response from fans and media from our first event and overwhelming anticipation to our second, we join boxing fans in saying that we ‘can’t wait’ until February 24 at the Forum,” said Loeffler.
“Srisaket Sor Rungvisai had a remarkable year in 2017 upsetting ‘Chocolatito’ by controversial decision on March 18, 2017 at Madison Square Garden for the WBC Super Flyweight Title and decisively defeating him again in his first defense on September 9 at the Stubhub Center at our first SUPERFLY event.”
“Juan Francisco Estrada won a terrific fight against Carlos Cuadras on September 9 at the Stubhub Center and is very anxious to challenge for a world title in the super flyweight division against Sor Rungvisai.”
“The Forum has played host to many nights of memorable battles for more than 40 years and we expect this event to be another chapter in the annals of this iconic venue.”
Said Fernando Beltran, President of Zanfer Promotions, “On February 24 our talented and pride of Mexico, Juan Francisco “Gallo” Estrada will show that he is the best flyweight in the world by beating the WBC Champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in another great night at SUPERFLY 2.”
“HBO has given us a great opportunity to showcase the smaller divisions and the fans will be very happy to see it. If SUPERFLY 1 was a great night of quality boxing and action, I am sure that SUPERFLY 2 will surpass it.”
Mauricio Sulaiman of the World Boxing Council stated, “SUPERFLY 2 must be celebrated as it will bring excitement to boxing fans and it marks the return of real boxing promotion as this concept has found great interest around the world. It is great to see that the smaller weight divisions receive this type of opportunities to shine on the biggest stage of the world for boxing. The WBC fully supports SUPERFLY 2 and looks forward to this spectacular night of boxing.”
Said Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, “The super flyweight division is the deepest division in the world at the moment. I have great respect to Tom Loeffler and HBO for making SUPERFLY so successful, and SUPERFLY 2 will continue to deliver. We have so many great fighters in the super flyweight division, and it is exciting for me because there are many world class opponents that can make terrific fights.”
“Juan Francisco Estrada is definitely among the top-class fighters in our division. When someone is a former unified champion that moved up without losing his titles, you know he is a world class fighter in his prime. However, I am confident that I will be successful in this fight because I will be at my best on fight night again. We will give the fans an incredible fight and I plan on another impressive win.”
“I would like to invite all Thais in the United States, especially those in Los Angeles to attend my fight at the Forum on February 24. Together our Thai hearts will beat and our Thai blood will be pumped with pride and excitement. Let’s show the world our Thai power together on that day!”
Said Estrada, “I am very excited about facing Sor Rungvisai for the WBC Super Flyweight World Title on February 24 at the Forum. He will be a difficult challenge as he defeated Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez twice in a row with a vicious KO in their last fight. Sor Rungvisai is a very tough and skilled boxer so I will have to prepare very well to be ready to challenge him for his belt.”
The 30-year-old Sor Rungvisai made his United States debut on March 18 shocking the boxing world with a 12-round majority decision over then undefeated and consensus #1 pound-for-pound fighter Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez at Madison Square Garden. Dropping Gonzalez in the first stanza, Sor Rungvisai would capture the WBC Super Flyweight World Title in a hotly contested battle that had the massive crowd on their feet throughout.
Rematching Gonzalez on September 9 at The Stubhub Center, Sor Rungvisai would drop the four-division world champion twice in the fourth round, the second resulting in Sor Rungvisai being awarded the knockout stoppage erasing any controversy from the first fight.
Sor Rungvisai also previously held the WBC Super Flyweight World Title defending it once before losing the title to Carlos Cuadras on a technical decision on May 31, 2014. Sor Rungvisai had won the title in his hometown of Si Sa Ket, Thailand on May 3, 2013 by knocking out champion Yota Sato in the eighth round.
Known for his true ‘Mexican Style’ of fighting, Juan Francisco Estrada has remained one of the most popular fighters in the flyweight and super flyweight divisions throughout his nine-year professional career.
The 27-year-old Estrada won the WBC and WBA Flyweight World Titles on April 6, 2013 with a 12-round decision victory over Brian Viloria in Macau, China. Estrada defended both titles six times before moving up to the super flyweight division.
At the inaugural Superfly event on September 9, Estrada fought brilliantly in winning a 12-round unanimous decision over former WBC Super Flyweight World Champion Carlos Cuadras at the Stubhub Center.
Estrada has not lost a fight in over six years. On November 17, 2012, he challenged then WBC Flyweight World Champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez, losing a very close, 12-round decision at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Champs Celebrate the Holidays with our US Veterans
This past Tuesday, WBC Cares gathered together with local Champions and fighters from the Los Angeles community to fulfill a promise WBC made to the Veterans Home in Barstow earlier this year, to come spend a Holiday Lunch with our U.S. Veterans, our Heroes. Due to the California Wildfires, a few couldn’t make it because of road closures, but we still had great attendance from Champions and WBC Cares Ambassadors, like Golden Boy’s NABF Featherweight Champion, Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz Jr., WBA World Super Bantamweight Champion Daniel Roman, Former World Champion Paul Banke, Former World Championship Contenders Ruben Castillo and Mando Muniz, Professional fighter and Officer for L.A.P.D., Juan Bustamente, Cutman Sergio Estrada and lastly the WBC Los Angeles team, Pepe & Cecy Sulaiman, Nancy Rodriguez & kids.
President Mauricio Sulaiman, and WBC Cares Chairperson Jill Diamond wanted to make sure our heroes received a special gift, the WBC presented all Veterans with an official WBC patch personalized with “CAL VETERANS” as well as a special plaque for the Veterans Home presented by Pepe Sulaiman to the Home administrator.
The visit started with our WBC Cares Ambassadors Daniel Roman, Joseph Diaz Jr. Juan Bustamante, Marissa Rodriguez and Ruben Castillo helping serve the veterans and staff a special Holiday Lunch. the Vets had a great time laughing through the line with Ruben Castillo’s jokes and great smiles behind the kitchen line, while the rest of the WBC Family Paul Banke, Sergio Estrada, Mando Muniz ate in the cafeteria with the Vets and had great conversations. After the lunch, WBC presented special gifts to all the Vets who answered Boxing questions, some were present as fans for the Ali vs. Frazier fight! Great stories to hear! Pepe Sulaiman then presented the Home with a Plaque in appreciation for all they do for our heroes, the kids and Ambassadors passed out patches as well as a special WBC cake for all present. The visit ended with many photos and autographs for the Veterans and many smiles.
Barstow is over a two hour drive from Los Angeles, the WBC is very grateful to our ambassadors for taking the time to make the drive out to Barstow and helping bring beautiful smiles to our heroes faces this Holiday season.
WBSS Results: Briedis Defeats Perez By Decision
By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night the Baltic country of Latvia hosted its first ever world championship fight as the World Boxing Super Series came to town. However, neither the pre-fight hype, nor the electric atmosphere inside Arena Riga could turn this highly anticipated match-up into an exciting fight.
The third quarter final of the Cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series saw WBC World Champion Mairis Briedis step into the ring with former heavyweight contender Mike ‘The Rebel’ Perez, with Oleksandr Usyk awaiting the winner in the semifinals.
The early rounds set the tone for what descended into an ugly scrap. In round one ‘The Rebel’ seemed the busier fighter, throwing more frequently and forcing Mairis onto the backfoot.
Round two was when the Latvian started to lay the groundwork for his own game plan. This time Briedis seemed comfortable on the backfoot, initiating a jab and hold tactic that continued relentlessly throughout the fight. The bout looked like it would set alight in round three as Briedis was cut on his left eye by a head clash, which the referee ruled Perez to be at fault for and docked the Cuban a point. For a brief period, Briedis seemed apprehensive, even causing a second-head clash which seemed to effect Perez more than it did the champion.
From round five however, the Latvian regained his composure and dominated right into the championship rounds. His holding wasn’t pretty but it was a strong enough base to work off as he started to land more frequently. By round nine, and arguably earlier, Mike Perez, 22-2-1 heading into tonight, seemed all out of ideas and was caught by a big right uppercut underneath the chin which, although he seemed to recover quickly, definitely shook him up. Enough for him to incorporate Briedis’ tactics of holding long enough to avoid any further damage.
In round ten Briedis was finally docked a point for persistent holding after much protest and frustration from Perez but by then the Latvian had an air of superiority about him. Perez began to rush forward with no real effect and he needed a knockout going into the final round. It never looked like coming.
There was the question of whether Mike’s power would have the desired effect coming down in weight, but in truth we still don’t know if it can. Briedis frustrated Perez throughout, never taking a clean hit from the Cuban nor veering away from his own game plan. Jab-Hold with the occasional combination flurry or eye-catching shot was enough to see Briedis pick up a clear points win, 116-110, 115-111, 114-112.
It’s hard to watch Briedis, now 23-0-0. Tonight, along with his last outing against Marco Huck to win the WBC title, prove why, but up next is tournament, fan favorite, Usyk. It’s a match-up touted for early 2018 and as well as a place in the WBSS final, Usyk’s WBO and Briedis’ WBC Cruiserweight world titles will be at stake. There’s enough there for us to forget about how tonight played out and salivate over how good the upcoming semifinal should be.
Krzysztof Glowacki v Leonardo Bruzzese
The main undercard bout of the night saw World Boxing Super Series reserve, and former WBO World Cruiserweight world champion Krzysztof Glowacki, 27-1-0 before tonight, ease to a stoppage win over Italian Leonardo Bruzzese (18-3-0).
The Polish southpaw dominated from the first bell, landing almost every time with a perfect left hand. And the domination continued through the second. Bruzese, who had fought all but one of his fights outside of Italy, began to land slightly more but it wasn’t a problem Glowacki couldn’t deal with.
The Pole almost ended it at the end of the second and then again through rounds three and fourth. His punches consistently sending Bruzzese onto the ropes, with only a solid chin keeping Leonardo in the fight. But he was never truly ‘in’ the fight as Glowacki hammered at his opponent with precision, power and most tellingly, ease.
Krzysztof finally landed a punch with the desired effect, firing a left hook in round five which dropped Bruzzesse and then again soon after, forcing the Italian to drop down on both knees as the referee waved the bout off.
Glowacki would’ve been a worthy participant in the World Boxing Super Series with or without tonight’s win but what tonight shows is that he’s a clear number of levels above the fringe fighter status. Let’s hope he’s not called upon but if he is, people would be wise to not overlook him as a world class contender at the 200lb limit.
Oleksandr Usyk Stops Tough Marco Huck to Open the World Boxing Super Series
By: Eric Lunger
The Quarter-finals of the World Boxing Super Series tournament opened last night at the venerable Max Schmeling Halle in Berlin, where long time German Cruiserweight champ Marco Huck took on heavily favored Ukrainian WBO belt holder Oleksandr Usyk, the former Olympic champ and teammate of Vasyl Lomachenko.
In the opening round, Usyk showed incredible footwork for a 200 pounder, moving in and out, changing range and angles, even toying with changing stance.
Huck, no rookie, patiently waited for a chance to set his feet and throw a punch, but had little opportunity. Huck did manage to get inside once, where he held Usyk’s head with the left while throwing right hooks – a professional tactic, to put it charitably. Nonetheless, Usyk scored with jabs to the body and head. First round to Usyk, 10-9.
The second round saw better work from Huck, who started to time Usyk and land counter rights to the body. Usyk took over in the second half of the round, however, using his considerable reach to establish a double jab, for which Huck had no answer. Usyk pinned Huck against the ropes late in the round, but the veteran German knew enough to extricate himself at once. Usyk 20-18.
Usyk came out in the third determined to up his tempo and punch output, but Huck is not easy to intimidate. Despite some good counters and some offense from Huck, the Ukrainian champ dominated the round with his foot work and hand speed.
Moments before the bell and sensing some fatigue in his opponent, Usyk slipped to his right and landed a punishing left hook that seems to stun Huck. Usyk 30-27.
In round four, Huck came out aggressively and found a way through Usyk’s guard with a good left hook. But Usyk fired back immediately, following his jab and scoring with his left. Huck continued to look for his straight right, even to the point of leaning in, and was duly punished by Usyk, who pounced on the error. Nonetheless, a close round, maybe with the edge to Huck. Usyk 39-37.
In the fifth, the Ukrainian seemed to realize that Huck, though tough and still throwing punches, was not a threat, and Usyk began to let his hands go, looping big shots with both hands. Conditioning also became a factor in this round, as Huck slowed down in the last 30 seconds of this and the following rounds, while Usyk continued to pressure and put combinations together. Usyk 49-46.
The sixth round was defensive and calculating from both fighters, with the champion content to box behind a high guard, dancing and moving out of range of Huck’s short overhand right. Huck took what was offered and began to attack the body, but drew a warning from referee Robert Byrd for a low blow. The German ended the round with a good combination, however, drawing a grin and grimace of frustration from Usyk. Usyk 58-56.
Having essentially taken a round off, the Ukrainian champ came out in the seventh with higher energy and much more focus. While game and always willing to throw back, Huck had no answer for Usyk’s jab, reach, and hand speed. When Usyk put those three elements together, Huck simply covered up and had to weather the storm. In a reverse mirror image of the last round, Usyk ended it with an effective and emphatic combination. Usyk 68-65.
The eighth began with Huck dangerously letting Usyk come in and then throwing clever counters with both hands. Either Usyk had excellent sparring or he had studied Huck’s style carefully, because he never went for the bait. While Usyk dominated the round, he went down on a slip, and Huck followed him, landing a punch while Usyk was on his knees. Although Huck has been known as a “rugged” fighter, this appeared a reaction more than a foul, but referee Byrd deducted a point. Usyk 78-73.
The fight exploded at the bell to start the ninth, as though Usyk had decided to go for a knock out. Huck, to his gritty credit, blasted back, but was immediately warned for holding Usyk’s head down.
Amazingly, Huck then crawled back into the round, landing a sneaky right hook — probably his best shot of the fight. Usyk answered, but Huck showed the savvy and fortitude that fueled his thirteen strait title defenses. A very close round, I gave it to Huck. Usyk 87-83.
The tenth began tactically, with Usyk still fresh, bouncing on his feet, and Huck trying to walk him down. But suddenly Huck slowed down, momentarily resting on the ropes. Usyk pounced, landing a stinging left hook that staggered the tough German. A blizzard of blows followed, with Usyk’s white gloves pouring through Huck’s guard.
Taking punishment and unable to throw, referee Byrd stepped in to save Huck from further punishment.
Huck fought a tough, clever, and resilient fight, as he has throughout his career. But Usyk is a special boxer; he possesses a rare talent and makes this brutal sport look elegant and, at times, easy. With more to come in the World Boxing Super Series, Oleksandr Usyk will have future opportunities to redefine excellence in the cruiserweight division.
The World Boxing Super Series Begins
The World Boxing Super Series Begins
By: Matthew N. Becher
Over the past weekend, the newly created World Boxing Super Series held its very first draft, for its very first tournament. The premise of the new tournament is an open competition for any professional boxer that is ranked in the top 15 of the major sanctioning bodies systems.
In theory the best fighters would face off against one another, until the last man was standing, thus making him the #1 boxer in that weight class. Simple. That is the easy part, the hard part is getting the best fighters to all participate in such a tournament, with everyone having different promoters and so forth. Fortunately, it seems to have worked out for the initial Cruiserweight Tournament.
The seeding of the tournament went as follows. The top 4 fighters were ranked 1-4 by the WBSS, with the four belt holders getting the top rankings.
1: Oleksander Usyk (WBO)
2: Murat Gassiev (IBF)
3: Mairis Briedis (WBC)
4: Yunier Dorticos (WBA)
Then from 1-4, the fighter was allowed to pick or draft his opponent from a group of 4 boxers, for their first round fight. (An exception was made for Gassiev, who had a mandatory against Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. That fight was picked for him)
The first round of the tournament looks like this.
Oleksander Usyk (12-0 10KO) v. Marco Huck (40-4-1 27KO)
Murat Gassiev (24-0 17KO) v. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (53-3-1 37KO)
Mairis Briedis (22-0 18KO) v. Mike Perez (22-2-1 14KO)
Yunier Dorticos (21-0 20KO) v. Dmitry Kudryashov (21-1 21KO)
Literally the best of the best in the Cruiserweight division will be competing against each other, until one is standing with all the belts, the inaugural Muhammad Ali Trophy and possibly a $1 million dollar bonus for advancing though semifinals and the championship round.
The tournament is slated to begin in early September and rap up by Mary of next year. The location of the fights have yet to be determined and will be placed in locations that match up well for each fight.
“To unify a division and spotlight a division that has clearly been underappreciated, even though the fights in the ring are always among the most exciting in the sport, irrespective of the division, that those four champions, if you look at the record – they are all undefeated. Most of their wins, the vast majority have come by knockout. So these are all big punchers, undefeated. I’m really excited,” said Richard Schaefer, the Chairman of the Americas for Comosa, who helped put this field together alongside fellow promoter Kalle Sauerland (the Chief Boxing Officer for Comosa).
This is a very exciting tournament for boxing and especially for the roll out of the new World Boxing Super Series. With formats like this, expect many division to start falling in line and possibly getting to see the best match up against the best in the near future.
The Ukrainian Connection of Lomachenko, Usyk and Gvozdyk!
The Ukrainian Connection of Lomachenko, Usyk and Gvozdyk!
By: Ken Hissner
This writer recently was talking to PA HOF trainer Fred “Herk” Jenkins outside of the 26th and Masters Recreation Gym in North Philadelphia. “I can’t believe there were three Ukrainian boxers shown on HBO,” said Jenkins. His boxer the USBA champion Jesse “Hard Work” Hart, 22-0 (18), was on the off HBO telecast’s undercard. Hart is the No. 1 WBO super middleweight contender.
This was on the April 8th Oxen Hill, MD, show. I told Jenkins “the Ukrainian fans were out in full cheering on their boxers. They not only had three boxers over HBO but on the undercard Egidijus Kavaliauskas, 16-0 (13), from Lithuania, who are all managed by Egis Klimas, the 2016 “Manager of the Year”. He also has the Russian Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, 30-1-1 (26), the former 3 belt light heavyweight champion and Ukrainian heavyweight Vyacheslav Glazkov, 21-1-1 (13). He manages 15 boxers including the April 8th main event super WBO featherweight champion Vasyl “High-Tech” Lomachenko, 8-1 (6), one of if not the best P4P boxers in the world and former 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist.
Jenkins has trained Olympic Gold Medalist David Reid who held the WBA super welterweight title, two-time heavyweight challenger Bryant “Bye Bye” Jennings, “Rockin” Rodney Moore, IBF champion Charlie “Choo Choo” Brown, Malik Scott, Tyrone Brunson, Zahir Raheem, Anthony “The Messenger” Thompson and many others. He needs to understand the European, Ukrainian and Russian boxers are hungry like the Americans were in the 40’s and 50’s.
“The Ukrainian Connection” is just something the Americans should accept and appreciate. They have many fans and are good for boxing!
HBO World Championship Boxing Results: Lomachenko Dazzles, Usyk and Gvozdyk Victorious
HBO World Championship Boxing Results: Lomachenko Dazzles, Usyk and Gvozdyk Victorious
By: William Holmes
The Theater at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland was the host site for tonight’s HBO World Championship Boxing card featuring three Ukrainians in the televised portion of the card.
This fight was sold out with an announced attendance of 2,828.
The venue is a new one for boxing and there doesn’t look like there’s a single bad seat in the house and the casino, which opened in December, looked exquisite.
The undercard featured several young victorious high level prospects such as Michael Reed, Patrick Harris, and Jesse Hart.
The opening bout of the HBO televised card was between 2012 US Olympian Mike Hunter (12-0) and 2012 Ukrainian Olympic Gold Medalist Aleksandr Usyk (11-0) for the WBO Cruiserweight Championship.
Usyk, as the other Ukrainian boxers, had a very large and vocal contingent in attendance.
Hunter took the center of the ring and Usyk jabbed from the outside in the opening round. Usyk’s first big punches of the night were some straight left hands in the first round, but Hunter’s jabs kept it close and it could have been scored for either boxer.
Hunter had a good second round and was the more active of the two boxers, but Usyk was taking the punches of Hunter well. Usyk pressed forward in the third round and he had the head of Hunter snapping backwards with a lot of his punches that landed in the fourth.
The fifth and sixth rounds were clear rounds for Usyk as he appeared to be wearing Hunter down and landed several hard, clean, combinations that get the crowd to its feet and whistling.
Usyk connected at a high percentage in the seventh round and had Hunter back pedaling. Usyk landed some heavy blows in the eighth round and looked like he was close to sending Hunter to the mat.
Hunter tried to go punch for punch with Usyk several times in the ninth and tenth rounds, but he didn’t have the power nor the accuracy of the Ukrainian boxer.
Hunter was fighting well, but likely needed a knockout in the final two rounds to pull out the victory, but he didn’t fight like he needed a stoppage and seemed content with throwing his jab while never really going for the knockout blow.
Instead it was Usyk who had Hunter staggered and wobbly by the ropes in the final round as he went for the stoppage. Usyk was able to score a knockdown in the final round and he followed it up with a furious rally in an attempt to stop the bout. Hunter somehow stayed on his feet and threw just enough punches to keep the referee from stopping the bout.
Aleksandr Usyk wins the decision with scores of 117-110 on all three scorecards.
The next bout of the night was between Yuniesky Gonzalez (18-2) and Oleksandr Gvozdyk (12-0) in the light heavyweight division.
Gvozdyk and Gonzalez felt each other out by exchanging jabs in the first round and both boxers landed some punches, but Gvozdyk was landing more combinations while Gonzalez was looking for the knockout punch.
Gonzalez spent most of the second round chasing Gvozdyk around the ring while Gvozdyk landed some eye opening combinations.
Gonzalez opened up the third round by throwing everything into his punches but was very wild. Gvozdyk stayed patient and landed short straight right hands that had Gonzalez hurt and followed it up with a combination that sent him to one knee. Gonzalez was able to get back to his feet and ate several hard combinations from Gvozdyk. Gonzalez eventually succumbed to the pressure of Gvozdyk and was sent crashing to the mat.
Gonzalez’s corner jumped up to the ring apron and stopped the bout. Oleksandr Gvozdyk wins by an impressive TKO at 2:59 of the third round.
The main event was between pound for pound superstar Vasyl Lomachenko (7-1) and Jason Sosa (20-1-4) for the WBO Super Featherweight World Championship.
Lomachenko’s legion of supporters greatly outnumbered the fans of Sosa in attendance.
Lomachenko and Sosa fought a near even first round with both boxer showing good head movement and angles.
Sosa did well in the second round and Lomachenko had to complain to the referee about a possible low blow and a head butt. Lomachenko ended the second round strong with a flurry and may have stolen it with that flurry.
Lomachenko showed off his fancy footwork in the third round but Sosa was landing and throwing some good punches of his own.
Lomachenko had a very good fourth round and was landing some incredible combinations from unique angles. He also had Sosa hurt with a hard straight left hand.
By the fifth round Lomachenko was landing his punches at will and they were coming in lightning quick. Lomachenko was toying with Sosa in the sixth round and landed several good body blows.
Sosa, despite his best efforts, couldn’t find his target in the seventh round as the reflexes of Lomachenko just appeared to be too much for him.
Lomachenko battered Sosa in the eighth round and looked close to knocking him down when Sosa’s back was against the ropes. Sosa though showed incredible heart and grit and was able to survive the unbelievably accurate combinations of Lomachenko.
Sosa attempted to bait Lomachenko in the ninth round by willingly eating some combinations and unleashing an occasional bomb, but he was unable to land any punches.
Sosa, who had taken a beating the entire fight except for the opening round, looked like a beaten down man at the end of the ninth round. He would not come out for the tenth round.
Vasyl Lomachenko wins by TKO at the end of the eighth round.
Undercard Quick Results:
Egidijus Kavaliauskas (16-0) defeated Ramses Agaton (17-3-3) by knockout at 2:58 of the fourth round in the welterweight division.
Patrick Harris (11-0) defeated Omar Garcia (6-7) by decision with scores of 80-72 on all three scorecards in the super lightweight division.
Jesse Hart (22-0) defeated Alan Campa (16-3) by TKO at 0:44 of the fifth round in the super middleweight division.
Michael Reed (22-0) defeated Reyes Sanchez (26-10-2) by decision with scores of 99-91 on all three scorecards in the super lightweight division.
HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Lomachenko vs. Sosa, Gvozdyk vs. Gonzalez, Usyk vs. Hunter
HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Lomachenko vs. Sosa, Gvozdyk vs. Gonzalez, Usyk vs. Hunter
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night in Oxon Hill, Maryland the Theater at the MGM National Harbor will be the host site for the next installment of HBO World Championships Boxing.
Three bouts will be televised, including a junior lightweight title fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Jason Sosa in the main event of the night, a light heavyweight fight between Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Yuniesky Gonzalez, and a cruiserweight title fight between Aleksandr Usyk and Mike Hunter.
The non-televised undercard will feature boxers such as Mike Reed, Patrick Harris, and Jesse Hart.
The following is a preview of the three televised bouts.
Oleksandr Gvozdyk (12-0) vs. Yunieski Gonzalez (18-2); Light Heavyweight
The opening bout of the night will be between Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Yunieski Gonzalez in the light heavyweight division.
Both boxers have deep amateur backgrounds. Gonzalez was a member of the Cuban Amateur Team and had a record of 345-27. Gvozdyk represented the Ukraine in the 2012 Summer Olympics and won the bronze medal.
Gvozdyk has never tasted defeat and will be about three inches taller than Gonzalez. Gvozdyk has also been incredibly active the past two years and four times in 2016 and four times in 2015. Gonzalez fought twice in 2016 and three times in 2015.
Gvozdyk has never tasted defeat and stopped ten of his opponents and currently has six straight stoppage wins. Gonzalez lost twice and went 2-2 in his past four fights.
Gvozdyk has already beaten the likes of Isaac Chilemba, Tommy Karpency, and Nadjib Mohammedi. Gonzalez doesn’t have the resume of Gvozdyk and has beaten the likes of Maxwell Amponsah and Jackson Junior. His losses were to jean pascal and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy.
Gonzalez is a good test for Gvozdyk and this is a rare fight where we see two notable international amateur stars face off in the ring early before their twentieth professional fight. But Gvozdyk is the better skilled boxer and has the bigger wins, he should emerge victorious.
Oleksandr Usyk (11-0) vs. Michael Hunter (12-0); WBO Cruiserweight Title
Oleksandr Usyk is one of the Ukraine’s most prized prospects and he will be stepping into the ring with a former United States Olympian.
Both boxers are undefeated in their professional careers. Usyk has stopped ten of his opponents and Hunter has stopped eight. Usyk will have a slight one inch height advantage but Hunter will have an inch and a half reach advantage.
Both boxers have deep amateur backgrounds, but Usyk experienced a lot of success on the international stage while Hunter experienced success on the national stage. Hunter is a former US National Amateur Champion and represented the United States in the 2012 Summer Olympics but failed to medal. Usyk was a gold medalist in the 2012 Olympic games.
Usyk has defeated the likes of Thabiso Mchunu, Krzystzof Glowacki, and Pedro Rodriguez. Surprisingly, all of his wins thus far in his career have come against opponents with winning records.
Hunter has yet to face any significant opposition and has defeated the likes of Isiah Thomas and Phil Williams.
This should be an easy win for Usyk, despite the fact his opponent has a good amateur background.
Vasyl Lomachenko (7-1) vs. Jason Sosa (20-1-4); WBO Junior Lightweight Title
Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko is considered by many to be one of the best, if not the best, pound for pound boxer in the world. He fought for a world title in only his second professional fight and is a two time Olympic Gold Medalist and a two time World Amateur Champion.
His opponent, Jason Sosa, has more of a Rocky upbringing in the sport of boxing than Lomachenko. Sosa has no notable amateur achievements on the international stage and was born and raised in poverty stricken Camden, New Jersey. He won a world title with an upset stoppage victory over then WBA Super Featherweight World Champion Javier Fortuna and is now in the biggest fight of his life.
Lomachenko will have about a one inch height advantage on Sosa but will be giving up about an inch and a half in reach. Lomachenko’s lone loss was a disputed split decision loss to an overweight Orlando Salido early on in his career. He has since destroyed every other opponent he has faced.
He has already defeated the likes of Nicholas Walters, Roman Martinez, Suriya Tatakhun, Gary Russell Jr., and Jose Ramirez before he even competed in his tenth professional fight. Lomachenko has stopped five of his opponents.
Sosa has fifteen knockouts to his credit and one stoppage loss. His lone loss was to Tre’Sean Wiggins in 2010, early on in Sosa’s career. He has defeated the likes of Javier Fortuna, Stephen Smith, Jerry Belmontes, Michael Brooks, and Angel Ocasio. Sosa did have a disputed draw with Nicholas Walters, but many felt he lost that fight.
Jason Sosa is a good gritty boxer that consistently puts on entertaining bouts. He has the heart of a champion, but Lomachenko is on a different level than Sosa and that should be immediately apparent.
It’s hard to envision a scenario where Sosa gives Lomachenko problems and this should be a relatively easy bout for Lomachenko.
Povetkin Hits a New Low in Moscow; In L.A., Hopkins Couldn’t Stay Away
Povetkin Hits a New Low in Moscow; In L.A., Hopkins Couldn’t Stay Away
By: Eric Lunger
It was a weekend of regret, as two bouts on different continents made a mockery of professional boxing. Karl Marx once observed that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. In Russia, Alexander Povetkin, by failing PED screening for a second time in less than a year, made a farce of whatever governing body sanctioned his heavyweight bout. And at the Forum in Los Angeles, veteran Bernard Hopkins was literally knocked out of the ring for the second time is his career, in what was supposed to be some sort of triumphant farewell/ retirement fight.
The Povetkin debacle was hard to fathom from the moment stories broke that he had failed another drug test. Seven months ago Povetkin was caught with meldonium in his veins, a now well-known PED employed systematically, it seems, by Russian athletes. There is something particularly vile about drug cheating in boxing: its one thing if the Russian bobsled team gets a faster start, and quite another thing when a heavyweight boxer has an unfair advantage. Boxing is dangerous enough as it is. Bermane Stiverne, Povetkin’s opponent, had worked very hard to position himself back in line for a WBC title shot, having lost a tough twelve rounder to Deontay Wilder in January of 2015. It also takes guts to enter the lion’s den by traveling to Moscow to face Povetkin in front of a home crowd, so imagine Bermane’s frustration and disgust when he awoke, on fight day no less, to the news that the WBC had withdrawn its sanction for the bout, which, by the way, is the only ray of light in this dark hole.
It appears that the WBC did the right thing immediately by withdrawing their sanction for the bout. Povetkin was on a voluntary random testing regime, a result of his previous violation under the WBC, which is trying to implement a rigorous anti-doping regime by partnering with VADA, the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. Bizarrely, Povetkin was immediately provided with a replacement opponent, Johann Duhaupas of France, though no one knows why he was in Russia and available. It takes no giant leap of imagination to suppose that World of Boxing, the Russian promotion company that represents Povetkin, was holding Duhaupas in reserve for just such an eventuality. And to end the whole sordid story, Povetkin knocked out Duhaupas in the sixth round, with a vicious and presumably steroid enhanced left hook. Congratulations to a drug cheat.
The Hopkins vs. Smith fight was farce of a different nature, less malevolent but just sad. Sad to see a legend of the ring end his career on such an unnecessarily low note. After being dismantled and slightly embarrassed by Sergey Kovalev in November of 2014, Hopkins just couldn’t stay away. He had something to prove to himself, I suppose, because I can’t imagine anyone in the entire boxing world would have begrudged him his retirement at that point. So Saturday night, after needlessly disrespecting Joe Smith, Jr. at the prefight press conference, we were treated to the ridiculous executioner show, the silly hoods and fake axes, etc. I guess I’m just not a fan of the elaborate ring walk and masks and costumes. And the fight itself was hardly a fight, rather a boxing exhibition – and a bad one at that. Hopkins’s footwork was slow and ponderous, and the head butt in round two looked to me to be intentional, a dirty and unbecoming foul that was depressing to see from such a great champion. I don’t want to bash Hopkins, and I think I can understand how hard it must be for a proud, professional athlete to finally give up a sport that has defined his identity for so long, but when Smith bludgeoned him through the ropes and out of the ring, it felt as though boxing itself had ejected Hopkins from the sport. Only a man as competitive as Bernard Hopkins would argue that Smith pushed him through the ropes. But then, only a man as competitive as Bernard Hopkins would be prize fighting at age 51.
There were several good fights this weekend, and congratulations to Oleksandr Usyk, Joseph Diaz, Jr., and Sullivan Barrera, all of whom put on excellent shows and won technically fine bouts. But shame on Povetkin, and a sad farewell to Hopkins.
HBO World Championship Boxing Results: Usyk and Diaz Victorious, Joe Smith Stops Bernard Hopkins and Sends Him Tumbling Outside the Ring
HBO World Championship Boxing Results: Usyk and Diaz Victorious, Joe Smith Stops Bernard Hopkins and Sends Him Tumbling Outside the Ring
By: William Holmes
The legendary Bernard Hopkins ended his long and illustrious career tonight at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
Three bouts were televised by HBO and five of tonight’s six participants were making their HBO debut.
The opening bout of the night was between Oleksandr Usyk (10-0) and Thabiso Mchunu (17-2) for the WBO Cruiserweight Title.
Both boxers came out in a southpaw stance, but Usyk appeared to be the bigger and longer boxer. However, Usyk had trouble with the short height of Mchunu and stuck to mainly throwing his jab in the opening two rounds. Mchunu showed surprisingly good counter punching and was able to land some lead right hooks and stiff jabs and took an early lead.
At the start of the third round Mchunu landed seventeen punches to Usyk’s sixteen, but Usyk picked up his volume of punches and began to look very comfortable in the ring by the fourth round. His volume and accuracy was increasing.
Usyk landed a good right uppercut in the fifth round and was landing more power shots. He scored a knockdown in the sixth round after landing multiple combinations that forced Mchunu to take a knee. Mchunu was able to survive the round but Usyk domination and volume continued into the seventh and eighth rounds.
Usyk opened up the ninth round by landing some good body shots on Mchunu in the opening minute and it opened up some avenues for Usyk to land some power shots upstairs. Usyk landed another blistering combination and it forced Mchunu to take a knee. Usyk comes right at Mchunu when he gets back to his feet and a fierce exchange occurred with both boxers landing power shots, but it was Mchunu who goes down again and the referee stops the fight.
Oleksandr Usyk wins by TKO at 1:53 of the ninth round.
The next bout of the night was between Joseph Diaz (22-0) and Horacio Garcia (30-1-1) in the featherweight division.
Diaz, a southpaw, landed the first jab of the night and kept a safe distance and found his range early on. Garcia landed a good counter right but was met with a two punch combination from Diaz. Diaz landed more punches than Garcia in the opening frame, but Garcia was able to land some hard punches of his own.
Diaz had a strong second and third rounds and nearly doubled the number of power shots landed. He was landing crisp counter shots on a forward pressing Garcia and looked like an experienced veteran in the ring.
Garcia had a decent fourth round and caught Garcia with some right hand power shots when his back was against the ropes, but Diaz was able to slow Garcia down with hard hooks to the body and closed out the round well with quick combinations.
Diaz stepped on the gas pedal in the fifth round and was able to impress the crowd with his blistering hand speed. Diaz’s dominance continued into the sixth round and he was comfortably ahead on the scorecards.
Diaz simple outclassed Garcia by the seventh round and looked like he had no chance at winning the bout. He was able to land a few combinations on Diaz with his back against the ropes, but Diaz was able to fight out of the corner and quickly swing the momentum back to his favor.
Garcia needed a knockout in the final two rounds to win and he tried to press the action, but that knockout never came.
Diaz wins an impressive decision with scores of 100-90 on all three scorecards.
The main event of the evening was between Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2) and Joe Smith Jr. (22-1) in the light heavyweight division.
Smith missed with a wild right hook early in the first round and Hopkins immediately tied up. Hopkins connected with an early lead right but Smith counters with a right hand to the temple of Hopkins that appears to have momentarily stunned him. Smith was landing some hard shots on Hopkins as the round came to an end, and for the first time in his career Hopkins looked old inside the ring.
Smith pressed forward in the second round and Hopkins tied up when they got close, which led to a clash of heads that opened up a cut on the top of Smith’s head. Hopkins was able to land a sharp counter right hand this round, but Smith was the more active fighter.
The third round was a close round, but Smith was missing more of his punches than in the previous two rounds and Hopkins landed a few counter right hands.
Hopkins had a very good fourth round and even landed some combinations on the a seemingly increasingly frustrated Joe Smith Jr.
Hopkins started off the fifth round strong by tagging Smith with straight right hands as he chased Hopkins around the ring. However, Smith hard a good moment in the fifth round when he dug in some heavy hooks into the body of Hopkins and followed it with a right hook to the chin of Hopkins that elicited a roar from the crowd.
Hopkins missed with a wild left in the opening seconds of the sixth round and Smith landed a left to the body and Hopkins responded with a right uppercut to the chin of Smith. Smith pressed the action in the sixth round and was able to land some good shots.
Hopkins landed some clean counter punches in the seventh round but Smith was able to land some good punches to the body.
Smith had Hopkins backing up in the eighth round and landed a combination, including a stunning right hand, that hurt Hopkins and had him tumbling outside of the ring. Hopkins was helped to his feet by some people outside, but failed to get back into the ring after the count of twenty.
Hopkins was complaining that he was pushed outside of the ring to all who would hear him, but the fight was waived off and ruled in favor of Joe Smith Jr.
The crowd was not happy with the result, but Joe Smith Jr. wins by TKO at 0:53 of the eighth round.