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IBF Orders Jose Uzcategui-Caleb Plant Super Middleweight Title Fight


By Jake Donovan

Jose Uzcategui has served nearly all of 2018 as a super middleweight titlist despite having yet to make a single defense.

The International Boxing Federation (IBF) is ready to change that status.

The New Jersey-based sanctioning body has ordered Uzcategui to make his first mandatory defense, naming unbeaten Caleb Plant as the leading contender to the throne. A 30-day free negotiation period has been ordered between the two camps, with a December 5 purse bid hearing set aside in the event they cannot come to terms.


Photo Credit: Premier Boxing Champions Twitter Account

Representatives for Uzcategui and Plant were notified by the IBF earlier in the month.

“(Uzcategui’s) mandatory defense is due on or before January 5, 2019,” the IBF reminded Uzcategui’s promoter, Fernando Beltran in an official letter—of which a copy was obtained by BoxingInsider.com—to representatives for both sides. “The leading available contender is Caleb Plant…represented by TGB Promotions.

“Negotiations should commence immediately and be concluded by December 5, 2018. In the event that you are unable to come to an amiable agreement with Plant, the IBF will call for a purse bid.”

Uzcategui (28-2, 23KOs) claimed the interim title in an 8th round stoppage of Andre Dirrell in their rematch this past March. The Mexico-based Venezuelan—who turns 28 later this year—was elevated to full titlist after James DeGale vacated the belt this past summer in lieu of a mandatory title defense.

The turn of events was sweet redemption for Uzcataegui, who was cheated out of the title in his first fight with Dirrell last May. He was winning the bout and on his way to a stoppage win when he was suddenly disqualified for an official ruling of hitting Dirrell after the bell to end the 8th round. The sequence prompted a brief riot, infamously sparked by Dirrell’s uncle and head trainer Leon Lawson who attempted to sucker punch Uzcategui in his corner.

Lawson fled from the scene and was a wanted fugitive before eventually surrendering to authorities on an outstanding warrant.

Despite realizing his dream of winning a major title, it’s been hurry up and wait for Uzcategui. A mandatory title defense was desired, but Plant (17-0, 10KOs) has been out for most of the year while recovering from a hand injury. The Tennessee product hasn’t fought since a 12-round win over Rogelio Medina this past February.

Meanwhile, Uzcategui’s only piece of ring action since becoming full titlist came in the form of a stay-busy non-title fight this past September. It was a well-served purpose, easily outboxing Argentina’s Ezequil Maderna over 10 rounds in their ESPN+ streamed main event.

Uzcategui is co-promoted by Top Rank, which provides him with a major network outlet in ESPN. However, he is represented by his main promoter, Zanfer Promotions in this current round of negotiations.

Plant is represented by TGB Promotions but technically a free agent. His only contracted affiliation is through manager Luis DeCubas and adviser Al Haymon, fighting under the latter’s Premier Boxing Champions’ umbrella, which has lucrative long-term deals with Showtime and Fox.

Given that, the eventual clash will undoubtedly benefit from major televised coverage.

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Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ Results: Ancajas Receives Disputed Draw, Uzcategui Decisions Maderna


By: William Holmes

Top Rank put on a fight card live from the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California on the ESPN+ streaming service.

The undercard featured several prospects and contenders, including Genesis Servania, Askhat Ualikhanov, Janibek Alimkhanuly, and Joshua Greer Jr.

The opening bout of the main card was between Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-1) and Alejandro Santiago (16-2-4) for the IBF Junior Bantamweight Title. Ancajas looks at Manny Pacquiao as a mentor and is the longest reigning current champion in the junior bantamweight division.

Ancajas, a southpaw, was the taller fighter of the two and had moderate success with the jab in the opening round, and was pressing the action in the opening half of the second, but a right uppercut to the chin by Santiago in the second led to a fierce round ending exchange.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Twitter Account

The action picked up in the third and fourth rounds, with Santiago often getting the better of their exchanges. Santiago landed a blistering right hand in the fourth round that was the best punch of the fight to this point.

Santiago landed several hard shots in the fifth round but Ancajas may have stolen the sixth and seventh rounds with a consistent and accurate jab, but none of his shots appeared to hurt Santiago.

In the eighth round compubox stats showed that Ancajas had landed more power shots, but Santiago’s had a more noticeable effect on his opponent. Santiago’s overhand right found it’s home several times in the ninth round, and even though he was tagged more often in the tenth, he still appeared to be landing the more damaging shots.

The final two rounds were close, with the straight left of Ancajas finding its home in the eleventh and Santiago doing better damage in close in the final round, but could have rationally been scored for either fight.

The final scores were 116-112 Ancajas, 118-111 Santiago, and 114-114 for a draw. The scores were met with a chorus of boos from the crowd.

The main event was between Jose Uzcategui (27-2) and Ezequiel Maderna (26-4) in the super middleweight division.

Uzcategui looked like the stronger fighter early on and had Maderna fighting of of his back food. Maderna was able to land his check left hook early on, but Uzcategui was clearly landing the harder punches.

Uzcategui was walking throw the shots of Maderna in the second and third round while landing heavy blows to the head and chin. In the middle of the third round he had a 31-11 edge in power shots.

Uzcategui pressed the action in the fourth and fifth rounds, and didn’t appear to be worried about the power of Maderna at all as he at times switched to a southpaw stance.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Twitter Account

Uzcategui had clear control in the sixth and seventh rounds, but was met with some derision from the fans when the fighters tied up instead of willingly exchange. Maderna, to his credit, was taking some heavy shots form Uzcategui but was still fighting back.

Uzcategui appeared to step off the gas pedal in the eighth and coasted through the round, but he picked up his aggression in the final two rounds, landing heavy shots at will from all angles, but Maderna was able to stay standing and survive.

The final scores were 98-92, 100-90, and 100-90 for Jose Uzcategui.

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Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ Preview: Uzcategui vs. Maderna


By: Michael Kane

Jose Uzcategui has his his first outing since becoming full IBF World Super Middleweight champion when he takes on Ezequiel Maderna in a 10 round non title bout.

Uzcategui (27-2 23 KO) who won the interim title by defeating Andre Dirrell back in March by KO in what was a rematch after their first fight ended in a disqualification loss for Uzcategui after he knocked out Dirrell as the bell was sounding.


Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account

Uzcategui was made full champion after James DeGale relinquished his belt, seemingly not wanting to face Uzcategui.

Maderna won the Argentinian title in his last outing in January, beating Martin Fidel Rios by unanimous decision.

Expect the big hitting champion Uzcategui to carry on winning probably by KO.

Also on the main card is Filipino boxer Jerwin Ancajas making another defence of his IBF junior bantamweight title. Ancajas (30-1-1 20KO) is the longest current reigning junior bantamweight champion. He will defend for the 6th time against Argentinian Alejandro Santiago.

Santiago competed for the WBO NABO super flyweight title in his last bought against Jose Martinez however the bout ended in a draw.

This match up is a big step up in calibre of opposition that Santiago will have faced. Expect Ancajas to win comfortably. Again by KO.

As part of the press conference on Wednesday, Uzcategui said, “Since the beginning of my career, I have never underestimated anybody. I know that this is a great opportunity for Maderna. I know that he’s very hungry. He knows the opportunity that he has in front of him.

“I am going to try and put on a great performance for everybody. I know that I’m in a tough division but I believe I am the best in division. I don’t see anybody coming and beating me.”

Maderna said, ” I recognise that Jose Uzcategui is a great champion. I know his background, that he has a tremendous amateur career. That’s why he’s the champion, I can say that about me too. I also had a great amateur career. I fought in the 2008 Olympics.

“I’m going to try and do my best, especially since this is my first opportunity in the United States.”

Ancajas said, “The last fight, we weren’t that impressive. This time, we trained hard and long. We do things that we didn’t do before, and we’ll try our best to come up with a better performance this time.”

Santiago said, “This means a lot yo me. I turned pro 8 years ago. I’ve been training really hard for this fight. I am going to do my best to take this title with us.

” I feel very comfortable. I don’t feel any pressure. If we look at my record, I’ve fought plenty of giys in their backyards. I prepare myself for 12 rounds. I won’t go in their looking for the knockout. I’m going to go in there and try and win rounds.”

The event takes place at the home of NBA’s Golden State Warriors, Oakland’s Oracle Arena tonight. You can catch the action on ESPN +.

Full card:

ESPN+ (10:30 p.m. ET)

• Jose Uzcategui 172.6 lbs vs. Ezequiel Maderna 172 lbs
(Light Heavyweight – 10 Rounds)

• Jerwin Ancajas 114.2 lbs vs. Alejandro Santiago 114.6 lbs
(Ancajas’ IBF Junior Bantamweight title – 12 Rounds)

ESPN+ (7:30 p.m. ET)

• Rico Ramos 127.4 lbs vs. Daniel Olea 123.2 lbs
(Featherweight – 8 Rounds)

• Genesis Servania 123.6 lbs vs. Carlos Carlson 123.2 lbs
(Featherweight – 10/8Rounds)

• Joshua Greer Jr. 119.6 lbs vs. Giovanni Delgado 122 lbs
(Super Bantamweight – 10/8 Rounds)

• Askhat Ualikhanov 141.8 lbs vs. Angel Hernandez 146.6 lbs
(Welterweight – 8/6 Rounds)

• Janibek Alimkhanuly 163.6 lbs vs. Carlos Galvan 162.6 lbs
(Super Middleweight – 8/6 Rounds)

• Christopher Zavala 126.4 lbs vs. Dominic Blanco 129.4 lbs
(Super Featherweight – 4 Rounds)

• Derry Noble 117 lbs vs. Edson Noria 116.8 lbs
(Bantamweight – 4 Rounds)

• Justin Cardona 136 lbs vs. Arturo Izaguirre 138 lbs
(Super Lightweight – 4 Rounds)

• Rene Moreno 131 lbs vs. Bacilio Monterroso 128.6 lbs
(Lightweight – 4 Rounds)

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Anthony Dirrell Speaks Out On Last Saturday Night


Anthony Dirrell Speaks Out On Last Saturday Night
By: Sean Crose

Boxing once again received some negative attention last Saturday night when chaos ensued after the Andre Dirrell-Jose Uzcategui super middleweight bout in Maryland. Dirrell was sent down and out by a punch that landed after the bell. Uzcategui was disqualified, but Dirrell’s uncle and trainer, Leon Lawson Jr, sucker punched Uzcategui twice in the fight’s aftermath. He’s now being sought by Maryland police. There was also an incident, however, involving Dirrell’s sibling, Anthony, for video shows the younger Dirrell brother pushing an individual in the post-fight madness. The man who was pushed is said to have been a Maryland commissioner. Needless to say, word was out that the police were quite interested in Anthony’s actions that night, as well as his uncles’.

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Anthony Dirrell himself, however, claims the police weren’t interested in him at all last weekend. “They wasn’t even looking for me,” Dirrell said over the phone. “They never interviewed me or nothing.” Dirrell even claimed that the police were rather helpful after the madness that transpired at the MGM Grand National Arena. “They escorted me to my brother’s room,” he claimed. Dirrells’ assertions coincide with those of his representative, Kira Kusky, who I had spoken with earlier in the day. “He is not in any jeopardy,” she said when I asked about a police investigation. “No, not at all.”

And so Anthony Dirrell looks clear to meet Callum Smith next September in California for the WBC world super middleweight title. There was word that the championship battle would be put off due to legal matters stemming from last Saturday, but both Dirrell and his representative assured me that wouldn’t be the case. “His next fight is still on,” Kusky said, a fact Dirrell himself reiterated when we spoke a short time later. “I don’t see how (the fight could be off),” he claimed. “Nobodies’ looking for me.” It’s clear, then, that Dirrell and his team feel it is safe to focus on the talented and undefeated Smith without being impeded by legal matters.

As for older brother, Andre – who found himself on the mat after the bell last Saturday – Dirrell claims he’s doing well. “My bother’s fine,” he said. The saga of Leon Lawson Jr, uncle and trainer, has yet to be resolved (he’s still wanted by police, after all), yet it looks like both Dirrell brothers themselves are free to carry on with their respective careers. Before the call ended I asked Anthony if he’d like to, through his perspective, go over the events at the MGM Grand National Arena. “No,” he responded. “I’m not talking about that.”

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Boxing’s Dark Saturday


Boxing’s Dark Saturday
By: Sean Crose

Look, boxing is a rough sport. Always has been. Always will be. Nothing gets much darker than when fighters become permanently damaged or even killed.

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There’s other less than savory matters, however, that often abound in and around the sweet science. For years, the sport was heavily under mafia influence. What’s more, bad decisions on the part of judges still pop up on a regular basis. Worse yet, modern fans are forever being taken for saps (Mayweather-McGregor is – or will be – in a sense, only the most recent example). And then, of course, there’s the miscellaneous, off the wall stuff. Like the time an in-ring riot erupted immediately after a Riddick Bowe-Andrew Golota heavyweight throwdown.

This past Saturday presented just such a scenario, when Jose Uzcategui was disqualified for hitting Andre Dirrell after the bell, an act which subsequently sent Dirrell to the mat. In response to said offense, Dirrell’s trainer and uncle, Leon Lawson Jr, absolutely cold cocked an unsuspecting Uzcategui twice. To make matters all the more insane, the entire incident was recorded for the entire world to see. Police are now looking for Lawson, who will be charged with some pretty serious stuff after such a violent assault. The trainer, who slipped out of the MGM Grand National Arena after the attack, is still essentially on the lam, as a Sunday phone call to the Saint George’s County Police Department presented no further developments.

Again, boxing is a rough sport. What’s more, physical violence, which is what boxing deals in, can lead to exceedingly high emotions. Still, one simply does not get to step up to an unsuspecting person and repeatedly punch that person in the face. It’s illegal and it’s also wrong.

Will Lawson be banned from boxing, as some are suggesting? Will he end up doing jail time? Maybe. Maybe not. This is boxing, after all, where nothing can be taken for granted, either in or out of the ring.

Yet the dark cloud that hung over the sport on Saturday didn’t begin and end with Lawson. Up in Madison Square Garden, Terence Crawford absolutely beat the hell out of an overmatched Felix Diaz later that same evening. Fair enough, you might say, Diaz knew what he was getting himself into. And while that’s true, this author still found Crawford’s behavior unsavory. Mocking an opponent is part of the psychological warfare of boxing.

Mocking an opponent while in the act of deforming that opponent’s face, however, is sadistic and unacceptable. Oh, it’s legally permissible. But it is – or should be – socially unacceptable, nonetheless.

Boxing’s been having a great year. Here’s hoping the terrible moments keep to a minimum.

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