Category Archives: Boxing

WBC orders Luke Campbell-Ryan Garcia fight for interim lightweight title

The WBC has ordered a fight between Luke Campbell and Ryan Garcia for the organization’s interim lightweight title.

This occasion became available after the WBC’s top-rated lightweight, Javier Fortuna, opted to face Jorge Linares on Aug. 28. Campbell and Garcia are ranked second and third by the WBC, respectively.

“I’m finally getting to fight a southpaw my favorite fighters to fight! Bring it on luke Campbell,” Garcia wrote on Twitter. The entire WBC lightweight title scenario is a bit of a quagmire. The WBC “franchise” champion is Vasiliy Lomachenko, the organization’s regular champion is Devin Haney, and Fortuna-Linares will be contested for the WBC’s “Diamond” title.

It’s not clear just how this will ultimately be cleared up, or if the winner of Campbell-Garcia will face any of the other champions in the foreseeable future.

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While it’s an enticing matchup on paper, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this fight is destined to happen.

Both sides must come to an agreement, and recently Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs) and his promotional company, Golden Boy Promotions, have been at odds. The popular young prizefighter was arranged to kick off Golden Boy’s return to action on July 4, but was unable to come to terms.

It has become a very public spat between the two parties, who are meeting later this week, according to Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions.

“We just got the letter today [from the WBC], so we’re in the process of talking to Ryan,” Gomez said. “We’re going to talk to his team, we’re going to see what he wants to do.

“That’s one of the guys he’s said repeatedly that he wants to fight,” Gomez said regarding Campbell.

First and foremost, it seems as though the relationship between Garcia and Golden Boy has to be mended. “We’re meeting with team Ryan later this week, most likely Friday,” Gomez said.

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Vergil Ortiz on Golden Boy’s first card during coronavirus pandemic

Highly regarded welterweight Vergil Ortiz will face veteran Samuel Vargas on July 24 in Golden Boy’s first fight card since the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to boxing events across the world in mid-March.

The card will take place at the Fantasy Springs Casino Resort in Indio, California.

“We’re just excited, happy to be back with our fighters,” said Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions. “Especially a guy like Vergil who was scheduled to fight before the shutdown. He was 10 days out from fighting, so I’m just happy he gets to fight again, and we’re back at it.”

For the time being, Golden Boy’s cards in California will be held without an audience.

Ortiz (15-0, 15 KOs) is considered one of boxing’s best young fighters. The 22-year-old native of Grand Prairie, Texas, has stopped everyone he has faced thus far as a professional. In 2019, Ortiz stopped Mauricio Herrera in three rounds, and then Antonio Orozco in six.

Ortiz and Vargas were initially organized to clash on March 28 at The Forum in Inglewood, California, before that card was canceled. “I’m very thankful and excited to be headlining the first Golden Boy event after the quarantine,” said Ortiz, who has been training with Robert Garcia in Riverside for the past few weeks.

“I’m happy that it’s still with the same opponent, so basically we’re picking up where we left off. It’s going to be a tough fight, and it’ll be a great way to kick off the year for me.”

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Ortiz is facing a seasoned veteran in Vargas (31-5-2, 14 KOs), who has faced Amir Khan, Luis Collazo, Danny Garcia and Errol Spence over the course of his career.

“I think that everything happens for a reason,” said Vargas, who has been in Las Vegas in recent weeks, preparing for this fight. “I think this time off benefited me. I’m ready to upset the world. I believe I can come out with the win. The world is a weird place right now. The show will be different. There will be no supporters, but I have no doubt I’m going to win.”

As Golden Boy officials started to put this card together, they found a rather limited pool of options to draw from, in terms of selecting boxers.

“There’s a lot of guys that just weren’t ready,” Gomez said. “They hadn’t been to the gym because [gyms] were closed, they didn’t train, do road work, sparring or anything. Now it’s a little better, but we’re not in the clear yet.”

The co-feature arranged for July 24 is a 10-round lightweight contest between Hector Tanajara (19-0, 5 KOs) and Mercito Gesta (32-3-3, 17 KOs). Other fights include an eight-round middleweight fight between Shane Mosley Jr. (15-3, 9 KOs) and Jeremy Ramos (11-8, 2 KOs), a women’s junior flyweight fight between Seniesa Estrada (18-0, 7 KOs) and Jacky Calvo (12-5-2, 1 KO), and a clash between prospects Hector Valdez and Evan Sanchez.

There’s no indication when spectators will be allowed back into any sporting events, and from Golden Boy’s perspective, the hope at this point is just to try to get the first few cards off the ground smoothly.

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Gabriel Flores defeats Josec Ruiz by unanimous decision

Blue-chip lightweight prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. continued his development with a one-sided unanimous decision triumph over Josec Ruiz on Thursday at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

All three judges scored it 100-89 for Flores (18-0, 6 KOs), who started quickly and outboxed Ruiz (21-3-3, 14 KOs) the rest of the way.

In the second round, Flores, 20, stunned Ruiz with a counter left hook and followed with a right cross that sent him down. It looked as though Flores might score an eye-opening knockout, but he eventually had to settle for a decision victory.

While Flores dominated every round, it was a solid learning experience for him. He got some quality rounds while facing a veteran who had never been knocked down coming into this contest.

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Flores, who recently relocated to Las Vegas from his hometown of Stockton, California, is a young fighter with a high boxing IQ and has a keen understanding of ring generalship.

Blessed with quick hands and great footwork, he is relying on his skills from the outside to win fights. Now he is waiting for some physical maturity so he can finish fights more emphatically.

After Thursday’s victory, Flores, coming off a 117-day layoff, exposed that he had suffered a lower back injury during a training session.

“It happened in my last sparring [session],” Flores said. “My lower back, it hurts severely. I feel probably 50 percent, with the punches I could’ve thrown tonight. I wasn’t tired, at all.”

Despite the victory, Flores wasn’t totally satisfied with his effort.

“Tonight was the night to show everybody what a great performance was, and I didn’t get to show them,” Flores said. “Fifty percent of me, that’s what I showed tonight.”

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Caraballo cuts half pound late to make weight

Boxing is set to return to Las Vegas on Tuesday as all 10 boxers on the five-fight card weighed in effectively. However, there was some weigh-in drama ahead of the first boxing event in the city since Feb. 22.

Headliner Shakur Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs) weighed in at 130 pounds, but his adversary in the 10-round fight, Felix Caraballo (13-1-2, 9 KOs), missed on his first attempt, coming in at 130.5 pounds. Per the rules of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Caraballo had an hour to make the weight and he was able to cut the final half pound to hit the 130-pound limit.

This is a non-title bout for the WBO 126-pound champion Stevenson, who has yet to make his first title defense since winning the belt in October.

He was arranged to defend that title on March 14 in New York City versus Miguel Marriaga, but that fight was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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After Mikaela Mayer tested positive and her fight was removed on the card, the heavyweight match between Jared Anderson (3-0, 3 KOs) and Johnny Langston (8-2, 3 KOs) was elevated into its spot. Anderson weighed at 236 pounds and Langston was 218.3 pounds.

Here’s a look at the rest of the card: Heavyweight: Guido Vianello (6-0, 6 KOs, 239.25 pounds) vs. Donald Haynesworth (16-3-1, 14 KOs, 294.5 pounds), Middleweight: Quatavious Cash (11-2, 7 KOs, 160.5 pounds) vs Calvin Metcalf (10-3-1, 3 KOs, 158.3 pounds), Featherweight: Robeisy Ramirez (2-1, 2 KOs, 126 pounds) vs. Yeuri Andujar (5-3, 3 KOs, 125 pounds).

During this weigh-in, everyone inside the facility wore masks. The fighters wore foot coverings as they stepped on the scale. The scale was then sprayed and wiped with disinfectant after each bout was set. There were no faceoffs and the boxers posed for pictures on stage several feet from one another.

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California board passes rules for boxing return

The California State Athletic Commission passed emergency regulations Friday with an eye to restarting combat events in the summer months.

The commission met via video conference Friday morning and its guidelines were sent to the California Office of Administrative Law.

“When that process is finished, we’ll start,” said Andy Foster, the CSAC’s executive director.

Among the key parts of these regulations, according to Foster, is that, “the fighters will be tested between two and three weeks before their event for the COVID-19 virus. If they’re clear, we’ll accept them on the bout card and we’ll approve the fights if they meet the other criteria.

Foster acknowledged that weighing heavily on the committee’s minds was Jacare Souza, who was scratched from the UFC 249 card in Jacksonville, Florida, on the weekend of May 9 for testing positive for the coronavirus.

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“We learned from that event, and I want to be clear, that’s not to put down the UFC one bit, they had a great plan and everything,” he said. “We learned by watching that, just how contagious this virus could be. So we want to mitigate that risk.”

Everyone working corners will be required to wear a mask and surgical gloves at ringside, but there will be no limit on how many people can be in the facility on fight night.

It’s not clear who will have the first show in California, but Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions, told ESPN, “Our plan, right now, we would like to go July 4th, and we’re working towards that. We’re doing a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure that all the right guidelines and protocols are going to be followed, and that the commission is going to be satisfied with all our efforts.”

Boxing has been at a standstill throughout the world since mid-March. Foster says he has received abundant calls during the past couple of months from those in the business wondering when they could start programing shows.

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Saucedo-Fredrickson to top June Vegas card

The Alex Saucedo-Sonny Fredrickson fight has been rearranged.

BoxingScene.com has learned that Saucedo and Fredrickson will square off in a 10-round junior welterweight bout June 30 at an undetermined location in Las Vegas. ESPN is expected to televise the Saucedo-Fredrickson fight as part of a show that’ll air on a Tuesday night.

Saucedo (29-1, 19 KOs) and Fredrickson (21-2, 14 KOs) were supposed to square off April 25 in a non-televised fight on the Naoya Inoue-Johnriel Casimero undercard at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., Saucedo’s promoter, is in the process of completing a deal to stage a series of cards in June and July at an MGM Resorts International property in Las Vegas.

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The 25-year-old Saucedo knocked out Rod Salka (24-6, 4 KOs) in the first round of his only fight since Maurice Hooker, then the WBO junior welterweight champion, stopped him in the seventh round in November 2018 in Oklahoma City, Saucedo’s hometown. Fredrickson, who’s also 25, lost a 10-round majority decision to Samuel Teah (17-3-1, 7 KOs) in his last fight, November 14 in Washington, D.C.

Saucedo-Fredrickson will be part of the fourth week of fights for Arum’s company upon its return from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pending approval from the Nevada State Athletic Commission at its next meeting Wednesday morning, Top Rank will return with an ESPN card June 9.

Shakur Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs), the WBO featherweight champion, is projected to headline that show, which also will take place on a Tuesday night. Stevenson’s opponent hasn’t been solidified, but whomever it is will face Stevenson in a 10-round, 130-pound, non-title fight.

Arum told BoxingScene.com on Tuesday that Top Rank will return with three ESPN shows that second week of June. Cards also are being prepared for June 11 and June 13, a Thursday night and Saturday night, respectively. 

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Herring set for July title defense in Las Vegas

WBO junior lightweight titleholder Jamel Herring is set to return on July 2 in Las Vegas, headlining an ESPN card in a title defense versus an opponent to be named.

The 34-year-old ex-Olympian Herring (21-2, 10 KO) won the 130-pound belt in May 2019 by defeating Masayuki Ito, and made a successful first title defense in November, out-pointing mandatory contender Lamont Roach Jr.

Herring was set to face Carl Frampton this spring, but COVID-19 shelved that fight, where Herring was set to go over to Belfast to face the popular former two-division titleholder.

Frampton (27-2, 15 KO) definitely won’t be the July 2 opponent, as he can’t get to the United States with travel restrictions, but that fight is still in the cards at some point, so long as Herring doesn’t lose his belt. Frampton doesn’t seem interested in any tune-up bouts, perhaps due to the injury problems he’s had recently.

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Of fighters ranked in the WBO’s top 15, only Abraham Nova, Jonathan Oquendo, and Lamont Roach Jr would seem available as far as travel goes.

The 26-year-old Nova (18-0, 14 KO) is probably the most interesting option of that group, and made his Top Rank debut in January, but if Top Rank feels they might have something there, they probably wouldn’t want to put him in with Herring right now.

Oquendo (31-6, 19 KO) is a 36-year-old Puerto Rican veteran, a solid fighter who might be exactly the sort of opponent everyone will settle for here, while Roach (19-1-1, 7 KO) just had his shot and came up short.

Top Rank’s Oscar Valdez is the No. 1 contender, but it’s not going to be Valdez, who is targeting Miguel Berchelt and the WBC title.Top Rank’s first card back will come on June 9 on ESPN, with Shakur Stevenson likely to main event. It’s expected the company will be running two shows per week on ESPN outlets for a while.

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Lomachenko, Lopez eye Sept. unification fight

Boxing is preparing for its return to the ring in a big way amid the coronavirus pandemic.   

Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez are ready for a lightweight unification fight, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN’s Steve Kim.

“In talking with Lomachenko and Lopez, neither of them want an interim fight,” Arum said. “So we would plan to do that in September, with or without an audience.”

Kim said Lomachenko and Lopez had discussed a May event at Madison Square Garden before the sports world was effectively put on hold due to COVID-19.

Now there’s talk of Las Vegas as the host city, and with or without fans, Arum is ready to cash in.

“It certainly would be a pay-per-view,” Arum said. “… It’s a big fight that we can do something spectacular, in conjunction with the Las Vegas Convention [and Visitors] Authority. Do a big outdoor event. There’s a lot of innovative stuff you can do, and still adhering to the mandate of social distancing.”

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At 14-1, Lomachenko last fought versus Luke Campbell at the O2 Arena in London on August 31, 2019, earning a unanimous decision. In the ring afterward, he called for a unification fight.

Lopez, 15-0, has been out of the ring since he overcomes Richard Commey by TKO in December. 

It may have taken nearly a year to reach the point of negotiations between the two camps, but the long-awaited matchup is finally in the works.

“We don’t need no tune-ups,” Lopez’s father, Teofimo Sr., said. “We are focused with Lomachenko. That’s all we want is Lomachenko.”

Lomachenko is reportedly back home in Ukraine but has a green card to re-enter the United States when it is safe to do so.  His manager, Egis Klimas, said they’ll fight under just about any circumstance. The only thing that matters is if Lopez is standing in the ring once Lomachenko enters. 

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Spence targets Pacquiao, Crawford in return

Errol Spence Jr. wants the biggest battles possible when boxing resumes.

Questions arose about the boxing future of unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. after his horrific one-car accident in October. Spence, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, flipped his Ferrari multiple times at a high rate of speed and ended up flying out of his car. He also wound up being charged for DWI.

Spence had been earmarked to face Danny Garcia on Jan. 25, but that fight never happened so he could recover from the minor injuries suffered. Now, his return to the ring has been further delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Appearing on the Premier Boxing Champion Instagram Live account, Spence says he has a ”second chance at living” with the new goal of becoming the undisputed welterweight champion of the world. To achieve the feat, Spence will need to fight WBA titlist Manny Pacquiao and WBO title holder Terence Crawford.

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After Spence beat Mikey Garcia in March 2019, Pacquiao entered the ring to tease a future matchup.

Pacquiao chose to face Keith Thurman in July, instead. Boxing’s only eight-division world champion put on his best performance to win by unanimous decision to claim the WBA crown. 

“I didn’t think he was going to look that good,” Spence said. “I didn’t think he was going to look like that. I would love to fight Pacquiao, he’s a future legend, he’s a Hall of Famer, he’s a guy I would love to fight. He has a belt, too, I would love to get that belt.

“Me and Pacquiao would probably do 100,000 (fans) if we fought at AT&T Stadium,” Spence added. “I think Pacquiao would be the perfect opponent.”

Boxing fans have been clamoring for Crawford-Spence to be made. The obstacle is Crawford being promoted by Top Rank and Spence fighting under PBC. However, the fact that both promotional outfits worked well together on the February heavyweight title rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder isn’t lost on Spence. 

He’s had conversations with his advisor Al Haymon about making the Crawford fight happen. If it comes to fruition, Crawford-Spence would be a battle of the top welterweights in the world, and perhaps the best the sport has to offer, period. That’s exactly why Spence views a fight with Crawford as “legacy-defining.”

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California cancels all combat sports through May

The California State Athletic Commission, as first reported by ESPN, has canceled all combat sports events in its state through the end of May.

Under main directions of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the move was a proactive measure to help inhibit the spread of the covid-19 virus that has the world dealing with a global pandemic.

“The Commission didn’t take this decision lightly and understands the potential economic loss to promoters and the industry of combative sports. We had to weigh the best interest of our fighters and the community around us,” the CSAC statement said.

The UFC has already postponed at least three events, though company president Dana White has insisted on trying to move forward with UFC 249 on April 18. He has yet to name a location or a new main event now that UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is set to stay in place in his home country of Russia.

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The UFC had one date slated for California in May. UFC on ESPN+ 33 was slated for May 16 at Pechanga Arena with a main event featuring lightweights Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker. That event, at minimum, will have to move locations or be reprogrammed for a later date.

In addition to the UFC, Bellator MMA had also been slated for two events in California in May. 

Bellator 242 was set to feature dual-division champion Ryan Bader defend his light heavyweight strap versus Vadim Nemkov on May 9 in San Jose. Former UFC contender Liz Carmouche was expected to make her promotion debut opposite Mandy Böhm in the Bellator 243 headliner on May 29, at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula.

Bellator had already reported that it was cancelling its May events prior to the release from the California State Athletic Commission.

Most other fight promotions around the globe have canceled all events through at least April, if not May.

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