Category Archives: Boxing

Conor Benn eyes Yordenis Ugas fight after snubbing dinner request in Las Vegas

After turning down the opportunity to have dinner with Yordenis Ugas, Conor Benn hopes they can meet again in the ring later this year.

Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs), 35, puts his WBA welterweight belt on the line versus WBC-IBF champion Errol Spence (27-0, 21 KOs), 32, in a world title unification fight at the AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, on Saturday. Just a few hours after, Benn continues his development against Chris van Heerden at the Manchester Arena, England.

Benn (20-0, 13 KOs), who was raised in Spain and Australia and moved to Essex, England, is the son of Nigel Benn — the world middleweight and supermiddleweight champion in the 1990s — and has made rapid progress over the last two years.

The 25-year-old travelled to Las Vegas recently for sparring, but claims Miami-based Cuban Ugas turned down the chance to spar him and instead invited him to dinner. “When I was out in Vegas recently, we tried to make the sparring with Ugas because me and Ugas speak,” Benn said.

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“He kept saying we would spar, he knows the score and knows what was going on but we ended up sparring [Yuriorkis] Gamboa and he had to get pulled out of the spar. Bearing in mind I wasn’t even in training camp but he had to get pulled out because he was beginning to get a bit of a pasting.

“Ugas was there and after he was inviting me out for dinner with him and his missus. I thought: ‘That’s a bit odd,’ I look at that and think ‘I fancy my chances.’ If he does beat Spence, which I believe is not likely, but it is a fight I’d love in the future.

“I didn’t take him up on dinner. I told him I was busy but as I was walking through the casino, I see him and his missus having food and I went over to say hello and thought ‘That couldn’t have gone anymore awkward really.’

“It’s not that we are from the same country or live the same lifestyle so I was thinking ‘Why does he want me to go to dinner?’ What are we going to do? Sit there and stare at each other. I found it very odd. I don’t know what his motive was.

“I would love to do it for real. I want to test myself against the best in the division. Every challenge they put in front of me I come through it. I’m top five in every governing body and No. 1 in Britain.”

Benn is closing in on a world title shot which he hopes to get later this year or in 2023, as long as he defeats California-based Van Heerden (28-2-1, 12 KOs), a southpaw from South Africa.

Benn added: “I’ve done a lot of southpaw sparring and I love challenges, I love overcoming them. I think I have shown in my last few performances that I can beat any style put in front of me. I think I fill him in, to be honest. I’m prepared for a hard fight.”

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Claressa Shields’ anticipated bout with Ema Kozin moved to Feb. 5

The middleweight fight between Chris Eubank Jr. and Liam Williams as well as the latest middleweight title defense for Claressa Shields are on the move again.

Shields tweeted Monday that her fight versus Ema Kozin will now take place on Feb. 5, a week after it was supposed to on Jan. 29.

This comes after Great Britain’s boxing commission suspended the sport for the month of January. On Saturday, the British Boxing Board of Control stated it was suspending boxing in the country based on advice from the organization’s medical panel.

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“Following advice from the British Boxing Board of Control Medical Panel, Boxing tournaments under the jurisdiction of the BBBofC will be suspended for the month of January,” a statement from Robert W. Smith, the BBBofC’s general secretary, said.

“A further review by the Medical Panel and Stewards will take place prior to the planned recommencement of Boxing in February.”

The Eubank-Williams fight was the highest-profile card affected in the country.

It’s also the second time the card has been moved because of the main event.

An injury to Williams (23-3-1, 18 KO) pushed back the fight versus Eubank (31-2, 23 KO) from its initial date on Dec. 11 to Jan. 29, taking Shields’ defense of her IBF, WBA and WBC titles against Kozin (21-0-1, 11 KO) with it.

Now the United Kingdom debut for Shields (11-0, 2 KO) — and her return to boxing after two consecutive fights in mixed martial arts — will have to wait another week.

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Demetrius Andrade-Jason Quigley middleweight title fight headlines Nov. 19 tripleheader

Demetrius Andrade and Jason Quigley have agreed to terms for a middleweight title fight that will headline a DAZN-streamed championship tripleheader on Nov. 19 in New England, sources told ESPN.

Murodjon Akhmadaliev will defend his unified 122-pound championship versus Ronny Rios in the co-feature, sources said. Julio Cesar Martinez puts his 112-pound title on the line vs. McWilliams Arroyo in the opening fight.

All three fights pit champions promoted by Matchroom Sport’s Eddie Hearn against challengers aligned with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. The promotions have yet to lock down a site for the card, but sources said it will be held in New England.

Andrade (30-0, 18 KOs), ESPN’s No. 3 boxer at 160 pounds, made the fourth defense of his title in April with a unanimous-decision triumph over Liam Williams. The 33-year-old from Providence, Rhode Island, has been dominant during his 160-pound title reign but has yet to face a formidable foe. That won’t change with this fight.

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The slick southpaw will be a heavy favorite to turn back the challenge of Quigley (19-1, 14 KOs), a hard-nosed fighter coming off the biggest vicory of his career. The 30-year-old Irishman scored a majority-decision win over Shane Mosley Jr. in May and will now step up to the elite level for the first time.

The other two title fights on the card figure to be far more competitive.

Akhmadaliev, a 26-year-old from Uzbekistan, is ESPN’s No. 1 boxer at 122 pounds. He won the unified championship from Daniel Roman in January 2020 and successfully defended it in April with a stoppage win over Ryosuke Iwasa.

An Olympic bronze medalist, Akhmadaliev (9-0, 7 KOs) is considered one of the brightest young talents in boxing.

He figures to face a stern challenge in Rios (33-3, 16 KOs). The 31-year-old from Southern California is ESPN’s No. 8 junior featherweight. Since suffering a sixth-round knockout to Azat Hovhannisyan in February 2018, Rios has reeled off four consecutive wins, most recently outpointing Oscar Negrete in February.

Martinez, ESPN’s No. 1 flyweight, has torn through the competition at 112 pounds under the guidance of reigning trainer of the year Eddy Reynoso. The 26-year-old Mexican is coming off a sixth-round TKO of Joel Cordova, and like Akhmadaliev, Martinez (18-1, 14 KOs) is on the cusp of pound-for-pound recognition.

Arroyo (21-4, 16 KOs) is a 35-year-old from Puerto Rico who has faced some of the best fighters in the sport. Among those: decision defeats to Roman Gonzalez and Kazuto Ioka. He has won four consecutive since the loss to Ioka, his latest outing a TKO victory over Abraham Rodriguez in February.

The DAZN card comes one day before Terence Crawford and Shawn Porter meet for a welterweight title on ESPN+ PPV.

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Yordenis Ugas upsets Manny Pacquiao by decision to retain WBA title

This night was supposed to be a celebration, a culmination of all the great Manny Pacquiao has accomplished — a champion in eight divisions in four decades, a superstar the world over.

Yordenis Ugas wasn’t here for the Pacquiao party, though; Ugas was here for his own arrival. And he made good on his promise to bring all his respect for Pacquiao into the ring.

Ugas, who accepted the assignment on 11 days’ notice, scored a unanimous decision over Pacquiao on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena to hold his WBA “super” welterweight title, spoiling the festivities in an upset victory that establishes Ugas as a major player in boxing’s best division.

All three judges scored the fight for Ugas: 116-112, 115-113 and 116-112. ESPN had it 116-112 for Ugas, who won as a +310 underdog, according to Caesars Sportsbook.

“I’m very excited, but most of all, I want to thank Manny Pacquiao for giving me this moment in this ring today,” said Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs). “Now the plan is to unify the title at welterweight. … Errol Spence is the next one on the list. … I am praying that he recuperates.”

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Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KOs) was slated to meet Spence, ESPN’s No. 4 pound-for-pound boxer, in a super fight.

Those plans were canceled when it was discovered Spence suffered a detached retina in his left eye just 12 days before the fight.

Ugas, a bronze medalist for Cuba in the 2008 Olympics and ESPN’s No. 6 welterweight, was set to defend his title versus Fabian Maidana in the co-feature and didn’t hesitate to step in to fight Pacquiao when the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself.

“We only had two weeks of training,” Ugas said, “but I listened to my corner, and it all worked out.”

Ugas’ strategy was simple yet brilliant: a double jab to the head followed by a right hand to the body. A high guard that picked off Pacquiao’s incoming shots before a crisp right looped around Pacquiao’s gloves and connected upstairs. Counterpunches that hit the target over and over, finally cutting Pacquiao over the left eye in Round 12.

Pacquiao also was cut under his right eye during the fight. His team told ESPN afterward that he needed five stitches to close one of the cuts and had three stitches glued onto the other. They didn’t specify which cut needed which fix.

On this night, under the brightest of lights, Ugas displayed the composure of a heart surgeon, patiently picking his spots with precise punches that constantly met their mark. He also imposed his superior size and strength on Pacquiao, who perhaps was fighting in his final bout.

This 42-year-old, flat-footed version of Pacquiao was not the same fighter who vaulted to the sport with dizzying speed and combinations thrown from seemingly every angle. Now, well past his best and with a potential presidential race to prepare for, this could be it for Pacquiao.

When Pacquiao was asked if this was his final fight, he said, “I don’t know. I need to relax and make a decision.”

“That’s boxing,” he said. “I had a hard time in the ring making adjustments. … My legs were tight. I’m sorry I lost tonight, but I did my best.”

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Dustin Poirier’s next fight will be against Nate Diaz

After a rare off weekend in the world of UFC, action returns to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday as middleweights Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum each try to come back from losses to Robert Whittaker in their most recent fights.

While it would seem to be more pressing for Gastelum, who has lost four out of five — albeit versus the top fighters in the division — when it comes to factors including age and urgency, whether Cannonier’s UFC journey will ever include a title shot could well hinge on winning this fight.

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Mark O. Madsen has similarly lofty aspirations in the lightweight division, and he steps into Saturday’s co-main event — looking to move his record in the UFC to 3-0 — against 15-year UFC veteran Clay Guida.

As he looks to climb the ranks in a deep 155-pound division, a win over a familiar face will certainly help, but how much?

Dustin Poirier is already there, sitting as the No. 1 contender in the lightweight division. Poirier was there before he elected to fight Conor McGregor for the third time, which seemingly set him up for a championship fight against Charles Oliveira.

But buzz is starting to build around another high-profile, non-title opponent for Poirier — Nate Diaz. Could Poirier once again forego a title shot?

Yair Rodriguez, on the other hand, seems supremely focused on getting himself a title shot in the featherweight division.

His previously scheduled bout against Max Holloway is still searching for a new date later in the year, but after almost two years out of the Octagon, would a win over the former UFC featherweight champ put Rodriguez at the top of the list to challenge the winner of Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega?

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Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. misses weight by 2 pounds, forfeits $100K to Anderson Silva

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has missed weight once again.

The son of the legendary Mexican boxer weighed in at 184 pounds Friday, two pounds over the contracted weight for his arranged fight with UFC all-time great Anderson Silva, promotion officials confirmed with ESPN.

The fight will go on Saturday in Guadalajara, Mexico, as part of an event called Tribute to the Kings. But Chavez Jr. will have to forfeit $100,000 of his purse to Silva, per officials. Silva weighed in right on the contracted mark of 182 pounds.

Chavez Jr. has had several struggles on the scales in his career. Most famously, he had to forfeit $1 million — a third of his purse — to Daniel Jacobs before a December 2019 bout.

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Chavez Jr. has missed weight at least twice more in his career, with other additional fights having to be changed late to catchweights.

This 182-pound bout is heavier than Chavez Jr. typically fights at. Most recently, Chavez Jr. has been competing at 175 pounds. And he fought Jacobs and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez at the contracted weight of 168 pounds.

Tribute to the Kings also will feature Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., 58, returning to the ring in an exhibition to face Hector Camacho Jr., the 42-year-old son of his fiercest rival.

Chavez Jr. (52-5-1, 1 NC) has dropped three of his past five fights, but is coming off a fourth-round TKO over Jeyson Minda last November. The 35-year-old Mexico native is the former WBC middleweight champion.

Silva is 1-1 as a pro boxer and has not fought in the boxing ring since 2005. But “The Spider” is one of the most decorated champions in UFC history, holding the middleweight title for seven years — the longest reign ever in the UFC. Silva, 46, also has the longest winning streak in UFC history (16).

The Brazil native asked for his release from the UFC last year and it was granted. Silva has just one victory in MMA since 2012 and has stated he is likely done with mixed martial arts, though he might continue to pursue interesting fights in other combat sports like boxing.

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Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder make third fight in rivalry official

WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder have both signed contracts for the third fight in their heavyweight rivalry.

During the Josh Taylor-Jose Ramirez telecast on ESPN on Saturday, Fury stated that he had signed his contract. Wilder has also completed his side of the deal, according to boxing manager Shelly Finkel.

The fight will be on July 24, sources told ESPN. T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas will host the bout, Top Rank’s Bob Arum told ESPN’s Kel Dansby.

Fury will get 60% of the purse to 40% for Wilder, sources told ESPN’s Mark Kriegel.

The agreement comes six days after an independent arbitrator ruled that Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) was legally obligated for a third fight with Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs).

The arbitrator’s ruling derailed negotiations between Fury and Anthony Joshua for an undisputed title fight in Saudi Arabia this summer. Both sides were on the verge of finalizing a deal before Monday’s arbitration.

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Discussions were limited regarding a potential “step-aside” fee to Wilder to make Fury-Joshua possible.

The World Boxing Organization (WBO) has ordered Joshua to defend his heavyweight title against mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk.

Prior to the first fight in 2018 that ended in a draw, Wilder had knocked out all his previous adversaries. Fury got off the canvas in the 12th round to escape his first defeat. In the 2020 rematch, Fury battered Wilder for a seventh-round TKO victory. Neither fighter has fought since the fight.

Fury first fought Wilder, who is now 35, in 2018 and took the WBC title from him in a rematch in February 2020 with a seventh-round stoppage.

“Shall we do it and put him out of his misery? Crack the other side of his skull? Give him another shoulder injury, another bicep injury, a leg injury… the whole lot,” Fury said in a video posted by Top Rank Boxing.

“Wilder, contract’s signed, you’re getting smashed… You’re getting knocked out, end of, one round, you’re going. I’ve got your soul, your mojo, everything, I own you.”

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Canelo Alvarez dominates Avni Yildirim by third-round TKO as corner throws in towel

From the opening bell, Canelo Alvarez appeared destined for a knockout win versus mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim. Alvarez didn’t have to wait long for it.

Yildirim’s corner threw in the towel at the end of the third round, and Alvarez picked up a TKO victory to retain his WBC and WBA super middleweight belts Saturday night at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

After the fight, Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn confirmed that Alvarez will face WBO titleholder Billy Joe Saunders in a unification bout on May 8 at a location to be determined.

“I wanted to have a great fight here,” Alvarez, speaking through an interpreter, told the crowd, which was capped at 15,000 because of COVID-19 restrictions. “I needed to knock [him] out, and that’s what I did. That’s what I had to do.” Alvarez (55-1-2) was the lone fighter in the ring pressing the action in the first three rounds. Early in the fight, Alvarez threw looping hooks around Yildirim’s high guard and pelted the Turkish fighter’s body.

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And even in a fight against someone of Yildirim’s caliber, Alvarez displayed the ring acumen that has cemented his status as one of boxing’s top pound-for-pound fighters. Instead of a hook, Alvarez floored Yildirim with a straight right hand with more than two minutes to go in the third round.

Yildirim (21-3, 12 KOs) survived the round, and even while he sat in his corner before the fourth round, he appeared to be game for at least three more minutes.

Trainer Joel Diaz pleaded with Yildirim to show more after a lackluster three rounds.

“I’m going to give you one more f—ing round,” Diaz told Yildirim in the corner during the DAZN telecast.

However, even that was too much to ask. Another member of Yildirim’s corner went up to the apron and asked for the fight to be stopped, a request that was obliged.

Alvarez picked up his second triumph in three months and retained two of the four belts in the 168-pound division. He won’t have to wait much longer to have a shot at the third title. The fight versus Saunders gives Alvarez a chance to move one step closer to being an undisputed champion and bolster his case to be the greatest Mexican fighter of all time.

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Promoter — Deal done for Anthony Joshua-Tyson Fury heavyweight title fight

Anthony Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn stated a deal for the world heavyweight champion to meet Tyson Fury in an undisputed world heavyweight title fight this year is all but done, with a venue in the Middle East a front-runner to host it.

Joshua defeated Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev last month to keep his IBF, WBO and WBA titles to set up the prospect of a mouth-watering clash with fellow Briton Fury who holds the WBC belt.

“The deal is done, really — without being signed,” Hearn told the Times.

“The financial elements of the deal are done. We’re talking through the broadcast situation, the only thing really now is to paper it. “And when you paper a deal like that, it does go back and forwards 15 times before every single letter is approved on the document.”

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Fury has not fought since beating American Deontay Wilder in their Las Vegas rematch in February to claim the WBC crown.

Fury and Wilder had a rematch clause in their contract but they couldn’t make the fight.

Hearn said Joshua and Fury would face off in two fights — with the first likely to be in the Middle East later this year — and he hoped to bring the rematch back to Britain.

“The Middle East will be aggressive and will be front-runners in this. To stage this fight, you need significant government support. You need someone who is staging this fight as a statement for their country,” Hearn added.

“I’d like it [the rematch] to be [in the United Kingdom]. Where? Millennium Stadium.”

Fury’s American promoter Bob Arum has stated before that he is “95 per cent confident the fight happens”. Arum said: “I don’t want to make a deadline, but I just can report that everything so far has been going splendidly, and we hope to have a signed document within the next couple of weeks.

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Gennady Golovkin returns to the ring

Once feared, but still revered by many boxing fans, IBF and IBO middleweight champion Gennadiy Golovkin will be back in the squared circle this Friday versus mandatory challenger Kamil Szeremeta at Seminole Hard Rock and Casino in Hollywood, FL.

Now 38, Golovkin is anxious to get back in the ring.

“I’m ready to fight. I feel great,” said Golovkin Tuesday during a virtual news conference.

Golovkin was last seen in the ring battling Sergey Derevyanchenko. The bout was intense, brutal, and exciting. Golovkin was judged the winner by a close unanimous decision. Many thought the wrong fighter got the nod. I thought Golovkin edged it, but his advanced age became more prominent after the bout.

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As it should. Combining his amateur and professional careers, Golovkin has engaged in close to 450 fights. Ten years ago, fighting in virtual obscurity in Europe, Golovkin captured a title (in Russia) that few respected, and then became something of a folk hero with more belts due to his modest ways and heavy hands.

He was just over 30 when he came to America. Many fighters evaded Golovkin like the plague when he reigned over the middleweight division. He scored 23 straight knockouts and held world titles in the division for eight years.

That was then. This is now.

Szremento, his opponent in a few days, is undefeated in 21 fights, scoring five knockouts. The Polish native earned his shot against Golovkin by stopping Oscar Cortes in two rounds on the undercard of Golovkin versus Derevyanchenko.

“I treat every fight very seriously,” Golovkin said. “At this level, there are no easy fights. Every opponent brings certain challenges.”

A third fight with Alvarez could be on the table next year for Golovkin. Promoter Eddie Hearn has talked of pitting Golovkin against other division champions, Jermall Charlo, and Demetrius Andrade.

Though he’s accomplished a lot in his boxing career, Golovkin is still hungry. “I have not achieved everything I have wanted,” Golovkin said. “I have to win Friday to look into other opportunities.”

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