Category Archives: Boxing

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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Nevada suspends combat events until March 25th

The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) conducted a meeting Saturday and suspended all fight permits until March 25. The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger reported earlier on Saturday that the NSAC had suspended all combat sporting events indefinitely due to the threat of coronavirus. 

NSAC executive director Bob Bennett released a statement to MMA Fighting regarding The Athletic’s report:

”I don’t know where they received that information,” Bennett wrote. “Our next commission meeting is March 25 and we will have factual information to share with you and the public. The chairman and commissioners will make that decision at the appropriate time.”

The UFC is expected to hold two events at their APEX facility in Las Vegas on March 28 and April 11. If the ban is extended past March 25 into April, it would also impact Premier Boxing Championships and Top Rank Boxing events currently scheduled.

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Dana White vows to hold fights somewhere else

Despite the NSAC ban, and nearly every other sports league in the country postponing or canceling events due to the pandemic, UFC president Dana White is vowing to still hold the fights.

White, appearing on ESPN on Saturday night, insisted that he would find new venues for the two rescheduled events that were moved to the APEX facility.

“We’re working to find new locations, but the fights will go on. They will continue,” White stated on ESPN. “We’re not stopping. We will keep finding a way to put on the fights. I’m in the fight business. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and this stuff happens to me every weekend. I’m used to this stuff, not at this level obviously, but this is what we do. We always make sure that the fights happen and they’re going to continue to happen.

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Usyk to fight Chisora with Joshua unavailable

Usyk is Joshua’s mandatory challenger but will take on Chisora in the interim in what will be just his second fight at heavyweight.

Dereck Chisora has vowed to shatter Oleksandr Usyk’s dream of becoming heavyweight world champion.

The former undisputed cruiserweight ruler is Anthony Joshua’s mandatory challenger but may have to wait until next year for his opportunity.

Joshua is due to defend his three belts versus Kubrat Pulev in June and could then face fellow champion Tyson Fury in December.

In the meantime, Usyk will take on Chisora in just his second fight in boxing’s premier division on May 23.

And the Brit is ready to ruin his rival’s plan and set himself up for a shot at Joshua – and a seven-figure pay day.

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Chisora said: “He is already at the top and could easily have not taken this fight.

“I just hope I don’t scare him too much that he pulls out of the fight. He has the golden ticket and I’m going to take what he has and make it mine.”

Usyk conquered all four belts at cruiserweight in just 16 fights and signed off with victory over Tony Bellew in Manchester.

He stopped Chazz Witherspoon on his heavyweight debut last October and Chisora is all too aware of the challenge in front of him.

He added: “I’m fighting one of the best guys out there, he knows how to box, there’s no two ways about it.

“I can’t get sparring partners who know how to box like him so I’m going unorthodox for this fight, I’ve decided to chuck whatever I can chuck for however long I last.

“I believe he can knock me out but if that doesn’t happen I’m going to keep coming and coming. I’m ready to die in this fight.

“The guy has good foot movement, if I box his way he’s going to win. He can dance around me 24/7 but I know I need to land a couple of punches to slow him down.”

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Fury reiterates talk of retiring after 2 more fights

After teasing a retirement in the near-future in the lead-up to his rematch versus Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury doubled down on his idea of retirement after fighting out the last two bouts on his contract with Top Rank Boxing.

“I’ve got two more fights left, and then we’re going to really think about what we’re going to do from there, said Fury, who was a guest alongside his wife Paris on “This Morning” on ITV in the United Kingdom on Wednesday.

“Because how long is a piece of string? I’m undefeated in 31 professional fights. This is my 12th year as a professional.”

Tyson later circled back to the thought of an early retirement, saying, “I’ll come back, and I’ll have two more fights, and hopefully we’ll sail into the sunset.”

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“It’s almost an anti-climax. You elevate yourself in your mind and body to go and box at this level, and nothing means anything apart from the fight on that night. And then it’s almost like you win, and it’s like, ‘Oh well, I’ve done that now,’ and then I’ve gotta slide down the other side. It usually takes me about two weeks to get back to normal after a massive fight.”

Fury says he is in good condition.

While Fury said he feels good about boxing Wilder, and then Joshua once that’s done, he also claimed he felt no particular inspiration from the opportunity of winning all of Joshua’s belts and becoming undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

“As far as I’m concerned, Anthony Joshua’s only got my leftovers, because I never lost those belts. I had to vacate them for mental health problems,” Fury said.

“They’re my belts. Until a man is defeated in a boxing ring, how can you claim to be the champion when you haven’t beat the champion? I beat the dominant heavyweight of our era, [Wladimir Klitschko], 26 title defenses, and went to Germany to do it. Then I went to America and beat the guy that nobody wanted to fight.”

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Joshua confirms June world title fight with Pulev

After a lot of back and forth, it seems that unified heavyweight titleholder Anthony Joshua has finally reached final terms with Kubrat Pulev to make his mandatory IBF title defense.

The two sides were known to have been negotiating terms for Joshua’s next outing, but last week the fighters reached an impasse over the site for the fight, with Joshua wanting to defend in the U.K. and Pulev believing he can’t get a fair shake there.

That impasse led to the IBF scheduling a purse bid for tomorrow, where the promotional rights to the fight would’ve been up for grabs. That’s not something that Hearn and Joshua were probably up for, so ultimately it seems this boiled down to money.

Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn informs ESPN that Joshua ended up taking less money than he otherwise could’ve made just to ensure the fight would be held at home on June 20, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

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“Joshua’s probably taking a third of what he could make against Pulev to fight in the U.K next, because he wants to fight in the U.K.”

Now Joshua will put three of his major world titles on the line versus Pulev for the first time since winning them back from Andy Ruiz last December.

“I’m back in my home city after some time away,” Joshua said in announcing the fight. “A spectacular stadium has been built in North London and I’m honored to bring the boxing community from all over the world to witness us make history with the stadium’s first heavyweight world title fight. The belts go back up in the air and nothing will stop me from being victorious.”

John Wirt, president of Pulev co-promoter Epic Sports and Entertainment, added: “This fight has been a long time coming, but we finally have Joshua cornered, and on June 20, I guarantee Pulev will be victorious and Great Britain’s recently acquired chokehold on the heavyweight division championship will be brought to a quick and sudden ending.”

On Feb. 22, Tyson Fury knocked out Deontay Wilder to claim his title, giving British fighters a hold on all four major belts.

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