Category Archives: Boxing

Anthony Joshua regrets post-fight antics after Oleksandr Usyk rematch defeat

Anthony Joshua has stated he let himself down in the moments after his split decision defeat in a rematch with Oleksandr Usyk on Saturday.

Joshua failed to reclaim the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight titles as he suffered his second consecutive loss to Usyk — his third defeat in his last five fights. The 32-year-old threw two of Usyk’s belts to the floor after the final bell before storming out of the ring, only to return later and deliver an impassioned speech.

“I wish Usyk continued success in your quest for greatness. You are a class act champ” Joshua said in a Twitter post on Sunday.

“Yesterday I had to mentally take myself into a dark place to compete for the championship belts! I had two fights, one with Usyk and one with my emotions and both got the better of me. “I’ll be the first to admit, I let my self down. I acted out of pure passion and emotion and when not controlled it ain’t great. I love this sport so so much and I’ll be better from this point on.”

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The 32-year-old also reflected on his behavior during his post-fight news conference, saying his speech, in which he called himself a new breed of heavyweight and led a cheer for Usyk, was “from the heart.”

“When you try and do things from your heart, not everyone is going to understand,” Joshua said. “It was just from the heart. I knew I was mad at myself. Not at anyone, just myself. I was like I got to get out here because I’m mad.

“When you’re angry you might do stupid things. Then I realised this is sport. I came back and did the right thing.”

Joshua fought back tears after the fight as he reflected on his defeat, saying he was deeply “upset” with his performance versus the Ukrainian heavyweight champion.

“It’s really, really hard for me to say I’m proud of myself. I’m upset, really, deep down in my heart,” he added.

“I tried a different style… in the last fight I wanted to compete as a boxer, but it wasn’t good enough, and tonight wasn’t good enough.”

Joshua said he plans to return to the ring in December, adding that his promoter, Eddie Hearn, wants him to have three or four fights next year.

“I spoke to Eddie and asked him if it’s possible to get out in November because momentum is important in boxing. Eddie said December,” Joshua said.

“If it’s about who I fight, it’s come one, come all. Whoever wants it can get it, I don’t mind.”

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WBA orders Dmitry Bivol to defend 175-pound belt against Gilberto Ramirez

Dmitry Bivol will have a tough test on his hands if he wants to stay a champion.

Bivol must face top contender Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez in a mandatory defense, the World Boxing Association revealed Wednesday. Ramirez is the No. 1 contender in the WBA’s 175-pound ranking.

Bivol had requested to face London’s Joshua Buatsi, per the WBA.

“After an extensive study of the same, the WBA denied such permission,” the sanctioning body said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) is coming off a landmark win against Canelo Alvarez, ESPN’s top pound-for-pound fighter at the time. The Russian boxer won in a unanimous decision — 115-113 on all three scorecards — to successfully defend the belt for the eighth time.

Ramirez (44-0, 31 KOs) told ESPN he was surprised Bivol made the request to the WBA but was pleased with Wednesday’s ruling.

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“I felt that they were scared to fight me,” Ramirez said. “That’s why I’m so happy to fight him. I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long. Now it’s my time.”

The 31-year-old Mexican fighter is looking to become a two-division champion.

In 2016, he made history by becoming the first Mexican to win a super middleweight title when he outpointed Arthur Abraham. It set the table for Alvarez, who ran through the 168-pound division to become the first undisputed super middleweight champion in the four-belt era.

The ruling also suggests that if the two sides cannot come to terms by the end of Wednesday, a purse bid will be held for the fight’s rights. Matchroom Boxing promotes Bivol, and Golden Boy Promotions handles Ramirez.

If Bivol doesn’t want to face Ramirez, he could vacate the WBA belt, since Badou Jack relinquished the title in 2017. However, Ramirez said he doesn’t think Bivol will go that route.

Ramirez said he feels he presents the most lucrative option for Bivol and believes there is an appetite to see if a Mexican fighter can dethrone Bivol, something Alvarez couldn’t do in his ambitious attempt in May.

“It will be really surprising if he vacated the title,” Ramirez told ESPN. “Who else is he going to fight?” The matchup could be one of boxing’s most competitive title fights of the year.

Bivol is No. 2 in ESPN’s divisional rankings, trailing only Artur Beterbiev. Ramirez is slotted third following his win versus Dominic Boesel in May.

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Deontay Wilder, Robert Helenius working on finalizing deal for PBC PPV fight in October

Former heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder and Robert Helenius are in the process of concluding a deal for a PBC on FOX pay-per-view fight Oct. 15 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, sources confirmed to ESPN.

Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs) contemplated retirement following a brutal 11th-round KO loss to Tyson Fury in their October 2021 fight that was named ESPN’s Fight of the Year.

The 36-year-old will lastly face a different adversary for the first time since November 2019, following two consecutive inside-the-distance defeats to Fury.

Helenius (31-3, 20 KOs) last fought on the Fury-Wilder undercard, when he scored a TKO over Adam Kownacki in a second consecutive bout.

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The fringe contender, who fights out of Finland, has competed just three times since a KO defeat to Gerald Washington in July 2019.

Wilder, ESPN’s No. 3 heavyweight, delivered perhaps his most memorable career performance in defeat. He was given little chance following the second meeting with Fury, when “The Gypsy King” brutalized him en route to a seventh-round TKO, but Wilder was able to floor Fury twice in Round 4.

The Olympic bronze medalist is perhaps the most imposing puncher in boxing, and with a win he could find himself in line for a matchup versus Andy Ruiz next year if the former champ defeats Luis Ortiz on Sept. 4.

Heavyweight contender Frank Sanchez is slated to compete on the Oct. 15 undercard, sources said. BoxingScene.com first reported the Wilder-Helenius news.

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Ramla Ali-Crystal Garcia Nova bout will be first professional women’s boxing match held in Saudi Arabia

Ramla Ali will make history next month when she faces Crystal Garcia Nova as part of the first professional women’s boxing match in Saudi Arabia on the undercard of the Anthony Joshua-Oleksandr Usyk heavyweight title fight in Jeddah on Aug. 20.

It’s another first for Ali, a Muslim woman born in Somalia and raised in London, as she has continues her boxing career.

“It’s just so monumental because it provides hope to so many women, number one. It provides hope to loads of little girls looking up to us knowing that they could do, they can be and they can achieve anything that they want.”

Ali, who helped start the Somali Boxing Federation, already became the first Muslim woman to win a national championship in Great Britain, the first Somali woman to fight at the amateur world championships and the first woman to represent Somalia in boxing at the Olympics.

While fighting for her is a big deal, Ali sees this particular fight as one that is bigger than her own steps in the sport.

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Saudi Arabia is a country long known for its oppression of women, although some of the restrictions in the country — involving the right to drive and travel independently — have been lifted in the past years.

Ali considers her fighting in Saudi Arabia, which she said the royal family of the country requested, is another step forward.

“To me, it’s about progression and it’s about moving in the right direction,” Ali said. “To be the first women to compete in Saudi is moving in the right direction.”

Ali has never been to Saudi Arabia before — she has also never been back to Somalia, where she was born and her family fled from when she was a young child — but while she’s in Saudi Arabia for the fight, she’s also hoping to complete the Umrah, which is a pilgrimage to Mecca.

She doesn’t know what the reaction to her fighting in the country will be — she knows there are some people who will not be pleased to see her compete in Saudi Arabia — but she sees this as an opportunity for growth and to provide hope.

“I feel like you need to be brave. Be brave for what I mentioned earlier, for all the young girls looking up to you, you need to be brave,” Ali said.

“You need to be a hero to them and that’s what it means. It is yet again another first and it’s very scary because no one else has done it before but I need to be brave and I need to show that it’s OK to be a first because others will follow behind you.”

Ali (6-0, 1 KO) last fought in July, when she beat Agustina Rojas at the O2 Arena in London. Nova (10-2, 10 KO), out of the Dominican Republic, is coming off a loss to Phannarai Netisri in May — the first time she’s been stopped in her career.

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Tyson Fury offers to fight Anthony Joshua for free, on free TV, with free tickets for fans

Tyson Fury announced his retirement in April, but it doesn’t appear the heavyweight champion’s hiatus will last long.

Since Fury’s sixth-round TKO victory over Dillian Whyte in April in London, “The Gypsy King” has repeatedly flip-flopped between expressing his desire to fight again and remain retired.

Earlier this summer, Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs) claimed the only way he would come out of retirement is for a $500 million purse.

Now, in a drastic shift, Fury claimed on Wednesday that he’ll step inside the ropes again only for a bout with rival Anthony Joshua in the United Kingdom — for free.

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“That’s how the fight happens, I’ll sign the contract today,” Fury, 33, said on his Instagram.

“The fight’s got to be for free. Free-to-air television and all tickets go for free. No money is to be made out of this British historic fight if it happens. There’s the terms, I’m in the driving seat, take it or effing leave it. The ball is in your court, guys. … Either way, I don’t give a damn.”

Of course, this is completely contradictory to Fury’s contentious negotiations with Joshua last year for a fight that was finally scrapped when an arbitrator ruled Fury owed Deontay Wilder a third fight.

Saudi Arabia officials were prepared to dole out more than $150 million for the rights to that undisputed heavyweight championship fight.

Instead, Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) went on to lose his three heavyweight titles to Oleksandr Usyk in September, and Fury proceeded to knock out Wilder in a trilogy battle one month later.

Now, Usyk and Joshua, 32, are set to rematch on Aug. 20 in Saudi Arabia, while Fury surely will be approached with a large sum of money to meet the winner.

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Devin Haney-George Kambosos rematch being planned for mid-October on ESPN

The Devin Haney-George Kambosos rematch for the undisputed lightweight championship is being planned for Oct. 16 in Australia, sources tell ESPN, which will accommodate an ESPN prime-time telecast on Oct. 15.

The fight could land at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena, home of the Australian Open, but no site has been finalized yet. When Haney signed to fight Kambosos in March, the 23-year-old agreed to a return bout in the champion’s native Australia later this year.

Haney routed Kambosos via unanimous decision in June to capture all four 135-pound titles, and Kambosos quickly exercised the rematch clause.

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With the rematch deal already agreed to beforehand, there were no negotiations necessary the second time around.

The only loose ends that needed to be tied up were the date and the site.

Despite the lopsided nature of the first meeting, Kambosos (20-1, 10 KOs) is set to receive a second crack at the titles he collected from Teofimo Lopez in November in ESPN’s Upset of the Year.

The 29-year-old was unable to deal with Haney’s excellent jab and defense and grew frustrated as the fight wore on. And this was a far cry from Kambosos’ thrilling win over Lopez, which featured both men on the canvas.

Haney (28-0, 15 KOs). elected to box from the outside and pile up rounds. Neither boxer was ever in any danger during the tactical bout at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne. Kambosos is rated No. 4 at lightweight by ESPN. Haney, who fights out of Las Vegas, is rated No. 1.

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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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