Category Archives: Boxing

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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Mikey Garcia ready to erase doubts at welterweight against Jessie Vargas

For 39 professional fights, Mikey Garcia didn’t know what it felt like to lose. He’d risen through the ranks on his way to becoming a four-division world champion and being regarded as pound-for-pound one of the best fighters in boxing by taking the hardest challenges along the way.

That was certainly the case when Garcia jumped up two weight classes to battle IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. in front of over 47,000 people at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, back in March of last year.

However, things didn’t go Garcia’s way, and Spence dominated from the opening bell to win a lopsided decision. Eleven months later, the fire is reignited, and Garcia comes back to the ring on Saturday versus Jessie Vargas at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, live on DAZN.

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“That fight isn’t indicative of who I am and what I’m capable of doing,” Garcia said. “The last fight doesn’t represent who I am. It was just one of those nights where I just couldn’t get off or do anything. I feel this a good way to get back on track against a big name in search of winning a world title in a fifth different weight class. I know there’s a lot more I can deliver, and that’s what this fight is all about.”

Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) had plenty of routes on who to take on for his in-ring return.

He could have easily taken a tune-up in the welterweight division. However, that’s not the mindset Garcia possesses.

It’s about taking the toughest matchups — ones that will further establish himself and help him be remembered after his career is over.

That’s why Garcia is excited about facing Vargas, who checks all the boxes that he’s looking for. Vargas (29-2-2, 11 KOs) is a former two-division world champion and has taken on Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley and brings an exciting style to the table.

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Hearn says Fury fight the “priority” for Joshua

Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn has been tearing up the media scene ever since this past Saturday night, clamoring for an undisputed heavyweight title unification fight between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.

So with Hearn talking on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, Hearn was asked if Joshua is already locked into a fight with mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, or if he’s still hoping to work something out with Fury’s team.

“We want the Tyson Fury fight next. AJ called me yesterday and said ‘How do we make this fight happen?’ We have a mandatory in Kubrat Pulev. The great thing about the whole situation is Bob Arum promotes both Tyson Fury and Kubrat Pulev, so there is clearly a deal to be done if — and you are quite right — if Deontay Wilder excercises his rematch clause, there’s nothing we can do. That fight’s happening and we accept that…

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Recent news reports suggest that Wilder does in fact intend to exercise his immediate rematch clause, but with some apparent turmoil in his camp we’ll just have to see how things develop.

Fury is the WBC heavyweight champion and is also believed the lineal heavyweight champion.

Joshua, meanwhile, holds the WBA, IBF and WBO titles.

A fight between Fury and Joshua, both England natives, would be for undisputed heavyweight gold — a rare opportunity at that kind of history for both men. Fury vs. Joshua would be one of the biggest fights in heavyweight boxing history.

Even if Wilder and Fury fight for a third time, Hearn said he still believes Fury vs. Joshua could happen this year. He said Joshua would target December if Wilder decides on the rematch. “Honestly, I will do everything I can to make that fight,”

Hearn said of Fury vs. Joshua. “This is a historic moment for our country and the sport of boxing where two British heavyweights prove who is the king. Right now, it is up to Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury to decide who is the best heavyweight in the world. And I’ll back our man all day long.”

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Fury will consider “walking away” once contract up

With his long-awaited rematch versus Deontay Wilder less than a week away, Tyson Fury is considering when he might exit the sport of boxing.

The 31-year-old former heavyweight champion told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that it might come earlier than many would expect:

“I’ve not got an age, but I’ve got three fights left on my contract with ESPN,” Fury, 31, told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani on Monday. “And after that, I will seriously think about walking away.”

When asked why he is considering walking away during the prime of his career, Fury seemed to indicate that he cared more about reaching the top of the mountain than staying at the top:

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“Because I don’t need to fight anymore,” he said. “What is the point? What am I going to gain from it? When I beat Wilder on Saturday, I’ll have completed the game. The game will be completed. I’ll have won every single belt there is to win in the game, from minor to major, and I’ll have won The Ring magazine belt twice — becoming only the second man in history to do that, me and Muhammad Ali.

“… Even after this win on Saturday, there’s nothing more to do. Nothing more to be gained.”

Fury retiring in his early 30s would be a surprise, though his career has hardly followed a conventional arc.

After shocking the world by ending Wladimir Klitschko’s reign over the heavyweight division, Fury took a hiatus from boxing that lasted two and a half years while dealing with depression and other personal problems. He would face Wilder soon after his return and draw the WBC champ in a classic fight, and their rematch has loomed ever since.

In the meantime, Fury has made appearances with the WWE and even flirted with facing UFC fighters.

A victory for Fury over Wilder would cement him as the undisputed top dog in the heavyweight division between defeating Wilder and Anthony Joshua’s stumble versus Andy Ruiz Jr. A loss would still leave him as a highly desired fighter, though it would be hard to not think what could have been.

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Gassiev to return versus Forrest in heavyweight bout

Murat Gassiev will make his long-awaited Heavyweight debut versus Jerry Forrest at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas on Saturday February 29, live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK – with rising Junior-Middleweight star Israil Madrimov in a World title eliminator and headline star Mikey Garcia showcasing two of his Garcia Promotions talents.

Gassiev (26-1 19 KOs) informed his move to Heavyweight in April after signing a promotional deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA, Ural Boxing and Warriors Boxing to fight on DAZN, following hot on the heels of his old Cruiserweight foe Oleksandr Usyk, the last opponent he faced in an undisputed World title clash and the final of the World Boxing Super Series in July 2018.

The Russian banger was set to make his bow in July at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas versus Joey Dawejko but a shoulder injury in the build-up forced the 26 year old to delay his entrance into a red-hot division.

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“I’m so happy to finally be able to make my debut at Heavyweight,” said Gassiev. “It has been frustrating not being able to fight but I am ready to go now, and I want to make up for lost time.

“When I box in Frisco it will have been nearly 600 days since I’ve fought and a lot has happened in the Heavyweight division over that time – I know that I can be a World champion at Heavyweight but I need to show to the rest of the division that I am a serious threat, and that starts on February 29.”

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