Tagged in: bout

Kaitlin Young to replace injured Julia Budd vs. Kayla Harrison in PFL 6 main event

A programmed battle between a former Bellator champion and a defending PFL champ will have to wait.

Former Bellator women’s featherweight champion Julia Budd is out of a planned July 1 fight versus Kayla Harrison in PFL due to an undisclosed injury, sources told ESPN. In Budd’s place will step women’s MMA pioneer Kaitlin Young, sources said.

Harrison vs. Young, a regular-season women’s lightweight matchup, is set to be the main event of PFL 6 in Atlanta.

ESPN has Harrison ranked No. 8 in the world on its pound-for-pound women’s MMA list. The two-time defending PFL women’s lightweight champion has earned two Olympic gold medals in judo and is undefeated in MMA.

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Harrison (13-0) is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Marina Mokhnatkina on May 6, giving her three points in the PFL women’s lightweight regular season.

The Ohio native, who lives and trains in Florida, is second in PFL’s current divisional standings.

Harrison, 31, had finished five consecutive fights before Mokhnatkina. Young (12-12-1), a league alternate this season, went 1-2 in PFL last season, including a loss to Budd last October. The 36-year-old Minnesota native has a striking background — including a black belt in taekwondo — and has been a pro MMA fighter since 2007.

Budd (16-4), lost her first fight this season to Genah Fabian, but was granted three points due to Fabian’s weight miss. Mathematically, the 38-year-old Canadian fighter could still make the playoffs, especially if another fighter falls out, but it is unlikely.

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UFC fight between lightweights Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon canceled again

The fight between a pair of UFC lightweight luminaries seems to be cursed.

For the second time, Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon has been canceled the day of the planned bout,. Lauzon had to withdraw because of a non-weight-cut-related medical issue, the promotion said. The contest was arranged as the UFC Austin co-main event Saturday night.

“So I’m not fighting Cowboy Cerrone tonight,” Lauzon said on Instagram. “The freakiest weirdest thing ever: I weigh-in officially, I got sit down, and I got to put my socks on, I turn my knee out, and my knee locks out.

“I’ve dealt with meniscus injuries on both knees, but this knee in particular, had it cleaned out a bunch of times, but when it does lock up, I can usually straighten out, it unlocks, totally fine, 100 percent, immediately. This time, I’m now surrounded by all the fighters, commission, Cowboy’s in the room, I’m trying not to make a scene and let people know there’s not a problem with my knee. Eventually, I end up hopping on one of my cornerman’s back, acted like I was choking him like we were joking, but I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t walk at all.”

Cerrone and Lauzon were supposed to fight at UFC 274 on May 7 in Phoenix, but that time Cerrone fell ill the morning of the fight, forcing a cancellation. Cerrone vs. Lauzon was first scheduled for April 30, but moved from that date and now it appears it will have to move again.

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Both men are among the most popular and exciting fighters at 155 pounds and closing in on their career twilight.

Cerrone (36-16, 2 NC) is winless in six consecutive fights and has not won since 2019. The 39-year-old New Mexico resident is tied for the most victories in UFC history with Jim Miller and Andrei Arlovski (23).

“Cowboy” also is tied for the most fight-night bonuses in UFC history with Charles Oliveira (19) and owns the second most finishes in the promotion ever (16).

Lauzon (28-15) is coming off a first-round TKO win over Jonathan Pearce in October 2019 and has not fought since. The 38-year-old Massachusetts-born fighter is tied with Nate Diaz for the second most fight-night bonuses in UFC history (15) and has the second most finishes in UFC lightweight history (13), behind Cerrone.

UFC Austin is headlined by a featherweight contender bout between Calvin Kattar and Josh Emmett.

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Dmitry Bivol scores stunning unanimous decision victory over Canelo Alvarez in Las Vegas

Dmitry Bivol, in one of the biggest boxing upsets in recent memory, scored a unanimous decision over the sport’s top star, Canelo Alvarez, on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.

All three judges scored the fight 115-113, but the fight wasn’t nearly that close. Still, Bivol needed to win the final rounds on all three cards to avoid a draw. Equally puzzling: All three judges scored the first four rounds for Alvarez.

The judges’ view aside, Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) was in control from the opening bell, as he used his size (including a 4-inch height advantage at 6 feet tall to the 5-foot-8 Alvarez), range and jab to keep his light heavyweight title in his ninth defense.

“I prove myself today, I’m the best [in my division],” said Bivol, who resides in Saint Petersburg, Russia, but didn’t have his national anthem played at a time when many of his countrymen are being barred from competing in major sporting events due to the war in Ukraine. “Eddie Hearn, sorry I broke your plans with Gennadiy Golovkin.”

The long-awaited trilogy fight between Alvarez and Golovkin, the biggest event boxing can deliver, was already signed for Sept. 17. Instead, Alvarez stated he plans to exercise his contractual right to an immediate rematch.

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“It doesn’t end like this,” said Alvarez, who entered the ring rated No. 1 pound-for-pound by ESPN.

“No excuses, I lost today; he is a great boxer … I felt his power. He comes in and he goes out. He manages his distance really well.”

As Bivol said, “Rematch? No problem.”

The 31-year-old Bivol used beautiful footwork to circle away from Alvarez’s power shots and stay out of harm’s way during the early rounds, yet Bivol also stood his ground and fired three- and four-punch combinations that met the mark.

Alvarez (57-2-2, 39 KOs) tore through the opposition at 168 pounds over the past 16 months and collected all four world titles to capture the undisputed super middleweight championship, but an attempt to regain a 175-pound title proved to be too much.

The defeat is Alvarez’s first since 2013, when he was just 23 and outclassed by Floyd Mayweather.

And like the all-time great, Bivol employed expert counterpunching set up by the jab to pile up rounds.

The 31-year-old Mexican boxer applied plenty of pressure and found some success on the inside, particular with a right uppercut he ripped through Bivol’s guard on occasion. But Alvarez wasn’t able to sustain his attack.

Bivol, ESPN’s No. 2 light heavyweight, was the far cleaner puncher throughout the fight. He caught many of Alvarez’s powerful shots on his gloves and arms, his left biceps swollen and red when the final bell rang.

“He beat my arm up but not my head,” said Bivol, who was a 4-1 underdog, per Caesars Sportsbook. “He kept hitting me in the arms, and I kept hitting him in the face … I expect that. I watched the fight against Callum Smith.”

Alvarez had targeted Smith’s arm in an attempt to take away the jab and left the Englishman with a torn biceps in their December 2020 fight. Versus Bivol, the strategy didn’t work.

Bivol landed a surprising amount of flush shots — 152 connects to 84 — and Alvarez’s face was already red by the end of Round 1. Alvarez is used to being in control, but he often appeared frustrated, particularly down the stretch as the seconds ticked away on his impressive run at the top of the sport.

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Kell Brook defeats Amir Khan in six rounds in nontitle catchweight bout at AO Arena

For years Kell Brook has insisted he has the beating of Amir Khan, and on Saturday he executed his game plan to perfection when he stopped his British rival in six rounds.

Brook troubled Khan with his power from the start before overwhelming him amid a furious, one-sided attack at the start of the sixth round to prompt a stoppage in a nontitle catchweight fight (149 pounds) just above the welterweight limit at the AO Arena.

Brook (40-4, 27 KOs), from Sheffield, who made three defenses of the IBF world welterweight title during a reign from 2014 to 2017, had Khan rocking in the first and fifth rounds, before relentless pressure in the sixth forced the stoppage.

Khan (34-6, 21 KOs), who was knocked out by Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in 2016 when he jumped two weight classes to fight for the world middleweight title, was stopped on his feet, but defeat had looked inevitable for a while. Khan got out-landed 79-34 in total punches (64-19 in power punches), and just could not handle Brook’s power.

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After at least six years of serious attempts to make this clash between two bitter rivals who live about 50 miles apart, but whose paths have repeatedly missed each other, Brook celebrated wildly with his team in the ring after the stoppage.

“It was just a matter of time before I was getting him out of there,” Brook said.

“Those are the fights I wanted to be involved in when I walked into a gym as a kid. I knew from 18 years old I was a better fighter than him. He had the push and promoters behind him because he won an Olympic medal.”

Brook had to change gloves in the ring before the fight after a dispute about gloves and wraps, but Brook remained completely focused.

“They tried to get into my head,” Brook said.

When Brook looks back at his career, this might be his most satisfying and proud moment, and revives some hope he can remain in big fights.

For Khan, however, a sixth professional defeat might be enough to convince him to retire.

“I’ve had 40 fights, winning two world titles, fighting in America and around the world,” Khan said. “I need to sit down with my family. But it is more towards the end of my career. In the ring, I didn’t have excitement and that push. That’s maybe a sign that I should call it a day, but let’s see.”

Both 35-year-olds were in decline before their overdue meeting. Brook last held a world title in 2017, while Khan’s reign at junior welterweight ended in 2011.

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Charles Oliveira to defend title vs. Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 in May, Dana White says

UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira will seek his second title defense versus Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 on May 7, UFC president Dana White told ESPN on Wednesday.

The UFC is working on finalizing the 155-pound title fight shortly. The pay-per-view event now contains two title fights. Brazilian light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira will face Jiri Prochazka on the same date.

The UFC has not revealed an official venue. It had considered holding it in Brazil, but the card is now expected to take place in the U.S.

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Oliveira (32-8) is coming off a spectacular year in 2021.

The 32-year-old from Brazil won the vacant title by knocking out Michael Chandler in the second round of an exhilarating title fight in May, and finished off the calendar year with a comeback submission triumph over Dustin Poirier for his first title defense.

Gaethje (23-3) has been waiting for another crack at UFC gold since former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov retired in October 2020. Gaethje, of Arizona, challenged Nurmagomedov for the title in the final fight of Nurmagomedov’s career.

His record made him worthy of fighting for the vacant title right away, but he was forced to pick up one more win before earning the shot.

That win came versus Chandler in November at UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden, where Gaethje won the fight via decision.

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Deiveson Figueiredo edges past rival Brandon Moreno to reclaim featherweight title in trilogy bout

Mexican fans showed up in droves on Saturday to witness the UFC’s first Mexican-born champion, Brandon Moreno, defend his title for the first time. But by the slimmest of margins, Deiveson Figueiredo spoiled the party.

Figueiredo (21-2-1) reclaimed the 125-pound title he lost to Moreno (19-6-2) in August by defeating his rival in a unanimous decision. All three judges scored the flyweight title fight, which co-headlined UFC 270 inside the Honda Center, in favor of Figueiredo, 48-47.

Saturday’s result brings the rivalry to an even record of 1-1-1. The two fought to a draw in December 2020, before Moreno dominated Figueiredo in their second meeting. After losing by submission in the rematch, however, Figueiredo looked like a completely different fighter in the trilogy, as his cardio and mental preparation was obvious.

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“Today is my day,” Figueiredo stated. “For this moment, for Brandon, for us to give you the gift of a fight of the night, for everyone who was here. I’ve been away from my family for four months. I’m ready for a fourth fight against Brandon in Mexico.”

According to UFC Stats, Moreno outlanded Figueiredo 106-95 in total strikes.

But Figueiredo landed several devastating strikes, including a heavy right hand that knocked Moreno down, badly hurting him, at the end of the third round.

“I feel like I threw the better combinations with more speed, maybe he connected a little bit more power,” Moreno said. “Obviously, I thought I won, but it is what it is right now. I feel I was putting better pace on the fight. I don’t know. I need to watch the fight again and see what happened.”

The trilogy fight saw the best of both men. Moreno’s boxing and footwork were on display all night. He had great success with his left hook at the end of exchanges and was hard to track down in wrestling scrambles. Figueiredo answered with heavy low leg kicks that knocked Moreno off balance and powerful right hands.

Figueiredo left his native Brazil ahead of Saturday’s fight to train with former flyweight and bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo in Arizona, and his adjustments clearly paid off. His patience was better, and his weight cut during fight week was noticeably improved from August.

Moreno’s popularity exploded after he acquired the belt. Saturday’s crowd was heavily in his favor and played a big role in the UFC setting a new gate record at the Honda Center. In the main event, Francis Ngannou fought Ciryl Gane for the UFC’s heavyweight championship.

The loss was Moreno’s first since May 2018.

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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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Max Holloway edges Yair Rodriguez in bloody, back-and-forth UFC Fight Night main event

Yair Rodriguez, blood coming from several cuts on his face, pointed his finger and planted it in Max Holloway’s chest. Holloway, face swollen and bleeding from above his right eye, took his fist and patted it versus Rodriguez’s face.

Holloway’s legend continued Saturday with a unanimous-decision victory (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) over Rodriguez in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. And Rodriguez’s own lore leveled up after a warrior-like performance in a losing effort.

The back-and-forth bout, which ended up as one of the best of 2021, could have been a torch passing moment from Holloway, the former UFC featherweight champion, to the up-and-coming Rodriguez. Instead, Holloway, nicknamed “Blessed,” earned another huge victory in a historic career.

Rodriguez pushed Holloway to the brink, rallying with an elbow that cut Holloway in the fifth round. But Holloway held on.

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“If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best — and the best is ‘Blessed,’ baby,” Holloway said in his postfight interview.

Both fighters were taken to a hospital after the fight.

Holloway outlanded Rodriguez in important strikes 230-159, per UFC stats. The 389 combined significant strikes are the third largest total in a single fight in UFC history — and Holloway has been involved in each of the top four highest totals, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Holloway landed 251 total strikes, becoming the first fighter to eclipse 3,000 total strikes in a UFC career. His 2,848 significant strikes are also a UFC record. Holloway is the only fighter in history to have 25 UFC fights and never get knocked down.

“Insane,” UFC president Dana White said. “It was one of the best fights I’ve ever seen.”

Holloway is arguably the best featherweight in UFC history, holding the 145-pound title from 2017 to 2019 with three title defenses. ESPN has Holloway ranked tied for No. 9 in the world in its pound-for-pound MMA rankings. At featherweight, Holloway is ranked No. 2 and Rodriguez is No. 8.

“Max is an amazing fighter,” Rodriguez stated. “He has a lot of experience. He’s done an amazing job. I have nothing to do but accept [the loss].”

Afterward, Holloway was noncommittal about what he wants next. He mentioned a possible title fight at lightweight, another shot at the man who took the featherweight title from him in Alexander Volkanovski, and even being on “the short list” for a fight versus Conor McGregor, who beat Holloway in 2013.

“We’re ready whenever,” Holloway said.

Holloway, 29, owns the most wins (18), most KO/TKO wins (8) and most stoppage victories (10) in UFC featherweight history. Rodriguez (13-3, 1 NC) was undefeated in three consecutive fights coming in and has just two losses in 10 UFC fights.

The Mexico native had not fought since a unanimous-decision victory over Jeremy Stephens in October 2019. Rodriguez, 29, owns the record for the latest knockout in UFC history, a spectacular back elbow finish of “The Korean Zombie,” Chan Sung Jung, with one second remaining in the fifth and final round in November 2018.

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Anthony Joshua exercises right to rematch with Oleksandr Usyk for heavyweight championship

Anthony Joshua exercised his contractual right to an immediate rematch with Oleksandr Usyk for the unified heavyweight championship, Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, revealed on Saturday.

Hearn stated he plans to stage Usyk-Joshua 2 in early spring.

“Back in the game and looking for him to become a three-time world champion,” Hearn said.

Joshua, 31, had 30 days from last month’s upset defeat to Usyk to inform the other side, in writing, that he was exercising the rematch clause. Neither boxer can stage an interim fight before the rematch.

The battle of Olympic gold medalists from the 2012 Games wasn’t all that competitive despite Joshua’s advantage in size and heavyweight experience.

Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) was boxing as a heavyweight for just the third time but neutralized Joshua’s edge in size and strength with superior quickness, boxing smarts and footwork.

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The former undisputed cruiserweight champion appeared on the verge of stopping Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) in the closing seconds of a fight that featured no knockdowns, though Joshua was stunned on several occasions.

Joshua, a U.K. star, emerged from the bout with a badly damaged right eye and sat on his stool for minutes after the fight concluded.

The unanimous-decision loss was the second of Joshua’s career. His other defeat was a shocking seventh-round TKO loss to Andy Ruiz Jr.

That fight also contained a rematch clause and Joshua made good use of it by exacting revenge via decision six months later in Saudi Arabia.

Usyk, a 34-year-old Ukrainian, is ESPN’s No. 2 heavyweight and No. 9 pound-for-pound boxer. Joshua is ESPN’s No. 4 heavyweight.

Usyk’s tremendous victory spoiled plans for a Tyson Fury-Joshua super fight in the first half of 2022. Fury and Joshua hoped to meet Aug. 14 in Saudi Arabia before an independent arbitrator ruled that Fury owed Wilder a third fight.

They meet Saturday for the WBC heavyweight championship (9 p.m. ET, ESPN+ PPV). The WBC ruled that if the winner of Saturday’s bout doesn’t unify with Usyk next, that the victor will be ordered to fight Dillian Whyte, the long-standing WBC No. 1 contender.

If Whyte can upend Otto Wallin on Oct. 30 in London, he could be in line to fight Fury or Wilder in the first half of 2022.

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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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