Tagged in: bout

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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Anthony Smith dominates light heavyweight bout with first-round submission of Ryan Spann

Anthony Smith stated two years ago after a title loss to all-time great Jon Jones that maybe he’d never get another opportunity to defeat Jones.

But that was OK, Smith said, because he’d simply outlast Jones — and the rest of the UFC light heavyweight division.

Those comments have aged pretty well.

Smith took out another up-and-comer Saturday night, submitting Ryan Spann with a rear-naked choke at 3:47 of the first round in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.

Smith dropped Spann twice with punches and then finished the job on the ground with his grappling acumen in an outstanding performance.

Smith has five first-round finishes since 2018, tied with Vicente Luque for the most in the UFC during that stretch, per ESPN Stats & Info.

“He’s got the skills,” Smith said in his postfight interview. “I think I’m better.” After referee Herb Dean stopped the fight following Spann’s tap, Smith started jawing at Spann.

The two men had to be separated by security and their teams. Smith took umbrage with some of the trash talk coming from Spann and his team leading up to this fight. But cooler heads prevailed and the two ended up embracing and exchanging pleasantries.

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Smith stated after the bout he wants another streaking prospect next: Aleksandar Rakic. The two fought in August 2020 with Rakic winning by unanimous decision.

“He’s just sitting around,” Smith said. “He’s not next in line for the title. Either I want that fight or I skip it.”

Rakic tweeted seconds later that he was free in December. To that, Smith responded: “Merry Christmas to me.”

Smith clipped Spann with a left hand behind the ear that dropped him early in the first round during an exchange.

Spann was able to get back to his feet after escaping an armbar attempt.

When the two got into another striking exchange, Smith was able to land a big left followed by a right hand that hurt Spann. Another right put Spann down; Smith took his back in a scramble and then cinched in the choke that ended things.

Smith (36-16) has won three consecutive — all by finish — and was coming off a first-round TKO victory over prospect Jimmy Crute.

The Nebraska native lost to Jones, who has since vacated the belt and left the division, at UFC 235 in March 2019. He is 4-2 since then. Smith, 33, has been very solid since moving up to light heavyweight from middleweight in 2018, going 7-3 with wins over former champions Rashad Evans and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, as well as former multiple-time title challenger Alexander Gustafsson.

Spann (19-7) was seeking his first real signature win against a top light heavyweight. The Texas resident was coming off a first-round TKO win over Misha Cirkunov in March.

Spann, 30, has won nine of his last 11 fights and is a former LFA light heavyweight champion.

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Nick Diaz joins brother Nate back in UFC, agrees to September bout vs. Robbie Lawler in Las Vegas

Nick Diaz is formally returning to the UFC.

According to his longtime attorney, Ross Goodman, Diaz, 37, signed a fight agreement Tuesday to face Robbie Lawler at UFC 266 on Sept. 25 in Las Vegas.

Lawler has not signed his agreement yet, sources told ESPN, but wants the fight, and is expected to sign his side shortly. The non-title fight is expected to be five rounds, and will be on the main portion of the pay-per-view card.

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Diaz (26-9) is the older brother of UFC star Nate Diaz, and a pioneer in mixed martial arts.

He is a former Strikeforce welterweight champion, and was involved in big fights with the UFC versus B.J. Penn, Carlos Condit, Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva from 2011 to 2015.

In September 2015, the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended Diaz for five years after he tested positive for marijuana metabolites after his fight versus Silva in UFC 183. It was his third marijuana-related offense in the state of Nevada, which led to the harsh punishment.

Ironically, the NSAC voted just last week in favor of no longer disciplining combat sports athletes for marijuana use.

Diaz and Lawler have a history that runs back to 2004. They met on the undercard of UFC 47. Diaz won via knockout in a highly entertaining contest.

Lawler (28-15) is a former UFC welterweight champion. He won the 170-pound title by defeating Johny Hendricks in 2014 and defended it twice in instant classics versus Rory MacDonald and Condit.

The 39-year-old has dropped his past four bouts, all against very high-level competition.

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Dustin Poirier wins trilogy rematch by TKO after Conor McGregor injures leg in Round 1

Dustin Poirier now owns two triumphs over the biggest star in the history of mixed martial arts. This one, though, didn’t end in the cleanest way.

Poirier hit Conor McGregor with a combination at the end of the first round of Saturday night’s highly anticipated UFC 264 main event. McGregor went to plant his left foot and his leg buckled, sending him to the mat. Poirier followed up with punches on the ground as time expired in the round.

With McGregor clearly hurt, referee Herb Dean called the lightweight fight. The official result was Poirier by TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at 5:00 of the first round. A stretcher was brought in to transport McGregor to the hospital. The video replay showed McGregor’s lower leg bent gruesomely as his foot hit the canvas. UFC president Dana White later stated the injury was to McGregor’s lower tibia and that he will have surgery Sunday morning.

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The finish left the sold-out crowd disappointed. There was a mixture of boos and cheers when Poirier was declared as the winner. This was one of the most anticipated trilogy fights in UFC history.

“I beat the guy,” Poirier said in his postfight interview.

Poirier explained that he hurt McGregor’s ankle on a checked kick and then the ankle buckled at the end of the first round. McGregor denied that it was a checked kick that did it. Poirier picked up his 15th career first-round finish.

“This is not over,” McGregor said.

White said Poirier will fight for the UFC lightweight title next versus champion Charles Oliveira and that when McGregor is healthy he will probably get a fourth fight against Poirier.

“When Conor is healed and ready to go, we’ll do the rematch, I guess,” White said. “Poirier will do his thing until Conor is ready.”

Oliveira told ESPN’s Mike Coppinger he expects the fight with Poirier to possibly be in December.

“It’s really sad what happened [to McGregor], but if you look at Poirier’s game, he’s been improving a lot, he’s been putting a lot of pressure, so he deserves the win,” Oliveira said of Saturday night’s result.

White said he believes that had McGregor not been injured, he would have gotten out of the first round.

“His ankle snapped from throwing punches. He was fighting back,” White said. “It wasn’t like he was up against the cage with Dustin unloading punches on him. If his ankle doesn’t break, I think we get to the end of the round.”

Poirier, for his part, said he and McGregor “are going to fight again, whether it’s in the Octagon or on the sidewalk. … He was saying that he was going to kill me. You don’t say stuff like that.”

Poirier said he wasn’t sure he felt a sense of closure following the trilogy.

“I need to digest it all, because right now, it kind of feels weird,” he said. “It’s not a good feeling.”

Poirier stopped McGregor at UFC 257 in January via second-round TKO. In 2014, at UFC 178, McGregor knocked out Poirier in less than two minutes.

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Jairzinho Rozenstruik authors another buzzer-beater, stopping Augusto Sakai in UFC Fight Night

Jairzinho Rozenstruik has a knack for getting finishes right before the bell.

Less than two years after he earned the latest finish in UFC heavyweight history, Rozenstruik uncorked another buzzer-beater Saturday. The kickboxing standout stopped Augusto Sakai via TKO with punches at 4 minutes, 59 seconds of the first round in the main event of UFC Fight Night.

Rozenstruik pressured Sakai against the cage with the first coming to an end. Sakai attempted to circle off to his right, but Rozenstruik caught him with a stunning left hook and then a right hand behind the ear.

Sakai dropped to the canvas and Rozenstruik swarmed with big punches until referee Herb Dean stopped the action right before Sakai could be saved by the horn.

“As soon as I heard the [10-second] clock — tock, tock, tock — I faked him with the right, hit him with the left and hit him with the right again,” Rozenstruik stated in his postfight interview.

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In December 2019, Rozenstruik finished Alistair Overeem via TKO at 4:56 of the fifth and final round, the deepest a UFC heavyweight bout that ended in finish has ever gone.

ESPN has Rozenstruik ranked No. 7 in the world at heavyweight. He was coming off a loss, so this gets him back on track — and right back into title contention.

“Anybody that’s ranked above me makes sense,” Rozenstruik said when asked whom he wants to fight next. “There’s the top five there. I’m coming for you guys. I’m coming.”

Rozenstruik (12-2) has won two of his past three fights.

The Suriname native struggled to pull the trigger in a unanimous decision loss to Ciryl Gane in February. Rozenstruik wanted to return as quickly as he could to remove the bad taste from his mouth from that loss.

Following a quick knockout loss to top contender Francis Ngannou in May 2020, Rozenstruik bounced back with a TKO of former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos last August. And now he has bounced back from the Gane fight.

Rozenstruik, 33, has several kickboxing titles to his name and is now seeking MMA gold in the future. Sakai (15-3-1) has been one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC heavyweight division.

The Brazil native won four consecutive in the UFC before falling to Overeem by fifth-round TKO last December. He has now dropped two straight.

Sakai, 30, has just those two losses in his past eight battles.

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Donald Cerrone, Diego Sanchez agree to welterweight fight May 8

Two of the biggest fan favorites in UFC history — and a pair of former teammates — will fight this spring.

UFC veterans Donald Cerrone and Diego Sanchez have verbally agreed to a May 8 fight, sources confirmed to ESPN on Thursday. The bout will be contested at welterweight, sources said.

While both fighters’ respective teams have agreed, no contracts have been signed and the fight has not yet been officially declared. Sanchez wrote Thursday on Twitter that the bout versus Cerrone will be his “UFC finale.”

Sanchez and Cerrone were training partners for many years at the storied JacksonWink MMA gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but had a falling out in 2018 when Cerrone left the team. Sanchez has since left JacksonWink MMA, as well.

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Cerrone (36-15, 2 NC) is a surefire future UFC Hall of Famer and one of the best fighters of all time who has not held a UFC title.

“Cowboy” owns the most victories in UFC history (23), the most finishes in UFC history (16) and the most postfight bonuses in promotion history (18). He is tied for the most UFC fights with Jim Miller (36).

Cerrone, 36, is winless in five consecutive and trying to pick up his first victory since May 2019.

Sanchez (30-13) in 2005 was the first-ever tournament winner on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, which is credited with helping take the UFC to the next level in terms of popularity. His 2009 fight with Clay Guida was inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame’s fight wing in 2019.

Sanchez, 39, is tied for the second-most Fight of the Night bonuses in UFC history (7). The New Mexico native is coming off a loss to Jake Matthews at UFC 253 in September but has won three of his past five fights. MMA Fighting was first to report the agreement for the fight.

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Conor McGregor-Dustin Poirier UFC 257 bout to be on Fight Island Jan. 23

The UFC is formally headed back to Fight Island for its first slate of events in 2021, and it includes the return of former two-weight champion Conor McGregor at UFC 257.

UFC president Dana White informed on Tuesday that McGregor’s nontitle lightweight fight versus Dustin Poirier on Jan. 23 will take place on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The pay-per-view-event will cap off a series of three events in seven days: UFC Fight Night events on Jan. 16 and Jan. 20, followed by UFC 257.

A previously announced featherweight fight between former champion Max Holloway (21-6) and Calvin Kattar (22-4) will headline the card on Jan. 16. According to White, a welterweight matchup featuring 2020 breakout star Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) and title contender Leon Edwards (18-3) will serve as the main event on Jan. 20.

Per sources, the UFC is also finalizing a new welterweight matchup between Michael Chiesa (16-4) and Neil Magny (24-7) for the Jan. 20 event. Chiesa or Magny would presumably serve as a potential backup option for the main event, should anything happen to that 170-pound fight.

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Mike Jackson (1-1) will also return to action on the Jan. 20 card in a 170-pound fight versus Dean Barry (3-1), who will be making his UFC debut, per sources. This will mark Jackson’s first fight since his June 2018 victory over former WWE star CM Punk at UFC 225 in Chicago.

This will mark the UFC’s third trip to Abu Dhabi since the promotion’s operations were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in March. The UFC has held its events exclusively in either Yas Island or Las Vegas since mid-May.

Previously, events in Yas Island have taken place without fans inside Flash Forum; however, there has been discussion around moving events to Etihad Arena and including fans. Those details are not yet completed.

This will also mark the second year in a row that McGregor (22-4) headlines the UFC’s first pay-per-view event of the year. He headlined UFC 246 in January 2020, and knocked out Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in just 40 seconds.

That would turn out to be McGregor’s only appearance of 2020. He has fought only twice since capturing the 155-pound title in 2016.

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