Tagged in: 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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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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Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua heavyweight title rematch set for Aug. 20

The heavyweight title rematch between Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua is now set for Aug. 20 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, sources told on Thursday.

The fight was originally being planned for July 23, but now Joshua will have nearly 30 more days to work with new trainer Robert Garcia.

When they met last September, Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) dominated Joshua en route to a unanimous decision victory to capture three heavyweight titles. Joshua, 32, quickly exercised the rematch clause, and neither boxer has competed since.

In the meantime, Joshua parted ways with Robert McCracken, the only head trainer he’d ever had in the pros. McCracken also led Joshua to a gold medal in 2012 as the head coach of the Great Britain Olympic boxing team.

Another change for Joshua comes on the broadcast side.

The British star has competed exclusively on Sky Sports for the past eight years, but his deal expired after the Usyk fight. Earlier this week, the streaming service DAZN announced Joshua has signed a long-term deal to fight exclusively on its platform.

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“I am entering a new phase in my career with a new training environment, new coaches and now a new broadcaster,” said Joshua, ESPN’s No. 4 heavyweight. “Negotiations at this level take time, so I am pleased to have it all wrapped up and now I can fully focus on giving the fans and DAZN what they want — knockouts in the glamour division.”

But it was Usyk, 35, who seemed on the verge of scoring the stoppage in Round 12. The former undisputed cruiserweight champion — and fellow Olympic gold medalist — lives in Ukraine with his family and was there when Russia invaded in February.

In March, Usyk decided to leave the war-torn country so he could prepare for the rematch and the first defense of his three titles.

This will be Joshua’s second fight in Saudi Arabia. After losing his three titles to Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019 in New York via seventh-round TKO, Joshua exacted revenge with a decision victory over Ruiz in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in December 2019.

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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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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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Promoter — Deal done for Anthony Joshua-Tyson Fury heavyweight title fight

Anthony Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn stated a deal for the world heavyweight champion to meet Tyson Fury in an undisputed world heavyweight title fight this year is all but done, with a venue in the Middle East a front-runner to host it.

Joshua defeated Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev last month to keep his IBF, WBO and WBA titles to set up the prospect of a mouth-watering clash with fellow Briton Fury who holds the WBC belt.

“The deal is done, really — without being signed,” Hearn told the Times.

“The financial elements of the deal are done. We’re talking through the broadcast situation, the only thing really now is to paper it. “And when you paper a deal like that, it does go back and forwards 15 times before every single letter is approved on the document.”

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Fury has not fought since beating American Deontay Wilder in their Las Vegas rematch in February to claim the WBC crown.

Fury and Wilder had a rematch clause in their contract but they couldn’t make the fight.

Hearn said Joshua and Fury would face off in two fights — with the first likely to be in the Middle East later this year — and he hoped to bring the rematch back to Britain.

“The Middle East will be aggressive and will be front-runners in this. To stage this fight, you need significant government support. You need someone who is staging this fight as a statement for their country,” Hearn added.

“I’d like it [the rematch] to be [in the United Kingdom]. Where? Millennium Stadium.”

Fury’s American promoter Bob Arum has stated before that he is “95 per cent confident the fight happens”. Arum said: “I don’t want to make a deadline, but I just can report that everything so far has been going splendidly, and we hope to have a signed document within the next couple of weeks.

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Anthony Joshua dispatches Kubrat Pulev via KO, sets up prospect of Tyson Fury bout

Anthony Joshua returned to ruthless form by dispatching Kubrat Pulev in nine rounds in London on Saturday to set up the prospect of facing Tyson Fury in 2021.

The WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion kept his titles by turning on the power switch to drop Pulev twice in the ninth round. It was Joshua’s first knockout victory since his previous performance on home soil, in September 2018.

Pulev crumbled to the canvas under a barrage of right uppercuts and was then finished by a straight right hand.

Floyd Mayweather Jr., the retired former pound-for-pound boxing No. 1, had made the trip from the United States to be among 1,000 present at the SSE Arena and was the first to congratulate Joshua at ringside.

Since halting Alexander Povetkin two years ago, the English boxer lost his titles via a shock knockout to American Andy Ruiz Jr. before regaining them on points a year ago.

This was a much more explosive performance from Joshua than the Ruiz rematch, as Joshua floored tough Pulev twice in Round 3 and twice in Round 9 in front of the first crowd at a professional boxing event in the U.K. since March.

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A second defense in his second reign as world heavyweight clears the way for Joshua to fight either rival world heavyweight champion Fury, his fellow Englishman, or Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk first in 2021.

Fury, regarded as the world No. 1 heavyweight by ESPN after stopping Deontay Wilder for the WBC title in February, would be the preferred choice, but because of mandatory defense obligations, former undisputed world cruiserweight champion Usyk might be the first person in the opposing corner to Joshua in 2021.

“It’s not about the opponent — it’s about who has got the belt, and if that’s Tyson Fury, let it be Tyson Fury,” Joshua said. “It’s one fight at a time, picking them off one by one.”

Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn stated he wants Fury to be Joshua’s next opponent in 2021, despite the obstacles, including legal action Wilder has brought to enforce a third fight with Fury.

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Teofimo Lopez upsets Vasiliy Lomachenko to become youngest four-belt champion

There is a new lightweight king. At just 23 years old, Teofimo Lopez became the undisputed lightweight champion of the world by dethroning Vasiliy Lomachenko over 12 tense rounds inside the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Lopez becomes the youngest fighter to become a four-belt champion since the WBO was founded in 1988.

After a strong start, Lopez overcame a late Lomachenko rally to win by the scores of 116-112, 119-109 and 117-111.

The fight was dominated early by the boxing of Lopez, who controlled the center of the ring by using his educated left hand and then hit Lomachenko with well-placed body shots that had the smaller boxer backing up.

Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) built a big lead on the scorecards as he was able to neutralize the graceful movements of Lomachenko (14-2, 10) behind that jab. For most of the first half of the fight, Lomachenko just moved around the ring and did very little offensively. It was clear the technical acumen and poise of Lopez was vastly underrated. For long stretches of the bout he was actually outboxing the master boxer.

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Yet Lomachenko didn’t give up without a fight. As the fight entered the late stages, Lomachenko, sensing he was behind, started to ramp up the pressure and began to close the gap on Lopez. He struck him with quick, laser-like left hands that slowed the momentum of Lopez. To his credit, Lomachenko put together a late rally in the championship rounds.

“I think the first half of the fight he got more rounds than I did, but in the second half of the fight I took over,” Lomachenko said. “I was much better.”

But if a late statement was needed by Lopez, it was made in the 12th and final round.

Despite Lopez’s father saying he had the fight won entering the last round, Lopez kept the pressure on and got his hand moving, landing several significant power shots that halted Lomachenko in his tracks. Only a clash of heads that caused a gash over Lopez’s left eye stemmed the tide.

“I’m a fighter,” Lopez said after the fight regarding the 12th round. “I gotta dig in deep. I knew he was coming. I didn’t know if they had him up on the scorecards or not, and I love to fight. I can bang, too. I don’t care, man. I’ll take one to give one. That’s what a true champion does. I find a way to win.”

This round was a late exclamation to what was a sterling presentation by a young man who fulfilled the destiny of his outspoken father, who prophesied that not only would his son win a world title by his 15th fight, but he would topple a boxer many consider the best in the sport by his 16th.

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