Tagged in: fight

WBC orders Luke Campbell-Ryan Garcia fight for interim lightweight title

The WBC has ordered a fight between Luke Campbell and Ryan Garcia for the organization’s interim lightweight title.

This occasion became available after the WBC’s top-rated lightweight, Javier Fortuna, opted to face Jorge Linares on Aug. 28. Campbell and Garcia are ranked second and third by the WBC, respectively.

“I’m finally getting to fight a southpaw my favorite fighters to fight! Bring it on luke Campbell,” Garcia wrote on Twitter. The entire WBC lightweight title scenario is a bit of a quagmire. The WBC “franchise” champion is Vasiliy Lomachenko, the organization’s regular champion is Devin Haney, and Fortuna-Linares will be contested for the WBC’s “Diamond” title.

It’s not clear just how this will ultimately be cleared up, or if the winner of Campbell-Garcia will face any of the other champions in the foreseeable future.

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While it’s an enticing matchup on paper, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this fight is destined to happen.

Both sides must come to an agreement, and recently Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs) and his promotional company, Golden Boy Promotions, have been at odds. The popular young prizefighter was arranged to kick off Golden Boy’s return to action on July 4, but was unable to come to terms.

It has become a very public spat between the two parties, who are meeting later this week, according to Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions.

“We just got the letter today [from the WBC], so we’re in the process of talking to Ryan,” Gomez said. “We’re going to talk to his team, we’re going to see what he wants to do.

“That’s one of the guys he’s said repeatedly that he wants to fight,” Gomez said regarding Campbell.

First and foremost, it seems as though the relationship between Garcia and Golden Boy has to be mended. “We’re meeting with team Ryan later this week, most likely Friday,” Gomez said.

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Usman vs Masvidal agree to UFC 251

It will still take clearing some legitimate hurdles to reach the finish line, but according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal have completed negotiations and agreed to terms for a last-minute bout to serve as the main event of Saturday’s UFC 251 card in Abu Dhabi. 

With the new UFC 251 main event now essentially being cleared on paper, both warriors will undergo COVID-19 testing in Las Vegas and immediately enter quarantine while awaiting the results. Should Usman and Masvidal both test negative, then they will be en route to Abu Dhabi as soon as possible from there. With 48 career fights under his belt, Masvidal would serve as the fighter with the most MMA appearances before receiving his first title shot. 

Shortly after the news of the agreement broke, UFC president Dana White posted a hype video to Twitter which seemingly confirmed that he was able to secure the new blockbuster main event. 

The inaugural Fight Island card saw its original headliner fall apart Saturday when top contender Gilbert Burns pulled out of a shot at Usman’s title after testing positive for COVID-19.

Masvidal, the ceremonial BMF champion, was the opponent UFC initially targeted for Usman before negotiations went sideways and Masvidal started a public protest over fighter pay. 

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Masvidal (35-13) spent his July 4th holiday undergoing the first of what would be multiple coronavirus tests while negotiating the fight, per photos released on social media by his manager, Malki Kawa.

The 35-year-old brawler rose from journeyman status in 2019 with a trio of stoppage victories which earned him global fame and Fighter of the Year honors. 

Among the major hurdles facing the proposed fight are the logistics of how the fighters would safely arrive in the United Arab Emirates amid quarantine protocols in such a last-minute scenario.

Usman (16-1) did not board a chartered UFC flight which carried fighters, trainers, media and promotional personnel upon hearing the news of Burns (19-3) pulling out. 

In the event the fight does not take place, the original co-main event of featherweight champion Alexaner Volkanovski taking on former titleholder Max Holloway in a rematch would take top billing. The card also contains a vacant bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan and former featherweight king Jose Aldo. 

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Vergil Ortiz on Golden Boy’s first card during coronavirus pandemic

Highly regarded welterweight Vergil Ortiz will face veteran Samuel Vargas on July 24 in Golden Boy’s first fight card since the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to boxing events across the world in mid-March.

The card will take place at the Fantasy Springs Casino Resort in Indio, California.

“We’re just excited, happy to be back with our fighters,” said Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions. “Especially a guy like Vergil who was scheduled to fight before the shutdown. He was 10 days out from fighting, so I’m just happy he gets to fight again, and we’re back at it.”

For the time being, Golden Boy’s cards in California will be held without an audience.

Ortiz (15-0, 15 KOs) is considered one of boxing’s best young fighters. The 22-year-old native of Grand Prairie, Texas, has stopped everyone he has faced thus far as a professional. In 2019, Ortiz stopped Mauricio Herrera in three rounds, and then Antonio Orozco in six.

Ortiz and Vargas were initially organized to clash on March 28 at The Forum in Inglewood, California, before that card was canceled. “I’m very thankful and excited to be headlining the first Golden Boy event after the quarantine,” said Ortiz, who has been training with Robert Garcia in Riverside for the past few weeks.

“I’m happy that it’s still with the same opponent, so basically we’re picking up where we left off. It’s going to be a tough fight, and it’ll be a great way to kick off the year for me.”

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Ortiz is facing a seasoned veteran in Vargas (31-5-2, 14 KOs), who has faced Amir Khan, Luis Collazo, Danny Garcia and Errol Spence over the course of his career.

“I think that everything happens for a reason,” said Vargas, who has been in Las Vegas in recent weeks, preparing for this fight. “I think this time off benefited me. I’m ready to upset the world. I believe I can come out with the win. The world is a weird place right now. The show will be different. There will be no supporters, but I have no doubt I’m going to win.”

As Golden Boy officials started to put this card together, they found a rather limited pool of options to draw from, in terms of selecting boxers.

“There’s a lot of guys that just weren’t ready,” Gomez said. “They hadn’t been to the gym because [gyms] were closed, they didn’t train, do road work, sparring or anything. Now it’s a little better, but we’re not in the clear yet.”

The co-feature arranged for July 24 is a 10-round lightweight contest between Hector Tanajara (19-0, 5 KOs) and Mercito Gesta (32-3-3, 17 KOs). Other fights include an eight-round middleweight fight between Shane Mosley Jr. (15-3, 9 KOs) and Jeremy Ramos (11-8, 2 KOs), a women’s junior flyweight fight between Seniesa Estrada (18-0, 7 KOs) and Jacky Calvo (12-5-2, 1 KO), and a clash between prospects Hector Valdez and Evan Sanchez.

There’s no indication when spectators will be allowed back into any sporting events, and from Golden Boy’s perspective, the hope at this point is just to try to get the first few cards off the ground smoothly.

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Caraballo cuts half pound late to make weight

Boxing is set to return to Las Vegas on Tuesday as all 10 boxers on the five-fight card weighed in effectively. However, there was some weigh-in drama ahead of the first boxing event in the city since Feb. 22.

Headliner Shakur Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs) weighed in at 130 pounds, but his adversary in the 10-round fight, Felix Caraballo (13-1-2, 9 KOs), missed on his first attempt, coming in at 130.5 pounds. Per the rules of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Caraballo had an hour to make the weight and he was able to cut the final half pound to hit the 130-pound limit.

This is a non-title bout for the WBO 126-pound champion Stevenson, who has yet to make his first title defense since winning the belt in October.

He was arranged to defend that title on March 14 in New York City versus Miguel Marriaga, but that fight was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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After Mikaela Mayer tested positive and her fight was removed on the card, the heavyweight match between Jared Anderson (3-0, 3 KOs) and Johnny Langston (8-2, 3 KOs) was elevated into its spot. Anderson weighed at 236 pounds and Langston was 218.3 pounds.

Here’s a look at the rest of the card: Heavyweight: Guido Vianello (6-0, 6 KOs, 239.25 pounds) vs. Donald Haynesworth (16-3-1, 14 KOs, 294.5 pounds), Middleweight: Quatavious Cash (11-2, 7 KOs, 160.5 pounds) vs Calvin Metcalf (10-3-1, 3 KOs, 158.3 pounds), Featherweight: Robeisy Ramirez (2-1, 2 KOs, 126 pounds) vs. Yeuri Andujar (5-3, 3 KOs, 125 pounds).

During this weigh-in, everyone inside the facility wore masks. The fighters wore foot coverings as they stepped on the scale. The scale was then sprayed and wiped with disinfectant after each bout was set. There were no faceoffs and the boxers posed for pictures on stage several feet from one another.

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Hybrid combat card relocated, won’t test for Virus

A 13-fight hybrid card arranged for Saturday in Topeka, Kansas, has been moved to Abilene and will not involve any testing for COVID-19 beyond temperature checks and questionnaires.

A few weeks ago, fighters on the card — which will feature boxing, kickboxing, bareknuckle fighting combat, jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts — were given a COVID-19 participation questionnaire by the Kansas Athletic Commission.

Once at the weigh-in facility, fighters will have their temperatures taken.

They are asked to wear masks while in Kansas and adhere to other social distancing protocols. Saturday’s show, initially scheduled for the hangar at Forbes Field, will take place without a live audience at the Never Surrender MMA gym in Abilene, Kansas.

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“Basically our goal is to ensure that no one who has symptoms of COVID-19 gets close to the other participants,” Dr. Matthew Bohm, the head physician for the Kansas commission, told ESPN. “So from a standpoint of the way we run medical clinics now is that when people come to the front door, they aren’t allowed in the building until they answer questions.”

Each training team will be limited to four individuals. Everyone involved in the fight — fighters, promotional team members, production staff, and commission members — must abide by the established regulations.

Adam Roorbach, the boxing commissioner for the state, said the plan is for portions of the card to be brought to the venue. Then, as they finish with their assignments, another batch of fighters will be brought into the venue to keep the number of people inside the building as low as possible at any given time.

“It’s going to be a bit of a logistical nightmare for the fighters and uncomfortable for their corners, but it’s just what has to be done at this point,” Roorbach told ESPN.

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Saucedo-Fredrickson to top June Vegas card

The Alex Saucedo-Sonny Fredrickson fight has been rearranged.

BoxingScene.com has learned that Saucedo and Fredrickson will square off in a 10-round junior welterweight bout June 30 at an undetermined location in Las Vegas. ESPN is expected to televise the Saucedo-Fredrickson fight as part of a show that’ll air on a Tuesday night.

Saucedo (29-1, 19 KOs) and Fredrickson (21-2, 14 KOs) were supposed to square off April 25 in a non-televised fight on the Naoya Inoue-Johnriel Casimero undercard at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., Saucedo’s promoter, is in the process of completing a deal to stage a series of cards in June and July at an MGM Resorts International property in Las Vegas.

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The 25-year-old Saucedo knocked out Rod Salka (24-6, 4 KOs) in the first round of his only fight since Maurice Hooker, then the WBO junior welterweight champion, stopped him in the seventh round in November 2018 in Oklahoma City, Saucedo’s hometown. Fredrickson, who’s also 25, lost a 10-round majority decision to Samuel Teah (17-3-1, 7 KOs) in his last fight, November 14 in Washington, D.C.

Saucedo-Fredrickson will be part of the fourth week of fights for Arum’s company upon its return from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pending approval from the Nevada State Athletic Commission at its next meeting Wednesday morning, Top Rank will return with an ESPN card June 9.

Shakur Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs), the WBO featherweight champion, is projected to headline that show, which also will take place on a Tuesday night. Stevenson’s opponent hasn’t been solidified, but whomever it is will face Stevenson in a 10-round, 130-pound, non-title fight.

Arum told BoxingScene.com on Tuesday that Top Rank will return with three ESPN shows that second week of June. Cards also are being prepared for June 11 and June 13, a Thursday night and Saturday night, respectively. 

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Lomachenko, Lopez eye Sept. unification fight

Boxing is preparing for its return to the ring in a big way amid the coronavirus pandemic.   

Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez are ready for a lightweight unification fight, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN’s Steve Kim.

“In talking with Lomachenko and Lopez, neither of them want an interim fight,” Arum said. “So we would plan to do that in September, with or without an audience.”

Kim said Lomachenko and Lopez had discussed a May event at Madison Square Garden before the sports world was effectively put on hold due to COVID-19.

Now there’s talk of Las Vegas as the host city, and with or without fans, Arum is ready to cash in.

“It certainly would be a pay-per-view,” Arum said. “… It’s a big fight that we can do something spectacular, in conjunction with the Las Vegas Convention [and Visitors] Authority. Do a big outdoor event. There’s a lot of innovative stuff you can do, and still adhering to the mandate of social distancing.”

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At 14-1, Lomachenko last fought versus Luke Campbell at the O2 Arena in London on August 31, 2019, earning a unanimous decision. In the ring afterward, he called for a unification fight.

Lopez, 15-0, has been out of the ring since he overcomes Richard Commey by TKO in December. 

It may have taken nearly a year to reach the point of negotiations between the two camps, but the long-awaited matchup is finally in the works.

“We don’t need no tune-ups,” Lopez’s father, Teofimo Sr., said. “We are focused with Lomachenko. That’s all we want is Lomachenko.”

Lomachenko is reportedly back home in Ukraine but has a green card to re-enter the United States when it is safe to do so.  His manager, Egis Klimas, said they’ll fight under just about any circumstance. The only thing that matters is if Lopez is standing in the ring once Lomachenko enters. 

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Ferguson, Gaethje make weight for UFC’s return

Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje both made weight Friday ahead of their fight for the interim lightweight title at UFC 249 on Saturday. 

According to ESPN’s Marc Raimondi, both Ferguson and Gaethje weighed in at 155 pounds in Jacksonville, Florida, which is where UFC 249 will take place.

The event is set to be held at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena with no fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic. UFC 249 will mark the first event from the organization since UFC Fight Night: Lee vs. Oliveira on March 14 in Brazil.

Ferguson and Gaethje had been expected to headline UFC 249 on April 18, but the event was postponed after UFC President Dana White said he was told to “stand down” by ESPN.

The fight is a replacement for the originally scheduled bout of Ferguson vs. UFC Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who has been unable to travel outside of Dagestan, Russia, due to travel bans brought on by COVID-19.

With Khabib unable to fight currently, the winner of Ferguson vs. Gaethje will go on to face him at a later date to determine the UFC Lightweight champion.

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The 36-year-old Ferguson is the No. 1 contender for the title. He owns a career professional record of 25-3 with 12 victories by way of knockout and eight by submission. He is on a 12-fight winning streak, with his last two victories coming over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Anthony Pettis.

Gaethje, 31, is the fourth-ranked lightweight and owns a career record of 21-2 with 18 of those victories coming by knockout. Gaethje lost two fights in a row to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier in 2017 and 2018 but has since bounced back to win three consecutive, including a knockout victory over Cerrone in September 2019.

Other major fights planned for UFC 249 include Henry Cejudo vs. Dominick Cruz for the UFC Bantamweight title, a heavyweight title eliminator between Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik and a featherweight contest between Jeremy Stephens and Calvin Kattar.

Cejudo, Cruz, Ngannou, Rozenstruik and Kattar all made weight, but Stephens came in overweight, which could put his fight versus Kattar in jeopardy.

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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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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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