Tagged in: heavyweight

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.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

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.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

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.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

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.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

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.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

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.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

Derrick Lewis KO’s Curtis Blaydes in biggest UFC main event upset in 5 years

Curtis Blaydes made no apologies about his strategy coming into a huge heavyweight fight with Derrick Lewis. Blaydes was going to use his dominant wrestling early and often. He told anyone who would listen.

Maybe it was a decoy. But Blaydes should have stuck to his original game plan, as Lewis crushed him with an uppercut knockout at 1:26 of the second round in Saturday’s main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.

Blaydes gained confidence on the feet in the first round and attempted only one takedown, which Lewis stuffed. And Lewis, one of the most dangerous KO artists in the history of MMA, made him pay.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

It was the biggest upset in a UFC main event since Michael Bisping defeated Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 in 2016, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Lewis was a +350 underdog, per Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill, ESPN’s odds provider. Bisping was +400 against Rockhold five years ago.

With the stoppage, Lewis ties Vitor Belfort with the most knockouts in UFC history (12).

Lewis also is now tied for the second-most wins in UFC heavyweight history (16) with Frank Mir. Andrei Arlovski is the all-time UFC heavyweight victories leader, with 19.

Saturday’s finish came when Blaydes ducked in, trying to close the distance for a clinch or a takedown. Lewis saw it coming and let loose with a massive uppercut. Blaydes’ body shook on impact, and he was unconscious as he fell to the canvas. Lewis followed up on the ground with punches, until referee Herb Dean came in to pull him off.

“That was the only punch I was waiting for the entire fight,” Lewis said. “I knew he was gonna come in. … That’s all I was waiting for. I wasn’t worried about throwing a one-two, a jab or anything.”

The fight was originally arranged for Nov. 28, but Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19, and the contest was pulled one day prior to the event before official weigh-ins.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

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.”

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

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.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

Usyk to fight Chisora with Joshua unavailable

Usyk is Joshua’s mandatory challenger but will take on Chisora in the interim in what will be just his second fight at heavyweight.

Dereck Chisora has vowed to shatter Oleksandr Usyk’s dream of becoming heavyweight world champion.

The former undisputed cruiserweight ruler is Anthony Joshua’s mandatory challenger but may have to wait until next year for his opportunity.

Joshua is due to defend his three belts versus Kubrat Pulev in June and could then face fellow champion Tyson Fury in December.

In the meantime, Usyk will take on Chisora in just his second fight in boxing’s premier division on May 23.

And the Brit is ready to ruin his rival’s plan and set himself up for a shot at Joshua – and a seven-figure pay day.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

Chisora said: “He is already at the top and could easily have not taken this fight.

“I just hope I don’t scare him too much that he pulls out of the fight. He has the golden ticket and I’m going to take what he has and make it mine.”

Usyk conquered all four belts at cruiserweight in just 16 fights and signed off with victory over Tony Bellew in Manchester.

He stopped Chazz Witherspoon on his heavyweight debut last October and Chisora is all too aware of the challenge in front of him.

He added: “I’m fighting one of the best guys out there, he knows how to box, there’s no two ways about it.

“I can’t get sparring partners who know how to box like him so I’m going unorthodox for this fight, I’ve decided to chuck whatever I can chuck for however long I last.

“I believe he can knock me out but if that doesn’t happen I’m going to keep coming and coming. I’m ready to die in this fight.

“The guy has good foot movement, if I box his way he’s going to win. He can dance around me 24/7 but I know I need to land a couple of punches to slow him down.”

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

Gassiev to return versus Forrest in heavyweight bout

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

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

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

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

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

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

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.

Anthony Joshua wins rematch by unanimous decision

Britain’s Anthony Joshua defeated Andy Ruiz Jr on a unanimous points decision in Saudi Arabia on Saturday to seize back the heavyweight world championship belts he lost to his Mexican-American opponent in a shock upset last June.

The Clash on the Dunes in Diriyah was for the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles and Joshua dictated the pace from the beginning with a measured approach that showed he had learned from the mistakes of the past.

Going into the 12th and final round, Ruiz needed a knockout to pull off another upset but it never came.

The judges scored the fight 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109 to the 30-year-old Briton.

“It was his night, man,” said Ruiz as his six-month reign came to an end, calling also for a third encounter that Joshua seemed to welcome. “If you heard, we’re going to do it a third,” said the taller and more athletic Briton.

Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.

California-based Ruiz had stopped the previously undefeated champion in the seventh round at New York’s Madison Square Garden last June.

Joshua described that shock defeat, to a flabby-looking opponent drafted in as a late replacement, as no more than a ‘minor setback’ and he was happy to make light of it again in victory.

“Man, the first time was so nice, I had to do it twice,” he told the crowd.

“I’m used to knocking guys out but last time I realised ‘hang on a minute, I hurt the man and I got caught coming in’.

“I gave the man his credit. I said to myself I’m going to correct myself and come again.” Another loss in the early hours of Satuday would have sent the 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight champion’s career into freefall, with some saying already after the last fight that the Briton was finished.

Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.