Lightweight champion Terence Crawford, the 2014 ESPN.com fighter of the year who is planning to vacate his title and move up in weight for his next fight, is expected to return on March 21 to headline an HBO card, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN.com Friday.

There is no set venue, but the fight will not take place in Crawford's hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, the site of his previous two fights, wins against Yuriorkis Gamboa and Raymundo Beltran. Top Rank is hoping to bring Crawford (25-0, 17 KOs) to New York and have him fight at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Who he will face is not settled.

Moretti said he spoke to Star Boxing promoter Joe DeGuardia about making a fight with former titlist Chris Algieri for the vacant WBO version of the junior welterweight title, but Moretti said they were not remotely in the same ballpark regarding the money. Algieri was stripped of the 140-pound belt when he challenged 147-pound titleholder Manny Pacquiao in a one-sided, six-knockdown loss in November, but he was given the No. 1 contender spot as a consolation. Crawford, as the organization's lightweight titleholder, is entitled to fight for the junior welterweight belt if he wants to.

Moretti said he also talked to Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez about making Crawford against Mauricio Herrera (21-5, 7 KOs), who many believe has been robbed in two of his past three fights -- a majority decision loss to champion Danny Garcia last March and an even more controversial decision loss to Jose Benavidez Jr. in a Dec. 13 interim title bout. However, according to Moretti, Gomez said Herrera declined because he did not believe he would have enough time to get ready.

So Top Rank continues to look at opponents. If they can't come up with an acceptable one it is possible the date might be pushed back.

As for the HBO co-feature, look for Nicholas Walters (25-0, 21 KOs) to defend his featherweight title. Moretti said they are focused on trying to make a deal with Puerto Rico's Gamalier Rodriguez (25-2-3, 17 KOs), who hasn't lost since 2009. Walters, of Jamaica, is coming off a sensational sixth-round knockout victory against Nonito Donaire on Oct. 18.

Thurman's new title is news to him

January, 29, 2015
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Given the proliferation of world title belts, they sure aren’t what they used to be.

In fact, welterweight Keith Thurman had no idea that he had been elevated from a WBA interim titlist to a full titlist until your’s truly asked him about it on a teleconference on Wednesday on which he was promoting his upcoming fight with Robert Guerrero.

[+] EnlargeKeith Thurman and Leonard Bundu
Ed Mulholland/Golden Boy/Getty ImagesKeith Thurman, right, was elevated from interim to full welterweight titlist by the WBA.
“I have not come to find out about that,” Thurman said. “You're the first one to mention anything to me.”

The WBA currently has 39 so-called world titleholders -- including at least two in all 17 weight divisions except lightweight.

“Me and my team, we joke about it all the time that I'm being treated like a champion, because [Floyd] Mayweather has two belts,” said Thurman, who is technically Mayweather’s mandatory challenger. “They have yet to issue a mandatory for it. He doesn't have to take the mandatory. They can issue the mandatory. He could vacate the belt and I could fight for it. I've been saying that for the past year.”

The WBA, which often has three titleholders, sometimes even four, in the same division -- super, regular, interim and unified -- recently changed Mayweather’s designation. It now calls Mayweather a “unified” titleholder and dropped the interim tag from Thurman’s title.

Thurman was surprised to hear it.

“Well, thank you very much for that,” he said. “At the end of the day, man, there's a lot of different alphabet belts out there. If that's what they chose to do, I'm truly grateful for that. It's an honor for them to raise me up to that level, but at the end of the day, man, with a belt, without a belt it doesn't matter. In the ring I'm ready to fight Robert ‘The Ghost’ Guerrero and I'm going to do my job. I'm truly looking forward to it.”

Thurman will defend his belt against former two-division titleholder Guerrero when boxing makes its return to network prime time on March 7 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in the first main event of manager/adviser Al Haymon’s “Premier Boxing Champions” series (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET).

Thurman (24-0, 21 KOs) meets Guerrero (32-2-1, 18 KOs) in the main event and former three-division titleholder Adrien Broner (29-1, 22 KOs) squares off with John Molina (27-5, 22 KOs) in the junior welterweight co-feature.

Wilder's hand injury not serious

January, 29, 2015
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Deontay Wilder, Bermane StiverneAP Photo/Isaac BrekkenDeontay Wilder, right, outpointed Bermane Stiverne on Jan. 17 to claim a heavyweight title.
Newly crowned heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder expects to stay on the schedule he and his team have in mind despite injuring his right hand during his title victory against Bermane Stiverne.

Wilder won a lopsided decision to take the belt from Stiverne on Jan. 17 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, but he injured his right hand -- his most destructive weapon -- in the fourth or fifth round.

After returning home to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, last week, Wilder had X-rays on the hand and later visited a hand specialist in Birmingham. Wilder was diagnosed with a stress fracture in the hand, co-manager and co-trainer Jay Deas told ESPN.com on Thursday.

“It was the exact same injury that Deontay had after the Travis Allen fight [in 2009],” Deas said. “It is in the exact same spot. He had it surgically repaired back then. When the doctor looked at his hand last week he said everything was still in place, the pins, from last time. So Deontay doesn’t need surgery this time.

“They said for him to lay off it for four weeks. Then he will be re-examined to see if he needs a few more weeks off or he can begin training. He will start hand therapy next week. They want the swelling to go down a little more before he starts.”

Wilder had two pins inserted into his right hand during the surgery in 2009. Deas said because the recent injury is not serious Wilder’s planned return remains on target.

“There’s no change to the schedule. Everything looks like it points toward summer, probably June,” Deas said. “We don’t know who Deontay will fight, but June is the aim. We want to be active. In a perfect world we’d like to be back in June, then again in September and then one more before the end of the year. We want to be different. Deontay does not want to sit on the shelf. He’s hungry to fight.”

Wilder’s anticipated June defense could be televised on Showtime, which aired the Stiverne bout, or even possibly CBS, Showtime’s sister network.

Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs), 29, enjoyed a hero’s welcome home to Tuscaloosa following his victory. There was a parade in his honor attended by thousands following by a ceremony.

“It was a big deal and we all had a lot of fun with it,” Deas said.
A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (63-3, 54 KOs) and challenger Bryant Jennings (19-0, 10 KOs) will meet head to head at the kickoff news conference on Wednesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in New York. Klitschko, in his first fight in the United States since a 2008 unification victory (also at the Garden), will make his 18th title defense when he meets Jennings on April 25 (HBO) at the Garden.

• Showtime has added a March 13 "ShoBox" card to its otherwise thin schedule. The card, at a site to be determined, will include middleweight Antoine Douglas (16-0-1, 10 KOs) in the main event against an opponent to be named. Also on what could be a quadrupleheader will be a rematch between super middleweights Andrew Hernandez (8-0-1, 1 KO) and Jerry Odom (12-1, 11 KOs). They met on Jan. 9 and Odom, who was winning handily, was disqualified in the fourth round for blatantly hitting Hernandez after he had already been knocked down. The only other card on Showtime's schedule at this point is a Feb. 20 "ShoBox" headlined by welterweight Sammy Vasquez versus Emmanuel Lartey in Pittsburgh,

• Junior welterweight Jose Ramirez (13-0, 10 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian, will headline a "Solo Boxeo Tecate" card on UniMas on May 9 from the Selland Arena in Fresno, California, his home region, where he is a popular ticket seller. Ramirez's opponent has not been set. When the 22-year-old Ramirez, from nearby Avenal, fought there in October, he drew a crowd of about 10,000 for his first-round knockout of David Rodela.

• Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya has a plan for newly-signed junior middleweight Patrick Teixeira (24-0, 20 KOs) of Brazil. "We'll test him in a 10-rounder on a [Fox Sports 1] card and then we're ready to put him up against anybody at 154 pounds," De La Hoya said. "We're looking to have him fight in March. He will start training here in the states. He's going to be dangerous for anyone at 154."
Mexico’s Daniel Estrada turned in a gutsy performance but was outgunned when he challenged Omar Figueroa for a lightweight world title on Aug. 16. Coming back from that defeat, Estrada can put himself in position for another world title bout with a victory.

Fighting on enemy turf, Estrada will square off with England’s Kevin Mitchell in a title eliminator on Saturday (Sky Sports in the United Kingdom) at the O2 Arena in London with a mandatory shot at newly-crowned 135-pound titlist Jorge Linares at stake.

[+] EnlargeFigueroa/Estrada
AP Photo/Chris CarlsonDaniel Estrada, left, who dropped a lightweight title bout to Omar Figueroa last August, is working alongside Juan Manuel Marquez in training camp.
Mitchell said he's not worried about fighting Mitchell in his hometown.

“I have lots of experience and I've had difficult opponents, even if Mitchell has had more fights than me. I feel this fight is at the right time for me,” Estrada said. “I think that in a fight the only thing that matters are the two boxers in the ring. If people chant things at me, I don't care. It doesn't intimidate me. I know what I have to do in the ring and I'm not scared of fighting in his hometown in front of his fans. We know that we need to take the fight to him. That's my plan, to look for the knockout. I don't want to leave it in the hands of the judges.

“I accept that Omar Figueroa beat me. I recognize my defeat and I have no excuses, I just want to get another chance.”

Estrada (32-3-1, 24 KOs), 29, will have the assistance of two all-time greats in his corner, Hall of Fame trainer Nacho Beristain, their first time working together, and Beristain’s longtime pupil, the great Mexican legend and four-division titleholder Juan Manuel Marquez.

“Working alongside Marquez and the rest of his team will help me do something different in the fight,” Estrada said. “It's the first time I've worked with Beristain but we’re getting on well and I feel in great shape for this fight."

Said Marquez, “The most important thing here is to come in with the mentality that he wants to fight for the world title. He comes motivated and with this big hope to win. Every fighter’s dream is to fight for the world title. That’s why he is here in England.

"Mitchell is a good fighter. I think it’s a difficult fight for Daniel, difficult because of Mitchell’s style and also because the fight is in his country. It’s an interesting and important fight and it will be good for the fans watching. I always say that when a Mexican is in the ring he’s going to put on a good show, and he wants the victory, that’s why fans enjoy fights involving Mexicans.”

Marquez trained regularly with Estrada during his camp.

"I trained or went running with him often and it was a good training camp,” Marquez said. “He comes here in good condition, he comes to win, like all fighters do. He’s doing very well in terms of his condition. It was a tough and hard training camp and he’s here to put on a great fight. Daniel wanted to run in the mountains to be in great shape and get that strength and we’re hoping to see the results of that on Saturday.”

Mitchell (38-2, 28 KOs), 30, is hoping to secure his second world title shot. He got knocked out in the fourth round by then-titleholder Ricky Burns in 2012, but has won five fights in a row since.

“I have been fighting now for 20 years and my dream has always been to be a world champion -- now is the time for that shot at the title,” Mitchell said. “I am mature now. I have no longer got any boyish ways about me and I am ready for that title.

“Time is running out. I have 40 fights. If I can get that world title, then I might have another three or four more years left in the game to make some serious money and call it a day. But right now it's make or break for me, I know that and that's what makes it more interesting. If I can’t beat this kid, I might as well go and get a day job. If I lose this, there won’t be much more left in the sport for me. So it’s 100 percent a fight I have to win and I really do fancy myself to beat him. My maturity of mind will be a strong asset for me.”

Rigo vs. Santa Cruz? Maybe

January, 28, 2015
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Guillermo Rigondeaux and Sod KokietgymChris Farina/Top RankJunior featherweight Guillermo Rigondeaux wants nothing more than a crack at Leo Santa Cruz.

Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya has consistently preached about wanting to make serious fights between the best the sport has to offer. One he has mentioned is a showdown between unified junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and titleholder Leo Santa Cruz, whom De La Hoya promotes.

De La Hoya has more often mentioned his desire to match Santa Cruz (29-0-1, 17 KOs) with featherweight contender Abner Mares, but Rigondeaux’s name has also come up and that has Rigondeaux (15-0, 10 KOs) very happy to hear.

"It's good to know that Santa Cruz's promoter has stated that our unification fight has to happen," Rigondeaux said in translated comments. “I want to add his [WBC] green belt to my WBA and WBO championship collection. I've wanted this fight for some time. Let's hope this is not just idle talk. Let's do it!"

De La Hoya told ESPN.com the sides are discussing the fight for late May or June.

"I'm pretty optimistic," he said. "Talks have begun. Leo wants the fight. Golden Boy wants the fight, Rigo, his promoter and his manager want the fight."

One person De La Hoya didn't mention as wanting the fight is Al Haymon, Santa Cruz's manager, who has a big say -- if not the biggest -- in who Santa Cruz fights.

"I'm not sure if Al would want the fight but the promoters and fighters want the fight," De La Hoya said. "Leo is at a point where he should be fighting the best of the best. At this point I'm not going to promote a fight with Leo if it's not the best opponent for him and for the fans to watch. One thing about Leo is he wants to fight the best."

Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and Cuban defector, has been unwanted by American television networks, leaving him to fight his past two bouts in Asia. He is coming off an 11th-round knockout of Japan’s Hisashi Amagasa in a fight in which Rigondeaux got knocked down twice in an otherwise one-sided contest.

A fight with Santa Cruz, if it happened, would surely draw American network interest.

"I have contacted Golden Boy Promotions many times to ask about making a fight between 'Rigo' and Santa Cruz," said Gary Hyde, Rigondeaux's manager. "They always answered by saying they were interested in making this fight but not at that time. [Tuesday], after learning Oscar said this fight has to happen, I reached out to Golden Boy and can confirm that negotiations have commenced. Myself and Caribe Promotions, Rigo's promoter, will endeavor to make this fight happen as soon as possible.”

Hyde added that should the fight happen and Rigondeaux win, he would want to Rigondeaux to challenge titleholder Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland.

Eight-man tourney at 154

January, 28, 2015
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Tournaments in boxing can spice things up a bit. In more recent times, there was the high-profile Super Six World Boxing Classic, an ambitious round-robin backed by Showtime that resulted in the crowning of Andre Ward as "the man" at 168 pounds.

Last year, ESPN and Banner Promotions brought back the eight-man Boxcino tournaments in two classes, and this season it will have two more tournaments on “Friday Night Fights” in the heavyweight and junior middleweight divisions.

Now add another tournament to the roster as promoter Sampson Lewkowicz and WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman unveiled plans for an eight-man junior middleweight tournament in honor of Sulaiman’s late father, Jose Sulaiman, the longtime president of the WBC.

The tournament, called the Jose Sulaiman Cup, will be an eight-man single-elimination tournament involving fighters from eight countries.

In one bracket will be John Jackson (19-2, 15 KOs), of the U.S. Virgin Islands, facing the Philippines’ Dennis Laurente (49-5, 30 KOs) and Cuban defector Yudel Jhonson (16-1, 9 KOs) taking on Mexico's Jorge Cota (24-1, 22 KOs).

In the other bracket, Sergey Rabchenko (25-1, 18 KOs), of Belarus, will face Argentina's Luciano Cuello (35-3, 17 KOs), and Domonique Dolton (15-0, 8 KOs), of the United States, squaring off with Poland's Lukasz Maciec (22-2-1, 5 KOs).

The winners will meet in the semifinals with those winners meeting for the Jose Sulaiman Cup.

The dates and venues for the bouts have not yet been determined, but Lewkowicz said the first-round bouts will take place in April or May with the fights slated for 10 rounds. The semifinals will be held in September and scheduled for 12 rounds, with the 12-round final to take place in February 2016.

Opening-round tournament participants will receive $50,000 each. Making it to the semifinals means purses of $100,000, and a trip to the finals means a purse of $200,000 to each participant, meaning the fighters who make it to the final will earn $350,000.

"This is a project that is near and dear to my heart," Lewkowicz said. "It was first the idea of the great Jose Sulaiman and had to be postponed when his health began to fail. And so I am honored to be working with Mauricio and the WBC to bring his father's vision to life and honor him by doing so."

Gavin signs with Hearn, targets Brook

January, 27, 2015
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British and Commonwealth welterweight champion Frankie Gavin wasn’t a free agent for long.

Released last week by promoter and manager Frank Warren after they didn’t see eye to eye on coming to terms to various fight offers, Gavin on Tuesday signed with British rival Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing.

Gavin (21-1, 13 KOs), a 29-year-old southpaw and former world amateur champion, had been with Warren since turning pro in 2008.

For his first fight with Matchroom Boxing, Gavin has been added to the March 28 card at Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England, that is being headlined by welterweight world titleholder Kell Brook’s first defense, which will come against mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan. Gavin’s opponent has not been determined.

If all goes well for Gavin, Hearn also announced that he will headline a May 9 card at the Barclaycard Arena in his hometown of Birmingham.

“I can't wait to get going with Matchroom,” said Gavin, who will be moving from being televised on BoxNation to Sky Sports, which has an exclusive deal with Matchroom Boxing. “I don't think many people have seen me fight recently but I am back in Birmingham and back on Sky Sports and the sky is the limit.

“The fight against Kell Brook is the aim for me. I am No. 5 in the IBF rankings and he is the champion. Hopefully, by the end of the year or the start of 2016 I can fight him for the title.”

Said Hearn: “Firstly to Frankie Gavin -- welcome to the team. Frankie has long been one of the most talented fighters in the country and now it's time to shine. I haven't seen him smile for a long time and now it's ‘Funtime,’ time to enjoy his career, the exposure and the big lights. I have lost count of the number of tweets and messages I have had asking us to come to Birmingham and now the waiting is over.”

Hearn also announced that former three-time middleweight world title challenger Matthew Macklin (31-6, 20 KOs), 32, also of Birmingham, will appear on the May 9 undercard. Macklin is coming off a brutal 10th-round knockout loss to Jorge Sebastian Heiland on Nov. 15 in a world title eliminator.

Frampton-Avalos to air on ITV in U.K.

January, 27, 2015
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Carl FramptonCharles McQuillan/Getty ImagesCarl Frampton's title defense against Chris Avalos will appear on network television in the U.K.
In the United States, it's a pretty big deal that big-time boxing is returning to primetime network television on March 7 with Keith Thurman against Robert Guerrero in the main event, thanks to adviser/manager Al Haymon's time-buy deal on NBC.

In the United Kingdom, there has also been a development that is great for boxing as terrestrial network ITV, once an outlet for many of Europe's biggest fights, is also back in the fight game, even if only temporarily.

The network and Barry McGuigan's CWM Cyclone Promotions announced on Tuesday that junior featherweight titlist Carl Frampton (19-0, 13 KOs) will make his mandatory defense against big-hitting American Chris Avalos (25-2, 19 KOs) live on ITV from the Odyssey Arena in Frampton's hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Feb. 28 (with undercard bouts to be screened on ITV4).

"This is a great day for Carl Frampton and CWM Cyclone Promotions but it is also a great day for the sport of boxing," McGuigan, the Hall of Fame former featherweight titleholder, said. "We are very excited to be partnering with ITV in bringing world championship boxing back to the mainstream public. ITV has for the past 30 years been at the forefront of big-time boxing on terrestrial television and it is excellent news that Carl Frampton will become the latest in a long line of world champions who have boxed on ITV. Frampton versus Avalos is going to be a cracking contest between two of the best [junior featherweights] in the world. The viewers on ITV are in for a fantastic evening of world class boxing."

According to CWM Cyclone Promotions, Frampton-Avalos will be the first world title fight in the U.K. to be televised live on terrestrial television since Carl Froch defeated Jean Pascal in a super middleweight title bout in 2008. In 2010, the Amir Khan-Paulie Malignaggi junior welterweight title bout, which took place in New York, was also televised on free TV in the U.K.

"I am delighted to be defending my world title live on ITV," said Frampton, who will be making the first defense of the title he won in September. "When I was a young lad, all of the big fights were on ITV, so to be defending my world title on the channel is a dream come true. Boxing needs mainstream exposure and I am thrilled to be part of its return to terrestrial television with ITV."

It has not been determined if this is a one-and-done for ITV, but hopefully it will lead to more.
Niall Sloane, head of sports at ITV, sounded excited.

"This fight presents an opportunity to showcase a young, exciting British boxer to our audience. We're looking forward to bringing viewers an evening of world class boxing," he said.

The much-anticipated rubber match between welterweight rivals Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado on Saturday night in Broomfield, Colorado, was a complete dud in the ring as a well-prepared Rios blew out an ill-prepared Alvarado, who quit after the third round. But the fight performed well for HBO in terms of viewership.

The first HBO card of 2015 drew an average audience of 1.252 million viewers for the live, first-time airing, according to Nielsen Media Research. The fight peaked at 1.315 million viewers.

The fight was the most watched of the trilogy, whose first two installments, also on HBO, produced classic slugfests.

The first fight, which Rios won by seventh-round knockout in October 2012 on the Nonito Donaire-Toshiaki Nishioka undercard, averaged 816,000 viewers from Carson, California. The immediate rematch in Las Vegas in March 2013 averaged 1.182 million viewers.

Saturday night’s co-feature, Mexican super middleweight Gilberto Ramirez’s hard-fought 10-round decision win against Russia’s Maxim Vlasov, averaged 820,000 viewers, peaking at 946,000. Both boxers were making their HBO debuts.

Vargas headlines card on HBO Latino

January, 26, 2015
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Golden Boy Promotions and HBO are teaming for a rare Thursday night boxing card.

Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya announced Monday that on March 12 at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, HBO Latino -- HBO’s Spanish-language channel -- will air a doubleheader (9:45 p.m. ET/PT) topped by Mexican junior lightweight Francisco Vargas (21-0-1, 15 KOs) taking on Australia’s Will Tomlinson (23-1-1, 13 KOs).

In July, Vargas scored his biggest win as he wiped out former two-division titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez in a third-round knockout victory.

“Vargas is one or two fights way from a world title fight,” De La Hoya said. “He looked sensational against ‘Juanma.’ He’s right there, knocking on the door of a world title fight and Tomlinson and him should be a very competitive fight.”

Vargas, who is managed by De La Hoya’s brother, Joel De La Hoya, said he knows how important the bout is to his career.

"I am preparing for the best Tomlinson can give me. This fight is very important for me. A win would only get me closer to a world title fight,” he said.

Said Tomlinson: "I am very excited to fight Francisco Vargas. He is a hungry, aggressive fighter. I think I have the speed, strength and movement to not only beat Francisco but also to give the fans one hell of a fight and introduce myself to the Latino fans.”

In the co-feature, all-action San Diego junior welterweight Antonio Orozco (21-0, 15 KOs) will take on Emanuel Taylor (18-3, 12 KOs), of Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland.

"I am ready to put up a good fight for the fans. I know Emanuel Taylor is a tough fighter but I am more than ready to showcase my talent,” Orozco said. “This is another step closer to becoming a world champion."

Taylor gave former three-division titlist Adrien Broner all he could handle in a decision loss in his last fight in September.

"I will be 100 percent ready and I know it will be a good fight with Orozco," Taylor said.

De La Hoya said that junior welterweight prospect Frankie Gomez (18-0, 13 KOs), the 22-year-old East Los Angeles product and former star amateur, could be added to the card. If he is, he would open the broadcast, which would become a tripleheader.

“We’re looking at a couple of guys for Frankie,” De La Hoya said. “In a couple of fights Frankie will be ready to take on any of the 140-pounders. We have high hopes for this kid.”

Golden Boy signs unbeaten Teixeira

January, 26, 2015
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Undefeated Brazilian junior middleweight Patrick Teixeira has signed a promotional contract with Golden Boy Promotions, the company announced on Monday.

"Today is a very special day for my professional career," Teixeira said. "My dream was to sign with Golden Boy Promotions and get to know [Golden Boy president] Oscar De La Hoya. I know that more opportunities will open up as a result of my signing on to the exclusive roster of fighters at Golden Boy Promotions and they will guide my career down the right path in order to give great performances for all my fans."

The 24-year-old Teixeira (24-0, 20 KOs), a pro since 2009 but largely untested, has fought primarily in Brazil with three of his fights taking place in the United States and four in Mexico.

"American fans unfamiliar with the hard-hitting power and one-punch knockout potential of Patrick Teixeira will soon know his name -- and so will his opponents," Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya said in announcing the signing. "We look forward to a long relationship with Patrick that ends with him reaching his full potential of winning a world championship belt."

De La Hoya described Teixeira as "very explosive" and having an "in-your-face style." He also compared him to Brazil's most famous fighter in recent years, former junior lightweight and lightweight titleholder Acelino "Popo" Freitas, who was known as a big hitter.

Inoue honored by Japan commission

January, 24, 2015
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The Japan Boxing Commission handed out its 2014 awards at its annual ceremony in Tokyo on Friday and the winner of the big prize was 21-year-old prodigy Naoya Inoue.

Inoue (8-0, 7 KOs) won Japanese fighter of the year honors after a tremendous year in which he won a junior flyweight world title in his sixth fight in June by knocking out respected titlist Adrian Hernandez in the sixth round, defended it in September with an 11th-round knockout of Samartlek Kokietgym, and then moved up two weight classes to win a junior bantamweight title by destroying long-reigning titleholder Omar Narvaez in the second round on Dec. 30.

In receiving the award, Inoue was also presented with his newest world title belt.

“I’m very excited to have my new belt around my waist now,” Inoue said in translated remarks. “I wish to defend this belt as long as possible to break the national record of Mr. Yoko Gushiken’s 13 straight defenses. I’d like to fight [flyweight champion] Roman Gonzalez in the near future should there be an opportunity -- hopefully, in the end of this year.”

Inoue’s knockout of Narvaez also won Japanese fight of the year honors and knockout of year honors.
A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Top Rank’s Bob Arum, who hopes to match featherweight titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko and Nicholas Walters in a unification fight later this year, after each has one more fight, told ESPN.com he has talked to HBO about the possibility of Lomachenko making a defense on the undercard of fellow Ukrainian and heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko’s defense against Bryant Jennings on April 25 at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Arum said Walters could land on the HBO undercard of lightweight champion Terence Crawford’s next fight, which likely will be in April or May (and will probably mark Crawford’s move up to junior welterweight).

• Although Top Rank controls featherweight titleholder Lomachenko, Walters and Evgeny Gradovich, adviser Al Haymon handles former titlist Abner Mares and contender Gary Russell, who lost to Lomachenko a decision for a vacant belt last year. Mares is slated to fight an opponent to be determined March 7 on the Keith Thurman-Robert Guerrero undercard at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Haymon is also trying to put together a fight in which Russell would challenge titlist Jhonny Gonzalez on March 28 on his new “Premier Boxing Champions” series with the idea that Mares, should he win March 7, would face the winner of the proposed Gonzalez-Russell fight in June.

• The reason you didn’t see Brian Kenny hosting Showtime’s Deontay Wilder-Bermane Stiverne card two weeks ago is his contract with the network expired at the end of 2014. According to Showtime, Kenny was offered a new contract but is “weighing his options.” Kenny, according to broadcast industry sources, might become involved in broadcasting Haymon’s “Premier Boxing Champions” series, which will air on NBC, NBC Sports Net and Spike TV beginning in March with other broadcast outlets also likely to be added. Industry sources said Haymon is planning similar time buys for the cards on CBS Sports Net and BET to put on fights involving his vast stable of more than 150 fighters.

• British promoter Frank Warren announced he will not renew his management and promotional contracts with British and Commonwealth welterweight champion Frankie Gavin (21-1, 13 KOs), the 29-year-old former world amateur champion. Warren signed Gavin, one of boxing’s top prospects when he entered the pro ranks, in 2008 and has promoted him throughout his career. No reason was given for the decision.

Alvarado puts distractions behind him

January, 23, 2015
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WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- Former junior welterweight titlist Mike Alvarado has had numerous run-ins with the police over the years and has been in and out of jail. Once again, he faces criminal charges, including a serious one of possessing a gun as a convicted felon.

Police allege that they found a handgun in his car during a Jan. 3 traffic stop around 4 a.m. in his hometown of Denver.

So despite the real prospect of going to jail yet again, Alvarado (34-3, 23 KOs) said his legal issues have not been a distraction as he prepares for his trilogy fight with rival Brandon Rios (32-2-1, 23 KOs), whom he meets in a 12-round welterweight bout Saturday night (HBO, 9:45 ET/PT) at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado, a Denver suburb.

"I don't bring them with me into the ring, and it's not a distraction," Alvarado said. "I have learned to be positive through it and be strong, and it gives me more confidence to be a better person and a better fighter."

Distractions have always been part of Alvarado's life, and often when he is training for fights. So it came as little surprise when he said his latest legal issues will have no impact on the fight as his legal proceedings will take place after it's over.

"I am used to something always going wrong in camp," Alvarado said. "When it is going too good and perfect, I know something bad is going to happen because that's the way it has always been. I have been dealing with adversity my whole life. Adversity has been in my life the whole time, so there are not distractions for this fight."

Alvarado, a father to three daughters, even joked that he didn't miss any time in training camp due to his arrest because he just made up for the one day he spent in jail by training on his usual day off.

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