When heavyweight Steve Cunningham faced Amir Mansour and defeated him by 10-round decision -- after getting knocked down twice in the fifth round -- in a terrific slugfest in April, the former cruiserweight titlist made no secret about the reason he continues to fight.

His family is dealing with the mounting medical bills for his 8-year-old daughter, Kennedy, who has a serious heart ailment.

[+] EnlargeSteve Cunningham
Courtesy The Cunningham FamilySteve Cunningham's 8-year-old daughter, Kennedy, needs a heart transplant.
The little girl was ringside for the fight and had a big smile on her face when Cunningham was announced the winner. But given her grave condition, smiles have been hard to come by.

She needs a heart transplant to give her a chance to survive a condition known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, in which the left side of her heart has not completely developed.

Around the time of Cunningham’s fight with Mansour, the family received word that Kennedy, who had open heart surgery when she was 2 days old, another one six months later and spent the first year of her life in the hospital, was not a candidate for a heart transplant.

Despite numerous medical issues, she is closing in on her ninth birthday, a feat in itself. Doctors in her hometown of Philadelphia told Cunningham and his wife, Livvy, that the best they could do was give Kennedy medication to help her heart function, but that eventually it would give out and she would die.

“I was so completely heartbroken the day her doctor sat me down and gave me the news," Livvy Cunningham said. “My world collapsed. I cried for three days straight while I tried to wrap my head around the news and tried to figure out how to live without the hope of a beautiful future for our beautiful daughter. Tried to picture our lives without her. I just couldn't, it was impossible."

At that point, the Cunninghams sought a second opinion. Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh agreed to evaluate her and last month accepted her into its program and put her on the list for a transplant.

"I'll never forget the day I got the call from my wife with the news (that she wasn’t a transplant candidate),” Cunningham said. “I broke down like never before. I lost it. I was in the middle of my training camp for a must-win fight. People close to me told me I should pull out of the fight, that it was too much for me.

“But I knew that I had to fight for Kennedy. She has been through so many battles in her life and has never once given up and I was not going to let her see her father quit. I turned my sadness and fear into determination and on fight night, I had to dig deep. But it was that determination that got me up off the canvas twice to win. We will never give up on Kennedy and are so blessed and excited that the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh has agreed to take her on and list her.”

The Cunninghams will take Kennedy to the hospital in Pittsburgh one or two times a month for checkups while they await a call telling them that there is an available heart. If that call comes, they’ll have four hours to get her to the hospital.

The bills are a hardship for the Cunninghams and they have set up a fund to help them cover the costs of her medical care. So far they have raised a little more than $7,000 of what they hope will be $25,000. To donate, you can go to http://www.heartbyfaith.com/.

Haymon signs more fighters

July, 21, 2014
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A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Manager Al Haymon’s signing binge continues. He has signed welterweight Roberto Garcia and middleweight Caleb Truax, Sam Watson, Haymon’s right-hand man, told ESPN.com. They join a stable that includes more than 50 fighters, many of whom Haymon has signed this year. Garcia and Truax are both being featured on this week’s edition of “Friday Night Fights” on ESPN2 in Chicago. Garcia (35-3, 23 KOs) takes on Breidis Prescott (27-5, 20 KOs) in the main event and Truax (23-1-2, 14 KOs) meets Derek Ennis (24-4-1, 13 KOs) in the co-feature. Both fights are scheduled for 10 rounds.

• With the postponement on Monday of Saturday’s heavyweight rematch between British contenders Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora because Chisora fractured his left hand in his final sparring session, AWE, which was due to televise the card in the United States, has dropped its coverage plans. Although the Fury-Chisora II main event is off, the card is still going on but will not have American television coverage now.

• Iron Mike Productions announced a card that will take place at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Aug. 8 (Fox Sports 1) that will be headlined by hometown favorite Samuel Vasquez (15-0, 11 KOs) facing James Stevenson (21-0, 14 KOs) of Baltimore in a 10-round welterweight fight. Ievgen Khytrov (5-0, 5 KOs), a 2012 Olympian from Ukraine, is also on the card against Willie Fortune (17-1, 8 KOs) in a six-round middleweight fight.

New date for Molina-Bundrage

July, 21, 2014
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There’s been a change of date for junior middleweight titleholder Carlos Molina’s mandatory defense against former titlist Cornelius “K9” Bundrage.

They were due to meet Sept. 6 in Cancun, Mexico, but the date has been switched to Oct. 11, still at the Grand Oasis Cancun resort, Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules told ESPN.com on Monday.

“Sept. 6 was the date we wanted to do it, but it just didn’t work out, so we had to move the date because of the arena availability and the hotel room availability,” Margules said.

Margules said he is working to finalize a deal with Mexican broadcaster Televisa and that Oct. 11 was better for the network. There is no American television lined up for the fight, but Margules said he was confident there would be.

The fight is taking place in Molina’s native Mexico because the longtime Chicago resident was deported after it was discovered in March that he was in the United States illegally.

Molina (22-5-2, 6 KOs), 31, will be making his first title defense. Bundrage (33-5, 19 KOs), 41, of Detroit, won the belt from Cory Spinks by fifth-round knockout in 2010 and made two successful defenses before losing it to Ishe Smith by majority decision in February 2013. Smith then lost the title to Molina in his first defense. Bundrage easily outpointed Joey Hernandez on Jan. 24 in a title eliminator to become Molina’s mandatory challenger.

New opponent for Tapia set

July, 21, 2014
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Exciting junior middleweight Glen Tapia will remain on the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Geale undercard on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Passaic, New Jersey’s Tapia, 24, was supposed to face New Yorker Boyd Melson but Melson suffered an apparent torn left rotator cuff injury in sparring last Tuesday and dropped out of the fight. But Top Rank has secured a new opponent to face Tapia in an eight-rounder.

He will face Salim Larbi (19-5-2, 7 KOs), 27, of France. Although 3-4 in his last seven bouts, he is experienced, having lost a 12-round decision to prospect Jack Culcay in his last fight in April and having also suffered losses to Canadian contender Antonin Decarie and former world title challenger Lukas Konecny in an interim title fight.

Tapia (21-1, 13 KOs) is seeking his second win in a row since starting to train with Hall of Famer Freddie Roach in the wake of his rough sixth-round knockout loss to James Kirkland in December.

Montiel aims at fourth title

July, 21, 2014
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Mexico’s Fernando Montiel has won world titles in three weight classes -- flyweight, junior bantamweight and bantamweight -- and pines for one in a fourth division.

In the twilight of his 18-year professional career, Montiel, 35, has dreams of a world title at featherweight, where he is now campaigning.

With that goal in mind, Montiel (51-4-2, 38 KOs) returns to action to face Jesus Rios (30-5-1, 21 KOs), 30, of Mexico, on Saturday night (beIn Sports Espanol, 11 ET) in Villafores, Mexico.

“I want a fourth world title at featherweight,” Montiel said. “First I have to win on Saturday against Rios and then talk to my promoter Zanfer about making a title fight.”

Montiel has defeated opponents such as Isidro Garcia, the late Pedro Alcazar, Ivan Hernandez, Martin Castillo and Hozumi Hasegawa, and he has suffered losses to Nonito Donaire, Jhonny Gonzalez and Hall of Famer Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson.

Since a decision loss in November 2011 to Victor Terrazas, who later won a junior featherweight world title, Montiel has won five fights in a row.

He said he trains regularly, even when he doesn't have fight lined up, and has a dream fight before retiring.

"I'm always in the gym, no matter what, whether I have fights or not,” he said. “I always train in Los Mochis in the gym of my father and brothers preparing for whatever comes. I would love a fight with Jorge ‘Travieso’ Arce. Hopefully, he will accept before we both retire from boxing.”

A Montiel-Arce fight would match two of the most decorated Mexican stars of the past decade.

Tete claims vacant 115 title

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
11:38
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South African southpaw Zolani Tete (19-3, 16 KOs) rolled to a lopsided decision against Japan’s Teiru Kinoshita (19-1-1, 3 KOs) on Friday in Kobe, Japan to win a vacant junior bantamweight world title.

The judges all had it for Tete, 119-109, 118-110 and 118-110.

Ace Japanese boxing correspondent Joe Kozumi reported that Tete, 26, a southpaw with a five-inch reach advantage, dominated by sticking his jab into Kinoshita, 28, throughout what he described as “a monotonously one-sided affair. Probably even Tete hadn’t expected such an easy and lopsided victory before the contest, as Kinoshita was just a disappointment (who) showed nothing throughout the bout. He looked pathetic without a game plan to win.”

Tete and Kinoshita were vying for the 115-pound belt left vacant when Daiki Kameda lost a unification fight to Liborio Solis in a December bout that Solis won by decision but the belts were vacant because Solis failed to make weight.

Kameda signs with Haymon

July, 17, 2014
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10:30
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Bantamweight titlist Tomoki Kameda, who looked great in his one-punch body-shot knockout in the seventh round against Pungluang Sor Singyu on last week’s Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara undercard in Las Vegas, has been ordered to make his mandatory defense.

Japan’s Kameda, who also signed this week with powerful adviser Al Haymon -- meaning we are likely to see him fighting regularly in the United States -- must next face mandatory challenger and interim titleholder Alejandro Hernandez. The WBO made the order on Tuesday. The sides have 30 days to make a deal or a purse bid will be ordered. Minimum bid is $100,000.

Kameda (30-0, 19 KOs), who turned 23 on the day of his fight last Saturday, has made two defenses. He is the latest addition to the growing Haymon stable that includes numerous top fighters, most notably Floyd Mayweather Jr., along with others such as Danny Garcia, Marcos Maidana, Adrian Broner, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Lucas Matthysse, Amir Khan and dozens of others.

Hernandez (28-10-2, 15 KOs), 28, of Mexico, claimed the vacant interim belt via unanimous decision against Daniel Rosas on June 14. Hernandez scored a first-round knockdown and won on scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 114-113.
Junior middleweight Glen Tapia is in need of a new opponent.

The all-action fighter from Passaic, New Jersey, was scheduled to face Brooklyn's Boyd Melson in an eight-rounder on the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Geale card next Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York.

However, Melson dropped out of the bout on Thursday after suffering a left rotator cuff injury on Tuesday in one of his final sparring sessions in preparation for the fight. It’s been a chronic injury for Melson (14-1-1, 4 KOs), a southpaw, who has had two surgeries on his rotator cuff so far.

“I felt it stretch when I was throwing a punch and I immediately knew something wasn’t right,” Melson said. “I tried to work through it but the pain only got worse. First, my shoulder started to throb, then it got cold. Since I hurt my rotator cuff and had surgery twice in the past, I know what a tear feels like.

“I didn’t want to believe it because I’ve worked incredibly hard and understand the significance of the Tapia fight. Not only was it a dream of mine to fight at Madison Square Garden, but a victory over Tapia would’ve put me in position to start earning significant money for Team Fight to Walk [the charity he donates his purses to].”

Top Rank promotes Tapia and had made a deal with K2 Promotions to put him on the card next week. Top Rank matchmaker Brad “Abdul” Goodman said he is looking for a new opponent to face Tapia (21-1, 13 KOs), 24, who will remain on the card if an opponent can be secured.

'Ref Cam' to be used on FNF

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
10:06
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Fight fans are in for a little bit of a different perspective if they are watching this week’s “Friday Night Fights” (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes, 8 p.m. ET).

The card, which takes place at the Paramount Theater in Huntington, New York, will feature referees Steve Willis and Pete Santiago wearing point-of-view cameras to give viewers a first-person point of view of the fights, according to ESPN. The cameras, which will be mounted on both referees using two lapel pins, will be used live and during video replays. This marks the first time a referee camera has ever been used on “FNF.”

“We are always looking to innovate and provide viewers access to things they cannot have access to themselves,” said Matt Sandulli, the senior coordinating producer of the series. “This camera will put viewers in the ring and give them a view of the fight that only a limited number of people in the world have ever seen. We’d like to thank the New York Athletic Commission and referees Steve Willis and Pete Santiago for working with us to make this happen.”

David Berlin, the executive director of the New York State Athletic Commission, had to sign off on the cameras.

“We appreciate ESPN’s introduction of the ‘ref cam’ to bring a new dimension to ‘Friday Night Fights,’” Berlin said. “The New York State Athletic Commission is always working with promoters and networks to advance the sport and welcomes new technology that does not interfere with our regulatory function.”

In the main event, Emanuel Taylor (17-2, 12 KOs) faces Karim Mayfield (18-1-1, 11 KOs) in a 10-round junior welterweight bout and Cletus Seldin (13-0, 10 KOs) meets Bayan Jargal (17-5-3, 10 KOs) in the eight-round junior welterweight co-feature.
Flyweight prospect Zou Shiming, the two-time Chinese Olympic gold medalist on the verge of fighting for a world title, is in the main event. Junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, one of boxing’s most skillful fighters, is on the undercard in a title defense.

But the most intriguing fighter on Top Rank’s card on Saturday (HBO2, 5 p.m. ET/PT) from the Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena in Macau, China, just might be Mexican super middleweight prospect Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (28-0, 22 KOs), a 23-year-old southpaw with good looks and a big punch.

Ramirez opens the HBO2 telecast against Junior Talipeau (20-2-1, 7 KOs), a New Zealand native living in Australia, in a scheduled 10-round fight in which he can make a big impression and put himself in position for some big business in the 168-pound division.

Based on his past two fights, Ramirez is ready to make a jump up in class. In February, he became the first man to stop durable journeyman Don Mouton, knocking him out in the first round. In April, Ramirez made his ESPN2 debut and blew out former world title challenger Giovanni Lorenzo in a five-round domination.

Ramirez is aiming to continue his undefeated run.

“I am very excited to be making my HBO debut on this card and I want to make a good impression so I can continue fighting on HBO. This is the Zurdo Ramirez era and I want to shine,” he said through a translator. “I am prepared for Junior Talipeau and I am prepared to give a good show on Saturday. I want to prove -- in the most emphatic terms -- that I am ready to challenge for a world title.”

He also said he was stoked about fighting in Macau, Asia’s new boxing mecca.

“This is my first time in Macau and I love it,” he said. “The Venetian Macao is fabulous and the fans here are great. The climate in Macau is similar to [my hometown of] Mazatlan and I had no problem adjusting to the time-zone change. My punches land just as hard here as they do in the Western Hemisphere.”

Talipeau, 30, hasn’t lost since a split-decision defeat in 2011, having won three in a row since, although he hasn’t faced top names. Still, he aims to end Ramirez’s undefeated streak.

“I am impressed with Ramirez’s accomplishments but I am not intimidated by them,” he said. “I intend to attack him early and bang his body and head and stop him late in the fight.

“It’s a great incentive to be the first one to blemish his perfect record and derail his world title shot plans. I did not travel to Macau to be another number in Ramirez’s victory column. I came here to win. I came here to hurt.”
HBO, Showtime and ESPN all could have had the fight and didn’t pick it up. It’s a fight that would have been right in the Epix wheelhouse, but that network is now out of the boxing business.

Thank goodness for AWE (formerly WealthTV), which has been picking up various fights from Europe and on Thursday announced that it had made a deal for one of the most interesting fights of the summer.

It will offer live coverage of the all-British Tyson Fury-Dereck Chisora heavyweight rematch on July 26 from the Phones4u Arena in Manchester, England. The fight will also be streamed on the AWE website, but only available to existing members, according to the network.

The fight is for Chisora’s European title and the vacant British title but the bigger stakes are the fact the winner will also become a mandatory challenger for world champion Wladimir Klitschko.

Fury (22-0, 16 KOs), 25, and Chisora (20-4, 13 KOs), 30, first met in July 2011 in a much-hyped showdown and they engaged in an exciting fight, although Fury pounded his way to a clear decision against an obviously out of shape Chisora -- who suffered his first loss -- to win the British and Commonwealth titles.

Fury and Chisora, who have relentlessly trash-talked each other, appeared on the same card on Feb. 15 and each recorded victories to pave their way into the rematch.

"We are ecstatic to bring this five-star fight to the fans,” AWE CEO Robert Herring said in announcing the acquisition. “This fight has so many storylines that range from the great first fight to two guys that really dislike each other to the belts and of course a shot at Klitschko. There will be a winner in the ring but the big winners will be the fans of the United States who will get to witness this can't miss heavyweight fight on AWE.”

Andrade wants a piece of Canelo

July, 16, 2014
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Junior middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade, like every other 154-pounder, wants to fight Canelo Alvarez because it means big money and recognition.

Andrade (21-0, 14 KOs), a 2008 U.S. Olympian, hasn’t had a really big fight yet. He won his title in November and made his first title defense on June 14 by dominating mandatory challenger Brian Rose. He dropped Rose twice and stopped him in the seventh round of a blowout.

Andrade has nothing scheduled, although a fight with former welterweight titlist Joshua Clottey has been thrown around. But what Andrade, 26, of Providence, Rhode Island, wants is a major fight, which one with former unified titleholder Alvarez would be.

Alvarez, who outpointed Erislandy Lara last Saturday night in a Showtime PPV headliner, is slated to fight again in November and has no opponent lined up. So Andrade, of course, is throwing his name into contention.

"I read some comments that Oscar [De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter] made to Lara after the fight that there is a line about 10 people deep to fight Canelo, and Lara would have to get to the back of it,” Andrade said. “What Oscar failed to mention is that line forms behind me.

"I am the WBO champion and I am undefeated. As I look down the rankings, I just defeated my mandatory Brian Rose, and Alvarez is ranked No. 2 by the WBO. He will be elevated to No. 1, and I am ready and willing to fight him for my title. I just hope he would be prepared for the beating I will put on him."

It’s hard to blame Andrade, an outstanding technical boxer with underrated power, for calling Alvarez out. If the fight ever did happen Andrade would probably give him fits if not beat him outright.

Price sidelined by hand surgery

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
12:20
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British heavyweight David Price, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and 2012 ESPN.com prospect of the year, will be sidelined until December.

Price (18-2, 15 KOs) underwent surgery to repair a damaged tendon in his right hand on Tuesday, promoter Sauerland Event announced. The surgery, performed by hand specialist Dr. Mike Hayton, was deemed a success and Price will be out until the end of the year.

“I picked up a hand injury in my last fight against (Yaroslav) Zavorotnyi,” Price said of his lopsided 10-round decision win on June 14. “It had been four weeks and there had been no real improvement so I went to see Mike Hayton and we decided to open it up and see what the problem was. There was a split in the tendon and some scar tissue that had to be removed. It is still a little sore now but Mike was pleased with how it went and he is confident that my hand will be back to full strength in no time.

“Realistically we will be looking at December before I am able to get back in the ring. I am going to stay in the gym. There is still a lot of work I can do. I will just need to avoid any impact training for the time being. I am glad I have got this sorted now.”

Price said he considered fighting through the injury and waiting to have the surgery but decided against it.

“There was the option to take a fight in September, get an injection and fight through the injury but then you run the risk of making it worse or causing some permanent damage,” Price said. “There is no doubt that I will benefit from the additional time in the gym and come back even stronger. It is a minor setback but by the end of the year I will have boxed four times in 2014 and that is a massive step in the right direction. Next year I will be ready to take on anyone.”

Price, 31, has won three bouts in a row since his stunning back-to-back upset knockout losses to American Tony Thompson in 2013.
Heavyweight titleholder Bermane Stiverne is headed toward a mandatory defense against Deontay Wilder, a fight that probably will happen in November.

Since that is several months away, Stiverne and Wilder have plenty of time to keep up their smack talk before they lay hands on each other.

Stiverne is more of a quiet, laid-back type compared to Wilder, who has had all kinds of things to say about Stiverne. No problem, as far as Stiverne is concerned.

"He's not going to get under my skin," Stiverne said. "I think he's funny. Maybe he should think about doing a comedy act after I beat him? Friends have sent me stuff he's said and done. It's funny. He's like a little kid who needs attention, so he keeps opening his mouth.

“His trash-talking doesn't bother me at all. I saw some people who brought up what he's said. What am I supposed to do, hand my title to him? I guess he wants to entertain his fans. If he thinks his tricks are going to bother me, he's going to be in big trouble."

On May 10 in Los Angeles -- in an excellent action fight -- Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KOs) scored a sixth-round knockout of Chris Arreola in a rematch to win the world title vacated in December by the retiring Vitali Klitschko. The Stiverne-Arreola winner was obligated to face Wilder (31-0, 31 KOs) next.

Wilder, although a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist with a perfect knockout record, remains untested against a legitimate opponent. Camille Estephan, Stiverne’s manager, said when Wilder fights Stiverne, the difference in experience will show.

"Wilder is a clown," Estephan said. "No respect! What's he ever done to act like this? Look who he's fought. Bermane is going to expose him and shut him up for good. His actions are ill-advised. Wilder doesn't realize he's in for such a rough ride and a very big surprise. We're happy to fight him, mandatory or not."

Stiverne said he just doesn’t think Wilder is ready for him yet.

“Wilder's not a threat, but I'm taking him seriously. I take all my opponents seriously, but I'm going to teach that little kid a lesson,” Stiverne said. “It's a shame his promoter [Golden Boy] and manager [Al Haymon] are putting him in such a big fight like this so early in his career."

Stiverne has enjoyed the past few months since winning a title, including having boxing fans recognize him when he was at last week’s Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara fight in Las Vegas, where he lives.

"My life hasn't really changed too much other than my popularity growing," Stiverne said. "My Instagram followers went from 2,000 to 13,000 from one picture. There hasn't been one day I haven't done something in public. I expected change, but not like this. People used to look at me and ask if I played in the NFL. I've had people tell me they always thought I was a football player until they saw me fight Arreola. Places I used to stand in line to get in, well, I don't stand in line anymore.

"I try to stay on the down-low. I'm not out clubbing every day, or feel that I have to do something in public. I'm available, but closer to the fight, I'll shut down everything four to five weeks out unless it has to do with the promotion. I don't think it has fully hit me yet. It will when I go back to Haiti to meet President [Michel] Martelly."
Junior middleweight contender Willie Nelson was out of action for a year because of left elbow surgery, but returned June 7 on the Miguel Cotto-Sergio Martinez undercard to drill soft-touch Darryl Cunningham in the first round.

Cleveland’s Nelson (22-1-1, 13 KOs) came out of the fight with his elbow feeling good and will be back in a tougher fight when he headlines the Aug. 8 edition of “Friday Night Fights” (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes, 9 ET) at the Churchill County Fairgrounds in Fallon, Nevada, promoter Lou DiBella announced on Tuesday.

Nelson will face Luis Grajeda (17-2-2, 13 KOs) of Mexico in a scheduled 10-rounder.

In the eight-round super middleweight co-feature, 18-year-old Hungarian prospect Norbert Nemesapati (14-0, 13 KOs) will make his U.S. debut against Lennox Allen (17-0-1, 10 KOs). The opening bout will feature the heavily hyped four-round pro debut of heavyweight Zhang Zhilei, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist from China.

“Willie is knocking on the door to a world title opportunity and an impressive performance against the hard-punching Grajeda moves him in that direction,” DiBella said. “The co-feature pits two undefeated boxers in the most important fight of their careers. Norbert is on the fast track to stardom and is looking to make an immediate impact on the super middleweight division in his U.S. debut, but this is the type of opportunity that Lennox has been waiting for, to prove that he is among the best 168-pound fighters in the world. It is a true crossroads bout, with the winner clearly cementing himself as a legitimate player in the division.

“Opening up the card, you have Zhilei, a silver medalist who many believe has the ability to be a future star in the heavyweight division. This is a big event for the people of Fallon and we are excited to be a part of it.”

Nelson, 27, has won six fights in a row since a majority decision loss in an eight-rounder to Vincent Arroyo in 2011.

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