HBO re-signs Lampley, Kellerman

March, 4, 2015
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HBO Sports announced on Wednesday that it has extended its contracts with broadcasters Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman in "new multi-year deals."

Lampley, the legendary blow-by-blow announcer on its boxing coverage, and Kellerman, the main analyst, will continue in their roles, HBO senior vice president and executive producer Rick Bernstein said.

"For more than two decades, Jim has been the signature voice of HBO boxing," Bernstein said. "Jim's incomparable knowledge of the sport of boxing and his work on our many boxing programming initiatives, along with his own boxing studio program, have made him universally recognized as the best in the sport and the captain of our boxing coverage. We're thrilled Jim will continue to bring his high journalistic standards and talents to the HBO audience for many years to come."

Lampley, who has been calling fights for HBO since 1988 after previously calling fights for ABC, will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on June 14.

"I am delighted and grateful for the chance to continue my richly rewarding relationship with the No. 1 network in television," Lampley said. "In sports as in entertainment, HBO presents the greatest of all opportunities to report complex truth, and there are no sports truths more profound and complex than those illuminated by boxing."

Kellerman has been with HBO Sports since 2005, after previously having been a studio co-host on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."

"Max has been an invaluable asset to the HBO Boxing franchise since joining us ten years ago," Bernstein said. "His passion, instincts and historical knowledge all play a key role in making our broadcasts impactful."

"The privilege of calling the best fights in the sport is second only to working alongside all of the extraordinary people in the HBO family," Kellerman said.

The new season of Lampley's "The Fight Game with Jim Lampley" kicks off March 17 (HBO, 11 p.m. ET/PT). Joining Lampley will once again be Kellerman and Michelle Beadle to discuss boxing's biggest news stories and personalities. There were eight episodes in 2014 and the plan is for the same number this year.

PBC finds TV home in U.K.

March, 4, 2015
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One of the most frequently asked questions that I have been getting on social media in recent days -- non-Mayweather-Pacquiao category -- is whether the "Premier Boxing Champions" cards will be televised in the United Kingdom, where the fight fans are nothing if not passionate.

The answer is yes.

While the series kicks off on Saturday night on NBC (8:30 ET) in the United States, the fights from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas will also be available live on subscription boxing channel BoxNation in the U.K.

BoxNation announced a multi-fight deal to air adviser/manager Al Haymon's series on Wednesday.

So far BoxNation is booked to air three fight cards as part of the deal: Saturday night's card that includes welterweight titlist Keith Thurman against Robert Guerrero and junior welterweight Adrien Broner against John Molina Jr.; the March 13 card (Spike TV in the U.S.) that includes welterweight Andre Berto against Josesito Lopez and Shawn Porter against Roberto Garcia; and the April 11 card (NBC in the U.S.) that includes junior welterweight champ Danny Garcia against titleholder Lamont Peterson in a nontitle fight and middleweight titlist Andy Lee defending against former titlist Peter Quillin.

Saturday's BoxNation coverage begins at 1:30 a.m. U.K. time, March 13 begins at 2 a.m. and the April 11 start time is to be announced.

U.K. fans figure to have particular interest in the winner of the between Ireland's Lee and Quillin is mandated to face British contender Billy Joe Saunders later in the year.

"BoxNation continuously looks to deliver the very best fights out there for our viewers. This agreement once again demonstrates our commitment to boxing and our aim of airing the very best shows, both domestically and internationally, to our loyal subscribers," said Jim McMunn, BoxNation's managing director.

Smack talk from Andrade, Lara

March, 3, 2015
Mar 3
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Demetrius Andrade AP Photo/Eric GayDemetrius Andrade wants a crack at fellow junior middleweight titlist Erislandy Lara.

Junior middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade is doing something nobody does -- calling out titleholder Erislandy Lara for a unification fight. Based on the heated rhetoric between camps it just might work.

Andrade (21-0, 14 KOs), who has not fought since June, pulled out of a December defense, scheduled to be on Showtime, against Jermell Charlo because he was unhappy with his $300,000 purse. But his father/trainer Paul Andrade said they ultimately did agree to face Charlo in a postponed fight, and signed a contract a month ago.

However, by that time, Charlo was lined up to face fellow contender Vanes Martirosyan on March 28 on Showtime. So Andrade turned his attention to Lara (20-2-2, 12 KOs) this week.

"We signed a contract to fight Charlo a month ago," Paul Andrade said. "He opted to fight a guy that we beat already in Vanes Martirosyan [for the vacant belt in 2013]. I don't even think Charlo will beat him. I can see Vanes out-bullying him and win a decision about eight rounds to four.

"That's in the past and now we have to look towards the future. That future hopefully includes Lara. The real fight for us is with Lara. Fighting Charlo would not have done much for us anyway. That would have been like a man fighting a boy. We are calling Lara out but he has had no response. He doesn't have a dance partner, so the time is right for both of us."

Lara got a fight with Canelo Alvarez, albeit a nontitle match, last year and lost a split decision, after relentlessly calling him out.

Now the shoe is on the other foot.

"Lara thought he was cute by calling out Canelo by going to his press conference,” Paul Andrade said. “He was trying to embarrass him and goad Canelo into a fight. Lara is now in that position.”

He then turned his comments directly to Lara.

“We would go to one of your press conferences and embarrass you but you don't even have a fight on the table, so there is no press conference for you,” he said. “Why don't you step up like Canelo and be a man and accept our challenge like Canelo did for you. I guess it's not so cute for him anymore. And if you do step to the plate, you can bring your running shoes because you are a better runner than boxer."

Artie Pelullo of Banner Promotions, Andrade’s co-promoter with Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing, said he’d like to put the fight together; adviser Al Haymon oversees Lara’s career as he is not signed to a promoter.

"This is a fight that Demetrius wants,” Pelullo said. “Last year he wanted a fight with Canelo. Canelo had and has other plans now so why not fight the man who some people believe beat him in Lara."

After hearing about the comments from Andrade’s camp, Lara responded.

"I'll fight him anytime,” Lara said. “My resume speaks for itself. I'm willing to fight Cotto or GGG [middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin] next. You think I'm worried about this little spoiled brat? Look at my resume of great fighters I've fought, [Paul] Williams, [Carlos] Molina, Vanes, [Austin] Trout, Canelo, [Alfredo] Angulo and now [Ishe] Smith. In 24 fights, who has he fought?"

Lara further bashed Andrade for pulling out of the fight with Charlo.

"I'm the best in the division. If I put my name to a contract I show up and fight, unlike him when he pulled out of the biggest fight of his career against Charlo. Not to mention, he turned down a fight with me on ESPN2 years ago when I was willing to put a beating on him for $15,000,” Lara said. “And don't forget, I already whooped that ass for free in the amateurs.”
A few notes from around the boxing world:

•  Unified flyweight titlist Juan Francisco Estrada (31-2, 22 KOs) will make his fourth defense when he faces the Philippines’ Froilan Saludar (21-1-1, 13 KOs) on March 28 (beIN Sports Espanol) in Merida, Mexico, Zanfer Promotions announced on Tuesday. Estrada was initially supposed to defend against former titleholder Hernan “Tyson” Marquez (37-5-1, 26 KOs) but, according to Zanfer, Marquez priced himself out of the bout and Saludar accepted the fight.

•  Cruiserweight Ola Afolabi (21-3-4, 10 KOs), of England, will travel to Argentina to face former titlist Victor Emilio Ramirez (21-2, 17 KOs) for a vacant interim title on April 10 after the sides made a deal and avoided a purse bid. The IBF made an interim title available because titleholder Yoan Pablo Hernandez (29-1, 14 KOs) is sidelined for an extended period because of a right elbow injury and unable to face Afolabi, his mandatory challenger. Hernandez’s first fight upon his return is mandated to be against the Afolabi-Ramirez winner. If Hernandez is unable to return by Aug. 6, he will be stripped and the Afolabi-Ramirez winner will become the full titleholder. Afolabi, a former interim titlist, is 0-2-1 against Marco Huck in world title bouts.

•  Cruiserweight titlist Marco Huck (38-2-1, 26 KO), of Germany, who has been ordered to make his mandatory against Poland’s Krzysztof Glowacki (24-0, 15 KOs), has until Wednesday to make a deal or the WBO will order a purse bid. Minimum bid is $300,000. Huck has made 13 title defenses, tying him with England’s Johnny Nelson for most in cruiserweight division history.

•  Cruiserweights Thabiso Mchunu (17-1, 11 KOs), of South Africa, and Ilunga "Junior" Makabu (18-1, 17 KOs), of Congo, will meet May 16 in South Africa, Main Events promoter Kathy Duva told ESPN.com on Tuesday. Duva, who promotes Mchunu, recently won the promotional rights to the bout via a purse bid. The winner of the bout will become the mandatory challenger for world titleholder Grigory Drozd (39-1, 27 KOs) of Russia. Mchunu, 26, has won seven fights in a row. Makabu is unbeaten since getting knocked out in the first round of his 2008 pro debut.
Since mid-January, adviser/manager Al Haymon has been unveiling his new time-buy TV deals that will carry his “Premier Boxing Champions” series.

First, it was a deal with NBC and NBC Sports Net, which kicks off the first of 20 PBC shows this year with a prime-time card headlined by welterweight titleholder Keith Thurman defending against Robert Guerrero on Saturday night (NBC, 8:30 ET) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Then came the announcement of a deal for monthly cards on Spike TV, which kicks off March 13 with former welterweight titlist Andre Berto facing Josesito Lopez at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif.

Next up came word of a deal with CBS, which will air its first PBC card on April 4 from Quebec City’s Pepsi Coliseum, where light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson will defend against former super middleweight titleholder Sakio Bika.

Haymon, however, was not done, and not by a long shot. On Monday the next deal was announced. He has purchased time on Bounce TV, a network he helped found in 2011 that caters to an African-American audience, to televise monthly cards beginning in July.

Bounce TV, which is available on many cable systems but also free over the air in many markets, announced the agreement as a multi-year deal for a series called “Premier Boxing Champions: The Next Round.” The two-hour live shows will feature prospects from Haymon’s expansive stable of more than 180 fighters.

The first date and the particulars of the card have not been set yet, Bounce TV said in its announcement.

The network bills itself as “the fastest-growing African-American network on television and has become the No. 2 most-watched among all African-American networks. It has grown to be available in more than 85 million homes.” Besides Haymon, the network’s founders include Martin Luther King III and Andrew Young, former mayor of Atlanta, Georgia congressman and ambassador to the United Nations.

“This series provides future stars of boxing frequent nationwide exposure on over-the-air television, and will benefit the African-American audience, who I believe miss watching this great sport on free TV,” King said in a statement.

In 2012, Bounce TV did one fight card, which was headlined by a junior welterweight title bout between Khabib Allakhverdiev and Joan Guzman.

Caballero to have foot surgery

March, 2, 2015
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Bantamweight titleholder Randy Caballero was supposed to make his first defense by facing Alberto Guevara this past Friday night at the Fantasy Springs Resort in Indio, California, in what would have been a triumphant homecoming to the venue where he has fought numerous times.

Caballero instead had to pull out the fight in early February and is prepping for foot surgery on Wednesday.

“He has a non malignant tumor in the heel of his foot,” Golden Boy Promotions vice president Eric Gomez told ESPN.com. “It was causing him much pain and finally caused him to stop training.”

Caballero is expected to sided for as long as four months.

Initially, Golden Boy Promotions announced that 24-year-old Caballero (22-0, 13 KOs), who won a unanimous decision against England’s Stuart Hall on Oct. 25 in Monte Carlo to claim the vacant 118-pound belt, had an ankle injury.

Caballero, of Coachella, California, has had 18 of his 22 professional fights at home in Southern California, including numerous at Fantasy Springs, and was looking forward to a homecoming for his first defense after going on the road to win the title eliminator in Japan and then the title fight in Monte Carlo.

Texas to host Crawford-Dulorme

February, 28, 2015
Feb 28
6:42
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The two sites for HBO’s April 18 split-site doubleheader are set.

A few days ago, Banner Promotions and Golden Boy locked in the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, as the site for the much-anticipated junior welterweight fight between former titleholder Ruslan Provodnikov (27-3, 17 KOs) and Lucas Matthysse (36-3, 34 KOs), whom many expect to engage in an all-action fight of the year candidate.

And on Friday night, Top Rank locked in the site for the bout that will open the broadcast between 2014 fighter of the year Terence Crawford (25-0, 17 KOs), the lightweight champion from Omaha, Nebraska, who is moving up to junior welterweight to fight Puerto Rico’s Thomas Dulorme (22-1, 14 KOs) for a vacant 140-pound title. The site will be the University of Texas at Arlington’s College Park Center, the home arena for the school’s basketball team, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN.com.

Top Rank had a hard time finding an available arena for Crawford’s bout after it was postponed from March 21 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. It had been looking at sites in Southern California, New York and Chicago but could not make any of them work.

But Moretti said Top Rank is happy to bring the event to Arlington.

“There have been a couple of ESPN cards there, and it’s a state-of-the-art arena. It holds about 6,000,” Moretti said. “We really didn’t want to go to a casino ballroom with the fighter of the year, so through availability, we are going to Arlington. Texas is an important place for us and our sponsor Tecate. Texas is a good place to do shows and when you bring the fighter of the year there it’s something special.”

Moretti said Top Rank decided against going to Omaha for Crawford’s third fight in a row.

“We really didn’t want to go Nebraska for this fight because we want to expand his popularity and marketability,” he said.

The winner of the fight is supposed to face former titleholder Chris Algieri (20-1, 8 KOs) in a mandatory defense, who got wiped out in his last fight on Nov. 22 as he was knocked down six times in a decision loss challenging welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao.

Ward-Froch rematch ordered

February, 28, 2015
Feb 28
1:31
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Ward/FrochNick Laham/Getty ImagesAndre Ward, left, and Carl Froch were ordered to fight a rematch of their fight in 2011.

Here’s a curveball: The WBA has ordered inactive super middleweight champion Andre Ward and injured regular titleholder Carl Froch, who technically is Ward’s mandatory challenger, to fight a rematch.

On Saturday, the organization said it notified both camps to begin negotiating. It has given their camps 30 days to reach an agreement for a fight that it says has to take place in “a period no longer than 120 days.” If the sides fail to make a deal, a purse bid would be ordered.

The order means that the fight is supposed to take place by the end of June. However, there is almost no chance of that happening.

Froch is out until this summer because of an elbow injury, one which already prevented him from making a mandatory defense that was due for his other alphabet title. Froch (33-2, 24 KOs), 37, of England, gave up the IBF version of the title because he was unable to face countryman James DeGale (and frankly, he was also uninterested).

Froch has said he wants a big fight in Las Vegas and two names on is radar are former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (who fights in April) and former light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, who has said he would drop down to super middleweight to face Froch.

Froch perhaps would like to face Ward to avenge his one-sided loss to him in December 2011, but the timing of the order seems difficult to overcome.

Ward and Froch met in the final of the Super Six World Boxing Classic to unify 168-pound world titles and Ward whipped him in a decision win in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Ward (27-0, 14 KOs), 31, of Oakland, California, has only fought twice since he beat Froch -- once in 2012 (10th-round KO of Chad Dawson) and once in 2013 (lopsided decision against Edwin Rodriguez) -- because of injuries but largely because of a protracted (and seemingly unnecessary) battle with his late promoter, Dan Goossen.

Goossen died in September. In January, Ward and Goossen Promotions finally reached a settlement and he became the first significant fighter to sign with Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports. But there has been little movement in terms of a fight date of opponent.

One thing Ward has made clear, however, is that he does not intend to jump into a big fight upon his return, claiming he needs a tuneup-type of opponent after having not fought since November 2013. Obviously, Froch, who is unlikely to be ready to fight by June anyway, is a much bigger fight than a tuneup fight.

Fury risking mandatory title shot

February, 28, 2015
Feb 28
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Tyson Fury iBryn Lennon/Getty ImagesTyson Fury has promised to stop Christian Hammer when they meet Saturday in England.

Tyson Fury, the big (6-foot-9, 260 pounds) and brash British heavyweight contender, has a world title shot coming his way in the near future. He is the mandatory challenger for champion Wladimir Klitschko.

But rather than wait on that fight, which could take place as soon as this summer, Fury is putting his position at stake by taking on Christian Hammer on Saturday (BoxNation in the United Kingdom) at The O2 arena in London.

As usual, Fury (23-0, 17 KOs) is predicting a devastating performance in what should be his final fight before fighting for the world title -- if he wins.

“I’ve had a great camp, training has gone very well, and because of that I don’t see this fight going beyond five rounds,” Fury said. “I want the knockout and that’s what I’m out to get. There’s a reason this bill is being labeled Risky Business, because of everything that is on the line. I’m mandatory to face Wladimir Klitschko next, but if I don’t win this fight I’ll lose that mandatory position and my chance to fight for the world title.

“We’ve seen fighters in the past who have been in a similar position and lost, but that’s not going to happen with me. The reason is because I’m not overlooking Christian Hammer. I’ve seen him in the amateurs and I’ve seen the progress he has made in the paid ranks. He’s a very good fighter and not someone you can overlook. But a Tyson Fury fight is never boring, and I can guarantee excitement and drama when I step in the ring. Put it this way: Someone is getting knocked out and it isn’t going to be me.”

Fury, 26, looked superb in his last outing, a one-sided 10th-round demolition of Dereck Chisora in their rematch. The victory in the world title elimination fight netted Fury the European title and also made him Klitschko’s mandatory challenger, although if Fury defeats Hammer and Bryant Jennings upsets Klitschko on April 25, Fury would be next up to face Jennings.

The 6-2, 250-pound Hammer (17-3, 10 KOs) is from Romania and lives in Germany, and he has not lost since 2010 and is riding a 10-fight winning streak. He believes he will upset Fury.

“Tyson Fury will not go the distance against me,” said Hammer, 27. “He will be getting knocked out clean and left to pick up the pieces after the fight. He cannot hurt me with his punches because I’m in the best shape of my career for this fight, and he will not last against me. He has been put down before. He can be hit and hurt. He has plenty of heart, but once I put him down he will stay down.

“I’ve taken this fight because I know I can get the Klitschko world title fight when I beat him. Klitschko is talking about fighting Fury, but he will be talking my name once I knock out Fury.”

Also on the card, Dmitry Chudinov (14-0-2, 9 KOs), 28, of Russia, will make the third defense of his interim middleweight belt when he faces Chris Eubank Jr. (18-1, 13 KOs), 25, of England.

R. Rios on the comeback trail

February, 27, 2015
Feb 27
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A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Featherweight Ronny Rios, a rising contender on the verge of fighting for a world title, suffered an upset fifth-round knockout to Robinson Castellanos in October. Now Rios is on the comeback trail and slated for his fight since that stunner. Rios (23-1, 10 KOs), 25, of Santa Ana, California, will face Mexico’s Jesus Navarro (23-9-1, 16 KOs) on March 20 (Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes) at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California, Golden Boy announced on Friday. The fight is the co-feature on the card headlined by Mexican junior middleweight Alfonso Gomez (24-6-2, 12 KOs), a two-time world challenger and for star of “The Contender” reality series, taking on Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai (25-2-1, 22 KOs).

• Lightweight contender Sharif Bogere (26-1, 18 KOs) and Jose “Chelo” Gonzalez (23-1, 18 KOs) will square off on April 11 (PPV) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on the undercard of junior lightweight titlist Orlando Salido (42-12-2, 29 KOs), of Mexico, defending against Puerto Rico’s Roman "Rocky" Martinez (28-2-2, 17 KOs), the former titleholder, PR Best Boxing Promotions announced Friday. Bogere, from Uganda but living in Las Vegas, suffered his only loss in a world title fight, losing a decision to Richar Abril in Las Vegas in March 2013. Gonzalez’s only loss was also in a world title fight in May 2013. He faced Ricky Burns in Burns’ home country of Scotland and was winning but quit because of a wrist injury after the ninth round.

• Junior featherweight prospect Joseph Diaz (14-0, 9 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian, got a new opponent this week for his 10-round bout that will headlined the debut of Golden Boy’s revived “LA Fight Club” series on March 6 (Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes, 10 p.m. ET) at the sold-out Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Diaz, of South El Monte, California, will face Mexico’s Juan Luis Hernandez (17-4-1, 9 KOs) after Geovanny Delgado dropped out.

(BULLET)Promoters Sampson Lewkowicz of Sampson Boxing and Oswaldo Kuchle of Promociones Del Pueblo proudly announced that they have renewed their promotional agreement with Mexico’s Hugo Ruiz (35-2, 31 KOs), 28, a former interim bantamweight titlist with a fan-friendly style. Ruiz is now fighting as a junior featherweight. "I am very happy that Hugo Ruiz has decided to stay loyal to us and I expect he will be world champion in his new division very soon," Lewkowicz said. "He is a very exciting fighter with the power to make every fight exciting."
James Kirkland and Ann WolfeScott Heavey/Getty ImagesTrainer Ann Wolfe, right, won't be in James Kirkland's camp for the fight against Canelo Alvarez.

When junior middleweight banger James Kirkland goes into his showdown with former titleholder Canelo Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 KOs) on May 9 (HBO, 9 p.m. ET/PT) at Minute Maid Park in Houston, he will do so without one of his greatest assets: trainer Ann Wolfe.

Instead, Kirkland left Wolfe and is being trained by heretofore unknown Gerald Tucker, who had a good amateur career and six pro fights in 2000-01 and has never trained anyone of note.

Wolfe’s style of training isn’t for everyone. She is a taskmaster of the highest order and trained Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs) in such a physical, grinding way that in many ways camp was tougher than the fights. But the success they had together cannot be overlooked.

The one loss of Kirkland’s career came without her in the corner because of another split. Kirkland was not in top shape when light-hitting Nobuhiro Ishida blew him out in one round in 2011. Kirkland reunited with Wolfe after that loss and has won five fights in a row, including his last fight in December 2013 when he knocked out Glen Tapia in the sixth round of a slugfest.

“As of now, James is not training with Ann in Austin. He is training in San Antonio with Gerald Tucker. I have never heard of him training pro fighters,” Kirkland manager Michael Miller told ESPN.com. “But I make it a rule not to insist on who they train with. If I get asked I will give my opinion, but I don’t want to be blamed if I was to insist on a trainer and something goes wrong. You don’t push a marriage on anyone. We don’t have arranged marriages in this country.”

But Miller, while he won’t come out and say it, certainly sounds like a guy who wants Wolfe training Kirkland.

“I think the evidence is there and the facts speak for themselves,” he said of their success together. “But I also understand he wants to make his own decisions. You have to stand by him and hope his decisions are right. He is doing everything he is being asked to do in the gym. But we know the only loss was when he wasn’t with Ann. I’m not going to get in the way of him making adult decisions.

“You live by your choices. This is his career. It’s his life. It’s his biggest fight and this is when you typically want to have the team behind you who brought you there. But I won’t judge.”

While Miller said he understood that Kirkland wanted to make his own choice with regard to a trainer, he was perplexed that he would part ways with Wolfe in favor of somebody inexperienced in a big fight.

“If you’re not going to train with Ann at least train with someone who has experience,” Miller said. “If you’re going to change trainers, train with someone who has trained top fighters. But I tend not to get into that stuff. I haven’t asked him why he isn’t training with Ann, but she’s puzzled too.”
Chris Avalos and Carl FramptonCharles McQuillan/Getty ImagesChris Avalos' goal is to take the belt away from junior featherweight titlist Carl Frampton.

Junior featherweight contender Chris Avalos is riding a six-fight winning streak and filled with confidence that he will extend it to seven and bring a world title home to Lancaster, California.

Avalos, the mandatory challenger, has traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland, to face hometown hero Carl Frampton, who will make his first defense when they meet on Saturday (AWE, 3 p.m. ET in the U.S., televised on ITV in the U.K.) at the Odyssey Arena.

“I’ve got bad news,” Avalos said to Frampton at this week’s final news conference. “I’m going to win. I’m going to take the belt home. I haven’t come all this way to lose. That would be stupid. It makes no sense.”

Avalos (25-2, 19 KOs) earned the mandatory position by knocking out Japan’s Yasutaka Ishimoto in Macau in May 2014; he also won a tuneup fight in November while awaiting his title opportunity.

The only two losses of Avalos’ career both came by split decision against fighters who were unbeaten at the time -- in 2011 to Jhonatan Romero, who later won a world title, and Christopher Martin in 2010.

"Everything is good. I am ready to go," said the 25-year-old Avalos, who added that his focus will not be affected by what will be a raucous crowd cheering wildly for Frampton, a big draw in Belfast. “I have been thinking about the game plan and what I am going to do.

“The only thing that matters is me and the fighter in front of me. The rest doesn't matter. In fact, his fans will become my fans. I did not come all the way here to lose. I know he is undefeated but he has not fought anybody like me. I do not see anything special about him."

Said Mike Criscio, Avalos’ manager: “Chris is ready to rock. I think Chris will dominate Frampton. Chris is very tough, strong, has a lot of pride and is hungry to win a world championship."

Frampton (19-0, 13 KOs) won his 122-pound world title by lopsided unanimous decision against Kiki Martinez in their September rematch in Belfast. A sold-out crowd of 16,000 watched in an outdoor arena that was temporarily constructed to hold the fight in the Titanic Quarter. Frampton, 28, also had knocked out Martinez in the ninth round in a European title fight in February 2013.

“I’ve prepared for a tough fight and I’m expecting one but this guy knows what’s going to happen,” Frampton said. “He has lost twice before to guys who don’t compare to me. He’s used to it. It’s going to be more of the same.”

If Frampton wins, there has been talk of a title unification fight with England’s Scott Quigg. Avalos said he rather enjoys all of the talk about that possibility.

"I am glad he is looking past me,” Avalos said. “I am coming to his hometown and he is underestimating me and that will make my victory on Saturday even more sweet.”

Brook, Khan camps in early talks

February, 27, 2015
Feb 27
11:01
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Amir KhanAlex Livesey/Getty ImagesAmir Khan could face Kell Brook in an all-British world title fight in June this year.

When Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao finally agreed to their May 2 megafight, the big loser was welterweight contender Amir Khan.

Had the fight not been made, Khan, a former unified junior welterweight titleholder, was a likely next opponent for either man. But now Khan is left to take a look at what’s behind door No. 3, and it’s not so bad: welterweight titleholder Kell Brook in a big-time all-British world title fight.

Obviously, that fight for Khan is not nearly as big as a fight with either Mayweather or Pacquiao would have been, but it is clearly the next-best thing that he can pursue, and according to Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, the talks have begun.

“Just some friendly, initial talks,” Hearn said of his recent conversations with Khan’s team. “They are confident the fight will happen this year. I am pushing for it early June.”

For a Brook-Khan fight to become a reality that quickly, Brook will have to make sure he takes care of business when he makes his first title defense, a mandatory against Jo Jo Dan, on March 28 at Motorpoint Arena in Brook's hometown of Sheffield, England.

If Brook wins and does not suffer any cuts or injuries, a fight in June seems quite possible. Khan had hoped to fight Mayweather or Pacquiao in May, so waiting a few extra weeks for a fight with Brook should be no big deal.

Khan (30-3, 19 KOs) last fought on Dec. 13, turning in a sensational performance in a near-shutout of former titleholder Devon Alexander in Las Vegas.

Last month, Khan, 28, told ESPN.com that if he couldn’t get Mayweather or Pacquiao next that a fight with Brook was third on his wish list.

"It’s a big fight even if it isn’t as big as me against Manny or Floyd,” Khan said. “Kell Brook is very powerful, very strong. He’s kind of slick the way he fights. He puts his punches together quite well. Plus, it would be a massive U.K. fight. I think we could sell out Wembley. A fight between us has been talked about for a long time. It would bring a lot of money for him to fight me. But he’s my third choice.”

Brook (33-0, 22 KOs) won his 147-pound world title by majority decision against American Shawn Porter on Aug. 16 at StubHub Center in Carson, California. Brook, 28, was supposed to make his first title defense in December but he suffered a stab wound in his leg during an incident in September while he was on vacation in Spain, and his first defense was pushed back to March while he recovered.

Fury: Retirement looms with loss

February, 27, 2015
Feb 27
10:51
AM ET
Heavyweight contender Tyson Fury knows that a win against Christian Hammer on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London will punch his ticket to a world championship shot against the winner of the April 25 fight between champion Wladimir Klitschko and Bryant Jennings.

Although Fury is already the mandatory challenger for the winner of the bout, he is risking that position against Hammer.

There’s considerable pressure already, given the stakes, but Thursday, Fury (23-0, 17 KOs) raised them even more. He said if he loses he should retire -- although he is not expected to lose and, even if he did, few would expect him to keep actually do it.

“If I can’t beat Christian Hammer, I’m going nowhere and may as well retire,” Fury said. “If I can’t knock him out with one clean punch, then something’s seriously wrong. I’m on a mission to become world heavyweight champion.”

Hammer (17-3, 10 KOs), who has won 10 fights in a row, said he is confident he can make Fury think hard about his future by beating him.

“I respect him for risking his position, but he won’t get a chance to beat me,” Hammer said. “I’m also risking my position to take this fight and to come over here and fight him. I’ve been waiting a long time for this fight and I’ll not waste it.”

Promoter Frank Warren said Fury asked for a solid opponent before challenging for the world title.

“This is a significant fight for Tyson, and he can’t afford to lose because the winner of this fight will definitely get a shot against Wladimir Klitschko after he fights Bryant Jennings in New York,” Warren said. “Tyson has to come through against Hammer. He asked for a fighter in top 10 [of a sanctioning body] and Hammer is at No. 3. That says a lot about him that he wants to keep busy for Klitschko.”

Abraham-Stieglitz IV on tap

February, 26, 2015
Feb 26
4:34
PM ET
Stieglitz/AbrahamMartin Rose/Getty ImagesRobert Stieglitz and 168-pound titlist Arthur Abraham have been ordered to meet for a fourth time.
Get ready for the fourth chapter of the Arthur Abraham-Robert Stieglitz rivalry.

Abraham (42-4, 28 KOs), who retained his super middleweight belt by decision in a rematch with England's Paul Smith on Saturday, was expected to next defend against former four-time middleweight titlist and fellow German star Felix Sturm in what would be a really big fight in their country.

However, on Wednesday the WBO ordered Abraham and former titlist Stieglitz (47-4-1, 27 KOs), also of Germany, to meet in a mandatory fight. The sides have 20 days to make a deal or a purse bid will be ordered.

In August 2012, they met for the first time and Abraham won a competitive decision to dethrone Stieglitz. They met again in March 2013 and Stieglitz knocked out Abraham in the fourth round to reclaim the 168-pound title. And then they met for the third time in March 2014 with Abraham scoring a 12th-round knockdown and winning a dramatic split decision to win back the title.

Stieglitz is coming off a split draw with Sturm in an excellent fight in November.

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