Brook, Khan camps in talks

February, 27, 2015
Feb 27
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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 mega fight 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 lost his chance at either of them for his next fight when the long-awaited deal was finally consummated.

That leaves Khan 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 but it is clearly the next-best thing that he could purse 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 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 Sheffield, England, Brook’s hometown.

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

Khan (30-3, 19 KOs), 28, last fought on Dec. 13, turning in a sensational performance in a near-shutout of former titleholder Devon Alexander in Las Vegas. A six-month wait until his next fight is nothing.

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

“That fight can definitely happen. He has a fight coming up (March 28) with his mandatory. I’m fighting in May, so Kell probably wouldn’t be ready in May but I would love to fight him at the end of the year. It’s a big fight even if it isn’t as big as me against Manny or Floyd,” said Khan, who could move up the timing of the possible showdown to June.

“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. He it would bring a lot of money for him to fight me. But he’s my third choice.”

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

Fury: Retirement looms with loss

February, 27, 2015
Feb 27
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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
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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.

Notes: Inoue sidelined by hurt hand

February, 26, 2015
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A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Junior bantamweight titlist Naoya Inoue (8-0, 7 KOs), the 21-year-old Japanese prodigy who was a strong 2014 fighter of the year candidate, was supposed to make his first defense in May. However, Inoue suffered a right hand injury during his second-round knockout victory to win a title from Omar Narvaez on Dec. 30 in Tokyo and promoter Hideyuki Ohashi announced this week that the injury will force him to delay his next fight. Ohashi said Inoue will see a doctor next week to have the hand examined to determine when he likely will be able to get back in the ring.

Inoue had a terrific 2014 in which he knocked out Adrian Hernandez in the sixth round to win a junior flyweight world title, made one defense in September and then moved up two weight classes to dethrone Narvaez, the long-reigning titleholder.

• Australian heavyweight Lucas Browne (22-0, 19 KOs) has been designated as the mandatory challenger for secondary titlist Ruslan Chagaev. "Chagaev has shown that he's one of best heavyweights around, but Lucas is a massive puncher and can knock him out," said Ricky Hatton, Browne's promoter. "Australia has never had a world champion at heavyweight so this is a chance for Lucas to make history and he's going to grab it with both hands. Lucas is a warrior who'll fight anyone at any time and he has been itching to get back in the ring. We've had a lot of people asking when they'll see him fight again and I think the fans will be very pleased now that we can reveal what we've been working on.”

• The UIC Pavilion in Chicago will be the venue for the April 24 Spike TV card headlined by super middleweight titlist Anthony Dirrell (27-0-, 22 KOs) in his first defense against Badou Jack (18-1-1, 12 KOs), according to the network.

• Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya was hoping to make a spring fight between lightweight titlist Jorge Linares (38-3, 25 KOs) and former unified featherweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa (24-1, 17 KOs) but those plans are on hold as Gamboa, who prefers to fight at junior lightweight, is looking to go in another direction. Linares won a vacant belt on Dec. 30 by fourth-round knockout of Javier Prieto in Tokyo.

DeGale-Dirrell headed to purse bid

February, 26, 2015
Feb 26
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When unified super middleweight titlist Carl Froch, who is injured but looking for a major fight upon his expected return this summer, gave up the IBF belt rather than work out a deal for his mandatory defense against British countryman James DeGale, that meant DeGale would face the next leading available contender for vacant title.

That is Andre Dirrell, and the two camps were ordered to begin negotiating on Feb. 3. DeGale promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing hoped to work things out with Dirrell adviser Al Haymon to put the fight on April 25 in London.

However, on Thursday the IBF said Hearn wrote to the organization saying he was no longer willing to negotiate the fight and asking for an immediate purse bid, which is allowable under IBF rules. So the purse bid was ordered and is scheduled to take place March 10 at the IBF offices in Springfield, New Jersey. Bids from registered promoters must be submitted by 11:45 a.m. and they will be opened at noon. Minimum bid is $100,000.

DeGale (20-1, 14 KOs), 29, has won 10 fights in a row since suffering his only defeat, a majority decision to rival George Groves for the British and Commonwealth 168-pound titles in 2011. In May 2014, DeGale, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, knocked out American Brandon Gonzales in the fourth round on the undercard of Froch's rematch with Groves to become the mandatory challenger.

Dirrell (24-1, 16 KOs), 31, a 2004 Olympic bronze medalist out of Flint, Michigan, suffered his only loss via disputed split decision to Froch in a 2009 world title bout in Froch's hometown and will be getting his second world title shot.

Canelo-Kirkland tour on tap

February, 26, 2015
Feb 26
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It's not a pay-per-view fight but junior middleweights Canelo Alvarez and James Kirkland, who will fight May 9 (HBO, 9 p.m. ET/PT) at Minute Maid Park in Houston in a fight most expect to be action-packed, will go on a a mini two-stop promotional tour on Tuesday in Texas, both of which are free and open to the public.

The first stop is scheduled for noon CT in Houston with a 5 p.m. CT stop in San Antonio, where the fight was originally going to be held on May 2 at the Alamodome. But that was before the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao mega pay-per-view fight was set for the same day, forcing it to move.

The Houston tour stop will take place at Minute Maid Park with gates open to the public at 11 a.m. CT. The San Antonio stop will take place at Bexar County Courthouse with gates open to the public at 4 p.m. CT.

Joining the boxers will be Golden Boy's Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez's promoter, and rap star Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Kirkland's promoter, as well as former world titleholder James Leija, whose Leija Battah Promotions is co-promoting the event, which, by the way, has tickets for as little as $10.

Alvarez, Kirkland ready for May 9

February, 26, 2015
Feb 26
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Canelo Alvarez and James KirklandGettyCanelo Alvarez and James Kirkland have a new date and new venue for their 154-pound showdown.
When Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao made their May 2 mega-showdown official on Friday night, it had a bit of a domino effect. For one thing, it caused the planned junior middleweight fight between former titleholder Canelo Alvarez and James Kirkland, set for the same day in San Antonio, to be moved.

On Saturday, Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya announced that the fight would move to May 9 (HBO, 9 p.m. ET/PT) and take place at Minute Maid Park in Houston, rather than May 2 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, which De La Hoya said was not available on May 9.

On Wednesday, Golden Boy made everything official for the bout, which will kick off Alvarez's new HBO contract.

Since his one-sided loss to Mayweather in their September 2013 blockbuster junior middleweight unification fight, Alvarez has won two fights in a row, a one-sided 10th-round knockout of Alfredo Angulo last March and a split decision against titleholder Erislandy Lara in a nontitle bout in July.

Alvarez's HBO deal was supposed to commence with a Dec. 6 fight, but he withdrew to take care of a persistent ankle problem.

The 24-year-old Mexican star will face gunslinger James Kirkland, an all-or-nothing offensive machine with devastating power and questionable chin, in a scheduled 12-round junior middleweight fight.

"I'm very happy that my upcoming fight with James Kirkland will air on HBO; it will be exciting, explosive and should not be missed," Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 KOs) said in announcing the bout. "Kirkland is a dangerous fighter who is coming prepared for a tough night, and this fight, without a doubt, will be one to remember. I promise my fans I will be victorious and invite everyone to come out and join us at Minute Maid Park on May 9. They will not be disappointed."

Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs), a southpaw who turns 31 in March and is from Austin, Texas, has not fought since stopping Glen Tapia in the sixth round in December 2013. Kirkland turned down several fights and has inexplicably been inactive.

But he said this is the fight he has wanted, and now he has it.

"This is the fight I've been waiting for," Kirkland said. "Canelo is the opponent I get asked about more than any other fighter. I'm ready to show my skills to the world and shut down the people who doubt me. Come fight night you will see a great fight between two warriors and I know at the end of the night my hand will be raised in victory."

Fury risking mandatory title shot

February, 25, 2015
Feb 25
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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.

Luke Campbell fights for ill father

February, 25, 2015
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Three weeks ago, lightweight Luke Campbell, a 2012 British Olympic gold medalist on a collision course with pal and fellow Hull, England, product Tommy Coyle, withdrew from a March 7 card in their hometown meant to serve as a prelude to their planned summer showdown.

The reason Campbell dropped out of his fight against Gary Sykes was because his father is in poor health and had been moved to a hospice facility after having been in intensive care.

But on Wednesday, Campbell announced that he had changed his mind and Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn put him back on the card, although rather than facing Sykes he will face an opponent to be determined in an eight-round bout.

Even after he withdrew from the bout, Campbell (9-0, 7 KOs), 27, continued to train and said he wants to fight for his father.

“After talking with my dad and my family I've decided to box on March 7,” Campbell said. “It's been a difficult time for me but everyone wants me to crack on and succeed and I want to keep my momentum going as I approach an important phase of my career. I'm excited to box again in Hull on March 7.”

Coyle (20-2, 9 KOs) is in the main event of the show and will face former British lightweight champion Martin Gethin (25-6-1, 11 KOs).

In their most recent bouts, Campbell and Coyle co-headlined an Oct. 25 card in Hull. Coyle needed only two rounds to knock out faded action star Michael Katsidis in the main event while Campbell took out Daniel Brizuela in the fifth round.
The sites are set for the “Showtime Championship Boxing” cards in March and April.

On March 28, the card headlined by featherweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez (57-8, 48 KOs) making his third defense, against Gary Russell Jr. (25-1, 14 KOs), will take place at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas.

There had been speculation that the show would go to the Alamodome’s Illusions Theater in San Antonio or possibly the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Also on the card, junior middleweight contenders Jermell Charlo (25-0, 11 KOs) and Vanes Martirosyan (35-1-1, 21 KOs) will meet. Although the bout is not a formal elimination fight at this point, the winner will put himself in an excellent position for a world title opportunity.

The April 18 card, which is headlined by former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (48-1-1, 32 KOs), who will be making his Showtime debut, against light heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara (26-3, 15 KOs), will take place at the StubHub Center.

That is the same venue where an out-of-shape Chavez, who didn’t make weight, won a controversial decision against Bryan Vera in their first fight in September 2013.

GGG draws solid number of viewers

February, 24, 2015
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A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin’s 13th defense and 19th knockout in a row on Saturday against Martin Murray in Monte Carlo averaged 862,000 viewers on HBO, according to Nielsen Media Research. The fight peaked at 938,000 viewers. The fight was from Europe and aired live in the afternoon and blew away HBO’s 2014 live offerings from Europe -- Carl Froch-George Groves II from England averaged 700,000 viewers and Wladimir Klitschko-Kubrat Pulev averaged 620,000 viewers. Combing the live airing with the prime-time replay, Golovkin-Murray averaged 1.433 million viewers.

• Super middleweight titlist Anthony Dirrell's (27-0-1, 22 KOs) first defense, which will come against Badou Jack (18-1-1, 12 KOs), will headline a “Premier Boxing Champions” card on April 24 on Spike TV, the network’s second card of its deal to televise monthly PBC cards. The fight is slated to take place in Detroit but could move to Chicago. The winner of the fight is obligated to next defend against mandatory challenger George Groves (21-2, 16 KOs).

• The WBA, which typically has two titleholders -- and sometimes as many as four -- in the same weight class has made some changes to its titleholder lineup. It had re-classified Nicholas Walters as its “super” titleholder at featherweight and dropped the interim tag from Jesus Cuellar’s title. He is now the organization’s “regular” titleholder. At junior lightweight, Takashi Uchiyama has been named a “super” titleholder.

NBC rounds out PBC broadcast team

February, 24, 2015
Feb 24
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NBC Sports rounded out its broadcast teams for the “Premier Boxing Champions” series, which it will televise on both the regular NBC network and NBCSN, beginning with the debut card on March 7 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with welterweight titlist Keith Thurman defending against Robert Guerrero.

Joining the team for the NBC Sports Net fights is retired women’s boxing great Laila Ali. Cruiserweight B.J. Flores, Kenny Rice and Chris Mannix, all of whom were part of the NBC Sports Net broadcast team for the Main Events-promoted “Fight Night” series before it was canceled in favor of manager/adviser Al Haymon’s time-buy PBC series, will remain with the network.

Ali and Flores will serve as what NBC termed “corner reporters.” Mannix and Rice will be ringside reporters and Rice will also serve as an interviewer and the blow-by-blow announcer on select cards.

Rice was the top blow-by-blow announcer on the “Fight Night” series. They join main blow-by-blow announcer Kenny Albert and analyst Sugar Ray Leonard.

The cards on NBC will be hosted by Al Michaels, with Marv Albert handling blow-by-blow duties and Leonard also serving as the analyst.

Barthelemy vacates 130 title

February, 24, 2015
Feb 24
2:19
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Rances Barthelemy (21-0, 12 KOs) has given up his junior lightweight world title and will move up in weight.

According to Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules, Barthelemy's promoter, the fighter elected to relinquish his belt because he could no longer make the 130-pound division limit.

The 28-year-old Cuban defector, who lives in Miami, Florida, appeared to have won the title initially when he knocked out Argenis Mendez in the second round 13 months ago, but the KO blow came after the bell and when Mendez protested, the result of the bout was changed to a no decision.

When they met in a mandated rematch in July, Barthelemy won a unanimous decision to claim the title. Barthelemy made only one defense, scoring a shutout decision against Fernando Saucedo in October.

The IBF has ordered its two leading available contenders, Puerto Rico’s Jose Pedraza (19-0, 12 KOs) and former featherweight titlist Billy Dib (39-3, 23 KOs) of Australia, to fight for the vacant belt.

Schedule change for Boxcino 154 semis

February, 23, 2015
Feb 23
6:47
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The semifinal pairings for the Boxcino tournaments on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” in the junior middleweight and heavyweight divisions are set, but there has been a bit of a change to the schedule.

The junior middleweight semifinals, originally scheduled for April 3 in Corona, California, have been moved back one week and now will take place on April 10 at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on the same card on which the heavyweight semifinals will take place. That means that edition of FNF will consist of all four semifinals, each of which is scheduled for eight rounds.

There will still be an FNF card on April 3 in Corona, but the fights have not been set yet, according to the network.

In the middleweight tournament, Brandon Adams (16-1, 11 KOs) will meet Vito Gasparyan (15-3-5, 8 KOs) in one semifinal and Stanyslav Skorokhod (9-0, 7 KOs) will face John Thompson (15-1, 5 KOs) in the other. Those four advanced with wins in the Feb. 13 quarterfinals.

The heavyweight semifinals were set on Friday night and will see Razvan Cojanu (13-1, 7 KOs), as long as his cut is OK, face Donovan Dennis (11-1, 9 KOs), and Andrey Fedosov (26-3, 21 KOs) square off with Lenroy Thomas (19-3, 9 KOs).

The tournament finals, scheduled for 10 rounds, in both weight classes are slated to take place on May 22 at a location to be determined.

Notes: Quadrupleheader on 'ShoBox'

February, 23, 2015
Feb 23
12:37
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A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Showtime’s March 13 edition of “ShoBox: The New Generation” will be a quadrupleheader and take place at The Space in Westbury, New York, and will be headlined by middleweight Antoine Douglas (16-0-1, 10 KOs) against Thomas LaManna (16-0, 7 KOs) in a 10-rounder. In the eight-round lightweight co-feature, Ismael Barroso (16-0-2, 15KOs) will take on Issouf Kinda (17-2, 7 KOs). In two other eight-rounders on the broadcast, super middleweight Jerry Odom (12-1, 11 KOs) will get a chance to avenge his only defeat against Andrew Hernandez (8-0-1, 1 KO) and junior featherweight Adam Lopez (9-0, 4 KOs) will meet Pablo Cruz (11-0, 3 KOs).

• Another “ShoBox” card is in the works for April 10 at the Aviator Arena in Brooklyn, where promoter Lou DiBella and Showtime are working on a tripleheader. The fighters expected to be featured on the card are lightweight Ivan Redkach (18-0, 14 KOs), junior middleweight Frank Galarza (16-0-2, 10 KOs) and middleweight Ievgen Khytrov (8-0, 8 KOs).

• Flyweight titlist Juan Carlos Reveco (35-1, 19 KOs), of Argentina, is headed to Kazuto Ioka’s hometown of Osaka, Japan, to defend his belt for the seventh time on April 22. Ioka (16-1, 10 KOs), a former strawweight and junior flyweight titleholder, is bidding to win a title in his third weight class. He had a flyweight title shot against Amnat Ruenroeng last May but lost a split decision in Osaka. Ioka has won two fights in a row since. Reveco won his only previous title bout in Japan in 2013.

• With three-belt light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev set to defend his titles against former champion Jean Pascal on March 14 (HBO) at the Bell Centre in Pascal’s hometown of Montreal, HBO will present “Road To Kovalev-Pascal,” a 15-minute documentary previewing their significant showdown. It debuts Feb. 28 at 12:15 a.m. ET/PT.

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