Khan joins Haymon's stable

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
The stable of powerful adviser Al Haymon continued to grow Wednesday as he added yet another prominent fighter -- former unified junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan of England.

The signing comes as little surprise, as Khan has talked about signing with Haymon in recent weeks.

“I am very happy to have signed with Al Haymon, who has not only shown that he is a very astute businessman, but is extremely knowledgeable of the fight game and always has his fighters’ best interests at heart,” Khan said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to building a long and successful relationship during this exciting stage of my career.”

Khan’s next fight is already set. He will face former welterweight titlist Luis Collazo -- another Haymon client -- in a welterweight bout on May 3 in the co-feature of the Showtime PPV card headlined by the welterweight unification fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Marcos Maidana, both of whom also are Haymon clients.

The Khan-Collazo winner figures to be in great position to land a shot at Mayweather in the fall, assuming he defeats Maidana.

Haymon also recently signed light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, welterweight contender Robert Guerrero, junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson and his brother, lightweight Anthony Peterson.

Haymon also handles, among others, top fighters Adrien Broner, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, Deontay Wilder, Chris Arreola, Peter Quillin, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Paulie Malignaggi, Sakio Bika, Chad Dawson and Rances Barthelemy.

Smith eager to get back in the ring

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
Super middleweight Callum Smith is one of England’s top prospects, but hand surgery has kept him sidelined since an impressive sixth-round knockout performance against former world title challenger Ruben Acosta in October.

He injured his left hand in the win against Acosta.

So Smith (9-0, 7 KOs), 23, is eager to get back to work and is slated to face France’s Francois Bastient (43-10-1, 18 KOs) on Saturday at the Phones 4u Arena in Manchester, England, on the undercard of junior featherweight titlist Scott Quigg’s defense against Tshifhiwa Munyai.

If Smith wins Saturday’s scheduled six-round bout and is uninjured, he is due back May 17 in Cardiff, Wales, on the undercard of the Lee Selby-Romulo Koasicha featherweight title eliminator.

“I am really eager to get back in the ring,” Smith said. “I was very active in my first year as a pro so that made the six months I have been out feel a lot longer. It has been frustrating, but I think the first few months did me good to have a bit of a rest. But I didn’t want to have six months out. I wasn’t able to train as much as I wanted to during those six months. The first few months I could only do running and swimming, but I do feel that I benefited from doing quite a bit of that, and some circuit stuff.

“I started do some light punching and it has only been the last few weeks that I started to punch properly. It has been frustrating because the main thing you want to do is punch, but I worked hard on other things and I feel the benefits from those now.”

Alvarez takes hard road with Lara

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15

Former junior middleweight titleholder Canelo Alvarez could have picked just about any opponent he wanted and still made a big payday in his July 12 fight.

But Alvarez, motivated by naysayers who believe he would duck certain opponents, is not that kind of guy. He doesn't take the easy way out.

This is the man who demanded a tough fight with Austin Trout when many on his own team were against it. Alvarez wound up winning a close (but deserved) decision to unify belts last April.

Then Alvarez took on pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., the best in the business, and lost a lopsided decision and his undefeated record. But Alvarez dared to be great by taking the fight. Of course, the massive payday didn’t hurt either.

After rebounding to knock out Alfredo Angulo, a dangerous puncher, in a one-sided fight last month, Alvarez once again set his mind to facing the toughest opponent he could.

He asked Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer get him titleholder Erislandy Lara, who had been calling Alvarez out.

Their Showtime PPV headliner, agreed to Monday, will be a nontitle bout at 155 pounds (one over the division limit) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Alvarez apparently didn’t care about the title and didn’t want to pay a sanctioning fee, but the lack of a belt on the line in the fight and a one-pound difference from the championship weight is irrelevant. It will prove a lot if Alvarez can beat Lara, a technically savvy former Cuban amateur star and one of the more avoided fighters in boxing. The 30-year-old Lara (19-1-2, 12 KOs) also owns a knockout win against Angulo and a decision win against Trout.

"This fight against Erislandy Lara is very important in my career because it is an opponent with vast experience in both the amateur and professional field, and I am sure the styles will match to provide an explosive battle and great atmosphere that night," Alvarez said in comments translated by Golden Boy publicist Ramiro Gonzalez.

Alvarez (43-1-1, 31 KOs), the 23-year-old Mexican star, said his desire is to fight the opponents the public and media want him to fight, which is why he insisted that Schaefer get him Lara, who pulled out of a previously scheduled defense against Ishe Smith to make it happen.

"Lara, the media and fans around the world wanted this match to take place, and here I am -- amply fulfilling them since I have no doubt that everyone will be completely satisfied.”

Win or lose, Alvarez's decision to face the best opponents available should earn him massive respect and serve as a lesson for others who look for the easy way out.

Being billed 2nd OK with Bradley

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11

LAS VEGAS -- Although Timothy Bradley Jr. is defending his welterweight title against Manny Pacquiao and was the official winner of their first heavily disputed first fight in 2012, the rematch on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) is billed as Pacquiao-Bradley II.

It is boxing tradition that the titleholder and/or winner of a previous showdown is billed first. There are, of course, exceptions. Even when Oscar De La Hoya was challenging for somebody else’s title, he would be billed first because he is the bigger star by far. Same thing for Floyd Mayweather for all of his recent fights, except against De La Hoya, whom he challenged for a title.

Recently, one of the major sticking points to finalizing the June 7 fight between middleweight champion Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto was Cotto’s insistence that he be billed first rather than the champion Martinez. It almost brought down the fight until Martinez eventually gave in.

Bradley, however, said he doesn’t care about being billed second to Pacquiao, the much bigger star, and doesn’t feel disrespect because of it. Being announced as the winner is what is important to Bradley.

“Listen, boxing is not only a sport, it is a business as well. All parties need to understand that,” he said. “It could have been Bradley-Pacquiao, but my team and I, we worked together to put on the best possible show to make sure that everybody included -- my team, Top Rank, HBO -- is happy with the results at the end of the day. They came to me to ask me, and I said I don't have a problem with it. I know Pacquiao is a big name and everybody knows it, so Pacquiao-Bradley is OK.

“And I just basically negotiated everything else that I wanted to be treated like a champion. I want to walk out second. I want to be announced second. I want to pick my corner. It is all part of negotiations. That's what it's about, and I have no problem with it. I know Sergio Martinez has a problem with it, but Cotto is the name.”

Beltran has eyes on title shot

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
Ray Beltran, Arash UsmaneeChris Farina/Top RankRay Beltran is hoping a victory over Arash Usmanee on Saturday can lift him to another title shot.
LAS VEGAS -- On Thursday afternoon inside the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley II media center at the MGM Grand, there was a ceremony for newly crowned lightweight titlist Terence Crawford, who received the world title belt he won March 1 against Ricky Burns by unanimous decision on Burns' home turf in Scotland.

Lightweight contender Raymundo Beltran was in the building but not in the media center and was happy he missed the ceremony. It's not that Beltran has anything against Crawford; it's just that Beltran, along with many others, believes that Crawford's belt should be his.

In the fight before Burns lost to Crawford, Burns defended the title against Beltran in Scotland in September. Beltran broke Burns' jaw in the second round, dropped him in the eighth round and basically ran over him for most of the fight. But when the scores were announced, Burns retained the title on a hometown draw.

Beltran was crushed, and rightfully so. He hoped for an immediate rematch, but Crawford was waiting as the mandatory challenger, got the next shot and dethroned Burns.

Beltran (28-6-1, 17 KOs), known to many for his work as one of Pacquiao's top sparring partners in recent years, will fight for the first time since the draw when he faces late substitute Arash Usmanee (20-1-1, 10 KOs) in the co-feature on the Pacquiao-Bradley II card Saturday night. Usmanee accepted the fight last weekend when former junior lightweight titlist Rocky Martinez dropped out due to illness.

"I should be defending my title," Beltran said of Saturday’s fight. "But only God knows why it happened. I just focus and try to stay positive. I've been through a lot in boxing. I think me and my team got here from our hard work. Nobody put us here."

Beltran said he heard from many fight fans after the robbery against Burns and it made him feel good, even if it didn't make up for not having the title.

"I focus on the positive, and it made me feel good because if the fans know who you are that really gives you the strength," said Beltran, who is from Mexico and lives in Los Angeles. "Without the fans you are nothing. The fans saw what happened and they want to see me victorious."

Beltran has not even been able to watch a video of the entire fight with Burns.

"It still hurts. It pisses me off," he said. "It puts me in a bad mood, so I just leave it alone."

With a victory against Usmanee, Beltran likely will get another shot at the title in Crawford's first defense.

"I think Beltran got screwed when he fought Burns in Scotland and easily won that fight and came away with a draw, and I feel really bad on that," Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said. "He wanted to get an immediate rematch with Burns but Crawford was waiting as the mandatory, so I see no reason why that wouldn't be a terrific fight with Crawford and Beltran."

Arum's plan is to put the fight on HBO June 28 or July 12 and do it in Council Bluffs, Iowa, right over the border from Omaha, Neb., which is Crawford's hometown.

"Three minutes from Omaha over the bridge is Council Bluffs, where they have all the casinos and more hotels, and we'd do it," Arum said. "I'd insist on a judging panel that has to be approved by both fighters."

It sounds like a good plan to Beltran.

"Once I beat Usmanee, I should be fighting for a title [against] Crawford or anybody," he said. "Even without Usmanee, I should be fighting for a title. But hopefully we beat Usmanee and then, no question, I should fight for a title. I'll fight Crawford. I would like to fight Crawford. He's a champion. I just want to fight the best."

LAS VEGAS -- Welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley Jr. is one of boxing’s few elite fighters who is undefeated, and while he likes that good-looking zero on the end of his record, it doesn’t mean everything to him.

“Being unbeaten is a great accomplishment, but it's not everything in boxing, honestly,” said Bradley, who puts the unbeaten record up against Manny Pacquiao in a rematch of Bradley’s controversial 2012 win on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand. “I feel that fighting the best fights and giving the fans what they want is the best thing for you and your career. A lot of guys that are legendary have losses on their records, but they fought the best fighters in the world, and that's what is important to me. I want to be one of the best fighters in the world.

“Maintaining my health is great, but every dog has his day. This next fight -- I may lose this Manny Pacquiao fight, but you never know. Things happen in the ring when you least expect it. It only takes one punch to end the night, and we know that. At the end of the day, my ‘0’ doesn't really mean that much to me. It's just there. I have beaten everyone they have put in front of me; that's all it means. But I just want to fight the best.”

Pound-for-pound king and welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather is also unbeaten but has the opposite view of Bradley. Mayweather cherishes his perfect mark. It means everything to him.

If Bradley beats Pacquiao and Mayweather unifies belts against Marcos Maidana on May 3, a Mayweather-Bradley fight would make all the sense in the world.

It would pit undefeated American champions in one of boxing’s biggest fights. However, it is unlikely to happen because Mayweather is under contract to Showtime and works with Golden Boy Promotions while Bradley fights on HBO and recently signed a contract extension with Top Rank. None of those entities work with each other.

But wouldn’t Bradley want the opportunity to match his skills against Mayweather’s?

“It's not how badly I want to fight Mayweather,” Bradley said. “Mayweather already knows I will fight him any day and any place. It's how bad Mayweather wants to fight me. Whether or not I fight him, my career is going to go on and my legacy is going to keep on building. Whether he is there or not, I am going to keep on winning against the best opponents out there.”

Bradley said that even if he never faces Mayweather his legacy won’t suffer, the same way Pacquiao’s hasn’t suffered because he and Mayweather have never fought in a soap opera that has played out for the past several years.

“At the end of the day, Mayweather is his own boss, and if he wants to see me, he can come see me,” Bradley said. “I've got people that work for me and are building me -- my wife [Monica], who is also my manager, [Top Rank president] Todd duBoef, Top Rank, HBO, and if Mayweather wants to come see me, he’s his own boss, and he says that over and over and over.

“If he wants the fight to happen, then so be it. I will never shy away from the best, and Mayweather is the best right now. At the end of the day, everyone is going to want to see the fight, but the business side of boxing is totally different and it's not our fault; it's just the way it is.”

Vazquez-Sonsona II on June 7

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
LAS VEGAS -- In 2010, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. of Puerto Rico knocked out Marvin Sonsona of the Philippines in the fourth round to win a vacant junior featherweight world title. Four years later, they will meet again.

Before the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley II final news conference at the MGM Grand on Wednesday, promoter Sampson Lewkowicz, who promotes Sonsona, told that the rematch was made and would be one of HBO PPV-televised bouts on the undercard of middleweight champion Sergio Martinez’s defense against Miguel Cotto on June 7 at the Madison Square Garden in New York.

Lewkowicz, Martinez’s longtime adviser, Martinez promoter Lou DiBella, Top Rank and Cotto Promotions are trying to put together the rest of the undercard, which has been difficult given all of the parties that need to be satisfied.

Sonsona (18-1-1, 15 KOs), a former junior bantamweight titleholder, has not lost since the Vazquez fight, although he has only fought four times, most recently a very impressive third-round destruction of former junior featherweight titlist Akifumi Shimoda in February in Macau.

Vazquez (23-3-1, 19 KOs), who recently signed with Cotto Promotions, is just 3-3 in his last six fights, losing his title by 12th-round knockout in an upset to Jorge Arce in 2011 to begin the slide. But he is coming off a 12-round decision win against previously unbeaten Guillermo Avila in September.

Clottey dominates Mundine

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
For the past few years, Australia’s Anthony Mundine, a former super middleweight titlist, has talked about coming to America and getting a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Nobody ever took him seriously because he never had a chance to get a fight with Mayweather. But now he definitely won’t get that fight, and even he must realize that by now -- not after former welterweight titleholder Joshua Clottey, who was fighting for only the third time since his 2010 virtual shutout loss to Manny Pacquiao, traveled to Newcastle, Australia, and beat him up on Wednesday.

Clottey (38-4, 22 KOs) dropped Mundine (46-6, 27 KOs) five times -- count ‘em, five times -- in their junior middleweight fight en route to a unanimous decision.

Clottey scored knockdowns in the third, two in the sixth and one each in the eighth and 10 rounds to win on scores of 117-108, 116-108 and 115-109.

It was the most notable victory Clottey has had since he won a vacant welterweight belt by ninth-round technical decision against Zab Judah in 2008.

“I am thrilled that Joshua was victorious,” Star Boxing promoter Joe DeGuardia said. “I knew when I signed Joshua to a promotional agreement he would still be a major force in the junior middleweight division. Joshua has the ability to defeat any junior middleweight in the world, and this win sets up potentially major fights for Joshua with the likes of Canelo Alvarez, Erislandy Lara and my junior middleweight champion, Demetrius Andrade. I am looking forward to Joshua's journey back to the world championship.”

Bob Arum unhappy with MGM

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9

LAS VEGAS -- Welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, showing the utmost respect for each other, came face to face at Wednesday’s final news conference ahead of their rematch on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

No trash talk. No insults. Not even any knockout promises. Just two respectful gentleman promising a good fight. The same went for their trainers, Joel Diaz and Freddie Roach.

They left the trash talk to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who lambasted the MGM Grand in his closing remarks.

Arum was rightfully upset with casino executives, who have the property decorated to the hilt with signage and promotion for the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana fight that the MGM will host on May 3, rather than an all-out blitz for Saturday’s Pacquiao-Bradley rematch.

It’s obvious, too. The outside of the MGM has a massive banner down the side of the building with Mayweather’s picture. Although there is Pacquiao-Bradley signage in the main lobby, there is little elsewhere.

Mayweather-Maidana advertising, however, is everywhere. The fight adorns slot machines throughout the casino and there are rotating signs hanging from the ceilings along the casino’s Studio Walk, which normally would be reserved for the event this week.

When Bradley finished his remarks, he asked Arum, “Did I say all the right things?”

Arum responded, “Why don't you ask the guy [Mayweather] who's picture is all over the building when he's going to fight somebody real.”

Bradley cracked up and said, “I’ll let you ask that.”

At that point, Arum returned to the podium and went off.

"I'm not going to say it,” he said at first. But Arum couldn’t resist.

“The hell with it,” he said. “I know the Venetian [whose Macau casino hosts Arum’s fights, including Pacquiao’s last fight] wouldn’t make a mistake like this. They would know what fight they have scheduled in three or four days and they wouldn't have a 12-to-1 fight all over the building that's going to take place in three weeks. That's why one company [the Venetian] makes a billion dollars a quarter and the other [the MGM] hustles to pay it's debt. There it is, I say it like it is.”

Stunningly, Arum said it with MGM executive Richard Sturm sitting right next to him. Sturm, whom Arum had earlier introduced to make his remarks as MGM “president of hanging posters for the wrong fight,” did not look happy, but did not make any comments.

Arum drew laughs from the crowd when he closed his remarks saying, “If anything that I said today is incendiary, well, I’m an old guy and I apologize.”

Sturm, the president of entertainment and sports for MGM Resorts International, issued a statement Wednesday night responding to Arum.

“I was truly shocked by Bob’s comments at (Wednesday’s) press conference and honestly disappointed,” Sturm said. “MGM Grand hosted a fight March 8 and has three additional fight events scheduled now through Memorial Day weekend. We always do everything possible to properly promote the events throughout our resorts and over the decades have promoted many, many sporting events with enormous success.”

Bill Hornbuckle, the MGM Resorts International president, added, “Aparently Bob’s definitions of respect and class are different than ours.”

Arum has had a rocky relationship with the MGM Grand in recent years, one of the reasons why he has done so much business with The Wynn and held fights at the Thomas & Mack Center. But the MGM wanted Pacquiao back because he attracts so many people to his fights.

Ogogo added to May 3 undercard

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
British middleweight prospect Anthony Ogogo, who claimed Olympic bronze in front of the hometown crowd at the 2012 London Games, will make his Las Vegas debut on May 3 on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana undercard at the MGM Grand, Golden Boy Promotions announced on Tuesday.

Ogogo (5-0, 2 KOs), 25, who turned pro in April 2013, fought his second pro bout in Atlantic City, N.J., and is returning to the United States for a coveted spot on one of the year’s biggest cards.

"It's an honor for me to be on the show, and I can't wait for May 3," said Ogogo, who does not yet have an opponent. “I've had a great training camp and hope to be in the best shape of my career for this fight. Some British fighters never get the chance to fight in Las Vegas, and to do so in my sixth fight is a real achievement and will be a fantastic moment for me."

The fight will be Ogogo’s second of the year. He won a six-round decision against Greg O’Neill on March 21 in Glasgow, Scotland, on the Terence Crawford-Ricky Burns undercard.

"British fans already know the great potential Anthony has and the charisma he possesses in and out of the ring," Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer said. “Now on one of the biggest nights of the year in boxing, fans and media in Las Vegas will get to see what all of the excitement is about.”

Pacquiao talks Bradley-Marquez

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8

Manny Pacquiao has faced Juan Manuel Marquez in four memorable battles, going 2-1-1, including a shocking one-punch knockout loss in fight No. 4 in December 2012.

Pacquiao has also faced Timothy Bradley once, losing a massively controversial split decision in June 2012.

After facing Pacquiao, Bradley outboxed Marquez two fights later, in October, to defend the title he claimed against Pacquiao.

Now Pacquiao is set to go back into the ring to face Bradley in a rematch on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. So is there anything Pacquiao might have picked up about Bradley watching him face Marquez, his greatest rival?

Not exactly.

That’s because Pacquiao said he did not watch the fight (if you believe him). Pacquiao did, however, say that Bradley’s decision win did not surprise him.

“That is what I had predicted,” Pacquiao said. “Bradley obviously fought the better fight and boxed Marquez. I assume Marquez just could not overcome Bradley's skills and youth and there was no way Bradley was going to go toe-to-toe after his battle with Ruslan Provodnikov.”

In the fight after facing Pacquiao, Bradley slugged it out with Provodnikov in the 2013 fight of the year, a battle in which Bradley was knocked down, badly hurt multiple times and concussed. He said he fought Provodnikov toe to toe by design. Then he returned to a boxing style against Marquez.

So which Bradley will show up against Pacquiao? Pacquiao said he expects Bradley fight him the way he did Marquez, rather than try to slug with him like he did against Provodnikov. Pacquiao has far better power than Bradley.

"I do not think Bradley will fight toe-to-toe with me, either, so I will have to hunt him down,” Pacquiao said. “I am prepared for that. I am not going for a knockout but if the opportunity presents itself, I am going to go for it this time. Bradley's talk that I am no longer hungry has inspired me throughout this training camp. As [trainer] Freddie Roach keeps saying every day in training, ‘No mercy.’”

Roach has watched Bradley’s performance against Marquez and perhaps gleaned something from it, especially since he is also so familiar with Marquez’s style.

“For his fights he does what he is supposed to do,” Roach said of Bradley. “He boxed well against Marquez and he beat a good fighter. What he will bring to the table against Manny is what he brought against Marquez. He likes to exchange a little bit also, so when we get into an exchange we will have to take advantage of that moment.”
If you follow boxing in Texas, you probably know the name Dickie Cole, the quintessential Texas good old boy.

For 21 years, Cole oversaw the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation’s Combative Sports division. That’s the fancy way of saying that he was chief regulator for boxing in Texas.

Under his watch, the state hosted numerous big-time fights, including Manny Pacquiao’s two world title bouts at Cowboys Stadium. But under Cole’s watch there were also too many judging controversies to count, not to mention a lackadaisical approach to drug testing.

On Tuesday, the TDLR announced that Cole is retiring on April 30.

“Over the years, Dickie has been recognized for his dedication to combative sports and has provided opportunities and mentoring for many young men and women to become referees, judges, promoters and seconds,” the department said in a statement. “His care and concern for the sport of boxing has been a lifelong passion that will continue to influence the industry for years to come. We are proud to have worked with Dickie, and to have been recipients of his wisdom and knowledge. He will be missed but not forgotten. We wish him well and thank him for his decades of service to the state of Texas.”

Greg Alvarez, who has worked for the TDLR for 13 years, was named to succeed Cole, who is also the father of Texas referee Laurence Cole.

Abraham, Sjekloca speak out

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
Arthur Abraham and Nikola Sjekloca Matthias Kern/Bongarts/Getty ImagesArthur Abraham will defend his super middleweight title against Nikola Sjekloca in Germany.

Super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham and challenger Nikola Sjekloca met head-to-head on Tuesday at the kickoff news conference for their May 3 fight at the Velodrom in Berlin, Germany, and here’s some of what they had to say:

• Sjekloca: "I am going to dethrone the 'King' Arthur and take his title away. Last year, I had a competitive fight against Sakio Bika, who went on to win the WBC belt. Now I want to win the WBO title and unify against Bika in a rematch. I do not underestimate Abraham as I have followed his career since he had his first world championship fight. I studied his style in detail and know how to beat him."

• Abraham: "To study my style by watching videos is one thing, to step into the ring against me the other. I am leaving for training camp [Wednesday] morning. I know for a fact that my coach Ulli Wegner will come up with the right game plan for me to be victorious on May 3. I am really looking forward to defend the WBO world championship in my hometown of Berlin."

Abraham (39-4, 28 KOs) regained his belt on March 1, winning a split decision against rival Robert Stieglitz in Stieglitz’s hometown of Magdeburg, Germany in the rubber match of their trilogy. The win was Abraham’s third in a row since being knocked out by Stieglitz in the fourth round of their second fight in March 2013.

Sjekloca (26-1, 8 KOs), of Montenegro, came to the United States and faced Bika in a title elimination fight in February 2013 and lost a near-shutout decision. Bika went on to win a version of the 168-pound world title while Sjekloca rebounded to score a second-round knockout against sub-.500 opponent Misa Nikolic in Montenegro in August.

Ali, Ochoa, Brown on D.C. card

April, 7, 2014
Apr 7
Unbeaten welterweight Sadam Ali, a 2008 U.S. Olympian from Brooklyn, N.Y., will be one of the boxers featured in the nontitle bouts that Golden Boy Promotions announced Monday for the undercard of its April 19 (Showtime) card at the DC Armory in Washington, D.C.

The three top fights are world title bouts: the Bernard Hopkins-Beibut Shumenov light heavyweight title unification match, welterweight titlist Shawn Porter defending against former titleholder Paulie Malignaggi and middleweight titlist “Kid Chocolate” Peter Quillin in a defense against Lukas Konecny.

Ali (18-0, 11 KOs) will meet Jeremy Bryan (17-3, 7 KOs) of Paterson, N.J., in a scheduled 10-round bout that will be featured on the Showtime Extreme telecast.

Also scheduled for the Showtime Extreme portion of the card are Brooklyn’s Zachary Ochoa (6-0, 3 KOs) against Puerto Rico's Hector Marengo (6-7-4, 4 KOs) in a four-rounder and light heavyweight Marcus Browne (9-0, 7 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian from Staten Island, N.Y., against an opponent to be determined in an eight-rounder.

In one of the nontelevised fights, middleweight prospect Dominic Wade (14-0, 10 KOs) of Largo, Md., who recently signed with powerful adviser Al Haymon, faces Marcus Upshaw (15-11-2, 7 KOs), of Jacksonville, Fla., in an eight-round fight.
Junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan has been added to the undercard of the Bermane Stiverne-Chris Arreola rematch for a vacant heavyweight world title on May 10 at the Galen Center on the USC campus in Los Angeles, promoter Dan Goossen announced on Monday.

Martirosyan (34-1-1, 21 KOs), 27, of Glendale, Calif., will face an opponent to be determined in an eight-round bout, his second since signing with Goossen. In his first appearance, he won a unanimous 10-round decision against Mario Lozano on March 21. That fight was Martirosyan’s first since losing a split decision to Demetrius Andrade for a vacant world title in November.

"Vanes made it very clear upon signing he wanted to stay busy and grow his fan base here in California. The added benefit is his desire to work in the gym under his new trainer, Joe Goossen,” said Goossen, Joe’s brother. “The combination of learning new things with Joe, and staying busy, will allow Vanes to better utilize improved skills in real action.”

The Stiverne-Arreola main event headlines the ESPN telecast. There will be a televised undercard, but Martirosyan’s match is not scheduled to be part of the broadcast.

"My last fight was the first time I felt like a pro," Martirosyan said. "It's amazing even to me. I said being with Joe for only three weeks, he had me understanding the need to work harder and developing some of my other offensive weapons."

Said Joe Goossen, "It's important now, at only 27 years of age, that we prepare Vanes to the fullest of his potential and not allow another opportunity for the world championship to fall through his grip. Activity in the gym and the ring can only help us."