WBC sets mandatories, pushes Floyd-Pac

December, 18, 2014
Dec 18
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The 52nd annual WBC convention is going on this week at the Mirage in Las Vegas and while I have little use for the sanctioning organization -- one which regularly breaks its own rules -- one element of the convention is significant because it has a direct impact on fights that fans will see.

It comes when spend a day dealing with mandatory defenses in each division.

So here is a division-by-division rundown of what to look for in each weight class as it relates to the WBC’s title. Keep in mind, this is what the WBC has ruled but does not mean the fighters and their handlers won’t go in another direction.

• Heavyweight: Titleholder Bermane Stiverne must make two mandatory defenses as he won a vacant title in May. He meets Deontay Wilder on Jan. 17 and then the winner must face Bryant Jennings. Because Jennings is likely going to challenge champion Wladimir Klitschko for his other alphabet belts on April 25, a final eliminator between Alexander Povetkin and Mike Perez was ordered to determine the second mandatory.

• Cruiserweight: Thabiso Mchunu and Ilungu Makubu were ordered to meet in a final eliminator to determine the mandatory challenger for titleholder Grigory Drozd.

• Light heavyweight: Champion Adonis Stevenson has an optional defense against Dmitry Sukhotsky on Friday night and the winner can take one more optional defense. But, in a highly unusual move, the WBC accepted a proposal made by Main Events promoter Kathy Duva that the winner of the March 14 fight between three-belt titlist Sergey Kovalev and former champion Jean Pascal become the WBC mandatory challenger. Organizations typically do not rank titleholders from other organizations, but the WBC made an exception -- and a welcome one -- in an effort to force Stevenson into fighting the Kovalev-Pascal winner. If the sides do not make a deal and it goes to a purse bid the split will be 50-50, another highly unusual move because usually a WBC titleholder is entitled to no less than 60 percent in a purse bid.

• Super middleweight: Titleholder Anthony Dirrell is expected to make an optional defense in February with the winner obligated to make a mandatory defense against George Groves in the next fight.

• Middleweight: Champion Miguel Cotto is allowed an optional defense, likely against Canelo Alvarez on May 2. Titleholder Gennady Golovkin, who is also the WBC’s interim titleholder, faces Martin Murray on Feb. 21. The Golovkin-Murray winner will be the mandatory challenger for the winner of Cotto’s next fight, be it against Alvarez or somebody else.

• Junior middleweight/welterweight: Floyd Mayweather Jr. holds both WBC belts. Promoter Sampson Lewkowicz proposed an eight-man tournament in each weight division to determine the mandatory challengers, which was approved by the WBC Board of Governors. Nice idea, but it has almost no chance of coming off as planned. Nonetheless, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman commented on it as it relates to a Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight.

“The WBC has participated to allow and encourage in every way the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight to take place,” he said. “The WBC has not set any obstacles or conditions for the fight to take place. The WBC has approved to have a dual championship for the welterweight and (junior middleweight) divisions. Floyd Mayweather is confirmed to hold both titles, and there is no mandatory in either division until we can finalize if he is fighting Pacquiao. There are proposed tournaments to take place in both divisions to keep both divisions active, and to eventually determine the mandatory challengers."

• Junior welterweight: Champion Danny Garcia has a step-aside deal in place with mandatory challenger Viktor Postol. The winner of Garcia’s voluntary defense, which has no date or opponent yet, is required to fight Postol next.

• Lightweight: Jorge Linares and Javier Prieto fight for the vacant belt Dec. 30. Final eliminators were approved to determine the two mandatory challengers, one between Hank Lundy and Dejan Zlaticanin and one between Daniel Estrada and Kevin Mitchell, which is scheduled for Jan. 31.

• Junior lightweight: Titleholder Takashi Miura is in an optional stage and the WBC approved a fight between Stephen Smith and Javier Fortuna for the No. 1 ranking.

• Featherweight: Since there has been no mandatory defense for more than two years, two eliminators are on tap with the winners supposedly to face titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez. The winner of the Jan. 6 fight between Rocky Juarez and Robinson Castellanos will be one challenger. The next challenger is supposed to be the winner of a fight between Marvin Sonsona and Jayson Velez, which is not scheduled yet.

• Junior featherweight: Titleholder Leo Santa Cruz’s will have to make a mandatory defense against the winner of a March 14 fight between Andres Gutierrez and Hugo Ruiz of Mexico.

• Bantamweight: Titleholder Shinsuke Yamanaka is in his voluntary defense period and there is no mandatory yet.

• Junior bantamweight: A final eliminator between Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Jose Salgado was approved. The winner of the unscheduled bout will be mandatory for Carlos Cuadras.

• Flyweight: Nawaphon Sor Rungvisai and Edgar Sosa were approved to fight a final eliminator to become champion Roman Gonzalez’s mandatory.

• Junior flyweight: Pedro Guevara faces Akira Yaegashi for the vacant title on Dec. 30. A final eliminator to determine the mandatory challenger for the winner was also approved. It will be a fight between Jonathan Inguito Taconing and either Ganigan Lopez or Adrian Hernandez.

• Strawweight: Titleholder Wanheng Menayothin is in a voluntary stage until November. A final eliminator between Carlos Ortega and Denver Cuello was approved.
A few notes from around the boxing world:

•  British lightweight Anthony Crolla (29-4-2, 11 KOs) was hospitalized this week with a broken ankle and possible skull fracture after a confrontation with burglars, which has, obviously, caused his shot at world titleholder Richar Abril (19-3-1, 8 KOs) to be canceled. They were due to fight Jan. 23 at the Phones 4u Arena in Crolla’s hometown of Manchester, England. According to British media reports, Crolla was struck on the head by a brick when he confronted the burglars at a neighbor’s home.

•  At this week’s annual WBC convention, taking place in Las Vegas, the organization announced an agreement with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association to perform random drug testing on boxers involved in its bouts. WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said it would be “different testing from the regular after-the-fight test, which is used only for the fight. The VADA program with the WBC intends to test throughout the year in a random way. There is a universe of fighters who are within the top 15 and champions, who are eligible for this testing.” Dr. Margaret Goodman, the former Nevada chief ringside physician who now runs the VADA, is on board and also addressed the convention on the topic.

•  Promoter Lou DiBella has hired Eric Bentley as DiBella Entertainment’s director of boxing operations and matchmaking. Bentley, a native New Yorker, has tremendous experience, including spending the past five years as the director of boxing for the New York State Athletic Commission. He was also a finalist for the executive director position at the Nevada State Athletic Commission earlier this year. “I enjoyed my time at NYSAC and learned a tremendous amount from (executive director) David Berlin, but it was the right time to move on and there's no better place to go than DiBella Entertainment,” Bentley said. “There aren't many more genuine and passionate guys than Lou and he has surrounded himself with a phenomenal team, of which I'm excited to be a part."

Said DiBella: “DiBella Entertainment has strengthened itself greatly with the hiring of Eric Bentley. Eric was previously a quality matchmaker and then a highly respected executive with the New York State Athletic Commission. He will bolster my staff, which is already one of the finest in the boxing promotional business.”

•  The final edition of the year of “The Fight Game With Jim Lampley” debuts on Tuesday (HBO, 11 p.m. ET/PT). The episode will include a review of the top stories of the year in boxing, Michelle Beadle will interview trainer Freddie Roach and Lampley will reveal his boxing person of the year.
Rising super middleweight contender Gilberto Ramirez, who has been so impressive in recent fights, will make his HBO debut on Jan. 24.

Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN.com that Ramirez will face Maxim Vlasov in a scheduled 10-round fight. The bout will be the co-feature on the card headlined by the rubber match between welterweights Mike Alvarado (34-3, 23 KOs) and Brandon Rios (32-2-1, 23 KOs) at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, Alvarado’s hometown.

Ramirez (30-0, 24 KOs), a 23-year-old southpaw puncher from Mexico, has scored several impressive knockouts against solid opponents recently, including an eighth-round stoppage of veteran former title challenger Fulgencio Zuniga on Nov. 15.

Vlasov (30-1, 15 KOs), 28, of Russia has won 11 fights in a row since dropping a 10-round decision to Isaac Chilemba in February 2011.

“Vlasov presents a whole different problem for Gilberto Ramirez,” Moretti said. “His gaudy 30-1 record and no fear should present a pre-fireworks show leading up to Rios-Alvarado, which will truly shake the Rocky Mountains. This fight will go a long way in telling us where Gilberto Ramirez is as an elite fighter. I expect nothing but a good fight.”

Before HBO and Top Rank agreed to feature Ramirez in the Alvarado-Rios III co-feature talk centered on welterweight prospect Mikael Zewski (26-0, 20 KOs) being in that slot, perhaps against Sadam Ali, who looked good in a ninth-round knockout of Luis Carlos Abregu on Nov. 8 on HBO on the Sergey Kovalev-Bernard Hopkins undercard.

However, Zewski struggled to a 10-round majority decision win against Jeremy Bryan last Saturday on the Timothy Bradley Jr.-Diego Chaves undercard and HBO did not feel like he was ready yet for prime time.

Kovalev-Pascal site set: Montreal

December, 17, 2014
Dec 17
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The site for the much-anticipated March 14 fight between light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev and former world champion Jean Pascal was announced on Wednesday: the Bell Centre in Montreal, Pascal's hometown.

It was between Montreal and Quebec City, but UFC, which had a hold on the date, gave it up, paving the way for the HBO-televised card to take place there.

"After a tough 2014, we are extremely proud to bring to our fans one of the very best fights that can be made at light heavyweight," said Jean Bedard of InterBox, Pascal's promoter. "We all intend to start off the New Year with a bang, and Kovalev versus Pascal will certainly deliver fireworks. Our fans deserve the very best fights, and those are the fights we will concentrate to make."

Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs) will be defending his three alphabet belts in his first bout since taking two of them from Bernard Hopkins in a one-sided rout on Nov. 8. It will be his fifth title defense overall. Pascal (29-2-1, 17 KOs) is coming off a second-round no contest against Roberto Bolonti on Dec. 6, also at the Bell Centre.

Main Events, Kovalev's promoter, also announced that Najib Mohammedi, one of the mandatory challengers for the winner, will appear on the undercard. Mohammedi's shot was due but Kovalev was given an exception in order to face Pascal first, with the blessing of Mohammedi. The French contender wanted more time to work with Abel Sanchez, his new trainer. They have only had one fight together, a knockout victory on the Kovalev-Hopkins undercard.

A news conference to formally announce the card is scheduled for a time to be determined next week.

"I received a very warm welcome in Montreal when I attended Pascal's last fight at the Bell Centre. I'm excited to return with Sergey and to work with Jean Bedard and his staff at InterBox," Main Events CEO Kathy Duva said.
There's been a little bit of a change of plans for the Goossen Promotions card on Saturday night (Showtime Extreme, 9 ET/PT) at the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, Washington.

Interim featherweight titlist Jesus Cuellar (25-1, 19 KOs) still faces Ruben Tamayo (25-4-4, 17 KOs) in the main event but there is a new co-feature and a change to one of the other bouts.

Anthony Peterson was slated to face Yakubu Amidu in the junior welterweight co-feature, but Amidu dropped out of the fight. So according to Goossen Promotions’ Tom Brown and Showtime, the featherweight bout between Gary Russell Jr. (24-1, 14 KOs) and Christopher Martin (28-4-3, 9 KOs), originally not scheduled for the broadcast, is moving into the co-feature slot.

Russell will be fighting for the first time since he was schooled by Vasyl Lomachenko in a vacant featherweight world title bout on June 21. Martin has lost two of his last three fights.

Peterson (34-1, 22 KOs), the younger brother of junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson, will remain on the card but his fight against replacement Hector Velasquez (56-24-3, 38 KOs) won't be televised.

Junior middleweight prospect Julian Williams (17-0-1, 10 KOs) will be part of the broadcast but his original opponent, Edgar Ortega, dropped out and Williams will instead face Jamar Freeman (13-3-2, 6 KOs).

The opener of the quadrupleheader remains intact as super middleweight Julius Jackson (18-0, 14 KOs), son of former junior middleweight and middleweight titleholder Julian Jackson, will fight Jonathan Nelson (19-1, 9 KOs).

GGG opens training camp for Murray

December, 17, 2014
Dec 17
11:29
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videoIt's time for more GGG.

Middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin has opened training camp with trainer Abel Sanchez in Big Bear Lake, California, ahead of his defense against Martin Murray on Feb. 21 (HBO) in Monte Carlo.

"It was a very busy time these last few weeks but I liked spending time with the media and fans all over the world. I look forward to starting training camp with my coach and putting on another great show in Monte Carlo," Golovkin said.

Golovkin recently went on a four-country media tour to promote the fight, stopping in Monte Carlo, Astana (in his native Kazakhstan), London (in Murray's native England) and Mexico City, with a fifth stop being planned for January in Los Angeles, where Golovkin moved recently after years of being based in Germany.

He also was ringside at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas on Saturday watching Andy Lee knock out Matt Korobov to win a vacant middleweight belt. Golovkin is interested in unification fights, so an eventual fight with Lee would surely be of interest to him. They were actually scheduled to fight April 26 in New York when Lee was supposed to challenge for GGG's belt. But Golovkin’s father died unexpectedly and Golovkin withdrew from the fight.

Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) has scored 18 knockouts in a row, has the highest knockout percentage (90.3) of any active titleholder in boxing and is coming off his 12th title defense, a second-round blowout of Marco Antonio Rubio on Oct. 18 to add an interim belt to the one he already owns.

On Oct. 25, Golovkin was ringside to watch as Murray (29-1-1, 12 KOs) won a seventh-round technical decision against Domenico Spada in Monte Carlo to clear the final hurdle to their showdown. With a victory, Golovkin hopes to secure a unification fight -- ideally against the winner of the proposed Miguel Cotto-Canelo Alvarez fight -- or a major fight at super middleweight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Carl Froch or Andre Ward.

HBO and Showtime cards hurt each other

December, 17, 2014
Dec 17
12:57
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video
So who won the battle of the two fight cards on Saturday in Las Vegas -- HBO’s tripleheader at the Cosmopolitan headlined by the Timothy Bradley Jr.-Diego Chaves draw (terrible decision) or Showtime’s quadrupleheader at the MGM Grand headlined by Amir Khan’s brilliant near-shutout performance of Devon Alexander?

Based on the viewership figures, it seems to me that it is basically a draw. While both did OK neither set the world on fire in their respective viewership universe. It is my opinion that the fact that most of the shows went head-to-head hurt both of them.

The main events, both in the welterweight division, were essentially on opposite each other and, according to Nielsen Media Research, Bradley-Chaves averaged 966,000 viewers for the live, first-time airing, peaking at 1.087 million. Bradley-Chaves was the 15th most-watched fight on American television this year. HBO has televised the top 13 and 14 of the top 15 while the only Showtime fight in the top 15 is No. 14, Danny Garcia-Mauricio Herrera from March.

Keeping in mind, of course, that HBO is in several million more homes than Showtime, it is no surprise that Bradley-Chaves had more viewers than Khan-Alexander, which averaged 762,000 viewers and peaked at 887,000. But Khan-Alexander’s average placed it sixth out of Showtime’s 13 “Showtime Championship Boxing” telecasts this year. Not bad, but not great. Without Bradley-Chaves on opposite it, it seems logical to think Khan-Alexander would have drawn far more viewers given the name recognition of both fighters.

The HBO opener, junior welterweight Jose Benavidez Jr.’s absolute gift decision against Herrera, averaged 807,000 viewers, peaking at 905,000. The co-feature, Andy Lee’s big sixth-round knockout of Matt Korobov to win a middleweight title averaged 787,000 viewers and peaked at 849,000 viewers.

Over on Showtime, the co-feature of welterweight Keith Thurman’s shutout of Leonard Bundu averaged 650,000 viewers, featherweight Abner Mares’s fifth-round stoppage of Jose Ramirez averaged 566,000 viewers and junior middleweight Jermall Charlo’s third-round knockout of Lenny Bottai averaged 451,000 viewers.

So both cards saw their audiences grow throughout the night -- a good thing -- but neither drew numbers all that great.

Showtime was pleased that the overall viewership for the four-fight event was on par with its “Showtime Championship Boxing” average for 2014.

HBO is pleased that it had a 44 percent viewership advantage for its event over Showtime’s for the night, even if the Bradley-Chaves main event was down about 13 percent from the average for HBO’s “World Championship Boxing” main events in 2014.

In the end fans got a good night of fights but would have been better served it seems had the cards not competed head to head in a sport that is already too marginalized to have major events against one another.

Don't count on Thurman-Maidana next

December, 17, 2014
Dec 17
12:33
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After Keith Thurman retained his interim welterweight belt with a ho-hum shutout of overmatched Leonard Bundu -- 120-107 across the board -- on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, he called out former titlist Marcos Maidana, who was seated at ringside.

Thurman (24-0, 21 KOs) would most like a shot at Floyd Mayweather Jr. -- like everyone else -- and has been calling him out quite a bit. But Thurman knows he is not going to get Mayweather, at least not next. So he made Maidana his second choice, and it’s a good one. After all, Maidana is an exciting fighter and he pushed Mayweather in two decision losses to him this year. Because of those two fights against the pound-for-pound king, Maidana also has a lot of name recognition.

But it doesn’t look like Thurman is going to get his wish of facing Maidana (35-5, 31 KOs) either, even though it would likely be a rather easy fight to make considering they are both fighting on Showtime and both with adviser Al Haymon.

“We all thought Keith Thurman had such a bad night, especially if you consider that he faced a 40-year-old European that could not punch at all. That's what Maidana himself said at ringside,” Sebastian Contursi, Maidana’s manager, told ESPN.com on Tuesday. “Right after the fight Maidana was being interviewed by [Argentine television network] Space's Juan Larena and while the interview was being conducted we were all surprised that Keith called out Marcos the way he did in the ring while being heavily booed by the whole arena. I think Keith picked such a bad time for calling out both Mayweather and Maidana after such a disappointing performance.

“We all respect Thurman as a great prospect but we think he still belongs to a different league for now. With all due respect, he needs to prove himself against the likes of Shawn Porter, Kell Brook, Victor Ortiz or Robert Guerrero before promising to ‘destroy Floyd or go through Maidana.’”

After the fight, Maidana and Contursi were watching the Amir Khan-Devon Alexander main event when guess who sat down next to them to also watch in about the fourth round? Thurman.

“Maidana and Keith recognized each other. They hugged, very friendly, and Maidana told him in his rough English, pointing out at him, ‘You wanna fight me? OK.’ They both laughed," said Contursi.

“I tell you this story since for the last two years Keith and some of his fans have made boxing fans believe that Maidana has ducked Thurman like Maidana was scared of him. That comes from the time back in 2012 when I agreed in principle -- we signed no contract or anything and Golden Boy Promotions rushed to announce it -- for Marcos to face Thurman and then I, myself, did not agree in the end,” added Contursi.

Maidana’s next move is not clear yet, Contursi said. He said they met with Haymon while in Las Vegas and the plan is for Maidana to return in the first half of 2015 “but no specific names were thrown out.”
A few notes from around the boxing world:

• In an unusual situation, Japanese countrymen Katsunari Takayama (27-7, 10 KOs) and Go Odaira (11-3-3, 1 KO) will meet for a pair of vacant strawweight world titles on Dec. 31 in Osaka, Japan. It is highly unusual for two alphabet organizations to sanction the same fight for its vacant belt but that is what the IBF and WBO are doing in the wake of unified titleholder Francisco Rodriguez Jr. vacating both of them in order to move up in weight. Takayama lost a unanimous decision to Rodriguez when they met to unify the belts in a sensational slugfest in August that is a leading fight of the year candidate. Takayama-Odaira takes place on the same card on which unified junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux defends against Hisashi Amagasa.

• The co-feature for the Jan. 9 season premiere of ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” is set. Promoter Gary Shaw announced that junior middleweight Francisco Santana (21-3-1, 10 KOs) will face Sebastian Lujan (43-8-2, 26 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round bout at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California. The previously announced main event pits interim junior lightweight titlist Darleys Perez (31-1, 20 KOs) against Jonathan Maicelo (21-1, 12 KOs). In June, Santana pulled an upset by outpointing hot prospect Eddie Gomez and handing him his first loss. Santana is riding a nine-fight winning streak since an eight-round decision loss to Jermell Charlo in October 2011. Lujan is probably best known for his 10th-round knockout loss to Antonio Margarito in a 2005 welterweight world title bout that ended because of a gruesome ear injury.

• Steve Weisfeld, who replaced Harold Lederman as the unofficial judge and rules expert on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” telecasts February 2013, is leaving the network after his contract was not renewed. Weisfeld’s last telecast was the Dec. 6 card headlined by the David Lemieux-Gabriel Rosado middleweight fight. Weisfeld, one of the elite judges in the world for many years, will return to official judging. Lederman will return to the “BAD” telecasts next year as well as continuing to work on the flagship “World Championship Boxing” series and HBO PPV events. HBO said in the event of split-site cards that it would still call on Weisfeld to work whichever bouts Lederman is not at.

• Cruiserweight titlist Denis Lebedev (26-2, 20 KOs), of Russia, will defend his belt on March 28 in Moscow, manager Vadim Kornilov told ESPN.com. Lebedev looked sharp in his last outing, knocking out Pawel Kolodziwej in the second round on Sept. 27, also in Moscow.

Mares wants Gonzalez rematch

December, 15, 2014
Dec 15
6:06
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Abner Mares, Jose RamirezEd Mulholland/Golden Boy/Getty ImagesAbner Mares looked strong on Saturday in an action-packed knockout of Jose Ramirez.
After former three-division titlist Abner Mares got upset in a first-round knockout loss to Jhonny Gonzalez in August 2013 -- a stunner that cost him his featherweight world title -- he was supposed to get an immediate rematch as per his contract.

It was set for February but ultimately canceled, supposedly because Mares was injured. But there were many who believed that while he may have been dinged up, the real reason was because his team decided not take it, believing that Mares needed a little time off and perhaps a confidence booster after such an unexpected result.

Whatever happened, Mares took off 11 months and returned (with new trainer Virgil Hunter) to beat Jonathan Oquendo in a drab performance in July.

Then Mares returned to trainer Clemente Medina, who was in his corner for all three of his title victories as well as the loss. On Saturday night on the Amir Khan-Devon Alexander undercard, Mares had his second fight since the defeat and looked impressive in an action-packed fifth-round knockout of Jose Ramirez.

Mares looked sharp, scored three knockdowns and made Ramirez quit.

And then he said he wants Gonzalez again and he wants him next.

"All I know is I'm going to be a four-time world champion," said Mares, who has won titles at bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight. "I'm going to conquer the featherweight division. Abner Mares is back. I want my rematch against Johnny Gonzalez. It's going to happen."

Gonzalez does not have anything lined up and it would be a significant fight. Showtime had committed to the rematch for last February, so there is no reason to think it wouldn't want to put it on in 2015, especially after Mares made such a good fight with Ramirez and Gonzalez having made two successful defenses since beating Mares, including a dominant three-knockdown 11th-round knockout of popular Mexican countryman Jorge Arce, whom he sent into a second retirement in October.

BWAA awards: And the nominees are...

December, 15, 2014
Dec 15
4:07
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Terence Crawford AP Photo/Nati HarnikTerence Crawford is one of the candidates to become the 2014 WBAA Fighter of the Year.

As if last week wasn’t busy enough in Las Vegas, where I shuttled between the Cosmopolitan and MGM Grand on Thursday, Friday and Saturday for coverage of both big shows – I hit both press conferences and weigh-ins and watched the early MGM bouts before going to the Cosmo – there was also a Boxing Writers Association of America meeting on Saturday morning at the MGM.

A few weeks ago in Atlantic City there was also a BWAA meeting for those folks in the organization on the East Coast. At that meeting we did the preliminary ballot for the 2014 awards, which will be handed out at the annual banquet in the spring a night or two before a major fight.

On Saturday we finalized the ballot and here is what the full members will be voting on in the coming weeks. The nominees are:

Sugar Ray Robinson Fighter of the Year: Terence Crawford, Sergey Kovalev, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Gennady Golovkin.

Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier Fight of the Year: Francisco Rodriguez Jr.-Katsunari Takayama (incredible action-packed strawweight unification), Orlando Salido-Terdsak Kokietgym (interim junior lightweight title bout featuring blazing action and seven combined knockdowns), Lucas Matthysse-John Molina (a back and forth junior welterweight battle featuring five combined knockdowns), Tommy Coyle-Daniel Brizuela (dramatic lightweight slugfest that featured eight combined knockdowns); Terence Crawford-Yuriorkis Gamboa (lightweight title fight that was dramatic and exciting in front of a wild Crawford crowd).

Eddie Futch Trainer of the Year: Abel Sanchez, Freddie Roach, John David Jackson, Naazim Richardson, Floyd Mayweather Sr.

Cus D’Amato Manager of the Year: Egis Klimas, Vadim Kornilov, Al Haymon, Pat Lynch, No award

Sam Taub broadcast award: Marc Payton (retired longtime director of HBO’s boxing broadcasts), Lou DiBella (promoter who spent many years buying the fights for HBO and the creator of “Boxing After Dark”), Seth Abraham (former longtime president of HBO Sports who teamed with DiBella to make HBO into a powerhouse boxing network), Brian Kweder (boxing programmer for ESPN), No award

Bill Crawford award for courage in overcoming adversity: Magomed Abdusalamov, Steve and Livvy Cunningham, Vitali Klitschko, Anthony Dirrell, Kathy Duva

Barney Nagler Long and Meritorious Service award: Michael Buffer (legendary ring announcer), Bob Canobbio (CompuBox founder), Lou DiBella (promoter, former HBO executive), Dr. Margaret Goodman (head of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association and former Nevada ringside physician), Jack Hirsch (outgoing longtime BWAA president)

Marvin Kohn Good Guy award: Dan Goossen (promoter, posthumous), Andrey Ryabinsky (Russian promoter who paid for most of Magomed Abdusalamov’s medical expenses), Ken Condon (longtime casino executive in Atlantic City), Don Turner (trainer), Tami Cotel (HBO boxing production coordinator).

Tyson's promotional company on the rocks

December, 13, 2014
Dec 13
12:06
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A few notes from around the boxing world:

•  Former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson and Garry Jonas, who partnered 17 months ago to found promotional company Iron Mike Productions, are in the midst of a split, according to multiple sources. Tyson and Jonas have had a falling out and are going their separate ways, according to the sources. The Tyson and Jonas camps declined comment to ESPN.com.

Jonas apparently will have some of his fighters begin working with powerful adviser and manager Al Haymon and plans to remain in boxing promotion. Tyson also may remain in the promotional business and it would seem logical that he would retain the name of the company. What will happen to the fighter contracts owned by Iron Mike Productions is unclear, but the company has several fighters on its roster, including exciting welterweight Sammy Vasquez, lightweight Monty Meza Clay, welterweight Felix Diaz (a 2008 Olympic gold medalist) and blue chip prospects Erickson Lubin, a junior middleweight, and Ievgen Khytrov, a middleweight.

•  Former three-division titleholder Adrien Broner (29-1, 22 KOs) is penciled in for his next fight on March 7 against an opponent (and television network) to be announced. Broner is coming off a 12-round decision win against Emmanuel Taylor in a junior welterweight bout on Sept. 6. Broner has won two fights in a row since losing his welterweight belt by clear unanimous decision to Marcos Maidana in their action-packed fight in December 2013, after which Broner dropped down to junior welterweight.

•  Middleweight contender David Lemieux’s 10th-round knockout of Gabriel Rosado in an action-packed fight on Dec. 6 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, averaged 908,000 viewers for Lemieux’s HBO debut. It peaked at 1.161 million. Middleweight Hugo Centeno Jr.’s sensational fifth-round knockout in the middle bout of the tripleheader averaged 750,000 with a peak of 815,000. Welterweight Thomas Dulorme’s hard-fought decision win against Hank Lundy in the opener averaged 672,000 with a peak of 778,000.

With a win, Bradley likes his options

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
9:43
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LAS VEGAS -- So where does former two-division titleholder Timothy Bradley Jr. go next should he defeat tough Diego Chaves on Saturday night (HBO, 10 ET/PT) in their welterweight bout at the Cosmopolitan?

“There are a lot of options out there,” said Bradley, a former welterweight and junior welterweight titleholder. “Manny Pacquiao is talking about going back down to 140, so his welterweight title may be vacant and maybe [Juan Manuel] Marquez would want to fight again to get that fifth title.”

Bradley has split two welterweight title fights with Pacquiao, winning the first hugely controversial one by split decision and then losing a clear unanimous decision in April.

In the fight before the rematch with Pacquiao, Bradley did an outstanding job of outboxing Marquez to retain his welterweight belt. Marquez said he wanted a rematch with Bradley after the loss and might be more interested if a world title were at stake because of his goal of winning a title in a fifth weight division.

Carl Moretti, vice president of Top Rank, Bradley’s promoter, brought up another possibility if Bradley wins: challenging welterweight titlist Kell Brook.

“I had some conversations with [British promoter] Eddie Hearn and Kell Brook if he can’t get the Amir Khan fight put together [for Brook],” Moretti said. “Tim, ironically, won his first title at 140 against a Brit [Junior Witter], so maybe he will have to fight another to win the title at 147.”

Bradley had another idea as well: maybe going up to junior middleweight. He said he would certainly be interested in a big fight with Canelo Alvarez, although Alvarez probably will fight middleweight champion Miguel Cotto in May.

“[Bradley] will go up but not down [in weight],” Moretti said.

Injured David Price has date rescheduled

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
12:44
AM ET
British heavyweight David Price, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist and 2012 ESPN.com prospect of the year, has a new fight date: Feb. 21 at the O2 World in Berlin.

Price will face an opponent to be determined on the undercard of the rematch between super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham and Paul Smith, promoter Sauerland Event announced on Thursday at the Abraham-Smith news conference in Liverpool, England.

Price (18-2, 15 KOs) suffered a small tear in his left biceps a couple of weeks ago, knocking him out of a fight with Emilio Ezequiel Zarate (18-13-3, 9 KOs), which was supposed to take place last Saturday at the EWE Arena in Oldenburg, Germany, on the undercard of light heavyweight titlist Juergen Braehmer's defense against Pawel Glazewski.

“It’s great to be fighting on the undercard of such a big show,’’ Price said. “I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring and reminding everyone what I’m all about. 2015 is going to be a big year for me. It’s important I get off to a good start on Feb. 21.”

Said promoter Kalle Sauerland: ‘’Next year is going to be David’s time to shine. It’s time to stand up and be counted. The heavyweight scene in the U.K. is flourishing at the moment, and it is still our belief that Pricey can beat anyone out there."

Price, 31, has won three bouts in a row since his stunning back-to-back upset knockout losses to Tony Thompson, of Washington, D.C., in 2013.

Herrera has experience on his side

December, 11, 2014
Dec 11
9:18
PM ET
Mauricio Herrera, Johan PerezAP Photo/Eric JamisonMauricio Herrera, left, will use his experience as an advantage against Joseph Benavidez Jr.

LAS VEGAS -- Although Mauricio Herrera came up short in his bid to claim the junior welterweight world title when he lost a close and highly controversial majority decision to Danny Garcia in March, the fight was still a positive for his career.

"The Danny Garcia fight changed my life,” Herrera said. “I finally have a promoter that is looking out for me, and all I have to do is train and get ready to fight."

Herrera fought so well against Garcia, and made such a good impression, that Golden Boy Promotions, which had signed him before the Garcia fight, made him a priority.

In his next fight in July, the company lined Herrera up to face interim titlist Johan Perez and he won a majority decision on the Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara undercard.

And now Herrera is set to make his first defense against up-and-comer Jose Benavidez Jr. on Saturday night (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT) at the Cosmopolitan in the opening bout of the triple-header headlined by the welterweight clash between Timothy Bradley Jr. and Diego Chaves.

“I’ve had a career with a lot of tough fights, and I know this is only a small belt, but I worked hard for it. It tells me I am on the way up in boxing,” Herrera said at Thursday’s final news conference. “Benavidez is a good, young, strong kid, and he wants to take this from me, but I worked to hard for it. So it’s a small belt, but I will defend it, and then, hopefully, I can win a world title.

“I'm not taking Benavidez lightly, but Saturday night I'm going to give a great fight and continue fighting for a world title. I'm getting tough fights and I'm happy.”

In 2011, Herrera (21-4, 7 KOs), 34, of Riverside, California, handed former junior welterweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov his first career loss. Herrera also went to war with Mike Alvarado in 2012 and lost a competitive decision in a fight-of-the-year candidate.

He has loads of experience, which is his advantage against the lanky 22-year-old Benavidez (21-0, 15 KOs) of Phoenix.

“Herrera is a tricky, dangerous fight,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Herrera’s promoter. “He can take you in to deep water, but he can swim.”

Said Herrera, “My experience will be a big advantage for this fight. He just has not fought at this level. He is young, and there is going to come a point in the fight where he will either step up or fold, and that's when we test his will.”

Benavidez was so good as an amateur that he was given a special permit by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to turn pro at age 17 instead of 18, as is the rule. He will be in his first scheduled 12-round bout and facing -- by far -- his most notable opponent. Benavidez has never even been in a scheduled 10-round fight before. Still, he has that youthful confidence.

"I heard Herrera was real mouthy [on Wednesday at the media workout], saying he would school me on Saturday night,” Benavidez said. “Let's see what he says when we get into the ring. I trained in Big Bear [California], which is no joke because of the altitude. We train as if we are going into a 15- or 20- round fight, which means I am in top condition."

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