Burns gets foe for 140-pound debut

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
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The Ricky Burns story at junior welterweight will begin against Leonardo Esteban Gonzalez on Oct. 4.

Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn announced on Thursday that Burns, a former lightweight and junior lightweight titlist, will face Gonzalez in his junior welterweight debut on a card at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, England.

[+] EnlargeRicky Burns, Raymundo Beltran
Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesRicky Burns, right, will look to get his career back on track with a move up to junior welterweight.
Scotland's Burns (36-4-1, 11 KOs), 31, is winless in his last three fights. He retained his belt with a questionable draw against Raymundo Beltran last September, then lost his belt by clear decision to Terence Crawford in March and then lost a split decision to Dejan Zlaticanin in June. At that point, Burns decided to move up in weight and Hearn scheduled him for Oct. 4.

"I believe that the move up in weight will really benefit me," Burns said. "The lightweight limit [of 135 pounds] was proving tougher to make in my last few fights so that's now behind me and I can concentrate on working on my boxing in the gym with [trainer] Tony Sims," Burns said. "It has been a tough year following the Raymundo Beltran fight but I'm feeling great in the gym and the fire and desire is still there to achieve big things. I'm looking to show in Leeds that I've still got the goods to challenge for major belts and ultimately, win another world title."

Gonzalez (22-5-1, 15 KOs), 32, of Argentina, has faced one recognizable opponent, former titlist Paulus Moses, who knocked him out in the seventh round in October 2013. In 2012, Burns outpointed Moses in a lightweight title defense.

Klitschko close to resume training

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
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Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko's biceps injury is on the mend and he is almost ready to return to training camp for his mandatory defense against Kubrat Pulev.

[+] EnlargeWladimir Klitschko
AP Photo/Frank AugsteinWladimir Klitschko, right, will defend his heavyweight titles on Nov. 15 against Kubrat Pulev in Germany.
They were due to meet on Sept. 6 at the O2 World arena in Hamburg, Germany, but Klitschko suffered a small tear in his left biceps during training camp and the fight was postponed until Nov. 15.

With Klitschko's healing on schedule, manager Bernd Boente told ESPN.com on Thursday that the champ will resume training in two weeks. He will put in two weeks of training in South Florida, where he lives, and then head to his usual camp in the mountains of Austria for the rest of camp.

"Wladimir is on schedule and he is feeling good," Boente said. "We're thankful it was not a more serious injury."

The timing of Klitschko's return to camp works out well. His trainer, heavyweight Johnathon Banks, fights Antonio Tarver on Sept. 29 in Hidalgo, Texas, so by the time Klitschko goes back into training, Banks' schedule will be clear of his own fight.

Klitschko (62-3, 53 KOs), 38, of Ukraine, will be making his 17th title defense. His 16 successful defenses during his second title reign are the third most in heavyweight history behind only Joe Louis (25) and Larry Holmes (20), and his eight-year-plus reign is second all-time to Louis' record 11 years, 8 months, 8 days.

Pulev (20-0, 11 KOs), 33, of Bulgaria, is the former European champion. He became the mandatory challenger in August 2013 with a unanimous decision against Tony Thompson, who had twice been knocked out by Klitschko in other mandatory title fights.

Cleverly-Bellew rematch on tap

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
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Nathan Cleverly (L) Tony BellewDean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty ImagesNathan Cleverly and Tony Belllew will continue their rivalry in a rematch at cruiserweight.
Once rivals Nathan Cleverly and Tony Bellew successfully navigated fights on the same July 12 card -- both winning by knockout - Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn got to work on their rematch.

Cleverly-Bellew II was supposed to take place on Dec. 6 in Sheffield, England -- on the undercard of newly crowned welterweight titlist Kell Brook's first defense. However, Brook suffered a stab wound and his fight has been cancelled. He won't return to action until next year, so Hearn is working on a new date and location for the much-anticipated Cleverly-Bellew rematch.

They first met in 2011 when Wales' Cleverly won a disputed majority decision over Bellew in his hometown of Liverpool, England to retain a version of the light heavyweight world title.

Both went on their separate paths after the fight but a rematch always figured to go down and will, now that they are campaigning as cruiserweights.

"We are almost there," Hearn said. "Having been originally set for Dec. 6, we are now finalizing a new date and venue and I hope to have the deal tied up this week. This is a wonderful fight -- two great fighters with a genuine rivalry that will keep fans on their toes in and outside the ring. I can't wait for this fight, and of course the build up."

Cleverly (28-1, 14 KOs), 27, wound up losing his light heavyweight title by one-sided fourth-round knockout to Sergey Kovalev 13 months ago and then moved up to cruiserweight, where he has won two fights in a row. He is anxious to fight Bellew again.

"I've always said I will fight him anytime anywhere," Cleverly said. "The result will be the same as before, a Nathan Cleverly victory. The only slight change this time is I doubt he will hear the final bell. I'm excited for the fight. It will capture the public's imagination and become a huge event. I'm looking forward to making it 2-0 and moving on to a shot at the title."

Bellew (22-2-1, 14 KOs), 31, got a second world title shot against Adonis Stevenson last November and got crushed in the sixth-round of a one-sided fight. Bellew then moved up to cruiserweight and has also won two in a row. Now he wants revenge against Cleverly.

"I don't just want to beat him, I want to finish him," Bellew said. "He won't want to get in the ring ever again after our fight. Putting the record straight means more to me than a world title. I'm going to put myself through hell in camp and picture his face during every moment. I cannot wait."

Contract comeback fight for Rodriguez

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
6:25
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When last seen in the ring, Edwin Rodriguez had the worst performance of his career.

[+] EnlargeRodriguez
Alexis Cuarezma/Getty ImagesEdwin Rodriguez will return as a light heavyweight on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin-Marco Antonio Rubio on Oct. 18.
It was last November, when Rodriguez was supposed to challenge super middleweight champion Andre Ward in an HBO main event. But first Rodriguez missed the 168-pound limit -- by two pounds -- and then looked positively horrible in losing a lopsided decision to Ward.

Rodriguez has not fought since, and neither has Ward, who is wrapped up in a never-ending battle with promoter Dan Goossen and wasting his best days.

But back to Rodriguez. As part of the deal Rodriguez got from HBO to fight Ward (for around $1 million!) he was given a contractually obligated comeback fight by HBO even if he lost. Now it's time for HBO to pay the piper.

Rodriguez, now fighting at light heavyweight, will appear on the Gennady Golovkin-Marco Antonio Rubio undercard on Oct. 18 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The fight, however, will not be part of HBO's "World Championship Boxing" telecast. Instead, it will air on HBO Latino, HBO's Spanish-language channel.

Rodriguez (24-1, 16 KOs), 29, of the Dominican Republic, who grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts, will face Azea Augustama (17-1, 9 KOs), 31, a native of Haiti based in South Florida. The one time Augustama faced a remotely notable opponent he lost an eight-round decision to Denis Grachev in 2011.

"This is his contract comeback fight. HBO wanted to put it on HBO Latino and we were OK with that," said Lou DiBella, Rodriguez's promoter. "Edwin is fighting at 175 now and we didn't want to fight a stooge. We wanted a solid guy to see where he is and to assess it pretty quickly. Augustama is a guy we can do that with. I don't think this is a walk-in-the-park kind of fight."

Tarver Jr. to fight on his father's card

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
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While heavyweights Antonio Tarver (30-6, 21 KOs) and Johnathon Banks (29-2-1, 19 KOs), both in need of an impressive performance to keep their flickering prospects of a major fight alive, square off in a 10-round bout in the main event of a “Golden Boy Live” card on Sept. 29 (Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes) at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas, the undercard will feature a couple of fighters who could provide a glimpse of the future.

Junior featherweight Joseph Diaz (11-0, 7 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian and crowd-pleasing prospect, will meet Mexico's Raul Hidalgo (21-11, 16 KOs) in the scheduled 10-round co-feature, Golden Boy Promotions announced on Wednesday.

In another undercard bout, although one not scheduled for the telecast, 26-year-old Antonio Tarver Jr., who had already been announced as being on the card, will make his professional debut against Zachary Briones (1-1, 1 KO) in a four-round middleweight bout.

"This is a blessing," Tarver Jr. said. "I've always wanted to fight. This just happens to be on the same fight card as my father. My father came from nothing and he's always persevered. Everything has worked out wonderfully. I grew up in Daytona Beach [Florida], playing basketball and football, but I've known fighters who were on the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team with my father -- Floyd Mayweather Jr., Nate Jones and others -- since I was a little kid. I was always with my father at his fights and in the gym, but he never let me fight. Boxing is in my blood, though, and I finally started boxing after I hurt my ankle playing basketball. I was 19 and weighed around 200 pounds.

“I was in Tampa with my father and went to the West Tampa Boxing Gym, the old Legends, to get some help because my father said I had to lose weight before I could fight. It took me six months because of my ankle to get down to 180. I didn't have my first amateur fight until I was 20. I finished with an 11-1 record as an amateur and now I'm just trying to catch up. I'm getting my feet as fast as my hands. Nobody is tougher than me.”

Father and son are both being trained by Orlando Cuellar, who trained Glen Johnson for his two fights against Tarver Sr.

"This is the first time I've trained a father and his son, but I don't look at it that way. They are two fighters with separate needs,” Cuellar said. “It does blow my mind when I think about it outside the gym. ... Junior is a very promising prospect who likes to mix it up and let his punches fly. His father, of course, has a lot more experience. He's a tactical fighter who plays mind games inside the ring with his opponent. He's a very intelligent fighter."

Rios-Alvarado III possible

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
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Mike Alvarado and Rusian ProvodnikovJosh Hedges/Getty ImagesBrandon Rios and Mike Alvarado could face for a third time next year.
A few notes from the boxing world:

• Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado are 1-1 in their two hellacious fight of the year contenders. A rubber match to settle the score is a must, and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com that he hopes to make the fight for early 2015.

“We’re talking about it, maybe in January, on HBO,” Arum said.

In October 2012, Rios (32-2-1, 23 KOs) stopped Alvarado in the seventh round of a brutal junior welterweight slugfest and then dropped a close, unanimous decision in the immediate and equally brutal rematch for a vacant interim title in March 2013. Rios went on to lose a decision to Manny Pacquiao at welterweight and then scored a ninth-round disqualification victory against Diego Chaves on Aug. 2.

Alvarado (34-3, 23 KOs) has lost two in a row since beating Rios in the rematch. Having been elevated to a full titleholder, Alvarado lost the belt in his first defense, getting stopped in front of his hometown Denver crowd by Ruslan Provodnikov in October and then losing a unanimous decision to Juan Manuel Marquez in May.

• The heavyweight rematch between former world title challenger Tony Thompson and Odlanier Solis will take place Oct. 18 in Düsseldorf, Germany, promoter Ahmet Oner announced Tuesday. When they first met March 22 in Oner’s native Turkey, Thompson pulled an upset, winning a split decision. Thompson (39-5, 26 KOs), 42, of Washington, D.C., who has twice been knocked out challenging world champion Wladimir Klitschko, lost his next fight in France to contender Carlos Takam. Solis, 34, the former Cuban Olympic gold medalist now living in Miami, has not fought since the defeat. He was stopped in the first round (knee injury) challenging then-titleholder Vitali Klitschko in 2011.

• Long-faded former welterweight and junior middleweight titleholder Ricardo Mayorga (29-8-1, 23 KOs), 40, of Nicaragua, who has not boxed since suffering an 12th-round knockout loss to Miguel Cotto challenging for his junior middleweight world title in 2011, will face Allen Medina (9-23-1, 1 KO), 36, of Denver, in an eight-round middleweight fight, Epic Sports and Entertainment promoter Ivaylo Gotzev announced. The fight is on a Sept. 27 card at the OKC Downtown Airpark in Oklahoma City that also includes former heavyweight titlist Samuel Peter (34-5, 27 KOs), 34, coming off a 3½-year layoff, and 43-year-old faded former junior middleweight titleholder Luis Ramon “Yory Boy” Campas (102-17-3, 79 KOs) in other eight-round bouts. Peter faces club fighter and former minor league hockey enforcer Ron Aubrey (12-3-1, 12 KOs), and Campas faces Nicaragua native Julio Cesar Lanzas (8-19-6, 1 KO) of Colorado Springs, Colorado, in a middleweight contest.

'Mayhem' media center fertile for news

September, 13, 2014
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LAS VEGAS -- Here are a few pieces of news I picked up this week while roaming the "Mayhem" media center while covering Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana II at the MGM Grand:

• I ran into interim welterweight titlist Keith Thurman (23-0, 21 KOs), who is here for the fight, and he told me that his planned October return has been pushed back until November to give his injured shoulder more time to heal. Thurman said his shoulder is OK and he has been rehabbing it but the change was "just to be on the safe side. There's no reason to hurry."

• I also caught up with former three-division titlist Abner Mares (27-1-1, 14 KOs) in the media center and he said that promoter Golden Boy and adviser Al Haymon are planning his return for November or December. He said he heard that interim featherweight titlist Jesus Cuellar called him out after knocking out Juan Manuel Lopez in the second round on Thursday night in Las Vegas and that he would be interested in the fight. Mares lost his featherweight belt by first-round knockout to Jhonny Gonzalez in a major upset 13 months ago and returned in July to outpoint Jonathan Oquendo.

• Former Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer has been at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas all week for Mayweather-Maidana II, but he is keeping a very low profile. He quit Golden Boy in June after a falling out with president Oscar De La Hoya, who filed a $50 million arbitration case against him. The case is ongoing. So while Schaefer is at the venue where his old company will co-promote the fight, he is on site because he is close to Mayweather and because one of his sons is working for Mayweather Promotions on the event.

• Junior featherweight Jorge Lara (25-0-1, 17 KOs), a 23-year-old southpaw from Mexico, has signed with adviser Al Haymon, according to Sampson Lewkowicz, Lara's promoter. Haymon now handles around 120 fighters.

Martinez close to decision on future

September, 13, 2014
Sep 13
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Miguel CottoChris Farina/Top RankSergio Martinez will have his injured right knee looked at by a surgeon next week in New York.
LAS VEGAS -- Former middleweight champion Sergio Martinez is in town and at the MGM Grand to enjoy the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana rematch Saturday night before heading off to take care of serious business.

Martinez will fly to New York to pay a visit to Dr. Answorth Allen, the orthopedic surgeon for the New York Knicks, to have his right leg examined Tuesday.

Martinez's knee has been a problem since he injured it in a win against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in September 2012 and had surgery. He reinjured it in his next fight, a win against Martin Murray in April 2013. Martinez returned too quickly from surgery and was out of the ring for 14 months before facing Miguel Cotto in June and getting knocked out in the 10th round after being knocked down four times.

Although Martinez did not blame the knee for the defeat, it was clear that he was not 100 percent physically. Martinez, who turns 40 in February, said he wants to continue his career but would wait to hear what the doctor said about the condition of his knee.

"The first thing I want to hear from the doctor is that my leg is going to be good enough that I can live a normal life and that I can have a normal leg like a normal person," Martinez said Friday through translator Nathan Lewkowicz, the son of Martinez adviser Sampson Lewkowicz. "I still have some pain I feel in my right leg. But if the doctor says I'm 100 percent, or I will be 100 percent, then I will continue. If he doesn't say that then I won't fight anymore. I don't need to fight because my health is very important to me."

Martinez (51-3-2, 28 KOs) made an announcement during the summer that he planned to continue fighting, but he knew he had to see the doctor first.

"When I said I wanted to return to fight, I don't know if it was me saying it or my ego," Martinez said. "That's why I'm going to let someone who knows what they're talking about, like the doctor, make that decision for me."

Martinez still clearly has the fighting spirit that made him a great champion during his 2010-14 reign that covered six successful defenses against quality opposition and garnered him 2010 fighter of the year honors and the author of the 2010 knockout of the year (in his rematch with Paul Williams).

"I have 20 years of boxing, [almost] 40 years of age. I know what my body can do and what it can't do," Martinez said. "I want to fight the best, and I want to be the best, but I understand I am [almost] 40 and that I can't beat the same people I could beat when I was [younger]. It's very difficult to fight with your own ego. But it was [my] own ego that brought me to the level I was in boxing. Without my ego, I couldn't have been a world champion."

GGG taking SoCal by storm

September, 13, 2014
Sep 13
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A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin’s West Coast debut is already a hit. Due to overwhelming ticket demand, K2 Promotions is putting $27 standing room only tickets on sale for Golovkin’s defense Oct. 8 (HBO) at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

“In the first two weeks, we've sold over 75 percent of the available tickets to [the card dubbed] ‘Mexican Style,’ which truly validates the popularity of Gennady on the West Coast,” Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions said. “This speaks to Gennady’s growing global brand, as he is willing to fight in locations around the world unlike many champions who only fight in one city or one state. We’re happy to announce the unprecedented addition of standing room only tickets in order to meet the demand from boxing fans for this event.”

• Former junior middleweight titlist Sergio Mora announced on his Twitter page that he has signed with adviser Al Haymon. Mora (26-3-2, 9 KOs), 33, of East Los Angeles, has won three fights in a row, including his past two by knockout. His signing with Haymon harkens back to Haymon’s start in boxing. His first client was the late Vernon Forrest, whom Mora outpointed to win a junior middleweight belt in 2008. Three months later, Forrest outpointed Mora in the rematch to reclaim the title in what was Forrest's final fight, as 10 months later, he was murdered. Mora and Haymon were on opposite sides then, and now they are together. Mora will continue to be promoted by Lou DiBella, who has a longstanding business relationship with Haymon.

• Bantamweight titlist Shinsuke Yamanaka (21-0-2, 16 KOs) of Japan will face mandatory challenger (and former junior bantamweight titlist) Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (37-5-1, 16 KOs) of Thailand on Oct. 22 in Tokyo. Yamanaka, a southpaw, will be making his seventh defense. A lightweight undercard bout will pit former featherweight and junior lightweight titlist Takahiro Ao (26-3-1, 12 KOs) of Japan, and former junior lightweight titlist Juan Carlos Salgado (26-3-1, 16 KOs) of Mexico.
LAS VEGAS -- When Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya paid a visit a couple of months ago to the Los Angeles home of Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, it was to put the years of animosity behind them, not to talk any specific business.

After all, for many years they had been a great team. Between De La Hoya's work in the ring and Arum's brilliant promotion of him they made hundreds of millions of dollars together and tons of big fights.

[+] EnlargeBob Arum, Oscar De La Hoya
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesAfter years of division between them, promoters Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya are looking to potentially work together.
But the relationship ultimately went south, De La Hoya went out on his own, and the Top Rank-Golden Boy so-called cold war raged. It had a detrimental impact on boxing over the past several years because the companies refused to match their fighters against other, depriving fans of numerous fights we all wanted to see.

When De La Hoya decided he wanted to make amends and open the door to working together, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer was adamantly against it. He didn't trust Arum and didn't like him either. It was a major bone of contention between De La Hoya and Schaefer and one of the many reasons Schaefer resigned from Golden Boy in an acrimonious split in early June.

With Schaefer gone, De La Hoya reached out to Arum for the initial meeting, which went well as they reminisced about the many good times they had together.

On Thursday, things turned more serious as De La Hoya -- in Las Vegas because Golden Boy is co-promoting Saturday night's Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana rematch at the MGM Grand -- paid a visit to Top Rank's offices and met with Arum and Top Rank president Todd duBoef, Arum's stepson.

Unlike the meeting to bury the hatchet, this one was about business, their first in many years.

"It was a good meeting," De La Hoya told ESPN.com inside the media center at the MGM Grand on Friday. "[We are] just basically opening the doors to working together, to possibly making fights that are worth watching."

So, any fights in particular?

"Well, obviously Canelo came up," De La Hoya said of Canelo Alvarez, Golden Boy's biggest star, whose eventual showdown with middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, who is aligned with Top Rank, seems inevitable and is boxing's biggest fight not involving Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. "I told Bob that I'm gonna sit down with Canelo next week. He's flying to L.A. and I'm going to sit down with him. So I have no news there. But we talked about Mikey Garcia, we talked about other fighters. We were just talking boxing. We talked about Abner Mares, various fighters and fights that we could possibly make."

De La Hoya said there are plenty of fan-friendly matches the companies can make with each other and that he is hopeful they will be able to do them. Since De La Hoya has taken over the day-to-day operations of Golden Boy in the wake of Schaefer's resignation, he has preached that the only important thing to him in boxing is to make the best fights for the fans. He can now make it more than just talk -- as long as Arum is up for it also. Arum has said multiple times that he is also willing.

"The way it ended was I told Bob, 'I'll give you a call next week,'" De La Hoya said. "We're gonna see what happens this weekend, we'll see what Canelo wants and then we'll talk.

"There was no dialogue before, so the fact that we are having dialogue, the fact that the doors are open, we're on the right path."

Victor Ortiz planning November return

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
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Former welterweight titlist Victor Ortiz, who has been knocked out in his past three fights, plans to return to the ring.

Ortiz (29-5-2, 22 KOs), 27, of Oxnard, California, wrote Thursday on his Instagram page that he will be back in the ring before the end of the year.

He wrote, "Heads up, I'm back in the ring on first week of November! I'm stoked about it! Thought it would be late October but apparently as of today Coach Joel Diaz stated to me first week of November ... thank you for the support!!!"

Since outpointing Andre Berto to win a world title in April 2011 in a fight of the year candidate, Ortiz is winless. Floyd Mayweather knocked him out in the fourth round of his first defense later in 2011. In 2012, he suffered a massive upset -- a ninth-round knockout loss to Josesito Lopez, who badly broke his jaw. Ortiz, recovering from jaw surgery, didn’t fight again until January, when he got knocked out in the second round by former titlist Luis Collazo.

He has spent much of his time away from the ring partaking in other activities. For example, he was a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars" and is one of the stars of the film "The Expendables 3."

Whom Ortiz will fight and when specifically he will fight is unclear.

Bute to train with Roach

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
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Former super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute has lost two of his last three fights and he was uncertain if he would continue his career.

He lost his super middleweight belt by fifth-round knockout to Carl Froch in May 2012, rebounded six months later for 12-round decision win against Denis Grachev in a much harder than expected fight and then moved up to light heavyweight and got taken to school by former champion Jean Pascal in the biggest fight in Montreal history in January.

On Thursday, Bute (31-2, 24 KOs), 34, southpaw, said at a news conference in Montreal that he would continue his career and do so under the guidance of Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach following a trip to his Hollywood, California gym a few weeks ago.

Bute, Quebec’s most popular fighter, is due to return against an opponent to be determined on Dec 6 at the Bell Centre.

“It's an honor for me to benefit from the advice of a renowned trainer,” Bute said. “I have the intention to give everything I have to come back strong in the ring for my fans and the boxing supporters."

In order to have Roach train him, Bute said he has agreed to work with him at Manny Pacquiao’s training in the Philippines, where Roach is training him for his welterweight title defense against Chris Algieri on Nov. 22 in Macau, China.

"Knowing that after a few months of research, the answers were positive for Lucian, and with all the talent that we know he has, Roach seems like the man for the situation,” said Jean Bedard of InterBox, Bute’s promoter. “I am more than enthusiast when I look at his future. He still has excellent years in front of him.”

Cunningham back in action Oct. 18

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
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Heavyweight Steve Cunningham will face Natu Visinia in a 10-round fight on Oct. 18 (NBC Sports Net) at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Main Events announced on Thursday.

Cunningham (27-6, 12 KOs), 38, is coming off a 10-round decision win against previously unbeaten Amir Mansour in a terrific brawl in April, also in Philadelphia, Cunningham’s hometown.

"This is the third undefeated heavyweight that I am facing and he has more career heavyweight fights than I do," said Cunningham, a former cruiserweight titlist, whose last five fights have been at heavyweight. “I have fought more undefeated heavyweight fighters than some heavyweights fight in their entire career. I am up for the challenge. It is always a challenge fighting a young untested fighter, but a job has to be done. We are going to do the job, get this victory and be impressive."

Visinia (10-0, 8 K0s), 28, of Lakewood, California, may be undefeated, but his previous opponents have been extremely low level fighters. Their combined record when he faced them: 22-22 and seven were either .500 or worse.

"I am extremely excited for the opportunity to fight former cruiserweight champ Steve Cunningham. As much as I admire his experience and accomplishments in the sport, I do not intend on leaving Philly without the win,” Visinia said.

Lightweights Edner Cherry (32-6-2,17 KOs), 32, of Wauchula, Florida, and Jerry Belmontes (19-5, 5 KOs), 25, of Corpus Christi, Texas, who has won two fights in a row and four of his last five, meet in the 10-round co-feature.
Junior middleweight slugger James Kirkland, who has fought just one time in each of the past two years, is seemingly ready for his annual ring appearance.

Kirkland is the leading candidate to be featured in the HBO-televised co-feature of the Bernard Hopkins-Sergey Kovalev light heavyweight unification fight on Nov. 8 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs), a 30-year-old southpaw from Austin, Texas, and one of boxing roughest sluggers, has not fought since last December. In that HBO fight, he stopped Glenn Tapia in the sixth round of a slugfest.

HBO has tried multiple times throughout the year to work out a deal with Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Kirkland's promoter, to get Kirkland back on the air, but coming to terms has been very difficult because Kirkland has turned down several offers.

Two of the names that have come up as a possible Kirkland opponents are the crowd-pleasing Javier Maciel (29-3, 20 KOs) of Argentina and former junior middleweight world titleholder Zauerbek Baysangurov (29-1, 21 KOs) of Russia.

Kirkland's camp told ESPN.com he is out of the running to face Canelo Alvarez in December. He had been one of three candidates mentioned by Alvarez promoter Oscar De La Hoya. But Kirkland's camp views a possible fight with Alvarez as a pay-per-view fight, and Alvarez's next fight will be on premium cable (HBO or Showtime, which has not been decided yet).

Another fighter De La Hoya mentioned was junior middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade, but that is highly unlikely, even before Andrade was approved to face Matt Korobov for a vacant middleweight belt. That leaves the likely Alvarez opponent as former welterweight titlist Joshua Clottey, who is -- by far -- the weakest and least interesting of the three names De La Hoya mentioned.

Why Maidana got the rematch

September, 10, 2014
Sep 10
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LAS VEGAS -- Only once before has Floyd Mayweather Jr. had a rematch, and that was way back in 2002 in a sequel with Jose Luis Castillo for the lightweight championship eight months after Mayweather won the title by close unanimous decision in a fight many thought should have gone Castillo’s way.

Mayweather won the rematch much easier than the first fight.

Now, Mayweather is set for another rematch when he defends his welterweight championship (and junior middleweight title) against Marcos Maidana, the man Mayweather defeated by majority decision in May to unify 147-pound titles, on Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 8 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Mayweather said that he thought he beat Maidana 9-3 in rounds the first time around, which is competitive by Mayweather standards, especially because whatever rounds Maidana did win mostly came early on before Mayweather seemed to figure him out. So the fight was very much in doubt at the halfway mark.

“The fight is not close, but he came out, he won the first round, I won the second round, he won the third and the fourth, and from the fifth on he lost every round,” Mayweather said. “So, like I said before, I'm going to go out there and I guess get a knockout [or] win 12 rounds, and look impressive, but also be exciting.”

He said he decided to fight Maidana again because fans wanted to see the fight, although there was not exactly a huge demand from the public for a sequel.

“They like to see excitement. Why not do it again? Maidana is a hard worker who is coming to fight,” he said. “My job is to be patient and smart and to entertain.”

Maidana said he believes Mayweather took the rematch for one reason.

“It was a close fight. He probably wants to prove a point,” Maidana said through a translator. “He wants to demonstrate that he can beat me outright. It doesn't really matter. What matters is that the rematch is happening, and I'm very happy.”

Robert Garcia, Maidana’s trainer, believes Mayweather took the rematch because he had nobody else to fight that was a bigger event -- and don’t even say Manny Pacquiao, because we’ve all been down that road. Amir Khan, another possibility, had taken himself out of consideration because he observes Ramadan and would not be available for a September fight.

“I truly believe that he had no other options. He was forced to give us a rematch,” Garcia said. “He was forced to fight Maidana. There were no other names out there that he could've fought in September that would make sense. A rematch with Maidana is the only fight that makes sense to sell pay-per-views to please the fans, and he had no other options. That's what I think.”

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