Hopkins-Kovalev media picks

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
Hopkins-Kovalev Jeff Fusco/Hoganphotos/Golden BoyDespite closing in on 50, Bernard Hopkins is a slight favorite to beat Sergey Kovalev in a media poll.
The Bernard Hopkins-Sergey Kovalev light heavyweight unification fight, which takes place Nov. 8 (HBO) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is unquestionably one of the biggest matches of the year.

There is a very diverse opinion among media members on who will win the fight: the 49-year-old living legend Hopkins or the gargantuan-punching, 31-year-old Kovalev, who has been destroying opponents fight after fight. As the fight approaches, 23 media members were asked for their picks for inclusion in the fight-night program that will be for sale at the arena and SPBoxing.com.

For all of those who think Hopkins is a big underdog, think again. According to the poll taken, he edged Kovalev 12-11 in the media poll.

Here's a sampling of some of the picks:

• Dan Rafael (ESPN.com): Hopkins has been in this exact position many times, and pulled an upset. I've learned my lesson. It's a tough fight, but Hopkins' ring intelligence, experience and chin trump a Kovalev whose opponents have not been much to write home about. Hopkins W12.

• Bob Velin (USA Today): Kovalev might be the hardest puncher Hopkins has faced, and there is no doubt Hopkins is the smartest boxer Kovalev has faced. That should make for a fascinating matchup. Hopkins is older than old for a fighter, but is probably in better shape than the Russian destroyer, and has avoided damaging punishment. That said, I don't think he will escape Kovalev's ample power and Kovalev will not lose patience like so many of Hopkins' most recent victims. Kovalev KO10.

• Dave Weinberg (Atlantic City Press): Hopkins will frustrate and confuse Kovalev for the first few rounds, but Kovalev's power will eventually be the difference. Kovalev late KO.

• George Willis (New York Post): Hopkins has proved me wrong plenty of times. He hasn't had too much trouble with punchers. He beat Trinidad and ruined Pavlik. He'll have to prove me wrong again. Kovalev KO10.

• Mitch Abramson (New York Daily News): Hopkins is just too crafty, too smart and still possesses the necessary athleticism to beat a top fighter. Insane that a near 50 year old can win? No it's not. Hopkins W12.

• Ron Borges (Boston Herald): Hopkins will do what he does best. He'll mystify Kovalev into a fog of inaction and find a way to outpoint him. Hopkins W12.

• Graham Houston (British Boxing Monthly): I think Kovalev will out-work
Hopkins; don't think he will try to blast out the old ring general. Kovalev W12.

• Lem Satterfield (RingTV.com): Hopkins will be completely relaxed in this fight. He once told me that Kovalev is the virtual mirror image of Pavlik. However, I don't think that this will be as easy, but I do believe that he'll find a way to be victorious. Hopkins W12.

• Robert Morales (Los Angeles Daily News): I rarely go against Hopkins because of his defense and trickery, but have to go with Kovalev in this one because he'll be unfazed by the stuff that lulls others to sleep when they are in with Hopkins. Kovalev late KO.

• Jake Kaplan (Philadelphia Daily News): The ageless Hopkins will defy the odds again -- against an opponent young enough to be his son. Like many opponents before him, Kovalev will have trouble handling Hopkins' mind games before and during the fight. Hopkins W12.

• Tim Struby (ESPN The Magazine): Once again, Hopkins will defy conventional thought. He'll stay out of range, trash talk, hold and frustrate Kovalev. Hopkins will also pick precise spots to stick and move; it won't be pretty. Hopkins W12.
Australian lightweight Michael Katsidis, who has been in several thrilling brawls and is one of boxing's most revered action fighters of the past decade, said he is ready to bring the heat when he faces England's Tommy Coyle on Saturday at the Ice Arena in Hull, England.

"I'm here to prove that I still have plenty left to offer, and there will be no questioning my future after Hull," Katsidis said. "I've been over here for a while, settling in, getting comfortable in his backyard and ready to perform at my best on the night. I don't know much about Tommy, but I know that he is in for a tough night."

[+] EnlargeMichael Katsidis
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesAll-action lightweight Michael Katsidis, left, is looking to spoil a potential showdown between Tommy Coyle and Luke Campbell.
Katsidis (30-6, 24 KOs), 34, has been in many tough fights, and after losing four out of five bouts, he retired in 2012. But after two years away from the ring, he returned in March and has won two fights in a row, albeit against lower level opposition in Australia, including a rematch with England's Graham Earl in July.

Katsidis-Earl I, which took place in England in 2007, was one of the wildest fights of the decade, which Katsidis won by fifth-round knockout.

Coyle (19-2, 8 KOs), 25, will be fighting in his hometown and has begun to develop his reputation as an all-action fighter in the wake of his absolutely epic battle with Daniel Brizuela in February. Coyle stopped him in the 12th round, but not until each man had been knocked down four times in a blazing fight of the year candidate.

Katsidis knows he could be in for another hard fight and said he is ready.

"I love boxing, and this is what I do," he said. "This isn't a job for me; this is love."

In the co-feature, 2012 Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell (8-0, 6 KOs), also from Hull, meets Brizuela (26-3-2, 8 KOs).

Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has said that, if Coyle and Campbell both keep winning, it could lead to a showdown next summer. They are both up for it.

"We both have tough fights on Saturday, but if we keep winning, then we can be looking at a massive outdoor show at the KC Stadium, which will be great for boxing fans and for the people of Hull," Campbell said. "Tommy and I have been friends for a long time. We've known each other for over a decade, we trained together as kids, but this is the sport we're in. It's the entertainment business, and we can put our friendship to one side for a night to put on a great show for the fans. I am going to stay unbeaten, that's for sure, so if Tommy can do the same we'll be ready for a big one."

Said Coyle: "We're pals and we've traveled the world together as amateurs, but I am not daft. Eddie promotes us both, and it makes sense to put us in the ring together. First and foremost, it's Katsidis. The fight with Luke excites me very, very much. Luke is a good friend of mine. I have a lot of respect for him and his success in the Olympics.

"I'd be confident of beating him. He has not been in there with someone like me but it would be a very good fight, and we both have hard fights to take care of this weekend first."
Chris Arreola Courtesy of Goossen Tutor PromotionsFresh off a title loss, Chris Arreola could be in line to headline an ESPN2 card in December.
A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Heavyweight contender Chris Arreola (35-4, 31 KOs) could return Dec. 11 on an ESPN2 boxing special in honor of his late promoter, Dan Goossen. The network is working through possibilities for the card, which Arreola would headline if a deal is finalized. It is slated to take place at the Pechanga Resort in Temecula, California. In Arreola's last fight, he challenged for a vacant world title and was stopped in the sixth round by Bermane Stiverne in their rematch. Former junior middleweight titlist Austin Trout (27-2, 14 KOs) could also appear on the card. Trout outpointed Daniel Dawson on Aug. 22 in the season finale of "Friday Night Fights" to rebound from back-to-back decision losses in 2013 to Canelo Alvarez (in a title unification fight) and Erislandy Lara (in an interim title bout).

• Colombia's Darleys Perez (30-1, 19 KOs), whose lone defeat was a decision to Yuriorkis Gamboa in a 2013 interim lightweight title bout, claimed that interim belt two fights later in June and is set to make his first defense. He will face countryman Jaider Parra (23-1-1, 12 KOs) on Friday at the Coliseo Universidad Del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia. Perez realizes that he is not a full titleholder and aims to defeat Parra and then challenge the full titlist Richar Abril.

"This is simply another step I need to take to fulfill my goal of becoming an outright world champion," Perez said. "I've been focused since Day 1 of training camp and look forward to winning in front of my hometown fans. I know Parra will come out swinging, but I won't let that affect my game plan."

• Welterweight Karim Mayfield (18-2-1, 11 KOs), 33, makes his return Nov. 8 at the Longshoreman's Hall in his hometown of San Francisco in a scheduled eight-round bout against Michael Balasi (10-5, 7 KOs) of Hawaii. Mayfield is looking to shake a two-fight losing streak, both 10-round decision losses. In March, Mayfield got a shot on HBO and lost to Thomas Dulorme. In July, he lost to Emmanuel Taylor on ESPN2.

"Man, I've been working real hard in the gym and I'm just trying to get back in the win column," Mayfield said. "I had a couple of setbacks in my last two fights but I've had time to rethink the situation and now I feel I'm ready to go on another run. I know I have some fight left in me and I'm going to bring it on Nov. 8 in front of my hometown fans."

• Welterweight prospect Dusty Hernandez-Harrison (23-0, 12 KOs), who was scheduled to fight Hector Munoz (23-13-1, 15 KOs) on Sept. 27 in his hometown of Washington, D.C., but had to postpone the fight because of an ankle injury, has been rescheduled to fight Michael Clark on Nov. 1. The fight will take place at Constitution Hall in Washington. Clark (44-11-1, 18 KOs) is a very poor opponent. He has been knocked out in three straight fights and four of his last five, including twice in the first round and twice in the fifth round. He also has shown very little effort in some recent fights.
Randy Caballero earned his shot at a world title by going overseas and he'll also have to win it overseas.

Caballero (21-0, 13 KOs) will challenge England's Stuart Hall (16-3-2, 7 KOs) for a vacant bantamweight world title at the Salle des etoiles in Monte Carlo on Saturday (ESPN3, 1 p.m. ET).

Caballero, of Coachella, California, has fought 18 of his 21 professional fights in Southern California, mostly in Indio, but had no qualms about going to Japan in April for a world title elimination bout. He knocked out Kohei Oba in the eighth round of a very impressive performance in Kobe to become the mandatory challenger for the 118-pound title.

And now he will be fighting for the belt on the other side of the globe in Monaco.

"This is the moment every fighter dreams of, and I would have gone anywhere to fight for that title," the 24-year-old Caballero said. "Stuart Hall is a former world champion, he's hungry to get that title back, but he's not hungrier than me. I've worked harder than anyone for years, and this is my time."

The fight wound up in Monte Carlo because Dennis Hobson, Hall's promoter, beat Caballero promoter Golden Boy in a purse bid, allowing him to control the site of the fight. He made a deal with South Africa's Rodney Berman to put it on his card in Monte Carlo.

Hobson won the rights to the fight with a bid of $261,750 to Golden Boy's $127,000. For a vacant belt the split is 50-50, meaning Caballero will earn a career-high $130,875.

"Every boxer dreams of becoming a world champion, but only those who work hard and are willing to go the extra mile -- like traveling half way around the world to fight for a title -- will persevere," Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya said. "Golden Boy Promotions is committed to putting on the best fights possible for fans all over the world, and I fully expect 'El Matador' and Stuart Hall to deliver on that promise."

England's Paul Butler won a split decision against the 34-year-old Hall on June 7 to claim the 118-pound title, but rather than defend it he vacated to move down in weight, leaving Caballero and Hall as the leading available contenders to vie for the vacant belt.

British middleweight contender Martin Murray (28-1-1, 12 KOs) headlines the card against Italy's Domenico Spada (39-5, 19 KOs) in a 12-rounder. If Murray wins, he could challenge world titleholder Gennady Golovkin, who will be ringside, in February in Monte Carlo.

The rest of the card will also be part of the ESPN3 stream:

• Strawweight titlist Hekkie Budler (26-1, 9 KOs) of South Africa will make his second defense against former world titleholder Xiong Zhao Zhong (24-5-1, 14 KOs) of China.

• Light heavyweight prospect Eleider Alvarez (15-0, 8 KOs), a Colombia native living in Montreal, will square off with South Africa's Ryno Liebenberg (16-0, 11 KOs) in a 12-round bout.

• British middleweight Nick Blackwell (15-3, 6 KOs) will face Belarus' Sergey Khomitsky (29-11-2, 12 KO) in a six-rounder.
A few notes from around the boxing world:

•  Flyweight world champion Roman Gonzalez (40-0, 34 KOs), who won an alphabet title and the lineal championship via his ninth-round knockout of Japan’s Akira Yaegashi on Sept. 5 in Tokyo, is returning to Japan to make his first defense against the Philippines’ Rocky Fuentes (35-7-2, 20 KOs) on Nov. 22 in Kanagawa. The fight is on the undercard of junior lightweight titlist Takashi Miura (27-2-2, 20 KOs) of Japan defending against Mexico’s Edgar Puerta (23-4-1, 19 KOs). Teiken Boxing, which promotes Gonzalez, announced the card Monday.

A former strawweight and junior flyweight titleholder, Gonzalez, 27, of Nicaragua, likely will face unified flyweight titlist Juan Francisco Estrada in the first half of 2015 in a rematch of Gonzalez’s decision victory in a fantastic junior flyweight title fight in 2012. But first Gonzalez needs to beat Fuentes, 28, who lost his last fight by decision challenging flyweight titlist Amnat Ruenroeng in Thailand in January.

•  Junior middleweight John Jackson (18-2, 15 KOs), one of the fighting sons of former middleweight and junior middleweight titleholder Julian Jackson, had it rough in his last fight in June on the Miguel Cotto-Sergio Martinez undercard. After knocking Andy Lee down hard in the first round, nearly knocking him out and dominating the fight, Lee knocked Jackson out cold with a Hail Mary right hand in the fifth round. Now Jackson, 25, of the U.S. Virgin Islands, is scheduled for his ring return, which will be Nov. 15 in Cordoba, Argentina, against Carlos Adan Jerez (40-17-3, 18 KOs). Besides looking to rebound from the loss, Jackson is also seeking a bit of family revenge. Jerez handed Samuel Rogers, Jackson’s cousin, his first loss.

"John knows he got careless against Lee," said Sampson Lewkowicz, Jackson’s promoter. “He knows what he did wrong and paid a heavy price for it. He was beating Andy Lee all over the ring and forgot about his defense. It's something that will never happen again."

•  Some of Golden Boy’s best prospects will be in action on the Nov. 13 edition of “Golden Boy Live” (10 p.m. ET, Fox Spots 1/Fox Deportes) at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. Junior featherweight Joseph Diaz Jr. (12-0, 8 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian, headlines the card; junior featherweight Diego De La Hoya (7-0, 5 KOs), Oscar De La Hoya’s first cousin, is in the co-feature; and featherweight Julian Ramirez (12-0, 7 KOs), a nephew of the late former junior lightweight champion Genaro Hernandez, and Chinese heavyweight Taishan Dong (1-0, 1 KO) also are scheduled to appear. All will face opponents to be determined.

•  Japan’s Takashi Uchiyama (21-0-1, 17 KOs), 34, will seek his ninth successful defense when he faces Israel Perez (27-2-1, 16 KOs), 35, of Argentina on Dec. 31 in Tokyo. Uchiyama has not fought since last New Year’s Eve. Perez will be fighting for a world title for the first time. "I have experience. I am in shape and I am very much aware that I am going to bring the championship home,” Perez said. “I will not disappoint and will make my dream of becoming champion of the world a reality. Uchiyama is a good boxer, but not unbeatable.”

Martin Murray card live on ESPN3

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
As soon as Gennady Golovkin finished his second-round annihilation of Marco Antonio Rubio on Saturday night, the discussion turned to who would be his next opponent when he returns to action in February in Monte Carlo, where has fought twice before.

Tom Loeffler, his promoter at K2, said GGG’s ideal opponent for his next fight -- unless one of the really big names steps up, which they likely won’t -- would be longtime middleweight contender Martin Murray of England, who gave then-champion Sergio Martinez a tough night in Argentina in a close decision loss in 2013 and held then-titlist Felix Sturm to a debatable draw in Germany in 2011.

Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) will be ringside at the Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo on Saturday, when Murray (28-1-1, 12 KOs), winner of three in a row since the loss to Martinez, headlines a card against Italy’s Domenico Spada (39-5, 19 KOs), who is two fights removed from being knocked out by Rubio in an interim title bout. It will be Murray’s second fight in a row in Monte Carlo, and GGG will be there checking him out the man who might be his next opponent.

American fight fans can check out the fight -- and the entire card -- via live stream on ESPN3.com after ESPN acquired the American rights on Tuesday.

The stream begins at 1 p.m. ET and will include five fights. Also on the card:

• Coachella, California’s Randy Caballero (21-0, 13 KOs) will face England’s Stuart Hall (16-3-2, 7 KOs) for a vacant bantamweight world title.
• Strawweight titlist Hekkie Budler (26-1, 9 KOs) of South Africa will make his second defense against former world titleholder Xiong Zhao Zhong (24-5-1, 14 KOs) of China.
• Light heavyweight prospect Eleider Alvarez (15-0, 8 KOs), a Colombia native living in Montreal, will square off with South Africa’s Ryno Liebenberg (16-0, 11 KOs) in a 12-round bout.
• British middleweight Nick Blackwell (15-3, 6 KOs) will face Belarus’ Sergey Khomitsky (29-11-2, 12 KOs) in a six-rounder.

GGG big on TV as well as at arena

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
videoGood boy Gennady Golovkin’s second-round knockout of Marco Antonio Rubio -- GGG’s 18th KO in a row -- to retain his middleweight title for the 12th time on Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, was a rousing success at the gate to the tune of a standing-room-only crowd of 9,323 as well as on HBO.

It was an electric atmosphere at the stadium, with most in the heavily Mexican crowd cheering for Golovkin against Rubio, a Mexican. In fact, the crowd broke out into chants of “Triple G! Triple G!”

It was such a great crowd and lively atmosphere that Dan Beckerman, the CEO of AEG, the company that owns StubHub as well as the Staples Center a few miles away in downtown Los Angeles, told me after the fight that he thought Golovkin, who was fighting on the West Coast for the first time, would have done a much bigger crowd at the Staples Center and that he very much wants Golovkin to headline there, ideally against Canelo Alvarez or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

So we know Golovkin can sell tickets. He also has drawn well in New York at Madison Square Garden and the Theater at MSG.

But Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) is also clearly a big television draw, too, based on his numbers. Saturday’s viewership on HBO -- which has aired the top 10 cable TV fights this year (and 13 of the top 15) -- only added to that fact.

According to Nielsen Media Research, Golovkin-Rubio averaged 1.304 million viewers for the live, first-time airing. That makes it the second-best-performing fight on American cable television in 2014. Only the March rematch between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Bryan Vera drew more viewers (1.390 million). Golovkin-Rubio peaked at 1.323 million viewers, a healthy figure, especially considering that the fight was up against the Florida State-Notre Dame game, a huge college football matchup, on ABC.

The co-feature on Saturday’s card, Nicholas Walters' devastating sixth-round knockout of Nonito Donaire to win a featherweight world title, also performed well, averaging 1.1 million viewers (fifth best on cable TV in the U.S. this year so far) and peaking at 1.166 million viewers.

Here are the average viewership figures for all six of Golovkin’s HBO fights in chronological order:

• Gregorz Proksa (Sept. 1, 2012): 685,000
• Gabriel Rosado (Jan. 19, 2013): 813,000
• Matthew Macklin (June 29, 2013): 1.1 million
• Curtis Stevens (Nov. 2, 2013): 1.41 million
• Daniel Geale (July 26, 2014): 984,000
• Rubio (Oct. 18, 2014): 1.304 million

Golovkin’s ability to sell tickets and draw viewers means that he is headed for HBO PPV sooner than later and, ideally, a big-name opponent will get into the ring with him. Nobody can use the excuse that he doesn’t bring anything to the table. The fact is he brings money now and lots of it, not to mention big crowds and TV audiences who want to see his “big drama show.”

Goossen Promotions carries on

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
After promoter Dan Goossen died at age 64 on Sept. 29, just a few weeks after being diagnosed with liver cancer, there were many questions about what would happen to his company, Goossen Promotions.

Tom Brown, Goossen’s brother-in-law, close friend and the company matchmaker, said after Dan’s death that the family business would carry on even though it would be impossible to replace their beloved leader.

“It's full steam ahead," Brown said less than a week after Goossen’s death. "I'm working on closing a few things between now and the end of the year. It's not going to be the same without Dan, but he wouldn't want us to just quit. No way. He gave me an opportunity when some people said, ‘Are you crazy?’ So we are going to move forward. He would expect nothing else.”

The first efforts of Goossen Promotions carrying on were unveiled Monday with the announcement of a card -- in Goossen’s honor -- Nov. 20 at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City, California.

“My Dad was the ultimate San Fernando Valley guy and the continuation of this series is the perfect way to honor his devotion to the sport and passion for the Valley. ‘Live at the Lodge’ will be a key ingredient to his legacy,” said Craig Goossen, one of Dan’s four sons, who has been involved in the family business for most of his adult life.

Said Brown: “Dan loved promoting high-quality shows in his hometown. He's been a staple in the Southern California boxing community going all the way back to the Reseda Country Club, where he first made his mark, up to major championship bouts at Staples Center."

The Nov. 20 card, which won't be televised, will be headlined by junior welterweight Lydell Rhodes (22-0, 11 KOs) in a 10-rounder against an opponent to be determined. In the 10-round co-feature, welterweight Wale “Lucky Boy” Omotoso (24-1, 20 KOs) will face an opponent to be named.

Another fight on the card will mark the return of 2008 U.S. Olympian Shawn Estrada (15-0, 13 KOs), who has not fought in two years. Estrada, who has struggled to make weight and not fought since August 2012, will fight an eight-rounder against an opponent to be named at light heavyweight, Brown said.

Goossen promoted several cards at the Sportsmen's Lodge in the late 1990s and then more shows there in 2012. Like the Reseda Country Club shows in the 1980s and '90s, the idea is to use the shows to help build younger fighters into future contenders and eventually champions. Now his son and brother-in-law will look to carry on his legacy beginning with the card Nov. 20. As Brown said of Goossen Promotions, it’s full steam ahead.

GGG expects a huge 2015

October, 17, 2014
Oct 17

CARSON, Calif. -- Middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin fought four times in his breakout 2013 and hoped to do it again this year. But when his father died unexpectedly, Golovkin withdrew from an April fight, leaving him with only three appearances this year.

GGG knocked out Osumanu Adama in February, Daniel Geale in July and returns to make his 12th title defense against Marco Antonio Rubio (59-6-1, 51 KOs) on Saturday night (HBO, 10 ET/PT) at the sold-out StubHub Center.

But next year, Golovkin (30-0, 27 KOs), one of the busiest elite fighters in the sport, has designs on another four-fight year.

“Right now I am focused on Rubio. He’s a strong guy,” Golovkin said. “He is good experience for me. This is my first fight in California, so it’s a big step for me, a big deal for me. But I am ready for a unification fight. After this fight I hope so for a unification. I need Canelo [Alvarez]-[Miguel] Cotto first and then, of course, I want the winner. But [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr., Andre Ward, Carl Froch. Bring me big fight.”

With a win, Golovkin is ticketed for a February return in Monte Carlo, perhaps against British contender Martin Murray. After that he wants a big pay-per-view fight.

Golovkin was supposed to face Chavez at super middleweight on HBO PPV in July. Golovkin agreed to terms, but Chavez backed out. Golovkin would love for the fight to be finalized.

With middleweight champion Cotto likely headed to a spring showdown with Alvarez, the winner would be an ideal opponent and a huge fight for GGG in the second half of next year.

K2 Promoter Tom Loeffler, who represents Golovkin, said he also has been in touch with Eddie Hearn, who promotes super middleweight titleholder Carl Froch, to gauge their interest. That’s a fight Loeffler said that Golovkin would happily travel to Froch’s turf in England for and also fight him at 168 pounds.

Another name that interests Golovkin is super middleweight champion Andre Ward, although he is inactive with no return on the horizon. Ward is going on a year of inactivity while embroiled in a promotional contract dispute.

“If Gennady fought Canelo, Chavez, Cotto, Froch it would be phenomenal,” Loeffler said. “Those are really big fights. People can’t say Gennady doesn't bring a reward. He's still a big risk but he brings a lot of interest and a lot money with him now that HBO has committed their financial support to him. So if everything goes the right way on Saturday we're looking for a huge 2015. I'm convinced there is nobody at 160 pounds who can last 12 rounds with him.”

Golovkin said he won’t be picky about his opponents. He just wants something huge.

“I feel great. Four times [in 2015]. It is my time,” he said. “Next year will be big for me and my team. Right now, I focus on Rubio. In the future, I am ready for anyone. I waited a long time. I want big, big fights with superstars. It doesn’t matter who. Cotto, Canelo, Chavez Jr., Froch. It doesn’t matter. I want big fights for me and my fans. I want great show.”

Vasyl next for Donaire-Walters winner?

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
Vasyl LomachenkoChris Farina/Top RankVasyl Lomachenko could be in line for a fight against the winner of Nonito Donaire-Nicholas Walters.
The bout Saturday night between featherweight titleholder Nonito Donaire and secondary beltholder Nicholas Walters (HBO, 10 ET/PT) at the sold-out StubHub Center in Carson, California, on the Gennady Golovkin-Marco Antonio Rubio undercard shapes up to be very interesting.

But what comes next for the winner could be even more fascinating.

Top Rank's Bob Arum promotes several of the top featherweights, including Donaire (33-2, 21 KOs) and Walters (24-0, 20 KOs). He also promotes two of the other world titleholders, Evgeny Gradovich (19-0, 9 KOs) and Vasyl Lomachenko (2-1, 1 KO), the brilliant two-time Olympic gold medalist, whose pro record is deceiving.

If Arum has his way -- and he hopes HBO will ante up for it -- he would like to match the winner of Donaire-Walters with Lomachenko, assuming he defeats Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (52-1, 33 KOs) on Nov. 22 on the Manny Pacquiao-Chris Algieri HBO PPV undercard.

"The winner of Donaire-Walters against Lomachenko is a massive, massive fight, especially if it's Donaire who wins," Arum told ESPN.com. "I would look forward to matching Saturday's winner with Lomachenko if he beats the Thai guy, who is a tough opponent with a great record. The winner of [Saturday's] fight versus Lomachenko is a major event in my opinion.

"But it's an expensive fight. We all know that. I would hope we can make it work. But, hey, even if HBO doesn't want it, I have other means. I can take it to Asia."

Donaire said he is open to any challenge from a top opponent, but also said one of his goals is to get a rematch with Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9 KOs), who outpointed him in April 2013 to unify junior featherweight belts.

"The rematch was one of the fights I requested," Donaire said. "I know if I am at my best, I have more than enough to beat him. I want to make that rematch happen. As a fighter and champion, you don't want leave things the way it is."

Donaire moved up to featherweight after the loss but said if Rigondeaux didn't want to come up to 126 pounds, he would be willing to meet him at 124, right between featherweight and junior featherweight.

However, in addition to having Walters in front of him, there is also zero public demand for a Rigondeaux rematch because of how bad the fight was thanks to Rigondeaux's utter lack of engagement.

"If they are willing to do the fight, that would be great. But is [HBO] willing to pay for that? Maybe they don't want to pay for it," Donaire said. "But that's a fight I requested."
Brandon Rios, Mike Alvarado Josh Hedges/Getty ImagesThe all-action rivalry between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado has produced two memorable wars.
Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios have split two epic fights, both scorching thrillers and fight of the year candidates.

In October 2012, Rios stopped Alvarado in the seventh round and Alvarado exacted revenge in March 2013 by winning a decision (and a vacant interim junior welterweight title).

From the moment the second fight ended a third fight was inevitable, and Top Rank and HBO have talked about making it for January. But now it just might -- surprise -- happen on Dec. 20.

That is what HBO and Top Rank are talking about, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told ESPN.com.

Arum said that HBO set aside "significant money" to put on a Canelo Alvarez fight with Golden Boy Promotions on Dec. 6 in conjunction with Alvarez's recent signing of a long-term deal with the network. But an ankle injury knocked Alvarez off the date and he won't fight until 2015.

"When Canelo said he couldn't go on Dec. 6 that freed up a considerable amount of money which, like most corporations, if they don't spend it this year it goes back to the company and they get a new budget next year," Arum said. "So we are seeing if they can use some of those funds set aside for the Canelo fight for Rios-Alvarado on Dec. 20 and add a show to the schedule for the consumers.

"HBO told us they want the fight but we hadn't discussed it for this year. This came out of the blue after Canelo said he wasn't fighting on Dec. 6."

HBO still plans to do a card with Golden Boy on Dec. 6, but it won't be for nearly the same price tag the show with Alvarez would have cost.

Top Rank president Todd duBoef has been talking to HBO Sports president Ken Hershman about the deal. DuBoef said he has talked to both fighter camps about the prospect of moving up the date of the fight from early 2015 to Dec. 20.

Arum said if Rios-Alvarado III -- which would be at welterweight -- happens on Dec. 20 the likely venue would be the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colorado, just outside of Alvarado's hometown of Denver. Arum said the arena is on hold. Alvarado fought there last October and was stopped in the 10th round and lost his junior welterweight world title to Ruslan Provodnikov.

Alvarado (34-3, 23 KOs), 34, has lost two fights in a row, to Provodnikov and a decision to Juan Manuel Marquez in May. Former lightweight titleholder Rios (32-2-1, 23 KOs), 28, of Oxnard, California, has lost two of his last three bouts, the second fight to Alvarado followed by a lopsided decision loss to Manny Pacquiao last November. Rios bounced back with a ninth-round disqualification win against Diego Chaves on Aug. 2.

In addition to the Rios-Alvarado III talks, Arum said HBO has agreed to buy the vacant middleweight title bout between Matt Korobov and Andy Lee with the fight ticketed to either be part of a Dec. 13 tripleheader topped by Timothy Bradley Jr.-Chaves or on the proposed Rios-Alvarado III undercard on Dec. 20.

"Korobov-Lee is definitely going to be this year," Arum said. "It's just matter of if it will be Dec. 13 or Dec. 20."

Stiverne-Wilder deal getting closer

October, 15, 2014
Oct 15
The long slog to make the mandatory fight between heavyweight titleholder Bermane Stiverne and Deontay Wilder is inching closer to the finish line.

[+] EnlargeBermane Stiverne
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesHeavyweight titlist Bermane Stiverne moved one step closer toward seeing his bout with unbeaten Deontay Wilder become a reality.
One of the open issues in making the fight was for Stiverne to come to an agreement with his promoter, Don King, on their side of the deal. On Wednesday, they did, according to Stiverne manager Camille Estephan.

"I made a deal with King that we're very satisfied with financially," Estephan told ESPN.com. "But we are still very anxious to get a date for the fight and a site. I can't speculate about Wilder but I think it's time for him and his team to stop talking and make the fight."

A specific date and venue is key and one of the reasons why Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya, whose company represents Wilder, said they couldn't sign a contract from King. Even though De La Hoya said they had made a financial deal, the date and site were not set.

Estephan said the biggest thing on the Stiverne side was working out the money.

"Don still doesn't know the site or the date but in our agreement the fight is supposed to be either in December or in the first quarter of next year," he said. "I have made a proposal to Don to bring the fight to Quebec City [Stiverne grew up in Canada]. He likes it but he can't give me a commitment yet.

"But I wanted to get our deal done. We are satisfied. We did what we had to do. We don't want to wait anymore. One of the reasons we're very happy to make a deal for the fight is because this is the fight we want and Bermane wants to make a statement in this fight and increase his market value with a good performance against an undefeated, American Olympic medalist."

A purse bid for the fight has been delayed multiple times as the sides have worked toward and agreement.
CunninghamCourtesy The Cunningham FamilySteve Cunningham has a good reason to fight: his daughter Kennedy.
In April, heavyweight Steve Cunningham gutted out a 10-round decision win against Amir Mansour in a thriller. Cunningham was down twice, Mansour once, and it was a terrific fight.

Cunningham (27-6, 12 KOs), a former cruiserweight titleholder, made no secret of the main reason he was fighting -- to earn money to help pay for expensive medical care for his daughter Kennedy, who has a serious heart ailment and is in need of a transplant.

That is once again the main reason why Cunningham, 38, of Philadelphia, will climb back into the ring to face Natu Visinia, 30, of Lakewood, California, in a 10-round heavyweight main event Saturday night (NBC Sports Network, 9 ET) at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia.

Visinia (10-0, 8 KOs) is an unknown. He has never been in a fight scheduled for longer than six rounds and faced only two opponents with winning records (6-1 and 3-1).

"Visinia is a big kid. He's a dangerous kid,” said Naazim Richardson, Cunningham’s trainer. “Steve is a real veteran. He's seen a lot. He responds well in the ring. He has courage and talent, and he is a great ambassador for our sport.

"At the end of the fight, you will see how he neutralizes the big strong guy, and that is what is important."

What also is important is Cunningham’s efforts to raise money for his daughter. While he is fighting in his hometown for the second fight in a row -- after 11 years spent not fighting there -- his daughter and wife, Livvy, are 300 miles away in Pittsburgh so they can be close to Kennedy’s doctors in the event a heart becomes available. Steve stayed at home to care for their two sons, Cruz and Steve Jr.

"With Livvy and Kennedy in Pittsburgh, I miss them dearly," Cunningham said. “But I get paid to do a job, and it needs to get done."

So far, a fund the Cunninghams created has raised more than $25,000 to help with the expenses associated with Kennedy's medical care. She was born with a congenital heart defect.

Anthony Joshua keeps on trucking

October, 14, 2014
Oct 14
Blue-chip heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua isn’t about to slow his schedule after crushing Denis Bakhtov, an experienced opponent many thought would extend Joshua a bit, in the second round Saturday in London.

Joshua (9-0, 9 KOs), who was in his first scheduled 10-rounder and claimed his first professional regional title, let his hand fly and tore Bakhtov apart, setting the stage for a quick return against British journeyman Michael Sprott in Liverpool, England, on Nov. 22 on the undercard of the Nathan Cleverly-Tony Bellew rematch.

“I thought he was going to be taking me five or six rounds but it's going well and I'm putting the work in at the gym and it's paying off on fight night,” Joshua, the 2012 British Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, said of his quick dismissal of Bakhtov. “I think it's my accuracy really more than the power. I haven't been doing much strength work recently because I have been in the gym so much, so I think speed and accuracy is getting me through right now.

“He came out game and as a fighter you can tell someone wants to have a go. He tried to slip in a left hook and I adjusted and thought, 'OK, this is what you are bringing to the table.’ I was back at The O2 (Arena) and in London for the first time in a while so the adrenaline was pumping.”

Joshua, who turns 25 on Wednesday, is now turning his attention to Sprott (32-22, 17 KOs), an experienced fighter and a former British champion.

It’s doubtful that Sprott, 39, will last long against Joshua, however. Long-faded former title challenger Kali Meehan knocked him out in the first round in June and Sprott has been stopped 12 times. Joshua has not been extended into the fourth round yet.

As far as Joshua is concerned, the Sprott fight will end the first phase of his pro career.

“People have been saying since my second fight, 'he needs to stop fighting tin cans' and all that," Joshua said. "It takes time, though, and if I keep beating people, then I am going to move up, so if I beat Michael then I am sure we'll be stepping up in 2015. We've done Bakhtov and got the WBC international belt and now we're looking at Sprott, so by the end of 2015 it will be interesting to see where we are.”
A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Former flyweight and junior flyweight titleholder Brian Viloria (34-4, 20 KOs), who has won two fights in a row since losing his unified flyweight belts to Juan Francisco Estrada by decision in April 2013, is on course for another title shot. Viloria is scheduled for a stay-busy fight on Top Rank's Dec. 6 card in Glendale, California, against an opponent to be determined. But, according to manager Gary Gittelsohn, that fight will be followed by "a more meaningful fight" on a Feb. 14 card Top Rank is planning in Macau and then a possible title fight in the spring.

"Although we don't yet have opponents for either bout, Brian is anxious to grab another world title," Gittelsohn said. "So I will be working with Top Rank to see what's possible for Feb. 14th."

Chinese star Zou Shiming, the two-time Olympic gold medalist, is likely to fight for a world title in the Feb. 14 main event. If Zou wins a belt, Gittelsohn said the plan would be for Viloria, a Filipino-American from Hawaii, to challenge Shiming after that in what would be a big fight in Macau.

• Lightweight prospect Felix Verdejo (15-0, 11 KOs), the 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian and rising star, returns to headline a UniMas-televised card on Dec. 13 in Philadelphia, according to promoter Top Rank. Verdejo is slated to face Spain's Karim El Ouazghari (16-5-2, 4 KOs) in an eight-round bout.

• Junior welterweight prospect Jose Ramirez (11-0, 8 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian and growing draw, will headline a UniMas-televised card at the Selland Arena in Fresno, California, his home region, against David Rodela (17-9-3, 7 KOs) in an eight-rounder, Top Rank announced. In the co-feature, junior featherweight prospect Jessie Magdaleno (19-0, 15 KOs) will face Erick Ruiz (13-1, 6 KOs) in an eight-rounder. Heavyweight hopeful Andy Ruiz (22-0, 16 KOs) is due to face Kenny Lemos (12-8-2, 8 KOs) in an untelevised bout.

• Lightweight Jerry Belmonontes suffered a right wrist injury in training camp and has withdrawn from his bout with Edner Cherry on Saturday night in Philadelphia on Main Events' "Fight Night" card (NBC Sports Net, 9 ET). Main Events announced that Osumanu Akaba (31-6-1, 24 KOs) will replace Belmontes and face Cherry (32-6-2, 17 KOs) in the co-feature of the card headlined by heavyweight Steve Cunningham against Natu Visinia.