Alfredo AnguloAP Images/Eric JamisonAfter two consecutive defeats at junior middleweight, Alfredo Angulo will try his luck at 160.

Alfredo Angulo has long been a fan favorite because he’s generally in exciting fights. But he is also coming off back-to-back knockout losses and looking to get back on track.

After Erislandy Lara busted up Angulo’s face and forced him to quit in the 10th round of their vacant interim junior middleweight title bout in July 2013 -- a hellacious fight in which Angulo dropped Lara twice -- Angulo returned in March to face former titleholder Canelo Alvarez in a match that promised similar fireworks.

Instead, it was a dud because Alvarez kicked Angulo’s rear end all over the ring in an utterly one-sided beatdown until referee Tony Weeks mercifully called off the carnage in the 10th round.

Angulo showed absolutely nothing in the fight other than the ability to take a beating and stay on his feet.

That fight was at a contract weight of 155 pounds, but as Angulo makes his return from the back-to-back losses, he is moving up to middleweight. His next fight will actually be at a maximum weight of 162 pounds, two over the division limit, when he faces fellow Mexican James De La Rosa (22-2, 13 KOs), 26, in one of the featured bouts on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana II undercard on Sept. 13 (Showtime PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The 32-year-old Angulo (22-4, 18 KOs) said he had a tough time making weight for the Alvarez fight and that it was time to move up to the next division.

[+] EnlargeAlfredo Angulo and Erislandy Lara
Holly Stein/Getty ImagesAlfredo Angulo was forced to quit against a relentless Erislandy Lara in 2013.
“I think this is a good fight for my weight,” Angulo said during a teleconference with reporters this week to promote the pay-per-view. “I've been getting my weight and my body ready for the next weight class. I cut a lot of weight before the last fight and I think my body will be better at middleweight.

“I've come up early to the camp (with trainer Virgil Hunter in the Bay Area) and I'm working on a lot of things that are going to put me in top form by September.”

Angulo said that the moving up in weight will suit him and that he will be able to be more aggressive because he won’t be so worn out from making weight.

“Basically I've been saying it all along I was going to stay at 154 up until my body said otherwise,” Angulo said. “It's not a struggle. I can still make 154 but not comfortably, so that's why the jump to 160. You know, I think I'm going to feel more comfortable. I'm going to be the ‘Perro’[ that you all know.

“As far as the Lara fight, I learned a lot. It was a great experience. I showed the people that gave me no chance that Perro is always going to be here and give great fights. Honestly, in the Canelo fight I can't tell you I learned anything because I wasn't there. It wasn't me. It wasn't the one you all know, and I didn't feel the strength and I wasn't able to put on the performance that I would've wanted.”

How Angulo’s power will translate to the next weight class will be a mystery until he is in action.

“I don't know,” he said when asked about his power at 160. “Honestly, I think you'll know come Sept.13 if I have the same or even more going into the new division. We'll let you guys decide.”

Power or not, the fight is critical to Angulo’s hopes for a shot at another world title.

“Alfredo knows that this is a very important fight because if he's going to be considered for future world title fights fighting the elite fighters in boxing he's got to get past James De La Rosa,” Golden Boy vice president Eric Gomez said. “This is a very dangerous fight for him but, obviously, something a little bit different for Alfredo Angulo. He's debuting as a middleweight.”

Abraham-Smith heats up

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Arthur Abraham, Robert StieglitzRONNY HARTMANN/AFP/Getty ImagesArthur Abraham won the super middleweight title by defeating Robert Stieglitz in 2013.

When super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham of Germany defends his belt against England’s Paul Smith on Sept. 27 at Sparkassen-Arena in Kiel, Germany, Abraham will, of course, be the heavy crowd favorite.

But supposedly Smith (35-3, 20 KOs) has already sold some 2,000 tickets to British fans who intend to make the trip for the fight and, if you know British fans, they sure can make their presence known.

“It’s great that Smith is bringing so many fans to Kiel," Abraham, 34, said at Thursday’s kickoff news conference, where he came face to face with Smith at the arena. “English fans always create a good atmosphere -- even when they know their fighter will lose. This will be my fourth fight in Kiel and my fourth victory. Anybody who wants to celebrate with me on Sept. 27 should get their tickets now before they sell out.”

Said promoter Kalle Sauerland, who represents Abraham, “British boxers always have a great fighting spirit. Smith will try to get at Arthur from the opening bell and put him under pressure. Arthur will be aware of this and will be ready for whatever Smith has to offer. I think we could be in for a spectacular finish and another successful defense for King Arthur."

Abraham (40-4, 28 KOs) will be making his second defense since regaining the title by split decision against Robert Stieglitz in their third fight in March. A victory against Smith could set up a potential fourth match with Stieglitz, which would still be a big event in Germany.

The 31-year-old Smith has won four fights in a row since being knocked out by George Groves in the second round in a 2011 fight for the British and Commonwealth super middleweight titles.

This will be Smith’s first shot at a world title, and he is happy that he will have a cheering section in Kiel.

“It’s a dream come true to finally get my chance to fight for a world title,” Smith said. “I would like to thank Team Sauerland and my promoter, Eddie Hearn, for making this happen. I have a lot of fans traveling over to watch me become world champion, and they won’t be disappointed."

Hearn has reason to be confident in Smith’s chances to beat Abraham.

“I have worked with Kalle on two big fights recently,” Hearn said of Carl Froch-Groves II and Froch-Mikkel Kessler II, both won by Froch. “On both occasions my fighters have come out on top. It will be no different on Sept. 27."

Notes: Berto to face Upsher Chambers

August, 21, 2014
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A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Former two-time welterweight titlist Andre Berto's opponent is set for his Sept. 6 ring return in Cincinnati. Berto, coming back from a 14-month injury-related layoff, will face Steve Upsher Chambers in a 10-rounder at a maximum weight of 149 pounds. The fight will open a Showtime tripleheader that also includes junior welterweight Adrien Broner facing Emanuel Taylor in the main event and junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse against Roberto Ortiz in the co-feature.

Berto (28-3, 22 KOs), of Winter Haven, Florida, who turns 31 the day after the fight, is trying to end a two-fight losing streak and return from major shoulder surgery to repair an injury he suffered in a 12th-round knockout loss to Jesus Soto Karass in July 2013. Upsher Chambers (24-3-1, 6 KOs), 29, of Philadelphia, has also lost two fights in a row, an eight-round decision to former welterweight titlist Luis Collazo (whom Berto holds a close win against) and a fourth-round knockout to prospect Eddie Gomez.

• Former lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco (30-3-1, 23 KOs), now campaigning at a junior welterweight, returns to action against Lanardo Tyner (31-10-2, 20 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder on Saturday night (beIN Sports Espanol, 11 ET) in Tecate, Mexico. DeMarco, 28, of Mexico, is looking for his third win in a row since losing his lightweight belt by eighth-round knockout to Adrien Broner in November 2012. Tyner, 39, of Detroit, took the fight on just a few days' notice. He has lost two fights in a row, both by decision.

• Last Saturday's Showtime card was not a hit with viewers. The tripleheader from Carson, California, averaged just 514,000 viewers, down 11 percent from the network's average audience for the year (578,000) for "Showtime Championship Boxing." Kell Brook's decision against Shawn Porter to win a welterweight title in the main event averaged 661,000 viewers, 26 percent below Porter's last fight in April (also on Showtime). That bout, against Paulie Malignaggi, averaged 897,000 viewers. Anthony Dirrell's decision over Sakio Bika to win a super middleweight title in a rematch in the co-feature averaged 574,000 viewers, which was up 29 percent from the 446,000 viewers drawn by their December first fight on Showtime. The opener between lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa Jr. and Daniel Estrada averaged 341,000 viewers, down 37 percent from the 545,000 viewers Figueroa's last fight on Showtime, against Jerry Belmontes, drew in April.

Mares joins Haymon stable

August, 21, 2014
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Abner MaresCarlos Delgado/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsFormer three-division titlist Abner Mares is looking for a return bout in November or December.
Abner Mares, who has won world titles in three weight classes, is the latest fighter to join the ever-growing stable of manager/adviser Al Haymon.

"I'm really excited and to be part of his team. I'm thrilled," Mares told ESPN.com. "The talks we had before I signed and the talks we had about the future ahead of me were great. I can't wait. I'm looking forward to it."

Mares (27-1-1, 14 KOs), 28, has won world titles at bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight. Last August, he was upset via first-round knockout by Jhonny Gonzalez, losing his featherweight title. Mares returned July 12 in Las Vegas, outpointing Jonathan Oquendo, and he is on track for another title opportunity.

"Any fight, Al and myself are open to," Mares said. "The one thing I like about Al and respect is before we made it official, we did talk to [Golden Boy Promotions] president Oscar [De La Hoya] and let him know we are working together. Oscar is open to work with us for any fight. You know me, my record speaks for itself. I'm not scared of anyone."

Mares said he remains under contract to Golden Boy until November, but that he will fight again this year.

"We're working on a date for November or December, but for sure another fight before the end of the year," Mares said.

Will it be with Golden Boy?

"It all depends on what we work out," said Mares, a 2004 Mexican Olympian, who has been with Golden Boy for his entire career and was the promotional company's first home-grown world titleholder.

Mares (27-1-1, 14 KOs) said he plans to stay at featherweight for the time being.

"My purpose now is to capture a world title again in this division," Mares said. "The way I lost, I feel pressure and obligated to myself to get that title back. Once I accomplish that, my intention is to move up and win another world title."

Mares said that he would like to face Gonzalez in a rematch but is open to fighting any of the other titleholders at 126 pounds. Those fights, however, could be difficult to make because Haymon and Top Rank do not work together, and the other titleholders, Nonito Donaire, Vasyl Lomachenko, Evgeny Gradovich and Nicholas Walters, are all promoted by Top Rank.

Whomever Mares will face next, he said he is doing some light training in Los Angeles, where he lives, but would make his way to the Bay Area next week for a two-week stay with trainer Virgil Hunter to work on some things.

Haymon has around 100 fighters in his stable, including many top fighters, such as Floyd Mayweather Jr., Marcos Maidana, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, Keith Thurman, Adrien Broner, Shawn Porter, Lamont Peterson, Deontay Wilder, Peter Quillin, Daniel Jacobs, Leo Santa Cruz, Devon Alexander, Chris Arreola, Rances Barthelemy, Andre Berto, Sakio Bika, Jermell Charlo, Jermall Charlo, Luis Collazo, Chad Dawson, Andre Dirrell, Anthony Dirrell, Omar Figueroa Jr., Andrzej Fonfara, Robert Guerrero, Amir Khan, Tomoki Kameda, Erislandy Lara, Josesito Lopez, Paulie Malignaggi, Beibut Shumenov, Adonis Stevenson and Austin Trout.

Mares joined Haymon after a five-year run with manager Frank Espinoza, who guided him to his three world titles.

"I hear people say I'm a traitor, that I sold," Mares said of leaving Espinoza. "I was with Frank for five years and the contract expired. We had success together, and we went our separate ways. I didn't do anything to get out of the contract. I completed my five years. I was a free agent and best deal wins, and the best move for myself was going with Al Haymon."

Thompson, Solis set for rematch

August, 21, 2014
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On March 22, veteran heavyweight contender Tony Thompson pulled an upset when he outpointed Odlanier Solis by split decision in Turkey, the home country of Solis promoter Ahmet Oner, whose considerable juice there obviously didn't help his man get the nod on the scorecards.

[+] EnlargeTony Thompson
Alex Livesey/Getty ImagesVeteran heavyweight Tony Thompson will look for his second straight victory over former Cuban Olympic gold medalist Odlanier Solis.
Thompson (39-5, 26 KOs), 42, of Washington, D.C. -- who has twice been knocked out in challenging champion Wladimir Klitschko -- lost his next fight in France to Carlos Takam, who has emerged as a solid contender himself in the past year.

Solis, 34, the former Olympic gold medalist from Cuba who now lives in Miami, has not fought since the defeat but will face Thompson in a rematch in October, Oner announced this week.

"The contracts are signed, we're ready to go," Oner said. "Now Solis has to show what he's made of. I am sure that he can beat Thompson. But their first bout showed that he needs the right attitude and a lot of stamina to do so. This is the last chance for both men. It's do or die. After beating Solis, Thompson lost to Carlos Takam. Still, both men are rated in the WBC top 15, so the winner can move up the ratings and get in line for another world title shot. The loser should probably just retire."

Solis (20-2, 13 KOs) lost his only world title shot, blowing out his knee, which caused a first-round knockout loss to then-titlist Vitali Klitschko in 2011. After a lengthy layoff because of surgery, Solis won three fights in a row before the loss to Thompson.

The exact date is not set yet. Thompson adviser Mike Borao told ESPN.com that the contract states the fight will be Oct. 11, but it might shift to Oct. 26.

"Ahmet has been pretty easy to work with, so we're being flexible," Borao said. "One thing about Tony, he accepts everything without complaint."

Thompson, who twice knocked out David Price in upsets in 2013 but then lost a decision to Kubrat Pulev with a mandatory shot at Klitschko at stake in August 2013, is looking forward to the rematch.

"Solis is a gold medalist with a great record, so I am not looking past him," Thompson said. "I beat him once and I'll do it again, only this time I am knocking him out. Nothing is going to stop me from my mission of winning a world title."

Hearn: Brook-Khan discussions begin

August, 21, 2014
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Newly crowned welterweight titlist Kell Brook is getting a hero's welcome in his hometown of Sheffield, England.

Brook won a well-deserved majority decision against Shawn Porter on Saturday night in Carson, California, to claim a 147-pound world title and thrust himself onto the world stage.

The 28-year-old Brook (33-0, 22 KOs) is set to address fans and media Friday at the Winter Garden in Sheffield. Members of Team Brook will be greeted by Councillor Peter Rippon, who is the mayor of Sheffield, at town hall before Brook, trainer Dominic Ingle and promoter Eddie Hearn will address the media and fans. Brook will also sign autographs.

“I am so proud to be bringing the title back to Sheffield,” Brook said. “The people have always supported me so passionately from day one, and I am sure that they all stayed up to see me win the title. I am looking forward to thanking them on Friday, and I hope there’s a great turnout.”

While Brook basks in the glory of the title victory, Hearn is already making plans for his first title defense. He said it will take place Dec. 6 in Sheffield against an opponent to be determined.

“He came of age in that ring, and great things lie in wait for him, including [a fight with countryman] Amir Khan,” Hearn wrote in his Daily Mail column. “I am looking at next spring or summer in a fight, maybe at Wembley, that will be just as big as [Carl] Froch-George Groves. I’ve started talks on it.”

Hearn said that Khan, a former unified junior welterweight titlist now at welterweight, is interested in the fight and “we are, too. People from Showtime, who show Khan’s fights in the U.S., came into the dressing room after Kell won and said ‘Let’s talk.’ Other U.S. broadcasters have also been on -- it’s exciting times.

“I think this [Brook-Khan] fight can be made, but people have to put arrogance and ego to one side. Before, when we offered Khan 3 million pounds to fight, he didn’t fancy it. Kell had a reasonable name and no title. He has a huge name and a world title now. That changes the negotiating position a lot, but this is such a big fight, everyone can do well out of it. So long as Khan doesn’t demand an unrealistic split, we should make it happen. I want to make this fight, and I think it will be huge. Maybe Floyd Mayweather will feature down the line. Kell is certainly in that reckoning now.”

Hearn said that besides Khan, other names he has in mind as possible opponents for Brook on Dec. 6 include former titlist Andre Berto (if he wins on Sept. 6), Juan Manuel Marquez, Brandon Rios and Josesito Lopez.

“[They] are all names being thrown in the pot, but it is very early days,” he said. “We will talk over the options and go from there. Kell has a great future and I am so happy for him.”

Brook is in a great position in that he is not aligned with HBO, Showtime, Top Rank or Al Haymon, which means a Brook fight against any top welterweight faces no impediments since Hearn is able to make a deal with any of those entities.

Hernandez ordered to face Afolabi

August, 20, 2014
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Cruiserweight titlist Yoan Pablo Hernandez (29-1, 14 KOs) won a split decision against former titlist Firat Arslan (34-8-2, 21 KOs) to retain his title for the fourth time on Saturday in Germany and the next day was ordered by the IBF to begin negotiations for his mandatory defense against Ola Afolabi (21-3-4, 10 KOs).

According to the organization, the fight must take place by Dec 31.

Afolabi, who is from England and living in Los Angeles, was supposed to face Pawel Kolodziej of Poland in a title eliminator to earn the shot. But when Kolodziej pulled out of their July 26 fight that was scheduled for the Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Geale undercard in New York, Afolabi instead smashed substitute Anthony Caputo Smith in the third round. That fight was not an eliminator but Afolabi is getting the shot because Hernandez’s mandatory defense is due and Afolabi is the IBF’s leading available contender.

“I’m thrilled to be challenging for the IBF world title,” Afolabi said. “[K2 Promotions managing director Tom Loeffler] and K2 have done a great job promoting me and putting me in this position and I will take the title from Hernandez.”

Said Loeffler: “We’re excited that Ola is now the mandatory challenger. Ola has proven to be one of the best cruiserweights in the world and we strongly believe that he will bring home the IBF world title in this fight.”

The fight will be Afolabi’s fourth shot at a world title. He is 0-2-1 against Marco Huck fighting for another organization’s belt.
Welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao, junior welterweight titlist Chris Algieri and their teams are about to embark on a trip that makes me ill to even think about.

In an effort to promote Pacquiao’s defense against Algieri on Nov. 22 (HBO PPV) at the Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena in Macau, China, the fighters, Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach, Algieri trainer Tim Lane, Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank, Algieri co-promoters Joe DeGuardia and Artie Pelullo, Ed Tracy (president and CEO of Sands China Ltd., which owns the Venetian Macao), publicists Fred Sternburg and Lee “Harv” Samuels and support staff will travel 27,273 miles over 12 days to six cities in two countries on a media tour.

The promotional tour kicks off with a news conference Monday at the Venetian Macao. Then they will fly to Shanghai for another news conference Tuesday, as well as an appearance at a card Top Rank is promoting that night at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. It is headlined by Randy Petalcorin against Walter Tello for a vacant interim junior flyweight title.

Then everyone heads to the United States for a series of events Aug. 29 at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The schedule includes a news conference, a photo opp with the San Francisco Giants, a Q&A with fans and a pregame ceremony.

On Aug. 30, the group will be at the Venetian in Las Vegas for a private event the casino is putting on. Then it’s off to Los Angeles. Pacquiao will throw out the first pitch for the game between the Dodgers and Washington Nationals on Sept. 1. On Sept. 3, there will be a Los Angeles news conference.

Then it’s cross-country to New York for a news conference Sept. 4, as well as other media appearances. They will close the tour by ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Sept. 4.

Then it’s off to training camp.

Golovkin-Rubio up next?

August, 15, 2014
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A few notes from around the boxing world:

• The leading candidate to land an Oct. 18 HBO fight against middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin is interim titlist Marco Antonio Rubio of Mexico, who would have to vacate the interim belt he holds from a competing organization. Rubio has said he signed for the fight, but Golovkin promoter Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions told ESPN.com that the Golovkin side has not even sent them any paperwork yet, although they have been negotiating. More likely, Rubio signed an agreement with his own promoter, Oswaldo Kuckle. Golovkin’s next fight is ticketed for the Los Angeles area.

“Rubio is a strong option for Gennady to fight,” Loeffler said.

Another possible opponent is Bryan Vera, who fought Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. twice at middleweight, as long as Vera comes through his Big Knockout Boxing fight against Gabriel Rosado on Saturday night.

• The junior middleweight non-title fight between former titlist Canelo Alvarez and reigning titleholder Erislandy Lara on July 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas generated about 300,000 buys on Showtime PPV, according to industry sources. Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions have declined to release the total, but at 300,000 buys -- perhaps slightly more -- the fight grossed around $17 million in U.S. television revenue (although roughly half of that figure goes to the cable and satellite providers). Alvarez won a split decision.

• Former unified lightweight titlist Juan Diaz (39-4, 19 KOs), who headlines a “Solo Boxeo” card on Sept. 6 (UniMas) at the Laredo Energy Center in Laredo, Texas, will face Carlos Cardenas (21-8-1, 14 KOs) of Venezuela, Top Rank announced. The fight will be Diaz’s fifth since ending a three-year retirement in April 2013. Welterweight Brad Solomon (22-0, 8 KOs) is also on the card in a 10-rounder against former title challenger Freddy Hernandez (30-7, 20 KOs).

• Light heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara (25-3, 15 KOs), who is from Poland and based in Chicago, has signed with adviser Al Haymon. Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules, who promotes Fonfara, told ESPN.com that the Polish fighter signed on Thursday. Fonfara, due back on a Nov. 1 card in Chicago, is coming off a decision loss challenging world champion Adonis Stevenson -- who is also with Haymon -- on May 24. Fonfara survived two knockdowns in the first half of the fight to mount a huge rally and drop Stevenson in the ninth round of a brutal fight that almost resulted in an upset.

Stevenson left with no big fight

August, 15, 2014
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Adonis StevensonAP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jacques BoissinotAdonis Stevenson has a light heavyweight belt, but can't find a top opponent to defend it against.

Light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson could've faced titleholder Sergey Kovalev in a much-anticipated unification fight on HBO in the fall. But Stevenson ran for cover to Showtime, where he struggled to a decision win against Andrzej Fonfara on May 24 in a fight that was instead supposed to set up a fall unification fight with Bernard Hopkins.

However, Hopkins could not wait for the Stevenson camp, which was dragging its feet, to close the deal. So Hopkins took his belts and went back to HBO and made a deal to unify his titles with Kovalev, which is a big-time fight.

Stevenson was due to return to headline a Showtime card Sept. 27, but with Kovalev and Hopkins out of the picture for the fall -- and a fight with former champion Jean Pascal also now off the table -- his date has been postponed until October or November, according to French Canadian sports website RDS.

Once Hopkins paired off with Kovalev, the obvious opponent for Stevenson was Pascal, a fellow Montreal fighter. But Yvon Michel, Stevenson’s promoter, told the website that Stevenson-Pascal would not happen this year.

Pascal, a bigger name and bigger draw than Stevenson is in Quebec, was seeking a 50-50 deal, which seemed appropriate. However, the Stevenson camp turned that down, leaving Stevenson with no fight.

So instead of an A-level match with Kovalev or Hopkins, or even a B+ match with Pascal, Stevenson is down to discussion of second-rate opponents for his next fight: former titlist Gabriel Campillo (24-6-1, 11 KOs), who upset Thomas Williams Jr. in a fifth-round knockout win on Aug. 1, and Humberto Savigne (13-1, 10 KOs), who polished off the remnants of former super middleweight titlist Jeff Lacy in two rounds on July 10.
Most boxing fans have never heard of lightweight Daniel Estrada, who challenges Omar Figueroa Jr. for his world title on Saturday night as part of a Showtime tripleheader (9 p.m. ET) at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

But Estrada (32-2-1, 24 KOs), 29, of Mexico, might be the easiest guy to root for considering what he has been through as he fights for a world title for the first time.

Estrada, the mandatory challenger, comes to the fight against Figueroa (23-0-1, 17 KOs), 24, of Weslaco, Texas, with a heavy heart.

Estrada will be fighting less than three weeks after a car accident took the life of his younger sister, Janyn, and his niece, Emery.

"I'm dedicating this fight to my family and the memory of my younger sister, Janyn, and her 5-year-old daughter, Emery,” Estrada said through a translator on Thursday. “It's been a very difficult, emotional time for all of us. My sister, who was 27, has always been my biggest supporter in boxing. She always told me that if I continued to work hard I would make it to the top and become a world champion.”

Few would have blamed Estrada had he pulled out of the fight to deal with such an enormous family tragedy, but it took him a decade as a pro to reach a world title fight, and he said his sister never would have wanted him to withdraw.

"I'm using what she always said to me as motivation for this fight,” said Estrada, who took only a few days off from training after their deaths. “As bad as we all feel, there was never really a time when I thought I would abandon this opportunity. I know she would want me to take the fight.

"I've been waiting a year to fight for the title, and on Saturday I'm going to take advantage of my shot. I recognize Figueroa as a great champion for what he brings to the sport, but I'm a Mexican warrior. I'll show you all that on Saturday."

Several members of Estrada’s family were riding in the car when they were involved in the crash as they returned to their hometown of Mexico City from a family vacation.
Omar Figueroa and Daniel EstradaCarlos Delgado/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsOmar Figueroa, right, defends his lightweight title against Daniel Estrada on Saturday.

Lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa Jr. is one of boxing’s most exciting performers. He loves to rumble, rarely takes a backward step and throws tons of hard punches.

But one thing that has hampered him is hand problems, something that often takes its toll on powerful punchers.

Although Figueroa says his hands are fine as he heads into his second title defense when he faces mandatory challenger Daniel Estrada (32-2-1, 24 KOs), 29, of Mexico, on the undercard of the Shawn Porter-Kell Brook welterweight title bout Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET with preliminary bouts on Showtime Extreme beginning at 7 ET/PT) at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, he knows that anything can happen at any moment with his fragile hands.

"My hands will always be an issue,” Figueroa said. “We will find out how long they last me on Saturday. I hope they last me long enough to get rid of my opponent. If not, then I will have to suck it up.”

Figueroa (23-0-1, 17 KOs), 24, of Weslaco, Texas, has sucked it up before, one of the things that makes him such a fan favorite.

When he battled Japan’s Nihito Arakawa in an interim title fight in 13 months ago, Figueroa won a decision in one of the most savage fights of the year. Making Figueroa’s victory even more impressive was the fact that he injured both his hands in the bout.

The injury kept him out of the ring for nine months before he returned April 26 to make his first defense, a split decision against Jerry Belmontes, his amateur rival.

Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya, Figueroa’s promoter, knows what it’s like to have hand injuries. He had his share during his Hall of Fame career.

De La Hoya was fortunate that his hand problems never became severe enough to seriously hamper his career and he is hoping the same thing for Figueroa.

“He’s a terrific fighter and he loves throwing punches, but when you go in the ring with an AK-47 but with no bullets, it’s a big problem. He can continue to fight but the next step is to get him with the right doctors.

“Many fighters have had problems with their hands but when you get them with the right doctors it can help the situation. It’s a matter of making sure he does the right therapy and is going to the right doctor. Maybe he hasn’t done the therapy on his hands the right way. It could be a problem with the wrapping of his hands. We have to sit down with him after the fight and figure out the problem, but he has a bright future if his hands hold up.”

To train for the fight with Estrada -- who will have close adviser and future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez working in his corner -- Figueroa did not train in California with Joel Diaz, as he had been.

"The reason why I moved back home and started training with my dad [Omar Sr.] was mainly because I wanted to be close to my daughter. I missed her terribly when I wasn't home,” Figueroa said. “I wasn't able to take advantage of the things that were presented to me by training with Joel Diaz because of my [sore] hands, so I decided to just stay home. If I wasn't able to get the world-class sparring and training, then what was I doing being away from my family? Leaving Joel Diaz had nothing to do with him, I love him. It was solely a personal decision.

"My dad grinds my gears. It can be a bit rocky. But with the knowledge I brought over from training with Joel Diaz it can make me grow as a boxer and my dad will grow as a trainer.”

De La Hoya eyes Garcia-Peterson

August, 15, 2014
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Like most boxing fans, Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya would have preferred to see junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia facing titleholder Lamont Peterson in the main event of last Saturday’s Showtime card at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

For whatever reason, the fight was not made. De La Hoya and Showtime both said it was the fight they preferred but that the match could not be made for that date -- even though both boxers said they were willing to fight each other. That leaves only their adviser, Al Haymon, who did not want to make the fight. And when he doesn't want to make a fight involving the fighters he works with, it doesn't happen.

Instead, Garcia smoked no-hoper Rod Salka in two lopsided rounds in a nontitle bout at 142 pounds, dropping him three times, including for a devastating knockout on the third knockdown.

Peterson retained his title in his own mismatch, battering helpless Edgar Santana for 10 one-sided rounds before the abuse was finally called off.

If De La Hoya has his way we won't see that kind of card again. He told ESPN.com on Thursday that he was going to press Haymon to make the fight for the end of the year.

"I’m sitting down with Al [on Friday] and we're going to discuss it," De La Hoya said. "That's the fight I'm going to push for. That's the fight that must be made.

"Al knows it and understands. We're on the same page. We must make the best fights happen because the fans are speaking, the media is speaking and the fighters want these fights. It's a matter of me sitting down with Al and talking it over. Al understands that."

Hernandez, Arslan in title fight

August, 14, 2014
Aug 14
1:24
PM ET
Cruiserweight titlist Yoan Pablo Hernandez returns to action after a nine-month layoff to defend his title for the fourth time when he faces former titleholder Firat Arslan on Saturday in Erfurt, Germany.

Hernandez (28-1, 14 KOs), the slick 29-year-old southpaw from Cuba who defected to Germany, was supposed to defend against Pawel Kolodziej on March 8 before the fight was postponed until March 29 and then canceled altogether because Hernandez was suffering from gastritis (a stomach lining infection) and unable to train.

Hernandez also has had other physical problems, including needing surgery to repair a broken hand that caused him to be out of action for 14 months, including most of 2013, when he fought just once.

Now Hernandez is back and said he feels good and is happy to have the issues behind him.

"I have trained careful with my focus being completely on the task ahead this Saturday night. I did not have this kind of focus for my last fights, as I had to battle many problems outside of the ring," Hernandez said at this week's final news conference. "I almost give up but my wife and my coach motivated me not to let myself go. Now, I am stronger than ever. [Saturday] will be my proving point."

Germany's Arslan (34-7-2, 21 KOs) is looking to regain a piece of the title at age 43. He gave titleholder Marco Huck a very tough fight in a highly competitive and action-packed November 2012 points loss but then was knocked out in the sixth round by Huck in their January rematch.

After rebounding with an eight-round decision win against a low-level opponent in June, Arslan landed the shot against Hernandez -- an easy fight to make because they are both promoted by Sauerland Event.

"I want to become the oldest cruiserweight champion of all time. I know that this is my last chance to glory and I did everything in preparation to make my dream come true," Arslan said. "Coach Fritz Sdunek is going to be my key factor against Hernandez. When I fought Huck for the second time, I made many mistakes, which are not going to happen again. You will see my best performance ever on Saturday."

Ruiz to face faded Liakhovich

August, 14, 2014
Aug 14
9:35
AM ET
A few notes from the boxing world:

" Heavyweight prospect Andy Ruiz Jr. (22-0, 16 KOs), 24, will headline a card on Sept. 20 (UniMas) in Phoenix against former world titleholder Sergei Liakhovich (26-6, 16 KOs), who lives in Arizona. Although Liakhovich is the first name opponent of Ruiz’s career, he is badly diminished. The 38-year-old, who is originally from Belarus, has lost three of his last four fights with each defeat coming by knockout, although he won his most recent fight by eight-round decision against the unknown Chad Davis, who was 5-11. When Liakhovich faced Deontay Wilder last August, Wilder knocked him out so severely in the first round that Liakhovich was on the canvas convulsing.

" Although there is no opponent set yet, the HBO target date for middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin’s next fight is Oct. 18. Golovkin (30-0, 27 KOs) retained his title for the 11th time on July 26, destroying former titlist Daniel Geale by third-round knockout.

" HBO announced that “The Fight Game With Jim Lampley,” a 30-minute boxing studio show that covers the top fights and issues in the sport, will return for a four-show run beginning Sept. 16 with additional episodes on Oct. 28, Nov. 18 and Dec. 23.

“I am excited to hit the ground running in September and deliver four more shows during what promises to be a robust time in the boxing season,” said Lampley, HBO’s blow-by-blow commentator. “We will continue to explore hot-button issues, sprinkle in some entertaining elements, and deliver comprehensive unfiltered discussion and analysis of the sport on this platform.”

" One week after claiming a vacant secondary middleweight title on Showtime, Daniel Jacobs, who knocked out Jarrod Fletcher in the fifth round at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, will be ringside to serve as a guest analyst for the network’s tripleheader topped by the mandatory fight between welterweight titlist Shawn Porter and Kell Brook from the StubHub Center in Carson, California, on Saturday night (9 ET/PT).

“How cool is that? Fighting one week on one coast on Showtime and then announcing the fights the very next week on Showtime from the other coast,” said Jacobs, who will sit in for regular analyst Paulie Malignaggi, who will miss the card for family reasons. “I love this. I think announcing fits me. To be able to do something like this, to be in this position, is very important to me. Other fighters have done it as well, of course, but for me to be able to follow in their footsteps is an honor. It shows that we can not only announce fights, but we can be good at it."

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