Dan Rafael: Brandon Gonzalez

Molina added to Ward-Rodriguez

October, 25, 2013
Former lightweight title challenger John Molina, super middleweight Brandon Gonzalez and former junior middleweight titlist Sergio Mora will appear in separate bouts on the undercard of super middleweight champion Andre Ward’s return, promoter Dan Goossen announced this week.

Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), returning from a 14-month layoff because of a shoulder injury, is the main attraction as he defends his title against top contender Edwin Rodriguez (24-0, 16 KOs) on Nov. 16 (HBO) at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif., in the main event. Molina and Gonzalez highlight the undercard, although HBO will carry only the main event.

Molina (26-3, 21 KOs), who will face an opponent to be named in an eight-round bout, is just 2-2 in his past four bouts, but usually brings some drama to his fights. He got knocked out in 44 seconds by then-lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco in September 2012 on Ward’s last undercard but returned for an impressive fourth-round knockout of Dannie Williams in January. Then came a tight majority decision loss to Andrey Klimov. But Molina got back on track again in July with a dramatic come-from-behind 10th-round knockout of Mickey Bey in the final minute of the fight.

Gonzalez (17-0-1, 10 KOs), who shares trainer Virgil Hunter with Ward, is due to face Jonathan Nelson (19-0, 9 KOs), who beat Gonzalez in a 2006 amateur meeting. Gonzalez is coming off his biggest fight, a disappointing 10-round draw with Thomas Oosthuizen on HBO in June.

Mora is on the card because his new promoter, Lou DiBella, also promotes Rodriguez and got a slot for a fight on the card as part of the deal. Mora (24-3-2, 7 KOs), who faces Colombia’s Milton Nunez (26-8-1, 24 KOs) in an eight-round middleweight fight, is 3-3-1 in his past six bouts but is coming off a solid win against former European champion Grzegorz Proksa in June.

In another undercard fight, 2012 Mexican Olympian Oscar Molina (6-0, 5 KOs and no relation to John) takes on Carlos Sanchez (6-4, 2 KOs) in a six-rounder.
Andy LeeChris Farina/Top RankAndy Lee is looking for his second straight victory after losing to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
A little of this and a little of that from the boxing world:

• Middleweight contender Andy Lee (29-2, 20 KOs), 28, of Ireland, gets back in action May 15 on promoter Lou DiBella’s Broadway Boxing card at B.B. King Blues Club in New York. Lee will be seeking his second win in a row following his seventh-round knockout loss to then-titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in June. Lee will face Darryl Cunningham (28-4, 11 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round bout. It will be Lee’s second fight since the untimely death of longtime trainer and close friend Emanuel Steward. Lee has since moved his base from Steward’s hometown of Detroit back to the United Kingdom to train with Adam Booth.

"I'm very much looking forward to this fight,” Lee said. “Having lived in New York for two years, I know firsthand what a great fight town it is. The New York fight fans are a very knowledgeable crowd, and I intend on putting on a first-class performance for them. I want to thank my promoter Lou DiBella for giving me this chance to showcase my skills as I look to rebuild myself into title contention.”

• When featherweight titlist Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia makes his first defense against Juan Manuel Lopez on June 15 in Dallas, the HBO co-feature will feature Terence Crawford in a lightweight fight against Alejandro Sanabria (34-1-1, 25 KOs) of Mexico, according to Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti. Crawford (20-0, 15 KOs), 25, of Omaha, Neb., had his coming-out party March 30 when he filled in as a late substitute to face junior welterweight Breidis Prescott on the HBO-televised co-feature of the Mike Alvarado-Brandon Rios rematch. Crawford dominated, but when he faces Sanabria, he will drop down to his more natural lightweight division, Moretti said.

• Welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s lopsided decision win against interim titlist Robert Guerrero in Saturday’s Showtime PPV main event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas will be replayed on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT). The telecast will open with a replay of Abner Mares' ninth-round knockout of Daniel Ponce De Leon to win a featherweight world title, the third weight class in the past three years that Mares has won a championship in.

• The hunt for an opponent for Cleveland junior middleweight contender Willie Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KOs) is, at last, over. After weeks of back-and-forth between DiBella, Nelson’s promoter, and HBO, they finally settled on Argentina native Luciano Cuello (32-2, 16 KOs), who will face Nelson on June 29 in the opening bout of an HBO tripleheader at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs) defends against Matthew Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs) in the main event with super middleweights Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0-1, 13 KOs) and Brandon Gonzalez (17-0, 10 KOs) meeting in the co-feature. Cuello’s only two losses came against well-known Mexican stars before they won their world titles -- a unanimous 10-round decision to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2009 and a sixth-round knockout against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in 2010.

• Junior welterweight titlist Khabib Allakhverdiev (18-0, 8 KOs) will make his first defense, a mandatory, against former titlist Souleymane M'baye (40-4-1, 22 KOs) on July 13 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Allakhverdiev was supposed to defend his title for the first time against Prescott on March 30 on HBO on the Alvarado-Rios II undercard, but he injured his right elbow and withdrew. The fight will be on the same card as the final of the Monaco Million Dollar Super Four final between Denis Grachev (13-1-1, 8 KOs) and Edwin Rodriguez (23-0, 15 KOs), who will meet at a catchweight of 171 pounds because Grachev is a light heavyweight and Rodriguez is a super middleweight. In the March 30 semifinals in Monte Carlo, Grachev advanced with a decision win against former light heavyweight titlist Zsolt Erdei and Rodriguez outpointed Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna.

• Covina, Calif., lightweight John Molina (25-2, 20 KOs) is on the comeback trail seeking his second win in a row following his 44-second knockout loss to Antonio DeMarco in a September world title fight. Molina, who rebounded for a fourth-round knockout win against Dannie Williams in January, will face Andrey Klimov (15-0, 8 KOs) of Russia in a scheduled 10-rounder on June 7 at the Little Creek Casino and Resort in Kamilche, Wash., in the main event of ESPN2’s "Friday Night Fights,” promoter Dan Goossen announced. In the super middleweight co-feature, Farah Ennis (20-1, 12 KOs) of Philadelphia meets Anthony Hanshaw (23-2-2, 14 KOs) of High Point, N.C.

Golovkin-Macklin close, plus more

April, 10, 2013
Here's the lowdown on a bunch of fights that are either set, in the works or falling apart:

• Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs) of Kazakhstan and former title challenger Matthew Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs) of Great Britain have a deal in principle to fight June 29 in the main event of an HBO tripleheader, according to both camps. The fight likely will be finalized in the coming days and could be announced as soon as Saturday at a news conference in New York, where many boxing writers will be covering the Nonito Donaire-Guillermo Rigondeaux junior featherweight unification bout. No site is set yet, but the Foxwoods resort in Mashantucket, Conn., is the front-runner to host.

The co-feature will pit South African super middleweight Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0-1, 13 KOs) against Sacramento's Brandon Gonzalez (17-0, 10 KOs). The fight has been agreed to but isn't yet signed. The opener will feature Cleveland junior middleweight Willie Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KOs), although promoter Lou DiBella and HBO have been arguing over an opponent for days.

• Fresh off his junior lightweight title defense against Diego Magdaleno in Macau, China, last Saturday, Roman "Rocky" Martinez (27-1-2, 16 KOs) is looking toward his next defense. It could come against former featherweight titlist Orlando Salido (39-12-2, 27 KOs) in September in Martinez's native Puerto Rico, according to Salido's manager, Sean Gibbons. Salido, who lost his featherweight belt to Mikey Garcia in January, will fight June 1 in Mexico or June 15 in Puerto Rico before the possible bout with Martinez.

• Light heavyweights Tony Bellew (19-1-1, 12 KOs) of England and Isaac Chilemba (20-1-2, 9 KOs) of South Africa will meet in a rematch May 25 in London on the undercard of the Mikkel Kessler-Carl Froch super middleweight title rematch, according to Chilemba's promoter, Lou DiBella, who said he made a deal with Bellew promoter Eddie Hearn. Once again, Bellew and Chilemba will fight for the right to become champion Chad Dawson's mandatory challenger. Bellew and Chilemba met on March 30 in Bellew's hometown of Liverpool, England, and fought to a draw.

• The third fight between cruiserweight titlist Marco Huck (35-2-1, 25 KOs) and interim titlist Ola Afolabi (19-2-4, 9 KOs) is scheduled for May 11 in Germany, and both fighter camps say their man is training. However, promoter Don King, who doesn't handle either fighter yet won the purse bid for a whopping $1.5 million, still doesn't have a specific site or a television deal, leading both sides to believe the fight won't come off as scheduled. According to the Afolabi camp, the WBO, which is sanctioning the bout, has given King a Wednesday deadline to produce signed contracts for the fight or he will forfeit his right to promote the bout.

• Lightweight Ameth Diaz (31-11, 22 KOs) of Panama will travel to Martin Gethin's hometown of Walsall, England, for a lightweight title eliminator on May 24. Diaz was supposed to face Marvin Quintero in the eliminator on April 5 in Santa Ynez, Calif., but Quintero suffered a broken nose, needed surgery and withdrew from the fight. Since Quintero was unavailable, Gethin (24-3-1, 11 KOs) was the next available contender in the IBF's rankings for the eliminator. The Diaz-Gethin winner will become the mandatory challenger for Miguel Vazquez.

• Featherweight titlist Evgeny Gradovich (16-0, 8 KOs) of Russia will make his first defense against mandatory challenger Mauricio Munoz (26-3, 12 KOs) of Argentina. An April 16 purse bid was canceled after the sides made a deal. Top Rank, Gradovich's promoter, plans to put the fight on in June or July, probably on the undercard of featherweight titlist Mikey Garcia's first defense.

• The promoters for junior lightweights Rances Barthelemy (18-0, 11 KOs), a Miami-based Cuba native, and Thailand's Fahsi Sakkreerin (39-3-1, 21 KOs) reached an agreement for their title elimination bout. Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules told ESPN.com that the sides have agreed on the terms and that the fight will be promoted in the United States this summer. The Barthelemy-Sakkreerin winner will become the mandatory challenger for 130-pound titlist Argenis Mendez.

Golovkin close to fighting Macklin

April, 3, 2013

Now that middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin is safely through his Saturday fight -- having absolutely drilled Nobuhiro Ishida in the third round in a knockout-of-the-year candidate -- attention can turn to a more serious fight for the man called “GGG.”

Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs) is slated to be back in action June 29 at a site to be determined (likely on the East Coast) to headline an HBO tripleheader. He will be making his eighth title defense and fighting for the third time already this year. Golovkin’s opponent will likely be the one I have been hoping it would be (and the one HBO wants): Great Britain’s Matthew Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs).

Promoter Lou DiBella said both fighters have accepted the bout, and he is working to finalize the details with K2 promoter Tom Loeffler.

I see no possible way this can’t be an exciting fight. Golovkin is one of the most fan-friendly fighters on the planet and is in such a groove right now it is scary. Macklin is a quality contender who is also a regular crowd pleaser.

Although Macklin is just 1-2 in his last three fights, let’s go beyond the record. In June 2011, he lost a split decision in a world title fight to Felix Sturm on Sturm’s turf in Germany. Macklin was robbed, simple as that. He won, and did so rather easily in my view, but was absolutely ripped off.

His performance against Sturm was so good that it got him a shot at Sergio Martinez, the legitimate 160-pound champion. They met in March 2012 at the Madison Square Garden Theater in New York and produced a compelling and competitive fight. Macklin dropped Martinez in the seventh round before being stopped in the 11th round. Then, in Macklin’s ring return, he starched former junior middleweight titlist Joachim Alcine in the first round on the Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. undercard last September.

Macklin is a worthy opponent for Golovkin, who has not had any other top middleweight contenders or titleholders show a willingness to face him. So props to Macklin for taking the fight a few months after he and Golovkin went back and forth a bit on Twitter about the proposed fight. Now DiBella and Loeffler are finishing a few details, DiBella said.

The two other featured fighters on the card are supposed to be Cleveland junior middleweight Willie Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KOs), who is on a very nice run and looking quite formidable, and super middleweight contender Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0, 13 KOs), a lanky lefty from South Africa.

Nelson, who is starting to win me over, doesn’t have an opponent yet. He has beaten three solid opponents in a row. He is coming off a blazing first-round destruction of Michael Medina on March 1. But before that, he upset John Jackson (one of former champ Julian Jackson’s sons) on the Martinez-Chavez Jr. undercard and also outpointed former Cuban amateur standout Yudel Jhonson.

Oosthuizen is my kind of fighter. He has skills and size (and a good chin) but is also more than willing to take two shots to give one. He’s a crowd pleaser.

DiBella and promoter Dan Goossen are trying to close the deal to match Oosthuizen and Brandon Gonzalez (17-0, 10 KOs), of Sacramento, Calif. Gonzalez recently withdrew from an April 12 ESPN2 undercard fight because of a hamstring problem, but he is expected to be just fine to lace 'em up for June 29.