Dan Rafael: Breidis Prescott

Haymon signs more fighters

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

• Manager Al Haymon’s signing binge continues. He has signed welterweight Roberto Garcia and middleweight Caleb Truax, Sam Watson, Haymon’s right-hand man, told ESPN.com. They join a stable that includes more than 50 fighters, many of whom Haymon has signed this year. Garcia and Truax are both being featured on this week’s edition of “Friday Night Fights” on ESPN2 in Chicago. Garcia (35-3, 23 KOs) takes on Breidis Prescott (27-5, 20 KOs) in the main event and Truax (23-1-2, 14 KOs) meets Derek Ennis (24-4-1, 13 KOs) in the co-feature. Both fights are scheduled for 10 rounds.

• With the postponement on Monday of Saturday’s heavyweight rematch between British contenders Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora because Chisora fractured his left hand in his final sparring session, AWE, which was due to televise the card in the United States, has dropped its coverage plans. Although the Fury-Chisora II main event is off, the card is still going on but will not have American television coverage now.

• Iron Mike Productions announced a card that will take place at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Aug. 8 (Fox Sports 1) that will be headlined by hometown favorite Samuel Vasquez (15-0, 11 KOs) facing James Stevenson (21-0, 14 KOs) of Baltimore in a 10-round welterweight fight. Ievgen Khytrov (5-0, 5 KOs), a 2012 Olympian from Ukraine, is also on the card against Willie Fortune (17-1, 8 KOs) in a six-round middleweight fight.

Harris should not be fighting

March, 17, 2014
Mar 17
What is about to go down Saturday night in Monterrey, Mexico, is everything that is wrong with boxing. Vivian Harris is going to fight. He is taking on Jorge Paez Jr. in a fight that should not be taking place.

Paez was originally supposed to fight Erik Morales, but he hurt his hand and pulled out. Then the replacement opponent, Breidis Prescott, suffered a rib injury and also withdrew. That left Zanfer Promotions to find yet another option to keep the fight alive, and it came up with Harris.

Harris is a shot fighter. A badly shot fighter, who has not been a remote factor for about seven years. Ten years ago he was a top 140-pounder and held a version of a world title, which he still trades on to this day. It’s why a promoter, especially a desperate one in need of an opponent, will still put him on, even though he’s not that guy anymore -- or even close.

Harris is damaged goods. I don’t say that because I have read his medical reports. I say it because I’m not blind. Watch a recent fight. It doesn’t take a genius to know when a guy is not only done, but way past done and at risk of being seriously hurt because of the kind of hard head shots he takes with regularity.

In February, Harris (31-9-2, 19 KOs) was supposed to fight rising British prospect Bradley Skeete in London on the Dereck Chisora-Kevin Johnson undercard. But Harris failed his pre-fight medical exam and British regulators declined to license him for that reason. Harris was dropped from the card. He was saved from himself.

But the medical standards in Mexico, if you can even call them that, barely exist, so Harris getting a license to fight should pose little to no issue.

Why do you think the late Frankie Leal fought the last five fights of his career in Mexico after being destroyed by Evgeny Gradovich in Texas in 2012, causing him to spend more than three weeks in the hospital? It’s because Leal could no longer get licensed in the United States.

Leal got knocked out October in a fight against Raul Hirales in Mexico. He died from a brain injury suffered in the fight a few days later.

Since 2007, the 35-year-old Harris is 3-7-1 with one no contest. In six of those seven losses, Harris has been knocked out, sometimes badly knocked out. The no contest came about because of a wicked head butt that left Harris concussed and unable to continue.

The window dressing here is that Harris officially has won his past two fights, against a sub-.500 opponent and a split decision against Danny O’Connor, a solid pro, in what was in the view of most a horrendous robbery. Many believe O’Connor not only deserved the decision, but that he had won easily.

Those two bouts were in the United States, although at this stage I am not so sure Harris would be licensed in a state with decent pre-fight medical exams. But in Mexico, where suspensions in the United States or England are usually ignored, the standards are lax.

Hunt is on for a Burgos opponent

July, 10, 2013
A few notes from the boxing world:

• Junior lightweight contender Juan Carlos Burgos is in need of a new opponent for his fight on July 26 (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes). Burgos (30-1-1, 20 KOs), who fought to a disputed draw with titleholder Rocky Martinez in January, was due to face Daulis Prescott in a 12-round bout at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Sacramento, Calif. However, Prescott (26-2, 19 KOs), the brother of longtime junior welterweight and lightweight contender Breidis Prescott and a former featherweight title challenger, withdrew because of kidney stones.

• Promoter Rodney Berman has secured an American TV outlet for Saturday’s “Monte Carlo Million Dollar Super 4” final between super middleweight contender Edwin Rodriguez (23-0-0, 15 KOs) of Worcester, Mass., and light heavyweight contender Denis Grachev (13-1-1, 8 KOs), a San Diego-based Russian, who will meet at a catch weight of 171 pounds in Monaco. The card will be televised by beIN Sport beginning at 3 p.m. ET. beIN Sport, which bills itself as “the international sports channel,” carries mostly soccer and is available on several outlets in the United States, inclucing DirecTV, Dish Network, Comcast and AT&T U-Verse TV.

Also on the card, junior welterweight titlist Khabib Allakhverdiev (18-0, 8 KOs) of Russia makes a mandatory defense against France’s Soulemayne M’baye (40-4-1, 22 KOs), Max Bursak (26-1-1, 12 KOs) of Ukraine defends the European middleweight title against England’s Prince Arron (23-4-1, 5 KOs) and Dmytro Kuchar (21-0, 15 KOs) of Ukraine faces South Africa’s Ilunga Makabu (13-1-0, 13 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round cruiserweight bout.

• Famed broadcaster Col. Bob Sheridan, who has called more than 900 world title fights, has a history of heart trouble and is scheduled for triple bypass surgery on Monday. He’s already had five heart attacks and nearly died from pneumonia, but he’s still kicking and hopes to reach the 1,000 mark. Sheridan is in good spirits and, assuming all goes well, plans to be in New Zealand on Aug. 31 to work the broadcast of heavyweight David Tua (52-4-2, 43 KOs) against Alexander Ustinov (28-1, 21 KOs). Tua, the former title challenger and longtime contender, has not fought since a decision loss to Monte Barrett in their rematch in August 2011.

• The shakeup at HBO Sports continues under division president Ken Hershman as longtime director of programming Luis Ferrer, one of the deparment’s main boxing executives, is leaving. Ferrer, 41, had worked in boxing programmning at the network since 2004, although he took a leave of absence from September 2010 through December 2012 when he joined the army and served in Afghanistan. Ferrer, who is going to NBC Sports, is the second major programming executive to leave HBO Sports in the past month, joining his boss and senior vice president Kery Davis, who recently resigned.
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.

Crawford to face Prescott

March, 27, 2013
Opportunity knocked and Terrence Crawford answered the door.

The 25-year-old junior welterweight prospect was getting ready to face the unknown Robert Osiobe on the untelevised undercard of the much-anticipated Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado rematch on Saturday night (HBO, 10:15 ET/PT) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

But when junior welterweight titlist Khabib Allakhverdiev injured his elbow last week and was forced out of his defense against Breidis Prescott -- the televised co-feature -- Crawford was suddenly offered the opportunity of a lifetime.

With promoter Top Rank and HBO looking to salvage the opening TV fight, Crawford was given the opportunity to step in and take on Prescott. Crawford jumped at the chance.

Crawford (19-0, 15 KOs) was at home in Omaha, Neb., when co-manager Cameron Dunkin called to tell him about the fight.

“My reaction was, ‘OK, let’s go,’” Crawford said Tuesday. “I didn’t hesitate or nothing. I felt like it’s the time. I’m just ready, ready to get in there and display my talents.

Prescott is tall and rangy and everybody knows he's a big puncher. He's tough. He's a good fighter but I feel like I can be in there with anybody. I feel like I got the skills, the talent...

-- Terrence Crawford on Breidis Prescott, his opponent on Saturday.
“I had been training hard for Osiobe and camp was going real good. I feel strong, so this was the right time to take this fight. But I was really surprised. It just came out of the blue. But I feel like everything happens for a reason and they called my phone for a reason. This fight was meant to be. This opportunity is coming at the right time for me. I feel like I deserve the shot.”

So instead of facing Osiobe for $15,000 with few watching, Crawford will earn $125,000 to face Prescott (26-4, 20 KOs) in the co-feature of a major fight on national television with a chance to launch his career.

“I never take a fighter lightly and I’m just excited to be in this position to make a name for myself,” said Crawford, who served as a sparring partner for Timothy Bradley Jr. when he was a junior welterweight titlist and defeated such notable fighters as Danny Garcia, Diego Magdaleno, Mikey Garcia and Carlos Molina during his amateur career.

While Crawford and trainer/co-manager Brian McIntyre were all for the fight with Prescott, Dunkin -- a notoriously nervous manager -- was hesitant. Prescott is a bigger man -- Crawford has fought mainly as a lightweight -- with loads of experience and excellent power. But Dunkin is most concerned because the fight is on such short notice.

“I am concerned about Terrance, but not because I don’t believe in him,” Dunkin said. “I’ve been with him since his first pro fight. I love him. I’m concerned because the other guy has a lot of experience and is bigger. Terrence is really a 135-pounder. Prescott is a serious guy. He’s a world class guy. He’s a world championship level fighter. If we had another six or seven weeks to prepare, I’d feel a lot better.

“But my job was to offer him the fight. I know it’s a very scary fight. (Top Rank’s Bob) Arum told me the money and I called up Crawford and told him about the fight and there was no hesitation. He wanted to fight on HBO and he knew it was a great opportunity because if he beats Prescott, that puts his career at a whole different level. To (Crawford’s) credit, it wasn’t the money. He was excited to get on HBO. He didn’t say anything about the money. I told him what it was but it wasn’t the money that set him off. He just kept saying how excited he was to be fighting on HBO.”

Prescott, 29, of Colombia, is a seasoned veteran contender who is a quantum leap up in competition level for Crawford, who will be fighting his first scheduled 10-rounder.

Among the several quality opponents Prescott has faced, he owns a memorable first-round knockout against Amir Khan and was way ahead of Alvarado in their 2011 fight before being stopped in the 10th and final round.

“Prescott is tall and rangy and everybody knows he’s a big puncher,” Crawford said. “He’s tough. He’s a good fighter but I feel like I can be in there with anybody. I feel like I got the skills, the talent, I’m dedicated in the gym, put my all into my workouts. I’m ready to take on anybody.

“This fight is going to boost my career to right where it should be, in the mix for a title fight. (Boxing fans) can expect a show from me on Saturday.”