Dan Rafael: Gary Russell Jr.

The featherweight division is getting hot, and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum plans to take advantage of that.

On May 31 in Macau, Arum promoted a card on which Nonito Donaire won a 126-pound world title via fifth-round technical decision against Simpiwe Vetyeka in the main event. On the undercard two other featherweight titleholders promoted by Arum -- Evgeny Gradovich and Nicholas Walters -- looked good in title defenses of a show that was appropriately dubbed “Featherweight Fury.”

Then this past Saturday night, Vasyl Lomachenko, the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, looked sensational as he outpointed Gary Russell Jr. in surprisingly easy fashion to win a vacant featherweight belt in just his third professional fight. That achievement matched the all-time boxing record for fewest fights to a title.

Throw in the fact that Top Rank also is talking to the handlers of titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez and has a good relationship with the Vetyeka camp and there are a lot of quality matchups that can be made in the division -– and made rather easily.

Arum intends to put some of those fights together, with Donaire and Lomachenko as the centerpieces.

“Lomachenko is a great fighter; that’s what we’ve been saying,” Arum said. “HBO is very high on him, and now we have the opportunity to put together a quasi-tournament with all of these great featherweights. Featherweight happens to be a loaded division. There are some big names in the division, and they don’t bust the bank like some of these fighters do in other divisions, so the matches are makeable as far from a money standpoint.”

Arum said he will soon talk to HBO about the direction it wants to go, but he said some of the fights will happen beginning later this year.

“I need to talk to the HBO guys and to the fighters, and we need to see who’s willing to fight who. Who would like to fight who? What fights HBO wants,” Arum said. “There are a lot of things to discuss, but I want to make these fights and HBO has indicated to us that they are interested and looking very heavily at the featherweight division.

“It gives them the opportunity -– for not crazy money -- to do some good, high-profile fights. A lot of people think Lomachenko is the best of the featherweights. You have Donaire there. He’s a great fighter. I know HBO is excited about it. So we’ll sit down and figure out how to proceed.”
Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl LomachenkoGene Blevins/Hoganphotos/Golden BoyAlthough it came together thanks to a purse bid, Saturday's Gary Russell Jr.-Vasyl Lomachenko bout could go down as the beginning of a new relationship between promoters Golden Boy and Top Rank.
Now that Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya and Top Rank boss Bob Arum are cozy again, and both say that they are willing to do business with each other, it seems as though this particular boxing cold war is over.

A lot of interesting fights are probably still off the table if adviser Al Haymon, whose relationship with Arum has been in the toilet for years, is involved -- but whatever fighters are under contract to Golden Boy can probably be matched now with Top Rank if it makes sense.

A few months before De La Hoya and Arum made peace, Golden Boy won a purse bid for the vacant featherweight title bout between Garry Russell Jr. (a Haymon fighter, by the way) and Vasyl Lomachenko, the two-time Olympic gold medalist with Arum.

The purse bid paved the way for Golden Boy to take control of the fight, which is part of a Showtime tripleheader Saturday night (10 ET), without having to involve Top Rank. But maybe now that De La Hoya and Arum are on good terms more fights like this can happen in the future, especially now that Richard Schaefer, who opposed working with Top Rank, has resigned as Golden Boy CEO.

Now, keep in mind, Arum and Haymon aren't about to begin matching their fighters together, so a lot of good fights are clearly still off the table. But, hey, this is a start.

Russell said he was glad that his fight with Lomachenko, although done under a purse bid, has helped break the ice.

"Honestly, it's a big honor to break the cycle of the Al Haymon and Bob Arum/Top Rank and Golden Boy dissent, because I think you have these great fighters on both sides of the fence that the fans would love to see," he said. "Now it's a possibility to fulfill them or give them a possibility to see it.

"I think it's a big breakthrough for me and Lomachenko to be able to be one of the first to actually do it, and hopefully this will open the door for a lot of the other fights that the fans would want to see take place."

Golden Boy did not have to involve Top Rank in the promotion at all and Lomachenko could have refused to participate in any way. But both camps have done their part, making it a seemingly friendly, drama-free promotion.

Moretti said a lot of the cold war stuff is overblown.

"I think that's what the media and social media likes to jump on but, you know, at the end of the day, I just can't see in the middle of the sixth round guys rooting for Al or Bob," Moretti said. "It's a fight, and the fight Lomachenko has to worry about is Gary Russell and Gary Russell has got to worry about Lomachenko, and anything other than that is just Twitter talk, which people seem to love lately."

De La Hoya has been saying for weeks -- since his meeting of the minds with Arum -- that he wants to promote fights with any promoter that can help him make the biggest bouts for his fighters.

"I think it's wonderful to hear from a fighter like Gary Russell that he wants to engage in these big, major fights, regardless of promoters," De La Hoya said. "That's what it's really all about. It's not about promoters and egos. It's about the fighters and the fans. So, I'm optimistic that in the near future the fight fans will get what they deserve."

Porter-Brook headed to Aug. 9

June, 11, 2014
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Despite Richard Schaefer’s resignation as Golden Boy Promotions CEO last week those at the company say it’s business as usual.

There are fights to arrange and cards to promote. President Oscar De La Hoya, fresh off his Sunday induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, is coming into the office regularly and working on events.

The company is promoting a June 21 Showtime tripleheader at the StubHub Center in Carson, California -- welterweight Robert Guerrero’s return against Yoshihiro Kamegai, Vasyl Lomachenko against Gary Russell Jr. for a vacant featherweight title and former welterweight titlist Devon Alexander against Jesus Soto Karass -- and also working on other events later in the summer.

One date in the works is tentatively an Aug. 9 Showtime card at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

One of the fights ticketed for that show is welterweight titlist Shawn Porter’s mandatory defense against England’s Kell Brook. Golden Boy and Brook promoter Eddie Hearn reached an agreement and a purse bid scheduled for last week was canceled, according to the IBF and Golden Boy vice president and matchmaker Eric Gomez.

“We have a verbal agreement, but there are still some little issues,” Gomez told ESPN.com. “But we have enough of an agreement that (the IBF) was comfortable enough to call off the purse bid. The date we’re shooting for is Aug. 9 but that could change. We have to dot our I’s and cross our T’s but everything is moving in the right direction.”

Several other potential bouts have been mentioned as possibilities for the card. One of them is a fight between Daniel Jacobs of Brooklyn, New York and Jarrod Fletcher of Australia for a vacant secondary middleweight title (since Gennady Golovkin was made a “super champion” by an organization).

Junior welterweight champ Danny Garcia has also been mentioned for the card as has junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson. (No, they are not fighting each other.)

But Garcia could also wind up fighting in September instead, according to Gomez.

Golden Boy also has addressed the mandatory defense of lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa against Daniel Estrada. A purse bid had been scheduled for June 6 in Mexico City, but Gomez said the sides made a deal.

“We have a deal in place but no date just yet,” he said.

Showtime, Top Rank still at odds

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
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When Oscar De La Hoya was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday in Canastota, New York, he brought up the ongoing promotional battles that have bogged down the sport and prevented some significant fights that fans have wanted to see.

"We must put aside the egos that have damaged our brand and sullied our reputation," he said during his remarks. "We, the promoters, must stop carrying petty grudges that serve no purpose but to divide our sport. And most important, we must give the fans the fights that they want."

De La Hoya is seemingly doing his part. He has reconciled with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, and they both claim they want to do business together again after years of battles. De La Hoya’s desire to work with Arum again was one of the many issues that came between him and Richard Schaefer, who resigned last week as Golden Boy’s CEO; he didn’t want to work with Arum again.

But for anyone who thinks that all is now well, don’t fool yourself. There is still massive pettiness, and it spilled over Tuesday when Showtime Sports boss Stephen Espinoza apparently barred Arum from participating on a media teleconference to promote a Showtime-televised June 21 fight between Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko, who meet for a vacant featherweight title.

Golden Boy, representing Russell, won the rights to the fight in a purse bid before De La Hoya and Arum made up. Golden Boy could have put on the fight without involving Top Rank in anything. But because De La Hoya and Arum have made up, Golden Boy invited Arum to participate in the teleconference to promote the fight. It is common practice for fighters on these calls to be represented by somebody from their promotional company, whether it’s a co-promotion or not.

But, according to Top Rank, Espinoza barred Arum. But it’s not like he barred Top Rank, because Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti participated.

“Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank, was scheduled to be on the Vasyl Lomachenko conference call,” Top Rank's spokesman Lee Samuel said. “Stephen Espinoza requested that Arum not be on the call. Carl Moretti will replace Arum.”

Espinoza, on his Twitter account and not to mention time and again in interviews, has stated he is open to working with Top Rank, even though based on the fights he has scheduled it is obvious he has no interest in that at all.

Tuesday’s action made it even more obvious even if Showtime tried to spin that fact in a statement given by email to ESPN.com by spokesman Chris DeBlasio.

“Neither Bob Arum, nor Stephen Espinoza were scheduled to be on [Tuesday’s] media conference call,” DeBlasio wrote. “The June 21 ‘Showtime Championship Boxing’ event is promoted by Golden Boy and, collectively with Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions, we agreed that this was not a platform on which any other promotional outfit belongs. This call is about the fighters on this card that are preparing for important, and competitive fights."

That’s all well and good, but De La Hoya wanted Arum to be on the call. Arum was ticked off by the situation.

“Obviously, I was supposed to be on the call, and Espinoza objected,” Arum told ESPN.com. “It’s the same petty stupidity. It’s the same old, same old. Oscar wants to open everything up and to do business to do the best fights. He sincerely wants that. People like Espinoza are an impediment to that. The fact that I do my fights with HBO means nothing. I’m doing a fight here with Golden Boy because they won the purse bid. Back when we did [Vanes Martirosyan-Erislandy Lara] and we won the purse bid we acknowledged Golden Boy was the promoter of Lara and showed them respect. That’s how it’s done. But it goes back to Espinoza’s mean-spirited nature.

“Golden Boy asked me to be on the call, and Espinoza said no. He decided that I’m not a co-promoter and I shouldn’t be on the call. But it is personally directed at me because he didn’t say Moretti shouldn’t be on the call. He’s afraid of my renewed relationship with Oscar. It’s inexcusable behavior. What does he gain by doing something like that?”

To think that the lineup of speakers on a conference call would turn into a controversy just shows how ridiculous the petty business of boxing often can be.
On Tuesday, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer announced what looks like a highly competitive tripleheader scheduled for June 21 (Showtime) at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

And on Wednesday, the participants made some comments on the card, which will be headlined by the return of welterweight contender Robert Guerrero (in his first fight since a loss last May to champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.) to face Yoshihiro Kamegai. Gary Russell Jr. faces Vasyl Lomachenko for a vacant featherweight belt, and former welterweight and junior welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander, looking to rebound from the loss of his welterweight title to Shawn Porter in December, will face Jesus Soto Karass.

Here’s what the participants had to say:

Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KOs): "I'm excited to be making my ring return on June 21, especially for my fans in California. Although I've been out for a while, make no mistake about it, I'm in great shape. I'm hungry, and I'm looking forward to the challenge Kamegai presents. I am just happy to be fighting again while bringing excitement to the hottest division in boxing, the welterweight division. I have no doubt that I will be victorious in my return."

Kamegai (24-1-1, 21 KOs): "It's good to fight in the United States again at StubHub Center, especially after I was treated so well by the fans there the first time (in a decision loss to Johan Perez last June). This time though, I'm going to get the win. While Robert Guerrero is a great fighter, I will be better than him on June 21."

Russell (24-0, 14 KOs): "This is the moment I've been waiting for, and now it is time to show the world my boxing skills and talent. Lomachenko's reputation speaks for itself. I respect him as a fighter, but he doesn't know what he is about to face fighting me. He's going to find out that I'm on a whole different level, and come June 21, that belt is going to be mine to take home."

Lomachenko (1-1, 1 KO): "I know how good Gary Russell is, and it's going to be a good fight for the fans on June 21. I learned a lot from my (loss in a March title fight to) Orlando Salido, and I will be the best I can against Russell. I want that world title, and I plan on taking it."

Alexander (25-2, 14 KOs): "I had a nice break after my last fight and it allowed me to regroup, recharge my batteries, and get ready for another run at the title. Soto Karass is a tough guy, there's no denying that, but tough won't be enough when we fight. I'm a man on a mission now, and he's in the way."

Soto Karass (28-9-3, 18 KOs): "Devon Alexander is fast and slick, and you have to respect his skills, but if he doesn't respect mine, he's going to get knocked out. And even if he does respect me, I'm going to beat him on June 21 and get back in line for a title fight."
Golden Boy Promotions already has the vacant featherweight title bout between Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko penciled in for a June 21 Showtime card at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., but it is also planning to add two more of its high-profile fighters to the show.

Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com that besides Russell-Lomachenko, which the company won the right to promote in a purse bid, he is also hoping to add bouts involving welterweight Robert Guerrero and featherweight Abner Mares to make it a tripleheader.

Golden Boy and Guerrero, who has not fought since a one-sided decision loss to Floyd Mayweather in a May 2013 welterweight title fight, have been at odds. Guerrero has been trying to break his contract with the company, but his recent signing with adviser Al Haymon probably will alleviate that issue. Schaefer said he hopes Guerrero and the company can work things out and that he will fight on the show.

Mares lost his featherweight belt by first-round knockout in a big upset to Jhonny Gonzalez in August and was supposed to meet him in a February rematch, but it was scrapped after Mares suffered a rib injury in training and not rescheduled.

They might fight again later in the year, but Mares will instead fight before that happens. June 21 could be the date, Schaefer said. Mares manager Frank Espinoza told ESPN.com that he hoped to work out a deal for Mares to fight on that card.

Lomachenko keeps 60 percent cut

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
6:20
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Vasyl LomachenkoChris Farina/Top RankVasyl Lomachenko will take a bigger chunk of the purse if he fights Gary Russell Jr. in June.

When Golden Boy Promotions beat rival Top Rank by a ridiculously slim margin of $2,250 to win the purse bid for the vacant featherweight title bout between Gary Russell Jr. and Vasyl Lomachenko with an offer of $1,052,000, it thought the purse split would be 50-50.

However, the WBO, the sanctioning body involved, said that Lomachenko (1-1, 1 KO) would be due 60 percent of the winning offer ($631,350), with Russell (24-0, 14 KOs) getting 40 percent ($420,900).

The reason is because of a rule the WBO has that clearly states “if the fight is held in the country of origin, residence or nationality of one of the contenders, the resident contestant shall receive 40% and his opponent shall receive 60% of the total purse offered.”

Since Golden Boy intends to stage the bout on June 21 in Carson, Calif. -- Russell’s home country, since he is from Capitol Heights, Md. -- Lomachenko, the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, is entitled to the larger share of the purse.

However, Golden Boy appealed that ruling to the WBO, claiming that Lomachenko is a resident of the United States because of an address he lists in Marina Del Rey, Calif. Top Rank, Lomachenko’s promoter, said that he is a resident of Ukraine. The WBO sided with Top Rank and upheld the 60-40 split Thursday.

Now it remains unclear if Russell will still go through with the fight.

Here, in part, is how the WBO explained it in its official ruling:

“As part of the process of reviewing (Golden Boy’s) petition, we reached out to Mr. Egis Klimas, Mr. Lomachenko’s manager, who provided us with a copy of his fighter’s Ukrainian passport, Ukrainian driver’s license and, more importantly, a copy of his P-1 (internationally recognized athlete) Visa,” WBO attorney Luis Batista-Salas wrote in his ruling. “This P-1 classification applies to athletes that are coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform at a specific competition, at an internationally recognized level of performance. Mr. Lomachenko has not applied for ‘green card’ or permanent resident status in the United States."

“In addition to this, Klimas explained that the Marina Del Rey property alluded to by Golden Boy as a sign of Lomachenko’s residence, is used solely as an address for notifications, such as medical bills, receiving licensing and other relevant documentation. In fact, Klimas stated that not once has Lomachenko spent a night in this unit and that during his two previous training camps, they used various short-term rental properties in different locations. In support of this, we received copies of three lease agreements (two of the properties are in Marina Del Rey, CA, one is in Big Bear Lake, CA, and the other in Playa del Rey, CA) -- all of which identify Mr. Klimas, and not Lomachenko as the lessee and primary temporary occupant.

“In conclusion, having trained in the United States in advance of his two previous boxing contests (which also took place in the United States) does not make Mr. Lomachenko a resident of the United States. Moreover, we take the documentation provided on behalf of Mr. Lomachenko as evidence affirming his status as a citizen and permanent resident of Ukraine, rendering him a contender of foreign ‘origin, residence or nationality’ as per the (WBO rule).

“Now, therefore, according to our regulations, this WBO world championship committee denies Golden Boy’s petition that the purse be divided in equal parts between Russell, Jr. and Lomachenko and further determines that Mr. Lomachenko is entitled to 60% of the purse amount since this championship contest is not taking place in his country of origin, nationality or residence, but that of his opponent.”

Russell has the right to appeal the decision within 10 days, but it’s very clear the WBO is not going to make a change as Lomachenko is indeed a resident of Ukraine.

Purse bid for Lomachenko-Russell

April, 16, 2014
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Given that featherweight Vasyl Lomachenko is promoted by Top Rank and Gary Russell Jr. works with Golden Boy (although he is not under contract), it is no surprise that the sides have not engaged in a negotiation for the vacant title bout they have been ordered to meet in.

With no deal in the works, the WBO has ordered a purse bid, which is scheduled to take place Friday at noon ET in Orlando, Fla., according to Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti. Orlando is the site of Top Rank’s UniMas-televised fight card Saturday night, and since the card includes a WBO regional title bout, organization officials as well as Top Rank personnel will be on hand.

Lomachenko (1-1, 1 KO), the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, and manager Egis Klimas both say they are eager for the fight with Russell. Whether Russell (24-0, 14 KOs), a 2008 U.S. Olympian, and adviser Al Haymon are interested in the bout remains to be seen.

The title became vacant when Orlando Salido was stripped for not making weight for a March 1 defense against Lomachenko, who then lost a split decision to Salido, leaving the belt vacant.

“There are not a lot of expectations from either side [on making a deal], so the purse bid was called and we’ll see how it will unfold there,” Moretti said.

Picking Mayweather-Alvarez

September, 11, 2013
9/11/13
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LAS VEGAS -- Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Canelo Alvarez is the biggest fight of the year, but if you look at the picks compiled by Showtime, Mayweather is the overwhelming favorite to win Saturday night’s pay-per-view headliner at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Showtime polled 69 fighters and media members. The result was 60 picks for Mayweather, seven for Alvarez and two picked a draw.

Here’s a look at how some of the fighters see the fight:

• Mike Tyson: "I've only seen Canelo fight twice -- against [Josesito] Lopez and [Austin] Trout. Trout gave him some trouble and he isn't as experienced and as technically skilled as Floyd is. Floyd stays in tip-top shape and is a very relaxed fighter. He is at his peak. It's going to be hard for anybody to beat Floyd now unless he doesn't train. Floyd has transcended the game so much that the best fighters out there now try to emulate his style. Floyd wins by a decision."

• Lennox Lewis: "Mayweather will win because of his speed and experience. He's been at this level before so that will also be an advantage. He's the best until proven otherwise. Canelo is talented, young, strong and dangerous -- makes it all the more exciting."

• Zab Judah: "Mayweather is too fast and has great timing. I just don't see Canelo hitting him. I don't see Canelo being able to do anything to Floyd."

• Adrien Broner: "Floyd Mayweather will win by KO in the late rounds.”

• Paulie Malignaggi: "You can't count Canelo out because he's a natural junior middleweight, so he has a chance. But at the end of the day it's Mayweather winning on points."

• Cristobal Arreola: "[Mayweather has] the experience and he's been in a lot of big fights before. That is not to say Canelo hasn't, but Mayweather has been in more and knows what to do in a fight of this magnitude. I think Canelo took this fight two fights too soon. Mayweather by decision."

• Seth Mitchell: "Floyd's boxing IQ is just too great. His offense, defense is just too good."

• Rafael Marquez: "The winner of this fight is the boxer with the most intelligence and power, and I hope it is going to be Canelo."

• Gary Russell Jr.: "In order for Floyd to beat Canelo, he has to keep Canelo on the outside and outbox him and pot shot him. Floyd needs to make it clear that he's landing the cleaner and more effective punches. For Canelo to win, he needs to make the fight ugly and finish his combinations with a hook. He has to make it ugly and rough for Floyd. If Canelo makes it close, he will win."

• Carlos Molina: "At first it looks like Mayweather's experience and speed will be too much for Canelo. But then you think about it and Canelo is young and strong. This is boxing. You just never know. I would say at this point it is 60-40 Mayweather."

• Lucas Matthysse: "If the fight goes the distance then Floyd Mayweather will win. But if Canelo Alvarez fights intelligently, he could win the fight."

Mayweather-Alvarez in theaters

July, 31, 2013
7/31/13
12:46
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A few notes from the boxing world:

•  Fans who like watching the biggest pay-per-view fights at a movie theater can do so again for the year's biggest bout, the Sept. 14 junior middleweight unification bout between pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Canelo Alvarez. NCM Fathom Events and Golden Boy Promotions have partnered in recent years to bring fights to the big screen and they are doing so again to make "The One" pay-per-view card available at nearly 550 movie theaters across the country. The HD presentation will be the same as the home Showtime pay-per-view telecast, including the much-anticipated junior welterweight championship fight between Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse. To find the theater closest to you and for ticket prices (which vary by theater but are far cheaper than the pay-per-view price tag) check out NCM Fathom’s website at www.FathomEvents.com for the list.

"I love that so many of my fights have been shown in movie theaters," said Mayweather, who has had all of his fights since 2009 shown in theaters. "It's something that I wanted to bring to the fans for a long time. It’s my job to give the fans the best entertainment possible."

•  In his return from a fractured hand, featherweight Gary Russell Jr. (22-0, 13 KOs), the 2011 ESPN.com Prospect of the Year, will face Juan Ruiz (23-11, 7 KOs), according to Golden Boy. The fight is due to take place Aug. 9 on the untelevised portion of the Showtime "ShoBox" card headlined by heavyweight prospect Deontay Wilder against former titlist Sergei Liakhovich at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif. As usual, Russell and his team are not looking to take any chances whatsoever as he faces yet another woefully weak opponent. Ruiz has lost six fights in a row and nine of his last 10.

•  Former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan, who likely will challenge Devon Alexander for a welterweight belt in December, announced that he has parted ways with longtime business manager Asif Vali, who was at his side for years. Khan announced the separation was by "mutual agreement." Other than Khan's family members, Vali was the most trusted member of Khan’s inner circle. "I would like to sincerely thank Asif for all his hard work and wish him the very best for the future," Khan said. Said Vali, "I would like to wish Amir and his family the very best for the future. I have enjoyed my time working with them and plan to remain in boxing as I explore new exciting ventures."

Russell, Magdaleno set to return

July, 22, 2013
7/22/13
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Featherweight Gary Russell Jr., the 2011 ESPN.com prospect of the year, will be back Aug. 9, according to Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer.

Russell will face an opponent to be announced, which is par for the course when it comes to announcing Russell fights. He was supposed to box on the July 13 Bernard Hopkins-Karo Murat undercard -- against an opponent to be announced -- but that card was canceled due to Murat's visa problem. So Russell (22-0, 13 KOs) has been moved to the card headlined by heavyweight prospect Deontay Wilder facing former titlist Sergei Liakhovich at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif.

Golden Boy had hoped to line up Russell against former featherweight titlist Daniel Ponce De Leon this summer. Ponce De Leon accepted the fight, but Russell turned it down.

Russell, a 2008 U.S. Olympian, has been beset by injuries and has been incredibly picky about whom he will fight. He will be boxing for the first time since suffering a fractured left hand in a 10-round decision win against Russia's Vyacheslav Gusev on March 2. Russell also missed significant time in 2012 because of an ankle injury.

• Former junior lightweight title challenger Diego Magdaleno (23-1, 9 KOs), who lost a split decision challenging Rocky Martinez on April 6 in Macau, will make his return Sept. 7, according to manager Frank Espinoza. Magdaleno's bout will be scheduled for eight rounds -- no opponent yet -- and will take place on the undercard of the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Brian Vera fight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Return in the works for Russell

June, 27, 2013
6/27/13
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Gary Russell Jr. and Roberto CastanedaTom Casino/ShowtimeGolden Boy is working on moving unbeaten Gary Russell Jr. to an Aug. 24 tripleheader on Showtime.
A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Featherweight Gary Russell Jr., the 2011 ESPN.com prospect of the year, has missed some fights because of injuries. But when his most recent bout was called off, it wasn't his fault. Russell (22-0, 13 KOs), recovering from a fractured hand, was supposed to fight July 13 on the undercard of Bernard Hopkins' mandatory light heavyweight title defense against Karo Murat before the Showtime-televised card was canceled because of Murat's visa issues.

Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com that he is working to move Russell to his Aug. 24 card in Carson, Calif., and that the Showtime broadcast would become a tripleheader. Featherweight titlist Abner Mares defends against former titlist Jhonny Gonzalez in the main event with junior featherweight titlist Victor Terrazas facing former bantamweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz in the co-feature. Schaefer said he likes that spot for Russell because he could eventually challenge Mares, sooner rather than later.

"I'm not like some promoters who like to let fights marinate. I don't like to marinate," said Schaefer in a dig at Top Rank rival Bob Arum, who lost a very big fight between Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa because Arum said he wanted to "let it marinate" and Lopez got knocked out.

• Former junior middleweight titlist Cornelius "K9" Bundrage, who lost his belt to Ishe Smith in February, hopes to be back this fall against former titlist Miguel Cotto, who is coming off a December loss to Austin Trout in a title bout. "My sights are set on Miguel Cotto," Bundrage told ESPN.com. "Team K9 [is] working to make it happen. Gabriel [Penagaricano], who is Cotto's adviser, has been in communication with my adviser and management. Gabriel is a good guy and I have much respect for Cotto and his heart. ... We are warriors. This [proposed] fight will be the new Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward fight. I am so ready to get this battle of warriors done."

• Adrien Broner's Showtime debut last Saturday was a hit for the network. Broner, one of boxing's most polarizing figures, outpointed Paulie Malignaggi to win a welterweight title. Showtime announced the fight drew an eye-catching 1.3 million viewers, the second-largest audience for a Showtime bout since it began tracking individual fights in 2009. Showtime also said the average viewership for the tripleheader was the second highest average since Nielsen began separating Showtime from its multiplex channels in 2004. This is just a continuation of increased viewership for the network's boxing events over the past two years.

• Joan Guzman (33-1-1, 20 KOs) faces Vicente Mosquera (32-2-1, 17 KOs) for a vacant interim junior welterweight title in a battle of former titleholders Friday night (Telemundo, 11:30 ET) in Kissimmee, Florida. Guzman is coming off his only loss in November, when he was unable to continue in the eighth round after hurting his leg on an unintentional foul. It resulted in Guzman losing a technical decision to Khabib Allakhverdiev for a vacant world title. Guzman, a former junior featherweight and junior lightweight titlist, said his leg is fine. "I'm 100 percent recovered from my injury," Guzman, 37, said. "I'm looking forward to showing the boxing world that I'm still a force to be reckoned with."

• Middleweight prospect Anthony Ogogo, a 2012 British Olympic bronze medalist has been added to the July 13 card in Hull, England headlined by the pro debut of teammate Luke Campbell, the bantamweight gold medal medalist. Ogogo (2-0, 1 KO) will face an opponent to be determined in a six-rounder. The card also includes the rematch between welterweight contender Kell Brook and Carson Jones. Ogogo's addition to the card was made possible because his promoter, Golden Boy, was able to make a deal show promoter Eddie Hearn.

"It's great to be on the same card as my Olympic teammate and one of my best friends outside of the ring, Luke Campbell," said Ogogo, who turned pro in April in England and had his second fight May 18 in Atlantic City, N.J. "I expect a spectacular performance from Luke and I'm planning on delivering one myself and really give my home country fans a show."
U.S. Cellular FieldDavid Banks/Getty ImagesU.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox, will host the season finale of "Friday Night Fights."
A few notes from the world of boxing:

•  The Aug. 16 season finale of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" is shaping up to be an excellent card, which will take place at U.S. Cellular Field, the home stadium of the Chicago White Sox. Two popular Polish fighters are on the card in good looking fights. Light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara (23-2, 13 KOs) takes on former world titleholder Gabriel Campillo (21-5-1, 8 KOs) in the main event while heavyweight Artur Szpillka (14-0, 11 KOs) faces Chicago's Mike Mollo (20-4-1, 12 KOs) in a rematch of their pier-six brawl in February on the undercard. Szpillka won by sixth-round knockout after being down twice. It was a sensational fight that was on an ESPN2 card, but only aired on ESPN3.com after the telecast went off the air. ESPN2 plans to re-air the first fight during the Aug. 16 show and it is not to be missed.

•  The search goes on for an opponent to face featherweight prospect Gary Russell Jr. (22-0, 13 KOs) on the July 13 Bernard Hopkins-Karo Murat undercard (Showtime) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Golden Boy had hoped to convince former featherweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez to accept the fight but, according to matchmaker Eric Gomez, it's a no-go.

•  Promoter Gary Shaw has moved his Aug. 17 HBO tripleheader, which is topped by middleweight titlist Daniel Geale in a defense against Darren Barker, from Turning Stone Casino in Verona, N.Y. to the Revel resort in Atlantic City, N.J. The other two televised bouts are not set yet, but one of them likely will involve junior featherweight titlist Jonathan Romero.

•  Super middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz (44-3, 25 KOs) has signed a multi-fight contract with German network SAT.1 and will fight his first bout under the deal on July 13 in Dresden, Germany, although he does not yet have an opponent for the defense. After Stieglitz stopped Arthur Abraham in the fourth round to regain his title in their March 23 rematch, both fighters professed interest in a rubber match. But forget about that now that Stieglitz is signed to SAT.1 and Abraham promoter Sauerland Event has its events exclusively on ARD, in what amounts to the German version of HBO versus Showtime in America.

•  Beginning with Saturday's card from the Bell Centre in Montreal, HBO blow-by-blow announcer Jim Lampley resumes those duties on the "Boxing After Dark" series. Lampley, who already calls the fights for HBO PPV fights and the "World Championship Boxing" series, replaces Bob Papa, who had called the fights on BAD since 2007. Before that, Lampley had called the fights on the series since its inception in 1996. According to HBO, Papa is leaving the role because of his expanded duties at the Golf Channel. "The emergence of date conflicts made the juggling of schedules impractical," HBO said in a statement. "Bob will remain connected to the HBO family so we can call on him in situations such as a split-site doubleheader when two broadcast teams are needed."

Mended Russell cleared to train

May, 24, 2013
5/24/13
2:40
PM ET
Gary Russell JrTom Casino/ShowtimeGary Russell Jr.'s left hand injury is healed, clearing the way for him to return on July 13.

Featherweight Gary Russell Jr., the 2011 ESPN.com prospect of the year, has been cleared to resume training after fracturing his left hand in a March 2 victory.

The 24-year-old Russell (22-0, 13 KOs), of Capitol Heights, Md., scored a 10-round shutout win against Russia's Vyacheslav Gusev -- 100-89 on all three scorecards -- that included his knocking down Gusev in the third round. But Russell also injured his left hand (and he's a southpaw) around the fourth or fifth round of the fight.

Russell said he has been training despite the injury, but without any contact using his left hand.

"I'm always in the gym with my dad and my brothers, and the hand injury didn't change that," Russell said. "I focused a lot of my training on strength and conditioning work over the past two months, but I was definitely ready to start punching again and we are back 100 percent now."

Russell, a 2008 U.S. Olympian, has fragile hands, so he and his father and trainer, Gary Russell Sr., have developed techniques to help protect them during daily training sessions, including using larger gloves.

Russell is scheduled for his next fight on July 13 (Showtime) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on the undercard of light heavyweight titlist Bernard Hopkins' mandatory defense against Germany's Karo Murat.

Russell doesn't have an opponent yet, but Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com that he is trying to get former featherweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez (54-8, 46 KOs) to accept the fight.

Gonzalez's promoter, Oswaldo Kuchle of Promociones del Pueblo, is supposed to meet with Golden Boy officials at their offices in Los Angeles in early June to further discuss the fight.

While Russell gets ready for his bout, he also accompanied his father and younger brother Gary Antonio Russell to the recently concluded 2013 National Golden Gloves tournament.

Gary Jr., a 2005 Golden Gloves champion, joined his father working in Gary Antonio's corner. Gary Antonio won the tournament's bantamweight title and the Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament award. Gary Antonio is the third Russell brother to win a National Golden Gloves title, along with Gary Jr., and Gary Allan Russell III, who won it in 2010. They are the third trio of brothers and the first since 1977 to win the event.
Some news and notes from the boxing world:

• Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer said Thursday that the post-fight drug tests for Floyd Mayweather Jr., Robert Guerrero, Abner Mares and Daniel Ponce De Leon all came back negative for any prohibited substances. The results for the rest of the boxers on the May 4 card at the MGM Grand and May 3 card at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas are still pending. Kizer said all 30 boxers on the two cards were tested.

• Mares looked fantastic knocking out Ponce De Leon in the ninth round to win a featherweight title on the Mayweather-Guerrero undercard, giving Mares a world title in his third weight class in the past three years. Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer said two scenarios are being considered for Mares' first defense. One is for Mares, who lives in Southern California, to return home to his native Mexico for a homecoming fight. The other is for Mares to once again fight on Mayweather’s undercard when he returns Sept. 14 to the MGM Grand.

• A little date switcheroo to fill you in on: Sakio Bika (31-5-2, 21 KOs) and Marco Antonio Periban (20-0, 13 KOs), due to meet for a super middleweight title that was stripped from Andre Ward for no good reason, were scheduled to fight June 8 on the Golden Boy/Showtime card at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. But Schaefer said the fight has been pushed back two weeks and will instead go on a Showtime tripleheader on June 22 on the Paulie Malignaggi-Adrien Broner undercard at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Also on the card is the heavyweight rematch between Johnathon Banks and Seth Mitchell.

• With Bika-Periban moving to June 22, Schaefer said another fight has been added to the June 8 card to also make it a tripleheader: a junior middleweight fight between hot prospect Jermell Charlo (20-0, 10 KOs), 22, of Houston, and Philadelphia’s Demetrius Hopkins (33-2-1, 13 KOs), 32, the nephew of light heavyweight titlist Bernard Hopkins. The June 8 card is headlined by welterweight Marcos Maidana against Josesito Lopez and also includes a junior middleweight fight between Erislandy Lara and Alfredo Angulo.

• Featherweight prospect Gary Russell Jr. is slated to appear on Showtime on the undercard of light heavyweight titlist Bernard Hopkins’ defense against mandatory challenger Karo Murat at the Barclays Center on July 13. Finding an opponent for Russell is always difficult, and this fight is no different.

“We have made a very strong offer to (former titlist) Jhonny Gonzalez and we’re waiting to hear from him,” Schaefer said.

• When the Canadian super fight between former light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal and former super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute, which was supposed to take place May 25 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, was called off because of Bute’s left hand injury, Pascal promoter Yvon Michel said some of the undercard bouts would be shifted to the June 8 card at the Bell Centre headlined by light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson facing Quebec’s Adonis Stevenson. Michel, who also promotes Stevenson, told ESPN.com that these two bouts would shift to June 8: light heavyweight Eleider Alvarez against Allan Green and welterweight Kevin Bizier versus Aldo Nazareno Rios.

• Up-and-coming lightweight Bahodir “Baha” Mamadjonov (13-1, 9 KOs), 25, a former standout amateur from Uzbekistan now living in Houston, has signed a promotional deal with Don King. Mamadjonov scored an upset on April 12 by knocking out Angelo Santana -- the best prospect in King’s thin stable -- in the ninth round. Mamadjonov had taken the “ShoBox” main event on short notice and impressed in front of a national TV audience.

“Signing with Don King brings me closer to my goal of winning a world championship,” Mamadjonov said. “That is what drives me every day. I want to win a world title for my family and the people of Uzbekistan who always believed in me.”

Said King, “I am extremely pleased and proud to have Baha with me. I expect great things from this young man because he’s dedicated and committed to becoming a world champion. He took the fight with Santana on almost no notice and stopped a great lightweight.”

• Former junior welterweight titlist Gavin Rees (37-2-1, 18 KOs) of Wales, who got knocked out by Adrien Broner in the fifth round in a February world title bout, returns to face England’s Anthony Crolla (25-4-1, 9 KOs) on June 29 in Manchester, England. The fight is the co-feature on the card headlined by former heavyweight titlist David Haye against former title challenger Manuel Charr. Crolla is coming off a 12-round split draw for the Commonwealth lightweight title against Derry Mathews on March 30 in a rematch of a Mathews sixth-round knockout win in April 2012.

“I cannot wait to get back into action,” Rees said. “I am itching to get another world title shot after fighting Broner. He is a megastar and will go on to do massive things in the game, but I feel that I can win another world title and this is a massive fight to prove I still have ambitions at that level.

“Anthony is a very good fighter and he put up a great performance in his rematch with Derry Mathews, and I think that the draw was the fair result. All-British clashes are always great to be a part of, with my own battle against Mathews a real cracking fight."

• Irish featherweight Patrick Hyland (27-1, 12 KOs), who is coming off a decision loss to Javier Fortuna for an interim featherweight title on Dec. 8, was due back in action on May 18 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. -- near his base of Marlboro, N.Y. -- but the card was canceled on Thursday because Hyland suffered a shoulder injury in his training camp, Final Round Promotions announced.

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