Dan Rafael: Giovanni Lorenzo

Flyweight prospect Zou Shiming, the two-time Chinese Olympic gold medalist on the verge of fighting for a world title, is in the main event. Junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, one of boxing’s most skillful fighters, is on the undercard in a title defense.

But the most intriguing fighter on Top Rank’s card on Saturday (HBO2, 5 p.m. ET/PT) from the Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena in Macau, China, just might be Mexican super middleweight prospect Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (28-0, 22 KOs), a 23-year-old southpaw with good looks and a big punch.

Ramirez opens the HBO2 telecast against Junior Talipeau (20-2-1, 7 KOs), a New Zealand native living in Australia, in a scheduled 10-round fight in which he can make a big impression and put himself in position for some big business in the 168-pound division.

Based on his past two fights, Ramirez is ready to make a jump up in class. In February, he became the first man to stop durable journeyman Don Mouton, knocking him out in the first round. In April, Ramirez made his ESPN2 debut and blew out former world title challenger Giovanni Lorenzo in a five-round domination.

Ramirez is aiming to continue his undefeated run.

“I am very excited to be making my HBO debut on this card and I want to make a good impression so I can continue fighting on HBO. This is the Zurdo Ramirez era and I want to shine,” he said through a translator. “I am prepared for Junior Talipeau and I am prepared to give a good show on Saturday. I want to prove -- in the most emphatic terms -- that I am ready to challenge for a world title.”

He also said he was stoked about fighting in Macau, Asia’s new boxing mecca.

“This is my first time in Macau and I love it,” he said. “The Venetian Macao is fabulous and the fans here are great. The climate in Macau is similar to [my hometown of] Mazatlan and I had no problem adjusting to the time-zone change. My punches land just as hard here as they do in the Western Hemisphere.”

Talipeau, 30, hasn’t lost since a split-decision defeat in 2011, having won three in a row since, although he hasn’t faced top names. Still, he aims to end Ramirez’s undefeated streak.

“I am impressed with Ramirez’s accomplishments but I am not intimidated by them,” he said. “I intend to attack him early and bang his body and head and stop him late in the fight.

“It’s a great incentive to be the first one to blemish his perfect record and derail his world title shot plans. I did not travel to Macau to be another number in Ramirez’s victory column. I came here to win. I came here to hurt.”

Tonsilitis KOs Jessie Magdaleno

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
Blue chip junior featherweight prospect Jessie Magdaleno was supposed to fight on April 11 in Las Vegas on an ESPN2 card Top Rank is putting on at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas the night before the big show the next night, the one headlined by the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley welterweight title rematch.

However, Magdaleno (18-0, 14 KOs), 22, of Las Vegas, has been scratched from the card, which is headlined by a middleweight fight between Gilberto Ramirez and former title challenger Giovanni Lorenzo and also includes super middleweight prospect Jesse Hart in his television debut.

Magdaleno, the younger brother of junior lightweight contender Diego Magdaleno, is off the card because of tonsillitis, Top Rank spokesman Lee Samuels told ESPN.com.

“Looks like tonsils will be removed,” said Samuels, who said he got the news from Diego at the Top Rank’s card in Las Vegas on Friday night.

Title shot for Jacobs?

August, 20, 2013
Giovanni Lorenzo, Daniel JacobsAl Bello/Getty ImagesDaniel Jacobs, right, jumped on Giovanni Lorenzo in the third to score the stoppage win on Monday.

Middleweight Daniel Jacobs was impressive in his third-round knockout victory against former title challenger Giovanni Lorenzo on Monday night in New York. It was the kind of win that will launch him to bigger and better things.

Lorenzo (32-6, 24 KOs), an experienced fighter, had never been knocked out before. All of his losses had come by decision to quality opponents: Sebastian Sylvester and Felix Sturm in world titled bouts, Hassan N’Dam in an interim title bout, and Sam Soliman and Raul Marquez in a title eliminators. But Jacobs (26-1, 23 KOs), fighting in his first hometown main event and headlining a national TV card, overcame a cut to put him away with an impressive flurry of hard blows for the biggest win of his career.

Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer was impressed by Jacobs’ performance, as he should have been.

“Stopping a guy who had never been stopped and doing it the way he did, in spectacular fashion was impressive,” Schaefer told ESPN.com. “I have no doubt that Danny Jacobs is back and that he deserves to fight for a world title and I will do what I can to give him that opportunity.”

Jacobs’ story has been well-chronicled: Rising prospect, suffers a knockout loss in a title fight in 2010, diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer after a couple of more fights, nearly dies, out for 19 months and then makes an amazing comeback in October 2012.

The first three fights of Jacobs’ comeback were understandably against soft touches. But Lorenzo is a real guy, so it’s a big win.

“There were people who said when Danny came back that he would never be the same as before he got sick, but he is back and he showed that he belongs in this middleweight division,” Schaefer said. “After everything he went through, he wanted to make a statement against Lorenzo that he was back and I think that’s exactly what he did.”

Having passed the Lorenzo test, the obvious fight for Jacobs is a shot against titleholder “Kid Chocolate” Peter Quillin. That is likely an easy fight to make because Golden Boy promotes both fighters and Al Haymon is the adviser for both fighters.

It is the match Schaefer said he hopes to make, although most likely it won’t be the next bout for either man. Quillin probably will defend his title in late October, and Jacobs figures to get in at least one more fight this year. But come the first part of 2014, it’s a natural match to take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Golden Boy has an exclusive deal to put on boxing events.

“This is a fight I will be discussing with Al to see if it’s something which can get done,” Schaefer said. “I’d like to make that fight. Whether it’s the next fight, I don’t know, but Danny showed that he certainly deserves the opportunity. He earned it. Quillin and Jacobs, they are the two best American middleweights so what you have is the two best American middleweights fighting each other. Nothing wrong with that. Both guys from New York, fighting at the Barclays Center? Nothing wrong with that.”

Actually, everything is right about that.

Jacobs fights for title shot, more

August, 19, 2013
jacobs-LorenzoRich Kane/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsDaniel Jacobs can take a big step toward a 160-pound title fight with a win over Giovanni Lorenzo.

Middleweight Daniel Jacobs is in that in-between place where many young fighters often find themselves. He has been around a bit too long -- he turned pro in 2007 and was ESPN.com's prospect of the year back in 2009 -- and has a bit too much experience to be called a prospect. But he also still lacks the signature victory that could allow him to honestly be called a contender.

With a win against former title challenger Giovanni Lorenzo, however, Jacobs hopes to add his name to the list of contenders in an increasingly deep 160-pound division.

In the second main event of his career and the first in his hometown of New York, Jacobs will meet Lorenzo on Monday night in a scheduled 10-rounder at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square in Manhattan. The fight headlines the debut of Golden Boy Promotions' twice-monthly Monday night series (9 p.m. ET) on the new all-sports cable network Fox Sports 1.

"As of right now, people don't really consider me at the top, and neither do I," Jacobs told ESPN.com. "I have to beat somebody like Lorenzo. He has the ability to upset some guys. He's still strong and he's very experienced. I'll just go in and give it my best. A win over him will put me at that level and give the boxing fans and the world something to respect."

New Yorker Lorenzo (32-5, 24 KOs), 32, a Dominican Republic native, has come up short in three shots at titles -- two for full belts and one for an interim strap in decision losses to Sebastian Sylvester (a vacant title in 2009), Felix Sturm (2010) and Hassan N'Dam (the interim belt, in 2011).

It's an important fight for Jacobs (25-1, 22 KOs), who was rushed into a title fight in 2010 and got knocked out in the fifth round fighting for a vacant belt against Dmitry Pirog. Jacobs returned to win two fights but then was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer that left him with a tumor wrapped around his spine, partial paralysis and little chance of survival, much less fighting again. But Jacobs beat the disease -- he has been declared cancer-free by his doctors -- and returned to action at full strength last October after being sidelined for 19 months.

As a cancer survivor with a big platform, Jacobs has gotten deeply involved in raising money for cancer research and founded the Get In The Ring Foundation, whose aim is to help families who are struggling with medical expenses for their cancer-stricken children, to provide better health and nutrition for children and to end bullying in schools.

"I don't fight for just myself," Jacobs said. "I feel like I represent more. God has blessed me with a story of being a cancer survivor, and with the foundation we're encouraging people to join the fight to knock out children's cancer, children's obesity, bullying. I feel like with what I've been through and being a professional athlete, I can be a role model with the way I conduct myself and live my life."

The fight with Lorenzo will be the fourth in Jacobs' comeback after cancer but his first against a serious opponent, and how he performs could go a long way toward moving Jacobs closer to another title opportunity.

"Lorenzo is very durable and strong and the biggest step up for me as far as an experienced opponent," Jacobs said. "I know he will come to fight. I'm sure he's stoked and will try to put on the best performance he can. A win will be great for my career. I think it will put me in a great position. But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, and [adviser] Al [Haymon] doesn't want me to get too far ahead of myself.

"After this, we will sit down and talk about the future, but we're focusing on the task at hand. I want any title shot, though. It's my dream since coming back. Whoever, whenever. If I do get past [Lorenzo], I'll know I'm ready. I've been back about a year and I am ready to take what they put in front of me. My health is fine. No nothing, no nerve damage. No cancer."