Dan Rafael: J'Leon Love

Love looks to continue rise

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
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J'Leon Love, Marco PeribanHarry How/Getty ImagesSuper middleweight J'Leon Love, right, headlines Friday's Mayweather Promotions show in Las Vegas.
There's yet another boxing card in the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas, on Saturday night, this one at the Palms Casino Resort. But it probably has more special meaning to pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. than usual.

It's the first card his company, Mayweather Promotions, is doing on its own since securing a promotional license in Nevada on July 30.

Although Mayweather, who lives and trains in Las Vegas, is training for his rematch with Marcos Maidana on Sept. 13, he will be at the show to watch the card filled with fighters he promotes and often trains with.

"It's great to be putting on another great card with Mayweather Promotions stars from top to bottom," Mayweather said. "Even though we will be two weeks away from my rematch against Maidana, there is no way I would miss this. These guys all live by the motto of 'hard work, dedication,' and I look forward to seeing that hard work pay off on [Friday]."

The "ShoBox: The New Generation" card (10 p.m. ET/PT) was originally supposed to be a quadrupleheader, but when junior middleweight prospect Chris Pearson (11-0, 9 KOs) suffered an injury, his undercard fight with Steve Martinez (15-1, 12 KOs) was called off.

The card is headlined by super middleweight J'Leon Love (18-0, 10 KOs) taking on Rogelio Medina (32-6, 26 KOs) in a 10-rounder.

Super middleweight Badou Jack (16-1-1, 11 KOs), looking to bounce back from a first-round knockout loss to unheralded Derek Edwards in February, faces Jason Escalera (15-2-1, 12 KOs) in the 10-round co-feature with super middleweight Ronald Gavril (9-0, 7 KOs) squaring off with Thomas Falowo (12-2, 8 KOs) in the scheduled eight-round opener.

Love is coming off his biggest victory, a 10-round unanimous decision against former title challenger Marco Antonio Periban, who lost a decision battling for a vacant belt against Sakio Bika in June 2013 and then fought to a draw with Jack in his next fight last September.

"My last fight was definitely a learning experience," Love said. "Periban was a title contender and a very experienced fighter. I faced some adversity and I was able to bounce back and come through with a win."

Love's win against Periban came on the Showtime PPV undercard of Mayweather's first fight with Maidana on May 3, his second time fighting on one of Mayweather's events.

"Every fight is a learning experience, but this one was under the big lights," Love said. "It shows I have the heart and determination to win. I know where I want to go with this and I know a world championship is on the horizon. I think I have maybe two more fights before I fight for a belt.

"I'm still growing as a fighter, but I've graduated from prospect to contender and I'm just a few wins away from graduating to world champion. Saturday night is just another step. I think I'm almost there."

Broner-Molina added to May 3 card

March, 26, 2014
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First came the announcement that Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Marcos Maidana would meet in a welterweight unification fight May 3 (Showtime PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in one of the year’s biggest fights.

On Monday came the announcement that former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan would move up to welterweight to tangle with former titleholder Luis Collazo in a strong co-feature.

And on Tuesday came the announcement of the remaining two fights on the pay-per-view: former three-division titleholder Adrien Broner, moving down to junior welterweight and coming off his December loss to Maidana, against Carlos Molina, who hasn’t fought since a knockout loss to Khan in December 2012, and super middleweight J’Leon Love against Marco Antonio Periban in what should be a competitive fight in the opener.

With the announcement of the two final bouts also came comments from those four fighters. Here’s what they had to say:

• Broner (27-1, 22 KOs): "I had minor setback, but I am back on May 3. Everybody needs to understand that I just took a loss. I haven't lost it. I'm still ‘The Problem,’ and anyone can get it, whether you are Afri-can, Puerto Ri-can, Domini-can, Cuban or Mexi-can."

• Molina (17-1-1, 7 KOs): "I am so excited to be able to fight on a card of this magnitude against Adrien Broner. Sure he's tough, but we all saw what happened in his last fight when he was under pressure. I have the boxing ability and punching power to beat him, and that is exactly what I plan to do on May 3."

• Love (17-0, 10 KOs): "It is always an honor to be on the same card as my boss, Floyd Mayweather. I train with him in the gym every day and see what it takes to compete at the highest level in boxing. I can't thank Floyd and Mayweather Promotions enough for these opportunities. My opponent is a very tough competitor, but I have no doubt that I will be victorious and move one step closer to a world championship. May 3 can't get here soon enough."

• Periban (20-1-1, 13 KOs): "This is a great opportunity for me, and I will represent my country and Mexican boxing fans all over the world on this Cinco de Mayo weekend. J'Leon Love might be a member of 'The Money Team,' but that won't matter on May 3, when he has to face someone like me. We'll see who comes out victorious. I will not let my people or my country down."

Bey, O'Connor out of TV fights

February, 26, 2014
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One fighter is ill and one is injured, situations that have caused both to withdraw from upcoming televised fights.

Lightweight Mickey Bey (19-1-1, 9 KOs) has fallen ill and was forced on Tuesday to pull out of his fight against Alan Herrera (32-5, 21 KOs). They were scheduled to meet Friday night in the co-feature of Showtime’s “ShoBox: The Generation” quadrupleheader at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, N.Y.

The Floyd Mayweather-promoted card will go on with the other three televised bouts (9:30 p.m. ET/PT). In the main event, super middleweight J’Leon Love (16-0, 9 KOs) faces Vladine Biosse (15-2-2, 7 KOs) in a 10-rounder. Super middleweight Badou Jack (16-0, 9 KOs) will meet Dereck Edwards (26-3-1, 13 KOs), also scheduled for 10 rounds, and middleweight Chris Pearson (13-0, 10 KOs) faces Lanardo Tyner (31-8-2, 20 KOs) in the scheduled eight-round opener.

Meanwhile, welterweight Danny O’Connor (23-2, 7 KOs) suffered a left elbow injury in training, forcing him to pull out of a March 17 fight with Andrew Farmer (17-2, 7 KOs). The bout was supposed to headline a special St. Patrick’s edition of “Golden Boy Live” (Fox Sports 1, 8:30 p.m. ET) at the House of Blues in Boston.

Instead, middleweight Julian Williams (14-0-1, 8 KOs) will face former welterweight title challenger Freddy Hernandez (30-6, 20 KOs) in the main event.

Mayweather Promotions card set

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
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Mayweather Promotions has announced the opponents for its fighters on the “ShoBox: The New Generation” card it is putting on Dec. 6 (Showtime, 11:50 p.m. ET/PT) at the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, Wash.

In the main event, super middleweight J'Leon Love (15-0, 8 KOs) will face Lajuan Simon (23-4-2, 12 KOs), who fought for a middleweight world title and got starched in the first round by Gennady Golovkin in December 2011 and has not fought since.

Also on the televised quadrupleheader, lightweight Mickey Bey (18-1-1, 9 KOs) faces Carlos Cardenas (20-6-1, 13 KOs); super middleweight Badou Jack (15-0-1, 10 KOs) squares off with Rogelio Medina (31-4, 25 KOs) and middleweight Chris Pearson (9-0, 8 KO's) faces Acacio Ferreira (14-0-1, 12 KOs).

Love will be fighting for the first time since a no decision against Gabe Rosado in May, a fight Love won by split decision before the result was changed to a no decision when he tested positive for a banned diuretic he used to help him make weight for the middleweight contest. Love was fined and suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Jack is coming off a draw against Marco Antonio Periban in Las Vegas on Sept. 12, two nights before his promoter, Floyd Mayweather Jr., cruised past Canelo Alvarez.

Bey is winless in his past two fights. In February, a third-round knockout win was changed to a no decision because Bey tested positive for extremely high levels of testosterone. In his July return, Bey, way ahead on all three scorecards, got knocked out by John Molina in the final minute of the 10-round fight.

Mayweather deal has its privileges

October, 30, 2013
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J'Leon LoveTom Casino/ShowtimeJ'Leon Love is one of three Mayweather Promotions fighters who will headline a Dec. 6 tripleheader.
When pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. signed his gargantuan 30-month contract for up to six fights with Showtime/CBS earlier this year, the deal was about more than just the money, even if those millions were the deciding factor.

Mayweather is also promoting fights now and part of the deal was that Showtime would give his Mayweather Promotions' stable exposure, which comes in the form of television dates. That's why when "ShoBox: The New Generation" returns on Dec. 6 at the Little Creek Casino in Shelton, Wash., it will be a tripleheader featuring three of Mayweather's fighters, none of whom won their last fights.

Showtime said that middleweight J'Leon Love (15-0, 8 KOs) will headline with super middleweight Badou Jack (15-0-1, 10 KOs) in the middle fight and lightweight Mickey Bey (18-1-1, 9 KOs) in the opener. There are no opponents yet for the scheduled 10-round bouts.

It's quite obvious that without Mayweather flexing his considerable muscle and pushing for his guys, this would not be a "ShoBox" card. But Showtime used the dates it gave Mayweather Promotions as a chip to sweeten the deal with Mayweather.

Love was awarded a very debatable split decision on May 4 against Gabriel Rosado on the Mayweather-Robert Guerrero undercard. However, the result was changed to a no decision because Love tested positive for a banned diuretic he used to help him make weight for the middleweight contest. Love was fined and suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and this will be his first fight since the suspension.

Jack was disappointing in a 10-round draw against Marco Antonio Periban in Las Vegas on Sept. 12, two nights before Mayweather's win against Canelo Alvarez.

Bey is winless in his last two fights. In February, a third-round knockout win was changed to a no decision because Bey tested positive for extremely high levels of testosterone.

In his return from a toothless suspension in July, Bey, leading widely on all three scorecards, got knocked out by John Molina in the final minute of the 10-round fight.

Mayweather busy as promoter

May, 2, 2013
5/02/13
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Ishe Smith, Floyd Mayweather, and J'Leon Love Tom Casino/ShowtimeFloyd Mayweather Jr. has bulit up a promotional stable with fighters like Ishe Smith and J'Leon Love.
LAS VEGAS--– When 36-year-old pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. signed his six-fight, 30-month contract with Showtime/CBS earlier this year, he knew it was for the final stage of his brilliant career.

So while Mayweather may earn in the neighborhood of $200 million-plus under the deal -- and maybe more depending on how his pay-per-view events perform -- he is also thinking about life after boxing.

Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs) kicks off the deal with his welterweight title defense against interim titleholder Robert Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 KOs) on Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and intends to fight again on Sept. 14 in an effort to be as busy as he has been in years. But then there is the part about setting things up for the next stage of his career, which he wants to be as a promoter.

Like his one-time rival Oscar De La Hoya did in 2002 when he founded Golden Boy Promotions a few years before he retired -- and it has become one of the top two promotional outfits in the world along with Top Rank -- Mayweather founded Mayweather Promotions a few years ago.

But until recently it had not been very active putting on shows or signing fighters. That has changed with the company being involved in several shows, with Golden Boy's assistance, that didn't include the boss fighting on the card.

Mayweather's deal with Showtime undoubtedly has provisions that give his company dates and slots so his fighters can gain exposure. That's all part of the Mayweather plan.

"My long-term goal is hopefully to have a fighter surpass me," Mayweather said. "I want to be part of a fighter going to the pinnacle. Who don't want to be part of a fighter going to the top? I'd love to be a part of it. Only thing I can do is keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best and constantly put them in the best position possible. That's what it's about -- putting them in the best position possible."

Mayweather keeps his fighters close to him. They usually train at his gym in Las Vegas and he often watches over them and trains alongside them.

"Like I preach to them all the time -- we sit down and I talk to them and I tell them about my life, how I learned things at an early age," Mayweather said. "I want to help the young fighters. I always tell the fighters I see it from both sides as far as promoter and a fighter. I fight just like they fight. Don King can't see it from a fighter's point of view. Bob Arum can't see it from a fighter's point of view because they're not fighters, they're just promoters."

Mayweather Promotions, run on a daily basis by longtime Mayweather adviser Leonard Ellerbe, has eight fighters in its stable, including junior middleweight titlist Ishe Smith and some of the fighters on Saturday's undercard, including middleweight prospect J'Leon Love, who opens the pay-per-view broadcast against Gabriel Rosado, light heavyweight prospect Badou Jack and super middleweight youngsters Ronald Gavril and Luis Arias.

"We put our guys in solid," Mayweather said. "One thing about us is we match our guys solid. We're slowly building our team. With our fighters I think it's different than any other company. They all stick together even though one day they're gonna have to fight one another because this is the sport, this is the business. As of right now everything is flowing smooth."

Fighters pick Mayweather-Guerrero

April, 30, 2013
4/30/13
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How about some fighter picks for the two main bouts on Saturday’s big Showtime PPV card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Robert Guerrero and Daniel Ponce De Leon versus Abner Mares?

Here are some predictions on Mayweather-Guerrero, thanks to Showtime:

Canelo Alvarez: "Robert Guerrero has a great opportunity to win. He's hungry for glory and will try everything to get the victory. I am picking Guerrero.”

Danny Garcia: “Floyd Mayweather all the way. Robert Guerrero is a good fighter. He earned his shot, but Mayweather is the star.”

Mares: "Floyd Mayweather is such a talented fighter and he backs it up. He talks a lot, but he backs it up. I know Robert Guerrero is hungry and determined, but wanting to win doesn't get you a win. It's about what you can do inside the ring, and that's why Mayweather will win.”

Ponce De Leon: “I think Robert Guerrero can win if he fights the same way he fought Andre Berto, pressing the action like Jose Luis Castillo did against Floyd Mayweather. However, Mayweather is a great fighter and so difficult because his style, but I think Guerrero will win.”

Peter Quillin: “I never count Floyd Mayweather out. He's the best pound-for-pound fighter. He's who every fighter looks up to. I call it the Floyd Mayweather era of boxing. Robert Guerrero wanted this for a long time. He's a multi-division champion and he deserves it. They both have something to prove. I don't know who to pick here."

Fernando Guerrero: "You can never bet against Floyd Mayweather. He's just overall one of the best fighters ever. Gotta go with Mayweather.”

J’Leon Love: "Floyd Mayweather is too intelligent of a fighter.”

Leo Santa Cruz: “That is going to be another hard fight. I think Floyd Mayweather has more experience and he's smarter. He knows what he has to do to win. Guerrero is a good, smart fighter, but I think Mayweather is going to take it by decision.”

Austin Trout: “I'm picking Floyd Mayweather, but this fight is not as easy as everyone thinks it'll be. Robert Guerrero is hungry and has the ability to make it a tough fight.”

And here are some predictions on Ponce De Leon-Mares:

Robert Guerrero: "Both Daniel Ponce De Leon and Abner Mares are great Mexican warriors. Mares is going to come forward with pressure and Ponce De Leon will counter. I'm picking Ponce De Leon to win by a close split decision.”

Garcia: "I'm taking Daniel Ponce De Leon. I don't really see Abner Mares pulling it off at 126 pounds. That's a tough fight.”

Quillin: “A lot of people don't give Abner Mares the credit he deserves. Daniel Ponce De Leon has a rough, rugged style. I see Mares putting on a great performance against a guy like Ponce De Leon who gives people trouble, and coming out with the win."

Santa Cruz: "That is going to be another hard fight. They are both Mexican warriors. It can go either way, but if it goes to decision, Abner Mares will win. However, if Daniel Ponce De Leon catches him with a good punch, he will win by knockout.”

Trout: “Abner Mares takes this one. His youth and toughness can outdo the super tough Daniel Ponce De Leon.”

Fernando Guerrero: “Abner Mares just has the youth and the will. When guys are winning, they want to keep at it.”

Love: “Abner Mares has much better skills.”

Love to step up; Foreman returns

March, 14, 2013
3/14/13
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Yuri ForemanAP Photo/Jason DeCrowFormer junior middleweight titlist Yuri Foreman continues his comeback with a fight in New York.

Notes and nuggets from the boxing world:

• The proposed middleweight bout between Detroit's J'Leon Love (15-0, 8 KOs), one of Floyd Mayweather's fighters, and Philadelphia's Gabriel Rosado (21-6, 13 KOs), who is coming off a game performance in a TKO loss to Gennady Golovkin in a January world title fight, is closer to being finalized. The sides are working through the paperwork for the bout, which, if finalized, will be part of the Mayweather-Robert Guerrero Showtime PPV card on May 4 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The fight is a big step up for Love.

• Welterweights Jesus Soto Karass (27-8-3, 17 KOs) of Mexico and Yoshihiro Kamegai (22-0-1, 19 KOs) of Japan will meet June 8 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., according to Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez. The fight will be on the undercard of the Marcos Maidana-Josesito Lopez welterweight fight, which headlines a Showtime-televised tripleheader. The third fight isn't set yet, but the two fights that are set both figure to produce excellent action.

• Nice looking card Saturday night (Fox Deportes, 10 ET) in Cancun, Mexico as exciting welterweight Pablo Cesar Cano (25-2-1, 19 KOs) of Mexico returns to action for his first bout since dropping Paulie Malignaggi in the 11th round but losing a debatable split decision in a world title bout in October on the debut card at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Cano will face Manuel Perez (19-8-1, 4 KOs) of Denver in a scheduled 10-rounder. In the 10-round super middleweight co-feature, Mexico's Marco Antonio Periban (19-0, 12 KOs) faces Samuel Miller (25-6, 22 KOs) of Colombia.

Also on the card is former lightweight titlist Jorge Linares (32-3, 20 KOs), who is looking for a second win in a row after back-to-back knockout losses. Linares, of Venezuela, faces David Rodela (16-7-3, 7 KOs) of Oxnard, Calif., although their bout is not scheduled for the broadcast. Junior featherweight Joseph Diaz Jr. (2-0, 1 KO), a 2012 U.S. Olympian; featherweight Julian Ramirez (7-0, 5 KOs), the nephew of late junior lightweight champion Genaro Hernandez; and Alberto Guevara (16-1, 16 KOs), who gave Leo Santa Cruz a good go in a decision loss in a December bantamweight world title fight, are also in action.

• Promoter Lou DiBella has loaded his April 4 "Broadway Boxing" card at the Roseland Ballroom in New York with A-sides, although their opponents are not all set yet. Former junior middleweight titlist Yuri Foreman (29-2, 8 KOs) will have the second fight of his comeback after a nearly two-year layoff against Gundrick King (18-9, 11 KOs) in a six-rounder. Also on the card against an opponent to be determined is junior featherweight prospect Luis "Orlandito" Del Valle (16-1, 11 KOs) in his first fight since a decision loss to former junior bantamweight champ Vic Darchinyan in September. Longtime welterweight contender Jo Jo Dan (30-2, 17KOs) and popular New York junior welterweight Gabriel Bracero (21-1, 4 KOs) are also on the show. DiBella is once again working with promoter/entertainer Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, who will have two of his fighters on the card, junior welterweights Luis Olivares (1-0, 1 KO) and Donte Strayhorn, who is first scheduled to make his pro debut on Saturday's Timothy Bradley Jr.-Ruslan Provodnikov undercard.

• Just for the record, the scoring of the Feb. 23 junior middleweight title bout between Cornelius "K9" Bundrage and Ishe Smith was incorrect when originally announced. Ring announcer Jimmy Lennon was given the wrong scores when he announced that Smith had won a title via split decision with scores of 116-111, 116-111 for Smith and 114-113 for Bundrage. However, upon recalculating the scorecards, judge Dave Hess' score for Bundrage had been inaccurately tabulated. In fact, Hess had the fight 114-114, making Smith a majority decision winner.

Santa Cruz likely on May 4 card

March, 8, 2013
3/08/13
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Leo Santa CruzJeff Gross/Getty ImagesLeo Santa Cruz's exciting style could be on display on the Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero card.

NEW YORK -- Had a chance to talk with Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer on Friday at the weigh-in for Saturday night’s Tavoris Cloud-Bernard Hopkins light heavyweight title fight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. He dropped a few solid nuggets:

• Leo Santa Cruz, who recently gave up his bantamweight world title to move up to junior featherweight, likely will appear on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Robert Guerrero fight in one of the bouts featured on the Showtime PPV telecast. He said they’re working on a fight between Santa Cruz (23-0-1, 13 KOs) and faded former champ Rafael Marquez (41-8, 37 KOs). Marquez has been promoted by Zanfer and Top Rank -- the Golden Boy rival -- but Schaefer said Marquez is now a free agent and they are working on the fight.

Also likely to appear on the PPV is J’Leon Love (16-0, 8 KOs), a middleweight prospect from Detroit who is promoted by Mayweather. One name they are discussing as a possible opponent is Gabriel Rosado, a longtime junior middleweight who was stopped on cuts in a January middleweight title bout by Gennady Golovkin.

The May 4 co-feature is already set: featherweight titlist Daniel Ponce De Leon defending against former junior featherweight titlist Abner Mares, who recently vacated his belt.

• The proposed junior welterweight title fight between Lamont Peterson and Lucas Matthysse is still being worked on, but Schaefer said the Peterson team wants the fight in his hometown of Washington, D.C., rather than Atlantic City, N.J., which is where Schaefer planned to bring it. He said Matthysse is reluctant to fight Peterson in his hometown, which is understandable because both of Matthysse’s losses came by split decision in the hometown of his opponents, Zab Judah and Devon Alexander. Schaefer said he is talking to both sides and seemed confident the fight would be finalized.

• Junior welterweight prospect Omar Figueroa (20-0-1, 16 KOs) likely will be in the opener of the Showtime doubleheader on April 20 headlined by the much-anticipated Saul “Canelo” Alvarez-Austin Trout junior middleweight unification fight at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Figueroa is from Weslaco, Texas. He is coming off a 47-second wipeout of Henry Aurad last week in San Antonio, where he has a nice fan following. Figueroa is untested but Schaefer said, “We want him to fight a real opponent on that (April 20) card.”

J’Leon Love gets new opponent

February, 13, 2013
2/13/13
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The injury bug rolls on. Bitten this time: junior middleweight Bronco McKart, who was due to face Detroit prospect J’Leon Love on Feb. 23 on a Showtime undercard.

But Golden Boy Promotions announced Wednesday that McKart, a long-faded former 154-pound titleholder, had suffered a rib injury and withdrawn from the fight. Taking McKart’s place against the 25-year-old Love (14-0, 8 KOs) is Derrick Findley (20-8, 13 KOs), 28, of Gary, Ind.

Their scheduled 10-round bout will take place at the Masonic Temple Theatre in Detroit as the co-feature to junior middleweight titleholder Cornelius “K9” Bundrage (32-4, 19 KOs) of Detroit making his third defense, which will come against Ishe Smith (24-5, 11 KOs) of Las Vegas.

This isn’t a very good card, but Findley, in my view, is at least a mild upgrade over the 41-year-old McKart, who hasn’t been a factor for roughly a decade. Findley has won two fights in a row and knocked out Ronald Hearns in the second round in October -- and he is not in his 40s. But the fact that Showtime would even put on Love against McKart or Findley is questionable at best. But remember one thing -- Love is with adviser Al Haymon and he generally gets what he wants.

For those keeping track of the rampant recent injury toll that has impacted premium cable cards so far this year: super middleweight champ Andre Ward hurt his shoulder and his fight with Kelly Pavlik was canceled; Danny Garcia hurt his rib and his junior welterweight title defense against Zab Judah was postponed; Devon Alexander strained a biceps and his welterweight title defense against Kell Brook was postponed for the second time (and was originally postponed to headline the Feb. 23 card); heavyweight Johnathon Banks broke his thumb and his rematch with Seth Mitchell, which was supposed to be Saturday, was postponed; and featherweight Jayson Velez hurt his ankle and had to pull out of a title fight against Daniel Ponce De Leon.

Love-Valenzuela named co-feature

September, 5, 2012
9/05/12
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When welterweight titlist Randall Bailey dropped out of his title defense against Devon Alexander on short notice, it left Showtime and Golden Boy in a bit of a bind for Saturday night's card. But they elected to salvage the show at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas by elevating the original co-feature to the main event.

In that fight, Olusegun Ajose (30-0, 14 KOs) of Nigeria faces slugger Lucas Matthysse (31-2, 29 KOs) of Argentina for a vacant interim junior welterweight belt. But when the announcement was made, Showtime and Golden Boy also said that a second fight would be added to the telecast.

What would it be? Well, they never said, only that they were working on a few things. None of them came to pass, so on Wednesday they announced that the 10-round middleweight bout between prospect J'Leon Love (12-0, 7 KOs) of Las Vegas and Chicago's Ramon Valenzuela (7-1, 1 KO) would move up to the main Showtime telecast (9 p.m. ET/PT).
Love-Valenzuela was originally supposed to be part of the Showtime Extreme coverage of preliminary fights (7 p.m. ET/PT).

Love, 24, who is with adviser Al Haymon and recently had his promotional contract sold by Lou DiBella to Mayweather Promotions, will be fighting for the fourth time this year.

Valenzuela, 21, is coming off a loss on May 25, so it is a bit questionable that Showtime would put such a low-caliber fight on the premium telecast. This fight might rate an opening fight on the network's prospect series, "ShoBox: The New Generation."

I joked with Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza this week that since they did not have a notable fight lined up, perhaps it would have been fun to do it WWE-style and just let the audience be surprised when it was fight time.

In any event, this is a golden opportunity for Love and Valenzuela to show what they've got under odd circumstances.

"We don't take anybody lightly," Love said. "I know the guy's coming off of a loss recently, which makes him even hungrier to get back in the game and get a victory, so I know he's coming to fight. I know he has a lot to prove right now, but I'm not the one to make a statement against. We're looking to get that victory. We're two young fighters with a lot of skills, and we're going to put it on the line and get it done. It's going to be a good fight."

Said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, "This is a wonderful opportunity for J'Leon and he will definitely take advantage of the opportunity to showcase his skills on Saturday night. We're really excited and looking forward to him going out there to take care of business against Valenzuela."

The Showtime Extreme telecast will include Daquan Arnett (6-0, 4 KOs) of Orlando, Fla., against Mexico’s Jesus Tavera (3-2, 1 KO) in a scheduled six-round junior middleweight fight and Las Vegas’ Ishe Smith (23-5, 11 KOs) facing Puerto Rico's Irving Garcia (17-7-3, 8 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder at junior middleweight.

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