Dan Rafael: Samuel Peter

Rios-Alvarado III possible

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
Mike Alvarado and Rusian ProvodnikovJosh Hedges/Getty ImagesBrandon Rios and Mike Alvarado could face for a third time next year.
A few notes from the boxing world:

• Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado are 1-1 in their two hellacious fight of the year contenders. A rubber match to settle the score is a must, and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com that he hopes to make the fight for early 2015.

“We’re talking about it, maybe in January, on HBO,” Arum said.

In October 2012, Rios (32-2-1, 23 KOs) stopped Alvarado in the seventh round of a brutal junior welterweight slugfest and then dropped a close, unanimous decision in the immediate and equally brutal rematch for a vacant interim title in March 2013. Rios went on to lose a decision to Manny Pacquiao at welterweight and then scored a ninth-round disqualification victory against Diego Chaves on Aug. 2.

Alvarado (34-3, 23 KOs) has lost two in a row since beating Rios in the rematch. Having been elevated to a full titleholder, Alvarado lost the belt in his first defense, getting stopped in front of his hometown Denver crowd by Ruslan Provodnikov in October and then losing a unanimous decision to Juan Manuel Marquez in May.

• The heavyweight rematch between former world title challenger Tony Thompson and Odlanier Solis will take place Oct. 18 in Düsseldorf, Germany, promoter Ahmet Oner announced Tuesday. When they first met March 22 in Oner’s native Turkey, Thompson pulled an upset, winning a split decision. Thompson (39-5, 26 KOs), 42, of Washington, D.C., who has twice been knocked out challenging world champion Wladimir Klitschko, lost his next fight in France to contender Carlos Takam. Solis, 34, the former Cuban Olympic gold medalist now living in Miami, has not fought since the defeat. He was stopped in the first round (knee injury) challenging then-titleholder Vitali Klitschko in 2011.

• Long-faded former welterweight and junior middleweight titleholder Ricardo Mayorga (29-8-1, 23 KOs), 40, of Nicaragua, who has not boxed since suffering an 12th-round knockout loss to Miguel Cotto challenging for his junior middleweight world title in 2011, will face Allen Medina (9-23-1, 1 KO), 36, of Denver, in an eight-round middleweight fight, Epic Sports and Entertainment promoter Ivaylo Gotzev announced. The fight is on a Sept. 27 card at the OKC Downtown Airpark in Oklahoma City that also includes former heavyweight titlist Samuel Peter (34-5, 27 KOs), 34, coming off a 3½-year layoff, and 43-year-old faded former junior middleweight titleholder Luis Ramon “Yory Boy” Campas (102-17-3, 79 KOs) in other eight-round bouts. Peter faces club fighter and former minor league hockey enforcer Ron Aubrey (12-3-1, 12 KOs), and Campas faces Nicaragua native Julio Cesar Lanzas (8-19-6, 1 KO) of Colorado Springs, Colorado, in a middleweight contest.

Helenius needs good performance

March, 19, 2013
Robert HeleniusBoris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty ImagesRobert Helenius returns to the ring on Saturday against journeyman Michael Sprott.

After heavyweight hopeful Robert Helenius polished off former titlist Sergei Liakhovich in a ninth-round knockout win in August 2011, he was red-hot and being discussed as a possible future challenger for either of the heavyweight champion brothers, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko.

Even Wladimir Klitschko himself brought Helenius up as a possible challenger to his throne.

Liakhovich was the third former world titleholder whom Helenius had knocked out in less than two years, adding him to a list that also included Samuel Peter (in devastating fashion) and the long-faded Lamon Brewster.

But since the Liakhovich fight, it’s been a struggle for Helenius (18-0, 11 KOs), who hopes to get back on track with a good performance against British journeyman Michael Sprott (37-19, 17 KOs) on Saturday (Epix and EpixH.com, 4 p.m. ET) at the GETEC-Arena in Magdeburg, Germany. Helenius-Sprott is the co-featured bout on the card headlined by the rematch between super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham (36-3, 28 KOs) and Robert Stieglitz (43-3, 24 KOs).

After beating Liakhovich, Finland’s Helenius -- known as the “Nordic Nightmare” -- won the vacant European title by claiming a split decision against Dereck Chisora. But it was a terrible hometown decision in a fight many thought Chisora had won rather easily.

Then came a 13-month layoff for the 6-foot-6 Helenius, who needed surgery to repair a nagging right shoulder injury. When he returned in November, Helenius fought with no passion in a lethargic and an uninspiring 10-round decision win against 5-11 journeyman Sherman Williams, who actually hurt Helenius with an overhand right in the sixth round.

The 38-year-old Sprott is vastly experienced against numerous name opponents in his 17-year pro career, including losses to former world titleholders Corrie Sanders, Ruslan Chagaev and Brewster. Sprott’s biggest win came in 2007, when he knocked countryman Audley Harrison out cold in the third round (but then was stopped in the 12th round of their 2010 rematch).

More recently, Sprott ended a four-fight losing streak in December with an upset decision win in a rematch with unbeaten prospect Edmund Gerber, who had stopped Sprott in the fourth-round in his previous fight in September.

“I was present in Nuremberg (Germany) when he beat Gerber,” Helenius said. “Sprott is technically gifted, so I will have to make use of my height and reach advantage. My jab could make the difference.”

Robert Helenius resumes training

August, 21, 2012
Robert HeleniusBoris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty ImagesRobert Helenius returns to the ring on Saturday against journeyman Michael Sprott.

Heavyweight contender Robert Helenius of Finland recently returned to the gym to train following surgery on his injured right shoulder earlier in the year.

“He returned back to the gym and has started using his arm again,” Sauerland Event promoter Chris Meyer said.

As for how the shoulder is holding up and if there is a specific fight in the works, Meyer said, “Nothing to report so far. He just started in the gym again.”

Although no fight is set for Helenius – who vacated the European title -- Sauerland Event expects him back in the ring before the end of the year. The original target return was September, but that will be pushed into later in the year.

The 28-year-old Helenius (17-0, 11 KOs) was beginning to get a lot of attention after a series of impressive knockouts against former world titleholders Lamon Brewster, Sergei Liakhovich and Samuel Peter. Even the heavyweight champion brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko had mentioned him as a possible future opponent.

However, Helenius’ momentum was severely blunted by a gift hometown split decision in Helsinki against Dereck Chisora when they met for the vacant European title in December. In January, the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Helenius disclosed a chronic shoulder problem and had surgery. It forced him out of a planned March 31 European title defense and into the layoff.

Don King to put on (rare) card

May, 30, 2012
Promoter Don King doesn't put on many boxing cards these days, and his stable is barren of fighters who interest the premium cable networks (with the exception of light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud). But King, 80, announced one of his rare shows Wednesday, a June 23 card at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.

There are some faded names on the card (which has no television outlet), along with some local fighters, which pales in comparison to the megashows filled with world title fights that the High-Haired One put on in the past. The main event features a heavyweight fight between Tony Grano (19-2-2, 15 KOs) and DaVarryl Williamson (27-6, 23 KOs), who are both good punchers.

Also of note is the return of former heavyweight titlist Samuel Peter (34-5, 27 KOs), who scored one of his most significant victories in the same arena in 2007 when he easily outpointed James Toney. Peter, who doesn't have an opponent yet, is a shell of what he once was and is coming off two brutal knockout losses in a row -- a 10th-round destruction by Wladimir Klitschko in a world championship fight in September 2010, followed by an equally brutal ninth-round knockout by Robert Helenius in April 2011.

Also on the card will be lightweight prospect Angelo Santana (12-0, 9 KOs), a Cuban fighting out of Miami, against Justin Savi (26-1, 18 KOs) of Benin; popular South Florida draw Joey Hernandez (21-1-1, 12 KOs) in a junior middleweight bout against Brandon Baue (12-6, 10 KOs); and Ukrainian heavyweight Oleg Platov (29-1, 23 KOs), who hasn't fought since June 2010, facing an opponent to be determined.