Dan Rafael: Yuri Foreman

When former junior middleweight titlist Yuri Foreman abruptly retired last week because he was upset over what he deemed to be an onerous contract with his manager, it left a hole on the HBO PPV undercard for the June 7 Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto middleweight championship fight at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Foreman was supposed to face hard-punching Jorge Melendez of Puerto Rico, one of the fighters Cotto promotes. After running through various names, it will be Argentina’s Javier Maciel who will face Melendez on short notice.

And you know what? It’s probably a better fight, since Foreman can make Guillermo Rigondeaux look exciting while Maciel likes to mix it up a bit more.

“Definitely a tougher fight,” said Gaby Penagaricano, Cotto’s adviser who is also deeply involved with Cotto Promotions. “Maciel is a very durable and credible fighter. Jorge needs to beat this type of opponent to get ready for a title shot against the big names.”

The 29-year-old Maciel (29-3, 20 KOs) lost a split decision to Brian Rose in October in a junior middleweight title elimination fight that made Rose the mandatory challenger for Demetrius Andrade. Maciel rebounded with a decision win in Argentina on April 19 over Cesar Sastre Silva.

After Foreman withdrew, Cotto Promotions wanted to match Melendez with Luciano Cuello (34-3, 17 KOs), another fighter from Argentina. Cuello had made a good impression in a competitive 10-round decision loss to Willie Nelson on HBO last June. His only other losses are to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Canelo Alvarez.

However, Cuello fought Saturday night in Argentina. Although he won, it was a tough 12-rounder, making him unavailable for such a quick turnaround.

“We wanted Cuello, but after the fight Saturday, [it was] impossible,” Penagaricano said.

Melendez (28-3-1, 26 KOs), 25, has won two fights in a row since an upset unanimous decision loss to Nick Brinson last June.

In the HBO PPV opener, longtime middleweight contender Andy Lee (32-2, 22 KOs), who is moving down in weight, will face John Jackson (18-1, 15 KOs), son of former middleweight and junior middleweight Julian Jackson, in a 10-rounder at junior middleweight. Then comes Melendez-Maciel. In the scheduled 10-round co-feature, former junior featherweight titleholder Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (23-3-1, 19 KOs) of Puerto Rico will face former junior bantamweight titlist Marvin Sonsona (18-1-1, 15 KOs) of the Philippines at featherweight. The fight is a rematch of Vazquez’s fourth-round knockout in 2010 to win a vacant junior featherweight belt.

Yuri Foreman retires?

May, 19, 2014
May 19
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One of the fights scheduled to be part of what is a woeful pay-per-view undercard for the Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto middleweight championship fight on June 7 (HBO PPV) from Madison Square Garden in New York is a junior middleweight bout between Jorge Melendez (28-3-1, 26 KOs) of Puerto Rico and former titleholder Yuri Foreman (32-2, 9 KOs) of New York.

But on Monday, Foreman, who lost his belt by ninth-round knockout to Cotto in 2010 at Yankee Stadium, said on his Facebook page that he was retiring and not fighting. He said it is because of a dispute he is having with manager Len Zimmerman.

“Dear Friends! Unknowingly, I signed a very harmful contract regarding my boxing [career],” Foreman wrote. “I tried all possible ways to free myself from it, but nothing else I can do than announce my retirement from boxing. So from now [on] I'm on to bigger and better things. Much blessings!”

You probably won’t find too many fight fans upset that Foreman might be off the show. There’s a reason why many call him “Yuri Boreman.” Promoter Lou DiBella, however, hopes Foreman will change his mind and issued a statement on the odd situation.

“Yuri Foreman has been training hard for his fight on June 7th against Jorge Melendez. At this moment, there is a dispute within Yuri's team that does not involve DiBella Entertainment,” DiBella said. “Yuri has worked very hard on his comeback to get to an opportunity like this. Lou DiBella and DBE have a great working and personal relationship with Yuri. We are awaiting a phone call and hope to see him fight on June 7th at MSG. This will be resolved very shortly."

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.

Yuri Foreman returns with win

January, 24, 2013
1/24/13
3:03
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Former junior middleweight titlist Yuri Foreman, remember him? Well, he’s back.

Foreman took on Brandon Baue on Wednesday night at BB King Blues Club & Grill in New York's Times Square, his first bout in 22 months.

Foreman pitched a shutout in the six-round junior middleweight bout against Baue (12-9, 10 KOs), who lost his sixth fight in a row. It wasn’t supposed to be much of a fight, just a way for Foreman, 32, to ease back into action, which he did by dominating to the tune of 60-54 scorecards across the board.

Foreman (29-2, 8 KOs) rose to prominence by becoming the first Orthodox Jew in approximately 70 years to win a world title when he outpointed Daniel Santos to win a belt in November 2009.

Foreman lost the title in his first defense, getting stopped in the ninth round by Miguel Cotto at Yankee Stadium in June 2010 (after a knee injury he suffered in the seventh essentially ended his chances). In March 2011, Foreman was stopped in the sixth round by Pawel Wolak and hadn't fought since.

Against Baue, Foreman shook off the rust of the long layoff, controlled the fight with his jab and showed that his knee was just fine.

Promoter Lou DiBella, who recently signed Foreman, said he would be back soon “as he aims to once again become a force in the junior middleweight division.”

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