Whilst most in boxing will acknowledge that mandatory title defences are a necessity in providing fighters the opportunity to force their way towards a world title shot regardless of how much clout their promoter has with the governing in question, there are however certain instances where it is difficult to conceive exactly what the mandatory challenger in question has done to be deserving of their lofty ranking.
One such instance has led to this Saturday’s WBC heavyweight world title clash between champion Deontay Wilder (38-0-0, 37 KO’s) and number one contender Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KO’s). The challenger, who held the title for an eight month period between 2014 and 2015, has not fought in two years, and only once since losing his crown to Wilder back in January 2015: labouring to a points win over veteran gatekeeper Derric Rossy on that one inauspicious occasion. The Haitian had originally accepted a “step aside” settlement – believed to be a six figure sum, which enabled Wilder to face Louis Ortiz as opposed to fulfilling his mandatory obligations. However the Cuban southpaws failed drugs test would see the former champion drafted in as a replacement, having originally been scheduled to fight Dominic Breazeale on Saturday’s undercard.
In the previous encounter between the two protagonists, Stiverne succumbed to a wide unanimous decision loss at the hands of the Alabama native: relinquishing his grip on the WBC crown which he had claimed via a TKO win over Chris Arreola in May of the previous year. The thirty nine year old will therefore be seeking to seize upon the unexpected opportunity and inflict retribution for his 2015 reverse, to reclaim a portion of the heavyweight championship of the world.
Whilst the Haitian is regarded as a long-shot amongst the boxing cognoscenti, it is important to bear in mind that heavyweight boxing has seen far greater shocks down the years, than that which would take place should he manage to reclaim his former title this weekend. “B-Ware” arguably remains among the world’s top ten heavyweights and possesses sufficient power to trouble the champion, who whilst undefeated has exhibited fragility on a number of occasions throughout his career thus far.
Despite holding his title for almost three years “The Bronze Bomber” has yet to face top tier heavyweight opposition, having seen prospective defences against Alexander Povetkin and the aforementioned Luis Ortiz fall through on account of the pair testing positive for banned substances. The Tuscaloosa resident will therefore be eager to dispose of his mandatory challenger with minimum fuss, paving the way for a potential 2018 showdown with WBA & IBF kingpin Anthony Joshua.
A clash between the pair would be see heavyweight boxing once again capture the imagination of the wider public, following the best part of two decades in the sporting wilderness. Lights out punching power coupled with a smattering of vulnerability in both men, will be certain to make for an exhilarating spectacle, should the bout ever come to fruition.
Saturday’s clash on the other hand has been widely met with derision from boxing public who have rightly called into question the rationale behind the challenger’s number one ranking with the WBC. One point of intrigue however is the question of whether an inactive near forty year old Stiverne remains capable of withstanding Wilder’s destructive if somewhat ragged artillery, or whether the 2008 Olympian will add his old foe to his burgeoning collection of highlight reel knockout victims.
The heavyweight re-match heads up an intriguing bill at Brooklyn’s Barclay Center this Saturday featuring former IBF welterweight titlist Shawn Porter in what is expected to be an entertaining scrap with the under-rated Adrian Granados, in addition to further heavyweight action in the form of Dominic Breazeale versus two time world title challenger Eric Molina. The card is set to be broadcast on HBO in the United States and Sky Sports for viewers in the UK, who will hope to see Wilder face off against their leading light in the not too distant future.
Article by: Gareth Gonet
You can follow Gareth on Twitter at: @garethgonet
Carl Frampton's highly-anticipated return to the squared circle did not go exactly according to plan, with a hard-fought unanimous decision win over Mexico’s Horacio Garcia in front of an adoring hometown crowd at the SSE Arena in Belfast.
After a turbulent 2017, which saw the Northern Irishman suffering his first professional career loss to Leo Santa Cruz - in addition to splitting with long-time trainer Shane McGuigan and undergoing a promotional shake-up – Frampton was able to close out a difficult year on a somewhat positive note, securing victory with slightly generous tallies of 98-93, 97-93 and 96-93 on all three judges’ scorecards.
Throughout the early rounds, the former super-bantamweight and featherweight titlist was seemingly content to play the cool matador to Garcia’s rampaging bull, picking his opponent off with cute counters complemented by evasive footwork. However, as the fight progressed into the middle rounds, Frampton became increasingly tired in the face of Garcia’s obdurate surges forward, who was at that point growing in confidence and connecting with more frequency.
The former two-weight world champion then abandoned his previous counterpunching-oriented strategy, and elected to become embroiled in an entertaining slugfest with his opposite number from Guadalajara – with domestic rivals Josh Warrington and Scott Quigg, as well as Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez, seated ringside.
As the thrilling exchanges between the two prompted deafening roars from the Belfast crowd, the consternation pervading the arena was tangible during the seventh round after a slip from an apparently off-balance Frampton was incorrectly deemed a knockdown by referee Victor Laughlin.
Nevertheless, Frampton regained his composure and was ultimately able to see off the characteristically tough Garcia in what was, all things considered, a relatively nip-and-tuck affair.
Meanwhile, super-flyweight Jamie Conlan’s first crack at a world title was unsuccessful as IBF titleholder Jerwin Ancajas simply proved to be too much on the night for the previously undefeated challenger.
A resilient, albeit overmatched Conlan was repeatedly knocked down and pummelled with debilitating shots to the midsection, until referee Steve Gray called a halt to proceedings in the sixth.
There was additional success for Irish fighters on the card, however, as undefeated prospect and former Olympian Paddy Barnes moved to 5-0 after delivering an exquisite body shot to Nicaraguan Elicier Quezada in the sixth-round, claiming both the WBO intercontinental flyweight title and his first stoppage win in the process.
WBO bantamweight champion Zolani Tete also wowed ringside spectators with a jaw-dropping thunderous one-punch knockout over compatriot Siboniso Gonya in the very first round.
In taking just eleven seconds to dispose of his opponent, the heavy-handed South African reportedly set a new record, and will now undoubtedly be coveting unification fights with the likes of Ryan Burnett and Luis Nery, in order to stake his claim as the best 118-lber in the world.
Report by: Navi Singh
You can follow Navi on Twitter at: @hombre__obscuro
In just over three weeks’ time, boxing fans will be treated to a historic match-up. On December 9th in Madison Square Garden, New York, Vasyl ‘Hi-Tech’ Lomachenko will defend his WBO Super Featherweight title against Guillermo ‘El Chacal’ Rigondeaux; the first time in boxing history that two double Olympic gold medallists have faced each other in the professional ranks.
The statistics attached to the impending matchup are impressive. Between them in the amateur ranks, the two pugilists went a mind-boggling 871 wins combined to only 13 losses. As professionals, they are multiple world title holders who share a combined record of 26 wins, 18 by way of knockout, with just a single loss.
In view of the historical nature of the match-up and such figures, one would expect it to be one of the most heavily-hyped fights of the year. From Rigondeaux’s perspective: it has been anything but.
Within the last 24 hours, Rigondeaux has taken to social media to express his dissatisfaction with what he perceives to be the under-promotion of the fight. Reading between the lines, it is a clear shot being fired at Bob Arum and Top Rank Promotions, the current promoters of Lomachenko and formerly of Rigondeaux, with whom he parted in 2014 in less than amicable circumstances. For Rigondeaux, the turning point was his decisive 2013 victory over the then-WBO Super Bantamweight Champion and '2012 Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year', Nonito Donaire, who he schooled in a fight which was far more one-sided than the scorecards suggested. Rigondeaux claims that Arum and Top Rank never forgave him for extinguishing the lights of one of the brightest stars in their stable. For Arum and Top Rank’s part, Rigondeaux’s defensive style of fighting made him a far more difficult sell to boxing audience, especially in comparison to the all-action style of the defeated 'The Filipino Flash'.
Carl Frampton returns to the ring at Belfast’s SSE Arena this Saturday, in what will be his debut under the guidance of new promoter Frank Warren and new trainer Jamie Moore. 'The Jackal' will be eager to close the book on a tumultuous period which saw him lose his WBA featherweight world title and have his homecoming bout cancelled at the eleventh hour, before going on to split from trainer Shane McGuigan and depart Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone promotions: all in the space of seven months.
With both camps remaining tight-lipped regarding the fall-out, little is known as to what triggered the Belfast fighters shock August split from the McGuigans. The news came on the heels of weeks of speculation surrounding Frampton’s future with the promotional outfit, triggered by the fighter's resignation from Cyclone’s board of directors on the 21st of July.
The Belfast hero will be seeking to return to winning ways in his home city this weekend, having dropping a twelve round decision to Mexican three-weight World Champion Leo Santa Cruz in their Las Vegas rematch in January of this year. The disappointing reverse remains his last trip to the ring.
In what will be his first non-title contest since April 2014, Frampton will look to unleash ten months of frustration upon featherweight contender Horacio Garcia, who faces the unenviable task of occupying the away corner in-front of a partisan crowd this Saturday. The Mexican enters the contest as a heavy underdog, with his thirty-seven fight record devoid of notable names barring 2012 US Olympian Joseph Diaz, to whom he succumbed to a lop-sided decision victory in December of last year. “Violento”, however, will be looking to seize the opportunity to enter the upper echelons of the 126 pound weight class with a shock-win over one of the division's elite, forcing himself into title contention for 2018.
In Frampton, Garcia will face a fighter who has appeared reinvigorated of late, having rediscovered his love of the sport in working with new trainer Jamie Moore. The former two-weight king joined Moore at his Manchester training base, initially on a trial basis, after his aforementioned split with Shane McGuigan earlier this year. Following a successful inauguration, the Northern Irishman decided he need look no further, and subsequently announced that he would resume his career with the former European 154 pound champ in his corner. In just two short months, fighter and trainer appear to have struck up an almost-instantaneous chemistry, with Frampton making all of the right noises as he bids to make a successful return to the ring.
After piecing together the final parts of his new team in the ensuing weeks - with announcements that he had signed with boxing management outfit MTK as well as Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren - Frampton returns to the sport with a renewed sense of vigour, and will be hoping to recapture the form that made him 'Ring Magazine 2016 Fighter of the Year'.
The move to the Warren stable opens up the possibility of future domestic clashes with both Josh Warrington and IBF World Featherweight Champion Lee Selby, with the latter scheduled to fight on the veteran promoter's December 9th card at the Copper Box Arena in London.
With a plethora of potential big fights on the horizon - both at home and across the Atlantic - the twenty-nine-year-old will look to put a stacked Featherweight division on notice with an emphatic victory over Horatio Garcia in front of his adoring public this weekend.
Garcia will be joined at ringside by fellow Guadalajara native Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who will be hoping to see his Golden Boy stable-mate spring an upset victory. Most however, believe that Garcia would require the Mexican superstar to join him in the ring if he is to have a realistic chance of upsetting the local hero.
After proclaiming 2017 to be "the worst year of my career", Frampton has afforded himself every opportunity to ensure 2018 is, in fact, the exact opposite. While one would imagine sterner - and more lucrative - bouts are on the horizon, Frampton will undoubtedly have his eye fixed firmly on Horacio Garcia this weekend. With an adoring fanbase tuning in on an action-packed evening for Belfast boxing, Frampton will be keen to remind observers of the sport as to who the city's top dog is.
'The Day of The Jackal' is Saturday evening, live on BT Sport and BoxNation...
Article by: Gareth Gonet
You can follow Gareth on Twitter at: @garethgonet
Emerging Super Bantamweight prospect Lucien Reid (7-0-0 4 KO's) has said he will challenge for titles at the beginning of 2018, after a ‘slow start’ since turning over in the professional ranks two years ago.
Reid - nicknamed ‘Lethal’ - established himself as a talented amateur, claiming a Senior ABA Elite 54kg title in 2013 and was a finalist at 56kgs the following year. Thus far as a pro, however, for reasons unknown to him, the East Londoner has struggled to gain momentum.
Following nearly one year of inactivity, Reid resumed his career when he returned to the ring to victorious against Michael Mooney in May, before beating Jose Aguilar in September on the undercard of former-stablemate Billy Joe Saunders' WBO World Middleweight title defence against Willie Monroe Jr.
The 23 year-old looks to continue the reinvigoration process of his career on December 16th at the Brentwood Centre, where he will attempt to improve his record to 8-0 and put on another exciting show for the fans.
"I’ve got no opponent just yet, but I’ll be looking for a more game opponent and I’ll be boxing for titles early next year.” said Reid, in an exclusive interview with Behind The Gloves .
"I know I’m boxing for titles early next year. I’ve spoken to Adam [Booth] and he said when I had come off that long eleven month lay-off it wasn’t the right time to be going into hard fights. He wanted me to get more rounds underneath my belt and learn the trade more as we hadn’t been together that long."
Reid, who parted ways with his former trainer Peter Sims last November, is now - as mentioned previously - under the tutelage of esteemed and highly-respected coach Adam Booth, who he says says is having a massive influence in his corner.
”We’re starting to really bond and I’m really starting to take to the style." he stated.
"He [Booth] wanted me to get more rounds, and December 16th we want a game opponent who is actually going to give me them: then when I fight for titles, I’ll know where my fitness is at over ten to 12 rounds."
Throughout the years, boxing has seen many of its best known participants refuse to acknowledge their decline, instead stubbornly opting to remain in the sport well beyond their sell by date: more often ending in disaster than in glory.
Those in the boxing who reside outside of the ropes however, can enjoy a more substantial lifespan than the sports combatants. One such example is British Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren, who after almost forty years in the fight game is enjoying something of a career renaissance; in no small part due to the signing of his exclusive rights deal with broadcasting giant BT sport in November of last year.
Throughout a stellar promotional career, the Londoner has been a leading player in the UK boxing market, having been responsible for promoting some of the sport’s most illustrious names including Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe and Prince Naseem Hamed.
Warren would see his high standing in the UK market go largely unchallenged throughout the noughties, with main promotional rival Barry Hearn opting to scale down his involvement in boxing in order to focus on other sporting ventures.
In 2011, the veteran promoters decision to leave Sky Sports for his own fledgling network BoxNation - coupled with the emergence of promotional upstart Eddie Hearn (son of the aforementioned Barry Hearn) - would bring an abrupt end to the dominance which Warren had enjoyed over the previous decade. The younger Hearn’s meteoric rise within the sport would see an exodus of top names from the Warren stable, including future world champions George Groves, Tony Bellew and James DeGale, all seemingly enticed by the effervescent Hearn’s bold plans for U.K. boxing.
Without the financial backing of a major broadcaster, the next five years would see Warren struggle to deliver major fights for his top fighters, who were failing to garner wider exposure: owing largely to the fact they were plying their trade exclusively on a subscription boxing channel, well beyond the view of the wider sporting public.
Throughout this period, Warren would lose out to Matchroom in the signing of several much sought after prospects, including 2012 Olympic gold medallists Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell. Warren would also watch from afar as his bitter-rival Hearn accomplished a landmark promotional feat, in selling out Wembley Stadium for the Froch vs Groves rematch in 2014.
Evidently dismayed at losing his position atop the British boxing industry, the Queensberry boss would continually levy public criticism upon his younger rival at every opportunity. The subsequent discourse between the pair would result in a promotional cold war, akin to that seen across the Atlantic between Oscar De La Hoya and Top Rank supremo Bob Arum. The prospect of major inter-stable fights would resultantly enter the realms of fantasy, where it remains to this day.
In recent days, former lineal heavyweight champion of the world, Tyson Fury, released a video on social media of his pad workout at the Hatton Gym, as he continues to talk up a boxing comeback in the near future. Fury, of course, has not been seen in the ring since November 2015 when he sensationally dethroned Wladimir Klitschko on a famous night in Düsseldorf, Germany: rendered inactive by a combination of anti-doping and mental health issues.
In that time, we have been subjected to a painfully predictable and, quite frankly, tiresome trend of Fury vacillating between announcing his permanent retirement from the sport and, alternatively, vowing a comeback to rival Muhammad Ali.
Let me make things clear from the outset: mental illness is a terrible affliction which I would not wish upon anyone.
In this respect, Fury deserves our full sympathy and well wishes. The racism which he has been subjected to by members of the public on account of his Irish Traveller heritage is despicable and must be condemned unequivocally. Moreover, as a boxing purist, I regard him as a talented and heavily underrated exponent of the sweet science. In fact, I would favour a mentally focussed and in-shape Fury to outpoint current WBA 'Super' and IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, should the two ever meet in what would be a blockbuster domestic clash. It would, however, seem that we are still a long way away from both presumptions.
Unbeaten Irish star John Joe Nevin can’t wait to return to the ring on Friday 24th November and kick-start his career as aims to make 2018 his year.
The 2012 Olympic Silver medallist has his first fight in Britain as a professional at the Tolworth Recreation Centre on the undercard of female World Champion Pink Tyson, alongside Lenny Daws, hot prospect Yusuf Safa and many more.
Nevin is heralded as one of the most decorated amateur boxers ever with an illustrious record that reads: Double Olympian, 2012 Olympic Silver, 2 World Bronze, European and European Union Champion, 15 times All Ireland Champion; a staggering 255 amateur contests - of which 210 were Internationals - with just 15 losses.
The Mullingar ace has had various problems from physical, personal and promotional issues since turning professional, but the 29-year-old has put together a solid eight-fight unbeaten record that has seen him campaign in American and Ireland.
His last fight was on 26th August 2016 at the Sugar House Casino in Philadelphia when he defeated Jesus Lule, winning every round in the six-round contest. He was scheduled to fight in September this year, but medical licensing and opponent issues meant that that it had to be postponed.
However, Nevin is now thrilled to return to London where he celebrated the pinnacle of his amateur career by winning Olympic Silver alongside a standout Irish team that included Michael Conlan, Katie Taylor and Paddy Barnes.
“It’s fantastic to return to London where I’ve had so many amateur fights and great memories, but of course the highlight was lifting silver for myself and the Irish team, that is something I will never ever forget,” Said Nevin.
“The Irish team was packed with so many talented fighters like Michael, Katie and Paddy and they’re all doing amazing in the pros. I’ve had my troubles, but through all of that I’m proud to hold an undefeated record and there is so much ahead of me now,”
“I feel that in a way, the rest has made me stronger and maybe that is for the best. Remember, I had 255 amateur fights with almost all of those at a high level over 20 years and I’ve had no real breaks, so now I feel strong again and I just can’t wait,”
Nevin will step up to super-lightweight and take on Killamarsh’s Lee Connelly over six-rounds at the Tolworth Recreations Centre and then look for some big fights next year."
He added, “I wanted a heavier opponent and to get some more rounds in and I didn’t want someone who was going to tumble over so boxing at super-lightweight is where I see myself being most effective from now on,”
“I’m in the gym every day with my trainer Jim McDonnell, he’s a tremendous coach and along with his sons they form a top team and now it is up to me to become a champion,”
“For now I’m focusing on the 24th November and then looking at a big 2018 when I know some exciting opportunities are going to come my way. Long term the aim is to become a world champion and I believe I can do that.”
Female World Champion Pink Tyson, real name Kallia Kourouni, from Sparta, Greece, headlines the show, promoted by Hennessy Sports in association with Joey Pyle and John Edwards.
Morden’s favourite fighting son, “Lightning” Lenny Daws makes his long awaited return to the ring. Daws looks to return to winning ways as he targets a third shot at the European Super-Lightweight crown and win it for a third time following his close attempt in February this year against Anthony Yigit.
Undefeated Bexleyheath Super-Featherweight prospect Yusuf Safa returns to action following his win on the Hughie Fury-Joseph Parker undercard and aims to target his first professional title shortly.
Two-time Olympian John Joe Nevin from Mullingar, Ireland, has his first in Britain as the supremely talented 28-year-old continues to build on his unbeaten record.
Heading up an exciting undercard will be: Iver Heavyweight Naylor Ball; Mitcham Super-lightweight Cheznie Hawkins; Farnborough’s George Lamport, Camberley Lightweight Jonny Phillips; Chertsey Lightweight Tony Vincent makes his highly-anticipated professional debut and Mitcham Super-lightweightZahayr Al Quahtani.
Doors open at 5:30pm with boxing commencing at 6pm.
Source: Hennessy Sports [Press Release]