The Heist of the Century

  • By Behind The Gloves
  • 31 Aug, 2017

Floyd Mayweather Pulled off the Grandest Heist in Sports History on Saturday Night... And We're Just as Much to Blame as he is.

If you look closely at the above picture, taken in between rounds two and three of his tenth-round TKO of UFC star Conor McGregor, you can just about make out the thoughts of Floyd 'Money' Mayweather:

"I can't believe you all fell for this one..."

Despite McGregor's, ahem, "good start" - in which he arguably "won" the first two rounds of the contest - Mayweather's in-built boxing computer had already calculated the risk factor posed by the unorthodox Irishman: and the results were etched all over his beaming face...

Let's go back in time. It is January of 2016. Less than a month on from his infamous 13-second knockout of long-time UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo, Conor McGregor releases an Instagram post calling out the then-recently retired boxing kingpin Floyd Mayweather:

"Floyd Mayweather, don't ever bring race into my success again. I am an Irishman. My people have been oppressed our entire existence. And still very much are. I understand the feeling of prejudice. It is a feeling that is deep in my blood. In my family's long history of warfare there was a time where just having the name 'McGregor' was punishable by death. Do not ever put me in a bracket like this again. If you want we can organise a fight no problem. I will give you a fair 80/20 split purse in my favour seen as your last fight bombed at every area of revenue. At 27 years of age I now hold the key to this game. The game answers to me now."

The comments followed Mayweather's assertions that McGregor's now-legendary showmanship would have been interpreted as "cocky and arrogant" if it weren't for the colour of his skin. A seemingly flippant remark from Mayweather that was met with full-force by his outlandish MMA counterpart. Needless to say, talk of a proposed fight between the two was a long way from reality. No sane fight fan (who are generally slightly closer to the abyss than most other sports lovers), or even the online boxing odds with William Hill  could have predicted the 'May-Mac' juggernaut that ensued, culminating in their August 26th match-up at T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas.
After 18 months of back-and-forth on social media, Mayweather (right) and McGregor (left) finally squared off in Los Angeles at the first stop of of their World Press Tour.
Despite "retiring" from professional boxing after outclassing former two-time World Welterweight Champion Andre Berto in September of 2015, Mayweather's name was rarely out of the spotlight in the months that followed. First it was then-UFC Women's World Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey, who delivered several verbal barbs at the undefeated boxing icon in a series of highly-provocative interviews. Now, it was the turn of another UFC poster-child in Conor McGregor. In retirement, Mayweather had managed to cast an even larger shadow, filling up column inches across both forms of combat sports.

Apparently happy in his retirement, jet-setting across the globe and counting his many, many millions, Mayweather appeared nonplussed by the constant haranguing. He even claimed on several occasions to not know who Rousey or McGregor was. However, after the meteoric rise of both competitors (a rise that came to a shuddering halt for Rousey soon after), the intrigue for a prospective cross-over fight grew and grew.

Again, let's go back. Floyd Mayweather is sat on the edge of his personalised ring in his purpose-built Las Vegas gym... No, at home in his $15m 'big boy' Las Vegas mansion... No, no, actually, he is flying in one of his three $30m+ private jets... No, actually he's... Ah... You get the picture, right?

Floyd Mayweather is rich. I'm not sure if you knew that? Still, it pays to know before moving on.

After raking in $300m in 36 minutes against Manny Pacquiao in May of 2015, Mayweather shattered all PPV-records and sat atop the Forbes-list for '2015 Highest Paid Athletes'. If that doesn't put a sizeable bullseye on your back - something that, in fairness, Mayweather has had to deal with for the majority of his career - then what will?

As the talk grew-and-grew, there must have been a point in which Mayweather started to do the mathematics: and even for a man not known for his academic-prowess, all of the figures pointed in the right direction: straight to the bank.

Regardless of him poking fun at McGregor in previous interviews (initially referring to him as "Conor Gregor"), there also must have been a point in which the twelve-time World Champion took to a scouting mission. Weighing up the risk-reward factor of facing the trail-blazing McGregor in an unprecedented clash between the two estranged-siblings of combat in boxing and MMA. After all, McGregor had by now become an even bigger star: splitting two heavily-publicised bouts with UFC bad-boy Nate Diaz, before becoming the first simultaneous two-weight World Champion in the promotion's history, adding the Lightweight title to his Featherweight crown by knocking out Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205.
Mayweather earned in excess of £300m in 2015 - topping the Forbes list for 'World's Highest Paid Athlete'. He is set collect another $300m paycheque, following his bout with McGregor on August 26th.
Behind closed doors, Mayweather takes a look at his would-be-opponent...

"... This guy?"

It is something that is all-so-Richard Pryor.

"This guy wants to fight me?"

You can just about envision the look on Mayweather's face, watching in disbelief at McGregor teeing off on unsuspecting wrestlers inside the octagon.

"Everyone wants to see it, Floyd."

(In this imaginary encounter, there is always a gofer in-between the television networks (in this case 'Showtime') and the fighter.)

Mayweather watches as another shot from the wide-stanced, clearly-not-boxing-but-striking McGregor wings in at the head of his opponent. He looks incredulous. Shocked, he turns his head slowly...

"How much they gonna pay me?"

The TV executive clears his throat and shuffles on the spot.

... "About $300m, Floyd. Give or take."

*Silence*

It is at this point that we get to the slapstick comedy moment that the incomparable Pryor was best-known for.

*The-entire-population-of-the-gym/mansion/private-jet-look-at-each-other-in-disbelief*

... Then, they all laugh their asses off.
Mayweather fell victim to Hall-of-Fame trash-talker Conor McGregor during a wild build-up, but he would be the last man laughing after producing a dominant, one-sided beating on fight night.
The significance of Mayweather's ring attire as he made his entrance into the T-Mobile Arena was not lost on fans. In particular, the hardcore boxing fraternity (that I consider myself to belong to). Dressed head-to-toe in black, wearing a menacing-looking ski-mask, Mayweather's brazen choice of apparel said one thing only: "I'm here to rob the bank."

It was a less-than-subtle display of his confidence. Of his absolute certainty of what he was about to achieve - or rather already had achieved - in convincing the world to allow this "fight" to take place.

We all should have known better.

I, for one, knew the way the fight would go. However, in a way I am no different to the most ardent McGregor fan. Even those who actually thought he could compete with the greatest boxer of his generation is his professional debut . This contest took place because society allowed it to. Had the fight have been disregarded at the very first mention as what it was, and what it inevitably turned out to be - a gross mismatch - the wheels would have never been put in motion.

How can we blame Mayweather? Here he is, the greatest fighter of the last 20 years - or more - and along comes someone with a ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLAR GUARANTEE TO FIGHT A MAN YET TO SET FOOT IN A PROFESSIONAL BOXING RING. What was he supposed to do? Say "No, thank you."? Protect the sanctity of boxing (a sport that, as much as I love it, is the most sordid, dark and murky sport of them all)?

Floyd Mayweather may have robbed the bank, but it was us who gave him the key to the vault.

As much as anyone, I did my part in helping to fuel this farcical occurrence. The nature of the beast, so to speak, when working as part of the media is to give people what they want to read about. Sure, my fight preview was little more than a blow-by-blow of how McGregor stood no chance whatsoever  of upsetting Floyd Mayweather, yet still: I wrote it, put it out and shared it across social media. I did my part.

When asked by friends and colleagues, I told them McGregor had "zero chance... Floyd Mayweather wins this fight one hundred times out of one hundred... It's a foregone conclusion" - yet still, I ran polls, I asked questions to which I knew the real answer.,I knew in my heart the futility in doing what I was doing: but I did it anyway.

I spoke with bewildered, misguided MMA fans about their hopes for a McGregor victory, all the while placing more and more money on the surest-of-sure-things in sports history. After literally betting everything I had on Mayweather a scandalously-priced 1/4, I sat back with an element of calm. I have never risked more on a sporting event - in both financial terms and that of reputation - and still, had never felt so comfortable.

Mayweather met the significantly larger McGregor in the ring in the first round, pursing his lips as he seemingly sought to repress his laughter. I am quite sure that not even in his wildest dreams, Mayweather thought he would see the day in which he would meet McGregor in the squared circle, but here he was: $100m guarantee in his back pocket, facing a man in his professional boxing debut. Many fans were angered at the concept, but why? We allowed this to happen .
Mayweather will earn an estimated $300m for Saturday's mismatch, and he dressed the part too: making his entrance wearing a ski-mask, akin to that of a bank robber...
McGregor would start the fight on the front-foot, with the 40-year old Mayweather content to take the most risk-free route to victory. crucially, for his many detractors, this did not involve the tiresome accusation of "running".  Mayweather jockeyed and manoeuvred in the opening session, content to let his opponent gallivant forward, wasting his already-limited energy reserve with a series of needless - and, frankly, hilarious - switches in stance. All the while, Mayweather remained composed, that annoying grin still etched across his face, as he stood in the eye of the "storm".

Apparently, the challenge of facing one of the greatest pure-boxers in the history of the sport was not a big enough challenge for the cocksure, egotistical McGregor: he decided to undertake the challenge without a boxing coach. Owen Roddy, McGregor's MMA striking coach, retained his position (despite, y'know, also never having boxed professionally) and the evidence was shockingly clear. It is the equivalent of not only attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but doing so with a debilitating fear of heights, ably supported by a blind guide.

Yes, McGregor took the middle of the ring. Yes, he arguably "won" the first two rounds. He was able to touch Mayweather with some strikes - notice the differentiation between striking and boxing - but he was never once "winning" the fight. Not in any way, shape or form.

After his "strong start" McGregor took to his corner at the end of the second round, breathing heavily and wearing a mouse under his right eye. For all of his pre-fight promise as the "power-puncher" in the ring, it was the Irishman that seemed to be feeling the sting from his opponent: an opponent that not only hadn't gotten out of first gear, but was yet to even get in the car.

... Then came that smile, and we all knew.
As soon as the bell rang for the third round, Mayweather did as he had promised many in the pre-fight build-up: he came forward.

Sure, he took some strikes - again, notice the difference - as he stalked and strangled McGregor behind a high-guard, but taking shots is the price you pay for walking your opponent down. To do so, you must have two things: a superior boxing IQ (which is a given against virtually every other fighter in the world, let alone a debutant), and also the total lack of consideration for your opponent's punching power. Mayweather had both in spades.

Despite the rallying cry of the uneducated, Mayweather hit the nail on the head at the pre-fight weigh-in when stating: "Weight doesn't win fights. Fighting wins fights."

... And here he was: all 150lbs of him, walking down the 170lbs+ MMA "power-punching" demigod.

It was the simplest way to win the fight and, ironically, the most crowd-pleasing. Win-win for Mayweather: and he won big .

The performance itself was far from his best. It was bereft of the customary artistry we have become used to seeing from Mayweather over the years: simply because it wasn't required. Again, the uneducated point to McGregor's "success" on the punch-stats (y'know, the guy sat ringside counting punches with his own eyes?) as a form of salvation for his plentiful efforts. Had McGregor presented even the slightest of problems to Mayweather from a technical point of view, in all likelihood we would have seen a more defensively astute, fundamentally sound performance. But with the risk-factor so low - zero  - what would be the point? It would have been even more of an insult to fans than what transpired. Hands up, come forward, right hand, repeat . Mayweather boasts one of the sharpest minds in boxing history: the gameplan he came up with required even less thought than some of his cringeworthy pre-fight trash-talking...

"Yeeeaaah!" 

After giving up the early stages, Mayweather laid a sustained beating on McGregor, walking him down with no regard for his fabled "power" before stopping him against the ropes in the 10th round. It was Mayweather's first stoppage victory since 2011.
Of course, Mayweather is not the same fighter he was when he defeated Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez in September 2013 (his last truly great performance), but he has forgotten more than Conor McGregor could ever hope to learn about the sport of boxing.

I don't blame those who felt McGregor might/could/would defeat Floyd Mayweather. I can only chalk that up to ill/non-informed, non-boxing fans (and the pitiful Brendan Schaub). I don't blame Floyd Mayweather, who after plotting and negotiating his way through a carefully-constructed (and, it has to be said, superlative) boxing career, was given the opportunity to literally steal more money from a sport that has already made him a multi-millionaire... and I certainly don't blame Conor McGregor, who after being on unemployment benefit in his native Ireland a mere five years ago was guaranteed $30m (with that figure set to rise considerably after the totting-up of the surely record-breaking PPV & gate) to face a man in Mayweather, in a bout that was of a significantly lower risk to his physical health than stepping into the octagon in 4oz gloves with a man trying to rip his limbs off.

I blame society and I blame myself.

I had always disregarded the notion from some of my fellow-hardcore boxing fans that the bout would "kill boxing", and while I stand by that fact, it is only now that I see what it is they were talking about. This fight should not have happened . It preyed on the sickest part of us as sporting fans. The intense dislike of Mayweather, the seemingly-hypocritical love of McGregor's brash, lavish gregariousness and, of course, tapping into a never-ending market of fans that should've known better.

Floyd Mayweather performed the 'Heist of the Century' on Saturday night.

... We were not victims: we were his accomplices.
Article by: Rob Tebbutt

You can follow Rob on Twitter at: @RobTebbutt
By Behind The Gloves 18 Jan, 2018

The hate between Dillian Whyte and Lucas Browne is real – but both men say that there’s more than pride on the line when they clash for Whyte’s WBC Silver Heavyweight title at The O2 in London on March 24, live on Sky Sports. 

The Heavyweight rivals came face-to-face at a press conference in central London today and left the media in no doubt that there is plenty of true venom behind their fierce social media spats are as they traded barbs before a face-off that ended in a frosty handshake.

That tense show of respect reflected the high stakes in the fight, with Whyte ranked number one in the WBC and former WBA champion Browne hunting a route to becoming a two-time champion – the pair will renew hostilities in two months’ time knowing the winner is in a prime spot to fight for a World crown this year.  

“I hope I can fight for a World title this year,” said Whyte. “Sky Sports and Matchroom are behind me and now it's my time to shine. If I can put on a good show in front of a good crowd at The O2 then they can't deny me.

“I'm highly ranked in all the governing bodies and I think I could become mandatory in two of them, so this is a fight with a top contender against an undefeated former World champion - so you have to say that win this, I deserve a World title shot.

“He's a solid fighter and he's got KO power. Any big guy can chin anyone at any time, but he's just got power. A lot of people are in boxing because they are big men - not because they have skill or heart - they're just physically big and over-powering smaller fighters.

“The guy is a bully and calls himself 'an enforcer' so you have to deal with that in a head-on way. Robert Helenius wasn't like that, he was cool, so I was cool, but Lucas has stepped to me in a demeaning way that I don't like, I take that personally and I'm not going to let it slide. He's giving it the big one because he's got insecurities. This is my city, he's in my backyard, and I'm not going to let him take liberties with me.

“You can't intimidate me. I've been right at the bottom and I've risen up, so nothing fazes me and I'm not scared of anything, especially not Lucas Browne. I'm more scared of my Mum than him.

“Of course, I want the rematch with Anthony Joshua, but the fight with Deontay Wilder would make the AJ fight even bigger if I had the WBC belt. I'm always going to want the Joshua fight because we have history and we keep winning then the fight is inevitable, but there's more to this sport for just fighting for pride, it's business, and the fights have to fit my strategy. If you win a World title, you go down in history as a Heavyweight World Champion, it’s the biggest accolade in sport and that can never be taken from you.”

“The build-up will be spicy and fun, but I think it's going to a great fight and all that matters is winning on March 24,” said Browne. “He calls me a ‘bully’ – well I'm going to show him what a ‘bully’ can do. I made my points today, I'm coming to fight, not for a payday or to roll over, I want his belt and I want to be a World champion again.

“I asked him if he was going to shake my hand and he did - I'm a gentleman. I still hate the guy and want to smash his face in at The O2, but man to man, this is a sport and we should respect each other for fighting.

“I don't like judges' decisions - it's not good for me to have my life and my career in the hands of three people outside the ring. If I KO someone - there's no argument, that's what I like.

“We're both at the point in our careers where we need to put in a big performance to stake a claim to fight for a World title, that's going to make me put it all on the line, and I think it'll do the same for him.”

Tickets for Whyte vs. Browne at The O2 in London are on sale now priced £40, £60 and £100 from   www.theO2.co.uk . VIP tickets priced £200 are exclusively available from   www.matchroomboxing.com

Face value tickets for March 24 are available from   http://www.stubhub.co.uk/matchroom-boxing-tickets/   . StubHub is the official ticket partner and marketplace of Matchroom Boxing and Anthony Joshua.


Source: Matchroom Boxing [Press Release]

By Behind The Gloves 18 Jan, 2018

Cyclone Promotions are delighted to announce that exciting contender Josh Taylor (11-0-0) will face Mexico's former two-weight world champion Humberto Soto (66-9-2) at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on March 3rd. The exciting Super Lightweight showdown will be screened live and exclusively on Channel 5 and is proudly sponsored by Maxi-Nutrition, Ladbrokes and Voltarol.


TICKETS FOR  ‘SCOTLAND’S FINEST’  – TAYLOR vs SOTO AT THE SSE HYDRO IN GLASGOW ON SATURDAY MARCH 3rd ARE NOW ON SALE NOW –  PRICED £40, £60, AND VIP INNER RINGSIDE AT £125 + BOOKING FEES, AND AVAILABLE FROM  WWW.TICKETMASTER.CO.UK  OR CALL 0844 844 0444.

 

Josh Taylor has established himself as one of the best Super Lightweights in world boxing, having become the first man to stop former long-reigning IBF world champion Miguel Vazquez last time out in Edinburgh. The 27-year-old is ranked highly by the WBC, IBF and WBO and is fast closing in on a World Title shot. First, though, Taylor must overcome his toughest test to date against Soto on Saturday March 3rd at the magnificent setting of the SSE Hydro in Glasgow.

This huge night of championship boxing on March 3rd is entitled ‘Scotland’s Finest’ and will indeed feature the brightest lights in Scottish professional boxing on a stacked undercard.

Cyclone’s undefeated Jason Easton (11-0-0)will feature as chief support on the bill on March 3rd. The IBO Inter-Continental super-lightweight champion will box Sunderland’s Glenn Foot (21-3-0) for the vacant Commonwealth Super Lightweight championship, and this intriguing bout has ‘Fight of the Night’ written all over it. The all-action Easton has his hands full against former Prizefighter champion Foot, who also recently held the English title. 

Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Charlie Flynn (10-0-1) will make his eleventh appearance as a professional on the big SSE Hydro bill on March 3rd. The undefeated Lightweight will box in a six-round contest against an opponent to be named shortly.

Scotland’s former amateur star Lee McGregor (2-0-0) makes his third start as a professional on March 3rd when he features in an eight-round contest on the undercard.

Undefeated IBO World Lightweight championChantelle Cameron (5-0-0) will make her first defence of her belt against an opponent to be named shortly. The talented Northampton star will be looking to build on her title-winning performance in December when she stopped Brazil’s Viviane Obenauf.

Airdrie based Congolese Heavyweight sensationMartin Bakole (10-0-0) will box for the sixth time in the UK as a professional. The IBO Continental champion will look to build on his impressive first-round stoppage of Belgium’s Ali Baghouz last time out in Edinburgh with another solid win on March 3rd.

Elsewhere on the card, Glasgow’s undefeated Scottish Super Bantamweight champion Joe Ham will feature in a six-round contest and Edinburgh’s undefeated prospect Iain Trottermakes his sixth start as a professional on the big bill.


TICKETS FOR  ‘SCOTLAND’S FINEST’  – TAYLOR vs SOTO AT THE SSE HYDRO IN GLASGOW ON SATURDAY MARCH 3rd ARE NOW ON SALE NOW –  PRICED £40, £60, AND VIP INNER RINGSIDE AT £125 + BOOKING FEES, AND AVAILABLE FROM  WWW.TICKETMASTER.CO.UK  OR CALL 0844 844 0444.


The scene is set for a huge night of championship boxing on March 3rd in Glasgow, headlined by an action-packed encounter between two world-class Super Lightweight boxers in Josh Taylor and Humberto Soto, with the winner moving one step closer to a world title shot.

You can follow all of the build-up on our twitter handle - @CyclonePromo; and/or our Facebook page -  www.facebook.com/CyclonePromotions

Doors will open at 5pm at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on March 3rd with boxing starting at 5.30pm.


Source: Cyclone Promotions [Press Release]

By Behind The Gloves 18 Jan, 2018

LOS ANGELES – Bellator is joining forces with Boost Mobile, the undisputed value champion of prepaid wireless, in 2018 beginning with Bellator 192 on Jan. 20 in LA and available on the soon-to-launch Paramount Network. In addition to being featured throughout Bellator broadcasts, the long-term deal will see the wireless carrier as a key partner in the launch of unique virtual reality and digital content opportunities.

“Boost Mobile has strong roots in supporting mixed martial arts and we are excited to get back into the sport with the collaboration with Bellator,” said Peiti Feng, director of brand strategy and marketing communications at Boost Mobile. “This is a perfect partnership for Boost as the sport aligns well with our competitive spirit and will give our brand amplified visibility with Bellator’s passionate and growing fan base.”

“I’m thrilled to have Boost Mobile as a part of the Bellator family,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “We look forward to teaming up with an industry leader like Boost Mobile, who shares the same enthusiasm for their brand as we do, in a partnership that will create new and exciting promotional opportunities that connect with our passionate fan base.”

Boost Mobile and Bellator have come together to offer exclusive 360° virtual reality content and viewing experiences during televised events. Fans will be closer to the action than ever with special access to fighter walkouts, corner cams, locker rooms and fight footage, as well as custom playlists featuring some of Bellator’s greatest comeback moments hosted on Bellator.com .

Boost Mobile will also be featured prominently throughout the broadcast, including on-screen integration and placement inside the Bellator cage.

Additionally, fans can look forward to meeting their favorite fighters and Bellator personalities during Bellator meet and greets at Boost Mobile locations throughout the year.

For more information, please visit Bellator.com .

By Behind The Gloves 17 Jan, 2018
Carl Frampton believes he may have to produce a career-best performance to overcome Nonito Donaire in their April 21 blockbuster bout in Belfast.

Two-weight World Champion Frampton (24-1, 14KOs) came face to face with four-weight Champion Donaire (38-4, 24KOs) at a press conference at the Europa Hotel today (Wednesday) ahead of their SSE Arena Featherweight showdown, which will be screened live on BT Sport and BoxNation.

With Frampton aiming to book a World Title stadium date at Windsor Park this summer, ‘The Jackal’ has insisted that he considers his Frank Warren-promoted clash against ‘Filipino Flash’ to be a high-risk/high-reward opportunity.

 “I need to make sure that I’m going to put in the performance of my career, which it might take to win this fight,” said Frampton.

“I just take it one fight at a time. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but I’m going to do everything I can in training camp and in my preparation for this fight to make sure that I’m ready,” added the Belfast native, who is eyeing a future date against the winner of the upcoming Lee Selby-Josh Warrington IBF World Title fight or whoever emerges from a bout between his old rival Scott Quigg and WBO World Champion Oscar Valdez.

“There’s a lot on the line,” admitted Frampton “But these are all things that are in the future and there’s only one fight that I’m focused on at the minute.

“Nonito Donaire is a future Hall of Famer, a fantastic fighter… I need fights like this to get up for and I need big names.

“Nonito’s an amazing talent, a four-weight World Champion. He can punch and he doesn’t just knock people over, he’s put guys to sleep before. But that gives me wee bit of a fear factor and I think that’s when I’m going to be at my best.”

The April 21 bout will be a significant occasion for Irish boxing as two elite fighters go toe to toe.

Both men were previously recognised as Fighter of the Year by the Ring magazine, ESPN and the Boxing Writers’ Association of America, with Frampton awarded that honour for 2016 while Donaire picked up the same gongs in 2012.

Forty-two-fight veteran Donaire, now 35, remains determined to reclaim World honours and he echoed his opponent’s comments when insisting that Frampton will bring out the best in him.

“We need an opponent we can truly respect and at the same time you have that voice behind you that says, ‘this guy is tough, this guy is good and anything can happen’,” said Donaire.

“It allows the warrior within us to come out and that’s something that we’ll show on April 21st that we do have it.

“One thing’s for sure, and I can see it from looking into Carl’s eyes, we’re both warriors and we’re willing to give it everything we’ve got for this fight. At the moment age is only a number for me because I’m very inspired to be here.”

While Frampton struggled at times during his most recent 10-round points win over Mexican Horacio Garcia last November – in a bout that marked the end of a 10-month lay-off following a number of changes to his team – the Irishman believes that victory will stand to him ahead of his April outing.

“Considering the year I’ve had, looking back on it, it wasn’t a bad performance,” said MTK Global-backed Frampton.

“I think that last fight is going to be a blessing in disguise for me,” added the Belfast man, who explained that Donaire was his No 1 choice as an opponent, despite the fact that the Filipino poses a real threat to his summer fight plans.

“Credit to the teams for working together – Richard Schafer [Ringstar Sports], MTK and Frank Warren – and for bringing a name like Nonito to Belfast,” said Frampton. “My objective is to win a world title, I’m hoping to fight for a World Title in the summer and what better opponent to get you ready for that other than Nonito Donaire?

“What would be the point in fighting a knock-over job? I don’t think that would be good for me or for boxing, so it’s just great to be involved on these big occasions.”

Limited tickets for Frampton vs. Donaire are available to purchase from the SSE Arena Belfast Box Office, www.ssearenabelfast.com  and 028 9073 9074.

Tickets range from £40 (Tier) to £400 (Inner Ring Hospitality)

Source: Frank Warren PR [Press Release]
By Behind The Gloves 17 Jan, 2018
Three thrilling All-Ireland domestic dust-ups have been confirmed for the undercard of   Carl Frampton’s   much-anticipated April 21 showdown against   Nonito Donaire   in Belfast.

Two-weight World Champion Frampton will clash with four-weight Champion Donaire at the SSE Arena in one of the most eagerly-awaited bouts to ever take place on Irish soil, live on   BT Sport   and   BoxNation.

The main-event participants will meet head-to-head at Belfast’s Europa Hotel this afternoon (Wednesday) ahead of April’s massive fight date.

And promoter Frank Warren and MTK Global have moved to install an undercard to match the occasion on what is set to be an action-packed bill.

Three all-Irish battles have been confirmed so far for the April 21 fight night…
 
-Jono Carroll (15-0, 2KOs) will travel to meet Belfast’s Marco McCullough (18-4, 11KOs) in a 12-round Super-Featherweight showdown for the IBF European title
 
-Tyrone McKenna (15-0-1, 6KOs) and Light-Welterweight rival Philip Sutcliffe Jr (14-2, 9KOs) will clash in another long-awaited Belfast v Dublin battle
 
-And WBO European Champion Conrad Cummings (12-1-1) and Irish champion Luke Keeler (13-2, 5KO) go toe to toe in what promises to be an all-action Middleweight affair
 
Both Meath-based Finglas native Carroll and McCullough will be looking to build on their respective third-round stoppage victories on the ‘Frampton Reborn’ fight bill in Belfast last November.

“I’m buzzing for the fight,” said Carroll. “I had a great win in Belfast last time out and this is another brilliant opportunity. Marco is a lovely lad, but I’m out to get another big win and take another step up the ladder on a massive bill.”

McCullough believes this will be a crossroads bout in his career as he looks to rebuild towards title contention.

“It’ll be a good domestic fight, I’m excited about it,” said McCullough. “A win would put me straight back into the mix for titles. Jono has really improved over the last year or so and both of us have a bit of power, so it’ll be a cracking fight. It’s nearly like a Belfast v Dublin undercard, so I’d say it’ll be a great atmosphere.”

The Light-Welterweight meeting of McKenna and Sutcliffe has been in the making for some time, with the rivals having been continually linked since clashing as amateurs back in 2012.

They will now finally meet in the pro ranks on April 21 in a bout that is sure to have Irish and UK fight fans on the edge of their seats.
 
“It’s a fight that every fan in Ireland wants to see,” said McKenna. “It’s one I’ve wanted for a long time and I fully believe I’m going to win. Phil Sutcliffe is saying I’m avoiding him, but now it’s finally happening and I’m delighted. It’s the two top Light-Welters in the country and it’s very exciting.”

After some heated words in recent times, Sutcliffe is keen to silence his rival.

“Tyrone’s got what he’s been shouting about, so we’ll see if he keeps his mouth going,” said Sutcliffe. “If he wants to talk then let him talk. I do my talking in the ring. I’m friends with everyone, especially lads on my team, but this is business and I’ll go in there and get the job done.”

The Middleweight clash of Cummings and Keeler seems sure to be a barnburner and while the fighters paid respect towards each other, both have predicted an early finish.

“It’s great that we’ll finally get it on,” said Cummings. “This is a tasty fight and I think the public will get their teeth into. Luke’s a brilliant boxer and a fellow Irishman – he’s always in good fights and so am I, so it will be entertaining however long it lasts. I’m really up for it.”

Echoing those sentiments, Keeler said: “It’s a cracking fight. A lot of people have been talking about it and there should be great interest. I’m feeling great and training has been going really well, so I can’t wait to get in there.”

Further undercard announcements will be made in the coming weeks.

Limited tickets for Frampton vs. Donaire are available to purchase from the SSE Arena Belfast Box Office, www.ssearenabelfast.com  and 028 9073 9074.

Tickets range from £40 (Tier) to £400 (Inner Ring Hospitality)

Source: Frank Warren PR [Press Release]
By Behind The Gloves 17 Jan, 2018

Undefeated World Boxing Organization (WBO)  featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez , the man who swims with a fully-grown pet alligator, will begin the third year of his championship reign by defending his title against former World Boxing Association  (WBA) super bantamweight world champion and current No. 2 world-rated featherweight contender Scott Quigg .  For Valdez (23-0, 19 KOs), of Nogales, Mexico, this will be his fourth title defense since winning it in 2016.  Quigg (34-1-2, 25 KOs), of Lancashire, England, will be making his U.S. debut.  The Valdez vs. Quigg world championship fight will take place Saturday, March 10, under the stars at StubHub Center  in Carson, Calif.  It will be televised live and exclusively at 10:30 p.m. EST on   ESPN  and  ESPN Deportes  and stream  live   on the ESPN App.  Additional fights on the live  telecast will be announced shortly.   

Promoted by   Top Rank ®, in association with Matchroom Boxing, tickets go on sale Tomorrow! Wednesday, January 17, at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT.  Priced at $206, $104, $53 and 27.50, including facility fees, they can be purchased online at AXS.com, by phone at (888) 9AXS-TIX, or by visiting the StubHub Center box office.  

The all-action undercard will feature undefeated WBC Continental Americas super featherweight champion  Andy Vences (20-0, 12 KOs), of San Jose, Calif; top-three world-rated junior welterweight contender Alex Saucedo (26-0, 16 KOs), of Oklahoma City;  2016 U.S. Olympian and three-time U.S. Amateur Champion Mikaela Mayer (3-0, 2 KOs), of Los Angeles;  and 2012 Olympic silver medalist and middleweight contender Esquiva Falcäo (19-0, 13 KOs), of Vitoria, Brasil. 

“I know that my March 10 world title defense against Scott Quigg will be a fun one for all the boxing fans because our styles combine perfectly to make a real war," said Valdez. "As usual, on March 10, I will leave it all in the ring at StubHub Center, to show everyone that I’m one of the best featherweights in the world"

“This is a fight that I’m really looking forward to.  It’s a great fight," said Quigg.  "I have a lot of respect for Oscar and his team.  We’ve been in the gym together in the past, helping each other prepare for a fight.   They are good people.  I’ve been in training for four weeks already and now I’ve just linked up with Freddie Roach to begin the last eight  weeks of camp.  This is a great opportunity for me -- making my U.S. debut on a great platform on ESPN --  and I’m confident on March 10 I’ll become World champion again.”

"Oscar Valdez has passed every in-ring test with flying colors, but the biggest test of his professional career will take place on March 10 against Scott Quigg, who like Oscar, rarely leaves a fight in the hands of the judges.  The fans watching at StubHub and live across ESPN's platforms are in for an exciting night and a sensational card, which will be announced shortly," said Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum ,.   

"I'm delighted to get this fight made - I feel it's one of the best fights in the division right now," said Quigg's promoter Eddie Hearn.  "Both guys like to come forward and throw aggressive combinations and I do not believe we will hear the final bell.  What I do believe is that on March 10 Scott Quigg will become a two-weight World Champion in a fight of the year contender, live on ESPN"

"We’re very excited for the fight against Quigg. This fight will further showcase Oscar’s skills and will demonstrate that he is a star," said Frank Espinoza, manager of Valdez.  "Oscar is one of the best in the world and against Quigg he’ll prove it once again.”

Valdez, who represented México in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, was the first Mexican fighter to qualify for two Olympic games.  He is considered one of the bright lights of the featherweight division and a new face for boxing's next generation.  He will be making the fourth defense of the world title he won on July 23, 2016 via a second-round knockout of undefeated No. 2 rated Matías Rueda.  Rueda entered that fight having won his previous 10 bouts by stoppage.  In his first defense, which took place, on November 5, 2016, Valdez blasted out No. 1 contender Hiroshige Osawa via a seventh-round TKO.  On April 22, in his 2017 debut, his first pay-per-view event that featured him in the main event, Valdez went toe-to toe for 12 rounds with No. 1 contender Miguel Marriaga, winning a unanimous decision.  Marriaga, a three-time world title challenger, went into that fight having won 15 of his previous 19 bouts by way of knockout.  In his most recent fight, on September 22, he again went mano a mano in a 12-rounder that had the fans on their feet throughout the fight.  This time Valdez won a unanimous decision over Genesis Servania, the No. 4 world-rated contender.

Quigg, who has fought all but once in his native England, is trained by Hall of Famer Freddie Roach.  After capturing the WBA interim super bantamweight world title in 2012 and making one successful title defense that same year, he was elevated to WBA super bantamweight world champion in 2013.  Quigg successfully defended that world title six times, four of them by way of knockout during his three-year reign.  He lost the title via a split decision to International Boxing Federation (IBF)  champion Carl Frampton in a 2016 title unification bout.  Since that fight, Quigg has moved up to the featherweight division and won his past three fights, including a 12-round featherweight  title elimination bout against Simion Viorel.  Quigg is currently world-rated No. 2 by the IBF and No. 4 by the WBA.

For more information visit:   www.toprank.com , www.espn.com/boxing ; Facebook: facebook.com/trboxing , facebook.com/espndeportes ; Twitter: twitter.com/trboxing , twitter.com/trboxeo , @ESPN   @ESPNBoxeo  

@ESPNDeportes . Use the hashtag  #ValdezQuigg  to join the conversation on Twitter.


Source: Top Rank [Press Release]

By Behind The Gloves 17 Jan, 2018
With his 30th birthday approaching next month, touted Super-Middleweight prospect Umar Sadiq is in an almighty hurry to get his career moving.

‘My goal is to be world champion within three years,’   declared the 6ft 3in university graduate who forsook a lucrative career in accountancy to pursue his ring dreams last year.

‘I’ve three aims for 2018. One is to test myself against any other prospect of similar experience. A second is to fight anyone lingering around British title level by the end of the year. The third is to accept any national title fight.  

‘At this stage of my development, I’ve no intention of calling people out or building up rivalries with people who may change weight class by the time I reach championship level. Believe it or not, I’m capable of making Middleweight myself so I watch and respect all the main players between 160-175lbs, I just don’t shout ‘em out!

 ‘But I know I’m more than capable. In addition to   Lawrence Okolie, I’ve been sparring the likes of Billy Joe Saunders, James DeGale, Frank Buglioni, Joshua Buatsi and Anthony Yarde.’

Born into a middle class family in Kaduna, north-west Nigeria, the former boarding schoolboy emigrated to the UK aged 12 but didn’t embrace the Noble Art until his late teens.

‘To my knowledge, there is no history of boxing in my family. Thierry Henry and David Beckham were my heroes as a kid,’   states ‘Top Boxer’ who made a very polished pro debut when outclassing one-time squaddie Lewis Van Poetsch over four rounds at the Copper Box Arena last September.

‘I was naturally athletic, good at running and always playing football and basketball with my friends inside those ‘cages’ on the estate but I was already 16 years old when I first laced up for boxing.  

‘Initially, I only did it for fitness, to pursue a healthy life style rather than for competition. Then, when I was 19, I got p***ed at a party yet, despite just three hours sleep, I still turned up to training the next morning and performed very well in a spar against a fella who won the Novices that year. That convinced me that I had something I just couldn’t ignore.

‘At 20, I had my first bout under Tony Cesay at Fulham and Brunswick and, two years after, I moved to the Repton.

‘I went in the ABAs five times but was either beaten by the eventual champion or in ‘disputed’ circumstances. Only Kirk Garvey   (10-1 as a pro)  beat me fairly.’

During a nine year, 45 bout amateur innings which ran parallel to his college studies and accountancy career, the Ilford based starlet captured University, London and English titles and wore the international singlet of both his native and adopted homelands. Representing the former, he made it to the 2016 Olympic Qualifiers in Azerbaijan

‘I first tried to qualify for Nigeria at the 2012 London Olympics but got injured. In 2016 they invited me to try again which was an honour. I took six weeks paid leave and, within a fortnight, had beaten all the competitors and qualified for the team,’   recalls the erudite and articulate Umar who conceded a contentious decision to a Russian at the second stage.

For his pro career, slickster Sadiq has opted to align with highly regarded ex West Ham amateur coach Brian O’Shaughnessy at the ‘Kool BoxGym’ in Bethnal Green.

He explains: ‘ In the ABAs, I had to face another Repton guy so we were given neutral coaches. I was given Brian who was at West Ham at the time and I was very impressed by how calm and relaxed he was, how clear his instructions were. He’s also a great pad man. When I needed a coach to prepare me for the Olympic Qualifiers in Azerbaijan, I knew he was the perfect person. We’ve been together ever since.    

‘There’s five pros at our gym but I set the pace, set the benchmarks. I’m ridiculously competitive, try to be the best at everything I do. My mantra is ‘There is no opponent.’ I’m all about being the very best that I can be. If I’m on point, I beat them all.

‘I’m broad shouldered and long armed. The main adaption I needed to make   (for the pros)  was to stop bouncing and instead glide around the ring. I’m also learning to really pick my shots rather than just throw my hands.’

So it’s full steam ahead for a second four rounder at the Copper Box on February 10th where the loose goose promises to deliver a clinic for those in attendance.

‘It’s been five months since my last fight so I’ve a lot to get off my chest,’   warns Umar.

‘You’re going to see another skilful composed action packed performance. I don’t like getting touched but Adam Jones  has never been stopped before so I intend to really ‘stick it on him’!’
 
Follow Umar: @TopBoxerSadiq (Twitter/Instagram) and umartopboxersadiq (Facebook)

Tickets for 'The Untouchables' priced at £50 (Lower Tier), £70 (Floor), £100 (Floor), £150 (Floor) and VIP/Hospitality £250 are available via See Tickets, Eventim and Ticketmaster.
 
See Tickets
0871 230 7148
www.seetickets.com
 
Eventim
0844 249 1000
www.eventim.co.uk
 
Ticketmaster
www.ticketmaster.co.uk

Source: Frank Warren PR [Press Release]
By Behind The Gloves 16 Jan, 2018

Tickets for the blockbuster Heavyweight World title unification clash between Anthony Joshua MBE and Joseph Parker go on pre-sale to Matchroom Fight Pass members at midday on Monday January 22 and general sale on Tuesday January 23 ahead of the March 31 event live on Sky Sports Box Office. 

Tickets for the event are priced at £40, £60, £80, £100, £150, £200, £300 and £600 – with VIP tickets priced at £2000.

Tickets go on sale for the fight by the official ticketing partner,  www.StubHub.co.uk    

  • Fight Pass Members: tickets on sale midday on Monday January 22
  • General sale: tickets available at midday on Tuesday 23 January

Coach packages also go on sale at midday on Tuesday via www.seetickets.com  with various pick up/drop off locations available throughout the UK.

For accessibility, ambulant and wheelchair tickets – please contact the Principality stadium via 02920 822432 – also on sale from midday Tuesday.

Don’t miss out on tickets. Sign up now and add your delivery address and payment details on StubHub here

Official Hospitality packages are available to purchase directly from Principality Stadium Experience. Both private suite and premium lounge packages are available to purchase, with prices starting from £450 per person + VAT. For further information please call the team on 02920 822 413.

Official Hospitality packages are also available via Sportsworld via www.sportsworld.co.uk  or by calling 0208 9712966

You are strongly advised to plan your travel to Cardiff before purchasing your tickets and will need to allow plenty of time for additional security checks at Principality Stadium.


Source: Matchroom Boxing [Press Release]

By Behind The Gloves 15 Jan, 2018
A calf injury has forced Zolani Tete to postpone his WBO World Bantamweight title defence against Omar Narvaez.
 
Tete, 29, was due to defend his crown at London’s Copper Box Arena on Saturday 10th February, but will now make his mandatory defence against the Argentinian at a later date in 2018.
 
“I’m hugely disappointed to have to postpone my fight with Omar Narvaez.” Said Tete. “Unfortunately I picked up a calf injury that has severely hindered my training and the only option was to postpone the fight.
 
“I train as hard as I fight so there is always a risk of picking up injuries. World Championship defences are incredibly tough and it is unsafe fighting when you are not fit. Narvaez is a two-weight World Champion so it is vital that I am fully prepared for him.
 
“I am determined to put on another explosive performance for my UK fans when I face Narvaez. After I beat him the plan is to unify the Bantamweight division against Ryan Burnett. It is a fight that the boxing World wants to see and I am hopeful that it will happen in 2018.”
 
Frank Warren’s bumper ‘Untouchables’ show still features some of the best British talent around, with Bradley Skeete, Anthony Yarde, Daniel Dubois and Zelfa Barrett all looking to make statements to kick-off a huge 2018.
 
British Welterweight Champion Bradley ‘Super’ Skeete (27-1, 12 KO’s) faces IBF Inter-Continental Welterweight Champion Laszlo Toth (25-3-1, 17 KO’s) for the Vacant WBC International belt. Skeete is ready to prove his World class credentials and knows that a win on February 10 will take him a step closer to a dream World Title shot.
 
“This is an opportunity to add another belt to my collection,” said Skeete. “Toth has won the IBF European and Inter-Continental titles and should provide a good test for me. I have strong ratings with the WBO and IBF, winning this title will push me up the WBC rankings as well.
 
“2018 is the year that I will prove I’m a World class fighter. I know that my style would give anyone trouble, it’s why I’ve been avoided. I’m ready and waiting to prove what I can do against the best!”
 
Ilford Light-Heavyweight Anthony Yarde (14-0, 13 KO’s) defends his WBO Inter-Continental and European Light-Heavyweight titles against Frenchman Tony Averlant (26-9-2, 5 KO’s). ‘The Beast’ is determined to pick up from where he left off in 2017 after becoming the first man to stop Nikola Sjekloca with a heavy-handed display which last less than four rounds.
 
“I enjoyed a successful 2017, winning three belts and stopping all five of my opponents,” said Yarde. “2018 is going to be an even bigger year but whatever is meant to happen will happen, I’m not in any rush. My job is to keep my head down, work hard and enjoy the journey.
 
“I’m hoping that Averlant is a durable opponent, he’s only been stopped twice and one of those stoppages was against former WBA Light-Heavyweight World Champion Juergen Braeher. I’m looking to gain some crucial extra minutes in the ring.”
 
Heavyweight sensation Daniel ‘Dynamite’ Dubois (6-0, 6 KO’s) defends his Southern-Area belt against Kent’s DL Jones (8-0-1). The Peacock Gym powerhouse claimed the title after knocking AJ Carter out cold in the opening round with a massive right hand at the Copper Box Arena back in September and is promising to start 2018 with another explosive KO.
 
“I’m ready to start 2018 with a bang,” said Dubois. “I’m working hard to be the best that I can possibly be and I’m feeling good. Everything is going great, I’m just staying in the gym, staying focused, and staying dedicated to it.
 
“I’m looking forward to being back at the Copper Box Arena, it’s starting to feel like a home venue for me and I always get a great reception from the fans. I’ll be looking to send them home happy on February 10.”
 
English Super-Featherweight Champion Zelfa ‘Brown Flash’ Barrett (19-0, 12 KO’s) fights for the first time in the capital when he takes on Spain’s Ivan Ruiz Morote (18-8-1, 7 KO’s) over ten rounds. Manchester’s Barrett is closing in on a salivating showdown with rival Super-Featherweight star Lyon Woodstock.
 
"I rate him as a person,” said Barrett. “He's a nice guy. He's a good fighter. Anybody in my weight division, they all can get it. So I'll just say he's a good fighter and I respect him as a person.
 
"I only do my talking in the ring. There'll be no fight talk, there's nothing personal. He's a cool guy, he wants to do his family proud so you can't take that away from him. All I’m focused on for now is getting the win in style on February, it’ll be my first so I’ll be putting on a show.”
 
Hard-hitting Southampton Super-Welterweight Joe Pigford returns to the ring after a brutal KO win over Aaron Morgan in May 2017; all-action Welling Super-Featherweight talent Archie ‘Sharpshooter’ Sharp aims to improve his unbeaten record to 12-0; gifted Southampton Featherweight Ryan ‘The Piranha’ Garner looks to get his career back on track when he fights over four rounds; Ilford Welterweight Hamzah Sheeraz returns to the scene of his impressive TKO debut win over Duane Green; stylish Ilford Super-Middleweight Umar Sadiq and former Team GB Flyweight Harvey Horn both look to go 2-0 while Beckton Lightweight and Anthony Yarde gym mate Mohammed Bilal Ali makes his professional debut.
 
Tickets priced at £50 (Lower Tier), £70 (Floor), £100 (Floor), £150 (Floor) and VIP/Hospitality £250 are available via See Tickets, Eventim and Ticketmaster.
 
See Tickets
0871 230 7148
www.seetickets.com
 
Eventim
0844 249 1000
www.eventim.co.uk
 
Ticketmaster
www.ticketmaster.co.uk

Source: Frank Warren PR [Press Release]
By Behind The Gloves 15 Jan, 2018
When unbeaten cruiserweight contender Isaac Chamberlain (9-0-0, 4 KO's) stepped off of the plane at Kyiv International airport, he did so with 1,486 miles between himself and his hometown of Brixton.

It is further away from home than the precociously talented 23-year-old had ever envisioned being, and while this is not his first visit to the Ukrainian capital, there is still a sense of wonderment in his voice as he describes his journey from mis-guided south London youth, to bonafide cruiserweight contender.

"It is a bit strange when you think about it." said Chamberlain, in an exclusive interview with Behind The Gloves .

"Where I come from, nobody ever thinks you will make something of yourself. Everyone is always so caught up in what's going on around you, that you don't really realise there is a whole world out there."

Boxing has taken Chamberlain to new places - both inside and outside of the ring.

After picking up the sport as a teenager at the behest of his worried mother, Chamberlain has seen himself travel the world, giving himself purpose and, in his own words, becoming a better person.

"When I was young, my cousin was mixing with the wrong crowds and he ended up getting stabbed. It was a terrible experience for my whole family, and my Mum wanted to keep me out of trouble. So she sent me to the boxing gym."

Despite being regarded as one of the brightest prospects in British boxing, his initial proficiency as a pugilist was far from the polished performer we see today.

"The first time I went in there, I got beaten up!" laughed Chamberlain.

"I didn't know what I was doing, but I loved it. In Brixton, there's not always a lot to keep you occupied, but as soon as I found the boxing gym I thought "this is where I belong". It gave me purpose and made me grow up and be a better person. Ever since that first day, I've never wanted to do anything else."
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