2020 Olympic boxing mess continues

The AIBA Olympic mess continues. Due to the demonstrated past corruption of AIBA, the organization that oversees international amateur boxing competitions, the International Olympic Committe (IOC) is considering banning boxing from the 2020 Olympics. The IOC has prohibited AIBA from taking steps to organize the Olympic qualifying process while it investigates whether AIBA has gotten its house in order. A recent AIBA website post admitted, “Our boxers are waiting. They still don’t know when, where or how to qualify for the Olympic Games next year! They must be our priority. We are ready to move on from the bad past, we hope that our Olympic friends think the same.”

But AIBA is not helping its own cause, having elected in 2018 Gafur Rakhimov, a new leader who the United States Treasury Department alleges is part of an organized crime organization. According to a U.S. Treasury filing in 2012, "Rakhimov is one of the leaders of Uzbek organized crime with a specialty in the organized production of drugs in the countries of Central Asia. He has operated major international drug syndicates involving the trafficking of heroin."
The IOC has made a detailed request for a progress report on 41 separate issues, to which AIBA must respond shortly.
Meanwhile, AIBA is investigating what it calls a “rogue group” of Kazakhstanis who allegely are trying to gain support from various national boxing federations to communicate directly with the IOC anf form a new group that would replace AIBA as the Olympic boxing organizer.
Following a two-day conference of AIBA’s Executive Committee last week in Istanbul, Turkey, Rakhimov issued the following statement about the future of AIBA, the sport of boxing and the current situation with the IOC:

“After two days of very productive and fruitful meetings in Istanbul with the AIBA Executive Committee [...], we are implementing technical and competition rule changes that will ensure fair-play and trust in our sport. We have further made amendments to our rulings on uniforms to ensure inclusion and equality and we have made a major announcement that ensures that the voice of boxers from around the world are heard.

Included among the many points raised at the Executive Committee meeting was the situation with the IOC. The AIBA Executive Committee has stressed that we understand the IOC’s concern, as the situation of AIBA was extremely serious because the former leadership of AIBA left our organization in a complete mess, not only financially but also in terms of governance, anti-doping and referees and judges.

Since early 2018, the new AIBA leadership has improved the federation dramatically on all fronts and AIBA members and Boxers from around the world should be proud of this. AIBA is healthy now and in better shape than ever before.

Still, we understand that the IOC could feel a need for further clarification. And as we have said many times before, we are ready to cooperate with our Olympic Partners and will do our best to clarify any outstanding misunderstandings. We have always answered questions, queries and reports, and have further taken initiatives towards active change. This is why we will continue to answer these questions in the hopes that this inquiry will be concluded and we can focus on what it is all about: our boxers and the development of our sport. It is time we put our athletes first and leave behind all the politics. Our Boxers are waiting, they need to know when, where or how to qualify for the Olympic Games next year. They must be the priority of everybody!

Furthermore, I have announced the “Fit for Future” initiative and appointed our new Athlete’s Commission interim representatives to help lead it together with working groups of athletes from around the world. Our athletes are the future of our sport, they are creative, they are resourceful and they deserve to be heard. This initiative will be the roadmap for the future strategy of the organization – prepared by boxers for boxers!

We have left the past behind us and are ready to move on. We hope that our Olympic friends think the same.”

Rob Brant wins Minnesota homecoming

Rob Brant TKO11 Khasan Baysangurov... Fighting in his home state of Minnesota, Rob Brant successfully defended his WBA reular middleweight title, giving his fans plenty to cheer about. He overwhelmed previously beaten but lightly credentialed Khasan Baysangurov (17-1, 7 KOs) with seemingly nonstop combinations and flurries upstairs and down. Brant’s feet were just as active as his hands, moving tirelessly around the ring, keeping odd angles that never gave Baysangurov the opportunity to land much of anything significant. Despite a bloody and probably brokennose, the Russian was a game opponent and Brant’s bruised face showed proof of the Baysangurov’s heavy hands. But it wasn’t enough, as the fight’s conclusion was consistent with the narrative: Baysangurov ultimately submitting to the continuous assault of Brant, who scored his second knockdown of the fight in round eleven. And while he rose from the canvas, the end was nigh for Baysangurov whom the ref saved from further punishment at the 1:42 mark of the eleventh. Brant improves to 25-1 with 17 victories by stoppage. source: espn

Ergashev defeats Fox, but has plenty to work on

Shohjahon Ergashev W10 Mykal Fox: In Mulvane, Kansas, junior welterweight Shohjahon Ergashev (16-0 with 14 KOs) walked away with a unanimous decision victory over previously unbeaten Mykal Fox in tonight's ShoBox main event, but it's clear Ergashev has plenty to improve on. Ergashev bum rushed Fox at the opening bell and looked to bully him right out of the ring. When that didn't happen, Ergashev looked lost for a few rounds. He showed limited head movement, his feet were stuck in the mud and he lunged with his left hand instead of setting up with a jab. Fox (19-1 with 5 KOs) was on the move throughout the bout, but he boxed effectively, using his extremely long jab to keep Ergashev at bay. The fight was decided in the final three rounds where Ergashev found Fox with more regularity while Fox rode his bicycle instead of doubling up his jab or grabbing to reset the action. Boxingtalk scored it 95-95 but the official scores were kinder to Ergashev: 96-94 and too-wide pair of 98-92s. source: showtime

Greer, Mayer win in Minnesota

Joshua Greer Jr. KO8 Giovanni Escaner... In Hinckley, Minneosta, Joshua Greer Jr. (20-1-1, 11 KOs) added to his knockout total this evening against Giovanni Escaner (19-4, 12 KOs). This victory marks the ninth stoppage for Greer in his last ten fights, and the seventh straight. This bantamweight match saw both men working at a high rate of activity, each taking the others’ best shots, often simultaneously. While Greer moved laterally around the ring at times, the majority of this fight took place in the center of the ring, feet planted and fists flying in combinations. A blink of the eye after the bell to end round three, Escaner landed a right hand that put Greer into the ropes and down. Because this occurred in the middle of an exchange right at the bell, the referee did the right thing by giving Greer a count. Greer, unhappy that it was counted as a knockdown, kept his wits about him, and continued into the fourth round as if it never happened. While he felt the power of Escaner, Greer apparently knew he could take Escaner’s shots so he continued to stand and trade for additional toe-to-toe action. At 2:33 of round eight, the referee reached a ten count after Escaner dropped to the canvas in debilitating pain from a perfect Greer shot to the solar plexus.
Mikaela Mayer W8 Yareli Larios... 2016 Olympian Mikaela Mayer improved her record to 10-0 with 4 KOs by defeating Yareli Larios, the tough and determined daughter of former champion Oscar Larios. While both combatants weighed in at 129.6 lbs, Mayer enjoyed a five-inch height advantage which she used to keep Larios at her desired distance. Mayer’s stiff jab, hard body punching, and upstairs combinations were the difference in this fight. Larios certainly inherited the chin and heart of her old man, a former two-division champion, but the boxing ability was not quite there for her tonight as she falls to 13-2-1 with 3 KOs. After eight rounds, the official scores read 79-73, 78-74, and 80-72, tgiving Mayer a unanimous decision win. Source for both results: ESPN

Ward makes splash in US Debut

Thomas Patrick Ward W10 Jesse Angel Hernandez: British super bantamweight Thomas Patrick Ward (26-0 with 4 KOs) really did a number on Texas' Jesse Angel Hernandez (12-2 with 7 KOs) over ten extremely one-sided rounds in the Shobox co-feature from Kansas. Ward's superior boxing ability was evident from the opening bell. Ward's credentials should not be dismisses as he was a British champion who gave up his title to compete at the international level. However, those who had never seen him fight before were likely shocked by his quick feet and sharp short punches. With only four knockouts in twenty five bouts, Ward even managed to shock Boxingtalk when landed a perfectly placed left hook that sent Hernandez crashing to he canvas in round four. Hernadez would be visibly buzzed by a right hand in the in the fifth and outworked in each and every round. Official scores were 100-89, 99-90, 98-91. source: shobox

Results from Belgium

Meriton Karaxha W10 Jean Pierre Habimana. ... On Friday in Gent, Belgium, welterweight Meriton Karaxha, originally from Albania, won a unanimous decision over Rwanda's Jean Pierre Habimana. Both men now live in Belgium. Most of the ten rounds were dominated by Karaxha, who forced the tough Habimana on the back foot and made it difficult for him to gain momentum. In the seventh round, it even looked as if Karaxha might have Habimana hurt, but “The African Warrior” still came back and tried to retaliate. When it was over, the judges all scored the fight widely in favor of Karaxha: 99-91 (twice) and 98-92. Karaxha, age 27, coming off a first-round demolition of Frenchman Jean Moraiti, takes his professional record to 23-5-2. Habimana, age 35, a better fighter than his misleading record suggests, drops to 9-16-3.
Elfi Phillips W10 Aleksandra Vujovic... In the Belgian co-feature, hometown boxer Elfi Phillips won a light welterweight bout, unanimously outscoring Aleksandra Vujovic of Montenegro. In a competitive fight, Phillips was the faster and more agile of the two, and had success with combinations from the start. But Vujovic fought back hard, and even hurt Phillips in round seven with a big right that drove her to the ropes. The visitor finished strongly, but in the end there was no doubt about the outcom. The judges scored it 98-92, 98-91 and 100-89 for Phillips (10-5-3). Vujuvic, who had one point deducted in round nine for holding, falls to a deceiving 4-9-2. source for both results: world boxing federation

Miller confirms rematch clause for Anthony Joshua fight

Undefeated heavyweight contender Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller (23-0-1 with 20 KOs) informed Boxingtalk that there is a rematch clause in place for his June 1st title challenger against WBO/WBA/IBF/IBO champion Anthony Joshua (22-0 with 21 KOs). "I had to give it to him, but that doesn't matter because after I knock him out the first time, it's going to be even easier the second time," said Miller. Full interview with vociferous Brooklynite to follow on Monday. Remember where you heard it first!


Lomachenko On Potential Fight Vs. Lopez: "I will not be surprised at all if he quits in the middle of the fight!"

Greg Leon: Just when it looked like the stars were aligned and you were going to be able to unify titles with Richard Commey, he hurts his hand and now he's unavailable to fight you on April 12th. How did you respond to this news? Vasiliy Lomachenko: "Of course I wasn't happy about it. I didn't like to hear the news, but what can we do? This is a professional sport. I wish him to heal up fast so I can see him in the ring."
GL: Now it looks like you're going to have to make your WBA mandatory with Anthony Crolla. How do you feel about that? Is it easy for you to get up for that fight?
Vasiliy Lomachenko: "I never look at any fight as easy. I never prepare for a fight like it's an easy fight. He's the mandatory and he's earned his position, so I have to defend my title. I prepare for all the fights very hard and this is a strategy of the politics in our sport and I'm going to be ready."
GL: Have you looked at Anthony Crolla at all? If yes, what do you think about him as a fighter?
VL: "I haven't seen him fighting yet, but I'm not 100% set for that fight so it's too early for me to comment on him. Once I hear the name of my opponent, then I'll start looking at the tapes and then after that I might be able to give you an opinion."
GL: Are you hoping that [manager] Egis (Klimas) and Top Rank find a way to keep the Commey bout on the table? Do you prefer that or are you set on fighting in April?
VL: "This is not my decision, the promoters are the ones who do these things. I am planning to be in the ring on April 12th, I am preparing for April 12th and that's the date for me."
GL: As the best fighter in the world you obviously have a bullseye on your back. Teofimo Lopez and his father have been shooting a lot of arrows towards that bullseye. What do you think about all of the things him and his father have been saying?
VL: "I think what they're doing is just to PR themselves off my name. They're talking and they're trying to do what Conor McGregor did to Floyd Mayweather. That's how they sound to me, but when you look at what happened to McGregor, every time he faced a better opponent he could do nothing against him. This is their strategy and it's too soon for me to even talk about him. He has to make some big moves in boxing and so far they haven't done anything as far as I can see. If that fight will happen, I am more than willing to share the ring with him."
GL: Does he have to become a champion first to earn the fight and be relevant enough to share the ring with you?
VL: "He needs to show something in the ring yes. He's been knocking out a lot of guys who don't mean much in the ring. He needs to, if not become a champion then put himself into a mandatory position. They're talking a lot, but they haven't gone anywhere yet. Again, it would be my pleasure to share a ring with him."
GL: Something tells me that following all of their talking you're going to be fighting like a mean version of NoMasChenko.
VL: "It's funny you say this because I said something like that to my team. I will do everything I can, and I will not be surprised at all if he quits in the middle of the fight."
GL: This is too much, too much. We'll talk again soon, any closing thoughts for the fans?
VL: "I'm very happy and very glad to be back in the ring. The recovery after the surgery was tough, to get back into the gym and train after those gaps without training. Right now I am 100%, I am healthy and I am preparing to put on my best performance April 12th!"

Joshua-Miller [**allegedly**] breaks MSG pre-sale record for boxing

Anthony Joshua’s WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight title defense against Jarrell Miller, set for June 1st at Madison Square Garden became -- according to a press release-- the highest grossing pre-sale for a boxing event at the famous arena. [Boxingtalk questions whehter the Ali-Frazier I event was adjusted to current dollar levels in arriving at this claim]. The fight will air live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK.
Tickets go on general sale at midday on Tuesday February 19th following Monday’s pre-sale for Matchroom Fight Pass members, and fans hoping to snap up the chance to see the Joshua lock horns with the dangerous "Big Baby" Miller should move fast on Tuesday to avoid missing out on this blockbuster night.
“We know that AJ is a huge box office hit in the UK but to break the pre-sale record at the iconic Madison Square Garden is astounding,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “We are building a huge event on June 1st and we look forward to the all the build-up beginning with next Tuesdays press conference in New York.”
“We are thrilled with the early excitement for tickets,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president, MSG Marquee Events. “Anthony Joshua versus Jarrell Miller will be an epic event at Madison Square Garden and we encourage fans to purchase tickets now because this fight will sell out.”
Madison Square Garden Pre-Sale begins at Midday ET (5pm GMT) on Friday 15th February via Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com)
Fight Pass Pre-Sale begins at Midday GMT (7am ET) on Monday 18th February via StubHub (www.stubhub.com)
General Sale tickets are on sale at Midday ET (5pm GMT) on Tuesday 19th February via Madison Square Garden and StubHub (www.stubhub.com)
Tickets can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge by phone (866-858-0008) and online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.MSG.com.
Official Ticket and Travel Packages, including the opportunity to travel on the Official Charter Plane, are available to purchase via Sportsworld (www.sportsworld.co.uk) Prices start at £1,095. Reserve your seat today.
Wheelchair seats, companion seats, aisle seats and Assistive Listening Devices are available to purchase by calling 212-465-6034

David Grayton takes on new manager and trainer

Washington DC welterweight David Grayton IV (15-3-1) has signed with manager Thomas "Top Dog" Williams Jr. After a seven-month layoff [following two straight losses to undefeated boxers], Grayton is making some changes to his camp. He will be trained by Ronnie Pisano and managed by Williams. Al Haymon will continue to act as Grayton's advisor. With a new mindset, Grayton hopes to make his return to on a PBC show in March.
“I feel great about signing with Team Top Dog Management. Just looking forward to a new and bright future. I can’t wait to fight!!!” Grayton says.
Following a high school football career, Grayton started boxing at the age of 18 following in the steps of his father, professional boxer David Grayton III [who had a 17-5 career including a win over Darrell Tyson], Grayton was a top amateur boxer, winning the Golden Gloves National Tournament in 2010. With a professional record of 15-3-1, with 11 KPs, Grayton is ready to step back into the ring and deminstrate his punching power.
Manager Thomas Williams Jr. says, “We are excited to sign David Grayton. We believe he has all the skills to be great. I’m excited about Day-Day’s future in the welterweight division. Under my guidance, I believe that he will be an immediate and dominate force and a future world champion.”

Tonight on ESPN+: Derrick Webster vs. Lennox Allen

A late entry into boxing at the age of 24, Derrick “Take it to the Bank” Webster (28-1, 14 KOs) has developed under the tutelage of head trainer Denny Brown since his time in the amateur game. The bond between them has since driven Webster;s career, and they now take a step up as Webster battles Lennox Allen (21-0-1, 14 KOs) tonight (Friday) night at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota. [Webster's lone pro loss came against Arif Magomedov in 2015. Magomedov is now 18-3].
“I feel amazing. I have been waiting my whole life for an opportunity like this,” said Webster after he stepped off the scales at 165.2 pounds on Thursday afternoon. “In the eyes of a lot of people, I am not supposed to be here, but I am here. I started this boxing thing at 24-years-old and didn’t turn pro until 2009, and here I am ranked in the world. I had an amazing training camp. I am injury free, my mind is focused, and everything is on point. I really am very appreciative to be here.”
Webster and Brown have become so close that Webster not only considers him family but also views him as a father figure. “Denny is like a father to me. He started as a friend and became a father to me,” Webster remarked. “This belt would be as much his as it would be mine. He never wants any personal recognition. His recognition is my success. He always tells me to beat everybody with success. Even when I blow a guy out of the water, he has never really been satisfied because he knows we had higher marks to reach. He wanted us to be a world champion, and here is our opportunity to become a mandatory for an amazing, life-changing payday. He deserves this just as much as I do, and I am not sure if I want it more for me or if I want it more for him (laughs). We both want it together.”
As for his bout on Friday night, Webster says that boxing fans can expect the absolute best version of himself when he steps into the ring. “People are going to see the best Derrick Webster that they have ever seen,” he confirmed. “They are going to see boxing. They are going to see movement. They are going to see brawling. They are going to see my inside game. They are going to see me thinking. They are going to see the maturity that Derrick Webster has developed over these 13 years in boxing. And they are going to see the hunger and eagerness that I have attained over this journey to get here. Everybody is going to be on the edge of their seats.”
Webster stands 6-foot-4 and is a slick southpaw who has lived in the gym throughout his entire boxing career. “I weighed in at 165 pounds, and I have been on weight for a week. That is a disciplined fighter for you,” he stated. “I was eating breakfast this morning and watched my opponent go work out to make weight. I am so ready. My family deserves this. My kids deserve this. Tiffany and my in-laws deserve this. This is what it is all about. This is an opportunity to silence a lot of haters. That is not a main motivation for me, but it comes with the territory. For all of those people who have never believed in me, I am about to wake them up. That belt will be coming home. I don’t want to be over the top and say that it is going to be an early night, but we have trained to make it an early night.”
Webster, who is signed to Greg Cohen Promotions, will take on Allen as a showcase bout to a Rob Brant vs. Khasan Baysangurov scrap for the WBA regular middleweight title. Webster vs. Allen will air live on ESPN+ .

Garrett Wilson to headline vs. Brian Howard

According to Philadelphia promoting legend and boxing historian Russell Peltz, two of the most brutal twelfth-round knockouts in Philly boxing memory were scored by South Philadelphia's Garrett "GQ" Wilson at Bally's Atlantic City in New Jersey. Wilson starched Chuck Mussachio late in 2011 and Andres Taylor in 2012. Peltz conntinues, "No longer ranked but looking for a way back to the top, Wilson takes on Brian Howard [13-2] in the eight-round main event on Friday, March 1st, at the Parx Casino in Bensalem, PA. Wilson is the King Gabriel Rosado of the 200-pound division, willing to fight anyone, anywhere and at any time. His 18-15-1 record is one of the most deceiving in boxing. He has boxed all over the country as well as in Russia and Romania and he never is in a bad fight and he often does not get a break on the scorecards. He will have his hands full with Howard as both veterans look for a way back into the world rankings."

Wilson vs. Howard tops a seven-bout card in the 1,300-seat Parx Xcite Center. Call 215-364-9000 for tickets

ESPN Weigh-in report from Hinckley, Minnesota

Weigh-in report from the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota, with ESPN and ESPN Deportes to televise tonight (Friday):
Rob Brant 158.6 poubd -vs.- Khasan Baysangurov 158.8;
(For Brant's WBA regular mddleweight title)
Joshua Greer Jr. 117.8 -vs.- Giovanni Escaner 116.2 (ten rounds)
Mikaela Mayer 129.6 -vs.- Yareli Larios 129.6 (eight rounds)
Tyler Howard 159.8 -vs.- Cristian Olivas 159.6 (eight rounds)
Lennox Allen 168 -vs.- Derrick Webster 165.2 lbs (ten rounds)
Ismail Muwendo 134.6 -vs.- Hevinson Herrera 133.8 (six or eight rounds)
Steven Nelson 172.4 - vs.- Felipe Romero 179 (six or eight rounds)
Joe James 139.4 -vs.- Demetrius Wilson (four rounds; Wilson to weigh in later)
Cem Kilic 167.4 -vs.- Zach Kelley 165.2 (six rounds)
Ramiro Hernandez 126.8 -vs.- Gavino Guaman 125.6 (six or eight rounds)
Kevin Cruz 134.2 -vs.- Rondale Hubbert 139 (six or eight rounds)
Albert Bell 133 -vs.- Edward Kakembo 132.6 (six or eight rounds)
source: top rank press release

Huntington, Long Island undercard revealed

Having previously announced the dual, Huntington, New York main events for February 22nd of Belgium’s Joel “Big Joe” Djeko vs. Italy’s Simone Federici and Huntington’s Johnny Hernandez vs. Texas’ Marquis Hawthorne, promoter Star Boxing announced the rest of the card today. In a scheduled six-round welterweight bout, Wyandanch, Long Island’s Terell “Problem Child” Bostic (3-1) returns to The Paramount against Hartford, Connecticut’s Anuel Rosa (1-0). Bostic was last seen in the Huntington, New York venue dropping a split decision to undefeated Omar Bordoy.

Getting up, off the canvas, Bostic fought his way back into the fight, finishing the final two rounds by trading freely at the center of the ring.

Bostic eyes Figueroa as his next tally in the win column. Rosa, who made his pro-debut this past June 16 in Hartford, Connecticut, will be seeing the famed Paramount for the first time and hopes to remain undefeated attempting to defeat Bostic in his hometown venue.

Also returning to The Paramount, Dashaun Johns (1-0) is set to take on hard-hitting tough Philadelphian Derron Lawson in a four-round welterweight bout. Hailing from the Bronx, amateur standout Johns made his pro debut in Huntington against Devon Grant and left no doubt in his first-round TKO victory. Dashuan is a personal trainer in Westchester County.

South African show to feature junior welters

South African Promoter Golden Gloves has announced a show for the Emperor's Palace in Kempton Park on February 24th. According to the announcement, the show will "see the passing of the baton to our incredible new young prospects." The two featured bouts are Marios Matamba (9-0) vs. Clement Kamanga (11-3) at 140 pounds and Jabulani Makhense, (6-0) vs. Xolani Mcotheli (17-4), also at 140 pounds. Mcotheli is a former domestic champion at 130 pounds.

Mariana Juarez books March title defense in Mexico

WBC female bantamweight champion Mariana “Barby” Juarez will defend her crown for the seventh time against Spain's Eva Maria Naranjo on March 2nd in Fresnillo, Mexico. It will be broadcast domestically on Televisa Deportes. Naranjo (12-0) is promoted by former world middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, who will accompany her to Mexico, hopeful that a victory will provide a tremendous boost to Spanish boxing. Naranjo is 40 years old, while Juarez is 39 years old. Juarez has a record of 51-9-4 but she has not lost since 2016.

Filip Hrgović adds Matchroom to his promotional team

Croatian heavyweight hopeful Filip Hrgović has signed a co-promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing, adding the British powerhouse to his existing deal with Sauerland Event. The 2016 Olympic bronze medal winner will now have his future fights screened live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in the US. Hrgović's record is listed as 7-0, but since he had many pro fights in AIBA's World Series of Boxing, a more accurate record is 32-4.
Hrgović served notice to the heavyweight division with a third-round knockout win over Amir Mansour in his hometown Zagreb, and also has notable wins against Kevin Johnson and Tom Little.
As Hrgović continues to climb the world rankings and move closer to an inevitable world title shot, he is delighted to be teaming up with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing alongside his current promoter Team Sauerland. “I am very happy and honoured that my promoter Team Sauerland will be working with Matchroom Boxing, DAZN and Sky Sports to deliver me big fights as I continue my world title quest,” said Hrgović. “This will be great for my career and proves I am one of the best prospects in the business. My goal is to become champion and to hold all the belts in the heavyweight division. I know to be the best, I will have to beat the best, and as I have proven so far in my professional career, I am willing to fight any heavyweight out there. I look forward to being involved in huge fights all around the world and showing boxing fans what Filip Hrgović can do!”
Matchroom's Eddie Hearn said, “I’m excited to team up with Team Sauerland to work on an exceptional young Heavyweight in Filip Hrgović. Everyone in the sport knows what a threat this man is and he is already willing to jump in big fights at such an early stage in his career. Fans will get to watch Filip all over in the world competing in all major fight cities – don’t blink!”
“Heavyweight boxing is currently enjoying a huge resurgence and we believe Filip Hrgović is the most exciting up and coming fighter in the division,” said Nisse Sauerland. “We’re delighted to be working with Eddie Hearn and Sky Sports, with whom we have always enjoyed an excellent relationship, and DAZN, who are doing great things for boxing, and plotting a route forward that will take Filip to the top of the heavyweight pile.”

Santa Cruz-Rivera final presser quotables

There was no love lost on Valentine's Day in Los Angeles as fighters competing on Saturday's Premier Boxing Champions on Fox and Fox Deportes exchanged words and went face-to-face at the final press conference before their respective showdowns this Saturday night at Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live. World / WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (pictured) will defend his title against Mexico's Rafael Rivera in the main event. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will feature a welterweight clash between Omar Figueroa and John Molina Jr., plus unbeaten junior middleweight Sebastian Fundora and Donnie Marshall going toe-to-toe.
Tickets for the show, which is promoted by TGB Promotions and Ringstar Sports, are on sale now, and can be purchased at AXS.com.
The event also featured an appearance by former champion and Southern California fan-favorite Fernando Vargas. Here is what the press conference participants had to say Thursday from the Conga Room:
"We were getting ready for Miguel Flores, but in the gym you have to always be ready for any kind of style. We had been already been working with sparring partners who brawl, and that's what we expect from Rafael Rivera.
"I knew immediately that Rivera was a good opponent. He's young and hungry and that makes him dangerous. He can take punches, so we're ready for 12 rounds. We're going to be smart in this fight because we know what Rivera can do.
"Seeing my dad going through cancer treatment has been very tough. He motivates me to go to the gym and train hard, because I know if he sees me working hard, it will motivate him as well.
"I'm just looking to go out there, give a great fight and help my name continue to grow so that I can fight the best.
"I love fighting and training here in Los Angeles. It gives me a chance to be with my family more. When I have them here, it makes me train harder. I do all of this for them and their future.
"If I can get this win, we want to unify the belts or make the third fight against Carl Frampton. If not, we will go to 130 pounds and seek a title in a new weight class."
"I've stepped in late before to a big fight. I'm always ready when it comes. Expect a surprise come Saturday night.
"I know that I have everything it takes to bring this title back to Tijuana. We've trained hard and had these last four weeks to focus in on breaking Leo down.
"I'm prepared for anything Leo brings into the ring. Everyone knows he's very tough and throws a lot of punches, but I believe I am the faster fighter and I can hurt him with counters.
"This is the best opportunity I've had, going up against a great champion like Leo. I'm ready for fight and a great show for the fans."
"Given our styles, there's no way this is going to go the distance. I think this is going to be an early night and I'm planning on having my hand raised.
"The layoff didn't affect me against Robert Guerrero, so I don't see why it will affect me now. That's why I keep my style consistent. The only difference is the character across from me in the ring. This fight will depend on how John wants it to go, because I'm coming to fight.
"I'm just looking to get in the ring and take advantage of this opportunity I've been given. I've made changes that have made my whole game so much easier. It's a totally different mentality that I have now.
"Training camp went great. I've made a lot of changes in my lifestyle and I'm dedicated 100 percent to boxing. Things have never been better."
"It's time to fight. The hard work is done and the time is now. Talk is cheap. On Saturday night, we'll get down.
"I've been down this road before. I was never given lofty expectations. There's no pressure here. I think Omar's style will accommodate mine and make it a fun fight for the fans.
"Whenever I fight, it's going to be exciting. You can say the same thing about Omar. I'm prepared for any version of Omar. Just like any other fight. I can't wait until Saturday night to get in there and do what I do best.
"I've put everything into this camp, like I'm sure my opponent has. That's what we owe to the fans and it's going to come to fruition Saturday night."
"I expect a good fight. He's an undefeated fighter and I hope to give the fans a great show and walk away victorious.
"We're totally focused on this fight. I just train and everything else is out of the way. I trained hard and I'm going to do my thing like always.
"I'm still growing as a fighter. We're getting better with every camp and every fight. It's good that we keep fighting quality opponents, because it helps accelerate that process.
"Hopefully we're going to display a lot more boxing and technique in this fight. I think Marshall is going to come inside and attack the body. I think if I'm able to stop him, it will be from the boxing skills that I show."
"I'm ready to dominate the fight like I always do. That's the only thing on my mind. I don't care about his height, record or anything else. I'm coming to dominate.
"I've never been concerned with the height of Fundora. We sparred with some good strong southpaws in Florida including Yamaguchi Falcao. Then we went to Las Vegas for the second half of training camp and worked with some top prospects. I'm more than prepared for anything.
"Every fight is a make or break fight. I've trained against top fighters and been all around the country in different gyms. I've only been pro two and a half years. I'm a young 30. I'm going to announce myself on Saturday in a big way."
RICHARD SCHAEFER, Chairman and CEO of Ringstar Sports
"This weekend is another example why Los Angeles is such a great fight town. We're going to have a fantastic crowd at Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live on Saturday night. I think that speaks to the strength of this city as a boxing town, and the strength of this card. This is top to bottom one of the best cards I can remember here in Los Angeles.
"The tripleheader on FOX and FOX Deportes has three fights that want to steal the night. We will see which fight and which fighter everyone will be talking about after Saturday. There are definitely some fights on this card that have 'Fight of the Year' written all over them.
"We are committed to continuing to bring the best and biggest fights to the fans here in Los Angeles, because Los Angeles is the fight capital of the world again."

Final Shobox Weights and Quotables

Here are the weigh-in results for tomorrow's installment of ShoBox at the Kansas Star Arena, Mulvane, Kansas:
Shohjahon Ergashev – 142 pounds -vs.- Mykal Fox – 142*
Referee: Bill Clancy (North Carolina); Judges: David Sutherland (Oklahoma), Karen Holderfield (Arkansas), Mike Contreras (Nebraska)
*--Fight contracted at a catchweight of 142 pounds.
Jesse Hernandez – 121 lbs. -vs.- Thomas Ward – 121 ¾ lbs.
Referee: Kevin Champion (Missouri); Judges: David Sutherland (Oklahoma), Karen Holderfield (Arkansas), Jeff Sinnett (Nebraska).
Nico Hernandez 112 lbs. -vs.- Victor Trejo Garcia 110.6 lbs (Hernandez is an Olympic bronze medal winner);
Elena Savelyeva 112.4 lbs. -vs.- Tatiana Williams 116 lbs.;
Bakhtiyar Eyubov 142.6 lbs. vs. Jose Luis Rodriguez 138 lbs.;
Apti Davtaev 254 lbs. vs. Richard Carmack (weight not available); and
Izim Izbaki 237 lbs. vs. Matt Foster (weight not available).
“I know the odds are against me because of his height. He says he’s 6-foot-4 and the tallest fighter I’ve fought was 6-foot-1.
“I just have to be the smarter fighter tomorrow. My limited English skills has never hurt me in the ring and communicating with my corner. Fighting is a universal language. My English is a little bit better; it’s getting better.
“I trained for this fight both in Detroit and some in Florida and sparred with bigger guys like Anthony Dirrell and Leon Lawson at the Big Time Boxing Gym in Boca Raton. I had my conditioning coach B.B. Hudson in Florida with me too. So we are more than ready to go come fight night.
“I’m not eyeing one particular fighter; I just want to fight for a title. It’s been a year since my ShoBox debut against Sonny Fredrickson and I’ve improved a lot. I can’t wait to show my skills tomorrow night.
“I have some surprises that I’ll show on my way into the ring. I like to make it fun, and the fans will see that when I enter the ring.”
“This is the best shape I’ve ever been in. We’ve been trying to put this fight on for a long time. We tried to do it last year, but it didn’t work out. I decided to fight someone the caliber of Ergashev because he’s undefeated, and I’m undefeated. We have similar records, so why not?
“I’ve been watching [Ergashev] fights every day on YouTube. There is some danger in that, but I feel like I the more I can study what he does in the ring, the better prepared I will be.
“I don’t know what comes next for me. I’m still young. I’m just focused on tomorrow night.
“Right now, my brother [ShoBox alumnus Alantez Fox] thinks I’m the better fighter than him, but that’s only because I’m fighting tomorrow. I bet after the fight he will go back to thinking there’s no one better than him.”
“Eventually, I’ll be a featherweight, but I think I can make this weight [122 pounds] for another year, year and a half.
“I’ve studied him on YouTube. I know what to do tomorrow night. I know how to exploit my advantage. He has a No. 4 ranking by the WBO so if we get the win we can get his rating, if not better.
“He’s never seen a fighter like me; never fought in the States, or against a Mexican fighter. So I know I have the advantage. I have the ring IQ, and am the smarter fighter.
“I have 10 rounds as my mindset. Last time I was on ShoBox I wanted to get my opponent out of there. But not this time. Of course, if I hurt him in the first round I will try to get him out of there. But it’s OK to win by decision too.”
“I was offered this fight and it’s a nice opportunity for me. It’s live on SHOWTIME, so why not? This is a great stage and it’s a very winnable fight for me.
“Eventually we will get a world title shot. I just have to keep winning. I know I have the ability and the time is now. If the opportunity is right, we will take whatever is put in front of us.
“He’s supposed to be an aggressive fighter and I’m a boxer so it will be a good mix of styles. I know that he’s a good, strong fighter, but I’ll be ready to handle whatever he gives me.
“Of all the rounds I’ve boxed in 25 victories, I’ve only lost four or five rounds. If you’re not getting hit, you’re not losing.
“I’m a family man and don’t go out. I’ve just been focused 100 percent on my boxing career.
“I’ve been in the States since February 6th. We stopped in New York on our way here and trained for a few days. I trained at Mendez Boxing in Manhattan and also trained at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn.”

Fonfara retires, Ramos-Santana added to Porter-Ugas undercard

Light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara has withdrawn from a bouth against Edwin Rodriguez that was scheduled for March 9th at Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly StubHub Center) in Carson, California. The vbout was slated to be part of Premier Boxing Champions on Fox and Fox Deportes. Fonfara has decided to retire, saying, "“I’m fine physically, but I don’t have my usual desire to give boxing the 100 percent it deserves.” Stepping in as the replacement co-feature bout is a ten-round welterweight contest between Abel Ramos (23-3-2) and Francisco "Chia" Santana (25-6-1). The main event is unchanged: WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter defends against mandatory challenger Yordenis Ugas.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions, are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased at AXS.com.
The 31-year-old Fonfara announced that he is retiring from boxing, prompting him to withdraw from the fight against Rodriguez on Wednesday.
"There is no more enthusiasm and above all no more of the motivation and adrenaline that gave me the desire to go into the ring and compete," Fonfara said. "I am healthy. Everything is okay. But I no longer have the heart for boxing.''
Ramos (23-3-2, 18 KOs) has put together four technical knockout victories since losing a hard-fought majority decision to welterweight contender Jamal James in front of James' hometown crowd in Minneapolis on April 13, 2018. The 27-year-old from Casa Grande, Arizona proved against James that he's a formidable opponent for anyone in the 147-pound division.
Santana (25-6-1, 12 KOs) needs an impressive victory over Ramos to remain a force in the welterweight division. The 31-year-old Santana of Santa Barbara, California is coming off a majority decision over the always-tough Felix Diaz and owns victories over then unbeaten fighters Eddie Gomez

Claressa Shields: Christina Hammer isn't going the distance on my watch

Greg Leon: Your middleweight unification vs. Christina Hammer is booked for April 13th in Atlantic City [NJ]. This is big news. Claressa Shields: "Everybody keeps on telling me congrats on getting the fight made, but that's really congrats to [manager] Mark (Taffet) and [promoter] Dmitriy (Salita). I'll get my congrats at the end once I win...and make weight."
GL: After going through the roller coaster of thinking you had it the first time [until Hammer got injured], are you not getting overly excited until that bell rings? At what point will you be convinced that this fight will take place?
Claressa Shields: "I'll be convinced when she's face to face with me at the press conference, which should happen in a week and half or so. I'll be convinced then. I'm going to keep the good faith with everything. They said it's done and I believe in my team. She's back talking a little bit of trash so hopefully she comes and shows us what she's bringing."
GL: What kind of impact do you expect this fight to have on women's boxing?
CS: "I expect it to break that barrier. I expect it to be the kind of fight that shows we need to put women on PPV. All of the girls who are at the top and claiming to be the best fighters, they should all be fighting each other to get that recognition because we need to be on TV, and this how we're going to create the market, so I feel like this fight is going to have a great impact."
GL: Do you feel any extra pressure to make sure this is a sensational fight? The spotlight is on y'all for real in this one.
CS: "Yes, but I'm going to go out there and do my job. This is a good fight because we've both got belts and she's been reigning with her belt for eight years and I've been reigning professional for two years, but I've taken on a lot of big challenges to get here. This is the women's boxing match that never really happens, like Laila Ali-Ann Wolfe and Lucia Rijker-Christy Martin. We're the best of our era and we need to fight each other. I 'm going to go out there and do my job though, I ain't going to let myself feel pressure. People who know me know that all I do is get into the gym and train my ass off. I don't think about the media and what the media is saying or what the odds are. I focus on being the best me. Being in the best shape and being as focused as possible. That's all I do for every fight."
GL: Is she going the distance?
CS: "Not on my watch she's not. Like I said, I've been learning myself as a professional and I've been getting closer and closer to a really big knockout. I'm thinking that this fight is going to be it. I want to be able to finish. I've been adding little by little every fight. I don't know if you noticed, but on November 17th with Hannah Rankin I barely threw any body shots and I won every round, dominant with combinations. In my next fight I almost knocked the girl out three times and I went to the body more than I went to the head.
"I'm seeing the little things that I can do in there and adding it all up. Hammer should have taken the fight back in November before I learned this stuff, because now I've picked up on these things as well as the fact that I can expend more energy because I'm in good enough shape for ten rounds with no trouble at all. So she's got a problem on her hands that she wouldn't have had on November 17th. Her getting sick was a blessing in disguise. I was going to win the fight regardless, but I'm going to win it even easier now.'
GL: I think if you were going three minute rounds you'd have a lot more stoppages. You stay hurting girls at the end of rounds.
CS: "Every time! And I'm like how I don't the timing and it's because I'm sparring men for three minutes. That was a problem and we've fixed that, we don't even start sparring for two minutes until two weeks before the fight, but before thst we were going 2:30 and three minutes. That's what had my timing off because it was already the end of the round, but my body was programmed like it still had a minute left and there's a big difference between two minutes and three mintues."
GL: Sometimes I also see that after you hurt a girl at the end of the round, you don't really jump on her in the next round, it's almost like you take each round as its own individual contest you know what I'm saying?
CS: "That's because I was taught, people don't know, but I was taught to stay on the jab. People always say, 'oh she's got a big right hand and she throws a ton of power punches', but I always throw the jab before every combination. Nobody ever says that and I never throw big right hands without first trying to get the distance with my jab, and then I let the rest of it go. I don't rush my punches anymore. I used to, but we've been slowing them down to make sure I land with the punch on the knuckle. That's the kind of stuff that be on my mind, not knocking somebody out, but I do think a minute is more than enough time to recover if you got hurt at the end of the previous round."
GL: How do you feel about making your Atlantic City debut?
CS: "I've only been to New Jersey I think one time. I'm just excited because one, my hometown is Flint, Michigan but people all over America follow me. Especially from Brooklyn, New Jersey, Queens, I got so many friends and family and fans in those areas...then knowing Shakur's from Newark which is close to there, so I know Shakur is going to be backing me and be behind me and his fans are going to come out and see me perform. I wish he were on the card too because it would be like the Olympic homecoming. I'm just excited and happy to be fighting at a place that's known and a place people can get to. I'm just working my way up to where all of my fights don't have to be in Detroit, or Verona. I'm confident that pretty soon I'm going to be fighting in Las Vegas and LA."
GL: Yeah, but we got to get you at the Garden though.
CS: "Of course! I'm working on it!"
GL: What does a victory in this fight lead to? Or are you not thinking that far ahead right now?
CS: "I think so far ahead it's a shame man. After this fight I want to fight Cecilia Braekhus at 154. I like her a lot and I think she's a great person and a great fighter, but in this boxing game I just want to be able to prove that I am the best of this era. I'm out to prove that I'm the best woman fighter ever period, but especially of the era that I'm in. I can't prove that I'm better than Laila Ali or Ann Wolfe because they're retired, but Cecilia Braekhus is not. I want to fight her when we're both at the top of our game where she's undisputed, I'm undisputed and I'll go down another weight class, she comes up one and boom we fight."
GL: Can you make 154?
CS: "I can make it but I can't stay there if that makes sense. (laughs) I could definitely make 154. Once I become undisputed at 160 I want to do a regular fight at 154 and then I want to fight Cecilia Braekhus. It's not about a belt because my nutritionist told me I could make 147 if I had to but I don't have any desire to do that to be honest with y'all. I don't want to fight at 147, I believe I can fight everywhere from 154-175 and possibly add a fourth division."
GL: When was the last time you touched 154?
CS: "I was about 16, but that's why I would want to do a tune-up fight first because it's all about the nutrition. When I fought Hanna Gabriels at 160 pounds I lost the weight the wrong way, now I have a strong nutrition team behind me and they are awesome. Paulina, Denise, Michelle, I mean they cook my meals for me and give me tips for when I'm not in camp and those kind of things matter. Instead of starving yourself the whole day before the fight and then putting yourself in a sauna, you can lose it the right way. For my last two fights it's been so so easy for me to make the weight."
GL: Any closing thoughts for the fans?
CS: "I just want to thank everybody for keeping this fight alive and for believing in me and believing in Christina and believing that women's boxing can flourish. Everybody tune in on April 13th it's going to be a great show. To all the haters, keep on hating we like it."

Badou Jack starts promotional company

Former IBF super-middleweight champion and philanthropist Badou Jack has officially launched Badou Jack Promotions and Events LLC in the United Arab Emirates, as he continues to grow his portfolio of ventures outside of the ring. The company will hold its inaugural event on Friday, May 3rd from the Five Palms Jumeriah in Dubai.
"I am looking forward to bringing a lot of excitement to Dubai with some very entertaining combat sports events," said Jack. "This is a great opportunity to take the next step in my career with this promotional company. We're looking to build something with the fighters and the fans that will become part of the fabric of the entertainment culture in this region."
"Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai is excited to partner with Badou Jack Promotions to deliver an unforgettable evening of excitement and entertainment on May 3," said Aloki Batra, CEO Five Hospitality.
Adding to his sports supplement company Ripper Nutrition and non-profit organization the Badou Jack Foundation, Jack's promotional company is another aspect of his burgeoning enterprise.
"Badou is very popular in the Middle Eastern region", said Jack's Business Manager Amer Abdallah. "He has a tremendous business mind and is eager to put on some great events in Dubai."
Jack has been in the Middle East since his fight in January, doing charitable missions while also exploring entrepreneurial opportunities in the region that he has frequented throughout recent years.
"We have tremendous support from the Dubai market and our investor group, with some exciting events planned," Abdallah stated. "We are excited to launch the promotion and deliver great entertainment to our fans in Dubai starting with the May 3 event."
With the May 3 date set, and bigger events in the works for the future, Jack is on his way to bolstering his business credentials with this new company, while also providing unique viewing experiences for the people in the UAE.
"This is a region steeped in tradition and culture," said Jack. "We believe the time is right to invest in making combat sports a fun and entertaining part of that culture. The audience is there; we just need to bring them memorable events worth of this vibrant

Joshua Greer fighting to "become one of the best bantamweights ever!"

Greg Leon: How did everything go in camp? What can we expect to see from you versus Giovanni Escaner [19-3] on Friday night in Hinckley, Minnesota? Joshua Greer Jr: "I had a great camp, an awesome camp as usual. I worked on a lot and one thing you can expect is a guaranteed one sided dominant performance from all angles, and the pillow will be coming out!"
GL: What do you know about Escaner as a fighter?
Joshua Greer Jr: "I know he's an aggressive fighter, he's going to make his own bed to lay on and I'm going to put him down on it."
GL: Will it go the distance if the pillow's coming?
JG: "The only thing I can promise is a one-sided, dominant performance. Whether he quits or gets knocked out it doesn't make a difference to me."
GL: Would you be surprised if your knockout streak didn't continue?
JG: "I wouldn't be mad about it because the worst case scenario is me winning a one-sided unanimous decision. I'm going to win at the end of the day."
GL: You've yet to go ten, if it becomes a distance fight does that concern you?
JG: "Not at all. I can go the rounds with no problem. If I have to win off my purse skills going the distance I can also do that. I got no problem going the distance."
GL: How did Pablo Cupul go the distance with you? That dude's been stopped a gang of times.
JG: "If you could see the weight difference it was crazy. I was fighting in Gary, Indiana on a local show. I had already sold the tickets and when he got there he was crazy overweight and didn't want to lose anything. I had already sold the tickets and I didn't want to lose the fight at that point so I got on the scale with all of my clothes on and was 10 pounds less than him. I was there and I was like f**k it let's do it."
GL: Do you think it was your performance against James Gordon Smith that got people to take notice?
JG: "Most definitely. That was my first time fighting on TV and it was on the undercard of Claressa Shields first TV fight so a lot of people tuned in and I feel like I made a name for myself then."
GL: What are your goals for this year?
JG: "To become a world champion."
GL: Is there any champion that tickles your fancy?
JG: "It doesn't matter who it is to me. There's no champion I consider special, so I feel like I can adapt to any situation and beat any of them."
GL: Even though they've been having some difficulties now are you disappointed that you were excluded from the WBSS tournament?
JG: "I honestly felt like I'm doing perfectly fine. I'm with Top Rank and we don't need the tournament, there's some belts that aren't in the tournament, so when that's over and done with I can definitely be ready to see whoever comes out of it. I'm doing great with the path that I'm on and I thank Top Rank for that."
GL: Top Rank is Top Rank.
JG: "Most definitely and I'm glad I don't have to deal with all the financial bullshit that's going on with that tournament now too."
GL: What are your thoughts on the bantamweight division?
JG: "I feel like it's a quiet division. I don't really think any of the guys stand out and I feel like I can be one of the best bantamweights ever. I want to be the pound for pound star, that's what I want to be. I want to be one of the best to ever do it at bantamweight!"
GL: Is avenging the loss to Steph Fulton important to you?
JG: "Definitely not. When I fought him I feel like I won the fight. It was in his hometown and everybody I talked with thought I won the fight. The promoter of the card Marshall Kauffman thought that I won the fight, so I don't even view that as a loss. I tried to make a fight with him three or four times after that because I know I got the short end of the stick, but he made it known he didn't want it. I'm past that now and I feel like right now I'm in a much better place than him. I don't even think he's ranked."
GL: A lot of times when you get a TV slot on a promoters card that promoter will look to get future considerations on you. That never happened with you, why is that?
JG: "They thought they were bringing in another guy for James Smith to knockout. He was 10-0 with 8KO's and when I fought him I didn't have a lot of knockouts at the time. They didn't think I was dangerous and I told them all before the fight including James, I said I know you're used to knocking out these bums, but I'm not here for that. I told him I was going to be knocking him out and that's exactly what happened."
GL: Does these promoters missing the boat on your further motivate you?
JG: "It probably wasn't even the promoters, it was probably the matchmakers because I'm sure they left the job up to him. The matchmaker was the one who contacted me for the fight and they didn't ask for anything but the fight. I know who I am as a person and I don't have to keep proving what my abilities are because I know who I am."
GL: Any closing thoughts for the fans?
JG: "I want to get a big shout to Top Rank and my team; my manager J. Prince, everybody who supports me. Tune in on Friday night because it's going to be an epic performance."

Apti Davtaev Expecting Step-Up Fight After UFC Fight Pass Bout

Greg Leon: How's everything going in preparation for Richard Carmack [15-14-1] this Friday in Kansas? What do you know about him? Apti Davtaev: "Preparation is going well, I work hard on myself. Good work done, I'm ready. Richard, I don't know much about him. I know that he is a very heavy boxer weighing more than 300 pounds and he is a pronounced puncher. We will have a good fight."
GL: How do you feel about being part of this UFC Fight Pass event?
Apti Davtaev: "I'm not interested in fights in the UFC. I am fully focused on my work."
GL: When can we expect to see you in a more significant fight?
AD: "I think the victory over Richard Carmack will give me this opportunity and I will then meet with the top boxer."
GL: What are your goals for 2019?
AD: "My goal is to conduct as many professional fights as possible and not get injured."
GL: Other than victory do you have a prediction?
AD: "I am determined only to win, I do not consider other options."
GL: Who do you like in the potential Deontay Wilder- Tyson Fury rematch and Anthony Joshua vs. Jarrell Miller bouts?
AD: "I am very sympathetic to all these boxers, I think Wilder will be stronger in revenge, but for now, I think Anthony Joshua is the best boxer."
GL: Closing thought for the fans.
AD: "I can only say that I will always fight to the end, no matter how hard it is."

Mullender to challenge Williams for British middleweight title

Joe Mullender (11-2) challenges Liam Williams (19-2-1) for the British middleweight title at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday March 8th. The basher from Brentwood, known as Smokin Joe, knew a domestic title shot could be in the works even before Williams claimed the title with a stoppage of previously unbeaten Mark Heffron in Manchester in December. “I was at one of the award [dinners] with my manager Andy (Ayling) and Francis (Warren) and they just said to me ‘do you want to fight the winner?’. I said ‘how much?’ Done!” stated the 32-year-old Mullender.

A pre-Christmas jaunt to Manchester to watch Williams fight Heffron was never on the cards though, according to the former English champion. “No, I’m not bothered, it really doesn’t bother me,” insisted Mullender. “I could have gone there and sat ringside peeping through the ropes. What difference is that going to make? I can’t judge a fight and sit there wondering if I could exploit this or that. Listen, he’s gonna punch my head in and I’m gonna punch his head in. Game plans go out of the window so it is irrelevant to me who won because at this level everyone is a good fighter."
Mullender continued, “I know what I am good at and I know what I have to do. What he’s good at, he’ll do, so there is nothing special to it in my opinion.
“I don’t feel like I had to sit there and watch it and I haven’t looked at it since either. I don’t need to, Liam is a good fighter and I am not one to sit and study and opponent.
“Who is he? Lovely, see you then.”
Williams is a world level operator who has previously challenged for an Interim title at super welterweight, as well as a final eliminator for a world title. Mullender, by contrast, admits his style is of a more basic nature and could be described as up close and personal.
“Yeah and it is made for fighters like Liam, but my tactics are not going to change. I’m not going ‘I’m going to shock the world’ and then go on the back foot. I’m telling him in the press conference that I am coming to ‘ave it with him.
“So he either irons me out or we are having a fight. It is as simple as that.
“I don’t pretend to be something I’m not, but everyone can come and watch me or fighters of my style and think they will pick them apart.
“Well, who has?
“I don’t know what he will do, but he can make it a very simple fight for himself by running, staying on the back foot and jabbing my head off. That is probably what Dom Ingle is saying to him, that I am basic and if I take too many he will stop me.
“Come on then, stop me!
“It is one thing looking at it from the outside and saying I am going to do this or that. When I am on your chest, try and stop me then. If you ain’t, I am gonna tickle your ribs and I am gonna beat you up.
“Otherwise, you’ve got to beat me up. It isn’t hard to work out.”

Devin Haney confirms Wilder-Fury II appearance

Undefeated lightweight Devin "The Dream" (21-0 with 12 KOs) was surprised to read Boxingtalk's breaking news stating that his next fight would take place on the pay-per-view broadcast for the Doentay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury rematch. Haney didn't know where we got the information from, but he did confirm it. "That's what it looks like it's going be," said Haney, who refused to comment any further at this point. There will be much more to follow with this future champion on Boxingtalk in the coming, weeks, months and years, so stay tuned to our front page at all times. Remember where you heard it first!


Shelly Finkel: Wilder-Fury II not happening in April, and May 18th is possible but not definitive

Shelly Finkel, the co-manager of WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (pictured), just informed Boxingtalk.com that the April 27th date for the eagerly anticipated rematch between Wilder and former champion Tyson Fury is no longer possible. Finkel further stated that this doesn't necessarily lock in May 18th as the date for the pay-per-view show either, but he refused to elaborate on other possibilties.Finkel also couldn't detail if terms for the bout have been agreed to, but said "everything should be all done next week."


Anthony Joshua vs. Jarrell Miller: June 1st at MSG

Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA Super, IBF, WBO and IBO world titles against Jarrell Miller in his long-awaited U.S. debut at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday, June 1, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN in the U.S. Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) last defended his titles with a knockout of Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium in September in what was the Olympic Champion’s fourth straight stadium fight in front of over 80,000 fans. And now sport’s biggest name will follow in the footsteps of heavyweight greats such as Joe Louis, Joe Frazier, Evander Holyfield and Muhammad Ali when he crosses the Atlantic to silence Brooklyn’s brash "Big Baby" Miller at ‘The Mecca of Boxing’.
“June 1st I am heading to The Big Apple and I plan to embrace the culture and leave with an appetite for more,” said Joshua. “I will be fighting Jarrell Miller at the legendary Madison Square Garden. It has been an honour and a blessing to fight at some of the best venues in the World at home in the UK, not least Wembley Stadium, but the time has come to head across the Atlantic and defend my Heavyweight titles in the USA. I am looking forward to taking on another challenge with a good boxer & a brilliant talker, it will be an exciting fight, I will leave nothing to chance and plan on dismantling Miller in style to make my mark.”
Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs), has been calling for Joshua ever since he went face-to-face with Joshua during a heated exchange at the launch of DAZN’s streaming service in the U.S. in July last year, and the undefeated 300 pounder is promising to turn AJ’s American dream into a living nightmare as he looks to announce himself on the biggest stage of all.
Miller earned his shot at Joshua with successive wins over Gerald Washington, Mariusz Wach, Johann Duhaupas and [an ancient] Tomasz Adamek, crushing the latter inside two rounds on his Matchroom Boxing USA debut at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago in October. He followed this up with another big stoppage win, this time steamrolling Bogdan Dinu in four rounds at the Kansas Star Arena, and now Miller returns to his home city to fulfil a lifelong dream of fighting for a heavyweight championship.
“AJ is making a huge mistake coming over here to fight me in my own backyard,” said Miller. “He wants to announce himself on the American stage but all he’s doing is delivering me those belts by hand. Its dog eat dog in the ring and this dog has got a bigger bite, he’ll be leaving New York empty-handed. This is the fight that I’ve been chasing all my life and on June 1 I’m going to achieve the thing I was born to do and win the Heavyweight Championship of the World. That punk AJ is standing in the way of my dreams and on June 1 he’s getting run the hell over.”
“It’s been an eventful few months but I’m delighted to finally announce that Anthony Joshua will make his American debut at the iconic Madison Square Garden on June 1,” said Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Boxing Managing Director. “AJ has created an incredible ‘Lion’s Den’ atmosphere in the UK and we plan to bring that energy to New York on a card that will be stacked with British vs. American talent. When you look at the Heavyweight greats that have graced the renowned ‘Mecca of Boxing’ the names of Ali, Frazier, Marciano and Tyson stand firm and June 1 will be a moment when the World will witness AJ’s turn.
“Jarrell Miller is someone I know well having been involved in his last 4 fights in America. I know how much he wants this fight and I know the belief that him and his team have in beating AJ. He is a mountain of a man with an incredible work rate and he will get the chance to challenge for 4 World Heavyweight belts in his backyard this summer. They went to head to head for all the wrong reasons last Summer and next week they will do it again as we get ready for the big build up for a momentous moment on June 1st at MSG.”
“We are delighted to be showing this massive occasion on Sky Sports Box Office and our team will provide every step of an enticing build up,” said Adam Smith, Head of Sky Sports Boxing. “Every boxer wants to conquer America and the time has come for AJ at the iconic Madison Square Garden. It’s been the home of countless classics, from Ali vs. Frazier to the controversial bout that was called a draw between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis 20 years ago. It’s another chapter in the Joshua story.”
“Anthony Joshua is the number one heavyweight in the world and DAZN is excited to deliver the British star’s much-anticipated U.S. debut at the iconic Madison Square Garden,” said Joseph Markowski, DAZN Executive Vice President, North America. “In New York awaits a hometown fighter in Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller who has been quite vocal about his plans to spoil Joshua’s stateside arrival. He poses a real threat to dethrone the Heavyweight king in what will undoubtedly be a major international attraction and we are eager to see what will unfold June 1 on DAZN.”
“The heavyweight championship at Madison Square Garden is unlike any setting in the World and we couldn’t be more thrilled to host Anthony Joshua and Jarrell Miller,” said Joel Fisher, Executive Vice President, MSG Marquee Events. “The legacy of Heavyweights at ‘The Mecca of Boxing’ that began with the likes of John L. Sullivan, Gene Tunney, ‘Jersey’ Joe Walcott, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Joe Louis, Evander Holyfield, Wladimir Klitschko and Lennox Lewis will continue when Joshua and Miller step into the famed Garden ring in front of a packed house on June 1.”
“On June 1st, Brooklyn’s Jarrell Miller will fight in the world’s greatest city for boxing’s greatest title — on boxing’s biggest stage — ‘The Mecca of Boxing’ Madison Square Garden,” said Dmitriy Salita of Salita Promotions. “It is a dream come true for Jarrell, but it is exactly what we envisioned and what I promised him when I began working with Jarrell in his second professional fight. He is on the verge of making history and I am proud to have been there since the beginning. On June 1st Jarrell follow in the footsteps of Brooklyn Heavyweight greats Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe to bring the Heavyweight World title back to its rightful home NY.”
“It is incredible to be a co-promoter of Jarrell Miller’s World title challenge against Anthony Joshua on June 1st streamed live on DAZN,” said Greg Cohen of Greg Cohen Promotions. “The fact that this event is taking place at Madison Square Garden makes it extra special as it’s a home game for Team Miller. I can’t wait to hear Michael Buffer announce, “And the NEW…!”

St. Pete, Florida hosts boxing action this Saturday

UFC Fight Pass will air boxing on Saturday, February 16 at the Coliseum in St. Petersburg, FL. Headlining will be an eight-round middleweight showdown between Connor “The Kid” Coyle (8-0) and Travis “Dirty Red” Scott. (19-4) . Welterweight Mark Reyes Jr. (8-0) of Tampa, FL faces Brazil's Rodrigo Tatijewski (8-0) in a six-round battle of unbeatens. Junior welterweight Willian “Baby Face” Silva of Plant City, FL by way of Sao Paolo, Brazil challenges rugged Argentinian Juan Ramon Solis in a ten rounder.
Splitting time between his native Ireland and St. Petersburg, FL, Coyle’s become a big draw in the Tampa-St Pete area and most recently scored a sixth-round TKO of Danny Pastrana.
Fighting out of Baton Rouge, LA, Scott is Coyle’s most experienced foe to date. The 38-year-old turned pro in 2004 when Coyle was 14.
The wildly popular Reyes Jr. is an athletic boxer-puncher. Reyes is coming off a third-round TKO of Juan Garces last October and at 22 years-old, continues to improve.
Tatijewski, who is fighting for the first time in the United States, is confident of making a major splash by taking out Reyes in front of millions of viewers on UFC Fight Pass.
Silva, who has an excellent 26-2 professional ledger and 15 wins by knockout, scored a ninth-round TKO over Jose Forero last October. After fighting most of his career at lightweight, Silva’s sights are set on the best at 140 pounds but he must get past Solis.
Living and fighting out of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Solis is 25-13 with 9 KO’s. The 36-year-old’s faced many top fighters including ex-IBF lightweight champion Robert Easter, plus Sergio Thompson and Diego Silva along with unbeaten Saul Rodriguez.
“This is a great opportunity for Connor, Mark and Willian,” said Jody Caliguire of Fire Fist Boxing. “The UFC Fight Pass platform is perfect for all three of these excellent boxers to showcase their talent to fans from all over. We’re looking forward to Saturday evening.”

Rafael Rivera open workout quotables

The boxers competing on Saturday's Premier Boxing Champions event (on Fox and Fox Deportes) took part in a media workout Wednesday as they neared fight night at L.A. Live in Los Angeles. Wednesday's workout featured Mexico's Rafael Rivera (26-2-2), who will battle world/ WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz in the main event. Also working out Wednesday at City of Angels Boxing Club were unbeaten WBC lightweight title holder Omar Figueroa and hard-hitting John Molina Jr., who battle each other at 140 pounds, and Donnie Marshall, who faces fellow-unbeaten Sebastian Fundora in a junior middleweight bout that kicks off televised coverage at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
Unbeaten 2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas was also in attendance, as he will compete in a TV swing bout.
The fighters will go face-to-face at a press conference on Thursday that will feature former two-time world champion and Southern California favorite Fernando Vargas. Here is what the fighters had to say Wednesday:
"When I got this opportunity, I didn't think twice. I was training and ready and I wanted this challenge. I'm here to make the most of it.
"Like I always say to my fans, be ready for a great fight. I'm looking to make this very exciting and interesting. The belt is coming back with me to Tijuana.
"I never look for the knockout, but I've still been able to get them. I'm ready, so I hope he's also ready to give the fans a great fight.
"This is a big challenge for me. I'm coming for that world title. I want to prove how good I am and become a world champion for my fans in Tijuana.
"I love to face the best fighters out there. Leo is a fighter who throws a lot of punches. We've seen it and we've studied it. But I don't think he's very fast. I'm faster than he is and I have to take advantage of that. I have to counter him when he comes in and do my job."
"I'm looking to come back strong against Molina. My style is always to go in there for the knockout and give the fans a great show. The sooner we get him out of there, the better.
"We know that John Molina is a tough fighter. He's been in there with some of the best in the world and he's given them problems. We expect him to bring a great fight.
"We've seen Molina box before and make things difficult for certain fighters. I'm going to try to make the fight my style of fight and we'll see if he obliges. Once he feels the power, he might choose to box.
"I don't think this goes past six rounds. I'm confident about that. We're going to be ready for anything Molina brings.
"I've been doing a lot of healing physically, mentally and spiritually. I'm looking to show on Saturday that I've got everything together."
"I feel excited and confident. Maybe overconfident, but I am ready. We did our job in the gym and now we are ready for the fight.
"I have to expect the best version of Omar Figueroa. He is a smart kid. I don't know if he is trying to entice me into a war right away. I don't know what his game plan is, but we will find out on Saturday.
"Fans need to tune in on FOX and FOX Deportes February 16. This is going to be a war and I believe we're going to steal the show.
"This isn't my first go around against a Joel Diaz-trained fighter. I did it before with Ruslan Provodnikov and now it is my job to beat Figueroa.
"I am not affected by being considered the underdog. Every one of my fights, fans make money. I think Provodnikov I was 11-1. When you become a veteran in the sport, you stop worrying about stuff like that. Talk is cheap.
"There is a lot at stake for me. I don't feel pressure, but there is a lot at stake. Every fight of my career I have something to prove and Saturday is no different."
"This is my first big opportunity and I'm ready to take full advantage. I'm going to show everybody where I'm at.
"I'm going to take it as it comes in the ring. We have a game plan, but I'm a creator in the ring. I create on the go. I'll fit in where I can and go with the flow of the fight.
"The only challenge I see is his height. He's obviously very tall at six-foot seven-inches. We know what we have to do to break him down. I don't even really see the height as a challenge, because I spar with heavyweights all the time.
"I'm 10-0, but I only started boxing when I was 20, about 10 years ago. I don't have the time like young prospects who want to play around, I want to fight any and everybody I can right now."
"I feel excited and anxious to get back in the ring. I'm ready physically and mentally. I know that my opponent won't be ready for the heat I'm going to throw at him.
"This year I'm looking to be busy. I want to be back in the ring in April if everything goes well on Saturday. After this fight I'm going to move to Los Angeles and add trainer Roberto Alcazar to my team. He's had a lot of experience in big fights and I think he's going to be a great help. I can really understand clearly what he's trying to teach me.
"I'm going to show everyone that I'm the real deal once again. I'm going to prove why these fighters can't make it through a fight with me. This year is all business for me."
Tickets for the show, which is promoted by TGB Promotions and Ringstar Sports, are on sale now, and can be purchased at AXS.com.