Nico Hernandez, Carlos Balderas will box Saturday for Team USA in Rio

Nico Hernandez/Photo courtesy of USA Boxing


Light flyweight Nico Hernandez and lightweight Carlos Balderas will be in action Saturday when boxing begins at the Rio Games.

Balderas, of Santa Maria, will take on Kazakhstan’s Berik Abdrahkhmanov in the morning session at Riocentro Pavilion 6. Balderas, of Wichita, Kan., will square off with Manuel Cappai of Italy in the evening session.

There are six American males and two females competing for Team USA.

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Shelly Vincent, Heather Hardy can’t wait to punch each other in the face

Heather Hardy/Photo courtesy of DiBella Entertainment


Heather Hardy and Shelly Vincent don’t like each other. On Aug. 21 – they’ll get the chance to do something about that mutual discord when the undefeated contenders square off in a 10-round featherweight bout from Coney Island in New York City (on NBC Sports Network).

Hardy, of Brooklyn, is 17-0. Vincent, of Providence, R.I., is 18-0. Their unblemished records are on the line, but that doesn’t seem to be the most important thing to them. Rather, that would be teeing off on the other.

“I really can’t wait to punch Shelly right in the face,” Hardy said this week. “… Shelly started her career a little bit before me. She started showing up at my fights with all these antics from almost my pro debut and talking about wanting to fight me.

“It was inappropriate at the time, but then she signed with (promoter) Lou (DiBella) and we’ve both developed in our careers. Hats off to her, it worked. I’m ready to brawl.”

Vincent is equally anxious to throw down with her rival.

“I can’t wait to get in there and hit Heather,” she said. “She thinks there’s no pop in my punches, but she’ll be surprised on fight night. Heather and I really just don’t like each other. I’ve tried to make this fight for years and she wouldn’t take the fight.

“I’ve seen her lose some of these fights. I don’t believe she’s undefeated. I feel like she’s avoiding me.”

Hardy is ranked No. 1 by the WBC at super bantamweight. Vincent is No. 7 at featherweight. They will square off underneath the welterweight main event between Errol Spence Jr. (20-0, 17 KOs) and Leonard Bundu (33-1-2, 12 KOs), which will be on NBC.

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Andre Ward believes Alexander Brand could be dangerous on Saturday

Andre Ward/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation Sports


Alexander Brand of Colombia has 26 professional fights, with all but four of them taking place in his homeland. Three were in the States, but none on a big stage. The other was in the Dominican Republic.

Brand (25-1, 19 KOs) is therefore nothing close to a known commodity. But Andre Ward, who Saturday will tangle with Brand in the light heavyweight main event at Oracle Arena in Oakland (on HBO), says he knows what he needs to know about the 39-year-old Colombian.

“I know enough about Brand,” said Ward, a former super middleweight champion. “He’s got everything to gain and nothing to lose. He swings for the fences with every punch. He’s a dangerous guy to fight.”

Brand has a knockout ratio of 73 percent. Ward’s, at 29-0 with 15 knockouts, is 52 percent. But Ward is so much better, that disparity won’t mean much when he squares off with Brand.

A victory for Ward will mean he’ll next challenge Sergey Kovalev for his light heavyweight title Nov. 19 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.


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Alexander Brand says he’ll have something for Andre Ward on Saturday

Alexander Brand works the mitts at Tuesday’s workout in Oakland/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation Sports, Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos


Alexander Brand of Colombia is just days away from the biggest opportunity of his seven-year pro career. That will be Saturday when he takes on undefeated former super middleweight champion Andre Ward at Oracle Arena in Ward’s native Oakland (on HBO). A Brand victory, though highly unlikely, would be an upset of huge proportions.

Brand knows that, so it was not surprising to hear about one of his comments during a workout Tuesday from King’s Gym in Oakland.

“I didn’t want to show too much at this media workout, but I’ve got something in store for the day of the fight,” said Brand, 39.

Let’s face it, this is nothing more than a tune-up for Ward, who has a Nov. 19 fight scheduled with light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, providing he beats Brand. To Brand, that works in his favor.

“Ward still has 12 rounds to fight before he can think about Kovalev,” he said.

Everything is against Brand (25-1, 19 KOs) for this one. Not only is he not nearly as talented as Ward, he has to try and hang with Ward (29-0, 15 KOs) in Ward’s neighborhood.

“It doesn’t really matter that the fight is in Ward’s hometown, it’s going to be a fight,” Brand said. “Wherever it is, whether it’s in his backyard or anywhere else, I’m coming to fight and that’s the most important thing.”



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Andre Ward claims he has only one opponent on mind – Alexander Brand

Andre Ward/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation Sports


When unheralded Abner Lopez gave top-ranked junior welterweight Antonio Orozco all kinds of grief this past Saturday at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio before Orozco emerged victorious, it made one wonder if perhaps Orozco was looking past Lopez to a world-title shot that figures to come sooner rather than later.

Well, we’ll be looking at a similar situation this Saturday when Andre Ward takes on Alexander Brand, a relative unknown out of Colombia at Oracle Arena in Ward’s native Oakland (on HBO).

Ward has a Nov. 19 fight scheduled with ferocious light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev of Russia at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. A loss by Ward would mess that up, as unlikely as that would be to happen. Still, it wasn’t surprising to hear Ward’s response recently when he was asked if he had watched Kovalev’s victory over Isaac Chilemba on July 11 in Kovalev’s native Russia.

Ward’s response was telling.

“No, I did not watch it,” Ward said. “He’s not my next opponent. It is, obviously, the end game and what we’re trying to get. But I didn’t watch it. I have to compartmentalize what I have to do right now. That’s just kind of how I operate and how I stay focused. I don’t want to juggle two opponents right now. I have to focus on one guy and that’s Alexander Brand on Aug. 6.”

Ward vows he won’t take a victory over Brand (25-1, 19 KOs) for granted.

“I will not take him lightly,” said Ward, a former super middleweight champion with a record of 29-0 and 15 knockouts.. “If I’m not successful Aug. 6, there is no fight down the road with me and Kovalev, and I’m very clear that it’s not just a fight for me.”

Ward said he holds himself and his team to very high standards, so just defeating Brand is not good enough.

“I have a certain amount of pressure on myself to go out there, perform and, hopefully, look good doing it,” Ward said. “So my team has looked at it (Kovalev-Chilemba), they are doing their due diligence. But, no, I personally have not looked at it.”



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David Benavidez says he won’t take a victory over Denis Douglin for granted

David Benavidez

David Benavidez/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions


One might think that David Benavidez (15-0, 14 KOs) is a heavy favorite to defeat Denis Douglin (20-4, 13 KOs) in the super middleweight main event Friday at 2300 Arena in Philadelphia (on ESPN), based on their respective records.  But Benavidez is only 19, Douglin is a southpaw and the New Jersey native is much closer to home than Benavidez, of Phoenix, will be when they square off.

Benavidez won’t be taking Douglin lightly, though, and that’s the right attitude to take into any fight.

“This is going to be a tough fight,” Benavidez said. “I know Douglin is hungry to give me my first loss. He’s coming off three wins in a row, so I’m taking this fight very seriously. Being that he’s a southpaw, I’ll have to do some things a little different.  We worked on all that stuff in camp, so I know I’m going to be ready for anything he brings to the ring.”
It’s true that Douglin has won three in a row, by knockout. But the combined records of the three opponents was 44-64-7.


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Kell Brook says he’ll be Gennady Golovkin’s size when they fight Sept. 10

FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2014, file photo, Kell Brook, right, hits Shawn Porter during their IBF welterweight title ...

Kell Brook lands a punch on Shawn Porter during their welterweight title fight in August 2014 at StubHub Center/AP file photo by Chris Carlson


Kell Brook holds one of the welterweight title belts, but he is a big welterweight and he believes there will be no weight advantage for Gennady Golovkin when the two square off Sept. 10 for Golovkin’s middleweight titles at O2 Arena in London (on HBO).

The interested parties gathered Monday at a news conference in London. Brook made sure everyone knew he won’t be the smaller man in the ring come fight time.

“This is the biggest fight in world boxing,” said Brook, of England. “I’m the best welterweight in the world and no-one wants me, he’s the best middleweight in the world and no one wants him. I’ll be his size on fight night and I’m bringing the speed to middleweight.”

According to one source who requested anonymity, Brook was walking around at 178 pounds at the July 14 news conference in New York City promoting this fight. And he was not fat. The welterweight limit is 147, middleweight is 160.

Golovkin spoke as if he knows he won’t have a cake walk.

“Kell Brook has my full respect and a great team behind him,” Golovkin said. “It’s not easy for us to get opponents. He’s ready for me and I’m ready for him. Kell Brook is the biggest test to me. He’s a great champion, he’s moving up in weight, but great fighters have done that and I know he’s a great boxer and he will test me the most.”



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Judges in Antonio Orozco-Abner Lopez fight really stunk up the joint in Indio

Antonio Orozco, right, was lucky to win by the wide margin he won by in Saturday’s fight with Abner Lopez/Photo courtesy of Golden Boy Promotions


It’s such a shame that we have to deal with bad scoring, even though it has always been part of the sweet science.

Take Saturday’s junior welterweight fight between top contender Antonio Orozco of San Diego and Abner Lopez of Tijuana at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio. After 10 rounds, Lopez had done well enough that it would not have been shocking if he had been announced as the winner. At the very least, the scores should have been close.

Yet, veteran judges Lou Moret and Pat Russell came up with the same ridiculous score of 99-91 in favor of Orozco, the house fighter for Golden Boy Promotions. Max DeLuca had it 97-93 for Orozco.

There were more than a few boos when the cards were read. I polled a few of my press-row peers and they all said they thought the bout was close. One veteran writer had it even. Heck, I spoke with someone in Orozco’s camp. I’ll leave his name out of it, but he told me, “It was close.”

So when even someone from Orozco’s camp concedes the bout was close, I’d say that makes it official – the cards just stunk.

You can’t help but feel badly for Lopez (23-6) . He came in with five losses and he was not supposed to be much of a problem for undefeated Orozco (25-0). If anything, this was thought by some to be your proverbial stay-busy fight for Orozco.

For the most part, it was Lopez stalking Orozco. Lopez fought with supreme confidence, and he gave Orozco way more grief than those lousy scorecards suggest.

Shame on the judges. They’ve been around too long to come up with scores like this in an obvious close fight.


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Robert ‘The Ghost’ Guerrero confident he can still hang with the top guys

Robert Guerrero

Robert Guerrero/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions


Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero has won world titles in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions, and interim titles at lightweight and welterweight. But he hasn’t even held an interim title for nearly four years, so it’s safe to say he’s looking to get back into the title picture.

Considering he distinguished himself well in his most recent bout – a unanimous-decision loss to Danny Garcia in a welterweight title fight in January – Guerrero has reason to believe he can still get back to the promised land, though it will be difficult to do in the tough welterweight division in which he toils.

Guerrero (33-4-1, 18 KOs) has no doubt he can get there.

“I want to get back in there with the top guys,” said Guerrero, who Aug. 27 will take on David Peralta (25-2-1, 14 KOs) of Argentina in the main event at Honda Center (on Spike). “All the fights are there. I have to get back in that position. I have to get them to stand toe-to-toe with me.”
That was no doubt a shot at Garcia, who moved quite a bit against Guerrero.
“I don’t need to prove anything to myself,” Guerrero said. “I know I can fight. I come in and work hard every day. I have to go and prove it to the fans. The fans are what makes us. I have to prove it to everybody watching that I’m there at the top level.
“We definitely want a rematch with Danny Garcia. If I don’t get that, it’s anyone at 147 pounds. The guys are all there and I’m ready to battle.”
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Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton make weight for Saturday’s showdown

Leo Santa Cruz, left, and Carl Frampton pose after weighing in Friday for their featherweight title fight Saturday in Brooklyn/Photo courtesy of Amanda Westcott, Showtime


Champion Leo Santa Cruz and challenger Carl Frampton on Friday both made weight for their featherweight title fight Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (on Showtime).

Santa Cruz, of Lincoln Heights, weighed 125 1/2 pounds. Frampton, of Northern Ireland, weighed 125 1/4. The featherweight limit is 126.

Santa Cruz, 27, is 32-0-1 with 18 knockouts. He’ll be looking to make the second successful defense of his belt. Frampton, 29, is 22-0 with 14 knockouts. The former super bantamweight champion is moving up in weight for this bout.


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