Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton exchange pleasantries at L.A. news conference promoting their rematch

Leo Santa Cruz

Leo Santa Cruz/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions


Trash-talking is part of the sweet science. Heck, it’s part of every sport. But it’s always nice when there is none because there’s nothing wrong with athletes showing some class.

Leo Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights and Carl Frampton of Belfast, Northern Ireland on Thursday played host to a Los Angeles news conference promoting their Jan. 28 rematch at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime). The two squared off on July 30 at Barclays Center in New York City, Frampton taking Santa Cruz’s featherweight world title via majority decision in a close, and terrific, fight.

“I think the rematch with Leo Santa Cruz is going to be an amazing fight,” Frampton said to reporters and fans outside the Los Angeles Central Public Library. “The first one is considered one of the fights of the year. I don’t think it’s going to be any different. I think we’re kicking off 2017 with a bang, and Leo is an amazing fighter.”

Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs) thanked Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs) for giving him the shot in July, and that he was only too happy to give him the rematch as quickly as possible.

“These are the type of fights I want to be involved in,” said Frampton, 29. “If you want people to remember you in 20 or 30 years time, when you thank boxing, you need to be thanking guys like Leo Santa Cruz. I respect him a hell of a lot, I respect him and his team.”

Santa Cruz, 28, was equally kind.

“Carl Frampton is a great fighter and you guys saw, he got the respect from you guys because he showed that he’s a great fighter, a great champion,” he said. “And I know it’s going to be a pretty even fight this time, too, a pretty close fight because we both are world champions and we both train really hard for our families, for you guys, for the fans – to give them great shows.”

Santa Cruz a couple of days earlier at a news conference in Belfast said that he’s looking forward to this training camp because for the first fight his father’s health was weighing heavily on him.

Promoter Richard Schaefer of Ringstar Spors announced at the news conference that Jose Santa Cruz’s cancer is in remission. A big round of applause followed.

Schaefer said more than half of the 13,000-plus tickets available for this were sold on the first day. They are priced $54, $104, $204, $304, $404 and $504.

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Jesus Cuellar confident ahead of his Dec. 10 defense against Abner Mares

Jesus Cuellar/Photo courtesy of BoxRec.com


There is a lot to be said for confidence. Featherweight champion Jesus Cuellar (28-1, 21 KOs) of Argentina appears to have that ahead of his Dec. 10 defense against Abner Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs) of Hawaiian Gardens at USC’s Galen Center (on Showtime). But he knows no matter how good he feels about himself, he has to perform when the bell rings.

“This is an important fight that I’ve wanted for a long time,” Cuellar said Tuesday at City of Angels Boxing Club in Los Angeles. “It’s an important fight for my career and to prove to everyone how good I am.
“Abner Mares is a high-level fighter. I have to beat him to reach the next level of this sport. That’s what I’m preparing to do. You’re going to see everything I’ve learned on Dec. 10. I love to train hard and I’ve improved greatly as a fighter. I’m going to put it all together in the ring.”
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Abner Mares believes champion Jesus Cuellar is ‘strong competition’

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Abner Mares/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

Abner Mares on Tuesday talked a lot about having trainer Robert Garcia on his team for the first time. The two will combine talents Dec. 10 when Mares challenges Jesus Cuellar of Argentina for his featherweight world title at USC’s Galen Center (on Showtime).

But when we asked Mares to size up Cuellar, the hard-hitting champion with a record of 28-1 and 21 knockouts, Mares said very little.

“I think he’s strong competition,” Mares, of Hawaiian Gardens, said at the City of Angels Boxing Club in Los Angeles. “That’s it.”

Cuellar is going to be the hardest puncher Mares has faced since he was knocked out in the first round by Jhonny Gonzalez in August 2013 at StubHub Center.

Mares, who turned 31 on Monday, is 29-2-1 with 15 knockouts. He has won world titles in three weight classes.

Cuellar, 29, will be looking to make his second successful defense.

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Vasyl Lomachenko makes his case for No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter

AP Photo

Vasyl Lomachenko celebrates after defending his super featherweight title with a 7th-round TKO of Nicholas Walters on Saturday in Las Vegas/Associated Press photo by John Locher


Making a fighter like Nicholas Walters quit is ultra-impressive. That’s what Vasyl Lomachenko did Saturday when Walters did not answer the bell for the eighth round of their super featherweight title fight at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

Did Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs) make his case for best pound-for-pound fighter in the world? Perhaps. The two-division champion wants that recognition.

“I had my plan,” said Lomachenko, of Ukraine. “I knew it would take four rounds and then I went to work on him. Walters said he would do this and that he would do that throughout training camp, and in the end, he just quit.  I would like to fight (fellow super featherweight champion) Francisco Vargas next.  My goal is to be the No. 1 pound for pound fighter.”

Prior to the fight, The Ring had Lomachenko No. 7 in its pound-for-pound rankings. With his tremendous performance Saturday, it figures he’ll move up. Heck, it would be difficult to say any other fighter should be ranked ahead of him.


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Richard Schaefer confirms his Ringstar Sports will co-promote Frampton-Santa Cruz rematch in Las Vegas

Carl Frampton celebrates his win after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in the 12 round WBA Super featherweight championship bout at Barclays Center on July 30, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough in New York City. (Photo by Anthony Geathers/Getty Images)

Carl Frampton celebrates his victory over Leo Santa Cruz on July 30 in New York City/Photo by Anthony Geathers, Getty Images


Promoter Richard Schaefer on Wednesday confirmed that his new company – Ringstar Sports – will co-promote the Jan. 28 rematch between featherweight champion Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland and Leo Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. RingTV.com reported this on Friday.

Schaefer is the former CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. He recently founded Ringstar, and his first order of business will be to co-promote the Dec. 10 fight between another featherweight champion – Jesus Cuellar of Argentina – and Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens at USC’s Galen Center (on Showtime).

Frampton took Santa Cruz’s belt via majority decision in July.



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Maurice ‘Mighty Mo’ Hooker looking to make like Aaron ‘The Hawk’ Pryor

Maurice Hooker/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation Sports


Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker is another in a long line of fighters hopeful of becoming recognizable figures in the boxing world. Hooker will have a tremendous chance to do that Saturday when he takes on former interim lightweight champion Darleys Perez in the junior welterweight semi-main event Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

They will tangle underneath the light heavyweight title fight between champion Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward (on HBO pay-per-view).

Hooker, of Dallas, is 21-0-2 with 16 knockouts. He has a solid knockout ratio of 70 percent. It sounds like his idol is Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor (39-1, 35 KOs), the late Hall of Fame junior welterweight champion whose knockout ratio was an amazing 88 percent.

“Aaron Pryor is one of the best,” Hooker said. “He brought a lot of knockouts. He was a great fighter whom a lot of people dodged. Like him, I’m coming into this fight with people dodging me. They are afraid because they don’t know what I can do. This fight means a lot … an opportunity to show them who I am. I am going to bring the knockout just like ‘The Hawk’ would.”

Hooker actually put his intentions regarding Perez into more, well, colorful words.

“My prediction for Saturday is a knockout,” he said. “I love knockouts. I am always going for the knockout. With every punch that I throw, even the jab, I am going to try to take Darleys Perez’s head off.”

Hooker, 27, is ranked as high as No. 9 in the world by one organization.

Perez, 33, is from Colombia. He is 33-2-1 with 21 knockouts.





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Claressa Shields ultra-confident about her boxing skills ahead of pro debut

Cleraa Shields (r.) beat Dutch fighter Nouchka Fontijn by unanimous decision.

Claressa Shields, right, celebrates her gold-medal victory over Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands in Rio De Janeiro/Photo by  Alex Livesey, Getty Images


Claressa Shields does not lack confidence, nor should she. Shields won back-to-back gold medals for Team USA in the 2012 London Games and 2016 Rio Games. Now she’s on the brink of turning pro.

Shields on Saturday will take on Franchon Crews in a super middleweight bout underneath the light heavyweight title fight between champion Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view).

Shields worked out for reporters Monday in Las Vegas. She touched on many subjects, including her decision to take her talents to the professional ranks rather than go for a third gold medal.

“When deciding to go pro, I thought about my legacy,” said Shields, 21. “I didn’t want to disappear for four years and win another gold medal, but have people not know my name or what I look like or how I box.”

Shields also discussed her talents, and her words demonstrated how self-assured she is about them.

“Expect to see a really good fight, a very skilled fight from me, this Saturday,” said Shields, of Flint, Mich. “The world is going to see a level of boxing that no woman boxer has ever shown before. I’m a smart fighter. I’m an entertaining fighter. I throw everything well and have great combinations.”

Crews, of Baltimore, will be making her debut as well.

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Danny Garcia, Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman ready to unify welterweight division

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Danny Garcia/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions


Now that Danny Garcia has dispatched Samuel Vargas – not that there was any real chance he wouldn’t – his welterweight title-unification bout with Keith “One Time” Thurman can take place March 4 as planned. (A site is still to be determined).

The trash-talk has already started. Thurman was part of the Spike broadcast team for Garcia’s seventh-round stoppage of Vargas this past Saturday at Liacouras Center in Garcia’s native Philadelphia. Afterward, the two spoke inside the ring and had a few choice words for one another.

“I just had to tell Keith that he’s next,” Garcia said. “I’m going to beat him down. There’s not much more to say. Keith is going to get what he asked for and now he’s going to face a big dog.”

Said Thurman: “You have two big punchers meeting on March 4. I don’t see how the fight can go 12 rounds. I see myself as the best competition that Danny has ever faced.”

Garcia, 28, is 33-0 with 19 knockouts. Thurman, 27, is from Clearwater, Fla. He is 27-0 with 22 knockouts.

This should be a terrific fight.



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Danny Garcia says he’ll show Keith Thurman what he has in store for him


Danny Garcia, left, throws a punch at Robert Guerrero during their WBC championship welterweight bout, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Danny Garcia, left, lands a short left hook to the jaw of Robert Guerrero in January at Staples Center. Garcia won a vacant welterweight title with a unanimous decision/AP photo by Mark J. Terrill


Welterweight world champion Danny Garcia on Saturday will take on Samuel Vargas (25-2-1, 13 KOs) of Colombia in a non-title fight at Liacouras Center in Garcia’s native Philadelphia (on Spike).

Assuming Garcia wins – and he will – he will next take on Keith “One Time” Thurman in a highly anticipated title-unification bout March 4 at a site still to be determined.

The best thing about Saturday’s bout is that Thurman will be part of the broadcast team. Garcia was asked about that Wednesday.

“He (Thurman) will just get an up close and personal look at what will happen to him in March,” Garcia said. “I hope he’s paying attention.”

Never one to be left out of trash talk, Angel Garcia – Danny’s father and trainer – echoed that sentiment.

“Thurman may be on the outside looking in on Saturday, but he’s going to see what he has in store for him in March,” he said.

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Jessie Vargas believes a victory over Manny Pacquiao will make him a star

Welterweight champion Jessie Vargas works out with trainer Dewey Cooper for his fight Saturday against Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas. (Photo by Gene Blevins)

Jessie Vargas works with trainer Dewey Cooper/Photo by Gene Blevins


Jessie Vargas is a welterweight world champion, but he’s not exactly a household name even though he’s from Las Vegas, the fight capital of the world. If he beats Manny Pacquiao on Saturday at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, that will change.

“It would definitely put me on the worldwide stage, make me that boxing star that I have been looking forward to being,” Vargas said. “I have been waiting for this for a long time and I’m glad it’s here and I am going to take advantage of it.

“The only fighters to beat Manny Pacquiao have become legends themselves. So I plan to become one of the few to beat Manny Pacquiao and also become one of the legends.”

Bob Arum, whose Top Rank Inc. is producing the ($59.95) pay-per-view feed for the card, promotes both fighters. He agrees Vargas could alter how he is viewed by the boxing world.

“He becomes not just a champion, but a superstar,” Arum said. “I will deny to him that I said that because I will have to negotiate his next fight (laughing). He would be a superstar, there is no question about that, if he were to beat Manny Pacquiao. He has a hell of a shot to do that.”

Pacqujiao, 37, is 58-6-2 with 38 knockouts. Vargas, 27, is 27-1 with 10 knockouts.

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