Sergey Kovalev lands a left jab to the eye of Andre Ward during their fight in November in Las Vegas/Photo by Associated Press
It seems Andre Ward is tired of hearing how he was decked by Sergey Kovalev in the second round of their light heavyweight title fight this past November, and how he was fortunate to get the narrow decision over Kovalev at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“They have to understand, there’s nothing scary about this man,” Ward said at Monday’s news conference in New York City promoting the June 17 rematch at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view). “You realize we just fought 12 rounds four months ago? Everyone wants to highlight the knockdown; that’s probably one of the most beautiful moments of my career.
“And did you guys see the other 10 rounds? Nobody’s talking about that, but that’s what makes us who we are.”
Ward, 33, is from Oakland. He’s 31-0 with 15 knockouts.
Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs), of Russia, intimated he’s concerned that Ward will put out of this second go-round.
“I want to apologize to my fans for my performance the last time, but we’re going to get this squared, either way,” said Kovalev, 34. “We’re going to see who is the best fighter. I’m very excited for June 17. The only thing I hope is that a week or two before the fight, Andre Ward does not get injured and he has enough (courage) to come out and fight me on June 17.”
Adrien Broner/Photo by Dylan Buell, Getty Images
Former four-division world champion Adrien Broner (32-2, 24 KOs) and Adrian Granados (18-4-2, 12 KOs) on Friday successfully made weight for their welterweight bout Saturday at Cintas Center in Broner’s native Cincinnati (on Showtime).
Both fighters weighed in at 146 1/2 pounds, a half-pound under the limit.
Granados hails from Cicero, Ill.
Also on the card, Lamont Peterson (34-3-1, 17 KOs) of Washington D.C. will challenge David Avanesyan (21-1-1, 11 KOs) of Russia for his welterweight title. Peterson tipped the scales at 146 1/2 pounds with Avanesyan coming in at 147.
Claressa Shields/Photo by Harry How, Getty Images
Claressa Shields, who won gold medals in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, will make history March 10 when she becomes the first female prize-fighter to headline a card that will be televised on a premium channel.
Shields will take on Szilvia Szabados of Hungary in the middleweight main event from MGM Grand in Detroit (on Showtime). Shields (1-0) is stoked.
“It is a dream come true to be the first woman to headline a boxing card on premium television,” said Shields, of Flint, Mich. “March 10 will be a historic night for boxing and all of the women who give so much to advance our sport.”
Szabados (15-8, 6 KOs) was equally thrilled.
“Fighters always say their next fight is the most important one of their career, but you get an opportunity like this and it really is,” she said. “This is an unbelievable dream. I am very happy to be receiving this opportunity.
“I know this fight is important for Claressa also, and I don’t really know what will happen in the ring. We both want to win. Claressa has more amateur experience, but I have more experience as a professional.”
Oscar De La Hoya/Associated Press file photo
Golden Boy Promotions on Thursday announced it has agreed to a multi-year deal with ESPN to televise cards on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. The first event of the series will take place March 23 at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio.
Eighteen cards will be televised during the first year of the deal in English and Spanish, with affiliates in Latin America, Canada, the Carribean, Austrailia and parts of Asia getting in on the fun.
Oscar De La Hoya, chairman of Golden Boy, is stoked about the accord.
“ESPN is a flagship network with a history of showcasing and bringing audiences into the world of boxing, making this deal a natural fit for Golden Boy Promotions,” De La Hoya said in a statement. “Having worked with ESPN in the past, we know first-hand that its multiple TV and digital platforms represent a must-watch for casual and die-hard sports fans.”
James DeGale/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions
The first month of 2017 is shaping up nicely. Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland on Jan. 28 will defend his featherweight title against Leo Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime) in a rematch of their fight this past July won by Frampton at Barclays Center.
But two weeks earlier – on Jan. 14 – James DeGale of London will kick things off by taking on Badou Jack (20-1-2, 12 KOs) of Sweden in a super middleweight title-unification bout at Barclays Center (on Showtime).
DeGale loves the idea of fighting a fellow champion.
“Unification fight like this are still rare, never mind the best fighting the best,” he said. “And me and Jack both wanted the fight. We both want to prove who is the best and everyone is in for a treat on Jan. 14.”
Bernard Hopkins hits the deck during his fight with Sergey Kovalev in 2014/Getty Images photo by Al Bello
Bernard Hopkins wants to go out with a bang, even if he is 51.
“On Dec. 17, I want to give a performance where you beg me to stay,” Hopkins said during a recent conference call promoting his fight Saturday against light heavyweight contender Joe Smith Jr. at the Fabulous Fourm (on HBO). “And it’s a challenge that Joe Smith will have to take on. For fighters to show their greatness, they need someone to bring it out.
“Timing is everything and I am doing it in my calculation. I proved a bunch of people wrong already. There is no stone that has not been unturned, meaning that when I look back, I would have done everything that I wanted to.”
Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs), one of the great middleweight champions of all time, is also a former light heavyweight champion. He hasn’t fought since losing a very wide decision to Sergey Kovalev in a light heavyweight title-unification bout in November 2014. Hopkins was 49 at the time.
That means Hopkins will have been out of the ring for two years and a month when he steps in against Smith (22-1, 18 KOs), a top 10 fighter who is just 27.
Mikey Garcia will fight for a title in a third weight class Jan. 28 in Las Vegas/Associated Press file photo
Mikey Garcia has big goals for 2017. He will start trying to accomplishing them Jan. 28 when he challenges Dejan Zlaticanin of Montenegro for his lightweight title at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime).
“I’m really happy to have been given this opportunity to claim a world title in a third division,” said Garcia, who has won titles at featherweight and super featherweight. “This is going to be an amazing fight. He’s a hungry world champion, he’s very dangerous. These are the kind of fights I want. This is what I need to prove myself.
“This is only the beginning. This is going to be a huge year for me. I want to win multiple titles and maybe conquer multiple divisions this year.”
Garcia, of Oxnard, did not fight for 2 1/2 years because of a contract dispute with his former promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc. After a settlement, Garcia got back into the ring this past July 30 and stopped Elio Rojas in the fifth round at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Garcia, 28, is 35-0 with 29 knockouts. Zlaticanin, 32, is 22-0 with 15 knockouts. They will tangle underneath the featherweight championship rematch between Leo Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights and Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland.
Abner Mares/Associated Press photo by Isaac Brekken
Abner Mares wants to again be a world champion in the worst way. Mares, who has won titles in three weight classes, parted ways with longtime trainer Clemente Medina and hired the more famous Robert Garcia to help fuel that endeavor.
That was 10 months ago. In the opinion of Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs), that makes this trainer change different than most. That was evident when he was asked Monday during a conference call to explain how he might have changed under Garcia.
“I know once you get a new coach they tend to get a fight right away, and they tend to fight the next six to eight weeks, and you don’t see much of a difference,” said Mares, who Dec. 10 will challenge Jesus Cuellar (28-1, 21 KOs)
of Argentina for his featherweight title at Galen Center (on Showtime). “Why? Because you only have that small period of time to train and get to know each other. And I just mentioned a whole year with Robert and not only a whole year with Robert, a whole year of getting ready for this fight against a southpaw.
“And you guys know what type of coach Robert is. Not only does he bring education to your boxing skills, but also that motivation. It’s always good to have that motivation, knowing that you have one of the best in your corner. So, you will see a different Abner and I think the best way to answer your question is you will just see a more mature fighter in me.”
Mares has not fought since losing a majority decision to Leo Santa Cruz in a fight for a vacant featherweight title on Aug. 29, 2015.
Vasyl Lomachenko, left, lands a punch to the head of Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez during the fourth round of their super featherweight title fight in June at Madison Square Garden. Lomachenko won via 5th-round TKO/Associated Press photo by Frank Franklin II
As good as Vasyl Lomachenko is, as much as his promoter Bob Arum touts him as the greatest he’s seen since a young Muhammad Ali, Lomachenko knows he is in for a real nasty time of it Saturday when he defends his super featherweight belt against hard-hitting Nicholas Walters. The two will square off at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas (on HBO).
“This is a very important bout for me because many boxing experts and many people in boxing rank Walters as the highest-rated fighter in our division,” Lomachenko said. “He is a very hard puncher and a very good boxer and for me it’s a very important thing to me to fight the best and it’s very important for me because everyone says he is a very good fighter.”
As for the Ali comparison, here’s what Arum told reporters during a conference call: “I would like to say this; that Vasyl Lomachenko is technically the best fighter that I have seen since the early Muhammad Ali. There is nobody that I have seen, and there have been a lot of great technical fighters that I have seen – Alexis Arguello was one, Floyd Mayweather certainly, Manny Pacquiao – but there has been nobody with the skills that Vasyl Lomachenko has.”
Lomachenko, of Ukraine, is 6-1 with four knockouts. The two-time Olympic gold-medal winner has also held a major world title in the featherweight division.
Walters, of Jamaica, is 26-0-1 with 21 knockouts.
Vasyl Lomachenko will defend his title Saturday against Nicholas Walters in Las Vegas/Photo by Stephen Dunn, Getty Images
Vasyl Lomachenko (6-1, 4 KOs) of Ukraine on Saturday night at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas will put his super featherweight world title on the line against Nicholas Walters (26-0-1, 21 KOs), a mean, hard-hitting hombre from Jamaica.
Not only does this fight have tremendous potential for great excitement, it could be absolutely vicious.
Promoter Bob Arum explained the reasoning during a conference call Monday.
“Well, they call Walters the ‘Axe Man’ for a reason,” Arum said. “I mean, he searches and destroys, you know, he’s a tremendous puncher. And he’s in with a technician who has enormous ability in boxing not only defensively, but offensively. So I mean, this is a
can’t miss fight and I want people to realize that not only do I believe that it will be a Fight of the Year candidate, I believe that if Vasyl Lomachenko is successful, he should be right up there in the consideration for Fighter of the Year.”