Longtime promoter Bob Arum shoots down foolish notion that boxing is dead

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Bob Arum/Getty Images file photo

 

Longtime promoter Bob Arum on Tuesday played host to a news conference in Los Angeles to formally announce the undercard for the Nov. 5 welterweight title fight between champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) and Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas (on Top Rank pay-per-view, $59.95).

Not one to miss an opportunity, Arum closed the proceedings by talking about how alive and well boxing is – contrary to what some think. It wasn’t long ago that an L.A.-area columnist (not from this newspaper) who doesn’t even cover boxing said boxing was dead.

“Boxing not only isn’t dead, but it’s on the cusp of a great resurgence,” Arum said on the dais at the Conga Room. “You have all of these great, young fighters from the United States, from Mexico and from all around the world who are coming to the world stage.”

While pondering that, just think of all the terrific fighters not from the U.S. or Mexico making a big splash here these days. We’re talking the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Vasyl Lomachenko, Sergey Kovalev, Kell Brook and Carl Frampton to name just five.

“We are on the cusp of really a time in boxing where people all around the world will join together to watch our great athletes perform,” Arum said.

The main undercard fight for Pacqjuiao-Vargas will have Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24 KOs) of San Leandro via the Philippines defending his super bantamweight belt against Jessie Magdaleno (23-0, 17 KOs) of Las Vegas.

Also, newly crowned featherweight champion Oscar Valdez (20-0, 18 KOs) of Mexico will defend his title against Hiroshige Osawa (30-3-4, 19 KOs) of Japan.

Finally, Zou Shiming (8-1, 2 KOs) of China and Prasitsak Papoem (39-1-2, 24 KOs) of Thailand will duke it out for a vacant flyweight world title.

 

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Andre Ward: Once the bell rings, it’s all about executing and getting it done

Andre Ward/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation

 

Andre Ward doesn’t see any reason for trash-talk. He explained why Tuesday when he and Sergey Kovalev played host to a New York City news conference promoting their Nov. 19 light heavyweight title fight at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view).

“… I’ve been in this position before and so has my opponent,” Ward said. “It doesn’t matter what the other side says, how they feel, what they say. He’s got to get it done and I’ve got to get it done. When those bright lights come on, it’s all about who executes and who gets it done. I don’t have to throw chairs. I don’t have to cuss. I don’t have to act crazy.”

Ward, 32, of Oakland, is 30-0 with 15 knockouts. He is a former super middleweight champion.

Kovalev, 33, is the champion from Russia. At 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts, he has become one of the meaner hombres in the game. He knows he’s got to be as ferocious as ever to get past the more crafty Ward.

“It’s a big moment in my career,” Kovalev said.

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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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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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SPOILER ALERT: Check out results of Kovalev-Chilemba title fight in Russia

Sergey Kovalev/Photo courtesy of Main Events Inc.

 

 

Sergey Kovalev on Monday retained his three light heavyweight belts when he pounded out a 12-round, unanimous decision over Isaac Chilemba in Kovalev’s native Russia.

Kovalev won by scores of 116-111, 117-110 and 118-109.

Kovalev decked Chilemba (24-4-2), of South Africa via Malawi,  in the seventh round. But Chilemba was able to take Kovalev the distance for just the fourth time in Kovalev’s career.

Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) is slated to next defend against former super middleweight champion Andre Ward on Nov. 19 at T-Mobile Arena. Ward must first get past Alexander Brand on Aug. 6 at Oracle Arena in Ward’s native Oakland.

Kovalev-Chilemba will be televised by HBO later Monday night.

 

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Sergey Kovalev, Isaac Chilemba saying good things about obvious mismatch

Sergey Kovalev/Photo courtesy of Main Events Inc.

 

Fighters know they have to help promote their fights, so you’ll rarely hear any of them say they are about to take on an overmatched fighter because they know the viewership could suffer.

It therefore wasn’t surprising to hear what Sergey Kovalev said at Friday’s final news conference for his light heavyweight title defense against Isaac Chilemba on Monday in Kovalev’s native Russia (on HBO).

“The hardest time of my training camp is past now and I am going to give you good show,” Kovalev said. “My opponent, Chilemba, is very motivated and that is why he is so dangerous.”

Well, Kovalev is 29-0-1 with 26 knockouts and is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. That’s dangerous. Chilemba is 24-3-2 with just 10 knockouts and he’s coming off a majority-decision loss to contender Eleider Alvarez in November.

Anyway, Chilemba, of South Africa via Malawi, is also talking a good game.

“… This is my time, this is my destiny,” he said. “I believe I was destined to be WBO, WBA and IBF World Champion”

Those are the three belts Kovalev holds and will continue to hold after he knocks out Chilemba. Kovalev is then slated to take on Andre Ward on Nov. 19 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Ward will take on Alexander Brand of Colombia in is own tune-up fight Aug. 6 at Oracle Arena in Ward’s native Oakland (on HBO).

 

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VIDEO: Check out mean work by light heavyweight champ Sergey Kovalev

 (Associated Press)

Sergey Kovalev will next defend against Isaac Chilemba on July 11 in Russia/Associated Press file photo

 

Light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev of Russia has become one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world and, along with middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, one of the scariest.

Kovalev on July 11 in Russia will defend his three titles when he takes on Isaac Chilemba of South Africa (on HBO). Kovalev, who is tentatively slated to then defend against former super middleweight champion Andre Ward on Nov. 19 in Las Vegas, is 29-0-1 with 26 knockouts.

Check out some of his work on this video courtesy of HBO.

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Andre Ward to take on Alexander Brand as fight with Sergey Kovalev looms

Andre Ward stares at Sakio Bika after decking Bika in their November 2010 fight at Oracle Arena in Oakland/Associated Press photo by Jeff Chiu

 

Former super middleweight champion Andre Ward appears headed for a showdown with light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, as the two are slated to tangle Nov. 19 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. However, both fighters first must get past other opponents and Ward’s next one was announced Tuesday.

Ward will take on Alexander Brand (25-1, 19 KOs) of Colombia in the main event Aug. 6 at Oracle Arena in Ward’s native Oakland (on HBO).

Ward, 32, is in can’t-wait mode.

“We can get it on right now,” he said. “Aug. 6, I will be ready.”

Ward (29-0, 15 KOs) currently fights under the Roc Nation Sports banner. Its COO – David Itskowitch – knows how important it is for Ward to stay focused on the task at hand so as not to upset the apple cart.

“Andre Ward’s quest to become the best light heavyweight on the planet and boxing’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter continues on Aug. 6,” Itskowitch said. “Alexander Brand has been waiting for this fight since last year and we have no doubt he is going to enter the ring hungry for a huge victory. There’s a lot on the line in this fight for Andre, who knows he can’t look past Brand toward a much-discussed clash with unified light heavyweight world champion Sergey Kovalev.”

Ward and Brand were supposed to fight in November, but Ward had to pull out with a leg injury.

Kovalev will defend his three titles against Isaac Chilemba of South Africa on July 11 in Kovalev’s native Russia (on HBO).

 

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Sergey Kovalev was stoked about training in the mountains of Armenia

Sergey Kovalev in the mountains of Armenia/Photo contributed by Sergey Kovalev

 

Light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev has not fought in his native Russia since December 2011, a year and eight months before he won the first of his three belts.

Kovalev will bring those titles back home when he defends them against Isaac Chilemba on July 11 in Ekaterinburg, Russia (on HBO).

Kovalev is training outside of the U.S. for the first time since beating Nathan Cleverly in August 2013 to win his first belt. Since he likes training at altitude, Kovalev recently completed the first phase of his camp at the mountains of Armenia.

“I try to look for mountainous regions which provide the right elevation and terrain for my conditioning training (biking, running),” Kovalev said. “Armenia is well-known for their mountains and terrain, plus it was also a good opportunity to get away from the attention, to focus solely on training.”

Kovalev liked that the Russian national team was training nearby.

“The Russian Boxing Olympic team had their training camp in the same area (Tsaghkadzor, Armenia) as well, so I had good company around me, the right training mentality and focus level,” he said. “Help from the local trainers and Russian national team boxers was quite handy with finding the new trails for my runs and biking.”

Kovalev, 33, is 29-0-1 with 26 knockouts. Chilemba, 29, is from South Africa. He is 24-3-2 with 10 knockouts and has very little chance of defeating Kovalev, who has a knockout ratio of 87 percent.

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Sergey Kovalev knocks out Nadjib Mohammedi in the third round

Sergey Kovalev, left, and Nadjim Mohammedi do the obligatory staredown following Friday’s weigh-in/Photo courtesy of David Spagnolo, Main Events

 

Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev once again lived up to his moniker when he retained his three light heavyweight titles by knocking out Nadjib Mohammedi in the third round Saturday at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Kovalev decked Mohammedi (37-4), of France, in the second and third rounds. Mohammedi rose after the final knockdown, but referee Kenny Bayless waved off the bout at 2:38.

Kovalev, of Russia, is now 28-0-1 with 25 knockouts. He has made six title defenses.

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