Teofimo Lopez to Fight George Kambosos in October

Teofimo Lopez is officially ready to rumble…

The 24-year-old Honduran American boxer and George Kambosos have signed contracts for an undisputed lightweight title fight that will take place on October 4 at New York’s Hulu Theater at MSG, Triller COO Thorsten Meier tells ESPN.

Teofimo Lopez

The fight was set for October 5, but Triller moved the fight to avoid competing with a potential wild-card playoff game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in New York. If the MLB season ended today, that game would take place on October 5.

“We want to make sure the sporting fans can see both amazing events,” Meier said.

Lopez-Kambosos will be the rare Monday evening boxing match in a sport that usually — with rare exception — holds its notable events on Saturday. It’s yet another date change for the seemingly snakebitten event.

Triller won the rights to the fight at a February purse bid with $6.018 million. The fight was planned for June 5 before it was officially set for June 19 in Miami. In the days leading up to the bout, Lopez tested positive for COVID-19.

Triller announced a rescheduled date of August 14 before it looked to stage the fight on October 17 in Sydney, Australia. Lopez balked at the government-mandated 14-day quarantine, leading to a legal battle. The IBF ultimately ruled the fight couldn’t take place in a location that requires quarantine.

The bout between Lopez, a Brooklyn native, and Kambosos, a 28-year-old Australian, was then planned for October 5.

Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) is ESPN‘s No. 1 lightweight and No. 5 pound-for-pound fighter. He won the undisputed championship in October with a unanimous-decision victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko.

Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs), ESPN’s No. 9 lightweight, earned the title shot with a split-decision win over Lee Selby later that month.

Amanda Nunes to Defend Title Against Julianna Pena in December

Amanda Nunes is set to defend her title in December…

The 33-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist has been scheduled for her bantamweight title defense against Julianna Pena for UFC 269 on December 11, according to the UFC.

Amanda Nunes

Nunes (21-4) was supposed to face Pena (10-4) at UFC 265 earlier this month in Houston, but was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19. The UFC has not announced an official venue for the UFC 265 pay-per-view event, but it is likely to take place in Las Vegas.

Originally from Brazil, now fighting out of South Florida, Nunes is the UFC‘s 135- and 145-pound champion. ESPN ranks her the No. 1 pound-for-pound female fighter in the world.

She has not fought since she defended her featherweight title against Megan Anderson in March. She is on a 12-fight win streak.

Pena, of Spokane, Washington, is a former winner of The Ultimate Fighter reality series and holds a 6-2 overall record in the UFC. She earned a title shot by defeating Sara McMann via submission in January.

Edgar Berlanga Agrees to Two-Fight Plan with Top Rank Boxing

Edgar Berlanga is ready to rumble… twice.

The 24-year-old Puerto Rican boxer has agreed to terms on a two-fight plan with Top Rank.

Edgar Berlanga

The first bout comes October 9 in Las Vegas against Marcelo Esteban Coceres, Berlanga said, in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing show on an ESPN platform that will lead into the Tyson FuryDeontay Wilder III fight on pay-per-view.

Berlanga’s second fight is December 11, the co-feature to Vasiliy Lomachenko‘s return in New York at Madison Square Garden. An opponent has yet to be finalized for that bout. The power-punching super middleweight Berlanga is in the midst of a multiyear deal with Top Rank. Financial terms were finalized for both of his upcoming fights.

“I’m knocking these guys in October and December; we’re not going to the scorecards,” said Berlanga (17-0, 16 KOs). “I want to let the world know after these two fights that I’m the guy they need to worry about.”

Berlanga was extended the distance for the first time in his last bout, an April win over Demond Nicholson. It was the first time Berlanga heard the bell to signal the start of Round 2 in his pro career. He scored first-round knockouts in each of his first 16 fights.

Berlanga dropped Nicholson three times but settled for the unanimous-decision victory. The Brooklynite will now face another durable opponent in Coceres (30-2-1, 16 KOs). The 30-year-old Argentine is best known for an 11th-round KO loss to Billy Joe Saunders in a 2019 title fight. That was his only fight outside of Argentina.

In January, Coceres lost again, this time a split-decision defeat to Sebastian Horacio Papeschi in Argentina. He rebounded with a second-round stoppage win in June over Nelson Nicolas Rosalez.

The two-fight plan promises to give Berlanga his greatest exposure yet as he inches closer to title contention. Despite 17 pro fights, he remains inexperienced with just 24 rounds in the professional ranks.

If all goes according to plan, Berlanga will return in March to Puerto Rico (the country his family hails from) before headlining at Madison Square Garden in June on Puerto Rican Parade Day weekend.

Yordenis Ugas Notches Upset Win Over Manny Pacquiao to Retain WBA “Super” Welterweight Title

Yordenis Ugas has taken down a legend…

The 35-year-old Cuban professional boxer scored a unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena to retain his WBA “super” welterweight title, pulling off an upset victory that establishes Ugas as a major player in boxing’s best division.

Yordenis Ugas,

Ugas win came on a night that was supposed to be a celebration for Pacquiao, a culmination of all the great he has accomplished — a champion in eight divisions in four decades, a superstar the world over.

Instead, Ugas, who accepted the assignment on 11 days’ notice, walked away with a unanimous decision.

Yordenis Ugas,

All three judges scored the fight for Ugas: 116-112, 115-113 and 116-112. ESPN had it 116-112 for Ugas, who won as a +310 underdog, according to Caesars Sportsbook.

“I’m very excited, but most of all, I want to thank Manny Pacquiao for giving me this moment in this ring today,” said Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs). “Now the plan is to unify the title at welterweight. … Errol Spence is the next one on the list. … I am praying that he recuperates.”

Yordenis Ugas,

Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KOs) was slated to meet Spence, ESPN’s No. 4 pound-for-pound boxer, in a super fight. Those plans were canceled when it was discovered Spence suffered a detached retina in his left eye just 12 days before the fight.

Ugas, a bronze medalist for Cuba in the 2008 Beijing Games and ESPN’s No. 6 welterweight, was set to defend his title against Fabian Maidana in the co-feature and didn’t hesitate to step in to fight Pacquiao when the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself.

“We only had two weeks of training,” Ugas said, “but I listened to my corner, and it all worked out.”

Ugas’ strategy was simple yet brilliant: a double jab to the head followed by a right hand to the body. A high guard that picked off Pacquiao’s incoming shots before a crisp right looped around Pacquiao’s gloves and connected upstairs. Counterpunches that hit the target over and over, finally cutting Pacquiao over the left eye in Round 12.

Pacquiao also was cut under his right eye during the fight. His team told ESPN afterward that he needed five stitches to close one of the cuts and had three stitches glued onto the other. They didn’t specify which cut needed which fix.

On this night, under the brightest of lights, Ugas displayed the composure of a heart surgeon, patiently picking his spots with precise punches that constantly met their mark. He also imposed his superior size and strength on Pacquiao, who perhaps was fighting in his final bout.

This 42-year-old, flat-footed version of Pacquiao was not the same fighter who vaulted to the sport with dizzying speed and combinations thrown from seemingly every angle. Now, well past his best and with a potential presidential race to prepare for, this could be it for Pacquiao.

When Pacquiao was asked if this was his final fight, he said, “I don’t know. I need to relax and make a decision.”

“That’s boxing,” he said. “I had a hard time in the ring making adjustments. … My legs were tight. I’m sorry I lost tonight, but I did my best.”

Joshua Franco Defeats Andrew Moloney to Retain Secondary WBA Title

Joshua Franco is keeping his title…

The 25-year-old Latino boxer has settled the score with Andrew Moloney, capping a rivalry that climaxed with a controversial finish in November and ended at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Saturday with a decisive victory in the ESPN main event.

Joshua Franco

Franco, nicknamed “El Profesor,” retained his secondary WBA title at 115 pounds with a unanimous decision over Moloney. All three judges scored the fight 116-112.

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez is the recognized champion at junior bantamweight.

Earlier this week, WBA president Gilberto Mendoza announced his intentions to clean up the plentiful secondary titles that have muddied the championship picture. But with the win, Franco figures to earn a shot at one of the “big four” at 115 pounds in the near future, a stacked division headlined by Juan Francisco Estrada, Gonzalez, Kazuto Ioka and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

“I see bigger fights. I see Chocolatito, Gallo Estrada, Ioka,” said Franco, ESPN’s No. 6 boxer at 115 pounds. “For sure, this win puts me top five, on the same list as the other champions. I needed this fight to prove myself.”

Franco (18-1-2, 8 KOs) consistently beat Moloney to the punch and landed the cleaner, harder shots. The bout featured plenty of inside fighting, but it was always Franco who was able to push Moloney back in those exchanges.

Despite being just 25 years old, Franco has now been a part of two boxing trilogies. He fought Oscar Negrete three consecutive times in 2018 and 2019, with a win sandwiched between two draws. Saturday’s victory over Moloney came in a third meeting.

Franco scored a unanimous decision win over Moloney (ESPN’s No. 7 115-pounder) in June 2020, when an 11th-round knockdown was the difference-maker.

In the November rematch, Moloney closed Franco’s right eye before the ringside doctor stopped the fight in Round 2.

Believing he had just exacted revenge, Moloney (21-2, 14 KOs) jumped onto the turnbuckle to celebrate. Instead, he was met by the feeling he was robbed of his biggest victory to date. Referee Russell Mora curiously ruled that the swelling was the result of an accidental clash of heads, and the fight was deemed a no-contest even after instant replay was consulted for more than 25 minutes. In reality, it was Moloney’s punches — 51 connected in just two rounds. (Franco landed 18.)

“That eye was closed by 50 jabs,” Moloney said in November. “That’s why his eye is shut — not the head-butt. There’s no head-butt. I can’t believe they took this away from me. I’ve trained my ass off for the last five months, been away from my family, and they just take it away from me. I can’t believe they didn’t give it to me. That’s why they have instant replay working right now.”

This time, instant replay did its job. Referee Jack Reiss called a knockdown in Saturday’s Round 7 after Franco fell to the canvas, but after the sequence was reviewed, the ruling was reversed.

“The call wasn’t right; I knew that I slipped,” Franco said. “When he told me they’d go to replay, I said, ‘OK, they’ll get it right.'”

The first third of Saturday’s fight was difficult to score, with tons of inside fighting. But like in the first meeting, Franco took over as the fight pushed on. His jab was the key this time around, setting up 127 power punches landed to Moloney’s 73.

“I had to switch it up on him,” said Franco, who is promoted by Oscar De La Hoya. “He thought I was going to put pressure on him the whole time. That wasn’t working, so I had to switch it up and go to my boxing skills.

“I had fun with my rhythm, with my jab, my feet. I’m comfortable in there, and that’s what I did.”

Canelo Alvarez Nearing Deal to Fight Caleb Plant to Crown Undisputed Super Middleweight Champion

Canelo Alvarez is closing in on the biggest fight of his career…

The 31-year-old Mexican boxer is nearing a deal with Caleb Plant for a November fight that would crown an undisputed super middleweight champion, according to ESPN.

Canelo Alvarez

A fight between Alvarez and Plant was agreed to last month for September 18, sources said, and officials were simply awaiting signatures when the deal fell apart at the 11th hour.

After talks collapsed, Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) turned his attention to a 175-pound title fight with Dmitry Bivol. When that matchup couldn’t be finalized in time to stage the fight on Mexican Independence Day Weekend (Sept. 18), Canelo decided to delay his return until November.

Now boxing’s top star is deep in talks with PBC for a one-fight deal that would feature him on Fox PPV, sources said.

The prospect of a fight between Alvarez, ESPN‘s No. 1 pound-for-pound-boxer, and Plant, an undefeated 168-pound titleholder, was dead just two weeks ago. With Alvarez and PBC’s Al Haymon locked in a stalemate, Alvarez moved on to talks with Bivol. When the Mexican star decided to forgo Sept. 18 and instead fight in November, the possibility of Plant returned to the table.

It’s the fight Canelo wanted all along. After Alvarez stopped Billy Joe Saunders in Round 9 of their May fight, picking up his third 168-pound belt, he issued a message to Plant: “I’m coming, my friend.”

Becoming undisputed champion has long been Canelo’s goal, a feat he hasn’t accomplished despite a Hall of Fame résumé that includes titles in four weight classes. Alvarez was set to earn upward of $40 million guaranteed — a career best — in the proposed deal for Sept. 18.

Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) was slated to make $10 million-plus, also a career high. The original pact disintegrated, Plant told ESPN last month, over last-minute “ridiculous requests” from Team Alvarez.

“One that is absurd: If I get injured or sick, then he gets a late replacement for the same amount of guaranteed money, but if he gets sick or injured, then we gotta wait for him,” Plant, ESPN’s No. 3 super middleweight, said after the deal fell apart. “… His bark is bigger than his bite.

“We’ve been waiting for him to get done with his wedding, shooting his TV show, his golf tournament and now have tried to give him everything he wants and more to make this fight,” the Nashville native added. “I’m more than willing, able and ready to fight Canelo Alvarez on any date.”

Those issues could be ironed out now, it appears. This is the third consecutive year Alvarez won’t fight on the coveted September date, a holiday he starred on against bitter rival Gennadiy Golovkin in 2017 and ’18. Another drawn-out negotiation in 2019 forced Alvarez to instead fight in November, a KO victory over Sergey Kovalev.

If he can strike a deal with PBC, it will mark Alvarez’s return to pay-per-view, a platform he has headlined nine times since his fight with Shane Mosley in 2012. Those bouts included a megafight with Floyd Mayweather in 2013 and a pair of matchups with GGG.

Alvarez signed a landmark 11-fight, $365 million deal with DAZN after the GGG rematch, but following four fights, he sued his then-promoter, Golden Boy, along with the streaming platform. After the lawsuit was settled, Alvarez remained with DAZN for a December 2020 win over Callum Smith, then linked up with Matchroom‘s Eddie Hearn on a two-fight deal. The contract for that partnership expired after the Saunders win, opening the door for Alvarez to seek a one-fight deal with Haymon’s team and a chance at undisputed status.

Canelo and Plant were training to fight each other when talks came to an abrupt halt — Alvarez at his San Diego gym and Plant in Las Vegas. This time, the hard work in the gym might lead to what they both want: a showdown for super middleweight supremacy.

Tito Ortiz to Fight Anderson Silva in Cruiserweight Boxing Match Next Month

Tito Ortiz is preparing to fight a fellow MMA legend… But it won’t be in a cage.

The 46-year-old half-Mexican American mixed martial artist will fight Anderson Silva in an eight-round cruiserweight boxing match on September 11.

Tito Ortiz

Ortiz and Silva will participate in the co-feature before Oscar De La Hoya faces Vitor Belfort in the pay-per-view main event, Triller co-founder Ryan Kavanaugh tells ESPN.

The Triller PPV will take place at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will feature two other boxing matches: former heavyweight champion David Haye vs. Joe Fournier and Andy Vences vs. Jono Carroll in a battle of 130-pound fringe contenders.

“I am very excited to have the opportunity, along with my team, to get in the ring against Tito Ortiz on September 11 with Triller Fight Club, who are really shaking things up in the combat sports world,” Silva said.

The Silva-Ortiz and Haye-Fournier fights will be sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission, meaning they will be real bouts, not exhibitions. Silva and Ortiz will fight eight two-minute rounds, and Haye and Fournier will fight eight three-minute rounds.

“Big” John McCarthy, a former longtime UFC referee, will officiate Silva-Ortiz.

Silva scored an upset over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in June, just his third pro boxing match, then entered negotiations for a fight with YouTube personality Logan Paul.

Silva is a former UFC middleweight champion and holds the record for longest title reign in promotion history at 2,457 days. He’s one of the most recognizable draws in MMA history, with 18 headline appearances on UFC PPV. He suffered a fourth-round TKO defeat to Uriah Hall in October — his seventh loss in his past nine appearances in the Octagon — and was released by the UFC one month later.

Ortiz was also one of the UFC’s most bankable stars. He’ll make his pro boxing debut at 46, nearly 10 years after his final UFC fight.

“I am excited to be taking on a new challenge and compete against another great fighter in Anderson Silva,” said Ortiz, a long-reigning UFC light heavyweight champion who made his debut at UFC 13 in 1997. “As a patriot, fighting on Sept. 11 means a lot to me.”

Carmelo Anthony Agrees to One-Year Deal with Los Angeles Lakers

Carmelo Anthony is ready to play ball in LA…

The 37-year-old Puerto Rican professional basketball player, a recent free-agent forward, has agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Lakers, Anthony’s manager, Bay Frazier, tells ESPN.

Carmelo Anthony

The deal is for one season, according to Frazier. Anthony’s agent, Aaron Mintz of CAA Sports, completed the agreement with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka on Tuesday.

Anthony, who moved up to No. 10 on the NBA‘s career scoring list last season, rehabbed his career in two seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers after being out of the league for a year following an ill-fated stint with the Houston Rockets.

The 18-year veteran flourished in a bench role with the Blazers last season, averaging 13.4 points in 24.5 minutes per game while shooting a career-best 40.9% from 3.

Anthony entered into the league with LeBron James in the famed 2003 draft class, and the two have maintained a close friendship.

Anthony has earned more than $260 million in salary in his career and is a 10-time All-Star, six-time All-NBA selection and three-time Olympic gold medalist.

Success has eluded him on the postseason stage, though. In 13 career playoff appearances, Anthony’s teams have made the conference finals just once, and he has yet to play in the NBA Finals.

After being traded by the New York Knicks to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017, Anthony had an up-and-down season with the Thunder as the team failed to meet expectations. He was traded to the Atlanta Hawks the next offseason, then immediately waived.

He signed with the Rockets, agreeing to play a long-anticipated bench role for the contenders led by James Harden and Chris Paul, but was waived after just 10 games. Anthony wasn’t signed by another team that season, casting doubt on the future of his NBA career.

A surefire future Hall of Famer, Anthony currently sits at 27,370 points, just 39 points behind Moses Malone for ninth.

Lionel Messi Reportedly Agrees to New Five-Year-Deal with FC Barcelona

Not so fast! Lionel Messi may not be going anywhere…

The 34-year-old Argentine superstar footballer and FC Barcelona have reportedly reached an agreement for the forward to sign a new five-year deal with the Catalan club, according to ESPN.

Lionel MessiSources added that Messi has accepted a significant wage reduction to prolong his stay.

Messi was a free agent after his contract at Barca expired, and he had courted interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City since first revealing a desire to end his 20-year relationship with Barca last summer.

Messi’s previous contract, which was worth over €500 million ($594m) over four years, expired at the stroke of midnight on June 30.

However, with the return of Joan Laporta as president in March, Messi grew more open to staying at Camp Nou. An official announcement is expected in the coming days.

Laporta had hoped to finalize an agreement before Messi’s previous terms expired. Barca’s financial problems made that impossible, though, with their gross debt over €1 billion. Cutbacks have been essential, in terms of transferring players out, reducing the wage bill and getting Messi to accept a lower salary.

La Liga president Javier Tebas has warned Barca they will not be allowed to register Messi’s new deal if they are unable to reduce spending to comply with the league’s Financial Fair Play rules. Barca’s spending limit has been reduced from over €600m to €347m since the coronavirus pandemic, with further reductions expected to be imposed for the upcoming season.

Therefore, to register Messi’s new deal, in addition to new signings Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal, Barca need to continue reducing the wage bill and moving players on. With that in mind, sources at the club refuse to rule out the departure of Antoine Griezmann, a €120m signing in 2019.

Messi is on holiday with his family after his Copa America glory with Argentina last weekend, which was his first senior trophy with his national team.

He will link up with Ronald Koeman‘s squad later in the summer, with Barca’s league campaign kicking off on August 15 against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.

Messi had first expressed a desire to leave Barca last August after the 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. His relationship with then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu had reached a breaking point. In a September 2020 interview with Goal, after Barca had blocked his departure, Messi called Bartomeu a “liar” and said the board had been “making things up as they go along” and “plugging holes” for years.

Bartomeu, facing a vote of no confidence, resigned last October and was eventually replaced by Laporta in March. Laporta has a good relationship with Messi and his family. He was Barca’s president when Messi made his first-team debut and when he signed his first professional contract with the club.

Sources told ESPN in April that Laporta was working on a contract renewal for Messi that included the option of playing in Major League Soccer before returning to Barcelona.

In public and in private, Laporta had always maintained that he was “convinced” he could persuade Messi to stay. The club have already made a series of signings this summer, bringing in Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia, as well as recalling Emerson Royal.

Messi first joined Barca’s academy in 2000 and has gone on to play 778 games for the club, breaking Xavi Hernandez‘s appearance record last season. He has scored 672 goals, another club record, and has helped Barca win, among other trophies, 10 La Liga titles and the Champions League on four occasions.

Teofimo Lopez Agrees to Restructured Contract with Top Rank Promotions

Teofimo Lopez has a new contract…

The 23-year-old Honduran American professional boxer and current unified lightweight world champion and Top Rank Promotions are back on good terms after agreeing to a restructured contract, according to ESPN.

Teofimo Lopez

In the new agreement, Lopez will have his minimum purses raised from the previous amount of $1.25 million and will have the opportunity for pay-per-view bouts on ESPN+, a source confirmed.

The deal comes on the heels of an acrimonious negotiation for Lopez’s upcoming title defense against George Kambosos on June 19. Top Rank and Lopez failed to come to an agreement on his salary for that fight, and the bout went to a purse bid. Triller, an upstart streaming service, easily won the rights with a $6 million bid, with Lopez getting around $3.9 million.

Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) is making his first title defense since beating Vasiliy Lomachenko last year to win three of the four major belts in the 135-pound division. Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs) is the IBF‘s mandatory challenger for its version of the title.

Lopez is also looking for a major opponent on October 2 if he successfully defends his titles, sources confirmed to ESPN. Devin Haney (26-0, 15 KOs), the WBC lightweight champion, has repeatedly expressed his desire to face Lopez. In a Twitter post issued Saturday, Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler said Lopez also wants that fight but that Haney has “contractual issues to resolve.”