The 22-year-old Mexican American boxer, an undefeated rising welterweight star, will step up his boxing game as he’s set to face fellow contender Maurice Hooker in a bout that’s still being finalized, according to ESPN.
The fight is expected to take place on March 20, according to ESPN sources. The firm date is the final step to be completed before an announcement of the bout, which is expected to take place in Dallas and air on DAZN.
Ortiz (16-0, 16 KOs) was ESPN’s and Ring Magazine‘s 2019 Prospect of the Year. His knockout power and impressive skill put him among a handful of young fighters competing for prime billing in the years to come. With Canelo Alvarez‘s departure, Ortiz has become one of Golden Boy Promotions‘ most promising fighters.
Ortiz is coming off a seventh-round TKO victory over veteran Sam Vargas in July — the first pro bout in Ortiz’s career that has lasted beyond six rounds.
But he’ll be facing his stiffest competition yet in Hooker, who after having issues making weight is moving up from junior welterweight to take this bout.
Hooker (27-1-3) has a significant experience and length advantage over Ortiz, helping make the bout an intriguing test. Hooker, 31, hasn’t fought since a December 2019 first-round TKO over Uriel Perez. Before that, he suffered his lone loss to junior welterweight unified champion Jose Ramirez by sixth-round TKO.
The 30-year-old Mexican professional boxer, the sport’s biggest superstar, put on a dominant display on Saturday night to end the 2020 major fight slate, cruising to a unanimous decision win over previously undefeated champion Callum Smith and winning the WBA, WBC and The Ring magazine super middleweight titles.
The scorecards read 119-109, 119-109 and 117-111, all for Alvarez.
In the process, Alvarez became the first unified champion from Mexico in super middleweight history.
In front of 15,000 fans (20% capacity) at the San Antonio Alamodome, Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) stalked Smith (27-1, 19 KOs), punishing him with an array of consistent jabs, uppercuts and hooks for 12 rounds.
“I’m the best in the world,” Alvarez said on the DAZN broadcast via an interpreter. “In the first round, I tried to see what he brings, the skills or whatever, but like you can see, I showed what I am.”
By the later rounds, the intrigue of the fight shifted from who would win to whether Smith would survive Alvarez’s devastating blows and go the distance.
The 6-foot-3 Smith had a 7-inch height advantage and an 8-inch reach advantage over the 5-foot-8 Alvarez. But it didn’t matter, as Alvarez was the big bully, eliminating the distance that Smith prefers and consistently pounding punches off the British boxer’s head and body.
“He was the better fighter tonight,” Smith said. “He’s smart. He’s clever. He sets you little traps and keeps you thinking. Before you know it, he’s closing the ground. He’s a good fighter, but I’m just a little disappointed with myself. His jab was really good. It surprised me a little bit. His defense was really good.”
Alvarez has now defeated two Smith brothers — knocking out older brother Liam Smith as a junior middleweight in 2016 and defeating Callum Smith on Saturday.
Alvarez — universally considered one of the top two pound-for-pound boxers in the world, boxing’s best-selling fighter, and already a four-division champion — now has won The Ring magazine title in three different weight classes.
He landed 43% of his punches and 57% of his power punches on Saturday, per CompuBox, in a complete performance in which his defense also shined. Smith landed only 18% of his punches and 24% of his power punches.
It was Alvarez’s first fight since parting ways with Golden Boy Promotions and DAZN after contractual disputes, and he returned to the ring for the first time in 13 months as his own promoter with little in-ring rust.
“I’M BACK!” he wrote as part of a Twitter post early Sunday morning.
Following months of conflict between the 30-year-old Mexican boxer, his promoters and his broadcast partners, Alvarez is finally ready to rumble.
Alvarez will meet Callum Smith in Texas this December to unify WBA super middleweight titles, according to ESPN. This will be Alvarez’s first appearance since his 11th-round TKO victory over Sergey Kovalev in November 2019.
The target dates for the fight are December 18, 19 or 20.
Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) faces “Mundo” Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) after he announced himself as a free agent last week. His first business partner will be Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing. It’s very possible that DAZN, the broadcaster partner Alvarez was working with before severing ties with longtime promoter Golden BoyPromotions, could carry the fight in the U.S.
The fight — targeted for AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, or the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas — will come a year after a meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, where Smith’s trainer, Joe Gallagher, spent a few minutes with Eddy Reynoso, Alvarez’s trainer, to tell him about his interest in an Alvarez-Smith fight.
Smith, 20, is seven inches taller than Alvarez and has about eight inches reach advantage. Smith, like Alvarez, hasn’t fought since last November when he scored a contested unanimous decision victory over John Ryder.
Smith is the WBA “super” super middleweight world titlist, and Alvarez has the WBA “regular” belt, but the fight could also be for the WBC super middleweight title that was left vacant when David Benavidez missed weight for his fight against Roamer Alexis Angulo in August and was stripped of the belt.
Alvarez starts a new era as his own promoter with a title fight against a legit opponent. Smith is considered one of the elite fighters in the division, and is ranked No. 1 by ESPN.
After several days of negotiations, representatives for the 30-year-old Mexican boxer and four-division world champion, the sport’s most lucrative fighter, and Golden Boy Promotions have reached an agreement to release him.
In September, Alvarez filed a lawsuit in federal court citing a breach of contract on an 11-fight, $365 million deal signed in 2018. A subsequent mediation situation between all parties failed, and the suit was refiled after a technical error.
Alvarez has not fought since November 2019, when he defeated light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev via DAZN. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alvarez, Golden Boy and DAZN were unable to agree on Alvarez’s next opponent and the salary for that fight.
“After extended discussions between the parties, DAZN offered to pay Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions a fraction of the contracted $40 million license fee in cash and some DAZN stock in advance of a potential IPO,” according to the initial lawsuit filed in California. “However, the entire value of the package — for a bout against another World Champion — was substantially less than Alvarez’s contractual guarantee.”
When Alvarez initially signed with DAZN, it was a massive moment for the business of boxing. Alvarez had agreed to fight on the streaming platform that opted for a monthly subscription over the traditional pay-per-view model used in boxing in recent decades. DAZN also signed Gennadiy Golovkin, whom Canelo has defeated once and drawn with in two controversial outcomes.
However, a third fight to complete the trilogy has become less likely in the wake of Alvarez’s release from his promotional contract.
Court filings show that Alvarez’s lawsuit was refiled October 8 and an additional motion was submitted by the defendants that said the lawsuit should be settled via arbitration, which Alvarez’s side disagreed with. In a statement Friday afternoon, Golden Boy chairman Oscar De La Hoya said both sides had come to an amicable solution.
“The lawsuit was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction and we wish Canelo the best going forward,” De La Hoya said in the statement. “In the strong partnership with DAZN, we will continue showcasing our wide array of talent, including rising superstars like Ryan Garcia, Jaime Munguia and Vergil Ortiz Jr., all of whom have the talent and potential to become the next biggest star in our sport.”
The bout between the 22-year-old Mexican American boxer and Luke Campbell for the WBC interim lightweight title will take place on December 5, Golden Boy Promotions and DAZN have announced.
The venue is still to be determined.
Vasiliy Lomachenko is the WBC lightweight “franchise” champion; Devin Haney is the WBC titleholder.
This is the first title fight for the 22-year-old Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs), who has not fought since a highlight-reel first-round knockout of Francisco Fonseca on February 14.
“I’ve been eagerly waiting to get back in the ring and have been working harder than ever to get here,” Garcia said. “It’s been a tough year for everyone, but I’m excited to bring the fans an escape for the night … or based on my track record, a few minutes at most. Luke’s record speaks for itself, but I’m ready to prove the doubters wrong. This is my era now and Dec. 5 is just the start of it.”
Added promoter Oscar De La Hoya: “For years, the world of boxing has been clamoring for a crossover star who can reach new audiences that have gone untapped for far too long. Ryan Garcia stands at the precipice of doing the same thing at an incredibly young age when he takes on Luke Campbell.”
The 33-year-old Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) is ESPN‘s third-ranked lightweight and a seasoned veteran who has faced the likes of Jorge Linares and Lomachenko in recent years.
“2020 has been an extremely tough year for everyone, so I’m really pleased we can finally get this fight officially on and give the fans something to look forward to,” said Campbell, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist. “There’s been a lot of talk and he’s clearly a very highly regarded fighter, but I’m going to prove that this is far too much, far too soon, and that I’m on a completely different level.
“I’ve fought in America before, so this will be nothing new for myself and my team. Fans or no fans, the one thing I can guarantee is that I will be coming back to the UK with the victory. Training hasn’t stopped for me, and I’m going to be in peak condition to show something very special from Luke Campbell on December 5.”
The proposed bout between the 22-year-old Mexican boxer and Luke Campbell for the vacant WBC interim lightweight title has been agreed upon.
A purse bid for the contest had been scheduled for Tuesday, but a seven-day extension was granted to Golden Boy Promotions, Garcia’s promoter, and Matchroom Sports, who promotes Campbell, to work out the final details.
“The WBC is pleased to confirm that the respective camps have agreed to the material terms of the Luke Campbell vs. Ryan Garcia bout for the WBC interim lightweight world championship,” the WBC said in a statement Tuesday.
The promoters are still working on a date and venue for the fight.
“The date we’re looking at is in November, and there’s going to [be] provisions in the agreement for the fight taking place in the U.K., or in the U.S.,” Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez told ESPN.
When asked if the ability to have a live audience would be a determining factor in where this fight lands, Gomez said they will cross that bridge when the time comes.
“Right now, we haven’t discussed that,” said Gomez about the availability of fans. “It really depends on protocols and obviously travel restrictions because of COVID.”
Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) is the WBC second-rated lightweight, and Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs) is No. 3.
It’s an interesting clash of styles, with the flashy Garcia, who has fast hands and a lethal left hook, against Campbell, a technically sound southpaw who has an Olympic gold medal to his credit and has had great battles against Jorge Linares and Vasiliy Lomachenko in recent years.
Currently the WBC lists Lomachenko as its “franchise” champion and Devin Haney as its “regular” titleholder.
The 33-year-old Mexican American retired mixed martial artist is open to return to competition, witha fight against up-and-coming boxer Ryan Garcia at the top of his wish list.
The former UFC double champion told ESPN that if any bout would get him to come back, it would be one against Garcia, the 21-year-old boxing prodigy promoted by Oscar De La Hoya‘s Golden Boy Promotions.
Cejudo and Garcia have been going back-and-forth on social media for weeks. Cejudo said he’d be willing to face Garcia in a boxing match, but he proposed a hybrid fight with 10-ounce boxing gloves that have the fingers exposed for grappling.
“I think Ryan Garcia would be the easiest payday ‘Triple C’ would ever get,” Cejudo said. “It would be a lot bigger than any purse I did in the UFC. If there’s any fight that intrigues me between staying retired, between fighting … Alexander Volkanovski or fighting … Ryan Garcia, I like the payday. Plus, it’s easy money because he’s fought nobody.”
Cejudo added that he thinks Garcia is “another Sean O’Malley,” referring to the highly touted UFC bantamweight prospect, when it comes to unfounded hype.
“It makes me sick,” Cejudo said.
Cejudo said Garcia “wouldn’t make it 30 seconds” with him in mixed martial arts. A bout between the two seems like a long shot. Cejudo still has a UFC contract, and the promotion would have to OK any other fight deal or be part of the co-promotion.
Cejudo (16-2) stepped away from MMA unexpectedly after six straight wins. ESPNstill has him ranked No. 3 on its pound-for-pound fighter list. Cejudo has an impressive résumé, including being one of four fighters to hold two UFC titles at the same time. The Arizona resident has beaten the likes of Demetrious Johnson, TJ Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz, all former champions.
“Triple C” is apparently now looking to add Garcia to that list.
“Ryan Garcia, if you are watching this … answer the call, man, and sign the damn contract,” Cejudo said.
Jorge Linaresis heading back to the ring this summer…
The 34-year-old Venezuelan professional boxer and three-time world champion will fight Javier Fortuna (35-2-1, 24 KOs) on August 28 at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casinoin Indio, California.
After Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) dispatched Carlos Morales in four rounds on February 14, a showdown with the undefeated Ryan Garcia was heavily rumored for the summer. That fight never materialized, and Linares and his representatives shifted their focus to another fight.
“We wanted that fight [with Garcia], Jorge wanted that fight more than anybody,” said Jose de la Cruz, who manages Linares. “I guess their camp is not being reasonable with Golden Boy.”
In regard to the potential July 4 fight, Garcia representative Lupe Valencia said, “What they offered Ryan was not acceptable. We can’t just accept it if we know it’s not reasonable.”
Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions, told ESPN, “Fortuna was willing to fight pretty much anybody, he was available. So we made the offer to Linares, and he took it right away.”
Gomez said there is a chance that this bout could be contested for the WBC interim lightweight title.
“It was a no-brainer,” said de la Cruz. “I think it’s the right time for Jorge to fight for a world title, and to stay active, number one. He’ll be 35 by the time he fights. How many fights does he have left? We all want to know.”
Linares, who is ESPN’s No. 6 lightweight, has had a memorable career, filled with substantial victories and mind-boggling defeats.
He’s captured world titles at 126, 130 and 135, but never had a long title run with any of those belts. Linares has victories over the likes of Oscar Larios, Kevin Mitchell, Anthony Crolla and Luke Campbell, and gave Vasiliy Lomachenko his toughest test to date as a professional.
But Linares has also been knocked out in all five of his losses, the latest of which was when he was stopped in the first round by Pablo Cesar Cano in an ill-fated experiment at 140 at the beginning of 2019.
The 31-year-old Fortuna, who is ESPN’s No. 8 lightweight, once held the WBA 130-pound title and had a strong showing as he knocked out a faded Jesus Cuellar in two rounds last November.
Fortuna, a southpaw from the Dominican Republic presents a formidable challenge for Linares with his above-average power. Should Linares overcome the challenge of Fortuna, he’ll be in line for even bigger fights.
“There’s [Devin] Haney,” said De La Cruz, mentioning the current WBC lightweight titleholder as one option. ”If Golden Boy can make the Ryan Garcia fight, if the virus doesn’t affect us late in the year, everything goes well, we want a championship fight or a big fight at the Staples Center. That’s what Golden Boy wants.”
As previously expected, the 22-year-old highly regarded Mexican American welterweight will face veteran Samuel Vargas on July 24 in Golden Boy‘s first fight card since the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to boxing events across the world in mid-March.
The card will take place at the Fantasy Springs Casino Resortin Indio, California.
“We’re just excited, happy to be back with our fighters,” said Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions.
“Especially a guy like Vergil who was scheduled to fight before the shutdown. He was 10 days out from fighting, so I’m just happy he gets to fight again, and we’re back at it.”
For the time being, Golden Boy’s cards in California will be held without an audience.
Ortiz (15-0, 15 KOs) is considered one of boxing’s best young fighters. The Grand Prairie, Texas native has stopped everyone he has faced thus far as a professional. In 2019, Ortiz stopped Mauricio Herrera in three rounds, and then Antonio Orozco in six.
Ortiz and Vargas were originally scheduled to clash on March 28 at The Forumin Inglewood, California, before that card was canceled.
“I’m very thankful and excited to be headlining the first Golden Boy event after the quarantine,” said Ortiz, who has been training with Robert Garcia in Riverside for the past few weeks. “I’m happy that it’s still with the same opponent, so basically we’re picking up where we left off. It’s going to be a tough fight, and it’ll be a great way to kick off the year for me.”
Ortiz is facing a seasoned veteran in Vargas (31-5-2, 14 KOs), who has faced Amir Khan, Luis Collazo, Danny Garcia and Errol Spence over the course of his career.
“I think that everything happens for a reason,” said Vargas, who has been in Las Vegas in recent weeks, preparing for this bout. “I think this time off benefited me. I’m ready to upset the world. I believe I can come out with the win. The world is a weird place right now. The show will be different. There will be no fans, but I have no doubt I’m going to win.”
As Golden Boy officials began to put this card together, they found a rather limited pool of options to draw from, in terms of selecting boxers.
“There’s a lot of guys that just weren’t ready,” Gomez said. “They hadn’t been to the gym because [gyms] were closed, they didn’t train, do road work, sparring or anything. Now it’s a little better, but we’re not in the clear yet.”
The co-feature scheduled for July 24 is a 10-round lightweight contest between Hector Tanajara (19-0, 5 KOs) and Mercito Gesta (32-3-3, 17 KOs). Other fights include an eight-round middleweight bout between Shane Mosley Jr. (15-3, 9 KOs) and Jeremy Ramos (11-8, 2 KOs), a women’s junior flyweight fight between Seniesa Estrada (18-0, 7 KOs) and Jacky Calvo(12-5-2, 1 KO), and a clash between prospects Hector Valdez and Evan Sanchez.
There’s no indication when spectators will be allowed back into any sporting events, and from Golden Boy’s perspective, the hope at this point is just to try to get the first few cards off the ground smoothly.
“It’s hard to say. It’s scary. You’ve seen the numbers, they’ve been rising again,” Gomez said. “There have been surges in Florida, here in California. I don’t know what the governor is going to decide. I just hope we don’t get shut down again.”
The 22-year-old Mexican American boxer and undefeated welterweight will be the headliner when Golden Boy Promotions returns to boxing in July.
The original plan for Golden Boy was for the highly marketable and telegenic Ryan Garcia to take part in the main event on the Fourth of July. But the two sides weren’t able to come to a financial agreement. Oscar De La Hoya, the founder of Golden Boy, tweeted about the situation on Monday.
Eric Gomez, the president of GBP, confirmed to ESPN that Ortiz (15-0, 15 KOs), whom many consider the company’s best prospect, would be in the main event of Golden Boy’s first card of the summer. This show will most likely take place at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, and will be streamed on DAZN.
Ortiz was originally scheduled to face Samuel Vargas on March 28 in Los Angeles, before that card was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s expected this fight will be rescheduled for late July.