Emanuel Navarrete Finalizing Deal to Fight Denys Berinchyk for Vacant WBO Lightweight Title

Emanuel Navarrete is thisclose to locking in his next opponent…

The 29-year-old Mexican professional boxer, a three-division world champion, and Denys Berinchyk are finalizing a deal for a May 18 fight in San Diego for the vacant WBO lightweight title, per ESPN KnockOut.

Emanuel NavarreteThe 135-pound title tilt will headline Top Rank Boxing on ESPN.

Navarrete (38-1-1, 31 KOs) will pursue his fourth division title in his lightweight debut. The 29-year-old from Mexico has captured titles at 122, 126 and 130 pounds. He’s ESPN’s No. 1 boxer at 130.

The second defense of the WBO junior lightweight title Navarrete still holds was in November. Navarrete dropped Robson Conceicao twice but settled for a draw.

Now, Navarrete will fight for the title vacated by former undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney. Oscar Valdez and Liam Wilson, two fighters Navarrete defeated in convincing fashion last year, will vie for the WBO interim junior lightweight title on March 29.

It’s likely the winner of Valdez-Wilson will be elevated to recognized champion if Navarrete wins as expected.

Berinchyk (18-0, 9 KOs) is a 35-year-old from Ukraine who will vie for his first world title. He’s coming off back-to-back wins over Yvan Mendy and Anthony Yigit, his best opposition. However, Berinchyk will still step up several levels against Navarrete.

Welterweight contender Giovani Santillan, a 32-year-old from San Diego, will fight in the ESPN co-feature, sources said. He’s coming off a career-best win, a sixth-round KO of Alexis Rocha in October.

Regis Prograis to Fight Devin Haney in December

Regis Prograis has a new date for his next bout…

The 34-year-old half-Hispanic American boxer, the WBC junior welterweight champion, will fight Devin Haney at the end of the year.

Regis PrograisHaney, trying to become a two-division champion, will fight Prograis on December 9 at San Francisco’s Chase Center, home of the Golden State Warriors, according to ESPN.

The Prograis-Haney bout, which was originally planned for October 28 in Las Vegas, will be streamed on DAZN pay-per-view, sources said.

Haney, 24, is the undisputed lightweight champion but will make his 140-pound debut as he prepares to campaign at a new weight. ESPN’s No. 8 pound-for-pound boxer, Haney retained his four 135-pound titles when he defeated future Hall of Famer Vasiliy Lomachenko in May via unanimous decision.

The bout was the last of Haney’s three-fight deal with Top Rank. Now, Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) will return to Eddie Hearn‘s Matchroom Boxing, which promoted six of the American’s fights on DAZN.

Haney signed with Top Rank after his win over Joseph Diaz Jr. to pursue a fight with George Kambosos in Australia for the undisputed lightweight championship.

Haney, who fights out of Las Vegas, defeated Kambosos in June 2022 and then turned back the Australian boxer again in Melbourne with another decision in October.

He then made his pay-per-view headline debut with a career-best win, a thrilling victory over Lomachenko.

In his 140-pound debut, Haney will take on a dangerous southpaw puncher in Prograis, who is ESPN‘s No. 3-rated junior welterweight.

Prograis became a two-time champion at 140 pounds with an 11th-round KO of Jose Zepeda in November. Prograis (29-1, 24 KOs) signed a three-fight deal with Matchroom Boxing afterward and went on to retain his title with a split decision victory over Danielito Zorrilla in a homecoming bout.

Now, Prograis will step up for the biggest fight of his career. His lone pro defeat came against Josh Taylor via majority decision in October 2019, a title unification fight in London. Prograis rebounded with four consecutive TKO victories.

With a victory over Prograis, Haney could place himself in pole position for Fighter of the Year honors.

Haney still retains the WBA, IBF and WBO titles at 135 pounds but was named champion in recess by the WBC. Shakur Stevenson and Frank Martin had been slated to vie for the vacant WBC title, but sources told ESPN that Martin has withdrawn from the fight.

Teofimo Lopez Jr.’s Team Requesting “Super Champion’ Designation from WBO

Teofimo Lopez Jr. is hoping for a super decision… 

Top Rank sent an official request to the WBO with hopes of naming the 26-year-old Honduran American junior welterweight champion as the organization’s “super champion,” a designation that provides the fighter with special privileges under the WBO guidelines.

Teofimo Lopez“As you are aware Teofimo most recently defeated then WBO world champion Josh Taylor at MSG on June 10,” the letter from Top Rank’s vice president of boxing operations, Carl Moretti, sent to the WBO reads. “His performance has received accolades throughout the boxing community as well as a nomination for “Performance of the Year“.

 

“It should also be noted that Taylor is a former undisputed unified 140-pound world champion never losing any of his titles inside the ring when he fought Teofimo.”

Top Rank also noted that “The magnitude of Teofimo’s accomplishments” are enough to grant him the “super champion” status.

Lopez (19-1, 13 KOs), a 2-1 underdog at the time, handed Taylor his first defeat in June with a dominating unanimous decision victory at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the win, Lopez became a two-division champion at just 25 years old, lending merit to Top Rank’s request.

Fernando Gaztambide, WBO press officer, told ESPN that “super champion” designation is a status granted “to those fighters whose professional merits and accomplishments satisfy the criteria set forth in the relevant provision.”

Gaztambide also noted that it is not a title, but rather a status which grants the recipient certain rights considering his accomplishments.

“As a super champion a fighter gets certain privileges, like being named mandatory challenger for a champion in higher or lower divisions, lifetime membership with the WBO, extended time to make mandatory title defenses and other things,” WBO president Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel told ESPN.

The decision will be made this week, according to Valcarcel, and depends on Lopez meeting the required qualifications.

“We have rules and criteria the fighter should meet. If the five-member championship committee approves the request, it will need to be approved by the 23-member executive committee by majority,” Valcarcel explained.

Some of the WBO criteria includes that the fighter has a “multiple bout contract with a major television [company].” It also states that the fighter requesting the “super champion” designation had a minimum of 10 title defenses or if less than 10, the fighter has defended the belt against “opponents of high recognition and high skills.”

Other provisions are that the fighter has been a champion in more than one division or has held more than one championship from the other major organizations (WBC, WBA, IBF), or has been a unified champion, among others. Lopez checks all those boxes, having been a former WBO lightweight champion and a unified champion.

Currently, the WBO has five “super champions”, heavyweight Oleksandr Usyk, super middleweight Canelo Alvarez, junior middleweight Jermell Charlo, welterweight Terence Crawford, and lightweight Devin Haney.

Jorge Linares to Fight Jack Catterall in October

Jorge Linares has lined up his next opponent…

The 37-year-old Venezuelan professional boxer, a former three-division champion, will fight Jack Catterall, ESPN‘s No. 1 junior welterweight, on October 21 in Liverpool, England, Matchroom Boxing has announced.

Jorge Linares

Catterall dropped a controversial split decision to Josh Taylor in February 2022 in a bid for the undisputed 140-pound championship. Following several postponements of the rematch, Taylor moved on to a summer bout with Teofimo Lopez, while Catterall signed with Eddie Hearn‘s Matchroom.

“It is an honor to share a ring with Jorge Linares,” Catterall said. “I’ve watched him come over to the U.K. on three occasions and win three times. He is a legend of the game and this is a must-win fight for the both of us for very different reasons.

“There is talk of a huge fight for me after this, but it’ll count for nothing if I take my eye off the ball — which I can’t afford to do at this stage of my career. It’s no secret my career has lacked momentum, so after boxing in May and now October, I genuinely believe you’ll see the best version of me on October 21.”

That “huge fight” Catterall mentioned is the rematch with Taylor. There have been discussions for a Catterall-Taylor encore targeted for late 2023 or early 2024, sources told ESPN. Taylor is set to campaign at welterweight after he lost his title to Lopez, but Catterall is willing to meet him in between 140 and 147 pounds, sources said.

But first, Catterall (27-1, 13 KOs) will need to come out victorious against the second-toughest opponent of his career.

Linares (47-8, 29 KOs) has captured titles at 126, 130 and 135 pounds, but at 37, the Venezuelan boxer has lost three consecutive fights. Linares was competitive in a decision defeat to Devin Haney in May 2021.

Afterward, Linares fought twice in Russia: a 12th-round TKO loss to Zaur Abdullaev and a decision setback vs. Zhora Hamazaryan in December.

“October 21 I’m back in the UK,” said Linares. “I’m full of emotion and ready to give everybody a spectacular performance against a tremendous opponent, Jack Catterall.

“I just want everyone to know that I’m ready to give Jack a great boxing lesson and to continue making history in the U.K.”

Regis Prograis Defeats Danielito Zorrilla to Defend His WBC Junior Welterweight Title

It wasn’t his best showing, but Regis Prograis has successfully defended his title…

The 34-year-old half-Hispanic American boxer successfully defended his WBC junior welterweight title by defeating Danielito Zorrilla by split decision on Saturday night at the Smoothie King Center.

Regis PrograisPrograis won on two cards 118-109 and 117-110 while one scorecard went Zorrilla’s way 114-113.

Prograis (29-1, 25 KO) was honest about his performance and felt he could have put on a better show for the local crowd.

“My performance was s—. I can admit to myself it wasn’t a good performance,” Prograis said. “The last two days, I felt the hometown jitters. The hometown fights, they are the worst. I felt it going into it yesterday into today. I got the job done. I kept the belt. I’m happy about that, but I’m definitely not happy about my performance.”

Zorrilla (17-2, 13 KO) took the fight on less than a month’s notice as he was a late replacement for undefeated Australian fighter Liam Paro, who pulled out of the bout with an injury.

Following the fight, Prograis sat with Matchroom boxing promoter Eddie Hearn as the two spoke with reporters about what options could be next at 140 pounds. Bill Haney, Devin Haney‘s father, was in attendance on Saturday but Hearn said there are plenty of options for Prograis’ next fight.

Hearn mentioned Haney, Teofimo Lopez and Gervonta Davis as all great fights that could be made for Prograis.

“For me, it’s up to Regis,” Hearn said. “I mean, I think the great thing about tonight is there’s going to be a lot of people queuing up to fight. I’ve not heard any of those big names mention Regis’ name before tonight, other than Devin. But now I think you’re going to see people actually target Regis Prograis that he might be beatable now.

“Which we know, there’s a completely different performance to come from Regis Prograis. I think that’s the one thing that I’m happy about and I believe Devin wants that fight.”

It was the first successful title defense of Prograis’ career. After winning the WBA title at 140 pounds from Kiryl Relikh in 2019, Prograis dropped the belt in a majority decision to Josh Taylor later that year. It remains the only loss of his career.

This time, Prograis defended his crown.

In the third round, Prograis dropped Zorrilla with a left hand and started to build on that momentum the rest of the fight. However, that quickly went away as the two danced and plotted on each other for the remainder of the fight.

“He came to survive,” Prograis said about Zorrilla. “He didn’t want to get knocked out. He came to survive. I was chasing him. I just had to chase him for 12 rounds.”

Prograis went to the mat three times but none were ruled knockdowns by referee Ray Corona. In the first round, Zorrilla stunned Prograis with a right knocking him off balance, and both men went to the ground as Prograis tried to clutch with Zorrilla falling into the champion. However, it was ruled as a push. In the 10th round, Prograis’ fall was called a slip and then he again touched the mat in the 12th on a push.

He admitted after the fight that he felt the first-round fall didn’t feel like a knockdown in the moment but looking back at the replay, it could have been.

This was the first major championship fight inside the Smoothie King Center since 2000 when undisputed light heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. defeated Eric Harding at what was then called New Orleans Arena (Derrick Gainer also defeated Freddie Norwood for the WBA featherweight title on the same card).

It was the third card that Prograis has headlined in New Orleans. His previous two fights were at the Lakefront Arena on the campus of the University of New Orleans.

New Orleans rap duo Fresh X Reckless performed during Prograis’ walk as he put his own flair on the entrance with a 10-foot Rougarou — Prograis’ nickname and a werewolf-like monster from local folklore — following him.

However, because of those “hometown jitters” Prograis mentioned, there’s a good chance his next fight won’t be in the city.

“I don’t think next time,” Prograis said. “We’ll probably go on the road and then come back here down the line. But not next fight.”

Hearn said there are opportunities for Prograis that could be in Las Vegas or the Middle East for his next fight.

Oscar Valdez to Fight Adam Lopez in a 130-Pound Rematch Bout in May

Oscar Valdez will be headed to the boxing ring this May…

The 32-year-old Mexican professional boxer, a former two weight world champion, will face Adam Lopez in a 130-pound rematch on May 20 in Las Vegas, according to ESPN sources.

Oscar ValdezThe bout will serve as chief support for the Devin HaneyVasiliy Lomachenko fight for the undisputed lightweight championship on ESPN+ PPV, per source.

Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs) defeated Lopez (16-4, 6 KOs) via seventh-round stoppage in November 2019, but the fight was far tougher than accepted. Lopez, a major underdog, floored Valdez in Round 2 before the Mexican Olympian rallied for the TKO victory.

Valdez and Lopez were set to fight different opponents on that night, but after Valdez’s original opponent came in overweight, the matchup was pieced together for the following night.

“I was very surprised [by the knockdown],” Valdez said at the time. “I take my hat off to Adam Lopez. He’s a great fighter, great warrior, just like his father [Hector Lopez] was. I just got hit. This is boxing. I prepared myself for two, three months for [Adrian] Gutierrez. Got a new opponent, but that’s no excuse. This kid is a warrior.”

This time around, they’ll have ample time to prepare for one another in advance.

Valdez was set to fight Emanuel Navarrete on February 3 for the vacant WBO junior lightweight title but withdrew because of a rib injury.

Navarrete went on to win the title with a ninth-round TKO victory over Liam Wilson. If Valdez defeats Lopez again as expected, Navarrete will defend the title vs. Valdez later this year, per source.

But first, Valdez must contend with Lopez. Valdez, 32, lost his 130-pound title in April when Shakur Stevenson routed him. Prior to that, he defeated Robson Conceicao in September 2021 after Valdez tested positive for the banned substance phentermine.

Lopez, 26, owns only one win over the past two years, sandwiched by decision losses to Isaac Dogboe and, most recently, Abraham Nova in January. He was floored twice vs. Nova.

“I would love a rematch with Oscar; he’s a true fighter,” Lopez said in November 2019. “I’m not a 130-pounder, but I’m a real fighter as well, so I’ll take on anybody, anywhere.”

Jamaine Ortiz to Fight Vasiliy Lomachenko in October

Jamaine Ortiz has lined up his next opponent…

The 26-year-old Dominican and Puerto Rican professional boxer and Vasiliy Lomachenko have agreed to a deal for a lightweight fight that’s targeted for late October, according to ESPN.

Jamaine OrtizNo site has been finalized for the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN main event, sources said.

Lomachenko, formerly ESPN’s pound-for-pound No. 1 boxer, last competed in December, recording a unanimous decision victory over Richard Commey. He agreed to a deal for a fight against George Kambosos for four lightweight belts in June, but instead elected to remain in Ukraine when Russia invaded.

The 34-year-old even joined a territorial defense battalion, as did his good friend, heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, who meets Anthony Joshua in a rematch on Saturday.

On Tuesday, Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KOs) arrived in Los Angeles to begin training camp in pursuit of the undisputed lightweight championship. Devin Haney stepped in when Lomachenko stayed in Ukraine and went on to soundly outpoint Kambosos in Australia to capture the undisputed 135-pound championship.

Haney and Kambosos are set for an Oct. 15 rematch in Melbourne, Australia, on ESPN, and the winner could be lined up for a defense vs. Lomachenko next year.

In the meantime, Lomachenko will prepare for the potential summit meeting with a matchup against Ortiz (16-0-1, 8 KOs), who broke out with a unanimous decision victory over Jamel Herring in May that led to the former champion’s retirement.

Ortiz, from Worcester, Massachusetts, has never faced anyone close to Lomachenko’s level, and even the Herring fight was a quantum leap in competition. Ortiz’s lone blemish is an eight-round draw with Joseph Adorno last year.

Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, lost his three lightweight titles to Teofimo Lopez in 2020 and subsequently underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. He’s rated No. 2 at lightweight and No. 9 in pound-for-pound rankings.

The chief-support bout is slated to be a featherweight matchup between Robeisy Ramirez and Jessie Magdaleno, sources said, after the sides agreed to a deal.

Isaac Cruz Set to Fight Yuriorkis Gamboa in Lightweight Bout This April

Isaac Cruz has lined up his next opponent…

The 23-year-old Mexican professional boxer has reportedly agreed to a lightweight fight against Yuriorkis Gamboa on April 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, according to ESPN.

Isaac CruzThe bout will serve as chief support to the April 16 Showtime PPV headlined by the Errol Spence Jr.Yordenis Ugas welterweight title unification, sources said.

The 147-pound bout between Radzhab Butaev and Eimantas Stanionis also will appear on the undercard, leaving one more slot.

Cruz (22-2-1, 15 KOs) stunned the boxing world by pushing star fighter Gervonta Davis to the brink in a December decision loss. Cruz accepted the fight on a month’s notice after Rolando Romero withdrew from the bout, and Cruz established himself as a player in the stacked 135-pound division with the spirited effort.

Despite being a major underdog, Cruz lost by just two rounds on two cards and four on the third.

Now, Cruz will receive another night in the spotlight on the undercard of the anticipated Spence-Ugas fight at the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

He meets Gamboa, a former two-division champion and Olympic gold medalist. At 40, Gamboa hasn’t shown much in recent bouts, but he has proved durable.

 

The Cuban boxer’s previous two fights came against Davis and Devin Haney.

Gamboa (30-4, 18 KOs) tore his Achilles tendon in the defeat to Davis but made it to Round 12 before he was stopped. Eleven months later, Gamboa was shut out on two scorecards in a unanimous decision loss to Haney.

Joseph Diaz Jr. Agrees to WBC Lightweight Title Fight Against Devin Haney

Joseph Diaz Jr. is thisclose to a title fight…

The 28-year-old Mexican American boxer and Devin Haney have agreed to terms for a WBC lightweight title fight on December 3 or December 4 in Las Vegas on DAZN, according to ESPN.Joseph Diaz Jr.

Contracts haven’t been signed yet but details are in the process of being finalized, sources said. The framework of the deal includes a rematch clause in the event Haney loses.

The fight is part of an intriguing three-week stretch for the lightweight division. Teofimo Lopez, who holds four lightweight titles, fights George Kambosos on November 27 on DAZN.

One week later, Eddie Hearn will promote another important lightweight fight with the Haney-Diaz clash. That same weekend, on December 5, Gervonta Davis fights Rolando Romero on Showtime PPV.

And then on December 11 on ESPN, Vasiliy Lomachenko meets Richard Commey.

The Haney-Diaz agreement caps months of back-and-forth insults traded between the boxers. When Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KOs) agreed to fight Ryan Garcia on November 27, Haney (26-0, 15 KOs) accused Diaz of ducking a chance at him.

But that fight fell through when Garcia suffered a hand injury in training and underwent surgery on Monday. With Haney and Diaz both in need of an end-of-year fight, the matchup made too much sense for all parties.

Haney, ESPN’s No. 3 lightweight, is coming off the biggest win of his career, a May decision victory over former champion Jorge Linares. Diaz, too, is coming off a strong performance, a July points win over Javier Fortuna that earned him the No. 7 spot in ESPN’s lightweight rankings.

That was the Olympian’s first fight at 135 pounds. He defeated Tevin Farmer in 2020 to win a 130-pound title and in his other title bid, lost to Gary Russell Jr. at 126 pounds in 2018.

Haney, No. 3 on ESPN’s list of the top 25 boxers under 25, is one of the sport’s fastest-rising stars. The Las Vegas-based fighter boasts over 1 million followers on Instagram, and with his abundant charisma, surely has a chance to break through to the mainstream. What’s stopped him thus far is lack of opposition.

The 22-year-old Haney often calls himself the most-avoided fighter in the sport. That can no longer be said with a stern challenger in Diaz lined up for December.

Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. Defeats Javier Fortuna to Claim Vacant WBC Interim Lightweight Title

Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. is celebrating his good fortuna

The 28-year-old Mexican American professional boxer delivered the most impressive performance of his career on Friday in Los Angeles, scoring a unanimous decision over Javier Fortuna to claim the vacant WBC interim lightweight title.

Joseph "JoJo" Diaz Jr.

Scores were 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112. ESPN also scored it 115-112.

In his lightweight debut, Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KOs) showed he could absorb heavy shots from a dangerous puncher and carry his own power, too. He wobbled Fortuna toward the end of the 10th round of a fight that featured some brutal exchanges on the inside, often waged at a frenetic pace.

“I can fight all the top guys at 135 pounds,” said Diaz, who entered the bout as ESPN’s No. 5 boxer at 130 pounds. “I want Ryan Garcia or Devin Haney. Let’s make this s— happen.

“I’ve been sparring 160 pounders. I’ve always worked with bigger guys my whole life.”

Despite fighting for his first world title at 126 pounds (a close decision defeat to Gary Russell Jr.) before capturing a championship at 130, 135 appears to be Diaz’s most natural weight class. He looked stronger than ever, and without the tough weight cut, showed off energy down the stretch to unleash four- and five-punch combinations against a crafty contender.

The 2012 Olympian was forced to deal with adversity yet again. He suffered a cut over his left eye in Round 3 following a clash of heads — a gash in the same area he bled from in his title-winning effort vs. Tevin Farmer in January 2020.

The following frame, Diaz was penalized one point by referee Raul Caiz Jr., for hitting behind the head, a point deduction that seemed borderline. Diaz argued that he was hitting Fortuna on the side of the head to no avail.

Fortuna, ESPN’s No. 8 fighter at 135 pounds, pressed the action in Rounds 5 and 6, beating Diaz to the punch with power shots. But the 31-year-old couldn’t sustain.

Fighting in front of a hometown crowd at Banc of California Stadium, Diaz ratcheted up the pressure and began to dig away at Fortuna’s body with a two-fisted attack that stunted the Dominican’s momentum.

Diaz simply landed the cleaner, flusher shots in the exchanges down the stretch, winning the favor of the judges in a bout that featured many tit-for-tat rounds. Fortuna threw 761 punches — 240 more than Diaz — yet landed 10 less shots.

With the convincing victory, Diaz set himself up for a career-high payday in one of boxing’s most star-driven divisions. Gervonta Davis, Teofimo Lopez, Vasiliy Lomachenko, Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia all reside at lightweight.

The easiest matchups to make are with Haney and Garcia, both of whom also compete on DAZN. Haney and Garcia also are available; they each have no fights scheduled. But it’s the Garcia fight in particular that is more appealing for many reasons.

Garcia was actually set to fight Fortuna (36-3-1, 25 KOs) on this night before he withdrew from the bout to seek treatment for his mental health. When he pulled out, Diaz quickly lobbied for the opportunity to step in, looking for redemption after losing his title at the scales in February before settling for a majority draw against Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov.

Now that Garcia is back in training with Eddy Reynoso at Canelo Alvarez’s gym in San Diego, a bout between Diaz and the social media sensation is a natural. They’re both Mexican Americans from Southern California who are promoted by Oscar De La Hoya. Stage the fight this fall in L.A., and they can practically guarantee a windfall at the box office.

“JoJo once again showed a lot of guts, a lot of courage and a big heart,” De La Hoya said. “His first fight at 135 was not too shabby. I think he did a great job against a guy who’s been avoided for years.”