Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez Defeats Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to Retain WBC Junior Bantamweight Title

Jesse Bam Rodriguez is keeping his title…

Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez“This is the youngest champ in boxing and he already might be a pound-for-pound great,” said Rodriguez’s promoter, Eddie Hearn. “He’s here for legacy; he’s here to be remembered.”

It was a dazzling display from Rodriguez, who headlined in his hometown for the first time. He used an excellent southpaw jab, beautiful footwork and plenty of angles to keep Rungvisai off-rhythm and at the end of his power shots.

Rungvisai (50-6-1, 43 KOs) owns victories over a pair of future Hall of Famers in their primes — Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada — so it was particularly impressive the way Rodriguez was able to pick off his heavy shots and win every round in dominant fashion.

The plodding 35-year-old from Thailand needs to set his feet to deliver his power shots, but Rodriguez never allowed him to do so. He presented a moving target, and on the rare occasion Rungvisai did close distance, “Bam” turned him around.

“In the third round I felt his power wasn’t the same,” said Rodriguez, who entered the fight rated No. 5 by ESPN at 115 pounds. ” … That’s when I decided to take over. … Having Robert Garcia in my corner is a huge advantage.”

Rodriguez, whose brother Joshua Franco holds a secondary title at 115 pounds, said he could campaign at 112 pounds before returning to the weight class.

“He’s a very underrated fighter and it’s a matter of time until he gets his shot,” Rodriguez said of Franco, who is ESPN’s No. 6 junior bantamweight.

Rungvisai, ESPN’s No. 3 boxer at 115 pounds, lost for just the second time since a 2014 technical decision defeat to Carlos Cuadras. And it was Cuadras whom Rodriguez defeated in February to announce his arrival and pick up his first world title, though Estrada remains the WBC’s franchise champion in the weight class.

Manchester City Agrees to Transfer Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal

Gabriel Jesus is switching sides…

Manchester City and Arsenal have agreed terms over the transfer of the 25-year-old Brazilian professional footballer, according to ESPN.

Gabriel JesusArsenal will pay £45 million plus a further £10m in add-ons for the Brazil international striker with only paperwork and a medical standing in the way of a deal being completed.

The Gunners had already agreed a five-year contract with Jesus.

Arsenal, who have already signed midfielder Fabio Vieira from Porto this summer, are looking to strengthen their squad after missing out on Champions League football.

Jesus, who had only one year remaining on his contract at Man City, scored 13 goals and gave 12 assists in all competitions for the Premier League champions last season and can play in all attacking positions.

He also excels at pressing and counter-pressing, which are key aspects of Mikel Arteta‘s playing style.

Meanwhile, Arsenal continue to pursue a deal for Leeds United winger Raphinha and remain confident of adding him to their ranks.

They are also keen to sign 24-year-old Ajax and Argentina centerback Lisandro Martinez.

WBA Strawweight Champion Seniesa Estrada to Fight Anabel Ortiz in Rematch

Seniesa Estrada is returning to the ring…

After months out of the ring waiting for a fight, the 29-year-old Mexican American boxer and WBA strawweight champion will take on 35-year-old Mexican professional boxer Anabel Ortiz on August 6.

Seniesa EstradaEstrada announced her return on Twitter and will be on the undercard of the Vergil Ortiz Jr.-Michael McKinson fight in Texas.

The fight against Ortiz will be a rematch of her fight on March 20, 2021, when she won the strawweight title in a unanimous decision win over Ortiz in which she knocked the former champion down in the first round and dominated the fight.

Estrada (22-0, 9 KO), ESPN‘s No. 6 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, last fought in December, when she knocked out Maria Micheo Santizo in the fourth round.

This will be Estrada’s second defense of her title.

Ortiz (31-5, 4 KO) has lost her past two fights — by unanimous decision to Estrada, where she lost her title, and then last December to Marlen Esparza in a fight for the WBC flyweight title.

Before her loss to Estrada, Ortiz had a 21-fight win streak dating back to 2012, when she was defeated by Yesica Yolanda Bopp. Four of Ortiz’s five career losses came in world title fights.

Andy Ruiz Returning to Ring to Fight Luis Ortiz in September

Andy Ruiz is returning to the ring…

The 32-year-old Mexican American boxer, a former heavyweight champion, will fight Luis Ortiz on September 4 in Los Angeles, according to ESPN.

Andy RuizThe fight, which ESPN reported was signed in April, will be a PBC on Fox PPV event, sources said.

The fight will be Ruiz’s first in 15 months, and he’ll enter it with a new trainer for the second time in two fights. Ruiz is now training with Alfredo Osuna after he parted ways with Eddy Reynoso, sources said. Reynoso is best known as the trainer of boxing’s top star, Canelo Alvarez.

Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs) became the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent when he defeated Anthony Joshua via seventh-round TKO in June 2019, in a bout that was named ESPN‘s 2019 Upset of the Year. Six months later, Joshua regained his three heavyweight titles with a unanimous-decision victory over Ruiz in Saudi Arabia.

Ruiz admitted he was not in shape when he fought Joshua in the rematch. He weighed a career-high 283.5 pounds and was lethargic during the fight, in stark contrast to the first bout, when he weighed 268 and consistently beat Joshua to the punch with his lightning-quick hands.

The Southern Californian has fought just once since the rematch, a May 2021 decision win over Chris Arreola. Ruiz weighed 256 pounds for that bout but was surprisingly dropped in Round 2 and struggled at times during the first half before he took control.

Ruiz, ESPN’s No. 5 heavyweight, underwent surgery on his right knee in August and will now prepare for just his second fight since he lost his three titles to Joshua.

Ortiz, ESPN’s No. 8 heavyweight, has twice challenged for the WBC heavyweight title, and both times he was knocked out by Deontay Wilder. The 43-year-old was ahead on the scorecards in the November 2019 rematch when Wider scored the spectacular KO.

Since the setback, Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) has fought twice. The 43-year-old scored a first-round KO of journeyman Alexander Flores before he met Charles Martin on New Year’s Day 2022.

Ortiz was floored in the opening round and again in the fourth but rallied for a brutal stoppage in Round 6.

The winner of Ruiz-Ortiz will be in prime position for another heavyweight title shot next year. Tyson Fury holds one title, while Oleksandr Usyk and Joshua will meet in a rematch for three belts on August 20 in Saudi Arabia.

Golden Boy Promotions Reschedules Welterweight Bout Between Vergil Ortiz Jr. & Michael McKinson

Vergil Ortiz Jr.’s next bout is officially (re)scheduled

The 24-year-old Mexican American boxer will fight Michael McKinson in a rescheduled welterweight bout on August 6 in Fort Worth, Texas, according to Golden Boy Promotions.

Vergil Ortiz Jr.It was previously reported that Ortiz and David Avanesyan had agreed to a deal for a fight on the same date, but according to Ortiz’s manager, Rick Mirigian, Avanesyan reneged.

“[Avanesyan] agreed to the contract in writing, both by text and email,” Mirigian, who also manages former champions Jose Ramirez and Joseph Diaz Jr., told ESPN. “Golden Boy accommodated all of his needs to get this done, and then more frivolous demands followed and he backed out. Golden Boy bent over backwards to accommodate him.”

Mirigian said Avanesyan’s team informed Golden Boy they would return the signed contract but never did. That’s when GBP turned its attention back to McKinson.

The Englishman was set to fight Ortiz on March 19 before Ortiz was hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle tissue that releases the damaging protein myoglobin into the blood.

McKinson (22-0, 2 KOs) fought a replacement opponent, Alex Martin, on that same date, and won a unanimous decision to remain undefeated.

“I’m getting what I deserve,” said McKinson. “I was prepared to fight Ortiz Jr. before; now, I have been given the opportunity again to prove I am the best in this division.”

Avanesyan, 33, a hard-punching Russian who now resides in the U.K., appeared to present a far more formidable challenge for Ortiz. Avanesyan scored six straight stoppages since a TKO loss to Egidijus Kavaliauskas in 2018. Most notably, Avanesyan stopped Josh Kelly last year, ending his run as a top prospect.

“There was never a deal signed,” a spokesperson for Queensberry Promotions, which promotes Avanesyan, told ESPN. “It was in discussions but didn’t get that far. The terms offered were not acceptable and changed without agreement in the redraft. We never dealt with his manager, we were dealing with Golden Boy. And we notified the WBC that purse offers were preferable. Avanesyan has never run or avoided anyone and for anyone to suggest that is laughable.”

Ortiz, (18-0, 18 KOs), a Dallas native, is one of boxing’s fastest-rising stars. He’s coming off his best win yet, an eighth-round TKO of Kavaliauskas in August. Ortiz was hurt in Round 2 but rallied to score five knockdowns en route to the finish. The nine-month layoff will be the longest of Ortiz’s career.

“I am very happy to be stepping back into the ring again,” said Ortiz, ESPN‘s No. 4 welterweight. “I’m ready to show the world once again why I’m ready for a world title.”

Liverpool Agrees on Transfer Deal for Benfica Forward Darwin Nunez 

It’s official… Darwin Nunez is Liverpool bound.

Liverpool has agreed on a deal to sign the 22-year-old Uruguayan professional footballer and Benfica forward in a transfer worth up to €100 million, according to ESPN.

Darwin NunezIt was previously reported that both clubs were in advanced talks over a deal, and sources confirmed that Liverpool is set to break the team’s transfer record to sign the striker.

Nunez will sign a five-year contract at Anfield, according to sources, and he has left the Uruguay national team to travel to England to undergo a medical.

Sources have told ESPN that an agreement was reached on Saturday between the two clubs worth €75 million, plus €25 million in add-ons.

Liverpool have seen off competition from Manchester United and Arsenal to land the striker.

According to ESPN sources, Nunez is keen for regular Champions League football, which put Liverpool ahead in the race to sign him.

Nunez, who joined Benfica in September 2020, was the top scorer in Portugal’s top flight last season and added some stellar performances in the Champions League, ending the year with 34 goals in 41 appearances.

The striker began his career at Uruguayan side Penarol before moving to Spanish second-division side Almeria in 2019, where he scored 16 goals in 32 games. Almeria will receive 20% of the profit from Nunez’s transfer.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp praised Nunez after his team’s Champions League quarterfinal clash against Benfica in April, saying that Nunez is “really good and has a big career ahead of him.”

Liverpool FC In Talks to Sign Darwin Nunez from SL Benfica

Darwin Nunez could be heading to England soon…

Liverpool F.C. is in talks with S.L. Benfica  over the signing of the 22-year-old Uruguayan professional footballer, according to ESPN.

Darwin NunezNunez is set to break Liverpool’s transfer record, with the deal expected to be worth around €80 million plus €20m in add-ons. The agreement between the clubs has yet to be completed, but talks are progressing well.

Benfica were initially only willing to negotiate Nunez’s departure for around €130m.

The Uruguay forward, who joined Benfica from Almeria in the summer of 2020 for €24m, is under contract through June 2025 and has a €150m release clause.

Almeria will receive 20% of any profit from Nunez’s transfer.

Nunez attracted the attention of top European clubs after an impressive 2021-22 season in which he scored 34 goals in 41 appearances for Benfica.

Nunez was the top scorer in Portugal’s top flight this past season with 26 goals.

Manchester United and Arsenal had also shown an interest in Nunez, while Premier League champions Manchester City considered signing him if they failed to acquire Erling Haaland.

City signed Haaland from Borussia Dortmund last month for an undisclosed fee.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp had praised Nunez after his team’s Champions League quarterfinal encounter against Benfica, saying that Nunez is “really good and has a big career ahead of him.”

Nunez, who is on international duty with Uruguay, has remained tight-lipped about his future, but chose his strike at Liverpool on April 13 as the best goal of his career.

Dominick Cruz to Fight Marlon Vera in UFC Fight Night in August

Dominick Cruz is heading back to the Octagon this summer…

The 37-year-old Mexican American mixed martial artist, a former two-time UFC bantamweight champion, will face off against Marlon Vera for a UFC Fight Night headliner, according to UFC president Dana White.

Dominick Cruz The bout is scheduled for August 13, and White said the card is expected to take place in San Diego.

ESPN has Vera ranked No. 6 and Cruz ranked No. 10 in the world at bantamweight.

Cruz (24-3) is one of the best bantamweight fighters in MMA history. A San Diego resident, he’s a two-time former UFC bantamweight champion with a total of three title defenses across both reigns.

Cruz has the most bantamweight wins in UFC/WEC history (13). He has won two straight and 15 of 17 overall.

Vera (19-7-1), 29, has won three straight and nine of his past 11. The fighter from Ecuador, who lives and trains in Orange County, California, is coming off a unanimous decision win over Rob Font in April.

He has the most finishes in UFC bantamweight history (9).

Danny Garcia Agrees to Fight Jose Benavidez Jr. in Junior Middleweight Bout

Danny Garcia is preparing to chase down a title in a third weight class.

The 34-year-old Puerto Rican boxer, a former two-division champion, has agreed to fight Jose Benavidez Jr. in a junior middleweight bout on July 30 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, according to ESPN.

Danny GarciaThe PBC on Showtime main event will mark Garcia’s debut at 154 pounds after he captured titles at 140 and 147.

The Philadelphian fighter hasn’t boxed since a December 2020 loss to Errol Spence Jr. in a welterweight title fight. The 19-month layoff is the longest of Garcia’s career.

Garcia (36-3, 21 KOs) was a unified junior welterweight champion who owns wins over Lucas Matthysse, Amir Khan, Zab Judah and Erik Morales. His other two losses came against Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman in 147-pound title fights.

Benavidez (27-1-1, 18 KOs) suffered the lone loss of his pro career in 2018, a 12th-round TKO loss to Terence Crawford in a 147-pound title fight. The 30-year-old from Phoenix has competed only once since then, a November draw with the unheralded Francisco Emanuel Torres.

The brother of former super middleweight champion David Benavidez, Jose was still dealing with the effects of a gunshot wound to his right leg suffered in August 2016 when he fought Crawford.

Ryan Garcia Agrees to Fight Javier Fortuna in July

Ryan Garcia has lined up his next opponent…

The 23-year-old Mexican American boxer and Javier Fortuna have agreed to a deal for a 135-pound fight on July 16 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on DAZN, according to ESPN.

Ryan GarciaGarcia and Fortuna were set to fight last July, but Garcia withdrew to address his mental health. The star boxer was then lined up to fight Joseph Diaz Jr. in November 2021 but was forced to pull out after he suffered a wrist injury that required surgery.

Garcia, who hails from Southern California, finally returned in April with a unanimous-decision win over Emmanuel Tagoe, and was ringside on Saturday in Brooklyn to call out Gervonta Davis after Davis’ sixth-round TKO of Rolando Romero.

“Let me handle business July 16th, I’m going to get Tank,” Garcia (22-0, 18 KOs) tweeted Sunday. “He was screaming the whole fight ‘I’m next,’ so let it be. December, let’s get it.”

But first, Garcia is set for perhaps the toughest assignment of his career, even if Fortuna isn’t on Davis’ level (though Fortuna is ESPN’s No. 10 lightweight). The 33-year-old Dominican boxer shapes up as a second world-class opponent in three fights for Garcia after a seventh-round TKO of Luke Campbell in January 2021.

Fortuna (37-3-1, 26 KOs) possesses a powerful left hand and an aggressive, free-swinging style, but he’s coming off a clear decision defeat to Diaz in July. Fortuna bounced back in February with a stay-busy first-round KO and now lands the fight he’s been lobbying for.

“Ryan Garcia should take this fight very seriously and train properly because he will be facing, by far, the best fighter of his career,” Fortuna said last April before the July 2021 bout was cancelled.

“Hopefully on fight night, there will be no excuses for his loss. … I have too much of everything for Ryan Garcia. His [win over Campbell] showed how easy he is to hit. And his power won’t mean anything to me. But mine will put him to sleep.”

If Garcia, ESPN’s No. 6 lightweight, can push past Fortuna, a fight with “Tank” Davis is among the biggest in all of boxing.