Jessica Nery Plata Defeats Kim Clavel to Unify WBA/WBC Junior Flyweight Titles

Jessica Nery Plata is a unified champion…

In the first major women’s bout of the new year, the 28-year-old Mexican professional boxer – who entered Friday’s fight as the WBA junior flyweight champion – is the unified champion after beating WBC titleholder Kim Clavel by unanimous decision.

Jessica Nery PlataTwo judges scored it 97-93 and a third had it 96-94 after a fast-paced fight that had urgency in all 10 rounds.

Nery Plata (29-2, 3 KO) showed early on in Place Bell in Laval, Canada, that she would be willing to stand in and trade punches with Clavel. And it was her punches that did the most damage throughout the fight.

Nery Plata forced bleeding from Clavel’s nose in the fifth round and continued to reopen the bleeding on Clavel’s face throughout the latter half of the fight. Clavel’s face was swollen by the end of the fight. Nery Plata landed the more effective body shots as well.

Clavel (16-1, 3 KO) kept almost every round close, but Nery Plata seemed to often close each round with the stronger and more effective combinations, particularly using her right jab to set up everything else she was attempting to throw.

Nery Plata consistently caused more issues, including in the final round, when it looked like Nery Plata might have stunned Clavel as the two were exchanging punches in the center of the ring.

It was the eighth straight win for Nery Plata and first defense of the WBA title she won in March 2022, when she defeated Yesica Yolanda Bopp in Panama. It’s also the second straight fight Nery Plata has fought outside of her native Mexico, where she fought the first 29 fights of her professional career.

Nery Plata is the only current titleholder in the division; the WBO and IBF titles won by Yokasta Valle in November when she beat Evelin Bermudez have been vacated.

It was the first professional loss for Clavel, 32, who was making the first defense of her WBC title she won by defeating Yesenia Gomez last July.

Seniesa Estrada to Fight Tina Rupprecht in March

Seniesa Estrada is headed back to the ring…

The 30-year-old Mexican American professional boxer and WBA strawweight champion will make her first appearance of 2023 when she fights in a unification bout against WBC champion Tina Rupprecht, according to ESPN.

Seniesa EstradaThe fight is expected to take place in the United States with a targeted date of March 25 as a co-feature fight, according to ESPN.

It will be Estrada’s second fight for promoter Top Rank after splitting with Golden Boy Promotions last year. She last fought in November — after an 11-month layoff — beating Jazmin Gala Villarino by unanimous decision.

Estrada (23-0, 9 KOs) will be making the third defense of her WBA strawweight title, which she won by defeating Anabel Ortiz in March 2021. Estrada, ESPN’s No. 8 pound-for-pound fighter and No. 1 strawweight, has also held the WBO junior flyweight title and the WBA interim flyweight title.

Rupprecht (12-0-1, 3 KOs) defeated Rocio Gaspar by unanimous decision on December 10. She has held the WBC title since 2018, and before that, the interim WBC crown. This will be the fifth defense of her non-interim world title.

Rupprecht’s best win came against current IBF and WBO strawweight titleholder Yokasta Valle by unanimous decision for the interim WBC title in 2018.

This would be the second time Rupprecht has fought outside her native Germany as a pro and the first time in the United States. She defeated Yana Denisova in Russia in 2016.

Amanda Serrano to Face Erika Cruz in Undisputed Featherweight Title Bout

Amanda Serrano will be fighting for undisputed status in February…

The 34-year-old Puerto Rican professional boxer, mixed martial artist and professional wrestler, the current IBF, WBC and WBO featherweight titleholder, will face WBA champion Erika Cruz in an undisputed featherweight title fight, according to ESPN.

Amanda SerranoThe fight between Serrano and Cruz will headline a card on February 4 at the Hulu Theater in New York City.

If Serrano wins, it will be the first time the seven-division titleholder would be an undisputed champion in a division, and she would be the first Puerto Rican undisputed champ, male or female.

Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KO) was last in the ring in September, when she beat Sarah Mahfoud by unanimous decision to win the IBF featherweight title. Serrano is ESPN’s No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter.

She fought twice last year, against Mahfoud and Katie Taylor, a split-decision loss at the big room of Madison Square Garden in what was named ESPN‘s women’s fight of the year in 2022.

Cruz (15-1, 3 KO), 35, won the WBA belt in April, 2021, when she beat Jelena Mrdjenovich by technical decision.

She since defended the title twice, beating Melissa Esquivel by split decision in 2021 and Mrdjenovich by unanimous decision in a rematch in September. Cruz suffered her only loss in 2016, a majority decision loss to Alondra Gonzalez Flores in a four-round fight in Cruz’s second career fight.

For all of Serrano’s accomplishments – and there have been many since she began fighting professionally in 2009 – she has never become an undisputed four-belt champion, something she would become should she beat Cruz.

This could be the beginning of a big year for Serrano, who has said she would like to face Katie Taylor in a rematch of an April fight that saw Taylor win a split decision over Serrano for Taylor’s undisputed lightweight titles.

But first, Serrano said, she knew she wanted to fight Cruz.

“After Cruz,” Serrano told ESPN recently. “It’s a great storyline. Undisputed versus undisputed champion, and of course it’s a different weight class, but it is what it is. The first fight was great, and I think the second fight would be even better.”

Serrano said she would go up to lightweight to fight Taylor a second time should that fight happen.

ESPN previously reported Ramla Ali is also expected to fight on the February 4 card.

Jeremias Ponce to Make U.S. Debut in Bout for Vacant IBF Junior Welterweight Title

Jeremias Ponce is ready to rumble on American soil for the first time…

In his U.S. debut, the 26-year-old Argentine boxer will fight Subriel Matias for the vacant IBF junior welterweight title on the PBC on the Showtime undercard, sources said.

Jeremias PoncePonce and Matias will face off against each other on February 11 at The Alamodome in San Antonio, according to ESPN.

Ponce is currently 30-0 with 20 Kos.

Matias (18-1, 18 KOs) avenged his lone professional defeat in January with a ninth-round TKO of Petros Ananyan. The 30-year-old volume puncher from Puerto Rico is ESPN’s No. 9 boxer at 140 pounds.

The IBF title is one of three Josh Taylor vacated to proceed with his March 4 rematch vs. Jack Catterall.

Luis Alberto Lopez Defeats Josh Warrington to Claim IBF World Featherweight Title

Luis Alberto Lopez is a world champion…

The 29-year-old Mexican professional boxer defeated Josh Warrington on Saturday to claim his IBF world featherweight title by majority decision.

Luis Alberto Lopez, El VenadoLopez did most of his best work in the first eight rounds, and despite a strong finish by Warrington, Lopez won by scores of 114-114, 115-113 and 115-113 at First Direct Arena in Leeds, England.

Warrington’s home crowd was silenced by the decision after he was beaten again by a Mexican boxer; Mauricio Lara stopped him in February 2021.

“This is my moment; it comes from hard work over a long boxing career,” said Lopez, who won the belt in his first world title fight.

Warrington lost the IBF belt in a first defense of his second reign as champion.

“I started off slow, but after four or five rounds, I did some good work inside,” Warrington said. “For the last three rounds, body shots were ripping into him and all he wanted to do was hold. I’m devastated to lose my title like that. I still think I can have a big fight with one of the champions.”

Lopez (27-2, 15 KOs), known as “El Venado,” boxed immaculately at times, and the angles he threw shots from caused problems for Warrington.

After the fight, Lopez complained about Warrington’s fouling. He said he was hit on the back of his leg and was cut by a clash of heads in the second round, but he managed to retain his composure under pressure in the later rounds.

Lopez, who registered two stoppage wins earlier this year after traveling to the United Kingdom to defeat Isaac Lowe by seventh-round KO a year ago, made an aggressive start on the front foot and Warrington ended the first round with a bloody nose. Lopez launched unpredictable jabs amid a bright start but then suffered a cut by his left eye from an accidental clash of heads.

Lopez, whose corner did a good job on the cut, delivered a thudding left body shot in the third round, but Warrington mustered a quick response with a right hook. Warrington opted to fight at close range in the fifth round, and in the sixth he had some success as Lopez’s work rate dipped. But the Mexican was still very much in the fight and benefited from Warrington failing to establish his jab throughout.

Lopez landed a leaping left hook and uppercut in the eighth round, but the ninth belonged to Warrington, who was aggressive and landed his hooks. Warrington was busy again in the 10th and 11th rounds as Lopez looked ragged and was caught by the English boxer’s hooks. When Warrington caught Lopez with a left hook in the 11th round, the Mexican looked in trouble momentarily.

Both fought ferociously in the last round as they looked to secure a stoppage with the fight seemingly close on points.

David Benavidez Agrees to Fight Caleb Plant in Early 2023

David Benavidez is headed back to the ring for a highly anticipated bout…

The 25-year-old Mexican and Ecuadorian American boxer and Caleb Plant, both former super middleweight titleholders, have announced that they’ve struck a deal for a long-awaited fight.

David BenavidezThe 168-pound bout will be presented by Premier Boxing Champions on pay-per-view in the first quarter of 2023, according to ESPN.

Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) and Plant (22-1, 13 KOs) have circled each other for years with plenty of barbs in both directions. Besides a genuine grudge, Benavidez-Plant is a fascinating clash of styles.

Benavidez is a volume-punching pressure fighter who’s been among boxing’s most avoided fighters.

Plant, 30, is a stick-and-move boxer whose only defeat came last November in an 11th-round TKO loss to Canelo Alvarez, the undisputed super middleweight champion.

But after Alvarez, Benavidez and Plant are widely considered the two best fighters who campaign at 168 pounds (Benavidez is ESPN’s No. 2 super middleweight; Plant is No. 3).

“You can’t hide from me anymore, I’ll see you soon,” Benavidez wrote on Instagram.

“I went and made it happen,” Plant wrote. “Contract signed. See you early next year.”

Benavidez was slated to meet Jose Uzcategui in January before the fight was scrapped. The Phoenix-born boxer twice held a super middleweight title but both times lost his belt outside the ring.

First, a positive test for cocaine in 2018 led to him being stripped. Benavidez regained the title with a ninth-round KO of Anthony Dirrell in 2019 but was forced to relinquish his belt the following year when he failed to make weight.

Most recently, Benavidez scored a third-round TKO of former middleweight titleholder David Lemieux in May.

Plant, who fights out of Las Vegas, won the IBF super middleweight title in 2019 with a unanimous decision victory over Uzcategui. He made three successful defenses before he lost the belt in the undisputed championship fight against Alvarez.

Plant rebounded last month with a spectacular ninth-round KO of Dirrell.

WBA Orders Amanda Serrano to Fight Erika Cruz for Undisputed Featherweight Title

Amanda Serrano has received her orders…

The WBA has ordered a fight between the 34-year-old Puerto Rican professional boxer, mixed martial artist and professional wrestler and Erika Cruz for the undisputed featherweight title, according to the organization’s Twitter account.

Amanda SerranoThe sides will have 30 days to close a deal before a purse bid is ordered.

Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KOs) holds the WBO, WBA and IBF titles at 126 pounds while Cruz (15-1, 3 KOs) holds the WBA version.

Serrano met Katie Taylor in the biggest boxing match in women’s history in April and dropped a split decision. That fight was at 135 pounds for the undisputed lightweight championship. Afterward, Serrano returned to 126 pounds and successfully defended her three titles with a unanimous-decision victory over Sarah Mahfoud in September.

Cruz, 32, won the featherweight title in 2021 with a technical decision over Jelena Mrdjenovich and has made two defenses. Most recently, she scored a shutout decision over Mrdjenovich in a September rematch.

Serrano is ESPN’s No. 1 featherweight and No. 3 pound-for-pound boxer. Cruz is No. 2 at 126 pounds.

Taylor retained her lightweight championship on Saturday with a unanimous-decision over Karen Elizabeth Carbajal and called for a rematch with Serrano next year in Taylor’s native Ireland.

Brian Castano’s Undisputed Junior Middleweight Championship Fight Against Jermell Charlo Rescheduled for May

There’s a new date for Brian Castano’s next bout…

The rematch between the 32-year-old Argentine professional boxer and Jermell Charlo for the undisputed junior middleweight championship has been rescheduled for May 14 on Showtime, according to ESPN.

Brian Castaño,

The 154-pound bout for all four titles was set for March 19 in Los Angeles but was postponed after Castano (17-0-2, 12 KOs) sustained a minor right biceps tear.

The injury, sources said, occurred last month when Castano was accidently elbowed in the arm by junior middleweight Terrell Gausha.

Castano will resume sparring in approximately two weeks, his manager, Sebastian Contoursi, told ESPN.

Gausha was preparing for a fight with Tim Tszyu, the son of Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu, on the undercard. The WBO called for Castano to defend his title against mandatory challenger Tszyu rather than face Charlo (34-1-1, 18 KOs) after the postponement, but PBC was able to appease the Australian and the Puerto Rico-based organization with an impromptu March 26 Showtime card in Minneapolis headlined by Tszyu-Gausha, sources said.

PBC also had to satisfy Main Events, which promotes Bakhram Murtazaliev, the mandatory challenger to Charlo’s IBF title. Murtazaliev will once again receive step-aside money to allow Charlo to compete in a more meaningful fight, sources said.

The WBO pushed for Charlo-Castano to take place no later than April 30, but the boxing schedule is stacked from April 16 through May 7; May 14 was the earliest viable date. The organization finally approved the title fight late Thursday evening.

The rematch was set to take place at Los Angeles’ Crypto.com Arena, but with multiple NBA teams and an NHL team that could potentially have playoff games, there’s no location finalized at this time.

When Charlo and Castano first met in July, they produced an exhilarating fight worthy of the undisputed championship. Castano appeared to deserve the decision but was forced to settle for a draw in a highly controversial verdict.

One judge scored the fight for Castano, 114-113, while another turned in a puzzling 117-111 scorecard for Charlo. A third judge scored it 114-114.

Charlo is 1-0 in rematches. The 31-year-old Texan’s only pro defeat came via disputed decision against Tony Harrison in 2018. One year later, Charlo exacted revenge with an 11th-round KO. The twin brother of middleweight champion Jermall Charlo, Jermell is ESPN’s No. 2 junior middleweight.

Castano, who is training in Southern California but resides in Argentine, won the title with a unanimous-decision victory over Patrick Teixeira in February 2021. ESPN’s No. 1 junior middleweight also drew with Erislandly Lara in one of the best fights of 2019.

Yordenis Ugas to Face Errol Spence in Welterweight Three-Belt Unification Bout

It’s official… Yordenis Ugas is readying for a three-belt unification bout…

The 35-year-old Cuban professional boxer, who has held the WBA welterweight title since January 2021, and Errol Spence will unify welterweight titles on April 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Spence announced on social media.

Yordenis Ugas,The bout will be Spence’s third at the home of the Dallas Cowboys; he defeated Mikey Garcia and Danny Garcia (no relation) at the venue in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The deal was being finalized in December, as previously reported, but the fight wasn’t announced until two months later as Premier Boxing Champions officials sought to lock in a date and venue.

Spence, who will put his WBC and IBF titles on the line, will be making his second comeback from serious injury. The 31-year-old boxer was involved in a single-car accident in October 2019 that hospitalized him for days and sidelined him for months. A planned August 2021 fight with Manny Pacquiao was derailed after he underwent surgery to repair a detached retina.

Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs) stepped in on 11 days’ notice and scored the upset of Pacquiao via unanimous decision. Now, Ugas will defend his WBA title in a three-belt unification.

The 35-year-old Cuban and Spence have one common opponent: Shawn Porter. Spence defeated Porter in a brutal September 2019 fight via split decision. Six months earlier, Ugas dropped a controversial split-decision to Porter.

Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) is rated No. 2 at 147 pounds by ESPN; Ugas is one spot behind. Terence Crawford, who holds the other welterweight title, is No. 1.

A fight between the winner of Spence-Ugas and Crawford would crown an undisputed welterweight champion, but there remains a roadblock. Eimantas Stanionis stepped aside from his mandatory title shot against Ugas to allow him to fight Spence. Stanionsis will fight Radzhab Butaev on the undercard, sources told ESPN. Both are rated in ESPN’s top 10 at welterweight.

Kiko Martinez to Reportedly Fight Josh Warrington in March

Kiko Martinez it preparing for a massive rematch…

The 35-year-old Spanish professional boxer, who has held the IBF featherweight title since November 2021, will fight Josh Warrington for a featherweight title on March 26 in England, according to ESPN sources.

Kiko Martinez

The rematch is one of two 126-pound title bouts Matchroom Boxing‘s Eddie Hearn will promote on DAZN in the U.K. that month. On March 12, Leigh Wood defends his title against Michael Conlan.

The pair of bouts could lead to a unification later in the year.

Martinez (43-10-2, 30 KOs) scored a highlight-reel sixth-round TKO of Kid Galahad in November in one of the year’s biggest upsets.

When they met in 2017, Warrington (30-1-1, 7 KOs) scored a majority decision victory over Martinez. The fighters were moving in different directions; Warrington, an Englishman, went on to win a featherweight title and scored wins over Carl Frampton, Galahad and Lee Selby. Martinez, meanwhile, suffered losses to Gary Russell Jr., and Zelfa Barrett.

But the 2021 campaign drastically altered their trajectories. Warrington, 31, suffered a stunning ninth-round TKO loss to Mauricio Lara in February in a brutal beating before the September rematch ended in a technical draw after two rounds due to an accidental clash of heads that left Lara with a gruesome cut.

Martinez was an afterthought heading into this bout with Galahad, but the 8-1 underdog scored the biggest win of career at 35.

Now Martinez and Warrington will meet again, and surprisingly, it’s the elder man who has the title and all the momentum.