Teofimo Lopez has reportedly locked in his next opponent…
The 25-year-old Honduran American boxer and former lightweight champion has agreed to fight Sandor Martin on December 10 in New York, according to ESPN.
Martin (40-2, 13 KOs) replaces Jose Pedraza, who withdrew from the 140-pound Top Rank on ESPN bout with a non-COVID illness.
Martin, a 29-year-old Spaniard, scored a career-best win last year with a major upset of Mikey Garcia. Martin had never competed outside Europe but traveled to California as a 10-1 underdog to defeat Garcia, a former four-division champion, via majority decision. Garcia announced his retirement afterward.
Now, Martin has parlayed that victory into another career-defining opportunity. He was considered for the Lopez assignment before Pedraza landed the fight, but he remained in training.
A tricky boxer with an impressive jab, Martin will once again be facing long odds.
Lopez (17-1, 13 KOs) was recognized as one of the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters before he dropped a decision to George Kambososlast November in ESPN‘s upset of the year. It was later revealed that Lopez fought Kambosos with a slight esophageal tear.
Lopez, who fights out of Las Vegas, returned from his first defeat in August with a seventh-round TKO over Pedro Campain his 140-pound debut. His 135-pound campaign included a victory over Vasiliy Lomachenkoto capture the undisputed lightweight championship.
This will be Lopez’s third fight following ESPN’s annual coverage of the Heisman Trophy presentation. He’s rated No. 9 at junior welterweight.
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.
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.
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.
The 33-year-old Mexican boxer and former four-division champion is in advanced talks to take on ex-titleholder Regis Prograis for a fall clash at 140 pounds, according to both fighters and promoter Eddie Hearn.
If a deal is completed, the bout would take place in the U.S., and be streamed on DAZN.
Garcia is one of the most accomplished active fighters in boxing with titles claimed at 126 pounds, 130, 135 and 140. He attempted to win a title at 147 pounds but dropped a decision to Errol Spence Jr. in his lone pro defeat. His last fight also was contested at 147 pounds, a decision victory over Jessie Vargas in February 2020.
Formerly recognized by ESPN as one of the top 10 pound-for-pound boxers in the world, Garcia is a proven box-office draw in Southern California and Texas, where he has headlined numerous times.
“I definitely feel better at 140 (pounds), the only reason I was trying to be at 147 was for a title fight, but since we couldn’t secure a fight with Manny (Pacquiao), there was no reason to stay there,” Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs) told ESPN. “But I’ve pretty much made my decision to campaign at ’40 for the next matchup.
“I think it’s a great matchup for a few reasons being that he’s an aggressive fighter, he’s accomplished, former world champion and he’s also hungry to regain that position and have a big victory. I want to get back, I want to do big things, I want to be able to challenge for a world title again and be a world champion so I think those are the elements that make it a great matchup.”
Prograis, 32, dropped his 140-pound title to Josh Taylor (currently the undisputed champion and ESPN’s No. 7 fighter pound-for-pound) in a thrilling scrap in October 2019. Taylor narrowly earned the decision in London and went on to win two more titles from Jose Ramirez in May.
Prograis, meanwhile, stayed busy with stoppage victories over Juan Heraldez and Ivan Redkach while he hoped to gain another crack at Taylor.
“I think it’s the biggest fight at 140,” Prograis (26-1, 22 KOs) told ESPN. “He has a big name; I have a big name right now. All sides want it. Sometimes one side don’t want it and the other side tries to push it. But with me and Mikey, I want it, he wants it. I talked to his brother (trainer Robert Garcia) on FaceTime; he wants it.
“I think it’s going to be a huge, huge fight. I do want to fight the best; I’ve been telling you I want to be a champion again. If I can’t get Josh Taylor, I think Mikey is bigger than anybody right now.”
Prograis has missed the weight limit in both of his past two fights, weighing in at 141 pounds for a fight against Heraldez contracted at 140 and 143 for a bout with Redkach contracted at 142.
“Rougarou” said he’ll be hiring a nutritionist for his next training camp after trying to “do everything by myself. I know I need professional help.”
“I grew up in New Orleans, I was raised eating a lot of (expletive),” Prograis said. “Very, very bad food habits. It takes a long time to break a bad habit.”
Recently, Prograis has been training with legendary fighter Roy Jones Jr., in Pensacola, Florida, though Jones won’t be part of his team during training camp or on fight night. Bobby Benton trains Prograis in Houston.
Garcia, meanwhile, is trained by his brother, former champion Robert Garcia, in Oxnard, California, and is anxious to return to the ring.
“I’ve been off for a little over a year now, a year and a half,” Garcia said. “It’s a good fight to get that return and not many good fights, good matchups get done. I think this is one that can get done.”
The bout between the 32-year-old Puerto Rican boxer, a and former two-division titleholder, and unified welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr. will now take place on December 5 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
This event, which had been scheduled for Nov. 21 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, will have fans in attendance. At the time, holds were put on other venues around the country in hopes that the fight could be moved somewhere with a live audience.
“Every time Spence fights in front of his hometown fans, it is an unforgettable and energetic evening,” said Tom Brown, president of TGB Promotions, who is staging the card. “We’re excited to be able to bring those fans this great matchup.”
In March 2019, Spence — a native of DeSoto, Texas — defeated Mikey Garcia in the same venue in front of more than 47,000 fans.
Spence, who suffered a serious one-car crash a year ago, said fighting in front of his hometown fans adds some extra motivation.
“It means even more because I’m going up against a great champion in Danny Garcia,” Spence said. “I know people are looking out to see if I’ve lost a step or won’t be at my best, but I’m 100% focused and everything is on point in training camp. I just can’t wait to go out there … and put on a show.”
Garcia was the unified and lineal junior lightweight champion before moving up to welterweight, where he won the WBC title against Robert Guerrero in 2016. In his most recent fight, Garcia defeated Ivan Redkach by decision in January.
“This matchup is a megafight unification bout,” Garcia said. “It’s my opportunity to reclaim my spot at the top in this division and become a five-time world champion. Training and sparring has been going really well. I’m extremely prepared for this already, and it can’t get here soon enough.”
The pay-per-view card includes Sebastian Fundora vs. Jorge Cota in a junior middleweight bout, a welterweight battle between Josesito Lopez and Francisco Santana, and Julio Ceja vs. Eduardo Ramirez in a featherweight bout.
This event will have tickets sold in seating “pods” to maintain social distancing and follow other coronavirus guidelines. All in attendance must wear masks, according to the promoters.
Roman Gonzalez is once again a world title holder…
The 32-year-old Nicaraguan professional boxer, known by his nickname “Chocolatito,” dominated Kal Yafai en route to a ninth-round demolition to take his junior bantamweight world title in the co-feature of the Mikey Garcia–Jessie Vargas card on Saturday night at The Ford Center at The Star, the training facility of the Dallas Cowboys.
As an up-and-coming fighter, Yafai, who was making his sixth title defense and in the biggest fight of his career, idolized Gonzalez. He watched his fights and even traveled to them when he could. And now he can say he was battered by Gonzalez, who won a 115-pound world title for the second time and added to an already impressive legacy.
Gonzalez (49-2, 41 KOs), who has won world titles at strawweight, junior flyweight, flyweight and junior bantamweight, hadn’t been in the spotlight for the past couple of years following a pair of losses to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2017, some lower-profile bouts and a 15-month layoff caused by a knee injury that required surgery.
But after getting healthy and winning a tune-up fight in Japan in December, he was ready to challenge Yafai for the title, and he dominated.
“I have God’s strength, and God gave me this title back,” Gonzalez said through an interpreter. “Everyone has the same blessing I got tonight. I always ask God for a blessing. I have a good team around me that brought me back. I thank Mr. [Akihiko] Honda, [of Teiken Promotions],Eddie Hearn and DAZN. They gave me the opportunity to once again become a world champion.”
Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez will get the chance to earn another title…
The 32-year-old Nicaraguan professional boxer, the first boxer from Nicaragua to win world titles in four weight classes,will challenge junior bantamweight world titlist Kal Yafai on February 29 (DAZN) at the Ford Center at The Star, the Dallas Cowboys training facility in Frisco, Texas, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has announced.
The fight will be on the card headlined by the previously announced Mikey Garcia–Jessie Vargaswelterweight fight.
The WBAissued a resolution on Tuesday that cleared the way for the fight, which interim titlist and mandatory challenger Andrew Moloneyobjected to and had attorney Pat Englishwrite to the sanctioning body to assert his rights. He knocked out Miguel Gonzalezin March in an official eliminator, which the WBA had ruled would give the winner the next shot at Yafai following a defense against Norbelto Jimenez, whom he easily outpointed in June, no later than March 22.
However, the WBA ignored that ruling in its resolution ultimately writing “the WBA has express authority to modify applicable defense periods and otherwise suspend application of various rules under a special permit. Yafai’s special permit request is conditionally granted subject to his compliance with all other WBA rules, regulations, payment of all applicable fees and the following condition: The winner of Yafai/Gonzalez, or Yafai if a draw, must face Moloney as a mandatory defense within 120 days of said bout.”
English wrote back to the WBA to protest the decision, explaining that Moloney (21-0, 14 KOs), 29, of Australia, had twice turned down offers to challenge IBF titlist Jerwin Ancajasas well as a title eliminator in another organization because of his loyalty to the WBA, for whom he has fought in numerous regional title bouts as well as the title eliminator.
“This application (for Yafai-Gonzalez) has no merit whatsoever,” English wrote to the WBA. “It asks the WBA to violate solemn commitments to Mr. Moloney, both written and verbal. It would injure Mr. Moloney, a fighter who showed his loyalty to the WBA by turning down title bouts and elimination bouts in other organizations. If granted it would make a mockery of the mandatory system. It would be an insult to a country whose sole boxing champion is Andrew Moloney at a time when Australia is beset by terrible tragedy due to unprecedented wildfires. Further, the bout which is requested by Matchroom is an undercard bout, not a bout of ‘great significance’ to the boxing world.
“For these reasons, as well as the reasons set forth in this letter the application of Matchroom should and must be denied.”
Yafai is excited to get a fight with the biggest name in the division in Gonzalez, a lock as a future Hall of Famer.
“I wanted the biggest possible fight available and after the Juan Francisco Estradaunification fell through, I had the opportunity to fight ‘Chocolatito,’ the former pound for pound king,” Yafai said. “Chocolatito is someone that I have idolized as I worked my way up to become world champion myself, so it doesn’t get much bigger than this and it will bring out the best in me. I can’t wait, it is a case of when idols become rivals and I am so honored to share the ring with him but also show the world that I am an elite world champion.”
Yafai (26-0, 15 KOs), 30, of England, will be making the sixth defense of his 115-pound belt and second in a row — and third in his past four — in the United States. He was initially was going to face Estrada in early 2020 to unify 115-pound world titles but that was delayed because Estrada is sidelined with a hand injury.
That opened the door for Gonzalez (48-2, 40 KOs), who has won world titles at strawweight, junior flyweight, flyweight and junior bantamweight.
A knee injury that required surgery kept Gonzalez out of the ring for 15 months, but he returned on Dec. 23 in Japan and notched a second-round knockout of Diomel Diocos to shake off the rust and put himself in position for another shot at a junior bantamweight world title.
“God has responded to my prayers once again. I want to thank God and (promoter) Teiken foremost. Also, the champion, Kal Yafai for giving me the opportunity to fight for the championship once again,” Gonzalez said. “I know this will be a very hard fight, but it will be worthy of all our efforts and determination.”
Said Hearn: “This is a brilliant fight on an absolute monster of a show. Kal Yafai has been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time, and now he gets it against a legend of the sport in ‘Chocolatito.’ This card in Texas is going to be epic and you can expect Yafai versus ‘Chocolatito’ to be an all-out war.”
The card will also feature another world title bout that was previously announced. Newly crowned flyweight titlist Julio Cesar Martinez(15-1, 12 KOs), 26, of Mexico, who won the belt on December 20, will make his first defense against European champion Jay Harris(17-0, 9 KOs), 29, of Wales.
It’s gloves on for David Benavidez in an effort to reclaim hisbelt…
The 22-year-old Mexican American boxer and former WBC titlist is set to fight super middleweight world titleholder Anthony Dirrell in a bout mandated by the World Boxing Council.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman announced the decision Monday at a news conference in Istanbul, as the organization clarified its position on its 168-pound belt.
Sampson Lewkowicz, who promotes Benavidez, told ESPN that the fight with Dirrell has been agreed to and would take place in August or September.
Sulaiman had been weighing a request from contender Avni Yildirim for an immediate rematch with Dirrell. Benavidez had been due to make a mandatory defense against Dirrell last fall but was stripped of the title when he tested positive for cocaine. He served a suspension and returned to impressively knock out J’Leon Lovein the second round March 16 on the Errol Spence Jr.-Mikey Garciaundercard.
But with the title vacant — the WBC had declared Benavidez its “champion in recess” — Dirrell faced Yildirim for the vacant belt February 23 in Minneapolis, where Dirrell won a 10th-round technical decision in a close, action-packed bout. The fight had been stopped and sent to the scorecards because Dirrell suffered a bad cut over his left eye in the seventh round. By the 10th round, it had gotten worse and Dirrell was ruled unable to continue.
Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs), 27, of Turkey, and his promoter, Ahmet Oener, flew to Mexico City to meet with Sulaiman late last month to make their case for an immediate rematch. The WBC decided against it, but in ordering Dirrell-Benavidez, Sulaiman said Yildirim could return to fight on the Dirrell-Benavidez undercard and that he would get a mandatory shot against the winner of the fight (as long as Yildirim won the interim bout).
“I am very proud of these three fighters,” Sulaiman said. “Dirrell is a two-time WBC champion who has overcome adversity and defeated cancer; Benavidez is a young man who has come back from the evils of recreational drugs and has found a path for a new life; and Yildirim is a national hero hoping to become the first world champion from Turkey, who has dedicated his life with sacrifice and passion to make his dream come true.
“This is what boxing is all about — the best fighting the best and I applaud the three sides for working together in this process.”
Dirrell (33-1-1, 24 KOs), 34, of Flint, Michigan, said he was pleased by Sulaiman’s decision and hopes to face Benavidez when he is able to return to the ring once his cut fully heals.
“I think it’s a big fight for boxing and for the super middleweight division,” Dirrell told ESPN on Monday. “It’s two of the top guys going against each other.”
After Benavidez (21-0, 18 KOs), 22, of Phoenix, knocked out Love he made it clear he wanted to next fight Dirrell, who was ringside, in order to reclaim the belt he had been stripped of.
“I saw Anthony Dirrell with the WBC belt. He can’t call himself champion until he fights me,” Benavidez said in the ring at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, two weeks ago. “That’s my belt. I’m going to go get it. It’s mine.”
Dirrell said Benavidez had simply done to Love what was expected and that he looked forward to fighting him later this year.
“He did what he was supposed to do. All due respect to him, I think he was supposed to get him out of there,” Dirrell said. “They consider [Benavidez] one of the best so why not fight the best?”