The Ring15:27
The Bible of Boxing

 
 
1. Dougies Friday mailbag (Ryan Garcia, Wilfred Benitez, Deontay Wilder, Gerry Cooney)15:00[−]

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

Hi Dougie,

I hope you and yours are well? I just wanted your thoughts on some potential matchups at Lightweight.

I’ve read that negotiations are underway for Luke Campbell v Ryan Garcia, to become Devin Haney’s mandatory. Following this news, it seems a few fans are now accusing Ryan of ducking Loma because he didn’t accept the WBO eliminator against Tagoe. I think Ryan is stuck between a rock and a hard place because, if he’d took the Tagoe fight, other fans would accuse him of taking the easier (on paper at least) option to become a mandatory, and thus ducking Campbell and a possible future fight with Haney. Personally, I just want to see him face a legit top contender, which Campbell is.

I would like to see the Loma-Garcia fight further down the road because, I think Garcia needs a couple of acid tests to prepare for a fight of that magnitude. Campbell and Haney would be that acid test. If he were to come through those, he would be a worthy opponent for Loma, assuming Loma was still a champion at this point.

Haney is still a bit of an unknown as, like Garcia, his resume is lacking top 10 names. For that reason, although I’d like to see Garcia-Loma in the future, I favour Luke over Ryan and Devin at this point. Some would say that is just being an, “insufferable tribal nationalist,” but hear my logic. As you know, Campbell has failed in both attempts at a title but, both attempts were against Ring champs who were the consensus number 1 at the time. Luke was competitive in both fights and was very close to against Jorge. So for me, he proved he belongs at the top level. Those experiences will have benefited Luke tremendously, and are experiences Ryan and Devin are yet to have. For that reason, Luke has to be seen as the favourite, in my opinion.

Keep up the good work. Chris M., UK

Thanks, Chris. Viewing Campbell as the favorite against Haney and Garcia is a fair opinion. The English veteran is an Olympic gold medalist with a disciplined technical southpaw style and world-class pro experience to back it up. Hes also a tough cookie. Campbell has proven more in his losses to Lomachenko and Linares than the young guns have in all of their pro bouts combined. And one has to figure that if Campbell can win rounds against Linares and Lomachenko, he can win A LOT of rounds against Ryan and Devin. However, you can also look at how he was bothered by the sheer athleticism of the Venezuelan and Ukrainian stars, and figure that the natural talents of Garcia and Haney give them a good shot at beating him.

Hey, I dont really care to come up with odds, I just want to see these types of fights because its high time that Haney, The Rings No. 2-rated lightweight, and Garcia, The Rings No. 5-rated 135 pounder, fought a fellow Ring-ranked contender. They both need the challenge to know how good they really are (and Garcia needs it to know how much money to demand from his promoter/platform).

Im hoping we get more clarity in the 135-pound division with the help of the WBC (and WBO) mandated fights and with the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Teofimo Lopez showdown looking like its FINALLY got a date and location (Oct. 3 in Las Vegas). I love it! Weve got a Ring champion vs. The Rings No. 1-rated lightweight with Loma-Lopez (along with the WBA, WBO and IBF titles on the line). Weve got The Rings Nos. 7 and 8 lightweight clashing with the Jorge Linares (8)-Javier Fortuna (7) fight on Aug. 22 in Indio, California. And, hopefully, well get Nos. 4 and 5 in the ring together with Campbell (4)-Garcia at some point this year. Haney vs. the winners of either WBC eliminator would be must-see TV.

I’ve read that negotiations are underway for Luke Campbell v Ryan Garcia, to become Devin Haney’s mandatory. Lets hope thats the case. Garcia hasnt been a happy camper in regard to his relationship with Golden Boy Promotions in recent months. Lets keep our fingers crossed for cooler heads prevail and we see Garcia back in the ring (vs. Campbell or another top-rated lightweight) as soon as possible.

Following this news, it seems a few fans are now accusing Ryan of ducking Loma because he didn’t accept the WBO eliminator against Tagoe. OK, for starters, Lomas dance card is filled at the moment and hell have his wizardly hands full with Lopez. Those fans claiming Garcia is ducking are getting ahead of themselves. Even if Garcia fought and beat Tagoe to assume mandatory challenger status with the WBO, it doesnt mean hed be ready for Lomachenko. Hes developing at a rapid rate under Eddy Reynosos guidance, but hes still a work in progress. Like you, I dont think that particular matchup should be rushed.

I think Ryan is stuck between a rock and a hard place because, if he’d took the Tagoe fight, other fans would accuse him of taking the easier (on paper at least) option to become a mandatory, and thus ducking Campbell and a possible future fight with Haney. Some fans are nuts. (#Salty nuts to be specific.) A fighter isnt always ducking when he choses one opponent over another. If Garcia fought Emmanuel Tagoe (The Rings No. 9-rated lightweight, WBC No. 8 and WBO No. 3) the Ghanaian veteran would still be a significant step up in competition. Tagoe is as strong and tough as weve come to expect from fighters out of Accra, plus hes kind of cagey. Hes got his own version of the shoulder roll and a slightly off-beat rhythm. Tagoe has been fighting 12-round bouts since 2009 (and hes gone that distance eight times) so if he can take Garcia into deep water he could seriously test the young man. The only thing that concerns me about Tagoe is his inactivity. He hasnt fought since last July.

Personally, I just want to see him face a legit top contender, which Campbell is. Campbell is the top choice to be sure. Garcia could make a HUGE statement if he can beat the Englishman, especially if he could do so inside the distance.

I would like to see the Loma-Garcia fight further down the road because, I think Garcia needs a couple of acid tests to prepare for a fight of that magnitude. Campbell and Haney would be that acid test. Id be totally cool with Garcia going straight to Haney (although I admit that wouldnt be fair to Campbell).

If he were to come through those, he would be a worthy opponent for Loma, assuming Loma was still a champion at this point. Team Lopez would tell you not to count your eggs before theyve hatched.

THE FIFTH KING

Hi Dougie,

Hope you and your family are well. Props for providing the mailbags for all these years, I really do look forward to them.

I wanted to ask your view as to why Wilfred Benitez isn’t mentioned in the same breath as Duran, Leonard, Hearns and Hagler? To me he seems equally as talented as they are, owns a clear victory over Duran and is the youngest champion ever (a record that is never likely to be broken). Is it true he only used to train 2-3 weeks for a fight?

A few mythical matchups:

Pacquiao vs Paul Williams

Duran vs Gerald McClellan @ 160

James Toney vs Jack Johnson with unlimited rounds

Benitez vs Margarito

Mayweather vs Edwin Valero

Kind regards. Barno, London

Your mythical matchups:

Pacquiao vs Paul Williams this is such a weird style matchup due to the absurd height/reach disparities. PacMonster at his best at 147 is a more elite fighter than the welterweight version of P-Will, but the Punisher was no slouch almost as tough as Antonio Margarito, but faster and somehow even busier. Im going to go with the slight upset and say Williams narrowly outpoints the Philippines hero.

Duran vs Gerald McClellan @ 160 I think the middleweight versions of Duran that took Marvin Hagler 15 rounds and outpointed Iran Barkley would outclass McClellan over 12. Duran by close UD in a hotly contested fight (apologies to all the diehard G-Man fans).

James Toney vs Jack Johnson with unlimited rounds Johnson by TKO. Toney would give the Galveston Giant a hell of a fight with brilliant boxing for about 20 rounds; hed get bored after 30 rounds (even with all the trash talk that would be exchanged between the two mavericks), and hed finally say F__k it and stay on his stool at some point between Rounds 40 and 45. (Johnson would also beat Toney in the amount of alcohol and fast women he could handle. However, Toney would edge Lil Arthur in food and cigar consumption.)

Benitez vs Margarito El Radar by close but unanimous decision in a very good fight.

Mayweather vs Edwin Valero Mayweather by decision at 130 and 147; The V-nom by mid-to-late stoppage at 135 and 140. All are excellent fights except at welterweight.

I wanted to ask your view as to why Wilfred Benitez isn’t mentioned in the same breath as Duran, Leonard, Hearns and Hagler? To me he seems equally as talented as they are, owns a clear victory over Duran and is the youngest champion ever (a record that is never likely to be broken). Good question. I agree that Benitez was equally talented to the Four Kings. In fact, I think he was the most natural talent of the five. However, he peaked early. The Puerto Rican star was a three-division champ by age 22, but he began to slide by 23 or 24.

Hearns (left) shakes up Benitez. Photo from The Ring Archive

Heres a couple of things to consider: Benitez never faced Hagler (as Duran, Hearns and Leonard did); he was not effective above 154 pounds as they were. Also, The Four Kings defined the 1980s and two of Benitezs greatest victories took place in the 1970s (his 140- and 147-pound title-winning decisions over Antonio Cervantes in 1976 and Carlos Palomino in 1979). He was devastating vs. Maurice Hope (who he starched in 12 rounds to annex the WBC 154-pound belt in 1981) and he was brilliant in defending it vs. Duran, but he lost it to Hearns right after the triumph over Hands of Stone, and he never regained his mojo and career momentum after being outpointed by the Hitman. Those two bouts were in 1982. From that point on he lost to every Ring-rated fighter he faced (a one-sided decision to Mustafa Hamsho, a freak injury TKO to Davey Moore, and a ninth-round stoppage to Matthew Hilton).

Benitez was arguably no longer world class after 1984 or 1985. As erratic as Duran was during the 1980s, he still had high points throughout the decade the beatdown of Moore, the bold stand vs. Hagler, and the eventual WBC middleweight title winning effort (and Ring Fight of the Year) vs. Iran Barkley in 89. (It certainly didnt hurt Durans legacy and reputation that he was able to beat guys Moore and Barkley that beat Benitez and Hearns.)

Is it true he only used to train 2-3 weeks for a fight? Thats what Ive heard, and I believe it. He was super talented but not very dedicated. However, short camps were not unusual during this time. Hearns was known to have 3-4 week camps even for big fights. His camps for Benitez, Duran and Hagler were only four weeks long. Some insiders thought he had overtrained for Leonard because his camp was six weeks for that super fight.

FURY-WILDER GLOVE ISSUE

Hey Dougie,

Been a very long time fan, first time I emailed you. Thanks for all the great work you’ve done over the years.

I keep seeing more and more youtube channels that try to show that Fury cheated with his gloves and are demanding an investigation. My perception is that those are biased channels to PBC fighters. What is your opinion on that subject? Should an investigation be done or is this much ado about nothing?

Anyways, take care and thanks again. Armando

I think its just bulls__t and just plain silly, but if these YouTubers truly believe that Fury improperly wrapped his hands or loaded his gloves or has some weird illegal technique where his hand doesnt even fill the glove (and theyre not just taking advantage of delusional Wilder fanatics to earn a few extra bucks) I think they should A) get Wilder to speak on it, B) they should boycott Fury-Wilder 3, C) they should take their claims/case(s) along with evidence, witnesses and experts to the Nevada and California commissions (if they believe Fury cheated in both fights) and try have the official verdicts changed to No Decisions.

IS THERE A FUTURE FOR WILDER?

Doug,

Ive been noticing a lot of hate on Deontay Wilder still. I like the man. He may not be a very pure boxer, but of course he has the power. If he could just get back to the basic fundamentals of boxing of working off the jab. Everything is set up by the jab. He has the height and reach, and if he could get a Holmes or Hearns piston like jab going he can still go with the best heavyweights out there.

Obviously, his last fight with Fury was embarrassing for him and his fight before that with Ortiz he was handily outboxed by the smaller man. Wilder needs to reinvent himself, take a tune up fight and go for the rubber match with Fury or at 34 needs to take his money plus his faculties and retire. But if he goes for Fury again I cant see him winning. Fury just has that size and style to give problems to heavyweights of any era.

Stay safe during this crazy virus ?. Jeff, Australia

I think Fury is more of a psychological nightmare for Wilder than a stylistic dilemma for the American puncher. He just gets under Wilders skin. (And now it seems that The Gypsy King is the heads of Wilders most diehard fans, who will likely add more anxiety, angst and obsession to the rivalry, which is not a good thing for the former WBC titleholder.)

Photo by Esther Lin / Showtime

Anyway, you dont have to channel Eddie Futch to know that Wilder could be WAY more effective if he utilized a sharp, busy jab. His problem with Fury is that The Ring/WBC/lineal champ has a damn good jab of his own (and hes one of the few heavyweights with a longer reach than Wilder), and the Englishman is very good at fighting at range, even when he is the come-forward aggressor.

Obviously, his last fight with Fury was embarrassing for him and his fight before that with Ortiz he was handily outboxed by the smaller man. Ortiz outweighed Wilder by about 17 pounds.

Wilder needs to reinvent himself, take a tune up fight and go for the rubber match with Fury or at 34 needs to take his money plus his faculties and retire. I hope Wilder stays in the game tune up or no tune up, win or lose vs. Fury for at least a couple more years. Fury may indeed have his number, but you can never count a puncher like Wilder completely out, and he makes for very good matchups with Andy Ruiz Jr., Dillian Whyte, Joseph Parker, and, of course, Anthony Joshua. As I stated in Mondays mailbag, Im fascinated by the idea of Aleksandr Usyk challenging Wilder.

But if he goes for Fury again I cant see him winning. Fury just has that size and style to give problems to heavyweights of any era. I agree.

THE PHENOMENON OF GERRY COONEY

One of the most exciting, popular, and enigmatic heavyweight contenders of the 1980s was Gentleman Gerry Cooney. Cooney’s popularity was a result of several factors. He possessed crushing punching power – particularly with his left hook to the body. His HBO highlight reel was absolutely eye catching. From a matchmaking perspective, Cooney was carefully matched against well known heavyweights from the Ali/Frazier/Foreman/Norton era of the 1970s. Three names that come to mind are Ron Lyle, Jimmy Young, and Ken Norton, who Cooney starched in 54 seconds.

Another reason for Cooney’s immense popularity was, like it or not, his pigmentation. Cooney was a white heavyweight contender during an era in which the heavyweight division was largely dominated by blacks. Many believe that his race was used as a marketing tool during the promotion of his multi-million dollar battle with then universally recognized heavyweight champion Larry Holmes. Holmes dominated en route to an 11th round TKO victory and Cooney fought very sparingly over the next 8 years. 2 of his 5 fights between 1982 and 1990 were closed circuit or pay-per-view events. He was brutally knocked out in a title challenge against Michael Spinks and in a crossroads bout against George Foreman. Cooney never fought after that.

When Spinks defeated Holmes to win the Heavyweight championship, Cooney’s name was the first to be mentioned as a challenger even though he was unranked, inactive, and semi-retired. He also hadn’t fought for 3 years before his pay-per-view bout against Foreman.

Your thoughts Doug on Cooney’s immense popularity throughout the eighties. How do think he would have fared against the legitimate contenders of his era such as Tim Witherspoon, Michael Dokes, Mike Weaver, Gerrie Coetzee, Pinklon Thomas, Trevor Berbick, etc? How much success do you think Cooney would have had during the 90s, 2000s, and in today’s heavyweight landscape? Todd Elliot, Brooklyn, NY

I think Cooney would be, at the least, a top-five contender, if not a world titleholder if he were fighting today. He possessed more than legit one-punch KO power, he also had very good technique, and he was a busy big man when he was in shape and dialed in. The mans combinations were scary.

The 1990s would have challenged him, though. That was a second Golden Age for the glamor division. It was very deep, but Cooney would have mixed well with the top dogs and would have made for some explosive shootouts with Riddick Bowe, Tommy Morrison, Razor Rudduck and Ray Mercer. Hed be live against anyone who didnt have world-class skills, chin and stamina.

Had he fought the contenders of his era, I think Tim Witherspoon and Pinklon Thomas beat him, maybe stop him late, if theyre at their best. Its a toss up with Michael Dokes, Mike Weaver and Gerrie Coetzee, but I slightly favor Cooney. I think he outpoints Trevor Berbick.

My thoughts on Cooneys popularity is that he was not only a modern-sized heavyweight with frightening power and an exciting style, he was VERY good on camera. He had personality, seemed humble, affable, approachable. Holmes did not seem very friendly to the casual fans, and Im not talking about prejudiced white people. If you idolized Muhammad Ali, as I and so many others did, you viewed Holmes as a sadistic a__hole. (I know that wasnt fair to Larry but thats how we felt at the time.) Cooney seemed harmless when he was outside of the ring.

SPECIAL1982: Larry Holmes and Gerry Cooney on the cover. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine via Getty Images)

Still, I didnt believe he could beat Holmes and I cant say that I was a Cooney fan. It was nothing against Cooney, I was just kind of sour on boxing by 1982, with Ali gone and Sugar Ray Leonard soon to join him in retirement. However, even though I really wasnt paying attention to the sport around the time of the Holmes-Cooney fight, I knew it was happening. It was in the newspapers, general sport and entertainment magazines and covered extensively by the TV news sports anchors. You couldnt escape the hype for that fight, which was touted as the $20 million fight. And you knew that Cooney was a popular figure and sentimental favorite when you learned that hed get close to parity with the champion (and you know that had to piss Holmes off to no end). As far as I know, the only fighter to take home a $10 million payday to that point was Leonard. Holmes and Cooney would do so with their fight because the heavyweight championship was still a very big deal in 1982. (Ring Magazine published a special Fight Program issue for Holmes-cooney.)

Another reason for Cooney’s immense popularity was, like it or not, his pigmentation. To paraphrase Ali: He had the connection, the complexion, and the protection.

Cooney was a white heavyweight contender during an era in which the heavyweight division was largely dominated by blacks. True.

Many believe that his race was used as a marketing tool during the promotion of his multi-million dollar battle with then universally recognized heavyweight champion Larry Holmes. Theyre not wrong, and it benefitted Holmes and Cooney both in terms of the payout. Ali would have relished it all. But it only made Holmes more bitter.

Holmes dominated en route to an 11th round TKO victory and Cooney fought very sparingly over the next 8 years. Actually, Cooney lasted into the 13th round, when his trainer Victor Valle saved him from further punishment, and the challenger had his moments. It was close on two official scorecards at the time of the stoppage despite Cooney being docked three points for low blows during the contest.

2 of his 5 fights between 1982 and 1990 were closed circuit or pay-per-view events. And only his last two bouts, vs. Michael Spinks and George Foreman, were against world-class heavyweights.

He was brutally knocked out in a title challenge against Michael Spinks and in a crossroads bout against George Foreman. Cooney never fought after that. The Spinks bout is memorable to me because its the first time I ever bet on a fight (other than with my dad). It was a decent sum ($50), and it sticks out in my head because I made the wager with two adult comic book collectors at a comic shop and I won the bet. I also recall that they referenced The Ring magazine as support for their pick (Cooney) and confidently told me that he possessed the most devastating punch in the heavyweight division his left hook. I wasnt sold on Spinks but I didnt like Cooneys inactivity. I thought it meant that Cooney lacked self-belief and I knew Spinks believed in himself. I was a bit surprised when I heard that Spinks knocked him out, though. The Foreman fight stands out to me because thats when Big Georges comeback began to seem real.

When Spinks defeated Holmes to win the Heavyweight championship, Cooney’s name was the first to be mentioned as a challenger even though he was unranked, inactive, and semi-retired. That was a smart move by Team Spinks.

Cooney and Tyson on the cover of the Sept. 1986 Ring Magazine. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine via Getty Images)

He also hadn’t fought for 3 years before his pay-per-view bout against Foreman. Yep, before Mike Tyson won the WBC title and quickly unified the major belts, Cooney was seen as a possible threat to Kid Dynamite. There was even a 1986 issue of Ring with Cooney and Tyson on the cover. But Cooneys management must have known better. They steered clear of Iron Mike, and when they saw, fat, bald, 40-year-old Foreman coming back they must have thought This has-been with a name is the perfect foil for a comeback. After Big George took care of an in-shape and dialed-in Cooney, Tyson-Foreman became the dream fight for the early 90s.

Email Fischer at dougie@boxingmailbag.com. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and join him, Tom Loeffler, Coach Schwartz and friends via Toms Instagram Live every Sunday from UCLAs Drake Stadium track.

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2. Josh Warrington, The Rings No. 1 featherweight, wants the biggest challenges14:40[−]

Shakur Stevenson.

Give me that challenge.

Gary Russell Jr.

Give me that challenge.

If Josh Warrington could select his next opponent, then the British featherweight would tackle Can Xu in a unification, then face Russell Jr. before tackling what is on offer at junior lightweight, preferably Stevenson (who recently confirmed he is moving up to 130 pounds), Oscar Valdez and Leo Santa Cruz.

Warrington, who will turn 30 in November, is relishing a return to action whenever that may be.

The fighting pride and spirit of Leeds, England is missing a schedule to adhere to. Without it, I feel a little bit lost to be honest, he admitted to The Ring.

I feel a bit lost not knowing when Im going to be back out.

Following a fruitful four-year stint with Frank Warren, Warrington (30-0, 7 knockouts) returned to the welcoming arms of rival promoter Eddie Hearn at Matchroom HQ. Version 2.0 of the Warrington-Hearn working relationship was going to kick off with a bang. Warrington vs. Can Xu was on the cusp of being a done deal, outdoors, at Headingley Cricket Ground in Leeds. Good times ahead. Then came the lockdown a month later.

Im thinking itll be alright, itll pass, sometimes these things happen, he recalled.

Ill just keep on as normal, he thought.

It probably didnt hit me until the shows started getting cancelled. Im thinking, Fuck, when are we gonna go out? And without something to aim for, thats whats affected me the most. I tried to keep strong. Out of all the lockdown, 90 percent of the time Ive probably trained. There was a week where I had a bit of a blip, I just lost a bit of motivation.

Signing with Matchroom again, everyones getting excited, and it gave me a new bit of energy, a new lease of life. I thought, you know, what Ill use this time, work on a few things, perfect a few things, and then I got to a stage where I dont want to burn myself out. There is a science to it. No matter how many people out there say they never leave the gym or are gym rats, there is a science to peaking. Athletes at the top level, whatever sport they are in, will tell you, you do have peaks and you want to peak for that one night in the ring.

Warrington rocks Frampton: Photo via @frankwarren_tv

Warrington, who is rated No. 1 by The Ring at 126 pounds, has been back doing what he loves for the past few weeks. Hes enjoyed spending time with his twin daughters, hes finally got round to doing the little jobs around the house that we all put off. Oh, and if you saw a tweet of his from last month, he cannot wait to get a haircut!

Ive been doing little bits and pieces in the garden while the weathers been nice and just enjoying the time at home, he added. Ive got a gym round the corner from my house. Its my own gym now. Its got a ring, bags, a speed ball in there, a few weights, so Ive been fortunate enough to keep ticking over with that. I keep myself to a decent level of fitness and shape. Im ready to get back at it, ready to get back to some sort of normality.

The normality is fighting which brings its rewards, whether its another title, another good payday or fighting in front of a home crowd that could rival Ricky Hattons following.

The normality is also a reality that, when he explained, can hit home with most of us. He is a well-known boxer in the U.K., he earns enough to not have to worry, but that doesnt mean there are still not bills to pay, examples to set to his children and his own father and siblings that he wants to look after.

Theres more riding on it, loads of little factors riding on it, he says of his career and the desire to keep winning.

You just want to keep on going. I didnt think Id get to a stage where the money thats being put about for these fights bloody hell, I can set my family up for life here. Not only that I can set my brother up whos registered special needs, my sister whos autistic. If they ever need a helping hand in the future I can step up.

Ive always felt that since Im the oldest of my siblings there has always been a responsibility there. Ive always felt like my dad has put a lot in so as I go on and achieve greatness or achieve bigger things or bigger pay days, hes going to get rewarded from that. He sacrificed a lot of his time when I was younger, picking me up from work and taking me to the gym, going out at eight in the morning and not getting in till ten at night. If I can get to a stage where he can pay his mortgage off and dont really have to worry about much, then happy days.

Warrington also spoke of not wanting his children to think they can walk into a big brand retail store and get whatever they want. He doesnt want them to take life for granted.

Material possessions.

But he is also thankful that his girls dont have to see their parents worrying about bills and can go away on holiday without it becoming a financial burden later on in the year. The picture is bigger than Josh Warrington. He realizes that and is proud and comfortable to carry that responsibility on his shoulders.

Call it a clich? but he is daring to be great with what he says. It wont all come to fruition, but he doesnt want to dine out on the wins over Lee Selby and Carl Frampton for the rest of his life. The challenges Stateside could potentially build a legacy and have him talked about for years to come. He wants to be known as a champion, a great fighter, but perhaps more importantly a man who took on the very best the world had to offer.

Its the back against the wall kind of thing, Warrington explained. I want to prove people wrong. Just look at what can be achieved. Im never satisfied. I wanted to be a unified champion, why not dare to be a multiple weight champion? Its right in front of you. I want a collection of big fights Valdez, Santa Cruz it adds up to being a great fighter.

When I were coming through, I never thought Id be at the stage Im at now. I aint been given it, its been a lot of hard work to get to the stage where Im at. I absolutely love it and as a boxing fan you always want to see the biggest fights and now Im in a position where I can give the fans the biggest fights. I dont go about my business by talking shit or doing 500 posts on social media. I go about my business trying to be entertaining as I can in the ring, taking the big fights and biggest challenges. Thats how I want to be remembered.

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3. Carlos Takam outfights Jerry Forrest to unanimous decision win06:12[−]

Carlos Takam battled through a bad cut around his right eye to outpoint Jerry Forrest over 10 rounds on Tuesday, but his career lives on.

The 39-year-old Cameroonian heavyweight won by unanimous decision on all three scorecards.

Judge Max DeLuca submitted a score of 96-94, while Dave Moretti had it 98-92, and Patricia Morse Jarman scored it 97-93 all for Takam, who improved his winning streak to four fights.

“The preparation for this fight was not easy,” Takam said.

Takam was initially preparing to face Oscar Rivas on July 14, but the latter withdrew due to an injury. His opponent was also supposed to fight someone else, but that bout fell apart due to different reasons.

Forrest was slated to face Jarrell Miller but Miller, for the fifth time in his career, tested positive for a banned substance.

Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs), 31, of Brooklyn, New York, tested positive for the banned substance GW1516 in a test conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) and is facing a significant ban from the sport.

Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

The opening round was a dull one, but things warmed up in the second round, when Takam connected with a right uppercut, followed by a straight right to the head. About a minute into the frame, Takam also connected with a lead left hook and then clipped Forrest with a left-right combo with about 30 seconds remaining.

Forrest, who was criticized by ESPN color commentator Timothy Bradley for downing a roast beef sandwich shortly before his fight, struggled to let his hands go throughout the bout. That was evident in the third round as Takam bounced on his toes and mixed things up, as Forrest tried to solve the puzzle while experiencing fatigue.

Takam nailed Forrest with a solid right cross to start the fourth round. About a minute and 15 seconds into the frame, “Slugger” Forrest continued to get out-slugged as Takam charged forward and landed a series of combos to the body.

Takam, who once challenged then-undefeated heavyweight titleholder Anthony Joshua in October 2017 in Cardiff and gave the widely popular Englishman a tough fight before suffering a 10th-round stoppage, continued to impose himself in the fifth round, connecting with a series of straight right hands. Takam was having success despite sustaining a cut around his right eye, which he pawed until the end of the bout.

Forrest failed to take advantage of the cut, allowing Takam to connect with big right hands. At the end of the frame, Forrest connected with a solid right uppercut, which got Takam’s attention.

Takam landed nearly exclusively with the straight right hand in the seventh round as Forrest managed to connect with a left hand.

Neither fighter let their hands go in round eight, as the pace steadily slowed. Takam connected with the best punch of the round, a right hand that knocked Forrest back on his toes.

Little happened in the ninth round as fatigue took over the affair. Takam worked behind his jab, while Forrest took over the inside, but did virtually nothing once he got there.

With about 1:10 left in the final round, Takam connected with a lunging straight right hand. With 50 seconds remaining, Forrest clinched and moved Takam into the ropes, and failed to capitalize. He connected with a left hand late, but it was far too late to mount a comeback.

Takam said of his future: “I want to fight Oscar Rivas or [The Ring/unified titleholder] Tyson Fury.”

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4. Carlos Castro dominates Cesar Juarez, wins by fourth round TKO05:04[−]

Junior featherweight contender Carlos Castro remained undefeated on Tuesday with a dominating fourth-round TKO over former title challenger Cesar Juarez.

The bout served as the chief support to the 10-round Top Rank on ESPN main event between heavyweights Carlos Takam and Jerry Forrest.

From the onset, it was an absolute clinic from Castro (26-0, 11 knockouts), 26, of Phoenix, Arizona.

“My team worked tremendously hard,” Castro said of his performance. “We saw some stuff other fighters didn’t work on him, so we capitalized on that.”

In the first round, Juarez looked for openings on the inside. He connected with a left hook to the body. Castro, a very polished boxer, worked from the outside behind his jab. Juarez was visibly hurt at the end of the round after taking a couple of hard jabs to the body.

It was more of the same in the second frame as Castro popped Juarez with the jab and connected with combinations to the body. With around :30 left in the round, Castro landed with a solid right hand to the head.

Juarez (25-9, 19 KOs), 28, who is also an attorney in his native Mexico and runs his own law firm, continued to be an open target in the third round. Castro, the father of a boy and girl, repeatedly backed up his opponent with thudding combinations to the body. At the end of the round, Juarez turned to his corner, dejected, with his head down.

In the third round, Castro landed 29 of 53 power connects (55 percent).

Juarez fought future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire for a vacant junior featherweight belt back in December 2015 in Puerto Rico, losing by unanimous decision. But on Tuesday, he looked nothing close to a contender.

In the fourth round, Juarez took an absolute beating. Castro battered him across the ring with thunderous combinations to the body, and a plethora of lefts and rights to the head. Referee Celestino Ruiz asked Juarez if he wanted to continue, but his corner answered the question for him, stopping the action.

Castro, who is ranked in the top 10 by three of the four major sanctioning bodies, called out WBC titleholder (and The Ring No. 1 ranked contender) Rey Vargas (34-0, 22 KOs), 29, of Mexico.

“I’m ranked No. 2 in the division,” he stated. “If I have to do a mandatory, (I’ll do whatever it takes), fight for the interim title, give me the names.

“I want Rey Vargas, whoever’s at my division, I want to be the world champion.”

The post Carlos Castro dominates Cesar Juarez, wins by fourth round TKO appeared first on The Ring.

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5. Joshafat Ortiz squeaks past Joshua Orta by majority decision04:21[−]

Junior lightweights Joshafat Ortiz and Joshua Orta put on an entertaining fight on Tuesday at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

Ortiz (8-0, 4 knockouts), 24, a Puerto Rico native based in Reading, Pennsylvania, was in control of the first part of the action, but Orta made it close in the last few frames.

But it wasn’t close enough as Ortiz held on for the majority decision victory to remain undefeated. Judge Dave Moretti scored the fight 57-57. But he was overruled by Adelaide Byrd and Tim Cheatham, who had it 58-56 for Ortiz.

The fight took place on the undercard of the 10-round Top Rank on ESPN main event between heavyweights Carlos Takam and Jerry Forrest.

Both men fought in close quarters for much of the first frame, but it was Ortiz who controlled the pace from the onset, working behind his jab, and connecting with left hooks to the body.

Before the start of the second round, Ortiz’s corner told their pupil, “You looked great out there. Keep boxing.” He did that, sticking his adversary with the jab, and going downstairs with the left hook to the body of Ortz. By the end of the round, Orta’s mouth was open, and he was hesitant to throw punches.

Thirty seconds into the third round, Orta threw a 10-punch flurry with Ortiz against the ropes, but only managed to land a single punch during the exchange. With 1:30 left, Ortiz was dancing around the ring, landing with stiff jabs and left hooks to the head.

Orta smothered Ortiz against the ropes about a minute into the fourth round and connected with a series of body shots. Then the action returned to the center of the ring, which Ortiz controlled.

Orta, of Springfield, Massachusetts, had a better showing in the fifth round. With about 45 seconds remaining, he connected with a big left hook to the head and followed up with a clean straight right to the body. An accidental head clash also opened up a cut over Ortiz’s right eye.

In the sixth and final round, both fighters poured it all on the line. Ortiz had success when he was on the outside, landing with a series of jabs to the head and the stomach, but Ortiz cut off the ring and made things interesting. The 24-year-old connected with a series of body shots with less than a minute remaining.

Some swelling had begun to develop on Ortiz’s right cheekbone. At the end of the fight, both fighters hugged it out, and Orta let out a massive, “WOOOOOO!”

But it was too little, too late for Orta, who suffered his first loss as a pro. His record stands at 6-1 with two knockouts.

The post Joshafat Ortiz squeaks past Joshua Orta by majority decision appeared first on The Ring.

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6. Fistianados with Evan Rutkowski, Ep. 65: Q&A04:08[−]

The post Fistianados with Evan Rutkowski, Ep. 65: Q&A appeared first on The Ring.

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7. Shakur Stevenson to vacate featherweight belt, move to 130 pounds03:54[−]

Shakur Stevenson is reportedly vacating the WBO featherweight title to move up to the junior lightweight division.

ESPN’s Steve Kim was first to report the story.

Antonio Leonard, who co-promotes Stevenson, told ESPN: “We’re moving up. We’re getting all the belts, and everyone at 130 [pounds] can get it.”

However, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told The Ring Thursday evening that neither Leonard, Stevenson, or James Prince, Stevenson’s manager, have consulted him.

“I haven’t heard from Antonio Leonard for about a week or so,” Arum said. “I got to hear it from either James Prince or Shakur himself,” Arum said. “Because we’re still trying to do a (Josh) Warrington fight at 126-pounds, but we’ll see what happens.”

Top Rank and Frank Warren, Warrington’s promoter, had been in discussions for a possible featherweight unification fight since late last year, but negotiations were unsuccessful.

Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs), 23, The Ring’s No. 4 rated featherweight, who captured a bronze medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics, won the vacant 126-pound title with a unanimous decision over Joet Gonzalez in October.

Then on June 9, Stevenson moved up to junior lightweight for a non-title fight against Felix Caraballo, whom he knocked out in six one-sided rounds.

The post Shakur Stevenson to vacate featherweight belt, move to 130 pounds appeared first on The Ring.

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8. Donte Stubbs drops Fred Wilson twice, wins unanimous decision03:47[−]

The draw streak is over for Fred Wilson Jr., but this time he suffered his first loss as a pro.

Donte Stubbs floored Wilson twice, once in the third round, and once more in the fifth round, en-route to a unanimous decision victory.

The fight was contested at the middleweight limit of 160 pounds.

Judge Patricia Morse Jarman had it 58-54, while Max DeLuca and Chris Migliore scored it 58-53, all for Stubbs, who rebounded from his first loss just nine days ago to get back in the winner’s circle.

On June 30, Stubbs dropped a majority decision to Isiah Jones on the undercard to the junior welterweight fight between Alex Saucedo and Sonny Fredrickson.

Stubbs said of the loss before the fight: “Losing sucks. I’m going to bring the fire in this fight.”

Stubbs (7-1, 2 knockouts), 26, of Riverside, California, came out firing but failed to land anything impactful. Wilson connected with a quick jab and a left hook.

With about 2:07 in the round, both fighters became tangled and fell to the canvas. When the fight resumed, Wilson went back to working behind his jab. With about :50 remaining, Stubbs went for the home run, missing with a massive overhand right.

For the first part of the second round, Wilson Jr. dictated the pace behind his jab. But with 1:10 left, Stubbs snapped his head back with a right hand and forced him to clinch. Then with :18 remaining in the frame, Stubbs connected with a left hook and followed up with a right hook to the body.

Wilson stung Stubbs with a three-punch combination in the third round his opponent started to bleed from his right nostril. But near the conclusion of the round, Stubbs connected with a stiff left jab and clocked Wilson with a big right cross, sending him crashing to the floor.

In the fourth round, Stubbs looked to look to connect with the overhand right. He smothered Wilson and repeatedly connected with rights to the body. Wilson was then deducted a point by the referee for excessive holding.

Stubbs swung wildly to start the fifth round, while Wilson worked behind his jab and for the first time in the fight, looked to land to the body. With about a minute left in the round, Stubbs was lining up the right hand and found a home for it.

Near the end of the fifth, Stubbs floored Wilson for the second time, wobbling him with a right cross, and then sending him to the canvas with a wild left hook.

Wilson looked for areas to land big shots in the sixth and final round, but Stubbs maintained a tight guard and blocked a majority of the punches. With about :53 remaining in the frame, Wilson caught Stubbs with a right uppercut. The referee called time with :44 remaining after the tape on Wilson’s glove had come undone.

Wilson, 25, of Cleveland, Ohio, dropped to 6-1-2 with two knockouts.

The post Donte Stubbs drops Fred Wilson twice, wins unanimous decision appeared first on The Ring.

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9. Mikaela Mayer turned down MMA offer to stick with boxing02:23[−]

After representing the United States in the 2016 Summer Olympics, undefeated junior lightweight contender Mikaela Mayer nearly left boxing for mixed martial arts.

“Mikaela had an opportunity to fight for an MMA organization, Bellator,” manager George Ruiz told The Ring. “But she really wanted to (stick) with boxing.”

Unlike most of her male counterparts, there were virtually no lucrative options for Mayer, but Ruiz urged his pupil to think logically.

Top Rank had already made it known that they were interested in signing Mayer.

Ruiz said of the predicament: “It was a situation where I said, ‘Look, let’s just sit down with Top Rank and see what they have to say.'”

It turns out; the company had plenty to say.

Nearly three years ago to the day, Mayer inked an exclusive promotional agreement with Top Rank, and she couldn’t be more pleased with how her career has turned out to this point.

“I say, ‘thank God,'” Mayer said of her decision to remain a boxer. “I am so happy that I didn’t (sign with Bellator).”

But before Top Rank was willing to invest in Mayer, she had to put forward an impressive pitch.

“Top Rank is the best promoter in the world (and after our initial discussion), they decided to believe in women’s boxing,” she continued. “They were on board, but it was up to me to prove that I was worth their investment.”

Mayer (12-0, 5 knockouts), 30, a resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado, will attempt to prove her worth once more against potentially her toughest opponent yet in Helen “Iron Lady” Joseph (17-4-2, 10 KOs), 31, of Nigeria.

Speaking with The Ring Wednesday morning, Joseph went on a verbal assault against Mayer, accusing Top Rank of padding her record with easy fights, and boldly predicted she would knock her out.

Mayer, who had around 135 amateur fights, chuckled at Joseph’s claims.

“She is (one-dimensional), and she is nowhere near my level,” Mayer claimed. “I know exactly what she is going to do on Tuesday and that’s pressure me. But that’s what everyone tries to do.

“She may have more professional fights than me, but anyone who knows anything about boxing can see that she is nowhere near as skilled as I am,” she asserted. “I’ve faced a ton of pressure fighters, and once they feel my power when they run into my shots, they slow down. I definitely see Joseph slowing down after two rounds.”

Regarding her adversary’s story on the struggles to land fights in her home region, Mayer said that she should be thankful they are on the same platform together.

“She should be happy that women’s boxing has grown and that promoters like Top Rank are now supporting us,” Mayer said. “She should know that no woman in the sport has had an easy path. I respect her hustle, and she will soon respect mine.”

The post Mikaela Mayer turned down MMA offer to stick with boxing appeared first on The Ring.

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10. Miguel Marriaga faces Mark John Yap on July 16; Felix Verdejo in co-feature02:13[−]

Former world title challenger Miguel Marriaga will face Mark John Yap of the Philippines on July 16, Top Rank officially announced Thursday afternoon.

Also on the card will be lightweight Felix Verdejo squaring off against Will Madera.

Both 10-round bouts will take place at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada and will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).

Marriaga (29-3, 25 knockouts), who resides in Arjona, Colombia, was scheduled to fight WBO featherweight titleholder Shakur Stevenson on July 14 in New York City, but the card was cancelled a few days before due to the impending COVID-19 pandemic.

Miguel stayed in shape throughout the pandemic and was willing to fight anyone we put in front of him, said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. This is going to be an action-packed card, and both Miguel and Felix will be tested.

Marriaga last fought on December 7 in Puebla, Mexico, battering Alfredo Mejia Vargas before knocking him out in round 6. He has won his last four bouts since losing to then-WBO junior lightweight titleholder Vasiliy Lomachenko in August 2017.

In his previous fight that April, Marriaga gave then-WBO featherweight titleholder Oscar Valdez all he could handle in an action fight, losing by unanimous decision. Marriaga first fought for a world title belt in June 2015, losing to then-WBA featherweight titleholder Nicholas Walters.

Despite falling short in previous fights, the 33-year-old is confident he can attain another world title shot.

I stayed in shape during the pandemic, said Marriaga, who made his pro debut in June 2009. I want to be a world champion, and a win over Yap will move me one step closer to my ultimate goal. Yap is much better than his record indicates. Neither of us will take a backward step.

Yap (30-15, 15 KOs) lost to unbeaten Angel Alejandro by unanimous decision in his last bout on November 23. The 31-year-old has lost three of his last four bouts after winning his previous 10.

Verdejo (26-1, 16 KOs), who is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico and now lives and trains in Las Vegas, defeated Manuel Rey Rojas by unanimous decision in his last bout on January 18. He has now won his last three bouts since losing by knockout to Mexicos Antonio Lozado in March 2018.

Despite setbacks in and out of the ring, including a motorcycle accident in August 2016, the 27-year-old believes he can follow through on fighting for and winning a world title belt.

July 16 is a great opportunity to demonstrate the progress resulting from my work, said Verdejo, who is now trained by Ismael Salas. I have renewed motivation to realize my dream of becoming a world champion. That is the goal.”

Madera (15-0-3, 8 KOs), who resides in Albany, New York, stopped Mexicos Edgar Ramirez in round 2 of his last bout on January 28. Maderas most notable win thus far was a unanimous decision victory over prospect Thomas Mattice on February 1 of last year.

Featherweight prospect and former amateur standout Martino Jules (9-0, 2 KOs) will face Aleem Jumakhonov (8-2-2, 4 KOs) of Tajikistan in an eight-round bout.

Super middleweight Raphael Igbokwe (14-2, 6 KOs) of Fresno, Texas will square off against Kosovos Genc Pllana (8-1-1, 4 KOs) in an eight-round bout.

In a six-round clash of unbeaten welterweights, Ector Madera (6-0, 3 KOs) of Stockton will face Adrian Valdovinos (5-0-1, 4 KOs)

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at santio89@yahoo.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing

The post Miguel Marriaga faces Mark John Yap on July 16; Felix Verdejo in co-feature appeared first on The Ring.

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