April 26, 2018
April 26, 2018
ultimate boxxer

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EDDIE HEARN says that ever since the last Prizefighter three years ago, fans have been asking when it’s coming back. It isn’t. Hearn simply doesn’t have enough dates with Sky Sports.

Fortunately for those who like their boxing served up in three-round, eight-man tournament slices, Ultimate Boxxer is here. The inaugural event takes places tomorrow night (April 27) at Manchester Arena. The quarter-finals will be shown live on the UniLad Facebook page (7.15pm) and 5Spike catch up on the action at 9pm and broadcast the final stages live.

The organisers, led by the youthful founder and Managing Director Ben Shalom, are keen to discourage comparisons with Prizefighter.

Ultimate Boxxer, as was pointed out at a noisy, trendy London press conference when Ricky Hatton, Paulie Malignaggi and Anthony Crolla were unveiled as ambassadors, is a new brand, with music acts part of the night’s entertainment.

“We will lose money on this first show,” said Shalom, “but we are here to stay. We want to build the brand. We are looking to have four shows this year and eight-to-10 shows next year. “We should have 5,000 there at the arena and we’ve got TV. It’s a good start.”

The question is, will it be a good night’s boxing? By the looks of things, yes.

“We could have got championship level fighters who everyone knows,” said Carl Greaves, who selected the fighters and acts as official promoter. “But we’ve gone for eight unbeaten lads who’ve all had fewer than 10 fights. They will get in there and fight their hearts out.”

The winner of three, three-round fights gets £16,000, a huge sum for fighters who have been selling tickets to fight on small-halls shows.

“We are looking to give everyone a chance,” said Shalom.

Given that all eight fighters are unbeaten, and mostly untested, trying to pick a winner is tricky, but he could well come from the bottom half of the draw where Andy Kremner and Isaac Macleod – both 9-0 – meet in the pick of the quarter-finals.

Matthew Hatton-trained Kremner had a career-best win eight weeks ago when stopping Ricky Rose (3-0) in four, while Sunderland’s Macleod has the outstanding amateur pedigree of the eight having won European Junior gold and World Junior silver.

WATCH: THE ULTIMATE BOXXERS MAKE THEIR CASES FOR VICTORY

Macleod has had hiccups in the pros – he’s been dropped and cut – but the 23-year-old from Sunderland says a recent switch to train with Darnell Smith at the Sims’ gym in Essex and the possibility of a clash with former amateur clubmate Josh Kelly has remotivated him.

Jimmy Cooper (6-0-1) is the other former quality amateur in the line up.

From Hampshire, Cooper, Haringey Box Cup gold medallist in 2011 and an England rep in the amateurs, kicks off against Drew Brown (7-0).

Tall and slim, Brown, the youngest competitor at 21, is a volume puncher with a leaky defence from Northampton who believes his size gives him the edge. He’s been boxing at around 168lbs, while Cooper started out as a super-featherweight.

Nonsense, reckons Cooper’s manager, Greaves. He says the 26-year-old, whose uncle Gary was British 154lb boss for a spell in the 1980s, never looked better than in his last fight, a four-round points win over journeyman Kevin McCauley. Cooper weighed 150lbs for that one.

Ben Eland or Tom Young, considered outsiders, will meet either Brown or Cooper in the last four. Eland, who’s improved to 4-0-1 under Scott Lawton after drawing his debut, describes himself as a counter puncher, while Leeds’ Young, with only street skirmishes, a handful of white-collar fights and four pro fights behind him, is banking on his “aggression and workrate.”

The Kaisee Benjamin (4-0) versus Sam Evans (8-0-1) clash is a good one. Evans, back in the Black Country with Errol Johnson after splitting with Ricky Hatton following a draw with Owen Jobburn last time out, says his plan is to jump all over his opponents, but he may find Benjamin hard to pin down.

The 22-year-old, from Birmingham’s Eastside Gym, describes himself as “unpredictable” and against the journeymen he’s been fed so far, he has been trying out a few moves borrowed from Vasyl Lomachenko.

“Over three rounds, Kaisee is going to be hard to beat,” said manager Jon Pegg. “The tough draw will bring out the best in him.”

WHO WINS: The smart money appears to be on ISAAC MACLEOD, if he can get past the talented Andy Kremner in the quarter finals…

April 26, 2018
April 26, 2018
Anthony Joshua

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IN an exclusive interview in this week’s issue of Boxing News magazine, we speak to Showtime boss Stephen Espinoza. Here’s an extract:

Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder is the fight everyone wants to see. There have been rumours that Joshua may move to HBO. What can you disclose publicly about that situation?

We’ve made our interest known. We’ve got a track record with them going back six fights. We were supporting “AJ” here in the US market before anyone else was interested in doing so, so we’re proud of the traction we’ve helped him get in the US, and we’re proud of the traction that a fight with Wilder has gotten because Wilder is also a boxer that we’ve heavily invested in.

I think they see the value that Showtime brings to the equation, with our expertise and track record in PPV. And, as important, they recognise everything we’ve invested to get the Joshua-Wilder fight to the point that it is. I think that carries a lot of weight and I’m confident that we’re going to be in business with both guys for a long time.

Anthony Joshua

Don’t miss the latest issue of Boxing News magazine, out now!

April 26, 2018
April 26, 2018
Photo 2018-04-24, 2 59 18 PM

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WBC light-heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson and former two-division world champion Badou Jack faced off in Toronto on Tuesday to formally announce their highly anticipated showdown Saturday, May 19 live on SHOWTIME from Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

The southpaw Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) is the longest reigning champion in the 175-pound division and one of the hardest hitters in boxing. Jack (22-1-3, 13 KOs) is a former 168 and 175-pound champion who relinquished his title for the chance to challenge Stevenson in the biggest light heavyweight showdown of 2018.

Stevenson vs. Jack is part of a split-site SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT with featherweight champion Gary Russell, Jr. defending his title against mandatory title challenger Joseph Diaz from the MGM National Harbor in Maryland.

Tickets for the Premier Boxing Champions event in Toronto, which is promoted by Groupe Yvon Michel, Lee Baxter Promotions and Mayweather Promotions, are on sale Friday, April 27 and will be available at www.ticketmaster.ca.

Below are quotes from the fighters and event promoters.

ADONIS STEVENSON:

“I love Toronto, I spend a lot of time here. I have fought here before. I have a lot of fans in Toronto, and on May 19 I’m going to put on a show for them. I’m going to give them something to remember.

“Badou Jack is an excellent opponent. He’s smart, he’s been a world champion, and he’s shown he’s a true competitor. But I am the best light-heavyweight in the world, and Toronto and the world will see that on May 19.

“Badou Jack is a good champion. He’s not coming to Canada to lose. I know he’s coming to win so we need to train like we’ve never trained before.

“I know Badou is one of the best boxers in the world and I can’t take him lightly. We can’t underestimate this guy – he’s a two-time world champion.

“I’m looking for the knockout. I know Badou is ready, I’m ready, May 19 will be exciting.”

Adonis Stevenson

BADOU JACK:

“I’m glad to be fighting here in Toronto on May 19. I want to thank Adonis and his team for giving me the opportunity. I’ve been training for a while now, and feel great. Camp has been great. I think I’m getting better and better, and I’m ready to become a world champion again on May 19 and give Toronto a show.

“He’s a strong fighter, everybody knows that. He does a lot of things well, not just land the big shots. But I’m a guy who’s great at a lot of things, and who’s coming to win. I promise you, I’ll leave Toronto a champion.

“We have three more weeks to get ready for one of the biggest fights of my life. I asked for this fight for a long time and finally we got it. On May 19 we’re going to have a three-time world champion.”

YVON MICHEL, Groupe Yvon Michele:

“We were faced with a situation in Montreal that demanded this fight be moved. I called MLSE, and Lee Baxter, and with the co-operation of everybody here, we knew almost immediately that this fight had a great new home here at the ACC in Toronto.

“Over the duration of his time as world champion, Adonis has become not only one of the best light heavyweights in the world, but one of the best fighters in the sport. But Badou Jack is the toughest opponent that Adonis has faced since becoming champion. Adonis has always risen to the occasion, and on May 19 he’ll do it again and be successful in defending his world championship.”

LEE BAXTER, Baxter Promotions:

“Taking on a project like this with just three weeks to sell the fight is a huge task. But this is an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. We’ve been on a mission to bring boxing to Toronto sports fans and put us back on the sport’s map. I think this is the perfect group of people to pull off this task and turn this endeavor into a huge success.

“I want to thank Yvon Michel, MLSE, Mayweather Promotions, the champion Adonis Stevenson, Badou Jack, and everybody else represented on the dais. This is a great fight, regardless of where it takes place, but because it’s happening here in Toronto at the ACC, with an undercard featuring some of the best local fighters fighting on the biggest stage of their careers, it’s going to be a great Toronto sports event.”

LEONARD ELLERBE, Mayweather Promotions:

“First, I want to extend our hearts and best wishes to everybody affected by Monday’s horrifying tragedy here in Toronto.

“I know first-hand that Toronto is a great sports city. Floyd and I saw it with our own eyes when we were here last year promoting his fight with McGregor. The fans are passionate, and vocal, and they’re hungry for a good fight. I know they’re going to love seeing Badou Jack become a three-time world champion.”

April 26, 2018
April 26, 2018
Josh Taylor

Action Images/Lee Smith

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CYCLONE Promotions are delighted to announce that Scotland’s exciting contender Josh Taylor (12-0-0) will face Ukraine’s number one-ranked Viktor Postol (29-1-0) in a final eliminator for the WBC world super-lightweight title at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on June 23. This mouth- watering contest will be shown live and exclusive on Channel 5, and is sponsored by Voltarol, Ladbrokes and Maxi-Nutrition.

Cyclone’s Josh Taylor has firmly established himself as one of the best super lightweights in the world in recent months. Having disposed of domestic rival Ohara Davies with a ruthless seventh round TKO win last July, the 27-year-old then became the first man to stop former long- reigning world champion Miguel Vazquez to round off a stellar 2017.

The ‘Tartan Tornado’ was also at his destructive best last time out in March at the SSE Hydro, as he cleaned out Nicaraguan contender Winston Campos within three rounds to move one step closer to world title glory.

After just twelve professional outings, Taylor has already boxed in each of the home nations as a pro, as well as three times in the USA on big world title bills. Not only has he headlined several cards before millions of viewers live on Channel 5, but the Prestonpans native has also boxed live on Showtime in the USA at the home of boxing, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Josh Taylor

Though by far the biggest fight of his career to date, Taylor will be relishing the opportunity to take another significant step towards world title glory by overcoming Ukraine’s Viktor Postol on June 23.

Having unashamedly fallen short in his attempt to become a unified champion against pound-for-pound star Terence Crawford back in 2016, Postol will arrive in Glasgow with dreams of reaching the super-lightweight summit once again.

During his rise to the top, ‘The Iceman’ claimed wins over the likes of Yvan Mendy and Henry Lundy before sensationally stopping the dangerous Lucas Matthysse back in October 2015 to become the WBC super-lightweight King. The Ukrainian has ambitions of becoming a two- time world champion, and he knows that a victory in Glasgow would catapult him back towards the top of the 140lb pile.

April 26, 2018
April 26, 2018
James Toney

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IN the summer of 1999 James Toney launched a serious campaign that was focused on ending with a major cruiserweight belt strapped around the Ann Arbour warrior’s waist. It would not be easy and many critics were out in force telling anyone who would listen how the 30 year old former middleweight and super-middleweight ruler had peaked; his talents and gifts largely squandered.

“Lights Out” was done, these people said; and Toney, a notorious on-and-off hard worker in the place that mattered, the gym, would not become a three-weight world champion. But Toney, one of the finest “born fighters” in history, was not listening, and neither was his current trainer, Freddie Roach, a man who had been brought up the old-school way himself, taught as he was by the incomparable Eddie Futch.

Toney, who had lost widely to Roy Jones in their big super-middleweight showdown in 1994 and had since dropped closer decisions to Montell Griffin (twice) and, shockingly, Drake Thadzi, was not the same force as a light-heavyweight as he had been as a 168 pounder – what made him feel he would be able to take on and beat the best at an even higher poundage, the “experts” demanded to know. Again, Toney wasn’t listening.

After reeling off eight or nine decent wins over good if not great cruisers – guys like Saul Montana, Michael Rush and Jason Robinson giving Toney work, each fight seeing the rededicated former champ get into better and better physical shape – Toney had earned himself a shot at Vassiliy Jirov. Jirov, unbeaten at 31-0, was not only the reigning IBF cruiserweight king; he was in the opinion of most THE best cruiserweight in the world.

A former Olympian who had made five retentions of the belt he had won in June of 1999, Jirov could perhaps have been referred to as an old-school fighter himself; he, like Toney, having a number of non-title bouts whilst reigning as world champ. Style-wise, though, there was no comparison between the two. Toney was slicker than slick, a master at slipping shots as well as placing them, and James knew how to pace himself in a fight. Jirov was a non-stop train who routinely threw a gazzillion punches in a fight, he was not at all hard to hit yet his chin was seemingly carved from timber, and Vassiliy was a southpaw.

It was Jirov’s youth (28 to Toney’s 30 not being too wide but the perception was Toney had aged considerably due to allowing his weight to balloon between fights; his skills having eroded somewhat as a result) and sheer work-rate that convinced most that Toney would take something of a hiding on the night of April 26, 2003. Toney, as lazy in some of his fights as he could often be in the gym, would not be allowed to rest for a second in this fight.

What followed on HBO Boxing After Dark proved memorable for a number of reasons.

Some fights can be referred to as ‘a joy to watch,’ and this was the case here. Both fighters saw their reputation elevated, so good, so great, was the two-way action. Jirov was as aggressive as ever, while Toney quite simply put on a masterpiece of in-fighting and making his man pay with hard, sickening counter-punches. Toney’s right hand, so effective a weapon against a southpaw, was brutally efficient, appearing at times to be laser-guided. Jirov’s famed chin was tested and tested hard. The body punching, from both sides, was also quite incredible.

Soon swollen up around the face (nothing uncommon for a Jirov fight) and fighting fatigue, it was the younger, supposedly fresher fighter who was suffering. Toney was breathing hard himself, digging deeper than he had dug in years. The fight, one that seemed to whiz by so engrossing was the fierce, quality punching, also appeared to be close, very close. Roach, sensing this, bellowed into Toney’s ear how he had to “put this man on his ass!”

Toney, again having paced himself superbly, came out in the 12th and final round and did just as Roach commanded. Jirov, looking shocked, hurt and dead-tired, did well to clamber back up from the heavy knockdown. Had Toney done enough? James wasn’t sure himself (despite his later post-fight boasts) and he knelt in a corner as he awaited the verdict. Jirov had been docked a point for a low blow in round-eight, yet this aside it was a surprise when the scores were announced: 117-109, 117-109 and 116-110, all to Toney – the brand new IBF cruiserweight champion of the world.

The right man won, even if the fight, a modern day classic, was a lot closer than the scores indicated. Toney, now 66-4-2(45) had seen his career revived in one big, big way. Fight of The Year accolades showered the great fight he had just won and then, in another, even bigger surprise that showed once again how special a fighter Toney really was, he moved up to heavyweight! Toney scored a handful of notable wins here too.

Toney put on, throughout his incredible near-30 year pro career, quite a few special performances. For some, his greatest nights came when he pitted his wits and his skills against those belonging to Mike McCallum, for others Toney shone most brightly the night he sliced and diced Iran Barkley. But for many, the night fifteen years ago when “Lights Out” became the first man to beat Jirov ranks as his finest ring display. It was Toney’s cruiserweight masterpiece.

April 26, 2018
April 26, 2018
nino benvenuti

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A BONAFIDE hero to the admiring Italian public, Giovanni Benvenuti had it all. With film star good looks and an all-round athleticism, the Trieste man rose to prominence at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, where he picked up a gold medal in the welterweight tournament. Before shooting to fame at the Games, Benvenuti had already secured multiple national amateur titles, as well as two European amateur crowns at light-middleweight. Prior to turning professional, he reportedly compiled a record of 120-0.

After storming to 29 wins in as many fights as a pro (including a points victory over travelling Cuban Isaac Logart), Nino earned a crack at the vacant Italian middleweight belt. He duly knocked out Tommaso Truppi in the 11th round.

A further 26 successes followed for Benvenuti. He made three national title defences in that period, as well as claiming the scalps of top opponents such as Gaspar Ortega, Teddy Wright and Denny Moyer (all w pts 10). A combined record of 56-0 put him in line to challenge Italian compatriot Sandro Mazzinghi for the world light-middleweight strap. In front of a passionate crowd, Nino finished his fellow countryman off in six rounds.

Continuing his remarkable run, Benvenuti added the European middleweight title to his collection (Luis Folledo w ko 6), outscored Mazzinghi in a rematch and defeated useful Don Fullmer (w pts 10).

He suffered his first reverse in his 66th outing, losing his world crown on points to Ki-Soo Kim in South Korea.

Just under a year later, the popular stylist became a two-weight world king by dethroning the middleweight champion Emile Griffith in front of 18,000 fans at Madison Square Garden. This was the first in a trilogy of closely contested world title battles between the pair. Griffith claimed a victory in the rematch at New York’s Shea Stadium, before Nino won the rubber match at the new MSG. All three contests went to the cards.

The big fights kept on coming for Benvenuti, as he shared a ring with well-established competitors such as Dick Tiger and Luis Rodriguez. After eventually losing his world middleweight belt in 1970 against the legendary Carlos Monzon, Nino would go on to suffer a further defeat to the Argentine, before retiring in 1971.

His suave, handsome appearance intact after 90 professional ring appearances, the national idol went on to enjoy a brief acting career and success in the business world, also working as a commentator for Italian television.

DID YOU KNOW?

Nino’s first 64 professional bouts were all held in Italy before he headed to Berlin, Germany, to halt Jupp Elze in the 14th round.

Prior to Nino’s world light-middleweight title tilt against Sandro Mazzinghi, the Italian public were clamouring for the rivals to meet in the squared circle. When they did go toe-to-toe on June 18, 1965, 40,000 fans filed into the San Siro football stadium to witness the coming together.

In only the second all-Italian world championship bout of all time, a sharp right uppercut to the chin in round six did the job for the Triestian. Boxing News reported that after the fight, “An enthusiastic crowd cheered wildly, stormed the ring and carried Benvenuti in triumph.”

In 1980, Benvenuti asked his rival Griffith to be the godfather to his son, Giuliano.

FAST FACTS

Born April 26, 1938 in Trieste, Italy Wins 82 Knockouts 35 Losses 7 Draws 1 Best Win Emile Griffith I w pts 15 Worst Loss Tom Bethea I l rsf 8 Pros Fast hands, broad repertoire of punches, stylish boxing ability Cons Could occasionally lose focus and become frustrated

April 26, 2018
April 26, 2018
Anthony Joshua

Esther Lin/Showtime

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ANTHONY JOSHUA has been offered a guaranteed purse of 50million US dollars  (£35.9m) by Deontay Wilder’s team in order to arrange a much-anticipated world heavyweight unification title showdown.

Joshua has been given 24 hours to sign the contract, labelled “a wonderful PR move” by his promoter Eddie Hearn, and the Watford fighter wasted little time in responding to his rival, saying: “Let’s roll”.

The pair hold all four major world titles between them and speculation of a bout has intensified since Joshua defeated Joseph Parker last month to unify the WBA, IBF and WBO titles.

WBC champion Deontay Wilder was offered a flat fee of 12.5million US dollars by Hearn recently but the American’s handlers have made a counter proposal.

Wilder hinted he was ready to give in to Joshua’s demands when he said in a video posted on his social media channels: “I got something special for you. And by the way, all the money’s in the bag so I expect you to be a man of your word.”

The video then cuts to a previous interview with Joshua, who said: “I’ll take 50million up front. If that’s the case, Wilder’s team bring me 50million up front and we’ll take the fight.”

Wilder then added: “I’ll see you soon then.”

The 32-year-old did not have to wait long for an answer from Joshua, who replied on Instagram underneath his fellow unbeaten fighter’s video.

Shelley Finkel, Wilder’s co-manager, confirmed the fee offered to Joshua, telling Sky Sports: “We made an offer to Joshua to fight Deontay in his next fight and we offered him 50 million dollars. He accepts it, it will be there. Al Haymon (Wilder’s other manager) and I have never not delivered what we offered.

“I’ve made an offer, he can either accept it or not. He said 50million, that’s more than double he’s ever made. If he wants the fight, that’s it.”

Hearn admitted he will take the proposition seriously but is eager to find out more details and added he is yet to receive a contract.

The Matchroom promoter told Sky Sports: “We don’t how real it is. Deontay Wilder’s sent the letter and said ‘you’ve got to sign the contract tomorrow and there’s a fight’. We haven’t had a contract yet. It’s a wonderful PR move but we’ll see.

“It’s very nice of Deontay to make that offer, we need to see how secure that is, we need to see a contract, we want to know where it is and quite a lot of other things as well. But we’re definitely interested to look at those numbers.”