January 24, 2017
January 24, 2017
Carl Frampton

Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

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RICKY HATTON’S legion of fans took over Las Vegas when the loveable Mancunian fought in Sin City, and this week Carl Frampton’s followers are set to do the same.

Frampton defends his WBA featherweight title against Leo Santa Cruz at the MGM Grand on Saturday in a rematch of their fiery encounter last year.

Though he is fighting thousands of miles away from his hometown, Belfast, there are set to be huge pockets of support for him on the night.

“I tell the guys all the time, be nice because people will come and support you. Look what’s  happened with Frampton, we took 16,000 people to Manchester [for Frampton’s fight against Scott Quigg last year]. It’s an awful lot less of a journey than it is to Vegas, but we’ve got almost 5,000 people coming out here. That is shocking,” Frampton’s mentor, Barry McGuigan, told Boxing News from his hotel room in Las Vegas.

If that number is accurate, it would eclipse the 3,000-strong army of fans Hatton brought over for his Vegas debut against Juan Urango in 2007.

That win set Hatton up with a huge fight against Floyd Mayweather – in Las Vegas – and he fought there plenty of other times.

If Frampton prevails this weekend, there will surely be more Las Vegas nights in his future. McGuigan himself cultivated an enormous following during his career, culminating in millions of people watching his 1985 win over Eusebio Pedroza (for the same belt Frampton now holds).

“When you think about that, all of these fans, they become part of your life, and when they look back they’ll say ‘I remember way back in 2017 when we went to Las Vegas,'” he continued.

“It’s become part of their life, just like how people still talk to me about my fight. I just want to give my experience back to these kids and if they don’t want it, that’s fine, nobody’s going to be exactly like me, Carl’s not exactly like me. He’s similar to me in many ways but he’s a completely different fighter. He’s a nice kid and he’s taken on board advice that I’ve given him all the way through.”

January 24, 2017
January 24, 2017
David Haye

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DAVID HAYE will head to Las Vegas this week to link up with trainer Shane McGuigan in preparation for his grudge clash with Tony Bellew on March 4.

The former cruiser and heavyweight king has been training in Miami the past few weeks under Steven Broughton, a key member of Shane’s training team.

Some have speculated over the reasoning behind Haye’s seclusion, but McGuigan revealed it has merely been pragmatic while he prepares Carl Frampton for his rematch with Leo Santa Cruz this weekend.

“He’s coming out here [Vegas] on Thursday, then we’ve got five weeks after this weekend,” he told Boxing News.

“I think that’s enough for Tony Bellew, I know people have been asking if I’m still working with David Haye – yeah I am. It’s just, I have a job to do. David just needs to get fit, he needs to get fit the first few weeks, then we’ll sharpen up, get the sparring in. He doesn’t need to be sparring for 10 weeks at a time. He’ll spar for three or four weeks, get sharp, get in tune and that’s what we’re going to do.”

The buid-up to Haye-Bellew has already been full of spite between the two protagonists, but McGuigan admitted he likes Bellew – however he still has a job to do.

That job will see him remain Stateside long after Frampton-Santa Cruz though, as the bulk of Haye’s training will continue to take place in Miami.

McGuigan said: “We’ll do two or three sessions here, then we’ll fly out and be in Miami for three weeks, then come back [to the UK] and have 10 days of training and we’ll taper down for the last few days, weigh in and get the job done.”

Liverpudlian Bellew – the WBC cruiserweight champion who will take on Haye at heavyweight – has been toiling away with trainer Dave Coldwell, but remains unimpressed by some of Haye’s posts on social media.

January 24, 2017
January 24, 2017
Carlos Cuadras

Chris Farina/K2

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Former World Boxing Council (WBC) Super Flyweight Champion CARLOS “PRINCIPE” CUADRAS, (35-1-1, 27 KO’s) of Mexico City, Mexico returns to battle against cross-town rival and Former World Title Challenger DAVID “SEVERO” CARMONA, (20-3-5, 8 KO’s), also of Mexico City, Mexico, on Saturday, March 18 at The Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden.

Cuadras vs. Carmona, scheduled for ten rounds, will be featured on the televised undercard of the World Middleweight Championship between Unified Middleweight World Champion GENNADY “GGG” GOLOVKIN, (36-0-0, 33 KO’s) and WBA Middleweight World Champion and Mandatory Challenger DANIEL “THE MIRACLE MAN” JACOBS, (32-1, 29 KO’s). The event will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.

“I wanted a rematch with Roman Gonzalez but right now my sole focus is on Carmona, we’ve known each other for many years and there is a true rivalry between us,” said Cuadras. “I’m looking forward to settling it in the ring at Madison Square Garden, the home of so many classic battles and in front of the great Mexican boxing fans in New York City and those watching on HBO Pay-Per-View.”

Said Carmona, “Carlos has accomplished a great deal in boxing, being a former world champion and undefeated for many years. However, my time is now and I look forward to being victorious on March 18.”

“We’re very excited to add this all-Mexican battle between Carlos Cuadras and David Carmona to an already outstanding boxing event,” said TOM LOEFFLER, Managing Director of K2 PROMOTIONS. “Cuadras is coming off one of the best fights of 2016 in his world title fight with “Chocolatito” last September on HBO and Carmona is looking to prove he’s worthy of another world title opportunity.”

“Carlos was one of the true breakout stars in boxing last year in his valiant performance against ‘Chocolatito’. We’ve gotten a tremendous response to our showcasing of the lighter weights at our events from boxing fans and the media and we’re very excited to have these two super flyweight battles on the televised undercard.”

“Adding this third bout to the March 18 event continues our commitment to boxing fans in the arena and those watching on HBO Pay-Per-View that we will provide maximum value at our events. Tickets for Madison Square Garden are selling fast and we look forward to another outstanding event on March 18.”

On September 10, 2016, then undefeated WBC Super Flyweight World Champion Cuadras and three-division world champion ROMAN “CHOCOLATITO” GONZALEZ waged war in a 2016 “Fight of the Year” candidate in front of a huge crowd at The Fabulous Forum and telecast on HBO.

After twelve epic rounds of world class action, the 28-year-old Cuadras lost a very close decision to Gonzalez in a battle that had the Mexican and Nicaraguan partisan crowds on their feet cheering throughout.

Carmona is returning to the ring following the toughest test of his seven-year professional career. On May 8, 2016, the 25-year-old Carmona traveled to Tokyo, Japan to challenge undefeated WBO Super Flyweight Champion NAOYA INOUE. Following twelve action packed rounds, Carmona came up short on the judges’ scorecards but validated his standing among the best in the division.

January 24, 2017
January 24, 2017
Lamont Peterson

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WBA regular welterweight Champion David Avanesyan (22-1-1, 11 KOs) will defend his title against former two-time world champion Lamont Peterson (34-3-1, 17 KOs) in a 12-round matchup that serves as the co-main event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING Saturday, February 18 from the Cintas Center at Xavier University in Cincinnati.

Televised coverage on SHOWTIME begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT with unbeaten light heavyweight contender “Sir” Marcus Browne (18-0, 13 KOs) meeting hard-hitting former title challenger Thomas “Top Dog” Williams Jr. (20-2, 14 KOs) in a 10-round showdown. The event is headlined by former four-division world champion Adrien Broner taking on hard-hitting contender Adrian Granados.

“It is a great pleasure for me to be defending my world title in the U.S. against a very good opponent in Lamont Peterson,” said Avanesyan. “I am the champion and come February 18 I will remain champion. This fight gives me a great opportunity to let the U.S. know what I’m about and put me in a position to fight the top fighters in the division. This will be a difficult defense but I am ready to show everyone how good I am.”

“I’m extremely excited about getting back in the ring and fighting on SHOWTIME again,” said Peterson. “I’ve been working hard in the gym and I’m ready to give my fans the kind of show they deserve. I know this guy is coming in with a lot of confidence from that belt, but I believe I’m the better fighter and I’ll prove it on February 18.”

“I’m ready to go to work and fight,” said Browne. “It doesn’t matter if I am the underdog; so be it. Let me be the underdog. I just want to beat this guy up. This is who I wanted to fight. I am fired up about this one and I can’t wait until February 18.”

“On February 18, I’m not leaving anything up to the judges,” said Williams Jr. “I think Marcus has gotten some gifts in the past, so I’m not leaving this up to anyone but myself. I wanted to stay in the mix. I don’t need a tune-up. I’ve been fighting since I was five-years-old. I just need to get in there and fight. I think this is going to be a really good battle.”

January 24, 2017
January 24, 2017
Carl Frampton

Action Images/Jed Leicester

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SHANE McGUIGAN is confident his charge Carl Frampton will defeat Leo Santa Cruz more convincingly in their WBA featherweight title rematch in Las Vegas this weekend.

Frampton took the title from Santa Cruz in one of the best fights in 2016 and will defend it against the Mexican-American at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday.

Having spent the past three weeks training in Sin City, McGuigan remains convinced that unbeaten Frampton will once again shine in America, having beaten Leo in New York last year.

“Carl’s been performing great. He’s reached new heights, he’s really focused and ready to do a number on him. I think when you’ve boxed a fighter before, you know exactly how you’re going to box him again and it’s fresh in your mind for that training camp,” he told Boxing News.

“We’ve watched the fight loads of time since just to make sure we’re on the same wavelength about where he went wrong. I’m looking forward to getting it done.

“He’s been there, he’s been in big fights before. Last year he was in a massive unification fight, then stepped up and boxed a three weight world champion, won both away from home. So he’s done it.

“Now it’s just going through the mill again, but we’ve got to be focused because Santa Cruz has a new lease on life, he’s bringing that focus to camp because he’s never had a loss before. I didn’t think the first fight was that close, I thought Carl won it pretty convincingly but a few rounds were nip and tuck, close and Santa Cruz is probably thinking ‘five, 10 per cent more and I could have won that round’ and Carl’s thinking ‘if he’s going to come in with that now, what do we need to do to nullify it?’ It’s mainly about being clever because I know Santa Cruz, in this next fight, will try and outmuscle, outwork Frampton.”

However, in recent weeks Santa Cruz – best known for his marauding style and fervent workrate – has spoken about boxing Frampton differently this time around.

With height and reach advantages, Leo has claimed he can pick Frampton off and regain his title, but McGuigan remains unconvinced.

“He keeps contradicting himself by trying to keep up guessing. One minute he says he’ll use his reach, the next minute they say they’re going to put way more pressure on, attack the body,” he said.

“From the replay [of the first fight] you can see there’s a little bit of confusion in the corner, especially if you watched the Showtime footage. Santa Cruz wants to continue to put his foot down and his dad – probably because he’s never seen him wobbled before – was more cautious.”

McGuigan is of the belief that if Santa Cruz has more in his arsenal, he would have used it in the first fight. Santa Cruz maintains that the first fight perhaps should have been score a draw, or even in his favour.

Regardless, it was an absorbing 12 round fight that saw Santa Cruz come on strong down the stretch after being hurt in the early stage, though Frampton stood his ground and upset the odds. That made it a stark contrast to Frampton’s points win over domestic rival Scott Quigg earlier in the year, which failed to live up to the enormous hype it generated.

“Carl knows how to win, he knows when he’s in a close fight and when he needs to do just enough, which is annoying for me because sometimes I want him to just open up the lungs and go,” McGuigan explained.

“But he’s a guy who will think ‘I’m doing enough here’ and leave it up to the opponent to make it as exciting, or not, as possible.

“The Quigg fight, Quigg sort of froze a little bit and when Carl came back to the corner and asked if he was winning rounds I was saying ‘yeah, easy, but it’s not entertaining. Just let him be entertaining.’ That’s unfortunately why that fight was a little disappointing but with the Santa Cruz fight, Carl went in there saying ‘I want to stamp my authority and put on a great show.’ Now he’s done that, I feel Santa Cruz is going to come in and play into our hands. No matter what he says, he knows he can’t stand at distance and box Carl. So what’s he going to do? If he does, it’s the stupidest thing he could do. I have a feeling he’ll just put his hands up and start marching him down. If he does and if Carl stays clever, he can make it more convincing.”

Prevail, and the world is Frampton’s oyster. Wales’ Lee Selby defends his IBF featherweight title on the undercard in Vegas and should they both win, all signs point toward a unification fight later in the year.

“Obviously there’s this fight, we’re looking at Selby, that’s a good fight. I think he beats Selby, it’s a hard fight, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t know how much he’s been tested at world level and Carl’s had those hard fights, those pressure fights. Once we get the job done on Saturday night we can sit and choose,” McGuigan mused.

“Abner Mares is out there, he’s a big name, and entertaining fighter. Going down the Oscar Valdez route, that could be a tough one because he’s with Top Rank and HBO.

“Lee’s on the undercard, it could build into a nice fight.”

January 24, 2017
January 24, 2017
Anthony Crolla

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ANTHONY CROLLA and Jorge Linares faced off today at a press conference ahead of their March 25 rematch. Linares defeated the then WBA lightweight champion last year and Crolla is determined to settle the score.

“I want the belt back. I want the belt back,” Crolla declared. “I got over the upset of losing because I lost to a great fighter. But I’m not going to celebrate losing. I don’t want that feeling again on March 25. I want this belt back. I want the chance to go down in history.”

“March 25 I’m going to be better than I’ve ever been. That’s what I know I’ve got to be,” he continued. “I am better in rematches. Last time I just came up short, lost to the better man on the night. March 25, I believe the result will be different.”

His trainer Joe Gallagher questioned whether Linares would be able to perform at the same level as he had in the first fight. “It’s a great fight. Didn’t go Anthony’s way last time. Jorge, in my opinion, was the best Jorge Linares there’s been. It was one of the stand out performances in his career,” Gallagher said. “Can Jorge Linares do that again?”

Linares, the reigning champion, is adamant he will be even better. “I wasn’t supposed to win the first one. Thank God I did,” Linares said. “These belts mean so much to me. They mean so much to my career and they mean so much for my country. We’re going to work very hard to do it again. To repeat and get the win.

“We’re going to face a better Anthony Crolla… We know he’s coming hungry. We know he wants those belts. But that just motivates me to work harder, trainer harder because you’ll also see a better Jorge Linares. We’re going to do a new strategy and come up with a new gameplan.”

January 24, 2017
January 24, 2017
Manny Pacquiao

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IT’S unlikely that Manny Pacquiao is going to fight four times this year. He might indeed only have four fights left in his entire career. Getting in two fights in 2017 is more probable and Pacquiao will have to consider whether he would fight beyond 2018.

He told Rappler, “I’m not a robot. I’m human. To fight twice a year is hard for me, how much if I fight four times a year? It’s going be impossible.”

The world tour mooted by promoter Bob Arum is therefore unlikely to get off the ground. Pacquiao’s team are however waiting for the venue for his next fight to be confirmed before finalising the opponent. Unlikely Australian challenger Jeff Horn remains in the frame for a shot at Pacquiao.