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Former three-division world champion Abner Mares (28-1-1, 15 KOs) returns to the ring to face 2008 Mexican Olympian Arturo Santos Reyes (18-4, 5 KOs) on Saturday, March 7 live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in the primetime debut of the Premier Boxing Champions series on NBC and NBCSN. The fight is part of the event promoted by Goossen Promotions featuring Keith Thurman vs. Robert Guerrero and Adrien Broner vs. John Molina, Jr. that will air live on NBC. The Mares-Reyes bout will be televised live on the NBC show or on the NBCSN telecast.
Billy Joe Saunders has declined an opportunity to fight for the IBF world middleweight championship to remain on course for his WBO world title shot. Undefeated Saunders, the IBF number four ranked contender, was this week offered a showdown for the Vacant IBF crown against the number one ranked Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, after Felix Sturm also passed on the opportunity. The British, Commonwealth, European and WBO International titleholder is the mandatory and number one ranked WBO challenger and has a signed contract with the WBO to fight the winner out of WBO champion Andy Lee and former champion Peter Quillin who fight in April.
Saunders said, “I was honored to be asked to fight for the IBF World title, which has been held by some of the greatest fighters in the sports history, and it was not an easy decision to make. But I have a signed contract with the WBO to fight the winner out of Lee and Quillin and I want to go down that route. I’m in boxing to prove that I’m a great and bring more world titles back to Britain so I hope that the IBF title is one the I can challenge for in the future in some big unification fights.”
Next in the IBF ratings is David Lemieux. Is N’Dam vs. Lemieux on the horizon?
Fifteen months ago, heavyweight Joey Dawejko was so far down that when he looked up he saw the bottom. That was then and this is now and as Dawejko, winner of five in a row and nationally ranked, prepares to fight Unobong Umohette, of Nigeria, on Friday evening, March 6, at the 2300 Arena, he concedes it’s been a wild ride. “It’s hard to believe the way things turned out,” Dawejko said, “but I’m not complaining. I started in the outhouse, and while I’m surely not in the penthouse yet, at least I am pointed in the right direction.”
When Dawejko was stopped in the third round by unbeaten lefty Charles Martin on Nov. 14, 2013, it marked his third loss in five fights and the first time he had been on the floor as an amateur or pro. “When I got the call to fight Charles Martin, I was working on a roof in Atlantic City,” Dawejko said. “The fight was seven days away. I hadn’t been in the gym and there was no time to train after I got the call since I needed to keep roofing to pay bills. I went out there (Hollywood, CA) with my trainer and my brother and I had nothing. I could tell when the fight started. I got knocked down for the first time in my life and my trainer threw in the towel at the end of the third round.
“After the fight, I knew my dreams of becoming a contender were over, but I figured I could always make money as an opponent. Since I was still working as a roofer, I knew I could always fall back on that.” (more…)
The UFC’s first visit to the Philippines on May 16 will have a main event fight fans have wanted to see for years, as former UFC world lightweight champion Frankie Edgar takes on former WEC featherweight champ Urijah Faber in a meeting of two lighter weight class pioneers . . . click here for more
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COMING UP NEXT: UFC FIGHT NIGHT BROOMFIELD on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT . . . Click here for more
Photos: Ivan Ojeda/PRBBP
It’s official. On Saturday, April 11, World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior lightweight champion Orlando “Siri” Salido, from Mexico, will face two-time former WBO champion at 130 pounds, Roman “Rocky” Martinez, from Puerto Rico, in “The War”, to be held at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in a PR Best Boxing Promotions (PRBBP) presentation in association with Promociones Zanfer. The expected Siri Salido vs Rocky Martinez clash will be air exclusively on “Pay Per View” in Puerto Rico, United States and Canada to all the Cable TV and Satellite systems.
“Today we make it official with the boxers, The War, Salido vs Martinez is official for April 11 in Puerto Rico. Everything is agreed for hosting this event, in which two of the fiercest fighters there in boxing, Orlando Salido and Rocky Martinez will face, two boxers who always give everything on in the ring and this April 11 will face for a belt that Salido own and Rocky will try to take,” promoter Ivan Rivera, president of PRBBP, said. “We call this show as “The War” because that is what we expect, a battle that has all the ingredients for it, plus another chapter in the rivalry between Mexico and Puerto Rico in boxing.”
Salido (42-12-2, 29 KOs), a native of Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, will make the first defense of the title he won on September 20, 2014, when beat Thai Terdsak Kokietgym by KO in 11 rounds in one of the most spectacular fights in which Kokietgym went to the canvas four times by three for the Mexican. Salido was a WBO and International Boxing Federation (IBF) world champion at featherweight (126 lbs).
The eagerly awaited non-title showdown between undefeated WBC/WBA super lightweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia (29-0, 17 KOs) and IBF jr welterweight champion Lamont Peterson (33-2-1, 17 KOs) will take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn as Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on NBC returns to primetime on Saturday, April 11. Also confirmed was WBO middleweight world champion “Irish” Andy Lee (34-2, 24 KOs) taking on undefeated Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin (31-0, 22 KOs) in a 12-round world title fight.
Danny Garcia: “It’s an honor to be fighting back in Brooklyn where I’ve experienced some of the best moments of my career. Fans have been asking for this fight for so long and on April 11 I’m planning on giving them the show they’ve been waiting for. Doing it live on NBC will make it even sweeter.”
Lamont Peterson: “This is an amazing opportunity for me fighting in Brooklyn and on national TV in front of millions of people. I’m going to go out there and give the performance of a lifetime. Danny Garcia better not underestimate me, because my time is now.”
Andy Lee: “I’m looking forward to returning to New York and defending my title against Quillin. I’m at the peak of my powers now. I cannot see myself losing to anyone. I want to be recognized as the best middleweight in the world and beating Quillin will go some way to proving that.”
Peter Quillin: “To be able to fight at home in Brooklyn and win a title on such a big stage is a dream come true. I’m honored and excited to be a part of something that is great for my career, but also for the sport of boxing as a whole. I know that I’m going to win on April 11, become champion once again, and then I’m going after anyone and everyone at 160 pounds.” (more…)
Former WBA featherweight champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. (33-3, 21 KOs) will move back down to the 122lb division where he held the WBO world title before being dethroned by Guillermo Rigondeaux in April 2013. Donaire will fight on a previously announced March 28 card at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines against Brazilian William Prado (22-4, 15 KOs). WBO jr flyweight king Donnie Nietes (34-1-4, 20 KOs) defends against Mexican Luis Ceja (25-5-2, 21 KOs).
By David Finger
Photos provided by Leon Panoncillo, WBO
Although Manny Pacquiao continues to dominate the headlines regarding his negotiations with Floyd Mayweather and a potential megafight on May 2, the Filipino superstar took a short break from the negotiations to receive the WBO Super Champion belt at his home in General Santos City. The $10,000 belt was presented to Pacquiao by WBO Vice President Leon Panoncillo. Distinct from other sanctioning organizations, the WBO Super Champion belt is only awarded to existing champions who meet certain criteria such as a minimum number of title defenses or title victories over distinguished opposition. It allows a champion more flexibility in regards to mandatory title defenses as well as additional consideration when seeking to be named as a mandatory challenger to a WBO champion in a higher weight. Pacquiao had recently won the WBO welterweight title last year and was also named WBO fighter of the decade. After the belt ceremony Pacquiao invited those in attendance to join him for dinner at his home. (more…)
By Joe Koizumi
WBC bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (22-0-2, 16 KOs), a hard-punching southpaw Japanese, will make his eighth defense against unbeaten Argentine Diego Santillan (23-0, 15 KOs) in Osaka, Japan, on April 16. It was announced today by Teiken Promotions of Tokyo. Yamanaka, one of the most stable world champions here, acquired the vacant WBC throne by disposing of Mexican Christian Esquivel in eleven give-and-take rounds in November 2011, and impressively registered seven successful defenses including five KOs or TKOs since to his credit. The Argentine challenger, five years his junior at 27, previously seized the national, WBC Mundo Hispano and WBC Latino titles in the 118-pound category to extend his unblemished mark. It will be a highly expected encounter of the unbeaten bantams. Santillan is nicknamed “El Fantasma (the Ghost)” but will he be able to avert Yamanaka’s pulverizing left shot called “God’s Left”?
By Ray Wheatley — World of Boxing
Photos: Dave Cameron
WBA #12, WBO #15 cruiserweight Anthony McCracken (17-7-1, 8 KOs) will clash over twelve rounds with Samoa’s Vaitele Soi (24-1, 16 KOs) on March 28 at Christchurch, New Zealand at the next “Super 8″ tournament. McCracken, 31, who went 12 rounds with former world rated Kiwi Shane Cameron in a cruiserweight bout in 2010 but lost via unanimous decision, was confident of dealing Soi another defeat on March 28 after he had seen footage of him sparring with Cameron. “I’ve seen the YouTube clips of Cameron sparring Vaitele, he got dropped with 18oz gloves on,” McCracken said. “I went 12 rounds with Shane and he couldn’t hurt me, so really what does Soi think he’s going to be able to do – I’ll break him down just like I did to Aloua.”
Soi, 27, who is based in Samoa but does his training camps in Auckland under veteran trainer Lolo Heimuli, vowed revenge on Aloua’s behalf. “I am looking forward to claiming back the titles for New Zealand and Samoa, and to overcoming the man who beat my friend,” Soi said. (more…)
Unbeaten light heavyweight Erik Skoglund (22-0, 11 KOs) is on the road to recovery. The 23 year-old underwent surgery last Thursday (February 4) to repair a herniate disc in his back. The operation was a success, and one week later the Swedish boxing star is beginning his rehabilitation at home in Nyköping.
“The surgery went well,” said Skoglund. “My surgeon Gunnar Nyberg was really pleased with the results. He said it couldn’t have gone any better! At this stage, it’s still difficult to say for sure how long I’ll be out of the ring. It all depends on how my body responds to the rehabilitation, but it’s unlikely to be longer than six months. I’m already up walking and moving around, but that’s pretty much all I’m allowed to do. I will start some light work soon, just to activate my muscles, but I need to be really careful for the first month. I can’t risk pushing myself too hard and causing any further damage. I just have to take things slowly, step by step. If everything goes well, which I believe it will, I will be able to start some serious training in four months. Then I can use the summer to really push on, and get into even better shape than I was before the injury. Boxing is my life so it’s going to be a difficult time for me, but I have a great support network, with my family, friends and promoter Team Sauerland. I promise everyone that I will turn this into something positive and come back stronger than ever!”
This weekend the UFC returns to the state of Colorado for a UFC Fight Night card highlighted by former lightweight champion Benson Henderson bumping up a division to take on Brandon Thatch – a fighter often touted as the next big thing at 170 pounds . . . click here for more
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COMING UP NEXT: UFC FIGHT NIGHT BROOMFIELD on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT . . . Click here for more
On the anniversary of Buster Douglas’ knockout of Mike Tyson. More
“My shrink says I’m fine,” says Jermain Taylor. More
Trying to answer the big questions on Mayweather-Pacquiao. More
On Randy Caballero’s injury and cancelled fight. More
Once again the popular series of “Boxeo TELEMUNDO Ford” returns to “The Boxing City” Tampa, Florida with a show on Friday, March 13th at the A La Carte Pavillion. In the main event, the rivalry continues when former WBO Latin champion Jonathan “Pitbull” Vidal (18-3, 10 KOs) of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico faces current WBC FECARBOX super flyweight champion Ricardo “Meserito” Rodriguez (10-2, 3 KOs) of Mexico City, Mexico in a bout scheduled for 10 rounds with the vacant WBC Latin bantamweight title at stake. Both fighters went 1-1 on the “unofficial” tournament of the successful Boxeo Telemundo Series of 2014.
Also on the card local female flyweight sensation Noemi “La Rebelde” Bosques (8-1-2, 2 KOs) and local favorites light heavyweight Radivoje “Hot Rod” Kalajdzic (16-0, 10 KOs), welterweight Alfonso Black (8-1-1, 4 KOs), featherweight Ricky “The Cowboy” Tomlinson (4-0-2, 2 KOs) and super welterweight Omar Albanil (2-0, 2 KOs) amongst others. (more…)
Today Golden Boy Promotions announced and unveiled the new monthly Los Angeles-based boxing series, LA FIGHT CLUB, live from The Belasco Theater in Downtown Los Angeles. LA FIGHT CLUB will be featured as part of the popular, fan-favorite Golden Boy Live! serieson FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes and is set to premiere on Friday, March 6 with undefeated super bantamweight prospect and 2012 U.S. Olympian Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz Jr. (14-0, 9 KOs) facing off against Mexican brawler Geovanny “Lloviznas” Delgado (15-2, 9 KOs) in a 10-round super bantamweight bout.
In the co-main event, rising super featherweight knockout artist Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez (8-0, 8 KOs) will face an opponent yet to be named in a six-round fight. Opening the televised action is a super featherweight clash between a pair of Los Angeles prospects, as Santiago “El Lobito” Guevara (8-0, 3 KOs) squares off against Carlos “The Solution” Morales (6-1-3, 3 KOs) in a six-round bout. Plus, Irish middleweight prospect Jason Quigley (3-0, 3 KOs) will be featured in a four round bout hoping to get television air time against Lanny Dardar (2-2-2, 1 KOs) of Houma, Louisiana. (more…)
On Saturday afternoon, February 28, Carl Frampton will make the first defense of the IBF super bantamweight title when he takes on mandatory challenger Chris Avalos in a bout that can be seen live and exclusively in the United States on AWE–A Wealth of Entertainment. The card will originate from the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland and is promoted by Cyclone Promotions.
“I’m going to be gunning for the knockout once the bell rings.” said Bronco Billy. “I’ve been training very hard to get in the best shape of my life. I really want to take my career to the next level in 2015 and sacrifices will be made to accomplish that goal. Domingos and I both posses a lot of power in our punches, so it’s fair to say this fight won’t be going the distance. Everyone watching this fight is going to experience a very entertaining heavyweight fight…that you can take to the bank!” Tickets priced $20 general admission, $35 and $50, are on sale now and can be purchased by calling (702) 524-3331.
It was surprising for this reporter to see former three-time world champion Hilario Zapata of Panama here in Japan as the 56-year-old ex-champ served cornerman/trainer of Venezuelans Breilor Teran and Luis Araguayan on Monday and Tuesday respectively. Zapata belonged to the league named “Artful Dodgers” that consisted of Young Griffo, Jack Johnson, Gene Tunney (65-1-1, 48 KOs; we should more evaluate The Fighting Marine), Willie Pep, Miguel Canto, Pernell Whitaker, Floyd Mayweather Jr., etc. Zapata used to be a household name in the Japanese squared circle, where he was undefeated in five bouts all with the world title at stake. The flexible Panamanian southpaw annexed the WBC 108-pound belt by a close but unanimous decision over defending titlist Shigeo Nakajima in Tokyo, Japan, in 1980. Since then, Japan was a lucrative market for his manager Luis Spada and Zapata. The lanky southpaw, in his third defense, stopped ex-champ Nakajima in eleven rounds of a rematch in Gifu.
A very flexible technician with excellent body work, Zapata lost his WBC belt to Amado Ursua, who, however, yielded his belt to Japan’s Tadashi Tomori, from whom Zapata regained the same belt via split duke in 1982. The Panamanian southpaw came back to Japan to face ex-champ Tomori, whom he badly halted in eight lopsided rounds in November of the same year. (more…)
IBF President Daryl J. Peoples announced today that the 32nd Annual IBF/USBA Convention will be held at Le Centre Sheraton in Montreal, Canada from May 17-21, 2015. “We, at the organization, are optimistic that this convention in Montreal will be a successful one. Montreal is an exciting city with so much to do. It is a city full of culture and history with something going on at all times. Our sport is also very much a part of the fabric of this city and we are enthused by this opportunity to connect with the boxing community there.”
Peoples also announced that Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) certification for judges and referees will be offered during the convention. The referees seminar will be presented by Mark Nelson, and the judges seminar will be presented by Duane Ford.
Promoter Ahmet Öner confirmed to Fightnews that there were problems with the local promotion in Hungary, but says the rematch between heavyweights Tony Thompson and Odlanier Solis will definitely take place elsewhere on February 27th.
“Me and my partners invested a lot of money to bring the fight to Budapest and we thought that people would be happy to have a big show like this,” said Öner. “But now it seems that they don’t want us there. I have dealt with more difficult tasks in the past. I will find another venue in Europe so the fight can definitely go ahead on February 27 as planned. We have had too many postponements already because of medical problems. Both Tony Thompson and Odlanier Solis are well prepared and ready to fight. The sanctioning fees and flight tickets have been paid. So the fight will go ahead. I have a show in Adana (Turkey) this weekend (Feb. 14) and will present the new location for Solis vs. Thompson II within the next days.”
By Gabriel F. Cordero
Today marks one year since the election of Mauricio Sulaiman as president of the World Boxing Council. He was elected unanimously to replace his late father Jose Sulaiman. “It has been a year full of learning and experience,” said Sulaiman. “It’s a great responsibility to be president of 165 countries affiliated to the boxing world and have daily activity with the sport. We have to continue this legacy of my father and keep looking steadily keep this sport in a high level and doing the best for the boxer and boxing fans.”
In his first year, Sulaiman presided over the first WBC Women’s Convention and the WBC Annual Convention. In addition, he attended Summit Meetings with WBA and IBF leaders looking to improve boxing, made constant travels around the world to maintain the continued presence of the WBC and has remained constant communication with the media and various boxing commissions.
By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Boxing Beat
Muscular southpaw, WBO #13 super-light ex-Japanese champ Shinya Iwabuchi (24-5, 20 KOs), 140, displayed his superior power and physical strength—if not his finesse—in overpowering and overwhelming Venezuelan lightweight titlist Luis Araguayan (11-8, 6 KOs), 139.25, en route to a brutal knockout at 1:21 of the seventh round on Tuesday in Tokyo, Japan. Iwabuchi, a Bruce Lee-haired hard-puncher, had attempted to win the OPBF 140-pound belt from his compatriot Keita Obara only to be dispatched with a single left hook in the twelfth and final session last August. Fresh from a nightmare, Iwabuchi was aggressive from the outset, stalking the incessantly circling Venezuelan who looked sharp, skillful but least powerful. It looked a matter of time Iwabuchi would catch up with the lanky opponent, stop his footwork with body shots and finish him within the distance. His blueprint prevailed as planned, and Iwabuchi decked the negative dodger in rounds four and seven. In the fatal round Iwabuchi sent him to the canvas on three occasions a la Marlon Starling demolishing and dethroning Mark Breland in eleven rough-and-tumble rounds of their first encounter in 1987. Simply was Araguayan too powerless against the Japanese southpaw victor. (more…)
By Ognian Georgiev / Bulgaria Today
Ulli Wegner is the new coach of Bulgarian heavyweight Kubrat “The Cobra” Pulev (20-1, 11 KOs). Currently the 72-year-old German specialist is working with Sauerland’s world champions Arthur Abraham and Yoan-Pablo Hernandez. Pulev turned pro in 2009 and was prepared by Otto Ramin, whose contract expired at the end of last year and wasn’t renewed. Pulev was kayoed in his last fight by Wladimir Klitschko on November 15 in Hamburg. It was his first career loss as pro. The contract of Bulgarian with Sauerland expired on December 31 2014. After brief negotiations Pulev decided to sign a new one. (more…)
By Felipe Leon
Photo: Boxing Bob Newman
Sometimes getting a second chance makes you want to work even harder. For Los Angeles’ Brandon “The Cannon” Adams (15-1, 10KO), his second chance comes this Friday night when once again he is part of the Boxcino tournament broadcast live as part of ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights.” Presented by Banner Promotions, the first round will be held at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. Adams will be facing Alex “The Break City Bullet” Perez (18-1, 10KO) of Newark, New Jersey, in a six rounder in the first phase of the tournament.
Last year with only twelve pro fights under his belt and not that many more as a amateur, Adams was the least experienced participant in the first edition of the tournament held in the middleweight division but for Brandon, the married father of an eight month old son, in his mind all the combatants were the same. “It never bothered me, it didn’t really cross my mind,” Adams said calmly as he rested after an intense training session under the tutelage of his trainer Dub Huntley. “Going into the tournament, I just thought as all us being beginners in the tourney, it was our first fight. I knew that they had more experience but in the tournament, we were all starting from the same place.” (more…)
After suffering a unanimous decision loss in his fight against the veteran Jussier Formiga last summer, Zach “Fun Size” Makovsky found himself out of the contender conversation as quickly as he entered it . . . click here for more
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COMING UP NEXT: UFC FIGHT NIGHT BROOMFIELD on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT . . . Click here for more
Having spent time with Martin Murray in Johannesburg at the weekend, South African promoter Rodney Berman says he expects a fierce contest when Murray and Gennady Golovkin square off on February 21 in Monte Carlo for Golovkin’s WBA super, WBC interim and IBO middleweight titles. Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) is on a record 18 consecutive knockouts and will be seeking another against Murray (29-1-1, 12 KOs), The WBC’s #1 contender. Golovkin is a 25:1 favorite.
“Obviously Martin is in the best shape he’s ever been, having worked incredibly hard in the summer heat down here,” said Berman. “He’s pretty much in a no-lose situation because of the aura around Golovkin. If he goes the distance and doesn’t get the decision, that’s okay based on the reputation of Golovkin. But if Martin wins the world will be his oyster.”
According to Berman, “this is Golovkin’s first real test. He’s fighting a guy who, to all intents and purposes, is unbeaten. He’s bigger and he can handle himself. Murray also won’t freeze. He’s known dark times and dealt with trauma, fighting a man with two arms, like him, holds no fears.”
By Karl Freitag
Looks like the February 27 rematch between heavyweights Tony Thompson and Odlanier Solis slated for February 27 at Millenaris Park in Budapest, Hungary, will be cancelled. Word is local promoter Felix Racz (Felix Promotion) pulled the plug on the event after several payment deadlines were missed by the card’s Hungarian financial backers. The bout was to be televised live on Sport TV (Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic) and on Eurosport March 10th.
It’s possible that lead promoter Ahmet Oener (Arena Box-Promotion) can find another venue and/or date for the fight, but February 27 in Hungary is off as of now. Solis-Thompson II had already been postponed three times previously. The bout was originally scheduled for October 18 before Solis twisted his ankle. A rescheduled November 22 date couldn’t take place because Solis’ injury took longer than expected to heal. A January 24 date in Dusseldorf, Germany, also fell through. Now we have this latest setback.
Thompson upset Solis in their first fight last March in Turkey when he won by split decision. This is an important crossroads fight for both fighters if it ever happens.
Paul Smith can settle the score with Arthur Abraham in their WBO world super middleweight championship rematch on February 21 at the O2 World in Berlin, Germany. Smith was left disappointed after finding himself on the wrong end of a unanimous points decision in his first attempt to dethrone the German champion. The 32 year-old is aware he may face an even tougher task in the repeat of their September showdown, but he is certain he can bring the belt back to Britain. “I’m extremely confident,” said Smith. “I went into the first fight believing I could beat Abraham, this time I go into the fight knowing I can beat him. I know what I am in with now and I’m 100% confident I will win. He won’t be able to rely on the judges this time.
“I do believe Abraham will be fitter this time, he will come to fight and that is exactly what I’ve prepared for. I’m certainly fitter and better than last time too, and I‘ve improved technically. The first fight for me was a chance to prove that I belong at world level. Although, I didn’t get the decision, I felt I beat him and I got a massive confidence boost from that. I now know I belong at world level and I know I can mix it with the best.”
Amir Khan says Kell Brook fight not big enough
Card captures classic Detroit boxing
Buster Douglas still connecting with fans
By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Boxing Beat
A confrontation of unbeaten young prospects sounds good enough to attract a sellout crowd at the Korakuen Hall. Unbeaten Japanese super-featherweight champ Rikki Naito (12-0, 5 KOs), 130, barely kept his national belt as he eked out a hairline majority decision (96-95, 97-94, 95-95) over previously unbeaten ex-WBC youth titlist Masayuki Ito (16-1-1, 7 KOs), 129.75, over ten see-saw rounds on Monday in Tokyo, Japan. Rikki, the 23-year-old son of former Orient middle champ Junichi “Cassius” Naito, utilized his southpaw jabs and fast footwork, and overcame Ito’s smashing rights to the face. We saw good rallies of the excellent speedsters, each of whom repeatedly hit the air due to the counterpart’s good mobility. After the fifth, the interim tallies were announced: 48-48, 48-47 (Naito) and 49-47 (Ito). Naito, from the sixth, turned loose to pile up some more points as he became aggressive with quick combinations, while Ito, 24, only kept throwing a solid right at a time. The southpaw champ seemingly took three rounds from the sixth, which carried him to a very close victory. (more…)
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