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May 20, 2018
May 20, 2018
Nicola Adams

Action Images/Peter Cziborra

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NICOLA ADAMS has set her sights on fighting for a world title in her home city of Leeds after recording a sensational first-round knockout of Soledad del Valle Frias at Elland Road.

The two-time Olympic flyweight champion put her divisional rivals on notice after starring in what was supposed to be her toughest test in her fourth fight as a professional.

A fierce left to the body just before the bell sounded left her Argentinian opponent in agony and she was counted out – although there was speculation the round lasted longer than the two minutes scheduled.

The official ending was recorded at one minute and 59 seconds in what was slated to be a 10-round bout, and Adams has already turned her attentions towards challenging for world honours later this year.

Nicola Adams made light work of her opponent
Nicola Adams made light work of her opponent (Dave Thompson/PA)

She told BT Sport: “I’d love to be able to do that here in Leeds, it would be unbelievable.

“I’m really happy to have been able to put on a good performance tonight.”

Adams has endured a fraught past few months, with her mother Dee battling breast cancer while she has also split from her partner Marlen Esparza this year and changed trainer to Nonito Donaire Sr due to Virgil Hunter’s unknown illness.

But the 35-year-old cast off the shackles of a difficult build-up in style, forcing Valle Frias on to the ropes from the off.

Nicola Adams (left) was a comfortable winner
Nicola Adams (left) was a comfortable winner (Dave Thompson/PA)

Former three-time world title challenger Valle Frias was five and a half pounds heavier than Adams at Friday’s weigh-in but it made little difference to the Briton, who closed the show in style.

Her promoter Frank Warren said: “I think she’ll be fighting for a world title very, very soon. Sooner rather than later.

“She’s had a tough year and she’s done brilliantly to be where she’s at so now it’s all about onwards and upwards and we’re working very hard to make sure she gets that title fight.”

May 20, 2018
May 20, 2018
iran barkley

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MATT FARRAGO has braved the New York rain to meet me at Morris Park Boxing Club in the East Bronx. For the previous few weeks, the President of Ring 10, a non profit boxing charity, and I have swapped several text messages arranging this meeting, but it’s only while on the congested 5 subway train from Manhattan to the Boogie Down region that a quick scan of Google Images identifies the man I’m supposed to be looking for.

Inside a bustling gym, Farrago stands out. His smart-casual attire is distinct from the routine gym wear that abounds and I’m certain he recognises me due to my clothing selection being similarly inappropriate for exercise. The ex-fighter nods at me like we’re old friends then salutes me with a firm handshake, strengthening his grip like most boxers do. It took me some time to find the place, but I tell Farrago it was easy enough as we engage in some small talk while admiring the fight-show posters that wallpaper the interior.

He suggests a nearby diner so we can talk Ring 10 and, once cosily ensconced, Farrago lights up as he tells me all about the outstanding charity work the organisation has contributed. “We don’t make a single cent from it,” declares Farrago, his eyes hiding behind spectacles fully focused on my notepad to see if I’m transcribing his earnest words. “Every single donation that Ring 10 receives goes straight out helping some boxer out there who needs it. Everything we make is given to the fighters.”

Farrago’s initial boxing aspirations were of the selfish variety harboured by most young fighters finding their way in the sport. A product of the unforgiving New York streets that has given birth to ample dangerous combatants, Farrago failed to hit the heights reached by some of his peers though chalked up an admirable 25-2-1 record in a career that lasted from 1983 until his retirement eight years later. Farrago fought on big shows, but never in big fights, and although the spotlight didn’t focus its bright glow in his direction, Farrago earned the respect of the fight community, and that was good enough for him.

“They were good times; hard times, but good times,” reflects Farrago before ordering a second Diet Pepsi, having evaporated the first one. “It’s not how it is now where kids are really only interested in the money. People wanted to be boxers back then because they had a sense of pride, and because it gave you some sense of purpose, an identity. It meant something to be a fighter back in New York then. The gyms were much busier, there were more gyms, you could get a good workout all over the place back then and there was respect from everybody involved.”

As well as throwing himself ferociously into every contest, Farrago embraced the traditions of the sport and was constantly in awe of the fight game’s old-timers. These were soldiers who had laid the path for him, and so many others, and Farrago greatly valued any time spent in their company.

“I would sit with the older fighters any chance I could and just take in some of the craziest stories you could possibly hear,” he recalls, almost as rapt in conveying the story as he was living it. “They were men who spent the best part of their lives fighting and what did they have to show for it? Nothing. I wanted to try and be part of something, something bigger than boxing, because these ex-fighters need someone to look out for them when their career is over and that’s what I want Ring 10 to be.”

Initially a major figure within Ring 8, another charitable boxing group, Farrago didn’t like the direction in which they were heading and broke away to form Ring 10. He lists a large number of fighters who benefitted from the company’s generosity, but Matt is quick to highlight the confidential nature of some of these transactions.

“I’m wishing right now I could line up all the guys who have had things taken care of by Ring 10, but I have to respect their privacy because some of these fighters can’t believe their [bad] luck when they find themselves asking for stuff,” Farrago explains. “But there are others that are happy to acknowledge the work we do. We make sure a cheque reaches the family of [severely ailing legend] Wilfred Benitez every single month. We helped Aaron Davis with some medical bills. Iran Barkley fell on some really bad times and we did all we could to get him going again. It’s so rewarding to be able to help these ex-fighters, guys who put it all on the line, but this shouldn’t be the job of a charity when there are people in the sport making so much money.”

Farrago, now a successful salesman in the New York area, is more than content with the role he plays in boxing. With Ring 10 taking up a significant portion of his time by way of multiple fundraisers and publicising the group’s existence, the diverse roles Farrago held within the Empire State’s boxing circle have been replaced by a singular focus: making Ring 10 a bigger success than it already is.

“We’re still working on it,” he confirms, determination evident in his tone. “The big boys know about us, but they won’t mention us because it makes them look bad. My dream in life is for Ring 10 to no longer exist because when that happens, I’ll be safe in the knowledge that boxing finally has a union, or the big boys are passing some of the money down and looking after those fighters who need it the most. When that day arrives and I no longer have to do this, that will be one of the happiest days of my life.”

For more information on Ring10 or to make a donation, please visit their website at www.ring10.org.

May 20, 2018
May 20, 2018
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Video: Raphael Baker

May 20, 2018
May 20, 2018
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Video: Raphael Baker

May 20, 2018
May 20, 2018
Tyson Fury

Action Images/Lee Smith

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TYSON FURY will face Sefer Seferi over ten rounds in his highly-anticipated June 9 comeback fight, live on BT Sport.

The former WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight world champion will end an exile of over two-and-a-half years when he fights at the Manchester Arena for the first time in his career.

‘Gypsy King’ Fury looks in incredible shape, having lost a remarkable seven stone since teaming up with new trainer Ben Davison.

Albania’s Seferi holds a record of 23 wins from 24 fights, with 21 of his wins coming by way of knockout. His sole career loss came against WBA ‘regular’ heavyweight champion Manuel Charr, when he was outpointed over ten rounds.

“I can’t wait to get in there and prove that I’m a better fighter than I’ve ever been,” said Fury. “I’m coming into the prime of my career now and I’ve never felt better. I’m fitter, stronger and faster than the Fury of 2015.

“We’re just three weeks away from what is going to be a huge night for the city of Manchester. I’m delighted to be fighting at the iconic Manchester Arena for the first time in my career and I’m promising the fans a special performance to thank them for their loyal support.”

“This is going to be a hard fight for Fury,” said Seferi. “I’m very disciplined and always ready to take on everyone and anyone. This will not be an easy night for him. I’m coming to Manchester to beat one of the boxing legends of the 21st century.

“He is tall and strong but he won’t be ready for the pressure that I will bring on June 9. Two-and-a-half years out of the ring is a long time and nobody knows if he is still the same fighter that dethroned Wladimir Klitschko. I am going to seize this opportunity with both hands.”

Tyson Fury

“Tyson is back, in fantastic shape and full of beans, ready to take the first step on the road back towards world domination once again,” said Frank Warren. “He needs comeback fights in order to shake off the ring rust after such a lengthy absence and I am sure the fans will once again enjoy the ride back to the top.

“Seferi is no push over, he’s gone the distance with a world class fighter in Manuel Charr. He has spent the majority of his career at cruiserweight but so had Tony Bellew and David Haye before stepping up to the heavyweight division.”

Also confirmed for ‘He’s Back’ is the vacant WBC International middleweight title fight between Oldham’s ‘Kid Dynamite’ Mark Heffron (19-0, 15 KO’s) and Andrew Robinson (21-3-1, 6 KO’s);

Liverpool’s James Metcalf (17-0, 9 KO’s) takes on Jorge Fortea (16-1-1, 5 KO’s) for the vacant WBC International super-welterweight championship;

A huge night of boxing in Manchester also sees local hero Terry Flanagan (33-0, 13 KO’s) bid to become a two-weight world champion when he clashes with unbeaten American Maurice Hooker (23-0-3, 16 KO’s) for the vacant WBO super-lightweight crown;

Ricky Hatton-trained Heavyweight prospect Nathan Gorman (12-0, 10 KO’s) collides with rival ‘Big Sexy’ Sean Turner (12-2, 8 KO’s) over ten rounds; unbeaten middleweight prospects Troy Williamson (6-0, 4 KO’s) and Jack Flatley (11-0, 4 KO’s) rematch after their Senior ABA final in 2015 that Williamson won.

Zelfa Barrett, Jordan Thompson, Lyndon Arthur, Jack Massey and Jack McGann complete an unmissable card.

May 20, 2018
May 20, 2018
badou jack

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AFTER a bout of see-saw excitement and guts aplenty, Adonis Stevenson clung on to his WBC light-heavyweight title after two of the judges scored his 12-rounder with Badou Jack a draw.

The decision, when one considers the current 10-point must system, was fair yet it was easy to have some sympathy for the challenger, whose periods of domination appeared more telling than those of 40-year-old Stevenson.

The champion made a strong start, though, boxing smartly before the tireless Jack turned things round at the halfway point and by the end Stevenson – in his ninth defence – was reeling under intense pressure.

Jack, 34, was having his second major bout at 175lbs since relinquishing his WBC super-middleweight title last year. His first, a fifth-round stoppage win over Nathan Cleverly last August, highlighted his strength at the new weight yet against Stevenson, particularly in the first half, that resolve was tested.

badou jack

“I went to the body and saw that he was fatigued,” said Stevenson afterwards. “I had to keep the pressure on him. He’s a slick fighter, a two-time world champion but I felt I won the fight.

“I used both hands. I touched him a lot with the right hand on the body and slowed him down. He tried to come and attack me. I feel like I won the fight but I’ll give him a rematch if he wants it.”

The rematch is a natural after the drama of the second half. The bout swung in the seventh as Jack put his punches together with newfound purpose. Stevenson sagged under their weight, survived the eighth, before a savage uppercut bloodied his nose in the ninth.

But Stevenson, 29-1-1 (24), regained his composure and an element of control in the 10th as he again targeted the challenger’s body. The pair exchanged throughout the 11th yet it was Jack, winded again, who appeared to be wilting suddenly.

However, in the final session the momentum swung yet again as Jack rallied impressively and Stevenson, seemingly on the brink, did well to hear the final bell.

badou jack

Jack’s celebrations were more convincing at the end but only one judge turned in the score he wanted. Two officials notched 114-114 as the third favoured Jack, now 22-1-3 (13), via 115-113.

“I thought I definitely won the fight,” said Jack, who drew for the third time in his career. “No judge had him winning. I have no idea why I can’t get a decision. It could be that they’re jealous of [my promoter] Floyd [Mayweather] and don’t like him. I’m one of his top fighters. I can’t do anything about it. I’m not the judge. I have to respect their decision.

“Maybe I started the fight too slow. I gave away those rounds. He didn’t really hit me. I can’t do anything about it, let’s do a rematch in Las Vegas. I came to his backyard, it’s time he comes out to Vegas.”

May 20, 2018
May 20, 2018
Gary Russell Jr

Amanda Westcott/Showtime

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ON the same night (Saturday May 19) that Lee Selby lost his IBF featherweight title to Josh Warrington in Leeds, American Gary Russell Jr made sure that he kept hold of his WBC belt in Oxon Hill by unanimously outpointing countryman Joseph Diaz.

Fighting at the MGM National Harbor in his home state of Maryland, Russell did not have things all his own way in the early rounds against fellow former amateur standout Diaz. The game Californian challenger attacked the body well, while Russell let his hands go freely in response, with his brilliant jab proving particularly effective.

Despite not looking entirely comfortable when having his midsection targeted, Russell was able to take full control in the second half of the all-southpaw fight with his lightning-quick, accurate punches both upstairs and downstairs.

After 12 rounds of entertaining action, the sharp-hitting champion from nearby Capitol Heights received a well-deserved verdict by scores of 115-113 and 117-111 twice. In claiming the victory – his third successful world championship defence – Russell became the first man to defeat Downey’s Diaz.

Boxing News’ No. 1 126-pounder Russell – who injured his right hand early on in the bout – was quick to call out the other featherweight world titlists afterwards, before declaring that he could even step up to super-featherweight if the right contests can’t be made in his current weight class.

“We want a unification. We want to unify this division, or we’re moving up in weight for another title,” Russell said. “I want another belt.”