January 13, 2018
January 13, 2018
Callum Smith

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THE Ali Trophy semi-final clash in the super middleweight edition of the World Boxing Super Series between Callum Smith (23-0, 17 KOs) and Juergen Braehmer (49-3, 35 KOs) takes place at the Arena Nürnberger Versicherung, Germany on February 24.

“We are very much looking forward to bring the Ali Trophy experience to Nuremberg on February 24,” said Kalle Sauerland, Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer

“Smith vs. Braehmer – England vs. Germany – it’s a classic anyway, but this one pits youth vs. experience. Smith is eager to show the world he is the best while Braehmer is entering the last chance saloon. The outcome is unpredictable, it’s going to be a thrilling night in Germany and a fitting event for the last of our semi-final fixtures.“

Both 27-year-old Smith and 39-year-old Braehmer appeared as serious contenders to win the Muhammad Trophy with their quarter-final performances last year.

Britain’s Smith claimed a 116-112, 117-110, 117-111 victory on the judges’ cards and advanced to the semi-final after a thrilling match against Sweden’s Erik Skoglund at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

Callum Smith

Germany’s Braehmer proved age is just a number when he beat American hope Rob Brant in dominant fashion at the Kongresshalle in Schwerin with the judges scoring it 119-109, 118-110 and 116-112 in favour of the former light heavyweight world titleholder.

“I believe I will beat Jurgen Braehmer anywhere in the world and it is a nice away trip for my fans,” said 27-year-old Callum Smith before adding: “I am the better man, the younger, fresher man, and I believe I will do what needs to be done to get to the final.”

“I am looking forward to the fight,” said 39-year-old Juergen Braehmer.

“Callum is a good fighter, but I feel confident that I will win this fight. I am in this tournament because I strongly believe I have the ability to win it. Next step towards my goal is a victory in Nuremberg.”

 

January 12, 2018
January 12, 2018
Deontay Wilder

Ryan Hafey/PBC

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ANOTHER blockbuster boxing event will come to Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING®, as unbeaten heavyweight world champion “The Bronze Bomber” Deontay Wilder defends his title against unbeaten contender Luis Ortiz on Saturday, March 3 in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

Wilder-Ortiz is a long-awaited matchup of undefeated, consensus top-five fighters facing off in the resurgent heavyweight division and marks Wilder’s third appearance at Barclays Center.

Tickets for the show, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment and TGB Promotions, start at $50 and go on sale Tuesday, January 16 at 10 a.m. To purchase tickets, visit Ticketmaster.com, BarclaysCenter.com, or call 800-745-3000. Tickets for the event can also be purchased at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center beginning Wednesday, January 17 at noon.

“We are thrilled to welcome the heavyweight champ back to Barclays Center for his second-consecutive fight after a big first round knockout of Bermane Stiverne in our ring last November,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. “Deontay’s long-awaited bout with Ortiz is sure to be one of 2018’s best matchups.”

Luis Ortiz

Wilder returns to Barclays Center after most recently scoring a sensational first round knockout of Bermane Stiverne on November 4, 2017 and previously delivering a highlight reel knockout of Artur Szpilka in January 2016. America’s only reigning heavyweight champion will look to put on another unforgettable performance when he faces his toughest opponent to date in Ortiz.

January 12, 2018
January 12, 2018
Jake Ball vs Joe Sherriff

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A devastating knockout defeat can mean many things all at once. In the case of Jake Ball, the light-heavyweight from Frimley, a first-round knockout loss to JJ McDonagh in 2016 acts as inspiration and motivation, and has also encouraged him to alter his style, rely less on power, and essentially rediscover his boxing skills.

But that doesn’t mean he wants to think about it, much less discuss or revisit it. A necessary evil, it is something that was profoundly negative and damaging at the time but has since been reshaped into something positive, something that, he believes, will turn him into an all-round better fighter.

“I took a lot away from that defeat,” he tells Boxing News, “and my last few fights have shown that. I’m a lot more composed and patient now. If I hit them and hurt them, I’ll try and knock them out, but it’s not all about the knockout. You just have to win.

“I’m a boxer, not a brawler. That’s what I did throughout my amateur career – box. I’m not a big knockout merchant. I know I carry power but I think what you’ll see me display now is my boxing ability rather than my ability to take someone’s head off.”

The reason Jake Ball nearly had his head taken off his shoulders by JJ McDonagh was because Jake Ball was trying to take JJ McDonagh’s head off his shoulders. It’s how most big knockouts occur. It is, indeed, the very nature of the sport. But you don’t have to explain this to Ball. He knows this already. It’s why he is able to be philosophical about the loss and move on from it.

“That’s in the past now,” he says. “We don’t really talk about that a great deal. It’s been over a year now since it happened.

“I was literally in the gym three or four days later. I knew it was down to me that I lost the fight. I wasn’t thinking about the shots coming back at me. I was only worried about what I was going to throw. In the fights before that I was knocking everyone out. I got carried away. Sometimes you need to be taught a lesson and I was taught a big lesson that night.

“People seem to forget I walked on to the shot. It was my own fault. I hit JJ very cleanly at the start of the round and wobbled him. He went back and I went hell-for-leather. I went mad. I then got caught with a silly shot on the way out. It was my own mistake. It was inexperience. I rushed in with my hands down and paid the price.”

Ball, 25, admits he would have fought “the next day” if given the chance. There was, he says, no hangover, no sudden introspection or self-doubt. He simply brushed himself down, watched the trauma back on tape, and then worked extra hard in the gym with his coach Jim McDonnell.

“I’ve got to the point where things like that don’t really affect me,” he says. “I didn’t mind watching it. I’ve shown, coming back as strong as I have, that I’m over it. I know when I do something right and something wrong. As soon as it happened, I knew I had done something wrong. We sat down to see why it happened and corrected it.”

By “correct it” he means this: Jake Ball got back on the horse, fought four times in 2017, winning every single one of them, and ended the year with an impressive and comprehensive victory over solid domestic contender Miles Shinkwin to lift the WBA inter-continental light-heavyweight title.

“For me, 2017 was a great experience,” Ball says. “Getting two 10-round fights in the bank was brilliant. In the pro game it’s nice to get knockouts but that isn’t always the way. It’s good to know I could do the rounds. I thought I did the ten rounds with ease. That gives you added confidence because you know you’ve been there and done it.

“My last two opponents (Shinkwin and Joe Sherriff) were top British contenders. I fought 20 rounds against them and 13 of them I fought with one hand. I’m looking forward to having my hand sorted and being able to fight at 100%.”

The Shinkwin victory at York Hall didn’t just showcase Ball’s improved patience and composure, it also landed him a number 14 ranking with the WBA (albeit three places below the highest-ranked Brit, ‘nightclub entrepreneur’ Joe Fournier), the first world ranking of his two-and-a-half-year professional career.

“That’s what I’m in boxing for,” Ball, 11-1 (8 KOs), says of the ranking. “It’s good to be ranked at 14 but I want to be number one. This is a step in the right direction.

“This time next year I’d like to be between seven and five with the WBA. That’s the plan.”

Ultimately, the higher Jake Ball rises up the rankings, the more he distances himself from the very thing that pushes him to get better.

January 12, 2018
January 12, 2018
Eddie Hearn

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EDDIE HEARN has responded to rival promoter Frank Warren’s claims that staging Amir Khan’s April 21 comeback on the same night as Carl Frampton-Nonito Donaire is “stupid” and shows a lack of respect for boxing.

In a conversation with Boxing News, Hearn strongly objected to the accusations, and the wording of the article that reported them, which concluded with a swipe at promoters for this situation occurring too frequently.

The clash means fans who watch at home will be forced to choose between the two, affecting the viewing figures for both Sky Sports, who will broadcast Khan, and BT Sport, who alongside BoxNation will showcase Frampton.

“I completely understand the fans’ disappointment because Frampton-Donaire is a good fight,” Hearn explained. “And the clash is unfortunate, it really is. But it’s not like we set out to do it on the same night. We were working on this [Khan comeback] for two to three weeks, and our understanding at that point was that Frampton was fighting on April 7.

“But what other promoters are doing isn’t at the forefront of our minds while we’re trying to get everything resolved, just as we’re not at the forefront of theirs. By the time we found out that Frampton was fighting on April 21, which was two days before we announced Khan, we were at the point of no return.

“We already had the backdrop [for press conference] printed, we had the date booked with Sky and we had booked the venue [Echo Arena in Liverpool], which is the biggest we could get for that weekend.”

Even if Hearn was in a position to change his plans, Team Khan were not, the promoter insisted.

“Look, we’ve already got events in April, [Tony]Bellew-[David] Haye is on May 5 so that left May 12. But that’s too late for Khan if you want another fight in the summer.”

Khan is eager to kick-start his career and Hearn insists Warren, who predicted Khan will fight a “stiff”, is going to be surprised when the Bolton star’s opponent is announced next week.

“I sent a list of a dozen or so names to [Khan’s trainer] Virgil Hunter last night [Thursday]. Names like Josesito Lopez, Adrian Granados, Sammy Vazquez, Antonio DeMarco and more. They want a test after two years out. Does that make me nervous? Yes it does. But it’s good news for the fans.

“I will be doing everything I can to build a night of boxing to dwarf their [BT Sport’s] viewing figures and they will be doing exactly the same.

“It’s the competition that is healthy for boxing. We all want to build the best possible events. The clashes are not healthy, admittedly, but we have to take the rough with the smooth.

“This situation is not great for anybody, it’s not great for us but it’s worse for them [Queensberry and BT Sport]. They are going to lose 80 per cent of their audience. And looking at their viewing figures, we might lose 100,000 viewers but of course I would rather have 100 per cent of the boxing audience looking at our event.

“He [Warren] will only moan about it when our shows are bigger. He knows the size of Amir Khan and that’s the reality. He wouldn’t be moaning if he was going up against one of our NxtGen shows at York Hall, or even the [Lawrence] Okolie-[Isaac] Chamberlain show at the O2.”

Surely, Boxing News suggested, there must be a way to stop clashes like this occurring in the future?

“With constant dialogue between all promoters, with constant meetings. But that’s not going to happen is it?

“What am I going to do in the middle of getting everything booked and signed? Phone up Frank [Warren]? ‘Hi Frank, have you got anything on April 21?’ ‘Yes, I’ve got Frampton.’ ‘Well, can you move it?’ ‘No.’

“We’re all in a reactionary business and if you snooze you lose, and it’s a dirty business. It always has been. People have been blocking promoters from getting venues, it has been going on for years and years.

“Look at the situation in New York on March 3. Sergey Kovalev is fighting and Deontay Wilder fights Luis Ortiz on a different bill. Was that a deliberate attempt from either side to sabotage the other? Probably not.

“This is boxing, this is going to happen.”

WARREN: HEARN IS STUPID AND DISRESPECTFUL

 

January 12, 2018
January 12, 2018
Lucas Matthysse

Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

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ARGENTINA’S Lucas Matthysse (38-4, 35 KOs) hosted a media workout in Indio, California ahead of his 12-round fight against Tewa Kiram (38-0. 28 KOs) for the vacant WBA welterweight crown on January 27, 2018 in a special double main event at the Forum Inglewood, California. In the second part of the double main event, Jorge Linares (43-3, 27 KOs) will defend his WBA, WBC Diamond and Ring Magazine lightweight titles against Mercito Gesta (31-1-2, 17 KOs) in a 12-round battle.

On the non-televised portion of the card, Marcelino Lopez (33-2, 18 KOs), who will return in 10-round super lightweight fight against a soon-to-be announced opponent, and Vergil Ortiz Jr (8-0, 8 KOs), who is preparing for his 2018 comeback on a soon-to-be announced card, also participated in the workout. Featherweight prospect and training partner of the fighters, Javier Martinez (4-0, 3 KOs), also was in attendance as he prepares to open the night of action in a six-round bout.

All photos: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

Lucas Matthysse Lucas Matthysse Lucas Matthysse Lucas Matthysse Lucas Matthysse MatthysseWorkout_Hoganphotos LopezWorkout_Hoganphotos1 OrtizWorkout_Hoganphotos1

LUCAS MATTHYSSE

“Training camp has been excellent. I did a little bit of training in Argentina before coming here. to Indio. Training with Joel Diaz and the entire team has been great. I know that Tewa Kiram is a hard puncher and can fight on the outside, but on Jan. 27 I’ll become world champion. I’ve beaten the best at 140 pounds, and now I’ll beat the best at 147 pounds. A win against Kiram will put me at the top of the division.”

MARCELINO LOPEZ

“Whether I not I know who my opponent is does not make a difference. I will still train hard. When I knocked out Pablo Cesar Cano, it was a great victory for me because he’s a tough former world champion. He’s fought the best and has fought to decisions with them as well. I finished the fight in two rounds, and I know I’ll be having bigger and better fights in the future because of that.”

VERGIL ORTIZ, JR

“Lucas Matthysse is a great person and a funny guy. Sparring with him was great. You have to watch out because he hits hard and has a lot of tricks. I feel like I’ll do my best under the Joel Diaz training camp. I feel like I won’t slack off with him and do my best. Maybe in 2018 my knockout streak will end as I fight tougher and tougher opponents.”

DANIEL MARTINEZ

“Whatever they put in my way in this new year, I’ll do. I’d like to fight more rounds and fight better opponents. I want to move up the rankings this year and be in very tough fights.”

ERIC GOMEZ, President of Golden Boy Promotions

“This fight with Lucas Matthysse was mandated by the WBA. This is a dangerous fight. He’s an undefeated puncher with a great style, and they’re both big punchers. I know it’s going to be a great fight, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

January 12, 2018
January 12, 2018
Jane Couch

Action Images/Richard Heathcote

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Jane Couch giveth, Jane Couch taketh away.

On one hand ‘The Fleetwood Assassin’ tells you the state of women’s boxing has vastly improved, both in terms of profile and opportunity, and on the other hand she warns you not to get carried away. Then in one breath she calls the likes of Katie Taylor, Claressa Shields and Chantelle Cameron talented fighters, better than many in her era, and in the next she waxes lyrical about Lucia Rijker, a woman she bravely battled in 2003, and explains why none of the new breed would stand a chance of beating her.

Hedging her bets? No. Jane Couch, as is her custom, is simply keeping it real.

“She was just f**king mustard,” Couch says of Rijker, the world super-lightweight champion from Holland who retired with a perfect 17-0 record. Even now, there’s not a girl who could lace her boots. None of the girls today would beat her. She was something else. She perforated my eardrum in the first round and I thought I was f**king brain damaged.

“The toughest opponent I fought was Sandra Geiger, the French girl, but the best I fought, technically, was Rijker. She was on a whole different level. It was just like sparring a world-class male. In fact, she was dropping a lot of well-known male fighters in the gym with body shots.”

Fifteen years ago, Couch and Rijker fought at the Staples Center in the opening bout of a pay-per-view show headlined by the world heavyweight title fight between Lennox Lewis and Vitali Klitschko. They went eight rounds. Rijker, demonstrating all her brilliance, won every one of them. But it was Couch’s guts, resilience and determination that stole the hearts of the Los Angeles crowd.

“For a woman, Rijker’s strength and powerful was unreal,” Couch recalls. “One thing I could rely on when fighting women is that they wouldn’t be powerful enough to budge me or hurt me. They didn’t have the power. I’d walk forward and wouldn’t let them think. But even Rijker’s jab was powerful. You could feel the power in every shot. She was so well-trained.”

The reward for Rijker’s artistry was a measly five thousand dollar cheque that June night. Couch, meanwhile, the one on the receiving end, the one handing Rijker the paint brushes and offering her own face as canvas, went back to Bristol with just three-and-a-half.

It was, in many ways, a microcosm of the struggle, not only for Jane Couch but women’s boxing as a whole. After all, here they were, doing the very same thing the men were doing, on the biggest boxing night of the year, and here was Rijker looking better, technically, than many of the men on the card, and Couch being braver than many of the men on the card, yet walking away with what amounted to loose change.

“People go, ‘Oh, Jane, I bet you’re f**king loaded!’ I just laugh.

“Even today, at a time when women’s boxing is doing well, the girls will be struggling. It’s better, yeah, but the only one who is probably doing well is Katie Taylor and even Katie won’t be doing as well, financially, as everybody thinks. Her saving grace is Sky Sports and the Irish fans. Without those things, it would be really hard for her.

“Girls like Natasha Jonas, Chantelle Cameron and Stacy Copeland are just boxing on normal shows. They’re probably getting a few hundred quid for a fight. But people don’t see that.

“The problem is, there’s not enough depth yet. Our girls haven’t fought anybody decent. It will happen in the future, they’ll find better opponents, but it’s not happening right now.”

katie taylor

The talent pool is shallow. That much is clear to anyone who has found themselves caught up in the recent rise of women’s boxing and been torn between admiring the quality of the favourite and sympathising with the limitations of the opponent.

“Some of them now are better than some of the journeyman girls we used to fight,” Couch says. “Back then they were just tough girls. Now they have a bit more skill.

“The problem is the power, though. Most fights go the distance and don’t have that drama. That turns people off. We’re never going to get a puncher like Lucia Rijker again. She was a one-off.”

The same could be said of Couch. Her last fight was eleven years ago yet she remains one of the more recognisable and important characters associated with the women’s boxing movement. In fact, were it not for her, the battle facing the likes of Taylor, Jonas, Cameron, Copeland and Nicola Adams might be a hell of a lot tougher.

“I wouldn’t want to do it now because then I wouldn’t have paved the way, would I” Couch says. “I was a lot younger when I did it and was a real cheeky little thing. I’ve matured now; I’m 49.

“I didn’t really understand the boxing world back then. I didn’t really know what was going on. I just found myself doing it. I wasn’t doing it for all the women. I look at it now, though, and think fair play, I’m glad I did what I did.

“Then again, I look at the younger ones like Stacy and Natasha and I know for a fact they’re just boxing on tiny shows making very small amounts of money and that makes me sad. The only ones who will do anything in this sport are the ones with a TV platform. If you haven’t got that, you might as well be boxing in Fleetwood Town Hall in front of your friends and family. No one cares.”

If anyone knows, Jane Couch knows.

January 12, 2018
January 12, 2018
Joe Frazier

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WHEN the late Philadelphian warrior was laid to rest in 2011, Joe Frazier’s fortune was long gone and his health had been waning for some years but his reputation as one of the best gunslingers the heavyweight division had seen was firmly in tact.

The man who was raised as a child in Beaufort, North Carolina – in the rural community of Laurel Bay – but took the bus north to New York for settling in the City of Brotherly Love.

He became an amateur fighter, inspired by memories of his family watching boxing on their old black and white television set, and his unpaid career culminated in a 1964 gold medal in Tokyo and he turned professional with the backing of a group of local businessmen who formed the Cloverlay Partnership.

His trainer, Yank Durham, helped put the consortium together and they invested in him so Frazier could train full-time and he started off on the right foot, stopping Woody Goss in the first round in his debut.

Frazier, a fabulous left-hooker, made short work of many men and in 1966 Eddie Futch was brought onboard as an assistant trainer.

And ‘Smokin’ Joe’s charge had started.

He beat the likes of Oscar Bonavena and Eddie Machen, top contenders, in 1966 and a year later halted Doug Jones in six. Then he stopped the immovable Canadian, George Chuvalo, and defeated his old amateur rival Buster Mathis Snr in the 11th round.

By the time Cassius Clay, then Muhammad Ali, refused the Vietnam draft and was had his licence taken away, Frazier was clearly the best heavyweight in the world, even if he needed to come through a tournament set up by the WBA to prove it.

He defeated Jerry Quarry on cuts in seven frenetic rounds, unified the titles against Jimmy Ellis – Ali’s old stablemate – in the final of the tournament and then crushed the excellent light-heavyweight, Bob Foster, in five.

It was March 8, 1981, when Frazier and Ali finally locked horns in a showdown definitely billed as The Fight of the Century.

And it more than lived up to the hype as the two legendary heavyweights set about one another from the first bill to the delight of a sold out crowd at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

“You know, you are in the ring with the God,” said Ali’, trying to psyche out Frazier at the last minute.

“If you are the God,” quipped Frazier, “you’re in the wrong place tonight.” Their incredible 15 rounds is widely-heralded as the greatest heavyweight fight of all time, between two unbeaten heavyweight kings in their prime and Frazier’s flashbulb left hook, spectacular enough to drop Ali but amazingly not enough to keep the great man down, put the exclamation mark on Joe’s historic victory.

It proved a tough act for the Philadelphian to follow and defences against Terry Daniels and Ron Stander did not bring the best out of the champion but it was thought the menacing threat of George Foreman would.

The big-hitter from Houston was at his intimidating best against Frazier and extended his undefeated run to 38 with a blistering two-round destruction of Frazier in Jamaica. Joe was floored three times in each session.

He rebounded in London with a tougher than expected win over plucky Joe Bugner and then, in 1974, Ali avenged the ’71 loss on points over 12.
Two repeat wins, over Quarry and Ellis, lined Frazier up for a third fight with Ali, another history maker dubbed, fittingly, as the Thrilla in Manila.

Ali, as was his custom, teased an taunted Frazier every step of the way. Joe was frustrated as he had helped Ali when he fell on hard times after he lost his licence to fight.

Ali lashed out at Joe, branding him and Uncle Tom and insulting his appearance, infamously dubbing him the gorilla.
“It’s gonna be a thrilla, a chilla and a killa, when I get the gorilla in Manila.”

It was little more than schoolyard bullying but Frazier took it deeply personally, which added fuel to their intense professional rivalry.

They both hit each other with everything they had on a sweltering evening in the Philippines in one of the most gruelling fights the sport has seen.

“Joe, they told me you was all washed up,” muttered Ali in a sweat-filled clinch. “They lied,” Frazier growled in reply.

With both battered, bruised and swollen they slugged away with reckless abandon, neither flinching, neither giving an inch. The pressure stayed on but then, moments before the bell sounded to start the 15th and final round, Futch withdrew Frazier.

“It’s all over,” he said, “But no one will forget what you did here today.”

But neither fighter, already declining before their trip east, were the same again.

Joe lasted five rounds with Foreman in his next fight and then, after a five-year retirement – tried his luck in a comeback bout only to draw with the limited Jumbo Cummings.

Frazier was no longer ‘Smokin’, but Futch was right, no one would ever forget what he had done.

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