Big fall ahead as lightweight young guns Lopez, Davis, Garcia, Haney all back in ring
Plus more coverage of the Fury-Wilder III card
LAS VEGAS — The loaded but dormant lightweight division is about to spring back to life with all four of the young guns — Teofimo Lopez, Gervonta “Tank” Davis, Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney — finally securing fights or being in the final stages of getting one done.
Unified world champion Lopez told Fight Freaks Unite that he spoke to Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn this week about the plans for his mandatory defense against George Kambosos Jr., which Hearn took over the promotional rights to as the under bidder after Triller defaulted on its purse bid earlier this week.
Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) said the plan is to have the fight in mid-November, a couple of weeks before Lopez’s wife is due with their first child.
That fight, which will stream on DAZN, will be contracted under the terms of Hearn’s winning purse bid of $3.506 million, which would give booth men career-high purses, $2,278,900 for Lopez and $1,227,100 for Australia’s Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs). Hearn is in the process of getting the contracts signed.
Davis will defend his secondary lightweight title against Rolando Romero on Dec. 5 (Showtime PPV) — a Sunday night — at Staples Center in Los Angeles, both fighters announced on social media on Thursday.
“I’m BACK! Dec 5th at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Showtime PPV vs Rollie (sic),” Davis posted to his social media accounts.
“They call me Rolly the Dwarf Slayer. Rolly putting his kid to sleep on Dec. 5th. Bet the house on Rolly & you can be a millionaire too,” Romero also posted to social media, ending his post with a rather obscene comment.
Davis (25-0, 24 KOs), 25, a southpaw from of Baltimore, moved up to junior welterweight for his last fight on June 26 and knocked out Mario Barrios in the 11th round to take his secondary title. But now Davis is moving back to 135 pounds to face Romero (14-0, 12 KOs), 25, of Las Vegas. Romero was one of the 11 WBA interim titlists recently stripped when the organization terminated all interim belts in an effort to reduce the number of titles in sanctions.
Romero won that belt in his last fight on July 17, knocking out overweight Anthony Yigit in the seventh round.
“This is a huge pay-per-view and a great opportunity for both guys,” Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe told Fight Freaks Unite. “In Rolly’s case, he’s talked that talk that he wanted Tank in a big fight and he’s gonna exactly what he wants. I fully expect this fight to end in a knockout. There’s no way possible this fight goes the distance. It will end in a knockout. Both are tremendous punchers, even though Tank is a very skilled boxer too.
“I know these guys want to get at each other. These are two guys who really, really don’t like each other. This ain’t a manufactured thing.”
Ellerbe said he saw the two nearly came to blows during a confrontation that took place at ringside when they were all at the Errol Spence Jr.-Mikey Garcia fight in Arlington, Texas, in 2019.
“I know how Rolly feels about Tank and Tank is not backing d own from down from anyone who talks smack,” Ellerbe said. “He really wants to shut Rolly up. He’s looking to knock him out. Where (the animosity) came from I have no idea. When I say the despise each other that’s putting it lightly.”
Almost simultaneously as Davis-Romero was being set, Golden Boy Promotions came to terms for a fight between Garcia and interim titleholder Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr., a fight Garcia confirmed to Fight Freaks Unite.
They will meet on Nov. 27 (DAZN) at a site to be determined, likely in Southern California, where both fighters live.
The fight will be the first for Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs), 23, since he rallied from a second-round knockdown to stop Luke Campbell in the seventh round to claim a vacant interim lightweight title. Garcia was subsequently stripped for canceling a mandated fight with Javier Fortuna that was supposed to take place July 9. Garcia announced he was taking time off from boxing to deal with mental health issues.
When Garcia-Fortuna was canceled, Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KOs), a 28-year-old southpaw and former junior lightweight titlist, stepped in outpointed Fortuna for the vacant interim belt.
“I’m ready to pick up where I left off and I’m happy it’s against JoJo Diaz,” Garcia told Fight Freaks Unite. “He’s a good fighter who beat the guy I was going to fight in Fortuna. Should be a great fight for L.A. and I will be victorious, and after I plan to fight much more often.”
World titleholder Haney (26-0, 15 KOs), 22, of Las Vegas, is a free agent since the expiration of his deal with Hearn following a successful third defense on May 29, when he outpointed former titlist Jorge Linares. However, Haney said he is still working with Hearn, who said this week is working on a fight Haney to take place on DAZN in December.
Berlanga plan in place
There is four-fight plan in place for super middleweight Edgar Berlanga, one of boxing’s best prospects and most exciting punchers, that could go a long way to launching him to stardom if he runs the table, and it starts against former world title challenger Marcelo Esteban Coceres on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III undercard on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.
The plan, worked out by Berlanga, his father Edgar Sr., manager Keith Connolly and Top Rank, is aggressive and ambitious. I wrote about it and his fight with Coceres for The Ring magazine website. Please read that story here: https://www.ringtv.com/628248-edgar-berlanga-i-want-to-punch-holes-through-peoples-faces/
‘J-Rock’ is back
Former unified junior middleweight world titlist Julian “J-Rock” Williams is excited to end a 20-month layoff when he faces Vladimir Hernandez on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III undercard.
Williams (27-2-1, 16 KOs), 31, of Philadelphia, has not fought since he lost his belts via upset fifth-round knockout in front of a hometown crowd to Jeison Rosario in January 2020. Since his last fight, he has healed from various injuries and split and then reunited with longtime trainer Stephen “Breadman” Edwards.
Now, Williams is ready go.
“It almost feels like I’m making my pro debut on a big card because it’s been so long since I’ve been in the ring,” Williams said. “(The layoff has) been a good thing in some ways. I was able to recharge my batteries. Sometimes rest is good and I took full advantage of it.”
Williams is aiming for a good performance in order to re-insert himself as a player in the division.
“The 154-pound division is still wide open,” he said. “We have two main guys with (three-belt titlist) Jermell Charlo and (titleholder) Brian Castano, but there’s no clear cut best guy. There’s still room for me to come in and seize the day. I respect that Hernandez is coming to fight and bring his best, but just wait until Saturday, because I have something in store for him.”
Williams’ fight with Hernandez (12-4, 6 KOs), 32, of Mexico, is one of two 10-round fights, along with super middleweight Edgar Berlanga versus Marcelo Esteban Coceres, that will air live on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN+, FS1 and Fox Deportes beginning at 7 p.m., before the start of the pay-per-view telecast at 9 p.m. ET.
Boxing Social appearance
I joined my friends at Boxing Social in the Fury-Wilder III media center, where discussed Fury-Wilder III, obviously. We also talked about the Anthony Joshua-Oleksandr Usyk fight and the Teofimo Lopez-George Kambosos Jr. Triller disaster. Check out the video.
Upstart promoter Probellum won Thursday’s WBO purse bid for the fight between bantamweight titlist John Riel Casimero (31-4, 21 KOs), 32, of the Philippines, and mandatory challenger and former world titleholder Paul Butler (33-2, 15 KOs), 32, of England. Probellum, which does not promote either fighter, was the only bidder with an offer of $105,000, just over the $100,000 minimum. Probellum said it plans stage the fight on Dec. 11 in either Dubai, United Arab Emirates or Liverpool, England. If the fight is indeed in England, under WBO rules the split would be 80-20 in Casimero’s favor ($84,000 to $21,000).
Probellum, run by former Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, announced it has hired Australia’s Mike Altamura as its head of talent development. Altamura is vastly experienced as a manager, adviser and talent scout, and worked a several world titleholders. Probellum as signed a handful of fighters in recent days, including Regis Prograis, Badou Jack and Eimantis Stanionis.
Junior welterweight Lewis Ritson (21-2, 12 KOs), 28, seeking to rebound from a harsh 10th-round knockout loss to Jeremias Ponce in June, will face former world title challenger Hank Lundy (39-9-1, 14 KOs), 37, of Philadelphia, in an eight-rounder on Boxxer’s Oct. 16 Sky Sports undercard at Utilita Arena in Ritson’s hometown of Newcastle, England. Lundy is coming off a 10-round decision loss to contender Jose Zepeda in May.
Show and tell
More boxing cards! Inside the official program for Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III are cards of each fighter. They are in panel form with a perforation mark between them for the option of easily separating them into two. Seidman Productions, which has them for sale on its website (SPBoxing.com), has been putting cards, for which I write the backs, in many of the programs it produces for major fights over the past several years. The set, which is loaded with stars and rookies, is now up to 58 cards trough Fury-Wilder III. There are also different cards of Fury and Wilder in the programs for their first two fights. Here are the cards in my collection from Saturday’s program.
Davis photo: Ryan Hafey/PBC; Berlanga photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank; Williams photo: Sean Michael Ham/TGB Promotions
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