Discover more from Fight Freaks Unite
Notebook: Haney-Kambosos rematch penciled in for Oct. 15 at Rod Laver Stadium
Hrgovic-Zhang lands on Usyk-Joshua II card; WBO orders Andrade-Alimkhanuly; Santa Cruz tells WBA he'll fight Wood; Cotto joins ProBox TV; Quick hits; Show and tell
A note to Fight Freaks Unite readers: If you have upgraded to a paid subscription, thank you! If you have not, please consider doing so to receive the most content. A paid subscription is also your way of keeping this reader-supported newsletter going and supporting independent journalism.
When Devin Haney handily outpointed George Kambosos Jr. to fully unify the lightweight division and become the first undisputed 135-pound champion of the four-belt era on June 4 before 41,129 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, he knew he was contractually obligated to return to Kambosos’ home country for an immediate rematch if Kambosos wanted it.
Kambosos does and the sequel is being planned to headline a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card on Oct. 15 at famed Rod Laver Stadium — home of the tennis Australian Open — in Melbourne (where it will be Oct. 16 Australia time), a source with knowledge of the plans told Fight Freaks Unite.
Organizers are still working through the financing of the event with the State of Victoria government, according to the source.
Haney (28-0, 15 KOs), 23, of Las Vegas, won the June fight 118-110, 116-112 and 116-112 to retain the WBC title for the fifth time and take the IBF, WBO and WBA titles from Kambosos (20-1, 10 KOs), 29, who was making his first defense following his huge upset decision over Teofimo Lopez in November in New York.
Although Haney is contractually obligated to face Kambosos again, he has not fully embraced the fight with many speculating he is trying to get a larger purse.
“It’s not necessarily Kambosos next,” Haney said during a brief interview with DAZN during the Ryan Garcia-Javier Fortuna fight on Saturday. “We’re weighing out our options. It could be Kambosos. We just got to see.”
The delayed IBF heavyweight title elimination fight between Filip Hrgovic and Zhang Zhilei will be added to the undercard of the rematch between unified heavyweight titleholder Oleksandr Usyk and former two-time titlist Anthony Joshua, according to multiple sources.
The Matchroom Boxing card is scheduled for Aug. 20 at the King Abdullah Sports City Arena in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The venue, which has hosted boxing, WWE and other sports events, was formally announced on Wednesday along with ticket information.
The Hrgovic-Zhang winner will be one of the mandatory challengers for the winner of the main event. The eliminator had previously been scheduled to take place on the undercard of WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol’s defense against undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez on May 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. However, Hrgovic withdrew due to the death of his father leading up to the bout and Zhang instead faced short-notice opponent Scott Alexander and knocked him out in the first round.
Read my full story on Big Fight Weekend: https://bigfightweekend.com/news/sources-hrgovic-zhang-back-on-for-usyk-joshua-2-card/
The WBO on Wednesday notified the teams of middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade and interim titleholder Janibek Alimkhanuly that they have been ordered to negotiate the mandatory bout. They have 30 days to make a deal or a purse bid will be scheduled.
The WBO included the condition that Andrade (31-0, 19 KOs), 34, of Providence, Rhode Island, who has been out since May with a shoulder injury expected to keep him idle for four months, “must be medically and physically ready, willing, and able to fight.” If he’s not available, the WBO said Andrade will be stripped and Alimkhanuly (12-0, 8 KOs), 29, of Kazakhstan, elevated to full titlist.
Before his injury, Andrade was scheduled to move up in weight and test out the super middleweight division against Zach Parker for the vacant WBO interim 168-pound title on May 21 in England.
The WBO also said that if Alimkhanuly is unavailable to face Andrade the interim title will be declared vacant.
If the fight goes to a purse bid, the minimum offer is $200,000, although either side can request a purse bid at any time if they don’t want to negotiate. Now that Andrade and Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn have parted ways, Salita Promotions is acting on behalf of Andrade and received the WBO letter.
Santa Cruz ready to face Wood
WBA featherweight “super” titlist Leo Santa Cruz, responding to the sanctioning body’s request on Tuesday for a decision within 24 hours, notified it on Wednesday that he accepts the order to next face “regular” titlist Leigh Wood in a mandatory fight.
“Leo Santa Cruz is ready to make his mandatory defense against Leigh Wood,” TGB Promotions president Tom Brown, Santa Cruz’s promoter, wrote to the WBA in a letter obtained by Fight Freaks Unite. “Team Santa Cruz will be contacting (Wood promoter) Matchroom Boxing shortly to begin negotiations.”
The order was part of the WBA’s ongoing process of getting down to one titleholder per division, as it vowed to do last summer.
Santa Cruz (38-2-1, 19 KOs), 33, of Rosemead, California, who has not defended the title since February 2019 while participating in three fights at junior lightweight (including winning and losing the WBA belt in that division) had previously told the WBA he would defend against Wood (26-2, 16 KOs), 33, of England, next if he could have permission for a nontitle tune-up fight in February. The WBA granted the request. Santa Cruz won the fight and the WBA ordered Santa Cruz-Wood on April 6, giving them 30 days to make a deal or a purse bid would be ordered.
They did not make a deal but the purse bid was not ordered while they went back and forth over what the split would be. Then, on July 11, the WBA said it received a request from Santa Cruz seeking a special permit to sanction a unification fight between Santa Cruz and newly-crowned WBC titlist Rey Vargas.
The WBA denied the request and gave Santa Cruz 24 hours to notify it if he would participate in the mandatory defense against Wood. The WBA also set the purse split at 75-25 in Santa Cruz’s favor if they can’t make a deal and it goes to a purse bid.
The WBA made a similar order in the cruiserweight division on Tuesday and representatives of Arsen Goulamirian, the WBA “super” titleholder, and “regular” titlist Ryad Merhy both responded on Wednesday by the deadline that the fighters are ready, willing and able to meet by Aug. 15 — the deadline set forth by the WBA — in a mandatory fight.
Both sides requested information on how long they have to negotiate and when a purse bid would be held if needed.
Goulamirian (26-0, 18 KOs), of France, has not defended the title since a ninth-round knockout of Constantin Bejenaru on Dec. 28, 2019 in France. Belgium’s Merhy (30-1, 25 KOs) retained the secondary belt for the first time in his last fight, an eighth-round knockout of Chinese late replacement Zhaoxin Zhang on July 17, 2021 in Belgium.
When the WBA, stung by mounting criticism of the slow pace of its efforts to follow through on the promise to get down to one titleholder per division, issued the rulings on Tuesday at featherweight and cruiserweight, as well as super middleweight, where it spelled out Gennadiy Golovkin’s obligations, win or lose against undisputed 168-pound champion Canelo Alvarez in their third fight on Sept. 17 (DAZN PPV), I wrote about it for Big Fight Weekend. Please read that story here: https://bigfightweekend.com/news/wba-denies-santa-cruz-unification-request-among-rulings/
Cotto joins ProBox TV
Four-division world champion Miguel Cotto, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame last month, is bringing regular boxing events back to his native Puerto Rico, where there has been a dearth of fights since the pandemic began.
Cotto Promotions and ProBox TV announced at a news conference on Tuesday at Coliseo de Roberto Clemente in San Juan that they have made a deal to put on 15 cards together from August through 2023 that will stream on the ProBox TV app (which goes for $1.99 a month or $18 a year), which was launched in April.
Cotto joins a ProBox TV team that includes founder/CEO Gary Jonas and partners Roy Jones Jr., Juan Manuel Marquez, Antonio Tarver and Paulie Malignaggi.
The first card is slated for Aug. 19 at Coliseo Roberto Clemente, where all of the cards will take place. There are two more scheduled this year, on Oct. 16 and Dec. 9, with monthly cards throughout 2023.
The fights will consist mostly of prospects under the Cotto Promotions banner and will include former two-division world champion and close Cotto friend Ivan Calderon on the broadcast team.
“We had been in talks with ProBox for a couple of months,” Cotto said. “They are people that know boxing and without hesitation we decided to become a part of this new platform. They know what they’re doing and have a very solid platform for boxing and we’re expecting a great collaboration. It gives us the platform to be able to do boxing as well as serving as a workshop to be able to do right by the boxers that are signed to the promotion. We will also begin to recruit boxers.
“This is not only going to be a platform based in Puerto Rico but will also have the opportunity to bring it into Mexico with Juan Manuel Marquez and workshops there to develop boxers. We plan to bring fighters from other Latin countries, such as the Dominican, to Puerto Rico to join our company.
ProBox TV plans to have three live boxing events per month in 2023, one from the United States, one from Puerto Rico and one from Mexico.
The legendary eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KOs), 43, of the Philippines, retired last September, about month after his decision loss to Yordenis Ugas in a welterweight world title bout in Las Vegas and then mounted an unsuccessful campaign this past spring for president of the Philippines. Now, Pacquiao is looking back at the ring and announced he will return for an exhibition bout. He is scheduled to face Korean YouTube personality DK Yoo over six two-minute rounds on Dec. 10 in South Korea. DK Yoo, 43, has participated in exhibitions in recent years, including against former UFC fighter Brad Scott.
Knockout CP Freshmart (24-0, 9 KOs), 31, who has held his title since 2016 and is the longest-reigning active male world titleholder, retained the WBA strawweight title for the 11th time via unanimous decision over Thai countryman, friend and former longtime WBC titlist Wanheng Menayothin (55-3, 19 KOs), 36, on Wednesday in Chonburi, Thailand. Scores were 119-109, 117-111 and 116-112. The younger, fresher CP Freshmart won six of the first seven rounds on all three scorecards before Menayothin rallied to win rounds in the second half of the fight. Menayothin began his career with 54 consecutive wins but dropped to 1-3 with a no contest in his last five bouts.
A purse bid for the vacant WBC junior welterweight title between former titlist Jose Ramirez (27-1, 17 KOs), 29, of Avenal, California, and former title challenger Jose Zepeda (35-2, 27 KOs), 32, of La Puente, California, is scheduled for Aug. 1 unless the sides make a deal before then. The title recently became vacant when Josh Taylor relinquished it rather than move forward with a mandatory defense against Zepeda. Unified champion Taylor prefers to face Jack Catterall in a rematch of Taylor’s highly controversial split decision win in February. In February 2019, Ramirez retained the WBC title by disputed majority decision over Zepeda. Top Rank, which promotes Ramirez, said it is interested in promoting the fight.
Salita Promotions will continue its “Detroit Brawl” series on Aug. 10 at Garden Theater in Detroit. In the main event, junior welterweight contender Shohjahon Ergashev (21-0, 19 KOs), a 30-year-old southpaw from Uzbekistan fighting out of Detroit, will face Mexico’s Angel Martinez Hernandez (14-1-2, 14 KOs), 23, in a 10-rounder and Detroit-based Russian light heavyweight Ali Izmailov (8-0, 6 KOs), 29, will meet Eric Murguia (14-0, 12 KOs), 24, a southpaw from Mission Hills, California, in the 10-round co-feature.
Top Rank will host a news conference on Monday at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, to formally announced unified junior lightweight champion Shakur Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs), 25, will have a hometown defense against Brazil’s Robson Conceicao (17-1, 8 KOs), 33, on Sept. 23 (ESPN) at the same venue. The fight will be Stevenson’s second 130-pound title defense and first since he dropped and routed Oscar Valdez to unify the WBO and WBC belts on April 30 in Las Vegas.
Show and tell
After the prime Felix Trinidad moved up to junior middleweight and inflicted a one-sided beat down on David Reid to take his WBA title in a Showtime PPV fight, he signed with HBO, where he would remain for the final eight fights of his career. In his first fight of the deal, he made a mandatory defense of his 154-pound title against France’s dangerous Mamadou Thiam, who was 33-1 at the time, strong as a bull and had been compared to a bigger version of former welterweight titlist Ike Quartey. They met at a raucous American Airlines Arena in Miami on a typically loaded Don King card. I had started as the USA Today boxing writer a few months earlier and this was the first of the seven Trinidad fights I covered in person. I remember being particularly excited to make the trip to Miami to cover this show.
It was a great trip and a good card even if the main event was a bit of dud. Trinidad battered Thiam in the first round and swelled his right eye. It was such a dominant round the judges all scored it 10-8 without a knockdown. Thiam mounted a rally in the second round and even knocked Trinidad back with a right hand, but by the third round Thiam’s eye was swollen completely closed. He could not see Trinidad’s vaunted left hook coming and referee Jorge Alonso stopped it with 12 seconds left in the round. The expected win moved Trinidad to 38-0 and with Fernando Vargas easily disposing of Ross Thompson in four rounds in a title defense a month later, the stage was set for their epic title unification fight later that year. Trinidad-Thiam was on July 22, 2000 — 22 years ago on Friday. Here is a massively rare thin cardboard site poster from the fight in my collection.
Haney-Kambosos photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank; Andrade photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing; Santa Cruz photo: Ryan Hafey/PBC; Cotto/Marquez photo: ProBox TV
To upgrade your subscription please go here: https://danrafael.substack.com/subscribe
Thank you so much for your support of Fight Freaks Unite!
Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danrafael1/
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DanRafael1
Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DanRafaelBoxing