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Notebook: MMA legend Anderson Silva to box Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on PPV
Jose Zepeda returns; Team Sauerland sold; Quick hits
For many years MMA legend Anderson Silva has talked about his desire to box against Roy Jones Jr., and vice versa. As it turns out, Silva will indeed box but it won’t be against Jones. It will be against… Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Organizers announced on Tuesday that Silva will fight an official boxing match against former middleweight world titlist Chavez on June 19 (PPV) at Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico. The fight, billed as a light heavyweight match, is scheduled for 10 rounds but is at a contract weight of 180 pounds. That is five pounds over the light heavyweight limit making the fight technically in the cruiserweight division.
Although the 45-year-old Silva has had a long career in MMA, where he has a record of 34-11 with 23 KOs, including losses in four of his last five bouts, the fight with Chavez will be his third official boxing match.
Silva, one of the biggest stars in UFC history, boxed twice in his native Brazil, losing by first-round knockout to Omar Luiz Teixeira in 1998 and winning by second-round knockout against Julio Cesar De Jesus in 2005. Both of those bouts were scheduled for six rounds.
“When I look back at my journey, I see that nothing has been in vain,” Silva said in a news release announcing the bout. “I am extremely happy for the opportunity to test my boxing skills with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. I train continuously, always am striving for resilience and to overcome obstacles. Fighting is my everlasting breath.”
Chavez (52-5-1, 34 KOs), 35, of Mexico, is 2-3 in his last five bouts since 2017. He has missed weight several times and was heavily criticized for quitting in the fifth round against Daniel Jacobs in December 2019. He knocked out Jeyson Minda in the fourth round in his last fight in November.
“I have rededicated myself to the sport I love and I will be ready to face anyone in the light heavyweight division starting with Silva,” Chavez said. “I will be prepared to be victorious.”
Said Armando Bareno of Global Sports Streaming, one of the promoters, “When you hear the names Chavez, Camacho and Alvarez you know those are big names in boxing. Now adding Silva’s name to boxing -- this made a special night even bigger with the GOAT of MMA fighting in a boxing match.”
The card also includes previously announced bouts involving the Chavez family.
Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., legendary three-division world champion and Hall of Famer, who retired with a record of 107-6-2 (85 KOs) in 2005, will partake in a six-round middleweight exhibition in the main event against Hector Camacho Jr. (59-7-1, 33 KOs), the son of the late Hall of Famer Hector Camacho Sr., who lost a one-sided decision challenging Chavez for his junior welterweight world title in a Mexico vs. Puerto Rico mega fight in 1992.
Omar Chavez (38-6-1, 25 KOs), another of Chavez Sr.’s fighting sons, will face Ramon Alvarez (28-8-3, 16 KOs) — the older brother of Canelo Alvarez — in a 10-round middleweight fight that will serve as their rubber match after splitting two previous bouts.
Zepeda returns from FOY win
Junior welterweight contender Jose Zepeda, last seen winning the epic 2020 consensus fight of the year, will be back in action on May 22.
Zepeda (33-2, 26 KOs), 31, a southpaw from La Puente, California, will face Pedro Campa (32-1-1, 21 KOs), 29, of Mexico, in a 10-round fight that will serve as the ESPN-televised co-feature of the Jose Ramirez-Josh Taylor undisputed junior welterweight championship fight that will headline a Top Rank card at a venue to be determined in Las Vegas — either MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay — a source with knowledge of the plans told Fight Freaks Unite, confirming a BoxingScene report.
Zepeda last fought on Oct. 3 inside the bubble of the conference center of the MGM Grand and it was an unforgettable shootout with former world titlist Ivan Baranchyk, whom he knocked out in the fifth round of a fight in which each man was knocked down four times with knockdowns in every round.
Freddie Roach-trained welterweight prospect Elvis Rodriguez (11-0-1, 10 KOs), 25, a southpaw from the Dominican Republic, will also be on the card in his sixth fight since July. He will face Kenneth Sims Jr. (15-2-1, 5 KOs), 27, of Chicago, in an eight-round fight, according to the source.
Team Sauerland sold
Wasserman Media Group, a Los Angeles-based sports marketing and talent management company, has acquired German-based promoter Team Sauerland as it aims to break into the boxing business. Wasserman announce the deal on Tuesday.
Team Sauerland, long one of Europe’s leading promotional companies, was founded in 1978 by Hall of Fame promoter Wilfried Sauerland before his sons, Kalle and Nisse Sauerland, took over day-to-day operations. The company has promoted dozens of world titleholders over the year, including Arthur Abraham, Mikkel Kessler, George Groves, Marco Huck, Markus Beyer, Juergen Braehmer, Henry Maske and Sven Ottke. Among fighters it currently promotes are Filip Hrgovic, Mairis Briedis and Chris Eubank Jr.
“We are delighted to welcome Kalle, Nisse and their team to Wasserman,” Casey Wasserman, chairman and CEO of Wasserman, said. “Their expertise and history within the sport is unrivalled and we are incredibly excited about the formation of Wasserman Boxing. We believe that together we can make a positive contribution to the boxing industry with plans to deliver world class promotions and shows to fans around the world.”
Said Kalle Sauerland: “We believe Wasserman is the ideal company to not only develop what we’ve achieved at Sauerland but take it to the next level. My brother Nisse and I have been big admirers of what they do. Quite simply, they’re the best. The thought of having the power of Wasserman and our boxing expertise should excite the fighters, the TV companies and most importantly, the fans, in what is going to be an adventurous future for the sport. We are going to take this to a whole new level.”
Lightweight world titlist Devin Haney’s third title defense against former titleholder Jorge Linares (47-5, 29 KOs), of Venezuela, is being shifted from May 15 to May 29 (DAZN) and will take place at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas with a limited number of spectators allowed, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn told Fight Freaks Unite. He said he is working to finish the deal with the venue. Haney (25-0, 15 KOs), 22, of Las Vegas, hasn’t fought in his adopted hometown — he is originally fro San Francisco — since a six-rounder in 2016.
Oscar Valdez, who knocked out Miguel Berchelt in highlight-reel fashion in the 10th round of a dominating performance to win the WBC junior lightweight title in upset fashion Feb. 20 in Las Vegas, has donated the robe he wore into the ring that night to the International Boxing Hall of Fame. “We are excited that the new champion has donated his robe from such a meaningful bout to the Hall of Fame,” HOF executive director Edward Brophy said. Valdez added, “I’m happy that the IBHOF gets to keep this robe. I wore this during an important time of my career and it means a lot to me. I’m happy that it’s going to a special place like the IBHOF.”
Mexican middleweight contender Jaime Munguia (36-0, 29 KOs), 24, a former junior middleweight titlist has his next fight set. There had been some conversations about a fight with world titlist Gennadiy Golovkin but those discussions went nowhere and he will instead face Poland’s Maciej Sulecki (29-2, 11 KOs), 31, in the main event of a DAZN card on April 24 at the Don Haskins Center on the campus of the University Texas at El Paso, Golden Boy Promotions told Fight Freaks Unite. The fight was finalized a few days ago after a deal was made with the venue. The fight was initially going to be in Chicago before landing in El Paso, according to Golden Boy. Munguia vacated his 154-pound title and moved up to 160 in 2020 and has won both of his bouts in the division. Sulecki’s only losses were by decision to Demetrius Andrade in a 2019 world title challenge and Daniel Jacobs in 2018.
Triller announced three additional eight-round undercard bouts on the Jake Paul-Ben Askren show April 17 (PPV and FITE) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Added to the card: super middleweight Junior Younan (15-0-1, 10 KOs), of Brooklyn, New York, against Jeyson Minda (14-4-1, 8 KOs), of Ecuador; Baltimore middleweight Lorenzo “Truck” Simpson (9-0, 5 KOs) versus Argentina’s Francisco Torres (16-3-1); and Houston welterweight Quinton Randall (7-0, 2 KOs) against a foe to be named.
Late weekend result: South Africa’s Thabiso Mchunu (23-5, 13 KOs), 33, traveled to Ekaterinburg, Russia, and outpointed 2016 Russian Olympic gold medalist Evgeny Tishchenko (8-1, 6 KOs), 29, by unanimous decision in a WBC cruiserweight elimination bout. Mchunu won 119-109, 117-111 and 117-111 to earn a mandatory shot against world titlist Ilunga Makabu. Mchunu has fought for a world title once previously, getting stopped in the ninth round by Oleksandr Usyk in December 2016 in Inglewood, California.
Junior lightweight Wahab Seals (20-0, 13 KOs), a Nigeria native based in Ghana, has signed a three-year deal with promoter Lou DiBella and will now be trained by Manny Robles. Seals came to DiBella via manager Michael Amoo-Bediako, who also co-manages the DiBella-promoted former lightweight titlist Richard Commey. “I am really pleased to add Joshua to our growing number of fighters that will be plying their trade stateside with DiBella Entertainment,” Amoo-Bediako said. “My relationship with Lou since the signing of Richard Commey has grown into an understanding of what it takes to make an African fighter a world champion. I believe with Joshua Wahab we have another potential champion from the motherland. He will be training with world-renowned trainer Manny Robles, who I know is excited to be linking up with Joshua. We look forward to his progress in what is a very hot division with the likes of Oscar Valdez, Shakur Stevenson, Joseph Diaz, Carl Frampton, and DiBella’s own Tevin Farmer, to name but a few.”
Show and tell
The then-unknown Ricardo Mayorga was the mandatory challenger for exciting welterweight titlist Andrew “Six Heads” Lewis when they met at Staples Center in Los Angeles on the Roy Jones-Julio Gonzalez HBO PPV undercard in 2001. The fight ended in a second-round no contest after Lewis was badly cut by an accidental head butt, but Mayorga had shown enough to know he was going to be a handful.
They met again in an immediate rematch in the main event of a Showtime card in Reading, Pennsylvania, for which I made the three-plus hour drive to cover. Mayorga had given us a glimpse of his big personality during fight week for the first bout, which I also covered, but he really let it show for the rematch. At the weigh-in, Mayorga taunted the weight-drained Lewis by eating a chicken leg while standing on the scale.
The next night, he fulfilled his promise of a knockout by dropping and stopping Lewis in the fifth round to win the WBA welterweight title. Lewis, who died in 2015, never again would be a serious factor while Mayorga would go on to beat Vernon Forrest twice, including to unify belts, and win a junior middleweight title before becoming the ultimate villain B-side in losses to big names: Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto. Here is an extremely rare program (digest size) from the Mayorga-Lewis rematch, which was 19 years ago on Tuesday, in my collection.
Zepeda photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank