Notebook: Showtime adds trio of tripleheaders to busy schedule
Robeisy Ramirez deep in training for featherweight title shot; Quick hits; Show and tell
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Showtime on Tuesday added three more “Showtime Championship Boxing” events to its spring and early summer schedule with the promise to add even more Premier Boxing Champions cards.
Here are the three new cards the network announced:
Sebastian Fundora will defend the WBC interim junior middleweight title for the second time when he faces Brian Mendoza in the main event at Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California.
Fundora (20-0-1, 13 KOs), 25, a southpaw from Coachella, California, claimed the vacant interim belt via ninth-round knockout of Erickson Lubin in April 2022 in a fight of the year contender and then easily outpointed Carlos Ocampo to retain it in October.
Mendoza (21-2, 15 KOs), 29, of Las Vegas, is coming off his biggest win, a fifth-round knockout of former unified junior middleweight titlist Jeison Rosario in November in a middleweight fight that sent Rosario into retirement.
In the 10-round co-feature, junior welterweight Brandun Lee (27-0, 23 KOs), 23, of La Quinta, California, will take on his most notable opponent in Pedro Campa (34-2-1, 23 KOs), 31, of Mexico, who is coming off a seventh-round knockout loss to former unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez in August. Lopez was making his junior welterweight debut.
In the 10-round opener, featherweight Luis Nunez (18-0, 13 KOs), 23, of the Dominican Republic, will take on Christian Olivo (20-0-1, 7 KOs), 24, of Mexico, in a match of unbeaten but untested prospects.
Alberto Puello will make his first WBA junior welterweight title defense against Rolando Romero at a site to be announced.
Puello (21-0, 10 KOs), 28, a southpaw from the Dominican Republic won one of the belts 140-pound belts vacated by undisputed champion Josh Taylor via split decision against Batyr Akhmedov in August on Showtime.
Romero (14-1, 12 KOs), 27, of Las Vegas, is moving up in weight and will be in action for the first time since suffering a sixth-round knockout loss challenging Gervonta Davis for his secondary lightweight belt last May in a Showtime PPV main event.
In 10-round junior welterweight undercard bouts:
2016 U.S. Olympian Gary Antuanne Russell (16-0, 16 KOs), 26, a southpaw from Capitol Heights, Maryland, will face Kent Cruz (16-0-3, 10 KOs), 30, of St. Louis, who has fought to draws in his past two fights.
Former junior lightweight and lightweight titlist Rances Barthelemy (29-2-1, 15 KOs), 37, a Cuban defector based in Las Vegas, will square off with Omar Juarez (14-1, 5 KOs), 23, of Brownsville, Texas. Barthelemy is coming off a sixth-round knockout loss to Russell in July. Juarez has won three fights in a row since a 10-round majority decision loss to All Rivera in June 2021.
Carlos Adames will make his first WBC interim middleweight defense against former unified junior middleweight titlist Julian Williams at The Armory in Minneapolis.
Adames (22-1, 17 KOs), 28, of the Dominican Republic, won the vacant interim title by third-round knockout of Juan Macias Montiel in October.
Williams (28-3-1, 16 KOs), 32, of Philadelphia, was on top of the junior middleweight division when he outpointed Jarrett Hurd to take his unified title in 2019 but then lost two fights in a row, a fifth-round knockout to Jeison Rosario in his first defense in January 2020 followed by a 10-round split decision to unheralded Vladimir Hernandez in a major upset in October 2021.
Williams moved up to middleweight and ended the skid in his last fight by winning an eight-round decision over Rolando Mansilla in November in his first fight in 13 months.
In the 10-round junior middleweight co-feature, Erickson Lubin (24-2, 17 KOs), 27, of Orlando, Florida, who is looking to bounce back from a ninth-round knockout loss to Fundora last April in a fight of the year contender, will face Luis Arias (20-3-1, 9 KOs), 32, of Milwaukee. Arias is 2-2 in his last four fights but one of the wins was a decision over Hurd in 2021.
In the opener, IBF junior bantamweight titlist Fernando Martinez will make his second defense against mandatory challenger Jade Bornea.
Martinez (15-0, 8 KOs), 31, of Argentina, won the 115-pound title from Jerwin Ancajas by wide decision last February and then beat him again by a similarly wide decision in an immediate rematch in October.
Bornea (18-0, 12 KOs), 27, of the Philippines, cemented his mandatory status with a third-round knockout of Mohammed Obbadi in January 2022 and maintained it with a seventh-round knockout of Ivan Meneses in August.
Showtime also added a June 9 edition of the prospect-oriented series “ShoBox: The New Generation” to the schedule. The fights were not announced but the card will take place at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, on International Boxing Hall of Fame induction weekend in nearby Canastota.
The additions to the schedule, which got a high profile fight last week with the long-awaited Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia Showtime PPV fight being finalized for April 22, mean Showtime will have at least 14 boxing events between January and June.
Showtime also said it will be adding fights involving several other top names to its upcoming schedule, including unified welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr. and former unified welterweight titlist Keith Thurman, who are supposed to fight each other in a pay-per-view main event.
Others Showtime said it would also add are undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo, who is sidelined until early summer with a broken hand; twin brother and WBC middleweight titleholder Jermall Charlo, who has said he is fighting in June; IBF interim welterweight titlist Jaron Ennis; WBA “regular” super middleweight titlist David Morrell; and former welterweight and junior welterweight titlist Danny Garcia, who is now a junior middleweight.
Ramirez prepares for title shot
From the time two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez turned pro in 2019 he has wanted a shot at a world title. He has it now and is in the depths of training camp preparing for it.
“Main event. World championship on the line. This is what I have always wanted and have asked for since I became a professional boxer,” Ramirez said after a recent training session in Las Vegas, where he is working with Cuban trainer Ismael Salas. “I see this fight as the perfect stage from which to present my credentials to the world and make the case that I am the best fighter in the featherweight division."
Ramirez will face former junior featherweight titlist Isaac Dogboe for the vacant WBO title in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Ramirez (11-1, 7 KOs), a 29-year-old southpaw, and Dogboe (24-2, 15 KOs), 28, of Ghana, will fight for the vacant 126-pound title that Emanuel Navarrete gave up after moving up in weight and winning the vacant WBO junior lightweight title on Feb. 3. Ramirez-Dogboe was initially scheduled to be for the interim title but was upgraded to the full title after Navarrete vacated.
“For me, life has always been about continuously being hungry,” said Ramirez, who overcame a shocking decision loss in his pro debut to win 11 fights in a row, including impressive knockout of Jose Matias Romero in December and Abraham Nova in June in his last two outings. “Talent alone is not enough at this level. True success means continuing to evolve, moving ahead, and conquering hurdles and failures to become great.
“I’ve experienced true hardship in life, so moving up to the mountains (outside of Las Vegas) for a few weeks won’t break me. It will only make me stronger, like all of the difficulties I endured on the road to where I am.”
The IBF on Tuesday ordered junior flyweight titlist Sivenathi Nontshinga and mandatory challenger Regie Suganob to begin negotiations and fight next. They have until March 28 to make a deal or a purse bid will be ordered. The split at a purse bid is 65-35 in Nontshinga’s favor. Nontshinga (11-0, 9 KOs), 24, of South Africa, won the vacant 108-pound title by split decision against Hector Flores in September in Hermosillo, Mexico in the sensational 2022 Fight Freaks Unite fight of the year. Soon after the bout Nontshinga signed with Matchroom Boxing. Suganob (13-0, 4 KOs), 25, of the Philippines, has had all of his bouts in his home country. He won an eight-round technical decision over countryman Mark Vicelles in a title eliminator on Saturday to become the mandatory challenger.
The fight Matchroom Boxing was planning to put on in June between junior welterweights Richardson Hitchins and Montana Love apparently is a no go. Keith Connolly, who manages Hitchins, told Fight Freaks Unite that he was informed by Matchroom Boxing that Love has backed out. Connolly said that Hitchins will still fight in June. Hitchins (16-0, 7 KOs), 25, of Brooklyn, New York, is coming off a shutout decision against John Bauza, whom he dropped twice, on Feb. 4. Love (18-1-1, 9 KOs), 28, a southpaw from Cleveland, lost his most recent fight by sixth-round disqualification to Steve Spark in November.
Former WBA junior lightweight titlist Roger Gutierrez (26-4-1, 20 KOs), 27, will face the Dominican Republic’s Henry Delgado (20-1, 14 KOs), who has won seven consecutive fights, in a regional title bout on Friday in Gutierrez’s hometown of Maracaibo, Venezuela. The fight will be Gutierrez’s first since dropping a wide unanimous decision and losing his 130-pound world title to Hector Luis Garcia in August in Hollywood, Florida.
Sandy Ryan (5-1, 2 KOs), 29, of England, will face Marie-Pier Houle (8-0-1, 2 KOs), 32, of Canada, for the vacant WBO women’s welterweight title April 22 (DAZN) at Cardiff International Arena in Cardiff, Wales, Matchroom Boxing announced on Tuesday. The bout is on the undercard of junior lightweight titlist Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov’s mandatory defense versus former titlist and Cardiff native Joe Cordina. “I’m absolutely delighted to be challenging for a world title,” Ryan said. “The level of opponents I’ve faced since my debut proved how serious I am about becoming a big star in this sport. Houle also will be fighting for a title for the first time. “This fight represents the culmination of my hard work since the beginning of my career,” Houle said. “It's a huge opportunity for me to demonstrate the strength of character and perseverance that I have acquired over the years.”
Show and tell
During his heyday, Roy Jones Jr. was the dominant pound-for-pound king. He was a brilliant boxer with dazzling reflexes, hand and foot speed to burn and one-punch knockout power. Jones had won world titles at middleweight and super middleweight and become the undisputed light heavyweight champion, but many wanted to see him take on the ultimate challenge, which meant going up to the heavyweight division. He toyed with the idea at various times and then picked his spot by moving up to face the much bigger (but much slower and less skilled) WBA titleholder John Ruiz. He may not have been the best heavyweight but Ruiz was top 5 at worst at a time when Lennox Lewis was the recognized champion. Still, the fight was still viewed as a legitimate risk for Jones, who was outweighed by 33 pounds (226-193).
It made no difference when they met at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas in a major HBO PPV event that I covered at ringside. Jones was brilliant. He easily outboxed and even outfought Ruiz in spots to walk away with a unanimous decision — 118-110, 117-111, 116-112 — and claim the belt. Jones made significant boxing history on perhaps his finest night in the ring as he won a world title in a fourth division and became the first fighter since Hall of Famer Bob Fitzsimmons 106 years earlier to win a middleweight title and a heavyweight title. The fight was on March 1, 2003 — 20 years ago on Wednesday. Here is an extremely rare site poster that hung in host hotel Caesars Palace during fight week in my collection.
Romero photo: Ryan Hafey/PBC; Ramirez photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
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PBC/Showtime throwing 89 mph Fastballs.
DTM is your 1982 Panini S Sanchez graded or raw?