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Notebook: Stevenson-De Los Santos on tap for vacant WBC 135 title
Fierro continues quest for title shot; pointless purse bid held; Boxing Social appearance; Estrada surgery; Quick hits; Show and tell
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Shakur Stevenson and Edwin De Los Santos will meet for the vacant WBC lightweight title, sources with knowledge of the deal told Fight Freaks Unite on Wednesday.
The bout, which will headline a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card, will take place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Nov. 16, sources said. That is the Thursday night of a big week in Las Vegas that culminates with the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix on Nov. 19.
Stevenson, a former featherweight and unified junior lightweight titleholder, will attempt to win a world title in his third weight class.
De Los Santos, who will get his first crack at a world title, got the fight when a deal for Stevenson to face Frank Martin fell apart after Top Rank and TGB Promotions made a deal on Sept. 5 and had the WBC cancel a purse bid scheduled for later that day.
However, Martin, unhappy with his purse, declined to sign for the bout, which fell apart on Saturday. That led to the WBC going further down its rankings until De Los Santos, who is rated No. 6 and was the leading available contender, accepted the bout.
Stevenson, who has ripped Martin for pulling out of the fight on social media, praised De Los Santos.
“This fighter got more heart then the rest of em and truthfully speaking I believe he is a better fighter then the bitch (N----) who got cold feet and pulled out,” Stevenson posted. “But look u press up on me I will answer the phone call. I don’t duck no smoke let’s get to it Edwin.”
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The WBC initially ordered Stevenson-Martin to fill its vacancy at 135 pounds. Stevenson was the mandatory challenger for undisputed champion Devin Haney, but he notified the WBC that he is moving up to junior welterweight to challenge titleholder Regis Prograis, at which point the WBC belt was vacated and Haney was reclassified as its lightweight “champion in recess.”
Former champion Vasiliy Lomachenko, who plans to take the rest of the year off following his narrow decision loss challenging Haney in May, and Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz, who many believe is headed to a rematch with WBA “regular” lightweight titlist Gervonta Davis, passed on the chance to face Stevenson for the vacant belt. That opened the door for Martin (18-0, 12 KOs), 28, of Indianapolis, who then passed, thus opening the door for De Los Santos.
Stevenson (20-0, 10 KOs), 26, a southpaw, became the WBC mandatory challenger with a sixth-round knockout of then-unbeaten Japanese contender Shuichiro Yoshino in a final eliminator on April 8 in Stevenson’ hometown of Newark, New Jersey.
De Los Santos (16-1, 14 KOs), 23, a southpaw from the Dominican Republic, who is promoted by Sampson Lewkowicz and affiliated with Premier Boxing Champions, has won three fights in a row since an eight-round split decision loss to unbeaten William Foster III in January 2022.
De Los Santos rebounded for a second-round knockout of then-undefeated Luis Acosta, which he followed with his biggest win, a third-round knockout of then-unbeaten Jose Valenzuela on the Andy Ruiz Jr.-Luis Ortiz pay-per-view card in September 2022.
De Los Santos then notched a near-shutout 10-round decision over Joseph Adorno in July.
Fierro motivated for Friday fight
Mexican lightweight contender Angel Fierro continues to strive toward his goal of a world title opportunity and it might not be too far away, but first he must defeat southpaw countryman Brayan Zamarripa in a regional title defense.
They meet in the 10-round main event of a Matchroom Boxing card on DAZN on Friday (8 p.m. ET) at the Auditorio Municipal Fausto Gutierrez Moreno in Fierro’s hometown of Tijuana.
With Devin Haney planning to move up to junior welterweight and his undisputed championship already beginning to splinter — with the WBC title being vacated — others are likely to follow in the coming months. Fierro (21-1-2, 17 KOs), 25, who is already highly ranked by the WBO, hopes to position himself.
“We’re focused on winning this fight on Friday, and then we’re looking for a world title,” said Fierro, who will be fighting in his hometown for the first time since 2019. “I’ve been chasing this dream since I was a kid and it’s something that I promised my parents and my daughter.
“I’m excited to be back in Tijuana. It’s been four years since I fought here at home.”
Zamarripa (13-1, 4 KOs), 26, has won 10 fights in a row and is stepping up in competition.
“I know he’s a brave fighter. When two Mexicans step into the ring it is all-out war, especially on a Mexican holiday,” Fierro said of the bout that will take place on Mexican Independence Day weekend. “I will just get in the ring and do my work; show all the hard work we have done as a team. I can imagine a hard fight but getting my hand raised, and then having another victory and heading to bigger stages in America.”
Pointless purse bid
Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions paid a participation fee and then offered just $63,000 as the only bidder at an IBF purse bid on Tuesday to win the rights to a welterweight final eliminator between his fighter, Ekow Essuman, and Cody Crowley, who is affiliated with PBC.
However, the fight to determine the organization’s mandatory challenger to undisputed champion Terence Crawford — who would first be ordered by the IBF to face interim titlist Jaron Ennis — has no chance of happening because Crowley never planned to participate and his team did not bid.
It was unusual the purse bid even was even held given that Crowley’s side never planned to participate in the fight and now certainly wouldn’t even consider it with each man entitled to just $31,500 on the 50-50 split of the winning bid.
Steven Nelson, Crowley’s manager, told Fight Freaks Unite that the bout “was not part of our plan. We made it clear that Cody did not need anymore elimination bouts. He is now No. 1 in the WBC and slated to fight the winner of (Yordenis) Ugas-(Mario) Barrios.”
Ugas and Barrios meet for the vacant interim title on Sept. 30 on the Canelo Alvarez-Jermell Charlo card and the winner likely will eventually become the full titleholder with Crawford probably headed to junior middleweight for a contractual rematch with Errol Spence Jr. in his next fight.
Crowley (22-0, 9 KOs), 30, a Canadian southpaw, outpointed Abel Ramos in an action-packed WBC eliminator in March. In his last fight Essuman (19-0, 7 KOs), 34, of England, outpointed Chris Kongo to retain the British and Commonwealth titles in January.
Boxing Social appearance
I joined my friends at Boxing Social to discuss several boxing topics: Frank Martin pulling out of a the Shakur Stevenson vacant WBC lightweight title fight; possibilities for Gervonta Davis; the latest on the probable Regis Prograis-Devin Haney fight; Ryan Garcia’s next move; Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder being in jeopardy; and the passing of top trainer Mike Stafford. Please check out the video here:
Seniesa Estrada, the unified WBC/WBA women’s strawweight champion and one of women’s boxing’s pound-for-pound best, announced that she had surgery on her injured right hand. She posted a photo to social media of her in the hospital with her hand in a cast with the comment, “Surgery was a success! Be back soon with two hands.” Estrada (25-0, 9 KOs), 31, of Los Angeles, aggravated an already existing ligament issue during her unanimous decision win to retain her 105-pound belts against Leonela Yudica on July 28 in Las Vegas.
Although promoter Boxxer has not yet announced it, the European Union posted on its website that European junior welterweight champion Franck Petitjean (24-6-3, 6 KOs), 35, a southpaw from France, will make his first defense against England’s rising star Adam Azim (9-0, 6 KOs), 21, on Nov. 18 in Wolverhampton, England. The fight will mark a quick turnaround for Azim, who cruised to a 10-round decision over Aram Fanyan on Sept. 2 on the Chris Eubank-Liam Smith II undercard.
Kevin Lerena and Senad Gashi will meet for the vacant WBC interim bridgerweight title on Nov. 25 at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, South Africa, Golden Gloves promoter Rodney Berman announced. Lerena (29-2, 14 KOs), 31, a South African southpaw, dropped Daniel Dubois three times in the first round before being stopped in the third round of their WBA “regular” heavyweight title bout in December. He bounced back with 12-round decision over former WBA cruiserweight titlist Ryad Merhy in May in a bridgerweight title eliminator that was supposed to be for the right to challenge titlist Lukasz Rozanski. Gashi (27-3, 26 KOs), 33, a German southpaw, hasn’t lost since back-to-back defeats at heavyweight to Derek Chisora (2019) and Carlos Takam (2018).
Promoter Larry Goldberg of Boxinginsider postponed his card scheduled for Thursday night at Sony Hall in New York for several reasons. According to Goldberg, the card headlined junior middleweight Brian Ceballo against Erick Leon was called off because, in recent days, one fighter dropped out due a failing medical exam, another tested positive for Covid-19, one had to go to the emergency room and another withdrew because of a back injury. It left the card with only three bouts. “That is not an event I can stand behind,” Goldberg said in an email to Fight Freaks Unite. “For these reasons we feel it’s in the best interest of boxing to reschedule this show for a date in October. We will strive to bring the best possible local boxing back to NYC.”
Show and tell
One of the most anticipated fights of the early 2000s was a raging feud fight between bitter rivals Oscar De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas, who intensely disliked each other. De La Hoya was coming off a one-sided decision over Javier Castillejo to claim the lineal/WBC junior middleweight title. Vargas was coming off a seventh-round knockout of Shibata Flores to win the vacant WBA title. The trash talk between the two was memorable and the anticipation was sky high before the fight was postponed because De La Hoya injured his left wrist in training.
It was rescheduled for four months later and they put on just the kind of intense and exciting fight everyone expected on Mexican Independence Day weekend. I was ringside to cover it at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for USA Today and it was fantastic. Vargas nearly overpowered De La Hoya early on, they both landed heavy shots throughout the bout, and both were bleeding. But De La Hoya, the faster and technically superior man, fended off the bigger, stronger Vargas and took over late in the fight. He hurt Vargas at the end of the 10th round and then dropped him with a thunderous left hook — his best weapon — in the 11th round before pounding him out with a violent follow-up barrage to unify titles. It was perhaps De La Hoya’s most exciting and most satisfying victory in a career filled with big wins. The fight (appropriately titled “Bad Blood”) took place on Sept. 14, 2002 — 21 years ago on Thursday. Here are two site posters in my collection, the main version (which is quite scarce) and a heavy stock LeRoy Neiman art poster with an edition numbered to 750. I own Nos. 30 and 31 with No. 30 signed to me by Neiman.
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Photos: Stevenson: Mikey Williams/Top Rank; Fierro: Matchroom Boxing; Crowley: Ryan Hafey/PBC; Estrada: Estrada Instagram
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