Notebook: Valdez set for hometown title defense vs. amateur nemesis Conceicao

V. Ortiz undercard set; Spence to retire Pacquiao?; GGG update

Junior lightweight world titlist Oscar Valdez will make his first defense against amateur nemesis Robson Conceicao on Sept. 10 at the AVA Amphitheater at Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona, where Mexico’s Valdez grew up, Top Rank made official, confirming last week’s Fight Freaks Unite report.

The fight will headline a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card (10 p.m.).

“I am very excited to fight in my second home, Tucson, Arizona, where I will have my first defense of the WBC world title,” Valdez said. “It motivates me to know that I will defend the title in front of my friends and my family, and I will be willing to put it on the line as in all my fights. I'm coming to give a great show to my people.”

Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs), 30, a 2008 and 2012 Mexican Olympian, aims to avenge a significant amateur loss to Conceicao (16-0, 8 KOs), 32, of Brazil, who beat him in the 2009 Pan American Games finals in Mexico City. Conceicao eventually won an Olympic gold medal at home at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

“I've been waiting my whole life for this opportunity, and that's why I'm training with great determination,” Conceicao said. “I will represent my family and Brazil. I already won a gold medal for my country and now I will bring home a world title. With great determination, I will deliver a great performance. It will be a true spectacle.”

Former featherweight titlist Valdez will be fighting for the first time since he dominated and brutally knocked out Miguel Berchelt to take his junior lightweight title in an upset on Feb. 20 in Las Vegas.

“Oscar Valdez is coming off a career-best performance and wants to put on a spectacular showing in front of the great Tucson fans,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. “Conceicao has been waiting for this shot ever since he turned pro, and having promoted him for his entire career, I know he’ll be at his very best.”

In the 10-round co-feature, junior lightweight Gabriel Flores Jr. (20-0, 7 KOs), 21, of Stockton, California, will fight Luis Alberto Lopez (22-2, 12 KOs), 27, of Mexico. Flores was originally scheduled to fight on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III undercard but when that July 24 card was postponed Top Rank shifted Flores to Sept. 10.

“This is the next step in my journey towards a world title, and I will convincingly defeat Lopez,” Flores said. “I’m going to prove once again that I’m ready for the next level.”

Said Lopez: “I guarantee nothing but my very best. I’m a man of few words, and I’ll let my actions do the talking inside the ring.”

The undercard will also feature WBO flyweight titlist Junto Nakatani (21-0, 16 KOs), 23, of Japan, making his first defense against former junior flyweight titlist and mandatory challenger Angel “Tito” Acosta (22-2, 21 KOs), 30, of Puerto Rico. They were supposed to fight May 29 in Osaka, Japan, but it was postponed because of the state of emergency there due to the coronavirus pandemic. There were issues rescheduling the fight and a June 1 purse bid was scheduled. Before the purse bid was held Nakatani promoter Teiken Boxing and Acosta promoter Golden Boy made a deal, but because of travel restrictions preventing Acosta from entering Japan, Top Rank, which is close to Teiken Boxing, agreed to help by putting the fight on its card.

Others who will appear on the undercard against opponents to be named: hot prospect Xander Zayas (9-0, 7 KOs), 18, of Sunrise, Florida, in a six-round junior middleweight bout; lightweight prospect Raymond Muratalla (12-0, 10 KOs), 24, of Fontana, California, in an eight-rounder; 2016 Mexican Olympian and junior welterweight prospect Lindolfo Delgado (12-0, 11 KOs), 26; junior lightweight Rene Tellez Giron (15-1, 9 KOs), 22, of Mexico; and junior welterweight Omar Aguilar (21-0, 20 KOs), 22, of Mexico.

Ortiz-’Mean Machine’ undercard

Golden Boy unveiled the undercard of the fight between rising welterweight star Vergil Ortiz Jr. and former world title challenger “Mean Machine” Egidijus Kavaliauskas, and the Aug. 14 (DAZN) show at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, will include two world title bouts.

In the co-feature, secondary junior lightweight titlist Roger Gutierrez will make his first defense against former titlist Rene Alvarado in an immediate rematch and their third fight overall.

“The final chapter of the longstanding rivalry between Roger Gutierrez and Rene Alvarado will end on Aug. 14,” Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya said. “The results of their first two fights were sharply different from each other, though both battles produced an equal amount of excitement. This third fight will put an end to their rivalry with even more action and place the winner on the path to unify titles in the division.”

Alvarado (32-9, 21 KOs), 32, of Nicaragua, knocked out Gutierrez (25-3-1, 20 KOs), 26, of Venezuela, in the seventh round on a nontitle bout in 2017. They met again on Jan. 2 and Gutierrez dropped Alvarado three times en route to a 113-112 unanimous decision on all three scorecards to win the belt in an upset.

“I am very excited for this trilogy fight that I am going to have with Rene Alvarado,” Gutierrez said. “I know that the fight will not be easy and my opponent is tough. He beat me in the first fight, and then I took the title from him in the second bout. It will be an exciting battle.”

Said Alvarado: “I am happy to have the opportunity to rectify the loss I suffered against Roger Gutierrez. I made mistakes in that second fight, but I promise to correct them all on Aug. 14 so I can deliver to Nicaragua a great victory.”

In the second title bout, junior flyweight world titlist Felix Alvarado (36-2, 31 KOs), 32, of Nicaragua, and Rene Alvarado’s twin brother, will make his third 108-pound defense when he faces Erick Lopez (16-5-1, 10 KOs), 27, of Mexico

The DAZN stream will open with junior welterweight brawler Pablo Cesar Cano (33-7-1, 23 KOs), 31, of Mexico, facing Danielito Zorrilla (15-0, 11 KOs), 27, of Puerto Rico, in a 10-rounder.

The rest of the card will stream live on Golden Boy’s Facebook page.

GGG, Murata near deal

While the plan in the works remains for Gennadiy Golovkin and Ryota Murata to meet near the end of the year in a middleweight world title unification fight the chances of them also participating in interim bouts ahead of their showdown, as has been discussed, has become more remote, a according to source with knowledge of the situation.

The camps hoped to hold the interim bouts either in August or early September, but with time running out to arrange them and not a lot of enthusiasm from DAZN, which has an exclusive contract with Golovkin, that plan is likely to be scrapped in favor of going directly to the unification fight.

Golovkin, who holds the IBF 160-pound title, and Murata, who has the WBA crown, are in the process of finalizing the unification bout, which would likely take place on Dec. 28 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, just outside of Toyo.

I wrote about the situation for World Boxing News. Please read the full story here:

Herring-Stevenson is close

Junior lightweight titlist Jamel Herring and interim titlist Shakur Stevenson are close to a deal for their mandatory fight, Brian “Bomac” McIntyre, Herring’s manager and trainer, told Fight Freaks Unite.

McIntyre said the fight is likely to take place on Nov. 13 at a site to be determined. The fight will air on an ESPN platform.

“Jamel is very motivated for this fight,” McIntyre said. “A lot of people thought he would give up the title and look to avoid Shakur but that isn’t happening. Jamel wants this fight and Jamel is going to win this fight.”

The two boxers, who are both southpaws, are very familiar with each other as they are both promoted by Top Rank and have been friendly. Also, Stevenson and trainers Wali Moses, Stevenson's grandfather, and Kay Koroma trained for Stevenson’s last fight in McIntyre’s camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Herring (23-2, 11 KOs), 35, a Coram, New York, native, is coming off the most impressive victory of his career. He knocked out former two-division titlist Carl Frampton in the sixth round of a title defense in Dubai on April 3.

Herring was able to fight Frampton because even though the mandatory defense against Stevenson was due, Stevenson agreed to step aside to allow it to happen as long as he got the next shot at the belt.

But former featherweight world titlist Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs), 24, of Newark, New Jersey, didn’t want to just sit and wait for the fight, so Top Rank matched him with South Africa’s Jeremiah Nakathila for the vacant interim belt on June 12 in Las Vegas. Stevenson dropped Nakathila in the fourth round and won a shutout decision.

Spence to retire Pacquiao?

Unified welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr. will defend against Manny Pacquiao in the biggest fight of Spence’s career and believes he will send the legendary eight-division champion into retirement.

They meet on Aug 21 (Fox Sports PPV) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in what will be Pacquiao’s first fight in 25 months, since he looked terrific taking apart Keith Thurman to take his welterweight belt (which was later stripped from Pacquiao) in July 2019, and Spence is confident.

“I think he’ll definitely retire,” Spence said during an interview with Showtime’s Brian Custer during the network’s Jermell Charlo-Brian Castano telecast on Saturday night. “I think he’ll definitely retire after this fight.”

The Filipino senator Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs), at 42, is in the twilight of his boxing career, one that fellow southpaw Spence (27-0, 21KOs), 31, thinks he can finish off even though Pacquiao has continued to fight at a high level.

“(Winning) will show everybody why I am one of the best fighters in the world and it will show everybody why I am the best 147-pounder in my division,” said Spence, who will be making his sixth title defense.

If Spence wins, as he expects to, he said he would then like to meet Terence Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs) in a unification fight. That’s a fight that the boxing public has longed for but has gone unmade. Crawford is penciled in to fight Oct. 23 in the final fight of his Top Rank contract unless they work out an extension.

“I definitely want that fight,” Spence said. “It’s for his guys (at Top Rank) and my guys (manager Al Haymon and Premier Boxing Champions) to talk and see if they can make it happen. If (we) can’t make it happen, I gotta move up. I’ve been here (at 147 pounds) too long.”

Pascal, trainer split

In the wake of former light heavyweight titlist Jean Pascal’s several positive Voluntary Anti-Doping Association drug tests for four different banned substances that caused his rematch with Badou Jack scheduled for June 6 on the undercard of the pay-per-view exhibition match between Floyd Mayweather and Logan Paul to be canceled, trainer Stephan Larouche said he will no longer train Pascal.

“During my 40 years in boxing, I thought I had seen everything, but I was wrong,” Larouche told Montreal newspaper La Presse. “To see my fighter fails his PED test was a surprise and a huge disappointment. This is why I won’t train Jean Pascal anymore.”

Over the course of various pre-fight tests, Pascal tested positive for anabolic steroids  Drostanolone, Drostanolone metabolite and Epitrenbolone as well as erythropoietin, better known as EPO, which can only be injected.

The WBA recently stripped Pascal (35-6-1, 20 KOs), 38, of Montreal, of his secondary title and suspended him for six months.

Pascal issued a statement on the situation.

“After winning a world title and twice being world champion, Stephan Larouche and I both agreed that it would be better to end our association on a high note after a successful defense of the world title,” Pascal said. “Stephan is one of the best coaches I have worked with and I have no doubt that he will remain a staple in Quebec boxing for many years to come.”

Split-T signs heavyweight Mireles

Split-T Management’s David McWater announced that he has signed heavyweight Antonio Mireles, who won the super heavyweight gold medal at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Mireles, 24, of Des Moines, Iowa, was 28-4 with 10 knockouts in a brief amateur career in which he also was a 2019 National Golden Gloves champion, 2019 Eastern Elite amateur champion and a five-time Iowa Golden Gloves champion.

In pros, he will be trained by Robert Garcia with his pro debut likely in September, although he is not signed to a promoter.

“I am very excited to sign with Split-T Management. They saw me in a few tournaments and they were impressed. The goal was the Olympics and now I am ready to turn professional,” said Mireles, who began boxing at 12 and competing at 15. “I am a boxer, I like to keep my opponents at bay and use my range. I am out in Oxnard training with Robert Garcia and hopefully will make my debut in September.”

McWater, whose top fighter in his stable is unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez, was ecstatic to sign Mireles.

“I am as excited about signing Antonio as anyone I’ve ever signed,” McWater said. “I think he has the ability to be heavyweight champion of the world some day and the opportunity to be a tremendous star.”

Quick hits

Middleweights Esquiva Falcao (28-0, 20 KOs), 31, a southpaw from Brazil and 2012 Olympic silver medalist, and Patrick Wojcicki (14-0-1, 5 KOs), 29, who was also a 2012 Olympian, are to slated to meet in an IBF title elimination fight on Aug. 28, Carl Moretti of Top Rank, which promotes Falcao, told Fight Freaks Unite. The fight will either take place on a card in Germany or on a possible Matchroom Boxing card the same date in the United States. The winner will be become the mandatory challenger for titleholder Gennadiy Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs).

Unified heavyweight titleholder Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) and former undisputed cruiserweight champion and mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) have officially enrolled in a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association random drug testing program ahead of their fight. VADA made the announcement via social media. The fight is set for Sept. 25 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

The fight between heavyweight contender Joe Joyce and former world title challenger Carlos Takam, which takes place on Saturday at the SSE Arena, Wembley in London, now has an outlet in the United States. The card will be streamed live on ($12.99) beginning at 2:15 p.m. ET. Joyce (12-0, 11 KOs), 35, of England, is coming off his biggest win in November when he knocked out Daniel Dubois in the 10th round to win the vacant European title. If Joyce wins he will be the next WBO mandatory for the Anthony Joshua-Oleksandr Usyk. Takam (39-5-1, 28 KOs), 40, of France, has won four fights in a row since back-to-back knockout losses to Joshua, who stopped him in the eighth round of a world title defense in October 2017, and Dereck Chisora, who stopped him in the eighth round in July 2018.

Unified junior middleweight titlist Jermell Charlo, with a few days to reflect on his controversial split draw with titlist Bryan Castano for the undisputed title on Saturday night, offered some thoughts on his social media and made it clear he wants a rematch. “Brian Castano is one hell of a better fighter than anyone gave him credit for and he came to fight for his life Saturday,” Charlo wrote. “If fights are scored as a whole I landed the harder and better shots, but boxing isn't scored that way. Boxing is scored round by round. I've always said to take a belt from a champion you need to take that belt and the judges felt neither of us did enough to take those other belts and they ruled a draw. I don’t want to become undisputed by a narrow controversial decision. I want to make a statement. I didn’t do my part to get the KO and as always I will continue to learn and improve. When we run it back, just like I adjusted in (Tony) Harrison II, there will be no doubt about the result.”

Interim junior welterweight titlist Alberto Puello (18-0, 10 KOs), 26, of the Dominican Republic, will defend his belt against Jesus Antonio Rubio (13-3-1, 7 KOs), 26, of Mexico, on Wednesday night in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The fight was a late addition to the card because Puello was originally scheduled to defend against Rances Barthelemy on Saturday on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III card in Las Vegas. But when that was postponed, he took the fight with Rubio on the Shuan Boxing card. If Puello wins, the fight with Barthelemy is expected to be rescheduled on a PBC card.

Queensberry Promotions chief Frank Warren announced he has secured six additional shows on broadcast partner BT Sport in the United Kingdom with the added cards to focus on prospects from his stable. The cards will air on BT Sport and also be available on the BT Sport Boxing YouTube channel. “I'd like to pay tribute to BT Sport for getting right behind this initiative and supporting the sport at more of a 'grassroots' level,” Warren said. “Right from the start BT made clear their intention to tell the story and maximize the exposure of our young fighters and they have been true to their word — and now even more so.”

Triller Fight Club announced that it has hired Thorsten Meier, a vastly experienced figure in boxing when it comes to handling event production and logistics, as its chief operating officer. Meier, who is fluent in five languages, has worked extensively on Premier Boxing Champions events and Gennadiy Golovkin and Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko events, among others.

Show and tell

Mike Tyson reached the apex of his career when he destroyed Michael Spinks in 91 seconds of their heavyweight championship fight, but Tyson’s path of destruction continued for two more fights. He knocked out Frank Bruno in the fifth round to retain the undisputed title and then came a mandatory defense against Carl “The Truth” Williams, who a few years earlier had lost a 15-round decision challenging then-champion Larry Holmes. But Williams was no match for the peak Tyson, who mowed him down in just 93 seconds. The fight was on July 21, 1989 — 32 years ago on Wednesday. Buster Douglas would be up next for Tyson. Here’s a program from Tyson-Williams in my collection.

Spence photo: Frank Micelotta/Fox Sports; Mireles photo: Split-T Management

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