Fightful Boxing Newsletter (12/21): 2017 In Review Part 1, Latest On 2018 Early Schedule, Garcia vs. Lipinets Press Conference Quotes

With 2017 soon to wrap up, the next few issues of the Fightful Boxing Newsletter will evaluate 2017 as a whole, cover some of the biggest storylines that transpired, looking at some of the best fights of the year and preview boxing in 2018. The first couple of months of 2018 alone have an incredible lineup of world title fights which will feature Mikey Garcia, Errol Spence Jr. and the World Boxing Super Series semifinals, with three of the four fights already having confirmed dates.

Even with the year ending, HBO had one more live boxing telecast with WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders defending his title against former world champion David Lemieux. Saunders dominated the fight and made it a non-competitive fight.

Ric Flair To Referee Slap Fighting Exhibition Bout Between Da Crazy Hawaiian And The Bear Man

All this plus, the latest on negotiations regarding several major fights in boxing are covered in this week's edition of the Fightful Boxing Newsletter:

Below is the Fightful Boxing Newsletter (12/21) Table Of Contents:

  1. 2017 In Review Part One: Boxing's Biggest Storylines (Page 2)
  2. Latest On Major Title Fight Negotiations (Page 3)
  3. Mikey Garcia vs. Sergey Lipinets Press Conference Quotes (Page 4)
  4. Weekend Fight Review (Page 5)
  5. Results From The World Of Boxing (Page 6)
  6. Fightful Boxing Rankings (Page 7-8)
  7. News And Notes From Around The World Of Boxing (Page 9)
  8. Title Fights Announced, What 2018 Already Has In Store (Page 10)

2017 In Review Part One: Boxing's Biggest Storylines:

It's no secret that many thought 2016 was a bad year in boxing. After all, Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin didn't happen that year, it was the first full year post-Mayweather, most of the fights were somewhat uninteresting or just complete mismatches. This year wasn't a perfect year, but it has been a massive improvement both in and out of the ring for various reasons.

From two mega fights taking place to even more big fights being set up for 2018 and ESPN getting back into showcasing world championship boxing on its main channel, there's no shortage of storylines fans followed all year long. Below are a summary of five of the biggest storylines boxing had in 2017:

Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor Dominate The Summer Boxing Season:

No boxing fight has dominated the mainstream sports landscape in quite some time like Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor did for the entire buildup of the fight. The fight, which almost broke pay-per-view records when it happened in August. Almost everyone knew McGregor would lost fight, but it made it no less interesting to follow.

This fight made headlines with its massive press conferences, which included many comments made from both sides that pushed the envelope on what is acceptable trash talk and what is going too far. At times, the press conference were borderline unwatchable, but at other times, it was one of the most entertaining verbal feuds in combat sports.

The fight itself was certainly far more entertaining than many people give it credit. McGregor also performed far better than many boxing analysts believed he would, even winning some of the early rounds in the fight before Mayweather ultimately scored the TKO win. McGregor even did so well, boxers such as Paulie Malignaggi and Manny Pacquiao were either publicly interested in fighting McGregor next or were linked to potentially having a fight with the UFC champion.

Although McGregor lost, one can argue his public popularity has increased thanks to the fight. The sport also benefited with the increased attention from the general public. Badou Jack, who will likely fight WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson next, had by far the best performance on the pay-per-view card and will likely garner a bigger audience and television viewership for when his next fight takes place, likely on Showtime.

UFC also experienced some ripple effects due to McGregor's absence. Without its biggest star, the promotion has suffered to have a major pay-per-view star for the future given that Ronda Rousey's MMA career is in doubt as she prepares for a wrestling career, Jon Jones' UFC career is in doubt and Georges St. Pierre isn't a long time answer for being a pay-per-view star.

As far as what this event does for boxing long term, it's too soon to say. Boxing is headed in a positive direction and for as much noise some boxing purists have made saying this fight hurts the integrity of the sport, the sport needs as much eyeballs as it can get as we enter 2017. With ESPN and the networks started to showcase major boxing events more often, 2018 seems to be a make or break year for boxing and this fight could potentially help the sport by creating newer stars in Gervonta Davis and Jack, who picked up wins on the pay-per-view card. As a promoter, Mayweather could further elevate those two boxers and in the case of Davis, groom him into being the next Mayweather. Only time will tell what the true effects from Mayweather vs. McGregor will have on both boxing and mixed martial arts.

Tyson Fury's Quest To Return (Then Leave, Then Return Again) To Boxing:

Perhaps no heavyweight boxer has drawn the attention of fans all over the world without having to fight in two years quite like Tyson Fury. Fury shocked the world by beating future Hall of Famer Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. Since then, he has failed drug tests, retired twice and come out of retirement twice, get suspended by the UKAD and have his boxing license revoked by the British Boxing Board of Control. Even with all of that going against Fury, he has still remained in the global heavyweight conversation and has fights against the likes of Anthony Joshua, Dillian Whyte and Deontay Wilder looking like a possibility.

Fury's natural charisma and outlandish character has kept him relevant despite the lack of boxing activity and is now mounting a comber to return to form and get back the world titles that were stripped from him. Now that Fury is in the clear with the UKAD and a January meeting with the BBBofC potentially ending with Fury getting his license back.

Nothing seems to be certain as of this point and if Fury is back to boxing, there's no telling whether the Tyson Fury we'll see will even be remotely close to the Tyson Fury that ended Klitschko's historic reign as the world heavyweight champion.

Even though this might not be the biggest heavyweight fight in the world, in the United Kingdom, a Joshua vs. Fury fight has the potential to be the biggest and highest-viewed boxing match in the history of the sport in the region. Fury is the most interesting name to consider when looking at the heavyweight division in 2018 (a division that is only looking far more impressive with Joshua and Fury leading the charge and up-and-coming boxers such as Jarrell Miller and Daniel Dubois emerging as potential stars in the division).

Top Rank's Return To ESPN And Impact On The Sport:

When it was revealed that HBO would not be showing Manny Pacquiao’s 2016 fight against Jessie Vargas on pay-per-view, Bob Arum and Top Rank knew it was time to sever ties with the network and look elsewhere. Elsewhere turned out to ESPN, who is now trying their at being a major player in televising big time boxing fights like they did years ago.

ESPN’s gain was truly HBO’s loss. Not only is ESPN showcasing world title fights, but they’re doing so with HBO’s top television stars, such as Terence Crawford and Vasyl Lomachenko. Take that plus a lack of Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez fights on HBO and you have a year in which HBO boxing’s viewership was down from 2016, a year in which many considered was a bad year for the sport. With Top Rank entering a multi-year broadcasting with ESPN, the network now has access to some of the biggest names in the sport, starting their partnership with Manny Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title defense against Jeff Horn, which ended up being a massive ratings hit. Under the four-year deal, ESPN will televise live Top Rank-promoted fights on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, the network's Spanish language channel, and stream them on the ESPN App.

Top Rank, who have experience working with making pay-per-view events, are expected to do two pay-per-view events next year with ESPN’s help. By this point, it’ll be very hard to determine how good those pay-per-view buys can be. Pacquiao vs. Vargas did about 300,000 buys, which fell somewhere within some people’s expectations, but it is a significant drop from Pacquiao’s usual pay-per-view buyrate.

ESPN is now getting back into serious boxing broadcasts at the most opportunistic time, with some of HBO’s top boxing stars now becoming a part of ESPN and other top stars -- such as Andre Ward and Miguel Cotto -- either leaving or set to leave soon. Boxing’s popularity in the United States now seems to be on the rise, especially since CBS’ broadcast of the Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia welterweight unification fight did the best television viewership in almost 20 years.

Unification Bouts Further Helping The Sport:

This year not only brought about several high-profile matches all over the world, but also many divisions unify world titles. Perhaps the biggest unification is the extremely rare four-belt unification fight between Terence Crawford and Julius Indongo, in which Crawford unified the WBA, IBF, WBO and WBC junior welterweight titles.

When we first saw James DeGale and Badou Jack kick off the year with a WBC/IBF super middleweight unification, little did we know that it was a sign of things to come. In March, we saw the welterweight division unify the WBA and WBC titles at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York in what ended up being the highest-watched boxing match in nearly two decades. The following month saw Anthony Joshua unify the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles when he took down future Hall of Famer Wladimir Klitschko in 11 rounds in what could likely be 2017’s Fight of the Year.

The second half of 2017 laid out the foundation for what the biggest matches of 2018 are going to look like, mainly in the super middleweight and cruiserweight division. The thing both divisions have in common is that they are a part of the World Boxing Super Series tournaments. With both tournaments having one winner hold multiple world titles by the end of next spring, the WBSS could be the future of boxing with the two tournament gathering arguably eight of the best boxers in their respective divisions. The fact that the tournament organizers were able to work with the sport’s governing bodies to allow all of these fights take place. Unifying world titles kills two birds with one stone.

Not only can these fights be marketed as a must-see high profile battle between two champions, but also the number of world titleholders go down and the titles’ value go up. That is not to say that boxing will be back on the map as the premier combat sport by the end of the year, but 2017 is a damn good start. With so many high-profile fights already made this year and more to come in 2018, the sport is primed for a comeback.

Retirements All Over 2017:

As with any other sport, retirement is simply a part of the game. Each year a significant athlete or two announces that they will be retiring, whether it would be premeditated or abruptly. This year, boxing has plenty of retirements from both of those sides. In fact 2017, may have been the year with the most amount of noteworthy names to have retired. The list, to name a few below, is absolutely staggering:

  • Miguel Cotto
  • Wladimir Klitschko
  • Juan Manuel Marquez
  • Takashi Uchiyama
  • Robert Guerrero
  • Shane Mosley
  • Floyd Mayweather Jr. (again)
  • Timothy Bradley Jr.
  • Andre Ward
  • Jean Pascal

What makes this a more memorable year are the final fights of some of these boxers. In the cases of Cotto and Klitschko, and especially Klitschko, fans got to see high-caliber fights and that will likely end up on many people’s top 25 in terms of boxing matches for 2017. At one point, Klitschko was the most-feared heavyweight boxer in the world and was even a top 3 heavyweight when he fought in his last bout against Anthony Joshua back in late April. Even in defeat, that fight cemented Klitschko’s status as an all-time great heavyweight by delivering an all-time great heavyweight title fight in front of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium.

Of course, many of these retirements came with little to no fanfare. Bradley, Mosley and Marquez hadn’t fought in a high-profile fight in years and their retirements were somewhat expected at this point outside of Bradley, who was still relatively young enough to keep on fighting, but the amount of wars he had in recent years have taken a massive toll on Bradley’s body and overall health.

Perhaps the saddest retirement was Guerrero’s. Sure, Cotto’s loss to Sadam Ali earlier this month was a heart-breaker for millions of boxing fans, but Guerrero was simply an unfortunate case of a fighter taking one too many fights. In front of a record-low television audience on FOX, Guerrero got decimated by Omar Figueroa in just a few rounds, getting knocked down repeatedly in what will go down as one of the worst performances on a nationally-televised main event in recent U.S. boxing history.

But now that the retirements have all been done, and with no more retirements expected for the remainder of the year, it’s time to see what the 2021 and 2022 Hall of Fame ballots could be. Most of the aforementioned names will be first eligible on those ballots so it will be interesting to see who ends up making those Hall of Fame classes.

As for boxers who could be calling it quits next year, guys such as Orlando Salido, who already announced his retirement last week before going back on his word days after, are highly likely to retire at the end of the year. Perhaps a couple of names whom fans could see for the last time in the ring are Manny Pacquiao and Roman Gonzalez. Pacquiao is almost 40 years old, no longer an elite fighter and is not training full-time due to his duties as a senator in the Philippines. Gonzalez already suffered two straight losses to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and is also getting up there in years. He’s already achieved enough to call it a career and is still competing at a weight classes that may be too big for him at 116 pounds.

Latest on Major Title Fight Negotiations:

Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin:

Nothing new has been discussed regarding the Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin rematch since Golden Boy Promotions President Eric Gomez said the fight is close to being signed. Even though there is no real indication, the feeling around both sides is that the fight is all but signed and that only minor details are being worked out. At this point and juncture, the fight will take place at T-Mobile Arena on May 5, 2018 and all the middleweight titles are going to be in play for when they meet.

As far what potential fights on the undercard could be, I recently tweeted about how a four-fight pay-per-view card should look like, with a Billy Joe Saunders vs. Daniel Jacobs fight (highly unlikely considering Jacobs will probably be fighting in April), a title defense from the champion (WBO super flyweight champion Naoya Inoue or WBA super flyweight champion Kal Yafai) who will not defend his title on the upcoming Superfly 2 card HBO is holding in February and have prospect Diego De La Hoya, who had a terrific 2017, open up the card.

Quite frankly, it's extremely unlikely that specific card will take place come May 5, but I am hearing that the co-main event will most likely be a title fight, whether it be a world title fight or a regional title that will serve more as a catapult to a world title shot sooner rather than later.

Jeff Horn vs. Terence Crawford:

While a fight against former undisputed junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford looms in the distance, WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn might actually take a fight against fellow countryman Anthony Mundine.

Dean Lonergan spoke with AAP and was highly critical of Crawford's ability to sell a fight, calling "poor in the media" and that Horn might be thinking of taking a fight with Mundine, which would get Horn a reported $2 million payday.

Horn recently wrapped up his title defense, scoring a TKO victory over Gary Corcoran in Australia. Horn won the title from Manny Pacquiao earlier this year and his next mandatory defense will be against Crawford. Crawford vacating his unified junior welterweight titles, which included the WBO title, meaning Crawford automatically gets mandatory challenger status for the WBO welterweight title.

Mundine is schedule to fight Tommy Browne on January 17 for the vacant WBO Oriental middleweight title, meaning a potential Horn vs. Mundine fight wouldn’t take place until next spring at the earliest and would most likely take place at 154 pounds as Mundine probably won’t be able to make the 147-pound welterweight limit.

The problem that could prevent Horn vs. Crawford are the financial requests Horn has reportedly asked for. Horn allegedly asked for a $5 million purse to fight Crawford, a somewhat unreasonably high, but not impossible, number to give. Crawford doesn’t even make that much money in the past couple of years’ worth of fights. Here are the contractual purse numbers Crawford made in three of his last four fights:

  • vs. Julius Indongo ($1.2 million+)
  • vs. Felix Diaz ($1.5 million)
  • vs. Viktor Postol on pay-per-view ($1.3 million)

Those numbers don’t even add up to the $5 million Horn is allegedly asking. What is strange is how a fight with Mundine would likely fetch around $2 million and would mean Horn moving up in weight, but that is the fall back option in case the Crawford doesn’t happen. There's also the issue of Mundine already being busy for a bit. He is currently scheduled to fight in January for a regional WBO middleweight title. Should Mundine lose, he would have lost his third straight fight and four of his past five fights, further diminishing the value a Horn vs. Mundine fight would have, even in Australia.

March 3 Madison Square Garden Card:

The long-rumored HBO card at Madison Square Garden taking place in March is very close to have two light heavyweight title matches take place there, according to reports. ESPN's Dan Rafael reports that there are deals in place for WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev and WBA champion Dmitry Bivol to defend their belts against Igor Mikhalkin and Sullivan Barrera, respectively. Those fights would be the top two fights on the March 3 HBO card at MSG.

Kovalev will be making his first title defense since beating Vyacheslav Shabranskyy on November 25 at Madison Square Garden. It's been planned since Kovalev won the title for him to defend it at Madison Square Garden in March. A possible fight for that main event would have been Kovalev vs. Barrera since both of them are promoted by Main Events.

Barrera reportedly turned down the fight against Kovalev in order to fight Bivol despite the fact that a deal deal to fight Kovalev would have brought Barrera more money than what the fight against Bivol would have given him. Bivol was also recently ordered to fight Barrera by the WBA so a Kovalev vs. Barrera fight in March was already highly unlikely to begin with.

The deals for both fights are nearing completion, but an announcement is expected to be made soon. Mikhalkin had been in talks with Marcus Browne for a world title elimination fight that would give the winner a mandatory shot against IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev. Mikhalkin withdrew his name from the Browne fight once he was offered a fight against Kovalev.

Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz:

But on the flipside in nearby Brooklyn, Showtime looks to have its second Barclays Center event of 2018 take place on March 3 with a planned main event of Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz in Wilder’s latest WBC heavyweight title defense.

The two were supposed to fight on November 4, but Ortiz violated the WBC’s “Clean Boxing Program” and so the fight was pulled. Despite Wilder being openly being frustrated at Ortiz’s failed drug test, but recently watched Ortiz’s fight a couple of weeks ago and even had an in-ring confrontation with Ortiz, hinting that the two of them could still fight.

That card doesn’t have any other fights planned, but the Wilder vs. Ortiz main event does appear that it will move forward for that date. Once again, HBO and Showtime appear to budding heads due to having boxing events take place on the same day, sure to hurt both network’s viewership numbers.

But with Wilder headlining the Showtime card, the network card stands to have a great chance at beating HBO in the ratings battle because Wilder has been a big draw for the network, bigger than Kovalev, the headliner for the HBO card on that night. The winner of Wilder vs. Ortiz figures to be the next man up to face Anthony Joshua, provided he manages to defeat WBO champion Joseph Parker, with that fight likely to also take place next spring.

Mikey Garcia vs. Sergey Lipinets Press Conference Quotes:

Mikey Garcia could make history in less than two months by becoming the 17th man in modern boxing history to win a world title in four different weight classes when he challenges Sergey Lipinets' IBF junior welterweight title. Garcia, the current WBC lightweight champion, will fight Lipinets on Showtime on February 10. Both fighters already had two press conferences and below are the quotes for both press conferences below, which includes a claim from Garcia that he could be the biggest star in the sport since Floyd Mayweather.

San Antonio Press Conference

Mikey Garcia

"We're expecting a tough competitive fight. Lipinets is a fighter who is always dangerous. He has power in both hands and he's not afraid to let his hands go. He's also willing to get hit, so that he can hit you back. That's what makes him dangerous.

"This opportunity to win a title in a fourth division was too great to pass on. It's hard to secure fights like this. I'm happy everything came together so we can give the fans a great show.

"Last year was a great year for my return. It started with a world title win for a third division title and then I had the big victory over Adrien Broner in the summer. I'm looking for even bigger things in 2018 and this last year really paved the path for that.

"Winning a fourth title was the big draw for me in making this fight happen. To make history like that is something that really motivates me. I know that I have a lot more to accomplish in the sport, but this is a great start. This is the direction I want to go in.

"There's a lot of talent and history in boxing in San Antonio. My brother has a gym here and we have a lot of fighters we train with from the area. Even though I've never fought here, I've gotten a lot of support from the community. When we were looking at venues for the fight, this was something I was excited to do.

"I have fought in different regions of Texas and always received a lot of love, but I had never been able to fight in San Antonio. We decided to bring the fight here to give something back to the state of Texas. There's no city better to host it than San Antonio."

Sergey Lipinets

"The fans in San Antonio can expect drama. It's going to be a show. It's going to have big punches, knockdowns and everything you'd want to see in a fight.

"This is the biggest challenge that I've had in my career. Mikey is a big star, but I'm very competitive and I want to show the world what I can do.

"My spirit cannot be matched by any fighter, but I also have the speed and strength to win. I will show my devastating power on February 10.

"Mikey is a very good chess player. People underestimate his ability to think in the ring. So I can't just go in there with a style that someone else has used against him. We're going to work hard on the best game plan for what I can do.

"This is going to be a difficult fight. I'm aiming to get a win any way that I can. I can't say what it is going to look like, but I will be ready for anything in the ring.

"I'm coming to win. I want to be in the position that Mikey has reached in this sport. I've worked hard to get to this moment and I'm going to give it my all to take advantage.

"If I didn't think I was ready for this fight then I wouldn't have taken it. We have a plan and we'll use all the experience I've gained from my career to execute it.

Richard Schaefer, Chairman & CEO of Ringstar Sports

"Boxing is going into 2018 with huge momentum and starting out with big events like this. You have two undefeated champions getting in the ring to fight each other. These kind of fights are going to continue to elevate the sport to great heights.

"This was an easy fight to make because you have two fighters who want to measure themselves against the best. This is a fight that got done quickly. Neither fighter had to be convinced. Both guys feel they can win and are going into the fight with an attitude of an undefeated fighter.

"Neither one of these guys have any thought that they might lose. They are 100 percent convinced that they are going to walk out of there with their hand raised. That's what's going to make this a great matchup."

Los Angeles Press Conference:

Mikey Garcia

"A world champion like Sergey Lipinets is more exciting an opponent for me than an easy title defense. I wanted a challenge and this man presents that. He's a bigger man naturally. He's going to be very hungry and motivated. He knows a victory over me launches his career to the top. That's going to make this an interesting fight.

"To win a world title in a fourth division is a big deal to me. My dad always wanted a three-division world champion, and now I have a chance to give him a fourth title. That's something that really excites me.

"It's been a great return to boxing since my layoff. When I came back, I wanted to move fast and take on big challenges. That's what we've been doing so far. I want to take on any challenges that people think I can't achieve. I think slowly we're proving to everyone that I'm better than ever and I'm going to keep taking on the kinds of fights that will cement my legacy.

"It would be a great accomplishment to be in the discussion with guys like Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, that would be a win in itself. But it wasn't on my mind when taking this fight. I just want to keep fighting the best out there. There's still more for me to accomplish until I'm on the same level as Pacquiao and Marquez.

"It's going to be a great fight. Like I've said, the challenge for me is that I'll be fighting the bigger man. On fight night, that advantage he has on me might be enough to make it that much more exciting. It will be interesting to see how well I adapt to the size. I have to make adjustments to overcome those challenges. This should give the fans the excitement that we want to give them.

"My only focus is on February 10 against Sergey Lipinets. That's my target throughout the entire camp. There may be more opportunities for me on the horizon, but you'll see on fight night that I'm one hundred percent focused.

"I know that I have the possibility to be the biggest star in boxing like a Floyd Mayweather, and I think I'm on track to accomplish that. I don't see a lot of guys in the sport with the resume of accomplishments that I have. I'm going to continue take on the best and beat my opponents convincingly."

Sergey Lipinets

"Mikey Garcia is a great champion and I want to be in the position that he's reached in this sport. The only way there is to go through him.

"I'm taking on a great challenge against Mikey Garcia, and many people think I'm not ready. This is the fight that I wanted. I've had many obstacles in my way throughout my career and I've overcome them all. I'm going to overcome Mikey Garcia just like that.

"Every time I have sparred with top fighters, like Terence Crawford, I have learned more about what I need to improve to get to the next level in this sport. That kind of experience has helped my confidence increase and will help me when I face Mikey Garcia.

"A lot of things can happen when you move up in weight. Usually people use some pop. Whatever version of Mikey Garcia shows up; I'll be ready for him.

"I believe I'm going to win, Mikey believes he's going to win, and it will all unveil in the ring. One thing I can guarantee; it's going to be a great fight.

"Every fight I've had has been against a tough opponent who has helped get me to this point. Now, I'm ready to fight the best, and Mikey Garcia is truly that.

"I had to work very hard to make the transition from champion kickboxer to a champion boxer. I did everything I had to do, moving from gym to gym and sparring everyone. I always aimed for the best and wanted to be the best at what I do."

Robert Garcia, Mikey's Brother & Trainer

"We know that Sergey Lipinets is a very dangerous fighter. He's a really strong champion. I know he's going to be hungry because he wants to become a big name by beating Mikey.

"Mikey is very smart in the ring. We're going to come in there with a good game plan. We'll have some big sparring partners. Strong, heavy guys who will give Mikey a big challenge in sparring.

"Mikey has to be in great shape for this fight. You can easily win the first eight rounds, but there are still four left. You have to be able to finish the fight. A great power puncher like Lipinets can finish you in one round."

Buddy McGirt, Lipinets' Trainer

"We will be prepared for any and every thing. This way, when fight night comes, we'll have an answer for everything. The key is that we just have to be on point from the opening bell to the end. There's no way around it.

"We're going to cover everything in training camp. You have to have every option available to you on fight night. This way, you're never surprised in the ring. Sergey won't go in there swinging to get a knockout, he's going to be disciplined and focus on getting the victory.

"I believe that Sergey is on a mission. I know Mikey Garcia is on a mission too, and I respect that. I respect that these two men are fighting each other. Champions do what Sergey is doing, and that's fighting the best."

Richard Schaefer

"This is going to be a huge night for the 140-pound division. It will be another toe-to-toe showdown at the Alamodome in San Antonio, where so many great matchups have taken place before. Tickets start at just $20 so we expect another great crowd of fight fans down in Texas.

"This matchup features two undefeated fighters, two big punchers and 50 wins, 40 by knockout, between the two of them. These guys are both champions who are daring to be great. These are exactly the kind of fighters that the public likes. These fighters will push themselves to be great.

"These guys only know one thing, and that is winning. Sergey Lipinets is the biggest puncher at 140-pounds and it seems like Mikey Garcia always seeks out these big punchers.

"Mikey is looking to do something that only Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez have done, in moving up from 126 pounds through 140 pounds winning titles at each division. It is very difficult to carry that power up from featherweight. You have to tune-in to see an exciting fighter like that trying to make history."

Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Showtime Sports

"What boxing needs are great fights. Good, high quality matchups like Leo Santa Cruz vs. Carl Frampton, Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia and Errol Spence vs. Kell Brook. There needs consistently be good fights, and that's what we have been doing at SHOWTIME for the last couple of years. No other network has done the quality of fights that SHOWTIME is doing. No other network is as committed to the sport as SHOWTIME has been.

"The best need to fight the best, and that is what Mikey Garcia has done. He came off of a two-and-a-half-year layoff and in 18 months he's had four fights, two title fights and will be going for a title in a fourth weight class, something only Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez have done before. That's what great fighters do.

"Historically the fighters who separate themselves as legendary, are the ones who challenge themselves and travel across weight classes to seek these challenges. But there are two sides to this story. Those who have been paying attention have seen Sergey Lipinets make a lot of noise on SHOWTIME cards lately. He has risen very quickly.

"If you just look at Lipinets' record, 13-0, and think about him fighting Mikey Garcia it would sound crazy. But if you look at the kind of competition he's faced, his last seven opponents have a combined record of 163-15. That's not something you usually see 13 fights into a career. Lipinets is a combat veteran, and whatever happens in the ring, he will be ready for it. It's going to make for an exciting night."

Weekend Fight Review:

December 16 (HBO):

Billy Joe Saunders defeated David Lemieux via unanimous decision to retain the WBO middleweight title: In what was a standout performance to end the year, Saunders outboxed and outclassed the hard-hitting Lemieux throughout 12 rounds, eliminating Lemieux’s biggest weapon: his knockout power. Lemieux landed less than 20 percent of his punches thrown. This fight, in front of a hometown crowd for Lemieux, was the last HBO boxing main event for 2017. After lackluster title defenses against Artur Akavov and Willie Monroe Jr., this was easily Saunders’ best performance as middleweight champion. With the win, Saunders now is in the driver’s seat to potentially fight the winner of the Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin rematch, likely to happen on May 5. Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren said the WBO champion will return to the ring next spring. One possible opponent for Saunders is former WBA “regular” champion Daniel Jacobs, who called out Saunders for a fight on the planned April 29 Barclays Center boxing card.

Gary O’Sullivan defeated Antoine Douglas via TKO, round 7: Competitive fight in the early going and O’Sullivan managed to win a couple of the early rounds, but O’Sullivan’s lack of defense only hurt him in the long run. O’Sullivan’s right hand kept landing on Douglas and it took a massive flurry of offense from O’Sullivan in the seventh round with Douglas on the ropes to force the referee to put a halt to the action. Douglas went to the hospital as a precaution while O’Sullivan, winner of five straight fights, puts himself in a position to have a big fight coming up. A fight against Saunders is unlikely, but a fight against Jacobs in April is possible should Jacobs’ calls for a fight against Saunders falls on deaf ears.

Yves Ulysse Jr. defeated Cletus Seldin via unanimous decision: With hindsight being 20-20, it was a terrible idea putting Seldin on an HBO card a month after already fighting on an earlier HBO card. There’s a reason only two other boxers have fought on HBO in consecutive months. Seldin, an undefeated junior welterweight prospect heading into this fight, had his career set back by a year or two with Ulysse dominating this fight. Seldin got knocked down in the first, second and third rounds and looked like a deer in headlights at times. It was a shame seeing Seldin in this shape because the matchmakers should have never rushed Seldin in this position.

December 15 (FS1):

Jessie Vargas defeated Aaron Herrera via unanimous decision: It’s been more than a year since we last saw Vargas lose his WBO welterweight title against Manny Pacquiao. Vargas was too much for Herrera and Vargas even dropped Herrera in the sixth round of their fight, which headlined a boxing card on FS1. Vargas said after the fight that he would like to fight unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman. That fight could actually happen with Thurman telling Fightful that he’s not fighting mandatory challenger Shawn Porter in his first fight back. That’s not to say Vargas is an easy fight for Thurman, but he doesn’t provide a bigger challenge than Porter, whom Thurman already had beaten in the past. Vargas did sign with Premier Boxing Champions not too long ago, which does strengthen the possibility of a Thurman vs. Vargas fight next spring.

December 15:

Alexander Povetkin defeated Christian Hammer via unanimous decision in a WBA heavyweight title eliminator: Povetkin, who spent the past year failing drug tests and squandering title opportunities, is back into contention with an impressive showing in Russia. Hammer looked overmatch in this fight and the only thing he had going for him was the fact that Povetkin got a point deducted from him for excessive holding in the seventh round. Povetkin is now the mandatory challenger to Anthony Joshua’s WBA “super” heavyweight title, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get to see Joshua vs. Povetkin any time soon. Joshua looks like he will face WBO champion Joseph Parker and fights against WBC champion Deontay Wilder and former unified heavyweight champion Tyson Fury appear to have higher priority than a fight against Povetkin.

Results From The World Of Boxing:

December 20: Municipal Gym, Guindulman, Bohol, Philippines

  • Ricky Sismundo defeated Jason Redondo via TKO
  • Antonio Siesmundo defeated Philip Parcon via KO
  • Jake Amparo defeated JanJan Santos via UD
  • Johnriel Castino defeated Rusty Padua via KO

December 20: Suamlum Night Bazaar, Ratchadaphisek, Bangkok, Thailand

  • TJ Doheny defeated Pipat Chaiporn via SD

December 19: Beijing Star Base, Beijing, China

  • Hui Sun defeated Tao Liu via UD
  • Zhe Wang defeated Junhui Zhao via SD
  • Xiaolu Mou defeated Zhengpeng Yang: TKO, Round 4
  • Qingjirumu defeated Qixiu Zhang via SD
  • Kai Huang defeated Erhao Zhang: TKO, Round 2
  • Feiyang Chen defeated Bo Zhang: TKO, Round 4
  • Zhanguo Sun defeated Xing Xie via SD
  • Longlong Wang defeated Rirong Ling via UD
  • Changyuan Yan defeated Chao Feng via UD
  • Hebin Wang defeated Tingchao Li via UD

December 19: Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan

  • Hiroki Okada defeated Jason Pagara to win the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Lightweight Title: TKO, Round 6

December 18: China Show, Beijing, China

  • Junlong Zhang defeated Victor Emilio Ramirez to retain the WBA Oceania Heavyweight Title: KO, Round 1

December 18: Talibon Cultural Center, Talibon, Bohol, Philippines

  • Robert Awitin defeated Rowel Garcia via KO
  • Roldan Sasan defeated Dave Maningkil via TKO
  • Anthony Galigao defeated Michael Padayag via TKO
  • Garry Rojo defeated Armando Yee via KO

December 17: Teatro Principe, Milan, Lombardia, Italy

  • Michele Esposito defeated Marco Di Giamberardino via PTS
  • Antonio Moscatiello defeated Nerdin Fejzovic: TKO, Round 6
  • Matteo Modugno defeated Jakov Gospic: TKO, Round 3
  • Edoardo Del Vecchio defeated Davide Cali via PTS
  • Andrea Sito defeated Budimir Jevtic: KO, Round 2
  • December 17: Kyuden Gym, Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Japan
  • Momo Koseki defeated Yuko Kuroki to retain the WBC World Female Minimumweight Title via UD

December 17: Sangyo Hall, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan

  • Hurricane Futa defeated Anan Thawinat: TKO, Round 4
  • Genesis Servania defeated Kittiwat Sirichotchayakun: KO, Round 1
  • Takashi Igarashi defeated Chirayu Nurot: KO, Round 3
  • Asami Jinnari and Wakako Fujiwara fight to a split draw: Vacant Japanese Female Featherweight Title Bout

December 17: Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan

  • Reiya Abe defeated Methawin Kemthong: TKO, Round 1

December 17: Robinson’s Mall Atrium, General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, Philippines

  • Genisis Libranza defeated Michael Enriquez via MD
  • Rene Mark Cuarto defeated Bonjun Loperez via UD
  • Orlie Silvestre defeated Ronie Tanallon: TKO, Round 1
  • John Mark Apolinario defeated Vincent Astrolabio via UD
  • Vince Paras defeated Aldren Moreno: KO, Round 7
  • Aries Buenavidez defeated Jetly Purisima: TKO, Round 7
  • Joel Lino defeated Marlou Sandoval: RTD, Round 4
  • Mervin Lulu defeated Paulo Perono: RTD, Round 2
  • Jayar Inson defeated Hagibis Quinones: KO, Round 2
  • Vincent Dayaganon defeated Jovanie Tagusi via SD
  • Matthew Arcillas defeated Dingdong Quinones: TKO, Round 1
  • Junnie Delgado defeated Jessie James Boyles: KO, Round 1
  • Lienard Sarcon defeated Jerry Tabago via UD
  • Ruben Davidas defeated Rogelio Boyles: TKO, Round 1
  • Raven Culintas defeated John Paul Ibones: KO, Round 1
  • Dave Barlas defeated Roger Salaton via UD

December 17: Gimnasio Metropolitano, Madrid, Comunidad de Madrid, Spain

  • John Dickson defeated Mamadou Goita via MD

December 17: Victoria Warehouse, Trafford Road, Manchester, Lancashire, United Kingdom

  • Andy Kremner defeated Duane Green via PTS
  • Ryan Doyle defeated Rafael Castillo via PTS
  • Kyle Lomotey defeated Darryl Sharp via PTS
  • Jack Kilgannon defeated Sean Gorman: RTD, Round 1

December 17: Stadium Suite, Banks's Stadium, Walsall, West Midlands, United Kingdom

  • Les Byfield defeated Andy Harrisvia via PTS
  • Alex Florence defeated Ibrar Riyaz via PTS
  • Rachel Ball defeated Claudia Ferenczi via PTS

December 17: Sport Hall "Lokomotiv" , Tashkent, Uzbekistan

  • Uktamjon Rahmonov defeated Suleyman Berdukaev: TKO, Round 2
  • Saykhan Bakaev defeated Farhod Bayranov: TKO, Round 4
  • Beksultan Raushanov defeated Akhmed Gayrbekov: TKO, Round 3
  • Burgut Hodjiboev defeated Visita Gairabekov: TKO, Round 3
  • Mukhammadsalim Sotvoldiev defeated Nozim Turaboev via UD
  • Orufjon Iboydullaev defeated Rustam Azimov via UD
  • Jasur Akhmadjanov defeated Mansur Abdumamatov: TKO, Round 2
  • Mukhammadali Abdurahmanov defeated Jasur Jamalov: TKO, Round 1
  • Anvar Turopov defeated Abdulaziz Matazimov: TKO, Round 2
  • Jokhongir Ergashev defeated Saidvali Abduvaliev: TKO, Round 1
  • Davron Kuronboev defeated Abrorkhuja Soliev: TKO, Round 2
  • Ulugbek Holov defeated Jamshid Mansuro via UD
  • Mukhitdin Rajapbaev defeated Alisher Habibullaev via UD
  • Jamoliddin Uktamov defeated Azizkhuja Juraboev: TKO, Round 4

December 16: Estadio F.A.B., Buenos Aires, Distrito Federal, Argentina

  • Tomas Andres Reynoso defeated Sebastian Horacio Papeschi: DQ, Round 5
  • Alberto Ezequiel Melian defeated Diego Ricardo Santillan: KO, Round 5
  • Sebastian Fundora defeated David Ezequiel Romero via UD
  • Felix Fernando Vargas defeated Julian Isaias Gomez via SD
  • Anyelen Loreley Espinosa defeated Maria Laura Cano via UD
  • Federico Adrian Rodriguez defeated Matias Raimundo Diaz via SD
  • December 16: Club Sud America, Miramar, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Jorge Martin Garcia defeated Guillermo de Jesus Paz via MD
  • Jonathan Ezequiel Aguirre defeated Cristian Munoz via MD

December 16: Polideportivo Municipal Presidente Néstor Kirchner, General Lamadrid, Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • Luis Javier Ahumada defeated Emanuel Jeremias Godoy via UD
  • December 16: Club Unión y Progreso, Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina
  • Francisco Javier Coronel defeated Alejandro Dominguez via UD

December 16: QT Gold Coast Hotel, Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia

  • Will Parsons defeated Aphichat Koedchatturat via UD
  • Josh Frederiksen defeated Aaron Sesay via UD
  • Brett Jeffery defeated James Porter via UD

December 16: Spiroudome Arena, Charleroi, Hainaut, Belgium

  • Ryad Merhy defeated Nick Kisner to retain the WBA Intercontinental Cruiserweight Title: KO, Round 4
  • Timur Nikarkhoev defeated Michal Ludwiczak: TKO, Round 7
  • Antoine Vanackere defeated Petar Peric: TKO, Round 2
  • Kamel Kouaouch defeated Mateusz Rybarski via UD
  • Herve Hubeaux defeated Srdan Govedarica via UD
  • Abrahan Nova defeated Milan Savic: TKO, Round 2
  • Gaetan Toma defeated Mislav Milardovic via UD
  • Pierino Paglierini defeated Predrag Cvetkovic via UD
  • Miko Khatchatryan defeated Pavlo Maistrenko: KO, Round 1
  • Junior Minsiensi Wabaga defeated Aleksandrs Sergjogins: KO, Round 1
  • December 16: Waremme, Liege, Belgium
  • Abdelkarim El Yaouti defeated Zelim Ismailov via MD

December 16: Ginásio Poliesportivo São Bartolomeu, Sao Sebastiao, Distrito Federal, Brazil

  • Gabriel Bonfim defeated Ademir de Jesus Machado to win the vacant Brazilian Super Welterweight Title: KO, Round 1
  • Luis Claudio Cardoso Da Silva defeated Lazaro Barbosa Bonfim to win the vacant Brazilian Featherweight Title via UD
  • Michel Da Silva defeated Reginaldo Martins Carvalho: KO, Round 1
  • Ismael Bonfim defeated Jose Cassio da Silva Macena: TKO, Round 3
  • Marcelo de Souza Cruz defeated Luciano Faria: KO, Round 1
  • Taynna Cardoso defeated Caroline Foro Antunes via UD

December 16: Place Bell, Laval, Quebec, Canada

  • Billy Joe Saunders defeated David Lemieux to retain the WBO World Middleweight Title via UD
  • Antoine Douglas defeated Gary O'Sullivan defeated Antoine Douglas to win the WBA-NABA Middleweight and vacant WBO Intercontinental Middleweight Title: KO, Round 7
  • Yves Ulysse Jr. defeated Cletus Seldin via UD
  • Custio Clayton defeated Cristian Rafael Coria to win the vacant WBO International Welterweight Title via UD
  • Batyrzhan Jukembayev defeated Wilberth Lopez via UD
  • Steven Butler defeated Lanardo Tyner: KO, Round 2
  • Ryan Garcia defeated Noe Martinez Raygoza: TKO, Round 8
  • Simon Kean defeated Mike Sheppard: TKO, Round 2
  • Mathieu Germain defeated Juan Garcia Mendez via UD
  • Nicola Adams defeated Soledad Macedo: TKO, Round 3
  • Vincent Thibault defeated Adrian Haro Campos via UD
  • Kim Clavel defeated Yoseline Martinez Jose via UD

December 16: Hershey Centre, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

  • Brandon Cook defeated Hector Carlos Santana to win the vacant International Boxing Association Intercontinental Super Welterweight Title: KO, Round 2
  • Franz Rill defeated Ricardo Humberto Ramirez: KO, Round 2
  • Mohammed Abedeen defeated Jose Aubel: KO, Round 5
  • Abokan Bokpe defeated Lyndon Chambers: TKO, Round 6
  • Winston Matthews defeated Gregory Miller via UD
  • Jay Corcoran defeated Jason Kelly via UD
  • Bradley Hamil defeated Eduardo Vitela: KO, Round 1

December 16: Casa del Deportista, Iquique, Chile

  • Ramon Mascarena defeated Erwin Adriazola to retain the Chilean Super Lightweight Title: TKO, Round 6
  • Cristian Olivares defeated Ruben Caceres: TKO, Round 2

December 16: Zhongshan Sports Arena, Zhongshan, China

  • Joe Noynay defeated Jin Xiang Pan to win the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver and WBO Asia Pacific Youth Super Featherweight Titles via TD
  • Ainiwaer Yilixiati defeated Tornike Gikashvili to win the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Super Middleweight Title: TKO, Round 2
  • Zulipikaer Maimaitiali defeated Pavel Semjonov to win the vacant WBA Asia Super middleweight title via UD
  • Que Xu defeated Julio de la Basez: KO, Round 2
  • Leshan Li defeated Waldo Sabu: TKO, Round 2
  • Bin Zhou defeated Xingqiang Hu via MD

December 16: Tj Lokomotiva, Plzen, Czech Republic

  • Pavel Sour defeated Vaclav Pejsar to win the vacant Czech Heavyweight Title via UD
  • Vladimir Reznicek defeated Drazan Janjanin via UD
  • Arthif Daniel defeated Patrik Filo: TKO, Round 2
  • Jan Kalas defeated Dominik Landgraf via UD

December 16: La Seine Musicale, Boulogne-Billancourt, Hauts-de-Seine, France

  • Nordine Oubaali defeated Mark Anthony Geraldo to retain the WBC Silver Bantamweight Title: KO, Round 7
  • Tony Yoka defeated Ali Baghouz: TKO, Round 2
  • Souleymane Cissokho defeated Jose Manuel Lopez Clavero: TKO, Round 7
  • Elie Konki defeated Mishiko Shubitidze: KO, Round 1
  • Kevin Bertogal defeated Dominique Soloy via UD
  • Willy Hutchinson defeated Cyril Joly: TKO, Round 2
  • Farrhad Saad and Johanny Bola fight to a draw on PTS

December 16: Gymnase du Port Marchand, Toulon, Var, France

  • Jose Gomez defeated Steve Martin to win the vacant WBC Mediterranean Super Welterweight Title: KO, Round 8
  • Matthias Noto defeated Hakim Abdesselam via PTS

December 16: Gymnase Royallieu, Compiègne, Oise, France

  • Marie Helene Meron defeated Ana Nikolic via PTS
  • Bernard Delarue defeated Vincent Galazzo via PTS

December 16: Salle Marie-José Pérec, Fourmies, Nord, France

  • Giorgi Kerdikoshvili defeated Francois Bastient via PTS
  • Gael Rigobert defeated Raphael Boquet: RTD, Round 4
  • Dylan Carlier defeated Andrei Nurchynski via PTS

December 16: Espace Jean Gilly, Le Pouzin, Ardèche, France

  • Khoren Alikahyan defeated Yves Mesny via PTS
  • Nicolas Salsi defeated Andrejs Tolstihs: TKO, Round 1
  • Jorick Luisetto defeated Andrei Sudas via PTS

December 16: Bourg-en-Bresse, Ain, France

  • Nizar Trimech defeated Konstantins Sakara: KO, Round 3

Fightful Boxing Rankings:

Pound-for-pound

  1. Vasyl Lomachenko
  2. Terence Crawford
  3. Gennady Golovkin
  4. Canelo Alvarez
  5. Mikey Garcia
  6. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
  7. Naoya Inoue
  8. Keith Thurman
  9. Guillermo Rigondeaux
  10. Sergey Kovalev

Heavyweight

  1. Anthony Joshua
  2. Deontay Wilder
  3. Joseph Parker
  4. Luis Ortiz
  5. Alexander Povetkin
  6. Kubrat Pulev
  7. Jarrell Miller
  8. Andy Ruiz Jr.
  9. Dillian Whyte
  10. Carlos Takam

Cruiserweight

  1. Oleksandr Usyk
  2. Murat Gassiev
  3. Krzysztof Glowacki
  4. Mairis Briedis
  5. Marco Huck
  6. Yunier Dorticos
  7. Firat Arslan
  8. Denis Lebediev
  9. Andrew Tabiti
  10. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk

Light heavyweight

  1. Sergey Kovalev
  2. Badou Jack
  3. Adonis Stevenson
  4. Oleksandr Gvozdyk
  5. Dmitry Bivol
  6. Sullivan Barrera
  7. Artur Beterbiev
  8. Eleider Alvarez
  9. Marcus Browne
  10. Joe Smith Jr.

Super middleweight

  1. Gilberto Ramirez
  2. George Groves
  3. Anthony Dirrell
  4. Andre Dirrell
  5. Chris Eubank Jr.
  6. David Benavidez
  7. Caleb Truax
  8. James DeGale
  9. Jose Uzcategui
  10. Tyron Zeuge

Middleweight

  1. Gennady Golovkin
  2. Canelo Alvarez
  3. Daniel Jacobs
  4. Billy Joe Saunders
  5. Jermall Charlo
  6. Ryota Murata
  7. Demetrius Andrade
  8. Andy Lee
  9. David Lemieux
  10. Sergiy Derevyanchenko

Light middleweight

  1. Erislandy Lara
  2. Jermell Charlo
  3. Jarrett Hurd
  4. Demetrius Andrade
  5. Julian Williams
  6. Austin Trout
  7. Sadam Ali
  8. Liam Smith
  9. Maciej Sulecky
  10. Kell Brook

Welterweight

  1. Keith Thurman
  2. Errol Spence Jr.
  3. Terence Crawford
  4. Danny Garcia
  5. Shawn Porter
  6. Jeff Horn
  7. Manny Pacquiao
  8. Lamont Peterson
  9. Jessie Vargas
  10. Lucas Matthysse

The rest of the rankings are in the next page.

Light welterweight

  1. Julius Indongo
  2. Viktor Postol
  3. Antonio Orozco
  4. Sergey Lipinets
  5. Terry Flanagan
  6. Eduard Troyanovski
  7. Regis Prograis
  8. Rances Barthelemy
  9. Kenichi Ogawa
  10. Tevin Farmer

Lightweight

  1. Jorge Linares
  2. Mikey Garcia
  3. Robert Easter Jr.
  4. Anthony Crolla
  5. Luke Campbell
  6. Dejan Zlaticanin
  7. Raymundo Beltran
  8. Denis Shafikov
  9. Ricky Burns
  10. Richard Commey

Junior lightweight

  1. Vasyl Lomachenko
  2. Miguel Berchelt
  3. Francisco Vargas
  4. Jezreel Corrales
  5. Alberto Machado
  6. Robinson Castellanos
  7. Miguel Roman
  8. Orlando Salido
  9. Jason Sosa
  10. Jhonny Gonzalez

Featherweight

  1. Leo Santa Cruz
  2. Gary Russell Jr.
  3. Abner Mares
  4. Lee Selby
  5. Oscar Valdez
  6. Carl Frampton
  7. Scott Quigg
  8. Jesus Cuellar
  9. Joseph Diaz
  10. Claudio Marrero

Light featherweight

  1. Guillermo Rigondeaux
  2. Jessie Magdaleno
  3. Nonito Donaire
  4. Moises Flores
  5. Rey Vargas
  6. Danny Roman
  7. Hugo Ruiz
  8. Marlon Tapales
  9. Julio Ceja
  10. Yukinori Oguni

Bantamweight

  1. Jamie McDonnell
  2. Luis Nery
  3. Ryan Burnett
  4. Juan Carlos Payano
  5. Shinsuke Yamanaka
  6. Zolani Tete
  7. Lee Haskins
  8. Zhanat Zhakiyanov
  9. Takoma Inoue
  10. Liborio Solis

Light bantamweight

  1. Naoya Inoue
  2. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
  3. Jerwin Ancajas
  4. Khalid Yafai
  5. Juan Francisco Estrada
  6. Carlos Cuadras
  7. Roman Gonzalez
  8. John Riel Casimero
  9. Rau'shee Warren
  10. Luis Concepcion

Flyweight

  1. Kazuto Ioka
  2. Donnie Nietes
  3. Daigo Higa
  4. Juan Carlos Reveco
  5. Kosei Tanaka
  6. Sho Kimura
  7. Moruti Mthalane
  8. McWilliams Arroyo
  9. Francisco Rodriguez Jr.
  10. Zou Shiming

Light flyweight/Strawweight

  1. Milan Melindo
  2. Knockout CP Freshmart
  3. Jose Argumedo
  4. Ken Shiro
  5. Wanheng Menayothin
  6. Ryoichi Taguchi
  7. Angel Acosta
  8. Tatsuya Fukuhara
  9. Hekkie Budler
  10. Pedro Guevara

News And Notes From Around The World Of Boxing

United Kingdom

1. A massive fight between British prospects Lawrence Okolie and Isaac Chamberlain has been confirmed. The fight will take place at the O2 Arena in London on February 3. Other fights confirmed for the February 2 card include Reece Belloti vs. Ben Jones for the Commonwealth (British Empire) featherweight title and Ted Cheeseman vs. Carson Jones. Light heavyweight prospect Joshua Buatsi is scheduled to fight on the undercard.

2. British middleweight champion Tommy Langford will defend his title against Jack Arnfield in Blackpool on February 10 after promoter Steve Wood won the purse bid. As for who the winner will have to face next, Mark Heffron and Liam Cameron have been ordered to fight in a final eliminator. That fight has been ordered to go through purse bids and the fight must take place by the end of April.

3. According to a recent news notice by the British Boxing Board of Control, Ted Cheeseman has withdrawn from a vacant British super welterweight title fight against James Metcalf. Joe Pigford has been ordered to fight Asinia Byfield in an official eliminator.

4. After starting his pro career with an impressive 6-0 record, Daniel Dubois had a chance to fight for the vacant English heavyweight title. The BBBofC revealed Dubois has withdrawn from a fight against Nick Webb for the title. Webb has now been ordered to fight WBC international Silver champion Nathan Gorman.

5. Ryan Walsh will defend his British featherweight title against Isaac Lowe on February 17 at the Manchester Arena. That fight will be a part of the undercard to the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight semifinal and WBA/IBO unification bout between George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr.

United States:

1. Promoters Lou DiBella, representing Richard Commey and Tom Brown, representing Alejandro Luna made a deal for the IBF lightweight title elimination bout that will produce the mandatory challenger for the world title held by Robert Easter Jr. They notified the IBF of the deal on December 19, meaning they won’t need to go to a purse bid next week. The bout likely will take place on February 10 on the undercard of the fight between IBF junior welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets and Mikey Garcia. Per the IBF’s order, the fight was supposed to take place by January 30 but the promoters have requested a brief extension to February 10, which is likely to be granted.

2. After losing to Tony Bellew and missing out on a cruiserweight world championship, BJ Flores is right now looking at some big names in the United Kingdom as potential opponents. Flores spoke to Michael Woods and said rising prospect Daniel Dubois and heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte are a couple of names he's interested in fighting in the future.

Mexico:

1. It appears that the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Nacho Beristain relationship has ended with Chavez's former trainer Joe Goossen telling Boxingscene.com that he is now training Chavez Jr. Goossen trained with the former world champion when Chavez Jr. was stopped by Andrzej Fonfara in nine rounds back in 2015.

2. Zanfer Promotions CEO Fernando Beltran is working diligently to have Manny Pacquiao have his next fight take place in Mexico. Nothing is confirmed and talks are preliminary at this point, but Beltran said he'll do everything in his power to make that possible. Pacquiao has fought some of the biggest names in Mexican boxing, including Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez, but none of those fights ever took place in Mexico.

Other Notes:

1. Since lightweight contender Felix Verdejo was taken out of the WBO's No. 1 spot at 135 pounds, it was a matter of time before the governing body would comment on the matter. WBO President Francisco Valcarcel said the following on Verdejo's lost mandatory challenger status: "Verdejo has to rebuild his career and return again. He was number one for a very long time and could have fought for the title, he never did it and now he has to rebuild his career," Valcarcel said.

2. Former WBO heavyweight title challenger Andy Ruiz will make his return to the ring on the ESPN boxing card in Corpus Christi, Texas on February 2, enlisting the services of well-known strength and conditioning coach Angel "Memo" Heredia. At this moment, no opponent has been decided for Ruiz. Ruiz suffered his first loss last December when he barely lost to Joseph Parker with the then-vacant WBO title on the line and hasn't fought since.

3. The vacant WBO junior welterweight world title fight ordered between Terry Flanagan who vacated his WBO lightweight title in October in order to move up in weight, and Maurice Hooker is close to being finalized, Roc Nation Sports promoter Dino Duva told ESPN earlier this week. Duva said he and Flanagan's promoter Frank Warren are finalizing terms for the fight to take place on April 14 in the United Kingdom.

4. Erik Skoglund has awoken from his medically induced coma after suffering a brain injury during training. Sauerland Promotions released a statement on their website.

"Erik Skoglund is awake and responsive having been brought out of his medically induced coma. With the swelling to his brain sufficiently reduced, doctors began the process of waking Erik last night and have so far been pleased with the results. He has shown a number of positive signs. He is now breathing on his own, with the help of a ventilator, and is responding to instructions. Although he remains in intensive care, the most critical and life threatening stages of his recovery are now behind him. Over the coming days, Erik will undergo a series of examinations, which will reveal what effect his injuries will have on his future. We would like to thank everyone for their continued messages of support, and ask that everyone continue to respect the privacy of Erik and his family during this time. Team Sauerland will provide a further update on Erik's condition when possible."

Title Fights Announced, What 2018 Already Has In Store:

The month of February 2018 continues to roll out world title fights and the WBC has announced another title fight taking place in a couple of months.

The governing body announced that its flyweight world champion Daigo Higa will defend his title against former WBC Youth World champion Moises Fuentes. The fight is scheduled to take place in Japan on February 4.

Fuentes snapped a two-fight losing streak when he knocked out Ulises Lara, avenging a majority decision loss to Lara from this past summer. When the announcement was made, Fuentes, a former minimumweight world champion, said he had hoped to get a world title shot after his last fight and will be ready to win another world title for his native of Mexico.

Higa, a former WBC Youth World champion in his own right, won the world title in May when he scored a TKO victory over Juan Hernandez Navarrete and defended the title by beating Thomas Masson back in October. Higa is only 22 years old, winning all 14 of his pro bouts by knockout. A specific venue, as well as the undercard, have yet to be announced.

Meanwhile, Luis Nery vs. Shinsuke Yamanaka looks to enter its next stage with Guillermo Brito, director of operations of Zanfer Promotions giving an update on contract negotiations.

Brito said the WBC bantamweight title rematch could indeed happen in March in Japan. Brito said negotiations for the fight have improved and progressed far more than previous negotiation attempts, which means a purse bid will most likely not be needed.

Nery and Yamanaka fought this past August when Nery captured WBC gold by stopping Yamanaka inside four rounds. Unfortunately for Nery, days after the fight, the WBC announced that the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency had detected the substance zilpaterol in Nery's drug test.

Zilpaterol is a substance similar to clenbuterol that could have been acquired by Nery by way of consuming contaminated meat as has happened in previous cases - such as Erik Morales and Francisco Vargas. In a ruling a few months ago, the WBC announced that not only is Nery still considered the world champion, but then he must fight Yamanaka in an immediate rematch. If and when the rematch takes place, the governing body would in fact have a more watchful eye on Nery to make sure Nery doesn't have similar diet issues as with the first fight.

Nery recently fought in November against Arthur Villanueva in a non-title bout while the WBC deliberated on their decision regarding the failed drug test. It's still jarring to this day how someone like Nery gets to keep the title after an incident like this and how the WBC, who preaches about cleaning the sport with the "Clean Boxing Program," would even allow this to happen, but I digress.

Below, here are the world title fights confirmed for the first two months of 2018:

  • January 6: Cesar Juarez vs. Isaac Dogboe, Vacant Interim WBO Junior Featherweight Title Bout
  • January 12: Claressa Shields (c) vs. Tori Nelson, Unified IBF/WBC Female Super Middleweight Title Bout
  • January 20: Errol Spence Jr. (c) vs. Lamont Peterson: IBF Welterweight Title Bout
  • January 20: Robert Easter Jr. (c) vs. Javier Fortuna: IBF Lightweight Title Bout
  • January 27: Lucas Matthysse vs. Tewa Kiram: Vacant WBA “Regular” Welterweight Title Bout
  • January 27: Jorge Linares (c) vs. Mercito Gesta: WBA Lightweight Title Bout
  • January 27: Jennifer Han (c) vs. Lizbeth Crespo: IBF Female Featherweight Title Bout
  • January 27: Oleksandr Usyk (c) vs. Mairis Briedis (c): WBO/WBC Cruiserweight Unification Title Bout, World Boxing Super Series Cruiserweight Semifinals
  • February 3: Gilberto Ramirez (c) vs. Habib Ahmed: WBO Super Middleweight Title Bout
  • February 3: Jerwin Ancajas (c) vs. Israel Gonzalez: IBF Junior Bantamweight Title Bout
  • February 3: Murat Gassiev (c) vs. Yunier Dorticos (c): IBF/WBA Cruiserweight Unification Title Bout, World Boxing Super Series Cruiserweight Semifinals
  • February 4: Daigo Higa (c) vs. Moises Fuentes: WBC Flyweight Title Bout
  • February 10: Sergey Lipinets (c) vs. Mikey Garcia: IBF Junior Welterweight Title Bout
  • February 10: Rances Barthelemy vs. Kiryl Relikh: Vacant WBA Junior Welterweight Title Bout
  • February 10: Zolani Tete (c) vs. Omar Narvaez: WBO Bantamweight Title Bout
  • February 16: Raymundo Beltran vs. Paulus Moses: WBO Lightweight Title Bout
  • February 17: George Groves (c) vs. Chris Eubank Jr.: WBA “Super” Super Middleweight Title Bout, World Boxing Super Series Super Middleweight Semifinals
  • February 24: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (c) vs. Juan Francisco Estrada: WBC Junior Bantamweight Title Bout
  • February 28: Danny Roman (c) vs. Ryo Matsumoto: WBA “Regular” Junior Featherweight Title Bout
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