When a television network showcases its numerous boxing matches they have coming up, it usually comes as isolated events, focusing more on the fights themselves and not on the network brand. That's usually a good thing, but when a network lends its name and tries its absolute hardest to present itself as a true boxing network with many fights being showcased at the same time, it only makes the fights appear more special. Showtime did just that with its Boxing Upfront show, a UFC-style presser where dozens of top boxers are in one place and the network announced its boxing schedule for the first six months of 2018.
The show was a hit with many big fights being done as well as featuring the return dates of various top stars such as Keith Thurman, Gervonta Davis and Errol Spence Jr. Other fights, such Leo Santa Cruz vs. Abner Mares 2 and Adonis Stevenson vs. Badou Jack were given dates and cities where the fight would take place, giving fans plenty of time to get excited and prep up for the various big fights. After a successful 2017, it was prudent for Showtime to keep the momentum strong while rival HBO does not have as busy a schedule for the first half of 2018 as Showtime and that only helps Showtime's credibility with fans in the long run.
Speaking of Showtime, the network returned to the Barclays Center on January 20 to see its newest star, IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. defend his title against Lamont Peterson. Spence dominated the fight, retaining his title by TKO at the start of the eighth round. The show was a massive success on all fronts giving the network the first real big show of 2018 and just like last year, Showtime's ongoing relationship with the Barclays Center only reminds fans of New York City's growing presence in the American boxing market.
All this more are covered on this week's edition of the Fightful Boxing Newsletter
Fightful Boxing Newsletter (1/26) Table Of Contents:
- Showtime Boxing Upfront (Page 2)
- WBSS, HBO Boxing Weekend Quick Preview (Page 3)
- Errol Spence vs. Lamont Peterson Review (Page 4)
- Results From The World Of Boxing (Page 5)
- Fightful Boxing Rankings (Pages 6-7)
- News And Notes From Around The World Of Boxing (Page 8)
Showtime Boxing Upfront:
Showtime held a special press conference in New York City called the Boxing Upfront, announcing the network's Championship Boxing schedule for the first six months of 2018, presented in a UFC-style presser where many of the key players, including boxers and Showtime executives.
In that same presser it was announced that Stephen Espinoza, the face of Showtime's boxing venture, has been promoted to President of Sports and Event Programming for Showtime. Names such as Danny Garcia, Deontay WIilder, Mikey Garcia, Errol Spence Jr., Adrien Broner, Jermell Charlo, Keith Thurman and many more attended the presser to see when they would fight next. Below is the full six month schedule for Showtime Championship Boxing, subject to change as always:
February 17 at Las Vegas: Danny Garcia vs. Brandon Rios: WBC Welterweight Final Eliminator
March 3 at Brooklyn: Deontay Wilder (c) vs. Luis Ortiz: WBC Heavyweight Title Fight
March 10 at San Antonio: Mikey Garcia vs. Sergey Lipinets (c): IBF Super Lightweight Title Fight
April 7 at TBA: Erislandy Lara (c)vs. Jarrett Hurd (c): WBA/IBF Super Welterweight Unification Title Fight
April 21 at Brooklyn: Adrien Broner vs. Omar Figueroa: WBC Super Lightweight Title Eliminator
May 19 at Brooklyn: Keith Thurman (c) vs. TBD: WBC/WBA Welterweight Title Fight
May 19 at Canada: Adonis Stevenson (c) vs. Badou Jack: WBC Light Heavyweight Title Fight
June 9 at Los Angeles: Leo Santa Cruz (c) vs. Abner Mares (c) II: WBA Featherweight Unification
June 16 at Dallas: Errol Spence Jr. (c) vs. TBA: IBF Welterweight Title Fight
Now it should be mentioned that this may not be the final schedule, given how the March 31 Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker bout for the unified WBA/IBF/IBO/WBO heavyweight titles in Cardiff, Wales wasn't in the schedule. Showtime is very much interested in airing the fight live on Showtime, as it has done for the past several Joshua fights. Showtime would be the only available option for Joshua as there is a possibility that CBS, the parent company who owns Showtime and has aired boxing fights last year, could be busy on that day with the NCAA's men's college basketball tournament. The tournament's 2018 schedule has been announced all the way through the Elite Eight portion, which ends on March 25, with the national semifinals and finals yet to be given a date. If we are to follow last year's schedule, then the national semifinals would in fact land on March 31, giving Showtime the open timeslot to air the fight live on the network at its expected 6 p.m. EST time.
Looking at the fights that have been announced, it clearly shows that Showtime is set to have an even bigger year in boxing than they had in 2017, which is amazing considering how much of an improvement Showtime’s boxing viewership from 2016 to 2017 was. This presser was also Showtime’s way of throwing down the gauntlet at longtime network rival HBO, who still does not have a fully announced scheduled for the first half of 2018. All HBO has is the January 27 Boxing After Dark doubleheader, the “Superfly 2” show in February, the March 3 Madison Square Garden card, the likely April 28 Barclays Center card and May 5 Canelo vs. GGG rematch on pay-per-view. That schedule is not nearly enough to beat Showtime in terms of the average boxing fan’s mindset on who has the stronger network.
As far as seeing what fights are the most noteworthy, each date has its own intrigue. Perhaps the wild card date for Showtime is the April 21 Barclays Center card with Adrien Broner vs. Omar Figueroa. On the surface, it seems like an odd main event for a coveted Barclays Center event, which is the hottest ticket in boxing in the United States. It should be noted that Gervonta Davis is scheduled to fight in the co-main event, but it doesn’t list an opponent, meaning that there is the possibility of Davis making the jump to lightweight after failing to make weight in what was supposed to be his second IBF super featherweight title defense. On the surface, a New York main event with Figueroa spells disappointment, but Broner is enough of a name that fans will come and watch. Broner is perhaps one of the least liked boxers today (evidenced by the massive amount of boos he received when Showtime showed his face at the big screen at the Barclays Center last week) and is very much a classic pro wrestling heel people pay to watch him lose. Even against relatively small names in insignificant matches such as the fight he had against Adrian Granados last February proved to be a hit with Showtime viewers.
Perhaps the biggest name to not have a fight scheduled on the boxing upfront is WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. Russell does not have a fight date, the WBC said Russell Jr. will defend his belt in February though no date, location or opponent has been announced, much less even rumored. Once Russell has that fight done with, he'll be forced to make a mandatory defense against Joseph Diaz Jr. Unfortunately, from the looks of things, Russell will not make a title defense in February as nothing about that fight has been official. It seems that Russell will just simply wait until Diaz is free to fight and the two appear to be headed for a summer bout. That fight could still be on Showtime, but there’s too many unknowns at this time.
Overall, this was a strong move by Showtime in its effort to make itself known as the dominant American boxing television network now that HBO viewership is declining and ESPN is making a serious return to boxing thanks to its relationship with Top Rank Boxing and Golden Boy Promotions. If 2017 has shown anything, it is that 2018 will be a great year for Showtime and by extension, the sport of boxing itself.
WBSS, HBO Boxing Weekend Quick Preview:
With Showtime kicking the new year with a strong Barclays Center card, the boxing world’s attention now turns to the World Boxing Super Series, which starts its cruiserweight semifinals, and HBO, which will have its first Boxing After Dark series with a world title doubleheader. Both of those fights will take place on January 27 and all three fights have varying degrees of importance. Below is a preview on all three world title fights:
Oleksandr Usyk (c) vs. Mairis Briedis (c) : WBO/WBC cruiserweight unification bout:
The first of the four total World Boxing Super Series semifinals between the two tournaments, this fight has perhaps the best boxer in Oleksandr Usyk. This fight is the first of several big unification fights 2018 has in store.
Usyk is generally regarded as the best cruiserweight in the world, but the tournament has opened up the possibility of several fighters potentially beating Usyk. This only makes the WBSS’ cruiserweight tournament more intriguing as now fans are tuning in to see who the true top cruiserweight is. After a somewhat disappointing decision win over Michael Hunter in April 2017, Usyk looked strong in dismantling Marco Huck in the WBSS quarterfinals.
Briedis is perhaps one of the least known of the four cruiserweights remaining in the tournament, but possess the same, devastating power Usyk is known for. While fans are more interested in the other semifinal matchup (Yunier Dorticos vs. Murat Gassiev), this fight is just as interesting with Briedis being Usyk’s toughest opponent to date.
Lucas Matthysse vs. Tewa Kiram: WBA “regular” welterweight title bout:
This fight is HBO’s first main event of 2018, which is kind of strange considering the co-main event has the biggest name on the entire card. Regardless, this fight came as a result of Golden Boy Promotions wanting Matthysse to have a WBA “regular” welterweight title fight. The title was vacant as “super” champion Keith Thurman is recovering from elbow surgery. Matthysse last fought on pay-per-view, getting a strong TKO win over Emmanuel Taylor in 2017.
Kiram, on the other hand, is undefeated, but is practically unknown outside of Thailand as he has never fought outside of the country. The intrigue about this fight comes from the unknown Kiram getting the biggest fight of his career and first true test. Matthysse winning the title is somewhat expected. He’s looked great last year, but the long layoff could play a role in how good Matthysse will look in the fight. Regardless of how Matthysse looks, Kiram winning would be a huge upset and would legitimize Kiram’s undefeated record.
Jorge Linares (c) vs. Mercito Gesta: WBA lightweight title bout:
Another mismatch on paper, this appears to be somewhat of a tuneup fight for Linares as Linares is mentally getting ready for a massive superfight against WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia. After wars against Anthony Crolla and Luke Campbell, Linares will try to avoid a letdown after failing to secure a fight with Garcia.
Gesta is a former world title challenger, losing to Miguel Vazquez in an IBF title bout in 2012. Since then, Gesta has been unbeaten, but the level of competition is nowhere near Linares’ skill level. Gesta recently turned 30 and hasn't won a truly major fight in his career as of this point. With a loss, Gesta might not see a lightweight world title fight for a very long time as the division is extremely stacked with big names.
Errol Spence Jr. vs. Lamont Peterson Review:
For the second year in a row, Showtime opened the year at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, only this time, it was headlined by Errol Spence Jr.’s first welterweight title defense against veteran Lamont Peterson.
When comparing the two Barclays shows in January 2017 and 2018, it’s hard to say that the 2018 was not a bigger success. That’s not to say the 2017 show failed. After all, a main event of Badou Jack vs. James DeGale, two unknown names in the United States, shouldn’t have drawn more than 10,000 fans in attendance but it did. The 2018 show beat the 2017 show in terms of attendance and viewership. Spence vs. Peterson had an attendance number of 12,107 while the 2017 show got 10,128 viewership numbers for the 2018 show nearly peaked at 700,000 viewers despite heavy competition from both Bellator, with a Chael Sonnen vs. Quenton Jackson main event, and from UFC, who had a pay-per-view with Stipe Miocic vs. Francis N’Gannou as the main event.
What was also different on this year’s show was the finish of the main event. Instead of a controversial draw that left everyone at the Barclays Center dissatisfied in 2017, Spence dominated Peterson in impressive fashion, creating more fans for Spence as Spence continued to look to secure a fight with unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman.
There were plans to have women's boxing champion Amanda Serrano fight on the card, but she withdrew from the fight after electing to go forward with an MMA career. Prospects Adam Kownacki and Marcus Browne were the top two fights on a Showtime online stream of the undercard and the two of them did look good. Browne looked phenomenal in beating a then once-beaten Francy Ntetu in just one round.
Adam Kownacki (16-0) defeated Iago Kiladze (26-1) via TKO, Round 6: Heavyweight Bout: Scrappy fight, but it was very sloppy at times. Kownacki's nose was broken in the first round of the fight and he looked gassed after two rounds, breathing with his mouth and not with his nose. Kownacki did scored numerous strong combinations to Kiladze and Kiladze soon got tired as well. Kiladze would keep his hands down throughout the fight and payed for it when he got knocked down in the fourth round. It seemed like the fight could end in that round, but it continued with Kownacki punishing Kiladze throughout the fight. Kownacki scored another knockdown in the sixth round with a strong left hand, but Kiladze barely got back up. Kiladze was in no condition to continue and the referee stopped the fight right there. Good win by Kownacki, but has a lot to improve on, mainly his condition, the ability to clinch well and effectively and managing to control the anxiety when fighting under the bright lights and a strong television audience.
Marcus Browne (20-0) defeated Francy Ntetu (17-1) via TKO, Round 1: Light Heavyweight Bout: Browne got off to a monster start, knocking down Ntetu with a left hook with Ntetu on the ropes. Ntetu got back up, but Browne was going at it at 100 miles per hour. Browne was landing every type of punch imaginable as Ntetu was cornered and the referee had to stop the fight. Browne looked great and he's almost on the precipice of getting a truly big fight sometime in 2018.
Robert Easter Jr. (20-0) defeated Javier Fortuna (33-1-1) via split decision (114-113, 113-114, 115-112): Lightweight Bout: This fight was originally for the IBF lightweight title, but Fortuna was more than a pound overweight so he could no longer win the title. There was some confusion as to whether or not Easter’s title would be on the line. Initially, it seemed like the fight would just be a non-title fight, but ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. said in the pre-fight introductions that it would indeed be a title fight, likely meaning that Easter would lose the title if he lost and it would remain vacant. Easter scraped by the skin of his teeth with a split decision win. Controversy arose early in the fight when Fortuna hit a low blow in the second round, causing Fortuna to lose a point on a round he otherwise would have won. The fight was very competitive with both men trading rounds until the end when Fortuna clearly won the last three rounds. It wasn’t enough for Fortuna to pick up the win in the judges’ scorecards, despite the Barclays Center strongly believing that Fortuna deserved the win. Easter wants to fight Mikey Garcia next but it’s doubtful that will happen next. Fortuna challenged Easter to a rematch, which got a lot of cheers, but Easter seemed to have shot it down, calling Fortuna unprofessional for not making weight, which is a fair point.
Errol Spence Jr. (c) defeated Lamont Peterson via TKO, Round 8 to retain the IBF Welterweight Championship: Not much to say on this fight that hasn’t already been said. Spence came out of the fight like a man on a mission looking to score a quick knockout over Peterson. Spence’s uppercut constantly split Peterson’s defense and the former champion’s face started to swell early and often. Spence finally got a knockdown in the fifth round, and it seemed to spell the end for Peterson. The referee called a stop to the contest at the start of the eighth round which was a smart decision. Peterson showed a lot of hear and determination in the fight, but there was no way he would beat Spence and that showed early on in the fight. Hard to say whether or not this is the end of the road in Peterson’s career as it’s clear he’s not going to beat any of the world champions at 147 pounds aside from maybe Jeff Horn, but a Horn vs. Peterson fight for the WBO title isn’t happening any time soon and probably ever. Spence’s next fight will likely be against Carlos Ocampo on June 16 in Dallas, Texas.
Results From The World Of Boxing:
January 20: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York, USA
- Errol Spence Jr. defeated Lamont Peterson to retain the IBF World Welterweight Title
- Robert Easter Jr. defeated Javier Fortuna
- Marcus Browne defeated Francy Ntetu
- Adam Kownacki defeated Iago Kiladze
- Anthony Peterson defeated Luis Eduardo Florez
- Ivan Golub defeated Fidel Monterrosa Munoz
- Keyshawn Williams and Denis Okoth fight to a draw
- Dylan Price defeated Nestor Ramos
- Mathew Gonzalez defeated Alexander Serna
January 20: Arabia Shrine Center, Houston, Texas, USA
- Jerrico Walton defeated Donald Ward
- Raphael Igbokwe defeated Tyrone Selders
- Jamal Woods defeated Johnnie White
- O'Shaquie Foster defeated Kaylyn Alfred
- Brian Norman Jr. defeated Kire Lucas
- Christian Montano defeated Keith Collins
- Gabriel Smith defeated Matt Murphy
- Dominique Griffin defeated Christopher White
- D'Angelo Keyes defeated Edward Aceves
January 20: West Virginia State Penitentiary, Moundsville, West Virginia, USA
- Shianne Gist defeated Natalie King
- Travis Clark defeated Matt Garretson
- Oleg Dovhun defeated Elliott Brown
- Andrew Satterfield defeated Timothy Eric Dunn
January 20: Salle Couverte de Hay el Matar, El Aaiún, Western Sahara
- Bilel Jkitou defeated Rasheed Abolaji to win the vacant African Boxing Union Middleweight Title
January 19: Olimpico Football Club, Villa Gobernador Galvez, Santa Fe, Argentina
- Diego Alberto Ruiz defeated Albert Gonzalez
- Juan Ezequiel Basualdo and Elio Heraldo Trosch fight to a draw
- Cristina Beatriz Cuevas defeated Roxana Beatriz Laborde
- Agustin Mauro Gauto defeated Rodrigo Espindola
- Ezequiel Nicolas Albarenga defeated Hector Gabriel Perez
January 19: Gimnasio Club "Heriberto Rojas", Iquique, Chile
- Marcial Carrion defeated Danny Jimenez
January 19: Maida Energy Sports Center, Jinan, China
- Youli Dong defeated Qiuguang Xiao
- Yujie Zeng defeated Tianci He
- Qiang Ma defeated Ayibole Mulatihan
- Zengge Yue defeated Tuerxunbieke Ehelasi
- He Lu defeated Yu Zhang
- Yong Peng defeated Zhong Ma
- Weichien Sung defeated Mengjiang Hai
- Aketelieti Yeliejian defeated Shuo Yang
- Shuhao He defeated Lai Wang
- Hongquan Liu defeated Yongxin Zhu
January 19: Palazzetto dello Sport, Nepi, Lazio, Italy
- Giovanni De Carolis defeated Bojan Radovic
- Luca Angeletti defeated Milovan Dragojevic
January 19: Gimnasio Municipal, Cananea, Sonora, Mexico
- Saul Corral defeated Marcos Villarreal
- Agustin Cicero defeated Walberto Gaxiola
- Marcos Cardenas defeated Jorge Isidro Lares
- Luis Gonzalez defeated Mario Garcia
- Ernesto Guerrero defeated Arcadio Sanchez
- Oomar Maybe defeated Angel Ramirez
- Antonio Vasquez defeated Alberto Solorzano
January 19: Pathum Thani, Thailand
- Edison Berwela defeated Thiranan Matsali to win the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Bantamweight Title
- Nawaphon Kaikanha defeated Akkarachat Konsue
- Nattawut Saisopa defeated Pornsawan Prajuabchok
- Siridech Deebook defeated Tanawat Ketsiri
January 19: California Education & Preforming Arts Center, Ontario, California, USA
- Daniel Constantino defeated Antonio Santa Cruz
- Jorge Perez defeated Leonardo Reyes
- Flavio Rodriguez adn Richard Hargraves fight to a draw
- Oscar Acevedo defeated Eric Rodriguez
- Ivan Pandzi defeated Markus Jones
- John Leo Dato defeated Michael Andrew Gaxiola
- Jerry Perez defeated Giovannie Gonzalez
Fightful Boxing Rankings
- Terence Crawford
- Vasyl Lomachenko
- Gennady Golovkin
- Canelo Alvarez
- Mikey Garcia
- Naoya Inoue
- Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
- Errol Spence Jr.
- Ryoichi Taguchi
- Sergey Kovalev
- Anthony Joshua
- Deontay Wilder
- Joseph Parker
- Luis Ortiz
- Alexander Povetkin
- Kubrat Pulev
- Jarrell Miller
- Andy Ruiz Jr.
- Dillian Whyte
- Carlos Takam
- Oleksandr Usyk
- Murat Gassiev
- Krzysztof Glowacki
- Mairis Briedis
- Marco Huck
- Yunier Dorticos
- Firat Arslan
- Denis Lebediev
- Andrew Tabiti
- Krzysztof Wlodarczyk
- Sergey Kovalev
- Badou Jack
- Adonis Stevenson
- Oleksandr Gvozdyk
- Dmitry Bivol
- Sullivan Barrera
- Artur Beterbiev
- Eleider Alvarez
- Marcus Browne
- Joe Smith Jr.
- Gilberto Ramirez
- George Groves
- Anthony Dirrell
- Andre Dirrell
- Chris Eubank Jr.
- David Benavidez
- Caleb Truax
- James DeGale
- Jose Uzcategui
- Tyron Zeuge
- Gennady Golovkin
- Canelo Alvarez
- Daniel Jacobs
- Billy Joe Saunders
- Jermall Charlo
- Ryota Murata
- Demetrius Andrade
- Andy Lee
- David Lemieux
- Sergiy Derevyanchenko
- Erislandy Lara
- Jermell Charlo
- Jarrett Hurd
- Demetrius Andrade
- Julian Williams
- Austin Trout
- Sadam Ali
- Liam Smith
- Maciej Sulecky
- Kell Brook
- Errol Spence Jr.
- Keith Thurman
- Terence Crawford
- Danny Garcia
- Shawn Porter
- Jeff Horn
- Manny Pacquiao
- Lamont Peterson
- Jessie Vargas
- Lucas Matthysse
The rest of the rankings are in the next page.
- Julius Indongo
- Viktor Postol
- Antonio Orozco
- Sergey Lipinets
- Terry Flanagan
- Eduard Troyanovski
- Isaac Dogboe
- Regis Prograis
- Rances Barthelemy
- Kenichi Ogawa
- Mikey Garcia
- Jorge Linares
- Robert Easter Jr.
- Anthony Crolla
- Luke Campbell
- Dejan Zlaticanin
- Raymundo Beltran
- Denis Shafikov
- Ricky Burns
- Javier Fortuna
- Vasyl Lomachenko
- Miguel Berchelt
- Francisco Vargas
- Jezreel Corrales
- Alberto Machado
- Robinson Castellanos
- Miguel Roman
- Orlando Salido
- Jason Sosa
- Jhonny Gonzalez
- Leo Santa Cruz
- Gary Russell Jr.
- Abner Mares
- Lee Selby
- Oscar Valdez
- Carl Frampton
- Scott Quigg
- Jesus Cuellar
- Joseph Diaz
- Claudio Marrero
- Guillermo Rigondeaux
- Jessie Magdaleno
- Nonito Donaire
- Moises Flores
- Rey Vargas
- Danny Roman
- Hugo Ruiz
- Marlon Tapales
- Julio Ceja
- Yukinori Oguni
- Jamie McDonnell
- Luis Nery
- Ryan Burnett
- Juan Carlos Payano
- Shinsuke Yamanaka
- Zolani Tete
- Lee Haskins
- Zhanat Zhakiyanov
- Takoma Inoue
- Liborio Solis
- Naoya Inoue
- Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
- Jerwin Ancajas
- Khalid Yafai
- Juan Francisco Estrada
- Carlos Cuadras
- Roman Gonzalez
- John Riel Casimero
- Rau'shee Warren
- Luis Concepcion
- Kazuto Ioka
- Donnie Nietes
- Daigo Higa
- Juan Carlos Reveco
- Kosei Tanaka
- Sho Kimura
- Moruti Mthalane
- McWilliams Arroyo
- Francisco Rodriguez Jr.
- Zou Shiming
- Ryoichi Taguchi
- Ken Shiro
- Wanheng Menayothin
- Hiroto Kyoguchi
- Knockout CP Freshmart
- Milan Melindo
- Angel Acosta
- Tatsuya Fukuhara
- Hekkie Budler
- Jose Argumedo
News And Notes From Around The World Of Boxing:
1. OPBF super featherweight champion Carlo Magali will challenge for the WBC title, currently held by Miguel Berchelt. The fight will take place on February 10 in Cancun, Mexico, but the notable thing of this announcement is that Magali was not Berchelt’s original opponent. Berchelt was supposed to fight Cristian Mijares, but Mijares walked away from the fight with only weeks remaining.
2. Japan’s Terumi Nuki will travel to Argentina to challenge for the IBF Female super flyweight title held by Dehora Anahi Dionicius. The fight will take place on February 17 and it will be Nuki’s second attempt at a world title after losing to WBC Female bantamweight champion Mariana Juarez. Dionicius has held the IBF title since late 2012 and has defended the title 10 times.
3. Watanabe Gym’s top two boxers, unified IBF and WBA light flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi and IBF minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi, held a brief press conference announcing their plans in 2018 alongside Hitoshi Watanabe. For Taguchi, he plans to return to the ring in May, possibly against IBF mandatory challenger Hekkie Budler. Taguchi also said he hopes to get his 10th WBA title defense at some point this year. I would reckon that the 10th title defense will likely take place at the annual New Year’s Eve show with the ninth title defense taking place sometime in the late summer or early fall.
4. As for Kyoguchi, the plan for him is to keep racking up title defenses with the goal of unifying world titles. His next fight figures to be against an unnamed opponent on the same card that Taguchi will be competing at. There’s a good chance that Kyoguchi would try and unify titles with WBO champion Ruya Yamanaka sometime later in the year. Should Kyoguchi remain the champion through the end of the year, then Kyoguchi’s third fight could also come on the New Year’s Eve supercard, likely against the winner of the Mark Anthony Barriga vs. Jose Argumedo IBF title eliminator.
5. Former WBO light flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka will compete on the March 31 card in Tanaka’s hometown of Nagoya, Japan. He’ll fight Ronnie Baldonado in a fight set to bring him back up to speed and test Tanaka’s condition since he left his last fight against Rangsan Chayanram left Tanaka’s eyes in horrible shape. One would figure that Tanaka will try and challenge for the WBO flyweight title with a win over Baldonado. The fight will likely be aired on CBC and TBS in Japan.
6. Legendary Thailand boxer Chartchai Chionoi )passed away on January 21 at the Nopparat Rajathanee Hospital. He was 75 years old.
The Bangkok-born icon debuted in 1959 and later became the second ever Thai world champion back in 1966, when he stopped Walter McGowan in a bloody and fierce contest for the WBC Flyweight title for his first world title reign.
He would defend the belt 3 times, beating McGowan a second time, Efren Torres and Bernabe Villacampo, before losing the belt in 1969 to Efren Torres in their second bout. The following year Chionoi became a 2-time champion as he took the win in a rubber match with Torres.
Sadly the Thai's second reign was a show one, losing in his first defense to Erbito Salavarria. That could have been the end but not for Chionoi who would turn his attention to the WBA title.
In his first bout for the WBA belt, he lost to Japanese sensation Masao Oba, but would claim the title months later, stopping Fritz Chervet for the title which had become vacant when Oba had his fatal automobile accident.
Chionoi's third and final reign saw the Thai score two defenses, as he defeated Susumu Hanagata and Chervet, in a second meeting between the two men, before failing to make weight for a rematch with Hanagata. The rematch with the Japanese speedster saw Hanagata force a 6th round stoppage over the drained Thai, who would fight only twice more before retiring in 1975.
After boxing, Chionoi's health would go on to fail and he would suffer with Parkinson's disease and the results of it. In recent years his health had faltered more and more and he had been suffering from various health problems, including lung issues which would ultimately be the cause of his death on January 21st.
Although not part of the IBHOF Chionoi has been a Thai boxing legend and was inducted into the WBC Hall of Fame back in 1993. He is often considered among the top 20 or so Flyweight's of all time and was in numerous bloody, exciting and action packed bouts that helped make him such a key figure in both the Flyweight division and the boxing scene at large. He finished his career with a 61-18-3, 36 KO record.
7. WBA “regular” middleweight champion Ryota Murata will make his first defense on April 15 against 38-year-old Italian veteran Emanuele Felice. The fight will take place at the Yokohama Arena with Fuji TV set to broadcast the fight. It’s a historic fight of sorts as Murata could become the first Japanese man in history to successfully defend a middleweight world title. Although not fully official, the Fuji TV broadcast will also see WBC light flyweight champion Ken Shiro defend his title against Ganigan Lopez. Shinji Takehara was actually the first Japanese man to win a middleweight world title when he won the WBA title in 1995 at Korakuen Hall, but he then lost the title in his first defense to William Joppy in 1996, which also took place at the Yokohama Arena.
8. Earlier in January, former world champion Koki Kameda announced he would unretire. During this past week, Kameda said he intends to make his comeback fight on, or around, May 7 with Abema TV having the broadcasting rights. The details of the overall show are scarce but it sounds as if the show could feature the return of Tomoki Kameda and possibly also Kyonosuke Kameda as well as Joe Blog. Kameda seems unwilling to be drawn on one opponent, but it appears he was willing to talk about a fight with former WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono, who beat Kameda in October 2015, in Kameda's last bout. A Kameda vs. Kono bout, in Japan, would do huge figures and could well be the easiest bout to make, though Kameda having the other unnamed opponent in mind means he may have an ace up his sleeve.
9. According to Julius Julianis, former Japanese minumweight champion Reiya Konishi and Carlos Canizales will fight for the vacant WBA “regular” minimumweight title on March 18 in Kobe, with the winner of the fight being the WBA’s mandatory challenger to Ryoichi Taguchi’s title. The Kobe card will also see Ryuya Yamanaka defend his WBO minimumweight title against Moises Calleros.
1. Cruiserweights Ryan Merhy and reigning WBA Intercontinental champion Arsen Goulamirian will fight for the vacant interim WBA title on March 29 at the Palais des Sports in Marseille, France. The fight is promoted by Univent headed by Sebastien Acaries. Yunier Dorticos holds the WBA "super" championship and is competing in the WBSS, which will run all the way through May. In the co-feature, Michel Soro and John Vera will meet with the WBA interim super welterweight title at stake.
2. WBC female super featherweight champion Eva Wahlstrom defends the title on March 9 in Espoo, Finland, against Melissa St Vil. Light heavyweight Niklas Rasanen and middleweight Henri Kekilainen are featured on the undercard. The show is promoted by the newly created Team F4L - Fighters For Life - where Wahlstrom and Rasanen are among the co-owners along with matchmaker Petri Paimander.
3. Frank Warren announced that the February 10 card at the Copper Box Arena has been canceled. The card was originally supposed to be headlined by Zolani Tete's WBO bantamweight title defense, but he was injured during training and the fight was postponed. Originally, the card was supposed to move forward, but highly-talented heavyweight prospect Daniel Dubois also missed training for a whole week due to illness and Bradley Skeete was unable to find a notable opponent for the card. With all three of those names not appearing on the February 10 card, it made no business sense to move forward with the show and thus the card was then canceled earlier this week.
4. WBA super middleweight "regular" champ Tyron Zeuge is now back in full training and will defend the title sometime in March in either Potsdam or Hamburg against Isaac Ekpo, according to BILD. Zeuge-Ekpo 2 was first set for December 2 but was postponed when Zeuge had to pull out due to illness. Zeuge, trained by World Boxing Super Series semi-finalist Juergen Braehmer, last fought in in June of last year when he beat Paul Smith.
1. Zab Judah will not only make his return to the ring, but also fight professionally in Canada for the first time in his career. Judah will face Mexican veteran Noel Mejia Rincon and the fight will headline a pay-per-view event taking place at the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino in Calgary, Canada.This will be Judah's second fight since losing a twelve round decision to Paulie Malignaggi in December 2013. Judah had also lost a twelve round decision earlier that same year to Danny Garcia.