News And Notes From Around The World Of Boxing (1/4)

This excerpt came from this week's edition of the Fightful Boxing Newsletter, which releases every week:

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News And Notes From The World Of Boxing

WBA:

1. Continuing its quest to cut down on the number of world champions per weight class, the WBA issued a statement further reinforcing the governing body's mission. Since they announced in 2016 that they would cut down on the ludicrously high number of titleholders (42 world champions on January 2016), the organization has ended 2017 with 24 world champions in boxing's 17 divisions. Some divisions, such as the featherweight division, plans to have "super" champion Leo Santa Cruz and "regular" Abner Mares fight in 2018 and other divisions could soon get rid of their interim titleholders, but from the looks of it, getting the WBA to have just one world champion per weight class probably won't happen in 2018 and it's doubtful at this point that it would happen in 2019.

2. The organization posted an article on their website recapping their annual convention.

WBC: The governing body has updated the statuses of all their world titles and any potential upcoming mandatory defenses:

  • Heavyweight (Champion: Deontay Wilder): Wilder made his mandatory defense in a rematch against Bermane Stiverne on November 4 and knocked him out in the first round. Wilder is now eligible to make a voluntary defense, likely against Luis Ortiz at the Barclays Center on March 4. In regards to a potential fight against unified champion Anthony Joshua, the WBC said it supports such a fight. Joshua and Wilder seem to be headed for a clash with all four main world titles on the line in the second half of 2018.
  • Cruiserweight (Champion: Mairis Briedis): Breidis will face Oleksandr Usyk in a unification bout in the World Boxing Super Series semifinals on January 27. The WBC said it will evaluate the status of a mandatory challenger for the WBC title once the tournament ends.
  • Light heavyweight (Champion: Adonis Stevenson): Stevenson will defend his title against former WBA champion Badou Jack on a date and at a site to be determined. Mandatory challenger Eleider Alvarez has been ordered to face Oleksandr Gvozdyk for the interim WBC belt and the winners will then be ordered to face each other in their next bout.
  • Super middleweight (Champion: David Benavidez): Benavidez is scheduled to defend his belt in a rematch with Ronald Gavril on February 17 at the Showtime card headlined by Danny Garcia vs. Brandon Rios. Benavidez barely defeated Gavril via decision to win the vacant belt on September 8.
  • Middleweight (Champion: Gennady Golovkin): WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman announced at the WBC convention that Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez must engage in a rematch, which is likely to happen on May 5. With the Golovkin vs. Canelo rematch nearly finalized, the WBC ordered mandatory challenger Jermall Charlo to face Hugo Centeno for the vacant interim belt.
  • Junior middleweight (Champion: Jermell Charlo): Charlo has made consecutive mandatory defenses against Charles Hatley and Erickson Lubin and is now free to make an optional defense. A final elimination bout to determine the next mandatory challenger has been ordered between Vanes Martirosyan and Maciej Sulecki.
  • Welterweight (Champion: Keith Thurman): Thurman, who has been sidelined since last March due to right elbow surgery, is supposed to return for an optional defense in April, rumored to be against Jessie Vargas. Former champion Shawn Porter, who lost to Thurman in June 2016, is the mandatory challenger. The Danny Garcia vs.Brandon Rios fight, which was recently announced as a Showtime headliner on February 17, has been upgraded to a final elimination bout to produce the mandatory challenger following Porter's eventual title opportunity.
  • Junior welterweight (Title Vacant): With Terence Crawford vacating the title in order to move up in weight, Amir Imam and Jose Ramirez will meet for the vacant belt on March 17 on ESPN. Regis Prograis and Viktor Postol are negotiating a bout for the vacant interim title. The winners of those of two fights will be ordered to fight.
  • Lightweight (Champion: Mikey Garcia/Diamond Champion: Jorge Linares): Garcia, who owns the full world title, has received special permission from the WBC to fight for the IBF junior welterweight title in February, when he faces Sergey Lipinets. The WBC would like for Garcia to return to lightweight following that bout and next face Linares if Linares retains his WBA world title against Mercito Gesta on January 27 in the first HBO card of the year.
  • Junior lightweight (Champion: Miguel Berchelt): Berchelt will defend his title against Cristian Mijares on February 10 in Cancun, Mexico. If Berchelt wins, he will be obligated to make a mandatory defense, but the opponent has yet to be decided. The WBC said it is in the process of voting on a request to appoint Miguel Roman as the mandatory challenger after Roman defeated Orlando Salido on December 9.
  • Featherweight (Champion: Gary Russell Jr.): 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.
  • Junior featherweight (Champion: Rey Vargas): Rey Vargas, who handily beat Oscar Negrete on the Miguel Cotto vs. Sadam Ali undercard, is allowed to make a voluntary defense and then will be ordered to make a mandatory defense.
  • Bantamweight (Champion: Luis Nery):Nery is due to face Shinsuke Yamanaka in March in a mandatory rematch as a result of a failed drug test Nery had before their first fight. Nery still keeps the title but will now fight Yamanaka, presumably, on an even playing field.
  • Junior bantamweight (Champion: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai): After retaining his title against Roman Gonzalez, Sor Rungvisai will make his mandatory title defense against former unified champion Juan Francisco Estrada in the main event of the "Superfly 2" card on HBO on February 24.
  • Flyweight (Champion: Daigo Higa): Higa is scheduled to defend his title against Moises Fuentes on February 4 in Naha, Japan. It is still uncertain if a unification fight with fellow countryman and WBO champion Sho Kimura will be in play in 2018 if Higa retains his title.
  • Junior flyweight (Champion: Ken Shiro): Shiro retained his title by knocking out Gilberto Pedroza in the fourth round in the co-main event of the December 30 card in Japan. With the win, Shiro must fight mandatory challenger and former champion Ganigan Lopez in a rematch from their first fight in May, rendering a unification bout with WBA/IBF champion Ryoichi Taguchi virtually impossible for the first half of 2018.
  • Strawweight (Champion: Wanheng Menayothin): Menayothin will have a chance at making history when he is due to next face mandatory challenger Leroy Estrada. Should Menayothin defeat Estrada, his pro record improves to 50-0, tying Floyd Mayweather's record which achieved 50-0 status when he beat Conor McGregor on August 26.

IBF:

1. In light of the controversial finish of the Kenichi Ogawa vs. Tevin Farmer fight on HBO on December 9, in which Ogawa won the IBF super featherweight title via a highly dubious decision, promoter Lou DiBella told BoxingScene.com that he hopes the IBF will grant Farmer an immediate rematch. The IBF has not commented on whether or not a rematch will be granted but it is entirely at play and it could happen in the spring should the rematch is ordered.

2. Back in December, the IBF have branched out to extending their titles to Muay Thai and crowned their first ever IBF Muay Thai lightweight and junior lightweight champions in Thailand. Saeksan Or Kwanmuang captured the lightweight title and Petchuthong Or Kwanmuang won the junior lightweight title. In an effort to further grow IBF's presence in Muay Thai, the organization established IBF Muay Thai under its umbrella and appointed Suwat Liptapanlog, former MP of Thailand, as Honorary President. Liptapanlog has a proven track record of growing the sport of boxing in Thailand and will be in charge of growing the IBF Muay Thai brand.

WBO:

1. Oscar Valdez had been scheduled to defend his WBO featherweight title on ESPN on March 10 for some time but has not had an opponent named for him. It appears that Valdez could be defending the title against former super bantamweight champion Scott Quigg. The fight will headline the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN at the StubHub Center in California.

2. Craig Evans' trainer Tony Borg revealed Evans will fight Roman Andreev on February in a WBO lightweight title eliminator. The winner of the Evans vs. Andreev fight will then fight the winner of the Raymundo Beltran vs. Paulus Moses fight for the WBO lightweight title, which is currently vacant due to former champion Terry Flanagan electing to vacate the title and move up in weight to challenge for the WBO junior welterweight title, which is also vacant.

United Kingdom:

1. Light welterweight prospect Ohara Davies has been pulled from the February 3 card at the O2 Arena in London after Davies published a series of tweets in an attempt to goad Tommy Coyle to fight him. The tweets in question were about Davies supporting British tabloid newspaper The Sun, which has been considered controversial due to Coyle's longtime criticisms of the newspaper's coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy. The Hillsborough tragedy was a human crush at Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield, England on April 15, 1989, during the 1989 FA Cup semifinal game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. The Sun was one of a few newspapers that received near-universal backlash for their insensitive reporting regarding the matter and its aftermath years later. The Sun is a sensitive topic around the area and the tweets have been called an act of very poor taste and inappropriate by many boxers. Sims Sport Management, who manages Davies, has suspended the boxer effective immediately.

2. Former African welterweight champion Larry Ekundayo, who is now based in London, is the latest name to be added to MTK Global’s ‘High Stakes’ event at the Brentwood Centre in Essex on March 3, which will be streamed live on iFL TV. Ekundayo is coming off a loss to Gary Corcoran, who unsuccessfully challenged for Jeff Horn's WBO welterweight title.

3. Queensbury Promotions fighters Archie Sharp, Umar Sadiq, Ryan Garner, Mohammed Bilal Ali, Hamzah Sheeraz, and Boy Jones Jr. have all been to the Zolani Tete vs. Omar Narvaez taking place on Febraury 10 at the Copper Box Arena in London. Also on that card are Anthony Yarde, Daniel Dubois and Bradley Skeete, who are primed for a big 2018 that could see at least one of them get to point to challenge for a world title in 2019.

United States:

1. WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and his pregnant girlfriend, Shuntel “Telli” Swift, are a part of the new reality series, “WAGS Atlanta.” The show, which premiered on E! on January 3, will focus on the lives of several active and retired professional athletes and their wives or girlfriends.

2. Former five-time world champion Vinny Paz has been released after turning himself one day after an arrest warrant was issued for a felony assault charge in Rhode Island. Paz is known for his comeback story after a car crash, which was showcased in the 2016 film "Bleed for This." He is accused of biting a man, knocking out his teeth and sending him to the hospital. Witnesses told police that Paz accused the man of stealing $16,000.

3. The Jose Uzcategui vs. Andre Dirrell rematch will likely take place on March 3 on the Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz undercard at Barclays Center. Uzcategui has stated the fight would take place on January 26, but the fight hasn't been signed yet.

Mexico:

1. Former world champion Antonio Margarito could make his return to the ring on May 5. According to Alexei Titov, the director of the promotional company RCC Boxing Promotion, unbeaten Magomed Kurbanov is scheduled to return to the ring on May 5 in Yekaterinburg, Russia and that negotiations are in place to potentially land Margarito as Kurbanov's opponent.

2. Oscar Valdez and Jessie Magdaleno, two of Top Rank's world champions, are on pace to move their training camps to Guadalajara, Jalisco, and must report on January 7 to begin serious training for their respective commitments, according to their mutual manager Frank Espinoza of California. According to the Espinoza, the area in Guadalajara has ideal facilities for the fighters to make a solid camp.

Japan:

1. Toshiyuki Igarashi, who unsuccessfully challenged Sho Kimura for the WBO flyweight title on the December 31 card in Tokyo has announced his retirement, confirming it in a press conference after the fight. After the fight, Igarashi's blog was updated saying thanks to those who have supported him over his long career. It was then stated that Igarashi had considered retirement a number of times, mainly due to the injuries that he has suffered in recent years. Igarashi, who is 33 years old, has been fighting professionally since 2006 and is a former WBC flyweight world champion.

2. In a reversal of things we have seen from Japanese boxers throughout 2017, a Japanese star is coming OUT of retirement. Three-division world champion Koki Kameda announced he would be returning to the sport after more than two years away from the pro ring. Kameda said he wanted to see what fights are available and wanted to see where he could get good fights. Kameda did not say what fights he would take, who will it be against or even at what weight he would be competing at. We should know more about Kameda's future in the coming weeks, however.

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