Fightful Boxing Newsletter (11/15): PBC On FOX 2019 Schedule, Floyd Mayweather/Rizin, Usyk vs. Bellew

Fightful Boxing Newsletter (11/15) Table Of Contents

  1. PBC/FOX 2019 Schedule (Page 1)
  2. Floyd Mayweather/Rizin (Page 2)
  3. Oleksandr Usyk vs. Tony Bellew (Page 3)
  4. Maurice Hooker vs. Alex Saucedo Preview (Page 4)
  5. Matchroom Boxing USA-DAZN Preview (Page 5)
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PBC/FOX 2019 Schedule:

Weeks after Premier Boxing Champions and the FOX network signed a multi-year broadcast deal that would give the network a stronger television presence in the American boxing market starting this December, the two parties organized a special event in Los Angeles to unveil the full 2019 schedule.

A number of big stars on PBC’s roster were present, including three welterweight champion (Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter) and lightweight world champion Mikey Garcia.

A total of 22 fight cards were announced and, barring any changes, here is the PBC schedule on FOX and FOX Sports 1 for 2019.

  1. Sunday, January 13, 2019 at Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live in Los Angeles, FS1: Jose Uzcategui vs. Caleb Plant: IBF super middleweight title
  2. Saturday, January 26, 2019 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, FOX: Keith Thurman vs. Josesito Lopez: WBA “super” welterweight title/Adam Kownacki vs. Gerald Washington
  3. Saturday, February 16, 2019 in Los Angeles, FOX: Leo Santa Cruz vs. Miguel Flores: WBA “super” featherweight title/Omar Figueroa Jr. vs. John Molina Jr.
  4. Saturday, February 23, 2019 at The Armory in Minneapolis, FS1: Anthony Dirrell vs. Avni Yildirim: Vacant WBC super middleweight title
  5. Saturday, March 9, 2019 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, FOX: Shawn Porter vs. Yordenis Ugas: WBC welterweight title
  6. Saturday, March 16, 2019 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, FOX PPV: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia: IBF welterweight title
  7. Sunday, March 24, 2019 at the MGM National Harbor in Owen Hill, FS1: Lamont Peterson vs. Sergey Lipinets
  8. Saturday, April 13, 2019 at The Armory in Minneapolis, FS1: Caleb Truax vs. Peter Quillin
  9. Saturday, April 20, 2019, FOX: Danny Garcia vs. Adrian Granados
  10. Saturday, May 11, 2019, FOX
  11. Saturday, May 25, 2019, FS1
  12. Saturday, June 1, 2019, FS1
  13. Sunday, June 23, 2019, FOX
  14. Saturday, July 13, 2019, FS1
  15. Saturday, July 20, 2019, FOX
  16. Saturday, August 3, 2019, FOX
  17. Saturday, August 24, 2019, FS1
  18. Sunday, September 1, 2019, FOX
  19. Saturday, September 21, 2019, FS1
  20. Saturday, November 9, 2019, FS1
  21. Saturday, December 14, 2019, FOX
  22. Saturday, December 21, 2019, FS1

The lineup does provide some interesting matchups, such as the one between Garcia and Granados as well as Dirrell vs. Yildirim and Uzcategui vs. Plant. By and large, however, the fights that were announced on November 13 were very uninspiring and disappointing for a multitude of reasons.

The main reason that most people immediately pointed at was the lack of big welterweight fights, despite PBC having the majority of the division’s top stars. Although it is an incredibly painful pill to swallow for fans, the long-term goal for the welterweight division is to have the highly-anticipated fights at the end of the year or in 2020.

For each of those welterweight champions that were present in Los Angeles, an argument can be made for the fights being what they are. Whether or not you accept those arguments is entirely up to the individual.

In Thurman’s case, it would be very foolish to believe the WBA “super” welterweight champion will step into the ring immediately against the likes of Porter and Spence. For about a year, he has been telling the media that his first fight back from elbow surgery would be against relatively weak opposition in order to shake off the ring rust. And even if Thurman wanted to fight the top stars at 147 pounds immediately, some may not want to fight him on the basis that a victory over Thurman nearly two years removed from the sport will be a valid victory to put under their resume, as Porter told me back in August when I entertained the idea of a possible unification fight against him should Porter win the WBC title, which he eventually did.

Speaking of Porter, for weeks he has been saying that he will have to take care of mandatory challengers first before accepting any of the big fights. Although it is true that the WBC has technically an abundance of mandatory challengers, the governing body wasn’t in any hurry to enforce those fights if Porter got a big-enough fight, such as against Spence. Regardless, Porter will take care of an immediate mandatory challenge which will only help make those big fights easier down the road.

As for Spence, well, the announcement of his pay-per-view fight against Mikey Garcia should not come as a surprise at all. After all, Garcia had been clamoring for a fight against Spence immediately after beating Robert Easter Jr. in Los Angeles back in July. Spence was always dead set on facing off against Mikey even after that impromptu face-off with Porter back in September. If anything, FOX’s long-term hope is to have the winner of Spence-Mikey fight either Porter or Thurman in a superfight at 147 pounds. While that future fight could land on pay-per-view, it’s possible that this could land on FOX, as it would likely fetch a massive rating for a boxing telecast if one were to go off of the viewership for Thurman’s 2017 win against Danny Garcia, which aired on CBS at a point in the year when there was no baseball, football and the NBA playoffs not starting yet.

Even taking the lack of any compelling welterweight title fights in the first few months of 2019 out of the criticism being pointed towards PBC, the second-biggest question mark is Leo Santa Cruz. For months, Showtime and PBC have been teasing a unification fight between him and WBC champion Gary Russell Jr. The two would interact with one another on telecasts and even when one appeared by himself on television, the key point in those interviews is a fight with the other champion.

The WBC even created a bogus Diamond title (originally reserved for “special” fights, but now are handing them off to several fights throughout the various divisions) for Santa Cruz’s rematch against Abner Mares earlier this year. Santa Cruz won the fight and the WBC Diamond title, which meant the WBC technically had the authority to order Santa Cruz and Russell to fight each other. In fact, the WBC did just that at the recent WBC Convention, but for some reason, the fight never materialized.

Given how Russell really only fights about once a year now, if he does not fight Santa Cruz next in 2019, we would then have to wait until 2020 at the earliest for that fight to happen, if it were to ever happen. Not only that, PBC provided a massive mismatch on paper in favor of Santa Cruz. To illustrate how much of a mismatch this fight is on paper, Santa Cruz is ranked as the No. 1 featherweight on Boxrec’s rankings while Flores is ranked No. 136. Even in the WBC rankings, Flores is ranked No. 15, the lowest possible spot for a fighter and still be eligible to challenge for a world title outright.

There’s also a number of notable PBC fighters that were absent from the event: WBA “super” super featherweight champion Gervonta Davis, two-division champion Badou Jack, former WBA junior middleweight champion Erislandy Lara, and Russell among others. If one were to guess, it’s very likely that most, if not all of those boxers will find themselves fighting on Showtime, which still has a broadcast deal with PBC and the network is looking to continue building on the strong momentum generated from the past two years.

While most will criticize PBC and FOX for uninteresting matchups for 2019 thus far, there is one aspect of the schedule being announced that not many are talking about at all and that is the start time for these telecasts. Aside from the February 23 and April 13 broadcasts, all FOX and FS1 televised cards will start at 8 p.m. ET, which is incredible news. In an era where boxing viewers are used to watching boxing cards start from 9-11 p.m. ET, starting at 8 p.m. ET is an idea that should be universally praised. Even with a two-hour undercard, the main event starting at 10 p.m. ET will help retain a good chunk of the viewership who started watching and only provide better ratings.

From the looks of it, FOX may have learned from its time broadcast UFC cards and that having main events start close to midnight ET is never a smart idea, especially when you’re trying to get the biggest possible primetime audience. Putting all of this, plus the added advertisement from FOX, will pretty much guarantee that it will have the biggest ratings in the U.S. on a far more consistent basis.

FOX is clearly testing the waters with this initial lineup to see what their base audience numbers are going to be and depending on those early ratings, we may or may not see the network push for the welterweight and featherweight unifications, as well as other big, attractive fights, sooner rather or later.

One thing is for certain. Boxing has returned to network television and if PBC plays their cards right this time around, it could help re-popularize boxing in front of a new, national audience.

Floyd Mayweather/Rizin:

It appears Floyd Mayweather Jr. isn’t fighting Tenshin Nasukawa after all.

Just days after a Rizin press conference announced that Mayweather would fight the undefeated kickboxing star at Rizin 14, Mayweather make an Instagram post saying that this is not exactly the case. In that post, Mayweather would go on to claim that he never agreed to a fight with Nasukawa at the upcoming Rizin show, scheduled to take place on December 31 in Saitama, Japan.

Mayweather said he was originally told that he would fight a three-round exhibition fight against someone chosen by Rizin. Mayweather added that this exhibition would not have been shown on a official card, but more so in front of a select few "wealthy spectators" and that the undefeated boxer would be paid a "very large fee." The full Instagram post can be seen below.

Now that I am back on U.S. soil after a long and disappointing trip to Tokyo, I now have the time to address you, my fans and the media in regards to the upcoming event on December 31st that was recently announced. First and foremost, I want it to be clear that I, Floyd Mayweather, never agreed to an official bout with Tenshin Nasukawa. In fact (with all due respect) I have never heard of him until this recent trip to Japan. Ultimately, I was asked to participate in a 9 minute exhibition of 3 rounds with an opponent selected by the "Rizen Fighting Federation". What I was originally informed of by Brent Johnson of "One Entertainment" was that this was to be an exhibition put on for a small group of wealthy spectators for a very large fee. This exhibition was previously arranged as a "Special Bout" purely for entertainment purposes with no intentions of being represented as an official fight card nor televised worldwide. Once I arrived to the press conference, my team and I were completely derailed by the new direction this event was going and we should have put a stop to it immediately. I want to sincerely apologize to my fans for the very misleading information that was announced during this press conference and I can assure you that I too was completely blindsided by the arrangements that were being made without my consent nor approval. For the sake of the several fans and attendees that flew in from all parts of the world to attend this past press conference, I was hesitant to create a huge disturbance by combating what was being said and for that I am truly sorry. I am a retired boxer that earns an unprecedented amount of money, globally, for appearances, speaking engagements and occasional small exhibitions.

A post shared by Floyd Mayweather (@floydmayweather) on

It should be noted that Mayweather has deleted all other Instagram posts regarding his association with Rizin, including a picture of him wearing fighting gloves with the Rizin logo on it. Mayweather has not fought since defeating Conor McGregor in a boxing fight on August 2017. At the time of the Rizin announcement, details of the fight were scarce outside of the supposed opponent. The specific combat sport and ruleset was not revealed, neither were other important details, such as what kind of gloves they would wear and what weight would the fight be contested at.

Many in the boxing community never really believed Mayweather would be taking this fight in all seriousness and so when the news hit that he is not fight Nasukawa, the sport at-large was not surprised. It's also worth noting that Fightful's own "Showdown" Joe Ferraro, who does English play-by-play commentary for Rizin events, also never believed Mayweather vs. Nasukawa was going to happen at the end of the day.

At the time of this writing, Rizin is still advertising the fight to take place at the December 31 show, tweeting the following promo.

The news also comes after weeks of speculation regarding an in-ring return since Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao met in Tokyo in September and hint at a possible rematch. Floyd would end the Instagram post by saying that he is a retired boxer.

As far as what is next for Rizin, the company did issue a statement in Japanese (translated by MMASucka.com), apologizing for the confusion. Strangely enough, Rizin said it will still pursue a fight involving Mayweather at the New Year's Eve show.

“At a press conference held on November 5, 2018, we at RIZIN announced that the RIZIN 14 fight card at the Saitama Super Arena on December 31, 2018, would be headlined by Floyd Mayweather vs. Tenshin Nasukawa. However, shortly after this announcement, Mr. Mayweather himself made an announcement through social media. This message seemed to be insisting that the match had been canceled, and we sincerely apologize for this confusion. RIZIN Chairman, Nobuyuki Sakakibara, is currently holding discussions towards carrying out the match based on the original contract between our promotion and Mr. Mayweather. This based on the basic agreement we initially did have with Mr. Mayweather. We hope to have a clearer announcement next week. In truth, we would like to make a clearer announcement now. Unfortunately, as of writing, we are not in the position to report our current negotiating situation to you all. Thus, this statement will concern out ongoing developments. Sadly, we are afraid to inform you all that we will be needing more time. Again, we sincerely apologize for the confusion and concern this has been causing.”

Oleksandr Usyk vs. Tony Bellew:

Oleksandr Usyk's first test as boxing's undisputed cruiserweight champion ended in success.

In the main event of a boxing card in Manchester, Usyk delivered a devastating left hook to knock out Tony Bellew in the eighth round. Usyk retained his undisputed WBA, WBO, WBC and IBF cruiserweight titles on a fight streamed in the United States on DAZN.

Usyk didn't have a lot of success landing serious punches in the early going, giving way for Bellew to work on the inside. At one point in the second round, Bellew connected with a stiff right hand that pushed Usyk back and had Bellew get fired up and verbally taunt the champion. Bellew ended the round with another right hand and the Manchester Arena was on its feet when the round ended.

As the fight would go on, Usyk would start finding his range and was able to better land his jab. Usyk's best round in the first few frames was the fourth when he managed to break through Bellew's defenses and started connecting with the left hook and the jab. In the eighth round, Usyk started with a barrage of punches that trapped Bellew in the corner. Midway through the around, Usyk effortlessly and repeatedly landed the left hook and eventually knocked out Bellew to retain the titles.

At the time of the stoppage, Bellew was actually up on two of the three official scorecards. While judge Yury Koptsev had the fight even at 67-67, judges Steve Gray and Alejandro Lopez had Bellew winning with scores of 67-66 and 68-65, respectively.

The win would put a bow on Usyk's 2018, which ended being about as successful as one could ever expect. Usyk defeated Mairis Briedis to unify the WBC and WBO titles back in February and then beat Murat Gassiev to win the World Boxing Super Series and become the undisputed champion. Now that he has retained his titles, Usyk will now work towards an eventual showdown with unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.

As for what's next for Bellew, the former world champion was asked if he will hang his gloves in the ring and answered that this is the end for him. If it is indeed the end for Bellew, it would be the end of a career that saw the British fighter reached the top of the mountain and become a world champion back in 2016.

Going back to Usyk and a potential move up to heavyweight, according to Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn who spoke to Sky Sports, Anthony Joshua is "intrigued" with a potential fight. Hearn stated that Joshua respects Usyk as a fighter and believes that fight is certainly doable.

“I think he’s intrigued by Usyk. I think he would like to fight Usyk, I think he would like to fight everybody who he views as a top-level fighter... That could end up being a huge, huge fight, but I think Usyk in the post-fight interview was very sensible, and said this division is not a joke,” Hearn said.

Usyk has been interested in a potential fight against Joshua, even going as far as signing a co-promotional deal with Hearn. There is the possibility of Usyk fighting Joshua in 2019 as Joshua is scheduled to have a title defense in Wembley Stadium in April 2019, but any talks of Joshua vs. Usyk being the main event are extremely premature at this point. More than anything, Usyk would likely test the heavyweight waters for a couple of fights before moving forward with a battle against Joshua, according to Hearn.

Joshua isn't the only British heavyweight star that has Usyk on his mind as top contender Dillian Whyte also stated he would be interested in a fight against the undefeated cruiserweight.

Maurice Hooker vs. Alex Saucedo Preview:

Football fans may be familiar with the "Red River Rivalry" between Texas and Oklahoma in college football, one of the biggest rivalries in the sport. Boxing fans will get something similar when ESPN airs a world title fight on November 16.

In a special Top Rank card that will air on midnight ET on November 16, Oklahoma native Alex Saucedo will challenge for the WBO junior welterweight title held by Texas native Maurice Hooker.

The rivalry between the two has been brewing for a number of weeks with both men calling each other out in the media, including when Hooker spoke to Fightful. Hooker told Fightful that Saucedo is a fighter that has a weak defensive strategy, something that Saucedo took offense to. Both men were once sparring partners, but have since then turned bitter opponents looking to smash each other's face and walk out of Oklahoma City as the world champion

The bout is also a unique styles clash between the skillful Hooker and the aggressive, yet exciting Saucedo. Hooker became the world champion earlier this year when he traveled to England to fight Terry Flanagan for the vacant belt previously held by Terence Crawford. Hooker emerged as the winner with a split decision victory, winning his first world title.

As for Saucedo, he is coming off one of the most exciting and wildly entertaining fights of the summer against Leonardo Zappavigna. Saucedo won the fight to become the mandatory challenger to Hooker's title and won himself some new fans after the Zappavigna fight, which will end up being a "Fight of the Year" candidate as well as have a potential "Round of the Year" candidate when it is all said and done. Saucedo will likely come forward and pressure Hooker with several power punches throughout the fight so the key here will be how Hooker responds to Saucedo's power and if Hooker is able to counter punch well enough to get the win in the scorecards.

The fight will be aired on ESPN at midnight ET on November 16, a rare late start time for the title fight. With the fight airing on a Friday as well as airing at that hour, it's hard to imagine the fight producing big ratings.

Tale of the Tape:

Maurice Hooker:

Record: 24-0-3 (16 KO)

Age: 29

Titles Won: WBO Junior Welterweight World Title

Notable Fights: Terry Flanagan, Darleys Perez

Alex Saucedo:

Record: 28-0 (18 KO)

Age: 24

Height: 5'10"

Reach: 72"

Titles Won: WBO International Junior Welterweight, WBA-NABA USA Junior Welterweight Titles

Notable Fights: Leonardo Zappavigna

Matchroom Boxing USA-DAZN Preview:

Matchroom Boxing is heading to Kansas for another boxing card streamed exclusively on DAZN.

In the main event, Jarrell Miller continues his march down the heavyweight ranks as he faces off against undefeated fighter Bogdan Dinu.

It is essentially another stay-busy fight for Miller, who is on the precipice of fighting for a world title, but for a number of reasons, he is not getting such a title shot. For starters, with champions Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua looking elsewhere for fights, Miller won't be able to get a whiff of any of those major world titles until late 2019 at the earliest.

Miller was originally supposed to fight Fres Oquendo for the WBA "regular" heavyweight title, which many would have presumed to be vacant in the advent of Manuel Charr, the current champion, failing a drug test. Not only is Charr still the secondary world champion, but the fight between Miller and Oquendo fell through making way for Dinu to take the fight.

Dinu is pretty much a complete unknown in the United States, having fought primarily in Romania and in Canada. Dinu currently does not own any notable wins on his resume, but with his last eight fights ending inside the distance, he should provide a better challenge for Miller compared to when Miller fought Tomasz Adamek back in Chicago.

There is only one title fight on the card, which is a women's middleweight title fight and potential unification between WBA and IBF middleweight champion Claressa Shields and contender Hannah Rankin. The fight will not only be for the WBA and IBF titles, but also for the vacant WBC title.

Shields has been one of the sport's premier female fighters for years. Shields is the only boxer in U.S. history to win two Olympic gold medals and started her pro career on the fast track to title contendership. Shields would end up winning two world titles as a super middleweight, but after just five pro fights, Shields went down in weight in an effort to become boxing's next undisputed champion.

After winning the WBA and IBF middleweight titles in her last fight, she was supposed to fight fellow world champion Christina Hammer to crown the second undisputed women's champion in boxing today. The fight fell through after Hammer was not medically cleared to compete and so the biggest 160-pound women's boxing match in recent memory was put off until at least 2019. From there, the WBC title became available and so Rankin, another top fighter with limited pro experience will get her shot at a world title.

Rankin, a British-born fighter, is looking to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the year. Rankin will need to perform a lot better in this fight compared to her last fight, which saw her get soundly beaten in the scorecards when she fought Alicia Napoleon for the WBA super middleweight title back in August. Rankin currently sports a 5-2 record as a pro.

Below is the full card, which will be streamed on the DAZN platform in its entirety. The undercard will start at around 6 p.m. ET with the main card airing at 10 p.m. ET.

  • Jarrell Miller vs. Bogdan Dinu
  • Claressa Shields vs. Hannah Rankin: IBF, WBA, WBC Women's Middleweight Title
  • Gabriel Rosado vs. Luis Arias
  • Brandon Rios vs. Ramon Alvarez
  • Anthony Sims Jr. vs. Colby Courter
  • Nico Hernandez vs. Josue Morales
  • Jeremy Nichols vs. Jeremiah Page
  • Emmanuel Thompson vs. Leroy Jones
  • Nikita Ababiy vs. Javier Rodriquez

Tale of the Tape: Jarrell Miller vs. Bogdan Dinu

Jarrell Miller:

Record: 22-0-1 (19 KO)

Age: 30

Height: 6'4"

Reach: 78"

Titles Won: WBO-NABO Heavyweight Title

Notable Fights: Tomasz Adamek, Johann Duhaupas, Gerald Washington

Bogdan Dinu:

Record: 18-0 (14 KO)

Age: 32

Height: 6'2"

Titles Won: N/A

Notable Fights: N/A

Tale of the Tape: Claressa Shields vs. Hannah Rankin

Claressa Shields:

Record: 6-0 (2 KO)

Age: 23

Height: 5'8"

Reach: 68"

Titles Won: WBC Women's Super Middleweight, IBF Women's Super Middleweight, IBF Women's Middleweight, WBA Women's Middleweight World Titles

Notable Fights: Hanna Gabriels, Tori Nelson, Nikki Adler

Hannah Rankin:

Record: 5-2 (1 KO)

Age: 28

Height: 5'8"

Titles Won: WBC Women's Silver Middleweight Title

Notable Fights: Alicia Napoleon

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