Fightful Boxing Newsletter (11/22/19): Wilder-Ortiz II, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s Suspension, More

Fightful Boxing Newsletter (11/22/19) Table Of Contents:

  1. Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz 2 Preview (Page 1)
  2. Latest On Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s Suspension (Page 2)
  3. Latest On WBO Cruiserweight & Junior Middleweight Titles (Page 3)
  4. News And Notes From Around The World Of Boxing (Page 4)
  5. Fightful Boxing Rankings (Pages 5-6)
“I Don’t Really Care What He Says” - Charles Oliveira Comments On Khabib Nurmagomedov

Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz 2 Preview:

Though some may argue that the Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Anthony Joshua rematch in Saudi Arabia next month is the biggest heavyweight title rematch in years, Deontay Wilder’s second go at Luis Ortiz on November 23 carries significant weight for the future of both men.

The two engaged in a great fight back in March 2018 which saw Wilder get hurt by Ortiz in the middle of the fight before Wilder stopped Ortiz in the 10th round to retain the WBC heavyweight title. Now both men will run it back once more in the main event of a PBC on FOX pay-per-view from Las Vegas.

It seemed like Wilder was done with Ortiz, but even after scoring a TKO win, Wilder somehow knew that a rematch between the two would happen eventually.

"After that fight I felt like I wanted to run it back. It was such a great fight, I definitely wanted to run that one back with him. There was a moment in time where I felt like there was a part of me proving myself as a heavyweight champion. Everybody has got their own different opponents that they look and say okay, I believe him. He is the real deal. I think with Ortiz it opened up a lot of people's eyes. I know for a fact it opened up a lot of people's eyes and it allowed a lot of the haters or the doubters I will say, it silenced the doubters and it made them a big fan of mine," Wilder told Fightful in a recent media call.

The one thing to follow throughout this rematch is how Ortiz’s body will perform in the fight. Ortiz has completely revamped his body, hiring a nutritionist and trimming a lot of fat and turning it into muscle. Just by looking at pictures of him during workout, he’s probably in the best shape he’s been heading into a fight in a long time. From a weight perspective, he figures to be at around the same weight range he normally comes in, but the body will look vastly different.

It’s possible that this leaner version of Ortiz will be faster and possibly have more stamina this time around, but it won’t really matter if he still has issues handling Wilder’s power. At this point, it’s really more of an inevitability that Wilder will land that right hand to send Ortiz to the canvas. The question has been, and always will be, can Ortiz hurt Wilder once more and finish the job before Wilder’s power breaks him down.

Looking at the first fight between the two, it’s easy to understand why some could feel tempted to pick Ortiz to pull off the upset. While he may look good in the workout videos, one can’t deny that Ortiz has looked a tad bit slower in some of his fights after the first Wilder loss. His most recent bout, a unanimous decision win against Christian Hammer back in March, didn’t seem to give much of an impression that Ortiz is still the same fighter that nearly shocked the world in 2018.

There will be plenty of ramifications in the heavyweight division depending on what happens on Saturday night. Obviously, if Wilder wins, then the rematch against Tyson Fury is all but guaranteed. Although February 22 is still the date that Fury has thrown around for months, nothing is set in stone yet. Wilder vs. Fury 2 has been something many people had hoped to see at some point in 2019, but Fury’s team and ESPN opted to give him more fights in the United States to build his profile as a rising star to make the rematch against Wilder even bigger. Whether or not it ultimately worked remains to be seen.

A loss for Ortiz might effectively be it for him as far as his career is concerned. He’s in his 40s, has had multiple seven-figure bouts and fought for the WBC heavyweight title twice. Ortiz may opt to fight a little more to keep getting money for his daughter's treatment for a rare skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa, but as far as world title prospects are concerned, this may very well be his last opportunity.

But if Ortiz were to pull off the upset, it would be nearly at a Ruiz beating Joshua levels of shocking, and would effectively ruin the luster that would have been the Wilder vs. Fury rematch. It would be an incredible feat and Ortiz as the WBC champion could change the landscape of the division, at least in the short term. A win for Ortiz would almost definitely mean a rubber match is coming and that could potentially be a massive win for FOX on the pay-per-view buyrates (assuming FOX would also carry that fight).

Regardless, given how both men squared off in one of the most dramatic heavyweight fights of 2018, it’s safe to assume that people are going to be in for another bonafide modern heavyweight classic.

The pay-per-view undercard itself may be just as intriguing as the main event.

The opening bout is a bantamweight fight between former world champions Luis Nery and Emmanuel Rodriguez. On paper, it's more than likely going to end up being the best fight in the four-bout main card. Nery is a strong, aggressive puncher while Rodriguez does a very good job attacking the body with the left hook.

Though no titles are at stake, an opportunity to fight WBC champion Nordine Oubaali may very well be on the line. Nery already has that opportunity secured based on a ruling from the WBC in October, but it would be nearly impossible to justify giving him a title shot if Rodriguez ends up winning.

This fight will serve nothing but to further complete the bantamweight title puzzle. As it stands, the top four bantamweights today are Nery, Oubaali, Naoya Inoue and Zolani Tete. Although it’s hard to tell if there will ever come a point where all four will face each other at some point to ultimately crown an undisputed bantamweight champion, but the biggest fight in the division remains Inoue vs. Nery as it has been for a year. A win over Nery and then Oubaali would potentially make way for a borderline superfight against Inoue in late 2020 at the earliest.

The co-main event will feature Leo Santa Cruz attempting to win a title in four different weight classes when he takes on Miguel Flores for the vacant WBA “Super” super featherweight title. The WBA "Super" version of the title was vacated by Gervonta Davis recently, temporarily leaving "Regular" champion Andrew Cancio as the sole WBA champion at 130 pounds. But with all things, the WBA couldn’t help itself but further complicate everything and add another unnecessary “world” title. The fight between Santa Cruz and Flores was originally supposed to take place in February for Santa Cruz’s featherweight title but Flores suffered an injury weeks before the bout and had to withdraw. Santa Cruz ended up facing Rafael Rivera and won the fight by unanimous decision.

While Santa Cruz had always aimed to become a quadruple divisional champion, the one disappointing thing about him is the fact that, once again, a fight against Gary Russell Jr. was not made despite PBC hinting at it for roughly two years. That fight can always be revisited if Santa Cruz wins, but there’s no reason to believe we are any closer to seeing a Santa Cruz-Russell fight than we were a year ago. Santa Cruz moving to super featherweight could have also been an attempt to secure a fight against Davis, but that also seems unlikely now that Davis is a lightweight and going back to super featherweight would be difficult. Davis has had problems making weight at 130 pounds in the past, so going back to that weight seems too much trouble to be worth it.

Still, it’s hard to deny Santa Cruz’s desire to want to be remembered as an all-time great. He’s won multiple world titles, has had great fights against the likes of Carl Frampton and Abner Mares and has been arguably the most skillful featherweight of the past 18 months. A win over Flores would give Santa Cruz the leverage needed to secure big fights moving forward even if it isn’t against Davis or Russell. With the super featherweight division getting a much needed shot in the arm with the emergence of Cancio, Shakur Stevenson and Jamel Herring as top names, Santa Cruz is a welcome addition to the 130-pound division.

Lastly, Brandon Figueroa, one of the fastest-rising contenders at super bantamweight, will be defending his WBA “Regular” super bantamweight title against Julio Ceja, who is coming off two straight losses. Figueroa, who has won all three of his fights in 2019 inside the distance, previously held the interim WBA title but was elevated to "Regular" titleholder recently. In his last fight, Figueroa defeated Javier Nicolas Chacon by fourth-round KO in the main event of a PBC on FS1 card back in August.

Ceja has lost three of his last five fights, including his last two bouts. His most recent outing was against former world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux in a title eliminator but Ceja was stopped at the end of the eighth round. Despite the stoppage, Ceja was ahead on all three scorecards.

Latest On Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s Suspension:

The latest chapter on the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. has put his upcoming fight against Daniel Jacobs in jeopardy thanks to the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspending him through December 18, two days before the planned clash against Jacobs.

The commission unanimously ruled on November 20 the suspension being extended at their monthly meeting as a result of Chavez Jr. missing a VADA drug test.

Fightful reached out to the Nevada State Athletic Commission and Bob Bennett, the executive director of the NSAC, and Bennett said the commission is not in a position to comment, saying, “Based on the fact Mr. Chavez Jr. is currently suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission pending a disciplinary hearing on December 18th, I’m not in a position to comment at this time.” Matchroom Boxing also declined to give a comment when Fightful reached out to them.

In addition, Fightful did reach out to the Arizona Boxing & Mixed Martial Arts Commission and did hear back from Ted Vogt, the Arizona Department of Gaming Director:

“The Arizona Boxing & Mixed Martial Arts Commission is committed to enforcing the law and supports effective and efficient regulation that enhances unarmed combat sports. Our attorneys are reviewing the actions taken yesterday by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in order to advise the Arizona Boxing & Mixed Martial Arts Commission on the appropriate ‘next steps.’”

The story of Chavez and the failed drug test is as follows. Matchroom Boxing had planned for Jacobs and Chavez to face each other in Las Vegas, but according to Eddie Hearn, VADA had sent out someone to test Chavez but the fight wasn’t completed at that time which included not having signed up for VADA testing yet. Chavez didn’t want to deal with the representative from VADA because he felt he didn’t need to undergo testing for a fight that hasn’t been made yet.

This effectively forced the NSAC to treat the missed test as a failed drug test and temporarily suspended him up to November 20. This resulted in Hearn moving the fight to Phoenix, a site that was already considered to host the fight when Hearn was planning this out. The fight was then announced, but given that Chavez is still suspended, it effectively put the entire event in jeopardy.

Although Chavez Jr. is suspended by Nevada, the commissions across the United States generally follow along when one commission suspends a fighter. In other words, if Chavez is suspended in Nevada, then he won’t be licensed to fight in any other state while suspended.

The move from Nevada to Arizona clearly upset the NSAC, who wrote a letter to Hearn before the November 20 ruling:

“Nevada law prohibits any promoter licensed by the NSAC from having any dealings related to unarmed combat with a person who has been suspended by the NSAC. Nevada law also prohibits a promoter from permitting a person under suspension from participating in any contest or exhibition of unarmed combat during the period of suspension. Any violation of Nevada or Federal law by a licensed promoter provides grounds for disciplinary action.

In addition, under the Ali Act, no boxer is permitted to box while under suspension from any boxing commission due to, among other things, failure of a drug test. Under Nevada law, an unarmed combatant that refuses to submit to the collection of a sample or specimen upon the request of the NSAC or its representative, or otherwise evades the collection thereof, has committed an anti-doping violation and is subject to disciplinary action just as he or she would be if he or she failed a drug test.

Based on Matchroom’s ongoing dealings with Chavez while he has been on suspension, it is apparent that Matchroom has violated Nevada law. Further, given that Chavez’s suspension is based on his refusal to submit to a drug test requested by the NSAC, and thus an anti-doping violation, it is apparent that the event scheduled to occur in Arizona on December 20, 2019, is in violation of the Ali Act. As such, Matchroom is promoting an event that potentially violates federal law.

On November 7, 2019, I contacted Shaun Palmer, Matchroom’s Head of Legal and Business Affairs, and informed him of the legal issues with Matchroom’s dealings with Chavez discussed herein. I further informed him of the potential consequences should Matchroom not take corrective measures to comply with Nevada law, including that a violation of Nevada law would be considered by the NSAC when deciding whether to renew Matchroom’s promoter’s license.”

VADA will not be doing drug testing for this fight, so Hearn has brought on Drug Free Sport, which has no history of doing drug testing in boxing but has been contracted by the NFL and NBA in the past.

Despite this, Hearn is nowhere near being in the clear as far as the NSAC is concerned. If Chavez's suspension is extended once again, then it will force the commission in Arizona to likely rule Chavez ineligible for the fight. This could either mean the cancelation of the entire event if Hearn doesn't comply or simply force Hearn to find another opponent that has been approved. In the case of the latter, it would be Gabriel Rosado, who has won just one of his last five fights and is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Maciej Sulecki back in March.

The last few years have been nothing but controversy after controversy for Chavez. Even before becoming the WBC middleweight champion in 2011, Chavez tested positive for the banned substance Furosemide, which meant a November 2009 win over Tom Rowland was overturned to a no contest. When Chavez lost his WBC world title to Sergio Martinez back in 2012, a post-fight drug test showed traces of marijuana in Chavez's system. Not to mention the 27 months of absence from boxing Chavez spent after losing to Canelo Alvarez back in 2017 has also made everyone think whether or not he will ever return to relevancy inside the ring.

For now, Hearn will have to play the waiting game until December 18 when the NSAC meets once more to give out what is presumably a final ruling on Chavez's suspension.

Latest On WBO Cruiserweight & Junior Middleweight Titles:

Cruiserweight:

The status of the WBO cruiserweight title fight between Mairis Briedis and Krzysztof Glowacki that was ordered weeks ago is still up in the air after a deadline of November 21 passed for a deal to be negotiated, meaning that either a purse bid will be ordered or Briedis will vacate his WBO title.

The past month has seen the original plan for the belt, which was for Briedis to fight IBF champion Yuniel Dorticos in the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight finals and then fight Glowacki afterwards, go up in flames.

In the latest chapter of this strange saga, the WBO ordered a fight between the two with Briedis, the current WBO champion, and Glowacki with a deadline of November 21 to negotiate a deal. Should a deal fail to be made, a purse bid, potentially in late November or early December, would take place. This comes months after it seemed that Briedis would fight Dorticos in the WBSS finals, but recent developments have changed the whole situation.

The original ruling from the WBO in July came after Glowacki and his representatives argued that his fight against Briedis, which was a WBSS semifinal bout in June, should be overturned from a Briedis win to a no contest after a bizarre sequence of events that led to Glowacki being knocked out in the third round.

The fight between the two saw Briedis intentionally elbow Glowacki in retaliation to a Rabbit Punch thrown by Glowacki in the second round. Briedis also knocked Glowacki down after the second round ended, but both men continued fighting after the bell as referee Robert Byrd said he did not hear the bell. Briedis would go on to stop Glowacki early in round three to win the WBO title and advance to the finals. Glowacki and his camp had hoped the fight result would be overturned and be deemed a “No Contest" as Briedis said in a post-fight interview that his elbow on Glowacki was intentional.

However, the WBO stated that such a decision can only be made within the jurisdiction of the Latvian Boxing Federation, meaning that unless Latvia changes the result, Briedis is still the winner by third-round TKO and still the WBO cruiserweight champion.

Fast forward several weeks later and new evidence surfaced which prompted Glowacki to file an appeal, upon learning that the bout was fought solely under the auspices of the WBO and with WBSS rules in place. The Latvia boxing commission openly confessed to this, acknowledging that neither Briedis, Glowacki nor the referee were licensed under local rule, which shot down the WBO’s efforts to deflect responsibility in terms of having final say in overturning an official outcome, per a report from Jake Donovan.

Given the new ruling, Briedis’ team and the WBSS had two options: have Briedis vacate the WBO belt and move on to the finals against Dorticos or make the rematch against Glowacki, further delaying the tournament finals.

Conventional wisdom would dictate that Briedis would vacate the belt in order to pursue the WBSS Trophy and another world title against Dorticos. After all, it would be easier for all parties involved and a rematch can be explored later down the road. Though that likely may be the reality, the WBO isn’t 100 percent sure of what the end result will be. A source from inside the WBO told Fightful that they aren’t sure if the purse bid was going to happen or if Briedis would vacate the title.

But now the interesting part comes with what happens with Glowacki because he is technically up to fight for two different titles, but against likely against two different opponents. Regardless of what Briedis decides, Glowacki is assured a WBO world title shot, but in October, the WBC, whose cruiserweight division has no champion, approved a fight between Glowacki and Ilunga Makabi for the vacant belt.

Junior Middleweight:

Jaime Munguia’s run as the WBO junior middleweight champion appears to be over with the news of him moving up to middleweight for his next fight. Munguia will face Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan in a 12-round bout on a DAZN card taking place January 11, 2020 at The Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

This ends the WBO 154-pound title run that began in May 2017 with a dominant win over Sadam Ali. Since then, many expected Munguia, a devastating power puncher who is built more like a super middleweight than a junior middleweight, to continue developing and be a more complete fighter with fights against the likes of Liam Smith and Dennis Hogan. But what we’ve seen for 18 months is a one-dimensional fighter whose power alone will get him through the majority of the 154-division, but power alone won’t be enough to beat the likes of Jarrett Hurd, Julian WIlliams, Tony Harrison.

Still, it was inevitable that Munguia would move up to 160 pounds where the vast majority of the stars also fight on DAZN.

Going up against O’Sullivan won’t tell us a whole lot about Munguia as a middleweight. O’Sullivan’s chin has been compromised in the past and it’s not hard to envision Munguia’s power getting him through the fight. It can make for a nice highlight reel, but the real goal for Munguia at 160 pounds is to eventually fight the likes of Gennadiy Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez and Demetrius Andrade, all owners of a piece of the middleweight championship puzzle.

A fight against Golovkin would actually be a very nice story to tell from a marketing standpoint. The two fighters were actually going to fight each other in May 2018 after the rematch between Golovkin and Alvarez fell through due to Alvarez failing multiple drug tests several weeks prior. It was the Nevada State Athletic Commission that intervened and rejected a Golovkin-Munguia matchup, which actually led to Munguia being available to fight Ali after Smith, Ali’s original opponent for May 2018, withdrew from the bout.

As for what will become of the WBO junior middleweight title, it was also announced by Top Rank that Carlos Adames and Patrick Teixeira, the sanctioning body’s top two-ranked boxers, will meet in what originally billed as a title eliminator on November 30 on the ESPN+ undercard of a Top Rank show at The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

But with Munguia no longer going to be the champion moving forward, the winner could very well be the new champion. Adames is a strongly-built fighter who has really run through a majority of the opponents put in front of him for the last couple of years. Like Munguia, Adames is young and a strong fighter, but looking at him, one gets the sense that Adames is capable of becoming a more well-rounded fighter.

Teixeira is coming into the fight with a solid record of 30-1, but there’s not a whole lot to believe he’ll be able to push Adames any more than someone like Patrick Day. Still, Teixeira could provide a slight challenge to Adames, but there is a reason why many believe Adames is the favorite to win.

Although the fight won’t officially be for the WBO title, the WBO is expected to make a ruling on whether or not the winner will be recognized as the new champion at the WBO Convention taking place in early December.

News And Notes From Around The World Of Boxing

United States:

- Showtime announced that Claressa Shields, the undisputed middleweight champion, will face Ivana Habazin for the vacant WBO and WBC junior middleweight titles on January 10, 2020. The fight will headline a Showtime-televised card from the Ocean Casino Resort In Atlantic City, New Jersey. The fight was originally planned for August with only the WBO title on the line but it was postponed due to Shields injuring her right knee in June. The fight was then rescheduled for October 5 in Flint, Michigan, but at the weigh-ins that took place a day before, there was an altercation that led to James Ali Bashir, Habazin's trainer, to being hospitalized and the fight altogether being scrapped. The card continued with Showtime only airing two fights instead of a planned tripleheader. Also announced by Showtime is a WBA junior welterweight title eliminator between Shohjahon Ergashev and Keith Hunter. The winner of the bout becomes the mandatory challenger to the WBA "Regular" title currently being held by Mario Barrios.

- Showtime also announced that super bantamweight contenders Marlon Tapales and Ryosuke Iwasa will compete for the interim IBF belt to open the December 7 PBC card from Brooklyn. The interim title was created as current IBF champion Daniel Roman, who also holds the WBA "Super" title, is recovering from an injury that prevented him from defending his titles against Murodjon Akhmadaliev in September. Roman is expected to be back in early 2020, but likely going up against Akhmadaliev once more. This meant that Iwasa, who has been the IBF's mandatory challenger since February, would have had to wait more than a year to get his title opportunity. The card will be headlined by Jermall Charlo defending his WBC middleweight title against Dennis Hogan. The co-main event is Chris Eubank Jr. facing Matt Korobov for the interim WBA middleweight title.

- In addition to the Tapales vs. Iwasa bout, a number of non-televised bouts were confirmed for the event:

  • Immanuwel Aleem vs. Ronald Ellis
  • Duke Micah vs. Joseph Ambo
  • Louisa Hawton vs. Lorraine Villalobos: Interim Female WBC Strawweight title
  • Arnold Gonzalez vs. TBA
  • Steven Torres vs. Daniel Franco
  • Burley Brooks vs Amon Rashidi

- PBC announced that Guillermo Rigondeaux will take on Liborio Solis for the newly-created WBA "Regular" bantamweight title in the co-main event of the December 21 PBC card taking place in Ontario, California. The winner will be the secondary titleholder to Naoya Inoue's WBA "Super" title at 118 pounds. Rigondeaux, who previously held the WBA super bantamweight title, will be dropping down to bantamweight for the first time in his pro career. The opening bout of the card will be the return of rising heavyweight prospect Efe Ajagba, having his fourth fight of 2019. The undefeated Ajagba will take on long-time veteran Iago Kiladze in a 10-round bout. The card will be headlined by the previously-announced WBC junior middleweight title rematch between Tony Harrison and Jermell Charlo.

- Jesse Hart and Joe Smith Jr. will face off in a light heavyweight match up on a Top Rank on ESPN card from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey on January 11, 2020.

United Kingdom:

- The November 23 Matchroom Boxing card from Liverpool is one of the more intriguing events in the United Kingdom in the second half of 2019. The main event will see Callum Smith defend his WBA “Super” super middleweight title against interim titleholder John Ryder. From an in-ring standpoint, it’s an interesting bout and a significant step up in opposition for both fighters. Smith’s run as the WBA champion has been incredibly disappointing after he defeated George Groves last year in Saudi Arabia. His only win since then was against Hassan N’Dam, a result pretty much everyone saw coming, but now he is primed for a potentially huge 2020 with matchups against Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders looming over the horizon. Ryder has been one of the biggest surprises of the 168-pound division, winning the last four fights, all inside the distance, ever since he lost a split decision to Rocky Fielding back in 2017. At best, the fight has the potential to be a sleeper hit of 2019 which is saying something considering that there are already more than a dozen fights that can be nominated for “Fight of the Year.” The undercard will feature prominent rising British names such as Anthony Fowler and James Tennyson. Here are just some of the bouts that are taking place on the undercard.

  • James Tennyson vs. Craig Evans
  • Craig Glover vs. Chris Billam-Smith
  • Tom Farrell vs. Sean Dodd
  • Anthony Fowler vs. Harry Scarff

- The new WBO rankings have been released with two notable names being ranked in the top 2 in their respective divisions: Michael Conlan is the new No. 1 contender to the featherweight title and Lawrence Okolie is No. 2 in the cruiserweight rankings. For Conlan, this doesn’t immediately mean he’ll be given the title shot against Shakur Stevenson. To some, Conlan is still viewed as a prospect who is slowly growing into a fairly decent draw at Madison Square Garden, but the understanding here is that he needs a little more seasoning before fighting for a world title. Okolie could very well get his title shot if Mairis Briedis vacates the 200-pound title, which would mean Krzysztof Glowacki and Okolie would be ordered to fight for the vacant belt.

- Callum Johnson and Igor Mikhalkin has been ordered by the EBU for the vacant EBU European light heavyweight title with a purse bid date of December 10 unless both sides can come to terms on a deal.

- Former world title challenger Paddy Barnes has announced his retirement after just nine pro bouts. After a highly successful amateur career that included a bronze medal in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and an appearance in the 2016 Olympics, Barnes turned pro at nearly 30 years old. Barnes was quickly given a world title opportunity against then-WBC flyweight champion Cristofer Rosales but was knocked out in the fourth round. Afterwards, Barnes went 1-2 in his next three fights, most recently getting knocked out by Jay Harris back in October.

Japan:

- Kosei Tanaka's next WBO flyweight title defense is set and will take place on Japan's special New Year's Eve boxing shows. Tanaka will defend his title against rising Chinese star Wulan Tuolehazi on December 31 at the Ota-City Gymnasium in Tokyo. The fight joins the previously confirmed WBO super flyweight title bout between four-division titleholder Kazuto Ioka and mandatory challenger Jeyvier Cintron.

- Also announced for the December 31 card at the Ota-City General Gymnasium is rising contender Ginjiro Shigeoka, who will be facing former title challenger Rey Loreto. Although this is Shigeoka’s fifth pro bout and a massive step up in competition, he has been viewed by many as a future world champion and given the rate of his progression, a good performance against Loreto would almost surely give Shigeoka a world title shot in the next 18 months.

- The planned WBC and IBF light flyweight world title unification between Ken Shiro and Felix Alvarado has been canceled. The fight was originally set to take place on December 23 as part of a tripleheader of title bouts that will also feature WBA "Regular" middleweight champion Ryota Murata and IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane. The reason for the fight between Shiro and Alvarado being called off is due to Alvarado suffering a bronchial problem. The news was first reported by Levi Luna. According to Boxing Scene, the show will go on as planned, but there is still no word on if Shiro will remain on the card against a replacement opponent.

- Junto Nakatani was awarded the Sagamihara City Culture and Sports Award recently after a banner year that saw him emerge as Japan’s next top flyweight contender. Nakatani is coming off perhaps the biggest win of his career by stopping former world champion Milan Melindo in October and is currently ranked No. 1 by the WBA at 112 pounds.

- Ryoichi Taguchi has announced his retirement from the sport of boxing at a press conference with promoter Hitoshi Watanabe. Taguchi once held the unified WBA and IBF light flyweight titles, has regularly fought at the Ota-City General Gymnasium and Korakuen Hall in Tokyo and has been a mainstay on several New Year's Eve shows. Taguchi's retirement ceremony will take place on December 10 at the "Guts Fighting & DANGAN 231" at Korakuen Hall. The 32-year-old retires with a 27-4-2 pro record since making his pro debut back in 2006.

Other News And Notes:

- The WBC has officially ordered Devin Haney to take on mandatory challenger Javier Fortuna with negotiations set to begin immediately. Both parties have until December 13 to successfully reach a deal for a fight in 2020 or else the bout will head to a purse bid.

- Top Rank announced that unified WBC and WBO junior welterweight champion Jose Ramirez will defend his titles against mandatory challenger Viktor Postol Saturday, February 1 at Mission Hills Haikou in Haikou, Hainan, China. The fight will headline a Top Rank on ESPN card starting at 10 p.m. ET.

- Matchroom Boxing announced that Cristofer Rosales and Julio Cesar Martinez will fight for the vacant WBC flyweight title on the December 20 DAZN card from Phoenix, Arizona. That card is tentatively scheduled to be headlined by a super middleweight bout between Daniel Jacobs and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

- WBO super bantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete will defend his title against Francisco Horta on December 7 at the Auditorio GNP Seguros in the city of Puebla, Mexico. This will be Navarrate’s third title defense within a span of 113 days and fourth overall defense this year.

Fightful Boxing Rankings:

The Fightful Boxing Rankings are compiled by lead boxing writer Carlos Toro.

Pound-for-pound

  1. Naoya Inoue
  2. Canelo Alvarez
  3. Vasiliy Lomachenko
  4. Terence Crawford
  5. Oleksandr Usyk
  6. Juan Francisco Estrada
  7. Artur Beterbiev
  8. Gennadiy Golovkin
  9. Errol Spence Jr.
  10. Kosei Tanaka

Heavyweight

  1. Tyson Fury
  2. Deontay Wilder
  3. Andy Ruiz Jr.
  4. Anthony Joshua
  5. Dillian Whyte
  6. Luis Ortiz
  7. Kubrat Pulev
  8. Oscar Rivas
  9. Adam Kownacki
  10. Michael Hunter

Cruiserweight

  1. Beibut Shumenov
  2. Mairis Briedis
  3. Yuniel Dorticos
  4. Krzysztof Glowacki
  5. Kevin Lerena
  6. Ilunga Makabu
  7. Firat Arslan
  8. Marco Huck
  9. Lawrence Okolie
  10. Thabiso Mchunu

Light heavyweight

  1. Artur Beterbiev
  2. Canelo Alvarez
  3. Dmitry Bivol
  4. Gilberto Ramirez
  5. Oleksandr Gvozdyk
  6. Sergey Kovalev
  7. Jean Pascal
  8. Eleider Alvarez
  9. Marcus Browne
  10. Badou Jack
  11. Jesse Hart

Super middleweight

  1. Callum Smith
  2. Caleb Plant
  3. David Benavidez
  4. Billy Joe Saunders
  5. John Ryder
  6. Anthony Dirrell
  7. Chris Eubank Jr.
  8. Avni Yildirim
  9. Caleb Truax
  10. Vladimir Shishkin

Middleweight

  1. Canelo Alvarez
  2. Gennadiy Golovkin
  3. Demetrius Andrade
  4. Daniel Jacobs
  5. Sergiy Derevyanchenko
  6. Jermall Charlo
  7. Ryota Murata
  8. Matt Korobov
  9. Kamil Szeremeta
  10. Jeff Horn

Junior middleweight

  1. Julian Williams
  2. Jarrett Hurd
  3. Tony Harrison
  4. Erislandy Lara
  5. Brian Castano
  6. Jermell Charlo
  7. Jaime Munguia
  8. Liam Smith
  9. Kell Brook
  10. Michel Soro

Welterweight

  1. Terrence Crawford
  2. Errol Spence Jr.
  3. Manny Pacquiao
  4. Shawn Porter
  5. Danny Garcia
  6. Keith Thurman
  7. Mikey Garcia
  8. Sergey Lipinets
  9. David Avanesyan
  10. Yordenis Ugas

The rest of the rankings are in the next page.

Junior welterweight

  1. Regis Prograis
  2. Jose Ramirez
  3. Josh Taylor
  4. Ivan Baranchyk
  5. Maurice Hooker
  6. Kiryl Relikh
  7. Jack Catterall
  8. Jono Carroll
  9. Viktor Postol
  10. Jose Zepeda

Lightweight

  1. Vasiliy Lomachenko
  2. Teofimo Lopez
  3. Richard Commey
  4. Robert Easter Jr.
  5. Devin Haney
  6. Luke Campbell
  7. Anthony Crolla
  8. Rances Barthelemy
  9. Zaur Abdullaev
  10. Javier Fortuna

Super featherweight

  1. Gervonta Davis
  2. Miguel Berchelt
  3. Tevin Farmer
  4. Andrew Cancio
  5. Jamel Herring
  6. Joseph Diaz Jr.
  7. Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov

  8. Alberto Machado

  9. Miguel Roman
  10. Masayuki Ito

Featherweight

  1. Leo Santa Cruz
  2. Josh Warrington
  3. Gary Russell Jr.
  4. Shakur Stevenson
  5. Carl Frampton
  6. Can Xu
  7. Tugstsogt Nyambayar
  8. Joet Gonzalez
  9. Jessie Magdaleno
  10. Jhack Tepora

Super bantamweight

  1. Daniel Roman
  2. Emanuel Navarrete
  3. Rey Vargas
  4. Guillermo Rigondeaux
  5. Brandon Figueroa
  6. Isaac Dogboe
  7. TJ Doheny​​​​​​
  8. Ryosuke Iwasa
  9. Stephen Fulton
  10. Tomoki Kameda

Bantamweight

  1. Naoya Inoue
  2. Luis Nery
  3. Nonito Donaire
  4. Zolani Tete
  5. Nordine Oubaali
  6. John Riel Casimero
  7. Emmanuel Rodriguez
  8. Juan Carlos Payano
  9. Richard Espinoza
  10. Jason Moloney

Super Flyweight

  1. Juan Francisco Estrada
  2. Roman Gonzalez
  3. Donnie Nietes
  4. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
  5. Jerwin Ancajas
  6. Kal Yafai
  7. Kazuto Ioka
  8. Aston Palicte
  9. Carlos Cuadras
  10. Andrew Moloney

Flyweight

  1. Kosei Tanaka
  2. Artem Dalakian
  3. Moruti Mthalane
  4. Julio Cesar Martinez
  5. Charlie Edwards
  6. Ryoichi Taguchi
  7. Daigo Higa
  8. Cristofer Rosales
  9. Junto Nakatani
  10. Wulan Tuolehazi

Light flyweight/Minimumweight

  1. Wanheng Menayothin
  2. Hiroto Kyoguchi
  3. Ken Shiro
  4. Elwin Soto
  5. Carlos Canizales
  6. Pedro Taduran
  7. Hekkie Budler
  8. Wilfredo Mendez
  9. Felix Alvarado
  10. Knockout CP Freshmart
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