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

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.

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