Fightful Boxing Newsletter (12/13): Canelo vs. Rocky Preview, Final HBO Card Results, Wilder vs. Fury Fallout

Fightful Boxing Newsletter (12/13):
1. Canelo Alvarez vs. Rocky Fielding Preview

When Canelo Alvarez defeated Gennady Golovkin back in September, no one would have imagined what the next few weeks would be like for him. Alvarez signed a lucrative 11-fight deal with DAZN and announced his next fight for three months after the Golovkin rematch and it's against a world champion at a higher weight class.

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A unique matchup will headline a Madison Square Garden card on December 15 when Alvarez faces off against WBA "regular" super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding. Alvarez will be looking to win a world title in a third weight class, something that only a handful of Mexican boxers have ever achieved.

Alvarez is right now at the point in his career where every fight is now one to add on to his resume and have people talk about where Alvarez lands in the conversation of all-time best Mexican boxers. A win over Fielding wouldn't do too much for Alvarez's resume other than give him another world title. This move up in weight is not even a permanent one for Alvarez as he has stated that he is moving back down to middleweight, where he is the WBA "super" and WBC world champion.

As for Fielding, his legacy could be on the line in this fight. Not is Alvarez the toughest opponent in his career, but it is also the most important fight of his pro career.

It's amazing how Fielding has recovered from a 2016 first-round loss to current WBA "super" champion Callum Smith. By that point, many would have thought that Fielding would never win a world title, much less reach it. Even when he got the shot against Tyron Zeuge earlier this year, Fielding was considered an underdog, but managed to not only win the title, but also dominate Zeuge in impressive fashion.

The British boxer has certainly turned heads with his career trajectory, but now he finds himself in another incredibly tough position, one that he and trainer Jamie Moore are trying to figure out how to overcome. Alvarez is unlike any fighter Fielding has ever faced before and when Fightful spoke to Moore, the subject on preparing for Alvarez came up.

“[Canelo's] obviously a very difficult task when you’re talking about an elite level fighter at the top of the pound-for-pound list. How do you get sparring to match that? You really can’t. In my opinion, you have to take out the best attributes that fighter has, someone with a really sharp jab like Canelo. We wanted to get a sparring partner for a really good jab. Then you got to get all the different and best parts and attributes as well and cover those with different sparring partners, but you never necessarily can have all those covered with one sparring partner or maybe two. You have to have a sort of different range of it," Moore said.

But part of the intrigue of the matchup is seeing how Alvarez fares in a proper 168-pound matchup, something that he's never had before. That's where Fielding could stand a chance as there could be a small chance of Fielding using his size advantage to bully Alvarez around in the ring early on in the matchup. Fielding spoke to Fightful recently and believe the size difference could factor in his favor when the two meet.

"Yeah, that’s the ingredient to the fight. I’m a big super middleweight, and he’s stepping up. That’s what makes it interesting to see how he is going to adapt to it and how he’s going to be. I’m at a weight to make the weight comfortable, and I’m okay at it. I don’t know how it’s going to be for him, but I’m at the best weight for myself," Fielding said. "It adds up. He’s a top fighter all around, and he brings that with him as well as moving up in the weight. He carries all that around. So it’s going to be interesting to see him from his last fight, to see how he does in the [move up to weight] and see if he accumulated muscle mass in this short of time. It will be interesting to see in the next week or so. It will be interesting compared to myself and how I make the weight and how I prepare. I make the weight, and then I fight. That’s how I’m prepared."

The rest of the card is a very loaded one with two world title fights (Katie Taylor vs. Eva Wahlstrom and Tevin Farmer vs. Francisco Fonseca) as well as a number of top names from Golden Boy Promotions such as David Lemieux, Ryan Garcia, Lamont Roach Jr. and Sadam Ali. The full card starts at 6 p.m. ET with people in the United States being able to watch it on the DAZN streaming service.

Tale of the Tape:

Canelo Alvarez:

Record: 50-1-2 (34 KO)

Age: 28

Height: 5'8.5"

Reach: 70.5"

Titles Won: WBC Junior Middleweight, WBC Middleweight, WBA "Super" Middleweight, The Ring Magazine Middleweight, Lineal Middleweight World Titles

Notable Opponents: Floyd Mayweather Jr., Erislandy Lara, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Gennady Golovkin, Amir Khan

Rocky Fielding:

Record: 27-1 (15 KO)

Age: 31

Height:

Reach:

Titles Won: WBA "Regular" Super Middleweight World Title

Notable Opponents: Callum Smith, Tyron Zeuge

2. Final HBO Card

On HBO’s swan song, Cecilia Braekhus ended the night by retaining her undisputed women’s welterweight titles.

Braekhus defeated Aleksandra Magdziak-Lopes by unanimous decision (100-90, 100-90, 99-91) to retain her WBA, WBO, WBC, IBF and IBO titles to close out the show. It was Braekhus’ third title defense of 2018 and second on HBO.

It was a completely one-sided affair as Braekhus dominated the fight by repeatedly throwing power punches and pressuring her opponent to defend throughout most of the fight. Magdziak-Lopes only managed to land 51 of her 449 total punches, which is only good for 11 percent while Braekhus landed 143 of her 349 total punches (41 percent).

Braekhus became the first woman to win a fight that was aired live on HBO when she retained her titles against Kali Reis as the co-main event to the May 5 card headlined by Gennady Golovkin’s knockout win over Vanes Martirosyan. With Claressa Shields defending her middleweight titles as the opening fight of the December 8 card, the final broadcast would also be the first one to feature two women’s title fights.

The fight officially ended HBO’s long history with boxing as the network stated in late September that it would stop regular boxing broadcasts start in 2019. The fight took place at the StubHub Center in California and featured a special montage celebrating HBO’s storied affiliation with boxing as well as bringing back long-time HBO broadcaster Larry Merchant.

In the opening fight of the telecast Claressa Shields scored a shutout unanimous decision win over Femke Hermans (100-90, 100-90, 100-90) to defend her unified WBA, WBC and IBF women's middleweight titles.

It was an easy night for Shields as she dominated Hermans throughout all 10 rounds. Shields spent most of the fight throwing and landing power punches and Hermans mainly worked to survive all 10 rounds. As far as total punches landed are concerned, Shields outlanded Hermans 119 to 29. Shields also threw 104 power punches out of 272 (38 percent) and Hermans only connected on 25 of her 127 power shots (20 percent).

The two-time Olympic gold medalist was fighting in her second fight for the second month. Shields last fought in November on a Matchroom Boxing USA card on DAZN when she defeated Hannah Rankin to add the WBC middleweight title to her collection of world titles at 160 pounds. Shields will now look to secure a fight against WBO champion Christina Hammer in 2019 to crown an undisputed women's middleweight champion.

In the co-main event of the telecast, super flyweight title contender Juan Francisco Estrada defeated Victor Mendez after seven rounds in order to keep his momentum intact as he awaits a rematch against WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

Estrada vs. Mendez was added to the card after Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez, who was supposed to fight Pedro Guevara on the card, went down with a knee injury in training camp. Estrada has now won his last two fights, both of which took place on HBO.

3. Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Jose Pedraza Results

For the second year in a row, Vasiliy Lomachenko kicked off the holiday season at Madison Square Garden with another big win in a world title fight.

Only this time, instead of beating pound-for-pound star Guillermo Rigondeaux, Lomachenko outlasted and outboxed Jose Pedraza to unify the WBA and WBO lightweight world titles. In front of a sold out crowd at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Lomachenko won a unanimous decision (119-107, 117-109, 117-109) thanks to two late knockdowns.

The 30-year-old Lomachenko started off slow, taking his time and finding his range as he is fighting for the first time since undergoing surgery earlier this year. Pedraza tried to use his size advantage to get the early lead in the cards, but was missing on a lot of his punches. Lomachenko scored his first big shot of the fight in the third round when he landed a left hand that knocked Pedraza off-balance.

Pedraza would find little success throughout the fight, but the bulk of that success came in the fifth and round when he outworked Lomachenko. Pedraza managed to also land a combination of punches in the 10th round to push back Lomachenko and get a bit of momentum late in the fight.

In the 11th round, Lomachenko had his best round of the night. Lomachenko started with a flurry of punches that ended with a left hand to Pedraza's chin, followed by a body shot and ended with a straight right to the chin, knocking the Puerto Rican down. Lomachenko landed another flurry of hard punches to drop Pedraza to one knee once more, virtually securing a win on the scorecards for Lomachenko.

After the fight, Lomachenko restated his interest in fighting fellow world champion Mikey Garcia. Garcia currently holds the WBC lightweight and previously held the IBF title until weeks ago in order to pursue a shot at Errol Spence Jr.'s IBF welterweight title next March on pay-per-view.

Lomachenko extended his win streak while also successfully defending his WBA title for the first time. Lomachenko first won the lightweight title back in May, when he knocked out Jorge Linares to become a three-division world champion.

As for the co-main event, Emanuel Navarrete submitted his entry for "Upset of the Year" by dethroning Isaac Dogboe and winning the WBO super bantamweight title.

Navarrete scored a unanimous decision win over Dogboe (115-113, 116-112, 116-112) to capture his first world title. The fight was the co-main event bout to the lightweight world title unification between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Jose Pedraza.

The fight started with Dogboe overpowering Navarrete in the early going. Navarrete, who had a noticeable height and reach advantage, was able to land some clean body shots that hurt Dogboe and pushed him back. Navarrete would go on to attack Dogboe throughout the fight, busting his nose and causing it to bleed. As the fight got deeper, Dogboe was able to win some rounds and land clean punches, but had to fight with both of his eyes nearly swollen shut.

According to CompuBox, Dogboe landed 176 of his 686 total punches (26 percent) while Navarrete connected on 221 of his 804 (27 percent). The two men were busy throwing power punches throughout the fight as Dogboe landed 129 of his 456 power shots (28 percent) and Navarrete landing 170 of his 524 punches (32 percent).

Dogboe's reign as the world champion ended just short of eight months. Dogboe started 2018 by winning the interim WBO title in January and then won the title in late April by defeating Jessie Magdaleno. Dogboe made one successful title defense back in August by knocking out Hidenori Otake in the first round.

4. Wilder vs. Fury Fallout

The coverage in the aftermath of Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury is unlike anything seen in a heavyweight fight in the United States since at least the last decade. Aside from the Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin draw from 2017, the demand for a rematch has never reached such a high level after Wilder and Fury fought to a controversial draw on December 1.

Despite the fact that the buyrate, estimated to be in the 300,000 to 325,000 range, is nowhere near the buyrate of some of the biggest pay-per-views in the United States in the last few years, Wilder and Fury became instant superstars in the United States.

What helped was the fact that both men engaged in a drama-filled fight that more than compensated for the low levels of action at certain points in the bout. Social media was set ablaze with several moments for the night, including the result, Wilder’s knockdown in the 12th round and Fury’s almost miraculous recovery from that knockdown.

The fight had unusually high expectations given who was in play and the casual and non-boxing fans’ knowledge, or lack thereof, of Wilder and Fury heading into the bout. But for some reason, there was a lot of excitement from people who would not normally call themselves boxing fans. Whether it was due to the solid promotion done for the fight, the fact that this was the biggest heavyweight fight on American soil in more than a dozen years, or simply the fact that American boxing fans have been eager to welcome a big heavyweight star, the event can be considered a success on virtually all fronts.

The pay-per-view buyrate is estimated to be 300,000-325,000, exceeding expectations by many people, including myself. Right before the fight, I had thought the fight would get somewhere between 250,000-300,000 buys, but once I heard of all the chatter from non-boxing fans, my prediction grew. Regardless of what the final buyrate was, it will end up being higher than the 250,000 break-even number.

As far as a rematch is concerned, everything seems to point that the two fighters could potentially fight once more in early summer 2019. While one can argue that the rematch can, and should, be done earlier than June, it’s hard for PBC to schedule a pay-per-view in the first three or four months of 2019. Not only does PBC have to deal with the Manny Pacquiao vs. Adrien Broner pay-per-view on January 19, but they also have Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia on another pay-per-view show on March 16. Putting it anywhere before June 2019 would only hurt the promotion of the rematch and negatively impact the buyrate, even if that impact is minimal.

The secondary storyline regarding the rematch is Anthony Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn constantly criticize the show and the buyrate numbers. Hearn scoffed at the idea that 300,000 buys in the United States is considered a success because his pay-per-view shows have done higher buyrate. What Hearn seems to conveniently leave out is the revenue that Wilder vs. Fury produced. At 300,000 buys at $74.95, the show produced $22,485,000 on the pay-per-view side alone ($24,358,750 at 325,000 buys).

Although Hearn would be hard pressed to publicly give the fight high marks, his pseudo-crusade against the fight (whether he realizes that is what he’s doing) is actively hurting the chances for Joshua to fight Wilder at the April 2019 show at Wembley Stadium. We’ve already seen how easy it is for Wilder and Fury to negotiate their first fight and with the amount of money both are set to make and the likely bigger payday in a rematch, there really is no point for Wilder to worry about Anthony Joshua until fall of 2019 at the very least.

And one can make an argument that a Joshua vs. Wilder fight makes more financial sense if Wilder gets the rematch against Fury and wins. Wilder is only becoming bigger as a heavyweight star in the United States and a rematch would only attract even more attention to Wilder if he emerges victorious. Joshua’s committed to DAZN and that does not appear to change. So if Wilder agrees to fight Joshua on DAZN, it would only drive more business and subscriptions to the streaming service.

5. Europe Boxing Roundup

Norway:

- Undisputed women’s welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus was interviewed by Norwegian newspaper VG after her win on the December 8 HBO Boxing card and hinted at the possibility of her retiring in the near future. Braekhus has done virtually everything there is for her to do in boxing, although it isn’t expected that she’s going to hang up her gloves. I wouldn’t be surprised if she eventually explores fights with the likes of Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor, but that would mean Braekhus conceding either a move up in weight for Shields or moving down against Taylor.

Poland:

- Tiger Promotions, led by former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Dariusz Michalczewski, was supposed to have its first boxing show this past weekend but after the death of Izu Ugonoh’s mentor, the event was delayed to March 16, 2019. Ugonoh was supposed to fight Ali Eren Demirezen in the main event and until further notice, it appears to be the main event for March.

- MB Promotions is getting ready for their December 22 card at MOSiR Hall in Radom. The card is well put together with three national title fights taking place: Robert Parzeczewski vs. Dariusz Sek for the Republic of Poland light heavyweight title; Lukasz Wierzbicki vs. Twaha Kiduku for the Republic of Poland International welterweight title; Michal Chudecki vs. Damian Wrzesinski for the vacant Republic of Poland junior welterweight title. Although there will probably no way of watching the card in the United States, one fight to watch out for is Parzeczewski vs. Sek as Parzeczewski is ranked No. 5 by the WBO at 175 pounds so he will be one to watch out for as a potential title challenger in late 201/early 2020 after WBO world champion Eleider Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev have their rematch on February 2, 2019 in Texas on ESPN.

Spain:

- Juli Giner fell ill days before he was supposed to fight Samir Ziani for the vacant EBU super featherweight title in Barcelona. The fight was going to take place on December 14, but it has now been rescheduled for February 2, 2019.

Belgium:

- Francesco Patera will defend his EBU lightweight title against Marvin Petit on February 16, 2019 in Herstal. Patera’s fight against Petit is a mandatory title defense after Patera scored a major upset win over Lewis Ritson by split decision on a Matchroom Boxing show in Newcastle, England on October 13.

- Yves Ngabu will fight Micki Nielsen for the EBU European cruiserweight title on February 16, 2019 on a separate show from the card in Herstal. Ngabu vs. Nielsen is taking place at the Sporthal Schiervelde in West-Vlaanderen with the card also featuring WBF women’s junior welterweight champion Oshin Derieuw against an opponent to be named at a later date.

- Former interim WBA cruiserweight title challenger Ryad Merhy and Samuel Clarkson are ready to headline a show at Haianut on December 15 for the vacant WBA International cruiserweight title. A win for Merhy could potentially put him in line for a WBA world title shot in 2020 as the numerous WBA championships at 200 pounds is in disarray. Merhy, ranked No. 3 by the WBA, probably won’t sniff a world title shot until undisputed champion Oleksandr Usyk vacates his titles to move up to heavyweight and the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament concludes.

United Kingdom:

- There has been a couple of changes to the December 15 Queensbury Promotions card in Essex, England. The first is regarding the Sunny Edwards vs. Junior Granados fight. The fight was originally supposed to be for the WBC International super flyweight title, but it will now be for the WBO Intercontinental title. It should be noted that Boxrec lists the fight for the WBO European title, so there’s no telling which side is true, but one thing is for certain and that is a WBO regional title will be on the line. The card is taking place in Essex, England with BT Sport broadcasting the fight in the U.K. while ESPN+ owns the broadcast rights in the United States.

- The other change is that rising star Daniel Dubois has withdrawn from his fight against Razvan Cojanu from illness.

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