Fightful Boxing Newsletter (1/30/2020): Canelo Alvarez's Future, State Of The Heavyweights, More

Fightful Boxing Newsletter (1/30/2020) Table Of Contents:

Henry Cejudo Calls Out Alexander Volkanovski: "I Will Knock This Dude Out In Less Than Three Rounds"
  1. Canelo Alvarez vs. Ryota Murata: Is It Possible? More On Canelo's Future (Page 1)
  2. State Of The Heavyweight Division In 2020 (Page 2)
  3. Update On Various WBO Title Situations (Page 3)
  4. Jose Ramirez vs. Viktor Postol Canceled (Page 4)
  5. Alejandra Jimenez Fails Drug Test (Page 5)
  6. Fightful Boxing Rankings (Page 6-7)

Canelo Alvarez vs. Ryota Murata: Is It Possible? More On Canelo's Future

With Canelo Alvarez now looking for legacy fights and matchups that will further cement his status as an all-time great and global star, a number of names have emerged as potential candidates for his next fight, including Billy Joe Saunders, Callum Smith and Ryota Murata.

For those who don’t know who Murata is, he is the WBA’s “Regular” middleweight champion and a superstar in Japan, drawing viewership numbers for his fight domestically that virtually no other boxer in the world could possibly match with their home country. Outside of Japan, Murata isn’t really followed too much aside from hardcore boxing fans and Top Rank Boxing followers. Plus, he’s typically not regarded as a top five middleweight.

So why is it that the Alvarez camp seem so willing to meet up with Murata’s camp in order to make a fight where Alvarez would be the one traveling to Japan sometime this spring?

On the surface, that may seem far fetched given how Alvarez’s immediate future will more than likely involve a fight at super middleweight next and the fact that Murata is promoted by Top Rank. The issue, to some, isn’t that Murata’s American promoter is Top Rank, but it’s the fact that Matchroom Boxing and DAZN has so many other boxers for Canelo to fight that would seemingly be easier to make such as Gennadiy Golovkin, Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders, Demetrius Andrade and John Ryder to name a few.

But when you peel off the promotional layers of the parties involved, making that fight isn’t as difficult as one would think. It is true that Murata’s American promoter is Top Rank Boxing, but his Japanese promoter is Akihiko Honda of Teiken Promotions. That name does ring a bell to followers of Golden Boy Promotions because Teiken is the Japanese promoter of Jorge Linares, whose American promoter is Golden Boy. There’s also the history that Top Rank, Golden Boy and Teiken share from 2018 when Linares fought Vasiliy Lomachenko in the main event of an ESPN-televised card at Madison Square Garden.

Those three promotional bodies are the same ones that would be in play for Alvarez vs. Murata. The possibilities of that fight happening at some point in the future are further strengthened by an interview Alvarez did with DAZN while in Saudi Arabia for the Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Anthony Joshua 2 fight in December. In that interview, Alvarez mentioned how he would like to potentially fight in Japan one day and although he didn’t mention Murata by name, one can imagine who Alvarez was referencing when talking about fighting in Japan.

State Of The Heavyweight Division In 2020:

The biggest question of the heavyweight division in 2020 depends solely on what you are expecting (and hoping) for the year.

One year ago, boxing was awaiting a fight between WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury while Anthony Joshua stands as the unified WBA, WBO and IBF champion with the hope of the Wilder vs. Fury winner possibly facing Joshua down the line.

Now, kicking off 2020, we are still in the exact same spot when it comes to the division’s top three stars.

Wilder and Fury are finally going to have their long-awaited rematch on February 22 and Joshua is coming off a dominant win over Andy Ruiz Jr. in Saudi Arabia last month to recapture his three world titles.

Right now, the division’s top two stars are Joshua and whoever comes out on top in the Wilder vs. Fury rematch. For American boxing fans, that superfight between Joshua and Wilder, one that has eluded us for years and one that many believe would truly get boxing back in the good graces of mainstream sports culture in the United States, is still the top fight to make. If Fury ends up winning the rematch, then Joshua vs. Fury would be a true, once-in-a-generation mega attraction for British boxing fans given both fighters’ immense popularity in the United Kingdom.

While believing in Joshua vs. Wilder/Fury being the best fight in the heavyweight division today is all well and good, actually expecting it to happen this year is another story entirely.

For starters, the idea that Wilder and Fury are going to be done with each other once and for all after their fight in February, regardless of who comes out on top, is one that really doesn’t hold much weight.

Joshua, on the other hand, practically has his hands full with 2020 given the semi-complicated situation that he has when it comes to his mandatory challengers. As the holder of the WBA, WBO and IBF titles, Joshua will have to fulfill mandatory title defenses against the top contender of each organization or else risk losing that respective heavyweight title.

The WBA seems content on perhaps never enforcing any mandatory given its multiple “world” titles that might not be resolved in 2020. The WBO and IBF, however, do have their own mandatory challengers in Oleksandr Usyk and Kubrat Pulev, respectively.

As for the rest of the heavyweight division’s contenders, there are several that deserve to be highlighted as potential dark horses:

Adam Kownacki: The unbeaten Polish heavyweight has been slowly making his way up the rankings while primarily fighting in his boxing home of Brooklyn, New York. Kownacki is coming off a win against Chris Arreola on FOX last August, a fight that was supremely entertaining for the seemingly endless action. While it appeared at first that he was going to capitalize on that moment with a fight against Dominic Breazeale, Kownacki will instead face Robert Helenius on March 7 in another FOX main event. Sure, that fight is much less appealing on paper than the Breazeale fight, there’s no question PBC and FOX see something in Kownacki as a future WBC heavyweight title contender. This year may not be the year Kownacki fights for a world title, but it will undoubtedly be the year he will get far more exposure to a national audience than any other year in his pro career.

Michael Hunter: There’s a reason some (including this author) looked at Hunter as a dark horse contender in the heavyweight division. He’s looked solid since moving up from cruiserweight, gave Usyk some trouble at times in their WBO cruiserweight title fight back in 2017 and is someone who promoter Eddie Hearn believes is someone that can be built and promoted into a legitimate world title contender. His last fight saw him fight Alexander Povetkin (who is still a top 20 heavyweight) to a draw last December in Saudi Arabia. It’s hard to see this as Hunter’s finest performance, but coming out of that fight with a draw doesn’t take him out of the 2021 title conversation entirely. Hunter might have to fight Povetkin once more and a win against him and another top 20 heavyweight this year in order to be on the shortlist of fighters that could challenge Joshua in 2021. In the meantime, Hunter could also potentially fight any of the secondary WBA heavyweight titlists in Mahmoud Charr and Trevor Bryan.

Andy Ruiz Jr.: For as bad as Ruiz looked against Joshua in December, the fact that he still beat him the first time around last June will be something that stays with him for the rest of his career. Ruiz will get big fights, he will get main event bouts, he will get paid well fighting for some time. Although there is a proposal from Hearn over possibly fighting Whyte next, there’s no guarantee that’s going to happen. Ruiz could remain fighting on Showtime or FOX and work his way up towards potential bouts against the likes of Kownacki or even Wilder if the stars align. It’s hard to envision Ruiz being world champion once again, but it would be disingenuous to completely dismiss him at this moment, especially with a sport as chaotic and unpredictable as boxing.

Mahmoud Charr/Trevor Bryan: The only reason why they are included on this list is because of the belts that they each carry. Charr holds the WBA’s “Regular” title and Bryan holds the interim belt. It should be noted that virtually every person that is even aware of that fact does not even consider them as world champions nor should they. But the fact of the matter is that holding those belts does mean something in the long run because they could (in theory) eventually try to weasel its way to a potential shot at the current WBA “Super” champion (Joshua). Will it happen? Extremely unlikely. The two main reasons are that the WBA no longer appear interested in eliminating its multiple “world” titles per weight class as well as Charr and Bryan being stuck in limbo as they try to secure a fight between each other, a fight that was ordered nearly 12 months ago. It should also be noted that Charr has not fought since November 2017 and Bryan has not fought since August 2018 and the idea that they still hold titles to this day is laughable.

Update On Various WBO Title Situations:

The WBO has taken steps to crown a new light heavyweight champion by proposing a four-man tournament.

The governing body has ordered two title eliminators among its four highest-ranked contenders to face each other. On one side, former super middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez was ordered to fight former light heavyweight champion Eleider Alvarez and the other title eliminator was Umar Salamov vs. Maxim Vlasov. The winners of both fights would then have to fight each other to crown a new champion.

All four fighters for both fights have 24 hours from January 21 to tell the WBO they are willing to participate in the title eliminators and 15 days to come to terms to a deal or else a purse bid will be issued. Any purse bid that is made for any of the two WBO light heavyweight title eliminators will have a minimum bid of $300,000.

The last champion was Canelo Alvarez, who took the belt from Sergey Kovalev with an 11th-round knockout victory in November. Prior to that, Kovalev won the belt from Alvarez in February 2019, avenging his loss to Alvarez who beat Kovalev in August 2018.

Alvarez is coming off a seventh-round knockout win over Michael Seals on January 18 in the main event of a Top Rank on ESPN card from Verona, New York. Ramirez, who held the WBO super middleweight title from 2016 to 2019, fought as a light heavyweight in his last bout this past April when he beat Tommy Karpency.

Salamov, the WBO's No. 2 light heavyweight and International titleholder, has won his last six bouts after suffering his first career defeat at the hands of Damien Hooper. Vlasov competed in the second season of the World Boxing Super Series, fighting in the cruiserweight tournament but lost to Krzysztof Glowacki in the quarterfinals back in 2018. Since then, Vlasov moved down to light heavyweight, where he has won all three of his fights.

The other major WBO title that saw a big announcement in regards to creating a new champion is the cruiserweight belt, which already has a title eliminator, but no actual champion.

The WBO has officially ordered a cruiserweight title eliminator between Dilan Prasovic and Edin Puhalo. Parties have 15 days as of January 22 to negotiate a deal or else a purse bid will be issues. Should a purse bid, the minimum bid to win the rights to the fight is $300,000. The winner of Prasovic vs. Puhalo would be in line for a WBO cruiserweight title shot but against who remains the question. Krzysztof Glowacki and Lawrence Okolie are linked to a potential fight for the vacant belt, but there hasn't been anything concrete as far as fight dates are concerned.

A source from the WBO did tell me that Glowacki and Okolie are likely headed for the undercard of the eventual Gennadiy Golovkin vs. Kamil Szeremeta fight that is being planned in the coming months. Originally, the Golovkin vs. Szeremeta fight was earmarked for March 28 in Chicago, but that will likely get pushed for April given that Golden Boy Promotions is having a card featuring Vergil Ortiz Jr. in late March as well.

But the bigger question regarding the vacant WBO cruiserweight title is what happens after a new champion is crowned, whomever it is. The WBO revealed that the winner of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight final between Mairis Briedis and Yuniel Dorticos for the IBF world title does have the ability to request a title unification. Should that happen, the WBSS winner's request to fight for the WBO title does take precedence over the Prasovic vs. Puhalo winner.


A few weeks back, the WBO has announced that Tanaka, the organization's flyweight world champion, has been designated as the WBO "Super Champion," an honor given to a champion for fulfilling certain criteria during their run as champion or in their pro career.

With Tanaka being named the "Super Champion," he does have the ability to petition to the WBO to be named the mandatory challenger for the world title in the next weight up or down, which in Tanaka's case, would be the super flyweight title. The current WBO super flyweight champion is four-division titlist Kazuto Ioka.

At just 24 years old, Tanaka has already accomplished much in his 15-fight career. Starting out as a minimumweight, Tanaka won the WBO 105-pound title in 2014 in just his fifth pro fight. He would go on to win the WBO light flyweight title two years later in his eighth pro fight and then followed it up with a WBO flyweight title win over Sho Kimura in 2018. Tanaka is coming off a third-round knockout win over Wulan Tuolehazi on December 31 to retain the title.

Now, should Tanaka make the jump to super flyweight and vacate his flyweight belt, the WBO would then more than likely have to order a fight to crown a new champion. In most cases, the two highest-ranked available contenders would be ordered to fight for the vacant title. The two highest-ranked flyweights from the WBO top 15 are Giemel Magramo and Angel Acosta at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Following those two in the rankings are Junto Nakatani at No. 3 and Mirco Martin at No. 4.

This isn't the first time that a WBO champion has been given that designation in the past year. Two recent examples of such are former undisputed cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk, who would use his "Super Champion" to become the mandatory challenger and No. 1 contender for the WBO heavyweight title held by Anthony Joshua, and Claressa Shields who became the "Super Champion" last July. Shields, the undisputed middleweight champion, won the WBO junior middleweight title along with the WBC title on January 10.

In other WBO-related news, minimumweight world champion Wilfredo Mendez will defend his title against Gabriel Mendoza February 8 in Panama City, Panama on a card billed as the "WBO Tournament of Champions." Orlando Peñalba vs. Keiver Fernandez for the vacant WBO Latino super flyweight belt is on the undercard.

Jose Ramirez vs. Viktor Postol Canceled:

Jose Ramirez will have to wait a while longer before he gets his first fight as the unified junior welterweight champion.

Ramirez was supposed to defend his WBC and WBO world titles against mandatory challenger Viktor Postol on a Top Rank card from Mission Hills in Haikou, China, airing live on February 1 in the United States (February 2 in China). However, that fight has gone up in smoke due to the recent coronavirus that has hit China in recent weeks.

Top Rank announced the fight has been postponed to avoid any potential health risks that comes with flying in China. The fight is likely going to be rescheduled in the coming weeks in a new location.

“The health and safety of our fighters and everyone working on the event is the most important thing. We hope the situation is brought under control soon. We look forward to staging events at Mission Hills Haikou in the very near future,” Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum said in a press release.

According to the Washington Post, there are more than 830 confirmed cases of infection, and at least 26 people have died. A total of 8,420 people are reported to be under observation. There has also been at least two confirmed cases in the United States.

The fight was going to be Ramirez's second in China in five years, but first as the headlining act. Arum, who has a long history of promoting world title fights outside the United States, said he first thought of bringing Ramirez to fight in Haikou when the promoter was approached by China about staging an event there.

Prior to the fight's cancelation, Arum told Fightful in a media conference call that he wanted to showcase Ramirez to the world as a great person and fighter in a similar manner that Arum did with various fights he promoted for Muhammad Ali.

"You have to go back to my history when I started out as a boxing promoter, I was just in the Muhammad Ali business. I promoted 20 Muhammad Ali fights and 40 percent of those fights took place outside of the United States, whether it would be Asia, Japan, Europe, the United Kingdom. It was all over the world because if you get a great person and a great fighter, you want to show him more around the world. I believe in Jose Ramirez, and I'm not comparing him to the great Muhammad Ali who is unique, but so is Jose. He is a man who not only is a tremendous fighter, but epitomizes the American dream when you look at his history, how his family worked in the fields and how he worked in the fields as a young child, and to have this drive to be active in his community. That is special and that is why I take someone like Jose and not just have him in the United States but show him around the world, show what a great country the United States is and what a great person Jose is," Arum told Fightful.

Ramirez became the unified champion this past summer when he defeated Maurice Hooker to unified the WBC and WBO titles. Ramirez hoped to get a fight before the end of the year, but Ramirez needed surgery on his left hand two weeks after the fight, delaying his in-ring return.

The 27-year-old Ramirez had hoped to get the fight against Postol over with so he can focus on a potential fight against WBO mandatory challenger Jack Catterall next to then clear the way for a fight against Josh Taylor, who holds the WBA and IBF titles. Taylor, who signed with Top Rank recently, has his own potential mandatory challengers to deal with but a unification bout between Ramirez and Taylor would crown an undisputed junior welterweight champion, the first since Terence Crawford back in 2017.

Alejandra Jimenez Fails Drug Test:

Newly-crowned WBC and WBO super middleweight champion Alejandra Jimenez has tested positive for a banned substance.

The WBC revealed that VADA, which handled the testing for her fight against Franchon Crews-Dezurn from January 11, has found an adverse finding from a test conducted on Jimenez.

It was later revealed that the banned substance was the anabolic steroid stanozolol. Jimenez would go on to deny that she took any illegal drugs in a statement written in Spanish.

Golden Boy Promotions, who promotes Crews-Dezurn, sent out a statement sharing its disappointment of the news and that it will look to get the WBC and WBO to reinstate Crews-Dezurn as champion.

"It is extremely unfortunate to learn that WBC and WBO super middleweight world champion Alejandra Jimenez has tested positive for banned substances after her title fight with Franchon Crews-Dezurn on January 11. As Franchon's promoter, we are incredibly disappointed for her as she worked incredibly hard to defend her titles. However, our job is to ensure the safety of our fighters both inside and outside of the ring. Thus, we have always insisted and supported testing through the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) for all of our world championship fights. Jimenez's fight against Franchon Crews-Dezurn is no exception. Now our job is to find justice for Franchon by working closely with the WBC and the WBO in order to re-instate her as a world champion."

Jimenez, a former WBC heavyweight champion, won the bout against Crews-Dezurn by split decision (97-93, 93-97, 98-92) as part of a DAZN card that was headlined by Jaime Munguia's middleweight debut against Gary "Spike" O'Sullivan.

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. Anthony Joshua
  4. Oleksandr Usyk
  5. Dillian Whyte
  6. Joseph Parker
  7. Luis Ortiz
  8. Andy Ruiz Jr.
  9. Kubrat Pulev
  10. Michael Hunter

Cruiserweight

  1. Beibut Shumenov
  2. Mairis Briedis
  3. Yuniel Dorticos
  4. Krzysztof Glowacki
  5. Kevin Lerena
  6. Ilunga Makabu
  7. Lawrence Okolie
  8. Noel Gevor
  9. Arsen Goulamirian
  10. Michael Cieslak

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

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. Lionell Thompson
  9. Avni Yildirim
  10. Caleb Truax

Middleweight

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

Junior middleweight

  1. Jermell Charlo
  2. Jarrett Hurd
  3. Tony Harrison
  4. Erislandy Lara
  5. Jeison Rosario
  6. Julian Williams
  7. Brian Castano
  8. Patrick Teixeira
  9. Liam Smith
  10. Sergio Garcia

Welterweight

  1. Terrence Crawford
  2. Errol Spence Jr.
  3. Manny Pacquiao
  4. Keith Thurman
  5. Shawn Porter
  6. Danny Garcia
  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. Gervonta Davis
  3. Teofimo Lopez
  4. Richard Commey
  5. Robert Easter Jr.
  6. Devin Haney
  7. Luke Campbell
  8. Anthony Crolla
  9. Rances Barthelemy
  10. Zaur Abdullaev

Super featherweight

  1. Miguel Berchelt
  2. Leo Santa Cruz
  3. Tevin Farmer
  4. Jamel Herring
  5. Oscar Valdez
  6. Carl Frampton
  7. Rene Alvarado
  8. Andrew Cancio
  9. Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov

  10. Joseph Diaz Jr.

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. John Riel Casimero
  3. Nonito Donaire
  4. Zolani Tete
  5. Nordine Oubaali
  6. Emmanuel Rodriguez
  7. Juan Carlos Payano
  8. Jason Moloney
  9. Richard Espinoza

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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