Fightful Boxing Newsletter (4/16/2020): Where Do Things Stand With Boxing? Will WWE Be Involved?

Fightful Boxing Newsletter (4/16/2020) Table Of Contents:

  1. Where Do We Stand With Boxing (Pages 1-2)
  2. Deep Dive Into Each Weight Class: Heavyweights (Page 3)
  3. Fightful Boxing Rankings (Pages 4-5)
Bellator 258: Archuleta vs. Pettis Results: Bantamweight Championship Bout & Anthony Johnson Debuts!

Where Do We Stand With Boxing?

For weeks, many were starting to get the impression that boxing’s current hiatus as a result of the ongoing situation regarding COVID-19, but now there is optimism surrounding the sport’s potential return in the United States.

Just days after the state of Florida issued an executive order that deemed not just WWE part of an essential service, but all employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience. This meant that any potential sports entity, in this case a promotional entity such as Top Rank Boxing, could theoretically find a way to resume boxing later this year.

Days ago, WWE was given the green light to resume airing live episodes of Raw and SmackDown from the WWE Performance Center. An April 9 memo from the governor's office had recent additions to the list of "essential services" in Florida that include "employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience -- including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production -- only if the location is closed to the general public."

With that in mind, Arum could potentially use that memo as a way to return to doing live boxing shows later this year. Talking to ESPN, Arum said he might talk to WWE and see if it is at all possible to use their facilities to stage boxing cards with no fans allowed to enter, noting the relationship he has with Vince McMahon and WWE. However, Arum noted that if something were to come to fruition between both sides, don't expect anything to happen before June.

"It's very, very interesting, and we're going to be in touch with them. There's a possibility to use their facility to maybe do events without a crowd. We're very close with Vince [McMahon] and the WWE. So let's see, but we're still not talking before June. We haven't had a lot of new content since the middle of March. Here we are in the middle of April, and if people are being told to stay closer to the house, it sure does help to have some fresh things to be able to do," Arum said.

Several boxing shows promoted by Top Rank have been affected as a result, with fighters such as Tyson Fury, Vasiliy Lomachenko, Teofimo Lopez Naoya Inoue, Jose Ramirez, Andrew & Jason Moloney among others set to fight in the coming months. Not too mention Top Rank guys like WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford were close to having a fight

In regards to Fury, who is earmarked for a trilogy fight against Deontay Wilder, and other major fights, Arum noted that those types of shows are not happening until fans are allowed to attend events, which is understandable given the seven figure loss in the live gate for some of those fights, especially Fury’s likely third fight against Wilder and Lomachenko’s lightweight title unification against Lopez.

"Those are either going to have to wait till you have spectators, or if the fighters get antsy, they will have to deal with an adjustment in their purses because you will have cut off an important revenue source from the event. For example, [Tyson] Fury and [Deontay] Wilder, the gate was close to $17 million, and that's from the public buying tickets to the fight. How do you replace that? Well, if you don't replace it -- then somebody has to eat that," Arum said.

Of course, this should be taken with the biggest grain of salt given the unpredictable nature of this situation, which changes almost on an hourly basis. More often than not, boxing companies from all over the world have been very cautious in regards to scheduling shows.

As far as the boxers are concerned, there are two schools of thought when it comes to empty arena shows, regardless of WWE's involvement. Those against empty arena shows, or at least major fights at empty arenas, argue that not only is there a massive financial loss to not having events producing seven, sometimes eight-figure live gates, but that championship fights shouldn't be fought in those types of environments in the first place.

Not to mention the fact that you can take every precaution imaginable when it comes to staging these empty arena shows, but if you have two fighters in the same ring, with a referee in between them, there will always be a risk of someone getting hit with the virus. It should also be noted that the WWE Performance Center is in Florida, which has been one of the states hit hardest by COVID-19 with more than 22,000 confirmed cases, and likely more when factoring in those who are dealing with COVID-19, but haven't been tested to confirm that.

While there is a lot of truth to the business and health aspects to that argument, championship fights being held with virtually no fans in attendance isn't exactly unheard of. There was a small period between late 2018 and early 2019 where there were multiple world title fights in the United States that were un-televised and took place after the main event. One particular case was the IBF minimumweight title between Carlos Licona and Mark Anthony Barrega that took place after the first Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury fight in Los Angeles in 2018 and there were only perhaps a handful of spectators that were present.

Even if it is a for a title at minimumweight (a weight class with virtually no following in the United States), the concept of world title fights being contested without fans isn't something that hasn't been done (even if it was not intentional).

The argument for empty arena shows being made are to give boxers an opportunity to fight and make money while providing new content for those sitting at home. Of course, many boxers who want to do everything in their power to make these fights happen also would like to be assured that every precaution has been made in order to ensure minimal risk.

Even top boxers are in favor of doing these types of shows just to be able to get out there and fighters. WBA "Regular" super flyweight champion Andrew Moloney and top bantamweight contender Jason Moloney, both of whom signed with Top Rank months ago and were in line for massive world title fights if they had won their respective fights that were taking place in April, told Fightful they would be in favor of fighting in empty arena shows if given the chance.

"It's a difficult one. Were fighters and we want to fight. Were training hard and as soon as we have the green light to go, we're going to jump at it. I'm open to that,"Jason said.

"Sign me up as well," Andrew said.

The Top Rank/WWE dynamic is interesting and there has been some collaboration between the two, even if it was an indirect collaboration. Fury, who is promoted by Top Rank as well as Frank Warren's Queensberry Promotions, did appear on WWE programming in 2019 after his fight against Otto Wallin and even had a short feud with current Universal Champion Braun Strowman that resulted in a match between the two in Saudi Arabia.

Even if its small, that alone could get the ball rolling in getting both sides to talk. WWE might even be willing to help out Top Rank if WWE were to receive some type of cut as the company is currently going through layoffs in order to save up on roughly $4 million per month.

Again, it should be noted that such shows are still unlikely to happen in this current climate in the next few months, but it does give a glimpse as to what some of the top boxing promotions are thinking about when it comes to running shows once again.

Where Do We Stand With Boxing?

With many shows being canceled or postpone, it's easy to get lost and miss out on how certain promotions have been responding to COVID-19. For those that have not been able to fully keep up with every company or entity, here is the latest on most major promotional companies:

World Boxing Super Series:

As expected, the cruiserweight finals between Yuniel Dorticos and Mairis Briedis, scheduled for May 16 in Riga, Latvia, is no longer happening. This comes days after the Latvian government extended its quarantine and containment issues through May 12 which would have made the fight impossible to make given that Dorticos would likely not have been able to travel halfway around the world in time to be able to get ready for fight week.

One does have to feel bad for the fighters involved, especially Dorticos. Realistically, this fight should have happened in November/December but the issues between Briedis and Krzysztof Glowacki surround their controversial semifinal bout. What should have been a fairly simple solution of Briedis vacating the WBO title immediately so that he can be freed up to fight Dorticos in the finals dragged on for months and forced the fight to be rescheduled for March.

Once lockdowns, quarantines and curfew were being announced all over the world, it was only a matter of time before the fight set for March would also be affected. Now that the fight has been indefinitely called off, don’t expect any announcement regarding the fight for a very long time. The more likely scenario would be for the entire situation in Europe to calm down and travel bans to be done with before all parties involved in the fight negotiate a new date for the bout. It’s entirely possible we get to see both of these guys fight in the finals in 2021, ending an eight-man, three-round tournament that began in 2018.

Top Rank:

As previously mentioned, Top Rank isn’t holding any shows in the coming months, which is a huge blow to their schedule because they were set to have huge main event bouts. To name a few: Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder (originally scheduled for June, then October, now unknown), Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez (the fight wasn’t finalized but it was heavily implied it was taking place in May at Madison Square Garden), Naoya Inoue vs. John Riel Casimero (a three-title bantamweight unification in Las Vegas set for early April that had Fight of the Year potential).

Top Rank could theoretically strike some type of deal with WWE to use its facilities in Florida to hold empty arena shows, but don’t expect such a show (if it ever does happen) to take place until late summer/fall at the absolute earliest.

Golden Boy Promotions:

Even though Golden Boy Promotions didn’t have Canelo Alvarez’s next fight secured, it was reported that he was set to fight WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders in Las Vegas on May 2. This fight isn’t one many were too high on, but it was planned to be the start of a build towards a third fight against Gennadiy Golovkin, a fight that DAZN has been desperately trying to make as soon as it signed both Alvarez and Golovkin. Aside from an Anthony Joshua vs. Tyson Fury/Deontay Wilder fight (assuming it would have landed on DAZN, which is nowhere near close to a guarantee), Alvarez vs. Golovkin 3 was the biggest fight to sell to potential subscribers.

They did have another relatively big card on April 25 headlined by Sergey Kovalev vs. Sullivan Barrera. Even though that main event isn’t big, the intrigue surrounding this show was supposed to be the rest of the card. Patrick Teixeira was supposed to defend his WBO junior middleweight title against Brian Castano, Rene Alvarado was going to fight Roger Gutierrez for the WBA “Regular” super featherweight title, WBC minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (whose pro record is 53-0) was going to defend his belt against Marco Remntizo and IBF light flyweight champion Felix Alvarado was going to fight DeeJay Kriel. In addition, that card was supposed to feature Diego De La Hoya, Shane Mosley Jr. and Alberto Machado in separate fights.

Golden Boy Promotions also had shows on March 19 and 28 that were originally set to take place in California, but in early March, the state announced that all combat sporting events and large gatherings that included 250 people or more through the end of the month should be postponed or canceled. Given the escalating problems surrounding COVID-19, Golden Boy Promotions decided to call off all of its shows.

PBC:

Around the same time Golden Boy Promotions canceled its March shows, PBC did the same thing regarding all events taking place in March and April. While PBC didn’t have a major event like a Canelo Alvarez fight between those two fights, there were some interesting fights that were called off.

Luis Nery was going to fight Aaron Alameda on March 28 in Las Vegas and Otto Wallin (who gave Tyson Fury a nasty cut in their fight last September) would have gone up against Lucas Browne. The April 11 show from Minneapolis was supposed to be headlined by Jamal James vs. Thomas Dulorme as well as David Morrell Jr. vs. Lennox Allen. On April 18, WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez was supposed to defend his title against Alexis Angulo on a Showtime card and Alberto Puello was set to face Rances Barthelemy on the undercard.

PBC has also thought about running empty arena shows, or at least events in a studio setting. According to a report from Mike Coppinger, one option being explored for PBC on FOX fights is the use of the Fox Studio Lot in Los Angeles. However, those talks are extremely early and there is no guarantee those talks progress into anything concrete.

Matchroom Boxing:

Matchroom Boxing might be the most optimistic boxing company out there right in regards to its schedule because it currently has three fight dates scheduled for June and July. As with any fight dates that are currently out there, it’s best to not assume those dates are final.

Regardless, the June 27 show in Newcastle is scheduled to be headlined by Lewis Ritson vs. Miguel Vazquez, the July 4 show by Dillian Whyte vs. Alexander Povetkin (with Katie Taylor vs. Amanda Serrano on the card as well) and July 11 by Lee Selby vs. George Kambosos Jr.

However, not even they were immune to having shows canceled or postponed. Their lone U.S. show that was affected was the April 17 card in Maryland that was going to be headlined by Regis Prograis vs. Maurice Hooker with Cecilia Braekhus vs. Jessica McCaskill and Daniyar Yeleussinov vs. Julius Indongo among other fights taking place on the undercard.

As far as shows in the United Kingdom are concerned, former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk was going to fight Derek Chisora on May 23 in London while EBU European welterweight champion David Avanesyan was supposed to fight Josh Kelly on March 28 also in London.

The biggest fight that was postponed, however, was the Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev fight for the unified WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight world titles set for June 20 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. No new date was mentioned, but it will probably be among the last of the Matchroom Boxing shows to get rescheduled simply because it will be a fight that will more than likely draw at least 50,000 people and that’s an environment that can’t be secured until the entire situation with COVID-19 gets dealt with, travel bans are lifted and large gatherings of any capacity are fully allowed.

Queensberry Promotions:

There is only one show on its schedule and it's a fairly important show for the two fighters in the main event. Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois are currently scheduled to fight for the EBU European heavyweight title on July 11 at the O2 in London. The two are among the heavyweight division’s brightest prospects who have been on a bit of a collision course for some time.

Dubois’ career has been an interesting one up to this point as he has effectively made it his mission to collect every single possible regional or domestic belt that he can before focusing towards working his way up to a world title (some titles that he’s won include the WBC Silver, WBO International, Commonwealth, British, WBO Global and WBO European belts).

Joyce, on the other hand, has been paired up with veterans and former world champions as opponents and in just 10 pro bouts, Joyce already owns wins against the likes of Bermane Stiverne, Bryant Jennings, Bermane Stiverne and Iago Kiladze. Joyce is the one who probably needs this win more given that he’s 34 years old while Dubois is just 22 years old.

DAZN:

While not a promotional company per se, the streaming platform has virtually written blind checks to everyone from Matchroom Boxing to Golden Boy Promotions to Gennadiy Golovkin to Canelo Alvarez and more to make sure that boxing becomes a big selling point to generate new subscribers.

In a vacuum, having 800,000 to 900,000 subscribers (the range that some have reported a few months ago) in the United States with boxing being the focal point in less than two years is a solid number. But when you add in the amount of money being thrown to generate boxing content ($1 billion to Matchroom Boxing over eight years plus a five-year deal for Alvarez worth more than $300 million to name a couple of deals), not reaching a million subscribers in the United States makes the platform almost unsustainable in the long run.

DAZN, which did surpass eight million global subscribers months ago, has been hit hard by COVID-19. Since there is no live boxing for at least a couple of months, expect a lot of subscribers who paying a monthly fee instead of a yearly fee to cancel their subscriptions. The streaming platform will have an incredibly hard time recouping whatever losses in subscribers that they are experiencing and unless they can secure a fight like Alvarez vs. Golovkin 3 or Anthony Joshua vs. Tyson Fury, it's hard to imagine everyone who canceled their subscription to come back.

Deep Dive Into Boxing’s Weight Class (Part 1): Heavyweight:

Current Beltholders:

  • Anthony Joshua: WBA “Super,” WBO, IBF
  • Tyson Fury: WBC
  • Mahmoud Charr: WBA “Regular”

Contenders:

  • Deontay Wilder
  • Andy Ruiz Jr.
  • Dillian Whyte
  • Kubrat Pulev
  • Oleksandr Usyk
  • Robert Helenius
  • Joseph Parker
  • Luis Ortiz
  • Oscar Rivas
  • Michael Hunter

Prospects On The Rise:

  • Filip Hrgovic
  • Daniel Dubois
  • Joe Joyce
  • Otto Wallin
  • Tony Yoka

One Fighter To Watch Out For: Oleksandr Usyk

In the post-Klitschko era of the heavyweight division, the biggest fight in the division was always Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder for the undisputed heavyweight titles, but that is no longer the case, at least for the moment. After a dominant win over Wilder in February, Tyson Fury currently sits as the division’s top dog, even if he only holds one belt (WBC) while Joshua holds the other three (WBA, WBO and IBF).

Now, the obvious fight to make is Fury vs. Joshua but even if boxing were to return in the coming months, it’s not a fight that’s likely to be made next. The main reason is because both fighters will have to do deal with rematches and mandatory challengers next.

Fury had already been locked up for a third fight against Wilder that was originally set to take place in the summer but then changed to October. Currently, there is no set date for the fight and it's unlikely we see a confirmed date until after the summer is over at least.

Same goes for Joshua’s fight against mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. That fight, which had the potential to fill the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with more 60,000 people in attendance, now sits in limbo after its planned July fight date was postponed. What happens after those two fights are done (assuming Fury and Joshua can retain their belts) is a complete mystery.

Even if the division’s two titleholders don’t fight immediately, the rest of the division has been slowly taking shape with a growing list of viable contenders that could challenge for a title down the road.

The one dark horse that could crash the entire division is Oleksandr Usyk, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion who has been looking for a fight against Joshua for a world title for quite some time. While Usyk hasn’t exactly set the division on fire after his debut against Chazz Witherspoon, his natural abilities and technical mastery will always make a potential threat to everyone in the division.

There’s also Dillian Whyte, the interim WBC heavyweight titleholder who has been awaiting a title opportunity for years and a rematch against Joshua. Aside from a fight against Wilder or Fury, Whyte would be the biggest fight in the UK for Joshua. Whyte is currently set to fight former Joshua opponent Alexander Povetkin and if Whyte can emerge victorious, he would be potentially in line to fight for Fury’s WBC world title, a fight that could happen if Fury vs. Joshua doesn’t happen.

Some of the other notable fighters that still can fit into the title picture down the road include Robert Helenius, who got a major win over previously-unbeaten fighter Adam Kownacki in early March, former unified champion Andy Ruiz Jr. and the winner of the Daniel Dubois vs. Joe Joyce fight taking place in July. Though the winner of that fight wasn’t exactly going to have a title shot next, the winner would join Filip Hrgovic as the prospects most ready to take on world-ranked contenders sooner rather than later.

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. Tyson Fury

Heavyweight

  1. Tyson Fury
  2. Anthony Joshua
  3. Deontay Wilder
  4. Oleksandr Usyk
  5. Dillian Whyte
  6. Andy Ruiz Jr.
  7. Joseph Parker
  8. Luis Ortiz
  9. Kubrat Pulev
  10. Michael Hunter

Cruiserweight

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

Light heavyweight

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

Super middleweight

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

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. Yordenis Ugas
  8. Sergey Lipinets
  9. Mikey Garcia
  10. David Avanesyan

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. Jose Zepeda
  10. Viktor Postol

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. Joseph Diaz Jr.
  4. Jamel Herring
  5. Oscar Valdez
  6. Carl Frampton
  7. Tevin Farmer
  8. Rene Alvarado
  9. Andrew Cancio
  10. Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov

Featherweight

  1. Josh Warrington
  2. Gary Russell Jr.
  3. Shakur Stevenson
  4. Xu Can
  5. TJ Doheny
  6. Tugstsogt Nyambayar
  7. Kid Galahad
  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. Nordine Oubaali
  5. Guillermo Rigondeaux
  6. Zolani Tete
  7. Emmanuel Rodriguez
  8. Juan Carlos Payano
  9. Jason Moloney
  10. Richard Espinoza

Super Flyweight

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

Flyweight

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

Light flyweight/Minimumweight

  1. Wanheng Menayothin
  2. Hiroto Kyoguchi
  3. Kenshiro Teraji
  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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