Fightful Boxing Newsletter (5/23): Wilder vs. Breazeale Results, Boxing In 2020 Olympics, Naoya Inoue

Deontay Wilder vs. Dominic Breazeale Results:

Deontay Wilder scored perhaps the biggest knockout win of his career when he landed a right hand to Dominic Breazeale in the first round of their WBC heavyweight title fight on May 18.

UFC Vegas 41: Costa vs. Vettori Weigh-In Results

Its significance comes not from the opponent because Breazeale isn’t Wilder’s best win, but in the manner in which it was done and in the way it has overtaken social media and further kindled the demand for a fight between the three biggest heavyweight stars today (Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury and Wilder).

The fight, or at least the two minutes that both men were in the ring, garnered a ton of attention online with multiple clips getting millions of views (including one from CBS that has been viewed on Twitter at least 10 million times).

It certainly is good for Wilder’s case that he not only got the big knockout win over Breazeale, but also be the first of the three heavyweights to have their big fight this summer. The crowd in America could likely be more sympathetic to their own heavyweight who has been asking for those big fights, even though, in reality, all three heavyweights deserved to be blamed at least somewhat for not making the biggest fights in the division possible (though more credit should be given to Wilder and Fury for actually getting to fight last December).

After the fight, Shelly Finkel, Wilder’s co-manager, said he would be meeting with DAZN soon to see what can be done about a potential heavyweight matchup between Joshua and Wilder and hopes to lock in Wilder’s next fight by next week. If what Finkel says is true, then don’t expect Joshua vs. Wilder to happen this year as it will be nearly impossible for Joshua and his team to fully focus and agree to a deal to fight Wilder this year when Joshua is fighting Andy Ruiz Jr. on June 1.

As it stands, Wilder’s next two fights look like this: a rematch against Luis Ortiz later this year and then a fight against Adam Kownacki in early 2020/spring 2020. At this point, Joshua vs. Wilder wouldn’t happen until summer 2020/second half of 2020 at the earliest. In regards to Wilder vs. Fury 2, Fury appears deadset on fighting a couple of times before even thinking about a rematch against Wilder, so that’s not happening until 2020 if it happens at all.

The one issue in this mess of a heavyweight triumvirate is that each of them are committed to fight on their own respective network (Wilder on Showtime, Fury on ESPN and Joshua on DAZN). Unless we see any of those fighters budge and go to his competitors’ network, we’re going to remain in this stalemate that has been running for the last couple of years. Just because time passes and there is growing demand for those fights doesn’t mean that they will happen anytime soon.

Joshua fighting on a streaming service that many tuning are already aware of the top story in the division and Fury fighting relatively unknown fighters like Tom Schwarz isn’t going to help matters. It’s not a question of when these heavyweights will face each other, it’s if they will ever fight each other. There have only been a select moments in history when two opposing promoters/networks give boxing the biggest bouts in the sport, but there are also far too many times when behind-the-scenes politics and clashing egos prevented the sport’s top stars from facing each other.

We’ll be having this discussion six months down the road and the only thing to hope by then is to have a little clarity and an idea of what 2020 can bring in the heavyweight division.

May 18 Showtime Championship Boxing results from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York:

  • Deontay Wilder defeats Dominic Breazeale by KO, round 1, 2:17 to retain the WBC heavyweight title
  • Gary Russell Jr. defeated Kiko Martinez by TKO, round 5, 2:52 to retain the WBC featherweight title
  • Juan Heraldez and Argenis Mendez fight to a majority draw (97-93 Mendez, 95-95, 95-95)

Boxing In 2020 Olympics:

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is looking to finalize its plans to have boxing be a part of the 2020 Olympics, but without the involvement of the International Boxing Association (AIBA).

The IOC has recommended that boxing be included in next year’s games, but the final decision will be made in the IOC’s next session from June 24 to 26 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

A special task force created by the IOC Executive Board will be chaired by Morinari Watanabe. the President of the International Gymnastic Federation. The purpose of the task force is to ensure the following:

A. Ensure the delivery of the following boxing competitions, with a goal of increasing sustainable gender equality in all areas of the sport:

i. Qualification events for boxing in view of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, due to take place between January 2020 and May 2020;

ii. Boxing tournament at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

B. Develop a Tokyo 2020 Qualification System for boxing, including the following details to be confirmed not later than the end of June 2019:

i. Definition of Men’s and Women’s weight categories;

ii. Review of quota places allocation across the boxing events, with a goal of increasing gender equality;

iii. Set the criteria for the quota places distribution at the qualification events.

The news comes after the AIBA has had issues for the past couple of years stemming from financial mismanagement to controversial judging during the 2016 Olympics.The AIBA was then revealed to be under financial stress, which led to the exit of C.K. Wu as president of the organization. Gafur Rakhimov was voted as the new AIBA president late last year, a decision that went directly against the IOC's wishes and potentially hurt the AIBA's chances of being involved in the 2020 Olympics.

Rakhimov has since then revealed his intentions to step down from the position, but if the IOC's current plans are finalized next month, the AIBA's status will be reviewed once more only after 2020. The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will run from July 24 to August 9.

While boxing's inclusion in the 2020 Olympics has yet to be officially confirmed, there will be numerous changes to the sport's weight classes if it were to take place in two years.

With greater emphasis on women's boxing, the 2020 Olympics will feature a record five weight classes for female Olympic boxers. Two weight classes, featherweight (57 kg/125 lbs) and welterweight (69 kg/152 lbs) have been added to the already existing flyweight, lightweight and middleweight.

But with more women's boxing weight classes being included into the 2020 Olympic rotation, a number of changes had to be made on the men's side. First, men’s light flyweight, bantamweight and light welterweight, all men's weight classes from the 2016 Olympics, are not going to be there for 2020. Secondly, men’s featherweight (57 kg/125 lbs) was added and lastly, men’s lightweight was restructured from 60 kg/132 lbs to 63 kg/138 lbs.

Below is the final lineup for boxing weight classes are going to be in the 2020 Olympics:

Men's Weight Classes:

  • Flyweight (52 kg/114 lbs)
  • Featherweight (57 kg/ 125 lbs)
  • Lightweight (63 kg/ 138 lbs)
  • Welterweight (69 kg/ 152 lbs)
  • Middleweight (75 kg/ 165 lbs)
  • Light Heavyweight (81 kg/ 178 lbs)
  • Heavyweight (91 kg/ 201 lbs)
  • Super Heavyweight (91+ kg/ 201+ lbs)

Women's Weight Classes:

  • Flyweight (51 kg/ 112 lbs)
  • Featherweight (57 kg/ 125 lbs)
  • Lightweight (60 kg/ 132 lbs)
  • Welterweight (69 kg/ 152 lbs)
  • Middleweight (75 kg/ 165 lbs)

WBSS Scotland Results:

The most recent World Boxing Super Series card from Glasgow, Scotland featured Naoya Inoue having perhaps his best performance against what was supposed to be his toughest opponent yet.

Inoue knocked out Emmanuel Rodriguez in less than five minutes into their WBSS bantamweight semifinals and the knockout elevated Inoue to another level of stardom in the west. Many people are now starting to realize how much of a generational talent Inoue is and knocking out Rodriguez, a top five bantamweight who has never lost, let alone dominated in the way that he was, raised many people’s eyebrows.

That’s certainly an impressive thing to do, especially in the west, where fighters in the lower weight classes are often overlooked.

Inoue will now face Nonito Donaire in the tournament finals, which has no date or location yet. The matchup is certainly interesting on paper with Donaire having a career resurgence after a brief, unsuccessful run at featherweight. The jury is still out whether or not Donaire presents the biggest challenge to Inoue, but he would be the most notable name on Inoue’s resume.

Also on that same card, we saw an entertaining WBSS junior welterweight semifinal fight between Josh Taylor and Ivan Baranchyk that saw Taylor come out on top thanks to two knockdowns. Taylor will face off against WBA champion Kiryl Relikh in the finals, which also doesn’t have a date and location. The fight does pit arguably the two best junior welterweights today and the winner does have the strongest claim out of the division’s champions to be No. 1.

May 18 WBSS results from the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland:

Josh Taylor defeated Ivan Baranchyk by unanimous decision (115-111, 115-111, 117-111) to win the IBF junior welterweight title and advance to the World Boxing Super Series junior welterweight tournament finals: Baranchyk opened the fight by throwing some wild punches with Taylor slowly trying to outbox the champion around the ring. It wasn’t long until both men started trading punches for the next few rounds. Taylor managed to hurt Baranchyk in the fourth round with a left hook to Baranchyk’s face and chest and for a moment, seemed to be in trouble of getting dropped. Baranchyk recovered and went back to throwing more body punches. The fifth round saw Baranchyk flip the script and push Taylor back numerous times with big left hands that hurt Taylor. The sixth round saw Taylor score a devastating right hand to Baranchyk, dropping him for the first time in the fight. Baranchyk got up, but was still reeling from the initial knockdown and Taylor would take advantage and drop him a second time as the bell sounded. Still recovering from the two knockdowns in the second round, Baranchyk would stand in the middle of the ring and absorb several body shots from Taylor. Baranchyk eventually returned to throwing combinations, but Taylor is also having a much easier time landing punches and throwing flurries to his opponent. As the fight got deeper into the late rounds, Baranchyk started to tire out a bit and Taylor kept moving back and around the ring to escape Baranchyk’s reach. Baranchyk managed to land a right hand early in the 11th round to stagger Taylor, but wasn't able to capitalize anymore for the remainder of the fight. The end of the fight saw both men trade big punches in the middle of the ring, but Taylor was the one whose hand was raised in the end.

Naoya Inoue defeated Emmanuel Rodriguez by KO, round 1, 1:19 to win the IBF bantamweight title and advance to the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament finals: Like in his first two fights at bantamweight, Inoue asserted his dominance from the opening bell, landing numerous left hooks to Rodriguez. Rodriguez managed to handle those shots well and even landed some decent punches that pushed Inoue back for a bit, but Inoue shrugged off all of his opponent's punches in the first round. Unlike the first two fights Inoue has had at bantamweight, this one managed to see a second round, but not much else. Early in the second round, Inoue landed a stiff left hand to Rodriguez’s face, immediately dropping him to the canvas. Rodriguez managed to get back up, although he had to deal with blood running down from his nose. Inoue immediately went to attack Rodriguez’s body, dropping him a second and third time seconds after the initial knockdown. Once Rodriguez was dropped a third time, the referee decided to end the contest right then and there.

Weekend Preview:

May 25: Kissimmee, Florida (ESPN):

Masayuki Ito vs. Jamel Herring (WBO super featherweight title): Jamel Herring’s long road to a world title opportunity concludes when he takes on Masayuki Ito for the WBO super featherweight title in Florida. The date of the fight is more momentous for Herring, a former Marine who did two tours of duty in Iraq, as it falls on Memorial Day weekend. Since losing two losses to Denis Shafikov and Ladarius Miller in 2016 and 2017, respectively, Herring would go on to get dominant wins in his three fights last year. Ito capitalized on the opportunity presented to him in the aftermath of Vasiliy Lomachenko vacating the WBO 130-pound title by soundly beating Christopher Diaz last year. Since then, Ito did make one title defense, an impressive seventh-round stoppage win over Evgeny Chuprakov on December 30. A win over Herring would open the door to a unification fight against WBC champion Miguel Berchelt, who will be attending the fight to scout his potential next opponent.

May 25: Biloxi, Mississippi (Fox Sports 1):

Austin Trout vs. Terrell Gausha: PBC returns with a card in Mississippi headlined by two junior middleweight contenders where a win for either man could put him on the track to challenge for a title in the future given how PBC has three of the four major world titles. Trout, a former champion at 154 pounds, was unsuccessful in capturing the WBC title last summer when he faced Jermell Charlo. Despite this, Trout still remains a fairly solid fighter in the division, but his best days are starting to end at 33 years old. Gausha was on the receiving end of a dominant performance from Erislandy Lara for the WBA title in a fight that was recognized as one of the least exciting world title fights of 2017. Since then, Gausha spent more than a year away from the sport and bounced back with a first-round knockout win over Joey Hernandez. A win over Trout would redeem Gausha in the eyes of many in the sport and could give him one last boost to challenge for another world title.

May 25: Oxon Hill, Maryland (DAZN):

Devin Haney vs. Antonio Moran (WBO Intercontinental lightweight title): Devin Haney, Matchroom Boxing’s latest big American signing is making his DAZN debut as the main event of a card in Maryland after the unfortunate bicep injury Oleksandr Usyk suffered that prevented him from fighting Carlos Takam in his heavyweight debut. Haney was in the conversation of being in line to face Luke Campbell for the vacant WBC lightweight title until the spot was given to Lomachenko. Clearly frustrated with the news, promoter Eddie Hearn will look towards building up Haney as a bigger star and legitimate main event fighter in the hopes that Haney gets his title shot soon. He will be taking on Antonio Moran, a fringe contender who’s on the edge of the WBO lightweight rankings but has fought former champion Jose Pedraza in a fight in June 2018 that was very close, losing on all three scorecards with scores of 96-94 across the board. The fight itself will likely be mildly competitive, but Haney could really raise his stock as someone ready to take on the top fighters at 135 pounds if he could easily dispatch of Moran.

Jessica McCaskill vs. Anahi Sanchez (Unified WBA/WBC Female junior welterweight titles): This is the lone world title fight on the card. McCaskill has bounced back nicely since losing to unified lightweight champion Katie Taylor back in 2017. In her lone fight since that loss to Taylor, McCaskill had a homecoming fight in Chicago and dominated Erica Anabella Farias to captured the WBC junior welterweight title. Anahi Sanchez has built up quite the resume, winning world titles and interim belts across four weight classes and a win against McCaskill would certainly elevate her back up to a potential spot in the top 10 pound-for-pound list in women’s boxing.

May 25: Manchester, England:

Hughie Fury vs. Chris Norrad: Hughie Fury, cousin to Tyson Fury, has been out of commission for several months to the point where he had to vacate his British heavyweight title. With a number of young British heavyweights slowly making their way up to title contention, Hughie’s career is at a bit of a crossroads. Hughie unsuccessfully challenged for the WBO heavyweight title back in 2017 and lost an IBF heavyweight title eliminator against Kubrat Pulev last October. Since then, Fury has been out with injuries and is now looking to get his career back on track. A fight against Norrad should help shake off the ring rust and a dominant performance could send Fury back in contention for any of the BBBofC-sanctioned titles. Given how Hughie is still only 24 years old, he could still blossom into a world title contender.

May 25: Jelenia Gora, Poland:

Ewa Brodnicka vs. Jareth Perez (WBO Female super featherweight title): Brodnicka has been one of the division’s top fighters for the last couple of years after starting as a junior welterweight and lightweight, where she was a former EBU European champion. Brodnicka has held at least the interim version of the world title since 2017, but hasn’t fought anyone of Perez’s resume yet during her time as a world champion. Perez, a former WBA and IBF bantamweight champion, has made the transition to featherweight rather nicely, winning her last four fights with two of them coming from inside the distance. But the level of competition Perez has faced as of late has been subpar at best and downright awful at worst, and will be the much smaller woman coming into the fight. However, Perez’s resume does mean she knows how to her perform against top competition, but like Brodnicka, Perez hasn’t faced anyone like her since moving up to featherweight.

May 26: Fuzhou, China:

Can Xu vs. Shun Kubo (WBA “Regular” featherweight title): The most loaded card of the weekend is one that will probably get the least amount of attention in the western side of the world aside from the card in Poland will have two potential Fight of the Year candidates. The first one is for the WBA “Regular” featherweight title between Can Xu and Shun Kubo. Xu, one of a select few pro Chinese boxers to win a world title, won the belt back in January with a dominant and very entertaining win against Jesus Rojas. Returning home to his home country and headline one of the biggest boxing cards in recent memory. Kubo, a former super bantamweight champion, is looking to become a two-time champion and after a tough test from Hiroshige Osawa last year, Kubo feels ready to face off against one of the better punchers at 126 pounds.

Carlos Canizales vs. Sho Kimura (WBA “Regular” light flyweight title): Although not the main event, the fight between Carlos Canizales and Sho Kimura could be the one that steals the show and even end up as one of the most action-packed fights of the year. The question that will be answered in this fight will be how effective Kimura will be after having to drop the necessary weight. After all, he wasn’t a small flyweight when he was the WBO world champion and was still competing at flyweight as recently as March. Provided that Kimura can successfully make weight and feel good at 108 pounds, he and Canizales are sure to provide fireworks. Kimura’s last title fight was an incredibly wild slugfest against Kosei Tanaka, a fight that was regarded by many as the best of 2018. Canizales’ title reign has been somewhat unorthodox. After a fairly close decision win against Reiya Konishi in March 2018, Canizales then defended his title against Bin Lu, a Chinese boxer in his second pro bout, and dominated him last July.

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