Fightful Boxing Newsletter (8/9): Canelo vs. GGG 2 Undercard, Kovalev vs. Alvarez, Matchroom-DAZN

Fightful Boxing Newsletter (8/9) Table Of Contents:

  1. Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin 2 Undercard (Page 1)
  2. Eleider Alvarez Spoils Sergey Kovalev vs. Dmitry Bivol Unification (Page 2)
  3. DAZN/Matchroom Boxing Press Conferences (Page 3)
  4. Oleksandr Usyk vs. Murat Gassiev Results and WBSS Recap (Page 4)
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Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin 2 Undercard

We are a little more than five weeks away from the highly-anticipated rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, but so far we have not had any undercard fights fully announced, though according to reports, the pay-per-view card is shaping up to be one of the best televised boxing cards of 2018.

Numerous reports seem to indicate that a number of top stars, including Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia, David Lemieux, and more are going to fight on the pay-per-view portion of the September 15 mega event that will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

As it stands, though not official, here is what the full pay-per-view card will be for the September 15 pay-per-view and like with all combat sports, the card is always subject to change.

  • Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin (c): Unified WBA, WBC Middleweight Championship
  • Jaime Munguia (c) vs. Brandon Cook: WBO Junior Middleweight Championship
  • David Lemieux vs. Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan
  • Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez vs. Moises Fuentes

The last two fights mentioned above are all but official, especially the Lemieux-O’Sullivan fight since the contract has reportedly been signed. Lemieux and O’Sullivan have been feuding on social media for several weeks, making a clash between the two possible, if not inevitable for September 15.

Lemieux vs. O’Sullivan is expected to be a middleweight fight, though the question will be how Lemieux will feel cutting weight to make the middleweight limit. Lemieux missed weight in his last fight and his manager said after the fight that Lemieux would be moving to super middleweight. This appeared even more apparent after Lemieux was placed in the top 15 in the WBC rankings at super middleweight.

O’Sullivan, who for months, had claimed to be Alvarez’s first opponent after his rematch against Golovkin, was looking for an opponent for September 15 and a fight against Lemieux does make the most logical sense. Lemieux is a quality middleweight that is not at a world class level in 2018, but can give anybody else in the division some trouble. Although the winner of that fight would not be anyone’s first choice to fight the winner of Alvarez vs. Golovkin, with millions of people tuning in to watch the fight, it wouldn’t be terrible matchmaking if Alvarez and O’Sullivan fight each other next regardless of the results, though it wouldn’t make sense if Alvarez wins and O’Sullivan loses and Golden Boy Promotions matches the two boxers next for a fight at the end of the year or in early 2019.

As for the Gonzalez-Fuentes fight, this one would likely be contested at 115 pounds, which would make it three different weight classes Fuentes will compete in just 20 months. Fuentes, who’s challenged for a light flyweight and flyweight world title and a former minimumweight champion, has lost three of his last four fights, though considering two of those losses came against Japanese stars Daigo Higa and Kosei Tanaka, no one put it against Fuentes for losing. Though a quality fighter, it’s obvious that Fuentes was chosen to be Gonzalez’s bounceback opponent because of his lack of in-ring success.

Gonzalez, on the other hand, is trying to build back his confidence after losing two consecutive fights to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, losing his WBC super flyweight title in the first fight, which took place on March 2017. Gonzalez was supposed to be fighting on May 5 on the now-failed pay-per-view card for the first attempt at a rematch between Alvarez and Golovkin.

Once the May 5 pay-per-view didn’t happen and got moved to an HBO television card headlined by Golovkin and Vanes Martirosyan, then Gonzalez was moved to fight on that card. Unfortunately, political turmoil in Gonzalez’s native country of Nicaragua prevented Gonzalez from getting a visa in time to compete.

Of course, with Gonzalez no fighting on May 5, the co-main event fight was given to undisputed women’s champion Cecilia Braekhus, who defended her titles against Kali Reis. Braekhus is currently also scheduled to fight on September 15 on the non-PPV card. Promoter Tom Loeffler did tell me in early May that Braekhus was supposed to fight on the May 5 PPV, and probably would have been put on the September 15 card had it not been for Munguia.

Munguia, the current WBO junior middleweight titleholder, is expected to defend his title in the co-main event fight, marking his third world title fight in just four months. Munguia won the title off of Sadam Ali back in May when Munguia knocked the former champion. Munguia then retained his title against mandatory challenger Liam Smith on July 21. Afterwards, one would normally think that Smith would probably fight at the end of the year at the earliest, considering that Munguia has fought four times in 2018 already.

As for Munguia’s opponent, it will most likely be against Brandon Cook. Cook went on Twitter to say that he has an announcement coming soon and that it is a major one. A fan asked him if that announcement was going to be a fight on the September 22 boxing card at Wembley Stadium, but Cook denied it saying it was an opportunity he cannot pass up.

Of course, anybody with common sense and more than 15 seconds to think about would come to the obvious conclusion that this announcement is going to be a shot at the WBO 154-pound title on the September 15 PPV. Cook is ranked No. 4 in the WBO rankings at that weight and Munguia is able to defend his title against anybody ranked in the top 15.

A fight against Cook means this would be Munguia’s fifth fight in just seven months. While this would be an appropriate schedule for a 21-year-old rising prospect, for a world champion this would be somewhat uncommon.

In this day and age, one would forget about how champions and great boxers from decades ago fought on a more frequent basis than the top boxers of this current era, whom would fight once or twice a year (maybe three times, but even that isn’t common). It’s obvious that Munguia is clearly being pushed by Golden Boy and HBO to be the next Mexican superstar boxer and he does have the tools to get there.

Munguia is an entertaining fighter, a knockout artist and has plenty of time to fight in big fights and to work on any mechanical and defensive flaws shown in the fight against Smith. In that fight, Smith clearly had the power advantage, but often left himself wide open, mainly when he’s throwing hooks to the side of his opponent’s head, leaving Munguia open to any counter jabs, which Smith was able to do at times. Munguia also needs to work on tightening his punches as any boxer that has power comparable to Munguia, like Jermell Charlo or Jarrett Hurd, would easily dispose of him inside of five rounds if Munguia is not careful. Smith did not have such power to stop Munguia and Munguia started to improve about halfway through the fight, string together a series of punches and stop Smith.

When Munguia fought Smith, the HBO team clearly was trying to build Munguia as this can’t-miss, unbelievable megastar in the making.

When Munguia knocked out Ali, everybody was excited to see him make noise at 154 pounds and then perhaps at 160 pounds, but when HBO talked about Munguia on the Smith fight, the praise was hyperbolic in mythical proportions, Tyson-esque in its nature, which started to turn fans watching the show off a little bit (I watched the fight live with the Spanish commentary team, which was far more tame in its depiction of Munguia’s abilities by comparison).

With Munguia coming out of the Smith fight with relatively little damage done to him, Golden Boy and HBO are looking to strike while the iron is hot and there is no bigger event to make a potential new Mexican superstar than the September 15 PPV, which falls on Mexican Independence Day weekend.

Cook isn’t the hardest puncher out there at 154 pounds and I don’t think he provides a bigger challenge than Smith, on paper. What’s going to be interesting is how Cook and Munguia handle the information on how to beat the young champion provided by Smith. I wouldn’t be surprised if the somewhat short training camp will be focused primarily on fixing his fundamental issues, which can be fixed. The issue of fighting this many fights in such a short span isn’t the problem, but it’s putting him out there before really fixing the issues in his boxing, which are glaring problems and ones any of the other champions can easily take advantage of.

Cook may not be the opponent to have the necessary tools to take out Munguia and he provides a sufficient enough of a challenge for Munguia to keep getting experience (another problem Munguia would have against the other older, far more experienced champions).

The best case scenario for Munguia would be to dominate Cook in say five or six rounds, showcase hs incredible power while showing better defense and tighter punching. Munguia would then go for any of the top challengers starting in 2019, hoping to build towards a unification fight with either Hurd or Charlo down the road.

Since Hurd and Charlo are currently with PBC and fighting on Showtime, that might prove to be difficult to pull off, although things could always change down the road. Another route they could pull off with Munguia is that HBO and Golden Boy continue building him up as the next big Mexican superstar and have him fight Alvarez down the road in a battle between the two most popular boxers from Mexico, akin to Alvarez’s 2017 clash with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. which ultimately proved to be a financial success despite the fight ending up as one of the most lopsided and underwhelming pay-per-view main events in the history of the sport.

Overall, this card is shaping up to be one of the biggest and best the sport has to offer in 2018. Given that the fight between Alvarez and Golovkin is shaping up to be another solid fight that will likely be on the outside looking in for “Fight of the Year.” As far as the undercard is considered, it’s likely that Munguia and Gonzalez will dominate their respective fights, but the Lemieux-O’Sullivan fights might end up being the most competitive of the bunch.

Eleider Alvarez Spoils Sergey Kovalev vs. Dmitry Bivol Unification:

For years, Eleider Alvarez was overlooked and ignored by WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson despite Alvarez being his mandatory challenger. Alvarez channeled years of frustration to knock out Sergey Kovalev and win the WBO light heavyweight title.

Thanks to two knockdowns in the seventh round, Alvarez knocked down Kovalev to win his first world title.

Alvarez not only won the WBO title, but also played spoiler to HBO and Main Event’s plans to have Kovalev and WBA champion Dmitry Bivol have a unification fight at the end of the year. Bivol retained his title in the co-main event fight of the card, which took place in Atlantic City.

Alvarez had been Stevenson's mandatory challenger for years, but Stevenson would get step-aside deals in order to make countless voluntary defenses. Alvarez was then placed in a WBC interim title fight against Oleksandr Gvozdyk, but Alvarez withdrew, stating he did not want an interim title but wanted Stevenson and his title. He may not have gotten Stevenson, but he did get his world title.

The loss is now Kovalev's third in his last five fights. Kovalev lost his unified titles to Andre Ward in 2016, then lost the rematch fight in 2017. He then captured the vacant WBO title late last year after Ward retired and then defended the title this past March at Madison Square Garden.

Regarding a potential unification fight against Bivol, Alvarez said he will be ready for anyone that comes his way. He said he would welcome a rematch against Kovalev for later this year, as Kovalev does have a contractual rematch clause should he lose and Kovalev also said days after the fight that he wants the rematch against Kovalev.

In the co-main event, Bivol steamrolled his way to a wide unanimous decision win over Isaac Chilemba. Bivol won the fight, and retained his WBA light heavyweight title, with the three official judges scoring the bout 120-108, 120-108 and 116-112. Fightful had scored the bout in favor of Bivol as well with a score of 118-110.

Bivol started the fight well, exploding with numerous hooks and overhand rights that stunned Chilemba at times. Chilemba was game, though, as he not only took everything Bivol threw at him, but also land some strong punches of his own.

Chilemba’s jab was effective at times, but it never carried the necessary power needed to knock down the young champion. As the fight got deeper, Bivol took the foot off the gas pedal and proceeded to simply move around the ring and land the jab to score points instead of going for the knockout. Chilemba got his best rounds at the end, but it was too little, too late for Chilemba.

It was the the second title defense of 2018 for Bivol, who had been elevated to full world champion last year since winning the interim title in 2016. Bivol started the year off with a strong 12th round stoppage win over Sullivan Barrera on the co-feature bout of Kovalev’s quick title defense win over Igor Mikhalkin, building to a potential unification fight.

The August 4 main event on HBO averaged 731,000 viewers and peaked at 813,000. The co-main event averaged 583,000 viewers, peaking at 632,000.

While those numbers are not impressive compared to viewership numbers HBO has achieved in past years, it is an improvement from the last time both Kovalev and Bivol fought on the same card on HBO. That took place on March 4 at Madison Square Garden when Kovalev defeated Igor Mikhalkin and Bivol defeated Sullivan Barrera to retain their titles. For that March 4 card, Kovalev’s fight averaged 599,000 viewers while Bivol’s fight averaged 512,000 viewers.

The low viewership numbers for that HBO boxing card in March could be partially attributed to the fact that it had to contend with a Showtime Championship Boxing card in nearby Brooklyn. That card’s main event, Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz for Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title, garnered monster ratings, peaking at more than one million viewers.

Viewership for the August 4 card, however, is slightly lower than the viewership for HBO’s last boxing broadcast: the July 21 Las Vegas card that saw Jaime Munguia successfully retain his WBO junior middleweight title against Liam Smith. That fight averaged 777,000 viewers while peaking at 827,000 viewers.

HBO’s next boxing telecast will take place on September 8 and it will be the third iteration of the SuperFly series of boxing cards. That event will feature Juan Francisco Estrada, McWilliams Arroyo and a vacant WBO super flyweight title fight between Donnie Nietes and Aston Palicte.

DAZN/Matchroom Boxing Press Conferences

The upcoming release of Perform Group’s DAZN streaming service in the United States has a release date and a number of top boxers joining Eddie Hearn’s stable of fighters.

In a press conference in New York, Hearn, the promoter for Matchroom Boxing, made a number of announcements, most notably the first wave of fighters that have either signed with Hearn or have agreed to have their next fights be shown on DAZN. Earlier this year, Hearn and Perform Group announced an eight-year, $1 billion partnership.

The following fighters appeared at the initial press conference:

- Former world champion Jessie Vargas

- WBA super bantamweight champion Daniel Roman

- Unified WBA/IBF women’s lightweight champion Katie Taylor

- WBO middleweight mandatory challenger Demetrius Andrade

- Undefeated heavyweight contender Jarrell Miller

- Unified WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua

- WBA heavyweight mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin

WBO junior welterweight champion Maurice Hooker did not appear at the press conference as he was running late, according to Hearn, but said the plan is to have Hooker fight mandatory challenger Alex Saucedo, confirming Fightful’s own reporting when it was told by Roc Nation that they plan on having Hooker defend his title against Saucedo.

The streaming service will launch on September 10 and it will also be the streaming service home for Bellator MMA. DAZN will cost $9.99 per month and people who want to tune in will get a chance to have a 30-day free trial.

DAZN’s first boxing show will be Joshua vs. Povetkin on September 22, but the first boxing card in the United States will take place on October 6 in Chicago.

Among the several signings that Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn announced at the latest DAZN press conference is WBA super bantamweight champion Daniel Roman.

Roman, who is promoted by Thompson Boxing, has signed on to fight on the DAZN streaming service that will launch later this year in the United States.

In another press conference in Chicago on August 8, the October 6 card, which will take place on October 6 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, will feature Roman defending his WBA super bantamweight title against McDonnell and Artur Beterbiev defending his IBF light heavyweight title against Callum Johnson.

Roman was originally planned to defend his title on October 20, but Matchroom made changes as Demetrius Andrade, also previously announced to fight on the Chicago card, will now fight Billy Joe Saunders for his WBO middleweight title, likely in Boston later this year.

Also featured on the card is undefeated heavyweight contender Jarrell Miller, who is on the short list of fighters potentially getting a title shot sometime in the next year, facing off against 41-year-old Tomasz Adamek. Adamek, a former light heavyweight and cruiserweight world champion and one-time heavyweight title challenger, has fought in Poland since late 2014, where he has fought the likes of Eric Molina and Artur Szpilka.

Former WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas, who is coming off a fight against Adrien Broner that ended in a draw, will fight Thomas Dulorme. Dulorme, who recently cut ties with Mayweather Promotions, has not fought since losing to Yordenis Ugas on the FOX-televised portion of the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor fight last year.

The entire card will be streamed in the United States on DAZN, which will launch in the country later this year. This will be the second boxing card on DAZN in the United States as the platform is also streaming the Anthony Joshua vs. Alexander Povetkin fight on September 22.

Roman will be making his third world title defense since winning the belt last year. The 28-year-old Roman last fought in June, scoring a unanimous decision win over Moises Flores on the Errol Spence Jr. vs. Carlos Ocampo undercard.

McDonnell previously challenged for the WBC super bantamweight title in 2017 but was unsuccessful when he lost a majority decision to Rey Vargas. McDonnell has since then won his last four fights.

It had been previously reported that both sides had agreed to a fight deal and were going to fight in October on Chicago, but broadcast details were not known at the time. Beterbiev has not signed with Matchroom Boxing, but has agreed to at least have his next fight take place on the Matchroom Boxing USA show as Johnson is promoted by Hearn.

No other fight has been announced for the October 20 card, but Hearn did say that he is trying to get WBO junior welterweight champion Maurice Hooker to defend his title against mandatory challenger Alex Saucedo. That fight, previously reported by Fightful to be in the works, could go to a purse bid where if Hooker's side wins the bid, then it would most likely end up on DAZN. If Saucedo's side wins the bid, then the fight would most likely land on ESPN.

Overall, this is a bit of an underwhelming card for a U.S. debut, but it's not a bad card by any means. Of course, Matchroom's roster on DAZN isn't one to rival Showtime's or even PBC's roster at this time, but that doesn't mean that it won't get better as time passes. More and more boxers will join the stable, making it a deep roster and one of the best in the world.

Oleksandr Usyk vs. Murat Gassiev Results and WBSS Recap:

Twelve months ago, it seemed that the concept of the World Boxing Super Series, a global tournament that would have eight of the top boxers in a certain weight class fight to decide who will be the No. 1 boxer in the world, seemed ludicrious and too good to be true for a number of reasons.

But despite history not giving the World Boxing Super Series a guaranteed shot at being a success, the WBSS concluded its first-ever tournament on July 21 with the cruiserweight tournament crowing Oleksandr Usyk as the undisputed WBA, WBO, WBC, IBF and Ring Magazine champion, becoming the first man in the history of the division to hold all five titles simultaneously. Usyk, the tournament’s No. 1 seed when the eight-man field was set last year, scored a near-shutout unanimous decision victory over Murat Gassiev to win the tournament and all five titles.

The fight was originally supposed to take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia back on May, but weeks before the fight took place, Gassiev suffered an injury during training which delayed the bout. It was then that the rumors of the Russian Boxing Federation making a strong push to have the finals relocated to Moscow started to sound like a possibility.

The news of Moscow being interested in having the finals be moved to Moscow did circulate around the boxing community for a short while before Gassiev’s injury, but the understanding is that Saudi Arabia had invested too much money for the May date.

Now looking at the World Boxing Super Series as a whole, without the benefit of the WBSS super middleweight tournament finals still having no date and venue as of this writing, one would be hard pressed to say that the venture hasn’t been a success thus far.

That’s not to say the World Boxing Super Series had its faults and mistakes throughout the last 12 months. The tournament got off to a rocky start when the tournament was first announced and there was not really anything to go off on. No real big names in the tournament at the point, specific dates and venues, were initially made which caused a lot of skepticism (and deservedly so) as to the long-term success of the tournament.

There were also many issues regarding tournament exposure in the United States, which was extremely limited for the first season, a terrible mistake on Comosa AG and Kalle Sauerland’s part. Only two tournament fights took place in the United States (San Antonio, Texas in September 2017 and Newark, New Jersey in October 2017), both of which didn’t do much publicity to draw a significant crowd to both shows.

I even witnessed this with the Newark show, which was headlined by a cruiserweight tournament quarterfinal matchup between Gassiev and Krzysztof Wlodarczyk at the Prudential Center. The Prudential Center is not a particularly big venue and the fight drew less than half of that max capacity number and half of the venue was cutoff as the entire crowd, and the ring itself, was put on one side of the venue.

There were also several broadcast issues, especially in the United States. Part of the issues regarding that stemmed from a failed attempt at getting HBO to bite on the tournament. EPIX was rumored to also have been in the running to be the American television network for the tournament, but for one reason or another, it didn’t happen. And so boxing fans in the United States were left to watch the tournament either on YouTube, on the tournament’s website or, for a select couple of fights, shown on the Audience Network that was only available for people who have DirecTV.

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