Fightful Boxing Newsletter (3/7): No Wilder vs. Fury 2, Latest On GGG, Porter vs. Ugas Preview

Fightful Boxing Newsletter (3/7) Table of Contents:

1. Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury 2 Not Happening, What’s Next? (Page 1)

Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixeira, Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan 2 Set For UFC 267, Non-PPV Event

2. Latest On Gennady Golovkin-DAZN Negotiations (Page 2)

3. March 7 Boxing Results Recap (Page 3)

4. Donnie Nietes Vacates WBO Super Flyweight Title (Page 4)

5. James DeGale Announces His Retirement; PBC on ITV Results (Page 5)

6. Shawn Porter vs. Yordenis Ugas Preview (Page 6)

7. Dmitry Bivol vs. Joe Smith Jr. Preview (Page 7)

Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury 2 Not Happening, What’s Next?

The planned rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury for the WBC heavyweight title will not be taking place within the next few months.

“Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury is officially not happening next. The World Boxing Council has received communications as our process and while WBC Champion Wilder confirmed his willingness to fight the rematch. Fury will take on another fight with expectations to do rematch at a later date."

The news comes after Fury signed a co-promotional deal with Top Rank and ESPN that would have Fury fight in the United States at least twice per year.

The main reason behind the fight not happening is that Fury, ESPN and Top Rank want to build up Fury's profile in the U.S. to make up for the perceived lack of star power Wilder carries in the United States.

In a recent interview with IFL TV, Fury explained that he wanted have a fight before the rematch against Wilder to further build to the rematch. Fury is looking to fight again in the coming months on an ESPN platform to build his U.S. profile with the hope the rematch becomes a much bigger event than the first bout which took place last December. The undefeated lineal champion also said Wilder was offered a deal that would have him fight on ESPN as well to further build to that potential rematch against Fury, a deal that the WBC champion denied.

"Wilder's unknown in the U.S. We want to get more known by having a few fights on ESPN and then doing a pay-per-view fight. [I'm] 100 percent [confident the rematch happens]. I got ESPN behind me, we can make anything happen," Fury said.

The announcement of Fury's new deal was a roadblock to getting the fight done as ESPN and Showtime were essentially now competing for the rights to air the rematch for the WBC heavyweight title. The first fight between the two, which took place last December and ended in a draw, aired on Showtime pay-per-view and it was initially thought that the rematch would be handled by Showtime as well.

The WBC ordered a rematch and even delayed a purse bid twice as the organization was under the impression that a deal was imminent, but now the fight is not happening until much later this year at the very least.

But with Wilder vs. Fury no longer happening, the WBC has officially ordered on March 6 heavyweight champion Wilder to fight mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale.

On their website, the WBC released a statement detailing the somewhat complicated history of the WBC heavyweight mandatory challenger, but concluded by saying that Wilder and Breazeale must fight each other with negotiations starting now. Should both sides fail to come to terms on a deal by April 4, then a purse bid will be conducted.

Below is the official order for Wilder and Breazeale to fight:

"WBC World Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder shall fulfill his mandatory obligations by fighting Dominic Breazeale next. This order constitutes the start of the free negotiations period for Champion Wilder’s mandatory defense of his title. If no agreement is reached between the camps, the WBC shall conduct a purse offer ceremony on April 4, 2019 at the WBC Offices in Mexico City, Mexico."

But while we await the news of Wilder vs. Breazeale being made official, Top Rank could be making moves to sign Whyte to a promotional deal that would have the British star also join Fury and bolster the company's heavyweight roster. A fight between Fury and Whyte for this summer would certainly be an unexpected clash of top 5 heavyweights and the winner more than deserves a shot at any of the heavyweight world titles, but it is one that carries a lot of risk for ESPN as a loss for Fury would pretty much spell disaster for Wilder vs. Fury 2 taking place anytime soon, if it ever did happen at this point.

The next few weeks are going to give us an indication of where the heavyweight scene will look like for the remainder of 2019, but by this time in 2020, we may be undergoing through the same rollercoaster that we have experienced in years past, meaning there's still no real end in sight to the Anthony Joshua/Wilder/Fury debate of who is the best heavyweight in the world anytime soon.

Latest On Gennady Golovkin-DAZN Negotiations:

Former middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin's seemingly imminent deal with DAZN appears to be in its final stages.

A report from ESPN indicated that both sides are close to finalizing a deal, although called the speed of the negotiations at "snail pace," but also said "nothing is imminent." This was disputed by Mike Coppinger, who revealed on Twitter that the deal is basically done and it will get finalized soon enough.

It's certainly feels bizarre to have Golovkin take this long to make a final decision, but there may be a specific reason for that.

According to Ring Magazine, Golovkin and DAZN are nearing a deal that would have the former middleweight champion fight at least three times. The report stated that Golovkin could fight as much as six times throughout the deal but the additional fights are contingent on his performance.

Golovkin would also get equity in DAZN, something that no other fighter signed to the streaming service currently has. Golovkin's GGG Promotions would also get fight dates, but since the former world champion has not signed fighters to his company, he will look to sign boxers from his native Kazakhstan and beyond.

With the new deal, Golovkin could stand to make at least $10 million in his DAZN debut, which could take place either in late spring or in early summer. Should Golovkin emerge victorious, he could potentially be next in line to face unified middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez a third time in September. Alvarez is scheduled to fight Daniel Jacobs in a WBA, WBC and IBF title unification on May 4 and if Alvarez wins, then the trilogy bout against Golovkin could be taking place later this year.

The first two fights between Golovkin and Alvarez were shown on HBO pay-per-view in the United States on September 2017 and 2018 with both bouts generating at least a million buys each. The 2017 showdown ended in a draw while Alvarez won the rematch last year in Las Vegas. A third fight between the two middleweight superstars would generate some interest, but unfortunately for DAZN who are hoping to get close to seven figures in subscriptions, or at least in the hih six-figures for Canelo vs. GGG 3, that might not be possible.

The issues at play here are the fact that the subscriptions are not going along as well as initially hoped and overall interest in the trilogy fight just isn't as appealing as it once was. We've seen the fight twice and although some may feel Golovkin won both fights on the scorecards, the fact of the matter is people are starting to accept that Golovkin may never beat Alvarez by decision and at 37 years old, the odds of Golovkin knocking out Alvarez just aren't looking good.

It's a simple case of diminishing returns and DAZN needs to understand Canelo vs. GGG 3 won't be the problem solver that it thinks it will be. They will have to figure out a way to build new stars or sign them to give Alvarez fresh opponents down the road and in order to make this current investment worthwhile, DAZN will have to find someone in addition to Golovkin to make sure the streaming service thrives in the United States.

March 2 Boxing Results Recap:

Showtime Championship Boxing Results from the Barclays Center:

Erislandy Lara and Brian Castano fight to a split draw (115-113, 114-114, 115-113). WBA “Regular” Junior Middleweight title (Castano retains the title): Both fighters had a competitive back-and-forth contest in the first half of the contest before Lara would start slowly winning rounds in the second half. Lara built himself a small lead on the scorecards late in the fight, but Castano caught fire in the 11th and 12th round and managed to steal those last two rounds to force the draw. This was Lara's first fight sine April 2018 when he lost to Jarrett Hurd by split decision to unify the WBA "Super" and IBF junior middleweight titles. Lara held the WBA world title from 2014 to 2018 and promoted to "Super" champion in 2016. After the fight, Lara said he wants a rematch with either Hurd or Castano next.

Luis Ortiz defeated Christian Hammer by unanimous decision (100-90, 99-91, 99-91): Ortiz didn't look spectacular in this fight, but it's hard to say it wasn't dominating. Ortiz mainly stuck with jabbing and moving around the ring while Hammer struggled to throw and connect much. Ortiz showed flashed of power, but wasn't able to take out Hammer early in the fight as he usually does with most of his fights. A win over Hammer keeps him busy for a possible fight against WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder or even unified champion Anthony Joshua, but given their current schedules, Ortiz is likely not getting a title shot anytime soon, which does not bode well given that Ortiz is now in his 40s by the end of this month.

Eduardo Ramirez defeated Bryan De Gracia by TKO, round 9 to win the WBA Gold Featherweight title: The day before the fight, Ramirez nearly missed weight once again, but did manage to come in at under 126 pounds on a second attempt to make weight. Both sides had a somewhat competitive first few rounds, but De Gracia started to win some of the recent fights before getting stopped. Late in the ninth round, Ramirez landed a vicious flurry of punches that hurt De Gracia and the fight was stopped by Benjy Estevez once De Gracia's back was against the ropes and barely threw any punches. The timing of the stoppage can be considered weird given that Ramirez wasn't landing many punches at the exact moment of the stoppage, but make no mistake, De Gracia was out of it at the end of the fight. Ramirez is now in line to face WBA "Regular" champion Xu Can.

Matchroom Boxing NXTGEN Results from Peterborough:

Jordan Gill defeated Emmanuel Dominguez by TKO, round 3 to win the WBA International Featherweight title: This was a complete thrashing conducted by Gill. Gill repeatedly hurt Dominguez with the left hook in the second round and was nearly dropped on a number of occasions. Gill nearly knocked Dominguez out with a vicious counter right at the end of the second frame. I personally thought that should be scored a 10-8 round. Gill scored a couple of knockdowns in the third round and the fight was stopped shortly after the second knockdown. Gill can potentially be a real player at 126 pounds down the line if he keeps progressing at this rate.

Joe Steed defeated Miguel Aguilar by points (40-36): Both men landed body shots in the first round as they kept trading punches, but Steed appeared to be throwing more. Aguilar was ready to trade shots with Steed much more than people realized when looking at this matchup on paper. This fight served to give Steed more rounds under his belt as Aguilar had a career record of 11-54-1 heading into the bout. Even crazier is the fact that is Steed has fought worse competition as his last fight was a decision win over Liam Griffiths, who had a 5-79-1 record when those two fought last December. The jury is still out on whether or not Steed will ever be a top boxer in the United Kingdom.

Richard Riakporhe defeated Tommy McCarthy by TKO, round 4 to retain the WBA Intercontinental Cruiserweight title: McCarthy worked the body well, landing several combinations early in the fight while Riakporhe would utilize the jab. Riakporhe unleashed a flurry of punches that started with an overhand right to drop McCarthy in the fourth round. Riakporhe hurt McCarthy with another right hand and then stopped him at the end of the fourth with a flurry of shots with McCarthy up against the ropes. Riakporhe improves to 9-0 as a pro and has won his last eight from inside the distance, seven of those wins taking place in the fourth round or sooner. Riakporhe is ranked in the top 15 by the WBA at cruiserweight, but still has plenty to work on before actually challenging for a world title down the line. Riakporhe has a decent jab and some solid power, but is still being outboxed at times by his opponent. A potential fight against Lawrence Okolie has been suggested and promoter Eddie Hearn is not opposed to that fight, but I don’t expect it to happen until the end of the year at the earliest if it does ever happen.

Anthony Sims Jr. defeated Mateo Damian Veron by TKO, round 6: Sims spent the first half of the fight throwing relatively weak jabs the occasional hooks, but didn’t mount any real pressure at all and establish his dominance over Veron. Sims finally let his hands go in the sixth round, dropping Veron twice in the round. After the first knockdown, Sims dominated Veron and when he dropped him a second time, Veron got up but the referee stopped the fight. Sims is someone whom Matchroom Boxing USA is very high on and the hopes is that he would eventually challenge for a light heavyweight title at some point in the future. Sims won’t be a world title contender until 2020 at the earliest and he is advertised for the April 26 show at The Forum in Los Angeles. Promoter Eddie Hearn said he and Sims finished agreeing to a new deal that would keep Sims in Matchroom Boxing for two more years.

Leigh Wood defeated Abraham Bonsu by KO, round 2 to win the Commonwealth Featherweight title: Bonsu looked really small compared to Wood, almost like he’s supposed to be a weight class below Wood. Wood scores a knockdown after a flurry of body shots halfway through the second round, followed by another knockdown towards the end of the round. The referee ended the fight as Bonsu was unable to answer to the referee’s 10 count. Wood wins the Commonwealth title whose last two titleholders were Lee Selby and Josh Warrington who would go on to win a world title later in their career.

Donnie Nietes Vacates WBO Super Flyweight Title

Donnie Nietes has officially vacated his WBO super flyweight world title.

The four-division champion wrote a letter to WBO President Francisco Valcarcel stating his intent on relinquishing the world title that he won on December 31, 2018, ending his reign without a single title defense.

The news comes on the day that a purse bid between Nietes and mandatory challenger Aston Palicte was scheduled to take place in Puerto Rico. Instead of the news of who won the purse bid, the WBO revealed that its 115-pound world title is now vacant.

The letter written by Nietes, which can be seen below, stated that one of the reasons for him vacating the title was that he wants a career-defining fight that would cement his legacy. Nietes believes that at 37 years old, he does not have much time remaining in his career to get that kind of fight.

Dear Mr. Valcarcel

First of all, I would like to thank you and the WBO for giving me another chance to fight for the World Super flyweight title against Kazuto Ioka after the painful draw against Aston Palicte.

It took me a long time to think about this very difficult decision but I feel that every fight for me at this stage of my career is crucial for my future. I have long been dreaming to have a career-defining fight. There is not much time for me in this sport at 37 years old.

I would like to humbly inform you and the WBO that I have painfully decided to vacate my title which has meant the world to me. I have held the WBO title for ten years in three divisions which has been a part of my life. I have been awarded as the longest World champion in the history of the Philippines because of the WBO. I owe my successful career to the WBO.

The WBO belts and the ring will be in my heart forever and hopefully in the future I can be given a chance to become a WBO World Champion again before I retire.

Thank you very much Mr. Valcarcel and to everyone at the WBO for all what you done for my career and without the opportunities you have given me, I would not be where I am today.

With much respect,

Donnie “Ahas” Nietes

3 Division WBO World Champion

A second letter, penned by ALA Promotions President and CEO Michael Aldeguer, echoes Nietes’ sentiments about vacating his title and added that a mandatory rematch against countryman Aston Palicte “is an emotional and mental challenge” after the two fought to a draw last year. The two boxers competed for the belt previously held by Naoya Inoue last September, but since the fight ended as a draw, the title remained vacant.

Dear Paco,

After a series of discussions with Team Nietes, it is with deep regret that Donnie Nietes has decided to vacate his WBO belt as he does not have much time in his boxing career at 37 yes of age. His wish is to look for bigger fights to enhance his legacy and achieve his ultimate dream before hanging up his gloves.

A rematch with Aston Palicte is an emotional and mental challenge for his as he went through a very difficult stage after their first fight which ended in a controversial draw and fighting a fellow Filipino again who is from the same region where he was born makes it even more difficult.

In behalf of ALA Promotions and Donnie Nietes, we would like to thank you and the WBO for all the opportunities you have given Donnie Nietes, we will forever be grateful to your esteemed organization for making Donnie a Three Division World Champion with the WBO who we consider our family.

Thank you once again for supporting ALA Promotions and DOnnie Nietes all these years.

More power to the WBO.

Sincerely,

Michael Aldeguer

President/CEO

ALA Sports Promotions International, Inc.

The WBO announced several weeks later after the September bout that Nietes would fight Kazuto Ioka on December 31 in Macau, China to crown a new champion while Palicte would fight Jose Martinez in a title eliminator. Nietes defeated Ioka by split decision to win the WBO super flyweight title while Palicte stopped Martinez in two rounds on January 31 on a boxing card streamed on UFC Fight Pass.

As for what’s next for the WBO 115-pound title, the organization typically orders its two highest-ranked available contenders to fight for the title, meaning it’s likely that Palicte will be ordered to fight Ioka, ranked No. 4 by the organization. Juan Francisco Estrada, ranked No. 2, will fight for the WBC title on April 26 and third-ranked Ryuichi Funai is likely fighting for the IBF title, held by Jerwin Ancajas, but that fight has not been announced.

What’s interesting about all of this is how Nietes approaches the end of his career. While the obvious line of thought would be for Nietes to go after Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, the only other boxer of his equal in terms of resume in the lower weight classes for the past 20 years. A fight between the two would be one worthy of being called a career-defining fight even though both men are well past their prime.

Gonzalez is aiming for a potential shot at WBA champion Kal Yafai, who is currently busy with negotiations to fight mandatory challenger Norbelto Jimenez. Unfortunately, the prospects of Nietes vs. Gonzalez in the meantime are somewhat low given that Gonzalez is recovering from knee surgery and only recently started working out.

So if not Gonzalez, then who else is out there at 115 pounds? There’s also the winner of the rematch between Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Juan Francisco Estrada for the WBC title taking place on April 26. A potential matchup between Sor Rungvisai and Nietes is also very appealing to most fans, but Nietes would almost surely be the definitive underdog.

Only time will tell what is going to be next for the four-division world champion, but one thing is certain and that is that Nietes’ career is coming to an end soon and he knows it. At 37 years old, Nietes is taking the same approach as James DeGale recently did by vacating his title in the hopes he gets the big money fight before retiring. The super flyweight division is loaded at the top with stars, but will any of them be willing and able to give Nietes the send-off that he is craving for?

James DeGale Announces His Retirement; PBC on ITV Results

James DeGale has officially announced his retirement from the sport of boxing.

After 10 years of fighting professionally, the British star announced in a statement, which can be read below in its entirety, that it is time for him to hang up his gloves and call it a career.

Today marks ten years since my professional debut fight on 28th February 2009 and today is the day I am announcing my retirement from boxing.

It’s been an unbelievable journey and I’ve had an amazing decade – if I’m honest, the best years of my life – and having started boxing at the age of nine then being selected as part of the England Amateurs squad, I’ve collected many memories along the way.

It hard to admit that I’m not the fighter I once was, but I’m human and along the way, my injuries have taken a toll – both on mind and body and these things have contributed to impact my performance in the ring.

I lost the fight on Saturday at The O2 but I’m touched to have a good send off from the fans in my home city.

The day after the fight, someone said to me that one fight does not determine a legacy. Looking back, if someone had told me at the start of my boxing career, when I was in the England squad, that I would become an Olympic Gold Medallist, British and European Champion and Two-Time World Champion, I would never have believed them, but I did it and I’d like to think I did it the clean, honest and hard way with discipline and respect to the sport I love.

I’m proud to say that I’ve made history as the first ever British Olympian boxer to turn professional and to win a World Title and I am also proud to have been a road warrior – to travel wherever I needed to be to fight and to win. There's nothing left to prove.

A majority of the greats go out on loss and for me, it’s time to hang up the gloves and to move on with my head held high.

Before I close off, let me mention a few people who have been with me through the highs and the lows:

Firstly, thank you to all of my fans and supporters – it’s been great to meet some of you along the way – thank you for your support – it’s carried me to the top!

To the media … there’s too many of you to thank personally but thanks for the coverage and for the jokes along the way. A special mention to Richard Maynard, you are a true gentleman and a pleasure to work with.

The major U.K TV networks that my fights have been televised on: Sky Sports, BT Sport, Channel 5, BBC and I’m happy that I ended on ITV. Showtime in the U.S who have a fantastic team that have featured me plenty of times.

Special thanks to:

My family and friends who have cheered me along from the start. Your loyalty and encouragement is second to none. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

To my trainer Jimsky – we did it Jim and we saw it through together – thank you for all your love, time, patience and advice. To you and all the McDonnell family – this is not goodbye - we will be friends & family for life.

Nick Palma – you came onboard more recently and I value the support you’ve given me during our sessions together – thank you.

Paulie Malignaggi – thank you for coming on board and for sharing your wealth of knowledge and experience of the sport. I always appreciate your direct honesty and support and consider you a friend for life.

Steve Newland – thank you for picking me up, brushing me and down and starting all over again and for believing in me – I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for you.

Joseph John – my sidekick and my true friend who tells me what I need to hear rather than what I want to hear – I appreciate your friendship. Thank you.

My eternal love and gratitude goes to my Mum and Dad for being there through thick and thin from the very beginning – I couldn’t have done this without you!

To my siblings - my Sister Eloise (Smells) for being at my beck and call 24/7 – thank you! My two brothers Alex and Lewis and my cousins Jacob and Rian who stood in the background and willed me on and wanted me to succeed no matter what – thank you!

Last but not least THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND, the family man - Alan Haymon for supporting and guiding me through the last chapter of my career! You put the boxers first! I will never forget you.

Thank you to each and everyone one of you for the part you have played in my career and in making me THE ROAD WARRIOR, THE HISTORY MAN!

Thank you for the memories - over and out.

James ‘CHUNKY’ DeGale MBE
28th February 2019

The news comes less than a week after DeGale lost a fight against Chris Eubank Jr. at the O2 Arena in London. DeGale lost the bout by unanimous decision after getting knocked down twice during the fight. After the fight, DeGale failed to commit to retire when asked about it at the time, he did say that he would likely call it quits.

DeGale retires with a 25-3-1 pro record, becoming a two-time IBF super middleweight world champion. The 33-year-old DeGale also had a stellar amateur career, winning an Olympic gold medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. DeGale has fought notable fighters throughout his career, such as Eubank, George Groves, Caleb Truax, Lucian Bute, Cristian Sanavia among others.

PBC on ITV from the O2 Arena Results:

Chris Eubank Jr. defeated James DeGale by unanimous decision (114-112, 115-112, 117-109) to win the IBO Super Middleweight title: The fight saw the physically superior Eubank overwhelm DeGale almost from the start. Eubank scored the first knockdown of the fight in the second round by landing a flurry of punches, dropping DeGale. Although DeGale got back up, he never looked comfortable in the ring, constantly having to deal with Eubank's speed and power. The second knockdown saw Eubank land a big left hook that sent DeGale to the ropes and eventually led to Eubank dropping his opponent once more. DeGale didn’t put up much of a fight that would swing the cards in his favor for the remainder of the bout.

Joe Joyce defeated Bermane Stiverne by TKO, round 6 to win the WBA Gold Heavyweight title: Joyce dominated the fight, but Stiverne managed to land several power punches upstairs in the first round. Joyce dropped Stiverne with a big right hand in the third round and although Stiverne recovered, he was never able to pose any trouble for Joyce. Joyce ending things with a flurry of punches late in the sixth round that forced the referee to stop the fight and award him the victory. The bout served also as a title eliminator not for the WBA world title that Anthony Joshua has, but the WBA secondary world title that Manuel Charr has. Charr was originally supposed to fight mandatory challenger Fres Oquendo, but the fight fell apart, meaning Joyce, the No. 5 heavyweight in the WBA rankings, would likely be the next man in line to fight Charr.

Shawn Porter vs. Yordenis Ugas Preview

Premier Boxing Champions’ next Fox card is set to take place on March 9 at the Dignity Health Sports Park with a main event of Shawn Porter vs. Yordenis Ugas for the WBC welterweight title.

The fight will mark the return of Porter into the spotlight as a world champion, something that he wasn’t able to do since 2014 when he was the IBF titleholder. Now in his first defense, Porter aims to further stake his claim as the division’s top welterweight as the division’s champions are very busy with their own big fights in the first few months of 2019.

With other champions such as Keith Thurman, Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr. and Manny Pacquiao either recently defending their respective titles or are going to do so soon, it’s can be understood if this fight is under the radar. That’s not to say there is no intrigue in this fight. In fact, from a interpersonal standpoint, Porter vs. Ugas may be the most intense among the welterweight matchups as of late. The two have shared a sparring session that both fighters did not wish to speak a whole lot about, which is an unwritten rule among fighters, but one could also interpret as something noteworthy happened between the two.

For Porter, a win over Ugas might not add a lot to his legacy, but it is imperative that he performs well in this fight if he hopes to get superfights against some of the other champions down the road and perhaps have an eventual pay-per-view main event. In an exclusive interview with Fightful, Porter looked at Ugas and understands the unique challenge that Ugas brings to the table. Aside from his obvious physical gifts and underrated punching power, Ugas carries perhaps the most dangerous weapon of them all: momentum.

Ugas is coming into the fight on an eight-fight win streak, looking impressive or dominant in nearly every single win in the last few years. His 12-round decision win over Cesar Barrionuevo might not inspire a ton of confidence in people picking Ugas to beat Porter because of how lackluster Ugas looked in dragging the fight to the scorecards instead of knocking him out.

But make no mistake in believing that Ugas is incapable of letting his hands go. A quick look at Ugas’ win over Ray Robinson shows that when pushed into a physically demanding firefight, Ugas can be aggressive. A win over Porter will certainly be looked as a major upset by many, but it shouldn’t be a truly shocking upset given the factors in play for the Cuban.

The undercard features a mix between promising prospects and former world titleholders looking to get back into contention. Heavyweight prospect Efe Ajagba, who is a long-term project, but short career thus far looks very promising and his next fight will be against 46-year-old Amir Mansour, who didn’t fight for nearly a decade in the 2000s after serving more than eight years in prison on a controlled substance charge. Although Mansour is nearing 50 years old, he has faced several notable names in recent years such as Filip Hrgovic, Dominic Breazeale and Sergey Kuzmin among others. Also on the undercard 2016 Olympian Eimantas Stanionis who is 7-0 as a pro since making his debut in the paid ranks in 2017.

As far as the veterans are concerned, former world champions Jesus Cuellar and Robert Guerrero are going to fight in separate fights.

Tale of the Tape: Shawn Porter vs. Yordenis Ugas

Shawn Porter:

Record: 29-2-1 (17 KO)

Age: 31

Height: 5’7”

Reach: 69.5”

Notable Wins: Danny Garcia, Andre Berto, Adrien Broner, Paulie Malignaggi, Devon Alexander, Julio Diaz

Titles Won: WBC Welterweight, IBF Welterweight titles

Yordenis Ugas:

Record: 23-3 (11 KO)

Age: 32

Height: 5’9”

Reach: 69”

Notable Wins: Ray Robinson, Thomas Dulorme, Jamal James

Titles Won: N/A

Dmitry Bivol vs. Joe Smith Jr. Preview

Matchroom Boxing USA returns to New York for a world title doubleheader on DAZN on March 9. The card, taking place at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York, will feature WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol defending his title against Joe Smith Jr.

Bivol is one of boxing’s brightest stars at light heavyweight and has looked good throughout his world title reign, although now the boxing community calls for bigger fights than the ones Bivol has had as of late. Bivol had been primed for a potential showdown against Sergey Kovalev, but after Kovalev lost his WBO title against Sullivan Barrera last year, those plans fell through, leaving Bivol and his team to rethink his short-term future.

The short-term future resulted in Bivol signing with DAZN, where the 175-pound roster is somewhat shallow, but the Russian has hinted in the past about a possible drop to super middleweight where there are greener pastures.

Smith, on the other hand, is currently looking to re-establish himself as a top light heavyweight. After Smith retired Bernard Hopkins in 2016, his career failed to give him a world title shot until now. Smith lost to Sullivan Barrera in 2017 in a fight where the winner was almost assured an eventual world title fight, but the New York native bounced back with a first-round knockout win over Melvin Russell.

As for the other world title fight, WBO junior welterweight champion Maurice Hooker is defending his title against Mikkel LesPierre. The fight is Hooker’s second title defense since upsetting Terry Flanagan last year in the United Kingdom last year to claim the vacant belt.

In a loaded junior welterweight division that also features the likes of Ivan Baranchyk, Regis Prograis, Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez among others, Hooker’s path to becoming the top fighter in the division might be a little murky unless he gets a fight against any of the other champions. In an exclusive interview with Fightful, Hooker said he aims to knock out LesPierre then defend his title in his hometown of Dallas in June and aim for unification fights in 2020.

Not much is known about LesPierre aside from his undefeated record and 20-fight win streak heading into the fight. LesPierre’s resume is not that impressive on paper with no signature wins against a reputable opponent. In fact, three of his last five wins have been against opponents with 15 or less pro bouts under their belt and one of those fighters was making his pro debut. It’s easy to see why LesPierre is being seen as a massive underdog, but crazier things have happened in boxing but a win over Hooker would definitely be an “Upset of the Year” contender by the end of this year.

Tale of the Tape: Dmitry Bivol vs. Joe Smith Jr.

Dmitry Bivol:

Record: 15-0 (11 KO)

Age: 28

Height: 6’0”

Notable Wins: Jean Pascal, Sullivan Barrera

Titles Won: WBA Light Heavyweight title

Joe Smith Jr.:

Record: 24-2 (20 KO)

Age: 29

Height: 6’0”

Notable Wins: Bernard Hopkins, Andrzej Fonfara

Titles Won: WBC International Light Heavyweight title

Tale of the Tape: Maurice Hooker vs. Mikkel LesPierre

Maurice Hooker:

Record: 25-0-3 (17 KO)

Age: 29

Height: 5’11”

Reach: 80”

Notable Wins: Alex Saucedo, Terry Flanagan

Titles Won: WBO Junior Welterweight title

Mikkel LesPierre:

Record: 21-0-1 (10 KO)

Age: 34

Height: 5’8”

Notable Wins: N/A

Titles Won: WBC FECARBOX Junior Welterweight, WBC USNBC Junior Welterweight titles

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