Santa Cruz informs the WBA that he would fight Wood; Hrgovic-Zhang appears on the Usyk-Joshua II card; WBO orders Andrade-Alimkhanuly; Cotto joins ProBox TV; Quick hits; Show and tell
When Devin Haney easily defeated George Kambosos Jr. on June 4 in front of 41,129 spectators at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, to fully unify the lightweight division and become the first undisputed 135-pound champion of the four-belt era, he knew he was contractually required to go back to Kambosos’ home country for an immediate rematch if Kambosos wanted it.
According to a source with knowledge of the arrangements, Kambosos does, and the sequel is being scheduled to headline a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN show on Oct. 15 at renowned Rod Laver Stadium, home of the tennis Australian Open, in Melbourne (where it will be Oct. 16 Australia time).
The source claims that organizers and the State of Victoria government are still negotiating how to pay for the event.
Haney (28 to 0, 15 KOs), a 23-year-old from Las Vegas, defeated Kambosos (20-1, 10 KOs), a 29-year-old boxer, in June by scores of 118-110, 116-112, and 116-112 to win the fight and retain the WBC title for the fifth time as well as the IBF, WBO, and WBA titles. This was Kambosos’ first defense following his shocking victory over Teofim.
Although Haney is legally required to fight Kambosos once more, he has not fully committed to the match, leading many to believe he is looking for a bigger payday.
“It’s not necessarily Kambosos next,” Haney said during a brief interview with DAZN during the Ryan Garcia-Javier Fortuna fight on Saturday. “We’re weighing out our options. It could be Kambosos. We just got to see.”
According to numerous sources, the postponed heavyweight title eliminator between Filip Hrgovic and Zhang Zhilei will be added to the undercard of the rematch between Oleksandr Usyk, the current holder of the unified heavyweight title, and Anthony Joshua, the former two-time champion.
On August 20, the King Abdullah Sports City Arena in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, will host the Matchroom Boxing event. The arena was publicly introduced on Wednesday along with ticket details. It has previously held boxing, WWE, and other sporting events.
One of the required challenges for the winner of the main event will be the Hrgovic-Zhang winner. The eliminator was originally slated to occur on May 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, on the undercard of WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol’s defense against undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez. However, prior to the fight, Hrgovic withdrew due to the passing of his father, thus Zhang faced Scott Alexander on short notice and defeated him in the first round.
The WBO informed the teams of middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade and interim champion Janibek Alimkhanuly on Wednesday that they must negotiate the necessary fight. They have 30 days to reach an agreement; else, a purse bid will be set.
The WBO stipulated that Andrade (31 to 0, 19 KOs), 34, of Providence, Rhode Island, “must be medically and physically ready, willing, and able to fight,” adding that if he is not, Andrade will be stripped of his title and Alimkhanuly (12 to 0, 8 KOs), 29, of Kazakhstan, will be promoted to full titlist. Andrade has been sidelined since May with a shoulder injury that is expected to keep him sidelined for four
Andrade was supposed to test the waters at super middleweight on May 21 in England against Zach Parker for the vacant WBO interim 168-pound belt before getting hurt.
The interim title will be declared vacant if Alimkhanuly is unable to compete against Andrade, according to the WBO.
Although either party can request a purse bid at any time if they don’t want to negotiate, the minimum offer is $200,000 if the bout gets to a purse bid. Salita Promotions is representing Andrade now that he and Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn are no longer working together, and it has the WBO letter.
Santa Cruz ready to face Wood
Leo Santa Cruz, the WBA featherweight “super” champion, informed the governing body on Wednesday that he accepts the order to next compete against “regular” champion Leigh Wood in a mandatory bout in response to the organization’s request for a decision within 24 hours on Tuesday.
“Leo Santa Cruz is ready to make his mandatory defense against Leigh Wood,” TGB Promotions president Tom Brown, Santa Cruz’s promoter, wrote to the WBA in a letter obtained by Fight Freaks Unite. “Team Santa Cruz will be contacting (Wood promoter) Matchroom Boxing shortly to begin negotiations.”
The WBA promised last summer to reduce the number of titleholders in the category to one, and the order was a step toward that goal.
Santa Cruz (38 to 2 to 1, 19 KOs), 33, of Rosemead, California, who has not defended the title since February 2019 while competing in three fights at junior lightweight (in which he won and lost the WBA belt in that division), had previously informed the WBA he would defend against Wood (26 to 2, 16 KOs), 33, of England if he could get approval for a non title tune-up fight in February. The WBA approved the petition. The WBA ordered Santa Cruz-Wood on April 6 after Santa Cruz prevailed in the bout. They were given 30 days to come to an agreement or a purse bid would be mandated.
While they haggled over the division, the purse bid was not ordered since they were unable to come to an agreement. The WBA then claimed that it had received a request from Santa Cruz on July 11 asking for a special permit to sanction a rematch between Santa Cruz and the recently minted WBC champion Rey Vargas.
Santa Cruz was given 24 hours to let the WBA know if he will take part in the required defense against Wood after the WBA denied the request. In the event that a deal cannot be reached and a purse bid is required, the WBA set the purse split at 75-25 in Santa Cruz’s favor.
The WBA issued a similar directive in the cruiserweight division on Tuesday, and representatives of Ryad Merhy, the “regular” titleholder, and Arsen Goulamirian, the current WBA “super” champion, both responded on Wednesday by stating that their respective clients are prepared, willing, and able to meet on August 15 — the WBA’s deadline — for a mandatory fight.
Both parties wanted to know how long the negotiations would last and when, if necessary, a purse bid would be held.
Goulamirian of France (26 to 0, 18 KOs) has not made a title defense since knocking out Constantin Bejenaru on December 28, 2019, in France. On July 17, 2021 in Belgium, Belgian fighter Merhy (30 to 1, 25 KOs) defeated Chinese late substitute Zhaoxin Zhang in the eighth round to successfully defend his secondary belt for the first time.
Fans remember previously WBA’s Tuesday rulings at featherweight, cruiserweight, and super middleweight where it outlined Gennadiy Golovkin’s obligations, win or lose against undisputed 168-pound champion Canelo Alvarez in their third fight on September 17 (DAZN PPV), when it was stung by mounting criticism of the slow pace of its efforts to follow through on the promise to get down to one titleholder per division.
Cotto joins ProBox TV
In his home Puerto Rico, where there haven’t been many fights since the pandemic started, four-division world champion Miguel Cotto, who was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame last month, is bringing regular boxing events back.
At a press conference held on Tuesday at the Coliseo de Roberto Clemente in San Juan, Cotto Promotions and ProBox TV declared that they had reached an agreement to put on 15 cards from August through 2023 that will stream on the ProBox TV app, which was introduced in April and costs $1.99 per month or $18 per year.
Cotto joins the ProBox TV team, which also consists of partners Roy Jones Jr., Juan Manuel Marquez, Antonio Tarver, and Paulie Malignaggi as well as founder/CEO Gary Jonas.
The Coliseo Roberto Clemente, where all of the cards will take place, is scheduled to host the first game on August 19. With monthly cards through 2023, there are two more scheduled for this year on October 16 and December 9.
The majority of the contests will feature up-and-coming fighters signed to the Cotto Promotions roster, while Ivan Calderon, a former two-division world champion and close friend of Cotto, will serve as the broadcaster.
“We had been in talks with ProBox for a couple of months,” Cotto said. “They are people that know boxing and without hesitation we decided to become a part of this new platform. They know what they’re doing and have a very solid platform for boxing and we’re expecting a great collaboration. It gives us the platform to be able to do boxing as well as serving as a workshop to be able to do right by the boxers that are signed to the promotion. We will also begin to recruit boxers.
“This is not only going to be a platform based in Puerto Rico but will also have the opportunity to bring it into Mexico with Juan Manuel Marquez and workshops there to develop boxers. We plan to bring fighters from other Latin countries, such as the Dominican, to Puerto Rico to join our company.”
In 2023, ProBox TV intends to broadcast three live boxing matches every month, one each from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the United States.
After losing by decision to Yordenis Ugas in a fight for the welterweight world title in Las Vegas, the legendary eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KOs), 43, of the Philippines, retired last September. He then launched an unsuccessful bid for president of the Philippines this past spring. Pacquiao has now turned to face the ring and declared he will return for an exhibition fight. On December 10 in South Korea, he is slated to compete against Korean YouTuber DK Yoo over six two-minute rounds. DK Yoo, 43, has recently competed in exhibition matches, including one against Brad Scott, a former UFC fighter.
On Wednesday in Chonburi, Thailand, knockout CP Freshmart (24-0, 9 KOs), 31, who has held his title since 2016 and is the longest-reigning active male world champion, defeated former WBC champion Wanheng Menayothin (55-3, 19 KOs), 36, by unanimous decision to retain the WBA strawweight title for the 11th time. 119-109, 117-111, and 116-112 were the results. All three scorecards saw the younger, fresher CP Freshmart winning six of the first seven rounds until Menayothin came back to win rounds in the second part of the fight. Menayothin started off his career with 54 straight victories before going 1-3 with a no contest in his final five fights.
If no agreement is reached by August 1st, a purse bid for the vacant WBC junior welterweight title will take place on that day between former champion Jose Ramirez (27 to 1, 17 KOs), 29, of Avenal, California, and former title challenger Jose Zepeda (35 to 2, 27 KOs), 32, of La Puente, California. Josh Taylor recently renounced the championship rather than proceed with a required defense against Zepeda, leaving it vacant. Taylor, the unified champion, would rather compete against Jack Catterall in a repeat of their extremely contentious split decision victory in February. Ramirez successfully defended his WBC championship against Zepeda in February 2019 in a contentious majority decision. Ramirez’s promoter, Top Rank, stated that it is interested in publicizing the fight.
Shakur Stevenson (18 to 0, 9 KOs), 25, will defend his title against Brazil’s Robson Conceicao (17 to 1, 8 KOs), 33, on September 23 (ESPN) at the same location, according to a press conference held by Top Rank on Monday at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The contest marked Stevenson’s second defense of the 130-pound title and his first since April 30 in Las Vegas, when he stopped and outclassed Oscar Valdez to unify the WBO and WBC straps.
Show and tell
After Felix Trinidad, in his heyday, moved up to junior middleweight and beat David Reid handily to win the WBA championship in a Showtime pay-per-view match, he signed with HBO, where he would stay for the last eight fights of his career. He made a mandatory defense of his 154-pound title against the dangerous Mamadou Thiam of France in his first fight under the agreement. Thiam, who was 33-1 at the time, was a bull of a fighter and had been compared to a bigger version of former welterweight champion Ike Quartey. They first met at a rowdy Don King show at the American Airlines Arena in Miami. This was the first of the seven Trinidad fights I attended in person after beginning my job as the boxing writer for USA Today a few months prior. I recall being especially eager to travel to Miami to cover this show.
Despite the fact that the main event was a bit of a letdown, the trip and card were excellent. In the opening round, Trinidad severely beat Thiam, swelling his right eye. Since there was no knockdown in the round, the judges all gave it a score of 10-8. In the second round, Thiam made a comeback and even used a right hand to knock Trinidad back, but by the third round, Thiam’s eye was fully closed due to swelling. With 12 seconds left in the round, Trinidad’s renowned left hook was stopped by referee Jorge Alonso because he was unable to see it coming.
The anticipated victory increased Trinidad’s record to 38-0, and a month later, Fernando Vargas comfortably defeated Ross Thompson in a championship defense, setting the scenario for their historic title unification bout later that year. On Friday, July 22, 2000, which was 22 years ago, Trinidad-Thiam occurred. Here is a very unusual thin cardboard site poster I have from the fight.