Photos: Fury dominates Schwarz

Tyson Fury came to Las Vegas. He fought. He conquered.

Fury (28-0-1, 20 KOs), the lineal heavyweight world champion, defended his title for the fourth time via second-round TKO over previously undefeated German challenger Tom Schwarz (24-1, 16 KOs) at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

“I came here to put on a show for Las Vegas and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as i did,” Fury said. “I want to thank everyone for putting on a great show. ESPN was promoting the show every day for four weeks. There was a 2.5-hour documentary on ESPN last night. {Top Rank is} the greatest promotional company in the world.”

Fury, who entered the ring to James Brown’s “Living in America” in an homage to Rocky IV,  was never threatened by his challenger. A knockdown early in the second was the beginning of the end. Shortly thereafter, Schwarz’s corner threw in the white towel and referee Kenny Bayless stepped in to end the carnage.

Photos/courtesy: Top Rank/Mikey Williams

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Pacquiao: ‘Keith Thurman does not scare me; Keith Thurman does not intimidate me’

Senator Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) returns to Freddie Roach’s Hollywood-based Wild Card Boxing Club to begin phase two of his training camp in preparation for his rumble with undefeated WBA  welterweight super champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs), from Clearwater, Florida  — his third world championship fight in the past 12 months.   

What a whirlwind journey it has been for the Amazin’ Manny over the past 11 months.  It started out with him knocking out defending WBA welterweight world champion Lucas Matthysse in the seventh round of  their July 15, 2018 bout, which took place at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.  He returned to the ring, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, on January 19, and blitzed former four-division world champion Adrien Broner.  And next month, at age 40 1/2, he will look to complete his world welterweight championship hat trick against Thurman.  And in between?  There has been no down time for Manny.  He maintains a schedule that keeps the international icon thriving.  Manny traveled to the United Kingdom at the invitations of the prestigious Oxford Union and Cambridge Union to speak about his life and answer questions from the student members on consecutive days.  Then it was back to the Philippines and his duties as a Senator.

Up until last week’s Senate recess, it was 14 to 16-hour days divided into two-part rigorous training sessions and a full work day dedicated to his senatorial duties. Once the Philippine Senate session ended, on June 7, Team Pacquiao returned home to General Santos City to focus on training

“At age forty I want to prove I can still beat an undefeated champion,” said Manny.  “I like being an underdog in this fight.  It is nothing new and it is fun.  I have been an underdog my entire life.  Keith Thurman does not scare me.  Keith Thurman does not intimidate me.  Keith Thurman has inspired me.  I am training harder than ever.  This is the biggest test of my career.  It is a story that is forty years in the making.”

Now it’s off to Hollywood, California and his second home, Wild Card Boxing Club,  where Manny will endure the most intensive part of his training in preparation for his title fight against Thurman.  Holidays will be work days for this training camp.  Manny plans to hold off on celebrating July 4.  He will set off his fireworks when he steps into the ring with Thurman.

Malignaggi: ‘This fight ends with Lobov’s face falling off’

Former two-division boxing world champion Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi shared insights from his training camp as he prepares for his anticipated grudge match against UFC veteran Artem “The Russian Hammer” Lobov that headlines Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) action on Saturday, June 22 live on pay-per-view from Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall in Tampa, Fla.

The televised portion of the can’t-miss night of fights will begin at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT and will also see former UFC veteran Chris Leben in his second BKFC attraction, as he takes on longtime MMA veteran Dakota Cochrane. Plus, the finals of the BKFC Lightweight Tournament will pit Reggie Barnett against Johnny Bedford in a showdown for the BKFC Lightweight Championship.

Here is what Malignaggi had to say from training camp at the 5th Street Gym in Miami:

1) How has training camp has been going in California, New York and Miami?

“My training camp has been really good. We started in New York, went to California for a few weeks, then back to New York, and now Miami. It’s been a traveling training camp and that’s what’s made it fun. It can become tedious being in the same spot and doing the same things over and over again. We’ve tried different things, while also sticking with our basics. I’m up to par both mentally and physically.”

2) Did you do anything special to prepare for Lobov and your bare knuckle debut that you may not have done during training for your boxing matches?

“To prepare for Artem I hit the punching bag a lot more, because Artem is basically a punching bag with legs. I wanted to get used to that and get my fists accustomed to it. We’ve also done some other things to be prepared specifically for my bare knuckle debut.”

3) What will this last week entail heading into fight night next Saturday?

“We’re just making our final preparations now and doing the final overview of our game plan. We’re already sharp and we’re maintaining it. We’ll make a full-on decision soon about the approach we’ll take into the fight.”

4) How do we expect your fight against Lobov to play out stylistically?

“This is going to be a painful night for Artem. This is a world-class fighter against a punching bag with feet. He’s going to be very stubborn, but he’s going to get hit nonetheless. I think you’re going to see that I’m a different class of fighter. I’ve been a champion and I’ve been in the ring with many champions. He doesn’t have that experience. You’ll see what difference that makes on fight night.”

5) What would a victory at BKFC 6 mean for your professional fighting career?

“This would be another feather in my hat to get this win. I’m taking part in a new kind of combat and it would show that I can be successful and victorious in anything I put my mind to.”

6) What’s your prediction for how this fight ends?

“This fight ends with Lobov’s face falling off. I’m going to cut him up. I hope he lasts, because I want to beat him down round after round.”

Photo/courtesy: BKFC

Hooker on Ramirez fight: ‘This fight will define my career’

Maurice Hooker says the pressure of fighting at home in a career defining fight will bring the best out of him when he meets WBC World Super-Lightweight ruler Jose Ramirez in unification clash on Saturday July 27 at the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas, live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK.

Hooker (26-0-3 17 KOs) fights in his Dallas backyard for the first time as a World champion following three fights in enemy territory. Hooker puts his title on the line for the third time after ripping the WBO crown from Terry Flanagan in Manchester, England last June and travelled to Oklahoma City to get off the canvas and stop Alex Saucedo inside seven thrilling rounds in November. ‘Mighty Mo’ met Brooklyn’s Mikkel LesPierre in Verona, New York in March, flooring the unbeaten challenger in the ninth round of a dominant points win.

Ramirez (24-0 16 KOs) also puts his crown on the line for the third time having landed the vacant title at Madison Square Garden in New York in March 2018 against Amir Imam. The 26 year old’s first two defenses were on home soil in Fresno, putting Antonio Orozco on the deck twice in a points win in September and then a tight contest with Jose Zepeda in February where he held onto his title via majority decision.

“This fight will define my career,” said Hooker. “I will either be the star at 140-pound or I’ll have to start over again and try to build my name back up. I’m pumped up for this fight. I can fight at home and hopefully win some new fans at home as they can see me fight in person. The fight could have happened in New York or Las Vegas, it doesn’t matter, but I’m pumped for the first time that people can see me fight at home as a World champion.

“People have been hitting me up for tickets and getting excited about it, but I’m focused, I’m back in San Diego and working hard in camp. Everyone is going to be there and that’s more motivation for me. There’s pressure on me to win this fight for the fans as they have always given me great support, so I have to win it for them.”

A stacked undercard in support of the main event will see more World title action added to the card which already features the hotly anticipated debut of Murat Gassiev, who moves up from Cruiserweight and meets Philadelphia’s Joey Dawejko.

Houston-based rising talent Austin ‘Ammo’ Williams (2-0 2 KOs) is in action for the third time in the paid ranks, and the impressive 23-year-old can make it three straight first round KOs in his home state.

Photo: Matchroom Boxing

 

Fury: ‘I believe the fight with Wilder only helped my profile here in the United States’

Ten minutes before the press conference was set to begin, Tyson Fury waltzed onto the stage at the David Copperfield Theater and started the proceedings early. The Tyson Fury Show had officially hit the Vegas Strip.

Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) will defend his lineal heavyweight title against undefeated German challenger Tom Schwarz (24-0, 16 KOs) Saturday at MGM Grand Garden Arena, live on ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET).

He commented on his challenger’s good lucks and engaged in a pose-off with his adversary before the formal press conference got underway.

Here are some of things Fury had to say as he prepares to battle Schwarz:

On the response of the American people to him

Fury: “I feel like the crowd has warmed to me. Everyone has been very welcoming. The American people, all different types of people, have been coming up to me, people from all over the world here in Vegas. People who don’t speak English, people who don’t even watch boxing. It’s quite humbling, to be honest. It’s a very great experience to be here, Las Vegas, MGM Grand. It’s where all the great fights happen. Seeing your face on all the movie screens and posters is great.”

“I believe the fight with Wilder only helped my profile here in the United States, and here we are again, only a few days away from the biggest fight of my life.”

On his public battle with mental awareness

Fury: “I talk about mental health a lot because it’s very important to me. Only 18 months ago, I was in a very, very dark place. I just wanted to prove to people that there is a way back. You can come back from anything. Nothing is impossible, and if you’d seen me a time ago when I was very heavy and very unwell… I love to inspire people. to get better and change their lives as I did mine. And I’m living proof that anyone can change.”

“I was down and out. I have my family right here, and even those guys thought I was gone. There was no return for ‘They Gypsy King.’ No more. He was finished. I dusted myself off, got back on the road, got back mentally well, and me, {trainer} Ben {Davison} and the whole team, we worked very hard for a long time to get to this position.”

“I am living the dream. That’s why I’m so happy, so positive all the time. I’m one of the only people who is living what they want to do. There is nothing else that I wanted to do. As a kid, I wanted to be heavyweight champion of the world. So now, everything is a bonus. I wake up every day, enjoy life, and take life as it comes.”

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Claressa Shields aiming to become a three-division world champion

Undisputed middleweight world champion Claressa Shields will aim to make history by becoming the fastest fighter in boxing, male or female, to become a three-division world champion when she takes on former world champion Ivana Habazin Saturday, August 17 live on SHOWTIME.

The showdown for the vacant WBO Junior Middleweight Title headlines a SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION telecast at 9 p.m. ET/PT from Dort Federal Event Center in Shields’ hometown of Flint, Mich. The vacant WBC Women’s Diamond Super Welterweight Championship will also be on the line in Shields’ first professional fight in her hometown.

The 24-year-old Shields (9-0, 2 KOs) is a two-division titlist who became the undisputed middleweight champion with a near-shutout victory over Christina Hammer in April on SHOWTIME. In doing so, she joined Terrence Crawford, Jermain Taylor, Bernard Hopkins, Oleksandr Usyk and Cecilia Braekhus as the only fighters to have unified all four major world titles in any weight class (Katie Taylor has since joined the prestigious list).

Now, the Flint star seeks to make even more history in her sixth headlining appearance on SHOWTIME. With a win over Habazin on August 17, Shields would become a three-division champion in just 10 bouts, breaking the record of Vasiliy Lomachenko, who accomplished the feat in 12 fights.

“It’s hard to even put into words how excited I am to be returning home as undisputed champion and fighting in front of all my fans in Flint,” said Shields. “And having the opportunity to become world champion in a third weight division faster than any man or woman in boxing history will make August 17 a night I will cherish forever. It’s another big step forward in lifting women’s boxing on the road to equality.”

Habazin (20-3, 7 KOs), of Zagreb, Croatia, is ranked No. 1 by the WBO at 154 pounds. The 29-year-old, who will be making her U.S. debut, won the IBF Welterweight Title over Sabrina Giuliani in 2014. In her next fight, Habazin dropped a unanimous decision to Braekhus in a historic unification bout where Braekhus picked up all four major world title belts. Most recently, Habazin avenged one of only three losses in her career to Eva Bajic in Zagreb.

“I’m honored to fight on SHOWTIME and to be making my debut in the U.S.,” said Habazin. “It’s a dream come true and this is a huge chance for me to prove that I am one of boxing’s elite fighters. I will not let this opportunity pass. I’m not just coming to the U.S. to fight, I’m coming for victory.

“I’m actually a big fan of Claressa. She made history for women’s boxing and will be a great opponent for me. She’s very confident in herself, she’s aggressive, she can move, she has speed and good defense. But I have all of this too, and I can punch. I can’t wait to see what she is made of. They said her fight against Hammer was the biggest of all time, but I think this one will be the greatest ever.”

“I am delighted to promote another historic event featuring Claressa Shields, who strives to make history at a record-setting pace when she challenges herself to go down in weight to win a third division title against a very skilled and motivated fighter in Ivana Habazin,” said Dmitriy Salita, President of Salita Promotions. “Fans attending the fight at the Dort Center in Flint, as well as those watching the fight live on SHOWTIME, will be treated to another historic and exciting night of boxing featuring Shields.”

Shields was the first American boxer in history – male or female – to win consecutive Olympic gold medals. She turned professional following the 2016 Olympics and headlined the first women’s boxing main event in premium television history in just her second professional fight in 2017. Shields became unified women’s super middleweight world champion in just her fourth professional fight, and a two-division champion in her sixth professional contest. She was crowned the undisputed 160-pound champion in her ninth fight than three years after turning professional following the 2016 Olympics.

The undercard for the SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION telecast will be announced in the coming weeks.

Davis: ‘It was always a goal of mine to bring a world title fight back to my city of Baltimore’

Two-time super featherweight champion and Baltimore-native Gervonta “Tank” Davis will defend his WBA title in a championship homecoming against mandatory challenger Ricardo “Cientifíco” Núñez Saturday, July 27 live on SHOWTIME from Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will feature the youngest reigning American world champion in Davis, as he becomes the first world champion from Baltimore to make a homecoming defense in nearly 80 years.

Davis (21-0, 20 KOs) became the youngest reigning American world champion in 2017 when he delivered a star-making performance on SHOWTIME by knocking out Jose Pedraza for the IBF 130-pound title at just 22 years old. Now, he makes his return to his hometown to fight for the first time as a world champion.

The 24-year-old became the youngest two-time world champion in April 2018 when he knocked out Jesus Andres Cuellar in the third round of their WBA Super Featherweight Championship bout. Most recently he knocked out former world champion Hugo Ruiz in the first round of his first SHOWTIME main event in February. Davis, who owns knockouts in all five of his world championship fights, is the first Baltimore native to defend in his hometown since Harry Jeffra defended the featherweight world title in 1940.

“It was always a goal of mine to bring a world title fight back to my city of Baltimore,” said Davis, who has not fought in Baltimore since his fourth pro fight. “I’m excited and grateful to my team for helping make this happen on Saturday, July 27. Tickets will go fast, so don’t wait on buying them! I can’t wait to put on a great show and to see all my supporters in Baltimore help me make it a night to remember at Royal Farms Arena.”

The hard-hitting Panamanian Núñez (21-2, 19 KOs) will be making his U.S. debut on July 27 as he seeks to take advantage of his first world title opportunity. The 25-year-old is on a 10-fight winning streak in which he has scored nine knockout victories. After his opponent was forced to withdraw from a scheduled March 2 bout on SHOWTIME, Núñez scored a first-round knockout of Eduardo Pacheco in April to make it three consecutive knockouts heading into this championship bout.

 

Kownacki-Arreola, Browne-Pascal, Berto-Cruz set for August 3 in Brooklyn

Undefeated Polish star and Brooklyn-native Adam Kownacki will look to thrill in front of a hometown crowd when he steps into the ring against veteran former title challenger Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola for a 12-round heavyweight showdown that headlines FOX PBC Fight Night on FOX and FOX Deportes Saturday, August 3 from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™.

The broadcast starts at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and features former world champion Andre Berto taking on Miguel Cruz in a 10-round welterweight clash and unbeaten interim WBA Light Heavyweight Champion “Sir” Marcus Browne battling former world champion Jean Pascal in a 12-round bout.

The heavyweight division is red hot and Kownacki is a top rising challenger who will look to continue his ascent up the rankings with a win over the all-action veteran Arreola. This will be Kownacki’s ninth fight at Barclays Center, and his first as the headlining attraction.

Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs) is noted for his tenacity and has been progressing towards a world title shot with knockouts in five of his last six fights. The 30-year-old, who was born in Lomza, Poland and moved to Brooklyn when he was seven, was an accomplished amateur in New York City before turning pro. He scored an impressive unanimous decision victory over former world champion Charles Martin last year and is coming off of a devastating knockout victory against Gerald Washington in January on FOX. His last three fights and six of his last seven have taken place at Barclays Center, where he has routinely brought out the area’s passionate Polish sports fans.

Arreola (38-5-1, 33 KOs), a veteran of the heavyweight division, has contended for the world title three times, most recently against WBC champion Deontay Wilder in 2016. Since losing to Wilder, the 38-year-old Arreola from Los Angeles, California has put together back-to-back victories, including a stoppage of then unbeaten Jean Pierre Augustin on a PBC on FOX Sports pay-per-view undercard in March.

Berto (32-5, 24 KOs) has fought some of the top welterweight champions of this generation, including Floyd Mayweather. The 35-year-old won a welterweight world title with TKO victory over Miguel Angel Rodriguez in 2008 and successfully defended it five times before losing it to Victor Ortiz in 2011. He later avenged that loss to Ortiz with a knockout victory in 2016 on FOX. A native of Winter Haven Florida, Berto is coming off a split decision victory over former welterweight champion Devon Alexander in his last fight in August on FOX.

Cruz (18-1, 12 KOs) is among a group of promising welterweights prepared to burst onto the scene in one of the most talent-rich division in boxing. The 28-year-old from Lake Mary, Florida will be stepping up a level with his bout against Berto. He scored a TKO victory over Luis Eduardo Florez in his last fight in January to bounce back from a decision loss to Josesito Lopez on FOX in April 2018.

“I’m excited for all my Boricuas and NYC fight fans to come out and show love in August 3,” Cruz said. “I want to thank everyone who made this opportunity possible, and I’m definitely going to make the most if it. This is a different era in boxing and I’m here to prove it to the world and to Andre Berto. Don’t miss this night of boxing.”

The 28-year-old Browne (23-0, 16 KOs) won the interim title with a rousing unanimous decision victory over former two-division champion Badou Jack in January. A 2012 U.S. Olympian from Staten Island, Browne has fought at Barclays Center 12 times in his career as he made his steady climb up the light heavyweight ranks. Pascal will be the second straight former world champion that he has faced.

Pascal (33-6-1, 20 KOs) has been in the ring with the top fighters of his era during his brilliant career, including Bernard Hopkins, Sergey Kovalev, Carl Froch, Lucian Bute and Chad Dawson. The 36-year-old, who was born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti and now lives in Laval, Quebec, Canada, won the light heavyweight world title with a unanimous decision over Adrian Diaconu in 2009. He is coming off a loss to Dmitry Bivol in his last fight after putting together back-to-back TKO victories over Ahmed Elbiali and Steve Bosse.

Photo: Andy Samuelson/Premier Boxing Champions

Hooker-Ramirez lightweight unification set for July 27

Maurice Hooker and Jose Ramirez will clash in a World Super-Lightweight unification clash on Saturday July 27 at the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas, live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK.

WBO champion Hooker (26-0-3 17 KOs) fights in his home state for the first time as a World champion having won the title in stunning fashion in Oklahoma in November, getting off the canvas to KO Alex Saucedo in his backyard, the widely outpointing Mikkel LesPierre in his first defense in Verona, New York in March.

WBC ruler Ramirez (24-0 16 KOs) puts his belt on the line for the third time having landed the vacant strap in March 2018 against Amir Imam in New York. The 2012 Olympian handed a first defeat to Antonio Orozco in his first defense at home in September at the Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California, and then edged a majority decision against Jose Zepeda in February in the same venue.

“First of all I want to thank my promoters Matchroom Boxing and Roc Nation for getting me this opportunity,” said Hooker. “I’m proud to display my skills on DAZN – the best boxing platform out there. I’d also like to thank my team who are with me every step of the way. I want to show the world that I’m the best in the 140 lb. division. My dream is to become the undisputed champion in my weight class. This unification fight with Jose Ramirez is a major step towards that goal.

“Training camp for Team Mighty Mo Hooker is well underway and I’ll be at my absolute best on July 27 to take the green belt from Ramirez. It will be a thrill to do this in front of my home crowd and I’m looking forward to the energy they’ll bring to the ring. I am a dream killer, and Ramirez will be my next victim coming July 27.”

“I am ready for my opportunity to unify the titles,” said Ramirez. “To get the opportunity to be a unified champion is a blessing for me. I’m thankful to Bob Arum and Top Rank for believing in me to go out there and get the job done. I’m going to push myself hard to make the team proud.”

“This is a fight I wanted. I told my manager, Rick Mirigian, that I wanted to fight Maurice Hooker. I know this fight can take my career to the next level. I want to continue making statements at 140 pounds. I want to make it easier for people to decide who the best 140-pounder truly is.

“I’m treating this fight the same as when I won the title in New York City against Amir Imam. He was the taller fighter, the bigger fighter. It’s sometimes easier fighting someone in his backyard because it takes away some of my responsibilities behind the scenes. As the underdog, I have everything to win. It’s not just about defending my title but unifying the division as well. I’m ready to prove myself and show everyone what Jose Ramirez is all about. I can’t wait to bring Hooker’s title back with me to California.”

“I’m delighted to announce this excellent unification match-up between two great champions in Maurice Hooker and Jose Ramirez,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “These are the fights that boxing needs and the styles will gel into a real fight of the year contender. Both champions believe they have the edge in this fight, tune in July 27 on DAZN to find out comes out on top.”

“This looks like a terrific battle, and I’m predicting that our guy, Jose Ramirez, will emerge as the unified champion,” said Top Rank’s Bob Arum.

“This is a big fight for Maurice and our team,” said Roc Nation’s Dino Duva. We have been looking forward to it since he became a champion – a title unification match in his hometown, doesn’t get any better for a fighter and his team. Mighty Mo will seize this opportunity to win over the hearts of the great Mexican boxing fans. A victory over a fantastic champion like Jose Ramirez will catapult Mighty Mo into superstar pound for pound status! Big thank you and congrats to DAZN and Matchroom Boxing for stepping up and putting this unification match together. Additional thanks to Top Rank, Ramirez promoter for making it work. This is what great boxing is about.”

Lopez-Nakatani set for July 19

Teofimo Lopez is one win away from a shot at fulfilling his world title destiny. Standing in his way is fellow unbeaten Masayoshi Nakatani, who is intent on spoiling his plans.

Lopez and Nakatani will lock horns in a 12-round IBF lightweight world title eliminator Friday, July 19 at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The Lopez-Nakatani winner will be the mandatory challenger for the victor of the June 28 ESPN-televised bout between IBF champion Richard Commey and Ray Beltran.

In the highly anticipated chief support bout — also a battle of unbeatens — Maxim “Mad Max” Dadashev will take on Puerto Rican puncher Subriel Matias in a 12-round IBF junior welterweight world title eliminator for the belt currently held by Josh Taylor.

Lopez-Nakatani and Dadashev-Matias will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. The combatants in this special doubleheader have a combined 57-0 record with 47 knockouts.

The undercard, including the 10-round super featherweight contest between the unbeaten Erick De Leon and former world champion Jason Sosa, will stream on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.

Promoted by Top Rank, tickets for this world championship event priced at $100, $75, $50 and $25 (not including applicable fees) go on sale Friday, June 7 at 10 a.m. ET and can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com or in person at the MGM National Harbor.

“I’m excited to come back, especially for my first headlining bout, one of many to come,” Lopez said. “After Nakatani, you will see me face the winner of Richard Commey and Ray Beltran. If you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t. My goal is to be a worldwide star, and Nakatani is not going to stop me. Expect another badass knockout, and rest assured, I have something special planned for the celebration. For this fight, we’re doing a nine-week training camp, and I am going to be in the best shape of my career.

“The Takeover is coming July 19 to MGM National Harbor!”

“This fight is just a stop on the way to becoming world champion,” Nakatani said. “I hope all boxing fans in Japan and around the world will enjoy what I bring to the table.”

Lopez (13-0, 11 KOs), ranked No. 4 by the IBF, was born in Brooklyn, raised in Florida, and represented his parents’ native Honduras at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The 21-year-old’s rise up the professional ranks has been meteoric, as he made his debut on a Manny Pacquiao undercard in November 2016 and was the consensus 2018 Prospect of the Year. In 2019, he’s graduated to contender status. He knocked out former world title challenger Diego Magdaleno in seven brutal rounds Feb. 2 in Frisco, Texas. Lopez returned April 20 as the pay-per-view co-feature to the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan bout at Madison Square Garden. He thrilled the hometown fans, knocking out two-time European lightweight champion Edis Tatli in five rounds.

Nakatani (18-0, 12 KOs), from Osaka, Japan, is ranked No. 3 by the IBF and has gone the 12-round distance five times. He has held the OBPF lightweight title since 2014 and has made 11 successful defenses of that belt. Nakatani has won four in a row via knockout, and against Lopez, he will be making his first ring appearance outside of Japan.

Dadashev (13-0, 11 KOs) is a three-year pro who has made a seamless transition to the pro game. A former amateur standout for his native Russia, he won a reported 281 bouts in the unpaid ranks before turning pro under the guidance of famed manager Egis Klimas. Dadashev holds victories over former world champions Antonio DeMarco and Darleys Perez and has won nine of his last ten by knockout. He made his 2019 debut March 23 in Costa Mesa, California, knocking out Ricky Sismundo in four rounds. Matias (13-0, 13 KOs), a southpaw from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, has blown through his competition with ease, as seven of his fights have ended in the first or second round. He made his American debut last October in New Orleans, blowing away former two-division world title challenger Fernando Saucedo in one round.

“It doesn’t matter who I fight or where I fight. I am looking forward to the opportunity in front of me,” Dadashev said. “Matias is a dangerous fighter, but I am ready for whatever he brings. I have fought every kind of style as an amateur and a professional, and all of my experiences have led me to this fight.”

Sosa (22-3-4, 15 KOs), from Camden, New Jersey, upset Javier Fortuna in June 2016 to win the WBA world super featherweight title. He made one successful title before relinquishing his belt to pound-for-pound great Vasiliy Lomachenko. Sosa has won a pair of fights since a controversial decision loss to Yuriorkis Gamboa and knows that a win over De Leon (19-0-1, 11 KOs) will move him closer to another crack at the brass ring.

De Leon, a Detroit product, was a top U.S. amateur who won three consecutive National Golden Gloves championships (2009-11). He turned away Adrian Yung via unanimous decision last July in New Orleans, winning despite injuring his right shoulder in the opening round. De Leon returned to action March 23 in Costa Mesa, California, knocking out Jose Luis Gallegos in seven rounds.