Povetkin-Whyte rematch moved to March 27

Dillian Whyte’s eagerly anticipated rematch with Alexander Povetkin is heading to Gibraltar on a new date of Saturday March 27, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and on DAZN in all other markets excluding the UK and Ireland.

The British Heavyweight contender was set to face Povetkin on March 6, but travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic have meant the fight has been pushed back three weeks.

Brixton’s Whyte will be attempting to avenge his shock knockout defeat to Povetkin last summer, with an announcement on a venue to be made in due course.

Matchroom Sport Managing Director Eddie Hearn said: “In the current environment we are always having to think on our feet. We did everything to try and make March 6 happen, but with the new travel restrictions it was impossible. Now we have something outside the box, compelling, and a unique setting for one of the Heavyweight Fights of the Year – roll on the Rumble on the Rock!”

Broner, Santiago make weight for fight on Saturday night

Adrien Broner(33-4-1, 24 KOs) will make his much-anticipated return on Saturday against Jovanie Santiago(14-0-1, 10 KOs) in a 12-round fight at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn(SHOWTIME 9 p.m. ET).

The fight was initially supposed to be fought at 140 pounds, but the fighters agreed to fight at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds.

On Friday at the weigh-in, Broner came in at 146 pounds, while Santiago was 145 ¼ pounds.

Former heavyweight world title challenger Dominic Breazeale and highly touted contender Otto Wallin will square off in the 12-round co-feature of the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast and former world champion Robert Easter Jr. and contender Ryan Martin who will meet in a 12-round super lightweight bout to open the telecast.

Below are the official weights, judges and referees for Broner-Santiago, Breazeale-Wallin and Easter Jr.-Martin:

Welterweight Bout – 12 Rounds

Adrien Broner – 146 lbs.

Jovanie Santiago – 145 ¼ lbs.

Referee: Arthur Mercante; Judges: Tom Carusone (Conn.), Glenn Feldman (Conn.), Peter Hary (Conn.)

Heavyweight Bout – 12 Rounds

Dominic Breazeale – 261 ¼ lbs.

Otto Wallin – 240 ½ lbs.

Referee: Johnny Callas; Judges: Tony Paolillo (N.Y.), Waleska Roldan (N.Y.), Tom Schreck (N.Y.)

 Super Lightweight Bout – 12 Rounds

Robert Easter Jr. – 139 ¾ lbs.

Ryan Martin – 139 ½ lbs.

Referee: Harvey Dock; Judges: Tom Carusone (Conn.), Frank Lombardi (Conn.), John McKaie (N.Y.)

Photo: Amanda Westscott/Showtime

Broner: ‘I’m coming to sweep it all up; WBA, WBO, WBC, IBF’

Adrien Broner is back, and hopefully, for him, he’s better than ever. Broner(33-4-1, 24 KOs) will return on Saturday night against Jovanie Santiago(14-0-1, 10 KOs) in a 12-round fight at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn(SHOWTIME 9 p.m. ET). The fight was initially supposed to be fought at 140 pounds, but the fighters agreed to fight at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds.

 The last time we saw Broner was over two years ago when he lost to Manny Pacquiao. After a series of legal issues, Broner is finally back in the ring. Despite the setbacks, the 31-year-old Broner, a four-division world champion, expects to be at the top of the sport again.

“I feel like I’m going to be a world champion again, again, again and again,” Broner said at the final press conference on Thursday. “Until I’m really done with boxing. Yes, I took two years off from boxing, retired, and let my body heal and rest. I just feel like I’ve got what it takes to win more championships in different weight classes, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

According to Broner, he has stopped partying and drinking and has lost around 35 pounds during training camp for this fight. 

“I went through a lot of things, honestly,” he said. “One day, I just woke and said, ‘I’m done.’ In order to change, you’ve got to make change, or you’ll steady get caught up doing the same thing. I cut a lot of stuff, I stopped doing a lot of stuff, and I got myself together. It was a long road to get to where I’m at today, and now I’m here.”

Broner had a message for all the world champions out there.

“Listen, if you got a belt, just hold on to it,” he said. “I’m coming to sweep it all up; WBA, WBO, WBC, IBF. I’m coming to get them all.”

This is Broner’s last stand. The time is now for him to change things around. He owes people a lot of money right now, so it’s imperative that he wins on Saturday night, so he can be in  position to get a bigger fight, which means bigger money. 

Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME


Canelo on short-term goal: ‘To win all the titles at 168 pounds’

Canelo Alvarez says his desire to create history is the driving force that keeps him striving for greatness as he prepares to defend his WBC, WBA Super and Ring Magazine World Super-Middleweight titles against Avni Yildirim at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Saturday February 27, live worldwide on DAZN (except Mexico).

Alvarez (54-1-2 36 KOs) is straight back into action following his clinical win over Callum Smith in December to claim the WBC and Ring Magazine straps and now puts his 168lb belts on the line against WBC mandatory challenger Yildirim (21-2 12 KOs) as he plots his path to becoming the first Mexican to be undisputed champion at Super-Middleweight.

Canelo believes he can set the example for other fighters to follow and look to claim all the belts and secure a legacy, something that motivates him and his trainer Eddy Reynoso to strive to break records and set new goals.

“It’s important for me and Eddy because very few people have achieved becoming undisputed champions,” said Canelo. “And that’s a short-term goal for us. To win all the titles at 168 pounds.

“Obviously, no Mexican has ever done it. So that’s our short-term goal, to keep making history. And that’s what we want. Eddy and I have always wanted the best. And we want to keep making history.

“I think it’s important, not just for me, but for all fighters. To make history in boxing is very important, I think. It’s very important to me to leave behind a legacy in this sport. And that’s why we’re doing this. To keep making history and so when people talk about boxing, they always remember me.”

Canelo’s clash with Yildirim is part of huge night of action at the home of the Miami Dolphins.

Julio Cesar Martinez (17-1 13 KOs) provides the chief support as he defends his WBC World Flyweight title against mandatory challenger McWilliams Arroyo (20-4 15 KOs) while Chinese Heavyweight star Zhilei Zhang (22-0 17 KOs) faces Jerry Forrest (26-4 20 KOs) over ten rounds.

A host of young talents get the chance to shine on the card in the form of Diego Pacheco. (10-0 8 KOs), Alexis Espino (6-0 4 KOs), Marc Castro (1-0 1 KO) and Aaron Aponte (1-0 1 KO).

Dirrell-Davis set for February 27

 Two-time super middleweight world champion Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell takes on Kyrone “Shut It Down” Davis in a 12-round WBC Super Middleweight World Title eliminator to headline FOX PBC Fight Night live on Saturday, February 27 from the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles.
The show features two of the most sensational teenage boxers in the sport as 19-year-old welterweight rising star Jesus Ramos battles Jesus Bojorquez in a 10-round co-feature and 18-year-old exciting prospect Vito Mielnicki, Jr. squares off against Noe Lopez in an eight-round welterweight match to open the broadcast at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. The event is promoted by TGB Promotions.
Dirrell (33-2-1, 24 KOs), a two-time WBC 168-pound world champion, is a battle-tested veteran who never backs down from anyone in the ring. The 36-year-old Dirrell won the WBC title for the first time with a unanimous decision over Sakio Bika in 2014. The native of Flint, Michigan lost the title the next year to Badou Jack by majority decision. He put together six straight victories after that loss to get back into position to fight for the championship again. He won the title with a technical decision victory over Avni Yildirim in 2019. Dirrell is the younger brother of Andre Dirrell, who won a bronze medal as a member of the U.S. Olympic boxing team in 2004. He is coming off a hard-fought loss to former champion David Benavidez.
“I feel great, camp has been great and it feels good to get back in the ring with everything that’s been going on in the world,” said Dirrell. “Kyrone Davis has fought some good guys but with me being me, he’s biting off a little more than he chew. Fans can look forward to a knockout on February 27. I’m not playing, I’m going to make a statement.”

Davis (15-2, 6 KO) will face the toughest challenge of his career when he steps in against the more experienced Dirrell. The 26-year-old Davis from Monmouth, N.J. will be moving up to super middleweight for this match. His last fight was a TKO victory over Antonio Todd at middleweight in January 2020.  His only two losses came against Junior Castillo and Patrick Day in 2018. His most notable victory so far came against Marcos Hernandez in 2017. Hernandez was undefeated at the time.

“I’ve worked extremely hard and I’m thankful for the opportunity and plan to take full advantage of it,’’ Davis said. “It’s my turn and you’re going to see that on FOX PBC on February 27.”
Ramos (14-0, 13 KOs), the nephew of welterweight contender Abel Ramos, steadily increased the toughness of competition in 2020. The 19-year-old from Casa Grande, Arizona has scored four-straight knockout wins following his only pro fight that has gone the distance, which came in a June 2019 unanimous decision over Kevin Shacks. In his last fight Ramos scored a fourth round stoppage against Naim Nelson in December 2020 on FOX.
“I’m very excited to be back in the ring on February 27, just two months after my last fight,” said Ramos. “I want to stay active this year, and I can’t wait to kick off 2021 with another solid performance.”
Bojorquez (24-2, 18 KOs) has scored four straight victories since losing to Abner Lopez. All four of those victories came by way of stoppage. The 33-year-old Bojorquez from Sonora, Mexico will be fighting for the first time in the United States. He’s coming off a fourth round TKO win over Jose Luis Araiza.
“I know Ramos is a tough young boxer and he’s been on a hot streak. But I’ve been on a hot streak too and my experience will be the deciding factor,’’ said Bojorquez. “I’m looking forward to going against him in an exciting fight on FOX PBC in prime time. I expect it will be a tough fight but I’m ready for anything that he can come with on February 27.’’
Representing Roseland, New Jersey, Mielnicki (7-0, 4 KOs) began turning heads during an exceptional amateur career where he compiled a 147-22 record and was named the Most Oustanding Boxer of the 2011 Junior National Golden Gloves amongst many accolades before turning pro. Last December, the 18-year-old welterweight dropped Steven Pulluaim twice on his way to a six-round unanimous decision.
“Camp is going great and I’m in the best shape of my life,” said Mielnicki. “I can’t wait to showcase my talent on FOX in my first eight-rounder.”
Veteran Lopez (10-3-1, 4 KOs) hails from the fighting town of Jalisco, Mexico and currently resides in Spring, Texas. He’s remained active during the pandemic, fighting three times in 2020, including two victories and a points loss to Joseph Francisco last November.
“I’m really excited about this fight,” said Lopez. “I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this and I’ve been training hard for months now. Mielnicki is a young, strong kid. I’m going to go out there, test him and shock the world.”

Broner on making Hall of Fame: ‘I think I’ve done enough already’

Former four-division world champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner. previewed his showdown taking place Saturday, February 20 live on SHOWTIME at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

The popular Broner (33-4-1, 24 KOs), who by the age of 26 had captured world titles at 130, 135, 140 and 147 pounds, will end his two-year hiatus from boxing and continue his quest for a fifth world title by returning to face Jovanie Santiago (14-0-1, 10 KOs) in a 12-round super lightweight bout.

Here is what Broner had to say about training camp, his matchup with Santiago, and more:

On his matchup with Jovanie Santiago…

“Santiago is hungry. He’s still undefeated and he definitely doesn’t want to lose. It’s going to be a great fight. He’s definitely going to come to fight. Anybody that has a chance to fight an Adrien Broner to put their career up another step, they’re going to bring their A-game. I’m just training my hardest and I’m going to come in and be ready on February 20.

“He’s a hell of a fighter. He’s got great skills. But I just think I’m on a different level. February 20 people are going to see that I’m still the Adrien Broner who can take over the sport. In boxing I’ve learned that it only takes one performance to bring everybody back. All I have to do is go out there and perform and everybody will be back on the bandwagon.

On his motivations for this fight…

“Even if I didn’t have these pending court cases against me, I’d still be working my ass off to come back and make a fortune. That has nothing to do with my motivation. God gave me a blessing and gifted me with some great talent and I’m not going to let it go to waste. The motivation is that I miss the sport. I miss being on top. I miss being champion and I’m going to take another run at being champion.

“I’ve found my love for boxing again. I gave myself some time to miss boxing and I’m ready to go in there and win some more world titles. My children are what fuel me now.

On how he plans to stay on track after this fight…

“I just need to go back to the gym after the fight. I’m trying to stay out of as much trouble as possible, stay out of jail and just work my ass off. I’m going to dedicate these last three to five years to straight boxing. I’m going to get as much as I can out of boxing and then retire and watch my kids grow up. I’ve matured a lot. I’ve been through a lot. It’s just time to get to business, make my money and do what I do best, and that’s box.

On getting back into fighting shape…

“I had to lose the 35 pounds and it was tough. I’ve put in the work. After this fight I’m going to stay on track and get right back to the gym. The goal is to become the five-time world champion, and then the sixth and the seventh time after that. I’m just working. I was so out of shape. I had to be gritty and I had to dig deep. Being out that long, I was overweight. I had to wake up and run miles and work my body back. It was tough.

“I’ve just had to change everything, change the lifestyle mostly. What would I tell a younger fighter? Just stay in the gym as much as possible. Don’t be blinded by the money and the lights and the girls and the partying life. I’m not saying don’t live your life. You can’t just box, box, box your whole life. You just have to stay relaxed.

On fighting at 140 pounds…

“I feel like 140 pounds is the weight that I want to be at. You can’t really say I made by bread and butter at 147. I’ve been a champion at 147 pounds but I’ve also been a champion at 140, 135 and 130 pounds. I think any fight at whatever weight Adrien Broner is at is a big fight. That’s the main thing. I want to fight where I feel the most comfortable right now in my career, and right now, I think 140 is the best for me.

On his legacy as a boxer…

“My career speaks for itself, honestly. A four-weight class world champion. I was one of the youngest to ever do it. And I’m going to be a five-time world champion soon. I’m just going to keep putting in the work and I’m going to stay focused.

“People forget that I’m only 31 years old. They sometimes look at me like an old head. It’s crazy. I have been around for a long time – about 11 years now. But I’m only 31 and I have a lot more in the tank. With my resume, I just feel like I have a lot more to do. I’m going to put the work in and I’m going to get it done. Of course, I think about the Hall of Fame. I think I’ve done enough already. I was one of the youngest to ever become a four-time world champion in four weight classes. But I’m going to go win some more titles and do what I do to seal the deal.”

Photo: Jose Pineiro/SHOWTIME

Richard Commey stops Jackson Marinez

Fourteen months after losing his IBF lightweight world title to Teofimo Lopez, Richard Commey made an emphatic statement, knocking out Dominican contender Jackson Marinez in the sixth round Saturday evening from the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble.

Commey (30-3, 27 KOs) knocked down Marinez (19-2, 7 KOs) twice in the sixth round of a competitive fight that had the judges split at the time of the stoppage. The second knockdown, courtesy of a right hand, prompted Kenny Bayless to call off the fight.

Sitting (and standing) ringside cheering on Commey was Lopez, the undisputed lightweight champion. 

Commey said, When I first started, I started very slow because I’ve been away for more than a year, so I had to take my time a little bit just to get my rhythm. My corner was telling me to do something. They saw that punch that took him down.
“After our fight, I saw {Teofimo} in the lobby and we chatted and hugged. He always liked me, and it’s pure love. For him to come down to my corner, it was motivating. It showed tremendous love, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. We gotta love each other, regardless of where you’re from or who you are. I appreciated {his support}.

Lopez Edges Sanchez

Adam Lopez is known for his all-action slugfests, but this time, he boxed, moved and ultimately picked up the most significant victory of his career. After dropping the first three rounds on all three judges’ scorecards, Lopez adjusted and edged former world title challenger Jason Sanchez (15-3, 8 KOs) via majority decision (95-95, 96-94 and 97-93) over 10 rounds to retain his NABF featherweight title.

Lopez (15-2, 6 KOs) has now won two straight since a controversial TKO loss to Oscar Valdez, while Sanchez dropped his second consecutive Bubble bout.

Lopez said, “I was 100 percent confident that I had won the fight. I felt l won most of the rounds. I noticed he tried to get the momentum, and I picked it up and got back to what was working. {Trainer} Buddy {McGirt} had to snap it out of me and get me back to my game plan, and once I did, it was like butter. It was easy.
“I know I have defense. I can box. I wanted to show that tonight. Jason is a tough opponent, but I wanted to show I could control things by moving and boxing more.”

Anderson Ices Ibeh

Heavyweight hopeful Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson had never been pushed as a professional. Enter Kingsley Ibeh (5-2-1, 4 KOs), the Bubble veteran who had designs of pulling off the upset. But in the sixth and final round, Anderson (8-0, 8 KOs) hit the sweet spot of Ibeh’s chin with a left hook and knocked him out cold.

Prior to the Ibeh bout, Anderson had never been past the fourth round. In round six, he made his statement, loud and clear. 

Anderson said, “We worked day and night for this. While they sleep, we’re working.
“We will keep fighting prospects and people who say they can’t be beat. I am here to fight the best. Since everyone wants it, why not give it to them?
“I wanted the Ibeh fight because I saw him push many prospects. The knockout came, and I made a statement.”

In undercard bouts:

Lightweight: Eric Puente (5-0) UD 4 Sergio Vega (2-1-1, 2 KOs), Scores: 40-36 3x. San Diego native Puente cruised to his fifth unanimous decision in as many pro fight, topping the previously unbeaten Vega in his third Bubble appearance since last July.

Welterweight: Jahi Tucker (3-0, 2 KOs) TKO 2 Eric Rodriguez (1-2, 1 KO), 1:50. Tucker, the 18-year-old prodigy from Long Island, put forth his most devastating performance to date, knocking Rodriguez down for the 10-count with a left hook to the liver. 

Middleweight: Troy Isley (1-0) UD 4 Bryant Costello (1-2, 1 KO), Scores: 40-36 3x. Former U.S. amateur standout Isley turned pro with pound-for-pound great Terence “Bud” Crawford in his corner and shined en route to the shutout. 

Isley said, “It felt good to get in there and get it out of the way, get some rust off. Going four rounds lets me know that we rehabbed properly {from shoulder surgery} and did everything we needed to do to get back.”

Bantamweight: Floyd Diaz (1-0) UD 4 Fernando Macias (1-2), Scores: 40-36 3x. Las Vegas-born prodigy Diaz flashed the blinding hand speed that made him a social media sensation and shut out Macias in a crowd-pleasing professional debut.

Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images)

Broner-Santiago, Breazeale-Wallin set for February 20 in Connecticut

 Former four-division world champion and must-see attraction Adrien “The Problem” Broner will end his two-year hiatus from boxing when he faces Jovanie Santiago in a 12-round super lightweight bout Saturday, February 20 live on SHOWTIME at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast also pits former heavyweight world title challenger Dominic Breazeale against highly touted contender Otto Wallin in the 12-round co-feature. The telecast opener features former world champion Robert Easter Jr. facing off against contender Ryan Martin in a 12-round super lightweight bout. The event is promoted by TGB Promotions. Breazeale vs. Wallin is promoted in association with Salita Promotions.

Cincinnati’s Broner (33-4-1, 24 KOs), is one of the most popular and colorful personalities in the sport. He quickly rose to prominence by combining supreme boxing with a brash outspoken personality. By the age of 26, he had captured world titles at 130, 135, 140 and 147 pounds, becoming one of only eight active fighters to win a world championship in four divisions. Broner has faced several multi-division world champions such as Paulie Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, Mikey Garcia, Jessie Vargas and Manny Pacquiao. Broner returns to the super lightweight division where he dominated Khabib Allakhverdiev to win a 140-pound title in 2015.

“I can’t wait to get back into the ring. It’s been a while. This will give me a chance to display my talents and show everybody what they’ve been missing,’’ Broner said. “I’ve been training and working very hard and everybody will see all of that hard work come together on February 20 on SHOWTIME.’’

Hailing from Dorado, Puerto Rico, the undefeated Santiago (14-0-1, 10 KOs) will make his stateside debut against Broner just two months removed from a dominating first-round knockout victory over then-unbeaten Juan Zegarra in the Dominican Republic. In 2017, Santiago defeated former super lightweight world champion DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley via unanimous decision, marking the only time he has allowed his opponent to go the distance since 2015. Known for his come-forward style, Santiago has campaigned at 140 pounds for the majority of his career and ascended to 14th in the WBA’s super lightweight rankings.

Breazeale (20-2, 18 KOs) has an impressive knockout ratio and numerous memorable knockout victories, including stoppages of Amir Mansour, Carlos Negron, and then-unbeaten Izuagbe Ugonoh. The 35-year-old has come up short in two heavyweight title opportunities against Deontay Wilder and current unified world champion Anthony Joshua. Born in Glendale, Calif., and now living in Eastvale, Calif., Breazeale was an outstanding high school football player who played quarterback at Northern Colorado University before taking up boxing. The 6-foot-7 heavyweight was also a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic® boxing team.

“Camp has been great. I’m working with my new trainer, Abel Sanchez, up in Big Bear,” Breazeale said. “Otto Wallin is going against a big guy who can punch and throws punches in bunches, so he’s going to be in trouble. I’m going to bring the pressure from the opening bell until the moment he hits the canvas.”

Wallin (21-1, 14 KOs) makes his second appearance on SHOWTIME within the Mohegan Sun “Fight Sphere” after defeating Travis Kauffman via fifth-round TKO in August. Before that, he nearly upset Tyson Fury in September 2019, when he opened up a gruesome cut over Fury’s right eye with a legal punch that almost halted the fight. While the 30-year-old lost to the lineal heavyweight world champion via unanimous decision, he proved his mettle as a potential heavyweight champion. Representing his native Sundsvall, Sweden, Wallin trains in New York with former champion Joey Gamache.

“Training has been going very well. I’m in a good place,” said Wallin. “Breazeale is a tough customer that’s always in firefights and is entertaining to watch. I believe it’s going to be a good fight. I’m pretty sure that he’s going to try and come out and go after me, so I don’t think I’ll have to look for him. I’m in great shape. I believe I’ll be able to break him down and take him out.”

A former IBF lightweight world champion, Easter (22-1-1, 14 KOs) won the vacant belt with a split decision victory over future world champion Richard Commey in 2016. The 30-year-old from Toledo, Ohio, successfully defended the title three times before losing it to four-division world champion Mikey Garcia in a 2018 unification clash on SHOWTIME. Following a split-draw against Rances Barthelemy in April 2019, Easter made his super lightweight debut on SHOWTIME in October 2019 with a unanimous decision victory over Adrian Granados.

Maxim Vlasov tests positive for COVID-19, fight with Smith Jr. postponed

Saturday’s Top Rank on ESPN main event between Joe Smith Jr. and Maxim Vlasov — for the vacant WBO light heavyweight world title — has been postponed after Vlasov tested positive for COVID-19.

Vlasov said, “I am devastated with the postponement of my world title fight against Joe Smith Jr. I have been following strict protocols, I have done regular testing with negative results, and I have no symptoms. I am well prepared and had an excellent training camp. I look forward to the rescheduling of the fight and the opportunity to display my world class skills.”

The Richard Commey-Jackson Marinez lightweight bout has been elevated to the main event and will headline the ESPN-televised triple-header beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. In the new co-feature, action star Adam Lopez will defend his NABF featherweight belt in a 10-rounder against former world title challenger Jason Sanchez. The ESPN telecast will open with Toledo heavyweight sensation Jared Anderson (7-0, 7 KOs) against Kingsley Ibeh in a six-rounder.

Hearn: ‘It’s great to see Canelo so active, especially in the world we live in at the moment’

Canelo Alvarez (54-1-2 36 KOs) makes a rapid return to the ring at the home of the Miami Dolphins, taking on his WBC mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim (21-2 12 KOs), with the WBC, WBA Super and Ring Magazine titles on the line.

The Mexican pound-for-pound king defeated Callum Smith in clinical fashion in San Antonio, Texas in December and the 30 year old looks to stamp his authority on the division, with Hearn looking at pitting Canelo against WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders next should Canelo win.

“It’s great to see Canelo so active, especially in the world we live in at the moment, I think it’s a real statement from him,” said Hearn. “He’s mixing it up by fighting in Miami at the Hard Rock Stadium, to be promoting Canelo at the home of the Miami Dolphins is pretty special. We’re going to have around 15,000 in there, Avni is the mandatory challenger and it’s a great opportunity for him and a big opportunity for Canelo to stay active hopefully before a big Billy Joe Saunders fight and on a huge night on February 27.”

Chief support on the night comes in the form of Canelo’s stablemate Julio Cesar Martinez defending his WBA World Flyweight title against his mandatory challenger, McWilliams Arroyo. Martinez (17-1 13 KOs) has been frustrated by injury ruling him out of two previously scheduled defenses, so Hearn expects the pintsized tyro to be at his thrilling best in a classic Mexican-Puerto Rican war with Arroyo (20-4 15 KOs).

“Julio Cesar Martinez is special,” said Hearn. “I think he can go through everyone in the division and even move up to Super-Flyweight and start looking at Estrada and Chocolatito, he’s so exciting and I can’t wait to see him in February 27.

“He will fight anyone, and Eddy Reynoso is confident in his ability. He was supposed to fight on the Canelo card in December so he should be hungry. Arroyo was a fantastic amateur with good pedigree and he’s a smart fighter, but I think that the footwork, strength and unpredictability of Julio will see him victorious.”

Elsewhere on the bill….

Zhilei Zhang (22-0 17 KOs) faces Jerry Forrest (26-4 20 KOs) over ten rounds: “I’m really excited about Zhilei Zhang, he punches very hard and he’s something different for the division. Forrest is a good Heavyweight and I expect a stunning KO and hopefully it’s from our man Zhang. I think he is getting to the point now where Zhilei needs to fight some of the guys in the top 15 like Derek Chisora, Joseph Parker, Filip Hrgovic and so on.”

Marc Castro (1-0 1 KO) faces Raul Corona (4-2-3 1 KO) over four rounds: “Marc was waiting for so long for that debut that he was a little over-excited in the first round, but when he settled down his shots were fantastic, and I loved the aggression from him. The kid is a star and it’s a big opportunity to have his second fight on a second Canelo card.

Diego Pacheco (10-0 8 KOs) faces Rodolfo Gomez Jr (14-4-1 10 KOs) over eight rounds: “Diego is still so young that you want to hold him back, but we have to progress him forward and we have done so on this card. It’s a big step up and he’s getting a great wave of support growing, Diego is a big star. Sparring is so important for young fighters and Diego is getting great sparring with the likes of Canelo and David Benavidez; Diego has been out for a while, but I expect a big performance.

Alexis Espino (6-0 4 KOs) faces Ashton Sykes (5-3 1 KO) over six rounds: “Alexis has had a nightmare with injury and then COVID, it was a frustrating 2020 but he’s out of that now and onto a busy 2021. He’s a good puncher, exciting and someone that in one or two more fights he’ll be ready to step up.”

Keyshawn Davis makes his pro debut against Lester Brown (4-2-3 1 KO) over four rounds: “When we announced Keyshawn was on the bill, I got 20 or so messages from amateurs and pros saying ‘this kid is the real deal’. It’s the biggest platform in boxing and Keyshawn is ready to go.

Aaron Aponte (1-0 1 KO) faces Harry Gigliotti (6-1 3 KOs) over four rounds: “It’s always great to have local talent on bills. Aaron has sold lots of tickets, I met him at our GGG show in December. Good amateur, tall, good looking, and with these guys you don’t know how they are going to progress, so you give them the platform and wait and see.”

The next action for Matchroom in the USA comes two weeks later and it doesn’t get much bigger than the mouth-watering rematch between Estrada (41-3 28 KOs) and Chocolatito (50-2 41 KOs).

The pair first clashed in November 2012 in Los Angeles, with Chocolatito successfully defending his WBA Light-Flyweight title via unanimous decision, and now over eight years later, they will meet again for the WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine World Super-Flyweight titles in a fight that has Hearn salivating.

“This is a great card, probably one of the best we’ve ever done,” said Hearn. “Everyone in boxing knows Estrada-Chocolatito is one of the fights of the year before the bell has rung – two legends, pound-for-pound greats, in a unification fight – this is everything that’s great about boxing. Juan Francisco wants to avenge his defeat and unify the division, but Chocolatito, who sprung back to life against Kal Yafai, has other ideas. The winner will fight Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, providing the Thai star is victorious on home turf the same weekend.”

Chief support action is provided by a rematch for the undisputed Welterweight World championship – repeat or revenge as Jessica McCaskill defends the belts against Cecilia Brækhus. McCaskill (9-2 3 KOs) ripped the titles from Brækhus (36-1 9 KOs) on the streets of downtown Tulsa in August, with the Chicagoan becoming a two-weight World champion in just her 11th pro fight and handing the Norwegian star her first career defeat.

“Jessica doesn’t get the credit she deserves,” said Hearn. “She took on Katie Taylor when she was vastly inexperienced and gave her one of her toughest fights. Came back to win the World title in Chicago and she’s never turned down a challenge, she unified the division and beat Cecilia to become undisputed at 147lbs. Jessica is a star, but Cecilia looks like she’s got the bit between her teeth and this is her last chance.”

There’s a Matchroom debut on the card for Hiroto Kyoguchi as he defends his WBA and Ring Magazine World Light-Flyweight titles against Axel Vega. Kyoguchi (14-0 9 KOs) defends the titles for the third time against Vega (14-3-1 8 KOs), and Hearn is looking forward to introducing the 27 year old to a global audience.

“Kyoguchi is a top pound-for-pound boxer, the number one in the Light Flyweight division and such a good fighter,” said Hearn. “Vera is an all-action guy and Kyoguchi is a class act so this will be a great fight – we would love to do something in Japan with him, but the plan is to unify the division and probably move up to Flyweight and you are going to enjoy watching him fight on an amazing card.”