Josh Kelly-Ray Robinson added to Joshua-Ruiz

Josh Kelly will make his U.S. debut against Philadelphia’s Ray Robinson on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s Heavyweight World title clash with Andy Ruiz Jr. at Madison Square Garden in New York on June 1, live on DAZN in the US and Sky Sports Box Office in the UK.

Sunderland star Kelly (9-0, 6 KOs) outclassed the previously undefeated Pole Przemyslaw Runowski on his big ring return at The O2 in London last month, flooring the gutsy challenger three times to defend his WBA International title with a classy unanimous verdict after winning all ten rounds.

Kelly was due to face former World Champion David Avanesyan on the undercard of Kell Brook vs. Michael Zerafa in Sheffield, but an illness scuppered a December dust-up between the pair. A showdown with the now European Champion is at the top of Kelly’s wish list should he come through his test against Robinson.

Robinson (24-3-1, 12 KOs) has lost only three times in his 28-fight career, one of those losses coming to current WBC Welterweight World Champion Shawn Porter in 2010, and the 33-year-old southpaw earned an impressive draw in his last outing in March against the undefeated and World rated Egidijus Kavaliauskas.

“To be boxing at the Mecca of boxing Madison Square Garden is pretty serious isn’t it,” said Kelly. “I’ve never been there before so I’m going to enjoy the experience and put a performance on. To be fighting at a venue like that so early on in my career is another box ticked on my journey.

“Things change and titles switch hands but the majority of World titles are held in the US at the moment so I could end up boxing there a lot more in the future. I just take things fight by fight and I never overlook anyone because I’d be doing myself and my opponent an injustice.

“Robinson is a very good opponent. He’s a good boxer with an awkward southpaw style so it’s another good test for me. It’s going to be a great fight and a night to enjoy. I get a lot of support from people in the US so it’s nice to have an opportunity to put on a performance in front of them.

“What happened with the Avanesyan fight was unfortunate but it’s a fight that’s still 100% on my radar. Adam has got a plan for it and I’ll just go with what he says. It’s definitely more than likely going to take place. June 1 is going to be the start of something big.”

“This is a great fight and a huge step-up for Josh on the biggest stage possible,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Robinson clearly won last time out and is an accomplished fighter that will test him in every department. This is the stage for him to shine, in front of a sold out MSG broadcast all over the World – June 1 we will really find out what PBK is all about.”

Adam Smith, Head of Sky Sports Boxing, said: “Josh Kelly is one of the hottest talents in Britain – and Madison Square Garden is a perfect venue for him to showcase his skills.

“We’ve covered Kelly’s exciting career from the very start. ‘PBK’ can now show American fans why he’s a name to watch in that red-hot Welterweight division.

“It will be a bumper evening of boxing as Katie Taylor bids to become the undisputed World Lightweight champion, and then AJ can mark his US debut with a bang against Andy Ruiz Jr!”

Kelly and Robinson clash on a huge night of action at Madison Square Garden where Joshua’s World title defense against Ruiz is supported by Irish sensation Katie Taylor clashing with Delfine Persoon for the undisputed Women’s World Lightweight championship and Chris Algieri and Tommy Coyle meeting in a crossroads Lightweight fight – with more undercard fights to be announced shortly.

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We expected Charlo-Hurd; what we could get is Harrison-Williams

The beauty of boxing is the unexpected can happen at any time. For example, look at the 154-pound division. In 2018, the thought was that then undefeated champions Jermell Charlo, and Jarrett Hurd would battle it out in unification fight. However, Tony Harrison happened. He beat Charlo by unanimous decision last December in Brooklyn to take Charlo’s WBC belt, and on Saturday night in Fairfax, Virginia, Julian Williams happened.

Williams shocked Hurd by unanimous decision, including dropping Hurd in round 2 to capture the IBF, IBO, and WBA belts.

Both Charlo and Hurd were headliners in their bouts against Harrison and Williams, which may have been something that overwhelmed them. There is a lot of things a fighter has to do when headlining a show: the appearances, the media, family, and more.

The 28-year-old Hurd said he didn’t feel like himself in the fight against Williams. Fighting in front of a raucous hometown crowd filled with family and friends as he hails from nearby Accokeek, Md.

“I wasn’t able to get off. I can’t really call it right now. I have to go back and watch. I was loading up on my shots instead of just letting my hands go,” Hurd said. “J-Rock was just the better man tonight. There’s definitely a rematch clause in our contract, and I’m going to go for it. I’m going to come back better than I was tonight.”

The 154-pound division is very deep. Besides the champions, you have Erislandy Lara, Erickson Lubin, Brian Castano, and more.

Charlo and Hurd won’t happen anytime soon, and in reality, if Harrison beats Charlo in their rematch in June, there is a chance we could see Williams-Harrison in a unification bout sometime in 2019. No one would have ever expected that one, but that’s boxing for you, the “theatre of the unexpected.”

Photo: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

Williams: ‘Maybe I wasn’t ready for the title the first time I got the shot’

Julian “J-Rock’’ Williams knew he was walking into the lion’s den when he traveled from Philadelphia to Virginia to face undefeated unified super welterweight champion “Swift” Jarrett Hurd in his backyard. But Williams (27-1-1, 16 KOs) wasn’t afraid.

He came. He saw and he conquered Hurd (23-1, 16 KOs), scoring a 12-round unanimous decision, handing Hurd his first loss and taking the IBF, WBA and IBO championships before a hometown crowd at the EagleBank Arena on the campus of George Mason University.

The crowd and the primetime audience, which tuned in to FOX and FOX Deportes, witnessed a valiant performance from both Williams and Hurd in what will certainly be a “Fight of the Year’’ candidate. The judges had Williams handily defeating Hurd with scores of 116-111 and 115-112 twice.

Williams had come up short in his previous attempt at a world title when he was stopped on via TKO by Jermall Charlo in 2016. He was overwhelmed by emotions after his upset victory over Hurd, who was a presumptive favorite over the 29-year-old Williams.

“I am just overwhelmed. This is such a great feeling. I outclassed him. I am one of the best fighters in the world,” said Williams. “Maybe I wasn’t ready for the title the first time I got the shot. I took the loss. I took it like a man and the whole world doubted me. I went into this fight a five to one underdog.’’

“This is a dream come true. I have been waiting for this for years. I never ditched the gym. I never got into girls or left the gym. I am from the streets, but I was never in the streets. I was in the gym practicing my craft.

“The only people that believed in me were my team, but all I can say is ‘and the new’!”

Williams jumped on the defending champion right out of the gate, throwing crisp punches behind a pistol-like jab. Williams dropped Hurd in the second round with a shot to the temple.

Sensing he had stunned Hurd, Williams came out firing in the next round. He picked up the pace and Hurd decided to match the ferocity of the attack rather than wither under it. Midway through the third round, Hurd landed a blistering left uppercut that snapped Williams’ head upward and slowly started to regain his form.

By the seventh round, the fight had become a war of attrition and a test of wills. Hurd was cut over his left eye in the eighth round. By then, Williams was completely in control.

You have to feel good for Williams. He was determined to beat Hurd, and it showed. Due to a rematch clause, we’ll probably see Williams against Hurd again, which is not a bad thing after what we saw on Saturday night in Virginia.

Photo: Stephanie Trapp/TGB Promotion

 

Pacquiao-Thurman set for July 20 on FOX PPV

In the biggest night of boxing this year, boxing’s only eight-division world champion, Senator Manny “Pac Man’’ Pacquiao, will take on undefeated WBA Welterweight World Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman on Saturday, July 20 in a blockbuster showdown that headlines a Premier Boxing Champions on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View event.

Adding to the excitement of the evening, PBC will present 2-hours of boxing action with undefeated IBF Super Middleweight World Champion Caleb “Sweethands” Plant making his first title defense against unbeaten contender Mike Lee in the main event of PBC on FOX and FOX Deportes show taking place in the same ring where Pacquiao and Thurman will later battle for welterweight supremacy.

Further details will be announced soon.

Charlo: ‘I definitely believe Terence Crawford stands zero chance against Errol Spence’

IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. and WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford probably won’t be fighting anytime soon. As much as we would all like to see it, the business of boxing stands in the way for now.

However, if it were to happen, according to Jermell Charlo, it would be a comfortable night for Spence.

“I definitely believe Terence Crawford stands zero chance against Errol Spence. Zero. Zero,” Charlo told TMZ Sports.

When pressed on why he gives Crawford no chance against Spence, Charlo had this to say.

“There’s zero chance. Errol is just the bigger, monster fighter.”

Keep in mind, Charlo, and Spence both train with Derrick James, so you would almost expect Charlo to side with Spence. Obviously, a guy with Crawford’s talents has a chance against any fighter at 147.

Crawford wants the fight bad and said so after beating Amir Khan in April, and Spence continues to say the fight will happen.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Jermall Charlo: ‘George Foreman is back, and he’s in the middleweight division’

Unbeaten WBC Interim Middleweight Champion and Houston-native Jermall Charlo will return to his hometown to defend against middleweight contender Brandon Adams Saturday, June 29 live on SHOWTIME from NRG Arena in Houston and presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and features hard-hitting super welterweight Erickson “Hammer” Lubin taking on French contender Zakaria Attou in a 12-round WBC title elimination bout in the co-main event. Opening the telecast is a WBA featherweight title eliminator between slick Mexican southpaw Eduardo Ramirez and power-punching Dominican Claudio Marrero.

The 28-year-old Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs) won a world title at 154-pounds when he scored a devastating third-round knockout of Cornelius Bundrage to win the IBF Junior Middleweight Title in 2015. Born in Richmond, Texas and growing up in Houston, Jermall still trains in Houston with renowned coach Ronnie Shields. He successfully defended his 154-pound title three times, including a devastating knockout of top contender Julian Williams, before moving up in weight to campaign at middleweight.

Jermall proved to be just as dominant at 160 pounds as he was at 154 pounds when he made his middleweight debut by stopping Jorge Sebastian Heiland in the fourth round of their July 2017 bout. He became the interim WBC middleweight champion with a second round knockout victory over Hugo Centeno, Jr. Jermall is one-minute older than his identical twin brother, former champion Jermell Charlo, and most recently defeated Matt Korobov to retain his interim title in December.

“It’s time for me to put up for my city of Houston,” said Charlo. “George Foreman is back, and he’s in the middleweight division. That’s the way I feel about fighting in my hometown. You know how hot it gets down here in the summer and no one is going to be able to take this heat that I’m about to deliver. I’ve been working hard with Ronnie Shields and making some adjustments and now you’re going to see me back with the knockout power. I know Brandon Adams is looking at this as a big opportunity, but it’s a big step up for him. The pressure isn’t on him. It’s on me, because I’m fighting in my hometown and I’m going to deliver what the fans have come to expect from me.”

The Los Angeles-native Adams (21-2, 13 KOs) shot up the middleweight rankings by winning the 2018 reboot of The Contender. He is currently ranked fifth by the WBO and seventh by the WBA after beating Ievgen Khytrov, Tyrone Brunson, Eric Walker to make the series’ final, where he defeated Shane Mosley Jr. by unanimous decision in a 10-round fight.

The 28-year-old’s current run came after a three-year absence from the ring following a loss to John Thompson in 2015. He was 17-1 in his first 18 pro fights after turning pro in 2011, with his only loss coming to Willie Monroe Jr.

 

 

Hurd: ‘There are some nerves fighting at home, but they’re good nerves’

Before they square-off this Saturday night, unified 154-pound world champion “Swift” Jarrett Hurd and top contender Julian “J-Rock” Williams faced-off at the National Mall and Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Thursday as they near their Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes main event live from EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

A native of Accokeek, Maryland, Hurd will be making his return to defend his titles in front of a hometown crowd for the first time since becoming a world champion. Saturday marks Hurd’s first fight in the region since his 13th pro victory in 2014 that took place at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Philadelphia’s Williams will look to spoil Hurd’s homecoming and become a world champion in his second title opportunity.

Here is what the fighters had to say Thursday afternoon:

JARRETT HURD

“I feel great right now. I’m here in my city. This is where I wanted to bring the fight. Only two more days. I’m ready and I can’t wait.

“There are some nerves fighting at home but they’re good nerves. The energy I’m going to feel in the arena is going to get me hyped and ready to go.

“I have to treat it like any other fight. When I go out there and do what I know how to do best, I always get the win. Julian Williams is going to come on top of his game, but a graceful Jarrett Hurd is a bad night for anyone.

“My city has been behind me since day one and I made a promise to bring a fight back to them. Here I am. ‘Swift Nation’ is going to be in the building Saturday night.”

JULIAN WILLIAMS

“We had a really good camp. It was easily one of the best I ever had. I’m not worried about his fans. I’m just focused on what I have to do in the ring Saturday night.

“Every fight is a stepping-stone for the next chapter. I’ve just been trying to win and get back to this position. I’m coming to win this however I have to win.

“I can’t concern myself with things that are out of my control. I can’t control the fans or the atmosphere. I can’t worry about it, so I don’t worry about it.”

Photo: Stephanie Trapp/TGB Promotions

Usyk out with injury; Haney to headline show on May 25

Devin Haney will headline on his DAZN debut against Antonio Moran on Saturday May 25 at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK.

Oleksandr Usyk was scheduled to make his heavyweight debut against Carlos Takam, but Usyk was forced to withdraw due to injury.

Haney (21-0 13 KOs) announced a co-promotional deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA last week and now the Lightweight sensation will headline against Moran (24-3 17 KOs), the 26 year old who has stopped four of his last five opponents and was narrowly edged out by Jose Pedraza in June.

‘The Dream’ will be hunting World title action in the second half of 2019, sitting at number three in the WBC, five in the WBA, eight with the WBO and ten with the IBF, and the 20 year old Las Vegas ace will be looking to underline his lofty position in the rankings with a stellar showing in Maryland.

“It’s unfortunate that Oleksandr Usyk had to pull out because of injury,” said Haney. “I wish him a fast and speedy recovery. I’m very happy Matchroom and DAZN made the right choice in making me the main event.

“The MGM National Harbor will be the perfect place for me to show up and show out at. The fans in this area of the world really know boxing. I will put on a great show for them. I’m the future of this sport and on May 25 I will show the world how much I’ve grown inside the ring.”

A stacked card in support of Haney sees Chicago’s WBC World Super-Lightweight champion Jessica McCaskill (6-2 3 KOs) aims to unify the division against Argentine WBA ruler Anahi Sanchez (19-3), Croatian Heavyweight star Filip Hrgovic (7-0 5 KOs) faces Gregory Corbin (15-1 9 KOs) and Las Vegas Heavyweight Michael Hunter (16-1 11 KOs) will look to continue his great run of KO wins.

“We know that Devin is a future superstar but Usyk’s unfortunate injury now gives Devin the chance to headline first time out on DAZN,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Moran will give Devin the toughest test of his career so far, last year he dropped a close decision to WBO World champ Jose Pedraza and is coming off an impressive knockout victory.

“Heavyweight action remains on the card with two top 15 ranked fighters Michael Hunter and Flip Hrgovic who are both searching for a shot at the World heavyweight title and Jessica McCaskill and Anahi Sanchez face off in an exciting World title unification. It’s going to be a great night of boxing and I expect Devin Haney to steal the show in Maryland!”

Photo: Matchroom Boxing

Berchelt:  ‘I’d love to fight Lomachenko’

Two world title rematches and four blood-and-guts warriors are coming to Tucson Arena Saturday evening for “Twice as Nice,” one of the year’s most highly anticipated cards (ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 10 p.m ET/7 p.m. PT).

In the main event, WBC super featherweight world champion Miguel “El Alacran” Berchelt (35-1, 31 KOs) and Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas (25-1-2, 18 KOs) will look to repeat the thrills of their January 2017 match, won by Berchelt via 11th-round knockout. And, in the co-feature, Emanuel Navarrete (26-1, 22 KOs) will defend his WBO junior featherweight world title against Isaac Dogboe (20-1, 14 KOs), the man he defeated by unanimous decision to win the title back on Dec. 8.

After working out for the media Wednesday at Southwest Boxing Gym, this is what Berchelt had to say.

Miguel Berchelt:

“The people of Tucson and watching on ESPN are in for a great show. Vargas and I fought a great fight back in 2017, and our 2019 rematch will be no different. We are proud Mexican warriors who leave it all in the ring.”

“You will see the same ‘Alacran’ from the first fight with Vargas. I will enter the ring with a lot of desire to win and defend my title. I will defend this belt with everything that I have. This belt belongs to me.”

“The strategy is the same, which is to go out there to solve the problem that Vargas represents. I will leave it all in the ring. I will give all my heart to this battle.”

“Every time the ‘Alacran’ fights, it’s a guarantee that the fans will see a knockout.”

On a potential Lomachenko fight

“That is the fight we want. We want big challenges, without a doubt. I’d love to fight Lomachenko.”

 

Jermell Charlo: ‘I feel like I’m the people’s champ for fans all around the world’

Former WBC junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo wants to silence the doubters, and the only way that can happen is if he avenges his first and only loss, which happened in December against Tony Harrison. Charlo expects to do just that on June 23 when he battles WBC junior middleweight champion, Harrison, in the rematch, at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

“I’m coming to this rematch with a whole different mindset and a much better game plan,” Charlo said at a press conference on Wednesday. “I took this loss like a wake-up call and reminded myself why I’ve been doing this for all these years.”

A loss in boxing can set a fighter back, but according to Charlo, that has not been the case for him.

“I feel like I’m the people’s champ for fans all around the world,” Charlo said. “My popularity is still growing despite the robbery. I’m going to step into the ring and channel everything into a great performance.”

Five months later, Charlo still believes he was robbed, but this time, he is looking to leave no doubts.

“Tony knows exactly what happened in our fight,” Charlo said. “He knows he can’t beat me. I’m here to prove it again and leave no doubt.

“I’m dominating this fight. If he(Harrison) does make it to the 12th round, he’s going to be bruised and beat down.

“I’m leaving it all in the ring in this fight. I’ve got no distractions, and everything is smooth heading into this one. I’m giving 110 percent. It’s going to be ruthless.”

Photo: Sean Michael Ham/TGB Promotions