O’Shaquie Foster signs promotional contract with Top Rank

WBC junior lightweight world champion O’Shaquie Foster has signed a multi-fight promotional contract with Top Rank, the promotional company announced on Wednesday.

A native of Orange, Texas, who trains out of Houston, Foster will make his Top Rank on ESPN debut in early 2024.

“O’Shaquie Foster is a supremely talented champion in the prime of his career,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “We are thrilled to welcome him to Top Rank, and I eagerly await his next world title defense.”

“I’m excited to be part of the Top Rank and ESPN family,” Foster said. “Top Rank has shaped the careers of many of the greatest fighters whom I look up to even to this day, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to fight on ESPN. I can’t wait to step into the ring and show that I am the best fighter in the world.”

Foster (21-2, 12 KOs) went 8-0 in his first three years in the paid ranks before losing a pair of close decisions in a four-fight span. After nearly 18 months out of the ring, Foster returned a changed fighter and resurrected his career with the help of Mills and head trainer Bobby Benton. Foster has reeled off 11 straight wins, a run that gained momentum following his nationally televised 2018 victory over the previously unbeaten Jon Fernandez.

In February, Foster fought Rey Vargas for the vacant WBC world title and entered the fight as the betting underdog. Foster dominated the championship rounds and won a unanimous decision. Title defense number one came last month in Cancun, Mexico, and Foster had to turn back the fierce challenge of Eduardo “Rocky” Hernandez. The 11th round was a Round of the Year-type stanza that saw Foster stagger Hernandez on multiple occasions. Trailing on two of the three judges’ cards entering the 12th, Foster dropped Hernandez twice to secure the stoppage with 22 seconds remaining.

Janibek-Gualtieri, Davis-Albright set for October 14

Janibek “Qazaq Style” Alimkhanuly is ready to conquer the middleweight division one belt a time.

The reigning WBO world champion will lock horns against unbeaten IBF world champion Vincenzo Gualtieri in a title unification showdown on Saturday, Oct. 14 at Fort Bend Epicenter in Rosenberg, Texas. This will be the first boxing event to take place at the brand-new, state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue, which opened its doors last week.

In the 10-round lightweight co-feature, U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis takes another step up in class against Philadelphia-born contender Nahir Albright.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with AGON Sports & Events, Janibek-Gualtieri and Davis-Albright will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that Janibek is the best middleweight in the world,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “He has a chance to prove that once again with a victory over a tough champion in Vincenzo Gualtieri. I’m also pleased to see the future of the lightweight division, Keyshawn Davis, take his biggest step up to date against Nahir Albright. Top Rank is thrilled to be hosting the first boxing event at Fort Bend Epicenter, where fans near the Houston area will be in for a real treat.”

Janibek (14-0, 9 KOs) is a 2016 Olympian from Zhilandy, Kazakhstan, who took the fast lane to becoming champion. In 2021, he scored knockout victories over former world champions Rob Brant and Hassan N’Dam. He captured the WBO interim middleweight world title last May with a second-round destruction of Danny Dignum and was elevated to world champion after Demetrius Andrade vacated the title. Janibek has made two defenses, beating British champion Denzel Bentley via unanimous decision last November and blasting out Canadian contender Steven Butler via second-round stoppage in May.

Janibek said, “I am grateful for the opportunity to fight a fellow world champion. This fight gets me one step closer to becoming the undisputed middleweight champion, and I thank Vincenzo Gualtieri for putting his belt on the line. He is doing what the other champions have refused to do. I will, however, return home to Kazakhstan as a unified champion.”

Gualtieri (21-0-1, 7 KOs) debuted as a professional in October 2015. He went 15-0 before fighting to a draw against fellow unbeaten German Thomas Piccirillo in August 2020. He captured his first regional title with a points victory against Billi Facundo Godoy in November 2021. He defended it twice before capturing the vacant IBF middleweight world title with a unanimous decision win against then-undefeated Brazilian Esquiva Falcao.

Gualtieri said, “Janibek is an outstanding boxer who has done it all as an amateur and a professional, just like Esquiva Falcao. Janibek is a southpaw, just like Esquiva Falcao. Janibek was the favorite, just like Falcao. In the end, Janibek, like Falcao, will lose because I have the better team and the will of a champion. Only that will decide who wins and who loses, just as it did against Falcao.”

Davis (9-0, 6 KOs), from Norfolk, Virginia, is making a rapid ascent up the lightweight rankings. After going 3-0 as a pro, he captured a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. In November 2021, he signed a long-term promotional contract with Top Rank and has since scored six victories, including brutal knockouts against Esteban Sanchez and Omar Tienda. In April, he pummeled Anthony Yigit en route to a ninth-round TKO victory. He shut out former European champion Francesco Patera via 10-round unanimous decision in July.

Davis said, “I’m coming to Texas to beat up Nahir Albright. Simple as that. He’s not on my level, and after I put on a show, a message will be sent. The future of the lightweight division is here.”

Albright (16-2, 7 KOs) lost a majority decision in his pro debut in 2016. Undeterred, he won his next 14 fights and captured his first regional title with a decision win over Jeremy Hill in July 2021. He stopped Michael Dutchover in the sixth round of their showdown two months later before suffering a decision loss against Jamaine Ortiz in February 2022. Albright bounced back seven months later by handing Brazilian standout Estivan Falcao his first loss. He is coming off an upset majority decision win against U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas in July.

Albright said, “This is another step in the right direction. He’s another person in my way. I’m not worried about Keyshawn Davis. I just beat an Olympian in my last fight. I want to fight the best and prove I belong in the ring with the top guys.”

The ESPN+-streamed undercard will feature a host of up-and-coming talents:

U.S. Olympic Silver medalist Richard Torrez Jr. (6-0, 6 KOs) will make his third appearance of 2023 in a six-round heavyweight battle against Don Haynesworth (17-8-1, 15 KOs). Torrez hopes to notch his third first-round victory of the year after first-round stoppages over James Bryant in February and Willie Jake Jr. in August.

Junior welterweight standout Giovanni Marquez (6-0, 4 KOs), son of former world champion Raul Marquez, will put his unbeaten record on the line in a scheduled six-rounder. The Houston native is coming off a second-round TKO win against Nicky Vitone in August.

U.S. Olympic silver medalist Duke Ragan (8-0, 1 KO) will make his 2023 debut in an eight-round featherweight fight against Jose Perez (11-1-2, 5 KOs). Ragan, from Cincinnati, Ohio, turned away a stiff challenge from Puerto Rican veteran Luis Lebron last October at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

2016 Italian Olympian Guido Vianello (10-1-1, 9 KOs) will take on Florida veteran Curtis Harper (14-9, 9 KOs) in an eight-round heavyweight tilt. In his last fight, Vianello lost his ‘0’ after a right hand from veteran Jonnie Rice caused a cut above his left eye, forcing the referee to end the bout in the seventh round. Vianello was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage.

Kelvin Davis (9-0, 6 KOs), the eldest of the fighting Davis Brothers from Norfolk, will see action in an eight-round junior welterweight clash. Davis returns after a fourth-round knockout win against Derrick Whitley Jr. in July.

Unbeaten lightweight prospect Alan “Kid Kansas” Garcia (9-0, 8 KOs) will face an opponent to be named in a six-rounder.

Heavyweight prospect Brandon Moore signs with Top Rank

Top Rank has signed undefeated heavyweight prospect Brandon Moore to a multi-year promotional agreement. The 6’6 boxer-puncher, who hails from Lakeland, Florida, will make his Top Rank debut later this year.

Th 29-year-old former U.S. amateur standout turned pro in February 2020 and has knocked out four of his last five opponents.

“Brandon Moore has all the physical tools to develop into a top heavyweight,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “The heavyweight division is loaded with talent, and I believe Brandon will be squarely in the world title mix before long.”

Moore said, “I’m extremely blessed to have signed with Top Rank. My career has been a roller coaster ride. I wasn’t an Olympian coming out of the amateurs. I had to put in the work to get to where I am. After almost four years in the pro game, I am finally seeing the fruits of my labor. I can’t wait to make my Top Rank debut and show the fans what I’m all about.”

“I feel like the heavyweight division is ready for some fresh faces, and Top Rank is the biggest and best promotional platform for Brandon to showcase his talents,” said Ryan Rickey, Moore’s manager. “We look forward to a long-term working relationship.”

Moore (12-0, 8 KOs) returned from a nearly 15-month layoff in June to knock out Elijah McCall, son of former heavyweight world champion Oliver McCall, in the second round. He fought six times in 2021, including a fourth-round stoppage over Mexican veteran Elvis Garcia and a six-round decision over renowned journeyman Terrell Jamal Woods. Moore has gained invaluable experience in the gym sparring the likes of WBC/Lineal heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury, former world champion Deontay Wilder, Luis Ortiz and British Olympic bronze medalist Frazer Clarke. Outside the ring, Moore was a collegiate basketball standout at Southeastern University and was named The Sun Conference Freshmen of the Year in 2013. His younger brother, Shaq Moore, currently plays for Major League Soccer’s Nashville SC and is a member of the United States men’s national soccer team.

Beterbiev-Smith set for January 13

WBC/WBO/IBF light heavyweight king Artur Beterbiev now has a date to defend his crown. After recent dental surgery forced Beterbiev to postpone his Aug. 19 title defense against former world champion Callum Smith, the two will now meet Saturday, Jan. 13 at Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada.

Beterbiev’s title defense against Smith—originally scheduled for Saturday, August 19, was postponed due to a bone infection to Beterbiev’s jaw. He underwent surgery in July.

 “It’s a few months later than originally planned, but I am thrilled that Artur Beterbiev will have a chance to defend his titles in front of the incredible Quebec City fans,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Artur has a clean bill of health, and I know Callum, a supremely talented former champion, will be at his best on January 13th.”

Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs), boxing’s only current world champion with a 100 percent knockout ratio, has made seven title defenses since capturing the IBF strap in November 2017.

He is coming off January’s stirring eighth-round TKO over Anthony Yarde in Yarde’s hometown of London. Smith (29-1, 21 KOs), from Liverpool, England, is the former Ring Magazine and WBA super middleweight world champion. He has won two fights since moving up to light heavyweight following a decision defeat to Canelo Alvarez in December 2020.

Navarrete-Valdez set for August 12

Three-division world champion Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete will defend his WBO junior lightweight world title against former two-division world champion Oscar Valdez in an all-Mexican duel Saturday, August 12 at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Navarrete and Valdez seek to etch their names among the celebrated catalog of Mexican rivalries that includes Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales, Ruben Olivares-Chucho Castillo and Rafael Marquez-Israel Vazquez.

Navarrete-Valdez will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

“Emanuel Navarrete and Oscar Valdez are proud warriors, and this is a fight that is destined to go down as a classic,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “The fight fans at Desert Diamond Arena and everyone watching on ESPN are in for a real treat. The winner of this fight etches his name among the great Mexican fighters. I can’t wait.”

Navarrete (37-1, 31 KOs), the fighting pride of San Juan Zitlaltepec, captured his first world title by defeating Isaac Dogboe for the WBO junior featherweight crown in December 2018. He made five defenses before moving up to featherweight, where he beat Ruben Villa for the vacant WBO title in October 2020. The 28-year-old defended his belt with victories over Christopher Diaz, Joet Gonzalez and Eduardo Baez before moving up to 130 pounds. In February, Navarrete joined an elite list of Mexican three-division champions — including Morales, Barrera and Julio Cesar Chavez — by defeating Liam Wilson via ninth-round TKO for the WBO junior lightweight world title.

Navarrete said, “After so much time, this fight will finally take place. Obviously, I am 100 percent motivated because Valdez is still a big threat, and a fight against him could possibly be the start of a new Mexico vs. Mexico rivalry like the one between Barrera and Morales.”

Valdez (31-1, 23 KOs), from Nogales, represented Mexico at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. As a pro, he captured the WBO featherweight world title against Matias Rueda in 2016 and made six successful defenses. He moved up to junior lightweight and defeated Adam Lopez in 2019 and Jayson Velez in 2020 before taking on his toughest challenge, a WBC title tilt against Miguel Berchelt in February 2021. Despite disadvantages in height, reach and power, Valdez counterpunched his way to three crushing knockdowns, the last of which earned him a 10th-round KO. After a competitive fight against Olympic gold medalist Robson Conceição later that year, Valdez suffered his first defeat in a title unification battle against Shakur Stevenson in April 2022. He bounced back by defeating Lopez in a rematch in the co-feature to the Devin Haney-Vasiliy Lomachenko super fight last month, and he now hopes to equal Navarrete as a three-time world champion.

Valdez said, “I’m excited to return to the ring, especially because it’s for a world title against ‘Vaquero’ Navarrete. Being a world champion is something that I always dreamed of. I already did it two times, and this is yet another opportunity. So, I’m excited and prepared both mentally and physically for this new opportunity. And I like that it’s between two Mexicans because it’s a win-win for Mexico. It’s a guaranteed war when there are two Mexicans in the ring.”

Arum: ‘Jared(Anderson) will be the future heavyweight champion of the world’

Toledo’s knockout king is set to take center stage in front of a hometown crowd.

Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson(14-0, 14 KOs) will fight Kazakhstan’s Zhan Kossobutskiy in a 10-round main event Saturday, July 1, at Toledo’s Huntington Center.

In the 10-round co-feature, Montreal-based wrecking ball Arslanbek Makhmudov takes on Nigeria’s Raphael Akpejiori.

Anderson formally announced his upcoming fight today at the Glass City Pavilion in Toledo. He was joined by Hall of Fame Promoter/Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum, Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz and Toledo-born first responder DeAndre Ware, who will see action on the undercard.

Anderson-Kossobutskiy and Makhmudov-Akpejiori will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

At the press conference, this is what Anderson and Arum had to say.

Jared Anderson

TOLEDO, OHIO – MAY 02: Jared Anderson poses after the press conference at Glass City Pavilion on May 02, 2023 in Toledo, Ohio. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

“I’m happy to be here. I’m feeling so loved and embraced here. It means everything to me. I plan to put on a great show. I plan to show the kids and the city that we are still fighting and are one of the biggest small cities in the nation. The world will know us.”

“I’ve been in the gym going crazy. As you can see, my body shows it. My fights show it. My power shows it. I’m going to keep pushing and stay on track so that this train keeps going.”

“I’m super excited. I’m happy to see all the familiar faces and all the friends and family. The cameras are good and all, but I’m doing this for the city. I’m doing this for the people that are here. I’m doing this for the people that don’t have phones in their hand and are out there in the world right now fighting to survive. I’ve been fighting to survive for a long time. Now that I don’t have to do that, I want to show you all that hopefully you won’t have to do that, too. Just keep fighting. Keep striving to be better and you will get there for sure.”

Bob Arum

TOLEDO, OHIO – MAY 02: Bob Arum speaks during the Jared Anderson Returns Home – Press Conference at Glass City Pavilion on May 02, 2023 in Toledo, Ohio. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

“I’m happy to be here because this is Jared Anderson’s hometown. We told him that one day he would fight his first main event here in Toledo. Jared is here. And just because he’s here doesn’t mean that he gets a piece of cake. He is fighting a very, very tough competitor because we believe that Jared will be the future heavyweight champion of the world. But to do that, he’s got to fight really tough guys. And we’ve gotten him an opponent from Kazakhstan who is 19-0 with 18 knockouts.”

Ali Walsh: ‘To hear those Ali chants was something that I’ll never forget’

Nico Ali Walsh(1-0, 1 KOs), the grandson of Muhammad Ali, made his professional debut in Tulsa, and he dominated like his grandfather on Saturday night.

Ali Walsh made quick work of Jordan Weeks (4-2, 2 KOs), knocking him out in the opening round of a scheduled four-round middleweight contest. He knocked down Weeks with a right hand, and a follow-up flurry ended the night for the South Carolina native.

Like his grandfather, Ali Walsh is promoted by Bob Arum, who promoted 27 of Ali’s fights. The 21-year-old made his debut 40 years after his grandfather’s last fight, and according to Ali Walsh, his win lived up to his expectations.

“This lived up completely to my expectations,” he said. “It’s been an emotional journey this whole ride these last couple of months.

“Obviously, my grandfather, I’m thinking about him so much. I miss him. It’s just an emotional journey, and thank you to Jordan Weeks and his people. Tough, tough kid. I think me and him made a little bit of history tonight.”

Ali Walsh, who had 30 amateur fights, does not feel any extra pressure being the grandson of the man who many think is the greatest boxer to ever live. 

“Honestly, it seems like a lot of pressure, but to me, it’s just my grandfather,” Ali Walsh. “To everyone else, to you guys and the crowd, he’s the greatest fighter who ever lived, maybe the greatest person. But to me, he’s the greatest grandfather.

“To hear those Ali chants was something that I’ll never forget. I didn’t expect that, to be honest, but it was special.”

Ali Walsh has a long way to go to be a great fighter and an even longer way to go to be like his grandfather, but he’s off to an excellent start after Saturday’s win.

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





Arum: ‘Marvelous Marvin Hagler was among the greatest athletes that Top Rank ever promoted’

On Saturday, it was announced by his wife, Kay, that former world champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler had died. Hagler was 66.

No word on the cause of death.

A member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, Hagler’s last fight was in 1987 when he lost a controversial decision to Sugar Ray Leonard. He finished his career with 62-3-2 with 52 KOs.

Bob Arum’s Top Rank Boxing, who promoted Hagler, issued the following statement on his death:

Top Rank is devastated by the passing of the incomparable Marvelous Marvin Hagler, one of boxing’s most beloved and accomplished champions. Born in Newark, New Jersey, and raised in Brockton, Massachusetts, Hagler overcame humble beginnings to forge a storied professional career that included 12 successful defenses of the undisputed middleweight world championship. He concluded his career in 1987 with a 62-3-2 record and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993.
Top Rank is honored to have promoted a fighter who embodied everything noble about the sport. The Top Rank family mourns the loss of a legend and sends our condolences to his loved ones and friends.
Said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, “Marvelous Marvin Hagler was among the greatest athletes that Top Rank ever promoted. He was a man of honor and a man of his word, and he performed in the ring with unparalleled determination. He was a true athlete and a true man. I will miss him greatly.”

Arum on Herring-Frampton: ‘It’s an even matchup’

 Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring’s WBO junior lightweight world title defense against Belfast’s former two-weight world champion Carl “The Jackal” Frampton — Saturday, April 3 from Caesars Bluewaters Dubai — will stream live and exclusively in the United States on ESPN+.

Herring-Frampton will headline a two-bout broadcast beginning at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT. In the 10-round junior welterweight co-feature, undefeated Kazakh star Zhankosh Turarov will fight Belfast native Tyrone McKenna.

Undercard action will stream live on ESPN+ at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT.

“This is a fight that’s been in the works for a very long time, and I expect both Jamel and Carl to be at their best,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “It’s an even matchup, and I am pleased that fans in the United States can watch it live on ESPN+.”

Herring (22-2, 10 KOs) has made two defenses of the title he won from Masayuki Ito in May 2019, most recently defeating Puerto Rican challenger Jonathan Oquendo via disqualification last September at the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble. He was originally scheduled to face Frampton last summer in Belfast, but COVID-19 intervened. Frampton (28-2, 16 KOs), who won world titles at junior featherweight and featherweight, hopes to make history as the island of Ireland’s first three-division world champion. He has won two straight bouts since losing a unanimous decision to Josh Warrington in December 2018 for the IBF featherweight world title. In his lone ring appearance of 2020, Frampton knocked out late replacement foe Darren Traynor in the seventh round.

Undercard action streaming on ESPN+ includes:

Former four-weight world champion Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23 KOs) returns to action after more than two years away from the ring and will fight an opponent to be named in a 10-rounder at junior bantamweight. Nietes, from the Philippines, is one of four Asian fighters in boxing history to capture world titles in four weight classes.

Keyshawn Davis (1-0, 1 KOs), a former U.S. amateur standout who captured a silver medal at the 2019 World Championships, will take on an opponent to be named in a six-round lightweight bout.

Arum on Taylor-Ramirez: ‘It’s a true 50-50 fight, one that the fans and both fighters demanded’

Two undefeated junior welterweight kings, one undisputed title. The stakes don’t get any higher.

WBC/WBO champion Jose Ramirez, the pride of California’s Central Valley, will fight Scotland’s IBF/WBA champion Josh Taylor for the undisputed world championship Saturday, May 22. The winner will become only the second undisputed junior welterweight champion of the four-belt era, joining pound-for-pound great Terence “Bud” Crawford.

Promoted by Top Rank, Ramirez-Taylor will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (and simulcast on ESPN+) starting at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT. The location, venue, and undercard information will be announced shortly.

“This is the best boxing has to offer, two elite fighters in the prime of their careers colliding in a legacy-defining matchup for the undisputed championship of the world,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “It’s a true 50-50 fight, one that the fans and both fighters demanded.”

Ramirez (26-0, 17 KOs) has been a world champion since March 2018, when he toppled Amir Imam via unanimous decision to win the vacant WBC strap. Following the Imam victory, he hired noted trainer Robert Garcia, and the duo has combined to go 4-0 in world title fights. Ramirez knocked out Maurice Hooker in July 2019 to unify world titles and defended his belts last August with a majority decision over former world champion Viktor Postol. Ramirez, a proud son of Mexican immigrants who hails from Avenal, Calif., is an agent of social change in his community. He’s devoted his time and resources to myriad causes, including cancer research, water rights for area farmers, and COVID-19 relief for Central Valley field workers.

“I look forward to making history by becoming the first boxer of Mexican descent to hold all four major world title belts,” Ramirez said. “I dedicate this fight to the Central Valley farm workers, who are out there every day helping feed the world. This fight is big, but nothing is bigger than getting vaccinations to the farm workers right now in the Central Valley.”

Like Ramirez, Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs) fought as a lightweight at the 2012 London Olympics, where he advanced to the Round of 16. While he didn’t turn pro until 2015, “The Tartan Tornado” won the Commonwealth 140-pound title in only his seventh pro bout. Taylor toppled Postol by unanimous decision in 2018 and won the IBF world title the following year with a decision over Ivan Baranchyk. He unified the IBF and WBA titles in October 2019, edging Regis Prograis by majority decision in a brutal masterpiece. He made his first defense as a unified champion last September, blasting out mandatory challenger Apinun Khongsong in the first round. Taylor hopes to make a little history of his own as the first undisputed, four-belt Scottish champion.

Taylor said, “I’m excited it’s been finalized and over the line. I can’t wait to get in there for the biggest fight of my career. Fighting for the undisputed title is something all boxers dream about.”