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.”

Crawford: ‘I want Pacquiao’

For the first three rounds, Kell Brook(39-3, 27 KOs) was fighting well and was effectively using his jab against WBO 147-pound champion Terence Crawford. However, before you knew it, the fight was over. Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs) exploded was a right jab that forced Brook into the ropes for a knockdown. Crawford would finish Brook off with a combination that prompted referee Tony Weeks to stop the fight, and Crawford would win by fourth-round TKO to retain his belt at the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble on Saturday night.

 “Never in my career, nobody has ever done that to me in sparring or anything,” Brook said after the fight.

Crawford added: “Kell is a tremendous talent. He came, and he tried to take my title. He was in shape. He made the weight. There were no excuses to be put on the table. He came off of three wins.”

According to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, Crawford, who has now won eight straight fights by knockout, is the best welterweight in the world.

“Terence Crawford showed, once again, why he is the best welterweight in the world,” Arum said. “It was a dominating performance over a very good fighter in Kell Brook. Terence ranks up there with all the great welterweights I’ve promoted.”

After the fight, Crawford made it clear that he wants WBA welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, next.

“I already said who I want {next}. I want Pacquiao. I want to revisit that fight,” Crawford said. “That was a fight that should’ve happened right now. But being that the pandemic happened, and they weren’t going to allow fans in the Middle East, they had to put a hold to that. Everything was 95 percent done. We had the venue. The money was almost there. It wasn’t quite there. That was the only thing we were waiting on.”

What happens next for Crawford should be interesting. There have been talks that Crawford is not happy with his situation at Top Rank. According to The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger, Crawford’s deal with Top Rank expires in October 2021. If the 33-year-old Crawford is fighting Pacquiao next, which he mentioned was a possibility, that’s an opportunity to get a nice payday and a big name at 147. However, if Crawford wants the other big names at 147, like Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, or Danny Garcia, all of who fight under the PBC banner, he’s going to have to probably sign with PBC, and if that gets him the big fights, it’s a great move.

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images

Arum on Stevenson: ‘He is a future pound-for-pound superstar’

Shakur Stevenson and boxing came back with a bang on Wednesday night. The WBO featherweight world champion, who was making his super featherweight debut, knocked out Puerto Rican contender Felix Caraballo in the sixth round of a scheduled 10-rounder at MGM Grand Conference Center—Grand Ballroom in Las Vegas.

Stevenson showcased his talents in the first significant boxing card in the United States since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

A body shot spelled the end for Caraballo (13-2-2, 9 KOs), who had won five in a row before tonight. For Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs), the sky remains the limit. 

Everything about this fight week was different. After my last fight was canceled, I was happy to showcase my skills for all of the boxing fans,” Stevenson said. “He hit me with a couple shots, more than I’m used to, a couple jabs here and there. He was a tough guy, but I felt great in there after my training camp in Houston.”

This was a nice tune-up for Stevenson. It was an opportunity to get in some rounds, and a chance to test himself at a new weight. According to his promoter, Bob Arum, the 22-year-old Stevenson has a very bright future.

“What a magnificent performance by Shakur Stevenson,” Arum said. “He keeps on getting better, and rest assured, he is a future pound-for-pound superstar.”

Stevenson is special, and based on what we have seen thus far in his career, he can be one of the best in the sport. It should be interesting to see if he goes back down to 126 or stays at 130. All that will probably depend on the opportunities that are out there.

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Boxing

Stevenson-Marriaga, Conlan-Preciado postponed

Here is a statement from Top Rank Boxing on the postponement of Stevenson-Marriaga and Conlan-Preciado:

“After close consultation with the New York State Athletic Commission, it has been determined that Saturday’s and Tuesday’s events cannot proceed in light of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis. Top Rank will work with the Commission to reschedule the events as soon as it is safe for all involved. 

“The health and safety of the fighters and their teams, and everyone involved in the promotion of these events, necessitated taking this step.

“We thank everyone for their understanding, and we will continue to work with our broadcast/venue partners and state and local officials to decide when the time is right to return.”

‘Big Baby’ Miller: ‘I’m coming for everything and everyone; no one is safe’

Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, the big-talking, undefeated, 300-plus-pound heavyweight who hails from Brooklyn, has signed a multi-fight promotional deal with Top Rank. Miller, who is co-promoted by Greg Cohen Promotions and Salita Promotions, will make his Top Rank on ESPN debut in 2020.

“Jarrell Miller is serious about coming back, doing things the right way and becoming heavyweight champion of the world,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “He is one of boxing’s most unique and exciting characters, but most importantly, he can fight.”

“Minor setback for a major comeback. I’m coming for everything and everyone; no one is safe. Say hello to the bad guy,” Miller said. “Everyone wants to portray the superhero. We don’t live in a sunshine world. I’ll never be the superhero. In my world, the majority of the time, the villain wins.”

“I couldn’t be happier that after months of hard work and perseverance, we were able to  make this deal a reality,” said Greg Cohen, CEO of Greg Cohen Promotions. “Top Rank is the perfect partner and ESPN the perfect platform for Jarrell to realize his full potential and become the dominant force in the heavyweight division. Time for Big Baby to get back in the ring!”

“Top Rank was my first promoter when I was fighting, so I know firsthand that Bob Arum and his team will create the right opportunities for Jarrell,” said Dmitriy Salita, President of Salita Promotions. “Top Rank promotes many of the top heavyweights, including Tyson Fury, and Jarrell fits right in with all of the big names in the division. Since I started promoting Jarrell as a six-round fighter, I have been saying that he would be the next heavyweight champion from Brooklyn. Working with Top Rank, I am confident he will have the chance to realize that goal.”

Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs) is one of boxing’s most polarizing figures, a combination-punching heavyweight who also went 22-2 as a professional kickboxer. Under the Marquess of Queensberry rules, he has won 19 consecutive bouts since a four-round draw in his fifth professional fight. From 2017-2018, he rose the ranks with dominant wins over Gerald Washington, Mariusz Wach, Johann Duhaupas and Tomasz Adamek, all of whom had previously challenged for a heavyweight world title. He last fought in November 2018, knocking out Bogdan Dinu in four rounds.

Miller signed to fight Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden for the unified heavyweight title last June, but he failed multiple VADA tests and was denied a license by the New York State Athletic Commission. Now, armed with a new long-term deal, Miller is determined to reclaim his status as one of the world’s best big men.

Bob Arum: ‘Philly fighters bring the heat. They’re exciting’

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (Aug. 16, 2018) – Boxing is being featured for the first time at the recently opened Ocean Resort Casino (formerly Revel), which is located steps from the Atlantic City boardwalk.

Heavyweights will take center stage on Saturday evening when Philadelphia’s Bryant “B.Y.” Jennings faces Alexander “Sascha” Dimitrenko in the 12-round heavyweight main event. In the co-feature, Philadelphia native Jesse “Hollywood” Hart will defend the NABF super middleweight title in a 10-rounder versus Mike Gavronski. Jennings-Dimitrenko and Hart-Gavronski will be broadcast on ESPN at 10 p.m. ET, with the entire undercard to be shown on ESPN+ beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

Shakur Stevenson (7-0, 4 KOs), the 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist will headline the ESPN+ portion of the card against Carlos Ruiz (16-4-2, 6 KOs) in an eight-round featherweight bout.

The fighters and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum gathered Thursday for the final press conference. This is what they had to say.

Bob Arum

“This is a terrific card because any time you highlight Philly fighters, you’re going to get fights. Philly fighters bring the heat. They’re exciting.”

Bryant Jennings

On whether he still has the hunger: “If you’re not hungry, you don’t eat. And if you don’t eat, then you starve. If you starve, then you die. And I want to live. I’m hungry. I didn’t eat. I need to eat. Just make sure it’s vegan. In fact, it don’t gotta be vegan because Saturday, I’m eating Russian!”

On whether he’s a different fighter following back-to-back defeats in 2015: “Every fight is a different fight. As you grow, things change. You make changes as you grow in your sport and your craft. So, yeah, I’m a different fighter.”

On fighting taller fighters like Dimitrenko: “As a kid, I was told, ‘never tell your secrets.’ You thought I was about to say something {laughing}?”
Alexander Dimitrenko

“This is a great opportunity for me. I’m here to win this fight. I’m 36, and I have big plans. I want to win this fight. I look forward to make this fight and to show what I can.”

Jesse Hart
On his 2017 title loss to Gilberto Ramirez: “I never looked at it as a loss. I always look at it as a lesson. I think I’ve raised my IQ of boxing. It gave me a better outlook on being in that position, and I think it just gave me a lot more to look at toward the sport of boxing, not just the championship of the world. I learned a lot from that fight. That fight taught me a whole lot.”

On his father, perennial former middleweight contender Eugene “Cyclone” Hart: “{Winning a world title for him} motivates me a lot. When I’m up at 4:15 in the morning out there doing my road work, that’s the first thing that comes to my mind, getting a world title for my father. That’s the motivation. I think that’s the motivation for myself, and to be the best.”

Mike Gavronski

On fighting so often in his hometown of Tacoma, Washington:  “Because that was the only thing I could do at the time. But, you know, now I’m here, and I’m happy to be here.”

On his fighting style: “A great show. Every time out, I come to perform. I come to fight. One way or another, you’re going to love me at the end of the day.”

On his advantages against Hart: “I don’t know. These are my kind of people. Blue collar workers. The crowd will eventually be on my side. I’m pretty sure. I would hope so. And, you know, we’re running and gunning. That’s all we can do.”

Shakur Stevenson

“When I was younger, I used to come {to Atlantic City} all the time. We used to come here for vacations and stuff, and I came here to watch the {Bernard Hopkins-Antonio Tarver} fight. I don’t know. I’m excited. I can’t wait to fight.”

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Arum: ‘Terence Crawford in my mind is the superstar in boxing’

Terence Crawford is moving on up. Crawford will make his welterweight debut on Saturday night against WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn.

Crawford has the talent to be a big star in the sport of boxing. He captured a title at 135, cleaned out 140, and won four belts in that division. Now, he is hoping to claim a title at 147.

Crawford is looking to become one of the biggest names in boxing, and Crawford’s promoter Bob Arum believes the Omaha, Nebraska native is a star at this point of his career:

“Terence Crawford in my mind is the superstar in boxing. He dominated as a lightweight champion, won all of the belts as a junior welterweight champion and now he goes up to fight the welterweights,” Arum said during a conference call. “The first step is Jeff Horn, who is a big, strong welterweight from Australia, and Terence believes he is up for the challenge, and every obstacle that Terence has faced he has overcome.”

Arum believes Crawford compares favorably to an all-time great:

“He is in my mind like one of the throwback fighters to the 80s. We compare him to the great Sugar Ray Leonard, and I think the skill and artistry of Terence in the ring is something to see and I look forward to his great performance on Saturday night against a tough, young welterweight in Jeff Horn.”

Expect Crawford to beat Horn on Saturday night. After that, let’s hope Crawford can fight some of the top fighters at 147, but unfortunately, many of the top fighters at 147 are with PBC and Al Haymon, which could make it difficult for Crawford to fight Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, or Shawn Porter.