David Benavidez thinks he’ll eventually fight Canelo, Plant, Charlo

Unbeaten two-time world champion David Benavídez previewed his showdown with former champion José Uzcátegui in his hometown of Phoenix, Ariz. on Saturday, November 13 live on SHOWTIME in a Premier Boxing Champions event from Footprint Center.

Benavidez has his sights set on impressing his hometown fans in a long-awaited homecoming bout on November 13, which will mark his first time entering the ring in Phoenix since 2015.

Here is what Benavidez had to say from training camp in North Hollywood, California:

DAVID BENAVÍDEZ

“Everything has been amazing in camp. We’re sparring 12-13 rounds and running six or seven miles a day. I’ve worked very hard and I can’t wait to put on a show November 13.

“Uzcátegui is a tough competitor and he was a former world champion, so I have to give him that respect. There are big fights on the horizon for me, so I have to prepare accordingly for Uzcátegui.

“I feel like I’m the better fighter. I have the better skills, more power, more speed and I’m hungrier too. It’s going to be a great night for my team. I feel like I’m going to go in there and get the knockout victory.

“A lot of people in Phoenix are excited for this one. I’m excited to go back. The timing is perfect. For me, this is the biggest fight of my career. I’m ready for anything that comes my way November 13.

“We’re just focused on Uzcátegui, but of course there are bigger fights for me in the future. If I win this fight, I’m in the number one spot for whoever wins between Canelo Alvarez and Caleb Plant.

“Facing Canelo would be a huge fight in the super middleweight division, but I have to go out there on November 13 and get this victory first.

“Right now, with the level I’m at, the fighters that I’m seeking to fight are champions and former champions. Whether it’s Canelo, Plant or Jermall Charlo, I feel like we’re all going to end up facing each other at some point.

“Canelo vs. Plant is a great fight for the division. It’s a fight where both guys have a lot to prove. Those kinds of fights tend to bring the best out of everybody. There’s a lot of pressure and a lot of glory on the line, so I feel like they’re going to be the best they’ve ever been. I’m going to be ready for the winner next.

“I’ve been a pro for eight years already. I just want the biggest fights out there. This is the level I’ve been working to get to for a long time, and we’re finally here at this moment. I want to fight the best of the best and prove myself. I want to show that I’m the best super middleweight in the world.

“Uzcátegui is strong and he has a will to win, but I just believe that I have the better skill set. These are the types of fighters that I need to test myself against. It’s definitely going to be a war, but I’m going to come out on top.”

Photo; Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

 

Shields believes she would embarrass Jake Paul in fight

Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and three-division world champion Claressa Shields has done a lot in boxing and is trying to make her mark in MMA. In June, Shield made her MMA debut against Brittney Elkin, and she won via technical knockout in round three. 

On Wednesday, Shields will have her second MMA fight in the Professional Fighters League against Abigail Montes.

However, on Wednesday, Shields discussed the newest boxing sensation, Jake Paul. According to Shields, if she were to fight Jake Paul, she would embarrass him.

“Jake Paul? Please,” Shields said at a press conference on Monday. “I don’t know what world people live in that think a person that has no boxing background, a man who has not fought professionally, look, there are a lot of women in boxing that can beat up men, especially an average Joe like Jake Paul. If I was to spar Jake, which is all I would get because a real fight would be too embarrassing, right? But if we were to spar, I would use one hand – not even the banger – I’d use my (left) jab, and I could out jab and hook and uppercut him and embarrass him. That’s how skilled I am. It’s not a shot at Jake, but he’s not as good a boxer as me. If you are, go to the Olympics and medal. I’ve sparred against those guys too – Olympic Gold Medallists, Silver Medallists – I’ve sparred against all of them. Those guys would destroy Jake just like I would. I box for real – not play stuff – I box for real.”

Look, Shields is the better boxer for sure, but Paul is a man, with man strength, so I would not dismiss him. However, you could create a scenario where Shields does outbox him and do enough to win. I’m not sure if a boxing commission would sanction the fight, but skills pay bills, and in terms of skills, you do have to favor Shields.

Stevenson: ‘Oscar(Valdez) can’t keep ducking’

Shakur Stevenson(17-0, 9 KOs) had the biggest test of his young career on Saturday night at State Farm Arena in Atlanta when he faced WBO 130-pound champion Jamel Herring, and it turned out to be an easy night for the Newark, NJ native.

Stevenson dominated Herring from start to finish and would get the victory by 10th-round TKO to win the WBO junior lightweight world title and become a two-weight world champion. He was brutalizing Herring, and when referee Mark Nelson stopped the fight, Stevenson was pitching a shutout on two of the three cards.

According to the 24-year-old Stevenson, after the fifth round, he started targeting a cut on Herring’s eye.

“Around the fifth round, I was landing everything, and then he started trying to come on,” Stevenson said. “I smelled blood. I saw he was bleeding and was like, ‘Okay, I have to attack the cut. I was trying to touch the cut to make the doctor try and stop it.”

The 35-year-old Herring (23-3, 11 KOs) was game on Saturday night, but he could not slow down Stevenson. 

“He’s sharp and slick. His hand-eye coordination is very good,” Herring said. “No excuses. He was just the better man tonight.”

Now, Stevenson wants more belts. As soon as the fight ended, the silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics made it clear who he wanted next, and that’s WBC 130-pound champion, Oscar Valdez.

“There’s only one fight left at the end of the day,’ he said. “It’s the biggest fight at the end of the day. Oscar can’t keep ducking. It’s time for him to fight. There’s nothing else to look forward to. The 130-pound division needs to unify. Let’s get it!”

The fight against Valdez should be next for Stevenson, and hopefully, Bob Arum and Top Rank can make that fight happen. However, if you’re Valdez, you might be a little reluctant to get in the ring with Stevenson after what you saw tonight. 

Stevenson has all the goods and appears to be the best at 130.

Ali Walsh has done it again:

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Nico Ali Walsh (2-0, 2 KOs) had to go a little longer than his one-round August pro debut, but the grandson of “The Greatest” was dominant in knocking out James Westley II (1-1) in the third round of a middleweight special attraction. Ali Walsh ate a couple hard right hands in the first round, and he then knocked down Westley with a straight right hand shortly before the bell sounded to end the second. Westley’s corner stopped the fight following a knockdown early in the third round.

“I’m happy that my pro debut went the way it did,” he said. “There’s stuff, of course, I have to work on.

“I know the crowd got excited seeing him land a punch, but I did not feel the punch. Maybe it was my energy, my adrenaline, but my hat’s off to him and his team. Mutual respect both ways, and it was a very good fight.

“I’m blessed that I’m following the legacy of my grandfather. I think everyone who loves my grandfather who’s watching me… I love this legacy that I’m continuing.”

Holyfield shines:

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Atlanta native Evan Holyfield (8-0, 6 KOs) — following in the footstep of his famous father— knocked out Charles Stanford (6-4, 3 KOs) in the second round of a scheduled six-round junior middleweight contest. Holyfield connected with a looping left hook that staggered Stanford. After a right hand for good measure, Stanford was on the deck and in no position to continue.

James: ‘I’d like the rematch with Ugas coming off his big win against Pacquiao’

WBA Welterweight Champion Jamal “Shango” James will look to move one step closer to the very top of the welterweight division when he takes on unbeaten contender Radzhab Butaev in a matchup that headlines action live on SHOWTIME Saturday, October 30 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

“I’m looking to make a big statement in this fight,” said James. “This will be my first title defense and my first time fighting on SHOWTIME and in Las Vegas. My whole mindset is to come out and show out, so that everyone knows I’m a major player in this division. I have to prove to everyone why I deserve the biggest fights.”

James continued his ascent up the 147-pound rankings in his last fight in August 2020, when he out-boxed Thomas Dulorme to capture his title. With the title win, James was set to take on his mandatory challenger in Butaev, allowing James ample time knowing who his next foe would be.

“We’ve known that Butaev is the opponent for a while, so we’ve been training for a long time and I’ve been in great shape all camp,” said James. “We’re just working on our different tools and perfecting them for the fight ahead. We know that everyone is coming for us since I have the title now, so I’m just doing whatever I have to do so that I’m ready on October 30.”

The unbeaten Butaev was an amateur standout before turning pro in 2016 and quickly rising up the welterweight rankings. Trained by Joel Diaz, Butaev most recently knocked out Terry Chatwood in December 2020 to officially set up his showdown with James. While James anticipates his opponent trying to negate the height advantage he brings to the ring, he’s confident in his boxing ability making the difference on fight night.

“Like any other fighter, Butaev has two arms, two legs and a head,” said James. “All of these guys are coming with their A-games. He has strengths and weaknesses just like anyone else. I know he’ll come in there strong and try to test me. He’ll probably try to get inside on me. It’s my job to out-box him and beat him.”

The Minneapolis-native has developed a strong following in his hometown, filling up The Armory in downtown Minneapolis four times between 2018 and 2019, a run that included exciting victories over contenders Abel Ramos and Antonio DeMarco. Training out of the Circle of Discipline gym, James has led the charge in a Minneapolis boxing renaissance, which continues to motivate him even as he hits the road and prepares to fight in Las Vegas for the first time.

“Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota in general really has my back,” said James. “They give me a ton of motivation. And the Circle of Discipline is like my extended family. The people here all push me and keep me on task. That’s what makes me bite down a little bit harder in training, because I know all the people that I have behind me and supporting me.”

James is riding a seven-fight winning streak since his lone pro defeat, a decision loss to WBA World Champion Yordenis Ugas in August 2016. He hopes that a victory on October 30 will lead him directly into a rematch against Ugas, or a showdown against one of the other big-name welterweight stars.

“I’d like the rematch with Ugas coming off his big win against Pacquiao,” said James. “He’s fought the top guys and I’ve fought him before, but it was under less-than-ideal circumstances. I’d like to see what a fight between us would look like after both of us have had a full camp. I haven’t been able to get anyone like Errol Spence Jr., Danny Garcia or Shawn Porter yet, and those are the biggest fights in the division. I’d love to face one of those guys that are already considered the best at welterweight so that I can really prove myself.”

Stevenson on fight with Herring: ‘You’re going to see a special night, my coming out party’

They started as acquaintances, but once Jamel Herring acquired the belt Shakur Stevenson wanted, the friendly vibes went out the window. Herring will defend his WBO junior lightweight world title against former featherweight champion Stevenson on Saturday night from State Farm Arena in Atlanta (ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+, 10:30 p.m. ET).

Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) has made three defenses of the title he won from Masayuki Ito in May 2019. Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs), a 2016 Olympic silver medalist, is considered by many to be the heir to the pound-for-pound throne. He picked up the interim world title in June with a dominant decision over Jeremiah Nakathila.

When Herring and Stevenson had their final faceoff, the fighters and their teams exchanged verbal barbs, with Stevenson grabbing Herring’s belt on multiple occasions. They were separated and will resume the jawing at Friday’s weigh-in.

The ESPN main card will also feature Puerto Rican star Xander Zayas (10-0, 7 KOs) in a six-round junior middleweight bout against Dan Karpency, and the second pro bout for middleweight Nico Ali Walsh, grandson of “The Greatest.”

The ESPN+ undercard stream (7:30 p.m. ET) will showcase junior middleweight prospect Evan Holyfield (7-0, 5 KOs), son of Atlanta legend and former four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

At Thursday’s final press conference, this is what the combatants had to say.

Jamel Herring:

“The odds just play to my story. I’ve always been an underdog, not just in boxing but in life, so I don’t get into the oddsmaker thing. It doesn’t bother me at all.”

“It’s not personal, it’s just business. We’re building a fight is all it means to me. I’ve heard worse and been through worse. We’re just two top competitors in the division trying to prove who is the best.”

“It just feels like another elite level fight in a loaded and talented division, so we just take it one fight at a time. We put all personal feelings to the side and just go to work and do what we have to do.”

“Atlanta is cool. I have family out here. My sons live out here as well. It’s another home and it’s an honor just to be fighting in the State Farm Arena because there’s not a lot of fights coming into town, so whenever you can bring a special fight to a certain city, it’s always a great thing.”

Shakur Stevenson:

“It means everything to me. This is my first time being able to go against a champion and being able to take a champion’s belt will mean a lot to me…. and I can’t wait to hear them say, “AND THE NEW!'”

“It’s definitely not personal, just business at the end of the day. He’s not my friend. I don’t hit him up and say, ‘let’s fight.'” We don’t have any conversations. I don’t talk to Jamel Herring outside of boxing.”

“It’s going to feel real good beating the whole team. I can’t wait to go against {Herring trainers Brian McIntyre and Red Spikes}. It’s not just Jamel that I’m fighting. I’ve got to beat Bomac and Red, and it’ll feel good doing that.”

“You’re going to see a special night, my coming out party. It’s going to be a great night, and he said he’s going to spoil the party, so let’s see if he can do it.”

Canelo: ‘I’m sticking with my prediction of a knockout before round eight’

Mexican superstar, four-division world champion and unified WBC/WBO/WBA Super Middleweight Champion Canelo Álvarez held a virtual workout on Wednesday, as he showed off his skills ahead of his highly anticipated undisputed 168-pound championship showdown against undefeated IBF Super Middleweight Champion Caleb “Sweethands” Plant taking place Saturday, November 6 live on SHOWTIME PPV from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Canelo was joined by his renowned trainer and manager Eddy Reynoso at their gym in San Diego. Canelo and Plant will be looking to make history on November 6, as the winner of their fight will become the first undisputed 168-pound champion of the four-belt era.

See below what Alvarez had to say on Wednesday:

CANELO ÁLVAREZ(Photos: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME)

“I feel strong and I’m very excited. I’m just continuing to move forward day by day toward fight night. I’m ready to make history on November 6.

“It’s new for me to have this much bad blood with an opponent. It’s very different from normal and it’s definitely the most animosity I’ve had with an opponent heading into a big fight.

“I’m sticking with my prediction of a knockout before round eight. The first couple of rounds will be difficult, but as the fight progresses, I am going to be able to get him out of there.

“I delivered the message I had to at our press conference. I don’t have to say anything else to Plant. I’m just going to prepare to face him in the ring on November 6.

“The secret to me and Eddy’s relationship is our discipline. My mind is so strong and I’m going to use that to my advantage in this fight.

“I’ve never been involved in anything like what happened at the first press conference between me and Caleb. Whether it sells the fight or not, the most important thing for me is to become undisputed on November 6.

“I’ve been in the ring for huge fights like this a lot of times. For him, it’s going to be a challenge being in there for a fight of this magnitude for the first time. He’s going to have to control his emotions.

“I’m a complete fighter. I can do various things in the ring. I can be aggressive, I can counterpunch, I can move. At the end of the day, I know I have to be a complete fighter. That’s what I’ve learned to be under Eddy Reynoso.

“Caleb is a good boxer, he has a good jab and he moves very well. But it’s nothing I haven’t seen before. I’m just going to use my skills and experience to win the fight.

“This is very important for my country of Mexico. This is one of the most important fights of my life. I’m taking it very seriously and a win means a lot to me.

“I don’t want to compare myself to great Mexican champions of the past. I just want to go out and make my own history. In the end, I want to be considered one of the best along with the legends who came before me.”

Lopez-Kambosos set for 11/27 at Madison Square Garden

Unified Lightweight Champion Teófimo López (16-0, 12 KOs) will finally make his maiden title defence of his WBA, IBF, WBO, and The Ring belts against George Kambosos Jr (19-0, 10 KOs) at Hulu Theater, Madison Square Garden, New York, on Saturday, November 27 – live worldwide and exclusively on DAZN.

Lopez’s first fight since upsetting former champion Vasiliy Lomachenko in October 2020, the Brooklyn native beat the Ukrainian by unanimous decision, taking with him the prized straps and unified crown. Australian Kambosos Jr. comes into the fight as the mandatory IBF challenger, also boasting a perfect record and coming off the back of a split decision win against former IBF Featherweight Champion Lee Selby.

“The time has finally come!” said López. “It has been a long wait for Team Takeover. We’ve been in the zone for six months and counting but we’re pleased to be able to finally get this fight on DAZN! The Takeover will show the world once again why we are called ‘The People’s Champ’.”

“It has been a long time coming, I have been patient but ready and I have continued to perfect my craft, leaving no stone unturned to be victorious and win all the belts,” said Kambosos Jr. “I’m very excited to be headlining my biggest fight of my life on another great Matchroom card against Teofimo López after earning this opportunity last year by becoming the IBF mandatory and world number 1 on another great Matchroom show. I know they will give this fight the respect it deserves and I will shock the world and be crowned World Champion on November 27 in New York City.”

“I am delighted to be bringing Lopez vs. Kambosas to DAZN and Madison Square Garden,” said Matchroom Sport Chairman Eddie Hearn. “This rivalry has been cooking for a long time and now we finally get to see them put it to bed in the Big Apple.

“Teofimo is one of the big young stars in the sport but George is a hungry proud Aussie who knows that this is the chance to put his name amongst the elite of the game.

“The Lightweight division will catch fire once again at the end of 2021 with Devin Haney set to defend his WBC crown in December on DAZN after Teofimo and George tangle.

An announcement on tickets will be made soon.

Undercard information will be announced shortly.

Other major matchups this fall on DAZN include:

  • Friday, November 05: Matteo Signani vs. Ruben Diaz – live worldwide on DAZN

  • Saturday, November 13: Jaime Munguia vs Gabriel Rosado – live worldwide on DAZN, excluding Mexico

  • Saturday, November 13: Kid Galahad vs. Kiko Martinez – live worldwide on DAZN, excluding Australia & New Zealand

  • Saturday, November 19: Demetrius Andrade vs Jason Quigley – live worldwide on DAZN

  • Saturday, November 27: Teófimo López v George Kambosos Jr – live worldwide on DAZN

  • Saturday, December 18: Joseph Parker vs Derek Chisora – live worldwide on DAZN, excluding New Zealand & Samoa

Ennis on 147: ‘I’m just ready to take over the entire division’

Exciting unbeaten welterweight sensation Jaron “Boots” Ennis will look to make it 26 knockouts in 28 fights when he faces veteran contender Thomas Dulorme in the 10-round co-main event live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) Saturday, October 30 from Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

Ennis (27-0, 25 KOs), who has steadily risen in the ranks since his pro debut in 2016, faces another tough welterweight opponent in Dulorme after previously stopping former champion Sergey Lipinets in April. Dulorme, a 147-pound contender and former 140-pound title challenger, has amassed a solid resume in his career, climbing into the ring with world champions Yordenis Ugas, Jessie Vargas and Terence Crawford.

Named the 2020 Prospect of the Year by Ring Magazine, Ennis is trained by his father Bozy Ennis at Bozy’s Dungeon in his hometown of boxing-rich Philadelphia, Pa.

“My dad has me working on some new things to get better,” said the 24-year-old who boasts sublime boxing skills and power in both hands. “We’re working on having me be more relaxed in there and just staying sharp and alert, using my jab and going to the body a lot more. I never look for the knockout. I just go in there and do what I’m supposed to do and I let the knockout come to me, which it usually does.”

Ennis is currently ranked IBF No. 3, WBO and WBA No. 5 and WBC No. 8 at 147 pounds, and he believes that a title shot isn’t far away. He sees his latest opponent as just another obstacle in the way of reaching his ultimate goal.

“Dulorme is a good fighter and I don’t take anything away from him,” Ennis said. “He’s fought a lot of great guys, world champions, but I’m on a different level right now. I’m coming to take over the welterweight division and he’s in my way. He’s got to go. I’m coming for all the belts.”

With Ennis’ last three fights, including the no-contest against Chris van Heerden, all coming inside “The Fight Sphere” at Mohegan Sun, he is excited to fight out west for the first time in the Boxing Capital of the World as a profesional. Ennis does have fond memories of the city, however, having won Gold at the 2015 National Golden Gloves in Las Vegas.

“That’s a really fun memory, especially because I won the whole tournament,” he said. “I love Vegas. It’s the home of boxing, but honestly, I have so many fans from Philly coming out to this fight that it’s going to feel like I’m fighting at home. I would love to keep fighting in Vegas, bring my Philly people out, and make it like a second home.”

As the next in line amongst future Philadelphia-born world champions, Ennis takes great pride in his hometown and sees lots of boxing potential brewing in the City of Brotherly Love. “I definitely see a lot of other great prospects in Philly. There are even some amateurs that are about to turn pro that are great prospects. Philly has a lot of firepower and great guys coming up in the ranks right now. I feel like Philly is going to take over the boxing world.”

Ennis made his SHOWTIME debut in 2018 on ShoBox: The New Generation, scoring a third-round TKO over Armando Alvarez. Ennis has continued his progression on SHOWTIME, including in his last fight in April, when Ennis passed the most significant test of his career with flying colors, becoming the first fighter to stop Lipinets. Still, the rising star isn’t satisfied.

“It’s wonderful that I’m getting more and more recognition, but that’s not what I do this for. I’m just ready to take over the entire division. I promise this is just the start for me.”

Photo Credit: Justin McGinnis

Canelo-Plant undercard announced

Three high-stakes matchups featuring former world champions, top contenders and rising future champions have been added to the highly anticipated SHOWTIME PPV event headlined by Canelo Álvarez and Caleb “Sweethands” Plant battling for the undisputed super middleweight championship on Saturday, November 6 in a Premier Boxing Champions event from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Two-time super middleweight world champion Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell will square off against exciting contender “Madman” Marcos Hernández in the 10-round co-main event, while unbeaten former super bantamweight world champion Rey Vargas returns to action against Mexico’s Leonardo Báez in a 10-round attraction. Kicking off the pay-per-view at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, super lightweight contenders Elvis Rodríguez and Juan Pablo Romero will duel in a 10-round showdown.

Dirrell (33-2-2, 24 KOs), a two-time WBC 168-pound world champion, won the title for the first time with a unanimous decision over Sakio Bika in 2014. The native of Flint, Mich. dropped the title the next year to Badou Jack by majority decision, before putting together six straight victories to get back into position to fight for the championship again. He captured the title for a second time in 2019, winning a technical decision victory over Avni Yildirim. Most recently, Dirrell battled Kyrone Davis to a draw in February, in his first fight since a title fight defeat against David Benavidez in September 2019.

“I’m very ready for this fight,” said Dirrell. “I know Hernandez is a tough competitor and I’m sure he’ll have a lot of fans there since we’re fighting on the same card as Canelo. But I know I’m ready to fight on the big stage and on a card of this magnitude. I fought on the Errol Spence Jr. vs. Shawn Porter undercard and I think this fight night is going to have a similar feel. I’m just prepared to do whatever I have to do to get the victory. The fans should expect fireworks. I’m not shying away from the action and hopefully I can get the winner of Canelo vs. Plant if I perform well on November 6.”

Fighting out of Fresno, Calif., Hernández (15-4-2, 3 KOs) has faced excellent competition in his career, battling a litany of tough fellow rising contenders. The 28-year-old most recently scored an impressive unanimous decision victory over previously unbeaten Armando Resendiz in September. In addition to his recent triumph, Hernández has twice faced former unified super welterweight champion Jeison Rosario, fighting to a draw in their first meeting before losing the rematch. He has also taken down then-unbeaten fighters in Kevin Newman II and Thomas Hill.

“I’m having a great training camp for this fight coming off of my performance in early September,” said Hernández. “As always, the fans can expect me to bring an entertaining fight. I know that I’m up against a former world champion who’s accomplished a lot in his career. I’m just focusing on working hard every day to get the victory and everything that will come with it.”

The former WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion, Vargas (34-0, 22 KOs) will return from layoff due to injury when he enters the ring on November 6. The 30-year-old went on the road to the U.K. to capture his title in 2017, winning a decision over previously unbeaten Gavin McDonnell. A native of Mexico City, Vargas made five successful defenses of his title, defeating top contenders including Oscar Negrete, Ronny Rios and Azat Hovhannisyan. His last fight and fifth successful title defense came via a unanimous decision over former world champion Tomoki Kameda in July 2019.

“I’m very happy for my return to the ring and my debut with PBC,” said Vargas. “You are going to see a renewed Rey Vargas on November 6. My opponent is a good fighter with speed who throws a lot of combinations. It will be a tough fight, but I know I have what it takes to win. I couldn’t be happier to be on the big stage on Canelo’s undercard. I know that I have to shine on fight night, take advantage of this showcase, and deliver a great fight for the fans.”

The Baja California, Mexico native Báez (21-4, 12 KOs) enters this fight the winner of his last three outings, all coming by TKO. The 26-year-old put together the winning streak after defeats to the previously unbeaten Carlos Caraballo and former title challenger Jason Moloney. Báez, who has fought professionally since 2013, will fight in the U.S. for the fourth time on November 6. Amongst his stateside outings, Báez dominated former interim champion Moises Flores on his way to earning a unanimous decision in February 2020.

“I’m excited for this great challenge on November 6,” said Báez. “I’m planning on giving the fans a true Mexican war and leaving it all in the ring to get the victory. It’s an honor to fight on the Canelo undercard and I’m going to make the most of it. This is going to be a toe-to-toe war, and I’m going to show that he’s not able to stand up to my power and aggression.”

Rodríguez (11-1-1, 10 KOs) burst onto the scene with knockout victories in 10 of his first 11 fights. He capped off a five-win 2020 campaign with a knockout of Cameron Krael in October and a decision victory against Luis Alberto Veron four months later. Fighting out of his native Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Rodríguez most recently dropped a narrow majority decision against Kenneth Sims Jr. in May.

“I am very thankful to my team for getting me this tremendous opportunity opening up the pay-per-view for the biggest fight of the year,” said Rodríguez. “I have a tough opponent in front of me, but I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m ready to show everyone that I’m the real deal. My goal remains the same, and that’s to win a world title in 2022. First, I am just focused on November 6 and making sure I take advantage of the opportunity that a victory will produce on my road to the world title.”

Romero (14-0, 9 KOs) turned pro in 2017 after fighting for his native Mexico at the 2016 Olympic Games. The 31-year-old dispatched solid veterans Nestor Armas, Nestor Gonzalez and Ranses Payano in 2019, before earning a 10-round decision over Sergio Torres Alvarado in his only 2020 contest. Romero made it back-to-back 10-round unanimous decision triumphs in April of this year, as he won his U.S. debut by defeating Deiner Berrio. Throughout his extensive amateur career, Romero owns an impressive victory over unbeaten welterweight contender Gabriel Maestre.

“I’m very excited that my team was able to get me this great opportunity to fight on a Canelo show in Las Vegas,” said Romero. “I feel just as happy and excited to fight as I did for the Olympic games. I’m going to prove what I’m made of on November 6. No matter who my opponent is, I always train hard and prepare to do whatever I can to earn the victory.”

Navarrete defeats Gonzalez by unanimous decision to retain title

Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete and Joet Gonzalez engaged in a border war for the ages.

Navarrete (35-1, 29 KOs) retained his WBO featherweight world title with a bloody unanimous decision (118-110 and 116-112 2x) over Joet Gonzalez (24-2, 14 KOs) on Friday evening at Pechanga Arena San Diego. It was the second successful title defense for Navarrete, who moved up to the featherweight ranks last year after defending his junior featherweight crown five times.

“Without a doubt, I hurt him, but every single time he came back, and he also hurt me. A couple shots he landed hurt me during the fight,” Navarrete said. “It has been an exciting ride so far, and from now on, I want the bigger fights.”

The bigger fights could include an eventual move up to 130 pounds, where a match with WBC champion Oscar Valdez would be one of the biggest all-Mexican showdowns in the sport.

But on this night, Navarrete had to contend with the stubborn Gonzalez, who hung in tough despite swollen right eye in the early rounds. Navarrete threw 979 punches, including 104 in the 12th round to close the show in style.

Gonzalez said, “I thought I had it seven rounds to five, eight rounds to four. I was really surprised by that score of 118-110, I believe. But it is what it is, and I did my best.”

Santillan Thrills Hometown Crowd:

Welterweight contender Giovani Santillan had not fought in his hometown in more than seven years. In front of a partisan crowd that broke out into frequent “Gio” chants, the San Diego native improved to 28-0 with a 10-round unanimous decision over Angel Ruiz (17-2, 12 KOs). The scores — 100-90 2x and 99-91 — did not reflect the game effort of Ruiz, who gave nearly as good as he received for much of the fight.

Buoyed by the local faithful, Santillan prevailed in the phone both affair and edged closer to a title shot.

Santillan said, “This is what it’s all about, a great fight in front of my amazing hometown fans. They were cheering for me all night, and it was an honor to perform for my people in San Diego.

“My father and I always wanted to fight here. It was a dream come true, and credit to Angel Ruiz for going to battle for 10 rounds. He’s a true Mexican warrior. I have nothing but respect for him.”

In other action:

Puerto Rican southpaw junior lightweight Henry “Moncho” Lebron (14-0, 9 KOs) notched the most significant win of his young career, turning back the hard-charging Dallas native Manuel Rey Rojas (21-6, 6 KOs) by eight-round unanimous decision. All three judges scored the fight 80-72.

Junior welterweight prospect Lindolfo Delgado (14-0, 12 KOs) won his second bout in six weeks, shutting out Juan Garcia Mendez (21-5-2, 13 KOs) over eight rounds (80-71 3x). Delgado floored Mendez with a two-punch combination in the closing stages of the eighth round.

Middleweight upstart Javier “Milwaukee Made” Martinez (5-0, 2 KOs) did not give any of that famous Midwest hospitality to Daryl Jones (4-3-1, 2 KOs), as he bested the Florida resident over six one-sided rounds by scores of 60-54 and 60-53 2x. After a second round that saw Jones nearly stopped against the ropes, the two battled the rest of the way, trading punches in the waning seconds of the sixth round.

Bantamweight prospect Floyd “Cashflow” Diaz (3-0) dominated former amateur rival Jose Ramirez (1-1, 1 KO) via four-round unanimous decision, knocking Ramirez down in the opening round and cruising to a points win by scores of 39-36 and 40-35 2x.

The newest heavyweight on the block showed out. Antonio “El Gigante” Mireles, from Des Moines, Iowa, shined in his professional debut, knocking out Demonte Randle (2-2, 2 KOs) in the opening round. Mireles, a southpaw, knocked down Randle early in the first round with a right hook. Following two more knockdowns, the referee called a halt to the fight at 2:07.

Photo: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images