Kovalev: ‘Why everybody thinks that I have a problem with the body shot?’

As his career winds down, WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev hopes to beat the cash cow in the sport of boxing when he battles unified middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez on November 2 in Las Vegas.

While he is moving up two weight classes, Alvarez is the favorite in this fight, and part of the reason that he is the favorite is that many believe Kovalev is slowing down, but the last time we saw him, he was able to stop Anthony Yarde. However, before stopping Yarde, Kovalev was almost stopped himself in that fight, and like others, including Andre Ward, Yarde had a lot of success going to Kovalev’s body.

Even with the evidence, the 36-year-old Kovalev believes that his vulnerability to the body is a myth.

“Why everybody thinks that I have a problem with the body shot?” Kovalev said on a conference call on Tuesday. “Why? I never was attacked by body shot, you know.”

When reminded about the second fight with Ward(Kovalev stopped by body shots), Kovalev had this to say.

“Second fight Andre Ward was a low blow, low blow,” he said. “It wasn’t a punch to the body. Was a low blow. I said already like after the fight, it was a low blow.”

Of course, Kovalev is not going to admit that he issues dealing with body shots, but it’s clear that Kovalev does not like it to the body, and Canelo is a vicious body puncher. So, expect Alvarez to spend a lot of time going to Kovalev’s body on November 2, and if he can handle it, maybe Kovalev walks out of the ring still a champion.

Photo/courtesy: David Spagnolo/Main Events

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Crawford-Mean Machine, Commey-Lopez set for 12/14 at MSG

Terence “Bud” Crawford will defend his WBO welterweight world title against undefeated mandatory challenger Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas Saturday, December 14 at Madison Square Garden as part of a special ESPN-televised tripleheader that will immediately follow the 2019 Heisman Trophy Presentation (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). ESPN Deportes will provide the Spanish-language telecast.

The triple-header on ESPN and ESPN Deportes will also feature IBF lightweight world champion Richard “RC” Commey defending his title against human highlight film and Brooklyn native Teofimo Lopez. Additionally, in the 10-round featherweight special attraction, Irish sensation and New York fan favorite Michael “Mick” Conlan will battle unbeaten Russian Vladimir Nikitin in a rematch of their highly controversial 2016 Olympic quarterfinal bout.

“This is the best fight card of the year, and Madison Square Garden is a fitting venue for what will be a special night,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Terence Crawford is a generational talent, but he’ll have his hands full against the ‘Mean Machine.’ Teofimo Lopez is taking a giant step up against Commey, and it will be a tremendous fight. Mick Conlan has been asking for Nikitin since the day he signed with Top Rank. He finally gets his wish, and I know he wants to correct the tremendous injustice of the Rio Olympics.”

“Egidijus Kavaliauskas is a two-time Olympian and I can’t take him lightly,” Crawford said. “He’s got everything to gain and nothing to lose and that makes him dangerous. I never overlook any opponent, and this will be no exception. I’ll be ready for anything and everything he brings on December 14 when I return to my second home, Madison Square Garden, and live on ESPN.”

Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs), the pride of Omaha, Nebraska, has been impeccable since turning professional, winning world titles in three weight classes and unifying all four major world titles at super lightweight. He is 13-0 with 10 knockouts in world title bouts and has knocked out his last six opponents, including Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz, bitter rival Jose Benavidez Jr. and Manny Pacquiao conqueror Jeff “The Hornet” Horn. In his last bout, April 20 at Madison Square Garden, Crawford neutralized former unified super lightweight world champion Amir “King” Khan en route to a sixth-round TKO after Khan could not continue following a low blow. Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) will be the fourth undefeated fighter Crawford has faced in his last five bouts.

A native of Kaunas, Lithuania, Kavaliauskas represented his homeland at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, rising the professional ranks with convincing victories over perennial contenders Juan Carlos Abreu and Roberto Arriaza. Kavaliauskas has a February 2018 TKO win over David Avanesyan, who is now the current European welterweight champion. He has never been knocked down as a pro or amateur and trains out of the famed Boxing Laboratory in Oxnard, California.

Commey (29-2, 24 KOs) has had a career year, winning the vacant IBF lightweight title February 2 in Frisco, Texas with a devastating second-round TKO over Isa Chaniev. He defended the belt June 29, knocking down former lightweight world champion Ray Beltran down four times before stopping him in the eighth round. A native of, Accra, Ghana, he has won four in a row by knockout.

Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs), at 22 years old, is one of boxing’s budding superstars a big-punching, big-talking fighter who has become the sport’s latest viral sensation. His post-fight Fortnite celebrations and backflips are the exclamation point to his highlight-reel knockouts. He fought last year on the post-Heisman Trophy celebration telecast, knocking out Mason Menard in 44 seconds and then putting on the jersey of Heisman winner Kyler Murray. Lopez is 3-0 in 2019, most recently prevailing via 12-round decision July 19 over Japanese veteran Masayoshi Nakatani in a title eliminator.

“I’m very excited to fight at the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden, in my second world title defense against Teofimo Lopez,” Commey said. “My lifelong dream of becoming a world champion became a reality through many years of hard work in my homeland of Ghana through the UK, Europe and finally in the United States. I want to thank everyone on my team for making this possible. On December 14, I will put on another spectacular performance in defending my world title for my fans in the arena and those watching on ESPN and around the world.”

“Richard has fought all over the world for many years to achieve his lifelong dream of not only becoming a true world champion, but also becoming a boxing star, and on December 14 against Teofimo Lopez, I believe that he will successfully defend his title for the second time in spectacular fashion,” said Lou DiBella, Commey’s promoter.

“I’m finally back at Madison Square Garden, the place where I always wanted to win my first world title,” Lopez said. “I believe this fight will shut up all of the critics and prove to everyone that I back up my talking in the ring. I respect Commey as a champion, but when we’re in that ring, it’s going to be lights out for him. Come December 14, I am officially taking over the lightweight division.”

Conlan (12-0, 7 KOs), who is ranked in the top 10 as a featherweight by three of the major sanctioning organizations, is looking to avenge the final, and most controversial loss, of his amateur career. With a semifinal berth — and a guaranteed Olympic medal — on the line, Nikitin was the beneficiary of a decision most experts believe Conlan deserved. The indelible image of the Rio Olympics was Conlan’s double middle-finger salute to the judges. Conlan’s disappointment motivated him for what has been a flawless professional campaign. A proven ticket-seller at Madison Square Garden thanks to his annual St. Patrick’s Day appearances, Conlan is coming off a rousing TKO win over Diego Alberto Ruiz on August 3 in front of 10,000 hometown fans at Belfast’s Falls Park.

Nikitin (3-0, 0 KOs) did not turn pro immediately following the 2016 Olympics, electing to fight as an amateur throughout 2017. He signed a professional contract in 2018 with Top Rank, in large part because he wanted to face Conlan as a pro. Nikitin’s come-forward style has translated to the pro ranks, as he’s won a trio of decisions. He has fought on the same card as Conlan twice as a professional. The message was clear: Conlan and Nikitin were destined to meet again. They were supposed to fight August 3 at Falls Park, but Nikitin suffered a torn biceps in training.

“I’m beyond excited to fight for the sixth time in my favorite venue in the world, the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden,” Conlan said. “The boxing fans in New York City have been incredibly supportive of my career, and I look forward to putting on another great show for them, as well as my Irish fans coming over for this massive holiday event.

“Vladimir Nikitin and I have unfinished business from the 2016 Olympics, and I can’t wait until December 14 to set the record straight.”

“Michael Conlan has done a lot of talking about me and our Olympic fight over the last few years. The talking finally ends December 14,” Nikitin said. “He’s bitter over our last fight and can’t accept the result. Well, my hand will be raised once again.”

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Canelo on GGG-Derevyanchenko: ‘Obviously for me — Derevyanchenko won the fight’

Last Saturday night at MSG in New York City, we got a “Fight of the Year” candidate when Gennady Golovkin captured the vacant IBF middleweight title by defeating Sergiy Derevyanchenko by unanimous decision.

This fight had a lot of action. In the second round, a Golovkin right hook to the top of the head put Derevyanchenko on the canvas. A bad cut over the right eye of Derevyanchenko in the second round was further cause concern for the Russian – but the blood only spurred him on and he started the third round at a ferocious speed, sparking a round of fireworks where both men had their moments, and this fight was back and forth the rest of the way. Many believe Derevyanchenko won the fight, including unified middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, who will move up two divisions to challenge WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev on November 2.

“We saw it. Obviously for me — Derevyanchenko won the fight,” Alvarez recently said on a conference call.  “It was a fight where he really looked well. It was his fight. Regarding Triple G, we all know, everyone knows, it’s unnecessary to say more, but he looked slow, and I think I gave everyone the pathway to see how to hurt him, which is the body, and that’s what we saw…

“Like I said before, and I’m going to repeat it again. I said it before the fight, and I’m going to repeat it. For me that fight presents no challenge to me right now. We fought two times, 24 rounds. I beat him, so he represents no challenge. However, what he does represent is some good business, so if they offer me something really good, maybe the third fight can happen. But for me, no, because he represents no challenge for me.”

Golovkin, 37, is no longer in his prime, but he is still very good. I think GGG won the first fight against Canelo. However, I think Canelo probably won the second fight, and while I don’t want to see Canelo-GGG III, I do believe it still would be a close fight, and in reality, this fight makes the most money for both guys. And after the way GGG looked against Derevyanchenko, it might be in Canelo’s best interest to make the third fight with Golovkin. 

I believe the fight will happen in May or September of 2020. Mark it down!

Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing

Official statement on Errol Spence’s condition

Unified welterweight champion Errol Spence, who recently defeated Shawn Porter to capture the WBC welterweight title, was involved in a single-car accident Thursday morning in Dallas. The 29-year-old Spence was reportedly ejected from his white Ferrari.

Here is an official statement from Errol Spence’s team on his condition:

“Errol Spence Jr., IBF/WBC unified welterweight world champion, was involved in a serious, single-car accident in Dallas early Thursday morning and is being treated at a Dallas-area hospital. Spence is awake and responding and his condition is listed as stable. He did not sustain any broken bones or fractures, but has some facial lacerations. He is expected to make a full recovery.

He is currently resting with his family by his side. They want to thank everyone for their prayers and well wishes and are extremely grateful to the Dallas first responders who rushed to the scene to attend to Errol after the accident and the doctors who are taking care of him at the hospital.”

Haney: ‘Let’s not forget Loma lost to a man who has 14 losses’

Undefeated WBC interim champion, Devin “The Dream” Haney (23-0, 15 KOs), is calling out all promoters to join him and his co-promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, in their quest to bring boxing back to its glory days, where the best always fought the best. You

After his stunning victory over Zaur Abdullaev (11-1, 7 KOs), where he fractured his orbital bone with a crushing overhand right, Haney became the mandatory challenger to fight pound for pound king Vasyl Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs), who holds the WBC lightweight title. Haney feels it’s important for boxing to flourish, if all elite fighters in their respective divisions fight one another.

“A lot of writers are saying I’m not ready to face Lomachenko, that’s ridiculous,” said the twenty-year old phenom Haney. “All the guys he beat, I would beat also. Let’s not forget Lomachenko lost to a man who has fourteen losses(Orlando Salido), so to say I’m not on his level is crazy talk. Loma fought for a world title in his second professional fight. He was 1-0, I’m 23-0. Who wouldn’t want to watch me and Loma fight? The answer is everyone would want to watch that fight and that’s a fact. I hate to say it, but it must be said, It’s embarrassing for Lomachenko if he keeps ducking this twenty year old, but in reality, there is no one that I can’t beat at 135 pounds!”

“Every promoter in boxing should put aside their egos and make the big fights,” continued Haney. “I know the fans will appreciate the best fighting the best and they deserve to see these big fights. Right now, boxing is so fragmented. I’m a fan of the sport and it would be a travesty if some of these big fights don’t get made.  Arum said I signed with the wrong company, but he’s not making the big fights the people want to see. He’s serving the interest of his company and I knew that mentality could hold me back from becoming one of the greats in this sport, hence me signing with Matchroom. There are many more sensational matchups that are long overdue.  It’s good business, and boxing will thrive, if the best are fighting the best.”

While networks and sanctioning bodies play key factors in making big fights, things can always get complicated. Haney feels confident that the sport will grow immensely, if his vision comes to fruition.

“Everyone would benefit if the big fights are made,” concluded Haney, who is the CEO of his own promotional company, Devin Haney Promotions. “I became a promoter early in my career because I want to bring the sport of boxing together. A formula needs to be made where all parties can be compensated, and the fans get to see great fights. Eddie Hearn and Matchroom boxing whom I co-promote with, put their fighters in tough, but they get them really paid. Now that’s something you can respect. Boxing needs to unite, and the mega fights should be made immediately.”

Photo: Top Rank

Banks on GGG: ‘Did Michael Jordan take it easy when he caught the flu?’

Gennady Golovkin is a champion once again, but it was not easy. Golovkin was able to squeak by Sergiy Derevyanchenko by a controversial unanimous decision to capture the vacant IBF middleweight belt on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Golovkin dropped Derevyanchenko in round 2, and was able to win the late rounds to get the decision.

After the fight, it was revealed by promoter Eddie Hearn that Golovkin was dealing with an illness going into this fight, which Hearn thinks had an impact on GGG’s performance. Golovkin’s trainer, Johnathan Banks, agreed with Hearn’s assessment.

“It had a huge impact,” Banks told goforitradio.com. “If you wouldn’t been told that, I wouldn’t said nothing. Whatever happens, happens. He chose to stay here and fight, so once he made that decision, I supported him and said, ‘Let’s go'”

According to Banks, once Golovkin decided to fight, he had to find a way to work through his illness.

“I told him whether you sick or not if you choose to fight, fight,” Bank said. “Doesn’t matter. Like, did Michael Jordan take it easy when he caught the flu?”

Golovkin, 37. easily could have lost this fight, but no matter how you feel about the decision, it was not a robbery.

However, it should be interesting to see if Golovkin does the rematch with Derevyanchenko, or does he continue to try to chase a third fight with Canelo Alvarez. No matter what he does, it’s clear that Golovkin is starting to show his age. You saw it a little bit against Steve Rolls back in June, and it became very apparent against Derevyanchenko. But, even at his advanced age, Golovkin is still one of the best middleweights in boxing.

Photo/courtesy: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

 

Usyk to battle Chazz Witherspoon on 10/12

Oleksandr Usyk will face Chazz Witherspoon on his Heavyweight debut at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago on Saturday night, live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK.

Witherspoon (38-3 29 KOs) second cousin of former two-time World Heavyweight ruler Tim Witherspoon, is unbeaten in five years with his last win coming in March in Atlantic City over Santiago Silgado and now the 38 year old Philadelphian gets a huge opportunity to pull off a massive upset as Ukrainian pound-for-pound king Usyk moves up to Heavyweight after leaving the Cruiserweight division as the undisputed ruler.

“I can’t wait to face Usyk in Chicago,” said Witherspoon. “I have been in training ready for a big fight, and it doesn’t get bigger than this. Oleksandr is stepping up to Heavyweight – and he’s going to find out that it’s a totally different game.

“I’ve won my last eight fights and I really feel that I’ve been waiting in the wings for a huge opportunity like this and I am going to put every ounce of myself into the fight on this massive stage.”

Witherspoon replaces Tyrone Spong in the main event on the stacked card in the Windy City after there were adverse findings in two of Spong’s urine samples. As a result, the Illinois State Athletic Commission will not license Tyrone to box and rescinded their approval of the bout with Usyk.

Usyk’s Heavyweight bow against Witherspoon is part of a huge night of World championship action in Chicago as Dmitry Bivol defends his WBA World Light-Heavyweight title against Lenin Castillo and unified Super-Lightweight champion Jessica McCaskill defends her WBA and WBC titles against old foe Erica Farias.

Unbeaten Super-Middleweight talent Anthony Sims Jr returns to action against Morgan Fitch, Charles Conwell defends his USBA Super-Welterweight title against Patrick Day, an all-Chicago Super-Featherweight clash between Josh Hernandez and Giovanni Mioletti, former World title challenger TJ Doheny returns to the ring, Reshat Mati is back after recovering from a shoulder injury and a fourth pro outing for rising starlet Otha Jones III.

Photo: Marchroom Boxing

Ramirez fight-worn outfit from Hooker bout garners $10,000 donation to benefit family of Dadashev

WBC/WBO super lightweight world champion Jose Ramirez wanted to do something to benefit the family of Maxim “Mad Max” Dadashev, who passed away July 23 due to injuries sustained in the ring.

After he defeated Maurice Hooker in a super lightweight unification bout July 27 in Arlington, Texas, Ramirez and his adviser, Rick Mirigian, offered his fight-worn gloves, shoes and trunks to the highest bidder. The board of The Big Fresno Fair, the largest annual event in California’s Central Valley, stepped up with a $10,000 bid.

One hundred percent of the proceeds were sent to the Dadashev family, and the items are currently on display alongside a life-size statue of Ramirez at the Fresno County Historical Museum.

“I’m honored and humbled to have been able to help out Maxim’s family,” Ramirez said. “Every fighter puts their life on the line in the ring. My prayers to his family.”

“These items are incredibly important to our museum, especially with the recent addition of the life-size statue honoring Jose,” said John C. Alkire, CEO, The Big Fresno Fair. “When we knew this was going to support a family during a time of loss, we were all in.”

“Maxim fought in Fresno once as a pro, and Jose and I just wanted to do something to show our support for his family,” Mirigian said.

“From the bottom of our hearts, and on behalf of Maxim’s family and our entire team, we would like to thank Jose, his team and The Big Fresno Fair for their generosity,” said Egis Klimas, Dadashev’s manager.

Andrade on GGG: ‘He’d be a great guy to put on the resume’

Demetrius Andrade will be a more than interested spectator as the WBO Middleweight champion sits ringside tonight as Gennadiy Golovkin and Sergiy Derevyanchenko clash for the vacant IBF and IBO titles at Madison Square Garden live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK.

Andrade (28-0 17 KOs) is set to defend his WBO crown in December before hunting a blockbuster clash in 2020 to back up his conviction of being the best 160lber on the planet, and both GGG and Canelo Alvarez are on ‘Boo Boo’s’ radar for that.

The Rhode Island star expects a tough fight tonight though, with Kazakh king Golovkin aiming to regain the IBF and IBO crowns while Derevyanchenko full of belief in his second World title fight.

“Fighting either one of them would be cool,” said Andrade. “Sergiy is a durable guy, his only loss is to Danny Jacobs, one of the best out there, and we’re going to see what is left in GGGs tank tonight. Has he gotten a little older or not? We can’t tell until tonight, and it’s a good step up for Sergiy to see his skill level. Either way, I would get in the ring with the winner as they are both stand out guys.

“GGG is the more popular guy and I want to go out and beat the popular guy. He may not be the most skillful out there. He’s put in the work, they’ve moved him well and he’d be a great guy to put on the resume, even if he loses – it’s still GGG!

“I’m not frustrated, I’m working on my own legacy. I want to stay active, fight who we can fight, fight my mandatories and do what we have to do so there’s no more excuses for why people won’t fight me. There’s a small window of names out there now and sooner or later, we’re going to have to fight. So how can I be frustrated when I am a World champion again, fighting four times in a year, I’m getting paid, I’m chilling, my family is good – there’s nothing to be frustrated about. It would still be an honor to get in with Canelo, with GGG, they’ve done a lot for the sport and so am I. It’s going to happen, me and Canelo are in the same age group.

“When it comes to skills, I do believe I’m the most talented fighter out there. So, people don’t want their business destroyed by fighting me. But at the end of the day, you are fighting one of the best. You’re going to say that you fought Demetrius Andrade – Olympic champion, two-weight World champion, what is there to be upset about. Everyone is fighting around the same time, GGG-Derevyanchenko tonight, Canelo in November, I’ll be fighting in December, we can fight in May or June, so it’s all lining up and all I have to do is keep winning and looking good.”

Photo: Matchroom Boxing

Shields: ‘I’ve taken women’s boxing to a place it hasn’t been before’

Unified middleweight world champion Claressa Shields and former world champion Ivana Habazin showed off their skills at a media workout Wednesday before they go toe-to-toe this Saturday night in a showdown for the WBO and WBC 154-pound world titles live on SHOWTIME from Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center in Flint, Mich.

 Joining them at the media workout were fighters competing in non-televised attractions Saturday including local super flyweight contenders Ja’Rico O’Quinn and James Smith, who will fight for the WBO International title, and Scotland’s Hannah Rankin, who steps in against Erin Toughill in a super welterweight attraction.

 After her portion of the media workout, Shields, who fights in her hometown of Flint for the first time as a pro on Saturday, spent time with kids who participate in the gym’s Downtown Boxing Gym (DBG) program for Detroit students ages 8-18. The gym currently serves over 170 students with mentorship and training programs.

 Here is what Claressa Shields had to say:

 “It hasn’t really hit me yet that I’m actually fighting in Flint. Once everything happens at the press conference I think it will actually hit me. I hope that this fight shows people in Flint that no matter what we go through, Flint comes out on top.

“Habazin has a good record and is ranked highly, so I know what she presents. I trained for nine weeks not to lose weight, but to be prepared for a tough match. I trained to come here and get the knockout. It should be a great fight come Saturday.

“I’ve been fighting for 13 years and I’ve never missed weight once. If you have a fight at a certain weight class, you come on weight. That’s just protocol. You do what you have to do. I’m still drinking my water and eating. I’m not starving myself to make weight.

“It’s important every time to look better than my last fight. That’s just my mentality so that I keep myself from doing too much but also doing enough. I looked superb in my last fight. I showed people that I’m a complete fighter. I can’t show less than that on Saturday. To me, that means I have to get the knockout.

“I know that I’m faster at 154-pounds. It’s been a big jump for this one. I’m Roy Jones Jr. fast for this one. I can drop my hands, throw punches and land them from any angle. This weight is beneficial for body. It fits me well.

“I’ve taken women’s boxing to a place it hasn’t been before, but it’s not where it needs to be yet. I think that my performances are getting better and better and everything I do outside of boxing is helping to build me up as well.

“I just want to get better every fight. I want to make sure that I show even more of everything that I did against Hammer. That’s been my mentality since the amateurs.”