Three world title bouts and a highly anticipated light heavyweight unification fight are on the docket for Top Rank’s fall schedule, which will be unveiled TODAY at 12 p.m. PT at a special kickoff press conference at the MGM Grand’s KA Theatre.
The fall schedule will kick off October 18 with the previously announced light heavyweight unification bout between IBF champion Artur Beterbiev and WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia (ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 10 p.m. ET). The entire undercard will stream on ESPN+ starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.
“This is a tremendous lineup of fights that Top Rank is bringing to ESPN and ESPN+ in the fall,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “You have young superstars and established champions in the toughest fights of their careers. It doesn’t get better than that. When it’s all said and done, new superstars are going to emerge.”
October 26: Stevenson and Gonzalez to Battle for Featherweight World Title
Shakur Stevenson is only 22 years old and 12 fights into his pro career. For his first world title shot, he’ll return to the sight of many of his greatest amateur accomplishments. Stevenson will face Joet Gonzalez for the vacant WBO featherweight title Saturday, October 26 at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada.
Stevenson and Gonzalez are the WBO’s top two contenders for the belt vacated by Oscar Valdez, who is now campaigning at 130 pounds.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Let’s Get It On Promotions and Golden Boy, Stevenson-Gonzalez and a co-feature will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. The entire undercard will stream on ESPN+ starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.
“I have been working for this moment my entire life, and no one is going to stop me from becoming a world champion,” Stevenson said. “I had some of my biggest amateur moments in Reno, and I can’t wait to win my first world title there. This is my time to show the world that I am the best young fighter in boxing. The Shakur Stevenson era will officially begin on October 26.”
“It’s about time I got my world title shot,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve been asking for this opportunity for a long time. Thanks to my promoter and manager, it is finally here. Shakur Stevenson has done a lot of talking. But I’ll do my talking in the ring with my fists on October 26.”
Stevenson (12-0, 7 KOs), the fighting pride of Newark, New Jersey, turned pro in April 2017 following a standout amateur career that included a 2016 Olympic silver medal for the United States. He is familiar with Reno, having won four national titles in “The Biggest Little City in the World” from 2013-2015, including his triumph at the Olympic Trials. Stevenson returned to Reno as a pro, shutting out Juan Tapia over eight rounds in February 2018 to improve to 5-0. He has fought three times thus far in 2019, including a career-best performance April 20 against former world title challenger Christopher Diaz on the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan pay-per-view undercard. He followed up the unanimous decision over Diaz with a triumphant return to Newark, where more than 5,000 fans packed the Prudential Center for his third-round stoppage over Alberto Guevara.
Gonzalez (23-0, 14 KOs) is a seven-year pro who has the edge in experience, and at 25 years old, is three years older than Stevenson. Like Stevenson, he had a storied amateur career, nearly qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics and winning a U.S. Junior Olympics title. Gonzalez has won three consecutive bouts by knockout since a split decision victory over former world title challenger Rafael Rivera. He last fought July 13 in Carson, California, capturing the WBO Global and WBA Continental America featherweight titles with a sixth-round stoppage over Manuel Avila. Immediately following the Avila bout, he expressed interest in fighting in Stevenson, and the two have since been engaged in a social media back-and-forth. The talking will stop — and the fight will start — on October 26.
November 2: Miguel Berchelt Set to Defend Super Featherweight World Title Versus Jason Sosa
WBC super featherweight world champion Miguel Berchelt will defend his world title for the sixth time against former world champion Jason Sosa in a can’t-miss battle Saturday, November 2 at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Berchelt, who has won four in a row by stoppage, is the division’s longest-reigning world champion and is ranked No. 1 by both ESPN.com and Ring Magazine.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Zanfer Promotions and Peltz Boxing, Berchelt-Sosa and a world title co-feature will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT. The undercard will stream on ESPN+ starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT
“On November 2, there will be another classic war between a Mexican and a Puerto Rican warrior,” Berchelt said. “I will prove once again that I am the best and most spectacular super featherweight in the world. This title ain’t going anywhere.”
“I can’t express how happy and grateful I am to Top Rank and Russell Peltz for once again working together to give me another shot at becoming world champion,” Sosa said. “I am training harder than ever. I want this so bad, and I am not going to let anything stop what God has planned for me. We are incredibly focused knowing the importance of this fight. Berchelt is a strong opponent, and we are not taking his talents lightly. We both throw a lot of punches so expect an action-packed fight that will be the next chapter in the Mexico versus Puerto Rico rivalry. It’s a rivalry that’s been ongoing for years, and I plan on making my island very proud. On November 2, I plan on becoming a two-time world champion.”
Berchelt (36-1, 32 KOs) has reigned as WBC super featherweight king since January 28, 2017, the evening he dethroned Francisco Vargas via 11th-round knockout in a Fight of the Year contender. He has maintained his reputation as an all-action star, besting Miguel Roman and Takashi Miura in dominant title defenses. He last fought May 11 in Tucson, Arizona, battering Vargas in their rematch until Vargas retired on his stool following the sixth round. A native of Cancun, Mexico, Berchelt has won 15 consecutive bouts and hopes a win over Sosa will move him closer to a world title unification bout.
Sosa (23-3-4, 16 KOs), from Camden, New Jersey, is in the midst of a career revitalization following a two-bout skid in 2017. Sosa has reeled off three consecutive wins since a controversial decision loss to Yuriorkis Gamboa in November 2017, and he is now ranked in the top 10 by two of the major sanctioning organizations. He last fought August 10 in Philadelphia, knocking out Lydell Rhodes in seven rounds to earn his shot at the title.
November 9: Jamel Herring Set for Ballpark Title Defense Versus Lamont Roach Jr. in Fresno
Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring, the U.S. Marine veteran who upset Masayuki Ito in on Memorial Day weekend to win the WBO junior lightweight title, is set to honor his comrades by returning on Veterans Day weekend.
Herring will make his first title defense against the undefeated Lamont Roach Jr. on Saturday, November 9 at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, home of the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies. This is a return engagement for Herring, who fought at Fresno’s Save Mart Center last September and had more than 1,000 active, retired and aspiring service members in the crowd cheering him on.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Golden Boy, Herring-Roach and a co-feature will stream live beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on ESPN+. The undercard will stream on ESPN+ starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.
“Our camps have gone back and forth, and I’m just ready to get to work,” Herring said. “I have a great team, and Terence Crawford will also be in camp to make sure I’m at my best. Overall, the night means much more than trash-talking, since it’s the weekend of both Veterans Day and the Marine Corps birthday.
“I’m glad to be back in Fresno. I had a huge crowd supporting me last time I fought in the area. I know a victory here will lead to bigger and better things.”
“I know Jamel very well and he knows me,” Roach Jr. said. “I’m super excited, and I’ve been waiting for this moment my entire life. This victory will be only the beginning of my legacy. I’m here for a reason, and I can’t wait to show the world why! I will be the WBO junior lightweight world champion on November 9.”
Herring (20-2, 10 KOs) served two tours of duty with the Marines in Iraq and captained the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team. His pro career stalled with a 1-2 skid from 2016-2017, but after signing with Top Rank and moving down to 130 pounds, he won three straight fights to earn the title shot against Ito. His September 2018 fight against John Vincent Moralde was a particularly special occasion, as dozens of Marines lined the Save Mart Center walkway as Herring made his entrance. He shut out Moralde as the ESPN-televised co-feature, and now he returns to California’s Central Valley ready to put on a clinic under the lights.
Roach (19-0-1, 7 KOs) is one of the best young fighters to emerge from the boxing hotbed of Washington, D.C. in recent years. His only hiccup as a pro — an April 2018 draw against Orlando Cruz in Cruz’s home country of Puerto Rico — was a minor speed bump in what has been an otherwise sterling run up the ranks. He is 3-0 since the Cruz fight, winning a pair of regional belts and putting forth his best performances on high-profile cards. He last fought May 4 on the Canelo Alvarez-Danny Jacobs undercard in Las Vegas, scoring a 10-round unanimous decision over former world title challenger Jonathan Oquendo. Roach is trained by his father, Lamont Roach Sr., who has been the head man in his corner for his past five bouts.