Photos: Teofimo Lopez’s media workout

Former lightweight king Teofimo Lopez hopes to conquer a second weight class. That journey begins Saturday against Pedro Campa in the 10-round junior welterweight main event at the Resorts World Event Center at Resorts World Las Vegas.

In the eight-round co-feature, unbeaten Puerto Rican junior middleweight standout Xander Zayas takes on Elias Espadas. Lopez-Campa and Zayas-Espadas will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

The undercard — streaming live and exclusively on ESPN+ — includes the return of Las Vegas-born junior lightweight contender Andres Cortes against the bruising Abraham Montoya.

Lopez kicked off fight week Wednesday with a media workout at the Top Rank Gym.

Lopez (16-1, 12 KOs), whose run up the lightweight ranks included a legacy-defining victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko, went through the paces for more than 30 minutes. He hit the mitts with his father/trainer, Teofimo Lopez Sr., and even conducted an impromptu pushup session in the middle of the ring. Following last November’s split decision loss to George Kambosos Jr., he sets his sights on Campa (34-1-1, 23 KOs), an accomplished veteran who is 7-0-1 since the lone defeat on his ledger.

Photos below:

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Conlan cruises to unanimous decision win over Marriaga 

 Michael “Mick” Conlan returned home to Belfast and got back on the winning track. Conlan, who lost a featherweight title bid in March, defeated Miguel Marriaga by unanimous decision in the 10-round featherweight main event Saturday at The SSE Arena.

Conlan (17-1, 8 KOs) prevailed by scores of 99-88 2x and 99-89, securing knockdowns in the seventh, eighth, and ninth rounds. Marriaga (30-6, 26 KOs), a three-time world title challenger, dropped to 1-3 in his last four fights but showed a flourish of his vaunted power. In the 10th round, he buckled Conlan, and there were anxious moments for both men navigating the slippery canvas.

Conlan got the result the packed house came to see. He then called for a rematch with Leigh Wood, the WBA champion who scored a come-from-behind 12th-round knockout in a modern boxing classic.

Conlan said, “I had to get rid of a lot of demons tonight. Even in the fuc*ing last round, he hit me with a shot. That guy can punch. {He has} 10 more knockouts than I have fights. He hit me with a jab in the first round, and it was like, ‘Oh, this guy actually can bang.’ I had to be careful and use my skills, which I did. In the last round, he caught me with a shot. Listen, I’ve been using my legs all night. I was a bit off the pace. He was pushing it. He landed a good shot. He buckled me a little bit. I felt it, and for me, to kind of come through that and it’s the last round… I got knocked out in my last fight in the last round. I think that says a lot. I’m back, baby. I’m ready for any of them.

“Obviously, I want Leigh Wood. It’s obvious, but Leigh has his own situation. So, hopefully he can deal with that and come through and the rematch can be done. If not, it’s any other champion. I want to get back in. I will be world champion, and I know I will. Whoever I face, I know I’ll beat him.”

In other action:

Welterweight: Tyrone McKenna (23-3-1, 6 KOs) UD 10 Chris Jenkins (23-6-3, 8 KOs), Scores: 96-95 2x and 97-94. Jenkins, a former British and Commonwealth welterweight champion, appeared to do enough to earn the victory, but the three judges ruled in favor of Belfast native McKenna. It was a battle of Jenkins’ steady pressure against southpaw volume McKenna, and the two waged a phone booth affair. McKenna recovered from a barrage of body blows to have counterpunching success in the ninth and 10th rounds.

Junior Middleweight: Kieran Molloy (2-0, 2 KOs) TKO 2 Evgenii Vazem (9-36, 7 KOs), 1:23. Molloy, from Galway, Ireland, shined in pro bout number two with a devastating performance over Vazem. Early in the second, a four-punch combination, punctuated by a right hook to the body, put Vazem down for the count.

Molloy said, “I fit right in here. I’m an entertainer. I’m a good fighter, and I proved tonight that I’m a good boxer as well. I didn’t even look for that shot. I just landed that uppercut a few times. His elbows were coming up, and it was a nice, sinking body shot, so I just took it.”

Super Middleweight: Padraig McCrory (14-0, 8 KOs) TKO 5 Marco Antonio Periban (26-6-1, 17 KOs), 2:14. McCory moved his knockout streak to four with a one-sided drubbing over the former world title challenger. Periban was dropped three times in the fifth round, the final blows coming courtesy of a quick-trigger combination that knocked him into a neutral corner. The referee waved off the fight, and McCrory secured the second defense of his WBC International Silver belt.

Featherweight: Kurt Walker (3-0, 1 KO) PTS 6 Marcos Gabriel Martinez (18-4, 5 KOs), Score: 59-55. Walker, a 2020 Tokyo Olympian, stepped up in class and used his superior lateral movement and combination punching to stymie Argentina’s Martinez. Walker, who is signed to Top Rank, turned pro earlier this year and hopes to take the express lane to title contention at 27 years old.

Welterweight: Paddy Donovan (9-0, 6 KOs) PTS 8 Tom Hill (10-3, 2 KOs), Score: 80-72. The Irish southpaw sensation returned from injury — and a nearly six-month layoff — to shut out Hill. It was the first scheduled eight-rounder for Donovan, a 23-year-old who is trained and managed by former middleweight world champion Andy Lee.

Donovan said, “It’s very important to get the rounds in. Tommy is a very, very tough fighter. We knew that before. He hopped in the ring before he accepted the challenge. He’s beat the Irish number one welterweight, knocking him down twice in the fight, so we know what he’s capable of.”

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images

Lopez: ‘I will be a two-weight world champion very soon’

 The Takeover 2.0 is 10 days away. Teofimo Lopez (16-1, 12 KOs), the former unified and lineal lightweight champion, will make his junior welterweight debut against Mexican veteran Pedro Campa (34-1-1, 23 KOs) on Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Resorts World Event Center at Resorts World Las Vegas.

Lopez is back following last November’s split decision shocker to George Kambosos Jr., which knocked him from the top of the lightweight heap. The Brooklyn native is training in New Jersey for Campa, a 30-year-old puncher who is unbeaten in eight fights dating back to 2017.

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images)

Following a recent training session, this is what Lopez had to say about his ESPN-televised return.

“The Takeover is back! I took over the lightweight division, and I plan on doing the same at junior welterweight. Pedro Campa is a tough opponent with an aggressive Mexican style, and I can’t wait to put on a show for the fans.”

“Every person goes through challenges, but I’ve put the past behind me and am thrilled to be back fighting on ESPN and in Las Vegas. I am calling this fight the ‘Take Back’ because I am coming to regain what I’ve lost. One defeat does not define a fighter, and it won’t define me.”

“I had been fighting at lightweight since I was a teenager, and it was time to move up. I am going to be an even better, more explosive fighter. You will see that on August 13.”

“I am only 25 years old. My best years are in front of me. Pedro Campa is the start of a new chapter in my career. I will be a two-weight world champion very soon. Every contender and champion at junior welterweight better watch out because I am coming to clean out the division.”

Whyte on fight with Fury: ‘I just need to go in there and do my thing’

The drama surrounding whether Dillian Whyte would show up for Wednesday’s press conference was much ado about nothing. The WBC Interim heavyweight champion arrived on time, and he and WBC/Lineal/Ring Magazine heavyweight champion Tyson Fury exchanged more pleasantries than trash talk three days out from their showdown at Wembley Stadium (ESPN+ PPV, 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT).

Fury will defend his crown on the world-famous football pitch Saturday in front of a UK-record crowd of approximately 94,000.

This is what Fury and Whyte had to say:

Tyson Fury

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

“We’ve had a great preparation. There are never any complaints from me. We always do what we can do in training camps and do the best that we can do on the night. I’m sure Dillian Whyte’s had a great training camp as well. He’s a good fighting man. The fans are in for a real treat. I know Dillian. I know him personally, and he knows me. And we’re going to rock n’ roll on fight night. We’re ready to throw down and treat us all to a hell of a barnstorm.”

“It’s been an amazing journey. From where I started all those years ago to the ups and downs and being away from boxing and being fat as f**k, 28 stone. To coming back and being mentally out, a druggie and an alcoholic—all of the rest of the stuff—I’m not ashamed of it. It’s a part of who I am. To coming back and getting back to the top of the world and having three big fights with Deontay Wilder over there in the U.S., and now being back in England after all these years, four years away, and now I’m fighting my old pal Dillian Whyte back at home for all the glory and all the belts. Who would have thought it? We’re looking forward to an awesome, memorable night. This will break all records.”

“Dillian Whyte is a good fighter. He is a good, strong, solid man. He’s big. He’s strong. He’s tough. He’s game. He’s got good power. He’s knocked out a lot of men. He’s had a good learning career as well. He’s got a lot of experience in the fight game. He’s definitely a man that needs a lot of respect. And that’s why I’ve given all this training camp we’ve had. I’ve had everything I can possibly do to train for this. I’ve haven’t left any stones unturned. I’ve trained as hard for Dillian as I have for Wilder or Klitschko

Dillian Whyte

“It means everything to me to be fighting in my home country, and especially because it’s for the world title at Wembley. It’s not too far from where I’m from. It means everything. It’s massive. It’s a moment I’ve been waiting for. It’s a big fight. Like Tyson said, we didn’t expect to be here. But I’m here, but I’ve taken risks time and time again. I’ve had a couple slipups along the way, but I’m here and I’m ready to go. You won’t hear any bullsh*t from me. I’m ready to go.”

On Not Showing Up to Promotional Events:

“There was no strategy. There are two sides to his story. You only hear one side of the story because one side says a lot of things. Because I didn’t say anything, everyone was saying ‘you’re scared’ and ‘you’re hiding.’ I ain’t scared of sh*t. I ain’t hiding from sh*t. Stuff needed to get done. Obviously, the fight was signed.  But there were other things behind the scenes that needed to get signed. Me and Frank got together. Credit due to him as me and my team were trying to pick up the phone for a long time to get stuff done.”

“This is one of those fights where I’ve been working on being adaptable. I’m going to have to adapt, make smart decisions, when I need to do what and how I need to do it, and how I need to approach what I’m doing. So that’s it. There’s no strategy here. That’s it. I just need to go in there and do my thing.”

Smith Jr., Geffrard talks Saturday night’s showdown

Steve Geffrard wasn’t supposed to be here. Last Friday, he was preparing to weigh in for a fight in Delray Beach, Florida, when he received a call. WBO light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr. needed an opponent after British puncher Callum Johnson contracted COVID-19.

Geffrard answered the call and will fight Smith this Saturday evening at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT). 

Geffrard (18-2, 12 KOs), a South Florida native and former U.S. amateur standout, was 0-2 before rattling off 18 consecutive victories. Smith (27-3, 21 KOs) defeated Maxim Vlasov last April and will finally defend his title after a COVID-19 diagnosis delayed his return.

In the 10-round co-feature, featherweight contender Abraham Nova (20-0, 14 KOs) will look to extend his unbeaten record against 2012 Dominican Olympian William Encarnacion (19-1, 15 KOs).

The undercard will stream live on ESPN+ (7:45 p.m. ET/4:45 p.m. PT) and includes rising Puerto Rican star Omar Rosario (5-0, 2 KOs), 18-year-old welterweight Jahi Tucker (5-0, 3 KOs), and recent U.S. Olympian Troy Isley (3-0, 2 KOs) in separate bouts.

At Thursday’s press conference, this is what Smith and Geffrard had to say.

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

Joe Smith Jr.:

“I can’t wait to be on ESPN this Saturday defending my world title in front of the whole world. I’m extremely happy to be here. There were a couple of moments where I thought I wasn’t going to be here. I can’t wait! Thanks to everyone that made this happen.” 
 
“Since I became a world champion, the only thing that has really changed for me is that I’m holding this title, and I want to keep it that way.” 
 
“Geffrard has been inside the ring training with the best. I’m sure he is going to give it his all and will try to take full advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity.” 

Steve Geffrard:

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


“When those belts are on the line, that mental switch turns on. I know that mentally and skill-wise I can battle with the best. I have sparred with, and handled myself very well, against the best of the division.”
 
“I’m a fighter, especially with an opportunity like this. I’m going to rise to the occasion. I’ll show the world who Steve Geffrard is.” 
 
“I was in the sauna when I got the call for this fight. I was looking forward to Smith vs. Johnson, but now I’m the one fighting for the title. It’s surreal.”

Ramirez-Pedraza rescheduled for March 4

The homecoming of former unified junior welterweight world champion Jose Ramirez is happening, just 27 days later than expected. Central Valley native Ramirez will fight former two-weight world champion Jose “Sniper” Pedraza in the 12-round main event Friday, March 4 at Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.

Ramirez and Pedraza were scheduled to fight Saturday, Feb. 5, but Pedraza tested positive for COVID-19.

In the six-round heavyweight special feature immediately before the main event, Olympic silver medalist Richard Torrez Jr., from the Central Valley town of Tulare, California, will make his long-awaited professional debut. The 10-round co-feature will see the Top Rank debut of featherweight contender Joet Gonzalez, who will fight Filipino veteran Jeo Santisima. The entire Ramirez-Pedraza card will stream live and exclusively in the United States on ESPN+.

Mayer defeats Hamadouche by unanimous decision in an action-packed fight

 Two of the best female boxers on the planet put forth a duel worthy of the main event platform. WBO junior lightweight world champion Mikaela Mayer (16-0, 5 KOs) defeated IBF champion Maiva Hamadouche (22-2, 18 KOs) by unanimous decision to unify titles Friday evening at The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

The scorecards — 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92 — did not do Hamadouche’s effort justice. Hamadouche, who had been champion for five years and six title defenses, landed 233 of 872 punches. Mayer was more accurate, landing 239 of 594 blows.

“{I showed} I could bang it out on the inside. That wasn’t really the entire game plan,” Mayer said. “The game plan was to use my jab, but in the back of my head, I knew she was going to keep it close, keep me on the inside. Even though we trained for that, just being able to do that for 10 straight rounds taught me a lot.
 
“This is everything I trained for. It really hasn’t even sunk in, but I’m proud of what I did. I’m proud of my team. We’re going to celebrate this one, for sure.”

Added Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, “This was a sensational fight, one of the best fights of the year, male or female. These two ladies are a credit to the sport, and they left it all in the ring. It was a close fight, but I felt Mikaela did more than enough to have her hand raised.”

With the victory, Mayer now sets her sights on the undisputed crown.
 
Mayer said, “I really wanted to show everyone in the division and the naysayers that I didn’t have the power and the grit to stay in there for 10 rounds with Hamadouche that I am the best in the division. I am coming to be undisputed, and I want the big fights. I’m definitely a threat.”

In other action:

Puerto Rican upstart Luis Melendez (17-1, 13 KOs) notched the biggest win of his career, edging Cleveland native Thomas Mattice (17-3-1, 13 KOs) by unanimous decision in an eight-round junior lightweight tilt. All three judges scored the fight 77-75 for Melendez, who built an early lead and held off Mattice’s late rally. Mattice landed 37 more punches over the second half of the fight (81-44).

Abdullah Mason (1-0, 1 KO), the 17-year-old southpaw lightweight prodigy from Cleveland, had an eye-opening professional debut, knocking out Jaylan Phillips (1-1, 1 KO) in the second round. Mason had Phillips pinned against the ropes and unloaded with a series of crosses. Phillips’ knees buckled, and that was enough for referee Robert Hoyle to step in and prevent further carnage.

Las Vegas native Andres “Savage” Cortes (16-0, 9 KOs) had a fitting homecoming, knocking out Filipino veteran Mark Bernaldez (23-5, 17 KOs) in the third round of a junior lightweight bout. Cortes snapped Bernaldez’s head back with a few crisp right hands, prompting referee Allen Huggins to step in. Bernaldez protested the stoppage, his first knockout defeat in more than three years.

Middleweight Ian Green (15-2, 11 KOs) upset the previously undefeated Tyler Howard (19-1, 11 KOs) by a near-shutout eight-round unanimous decision (79-72 2x and 80-71). Howard had a point deducted in the fourth round for a shot after the bell, and it didn’t get much better for him in the second half of the fight.

Rowdy Legend Montgomery (7-3-1, 5 KOs) lived up to his middle name. The Southern California super middleweight opened the card with a one-punch knockout over Martez McGregor (8-6, 6 KOs) in the third round.

Photo: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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

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.”