O’Shaquie Foster signs promotional contract with Top Rank

WBC junior lightweight world champion O’Shaquie Foster has signed a multi-fight promotional contract with Top Rank, the promotional company announced on Wednesday.

A native of Orange, Texas, who trains out of Houston, Foster will make his Top Rank on ESPN debut in early 2024.

“O’Shaquie Foster is a supremely talented champion in the prime of his career,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “We are thrilled to welcome him to Top Rank, and I eagerly await his next world title defense.”

“I’m excited to be part of the Top Rank and ESPN family,” Foster said. “Top Rank has shaped the careers of many of the greatest fighters whom I look up to even to this day, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to fight on ESPN. I can’t wait to step into the ring and show that I am the best fighter in the world.”

Foster (21-2, 12 KOs) went 8-0 in his first three years in the paid ranks before losing a pair of close decisions in a four-fight span. After nearly 18 months out of the ring, Foster returned a changed fighter and resurrected his career with the help of Mills and head trainer Bobby Benton. Foster has reeled off 11 straight wins, a run that gained momentum following his nationally televised 2018 victory over the previously unbeaten Jon Fernandez.

In February, Foster fought Rey Vargas for the vacant WBC world title and entered the fight as the betting underdog. Foster dominated the championship rounds and won a unanimous decision. Title defense number one came last month in Cancun, Mexico, and Foster had to turn back the fierce challenge of Eduardo “Rocky” Hernandez. The 11th round was a Round of the Year-type stanza that saw Foster stagger Hernandez on multiple occasions. Trailing on two of the three judges’ cards entering the 12th, Foster dropped Hernandez twice to secure the stoppage with 22 seconds remaining.

Jonas-Mayer set for January 20 in Liverpool

Two-weight world champion Natasha Jonas will defend her IBF welterweight world title against former unified world champion Mikaela Mayer in a landmark night for women’s boxing as two of the sport’s biggest stars meet on Saturday, Jan. 20 at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England, live on ESPN+ in the U.S. and Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland.

Jonas (14-2-1, 9 KOs) will be making the first defense of the IBF crown she claimed with an emphatic stoppage win over Canadian Kandi Wyatt earlier this year, having previously unified the WBC, WBO and IBF junior middleweight world titles.

Standing in the opposite corner will be U.S. star Mayer (19-1, 5 KOs), a fellow Olympian and the former IBF, WBO, and Ring Magazine junior lightweight world champion. The Los Angeles native was one of the stars of BOXXER’s historic women’s night last year, and after capturing the WBC interim lightweight world title earlier this year, Mayer will be moving up in weight once again.

Newly crowned British champion Jack Cullen also returns to action in Liverpool, defending his Lonsdale strap against former foe Zak Chelli. Cullen (22-4-1, 10 KOs) scored a memorable third-round TKO win over Mark Heffron in September to claim the British and Commonwealth titles. ‘Little Leaver’s Meat Cleaver’ will now square off against former English Champion Chelli (14-2-1, 7 KOs) in a repeat of their all-action 2020 contest that ended in a draw.

“I’m so excited to be fighting back in Liverpool in my first headline show and in the biggest fight of my career so far,” Jonas said. “It’s my fifth world title fight with BOXXER, in my backyard, and I’m ready for it. It’s Mikaela Mayer, she stretches above and beyond the UK shores. ‘Miss GB’ versus ‘Miss USA’ and may the best woman win!”

Mayer said, “These are the types of matchups boxing needs. I am feeling better than ever at my new weight and confident that 2024 is when I take it all back.”

De Los Santos: ‘A victory over (Shakur)Stevenson would go down as one of the greatest in the history of Dominican boxing’

Dominican slugger Edwin De Los Santos is ready for his first world title opportunity.

The 24-year-old southpaw will face pound-for-pound star Shakur Stevenson for the vacant WBC lightweight world title on Thursday, Nov. 16 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

In the world championship co-feature, Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete defends his WBO junior lightweight strap against Brazilian Olympic gold medalist Robson Conceição.

Stevenson-De Los Santos and Navarrete-Conceição will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT.

De Los Santos (16-1, 14 KOs) debuted in the pro ranks in 2018 and notched his first 13 victories in his home country. In his U.S. debut, he suffered a razor-thin split decision loss to William Foster III. He hasn’t lost a fight since. In 2022, he took two unbeaten records, knocking out Luis Acosta with a left hand in the second round and dropping Jose Valenzuela twice before stopping him in round three. In July, De Los Santos dominated Joseph Adorno over 10 rounds  Stevenson (20-0, 10 KOs) seeks to become a three-division world champion following a sixth-round stoppage win over Japanese contender Shuichiro Yoshino in April.

Following a recent training session, this is what De Los Santos had to say:

“This is the most difficult and important challenge of my career. Winning this fight will change my life forever. I know Shakur is a great champion, and I understand I will need my entire arsenal to defeat him. It is a huge challenge, but not impossible.”

“I am extremely focused on being crowned world champion and giving a world title to the Dominican Republic. A victory over Shakur would go down as one of the greatest in the history of Dominican boxing. That motivates me much more.”

Photo:  Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Lopez defeats Gonzalez by UD, Zayas impresses

Luis Alberto “El Venado” Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs) successfully defended his IBF Featherweight by defeating Joet Gonzalez (26-4, 15 KOs) by unanimous decision at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas on Friday night. 

Lopez retained his belt with scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112.

In the opening round, Gonzalez pressured Lopez with punches to the body. By rounds three and four, though, Lopez found his distance and began using his legs to set up shots from the outside.
Gonzalez’s high guard made it difficult for Lopez to connect with his signature leaping punches, but occasional counterpunches on the inside kept Gonzalez from gaining momentum. 
Lopez seemed to fade in the later rounds, and with a sense of urgency, Gonzalez began pressuring Lopez as he did in the opening round.

Photos: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

However, it wasn’t enough as Lopez got the nod on the scorecards.

“We knew that Joet Gonzalez is a very dangerous fighter,” Lopez said. “He never stops attacking. He can take anything you throw at him. We knew that’s what he came to do and that he came with a lot of hunger to take the title away from me, but I also am very hungry to remain champion.”

Gonzalez thought the scorecards should have been closer.

“I thought the scores should have been a little closer,” Gonzalez said. “Overall, I am very disappointed in my performance. I felt that I could have done a lot better. By far, this is the worst performance of my title fights.”

Zayas continues to impress!!

Puerto Rican junior middleweight phenom Xander Zayas (17-0, 10 KOs) scored a fifth-round TKO victory against hard-hitting Mexican Roberto Valenzuela Jr. (21-5, 20 KOs) in tonight’s co-feature.

Zayas dropped Valenzuela with a hard jab in the opening round. Valenzuela got back up, only to suffer another knockdown before the round ended. In rounds two and three, Zayas worked off his back foot, landing quick combos from the outside. A left hand in round three caused a cut on Valenzuela’s nose.

The cut bled profusely, but referee Mark Nelson allowed Valenzuela to continue fighting. However, Zayas continued landing vicious punches to Valenzuela’s nose, forcing Nelson to halt the contest at :42 of the fifth round.

“I didn’t think he was going to stop bleeding from his nose,” Zayas said. “When I went to my corner, I told my dad {assistant trainer Orlando Garcia} that his nose was really bad. So, we knew that it was a matter of time.

“I came here to accomplish a goal. I came here to let everybody know at 154 pounds that I’m coming for everything. They said he was a power puncher, and I dominated tonight. I’m a contender now at 154 pounds. Whenever Top Rank gives me the opportunity, I’ll be ready for a world title. All my respect to Roberto. He was a warrior like I knew he was going to be.”

In other action:

Unbeaten lightweight sensation Emiliano Fernando Vargas (7-0, 6 KOs) made his ESPN-televised debut with a spectacular third-round TKO win against Alejandro Guardado (5-1, 1 KO). 

In the opening round, Vargas calmly evaded shots with quick head movement before sneaking uppercuts through Guardado’s guard. He pressured Guardado in the second round, but Guardado responded with offense of his own.

Vargas then landed a counter left hook in the third round that initiated a flurry that forced referee Lee Rogers to end the fight at 1:07.

Vargas said, “We’re just going to work in there. It’s a beautiful thing to be here with all my beautiful Mexican fans. I love what I do. I get up early in the morning and it’s not work. I can’t wait to be back.”

Welterweight: In an all-Mexican showdown, Julio Luna (21-1-2, 11 KOs) toppled Omar Aguilar (25-2, 24 KOs) to capture the vacant WBC USA welterweight title. Aguilar was aggressive early, but Luna’s distance made it hard for him to land cleanly. In the fourth, Aguilar found success on the inside, but Luna overcame the onslaught with longer punches. Scores: 79-73, 78-74, and 77-75.

Welterweight: John Rincon (8-0, 2 KOs) beat Bryan Ismael Rodriguez Rivera (4-2-1, 2 KOs) via unanimous decision in front of a hometown crowd. The bout was a cautious affair, but Rincon pulled away with effective aggression. Scores: 60-54 2x and 58-56.

Junior Welterweight: Jamaine Ortiz (17-1-1, 8 KOs) overcame an almost one-year layoff to defeat Antonio Moran (29-6-1, 20 KOs) via unanimous decision. Moran hurt Ortiz early, but Ortiz got his rhythm by the middle rounds and wobbled Moran in the sixth round. A game Moran was aggressive in the later rounds, but it was not enough to overcome Ortiz’s quick counterpunching. Ortiz was coming off last October’s valiant stand against Vasiliy Lomachenko. Scores: 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93.

Featherweight: Former world title challenger Ruben Villa IV (21-1, 7 KOs) tallied a workmanlike eight-round unanimous decision against Brandon Valdes (15-4, 7 KOs). Valdes started strong by finding a home for his right uppercut. Villa, however, figured him out and out-landed the Colombian in nearly every exchange. Scores: 78-74 3x.

Junior Welterweight: U.S. Olympian Tiger Johnson (10-0, 5 KOs) scored a majority decision victory against Ricardo Quiroz (13-3, 7 KOs). Scores: 76-76 and 79-73 2x.  

Heavyweight prospect Brandon Moore signs with Top Rank

Top Rank has signed undefeated heavyweight prospect Brandon Moore to a multi-year promotional agreement. The 6’6 boxer-puncher, who hails from Lakeland, Florida, will make his Top Rank debut later this year.

Th 29-year-old former U.S. amateur standout turned pro in February 2020 and has knocked out four of his last five opponents.

“Brandon Moore has all the physical tools to develop into a top heavyweight,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “The heavyweight division is loaded with talent, and I believe Brandon will be squarely in the world title mix before long.”

Moore said, “I’m extremely blessed to have signed with Top Rank. My career has been a roller coaster ride. I wasn’t an Olympian coming out of the amateurs. I had to put in the work to get to where I am. After almost four years in the pro game, I am finally seeing the fruits of my labor. I can’t wait to make my Top Rank debut and show the fans what I’m all about.”

“I feel like the heavyweight division is ready for some fresh faces, and Top Rank is the biggest and best promotional platform for Brandon to showcase his talents,” said Ryan Rickey, Moore’s manager. “We look forward to a long-term working relationship.”

Moore (12-0, 8 KOs) returned from a nearly 15-month layoff in June to knock out Elijah McCall, son of former heavyweight world champion Oliver McCall, in the second round. He fought six times in 2021, including a fourth-round stoppage over Mexican veteran Elvis Garcia and a six-round decision over renowned journeyman Terrell Jamal Woods. Moore has gained invaluable experience in the gym sparring the likes of WBC/Lineal heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury, former world champion Deontay Wilder, Luis Ortiz and British Olympic bronze medalist Frazer Clarke. Outside the ring, Moore was a collegiate basketball standout at Southeastern University and was named The Sun Conference Freshmen of the Year in 2013. His younger brother, Shaq Moore, currently plays for Major League Soccer’s Nashville SC and is a member of the United States men’s national soccer team.

Zayas is looking to impress in first 10-round fight

Junior middleweight phenom Xander Zayas is gearing up for his first scheduled 10-rounder.

Zayas will return against Mexico’s Roberto Valenzuela Jr. in the co-feature to the IBF featherweight world title showdown between reigning champion Luis Alberto “El Venado” Lopez and Joet Gonzalez on Friday, September 15, at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Lopez-Gonzalez, Zayas-Valenzuela, and the return of lightweight sensation Emiliano Fernando Vargas will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

Photo: Top Rank Boxing

Zayas (16-0, 10 KOs) is Puerto Rico’s latest rising superstar. He signed with Top Rank at 16 and has maintained a flawless record. Zayas had an impressive 2022 in which he scored eight-round decision wins over Quincy LaVallais and Alexis Salazar, along with a fifth-round TKO against Elias Espadas. In June, he fought for the first time during Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend, defeating Ronald Cruz via eight-round unanimous decision at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Valenzuela (21-4, 20 KOs) is a six-year pro who has given stiff tests to Alexis Rocha, Souleymane Cissokho and Bakhram Murtazaliev. The 24-year-old Mexican is coming off a third-round TKO victory against Daniel Vega in April.

Following a recent training session in Miami, this is what Zayas had to say:

“As always, I am giving everything in my preparation for this important step in my career on September 15 in Corpus Christi, Texas. I feel great and am prepared to put on a show on such an important date for the Mexican fans, and even more so when it is one of my first battles between Puerto Rico and Mexico. I’m ready for the challenge!”

“I’m excited and focused on getting the job done. It’s been eight weeks of solid work throughout training camp. I know I’m going to be ready for a big fight, as I’ve been sparring alongside the experienced Mexican fighter Juan Macias Montiel, who has faced the big names in the middleweight division. I am sure his style and experience have brought out the best in me, and you will see that on September 15. I will be more than ready to give another great show to the fans in Corpus Christi and everyone watching live on ESPN.”

Navarrete defeats Valdez by unanimous decision in slugfest

We expected a war on Saturday at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona, and that’s precisely what we got.

In an All-Mexican showdown, which was an absolute slugfest, WBO junior lightweight champion Emanuel Navarrete (38-1, 31 KOs) defeated Oscar Valdez (31-2, 23 KOs) by unanimous decision.

The scores for fairly wide(116-112, 118-110, and 119-109), but this fight was much closer.

Navarrete, who injured his right hand, activity level was off the charts. He threw 1,038 punches, an average of 86 punches a round. Ultimately, Navarrete landed 216 punches, while Valdez threw 436 punches, and connected on 140, so Valdez was more accurate, and Navarrete was more active. 

“There was some inflammation in my right hand,” Navarrete said after the fight. “And the more I used it, the more it hurt. But I had to overcome it.”

As the fight continued, Valdez’s right eye swelled badly and looked terrible at night’s end. In the 10th, Navarrete and Valdez were in a phone booth and went toe-to-toe. However, when the night ended, Navarrete got the better of the action.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – AUGUST 12: Emanuel Navarrete (L) and Oscar Valdez (R) exchange punches during their WBO junior lightweight championship fight at Desert Diamond Arena on August 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

According to the 28-year-old Navarrete, he’s happy that the fight lived up to the hype.

“I feel happy to have been part of this card and of this next great chapter of Mexican boxing history,” Navarrete said. “I am happy and appreciate Oscar for the great fight that we delivered.

“I think the people can best talk about what they saw. They saw the fight tonight. I was here fighting with Valdez. And I feel good. Thank God, I won. I appreciate what he did in the ring. He is a Mexican warrior. If the people want a rematch, they will demand it.”

The 32-year-old Valdez said he did all he could to defeat Navarrete.

“He is a warrior,” Valdez said. “I tried my best. We gave it our best. He is a warrior. He is a true champion. I’m sorry I disappointed everyone. I feel terrible. I wanted to give you all a great fight. I hope you enjoyed the fight. I hope to return strong.”

This fight lived up to the hype and then some. 

In other action:

Rising junior welterweight contender Lindolfo Delgado (18-0, 13 KOs) scored a one-sided 10-round unanimous decision victory against Jair Valtierra (16-3, 8 KOs) in tonight’s co-feature.

Both boxed cautiously and evaded combinations with head movement and footwork. However, Delgado was move active with his output, landing combinations as well as counter hooks to the body.

Delgado remained undefeated with scores of 98-92 and 99-91 2x.

Torrez Jr. scores First-Round KO

U.S. Olympic silver medalist Richard Torrez Jr. (6-0, 6 KOs) needed less than one round to knock out Willie Jake Jr. (11-4-2, 3 KOs) in tonight’s televised opener. Jake lunged forward with wide shots, but Torrez was able to time his counterattack and land a right hook that sent Jake face-first to the canvas.
Jake rose to his feet, but the damage had been done. Torrez swarmed him with heavy shots, and referee Robert Hoyle stopped the contest at 1:22.
Torrez said, “It’s great to be back in the ring after so much time off. There are still things we need to work on, and I know that. We’re going back to the gym tomorrow.
“It’s up to my team to decide when my next fight is. They tell me to jump, and I say, ‘How high?’ I’m just excited to follow the process.”

Lightweight: Emiliano Fernando Vargas (6-0, 5 KOs) defeated Jorge Luis Marquez Alvarado (3-6-1, 2 KOs) via second-round TKO. Alvarado lunged towards Vargas, who responded with left hooks. After finding his rhythm, Vargas began teeing off on Alvarado, dropping him twice before finishing the bout. Time of stoppage: 2:17.

Heavyweight: Southpaw Antonio Mireles (8-0, 7 KOs) scored a hard-earned sixth-round stoppage victory against Dajuan Calloway (7-3, 7 KOs). After an impressive start from Calloway, Mireles began to take control of the fight with his jab. In the sixth, a prolonged assault from Mireles forced referee Wes Melton to stop the fight. Time of stoppage: 1:38.

Middleweight: In an all-Phoenix battle, Sergio Rodriguez (8-0-1, 7 KOs) blasted out Eduardo Ayala (9-4-1, 3 KOs) via second-round knockout. Rodriguez landed an overhand right that sent Ayala to the canvas. Ayala rose to his feet on wobbly legs, but a quick flurry from Rodriguez forced the referee to end the contest. Time of stoppage: 1:02.

Junior Welterweight: Southern California product Ricardo Ruvalcaba (10-0-1, 9 KOs) defeated Adrian Orban (6-4, 4 KOs) via second-round TKO. Ruvalcaba dropped Obran with a hook to the body in the first round and dropped him twice with more body shots in the second round to end the fight. Time of stoppage: 1:11.

Muratalla withdraws from fight against Torres due to injury

Lightweight contender Raymond Muratalla suffered a training injury and has been forced to withdraw from his ESPN-televised co-feature this Saturday, Aug. 12, against fellow unbeaten Diego Torres at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.

The 10-round junior welterweight tilt between rising contender Lindolfo Delgado and Jair Valtierra is the new co-feature and will be televised directly before the WBO junior lightweight world title showdown between reigning champion Emanuel Navarrete and former two-weight world champion Oscar Valdez.

Navarrete-Valdez, Delgado-Valtierra, and the heavyweight showdown between Richard Torrez Jr. and Willie Jake Jr. will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

Delgado (17-0, 13, KOs) represented Mexico at the 2016 Rio Olympics and won his first 11 bouts by stoppage. He made his Top Rank debut in June 2021 and outlasted then-unbeaten puncher Omar Aguilar by decision last August in a 2022 Fight of the Year contender. Delgado fought at Desert Diamond Arena in February, knocking down veteran Clarence Booth en route to a one-sided decision victory. Valtierra (16-2, 8 KOs), from Leon, Mexico, lost an eight-round decision to Muratalla last July. He returned in February against the unbeaten Nestor Bravo, and the bout was ruled a no contest in the fourth round after a head clash opened a cut near Bravo’s right eye.

Beterbiev-Smith set for January 13

WBC/WBO/IBF light heavyweight king Artur Beterbiev now has a date to defend his crown. After recent dental surgery forced Beterbiev to postpone his Aug. 19 title defense against former world champion Callum Smith, the two will now meet Saturday, Jan. 13 at Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada.

Beterbiev’s title defense against Smith—originally scheduled for Saturday, August 19, was postponed due to a bone infection to Beterbiev’s jaw. He underwent surgery in July.

 “It’s a few months later than originally planned, but I am thrilled that Artur Beterbiev will have a chance to defend his titles in front of the incredible Quebec City fans,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Artur has a clean bill of health, and I know Callum, a supremely talented former champion, will be at his best on January 13th.”

Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs), boxing’s only current world champion with a 100 percent knockout ratio, has made seven title defenses since capturing the IBF strap in November 2017.

He is coming off January’s stirring eighth-round TKO over Anthony Yarde in Yarde’s hometown of London. Smith (29-1, 21 KOs), from Liverpool, England, is the former Ring Magazine and WBA super middleweight world champion. He has won two fights since moving up to light heavyweight following a decision defeat to Canelo Alvarez in December 2020.

Navarrete on Valdez: ‘He says he’s going to knock my head off, but let’s see whose head comes off first’

 Three-division world champion Emanuel “Vaquero”  Navarrete is ready for an all-Mexican war. 
Navarrete puts his WBO junior lightweight world title on the line against former two-division world champion Oscar Valdez on Saturday, August 12, at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Navarrete-Valdez, Raymond Muratalla-Diego Torres and Richard Torrez Jr.-Willie Jake Jr. will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Navarrete (37-1, 31 KOs), the fighting pride of San Juan Zitlaltepec, captured the WBO junior featherweight world title by defeating Isaac Dogboe in December 2018. After five defenses, he moved up to featherweight and defeated Ruben Villa for the vacant WBO title in October 2020. The 28-year-old defended his crown against Christopher Diaz, Joet Gonzalez, and Eduardo Baez. In February, he became a three-division world champion with a ninth-round knockout victory over Liam Wilson.

Valdez (31-1, 23 KOs), from Nogales, represented Mexico at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. The 32-year-old captured his first world title in July 2016 with a second-round stoppage win over Matias Rueda. In February 2021, he became a two-division world champion with a 10th-round knockout against Miguel Berchelt. Valdez suffered his first loss to Shakur Stevenson in April 2022 and is coming off a unanimous decision victory against Adam Lopez in May.

Courtesy: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
After a recent training session at The BXNG Club in San Diego, this is what Navarrete said:
“The training camp has been intense. The preparation was very tough. Fortunately, we were able to carry it out quite well. I had always done things in a conventional way, but now we have included a physical trainer, Francisco Javier Orozco. This fight with Valdez merited that change, and I will come into this fight much better physically.”

“Winning this fight would boost my career significantly. Personally, I would feel complete. What has been missing in my career is precisely a victory against someone like Valdez. It would fill me with pride to be part of such an iconic fight between Mexicans and come out victorious.”
“People know that I throw a lot of punches and that I’m always in attractive fights. Now, with Valdez, I believe it will be twice as spectacular. Valdez is a fighter who doesn’t hold back. We always see him moving forward and throwing punches.”
“He says he’s going to knock my head off, but let’s see whose head comes off first. Let’s see what Valdez has to offer, and let’s see how much he can endure and how much I can endure, too.”