Shakur Stevenson to face Franklin Manzanilla on July 13 in Newark

Newark native Shakur Stevenson has graduated from co-headliner to center stage performer. Stevenson, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist, will return home for the first time as a professional when he faces former world title challenger Franklin Manzanilla in a 10-round featherweight bout Saturday, July 13 at Prudential Center.

Manzanilla replaces original opponent Hairon Socarras, who dropped out of the fight.

Stevenson-Manzanilla and the 12-round IBF bantamweight eliminator for the No. 2 ranking featuring Joshua Greer Jr. and Nikolai Potapov will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT.

The entire undercard will stream live on ESPN+ — the leading multi-sport streaming service — starting at 7 p.m. ET.

Promoted by Top Rank, tickets priced at $100, $75, $50 and $25 (not including applicable fees) are on sale now and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 and in person at the Prudential Center box office.

“It doesn’t matter who I fight. I am ready to put on a show for my hometown,” Stevenson said. “Newark is going to be out in full force, and I know a victory on July 13 will move me closer to a world title shot, which is my ultimate goal.”

“I fought for a world title against Rey Vargas in my last fight, and I let that opportunity slip away,” Manzanilla said. “Against Shakur, I don’t want that to happen to me again. It will be an honor to be in the ring with an Olympian on such a big stage. I am inspired to give the fans a great show and crash the party.”

Stevenson (11-0, 6 KOs), the WBO No. 1 contender, returned from the 2016 Rio Olympics as one of the sport’s most highly touted prospects. He graduated from prospect to contender status in 2018, knocking out longtime contender Viorel Simion in one round as the ESPN-televised co-feature to the Terence Crawford-Jose Benavidez fight in Omaha, Nebraska. Stevenson shined on the Crawford-Amir Khan pay-per-view undercard April 20 at Madison Square Garden, dominating former world title challenger Christopher Diaz over 10 rounds.

Manzanilla (18-5, 17 KOs) is a Colombian power puncher who made his United States debut earlier this year when he challenged unbeaten WBC super bantamweight champion Vargas. He knocked down Vargas in the second round of a rough-and-tumble fight, ultimately dropping a unanimous decision. Manzanilla owns a 2018 TKO victory over former WBC super bantamweight champion Julio Ceja and has only been knocked out once in the paid ranks.

The ESPN+ undercard will include the following fights:

  • Vijender Singh, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist from India and the only Olympic boxing medalist in his nation’s history, will face Mike Snider (13-5-3, 8 KOs) in an eight-round super middleweight bout. Singh last fought in December 2017 and is hoping to get closer to a world title shot with a strong finish to the year.
  • Joseph “Blessed Hands” Adorno (12-0, 10 KOs), a 20-year-old knockout artist from Allentown, Pennsylvania, will see action in an eight-round lightweight bout against Dominican veteran Adriano Ramirez (10-3, 6 KOs). Adorno has seven first-round knockouts on his ledger.
  • Vito Mielnicki Jr. will become the first New Jersey boxer to turn pro at the age of 17 when he fights in a four-round super welterweight bout against Tamarcus Smith (2-2, 2 KOs). Mielnicki received a special exemption to turn pro from the New Jersey Athletic Control Board.
  • Julian Rodriguez (16-0, 10 KOs), a former amateur sensation from Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, will return from a nearly two-year layoff to fight Hevinson Herrera (24-17-1, 18 KOs) in a six-round super lightweight bout. Before turning pro in September 2013, Rodriguez won a 2013 National Golden Gloves title.
  • Josue “The Prodigy” Vargas (13-1, 8 KOs), from the Bronx, will look to extend his winning streak to eight against Manuel Lopez (14-3-1, 7 KOs) in an eight-round super lightweight fight.
  • John “El Terrible” Bauza (12-0, 5 KOs) the Puerto Rican-born super lightweight prospect who now resides in North Bergen, New Jersey, will face Mexican veteran Angel Sarinana (10-8-2, 4 KOs) in an eight-rounder.

 

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

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Ryan Burnett signs with Top Rank

Top Rank is proud to announce the signing of former unified bantamweight world champion Ryan Burnett to a multi-fight promotional pact in what is the latest collaboration between Top Rank and Burnett’s management group, MTK Global.

Burnett (19-1, 9 KOs) will make his ring return May 17 against Jelbirt Gomera in a 12-rounder for the vacant WBC International super bantamweight title in his hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Burnett vs. Gomera will headline a card that will stream live and exclusively in the United States on ESPN+.

Burnett plans on campaigning as a super bantamweight moving forward and has his sights set on becoming a two-division world champion before the end of the year.

“It is a dream come true to sign with Top Rank,” Burnett said. “I’ve spent years learning and perfecting my craft, becoming world champion and then unified world champion. On May 17, I begin my quest to become world champion again. Teaming up with the biggest players in the game in Top Rank, ESPN and MTK Global will only strengthen my drive and determination to achieve this.

“With these guys behind me, there’s only one way ahead for me, and that’s straight to the top.”

“We’re proud and excited to be part of another huge deal involving Top Rank and ESPN, and this is something Ryan deserves,” said Jamie Conlan, Professional Development Manager, MTK Global. “As the boxing world already knows, Ryan has a special night upcoming when he headlines an #MTKFightNight in his home city of Belfast, live on ESPN+ on May 17. It’s great the partnership won’t stop there. As someone who’s already unified a division, we believe we’re talking about an elite fighter, and elite fighters should fight on elite platforms. This agreement ensures that happens, and once again, MTK Global are delighted to play our role.”

Said Adam Booth, Burnett’s trainer/manager: “I am relieved and excited that on May 17 Ryan will start his journey back to being world champion. It was essential for us to look at the options and which relationships would maximize the opportunity for him to achieve this. That’s why Ryan is now working with Top Rank, MTK Global and ESPN.”

Burnett turned pro in 2013 and won the British bantamweight title in November 2015 with a shutout 12-round unanimous decision over Jason Booth. He captured the IBF bantamweight title on June 10, 2017, with a unanimous win over Lee Haskins. Four months later, he added the WBA super world bantamweight title to his collection, outclassing Zhanat Zhakiyanov over 12 rounds.

Burnett’s world championship run ended last November under freakish circumstances against four-division champion Nonito Donaire, when he suffered a torn oblique while throwing a right hand and was forced to retire on his stool following the fourth round.

Crawford-Khan: ESPN PPV details

The undefeated pound-for-pound king, three-division world champion and reigning WBO welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford will headline the inaugural Top Rank on ESPN pay-per-view broadcast against former unified super lightweight world champion Amir “King” Khan Saturday, April 20 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT from Madison Square Garden.

Crawford vs. Khan will be available via all major cable and satellite providers with a suggested retail price of $59.95 (SD) or $69.95 (HD).

All undercard bouts will air live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, beginning at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT.

Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs), the fighting pride of Omaha, Nebraska, unified all four super lightweight titles in August 2017 and moved up to the welterweight division intent on doing the same. In June 2018, he won the WBO welterweight title with a dominant ninth-round stoppage over Manny Pacquiao conqueror Jeff “The Hornet” Horn. Four months later, in front of a packed hometown house at the CHI Health Center Omaha, he stopped bitter rival Jose Benavidez Jr. in the 12th round.

Khan (33-4, 20 KOs), who captured an Olympic silver medal in 2004 for Great Britain at the age of 17, has long been one of boxing’s most captivating performers. He won his first world title in 2009 and has victories over Marco Antonio Barrera, Zab Judah, Marcos Maidana, Paulie Malignaggi, Luis Collazo and Devon Alexander. He is undefeated as a welterweight and is once again attempting to prove his greatness against boxing’s best.

In other action on the pay-per-view broadcast:

•    Lightweight sensation Teofimo Lopez (12-0, 10 KOs) will face former world title challenger and two-time European lightweight champion Edis Tatli (31-2, 10 KOs) in a 12-round co-feature. Lopez is ranked in the top five by all four major sanctioning organizations and is coming off a savage seventh-round knockout over Diego Magdaleno.

•    In the other co-feature attraction, Shakur Stevenson (10-0, 6 KOs), the 21-year-old featherweight phenom who earned a silver medal for the United States at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will face former world title challenger Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz (24-1, 16 KOs) in a 10-rounder.

•    Felix “El Diamante” Verdejo (24-1, 16 KOs), one of Puerto Rico’s most popular fistic attractions, will fight former interim world champion Bryan Vasquez (37-3, 20 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight duel with potential world title implications.

CRAWFORD vs. KHAN is a 12-round fight for the WBO welterweight championship of the world, presented by Top Rank in association with Matchroom Boxing and Khan Promotions. The event is sponsored by Geico. CRAWFORD vs. KHAN will take place Saturday, April 20, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT at Madison Square Garden, and will be produced by Top Rank and ESPN and distributed live by ESPN Pay-Per-View.

Tyson Fury, Queensberry Promotions agree to co-promotional deal with Top Rank/ESPN

Tyson Fury, one of the world’s most dynamic and popular heavyweight boxers, and Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren are joining forces with Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank. The agreement will mean that Fury will be a headline part of the boxing lineup under the historic, long-term Top Rank on ESPN relationship.

Fury, the undefeated lineal heavyweight champion, will have his bouts co-promoted by Top Rank and Queensberry Promotions. The deal calls for a minimum of two bouts per year in the United States.

You wonder if this will have an impact on Wilder-Fury 2, being that Wilder is with PBC, and Fury is now with Top Rank/ESPN, but I guess, we’ll have to wait and see.

Since announcing the landmark Top Rank on ESPN agreement in 2017, and expanding it in August 2018, the comprehensive alliance has showcased blockbuster Top Rank fights and content across ESPN networks and ESPN+, the multi-sport, direct-to-consumer streaming service in the U.S.

All the parties will work closely to set and announce the details of Fury’s debut soon.

BT Sport will continue to be the television home in the United Kingdom for all of Fury’s fights.

Top Rank, Fury’s management team MTK Global and Queensberry Promotions, worked seamlessly to close the groundbreaking deal.

“Top Rank is very excited to enter into the promotional arrangement along with Queensberry Promotions for the lineal heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury,” Arum said. “He is a generational heavyweight talent at the peak of his powers. We also look forward to our growing relationship with MTK Global, which represents so many world-class fighters.”

‘I’m delighted that Frank and Queensberry Promotions have teamed up with Top Rank to promote my fights in America,” Fury said. “With ESPN and BT Sport behind me, the biggest sports platforms in the world are now linked up with the best heavyweight in the world!”

“This is a great move for Tyson Fury and a great move for Queensberry Promotions,” Warren said. “By partnering up with ESPN and Top Rank in America, we’re giving our boxers, including Tyson, the opportunity to perform on the biggest and most powerful platforms on both sides of the Atlantic and become truly global stars.”

“MTK Global are thrilled to have played a role in what can only be described as a monumental partnership, no doubt the biggest one in the boxing industry, and we’re looking forward to working more closely with the teams at Top Rank and ESPN well into the future,” said Sandra Vauaghan, CEO MTK Global.

Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) won the lineal heavyweight title in November 2015 with a unanimous decision over Wladimir Klitschko, who at the time had made 18 title defenses during a nearly decade-long reign. While never losing inside the ring, Fury relinquished the WBA, IBF, and WBO belts while dealing with well-documented mental health and substance abuse issues. After more than two-and-a-half years away from the ring, Fury, whose weight had ballooned to more than 400 pounds, returned in June of last year.

A pair of wins over Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta set the stage for one of the most dramatic heavyweight title matches in boxing history. Against WBC World Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder on Dec. 1 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Fury put forth a boxing masterclass and survived a hellacious 12th-round knockdown to, seemingly, do enough to defeat Wilder. The judges, however, ruled the bout a split draw. Fury, still just 30, retained his status as lineal champion and realized an against-all-odds comeback story.

 

Stevenson-Vue added to Crawford-Benavidez

Shakur Stevenson, the 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist, will face his steepest test as a professional when he takes on Duarn “The Storm” Vue for the vacant WBC Continental Americas featherweight title on Saturday, Oct. 13 at the CHI Health Center Omaha. Stevenson vs. Vue will be televised on ESPN at 10:30 p.m. ET before pound-for-pound great Terence Crawford’s WBO welterweight title defense against Jose Benavidez Jr.

All undercard bouts will stream live in the United States at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+ – the new multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment in conjunction with ESPN.

Promoted by Top Rank, tickets to this world championship event are on sale now. Remaining tickets, priced at $178, $103, $63, and $38, not including applicable fees, can be purchased at the CHI Health Center Omaha box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 800-745-3000, or online at ticketmaster.com.

“The world is going to see the real Shakur Stevenson on Oct. 13,” Stevenson said. “With my team, Top Rank, and ESPN behind me, I should be world champion in 2019.”

“I am very thankful for this opportunity,” said Vue, who is promoted by Greg Cohen Promotions and Supreme Hits. “Get ready because ‘The Storm’ is coming!”

Stevenson (8-0, 4 KOs) was one of the most highly touted amateurs coming out of the 2016 Olympics, and less than 18 months since turning pro, he has acclimated seamlessly to the paid ranks. He is 4-0 thus far in 2018, including second-round stoppages against Roxberg Patrick Riley and Aelio Mesquita. The Mesquita victory included five knockdowns and came on the undercard of Crawford’s title-winning June 9 stoppage victory against Jeff Horn in Las Vegas. In his most recent bout, Aug. 18 in Atlantic City, N.J., Stevenson scored an eight-round unanimous decision against Carlos Ruiz, who has never been stopped as a professional.

Vue (14-1-2, 4 KOs), from Madison, Wis., is 2-0 since his only defeat, an eight-round unanimous decision loss to Alejandro Salinas. In his last bout, April 28 in Oshkosh, Wi., he notched a 12-round unanimous decision versus former WBA super bantamweight world champion Nehomar Cermeño.

ESPN and Top Rank announce new fight series

ESPN and Top Rank today announced a vast and exclusive, multimedia agreement to make ESPN the home of Top Rank in the U.S. and Canada.  Under the agreement, ESPN will televise live fights on ESPN and ESPN Deportes and stream them on the ESPN App, will stream fights and other Top Rank content on the recently announced ESPN-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service via BAMTech and deliver select pay-per-view (PPV) fight events.  It will also air all Top Rank content in English and in French on Canadian sister networks TSN and RDS.  The nextTop Rank on ESPN fight card, scheduled for September 22 in Tucson, Arizona, features two WBO World Title Fights with Oscar Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs, Featherweight) and Gilberto Ramirez (35-0, 24 KOs, Super Middleweight) title defenses.

 

“ESPN is excited to announce this new relationship with Top Rank, the most comprehensive and innovative media agreement in the history of the sport,” Burke Magnus, executive vice president of programming & scheduling, ESPN said.  “We believe in a new vision for boxing that will super-serve existing boxing fans and create legions of new fans through the highest quality boxing content across multiple ESPN platforms – 365 days a year.  Together, ESPN and Top Rank will build the superstars of tomorrow through unrivaled exposure, original content and cutting edge technology.”

 

In the first year of the deal, ESPN will showcase 18 main events in the U.S. on multiple platforms, including television networks, the ESPN App, the direct-to-consumer service and PPV events, in both English and Spanish, and on Canada’s TSN in English and RDS in French. Top Rank on ESPN content will be widely accessible across multiple platforms, including the ESPN-branded multi-sport direct-to-consumer streaming service, and will feature all undercards, select main events, re-airs of all ESPN and PPV events, Top Rank archival fights and more.

 

“Top Rank is thrilled to enter into this relationship with ESPN, the top sports media brand in the world,” said Todd duBoef, President of Top Rank.  “This unprecedented partnership offers a 360 approach to the entire boxing vertical, including live world class events, unparalleled coverage as well as access to historical moments in the sport.”

 

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) served as the media advisor to Top Rank on the landmark agreement with ESPN.  Furthering its relationship with the leading sports and entertainment agency, Top Rank has retained CAA Sports to manage its official sponsorship sales efforts, working closely with ESPN.

 

“The deal puts Top Rank and its best-in-class stable of global fighters at the core of ESPN’s combat sports offering across television, PPV and OTT,” said Alan Gold, Head of CAA’s Sports Media Advisory practice.  “Top Rank has consistently and successfully built many of their fighters into global brands, and now will benefit significantly from ESPN’s broad distribution, sales and marketing support and outstanding storytelling.”

 

The ESPN-branded multi-sport direct-to-consumer streaming service (being developed with BAMTech and debuting in early 2018) will be a key part of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN multi-platform distribution.The service was announced earlier this month as part of The Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of majority ownership of BAMTech. It will join a wide array of sports programming on service, including approximately 10,000 live regional, national, and international games and events, including Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, Grand Slam tennis, college sports and more.

 

The new ESPN service will be accessed through an enhanced version of the current ESPN app and from authorized MVPDs.  In addition to the multi-sport service, the ESPN app will continue to include the news, highlights and scores that fans enjoy today, and consumers who are pay TV subscribers will also be able to access the ESPN television networks in the same app on an authenticated basis.

 

“Top Rank will be a great partner with high-quality live content, perfectly fit for the new ESPN-branded streaming service we’re building,” said Michael Paull, Chief Executive Officer of BAMTech. “It’s another exciting opportunity for our direct-to-consumer platform to bring sports fans widespread access to their favorite sporting events.