Terence Crawford to face Viktor Postol on July 23
Undefeated junior welterweight champions Terence Crawford and Viktor Postol will go mano-a-mano in a 12-round world title unification fight on Saturday, July 23, to determine the lineal king of the exciting 140-pound division. The event will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will be shown live on HBO Pay-Per-View.
"This title unification battle between Terence Crawford and Viktor Postol is evenly matched and both undefeated champions are determined to prevail. This is must-see television," said Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum
Crawford (28-0, 20 KOs), of Omaha, Nebraska, is a two-division world champion who has won four of his last five bouts by stoppage. He will be making his MGM Grand Garden debut in his third title defense as World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior welterweight world champion.
"This is a great opportunity to show the world I'm the best champion at 140," said Crawford.
Crawford, 28, captured the vacant WBO junior welterweight crown on April 18, 2015, via a devastating sixth-round knockout of once-beaten No. 2 world-rated contender Thomas Dulorme.
Postol (28-0, 12 KOs), from Kiev, Ukraine, put his stamp on the boxing landscape when he scored a 10th-round knockout of the heavily-favored former interim world champion Lucas Matthysse to capture the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) super lightweight world title on October 3, 2015.
World-rated No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, Postol and Matthysse went toe to toe throwing every weapon in their arsenals at each other until Postol caught Matthysse with a right uppercut and a left hook effectively turning out the lights on one of boxing's most fearsome punchers.
A former sparring partner of eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao, Postol has been trained by Hall of Famer Freddie Roach for his last three fights, with two of those ending in knockouts. He will be making his first defense as the WBC super lightweight champion.
"This has Fight of the Year written all over it," said Roach. "For the second consecutive time Viktor will be involved in a world title tilt pitting the two best fighters in the division. He'll be ready."
At a recent Los Angeles press conference for the bout, Postol presented a commemorative stamp of himself to his opponent. The stamp not only featured Postol's image, but also foreshadowed the possible result of their upcoming fight, with a caption that included Postol's record after their rumble, complete with projected record and unified titles.
"Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor Terence Crawford stays this Postol courier from the swift completion of unifying the titles," said Roach. "Come July 23, Postol will deliver just like he did against Lucas Matthyse.".
After viewing the artwork, a bemused Crawford told Team Postol, "There's only one place for junk mail and that's the shredder. I'm going to cancel your stamp and your reign as WBC champion on July 23. The new face of boxing isn't on that stamp, it's in front of you."
Cruiserweight Andrew Tabiti defeats Keith Tapia
Undefeated Andrew Tabiti (13-0, 11 KOs), of Las Vegas, turned back a determined effort by previously unbeaten Keith Tapia (17-1, 11 KOs) to win a 10-round unanimous decision in a collision of United States-born cruiserweights in the main event of Friday’s ShoBox: The New Generation quadrupleheader from Sam’s Town Live.
The judges scored the bout 97-92 twice, and 99-90.
Tabiti, 26, scored the bout’s lone knockdown in the eighth, dropping Tapia with a perfect right hand to the side of the head.
“Tapia is a good fighter, strong, awkward, a little wild, with some real experience,’’ Tabiti said. “You can definitely say he was the best fighter I’ve been in with. It took me a while, maybe four rounds, to figure him out and get the timing on my punches down."
In a second scrap between U.S.-born cruiserweights, 2012 U.S. Olympian Michael Hunter (12-0, 8 KOs), of Las Vegas, captured a lopsided 10-round division over Dominican Isiah Thomas (15-1, 1 ND, 6 KOs), of Detroit, in the ShoBox co-feature.
Hunter, going 10 rounds for the initial time, pressed the action throughout against Thomas and won by the scores of 100-90 twice and 99-91.
“I didn't do exactly what I wanted to do but I got the job done so I can't complain,’’ said Hunter, the son of the late former cruiserweight and heavyweight contender Mike "The Bounty" Hunter. “I just learn to live in the moment. I wanted to press him, hurt him early and continue to hurt him towards the middle. I think he was a little more stagnant and hesitant to engage; I think he felt the intensity after the first two rounds so he started to step back and was just trying to survive for the rest of the fight."
“The two fights brought both hope and caution about the present state of the cruiserweight division in America,’’ ShoBox expert analyst Steve Farhood said afterward. “We saw two very awkward fighters in Thomas and Tapia and as a result of their awkwardness, the winners, Tabiti and Hunter, weren’t allowed to truly shine."
Anthony Ogogo to fight on May 28
Anthony Ogogo (8-0, 4 KOs) will make his long-awaited return to the ring on May 28 at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, live on Sky Sports.
The unbeaten Ogogo's professional career has been stop-start so far due to injury, with the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist set for his first action since July when he moved to 8-0 with a win in Germany over Ruslan Schelev.
It was in that fight where he suffered a dislocated shoulder, fighting for the majority of the bout with just one arm. Ogogo, 27, insists his injury woes are behind him and that he's ready to get his career back on track and make a huge impact in the middleweight division.
On his return to the ring, Ogogo said, "I'm incredibly excited to be added to the May 28 card in Glasgow live on Sky Sports and cannot wait to get back in the ring. It's been a difficult period for me as I've worked hard to recover from the shoulder injury I suffered in my last fight but I am now fully fit and raring to go."
Artur Beterbiev to fight on June 7
The 31-year-old Beterbiev (9-0, 9 KOs), an adopted son of Montreal, is on a seek-and-destroy mission for his first fight in one year. The two-time Russian Olympian hasn't fought since last June because he has been recovering from shoulder surgery during the past few months.
Beterbiev is world ranked among the top six in all four major sanctioning organizations: IBF #2, WBO and WBA #4, and WBC #6.
During his 3-year professional career, Beterbiev has defeated two former world champions, Gabriel Campillo and Tavoris Cloud.
Maderna (23-2, 15 KOs) is a veteran fighter from Argentina. In his most recent action last May, Maderna stopped Rolando Wenceslao Mansilla in the opening round for the Argentina super middleweight championship.
Talkin' Smack with Erislandy Lara
WBA Super Welterweight World Champion Erislandy Lara is set to defend his world title and settle his score against Vanes Martirosyan when the two meet on Saturday, May 21 from The Chelsea, inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Here are Lara's thoughts on the fight:
On his rematch with Vanes Martirosyan
“This is a very important fight for me. Our last fight unfortunately ended in a draw because of a clash of heads so we have some unfinished business to take care of. This time I’m not going to leave any doubt on who the better fighter is. I’m coming to dominate and retain my world championship.”
On training camp
“I’m taking this fight very seriously. I’ve been pushing my body to get in the best shape possible. My body feels incredible and I couldn’t ask for a better training camp. I’ve been sparring a lot and my timing is getting better with each session. Everything is going as planned.”
On the May 21 card
“It’s great to be fighting on this card, especially when there is so much on the line while I defend my title. In addition, the Charlo brothers are fighting on the undercard, which makes for a great night of boxing for the super welterweight division. The landscape of the 154-pound division will be laid out after May 21.”
On fighting in Las Vegas
“Vegas is the boxing capital of the world and fighting there is unbelievable. The fans are very supportive. The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan is very intimate and every seat in the building is a good seat. I anticipate a lively crowd.”
On his relationship with Ronnie Shields
“Ronnie is a great coach and his game plans are very well thought out. He keeps everything simple. If we have to make adjustments during the fight, he’ll be able to point them out. We both have a great mutual respect for one another.”
Danny Roman to face Christian Esquivel on May 20
Thompson Boxing Promotions announced that NABA Champion Danny Roman (18-2-1, 6 KOs) of Los Angeles will face hardened veteran Christian Esquivel (28-9, 21 KOs) of Mexico in a 10-round bout on Friday, May 20, from the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, Calif.
Since winning the 122-pound title last July, Roman has defended the championship twice, the most recent win coming in knockout fashion against Ramiro Robles in February. The 25-year-old Roman is coming in red hot with a ten-fight winning streak and holding the number fourteen position in the WBA's super bantamweight division.
He faces a more experienced boxer in Esquivel, who holds a loss against longtime world champion Shinsuke Yamanaka.
"Esquivel is a dangerous opponent, there's no doubt about that," Roman said. "But I've been extremely focused in the gym, training hard like always. I'm looking forward to defending my title and giving the fans a great show."
Antonio Tarver Jr. tries to follow in his father's footsteps
After a 9-month absence, the 28-year-old Tarver (4-0, 3 KOs) stopped Jose Cortez in the second round of their bout. Tarver displayed his improving skills, especially a punishing body attack, during a thoroughly dominating performance. He broke-down Cortez and closed the show in style.
"It took me one round to get rid of ring rust," Tarver Jr. explained. "We had a game-plan to go to the body, then the head, body and head, but it took me a round to do it. God's really blessed me and I owe all thanks to Him. My father and coach, Jimmy Williams, have always told me not to look for a knockout but that it'll come. I'm not a one-punch knockout fighter. It's all about setting up shots and putting them together. I may not connect with every single body shot I throw, but if I get in three of four each round, it'll eventually cause damage. I'm focusing on my opponent's liver and ribs, trying to be a body-snatcher."
Tarver was an athlete, playing basketball and football, who didn't start boxing until he was 19. He had a very brief amateur career and fully realizes that he's consistently going to be fighting more experienced boxers.
"In the ring," Tarver Jr. said, "I'm still a baby. My opponents may be much more experienced than me, but I do have a lot of experience around me: my father, coach Williams and Darrell Foreman. My father wouldn't support me as a fighter until I proved to him that I was worthy (sacrificing and training). I'm worthy now and believe I'm coming into my own as I continue to learn."
His father offered his own assessment of his son's skills.
"As a father," Tarver Sr., noted, "I wanted him to know what he was getting into and have the tools to succeed. He's as tough as nails. When he realizes how strong he really is . . . look out. There's a difference between hitting an opponent with a punch and punching through him like he's doing now. I just wish he'd get started quicker. He doesn't get going until he gets hit and then he turns into a beast. A ferociousness comes out from inside that I never had. He's improving all of the time. He's putting punches together better and sitting down on his punches."
The elder Tarver knows that it will be experienced fighters that give his son the most difficulty.
"Antonio is going to be a fan-friendly fighter," said Tarver Sr. "I know I put him under a lot of pressure, but he's fighting much more experienced guys. I've never been worried about him fighting a tough guy. It's the guys who think in the ring and have amateur pedigree that can be problems for him."
Understanding that his opponents get pumped to fight him because of his last name, Antonio Jr. rationalizes that, taking advantage of his situation.
"It's very important for my opponents to beat me and the name," he admitted. "My father set this stage for me and my name is, Antonio Tarver, Jr., so they're trying to give us both a loss. I'm fighting for my family and to protect the legacy of my last name. I try and take advantage of being my father's son and accept everything that goes with that. I don't try to put pressure on myself but, of course, I want to be the best Antonio Tarver Jr. I can be."
The father has another important lesson he's teaching his son.
"Antonio became a father for the first time last September and he was slow getting back in the gym," Antonio Sr. added. "He has to learn how to balance fatherhood with his pro boxing career, making sacrifices to become a champion!"
May 21 "Knockout at the D" undercard appears promising
A potentially explosive "Knockout Night at the D" undercard has been announced for Saturday night, May 21, airing (8 p.m. PT / 11 p.m. ET) live on CBS Sports Network from under the neon lights at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center (DLVEC) outdoor venue.
Undefeated Russian middleweight Arif Magomedov (17-0, 10 KOs) squares off against upset specialist Andrew Hernandez (11-4-1, 3 KOs), of Phoenix, in the 10-round main event. Magomedov is world ranked among the top 15 160-pounders by the four major sanctioning bodies: WBC #2, WBO #3, WBA #5 and IBF #14.
Unbeaten super welterweight John Vera (12-0, 8 KOs), of Fort Worth, Texas, defends his NABA-USA title belt against third-generation boxer Joey Ruelas (10-1-1, 4 KOs), of Phoenix, in the 8-round co-feature.
Las Vegas' 17-year-old boxing prodigy Devin Haney (5-0, 3 KOs) will become the youngest American boxer to box on national television as the 7-time national amateur champion takes on fellow undefeated lightweight prospect Jairo Fernandez (4-0, 3 KOs), of Mexico, in the 6-round television opener.
Former WBC Youth International titlist Tony Lopez (10-1, 3 KOs), of Dallas, meets unbeaten Houston featherweight Jerren Cochran (11-0-1, 4 KOs) in an 8-round bout.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services