DSH Boxing Notebook: Miguel Cotto returns to fight James Kirkland

December 28, 2016

Our latest Boxing Notebook looks at the return of Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto, as he takes on slugger James Kirkland on February 25.  For this and more news on the sweet science, read below:

Miguel Cotto to face James Kirkland in February 2017

Five-time World Champion Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs) and slugger James Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs) announced that they will fight on February 25 in a 12-round junior middleweight contest at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.  The event will be shown live on HBO Pay-Per-View.

“It’s good to be back," said Cotto.  "I’ve missed boxing and all I can say right now is that I’m going to bring my best, every day, at every training session. I’ll bring my best here on February 25 to face James Kirkland and hopefully take another victory for Puerto Rico.”

His opponent, Kirkland, always has a puncher's chance with his power, but has been greatly inconsistent over the years.  Fortunately for Kirkland, he will have trainer Ann Wolfe back in his corner for this fight, which always seems to improve his odds.

The opinionated Wolfe wasted no time addressing the issue of why this bout is being shown on pay-per-view.

"Now, a lot of people are saying this shouldn’t be Pay-Per-View," said Wolfe.  "[Expletive] this should be Pay-Per-View because you know that if I’m with James, he is going to fight. Regardless of who Cotto is with, he is going to fight. So I’m telling you that it’s going to be a good fight. Somebody is going to get knocked out. So, come and see who it’s going to be.”

Kirkland also promised a better effort in this fight.

"I didn’t give it my all when I fought Canelo Alvarez," said Kirkland.  "I didn’t prepare the way I needed to but I’m not going to bring any excuses to the table. This fight is to show my team, my fans and everyone who has followed and supported me, that James Kirkland is still in the race. Kirkland is still here to make a stand. Keep my name alive, please attend and watch it come February 25. It’s going to be a war.”

Badou Jack close-up

Super middleweight world champion Badou Jack has endured a long road on the way to his highly anticipated super middleweight world championship unification showdown against James DeGale taking place Saturday, January 14, from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  DeGale-Jack will be shown live on Showtime.

Jack comes from a unique background for a boxer, but has persevered through the same struggles that professional fighters face every day.

Take a look below at some interesting facts that have led Jack to his January 14 showdown:

1.    Jack was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Gambian father. He has six siblings -- two older sisters, two younger sisters, and two younger brothers.

2.    He started boxing on his own curiosity and has already gotten some of his younger siblings interested in training. Professional boxing was banned in Sweden from 1969 through 2007

3.    He began boxing in 2000 and took quickly to the sport before starting his international amateur career.

4.    He qualified for the 2008 Olympics for Gambia. He remains the only boxer to ever represent the country in the Olympics and was the flag-bearer and one of three athletes to represent Gambia at the Beijing games.

5.    Jack is the first Swedish-born man to hold a boxing world title since Armand Krajnc held a middleweight title in 2001. The only other Swedish-born world champion was Ingemar Johansson, who famously won the heavyweight world title by knocking Floyd Patterson down seven times in one round on his way to a stoppage in 1959.

6.    Jack came to the U.S. to pursue boxing after the Olympics and first began training at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn.

7.    He was discovered by former heavyweight world champion Shannon Briggs and he temporarily moved to Miami to work with Briggs. He maintains a close relationship with Briggs today.

8.    After moving to Las Vegas, Jack met Floyd Mayweather in 2012 while sparring Andre Dirrell and eventually signed with Mayweather Promotions.

9.    After winning his world title in 2015, he was a finalist for the Swedish Athlete of the Year.

10.  He traveled to Gambia earlier this year and last year, along with Ishe Smith, to deliver training equipment and other donations to the country.

Talkin' Smack

Promoter Don King: “It’s sad but this guy, Povetkin, has become a total embarrassment. He’s now tested positive in two WBC heavyweight title fights in a row. I’m all for winning and losing fights in the ring, but it’s time for justice to prevail. I don’t know what’s going on over there with so many Russian athletes in so many sports testing positive for drugs, but it has to stop. They cannot be allowed to continue to do things the way they are."

Bermane Stiverne after his opponent's positive drug test: “There’s no reason to fight if the WBC won’t sanction the bout. I’m very disappointed in the actions of Povetkin. I’ve been training for months to be victorious. To wake up the day of the fight, have breakfast, take a nap, and then find out he tested positive is the worst possible situation.”

Povetkin fails drug test, bout with Stiverne cancelled

Heavyweights Alexander Povetkin and Bermane Stiverne were scheduled to fight for the WBC Interim Heavyweight title in Ekaterinburg, Russia, but the WBC withdrew its sanctioning of the bout when Povetkin failed a drug test.

The WBC informed both camps of their decision and advised the Stiverne camp that they should not go through with the fight.  The WBC abides by "Safety First" protocol in their Clean Boxing Program.

Povetkin (31-1, 23 KOs) was going into the fight rated No. 1 by the WBC, and Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs) was rated No. 2.  They were to fight for the WBC Interim Heavyweight Title, with the winner becoming mandatory challenger to current champion Deontay Wilder (who currently is injured).

The WBC uses VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) to administer their drug testing.  VADA uses random testing and athletes may be tested at any time.  This is the second fight in which Povetkin has tested positive for a banned substance - this time Ostarine.  Povetkin's positive sampling was taken December 6.

Ostarine can increase muscle mass and fat loss, as well as increase stamina.  Previously Povetkin was to face WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder on May 21, but tested positive for Meldonium a week prior to the fight.  Meldonium is known to increase blood vessel size, increasing blood, and thus, improving stamina.

Stiverne's promoter, the loquacious Don King, made the following statement:

"To say that I am very saddened and extremely disappointed that Alexander Povetkin was caught again using banned substances would be an understatement.  What is the WBC going to do about it will be the answer.  Bermane Stiverne deserves better than that.  Bermane should be declared the interim title holder.  This is the second time Alexander Povetkin is in the drug abuse program and has embarrassed the WBC causing the WBC's sanction of the fight as a world title fight being withdrawn.  The first time was the Deontay Wilder versus Povetkin May 21 in Moscow.
"Even though it hurts Bermane economically, psychologically and especially psychologically, I want to congratulate the WBC's Clean Boxing Program.  WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman did himself and his organization, the WBC, proud by withdrawing their sanctioning of the fight.  Thank you WBC, thank you Mauricio Sulaiman, thank you for your honest, dynamic leadership."
GYM signs French Olympian Christian M'Billi Assomo to promotional deal

Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM) announced the signing of 2016 French Olympian Christian M'Billi Assomo to an exclusive promotional contract.  He will settle in Quebec and make his professional debut there in early 2017.

"I am very pleased with this agreement with the Groupe Yvon Michel," Assomo added. "I'm sure this is the beginning of a great adventure. I look forward to my first performance. GYM knew how to attract me: by its past, by the boxers it supports, by its structure."

Known in the ring as ''Le Solide'' (The Solid), the 5'9" orthodox-fighting Assomo will arrive in Montreal at the beginning of January, when he will start working with world-class trainer Marc Ramsay and his outstanding team.

"I started following Christian M'Billi's amateur career two years ago and his successes on the international scene were more than impressive," Ramsey commented. "I am very happy to associate myself with such a disciplined and talented boxer. I see a very promising future for this young man."

A native of Yaoundé in Cameroon, he moved at the age of seven to France, where he learned by chance to box at the Montargis Club. Assomo quickly developed into a powerful and highly successful boxer, becoming a major name on the international amateur scene in the middleweight division.

A member of the French Army, Assomo had a truly impressive amateur record, capturing gold medals at the 2013 European Junior Championship, 2014 European Union Championship, and European Olympic Qualification Tournament, as well as maintaining an unbeaten record (4-0) in the World Series of Boxing (WSB).

At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Assomo defeated Ukrainian Dmytro Mytrofanov and Ecuadorian Marlon Delgado prior to losing in a furious battle to the eventual Olympic gold medalist, Arlen Lopez, ofCuba.

"After a good career among amateurs, rich in results," French National Boxing Team coach John Dovi explained, "it is time for Christian to go into the pro ranks. His offensive style and overall boxing skills will allow him, I am sure, to reach the highest level."

Assomo, who is currently training in France, fought his last amateur bout on December 3rd. He is tentatively scheduled to have his first pro bout on February 9 at the Cabaret du Casino de Montréal.

NY State Boxing Hall of Fame announces 2017 Class

The New York State Boxing Hall of Fame announced its 15-member Class of 2017, including Manhattan welterweight Gaspar Ortega (131-39-6, 69 KOs), Yonkers' world heavyweight title challenger Renaldo Snipes (39-8-1, 22 KOs), Yonkers middleweight Doug Dewitt (33-8-5, 19 KOs), and "The Bronx Bomber," world middleweight title challenger Alex Ramos (39-10-2, 24 KOs).

"Once again, "said NYSBHOF president Bob Duffy, "we're honoring New York's finest in our sport. This is all about recognizing great fighters, as well as others involved in boxing, from the state of New York. We're expecting another knockout night."

Posthumous inductees are Queens' former middleweight and light heavyweight world champion Dick Tiger (60-19-3, 27 KOs), Brooklyn/Manhattan light heavyeight world champion Jose Torres (41-3-1, 29 KOs), and Williamsburg middleweight world champion Jack Dempsey (51-4-11, 23 KOs).

Non-participants heading into the NYSBHOF are Queens' International agent Don Majeski, Long Island matchmaker Ron Katz, Manhattan manager Stan Hoffman, and past Ring 8 president/NYSAC judge Bobby Bartels.

Posthumous non-participant inductees are Brooklyn boxing historian Hank Kaplan, Long Island cut-man Al Gavin, Bronx referee Arthur Donovan, and New York City columnist Dan Parker.

Each inductee will receive a custom-designed belt signifying his induction into the NYSBHOF.

The 2017 inductees were selected by the NYSBHOF nominating committee members: Jack Hirsch, Steve Farhood, Bobby Cassidy, Jr., Randy Gordon, Henry Hascup, Ron McNair, Angelo Prospero, and Neil Terens.

All boxers needed to be inactive for at least three years to be eligible for NYSBHOF induction, and all inductees must have resided in New York State for a significant portion of their boxing careers or during the prime of their respective career.

Moroccan boxer Mohammed Rabii to make pro debut on February 18

Moroccan amateur boxing sensation Mohammed Rabii will make his long-anticipated professional debut February 18, fighting at home in Casablanca, at the Complexe de Sportif Mohammed V Arena.

The 23-year-old Rabii represented Morocco at this year's Olympic Games in Brazil, where he captured a bronze medal in the welterweight division, losing a disputed decision (0-3) in the semifinals to Uzebek boxer Shakhram Giyasov, who then lost (0-3) in the championship final to Daniyar Yeleussinov.

Rabii had defeated Yeleussinov, of Kazakhstan, in the gold-medal championship bout of the AIBA World Amateur Championships.  An average of 6 million Moroccans viewed each of Rabbi's Olympic matches, providing testimony to his celebrity status back home.

A gifted orthodox fighter, Rabii was the past World Series of Boxing Fighter of the Year.  He signed an exclusive, multi-year managerial contract last October with Nowhere2Hyde Management based in Cork, Ireland.

"We are delighted to have signed one of the best amateur boxers in the world," manager Gary Hyde said.  "Mohammed has a great style with knockout power in both hands. He will kick-star his pro career in front of his adoring fans in Casablanca February 18th.  He is a national hero, so, the plan is to take full advantage by building him up at home in Morocco."

Two other boxers managed by Hyde, former World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight Simpiwe Vetyeka and middleweight Gevorg Khatchikian, will fight in the main event and co-feature, respectively, against opponents to be determined.

Vetyeka (29-3, 17 KOs), fighting out of South Africa, is currently ranked No. 4 by the WBA.

The only two pro losses for the Netherlands' Khatchikian (24-2, 12 KOs) have been to present super middleweight world champions James Degale (IBF) and Gilberto Ramirez (WBO).

Showtime announces 2016 boxing awards

Showtime began their 30th anniversary year with a brilliant knockout—Deontay Wilder over Artur Szpilka—and ended with a  bang as Jermall Charlo emphatically handed Julian Williams his first loss.

In a recent press release, the network announced its awards for 2016:

Showtime 2016 Fight of the Year -- Leo Santa Cruz versus Carl Frampton

There was not a fight that combined high stakes with the all-out action that Santa Cruz-Frampton did.  Two undefeated champions putting it on the line against the highest level of opposition.

Frampton and Santa Cruz delivered 160 punches in Round 2 and the pace never let up.  They combined for 1,700 punches overall in an epic, highly competitive affair that featured classic toe-to-toe exchanges throughout.

Showtime 2016 Fight of the Year -- Keith Thurman versus Shawn Porter

The way boxing is supposed to be.  One of the most anticipated fights of the year, and the first main event on CBS in Primetime in 38 years, lived up to its billing.  It was set up to be a showcase for the sport’s deepest division, the welterweights.

No. 5-ranked Keith Thurman versus No. 6-ranked Shawn Porter delivered an intense, toe-to-toe thriller before a raucous 12,000-plus fans at Barclays Center.  Fans were on their feet during numerous exchanges and swings in momentum including for most of the dramatic final round.  Despite the uniformity of the judges' cards, it was a thorny fight to score.

Officially, Thurman eked out a 12-round decision by the score of 115-113 three times.

Showtime 2016 Fighter of the Year -- Featherweight World Champion Carl Frampton

No other fighter in boxing beat two previously undefeated world champions in 2016.  And Carl Frampton did it in different weight classes.

Frampton unified the 122-pound division with a 12-round split decision win over unbeaten Scott Quigg on Feb. 27.  After vacating those titles, Frampton stepped up in weight and edged top-ranked, undefeated Leo Santa Cruz in a wicked encounter on July 30.

By outpointing Santa Cruz, Frampton joined Steve Collins, who won middleweight and super middleweight belts in the 1990s, as the only Irishmen to win titles in two weight classes.

Showtime 2016 KO of the Year -- Deontay Wilder KO 9 Artur Spilka

A right hand, with full extension, flush to the chin does it for undefeated WBC Heavyweight World Champion Wilder.

Showtime 2016 KO of the Year -- Mason Menard KO 3 Eudy Bernardo

A frightening, counter overhand right by Menard chills Bernardo.

Local boxer Danny Roman to face Adam Lopez on ShoBox

Undefeated, WBA No. 3-ranked super bantamweight Adam Lopez (16-0-1, 8 KOs) will face the WBA’s No. 4-ranked Danny Roman (20-2-1, 7 KOs) in the 10-round main event on Friday, January 20, on Showtime from Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel and Casino.

The first ShoBox telecast in 2017 features eight fighters with a combined record of 115 wins against just seven losses.

Lopez, of San Antonio, Texas, by way Phoenix, Ariz., is a prototypical Shobox prospect-turned-contender. He’s 3-0-1 on the series, having defeated three previous unbeaten boxers on the series: Mario Muniz (11-0) in a hard-fought 10-round decision on Feb. 19, 2016, outpointing Eliezer Acquino (17-0-1) across 10 rounds on July 17, 2015, and knocking out Pablo Cruz (11-0) in the second round on March 13, 2015.

“This will be my toughest fight.  It is all about levels and progressing,’’ Lopez said of the matchup between the 26-year-old world-ranked contenders.  “This may be my last ShoBox fight so I want to save the best for the last."

In his most recent ShoBox outing, Lopez boxed a 12-round draw with Roman Reynoso (18-1-1) on July 22, 2016.

An excellent boxer-puncher and tactician that likes to counter, Lopez was a standout amateur before going pro in February 2012.  He is coming off an eighth-round knockout over Carlos Valcarcel on Nov. 11, 2016, and is facing likely his toughest test to date in Lopez.

“Roman is very good fighter and I’m ready for a tough fight," said Lopez.  "He’s progressed a lot.  He’s a good puncher, counter puncher and works the body.  But I’m ready for whatever he brings.  A win would be huge -- it puts me in contention to fight a world champion.’’

Roman has won 13 in a row dating to March 2014 – and none of the fights have been close.  He went 4-0 in 2014, 6-0 in 2015 and 4-0 in 2016.

“I’ve been extremely active over the last few years and now all the hard work is starting to pay off,’’ said Roman, a pro since October 2009.  “This is a tremendous opportunity and the type of fight I’ve been preparing for.  Adam Lopez is a great fighter, and he’s highly ranked just like me.  We are going to give the fans an exciting fight."

Roman, a Los Angeles native, is coming of an eight-round decision over previously unbeaten Marlon Olea (12-0) last Nov. 18, and will make his ShoBox and East Coast debut in just his second outing outside of Southern California.

“I can box, I can brawl," said Roman.  "I give the fans what they want.  I think people are going to be impressed with how I fight.  People want to see a fight and I know I’m going to bring it.  Boxing fans are going to know who Danny Roman is on Jan. 20.’’

In the co-feature, undefeated super middleweight Ronald Ellis (13-0-1, 1 NC, 10 KOs) will face off with Christopher Brooker (11-2, 5 KOs) in an eight-round 168-pound matchup of ShoBox veterans.

In another eight-round featured bout, former national amateur champion Kenneth Sims Jr. (10-0, 3 KOs) and Dominican Olympian Wellington Romero (11-0-1, 5 KOs) will clash in an eight-round matchup of up-and-coming, unbeaten super lightweights making their ShoBox debuts in their toughest assignments to date.

In the opening bout of the telecast, undefeated bantamweight Stephon Young (15-0-3, 6 KOs) takes on Mexican veteran and two-time interim world title challenger Daniel Rosas (19-3-1, 11 KOs) in an eight-round super bantamweight bout.

Palicte defeats Cantu via split decision

The final installment of Roy Jones' 2016 "Knockout Night at the D" series ended in typical style as Aston Palicte won a 10-round split decision over previously undefeated Oscar Cantu in a terrific super flyweight match from start to finish inside the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center indoor facility.

The Palicte-Cantu main event, as expected, was a classic match-up of contrasting styles between a dangerous puncher (Palicte) and consummate boxer (Cantu), with non-stop action from the opening bell.

Power-punching Palicte (22-2, 18 KOs) pressed the action as the clear aggressor, but Cantu stood in the pocket, too, as the technician used his defensive skills to make things difficult for his world-rated Filipino opponent.

Ultimately, it all came down to the 10th round, which Palicte swept on all three judges' scorecards for a hard-fought split decision victory by scores of 98-92, 96-94, and 94-96.

Palicte, rated No. 11 by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and No. 15 by the World Boxing Organization (WBO), took Cantu's North American Boxing Federation (NABF) title belt in addition to capturing the vacant WBO Inter-Continental strap.

Cantu, who is rated No. 4 as a flyweight by the World Boxing Council (WBC), showed tremendous heart, a granite chin, and the ability to move extremely well, throwing punches from every conceivable angle.  The difference, however, proved to be Palicte's slugging ability in this classic confrontation in which the puncher barely prevailed against the boxer.

In the co-feature, Jamaican junior middleweight Nathaniel "No Problem" Gallimore (16-1-1, 13 KOs) scored a spectacular first-round knockout of previously unbeaten Angelo "Bombardero" Baez (15-1-1, 11 KOs), the Chilean junior middleweight champion.

Gallimore hurt Baez midway through the opening round and then closed the show with vicious left to the liver that dropped Baez to his knees.  In obvious pain, he was unable to get to his feet before the 10 count.

Galiimore dedicated the fight to his stablemate, the late Ed Brown (20-0), who was murdered earlier this month.  "I saw a tape of him (Baez) and knew he backed up to the ropes," Gallimore explained the finish.  "I practiced that shot in the gym and I'm very happy with the outcome.  I told all my teammates back in Chicago that I was dedicating this fight to Ed Brown."

Los Angeles junior middleweight Flavio Rodriguez (6-0, 5 KOs) kept his undefeated record intact against previously unbeaten Mexican fighter Dilan "El Tremendo" Loza (5-1, 3 KOs) in the television opener.

Rodriguez, who one point during his 4 1/2-year hiatus from the ring weighed 90 pounds more than he entered the ring tonight, won by way of a third-round technical knockout. Loza was hurt by an accidental shot to the base of his head in the third and he was later dropped in the same round by the heavy-handed Rodriguez.  Referee Jay Nady halted the bout after the third round.

"For the most part," Rodriguez said, "he didn't do anything different.  I thought I controlled the fight with my jab."

In a battle of unbeaten welterweight prospects, hometown favorite Jeremy "J-Flash" Nichols (7-0-1, 2 KOs) and San Diego's Kevin "KO" Ottley (3-0-1) fought to a 6-round draw.

By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services

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