DSH Boxing Notebook: Leonard-Hagler revisited, Ward-Kovalev II set for June 17

April 8, 2017

Our latest Boxing Notebook looks back thirty years ago to the classic Hagler-Leonard fight, and also discusses the upcoming Ward-Kovalev rematch.  For these stories and more news on the sweet science, read below:

Kovalev-Ward 2 set for June 17

The highly anticipated rematch between the unified Light Heavyweight Champion, Andre  Ward (31-0, 15 KOs), and former title holder Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) will take place Saturday, June 17, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The bout will be shown on HBO Pay-Per-View.

"I'm going to keep it short and sweet," said Ward.  "You got what you asked for - now you have to see me on June 17. This time . . . leave the excuses at home."

Known for his integrity outside the ring and his warrior's instinct inside it, 33-year-old Andre Ward's skill and talent were apparent early in his outstanding amateur career. He is the only male American boxer to claim Olympic gold in the past decade. Since becoming a professional, he has occupied a top five spot on most pound-for-pound lists for the past few years.

In the most anticipated fight of 2016, Ward survived an early knockdown and proved to the world his dominance as one of boxing's best fighters by becoming the unified World Light Heavyweight Champion with a controversial unanimous decision win over Kovalev, the reigning WBA, IBF and WBO titleholder.

Kovalev, 34, is currently ranked #2 Pound-for-Pound by Ring Magazine and has been dominating boxing's light heavyweight division with his aggressive, fan-friendly style since his breakout performance against then-unbeaten Nathan Cleverly in 2013 when he won the WBO Light Heavyweight World Title.

"I'm glad to know that rematch will happen," said Kovalev.  "I really hope that Andre Ward will get into the ring for this rematch. Fans of boxing will see the real Krusher--the one they have missed for couple of my last fights. For me this rematch is very important as no other bout in my entire boxing career."

Andre Berto-Shawn Porter fight set for April 22

Former world champions Andre Berto and Shawn Porter are set to collide in a welterweight world title eliminator on Saturday, April 22, from Barclays Center.  The bout will be televised on Showtime.

“It feels great to be getting back in the ring,” said Berto. “I love being back in New York. My team has been putting in work in the gym. I’m already dialed-in and focused. I’ve had the WBC belt before and I’m itching to get it back. I beat the man who had taken it away from me in my last fight and I’m going to take down anyone who gets in my way. I know Shawn is going to work hard for this one, but so will I. I’m looking forward to this one, you don’t want to miss it.”

Berto (31-4, 24 KOs) and Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs) will battle in a 12-round eliminator for the WBC welterweight title. The winner will become the mandatory for the WBC crown picked up this past weekend by Keith Thurman, who unified the WBA and WBC titles with a victory over Danny Garcia on CBS at Barclays Center.

“The only thing on my mind right now is the WBC title,” said Porter. “I made it a goal of mine when I turned pro to get that green belt, and now I feel like it’s about to happen. I’m not looking past Andre Berto, I respect him as a man and a fighter. We’re friends. But just like when I fought Keith Thurman, it’s all about the business and getting that title. I can’t wait to be in that ring on April 22 at Barclays Center.”
Errol Spence to fight Kell Brook on May 27

IBF Welterweight World Champion Kell Brook and undefeated Errol Spence Jr. officially announced their May 27 blockbuster fight, which will air on Showtime.

“I’m happy I'm finally getting an opportunity to accomplish a lifelong dream of becoming a world champion,” said Spence.  “I feel that this is one of the best and biggest fights in world boxing and I am 100 percent focused and determined to bring the belt back home to the U.S.  On May 27, I will be more than ready.”

Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) will make the fourth defense of his IBF belt against Spence (21-0, 18 KOs), the mandatory challenger and one of the most highly regarded contenders in the sport today.

Undefeated Spence became the mandatory challenger for Brook’s belt when he blasted Leonard Bundu inside six rounds in August, the eighth straight stoppage win for the American who destroyed Chris Algieri inside four rounds two months earlier.

Brook and Spence now clash in one of the biggest fight in the 147-pound division, and the elite pair are promising to deliver an electric night at the home of Sheffield United FC.

“I’m so excited about this fight and also about making history in my city,” said Brook. “It’s long been a dream of mine to fight outdoors at Bramall Lane and I’m pleased to do that in the biggest fight in the welterweight division.  I saw many people talk about how I would avoid Errol Spence - they don’t know me, they don’t know what I’m about.  All I’ve ever wanted to do is to give the fans the fights they want and they have it right here on May 27.  I’m going to show the world that I’m the best welterweight on the planet and I’m going to do it right before my people’s eyes.”

Talkin' Smack

Shawn Porter, on his fight with Andre Berto: “Every time I see this fight in my head, I feel good about it. I feel like my speed and my boxing ability is going to take care of the first half of this fight. Once we get going and establish the pace of the fight, which is what we’re going to do, after that, we’ll start working in our feints, our head movement, it’s gonna be beautiful. I know that much. I’ve seen him in fights where he goes past the fifth and sixth round, and things start to fall apart for him."

Vasyl Lomachenko: "My Top-Three pound for pound list is GGG, Kovalev, and Crawford.  I don't want to be Number One until I deserve it.  That means fighting and winning against two or three world champions.  After that I may be Number One but for sure not now."

Shawn Porter, on his fight with Andre Berto: “I’ve seen myself hurting him to the body, but haven’t seen myself stopping him. I can see him going down, but I can’t see him not getting up. Maybe that’s too much respect for him, but I know in the moment, in the fight, I’m going after this dude. I feel like right now, he has the heart of a lion. He’s Haitian, he carries that blood with him, he’s proud of it and I respect that, so I’m ready for a full fight."

Vasyl Lomachenko: "I like the weight division I am in.  I have no problems making weight.  I am not that anxious to leave my division and not sure I will ever fight at 140.  It's hard to look ahead but right now I am comfortable in my division where I have plenty of champions to fight against."

Miguel Marriaga, on his upcoming fight with Oscar Valdez: "The only way I don't win my Oscar on April 22 is if Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway read the decision."

Kell Brook on Errol Spence: “He’s being hyped in the U.S., but we’ve seen it before.  He beat (Chris) Algieri and (Leonard) Bundu, but he’s never fought an animal like me.  I want to beat Spence and wipe out the rest of the division.  If this guy is the next big thing then the fans will be in for a thrilling night because I am going to bring the heat."

Errol Spence on fighting Kell Brook in the UK: “Thirty-thousand Brits?  Bring it on."

Kell Brook on Errol Spence:  “I took a lot from the GGG (Gennady Golovkin) fight.  I stood there and had it out with him.  I’m the biggest 147-pounder out there and I will be bullying them all.  I’m too fast, strong and fit, and I will unify the division after beating Spence.  There’s only one ‘Truth’ in this fight – and that’s that he’s going to get beat.”

Don King sued again

Hall of Fame boxing promoter Don King found himself being sued by his own fighter, super welterweight number one challenger Charles Hatley, two weeks before his title shot on April 22 against the WBC Super Welterweight Champion Jermell Charlo.

King made a deal with co-promoter/manager Al Haymon after Hatley signed a promotional agreement, and then followed that up by signing a bout agreement.  King issued the following statement:

“I don’t think this has ever happened to me in all the years I’ve been in boxing.  Charles Hatley comes to me with his lawyer, manager and father and asks me to help him get a title shot.  He signs a promoter’s contract and I turn around and land him a mandatory championship fight against Charlo.
Charles is the same fighter that couldn’t get a title shot from his previous promoter and I turn around after he comes to me to help him and I deliver a title shot in his first fight back.  Here’s a fighter who has won nine straight fights and has a great lifetime record of 26-1-1.  I deliver him a title shot and he delivers me papers.
This is the craziest thing I have ever seen.  Charles is getting ready for the fight and he changes lawyers and this guy has Charles sue me after all that I have done for him and his father.”

“Don King has been very transparent in his negotiations with Charles Hatley," said Hatley’s manager Lee Holliday of Holliday Boxing. "I was and am very disappointed, to say the least, regarding the lawsuit. This is an unprecedented situation two weeks before the fight. It’s certainly totally unfair to a promoter who has work very hard to get us this world title shot. It’s totally unfair to a fighter who should be thinking about nothing but the fight of his life.”

Terence Crawford set to fight on May 20

Undefeated World Junior Welterweight Champion and elite pound-for-pound fighter Terence Crawford will make his 2017 debut on Saturday, May 20, at the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden, where he will be defending his unified WBO, WBC, and Ring magazine titles against former Olympic gold medalist and top-rated contender Felix Diaz.  The bout will be televised live on HBO.

"Come May 20, I will be ready for whatever Félix Díaz brings to the ring that night," said Crawford.  "It’s going to be a great experience fighting at Madison Square Garden in the big arena where all the greats have fought.  I’m looking forward to that night."

Crawford (30-0, 21 KOs), of Omaha, Neb., is a two-division world champion who has won five of his last seven bouts by stoppage.

Díaz (19-1, 9 KOs), from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, now living in New York, ended his outstanding amateur career with an exclamation point -- winning the 2008 Olympic light welterweight gold medal.  The only blemish on his record was a disputed 12-round welterweight majority decision loss to two-division world champion Lamont Peterson in 2015, a fight many observers thought Díaz deserved to win.  A southpaw with excellent skills and movement and strong punching power, Díaz, 33, is world-rated No. 3 by the WBC.  
"The time has finally come," said Díaz. "I will share a ring with one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and I tip my hat to Crawford for accepting me as an opponent on May 20 because I am no pushover. I'm coming to bring my A-game and I couldn't be more grateful to be able to showcase my skills on HBO and at Madison Square Garden, which is just 15 minutes from where I live.  I will take full advantage of this opportunity.  I respect Crawford and believe he is a great fighter, but every king can be dethroned."

Top Rank to promote three title bouts in Carson on April 22

Undefeated WBO world champions Óscar Valdez, Gilberto Ramirez, and Jessie Magdaleno will headline an exciting world championship event in separate title defenses, on Saturday, April 22, under the stars at StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Produced and distributed live by Top Rank Pay-Per-View, the telecast will also feature the pro debut of U.S. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson, in a six-round featherweight bout.

Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs) will be making the second defense of his WBO featherweight title against No. 1 contender and NABO champion Miguel Marriaga (25-1, 21 KOs).

Ramírez (34-0, 24 KOs) will be making his first defense of the WBO super middleweight title against Top-10 contender Max Bursak (33-4-1, 15 KOs).

Magdaleno (24-0, 17 KOs) will be making the first defense of his WBO junior featherweight title against WBO Latino champion Adeilson Dos Santos (18-2, 14 KOs), of São Paulo, Brazil.

Stevenson, a star on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team and the pride of Newark, will be making his eagerly-awaited professional debut in a four-round featherweight bout.

A look back at Hagler-Leonard

With the 30th anniversary of The SuperFight: Hagler versus Leonard, Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum reminisced about one of boxing's most spectacular events.

It took place on Monday, April 6, 1987 at Caesars Palace and it was promoted by Arum's Top Rank, with Marvin Hagler defending his middleweight title against Sugar Ray Leonard, who was making a return after a three-year absence from the ring and a big question mark about his surgically-repaired eye.

The result? It is as hotly debated today as it was 30 years ago when the judges' scores were read that night. Dave Moretti scored it 115-113 for Leonard. Lou Fillippo scored it 115-113 for Hagler. Jo Jo Guerra scored it 118-110 for Leonard, making him the new middleweight champion, and completing one of the greatest career comebacks in boxing.

Arum shared his experiences of that promotion with undefeated World Boxing Organization (WBO) world champions Óscar Valdez, Gilberto Ramirez, and Jessie Magdaleno, as well as 2016 Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson, who are headlining a world championship tripleheader, and Stevenson's pro debut, on Saturday, April 22, at StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Each of the above fighters and their respective trainers took a break from training to watch a clean tape of the fight, minus audio and graphics, and score it. Below are their views on the fight:

ARUM: I want to set the scene for that event particularly for the younger people who may not be aware. The scene was very important. Marvelous Marvin Hagler had come up the hard way in boxing. He had never been to the Olympics and he fought any fighter that would step in the ring with him. He’d have to go from Boston to Philadelphia and other places to find opponents who would fight him. Through intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O’Neil and Senator Ted Kennedy who sent letters to various people, including myself at Top Rank, they forced everyone to give Marvelous Marvin Hagler a shot at the middleweight title.

 His first shot, I thought he clearly won the fight against Vito Antifermo, but the judges scored it a draw. A year later he fought Alan Minter over in London and stopped Minter in the early rounds -- bloodying him so much that the fight had to be stopped. Marvin was greeted by the great sportsmen in England by a barrage of bottles and cans so that everybody had to hide under the ring until the police were ready to restore order. But came back to the United States a real hero then he embarked on a streak of defending his middleweight title. His first big fight was in 1983 against Roberto Duran and then in ’85 in a major, major event he and Thomas Hearns fought a great middleweight championship battle and Marvin knocked Tommy out in the third round.

Marvin wanted to retire from boxing at that point but his managers and myself as the promoter convinced him to carry on and in 1986 he fought John “The Beast” Mugabi and Mugabi was a tough hard-punching guy -- they went toe-to-toe and in the eleventh round, Marvin knocked Mugabi out.

Ray Leonard had been retired for a number of years and he had been watching that fight and he saw what very few people saw – that Marvin was aging, he was slowing up and Ray, even though he was retired, felt he could come back and take on Hagler. When he announced that he was coming out of retirement, people were incredulous. Hagler went off as a 6:1 or 7:1 favorite in the fight because Leonard was retired and Hagler was this dominant champion – nobody gave Leonard a chance.

To put it in perspective, remember the media frenzy when Manny Pacquiao fought Oscar De La Hoya? All of the media people were saying what a mismatch it was and De La Hoya was an overwhelming favorite. We remember, because it was fairly recent, what happened in that fight, Pacquiao dominated and won that fight, but the feeling was the same going into the Hagler-Leonard fight. Ray Leonard was a great fighter, retired, and then coming out of retirement against this dominant middleweight, Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

The country was mesmerized. Ray Leonard was extremely popular – he was the poster boy for boxing.  Marvin was respected – everybody realized what a workman-like fighter he was. To sell that fight I called it ‘The Yuppie’ being Leonard who came out of the Olympics with a Gold Medal and had big television exposure from the beginning against the blue collar guy Marvin Hagler who had worked himself up and become the dominant middleweight of his time.

ÓSCAR VALDEZ: “First of all I want to say it was a great, great fight. I saw the fight when I was a kid because my dad always showed me tapes of the fights. Watching without the audio I thought that Hagler was the more aggressive fighter. Leonard was moving a lot in the early rounds but was trying to win the later rounds with that speed. I think Hagler did enough to win the fight and I had him winning 115-113.”

GILBERTO RAMÍREZ (Leonard 115-113): "It was a very close fight, but I saw Leonard winning it. He boxed for twelve rounds, but he also stood his ground and exchanged with Hagler. His speed beat Hagler to the punch. Hagler was very strong and had better punching power, but Leonard had more resources. It is one of the best fights I have seen.  I thought Leonard won the fight because he moved around the ring and he threw more punches.”

JESSIE MAGDALENO: "I scored the fight real close. It was a great fight. They both did a tremendous job and they went in there to pretty much kill each other, but I scored the fight 115-113 for Leonard. I thought Leonard controlled most of the fight. He never let Hagler get in the rhythm or get inside like Hagler usually does to use his power. Leonard really out-boxed him for the full 12-rounds and used his smarts, speed and footwork to keep Hagler away and that’s what got the victory for him."

SHAKUR STEVENSON (Leonard 115-113): "The rounds Leonard won were clear cut and without question. The rounds I scored for Hagler were more of a pick 'em type -- very close. Leonard was boxing beautifully and it was a classic case of the boxer vs. the brawler. Leonard's boxing ability was the difference in the fight."

MANNY ROBLES, TRAINER (Leonard 115-114): "The first four rounds were all Leonard. He dictated everything in those rounds while Hagler fought out of orthodox stance which I still don't understand. I gave Hagler the fifth round and Leonard the sixth. Then Hagler started coming on sweeping the seventh and eighth rounds. The ninth round was even. Leonard won the tenth round. And Hagler won the last two rounds. Hagler just dug himself too deep a hole in the first four rounds."

HECTOR ZAPARI, TRAINER (Leonard 115-113): "It was a great fight of great physical strain where both fighters showed great physical condition. It was a very even fight, but I saw Leonard winning by a small margin. He took Hagler's power well and had better combinations when they were exchanging. His speed and boxing skills gave him the win in one of the best fights in boxing history."

KAY KOROMA, TRAINER (Leonard 115-113): "It was a very close fight. I think if it was this era, Hagler would have won because he was the aggressor. There were times in the fight that Ray was boxing beautifully and then times that Hagler was teeing off on him. It was a great fight. I’ve watched it many, many times. Hagler was switching from southpaw to orthodox and the southpaw stance was working for him. It made it a little difficult for Ray because once Ray stopped using his legs, the southpaw stance started working better for Hagler. When Hagler started going to the body first, he was finding Ray a lot easier. I believe if Hagler had gone to the body earlier, he would have won because it would have taken Ray’s legs away."

ARUM: I thought it was a great fight. I thought Ray did a tremendous job, better than anybody expected him to do. I had it 115-113 for Marvelous Marvin Hagler. The same score that Lou Felippo – one of the judges had it for Hagler. The other judge from Las Vegas, David Moretti, had it 115-113 for Leonard. Jose Sulaiman’s appointed judge, Jo Jo Guerrero, who never judged another fight, had it eleven rounds to one for Leonard.

Q: Many people thought Ray was stealing rounds with flurries at the end – did you see that?

ARUM: Absolutely, but that was not a unique tactic for Sugar Ray and it was modeled after Muhammad Ali. Very often, in close rounds, particularly in the Norton fight, he would flurry at the end so that the impression he left in the judges’ minds was that he won the round. Obviously rounds should be scored for the full three minutes but there is no questions that human beings being human will give more credit for the last part of a round – not that that’s correct, but that’s how it works.

Q: Did they not really like each other?

ARUM: No. No No. Marvin could not do a fight unless he got himself into a position where he disliked the opponent. He would put a picture of his opponent up on his bedroom wall so that he would glare back at it. To motivate himself he was the kind of fighter that had to create a dislike for his opponent. Now the guy he really hated, when he fought him, was Hearns. Because when we had them on a tour, Tommy got under Marvin’s skin.

But Marvin was disdainful toward Ray because he believed Ray had it so easy in boxing and that he, Marvin, had struggled so hard, but it wasn’t the same kind of hatred that he had for Tommy. I must say that now, many years later, these guys are great friends.

Q: Why did Hagler quit after the fight?

ARUM: Well, he wanted to quit after the Hearns fight - and I want these fighters to hear this. Then we got him to fight Mugabi, then he didn’t want to go any more – he didn’t want to fight Ray Leonard and what happened was, I remember driving through the night with Pat Petronelli, Hagler’s manager, from Boston to New Hampshire where Hagler had a house. We went through fog and everything. I waited and Pat started talking to him and Marvin was banging his hands on the table and afterwards I asked Pat ‘what was that about?’ He said well, I said to Marvin, my brother Goody, who is Hagler’s trainer, we were getting a third of his purse, and we would cut it down if he would take this fight, and he banged the table, Marvin did and said ‘I don’t know if I’m going to fight this punk, but if I do you better take one third.’ He was a hell of a guy, Marvin – he is a hell of a guy. Ray was great too. Ray, Tommy, Roberto – those four guys are examples for all fighters. They were terrific fighters and terrific people.

Q: Ray had an outgoing personality and a million dollar smile to match. How was Hagler?

ARUM: Hagler was the polar opposite. He was relatively introverted. He didn’t show his emotions particularly but I got to know him over the years extraordinarily well and he was a real man and he was the kind of guy that if you were in a war and in a foxhole you would want to be with a Marvelous Marvin Hagler. But he didn’t affect the personality – that really wasn’t him. He was true to himself. In other words, he would never have the personality of a Sugar Ray Leonard or even try to have that personality. He always was Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Ray – that personality was natural. If you speak today to Ray, it is the same bubbly smile and the same personality many years later. So these two guys were true to themselves.

Q: Where are they now?

ARUM: Hagler is still in Italy and has an Italian wife. Listen you guys – this is for the young guys, for the fighters - Marvelous Marvin Hagler never spent 5 cents in a casino. All the time I knew him he never bought me a meal. Every dollar that he made he put away in the bank so that when he retired he had all the money that he would need for the rest of his life. He kept that money and he lived off the interest and also money that he got for speaking engagements and so forth. He is a wealthy man today because he was so frugal with his money. Sugar Ray invested extraordinarily wisely. He is a very well to do guy. He is very active in charities. He lives a very good life. He has a wonderful family and I must say that both of these guys are extraordinarily happy people as their lives have turned out.

Q: Does Marvin still act?

ARUM: Well, he is getting to an age where he can’t play the gangster as well. I don’t know when they made their last ‘spaghetti western’ as they call it in Italy, but to listen to him speak Italian is hilarious. He speaks it with this American accent and it’s really funny.

Q: How hard did you try to get a rematch?

ARUM: I remember a year later at Caesars they were doing a big dinner to honor the fighters that had fought at Caesars and it was really a salute to boxing. At that dinner, Muhammad Ali was there and I was there, Ray, Marvin and Roberto Duran. Ray called me over and said “Bob, go speak to him (meaning Hagler) and say let’s do the rematch it will do a fortune of business.’ So I went over and talked to Marvin and said “Ray wants me to talk to you about a rematch.’ And Marvin looked at me with that scowl and said ‘tell that guy to get a life.’ That was it – we tried. Marvin was having no more of that.

How easy was it to sign the fight?

ARUM: Nothing is easy in boxing and nothing was easy then. The two guys, once we got Marvin on board, now we knew the fight was going to happen and Ray had a lawyer named Mike Trainer, who has passed away, and Trainer wanted Ray to control the promotion. So he said the fight would only happen if Top Rank – Marvin’s promoter – was not involved. Marvin and the Petronelli brothers, who were loyal guys, said they were not interested in fighting unless Top Rank promoted the fight. So as a result of that, Trainer said ‘OK, Arum buy us out for $11M which was a big sum at the time, and still is a big sum, but at that time it was enormous, and I agreed to do that and I paid Marvin on a percentage and Marvin earned $19 million for the fight and Ray Leonard will never let me forget that.

Do you think Ray changed the perception that now you only had to win rounds to win a fight?

ARUM: Well, the rules say that each round is scored separately and at the end of the fight the fighter that has the most rounds wins that judge's scorecard. The idea that a challenger has to do more than a champion to win a round or the fight is something that isn’t part of the rules – it’s a myth. You score the fight individually by rounds, period, anyone that says the challenger has to take away the title from the champion by doing appreciably more than the champion – that’s nonsense and contrary to the rules.

Q: But the perception?

ARUM: That’s the perception because people, journalists talk about this and it is fake opinion. It’s not in accordance with the rules. They love to write about it ‘well, the challenger didn’t do enough to win the title’ well he doesn’t have to do more to win, other than to win the majority of the rounds - that’s what the rules say.

Q: Can you think of another fight that has generated as much controversy?

ARUM: Close fights always generate controversy. The Kovalev-Ward fight – people swear that Kovalev won the fight and other people say Andre won the fight. That’s part of what makes boxing really interesting are the very close fights. The second De La Hoya-Mosley fight – I thought Oscar won that fight easily and Mosley got the decision and that was a lot of controversy. The first fight between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield – Lewis won that fight easily – they called it a draw. You know, that’s the nature of the thing - when you have three judges that view a fight subjectively.

Q: Sticking points to negotiations . . .

ARUM: Well, at that point we were transitioning from 15 rounds to 12 rounds and Marvin obviously wanted 15 rounds but agreed to 12 rounds. That really was the only concession that was made that was of any significance.

Q: The judge that scored the fight 118-110 for Leonard actually still judges fight believe it or not…

ARUM: Yes, but not in the United States – we built a wall to keep him out.

Q: Was that the worst scorecard you have ever seen?

ARUM: Just about the worst – that was ridiculous. The other two scorecards, those of Moretti and Fillippo, they were in the realm, the reasonable realm, but Marvin got cheated because they had that Mexican judge who was rumored to be connected to the organizations which favored Leonard.

Q: The fallout from that judge?

ARUM: Well, that’s right – everybody realized somehow there was something that smelled wrong and nobody in the United States would allow him to judge a fight again. I didn’t know that he was still around even. You’re the one that said he was judging fights – I didn’t know that. I never heard of him after that fight.

Q: He judges primarily in Mexico but he is 83 still judging…

ARUM: Probably now doing a great job since his eyes are failing him – probably getting close to what the real score is.

Q: Was there a fallout?

ARUM: There was an investigation by the Nevada commission about the scoring on that fight.

Martirosyan signs with Don King

Eight-time national champion and former Gold Gloves champion Vanes Norkovich Martirosyan has signed a promotional contract with Hall of Fame boxing promoter Don King.

“I’m thrilled to sign with the legendary Don King,” said Martirosyan. “I’m certain Don will guide my career in the right direction and in doing so, will get me another chance to become a world champion.”

The 30-year-Martirosyan, who hails from Glendale, California, has a professional record of 36-3-1 with 21 knockouts. He represented the United States in the 2004 Olympics.

His last fight was his third loss of his career as he lost a unanimous decision on May 21, 2016 to Erislandy Lara for the WBA and IBO light middleweight titles. Vanes had previously had a draw with Lara after an accidental head butt.

“Vanes Norkovich Martirosyan is an unbelievable fighter, who is knocking on the door to reach his goal of becoming a world champion,” said King. “He is in the prime of his boxing career and I’m excited to be working with Vanes and his team.”

Top Rank signs Fazliddin Gaibnazarov

Top Rank announced the signing of 2016 Olympic light welterweight gold medalist Fazliddin Gaibnazarov to an exclusive long-term promotional agreement.

“Gaibnazarov is a blue chip signing who will soon be a danger to everyone in the lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight divisions,” said Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum. “We can’t wait to introduce him properly to the world as a professional.”

Gaibnazarov, shrugging off significant height and reach disadvantages, stunned skillful Cuban-born opponent Lorenzo Sotomayor to pull off the upset, winning the gold via split decision.

Gaibnazarov is the seventh 2016 Olympian to join the Top Rank stable, which includes fellow gold medal champion Robson Conceicao, silver medalist Shakur Stevenson, and top amateurs Michael Conlan, Teofimo Lopez, Antonio Vargas, and Jeyvier Cintron. Managed by Egis Klimas, the Boxing Writers Association of America’s (BWAA) 2016 Manager of the Year, Gaibnazarov is expected to make his pro debut in an eight-round bout in the spring.

“Top Rank is the best promotional company in the world and I always want to be with the best,” said Gaibnazarov. “Thank you, Top Rank, and especially Bob Arum, for giving me this opportunity and letting me show and prove in the ring my ability to fight as a professional. I would like to thank my country Uzbekistan, which has an excellent amateur boxing program, and my trainer Abror, who helped me to reach one of my goals – winning Olympic gold last summer in Rio. I have many more goals as a professional and I know it will take a lot of hard work to achieve them – to become a world champion as a professional fighter. Thank you to my manager Egis Klimas, who is helping me with my professional boxer career. See you soon from the ring.”

Luis Ortiz to fight Derric Rossy on April 22

Unbeaten heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs) will return to the ring to take on Long Island’s Derric Rossy (31-12, 15 KOs) in a 10-round showdown Saturday, April 22 in a Premier Boxing Champions event live from Barclays Center.  The bout will be shown on Showtime.

“Age is nothing to me," said Ortiz. "So many fighters have competed into their late age. I still have a lot left in the tank."

The April 22 event is headlined by former world champions Andre Berto and Shawn Porter battling in a welterweight world title eliminator.  The card also features unbeaten super welterweight world champion Jermell Charlo defending against top contender Charles Hatley.

One of the most feared heavyweights in the world, Ortiz has worked his way into the WBA’s mandatory position to fight the winner of the Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko championship bout.

“I’m ready to fight right now," said Ortiz.  "I’m waiting for the opportunity to fight the winner of Anthony Joshua versus Wladimir Klitschko. They better get ready, because ‘King Kong’ will be waiting for them.

Rossy was a 2004 Golden Gloves champion and a defensive end for Boston College before turning pro in October 2004. Rossy owns victories over Axror Muralimov, Ray Mercer and Carl Drumond in addition to challenges top heavyweights Eddie Chambers, Vyacheslav Glazkov, and Bermane Stiverne. This will be the ninth undefeated fighter that Rossy will face in his pro career.

Boxing legend Thomas Hearns to participate in Box Fan Expo on May 6

Eight-time world champion Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns has been confirmed to participate in the third annual Box Fan Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Saturday, May 6.

Hearns returns to the ultimate fan experience at his Rock Jaw booth where he will be signing gloves, photos and selling merchandise. He joins the list of over 50 current and past World Champion boxers who have appeared at the Expo, meeting their fans in person.

Hearns is most famously known as "The Hitman," being the first boxer in the sports history to win world titles in four divisions. He also was the first fighter to win five world titles in five different divisions. Hearns was named Ring Magazine fighter of the year in 1980 and 1984 and is best known for his fights with Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, and Roberto Duran. He was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2012.

Thomas Hearns joins Kronk, WBC, Christy Martin, Mia St.John, Fernando Vargas, and Joel Casamayor among early commitments to this year’s Box Fan Expo.

Samuel Clarkson ready for Dmitry Bivol

Light heavyweight title challenger Samuel Clarkson says he’s in the shape of his life for his shot at Interim WBA Light Heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol on Friday, April 14.  The bout will be televised on Showtime.

Clarkson (19-3, 12 KOs) will face the undefeated Bivol (9-0, 7 KOs, 2-0 WSB) in the 12-round main event at MGM National Harbor in National Harbor, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C.  Known for his aggressive style, Bivol (9-0, 7 KOs, 2-0 WSB) was a prominent amateur who is now determined to make his mark in one of boxing’s toughest weight classes.

In the co-feature, undefeated welterweight prospects Juan Ruiz (18-0, 11 KOs) and Malik Hawkins (10-0, 7 KOs) will square off in an eight-round bout.

“I upped intensity 1000 times for this camp,” said Clarkson.  “I had better sparring, did more miles running and way more rounds doing bag work.  Everything I’ve done has been intense and we added a lot more into it.”

Clarkson did half his training in his home state of Texas and the second half in Brooklyn, where he has sparred with some well-known names.

“I’ve been working with guys like Sean Monaghan and Joe Smith Jr.," said Clarkson.  "I’ve had over 110 rounds of sparring since coming to Brooklyn.  I wanted to push my sparring to the max.  I’m not saying there isn’t competition in Dallas, but I wanted different looks and to be out of my comfort zone.  I got what I was looking for here.”

Clarkson says he can tell he’s in the shape of his life for this fight.

“I’m seeing new muscles,” said Clarkson, who has won nine straight fights.  “The power was already there, but my speed is great now too.  I will most definitely come in under weight.  We’ve put a lot of focus on weight this time.  The goal is to eat breakfast before weighing in.  I have kept on a very strict diet – my dad cooks everything and we’re eating right.  I’m ready for war.  I’m not afraid of this guy.  I’m ready to fight.”

Sullivan Barrera to fight on April 15

Cuban light heavyweight Sullivan Barrera (18-1, 13 KOs) will return to HBO Latino Boxing on Saturday, April 15, at Mohegan Sun's Uncas Ballroom against Paul "Pay Per View" Parker (8-1, 4 KOs) in a ten round fight.

When asked about the fight, Barrera said, "It is another step towards the ultimate goal of contending for a world title. My opponent is a very good boxer we have studied him in the gym and are ready for everything he will bring come April 15th."

Barrera will look to build on his thrilling knockout victory over previously unbeaten prospect Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, while the prospect Parker looks to make a statement in the biggest challenge of his career to date.

Parker, 32, has had an impressive career thus far since his professional debut in 2012. His only loss was a third-round TKO against Shabranskyy in June of 2015. He rebounded in early 2016 with an eight-round split decision victory over Lionell "Lonnie B" Thompson.

Parker said, "Well everyone thinks it's a risky fight, but where other see risk I see opportunity and I plan to capitalize on this opportunity."

In the televised co-feature, Russian slugger Arif Magomedov (18-1, 11 KOs) will take on Mexican prospect Elias Espadas (13-3, 8 KOs) in a ten-round middleweight showdown.

David Lemieux makes quick return to ring

Less than two months after delivering the top knockout of 2017, Canadian knockout artist David Lemieux (37-3, 33 KOs) will return in a 10-round fight against Marco Reyes (35-4, 26 KOs) as the chief support to the highly anticipated battle between Canelo Álvarez and Julio Cesar Chávez, Jr. on Saturday, May 6. The event will be shown live on HBO Pay-Per-View.

The hard-hitting Lemieux is riding a three-fight winning streak and was last seen delivering a thunderous third-round knockout of the highly touted Curtis "Cerebral Assassin" Stevens that has put the Canadian directly back into the title picture.

"I'm thankful to have the opportunity of being part of this event during the Cinco de Mayo celebrations," Lemieux said. "I think I was able to send a clear message on March 11 with my performance against Stevens and I intend to do the same on May 6. I want to make sure that everyone understands that David Lemieux is making his way towards the top and that he intends to stay there."

Reyes, a 29-year-old former WBC FECOMBOX middleweight champion, has knocked out 25 opponents and went toe-to-toe with Chavez, Jr., in a unanimous decision defeat that many spectators had closer than what came up on the scorecards.

"I know everyone is talking about the Lemieux knockout, but I'm ready to take him out," Reyes said. "With my Mexican fans supporting me on Cinco de Mayo weekend, I'm ready to turn Lemieux's lights out."

Jason Quigley earns decision win over Glen Tapia

Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN debuted with a bang Thursday night as rising middleweight contender Jason Quigley (13-0, 10 KOs) took home the NABF middleweight championship, earning a hard-fought 10-round unanimous decision over a game Glen "Jersey Boy" Tapia (23-4, 15 KOs) in the main event before a sold out crowd at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino.

"I'm taking this little bambino [NABF belt] home with me, to my people in Donegal, Ireland, and celebrate with my loved ones," said Quigley. "Then when I come back, I'm going to celebrate with my team. Everyone here has been on my team since my performance on the Canelo-Lara undercard, and this is a stepping stone to many more belts that are coming my way."

"I felt slow and sluggish this fight," said Tapia. "I feel like I didn't even get to do to him what I trained in camp for. I was able to put pressure on him and hurt him a couple of times. This was not my best performance."

In the co-main event, former IBF Bantamweight World Champion Randy "El Matador" Caballero (24-0, 14 KOs) came back from a lengthy layoff in superb style, winning the NABF Super Bantamweight championship by out slugging Jesus "Estrella" Ruiz (35-8-5, 24 KOs) of Nogales, Mexico over 10 rounds.

"This was the absolute best way to come back," Caballero said. "My goal is to become a world champion, and Golden Boy knows that. With the new NABF title, and coming back with that performance, I'm on a high right now. My opponent was tough, but I stayed calm, and was able to come out on top."

IBF number one middleweight contender Tureano Johnson (20-1, 14 KOs) maintained his status with a second round knockout victory over Fabiano Pena (16-7-1, 13 KOs). Johnson returned to the ring putting in solid bodywork on his opponent, who hit the mat twice during the second round. Pena's corner stopped the fight during the second round, awarding the technical knock out victory to Johnson at the 2:38 mark.

"I was pretty anxious to enter the ring after such a long absence, but I was reminded by my team that I am the IBF #1 ranked middleweight contender," said Johnson. "Being absent for so long for my rotator cuff was not ideal, and I know that injuries happen, but now that we got this fight out of the way and we shook out the nerves a bit. I am ready to take on the big guys out there and demonstrate that I am still someone to fear in this division."

Golden Boy signs Romero Duno

Golden Boy Promotions announced that it has signed WBC Youth Intercontinental Lightweight Champion and knockout artist Romero Duno (13-1, 12 KOs) to a multi-year promotional contract.

"We saw Romero's power in the ring-he is the real deal," said Golden Boy Promotions Chairman and CEO Oscar De La Hoya. "He has exceptional power, along with the talent and desire to be a great fighter. He could be the next big boxing star from the Phillipines as time is on his side, and I'm pleased he chose Golden Boy to introduce him to a wider audience in the U.S."

Duno, of General Santos City, Phillipines, was last seen in the ring at the March 10 edition of LA Fight Club where he scored a second round knockout of Christian "Chimpa" Gonzalez (16-1, 14 KOs) to claim the WBC Youth Intercontinental Lightweight title in his U.S. debut before a sold out crowd at the Belasco Theater.

"I am very thankful to Golden Boy Promotions for giving me a chance to showcase my talent on the big stage," said Duno. "I also want to thank my team Sanman Boxing for believing in me. I still cant believe that this is happening to me, God is good."

At just the age of 21, Duno has accumulated an impressive record that represents his speed and skill as a knockout artist with three of his last four wins coming by way of stoppage.

Fonfara heads back to gym after Dawson win

WBC #7 light-heavyweight contender, Andrzej Fonfara (29-4, 17 KOs), is back in the Bay Area training with Virgil Hunter.  After scoring a technical knockout in his last fight against former world champion, Chad Dawson (34-5, 19 KOs), Fonfara is ready for the next challenge as he looks to get back into a world title fight.

"I took a few weeks off to rest my body, but now I'm ready to get back in the gym training with Virgil Hunter," said Fonfara. "I'm making the proper sacrifices, coming to California with no fight date, because I know in this sport your name can be called at any time."

Shumenov to fight April 29

Cruiserweight world champion Beibut Shumenov (17-2, 11 KOs) will meet interim cruiserweight champion Yunier Dorticos (21-0, 20 KOs) in the main event, and WBA Interim Featherweight Champion Carlos Zambrano (26-0, 11 KOs) defends his title against once-beaten contender Claudio Marrero (21-1, 15 KOs) in a special Saturday night edition of Premier Boxing Champions on FS1 and FOX Deportes, April 29 from Sam's Town Live in Las Vegas.

"I've been in the gym working hard since my last fight,'' said Shumenov. "I have been ready this entire time to defend my belt against anyone who is willing to step up. Denis Lebedev wanted to fight anyone but me, and Dorticos disappeared after I signed the bout agreement to fight him February 11th in Miami. I am glad that, after many fight date changes, the fight is finally here on April 29. "

A native of Shymkent, Kazakhstan, Shumenov looks to build on a strong start to his campaign at cruiserweight after picking up a title against B.J. Flores in July 2015 and defending the belt with a TKO victory over Junior Wright last year. The 2004 Olympian for Kazakhstan won a world title at light heavyweight by defeating Gabriel Campillo in Las Vegas in 2010.

Fighting out of Miami by way of Havana, Cuba, Dorticos is unbeaten since turning pro in 2009 after a decorated amateur career. Dorticos won a regional cruiserweight title over previously unbeaten Hamilton Ventura in 2014 and continued his ascent to a world title with victories over Edison Miranda, Galen Brown and Fulgencio Zuniga. He won his interim title with a stoppage victory over Youri Kalenga in one of the most exciting fights of 2016.

By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services

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