Rugged Cameroon native Sakio Bika will face unbeaten Nikola Sjekloca of Montenegro for the WBC’s interim super middleweight belt on the Feb. 16 undercard of a main event featuring WBC lightweight beltholder Adrien “The Problem” Broner against Gavin Rees of Wales at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, according to Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer.
Bika (30-5-2, 21 knockouts), who resides in Los Angeles, has lost decisions to super middleweight champion Andre Ward, Lucian Bute and Joe Calzaghe, and fallen by controversial first-round disqualification when he hit Jean Paul Mendy while he was down.
Sjekloca has a record of 25-0 with seven knockouts, but is taking a major step up against Bika, who is after his third straight stoppage victory.
Schaefer said the Bika-Sjekloca fight came to fruition in the wake of Ward’s recent announcment that impending surgery to repair his injured right shoulder had forced the cancelation of his March 2 defense against former undisputed middleweight titleholder Kelly Pavlik.
“It may not be televised, but maybe they’ll show highlights,” said Schaefer. “They will fight for the WBC’s interim-belt because Ward is injured. Vicente Escobedo is going to fight on that card as well.”
Escobedo (26-4, 15 KOs), 31, will be back in the ring for the first time since being stopped in the fifth round by Broner in July, the first loss by knockout of his career.
Meanwhile, Broner (25-0, 21 KOs) will pursue his sixth straight stoppage victory against former titleholder Rees (37-1-1, 18 KOs), who is 10-0-1, with five knockouts since losing via 12th-round stoppage to Andreas Kotelnik in March of 2008.
Mitchell was dropped three times during his second-round stoppage loss to Banks on the undercard of Broner’s eighth-round knockout that dethroned Antonio DeMarco in November, ending Mitchell’s winning streak of 23 consecutive victories, 18 of which were knockouts, including the past 10 straight.
On Jan. 26, Schaefer said that Philadelphia’s Henry Lundy (22-2-1, 11 KOs) has been replaced by Mike Dallas Jr. (19-2-1), of Bakersfield, Calif., as opponent for THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse (32-2, 30 KOs), of Argentina.
Matthysse-Dallas will be part of a Showtime-televised triple-header that will also feature once-beaten welterweight Selcuk Aydin (23-1, 17 KOs) against Jesus Soto Karass, and junior middleweights Jermell Charlo (19-0, 9 KOs) and Harry Joe Yorgey (25-1-1, 12 KOs) in an intriguing clash — all from The Joint at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
On Feb. 9, from Barclays Center, former champ Zab Judah will challenge RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight champ Danny Garcia (25-0, 16 KOs), with the undercard bouts to include the first defense by WBO middleweight beltholder Peter Quillin (28-0, 20 KOs) against Fernando Guerrero (25-1, 19 KOs), and 160-pound prospect Danny Jacobs (24-1, 21 KOs) against an opponent to be determined, potentially as a 154-pounder.
On the Showtime Extreme portion on Feb. 9, Brooklyn’s Dmitry Salita (30-1-1, 18 KOs) will fight at 152 pounds opposite Hector Camacho Jr. in an event that will “somehow have a tribute to Hector Camacho Sr. as well,” said Schaefer, referring to the boxer who died in November.
Alexander-Brook is to be complimented by an IBF junior middleweight title defense by Cornelius Bundrage against veteran Ishe Smith as well as a third fight intended to be announced “within the next week or so,” according to Schaefer.
“It’s going to be a helluva fight, and it’s the perfect location in New York’s Spanish Harlem,” said Schaefer. “If you have to pick a location for that fight, you can’t get better than that.”
The Ponce de Leon-Velez undercard will feature unbeaten lightweight contender Sharif “The Lion” Bogere (23-0, 15 KOs) and Richard Abril (17-3-1, 8 KOs) in a clash for the WBA’s belt. Bogere suffered a partial tear of his left Achilles tendon that forced him out of November’s scheduled bout against Abril.
In addition, Schaefer said that featherweight Gary Russell Jr. (21-0, 13 KOs) could fight on the Ponce de Leon-Velez card.
With a victory, Hopkins, who will turn 48 in January, would extend his own record as the oldest man to win a significant crown, a feat the Philadelphia native accomplished at the age of 46 with a unanimous decision over Jean Pascal for the WBC’s light heavyweight belt in May of last year.
The fight is likely to be approved providing that the winner of Hopkins-Cloud agrees to make his first defense against IBF mandatory challenger Karo Murat (25-1-1, 15 KOs), of Germany, who is 3-0-1 with two knockouts since being stopped in September of 2010 by current WBO beltholder Nathan Cleverly (25-0, 12 KOs).
Schaefer said Hopkins-Cloud could also feature the return of welterweight contender Keith Thurman (19-0, 18 KOs) against an opponent to be determined. Thurman is coming off a fourth-round stoppage of former WBO 147-pound beltlholder Carlos Quintana on Nov. 24, scoring his eighth consecutive knockout the day after his 24th birthday.
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Pat Lovell, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Photo by Esther Lin, Showtime
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org