Cancer survivor Anthony Dirrell’s world changed when he left the ring at StubHub Center as the newly-crowned WBC super middleweight titleholder following his unanimous decision over Sakio Bika on Saturday.
A switch-hitting native of Flint, Mich., who turns 30 in October, Dirrell (27-0-1, 22 knockouts) dominated Bika (32-6-3, 21 KOs). Dirrell made good on his vow to duplicate the effort of fellow cancer survivor Daniel Jacobs, who stopped middleweight rival Jarrod Fletcher in the fifth round on Aug. 9.
Jacobs worked as a ringside commentator on Saturday for Dirrell’s return bout with Bika, whom Dirrell had dropped in the fifth round of their draw in December.
“Of course, I got a response from Danny that night and everything. He told me, ‘Good job,’ and that he was very proud of me,” said Dirrell. “I feel the same way about him. I have been doing a lot of interviews since that night. It’s been non-stop interviews and stuff like that. But I knew that would happen. I’m prepared for it because I knew that I was going to win this belt.
“On social media, it’s been ridiculous. It’s been blowing up, non-stop. I just think that the fans see a true champion. This means a lot of things to a lot of people. I guess that they respect a man who can overcome what I overcame, which is enduring cancer to become a champion. They’re giving me love since I won the title that night, and I really appreciate it.”
Dirrell said that he plans to go on a vacation with his 2-year-old son, Anthony Jr., as well as his fiancee, Shodrika Williams.
“I’m just going to relax and soak all of this moment, right now. I haven’t given any thought to who I want to fight next,” said Dirrell, who is advised by Al Haymon. “I haven’t even thought about boxing. After taking that vacation, we’ll sit down with the team and we’ll talk about what’s next.”
OSCAR DE LA HOYA: ‘I WOULD LIKE TO WELCOME JAY-Z AND ROC NATION’
On Monday, Roc Nation Sports, the company founded by rapper Jay-Z, won a purse bid to promote Peter Quillin’s WBO middleweight title defense against Matt Korobov that is being targeted for Nov. 8 in either Washington, D.C., or New York City.
The winning bid was made by former Golden Boy Promotions COO David Itskowitch, who was recently hired by Roc Nation, with Quillin’s promoter, Golden Boy coming in second and Korobov’s promoter, Top Rank Promotions coming in third.
On Tuesday, Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya praised Roc Nation on his Twitter account, writing, “On behalf of @GoldenBoyBoxing I would like to welcome Jay Z and @RocNation to the wonderful sport of boxing.”
Itskowitch bid $1,904,840 compared to $1,207,000 by Golden Boy representative Ramiro Gonzalez and $515,000 by Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti, according to Jose Izquierdo, general secretary of the WBO.
SAM SOLIMAN-JERMAIN TAYLOR CONFIRMED FOR OCT. 8 ON ESPN 2
Former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor will challenge IBF 160-pounder Sam Soliman on Oct. 8 on ESPN 2 at a site to be determined, Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing informed RingTV.com on Tuesday.
An Australian who turns 41 in November, Soliman (44-11, 18 KOs) won the title in his last fight in May by unanimous decision over Felix Sturm before the latter’s partisan fans in Germany.
Sturm represented the ninth straight victory for Soliman during a run that includes five knockouts, as well as his second in 15 months over Sturm, who lost a unanimous decision to Soliman in February 2013 before the result became a no-contest after Soliman tested positive for a banned substance. Soliman won his first-ever major title belt against Sturm.
In his last fight in December, Taylor (32-4-1, 20 KOs) ended a 14-month ring absence with a seventh-round technical knockout over Juan Carlos Candelo, whom he dropped in the final round.
The only fighter that can claim two victories over Bernard Hopkins, Taylor turned 36 on Aug. 11 and will be after his fifth straight victory against Soliman. Prior to facing Candelo, Taylor had not fought since stopping Raul Munoz in the second round in October 2012.
ANDRE BERTO TO FACE STEVE UPSHER CHAMBERS ON SEPT. 6
Andre Berto will end a 13-month ring absence against Steve Upsher Chambers on Sept. 6 as part of a Showtime tripleheader from the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.
A two-time welterweight titlewinner who turns 31 in September, Berto (28-3, 22 knockouts) will face Upsher Chambers (24-3-1, 6 KOs) on a card co-headlined by the Adrien Broner-Emmanuel Taylor and Lucas Matthysse-Roberto Ortiz junior welterweight bouts in Broner’s hometown of Cincinnati.
On Aug. 7, Berto announced his return to full-time training from shoulder surgery. Last August 2013, Berto had surgery to repair a ruptured subscapularis (under the shoulder blade) tendon that he suffered during a 12th-round stoppage loss to Jesus Soto Karass in July 2013. The most recent surgery had followed a previous one to repair a ruptured left biceps in February 2012.
Berto has lost three of his past four fights. In succession, Berto fell by unanimous decision to Victor Ortiz in April 2011, stopped Jan Zaveck in the fifth round in September 2011, and lost by unanimous decision to Robert Guerrero in November 2012 before facing Soto Karass.
Upsher Chambers, 29, has lost his past two fights by unanimous decision to ex-beltholder Luis Collazo in October 2012 and by fourth-round stoppage to junior middleweight Eddie Gomez last August.
TOM LOEFFLER: GENNADY GOLOVKIN VS. JULIO CESAR CHAVEZ JR., CARL FROCH, ANDRE WARD
Representatives from the camps of WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin (30-0, 27 KOs) and RING super middleweight champion Andre Ward (27-0, 14 KOs) have gone back and forth recently regarding what it would take to make a fight between the two.
Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, said that his fighter has surpassed Ward from a marketability standpoint, arguing that Ward has lost bargaining power toward being the upside in a match-up between the boxers.
“A couple of weeks ago, they put to rest whether or not they would move up or down to fight. Andre Ward will fight anyone. The reality is that I don’t think that these guys really want to fight him. There’s nobody even two weight classes above or two weight classes below that could even win a round against Andre at this point, let alone beat him, and they know that,” said Dubin, in part.
“If they want to make the fight, they know there is a ton of money in the fight. They know what they need to do to make the fight. Andre would be maybe somewhat flexible to come down to make the fight but why don’t they come up to fight for the super middleweight title? We’re perfectly willing and able to do it. On behalf of Andre Ward, that’s our statement.”
In response, Ward’s attorney, Josh Dubin, countered that Ward is the bigger draw based on viewership numbers, even as he said that Ward is “perfectly willing and able” to make a fight with Golovkin.
In the latest discussion, Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, addressed the notion of which bouts would be the most lucrative among those involving Ward, former middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. of Mexico, or IBF 168-pound titleholder Carl Froch of England, whom Ward has already beaten.
“The fact is that whenever I talk about Andre, I always want to emphasize that we have a lot of respect for him and for what he’s accomplished. I just think that Gennady has a lot more momentum going on with his career, and Abel feels the same way. But that’s not taking anything away from Andre Ward. When people ask if he would fight Gennady, he says, ‘Yeah,'” said Loeffler.
“If people ask us if we would fight Andre Ward, we will say, ‘Yeah, if it would make sense.’ I think that the distinction that we’re trying to make is that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is clearly a pay per view fight. Carl Froch in England would draw large numbers of people in England. It’s just a different scenario moving up to 168. Gennady would want to move up for an exceptional type of fight, and, I think that Andre’s an exceptional fighter, but it’s just not an exceptional fight at this point. That’s the thing.”
Meanwhile, a deal is close for Golovkin to pursue his 12th defense and his 18th straight knockout victory against Marco Antonio Rubio on Oct. 18 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
MARCOS MAIDANA ON MAYWEATHER: ‘HE’S HITTABLE’
Marcos Maidana (35-4, 31 KOs) plans to be more physical than he was in the first fight with Mayweather (46-0, 26 KOs) when they fight on Sept. 13 at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the Argentine boxer told a group of reporters at StubHub Center on Saturday.
Maidana said that Mayweather, THE RING welterweight champion, won the second half of their initial bout due to his own fatigue.
“I’ve had a little more time to prepare for this fight so this time I’m going to be ready. Minor changes, but not too much else. Mayweather can obviously change and get better, but I can change and get better too. The only thing he can do is box and that’s what he did in the first fight. He was moving a lot. What is he going to do? Move more?”
In the end, Maidana wants to win, and to do so by stoppage.
“I’m always looking for the knockout, and if I can’t get it, I’m going to win by decision. It would be the best thing in my career, because I would be the first person to beat him. I fight for glory. Obviously, my future is secure. But part of me fighting still is because I want to win,” said Maidana.
“I want to beat Mayweather. I never thought that he would give me the rematch. But when he decided to, I was surprised. This is the first time in my career that I’m doing a rematch. It can be a little bit of both. You can argue that it can be hard, but at the same time we know each other so it can be easier.”
LEO SANTA CRUZ FACING FAMILIAR FOE IN MANUEL ROMAN
WBC junior featherweight titleholder Leo Santa Cruz (27-0-1, 15 KOs) is coming off consecutive unanimous decision victories over Cesar Seda in December and Cristian Mijares in March.
On the undercard of Mayweather-Maidana II, Santa Cruz, 25, will be facing an opponent he is familiar with, if not, a friend, in Manuel Roman (17-2-3, 6 KOs).
“We used to spar a lot, and he has good technique, but not a lot of people know him,” said Santa Cruz of Roman, 26, a winner of two straight since falling to Randy Caballero by unanimous decision in August 2012. “He’s a good friend, but this is business. Once we’re up there we have go out there and give it our best.”
GLYN LEACH REMEMBERED BY RINGTV.COM’S TOM GRAY
Glyn Leach, editor and proud owner of Boxing Monthly magazine in the UK, has tragically passed away at the age of 52. One of the most honest and hardworking professionals in British boxing circles, Leach began working for the popular publication in 1989, and was appointed editor three years later.
Leach eventually bought the magazine, and became known, and respected, by the boxing fraternity for the refreshing no nonsense approach which laced his editorials. If it had to be said, Leach said it and never took a backward step.
Leach was self-taught as a journalist and accomplished remarkable things by utilizing an innate and powerful work ethic. Still, he was never too busy to help aspiring writers and it is that quality, along with implacable dedication and integrity, for which he will be most fondly remembered.
Note: Glyn Leach segment written by Tom Gray
MAYWEATHER’S BACK TO SCHOOL GIVEAWAY A SUCCESS
Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe and several fighters were among those on hand during last Saturday’s charity event at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas.
Throughout the event, there were hundreds of school supplies given to children and their familes in the Las Vegas area, including 500 backpacks filled with grade appropriate school supplies.
There was also a raffle for five laptops as well as a donation of five desktop computers to the Clark County School District’s after school program.
Boxers in attendance included former titleholder Ishe Smith and lightweight contender Mickey Bey, the latter of whom will meet IBF beltholder Miguel Vazquez on the undercard of Mayweather-Maidana II.
Also present were boxers J’Leon Love, Badou Jack, Ladarius Miller, Andrew Tabiti, Ashley Theophane, Lanell Bellows and Luis Arias, all of whom will be fighting on Aug. 30 at the Pearl at the Palms Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
“We relish this opportunity to give back to children and families in the Las Vegas community,” said Ellerbe. “This is our community, and putting on these kind of events is what Mayweather Promotions is all about.”
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