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If Billy Joe Saunders Is Serious, Then He Should Fight Golovkin Next

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WBO World Middleweight Champion Billy Joe Saunders has an April 30th title defense coming up against Max Bursak at the Copper Box in London. For Saunders, it will be the first defense of the belt he took from Andy Lee back in December of last year and he enters the fight a wide -1200 betting favorite, with Bursak returning at +775.

Should Billy Joe Saunders get by this April date with his belt as expected, Saunders could see himself coming in right behind division top-guns Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin at the top of the Middleweight division. Saunders will be a man with options, some very lucrative, and it will be interesting to see in which direction he goes.

Saunders is 23-0 and at 26 years old he has a bright future. For the American public who may not be too familiar with Saunders, he comes from a similar “traveler” family background as Tyson Fury, and he represented Great Britain at the 2008 London Olympics. He has a good following in England, and as such, he will likely defend the belt at home on most occasions, drawing the opponents in with the promise of a payday.

In the build up to the upcoming Bursak fight, Saunders has been talking about facing Gennady Golovkin sometime in the summer. If he is serious, the fight will likely go down because a fight in the United Kingdom is going to be very lucrative for Golovkin. But Saunders has talked Golovkin before. Though the American market still commands the most attention and respect and dishes out the biggest paydays, the British market has several factors that allow it to compete including a much more fervent, die hard audience, the access to 80,000 seat soccer stadiums and the strength of the pound. For a one time deal, Golovkin could make a fortune.

Even before Saunders' recent chatter, during the build-up to the match with Andy Lee that saw Saunders emerge with the world title, Saunders’ already had a reputation as a “talker”. He is not quite as brash as Tyson Fury, but that is the type of confidence Saunders has in what he does. That he is still completely unproven on a world level does not appear to faze him.

WBA World Middleweight Champion Daniel Jacobs attended the Saunders-Lee fight, and had Lee won, a showdown with Jacobs was considered practically a done deal. Saunders deserves credit for spoiling Lee’s party, but Saunders rarely mentioned Jacobs as a potential dance partner in the aftermath. Jacobs last fought four months ago, and he has nothing on the schedule to this day. He also ranked ahead of Saunders by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a match between the two would introduce Saunders to the American market. Billy Joe however, does not seem interested.

Though he doesn’t have much to say about Jacobs, he did call out Golovkin after winning the belt. It was enough to get the Kazakh head-hunter's attention, but Saunders quickly made himself irrelevant by asking for 5 million pounds and Golovkin opted for his mandatory challenge against Dominic Wade on April 23rd. Saunders signed to fight Bursak, and the rest is history.

Until this past week when Saunders went ahead and mentioned Golovkin again. The appeal of a fight in England, champion vs champion, could potentially fill a stadium and would certainly be a big draw. The summer date with Golovkin was on Saunders' mind. Is he serious, or is he just talking?

Saunders will have choices. A re-match with rival Chris Eubank Jr would be big money, and Eubank Jr brings with him an “interim” belt to his WBO belt. The first bout resulted in a narrow split decision win for Saunders, who faired better in the early going before fading so the second generation fighter is most certainly a threat. Still, he is no Golovkin.

There was no real reason to bring up Golovkin’s name yet again, especially if Saunders is not serious about fighting him. The bottom line is Golovkin is the top gun in the division and Saunders has the capability of drawing him into a fight on his home turf. No one else has that advantage, and Saunders has talked about invoking it.

Interestingly, the date of Triple G’s next fight is a week before Saunders fights with Bursak, which would leave their calendars in synchronicity for an August or September showdown. Now Saunders has to take it beyond talk or risk turning into the British version of Juergen Braehmer. He has to make the fight happen.

 

 

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Results and Recaps from Philly where ‘Boots’ Ennis Stomped Out David Avanesyan

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PHILADELPHIA, PA — On what Matchroom Boxing Promotions called the most important night in Philadelphia boxing in over 40 years, Jaron “Boots” Ennis (32-0, 29 KOs), the current IBF welterweight champion from the city of Brotherly Love, attracted a larger-than-expected crowd of 14,119 to the Wells Fargo Center where he stopped David Avanesyan who was pulled out after five rounds. In Avanesyan (30-5-1, 18 KOs), Ennis looked to impress on two fronts, both commercially and critically.

It didn’t take long for there to be some excitement after Ennis landed a clean jab that caused Avanesyan to stagger momentarily. Ennis turned southpaw and the action stopped after Ennis landed a low blow. Rounds two and three saw both fighters decide to fight on the inside. Ennis was able to land crisp upper cuts while only getting hit with a few shots in exchange. After four rounds, the evidence was clear that Avanesyan was getting hit with clean shots as his face started to get busted up. Avanesyan had a moment when he landed a right hand that got the attention of the crowd and Ennis.

In return, Ennis continued to press forward, this time behind a straight left and combinations. A huge overhand left floored Avanesyan who rose to his feet. Round five ended with Ennis landing some clean power shots that had Avanesyan looking deflated. The ringside physician called an end to the fight after the conclusion of round five.

After the fight, Ennis agreed that he would love the opportunity to fight Terence Crawford if Crawford were to win next month, this despite not having the type of performance that he would have loved to have had after having a year-long lay-off. Eddie Hearn mentioned that he would love to have Ennis return to Philadelphia sometime in October or November if the Crawford fight can’t be made in a possible unification fight.

Other Bouts

After three pedestrian rounds, what sounded like it would be a grudge match between Jahlil Hackett (9-0, 7 KOs) and Pete Dobson (16-2) finally turned into a fight in the fourth. With both fighters finally warming up, Hackett used his jab to continue to work his way inside to land power combinations. Dobson was forced to back up into the ropes and take shots after a large lump formed on his forehead above his left eye.

The action settled down after the sixth round with Hackett taking total control. He continued to work behind an educated jab that stunted any offensive attack that Dobson tried to muster. After all ten rounds, two of the judges saw the fight 97-93, while the third had it 96-94 all in favor of Jahlil Hackett.

Skye Nicolson (11-0, 1 KO), the 2020 Tokyo Olympian and current WBC featherweight champion, utilized her skills in every way to defeat Dayan Vargas (18-2, 12 KOs). All three judges scored the fight 100-90 after Nicolson completed the shutout in dominating fashion through her command of range with a sharp jab and lateral movement. Moving forward unification fights and a possible move up in weight may force Nicolson to face the type of opposition that could make for more entertaining fights in the future.

Light heavyweight action kicked off the main portion of the DAZN telecast. Jersey City native Khalil Coe (9-0-1, 7 KOs) made short work of Kwame Ritter (11-2). After an uneventful first round, Coe started to close the distance to start the second round and as a result he landed a hard straight right that hurt Ritter. A left hook dropped Ritter and he fell backwards into the ropes. When he got up, Coe was able to swarm him with hard shots and the referee called a halt to the action with just one second remaining in the second round.

Former world title challenger Christopher “Pitufu” Diaz (29-4, 19 KOs) made quick work of the game but clearly overmatched Derlyn Hernandez (12-2-1). A short-left hook hurt Hernandez and the seasoned Diaz took his time applying the follow-up pressure that forced the referee to wave off the action at the 2:36 mark of the second round. Diaz stated prior to this comeback fight that he’s looking for one more run towards a world title.

Christian Carto (23-1, 17 KO’s) looked impressive in three rounds of action against Carlos Buitrago (38-14, 22 KOs). Both fighters were happy to exchange from the opening bell. Carto took the punches he was hit with well and was able to return fire with combinations that caught and dropped Buitrago to start round three. A series of well-placed power combinations hurt Buitrago as the round came to an end, which prompted the referee to stop the bout at the end of the round.

A pair of Boots Promotions fighters kicked off the night with entertaining bouts:

It took all six rounds to decide the Ismail Muhammad (5-0, 1 KOs) Frank Brown (3-5-2) fight. Brown pressed the action early and caught the cold Muhammad in an exchange knocking him down for the first time in his career. Muhammad rose to his feet and proceeded to work the gameplan to get himself back into the fight. Muhammad scored his own knockdown in the fourth round and finished the fight strong to earn the unanimous decision victory by scores of 58-54 twice and 57-55.

Dennis Thompson (1-0) won his professional debut at bantamweight with a unanimous decision over the game Fernando Valdez (1-8).

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Muratalla Nips Farmer and Segawa Upsets Villa on a Top Rank Card in Las Vegas

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Fontana, California lightweight Raymond Muratalla, ranked #2 by the WBC and WBA and #4 by the IBF, continued his charge toward a world title with a hard-fought 10-round decision over Philadelphia southpaw Tevin Farmer on a Top Rank card at the Palms in Las Vegas tonight. The judges had it 97-92, 96-93, and 95-94. There were no knockdowns but referee Tom Taylor deducted a point from Farmer in round eight for excessive holding.

Farmer, 33, formerly held the IBF junior lightweight title. He lost the belt in his fifth defense to Jojo Diaz in 2020 and was out of the ring for the next 29 months. He won three straight after returning to the ring, elevating his record to 33-5-1 (8) preceding tonight’s tussle with Muratalla.

Farmer fought mostly off his back foot but was seemingly ahead after seven frames. But Muratalla, who improved to 21-0 (16), had more fuel in his tank and clearly got the best of the late rounds. He landed the best punch of the fight with a shade over a minute remaining in the final stanza, catching Farmer against the ropes and rocking him with a looping right hand.

Co-Feature

In a major upset, Sulaiman Segawa, a 33-year-old southpaw from Silver Spring, Maryland, by way of Uganda, out-worked Ruben Villa to win a 10-round unanimous decision and snatch away Villa’s regional featherweight title. The judges had it 98-92, 97-93, and 96-94.

Villa came in ranked #1 at 126 by WBC. He had lost only once in 23 starts, that coming in a WBA title fight vs. Emanuel Navarrete, a narrow defeat. Among his victims were reigning IBF featherweight champion Luis “Venado: Lopez. He was a consensus 14/1 favorite over Segawa who was 16-4-1 with only six knockouts coming in. But Villa fell behind early and although he had his moments, he didn’t punch hard enough to keep the Ugandan from staying the course.

Other Bouts of Note

In his first fight at 140 pounds, Brisbane, California’s Charlie Sheehy won an unpopular 8-round decision over SoCal’s Ricardo Quiroz. The judges had it 78-74 and 77-73 twice.

Sheehy (10-0, 5 KOs) was underwhelming. Quiroz (13-5) has been repeatedly matched tough and has never been stopped.

In a junior lightweight match, Jonathan “Geo” Lopez, a 21-year-old Pennsylvania native of Puerto Rican descent, trained by Eddy Reynoso, improved to 16-0 (12 KOs) first a first-round demolition of Venezuela’s Leonardo Padilla (23-6-1). Lopez, who defeated the likes of Xander Zayas and Abdullah Mason in the amateurs, knocked Padilla sideways and through the ropes with a body punch. Padilla slumped to his knees when he was extricated and was counted out at the 1:43 mark. “Geo” is a fighter who bears watching.

Albert “Chop Chop” Gonzales, a 22-year-old SoCal super featherweight, used an effective body punch to wear down and stop Texas campaigner Conrado Martinez. The end came at the 1:43 mark of the sixth and final round. Trained by Robert Garcia, Chop Chop improved to 9-0 (5 KOs). Martinez falls to 9-2.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

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‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez Delights the Home Folks: TKOs Barrera in 10

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Former pound-for-pound king Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez retuned to the ring last night (Friday, July 12) after a 19-month absence and scored a 10th-round TKO of Colombia’s Rober Barrera. The match was staged in the sports arena named for Alexis Arguello in the old town district of Managua. It was a homecoming for Chocolatito who was making his first start in his native Nicaragua since February of 2015 and making his debut as a bantamweight. He previously held titles at 105, 108, 112, and 115.

Barrera was 27-5 heading in, but his last three wins came against opponents who were a combined 12-55-4, suggesting he would be easy meat for the hometown hero. But the Colombian proved to be a lot tougher than expected. He wasn’t afraid to exchange with Gonzalez but was gradually worn down. He slumped to the canvas after taking a left to the rib cage in round eight and was felled by a combination in the next frame. Referee Ramon Gonzalez was remiss in not stopping the fight sooner. The official time was 0.51 of the 10th and final round.

Chocolatito Gonzalez (pictured on the left next to Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez after a sparring session at the Garcia Boxing Academy in Riverside, CA) turned 37 in June. That’s an advanced age for a prizefighter, in particular a prizefighter who competes in one of the smallest weight classes and Chocolatito began his boxing career in the very smallest class.

In October of 2015, he was elevated to #1 pound-pound-pound by The Ring magazine and also by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, displacing long-reigning king Floyd Mayweather. Chocolatito was then 43-0 with 37 KOs and competing in the flyweight (112-pound) class. Since then, Gonzalez is 9-4, losing twice to Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (L MD 12; L KO 4) and twice to Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada (L SD 12; L MD 12).

Scottish boxing historian Matt McGrain, writing about Chocolatito’s “coronation” at the top of the P-F-P list, had this to say: “[Gonzalez] is the antithesis of Floyd…a destroyer who does not seek to hit and not be hit, but rather to hit, hit, hit…he breaks people.”

There were shades of the 2015 version of Gonzalez tonight. He still throws punches in bunches, but he also gets hit more often than he would have earlier in his career. Now a veteran of 22 world title fights who has answered the bell as a pro for 305 rounds, he would be wise to call it a career and rest on his laurels.

But he won’t and his next fight will inevitably be a bantamweight title fight in Japan. In an unprecedented development, all four of the belt-holders at 118 are Japanese: Junto Nakatani (WBC), Takuma Inoue (WBA), Ryosuke Nishida (IBF), and Toshiki Takei (WBO). On top of that, Chocolatito’s promoter is Japanese boxing kingpin Akihiko Honda.

With his win tonight, Gonzalez, a surefire first ballot Hall of Famer, advanced his record to 52-4 (42 KOs).

Photo credit: Supreme Boxing

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