The Boxing Diary

Views and Opinions

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall Rematch Set on April 27

LEEDS, England (Feb. 15, 2024) — After more than two years of waiting, bitter rivals Josh Taylor and Jack Catterall will finally meet in a hugely anticipated rematch at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on Saturday, April 27, shown live on DAZN in the UK and around the world and exclusively on ESPN+ in the U.S.

The enemies have been embroiled in a heated war of words since February 2022 when they met on an unforgettable night at The OVO Hydro Arena in Glasgow for Taylor’s undisputed junior welterweight world title.

Intense debate has raged in the aftermath of their first fight, when Scotland’s Taylor (19-1, 13 KOs) protected his unbeaten record with a hugely controversial split decision win to retain his crown.

During a pulsating battle, Taylor was cut twice by the left eye and was put down by Catterall in the 8th round before he was deducted one point in the 11th for punching after the bell. Catterall, meanwhile, was deducted one point for holding in the 10th.

Chorley’s ‘El Gato’ (28-1, 13 KOs) appeared to outbox Taylor for long periods but ultimately tasted defeat for the first time in his career after Taylor clung onto his titles. The decision caused outrage among some boxing fans and the two have been at loggerheads ever since.

Following his clash with Catterall, ‘The Tartan Tornado’ relinquished his WBC, IBF and WBA world titles due to pending mandatory orders – and then lost his WBO crown to a resurgent Teofimo Lopez in New York City last June.

Catterall ended a 15-month ring absence by widely outpointing Irishman Darragh Foley over ten-rounds at the Manchester’s AO Arena in May 2023 before sending multi-weight world champion Jorge Linares into retirement after dominating the Venezuelan legend over 12 rounds in Liverpool last October.

In what is one of the most eagerly anticipated rematches in modern British boxing history, the fierce rivals will go head-to-head once more in a 12-round junior welterweight contest on neutral territory - with plenty of bad blood and animosity guaranteed in a blockbuster build-up.

“I’ve never run from anyone in my life, especially not Jack Catterall,” Taylor said. “He has spent the last two years running from promoter to promoter while living off my name. Jack should be careful what he wishes for because he’s getting battered on April 27. I am going to enjoy every second of this. See you soon, Jack.”

“I’ve wanted this fight since the moment the scorecards got read out in Glasgow,” Catterall said . “A few people say ‘move on Jack’, and that’s easy to say to when you’re not in my position. I get asked every day of my life multiple times a day, ‘when are you fighting Taylor again?’. This isn’t about belts, this is personal to me, and I can’t wait to get my hands on him. I don’t like him, I don’t respect him and on April 27 I’m going to end him.”

"I’m so happy to get this fight made," said Matchroom Sport Chairman Eddie Hearn. "British boxing has been crying out for a big fight and now we look to settling the score of one of the most bitter rivalries in the sport. It will be nearly 2 years to the day since their controversial ndisputed fight and not a day has past where opinion and debate has not ensued. The pair have engaged in a back and forth full of hatred and now the time has come to finally meet again in Leeds on April 27. Despite the offers to stage this fight on PPV, I am proud that Matchroom and DAZN have stepped up make this fight available to subscribers as part of their subscription and I can’t wait for the intense build up and a huge event on April 27."

“This is the ultimate grudge match between two of the world’s top 140-pounders,” said Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum. “These two warriors will settle the score in front of what I’m sure will be an incredible crowd in Leeds. If you look at Josh Taylor’s career, he has never, ever backed down from a challenge, and he will be in peak form on April 27.”

Friday, February 9, 2024

Teofimo Lopez Defeats Jamaine Ortiz By Decision

LAS VEGAS (Feb. 8, 2024) — Teofimo Lopez (20-1, 13 KOs) defended his WBO and Ring Magazine junior welterweight world titles with a unanimous decision win over Jamaine Ortiz (17-2-1, 8 KOs) Thursday evening at Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Lopez was the aggressor, while Ortiz employed a cautious strategy that resulted in exchanges that were few and far between.

Ortiz, who normally fights from an orthodox stance, boxed from the outside as a southpaw, using footwork and jabs to set up quick counters. Lopez pushed forward, bursting with jabs and right hands, though he had difficulty cutting off the ring, especially following the third and fourth rounds.

In the seventh round, a clash of heads caused a cut on Ortiz’s left eyebrow, and he seemed to slow down. But Ortiz continued to pepper shots from a distance, while Lopez accelerated his offense.

One judge scored the bout 117-111, and the other two had it 115-113. Lopez swept the final three rounds on all three judges' cards.

Lopez said, "I tried my best for the people. I even tried to box going backward, and he didn’t want to commit.

“Glory is next for me. None of these guys want to fight me. I’ll fight {Terence} Crawford at a catchweight. I’m here. I’m ready. I’ve always been ready. I’m younger, prettier, and a two-time unified champion at 25.

“We’re talking about a lightweight {Keyshawn Davis}. He hasn’t done anything. Just like Vasiliy Lomachenko told me: If you want to fight me, you’ve got to get a world title. If you want to fight the king, get a world title.”

Ortiz said, “I stuck to the game plan. I was listening to my corner and my team. I was doing good. I thought I was winning. That’s what I believe. I believe I won the fight. What can I say? I came up short once again.

“I just felt like he couldn’t hit me. I was making him miss all night. I was countering. I was making him miss. I was hitting him with the jab and the check hook. I just felt like he wasn’t landing any shots on me.”

“I always stay true to who I am. But we’ll go back to the drawing board, make some adjustments, and come back for a title shot.”

Davis Puts Lightweight Division on Notice

Keyshawn Davis (10-0, 7 KOs) made a statement tonight.

The 24-year old Olympic silver medalist earned his most important victory yet by vanquishing former two-division world champion Jose Pedraza (29-6-1, 14 KOs) via sixth-round TKO.

After studying Pedraza for two rounds, Davis kicked his offense into high gear, using lead left hands to prepare vicious fusillades in the third and fourth rounds. Pedraza survived, so Davis boxed on the outside in the fifth. But he reinitiated his attack in the sixth, landing several combos before forcing referee Tom Taylor to stop the fight.

Davis said, “Throughout this whole training camp, I’ve been saying that I’m the best at 135. Everyone kept saying, ‘You’ve got to get the stoppage. You’ve got to get the knockout.’ But I told everyone to not worry about it and just watch me work. And that’s exactly what happened. I got the stoppage.

“Teofimo has been doing a lot of talking lately. I’ll go up to 140 and fight Teofimo. What’s up?! Get this win tonight. You already know how I’m coming. You and your father. So, let’s set it up. I’l come straight to 140. Let’s go! And if you’re scared, Teofimo, then {Emanuel} Navarrete. He is a hell of a fighter. It would be an honor to get in the ring with you after you capture the WBO title. So let’s do it."

Lightweight: Mexican warrior Rene Tellez Giron (19-3, 12 KOs) overcame height and reach disadvantages to upset George Acosta (17-2, 3 KOs) via eight-round unanimous decision. Acosta tried his best to keep Giron off him, but Giron closed the distance and landed several punches in the second and third rounds. Giron landed a right hook in the fifth that floored Acosta, who survived an onslaught to the body before the two went toe-to-toe in the final rounds. Scores: 79-72, 78-73 and 76-75.

Middleweight: Javier Martinez (10-0-1, 3 KOs) notched an eight-round unanimous decision win against Raul Salomon (12-3, 10 KOs). Martinez used a high guard to defend against Salomon as he pushed forward. Both found their rhythm in the center of the ring by the middle rounds, where Martinez landed power shots to the head and body with ease on an unrelenting Salomon. Scores: 79-73 and 78-74 2x.Lightweight: Abdullah Mason (12-0, 10 KOs) had his first scheduled eight-rounder tonight, but he only needed two rounds to obliterate the previously unbeaten Benjamim Gurment (8-1-3, 5 KOs). After dropping him with a series of shots, Mason landed a counter left hand that immediately floored the Texas hopeful. Time of stoppage: 1:29.

Lightweight: Charlie Sheehy (9-0, 5 KOs) remained undefeated with an eight-round points verdict over rugged Mexican Abdel Sauceda (12-4, 8 KOs). Sheehy maintained distance with sharp jabs and quick footwork. Saucedo came on strong in the final two rounds, but it was not enough to win a single round. Scores: 80-72 3x.Lightweight: Alan "Kid Kansas" Garcia (11-0, 9 KOs) dropped Tomas Ornelas (7-4, 5 KOs) with left hook to the temple before ending the fight with a rib-shattering left hook to the body at :51 of the first round.

Heavyweight: Lemir Isom-Riley (4-2, 2 KOs) upset hometown favorite Antonio Zepeda (6-2, 6 KOs) via third-round TKO. Zepeda took a pair of knees in the third after appearing to suffer an injury. Time of stoppage: 1:28.

Junior Welterweight: Art Barrera Jr. (3-0, 3 KOs), the latest fistic prodigy to come out of the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy, scored a first-round KO win over Michael Portales (3-3-1, 1 KO). Time of stoppage: 1:41.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Natasha Jonas Edges Mikaela Mayer

LIVERPOOL, England (Jan. 20, 2024) — Two-division world champion Natasha Jonas (15-2-1, 9 KOs) defended her IBF welterweight world title with a razor-thin split decision over former unified junior lightweight world champion Mikaela Mayer (19-2, 5 KOs) Saturday evening at M&S Bank Arena in Jonas' hometown of Liverpool, England.
Two judges scored the fight 96-94 and 96-95 for Jonas, while a third judge had it 97-93 for Mayer.

Jonas used her hand speed and footwork to connect with crisp punches in the early rounds. However, Mayer’s size and strength began to make a difference down the stretch as she landed right hands and corralled Jonas against the ropes.

The middle rounds saw Jonas and Mayer exchanging in the center of the ring, going tit for tat with punishing body blows. But, in the final two rounds, Mayer finished strong with relentless pressure, while Jonas answered with quick counters.

Jonas said, “I had a good start. I landed harder and cleaner shots. I think toward the end she outworked me a little. I’ll give her a couple of the middle rounds. But I came on strong at the end.

“I know she is going to be absolutely devastated with the result because I’ve been there. It feels like the world is over. She is on my top two people that I’ve fought. She is very skilled. Her time will come again. She beat a lot of the champions. Please use that as motivation to become a two-weight world champion.”

Mayer said, “I thought I did enough to win. I would have given her the first round or two. But after that, I feel like I outpunched her. I landed the cleaner shots. At the end of the day, I think that this fight is worth seeing again. Like she said, it was one of the toughest fights she’s had. I didn’t have a rematch clause on my side, but I’m hoping we can get this fight done again.

“It’s definitely disappointing. But what am I going to do? I just hope that Natasha will be the standup champ that she is and give me another shot at the belt. I feel like I deserve it. I think they want to see it. I only believe that rematches should happen if they’re warranted.”

In other action:

Super Middleweight: Zak Chelli (15-2-1, 7 KOs) UD 12 Jack Cullen (22-5-1, 10 KOs), Scores: 116-113, 115-114, and 116-112. Chelli won Cullen's British and Commonwealth Titles.

Featherweight: Karriss Artingstall (6-0, 1 KO) UD 8 Lila dos Santos Furtado (9-2, 1 KO), Score: 77-75.

Middleweight: Ste Clarke (1-0, 1 KO) TKO 3 Vasif Mamedov (3-47-5), 1:53.

Super Middleweight: Aaron McKenna (18-0, 9 KOs) TKO 6 Mickey Ellison (14-7, 5 KOs), 2:21.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

"Why not Saudi Arabia?" - Turki Alashikh

I'm very excited about what's going on in Saudi Arabia and the sport of boxing. Recently there were huge headlines and announcements about fight deals being made to be held in the Kingdom. Not long ago, I was sad to hear the news that top TV networks in the United States stopped covering boxing. Showtime announced that it will exit boxing programming at the end of 2023. Before Showtime, HBO also dropped its boxing coverage at the end of 2018. These are major TV networks who covered boxing for decades.

As a lifelong boxing fan, I'm happy that Saudi Arabia has become the new home of big boxing events. Thanks to the man behind this development His Excellency Turki Alashikh, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority. Let us hear from the man himself his vision of the sport in this DAZN interview with Ade Oladipo.

Notes: Natasha Jonas and Mikaela Mayer press conference

Jonas-Mayer and undercard bouts will stream live and exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+ SATURDAY beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT

LIVERPOOL, England (Jan. 18, 2024) — Two-division world champion Natasha Jonas (14-2-1, 9 KOs) will defend her IBF welterweight world title against former unified junior lightweight world champion Mikaela Mayer (19-1, 5 KOs) this Saturday, Jan. 20 at M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England.

In the co-feature, Jack Cullen (22-4-1, 10 KOs) will put his British and Commonwealth titles on the line against Zak Chelli (14-2-1, 7 KOs) in a 12-round rematch of their all-action 2020 slugfest that ended in a draw.

At Thursday's press conference, this is what the main event fighters had to say.

Natasha Jonas

“This is a big statement. We’ve seen so many times that the best don’t fight the best for whatever reason. But I believe that for me to classify myself as one of the best of this era, I have to fight the best. I look at some of the boxers on list, the Katie Taylors and Chantelle Camerons, and they’ve beaten people in the top 10 pound-for-pound list. For me to be able to solidify a legacy for myself, I believe I have to do the same, and Mikaela is on that list.”

“Doors shut quickly in boxing when the results don’t go your way. And we’ve both experienced that now. And none of us want that to happen again. So, to keep those doors open, to keep those opportunities open, and to keep those bigger dreams beyond this alive, I’ve got to focus on what happens on Saturday and make that dream come true.”

“It’s going to be a good fight. We’ve both got the I.Q. and the ability to box. We’ve both got the skill and the strength to fight if we need to. That being said, I think our styles will make a great fight. I’m not going to be a reactive fighter and wait to see what she pulls out of the bag. I’m going to be putting my best foot forward and making her worry about me from the get-go.”

Mikaela Mayer

“It’s not just about the belt. It’s not just about becoming a world champion again. It’s about challenging myself against the best, having those names on my resume and knowing that I did my absolute best to challenge myself against the other great girls in the sport so that I can truly say I’m a top pound-for-pound fighter of this era. That’s important for my legacy and for my fans because I know that these are the types of fights that they want to see.”

“Natasha has a ton of experience. She has that amateur pedigree. She’s gone up against plenty of different styles. And she’s had to learn how to adjust to those styles. Same with me. That’s why having that pedigree is such an advantage. We both have that.”

"It’s going to be a really strategic fight because she’s a southpaw and I’m orthodox. Obviously, I have a technician in my corner who is big on strategy and big on technique and he has a game plan specifically for that, which I absolutely have to follow if I don’t want to get in trouble after the fight.”

Oscar Collazo to defend title vs Reyneris Gutierrez

Highlights:
  • Munguia vs. Ryder will be on the undercard.
  • The fight event is scheduled for Saturday, January 27 live from The Footprint Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, and worldwide on Dazn.
PHOENIX, ARIZONA (January 17, 2024) - Golden Boy Promotions has assembled a knockout undercard - including two, world championship defenses and scheduled performances of the next generation of top talent - for the main event clash between undefeated, former World Champion Jaime Munguía (42-0, 33 KOs) and former Interim World Champion John “The Gorilla” Ryder (32-6, 18 KOs) of the U.K. The 12-round super middleweight clash for the WBC Silver Title is presented in co-promotion with Zanfer Boxing and Matchroom Boxing and will take place at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona on Saturday, January 27, and broadcast worldwide on DAZN beginning at 6:00 p.m. MST/ 5:00 p.m. PST.

In the co-main event, presented in association with Miguel Cotto Promotions, Villalba, Puerto Rico’s history-making Oscar “El Pupilo” Collazo (8-0, 6 KOs) will defend his WBO Minimumweight World Championship title against Reyneris Gutierrez (10-1, 2 KOs) of Matagalpa, Nicaragua. Scheduled for 12-rounds, Collazo is returning to the ring after a dazzling, knockout victory over Garen Diagan in front of his hometown crowd in Puerto Rico.

“With less than a week away for my second world title defense, I feel great and at my best moment,” said Oscar Collazo. “As always, we are very prepared and focused on what we are going to do on January 27 and leave the ring with our hand-raised. We have a good plan in place like all our previous fights, and we are ready to entertain in front of the people of Arizona, Puerto Rico, and on DAZN. Thank you, Miguel Cotto Promotions and Golden Boy for the opportunity to be on such a big card featuring a spectacular main event between Jaime Munguia and John Ryder.”

On the DAZN Broadcast, knockout superstar in-the-making Darius “DFG” Fulghum (9-0, 9 KOs) will be defending his WBA Continental USA Super Middleweight Title against the crafty Alantez “SlyAza” Fox (28-5-1, 13 KOs) in a 10-round contest. Co-promoted with Sampson Boxing, IBF Female Flyweight World Champion Gabriela “Sweet Poison” Fundora (12-0, 5 KOs) of Coachella Valley, California will defend her newly minted hardware in a 10-round combat against Christina Cruz (6-0, 0 KOs) of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Opening the DAZN broadcast, Mexico City’s David Picasso Romero (26-0-1, 15 KOs) will participate in a 10-round super bantamweight fight against Erik Ruiz (17-9-1, 7 KOs) of Oxnard, California.

On the preliminary card, Daniel “Junebug” Garcia (7-0, 5 KOs) of Denver, Colorado will participate in a six-round lightweight match against Phoenix, Arizona’s Daniel Lugo (4-1, 1 KOs). Gregory Morales (15-1, 9 KOs) of San Antonio, Texas will challenge Ronal Ron (14-4, 11 KOs) of Chino Hills, California in an eight-round super bantamweight fight. In a four-round bantamweight, former Mexican Olympian Gael “El Terror” Cabrera (3-0, 2 KOs) will measure up against Miguel Ceballos (2-0, 2 KOs) of Peoria, Arizona . Opening the fight night festivities with a four-round bantamweight fight, Johnny “Sugarcane” Cañas (2-0, 2 KOs) of Santa Ana, California will face Oakland, California's William Davis (2-1-1, 1 KO).

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou done deal?

In an exciting development, it seems Francis Ngannou will have another big-time opportunity in the heavyweight division taking on Anthony Joshua in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in a 10-round fight.

Ariel Helwani broke the news on his X account (formerly Twitter) on Friday.

Francis Ngannou, a former UFC heavyweight champion, has proven that he belongs to a boxing ring as well putting up a strong performance against former Tyson Fury during his boxing debut in Riyadh in October last year.

It seemed that the Joshua vs Wilder could be sidelined. This could be because of this development or because Wilder was upset by Joseph Parker in December last year.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Lopez-Ortiz & Davis-Pedraza Doubleheader


LAS VEGAS (Jan. 4, 2024) — The lineal junior welterweight king is ready for a super show.
Teofimo Lopez will defend his WBO and Ring Magazine titles against Jamaine Ortiz on Thursday, Feb. 8, at Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Lopez-Ortiz headlines an action-packed televised doubleheader that kicks off Big Game Weekend.

In the 10-round lightweight co-feature, U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis faces Puerto Rican former two-division world champion Jose “Sniper” Pedraza.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Takeover Promotions and CES Boxing, tickets go on sale Friday, Jan. 5 at 10 a.m. PT and can be purchased at AXS.com.

Lopez-Ortiz and Davis-Pedraza will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN+ at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT.

“Teofimo Lopez is among the best fighters in the world and always wants to fight the best available opponent. Jamaine Ortiz is a supreme talent who fits the bill,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “I believe Keyshawn Davis is a future world champion, but you can never count out a skilled two-weight world champion like Jose Pedraza. What a fantastic doubleheader for the fans watching on ESPN and at Michelob ULTRA Arena.”

Lopez (19-1, 13 KOs) captured the IBF lightweight world title by defeating Richard Commey via second-round knockout in December 2019. The following October, he bested pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko to win the WBA, WBO, and WBC Franchise titles. Thirteen months later, he lost the belts via a shocking split decision to George Kambosos Jr. The 26-year-old then moved up to junior welterweight in August 2022 with a seventh-round TKO against Pedro Campa and a split decision over Spanish southpaw Sandor Martin that December. In his latest fistic tour de force, Lopez upset former undisputed champion Josh Taylor to capture the WBO and Ring Magazine titles.

Lopez said. "February 8 at Mandalay Bay, 'The Takeover' will entertain inside that squared circle as only I can! To the boxing fans around the world, I look to not only dominate and break down Jamaine Ortiz but to do it in such a fashion that my division will be put on alert.“

"Jamaine is tough. I would know, because I faced him back in the amateur days in 2015 for the National Golden Gloves Championship. I'll show the world that champions don't flinch when faced with challenges. They rise and shine the brightest when the stakes are highest. This one is for all my people on the Takeover Express! Let’s show the world once again what real boxing looks like.”

Ortiz (17-1-1, 8 KOs), a seven-year pro, secured the NABF lightweight title by outpointing Nahir Albright in February 2022. The Worcester, Massachusetts, native then notched a decision win against former world champion Jamel "Semper Fi" Herring that May and rounded off the year with an exceptional showing against Lomachenko. Ortiz dropped the tightly contested battle to “Loma” by unanimous decision but responded with a one-sided points verdict over Antonio Moran in September.

Ortiz said, “This is the most important fight of my career. It’s my first world title bout. I believe this fight will bring out the very best in me, and I’m looking forward to coming home as the new champion!”

Davis (9-0, 6 KOs), from Norfolk, Virginia, has graduated from prospect to contender and is inching closer to a world title opportunity. After going 3-0 as a pro, he captured a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. In November 2021, he signed a long-term promotional contract with Top Rank and has since tallied six victories. He had an active 2023 in which he stopped Anthony Yigit via ninth-round TKO in April and shut out Francesco Patera by a 10-round decision in July. In October, he bested Philadelphia-born contender Nahir Albright by a majority decision that was later ruled a no-contest by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation due to a positive marijuana test.

“I have all the respect in the world for Jose Pedraza and what he’s accomplished in the pro game,” Davis said. “This is the type of step-up I need to get to the next level, and I know Pedraza will bring his A-game. It’s his last chance to get back to title contention, but I won’t let that happen. I will show out for the fans in Las Vegas and everyone watching on ESPN.”

Pedraza (29-5-1, 14 KOs), from Cidra, Puerto Rico, won the IBF junior lightweight world title against Andrey Klimov in June 2015 and made title defenses against Edner Cherry and Stephen Smith. He captured the WBO lightweight world title against Rey Beltran in August 2018. After losing the title in a unification showdown against Lomachenko, he moved up to 140 pounds, where he faced the likes of Jose Zepeda, Jose Ramirez, Richard Commey, Lindolfo Delgado and Arnold Barboza Jr. Pedraza returns to the lightweight division in hopes of another world title run.

Pedraza said, “Keyshawn Davis is going to experience what it's like to face a two-division world champion. He’s never faced a boxer of my caliber, nor has he faced anyone even close to the caliber of my toughest opponents. He wants to continue climbing up the ranks, but on February 8, he’ll be falling off the ladder.”

The ESPN+-streamed undercard features a gamut of up-and-coming talents.

19-year-old lightweight phenom, Emiliano Fernando Vargas (8-0, 7 KOs), son of former junior middleweight world champion Fernando Vargas, will see action in a six-round clash against Tomas Ornelas (7-3, 5 KOs). Vargas went 6-0 with five knockouts in his sophomore year as a pro and is coming off a second-round destruction of Brandon Mendoza in November at T-Mobile Arena.

Lightweight prodigy Abdullah Mason (11-0, 9 KOs) will fight Benjamin Gurment (8-0-3, 5 KOs) in his first scheduled eight-rounder. Mason will look to capitalize on his 5-0 2023 campaign, which included a second-round TKO versus Jose Cardenas in November.

Unbeaten middleweight Javier "Milwaukee Made" Martinez (9-0-1, 3 KOs) will take on Raul Salomon (12-2, 10 KOs) in an eight-rounder. Martinez dropped Isaiah Wise three times en route to a first-round knockout in November.

Former Team USA amateur standout Charlie Sheehy (8-0, 5 KOs) will step up to the eight-round distance for the first time. Sheehy vanquished Jesus Vasquez Jr. by unanimous decision in November.

Unbeaten lightweight prospect Alan “Kid Kansas” Garcia (10-0, 8 KOs), the power-punching dynamo from Ulysses, Kansas, sees action in a six-rounder.

Former national amateur champion Art Barrera Jr. (2-0, 2 KOs) returns to the ring in a four-round junior welterweight fight.

Naoya Inoue Stops Marlon Tapales to Become Undisputed Junior Featherweight World Champion


TOKYO, Japan (Dec. 26, 2023) — WBC/WBO junior featherweight world champion Naoya "The Monster" Inoue (26-0, 23 KOs) made history again.
The Japanese pound-for-pound superstar knocked out Filipino IBF/WBA champion Marlon Tapales in round 10 to capture the undisputed junior featherweight championship Tuesday at Ariake Arena in Tokyo.

With the victory, Inoue joins Terence Crawford as the only male two-weight undisputed champion in the four-belt era. A four-weight world champion, Inoue is 21-0 with 19 knockouts in title fights and has knocked out his last seven foes.

Tapales (37-4, 19 KOs), a two-weight world champion, saw his four-fight winning streak end.

Inoue said, “I am so happy that I got the knockout in such a decisive manner.

“He never showed me fatigue or damage from his face, so I was quite surprised when he went down in the 10th round.

“It was one of the most intense fights I’ve ever had, probably, but my corner cheered me up and kept me focused throughout the bout.”

Tapales, who won the unified world championship earlier this year, came out as the aggressor and attempted to slow Inoue down with a concerted body attack. Inoue responded with savage body blows, sweeping the early rounds on the scorecards. Late in the fourth, a series of left hooks dropped Tapales, who rose just before the bell sounded to end the round.

Tapales found his rhythm in the middle rounds, backing Inoue up and ripping body shots in the seventh and eighth. "The Monster" found his stride in the ninth and finished off Tapales in the 10th with a right hand that put him down for the count. The pound-for-pound king, who started his career at 108 pounds, added two more belts to his massive collection.