Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Paul-Perry Preview

July 20, 2024 was to be a day in the world of Boxing marked by an event that is a curiosity more so than a legitimate fight in the eyes of many. The day that social media influencer turned aspiring Cruiserweight boxer Jake Paul was to enter the ring at AT&T Stadium in Dallas,TX to square off against long-retired two-time World Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson in an event that would also signal a new entry of broadcast platform into the sport of Boxing in the form of Netflix. As most know, Tyson recently suffered a medical emergency on a flight from Miami to Los Angeles, which resulted in the event being postponed until Friday, November 15th.


With the fifty-eight year old Hall of Famer Tyson sidelined, Paul has opted to keep the original July 20 date as he will face UFC veteran and current Bareknuckle boxer Mike Perry at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL in a Cruiserweight bout that can be seen on DAZN Pay-Per-View. There are a few interesting things to keep in mind going into this fight. One the risk for Paul in moving forward with the date even though the fight with Tyson, criticized or not, has been rescheduled for November. After all,  there is always the possibility of potential injury that could be sustained, including, but not limited to cuts that could derail things with Tyson even further.  Secondly, there is a perception that Paul, who insists he is serious about being a boxer and wanting to be taken seriously as a boxer, with the goal of fighting for world championships, facing another fighter who is primarily known for his background in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).


The wrinkle here is Mike Perry does have professional Boxing experience, but primarily as a Bareknuckle boxer. How that will translate as he will be fighting under the traditional professional Boxing format for only the second time, remains to be seen. What Perry does bring into this fight is he has shown in his Bareknuckle bouts that he is durable and can take a punch. Where there might be a liability for him is he has shown to be susceptible to being hit with right hands in those fights. 


Although fights fought under Bareknuckle rules do not have the emphasis on the element of defense as compared to its traditional counterpart, what makes this noteworthy is Paul's primary weapon that he has shown throughout his career has been a right hand that he has been able to score six knockouts in his nine career victories. Meanwhile, Perry's lone bout fought under traditional Boxing rules was a four round decision loss to a fighter named Kenneth McNeil in March 2015 in the 168lb. Super-Middleweight. As a Bareknuckle boxer, however, Perry is unbeaten with a record of 6-0, with 3 Knockouts and will come into this fight off of a first round knockout over fellow UFC veteran Thiago Alvez in a fight fought in the Bareknucke Fighting Championship promotion (BKFC) in April of this year.


For his part, Paul is also coming off of a first round knockout win in March over a fighter named Ryan Bourland. While Bourland, a veteran of nineteen professional fights prior to facing Paul, was seen as a step in the right direction for Paul in the sense that unlike the vast majority of Paul's previous opposition, he was a professional boxer with more experience than him, he offered no resistance and Paul was able to get a stoppage late in the first round.


Whether or not this fight with Mike Perry turns out to be something more serious than a “Stay Busy" fight for Paul before taking part in an event being sold as a fight that has been heavily criticized due to the age of Mike Tyson, remains to be seen. While there is some risk involved here and it is understandable that Paul like most fighters in his position would want to stay active when an originally scheduled opponent had to withdraw, it is also understandable how criticism of Paul will likely continue, despite his wanting to be taken seriously as a boxer, regardless of what happens in this fight or in November, if the event with Tyson does take place.


“And That's The Boxing Truth." 


Paul vs. Perry takes place on Saturday, July 20th at Amalie Arena In Tampa, FL. The fight as well as its full undercard can be seen globally on DAZN Pay-Per-View with free preliminary bouts beginning at 7PM ET/4PM PT followed by the pay-per-view card beginning at 9PM ET/6PM PT for $64.99. For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, availability around the world, local start times in your area, to subscribe and order this pay-per-view event please visit: www.DAZN.com


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Monday, July 15, 2024

Ennis Batters Avanesyan Into Submission

The bout between undefeated IBF World Welterweight champion Jaron Ennis and former European Welterweight champion and former world title challenger David Avanesyan was one that, though it came about on short notice, presented an interesting test for the unbeaten world champion. When one also factors into the equation that Ennis, known to his fans simply as “Boots," was beginning a new chapter in his career, now aligned with promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing and the fact that this fight was in his hometown of Philadelphia, PA, the circumstances were not ideal.


Despite the change in opponent, Ennis met the veteran and durable Avanesyan before a crowd of over 10,000 at the Wells Fargo Center on July 13th. When it comes to fights that are labeled as a “Homecoming" for a fighter touted as one of the rising stars in the sport, or one that is considered a star, the danger is the potential for distractions that could affect the fighter’s focus. In this case, not only was the potential for such a scenario there, but arguably the change in opponent from Cody Crowley to Avanesyan was seen as a step up by some due to Avanesyan’s long standing as a top contender in the Welterweight division, even though the circumstances for him were also not ideal having only four weeks to prepare for the bout.


Although both fighters were put in that position, it did not seem to affect Ennis, who immediately set the tempo of the fight by establishing a stiff jab and landing one that seemed to stun Avanesyan in the opening seconds of the fight. What the champion was also able to establish was a consistent attack to the challenger’s body with both hooks and uppercuts. It was one such uppercut in the first round that hit Avanesyan low and sent him down to the canvas in significant pain.


The foul was unintentional as Avanesyan had his arm around the head of Ennis and appeared to push the champion down into a position where a punch that was aimed for the midsection landed below the belt. It did not, however, deter Ennis from continuing to go to the body and he continued to mix his attack to the body and head of Avanesyan. Although Avanesyan had some success when he attempted to catch the champion in between punches while trying to throw with him, the beating continued and the effects of the punishment began to show on the challenger’s body as well as appearing to show signs of a possible broken jaw.


In round five, Ennis dropped Avanesyan with a perfectly timed counter overhand left that sent the challenger down to the canvas. Avanesyan was able to get up and finish the round, but at the end of the round, his corner stopped the fight. Ennis had successfully made the first defense of his world title and done so by making his opponent submit in his corner. Whether it was Avanesyan or his corner that made the decision, the resignation of a durable longtime contender is something to take notice of.


Perhaps there are some who feel that Avanesyan should have continued. Boxing much like all combat sports has significant dangers that go along with it. In this case, while there was still seven rounds left in the scheduled twelve round world championship bout and in theory, enough time to make an attempt to get into the fight in terms of the scorecards, David Avanesyan was taking significant punishment for five rounds and it should not be dismissed that the effects of that punishment to the body and head likely caused an injury or injuries that led to the decision to retire on his stool. The fan may not understand it and likely wanted to see a knockout in the midst of battle, but one should understand that injuries have to be taken into consideration as well as the potential long-term repercussions not just for the fighter in terms of their career moving forward, but also their life after their career is over. A decision to tend to injuries so one can continue with their career down the line, and/or prevent further injury, though not exciting for a fan watching a fight that was stopped, is often a logical choice.


As for Jaron Ennis, this victory should be seen as a mission accomplished in successfully defending his title. For the moment, he has made a strong case for himself as being the top Welterweight in the world. Whether unification is on his radar or potentially moving up in weight to the 154lb. Jr. Middleweight division to possibly chase former Undisputed World Welterweight champion Terrence Crawford, who will make his Jr. Middleweight debut in August, remains to be seen. 


“And That's The Boxing Truth." 



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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Australian Boxing History Looms For Alex Winwood As World Title Fight Is Confirmed


Credit: Dragon Fire Boxing 

Press Release: July 12, 2024 By Dragon Fire Boxing - Winwood is set to face undefeated Thai fighter and current WBA minimumweight super title champion Thammanoon Niyomtrong in Perth on September 7.


Aussie sensation Alex Winwood is staring down Australian boxing history after locking in a world title bout for Perth's HBF Stadium, set for September 7.


The 4-0 Bunbury product is set to meet Thai Thammanoon Niyomtrong - also known by his ringname Knockout CP Freshmart, for the WBA minimumweight super title belt in a bid to smash Jeff Fenech's seven-fight record to a world title set in 1985.


Niyomtrong, who boasts a 24 fight undefeated record, has successfully defended his title 11 times since claiming it in 2016.


It's currently the longest title reign in boxing.


Since his professional debut in November of 2022, Winwood has built his CV with a TKO victory over Tibo Monabesa and unanimous decision wins over highly-rated paining Cris Ganoza and recent WBO world title challenger Reyneris Gutierrez, collecting a WBC International Title in the process.


On Saturday, Winwood was named NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year in recognition of his achievements and community impact.


Ahead of his next test, and the biggest of his career, the 27-year-old said "this is just the start of my legacy in boxing, one that I hope Australia can be proud of and inspire the next generation of boxers".


Winwood says his dream is "just there on the doorstep" in just his fifth professional bout.


"Life's a dream right now, and I'm just enjoying every moment of it," he said.


"I only turned professional under two years ago…I always want to take on the best.


"That's what I said from the get go. But to actually be here is a bit surreal, so I'm just taking every moment as it comes, and I'm just going to get the job done when it comes September 7."


Winwood was due to fight a world title eliminator with Mexico's Luis Castillo in June before the bout was cancelled.


The date in September comes courtesy of promoter Dragon Fire Boxing, alongside Paradigm Entertainment, in conjunction with former world champion Danny Green.


Winwood's world title fight is the first for a WA talent in their home state since Green's over a decade ago.

On Wednesday, Green said Winwood is the "real deal" and "without doubt" a future unified world champion and role model for the entire community.


"He's explosive, he's powerful, he's very skillful. His fundamentals are second to none...He's just got everything," he said.


"And I think the people of Australia, when they see him, once they have the opportunity to see this young guy fight, they're going to be as excited as I am.


Winwood's manager Tony Tolj says his man is "destined for greatness".


Former AFL  Football player and Paradigm Entertainment director Des Headland, who broke the news of the title fight to Winwood with trainer Angelo Hyder and WA Premier Roger Cook, said the opportunity in front of Winwood to take the title at home in front of his mob gives him "goosebumps".

"Alex is a special talent. Not just in the boxing ring, but outside of the ring as well," 


"What he's going to do for our community, and him being a role model is huge. And to have it here on Whadjuk country, here in Perth, he's gonna have all our mob there to support him...It's gonna be a great event.


"Really excited for him to be in front of his family and all our people across WA and the Noongar community here in Perth.


"He's gonna be a sensational talent, and also the next world champion and the quickest ever to do it."


September 7th, History awaits. Tickets available on TIckemaster Australia on Monday July 15th

 Material Courtesy and Photo Courtesy of: Dragon Fire Boxing  Used with permission.



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Thursday, July 11, 2024

The Homecoming For Jaron Ennis: A Dangerous Test?

There has been much attention recently surrounding undefeated IBF Welterweight world champion Jaron Ennis, known to Boxing fans as “Boots." Ennis, who is unbeaten in thirty-one professional fights, was the last signee to the now-defunct Showtime Sports and made a name for himself competing in fights promoted under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) group of promoters. With Showtime’s exit from Boxing at the end of last year as part of a significant restructuring of its parent company Paramount Global and a decision by Ennis to not continue fighting under the PBC banner, in stepped promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing and thus the beginning of a new chapter in Ennis’ career. A chapter that not only begins with him signing with a new promoter but also a world championship after recently being elevated to world champion by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) from being it's top contender following former Undisputed Welterweight world champion Terrence Crawford choosing to test the waters in the Jr. Middleweight division for his next fight.


While Crawford is moving up to the 154lb. Jr. Middleweight division, his exit from the 147lb. Welterweight division has signaled a period of transition, which is very similar to what has been going on recently in the Jr. Welterweight and Lightweight divisions, the two weight classes directly below the Welterweight division. With the recent theme continuing to be “Transition," the obvious question is whether Ennis will be able to make a strong argument for himself as being the new central figure in the Welterweight division.


The first defense for Ennis of his IBF crown will come at the Wells Fargo Center in the champion’s hometown of Philadelphia, PA on Saturday, July 13th, which will also mark his debut on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN. As there always seems to be in Boxing, things are not always simple and straightforward. Ennis was originally scheduled to face contender Cody Crowley in this title defense, but Crowley was forced to withdraw from the bout due to a failed eye exam. In steps former European Welterweight champion and recent world title challenger David Avanesyan on short notice for his second attempt at a world title.


Some may argue that Avanesyan stepping in makes this fight a more dangerous assignment for the newly crowned world champion. In addition to being a former European Welterweight champion, Avanesyan is a longtime top contender, who also had Interim/Regular champion status in the WBA’s Welterweight ratings at one point in his career. Avanesyan has only been stopped twice in his thirty-five fight professional career. Many will remember his last loss, which came at the hands of Terence Crawford in December 2022. It was a fight that was competitive until Crawford landed a fight-ending uppercut in the sixth round. 


While a one-punch knockout will always be a one-punch knockout and as such will always make heads turn, it is important to keep in mind that just because a fighter may be knocked out by a single punch, it does not necessarily mean that said fighter is susceptible to being caught. More simplistically, sometimes fights that end in the manner in which Avanesyan’s title shot against Crawford did, should be viewed on a case-by-case basis. It also goes without saying that Terence Crawford has proven throughout his career to be a rare generational fighter in terms of talent and overall skillset. The question here is whether Jaron Ennis has similar traits.


Although one should not look to Crawford’s knockout of Avanesyan as a baseline to compare what Ennis might be able to do, there is nevertheless some who might expect a similar outcome here based on Ennis’ punching power in having scored knockouts in twenty-eight of his thirty-one professional fights. What one should keep in mind, however, is David Avanesyan is a world-class boxer, who can do a little of everything and has shown the ability to be very crafty throughout his career as well. The challenger has been back in the ring once since his loss to Crawford in scoring a third round stoppage of Serge Ambomo in December of last year. 


While the circumstances of this bout are not ideal for either fighter, the challenge for Avanesyan will be not only stepping into his second world title shot on short notice, but also doing so in the champion’s hometown before what will likely be a partisan crowd. Whether Avanesyan will be able to use his experience to withstand what might be an early storm by Ennis in terms of throwing power punches in an attempt to look impressive in front of his hometown crowd remains to be seen. 


Nonetheless, the new chapter for Ennis will begin with what should be an interesting fight. With Crawford now moving on from Welterweight, the angling for position among the top fighters in the division, those who are world champions, top contenders, and would be world champions has begun. Can Jaron Ennis emerge as the new central figure in the Welterweight division? We will find out on Saturday, July 13th.


“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”


Ennis vs. Avanesyan takes place on Saturday, July 13th at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. The fight as well as its full undercard can be seen globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN beginning at 8PM ET/5PM PT.


(*U.S. Times Only*) 


(*Card and Start time Subject to Change.*)


For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, availability around the world, local start times in your area, and to subscribe please visit: www.DAZN.com


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Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Was Victory Over Harutyunyan Stevenson's Swan Song With Top Rank?

The story leading up to undefeated three-division world champion Shakur Stevenson's bout against Artem Harutyunyan on July 6th was his first title defense as the WBC World Lightweight champion.  Before a hometown crowd, Stevenson put forth a dominant performance, skillfully out Boxing Harutyunyan over twelve rounds to retain his world title. 


While this observer summed up what occurred at the Prudential Center in Stevenson's hometown of Newark, NJ,  there is more to the story, which was omitted from the preview penned by yours truly last week, but was not done so as a means of ignoring on my part. It was simply something that I chose to hold off discussing until after the fight. Just what am I referring to? The fact that this fight and what turned out to be the latest successful, lopsided outing for Stevenson, was the final bout under his current promotional agreement with Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum's Top Rank Inc. Normally, I do my best to try and avoid discussing these types of issues involving what could be a parting of ways between a fighter and a promoter. The reason for this is certainly not out of fear to discuss such subjects, but frankly such situations, which are firmly in the realm of the business end of the sport, tend to often resemble conflicts that one would see play out on a “Reality TV” program, only thanks in part to the age we are living in, such disputes/differences of opinion tend to now play out across social media platforms as well as others methods of communication. 


Although this may be entertaining for some, I personally have a hard time, despite my best efforts,  following it all, much less being able to discern what is fact, fiction, or simply folks blowing off steam. In this case, while there may not be much in the way of public spats between fighter and promoter, there is a true conundrum that may not be easily answered. 


Shakur Stevenson is a truly gifted fighter that may ultimately go on to be regarded as a generational talent. The problem for him and anyone who promotes him is he may be in a rare category where he might be too good, for his own good. What do I mean by that dear reader? Stevenson just might be one of those fighters that fighters in and around his weight class, and to be more specific, those who handle those fighters from a managerial and promotional standpoint as a high risk, low reward scenario. In that the risk of defeat against someone with the elusive, crafty type of style that Stevenson has is obviously high because he has proven to be a difficult puzzle to solve thus far. Furthermore, where the low reward aspect enters the equation is Stevenson, though extremely talented and highly skilled, has not been the type of fighter to put himself at risk for the entertainment of a crowd attending his fights or those who tune in to watch his fight through streaming or traditional platforms, nor should he for the mere sake of entertainment value. The main objective in the sport of Boxing and why it is known as “The Sweet Science" is after all, to hit and not be hit. Something that Stevenson has been nearly flawless executed so far in his unbeaten career.


What might be most troublesome for Stevenson in terms of his negotiating position both in trying to secure more lucrative paydays as well as in securing a long-term agreement with a promoter like Bob Arum and a selling point to the public, despite his domination, is he has seemed more content to box his way to victories via the judges scorecards than looking for a victory inside the distance via knockout or stoppage. The most recent example of this was his fight against Artem Harutyunyan where, despite his confidence before the fight as well as indicating to his corner in the middle of the fight that he would stop Harutyunyan, he seemed for lack of a better term, to take his foot off the gas as the fight progressed even as there were points throughout where it seemed like if he pressed the issue more, he may have been able to stop Harutyunyan. While part of this should be attributed to the “Game" effort of Harutyunyan, who never stopped trying to turn things in his favor, it is not a positive for any fighter competing in a world championship bout as the main event attraction in their hometown to hear what should be an enthusiastic crowd, voicing their dissatisfaction with what they are seeing by booing the fighter they paid to see, despite a dominant, one-sided performance that has become a Stevenson trademark. 


Whether or not the now promotional free agent and WBC World Lightweight champion decides to stay with Arum, the promoter he has been aligned with since the beginning of his professional career, remains to be seen, but the need to showcase all his God given attributes, and do so in a way that will drum up support for him from the public, increase ratings,where both he and his promoter will make top dollar, and most importantly, to convince other star fighters in and around the same weight division to take the risk in fighting him. Without finding what is a delicate balance between showcasing his skills and doing so where it maximizes his value, the conundrum Stevenson now finds himself in will continue to follow him. It is  a shame because Shakur Stevenson should be appreciated for the outstanding fighter he is turning out to be.


“And That's The Boxing Truth." 


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Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Stevenson Looks To Make Successful First Defense Of Lightweight Crown

 

With the departure of former Undisputed Lightweight world champion Devin Haney, the period of transition in the 135lb. Lightweight division continues with several world champions in the division looking to make their claim as being the best Lightweight in the world. In recent times both Vasyl Lomachenko and Gervonta Davis have made their respective arguments. Lomachenko emerged as a unified world champion in the division on May 12th with an eleventh round stoppage of IBO world champion George Kambosos in Kambosos’ home country of Australia. Along with the IBO world championship, Lomachenko also gained the vacant IBF crown, emerging as a unified world champion, and in many ways, by default, because he became a unified world champion, became the fighter that all top contenders, other world champions, and would be prospects look to target for a potential fight. The vacant WBO world championship would be decided on May 18th when undefeated top contender Denys Berinchyk scored what many felt was an upset in scoring a twelve round split decision over the heavily favored former three-division world champion Emanuel Navarrete in San Diego, CA.


This was followed by Gervonta Davis, who was recently elevated to world champion in the WBA Lightweight ratings, making a successful first defense of his piece of the World Lightweight championship with a brutal eighth round knockout of previously unbeaten top contender Frank Martin in Las Vegas, NV on June 15th. A fight and Davis appeared to be losing, only for the champion to graciously walk his opponent down and end matters with a brutal right uppercut, left him combination. As much of a statement as that knockout was by Davis, there is one more world champion in the Lightweight division that is awaiting his chance to make his claim as being the best Lightweight in the world. 


Yours truly is referring to undefeated three-division world champion Shakur Stevenson, who is the current holder of the WBC World Lightweight championship. Stevenson won the then vacant WBC crown with a twelve round unanimous decision over Edwin De Los Santos in November of last year. While Stevenson did what he had to do in that fight to win a world championship in his third weight class, it was not a crowd-pleasing performance by Stevenson who tends to be underappreciated by some for his overall skillset and his ability to box rather than engaging in a more toe to toe battle with his opponents.


Following the success of Lomachenko, Berinchyk, and Davis, Stevenson will now look to make the first defense of his WBC crown on July 6th as he will face current WBC number seven Lightweight contender Artem Harutyunyan at the Prudential Center in Stevenson’s hometown of Newark, NJ. A world championship bout that can be seen on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+.


While this fight has all the appearance of a homecoming for the champion in a venue that he has fought three times previously in his career, what does the challenger bring with him into this fight? Artem Harutyunyan has had thirteen professional fights and has only one defeat. Some might argue that the setback for the Armenian-born, German-based Harutyunyan came in his only opportunity to date to step up in the caliber of opposition in terms of world level. The defeat came in losing a twelve round unanimous decision to Frank Martin in July of last year, which was coincidentally Harutyunyan’s last fight. 


The effort he showed in that fight however, in what was a close and competitive contest, along with his having won titles on the regional level of the sport including titles affiliated with the World Boxing Council (WBC), earned him the number seven ranking in their Lightweight ratings. While Harutyunyan does have a limited resume in terms of facing world-rated opposition, he has scored knockouts in seven of his twelve victories, albeit against largely unknown opposition.


Nevertheless, the challenger faces a significant uphill battle against Stevenson. The onus is on Harutyunyan to show what he can do and show that this is a more serious fight than some are anticipating. 


The old adage of styles make fights almost always applies to just about any fight, but the adage that this observer is often quoted as saying should also apply. “Boxing Is A Sport Of Opportunity." While just about every attribute one could measure seems to be in favor of the champion Stevenson, from overall experience on the world championship level to style in being elusive, to hand speed, sometimes all a fighter wants is an opportunity. There is always the possibility for a challenger, a significant underdog, to pull off a surprise, despite what logic and statistics might suggest. Whether Artem Harutyunyan can do that remains to be seen as does whether Stevenson can make a convincing argument for himself as the number one fighter amidst the latest refresh of the Lightweight division. 


“And That's The Boxing Truth." 


Stevenson vs. Harutyunyan takes place on Saturday, July 6th at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The fight and its full undercard can be seen in the United States on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+ beginning at 6PM ET/3PM PT. For more information about ESPN+ including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, and to subscribe please visit: www.ESPNPlus.com


(*Card and Start Time Subject To Change*)


(*Check your local listings Internationally*)


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Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Lopez Grinds Out Decision Over Claggett To Retain WBO Jr. Welterweight Crown

It seems the recent story surrounding both the 135lb. Lightweight and 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division can be summed up in a single word “Transition." In that both weight classes are seeking their next central figures or dominant champions, who are often viewed as being fighters that will carry the division for a significant period of time. One such fighter, who is likely viewed by at least some as the top Jr. Welterweight for the moment is WBO Jr. Welterweight world champion Teofimo Lopez.


A fighter who once briefly resigned as the Undisputed Lightweight champion of the world, Lopez is in the midst of what should be viewed as chapter two of his professional career following losing the Lightweight crown to George Kambosos in November 2021. The ongoing chapter that saw a relatively quick turnaround that saw him rebuild in the Jr. Welterweight division to become a world champion once again in 2023 and saw him make his first successful title defense in February against Edwin De Los Santos. This setup Lopez’ second defense of the WBO Jr. Welterweight world championship against veteran and top contender Steve Claggett on June 29th at the James L. Knight Center in Miami FL.


Despite not being well known to casual Boxing fans, Claggett came into what was his first world championship bout in a sixteen year professional career and had twenty-six more fights than the champion in his career. Nevertheless, there is always an element of the unknown when a veteran like Claggett, who has fought so long for an opportunity and has done so without the benefit of mainstream exposure, finally gets that chance against a fighter who is considerably more known and has more experience on the world championship level as Lopez. The combination of excitement, anxiety, anticipation, and yes, stress have been known to make fighters freeze when fighting for a world championship for the first time along with the atmosphere of the event. 


Claggett would not freeze and showed immediately that he intended to make the most of his opportunity as he applied pressure on Lopez from the opening bell, backed the champion up against the ropes and tried to stay planted on Lopez’ chest. Thus, the story of the fight quickly emerged. Round after round, the challenger pressed the champion backward like a football player and forced Lopez to fight at a higher pace than is typically his norm. Despite that, Lopez not only withstood the pressure and what Claggett had to dish out, he also showed he was comfortable fighting against the ropes and it was not long before the champion was the fighter getting his punches off first, particularly with left hooks and uppercuts. Although the ebb and flow never changed throughout the fight as Claggett continued coming forward and showing a granite chin in withstanding what Lopez threw at him, which would have dropped many fighters, gradually Lopez was able to gain some separation between himself and the challenger in the latter rounds of the scheduled twelve round world championship bout.


At this stage, Lopez displayed his hand speed in firing combinations to the body and head, which also appeared to stun Claggett periodically, to put the finishing touches on what was a wide and convincing unanimous decision to retain his world championship. Ultimately, this was a workmanlike performance by Lopez in fending off a determined challenger, who gave his best in his first opportunity at a world championship. 

With two successful title defenses of his WBO crown, Lopez immediately suggested after the fight that he was leaning towards moving up to the 147lb. Welterweight division in saying that he feels that he cannot make the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight limit any longer. What makes this interesting is the conundrum of what may be better for the fighter physically versus what may have financial incentives by staying in a weight division that the fighter has indicated he is having trouble making weight. Under most circumstances, I side with the fighter because unless you are a fighter in the Heavyweight division, the struggle of making weight in a given weight division is real, and if a fighter decides to stay in a division that they physically struggle to maintain weight strictly for financial reasons, and/or world championship/unification bouts, eventually it will have negative effects physically on the fighter, which will manifest inside the ring. 


Of course, the issue for all fighters that gradually climb up the weight scale is always will they be as effective at a higher weight as they were at lower weights. One does not have to look too far in the past to remember that as a 135lb. Lightweight, Teofimo Lopez was a devastating puncher, who routinely scored highlight reel knockouts that turned heads. Since becoming Undisputed Lightweight champion with a victory over Vasyl Lomachenko in October 2020, Lopez has primarily shown his skills as a boxer and since moving up to Jr. Welterweight, his power and ability to score knockouts has not been there in the same way it was as a Lightweight. The question that will be asked if indeed he does move up seven pounds to the Welterweight division is whether it will be any different. While some would suggest the answer to that question would be “No,” if a fighter has been struggling to make weight for a significant time, perhaps moving up only one division was more of a detriment than a benefit in allowing the fighter’s body to adjust naturally as they get older. Any move up in weight will come with risks, as will moving down in weight, which fighters have done before as well for various reasons. The only way the question will be answered will be for Lopez to test the waters at Welterweight. 


“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”  


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