August 9, 2022
SHAME ON YOU WBC
By: Bill Calogero
Last week I wrote an article about the boxing rankings and how I felt about them overall. Not to beat a dead horse, but it seems that the concept of the rankings have gotten worse in one week!
Although I’ve always said that we can’t base a division on “what used to be” we must be able to shake out the best fighters from the decent ones, and the decent ones from the terrible ones. As much as I, and I know a lot of true boxing fans feel the same, we unfortunately DO need to look at the rankings from time to time to see where the current crop of fighters stand, despite the differences from sanctioning body to sanctioning body. If anything else, it’s a base for comparison for our thoughts and that of discussion.
Of the four major sanctioning bodies, I personally feel that the WBC, is the best one, with the WBO 2nd, the IBF 3rd and the worst of them, the WBA in the four-slot. With that said, I think we all know that a sanctioning body is a business. Businesses are around for one reason; to make money. That’s it plain and simple. How do sanctioning bodies make money you ask? Sanctioning fees of course. Why do you think there are so many titles? Each one costs the fighter money to fight for and to defend.
In my opinion, sanctioning bodies can still make money by ranking fighters based on their skill, NOT the money their teams pay for the ranking. What? You didn’t realize that a fighter, his manager or his promoter can pay for a ranking within a sanctioning body? I’m sorry. I hope your day just wasn’t ruined but that’s a fact.
Since I believe that the WBC is the best of the four, I will focus on them and a couple of moves recently that prove my point.
On July 30, 2022, one of my favorite fighters stepped back in the ring after a long layoff. Danny Garcia was a former Jr. Welterweight and Welterweight World Champion and was regarded as one of the best pound for pound fighters out there. Nineteen months prior to his return to the ring, he lost a 12-round decision to Errol Spence Jr. He was no doubt devastated from that loss as he has publicly stated. His decision to return to the ring and the obvious dedication he put into that return was on full display when he fought and beat Jose Benavidez Jr. in Brooklyn that night.
Leading up to the fight, I did a Talkin Boxing with Billy C show and was previewing the fight. I would be lying if I wasn’t shocked to see that the WBC had already had Danny ranked at number five in the Jr. Middleweight Division. I am in no way, shape or form discrediting Danny Garcia for this ranking, however, how can the WBC rank a fighter at number five, which is an excellent ranking, when he hadn’t fought in over nineteen months AND never fought in that division before during his professional career?
YouTube Phenom Jake Paul was scheduled to fight Hasim Rahman Jr. on August 6 in New York. They both had been promoting the fight. One week prior, the fight fell apart because Rahman could not make the agreed upon weight, which was 205lbs. Paul went to his ace in the hole, his social Media platforms and blasted Rahman. After a slew of back and fourths via social media between the two, the fight and the rest of the card was cancelled. In my opinion, as I have stated publically, I felt that Paul should have fought at 215lbs and cut Rahman’s purse substantially because should he have done that, and won, I wouldn’t be able to write this piece right now. It didn’t happen, so…..
Let’s keep in mind here that Rahman is a professional fighter. No matter how you feel about his talent, the kid is a true professional prospect. He’s nowhere near the caliber where he should be ranked and thankfully he’s not ranked in any of the major sanctioning bodies but he’s a prospect nonetheless.
Jake Paul on the other hand, as of today, is a “wanna-be professional fighter”. This could change of course, but let’s face it, the facts are the facts. Jake Paul is 5-0 (4 KO’s). In any other circumstance, I think he would be regarded as a prospect. HOWEVER, in Jake’s case, his five wins were against a fellow YouTuber, an NBA star and two over-the-hill MMA fighters. Not one of these opponents can or should be regarded as a true professional boxer. Cut and dry, right? Umm, no.
It was reported earlier this week that the WBC is prepared to actually RANK Jake Paul! Is the WBC ranking him on his boxing ability like they should? No. They feel that because he is a phenom on social media that he deserves respect which in the WBC’s opinion is a ranking.
The WBC had said should Paul have beaten Rahman then he was going to be ranked. The fight never took place, so how could he even be considered for a ranking. EVEN if the fight did take place and Jake Paul beat Hasim Rahman Jr. (which I personally think he would NOT have), I don’t feel that he should have made the rankings. Rahman isn’t ranked. Beating him, then maybe another real fighter and depending on how the fights were won, MAYBE someone could make the argument for Jake Paul. None of this has happened as of today.
Let’s be real here, should the WBC or any of the major sanctioning bodies rank Jake Paul now or before he beats two or three real professional fighters it would be nothing less than a complete joke.
I know Jake Paul comes to fight when he steps into the ring. I know he’s serious about boxing. He trains hard and is prepared. He’s not doing it for the money, which he has plenty of, he does it because he loves boxing. THAT I RESPECT! I never met Jake and hope to someday, but as of today, he still has a lot to prove. Another important thing about Jake Paul is that he brings a lot of fans, and of course the revenue that goes with the fans to our sport, but we need to preserve some of the small about of integrity left in the sport of professional boxing.
Shame on you Mr. Sulaiman and the WBC for even considering, let alone publicly stating you were and still are considering ranking Jake Paul. For the good of boxing, please wait until he accomplishes more inside the ring against real fighters before he finds and lands a spot in your rankings. Don’t let this be all about the money, which most of us know it is, but at least wait until he has fought someone that is at least a little credible.
August 1, 2022
Boxing Rankings Have Become Hard To Stomach
By: Bill Calogero
There used to be a time when a top-ten ranking really meant something. Back in the days when we had only one world and only one World Champion, to be rated at number ten in any of the eight original weight classes was great for the fighter and the fan. It meant something! If you were a Heavyweight and you were ranked at number ten, you got respect. People knew your name. It was an achievement to be a top ten fighter. Being a top-ten fighter meant you could get a shot at being a Champion. A Champion that was the only person in a weight class who WAS a Champion. There were only eight World Champions at a time. AND, there were way more fighters competing for that title! Stop and think about that. Eight weight classes. Eight World Champions.
Times have changed. Today we have eighteen weight classes. We have FOUR major sanctioning bodies and we have a fraction of the fighters. It gets worse. Of the four major sanctioning bodies, most have at least two champions in each weight class. Whether they call it a Super Champion, or a regular Champion, or Gold, Silver, upcoming, champion in recess, or whatever Champion, they have multiple champions in eighteen weight classes.
As far as I know, we still only have one world, but I guess even that could be debated depending on what side you are on politically, but now we have potentially at least thirty-six World Champions and that’s assuming we are only counting two per weight class. THIRTY SIX World Champions. LESS fighters competing. Come on, what does that mean? YOU KNOW what it means. You know you do. It means that the caliber of the Champions is at an all-time low. Don’t get me wrong here. There are some great fighters and of course Champions out there today, but thirty-six?
No wait…there’s more! When there were eight weight classes and eight World Champions it was cut and dry who the number five ranked contender was in a specific weight class. Today, with the four-headed sanctioning body monster we have today, there are potentially FORTY different top ten fighters in each division. Do the math. Four sanctioning bodies’ times ten top-ten fighters equals forty. Can that get worse? YES because there are sixteen weight classes, so we can potentially have six hundred and forty ranked fighters!!!
OF COURSE some of the sanctioning bodies have the same fighters ranked but the ranking number are all over the place. Is there value in being ranked today? The answer unfortunately is yes. The reason is because if you have a ranking, no matter how many other fighters that are in your weight class with the same ranking, promoters and networks will use that. Why? Because they have bamboozled the boxing fan into believing that the fighter is a quality fighter if they are ranked even though there could be thirty or more other fighters in the same weight class with the same ranking with one of the sanctioning bodies. It’s the same with the champions. Promoters and the Networks feel they can sell a fight if there’s a World Title on the line. It doesn’t matter who has it, or how good the fighter is as long as there’s a title involved, the boxing fan will watch it. Personally, in my opinion this is the biggest problem with boxing today. It goes hand in hand with the 0.
There are plenty of good fighters out there that have a loss or two, but because if it, they may never get the shot. Promoters don’t want to risk that so what they do is feed their fighters a steady diet of winnable fights to preserve the 0. This may help them with the networks and sanctioning bodies but I will tell you this; it doesn’t help the fighter. Why you ask? Because today it’s easier to win a title than it is to hold onto it. If a fighter fought progressively harder opposition they would have the opportunity to improve. We don’t get to see that today until after they lose their title. Then it becomes the marketing of the comeback. It’s the business of boxing, like it or not. As long as fans are willing to buy a ticket, or an event, this is how it will be.
This past Saturday night we saw Danny Garcia fight a beautiful fight against Jose Benavidez Jr. after a nineteen month layoff to win his first fight ever in the Jr. Middleweight division. I’m a fan of Danny’s and I thought he looked sharp and was happy for him. During my post fight show I mentioned that I felt that he should fight another Jr. Middleweight right away but he should not focus on a top-ten fighter. EVEN with all the top ten fighters out there, in my opinion he should fight another legit Jr., Middleweight before he steps in the ring with a real top-five opponent. He still needs to adjust to the weight class.
HOWEVER, being out of the ring for nineteen months, coming off a loss in the welterweight division, he was STILL ranked at number five in the Jr. Middleweight division by the WBC. If this doesn’t back up what I am saying here, nothing will.
I took the four major-sanctioning bodies rankings for the Heavyweight division. Like I said earlier, they were all over the place. Even ESPN’s rankings for the Heavyweights were a little off in my opinion as were BoxRec’s, who bases their ranking (supposedly) on the guy who beat the guy and who that guy beat system that they somehow feed into a computer and spit out their top fifty.
I looked at all of them. Then I looked at the fighters, who they fought, who THEY fought, when they fought them and when they fought last. I will be going over the results as well as my overall thoughts of the Heavyweight division and my top ten during my next show, which is schedule to be broadcast live on Wednesday at 5:30 pm EST on www.youtube.com/TalkinBoxing and on www.BillyCBoxing.com.
My thoughts on the Heavyweight division will be available for replay anytime after that at the same locations as well as our podcast.
July 29, 2022
And We’re Back!
By: Bill Calogero
It’s been an on and off past two years with me and professional boxing, the sport I love and have been involved with for over 35 years as a promoter, manager, adviser, writer, gym owner, commentator and of course a talk show host for TV, Radio and podcasts. I wanted to let everyone know that the passion is back and so is Billy C!
I’ve got to be honest when I say that I definitely had some trouble with the sport and how it is going today verses the past, but I’ve realized that this is really how it’s always been. I think the biggest issue that I’ve have these past two years was the way fighters seem to take the easy way out. I mean this is a vicious sport and throughout its history, most fighters have given more than they have received in financial compensation so in a way, I get it, but I can’t help but feel the result has been a decline.
Add to that that promoters don’t really promote anymore. They want to be like the UFC model; that is a league and what that translates to in boxing is to only promote and support their fighters and not cross over to fight another promoter’s fighter. Everyone knows that Don King and Bob Arum, never really had any love for each other, but when a fight needed to happen and when the fans wanted it, they worked it out. That simply doesn’t happen anymore. Add to that Internet stars getting the love and actually being regarded as boxers just makes me sick.
HOWEVER, when they can generate the money, well, then things happen. I guess for me it was more about the fighters who gave it their all in years gone by and to me it disrespects them. Add to that today’s young boxing fan seems to think they know it all and it also seems that they have no interest in learning about its history, which to me is the most important part of the sport. Boxing and its history is like no other sport and in my opinion, you need to know about it. BUT…that’s me and I think I’ve come to the point where I want to move forward and hope that maybe, just maybe I can sway some of the younger fans into trying to FOCUS and listen to and of course learn about the fighters who paved the way for the fighters of today. The warriors who made the sport.
With that said, I would like everyone to know that the show will begin to come back on a regular basis beginning with a post Danny Garcia vs. Jose Benavidez Jr. fight show. This time around we plan on offering our show exclusively on YouTube and of course our Podcast. The show will be located at www.YouTube.com/TalkinBoxing and BillyCBoxing.com, where you can watch the show or listen to the Podcast through BillyCBoxing.com or of course ITunes. I hope to get some commentating gigs as well, but the phone has to ring for that boys & girls!
Finally, I want everyone to know that I will begin writing again. I will start out with a bi-monthly article posted right here on BillyCBoxing.com. I also plan on writing another book. I currently have several ideas on whom it will be on and hope to make my decision soon.
In the meantime, tune into our post fight show approximately ten (10) minutes after the official decision is announced from the Garcia-Benavidez Jr. fight this Saturday evening.
Danny Garcia has a record of 36-3 (21 KO’s). He’s never been stopped and his only losses are to Error Spence Jr., Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman. He’s former World Jr. Welterweight and welterweight champion. (Note: I have some interviews Danny & I had when he was just starting out that I plan to air soon…they are a MUST to hear all these years later!)
Garcia takes on Jose Benavidez Jr. who has a record of 27-1-1 (18 KO’s). His only loss was a 12th round KO defeat at the hands of one of boxing’s best, Terence Crawford. His last fight was a Majority decision DRAW against Francisco Emanuel Torres (17-3) this past November. It should be a good test for Garcia who hasn’t been in the ring since December of 2020.
The other fight that should be interesting on this card will be the return of Adam Kownacki, who is 20 – 2 (15 KO’s). Both his losses came at the hands of Robert Helenius. The first was a 4th round stoppage in 2020 and the second in the rematch; a 6th round stoppage in 2021. He’s looking to rebound against the 16-1 (12 KO’s) Al Eren Demirezen. His only loss came in 2019 against Efe Ajagba. Since that loss, he has rattled off five consecutive wins.
The results of both of these fights should determine the futures of both Garcia and Kownacki, both fan favorites.
Tom Molineaux: From Bondage To The Baddest Man On The Planet
By: Bill Calogero
Two hundred years before Mike Tyson, there was Tom Molineaux! In his first book, Bill Calogero shines a light on one of the greatest unsung pioneers of the prize-ring, “Tom Molineaux. Learn why Tom Molineaux should be considered the first American Heavyweight Champion. See what dastardly deeds blatantly robbed him of being the first American World Heavyweight Champion on a cold and rainy day in England during December of 1810. Examine the early days of what would become The Sweet Science. Meet the men who slammed fist against flesh and bone in the wild, outdoor, rough and tumble world of bare-knuckle boxing during the early nineteenth century. Read of the great triumphs and tragedies in the life of Tom Molineaux, the first great American sports celebrity. Tom Molineaux was born a slave and fought his way to freedom, riches and fame. See for yourself why Tom is an important part of American history and why it’s such a tragedy that he’s virtually a forgotten figure today. Bill Calogero’s “Tom Molineaux: From bondage to the baddest man on the planet” will introduce you to a part of American history that should not be forgotten
To get a signed copy ordered ($22.95 + $5 S&H in U.S.and $13.00 S&H outside the U.S.) – Email: SignedBookSpecial@BillyCBoxing.com
Robin Krasniqi vs. “King” Arthur Abraham For WBO super middleweight title eliminator April 22
TENAFLY, N.J. – The World Boxing Organization (WBO) Super Middleweight title eliminator, featuring two-time world title challenger Robin Krasniqi taking on the three-time, two-division world champion “King” Artur Abraham, will be available to watch April 22 on pay per view in North America, starting at 2 p.m. ET/ 11 a.m. a.m. PT, live from Congress Center in Ekfurt, Germany. The two fighters have a combined record or 91-9 with 47 knockouts.
“Krasniqi vs. Abraham”, promoted by SES Promotions, is a presentation of Integrated Sports Media and FITE.
Born in Kosovo, the 29-year-old Krasniqi (46-4, 17 KOs) is a former European and WBO International Light Heavyweight Champion, who resides in Munich, Germany and packs a thunderous punch. Three fights ago, he moved down in weight from Light Heavyweight to Super Middleweight, winning all three bouts at the new weight class and looking highly impressive.
In 2013, Krasniqi lost his first world title shot by way of a 12-round unanimous decision to defending WBO Light Heavyweight World Champion Nathan Cleverly (25-0), in London, by way of a hard-fought 12-round decision.
Following his first career defeat, Krasniqi went on to capture the WBO International Light Heavyweight Title with a seventh-round knockout of previously undefeated Emmanuel Danso (20-0), and has since defended that belt. Krasniqi won the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) Continental Light Heavyweight Title with a 12-round unanimous decision over Oleksandr Cherviak (14-3-1).
In 2014, Krasniqi successfully defended those two championships, taking a 12-round unanimous decision from Dariusz Sek (21-1-1), which set up his second world title shot, March 21, 2015 in Germany, against long-time defending WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion Juergan Braehmer (45-2) in a massive all-German world title showdown. Krasniqi was unable to answer the bell for the 10th round but learned that he should drop a weight class. Since moving down to Super Middleweight, Krasniqi has looked impressive but Abraham will surely be the biggest test of his career.
Rated No. 2 by the WBO, Abraham (45-5, 30 KOs) has positioned himself for another world title shot as the winner of his Apr. 22nd eliminator with Krasniqi will become the mandatory challenger for reigning WBO Super Middleweight World Champion Gilberto Ramirez, of Mexico. Abraham lost his WBO crown by way a 12-round unanimous decision to Ramirez in Las Vegas in 2016 but must win against Krasniqi to have an opportunity at regaining his title.
The 37-year-old Abraham, a native of Armenia who lives in Berlin, Germany, is a two-time WBO (World Boxing Organization) Super Middleweight Champion, as well as the former International Boxing Federation (IBF) Middleweight World Champion. The knockout artist has a remarkable 18-4 (9 KOs) record in world championship bouts and is 7-4 (4 KOs) against former or current world champions. Noted victims during his 16-½ year professional career reads like a Who’s Who of Boxing in the 160 and 168-pound divisions, including world champions Raul Marquez, Hector Javier Velazco, Jermain Taylor, Robert Stieglitz thrice, and Giovanni De Carolis. Abraham has also defeated world-class opponents such as Martin Murray, Paul Smith twice, Lajuan Simon, Edison Miranda twice. Khoren Gevor, Sebastian Demers, Kofi Jantuah, Kingsley Ikeke and Howard Eastman.
Four of Abraham’s five career losses have been to world champions Carl Froch, Andre Ward, Robert Stieglitz and Gilberto Ramirez. Stieglitz is the only opponent to stop Abraham, who has won nine of his last 10 fights, the most recent an eighth-round technical knockout of Tim Robin Lihaug (15-1) this past July in Germany for the vacant WBO International Super Middleweight Title.
Now that sanction has officially been granted, the next fight for red-hot undefeated super middleweight David “El Bandera Roja” Benavidez will be an eliminator for the #2 mandatory challenger spot in the WBC’s world rankings against highly regarded contender Rogelio “Porky” Medina, of Sonora, Mexico.
WBC #1-rated Callum Smith and WBC #2-rated Anthony Dirrell will fight for the vacant 168 WBC Championship (tentatively scheduled for May), the winner of that fight must then face undefeated WBC #3 contender, Avni Yildirim, from Turkey. The champion at the end of those two fights will be mandated to face the winner of the Benavidez vs. Medina eliminator.
For Benavidez (17-0, 16 KOs), who served as chief sparring partner for middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin’s recent preparations to face Danny Jacobs, news of the fight with Medina is a welcome development.
“This is the biggest opportunity of my life and I’m not going to let it go to waste,” said Benavidez. “I’m going to destroy this guy like I do everybody else. I have never trained this hard for a fight and I feel that, come fight time, I’ll be extremely strong and do it up.”
Considered a boxing prodigy by many, the 20-year-old Benavidez, who turned professional at age 16, is the brother of former interim WBA World Super Lightweight Jose Benavidez, and has been trained since age two by his father Jose Benavidez Sr.
Date and site for the fight are being negotiated.
Hometown champion Tony Luis battles Noe Nunez in the main event
Thousand Palms, California – Undefeated welterweight prospect Custio Clayton has been added to a tremendous night of boxing on Saturday, April 15th at the Cornwall Civic Complex in Cornwall, Ontario, when he takes on Alfredo Chavez in the eight-round co-feature bout.
The event, which is promoted by Liveco Boxing, will feature Cornwall’s own Tony Luis battling Noe Nunez in a 10-round lightweight clash.
Clayton of Montreal, Quebec, was a 2012 Canadian Olympian, and has raced out to an umblemished mark of 10-0 with eight knockouts.
Clayton has faced ambitious competition in his first 10 bouts, which has inlcuded wins over the likes of Eduards Gerasimovs (5-1-1), Ivan Pereyra (20-5), Stanislas Salmon (25-3-2), and in his last bout, Clayton stopped Ramses Agaton (17-4-3) in eight rounds on October 20th in Montreal.
Chavez of Mexico has a record of 12-8 with 10 knockouts. The dangerous Chavez has some quality wins on his resume as he holds victories over Johnny Navarrete (10-0-1), Manolis Plaitis (15-0-1), Rodolfo Ezequiel Martinez (40-7-1), and Alejandro Chavez (5-1). The 31 year-old Chavez is looking to get back in the win column after dropping two straight to undefeated fighters. In his last bout, Chavez was stopped by Jamie Munguia on October 22nd in Tijuana, Mexico.
In a highly-anticipated undercard bout, Akwesasne native son, Ronnie “Rocket” Robidoux (2-0, 2 KOs) looks to keep his perfect professional record intact, facing the rugged Jesus Ortega of Mexico over 4-rounds. Robidoux, who trains in Cornwall under the tutelage of Jorge Luis, looks to add another knockout win to the record after a stunning knockout victory over Donnis Reed in California last month.
Ireland’s “Lethal” Larry Fryers (2-0, 1 KO), now residing in upstate New York, is set to clash against Mexico’s Michel Polina in a 4-round Welterweight bout. Fryers, who seeks to build on last month’s punishing knockout of Rolando Padilla, is one of the most exciting young prospects in boxing. His relentless aggression and fighting style will surely not disappoint.
More undercard bouts will be announced shortly.
LOS ANGELES — Undefeated World Boxing Organization (WBO) world champions ÓSCAR VALDEZ, GILBERTO “Zurdo” RAMÍREZ and JESSIE MAGDALENO will headline an exciting world championship event in separate title defenses, Saturday, April 22, under the stars at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Produced and distributed live by Top Rank Pay-Per-View, the telecast will also feature the pro debut of U.S. Olympic silver medalist SHAKUR STEVENSON, in a six-round featherweight bout. The live pay-per-view telecast will begin at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT. and will be available on all conventional platforms, including all major cable and satellite systems, as well as Top Rank’s digital distribution via www.TopRank.tv and mobile devices.
Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs), from Nogales, México, will be making the second defense of his WBO featherweight title against No. 1 contender and NABO champion Miguel “Escorpión” Marriaga (25-1, 21 KOs), from Arjona, Colombia; Ramírez (34-0, 24 KOs), from Mazatlán, México, will be making his first defense of the WBO super middleweight title against Top-10 contender Max “Tiger” Bursak (33-4-1, 15 KOs), of Kiev, Ukraine; Magdaleno (24-0, 17 KOs) of Las Vegas, Nev., will be making the first defense of his WBO junior featherweight title against WBO Latino champion Adeilson “Dell” Dos Santos (18-2, 14 KOs), of São Paulo, Brasil, and Stevenson, the crown jewel of the 2016 U.S. Olympic team and the pride of Newark, NJ, will be making his eagerly-awaited professional debut in a four-round featherweight bout.
The six world championship warriors have a combined record of 156-7-1 for a winning percentage of 95% with a victory by knockout ratio of 71%.
“Every fight is important to me. I respect Marriaga just like every fighter I face. And I will do whatever I have to do to win,” said Valdez. “This will be the second defense of my belt and I know the challengers are going to come after me, but I will be more than ready to give the fans a great fight and retain my championship.”
“The only way I don’t win my Oscar on April 22 is if Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway read the decision,” said Marriaga. “Second chances are rare in boxing and I’m going to make the most of my second shot at a world title. My trainer. “Professor” [Samuel] Gómez, and I will be prepared to give the performance of a lifetime on April 22.”
“I feel very happy and I’m thankful for the opportunity of defending my title for the first time,” said Ramírez. “I’m motivated and I feel a great desire to return to the ring. I have been active in my hometown of Mazatlán and training like if I was going to fight. Now I’m ready to fight! I feel 100% recovered from the injury in my hand. I feel better than ever and with more confidence in my punching power. On April 22 I will give the fans an explosive fight with lots of action. Max Bursak is a solid strong fighter. He is a brawler and he is coming with hunger of triumph for all the Ukrainians. It will be very good for three Mexicans to be defending our titles on the same card and even more here, in California, where there is a big boxing fan base.”
“Ramírez is young, tough and already an experienced fighter. But I’m also not an ‘easy walk’. We have almost similar records and achievements, so it’s going to be a very interesting clash,” said Bursak. “I’m already working hard in the gym, because I’m coming to California to win!”
“To be a champion today you have to work hard every day, go after the big challenges and see the big picture,” said Magdaleno. “That is what I am doing to express myself and my legacy in the sport, going into a title fight like this one.”
“For me this is a unique opportunity, to be fighting for the world title of a very big entity that is the WBO,” said Dos Santos. “I know that Jessie is a very good fighter. He is a real champion. Fighting for the title has always been a dream for me and today it has come true. Thanks to my Agent Patrick Nascimento and my promoter Edu Mello. I’m training very hard for this fight. I’m very focused. I know it will not be an easy job. For those who know me, on April 22, you will see a different Adeilson. I’m working to put on a big show and win the title.”
“I’m excited to start a new chapter in my boxing career and make my pro debut on April 22 at the Stub Hub Center,” said Stevenson. “There have been so many exciting fights in that building and I plan to add to that history in my first pro fight. I’m already training hard and everyone is going to see what I’m all about on April 22, live on Top Rank Pay-Per-View.”
Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs), from Nogales, México, and who represented México in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, was the first Méxican fighter to qualify for two Olympic games. He is considered one of the bright lights of the featherweight division and a new face for boxing’s next generation. He will be making the second defense of the vacant world title he won on July 23, 2016 via a second-round knockout of undefeated No. 2 rated Matías Rueda. Rueda entered that fight having won his previous 10 bouts by stoppage. Valdez, 26, started 2016 with a fourth-round knockout victory over former International Boxing Federation (IBF) featherweight champion Evgeny Gradovich on the April 9 Pacquiao – Tim Bradley III pay-per-view undercard in Las Vegas. It was the first time Gradovich had ever been stopped in his 24-bout professional career. In his last fight, on November 5, he successfully defended the title with a seventh-round TKO of No. 1 contender Hiroshige Osawa.
Marriaga (25-1, 21 KOs), from Arjona, Colombia, enters this fight having won 15 of his previous 19 fights by way of knockout . The only blemish on his record, a 12-round unanimous decision loss to former World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight champion Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters in 2015, who had lost the title on the scale when he weighed in over the division weight limit. Since that loss, Marriaga, 30, has fashioned a five-bout winning streak, including NABO featherweight title knockout victories in his last two fights against Guy Robb and Eduardo Montoya last year to become the WBO’s No. 1 contender and mandatory challenger.
Ramírez (34-0, 24 KOs), a two-fisted super middleweight wrecking machine who hails from Mazatlán, México, made history in the co-main event to the Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley welterweight pay-per-view on April 9, 2016, when he became México’s first fighter to win a super middleweight world title. Entering the fight as the top world-rated contender, Ramirez gave a virtuoso performance over the defending WBO champion Arthur Abraham. All three judges scored it as a 120-108 blitzkrieg. “I took him to Méxican boxing school,” a jubilant Ramírez boasted as he put on the world championship belt . A sensational young champion, Ramírez, 25, had been scheduled to make his first title defense last July, but a training camp injury to his right hand followed by surgery and rest sidelined him for the remainder of the year. He returns to the ring having won four of his last eight bouts by knockout. Career-highlight performances include an NABF and NABO title victory over Giovanni Lorenzo via fifth-round stoppage, a WBO International title knockout victory over Junior Talipeau and a successful defense of his NABF and WBO International titles, stopping Fulgencio Zuniga in the eighth round, all in 2014. In 2015, he successfully defended his titles via unanimous decisions over once-beaten Maxim Vlasov, division gate keeper Derek Edwards, who boasts a KO victory over world champion Badou Jack, and once-beaten Gevorg Khatchikian, who had scored knockouts in five of his last six victories.
Bursak (33-4-1, 15 KOs), from Kiev, Ukraine, will be making his U.S. debut. A former European middleweight champion and one-time WBO interim middleweight world title challenger, Bursak, 32, enters this fight having scored three of his last four victories by way of knockout and is world-rated No. 10 by the WBO.
Magdaleno (24-0, 17 KOs), from Las Vegas, NV, enters his first title defense having won eight of his last 11 bouts by knockout. The former U.S. Amateur Champion has crafted a sterling professional ring record since making his professional debut on November 6, 2010. The younger brother of lightweight contender Diego Magdaleno, Jessie, 25, parlayed his No. 1 ranking into a mandatory challenge of defending WBO junior featherweight champion and five-division world titlist Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire on November 15, 2016, winning a very close and action-packed 12-round unanimous decision.
Dos Santos (18-2, 14 KOs), from São Paolo, Brasil, has won five of his last six fights by stoppage. He captured the WBO Latino featherweight title on September 17, 2016, knocking out Deivis Perez in the seventh round. Dos Santos, 25 who has also held the WBO Latino junior featherweight title, will be making his U.S. debut on this card.
Stevenson, 19, from Newark, NJ,, sailed though every stage of his Olympic competition in Rio De Janeiro last summer before losing a close split decision in the bantamweight championship fight to 2012 flyweight Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba. Ramirez swept the judges’ scorecards in round one with Stevenson returning the favor in round two. In the third and final round, the closest of the three rounds, two of the three judges gave the round to Ramirez and the gold medal, by the slimmest of margins. It was the best finish for an American male boxer since Andre Ward captured the gold medal in the Athens Games of 2004. Ward is now part of Stevenson’s management team along with James Prince and attorney Josh Dubin. The only boxer to make Forbes “30 Under 30” in its Sports category, Stevenson was selected by a panel of judges comprised of James Harden, shooting guard for the Houston Rockets, Phil Knight, Chairman Emeritus of Nike and Casey Wasserman, Chairman and CEO of the Wasserman Group. The oldest of nine children, Stevenson, who is named for the late rap star Tupac Shakur, was introduced to boxing by his grandfather, Willie “Wali” Moses, at age 5. Now based in northern Virginia, Stevenson is trained by Kay Koroma.