Saturday’s Top Rank on ESPN main event between Joe Smith Jr. and Maxim Vlasov – for the vacant WBO light heavyweight world title has been postponed after Vlasov tested positive for COVID-19.
Vlasov said, “I am devastated with the postponement of my world title fight against Joe Smith Jr. I have been following strict protocols, I have done regular testing with negative results, and I have no symptoms. I am well prepared and had an excellent training camp. I look forward to the rescheduling of the fight and the opportunity to display my world class skills.”
The Richard Commey-Jackson Marinez lightweight bout has been elevated to the main event and will headline the ESPN-televised tripleheader beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. In the new co-feature, action star Adam Lopez will defend his NABF featherweight belt in a 10-rounder against former world title challenger Jason Sanchez. The ESPN telecast will open with Toledo heavyweight sensation Jared Anderson (7-0, 7 KOs) against Kingsley Ibeh in a six-rounder.
uper welterweight prospect Gorjan “Gogo” Slaveski (6-1) returns to the ring this Saturday night when he faces Antonio Hernandez in a bout scheduled for 6 rounds.
Hernandez has faced several top prospects from the super welterweight division up to the super middleweight division. In 2020 he went the distance with Lorenzo Simpson and upset a then 9-0 Destyne Butler.
Like many fighters, Slaveski had his 2020 campaign effected by the coronavirus pandemic. He was only able to fight once, stopping Zachariah Kelley in 3 rounds in August.
The Macedonia native has relocated to South Florida and has put together a new team.
“I feel very fortunate to be working with my new manager Luis Molina, boxing coach Derik Santos and my strength coach Phil Daru. I also am working with Maureen Shea who advises me in both areas. I have worked in the past with other trainers but there has never been so much focus put on my boxing fundamentals. I hope that one day Luis Molina will have the first Macedonian world champion. My goal is to make that history,” Slaveski stated.
Slaveski’s only career defeat came against unbeaten prospect Isiah Stevens in 2019. Even though he took the fight on only one day’s notice, he scored a knockdown on the way to losing a controversial majority decision.
New trainer Derik Santos believes the sky is the limit for Slaveski.
“Gogo came to us and asked if we would be interested in working with him. I told him I’d give him a look and after a few workouts what I realized was that this kid is very athletic and has a ton of upside. He just did not yet have the knowledge of what to do with it. Even though he is a professional he had a very limited amateur career. I really kept coming back to his upside. The rest of the team came together and we all felt the same. For this weight division he has the speed, power, and athletic ability to compete at the highest level. So now he is doing his part and our part is to teach and guide him through with an on the job education,” said Santos.
The plan is for Slaveski to fight 5 times in 2021 and get closer to being ranked by the major sanctioning bodies. He has fought the majority of his career at super middleweight and is now beginning the process of moving down to the 154 pound super welterweight limit.
Pay-per-view livestreaming platform FITE.TV has already received a surprising number of early buys for the Friday, March 5, “SUPERWOMEN: SHIELDS VS. DICAIRE,’ event, an “herstoric” night of world-class all-female boxing starting live at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT from the Dort Financial Center in Flint, Michigan, and available for the price of just USD $29.95. In the night’s 10-round main event, undefeated three-division world champion Claressa Shields will attempt to become the first boxer in the four-belt era, male or female, to be crowned undisputed world champion in two different weight divisions when she faces also unbeaten IBF Super Welterweight Champion Marie-Eve Dicaire in a 10-round 154-pound unification showdown.
Dedicated to this year’s International Women’s day (Monday, March 8, 2021) and presented by Salita Promotions in association with Groupe Yvon Michel, SUPERWOMEN: SHIELDS VS. DICAIRE seems to have captured the public’s imagination and the spirit of the times for female athletes, as FITE.TV is already welcoming a steady flow of early buyers for its livestream of the broadcast.
“FITE is very excited to be the worldwide digital distributor of this outstanding all-women’s boxing event featuring Claressa Shields vs. Marie-Eve Dicaire,” said FITE COO Michael Weber. “The advance sales have been very encouraging for an event that is over a month away. I think this will be a big step forward for women’s boxing.”
A high-stakes junior middleweight battle between Flint’s #1-ranked Shields (10-0, 2 KOs) and Saint-Eustache, Quebec, Canada’s #2-ranked Dicaire (17-0), the winner will walk away with Shields’ WBC and WBO titles, Dicaire’s IBF belt, and the WBA (Super) crown. The supporting bouts will highlight some of the best female talent of today and for the future including undefeated 6-foot tall 198-lb heavyweight Danielle Perkins, powerful undefeated Floyd Mayweather Sr.-trained light heavyweight Nadia Meknouzi and super-talented current WBA interim super welterweight champion Raquel Miller in bouts to be announced soon.
“Not only as the events promoter of this culturally significant pay-per-view, but also as a strong proponent of women’s boxing, I am happy to see such encouraging interest in this event,” said Dmitriy Salita of Salita Promotions. “Claressa is in the toughest fight of her career against fellow champion Marie-Eve Dicaire. Boxing fans will not only experience Herstory in the ring, they will also participate in supporting an all-women’s sporting event, just a few days before International Women’s Day.”
“Since Claressa turned pro, it has been a goal of hers to headline a pay-per-view event,” said Mark Taffet, manager of Claressa Shields and President of Mark Taffet Media. “I am thrilled that she not only has this opportunity on March 5, but also that it carries with it the historical significance of fighting for her second undisputed world title and makes such an empowering statement for all women around the International Women’s Day celebration.”
FITE.TV is the premiere digital network for direct-to-consumer digital live streaming for combat sports, specializing in professional wrestling, mixed martial arts and boxing events. To millions of fans around the world, FITE.TV streams a rich array of live pay-per-view events, subscription packages and thousands of hours of live and on-demand free programs with a mission to help fans discover and watch premium live events. FITE.TV is the leading digital distributor for the industry’s marquee events, including AEW, Impact, WWE, KSI-Logan Paul 2 from Matchroom, Canelo vs GGG 1 & 2 from GBP / HBO, Pacquiao-Thurman from PBC / Fox, Top Rank / ESPN PPV, ROH, BKFC, NWA, GCW, ONE, Combate, RIZIN, MOTO FITE Klub and FMX FITE Klub, Rumble on the Rooftop, Major Concerts, Tennis, Basketball, Soccer events and more.
About International Women’s Day
The first National Women’s Day was observed in the United States on February 28, 1909. In 1910, Europe established a Women’s Day to honor the movement for women’s rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. After World War II, March 8 started to be celebrated in a number of countries. In 1975, during the International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating March 8 as International Women’s Day. In 1995 the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments, focused on 12 critical areas of concern; and the inclusion of Goal 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This year’s theme of #ChooseToChallenge looks to call out gender bias and inequity and celebrate women’s achievements.
Las Vegas, Nevada – American Dreams Presents have teamed up with Don King Productions to add a special heavyweight attraction to Don King’s January 29th pay-per-view. The event takes place at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
The card is headlined by the WBA heavyweight showdown pitting Manuel Charr against Trevor Bryan. In the co-feature bout Beibut Shumenov and Raphael Murphy will fight for the WBA cruiserweight title.
American Dream Presents’ CEO Ronald Johnson will appear on the pay-per-view portion of the undercard against veteran heavyweight Raphael Zumbano.
“I want to face the winner of Charr-Bryan and what better way to get ready for that fight than to be on this undercard. I don’t really care who wins but may the best man win and give me my shot next,” The heavyweight veteran stated.
In order for a title fight to become a possibility, Johnson knows he must take care of the task at hand and is 100% focused on his upcoming opponent.
“Zumbano is a guy who has been in with most of the top heavyweights and I know he is going to come right after me. He’s known for being very durable and tough. I plan on putting on a show for all the fans that will be tuning in,” said Johnson.
“This is just the first step. We are taking it one step at a time and we won’t stop until we win a world title,” Johnson explained.
Both Johnson and Love have been out of the ring since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He plans on making up for lost time with a big year in 2021.
This will also be the legendary Don King’s first event in several years and Johnson said it has been great working with him.
“Don King is one of the greatest promoters of all time. He has promoted several of the top names in the sport over the past 50 years. It is a pleasure doing business with him. January 29th can’t come soon enough. I can’t wait until I get my hand raised,” Johnson stated.
“Boxing can be a lonely sport, support is key to getting to this opportunity of where I am in my career right now. That’s why I’m so thankful for my long time partner Ronn Bailey who has always believed in me and even built me a private gym 10 years ago. He’s always talked highly of Mr. King and he approved of me doing business with Mr. King.”
LAS VEGAS (January 21, 2021) – If 29-year-old Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (41-0, 27 KOs), arguably already one of the top 25 Mexican fighters of all-time, has his way as he enters his prime years, he will eventually have a mega-showdown with fellow countryman Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (54-2-32, 36 KOs) before making their way to the Hall of Fame.
“Anything is possible, and it’ll be great for fans if a fight for me against ‘Canelo’ happens,” Ramirez said. “With two Mexicans in the ring, you know it’ll be a war from round one. We’ll see what happens in the future.”
First, though, Ramirez has some business to take care of starting with a potential Interim World Boxing Council (WBC) light heavyweight World title fight against 2012 U.S. Olympian “Sir” Marcus Browne (23-1, 16 KOs).
The WBC recently ordered No. 1 rated Ramirez vs. No. 4 Browne. Team Zurdo and Team Browne have until February 5th to work out a deal before it goes to purse bid. Ramirez is promoted by his own company, Zurdo Promotions, while Browne is represented by PBC.
If everything goes as Ramirez plans, he’ll have a world unification fight with either WBC/IBF light heavyweight World champion Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) or WBA Super title-holder Dmitry Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs, preferably later in 2021, pending COVID-19 restrictions.
“I never look past any fight,” Ramirez noted. “In this sport, on any given night, the best man will win. All I can do is train hard and prepare myself to be my best for when the occasion arises. Brown, Bivol, Beterbiev or Canelo, it doesn’t matter who I fight; I always train hard to make sure I’m ready when the fight is here.”
Ramirez became the first Mexican fighter to capture a world super middleweight crown in 2016, when the athletic southpaw thoroughly dominated defending champion “King” Arthur Abraham (44-4), winning each round for a 12-round unanimous decision (120-106 X 3) to become the WBO world champion.
In 2019, Alvarez joined WBO titlist Julio Cesar Gonzalez (2003) as the only Mexican-born light heavyweight champions of the world, when he stopped 34-3-1 Sergey Kovalev in the 11th round to become the WBO World light heavyweight champion. The 9-time, 4-division world champion Alvarez relinquished his WBO light heavyweight crown without defending it.
Ramirez is off to the 5th-best winning streak to start a professional career in Mexican boxing history behind four Hall of Famers: his idol Julio Cesar Chavez (87), Carlos Zarate (52), Ricardo Lopez (47) and Marco Antonio Barrera (43).
The dream match for “Zurdo,” of course, is down the road against Canelo. How about having it on Cinco de Mayo or Mexican Independence Day?
Between then and now, however, Ramirez needs a career-defining victory against a primetime opponent such as Beterbiev or Bivol to set the stage for a Canelo showdown.
“We’ll see if he’s (Canelo) able to do it again (fight as a light heavyweight),” Ramirez added. “He’s already fought at that weight once (light heavyweight) and I don’t see why it should be a problem unless it was a fluke. But I do understand he and his team will have to be a lot more cautious navigating this weight class, compared to the lower divisions, due to the higher risk. Also, we’ve been around each other before and even sparred. He knows I’m not just a Kovalev or a Callum Smith.
“It’ll (Canelo vs. Zurdo”) be an instant classic and a great way to showcase top-tier Mexican boxing to the world. I think fans will love this battle between Sinaloa (Ramirez) and Jalisco (Alvarez).”
USA Boxing Converts Abandoned Department Store Into National Training Gym for Preparations for Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
(Photo Gallery Below)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.(January 21, 2021 – When the boxers of the USA Boxing Olympic Qualification Team arrived in Colorado Springs, Colorado. this week they walked into a new training facility with just over six months left until the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and even less time to their qualification tournaments.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, USA Boxing athletes have not been allowed to train in the national boxing gym at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Training Center (USOPTC) since March 2020 and have had to continue to make adjustments to their training plans, which included training at the French National Training Center in Paris in late 2020.
After being told they would not be allowed to begin 2021 at the USOPTC, the coaching and national office staff had to find a new home to begin the final preparations for the qualification tournaments taking place in May and June.
“After spending most of 2020 waiting to be allowed entry back into our national gym at the Colorado Springs OPTC, it was time that we took matters into our own hands and established a training space that can properly accommodate our team’s training needs,” said Matt Johnson, USA Boxing High Performance Director.
USA Boxing ended 2020 and the beginning of 2021 moving all equipment, which included four boxing rings, numerous heavy bags and strength and conditioning equipment, from their gym at the USOPTC to an abandoned department store in a mall in Colorado Springs to hold training camps, while housing the boxers and coaching staff at the nearby Hotel Eleganté.
“We are able to continue to move forward in this COVID environment by applying multi-layer protection protocols, pre-travel testing, mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, regular cleaning, regular rapid antigen testing, daily health surveys and follow up PRC pool testing, as well as provide a top notch training facility in our temporary facility, which we are greatly thankful for John Bushman, owner of Hotel Eleganté and the training facility, to help provide these opportunities to our boxers,” stated Mike McAtee, USA Boxing Executive Director.
“The training facility and environment we have created has greatly reduced the risk to our boxers and coaches. USA Boxing strives to fulfill our stated mission to our boxers, ‘… (to) inspire the tireless pursuit of Olympic gold and enable our boxers and coaches to achieve sustained competitive excellence…’ in the face of a worldwide pandemic.”
The first training camp of 2021 began Jan. 14 and will run until Feb. 18, before the boxers head to Bulgaria and Spain for international competitions. USA Boxing will hold the final training camp before the America’s Olympic Qualification Tournament at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center, in Chula Vista, Calif., in another makeshift boxing gym, which held the final training camp of 2020 in November.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (January 7, 2021) – In 2019, Jonathan “Magic” Mansour finished fifth at the USA Olympic Trials as one of the youngest competitors in the field, and the now 21-year-old San Diego featherweight had planned to put on a magical performance at the 2020 USA Boxing National Championships this past December, at the Shreveport Convention Center in Shreveport, Louisiana.
In late October, Mansour was named as the USA Boxing Olympic Qualifying Team alternate in the featherweight division, replacing the original alternate, David Navarro, who recently turned pro. Brooklyn’s Bruce Carrington is the USA Boxing Olympic Qualifying Team representative in the featherweight division, who needs to finish among the top six finishers at the Americas Qualification Tournament this May. The Last Chance Qualifier will be at the World Qualifier in June.
“Being the Olympic alternate keeps me faithful in God’s process in making my Olympic dreams come true,” Mansour said. “I am excited to perform with Team USA to fight for gold and obtain my number one spot. I am glad I stayed ready for this opportunity knowing my time will come.”
As it turned out, the 2020 USA Boxing National Championships was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic until March 25-April 3, 2021 at the same venue.
Mansour started boxing at the age of eight, choosing to box because he always wanted to be different and loved to fight. He told his uncle that he wanted to go the boxing gym with him one day, instead of going to his grandmother’s house to swim with his cousins, and the rest is history.
“After he took me to the gym,” Mansour noted, “I’ve never missed a day since. I have sacrificed many friends, parties, my entire high school years, and more. Through all the tough times and especially during this pandemic, my coaches and I picked up my training even more. Being ranked number 4 in the USA still keeps me hungry for that number 1 spot, and I will make sure to fight for it until I’ve achieved it.”
Mansour captured gold medals at the 2018 National Golden Gloves and Monkton International Boxing Cup, as well as the 2019 Last Chance Qualifier. Standing 5′ 10″, he is tall for a featherweight, and he effectively uses his range advantage to out-box his opponents, often switching effortlessly from southpaw to orthodox stances.
“I have realized that my style is very different and stands out much more,” Mansour added. “It is the reason I got my nickname, ‘Magic.’ I fight smarter not harder and my coaches and I adjust to all styles, whether my opponent is coming forward or moving backwards.
Mansour joined the USA Boxing Olympic Qualifying Team on October 28th at the Multination Training Camp in Chula Vista, Calif. Each fighter needed to be quarantined for five days and then cleared after passing COVID testing. Nobody was allowed to leave his or her room other than to train or dine.
“We still trained during the quarantine,” he explained, “but we didn’t make contact until our test results came back negative. Being in the bubble was pretty boring, but it gave me a lot of time to focus on myself and my life. It was a great experience stepping into the ring with the Great Britain Olympic Team. I learned more and more everyday and studied all my test match footage. Camp was 16 days and USA had members of the Canadian Olympic Boxing Team there as well. Some days we trained two times a day and on the days we didn’t I still did my night jogging to keep my legs fresh for the test matches.”
2020 was an emotional roller-coaster ride for Mansour, who is now preparing to return to Colorado Springs from January 14th to February 19th with members of Team USA to train and prepare for upcoming tournaments. All the ups and downs, though, have been well worth it for Mansour.
“Being a 2021 Olympic Boxing Team alternate is a blessing,” he concluded. “It is definitely a big opportunity that my team and I have been preparing for to make the best of it. I’ve always dreamed of becoming an Olympic gold medalist and hard work will get me there.”