Boxing Insider Notebook: Dirrell, Crawford, Khan, Lara, Algieri, and more…

crawfordkhan - Boxing Insider Notebook: Dirrell, Crawford, Khan, Lara, Algieri, and more…

Compiled By: William Holmes

The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of January 15th to January 22nd; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.

crawfordkhan 300x240 - Boxing Insider Notebook: Dirrell, Crawford, Khan, Lara, Algieri, and more…
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Crawford and Khan Face Off in New York City

Fresh off their kickoff press conference in London, WBO welterweight world champion Terence “Bud” Crawford and Amir “King” Khan flew across the pond for a special press conference at ESPN’s South Street Seaport studios in lower Manhattan.

Crawford and Khan will battle on Saturday, April 20, live on the inaugural Top Rank on ESPN pay-per-view at 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT. Details on how fans will be able to access the pay-per-view event will be announced at a later date.

On stop two of the Crawford-Khan cross-continental media tour, this is what the fighters and Top Rank chairman Bob Arum had to say.

Terence Crawford

“Amir Khan has been in there with a lot of great fighters. Me beating him will put me on another level in the welterweight division. People are interested in seeing this fight.”

“It don’t matter how I win. I just want to win. That still won’t get the fighters I want to fight in the ring with me. I just need to keep doing what I’m doing.”

“There’s no animosity between me and Amir. He respects me. I respect him. We’ll do our thing in the ring on April 20, and we’ll shake hands when it’s over.”

“I’m expecting the best Amir Khan to show up. I never take any shortcuts in training camp. I’m always training for the best fighter that {my opponent} can be. I never look at it like, ‘Oh, he’s some half Amir Khan, or he’s washed up.’ We’re going to train for the best Amir Khan.”

Amir Khan

On why he signed to fight Crawford

“First of all, it was because it was for a world title. Also, Terence is up there as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. This is a fight that could take me to a different level, and I want to win this fight because I want to be the best in the world. All them dreams I’ve had of being the best ever, and one day being that pound-for-pound champion, this is the fight that can take me there.”

“I’ve been reading a lot of things and hearing a lot of things with people saying that I’m taking this fight just to get beat or maybe just to have another world title fight. It isn’t about that. I’m coming here to win. I’ve never gone into a fight just to make numbers. I’ve made a lot of money in the game, and I could leave the sport happy. But I still have unfinished business. I still have a lot left in me to win them titles. Maybe my last fight wasn’t the best fight. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that got me this fight. I will prove myself. Going into this fight, I’m highly motivated. Terence is a great champion. I’m not going to walk into the ring just to get beat. I’m coming to win this fight. I don’t have that much pressure in this fight because people are expecting me to get beat. I’m going to come and shock the world.”

“This is a fight that can redeem my whole career. Against Canelo, maybe I was biting off more than I could chew. I took that fight because it was a massive opportunity for me, and I believe in myself as a fighter. This fight, I see that it’s more fair. We’re similar weights. We’ve had similar experience. In my opinion, I’ll be able to take his punching power. He’s also a quick and a skillful fighter, so there’s a lot of advantages for me in this fight. In other fights, I’ve fought guys who are a lot stronger, a lot bigger in weight. That plays a big part. In this fight, I really think I have the style and everything it takes to win.”

Bob Arum

“The idea is to make the best possible fight. We’ve been Terence’s promoter for many, many years. He’s at a stage now where, to cement his legacy, he has to fight the best. And I’ve always been a big fan of Amir Khan. I remember Amir Khan when he was an amateur and what great skills he has and had. It will be a real test for Bud Crawford to fight Amir Khan. I really think Amir has been one of the best welterweights around. And I think it’s going to be a great, great fight on April 20.”

“Terence Crawford, should he win the fight April 20, he will fight the best available welterweights in the world. It’s the world. There are tremendously gifted fighters. There’s this kid in Spain that’s the biggest attraction Spanish boxing ever had called {Kerman Lejarraga}. And he’s a terrific fighter. There’s the Eastern Europeans. There’s a lot of good welterweights. If there are fighters fighting for another promoter, and the other promoter is digging his heels in and won’t give his fighters the opportunity to be on a big stage, it’s on them. I can’t be worried about it.”

Chris Aglieri Wins WBO International Title by Decision

The bright lights of New York City were on full display Friday night at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden. Former WBO Super Lightweight World Champion

CHRIS ALGIERI (now, 23-3 8KO’s) and Queens native DANNY “EL GALLO” GONZALEZ (now 17-2-1 7KO’s) stepped in against each other with not only the WBO International Super Lightweight title on the line, but each knowing that a victory would put himself in line for a shot at a 140 lb. title.

Opening the action, Algieri controlled the opening rounds, showing a dedication to attacking the body, while using his agility and elite footwork to evade the offensive attempts of Gonzalez. Sitting on his punches, fighting on the outside, Algieri displayed his elite level punch rate.

Gonzalez would eventually settle in, pressuring Algieri through the second half of the scheduled ten-round bout. Gonzalez continued his aggression in an attempt to get himself back in the fight and successfully pushed the action for the remainder of the fight.

An accidental head butt, late in the seventh round, opened a cut under the left eye of Algieri. Seeing blood, Gonzalez went on the aggressive, landing a hard left hand while he pinned Algieri against the ropes. Getting into a grove, Gonzalez began putting combinations together to both the body and the head.

At the end of the 10-rounds, Gonzalez’s late offensive effort would prove to fall short, as the judges gave Algieri the nod by scores of 98-92, 97-93, 96-94. By unanimous decision, Chris Algieri earned the vacant WBO INTERNATIONAL SUPER LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE.

“I am my biggest critic, my performance wasn’t my best, but we got the W, we got the belt and I’m moving on” said Algieri. When asked about a possible title fight against MAURICE HOOKER, Algieri stated, “I can turn it up when I need it … I have always been the guy that can pull off the unexpected.”

CEO of Star Boxing JOE DEGUARDIA said this about the fight, “I am proud of both Chris and Danny. It was one of the most compelling fights of the night from the perspective of fan participation and support, with a vocal crowd that was essentially split between both local fighters. Chris gutted it though a tough fight and the win puts him in line for some big matches. I was also very impressed with Danny’s performance, and believe he showed that he can hang with the elite level of the 140 lb. division. Congratulations to both men on a great fight. We will be announcing some positive steps for both of them in the coming months.”

Bivol vs. Smith WBA Title Fight Set for March 9th at Turning Stone

MatchroomUSA, Star Boxing, and World of Boxing held a press conference to announce the site and date of the highly anticipated light heavyweight showdown between undefeated WBA World Champion DMITRY BIVOL (St. Petersburg, Russia, 15-0 11KO’s) and title challenger, the “common man” JOE “THE BEAST” SMITH JR. (Mastic Beach, NY, 24-2 20KO’s)

With a room full of media in attendance, Bivol’s exciting and eagerly anticipated fourth title defense against Long Island’s own, Smith Jr. was announced and is set to take place on MARCH 9TH at TURNING STONE RESORT & CASINO located in Verona, New York. The fight will be live on DAZN.

Bivol is coming off of a 2018 that included three title defenses against SULLIVAN BARRERA, ISSAC CHILEMBA, and JEAN PASCAL. Argued by many as the top light heavyweight in the world, Bivol will be taking on a challenge in the arguably the hardest hitting light heavyweight in the world, Smith Jr. Smith Jr., burst onto the boxing scene as a fighter of the year finalist and knockout of the year winner in 2016 due to his devastating knockout of hometown favorite, ANDRZEJ FONFARA, and later that year, his unimaginable knockout of legend BERNARD HOPKINS through ropes.

QUOTES:

CEO of Star Boxing Joe DeGuardia:

“We know about [Joe Smith Jr.’s] humble background as a laborer, working with the union. He comes from a real hard working background.”

“Joe always seems to be doing the things that are not expected. I know he’s humble, but he has a real knockout punch”

“Joe has made the best of his opportunities. He did it against Fonfara and he did it against Bernard Hopkins. We are very excited for him to have this opportunity to go win a world title.”

Matchroom Promoter Eddie Hearn:

“The main event for the WBA Light Heavyweight Championship of the World is going to be a fabulous fight”

“This is a big opportunity for Joe Smith, and its a pleasure again to be working with Joe DeGuardia”

JOE SMITH Jr. addressed the media:

“This is a huge opportunity for me and I am going to take advantage of it.”

“I’ve worked very hard, trained very hard. I’ll give it everything I have and come March 9th, hopefully take the title home.”

“Thank you DAZN, Bivol and Star Boxing for giving me this shot.”

DMITRY BIVOL said this about March 9TH:

“Thank you all the guys who work with me and help me. I am glad that my team decided the way of my career, and the way we will work with DAZN.”

“Thank you [to] Joe Smith Team and Joe Smith for taking this fight. I think we will make a good fight. I will keep my belt.”

Nico Hernandez Returns February 15th

2016 Olympic Bronze Medallist, and fighting hometown hero, Nico Hernandez will return to the professional boxing ring on Friday, February 15, at the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, Kansas.

The undefeated Hernandez (6-0, 4 KOs) will face Mexico’s Victor Trejo Garcia (16-9-1, 8 KOs) in an eight-round flyweight special attraction in the featured live bout immediately preceding the SHOWTIME tripleheader telecast of “ShoBox Live at the Kansas Star Casino.”

The Hernandez vs Garcia bout is presented by Salita Promotions and John Anderson’s KO Night Boxing.

Tickets for the live event will go on sale on Friday, January 18, at 10 a.m. CT and are priced at $110, $75, $60, $45 and $25. They can be purchased at www.KansasStarCasino.com, www.Ticketmaster.com and at the Lucky Star Players Club at Kansas Star Casino.

Hernandez, who won the first Olympic men’s boxing medal since the 2008 Beijing Olympics by taking bronze at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was 94-5 as an amateur. He also captured six national titles, scored eight wins in the Ringside World Championship (an annual Kansas City-area event billed as “the largest amateur boxing tournament in the world”), along with six consecutive Silver Gloves National Championship wins, and a 2014 National Golden Gloves gold medal.

The 23-year-old turned professional in March 2017 and has dominated all his fights. He was last seen scoring a unanimous eight-round decision over Texas veteran Josue Morales. This will be his third consecutive fight at the Kansas Star Casino, where he enjoys tremendous popularity.

“I’m excited to be fighting on February 15 in front of my hometown fans at the Kansas Star Arena,” said Hernandez. “I’ll be in great shape and plan on putting on a great show. I want to be very active in 2019 and win a world title before the end of the year. It’s my time to shine.”

Presented by Salita Promotions, “ShoBox Live at the Kansas Star Casino” will feature top prospect Shohjahon Ergashev (15-0, 14 KOs) of Detroit via Fergana, Uzbekistan, taking on also undefeated Mykal Fox (19-0, 5 KOs) of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, in a 10-round welterweight main event.

In the other two televised bouts, Fort Worth’s rugged Jesse Angel Hernandez (12-1, 7 KOs) will take on Britain’s Thomas Patrick Ward (25-0, 4 KOs) in a 10-round super bantamweight battle for the WBA-NABA Championship and Grozny, Russia’s undefeated Aslambek Idigov (15-0, 7 KOs) will face once-beaten Travis Hanshaw (14-1-1, 7 KOs) of Ashland, Kentucky, in an eight-round super middleweight contest.

On fight night, the doors open at 5:30 pm (CST) and the action starts at 6:00 pm. Bouts subject to change. The Kansas Star Casino is located at 777 Kansas Star Drive in Mulvane, Kansas.\
Erislandy Lara to Challegne Brian Castano for WBA Super Welterweight Title

Former 154-pound world champion Erislandy Lara seeks to return to the championship ranks when the Cuban star challenges undefeated contender Brian Castaño for his WBA Super Welterweight World Championship on Saturday, March 2 live on SHOWTIME and presented by Premier Boxing Champions from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™.

SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING coverage of the PBC event begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and features another Cuban star in top heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz as he clashes with Christian Hammer in a 10-round co-featured bout. In the opening bout of the tripleheader, hard-hitting Ricardo Núñez takes on rugged veteran Edner Cherry in a 12-round super featherweight opener.

Tickets for the event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions in association with DiBella Entertainment, are on sale Friday, January 18 at 10 a.m. ET and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com, barclayscenter.com, or by calling 800-745-3000. Tickets can also be purchased at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center beginning Saturday, January 19. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP.

The super welterweight division remains one of the hottest divisions in boxing with unified champion Jarrett Hurd, newly crown champion Tony Harrison, former world champion Jermell Charlo, former title challenger Julian Williams and Lara all circling each other for supremacy in the weight class.

“This night of exciting action is headlined by two Cuban stars who will surely put on a display of the immense skill and determination that Cuban boxers are known for,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Erislandy Lara has long been one of the best, if not number one, in the 154-pound division and he will look to get right back into that class by taking the WBA title from a hard-hitting and undefeated Argentine in Brian Castaño. Luis Ortiz has another opportunity to show why he’s one of the most-feared punchers in the heavyweight division and prove that he deserves a rematch for the title with Deontay Wilder. Christian Hammer has fought against the best at heavyweight and he isn’t coming here to lie down for Ortiz. When you add the Ricardo Núñez vs. Edner Cherry fight that is sure to bring action, it adds up to another can’t-miss night at Barclays Center and live on SHOWTIME.”

“Erislandy Lara is one of the most talented junior middleweights in the world, and while Brian Castaño is not yet a household name, he was a world renowned amateur and is undefeated as a pro,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “This is a must-win fight for Lara and Castaño’s chance to establish himself as one of boxing’s rising stars. Luis Ortiz is a dangerous man. His ‘King Kong’ nickname is appropriate, as no one wants to fight the beast. You saw why in his spectacular challenge against Deontay Wilder. Tested world class contender Christian Hammer will attempt to derail ‘King Kong’ in his quest to secure another world title shot.”

“Over the last few years SHOWTIME has spotlighted the progression of the super welterweight and heavyweight divisions as they have emerged as two of the hottest and deepest in the sport,” said Stephen Espinoza, President of Sports and Event Programming, SHOWTIME. “On March 2, we will further that with a pair of the most dangerous and perhaps most avoided fighters in boxing in Erislandy Lara and Luis Ortiz. Both are in significant and difficult matchups. Brian Castaño is young, undefeated and although already the champion, looking to make a mark on the division with a signature win over Lara. Add in an all-action 130-pound bout and we have a dynamite three-fight card.”

“I’m thrilled to welcome both Erislandy Lara and Luis Ortiz back to Barclays Center for what will be an exciting night for fight fans in Brooklyn,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of BSE Global. “Both fighters have put up compelling performances in our ring, and will face tough competitors on March 2. I am also looking forward to BROOKLYN BOXING returning to SHOWTIME for the first time in 2019 for an evening of world class matchups.”

Lara (25-3-2, 14 KOs) was the longest reigning 154-pound champion until he lost a split decision to Jarrett Hurd on April 7 in a unification bout on SHOWTIME. Now the 39-year-old Lara, who was born in Guantanamo, Cuba and lives in Houston, looks to grab a title and once again stake his claim as one of the division’s best. He has one of the strongest resumes in the division, having fought Hurd and former 154-pound champions Canelo Alvarez and Austin Trout.

“I’m very excited to be back headlining SHOWTIME in another major fight,” said Lara. ”Brian Castaño is a young undefeated champion with a strong amateur pedigree. I look forward to being in the ring with him and putting on a great fight for the fans. I can’t wait to being crowned world champion again. Everyone tune in March 2nd, you don’t want to miss the whole card, it’s going to be sensational.”

The 29-year-old Castaño (15-0, 11 KOs) has worked his way up the ladder in one of the toughest divisions in boxing with raw power and toughness. Castaño, who is from Buenos Aires, fits well into the mold of the Argentine sluggers before him – such as former champions Carlos Monzon, Sergio Martinez and Marcos Maidana. He will battle Lara after wins against Michel Soro in 2017, where he captured the interim 154-pound, and Cedric Vitu in 2018, where he captured the belt he will defend on March 2.

“I’m thrilled to be facing Lara as he was a great champion and still one of the best fighters out there,” said Castaño. “Obviously this is the most important fight of my career and I know it will be difficult because of his experience. I have my own experience however, and I’m willing to prove that I belong with the best tin the division. I know he will get onto his bike and move around the ring, but I have the strength to knock him off.”

‘King Kong’ returns to New York on March 2 as Ortiz (30-1, 26 KOs), a southpaw power puncher, enters the ring with two solid knockout victories under his belt since losing to WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder at Barclays Center last March. The 39-year-old Ortiz, who is from Camaguey, Cuba and now lives in Miami, Florida, is still considered one of the top five heavyweights in the division. He most recently scored a knockout victory over Travis Kauffman on December 1.

“’King Kong’ is coming back to Brooklyn!” said Ortiz. “I’m very excited to be back on SHOWTIME in a huge event at Barclays Center. Christian Hammer is a very good fighter and I will be prepared for the best he has to offer. Come March 2, I’m hammering my way past him and setting up a clash with the winner of Wilder-Fury II or Anthony Joshua. I can’t wait till Brooklyn.’’

Hammer (24-5, 14 KOs) has dueled some of the top heavyweights in the sport, including Tyson Fury and Alexander Povetkin. The 31-year-old Hammer, who was born in Galati, Romania and lives in Hamburg, Germany, has put together two victories since he lost a unanimous decision to Povetkin in 2017. In his last fight he scored a KO victory over then-unbeaten Michael Wallisch on December 15.

“I’ve been in training since right after Christmas for this big opportunity,” said Hammer. “I won my last fight by knockout, but I’m preparing for 12 hard rounds against Ortiz. A fight like this in New York is very special to me. This is the reason I became a boxer. The fans can look forward to a real heavyweight thriller on March 2.”

The hard-hitting Panamanian Núñez (20-2, 18 KOs) will be fighting for the first time in the United States on March 2. The 25-year-old is on a nine-fight winning streak in which he has scored eight knockout victories. He most recently delivered a first-round knockout of previously unbeaten Elvis Torres in June.

Cherry (37-7-2, 19 KOs) has put together a three-fight win streak since losing to Jose Pedraza in a featherweight title match in 2015. The 36-year-old Cherry, who was born in Nassau, Bahamas and now lives in Wauchula, Florida, has defeated Dennis Galarza, Omar Douglas and Haskell Rhodes heading into March and has faced top fighters including Tim Bradley and Paulie Malignaggi throughout his career.

Dirrell to Face Yildirim for WBA Super Middleweight World Championship

Former super middleweight world champion Anthony Dirrell gets an opportunity to rejoin the championship ranks when he battles top contender Avni Yildirim for the vacant WBC Super Middleweight Championship in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions on FS1 and FOX Deportes Saturday, February 23 from The Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Televised coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT with welterweight championship contender Jamal James fighting in his hometown for a third straight time against Janer González in a special 10-round attraction in the co-feature.

Tickets for the event, which is promoted by Warriors Boxing and TGB Promotions, are on sale now, and can be purchased at the Armory at http://ArmoryMN.com/and through Ticketmaster.

“Fight fans in Minneapolis and watching on FS1 and FOX Deportes are in for a treat with this high stakes world title showdown between Anthony Dirrell and Avni Yildirim,” said Leon Margules, President of Warriors Boxing. “Dirrell has been a champion and amongst the division’s elite for years, while Yildirim always comes to fight and will be determined to make the most of this opportunity. With the addition of local fan-favorite Jamal James in welterweight action, this is shaping up to be a can’t miss night at The Armory.”

“Anthony Dirrell took a long, difficult road to get to the super middleweight championship and he has worked hard to get into position to reclaim the title,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Avni Yildirim has been one of the most active contenders in the division and he has gained significant experience since his last opportunity to win a championship. He will need all that and more to get past Dirrell. And it’s going to be a special night watching Jamal James fighting for his hometown fans again.”

Dirrell (32-1-1, 24 KOs) won the WBC Super Middleweight Championship with a unanimous decision victory over Sakio Bika in 2014. It was the culmination of a long, hard road for Dirrell of Flint, Michigan after he successfully battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was cleared to return to boxing after completing chemotherapy in 2008. His reign as world champion was cut short when the 34-year-old Dirrell lost the title by majority decision to Badou Jack in 2015. He has won five straight since that loss to climb back into contention for a chance to become a two-time world champion.

“This is just like every other fight where we’re going to work on a game plan and execute that game plan in the ring,” said Dirrell. “I saw him fight Chris Eubank and it showed me some things. He’s a come forward fighter. That’s the kind of guy I like to fight. He’s tailor-made for me. I’m going to do what I do best and that’s fight. I’ve been keeping my mind, body and soul together and staying focused to know what I have to do to become two-time WBC champion.”

Yildirim (21-1, 12 KOs) is one of the most active contenders in the super middleweight division. The 27-year-old from Istanbul, Turkey has fought at least four times a year since 2014. The fight against Dirrell will be only the second time that he has fought in the United States after defeating Glen Johnson in Miami in 2015. Yildirim suffered the only loss of his professional career by stoppage against Chris Eubank, Jr. in 2017. In his last fight he won a majority decision against Lolenga Mock and he enters this fight on a five-fight winning streak.

“I’m very thankful to everyone who helped me get this opportunity and I know that I have all the tools to beat Anthony Dirrell,” said Yildirim. “Dirrell is a good fighter, but I believe I bring more to the table than him. I’m coming to win and bring the belt home to Turkey. I waited all my boxing life for this stage and I am ready to give him a war.”

James (24-1, 11 KOs) has become a local favorite and will be fighting in front of his hometown crowd in Minneapolis for the third straight time. The 30-year-old James has rolled off four consecutive victories since suffering the first loss of his career – a unanimous decision loss to Yordenis Ugás in 2016. In his last fight James stopped Mahonry Montes by knockout on August 24 on FS1. Gonzalez (19-1-1, 15 KOs) is a power-puncher from Cartagena, Colombia and is coming off the first loss of his career via a unanimous decision to Radzhad Butaev in 2017.

“I’m hungry to make 2019 the year that I get that world title,” said James. “I’m focused on my opponent, but in this fight I’m going to keep showing off the skills and speed that makes me the next champion. I’m extremely grateful to be fighting again at home and to keep bringing PBC to Minneapolis. I’m going to be the next champion from here and the journey starts fresh for 2019 when I step into that ring on February 23.”

“I’m excited for this opportunity to fight Jamal James in his backyard and leave all his hometown fans disappointed,” said Gonzalez. “I’m training harder than ever to bounce back from my loss and show everyone what I’ve learned. This victory is going to put me back on the path to becoming word champion.”

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