SAN DIEGO, January 10, 2015 – Boxers brought the action from coast to coast to kick off the 2015 boxing season with Friday Night Fights in Brooklyn and California. The bigger headlines were outside the ring on shifts in at the business end of the sport with changes in promoters and fighter affiliations.
Roc Nation rocks the house: Rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z’s new Roc Nation Sports staged its first card at Madison Square Garden’s Theater venue, carried on Fox Sports 1. There were more stars outside the ring than in it, if you don’t count announcer Michael Buffer. Rihanna, CC Sabathia from the New York Yankees, actor Jake Gyllenhaal and the newly signed Andre Ward and Bryant Jennings sat with Jay Z enjoying the action. The fights were moderately entertaining, with promising welterweight prospect Dusty Hernandez-Harrison of Washington D.C. getting a near shutout decision against Tommy Rainone. Hernandez-Harrison (25-0, 13 KOs) is just 20, while Rainone (22-6-1, 4 KOs), turned 35 the day before the fight. Between the undercard and main event, rapper Fabolous put on a show, using the ring as a stage. His performance lasted nearly as long as the fights.
Shaw joins the Roc Nation: As part of the new Roc Nation Sports operation, Gary Shaw of Gary Shaw Productions will fold his operation into the new promoter’s boxing division and run the show. Shaw has a noteworthy history including time with Main Events before founding his own company. Shaw’s fighters will now be promoted by Roc Nation Sports, including heavyweight Jennings, junior welterweight Thomas Dulorme, welterweight Francisco Santana, and former middleweight titleholer Daniel Geale who lost to Gennady Golovkin last July.
New affiliations: Golden Boy Promotions founder Oscar De La Hoya and former CEO Richard Schaefer have formally parted ways. What this means for fans: several former GBP affiliated boxers represented by mega manager Al Haymon will move on, including junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia, former two division champion Adrien Broner, middleweight belt holder Danny Jacobs, and former welterweight champion Marcos Maidana. The Los Angeles Times reports Deontay Wilder will also move on; he faces Canadian heavyweight Bermane Stiverne in Montreal next Saturday, January 17. Several fighters represented by Haymon will stick with GBP including super bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz and British boxer Amir Khan, at least for now. De La Hoya said Haymon’s demands on behalf of his clients made it impossible to arrange decent fights.
Andre Ward returns: The longtime dispute between super middleweight Andre Ward and Goossen Promotions finally appears settled, as Ward announced he’d signed with Roc Nation Sports just prior to the event at MSG Friday. Ward, once (and still by many) considered the best pound for pound boxer in the sport, has sat out much of the last three years with only two fights since December 2011. In comparison, Gennady Golovkin has faced nine opponents in that time, with a bout scheduled in Monte Carlo against Martin Murray on Feburary 21. Ward is a possible opponent for Golovkin, a fight many believe would seal the reputation of the victor as the best in the sport.
Ukrainians prevail in California: Overshadowed by the hoopla in New York, Ukrainian born boxers Ivan Redkach and Eyhen (or Ievgen) Khytrov had little trouble with their opponents in bouts in Cabazon, California near Palm Springs on Showtime. It was middleweight Redkach’s first bout under new trainer Robert Garcia of Oxnard. The change agrees with him, as “El Terrible” (18-0, 14 KOs) scored a sixth round TKO of Yakubu Amidu of Ghana (19-6-2, 17 KOs) to remain undefeated. Amidu was down twice in the sixth but finished the round. Although his trainer wanted him to continue, Amidu called it a day, saying his leg or foot was injured.
Countryman Khyrov also remains undefeated with a perfect stoppage rate (8-0, 8 KOs) after beating another previous undefeated fighter, Maurice Louishomme (8-1-1, 4 KOs). Khytrov knocked down Louishomme in the first round, but the bout continued until a referee stoppage 24 seconds into round three.
Don’t cry for me, Peru: Jonathan Maicelo hoped to become the first title holder in men’s boxing from Peru, but Darleys Perez of Colombia got in his way, holding on to his interim lightweight title with a unanimous decision in Santa Ynez, California on ESPN’s inaugural Friday Night Fights of 2015. Maicelo (21-2, 12 KOs), was strong early despite being rocked by Perez in the first round, but once Perez (32-1 20 KOs) settled down, he came on strong in the second half of the fight.
GGG got next: At a news conference in advance of middleweight Gennady Golovkin’s bout against Irish boxer Martin Murray in Monte Carlo in February, it was hard not to look past the upcoming bout at whether Golovkin might finally face a bigger name challenger in 2015. Golovkin has said he wants Miguel Cotto; certainly he will fight the winner of a Cotto vs. Canelo Alvarez fight. Trainer Abel Sanchez has his own agenda; he’d like to see Golovkin take down Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. Now that Golvokin has moved to Los Angeles and has developed a strong and growing Mexican and Mexican-American fan base, it’s a fight that would set off fireworks in Southern California. Bring it on.
Manny Pacquiao and Miss Universe: Miss Universe pageant officials announced that eight division champion Manny Pacquiao would serve as a judge for its upcoming 2015 competition on Saturday, January 25, in Doral, Florida. This could be tricky for Congressman Pacquiao if a Filipina is in the finals, to say nothing of what wife Jinkee thinks about the assignment. He is certainly qualified to judge the competitors’ fitness.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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