Pedraza defeats LesPierre in unanimous decision (Photos)

Pedraza in search of another title in third weight class

By The Sports Pulse Staff

Photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

LAS VEGAS  — Former two-weight world champion Jose Pedraza’s quest for a title in a third weight class is alive and well. Pedraza, from Cidra, Puerto Rico, toppled Mikkel LesPierre via unanimous decision (100-88 and 99-89 2x) Thursday night in a junior welterweight bout.

Pedraza and LesPierre were scheduled to fight June 18, but the bout was postponed after LesPierre’s manager tested positive for COVID-19. Pedraza returned to the MGM Grand “Bubble” in fine form, blunting his southpaw opponent’s offense.

Pedraza (27-3, 13 KOs) knocked down LesPierre (22-2-1, 10 KOs) in the fifth round and showed his class down the home stretch. Another knockdown the 10th was the exclamation point on a nearly flawless performance. For Pedraza, it was a much-needed win, as he was coming off a decision loss to Jose Zepeda last September on the Tyson Fury-Otto Wallin undercard.

“Mikkel was a tough opponent, but I stuck to my game plan. I wanted the knockout, but he stayed strong in there. I give him a lot of credit,” Pedraza said. “I would like to fight any of the world champions, but we have to see what happens next. I proved I belong with the top guys in the 140-pound division.”

— Revenge was officially served. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez (4-1, 3 KOs) dominated Adan Gonzales (5-3-2, 2 KOs) over six rounds in a featherweight rematch of their August 2019 bout, won by Gonzales via split decision. All three judges scored the bout 60-54, as Ramirez officially closed the chapter on his nightmarish professional debut.

“I wanted to put our first fight behind me, and I did that. Ever since our first fight, I wanted the rematch. I am glad this chapter of my career is behind me now,” Ramirez said. “A couple more rounds and I could’ve scored the knockout. But I’ll take the win and continue to work hard on my craft. I have the best trainer in Ismael Salas.”

— Toledo native and junior lightweight contender “Prince” Albert Bell (17-0, 5 KOs) outboxed Mark “Machete” Bernaldez over 10 rounds, claiming a unanimous decision by scores of 100-90 3x. 

— A straight right hand was all she wrote, as Dominican sensation Elvis Rodriguez (7-0-1, 7 KOs) knocked out Danny Murray (5-4) at 2:17 of the opening round of a junior welterweight bout.

— In a six-round heavyweight rumble featuring a pair of 280-plus-pound heavyweights, Kingsley Ibeh (5-1, 4 KOs) won his second “Bubble” bout in a week, edging Patrick Mailata (4-1, 2 KOs) by majority decision (57-57 and 58-56 2x). 

— In a 10-round featherweight slugfest, Jose Enrique Vivas (19-1, 10 KOs) defeated Carlos Jackson (16-1, 11 KOs) by unanimous decision. All three judges scored the bout 97-93, as Vivas swept the last three rounds on two of the judges’ cards to clinch the win.

Saucedo shines against Fredrickson in unanimous decision (Photos)

By The Sports Pulse Staff

Photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

LAS VEGAS  — The fighting pride of Oklahoma City put forth a clinic in Las Vegas. Junior welterweight contender Alex Saucedo, fighting for the second time since falling short in a world title bid, bested Sonny Fredrickson by unanimous decision Tuesday evening at the MGM Grand Conference Center — Grand Ballroom. 

The scores (100-90, 99-91 and 98-92) were lopsided in favor of Saucedo (30-1, 19 KOs), who used sustained pressure to pile up the points.

According to CompuBox, Saucedo outlanded Fredrickson, 318-172. 

Fredrickson (21-3, 14 KOs), from Toledo, Ohio, dropped his second fight in a row.

“We worked on a lot of things in the gym. It was important for me to get the rounds in, and Sonny was a tough opponent,” Saucedo said. “I am ready to take over the 140-pound division. Whatever opportunity comes my way, I will take advantage of it. Most importantly, I got rid of the ring rust and went 10 hard rounds.”

— Josue “The Prodigy” Vargas hit Salvador Briceno with everything, including the kitchen sink. After 10 rounds, Briceno was still standing, and Vargas earned a unanimous decision by scores of 100-90 2x and 99-91. Vargas (17-1, 9 KOs), a rising junior welterweight contender, extended his winning streak to 11. Briceno (17-6, 11 KOs) fell to 2-3 in his last five outings.

— Junior welterweight prospect John “El Terrible” Bauza (14-0, 5 KOs) returned from a nearly yearlong layoff, besting “Lethal” Larry Fryers (11-3, 4 KOs) by eight-round unanimous decision (80-72 2x and 79-73).

— Two weeks after a decision loss inside “The Bubble,” Detroit native Isiah Jones (9-2, 3 KOs) rebounded to defeat the previously undefeated Donte Stubbs (6-1, 2 KOs) via majority decision in a six-round middleweight bout. Jones, the first Bubble returnee, prevailed by scores of 57-57, 58-56 and 59-55.

Coronavirus has shut down local boxing gyms

By Ron Harris/The Sports Pulse Boxing Writer

WASHINGTON – COVID-19 has shut down sports from middle school to the pro game. The major competitions are just beginning to put together schedule proposals for consideration between owners and the players.
Nothing has been decided as of this report for many leagues such as MLB, but those are team sports.

Individual sports, like boxing, have also been hit hard, no pun intended.
Several local, DMV gyms are ghost towns. All have been stopped in their tracks by this deadly virus.

Old School Gym run by Buddy Harrison in Prince George’s County may have been hit the hardest.

“My gym closed down,” Harrison said. “Several family members were laid off from their jobs. It’s been hard,” said Harrison, who trains his son Dusty an up and coming contender. “I have a roof over my head, and I am luckier than most.”

Harrison uses his gym for more than just getting boxers ready to fight.

“My gym is more of a shelter than a boxing gym. I have a lot of kids from broken families and foster homes, and they feel much safer in my gym than they do at home, so when it closed, I worry about them. I keep in touch with some of them.”

Championship trainer Barry Hunter runs the Headbangers Gym in Southwest, Washington, D.C. Hunter is well known as the trainer of the Peterson brothers, Lamont and Anthony.

Lamont is a former world champion fighter.

Lamont Peterson (pictured above). Courtesy photo.

“Covid has been disruptive,” We were supposed to fight on the MGM card on March 14. We got a call on the 12th that the card was canceled, and it has been downhill since then.”

Hunter trains pro fighters as well as young amateur boxers.

“Our whole program is structured.” The typical day pre-virus was thrown off. “We now open the gym around 10 am and stay until 2 or 3, and then the kids would come in and stay to around 9 or 9:30. It was a big void. We had been doing it a certain way for many years.”

“We are following the Districts’ opening schedules. I think we are in phase one of the opening. Once we open, we are going to have the gym disinfected every day before and after the classes,” Hunter said.

Barry Hunter (pictured above). Courtesy photo.

We will limit the number of people in the gym to 10 and below.” Safety will be their top priority. “We will have hand sanitizers, and the fighters must have their own gear. We cannot have any sparring yet. We are following the CDC guidelines.”

The Russell family is in a different category.

“Our gym is a private gym. It is just like my own home. It is in PG County, but it is private”, says Gary Russell, Sr., who trains his sons Antonio, Antuanne, and current world champion, Gary Russell, Jr. “I am allowing my family to train. None of them have the virus, but we are not allowing the many others that use the gym to come in.”

Gary Sr. has left several messages with Al Heyman, the boxing promoter that schedules all the Russell brothers fights. “I don’t know why I have not heard from Al. He has my number. We are trying to find out what is going on with the future.”

Stevenson outclasses Caraballo, Boxing is Back

By The Sports Pulse Staff

LAS VEGAS — Shakur Stevenson put on a show as the WBO featherweight world champion (who made his super featherweight debut on June 9) knocked out Puerto Rican contender Felix “La Sombra” Caraballo in the sixth round of a scheduled 10-rounder at MGM Grand Conference Center—Grand Ballroom in Las Vegas.

Stevenson showcased his talents in the first major boxing card in the United States since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

A body shot spelled the end for Caraballo (13-2-2, 9 KOs), who had won five in a row before tonight. For Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs), the sky remains the limit. 

Everything about this fight week was different. After my last fight was canceled, I was happy to showcase my skills for all of the boxing fans,” Stevenson said. “He hit me with a couple shots, more than I’m used to, a couple jabs here and there. He was a tough guy, but I felt great in there after my training camp in Houston.”

“What a magnificent performance by Shakur Stevenson, said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “He keeps on getting better, and rest assured, he is a future pound-for-pound superstar.”

Big Baby pacifies Langston

Heavyweight sensation Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson (4-0, 4 KOs) wore down Johnnie Langston (8-3, 3 KOs) before a furious barrage ended things at 1:55 of the third round. Anderson was extended past the first round for the first time in his career.

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Jared Anderson earns the fourth win of his career over Johnnie Langston. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

“He took some good shots. He was a tough opponent. I did what I wanted to. I did some stuff I didn’t want to do. I got caught with a good shot. It didn’t hurt me, but I definitely got caught with it,” Anderson said. “I know a different opponent could hurt me with a shot like that. We’ll go back to the drawing board and see what I did wrong.

“This wasn’t what I expected, but it was a great experience. I’m happy I got the opportunity to showcase my talents on ESPN at such a young age.”

Are you not entertained?

Guido “The Gladiator” Vianello (7-0, 7 KOs) knocked out Don Haynesworth (16-4-1, 14 KOs) in the opening round, the fourth first-round stoppage of Vianello’s young career. A right hand knocked Haynesworth down, and referee Jay Nady stopped the bout.

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Guido Vianello drops Don Haynesworth and earns the 16th win of his pro career. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

“It was an interesting experience. I spent three days relaxing in my hotel room, but everything went according to plan,” Vianello said. “I knew the right hand would be there, so I worked to set up that shot. I could not have asked for anything more.”

He’s not an amateur anymore…

Two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez (3-1, 3 KOs) notched his third consecutive win, knocking out Yeuri Andujar (5-4, 3 KOs) in the opening round. Referee Tony Weeks called a halt to the contest after Andujar was knocked down for a second time. 

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Two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez notched his third consecutive win, knocking out Yeuri Andujar. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

“It was an honor to be the first fight back, and I am proud of the performance I gave tonight. My pro debut is long behind me, and I am progressing with every fight. I hope to return shortly,” Ramirez said. “I have a great trainer in Ismael Salas, who continues to add dimensions to my game. He is the man to lead me to a world title.”

Cashing In

Quatavious Cash (12-2, 7 KOs) rolled to a six-round technical decision over Calvin Metcalf (10-4-1, 3 KOs) after an accidental head clash opened a cut over Metcalf’s eye. The scorecards read 60-54, 60-55 and 59-55.

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Quatavious Cash rolled to a six-round technical decision over Calvin Metcalf. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Stevenson steps back into the ring against Caraballo

Q+A: Both Fighters are ready to get it on tomorrow night

By The Sports Pulse Staff

Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

GREENBELT – Boxing is back with a premier card that will kick things off tomorrow night (June 9) from the MGM Grand Conference Center Grand Ballroom with one of the sport’s most dynamic young stars, WBO featherweight world champion Shakur Stevenson, who is testing the waters in a 10-round super featherweight bout against Puerto Rican contender Felix “La Sombra” Caraballo.

The June 9 and June 11 events —June 11 being headlined by Jessie Magdaleno vs. Yenifel Vicente — will be televised by ESPN and ESPN Deportes starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. It will be a four-hour block of programming both evenings.

Here are opening statements from the Founder and Chairman of Top Rank, Mr. Bob Arum, Evan Korn of Top Rank Media Relations and the fighters.

Arum: Well, it looks like we’re back, you know. This is a momentous occasion. Boxing is back after a three-month lapse. I’m really proud that Top Rank is the first promoter out of the box. We have a great fight on a great show on June 9, then we continue on {with} virtually two and three boxing events a week. Boxing is going to come back — believe me — bigger and more important than ever. 

And in this two-month period in June or July, where it looks like there won’t be any NBA, any Major League Baseball, the spotlight will be on the sport of boxing, and with bouts that we’ve lined up, I believe that the public will once again be enthused about the competitive level in the sport.
 
Korn: We have Felix Caraballo with us now. So, first, before we get to the questions, Felix, what can you tell us about this opportunity in front of you fighting a world champion like Shakur Stevenson as boxing makes its big return?

Caraballo: Fighting with Shakur is going to be interesting. I can’t let this opportunity go, I’ve trained hard, and I’m going to give it my all, I’m going to give everything. I’m going to do my work and try to get that ‘W.’

Q: Felix, I’ve got two questions for you: First one is, can you just tell me a little bit about your feelings about having your first fight outside of Puerto Rico, and it would be in somewhat unusual circumstances given there wouldn’t be any fans in attendance? 

Caraballo: Well, I feel great, I feel emotional. My last fight was in January and knowing that I’m going to fight now in June with Shakur Stevenson, knowing that he’s one of the best boxers right now, and he’s the {featherweight} champion. I’m a 126, too, but they gave me this opportunity at 130, and I’m going to go and give it my all.

I want to fight, and it’s not going to have the public {in attendance}, but I don’t have no problem with that. I just want to go to that ring and do my job. 

Q: You’ve basically fought your whole career at featherweight, Shakur has done the same. I know you’re excited about the fight, getting back in the ring, but is there any small part that it’s disappointing that you’re getting a chance to fight against the world champion, but yet it’s not going to be for that title?

Caraballo: From a business point, it’s not about that title; I think it’s every boxer’s dream {to earn a title shot}.

So, I’m going to get this great opportunity and I’m going to give it my all, and I know that if we win, we could open all the doors, we could have more fights and better fights.

Q: Bob, can you just briefly explain the process of how went about bringing these fights back? And I sort of get it that these initial bouts are not for titles that you have world champions, but can you just explain the thought behind that? 

Arum: Yes. I mean, this is not an easy job. It seems like it’s easy but my people, {Top Rank COO} Brad Jacobs and {Top Rank President} Todd duBoef, they have all really been working for months on this getting the protocols in shape, the testing, working with the Nevada Commission and its medical staff. I mean, this is something that nobody — at least on our end — had any experience with. So, it’s really been a work in progress, and it continues to be a work in progress.

Imagine guys come into Vegas to get into the bubble, which is a special floor at the MGM. They got to be tested there in the bubble, they’ve got to be escorted to a place to shake out and train, a place to eat. We have a special dining room set up in the convention center. All of this is something that none of us are used to.

Now, we are not starting out with title fights, but we’re going to have them before long, by the third week, start doing some world title fights because there are other issues with the organizations, which we’re working out.

So, it’s one step at a time. It’s not easy and it’s not inexpensive. For example, testing — just the testing — for coronavirus for each event will cost us in excess of $25,000. Just the testing. Plus, the rooms, the special security, the meals in the convention area. This is a very, very large undertaking, but obviously, it has to be done. We’ve got to get boxing started up. We’re going to probably be doing this perhaps for three months, for June, July, definitely, and then in August. And hopefully, by September, we’re going to start getting back to doing events with spectators with a limited capacity. That’s the second phase that we’re working on.

And the third phase, hopefully, by the end of the year, we’ll be doing events with virtually full capacity. But that’s down the line. So, I mean, this is a really big responsibility on our part to start this up, start it up on the right foot. As I said, our protocols, which we’ve been working on for months, are available to all promoters all over the world. There’s no competition here. We want to get everybody to do the right things necessary to get started in boxing as big as possible.

Q: I was wondering if you could tell us what type of fight you expect Caraballo to give Shakur Stevenson and maybe a little bit about Caraballo as a fighter. 

Arum: Well, I’m the wrong guy. I mean, Carl Moretti and our matchmakers are familiar with Caraballo. They think it’s a very competitive fight; that’s good enough for me. I’ve never seen the young man fight, but he comes highly recommended by Moretti and our matchmakers. 

Q:  What are you expecting from Shakur at 130 pounds, Bob? 

Arum: Shakur is — I said it when we did our first fight — a future star in the sport of boxing, a future superstar. I look at him as the southpaw version of Floyd Mayweather, and I think he will exceed the performances by Floyd. I just think he’s a rare, rare talent, and I think that he’s a young man who’s growing in size and so I think 130 pounds will be a brief stop in his career because he’s growing into a welterweight and maybe even a junior middleweight. 

Q: Felix, my first question is obviously, not a lot of people know a lot about you given that there’s not a lot of video and you’ve primarily fought in Puerto Rico. But what does it mean to you to sort of kind of coming into this position, not just an underdog, but someone who the general audience in the United States really has no idea of how you are at the fighter? Is that going to help with motivation or with potentially coming up and surprising everyone?

Caraballo: Well, it’s hard because I know there’s not a lot of videos on me, nobody knows about me a lot. I’ve been {under the radar}, but I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. I think when we get to a fight, we’re just going to do our job. 

Q: Right now, you are 13-1-2 with 9 KOs. Now, the first thing that comes to mind is a fighter by the name of Jeison Rosario, and I’m wondering if you look at how he came to into the fight as an underdog, meaning we really didn’t know who he was and in the situation that you have right now, you’re fighting in an unprecedented time. So, my question is, is there any extra pressure or do you feel that this is what you need or something like this to actually get you to where you’ve always wanted to be in boxing?

Caraballo: Well, actually, I don’t got no pressure. I feel that this moment, I have to give it all, and this is a great opportunity, like I always say. And I’m going to fight, I’m going to give it all on June 9.

And I know that I’m going with a great boxer. He’s got speed, he’s got technique, but I’m going to work. He’s going to make me work and I’m going to make him work. I know it’s going to be a great fight, and I get motivated because I know that this opportunity doesn’t happen twice. 

Q: How is it for you to be featured in the first large-scale boxing event in the US after the whole COVID-19 thing? 

Caraballo: Well, it’s great for me. I never thought I was going to fight this year again because of this whole pandemic. I thought I wasn’t going to fight this year. And when I got the call, well, I was excited, I just got ready and started training harder because I never stopped training. But I got excited, and I started training hard for this fight. I started training more. 

Q: Shakur, I know this is a non-title fight at 130. Is it your intention to go back down to 126 after this fight?

Stevenson: I don’t know yet. I got to see how I feel at 130, at making the 130 weight. That’d be a question I can answer better for you after the fight. So, right now, no, I can’t really give you a spot-on answer.

Q: Shakur, I remember talking to you on that Friday after your fight and your whole card got canceled. What was that weekend like for you? 

Stevenson: It was really bad because of the fact that I trained eight weeks, spent a lot of money on training camp, and then to find out that I wasn’t getting paid, that kind of made me mad. To find out that I wasn’t fighting made me mad because I felt like I put a lot of work in, I felt like I was gonna perform really good. I was mad at that.

So, it wasn’t a good week, but being around my family and friends kind of made it a lot better. 

Q: Bob, I’ve got a question for you. Should Shakur indicate to you that he does have a couple of fights left at 126, would you try to revisit the Josh Warrington situation for him? 

Arum: Absolutely. You know, let’s see what’s happening. Again, we’re in uncertain times… who knows when we’ll be able to do events with spectators? That’s a fight that needs spectators and I know that the promoters over in the UK are working towards that. We’re working towards that, absolutely, whether it’s going to be in the States or in the UK, we want that fight —the Warrington fight — to happen. I promised that to Shakur.

Now, if, on the other hand, he feels that he’s better off going to 130, we’ll go along with that. In other words, I’m not going to force a fighter to fight at a weight which he shouldn’t be fighting at because it takes too much out of them to make the weight. 

So, Shakur has great people with him, great technical people, his corner people, his manager, James Prince. They’ll discuss it with him and discuss it with us. But certainly, if he decides to stay at 126, I’m going to, one way or the other, make the Warrington fight happen. 

Q: Shakur. I was just wondering did you have any familiarity at all with Felix Caraballo before you knew he was your opponent? 

Stevenson: No, I ain’t never heard of him before.

Q: But since you found out he was your opponent —I know there’s not a lot of videos available of him- — what have you been able to find out and how much footage have you been able to find on him to study? 

Stevenson: I watched like one round. I see everything I needed to see in that one round, and I see a lot of holding in his game, so I’m going to expose it.

Q: The one round that you saw — I mean, without giving away your game plan or anything — what did you notice?

Stevenson: I noticed that he’s nowhere near on my level.

Q:  Do you expect him to come forward–like what are you expecting from him?

Stevenson: I expect him to come out loud and try to land a big shot. 

Q: What was it like for you, Shakur, to have the extra four pounds? I know you haven’t made weight yet, of course, but what has it been like for you two to try to make 130 as opposed to 126, how much more comfortable? 

Stevenson: I’d say it’s a little bit more comfortable, but I think that I’m really a 130-pounder, honestly what I’ve been feeling like, for sure. 

Q: The last time you had to make 126 — I know you didn’t get to the scale because the fight got canceled — but how was it for you the last time you were training to make 126? 

Stevenson: It actually was better than I thought it was gonna go, but it’s still work to get there. It’s not easy. I’m a really big 126.  

Q: Obviously, the world is going through a large amount of turmoil with the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd. How have the problems surrounding our country and the world impacted you mentally and emotionally and how have you been dealing with those emotions?

Stevenson: Honestly, I’ve been more focused on my fight. I understand everything that’s going on and I’m with my people in everything that’s going on, but I got a fight coming up so I’ve been in the gym every day, {and then} going home. When I go home, I’m watching boxing. I’ve been in camp so I’m not really too focused on anything that’s going on outside. I’m more locked in on what’s going on the inside as far as boxing.

Q: Talking about the boxing, your last fight was eight months ago. As far as you know, having that kind of distance between fights, do you think that time off will impact you either positively or negatively, and what goals you have to yourself physically and what you hope to see from yourself in this fight?

Stevenson: No, I don’t think time off is going to do anything because I’m a gym rat and I’m always in the gym. So, me being a gym rat and in the gym, I probably got to get off a little rust in the first to two rounds, but other than that, I’m ready to go. I’m in the gym every day, ain’t no way I’m having rust just from being off for eight months and not been sparring. I did a full training camp on March 14 and then got right back in the gym, took like a month off, and then got in the gym. So, I’m a gym rat. I don’t think it’s going to affect me.

Q:  Bob, you’ve been very transparent and very open with how you see things going in the future. Looking at the UFC, what are the large or significant missteps you saw in the way they handled the opening of sporting life combat sports and what have you done, would you say, maybe the one or two things that you’ve done differently than them?

Arum: Oh, we didn’t feel the protocols that the UFC had when they opened up Florida were adequate. But again, you have to understand that they were the first out of the box, and so the fact that they made mistakes, you know that’s understandable. They now have done an event in Nevada and they’re under the same type of protocols that we are, and I think it’s all good because the Nevada Commission has cleared everything, whether it’s a UFC event or a Top Rank event, and their interest in the safety of the participants are the same for us and now for UFC. 

So, I have to commend the State of Nevada, the governor, and the athletic commission in the type of effort and work that they’ve done to enable us to do these events on a basis of as much safety as humanly possible.

Q: Given that you don’t have the WBO featherweight championship and there was talk about you potentially have a reunification match with Josh Warrington, there is one fighter that has said that you are basically the only one that has the courage to step up to him and that’s the WBC champ, Gary Russell Jr. How would you feel about a potential match-up with Gary Russell, Jr.? 

Stevenson: That’d be a hell of a fight with me and Gary. I think we really are the best two featherweights, skill-wise, in the division, so I think that’d be a hell of a fight. 

Right, Gary knows I’m the only one that… I see how he talks about everybody else, he doesn’t respect a lot of the other fighters, but he respects me a lot because he’s been around me, he knows I’m a boxer, he knows what I’m about. So, I understand Gary when he said that.

Q: And how is it like working with the team around you with Andre Ward being by your side and also sometimes working with Terence Crawford? 

Stevenson: It’s good to have them people around me, and I appreciate having them. Andre Ward is a big blessing to me. He helps me out in a lot of ways inside and outside the ring. So, Terence is also like… Terence keeps me competitive, like keeps my mindset competitive because I’m just as competitive as him, but he’s so competitive, it makes me be even more competitive. So, like those guys in my life and in my career, it helps me a lot. 

Q: You’ve mentioned that you’re not sure of what your future is going to be in terms of staying at 130 or going back to 126 after this fight. But is there a part of you that’s kind of already thinking of how you would fare against any of the other champions at 130 in anticipation for what I presume is an eventual move up to 130? 

Stevenson: Of course. Of course, I think that the champions at 130 are all decent fighters. I’ve already pictured myself in the ring with all of them already, so I’ve already been thinking about that. I’ve been thinking about being in the ring with Oscar Valdez, with Russell, {Leo} Santa Cruz, JoJo {Diaz}, even Jamel {Herring}, if I have to. 

Q:  Do you feel that with those potential fights, do you feel that it may be easier to get them done down the road than it is for, say, a fight against Josh Warrington because I know that’s been a fight you’ve been wanting for well over a year now at this point? 

Stevenson: Yeah, I think that’d definitely be an easier fight with Josh Warrington. With Josh Warrington, there comes a lot of business and politics with that like…. as far as the money being made for the fight and stuff like that. So, I think them fights would be a lot easier, because like Valdez and Berchelt and them guys, they’re with Top Rank. JoJo is with Golden Boy. I just fought a Golden Boy fight in my last fight {Joet Gonzalez}, so I think them fights would be lot easier than a Warrington fight. 

Nicholson shows poise, earns a split decision

Crossed suffers first loss of pro career

By Ron Harris/The Sports Pulse Boxing Writer

HANOVER – It was 12:50 a.m. when the two main event fighters entered the ring at the Hall at Live! Hotel and Casino. The event was sold out, but several of the fans had left the building after a long night of professional boxing.

Laurel native Demond Nicholson survived and won a split decision over Mike Guy from Sacramento in a fight many thought was not even close. The judges saw it differently and posted scores of 95-94 twice for Nicholson and 96-93 for Guy.

Guy seemed to have only one strategy, and that was to bull rush Nicholson the entire fight and hope to land something hard. He did so in the sixth round when he caught Nicholson with a clean right hand and put him on his knees.

“I hurt him in the sixth round, and I relaxed a little, and he caught me with a good shot,” Nicholson said. “I was not hurt, but I was dizzy, and I had to hold on to get my head cleared. It was early in the round, so I had to hang in there.”

Nicholson (left) throws a punch at Mike Guy (right). Courtesy photo.

Nicholson needed to show poise because Guy was in his face for all 10 rounds. Guy did not walk in behind his jab like most skilled fighters, he just took off and smothered Nicholson with wild punches that mostly hit on Demond’s gloves.

“Guy had fought some good fighters and was on a winning streak,” said veteran trainer Calvin Ford.

“His health is fine,” said Ford. “Did you see how he got up after the knockdown and kept fighting. That showed me something.”

Nicholson’s kidney issues are well documented, and he now is a spokesman for the Kidney Foundation.

However, Nicholson (23-3-1, 20 KOs) was not aware of the judge’s scores. “I knew I had won, so I didn’t pay attention to the scores.”

Nicholson was surprised when told one of the judges gave Guy the fight. “I thought I won at least nine rounds. I think he threw one jab the entire fight.” That one jab was hard to find. Guy (12-5-1, 5 KO’s) was a tough customer. Nicholson landed many hard jabs and right-hand combinations, and he kept coming. According to Ford, Nicholson needs to move up to the next level of competition in the coming months.

There were two co-featured bouts on the night. Washington, D.C. native Jordan White scored a seventh-round TKO over Ronaldo Solis from Cancun. White caught Solis with a looping left hook clean on his chin, and the fight was waived over by referee Kenny Chevalier. White improved to 10-1. White was presented the World Boxing Council Youth Intercontinental Super Featherweight belt after his win.

The other co-feature saw Greenbelt native Sam Crossed suffer his first loss to veteran fighter, Nick Kisner from Baltimore by a unanimous decision to win the Maryland State Cruiserweight title.

Crossed is now 9-1, while Kisner improved to 22-5-1. Other locals included Laurel’s Jay Stancil, III, who won on a first-round TKO to improve to 2-0. Malik Loften from Suitland lost a unanimous decision to Charles Clark from Dallas. Brandon Chambers from Owings Mills won a split decision over Christopher Haney to improve to 3-0-1.

Cockeysville native Anthony Williams scored a knockout of Michael Brock Willis in the third round and improved to 5-1. Ebrima Jawara from Germantown won a unanimous decision over Philip Davis and took his record to 4-1. In the first fight of the night, Blaze Fidler-Hernandez from Arnold scored a unanimous decision over Edward Hatler for his first win as a pro.

Two local fighters to showcase their talents at MD Live Casino tonight (Photos)

GREENBELT – Laurel, MD native and super middleweight pro boxer Demond Nicholson (22-3-1) will take on Mike Guy (12-4-1) at Maryland Live Casino this evening (Feb.28) and is the World Boxing Council United States (USNBC) Super Middle Title champion and holds the USA Maryland State Super Middle Title belt as well.

Another prime fight of the night will be between cruiserweight Sam Crossed (9-0) and Nick Kisner (21-5-1) for the vacant USA Maryland State Cruiser Title. The undefeated boxer from Greenbelt, MD has five knockouts to his name and both fighters met weight yesterday at the official weigh-in.

WBO No. 2 contender, Salamov, signs with Top Rank

By The Sports Pulse Staff

WASHINGTON —Top Rank has recently signed Russian light heavyweight Umar Salamov, the WBO No. 2 contender, to a multi-fight promotional agreement.

Salamov, 25, hails from Grozny, Russia, and is trained and managed by Kevin Barry, who is known for his work with the likes of David Tua, Robbie Peden and Joseph Parker.
 
Salamov, who is scheduled to return on an ESPN platform this summer, trains with Barry at the Team Barry Gym in Henderson, Nev.
 
“Now approaching the biggest time in my career, I am excited and very pleased to be signing with the world’s top boxing promoter, Mr. Bob Arum and Top Rank,” Salamov said. “I am confident that I now have the right team to take me all the way to a world championship. This opportunity is huge, and I plan on making the most of it.”
 
“At 25 years old, Salamov is a tremendous talent. At 6-foot-3½, he is a huge 175-pounder. His power and unorthodox style make him a difficult and dangerous challenge for any of the top light heavyweights,” Barry said. This is a very proud Chechen from a long line of battle-hardened fighters.”
 
Salamov (25-1, 19 KOs) has won six consecutive bouts since the lone defeat of his career, a July 2017 decision loss to Australian contender Damien Hooper on the Jeff Horn-Manny Pacquiao undercard in Brisbane, Australia.

He has won five of his last six by knockout and has made three defenses of the WBO International light heavyweight title he won via second-round KO over Denis Liebau.

The last time this young superstar fought was in September 2019 in Grozny, thrilling the hometown fans with a third-round stoppage over big-punching Ghanaian Emmanuel Danso. He hails from the same region of Russia as promotional stablemate and IBF/WBC light heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev.
 
Salamov has his sights set on the WBO world title, last held by Canelo Alvarez, who vacated the title shortly after dethroning Sergey Kovalev last November.
 
“Umar is a gentle giant of a young man, an excellent fighter who has only begun to tap his immense potential,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “With Kevin Barry in his corner, he is in great hands. The light heavyweight division is on fire, and Umar is ready to add his name to the championship mix.”