Teofimo Lopez: “Nobody is Going to Stand in My Way”

OXON HILL, Md.: Teofimo Lopez is on the fast track to a world title shot. Standing in his way is a fellow unbeaten fighter, Masayoshi Nakatani, the longtime OBPF lightweight king who represents the stiffest test of Lopez’s young career.

Lopez (13-0, 11 KOs) and Nakatani (18-0, 12 KOs) will meet Friday at MGM National Harbor in an IBF world title eliminator, with the winner assured a shot at world champion Richard Commey later this year. The stakes are high, and Lopez, who has never gone past seven rounds as a pro, might have to go significant professional rounds for the first time. The consensus 2018 Prospect of the Year, Lopez has knocked out his last five opponents, most recently stopping Edis Tatli in five rounds April 20 on the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan pay-per-view undercard.

Lopez-Nakatani and the IBF junior welterweight world title eliminator between unbeatens Maxim Dadashev and Subriel Matias will stream live on ESPN+ — the industry-leading sports streaming service — starting at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

The middleweight clash between Esquiva Falcao and Jesus Antonio Gutierrez will be the featured bout on the undercard stream live on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT. 

Two days before his first main event as a pro, at a media workout at Old School Boxing, this is what Lopez had to say.

On Friday’s fight

“I see myself as a performer in the ring, and I am coming to the MGM National Harbor to put on a show. I have respect for Nakatani because he is undefeated like me, but nobody is going to stand in my way.”

On the future

“This is what my father and I have worked for since I started training as a young kid. He envisioned this type of success for me, and here we are, headlining a card on ESPN+ one win away from a world title shot.”

“We all know what is at stake on Friday. But if you think too far ahead, you get careless. Nakatani is my only concern right now. After Friday night, we can talk about the future. Nakatani has been fighting 12-rounders since before I turned pro, so he has a lot of valuable experience. I believe my talent will outweigh his experience.”

“I say this before all of my fights — I go in there to take over the show. I’m a main event fighter now, and that won’t change. When people watch me fight, they put down their phones because they don’t want to miss anything. For the boxing fans living in the Northeast, come down and watch me fight. And if you can’t make it down, check out the best show of the weekend on ESPN+.”

On his role as an entertainer

“I do all of that stuff — the backflips and the Fortnite celebrations — because I want to entertain. I want people to remember my name. I’m a fighter, but I am also an entertainer. That’s been lost in today’s game. I’m unique in the sport of boxing.”

On his recent weight struggles

“The weight is not an issue. I’ve been working with a new nutrition team, Perfecting Athletes, and they have made all the difference. I’ll be able to make lightweight for a few more fights.”

Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Robeisy Ramirez to Make Pro Debut August 10

PHILADELPHIA: Robeisy Ramirez, one of the greatest Cuban amateur boxers ever, has a date for his long-awaited professional debut. The two-time Olympic gold medalist will take on an opponent to be named in a featherweight contest Saturday, Aug. 10 at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia on the undercard of Carl Frampton’s featherweight battle against Emmanuel Dominguez.

The Ramirez fight will stream live as part of the undercard broadcast on ESPN+ — the industry-leading sports streaming service — beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Peltz Boxing and Queensberry Promotions, tickets priced at $100, $55 and $35 (not including applicable fees) are on sale now and can be purchased at the Liacouras Center Box Office and www.liacourascenter.com, or by calling Peltz Boxing at 215-765-0922.

“I started boxing when I was 10 years old,” Ramirez said. “After winning two Olympic gold medals, I knew I wanted to join the world of professional boxing. I hope I can achieve the same success professionally that I did as an amateur, and I believe that Top Rank will provide me with the path to fulfill my dreams.
“I am 25 years old with a lot of experience fighting the best fighters in the world. This is the first step on my journey to a professional world title.”

Ramirez, from Cienfuegos, Cuba, won the second of his gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, edging current promotional stablemate Shakur Stevenson in the final. He made history at the 2012 London Olympics when, at the age of 18, he became the youngest men’s Olympic boxing champion in 32 years. Ramirez defected from Cuba last year while at training camp in Mexico and is ready to bring his amateur pedigree to the paid ranks.

For more information, visit: www.toprank.comwww.espn.com/boxing; Facebook: facebook.com/trboxing; Twitter: twitter.com/trboxing.

Use the hashtags #FramptonDominguez and #Robeisy to join the conversation on social media.

Michael McKinson-Evgeny Pavko Welterweight Clash Headlines MTK Fight Night

One of Great Britain’s most promising welterweights, Michael “The Problem” McKinson, is ready to conquer Europe. McKinson, a native of Portsmouth, England, will take on Russian veteran Evgeny Pavko in a 10-rounder for the vacant WBO European welterweight title on the latest edition of #MTKFightNight Saturday from the Brentwood Centre in Brentwood, England.

McKinson-Pavko will headline a scheduled four-bout card that will stream live on ESPN+ — the industry-leading sports streaming service — beginning at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT.

“This is a good bout,” McKinson said. “Nobody in Britain wanted to fight me, so we’ve had to go the harder route and take on a dangerous Russian.”

McKinson (16-0, 2 KOs), a slick southpaw, is taking a step up in competition after winning both the WBC Youth and WBC International silver welterweight belts in less than five years as a professional. He last fought March 9 at the Brentwood Centre, outboxing Ryan Kelly over 10 rounds. Pavko (18-2-1, 13 KOs), from Kopeysk, Russia, is 2-0 since moving up from the super lightweight division. Unbeaten in three career fights outside of Russia, Pavko has not fought in seven months. Last December, he stopped the previously undefeated Fedor Vinogradov on cuts following the fifth round.

In other action scheduled for ESPN+ we will see Rising British welterweight prospect Shaquille “The Black Mexican” Day (12-0, 2 KOs) will fight countryman Louis Adolphe (10-1, 1 KO) in a 10-rounder for the vacant British Southern Area welterweight strap. Day has knocked out two of his last three opponents. Former amateur star Chantelle Cameron (10-0, 7 KOs) will make her third ring appearance of 2019 versus Anisha Basheel (8-5, 8 KOs) in a 10-round WBC world title lightweight eliminator for the belt currently held by undisputed world champion Katie Taylor. Basheel has won eight straight fights by knockout since beginning her career 0-5 and is coming off a first-round stoppage over Sam “SJ” Smith for the vacant Commonwealth female lightweight title. Thomas Patrick Ward (26-0, 4 KOs) will look to notch his second win of the year against Brayan Mairena (10-12-1, 4 KOs) in an eight-round featherweight tilt. 

Fans can sign-up for ESPN+ at any time by going here.

Benavidez-Collazo and Navarrete-De Vaca Set for Inaugural Fight Card at Banc of California Stadium

LOS ANGELES: The soccer field will become a fistic battleground Saturday, August 17, as Jose Benavidez Jr. will battle former world champion Luis Collazo in a 10-round welterweight co-feature at Banc of California Stadium, the home of Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles FC.

In the other co-feature, WBO junior featherweight champion Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete will make the second defense of his title against the undefeated Francisco “Panchito” De Vaca.

Benavidez-Collazo and Navarrete-De Vaca will headline the inaugural fight card at the year-old stadium and will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. The undercard, including the returns of unbeaten super lightweight contender Arnold Barboza Jr., welterweight contender Chris van Heerden, undefeated middleweight sensation Janibek Alimkhanuly and featherweight Adam Lopez, will stream live on ESPN+ — the leading multi-sport streaming service — starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Zanfer Promotions and Iron Boy Promotions, tickets priced at $100, $80, $70, $60, $45 and $25 (not including applicable fees) go on sale Tuesday, July 16 at 10 a.m. PT and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 and in person at the Banc of California Stadium box office.

“I am very focused, and I see this as a must-win fight,” Benavidez said. “Collazo has been in the game for a long time and is still a top fighter, but I am going to push him towards retirement. He looks good for his age, but trust me, youth will prevail when we fight.”

“I’m coming for everything they said I couldn’t have,” Collazo said. “Talk is cheap. I’m here to show that I’m still one of the top welterweights in the world.”

Benavidez (27-1, 18 KOs) is coming off his most notable performance to date, a spirited effort in a 12th-round TKO loss versus pound-for-pound great Terence Crawford in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Crawford-Benavidez was ESPN’s most-watched boxing event of 2018, and now, the Phoenix native has a chance to return to title contention with a victory over Collazo (39-7, 20 KOs). A native of Brooklyn, New York, Collazo held a piece of the welterweight title from 2005-2006 and has remained a top contender in the 13 years since he lost his belt via controversial decision to Ricky Hatton. Collazo has won three in a row since falling short in a title challenge to Keith Thurman, most recently edging Samuel Vargas by split decision on St. Patrick’s Day at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Navarrete (27-1, 23 KOs) has won 22 consecutive bouts dating back to 2012, but his breakthrough came last December when he upset Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe via unanimous decision to win the WBO junior featherweight title. Five months later, in Tucson, Arizona, he repeated the deed, this time knocking out Dogboe in the 12th round. A native of San Juan Zitlaltepec, Mexico, Navarrete had a reported 108-7 record in the amateur ranks and comes from a family of fighters. His uncle, Pedro Navarrete Sr., and two of his cousins, Pedro Navarrete Jr. and Johnny Navarrete, fought as professionals.

De Vaca (20-0, 6 KOs) was born in Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico, and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, as a small child. All but one of De Vaca’s pro fights have taken place in the Phoenix area, where he has developed into one of the region’s most popular attractions. The 24-year-old boxer-puncher made his Top Rank debut last August in Glendale, Arizona, outlasting Jesus Serrano by unanimous decision in a crowd-pleasing brawl. He last fought in February at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix, where he shut out Ernesto Guerrero over eight rounds.

“This is a great opportunity to defend my title against an exciting fighter like De Vaca,” Navarrete said. “I’ve worked hard to prove myself as a true champion, and I won’t let anyone take that away from me. It’s going to be a great night outside in Los Angeles, and whenever you have two Mexicans in the ring, you can expect a battle.”

“This is the fight of my life,” De Vaca said. “I am going to show my Mexican heart and prove to the world that I belong on the world stage. I’m not going to talk any trash. I have a lot of respect for Emanuel Navarrete, but his reign will end on August 17.”

Shakur Stevenson Thrills Hometown Fans

Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

Newark, N.J.: Ever since he turned pro following the 2016 Olympics, featherweight contender Shakur Stevenson wanted to return home to Newark. In front of 5,150 fans at Prudential Center, Stevenson, the WBO No. 1 contender, knocked out two-time world title challenger Alberto “Metro” Guevara (27-5, 12 KOs) in the third round of a scheduled 10-rounder.

“That was a great performance I put on for the city of Newark. Top Rank, y’all all have to give me better competition I want the IBF and WBO {titles}. I would love to go to England to fight Josh Warrington,” Stevenson said. “I surprised myself today. I was going to the body a lot. I saw him at the weigh-in. He didn’t look like he was in shape.

“There is only one way to describe tonight – amazing! Seeing all of my family, friends and everybody from the city come out to support me was incredible.”

Stevenson (12-0, 7 KOs) dominated the opening round, scored a pair of knockdowns in the second and finished things off with a knockdown in the third. It was a short, brutal and just what the crowd wanted.

Greer Jr. Edges Potapov

The knockout didn’t come, but bantamweight Joshua “Don’t Blink” Greer Jr. ultimately got the job done. Greer (21-1-1, 12 KOs), the Chicago-born bantamweight puncher, bested Nikolai Potapov by majority decision (114-114, 115-113 and 116-112) to the earn the IBF No. 2 ranking and the NABO belt.

Greer swept the 12th round on all three judges’ scorecards to secure the win in what was a tactical affair. Potapov (20-2-1, 11 KOs) snapped Greer’s seven-bout KO streak, with some ringside observers believing he did enough to pull off the upset.

“He’s very awkward with the Russian style. But at the end of the day, this is the pros. And at the end of the day, I pulled it out,” Greer said. “The booing didn’t bother me. I know I won the fight. Every time I hit him to the body, I hurt him. I didn’t get the knockout, but I got the win. Next time out, you’ll see the pillow again.”

In other action:

After nearly two years out of the ring, super lightweight Julian Rodriguez (17-0, 11 KOs) needed only 59 seconds to knock out Hevinson Herrera (24-18-1, 18 KOs) in front of his devoted Northern New Jersey fans.

Rodriguez, only 24 years old, was out of the ring due to assorted injuries.
“I was very confident in my preparation, so I felt like I had to go in there and do what I had to do,” Rodriguez said. “That’s what {the fans} like about me. When they come here, they see a show.”

Vijender Singh (11-0, 8 KOs), a three-time Olympian and the fighting pride of India, had a successful United States and Top Rank debut, knocking out Mike Snider (13-6-3, 8 KOs) in the fourth round of a scheduled eight-round super middleweight bout.

“It was excellent getting back in the ring after a long time off. It’s great to be here in the USA and get the win. It was really exciting,” Singh said. “It took me about four rounds to get back in the swing of things. I expected it to take two or three rounds, but it took me four. I felt good.”

Joseph “Blessed Hands” Adorno (13-0, 11 KOs) continued his rapid rise up the lightweight ranks, knocking out Adriano Ramirez (10-4, 6 KOs) in the second round of a scheduled eight-rounder. Adorno knocked down Ramirez a pair of times in the second, and referee Sparkle Lee immediately called a halt to the bout following the second knockdown.

Josue “The Prodigy” Vargas (14-1, 9 KOs) won his eighth fight in a row, knocking out the rugged veteran Manuel Lopez (14-4-1, 7 KOs) in the seventh round of a scheduled eight-round welterweight bout.

Super lightweight prospect John “El Terrible” Bauza (13-0, 5 KOs) was dominant in notching an eight-round unanimous decision over Angel Sarinana (10-9-2, 4 KOs) by identical scores of 80-72.

Vito Mielnicki Jr., a 17-year-old high school senior from Roseland, New Jersey, knocked out Tamarcus Smith (2-3, 2 KOs) in 1:16 in his professional debut. A savage right hand put Smith down and out for the count in the scheduled four-round welterweight bout.

Presser Notes and Quotes: Shakur Stevenson Ready for Brick City Homecoming

NEWARK, N.J.: It was a press conference befitting a Newark King. Mayor Ras Baraka was on hand, as well as a large contingent of media from Northern New Jersey and New York.

Shakur Stevenson, Newark’s favorite son and a 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist, is ready for his homecoming.

WBO. No. 1 featherweight contender Stevenson (11-0, 6 KOs) will face Alberto Guevara (27-4, 12 KOs) in the 10-round main event Saturday evening at Prudential Center (ESPN, 10:30 p.m. ET). In the televised co-feature, bantamweight contender and proud Chicago native Joshua Greer Jr. (20-1-1, 12 KOs) will look to make it eight knockouts in a row versus Nikolai Potapov (20-1-1, 11 KOs).

The ESPN+ undercard (7 p.m. ET) will feature the U.S. debut of Indian sensation Vijender Singh (10-0, 7 KOs), the pro debut of 17-year-old New Jersey native Vito Mielnicki Jr., and local favorite Julian Rodriguez (16-0, 10 KOs), who is returning from a nearly two-year layoff.

In front of a packed Newark house, this is what the fighters had to say.

Shakur Stevenson

“It means everything to me being that this was a dream of mine to come here to the Prudential Center and fight in front of the hometown, my home crowd, family, friends. I’m happy to be here, and it means everything to me.”

“I’m not overlooking him. Honestly, I’m not going to let you {Top Rank’s Crystina Poncher} put no pressure on me either [smiles}. I feel like I’m going to go in there, box my fight and have fun. I’m going to let everything take care of itself.”

Mayor Ras Baraka

“We are extremely proud of Shakur Stevenson here in the city of Newark. I got an opportunity to see him with the young people yesterday. That was an incredible, incredible scene. You should’ve been there. The young people love him in this city. The city loves him. The kind of discipline, commitment to his craft – all of those things are amazing. Not just for him growing up from the city of Newark, but all of these young people get an opportunity to see what it takes to be a professional, what it takes to be a champion, to stand out and do the things that he’s doing.”

Alberto Guevara

“I know Shakur is a tough fighter, but I want to prove that I can do more in boxing. All of my experience will show on Saturday night.”

“I have a lot of experience as an amateur and a pro. My experience will be important in this fight.”

Joshua Greer Jr.

“This means everything to me. You asked {Nikolai} a way to beat me. The only way to beat me is to kill me because I’m not giving him nothing.”

“I work hard. I leave no stone unturned. Me and my coach work hard day in, day out. I make the sacrifices.”

“I’m dedicating this fight – my whole career, basically – to Ed Brown, who was 20-0 with 16 knockouts. He got killed in Chicago {in 2016}, and I know that we got Ed Browns everywhere, even in Newark, so I’m just bringing awareness to the situation.”

“Shakur is like a brother to me. He calls me his brother. If I call you my brother, I mean that. Him, his family, his grandfather, the way that they’ve been to me since I’ve been out here, his people, Newark. I mean, they treat me like a king out here. I wouldn’t have it no other way if Shakur was to come to Chicago.”

Nikolai Potapov

“I’ve been wanting this fight. I’ve been looking at this fight and watching {Greer’s fights}. I feel great. Everything with the weight cut has gone well, so I can’t wait to get started on Saturday night. That’s it. I’m excited.”

“I’m happy that Joshua has been following my career and that he wants to knock me out. We’ll see on Saturday night how he’s going to do it.”

“I don’t want to predict too much. He’s a very tough fighter, so there will be a lot of punches, a lot of movement. It’s going to be a very interesting fight to watch.”

Vijender Singh

“I’m happy to be here. I think it’s going to be a great show.”

“I’m focused on my boxing career and my craft. I want to fight two more times this year, keep busy and work towards a world title opportunity.”

“There are a lot of Indian people in this area, and I know they will come out to support me. It’s been a long time out of the ring for me, and I am ready.”

ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT

Shakur Stevenson vs. Alberto Guevara, 10 rounds, featherweight

Joshua Greer Jr. vs. Nikolai Potapov, 12 rounds, IBF bantamweight eliminator for No. 2. ranking

ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT

Josue Vargas vs. Manuel Lopez, 8 rounds, super lightweight

Vito Mielnicki Jr. vs. Tamarcus Smith, 4 rounds, super welterweight

John Bauza vs. Angel Sarinana, 8 rounds, super lightweight

Julian Rodriguez vs. Hevinson Herrera, 6 rounds, super lightweight

Vijender Singh vs. Mike Snider, 8 rounds, super middleweight

Joseph Adorno vs. Adriano Ramirez, 8 rounds, lightweight

Rob Brant vs Ryota Murata 2 to Kick Off International Three-Card Weekend Extravaganza on ESPN+

(Photo Credit: Naoki Fukuda)

Before hometown hero and WBO No. 1 featherweight contender Shakur Stevenson headlines against Alberto Guevara at Newark’s Prudential Center on Saturday evening (ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 10:30 p.m. ET), boxing fans will be treated to a trio of world-class cards exclusively on ESPN+, the industry-leading sports streaming service.

Set your alarm clocks and smartphone alerts and get ready for a weekend fistic extravaganza.

FRIDAY (7 a.m. ET on ESPN+)

“Breakfast and Boxing” returns with one of the year’s most highly anticipated rematches, as Rob Brant will make the second defense of his WBA middleweight world title against the man he defeated to win the belt, Ryota Murata, at EDION Arena Osaka in Osaka, Japan.

Brant (25-1, 17 KOs) upset Murata last October in Las Vegas, snatching the belt in a thrilling performance that saw him throw 1,262 punches, the second-most ever recorded by CompuBox in a middleweight bout. Murata (14-2, 11 KOs), who became a sporting hero in Japan after capturing Olympic gold at the 2012 London Olympics, has not fought since. Brant, meanwhile, defended his belt in February on his home turf with an ESPN-televised 11th-round TKO over the previously undefeated Khasan Baysangurov in Hinckley, Minnesota.

In the co-feature, Ken “The Amazing Boy” Shiro will make the sixth defense of his WBC light flyweight title against Filipino challenger Jonathan Taconing.

Shiro (15-0, 8 KOs), Japan’s longest-reigning current world champion, won the title May 20, 2017, with a majority decision over Ganigan Lopez. He went 3-0 in 2018, including a second-round knockout over Lopez in May on a card that streamed on ESPN+. In his last fight, Dec. 30 in Tokyo, he won a near-shutout decision over Saul Juarez. Taconing (28-3-1, 22 KOs) will be making his third attempt at the WBC light flyweight title. He lost a technical decision to Kompayak Porpramook in 2012 and a unanimous decision to Ganigan Lopez in 2016.

FRIDAY (3 p.m. ET on ESPN+)

#MTKFightNight returns from Liverpool Olympia, as former world title challenger James “Jazza” Dickens will battle Australian contender Nathaniel May in a 10-rounder for the vacant IBF European featherweight title.

Dickens (26-3, 11 KOs) has won four in a row since back-to-back losses to Guillermo Rigondeaux and Thomas Patrick Ward. May (21-1, 12 KOs) has won 17 consecutive bouts and is coming off a first-round stoppage over Jose Miguel Tamayo on June 14 in Tijuana, Mexico.

In other streaming action, former middleweight and super middleweight world title challenger Martin Murray (37-5-1, 17 KOs) will face Rui Manuel Pavanito (10-8-1, 5 KOs) in a 10-round super middleweight bout; former British amateur standout Natasha Jones (7-1, 5 KOs) will take on Bec Connolly (2-5, 0 KOs) in a six-rounder at lightweight; and former lightweight world champion Terry Flanagan (33-2, 13 KOs) will look to halt a two-bout skid against Jonas Segu (19-8-2, 6 KOs) in an eight-round lightweight bout.

SATURDAY (2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN+)

Queensberry Promotions presents a can’t-miss heavyweight doubleheader from the famed O2 Arena in London.

In the main event battle of unbeatens, Daniel “Dynamite” Dubois will fight Nathan Gorman in a scheduled 12-rounder for the vacant British title. Dubois (11-0, 10 KOs) has seven stoppages in two rounds or less and is coming off a spectacular fourth-round knockout April 27 over Richard Lartey on a card that streamed on ESPN+. Gorman (16-0, 11 KOs) has defeated former world title challengers in his last two bouts (Kevin Johnson and Razvan Cojanu) and is confident that he’ll pull off the upset.

In the 12-round co-feature, 2016 Olympic silver medalist Joe Joyce (9-0, 9 KOs) will take a seismic step up in class versus former world title challenger Bryant Jennings (24-3, 14 KOs). Joyce has extended his perfect KO record with knockout wins this year over former world title challenger Alexander Ustinov and former world champion Bermane Stiverne, while Jennings is hoping to rebound from a shocking January TKO loss to the undefeated Oscar Rivas. The winner will be in prime position to challenge for a world title in the near future..