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Carlos Toro's Boxing Newsletter (3/3/2022): WBO Rules On Charlo vs. Castaño 2, Top Rank Fighters Speak Ahead Of March 4 Card, More
The latest on the undisputed junior middleweight title fight and I speak with Jose Pedraza, Joet Gonzalez and Richard Torrez Jr.
WBO’s Stance On Jermell Charlo vs. Brian Castaño:
The WBO has approved a fight between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castaño for the undisputed junior middleweight title with the WBO belt on the line. The fight was approved with a few conditions, the main one being that it must take place by May 14.
In addition, the WBO stated that if the fight doesn’t happen regardless of circumstances attributed to Castaño, then the title will be declared vacant immediately. However, if Charlo suffers an injury or is unavailable to fight, regardless of the reason, then Castaño must defend his title against his mandatory challenger, which is currently Tim Tszyu. Tszyu will face Terrell Gausha on March 26 and if Tszyu loses, then obviously, there will be a new mandatory challenger for Castaño’s title.
The fight between Charlo and Castaño, a rematch from their July 2021 bout that ended in a draw, was originally slated to take place on March 19 in Los Angeles, but there were a couple of things that were strange regarding the announcement. No network was announced and there had been no promotion in regards to press conferences. The fight announcement was made on February 4, but per the WBO’s resolution released on March 3, Castaño suffered an injury on February 3, pushing the fight back at a later date. By that point, the fight between Charlo and Castaño had already been pushed back a few times.
Once the title unification was quietly postponed, Tszyu’s team asked the WBO for the sanctioning body to push for Castaño to fight Tszyu immediately once Castaño was fully healthy if the plan for Castaño is to have the Charlo fight in May or June. Tszyu’s team said they would have been fine with allowing the unification to take place in April and then face the WBO champion afterward.
In response, the WBO asked Castaño and his team on February 17 to show cause that he suffered the injury that he suffered and that he won’t fight in March.
On February 18, the WBO acknowledged that it received documents highlighting Castaño’s visit to Dr. Steve Yoon at the Cedars Sinai Kerlan Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. An MRI showed that Castaño should refrain from sparring and training overall to allow the injury to heal. The injury was a mild bicep strain, but not a biceps tendon tear.
In addition, Castaño would need two weeks of rehab and two more weeks to restart his training regiment, which would mean Castaño would not be training until mid-March at the earliest. Given Castaño’s healing progress, it was projected that he would be physically ready to fight by the end of April.
On February 21 the WBO then asked TGB Promotions, who was promoting the title unification, for an exact date on the rematch, giving a 72-hour deadline. Within those 72 hours, information was relayed to all parties and Tszyu’s team ultimately had no issue with Charlo vs. Castaño 2 taking place on May 14.
Interestingly enough, the idea of holding the rematch on April 30 was a possibility, but after looking at all the major boxing events in April and the first week of May, any date in April would have been impractical and that May 14 was the earliest practical date to hold the fight.
The winner of Charlo vs. Castaño will be dealing with several mandatory challengers outside of Tszyu. The IBF has Bakhram Murtazaliev as their mandatory challenger, while the WBA and WBO has Israil Madrimov and Tim Tszyu, respectively. The WBC doesn’t have a single mandatory challenger, but Erickson Lubin and Sebastian Fundora, the organization’s No. 1 and No. 2 junior middleweights, are set to fight in a final eliminator in the coming weeks.
Jose Pedraza, Joet Gonzalez, Richard Torrez Jr. Discuss Upcoming March 4 Top Rank Card:
Last week, I got to speak with Jose Pedraza, Joet Gonzalez, and Richard Torrez Jr. ahead of their respective fights on the March 4 Top Rank on ESPN+ card, headlined by Jose Ramirez taking on Pedraza in a WBC junior welterweight title eliminator.
Here are what the fighters told me ahead of their respective fights.
Richard Torrez Jr.
Torrez, who won a silver medal in the most recent summer Olympics in Tokyo, will be making his pro debut and was one of several signings Top Rank made late last year, including fellow Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis. Every fighter has their reasons for signing with Top Rank Boxing and Torrez’s reasons are that he believes in Top Rank’s track record in creating stars and that he thinks the promotion has the tools and resources to elevate him into stardom.
“Top Rank breeds legends, from Muhammad Ali down to people that we have now. I really, firmly believe that Top Rank has the platform to build a fighter and make them a legend. I want to be that one day. I want to be a household name.”
Torrez admitted that there are some nerves heading to his pro debut, but says he is happy to have them and is excited to have the opportunity to fight in front of his friends and family, something he hasn’t had the chance to do in years.
“I think the biggest change I’ve had over the recent years is that I’ve had to fight overseas. I hadn’t fought in the United States in five years and to fight in front of my family, in front of my friends, in front of my town, and in front of all the people that supported me, that’s something I’m really excited to see. There are some nerves behind that, of course, but they’re good nerves, you know? If I wasn’t nervous, I wouldn’t have cared as much. I’m happy to be nervous. I’m happy to be here full force and ready,” Torrez said.
Gonzalez has been unsuccessful in his two featherweight title challenges and is in a position where any loss from this point onwards could stop him from ever getting a third title opportunity.
Some fighters may have called it a career after title losses to Shakur Stevenson and Emanuel Navarrete or at the very least, their hunger and ambitions may diminish a bit. It’s a challenge for a fighter to have to bounce back from their first professional loss, perhaps even more so with a second defeat.
For Gonzalez, that hunger has not left him and bouncing back from that second loss wasn’t any more difficult than his first loss. The 28-year-old Gonzalez, making his debut as a Top Rank fighter against Jeo Santisima on March 4, is still treating this as business as usual given that it’s only been less than five months after the loss to Navarrete.
“I would say it’s about the same. I just had to get my body some rest, obviously because I had cuts and some stitches. It was the same. The same motivation was there. I fought October 15th, I believe. I was scheduled to go back on February 5th, got postponed, but I was ready to go. I was training, I believe second week, first week of November. Stitches were out after 10 days, so I was good to go. I’m still very motivated, I’m still very hungry. I just had to take it slow and as soon as that fight date came back in, I picked up where I left off.”
In a constantly-changing 140-pound division, a loss could mean a long wait before getting to cash in on a world title opportunity. Pedraza, who won titles at super featherweight and lightweight, suffered a loss to Jose Zepeda early in his run at junior welterweight, which put a stop to any dreams of fighting of becoming a three-time world champion for the moment.
That was in 2019 and now Pedraza is on a three-fight win streak, scoring victories over Mikkel LesPierre, Javier Molina, and most recently, undefeated prospect Julian Rodriguez in June 2021.
Now in his fifth fight at junior welterweight, Pedraza says he feels just as good as he has ever felt.
“Compared to 130 and 135 pounds, that’s five and ten pounds of difference. I still feel like I have the same agility, same conditioning, but stronger. I feel a lot stronger, especially now that I’ve gotten used to the division. Compared to that first fight in the division, I feel like I’ve adapted to the division,” Pedraza said in Spanish.
The fight against Ramirez could very well be in line to fight Zepeda for a potential WBC junior welterweight title if undisputed champion Josh Taylor vacates his belts. It will be interesting to see how Ramirez looks in the ring as this is his first fight since losing a unification fight to Taylor last year, but Pedraza still views his opponent as every bit the elite fighter that he has been for years.
“Definitely, I feel better at this division. In this division, I've gotten more used to it. Ramirez continued to be an elite fighter. He’s a boxer who dominated the division and I’m going to continue viewing as that same elite fighter. It’s a challenge that I gave myself and it’s one I want to overcome,” Pedraza said.
Below are the official weights for the card, starting at 7:15 PM ET:
Jose Ramirez (139.8 lbs) vs. Jose Pedraza (140 lbs)
Richard Torrez Jr. (228.2 lbs) vs. Allen Melson (201.8 lbs)
Joet Gonzalez (125.8 lbs) vs. Jeo Santisima (125.2 lbs)
Gabriel Flores Jr. (131.6 lbs) vs. Abraham Montoya (131.8 lbs)
Hector Tanajara (135 lbs) vs. Miguel Contreras (134.2 lbs)
Karlos Balderas (134.2 lbs) vs. Aelio Mesquita (131.2 lbs)
Javier Martinez (161.8 lbs) vs. Donte Stubbs (163 lbs)
Charlie Sheehy (134.2 lbs) vs. Johnny Bernal (135 lbs)
Antonio Mireles (259.4 lbs) vs. Brandon Hughes (282.4 lbs)
Under the Hand Wraps On “Chocolatito”:
I had the pleasure of working with Albert Baker for his Under the Hand Wraps episode of Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, which is now up on the “Under the Hand Wraps” YouTube channel (video below as well). I helped out with translating interviews with “Chocolatito” and his father to English and there are gems in both interviews, including one in the episode that talked about how “Chocolatito” hit a guayaba tree with electrical gloves when he was seven or eight years old.
I also sat down with Albert for an episode of “Pound 4 Pound” on the Fight Game Media network of podcasts and you can check it out at this link.
News From Around The World Of Boxing:
The fight between Canelo Alvarez and Dmitry Bivol for Bivol’s WBA light heavyweight title is officially set for May 7 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on a DAZN pay-per-view card. The card will be priced at $59.99 for current subscribers and $79.99 for new subscribers which includes a one-month subscription to DAZN. However, the pay-per-view is in the United States and Canada, while the rest of the world, excluding Mexico, will get to watch it as part of their DAZN subscriptions. Both Canelo and Bivol met in a press conference in San Diego and shared their first words since the bout was announced. Canelo is confident of the challenge put in front of him, saying “I don’t care, I like challenges, it makes me feel alive – challenges for me in everything in my life. I like a good challenge and now I have a very good fighter in front of me and I’m excited for this fight. Bivol is a really tough fighter and it’s going to be a really good fight for Cinco de Mayo weekend with my people in Las Vegas – Mexican weekend. I’m really excited and I’m going to prepare really well because this fight is going to be really hard.” Bivol responded by saying “Me and my team wanted this fight and I’m glad this fight will be in the United States and one of the Mecca of boxing. This is also very exciting, and it means a lot to me. This is very important for me especially because I’m fighting one of the best if not the best in the world right now, I want people to be able to see me and my skills, this is a big fight that can give me the ability to achieve my other goals and go on if I win this fight.”
Mekhrubon Sanginov and Hurshidbek Normatov, who were each set to fight in separate bouts on the March 11 ShoBox card, suffered injuries in training camp and withdrew from their respective bouts. As a result, Ardreal Holmes vs. Vernon Brown is now set as the new ShoBox main event with Luis Acosta vs. Edwin De Los Santos and Giovanni Márquez vs. Nelson Morales rounding out the TV card. The three-fight card, originally a four-fight broadcast, will now air live at 9:35 PM ET on Showtime.
Miguel Berchelt vs. Jeremiah Nakathila will headline a Top Rank on ESPN (simulcast on ESPN+) card on March 26 from Resorts World Events Center located at Resorts World Las Vegas. The fight will be a 10-round lightweight bout and Berchelt’s first fight since getting knocked out by Oscar Valdez in January 2021, losing his WBC super featherweight title in the process. Jose Enrique Vivas vs. Enrique Baez is the co-feature bout.
Alexis Rocha vs. Blair Cobbs is set as the co-main event for the March 19 Golden Boy Promotions on DAZN card from Los Angeles. The fight is an interesting matchup for both welterweights given how loaded the division is and a loss would be a massive step back for either prospect. The card will be headlined by another fight between young welterweights: Vergil Ortiz Jr. vs. Michael McKinson.
Undefeated rising junior middleweight contender Charles Conwell signed a co-promotional deal with Probellum, fresh off the heels of his promoter DiBella Entertainment entering a partnership with Probellum in recent weeks. In the press release, Conwell talked about wanting to face unified champion Jermell Charlo and even possibly be in a mandatory challenger position by the end of the year. However, that’s probably not going to happen any time soon given that every sanctioning body at 154 pounds either already has a mandatory challenger or are close to creating one. The IBF has Bakhram Murtazaliev as their mandatory challenger, while the WBA and WBO has Israil Madrimov and Tim Tszyu, respectively. The WBC doesn’t have a single mandatory challenger, but Erickson Lubin and Sebastian Fundora, the organization’s No. 1 and No. 2 junior middleweights, are set to fight in a final eliminator in the coming weeks. The highest Conwell is ranked is No. 5 in the IBF, followed by No. 7 in the WBC rankings as of this writing.
Showtime will carry the Errol Spence Jr. vs. Yordenis Ugas welterweight title unification on pay-per-view on April 16 at AT&T Stadium. The two welterweight champions met in the first press conference recently and Spence promised a great fight, saying “I can guarantee fireworks on April 16. Ugas is going to give it his all, just like I will. I’m going to put on another great performance in front of my hometown crowd. It’s ‘Man Down’ and it’s ‘Strap Season’. I’m the guy everyone is talking about. The motivation I get from my family and friends allows me to push through everything I’ve gone through.” Another important note from the press conference was that Spence added a nutritionist for his camp and said it has been something missing in his last few fights. Spence has had trouble making weight and says that could be a reason as to why he hasn’t gotten a stoppage win in recent years.
The rematch between Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua is currently on hold as Usyk, the reigning WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion, as Usyk is in Ukraine right now aiding in the effort to combat the Russian invasion that has been going on recently. Usyk told CNN, “I really don’t know when I’m going to be stepping back in the ring. My country and my honor are more important to me than a championship belt.” In addition, Eddie Hearn spoke with Fight Hub TV and added the following regarding the fight and Joshua’s future: “We obviously respect Oleksandr Usyk and our thoughts are with everybody in Ukraine. We’ll give him the time that he needs and we expect that to- we don’t know how long that’s gonna take. The only fight [Joshua] wants is Oleksandr Usyk, so we don’t want that obligation for the rematch to disappear. We don’t want to get out of it. You know? He’s already turned down a lot of money to get out of it, AJ’s got no interest. If we’ve got to have an interim bout whilst we wait for Oleksandr Usyk, that’s something we’ll look at as well. But we want the Oleksandr Usyk fight and we’ll give him the time and respect that he needs… (in regards to who would fight Joshua) I don’t know. This is only if it’s an issue. If we have to give him the time and speak with representatives, it’s a personal situation for these people so we have to respect that.”
Wasserman Boxing announced a multi-event deal with Channel 5 to bring free-to-air boxing cards in the United Kingdom. The deal calls for five cards in 2022 that will be streamed live on My5. Wasserman Boxing, through its acquisition of Team Sauerland in 2021, does have the likes of Chris Eubank Jr., Mairis Briedis, and Filip Hrgovic as part of its stable of fighters. No date was announced for the first card as part of the new partnership
English junior middleweight champion Sam Gilley will defend his title against Drew Brown on an MTK Global card on April 15 from York Hall. Other fights on the show’s undercard include Nina Hughes vs. Bec Connolly and bouts featuring Pierce O’Leary, Sultan Zaurbek, and Jimmy Crozson. The card will be headlined by Gavin Gwynne vs. Luke Willis for the British and Commonwealth lightweight titles and stream on ESPN+ in the U.S.
Matchroom Boxing announced that Dalton Smith will take on Ray Moylette for a regional WBC belt at junior welterweight on the undercard of Kiko Martinez vs. Josh Warrington 2, taking place on March 26 on DAZN.
The long-awaited middleweight title unification between IBF champion Gennadiy Golovkin and WBA “Super” champion Ryota Murata is set for April 9 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The card will be streamed on DAZN, though DAZN has yet to announce the exact time that stream will begin. It will more than likely air in the very early morning in the United States. There is a lot at stake in this fight, even beyond the two middleweight belts that will be on the line. Should Golovkin win, he’ll more than likely face Canelo Alvarez later this year (possibly in September) for Alvarez’s super middleweight titles which would be Golovkin’s first attempt at becoming a two-division champion. If Murata wins, then it changes things up a bit in regards to Canelo’s future. By that point, one would have to consider Murata would be in play to fight Canelo at some point this year, even though Murata is not a Matchroom-promoted fighter, nor does he fight on DAZN (he’s promoted by Teiken in Japan and Top Rank in the United States). A Canelo vs. Murata fight would make the most sense having it in Japan, and Canelo has in the past mentioned Murata and fighting in Japan as an intriguing possibility. However, by that point, Canelo was more inclined to fight at middleweight and Murata would have to move up in weight now in all likelihood to get that Murata fight. The undercard for that April 9 card is very intriguing. The first fight is one between undefeated OPBF lightweight champion Shuichiro Yushino will face former world champion Masayuki Ito. In the other confirmed fight, WBO flyweight champion Junto Nakatani will defend his belt against Ryota Yamauc
On February 25, there was an all-women’s boxing card at Korakuen Hall promoted by Yukio Sebata that saw two new world champions crowned at the sport’s atomweight division (102-pound limit that is women’s only). Ayaka Miyao defeated Eri Matsuda by majority decision (95-95, 96-94, 96-94) to win the vacant IBF title. Miyao previously held the WBA atomweight title from 2012 to 2015. Matsuda, who came into the fight with a 4-0-1 record, fell short in her second title shot. The other title bout on that Korakuen Hall show saw Nanae Suzuki defeat Mika Iwakawa by split decision (96-94, 94-96, 96-94) to win the WBO title. The fight was a rematch from their 2020 title bout that saw Iwakawa retain her title with a split decision victory.
Masamichi Yabuki, who is coming off an impressive upset win over Kenshiro Teraji last year to win the WBC light flyweight title, is defending his title for the first time against Teraji on March 19 in Kyoto, Japan.
WBO minimumweight champion Masataka Taniguchi will defend his title against Kai Ishizawa on April 22 on a Phoenix Promotions card at Korakuen Hall. This is Taniguchi’s first title defense since beating Wilfredo Mendez for the belt last December. Interestingly enough, Ishizawa was the Japanese national champion, but he vacated the belt for this world title fight and according to AsianBoxing, it’s expected that undefeated contender Ginjiro Shigeoka’s fight against Tatsuro Nakashima will be for the vacant belt.
Other News & Notes:
King’s Promotions has signed 2020 Tokyo Olympics quarterfinalist Euri Cedeño Martinez from the Dominican Republic to a promotional deal. Cedeño went 2-1 in the middleweight tournament at the Olympics, losing to eventual silver medalist Oleksandr Khyzhniak.
WBA super flyweight champion Maribel Ramirez will defend her title against Daniela Asenjo on April 9 in Chile. Ramirez has held the belt since May 2018 but hasn’t fought since October 2018 in her first and only title defense against Aniya Seki. Ramirez was set to fight in Peru in 2021 but couldn’t due to COVID restrictions there at the time.
Shuan Boxing is airing a card from Santo Domingo on April 8 live on its YouTube channel, featuring Norbelto Jimenez vs. Keyvin Lara. Jimenez is coming off a draw against Donnie Nietes last December while Lara, a former world title challenger, is 4-1 in last 5 fights.
UFC Fight Pass will stream a boxing card from Mexico on March 24 promoted RJJ Boxing. The card will be part of the 40th Nayarit Festival held in Nayarit between March 10 and 27. The boxing card’s main event will be an eight-round junior welterweight fight between Salvatore Tapia and Emilian Cruz. In addition, Jorge Lugo Cota will face Ricardo Rodriguez, David Alaverdian will face Josue Ramirez on the undercard, with unbeaten prospect Lester Martinez appearing on the undercard as well.