While I was visiting Dmitry Bivol earlier today, manager Vadim Kornilov said they are hoping that Murodjon Akhmadaliev will stay on the Sept 13 card. "He's been training for 2 months," Kornilov pointed out #boxing— Steve Kim (@StevESPNKim) September 4, 2019
After Julian Williams upset Jarrett Hurd and took his 154-pound titles in May, the two immediately agreed to have the rematch next -- Hurd had a rematch clause -- and the fight was scheduled for Dec. 14. However, Hurd has since decided that he did not think it was in his best interest to take that fight next, so he withdrew. Now, rumors are that Williams will instead face Cuban veteran Erislandy Lara, fresh off his second-round stoppage of Ramon Alvarez.
Why Hurd withdrew from the rematch remains a mystery, but there are some theories. One says that he is considering moving up to middleweight, so he does not want to fight for the title at 154 pounds. Another notes that he has a new trainer, so observers think he would rather face an easier opponent while getting acclimated to having a new head man in his corner. Unfortunately, there is also a theory kicking around boxing media that says Williams was demanding Voluntary Anti-Doping Association testing, and the idea of such stringent PED tests scared away Hurd. Whether one of these, all of them or none of them are true, it is a shame that we lost what would have been a stellar fight. Let us hope the Lara matchup happens in its place.
Shoulder Injury Forces Roman Out of Akhmadaliev Fight
Another disappointing fight cancellation has come down, as the Dany Roman-Murodjon Akhmadaliev fight, which was supposed to be for Roman’s IBF and WBA junior featherweight belts on Sept. 13, was called off because Roman injured his left shoulder in training. Plenty of boxing fans had this matchup circled as one to watch, as it was believed the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Akhmadaliev posed a legitimate threat, despite having only fought six times as a professional. Supposedly, his promoters are trying to keep Akhmadaliev on the card, although with so little time to find a replacement opponent, that seems unlikely.
Saunders May Get Stuck on Paul-KSI Undercard
Famous YouTubers Logan Paul and KSI have decided to fight each other in another boxing match, this time as professionals. Dazn on Nov. 9 will air the rematch, which will cover six rounds and be contested at cruiserweight; their first fight ended in a majority draw but featured headgear. While there is nothing wrong with this cash grab, what is disturbing is that Billy Joe Saunders -- and perhaps Devin Haney -- could be stuck fighting on the undercard of it.
There are two schools of thought at work. The more optimistic boxing fan believes that if you can get even one percent of the kids that order the fight to become boxing fans, you will have created a huge new market. The other school of thought notes how sad it is to see a legitimate Top 10 middleweight and 168-pound world champion needing a fight between YouTubers to promote himself. Either way, the biggest professional boxing match of the year is likely to be between two YouTubers, which either says something about boxing’s current standing in the sports world or highlights the unbelievable power YouTube has on the younger generations.
Saucedo Returns From Hooker Loss, Eyes Salka
Speaking of boxers who are famous on social media, reddit/r/boxing’s favorite punching bag -- a man mockingly referred to as “The God” -- will serve as Alex Saucedo’s bounce-back opponent on Nov. 2. In Saucedo’s first match since losing his WBO 140-pound title to Maurice Hooker, he will meet Rod Salka on the Miguel Berchelt-Jason Sosa card.
It is a matchup Saucedo should win easily, but his decision to take the fight figures to be ridiculed. Why does everyone make fun of Salka so much more than other mediocre fighters? After getting knocked down by Danny Garcia a couple of times in a complete mismatch, he pounded on his chest to motivate himself about one second before Garcia’s left hook knocked him completely unconscious. Then, in a fight against Mexico’s Francisco Vargas, Salka opted to wear “Build the Wall” trunks covered with what looked like little bricks on them. He then got demolished and quit on his stool at the end of the sixth round.
Hearn Working on Bringing Back ‘Fight Night’ Franchise
Some good news for boxing fans who are also gamers: Famed British boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has apparently been lobbying EA Sports to bring back the “Fight Night” series of boxing games, which have not had a new title since 2011. EA Sports reportedly told Hearn it was “looking at it,” though nothing was officially confirmed.
“Fight Night” has always had a major advantage over other sports game franchises. Unlike in other games featuring “classic” teams, people really like putting boxers from different eras against each other -- the cover of the 2009 edition featured Muhammad Ali fighting Mike Tyson -- and, as terrible as it is to say, plenty of retired boxers would love the quick cash from the licensing agreements. It is also hard to believe that a cash cow like Madden, with football having virtually no fandom outside of the United States, would sell that much better than a new boxing game that featured Japanese stars like Naoya Inoue and Ryota Murata, Mexican stars like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Andy Ruiz and stars from the United Kingdom like Tyson Fury. If the Paul fight can create boxing fans, there is no way a new “Fight Night” could not do the same, so let us hope EA makes it happen.
Dogboe Training With Toney Amid Rumors of Father- Roach Rift
Looking to bounce back from two devastating stoppage losses to Emanuel Navarrete, Isaac Dogboe has decided to work with middleweight legend James “Lights Out” Toney. With a rumored Carl Frampton matchup coming on Nov. 30, Dogboe reportedly abandoned working with Freddie Roach because his father would not let the famed trainer take control. After he showed virtually no stylistic shifts, something needed to change for Dogboe. However, before he became one of the greatest defensive boxers of all-time, Toney has talked about struggling in the gym while creating his unique, old-school style. How much of Toney’s defense Dogboe can learn in a few months will be interesting to see. Either way, it is nice to see Toney passing on his knowledge and finding a way to stay around boxing without stepping foot in the ring again.