Gary Russell Jr. found himself in some well-deserved hot water after he posted a video of himself speaking with Leo Santa Cruz’s father. He then started talking to the camera about how he was so close to him he could have choked him out before telling Santa Cruz to “grow some cojones” and fight him. While most of the boxing world was disturbed by the threat towards a fighter’s family member, apparently Santa Cruz’s father, who is a cancer survivor, didn’t care because he thought Russell was Rico Ramos.
While he said he’d be happy to fight Russell in a unification bout if that’s what his team wants, he had been talking about moving up to 130 pounds, and there have even been rumors that Emmanuel Navarrete is willing to jump from 122 to 130 to face him. No one knows how it will play out. Either way, threatening someone’s father in an attempt to get a fight signed is a bad look. Russell, who claims actions were misconstrued, should apologize, and nobody in boxing should make the same mistake.
Charlo to Face Hogan on Dec. 7
If you happen to be a boxing fan in New York, December will be a fascinating month for you. One week before Teofimo Lopez and Richard Commey fight each other at Madison Square Garden for a shot at Vasyl Lomachenko, Jermall Charlo, the undefeated Charlo brother who holds the WBC 160-pound belt, will face Dennis Hogan, likely at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. In April, Hogan lost his title shot at 154 pounds when Jaime Munguia beat him via controversial decision. This will be his first bout since that loss and his first fight at 160 since 2014. It is a bit of a letdown opponent for Charlo, but perhaps Hogan can surprise people like he did against Munguia.
There are also rumors that Daniel Jacobs’ 168-pound debut -- possibly against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., though he has also been rumored for an Alfredo Angulo fight -- is going to happen on Dec. 13 to avoid competing with an ESPN card. That’s a smart move, because the same ESPN card with Lopez-Commey is rumored to feature Terence Crawford-Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Mick Conlan against the guy who beat him at the Olympics: Vladimir Nikitin. Only Lopez-Commey is confirmed, but if the other bouts happen, it would be an absurdly stacked card and one Jacobs would be wise to avoid.
Bivol-Castillo Added to Usyk-Spong Undercard
Fresh off his decision win over Joe Smith Jr., WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol has been added to the Oct. 12 card in Chicago headlined by Oleksandr Usyk’s heavyweight debut against kickboxing star Tyrone Spong. Bivol’s opponent will be the Dominican Republic’s Lenin Castillo. A 2008 Olympian, Castillo is 20-2 with 15 knockouts but lost a decision to Marcus Browne in August. Since then, he has recorded two stoppage victories in his home country. In an ugly fight he ultimately lost, Castillo dropped Browne in the fifth round but never came close to stopping him.
Fury-Wallin Reportedly Sells Only 18 Percent of T-Mobile Tickets
While the fight ended up being far from the mismatch everyone expected, the charismatic Tyson Fury wasn’t enough to put people in the seats against an unknown like Otto Wallin. It is being reported that the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas only sold 18 percent of the venue’s 20,000 available seats. While this looks terrible for Fury, it may be a blessing in disguise for boxing. Against Wallin, Fury didn’t sell any tickets, generated very little buzz because of his opponent choice on a weekend stacked with good boxing, then got cut from a punch and almost lost both the bout and a shot at Deontay Wilder rematch money. It should be noted that while Fury says the cut won’t impact a February fight with Wilder, others aren’t so sure. In the face of a night like that, meeting a legitimate heavyweight prospect might not seem so bad.
Rumors Heat Up: Endeavor to Purchase PBC Among IPO Drama
The future of Premier Boxing Champions and its fighters is less clear than ever before, because there are rumors the company is going to be acquired by the “global entertainment, sports and content company” Endeavor. This has been rumored for a while, but Endeavor -- which is also the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship -- pulled its initial public offering when investors got concerned about how poorly Peloton did when it launched its IPO. What does this mean for PBC? Opinions are varied. Some people are saying it makes it even more clear that Endeavor is going to buy PBC in October, because if it were doing so, a late September IPO makes perfect sense. Others are saying PBC must have found some money elsewhere, and that may have played a role in the postponement. Either way, it is interesting.
Another thing that’s interesting is that Fox PPV just beat out Showtime PPV for the Wilder-Luis Ortiz rematch. Matchroom Boxing frontman Eddie Hearn said that it was “probably the end of boxing on Showtime,” while Showtime Sports executive Stephen Espinoza shrugged off the rumors: “We’re well into planning for first quarter of 2020. If this means the end of boxing at Showtime, certainly no one has told anyone around here any of that.” Questions about whether Showtime boxing is dead or PBC is about to get bought are yet to be determined, but outside of ESPN and Dazn, there are a whole lot of questions about who will be airing the biggest fights in the future.
Everlast Signs Transgender Boxer Manuel
Despite having only one professional fight, transgender boxer Patricio Manuel -- a former female boxer who competed in the Olympic trials -- was signed to the famed boxing apparel and equipment company Everlast. It is part of a campaign centered around the phrase “Be First” and will also feature an amputee fighter and a family of immigrants from Mexico who are amateur boxers.
While plenty of brands have gone “woke” -- Nike most famously -- this move may also represent the changing dynamics of who buys boxing gear. There are very few Kronk-type gyms left in America, intimidating dens of masculinity packed full of guys who want to learn how to box. There are plenty of “boxing” gyms that use hitting pads and heavy bags, not faces, as the new, hip aerobic exercise. It may make business sense for the brand to appeal more to people looking to endorse a brand on the right side of social issues than to the increasingly shrinking, hardcore boxing crowd.
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