Sherdog Boxing: The Weekly Wrap

By James Kinneen Nov 15, 2019

When Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. dodged a VADA test, the Nevada State Athletic Commission effectively canceled his fight with Daniel Jacobs. Still looking to make that fight happen in spite of the ruling, Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn decided the two would face one another in Arizona instead, far from the NSAC’s jurisdiction.

The NSAC has since told Hearn that if he goes ahead with the fight in Arizona, he could face disciplinary action. Citing the Ali Act, as well as state law, the NSAC was not clear about what kind of disciplinary action it would take. However, it would be a disastrous mistake for Hearn to jeopardize his fighters’ futures in Las Vegas for someone with a damaged reputation like Chavez. While Hearn claims Chavez refused to take the test because he had not yet signed to fight when VADA showed up at his house, the promoter’s next move seems obvious: Pull the plug on Chavez Jr. and all his drama, and bring in the always-entertaining Gabriel Rosado to take his place.

Rigondeaux Moves to Bantamweight for Solis Title Shot

Moving down in weight at an advanced age appeared to work well for Nonito Donaire, and now, one of the men who defeated him has decided to follow his lead. It was announced that 39-year-old Guillermo Rigondeaux will move to bantamweight -- he usually fights as a super bantamweight at 122 pounds -- for the first time in his career. There, he will face Venezuela’s Liborio Solis on the Jermell Charlo-Tony Harrison 2 undercard. The two will fight for the WBA regular bantamweight title. Solis held the WBA super flyweight title in 2013 and lost a WBA bantamweight title shot against Jamie McDonnell in 2016. Rigondeaux has still only lost to Vasiliy Lomachenko in a fight that took place at 130 pounds and has recently taken to calling out Naoya Inoue.

WBO super bantamweight champion Emmanuel Navarrete has also scheduled his next fight, his fifth in the last 12 months. He will take on fellow Mexican Francisco Horta on Dec. 7 in Puebla, Mexico, in a fight that will be carried by ESPN+.

One fight that is not yet official but appears to be on the cusp of being signed is IBF super featherweight champion Tevin Farmer’s showdown with JoJo Diaz. Apparently, Diaz has accepted the offer to fight on Jan. 30 in Miami, three days before the Super Bowl takes place in the city. Farmer’s team has not yet accepted the offer, but the fight appears likely to happen. While nowhere near as close to getting made as that fight, it should also be noted that Josh Warrington claims negotiations for a battle with Shakur Stevenson have begun.

Verdejo Chooses Cuba’s Salas as New Trainer

Once viewed as Puerto Rico’s next superstar, Felix Verdejo has left longtime trainer Ricky Marquez and enlisted the help of Cuba’s Ismael Salas -- a man who has trained a who’s who of Cuban boxing stars, including Guillermo Rigondeaux, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Erislandy Lara and Felix Savon.

Now 26 years old, the 2012 Olympian and 2014 ESPN “Prospect of the Year” -- Verdejo was chosen over fighters like Artur Beterbiev, Anthony Joshua, Errol Spence Jr. and Olesandr Usyk -- has never come close to living up to his potential. Plagued by legal issues, a motorcycle accident, hand injuries, rumors of discipline problems and other factors that played into his inactivity, Verdejo is 25-1 but remains overshadowed by a shocking stoppage loss at the hands of Antonio Lozado Jr. Verdejo does not have many more chances to live up to the hype, so it looks like Salas is either going to be the one to bring out the best in him or Verdejo will never become what people once thought he would.

Fury Squashes MMA Fight, Argues He has ‘Bigger Fish to Fry’

If you saw the video of Tyson Fury working on knees and elbows inside a cage and thought he was serious about moving to MMA, he appears to have squashed those dreams. While his father wants to fight UFC President Dana White for saying Fury would get “smashed” in an MMA fight, Fury was quoted as having said the following: “To be honest with you, I’ve got bigger fish to fry than going in an Octagon and fighting some UFC fighters for peanuts. I’m fighting the biggest fights in the world.”

While Fury is apparently backing out of his decision to move to MMA, there were all kinds of combat sports athletes looking to position themselves for big fights they do not deserve. Tommy Fury, Tyson’s younger brother and a man best known for his stint on the reality show “Love Island,” called out KSI for his next bout. The younger Fury trains under Ricky Hatton and owns a 2-0 mark as a professional. However, his two professional opponents have an astonishing combined record of 10-128-5, meaning the 1-0 KSI would be the best fighter he has faced.

UFC welterweight contender Jorge Masvidal is also clamoring for a crossover fight. He has called out Canelo Alvarez for a boxing match, and his trainer at American Top Team, Mike Thomas Brown, thinks it would be an interesting fight. Brown copied and pasted the Conor McGregor template: “I think he can be very competitive, and he can shock some people. This is what he’s best at. He’s got maybe the highest fight IQ of anybody I’ve ever met. Boxing is where he’s most comfortable [and] what he’s been doing the longest -- since he was a teenager. It comes most natural to him. He also has the ability to change things up and do wild and crazy things with unique footwork with things nobody has ever seen.” Obviously, connecting the idea of Masvidal having been a decent boxer as a teenager to the thought that he would do well against an all-time great was absurd, as was the fallacy that as an MMA fighter he would bring things never before seen in the 154 years since the Queensberry rules were established.

Finally, Marcos Maidana unretired again, announcing he would fight kickboxer Jorge “Acero” Cali in April in what will be a five-round fight -- contested around the cruiserweight limit -- that uses boxing rules. Maidana has said this fight will be his last since he is 36 years old. Cali is 47.

Ritchie Dies After Body Shot in Sparring

In case the YouTubers, wall street professionals and whoever else makes up the rough-and-rowdy crowd looking to get into boxing needed a reminder of the dangerous nature of the sport, Australian Dwight “The Fighting Cowboy” Ritchie collapsed and died after taking a body shot from Michael Zerafa in sparring. Zerafa was preparing with Ritchie for a rematch to his victory over Jeff Horn.

An old-timey boxer named Alex Gdovin supposedly died from a punch to the chest; a few years back, a Binghamton student died after a friendly boxing match in which he was punched in the chest; and, of course, Harry Houdini famously died after getting punched in the stomach. Obviously, head trauma remains the most dangerous issue in boxing, but Ritchie’s death should remind everyone that the human body is not made to be punched any more than the head.
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