PODCAST: Heather Hardy Interview (Ep 278)

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney talk to undefeated female featherweight Heather "The Heat" Hardy about her October 27 HBO-televised rematch with Shelly Vincent, the tragedy she was dealing with leading up to their first fight, the challenges posed by jumping back and forth between boxing and MMA, and the future of women's boxing.

Dmitry Bivol and Jean Pascal Battle in Atlantic City on November 24

 Photo: Ed Mulholland

Photo: Ed Mulholland

Dmitry Bivol will face former Ring Magazine champion Jean Pascal on Saturday, November 24, 2018 as boxing returns to Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

The event will be promoted by Main Events and World of Boxing, Bivol’s promoter, in association with Jean Pascal Promotions. The bout will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10 PM ET/PT.

Bivol, age 27, of St. Petersburg Russia, risks his perfect record of 14 wins with no losses and 11 knockouts against the time-tested Pascal, who turns 36 on October 28, has 33 wins, 20 by knockout, against five losses and a draw.

Bivol is coming off a dominating 12-round decision victory over crafty Isaac Chilemba of Malawi on August 4. Pascal is fresh from an eighth round TKO over former UFC champion Steve Bosse at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec on July 20. 

After storming through the amateur ranks, Bivol has quickly moved himself into position to take over the highly competitive light heavyweight division by facing top names and defeating them, one after the other. Bivol is open about his ambitious goals to fight all of the best opponents in the division, and to deliver entertaining fights in front of large audiences. 

Bivol’s ultimate goal to unify the light heavyweight division: “It’s very important for me. It’s every boxer’s dream to be the champion, the unified champion. It’s a big step to dream about. Like (unified cruiserweight champion) Oleksandr Usyk.”

Though humble, Bivol is sure about his abilities. “Not too long ago, Pascal fought for three world titles and I watched on TV. Now he wants to take my title away, and I am very happy to accept this challenge and look forward to my next title defense on HBO.” 

Vadim Kornilov, Bivol’s manager, added, “We are looking forward to another great performance by Dmitry Bivol on November 24th. Jean Pascal is a name everyone has heard, and we look forward to a competitive fight with this great champion.”

Andrei Ryabinski of World of Boxing, Bivol’s promoter, said, “We are glad to be putting together another fight for Dmitry Bivol together with HBO, Main Events and the Hard Rock. Look forward to a great fight between Dmitry Bivol and Jean Pascal!”

"This is the most important fight of my life and I could not be more motivated,” said Pascal. “I'm making boxing history on November 24th. I'm known as a champion who never turned down any challenges, but I want to be two-time champion and I want to be immortalized in the Hall of Fame when my career is over. To fully cement my status as a hall of famer, I must win this fight and I will win this fight. 

"Bivol is a very good fighter and a difficult challenge, but greatness has never been achieved without overcoming difficult challenges. My Canadian fans should be very excited because all of the light heavyweight belts will be in our house for Christmas this year," promised Pascal.

Manager Greg Leon is equally confident. “In my opinion Bivol is the best light heavyweight champion in the world, so this is an extremely difficult challenge for us. However, Jean is fighting for the hall of fame, history and legacy. That coupled with the intangibles he possesses that cannot be taught make him the most dangerous fighter Bivolhas ever faced by far. 

"November 24th will provide Bivol with a couple of new experiences; he'll be fighting in his first major main event and he'll be suffering his first loss as a professional,” said Leon.

Main Events CEO Kathy Duva said, “Main Events could not be more excited to return to Atlantic City for our second card at the Hard Rock’s Etess Arena. Our first card there on August 4 was a sellout, and we expect to build on that momentum by bringing Dmitry back to be in the main event on November 24.”

“Following up on the success of last August’s fight between Alvarez and Kovalev, this will just be another step forward in Atlantic City’s return to professional boxing,” says Bernie Dillon, Vice President of Entertainment for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, “I’m thrilled that Hard Rock can be a big part of that.”

Heather Hardy to Battle Shelly Vincent on October 27 Jacobs-Derevyanchenko Undercard

 Ed Diller/DiBella Entertainment

Ed Diller/DiBella Entertainment

In a rematch of their epic 2016 match, Brooklyn’s Heather “The Heat” Hardy (21-0, 4 KOs) and Shelly “Shelito’s Way” Vincent (23-1, 1 KO) will clash once again on Saturday, October 27, at the Hulu Theater from Madison Square Garden. The scheduled 10-round bout, for the vacant WBO Women’s Featherweight World title, will open a sensational tripleheader televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10 PM ET/PT.

Previously announced on the telecast, Daniel Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs) and Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs) will battle for the vacant IBF World Middleweight Title and Alberto Machado (20-0, 16 KOs) will face off against Yuandale Evans (20-1, 14 KOs). 

“I’m so excited and so honored to be fighting on HBO,” said Hardy. “Shelly and I have wanted a rematch since the first fight ended and it’s fitting that it’s on this huge card and will be telecast on HBO from Madison Square Garden. The first fight was one of the very best of 2016 and the rematch will start right where we finished off.” 

Said Vincent emphatically about the world title bout and prospect of winning the title belt, “I’m not leaving without my property!”

“I was thrilled to call Heather and Shelly and let them know that their rematch will be telecast on HBO,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “I have to give a lot of credit to Peter Nelson and HBO for advancing women’s boxing by stepping up to air this fight.”

“The first fight between Heather and Shelly was an outstanding, back-and-forth battle, reminiscent of the Gatti-Ward fights that I co-promoted. I anticipate nothing less when the bell rings for the rematch. October 27 is a stacked card, in the intimate setting of Hulu Theater from Madison Square Garden, and I encourage as many fans as possible to join us live.”

Fighting on August 21, 2016, in Coney Island, NY, and in a nationally telecast bout, Hardy won a hard-fought majority decision over 10 rounds. Hardy has since won three additional fights including two victories versus former world title challenger Edina Kiss. Most recently, Hardy scored an eight-round decision against Iranda Torres on April 21, in Brooklyn. 

A native of Providence, RI, Vincent has stayed busy with five wins since her loss to Hardy, the only defeat of her eight years as a professional. As a result of her performance against Hardy, the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame named her their “Fighter of the Year” for 2016, with Vincent becoming the first female recipient of that award. In her last bout on July 21, Vincent took home an eight-round decision victory against Calista Silgado.

"Road to Jacobs/Derevyanchenko" Debuts Saturday, October 13 on HBO

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HBO Boxing presents Road to Jacobs/Derevyanchenko, an special examining the 160-pound title showdown between Daniel Jacobs and Sergiy Derevyanchenko set for Saturday, Oct. 27 at Hulu Theater from Madison Square Garden in New York. The encounter will be televised live on HBO.

The Road to Jacobs/Derevyanchenko special will premiere Saturday, Oct. 13 at 10:20 PM (ET/PT) on HBO. It will preview the powerhouse meeting between two ring warriors who have been on a journey to confront each other in the ring. The special will provide all-new content including portraits of both fighters’ path to this significant fall showdown.

Jacobs, known as “Miracle Man” when he returned to the ring after being successfully treated for bone cancer, has a glittering record of 34-2, 29 KOs. Jacobs looks to regain a middleweight title and put himself a-top of the division. Born in the Ukraine and now based out of Brooklyn, NY, Derevyanchenko has knocked out 10 of his 12 opponents. A touted amateur, Derevyanchenko compiled an astonishing record of 390-20. Both fighters have been trained by Andre Rozier but for their Oct. 27th showdown, Rozier will be in Jacobs’ corner while Gary Stark Sr. mans the corner for Derevyanchenko.

The special will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and partners’ streaming platforms.

Daniel Jacobs vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko

Mark your calendars. Daniel Jacobs takes on Serigy Derevyanchenko October 27 with a middleweight title on the line. Plus, Alberto Merchado defends his super featherweight crown against Yuandale Evans.

The doubleheader goes down on October 27 at 10 pm on HBO.

Canelo Ekes Out Rematch Win Over Golovkin

Photos: Ed Mulholland

By Kieran Mulvaney

LAS VEGAS – This time there was a winner.

Twelve months after leaving this same T-Mobile Arena with a controversial draw after a fight that many ringside felt opponent Gennady Golovkin had won, Canelo Alvarez edged the rematch by taking a majority decision win on scorecards that accurately reflected the extreme closeness of a contest fought with tremendous skill and will over 12 high-caliber rounds.

Judge Glenn Feldman saw the contest as a draw. But he was marginally overruled by Steve Weisfeld and Dave Moretti, who had it for Alvarez by the slimmest of margins: 115-113, seven rounds to five. While each fighter can point to a handful rounds that he won, the winning margins even within most of those rounds were razor-thin. It is entirely possible that the result may ultimately have come down to just one or two clear, clean punches that were enough to earn Canelo a round and, thus, the fight.

If there was a consensus expectation among professional predictors during fight week, it was that this time Alvarez, despite his promises that he would knock Golovkin out, would move around the ring, seek to avoid exchanges, and look to box. It didn’t take long for that prediction to go up in smoke.

At the first bell, Golovkin marched forward to center ring. Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) marched forward to meet him; and there he stayed for much of the fight. Indeed, for long stretches, Canelo was the one stalking forward and looking to dig power punches inside; Golovkin, uncharacteristically, circled and retreated, trying to keep his foe at range.

The bout effectively unfolded in three acts.

Over the first four rounds, the contest was close, even and largely cagey, Golovkin edging the segment primarily by being busier and more accurate with the jab, and by rounds three and four beginning to add body punches to the mix as he loosened up. The middle act, which Golovkin had won comprehensively a year ago, this time went almost equally strongly to Alvarez, who began to let loose with power punches in the fifth, and tore into Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) in the sixth and seventh, unleashing uppercuts to the Kazakh’s body and head as the older man showed signs of apparent wear, at one point retreating in seeming discomfort from the Mexican’s relentless body assault. 

Part way through the eighth, however, Golovkin appeared to press the reset button, and emerged from the ninth evidently aware of the need for greater urgency. Suddenly, Golovkin looked lighter on his feet, pivoting into position to land fierce punches to Canelo’s head. A right hand from Golovkin sent spray flying from Canelo’s head, and then the Kazakh knocked his opponent to the ropes and zeroed in with badly-intentioned combinations. Canelo responded, fighting Golovkin back to the center of the ring before Golovkin responded with two fierce hooks. In the 11th, Canelo’s back was against the ropes on a consistent basis for the first time in the fight, and his head movement, which had enabled him to slip much of Golovkin’s assault early, was almost non-existent. Again, however, Canelo dug deep at the end of the round; and in the 12th, the two men battled weariness as much as each other, forcing themselves to continue flinging punches at each other as the crowd of 21,965 roared. Weisfeld and Moretti gave that round to Canelo, which was enough to seal a 115-113 result on both their cards and avoid another draw.

“I’m very excited, very emotional,” said a relieved Canelo, who had been nursing a cut above his left eye since early in the contest. “It was a great fight, but at the end we got the victory for Mexico. He didn’t hit me a lot. I’m a great fighter, and I showed it tonight. If the people want it, we’ll do it again. For now, I want to rest. But we’ll do it again for sure.”

“I’m not going to say who won tonight,” responded Golovkin. “Because the victory belongs to Canelo according to the judges. I thought it was a very fun fight for the fans. I thought I fought better than he did.”

“We had a great fight, the one we expected the first time around,” added Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez. “I had it close going into the 12th. We had good judges, who saw it from different angles. I can’t complain about the decision but it’s close enough to warrant a third fight. Canelo fought a good fight. Congratulations.”

Undercard Report: Undefeated Munguia Keeps Rolling Against Overwhelmed Cook

Photos: Ed Mulholland

By Eric Raskin

Jaime Munguia makes it easy for fight fans to latch onto him and get excited. Still three weeks shy of his 22nd birthday, the Mexican junior middleweight is 31-0 with 26 knockouts and refuses to be part of a dull round of boxing. And there’s no busier world-class fighter in the sport: He’s scored five victories in 2018 – and left himself time to try for a sixth.

Munguia got through quickly and easily enough against Brandon Cook in the final bout on the Golovkin-Alvarez 2 undercard that he could feasibly return within the next couple of months. Too big, too energetic, and too strong, the massive 154-pounder from Tijuana stopped Cook 63 seconds into the third round. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to save the Canadian fighter, who’d been knocked down moments earlier, following an avalanche of head and body punches along the ropes.

As dominant as he was, Munguia didn’t look sharp at all times. He frequently missed wildly or lunged in with his punches. But the 32-year-old Cook (20-2, 13 KOs) didn’t have the tools to make him pay. And by the end of the first round, when Munguia landed a right hand to the head and proceeded to tee off along the ropes until the bell rang, the younger man was in complete control.

Cook fought bravely, and at times aggressively, but his left eye was swelling and his flanks were targeted repeatedly. Munguia pummeled him in the corner at the end of the second round the same way he had in the first, then did serious damage in the third. He dropped Cook by landing big shots with both hands during an exchange about 30 seconds into the round. Cook rose, but he couldn’t keep the bigger man off and was hunched over and clearly out of his depth when Weeks made the decision to stop the fight. 

It was just the rebound performance Munguia was looking for after being taken the distance by Liam Smith in July.

“In each fight, you see what you did well, what you didn’t do so well, you learn from each fight, and you implement it in the next one,” Munguia said afterward. 

Munguia nearly landed a fight with Gennady Golovkin in May, and while he admits he has learning to do, he says he’s ready to pounce on an opportunity against either GGG or Canelo Alvarez if offered. “If it comes on the table again,” Munguia insisted, “I’ll take the fight.”

Undercard Report: Lemieux Finishes the War of Words With His Fists

Photos: Ed Mulholland

By Kieran Mulvaney

The war of words between David Lemieux and Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan lasted several weeks. Their battle inside the ring was over in under three minutes. Lemieux came out of his corner at the opening bell, looking to inflict damage, firing fast flurries to head and body. O’Sullivan, meanwhile, held his hands raised high and tight to his face, eyeing an opportunity to land a telling blow of his own.

That opportunity never arrived: O’Sullivan (28-3, 20 KOs) was able to throw only 25 punches, landing just eight; Lemieux, in contrast, threw 79, and landed 22 of them. The only one that really mattered, though, was the final one:  a left hook that exploded on O’Sullivan’s jaw just as the Irishman was connecting with a glancing jab to the Canadian’s face. O’Sullivan, about to unleash a right hand, saw his punch sail harmlessly over his opponent’s head as he tumbled down to his knees and then flat on the canvas, face-first. He hauled himself uncertainly back to his hands and knees, and looked up at referee Russell Mora, who waved off the contest without completing a count. The time was 2:44 of Round 1.

O’Sullivan continued to look dazed and confused, even as he stood up, with Mora placing a protective arm around his shoulder as Lemieux (40-4, 34 KOs) celebrated.

“I felt great,” said the winner in the ring afterward. “I’m in superb shape. I always like to give the fans a good fight, so I hope you’re happy. I was motivated by all the trash talk. I’m not the kind of guy who likes to talk trash. I respect my opponents. I keep it all in the ring.”