HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney preview Saturday night's light heavyweight showdown pitting a comebacking Sergey Kovalev against Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, plus they examine undercard bouts Sullivan Barrera vs. Felix Valera and Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Jason Sosa.
HBO Sports, with a 44-year tradition in professional boxing, takes a deep dive into the career of sure-fire Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto, the most accomplished and decorated fighter in Puerto Rican history, as he prepares to make one last ring appearance next month against former U.S. Olympian Sadam Ali when Miguel Cotto: A Retrospective debuts Saturday, November. 25 at 12:45 PM ET/PT immediately following the live HBO World Championship Boxing tripleheader telecast from New York.
The special will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO and HBO On Demand, and at hbo.com/boxing, as well as other new media platforms.
Four-division and six-time world champion Miguel Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs), returns to the ring for the final time in what will mark the end of an era for the future Hall of Famer. Cotto will look to successfully defend his junior middleweight title in his last outing before a packed crowd of loyal New York supporters as he closes the book on his legendary career.
HBO Sports production cameras will visit Cotto as well as family members in Puerto Rico to tell his backstory — both personal and professional — as he trains for the final time in Hollywood, CA under the guidance of Freddie Roach. The Caguas, Puerto Rico native will also sit with Jim Lampley for a retrospective on his accomplishments.
On Saturday, Dec. 2, Cotto and Ali meet at the World's Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden in New York in a 12-round 154-pound world title bout that will be televised live on HBO beginning at 10:00 PM ET/PT. This will mark Cotto’s 24th appearance on the network and his tenth showcase at MSG.
HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney break down Daniel Jacobs' dominant 12-round decision win over Luis Arias, as well as TKO victories on the undercard for Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller and Cletus "The Hebrew Hammer" Seldin.
Photos: Ed Mulholland
UNIONDALE, N.Y. - At Thursday’s final pre-fight press conference, Daniel Jacobs looked down at Luis Arias and proclaimed, “You’re going to find out that there are levels to this game.” And indeed, Jacobs was on an entirely different level to his previously undefeated opponent at the Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night, winning virtually every minute of every round on his way to a unanimous twelve-round decision. Arias (18-1, 9 KOs, 1 ND) was slippery and elusive – and certainly didn’t seem keen on acquiescing to his own prefight proposal that the two men stand and trade in center ring all night long – but it was clear from the early going that he possessed nothing to at all seriously trouble the Brooklyn boxer, whose previous outing had been a surprisingly close challenge of middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.
If anything, Jacobs seemed irritated by Arias’ very presence, brushing aside Arias’ sporadic attempts at offense and looking as if he wanted to visit harm on his foe with every punch that he threw. Indeed, he admitted afterward that Arias’ pre-fight taunting and trash-talking had burrowed under his skin a little.
“The talk was motivation, but at the end of the day, it put me off my game plan,” he conceded afterward. “I got a little too aggressive. I hurt him early on, and then I got more aggressive.”
For all his bluster, Arias was remarkably circumspect when it came to throwing punches, averaging just 26.5 per round for a total of 318, and landing just over a quarter of those. Jacobs landed 184 of the 581 he threw, and despite the convincing victory, may perhaps be feeling a little disappointed that he wasn’t able to land more.
The principal reason why he did not was Arias’ awkwardness, and his sneaky head movement, as well as the New Yorker’s own tendency to try and score a home run with every punch. He occasionally switched southpaw in an attempt to do so, but would perhaps have found greater effectiveness had he more frequently feinted with a right cross and instead switched to an uppercut to meet the head of Arias as he ducked forward. He tried it a few times, and it worked when he did, but most of the time he speared Arias with a jab and looked for a hooks, straight rights or crosses with which to follow up.
Bit by bit, he turned up the pressure, stepping in behind his jab and stalking Arias, trapping him
regularly along the edges of the ring and looking to unleash his full fury. A frantic flurry at the end of the sixth, after he seemingly buzzed Arias, had Jacobs’ corner calling for more of the same, and Jacobs (33-2, 29 KOs) emerged for the seventh keen to do damage. The determination not to let Arias off was illustrated by one moment in that round when he caught Arias with a hook, Arias looked to spin away and Jacobs literally sprinted to stop him from escaping.
As the fight progressed, Arias showed flashes of greater willingness to engage, which gave Jacobs more opportunities to land cleanly. A hook and a right hand in the tenth clearly hurt Arias, who was starting to look quite ragged. By the final two rounds, Jacobs pushed hard for the finish. He did officially score a knockdown in the penultimate round after Arias’ glove touched the canvas, but it was a slightly generous call, as Jacobs had cuffed his opponent behind the back of his head to help him on his way.
It was all academic, however, as the judges’ scores of 120-107, 119-108 and 118-109 reflected Jacobs’ dominance. With Arias out of the way, the Brooklyn boxer immediately turned his attention to the December 16 clash between David Lemieux and Billy Joe Saunders.
“My plan is to invade Canada, so they can see my face, and I can call them out,” he said.
Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller may not be able to fight as well as he can talk – and that would be hard, because the charismatic Miller sure can talk – but, on his HBO debut, he stopped Polish veteran Marius Wach to remain undefeated.
Miller (20-0-1, 18 KOs) has a relaxed, not-exactly-orthodox, style: he generally chooses not to jab his way into range, although he does periodically throw out some slappy rangefinders, but is instead content to walk forward toward his opponent, stand in close, slip and move inside and then unleash a sequence of power punches to body and head. His punches could stand to have more torque, but with the weight of 280 or so pounds behind them, the ones he landed on Wach (33-3, 17 KOs) were clearly able to have some effect.
The body blows caused Wach, whose natural immobility was accentuated by an ankle injury, to bend over enough that the punch that the Brooklynite was most keen to land on the 6’7” Pole was an uppercut; and while few of the head punches appeared to be enough to cause damage, their cumulative impact was of clear concern to the ringside physicians with the New York State Athletic Commission, who have been considerably more skittish about such things ever since the tragedy that befell Magomed Abdusalamov at Madison Square Garden in 2013. A cluster of doctors looked on anxiously in the corner between rounds on several occasions, and allowed Wach to re-enter combat for the eighth and ninth with only the greatest reluctance. In the ninth, with Wach taking more combinations without throwing much in return, the doctor signaled to referee David Fields to stop the fight, which he did just before the final minute.
In a star-making performance, Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin dropped Roberto Ortiz twice in the first round and stopped him in the third of a scheduled ten-round junior welterweight contest. Seldin (21-0, 17 KOs), a Long Islander who has fought most of his professional bouts in nearby Huntington, attacked Ortiz from the opening bell, backing him to the ropes and dropping him with a big right hand against the ropes with just seconds elapsed. He continued to batter him along the ropes and put him down again when Ortiz ducked and crouched and Seldin hammered him to his knees.
Ortiz (35-2-2, 26 KOs) survived the second, but blood was streaming down the left side, and even though he had his legs back under him by the third, he was still looking much the worse for wear. Seldin, meanwhile, just kept attacking, and finished off the contest in the third. The end was slightly confusing: Seldin fights in an old-school way that includes an elbows-high defense, and when a weary Ortiz threw a punch, he fell forward into Seldin’s forearm and elbow, which struck him in the left eye. Ortiz dropped to his knees, complaining of a foul, and referee Shada Murdaugh called time and took Ortiz to the corner for inspection by the ringside physician, on whose advice he waved the fight over at 2:43.
Seldin threw 201 punches in just under three rounds, 96 more than Ortiz, and landed 75 to just 21 for his beaten opponent, 66 of them power punches.
Photo: Ed Mulholland
The Boxing Capital of the World, Las Vegas, NV, will host another in its long history of ‘Fight of the Year’ candidates when Four-Time World Champion in two weight divisions, Orlando “Siri” Salido (44-13-4, 31 KOs), of Sonora, MX, faces off against fellow Mexican warrior Miguel “Mikey” Roman (57-12, 44 KOs), of Chihuahua, MX, in a 12-round lightweight clash Saturday, Dec. 9 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center, it was announced today by Zanfer Promotions, Golden Boy Promotions and Tom Loeffler. The bout will be televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark beginning at 10:20 PM. ET/PT.
Tickets priced at $250, $200, $150, $100 and $50 are on sale at AXS.com and at the Mandalay Bay Events Center Box Office.
Also featured on the card, Tevin “American Idol” Farmer (25-4-1, 5 KO’s), of Philadelphia, PA squares off against Kenichi Ogawa (22-1-0, 17 KO’s), of Tokyo, Japan for the vacant IBF Junior Lightweight World Title. Farmer vs. Ogawa is presented in association with DiBella Entertainment and Teiken Promotions.
Opening the telecast former WBC World Super Featherweight Champion Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas (23-1-2, 17 KOs) will return to the ring once again to make a case for title contention when he takes on former two-time world title challenger Stephen “Swifty” SMith (25-3, 15 KOs) in a 12-round super featherweight fight. Vargas vs. Smith is presented in association with Matchroom Boxing.
“Roman is a good fighter but honestly I don’t care who is in front of me I always come to fight, this is no exception. I’m rested and ready for another fight,” said Orlando Salido.
Miguel Roman said, “The fans will not be disappointed when I get inside the ring with Salido – I’m going to knock him out. I’m preparing for what could be a tremendous test with Salido because he is a tough fighter. But, that doesn’t scare me, and I know that ultimately I will be the fighter to raise his hand in victory.”
Zanfer Promotions’ Fernando Beltran said, “Salido vs. Roman is a great fight, it reminds me a lot of Morales vs. Barrera I. Two Mexicans that we knew how they fought and that it would be the Fight of the Year. We have the same feeling for this fight, we believe we have another Fight of the Year.”
Oscar De La Hoya, chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, said, “Orlando Salido and Mickey Roman are both fighters who won't back down in the ring and so I expect to see a great event when they enter the ring. Salido is an action-packed fighter who has shown us time and again that he will take two punches to give one. And, Roman is a warrior who has tremendous power. The fans always come out on top when you have two veteran Mexican fighters that like to brawl so I expect a very entertaining event next month.”
“Francisco Vargas is a fighter that I’ve never worried will be in a boring fight because he brings aggression and action to the ring with every opponent. When he fights Smith on Dec. 9, I think you’ll see a stronger, smarter and more aggressive Vargas than we’ve ever seen before.”
Tom Loeffler said, “We’re looking forward to promoting this sensational triple header featuring six of the most popular and toughest fighters in their respective weight divisions with boxing fans being the true winners on December 9.”
“Having promoted numerous events at Mandalay Bay and with Gennady “GGG” Golovkin making it his host hotel for fight week in September, it’s a pleasure to work with their great team once again and with the strong relationships which have been built over many years.”
In June 2016, Salido and Francisco Vargas engaged in the consensus “Fight of the Year”telecast on HBO from the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., as both warriors clashed in a fight that had the huge crowd on their feet throughout. At the end of the twelve memorable rounds the bout was declared a majority draw.
On March 1, 2014, Salido welcomed current world champion and pound-for-pound contender, Vasyl Lomachenko to the professional ranks with a 12-round decision victory in San Antonio, TX. Lomachenko was seeking to capture Salido’s WBO Featherweight World Title in only his second professional bout but was turned back by the skilled, hard-punching Mexican veteran in San Antonio.
Boxing professionally from the age of 15, the 36-year-old Salido has competed against numerous world champions and top contenders including Mikey Garcia, Lamont Peterson, Roman Martinez, Juan Manuel Lopez, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Robert Guerrero.
The 31-year-old Roman, a professional since 2003, had compiled a 19 -bout winning streak prior to facing Japanese warrior Takashi Miura on January 28, 2017 in Indio, Calif. Telecast on HBO, both combatants engaged in a memorable battle through the first 11 rounds before the bout was stopped in Miura’s favor.
Roman followed up the disappointing loss with a 12th-round knockout of Nery Saguilianon June 24, 2017 in Chihuahua, MX. The victory earned Roman the vacant WBC FECOMBOX Lightweight Title.
"Said Lou DiBella of DiBella Entertaiment, “Tevin Farmer is truly the American Dream. Fighting inside the ring through hard work and uncommon perseverance has created this opportunity for him to challenge for a world title. Outside the ring Tevin was a victim of our country's senseless violence in his hometown this past July in which he suffered a gunshot wound while serving valiantly as a peacemaker during a domestic incident."
"I'm honored to work with Tevin and promote this long-awaited opportunity for him to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a world champion."
"I've been waiting a long time for an opportunity like this and I'm happy that it's now here," said Tevin Farmer. "I'm going to seize the moment and become a world champion on December 9. Training camp has been going as planned. I'm already in shape and we still have a month left before the fight. Ogawa comes to fight and he won't lay down. He's coming for the victory too, but it's my job to do what I do best and make it look easy.
"I've been through a lot of adversity to reach this point in my career and it taught me how to dig deep and become a better person and better fighter. I know not to take this opportunity for granted. I'm bringing the title home to Philadelphia."
"I am honored to be fighting for the IBF title and very excited that it will be in Las Vegas,” said Kenichi Ogawa. “I know Tevin Farmer is a tough opponent and I will be ready for him on December 9. This will be my first fight outside of Japan. I am training very hard to put on a good performance for my U.S. debut.”
Victorious in his last seventeen bouts, the 27-year-old southpaw Tevin Farmer has taken on all comers throughout his seven-year career continuing to improve with each fight. Following four victories last year including a sensational victory over contender Ivan Redkach, Famer defeated Arturo Reyes by decision on April 29, 2017 in his hometown.
However, in July of this year while breaking up a domestic dispute, Farmer was seriously injured from a bullet wound to his left hand. Now fully recovered he looks to capture his dream of becoming a world champion.
Fighting for the first time in the United States, the 29-year-old Kenichi Ogawa is also riding a very impressive fourteen bout winning streak dating back to 2012.
With two victories in 2017, most recently Ogawa stopped Hirotsugu Yamamoto on July 1 in Tokyo, Japan.
Said Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, “This is a great opportunity for Stephen Smith on a huge platform. He is put in some great performances for a world title, and badly wants another crack at the crown. A win against Francisco Vargas would 100% do that. It's a great division and this is a great card on December 9."
“Stephen Smith and the fans should expect nothing less than non-stop action from a warrior like me,” said Francisco Vargas. “On Dec. 9, people are going to remember the reasons why I was in two Fight-of-the-Year battles as I make a comeback to the ring. I want to thank Golden Boy Promotions, Ralph Heredia Management, Matchroom Boxing, and Stephen Smith for putting together this fight that I know the fans will enjoy.”
“It’s a great opportunity for me,” said Stephen Smith. “Francisco Vargas always comes to fight, which I’m sure will make for an entertaining clash on December 9. The way he fights, it’s always tough. The last two years he’s been involved in the fight of the years against Salido and Miura, which shows the level he’s at and excitement he brings. But you don’t know how many miles are now on his clock. That’s a big unanswered question. We’re both highly ranked with the WBC so at this stage it looks on paper to be the best route back to a world title.”
Vargas, of Mexico City, is the former WBC World Super Featherweight Champion who earned the title in a spectacular Fight of the Year performance against Takashi Miura on the Cotto-Canelo undercard in November 2015. Vargas followed the victory with yet another Fight of the Year contender against Salido in June 2016 that was ruled a majority draw. Vargas will return to the ring to face Roman after the first and only loss in his career against current WBC World Super Featherweight Champion Miguel “El Alacran” Berchelt in January of this year.
The 32-year-old Smith has challenged for a world title in two competitive occasions and faced some of the best fighters in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions. Smith’s taken on current IBF World Featherweight Champion “Lightning” Lee Selby, former IBF Super Featherweight Champion Jose “Sniper” Pedraza and former WBA World Super Featherweight Champion Jason “El Canito” Sosa. The native of Liverpool, England will look to earn a third title opportunity if successful against Vargas.
Watch a recap of the Daniel Jacobs vs. Luis Arias weigh-in ahead of their middleweight bout on Nov. 11. The fight happens Saturday at 10 PM ET/PT on HBO World Championship Boxing.
Photos: Ed Mulholland
UNIONDALE, N.Y. – It has been 37 years since the last HBO Boxing broadcast from the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, a don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it heavyweight beatdown in which the up and coming Gerry Cooney assaulted the bloated ribcage of faded veteran Ron Lyle and knocked him out of the ring before the first round was over. Anything is possible, of course, but none of the three fights being broadcast on Saturday’s return to the venerable, and recently refurbished, Long Island venue (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT) appear to be even remotely as one-sided.
They do, however — at least if the pre-fight bombast is anything to go by — promise to be lively affairs.
Local junior welterweight Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin acknowledged that his opponent Roberto Ortiz was “a tough Mexican fighter” but insisted that, “I’m going to wear him down and take him out in five rounds.” (Ortiz, frankly, was probably just relieved that Seldin made weight on Friday. The Mexican had previously been scheduled to face Antonio Orozco on September 23, but Orozco was so heavy he didn’t even bother to show up for the weigh-in.)
“This will be a brutal fight. There will be a lot of blood,” said Marius Wach of his heavyweight contest with Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller.
Already a pound-for-pound champion at prefight verbiage, Miller gave the impression that the most brutal element of the whole thing had been staying away from fatty foods during training camp.
“I haven’t eaten a cheeseburger in two months,” he declared, before pounding the podium in mock-frustration. And it showed, sort of: having measured a remarkable 298 ¾ pounds for his previous contest, a win over Gerald Washington, he was a positively svelte 283 pounds on Friday. “But I guarantee you, I’m going to stop Wach. Wach gonna get his behind wached. Seems like a nice guy, though. His face is kinda cute.”
Luis Arias, who challenges Daniel Jacobs in a middleweight bout in the main event, was in a less charitable mood. Apparently, he said, some of his brash comments in the build-up to the fight had rubbed people the wrong way. He had even, he noted, been accused of being disrespectful.
“But how am I being disrespectful?’ he asked rhetorically. “Everything I’ve said, I’ve backed it up with a fact.”
Fact! Shouted an Arias acolyte in the audience in response.
“Did he or did he not get knocked out? He did. Has he or has he not been dropped? He has. Multiple people have put him down.”
Put him down!
“I’m physically ready, I’m mentally ready, and I’m ready to shock the world.”
Jacobs, in contrast, is rarely one to deliver explicit trash talk at any point in his career, and initially actually thanked Arias for “talking enough for the both of us.” But even he felt compelled to deliver a brushback pitch. “Talking back and forth is one thing, but you guys are going to find out that there’s levels to this thing inside the ring,” he said. He turned and looked down at Arias. “I’m going to make you work for everything you get. Know that.”
Fact! shouted his friend and fellow Brooklynite Miller from the podium, with a smile.
For Jacobs, this is the first fight under a new contract with Matchroom USA, the opening bout of a new deal with HBO. “But I don’t feel any pressure,” he said. “This is not my first rodeo.”
Fact! shouted Miller again.
Six men will step into the ring over the course of Saturday’s broadcast, and each of them has something to prove. For Ortiz and Wach, non-native-English-speakers who have inevitably been somewhat overshadowed by the fast-talking showmen around them, Saturday will be an opportunity to prove that they are more than a supporting cast, that they are world-class boxers and that it is upon them, and not their more voluble opponents, that the spotlight should shine.
For Seldin, whose journey to this point has been both the longest – in that he is making his HBO debut at age 31 – and the shortest (the bulk of his professional bouts have been contested at The Paramount in Huntington, a mere 20 or so miles away from Saturday’s venue), this is his chance to take a step forward, to consolidate his place as an exciting presence on a premium network and at the upper echelons of his division.
Miller has already generated a buzz, as much through his charisma and charm as his boxing skills. He has shown he can talk the talk, and then some; now he must demonstrate that he can walk the walk.
Arias was hand-picked for this assignment. Although he leaped at the chance, the fact that Team Jacobs selected him as the ideal showcase opponent clearly rankles. His name is not widely known save for the hardest of hardcore boxing fans. He desperately wants his first instance of widespread exposure to result in his being celebrated for scoring a significant upset, not for being another opponent whose bark proved worse than his bite.
And Jacobs? His new promoter Eddie Hearn referred to him at Thursday’s press conference as “Jacobs 2.0”, but really this is Part Three of the story of Daniel Jacobs, Prizefighter. The first part took him from prospect to contender, until he suffered his first professional loss and then was diagnosed with a cancer that threatened his life, let alone his career. The second episode covered his improbable recovery and return to the ring, all the way up to his brave but ultimately losing effort against Gennady Golovkin last March. And now he needs to prove that he can take that final step, from being the man who isn’t quite good enough to defeat The Man to being the one to beat in an increasingly-stacked middleweight division.
Embracing the spirit of the event, he jawed at Arias as they faced off after Thursday’s press conference, and he did so again at Friday’s weigh in. But, as Hearn noted, soon it will be time for words to yield to actions.
“The great thing about boxing is, once they get in the ring, the talking is over,” he said. “Two guys, in a ring, come together to fight. This is what we love about the sport of boxing. It’s the rawest, purest sport ever. And with all the hype, all the build up, it’s settled on Saturday night.”
Weights from Uniondale
Daniel Jacobs: 159.6 pounds
Luis Arias: 160.0 pounds
Jarrell Miller: 283.4 pounds
Mariusz Wach: 268.0 pounds
Cletus Seldin: 141.2 pounds
Roberto Ortiz: 141.2 pounds
Watch the Daniel Jacobs vs. Luis Arias official weigh-in live at 1 PM ET.
Jacobs vs. Arias happens Saturday, November 11 and will be televised live on HBO at 10 PM ET/PT.