Saunders to Defend Middleweight Belt Against Lemieux Dec. 16 on HBO

Photo: Will Hart

Christmas will come early for boxing fans this year as WBO World Middleweight Champion Billy Joe Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs) will put his belt on the line on Saturday, December 16 against former IBF World Middleweight Champion David Lemieux (38-3, 33 KOs) at a soon-to-be-announced venue in Montreal, Canada. The fight will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 9:40 PM ET/PT.

Saunders, 28, from the United Kingdom, is undefeated and coming off back-to-back defenses of the WBO belt he won against “Irish” Andy Lee in late 2015. Over a standout career, Saunders has defeated the likes of former WBA Interim World Middleweight Champion Chris Eubank, Jr., then-undefeated Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan and longtime contender Willie “The Mongoose” Monroe Jr. 

“Firstly I’d like to thank Golden Boy Promotions for putting the show on,” said Saunders. “Lemieux looks good against ‘B level’ fighters, but he is now getting in the ring with someone who is far more superior and slick than anyone he has ever been in with. I don’t just want the dog meat that Golovkin has left behind, I want the dog himself and when I come through this fight I will have him. He is a mandatory and we’ve agreed a deal to go over to foreign soil and get it on. I have a lot of friends in Canada, and I’ll be bringing a lot of supporters over to Canada from the UK. It has all the makings of a good fight. I’m expecting a good, clean, fair decision. Once I beat Lemieux I’ll be moving onto bigger fish; the winner of the rematch between Canelo and Golovkin. I’m looking forward to a great fight.”

Lemieux, 28, and from Montreal, is a thunderous puncher with tremendous power in both hands, who captured the IBF World Middleweight championship against Hassan N’Dam in 2015, knocking the then-world titleholder down four times en route to a unanimous decision victory. This year alone, Lemieux blasted out title contender Curtis “Cerebral Assassin” Stevens in a third-round knockout-of-the-year contender before earning a unanimous decision win against Marcos “Dorado” Reyes. 

“It's time to be world champion again,” Lemieux said. “Saunders is about to get destroyed. I'm going to be extremely ready for this fight and I'm going to inflict a lot of pain on Saunders. His 0 must go.'”

“Saunders vs. Lemieux is exactly the right way to end a year that has been tremendous for boxing,” said Golden Boy Promotions CEO and Chairman Oscar De La Hoya. “Will Saunders be able to use his speed and craftiness to outbox Lemieux, or will David land a massive shot to end it in short order? We’ll find out December 16.”

“This has ‘great fight’ written all over it,” said Camille Estephan, President of Eye of the Tiger Management. “I know David is extremely motivated and viscerally dislikes Saunders. When he’s in that state, watch out. This promises to be a war. We are thrilled to have the opportunity for David to fight for the WBO title at home and keep it here. “

‘We’re delighted to be working again with Golden Boy Promotions, who we continue to enjoy a fantastic relationship with,” said Frank Warren. “Billy Joe Saunders is going into the lions’ den as he believes he has the beating of David Lemieux. It’s a great opportunity for Billy Joe to defend his WBO World Title against a big-name opponent and headline his first bill on HBO at American primetime, whilst being broadcast back to the UK live on BT Sport and BoxNation. He is looking forward to making a statement to the American audience to ensure he secures a fight with the winner of the Canelo vs. Golovkin rematch, for the Undisputed Middleweight World Championship. Billy Joe is out to prove he is the best Middleweight in the world. He has been continually avoided and if it means he has to go to Canada to ensure he can no longer be overlooked, then that is what he is prepared to do!’

“The middleweight division is stacked with the likes of Canelo, Gennady Golovkin, and Daniel Jacobs, and on December 16, fans will see champion BJ Saunders travel across the Atlantic to fight one of the divisions biggest punchers in David Lemieux on his home turf in Montreal,” said Peter Nelson, Executive Vice President, HBO Sports. 

Saunders vs. Lemieux, a 12-round fight for the Saunders’ WBO World Middleweight Championship, is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and Eye of the Tiger Management in association with Frank Warren Promotions. The event will take place December 16, in Montreal, Canada and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing.

PREVIEW: Corrales-Machado Southpaw Clash Headlines Tripleheader

By Eric Raskin

There’s a little something for everyone in the 130-pound division. It boasts quite possibly the best pound-for-pound pugilist in the sport right now, Vasyl Lomachenko. There are action fighters galore, such as Orlando Salido, Francisco Vargas, and Miguel Berchelt. There are undefeated up-and-comers like Gervonta Davis and many-times-defeated veterans like Robinson Castellanos. And there might soon be big-name featherweights on the rise, like Leo Santa Cruz, Gary Russell Jr., Oscar Valdez, and Carl Frampton.

With all of that going on, it’s easy for a couple of underexposed southpaws like Panama’s Jezreel Corrales and Puerto Rico’s Alberto Machado to get lost in the shuffle. And that’s part of the reason they’re facing each other on Saturday night at Turning Stone Casino on in the headline bout of an HBO Boxing After Dark card: so that one of them can step out of the shadows and into the mix for major fights atop the division.

The 26-year-old Corrales is fighting to prove he’s better than he showed in his HBO and American debut in July, when he tasted the canvas twice en route to an inconclusive 10-round technical decision win over Castellanos. Corrales (22-1 with 8 KOs) was at the forefront of the “best fighter you’ve never seen” conversation coming off of two straight wins over Takashi Uchiyama in Japan, but Castellanos brought into question whether “El Invisible” was even the best fighter in the ring that night. Two knockdowns in the fourth round — one more of push, but the second a clean decking when the Panamanian leaned into a right uppercut — put Corrales in a hole. He showed his mettle by dropping Castellanos with a left hand in round six, then a head clash in the 10th brought about a premature ending and the reading of scorecards of 94-94, 94-93, and 96-92, the latter two both for the prefight favorite. It was a victory, yes. But it was not the serve-notice arrival that Corrales had envisioned.

While Corrales fights for his reputation, Machado is fighting for an entire island nation. “I know that it won’t be an easy fight, but I am more motivated than ever to take this title to my family and to Puerto Rico, who really needs it during this time of grief,” the 27-year-old Machado says. “This fight is for my son, my family, and for Puerto Rico. I know that a victory would bring happiness to Puerto Rico after the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria.”

At 18-0 with 15 KOs, Machado has never fought outside of Puerto Rico and is far less proven than Corrales. The man known as “El Explosivo” was moved slowly for his first 16 fights, before stepping up a bit and blowing out Juan Jose Martinez in one round in April 2017, then winning a comprehensive decision over Carlos Morales in August. He looked good in those minor advances in competition, but it’s safe to say he’s never seen anything like Corrales.

Both men fight left-handed, but that’s about where the similarities end. Corrales is highly unconventional — for better and for worse. He can be sloppy, lose concentration, take rounds off. But when he’s on his game, he’s an expert counterpuncher who will attack from unexpected angles. The 5’10” Machado, who stands four inches taller than Corrales, is more of a traditional, stand-up boxer-puncher, packing most of his power in his left hand. Machado also has some serious power standing behind him: Miguel Cotto is his promoter, and he trains at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club, where a combination of Roach, Marvin Somodio, and Gavin McMillan are working to improve his balance and ability to cut off the ring. Though Machado is unproven, all the ingredients are there for another stiff test for Corrales in his second HBO fight.

“I know that Alberto Machado is a strong fighter,” Corrales says, “but I too am strong and intelligent. I know that my style of fighting will give him a lot of problems.”

This battle of southpaws will come down to which one is better equipped to solve problems. Then that man can move on to a new set of problems against his fellow elite 130-pounders.

***

Speaking of compelling style matchups and rising twentysomething fighters looking to make a leap, on the undercard at Turning Stone, southpaw 154-pound belt holder Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade is jumping up to the middleweight division to take on the ridiculously tall Alantez “SlyAza” Fox. (Say it loud if you don’t get the nickname.) Andrade (24-0, 16 KOs) was widely considered the best prospect from a 2008 U.S. Olympic team that included Deontay Wilder, Gary Russell Jr., and Sadam Ali, but it’s been a slow climb to true contendership. A close 2013 win over Vanes Martirosyan on HBO remains Andrade’s most significant victory; now, at 29, the Rhode Island lefty is ready to start fulfilling his promise.

His opponent on Saturday won’t make it easy, however. The 6’1” Andrade is used to being the taller man in the ring, but he’ll be looking up considerably at the 6’4” Fox, who is just 25 years old and has put together a record of 23-0-1 with 11 KOs against very limited opposition. If you want to know whether Fox uses his height in the ring, here’s a stat that can easily answer that question: In one fight in 2015, he threw 436 jabs in eight rounds. That’s 54.5 jabs per round. Andrade had better show up with a plan to close the distance or counter the stick.

“The Olympics were [nine] years ago,” the confident Fox declares. “Andrade is not the same fighter today. I don’t see anything that he will do that can put a loss on my record. I am going to put on a boxing exhibition.”

***

The HBO tripleheader will also include one fight from a separate location, the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where unbeaten local Ryan Burnett puts his bantamweight alphabet belt and perfect record of 17-0 with 9 KOs on the line against a fellow belt holder, 33-year-old Kazakh veteran Zhanat Zhakiyanov, whose record of 27-1 with 18 KOs includes an eye-opening win in February that saw him rise from two first-round knockdowns to outpoint former U.S. Olympian Rau’shee Warren. The 25-year-old Burnett may be the hometown hero, but Zhakiyanov will be accompanied to the ring by a UK hero of his own: his trainer, Ricky Hatton.

“This is a massive fight for the city — the first ever unification fight in Northern Ireland — and it’s an honor to be the man stepping through the ropes to make history,” Burnett says. “I know Zhanat is a tough challenge for me, but I believe that I have the momentum behind me from beating [Lee] Haskins and I won’t be denied on October 21. I would love to be in a huge fight in America one day, and I intend to impress the American fans who will love the atmosphere in the SSE Arena.”

HBO to Air "My Fight: Daniel Jacobs" Leading Up to Middleweight Showdown

Photo: HBO Sports

Photo: HBO Sports

HBO Sports, widely acclaimed for its innovative boxing programming, takes an in-depth look at Daniel Jacobs, one of the sport’s true superstars in and out of the ring, as he makes his return in November in the talent-rich 160 pound division against undefeated middleweight Luis Arias, when My Fight: Daniel Jacobs debuts Saturday, November 4 at 11 p.m. ET/PT following the prime time replay of the HBO Boxing After Dark telecast from Monte Carlo.

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.

Former middleweight champ Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs (32-2, 29 KOs), returns to action following his superb performance against fearsome pound-for-pound king Gennady Golovkin this past March in New York where “GGG” edged the Brooklyn native out on points. Jacobs will be looking for an explosive performance against the unbeaten American Arias as he looks to get back into title contention and a force to be reckoned with in the stacked middleweight division.

My Fight cameras travel with Jacobs in his proud hometown neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY to chronicle the long journey it took to reach the elite level of professional boxing. The special is narrated by Liev Schreiber.

On Saturday, Nov. 11, Jacobs and Arias meet at NYCB Live, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York,  in a 12-round showdown that will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing as part of a tripleheader event beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

For more information, visit hbo.com/boxing; become a fan on Facebook at facebook.com/HBOBoxing; and follow on Twitter and Instagram at @HBOBoxing. Follow the conversation using #JacobsArias.

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PODCAST: Corrales vs. Machado Tripleheader Preview

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney preview the October 21 split-site tripleheader, assessing what to expect in Jezreel Corrales vs. Alberto Machado, Demetrius Andrade vs. Alantez Fox, and Ryan Burnett vs. Zhanat Zhakiyanov.

Cletus Seldin to Battle Roberto Ortiz on Nov. 11 Jacobs-Arias Undercard in NY

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Fists will fly on November 11 when super lightweight knockout artists Cletus “Hebrew Hammer” Seldin (20-0, 16 KOs) and Roberto “Massa” Ortiz (35-1-2, 26 KOs) square off in a 10-round bout from Long Island’s NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

The Seldin vs. Ortiz battle will serve as the opening bout of an action-packed HBO card featuring Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs in the main event taking on Luis Arias in a 12-round middleweight showdown and rising heavyweight Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller squaring off with Mariusz Wach for 12 rounds in the co-main.

Fighting out of Brooklyn, NY, Seldin is a former WBC International Silver Super Lightweight Champion who has plowed through the competition with devastating power resulting in 78 percent of his fights ending by knockout.

"I'm absolutely ecstatic to fight for the first time on HBO and represent Star Boxing at the Coliseum," Seldin said "I see this as the second start to my career, this is a great opportunity and now that I have it there's no turning back, I'm here to stay -- bigger fights, bigger venues and on HBO. I just fought recently but as soon as they called about this fight I jumped at it. I’ll be more than ready for Roberto Ortiz on November 11.”

Ortiz, from Torrean, Mexico, has torn through 35 opponents including 10 defenses of the WBC Silver Super Lightweight Championship over three years. The sole blemish on his record came against former Interim WBC World Super Lightweight Champion Lucas La Maquina” Matthysse.

“We are going to take advantage of every opportunity, and we are thankful to GBP, Star Boxing, and HBO who have supported us,” Ortiz said. “I am confident I will be able to prove that I am someone to mess with in this sport. We know we are going up against an undefeated fighter, who is powerful. Our mental game will have to be at 100%, and we will have to have the perfect strategy to be able to take him down and leave with the victory. I am hopeful that our styles will give a great fight, and give a performance that everyone can appreciate come fight night.”

“’Massa’ Ortiz has built a real fan base throughout Mexico because of his action-packed style and power in both hands, and we’re excited to showcase him to a global audience on HBO,” said Golden Boy Promotions CEO and Chairman Oscar De La Hoya.

"Cletus has thrilled New York fight fans at The Paramount in Long Island for the last five years,” Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing said. “He has sensational knockout power and Roberto Ortiz is also a real banger who comes to fight.  We're grateful to Peter Nelson and HBO for showcasing great matchups and future stars of the sport. We look forward to another exhilarating performance from Cletus."

Seldin vs. Ortiz is presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Star Boxing. Jacobs vs. Arias and Miller vs. Wach are presented by Matchroom Boxing USA, in association with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, Salita Promotions and Roc Nation Sports. The event takes place Saturday, November 11 at NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT. BROOKLYN BOXING on Long Island is an extension of BSE’s BROOKLYN BOXING™ brand. 

PODCAST: Episode 214 - Jacobs-Arias Press Conference and News Roundup

HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney dissect several recent news items, including what went down at the Daniel Jacobs-Luis Arias press conference, which names on the International Boxing Hall of Fame ballot are deserving of induction, Miguel Cotto's selection of Sadam Ali as a farewell opponent, and Jim Lampley remaining the voice of HBO boxing for the foreseeable future.

Miguel Cotto to Finish Storied Career vs. Sadam Ali Dec. 2 at Madison Square Garden

Photo: Ed Mulholland

Photo: Ed Mulholland

December 2 will mark the end of an era in boxing as four-division and six-time world champion Miguel Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) enters the ring for the final time to defend his WBO World Junior Middleweight Title in a 12-round battle against Sadam "World Kid" Ali (25-1, 14 KOs).

The action will take place at the World's Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden, and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Cotto will make his 24th appearance on the network and his 10th showcase at MSG.

Cotto, a surefire first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, has held world titles in the super lightweight, welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight divisions. The native of Caguas, Puerto Rico has faced a who's who of elite world champions including Demarcus "Chop Chop" Corley, Paulie "Magic Man" Malignaggi, Zab "Super" Judah, Sugar Shane Mosley, Antonio "El Tornado de Tijuana" Margarito, Ricardo "El Matador" Mayorga, Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez and current Lineal and Ring Magazine Middleweight Champion Canelo Alvarez.

In his last outing, Cotto defeated the tough and determined Yoshihiro "Maestrito" Kamegai to win the WBO World Junior Middleweight Title, which he will look to defend successfully before a packed crowd of his loyal New York supporters as he closes the book on his legendary career.

"I'm very excited to be back in the ring for my final fight at The Garden. I've worked really hard my entire career to be at this level," Cotto said. "I am fully concentrated on getting together with Freddie Roach so we can work hard and have a great victory on December 2."

Ali, a 2008 U.S. Olympian fighting out of Brooklyn who has held multiple regional titles, will get his second shot at a world championship after earning victories over top welterweight contenders including Francisco "Chia" Santana, Luis Carlos "El Potro" Abregu and most recently former interim WBA World Super Lightweight Champion Johan "El Terrible" Perez.

"I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to fight a legend in Madison Square Garden in front of all my fans and on HBO," said Ali. "My time is now. God willing, I will leave the Garden with the championship belt."

"What can you say about Miguel Cotto that hasn't already been said during his two decades in boxing?," said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. "He is a first-ballot hall of famer; a true legend in Puerto Rico, New York and beyond; and a true credit to the sport of boxing. Just like he [Cotto] was given a shot for his world championship, he is now doing the same for Sadam Ali. Who will come out on top? Tune in December 2 to find out."

"It's amazing having Miguel Cotto back at The Garden for one last time to finish a brilliant career," said Hector Soto, Vice President of Cotto Promotions. "Memorable fights and a legacy were built in that building. December 2 will be remarkable for Miguel Cotto."

Cotto vs. Ali, a 12-round fight for the Cotto's WBO World Junior Middleweight Championship, is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and Miguel Cotto Promotions and sponsored by Tecate, "THE OFFICIAL BEER OF BOXING," Hennessy "Never Stop. Never Settle, and Casa Mexico Tequila. The event will take place Saturday, December 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

HBO Sports Extends Agreement with Jim Lampley

NEW YORK, Oct. 9, 2017 – HBO Sports has entered into a new multi-year agreement with acclaimed broadcaster Jim Lampley, who serves as the primary voice for its HBO Boxing franchise. Lampley will continue to serve on multiple HBO Boxing platforms, including the host and blow-by-blow voice for World Championship Boxing, HBO Boxing After Dark and HBO Pay-Per-View.  He also will continue to host the boxing studio program The Fight Game With Jim Lampley.  The agreement was announced today by Peter Nelson, executive vice president, HBO Sports.

“For nearly three decades, Jim has been the most prominent television voice in boxing,” said Nelson. “His work is universally recognized as the standard in the sport and we are thrilled to know he will continue in this high visibility role for years to come. Jim’s high journalistic standards, historical knowledge of the sport and enthusiasm for sharing the backstories of the fighters who enter the ring enriches the broadcast experience for the HBO audience.”

A four-time Sports Emmy® Award winner, Lampley was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY on June 14, 2015.

Starting with his first HBO presentation, the World Championship Boxing fight between Mike Tyson and Tony Tubbs from Tokyo on March 20, 1988, Lampley has been at the helm for many of the most dramatic moments in HBO Boxing history.

"I'm very lucky to have spent nearly three decades working in HBO's unique culture, and grateful for the chance to keep doing it,” said Lampley.  “It's always been my natural home."

Lampley returns to HBO on Saturday, Oct. 21 when he calls the HBO Boxing After Dark tripleheader from Verona, NY at 10:05 PM ET/PT.  The next edition of The Fight Game With Jim Lampley premieres Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 11:00 PM ET/PT.