Denis Lebedev Retires at 39 after Goulamirian Fight Falls Through
Denis Lebedev was supposed to fight Frenchman Arsen Goulamirian, but this week that fight fell through so the 39-year-old opted to call it a career instead. Lebedev beat both Roy Jones Jr. and James Toney back to back, but those fights happened in 2011 long after either man should have been competing in the ring. Still, the Russian fighter known for donning a Paratrooper uniform on his way to the ring (and to a lesser degree the absurd swelling he suffered in his fight with Guillermo Jones) simultaneously held the WBA and IBF Cruiserweight titles in 2016 and will retire with a career record of 32-2 (losses to Marco Huck and Murat Gassiev).
Canelo Wins Best Boxer Espy, Next Opponent Still Unclear
This week, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez beat Vasiliy Lomachenko, Terence Crawford, and Oleksandr Usyk for the “Best Boxer” Espy, after this year ESPN opted to split their “Best Fighter” award into “Best Boxer” and “Best MMA Fighter.”
As for who is next for the Mexican superstar; the answer remains unclear. Supposedly, Golden Boy upped their offer to Sergey Kovalev to around six million, but Kovalev wants $10-12 million, which is about what Daniel Jacobs got for his fight with Canelo. Eddie Hearn is trying to help by negotiating a multi-fight Dazn deal to sweeten the deal for Kovalev, but rumors are the fight is in trouble.
There’s another, far less interesting opponent that has also entered the picture. Sergiy Derevyanchenko, best known for losing to his longtime training partner Daniel Jacobs, is the mandatory challenger to Alvarez’s IBF title. If Canelo opts not to fight him (which seems likely), rumors are that he and GGG will fight for the vacant belt.
Speculation Heats up That Crawford Will Fight “Mean Machine”
For a couple of years, Bob Arum has been trying to build up Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas into an opponent for Terence Crawford that fans will accept. Rumors are, Arum has decided the time for Mean Machine-Crawford is now, or at least Oct. 18 in Omaha, Nebraska.
In a stacked welterweight division, this fight is largely a waste of time. Kavaliauskas is a two-time Olympian with a record of 21-0 with 17 knockouts, but in his last fight against journeyman southpaw Ray Robinson, he squeaked out a majority draw, losing 97-93 on the third scorecard. If this fight happens, it’s not because Bob Arum has built him into a worthy opponent, it’s because Arum doesn’t want him to lose before he can make the fight.
Navarrete to Face Fellow Mexican Fransisco de Vaca Aug. 17 on ESPN
After he beat Isaac Dogboe twice, it appears ESPN is now all in on promoting WBO World Super Bantamweight champion Emmanuel Navarrete. This week, it was announced he will face unbeaten young fighter Mexican Fransisco de Vaca, on Aug 17 on the network. De Vaca is 24 years old, and sports a 20-0 record, fighting subpar competition almost exclusively in Phoenix Arizona. Navarrete has stopped 23 of 28 opponents, while de Vaca has only six wins via stoppage, so the fight should be a classic boxer vs. puncher matchup between two young Mexicans.
Ruiz-Joshua Runs into Bump in the Road Over Fight Location
Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua are going to fight their rematch; the question is where. This week, Andy Ruiz said there’s no way he’s fighting Joshua in The UK, and that he, as the champion, can absolutely make that decision. Interestingly, Mike Coppinger of The Athletic says no, he absolutely can’t. He claims the contract made it very clear that the rematch clause included Joshua’s team getting to decide the location, and that there’s basically nothing Ruiz can do about it. So, what happens from here is anybody’s guess. Either way, it would be a bit odd for Ruiz to have to travel to the UK to defend his own title against a British fan favorite, but Joshua is the bigger star so it would make some sense.
Mayweather Gets Dropped… On the Basketball Court
Floyd Mayweather had a busy week. In no particular order, he rejected the idea of a Conor McGregor rematch by calling him “a circus clown,” was allowed to seek compensation against his ex-girlfriend for taping conversations between the two without his knowledge, and was thoroughly embarrassed by streetball legend “Bone Collector.”
It was the last one that got the most play on social media. Mayweather, a man who is known for his balance, was sent to the floor by a vicious crossover that had the crowd erupting as his body slapped the ground. Mayweather laughed it off, and while it wasn’t quite Joe Frazier nearly drowning on “Superstars,” it was still not a good look for “Money May.”
Paraguayan Boxer Wins Title in Prison
In a rather wacky story, Paraguayan boxer Richard Moray knocked out his Brazilian opponent Carlos "Caolho" Santos de Jesus, earning the South American Super Welterweight title this week. Why is this notable? Because Moray has been in prison since 2012, and prison is where the fight took place. If that sounds crazy, it’s really not. See, far bigger fights have taken place inside of prisons, and no, I’m not talking about the Snipes-Rhames classic, “Undisputed.”
In 1978, HBO aired a match between James Scott and Eddie Gregory (later Eddie Mustafa Muhammed) live from the Rahway State Prison in New Jersey, where Scott was serving a significant amount of time. Scott won, and became the WBA’s No. 1 contender. However, the WBA took him out of their rankings when they realized having a possible champion who can only fight in jail was not in their best financial interest.
With GGG-Canelo 3 supposedly not happening over the location of the fight, and now Ruiz-Joshua in jeopardy for the same reason, the story was a nice reminder that when guys really want to fight the best, there are very few obstacles (including guards, bars and fences) to keep them from happening.