Last week in boxing: Aug. 9, 2016
* The boxing world sends its thoughts and prayers to longtime Top Rank Promotions publicist Lee Samuels and his wife Mary, on the sudden passing of their son Eddie on Saturday. Rest in peace, Eddie Samuels.
* Former unified lightweight world champion Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz scored an impressive TKO 8 over Cesar Vazquez on Saturday night in Tucson, Arizona. Diaz, always a volume puncher, was all over Vasquez for the whole fight before referee Tony Zaino called a halt to the contest in round eight at 2:09. Diaz is chasing a fifth world title.
* Former super middleweight champion Andre “SOG” Ward scored a 12th round unanimous decision over Alexander Brand on Saturday night in Oakland, California. The much bigger Ward pressed the action and outclassed the game, 39-year-old Brand who deserves credit for lasting the distance. With the win, Ward set up an HBO Pay-Per-View showdown within IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight world champion Sergey Kovalev, who was at ringside scouting Ward. Kovalev is obviously a big step up from Brand.
* After the Ward/Brand bout, they said it…
– “I think he is ready. I am ready too. (My) fight against (Isaac) Chilemba was similar to how it is going to be against Andre Ward. He is a really great champion and he proved this today. I just want to say let’s do it November 19 on HBO.” – Sergey Kovalev
– “I am excited, man. I am looking forward to it. I want to be the light heavyweight champion of the world. I got past this step. (Kovalev) got past his step. We will see you in November. I have been doing this for 22 years and if I am not ready to fight the best now, then I will never be ready. I have been preparing for these moments since I been a kid. You got to respect Sergey for the way he has gotten to where he has gotten. He didn’t have any soft touches. He wasn’t protected. He wasn’t really pushed by the media. He is a guy who should get a lot more credit than he has. The winner of this fight could possibly be pound-for-pound number one.” – Andre Ward
* Ward had remained a whopping 85-to-1 favorite all week to defeat Brand Saturday night.
* Unbeaten super middleweight David “El Bandera Roja” Benavidez scored a 10th round TKO over Denis “Momma’s Boy” Douglin on Friday night in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
* Tweeted Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum this week: “Nothing is official regarding a Manny Pacquiao vs. Jessie Vargas fight.” The LA Times quoted Pacquiao manager Michael Koncz as saying that “the essence” of Arum’s meeting with Pacquiao in the Philippines is deciding whether the Nov. 5 fight would be in Las Vegas or Dubai.
* NABF heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. of Mexico returns on Sept. 10 in a 10-round clash against Franklin Lawrence of Indianapolis in Lemoore, California. Also on the card, lightweight Ray Beltran of Mexico, currently training at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles, faces the Dominican Republic’s Tomas Mendez.
* WBA “regular” middleweight champion Daniel “The Miracle Man” Jacobs will defend his title, in a rematch, against former 154-pound champion Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora on Sept. 9 in Reading, Pennsylvania.