As 2017 winds down, the boxing schedule for 2018 is already beginning to fill in for its first quarter and beyond. Earlier this week, there were press conferences in Los Angeles and San Antonio to formally announce Mikey Garcia’s challenge of IBF junior welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets, at the Alamodome, which will be televised by Showtime.
On Thursday afternoon, the network announced that, on February 17, from the Mandalay Bay (where the flying fishes play), in Las Vegas, that welterweights Danny Garcia and Brandon Rios would headline, with a co-feature that will see a rematch between WBC super middleweight beltholder David Benavidez and Ronnie Gavril.
For Garcia, this is his first fight, since losing his WBC welterweight title and unblemished record to Keith Thurman, last March, at the Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, New York, in a bout that was viewed by a sizable audience on CBS. For whatever reason since that outing, he – like many others under the Premier Boxing Champions banner – was in “Bolivian” for the rest of the year.
The last time “Bam Bam” Rios was at the world-class level was back in November of 2015, when he was halted by the normally hard-trying-but-light-hitting Tim Bradley, in nine rounds, in front of a rather sparse crowd at Las Vegas’ Thomas & Mack Center. It was such a desultory outing that Rios announced his retirement from the sport in the aftermath of this performance. For a guy like Rios – who, if anything, was tough and durable – once his punch resistance fades, he may not have much else to fall back on.
But not so surprisingly, his retirement was really just an extended hiatus from the game, as he negotiated his release from Top Rank. After taking all of 2016 off, he returned the ring, last June, and stopped veteran trialhorse Aaron Herrera in seven.
Garcia-Rios would’ve been a really anticipated match-up in 2013, when both were undefeated junior welterweights. It’s not clear just what we have here in the beginning of 2018.
There’s been a lot of chatter on social media regarding a possible match-up between WBO junior lightweight titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko and Gervonta Davis (who’s been taking a beating on Twitter, the past few days, after he and his team didn’t seem to really entertain such a thought).
Really, all this began as Davis’ promoter Floyd Mayweather Jr. stated that Lomachenko really beat a smaller guy in Guillermo Rigondeaux and doesn’t deserve all the plaudits he has received.
To this, Egis Klimas, who manages Lomachenko, told UCNLive.com, “Floyd has now become a critic and he was criticized so much in his career. Many people criticized him when he was pound-for-pound. And my thing is, I always said to everybody and I said to media, ‘Look at Floyd; he fought every single champion, at the time he was fighting, no matter how he looked but he managed somehow to be the greatest. Yes, he was but now, what he’s doing with his fighters, I don’t know if that’s a good thing to do or a bad thing to do.
“But it’s not the way we run business.”
It’s clear this brain trust wants “Tank” to retreat and steer clear of Lomachenko, for the time being.
“And it’s not Lomachenko’s fault that people like Gervonta Davis or Floyd Mayweather are not letting him fight a good name. Gervonta’s a good fighter – that’s why he’s being called,” explained Klimas.
Davis, who lost his IBF junior lightweight title on the scales, last summer, is now being lined up to face Billy Dib in an IBF eliminator. But Klimas says it doesn’t matter all that much to them if Davis is currently beltless.
“No, absolutely not,” he answered. “He’s a good name; he’s a good fighter. It doesn’t really matter. We’ll make a good fight but, if he’s protected, we’re not going to chase him. There’s a bunch of other guys to fight with.”
And soon, if nobody bites at 130, Lomachenko will move up to lightweight. Klimas states, “We’re not going to have a choice.”
Guys such as WBA champion Jorge Linares are at the top of the 135-pound division.
“That would be a great fight – great fight,” said Klimas, emphatically. “Linares, (WBC titlist Mikey)Garcia, we’re talking about real good fighters. Are they gonna be ‘No mas’? We don’t know. We need to check it.”
Here’s the final edition of “The Next Round” for 2017. Gabe Montoya and I welcome “Mr. KO Tickets” Jim Boone once again.
Looks like the StubHub Center will host a card on March 10, that will feature WBO featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez and I’m told that rising junior welterweight hopeful Alex Saucedo will also be on this card…Other fights being discussed for that show are Andy Vences vs. Erick De Leon and Arnold Barboza vs. Mike Reed…When asked if Oleksandr Gvozdyk was all-in for facing the side-stepper Eleider Alvarez, Klimas answered with a chuckle, “Yeah, I’m in, I’m in for everything.” No word yet on if Alvarez has signed the dotted line for the WBC light heavyweight title eliminator…Been told that April 28 is the next Matchroom Boxing/Danny Jacobs date on HBO…On January 11, Top Rank will be doing a card from the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino, featuring the rematch between Danny Valdivia and Vladimir Hernandez and other prospects from the Central Valley…”A Football Life” on Jerry Jones was, as usual, a high-class production. His best move was hiring the great Jimmy Johnson and his worst was jettisoning him early…Great early signing period for the Miami Hurricanes, really added some speed and much-needed big bodies up front…OK, it finally feels like winter out here in Southern California. Afternoon highs have dipped into the mid-’60s…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.