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Russian pro Artur Beterbiev won’t try for Olympic slot

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LOS ANGELES — Unbeaten light heavyweight Artur Beterbiev is the latest professional boxer to decide he won’t try to win a spot in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The two-time Russian Olympian announced his decision through his Canadian promoter, Yvon Michel, on Wednesday.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) recently voted to allow professional fighters to compete for spots in the Rio field, but the Olympic sport’s governing body is finding very few interested pros outside of AIBA’s in-house professional competitions.

The Dagestan-born Beterbiev (10-0, 10 KOs) fought as a light heavyweight in Beijing and as a heavyweight in London, losing to the eventual gold medalist each time. He turned pro in 2013 and moved to Montreal.

The 31-year-old Beterbiev strongly considered taking a third Olympic shot, but ultimately decided against it.

“After analyzing all situations, we came to the conclusion that the current situation was not favorable,” Michel said. “The short-term goal for Artur Beterbiev is to become world champion in the pro ranks. He will be back in the ring in September.”

Beterbiev joins a growing list of pros who have decided they won’t crash the Rio Games for numerous reasons. AIBA already has ushered in major changes to the Olympic sport since London by removing the men’s headgear and introducing a pro-style scoring system, but the fighters in Rio apparently will be almost entirely from the Olympic-style sport.

The Rio tournament’s daily weigh-ins, frequent fights and Olympic-style fighting have combined with the short time frame to keep most pros away. What’s more, most national governing bodies, including USA Boxing, already have a set Olympic team, and they’ve declined to change their qualifying rules for Rio.

Several prominent professionals who have already turned down the short-notice opportunity to attempt to qualify include Manny Pacquiao, Wladimir Klitschko, Sergey Kovalev and two-time gold medalists Vasyl Lomachenko and Zou Shiming.

Other pros have yet to declare their intentions, but they’re nearly out of time: More than 200 of the 250 men’s Olympic berths have already been claimed, and only two qualifying tournaments remain. The AIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament begins Thursday in Azerbaijan, and a final qualifier for AIBA’s own professional boxers is in Venezuela in July.

Britain’s Amir Khan initially expressed interest in fighting for his ancestral Pakistan, but the Athens silver medalist was knocked out by Canelo Alvarez last month, likely making his medical eligibility problematic. Press Association reported Wednesday that Khan has decided against pursuing a Rio spot, which could have led to a two-year suspension by the WBC, the sanctioning body that has outspokenly criticized AIBA’s pro ambitions.

Boxing Canada President Pat Fiacco has said his team will attempt to send pros to the Venezuela qualifying tournament. Other nations without full teams are likely to do the same, but those pros are unlikely to be prominent prizefighters.

The Rio decision was AIBA’s latest attempt to bring boxing onto the level of most Olympic sports, in which pros already compete, while creating a more attractive television product.

While most professional fighters apparently aren’t interested in Rio, Lomachenko and others believe the field for the 2020 Games in Tokyo will be studded with older professional fighters.

AIBA already pays many fighters through its World Series of Boxing and APB fighting series, but most are from nations without an established professional boxing structure.

Canelo Alvarez inks 11-bout deal, $365 million deal with streaming service DAZN

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NEW YORK – Canelo Alvarez has signed an 11-fight deal to have his fights shown on the sports-streaming service DAZN, beginning with his next bout.

Alvarez will move up in weight to challenge WBA super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding on Dec. 15 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Golden Boy Promotions said Wednesday that Alvarez’s deal will be the richest athlete contract in sports history. Terms weren’t announced.

Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) is coming off s victory over Gennady Golovkin in a middleweight showdown in September. That fight, like most of boxing’s biggest, was shown on pay-per-view. It cost $84.95 to be seen in high definition.

Now fans can pay significantly less – $9.99 subscription cost per month in the U.S. – to see his fights on DAZN (pronounced Da-Zone). Under the five-year partnership, Golden Boy also will put on up to 10 fight nights per year that will stream live on DAZN beginning in early 2019.

Alvarez wins narrow decision over Golovkin for middleweight title

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin fought 24 rounds in the space of a year, with little to pick between them.

When the scorecards were totaled Saturday night, though, there was a new middleweight champion of the world — but not by much.

Alvarez won the 160-pound titles held by Golovkin by the narrowest of margins, taking a majority decision to hand the longtime champion his first loss as a pro.

Two judges gave Alvarez the final round, allowing him to pull out the win.

A year after the two fought to a draw, the second fight was almost as close. There were no knockdowns, but the action was spirited throughout as the two battled to the final bell before a frenzied crowd at the T-Mobile Arena.

Two judges favored Alvarez 115-113, while a third had it 114-114. The AP scored it 114-114.

“He’s a great fighter but I’m a great fighter and I showed it tonight,” Alvarez said.

The two fighters switched roles from their first fight, with Triple G trying to counter Alvarez and the Mexican fighter coming forward much of the fight. Both landed well to the head and Golovkin (38-1-1) controlled some rounds with his jab though neither were ever in any trouble of going down.

The fight was a rematch of a draw last September that left neither fighter satisfied. This time it was Golovkin who was upset, and he stormed out of the ring without talking.

“I can’t complain, that’s what we have the judges for,” said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer.

Ringside punch stats showed a close fight, though they favored Golovkin by a small margin. Golovkin was credited with landing 234 of 879 punches while Alvarez (50-1-2) landed 203 of 622.

Almost immediately there was talk of a third fight between two middleweights who now know each other well.

“If the people want us to do it again let’s do it again,” Alvarez said. “For now I’m going to enjoy it with my family.”

Alvarez seemed to take control of the fight in the middle rounds, but Triple G came on strong in the final few rounds to make it as close as it could be. Golovkin landed several big punches to start the 12th round but still lost it on the two scorecards that ended up favoring Alvarez.

Both fighters were cut with Alvarez having one over his left eye and Golovkin cut over the right eye.

It was the first loss in 40 fights for Golovkin, the fearsome puncher from Kazakhstan who held portions of the middleweight title for seven years. And it came at the hands of the red-headed Alvarez, a Mexican star whose positive test for clenbuterol forced the rematch to be postponed from May.

They put on another show before a roaring crowd of 21,965, who crowded into the arena on the Las Vegas Strip with high anticipation in the biggest fight of the year.

Most of the crowd on Mexican Independence Day weekend favored Alvarez, who seemed to control much of the pace of the fight even while taking some sharp shots to the head. Though Golovkin has a reputation as a knockout artist, he never seemed to hurt Alvarez, who credited his fight plan with the win.

“I showed my victory with facts,” Alvarez said. “He was the one who was backing up. It was a clear victory.”

Alvarez was guaranteed $5 million to $4 million for Golovkin, though both fighters were expected to make many millions more from the biggest pay-per-view in boxing so far this year.