‘Canelo’ Alvarez dominates Chavez Jr., Golovkin next up

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LAS VEGAS — Saul “Canelo” Alvarez dominated a grudge match against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on Saturday night, winning a unanimous decision in a fight that left no doubt who is the top active Mexican boxer.

Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) used a punishing jab to take control early in the 12-round matchup of former middleweight champions. The bigger Chavez (50-3-1, 32 KOs) started bleeding from the nose in the third round. His left eye swelled in the sixth and started to close a round later.

Alvarez, a 4-1 favorite, was much quicker against the largest fighter he’s faced and won every round on all three judges’ cards.

After the beating, Alvarez immediately announced he will next face middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin in September in a long-awaited bout. Golovkin then quickly joined Alvarez in the ring.

The 31-year-old Chavez, son of iconic Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., was trying to revitalize a career derailed by positive drug tests, weight issues and lax training. But he proved no match in the bout fought at a catchweight of 164 1/2 pounds.

Chavez avoided a $1 million-per-pound penalty when he weighed in at 164 pounds Friday, a half-pound below the catchweight and the lightest he’s been since losing his middleweight title to Sergio Martinez in 2012.

The 26-year-old Alvarez also weighed in at 164, nine pounds heavier than he’s ever fought. Alvarez, whose lone loss was to Floyd Mayweather Jr., got against the ropes several times and absorbed combinations from Chavez before quickly recovering with uppercuts.

Despite the 4-inch height advantage and an obvious weight edge after he rehydrated, Chavez was overmatched in his first fight under iconic trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain.

A confident Canelo didn’t bother to sit in his order after the seventh round, in a fight that wasn’t nearly as competitive as hoped.

A week after Anthony Joshua stopped Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round of a thrilling heavyweight bout in front of 90,000 fans at London’s Wembley Stadium, the sport staged another big fight. Only this time there was a distinct Latino flavor.

Mexican bands played outside T-Mobile Arena more than three years before the main undercard began. A majority of the 20,510 fans inside the sold-out building wore either red (Canelo) or green (Chavez) headbands as they celebrated the Cinco de Mayo weekend by chanting “Mexico, Mexico.”

There was tension between the two fighters along with political overtones as a commercial for the fight depicted both boxers bursting through President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

The red-bearded Alvarez is normally mild-mannered, but he had criticized Chavez for his work ethic. Chavez then needled him for refusing to fight the bigger Golovkin.

Alvarez was guaranteed $5 million and Chavez $3 million.

In the co-main event, former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux of Montreal took a unanimous decision over stubborn Mexican Marco Reyes in a catchweight bout at 163 pounds.

A left by Lemieux (38-3) opened a large gash above Reyes’ right eye in the second round. Lemieux later twice knocked out Reyes’ mouthpiece with punches. But Reyes (35-5) stayed upright for 10 rounds as blood streamed down his face and onto his chest.

Lemieux hopes to get a shot at Alvarez.

“I could have done better but I hurt my hand after round two,” Lemieux said.

Other matches on the undercard included Lucas Matthysse, a former junior welterweight champ, ending a 20-month layoff by dropping Emmanuel Taylor (20-5) of Maryland twice before the referee stopped it in the fifth round. The Argentine (38-4) was making his welterweight debut.

Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. (24-0) out-pointed fellow Californian Manuel “Tino” Avila (22-1) in a one-sided 10-round featherweight bout.

For much of the undercard, fans traded “Canelo” and “Chavez” chants on a festive night that brought out several stars, including Evander Holyfield.

After fighting for Ukraine, Lomachenko fights again in ring

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NEW YORK – When Ukraine was invaded, the only fight Vasiliy Lomachenko would consider was the one for his home.

Boxing plans were put on hold, even though they appeared set to include a title match. Lomachenko calls being undisputed champion his dream, but his country’s war with Russia is real life.

“I couldn’t understand anything about what’s happening militarily,” Lomachenko said through an interpreter, “but inside you, you have a feeling of what you need to do.”

Now he’s resuming his career, starting Saturday night in the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden against unbeaten Jamaine Ortiz in a bout that will stream on ESPN+.

Win, and Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KOs) could move on to another chance to fight for the lightweight titles he once owned. But either way, first he’s headed back to Ukraine, which he believes is secure enough now to allow his family to return home this week after staying with him in California while he trained.

Nobody was sure that would be the case when Russia launched the invasion in February. Lomachenko was in Greece at the time, with an expected fight against then-lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr. being planned for later in the year.

He went back to Ukraine and joined a territorial defense battalion, telling his advisers he would be unavailable to take that fight.

“When this was happening, when this started, nobody really knew anything about anything,” Lomachenko said. “And when you really have no understanding about what’s going on, every normal person, every normal citizen would go and defend his country and that’s what the majority of men do in our country.”

For Lomachenko, that meant being part of a team that enforced a 10 p.m. curfew, patrolling the streets to make sure there were no cars in sight. After about a month of that, he was trained to take part in several other duties.

“No military operations, but certain tasks,” Lomachenko said. “For example, a suburban area in the outskirts of the city that we needed to go out and do some reconnaissance, make sure that no alien people, no one unknown is basically located in that area.”

Lomachenko is one of Ukraine’s greatest athletes, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who compiled a 396-1 record as an amateur. After turning pro, he won a title in his third fight and was a champion in three weight classes after his 12th.

He eventually owned three lightweight belts before losing them to Teofimo Lopez in October 2020. Two straight wins following shoulder surgery had him on the path back toward a title shot before the war.

Lomachenko was given breaks during his service to train, so he doesn’t believe his time away will affect the rhythm and footwork that are among boxing’s best. Ortiz (16-0-1, 8 KOs) doesn’t expect to see slippage from the fighter the Worcester, Massachusetts product has sparred against.

“I think the opponent in front of you brings out the type of fighter you are,” Ortiz said, “and I think Lomachenko is going to bring out the best Jamaine Ortiz, the fighter that everybody around me in the gym and in New England and where I come from knows.”

Lomachenko likely would have been favored to beat Kambosos, who had won the titles from Lopez. With Lomachenko unavailable, the Australian instead fought Devin Haney and dropped them in a lopsided decision, then lost the rematch two weeks ago by another wide margin.

Lomachenko doesn’t fret about the opportunity that was lost, just as he doesn’t wonder what if about the fight with Lopez. That was originally expected to take place in the spring of 2020, perhaps in what would have been a packed Madison Square Garden, where Lomachenko is 5-0. Instead, it was pushed back months because of the coronavirus and held in a mostly empty setting in Las Vegas after a nearly 14-month layoff for Lomachenko. Maybe things would have been different without the pandemic.

“I don’t have any regrets at all,” he said. “Everything happens the way they’re supposed to happen.”

Nor does he worry that the likelihood of regaining the belts will be tougher now that Haney has them. Lomachenko is small for the 135-pound weight class and would have to beat a skilled, naturally bigger man, similar to Lopez.

“The sweeter the victory shall be,” said Lomachenko, with a smile.

 

Tyson, 54, to return for exhibition match against Jones Jr.

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CARSON, Calif. — Mike Tyson is coming back to boxing at age 54.

The former heavyweight champion will meet four-division champion Roy Jones Jr. in an eight-round exhibition match on Sept. 12 at Dignity Health Sports Park.

Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history when he won the title in 1986 at age 20 and for a time was the most feared fighter in boxing. But his career became littered with distractions and he hasn’t boxed since 2005 after losing his second straight fight.

He has occasionally teased a return with workout videos and it’s finally scheduled to happen.

Jones, 51, won titles in the middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight before moving up to win the heavyweight title in 2003, becoming the first former middleweight champion to do so in 106 years.

The event will air on pay-per-view and the social media music platform Triller. Further matches on the card and musical entertainment will be announced in the coming weeks.