IBF super-featherweight title success for Rances Barthelemy in Miami


Rances Barthelemy is the new IBF super-featherweight champion after a unanimous points win over Argenis Mendez in Miami.

Bathelemy improved his record to 20-0 after all three judges scored the fight 115-111 in favour of the Cuban.

Barthelemy had beaten Mendez back in January via a second round stoppage only for the decision to be changed to a “no contest” after replays confirmed the fight-ending combination had come after the bell.

There was no such controversy this time, although the margin of victory could have been greater for Barthelemy however he was deducted points in the ninth and 10th rounds for low blows.

This was a difficult fight, Barthelemy said. I faced an Argenis Mendez, who risked it all to keep his title. Thankfully, I knew how to overcome all obstacles.


Mendez, who beat Mexico's Juan Carlos Salgado for the title in March 2013, was under pressure for long periods of the fight.

He did enjoy a mini-revival in the seventh and eighth rounds, but Barthelemy finished strongly to claim the belt.

On the undercard at the American Airlines Arena, Jeff Lacy and Edison Miranda both suffered loses..

Lacy, who held the IBF super-middleweight belt before being beaten by Joe Calzaghe, was stopped in the second round by Umberto Savigne, while two-time world title challenger Miranda was outclassed over 10 rounds by undefeated Cuban cruiserweight Yunier Dorticos.


Shawn Porter to face Kell Brook

Welterweight titlist Shawn Porter will make his second defense when he faces mandatory challenger Kell Brook on Aug. 16, Golden Boy Promotions announced on Saturday.

The fight will headline a Showtime-televised tripleheader at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, that will also include defenses by lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa and super middleweight titleholder Sakio Bika.

Porter (24-0-1, 15 KOs), 26, of Akron, Ohio, knocked out former titleholder Paulie Malignaggi in the fourth round of a dominant performance on April 19, and the mandatory with Brook is due.

I think I have the edge on Brook with everything. I'm faster than he is, stronger than he is, quicker than he is, more athletic, and if you put all that in one fight, I'm going to be the winner, Porter said.

Brook (32-0, 22 KOs), 28, of England, was originally supposed to challenge then-titlist Devon Alexander in 2013, but the fight was called off multiple times due to injuries to both fighters, and then Porter dethroned Alexander. Now Brook is getting his long-awaited opportunity.

I'm confident I'm going to win, Brook said. I'm planning on bringing Porter's belt to the United Kingdom with me. I am fitter than ever and ready to go. I have been in training for a long time, so Aug. 16 -- it's the perfect date for me.

In the co-feature, Figueroa (23-0-1, 17 KOs), 24, of Weslaco, Texas, will make his second defense when he faces mandatory challenger Daniel Estrada (32-2-1, 24 KOs), 29, of Mexico, who will be fighting in the United States for the first time.

Figueroa's first defense was on April 26, a split decision against Jerry Belmontes. Estrada is riding a nine-fight winning streak since 2010.

Bika (32-5-3, 21 KOs), 35, of Australia will be making his second title defense in a rematch with Anthony Dirrell (26-0-1, 22 KOs), 29, of Flint, Michigan. In December 2013, they fought to a split draw in a hard-hitting action fight.

Bika, who was knocked down by Dirrell in the fifth round, strongly felt he won the fight, winding up with a draw only because he was docked a point for a low blow in the 11th round.

I feel I was fighting the referee as well,'' Bika said. The body shot was a legitimate shot. Not below the belt line. I got him on the belt line, Dirrell just wanted to milk it. I was the busier fighter and now I just want to fight the best ahead of me.

Said Dirrell: This fight has been on my mind since I heard the decision from our first fight. I'm just real excited to get it. I know I can beat Bika, I know I have what it takes and that's what it is. It just takes hard work and dedication to stay focused on the game plan.

I could have done better the first fight. I don't feel like he was hitting me with more shots than I was hitting him with, but I still think I won it. This time it will be convincing.


Ricky Burns set for boxing return away from Scotland, says promoter Eddie Hearn

Ricky Burns is likely to fight away from Scotland when he returns to the ring following Friday night's humbling defeat by Dejan Zlaticanin.

The 31-year-old Scot was floored within 30 seconds of his comeback from losing his WBO lightweight belt before suffering a points loss to the Montenegrin in Glasgow in an official WBC eliminator.

Burns struggled in the opening rounds before clawing his way back into the contest, but diminutive southpaw Zlaticanin, fighting outside the Balkans for the first time, continued to cause problems with his left hook and consistently threw the more dangerous punches before winning a split decision.

It leaves the career prospects of the two-weight world champion in tatters and promoter Eddie Hearn said: I think we need to take him away from Scotland for his next fight, because every time he fights there is so much pressure and expectation.

He is going to have a holiday and see how he feels but I can't see him quitting in a million years because he loves to fight. It's not as if he's an old man, he is physically fit and loves to fight.

He trains harder than anyone else down the gym, his sparring is better than anyone else, but he is not delivering it in the ring. I don't know what it is. It's not desire, he still has the desire.

Probably take the first four rounds away, I thought he won the fight quite comfortably, but it's the same mistakes, throwing hooks with your chin in the air and getting caught by a hooker. It was a nightmare start.

British showdown

Hearn will now look to set up an all-British fight to see if Burns can recapture his form, with the likes of Tommy Coyle, Anthony Crolla, Derry Matthews and possibly Kevin Mitchell all potential opponents.

I don't believe Zlaticanin will go on to win a world title, Hearn added. If you can't beat him, you are not going to go on and win a world title. His next fight will have to be a tough domestic fight. You have to win that and then have another fight like Zlaticanin to get in the world title mix.

This was about winning back the confidence of the people and Ricky Burns but we have taken another step back.

But Ricky was sitting in the dressing room saying he feels he has let people down and needs to get back into the gym and improve. He was crying his eyes out.

There was plenty to cheer for the home crowd earlier in the bill with Willie Limond winning a Lonsdale belt at the third time of asking by beating Curtis Woodhouse in a convincing points victory.

The 35-year-old Commonwealth champion, whose previous attempts ended in defeat by Alex Arthur and Crolla, twice put the spirited Woodhouse on the deck with upper-cuts and boxed skilfully throughout despite the defending champion's brave comeback bid.

Hearn could now fix the Glaswegian up for a shot at Italian Michele di Rocco's European belt.

Edinburgh's Stephen Simmons won his grudge match with Wadi Camacho with a 10th-round stoppage following a close affair for the WBC Silver International cruiserweight belt.


Zou Shiming talks about his 10-round debut on Saturday on HBO2

Just 15 months and five fights removed from his professional debut, two-time Chinese Olympic gold medallist and national icon Zou Shiming (4-0, 1 KO),of Guizhu, China, will step up and fight in his first 10-round bout, facing off against hard-punching veteran and three-time world title challenger Luis “Chino” De La Rosa, (23-3-1, 13 KOs), of Barranquillla, Colombia. Zou, trained by Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, and De La Rosa will headline Champions of Gold, the all-action championship boxing event This Saturday! July 19, at The Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena.

Fighting for the vacant WBO International flyweight title, the battle between Top-10 contenders (Zou and De La Rosa are world-rated #6 by the WBA and #10 by the IBF respectively) will be televised via same-day delay on HBO2, beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET/PT. Promoted by Top Ran and Sands China Ltd., in association with Tecate, All Star Boxing, Caribe Promotions and Foreman Boys Promotions, the telecast will open with undefeated super middleweight contender Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, world-rated in the top-five by all four major sanctioning organizations, defending his NABF/NABO super middleweight titles against “The One” Junior Talipeau, who returns to the ring following a career-best victory.

Zou Shiming: “I am pleased with my progress as a professional fighter but I want to show more of what Freddie Roach has been teaching me. Freddie has been a great teacher and an even better friend and mentor. I’m finally comfortable with the pro style of fighting. It may be unusual to move this fast to a 10-round fight but I have confidence in my team and if they think I’m ready, then I will be ready.

“I am not nervous about facing a vastly-more experienced fighter like De La Rosa. I’m very excited about the opportunity. He is the type of fighter I need to beat to earn a world title shot. I do feel the pressure of my fans in China to meet their expectations. But my amateur experience, including three Olympics and two World Championships, has prepared me for that pressure. I feel that my style and power are improving and that has bolstered my confidence.”

Luis De La Rosa: “I’m going to be facing a fighter with a great amateur background. But I’m a professional fighter with a lot of experience, and I’m here to win. Zou Shiming is a great fighter, but I’m really experienced at a professional level. When I was told about this fight, I immediately took it. I didn’t have to think twice. I have been training for four months. I’m ready to take home the victory. Zou Shiming should fear me, because on July 19, in front of all his fans at The Venetian Macao, I’m going make it a nightmare for him.”

Freddie Roach: “Shiming has come a long way in a very short time. I have seen quite a few amateurs take up to four years to learn the pro style. Shiming has done it in 15 months. He is getting the pro style of fighting down a lot quicker than previous Olympians I’ve worked with. The big difference is now he knows he must increase his lead as opposed to protecting a lead, which is what he was taught as an amateur.

“De La Rosa is the best opponent Shiming has faced as a professional. I am confident that Shiming is ready and prepared to go 10 rounds.

“The key for Shiming is to hurt De La Rosa early and set a fast pace for the fight after that. Shiming’s power has really developed. He has discovered power he never knew he had. His jab sets up an overhand right that is killer. He is sitting down on his punches. His combinations are outstanding. When he lands his power punches with 112 pounds behind them, Shiming will make his point to De La Rosa that he belongs.”


Change is No Problem for Ilir Latifi

I have been looking forward to this fight and I believe the Irish fans are as passionate as the Swedish fans, so it will be amazing to fight there. - Ilir Latifi

UFC light heavyweight Ilir LatifiThe environment of mixed martial arts is one that

can shift in any direction on a moment’s notice. Things go wrong, athletes get hurt, and the opponent a fighter has been preparing for six weeks to face is suddenly replaced by an entirely different competitor, with a vastly different skill set. In order for a fighter in the current era of MMA to be successful, they have to be prepared to handle every break and curve that comes their way. Those that can adjust to these circumstances climb the ladder quickly. But those who stumble are forced to take a much longer path.

Ilir Latifi has been on both sides of this equation, and he’s getting used to working on the fly.

The Swedish powerhouse made one of the more memorable UFC debuts in recent history when he stepped in for his injured teammate Alexander Gustafsson last April. “The Mauler” was slated to face former Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi in the UFC’s return to Sweden, but a cut suffered in his final preparations knocked the rangy Alliance MMA fighter out of the bout.

This sent the organization scouring for an 11th hour replacement, and it was Latifi who received the call. Where making it to the UFC and making a lasting impression is something every fighter dreams of, “The Sledgehammer’s” arrival brought a far greater amount of fanfare than a typical debut. The 30-year-old Malmo-based fighter wasn’t making his inaugural showing tucked away quietly on an undercard; he was stepping in against one of the best light heavyweight fighters in the world in the main event of a sold out card in front of his countrymen.

Those conditions could certainly prove to be overwhelming for the majority of fighters stepping into the Octagon for the first time, and the entire experience moved lightning quick for Latifi.

“It was a new and challenging experience,” Latifi said. “The worst part was to lose 13 kilograms in three days, do all the paperwork and medicals, media, PR. I never got the time to focus and think about the fight until I stepped up in the cage.”

While the Pancrase Gym-based fighter would eventually succumb to Mousasi’s attack in the later rounds of the fight, his showing was strong enough to warrant another opportunity from the biggest promotion in mixed martial arts. His bid to make good on a second chance came when he squared off with veteran Cyrille Diabate at UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa back in March.

The bout figured to be the classic “striker vs. grappler” affair, but Latifi came into the bout feeling like he had something to prove. Where his debut came on a rapid-fire turn, he had the proper amount of time to prepare for “The Snake,” and wanted to show the UFC fan base what he was truly about. He accomplished just that by finishing Diabate in the first round with a guillotine choke.

“You have something to prove in every fight, but this time I had a full camp and was ready and prepared,” Latifi said. “I knew I was going to perform at another level from my first fight. Cyrille Diabate is a fantastic fighter with a lot of experience. I knew I had to do my level best.”

Where his win over the French striker allowed him to get his feet planted on the light heavyweight roster, Latifi was eager to get back to work inside the Octagon. He was slated to face gritty veteran Tom Lawlor at UFC Fight Night Dublin this Saturday night, but once again the ever-changing ride that is MMA took another sharp turn as Lawlor was forced to withdraw, and a new opponent was slated in his place.

That said, changes in the pre-fight realm are something Latifi has come to expect, and he will square off with promotional newcomer Chris Dempsey when the UFC visits the O2 Arena on Saturday.

He may be facing a different opponent, but Latifi is confident he will still emerge victorious in the matchup.

“My new opponent Dempsey seems to be a wrestler, same as me, but I believe my stand-up is better. I just need to show my stand-up fighting a little bit more,” Latifi said. “This is my third fight in the UFC and each time gives you more and more experience. You know the rituals of how the event works. But I am still loving the moment each time when I walk out to the cage. That is a feeling you can never get used to.

“The fans will see an Ilir that will do anything to get the win. Hopefully I will be able to show the fans my knockout power as well. I have been looking forward to this fight and I believe the Irish fans are as passionate as the Swedish fans, so it will be amazing to fight there.”

With his upcoming bout against Dempsey in Dublin, Latifi will be looking to take another step deeper into the ranks of one of the UFC’s most competitive divisions. The 205-pound weight class has been regarded as the organization’s “crown jewel” collection going back to the days of Chuck Liddell, and has only risen in prominence with the dominant reign of current champion Jon “Bones” Jones.

Nevertheless, Latifi believes he’s uniquely equipped to handle to the massive workload on the road ahead. He trains on a daily basis with former title challenger and current No. 1 contender Alexander Gustafsson, who came closer than any man has come to dethroning the 27-year-old pound-for-pound great when they locked up at UFC 165 last September. Grinding in the gym with Gustafsson has brought Latifi to a place where he knows he’s capable of hanging with the best, and he’s looking forward to proving it as he continues to climb the light heavyweight ranks.

“It is a tough division,” Latifi said. “I know you have to go over the limit to become a top five fighter in that division. I train with Alexander Gustafsson every day and he is amazing and that helps me a lot in my training to have someone at a world-class level in my weight class to spar with. I do feel I belong at the top of that division though, and I will prove it to the fans watching my fight in Dublin.”


Miguel Cotto vs. Pacquiao, Alvarez or Mayweather: Who will you pay to see?

Right now there are three PPV attractions in boxing and they are Manny Pacquiao, Saul “Canelo’ Alvarez and Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. They all campaign around the same weight 145 - 154 officially (wink, wink). They all mostly fight on the U.S.A. west coast. And they all have either defeated or think they can defeat Miguel Cotto.

Why is Cotto a Golden Goose? Miguel’s body structure is better suited for Junior Middleweight so he is a small man reigning over a larger man’s division. He has an ethnic fan base on the U.S.A. east coast (New York City). His ethnicity has a ethic holiday that is traditionally capped off with a boxing match (Puerto Rican Day). He has a golden strap around his waist (WBC and Ring middleweight belts).

Manny Pacquiao: Pros-Manny’s fans are some of the most loyal win or lose and they are willing to following him where ever he fights. Manny defeated Miguel via referee stoppage in the 12th rd of their 2009 fight. Many attributed Cotto’s loss to several factors. Cotto who was the champion @147 agreed to come in @145. Cotto also had issues with his trainer and used a friend with no head trainer experience. A lot of people would like to see if Manny could do it again at a higher weight and Cotto at full strength. CONS - This fight is highly unlikely because of Freddie Roach. He now trains both men. Also Cotto has more bargaining power and Pacquiao is unlikely to give up that much weight/advantage to Cotto.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez - PROS - He is the most logical choice. This would be another Mexico vs Puerto Rico classic promotion. Their styles are similar and would make for toe to toe action. This fight would be a promotional blockbuster to both the English and Spanish speaking communities. CONS - Canelo currently has trouble making weight @154. He normally re-hydrates to 170 lbs. Canelo’s would easily make 160 then re-hydrate to 175. Freddie Roach and Bob Arum are now in Cotto’s corner and will never allow this to happen. They will probably demand a re-hydration clause to keep Canelo below 165. Golden Boy most likely is not willing to send Canelo into enemy territory on Puerto Rican Day and Roach and Arum will not send Cotto, the champion, into enemy territory on Cinco De Mayo. Whom ever gives in to the others demands will be at a great disadvantage.

Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. PROS - The time line of recent events all point to a rematch in 2015. First, Cotto won the title. Then Mayweather announced he has a big surprise for 2015. Next Canelo announced he wants to fight on the Mexican holidays in 2015 that are normally reserved for Mayweather. Mayweather petitions and is granted a New York state promoters license. Talk of Alvarez vs. Cotto in December fades and Bradley’s name is mentioned.Cotto came close last time but Floyd found a way. Floyd clearly have trouble with guys who weigh in @154. Cotto will probably agree to 156 or 157 because he is unlikely to weigh over 156 himself. Floyd wants and needs that middleweight title for his legacy. A lot of people are willing to pay to see Floyd lose regardless the opponent. Canelo’s growing popularity could challenge Floyd for the Mexican Holidays slot so why not travel to NYC on Puerto Rican Day. Throw in Danny Garcia and Adrien Broner on the undercard and you have a PPV goldmine. CONS - NONE.

Chime in and leave a post or comment at BoxingNews24 either on Facebook, Twitter, Google + or visit the site and let your opinion be heard. We look forward to hearing your take on who should Miguel Cotto fight in 2015.


Lineup Finalized for Aug. 1 Lion Fight 17 Card

Kickboxing promotion Lion Fight has finalized the bill for its Aug. 1 card at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn.

Thepnimit “Mr. Knock” Sitmonchai, who owns 98 knockouts on his professional record, will make his U.S. debut against Dean James of Birmingham, England. The fight card will air live on AXS TV.

“Lion Fight fans have been asking us to bring Thepnimit 'Mr. Knock' Sitmonchai, a star in Thailand who trains in one of the most respected gyms in the country, to fight here in the U.S.,” said Lion Fight CEO Scott Kent in a press release. “He's an aggressive and powerful fighter who has more than earned his nickname in this sport, but World Muay Thai Champion Dean James didn't hesitate to step up and take this fight. Sitmonchai vs. James is one of the most exciting main events we've put together.”

Sitmonchai (115-38-5) is ranked seventh at 120 pounds at the highly respected Lumpinee Stadium in Thailand.

Lion Fight 17 Lineup:

Thepnimit Sitmonchai vs. Dean James

Malaipet Sasiprapa vs. Justin Greskiewicz

Rami Ibrahim vs. Carlos Lopez

Victor Saravia vs. Andy Singh

Victor Monfort vs. Brett Hlavacek

Pedro Gonzalez vs. Tim Amorim


Kantun looks to shine in U.S. debut Friday

Super flyweight Juan “El Loquito” Kantun (21-6-3, 15 KOs) of Merida, Yucatan, Mexico will make both his U.S. and Telemundo debut This Friday. Kantun will take on Jonathan “Pitbull” Vidal (17-2, 9 KOs) of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico in the main event bout scheduled over ten rounds for the WBO Latino title. Boxeo Telemundo Ford will air the event from the Kissimmee Civic Center in Central Florida. Those who saw Kantun’s lasts fight against unbeaten world champion Roman “Chocalitito” Gonzalez this past February know that Kantun is not lacking in courage. He stood toe to toe with Gonzalez for nearly six rounds before a stoppage loss. Fightnews caught up to him prior to his departure to the U.S. days before his big fight.

You’re actually coming up in weight for this fight from your last. Is 115 your best weight?

I can still make 112 with no problem. This fight is a very good opportunity for me. I feel real strong at 115. .

You fought valiantly in your loss to Gonzalez. What did you learn the most from that fight?

Gonzalez is the most complete fighter I have ever fought. I mean he does so many things right in the ring. He knows how to cut the ring off, he doesn’t stop throwing punches, he can make you miss, and the list goes on. That fight showed me that there are some many things I can still do to improve as a fighter and get better.

How is your confidence having lost 2 of your last 3 fights?

My confidence is very high. I mean Gonzalez is on the top 10 pound for pound list for best fighters in the world. David Sanchez is a current interim world champion and Rocky Fuentes just fought for a world title. I was competitive in all those fights. Those are top tier fighters in their perspective weight divisions. I’m not down at all about those losses. They will make me better.

Where did you get the nickname “El Loquito” (little crazy boy)?

When I was younger my behavior fit the name and people in the neighborhood just started calling me it. It’s stuck with every since. I have matured a lot since then fortunately.

Would you say boxing has had a big impact on your maturity?

Absolutely. If you’re serious about being a professional boxer then there are a lot good things that can come from it. In my case I have gained a lot of discipline. In order for me to be in top condition and make my weight properly I have to be disciplined. I know I must stay focused and live a clean life. Economically it has allowed for me to provide for my family and be responsible.

How excited are you to be debuting both on Telemundo and on U.S soil?

This a HUUUGE opportunity for me. So many people will get to see me on Telemundo Friday and people will see me fight in person in the U.S. for the first time as well. It definitely will be worth tuning in to watch me or come to see me live. I definitely won’t disappoint with my effort in the ring.

Doors open 7:30 PM, First bell at 8:30 PM. Telemundo Network available in HD will televise main event starting at 11:35 PM. Tuto Zabala, Jr., All Star Boxing, Inc is presenting the show. The De Jesus fight is in association with 50 Cent SMS Promotions and the Mercado bout with Top Rank. Tickets are already on sale from only $20.00 at Kissimmee Civic Center 201 E. Dakin Ave, Downtown Kissimmee, FL or by calling 407-935-1412.


Gray Maynard-Fabricio Camoes Becomes Latest UFC 176 Matchup Moved to Maine

A lightweight tilt between Gray Maynard and Fabricio Camoes will now take place Aug. 16 in Bangor, Maine.

UFC officials announced the decision on Wednesday. The fight joins a handful of other bouts that were moved this week to accommodate the cancellation of UFC 176 on Aug. 2 in Los Angeles.

After going unbeaten in his first nine promotional appearances, Maynard has won just once in his last five outings. “The Bully” last competed at “The Ultimate Fighter 18” finale, where he suffered a first-round technical knockout loss to Nate Diaz.

Camoes, meanwhile, has tasted victory just once in five UFC bouts. In his most recent fight, the Brazilian was submitted by a Jim Miller armbar in the opening frame at UFC 168.

The bout will serve as support on the Fox Sports 1 broadcast of  UFC Fight Night “Bader vs. St. Preux,” which will be topped by 205-pounders Ryan Bader and Ovince St. Preux.


Will Brooks Hopes Lightweight Title Unification Bout Accompanies New Bellator Regime

Like much of the mixed martial arts community, Will Brooks is intrigued by the possibilities of the new Bellator regime.

Until something concrete comes to fruition, however, the promotion’s interim lightweight champ is taking a wait-and-see approach in regards to Bellator 2.0. In fact, he hasn’t even spoken with Scott Coker, the promotion’s new president.

“I’ve just been here in the background watching everything happen,” Brooks recently told Sherdog.com.

Major change takes time. If anyone knows that it’s Brooks, who flew largely under the radar as a prospect until his upset victory over Michael Chandler at  Bellator's inaugural pay-per-view event in May.

Not that he was struggling before that fight. “Ill Will” first generated some hype with a second-round stoppage of former Sengoku champion Satoru Kitaoka at Dream’s 2012 New Year’s Eve event. A victory over tough veteran Ricardo Tirloni in his Bellator debut soon followed, and Brooks appeared well on his way to joining the likes of Chandler, Eduardo Dantas and Pat Curran as one of the promotion’s top homegrown talents.

That progress came to a screeching halt in his next outing, however, as Brooks suffered a 43-second knockout loss to Saad Awad at Bellator 91. He rebounded to post four consecutive victories, winning the Season 9 lightweight tournament and avenging the loss to Awad in the process. Still, three straight decision triumphs during that process did little to boost Brooks’ stock.

When it was announced that he would replace the injured Eddie Alvarez on Bellator’s first pay-per-view offering, the overall response was one of confusion.

“I think people were still like, ‘Who is this guy?’ I don’t think many people remembered I had won the tournament,” Brooks admits. “Even when they announced the fight, people were still like, ‘Who? Why is this guy fighting Chandler?’”

Brooks was fighting Chandler in part because he was the best available alternative to Alvarez and in part because Bellator couldn’t afford to cancel another pay-per-view. What the naysayers didn’t know was that Brooks had gradually undergone a transformation since his upset loss to Awad.

Changes in both his personal and professional approach made for a much better version of Brooks by the time he stepped into the cage with Chandler at Bellator 120.

“I really started focusing on things as a regular person -- being myself,” he said. “I was putting so much pressure on myself. I wanted to fight guys like Chandler and Alvarez, guys in the UFC lightweight division. I wanted to be the best, and if not the best, one of the best.

“Once I lost that [first] tournament, I had to sit back and be like: ‘Will, you’ve got to get back to being a person. You’ve got to get back to being yourself and enjoying yourself -- having fun and not [being] so stressed out about trying to put on a good show for everybody.’ I think going into the second Awad fight I was a lot more comfortable in my own skin.”

Couple that with the positive influence of working out at American Top Team, where Brooks says he learned how a training camp should really operate, and the Illinois native was primed to deliver on his potential against Chandler -- even if the rest of the world didn’t yet know it.

Brooks started slowly against his favored foe, dropping the first two rounds. He got stronger as the fight progressed, putting the former champion in serious peril in rounds three and four. Chandler survived and finished strong in the final frame, but it was Brooks who emerged with a contentious split verdict.

While the victory might have been disputed, it was undeniably Brooks’ best performance to date. Spike TV will re-air the pay-per-view card -- including that fight -- on Friday at 9 p.m. ET.

“The two times I was in the tournament, people had me pegged as a wrestler. Being able to compete with a guy like Chandler...being able to go out there and give him a run for his money as far as the striking game goes, I think that was a very exciting thing for me,” Brooks said.

Since then, Brooks has engaged in a war of words with Chandler on Twitter. He doesn’t take the exchanges too seriously, but he believes that Chandler might see things a little bit differently.

“When I was doing that, I was just having fun,” Brooks said. “Chandler seems to be a good guy, but he seems to be a pretty sensitive guy who takes himself a little too seriously sometimes. The group of friends that I have, we poke fun at each other. If you show me some type of weakness, I try to go after it.”

Brooks is someone who considers himself to be a fairly astute people watcher. That has carried over into his assessment of Chandler.

“I think he’s one of those guys that’s just been handed a lot of things in his life -- been kind of catered to,” Brooks said. “So it’s made him kind of a sensitive guy. He doesn’t have a thick skin.

“I think he’s an Abercrombie Fitch type of dude and kind of had his hand held for a long time,” he added. “Somebody said something to him, he might be one of those guys that ran to the teacher or something like that.”

In a perfect world, Brooks would like to get a shot to unify the lightweight crown with a belt against Alvarez, the reigning champ. No matter who is running the show at Bellator, it’s the only logical thing to do. At least that’s how Brooks sees it.

“What typically happens in MMA history is if you have an interim belt and you have the real belt, you unify the belts, right? I’m just trying to go along with the program,” he said. “Of course I’ve been a little confused by everything. I stated that and made my opinion felt through social media. It might have gotten under some people’s skin at Bellator. I’m trying to do a better job with keeping my mouth shut.”

Even if he can’t make good on that goal, Brooks wants everyone -- Chandler included -- to know that it’s all in the name of a good time.

“We’re supposed to have fun with this thing. We don’t have to take ourselves so damn seriously.”


Seth Baczynski-Alan Jouban Welterweight Bout Added to UFC Fight Night in Maine

Seth Baczynski will welcome Octagon newcomer Alan Jouban to the  Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight division next month.

The organization Tuesday announced that Baczynski and Jouban are set to square off Aug. 16 as part of  UFC Fight Night “Bader vs. St. Preux” at Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine. The Fox Sports 1-broadcast card is topped by a light heavyweight bout between Ryan Bader and Ovince St. Preux.

After beginning his second UFC stint with a four-fight winning streak, Baczynski has suffered losses in three of his last four outings, most recently dropping a unanimous decision to Thiago Alves in April. The 32-year-old “Polish Pistola” holds an overall UFC record of 5-4, including wins over Matt Brown and Neil Magny.

Jouban, 31, enters the UFC after a 3-1 run with Resurrection Fighting Alliance, where he nabbed a split decision from Ricky Legere Jr. last month. The Los Angeles-based fighter-slash-model has recorded finishes in seven of his nine career victories.


Mayweather v Maidana temperature rising

I found it interesting to watch the war of words and antics between former welterweight champion Marcos Maidana (35-4, 31 KOs) and current WBC/WBA welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. (46-0, 26 KOs) in their press tour in San Antonio Texas on the latest leg of their 5-city media tour.

Both fighters are building up much anticipated rematch on September 13th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. During the San Antonio press tour, both fighters confronted each other for the usual round of interviews and the time honored and manly art of the stare down with Maidana appearing to take exception to Mayweather’s trash talking the mercury levels in the thermometer shot sky high and a bout of pushing and chest pumping ensued with bodyguards on both sides stepping in to separate both fighters.

The question is was this a marketing strategy as is becoming more and more common or are we witnessing a true manifesting and genuine dislike between the two fighters?

I believe there is a genuine dislike between the two of them. In the last few day’s both fighters have issued verbal warnings and predictions of KO victories, something that never looked like happening in the first bout. So have things changed and what if anything will be different second time around.

If confidence and power wins fights then the tough Argentinean looks to have a good shout of victory but confidence and power alone are not a blueprint for victory and more is needed and questions in this regard hang over Maidana’s head. But the Argentinean is not without his own plus points and truly believes he can and will win and this is prizefighting and anything can happen.

Mayweather has well publicized problems with his hands and a KO win against a tough opponent like Maidana is unlikely and at 37 year’s young. And with a long boxing journey nearing its end there is always the possibility of time catching up with the future hall of fame fighter.

Are we about too witness history? Will Mayweather fail to get to win No. 47 on September 13th?

All will be revealed come September 13th in sin city but I am sure there will be a few more twists and turns in the proceeding weeks before the fight and maybe just maybe on the night itself who knows stranger things in boxing have happened.

Read more at http://www.boxingnews24.com/2014/07/mayweather-v-maidana-temperature-rising/#1DGU7cPuD6ERiebU.99

Ronda Rousey belongs ‘in the top three’ in pound-for-pound rankings

Few, if any, would argue Ronda Rousey isn't the top female fighter on the planet. While Cyborg Justino might take issue with the claim, Rousey is demonstrably more accomplished given her status as the UFC women's bantamweight champion.

Yet, the question remains, how does she stack up against the best of the men? According to Rousey's coach Edmond Tarverdyan, the answer is right at the top.

Top three, for sure. Top three, yes, he told Ariel Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour. Ronda finishes every fight. Ronda finishes every fight, she's amazing. With the skills and the hard work and what she shows in the Octagon.

With 16 seconds, she showed everything. Good punch, good knee, good takedown, good ground and pound. This girl did everything in 16 seconds, so she is in the top three. The way she performed against Sara McMann also, silver medalist, and the way she controlled her on the cage. Put those combinations together, mixed it up with elbows, everything, and dropped her. It's great.

As Tarverdyan sees it, it's not merely that Rousey's wins or accomplishments count. Certainly those count, but they don't tell the sum total of her career. According to him, it's the nature of how she's winning that also should be taken into account.

You have a girl that's a great grappler, he explained. The first opponent she knocks out, she gets it from the liver shot. Think about that. That's very difficult to do. In boxing, when we build our fighters, the way I do it is to make them understand the body shots. We work on that because it's going to be very important in a twelve-round fight. You drop people from the body, so you learn that in the beginning of your career when you're getting what people call those tomato cans to fight.

But it's a learning process, so you can be ready for that big fight. Ronda's first knockout she gets is from the body. That's amazing. That's amazing because she was dropping people in the gym with the body shots. She did it. She was dropping people in the gym with head shots, the overhand right. In this case, she did it. She's an amazing athlete.

While the debate is likely to rage over where Rousey belongs in the pound-for-pound rankings in addition to how Tarerdyan's comments exacerbate the back and forth, the coach of the UFC champion is unwavering in his belief.

What I see with her, yes, the fights finish early, but she's the best in the world, he argued. She's should be in the top three.


‘Bigfoot’ Silva: I want to finish Andrei Arlovski this time

Antonio Bigfoot Silva and Andrei Arlovski will meet again, and the Brazilian heavyweight wants to go 2-0 against the former UFC champion with a finish.

Bigfoot and Arlovski battled for three rounds in Strikeforce in 2010. Four years and four months later, Silva, who won that bout via unanimous decision, headlines the UFC Fight Night 51 card in his homeland of Brasilia, Brazil.

We fought once and we know what we can do, but we fought four years ago and I changed my game a lot since, Silva told MMAFighting.com. I was too anxious in that fight. It was the second time I was fighting a well-known fighter, after Ricco Rodriguez, so I wanted the win no matter what. I tried to finish him but I couldn’t. I’m sure that it’s going to be different this time.

I will do everything I can to finish him, he added. I don’t like to let the fight go to a decision, we never know what the judges are going to do. My goal is to end it as soon as possible, but I will be ready for five rounds. I will try to submit or knock him out all the time. Arlovski deserves respect, but I only care about myself.

Bigfoot asked the UFC to fight at the Fight Night card in Brasilia on Sept. 13, but Arlovski wasn’t the opponent he had in mind. The American Top Team heavyweight campaigned for a bout against Josh Barnett, but is happy to face a former champion.

I really wanted to fight Josh, but the UFC thought that Andrei Arlovski would be a better fight right now, he said. He’s a really tough opponent, a former heavyweight champion, and I’m happy to headline a UFC card in Brazil against him.

Out of the UFC since 2008, Arlovski returned to the Octagon in June with a split decision victory over Brendan Schaub. UFC president Dana White criticized both fighters for their performances, but Silva won’t underestimate Arlovski.

It was a weak fight, technically speaking. Neither fighter wanted to expose, he said. It was an ugly fight, but I’m pretty sure he will be back better this time. He will be back better trained, and I know he wants to fight better.


Chris Weidman: ‘I want to fight Vitor Belfort’ next

H ow much has life changed for UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman since he won the title? He was getting set to head to the airport to catch his flight to Los Angeles when he appeared on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.

Weidman, who defeated Lyoto Machida last week at UFC 175, has been nominated for an ESPY award for the Best Upset of 2013 for his UFC 162 knockout of former champion Anderson Silva. He joins fellow UFC champions Ronda Rousey (Best Female Athlete and Best Fighter) and Jon Jones (Best Fighter) as nominees at the awards show.

The ceremony will happen on July 16 at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, and will air on ESPN. The next day, July 17, is officially Chris Weidman Day in Nassau County. That, too, is to commemorate the champion’s feat of dethroning Silva.

As for everything that comes after, Weidman is still in the process of figuring out whom he’ll fight next, and when. Although, if he had his druthers, he’d defend the 185-pound title next against the guy who is rightfully next in line, Vitor Belfort.

I wish I could tell you, I’m in the same boat as you, the Long Island native told Ariel Helwani. I haven’t spoken to Dana [White] or anyone at the UFC since my fight [on July 5].

I do want to fight Vitor Belfort. He’s the guy who’s been floating around the top for awhile now. He’s another legend. I’ve kind of grew to enjoy fighting legends that I got into the sport watching and admiring. Obviously he has his drug test issue going on. I hope somehow he can figure it out and we can get him licensed and, I really don’t know how that’s working. But that’s the guy I do want to fight.

Belfort has been the No. 1 contender since he knocked out Dan Henderson in November of last year, but it’s complicated. Belfort was supposed to fight Weidman at UFC 173, which was shifted and ultimately changed due to Weidman needing surgery on his knees and the abrupt February ban on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in Nevada. Belfort, who fought three times in Brazil in 2013, was on TRT at the time of the ban.

Belfort, who was busted for steroids back in 2006 when he faced Henderson in Pride, was randomly tested out of competition while visiting Las Vegas in February. He still needs to go before the Nevada Athletic Commission to try and get licensed in the state, which has presented a lot of murkiness to the matchmaking process.

With this being the case, Weidman ran down the list of other eligible contenders that might become his next challenge.

Then you have [Gegard] Mousasi who’s fighting Jacare [Ronaldo Souza], so I don’t know if the winner of that…and then you have [Luke] Rockhold, who lost to Vitor, but he came back with two big W’s over [Tim] Boetsch and Costas [Philippou], he said. I think he may need another win, another top five win to get it, but that’s up to the UFC…but there’s no one out there for him to fight, so I don’t know. I don’t really know what’s going to happen. It’s a weird division we’re in.

Weidman said he would strongly recommend that Belfort be thoroughly tested for PEDs before fighting him, but said he wouldn’t demand it with the UFC. When pressed as to why not, he said that he was 100 percent positive that he would be anyway.

As for down the line, Weidman said his goal would be to clean out the middleweight division and then take some super-fights outside of it. When the name Jon Jones was brought up, Weidman said that would be a fight that he’d be very interested in if and when it came up, given that they are both still in the same position they’re in now.

It depends, right now he would be [at the top of the list of things to accomplish], because I’m at the top, and he’s at the top. That’s the guy I’d want to fight, he said. But, who knows where he’ll be at that point. I think he’s going to be on top for awhile, and I think I will too. So, if I had to say right now, I’d say that’s the fight that I would want. I want to fight the best guys in the world…I want to fight people that other people think I have no chance of beating. So, he would definitely be an awesome test for me.

As for welterweight champion, Johny Hendricks, who recently expressed interest in fighting Weidman?

I don’t even think that I’d entertain that, he said. Not that he’s not good or anything like that, but it just doesn’t make any sense to talk about it now. [Hendricks] hasn’t defended his belt yet, and I have more people to fight in my weight class. On top of that, I would never call out a guy who’s smaller than me. I’m a lot bigger than him, I think. I know he walks around heavy but I’d feel like I’d have a huge advantage in that fight, so I’m not calling him out.

Jon Jones is different, he continued. He’s taller than me, he’s bigger than me, so that’s a different story. That would be more of a test than Johny Hendricks.


Callum Smith looking to perform in super-middleweight clash with Vladine Biosse

Callum Smith says he must perform in his televised clash with Vladine Biosse on July 12 in order to justify his reputation as one of boxing’s rising stars.

The super-middleweight defends his WBC International title live on Sky Sports at the Echo Arena in Liverpool as he looks to extend his perfect record to 12 wins.

The 24-year-old caught the eye in 2013 after a run of six successive first round wins, but Smith insists he has a long way to go before being regarded as one of the world’s hottest prospects.

“I think I have a lot to do but it’s nice to be named as one to watch,” said Smith.

“I don’t believe I am the hottest prospect in world boxing as there are some great young fighters out there, but I must be doing something right if people are talking about me in that way.

“You are only as good as your last performance and if I am poor against Biosse then the same people who think I am one of the ones to watch will say I’m not as good as they thought.

“I just need to keep working hard in the gym and listening to my trainer Joe Gallagher and just beating whoever Eddie (Hearn) puts in front of me.”

Smith believes tricky southpaw Biosse will present a sterner test than some of the opponents he has faced in the last 18 months.

“I saw his last fight, he’s an experienced southpaw and another step up for me which is what I wanted to end the season with,” said Smith.

“I’m looking to perform well again and it looks like a distance fight for me. He’s only been stopped three times in 20 fights and last time out against J’Leon Love he went to the tenth round so it looks like it could go a few rounds.

“I like the early KOs but I do think that I need to get some rounds and he’s been brought in for that reason.

“In boxing one punch can change a fight and that has been the case with me. He’s a southpaw so it might take me a few rounds to get used to him and he’s been around so it’s good experience for me.”

Smith’s clash with Biosse is part of an action-packed card which features fellow Liverpudlian Tony Bellew fighting Julio Cesar Dos Santos and Nathan Cleverly taking on Alejandro Valori.

Anthony Joshua is also on the bill against Matt Skelton along with Luke Campbell, Anthony Ogogo and Rocky Fielding.