Five Boxing Stories You Might Have Missed: Pacquiao Targets Olympic Gold

Plus Usyk-Hrgovic, Stevenson-Martin and more
17:00, 01 Sep 2023

Boxing has been at the forefront of sporting debate this week. Experts and online commenters have raged over whether Daniel Dubois’s fifth-round punch on Oleksandr Usyk was a low blow or not. But whether that shot was belt-line or below, there’s been more to boxing this week than Usyk’s waistband. 

Here are Five Boxing Stories You Might Have Missed.


Manny Pacquiao Targets Olympic Gold

The iconic ‘Pacman’ is reportedly eyeing a surprise turn at the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Pacquiao will be 45 by the time the games take place, but according to Philippines Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino the eight-weight world champion wants to end his career with a gold medal.

The move has drawn widespread criticism. While a rule change in 2016 means fighters who have turned professional are allowed to compete, Pacquiao’s entrance goes against the spirit of Olympic boxing. The event has always been the peak of the amateur game. While there is no harm in a fighter who has had one or two pro fights entering, the participation of one of the biggest stars in boxing history is a bit of an insult. It remains to be seen if Pacquiao will actually compete, with Tolentino saying they are currently exploring qualification routes for the legendary fighter.

Hearn Expects IBF To Order Usyk-Hrgovic

Matchroom chief Eddie Hearn told Talksport that he expects unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk to be ordered to face IBF mandatory Filip Hrgovic next. It had been hoped the long-running negotiations to stage Usyk vs WBC champion Tyson Fury, possibly in Saudi Arabia, would finally reach a conclusion.

But Hearn is reportedly adamant that Hrgovic will not step aside, putting Usyk in a tough position. Does he give up the IBF strap and that marketable ‘undisputed’ tagline for a Fury fight? Or does he face Hrgovic in a bout that won’t generate much interest, something that the Dubois fight could have been accused of before the controversy ignited it? It’s a bit of a no-win situation for the champion and yet another roadblock in the stagnating heavyweight division.


WBC orders Shakur Stevenson vs Frank Martin

The IBF aren’t the only sanctioning body doling out orders. But at least the WBC are trying to make a more attractive fight than Usyk-Hrgovic. Two-weight world champion Shakur Stevenson has been ordered to face unbeaten southpaw Frank Martin for the body’s vacant lightweight title.

It’s an intriguing fight, even though it pales in comparison to the initially-ordered Devin Haney-Shakur Stevenson bout. But with Haney now named ‘champion in recess’ due to his move up in weight, Shakur instead aims to become a three-weight king against the gifted Martin. This is a proper fight, even without the bells and whistles a Haney fight would have enjoyed. 

Mikaela Mayer Calls Out Natasha Jonas

The Sportsman sat down with former unified super featherweight champion Mikaela Mayer this week. The American fights Silvia Bortot in Manchester on Saturday, on the undercard of Chris Eubank Jr’s revenge mission against Liam Smith.

Mayer wasted no time in calling out WBC, IBF and WBO light middleweight champion Natasha Jonas for a potential fight. “I’d love to lock in a deal with her. I think that the world wants to see that fight, too.” Mayer said. She added, “I’m a big fight for her. She's a big fight for me. And I think the fans would love it, so that's definitely on my radar.”

Mayer also went in depth on her move up in weight, Katie Taylor’s upcoming rematch with Chantelle Cameron and the possibility of Mel C one day DJ’ing her to the ring. You can read the full chat with Mikaela here.

Ruiz Wants $10 Million To Fight Wilder

Former unified heavyweight Andy Ruiz Jr has targeted a fight with former WBC king Deontay Wilder once again. The 33-year-old has been out of the ring since a win over Luis Ortiz a year ago and for much of that time he has tried to get ‘The Bronze Bomber’ into the ring.

Ruiz’s approach to negotiation might be behind why that fight hasn’t happened. “I’ll fight him for $10 million,” was Ruiz’s response on Twitter when a fight with Wilder was brought up, adding “They try to tell me they’ll offer me this or that, but it’s all bull s**t.”

There is no way Ruiz is securing a purse of that size for a fight that he needs more than his opponent. Wilder is in talks for a fight with Anthony Joshua, which would net him far more cash than a Ruiz bout. If ‘Destroyer’ wants to get back in the heavyweight mix he might have to come down on his price a little. Right now he’s at serious risk of getting lost in the shuffle.

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