A legend returns, an unbeaten champion changes tack and a superstar comes home. Here are Five Boxing Stories You Might Have Missed.
Manny Pacquiao Eyes Conor Benn Comeback
The legendary ‘Pacman’ is on the verge of a ring return according to ESPN. The 44-year-old retired in 2021 after losing to Yordenis Ugas, but after losing the presidential election in his home country of the Philippines, Pacquiao’s eyes are on a ring return.
Eddie Hearn has been vocal in the past about Conor Benn wanting to fight the former pound-for-pound leader. Reportedly that fight is on the table should Pacquiao return. Chris Eubank Jr and Kell Brook are also options that Benn is mulling over as he prepares for his own comeback.
The son of the great ‘Dark Destroyer’ Nigel Benn saw a bout with Eubank Jr fall through last year after he tested positive for the banned substance clomifene. A fight with Pacquiao would signify a blockbuster return for the controversial 26-year-old.
DAZN Comes To Broadcast Television
Sports media platform DAZN has announced the inception of DAZH 1 HD, a new broadcast television channel. The new outlet will be available on Sky, with the company pushing Anthony Joshua’s 1st April clash with Jermaine Franklin as the first major event on the network.
DAZN is primarily noted for its boxing coverage, though it does offer coverage of other domestic and international sports. The streamer introduced a tiered pricing system earlier this year, with the standard offering increasing to £19.99 a month. While discounts were still available on contracted plans, those tiers will not have access to DAZN HD 1. Only subscribers on the £19.99 level will be allowed to access this new channel. The company initially launched with a plan to disrupt the current broadcasting landscape, but a concerted shift has taken place to instead find a place within the traditional structure. It will be interesting to see if DAZN can succeed where Boxnation, Setanta Sport and others failed.
‘Canelo’ Confirms John Ryder For Homecoming
Saul Alvarez will fight in his home country of Mexico for the first time since his 2011 win over Kermit Cintron. Britain’s John Ryder has been confirmed as his opponent at Estadion Akron in Guadalajara on 6th May 2023.
Cinco de Mayo weekend is one of the biggest events in the boxing calendar, with ‘Canelo’ himself having headlined the holiday on seven occasions. This bout with the 32-5 Londoner is being criciticised in some quarters. But ultimately, Ryder is the WBO mandatory challenger. With Alvarez keen to keep his undisputed super middleweight championship unified, this is a necessary evil.
For his part, Ryder comes in on a four fight winning streak that includes victories over two-time middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs and previously-unbeaten contender Zach Parker. ‘Canelo’ won his trilogy fight with Gennady Golovkin last time out, but came up short against Dmitry Bivol last May at light heavyweight.
Joshua Buatsi Swaps Matchroom for BOXXER
Unbeaten light heavyweight contender Joshua Buatsi has caused ripples throughout the domestic scene. The number one-ranked WBA challenger has moved from Eddie Hearn’ws Matchroom to Ben Shalom’s fast-growing BOXXER promotion house.
Shalom is confident the 2016 Olympian can compete for world honours in the near future. Buatsi is in the box seat to fight for Dmitry Bivol’s WBA light heavyweight strap. There is also the prospect of a mouthwatering domestic dust-up with BOXXER stablemate Dan Azeez. The 33-year-old won the European championship over the weekend, stopping Thomas Faure in the last round.
Buatsi will now fight on Sky Sports as part of their deal with BOXXER. His next bout is scheduled 6th May against an as-yet-unnamed opponent.
Babic Battles For The Belt
The WBC’s decision to anoint a new weight division looked ill-advised from the start. While the name “bridgerweight” was noble, named after a child who rescued his younger sister from a dog attack, the 190-210 pound designation was something no one has been asking for.
But don’t let that fact rain on Alen Babic’s parade. The lovable lug has gone 11-0 in fairly moderate company, but he is rarely in bad fights. Few would have tipped him for future world champion status, but he will get that chance as he fights for the vacant WBC bridgerweight belt in April. The title was vacated by inaugural champion Oscar Rivas in January.
Babic will face Lukasz Rozanski in his opponent’s home country of Poland. The undercard will feature outings for Olympian Caroline Dubois and emerging heavyweight Martin Bakole.
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