Boxing

WBA Super World featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz will be making a voluntary defense against struggling fringe contender Miguel Flores (23-2, 11 KOs) on February 16. This is not a great defense for Santa Cruz, as he’s facing an opponent in 26-year-old Flores that has lost two out of his last three fights. It’s not too common for champions to defend against guys with a 1-2 record in their last three fights like Flores.

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VERONA, N.Y. (Jan. 3, 2019) — Shakur Stevenson, the 21-year-old wunderkind who captured a silver medal for the United States at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will begin his 2019 campaign with his toughest professional bout to date.

Stevenson (9-0, 5 KOs) will battle Jessie Cris Rosales in a 10-rounder for the IBF Intercontinental and WBC Continental Americas featherweight belts on Friday, Jan. 18 at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y.

Stevenson-Rosales will serve as the co-feature to the Bryant Jennings-Oscar Rivas heavyweight main event, both of which will stream live beginning at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN+ — the new multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment in conjunction with ESPN. The undercard, including the highly anticipated pro debut of former Indian amateur standout Vikas “The Indian Tank” Krishan, will also stream live on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM), tickets, priced at $79, $62, and $45, are available at the Turning Stone Resort Box Office by calling 315-361-7469 or online at Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com).

“I am ready to fight the best featherweights in the world. 2019 is going to be a year to remember for me,” Stevenson said. “Rosales is a tough opponent, but he’s going to be no match for my speed and power.”

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(Jan. 3, 2019) — Top Rank is proud to announce it has signed two of the East Coast’s brightest amateur stars — Puerto Rican-born super bantamweight Jeremy “Magic Hands” Adorno and South Philadelphia-born heavyweight Sonny Conto — to multi-year contracts.

Conto and Adorno will make their professional debuts in four-round bouts Friday, Feb. 8 at 2300 Arena in Philadelphia on the “Philly Special” card promoted by Michelle Rosado’s Raging Babe. Adorno, who currently lives in Allentown, Pa., is the younger brother of Joseph “Blessed Hands” Adorno, one of the sport’s top prospects.

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Montreal—Russia faced up to the possibility of renewed sporting sanctions on Tuesday when the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) confirmed the country had missed a December 31 deadline to hand over data from its anti-doping laboratory in Moscow.
“I am bitterly disappointed that data extraction from the former Moscow Laboratory has not been completed by the date agreed,” said WADA president Craig Reedie.

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LOS ANGELES — If Thursday’s press conference downtown at the Conga Room is any indication, Abner Mares won’t struggle to add four pounds when he squares off against Gervonta Davis. He’s carrying at minimum a four-pound chip on his shoulder.

Mares looks to add his name to a short list of Mexican-born fighters to win titles in four different divisions when he meets Davis for a 130-pound clash Feb. 9 in Carson, California on Showtime. He would join Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Jorge Arce as the only to do it, likely punching his ticket to Canastota, New York as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Mares didn’t just pick a guy with a belt — he picked who many consider the guy at 130 pounds in Davis. This will be the longest-odds underdog Mares has ever been.

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SKY Sports Pay Per View is set to unleash slam-bang boxing action this December and January as it features skirmishes between Manny Pacquiao and Adrien Broner for the WBA Welterweight title this Jan. 20, and Donnie Nietes and Kazuto Ioka for the vacant WBO Superflyweight Championship this Dec. 31 in Pinoy Pride: Nietes vs. Ioka.

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Floyd Mayweather probably got more of a fight than he was expecting on Monday night in Japan, but "Money" finished things off with a flurry against Tenshin Nasukawa at RIZIN 14. Mayweather, participating in a boxing exhibition against a 20-year-old kickboxer who fights 20 pounds below his normal weightclass, told media he was making $9 million to headline the year-end event in what equated to a sparring match.

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After 2018 gave us some great fights and amazing knockouts we will remember for years, 2019 may be even bigger. There's a chance we get an undisputed heavyweight champion if Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder are able to reach an agreement. But we're also set to see business pick up at welterweight, where a ton of the young guns are finally getting marquee matchups they deserve.

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By Michael Angelo S. Murillo

FILIPINO WORLD BOXING champion Donnie “Ahas” Nietes caps off what has been a busy 2018 with another title fight on New Year’s Eve in Macau, China. It is a contest that carries much significance in further solidifying his standing as one of the sport’s best, a local boxing analyst said.

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IBF welterweight champion Errol ‘The Truth’ Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) says he thinks he and Jermall Charlo (28-0, 21 KOs) will both knockout former middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs). Spence is still fighting at 147, but he could move up to 154 in a year or two after he exhausts all the fights available to him at welterweight.

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Commentator/trainer Teddy Atlas agrees with the decision the judges handed down in giving Tony Harrison (28-2, 21 KOs) a 12 round unanimous decision win over rising star WBC junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo (31-0, 15 KOs) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Atlas is the first to admit that his comments on the outcome of the Charlo vs. Harrison fight won’t be favorable with the boxing public, as many of them thought Jermell deserved the victory.

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ESPN+ (1 p.m. ET)

• Josh Warrington 125.5 lbs vs. Carl Frampton 125.75 lbs
(Warrington's IBF Featherweight world title - 12 Rounds)

• Michael Conlan 125.75 lbs vs. Jason Cunningham 124.5 lbs
(Vacant WBO Intercontinental Featherweight title - 10 Rounds)

• Mark Heffron 158 lbs vs. Liam Williams 159.75 lbs
(Vacant British Middleweight title - 12 Rounds)

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