SADAM ALI didn’t have to wait long for a replacement opponent following the withdrawal of England’s Liam Smith. The WBO super-welterweight champion was told, shortly after news of Smith’s illness broke, that he will now be defending his belt against Jaime Munguia on the original date of May 12.
The reason for the quickness: Munguia, ranked at four with the WBO and seven with the WBC, had been on standby and on the lookout for a fight for the past few weeks. There was talk of him stepping in for his naughty countryman Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and opposing Gennady Golovkin on May 5, but that option would have required the Mexican moving up from his natural 154-pound division and tackling a monster middleweight on relatively short notice. In short: it was ill-advised at best, dangerous at worst. This shot against Ali, however, is presumably more to his liking.
The 21-year-old has a beautiful record on paper – 28-0 with 24 knockouts – but has fought outside his native Mexico only once and beaten no recognisable names. All potential at this stage, it will be interesting to see how Munguia copes with a significant step up in class. (His performance will also reveal just how ugly that touted Golovkin matchup might have been.)
Daniyar Yeleussinov will make his UK debut in June, either in Bethnal Green or Newcastle, following a successful start to his professional career on Saturday night.
The highly-touted Kazakh is a former Olympic gold medallist (2016) who has turned professional with Matchroom and promoter Eddie Hearn.
“He’s going to box in the UK in June, either on our London show or on the Josh Kelly show,” Hearn said, adding that a final decision will be made soon.
I am very lucky to be given the task of guiding this young man to World titles. Daniyar Yeleussinov will box in the UK in June, announcement soon ? pic.twitter.com/Sgt7b1lpkJ
— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) April 30, 2018
For British fight aficionados, either one would work. He’d be a welcome addition to a Newcastle card already chock-full of young talents, one of which is Josh Kelly, a one-time Yeleussinov opponent, while the thought of a top amateur being baptised at the official home of UK boxing – Bethnal Green’s York Hall – has me coming over all sentimental and harkens back to that glorious night in 2013 when Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk boxed there in the World Series of Boxing.
By the way, on Saturday night at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Yeleussinov, 1-0 (1), outclassed the unbeaten but inexperienced Noah Kidd from Missouri. He finished the job in round three.
I used to Noah Kidd from Missouri.
Note: This section will be known as ‘MTK Signing of the Day’, but will be interchangeable with ‘Steve Goodwin Signing of the Day’.
Today’s ‘MTK Signing of the Day’, as well as ‘Leftfield Signing of the Day’, is super-middleweight contender Lolenga Mock, who has hooked up with MTK Global to help his pursuit of a world title shot.
The great Dane, originally from Congo, was once a high-class journeyman – take them the distance, get robbed, get paid – whose topsy-turvy career all of a sudden took off in 2015, following a year-long hiatus. He now boasts 11 wins in a row and a number 15 ranking with the WBC.
Before the resurgence, Mock was best-known for giving David Haye all he could handle in 2003, dropping the soon-to-be world champion with a right hand to the forehead, and coming agonisingly close to stopping him. (Haye, it should be pointed out, remains the only person to have halted Mock within the scheduled distance.)
Fifteen years on, Mock’s career is a lesson in perseverance. At the ripe old age of 46, he is getting the kind of opportunities he was denied at the start of his astonishing 27-year professional career, and somehow seems better than ever.
“I’m ranked fifteenth in the world now and the WBC is the route I’m going down,” he said. “I want to fight for a world title. That’s always been the dream.
“I’ll be looking to fight in England again. Before I fought (David) Haye, nobody knew about me. Then everyone did and it’d be great to be back there.
“I’ve done things the hard way since my last defeat in 2013. I came back and had seven fights in twelve months – winning all of them against tough contenders in order to improve my ranking.
“I’m very glad to make this link-up with MTK Global. I know they’re the best managers out there and they’ll get me the chance to fight to become a world champion.”
Rumours Tony Bellew instigated this move and will have Mock walk him to the ring on Saturday night ahead of his fight with David Haye were flatly denied by a source close to ‘Lumumba Boy’.