Press Release

Showtime announces fight schedule for first half of 2018

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PRESS RELEASE 


NEW YORK (Jan. 24, 2018) – SHOWTIME Sports and Premier Boxing Champions unveiled the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING television lineup for the first half of 2018 in an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind Boxing Upfront at Cipriani’s in New York City on Wednesday.
Legendary ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. introduced the matchups of 10 marquee events featuring 12 world champions, 14 undefeated fighters and 12 World Championship fights across the first six months of 2018.  Among the fighters in attendance included Deontay Wilder, Danny Garcia, Jermall Charlo, Jermell Charlo, Mikey Garcia, Erislandy Lara, Adrien Broner, Keith Thurman, Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares and Errol Spence Jr.
Showtime Boxing

Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

2018 Event By Event
Jan. 20: Spence vs. Peterson – Barclays Center in Brooklyn
One of boxing’s most highly regarded young champions, unbeaten IBF Welterweight World Champion Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs) kicked off the schedule with an eighth-round TKO of former two-division world champion and top-10 ranked welterweight Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs) in Spence first title defense.  In the co-feature, undefeated IBF Lightweight World Champion Robert Easter Jr. (20-0, 14 KOs) won a close, split-decision victory over former world champion Javier Fortuna(33-1-1, 23 KOs) in an action-packed fight.
 
Feb. 17: Garcia vs. Rios – Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas
Two-division world champion Danny Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) returns to the ring to begin his quest toward another welterweight world championship.  Garcia’s long reigns at 140 and 147 pounds ended last March in a close decision loss to unified champion Keith Thurman.  Now, Garcia will challenge tough former world championBrandon Rios (34-3-1, 25 KOs), an all-action fighter who has fought the best in the sport. In the co-main event, boxing’s youngest world champion, 21-year-old David Benavidez (19-0, 17 KOs), will make his first title defense in a rematch against top contender Ronald Gavril (18-2, 14 KOs). The super middleweights fought a thrilling fight last September that ended in a controversial decision for Benavidez.
 
March 3: Wilder vs. Ortiz – From Barclays Center in Brooklyn
The revival of the heavyweight world championship division continues. America’s undefeated, No. 1 heavyweight, WBC World Champion Deontay Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs),will face fellow unbeaten challenger Luis Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs) in an anticipated matchup of consensus top-5 ranked heavyweights. Wilder has held the coveted green belt since January 2015 and made six successful title defenses. Now, Wilder faces a highly skilled Cuban pugilist with big punching power in Ortiz. The co-main event will feature former super welterweight champion and top middleweight contender Jermall Charlo (26-0, 20 KOs) taking on once-beaten contender Hugo Centeno Jr. (26-1, 14 KOs)for the Interim WBC Middleweight World Championship.
March 10: Garcia vs. Lipinets – Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio
One of the top pound-for-pound fighters in boxing, Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs) will attempt to make history by capturing a world title in a fourth weight class. Standing in his way is unbeaten power-puncher and IBF Jr. Welterweight Champion Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs), who is making his first title defense. Two 140-pound titles will be on the line as two-division champion Rances Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs)looks to become the first Cuban boxer to ever win world titles in three different weight classes when he faces Kirly Relikh (21-2, 9 KOs) in a rematch of their controversial May bout, this time for the vacant WBA Super Lightweight title.
 
April 7: Lara vs. Hurd – Location TBD
WBA World Champion Erislandy Lara (25-2-2, 14 KOs) and IBF World ChampionJarrett Hurd (21-0, 15 KOs) will meet to unify titles in a defining moment for the 154-pound division. In 2017, SHOWTIME televised eight matchups featuring all of the top-five ranked super welterweight champions and challengers in an unofficial tournament. This unification match will pit the technical wizardry of Cuba’s Lara against the strength and determination of Hurd.
 
April 21: Broner vs. Figueroa – From Barclays Center in Brooklyn
Four-division world champion Adrien Broner (33-3, 24 KOs) has established himself not only as one of the biggest draws in the sport, but as a fighter who is always willing to face the toughest competition. That will continue when he takes on undefeated former world champion Omar Figueroa (27-0-1, 19 KOs), an all-action brawler who never takes a step backward, as the former champions meet in a WBC Super Lightweight Final Eliminator.  The co-main event will feature one of boxing’s brightest young stars in Gervonta Davis (19-0, 18 KOs) as the 23-year-old undefeated former champion looks to regain his title.
 
May 19: Thurman Defends Worlds Titles – From Barclays Center in Brooklyn
Keith Thurman is the only unified 147-pound world champion and the consensus No. 1-ranked fighter in boxing’s preeminent weight division. The undefeated Thurman(28-0, 22 KOs) has held the WBA title since 2015. He claimed the WBC belt with a decisive win over previously undefeated Danny Garcia last March in the most watched bout of the year, a presentation of SHOWTIME Boxing on CBS. Following an elbow injury that required surgery, Thurman will return to action against an opponent to be determined.
May 19: Stevenson vs. Jack – From Canada
WBC Light Heavyweight World Champion Adonis Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) has scored knockouts in six of his eight title defenses and will face perhaps his toughest challenge when he battles two-division champion Badou Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs).Jack captured a 175-pound world title in his light heavyweight debut in August and relinquished the belt in order to immediately make this matchup of top-five ranked light heavyweights.
 
June 9: Santa Cruz vs. Mares II – From Los Angeles
After their 2015 title showdown brought the Staples Center crowd to its feet, WBA Featherweight Champion Leo Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KOs) and three-division world champion Abner Mares (31-2-1, 15 KOs) will meet again in their shared hometown of Los Angeles. Santa Cruz, who also has held titles in three divisions for the past six years, remains one of the most prolific fighters in the sport today. Mares, a former world champion at bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight, aims to exact revenge after the close majority decision loss to Santa Cruz in 2015. This high-stakes matchup between consensus top-five ranked featherweights will give further clarity to a stacked division that includes Gary Russell Jr., Carl Frampton and Lee Selby.  The consensus No. 1 fighter at 154 pounds, Jermell Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs) will defend his WBC Super Welterweight World Championship in the co-feature against an opponent to be determined.
June 16: Spence Defends Welterweight Title – From Dallas
Fresh off a dominating performance against a top-10 former welterweight champion, pound-for-pound great Errol Spence Jr. (23-0, 20 KOs) returns to his hometown of Dallas for the second defense of the IBF Welterweight World Championship.
Radio presenter and television personality Charlamagne the God hosted Wednesday’s event and spoke to each fighter in attendance. Here are some highlights of what the fighters had to say:
Deontay Wilder
“Ever since I’ve been a little boy, I’ve always been doubted no matter what. As a grown man now, I’m still being doubted. I like proving people wrong. There’s nothing like proving somebody wrong.
“As I see it, I’m 39-0 with 38 KOs. Every time I promise I’m going to knock somebody out, I’ve done that. Come March 3, I promise I’m going to knock him out too.”
Luis Ortiz
“There’s an opportunity for a dreamer and March 3 is going to be a great fight.”
Jermall Charlo
“My ideal goal is to show everyone why I’m the best in the world at 160 pounds.”
Keith Thurman
“2017 was a great year. Unifying the WBA and the WBC titles was a dream come true. Since then, we had the elbow surgery but 2018 is a get-back year. I’m truly looking forward to being back in the ring May 19. After that, I’m going to bring a more exciting fight later on this year. There are a lot of contenders and champions gunning for my number one spot but I’m going to have to let them know that I’ll be right here at the top.”
Mikey Garcia
“Hopefully I get to accomplish this goal of winning the title in four different weight divisions on March 10. It’s an honor to be included on such a short list. This only opens up the doors to bigger fights and bigger things for my career. March 10 is just another small step closer to achieving my ultimate goal, which is to become the best fighter of this generation.”
Sergey Lipinets
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be on SHOWTIME and fight in this event. I will give my best before I get in the ring and when I get in the ring. I guarantee it will be a war and a great fight and you won’t be disappointed.”
Adrien Broner
“I’m trying to outshine everybody. I have to go crazy. I have to rematch Mikey. I have to fight Shawn Porter. This fight is the start of the turn-up. I’m ready. Let’s get it on. He’s undefeated, I’m trying to give him his first loss.”
Gervonta Davis
“Young people make mistakes but the greats learn from it. I believe I’m the most skillful young guy that’s fighting on TV right now and in 2018, I want to show it.”
Jarrett Hurd
“It’s time to put everyone on notice who the best 154-pounder is. I know a win over Erislandy Lara will put me there so I’m coming for that number one spot.”
Leo Santa Cruz
“The fans can expect a full-action fight just like the first one, maybe even better. I know Abner Mares changed his trainer and Robert Garcia is a great trainer who will bring the best out of him. But we’re also smart. My dad is a great trainer who will bring the best out of me. It will be a great fight.”
Abner Mares
“It’s been two years since I fought Leo Santa Cruz and all I’ve been thinking about is redemption. With Team Garcia, you’ve seen the change. If they think I’m going to fight the same way, they are in for a surprise.”
Jermell Charlo
“I’m going to stay fly, get my body count up and let that lion roar.”
Badou Jack
“It wasn’t my choice to relinquish the title, it was in the contract. Floyd [Mayweather] told me he would get me a bigger and better fight against Adonis Stevenson for the WBC title so I couldn’t pass that up.”

(Feature photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME)

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About Danny Z

Danny Z is a contributing writer/reporter for Under The Hand Wraps. He, along with his co-host Michael Shepherd, host the weekly podcast, The Last Round, every week from Southern California. Danny Z has contributed to numerous sports' websites and has been covering boxing events for the past four years. He is also the founder of Z-BoxingNews -- a YouTube channel that delivers fighter interviews, workouts and more in relation to the sport of boxing. Follow Danny Z's work here at Under The Hand Wraps, his podcast work at The Last Round, and stay up to date with his work by following him on Twitter @DannyZ_Boxing.

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