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Ten rounds while looking for the mute button to keep any Crawford-Spence talk off my timeline …
10. The biggest story this week was the public collapse of negotiations between Jose Ramirez and Regis Prograis, who have been ordered by the WBC to fight for the 140-pound title Prograis won last month. After initially ordering a 70-30 split on any purse bid—Ramirez’s promoter, Top Rank, and Prograis’s representatives at Probellum do not have a working relationship, making a bid the only way to negotiate a deal—the WBC bumped it to 65-35. That wasn’t enough for Ramirez, a former champion with a larger profile than Prograis, who elected to pass on the fight.
On Thursday, I asked Ramirez to explain his decision.
“I have minimums with Top Rank,” Ramirez says. “They exceed $1 million. If we can make a deal that reaches $1 million, $1.5 million, I’ll take the fight. But the 35% is too risky. That could mean something like $300,000. It makes no sense."
While Top Rank is moving ahead with a plan for Ramirez to face Richard Commey, a former 135-pound titleholder, Ramirez made it clear that if Prograis’s side can come up with an offer that meets what he believes is a reasonable asking price, he is still willing to do the fight.
“If they make me an offer that exceeds my minimum by $1, I’ll fight,” says Ramirez. “It doesn’t even have to exceed it. Just guarantee me I’ll make what my minimum is and I’ll fight.”
9. With Ramirez out, the WBC has ruled that Prograis may take an optional title defense. His next mandatory fight is Teofimo Lopez, the former 135-pound champion who is coming off a competitive win over Sandor Martin this month. In a text message to SI, Lopez says he wants the fight. “Of course man!” wrote Lopez. “What kind of question is that? I’d like to be a two-time undisputed world champion and the first male boxer to do it in boxing history.” Still, with a purse split that will likely be similar to what was offered Ramirez, don’t count on that fight happening, either.
8. Absolutely gutted by the passing this week of Steve Smoger, the Hall of Fame referee who in recent years had successfully transitioned into a referee/judging analyst for broadcast networks. Smoger was a fighters ref, one willing to give boxers a chance to fight their way out of trouble. In 2007, Smoger was the third man in for Jermain Taylor’s middleweight title defense against Kelly Pavlik. Pavlik was knocked down and hurt in the second round. Another referee might have stopped it. Smoger didn’t. Pavlik recovered and proceeded to knockout Taylor in the seventh round, the signature win of his career.
As an analyst, a position he held recently with DAZN, Smoger was unafraid to criticize his former colleagues when it was called for, a rarity amongst ex-officials in any sport. Smoger was as well-liked as anyone in boxing. His kindness and good nature outside of the ring defined his legacy as much as anything he did it. Condolences to his family.
7. It’s embarrassing watching Gervonta Davis continue to baselessly accuse Ryan Garcia of using performance enhancers. Davis first accused Garcia of PED use earlier this month when he noted a picture of Garcia standing next to Tim Tszyu, a 154-pound contender. Last week boxing’s top tweeter-and-deleter used Garcia’s decision to forego a stay-busy fight next month as an excuse to quote tweet an internet troll who suggested Garcia’s decision to skip the fight was because he was “cycling off the juice.” For what it’s worth, both Garcia and Golden Boy Promotions told SI they are on board for advanced testing for the Davis fight.
6. Savannah Marshall told Sky Sports this week that she had activated a rematch clause with Claressa Shields, who defeated Marshall in October in a well-received all-women’s card in London. Technically, Marshall does not have a rematch clause; Boxxer, the promoter of the event, does and Shields’s team has been made aware of the intention to exercise it.
Shields is open to a rematch, sources told SI, but members of her team, which includes former HBO executive Mark Taffet, would prefer both fighters take other fights before doing it again. Shields intends to box in March or April—Natasha Jonas, the unified 154-pound champion, is Shields’s top target—before returning to the Professional Fighters League for at least one MMA fight next summer. An intriguing fight for Marshall could be Franchon Crews-Dezurn, the undisputed 168-pound champions—and close friend of Shields.
5. Has anyone else become indifferent to a Terence Crawford-Errol Spence Jr. fight? Spence revealed on the Showtime broadcast last weekend that his next fight will be pushed back to “May or June,” the result of a minor car accident Spence was involved in earlier this month. If that happens—it’s been widely reported Spence will defend his titles against longtime rival Keith Thurman—it means that a Crawford fight, if it can be negotiated, wouldn’t happen to the fall. Crawford will be pushing 36 by then while Spence, a career-long welterweight, may be ready to move up. Spence-Crawford will be a big fight whenever it happens. But it officially will never be what it could have been.
4. Shoutout to Larry Goldberg, the promoter of record for Boxing Insider’s Holiday Fight Night, for putting on as terrific show at Sony Hall in New York on Wednesday. Club shows don’t get the attention of some of the bigger cards, but they are lively, entertaining and vital to the growth of the sport. Wednesday’s show featured former prospect Anthony Sims (who picked up a win over Antonio Todd), 115-pound contender Sulem Urbina (who lost a competitive decision to Indeya Smith) and flyweight prospect Andy Dominguez (who improved to 9-0 with a win over Marvin Solano). Goldberg, who is being assisted by Lou DiBella, says he has two more shows in the works for February and April.
3. Jermall Charlo has fought just once since September 2020. That’s his prerogative, of course, and Charlo was dealing with an injury that scrapped a planned fight against Maciej Sulecki last June. But the fact that the WBC is simply allowing Charlo to hold its 160-pound title hostage is ridiculous. Charlo should have to defend his title against Carlos Adames, the interim titleholder, or be stripped. If the WBC wants to be taken seriously as a sanctioning body, it should act like it.
2. Phenomenal performance by lightweight prospect Frank Martin last weekend. Facing Michel Rivera, an undefeated, highly-ranked contender, Martin dominated, dropping Rivera in the seventh round en route to a lopsided decision. Martin, who is promoted (well, I might add) by Errol Spence Jr., says he is ready for a title shot at 135-pounds. Chris Colbert, a former 130-pound titleholder who has been calling out Martin, feels like a natural next step.
1. Bob Arum—or whoever is tweeting for the 91-year old Arum—said this week he had a “wonderful meeting” with undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney and his father/trainer Bill Haney and that they are “ready for a huge 2023.” Interestingly, Arum did not specifically mention a title defense against Vasyl Lomachenko, a proposed matchup that has caused some friction between Haney and Top Rank. Haney wants the fight to take place in March before Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, while Top Rank seems to prefer to push the fight to May. Hopefully the recent dialogue between Haney and Top Rank will smooth over any issues and