Let’s go 10 rounds …
10. Misfits Boxing—the influencer boxing series spawned by British YouTuber Olajide Williams Olatunji, better known as KSI—isn’t for everyone, but this weekend’s show in Manchester, England, is intriguing. At the top of the bill, KSI, 1–0 as a professional boxer with several nonsanctioned matches mixed in, will take on Tommy Fury in a six-round fight. Fury (9–0), the younger brother of Tyson Fury, is coming off a decision win over Jake Paul last February.
For a U.S. audience, the co-main event is more interesting: Logan Paul, YouTuber, boxer and WWE superstar, will take on mixed martial artist Dillon Danis. The war of words between Paul and Danis has become deeply personal over the past few months, with Paul’s fiancé, Nina Agdal, getting dragged into it. At Thursday’s press conference, Paul, who has regularly referred to Danis as a “predator,” brought out Chris Hansen … best known as the host of NBC’s To Catch a Predator. Paul and Danis are boxing novices, so the action won’t be very good in the ring. But the buildup has been wild.
9. Credit to Top Rank for making a 160-pound unification fight between Janibek Alimkhanuly and Vincenzo Gualtieri this weekend. Alimkhanuly (14–0) and Gualtieri (21-0-1) are unknowns. The best way to build a star in the suddenly nondescript middleweight division is to establish one champion. This fight will move one fighter one step closer.
8. Representatives for former 130-pound titleholder Christina Linardatou petitioned the WBO this week to strip Alycia Baumgardner of her title and order a fight between Linardatou and the next highest-ranked challenger, according to a copy of the petition obtained by Sports Illustrated. In July, Baumgardner, the undisputed 130-pound champion, tested positive for at least one banned substance before facing Linardatou. Baumgardner won the fight by unanimous decision.
In the petition, Linardatou’s promoter, Lou DiBella, says attempts to get an adjudication from the Michigan state athletic commission have been largely ignored. Linda Douglas, who the petition identifies as the primary point of contact between the commission and promoters, resigned on Sept. 1, leaving the commission without anyone in oversight capacity.
Per the petition, “The MUCC has taken zero public steps to even acknowledge Ms. Baumgardner’s positive drug test, let alone take any corrective or adjudicative measures as of the date of this application. While Ms. Baumgarder is currently suspended, it is only because of the proactive measure taken by the ABC [Association of Boxing Commissions] detailed herein. The MUCC, which licensed Ms. Baumgardner to box Ms. Linardatou, has yet to suspend Ms. Baumgardner’s license issued by the state—a rudimentary step that would have at least indicated the state is taking some action.”
7. A real estate scam that has made national headlines has looped in at least one boxer. Cesar Piña and his wife, Jennifer, reportedly convinced investors to put money into properties that would be renovated and later flipped for as much as a 30% return. Lawsuits have revealed that Piña did not own many of the properties. Among those who invested was Richard Commey, a former 135-pound titleholder. Commey, who has not boxed since an 11th-round knockout loss to José Ramírez last March, lost in excess of $100,000, multiple sources told SI.
6. Pricing the Tyson Fury–Francis Ngannou fight at $79.99 is gross. No one involved in that promotion (Fury, Ngannou or promoters Top Rank and Queensbury Boxing) needs the money. The Saudis have taken care of that. Asking for $80 on top of the millions each will make for staging the fight is like hitting the jackpot and then grabbing pennies from the tin on the way out the door. Fury-Ngannou, already a grotesque mismatch, just shrank its potential audience even further.
5. Popped into the David Benavidez–Demetrius Andrade press conference Thursday. Benavidez-Andrade, officially for an interim 168-pound title, is a terrific fight, a clash of styles between a heavy-handed volume puncher (Benavidez) and a slick boxer with sneaky power (Andrade). The winner should be the unquestioned next opponent for Canelo Álvarez, who will return to the ring next May.
In recent weeks, video surfaced on social media of Benavidez looking on the heavier side. At the press conference, Benavidez looked big but far from what the hefty images made it appear. “People just talk s---,” said Benavidez. “You see me now, do I look 60 pounds overweight? I’m very comfortable, I’m very happy and I’m very excited for this fight.”
4. The WBA, unsurprisingly, has rejected Daniel Dubois’s appeal to overturn the result of his knockout loss to Oleksandr Usyk in August. Dubois had argued that the body shot that he landed in the fifth round was a clean punch, and Usyk should have been counted out. Referee Luis Pabon ruled that it was a low blow, giving Usyk more than four minutes to recover. In a statement, the WBA said Pabon “made the correct decision regarding the punch which he considered an accidental low blow.”
3. Frank Martin’s decision to walk away from an agreed-upon deal to face Shakur Stevenson last month, a deal that would have paid Martin in excess of $1 million, drew a strong rebuke from Stevenson. Keyshawn Davis, a 135-pound contender and a stablemate of Stevenson, has had his own back-and-forth with Martin. I asked Davis, who will fight in the co-main event of Alimkhanuly-Gualtieri on Saturday, for his opinion on how Martin handled the Davis talks.
“I was surprised that he walked away from a million dollars,” says Davis. “A million dollars? If they gave me a contract to fight Tyson Fury, I’m taking that s---. I can’t tell you what the man believes. If he really thought that he couldn’t win, little boy, you just walked away from a million dollars. That’s money you haven’t seen before. That still doesn’t make sense. He ain’t trying to fight.”
2. Former heavyweight titleholder Andy Ruiz Jr. was in attendance at the Benavidez-Andrade presser. Ruiz, who has not fought since defeating Luis Ortiz in September 2022, told reporters he was looking to take a tune-up fight sometime in the next few months before moving on to a long-discussed matchup with Deontay Wilder. Ruiz denied pricing himself out of the Wilder fight. Still, Ruiz has fought just three times since his career-defining win over Anthony Joshua in ’19, one of which was the contractually obligated rematch. He’s 34. Time is running out.
1. This week’s pick is in the junior middleweight division, where Tim Tszyu will take on Brian Mendoza in Australia. Tszyu (23–0) is a heavy favorite against Mendoza (22–2), who is coming off a come-from-behind knockout win over Sebastian Fundora last April. A lot of people are expecting a firefight, and a knockout. I think it goes the distance. Mendoza went the distance in a loss to Jesus Ramos and stood up to the power of Fundora. Tszyu to win on points is +270, per SI Sportsbook. I’d take it.