Two-division champion talks about Saturday's fight vs Adrian Granados, reflects on a tough title loss to Robert Easter Jr., and promises he will still make history as the first Dominican-born three-division world champion.

Javier Fortuna nurtures dreams of becoming the first Dominican-born three-division world champion. He has claimed titles at 126 pounds and 130 pounds and would love to do the same at 135 pounds. But first he’s going up in weight to take care of business at 140 pounds.

Fortuna (33-2-1, 23 KOs) will battle Adrian Granados (18-6-2, 12 KOs) in a 10-round, 140-pound special attraction on the undercard of Errol Spence’s 147-pound world title defense against Carlos Ocampo this Saturday on a Showtime-televised card (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) at The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.

Fortuna has twice missed weight for world championship fights, most recently failing in January to make the 135-pound limit for a disputed split-decision loss to unbeaten lightweight titlist Robert Easter Jr.

Fortuna won an interim 126-pound title by unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Patrick Hyland in 2012 but missed weight and was stripped before his first defense against Miguel Zamudio in 2013.

Fortuna joined countryman Joan Guzman as a two-division title winner in May 2015 with a unanimous decision over Bryan Vasquez for a vacant 130-pound crown. He was dethroned in June 2016 following an 11th-round TKO loss to Jason Sosa.

Fortuna-Granados is happening within a wide-open division featuring champions Jose Ramirez (WBC) and Kiryl Relikh (WBA), interim titleholder Regis Prograis, and former champs Sergey Lipinets and Terry Flanagan.

How often do you think about your loss to Easter, having fallen short of your goal of becoming the first Dominican-born three-division champion?

That’s still a goal and something that’s always on my mind. I’m even more motivated and determined after the Easter fight that I can do it. No one can ever take that dream away.

With this fight being at 140, is that where your future lies?

I’ll probably be stronger at 140 pounds for this fight, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not a strong fighter at 135. No matter how I perform in this fight, I’m going back down to 135 and possibly even 130 if I have the proper amount of time to train.

Why do you feel you missed weight for Easter?

We didn’t get the final notice until about four or five weeks out. I was still in the Dominican Republic at the time, so I was about 15 pounds over the limit.

By the time I arrived, it was in the dead of winter [in America.] Everything was rushed and disorganized. If I get a fair shake, time-limit-wise, to prepare, then I know I can win a title in either at 135 or 130.

On June 16, I know I’m gonna beat Adrian Granados, and I know that, eventually, I’m going to win another world title and become a three-division champion. That’s just my mentality and it always will be. Two-division World Champion Javier Fortuna

Strategically, what was the difference between winning and losing against Easter?

I haven’t watched the fight, but I thought it was going to be more of a chess match. The game plan was to counter punch, and I found it pretty easy to touch Easter.

Although I felt like the more effective punches were landed by me, I still believe there are many things I could have done differently. I thought I won the fight. But I lost, so, now, I’m facing an uphill climb.

Are you concerned at all with Granados’ height advantage [at 5-foot-9 to your 5-foot-6] or will already having faced the nearly 6-foot Easter serve as a benefit to you?

I already have the style and the skill to beat Granados, but I was able to neutralize Easter’s height, so the experience that I gained against Easter will be valuable since Granados is shorter.

Will you be strong enough at this weight to overcome the size and brawling style of Granados, which troubled Adrien Broner and Shawn Porter?

I’m not concerned with this question of Granados being the bigger man. On fight night, I’ll be the bigger guy. I also picked up a couple of things from each of Granados’ fights with Broner and Porter.

Neither Broner or Porter hold a candle to my boxing technique. Porter’s a former football player who doesn’t have my boxing IQ, and I believe I hit harder than Broner does at this weight.

I’m not looking for the knockout, but I believe it can happen. I know that I have the power to knock out anybody at 130, 135 or 140.

Is there anything to be gained by watching Granados’ unanimous decisions over southpaws Gaku Takahashi [September 2015] and Ariel Vasquez [July 2016]?

Maybe, but that doesn’t affect or factor into my strategy. I think Adrian Granados is a warrior. I like his boxing style. But the fight breaks down in my favor simply because I am a better fighter.

Even if Granados’ entire career had been against southpaws, my skills are different than anyone he’s ever faced. Adrian Granados surprises a lot of people because they don’t respect him and try to knock him out.

When that doesn’t work, he’s still there battling. I know this and can simply out box him with the timing on my jab, speed, power and movement. When I put it all together, it’ll be very difficult for Granados.  

Do you have a prediction?

On June 16, I know I’m gonna beat Adrian Granados, and I know that, eventually, I’m going to win another world title and become a three-division champion. That’s just my mentality and it always will be.

For a closer look at Javier Fortuna, check out his fighter page.

After pulling out a majority decision win after 15 month's outside the ring, veteran heavyweight wants to jump back in against contenders Gerald Washington or Dominic Breazeale.

Heavyweight contender Travis Kauffman literally wants bigger challenges—specifically former title challengers Gerald Washington (6-foot-6) or Dominic Breazeale (6-foot-7)—following Sunday’s majority decision victory over late replacement Scott Alexander at Pioneer Event Center in Lancaster, California.

The 6-foot-3, 242 ½-pound Kauffman (32-2, 23 KOs) ended a 15-month ring absence and swapped first round knockdowns against the 5-foot-11, 224-pound Alexander (14-3-2, 8 KOs), who replaced left-handed former two-division champion Antonio Tarver on 10 days notice due to Tarver’s boxing licensing issues.

“I want to fight for a title against the best out there, but in order to do that, you’ve got to beat guys like Gerald Washington or Dominic Breazeale. I’d have more time to prepare for each of them, and I’m a lot better against the bigger, taller guys compared to smaller, faster guys,” said Kauffman, 32, who floored Alexander with a right hand before hitting the deck from a left hook.

“Where Breazeale’s 6-foot-7, and Washington is 6-foot-6, the difference would be preparing for the bigger guy and being more prepared for either one of them. Travis would be the underdog, but he’s always been asking for fights like that,” said Kauffman’s father and trainer, Marshall Kauffman.

“Bottom line is Travis wants to fight for a world title, and Gerald Washington and Dominic Breazeale are [the same dimensions as world champions] Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder. So if you can’t beat the Gerald Washingtons or the Dominic Breazeales, how are you going to beat the Anthony Joshuas or the Deontay Wilders?”

Washington (19-2-1, 12 KOs) earned a 10-round unanimous decision over 6-foot-6 John Wesley Nofire (20-2, 16 KOs) of Miami, Florida in the co-main event Sunday. He rebounded from consecutive fifth- and eighth-round stoppage losses to world champion Deontay Wilder and contender Jarrell Miller last year.

Sitting ringside as a commentator was Breazeale, who is the mandatory challenger for Wilder’s title.

“Not a lot of people know this, but I broke my left foot a few weeks ago doing sprints with NFL players and suffering a stress fracture,” said Kauffman. “I ran six miles and that’s when it felt really bad. But I want to make no excuses, get back in the ring, and I’d be much better prepared for a fight against either Gerald Washington or Dominic Breazeale.”

For a closer look at Kauffman vs Alexander, check out our fight page.

See More: Sat, Jul 28, 2018

Garcia vs Easter Jr.

SAT, JUL 28, 2018 Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

Garcia vs Easter

0:29 • Jul 16, 2018

Lightweight World Champions Mikey Garcia and Robert Easter Jr. meet in a 135-pound title unification bout July 28, 2018 on Showtime.

Mikey Garcia photo
Robert Easter Jr photo

Lightweight World Champions Mikey Garcia and Robert Easter Jr. meet in a 135-pound title unification in Los Angeles.

    • Record
    • Mikey Garcia 38-0-0
    • Robert Easter Jr 21-0-0
    • KOs (KO %)
    • Mikey Garcia 30 (79%)
    • Robert Easter Jr 14 (67%)
    • Weight
    • Mikey Garcia 135 lbs (61.36 kg)
    • Robert Easter Jr 135 lbs (61.36 kg)
    • Height
    • Mikey Garcia 5'6" (1.68 m)
    • Robert Easter Jr 5'11" (1.8 m)
    • Reach
    • Mikey Garcia 68" (173 cm)
    • Robert Easter Jr 76" (193 cm)
    • Stance
    • Mikey Garcia Orthodox
    • Robert Easter Jr Orthodox
    • Age
    • Mikey Garcia 30
    • Robert Easter Jr 27
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Never lacking confidence WBC super welterweight champion says he's the "best fighter at 154 hands down" as he eyes a unification bout with Jarrett Hurd.

WBC champion Jermell Charlo declared himself “the best fighter at 154 hands down” before his majority decision victory over former titleholder Austin Trout Saturday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The 28-year-old Charlo (31-0, 15 KOs) will get an argument from unified counterpart Jarrett Hurd whose first title defense was a 10th-round TKO of Trout last October.

It was the first time that Trout had been stopped in his career, which included matches against Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez, Erislandy Lara and Jermall Charlo, Charlo’s twin brother.

“I will definitely knock out Jermell Charlo, and in dramatic fashion,” said Hurd, who defeated Erislandy Lara by unanimous decision in a title unification match in April.

“Watching the fight (against Trout), I think Jermell won by a close unanimous decision, but he showed a lot of flaws. My coach [Nesto Rodriguez] says that I’ll stop Charlo in the 10th round, so the 10th round it is. Jermell Charlo will not make it 12 round with me. Trust me, I’ve got this.”

Charlo said Trout fought to survive.

“Trout will tell you who will win our fight. Trout moved, and that’s why he survived 12 rounds. If Hurd stands in front of me and takes those shots, he’s done. I’m the full package and the best fighter at 154 hands down. By the end of this year, the boxing world will know that.”

Charlo vanquished his third consecutive lefty by beating Trout. It coincides with his move to trainer Derrick James, who also trains welterweight champion Errol Spence. Charlo often spars with Spence, who is a southpaw.

“Training camp was great with world champion Errol Spence,” Charlo said. “We had a bunch of undefeated fighters. I stopped a few, dropped a few, but that's not the name of the game.”

Spence makes his second defense against unbeaten Carlos Ocampo this Saturday at The Ford Center at The Star, in Frisco, Texas.

“We keep each other and our tools sharp and on point. It gets really competitive, especially when somebody gets hit hard,” said Spence. “At first, you’re going light, and then somebody gets cracked, and you’re like, ‘All right, it’s on, now.’ We dominate top-level competition. Who else is getting knockouts like us?”

Charlo also mentioned WBO counterpart Jamie Munguia, who dethroned Sadam Ali by fourth-round TKO last month.

“They’ve got Jarrett Hurd and a new guy [Mungia] who beat Sadam Ali for the WBO title, but Austin Trout would beat [Mungia]. I’m trying to get every belt at 154,” Charlo said.

“My stablemate [Spence] is at 147, and I know he wants to eventually touch that 154, so we’ll never fight each other. So with that being said, let me get what I can, right now, and then leave the weight class for him.”

For a closer look at Charlo vs Trout, check out our fight page.

WBA featherweight champion says WBC champ Gary Russell Jr., WBO titleholder Oscar Valdez, IBF champion Josh Warrington are all compelling matchups—as is a trilogy fight with former champion Carl Frampton, the only man to defeat Santa Cruz.

Featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz won the battle of Los Angeles—again—when he scored a hard-fought decision over Abner Mares at Staples Center on Saturday night.

The victory further cemented him as one of the best boxers at 126 pounds and opened up a slew of possible matchups in one of the most talent laden divisions in boxing.

“I am ready to unify with any of the other champions,” said the 29-year-old Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs). “There’s Josh Warrington, Gary Russell, Oscar Valdez and even a third fight with Carl Frampton.”

Santa Cruz-Mares was declared an eliminator for the WBC crown held by Russell Jr., a 30-year-old southpaw who made his third title defense last month with a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Joseph Diaz Jr..

“I fought Gary as an amateur. We both went to the finals. He beat me, but it was a good fight. I’m a lot better now and I believe I can beat him. I know the tactics I'd use. Hopefully I can get my rematch and I can say that I beat him. Gary Russell’s really fast, but timing beats speed,” said Santa Cruz.

“I spar with fighters who are really fast, and I would do good against him because I know how to pressure. You saw when Joseph Diaz pressured and worked the body, Gary Russell slowed down and wasn’t throwing with as much power and his speed wasn’t there anymore. But when Joseph stopped, that’s when Gary Russell came on. So with pressure and working the body, I think I could adjust and beat Gary Russell.”

Santa Cruz, Mares and Russell are among several top 126-pounders competing in a deep weight class, with Oscar Valdez defending his WBO crown by unanimous decision over ex-champ Scott Quigg in March, and Frampton winning a clash of former champions over Nonito Donaire in April.

“I want to make that third fight with Carl Frampton,” said Santa Cruz. “He beat Nonito Donaire, so we can make the third fight if the people want it.”

The Mexican-born Valdez (24-0, 19 KOs) is another potential candidate, given Quigg, of England, lost a 122-pound split-decision in a unification bout to Frampton in February 2016 prior to Frampton’s win over Santa Cruz that July.

“Oscar Valdez is a Mexican who comes forward and throws a lot of punches,” said Santa Cruz. “I think that would be an entertaining fight. I would have to be careful because he does throw big punches, but I have a response for everything, so I want that fight, too.”

Santa Cruz also mentioned Warrington (27-0, 6 KOs), who last month dethroned Lee Selby as IBF champion following a split-decision.

For a closer look at Santa Cruz vs Mares II, check out our fight page.

In the Battle for LA, there was a clear rooting favorite at the STAPLES Center on Saturday night, and Leo Santa Cruz didn't disappoint his fan base.

Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 knockouts) once again earned a decision over Abner Mares, a fellow Mexican multi-divisional champion who has made a home for himself in the Los Angeles area. Scores were unanimous for Santa Cruz -- 115-113 from Ray Danseco, 116-112 from Steve Weisfeld, and 117-111 from Zac Young. The fight seemed closer than their first affair in August of 2015 that saw Santa Cruz win by majority decision. Santa Cruz retained his WBA belt at 126 pounds in front of 12,505 fans.

The two combined for 2,038 punches Saturday night -- seven more punches than the two combined to throw in their first fight. Santa Cruz landed 357 of 1,061 punches and Mares landed 226 of 997 in the rematch.

“It was a great fight," Santa Cruz said after the win. "Another war like we said. I had to be smarter. I had to do what I had to do to win the fight."

It was a great fight. Another war like we said. I had to be smarter. I had to do what I had to do to win the fight. Leo Santa Cruz, on his rematch victory over Abner Mares

Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs) fought a better gameplan than the first fight, finding the mark with shorter shots in between Santa Cruz's wider shots in the early goings. Mares fought at the pace that favors Santa Cruz and held his own, building an early lead according to many ringside.

The third round saw both guys wobbled by each other's offense. First Mares was buzzed by a Santa Cruz combination and then came right back with his own offense. Santa Cruz then felt the power of Mares following a wicked combination.

Santa Cruz landed his best shots when he caught Mares moving backwards when Mares was done throwing a combination. Both dug heavy shots to the body.

Santa Cruz began to use his length in the fifth round, catching Mares with straight right hands from the outside. Mares and Santa Cruz traded a couple shots behind the head.

The tide started to head in Santa Cruz's favor in the second half of the fight as the pace seemed to wear on the 32-year-old Mares just enough for there to be more separation.

Santa Cruz suffered a cut near his right eye in the ninth round but it didn't bother him.

“A cut is a cut, it’s just blood," Santa Cruz said. "If anything, it brings more hunger out of me."

Santa Cruz started to pull away in the championship rounds. Mares had much less heat on his punches and was fluttering away with combinations. Santa Cruz was catching Mares flusher with his shots and doing more damage, which likely helped on the scorecards.

Santa Cruz won two out of the last three rounds on all three judges scorecards, though he was ahead on all three scorecards at the halfway point.

Santa Cruz turns 30 years old in August and has been in some hellacious wars since first facing Mares in 2015. The featherweight division is loaded -- a rubber match with Carl Frampton would be a big fight, as would a matchup with the speedy Gary Russell Jr., who holds the WBC belt at 126 pounds. Santa Cruz says he is ready.

"I want Gary Russell," Santa Cruz said. "Let’s unify.  I’m not scared of anybody.  Whoever I get, let’s go. I’m ready."

Mares doesn't lose much by not coming away with a title. He's still a relevant name that guarantees action whenever he fights and shouldn't have a hard time finding a meaningful fight in the near future.

“Without a doubt, Leo is the number one featherweight in the world," Mares said of the man he shared the ring with for 24 rounds. "I say before the fight that the winner of this would be the best in the world. I take my hat off to him."

Santa Cruz vs Mares 2

Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares go toe-to-toe. (Stephanie Trapp / Showtime)

Jermell Charlo came to the ring Saturday night at STAPLES Center wearing a lion head, and left the ring with another good name on his ledger.

Charlo outmuscled Austin Trout to the tune of a 12-round majority decision in the co-featured bout on the Leo Santa Cruz-Abner Mares fight. Charlo retained his WBC 154-pound title with the win on scorecards 118-108, 115-111, and a controversial 113-113 score from judge Fernando Villarreal (who had also inexplicably scored McWilliams Arroyo-Carlos Cuadras a draw).

“I went to fish, I tried to get some trout but I couldn’t catch him on the hook," Charlo said after the fight. "I know they’re used to seeing me knock boys out but at least they saw me take care of business."

The fight opened with some heavy boos as both fighters looked to establish their offense. Charlo was able to earn the nod in the first two rounds with spurts of effective aggression. He landed lead rights and then Trout would tie him up, keeping him from landing follow-ups.

The fight picked up in the third round as Charlo landed a right hand that hurt Trout, and a follow-up didn't land cleanly but resulted in Trout being put on the canvas. Referee Jack Reiss ruled it a knockdown, and Trout was in a big hole early on.

Jermell just seemed to be too strong for Trout, using that strength on the inside to push Trout out of a clinch and land big shots that bothered Trout. Charlo bullied Trout in the fourth and fifth rounds, landing big right hands out of a clinch.

Trout had a bit of a renaissance in the sixth round, landed a couple flashy combinations that may have edged him the round. Charlo got a little frustrated in the seventh by Trout's veteran tactics, another close round.

I know they’re used to seeing me knock boys out but at least they saw me take care of business Jermell Charlo, on his victory over Austin Trout

The ninth round saw Trout visiting the canvas in the opening seconds, turning the fight back in Charlo's favor with one punch. Trout seemed okay but weary of Charlo's power.

Trout had a good showing in the 10th round, tagging Charlo with a four-punch combination before taking a Charlo punch with Trout between the ropes. Reiss warned Charlo for the foul and it seemed to stall Trout's offense.

The pace slowed in the championship rounds with Charlo doing slightly better work. Somehow he walked away only with a majority decision despite scoring two knockdowns.

Where does Charlo go from here? A fight against Austin Hurd, who stopped Trout in a 10-round war last year, would be magical and a fight between arguably the two best 154-pounders in the world. Though Charlo was booed handily by the crowd when conducting his post-fight interview, Charlo can obviously make some big-money fights.

“Trout will tell you who will win that fight," Charlo said of a potential matchup against Hurd. "Trout moved, that’s why he survived 12.  If Hurd sat in front of me and took those shots he’s done.”

Trout still showed he can be a slick fighter and he's taken both Charlos the distance -- the only fighter who can say that. At 32, it's unlikely Trout hangs them up as the 154-pound division is stacked and there's still money to be made.

“Both Jermall and Jermell are really good," Trout said afterwards. "They are the future.  But I’m not done yet.  I’m not defined by my results.  I’m defined by the risks that I take.  I’ve taken the risks and I’ve stood my ground every time against giants and killers.  And I’m still here."

Charlo vs Trout

Jermell Charlo lands a hard left on Austin Trout. (Stephanie Trapp / Showtime)

Scott Alexander couldn’t say no.

Travis Kauffman vs Scott Alexander

Travis Kauffman and Scott Alexander pose for photos following their weigh-in. (Leo Wilson / Premier Boxing Champions)

The veteran heavyweight had just 10 days notice for a 10-round fight against a skilled, experienced opponent who has fought a significantly higher level of opposition than him. When that call came to battle Travis Kaufman, however, Alexander didn’t hesitate to accept it.

Chances to fight in the main event of a nationally televised card don’t come often, particularly for largely unknown boxers not connected to the sport’s power brokers. Alexander (14-2-2, 8 KOs), who grew up in South Central Los Angeles, and Kauffman (31-2, 23 KOs, 1 NC), of Reading, Pennsylvania, will headline a tripleheader presented by Premier Boxing Champions on FS1 and FOX Deportes on Sunday night from Pioneer Event Center in Lancaster, California (8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT).

“You can’t turn down no TV main event, PBC and everything,” Alexander said. “There’s no pressure on me. This is the fight game. When I started boxing, with me having no amateur experience, I never thought of myself being a Floyd Mayweather, going 100-0. I thought of myself as a champion who’s gonna learn every lesson from whether it’s a loss or a draw or whatever. Every time you step in the ring, you learn from it. I’ll be one of those guys who’s gonna write my own path. I never turned down any fight.”

As abnormal as it is to take this type of fight on less than two weeks’ notice, nothing about Alexander’s life in boxing has been conventional.

Alexander was a fifth-year senior at Southern California’s Rancho Verde High School 10 years ago, when his football coach, Pete Duffy, told him about “All-American Heavyweights.”

Every time you step in the ring, you learn from it. I’ll be one of those guys who’s gonna write my own path. I never turned down any fight. Scott Alexander

That well-funded program, developed by late television executive Michael King, aimed to turn athletes from other sports into boxers. Former IBF heavyweight champion Charles Martin and contender Dominic Breazeale are among the alums from the defunct venture that was based in Carson, California.

Alexander was a promising defensive end, but he had attended eight high schools in the Los Angeles area and would’ve had to go to junior college to have a shot at earning a scholarship. He was homeless temporarily during the summer before his senior year, had moved around a lot and thus jumped at the opportunity to become part of King’s program. 

The 29-year-old Alexander credits “All-American Heavyweights” for helping save his life.

“Who knows what would’ve happened to me without that?” Alexander said. “After they took football from me, I don’t know what the next move was. As a result of your upbringing and your surroundings, you might end up doing some bad things that your parents try to keep you out of. That boxing program definitely gave me something else to kind of push for.”

Travis Kauffman

Travis Kaufman vs Richard Carmack, August 2015. (Lucas Noonan / Premier Boxing Champions)

The 6-feet-3, 230-pound Alexander made his pro debut in June 2009, without having had a single amateur fight. He had moved on from “All-American Heavyweights” by the end of 2010.

Seven-and-a-half years later learning on the job has left Alexander with unanimous-decision defeats on his record to LaRon Mitchell (16-0, 14 KOs) and Rodney Hernandez (10-7-2, 2 KOs). 

“That’s why I jumped at this at this opportunity, because it’s always experience,” Alexander said. “There’s absolutely no pressure on me. I see myself being able to compete with the guys at the top level. The circumstances, of course, I would like to be better. But I don’t feel like anybody goes into any fight feeling a hundred percent.”

While Alexander seemingly will encounter the best opponent of his career, Kauffman will end nearly a 15-month layoff Sunday night. The 32-year-old Kauffman hasn’t fought since losing a 12-round majority decision to Amir Mansour (23-2-1, 16 KOs, 1 NC) in March 2017 at Santander Arena in Reading.

“I am excited to get back in the ring,” Kauffman said. “I have not been in the ring in a year-and-a-half and I can’t wait to go in there and show that I still have a lot left. I am not going in there to win by decision. I am going in there looking to knock him out, because I am tired of leaving it up to the judges.”

I have not been in the ring in a year-and-a-half and I can’t wait to go in there and show that I still have a lot left. Travis Kauffman

Kauffman was supposed to face former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver on Sunday night.

Alexander replaced Tarver, who’s 49 and hasn’t fought in almost three years. Tarver (31-6-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC) wasn’t cleared to box by New Jersey’s State Athletic Control Board. Tarver’s last fight was a 12-round draw with Steve Cunningham in August 2015 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Tarver’s trouble granted Alexander the chance he needs to change the course of his career. That’s something he very much wants for him, his wife, Fransha, their 5-year-old daughter, Kai’Lani, and their 18-month-old son, Zayden.

“I know Travis can box,” Alexander said. “He’s a veteran. He’s been around for a while. Everybody at that level can do something. He can box more than people think. I know he’s been inactive, so we’ll see. For boxers, that usually messes up timing. You get a little rusty and I think this will be a good opportunity to capitalize on that.

“It’s hard for boxers to go without fighting, just because you rely on timing a lot. Once your timing is off and you’re not in the ring, it takes a while for that to come back. Me, just coming off a fight [March 17], yeah, it wasn’t a 10-round fight, but I just got out of the ring. And I was preparing for another six-round fight at the end of the month, on the 30th. But like I said, when you get an opportunity like this, I’m jumping at it.”

This week on PBC Jabs, we chat with 126-pound champion Leo Santa Cruz ahead of his highly-anticipated rematch with fellow champion Abner Mares.

Plus, we preview our big weekend of boxing. 

On Saturday, June 9th, PBC on Showtime hits Los Angeles from the Staples Center. In the co-feature, undefeated 154-pound world champ Jermell Charlo defends his WBC title against former titleholder Austin Trout. And in the main event, the aforementioned 126-pound world champions Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares meet in a rematch of their exciting 2015 title fight.

Then, on Sunday, June 10th, PBC presents a trio of heavyweight showdowns! Rugged veteran Travis Kauffman takes on Scott Alexander in a 10-round headliner. Plus, former title challenger Gerald Washington battles Wes Nofire, and 2012 U.S. Olympian Michael Hunter meets Iago Kiladze, all from the Pioneer Events Center in Lancaster, California.

Pair of heavyweights looking to make a big statement Sunday night on PBC on FS1 card in Lancaster, California.

The first time he appeared on television things didn’t go quite the way heavyweight John Wesley Nofire envisioned. He suffered his first professional loss, and fans around the nation saw it firsthand. The bout against Joey Abell was televised on FS1 and FOX Deportes.

It’s one thing to suffer your first loss as a professional, another when it occurs during your TV debut. But it gets worse. Nofire wasn’t just defeated in May 2016, he was TKO’d in the third round.

For many heavyweights that experience would mark the beginning of a downward spiral. But Nofire isn’t an average heavyweight. He bounced back in his next outing, defeating journeyman Stacy Frazier via second-round TKO in September 2017 during a non-televised bout. It turns out that the setback to Abell was a valuable lesson.

Gerald Washington vs Wes Nofire

Gerald Washington and Wes Nofire post for photos following their weigh-in. (Leo Wilson / Premier Boxing Champions)

Nofire promises that the mistakes he made before and during his initial television appearance won’t be repeated when he returns to the FS1 and FOX Deportes spotlight at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT in Lancaster, California on Sunday. Nofire faces former title challenger Gerald Washington (18-2-1, 12 KOs) in a 10-rounder.

This time around Nofire (20-1-0, 16 knockouts) will enter the ring at full strength - physically and mentally. He was battling flu-like symptoms against Abell but refused to take the illness seriously. He was extremely confident that a win over Abell was in the bag.

There was also the matter of not following the fight plan and utilizing his strengths, setting up his powerful right hand with a stiff left jab. The only thing on Nofire’s mind that night was getting rid of Abell early and returning home to his pregnant wife, Molly.

News of Molly’s pregnancy came as the couple was in the process of adopting a baby girl. With several non-boxing matters on his mind, Nofire decided that he’d fight toe-to-toe with Abell. Failing to use his jab, apply his footwork and move his head to avoid Abell’s hard left, proved disastrous for Nofire.

“The one thing I learned is never to fight when I’m sick,” Nofire said. “You have to be fully healthy when you take a fight and are trying to move up in the division. I also learned that rather than going in trying to kill somebody, you have to box. Don’t fight outside your element, stay within your character.”

Nofire didn’t lack respect for Abell but had reason to believe he was the superior fighter. He’d beaten most of his previous opponents rather handily and could see nothing in Abell’s arsenal that posed a serious threat. Besides, Abell was coming into that fight with nine losses on his resume and second-round KO loss in his most recent bout.

Now the days of focusing on an opponent’s weaknesses or recent setbacks are over. While Washington had a pair of losses recently, Nofire is aware of them, but not focused on those losses. No matter who’s placed in front of him, however, Nofire intends to deliver the best he has to offer. That’s exactly what he has planned Sunday night for Washington.

“This fight with Gerald Washington couldn’t come at a better time,” Nofire said. “A win over him will prove that I could have beaten all the guys he beat. It’s a great time for me; he’s coming off two straight losses so his confidence will be shaken once he gets touched.”

Nofire makes it clear that despite Washington’s recent troubles in the ring, he represents his most-seasoned foe. Washington has faced several quality opponents - most notably WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.

But Nofire isn’t obsessed with Washington’s quality of opposition, physical strength or weaknesses. He is confident that the key to victory for him will be utilizing all his skills - the straight left jab, hard overhand rights and movement defensively - on fight night as well as sticking to the overall fight plan.

“People will see me pull out my full arsenal. We’re in the heavyweight division, which means we can all punch. I will absolutely not be susceptible to the straight left or right hand.

“This fight is an opportunity to show that I’m at a top-tier world level. Gerald has fought for a world title but he came up short. By beating him I will show that it’s my time to compete at the highest level.

“Most important, my mind is where it needs to be for this fight.”

For a closer look at Washington vs Nofire, check out our fight page.

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