Fight date for Mbilli, Goodman taking Inoue risk and ‘Big Bang’ hits Belfast

BOXING moves fast and it’s hard to keep up with all the comings and goings. Here’s a wrap-up of some of the fight announcements, signings and other bits and pieces that might’ve passed you by.

Mbilli and Derevyanchenko ready for war

Christian Mbilli already had a fight signed and sealed, against dependable world-class yardstick Sergiy Derevyanchenko, before his latest outing. 

All Mbilli needed to do was get past Mark Heffron, which he did in 40 seconds. Now, the Derevyanchenko fight is officially confirmed for August 17 in Quebec City. It promises to be a phone booth affair.

“It’s an honor to fight Sergiy Derevyanchenko,” stated Mbilli (27-0, 23 KOs). “I’ve been hearing about him since I was 16, in the amateur ranks, where he defeated several Frenchmen. In the pros, he has only fought big names, so this will definitely be my biggest fight to date. I can’t wait for it. It’s going to be a war.”

Gennady Golovkin exchanges punches with Sergiy Derevyanchenko during their IBF middleweight title bout at Madison Square Garden on October 05, 2019 (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

While Mbilli, a French-Cameroonian now based in Montreal, can bang, Derevyanchenko (above, right) has forged a reputation for high activity and extreme durability. 

If Mbilli can put a dent in the Ukrainian, who has packed a lot into his 20 fights, it will serve as a statement to potential future rivals.

“I made the decision to move up to 168 to win a world title. During my entire career, I have always fought the best in the world, and on August 17, it will be no different,” responded Derevyanchenko (15-5, 10 KOs). 

“I’m fighting a tough opponent in Christian Mbilli, who’s ranked No. 1 in the WBC. If I win this fight, I expect to fight for a world title next, which has always been my ultimate goal. I expect August 17 to be a war and a Fight of the Year-type candidate, and I will be the winner.”

‘Big Bang’ to hit Belfast

Pierce O’Leary gets geographically closer to an actual (Dublin) homecoming by headlining in Belfast’s SSE Arena on June 28 against Darragh Foley. 

Mark Dunlop’s unbeaten flyweight Conor Quinn boxes Conner Kelsall for the vacant Commonwealth crown.

Colm ‘Posh Boy’ Murphy tackles Glasgow’s Jack Turner and talented lightweight James McGivern boxes Cardiff’s Rashid ‘Brickfists’ Omar. Still buzzing from his 5 v 5 whitewash, Frank Warren promotes.

Goodman takes a risk ahead of Inoue date with destiny

On July 10, Sam Goodman takes a risk ahead of his potential end-of-year clash with Naoya Inoue by keeping active. Thai opponent Thachtana Luangphon has a buffed-up 25-0-1 (15 KOs) record but has never mixed in Goodman’s class before.

“I’m a gambling man. I’ve got to roll the dice. I’m going all in again,” Goodman confidently told the Australian media. 

No Limit Boxing will promote the Wollongong event, which will see Liam Wilson return home from another failed world title attempt in America to face Youssef Dib over 10 rounds.

Illness forces Tyson out of Jake Paul clash

Mike Tyson’s ring return has been postponed following an ulcer flare-up. The heavyweight legend was set to fight Jake Paul in Texas on July 20 in an officially licensed contest. The bout was cast in doubt when Tyson suffered a medical issue on board a flight. 

Shortly after, it was announced that the contest had been temporarily canned. It is unclear whether the Amanda Serrano vs. Katie Taylor rematch will go ahead (likely in a smaller venue) or move with Paul to another date. Talk of a possible move to Germany is gathering pace at the time of writing.

Tyson and Paul stare down (Most Valuable Promotions)

Unlucky Lemos links up with Top Rank

Argentine puncher Gustavo Daniel Lemos has signed with Top Rank. Lemos holds a win over Lee Selby and pushed Richardson Hitchins to the wire in April, losing a debatable decision in their IBF super-lightweight title eliminator. 

“The wait and hard work have paid off, and I will make the most of this opportunity,” said Lemos. “I am finally entering the big leagues, fulfilling a lifelong dream, and getting closer and closer to the possibility of becoming a world champion.”

Promoter Bob Arum correctly described his new signing as “a handful for any fighter at 135 or 140 pounds.” 

The latter part of the comment suggests that Lemos would return south of super-lightweight should the right opportunity present.

Junto leads the charge in Japan

Another solid Japanese card has been announced, this time on July 20 in Tokyo, as Junto Nakatani defends his WBC bantamweight title against Filipino contender Vincent Astrolabio.

WBO super-flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka is on the card against Jonathan Rodriguez 

Riku Kano boxes Anthony Olascuaga for the vacant WBO flyweight title. Los Angeles fighter Olascuaga is only 6-1 and previously gave Kenshiro Teraji something to think about when challenging for Teraji’s unified titles in 2023.

Japan’s Junto Nakatani (L) fights against Mexico’s Alexandro Santiago during their WBC Bantam Weight championship boxing bout in Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo on February 24, 2024. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)

Janibek faces mystery man Mikhailovich

Janibek Alimkhanuly steps into the unknown on July 13 against Andrei Mikhailovich. A tidy boxer from New Zealand (born in Russia), Mikhailovich has earned his chance at the IBF and WBO titles, but conquering Alimkhanuly will be a tough task.

“I look forward to defending my world titles, and I must give Andrei Mikhailovich a lot of credit. The other world middleweight champions refused the challenge, and he stepped up to the plate,” roasted Alimkhanuly. 

A firm believer in his abilities, Mikhailovich has put in the work winning regional belts, defeating unbeaten fighters like Edisson Saltarin (16-0) and Alex Walters (13-0) to separate himself from the pack. 

“At the end of the day, Janibek is just another guy, another test on my way to greatness. Others will say this is a big deal, but to me, this is fate. I was born for this. Since day one, I have planned to dominate, take over, and control my destiny,” said Mikhailovich, who believes his warrior’s mindset will be the difference.

Raymond Muratalla faces Tevin Farmer on the undercard and Gustavo Lemos (see above) is pencilled in to make Top Rank debut on the Las Vegas show.

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