The Friday Five: February 15th, 2019

1.  Joshua-Miller Set For June 1st At MSG


This postpones Joshua’s return to Wembley Stadium, where he appeared in September, knocking out Alexander Povetkin in-front of 80,000 fans.

Rumors swirled in the beginning of 2019 that Joshua was looking to move his next fight from a scheduled April 19th fight at Wembley for a fight at MSG, after taking in Canelo Alvarez’ win over Rocky Fielding at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

“June 1st I am heading to The Big Apple and I plan to embrace the culture and leave with an appetite for more,” said Joshua. “I will be fighting Jarrell Miller at the legendary Madison Square Garden. It has been an honour and a blessing to fight at some of the best venues in the World at home in the UK, not least Wembley Stadium, but the time has come to head across the Atlantic and defend my Heavyweight titles in the USA. I am looking forward to taking on another challenge with a good boxer & a brilliant talker, it will be an exciting fight, I will leave nothing to chance and plan on dismantling Miller in style to make my mark.”

Across the ring is Jarrell Miller, who called Joshua out to his face in the summer of 2018, at the launch event for DAZN’s partnership with Matchroom Boxing and Bellator.

Miller now gets to fight in his hometown arena against Joshua following his decimation of Bogdan Dinu in late 2018.

2. Nelson Unsure Of Cro Cop Heading Into Bellator 216

Credit: Bellator MMA

Following Bellator 215-216 Media Day on Wednesday in New York City, Roy Nelson had some doubts about whether his Bellator 216 opponent Mirko Cro Cop will walk into the cage clean.

Over seven years since defeating Cro Cop at UFC 137, Nelson looks to take another win against the PRIDE legend. The two were intiially set to rematch at Bellator 200 in May, but knee surgery would force Cro Cop to pull out of the fight.

“Cro Cop is back being on a streak, but I don’t know what that has to do with,” Nelson told MMAjunkie at Bellator 216 media day. “When he pulled out of my fight, he had a fight, he had knee surgery, he had rehab, and he was able to come back in three or four months. I think his docs need to come over here for the NFL and some of these guys that get messed-up knees, they could be back in a week.”

Cro Cop was among five fighters tested on Wednesday by the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulations, after a pre-fight drug test would come back clean for the PRIDE legend, Nelson hopes it comes back clean.

“They pulled me an extra day early just to do a pee test,” Nelson said. “I hope the results come back before the fight, because if it doesn’t come back before the fight, I don’t even know why they did the test. Wasted resources.”

3. Thurman Wants Pacquiao Fight

Credit: Stephanie Trapp/TGB Promotions

Keith Thurman wants to unify the WBA’s welterweight championships.

The current WBA “super” welterweight champion is motivated to face off against the WBA’s “regular” champion, Manny Pacquiao, later this year in his third fight in two years.

Thurman spent 22 months on the shelf due to an elbow injury and then a hand injury, both of which required surgery and rehab. In his first fight back in January, Thurman would shake off the ring-rust in a 12-round unanimous decision win over Josesito Lopez.

“I want to fight Manny Pacquiao,” Thurman told Premier Boxing Champions. “Imagine what Pacquiao-Thurman is going to look like? He looked well at the age of 40. He looked strong. By the way Broner was fighting, he was respecting the power. Pacquiao-Thurman is a good fight. And when’s the last time Pacquiao fought an undefeated fighter?

“I’m hoping to hear some words from Team Pacquiao,” said Thurman. “We both fought early this year and I’d be willing to negotiate a fight for anytime he deems fit; summer, after the summer, September, October. I think it would be a great fight for the sport. Let’s make it happen.”

“I do believe that if Mikey Garcia beats Errol Spence Jr. on March 16, then Pacquiao-Garcia is a must for the sport of boxing. That’s my opinion. Why not take the momentum of this lighter guy who, if he beats Spence, is the new Manny Pacquiao? But I don’t think Mikey wins. I’ve known him since the amateurs and he’s a great fighter. But we have weight classes for a reason,” Thurman said of the fate of the welterweight division following their showdown at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

4. WBC Postpones Wilder-Fury Purse Bid

Photo: Esther Lin/Showtime

The WBC has once again postponed the purse bid for Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury’s rematch for the WBC world heavyweight championship.

“Things have gotten delayed a little, but as far as I know there are no issues,” Shelly Finkel, Wilder’s co-manager, told ESPN on Tuesday. “I would hope the fight is completed late this week or early next week.”

The purse bid was initially set for February 5th, but pushed back a week due to both sides looking to finalize a deal last week that has rolled into this one.

“I have been in direct communication with both parties and they have indicated that they are in goodwill negotiations, very close to reaching an agreement,” WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman told ESPN. “I will monitor this matter personally and if needed will intervene within the next week.”

5. Artem Lobov Signs With BKFC

Under a month after scoring his release from the UFC, Conor McGregor’s training partner, Artem Lobov has signed a multi-fight deal with the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship.

Lobov tagged the Philadelphia based organization in a tweet earlier this year, selling his services to various organizations upon joining the free agent market.

“I feel Artem is a great addition to our roster and his style is made for this sport,” said BKFC Founder and President David Feldman. “Attracting and signing a guy with the following that Artem has is a perfect match for where we are right now as an organization. I think this signing speaks volumes for the direction BKFC is heading.”

Lobov’s debut has already been set, as he will face off against fellow UFC veteran Jason Knight on April 20th at BKFC the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi.

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