The Friday Five: January 10th, 2020

Credit: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime

1. Shields Plans To Walk All Over “Soft” Habazin

After their fight was cancelled in October, the war of words between Claressa Shields and Ivana Habazin continued to simmer.

Now on January 10th, the two fighters will make their way to Atlantic City, New Jersey with the WBC and WBO junior middleweight titles on the line.

“She’s just another opponent,” Shields said to bjpenn.com of Habazin, who’s trainer James Ali Bashir was hospitalized after being the victim of a sucker punch from Shields’ brother Artis Mack. “She’s not anybody special and she may have worked her way up through the ranks to fight for these belts but our skills do not compare. I’m going to walk all over her. Skill wise, she does a lot of covering up and, I’m sorry, but she’s soft. I have no respect for the girl, she’s just soft. The only good thing I’ll say about her is she has good hand speed but she don’t have no head movement. My skills are just way above all of the women in women’s boxing.

2. Love Not Hate Spark McGregor Comeback

Revenge is not on Conor McGregor’s mind per his trainer John Kavanagh in the days ahead of his return to the Octagon at UFC 246 in Las Vegas.

Speaking with The Mac Life, Kavanagh explains why he truly believes that McGregor will be on his A-game on January 18th.

“I think this is the best he’s ever been. And the reason I’m saying that is the consistency over the past few months,” Kavanagh said (Transcribed by MMA Mania). “It’s a real return to smiling on the mat, enjoying it, having fun. And it’s cliche to say, but a happy fighter is a dangerous fighter. He just seems really happy with his life and his training and with the environment that we have here and competing again and having those exchanges and so on and so on. I think this is going to be the best he’s ever been.”

Credit: LAWRENCE LUSTIG

3. Joshua, Pulev Must Reach Deal by Jan. 31

WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and his IBF mandatory challenger, Kubrat Pulev, will have until the end of the month to come to terms on a deal for a title defense.

According to a spokesperson from the IBF, both parties have requested more time to reach a deal. Last month, in the days following Joshua’s regaining of the unified titles from Andy Ruiz Jr., the two were given 30 days to strike a deal.

This is not the only mandatory challenger Joshua is currently dealing with, however, as the WBO has ordered him to defend against former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua and his team, including promoter Eddie Hearn, are trying to clarify with the governing bodies if one fighter takes precedence and if the other mandatory can take a fight in the interim. Hearn also promotes Usyk and has plans for a March 28 bout with Dereck Chisora should Pulev get the title shot and Usyk be allowed another bout.

If Joshua goes in the direction of Pulev and is stripped of the WBO title, however, that championship could be on the line in an ordered fight between Usyk and the current No. 2 ranked WBO contender, former WBO champion Joseph Parker.

Credit: Esther Lin/Showtime

4. Wilder-Fury II Has Rematch Clause

While many in boxing are clamoring to the idea that the winner of Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury’s February 22nd showdown for the WBC world heavyweight title will lead straight into unification against Anthony Joshua, they sadly are not living in the real world.

Fury’s lead promoter, Frank Warren, has confirmed that a trilogy fight between the two top-heavyweights is in the contract for their battle inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena on a duel ESPN+/FOX Sports PPV.

The two initially fought at the tail end of 2018, with Fury and Wilder splitting a controversial draw that sent both men on a journey back to one another this February, but unlike this first fight, a rematch option seems to be automatic.

“The loser of (Wilder-Fury 2) on February 22nd has the option to activate a third fight,” is what Warren told talkSPORT’s Adam Catterall, which may allow Anthony Joshua to settle his mandatories in both the IBF’s Kubrat Pulev and WBO’s Oleksandr Usyk, or even fight to regain the WBO title if stripped by the governing body.

Credit: Twitter/@DAZN_USA

5. Joshua, Canelo, Paul Lead DAZN Viewership

On Tuesday morning, DAZN announced that Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz’s rematch was the most streamed fight on the platform in 2019.

The event from Saudi Arabia was watched the most out of any other offering by the streaming service in 2019 in the nine countries they’re available in.

While there were no numbers attached to the announcement, Canelo Alvarez made up half of the four fight cards on the top ten list, while Jake Paul’s pro debut against KSI joined the aforementioned fights.

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