The white-hot super featherweight division will be on full display Saturday, July 15 when two world title fights come to Los Angeles’ “Fabulous” Forum as part of a stacked tripleheader on HBO Boxing After Dark.
In the main event that has “Fight of the Year” candidate written all over it, newly crowned WBC World Super Featherweight Champion Miguel “El Alacran” Berchelt (31-1, 28 KOs) will make his first title defense against former world champion and mandatory challenger Takashi Miura (31-3-2, 24 KOs).
In the co-main, Panamanian superstar and WBA Super Featherweight World Champion Jezreel “El Invisible” Corrales (21-0, 8 KOs) will look to keep his title and undefeated record, as he makes his stateside debut against a resurgent Robinson “Robin Hood” Castellanos (24-12, 14 KOs), hot off his massive upset victory over two-time world champion Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Opening up the televised card, WBC International Light Heavyweight Champion Joe Smith, Jr. (23-1, 19 KOs) will return West from Long Island to put his belt on the line against the Miami-based Sullivan Barrera (19-1, 14 KOs) in a battle of heavy-handed sluggers.
“The super featherweight division is absolutely stacked with skilled, high-action fighters right now, and the four competitors atop this card are competing to see who will be the top dog,” Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions said.”Add to that a showdown between two of the top light heavyweights in the world in Smith and Barrera, and you have all the makings of a trio of absolute wars on July 15.”
Riding a 10-consecutive knockout streak culminating in an 11th-round stoppage of Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas in January, Berchelt — fighting out of Merida, Mexico — will look to continue his winning ways in just his second fight on American soil.
“I took on this challenge, because I only want to fight the best,” Berchelt, 25, said. “I know that Miura is a true warrior and always leaves it all in the ring, but I am young and hungry and am confident that I will return to Mexico with the world championship belt still around my waist.”
Miura, one half of the consensus 2015 Fight of the Year with Vargas, returns after a dynamic 12th-round stoppage against Miguel “Mickey” Roman on the same card that Berchelt defeated Vargas for the WBC crown.
“I have wanted to regain my championship belt from the moment I lost it in November of 2015,” Miura said. “I know Berchelt is strong, and I know that we’ll go head to head for this world championship title that will prove to be a great fight.”
The 25-year-old Corrales, a southpaw, earned his title with back-to-back victories over Takashi Uchiyama, who was at the time thought to be the No. 1 fighter in the division.
“I am excited to make my United States debut and defend my world title,” Corrales said. “While people in America might not yet be familiar with me, they will surely know my name after this fight.”
His opponent, Castellanos, has defeated top opponents throughout his career including Ronny Rios and Rocky Juarez, but his shocking TKO victory over Gamboa is what catapulted the 35-year-old Castellanos into title contention.
“This is the biggest fight of my career, and I am not going to let the opportunity slip away,” Castellanos said. “I have the experience and power to take out Corrales and that’s exactly what I’m going to do on July 15.”
In the televised opener, Joe Smith Jr. returns to the site of his greatest victory looking to follow up on his knockout of legendary Bernard Hopkins at the end of 2016.
“I’m thrilled to be back on HBO against another top light heavyweight,Sullivan Barrera,” Smith said. “I’ve already started training and will be more than ready on July 15. There’s a number of great fighters in our division and I’m looking forward to another victory on my way to a world title shot.”
Smith will take on the heavy-handed Sullivan Barrera, who is riding a two-fight knockout streak – including a seventh-round stoppage of previously undefeated Vyacheslav Shabranskyy — after taking his only professional loss against top five pound-for-pound fighter, Andre “S.O.G.” Ward.
“This is a great opportunity for me. I want to thank my entire team for making this happen,” Barrera said. “I respect Joe for taking this fight. He is a great fighter and I have a tough test on July 15. I will work hard to put on a great show for all the fans.”
“This should be a spectacular fight,” said Joe DeGuardia, President and CEO of Star Boxing.”Over the past few months many have refused to fight Joe Smith Jr., so I give credit to Sullivan Barrera, who, like Joe, is a tough fighter willing to fight anyone. Joe’s captivating rise as a humble working-class ‘Common Man’ has resonated with sports fans all over the world and I look forward to being at the Forum on HBO as Joe and Sullivan battle for the future.”
This is a really interesting fight,” said Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. “It is a can’t miss fight because Barrera and Smith are both finishers. We are all eager to see how this plays out and I give credit to both men for wanting a challenge.”
Tickets for Berchelt vs. Miura are priced at $25, $50, $75 and $125, not including applicable service charges and taxes, with a total ticket limit of 12 per person, go on sale Wednesday, May 24 at 10:00 a.m. PT. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or the Forum Box Office (Monday through Friday 11:00 a.m. PST to 7:00 p.m. PST) at (310) 330-7300. Tickets will also be available for purchase at www.fabulousforum.com or www.ticketmaster.com.