You better believe Saturday night’s alright for fighting, especially in New York on Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend!
Three-time world champion ROMAN “Rocky” MARTINEZ and World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight world champion VASYL LOMACHENKO will go mano a mano for Martinez’s WBO junior lightweight world title and the boxing gem of Puerto Rico, FELIX “El Diamante” VERDEJO, will risk his WBO Latino lightweight crown, undefeated record and No. 2 world rating against JUAN JOSE MARTINEZ in the co-main event of a championship doubleheader Saturday, June 11 — one day before the famed Puerto Rican Day Parade — at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. The two bouts, scheduled for 12 and 10 rounds, respectively, will be televised live on HBO beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. The non-televised undercard will feature the U.S. debut of two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time World Amateur Champion ZOU SHIMING from The Peoples Republic of China in a 10-round flyweight bout.
The five gladiators boast a combined record of 87-6-3 (53 KOs) — a winning percentage of 91% with over 60% of their victories coming by way of knockout.
Promoted by Top Rank®, in association with Puerto Rican Best Boxing, Diamante Promotions, SECA and Madison Square Garden, tickets to the Martinez vs. Lomachenko / Verdejo vs. Martinez championship doubleheader will go on sale Today! Thursday, April 28, at Noon ET. Priced at $300, $200, $100, $50 and $35, tickets can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge by phone (866-858-0008), and online at www.ticketmaster.com and www.thegarden.com.
“I feel very happy returning to New York to fight, and even more on a special date like the Puerto Rican Day Parade. I know that a lot of Puerto Ricans will be there and I’ll be ready, as always, to give it my all,” said Martinez. “About Lomachenko I can say that he is a boxer with a lot of accomplishments as an amateur and even though he became champion in just a few professional fights, it isn’t the same in amateur as in professional boxing and we are working hard to take the victory on June 11.”
“Thank you to Top Rank! Thank you to my manager, Egis Klimas!.And thank you to HBO for believing that I can headline its telecast in the main event of the evening,” said Lomachenko. “It is a big opportunity for me. It is a chance to set a new record by becoming a two-division world champion in the shortest period — my seventh professional fight — a record that currently stands at eight fights. On June 11, at Madison Square Garden, I’m going to do my best to reach a new career pinnacle.”
“I would like to thank our promoter Top Rank for making this fight against Rocky Martinez a reality,” said Egis Klimas, Lomachenko’s manager. “We are also very thankful to HBO for approving this fight as its main event of their telecast. And a big thanks to the WBO for sanctioning this battle between two great champions.. For our team it is a big honor to be headlining at Madison Square Garden on June 11th and putting on a good show for the fans. I have no doubts that Vasyl will be in great shape for his debut in the 130-pound weight class.”
“I’m more motivated than ever for this fight on HBO and performing in front of my people in New York,” said Verdejo. “I recognize that my focus for my last couple of fights hasn’t been at its best. I feel that my last performances haven’t been close to what has been expected of me and that has motivated me to show my supporters that the Felix Verdejo they have been rooting for will be at The Garden on June 11 and for a very long time after.”
“This is the first time in boxing history which two fighters on this card each won two Olympic gold medals,” said Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum. “Vasyl Lomachenko and Zou Shiming accomplished iconic feats in the sport of boxing and Felix Verdejo himself is a former Olympian and one of the top amateur boxers.”
“On Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend in New York, Rocky Martinez fights to defend his 130-lb crown and his heritage, while Vasyl Lomachenko moves up in weight campaigning for a second world title in a continued quest to have his professional career mirror the glory of his unrivaled amateur virtuosity,” says Peter Nelson, Executive Vice President, HBO Sports. “The high stakes are well deserving of one of boxing’s most elite stages: Theater at Madison Square Garden.”
Martinez (29-2-3, 17 KOs), from Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, is a three-time WBO junior lightweight world champion. He won his first world title on March 14, 2009, knocking out defending champion Nicky Cook in the fourth round in Manchester, England. He successfully defended that title twice during his 19-month reign, knocking out Feider Viloria and Gonzalo Munguia before losing a 12-round decision to Ricky Burns on September 4, 2010. Martinez’s second reign as world champion began on September 15, 2012, winning the vacant title via a split decision over top contender Miguel Beltran, Jr. Martinez successfully defended his title twice during his 15-month reign, scoring a split decision victory over Diego Magdaleno and a draw against Juan Carlos Burgos before being dethroned by undefeated former WBO featherweight champion Mikey Garcia on November 9, 2013. Martinez’s current world title reign began on April 11, 2015 when he defeated defending champion Orlando Salido via a 12-round decision. In their rematch, on September 12, Martinez retained his title by virtue of a draw. Both fights were worthy of Fights of the Year consideration.
The greatest amateur boxer of his era and arguably of all time, two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko (5-1, 3 KOs), of Odessa, captured the vacant WBO featherweight title on June 21, 2014, winning a scintillating majority decision over the previously unbeaten Gary Russell Jr. It was Lomachenko’s third professional bout, tying him with Thailand’s Saensak Muangsurin for fewest fights to win a world title. Muangsurin won a junior welterweight title in 1975, also in his third professional fight. Russell, a former U.S. Olympian and current World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight world champion, was totally blitzed by Lomachenko, battered around the ring throughout the fight. From the outset of his professional career, Lomachenko made it known that he was ready for the best in his division. He made his professional debut in 2013 knocking out the WBO’s No. 7-rated featherweight contender Jose Luis Ramirez (24-2-2, 15 KOs) in the fourth round of a bout that was scheduled for 10. Less than five months later, on March 1, 2014, in his second professional bout, he challenged WBO featherweight champion Orlando Salido, losing a split decision to the heavier defending champion whose title had been stripped because he could not make the weight limit. Since winning the world title, Lomachenko has successfully defended it three times, winning a 12-round unanimous decision on November 23, 2014, against No. 1 contender Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo (51-1, 33 KOs), a ninth-round knockout of Gamalier Rodriguez (25-2-3, 17 KOs) on the undercard of the May 2, 2015 Floyd Mayweather – Manny Pacquiao extravaganza and a 10th-round knockout of Top-10 contender Romulo Koasicha (24-4, 14 KOs), on the undercard of the November 7, 2015 Timothy Bradley – Brandon Rios world welterweight championship . Lomachenko first gained international renown by winning gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Games as a featherweight and a lightweight, respectively.
Verdejo (21-0, 14 KOs), from San Juan, Puerto Rico, who earned “Prospect of the Year” honors in 2014 and 2015, began this year as a bona fide world title contender. He returns to the ring having won eight of his last 12 fights inside the distance, including his first and last fights of 2015 — a fifth-round knockout of Marco Lopez, on April 25, for the vacant WBO Latino lightweight title and a second-round pasting of Josenilson Dos Santos on December 11, which was Verdejo’s second defense of the title. In between those two fights, Verdejo successfully defended his title on June 13 at Madison Square Garden during Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend, winning a 10-round unanimous decision over previously undefeated contender Ivan Najera of San Antonio, TX. This year he has scored dominant 10-round unanimous decision victories over William Silva on February 27 at The Garden and Jose Rodriguez on April 16 in San Juan. Already world-rated No. 2 by the WBO and the World Boxing Association (WBA), and No. 6 by the International Boxing Federation (IBF), Verdejo, 22, continues to develop into a major gate attraction, producing standing room only crowds every time he fights. A former amateur standout who represented Puerto Rico in the 2012 Olympics, Verdejo has been mentored by Puerto Rican boxing icon and Hall of Fame inductee Felix Trinidad.
Martinez (25-2, 17 KOs), of Mexico City, Mexico, captured the ABMH (Hispanic World Boxing Association) junior lightweight title in 2014 via a 12-round unanimous decision over Carlos Jimenez. Since moving up to the lightweight division he has gone undefeated and enters this fight riding a two-year six-bout winning streak.
Zou (7-1, 2 KOs), from Guizhou, China, and trained by Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, returns to the ring fresh from his most impressive professional victory — an eighth-round knockout of undefeated contender Natan Santana Coutinho on January 30, in Shanghai. This will mark the first time the newly-minted two-time WBO International flyweight champion has ever fought outside of China. Zou’s professional career highlights include a 12-round decision loss to International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight champion world champion Amnat Ruenroeng in 2015 and a 12-round unanimous decision victory over undefeated No. 3 contender Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym in a world flyweight title elimination bout. Their fight was the co-main event to the Manny Pacquiao – Chris Algieri world welterweight championship on November 22, 2014 at Cotai Arena. Zou scored three knockdowns en route to a 119-106, 119-106 and 120-103 victory over his vastly more experienced opponent. He showed his mettle by fighting through numerous head butts that swelled his left eye shut as well as weathering numerous low blows. But Zou kept his composure throughout the fight showing the world he was ready for a world title shot. Zou captured his first WBO International flyweight title on July 19, 2014, stepping up to his first 10-round fight and winning a unanimous decision over Top-10 contender Luis De La Rosa, proving to the world that he had developed into a world title contender. Zou is currently world-rated No. 3 by the WBO and No. 5 by the IBF. One of the most popular Olympic athletes in China, Zou was the world’s greatest amateur light flyweight, capturing gold medals in the World Amateur Championships in 2005, 2007 and 2011, along with gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympic Games. He also owns an Olympic bronze medal from the 2004 games, making him his nation’s first Olympic medallist in boxing as well as its first boxing gold medallist in the World Amateur Championships and the Olympics.
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