Three Fall Matchroom USA Cards on DAZN in Works; Jacobs, Haney, Chocolatito

While Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn formally announced a slate of fall fights that will take place in the United Kingdom, including the Alexander Povetkin-Dillian Whyte heavyweight rematch on Nov. 21, the schedule for his Matchroom Boxing USA remains a work in progress.

However, multiple sources told BoxingScene that there are three cards in the works that would stream on DAZN -- one in October and two in November -- as follow-ups to the one card Matchroom USA has put on since boxing returned during the coronavirus pandemic. That card was on Aug. 15 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Jessica McCaskill outpointed Cecilia Braekhus in a major upset to take the undisputed women’s welterweight title.

After a break for the rest of August and September, the next show is penciled in for Oct. 25 – a Sunday – at the Azteca studios in Mexico City.

The main event is supposed to be junior bantamweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada (40-3, 27 KOs) defending his title against former world titlist and Mexican countryman Carlos Cuadras (39-3-1, 27 KOs). The fight is a rematch of Estrada’s razor-close unanimous decision – 114-113 on all three scorecards – over Cuadras in a 2017 title elimination fight.

The co-feature is due to see junior bantamweight world titlist Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (49-2, 41 KOs), the legendary four-division champion from Nicaragua, defend the 115-pound title took from Kal Yafai in January against an opponent to be determined.

If Estrada and Gonzalez both win, Hearn has said he plans to match them in early 2021 in a rematch of Gonzalez’s action-packed decision win over Estrada in a 2012 junior flyweight title defense.

A third fight on the card would see flyweight world titlist Julio Cesar Martinez (16-1, 12 KOs), of Mexico, making his second defense against an opponent to be named. Martinez was supposed to headline the card in Tulsa, but he withdrew due to a non-coronavirus illness.

The next card is penciled in for Nov. 7 at a site to be determined. Lightweight titlist Devin Haney (24-0, 15 KOs), coming off a shoulder injury that he suffered in a one-sided decision win over Alfredo Santiago in his first defense last November, is expected to fight either former unified featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa (30-3, 18 KOs), a Cuba native fighting out of Miami, or reigning featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr. (31-1, 18 KOs), of Capitol Heights, Maryland, who would move up to weight classes for the fight.

Last week, Hearn said one of them would be Haney’s next opponent.

“Nov. 7 is the targeted date for his return and the two main targets are Gary Russell Jr. and Yuriorkis Gamboa,” Hearn said. “Both are great fights for Devin as he approaches a key stretch in his career to become standout star. Devin is ready to defend his WBC title against all comers and I can’t wait to see him back in the ring in November.”

According to sources, the card is also due to include heavyweight up-and-comer Filip Hrgovic against Rydell Booker (26-3, 13 KOs), 39, of Detroit, an experienced veteran who went the 10-round distance in a decision loss to contender Kubrat Pulev in his most recent fight last November. Hrgovic, a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist for Croatia, first has to get past journeyman Ondrej Pala (33-5, 23 KOs) on Sept. 26 in Denmark.

Three of Matchroom’s top prospects are also expected to appear on the card: 20-year-old Toledo, Ohio, lightweight Otha Jones III (5-0, 2 KOs); Staten Island, New York, welterweight Reshat Mati (7-0, 5 KOs); and junior welterweight Artur “The Chechen Wolf” Biyarslanov (6-0, 5 KOs).

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The next show is penciled in for Thanksgiving weekend, either Nov. 27 or Nov. 28, and will be headlined by former middleweight world titlist Daniel Jacobs (36-3, 30 KOs), 33, of Brooklyn, New York, the sources said. Jacobs, who is now fighting at super middleweight, is coming off making Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. quit after the fifth round in December.

Jacobs does not have a set opponent but the discussion centers around a pair of former world title challengers, per sources: Gabriel Rosado (25-12-1, 14 KOs), 34, of Philadelphia, who was on standby to fill in for Chavez in case there was an issue and wound up instead winning on the undercard, and England’s John Ryder (28-5, 16 KOs), 32, who is coming off a controversial decision loss challenging super middleweight titlist Callum Smith last November.

According to the sources, DAZN prefers Ryder because it plans to launch the streaming service in England later in the year and would like to see Jacobs against a British opponent.

Middleweight world titlist Demetrius Andrade (29-0, 18 KOs), of Providence, Rhode Island, who retained his title by ninth-round knockout of Luke Keeler on DAZN’s Jan. 30 card in Miami, could also appear on the card in a nontitle bout. However, there is also discussion of Andrade being on the Nov. 7 show instead, sources said.

Another bout being penciled in for the Jacobs card, according to sources, would see unified junior featherweight titlist Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6 KOs), 25, the Uzbekistan native fighting out of Indio, California, defend the belts he won from Daniel Roman on Jan. 30 in Miami. One potential opponent “MJ” could face is interim titleholder and mandatory challenger Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3, 17 KOs), 30, of Japan.

Matchroom prospects ticketed for the undercard include New York super middleweight Nikita “White Chocolate” Ababiy (9-0, 6 KOs); Houston middleweight Austin “Ammo” Williams (5-0, 4 KOs); and Fresno, California, featherweight Marc Castro, a standout amateur who has yet to make his professional debut.

Castro was slated to turn pro in April but the card was canceled when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the sports world. Then Castro was scheduled for his pro debut on the Tulsa card but was removed when he tested positive for Covid-19.

Dan Rafael was ESPN.com's senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.

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