Perth's “Bullet” Michael Kaplan has landed himself a place in the WBA's world top 15.
Kaplan doesn't herald from a traditional boxing background, having competed at an elite level of Taekwando. The Australian light flyweight sensation opened up about his past in combat sports.
Kaplan said, "I was a world-level competitor in two different forms of Taekwando, and I really took to the kickboxing style of it and won numerous tournaments at that style which is the more similar style to traditional boxing.
"I had a couple of amateur fights and then decided to turn professional with Tony Tolj who has been a godsend to me. I am so grateful for what he has done for me so far and I believe I am improving all the time and I will get better and better as time goes on."
Kaplan has entered the world top 15 at light flyweight for the first time and a world title fight may not be out of the realms of possibilities for the Perth native. Kaplan gave his take on breaking into the world top 15 and his plans going forward.
He said, "It's an amazing feat to become a world-ranked fighter and I am so grateful to my team for making it happen. I couldn't have done it without them and I believe this is just the start of an amazing journey.
"I want to keep progressing. Of course, I would love to become world champion one day, but I am happy to continue to learn my craft and I trust my manager Tony to make the right decisions for me when the time is correct to step me up into title fights. In the meantime, I will continue to train hard and fight anyone who is put in front of me."
Greg Cohen Promotions proudly announces the return of Schenectady, New York’s Michael “Baby Face” Faragon (19-1, 9 KOs). Faragon will resume his long-term promotional deal under the GCP banner and return to action on August 9 at a GCP and Rapacz Boxing show at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota against Missouri’s Demetrius Wilson.
After a long and painful recovery from a severe foot injury that forced him to leave the sport five years ago, 32-year-old Faragon, once known as “the most promising young fighter to come out of the Capital Region in a long time,” says he will be returning to the sport he loves with renewed enthusiasm and a different perspective.
I had a pretty bad injury on my foot and had to have it reconstructed,” revealed Faragon. “I was in a cast for about six months and I had to do some intense physical therapy. I twisted it awkwardly sparring and fell on it weird and it became this reoccurring problem that would have just kept getting worse. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to fight again.”
A two-time Golden Gloves, Western Olympic trials and junior national champion who was once ranked the number one amateur light welterweight in the United States, Faragon says he suffered through depression and weight gain after being forced to leave boxing.
“I had been boxing my whole life and then I was faced with an identity crisis. I thought I was done. I took a job and worked sixty to seventy hours a week in construction. I would watch boxing knowing I could compete at the top level and watching guys I came up with being successful, knowing boxing was not an option for me anymore. Years went by and I think I just needed to go through some hardships.”
Then the foot began to heal and Faragon noticed his full mobility coming back… the itch returned.
“I was wanting to come back, so I told myself if I got down to a certain weight, not by even trying to lose weight, but just by living right, that I would fight again. I got down to that weight. Then, I ended up moving to Minnesota when my girlfriend got a really good job offering and ran into my old promoter Greg Cohen at the Rob Brant fight. I told him I was ready to come back and he said he liked the idea.”
Faragon fights with power in either hand, but is best-known for his agility and poise, especially on the inside.
“I’ve definitely still got it. And I’m bringing a lot more knowledge and perspective to the sport with me. I’ve been a trainer and I manage a boxing gym. Being on the other side of the sport has helped me see a lot of things differently.”
Faragon says he’ll carefully assess his abilities in the four-rounder against Wilson.
“I’ll be looking to gauge where I’m at. I think it will all be fine. I’m running miles on my foot. It’s recovered well and I’m feeling good mentally and physically. In life you must have some patience. Things don’t always work out the way you think they will but maybe I had to go through all this to come out better than ever. I guess we will find out.”
“Mikey has tremendous gifts as a fighter,” said Greg Cohen. “He was headed for a world championship challenge before the injury. He tried to come back too soon and wasn’t the same. That’s the only reason he even lost a fight. He hasn’t been taking beatings for the past five years, so he’s not dealing with wear and tear. I believe he’ll be back to his normal self within just a few return fights. I’m happy to be working with him again. He’s an engaging guy with exceptional talent.”
Former amateur star George Davey says he is realising a childhood dream by signing up to turn professional with Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren.
The super welterweight, with more than 50 amateur fights to his name, trains out of York with former European and Commonwealth champion Henry Wharton having left the family home in Lanzarote in order to dedicate himself to the sport.
Now 21, Davey returned to his place of birth to live with his grandmother four years ago and he subsequently won the Yorkshire Elite title - defending it three times - as well as the Northern Area title and is a two-times winner of the Haringey Box Cup.
He will now turn professional under the Queensberry Promotions banner and Davey couldn't be happier over the development, having essentially swapped the beach for the boxing ring.
"It is unbelievable for me," he said. "Basically, right from when I was a kid and I started boxing, I have wanted to sign up with Frank. Now my dream has become reality.
"I used to watch all the old fights he promoted and now I have a massive opportunity myself that I am very grateful for. My trainer Henry (Wharton) got in touch with Frank and spoke highly of me, so Frank said let's get it on, we had a meeting and here we are now.
"I started boxing in Lanzarote and had a couple of fights there, but knew I would have to move to England to push on so I came to York to train with Henry and he got me 50 amateur fights, so it has gone well.
"I made the sacrifice of moving back after 17 years in Lanzarote from being couple of months old hoping it would pay off and it looks like it is."
Promoter Frank Warren added on his new signing: "We are always an open door for talented young fighters and George fits right into this category.
"Taking on young fighters from day one and developing them towards major titles is what I love to do and hopefully George will become another success story."
Warriors Boxing of South Florida and Russia-based Ural Promotions proudly announce the signing of highly coveted blue-chip light heavyweight prospect Osvary David Morrell Gutierrez of Cuba to a long-term promotional contract.
21-year-old Morrell Gutierrez is a fighter considered by many a Vasyl Lomachenko-level talent and one of the most promising fighters to ever come out of Cuba. Among his many amateur distinctions, he was a 2017 Cuban National Champion, a 2016 AIBA World Youth Champion in St. Petersburg, Russia, named “Best Boxer of the Tournament” and a 2018 India Open International Boxing Tournament in New Delhi, India.
Morrell Gutierrez finished his amateur career with an astounding record of 130-2, having only lost to his legendary countryman and Olympic gold medalist, Julio César la Cruz, in a fight many had him winning and to Canada’s Harvey David O'Reilly in Canada, a loss which he later avenged.
Legendary boxing manager/promoter and now Warriors Boxing Chief Operating Officer, Luis DeCubas can’t heap enough praise on the young phenom.
“Most people that know Cuban boxing think this is the best kid to ever come out Cuba. I really believe he will take over the super middleweight and light heavyweight divisions,” said DeCubas. “This is a great signing and I’m very proud to be involved with him and Ural Promotions on this.”
DeCubas, who has worked with many of the greatest fighters of the last 30 years, says Morrell Gutierrez is on another level.
“He’s special. He’s like a Lomachenko with power. He has perfect timing and great footwork and he can crack. Bob Arum thought enough of Lomachenko to put him in a world title fight in his second fight. This guy is the same thing. Five fights and he can be in with a top-10 guy. He’s like a Sugar Ray Robinson type of fighter and a nice-looking kid on top of it. He is going to be a star of the highest order in boxing.”
Morrell Gutierrez arrived yesterday in Miami and is going to live and train there for his professional debut, which will probably be some time in August.
“I am now signed with the team I needed to become a world champion from Cuba,” said Morrell Gutierrez. “I have been dreaming of coming to the United States to become world champion since I started boxing. I am very honored, and I will make all of Cuba proud of my accomplishments.”
Warriors Boxing President Leon Margules said Morrell Gutierrez won’t need long to make his mark in boxing.
“This is the kind of fighter who comes along once in a generation. You don’t go 130-2 as an amateur in Cuba unless you are an extraordinary talent. We are going to help Osvary become a superstar in the sport in quick fashion. He’s not going to need the kind of warm-up fights that other prospects do. He’s already one of the best fighters in his division and he’s only going to get better and stronger as he matures. It’s exciting to be involved in this from his very first fight.”
FRANK WARREN has added to his ranks with the signing of 5-0 super bantamweight Shabaz Masoud to fight under the Queensberry Promotions banner.
Masoud, from Stoke-on-Trent, made his professional debut in May 2018 with a stoppage victory and has since notched up a further four points wins, with three coming over four rounds and one six-rounder in his last fight over Brayan Mairena at Villa Park in Birmingham.
Aside from shining in his learning fights, the 23-year-old is capturing the attention of both opponents and onlookers during sparring encounters up and down the country, with many tipping him for stardom, which is something 'The Maverick' believes is his destiny.
"You know what, I'm just buzzing to be signed by Frank because I know he is the world's best promoter right now, I personally believe," reacted Masoud to the career development. "The way he builds fighters, I know he will build me into a big champion.
"There are so many he has guided to the top, especially my favourite fighters. For example, Joe Calzaghe, I know he had a lot to do with Joe, and my favourite fighter of all time was Prince Naseem Hamed.
"Prince wouldn't have been where he was if it wasn't for Frank. I've been to the office and I've seen the statue of him. I asked if he was actually that tall and they said he was!," he added, before reflecting on the recent growth of his own profile.
"Day by day it is just getting better and better. Every day I spar with top lads and today I've been sparring with Sam Bowen and Brad Daws, who are bigger than me because I am only a super bantam.
"But if you work to the right game plan and make people miss, it is frustrating for them.
"Any super bantam in the country can get it from me. I call myself Maverick because I am different and I don't think I've got one style. I mix it up and whatever needs to be done for the win gets done. No one has seen me scrap yet and I know there will be times in fights where I'll have to - and I have got it in me.
"I break people down and, people might question my power, but if I didn't have it then I would be walked down. People tuck up in their shell and I want someone to come at me. When they do it will be lights out.
"The whole point of being with Frank is I know he will get me the best exposure possible. All I need is a bit of exposure and I will go from strength to strength."
Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren sees the potential in his new signing.
"You know you are onto something with a young fighter when so many people tell you to take a look. Shabaz possesses enormous talent and is an entertainer who people will enjoy following the progress of.
"We already have so many fine young fighters on our books who are making great strides in the game and I fully expect Shabaz to follow suit. I am very much looking forward to working with him and helping him to realise his ambitions in the sport.
"It will certainly be an exciting journey."