LAS VEGAS — WBC heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder takes on lineal champion Tyson Fury in the main event of Saturday’s ESPN+ PPV/Fox PPV card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Wilder and Fury fought to a controversial split draw back in 2018 and both fighters have promised to go for the KO in the rematch.
But before that main event, other fighters will take an opportunity on the undercard of one of the most anticipated title fights in recent history to showcase their skills. In the co-main event, former heavyweight world titlist Charles Martin faces former title contender Gerald Washington in an IBF heavyweight eliminator.
Also on the undercard, junior featherweight world titleholder Emanuel Navarrete puts his WBO belt on the line against Jeo Tupas Santisima in a 12-round battle.
Follow along here for live undercard results and analysis.
Sebastian Fundora def. Daniel Lewis by unanimous decision
Fight recap coming up …
Molina outpoints Imam
Welterweight Javier Molina earned a mild upset over former junior welterweight world title challenger Amir Imam, outpointing him 79-73, 78-74 and 78-74. Molina, a 2008 U.S. Olympian, outboxed the more aggressive Imam.
Molina (22-2, 9 KOs), 30, of Norwalk, California, used his slicker skills to box and move, racking up points as Imam (22-3, 19 KOs), 29, of Albany, New York, had a hard time landing consistently flush punches.
“Amir was a tough opponent, but I knew I had the better jab,” Molina said. “The jab frustrated him and he was getting a little impatient, so I was able to counter him effectively. I am ready for a title eliminator or title shot next. I’m hitting my stride.”
There were some moments of back-and-forth action, including a stretch in the eighth round, but Molina kept the fight under control.
Imam, who lost a decision to Jose Ramirez for a vacant junior welterweight world title in March 2018, dropped to 1-1 since signing with Top Rank late last year after settling a lawsuit to break free from his promotional agreement with Don King.
Molina won his fifth fight in a row since a 10-round decision loss to Jamal James in January 2016.
Ananyan upsets Matias
Armenian junior welterweight Petros Ananyan pulled an upset as he knocked down and outfought Puerto Rico’s Subriel Matias, on his way to unanimous decision victory in a back-and-forth fight. The judges had it 96-93, 95-94 and 95-94 in Ananyan’s favor.
Matias staggered Ananyan with combinations in the sixth round and rocked him again with a right hand in the seventh round. Later in that seventh round, though, Ananyan stormed back and punished Matias with a series of right hands and a left hook that sent Matias staggering into the ropes. The ropes held Matias up, so referee Robert Byrd ruled it a knockdown.
Ananyan (15-2-2, 7 KOs), 31, now 2-2 in his past four fights, continued to get the better of the action in the final rounds, and he hurt Matias with more right hands in the 10th round.
The fight was Matias’ second since last July, when he knocked out then-unbeaten Maxim Dadashev in the 11th round of a world title elimination bout. Dadashev died a few days later from a brain injury suffered in the bout. Matias (15-1, 15 KOs), 27, returned to the ring on Nov. 30 in Puerto Rico and knocked out Jonathan Jose Eniz in the fifth round. After his recent signing with Premier Boxing Champions, this fight represented a step up to a much bigger stage for Matias.
Flores cruises past Conway
Junior lightweight Gabriel Flores Jr., one of Top Rank’s most promising prospects, scored a knockdown en route to a one-sided decision victory over Matt Conway. Two judges scored the fight 80-71, with the third scoring it 79-72.
Flores (17-0, 6 KOs), 19, of Stockton, California, dropped five-year professional Conway (17-2, 7 KOs), 24, of Pittsburgh, with a right hand in the first round and had no problems whatsoever as he cruised the rest of the way, although he did suffer a bruised hand in the sixth round.
Mielnicki routs Champion
Welterweight prospect Vito Mielnicki Jr., a 17-year-old high school senior, dropped Corey Champion and won a shutout decision, 40-34, 40-35, 40-35.
Mielnicki (5-0, 3 KOs), of Roseland, New Jersey, closed the first round by forcing Champion (1-3, 1 KO), 21, of Charlottesville, Virginia, to a corner and landing a four-punch combination to knock Champion down just as the round was ending. Mielnicki couldn’t get another knockdown, but otherwise laid a beating on Champion.
Lowe tops Guevara in foul-filled fight
Featherweight Isaac Lowe won a unanimous decision over Alberto Guevara in a foul-filled fight that included six points being deducted by referee Vic Drakulich. Lowe won 96-87, 96-87 and 95-88 to retain his regional belt.
In the third round, Drakulich docked one point from Guevara for excessive holding. In the fifth round, Drakulich took two points from Lowe, first for shoving Guevara to the mat, and then for hitting him behind the head.
In the sixth there was more fouling that caused Drakulich to take two points from Guevara for a low blow, and then a point from Lowe for shoving him to the mat.
Lowe (20-0-3, 6 KOs), 26, of England, a good friend of Fury’s, broke through in the eighth round, driving two-time bantamweight world title challenger Guevara (27-6, 12 KOs), of Mexico, to the mat for a knockdown.
Romero easily knocks out Ahmetovs
Lightweight Rolando Romero stopped Arturs Ahmetovs in the second round of their scheduled eight-round bout that opened the card.
Romero (11-0, 10 KOs), 24, of Las Vegas, a Mayweather Promotions prospect, extended his knockout streak to five fights in a row against Latvia native Ahmetovs (5-1, 2 KOs), 30, who fights out of Delray Beach, Florida.
Romero predicted a first-round knockout at the undercard news conference on Thursday and was not far off. In the second round Romero scored two knockdowns, and when he was teeing off on Ahmetovs during the follow-up attack, referee Robert Hoyle stepped in at 1 minute, 22 seconds.
Still to come …
Charles Martin vs. Gerald Washington, 12 rounds, IBF heavyweight eliminator
Title fight: Emanuel Navarrete vs. Jeo Tupas Santisima, 12 rounds, for Navarrete’s WBO junior featherweight title