Matchroom Boxing and DAZN have revealed the upcoming schedule of blockbuster fights set for the coming months.
Kicking off with the eagerly-anticipated slugfest between hard-hitting featherweights Leigh Wood and Mauricio Lara, the schedule also includes the already-announced rematch between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano, with the undisputed champions looking to make history once again in Ireland like they did last year at Madison Square Garden.
Centre stage, of course, is Anthony Joshua. The British heavyweight kicks off his exclusive relationship with DAZN when he takes on Jermaine Franklin at London's O2 Arena on April 1. And also headlining events over the next few months are Callum Smith, Jesse 'Bam' Rodriguez and Joe Cordina.
"What an incredible year Matchroom and DAZN have in store for fight fans around the world - and this is just the beginning," said Matchroom Sport Chairman Eddie Hearn.
"The UK's biggest boxing star Anthony Joshua returns to our screens on April 1 as he looks to reclaim his spot as the number one Heavyweight on the plant. 'AJ' has reset and refocused and he is on a mission to defy his critics as he kicks off his exciting new partnership with DAZN.
"Modern legends Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano run it back for all of the marbles at lightweight in what will be one of the most iconic sporting events that Ireland has ever seen on May 20 in Dublin. Their first meeting at MSG last year was one of the very best night's I've experienced in boxing and the rematch promises to be even bigger and better.
"Callum Smith is within touching distance of a shot at unified Light-Heavyweight ruler Artur Beterbiev and can't avoid any slip-ups against Pawel Stepien on his Liverpool homecoming on March 11 and boxing's youngest World Champion Jesse 'Bam' Rodriguez attempts to create even more history on April 8 when he goes for gold at 112lbs against Cristian Gonzalez.
"'The Welsh Wizard' Joe Cordina attempts to recapture his IBF Super-Featherweight World Title against Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov in Cardiff on April 22 and the young guns are out to impress in our first NXTGEN event of the year in Newcastle on March 18 - not forgetting the small matter of Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara in just under two weeks’ time in Nottingham. It is without a doubt the best schedule in boxing and there's still so much more to come. Watch it all live on DAZN."
The following shows will be shown live and exclusive on DAZN with further fights and full undercard details to be announced shortly:
Saturday, February 18: Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara
Hometown hero Leigh Wood (26-2, 16 KOs) puts his WBA Featherweight World Title on the line against big-punching Mexican Mauricio Lara (25-2-1, 18 KOs) as Matchroom’s 2023 schedule in the UK begins with a bang. ‘Leigh-thal’ memorably stopped Michael Conlan in the 12th and final round of his epic first defence of the WBA 126lbs title back in March 2022, knocking the Irishman out of the ring in brutal fashion to end their Fight of the Year stunner. ‘Bronco’ has been waiting patiently for his shot at Wood after their eagerly anticipated September 24 fight was postponed following a torn bicep suffered by Wood in sparring, but the Featherweight KO artist finally gets his dream World Title opportunity this month in what promises to be an epic battle between two knockout artists.
Saturday, March 11: Callum Smith vs. Pawel Stepien
The WBC’s No.1 ranked Light-Heavyweight contender Callum Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) returns home to face undefeated Pole Pawel Stepien (18-0-1, 12 KOs) at the M&S Bank Arena as he looks to secure a showdown with unified WBC, WBO and IBF ruler Artur Beterbiev later in the year. A stacked undercard sees Australia’s WBO Global Super-Lightweight Champion Liam Paro (23-0, 14 KOs) put his title on the line against local favourite Robbie Davies Jr (23-3, 15 KOs) following his sensational first-round KO win over fellow Aussie Brock Jarvis last October. One of the hottest prospects in America Diego Pacheco (17-0, 14 KOs) fights in the UK for the first time as faces another step up against Little Lever’s all-action Super-Middleweight Jack Cullen (21-3-1, 9 KOs). Full undercard details to follow.
Saturday, March 18: Cyrus Pattinson vs. Chris Jenkins
Matchroom’s first NXTGEN card of the year at the Utilita Arena Newcastle features some of the very best prospects in the North East looking to take the next steps in their promising careers. Former Team GB standout Cyrus Pattinson (5-0, 3 KOs) faces his toughest test so far in the professional ranks against Wales’ former British Welterweight Champion Chris Jenkins (23-6-3, 8 KOs) while Tokyo 2020 Olympic Silver Medallist turned Welterweight prospect Pat McCormack (3-0, 2 KOs) looks to wow his home crowd against Italy’s Dario Socci (15-7-2, 6 KOs) in his first scheduled eight-round contest. Also on the card, Birmingham’s Solomon Dacres (5-0, 1 KO) squares off with Newcastle’s Robert Ismay (11-0, 4 KOs) for the English Heavyweight Title.
Saturday, April 8: Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez vs. Cristian Gonzalez
Boxing’s youngest World Champion Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez (17-0, 11 KOs) attempts to become a two-weight ruler when he clashes with Cristian ‘El Chicharito’ Gonzalez (15-1, 5 KOs) for the vacant WBO 112lbs at the Boeing Center at Tech Port, San Antonio. The 23-year-old sensation from San Antonio, Texas enjoyed a stellar 2022, becoming boxing’s youngest active World Champion in February, stepping in late to meet Carlos Cuadras for the vacant WBC Super-Flyweight strap in Phoenix and then putting on a stunning display in his first defence, stopping Thai star Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on his San Antonio home turf in June inside eight rounds. He was named the Fighter of the Year by ESPN in their midyear awards for 2022 before outpointing Israel Gonzalez on the ‘Canelo’ vs. ‘GGG’ undercard in September.
Saturday, April 22: Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov vs. Joe Cordina
Unbeaten Welshman Joe Cordina (15-0, 9 KOs) attempts to win his IBF Super-Featherweight World Title back against current belt-holder Shavkatdzhon Rakhmiov (17-0-1, 14 KOs) at the Cardiff International Arena. ‘The Welsh Wizard’ captured the famous red and gold belt with a stunning one-punch knockout of Japan’s Kenichi Ogawa on a memorable night at the arena last June. Cordina was scheduled to make the first defence of his World Title against Rakhimov in Abu Dhabi last November but suffered a hand injury that required surgery and was subsequently stripped of his title by the IBF. Rakhimov won the vacant title by stopping Manchester’s Zelfa Barrett in nine rounds on the undercard of Dmitry Bivol vs. Gilberto Ramirez.
Saturday, May 20: Katie Taylor vs. Amanda Serrano 2
Irish legend Katie Taylor (22-0, 6 KOs) fights in Ireland for the first time in her professional career, putting her Undisputed Lightweight World Title on the line once more against Puerto Rican star Amanda Serrano (44-2-1, 30 KOs) in an unmissable rematch. Taylor cemented herself as the greatest female fighter on the planet by edging out Serrano in an epic fight for the ages on an iconic night at a sold-out Madison Square Garden in New York last April. The global superstar retained her belts after a Fight of the Year contender with multi-division World Champion Serrano – the first women’s boxing bout to headline the famous MSG in its 140-year history, attracting an unprecedented audience of 1.5 million tuning in globally on DAZN.