October 8, 2014
October 8, 2014

Feedspot followFeedly follow

WATCHING Fernando Saucedo being totally outboxed by Rances Barthelemy at the weekend reminded me how boxing fans – and I include myself in that category – often attribute a certain style to boxers from a particular nation. Saucedo fulfilled the Argentina boxer stereotype: strong and fit, very game, but lacking the sport’s finer points.
With 60 fights (52-5-3) under his belt going into the Barthelemy fight, he boasted bags of experience – but with little power in his fists he was a never likely to unseat the rangy IBF super-featherweight champion. His style just wasn’t right.
Saucedo’s compact physique and experience brought to mind another Argentine of roughly similar poundage (just 4lbs lighter at feather) in Juan Domingo Malvarez. This boxer was involved in what former Boxing News editor Harry Mullan described to me when I first met him as the most exciting fight he had ever seen ringside. That subsequently changed a few months later when he attended Marvin Hagler v Thomas Hearns, but Malvarez’s 1978 fight with Danny Lopez was a worthy second and contest worthy of being better known.
It happened in September 1978, on the undercard of Muhammad Ali’s rematch with Leon Spinks in the New Orleans Superdome (it was one of four title bouts on that show, with Mike Rossman stopping Victor Galindez and Jorge Lujan outpointing Albert Davila). Lopez was originally from Utah but moved to Los Angeles to pursue his pro fighting career, establishing himself as a devastating banger. Malvarez was, on paper, a solid but unexceptional challenger for Lopez’s WBC half of the world 9st crown (in those days there were only two versions, the other being the WBA – and the WBA restricted itself to one champion at each weight, unlike today). Like Saucedo he was experienced, with 57 contests.
Scheduled for 15 rounds, Lopez-Malvarez ended just 45 seconds into the second, but it provided more excitement than many contests going the distance. I remember Mullan telling me that, “Either man could have won at any point in the fight”. As it was, Malvarez dropped the slow-starting Lopez in the first and landed plenty more solid blows – only for Danny to wreck him with a crunching right hand in round two. Mullan told me it left him trembling with excitement.
In stark contrast, Barthelemy-Saucedo was one of those fights that would have sent you to sleep if you watched it live, as opposed to on the replay the next morning. Lopez would eventually be dethroned by Salvador Sanchez while Malvarez would challenge for the WBA title, being knocked out in nine by another outstanding champ in Eusebio Pedroza. If Juan Domingo had been born a generation later he might have been a world title-holder – but although his Lopez challenge was brief, at least it left a lasting impression on the sport, unlike compatriot Saucedo against Barthelemy.

October 8, 2014
October 8, 2014

Feedspot followFeedly follow

On Saturday, at the Foxwoods Resort Casino, DiBella Entertainment, Warriors Boxing and Foxwoods Resort Casino helped celebrate the 49th birthday of “Irish” Micky Ward with boxing fans attending the Showtime Boxing Special Edition tripleheader at Fox Theater in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

Promoter Lou DiBella, who promoted Ward (38-13, 27 KOs) during the latter part of his career, including the epic Arturo Gatti-Ward trilogy, gave Ward a beautiful watch as a birthday present during a private meet-and-greet.

“We had a terrific crowd at the Showtime Boxing event on Saturday night, and it was made more special by the celebration of Micky Ward’s 49th birthday,” said Lou DiBella. “DiBella Entertainment was and always will be Micky’s promoter. It was a great pleasure to celebrate Micky’s birthday with him.”

Fellow boxers from the past and present celebrated with Ward, a three-time participant in the “Fight of the Year,” including WBA/WBC welterweight champion Marlon “Magic Man” Starling (45-6-1, 27), 1955 World welterweight champion Tony “The Pride of Fleet Street” DeMarco (58-12-1, 33), former WBA junior welterweight and welterweight champion Jose Antonio “El Gallo” Rivera (41-6-1, 24), former IBO middleweight champion and star of The Contender, Season I reality television show, Peter “The Pride of Providence” Manfredo Jr. (40-7, 21), 2014 “Connecticut Fighter of the Year” Luis “KO King” Rosa Jr. (17-0, 7), unbeaten former WBA Interim featherweight champion Javier “El Abejon” Fortuna (25-0-1, 18), and two-time world junior welterweight title challenger “Sucra” Ray Oliviera (47-11-2, 22).

Three lucky fans were selected as winners of a “Micky Ward Birthday Contest.” Each winner and one guest apiece sat ringside with Ward during one of three televised fights and were able to take photos with him and get his autograph.

October 8, 2014
October 8, 2014
Lee Selby

Feedspot followFeedly follow

Lee Selby says he’ll prove he can back up the hype around him as he faces Joel Brunker in a final eliminator for the IBF World Featherweight title at The O2 on Saturday October 11.

The Welshman has enjoyed a brilliant 18 months in the ring, beating British rivals Martin Lindsay, Rendall Munroe and Ryan Walsh and overcoming stiff international overseas tests against Romulo Koasicha and Viorel Simeon to be one fight away from fighting for a World title.

The 27 year old must see off the dangerous unbeaten Australian to land a shot at IBF king Evgeny Gradovich, and he believes that if he does, he’ll prove that he can be a major force in the 126lbs division.

“This is the one to see if I really am a good fighter or I’m over-hyped like some people have been saying,” said Selby. “I believe that on my day I can beat anyone. If I can take my best into the ring, I don’t think there’s a featherweight out there that can live with me. I am not saying that based on my last performances, but in sparring and in the gym I believe that if I can replicate that I will prove it, and I need to deliver that tonight.

“I believe I can become the best featherweight on the planet – and if you don’t believe me, I’ll open the gym up and let people come down to the gym and watch me spar.

“Joel is a tough customer, he has power in both hands and is the real deal so this is the time for me to prove I can get to the top and stay there. I have made my hard fights look easy recently, if I had stood and had a fight with them I might have made them look good but I boxed on the back foot, used my skills, and got easy wins. That’s maybe why I am not getting the credit that I should be getting.”

Selby and Brunker have met in sparring in Las Vegas in the past, and now lock horns with the chance for World honours at stake. While the Welshman isn’t giving anything away about the sparring, he believes it will be a great fight and his recent sparring with former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez has him in the perfect shape for the hard-hitting Aussie.

“We sparred a couple of years ago when he was 23-0, it was the first time I went to America, so he’s only had four fights since,” said Selby. “We sparred at Mayweathers gym a couple of times and it was competitive and then we sparred again in Eddie Mustapha’s H.I.T Factory gym a couple of times. We didn’t talk about fighting really, I was Commonwealth champion at the time and he’s Australian so I had thought about it but not too much and neither had he, and we certainly didn’t think we’d be meeting in a final eliminator for a world title. If the sparring is anything to go by, the fans are in for a treat tonight.

“I was in Spain sparring with Kiko ahead of his World title fight with Carl Frampton. I did 30-odd rounds with him and he punches really hard. I am going to go flat out tonight, I had a week off after the last fight and I’ve been in the gym since then. I am in tremendous shape I have all sorts of sparring, everything is on track and I expect to be at my best.”

Selby had been hunting down the WBC champion Jhonny Gonzalez after claiming the International belt last July and facing Koasicha in an eliminator in May, but his desire for World honours meant he had no hesitation in taking the chance to fight for the IBF crown – and he believes Brunker is a tougher fight than one with IBF champion Evgeny Gradovich.

“The plan was to go for the WBC but then this opportunity came up and I had to grab it with both hands,” said Selby. “That’s what I am in the game for, to become a World champion: IBF, WBC, it doesn’t matter to me which one I win. They are all World titles and these days no one title is outstanding, they are all important and valuable.

“Gradovich seems to be fighting in Macau, I’d love to go out there to fight; I’d enjoy it. It’s nice to have home advantage but if you’re good enough you’re going to win anyway. Kell Brook proved that in California. It could set up a big money fight, like a unification. That’s what I am in the game for; money.

“I think that this is a tougher fight than facing Gradovich. He’s a similar type of fighter but Gradovich doesn’t punch as hard as Brunker and he’s not as relentless with his pressure either so he’d give me more time to get my shots off and outbox him.”

For the full preview don’t miss this week’s issue of Boxing News

October 8, 2014
October 8, 2014
John Wayne Hibbert

Feedspot followFeedly follow

John Wayne Hibbert says his fans will be the key as he takes a big step up to face Leonardo Esteban Gonzalez for the vacant WBC International Light Welterweight title on Saturday night (October 11) at The O2.

Hibbert had hoped to be in a domestic clash on the bill with a host of Britain’s up and coming light-welterweights in action, but instead he has landed a huge chance to leapfrog those rivals and move onto better things by facing the Argentine who has knocked out 15 of his 22 victims.

“I know this will be a hard fight but it is a golden opportunity for me to win a big title and I am ready for it,” said Hibbert. “I know he has a good knockout record but he hasn’t boxed outside of Argentina too much and I am not fazed by him. I am ready, I have trained hard and I am ready to take him apart.

“You always have to be wary in there because it is boxing and everybody can be dangerous, but he does look like he is quite heavy handed but I believe he is coming up from lightweight. Although I have to be careful of his power, likewise he needs to be careful of my power.

“I will be in there to bring the title home and with my brilliant support in there on the night, I’ll have the crowd behind me which will be massive as he’s fighting in the UK for the first time so I want them to make it hostile for him.

“I have had a look at videos of him and my trainers have had a better look. My coach has set up a game plan and I just to go out there and execute it.

“When the Southern Area title fight came up for the summer I wanted to get that as a stepping stone, because like every British boxer my aim is to win the British title so that fight would have been a stepping stone for me but it fell through and instead I fought for a Masters title. Once I win this WBC belt tonight I believe I would be way past Southern Area level.”

The 29 year old has his hands full with Gonzalez, but while he knows that victory opens plenty of doors for him, his desire to fight the winner of the English title battle between Ricky Boylan and Tyler Goodjohn remains strong – especially as he wants to finally get his hands on the former.

“Boylan has avoided the fight with me a couple of times, so whether or not that comes off will be another matter,” said Boylan.

“I will sit on the fence on that fight because I don’t think anybody has seen the best of Ricky yet. I think it will be a very good fight and if I get offered the winner then it is another title fight for me and I would be more than happy to take it, but I am very confident that I would beat both of them.”

On Saturday in Leeds, Derby’s Dave Ryan edged out Tyrone Nurse to claim the vacant Commonwealth title and blow the division wide open, and Hibbert would be out for revenge if he could meet Ryan for the title after feeling he lost unjustly to him in March 2013.

“I would like to fight Dave,” said Hibbert. “He had a great win at the weekend beating Tyrone Nurse, who a lot of people thought was unbeatable in the Light Welterweight division. I boxed Dave Ryan last year and got a very dodgy decision from the referee and I want to put that right.

“There is a bit of grudge there because he has got the nod over me before, which was very debatable although that wasn’t down to him. It would make a very good second fight and there could be some big titles on the line. It would be a fight I would be very confident I would win. I’d fight Dave Ryan tomorrow.

“The division is buzzing at the moment. You have them all; you have Chris Jenkins, who is a very, very good fighter, myself, Tyrone Nurse, Darren Hamilton, Dave Ryan is back in the mix now, it is a really exciting division and a division I am really happy to be a part of. I genuinely believe that I am the best at 10st but that is just like the rest of the guys I mentioned will believe they are the best at 10st.

“I think the division is set up for a great year next year because there are a lot of good domestic fights to be had. There are a lot of titles to be won and I think there will be a lot of twists and turns in the fights.”

Hibbert’s clash with Gonzalez is part of a huge night of action at The O2, where Lee Selby faces Joel Brunker in a final eliminator for the IBF World Featherweight title and Olympic hero Anthony Joshua MBE fights for his first pro title against Denis Bakhtov, with the winner landing the vacant WBC International Heavyweight strap.

Middleweight contender John Ryder tackles Theophilus Tetteh for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental belt, and there are more three cracking Light Welterweight bouts between Boylan and Goodjohn, Philip Bowes and Joe Hughes for the vacant Southern Area belt and Tommy Martin and Matty Tew meet in an eliminator for the English strap. Erick Ochieng, Ohara Davies and Ben Hall are also in action.

For the full preview of the show don’t miss this week’s issue of Boxing News

October 8, 2014
October 8, 2014
Marlen Esparza

Feedspot followFeedly follow

The final day of competition in Oxnard at the 2014 PAL championships featured an Olympic medallist and several current or former national champions as well as newcomers to the elite national scene.

The U.S. Army claimed their first national championship of the night in the women’s light flyweight division on October 4. Giovanni Camacho (Lakewood, Wash.) defeated Lisa Ha (Pearl City, Hawaii) in the night’s opening bout to take the gold medal.

In men’s light flyweight competition, Melik Elliston (Denver, Colo.) put on a show in his bout with Paul LeBlanc (Pahoa, Hawaii). Elliston gave LeBlanc three eight counts over the three rounds before LeBlanc’s corner threw in the towel to give Elliston the victory.

The women’s flyweight contest featured a rematch from the 2014 USA Boxing National Championships finals as 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) took on Virginia Fuchs (Houston, Texas). Once again, Esparza took the win over her fellow Houston native to win the 2014 National PAL Championship.

The men’s flyweight bout went to U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program membe Charles Williams (Colorado Springs, Colo.) in the fourth bout of the evening. Williams defeated Angel Gonzalez (Hartford, Conn.) in the final round contest to win the 2014 National PAL title.

Former featherweight national champion and lightweight competitor Melissa Parker (Colorado Springs, Colo.) made the move down to the bantamweight division for the 2014 National PAL Championships. She made her debut at the 119 pound weight class a successful one, taking the gold medal with a victory over Amanda Pavone (Burlington, Mass.) in the championship bout.

Jose Balderas (Santa Maria, Calif.) won the first championship of the night for the host state in the men’s bantamweight division. Balderas defeated Sandy Rivas (Fayetteville, N.C.) in their final round contest to claim the National PAL Championships title.

In women’s featherweight action, Rianna Rios (Fort Carson, Colo.) won an entertaining bout with Latonya Wingate (Centerline, Mich.) to claim another gold medal for the U.S. Army World Class Athlete program.

The women’s lightweight championship belt will travel home to Ohio following Alycia Baumgardner’s (Fremont, Ohio) win over Felisha Estrada-Gonzalez (Fort Carson, Colo.) in their final round match-up.

Charles Vasquez (New Port Richey, Fla.) claimed victory in the men’s lightweight division, defeating Rajiv Hernandez (Cleveland, Ohio) to earn the 2014 National PAL Championship.

Defending champion Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.) enjoyed a large cheering section of family and friends for her light welterweight division bout with Meghan Karchor (Tavers, Fla.). She sent everyone home happy with a win over Karchor in their championship bout.

In the men’s light welterweight finale, David Mijares (Pasadena, Texas) defeated Anthony Nunez (Niskayuna, N.Y.) to claim the gold medal.

Brian Ceballo (Brooklyn, N.Y.) took the victory in the battle of the northeast, winning his welterweight championship bout with James Perellla (Mansfield, Mass.).

Multi-time national champion Franchon Crews (Baltimore, Md.) had a busy night on Saturday at the Oxnard PAL Gym. She opened the evening with a beautiful rendition of the national anthem before her championship bout with Danielle Mitchell (N. Hollywood, Calif.). Crews won a second round TKO over Mitchell in the middleweight final round contest to earn the 2014 National PAL Championship.

Another boxing veteran claimed victory in the men’s middleweight division bout between Marquis Moore (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Randy Foster (Covington, Tenn.). Moore took the win over Foster for the middleweight championship.

Moore’s teammate Steven Nelson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) enjoyed success in the light heavyweight division finale as well. Nelson defeated Miguel Trejo (Anaheim, Calif.) in their contest to win light heavyweight gold.

The super heavyweight division closed the night and the event in a battle between Cassius Cheney (Charlestown, R.I.) and Raymond Walker (Arlington, Texas).  Cheney took the final 2014 National PAL Championship with a win over Walker.

Saturday’s Championship Round Results:

106 lbs/female: Giovanni Camacho, Lakewood, Wash., dec. Lisa Ha, Pearl City, Hawaii

108 lbs/male: Melik Elliston, Houston, Texas dec. Paul LeBlanc, Pahoa, Hawaii

112 lbs/female: Marlen Esparza, Houston, Texas, dec. Virginia Fuchs, Houston, Texas

114 lbs/male: Charles Williams, Colorado Springs, Colo., dec. Angel Gonzalez, Hartford, Conn.

119 lbs/female: Melissa Parker, Colorado Springs, Colo., dec. Amanda Pavone, Burlington, Mass.

123 lbs/male: Jose Balderas, Santa Maria, Calif., dec. Sandy Rivas, Fayetteville, N.C.

125 lbs/female: Rianna Rios, Fort Carson, Colo., dec. LaTonya Wingate, Centerline, Mich.

132 lbs/female: Alycia Baumgardner, Fremont, Ohio dec. Felisha Estrada-Gonzalez, Fort Carson, Colo.

132 lbs/male: Charles Vasquez, New Port Richey, Fla., dec. Rajiv Hernandez, Cleveland, Ohio

141 lbs/female: Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, Calif., dec. Meghan Karchor, Tavers, Fla.

141 lbs/male: David Mijares, Pasadena, Calif., dec. Anthony Nunez, Niskayuna, N.Y.

152 lbs/male: Brian Ceballo, Brooklyn, N.Y., dec. James Perella, Mansfield, Mass.

165 lbs/female: Franchon Crews, Baltimore, Md., won on TKO over Danielle Mitchell, N. Hollywood, Calif.

165 lbs/male: Marquis Moore, Colorado Springs, Colo., dec. Randy Foster, Covington, Tenn.

178 lbs/male: Steven Nelson, Colorado Springs, Colo., dec. Miguel Trejo, Anaheim, Calif.

201 lbs/male: Sardius Simmons, Flint, Mich., won on walkover over Derae Crane, Colorado Springs, Colo.

201+ lbs/male: Cassius Chaney, Charlestown, R.I., dec. Raymond Walker, Arlington, Texas

For more amateur boxing news, including the Asian Games don’t miss this week’s issue of Boxing News

October 7, 2014
October 7, 2014

Feedspot followFeedly follow

BENNY LEONARD, who reigned as world lightweight champion from 1917 to 1925, was such a great boxer that his position as the best ever at 9st 9lbs was called into question only with the arrival in the 1970s of Roberto Duran.

Even in his own era, Leonard was considered to have surpassed Joe Gans, who bossed the lightweights in the very early 1900s, when the weight limit still fluctuated, and who figured in at least one contest widely acknowledged to have been fixed.

But then Benny was around in the Roaring Twenties, when a world tired of war was ready to enjoy itself, with prize fighting the chief pleasures. Jack Dempsey was Leonard’s near-contemporary as world heavyweight champion (1919-1926) and the likes of Leonard were able to ride on the coattails of the Manassa mauler.

Benny’s biggest night came in July 1922 when he boxed a no decision contest against Lew Tendler, a clever southpaw from Philadelphia and a Jew like Leonard. Tex Rickard promoted it at the Jersey City Bowl he’d had built for the previous year’s Dempsey-Georges Carpentier battle, and 80,000 fans paid a $368,000 gate.

It was also the occasion of one of Benny’s most celebrated feats of ringcraft. Tendler had him hurt, reportedly out on his feet, but Leonard cleverly hid that fact from the challenger and boxed his way out of trouble. When they met in a title bout the following year, Benny had solved Tendler’s portsided stance and was a good points winner after 15 rounds.

For all his reputation as a master boxer, the 5ft 5ins Leonard gave the fans plenty of thrills. When Benny passed away in 1947 Duke Burley underlined that fact in his obituary.

“The greatness of Leonard lay in the fact that he was not a sensational performer, yet almost all his important fights produced a maximum of thrills. Benny was a skilful boxer, a master when it came to forcing an opening. But he was inclined to get careless, and more than one challenger came within an inch of beating him.”

And while Leonard had a superb left hand, he also carried a wallop in his right. Emphasised Burley, “Few got off the boards after a Leonard right had found the target. Benny hit with the knuckle all the time, and was never known to suffer a hand injury throughout the course of his long career.”

That career began on the streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where Benny was born Benjamin Leiner in 1896. Poverty meant that he was boxing professionally at 15. He rose quickly through the ranks after earning $10 for his debut.

When his world title chance came in 1917 he was ready – which is more than could be said for champion Freddie Welsh. It was officially a no decision 10-rounder, meaning the title could change hands only if Welsh lost inside the distance.

The man from Pontypridd, nearing the end of his career, had neglected training and came in over the lightweight limit. If he assumed he’d still be there at the final bell come what may, he assumed wrong as Leonard bounced him off the floor several times before putting him down for keeps in the ninth. The title had changed hands and, if the circumstances were debatable, Benny set about proving himself a worthy champion.

Johnny Kilbane, the world featherweight king, challenged Leonard up at 9-9 and Benny knocked him out in three rounds.

In 1920 British-born Charley White hurt Leonard with his famed left hook and dropped him out of the ring with the following right. Fans pushed Benny back in and White went wild in his attempts to finish it. That was in round five, but Benny rode out the storm and in the ninth knocked out White.

Benny proved such an outstanding champion that his crisis moments came only when he had taken a challenger lightly. In 1921 Richie Mitchell had down in round one but Leonard rallied to KO him in the sixth. Rocky Kansas, who would become 9-9 king after Benny’s retirement in 1925, was floored and outscored in a title tilt.

By the summer of 1922 Leonard, looking for a challenge, moved up to take on world welter king Jack Britton. In round 13 Benny let a punch stray low and he was disqualified for the only time in his career.

A dearth of worthy opponents in his own division led him to retire as reigning champion, but when the Wall Street Crash wiped out his investments, he returned in 1931 as a welterweight. After feasting on mediocre opponents, he went in with hotshot Jimmy McClarnin and was hammered in six rounds in October 1932.

He never fought again, but taught boxing in the US Navy during World War II and on demobilisation became a referee in the Big Apple. It was while handling a prelim at St Nicholas Arena that he collapsed and died shortly afterwards. He was only 51.

October 7, 2014
October 7, 2014

Feedspot followFeedly follow

IN the space of two days, two big fights have been called off due to ankle injuries suffered by two of the would-be participants.

Firstly, the heavyweight return meeting between Tony Thompson and Odlanier Solis, set for October 18 in Dusseldorf, had to be postponed due to Solis spraining an ankle in training. Then, late last night UK time, the Saul Alvarez-Joshua Clottey fight, set for December 6 in Texas on HBO, was scrapped due to a niggling and long term ankle injury Alvarez wants to let heal.

According to Golden Boy, there is now a real possibility Canelo will sit out the remainder of this year and meet Miguel Cotto in a massive fight next May. This of course leaves an understandably angry Clottey out in the cold.

“These guys always find [an] excuse not to fight with me,” Clottey wrote on his Twitter page a few hours ago. “Okay now I understand I am too big of a risk.”

Clottey also wrote how he had agreed to take less money than he’d wanted, and that he now has no respect for Alvarez.

As for the Thompson-Solis rematch, the first fight won by Thompson on points, promoter Ahmet Oner says Solis will have to rest for ten days but can go back into training after that. The new date being targeted is November 22, again in Dusseldorf.