November 21, 2014

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science — Women's Boxing Monthly Vol 18

Tragedy strikes our sport in South Africa
By Mark A. Jones — On October 10, aspiring South African light-welterweight professional boxer, Phindile Mwelase entered the ring for the fourth time seeking her first victory against six-fight veteran Liz Butler. However, Mwelase was knocked out by her more experienced foe in the sixth round of a scheduled eight. Tragically, after the bout it was discovered that Mwelase had sustained bleeding on the brain that required emergency surgery; subsequently, she slipped into a coma from which she never recovered. On October 25 at a hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, she died of the injuries that she sustained in the contest, she was 31. Reuters quoted the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, who stated, “She joined a sport that is predominately male, and was proving that women can also succeed in boxing.”

Rest in Peace Mwelase
To date, the death of Mwelase is the second ring-death of a female boxer. The first such tragic happening was in April 2005 when American amateur boxer Becky Zerlentes died of injuries sustained in a knockout loss.

The final boxing record of Phindile Mwelase stands at (0-3-1).

The 2014 Elite Women’s World Boxing Championships will be held from November 16-25 in Jeju, South Korea. This year 337 female athletes from 74 nations will compete in ten weight classes making the eighth edition of the event the largest in the tournament’s history and the first since the 2012 Olympic Games. The inaugural tournament was held in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 2001. Nineteen year old middleweight (165-pound) Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields leads the 10-women USA squad. She is looking forward to avenging her only amateur loss to Savannah “The Silent Assassin” Marshall of Britain in the second-round of the 2012 tournament. Katie Taylor (Ireland) the Gold Medalist at lightweight (132-pounds) weight division at the 2012 Olympic Games will look to win her fifth-in-a-row world title at the games. 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist at flyweight (112-pounds) Nicola Adams will not compete at Jeju due to a shoulder injury.

Sweet Logo
Team USA Participants:

108- Alex Love (Army)
112- Marlen Esparza (Houston)
119- Christina Cruz (New York City)
125- Tiara Brown (Fort Myers)
132- Queen Underwood (Seattle)
141- Destiny Chearino (Warwick)
152- Danyelle Wolf (San Diego)
165- Claressa Shields (Flint)
178- Heidi Henriksen (St. Louis Park)
178+ Krystal Dixon (New Rochelle)


Looking At Female Heavyweight Boxing:

The heavyweight division in women’s boxing has been unstable since the retirement of Natascha Ragosina (22-0, 13 KOs) in 2009. On November 6 in Broadbeach, Queensland, Australia, Lisa Marie Vizaniari, 269 ¾, of Gold Coast, stopped American southpaw Kathy Rivers, 180, in the tenth round winning the vacant WIBA heavyweight title. Rivers suffered a knockdown from a well-placed right cross, mid-way into the final round. After rising from the canvas on unsteady legs, Rivers was unable to endure the onslaught of heavy punches that were accurately delivered by Vizaniari prompting the referee to cut short the contest just two seconds prior to the final bell. With the win, Vizaniari, 42, not only gave the heavyweight division a needed shot in the arm, but moved her undefeated record to (8-0, 4 KOs) whereas Rivers, 47, in her first bout in 7 ½ years, showed well but dips to (14-6-3, 5 KOs). Hopefully, both fighters stay active in the heavyweight division adding much-needed depth to a weight class in sore need of capable fighters.

In other heavyweight action, on November 8 at the Longshoremen’s Hall in San Francisco, California, Martha Salazar, 235, pounded out a ten-round unanimous decision victory (100-90 x3) over New York’s Tanzee Daniel who scaled 252 pounds for the contest. With the win, Salazar secured the vacant WBC World female heavyweight title. It was the first fight in nearly 19 months for the 44-year-old Salazar (13-4, 3 KOs) who has found it difficult to find opponents in the shallow female heavyweight landscape.

Lamonakis and Ewell are the center of attention
Daniel, 37, drops to (4-4-1, 1 KO) with the loss.

On December 6 in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, in another important heavyweight battle, Sonya Lamonakis (9-1-2, 1 KO) of New York City battles Winston-Salem’s Carlette Ewell (15-7-1, 9 KOs) in an evenly matched ten-round battle for the vacant IBO heavyweight title. The two boxers battled to a six-round, split-draw in New York City in January 2012. Since, Lamonakis has entered the ring five times (3-1-1) whereas Ewell has been inactive.

KO Digest’s Top 5 Heavyweight (168 lbs +)
:

1- Martha Salazar (USA)
2- Lisa Marie Vizaniari (Australia)
3- Sonya Lamonakis (USA)
4- Carlette Ewell (USA)
5- Kathy Rivers (USA)

Quick Hits for October/November:

Persoon pounds Prazak
In Belguim Delfine Persoon (31-1, 14 KOs) of Roeselare, defended the WBC lightweight title with a ninth round technical knockout over Australian-born, Diana Prazak. At the time of the stoppage, each judge favored Persoon by a wide margin (80-71/80-71/80-72). Prazak, despite the loss, maintains the WBC super-featherweight title. Prazak is a true warrior who in the past two years has faced three elite fighters in Frida Wallberg, Holly Holm, and Persoon.

In Germany Susi Kentikian (34-2, 17 KOs) of Hamburg, defended her WBA World female flyweight title for the fourth time with a ten-round unanimous decision (96-94/97-93/97-94) over Japan’s Naoko Fukioka (12-1, 6 KOs). Fukioka, who previously held world titles at both minimumweight and super-flyweight, was seeking a world title in her third weight class.

In Mexico, Erica Anabella Farias (21-1, 10 KOs) won the WBC World female light-welterweight title with a ten-round, split-decision victory over tough brawler Alejandra Mariana Oliveras (31-3-2, 16 KOs). Two judges preferred Farias 97-94 and 97-93 whereas a third judge ruled in the favor of Oliveras 99-92. With the win, Farias, the former WBC lightweight champion, wins a legitimate world title in a second weight class. Both fighters are of Argentinian descent.

In Mexico two-time bantamweight champion Yazmin Rivas (31-8, 9 KOs) defended her WBC World female bantamweight title for the second time with a ten-round unanimous decision (98-92/98-92/97-93) over Australia’s Susie Ramadan (23-2, 8 KOs).

This bout was a rematch of an October 2011 IBF bantamweight title fight also won by Rivas.

P4P reality TV
In Argentina Yesica Patricia Marcos (25-0-2, 9 KOs) of San Martin, defended her WBA super-bantamweight title with a first round knockout of Mexico’s Estrella Valverde (10-5-2). Marcos is (8-0-1, 4 KOs) in world title fights with the only blemish being a January 2013 ten-round draw with Marcela Eliana Acuna. With another impressive win, Marcos will re-enter the pound-for-pound elite. (§) In Sweden Mikaela Lauren (23-3, 8 KOs) of Stockholm, won the vacant WBC light-middleweight title a razor-thin, majority-decision over former welterweight title challenger Alexsandra Magdziak Lopes (10-3-2, 1 KO) of Marshfield, Massachusetts. Lauren dedicated her title-winning performance to the retired Swedish boxer Frida Wallberg, who she considers being the pioneer of women’s boxing in Sweden.

A Look Ahead To Scheduled Women's Boxing Action:

Chavez or Zamora-Silva?
On November 22 in Mexico City, Ibeth Zamora-Silva (20-5, 8 KOs) of San Cristobal, will make her third defense of the WBC World light-flyweight title when she battles Jessica Chavez (21-3-3, 4 KOs) of Mexico City. Since retaining her WBC Silver light-flyweight title in June 2013 by a narrow unanimous decision victory over Argentina’s Yesica Bopp, Chavez, 23, has dipped her toe into the 112-pound flyweight division. Although posting a (3-0-1) record, she found it difficult to perform to the same level she enjoyed as a light-flyweight. In this fight, Chavez is trimming down to 108-pounds and will look to avenge a six-round decision loss to Zamora-Silva earlier in her career and win a world light-flyweight title for the second time. Zamora-Silva, 25, was overlooked and underappreciated earlier in her career having to fight for the ‘interim’ WBA minimumweight and WBC World light-flyweight titles outside of her home country of Mexico; she posted wins on both occasions. Her coming out party was an October 2013 unanimous decision victory over American Ava Knight, who was widely thought of as a pound-for-pound (P4P) elite fighter at the time. Both Zamora-Silva and Chavez are considered among the P4P best in the sport with Chavez possessing better skills marginally; Zamora-Silva must defy odds yet again to retain her title.

Is Retzke ready for Braekhus?

On November 29 at the Falconer Centeret in Frederiksberg, Denmark, on a Sauerland Promotions card tabbed, “All or Nothing” the “First Lady” of women’s boxing, Cecilia Braekhus (26-0, 7 KOs) places her four world welterweight titles on the line (WBC, WBA, WBO & IBF) when she defends against Berlin, Germany’s Jennifer Retzke (15-1-1, 9 KOs). The 29-year-old Retzke has held minor titles at light-welterweight (GBU) and welterweight (IBO) and in April 2011, knocked out Eva Halasi (TKO-5) to win the IBF light-middleweight title. Braekhus required only three rounds to knockout Halasi in defense of the WBC & WBO World welterweight titles in November of 2010. Retzke is similar in style to Ivana Habazin who Braekhus defeated in September by a wide-margined unanimous decision; the German power puncher is slow and moves in straight lines, but is well conditioned and possesses above average power. Retzke said of her chances against Braekhus, “Cecilia is a great champion but this is my time to shine, “said Retzke. “My training has been going well. I’m in top condition. On November 29, there will be a new undisputed Female World Welterweight Champion. All four belts are coming home with me!''

Braekhus, 33, of Bergen, Norway, will be embarking on her first defense of the unified world welterweight titles by facing the well-decorated Retzke. It will be the fourth start of 2014 for the champion who faced nothing but elite competition as her opponent’s combined 74-8-1 record would indicate. Braekhus said of her stellar 2014 and her upcoming title defense, “I’m in great shape and ready to defend my titles in style, ’’ said Braekhus. To unify the division in my last fight was a dream come true. It’s hard to put into words what that meant to me. There is no way I’m going to let Retzke take these belts away from me. I’ve had a great 2014, and I’m ready to end the year on a high with another victory in Copenhagen.” (§) Braekhus is the consensus current P4P queen of women’s boxing. Her ability to box, peruse, and evade punishment are unmatched in women’s boxing today. Retzke, in any other era, would be considered a formable opponent but will be reduced to a novice amateur unable to lay a serious glove on Braekhus. The champion holds every conceivable advantage in this matchup and will coast to a wide-margined decision victory or late-round stoppage.

Svensson
On the undercard, bold & beautiful emerging superstar, Klara “The Swedish Princess” Svensson (14-0, 5 KOs) of Malmo, Sweden, will defend her interim WBC World female light-welterweight title against the brash Italian slugger, Lucia Morelli (18-4, 8 KOs). In some pre-fight trash-talk, Morelli stated of Svensson, a statuesque blond, that she looks more like a model than a fighter. The 27-year-old Svensson, who in September dispensed some choice language towards fellow Swede Mikaela Lauren when Lauren criticized her ability, said of Morelli, ”That’s a brave comment, ’’ said Svensson. ‘’My first thought when I saw it: I’m going to remodel her face!” Morelli is aggressive and likely the best fighter Svensson will have faced in her blossoming career, but at the age of 35, what does the challenger have left? Morelli has suffered three stoppage losses; two at the fists of Delfine Persoon and one to French slugger Myriam Lamare. Look for Svensson, who is promoted by Sauerland Promotions, to impress.

Morelli

KO Digest’s Top 5 light-welterweight (140 lbs.):

1- Erica Anabella Farias (Argentina)
2- Fernanda Soledad Alegre (Argentina)
3- Alejandra Marina Oliveras (Argentina)
4- Ana Laura Esteche (Argentina)
5- Klara Svensson (Sweden)

Quick Hits for November/December:

On November 21 in San Diego, California, 21-year-old emerging star, Kenia Enriquez (12-0, 6 KOs) of Tijuana, will battle veteran slugger Ana Arrazola (21-10-2, 13 KOs) with the vacant WBO World female flyweight title on the line. The title was recently relinquished by Argentine superstar, Yesica Bopp. Arrazola struggles against A-level competition and is (0-4) in major world title bouts. (§) On December 6, Shindo Go (14-2, 9 KOs) will travel from the friendly confines of Osaka, Japan to Monterrey, Mexico, to fight popular Mexican slugger Arely “Machine Gun” Mucino (20-2-2, 10 KOs) in defense of her WBC World female flyweight title. Go has the all-around boxing skills to out duel the considerable firepower of Mucino, but she must win by stoppage; the challenger, Mucino is the hometown fighter in this matchup. (§) On December 6 in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, Jacki Nava (30-4-3, 13 KOs) of Tijuana will defend the WBC World super-bantamweight title and her WBA Super super-bantamweight title when she faces former IBF World female super-bantamweight champion Katy Wilson Castillo (18-1, 11 KOs). This fight will be the third of 2014 for Nava, who returned to the ring in May after a nearly two-year hiatus. Castillo was last in the ring in May 2013, but is tall, rangy, and possesses a big left-hook.

Han wraps in the west Texas town of El Paso
On December 12 in El Paso, Texas, Jennifer Han (11-3-1, 1 KO) of El Paso, looks to become a world title holder for the first time when she battles Nigerian power-puncher, Helen Joseph (12-2-1, 7 KOs). Han is a former amateur standout who is relatively unknown having fought in obscurity, mostly West Texas. In March, Han travel to South Korea to fight for a minor featherweight title and was the victim of one of the worst decisions of 2014 when she lost a ten-round, majority-decision to Ji-Hye Woo (14-2) of Seoul, Korea. Most recently, Han, in her hometown of El Paso, won an eight-round unanimous decision over Christina Ruiz (7-7-3).

KO Digest’s Dynamite Dozen Top 12 P4P: Persoon surges up to #2, Yesica Bopp bumped out with a baby Bopp on the way

Braekhus is the face of women's boxing
1- Cecilia Braekhus 26-0, 7 KOs (Norway)
2- Delfine Persoon 31-1, 14 KOs (Belgium)
3- Marcela Eilana Acuna 42-6-1, 18 KOs (Argentina)
4- Anne Sophie Mathis 27-3, 23 KOs (France)
5- Jackie Nava 30-4-3, 13 KOs (Mexico)
6- Erica Anabella Farias 21-1, 10 KOs (Argentina)
7- Jessica Chavez 21-3-3, 4 KOs (Mexico)
8- Ibeth Zamora-Silva 20-5, 8 KOs (Mexico)
9- Susi Kentikian 34-2, 17 KOs (Germany)
10- Jelena Mrdjenovich 33-9-1, 17 KOs (Canada)
11- Christina Hammer 17-0, 10 KOs (Germany)
12- Diana Prazak 13-3, 9 KOs (Australia/ USA) 

"The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science" is written by women's boxing expert Mark A. Jones -- exclusively for KO Digest. You can find more of Mark's female fight coverage on his women's boxing blog:  Boxing Jones

November 16, 2014

Ringside Report — Lamour wins, Berry jinxed in front of Michael Spinks

The Haitian Sensation is the face of Maine boxing
By Jeffrey Freeman — The Portland Expo show held on Saturday in southern Maine was a very good night at the fights. The one hundredth boxing card held at the historic seacoast venue was jammed with close to three thousand fans from all around the region. KO Digest was on hand and published in the official program as well. Former World Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion Michael "The Jinx" Spinks was in the house for a paid meet & greet and the champ was looking great in a classy pin-striped suit and black hat. Knowing that he's sick of questions about his troubled older brother Leon, I didn't even ask. When I told Spinks that Wladmir Klitschko had successfully defended his old title belt earlier that day across the globe in Hamburg, Germany against the IBF's #1 rated heavyweight contender Kubrat Pulev, Spinks appeared disinterested and it's hard to blame him. In the ring when introduced to an appreciative crowd of many older fans, Michael did a little shadowboxing. It was like old times. In fact, Spinks, 58, looked like he could still knock out the giant Gerry Cooney if they fought again tomorrow.

Michael "The Jinx" Spinks strikes a pose for KO Digest
In professional boxing action:

Mainer Casey Kramlich won his junior middleweight debut against "bad guy" Jesus Cintron (1-8) earning a four-round decision and an important lesson in the dark arts of punching for pay. Mainer Jason Quirk then won his middleweight pro debut with a first-round demolition of Boston's Brian Diaz.

Quirk is a fireman and he put Diaz out quick.

Berry's first loss as a pro
Worcester's Freddie Sanchez played the spoiler role, upsetting Mainer Brandon "The Cannon" Berry with a surprising fourth-round TKO. It looked like Berry hurt his left shoulder in the second round while throwing into an exchange of arms. The fight was stopped with Berry on his feet, bloody and in trouble, after suffering a knockdown. Berry (8-1) was previously undefeated while Sanchez (3-0) remains so. (§) United States Marine Jimmy Smith scored a sensationally brutal third-round KO of light welterweight Moises Rivera who he froze up on the ropes with a "ready or not here I come" uppercut. Rivera was out cold in the front lean and rest position and he pitched over onto his side on cue as if shot to the sheer delight of the pro-Maine crowd. Smith, who once wanted to fight Berry, sent a strong message with his performance.

Super bantamweight Jorge Abiague beat Eduardo Melendez by DQ in the second round when Melendez threw a knee.

Veteran referee Jackie Morrell threw him out for it.

Lamour is the real deal in the 207
And in the main event, Portland Boxing Club's pride and joy Russell "The Haitian Sensation" Lamour beat Ahsandi "Brixx" Gibbs by eight-round unanimous decision to add the IBA North American title to the New England middleweight title he already has. Stylistically, the fight resembled Evander Holyfield's first battle against Mike Tyson with Lamour, now 11-0, as the real deal. Boxing's resurgence in Maine continues and KO Digest is proud to be a part of its ringside coverage. Great seeing friends of boxing Kevin Roberts and Peter Dumont in the crowd as well. Enjoy that "Cannon" shirt Kevin.

In the amateur ranks:

Spinks signs at the EXPO in Portland
The two featured light welterweight USA Boxing warm-up bouts were very entertaining, and action-packed. Mainer Choi Wong outpointed New Jersey's Christian Castro (2-1) while Maryland's Amelia Moore won on points (2-1) against Portland's own Lindsay Kyajohnian on the sweet side of the sweet science. Promoter Al Valenti and Portland Boxing Club President Bobby Russo have a winning formula in Maine.  

Images and Words by KO Digest Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Freeman

November 9, 2014

Sergey Kovalev welcomes Bernard "The Alien" Hopkins back to planet Earth

The Alien got schooled in Russian but in the end he was all class
By David McLeod — There would be a rude welcoming party for Bernard Hopkins on this historic night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Sergey Kovalev made his intentions clear even before the bout, that he was going to bring the aging champion known as "The Alien" back down to Earth. "I'm going to beat Hopkins. I want to help him stop his career, because he doesn't want to stop by himself." But Hopkins had heard it all before from bigger punchers. "I fear no one, and when you don't fear no one, they fear you. They feel it," he would claim. As the main event neared at the Boardwalk Hall Arena, you could feel a nervous energy consume the estimated crowd of 8,545. They knew they were about to experience an historic moment, regardless of the outcome. Either they would bear witness to the passing of the guard, or "the youngest old man in the world," as Hopkins put it, was going to pull off one of the biggest upsets since Ali rumbled with Foreman exactly forty years prior.

The fighter from Philly was the decided fan-favorite, and eerily similar to the Rocky IV movie, you could hear boos as the Russian National Anthem was played over the air. Chants of  "U.S.A." rocked the arena just moments before the HBO telecast went live.

With :49 left in the first, Hopkins was taking a count
B-Hop takes one for the team, ends boxing's Cold War

Kovalev quickly took the crowd out of the fight itself, when a hard right hand caught Hopkins high on the head and deposited him on the canvas early in the opening round. "The Krusher" would continue to walk him down, and a hard shove to the canvas by Hopkins should've drawn a warning, as Kovalev quickly scrambled back to his feet. Hopkins 55-7-2 (32KO's) found limited success in the fifth using angles and getting Kovalev's punch-rate down, but as Hopkins would state later in the post-fight press conference, "I felt like a middleweight, maybe a super middleweight against a cruiserweight." Both men had their moments in the seventh, but Kovalev 26-0-1 (23KO's) was the man in charge. After nine rounds, it was obvious "The Alien" was trailing badly, and in the tenth round, Sergey's trainer, John David Jackson could be heard repeatedly yelling in the corner, "Let that right hand go!"

Hopkins tried to win the championship rounds, but the best punch of the eleventh round belonged to Kovalev, and he landed a right hand similar to the one that dropped Hopkins earlier. By the final round, Hopkins was desperately needing an improbable  knockout to win, and he went for it. The result was a high action round, with Hopkins landing a hard punch that may have landed on the neck, and Kovalev stumbled as if he was hurt. Kovalev responded by pounding Bernard along the ropes, and a lesser man would have been knocked out by some of the blows landed by the "Krusher" in the final moments. The scoring was a mere formality, as the scores of 120-107 (twice) and 120-106 made Kovalev the WBO as well as the IBF and WBA light heavyweight champion. Going the distance for the first time against a living legend like Hopkins should do tremendous things for the new title holder's confidence.

After the final bell, Bernard gave Kovalev his deserved praise. "He fought a good, technical fight, and he stuck to his game plan. He's going to be around for a long time," he said. "The fans want to see one title, one belt," he continued. When asked if this was time for retirement, Hopkins coyly responded, "I have a lot of time to talk about it." He also gave praise to John David Jackson's skills as a trainer. "He's a Hall of Fame trainer, and a good teacher. That played out today, and you have to give him credit." 

At the post fight press conference, I asked Kovalev about what's next. "Before you arrived, Kathy Duva told me this fight was for the glory, the next fight is for the money." Are you willing to fight Adonis Stevenson, and does it have to be here, I asked. "Anytime. Anyplace, I will fight him anywhere," he said without hesitation. "This fight needs to be done," he said, looking at Kathy.

"I'm working on it," the classy Main Events promoter said with a smile.  

Ali is a new World Star Welterweight

Ali surprised everyone by destroying Abregu
In the co-main event, Sadam "World Kid" Ali faced his toughest challenge to date, Luis Carlos Abregu. The fight started out slowly, as both welterweight used the first round as a feeling out round. There wasn't much action, and the crowd started the boos, but two solid right hands by Ali won the round easily. The paced picked up in the second however, and a right hand by Ali was met by a left hook by Abregu. Ali would later admit in the post-fight press conference he felt his power. "Abregu can crack," he said. After a close third round, Ali went back to work in the fourth with right hands, and beautiful right cross hit Abregu right on the button, and he dropped to the canvas. Sadam picked up right where he left off in the seventh to the chants of "Ali" although Abregu did manage to land a hard right before the bell. He also did well in the eighth, although he always appeared susceptible to the left hook.

Still, Ali seemed to be in control as he would slide away from shots along the ropes. His speed and footwork made the difference. Abregu started the ninth very aggressive, but a vicious left hook, right hand combination stunned Abregu, and this time he dropped in a delayed reaction. Sensing he had his man hurt, Ali landed a hook, followed by a right cross that had Abregu in deep trouble.

Referee Harvey Dock had seen enough. The time of the stoppage was 1:54 of round nine.

Ali, now 21-0 (13 KO's) had plenty to be happy about after taking on the heavy punching Abregu, now 36-2 (29 KO's). "The knockout wasn't something I was looking for, but it came, and I took it," said the winner. His promoter, Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions also had high praise. "Here you have a guy like Abregu who was a puncher, who went the distance with Timothy Bradley, and this kid takes a huge step up, but he believes in himself, and passed the test with flying colors."

Ringside Report


Credentialed Coverage by David McLeod — exclusively for KO Digest

Live Action Photos Courtesy of Ed Diller — used with permission

November 8, 2014

KO Digest Ringside Report - Eat, drink, fight: One Night in Cockeysville

Sho-Nuff
By John Scheinman — It was a strange sight, watching Women’s International Boxing Association welterweight champion Tori “Sho-Nuff” Nelson climb into the ring Thursday night with zero applause at her introduction. The full-house crowd of 600 at Martins Valley Mansion in Cockeysville, Md., was too busy having a high, old time at that point to pay the fights much attention, but the night was certainly a huge success. The 9th annual “An Evening Ringside” to benefit the Jonathan Ogden Foundation is the first of two major charity boxing events on the regional calendar, preceding the far more elaborate – and expensive – “Fight Night for Children” on Nov. 15 in Washington, D.C. The former star Baltimore Ravens lineman has run his tax-exempt organization to “assist young people in disadvantaged communities develop self esteem through athletics and education,” as his website says, since 1996.

What time do the Scores girls hit the hay?
The boxing show he puts on is, like “Fight Night,” a multifaceted event, with a sit-down buffet dinner (crab cakes were top-notch with the Italian sausage running a close second), open bar, memorabilia auction and a bevy of exotic beauties mixing with the crowd all evening. Throw in six fights and it’s a potent cocktail – did I mention open bar? – for fun seekers. It delivers a good time every time. Venroy July’s Hardwork Promotions handled the card and Chris Middendorf, the full-time matchmaker for Iron Mike Productions, put the bouts together. “This is the only outside event I do now,” Middendorf said. “The venue is fantastic; it’s a good cause – why not?”

Indeed, the venue is fantastic, an elegant chandeliered ballroom with sightlines to the ring from every seat in the house. Nelson, 144, of South Hill, Va., who vanquished Mia St. John among others in her rise to the top, scored a workmanlike four-round decision win over Lucretia Meacham, 143 1/2, Pine Bluff, Ark., to raise her record to 12-0-3. Meacham fell to 3-13-1.

All judges scored 40-36. Later in the night, Nelson posted on Facebook, “Well bed time. I have gym at 9 am. Be Blessed.”

That’s commitment.

In other women’s bouts: 

Melissa St. Vil, 137, Brooklyn, N.J., drew with Ashleigh Curry, 140 1/2, Houston, Tex., over six two-minute rounds. St. Vil started walking down her southpaw opponent mid-fight but the judges split 59-55 for St. Vil, 58-56 for Curry and 57-57. Rolando Chinea, 136, Lancaster, Pa., went to 10-0 with a six-round unanimous decision victory over Evan Woolsey, 136, Wichita, Kan., 2-5. Woolsey was slight but capable enough to defend himself and hang with Chinea even though all judges scored 60-54.

In men's professional action:

Boxing Media Doo-Wop Gang
Willie Williams, 188, Baltimore, scored a four-round unanimous decision win over Michael Gutrick, 188, La Plata, Md., to move his record to 14-8-2, while Gutrick fell to 3-8. Gutrick, 34, was something out of the past. He hadn’t fought since Dec. 8, 2006, when he was stopped in two rounds in a fight on Long Island. He came in shape, though. The knockdown referee Brent Borell ruled in the first round, which led to an eight-count, looked like a bad call. Gutrick had thrown a wild overhand right and his momentum appeared to carry him down more than the glancing shot he got clipped with. This, by far, was the best action fight of the night, with Gutrick repeatedly putting Williams on the ropes, and Williams blasting his way out with right hands that rarely missed their targeted head. The fighters were perfectly matched. Gutrick might've had the upper-hand if he could move his head better. In the middle of one blistering segment, boxing writer Jack Obermayer quipped, “They’re going to need a charity for themselves.” The judges went 40-35 twice and 39-36. Gutrick did his best work in the last round, and I scored 39-36 for Williams as well.

In the opener, James Robinson, 160 ½, York, Pa., 2-1-2, scored a TKO over Joshua Robertson, 166, 7-7, at 1:01 of the second in a scheduled four. Robinson, who came to fight, was staggered by a combination with 10 seconds to go in the first round. A right hand in the second rocked and dropped him, and he staggered to his feet and couldn't continue.

Ringside Report by John Scheinman - exclusively for KO Digest.

November 6, 2014

Bernard "The Alien" Hopkins vs "The Krusher" Kovalev — KO Staff Picks

The Executioner predicts a bold statement
When Bernard Hopkins steps into the ring Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey to face Sergey Kovalev, he'll have to beat more than just the power punching Russian in front of him, he'll have to beat the legions of critics and skeptics who (again) insist he'll lose, possibly by knockout. Make no mistake, Hopkins is an underdog in this light heavyweight title unification bout but he likes it that way and the 49-year old living legend thrives on the competition, both in the ring and in the court of pubic opinion.

"I have the same thoughts on Kovalev that most people do," Hopkins said. "He's a dangerous puncher. We won't take anything away from him. He's a real threat. It won't be an easy fight, even if it looks easy. I don't just have to beat the man, I have to beat a lot of people. They're either going to watch me win or lose, and I don't mind playing that game. People believe that Adonis Stevenson jumped ship because he didn't want to fight Kovalev. Fans believe Kovalev is the most dangerous light heavyweight in the division. I will not go back on my word that the man who beats the man becomes the man. That's the political part but I'll gain strong support from boxing fans by beating Kovalev. It will open up a lot of debate about where I stand in the division."

Kovalev predicts he'll kick some ass
Kovalev (25-0-1, 23 KOs) fights. Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KOs) talks and fights.

It's been an enlightening promotion but the "Krusher" doesn't expect much in the way of resistance, clean or otherwise: "Nothing dangerous from Hopkins. He's already old. I don't have any strategy, just street fight. My hands are my weapons. I'm going to kick his ass. I'm 100% sure this will not be a clean fight from Hopkins. Something will happen. If he is feeling like he can't do something legally, he starts playing like actor, complaining about pain or low blow or like in his first fight against Chad Dawson. Who is the referee in the ring? Who are the judges? If I lose, I lose but I'm not going to."

If you lose, you lose? No strategy? If that sounds familiar it's because American President Barack Obama made some scary headlines over the summer in Washington D.C. by declaring to the White House press corp that he had no strategy ("yet") to ultimately "degrade and defeat" the the genocidal terrorist Caliphate known as the Islamic State. Yes, of course Kovalev has a strategy. Along with John David Jackson, he is cornered by no less of a boxing wizard than Don Turner, best remembered for helping Christian warrior Evander Holyfield defeat Mike Tyson in 1996. Hopkins and Tyson are both Muslims who converted while incarcerated in America.

The Russian readies for war
Krusher Kovalev, 31, is a cold warrior with no love lost for Chechens or anyone like them.

"I'm going to fight a clean fight but if Hopkins fights dirty, I will be fighting dirty."

"When I step into that ring I'm at war with everybody," warned Hopkins.

David McLeod will be ringside in Atlantic City to report on the hostilities for KO.  

We polled the remaining KO Digest staff for predictions:

Terry Strawson, Spotlight On Boxing's Up & Comers: I cannot remember a Bernard Hopkins bout (or a light heavyweight contest for that matter) that has drummed up such excitement personally and in the mainstream media. It has the potential to etch itself in the history books. Hopkins, pushing fifty years old, has been out-smarting and out-boxing quality opponents for what seems like an eternity. His opponent, the calculated and concrete-fisted Sergey Kovalev, has been swarming and storming through his opposition thus far. His come forward, power punching style of fighting should suit Hopkins well. I see the "Alien" disrupting the rhythm of the "Krusher" through his movement, counter punching and a variety of other wily techniques. It may not always be the prettiest but it will certainly be effective. I'm taking Hopkins to execute a near perfect fight en route to a unanimous decision.

Mark A. Jones, The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science: Sergey Kovalev is tailor made for Bernard Hopkins because he's front foot heavy and has significant defensive liabilities, but you can't fool Father Time or Mother Nature. Kovalev wins by TKO in ten. 

Alien vs Krusher 
Chuck Marbry, KO's Pastor of Pugilism: Sergey Kovalev will start hard and fast, so Bernard Hopkins will struggle early trying to find his rhythm. Hopkins will most likely hit the canvas in the early going. The key test will be whether "B-Hop" gets up from a knockdown clear-headed or not. My thoughts are that Hopkins will stay cute enough in the ring to last the distance, but that Kovalev's youth and power will win in a tough contest by decision.

Edwin "Ace" Ayala: Bernard Hopkins certainly has the experience and the skills but Sergey Kovalev's crushing power wins this one by a ninth round technical knockout.

Steve Bridge, KO Digest Dream Fights: Bernard has had more resurrections than Freddie, Jason, and Mike Meyers combined. Each time we think he's finished, he comes back stronger against a more dangerous opponent. He’s become an archetype, used by trainers to scare young up & comers, "If you don’t train hard, the B-Hop will getcha!" I’m not 100% convinced he can pull off the miracle this time. I suspect that as wily as "B-Hop" is, he'll have trouble with the younger, stronger Kovalev. Hopkins has a history of destroying young punchers, but I don’t think that will happen with Kovalev. I see a close tough fight. The old man pulls out every last trick in the book. In the end it won’t quite be enough. Kovalev will stay poised and will keep his hands busy; doing just enough to take a close split decision.

Duva says she has no concerns about the judges
Joel Sebastianelli, KO Digest Interview: It seems as though we ponder the same doubts before every Bernard Hopkins fight over the last few years, and more often than not, I’ll admit that I’ve doubted him and his ability to defy age and the odds to continue going strong at 49. Still, it’s hard for me to pick against the promising Sergey Kovalev. Hopkins’ boxing IQ is still one of the highest in the sport, but it will be difficult to slow the fight to his preferred tempo with the power of Kovalev stalking him down. Hopkins has never been knocked out and he’ll keep that streak alive, but I think the Russian can put together enough solid punches to earn a gritty victory on the scorecards.

Jeffrey Freeman, KO Digest Editor-in-Chief: This is a scary boxing blockbuster in the making! Here's a sneak preview of coming attractions: a 49-year-old Bernard "The Alien" Hopkins gets launched from the ring by the crushing power of a real-life killer with an ass-kicking strategy, Sergey "The Krusher" Kovalev. In Atlantic City, the Russian will execute the former executioner from Philadelphia with a prophetic injection of phantom punching precision. It's a black and white remake of Rocky Marciano knocking out Joe Louis except this "Krusher" sheds no tears. To him, it's a dark comedy, or worse, a dirty movie. Wherever his spaceship crash-lands inside old Boardwalk Hall, the "Alien" will be writhing around in agony, but this time it's no act. Closing credits: If the fight somehow makes it to the scorecards, the rotten tomatoes review was written and executive produced by judges Larry Layton, Carlos Ortiz Jr, and Clark Sammartino.

Looks like Marciano KO's The Brown Bomber  
Kovalev by TKO in four.

Guest Writer Predictions:

Michael Woods, Editor-in-Chief of The Sweet Science: The youngest old man in sports. I like that tag better than "The Alien." So, on what night will Hopkins join the rest of us, be unable to hang with a young bomber? Saturday? Entirely possible...but I'm not willing to do more than thoroughly entertain that result. Nope, the things that give Hopkins the most trouble, athleticism, hand speed, volume, above average movement, those aren't Kovalev's strengths, on surface. Maybe Sergey has more of some of those attributes than I have noted...or maybe a well placed combo renders all that stuff moot, and the Russian gets to be the one to be able to proudly say he messed up Hopkins' chin wiring. Maybe. Lotsa maybes.

I will go with the youngest old man, by decision, believing he will be able to defuse yet another young bomber.

Woods and Revolver see Hopkins with his hands raised
Edward Revolver: Sergey Kovalev is a threat, but he still lacks the experience of fighting world-class fighters, with TKO wins over shopworn Gabe Campillo and vulnerable beltholder Nathan Cleverly being his biggest two wins to date. Kovalev has never been past eight rounds. How will he react, in case an experienced Hopkins will be able to take him in deep waters? Unlike Beibut Shumenov or Tavoris Cloud, Kovalev is not a one-dimensional fighter. He actually had a pretty good, underrated amateur career. A volume-puncher Kovalev has solid fundamentals and has impressive punch variation. Will Hopkins be able to sustain the pressure of a skilled, hard-punching fighter? He might. Even at this age. It will be very difficult but I think that Hopkins will take Kovalev the twelve round distance and then it all depends on the judges. A toss-up fight, tough to predict, but we all have a bitter experience of betting against Hopkins. For some reason, I don’t want to bet against him in this one. Hopkins W12 in a tough-tough fight.

Written and compiled by Jeffrey Freeman, KO Digest







November 1, 2014

KO Digest Interview: Shannon Briggs — “I'm the George Foreman of 2014”

Let's Go Champ!
The last time Shannon Briggs owned a heavyweight title belt, the national average for gas was $2.18, George W. Bush still had two years remaining in his presidency, Pluto and many of boxing’s current stars hadn’t yet come into their own—Floyd Mayweather included, who was still a year away from beating Oscar De La Hoya and entering the mainstream sports landscape as boxing's money-making king. One constant throughout this time is that Wladimir Klitschko was (and still is...) the heavyweight champion, undefeated since 2004.

Like many American fight fans, Briggs is sick of that title reign.

Calling himself the “real heavyweight champion of the world,” Briggs might sound a little bit off base regarding his place in the division’s landscape. But, when he says “boxing needs Shannon Briggs,” don’t snicker—he actually has a point. When was the last time there was a heavyweight title fight that excited you—or better yet, when was the last time a heavyweight fight that did excite you actually lived up to the lofty expectations formed in our conscience by warriors like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and George Foreman? Although some appreciate the dominance of Klitschko, his style leaves a lot to be desired by Americans who grew up admiring the brutal beauty of warriors in the heavyweight heyday.

Even worse, despite Klitschko’s love for America, its people, and his time spent in the state of Florida, homegrown boxing fans don't relate to his personality. Seemingly as robotic outside the ring as he inside the ropes, Americans just can’t relate. Enter Briggs, the paddle-boarding, shoe-throwing, trash-talking rabble-rouser. When Briggs took the lineal heavyweight crown away from the aging George Foreman in 1997, he took not only the title belt, but also the torch in some sense for aging entrepreneurs. Briggs fights, he acts, and he promotes. Literally stalking Klitschko, he’s managed to do all three at once over the last few months.

Utilizing social media as well as anybody in the sport, Briggs is a man of the people, and a funny one too. Outgoing, boisterous, and incredibly confident, he has taken his personal maxim “Let’s go champ” to heart and body. By his own admission, he didn’t always handle training, fighting, and life in general as best he could when he was young. Now aged 42, he has a lifetime of lessons learned in his arsenal and he’s actually in the best physical condition of his life. If Briggs gets his wish and earns a title fight with Klitschko, whether or not he’s capable of winning would certainly be debatable at best. However, you can bet the house that, win or lose, he could at least sell a heavyweight title fight in America. How many heavyweight champions in the last decade can say that?  

KO Digest’s Joel Sebastianelli: You’ve been tracking down Wladimir Klitschko lately. The videos you've been posting on social media have created some buzz between the two of you. How did this all start? Why are you doing all of this?

Briggs calls out the heavyweight champion
Shannon Briggs: I ran into him at the gym. I was on the way out, I was like “hey, what’s up champ? How you doin’?” He kind of ignored me. Brushed me off like I was just a common man so that kind of pissed me off. I was like, “I’m getting in shape, man.” I’ve never really liked him because as a person, he’s a nice guy, but as a fighter, he’s boring. I’m sick of it and most people are sick of it. His style is destroying boxing, all that grabbing and holding. He’s the heavyweight champion of the world, supposedly. I’m the heavyweight champion, he’s just the belt-holder. I’ve been tracking him down because that’s what boxing needs. Boxing is on the downgrade. People want to know what’s next. They don’t even care about the heavyweight division. They don’t even talk about the heavyweight division. You have the NBA conglomerate, the NFL conglomerate, the NHL, every sport—boxing? Come on man. Nobody is promoting the game. Boxing needs Shannon Briggs. Nobody else is throwing shoes, nobody else is throwing tables and chairs and nobody else is fighting in restaurants, they aint doing nothing! 

KOD: So what is the end goal here? Is the end goal a fight between the two of you?
 
SB: When people talk about boxing, they get depressed. People don’t even know who Wladimir Klitschko, the heavyweight champion of the world is. He ain’t dominating the game and destroying people like Mike Tyson, or even like me. He ain’t bringing the heat. I am the real champ. The people have nominated me, they elected me. I’m down to the people and in the streets. I was born and raised in Brownsville, Brooklyn. I’m a common person that people can respect and love who’s working hard. He worked hard too to become champion and retain it but he’s destroying the sport. He’s boring! The heavyweight champion of the world should be the most dominant figure in sports. He’s the most boring figure in sports, and he’s the heavyweight champion. That’s why I’m the heavyweight champion of the world and if he doesn’t beat me, he’s not the heavyweight champion of the world.

KOD: When we interviewed Wladimir last April in training for Alex Leapai, he seemed very respectful of the untested but undefeated Deontay Wilder, saying “Wilder has the desire, strength, and talent to become a champion.” Do you resent the fact that Wladimir doesn't respect you enough to fight you? He seems to be on more of a collision course with Wilder than with you.

"Beyonce Wilder and Wladimir Scarecrow"
SB: Yeah, I feel very disrespected. But, I ain’t talking about them no more. I don’t want to talk about those other guys. They’re doing nothing for me and I’m doing nothing for them. I’m giving no more PR to any of them. I'm on my own mission. Deontay Wilder’s name is Beyonce Wilder. That’s what I named him, but I’m not giving him any more promotion. He don’t like me. And I like that brother. I have names for all the heavyweights, but I’m only bringing them out when I fight them. Wladimir Scarecrow, that’s his name! Or Willamina Klitschko. I know you’re thinking, “what kind of interview is this?” This is the best interview you’re ever going to get in your life!  

KOD: Rumor has it that Klitschko is actually seeking a restraining order. Is that true and is it going to stop you from going after him?

SB: I heard that too. I know people are like, “man, Shannon Briggs is nuts.” But, that’s right. That’s what it takes to become the heavyweight champion of the world. Don’t think Wladimir Klitschko ain’t nuts. Don’t think Jack Johnson wasn’t nuts. Don’t think Muhammad Ali wasn’t nuts. We’re a different breed of man. So yeah, say what you want, but know one thing: I’m 42 years old, I’m back on my feet, and I’m pursuing. Let’s go champ, get it! Nothing is going to stop me. Nothing. Nothing is going to stop me because I’m pumped up. I’m motivated. Momentum is on my side. Why stop now? I’m only 42 years old. I’m enjoying life, I’m in phenomenal shape, and this is keeping me alive! Training every day, eating healthy, fighting, keeping busy, it’s keeping me alive. 

KOD: Let’s talk about Shannon Briggs, the heavyweight champion. Since the Vitali fight, you have healed and are still fighting, but not against quality foes. If you do want to fight Wladimir Klitschko, why not build up by fighting contenders in the division?

Pimpin aint easy
SB: I don’t have a promoter. I’m on my own. I’ve been on my own since my man Marc Roberts split. I haven’t had a manager in years. I’m doing this from my iPhone everyday promoting myself. Actually, the people are my promoters—I apologize to the people. People are my promoters on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and social media. Those are my promoters because no boxing manager is promoting me. Nobody is out there trying to get me fights, I’m doing it myself. I’m pushing, nobody is helping me. I don’t have Al Haymon. I’m not with Bob Arum, Don King, or Lou DiBella. I’m by myself. As far as these contenders go, I put in to fight two guys in the top ten and was denied. I don’t want to put the names out there until one more incident, but two people in the boxing world in the top ten were offered fights and they turned me down. When you talk about me fighting guys in the top ten, I know what I bring to the table but I’m not going to be pimped. If you put me on any card, I’m going to sell it out because I’m going to talk so much crap that people are either going to want to see me win or want to see me get my head knocked off.

KOD: Are you without a promoter and a manager by choice?

Briggs looks crazy but he sounds very sane
SB: I don’t want no pimpin’ manager and I don’t want no pimpin’ promoter. I’ve already been there, done that. I formed a company called “The Empire.” That was my company, so I already know how to manage and promote myself. I’m doing a phenomenal job. I have over 25 million views on YouTube. I’m not trying to give myself a blowjob, I’m just trying to show the fighters out there that you don’t have to be pimped by these managers and promoters, because guess what? We’re about to be in 2015, you can promote yourself! It’s a long way from where we need to be as fighters, but we need to stop being pimped by these so-called managers and promoters.

KOD: You’ve had multiple roles as an actor outside for your boxing career. Has this venture into show business helped you to create and maintain a sort of show business of your own in boxing to help sell fights and attract attention to yourself?

SB: I don’t have an acting background. I have an aggressive background where I earned money and survived. You said actor, but you’ve got to talk promoter. One of my guys that I promoted, he's a champion right now, I found this guy in the Dominican Republic. Badou Jack is another guy I found. That’s my friend, I love that guy. So, you’ve got to understand, I’ve been a promoter not only for myself, but I’ve been promoting other guys for years. Now, with that being said, I don’t have an acting background but I’ve dabbled with acting and had some fun. Why not? It’s entertainment, and people are missing that. My goal right now is to bring people who don’t like or watch boxing and to bring them into boxing. We already know who the boxing fans are. They’re already involved with boxing and they’ll watch it like I'll watch it. I’m trying to bring in a mother, a father, or a daughter, and the kids. I have thousands of people following me on Twitter and Instagram right now. They see my antics. They see me training hard. They see me with my family. They see me at the grocery store. I’m the people’s champ, champ. Let’s go champ!

KOD: Let’s talk about the other Klitschko. You fought Vitali in 2011. Do you see a lot of similarities between him and his brother?

Briggs gets pummeled by Vitali Klitschko in 2010
SB: Yeah man. You know I fought him with one arm for twelve rounds? The injury happened in the first round of the fight. I fought him for 12 brutal rounds with one arm, and nobody gave me any credit. I gave my all, fighting with one arm. I feel 2000 percent now. I’m even stronger than before. I’m in better shape at 42 than I was at  22. I’m active, pumped up, and fired up now more than ever because of Bernard Hopkins. I really feel like everything happens for a reason, and you now what? I’m the Black Cinderella Man. I’m going to shock the world and get a fight with this bum and knock his face off.

KOD: In your opinion, is the blueprint for beating VItali Klitschko the same for beating younger brother Wladimir?

SB: Not at all. With Vitali, I could have knocked that bum out had I been strong and healthy. The same with his brother. You’ve got to step to them bums and knock then down like little Sam Peter. Peter is like 5’11”, come on man! They’re robots. They grab, hold, and jump on you like an octopus. You have to fight like you’re in the hood, knock them out and yell “World Star!”

KOD: The George Foreman fight was the biggest of your career at the time and also a signature victory, but the outcome was debated and most people believe Foreman won. How do you look back on the fight and the final result years later?

Briggs beat Foreman with some help from the judges
SB: Don’t you realize what you just said? Put the pieces together, brother. I fought George Foreman in 1997. It was his last fight. He was going on to become a successful marketing genius. He passed the torch to the champ: me! I won the lineal championship from him. A couple of fights before that, he fought Alex Stewart and Lou Savarese and people thought they won, but we never talk about that. Right now, I am the George Foreman of 2014. I’m 42 years old. He passed the torch to me, and I’m going to knock the bum out, but it’s going to be bigger than when he knocked out Michael Moorer in 1994. Why? Because Moorer was a new champion. When we talk about the reigning champion—he’s been reigning for how long? Who else but me is going to beat him? Pulev? Stiverne? Beyonce Wilder? They’re aren’t going to beat him! They don’t have the firepower.

KOD: You were a boxing "young gun" when you fought Foreman in 1997, but even at his age, how good was Big George? Did he still show you signs of what made him such a legendary fighter?

SB: Oh man, he hit so hard I couldn't speak for two weeks. He knocked me out in the seventh round and hit me with another punch that woke me back up. I never felt anything like it, it was like bone breaking. I was like, “man, I’ve got to do this” because my back was against the wall. What, I was just gonna get knocked out like everybody else? No, man. That aint in me. I had one foot in boxing, one foot in acting, one foot in the streets, one foot hanging out, one foot in girls—I was a crazy kid! I had to grow up. Nobody lived the life I lived, of a champion! I didn’t make all that much money. I maybe earned $5 million in my career, but I lived like I made $50 million. I enjoyed myself and even though I’m 40, I’m still having fun. Now, I have a new passion, which is inspiring people. People look at me, here I was at fat, depressed, down in the dumps and financially in ruins two years ago. Everybody turned their back on me and people were coming against me—I was being attacked, but bro, I pulled myself back together and shed 130 pounds! I got down to where I feel good about myself.

Briggs after a brutal beatdown from Vitali 
KOD: How old do you feel right now?

SB: It’s funny because it depends what time of the day it is. I feel 22 sometimes, I feel 16 years old, but the truth of the matter is I changed my lifestyle. I live by the ocean which is phenomenal for health benefits. I don’t party. I haven’t had a sip of alcohol in three or four years. I was never a big drinker, but I wasn’t living my life as a fighter and I got what I deserved, what I put in. I’m happy with that because I ain’t punch drunk. I can still have a conversation with you. A lot of fighters are financially ruined and they're punch drunk! I’m doing it for them. I really want to help fighters because I’m one of them. I was betrayed by managers. I was betrayed by promoters. I’m one of those guys. I want to inspire them to eat right, to change their diets. So many fighters don’t know how important nutrition is for our brains after years of being hit in the head. Nutrition is key. Exercise is key. We need to stay working out because our bodies have PTSD.

KOD: After the George Foreman fight, you fought Lennox Lewis in 1998. That fight didn’t go your way, losing in five rounds. What lessons did you learn from that fight?

SB: Train hard and don’t take fights when you’re not really prepared. What could I do? I was a kid. It was the biggest payday of my career. I lost to a great legendary champion. I gave it the best I could at the moment. I’m a very competitive person and I don’t like to lose, but I give respect when it’s due. Even Wladimir, he did his thing, but it’s like watching the same TV show every night for years. Enough is enough. I have the right to say what people are speaking and what they tell me. People say “we don’t even watch boxing no more because Wladimir Klitschko, or whatever his name is, is so boring.” I’m not holding my tongue anymore for these boxing writers. I know the boxing world already. They love you today and hate you tomorrow. You can lose in basketball and come back to play the next day, but boxing, you’re a bum and you ain’t nothing, and you go home with your head knocked in. I want to help every fighter who’s been through the same thing I’ve been through. I’ve been down, depressed, and in a bad place. Managers and promoters stay the same, but fighters come and go. I don’t care if you’re anti-Shannon Briggs. I don’t care anymore. A lot of fighters are just like me, but they don’t have my voice to say what I'm saying. I’m speaking up for the people. That’s why I’m the people’s champ who cares about other fighters. You think Klitschko cares about these people or about any fighter? Does he care about Alex Stewart? He don’t care about these people.

Whatever Wlad does, Briggs does
KOD: In some ways, going on without a promoter or a manager is almost admirable, but without them, how do you expect to get the fight done with Wladimir Klitschko? Doesn’t that make things a lot more difficult? 

SB: I want the people to make the fight. That’s my goal. I’m ready for Wladimir Klitschko and I’m going to stay ready. We’re having fun, swimming in the ocean, staying in shape, and feeling good. I’ll be like the black Jack LaLanne at 70, 80 years old hopefully still working out. I’m eating right. Training is my life. I'm at "Whole Foods" right now! 

KOD: As you touched on earlier, you had a rough upbringing growing up and were actually homeless. How did that experience impact your life?

SB: I was homeless on and off from age thirteen to twenty. My father died in prison. I live with that hurt. That’s my family and I love them, but I’m a breadwinner working hard to keep my family by fighting, making business deals, and acting. I’m a go-getter. If people don't like that, too bad. I may not be the best fighter in the world but I'm the last American heavyweight champion and the boxing world didn't come to my rescue when the champ was down and out. I'm hard to kill.

The Future of Boxing

KO Digest Interview conducted by Joel "The Future" Sebastianelli

Joel joined KO Digest in January 2013 and has been a fixture on press row in the New England area for three years. In 2012, he served as the host of “The Boxing Fix” on Leave it in the Ring Radio. Sebastianelli is the future of boxing journalism and broadcasting.

Joel can be found Tweeting on Twitter @JJSebastianelli  

October 21, 2014

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science — Women's Boxing Monthly Vol 17

A Who's Who of Women's Boxing
By Mark A. Jones  — In September, a milestone in women’s boxing was established when the first-ever WBC Female Boxing Convention was held in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. The convention was formed with the dual purpose of paying tribute to late WBC President, Jose Sulaiman and to establish the worldwide legitimacy of women’s boxing. In attendance there was the President of the WBA (Gilberto Mendoza), the IBF (Daryl Peoples), and the WBC (Mauricio Sulaiman). Elite promoters Oscar De La Hoya and Don King were in attendance.

King acknowledged the efforts of the late Jose Sulaiman in raising the recognition level of women’s boxing and his own placement of Christy Martin (Salters) on his PPV television cards beginning in 1992. De La Hoya stated on the WBC website, "I truly feel that the majority of the women fight better than the men, and give us more action, so it's very important for me to be here, because I am here to support Women's Boxing." A tribute to Giselle “Magic” Salandy (16-0, 6 KOs) was conducted by recently deposed WBC super-featherweight champion, Alicia Ashley and Trinidad and Tobago boxing promoter Boxu Potts. Salandy turned professional just one month after her thirteenth birthday. She won her first minor title at the age of fifteen and the vacant WBC & WBA female light-middleweight titles at the age of 19. In December 2008, she was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident at the age of 21. The event was attended by an impressive list of past and present WBC champions from around the globe including Mia St. John (USA), Klara Svensson (Sweden), Jelena Mrdjenovich (Canada), and Carolina Raquel Duer (Argentina).

Police Athletic League
A who’s who of Mexican women’s boxing superstars appeared at the convention including Laura Serrano, Ana Maria Torres, Jackie Nava, Ibeth Zamora-Silva, Zulina Munoz, Mariana Juarez and many others.  

On September 28 through October 5, the 40th annual National PAL Championships were held in Oxnard, California. Melissa Parker (Army) who normally campaigns at #125 dropped to #119 for this tournament and upended favorite Christina Cruz (NYC) in the semifinals. Parker defeated Amanda Pavone (Burlington, MA.) in the 125 pound open finals. Franchon Crews (Baltimore) continued her march to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games by stopping Danielle Mitchell (North Hollywood) in the second round of the open finals in the 165 pound division.

Camacho wins for USA
Winners as follows:

#106 Giovanna Camacho (ARMY)
#112 Marlen Esparza (Houston)
#119 Melissa Parker (ARMY)
#125 Rianna Rios (ARMY)
#132 Alycia Baumgardner (Fremont, OH.)
#141 Mikayla Mayer (Los Angeles)
#165 Franchon Crews (Baltimore)

On September 20 in Osaka, Japan, Kumiko Seeser Ikehara, 105, won the vacant WBO World female minimumweight title with a ten-round split-decision victory over former WIBA minimumweight champion, Gretchen Abaniel, 102, who traveled from Puerto Princesa City, Philippines, to battle for the title. Ikehara, 29, of Kyoto, Japan, was supported by the Philippines judge 98-92 and the judge from Taiwan 97-93. The lone Japanese judge oddly favored Abaniel 96-94. Both fighters let the leather fly early with Ikehara, slightly bigger and more aggressive, landed better than she received throughout the ten-round bout. Ikehara, with just 27 months of professional experience, owned most of the measurable skills in this fight, but the 28-year-old Abaniel’s eight years of experience allowed her to stay competitive. In the end, Ikehara, in her first title fight, won a major belt and is now a significant player in the up-and-coming women’s boxing power that is Japan.

Yuko Kuroki
KO Digest’s Top 5 at minimumweight (105 lbs.):

1- Anabel Ortiz (Mexico) (WBA)
2- Victoria Argueta (Mexico) (IBF)
3- Yuko Kuroki (Japan) (WBC)
4- Etsuko Tada (Japan)
5- Oezlem Sahin (Germany)

Quick Hits for September/October:

Zulina Munoz, 116 ½, the WBC World female super-flyweight champion, in a non-title fight, tested the waters at bantamweight winning a ten-round unanimous decision over Karina Hernandez, 116 ½. With the win, Munoz improves to (43-1-2, 27 KOs) whereas Hernandez suffers her first loss and now stands at (5-1-3). WBC World female lightweight champion, Delfine Persoon (30-1, 13 KOs), in a non-title fight, won an eight-round unanimous decision over Judy Waguthii (13-7-3, 4 KOs) winning every round in the process. For Persoon, who faces a stiff challenge from Diana Prazak (13-2, 9 KOs) in November, this fight was merely a tune-up. 45-year-old Nao Ikeyama, 101 ¾, defended her WBO female atomweight title (102 lbs.) for the first time with a ten-round unanimous decision over Masae Akitaya, 101 ½. With the win, Ikeyama moves to (15-3-1, 4 KOs) knocking down Akitaya (9-5-2) in the second round. Nikki Adler, 163 ¾, who maintains the WBC, WBU, and WIBA titles at super-middleweight, in a non-title match, knocked out Rita Kenessey (KO-4) who scaled 165 ¼ for the bout. Adler improves to (13-0, 8 KOs), and Kenessey witnesses her record drop to (4-10). Flyweight prospect Noemi Bosques, 115, won an easy six-round decision (59-55/59-55/58-56) over Ivana Coleman, 118 ½. The victory is impressive in that Coleman (1-6) normally fights in the super-bantamweight division. Bosques improves to (7-1-2, 2 KOs).

Featured Fights for October/November:

On October 25 in Gomez Palacio, Mexico, in a highly anticipated rematch, two-time bantamweight champion, Yazmin Rivas (30-8, 9 KOs) of Torreon, Mexico, will defend her WBC World female bantamweight title against hard-charging Australian, Susie Ramadan (23-1, 8 KOs). Rivas, earlier in her career held the IBF World female bantamweight title for two years defending the strap successfully five times. This fight is a rematch of an October 2011 battle in Mexico that witnessed Rivas win the vacant IBF bantamweight title with a controversial ten-round split-decision victory. The two fighters differ stylistically; Ramadan, 35, is an ultra-aggressive banger with underrated movement and boxing skills whereas Rivas, 26, is entering the prime stage of her career and has developed into and an excellent counter-puncher especially with the left-hook. The bout is likely to be decided on the cards. Rivas has yet to stop an A-level opponent over 120 pounds.

On November 1 in Fukuoka, Japan, southpaw Yuko Kuroki (11-4-1, 6 KOs) in front of a hometown crowd, will defend her WBC World female minimumweight title for the first time against the former IBF World female minimumweight champion, Katia Gutierrez (19-4, 4 KOs) of Los Mochis, Mexico. Kuroki, 23, won the title in May defeating Mari Ando (11-7) by a close ten-round unanimous decision. She will be hard pressed to retain the title in her hometown as her opponent, Gutierrez, 25, has faced superior competition and successfully defended the IBF minimumweight title four times before moving up in weight.

Can Persoon withstand the firepower of Prazak?
On November 11 in Zwevezele, Belguim, two of the best punchers in women’s boxing will battle when Delfine Persoon (30-1, 13 KOs) of Roeselare, Belguim, defends her WBC lightweight title against nuclear-fisted Diana Prazak (13-2, 9 KOs) of Los Angeles, California, by way of Melbourne, Australia. Prazak is the current WBC super-featherweight champion; her title is not on the line in this contest. Normally, when boxers change trainers, the new hire can only tweak certain aspects of a fighter’s game and not complete, or even embark on an extensive makeover. When the 35-year-old Prazak began working with women’s boxing legend Lucia Rijker, she was a one-dimensional banger with superior power in her right hand. Since, she has developed lateral movement, defense, and has greatly improved her lead (left) hand. Her body attack and left hook, also the dominate punch of her trainer (Rijker) during her boxing career; setup the knockout of Frida Wallberg (KO-8) in June 2012. Only in a fighter that places absolute trust in a trainer, do you witness such a dramatic makeover.

Prazak is a notoriously slow starter relying on endurance and late-round punching power to overwhelm opponents; the latter trait, Prazak’s late-round punching power, is matched by very few in women’s boxing. The 29-year-old Persoon is in the prime stage of her career, adding a win over Prazak will cement her place in the upper echelon of the current pound-for-pound best in women’s boxing. Persoon is greater than the sum of her parts. Her footwork is poor; she consistently squares her stance when combination punching and her defense is leaky at best resulting in her absorbing flush punches. That said, as she proved in her April WBC title-winning over performance over an elite puncher in Erica Anabella Farias (UD-10), her chin is made of granite. Persoon is a forward-moving volume puncher, mostly to the head, with a good right hand and superior ring generalship.

Persoon is expected to prevail
The styles of the two fighters make for an excellent match-up. Prazak, the decided underdog in this fight, and will try to sit on the inside and wear down Persoon, who needs room to punch and has virtually no experience facing a respectable infighter. Persoon will come forward early and often in an attempt to out volume Prazak and bully her around the ring with her superior size. If the fight goes to the judges’ cards, Persoon had a decided advantage due to the venue location (Belguim); Prazak will try to end things in the later rounds rendering the scorecards moot. 

Prediction: Persoon UD-10

On November 15 in Cancun, Mexico, Erica Anabella Farias (20-1, 10 KOs) of Virreyes, Buenos Aires, Argentina, bids adieu to the lightweight division and will challenge WBC World female light-welterweight champion, Alejandra Marina Oliveras (31-2-2, 16 KOs) for her title in a bout slated for ten rounds. Oliveras, 36, a genuine four-division champion, is nicknamed “Locomotora” which is appropriately applied as it accurately describes her one-punch knockout power. Oliveras owns several impressive victories at the lighter weights, but has been less impressive over 130 pounds. At only 5’ 1” Oliveras is seriously outsized against Farias, 30, who is a perfectly suited for the light-welterweight division. Farias, who defended her WBC lightweight title successfully eleven times before losing it to Delfine Persoon, also possess excellent power, especially in her right hand and can box from range when required. She is the most multi-talented fighter in this match-up and will strap on her first world title belt at light-welterweight.

Quick Hits for October/November:

Southpaw Zita Zatyko (15-1-1, 11 KOs) will enter the ring for the first time since losing to Christina Hammer nearly 17 months ago when she battles Szilvia Szabados (5-0, 2 KOs) for the vacant WBF female super-middleweight title. Szabados has yet to fight past six rounds, and Zatyko typically dominates suspect competition. The fight will define Szabados as a pretender or a contender. Yesica Patricia Marcos (24-0-2, 8 KOs) will defend her WBA World female super-bantamweight title against Estrella Valverde (10-4-2, 1 KO). Valverde is solid, but unspectacular and falls short against elite competition. Marcos, whose January 2013 fight with Marcela Eliana Acuna drew more than 40,000 needs to step up the competition. The ever-popular Shelly Vincent (12-0, 1 KO) will battle Jackie Trivilino (9-8-3, 1 KO) for the vacant UBF female super-bantamweight title over ten rounds. Vincent is versatile having the ability to fight at close-quarters or on the outside. Trivilino is better than her record would indicate having been on the short end of several close decisions. Eva Voraberger (18-3, 9 KOs) will defend her WIBF and WBF super flyweight titles against Renata Domsodi (12-5, 5 KOs) in Voraberger’s hometown of Vienna, Austria. Voraberger is immensely popular, but suspect as a champion having defeated only one fighter with a winning record. A win over Domsodi will not corroborate her legitimacy as a champion; only fighting the elite of the super-flyweight division will solidify her standing. Mikaela Lauren (22-3, 8 KOs) will fight for the vacant WBC World female light-middleweight title against Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes (10-2-2, 1 KO) in Lauren’s home country of Sweden. Lauren could become a rock star in Europe with the title. Lopes owns the boxing ability to spoil those plans.

KO Digest’s Dynamite Dozen Top 12 Pound For Pound:

Month after month, Braekhus is the best in the business
1- Cecilia Braekhus 26-0, 7 KOs (Norway)
2- Marcela Eilana Acuna 42-6-1, 18 KOs (Argentina)
3- Anne Sophie Mathis 27-3, 23 KOs (France)
4- Yesica Yoland Bopp 27-1, 12 KOs (Argentina)
5- Delfine Persoon 30-1, 13 KOs (Belgium)
6- Diana Prazak 13-2, 9 KOs (Australia/USA)
7- Jackie Nava 30-4-3, 13 KOs (Mexico)
8- Erica Anabella Farias 20-1, 10 KOs (Argentina)
9- Jelena Mrdjenovich 33-9-1, 17 KOs (Canada)
10- Christina Hammer 17-0, 8 KOs (Germany)
11- Naoko Fujioka 12-0, 6 KOs (Japan)
12- Ibeth Zamora-Silva 20-5, 8 KOs (Mexico)

"The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science" is written by women's boxing expert Mark A. Jones -- exclusively for KO Digest. You can find more of Mark's female fight coverage on his women's boxing blog:  Boxing Jones