December 17, 2014

KO's Ringside Boxing Notes & Quotes II

It's actually a lot harder than it looks
By Jeffrey Freeman, KO Digest

Los Manos De Las Bombas — Worcester, Massachusetts' own Edwin "La Bomba" Rodriguez has been cast to play the role of Roberto "The Hands of Stone" Duran in the upcoming Hollywood film "Bleed For This" about the life and boxing career of Rhode Island's Vinny "The Pazmanian Devil" Pazienza. Rodriguez recently stopped Derrick "Superman" Findley in the first round, and he made headlines last year by challenging Andre "Son of God" Ward as well as for his intimate connection to the Boston Marathon Bombing. Rodriguez broke the boxing bomber's rib in sparring before Tamerlan Tsarnaev went on to become a child murdering Islamic terrorist in 2013. Edwin's second son (of God) was born April 15, the day of the attack which killed four and maimed many more. KO Digest salutes Rodriguez for his role in the film and for his role in making Tsarnaev suffer before he died.

Heavyweight Championship Checkmate — The 2014 version of Wladimir Klitschko is the most unbeatable heavyweight champion in boxing history. American fans and their biased media don't want to hear it and it makes them upset to read it but search your feelings, you know it to be true. Dr. Steelhammer has mastered the art of defending himself and the world heavyweight title for all times.

Got Any Excuses Tonight Doctor Steelhammer? — Now that 46 year old "Malted Milk Dud of Malice" Antonio Tarver has handily defeated Johnathon Banks (TKO7) the head trainer of World Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko, it makes many dollars and perfect sense that the champ would now add Tarver to his American title defense schedule which tentatively includes the possibility of Bryant Jennings and Shannon Briggs. Forget all that bullshit now because "By-By" is too small, "The Cannon" is all talk, and neither one of them has beaten Klitschko's trainer into submission like Mason Dixon did last week on ESPN2. The time for Klitschko vs Tarver is upon us. Can "The Line" become boxing's oldest heavyweight champion? Will Wladimir get revenge for Mr. Banks?

KO Digest ringside photography, circa 1980
KO's Throwback Thursday: I snapped this classic picture of hometown hero Marvin Hagler in July 1980 at Brockton High School where Hagler was doing a training exhibition in the gymnasium that included some sparring with his half-brother Robbie Sims. Also in the photo (on the right) is the late Goody Petronelli. Several years later I got it autographed by the Marvelous One.

Bernard Hopkins' Alien Language — "I want the best. Hagler fought the best. Ray Leonard fought the best. The Ali's of the world, they fought the best. I'm from the era where I fought the best. That's important to me. I didn't bloom by the timing of the experts. The sweet science is not based on only one thing you can do particularly well. I don't want to be on the pound for pound list because that would make me human. You guys are all humans. I understand you but you don't understand me. I'm walking on a tightrope hundreds of feet in the air. I don't know what type of evidence I need to show I'm an alien."

"The Alien" explains to the media why he's not more popular or well loved in America for his accomplishments in boxing at age 49 — "It's because I'm black. What do you think if my name was Stern or Marciano? Don't you understand the conflict of interest?"

The face of boxing
Floyd "Money" Mayweather speaks to the international boxing media in 2012 on mandatory, random drug testing in boxing: "I'm the face of boxing. I have totally changed the sport of boxing and I'm the reason why people don't talk about heavyweights anymore. I'm doing record breaking numbers. Since I'm the face of the sport, I should always be trying to change the sport and make the sport a lot better. The best thing is to always put every man on an even playing field. Manny Pacquiao should be standing behind me and saying we should clean up the sport and that he's a clean athlete. I'm letting the world know that Floyd Mayweather is a clean athlete. Eventually random blood and urine testing will be a part of boxing, I truly believe that, and everyone will say Mayweather was the first one. I'll be a part of history and a part of cleaning up the sport."

KO's Boxing Rant — Lately, boxing looks transparently fixed. 2014 saw witness to the most obvious "dive" I've seen in 30+ years of following the sport (Wilder KO1 Scott, pure farce between good friends) and in my 4+ years covering it as a journalist. Robberies are becoming the norm not the exception. But understand one thing: bad decisions aren't "ruining" boxing. They're a key part of it, and always have been. The perpetrators are simply growing bolder in the face of diminished resistance to their shenanigans. These "results" are clear evidence of the direction the fight game is being taken by men like Al Haymon, Oscar De La Hoya, and Bob Arum. The boxing "cold war" feels hotter than ever when promotional affiliation all too often assures an unfair advantage in judge's scoring. 

The KO Digest 2014 Prediction of the Year on RingTV Ask The Experts

THE CALL:

Originally published on RingTV.com: "This match-up looks like a tale of two fighters going in opposite directions. The up-and-comer is David Lemieux and the prospect of him tangling with Gennady Golovkin is enticing. Gabe Rosado is a tough guy with a great chin and we all know this. But he loses the big ones, is out of his element at middleweight and the losses are piling up. Look for a competitive, high-contact, action fight. Look also for Rosado to gradually wear the effects of it on his face in the form of cuts and swelling. When it all gets too grotesque and the traffic too one-way, the referee will stop the fight in the tenth round."

Rosado couldn't see it coming but KO did
THE RESULT:

David Lemieux TKO10 Gabe Rosado — The King was outclassing the Canadian for the first two rounds and then the brick-fisted power of Lemieux found its way home in the third. Rosado was knocked down hard from a power punch left hook to the eye and he took a long 8-count. A badly swollen Gabe Rosado came back strong in the fourth to energize the Barclays. Referee Willis took Rosado to see the doctor before the seventh began, he looked like Arturo Gatti. As it went on, Rosado boxed, Lemieux pressed. The doctor made Rosado count fingers to begin the eighth, and he actually did BETTER (more accurate) than Gatti vs Wilson Rodriguez. Sensational finish to the ninth with Rosado clipped by a left hook. More eye tests with a flashlight. One-way traffic in the tenth and that's that. The loser looked like Gatti, the winner sounded like him.

Ageless Archie battles The Rock

Age Before Beauty: Boxing's 10 Best "Old" Fighters:

Archie Moore (Oldest WORLD champion into his 40's)
Bernard Hopkins (Oldest unified ABC titlist ever, age 49)
George Foreman (Oldest World Heavyweight Champion, 45) 
Juan Manuel Marquez (Still top rated P4P today at age 41)
Roberto Duran (Beat The Blade Barkley when he was 37)  
Vitali Klitschko (Unbeatable heavyweight at 41)
Evander Holyfield (Didn't retire until he was 51) 
Joe Louis (137 years old when he fought Rocky) 
Muhammad Ali (Pulled off "miracles" in his 30's) 
Bob Fitzsimmons (Won a fight past 50 years old)  
  

December 14, 2014

The KO Digest Scoring & Analysis of Mauricio Herrera vs Jose Benavidez

Did Herrera get robbed again?
By Jeffrey Freeman — Hard luck junior welterweight Mauricio Herrera can't seem to catch a break or win an important fight in 2014.  Last March in Puerto Rico, Herrera (21-5, 7 KOs) was victimized by hometown scoring against Danny Garcia in a bid for Garcia's unified 140 lb championship. Herrera lost a controversial majority decision to Golden Boy's "Swift" Garcia that most ringside observers felt he deserved to win. Following that debacle, Herrera won a majority decision over Johan Perez in July. Incredibly, one of the judges, Max DeLuca, scored the Perez bout a draw when by all accounts it looked as though Herrera, 34, was a clear winner. Then last night at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Herrera came up short in another key match-up, this time against Jose Benavidez, an undefeated 22-year-old prospect (22-0, 15 KOs) signed with Bob Arum's Top Rank promotions. Boxing's promotional cold war continues to thaw but in the peace process, politics still plays a big part in who gets what and when. KO Digest takes a closer look at the controversial fight, round-by-round, to determine who really won and what the fuss was all about. Was Herrera robbed again? It sure looked that way.

Round 1: Benavidez is taller and fitter than Herrera but looks can sometimes be deceiving. It's a battle of the jabs early in a feeling out round fought with a pace to set the distance between the two boxers in the ring. A snappy one-two from Herrera connects well on the dangling chin of Benavidez. Jabs to the body from Herrera land square in the breadbasket of Benavidez while the younger fighter struggled to find the target with his rangy long punches. (Herrera wins the opening round 10-9)

Round 2: Benavidez starts off the round with slap happy punches at a distance but isn't so happy when Herrera pressures him into the ropes and rakes his body. Benavidez holds on under attack and then resets the distance but can't maintain it or take advantage of it. Herrera's timing with the jab is superior and he has Benavidez covering up on the ropes from punches. Benavidez answered with a strong left hand to the body in the middle of the ring but it wasn't enough to win the round. (Herrera round 10-9)

The jab to the body was a good weapon for Herrera
Round 3: Herrera continued to press the action in the third, disrupting the ability of Benavidez to keep the fight on the outside where he wants it. A close round to call but it was Herrera who was able to do more of what he wanted to do which included a consistent attack to the body. (Herrera round 10-9)  

Round 4: The pattern of the first three rounds kept up in the fourth with Benavidez trying to control the fight on the outside with his jab and reach but Herrera simply refused to stand there and get beat. Herrera is winning the exchanges on the inside and forcing Benavidez to cover up and look uncomfortable while backing up away from a fight. (Herrera round 10-9)   

Round 5: Benavidez was having a good start to the round standing his ground and landing well but a left hook from Herrera put him right back on his bicycle or with his back on the ropes. Herrera's jab to the body was better than Benadvidez's jab to the head, a clear sign of just how well Herrera is timing his opponent and setting him up for rough stuff inside. (Herrera round 10-9)

Benavidez rallied in the sixth and seventh
Round 6: It looked like Herrera was taking the round off but Benavidez still couldn't control the action decisively from his preferred distance and it didn't take Herrera much effort at all to put Benavidez right back on the ropes where he pounded away to the body. In the last minute of the round, Benavidez started landing some solid jabs to the face that opened up Herrera for some effective follow-up flurries. (Benavidez round 10-9)

Round 7: Strong start to the round from Benavidez as he ripped Herrera with combinations in the middle of the ring before going back to the ropes where Herrera's effectiveness was apparently diminishing until late in the round when he roughed up Benavidez well. Close round to call but that's two in a row now for Benavidez. (Benavidez round 10-9)

Herrera was more effective on the inside
Round 8: Familiar pattern with Benavidez trying to box and keep the distance while Herrera puts him on the ropes to work him over.  This dynamic is clearly what Herrera would prefer to have happen and he is winning the battle of wills for position in the ring.  A looping lead right hand from Herrera landed flush to the chin and if there was any question about who won the round, that punch answered it. (Herrera round 10-9)

Round 9: Benavidez controlled the early part of the round with his jab and he ripped a left to the body. That didn't keep Herrera off him or Benavidez off the ropes. From this position, Herrera outworked Benavidez in the trenches to win another round via his dogged persistence. (Herrera round 10-9)

Round 10: Good start for Benavidez who flips the script on Herrera by punishing him along the ropes. This didn't last long and the script was flipped again back in favor of Herrera who did his best work downstairs while Benavidez languished on the ropes only throwing one punch at a time, or just a jab or two when he got off the ropes. Herrera is fighting harder, better, and more effectively. (Herrera round 10-9)

The politics of pugilism at play
Round 11: The championship rounds were deep waters for Benavidez, a prospect who had never previously gone past eight rounds. Even from the outside, Herrera was beginning to out-land Benavidez and on the inside it was no contest, all Herrera. At this point, Herrera has the Benavidez puzzle solved and he's having fun proving it. (Herrera round 10-9)

Round 12: Last stand for Benavidez who was told in the corner by his father that he needed a knockout to win. Entertaining toe-to-toe exchanges and more of the same on the ropes favor Benavidez but to an impartial observer, it looked like a case of too little, too late. (Benavidez round 10-9)

KO Digest scored the fight 117-111 (9-3) for Mauricio Herrera.

Official Scores: 117-111, 116-112, and 116-112 for Jose Benavidez.

December 12, 2014

KO's Ringside Boxing Notes & Quotes

Tim Bradley says it's a perfect time for Money vs Manny
By Jeffrey Freeman — Timothy 'Desert Storm' Bradley talks to KO Digest about the possibility of a Manny vs Money match in 2015: "I think the fight should happen. I don't know if it will. Now is the perfect time for it because Pacquiao, after suffering the loss to Marquez, the fight with Mayweather went down the drain but Manny has revamped himself with three big wins, myself included. He's still a big threat in the sport, still a top dog, and I honestly think he'll be tough for Mayweather. It's a 50-50 fight. It's the fight everybody wants to see. I think it will do over three million buys. We gotta wait and see. It's great for boxing."

Devon Alexander Hits Close To Home — "All of St. Louis is going to be looking at me from the Ferguson situation. They're looking for something positive to come along with all of the rioting. This win is going to make them feel like they won too. You get scrutinized when you come out and say something or it's like you get punished for saying what you feel nowadays or just saying the truth. A lot of people are scared to say anything. You have to be real. You have to tell the truth. You work out the consequences later. If it's the truth and it's real, how can anybody argue with it?"

Color Blind — For me, boxing is, and always has been, a safe haven from the ugliness of racism. It's not about black or white or any other crayon in the box but even when it is about that stuff like in the promotional trash talk of a grudge match, it's OK. Nobody should get their feelings hurt. Just enjoy the show because we have thick skin and the color of it doesn't matter. We all bleed red. Look, I'm from Brockton, Massachusetts. I grew up there in the 1970's during historical periods of social integration. Growing up in a two-toned fight town, I fell in love with Rocky Marciano and Marvelous Marvin Hagler. I'm better off because of the variety I experienced. It exposed me to the other side of life. Sometimes I liked it more than my side. Soon I realized there was only one side.

Thank God It's Black Friday — It's very trendy and safe right now to paint Floyd Mayweather Jr. as some kind of fighting fraud. Everybody is getting in on the act like opportunistic, bandwagon-riding lemmings. The internet is now literally awash in opinionated exposés thrown up about boxing's dirty little money maker. Distinguishing between fact and fiction is of only minor importance in the mad rush to throw Mayweather under the bus before the big fire sale ends. Whether it's having to do with his attacks on women outside of the ring, his avoidance of Manny Pacquiao inside of it, or even his status as an all-time great in the sport of pugilism, Pretty Boy's P4P & TBE reputation is under siege. There's never been a better, more opportune time to call Floyd a "coward" or worse.

Boom Boom, Big Daddy, and the Prince called to the hall
The Biggest Little City in the World — Youngstown, Ohio's Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini fought four of his last five fights in Reno, Nevada against Bobby Chacon, Livingstone Bramble, Hector "Macho" Camacho, and Greg Haugen. Mancini was recently elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York where in June 2015 he will be officially enshrined. There isn't nearly as much boxing in Reno today as there was in the glorious 1980's. They don't make em' like the "Good Son" anymore either. Mancini is a worthy inductee - one of the classiest sportsmen in boxing history. World War II Combat Vet father Lenny would be very proud of his good son.

What a Yahoo — If fight writer Kevin Iole would refuse to vote Floyd Mayweather into the IBHOF (or encourage others to do the same) based off Mayweather's perceived refusal to fight Manny Pacquiao, maybe somebody should consider taking away Iole's voting privilege because Floyd is a first ballot inductee (so is Manny) TODAY even if he never wins another boxing match and gets knocked out by Victor Ortiz in that rematch Floyd said Victor can get if he wants it. The boxing media should report on the story and not try to make themselves into one. It's understood that passions run deep and that we ALL just want to finally see the damn fight but this latest jab from Iole blurs the line between journalism and partisan fanboyism.

Are Manny and Money getting any closer?
Undisputed Truth — The two top fighters in the sport of boxing are boring. There I said it. Mayweather and Pacquiao are a collective snore. They don't knock anyone out anymore. They refuse to fight each other. They're both past their primes. The sport is full of young stars who deserve the attention forever being wasted on these fat cash cows. I'll name a few: Terence Crawford, Keith Thurman, and Gennady Golovkin. Mayweather can't even make himself all that exciting when he claims to try. The best part of his fights is when he gets hit. He doesn't grit his teeth when he fights, he doesn't challenge himself beyond our imagination, and he's certainly no Sugar Ray Leonard. TBE is still Sugar Ray Robinson. The Pac-Man is more of a fighter and history will be kinder to him but that doesn't change the fact that his fights no longer matter.

The Charlo brothers fight to stay relevant
Twin Troubles — Both Charlo brothers, Jermell and Jermall have seen high profile world title fights fall apart before their eyes. Last March, Jermall was scheduled to challenge Carlos Molina for the IBF junior middleweight title on the Canelo-Angulo PPV undercard. When Molina was arrested and jailed during fight week, the match-up was scrapped. Jermall did not get his shot and his progress has sputtered since. He now faces Lenny Bottai (who?) on the Khan-Alexander undercard, December 13. Then just recently, Jermell was scheduled to face Demetrius "Boo Boo" Andrade for the WBO version of the 154 lb. championship on that upcoming (ill-fated) Showtime triple-header. Andrade pulled out. Instead of getting his shot, Jermell is now stuck fighting Mario Lozano on the MGM Grand Vegas card alongside his brother.

The Master of Disaster is Dead — For the record, KO scored Manny Pacquiao vs Chris "Rocky" Algieri 119-105 in favor of "The Count of Manny Fisto" who if asked afterwards by the loser, "Hey yo Pac Man, did you give me your best," the truthful answer would have to be no. Boxing's Christ loving, compassionate cash cow strikes again but not nearly as often and as hard as he could have or should have. Did Manny "carry" Chris in China? Maybe, and so too might have Sergey Kovalev "carried" Bernard Hopkins in Atlantic City. Hurting grossly overmatched foes is bad for business and it kills future bottom lines. Anyway, Algieri won the fifth and "only" 4 of the 6 official knockdowns were worth an extra point on my card.

Algieri takes a count while Pacquiao waits
I like "The Ring" magazine and their website RingTV. That much I can confess. What I don't much like is their new "RING 100" listing of the best fighters in the world of boxing today. Creeping in at #43 is none other than Chris Algieri. The brave Long Islander is now considered to be one of the fifty best boxers in the world? That's for somebody else to judge but let's take a look at some of the names that somehow rate lower than Algieri according to the Golden Boy's Bible of Boxing: Ruslan Provodnikov (44), Demetrius Andrade (48), Vasyl Lomachenko (52), Amir Khan (53), Keith Thurman (55), Anselmo Moreno (58), Alexander Povetkin (70), Mauricio Herrera (76), Austin Trout (80), James DeGale (89), and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (98).

Respectful boxing warriors
Though overrated by the "Bible of Boxing" the New Yorker Algieri knows how to open a media conference call on Veterans Day with: "Before we get started I'd like to take a moment to pay tribute to the real warriors that are out there on this Veterans Day and give them the honor and tribute they deserve for going above and beyond in fighting for our country and our freedom." (§) KO Digest salutes Algieri's respectful patriotism.

Examining the Experts — What does it say about the expertise of today's boxing writers and media insiders when ZERO out of 21 polled by The Ring Magazine (including yours truly) picked "The Special One" Kell Brook to upset "Showtime" Shawn Porter last August? From where I write, it could mean we saw the 2014 Upset of the Year or that Uncle Roger Mayweather might be right in calling it boxing and swearing you don't know shit about it.

The Correct Spelling Be — You might not have heard of him or you might not even think he deserves a title shot against World Light Heavyweight Champion Adonis Stevenson on Dec. 19 but you and everybody else are willfully misspelling the Russian's name. It's "Dmitry Sukhotskiy" and not "Sukhotsky" without the "i" at the end as reported. Thanks to perfectionist publicist Bob Trieger for clearing it up with the challenger's promoter via passport.

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't
KO Digest Interview Flashbacks — Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko (April 2014) - "If you look at the scale of the markets, it goes up and down. In boxing it's the same. You have some times that are exciting, and some times that are less exciting. It’s always been like that. It's always been in the history of boxing that suddenly some guy just pops up and conquers."

Shannon "The Cannon" Briggs talks to KO in the November 2014 edition of "KO Digest Interview" and wait until you read what he calls Deontay Wilder — "I know people are like, “man, Shannon Briggs is nuts.” But, that’s right! That’s what it takes to become 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. Say what you want, but know one thing: I’m 42 years old, back on my feet and pursuing."

Darnell "Deezol" Boone talks to KO in the Dec. 2013 KO Digest Interview about who would win a Superman Stevenson vs Krusher Kovalev title fight at light heavyweight: "Kovalev, because he’s the more sound boxer. Both of them are strong. It’s going to be whoever lands the shot first, but I would go with Kovalev on that. They both have what it takes to knock each other out. Both of them are strong, but the thing with Adonis is he does the same thing in each fight. Paw with the jab, left. He never really mixes it up. With Kovalev, he’s throwing combinations, he’s moving, punching off angles."

Will the Son of God return in 2015?

The Great 8 — Busiest To Slowest
Linear World Champion's Activity Level

1. Roman Gonzalez (flyweight)
2. Adonis Stevenson (light heavyweight)
3. Wladimir Klitschko (heavyweight)
4. Danny Garcia (light welterweight)
5. Floyd Mayweather (welterweight)
6. Guillermo Rigondeaux (super bantamweight)
7. Miguel Cotto (middleweight)
8. Andre Ward (super middleweight)




December 5, 2014

Desert Storm: Tim Bradley knows why he lost the Manny Pacquiao rematch

Pac-Man Gets Rematch Revenge
By Jeffrey Freeman — On-again-off-again, Vegan American Timothy Bradley didn't really win the first time he faced off against Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas two years ago or during their sin city rematch last April but he's moving on from that traumatic 24-round experience. "I'm glad it's over. I can't take anything away from Pacquiao," Bradley told KO Digest in promotion for his return from the defeat. Bradley is now charging head-first into a bout of dirty boxing against Argentine mauler Diego Chaves, 23-2, 19 KO's, on Dec. 13 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. It's an HBO televised comeback for "Desert Storm" and he is in the right frame of mind and body for Chaves. That again includes eating meat and fish in training. "I learned a lot in the Pacquiao fights, you learn more from losing battles than from winning. I learned not to beat myself in the ring and not to be someone that I'm not. I'm going back to the drawing board, to my boxing and my speed."

Watch out for Diego's dirty tactics Tim
Bradley has also studied the videotapes and he knows that Chaves is a "very dirty fighter" who he believes, "hates getting hit to the body." Known for using his head as more than just a hat-rack, Bradley's "thinking cap" is firmly where it belongs. "I've got some dirty tricks of my own," warned Bradley, a talented technician who can brawl or box as he showed against Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez respectively. Chaves is "no slouch" according to Bradley but he's clearly a notch or two below the pound-for-pound star's recent competition. A well-prepared and well-focused Bradley should probably be able to tear Chaves apart like a hungry black bear devours a wild salmon.

But then what? Hibernation while he waits for boxing's cold war to thaw?

The California native's future options are not so clear yet but Team Bradley did float the possibility of challenging "Special One" Kell Brook for the IBF 147 lb. crown while also staying focused on the task at hand. "For this Chaves fight, I gotta do me, be me, do what got me to the top. I have to fight the best I possibly can and win the fight."

Last time out, Bradley officially lost to Pacquiao by way of a more unanimous decision and the pair went their separate ways with an air of mutual respect and understanding with regard to what actually transpired between them in two title fights. "Pacquiao is one of the true fighters, one of the greats and he'll be remembered for a long time when he retires. He's a living legend, a fantastic person in and out of the ring, much respect to him." In hindsight, Bradley, 31, makes no illusions about their controversial 2012 fight which he won by stunningly awful split decision. Unless the entire boxing world was under a collective state of mass-hypnosis, we all saw the same thing no matter the scores—Pacquiao was too much Pacquiao for Bradley to handle, and just too good for him to beat. 

"I can't worry about judges and I can't worry about decisions," Bradley wisely concluded moving forward. 

Bradley's early attack backfired against Pacquiao
And so Bradley, 31-1, 12 KO's, now looks ahead to the future while he still looks back on the past in order to learn from it. We asked the now former WBO welterweight champion to break down how and why he believes he lost the April 2014 rematch to Pacquiao. Here's what Bradley told KO Digest:   

"I went in with the mindset that I had to knock him out in order to win. That threw me off my game. The plan was to outbox Pacquiao and everybody knew it, even Pacquiao. I didn't do that. I went straight at him. I attacked him. I did have some success on attack but I could have been a lot better in the late rounds if I had taken my time and just tried to outbox him. I should have stayed true to myself and true to my abilities and I should have been all right in that ring. It should have been OK man. I got a little out of my context."

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, pursue, 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 & rest position, pitching over onto his side on cue - as if shot by a hunter - 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