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 27-0, 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

October 10, 2014

Why Fame Matters — It's not the International Boxing Hall of Feints

Micky Ward & Marlon Starling know it's boxing not baseball 
By Jeffrey Freeman — In these constantly changing eras of boxing where an already unquantifiable measurement of greatness must be taken (by IBHOF voters) based off subjective judging and myriad other hard to gauge criteria, one thing I'd place consistent value on is FAME, you know, like what they named that peaceful place in Canastota, NY the Hall of...

Getting famous through the profession of pugilism (becoming a household name or very well known outside boxing's close-knit nerd circles) is a VERY HARD thing to do. It's an accomplishment in and of itself (making fans, including the general public, connect with you, care about you, engage in your career, and remember you —  these are elements of this and can be achieved in many different ways but not by magic or through osmosis) and it's one thing I'll not ignore if someday I'm privileged enough to be an IBHOF voter as a BWAA member, but that's for another day.

"Boom Boom" & Carmen Basilio in boxing heaven 
Today, I'm writing out my own political litmus test for all to see, and making my own recommendations to those who can vote. It's the least I can do while simultaneously being the best I can do. In March of 2012 I wrote a piece that was published on the pages of Beyond the Badge newspaper entitled "Does Arturo Gatti Belong in the International Boxing Hall of Fame?" Distributing it during the 2012 IBHOF Induction Weekend to fans and media alike, it no doubt influenced a few votes in favor of Gatti's ultimate first ballot induction. It's the least I could do for Thunder's legacy, his beautiful daughter Sofia, and his fine young son Arturo Junior.

Yes of course fellow fight fans, "greatness" matters in the sense of having a talented skillset, world title defenses, and "quality" wins over other great fighters but this is all still highly subjective material. These young kids today call it a good "resume." Call me old fashioned, I prefer a good hit "record" — but why dabble in differences? Fame is transcendent (it's valuable) and achieving a lasting form of it is worth more than all the ABC title belts you could list in bullet points on a promotionally padded resume. Boxing is not baseball.

Free Advice by Jeffrey Freeman

To the International Boxing Hall of Fame and its Voters: For your consideration and with all due respect, KO Digest recommends casting your votes for Julian Jackson, Ray Mancini, Vinny Pazienza, Riddick Bowe, and Naseem Hamed in the MODERN category and in the OLD-TIMERS category: Joey Archer, Tony DeMarco, and Eddie Booker.

October 1, 2014

KO Digest Interview: Brandon Berry - “I'll never forget where I come from”

The Pride of Somerset County, Maine, USA
MAINE — Brandon Berry is a small town boxer with big time dreams.

Fighting out of West Forks, Maine (POP. 57) the undefeated 27-year-old light welterweight prospect (7-0, 5 KO's) known as "The Cannon" is on the frontlines of a battle to bring boxing back to prominence in a New England state where the sweet science recently looked down for the count—with dwindling interest and a defunct boxing commission. That all changed in late 2012 with the reformation of the Combat Sports Authority of Maine. For Berry, a young amateur looking to turn professional close to home, the timing was ideal. In May of 2013, Berry made his pro debut in Skowhegan, winning Maine's first legally sanctioned boxing match since 2005.

Best known for the 1990's exploits of Lewiston's Joey Gamache as well as a once-thriving fight scene in the seacoast city of Portland at the world-renowned Expo, Maine's boxing culture fell on hard times in the past two decades. The sport's presence at the Portland Expo retreated, boxing was gradually being replaced by cage fighting, and it's been nearly fifteen years since Gamache was almost killed in the ring at Madison Square Garden in New York by the late Arturo Gatti, suffering a thunderous, career-ending knockout at the Hall of Fame hands of a controversially larger man.

On boxing's battlefield, "Team Berry" is strategically maneuvering their prized artillery piece into position for the delivery of maximum economic impact. But there's no need to hide the civilians because Berry is aiming straight and true—for them. "They're the real story, not me," he claims from behind the counter of Berry's General Store where he works and lives and trains.  

With a combustible corner behind him set to lite their loyal fighter's fuse, "The Cannon" is primed for a fightfight.  

KO Digest: How did you first get into boxing? 
Where did you get your start in the ring?

Boxing brothers Brandon and Gordon Berry
Brandon Berry: My brother Gordon was an amateur and he got me into it. Our Dad sat us down in 1994 and we watched George Foreman fight Michael Moorer.  I was too young to have an opinion, I just had fun watching. My Dad kept saying, "you wait, you wait," and Foreman landed that right hand. That was the first fight I saw. I watched a bunch of Rocky movies and pounded on an old military duffel bag that we stuffed with clothes in a shed out back. I started boxing in Lewiston with the Gamache family down at the Gamache gym. About six years ago, I was getting ready for the Golden Gloves, working out at Skeet Wyman's Gym because it was close to Bangor where I lived for a job, I wasn't fighting under Skeet at the time but I was using his gym. After I lost in the semi-finals, that next week I started training full-time under Skeet.

KOD: Who is your favorite fighter of all-time and why? 
Which current fighter do you most model yourself after and aspire to be like?

BB: Arturo Gatti because I love what he fought for. I believe he would have done what he did in the boxing world whether there was money on the table or not. He fought with his heart and never gave up on himself, he fought hard even if he knew he was going to lose. I love the character and determination he had. One guy I try to be like in the gym is Miguel Cotto. I really like his style, his defense, and how calm he stays in the ring.  I've really tried to be more relaxed in the ring and I watch a lot of his fights.

KOD: What do you do when you're not training or boxing? 

The way life should be
BB: I've worked full-time at my family's [Berry] General Store in West Forks since I was a little kid and I deliver newspapers on Sunday mornings for the Maine Telegram. I do that to make the gas money I need to travel to Wyman's Gym in Stockton Springs, Maine, which is a one-hundred and thirty mile drive each way. Especially lately, in the last year, it seems like every other person who comes in the store wants to talk about boxing, and congratulate me, and ask me what's going on next. People know me as the fighter now. They're standing behind me and counting on me. Financially, they're sacrificing to support me. I'm so proud to represent the great state of Maine.

KOD:  Talk about your corner and the building of a support system.

BB: Ken "Skeet" Wyman is my head coach and always will be. Greg Stearns is my assistant coach. They are lifelong friends and used to box together in the amateurs. Both of them have been around the gym and with me all along. I feel very comfortable with them. They know what to do and when to do it. Mel Peabody, out of Lawrence, Massachusetts, is my cutman, he's been in the game for over forty years. My support system has been second to none. Coming from a small town, I have used all the disadvantages that most people like to hide under, to my advantage. I've had the opportunity to use this area to get behind me one hundred percent. There is no feeling like it. I don't know if there is anything in the boxing world that could make me feel any better than that. Even if something crazy happened like if we were on the stage of the world title level, this feeling of having a small community behind me is what makes me feel like a winner.

KOD: Maine is big and remote. What challenges are there locationally speaking and how do you overcome this?

Berry in the basement of the Lowell Memorial Auditorium
BB: The cost of traveling to the gym is tough. It costs me about $150 a week to travel to the gym and that's only three days. Athletes can't get to the top on three days a week so I had to build a boxing gym next door. I have a ring which I bought from a gym in Massachusetts that used to belong to Micky Ward. I have a full boxing gym so I can train here on the off-days. My brother works me real hard and I want to make him proud. Realistically, there really aren't any challenges because this is what I grew up with. It would be for somebody not used to this lifestyle. Whenever we needed anything in life, we had to drive to get it. I'm used to travel.

KOD: You sometimes walk to the ring to the sounds of "Small Town" by John Cougar Mellencamp. What does that song and its message mean to you as a young boxer born and raised in rural Maine? 

BB: It gets me going walking to the ring, I really love the song. I came out to that in my pro debut and it's kinda stuck with me. It matches my story. I'm from a small town, as small as it gets. West Forks has made me who I am. The song matches everything that I stand for. I'll never move away. I'll never forget where I come from.

Berry wins under boxing's bright lights in Portland
KOD: How do you balance that "small town" mentality with every boxer's desire to make the big time and become a world champion? 

BB: I'm a very realistic person. I'm working on being the best I can be. I have high expectations for myself. Being from a small town is an advantage for me. I see everyone around here struggling with the economy and they're thriving over something good happening in this community and right now, that seems to be me. These people push me to try harder for them. And all these young kids, I want to show them they can do whatever they want to do in life, and that the only person sitting in the way is you. I don't want to let my community down.

KOD: You have boxed at some very impressive venues. Boston Garden, Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Portland EXPO and coming up, Lewiston where Ali beat Liston. Does all that history intimidate you or inspire you? 

Berry's name in lights at the Boston Garden
BB: It inspires me. I never thought I would fight at the Boston Garden. I'd been there many times over the years for Celtics games and concerts and I always thought it must be unreal to perform at what you do in a building like this. I kept looking up at the jumbotron and seeing myself on that screen and my name, Berry vs Perez, going around the building. I kept thinking, I don't know if this will ever happen again but I'm going to make the most of this tonight. That was a great feeling. To go out and have a good performance and beat a very well known New England amateur, I don't know if I'll ever fight there again because it isn't a huge venue for boxing. The Expo was just as important. The history in the building, the way the fans come alive. I could literally feel the energy from the crowd. I really could not believe how loud they were me. I could not believe what it did to me. I can't describe how great that felt. Portland Boxing Club President Bobby Russo is an important piece of the puzzle. He told me I'll always fight on the Expo shows, I have nothing but respect for him.

KOD: As an amateur and a pro, you struggled at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire. Can you describe your experiences as a boxer in that building and what it meant for you to score a clean KO-1 win there last month at the 13th Annual Fight To Educate card?  

BB: As an amateur I had one of my worst performances there. No excuses though because I fought one of my best opponents in Tevin Aleau. He was very smooth in the ring and he made me look pretty bad in there. Fighting at the Verizon was awesome but I left pretty upset because I didn't look good.  Then coming back the next year as a pro, fighting Jesus Cintron, I definitely went in overconfident and didn't think it would be any issue to go right through him. I overlooked him and will be the first to admit it. Getting out of there with a disqualification win, I'm glad I got the win, but I was not happy with my performance. I was honored to get invited back the third year because I didn't put on an impressive show in the two previous years. Going in there and taking care of business quick was very satisfying.  I felt good and I was going to perform well no matter who my opponent was.

KOD: Talk about your role in the resurgence of the Sweet Science in the state of Maine. 

Successful Pro Debut
BB: It feels good to be such a big part of it. I don't even remember when boxing was a huge deal in Maine but from what everyone tells me, there used to be weekly fights and Portland was the fighting capital city of the country.  To be a part of bringing that back feels great because the old-time boxing fans must be proud that somebody grabbed the bull by the horns to get the commission formed and get pro boxing legal again in Maine.  Now so many other guys are getting to fight in Maine in their hometowns, in their home state. If I never fought again, I could at least say I was a big reason why guys like Russell Lamour and Jason Quirk got to fight in Portland. I'm happy these guys are getting to experience what I experienced making my pro debut in Skowhegan. I think every fighter should get to fight in front of their hometown fans. I feel very lucky.

KOD: How do you want to be remembered by fans when your career is over? 

BB: As a very honest, hard working young man that trained and fought his heart out and went as far as he could with what he had. As somebody who respected the sport of boxing and what it's supposed to be about. I'd love to be known as a fighter like Gatti.

Boxing history continues in Maine
KOD: Respond to observers and critics who say you're being moved too slowly, too safely. Do you want to step up in competition?

BB: I fight who my coach tells me to fight. The people who say that, I respect their opinions but we have a plan and so far, it's working. I understand they're in a rush to see me in there with some better fighters. Knowing this question would come up, just for the hell of it, I checked some boxing records. I looked at ten world champions and their first ten fights. I looked at Arturo Gatti, Micky Ward, Floyd Mayweather, Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Joey Gamache, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, and Zab Judah. The best out of all them was Cotto, who fought five guys in his first ten fights who had winning records. So I don't think I'm out of the ordinary or that I'm being protected any more than any other fighter has over the years. I think everything is going perfect and this next fight, I'm fighting Eric Palmer, a guy with a winning record, he's got more experience. I think it's an appropriate step in the right direction. From here on out, you'll see tougher fights. I never ducked anyone, I never dodged anyone, and I don't plan to.

KOD: Is Brandon Berry a local attraction, an up and coming contender, or a future world champion? What is your ultimate goal in boxing, and how far can you go?  

I definitely think I have what it takes to be a contender. Right now, a local attraction and that means the world to me. As long as I'm keeping my community happy, that's all I care about. I want to see my name in the big lights someday. You never know where I might end up if the right fights come along. I don't know if I will ever fight for a world title or be a world champion but if I'm up against somebody someday for a world title, I'll deserve to be there and I'll show everybody that at least I belonged. Whatever happens happens, but it won't be some mistake. It will be because I earned it and I belong there.

Gatti destroyed Gamache in two rounds 
KOD: The brutal result of  the 2000 Gatti vs Gamache fight must weigh heavily on your mind. Your favorite fighter seriously hurt your homeboy.

BB: I was rooting for Joey Gamache, my family was rooting for Joey—the whole State was. It was very hard for me to watch. I was pretty young. My brother Gordon was out there with Stevie Gamache, Joey's son, live in New York when it happened. Gordon saw him at the hospital and Joey said to him with a comforting smile on his face, "Now you're getting to see the other side of the sport." That will always stick with me forever.    

KOD: One more question Brandon. Everybody still wants to see Floyd Mayweather fight Manny Pacquiao. Will the biggest fight in boxing ever happen and if so, who do you believe will win it and why? 

BB: How can they afford not to fight? For a while, I didn't think it was going to ever happen but now I believe that next year we'll finally end up seeing it. I doubt that Mayweather has any fear of fighting any man in his division. I think he beats up Pacquiao right now just like he would have a few years ago. We have to be realistic here. Floyd would adapt to whatever Pacquiao does, even now in the later years, and win decisively. The stuff that happens in boxing behind the scenes is unbelievable. I'd rather fight the best and lose to them than not fight them. I have no fear of losing. That's the mentality you must have as a fighter.

Palmer pukes where Liston dived
UPDATE (10/12/2014):

Berry won the Northeast regional junior welterweight title on Oct 11 in Lewiston, scoring a six round unanimous decision over Eric Palmer to improve his record to 8-0 with 5 KO's. Beaten so badly to the body, Palmer (4-4) vomited uncontrollably into a Jägermeister bucket in his corner after the second round and again after the final bell. It was utterly revolving.

KO Digest Interview conducted and produced by Jeffrey Freeman

September 22, 2014

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science — Women's Boxing Monthly Vol 16

Female fight community headed for Mexico
By Mark A. Jones — The first ever WBC female boxing convention will be held at the Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico, on September 24-27. The Presidents of the WBC, WBA, and IBF will be in attendance as well as numerous professional boxers including, Christy Martin, Mia St. John, Laila Ali, and Ana Maria Torres. Current champions Cecilia Braekhus, Ibeth Zamora-Silva, Zulina Munoz, Mariana Juarez, Jelena Mrdjenovich, and many others are scheduled to attend.

A women’s amateur boxing duel titled “Battle of the Frontiers” was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on August 21. Canada edged the United States 5-4 with six of the nine total bouts decided by split-decisions.

Battle of the Bout Sheet
Frontier Results From Canada:

106 lbs: Taveena Kum, Canada, dec. Alex Love, Colorado Springs, CO., USA, 2-1
112 lbs: Marlen Esparza, Houston, TX., USA dec. Amanda Galle, Canada, 3-0
119 lbs: Christina Cruz, New York, N.Y., USA dec. Vicky Pelletier, Canada, 2-1
125 lbs: Sabrina Aubin, Canada, dec. Kristin Carlson, Carol Stream, Ill., USA, 3-0
132 lbs: Queen Underwood, Seattle, WA., USA dec. Odile Letellier, Canada, 3-0
141 lbs: Sara Kali, Canada, dec. Destiny Chearino, Warwick, RI., USA, 3-0
152 lbs: Myriam Da Silva, Canada, dec. Danyelle Wolf, San Diego, CA., USA, 2-1
165 lbs: Mary Spencer, Canada, dec. Franchon Crews, Baltimore, MD., USA, 2-1
178+ lbs: Krystal Dixon, New Rochelle, N.Y., USA, dec. Vanessa Joanisse, Canada, 2-1

A Look Ahead To Sept & Oct 2014 in Women's Boxing:

On September 27 at the ABC Sports Complex, Springfield, Virginia, Tori Nelson (10-0-3, 1 KO) Ashburn, Virginia, will defend her WIBA welterweight title for the fourth time when she battles former WBF and WIBA light-welterweight titlist, Arlene Blencowe (2-2) of Taree, New South Wales, Australia. Nelson, 38, after winning the WIBA welterweight title in September, has successfully defended the belt against Kali Reis (UD-10), Mia St. John (KO-2) and Nicole Woods (UD-10). Nelson is a formidable fighter who is versatile and looks to land with the right-cross. Nelson, the former WBC middleweight champion, is ranked #1 by both the WBC and IBF, but a fight with welterweight queen, Cecilia Braekhus (WBA, WBC, & WBO) has eluded her. Enter MMA fighter Arlene Blencowe, who is ranked #11 at light-welterweight by the WIBA and only embarked on her boxing career in July 2012. In a perfect world, Blencowe would be considered a prospect that with some work could develop into a viable contender; she possesses decent skills, but is being thrown to the wolves in this match-up. While the fight lasts, Blencowe will give an inspired if not credible performance until the experience of the champion takes over and ends things in the mid-rounds.  

Prediction: Tori Nelson TKO-5 Arlene Blencowe

On September 27 in Moscow, Russia, local favorite and interim WBA light-welterweight champion, Svetlana Kulakova (9-0-1, 1 KO) will fight the regular WBA light-welterweight champion, Ana Laura Esteche (10-3-2, 2 KOs) of San Martin, Argentina. This fight is a rematch of their June 2013 battle which ended in a controversial split-draw. The June battle witnessed Kulakova start fast, winning the first three rounds, but struggled with Esteche’s inside fighting style for the remainder of the contest. Esteche’s constant pressure caused Kulakova to receive a point deduction for excessive holding in rounds 5 and 8. Nothing has changed since June; Kulakova remains a typical European boxer who is passive, upright, and relies on an excellent sense of range to control the fight. The 31-year-old former glamour model throws a high volume of punches with little power. She was uncomfortable when forced to fight at close range where her arsenal of mostly straight punches were quickly smothered by Esteche. The 24-year-old Esteche is a crude brawler with little firepower but compensates with extreme aggression and punch volume. She failed three times to secure world lightweight titles before moving up in weight and upsetting long time light-welterweight champion, and fellow Argentine, Monica Silvina Acosta by a unanimous decision in January. After a slow start in the June campaign, Esteche won the middle rounds and only a late rally by the hometown fighter forced a draw. Esteche, to win this encounter must begin immediately forcing Kulakova to fight the entire distance under pressure. Esteche, on the road, cannot afford to give away the first three rounds and expect to leave Russia with the WBA belt.  

Prediction: Esteche MD-10 Kulakova

Esteche is expected to prevail over Kulakova
KO Digest’s Top 5 Light-welterweights (140 lbs.) 

1- Erica Anabella Farias (Argentina)
2- Fernanda Soledad Alegre (Argentina)
3- Alejandra Marina Oliveras (Argentina)
4- Ana Laura Esteche (Argentina)
5- Chris Namus (Uruguay)

On September 27 in Gits, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, Delfine Persoon (29-1, 13 KOS) of Roeselare, Belguim, will battle the speedy Judy Waguthii (13-6-3, 4 KOs) of Nairobi, Kenya, in an eight-round, non-title fight. Persoon is one of the pound-for-pound best in the sport and currently sports the WBC, WIBF, and WBF lightweight belts. During earlier stages of her career, she held the IBF, WIBA, and EBU lightweight titles. In June, she upended long time WBC champion Erica Farias by unanimous decision winning the WBC title and supremacy of the lightweight division. This bout will be the second start of 2014 for the 29-year-old Persoon, who is taking a respite of sorts after entering the ring seven times (7-0) in 2013. The challenger, Waguthii, fails to impress other than she has above average speed and has yet to suffer a stoppage loss in twenty-two professional bouts including five world titles fights in four different weight classes (0-5). Most recently, she lost a one-sided, ten-round unanimous decision to Svetlana Kulakova in a battle for the interim WBA light-welterweight title. She nearly won the title in the tenth round when she landed a desperation right-cross causing a deep laceration over the left eye of Kulakova. Had Waguthii landed the telling blow a few rounds before, she would have won the title. Waguthii, who is respectable, but not dangerous, is anything more than a tune-up fight for Persoon, who faces WBC super-featherweight champion, Diana Prazak in November. Look for Persoon to cruise to a one-sided decision win.  

Prediction: Delfine Persoon UD-10 Judy Waguthii

Persoon #1 lightweight
KO Digest’s Top 5 Lightweights (135 lbs.)

1- Delfine Persoon (Belgium)
2- Amanda Serrano (Puerto Rico/USA)
3- Victoria Noelia Bustos (Argentina)
4- Natalia Vanesa Del Valle (Argentina)
5- Maria Elena Maderna (Argentina)

On October 4 in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, one of the most underrated fighters in women’s boxing, Shindo Go (14-2, 9 KOs) of Wakayama, Japan, will defend her WBC female flyweight title against Arely “Machine Gun” Mucino (20-2-2, 10 KOs) of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. The 27-year-old Go, although her knockout percentage is (56.25%), high in women’s boxing circles, she is a boxer-puncher with an emphasis on counter-punching in combination. Of her nine stoppage victories, her opponents owned a combined record of (26-38-3). Legitimate competition has always extended her the distance in fights. She can do everything in the ring and has no glaring weaknesses. Concerning her two losses, the first came in her professional debut and the second, a controversial split-decision loss to the ever-popular Mariana Juarez for the WBC female flyweight title in California. The Juarez loss was Go’s only fight outside her home country of Japan. The WBC title became vacant when Juarez dropped a decision to American Ava Knight in October 2012. Go won the WBC title In May 2013 with a unanimous decision over the hard-punching Renata Szebeledi. The 25-year-old Arely Mucino, already a two-time female flyweight champion (IBF, WBA), has yet to enter the prime stage of her career, but is considered one of the most famous and exciting professional female fighters in Mexico. She lives up to her nickname, “Machine Gun” fighting every second of each round placing bad intentions on every punch. Stylistically Mucino is a midrange, left-hook artist who will lead or counter with the devastating blow. Because of being a midrange, left-hook artist, her defense is compromised down the middle making her vulnerable to straight punches.

Since drawing with Jessica Chavez in November 2013, Mucino struggled with former WBA flyweight champion, Tenkai Tsunami in January winning a majority-decision, and in July, defeated Suri Tapia in a WBC eliminator to gain this world title opportunity. Mucino owns legitimate knockout power having stopped Nancy Franco, Chantel Cordova, and Ana Fernandez inside the distance. This fight is likely a career defining fight Mucino; a win over Go establishes her as an elite fighter and places her into the same realm as Mariana Juarez, Zulina Munoz, and Ibeth Zamora-Silva. The light-flyweight and flyweight division of women’s boxing laden with talent, look for Mucino to stay close to Go and use high punch volume to limit Go’s counter-punching opportunities. Mucino has a formidable home ring advantage in this fight. If she is standing at the final bell, she will win a decision on the cards.

Mucino should win if she can avoid this
KO's Sweet Side Breakdown:

Power: Mucino
Chin: Go
Accuracy: Go
Conditioning: Mucino
Defense: Go
Speed: Go
Size: Go
Skills: Even
Punch Volume: Mucino
Quality of Opposition: Mucino

Prediction: Arely Mucino MD-10 Shindo Go

Quick Hits for September/October:

Irma Garcia (10-1-1, 2 KOs) defends the WBA female bantamweight title against Simone Da Silva Duarte (14-6, 6 KOs) Garcia should cruise to an easy points win in this match-up. Monica Lovato (13-1, 5 KOs) is on the comeback trail facing the ever-tough TBA in Pojoaque, New Mexico. Lovato once defeated Mariana Juarez and held the NABF bantamweight title in 2007-08. Surging Argentine featherweight Cecilia Sofia Mena (9-1-1, 5 KOs) is facing a Brazilian prospect Aline de Cassia Scaranello (7-0, 6 KOs) in Argentina. Another bright featherweight prospect from Argentina, Karen Elizabeth Carabajal (5-0) will battle Maria Soledad Capriolo (3-1-3) in Carbajal’s first six-round fight.

A Look Back At Aug & Sept 2014 in Women's Boxing:

On August 23 in Jose Leon Suarez, Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the main event of a card containing three female bouts, Marcela Eliana Acuna (41-6-1, 18 KOs), 120, of Caseros, Argentina, defended her WBO female super-bantamweight title with a ten-round unanimous decision over Argentine challenger Edith Soledad Matthysse (12-6-1, 1 KO), 120 ¾, by the scores of (98-92/96-94/97-93). Matthysse, the WBA featherweight champion, worked behind a sporadically effective left jab that won her a few rounds, but Acuna, who at 37, looked to be in control from the outset and coasted down the stretch. The Spin: Acuna is the biggest attraction in the loaded super-bantamweight division and a fighter worthy of her main event stature. Super-fights with champions Jackie Nava (WBC) or Marcos (WBA) are likely on the horizon.

On the undercard, Erica Anabella Farias, 137 ½, of Virreyes, Argentina, returned to her winning ways with a third-round technical knockout of fellow Argentine Roxana Beatriz Laborde, 140. Farias, now a light-welterweight, with the win, improves to an impressive (20-1, 10 KOs) whereas Laborde drops to (8-14-2). The knockout victory was just and exercise in futility for Farias, who looks forward to challenging for one of the major titles in her next outing. Laborde received a standing eight count in the second round leading to the assigned referee ending the fight midway through the third round when Farias landed a series of unanswered blows. The Spin: Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the Farias of them all? Well, it is Cecilia Braekhus, but Farias, if she can secure a light-welterweight title, may get a shot at the ‘First Lady’ of women’s boxing. Braekhus, after her defeat of Ivana Habazin, announced that she desires to reduce in weight to the light-welterweight division and win the four major titles there (WBO, WBC, WBA, & IBF).

Was McMorrow robbed in Mexico?
On August 23 in Coacalco, Mexico, “Mighty” Melissa McMorrow (9-5-3), 110 ½, of San Francisco, California, appeared to have done enough to earn a decision victory and the WBC International female flyweight title, but it was not to be. The assigned judges awarded the title to Jessica “Kika” Chavez (21-3-3, 4 KOs), 112, of Mexico City by the scores (96-94/97-94/97-93). The loss marks the third time that McMorrow has tasted defeat in Mexico under suspicious circumstances. Earlier in her career, she lost a unanimous decision to Mariana Juarez and a split decision to Arely Mucino; both fights McMorrow arguably won. In this battle, McMorrow, with her usual aggressive crowd-pleasing style, took the fight to Chavez from the outset. Over the course of the entire fight, she landed the more telling blows forcing Chavez to fight at close quarters instead of countering from distance.

Chavez, who has struggled since winning a razor-thin decision over Yesica Yolanda Bopp in 2013, is a consummate professional and had her moments in this bout, but she was forced to fight McMorrow’s fight for the greater portion of the match. ‘Team McMorrow,’ in a post-fight press release stated, “Chavez is a good fighter, and we fought a fairly even fight. I think I was the aggressor and landed the harder cleaner shots. I wanted to make the fight very decisive since I know that the judges will not work in my favor, but she did a good job of keeping her distance from me. However, I think I deserve the decision as much as she does. It is frustrating that when I watch the fight I can only claim rounds that are undeniable, and she gets credit for everything else.”

The Spin: Chavez picks up the WBC International flyweight title and is still rated #1 at light-flyweight by the WBC. Chavez will face WBC light-flyweight champion, Ibeth Zamora-Silva on November 29 in Toluca, Mexico. McMorrow remains one of the best pound-for-pound female fighters in the world and is now relegated to picking up the pieces and moving on with her career.

Nava too slick for Ashley
On September 6 in Mexico City, Mexico, Jackie Nava (30-4-3, 13 KOs), 121 ½, of Tijuana, won the WBC female super-bantamweight title and defended her interim WBA super-bantamweight strap with a ten-round, majority-decision over New York’s Alicia Ashley (20-10-1, 3 KOs), 121 ½, by the scores (95-95/97-93/98-92). For Nava, 34, the victory was the second since returning from a two-year interruption (childbirth) to her career. The 47-year-old Ashely drops the title in her fourth defense. The first half of the match witnessed Ashley dominate the early action with efficient movement, keeping the fight in the middle of the ring. Her superior defense caused Nava miss a high percentage of her punches. Ashley countered will with her full arsenal of punches landing better than she received. In the second half of the bout, Nava settled into a rhythm and trapped Ashley in the corners and on the ropes often enough to force exchanges in a position of the ring that benefited her. Nava was the aggressor throughout which likely impressed the assigned judges enough to award her with a decision that was closer than the issued cards would otherwise indicate.

The Spin: Nava, with winning the WBC title, is holding two major title belts in the crowded super-bantamweight division. Unification bouts with Argentine super-bantamweight champions, Yesica Patricia Marcos (24-0-2, 8 KOs) or Marcela Eliana Acuna (42-6-1, 18 KOs) would receive huge fan support in Argentina or Mexico. The Acuna vs. Marcos bout held in January 2013 in San Martin, Argentina, drew more than 40,000 spectators.

Braekhus dominates to stay the best in the world
On September 13 in Copenhagen, Denmark, the ‘First Lady’ of women’s boxing, Cecilia Braekhus, 142 ¾, Bergen, Norway, won the IBF welterweight title and successfully defended her WBC, WBA, & WBO straps with a convincing ten-round unanimous decision over Croatian Ivana Habazin, 145 ½. Braekhus dominated the scorecards (100-90 x 3) and the fight employing her superior speed of hand and foot to beat her outgunned opponent consistently to the punch. ‘’I’ve been dreaming of this moment for a long time,’’ said Braekhus. ‘’To be the first female boxer to unify a division is a huge achievement and something that I am extremely proud of. I'd like to thank all the fans that traveled to Copenhagen to support me and Ivana for the part she played in this historic fight.’’ With the win, Braekhus wins the final piece of the four major welterweight title puzzle and improves to (26-0, 7 KOs), Habazin (13-2, 5 KOs) with the loss, displays excellent toughness.

The Spin: Braekhus is the #1 fighter in the sport of women’s boxing and calls the shots. If she drops to the already packed light-welterweight division, which is dominated by Argentine fighters, Fernanda Soledad Alegre (WBO), Alejandra Marina Oliveras (WBC), Ana Laura Esteche (WBA), and Marisa Nunez (IBF) are crowned champions. Klara Svensson (14-0, 5 KOs), also promoted by Sauerland, won the interim WBC light-welterweight title with a ten-round decision over Marie Riederer (15-2-1, 10 KOs) on the undercard. Svensson, 26, of Malmo, Sweden, has a huge fan base and factors into the equation at light-welterweight.

Quick Hits for August-September:

Amanda Serrano (21-1-1, 16 KOs) moved up to lightweight and won the WBO title with a sixth-round knockout of former champion Maria Elena Maderna (13-8-3, 2 KOs). Mariana Juarez (40-7-3, 17 KOs) retained the WBC International female super-flyweight title with a fourth-round technical knockout of Carla Romina Weiss (9-3-1). The knockouts continued with Jelena Mrdjenovich who took what her opponent gave her landing well to the body forcing Marilyn Hernandez (25-10) to retire on her stool after the sixth round. Mrdjenovich retained her WBC female featherweight title. Yesica Patricia Marcos (24-0-2, 8 KOs) knocked out Silvia Fernanda Zacarias (8-17-5) in the third round. Marcos holds the WBA super-bantamweight title which was not on the line in this battle. Victoria Noelia Bustos (12-3) defended her IBF female lightweight title for the second time with a ten-round unanimous decision over Natalia Vanesa del Valle Aguirre. On an all-female card containing seven bouts, former bantamweight champion, Kaliesha West (16-2-3, 4 KOs) was featured facing late substitute and former WBC super-featherweight champion, Olivia Gerula (15-14-2, 3 KOs). Gerula fought well and upset West winning an eight-round unanimous decision.

KO Digest’s Dynamite Dozen Pound-for-Pound Ratings:

"First Lady" Braekhus calls the shots

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 29-1, 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

September 13, 2014

CES Results -- Gingras beats McCreedy, new generation on display

Title For Title at Twin River Casino
By Jeffrey Freeman -- In the ring, win or lose, Lowell's "Irish" Joe McCreedy does not wear the look of a man who's having a good time in there. Last night at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island, McCreedy lost an eight-round unanimous decision to fitness freak Rich Gingras (15-4-1, 9 KO's) in the "Classic Entertainment & Sports" main event. Despite having some good moments in the fight, even landing some of his wild punches, McCreedy (15-8-2, 6 KO's) was hit with considerably more than he dished out, wearing an agonized expression whenever Gingras' punches landed, above or below the belt. As an insightful fan screamed, "Put him out of his misery!" to McCreedy from the beer section, I couldn't help but notice that boxing indeed resembles a sad form of misery that McCreedy would at this point be best put out of.

McCreedy in his misery 
Rich Gingras UD8 Joey McCreedy -- Strong start for McCreedy saw him landing his looping overhand rights in the first two rounds while Gingras struggled to find the range above the belt. McCreedy began to tire in the third, his mouthpiece poking out as Gingras started to connect upstairs. McCreedy never stopped lobbing bombs and some found the mark but he was dog-tired by the end of the round. A divided crowd got their money's worth in the fourth, enjoying grueling toe-to-toe action at the center of the ring. Joey's former trainer Dicky Eklund was seen wandering around ringside, shouting instructions to no avail. Last hurrah in the seventh for McCreedy falls short. Scores: 80-72, 79-73, 80-72.

KO Digest scored it 77-75 for Gingras who picks up a second regional title.

The light heavyweight winner immediately called out "Mr. Providence" Vladine Biosse for a rematch of their disputed 2013 draw.

In the "Classic Co-Main Event" featuring welterweights scheduled for six rounds, Christian Steele of Atlanta, GA squared off against local Providence prospect Nick DeLomba. After missing the first round to chat ringside with Lowell's tipsy Dicky Eklund (who incidentally had "no comment" about the current corner situation of his homeboy Irish Joey McCreedy when asked by ringside photographer Pattee Mak) my attention returned to the action in the ring which found DeLomba getting more early resistance than might have been expected from an "opponent" with several more losses than wins. In any case, DeLomba used his advantages in speed and in size (rangy height) to "control" what turned out to be a sloppy fight with Steele doing more holding than hitting in the last few rounds. Official Scores: 60-54 on all three cards. DeLomba is now 5-0 while Steele is 5-10-2.

The future is now at CES
In a cruiserweight bout billed by CES big boss Jimmy Burchfield as "Joe Frazier vs Rocky Marciano" -- Alvin Varmall of LaPlace, Louisiana played the role of Frazier, bobbing and weaving inside to do damage on the stocky Antonio Mignella of nearby Providence. Mignella was nothing if not sturdy and he leaned on Varmall on the inside whenever the pair weren't exchanging at close quarters. In the second round, Varmall unleashed a nasty right hand to the temple in close and Mignella hit the canvas face first. "Rocky" got up but wobbled badly into the ropes and Joey Lupino wisely called a halt. Varmall improves to 3-0 (he KO'd Andre "Not The Son of God" Ward in his second pro bout) with 3KO's while Mignella literally falls to 3-1. Somebody make Varmall vs Alexis Santos please. 

On The Undercard:

Super Welterweights -- Second professional fight for Worcester, MA's Khiary Gray-Pitts against Boston's Sergio Cabrera. Gray-Pitts is a young talented boxer (the "new generation" of CES as advertised) who I've seen perform in the Lowell Golden Gloves in recent years. As a pro, Gray-Pitts showed a tight defense and good combination punching whenever he stopped to plant his fleet feet. A Gray-Pitts left hook buzzed Cabrera in the first round and the effect of the fight was showing on the surface of his red-faced mug in the second. In the third, Cabrera actually started asking for a beating and Gray-Pitts issued him one, ripping shots to the head and body. In the fourth and final round, the pace slowed considerably and Gray-Pitts focused more on a nifty display of defense rather than fight-ending offense. Pitts goes to 2-0 while Cabrera falls to 0-3. Official Scores: 40-36, 40-36, and 40-36.

Sucra Junior looks sweet like his Dad
Super Welterweights -- In the evening opener, Ray Oliveira Jr (21 year old son of New Bedford, MA's favorite son Sucra Ray Oliveira) made his professional debut against Providence's Angel Valdez, also making a pro debut. Junior got off to a very fast start, rattling his game opponent with a right cross seconds into the four-rounder. Body shots from Oliveira brought down the guard of Valedez, and Ray Jr punished him with power shots high on the head. Valdez showed early fatigue but he stayed in the fight until an uncontested combination right hand to the body, right hand to the chin caused referee Joey Lupino to jump in and stop the fight in the third round to end a pretty good little scrap.

Lightweights -- Scott Sullivan from New Bedford, MA made his pro debut by beating the stuffing out of Boston's seriously overmatched and undertrained Moises Rivera. In the second round, Rivera suddenly turned his back in the corner from a volley of Sullivan's punches and referee Joey Lupino jumped in to stop the fight. Rivera goes to 0-4 while Sullivan goes into boxing a new pro with his first win. 

Photos by Pattee Mak
Super Middleweights - Free swinging (fan friendly) brawl between Zack Christy and Saul Almeida, Framingham, MA, results in a four-round decision win for Christy, 40-36 on all three cards. Christy, Warwick, R.I., makes a successful pro debut while the somewhat capable cage fighter Almeida goes to 0-6 in the boxing ring. 

KO Digest Credentialed Ringside Report by Jeffrey Freeman

August 26, 2014

Marcos Maidana media conference call — "It's better for him to stop crying"

El Chino on the Money
Just a few weeks away from his scheduled September 13 rematch against Floyd Mayweather Jr, Marcos Maidana and his trainer Robert Garcia were asked by the boxing media if they in fact got this lucrative Mayweather redux because "El Chino" earned it in the first fight last May or because Money May needs an economically viable Pay-Per-View fight on Showtime. To his credit, Maidana was diplomatic in his response but the more outspoken Garcia was much more direct. "Floyd had no other options. He was forced to give us a rematch. There were no other names out there that made any sense to sell PPV's and to please the fans." 

Here are some of the topics that Maidana himself spoke on through a translator during a break from an 8-week training camp in Oxnard, CA that's included sparring with Mikey Garcia and Thomas Dulorme.  

On what this rematch means to him as a fighter: "I want to beat him this time. I let him get away the first fight. I'm going to be on him, forcing him to fight so I want him to stand and fight me like a man and stop running and crying like a little bitch."

Maidana says Mayweather does "things" in there
On what he'll do differently this time to ensure a win: "Focus on my distance control and not smother my own punches. I'll hit him on the arms and on the shoulders. He's going to be so tired from my punches that he won't be able to defend himself. I'm not going to get tired."

On what he'll do if Mayweather "runs" all night long instead of engaging: "I'm preparing for anything. I hope he stands and fights but if I have to chase that little bitch all around the ring again, I will."

On comparisons to the Mayweather-Castillo rematch, the only sequel of the undefeated Mayweather's career to this point: "I'm sure he can change and have a different game plan. I'm not going to change. Trying again, I'm hoping that I will be able to force him to fight."

On the notion that winning a decision against Mayweather is impossible: "I can win a decision or by knockout. The first fight was close, a split decision. When we first fought, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to see him, but I found him in the ring many times. I'll use more pressure this time, and win."

KO's Asterisk: All boxing quotes published through translation come with a free grain of salt.

Little bitch, little bitch, let me win

August 21, 2014

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science - Women's Boxing Monthly Vol 15

Babyface Boxing's Beautiful Brawlers
By Mark A Jones -- Female boxers enlisted in the United States Army continue to impress as Alexandra Love and Rianna Rios won their weight classes in July at the National Women’s Golden Gloves Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Fellow World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) teammates Fallon Farrar and Melissa Parker finished second in their respective weight classes; both are former National Champions.

On August 31 in Redwood City, California, Babyface Boxing presents, “Beautiful Brawlers IV,” an all-female boxing card featuring over 100 amateur boxers from Canada, Puerto Rico, and the United States. The third edition of the series held on August 31, 2013, featuring USA Boxing Olympian Queen Underwood, drew nearly 600 spectators including cameo appearances by professional boxers Ava Knight, Melissa McMorrow, and Carina Moreno. The chief architect of the Beautiful Brawlers series is Blanca Gutierrez, who wears many hats in the boxing scene which includes gym owner, coach, promoter, and she even manages heavyweight Martha "The Shadow" Salazar.

Watts was the big winner in Scotland
The 2014 Commonwealth Games were held in Glasgow, Scotland, on 23 July to 3 August. 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Nicola Adams (England) won a close 2-1 decision over Michaela Walsh (Northern Ireland) to win the women’s flyweight (48-51 kg) class. Shelly Watts (Australia) won four fights in five days to win the lightweight class (57-60 kg) defeating Laishram Devi (India) by a 3-0 margin. 2012 Olympian Savannah Marshall (England) topped Ariane Fortin (Canada) for top honors in the middleweight (69-75 kg) class by a close 2-1 decision.

A Look Back At July 2014 in Women's Boxing:

On July 18 in Sedavi, Spain, vivacious light-middleweight Mikaela “Destiny” Lauren (22-3, 8 KOs) of Stockholm, Sweden, at a catchweight of 152 pounds, earned a WBC title opportunity with an eight-round decision victory over former title challenger, Kali Reis (6-3-1, 2 KOs) of Providence, RI, by the scores (77-74/77-75/77-75). Lauren enjoys excellent fan support in Europe and employed her size and experience to earn a slight advantage on the scorecards. Reis was competitive throughout, displaying enough boxing ability to keep the score close. With the win, Lauren will receive a shot at the vacant WBC light-middleweight title against Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes in Sweden in November.

Lauren earns a WBC title shot
KO Digest’s Top 5 Light Middleweights:

1- Anne Sophie Mathis (France)
2- Mikaela Lauren (Sweden)
3- Paola Gabriela Casalinuovo (Argentina)
4- Maria Lindberg (Sweden)
5- Kali Reis (USA)

On July 25 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Fernanda Soledad Alegre (20-1-1, 10 KOs) of Gonzalez Catan, Argentina, successfully defended the WBO female light-welterweight championship for the tenth time with a second round technical knockout of Dalia Vasarhelyi (9-6) of Budapest, Hungary. Alegre took over the fight shortly after the referee's instructions, relentlessly perusing her overwhelmed foe until the assigned referee Gustavo Tomas saved Vasarhelyi, who was helplessly trapped on the ropes, from further punishment near the end of round two. This wipeout was nothing more than an exercise to display the first-rate abilities of the 27-year-old champion who hopefully returns to defending against fighters on the level of former conquests Chris Namus and Enis Pacheco. For the 21-year-old challenger, it was her third unsuccessful attempt at a world title losing to Maria Elena Maderna (TKO-3) and Rola El Halabi (UD-10) previously.

Hammer couldn't keep Mathis off her all night
On July 27 at Anhalt Arena, Dessau, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, WBO & WBF middleweight champion, Christina Hammer (17-0, 8 KOs) Dortmund, Germany, was seemingly cruising to a decision victory over French power-puncher Anne Sophie Mathis (27-3, 23 KOs) when, in the fifth round, she was clubbed to the canvas by a legal rapid succession of right hands to the left ear by the free hand of Mathis during what constituted an unsuccessful attempt to clinch on the behalf of Hammer. The omnipresent assigned referee Manfred Kuechler was grossly out of position during the beat down having an excellent view of the French battler’s back. He failed to initiate a count out of Hammer; instead, he halted the contest determining that Hammer was unable to continue and disqualified Mathis for illegal blows to the back of the head awarding Hammer the WBF light-middleweight title, which Mathis was defending, and the vacant WBO female light-middleweight title.

During the battle, as expected, Hammer fought well from long-range enabling her to evade the leads of Mathis with her superior movement. Mathis delivered better than she received at close-range causing Hammer, who appeared uncomfortable at close-quarters, to clinch; a skill she has yet to master. During the fight, both fighters received warnings for numerous fouls by a heavy-handed referee that was excessive in his admonishment for insignificant violation of the rules. In the end, the sanctioning commission (Bund Deutscher Berufsboxer- BDB) changed the result to “no contest” admitting that mistakes were made affecting the result. Mathis keeps her WBF light-middleweight strap, and Hammer maintains control of the WBO & WBF middleweight titles. The WBO did not order a rematch since Hammer is the organization's reigning middleweight champion.

Shibata is the winner and still champion
On August 2 at the Adachi Ward Sogo Sports Center in Tokyo, Japan, Naoko Shibata, 106 ¾, of Tokyo, defended her IBF female light-flyweight title by stopping veteran Mexican contender Ana Arrazola, 107, in the ninth round of a scheduled ten. At the time of the stoppage, Shibata led on the scorecards by an impressive margin (79-73/79-73/78-74). Shibata is quietly one of the best fighters in women’s boxing. Of her three losses, two were closely contested defeats to Ibeth Zamora-Silva (SD-10) and Etsuko Tada (UD-10). The other, a 2010 defeat to Naoko Fuijoka. For Arrazola (20-10-2, 13 KOs), who has fought the best from minimumweight to light-flyweight suffered her first stoppage loss. With the win, Shibata moves to (13-3, 3 KOs) and will look to defend her title against top contenders Sanae Jah (IBF #2) or Jessica Chavez (IBF #3).

On the undercard, southpaw Momo Koseki, 101, of Tokyo, defended her WBC female atomweight title (102 lbs.) for a record-breaking 14th time with an eight-round demolition of Muay-Thai star Denise Castle, 101 ¼, of Bournemouth, UK. The fight was halted at the 2:09 mark of the eighth of a scheduled ten when referee determined that Castle (2-1, 2 KOs) had absorbed too much punishment to continue. Koseki (19-2-1, 6 KOs) was leading by the identical score of (70-63) on each scorecard. With the win, Koseki surpasses Yoko Gushiken’s thirteen defenses to become the Japanese fighter with the most-successful title defenses.

Sweet Side Quick Hits for July/August: 

Bosques now has a belt
On July 17 Carolina Raquel Duer (17-3-1, 5 KOs) landed enough big shots to win a ten-round unanimous decision over Ana Lozano (8-2) retaining her WBO female bantamweight title. It was Duer’s second defense of the bantamweight strap. She previously held the WBO female super-flyweight title defending it successfully six times before elevating to bantamweight. On July 26 Anabel Ortiz (15-3, 3 KOs) stopped contender Neisi Torres (12-3-1, 8 KOs) in the third round retaining her WBA female minimumweight title for the second time. Noemi Bosques (6-1-2, 2 KOs) won her first minor title stopping Yolaine Lin de Lauf (6-2) in the third round of their scheduled eight round affair. Bosques scored two knockdowns in the third round before the referee stoppage. Former light-middleweight champion, Jennifer Retzke (15-1-1, 9 KOs) won the vacant IBO welterweight title with a ten-round, split-decision over Florence Muthoni (11-4-1, 5 KOs). Carolina Rodriguez (13-0, 1 KO) defended her IBF bantamweight title with a split-decision over slugger Dayana Cordero (13-5-1, 9 KOs).

A Look Ahead To August 2014 in Women's Boxing:

On August 23 in Coacalco, Mexico, on a card dubbed, “Duel of Queens” Jessica “Kika” Chavez (20-3-3, 4 KOs) of Mexico City will battle “Mighty” Melissa McMorrow (9-4-2, 1 KO) of San Francisco, USA, for the vacant WBC International female flyweight title. Stylistically, this is an excellent matchup boasting the counter-punching ability of Chavez versus the close-range, volume-punching of McMorrow.

As it is in women’s boxing, a record does not always indicate to what level a fighter can compete. A quick look under the hood of McMorrow’s career reveals that she usually engages top-level competition often in the opponent’s home town. Her in-your-face aggressive fighting style has enabled her to upset two German-based world champions in Nadia Raoui, a boxer-puncher, and Susi Kentikian, a fellow volume-puncher, in Germany. McMorrow is equally adept at handling all boxing styles requiring her opponents to make the necessary adjustments. In her last effort, McMorrow lost a closely-contested, ten-round unanimous decision to Mexican boxing superstar, Mariana “Barbie” Juarez in Mexico.

Chavez is undefeated in her last eleven bouts with only a November 2013 split-draw with Mexican slugger Arely Mucino as the lone blemish. Chavez is widely considered among the pound-for-pound best in the sport holding wins over Yesica Yolanda Bopp, Irma Sanchez, and Katia Gutierrez. Most recently, she won a unanimous decision over ten rounds against former WBA light-flyweight champion, Tenkai Tsunami of Japan. The three losses on the docket of Chavez are to Ibeth Zamora Silva, Esmeralda Moreno, and Bopp, each a present of former pound-for-pound entry. The 26-year-old Chavez is nearing the prime of her career and is a multi-dimensional fighter who discovers a method to prevail in the fights she is favored to win.

Chavez will win a close one according to Mark Jones
McMorrow, 33, will try to get inside and attempt to sit there and force Chavez to match her high punch volume. Chavez should make the proper adjustments, denying McMorrow inside position, and thereby enabling her to control enough of the action at medium to long range to persuade the judges to see things her way.

Prediction: Chavez UD-10 McMorrow (6-4 or 7-3 in rounds).

On 23 August in Villa Ballester, Argentina, in the main event of a card containing two high profile female bouts, Marcela Eilana “La Tigresa” Acuna (41-6-1, 18 KOs) of Caseros, will defend her WBO female super-bantamweight title in a scheduled ten round contest against Edith Soledad Matthysse (12-6-1, 1 KO) of Trelew. This fight is a rematch of their May 2013 battle where Acuna dominated the action winning nine of the ten rounds on each scorecard. Matthysse won the WBA female featherweight title in December with a unanimous decision victory over Ogleidis Suarez. She is reducing in weight to super-bantam to challenge Acuna in hopes of adding a championship belt in a second weight class to her record. At 34, she is the older sister to former WBC light-welterweight champion, Lucas Martin Matthysse. The older sister owns the same aggressive streak as her more credentialed brother, but that is where the comparison ends. Edith Soledad has one knockout victory in nineteen professional outings, but her aggressive tactics have enabled her to defeat world champions Daniela Romina Bermudez and Suarez. After losing her first two professional bouts to Christy Martin (UD-10) and Lucia Rijker (KO-5), Acuna has built a certain Hall of Fame career boasting an incredible 6 ½ year run as the dominate super-bantamweight champion of the sport (2006-12) defeating Alicia Ashley, Alejandra Marina Oliveras, and Jackie Nava along the way. In her last action, Acuna stopped contender Estrella Valverde (TKO-6) to retain her WBO title. Acuna is a master counter-puncher and at 37-years-old, remains one of the pound-for-pound best in women’s boxing. Acuna, as she did in their first meeting, will exploit the straight-line aggressive style of Matthysse, moving just enough to evade her advances and expertly countering with her full arsenal of punches. Acuna wins nine of ten rounds routing Matthysse. Prediction: Acuna UD-10 Matthysse (9-1 in rounds).

On the undercard, Erica “La Pantera” Farias (19-1, 9 KOs) of Virreyes, Argentina, battles the “Rough & Ready” TBA in a non-title bout scheduled for ten rounds. It will be the first fight back for the former WBC female lightweight champion since losing her title in her 12th defense to Delfine Persoon in April. The card is scheduled to be televised by Argentina TyC Sports.

Will Nava be too slick for Ashley?
On September 6 in Mexico City, Mexico, Alicia “Slick” Ashley (21-9-1, 3 KOs) of Westbury, New York, defends the WBC female super-bantamweight title against Mexican superstar Jackie “La Princesa Azteca” Nava (29-4-3, 13 KOs) of Tijuana. The 46-year-old Ashley, who will turn 47 by fight night, has the distinction as the second oldest reigning world boxing champion behind only Bernard Hopkins (49). However, Ashly is relegated to a secondary position to very few in boxing in terms of defensive ability; she sits on top of women’s boxing as the best defensive fighter in the game. Undefeated since 2010, Ashley has won her last seven contests, the longest such streak of her career. Holding career-defining wins over Marcela Eliana Acuna (twice), Elena Reid, and IWBHF inductee Bonnie Canino only adds to her credibility as a reigning champion. It will be the fourth defense of the WBC title for Ashley. The 34-year-old Nava, in May, returned to the ring after a two-year hiatus (child birth) and became a super-bantamweight champion for the fifth time winning the interim WBA version with an impressive dismantling of former champion, Alys Sanchez (KO-7). Nava, who is susceptible to knockdowns, hit the canvas briefly in the first round but rallied scoring four knockdowns of her own in route to an impressive victory. Nava is a stalking mid-range, left-hook artist with bristling punching power with the ability to lead or counter. She is at her best when forcing her opponents back to the ropes where her lack of lateral movement is more difficult to exploit; Nava is front-foot heavy.

Unlike the Sanchez fight, Nava will find it difficult to land a meaningful glove on Ashley, a southpaw, due to the champion’s efficient lateral movement, excellent upper body flexibility, and deft right jab. Although she possesses significantly more firepower, Nava, to battle on an even footing in the middle of the ring, will have to increase her punch volume and force the Ashley into enough exchanges along the ropes to sway the judges to favor her. At a natural site, this is a pick’em fight. In Mexico, Nava will get the benefit of the doubt and win a closely-contested, but comfortable decision. Losing a close fight on the road is not a new experience for Ashley, who has arguably lost only a fraction of the nine defeats posted to her official record.

This match, scheduled on the undercard of Juan Francisco Estrada versus Giovani Segura WBA & WBO World flyweight championship fight, will be one of two high-profile female bouts on the card. Also appearing in a ten-round title bout will be the ever-popular, Mariana “Barbie” Juarez, facing an unnamed opponent in defense of her WBC International super-flyweight title. Juarez is recovering nicely from a shoulder injury and should be ready to defend her title on this card. Rumors are still swirling about the prospects of a super-fight between Juarez and WBC female super-flyweight champion Zulina Munoz (42-1-2, 27 KOs).

Prediction: Nava UD-10 Ashley (6-4 in rounds). 

Nava is predicted to prevail
KO Digest’s Top 5 Super Bantamweights (122 lbs.):

1- Marcela Eilana Acuna (Argentina)
2- Jackie Nava (Mexico)
3- Alicia Ashley (USA)
4- Yesica Patricia Marcos (Argentina)
5- Sabrina Perez (Argentina) 

On September 13 in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the co-main event of a Sauerland Promotions “Nordic Fight Night” card, the consensus pound-for-pound #1 boxer in women’s boxing, Cecilia “First Lady” Braekhus (25-0, 7 KOs) of Bergen, Norway, defends her WBA, WBC, and WBO female welterweight titles against IBF female welterweight champion Ivana Habazin (13-1, 5 KOs) of Zagreb, Croatia. Habazin’s IBF welterweight strap is also in play. The 32-year-old Braekhus, in the prime of her career, with a victory, will gain control of each of the “big four” welterweight titles. After her dominating points victory over Jessica Balogun in June, Braekhus stated publically, ‘’I would like to fight for the IBF belt next,” said Braekhus. ‘’I already hold the WBC, WBA & WBO titles and now I want to unify the division and become the first female fighter to hold all four belts.’’ During her four-year career, Habazin, 24, pounded her way to the IBF title by beating a group of pretenders with only two owning winning records. Like most European fighters, she attempts to fight at long-range coaxing her opponents into taking all the risk and countering when the opponent sits inside her range. She is too slow of hand and foot to employ this strategy against Braekhus, who owns a ridiculous speed advantage. Prediction: Braekhus will dispense with her usual niceties and stop Habazin within six rounds to look impressive in what is likely her final fight at welterweight. Braekhus TKO-6 Habazin

On the undercard, “The Swedish Princess” Klara Svensson (13-0, 5 KOs) will receive her first shot at a world title when she battles slugger Marie Riederer (15-1-1, 10 KOs) for the interim WBC World light-welterweight title. "I have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time," said Svensson. "I am happy to finally get a chance to fight for the World title. I am expecting a tough fight. On paper, Riederer is the best opponent I have faced so far in my career but I am looking forward to the challenge." To date, neither fight has faced respectable competition both piling up wins over ordinary competition.
In June 2010, Riederer stepped up in competition and lost decisively to Christina Hammer (KO-5).

Sweet Side Quick Hits for August-September:

On August 29 in Maracay, Venezuela, Arely Valente (12-1-1, 6 KOs) of Mexico will face Mayerlin Rivas (9-3-1, 6 KOs) of Venezuela, for the interim WBA female bantamweight title. Rivas failed in two attempts at world titles whereas Valente is receiving her first shot at a world title belt. On August 30 in La Pampa, Argentina, former longtime WBA female light-welterweight champion, Monica Silvina Acosta (19-1-2, 5 KOs) will battle fellow Argentine Marisa Gabriela Nunez (6-5-2) for the vacant IBF female light-welterweight title. Also on August 30 in Peru, Peruvian-born “Triple L” Linda Laura Lecca (10-2-1, 3 KOs) will meet Guadalupe Martinez (7-6, 3 KOs) of Mexico for the interim WBA female super-flyweight title. Future superstar Kenia Enriquez (11-0, 6 KOs) of Tijuana, Mexico, will battle veteran trial horse Mayela Perez (11-15-4, 7 KOs) in San Diego on September 4. It will mark the third time that the 20-year-old Enriquez has fought in San Diego. 

KO Digest Dynamite Dozen Top 12 Pound For Pound Ratings:

Month after month, Braekhus is still pound for pound #1
1- Cecilia Braekhus 25-0, 7 KOs (Norway)
2- Marcela Eilana Acuna 41-6-1, 18 KOs (Argentina)
3- Anne Sophie Mathis 27-3, 23 KOs (France)
4- Yesica Yoland Bopp 27-1, 12 KOs (Argentina)
5- Delfine Persoon 29-1, 13 KOs (Belgium)
6- Diana Prazak 13-2, 9 KOs (Australia/USA)
7- Jackie Nava 29-4-3, 13 KOs (Mexico)
8- Christina Hammer 17-0, 8 KOs (Germany)
9- Erica Anabella Farias 19-1, 9 KOs (Argentina)
10- Jelena Mrdjenovich 32-9-1, 16 KOs (Canada)
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