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 a 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 

August 1, 2014

KO Digest Interview: Gary Balletto - “ I never knew how loved I was ”

The Grandson of Hitman Tiger Balletto
Working seven days a week with rigorous physical tests, focused on one goal and traveling over 400 miles away from his home in (divine) Providence, Rhode Island to Baltimore, it feels as though Gary Balletto is at camp training for a fight. In a way, he is. However, this fight is more important than any he  had in a decade long career in the boxing ring.

This fight is not one against a world class opponent that can be won by studying film. Like all but two of the fights on his record (31-3-2, 26 KOs) it is being fought close to home, but this time, it’s more personal.

Gary Balletto wants to walk again.

The small-town, small-state hero was beloved by much of New England for his fierce, never-give-up fighting style and peak physical condition. He’ll need both of those things more than ever to combat an injury suffered in July of 2013 that paralyzed him in his own backyard.

Hearing him talk about it is heartbreaking, but he doesn’t want your sympathy—only the continued support that has been overwhelming from not only the boxing community but the entire region as well. Only 39 years old, Balletto has already accomplished a lot. He won Golden Gloves titles in southern New England, he fought on national television multiple times and was a big ticket seller in the area en route to accruing smaller titles. He staged a comeback to fight on the reality TV show “The Contender,” starred in his own documentary film, and was training to break a fitness world record before the accident.

But there’s still one big accomplishment left to come, one that seems miles away but begins with literally one single step.

And like any brave fighter, Balletto will never stop trying to get back up on his feet to take it. 

Beaten to the end by Goyo, Gary never gave up
KO Digest's Joel Sebastianelli: Your injury had a sudden and profound impact on your life one year ago. Take us through the circumstances and how your life has changed.

Gary Balletto: It was the scariest feeling I ever had. My life changed completely as a result of the accident. Last year, I was in phenomenal shape. I always took care of my body with conditioning and weight training. For me now, the biggest thing that bothers me is that my body doesn’t look right. I was very fussy. I like perfect symmetry. I ate the right nutrition, I never drank or smoked, and do to all of that stuff and take such good care of my body and then get paralyzed from the waist down? I don’t have use of my hands, my muscles are getting atrophy. It bothers me to look in the mirror more than anything. This happened in my backyard. My seven year old son, at the time, was in the boxing gym about a week before the accident. He had never done pull-ups, so I put him on the bar and I told him that his older brother could probably do 10 pull-ups at that age, so let me see how many you can do. He did 20.

A week later on a Sunday, we were home. We just had pancakes for breakfast. I went outside to play with my youngest. I found this bar, an old piece of a trampoline. I wedged it between two trees and had a screw gun to put a couple of screws around the bar into the tree for him to practice and do pull-ups. At this time, I was also practicing to break the world record for pull-ups done in one minute, so I figured I could use a pull-up bar at home too—but it was really for him to play on in the yard. I said “let me show you how to spin around the bar.” Just on my hands, with my arms straight, I spin around once and although the bar was flimsy, I didn’t fall. He asked me to do it again so he could see where my hands were. The second time I spun around the bar, it crashed straight down to the ground and I landed completely the wrong way. Immediately on impact I broke my neck and was paralyzed that second. I knew it. I knew as soon as I hit. I couldn’t move my legs, I couldn’t move my hands.

Balletto looked like the Micky Ward of Rhode Island
KOD: Your entire life has been spent in Rhode Island, a state not known for producing many notable boxers with the exception of Vinny Pazienza and Peter Manfredo Jr, how did boxing wind up in your life? 

GB: I started boxing at the age of thirteen, but it was something that I always thought I should be doing because my grandfather and father were boxers, but they weren’t around to teach me boxing. My father died when I was ten years old but I knew the sport ran in my family so I eventually tried it myself when I was thirteen. I ended up being very good at it. At the age of 18, I was taking boxing more seriously and I moved from Florida back to Rhode Island after I finished high school. When I came back and joined this gym, my goal was to win a Golden Gloves boxing title at Southern New England. I trained for this for almost three months and in the finals, I knocked my opponent out 40 seconds into the first round. I didn’t know how talented I was until that point, when I won the Golden Gloves like it was so easy. I won numerous titles in New England in tournaments, always against the best in the area.
I finished with a record of 13-2, with both losses coming against national number ones.

KOD: The majority of your career was spent with Jimmy Burchfield and CES. How much of an impact has CES had on the regional boxing landscape over the years, given that there is so little boxing in the state of Rhode Island?

GB: CES was the only show in town at the time, so there was no place better to be as a New England fighter. Jimmy Burchfield and I are very close. He’s a great man, he’s been good to me throughout my career. We’re still very close friends today.

KOD: In your decade long career, you only had two fights outside New England, with most of them coming in either Rhode Island or Connecticut. How important was fighting at home to you and do you feel that gave you an advantage?

Balletto appreciates what Mr. B does to help
GB: Fighting at home definitely gave me an advantage to have my hometown crowd there. But, as I said many times when I fought on ESPN, I was always in my local town because my promoter was the one doing the show. I was a very big ticket seller. I understand why he wanted me on those shows, but it doesn’t matter where in the world you fight—if you’re on television, everybody is going to see you. I was never on the road as an opponent. It just so happened that all my fights were in New England.

KOD: You never won a major world title, and outside of Friday Night Fights and the Contender, haven’t received a lot of national attention. But, ask people in the region about some of their favorite fighters from the area and you name frequently comes up. What qualities do you think made those fans latch onto you and stay with you through the years?

GB: I think people liked to watch me because I was exciting. I would take a chance, even if it was taking punches. No matter what you do in life, if you never take a chance, you’re never going to get to that next level. I tried to knock my opponent out in every single fight. That was my main goal, and knockouts are what people want to see. Most people don’t enjoy watching a boxing match. I always felt if I didn’t knock my opponent out, I didn’t really win.

KOD: In 2006, at the end of your career, you were featured on season 2 of “The Contender.” How did the opportunity to fight on the show come about, and how did the experience differ from a typical fighting experience away from the show?

GB: The day before the last tryout in New York City, I got a call from promoter Rich Cappiello. He promoted me at the beginning of my career before I signed with Mr. B, and he said “Gary, I got the word their fighting close to welterweight. I think you should come with me tomorrow and go to this tryout. I know that you’re going to get picked.” I had to go back and talk to my wife about it. I was retired almost three years from boxing, and we decided together that I shouldn’t fight anymore because of the damage that had been done to my body. I first had to convince my wife to let me go because we weren’t boxing anymore. I convinced her to let me go, that it was just a tryout with a friend of mine, and that they probably weren’t going to pick me anyway. Soon enough, I heard they were going to pick me and a couple of weeks later I got the phone call that they liked me and decided to go with the weight class and were going to send me to another tryout to narrow it down. Another week or so went by, and they invited me to LA for another tryout with sparring and numerous tests for eight days. They invited 37 fighters and narrowed it down to 16 going by personalities, how you are on camera, medical fitness, and other things they used to make a good TV show.

KOD: What was it like to actually be on the show from the reality TV angle behind the scenes?

Celebration turned into tragedy for Tiger
GB: That experience was very different for me because it was almost like going to a training camp, which is something I never did outside of my own gym. I actually learned a lot by being around other great fighters and watching their regimens. I was surprised that the training was not as intense as I had done my whole life. These guys that were in the top 20 in the world didn’t train hard. It was more technical than anything else. Now that I look back on my career, if I mastered my technical boxing as I mastered my strength and conditioning, I think I would have been a better fighter.

I actually had a lot of experience being on film. I starred in a documentary film prior to the TV show called “Sweet Dreams,” so I had a camera follow me for almost five years and it wasn’t something different for me. Unfortunately, when I fought on “the Contender,” it was at the end of my career. I actually retired from boxing in 2003 and the Contender didn’t happen until 2006, so I had three years of nothing and jumped into a TV with one month of training. Had this happened at the right time, my career would have wound up in a much different place if the show happened in 2003 or in my weight classes instead of a few weight classes higher than my ideal weight.

KOD: In its fairly short run, The Contender did a good job of bringing boxing into the spotlight and attracting casual fans, but boxing shows don’t seem to stick around for long in any format, including reality TV and scripted. Is there any reason in particular that you think boxing shows struggle to attract and keep viewers?

This show would be the most viewed to maybe you and me, but I guess the majority of the population wouldn’t view. I thought it was the greatest show on TV and I don’t understand why the viewings went down and there eventually weren’t enough viewers to keep it on. It was exciting. It was as real as it gets, and there wasn't a better show to show that boxing is a man’s sport. Growing up, if you got into a fight in the street, you fought with your hands. If you went to the ground and the guy was kicking you or choking you, it was cheating. Now, MMA is here but I look back at fighting as a kid and fights didn’t happen like that, they happened by standing up and fighting. Boxing is a man’s sport. I thought it would be viewed more than it was.

KOD: You’re in one of the nation’s top rehab programs right now. Do the doctors think you will ever be able to walk again?

GB: No. No. There’s no doctor that thinks I will walk again, and they’re not allowed to give their opinion on that anyway, but sometimes they do. There’s only one doctor that thinks I’ll walk again. He’s not my practicing doctor—he was Christopher Reeve’s doctor and he doesn’t practice anymore. But, he owns the facility we go to in Baltimore. It’s always nice to hear that and you hope for the best, but no, statistically, I’ll never walk again. However, I’m not planning on statistics. I think I was one of the most perfectly trained athletes ever, so for me, I don’t think there was anybody in better shape at the time when they broke their neck than I was. I hope that means something. I hope that my doctors say that means something, the shape I was in.

KOD: What goals do you have on the rebound from injury? You’ve certainly come a long way, but what struggles lie ahead?

Tiger Junior hits the bag for Dad
GB: My goal would be to walk again. It’s almost impossible to put a time on that, I’ve realized. It’s a long process for nerves to grow back and reconnect. It’s a very, very long process. I thought I would be walking already with my therapy by pushing it to the limits like a fight. I do seven days a week of very intense physical therapy, which is what this program I am in told me to do. They said hardcore therapy will get you better, which is perfect for me because that’s all I know. I have improved in all parts of my body’s strength. Everything that is actually working gets stronger, and I actually have an improvement in my motor as far as moving. My fingers are starting to twitch which is new, and I have movement in my stomach. I can’t do a sit-up, but I have the muscles triggering at the T5 level, which is below the level of injury. It’s a great sign. I’m a little frustrated, but I’m definitely making progress in this very slow process.

KOD: Fighters fight. Having fought for many years in the ring, is there a mentality from boxing that you’ve taken with you and applied to rehab that helps you stay strong during this difficult time?

GB: It's automatically in my nature to train hard. I already know how to train and all the exercises I need to do. When I work with these therapists, it’s not like they teach me anything, they’re just there to help me get through it. I see a physical therapist three days a week, but I train the other four days on my own with special adaptive equipment recommended by Baltimore. There is a bike that is electric stimulation that moves my legs so I can maintain the muscle in my legs. The arms I can do myself. I don’t have my hands to grab onto something for pulling exercise, but I have adaptive gloves I can use to do that. I know how to work the muscles in my body, and that’s what they tech you at physical therapy. I’m one step ahead there.

Fun, fast, always came to fight
KOD: Were you surprised by how many people in the boxing community embraced you and your family after the accident? What has that experience been like for you?

GB: Not only did the boxing community embrace me, but my home state Rhode Island embraced me. It’s amazing the support that I have and the friends that I have through this problem. I never knew how loved of a person I was, to be honest with you.

KOD: Your son is following in your footsteps and is currently fighting as an amateur. Boxing is obviously a physically taxing sport. Were you always supportive of Gary Jr’s goals to get in the ring, or did you hope he’d pick another sport over boxing?

GB: Absolutely. You said it exactly. I hoped he would pick another sport to do. I never pushed the sport of boxing on my son. I didn’t want him doing it, but I never said he couldn’t and he completely made his own choice. When he was younger, he didn’t like it and said it was stupid because he thought MMA was the way to go. He wrestled since he was six years old and had the background to be an MMA fighter with Thai boxing and judo. In February of last year, he pulled a groin muscle training and ever since then, he was waiting for it to heal and after seeing a doctor, he has a piece of his muscle detached from the bone near the groin area and he needs a surgery that he has put off since then. But, he realized that boxing doesn’t affect his groin, and he decided that he wants to box and follow in his father’s footsteps. It’s really exciting for me, but at the same time, I don’t really want him fighting.

KOD: What role have you been able to play in his career thus far, and how much potential do you think he has?

Balletto is a proud family man   
GB: I was training him up until I hurt myself along with my old boxing trainer, Kurt Reader. I always give him my point of view, but I wanted him to learn from more than one person. I had one trainer my whole career, but I think it’s important to learn from different trainers because you take a little bit from each one. I want to be there as a second person to tell him what I think at the same time, but not have that relationship with him.
I want to be his father still.

KOD: What defines you in or out of the ring that you are most proud of? 

GB: I’m most proud of my family. I couldn’t be happier with my three kids and my wife, and I have so many friends. I think that having the right attitude throughout life is important. I’ve always been a giver and helped people, and it has paid back in so many ways by doing the right thing throughout my life, especially when something like this happens.

The Future of Boxing

KO Digest Interview conducted by Joel "The Future" Sebastianelli

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

Joel can be found Tweeting on Twitter @JJSebastianelli

July 27, 2014

Gennady Golovkin KO's Daniel Geale in 3 - Triple G the Real Deal at MSG

"Real Deal" Geale goes out on his shield in 3 vs GGG
NEW YORK  — Perhaps Gennady Golovkin should consider moving to the Big Apple, or at least investing in some prime real estate. New Yorkers have readily taken to the WBA middleweight champion. Fighting at Madison Square Garden on HBO for the third time in six fights, the power-puncher brought the city that never sleeps to its feet Saturday night with his seventeenth consecutive knockout. "The Tyson effect," is how K2's Tom Loeffler described it at the post-fight press conference. With an anticipated crowd too large to be held in the smaller Garden Theater, the decision was made to have MSG's main arena (the big room) scaled down to a 9,000 seating capacity. With a turnout crowd of more than 8,500–the promotion was definitely a success, an indication that the unbeaten power puncher's fan base is growing.

As Kazakhstan boxing fans proudly waved their flags, the anticipation for the main event steadily increased. In fact, the mere sight of "GGG" on the giant screen drew loud cheers from the pro-Triple-G crowd. Perhaps unaware of Daniel "Real Deal" Geale's personal issues back home Down Under (the Australian fighter dedicated the fight to his mother who was diagnosed with cancer) Geale would be greeted with loud boos, a sharp contrast to Golovkin's entrance into the ring, like that of a knockout king.

It was a game of cat-and-mouse in the opening round, with Geale darting left-and-right, while looking for counter punching opportunities. Golovkin's first big punch, a sneaky lead right hand, drew oohs from the crowd. Geale did land a right hand to the body, and a left hook to the head, but Golovkin didn't blink. Golovkin landed a heavy jab, as well as a nice left hook right cross combination. In an opening round that would last four minutes long, Geale went down without a punch, thanks to a lazy camera man who left his camera strap dangling in the ring on the apron. The WBA champion increased the pressure in the second, but Geale made him miss often. But he also paid the price, as he expended a lot of energy to do so. A left hook to the body by Golovkin, followed by a right cross put Geale on his bicycle. Finally, a solid left hook, followed by a glancing right hand dropped Geale for the first time. The crowd erupted as Geale picked up the referee's count.

The scariest middleweight in the world
Uncharacteristically, Golovkin did not go to the body after he had his opponent hurt, and his punches went whistling over Geale's head. However, "GGG" did land a good right hand before the bell. Golovkin continued to miss some of his punches as he hunted his prey in the third, but he was narrowing the gap, as Geale's back got closer to the ropes. Suddenly, a straight right hand landed flush to the face of Golovkin, but the champion quickly countered with a right hand of his own off of his back foot, to the surprise of Geale, who did not get his own right hand back in time to defend himself. As Geale headed to the canvas for the final time, a left hook by Golovkin was added in for good measure.

As a totally beaten Geale tried to clear his head and stop stumbling, referee Mike Ortega indicated he'd seen enough. The time of the stoppage was 2:47 of the third round. "Is the knockout important?" asked Max Kellerman, minutes later in the ring. "The knockout is important, not just for me or for my team, but everybody. This is a show, a big drama show," he said. "This is my fighter style, like Mexican style. This is a fight, this is not games," added the champion. Golovkin 30-0 (27 KO's) mentioned linear world middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, Peter Quillin, and Sam Soliman as possible future opponents before leaving the ring.

Perez got docked a point by Harvey Dock
In the co-main event, referee Harvey Dock would become the main topic of discussion after the WBC heavyweight title eliminator between Bryant "By-By" Jennings and Mike "The Rebel" Perez. On paper, this should have been an exciting fight with Jennings being the better all around athlete, and Perez the more experienced boxer with extensive amateur experience. Although the fight wasn't  exactly pleasant to the eye, there would be momentum swings throughout. The fight started in favor of Perez countering Jennings, and his jab to the body and head was fairly effective. It wasn't all one sided. Jennings would have his moments, landing an occasional right hand to the body and head. "Embarrass him," instructed Adam Booth to Perez before the third. Jennings turned the tide in the next few rounds, as Perez was already breathing heavily. Jennings right hands to the body and head drew kisses blown from his opponent, but the Cuban now based in Ireland didn't receive any points for that. He did out hustle Jennings in the sixth, but the Philadelphian heavyweight slowly took over the next four rounds by beating Perez about the body with both hands and eye catching rights to the head. In the tenth, Perez stumbled from one of those right hands, after he got careless backing Jennings into a corner.

Also in the tenth, a nice right uppercut, and a temporary switch to southpaw won Jennings the round. The eleventh saw Perez step up with body shots, and move Jennings around the ring. With the fight fairly close, Perez lost a point in the final round for hitting Jennings on the break, but Perez fought back desperately trying to get the point back. Driving his fighter back with one two's mainly to the body, the round was even. Most in attendance felt Jennings won the fight, so there was a groan from the crowd when the first card of 114-113 by Tom Schreck was read in favor of Perez. However it was overruled by the scores of 114-113 and 115-112 by Glen Feldman and Joe Pasquale, respectively. Jennings won the fight on a split decision. Perez, whose record fell to 20-1 (12 KO's) left the ring, and was not seen the rest of the evening.

 GGG wants Cotto first and foremost
From pressrow on behalf of KO Digest, I scored it 114-113 in favor of Jennings.

At the post press conference, Jennings explained his fight plan. "I used my distance well, and I showed him I have an inside game. I made him do what I want to do," said the winner. "He didn't want to trade, which surprised me. Even though he was gassed, he was still tricky, because he didn't move his feet. I expected him to trade more, because I had more shit for him," laughed Jennings, whose record improved to 19-0, 10 KO's. The classy Geale 30-3 (16 KO's) was next. "Tough day at the office," the challenger cracked. He also stated the obvious. "You make a mistake with a puncher, especially one with good timing, you will pay." Finally it was Triple G's turn, and again he made reference to his "Mexican style" of fighting. Promoter Loeffler mentioned Cotto as a priority, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Canelo Alverez as possible opponents. I did question the champion on his preparation for Geale's style of fighting. "Obviously, you prepared for his fighting style in camp. Did he surprise you at any time, or did it go as expected?" I asked. "No. In the first round, I looked at his tactics and strategy, in the second, it was my time," said the proud champion.

Images and Words by David McLeod - exclusively for KO Digest 

KO Digest Ringside Report