April 28, 2011

Victor Ortiz - Winning!

KO Digest Ringside Report by Jeffrey Freeman
MGM GRAND FOXWOODS, CT ~ On a busy April weekend of casino entertainment that included performances by tough talkers Victor Ortiz and Charlie Sheen, boxing fans who were lucky enough to be in attendance for the vicious version of "winning" saw something very special indeed, perhaps even the Fight of the Year.

Victor Ortiz (now 29-2-2 w/ 22 KO's) more than lived up to his nickname in defeating WBC Welterweight Champion Andre Berto (now 27-1 w/ 21 KO's), his upset victory in effect winning over many of his critics. For Ortiz, it was a fan friendly - breakout performance to be sure, one he needed and one he promised.

Manager Rolando Arellano joked at the post fight press conference, "If anyone wants to know why Victor Ortiz performed the way he did tonight, it's because Charlie Sheen is here and he gave Victor some of his tiger blood!" Performance enhancing blood? That explains it.

Whatever it was, tiger blood or pressure from the boxing world, it turned Victor Ortiz into a combination of a tiger and a man possessed.

Like unsuspecting prey, WBC welterweight Champion Andre Berto never knew what hit him.

Duh, Winning!

Leading up to the fight, WBC Champion Andre Berto stressed the simple importance of winning, "coming up with that win is all that matters" - while Victor Ortiz guaranteed it to anyone who would listen, saying repeatedly - "I will win this fight!", and so it went on April 16th that Victor Ortiz walked the walk of his big talk, live on HBO Championship Boxing where winning in the ring is really all that matters. While Charlie Sheen and Andre Berto merely talked about winning, Victor Ortiz went out and did it. 

In an early Fight of the Year candidate, the new and improved Victor Ortiz beat the previously undefeated Andre Berto to lift the WBC Welterweight title at MGM Grand Foxwoods by unanimous decision. The fight featured multiple knockdowns and thrilling action throughout. Berto was down in the first, Ortiz in the second. The sixth was an instant classic as both fighters went down, first Ortiz from a huge right hand and then it was Berto's turn to crash with only seconds left in the round, courtesy of an Ortiz left hook. It was simply an amazing fight and both fighters were indeed elevated on the strength of their respective performances.

Let's take a Round by Round look at this great fight:

Round 1: A fast paced feeling out round. Berto goes down early from what looked like an Ortiz left hand behind the ear, the referee rules it a slip. A flurry of punches including vicious uppercuts from Ortiz sends Berto slumping into a corner with a minute left in the round. That is no slip. Berto is up quickly though. A crafty Berto avoids serious follow up from Ortiz and even lands a big shot of his own. Good opening round.
~Ortiz round 10-8  (All three official judges score it 10-8 for Ortiz)

Round 2: Berto seems to still be recuperating for the first minute of the second round. Berto is using the whole ring to avoid an aggressive Ortiz. A big right hand clips Ortiz on the chin while moving forward and punching. Ortiz goes down backwards, his glove breaking his fall. That's a knockdown. Ortiz up quickly. Great start to the fight.
~Berto round 10-8  (All three official judges score it 10-8 for Berto)

Round 3: A very aggressive Ortiz swarms Berto. It's a slugfest and they are trading punches. Ortiz literally snarls when he punches and Berto continually invites him to the inside for exchanges that Ortiz gets the better of in this round.
~Ortiz round 10-9 (All three official judges score it 10-9 for Ortiz)

Round 4: "Stay off the ropes!" they are telling Berto between rounds. The fighters trade shots early in the round and against the wishes of his corner, Berto is right back on the ropes where Ortiz is abusing him with a variety of punches. Berto invites him in and Ortiz obliges him by, you guessed it - punching him.
~Ortiz round 10-9 (All three official judges score it 10- for Ortiz)

Round 5: Ortiz is warned between rounds by referee for punching behind head. More boxing from Berto to start the round until Ortiz backs him to the ropes and a similar pattern emerges of Berto inviting Ortiz to hit him. Which he does, often.
~Ortiz round 10-9 (All three official judges score it 10-9 for Ortiz)

Round 6: Berto's corner is urging him to box and stay off the ropes. Berto looks determined to stay off the ropes and hit Ortiz in the middle of the ring which he does with a powerful right hand that sends Ortiz slamming to the canvas. Incredibly he rises at "three", though dazed. Berto swarms a hurt Ortiz and lands a huge right hand. With only seconds left in the round and the referee apparently getting in a position to stop the fight, a right-left-left combo to the head from Ortiz sends Berto tumbling backwards and down! Berto rises very quickly. Early candidate for Round of the Year.
~Even round 10-10 (One official judge scores 10-10, the other two score 10-9 for Berto) 

Round 7: Grueling round with some early holding developing. Berto lands a huge right hand that Ortiz walks through as they trade power shots. Berto having a good round and he does just enough to win it by staying off the ropes and avoiding Ortiz's fight.
~Berto round 10-9 (All three official judges score it 10-9 for Ortiz)

Round 8: Berto is using his boxing skills to outwork Ortiz. Both fighters seem a bit tired. Ortiz is warned again by the referee for hitting behind the head.
~Berto round 10-9 (All three official judges score it 10-9 for Berto)

Round 9: "Be ballsy!" they tell Ortiz between rounds. Pace is slowing down despite some fairly even exchanges. Ortiz warned once again for a shot behind Berto's head. Berto wins the round by controlling the tempo of the round and fighting his fight.
~Berto round 10-9 (Two official judges score 10-9 for Ortiz, one judge scores 10-9 for Berto)

Round 10: "All you have to do is box, it's so simple", they implore Berto between rounds. Another shot behind the head costs Ortiz a point and it's more from Berto selling it than Ortiz doing it flagrantly. Despite the best efforts of Berto to box as instructed, Ortiz takes the round on effective aggression though he loses a point for punching behind the head.
~Ortiz round 10-9 (-1 from Ortiz) (All three official judges score it 10-9 for Ortiz and remove one point from Ortiz for a foul)

Round 11: An aggressive Ortiz gets a tired Berto back where he wants him with Berto's back to the ropes and he punches away with fury like earlier in the fight. Uppercuts are landing through the guard of Berto as Berto again beckons Ortiz in. When Berto tries to box, Ortiz either outboxes him or out punches him. Showcase round for Ortiz. 
~Ortiz round 10-9 (All three official judges score it 10-9 for Ortiz)

Round 12: They are telling Ortiz in his corner that he is far ahead on the cards going into 12th round, by as many as five points. Berto is being told he needs a knockout to win. The fighters actually embrace to start the final round. Berto is getting in some potshots against Ortiz, who seems to fight the last round like he thinks he has the fight won but does not want to be accused of taking the last round off, which he more or less does, giving the round to Berto.
~Berto round 10-9 (Two judges score 10-9 for Berto, one scored 10-9 Ortiz) 

KO Digest final score of the fight was 113-113, a Draw. Without the point deduction, Ortiz wins 114-113. On paper, it was a closer fight than it looked in the ring. Official Scores were 115-110, 114-112, 114-111, unanimous in favor of Ortiz. Several reporters at ringside had it even closer. One particularly well known scribe even had Berto winning by a point. 

As noted, KO Digest scored the fight a draw live at ringside and scored it a draw when watching it again the next day on HBO. After the fight, we specifically asked Ortiz about the scores and whether or not he was certain of a victory after the final bell. Apparently he was, saying, "I was certain of the victory, I didn't know the scores. But in my mind and my heart a fighter always knows if he won or lost or if it was close. I didn't see it as close and I knew I had pulled off a victory."

The defeated Berto said surprisingly little to HBO's Larry Merchant after the fight, "that wasn't me in there - nothing was falling in place, I couldn't let my hands move. He was just the better man tonight." Grim reality. By contrast, the new WBC Welterweight Champion Victor Ortiz was all smiles at the post fight press conference following his impressive victory.

And the NEW!
The new WBC Welterweight Champion was also very gracious and very respectful, even allowing fans and media to handle and pose with his new WBC Welterweight title - "Here we are with the green belt!" - beamed an ecstatic Ortiz, clearly proud of what he had just accomplished in the ring.  Marcos Maidana? "Maidana doesn't have anything on me. I honestly believe Morales beat Maidana and Morales is past his prime. People say I gave up in that fight. I didn't give up. They stopped it on my behalf."

On this night, both in the ring and in his demeanor, Victor Ortiz presented himself to the world as a man in the midst of his own redemption.

"Berto hits hard, but my head is like a rock. Nothing but respect to Andre Berto."


April 23, 2011

The Comeback of Kelly Pavlik


Former Undisputed Middleweight Champion Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik took a break from training on Friday to address the media via international conference call in promotion of his upcoming comeback fight. Pavlik (36-2 w/ 32 KO's) is scheduled to face the undefeated Alfonzo Lopez (21-0 w/ 16 KO's) on the undercard of the the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley Showtime Pay Per View card scheduled for May 7th in Las Vegas.

This fight will be Pavlik's first since losing the Middleweight Championship of the World to Sergio Martinez last year and also his first at super middlweight. Pavlik has made the move to super middleweight because of the difficulty he was having in making the middleweight limit of 160 lbs. Is Pavlik at all concerned about his power carrying up to the super middleweight division? "I see my power at 168 being better than 160." Pavlik also spoke a great deal about the recent out of the ring adversity he has faced in his quest to overcome alcoholism as well as a dangerous staph infection. Pavlik checked himself into the Betty Ford Clinic in California last year and reports that he is now healthy; doing well in recovery as well as in training, "I haven't had this much energy for a fight in a long time. I'm a lot more mature now in all aspects of life. I can see the big picture and I can do things in the gym now that I couldn't do before."

Pavlik understands that he must win his comeback fight if he wants to get back to the big time and fight the big names at super middleweight.

"This is one of the most important fights of my career. I have to win and look good, that's why we're taking it so seriously."

KO Digest asked Kelly Pavlik about his recovery from alcoholism, a potential rematch with Sergio Martinez at super middlweight, and his thoughts on the upcoming Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley fight. 

KO Digest: Hi Kelly, welcome back to boxing and congratulations on your recovery.

Kelly Pavlik: Thank you.

KO Digest: What is your sobriety date? How much clean and sober time do you have?

Kelly Pavlik: November 1st or 2nd of last year.

KO Digest: Any relapses or slips?

Kelly Pavlik: No or I'm sure you guys would have heard about it. No issues with that. No concerns to me right now. That's the least thing on my mind. There's so many more things out there. Everything is going better than it ever has and it would just take a bonehead to go out there and blow any situation or opportunity that I have right now.

KO Digest: Did anything in your previous boxing experience help you or in any way prepare you for rehab, sobriety, and recovery?

Kelly Pavlik: There's a lot that helps, the mental strength to get through things. As far as me, I knew going in - and I gotta be careful how I say this - some people say, well I'm not this or that type of alcoholic. There are no certain types of alcoholics, but in my opinion there are different stages of alcoholism and I think that I treated mine at an early stage. It didn't come to the point of where it was like I couldn't function without alcohol, it just came to a point where I got in that party mode and it just kept escalating. When things didn't go my way, and I got mad, drinking was my way to keep doing what I was doing, and that's exactly what happened. It was good to bite it in the ass before it escalated to a point of where things started going bad, to where I started losing my money, my house, or my family. Unfortunately, that's one of the horrible consequences that comes with addiction. I didn't want it to get that far. I worked so hard in my life to get what I have now and I didn't want it to get out of control to that point.

KO Digest: Did you or have you found any similarities between recovery and boxing, any common ground between those two endeavors?

Kelly Pavlik: Alcohol is the last thing on my mind when I wake up in the morning. It hasn't put an effect on my life like boxing has. Boxing has been my career, my lifeline, my support, food in my kid's mouths, a roof over my head, so boxing is an everyday thing in my life and has been since I was 9 years old. Alcohol isn't. I don't wake up thinking I gotta drink 9 beers before I go do this, to where I wake up now and  say I gotta run 3 miles today. The difference between boxing and the drinking, the one thing I can say, there is no similarity. What I do is just wake up and keep myself busy throughout the day and I go about my business. There's no temptation. Of course once in a great moon, you know like an Ohio State football game, where you say man I wish I could go to the bar with my buddies and have a beer, that's always gonna happen, that's inevitable but as far as thinking about it one time a day, everyday of my life, it's not a concern.

KO Digest: Care to make a prediction on Manny Pacquiao vs Shane Mosley?

Kelly Pavlik: I never make predictions on fights because it's too hard with boxing. It's one of those fights where if Mosley's power and speed is still there at his age, the fight could easily be over if he catches Pacquiao. But overall I think the longer the fight goes, I just think it's totally in Pacquiao's favor; his punch output, his energy level, and plus his hand speed and how he just busts fighters up is unbelievable and I think it will be a late round stoppage for Pacquiao.

KO Digest: Are you officially done at middlweight and if so, are you interested in a rematch with Sergio Martinez at 168?

Kelly Pavlik: Yes. Yes I would and as far as 168, unless you go find somebody to cut a limb off me and I can still perform the way I do now, that's the only way I'll go back to 160. But definitely we are at 168 and that would be a good fight. Of course not in my favor if that ever happens, they would say Martinez is not even a big middlweight, that it's stupid for him, all the bad that will come with that. You know for me, for my own personal sake, I would love it.

April 22, 2011

ESPN Friday Night Fights Star Boxing Results

Story/Photo: Jeffrey Freeman
Breidis Prescott W10 Bayan Jargal (Main Event Junior Welterweights)
~ Prescott (best know for his upset KO of Amir Khan in 2008) controls the opening round by stalking Jargal with his jab and occasional right hand. Two hard left hooks from Prescott late in the round hurt Jargal. More jabs from Prescott to start the second. Prescott is mixing up his shots now and Jargal is doing next to nothing. In the third it is more of the same with Prescott outboxing and out-punching Jargal, who seems to have no answer for Prescott. The fourth looks like the third as Prescott again controls the action with a slick left jab and good movement. In the fifth, Prescott is settling down on his punches and a big right hand shot followed by a left hook again rocks Jargal, who is taking a paint job from Prescott. Big rights and lefts hurt Jargal late in the round as Prescott goes for the finish. Jargal's left eye beginning to swell from flush right hands from Prescott who controls the sixth with his jab and right hands. Prescott has won every round so far.

Big right hand from Prescott opens the seventh as it looks to be more of the same, with Prescott pitching and Jargal catching. Jargal never stops trying but he can't catch the fleet footed Prescott and when he does he can only land one punch at a time. A good even exchange in the corner starts the eighth round but Prescott would rather box than trade shots with Jargal and that's what he does, getting back to the jab and controlling the round with his boxing skills. A relatively uneventful ninth round is controlled again by Prescott's long left jab. Jargal goes for broke in the tenth but eats flush lefts and rights from Prescott for his efforts. Prescott cruises to a unanimous decision, the scores 100-90, 99-90, 99-91 all in favor of Prescott who improves to 24-2 w/ 19 KO's. Jargal falls to 15-2-3 w/ 9 KO's.  

Demetrius Andrade KO 2 Omar Bell (Junior Middleweights)
~ In a junior middlweight co-main event contest, a nice left hook from Demetrius Andrade dispatches the game but overmatching Omar Bell at 1:31 of the second round in the first fight of the night. Andrade improves to 13-0 w/ 9 KO's while Omar Bell falls to 8-2 with 5 KO's.

Kevin Rooney Jr W4 David Navarro (Junior Middleweights)
~ Big left hook from the debuting Kevin Rooney Jr drops David Navarro early in the first for a four count. Crowd favorite Rooney swarms and applies steady pressure through the round but could not finish. A big right from Rooney hurts Navarro in the second before dropping him again late in the round. In the third, another Rooney left hook stuns Navarro. Rooney again applies tremendous pressure but cannot finish his wounded foe who even manages to get in a few good shot of his own. Fighters touch gloves to start the fourth. Rooney is relentless to the heard and body but cannot get a finishing shot through the guard of Navarro who holds on to hear the final bell by covering up, moving around, and only very occasionally punching back. Successful pro debut for the son of legendary trainer Kevin Rooney. Scores were unanimous in favor of Rooney Jr, all three judges scoring it 40-34.


Joe Hanks TKO5 Terrell Nelson (Heavyweights)
~ The over-matched and out of shape Terrell Nelson does not answer the bell for the 5th round against heavyweight prospect Joe Hanks. Hanks, who wears his hair like Lennox Lewis and Shannon Briggs, scored a knockdown in the second round with a huge overhand right and he controlled the whole fight with a jab and powerful right hands. Nelson was never in the contest and by the third and forth rounds he was reduced to clowning and eating punches. Hanks is known as "The Future" but he looks to need seasoning, so maybe that nickname should be "Distant Future." Hanks improves to 16-0 w/ 10 KO's while Nelson falls to 8-12 w/ 5 KO's.

Kevin Cobbs KO1 Nicholas Lavin (Cruiserweights)
~ Successful pro debut for Cobbs as he blows Lavin away in a minute and a half. Time of the KO 1:30 of round one. Cobbs now 1-0 w/ 1 KO while Lavin falls to 2-1 w/ 2 KO's.

April 18, 2011

Current Boxing Ratings

Top 10 Pound For Pound

1. Manny Pacquiao
2. Sergio Martinez
3. Floyd Mayweather
4. Nonito Donaire
5. Juan Manuel Marquez
6. Timothy Bradley
7. Andre Ward
8. Yuriorkis Gamboa
9. Lucian Bute
10. Bernard Hopkins

Championship Vacant

1. Wladimir Klitschko
2. Vitali Klitschko
3. David Haye
4. Tomasz Adamek
5. Alexander Povetkin

Championship Vacant
1. Steve Cunningham
2. Marco Huck
3. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk
4. Troy Ross
5. Danny Green

Champion: Jean Pascal

1. Bernard Hopkins
2. Tavoris Cloud
3. Chad Dawson
4. Glen Johnson
5. Adrian Diaconu

Championship Vacant
1. Andre Ward
2. Lucian Bute
3. Mikkel Kessler
4. Carl Froch
5. Glen Johnson

Champion: Sergio Martinez

1. Felix Sturm
2. Sebastian Sylvester
3. Paul Williams
4. Kelly Pavlik
5. Sebastian Zbik

Championship Vacant
1. Miguel Cotto
2. Kermit Cintron
3. Alfredo Angulo
4. Ryan Rhodes
5. Saul Alvarez

Championship Vacant
1. Manny Pacquiao
2. Floyd Mayweather
3. Victor Ortiz
4. Sugar Shane Mosley
5. Andre Berto

Championship Vacant
1. Timothy Bradley
2. Amir Khan
3. Marcos Maidana
4. Devon Alexander
5. Eric Morales

Champion: Juan Manuel Marquez

1. Brandon Rios
2. Humberto Soto
3. Robert Guerrero
4. Miguel Acosta
5. Michael Katsidis

Championship Vacant
1. Yuriorkis Gamboa
2. Chris John
3. Orlando Salido
4. Juan Manuel Lopez
5. Daniel Ponce De Leon

Champion: Nonito Donaire

1. Anselmo Moreno
2. Abner Mares
3. Fernando Montiel
4. Joseph Agbeko
5. Eric Morel

Period Ending April 17, 2011
~ Compiled by Jeffrey Freeman

April 14, 2011

SHO Bantamweight Tournament Finals


Top rated bantamweights Abner Mares, Joseph "King Kong" Agbeko, Vic Darchinyan, and Yonnhy "Raging Bull" Perez are each looking forward to their upcoming tournament doubleheader, dubbed "Winner Take All", scheduled for April 23rd at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, California. The four fighters took a break from their training on Wednesday to participate in a media conference call to discuss and promote their upcoming fights in the final round of the Showtime bantamweight tournament.

In the final round Main Event, Abner Mares (21-0-1 w/ 13 KO's) faces Joseph Agbeko (28-2 w/ 22 KO's) for the IBF Bantamweight title while Vic Darchinyan (35-3-1 w/ 27 KO's) faces Yonnhy Perez  (20-1-1 w/ 14 KO's) in a consolation fight for the vacant IBO Bantamweight belt.

The undefeated Mares secured his place in the final round of the tournament last December when he defeated Vic Darchinyan by split decision in the tournament semi-finals. Mares' final round opponent, Joseph Agbeko, reached the final round of the tournament by defeating Yonnhy Perez on the same night Mares got his close win over Darchinyan last year. Needless to say, these fighters are all very familiar with eachother.

Mares and Agbeko each hold a victory over Darchinyan. Perez holds a win over Agbeko and he held rising star and good friend Abner Mares to a draw in 2010.

Yonnhy "Raging Bull" Perez sounded confident, "As a former world champion, I have nothing to prove. I am prepared for however Darchinyan comes out, I am prepared for whatever he brings. No matter who wins between us, the promoter wins and the fans win." Perez believes a win over Darchinyan would put him a position to fight the tournament winner, a rematch with either Mares or Agbeko. Perez predicted his friend Abner Mares would emerge victorious over Joseph Agbeko and win the Showtime Bantamweight tournament, "I know how hard he worked. It's his time to taste being a world champion." Perez and Agbeko are no strangers in the ring, the two fighters having traded a pair of recent back to back fights, with King Kong Agbeko winning their last contest by unanimous decision, and thereby advancing to the tournament finals to face Mares.

Vic Darchinyan vowed to knock out his opponent, "After my last fight against Mares where the referee took me out of my game, I'm changing my style again to knock out everyone in front of me. I'm coming to destroy Yonnhy Perez. Boxing is about fighting, and I am coming to knock him out from the first round on. You will all see how powerful I am now at bantamweight." Asked to predict who he thinks will win the Main Event fight between Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko, a somewhat agitated Vic Darchinyan said, "I don't care, I just want to fight the winner."

Ghana  native King Kong Agbeko also predicted victory, "my fight against Abner Mares is going to be be like Azumah Nelson and Jeff Fenech when they fought the second time in Australia."

That is certainly a very interesting prediction, one which could easily be interpreted as being Agbeko's way of saying he plans to not only beat Mares but annihilate him in front of his own fans. Boxing fans will of course recall the thorough beating that Ghanaian icon Azumah Nelson gave to Australian native Jeff Fenech in their 1992 rematch in front of Fenech's home crowd. Nelson dominated Fenech, stopping him in eight rounds in a fight that some say ruined Fenech as an elite fighter. It was a very satisfying victory for Nelson and his countryman Agbeko seems after a similar gratification at the expense of the young Abner Mares.   

Sounding confident, rising star Abner Mares even made a few predictions of his own. When asked to pick a winner in the Darchinyan-Perez consolation fight, the young Abner paused. It is well know that Mares and Perez are friends, despite the fact that they have squared off in the ring.

"You know what, I have no comment on that fight."

Really Abner? No comment?

"I just think it's gonna be a great fight because of their styles. Yonnhy's a guy that's there to be hit, he's forward. He doesn't like to back up. He is always moving forward and Darchinyan likes that. It plays both ways. If Darchinyan lands that left hand that he likes to land, right on the chin, I think Yonnhy might go down. Or it could come down to Yonnhy being stronger and Darchinyan not being able to take his pressure. It goes both ways so I don't have a winner there."

Andre Berto vs Victor Ortiz?

"Another tough fight to predict. Tough fight for both of them. I have no winner."

Manny Pacquiao vs Shane Mosley, have a winner on that one Abner?

"I like Pacquiao but I give Mosley a chance, so I go for Mosley on this one."

How about Abner Mares vs Joseph Agbeko?

"I have the advantage fighting here at home but I've never faced a fighter like Agbeko, he is a complete fighter, a warrior. He throws a lot of punches. He can box, he can brawl, he can do whatever he wants to do in the ring. It comes down to whatever style he brings, we'll just have to work with that and adapt to that style. This is a second chance for me to win a world title and I have to take advantage of that. I think it's going to be an exciting fight, and I like to give exciting fights."

April 10, 2011

Heroes in Action: Weekend Results

Marcos Maidana W12 Eric Morales (WBA interim Jr Welterweight title)
~ Closer, better, and more competitive than ANYONE thought it would be. Morales valiant in defeat. How close?  So close that some people thought Morales did enough to win the fight. One judge scored the fight a draw, the other two judges scoring for Maidana by four points. How competitive? So competitive that some people are calling it an early "Fight of the Year" candidate. An effort like this from Morales proves once again that great fighters almost always have that one last great performance still in them when nobody expects it. Hear that Manny?

Morales V. Maidana

Robert Guerrero W12 Michael Katsidis (WBA/WBO interim Lightweight titles)
~Guerrero cruises, outboxing and outfighting Katsidis in a great fight, and moves up the lightweight rankings. Let's hope Guerrero sticks around at lightweight for at least a little while longer and gets a chance against the truly elite fighters in the division.

Tomasz Adamek W12 Kevin McBride (Heavyweights)
~McBride loses nearly every round but finishes the fight on his feet. Unable to hurt/finish McBride or Michael Grant, you have to question Adamek's wisdom in going after either Klitschko. Vitali next for Adamek? He should go after Haye instead. Retirement next for McBride?

Nobuhiro Ishida KO1 James Kirkland (Middleweights)
~Kirkland knocked down three times in an upset loss to relatively unknown opponent. Some are saying Kirkland's chin was exposed but it was more a case of his defense getting exposed, he looked very easy to hit, but very willing and able to keep getting up from knockdowns.

April 8, 2011

Q&A with Bob Arum and Juan Manuel Lopez

During a media conference call on Friday April 8th to promote the upcoming Juan Manuel Lopez-Orlando Salido featherweight championship fight, I had the opportunity to speak with legendary boxing promoter Bob Arum and WBO Featherweight Champion Juan Manuel Lopez as he prepares to defend his WBO title against the Mexican challenger Orlando Salido (34-11-2 w/ 22KOs). The Lopez-Salido fight is scheduled for April 16th in Puerto Rico, and will air live on Showtime.

Not surprisingly, there was more media focus on a potential Juan Manuel Lopez-Yuriorkis Gamboa fight than on the actual Lopez-Salido fight itself.

Juan Manuel Lopez (30-0 w/ 27 KOs) was all business during the call and seemed focused on the fight at hand against Salido, apparently not wishing to make comparisons to past performances between he and Gamboa, saying, "It's not important. I certainly want to look good and do as good as I can against Salido but I don't want to compare myself to Gamboa, and what I'm going to do." Lopez stated he is ready for the fight against Salido, he indicated that he had a good training camp, and according to Lopez, he weighed in at 130 pounds at the seven day weigh-in and he expects no weight related issues.

Promoter Bob Arum challenged the premium cable channels (Showtime and HBO presumably) to "show me the money" in reference to making a Lopez-Gamboa dream fight which everybody seems to want made sooner rather than later. Arum stressed how he as the promoter takes all the risk in potentially making a Lopez-Gamboa PPV fight before it's time. "It's gonna be my money, and only when I can recover my money and make a profit will the fight be made on Pay Per View." It was apparent that Arum feels the fight is simply not yet ready to make the kind of big money on PPV that both he and the fighters involved would expect, "I will decide when it's opportune to do the fight." 

And so the waiting game continues.

What follows is my Q&A with Juan Manuel Lopez and Bob Arum:

Jeffrey Freeman w/ KnockoutDigest: Mr Lopez, Bob Arum was talking earlier a little bit about boxing in Puerto Rico, and obviously Puerto Rico has a very rich boxing history, with so many great Puerto Rican fighters. JuanMa, who was your favorite Puerto Rican fighter growing up and is it important to you to be considered among the best fighters ever from Puerto Rico?

Juan Manuel Lopez:
I know the great tradition there is in Puerto Rico with boxing. I am very proud to be a part of that tradition and without a doubt you know, growing up, my idol was and still is, Felix Trinidad.


KnockoutDigest.com: Bob, congratulations on 45 years in professional boxing, obviously you have been involved in the sport of boxing for a very long time. Comparing the sport of today to how it's been in the past, what are some of the biggest differences from your point of view?

Bob Arum: Well, you have to understand, when I first started in the sport back in the mid 60's, there were no satellites, no international satellites, no domestic satellites so the communication was, you would look at it as like being in the dark ages. When we did a closed circuit fight we had to use telephone company long lines. It was a whole different business model because of how limited in retrospect, we were in communications. Now we have all the satellites, we have Pay Per View, we have stuff that nobody even contemplated 45 years ago, and in the next 10 or 15 years people will be buying a PPV fight on their iPad. And not only buying it on their iPad but electing which corner to watch between rounds, which camera angle to watch a fight from. Everything changes and yet everything stays the same. Ultimately it's two guys in the ring facing off against eachother.

KnockoutDigest.com: Do you see any similarities between the first Leonard-Hearns fight and potential fight between Gamboa and Lopez?

Bob Arum: Well you know everybody likes that comparison because the first Leonard-Hearns fight was such a momentous event with such anticipation over the years as Leonard and Hearns fought other people and were both undefeated so yes, if this could be at even 50% of the excitement which we went into the Leonard-Hearns fight with, I would be very gratified.

KnockoutDigest.com: Has your opinion of Mixed Martial Arts changed at all? I know you've been critical of it in the past.

Bob Arum: Understand, it's not my cup of tea. For me, its unwatchable. I understand that I am of a certain age where I wouldn't be receptive to it. The people at UFC, they are very good friends of mine and they come from the same town, Las Vegas. They're outstanding people, the Fertitta brothers, Dana White, and they do a great job promoting their sport, but it's not my sport and I don't particularly like it. I don't like it. Period. That doesn't mean that other people shouldn't like it.

April 1, 2011

Andre Berto vs Victor Ortiz Media Conference Call


UNDEFEATED WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto (27-0, 21 KOs) and challenger Victor Ortiz (28-2-1 22 KOs) took a break from their training on Thursday to discuss via conference call their upcoming title fight, dubbed the East-West Showdown by promoter Lou DiBella. Berto and Ortiz are scheduled to clash on April 16th at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods, CT, and the fight will air on HBO. At stake is the WBC welterweight championship, currently held by the undefeated Andre Berto. Victor Ortiz, coming off a disputed draw against Lamont Peterson, has only one legitimate loss on his record, that loss coming against the tough Argentinian Marcos Maidana nearly two years ago in a fight that some critics contend Ortiz quit when the going got too tough. Andre Berto is coming into this fight having made five successful defenses of his WBC title, most recently knocking out Freddy Hernandez in one round.  

Ortiz was generally brief and to the point, "I know where I'm going. I know what I want. I must be champion. I will win this fight. It's time for me to be outstanding. I just want my belt. Period. End of story." During the media conference call, Ortiz and his people seemed frustrated with questions about his past struggles in the ring, particularly the draw against Lamont Peterson, Ortiz calling it "total BS" but when asked about Marcos Maidana, the only man to truly beat him in the ring, things got a little more interesting.

Jeffrey Freeman w/ KnockoutDigest.com, "Victor, if you get past Andre Berto, does a rematch with Marcos Maidana interest you? Is that something important to you professionally; avenging defeats?"

Victor Ortiz, "He's running left and right, dodging me like no other. I think he even sees me in his nightmares maybe. As far as that goes, I think when he gets the courage to actually come out of his little closet, he can meet me at 147."

We asked Ortiz what he thought about the Ring Magazine Welterweight Championship, which is currently vacant.

Jeffrey Freeman w/ KnockoutDigest.com "Victor, you were talking a little bit about the WBC belt, winning the welterweight belt, you referred it as your belt. I was wondering what the Ring Magazine Championship belt means to you. Would you consider yourself to be the Welterweight Champion before winning that?"

Victor Ortiz, "I'm gonna be crowned no matter what. I've pad my dues. I'm ready. I'm beyond ready. It's one of those things where they are finally giving me a shot, so it's my turn."

Jeffrey Freeman w/ KnockoutDigest.com, "Specifically Victor, is winning the recognition of Ring Magazine as the Welterweight Champion, is that important to you?"

Victor Ortiz, "It definitely is. It's of definite importance to me. I have always shot to be the greatest in the world and that would hit the spot."

Following comments by Victor Ortiz, Andre Berto joined the conference call. The WBC welterweight champion stressed the simple importance of winning this fight, not necessarily looking spectacular in doing so, referencing Sergio Martinez and Nonito Donaire as examples of fighters who recently got a lot of attention and accolades more for how they won their fights than for actually winning them. "The only thing that matters is coming up with that win." 

Berto talked about how one loss can negatively affect an up and coming boxing career, referring to Ortiz.

"When Ortiz lost to Maidana, people turned their backs on him so quickly. You gotta have balls to step in that ring. The ring is a cold place to find out the truth."

Considering that Ortiz is a left-handed fighter, we asked Andre Berto about Luis Collazo, a clever southpaw fighter who Berto beat in a close fight in early 2009.

Jeffrey Freeman w/ KnockoutDigest.com, "Andre, I know you are focused on the upcoming fight with Victor Ortiz but thinking back to the Luis Collazo fight, what makes Collazo so difficult to fight? You struggled with him a bit as did Ricky Hatton. Was it his southpaw style?"

Andre Berto, "Luis Collazo is a tough veteran but on my end I wasn't in shape like I was supposed to be in shape. That was a mistake I made. A lot of other young fighters on rise, they tend to not take a fight as seriously as they are supposed to, and I almost paid for it, so I was pretty much scared straight from that point on. So I stayed focused by staying in the gym and working hard. I think I made the fight with Luis Collazo a little difficult on my own. But he is a tough fighter and I give him all the credit in the world."  

"I've grown up in front of the world on HBO."  


Berto will be in top shape for this fight and free from distractions.

Ortiz will be ready to answer his critics and prove his fighting heart.

That said, this should be a very good entertaining fight.

Both fighters have pleasing styles, and the feeling here is that when their styles collide on April 16th, the result will be a very fan friendly, close fight.

Andre Berto W12 Victor Ortiz

An early knockdown by Berto proves to be the difference on the score cards as Berto wins by close but unanimous decision.