December 20, 2012

KO Digest Ringside Report - Rosinsky & Bracero win at the Roseland

Will "Power" Rosinsky pounds Griffin for the W
NEW YORK, N.Y. - In the sixth and final installment of Broadway Boxing this year, promoter Lou DiBella treated fight fans on Wednesday night to an action packed fight card dedicated to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. In the main event, Will Rosinsky and Otis Griffin created some hazardous conditions of their own, in an action packed light heavyweight battle scheduled for ten rounds. At stake was a regional title called the New York State championship.

Griffin 24-11-2 (10KO's) entered the ring first, and made the sign of the cross at each ring post. Rosinsky entered shortly after, and appeared calm during the instructions. Rosinsky 17-2(9KO's) was all business at the bell however, as he went straight on the attack firing the jab to the head and body, before digging the left hook to the body. Griffin focused on shooting sneaky lead left hooks to the head. In the second, Rosinsky attacked the body some more before going upstairs. Griffin landed a few hard uppercuts, and may have stolen the round with a big left hook, and a right hand at the bell. Chants of "Let's go Willie!" could be heard through the building, and the crowd favorite seemed to respond as he came forward behind power shots.

By the end of the fourth, Rosinsky showed some swelling around the left eye. After a closely contested fifth round, the fighter from Queens N.Y. changed the pattern of the fight, as he bounced on his toes, and relied on the jab and the left hook. He landed a right hand, and Griffin shook his head, as if to say "no, you didn't hurt me." Rosinsky tried another sneaky right at the bell. In the seventh, Will came down off his toes to get more leverage on the left hook. For the remaining three rounds, Griffin, perhaps by design, came to life, and it was bombs away, as he landed well with left hooks and right hands. Both men showed the wear and tear of battle in a very close ninth round, and in the tenth and final round, Griffin advanced behind the jab, and the right hand. He managed to pin his man on the ropes for a good stretch of the round and hooked to the head and body. Rosinsky tried to catch him with shots in between. Finally back at ring center, they let their hands go. Both fighters raised their glove in victory at the bell. Rosinsky was declared the winner by scores of 97-93 and 96-94(twice). KO Digest scored the fight 96-94 for Rosinsky.

Tito shows some pop - wins by knockout!
In the co feature, junior welterweight Gabriel "Tito" Bracero took on Johnnie Edwards in a scheduled eight round bout, and was determined to impress, as he dedicated the fight to the late Hector "Macho" Camacho. He entered the ring wearing trunks that would have made the fallen Puerto Rican fighter proud. He even had "Macho" printed across the waistband. Right at the bell, Bracero 21-1(4KO's) made an effort to have his presence felt, as he snapped a hard jab and a left hook to the head.

Edwards 15-6-1(8KO's) responded with a left hand of his own to the body, and a right hand to the head. Chants of "Tito" filled the arena throughout the contest. A hard left hand dumped Edwards into the bottom ropes near the end of the round, and the referee correctly rules it a knockdown. Things got kind of rough on the inside, and the referee warned Bracero for shoving on a few occasions. Bracero was very effective with the counter right hand and the left hook. He did receive a cut on his left eye in the third, but that all  became irrelevant in the fourth when Edwards paid for lunging with the left hook, and was drilled by Bracero with a right hand that snapped Edward's heads back violently. During an exchange against the ropes, Bracero landed an uppercut, and Edwards suddenly took a knee, and frantically blinking, and pointed to his eye. Unable to continue, the referee stopped the fight. Bracero was declared the winner by TKO at 2:48 of the fourth round.

Redach stays unbeaten
Ivan Redkach UD8 Edward Valdez (lightweights) - Southpaw Redkach 13-0(11KO's) was taken the distance against a tough Edward Valdez, in a battle that saw two warriors trade some heavy shots. At the end of the day, it was the left hand to the body that paid dividends for Redkach, as he slowly sucked the life out of his opponent. Valdez 11-9-2(8KO's) did land some good right hands, and a few left hooks throughout the bout, but by the mid rounds, Ivan had his opponent backing up, thanks to some wicked hooks and uppercuts that drew ooh's and aah's from the crowd. The swollen eyed Valdez was never humbled however, and managed to hear the final bell. Redkach won by scores of 79-73 and 78-74(twice).

Ion is on the mark against Gonzalez
Ionut Dan Ion KO5 Franklin Gonzalez (junior middleweights) - This bout featured two southpaws with contrasting styles. Ion 30-2(16KO's) relied on a solid jab to come forward and fire the straight left hand, while Gonzalez 15-12(10KO's) would retreat, and wing the left hand, and an occasional right hook. The pattern continued into the fourth round, until some hard body shots and a few well placed uppercuts by Ion put Gonzalez in trouble. Early in the fifth, a bolo left hand to the body dropped him to his knees near the ropes, and the referee decided he saw enough. Time of stoppage was :11 seconds into round five.

Mikkel Lespierre D4 Cornelius Whitlock (junior welterweights) - Poor Whitlock! In his professional debut, he managed to score two knockdowns in the third round, pick up three points, and still managed to not win a four round fight! Lespierre 1-0-2(1KO) started well in the first two rounds with shots to the head and body, and was well on his way to an easy win, when in the third,Whitlock dropped him twice, first with the left hook, and shortly after, a counter right hand. Incredibly, Whitlock fought in retreat the fourth round, as if sitting on a lead, while Lespierre advanced behind the jab. A groan came from the crowd as all three judges scored the bout 37-37.

Shutout win for Peterkin
Travis Peterkin UD4 Eddie Tigs (light heavyweights) - In this scheduled four round fight, southpaw Peterkin 6-0(3KO's) dictated the pattern of the fight, by using an up-jab, followed by left hands to the body and head. Behind on points, Tigs 1-5-2(0KO's) became more aggressive in the third, but was knocked down by a straight left to the head.

The win was a formality for Peterkin, as all three judges scored the bout 40-35.

Akima Stocks UD4 Marva Dash (female junior middleweights) - Southpaw Stocks 5-0(3KO's) used a double jab and a straight left hand to keep Dash at bay. She also used the left hand to the body as well as the head. Dash 0-2(0KO's) spent too much on the retreat, and threw one punch at a time, before tying up her opponent. All three judges scored the bout in favor of Stocks with identical scores of 40-36.

Jarrell Miller TKO2 Tyrone Gibson (heavyweights) - In this scheduled four rounder, Miller 4-0(4KO's) relied on a stiff jab and a solid left hook to the head to get Gibson in trouble early in the bout. Gibson 1-4(1KO) did land a left to the body, but a straight right hand in the second round bounced Gibson into the ropes, and he didn't appear to know where he was, and the referee stopped the bout after Miller threw a flurry of punches on the defenseless Gibson. The end came at 1:25 of the round.

Danny Calzada UD6 Allan Benitez (junior lightweights) - Both fighters appeared to be more comfortable in the role of counterpuncher, but Calzada's decision to take the lead probably won the fight for him. Benitez 7-2(1KO) fell behind early, and even though he tried to turn things around with the counter left hook, he just wasn't busy enough. Calzada 5-6-2(1KO) made sure to keep his opponent on the retreat for most of the bout. The judges scored the fight 60-54 and 59-55(twice).

Maurice Hooker UD4 Cameron Kreal (junior welterweights) - Hooker made it look easy, as he dictated the pace of the fight with a crisp jab, and the right hand to the body and head. A straight right hand dropped Kreal in the second, and although he did better in the third with an occasional left to the body, Hooker regained control in the fourth with the jab and right to the body, followed by the left hook. The judges scored the fight easily for Hooker by the scores of 39-35 and 40-34 (twice).

Ringside Report by David McLeod, exclusively for KO Digest
Photos by DiBella Entertainment/Ed Diller 

December 15, 2012

KO Digest Spotlight On Boxing's Up and Comers - Keith Thurman

"One Time" Keith Thurman is 19-0 with 18 KOs
By Terry Strawson - Undefeated prospect Keith Thurman was born on November 23rd 1988 in Clearwater, Florida. His early career, which included six National Championships and a Silver Medal at the US Olympic Trials in 2008, was guided by the late Benjamin Getty. More recently, with the same success, he has operated under the watchful eye of Dan Birmingham.

Known as "One Time" - he is a Knockout Artist. 

Thurman's attacks, although ferocious and thrown with bad intentions, are controlled and calculated. His aggression is effective. Operating behind a jab that is deployed as more of a range-finder than a weapon, Thurman stalks his opponents like a predator does prey. His straight right is thrown sharp and at times he whips overhand rights and lefts viciously in an attempt to leave opponents motionless. Crippling hooks, which have resulted in many victims wincing and writhing in pain, are further cause for concern. 

His win over Carlos Quintana, at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA which preceded, and was slightly overshadowed, by the Robert Guerrero and Andre Berto fight, was his most impressive performance to date. It was viewed, due to the pedigree of Quintana, as a big test for Thurman.
A real fight.
Thurman, as is customary for him, started strong. Quintana (29-4 w/ 23KOs) began with caution, almost fearful it seemed. "He looked a little concerned. With me being an undefeated fighter, with all those knockouts, he probably started second guessing signing the fight agreement."

Quintana, who holds a victory over a then unbeaten Paul "The Punisher" Williams, was coming into the ring on the back of an impressive sixth round stoppage of Deandre Latimore last May. He posed a legitimate threat to Thurman.
Or should have.

Quintana crumbles - Thurman wins on HBO
The fight, which saw the 24 year old Thurman drop his 36 year old counterpart with a thoughtful and well-placed body shot in the opening stanza, did not last too long. After a barrage of well timed and unanswered blows, referee Jack Reiss was forced to call a halt to the bout at 2:19 of the 4th round. The victory, his second on HBO this year following his TKO win over Orlando Lora, capped what has been a fine year for Thurman.
"2012 was a real fantastic year," Thurman explained. "We were able to pull off four fights, four KO victories and, you know, the two appearances on HBO. I just think it's been perfect."
It's just the beginning.
The assignments that await in 2013 are only going to grow tougher and the pressure and expectations will continue to rise as Thurman progresses through the ranks of a welterweight division littered with talented fighters. Thurman seems ready though. And when quizzed on who he would like to get his hands on specifically, he leaves no doubt telling KO Digest, "I wanna slap Paulie up!"
"I definitely want that fight right there," Thurman continued, calling out the current WBA welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi. Thurman also spoke about a desire to face Marcos Maidana in a bout that was scheduled once, and later cancelled, earlier this year. He touched on aspirations of working his way towards WBO welterweight kingpin Timothy Bradley in the not too distant future. And, although Thurman is comfortable at welterweight, we should not rule out the possibilities at junior middleweight. "Where I am at in my career I am ready to make moves, ready to get my foot in the door, whether that be at 147 or 154 lbs."

Thurman under the watchful eye of Dan Birmingham (L)
Keith Thurman is a dangerous man. Those in the upper regions of the welterweight division should be very wary of his presence. Is he the finished article? No. Can his power change a fight at any moment? Yes. And that, although he's a very capable boxer otherwise, is where the worry from the likes of Malignaggi and company stems from.

After his victory over Quintana, when called upon by Max Kellerman to rate his performance, Thurman awarded himself a B+. During our conversation last week I asked Thurman what had been missing, or what he felt he could of done better.

"Well, for the most part. I pretty much felt like I did everything that I needed to do to win that fight"

And this quote, regarding that particular fight, resonates with his career as a whole so far. Thurman will certainly face bigger challenges in 2013 but there is reason to believe the best is yet to come from Keith 'One Time' Thurman.

Overall Rating: B+

Written by Terry Strawson - exclusively for KO Digest 

November 30, 2012

The Pride is Back - Manfredo Jr wins - CES results from Twin River

Successful comeback for the Pride of Providence
LINCOLN, RI -- The number one rule of any boxing comeback is to always pick an opponent you can beat. Ricky Hatton learned this lesson the hard way last weekend in Manchester, England against Vyacheslav Senchenko - falling in nine rounds before re-retiring in tears.

That is not a mistake "The Pride of Providence" Peter Manfredo Jr (38-7 w/ 20KOs) wanted to make and by choosing trial horse Rayco "War" Saunders (22-19-1 w/ 9KOs) as his comeback opponent, he set himself up nicely for a successful return in front of loyal hometown fans at a packed Twin River Casino ballroom just a few miles from his hometown of Providence.   

Fighting for the first time since being stopped by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr last November in a bid for the WBC middleweight title, Peter Manfredo Jr stepped into a CES boxing ring last night safe in the knowledge that his opponent would offer little more than a good chin and a chance for Manfredo to get in some much needed rounds.

Rounds is exactly what the 32 year old Manfredo got - all ten of them.

Using a jab, right hand, and a follow-up left to the body, Manfredo Jr outboxed and outfought Saunders, who offered only minimal resistance. Maybe Hatton should have fought Saunders, he might have won and spared us the sad the sight of seeing him cry in the ring. Saunders had his one and only moment in the 5th, buzzing Manfredo with a right hand or two over the top but by round's end, Manfredo was back in control. With whatever drama the 38 year old Saunders planned to bring now spent, Manfredo continued his attack in the second half of the fight controlling Saunders with the jab, right hand, left to the body, and the occasional uppercut. Punch, push Saunders back, reset. Punch, push Saunders back - you get the picture.

It was all more than enough for Manfredo to earn a unanimous decision and make a triumphant return to the ring in spite of protestations from his father Peter Manfredo Sr. Scoring was a formality. Saunders won one round on one judge's card. Said the smiling winner afterwards, "Tonight I felt good after the longest layoff I've ever had. I do this for my family. Freddie Roach and his gym did a great job with me for seven weeks and I showed it tonight. This is the first step back."

On the undercard:

Gardner wins against Amparo
Joey Gardner W6 Alex Amparo (super middleweights) - Woonsocket, RI's Joey Gardner and Providence, RI's Alex Amparo put on a entertaining six round contest that looked very much up for grabs going into the final round. Relaxing in the ring and fighting smart proved to be the difference for Gardner as he stayed busy and won behind his jab and straight right hand by unanimous scores of 59-55, 58-56, and 58-56. Gardner goes to 10-5-1 w/ 1KO while Amparo loses his first fight as a pro and falls to 5-1 w/ 3KOs.  

Tylon Burris TKO2 Kevin Cobbs (light heavyweights) - After an even worse start than in his last fight, house fighter Kevin Cobbs was defeated by Hartford, CT's Tylon Burris. Hurt by a body shot early in the opening round, Cobbs was dropped by a straight right later in the first and in the second round, he was finished off by the hyper aggressive and speedy Burris. After eating a pair of right hooks, Cobbs found himself helpless on the ropes and taking a beating when the ref jumped in to save him. Cobbs falls to 6-1 w/ 2KOs while Burris improves to 4-0 w/ 3KOs. Time was 1:19.

Shelito digs in against Rosie

Shelito Vincent W6 Rosie Thomas (female bantamweights) - Fighting for the first time against a determined opponent trying to win, the popular Shelito Vincent answered her first test as a pro, pounding out a unanimous decision over the game but ultimately outgunned Rosie Thomas. Vincent got hit a bit but she didn't let it slow her down or keep her from punching back. Fighting out of Providence RI, Vincent improves to 6-0 while the Ottawa, Canada native Rosie Thomas drops to 2-1. Scores in favor of Vincent: 60-54, 60-54, and 59-55.

Another scary CES mismatch

Zack Ramsey KO1 Michael Lambert (welterweights) - Springfield, MA's Zack Ramsey is a good young prospect. Tonight he made ridiculously short work of the hopelessly overmatched Michael Lambert (0-1 from Mobile, Alabama) knocking him down twice in the first round while the crowd literally laughed at how easily Lambert was dispatched. Ramsey goes to 3-0 w/ 3KOs. Time was 1:15 of the opening round.

KO Digest Ringside Report - Twin River, RI (11/29/12)
Images & Words by Jeffrey Freeman

November 25, 2012

Does Arturo Gatti Belong in the International Boxing Hall of Fame?

Gatti to the IBHOF in 2013?
By Jeffrey Freeman -- Arturo Gatti has been dead for more than three years and his final fight was over five years ago. The question must be asked and seriously considered. Does Arturo "Thunder" Gatti belong in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY?

As one of the most spectacularly exciting fighters of all time, Gatti's ring exploits truly are the stuff of legend. Miraculous comebacks, a slew of epic ring wars, pulling long-lost fights out of thin air with one punch knockouts, and of course nobody will ever forget his three fights with Micky Ward, a trilogy which in and of itself earned two Ring Magazine "Fight of the Year" awards and produced arguably the greatest round in the history of boxing, the epic 9th round of their first fight in 2002.

But is all that enough for Gatti to overcome his Hall of Fame shortcomings - he lost nine fights despite winning forty, he never beat a truly great fighter, and what about the perception that Gatti possessed at best, average boxing skills? Let's take a closer look.

Throwback Fighter
Some will argue that Gatti was not a "great" fighter by strict definition and that he was in fact very average in his skills. Critics will argue that the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) is reserved for boxing's very best and I agree with this but I also believe that Gatti did display greatness in the ring, just not the type we're used to seeing such as dazzling displays of boxing skill, lengthy undefeated streaks, or perhaps most importantly - defeating other "great" fighters. Gatti's greatness must be measured and recognized in a totally different way. Think about it like this: Great fighters engage in consistently great fights, and it's not always about how much pure talent a boxer has or how technically skilled he is or even how many titles he's won. Sometimes it's just about what happens in that ring when the gloves fly and how much a fighter is willing to give of himself.

Very few ever gave more of themselves in a boxing ring than Arturo Gatti. Check out his fights against Wilson Rodriguez, Gabriel Ruelas, Ivan Robinson, and Micky Ward if there is any doubt about this. Gatti's "boxing skills", limited though they may have been, were more than simply the sum of his talents and easily recognizable accomplishments.

If you only consider Gatti's Hall of Fame worthiness in terms of basic boxing elements like defense and other fundamentals, or the number of world titles he won (for the record, two), or the quality of opposition in his biggest wins, maybe you would say he doesn't deserve to be inducted and you would have a reasonable argument shared by many but if you look at how Gatti fought (as the ultimate blood & guts warrior of his era), and consider how many epic ring wars and "Fight of the Year" quality fights he was involved in, well then maybe you would say he does, and you too would have a reasonable argument shared by many.

Gatti battles Oscar De La Hoya
There will be those who say that Arturo Gatti never beat a great fighter and that the two best fighters he ever fought, Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, beat him easily. That may be partly true but despite never beating a truly great fighter, Gatti really did beat some very outstanding fighters during his career. He defeated Tracy Harris Patterson (twice), Calvin Grove, Gabriel Ruelas, Jesse James Leija, Terron Millett, Micky Ward (twice), as well as Gianluca Branco, Leonard Dorin, and Thomas Damgaard; all three of whom were undefeated until they ran into Gatti. And even though Mayweather made beating Gatti look easy - something he does to most everyone he fights - go ask De La Hoya how "easy" it really was to beat Gatti. It wasn't, despite how it may have looked. By rising from a crushing knockdown in the first round to continue fighting against an opponent he was so clearly overmatched and outgunned by, Arturo showed more in defeat against Oscar than most fighters show in victory. That was the essence of Arturo Gatti and his do-or-die approach to the sport he loved.

Only a select few in boxing history can even be compared to Arturo Gatti in terms of that do-or-die approach: Rocky Graziano, Matthew Saad Muhammad, and Bobby Chacon - all three of these warriors are in the IBHOF, right where they belong. Gatti was also incredibly famous and very popular for a lighter weight fighter who fought during the era of superstars like Tyson & Holyfield. With his thrilling throwback style, Gatti single-handedly put Atlantic City back on the map as a hub for big time boxing at a time in the 1990's when Atlantic City desperately needed it. That had to do with how Gatti fought, not who he beat, or who beat him. Win or lose, Gatti's indomitable fighting spirit was one of a kind and people around the world took notice of it. The big question is, will the International Boxing Hall of Fame voters take notice and induct the man known as the Human Highlight Reel into boxing immortality? The feeling here is that they will, and that when they do, it will be justified based on merit, and not based on sympathy or diminished standards as some might claim when and if it happens.

Yet despite all of this, some will still argue that Gatti just did not have enough "skill" or "ability" to be considered for a place among boxing's immortals. Frankly, that is a very shortsighted way of looking at it, and it does not do justice to what Gatti contributed to the sport and what he accomplished in the ring. More than just fundamentals; the category of boxing "skills and abilities" also includes intangibles like heart, the ability to take a punch, the ability to rise from knockdowns, the ability to fight though pain & injury, and the ability to somehow win fights when normal men would have long ago packed it in. Arturo Gatti was anything but a normal man and all of the above are skills that he possessed in epic quantities. His fighting heart was truly legendary and some would say in a class all by itself. Ultimately, isn't that what we expect from "great" fighters?

Reborn & Eternal at IBHOF?
I contend that Arturo Gatti clearly belongs in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and I believe that his premature death actually increases the likelihood of his induction, which is not to say that if he were alive today he wouldn't deserve it.

There is something transcendent about dying young and what that loss adds to any great athlete's legacy. It tends to enhance it, particularly when that death is as mysterious and tragic as was Gatti's at the age of 37.

Yes, of course Arturo "Thunder" Gatti belongs in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

He was the real life ROCKY and there may never be another fighter like him.

Written by KO Digest creator Jeffrey Freeman, this article was originally published in the March 2012 edition of Beyond the Badge newspaper and has previously appeared online on this website and in various other sites and forums. Please feel free to share this link in support of Thunder. Rest in Peace Arturo Gatti - 1972-2009.

UPDATE (12/10/12) - Arturo "Thunder" Gatti has been voted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on the first ballot! Gatti's induction will take place on June 9th, 2013 at the IBHOF in Canastota, NY where boxing's ultimate blood and guts WARRIOR will be REBORN and made IMMORTAL.

Well deserved HONOR!

November 22, 2012

Berto & Guerrero Ready For Thanksgiving Weekend Face Off

Andre Berto and Robert Guerrero
By Gopal Rao - With a little more than 18 months having passed since his 2011 Fight Of The Year loss to Victor Ortiz, Andre Berto is ready to put the past behind him and get back on track towards what once seemed like a limitless future in boxing.

That loss, coupled with a positive drug test in the lead up to an aborted rematch with Ortiz, saw Berto’s stock fall precipitously in the past 12 months, despite a comeback win over Jan Zavek for an alphabet title.

“It was definitely a tough situation but my team really didn’t worry too much,” said Berto via media conference call, about the fallout from testing positive for a banned substance. “We know we didn’t do anything wrong. We hired top level scientists and attorneys to go check the sample and find out what it was. And they found out what it was. It was contamination of very very very small traces. The results were presented to the commission and it was cleared up, and we moved forward.”

Standing in Berto’s path toward redemption, however, is the erstwhile featherweight and reigning interim welterweight title-holder Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, whom Berto is scheduled to face for the WBC world welterweight title in Ontario, California on Saturday, November 24th - to be televised by HBO.

The Ghost passed a big 147 lb test against Aydin
Guerrero, who hails from Gilroy, California, recently won the WBC’s interim title with a unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Selcuk Aydin in San Jose. It was a comeback for Guerrero as well, who had been sidelined for over a year with a rotator cuff injury that caused a hotly anticipated fight against Argentine slugger Marcos Maidana to be cancelled.

The fight answered questions about the soundness of the southpaw Guerrero’s surgically repaired left shoulder, but raised a few more concerning just how well Guerrero carried the weight at the 147 pound limit, two divisions up from his previous fight at lightweight.

For although Guerrero won the fight convincingly behind superior boxing technique and work rate, he never appeared to have Aydin in any serious trouble throughout those 12 rounds, despite Aydin’s defensively limited, aggressive style, which caused Berto, who witnessed the fight from ringside, to compare the German-based Turk to a punching bag. “Aydin did take some punches, but he wasn’t a punching bag as much as a punching wall. He’s a tough guy, coming in strong, and he was determined to win,” said Guerrero.

The fight with Aydin has reaffirmed Guerrero’s confidence in his ability to continue to climb in the welterweight rankings, and also possibly in weight in the future. “If I didn’t have confidence in myself I wouldn’t even move to 147 but it does reassure you though. You have a tough guy like Aydin, who’s a hard puncher with both hands. Wherever he hits you, it’s gonna hurt. One thing everybody knows now is that I can take a shot in that ring at 147 pounds.”

“My goal is just to push it as far as I can push it. Fight the best fighters that are out there. Challenge the best fighters if I can get them in the ring. My focus right now is Andre Berto. If you don’t take care of business with Andre Berto, that just puts a stop to your train. After that, there’s a lot of big fights there, even if I have to move to 154.”

Berto busted up Zaveck last time out
Although Berto gave Guerrero his due for being a crafty southpaw with a strong technical foundation, he seconded the notion that the Selcuk Aydin fight would not have any resemblance to their upcoming fight on Thanksgiving weekend. “I don’t fight like Aydin. Aydin is flat footed. Like Robert says, he’s like a strong wall that walks to you and tries to bang you out. Turning somebody like him is easy to do. It’s going to be a different situation”, said Berto, who hasn’t fought since stopping Zavek in September of 2011.

Addressing the elephant in the room, Berto revealed that drug testing for this fight is being carried out by the US Anti Doping Agency (USADA) this time, instead of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) that produced his prior positive test. Berto said that drug testing has been ongoing since the fight was announced. “USADA came 5 or 6 times already. They’ve been very relentless. VADA testing was the same way.” But if questions linger about performance enhancing drugs, and their role in Berto’s preparations for the fight, Guerrero was reluctant to take up the thread. “That’s a waste of my concern. My concern is to be prepared for this fight and to go do my job.”

Ortiz dropped Berto in the 2011 Fight of the Year
Berto made allusions to difficulties that arose during training camp for the Victor Ortiz fight, in which he was knocked down several times en route to unanimous decision loss. “With the Ortiz fight, a lot of people don’t know what was going on behind the scenes getting ready for that fight. I wasn’t who I needed to be at all for that fight, but it is what it is. Trying new things in training that backfired, I’ll just say that. It affected my body terribly. I basically had to go to the hospital after the fight, because I had some severe problems that I had to get medical attention on.”

But Berto, who had previously come to be known for an explosive combination of speed and punching power that rivalled the elite fighters of the division, explained that those missteps are behind him now and that his best is yet to come. “I don’t think people have realistically seen the best Andre Berto at all. I’ve had exciting performances, and one punch knockouts and this and that. But I have so much more to my arsenal than that. We’ve been having tremendous work here. I’m in really great shape. If there is some rust, it should shake off pretty quickly. I’ve been working my ass off, and I don’t there will be too much rust.”

Guerrero intends to test that statement, however, insisting that he will push the pace from the opening bell. “I said it early on when the fight got made. We’re jumping on the Autobahn. We’re going pedal to the metal. Full gas. From start to finish, that’s the way I’m coming to fight. We’re going to go all the way hard.”

Berto remained confident that the crowd pleasing style that brought him to cusp of stardom will continue to carry him forward. “With my style of fighting, I don’t think it will take too much for people to be talking again. The point is to win. That’s it. If we get the win, everything else will fall into place.”

November 20, 2012

Yo Adrien - Broner is on the mark against Antonio DeMarco

No Problem for Broner
By Jeffrey Freeman -- There was no hairbrush this time and no phony wedding proposals. No Twinkie Tweets either. Just punches.

On the biggest night of his young boxing career, Adrien Broner let his fists do the talking, and boy did they have a lot to say. Just ask Antonio DeMarco. The now former WBC lightweight champion spent eight rounds on the other side of a one way conversation which left him speechless and without the lightweight title he fought so hard to win and defend.

You can't blame DeMarco though, for it was him living the worst nightmare of any professional prizefighter - able to see the punches coming, but unable to do a damn thing about it. That's the problem nearly all of Broner's opponents have faced so far against "The Problem" and DeMarco was no exception. The defending WBC lightweight champion did not come anywhere near close to solving the problem that Broner presents in the ring - speed, power, defense, aggression, and the overwhelming confidence of youth. The 23 year old Broner's showing was so impressive, most experts believe he has already outgrown his weight division and will now only find legitimate challengers (and big paydays) at junior welterweight and welterweight.

Against DeMarco, Broner let it all hang out. Uppercuts, straight right hands, and a comprehensive body attack which all contributed to the destruction of a proud but hopelessly outgunned Mexican warrior. After a slow opening round in which both fighters sought to feel the other out, Broner began the task of systematically breaking DeMarco (28-3-1 w/ 21 KOs) down. While avoiding punches with a shoulder roll defense reminiscent of Floyd Mayweather, Broner went to work and the fight quickly became the one-sided mismatch that many experts suspected it would be. 

DeMarco down and out in the 8th
In the 8th round, Broner (now 25-0 w/ 21 KOs) ended matters with a sweeping left uppercut that found the mark and deposited DeMarco on the canvas. Courageous to a fault, DeMarco was saved the pain and embarrassment of further punishment when his corner waved a bloody white towel in surrender. Just like that - Adrien Broner had his second straight white towel win and sole ownership of the WBC lightweight title.      

The new champion's options appear limited at lightweight with only IBF champion Miguel Vazquez and rising Scottish sensation Ricky Burns presenting as viable challengers to Broner's dominance in the division. Both Broner and WBO lightweight champion Burns have vocalized a desire to face off in the ring. If the fight is made, expect another mismatch win for Broner as Burns is almost certainly not ready for such a huge step up in class. Just don't tell that to his legions of fans - all of whom would likely travel long and far to buy tickets and root for their man while booing for Broner.

Such is the style of Broner that fans love to hate him and will pay (and pay again) to see him lose. 

Can Gamboa beat Broner?
Ultimately however, junior welterweight is where the real money and where the real challenges are for the still growing Broner. There is Brandon Rios, Lucas Mattysse, there is World Junior Welterweight Champion Danny Garcia, there is Amir Khan, and there is the Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa.

Promotional differences aside, these above mentioned fighters represent the best hopes for Adrien "The Problem" Broner to become the rich and famous playboy boxer we all know he wants to be. 

By defeating DeMarco with no problems, Cincinnati's Broner put every fighter within a dozen pounds of lightweight on notice that he is a legitimate force to be reckoned with and the type of fighter capable of providing a payday worth the risk of fighting him.

"To be honest, against DeMarco I wanted to make a statement that anyone who signs a contract to fight Adrien Broner just stepped in some doo-doo they can't get off their shoe. I really don't care who I fight. Anyone can grab that rope to hang themselves. I'm gonna run this city and run this world for a long time."   

November 18, 2012

Johnathon Banks - Can the champ's trainer become a title challenger?

Banks, Belts, and the Champ
By Jeffrey Freeman

"I have so much momentum going right now and I am so thankful for Emanuel Steward. He taught me the game of boxing. Everything I know about boxing I learned from Emanuel - from a training standpoint and from a boxing standpoint." 

~ Johnathon Banks

Following his upset win last night in Atlantic City over Seth Mitchell, heavyweight contender Johnathon Banks finds himself in a very unique position. Even more unique than the one he's already in considering his dual role as fighter and trainer. That might not be such unusual circumstances were Banks not the trainer of the Heavyweight Champion of the World, Wladimir Klitschko.

Banks is also now arguably the top ranked American heavyweight contender and it's no secret that America has been out of the world heavyweight title picture for some time now. Where there were once Great White Hopes in the heavyweight division, there are now Great American Hopes and like the not so great white hopes who came before them, American hopes tend to lose just as often. Exit Seth Mitchell, enter Johnathon Banks.

Banks and Steward
Picking up where the late Emanuel Steward left off, Banks has taken over Steward's role as Klitschko's trainer and he successfully guided his charge through a recent title defense against the iron-chinned Polish Viking - Mariusz Wach. To say it's been a busy month for Banks would be a serious understatement. The heavyweight trainer and Kronk boxing protege from Detroit was getting ready for the biggest fight of his own life against Mitchell while preparing the heavyweight champion of the world for a giant sized challenger, and to top it all off - his ailing longtime mentor Emanuel Steward suddenly and unexpectedly passed away just weeks before both fights. Between funeral arrangements for Steward and time spent getting Klitschko ready for Wach, it's hard to believe Banks found any time at all for himself.   

If things had gone as many expected, Banks would have fallen to football player turned fighter "Mayhem" Mitchell and his current options wouldn't be quite as appealing or as interesting as they suddenly are with the win. Had he lost, perhaps his primary focus would have shifted away from his own boxing career and more solidly onto his new role as head trainer to the Heavyweight Champion.

Mr. Banks shocks Mayhem Mitchell
However, things did not go as expected and Banks scored the biggest win of his career, knocking out the previously undefeated Mitchell in just the second round after scoring three knockdowns in a surprise victory clearly inspired by the passing of Steward.

During a recent media conference call to promote the Mitchell fight, KO Digest asked Banks about the possibility of fighting Klitschko and whether his role as the trainer of the champion would in effect block him from the goal that all heavyweights presumably share - the heavyweight championship of the world. "To the naked eye, it does seem that way doesn't it? Honestly, I don't know. I'm not the type to say too much too soon about the future. That's just one of those bridges you have to cross when you get to it."

By beating Mitchell, Banks took a significant step towards that bridge and during his post fight interview on HBO, the possibility of trainer versus fighter intrigued Larry Merchant enough to inquire about it as well. Asked by Merchant if he knows how to fight Klitschko, Banks offered another diplomatic response saying,

"I made a half a living knowing how to fight Wladimir Klitschko."

It's a question Banks should get used to hearing and a question he should start asking himself especially if he continues to win in the ring. What we can take from Banks' responses to the inquiry is that he doesn't summarily dismiss the idea out of loyalty and he seems comfortable leaving the possibility open. "Whether it's training or whether it's fighting, my number one priority is boxing. Fighting is my life, and I'm ready to continue my rise to the top."

Can Wlad's sparring partner become a title challenger?
Known more for sparring with Klitschko, Banks now confronts the possibility of challenging him for the title he's already helped him to defend. After the Wach win, Klitschko publicly stated that Banks wasn't a "great trainer" like Steward but he did give Banks proper credit for the win by saying that it was not only his win- but Banks' win as well. 

"Sparring with Wladimir is a dirty job but somebody has to do it."

Fighting him for the title is an even dirtier job.

Is Johnathon Banks willing to do it?

November 15, 2012

KO Digest Spotlight On Boxing's Up and Comers - Gary Russell Jr.

Top Prospect Russell Jr goes to 21-0
By Terry Strawson - Gary Russell Jr is an American featherweight who, fighting out of a southpaw stance, has compiled a 21-0 record with 13 victories coming by stoppage. He is a former US Olympian, two-time National Champion, and a Bronze Medalist at the 2005 World Amateur Games.

Born on June 5th 1988 in Capitol Heights, MD, just like Sugar Ray Leonard, Russell Jr was - under the guidance of his father and trainer Gary Sr - readying himself for this stage since the tender age of seven. His arrival at this point in his professional career is a testament to his confidence, composure in the ring, and his blistering combinations.

Having Al Haymon as an advisor hasn't hurt either.

Russell made his debut in the professional ranks with a win over Antonio Reyes in 2009 and has not looked back since. Fighting six or seven times a year, up until this year, he has dispatched of 13 of his foes by KO and those fortunate enough to stay on their feet were completely out-pointed and out-classed en route to comfortable decision victories for Russell.

Having already been named the 2011 Prospect of the Year by Sports Illustrated, ESPN and by The Ring Magazine - we may be a little late in branding him a prospect at this point. However, there is no doubting that the real challenges await in 2013.

In the ring Russell Jr is impressive. There is a confidence and a swagger that transcends his opponents. His jab is snappy and his combinations crisp. It is not unusual to see Russell throw, and land, four and five punch combinations. He is widely regarded to possess the fastest hands in boxing today.

Russell KO's Castaneda
His showing this past weekend against Roberto Castaneda (20-3-1) is a perfect example of what he brings, and will continue to bring, to the table. His confidence borders on, but does not cross, arrogance and his vast amateur background enables him to perform with minimum fuss. He is permanently 'on his feet' and although not considered to be a devastating puncher his knockout of Castaneda was as emphatic as any I've ever seen.

Speed kills. At times it's breathtaking.

Ask Castaneda and Heriberto Ruiz.

Late last year, in arguably his most impressive outing to date, Russell Jr knocked out the well traveled Heriberto Ruiz (47-12-2) in the very first round of their fight at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, OH. Despite sharing a ring with the likes of Eric Morel, Rico Ramos and Rafael Marquez amongst others Ruiz appeared nervous as the opening round played out. Midway through he appeared to settle down a touch and as he looked to counter a Russell attack he was caught flush on the chin by a tightly delivered right-hook that sent him stiff as a board to the canvas. The Castaneda knockout was eerily similar and equally as chilling.

Can he do it against the elite in the 126 lb limit? Probably.

"I think by the end of 2013, after three or four more fights, I’ll get my shot at the 126-pound title. People don’t think of me as a hard hitter but I was known as a power puncher in the amateurs. I had a hand injury early in my pro career, but I’m 100 percent healthy now."

Next year should provide definitive answers. With WBA champion Chris John fighting primarily close to home in Indonesia and IBF belt holder Billy Dib lacking the name recognition in America, we should expect to see him challenge either Daniel Ponce De Leon or Orlando Salido for their versions of the featherweight crown.

Mikey Garcia, another highly touted American featherweight, more than likely brings more risk than reward to the table at this juncture in their respective careers but with both youngsters in favor with the major networks of Showtime and HBO that fight cannot be ruled out. And what a fight it would be.

Russell Jr's list of potential opponents goes on. Jhonny Gonzalez, JuanMa Lopez, Rafael Marquez and Celestino Caballero are all still a threat and viable options. Better still, Nonito Donaire, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Abner Mares and Yuriorkis Gamboa are all in close enough proximity to be on the radar in the not too distant future.

The possibilities are endless for Russell Jr and at 24 years of age he certainly has time on his side. His natural talent and abilities are beyond question and his hand-speed is unrivaled. He certainly has all the tools to become a permanent fixture in his division and beyond. With more and more of the spotlight being afforded to the lighter weight classes it will be interesting to see just how far Russell Jr can go.

Overall Rating: A-

Written by Terry Strawson - exclusively for KO Digest 
Photos by Tom Casino/SHOWTIME 

November 9, 2012

KO Digest Friday Night Fight Flashback: Aaron Pryor vs Alexis Arguello

A True Battle of Champions!
By David McLeod - Fighter turned announcer Sugar Ray Leonard, always known to be careful with his words, took his time before he summed up the evening at ringside in Miami and he voiced the opinion of the thousands in attendance. "If  there is any fight that would go down in boxing history, it will be Aaron Pryor and Alexis Arguello!"

The HBO trio of Barry Tompkins, Larry Merchant, and Ray Leonard were true veterans of the fight game and they knew immediately that they had just become an important part of a historic fight. The moment was so special, the fans remained in the stadium, savoring every last second of it. The fight itself had more than lived up to its expectations. WBA junior welterweight champion Aaron "The Hawk" Pryor, aching for the spotlight, made sure not to waste the opportunity. Growing up rough and tough in Cincinnati, Pryor was a great fighter, and he wanted the world to know it.

As a standout amateur, he just missed going to the 1976 Olympics, thanks to a pair of close decision losses to Howard Davis Jr. To this day, many believe his career may have been different had he made the team. Instead, he had to settle for a job as a sparring partner for Davis before turning pro. In comparison, he was paid $400 dollars in his pro debut, while Davis Jr. was paid $250,000 for a televised bout.

As a lightweight, Pryor went 23-0 before he moved up to the junior welterweight division. In only his second fight at that weight, Pryor took on the WBA junior welterweight champion, the great Antonio "Kid" Cervantes. After Cervantes dropped him in the second round with a right cross, Pryor got up smiling, windmilling his right hand while the referee gave him an eight count. Pryor quickly trapped Cervantes in the corner and pummeled him into submission. Just like that, Pryor was the new champion and he didn't waste any time surrounding himself with an entourage. "What time is it?" he would repeatedly ask. "Hawk Time!" they would shout on cue.

Unfortunately, it'll never happen!
The hard luck continued, as Pryor signed to face Sugar Ray Leonard for the undisputed welterweight championship, but Leonard suffered a detached retina, and retired shortly after. When the word traveled that lightweight champion Alexis Arguello was moving up in weight, Pryor assumed he would go after one of the other belts. "It was Alexis pushing the envelope," said Bruce Trampler, who helped make the match. "Of course, in Pryor, he picked out the most dominant junior welterweight but that's Alexis. He didn't want a cream puff." Arguello, known as "The Explosive Thin Man," was the consummate pro who owned every punch in the book and he threw them in straight textbook form. The tall fighter from Nicaragua wasted little movement, as he patiently set up his opponent, before going for the knockout. Arguello was also one of the classiest fighters around, as he would show respect to his opponents after vanquishing them in the squared circle. "I know you love your father. I promise if I can do something for you, let me know, please," he told Ray Mancini as he consoled the beaten fighter immediately after he defeated him in the ring. The Mancini fight made Arguello a big hit in the United States. He had already won titles in three weight classes, and never lost any of his world titles in the ring, instead stepping up each time in pursuit of a title in higher weight class.

What time is it? Hawk Time!
Expectations were high for the fight, due to the fact that both fighters styles complimented each other. The fight was set for November 12, 1982 at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. As the sun set on the last fight on the undercard, the anticipation in the Orange Bowl increased. Alexis was introduced first as "Mister Alexis Arguello," while the champion was introduced as simply, "Aaron Pryor." The slight didn't go unnoticed by "The Hawk," who stood frozen with his eyes transfixed on his prey, with his gloved fist pointed straight at his target. Arguello had to feel like he was looking down the barrel of a loaded shotgun as he loosened up in his corner.

At the sound of the bell, Pryor came out fast as promised, and fired a right cross. He was perpetual motion, as he bobbed and weaved and threw punches in combination. Arguello, forced to fight Pryor's fight, landed a solid left to the body and an overhand right that momentarily buckled Pryor's knees. Pryor 31-0(28KO's) answered right back with a combination of his own that stunned Alexis, and it backed him into the ropes. The two traded heavy blows throughout the fast paced opening round, and by the time the round came to an end, they'd combined to throw almost 240 punches -- most of them power punches!

Pryor shows his legendary chin!
This pattern continued for the next few rounds, as Pryor would get off first, throwing punches nonstop, while Arguello, 72-5(59KO's) always economical with his punches, would probe with the jab, to set up the big right hand to the head, or dig the left hand to the body. Arguello, already bruised around the eyes, did better in the fifth, as Pryor fought standing straight up, and on the outside. The challenger used the jab to set up the straight right hand, snapping Pryor's head back. The right uppercut to the body also landed fairly well. Pryor elected to jab and use lateral movement in the sixth, and a big right hand hurt Arguello. Now cut on the left eye, Arguello wiped away the blood and landed a straight right hand flush! Pryor barely blinked.

In the seventh, Pryor used angles to land his punches and got the better of his opponent. Near the end of the round, Arguello got the crowd on it's feet with a huge right hand that knocked Pryor back a few feet. He added a hard left hook to the body near the end of the round. The challenger's adjustment didn't go unnoticed. "Don't fight his fight, fight your fight!" warned Panama Lewis in the corner. Arguello found continued success however and he swept rounds eight through ten, as he beat Pryor to the punch with a straight right hand, as well as both hands to the body.

Championship Rounds!
In the eleventh, some of the snap was gone on Pryor's punches, and Arguello continued to land straight right hands behind the jab. In one sequence, a right uppercut to the body, followed by a huge right cross, turned Pryor's head completely around, as if looking over his shoulder. Pryor simply nodded, and headed back to his corner at the bell. Incredibly, the fighters came out with the same intensity for the twelfth as they did in the beginning of the fight and they turned it into a slugfest. Arguello was stunned by a hard combination, only to come back and wobble Pryor with a big right hand.

Pryor then landed a six punch combination. Arguello froze Pryor with an uppercut. In the last twenty seconds of the round, both fighters were stunned. At the bell, Leonard was in awe. "To fight at this pace, it has to take it's toll."

What was in that bottle Panama?

The thirteenth round was also grueling. A tremendous right hand snapped Pryor's head backwards, and his eyes rolled towards the overhead ring lights. The crowd went wild when Arguello landed the best punch of the fight. "Beautiful right hand!" shouted Leonard at ringside. By now, Arguello had to be asking himself what was keeping this guy up, as he headed back to his corner. "Give me the other bottle, the one I mixed,'' snapped Panama Lewis in between rounds. "Six minutes! You can fight for six minutes!" said the infamous trainer before sending his fighter back out.

Pryor overwhelms Arguello in the 14th!

Pryor went right on the attack in the fourteenth, and fired a left hook, right cross combination that snapped Arguello's head back. Breathing heavy, Arguello kept a high guard, looking to counter. A telegraphed lead right hand found the mark for Pryor and Arguello responded with a right hand to the body. A hard combination to the head by Pryor had Arguello in trouble and he wobbled badly, before falling back to the ropes. Pryor, sensing the kill, pounced on his opponent and the crowd erupted.  "Arguello in big trouble against the ropes! Pryor going for the kill! A smashing right hand!" an excited Barry Tompkins could be heard shouting on the air. The volume of punches overwhelmed Arguello, as he tried in vain to defend himself against the ropes. Pryor dug both hands to the body before landing the left hook to the head and a huge right hand that left Arguello defenseless. Another left hand, followed by a pair of overhand rights violently snapped  Arguello's head back repeatedly, and Stanley Christodoulou jumped in, just as Arguello slumped to the canvas. A vindicated Pryor raised his gloves in victory.

"If there is any fight that would go down in history, it will be Aaron Pryor and Alexis Arguello," said Leonard. Arguello remained on the canvas for some time after the stoppage. "I wanted to prove to the people that if HBO gave me the opportunity, that I would box and take my time, and take out a mechanic like Alexis Arguello," he said, before going over to console the brave challenger. There was some controversy after the fight, because of the mystery "black bottle" Lewis used in the corner. Both Panama and Pryor denied doing anything illegal."I had like thirty knockouts before I fought Alexis, I don't think I needed anything that particular night," Pryor said. "I feel like my ability was doing my talking for me."

Pryor beats Arguello quicker in the rematch
The controversy resulted in a 1983 rematch, but this time, Pryor dominated the fight, stopping Arguello in the 10th round. Arguello immediately retired but then attempted a comeback in the late 1980's and early 1990's, with his biggest win against former junior welterweight champion Billy Costello. Arguello retired for good in 1995 with a record of 82-8(65KO's) and was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992. Sadly, Arguello died on July 1, 2009 after allegedly shooting himself through the heart in Managua. Reports indicate there could be some foul play involved.

Less than a year after the first Arguello encounter, Panama Lewis had his boxing trainer license revoked after he allegedly removed the padding from the gloves of Luis Resto before his fight with Billy Collins on June 16, 1983. As for Pryor, he too retired after the Arguello rematch. In March 1984, he returned, and the newly formed IBF immediately recognized him as junior welterweight champion. Another big payday was lost after Ray Mancini was upset by Livingston Bramble. After a pair of unimpressive title defenses, Pryor was stripped of the IBF title for failure to defend in December of 1985. Pryor's life had become consumed by drugs, and after reportedly dropping down to almost 115 pounds, Pryor spent twenty nine months out of the ring.

Legends Forever

Claiming he was now clean, The Hawk attempted a comeback against journeyman Bobby Joe Young on August 8, 1987 and was stopped in the seventh round under unusual circumstances. Pryor had surgery to remove a cataract and repair a detached retina, before stopping Darryl Jones in the third round in 1990. Legally blind, Pryor's last fight was on December 4, 1990 against Roger Choate. After scoring a seventh round win, Pryor called it a career. Thankfully, Pryor finally kicked his drug habit in 1993, and has remained drug free ever since. With a final record of 39-1(35KO's) - Aaron "The Hawk" Pryor was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996. Just like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier before them, the names Alexis Arguello and Aaron Pryor will  forever be linked together in boxing history.

The Friday Night Fight Flashback you just enjoyed was written by self-proclaimed boxing junkie David McLeod, exclusively for KO Digest. Each and every week, David will flashback to a memorable fight in boxing history!

November 2, 2012

Boxing celebrities attend 2012 Fight Night for Children

Hammer Time at Fight Night 2012
WASHINGTON DC - By John Scheinman

Fight Night for Children at the Washington Hilton is one of the very few boxing events where the fights themselves are secondary – and perhaps lower – attractions.

No children’s charity event raises more money – more than $2 million for underprivileged children in Washington – and you could see the business was serious Thursday night when a wild chopper motorcycle decked out in Washington Nationals logos and autographed by the entire team went for a cool $100,000 in an auction at ring center.

The event takes place in a massive underground ballroom of the hotel, and it is black-tie and the thousands of guests are 99 percent male, high-powered business executives and politicians set loose in a hedonistic environment. Hundreds of models, dancers and other aspiring beauties are hired each year to act as table-side hostesses, or more.

It is one of the last major events at which indoor smoking is allowed, and the place billows with cigar smoke.

The bar is open and the steaks are the size of hams. What other than fighting fits this bill?

Nothing, really.

The founding genius behind the enterprise, Joe Roberts, died last December at 59, felled young by brain cancer. He attended his final Fight Night the month before he died, and, from a wheelchair donated $5 million to his own cause.

This year, there was a tribute to Roberts and the legacy certainly looked intact. Fight Night pulls out all the stops, and while most of the people in attendance acted as if they wouldn’t know a boxing glove if it punched them in the mouth, the folks in the know certainly got their money’s worth.

You can't touch this!
After a brilliant laser light show cutting Star Wars like beams through the cigar haze, the entertainment began, and this year it was revived with the spectacular M.C. Hammer tearing through his hits surrounded by a gang of gyrating dancers. When the smoke from that detonation cleared, Michael Buffer emerged, ably assisted by the dean of D.C. public relations men, Charlie Brotman, still strong at 85, to introduce the legends of boxing.

They were almost undersold. When the great Sugar Ray Leonard, who grew up in nearby Palmer Park, Md., was the first introduced, the greats were not getting their just due. Whatever. Again, the fights are secondary to the scene.

But there was Leonard, followed by Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks, Buster Douglas, Gerry Cooney, Aaron Pryor, Pernell Whitaker, and Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, who received a special award.

Yes, there were fights – three of them, matches courtesy of Eric Bottjer. The main event opponent for Bayarn Jargal fell out and terribly faded former titleholder Eric Aiken was brought in to face him. Jargal, Arlington, Va., 137, 17-3-3, knocked down Aiken, Washington, 134, 16-10-1, with the first punch he landed. Aiken, looking bloodshot and shaky, was up at eight. A follow-up right hurt Aiken, and a left hook put him down again.Aiken had nothing, and when Jargal worked him into a neutral corner, referee Joe Cooper stepped in and ended it. Terrible fight. TKO 2:24 of the first of a scheduled eight.

The first bout of the night went the full four. Jerry Forrest, Newport News, Va., 239, 2-0, scored a unanimous decision victory against Brice Ritani, Las Vegas, 279, 3-1-1. The first round was a slugfest, and Forrest proved a little faster and a little slicker, stabilizing against the bullish Ritani and showing faster hands and body punching. In the second, Ritani started well and aggressively, but Forrest moved reasonably well and neutralized the attacks and scored well to the body at the end of the round. By the fourth, Ritani had a bloody face but kept pressing forward. Both fighters were pitching in the final minute. The judges all scored 40-36 for Forrest. KO Digest had it 39-37, handing Ritani the last round.

The only other fight was shaping up as the best of the night, when referee Joe Cooper stepped in during the third round because of profuse bleeding from the nose of Steven “Too Sharp” Tyner, Akron, Ohio, 174, 3-8, in his bout against Greg Newby, Washington, 173, 2-0.

Action was brisk over the first two, and Tyner proved more capable than his record suggested. The 10 fights of experience kept him in with the decent-looking prospect Newby, who took the first two on our scorecard in good action.

Tyner will see more work with that kind of effort.

 Images by Carol Ross Joynt