July 29, 2012

Virgil Hunter: "Chad Dawson Will Not Out-Muscle Andre Ward"

By Gopal Rao - When World Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward meets World Light Heavyweight Champion Chad Dawson on September 8th, in Oakland, in a fight for Ward’s titles, one of the prevailing subplots will be who will dominate in the trenches, where things get rough. Both fighters have shown a willingness to mix it up along the outer edges of the Queensbury rules. Ward won his first world title by roughing up champion Mikkel Kessler to the point where the bout was stopped due to accidental cuts. Dawson, on the other hand, separated the shoulder of Bernard Hopkins by picking him up and dumping down on the canvas, resulting in an eventual No Contest ruling by the California State Athletic Commission.

Virgil Hunter, Ward’s trainer, insists that Dawson will not be able to do to his protégé what he did to Hopkins.

“I’m not concerned about that,” he told KO Digest by telephone. “Andre’s physicality will not allow that, so I’m not concerned at all,” he said.

“Chad Dawson will not muscle Andre Ward around.”
Trainer Virgil Hunter

Hunter was non-committal when asked about whether the inside game would be a key part of Ward’s gameplan against the 6 foot, 1 inch Dawson.

“It will unfold the way it does.  Some people would say we need to get to the inside, some would say we need to fight on the outside, but that remains to be seen,” he said.

“Chad Dawson is a different style of opponent than we’ve faced before.  He’s more athletic and he’s a southpaw.  He presents a lot of challenges, like remarkable combination punching,” Hunter said.

“Also, he’s a two-time champion, so he has that confidence that goes along with it.”

Dawson beats Hopkins
Dawson eventually overcame Hopkins via majority decision in a rematch that took place in Atlantic City last April.  There are those who see the challenge to Ward as a third go around against Hopkins for Dawson, given the widely held view that Hopkins and Ward share a similar fighting style.

Hunter dismisses those comparisons, however.

“If you want to make a ten cent comparison, then you could say that,” he explained.

“The way I would compare Andre to Bernard is in terms of intelligence in the sport.  Andre is way ahead of his years in terms of his intelligence in the sport, but as far as fighting style, I don’t think he fights anything like Bernard.”

The Ward vs Dawson fight will take place on September 8th at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, and will be broadcast by HBO. The chief undercard bout, between lightweight titleholder Antonio Demarco and challenger John Molina Jr., will also be televised, as will Vitali Kitschko heavyweight title defense against Manuel Charr, which takes place on the same day in Moscow.

July 27, 2012

KO Digest Preview: Robert Guerrero vs Selcuk 'Mini Tyson' Aydin

Ghost Guerrero & Mini Tyson Aydin
This Saturday night at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA - Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero will step into the ring for the first time at the 147 lb welterweight limit when he squares off against Selcuk "Mini Tyson" Aydin for the interim WBC welterweight title. This is a dangerous fight. But also a potentially very good one according to Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions.

"If you liked Victor Ortiz vs Josesito Lopez and Lucas Matthysse vs Humberto Soto or  Danny Garcia vs Amir Khan - you want to make sure that, on July 28th, you are either going to be live in attendance at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. Or make sure you are going to tune in to Showtime."

Guerrero (29-1-1 w/ 18 KOs) hasn't fought since his impressive victory over Michael Katsidis - well over a year ago. "The Ghost" is a boxer-puncher who knows his way around the ring. He holds notable victories over Joel Casamayor, Vicente Escobedo and the aforementioned Katsidis.

Guerrero scalps Katsidis
The most impressive win however was the scalp of Katsidis, and more importantly how he took it. The Australian was coming off the back of a spirited, yet losing effort against Juan Manuel Marquez in which he had the Mexican legend on the canvas. "The Ghost" however, did not allow Katsidis into the bout, and kept him at the end of his jab throughout the contest, ensuring a comfortable points win.

A similar strategy will need to be adopted come Saturday night. For what Guerrero brings to the ring in pure boxing skills and ring-savvy, Aydin will look to match or trump with raw power and aggression. The Turk, dubbed "Mini Tyson" (23-0 w/ 17 KO's) is undefeated with 17 knockouts on his resume and has made no secret of his frustration towards Guerrero and the American media, who he feels is ignoring him.

Aydin would rather train than talk to the media!
Aydin, making his debut on American soil and on American cable television, has a point to prove. You could make a strong case for him coming out victorious.

On a media conference call last week he warned, through an interpreter (after initially refusing to participate in the call) that the California native Guerrero, "should spend more time training and strengthening your jaw because I am going to break it."

Aydin is a natural welterweight. A big one. And on Saturday night, one would suspect he will enter the ring close to 20 lbs heavier than Guerrero, who started his career as a featherweight.

This, of course, is not the be-all and end-all. We only have to look back as far as Manny Pacquiao's performances against Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito to see that speed and smarts can out-wit strength and power. Guerrero however, is not Manny Pacquiao and Aydin will enter the ring with more belief and hunger than either Clottey or Margarito did against the Filipino star.

Aydin's record does not offer much evidence in terms of his credentials. His notable victories over Jo Jo Dan and Said Ouali are more eye-catching because of an inability to pronounce many of his other opponent's names, rather than their actual achievements and accolades.

His size, however, is a factor.

Does the Ghost scare this BIG welterweight?
If Aydin can apply Tyson-esque pressure from the outset, which I believe he will, it promises to be the longest 36 minutes of Robert Guerrero's career should he make it the distance. It remains to be seen if Guerrero is capable of taking shots from a big and strong welterweight such as Aydin. It is also impossible to know if any of the power that helped Guererro score 18 knockouts between featherweight and lightweight will be relevant at the welterweight limit.

"Aydin said he was going to break my jaw and that motivated me more. That pushed me even harder to get in there and bring it. If they think we're looking past him, they're wrong."  

Written by The Final Bell Boxing Talk's Terry Strawson - exclusively for KO Digest
Images by Esther Lin/SHO and Tom Hogan Photos/Golden Boy

July 24, 2012

KO Digest Pound-For-Pound (P4P) Ratings Update

THE World Middleweight Champion

KO Digest Top 12 Pound-For-Pound

1. Floyd Mayweather (1)
2. Sergio Martinez (3)
3. Manny Pacquiao (2)
4. Andre Ward (4)
5. Juan Manuel Marquez (5)
6. Nonito Donaire (6)
7. Timothy Bradley (8)
8. Yuriorkis Gamboa (7)
9. Anselmo Moreno (9)
10. Miguel Cotto (10)
11. Carl Froch (11)
12. Wladimir Klitschko (12)

It's been a curious month and a half since the last KO Digest P4P update. Most peculiar was the horrendous decision in Las Vegas last month which gave Timothy Bradley a disputed split decision over Manny Pacquiao. The boxing world is still in shock over that one and the official verdict makes it more of a challenge than ever before to compile these ratings fairly and accurately.

Do we punish Manny Pacquiao and reward Timothy Bradley? Do we cover our eyes and ignore the official decision?

The answer lies somewhere in the middle. Even though it was obvious to most observers that Pacquiao beat Bradley, it should also be obvious to most observers that the Filipino superstar is slowing down and starting to shows signs of being human.

For this reason, Pacquiao falls one spot from #2 to #3. Moving up one spot from #3 to #2 to take his place is World Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez. As middleweight champion, Sergio has been nothing short of Maravilla and all four of his title defenses have ended in brutal knockouts. Needless to say, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr will have his hands full when he tangles with the champ this September.

Tim Bradley "beats" Manny Pacquiao
As for Bradley, he does have an official win over Manny Pacquiao and that can't be completely ignored. Desert Storm moves up one notch and switches places with Yuriorkis Gamboa whose inactivity is starting to become a liability.

No other changes in the KO Digest P4P ratings and it should be noted that both Nonito Donaire and Wladimir Klitschko both notched wins (against Jeffrey Mathebula and Tony Thompson respectively) since the last update (5/27) and their performances were strong enough to maintain their current spot in the KO Digest P4P ratings.

Looking ahead, the upcoming fight with the biggest P4P implications is clearly Andre Ward vs Chad Dawson. Should Ward win as expected, his meteoric rise though the P4P rankings would likely continue with Ward moving past Pacquiao. A win for Dawson would be equally as big a deal and Dawson would almost certainly crash the KO Digest Pound for Pound party with a quality P4P win like that.

Ratings as of July 24, 2012

The number is parenthesis represents where the fighter was rated in the KO Digest Top 12 Pound-For-Pound rankings the last time an update was done, in this case that last update was done on May 27, 2012 ~ www.KODigest.TV

July 20, 2012

CES "Built to Last" Results from Twin River - Biosse & Godfrey win

Biosse pounds the body, wins again in Rhode Island
LINCOLN, RI - In front of another good crowd at the Twin River Convention Center in Lincoln, Rhode Island - Jimmy Burchfield's Classic Entertainment and Sports (CES) put on an eight fight professional boxing card last night entitled "Built to Last." Featuring several local fighters on the undercard, the main event featured none other than Mr. Providence himself, Vladine Biosse.

With only one exception, the fights all went generally as expected and Biosse kept up his end of the bargain by pounding out a sternum smashing win over Canada's Michael Walchuck. In the co-main, cruiserweight Matt Godfrey made a successful debut at heavyweight, scoring a TKO win over Jesse Oltmanns.

Vladine Biosse TKO5 Michael Walchuck (super middleweights) - Mr. Providence retained his namesake and his title of USA New England super middleweight champion with a hard fought win over Ontario native Michael Walchuck. The fight was stopped in the corner after the fifth round. A very typical Biosse performance. Lots of high energy punching with little effect. In the 5th however, Biosse stepped it up a notch - settled down on his punches to the body and that was enough to convince Walchuck to call it a night.

"My coaches told me you have more in the tank and you're not giving it all out, you need to pick it up a little bit in the 5th and you can get him out of there. I caught him with the hook and I landed the up-jab to the sternum and after that punch, you could see that he was done. It was just a matter of either him giving up or me taking him down, so that punch really made it clear."  

Biosse improves to 14-1-1 w/ 7KOs while Walchuck goes home to Canada 9-6.

Matt Godfrey TKO5 Jesse Oltmanns (heavyweights) - This was Godfrey's first fight at heavyweight and it showed around the midsection. The former NABF cruiserweight champion scored a knockdown in the 2nd from a nice right hand and then outboxed and out-punched the very limited Oltmanns the rest of the way. Godfrey brought on the referee stoppage at the start of the 5th round in this co-main event with a sweeping left hook, right hand combination to the head of his weary and very slow opponent. Time - 0:10 of the 5th. Providence's Godfrey improves to 21-3 w/ 11KOs. Oltmanns falls to 10-4

Keith Kozlin W6 Reynaldo Rodriguez (super middleweights) - Grueling brutal fight with Kozlin winning every round on the KO Digest scorecard. Rodriguez was hurt badly in the first before steadying himself. Gutsy to a fault, Rodriguez was then absolutely abused throughout the rest of the fight. Left hooks and uppercuts landed with sickening regularity for Kozlin and after six rounds, Rodriguez's face was beginning to look like Cotto against Margarito. Standing ovation from a very satisfied crowd. Scores: 60-54/60-54/58-56 ~ Rhode Island native Kozlin goes to 7-3-1 w/ 4KOs while fellow Rhode Islander Rodriguez goes to 6-5-1.

Last minute instructions for Thomas Falowo
Thomas Falowo TKO4 Rahman Yusubov (middleweights) - Good comeback win for Falowo as he bounces back from his first professional loss last May with a nice win over the durable Rahman Yusubov. Falowo really hit a stride in the 2nd and 3rd - finding a home for his left hook and landing smooth combinations while walking his man down. By the 4th round, Falowo was having his way with Yusubov and the referee stopped the fight in the corner after the completion of four rounds. Falowo improves to 7-1 w/ 5KOs while Yusebov slips to 8-9. Said the winner afterwards, "I felt good tonight. Yusubov was a tough dude, he can take a shot. I thought I won the last fight, I really needed this win mentally. But I just love to fight, this is what I do, regardless. I felt that overall, I had a pretty good performance."   

Kevin Cobbs W4 Donte Wiggins (super middleweights) - A grudge match that was marred in the beginning by the nervous energy both fighters brought to the ring, perhaps having to do with their pre-fight online trash talk. When Cobbs boxed, he controlled the fight, when he was lured into brawling things got messy. In the 3rd, Cobbs found the range and in the 4th a right hand sent Wiggins crashing to the canvas. Both fighters embraced after the fight in a display of mutual respect. Scores were 39-36 for Cobbs on all three judge's cards.

Dennis Ogboo TKO4 Benny Constantino (middleweights) - Slow sloppy fight with far more misses than hits. In the 4th, crowd favorite Constantino suddenly took a knee, said something to the referee when he got to his feet and the fight was immediately waved off. Benny had a slight mouse under his left eye the whole night and may have re-injured his orbital bone in this fight. Time: 1:04 ~ Ogboo, from Lexington, KY, goes to 7-5 w/6 KO while Benny falls to 7-2 w/ 4 KOs.

Zack Ramsey TKO4 Damon Antoine (lightweights) - Second professional win for the flashy Zack Ramsey. Damon was down a total of three times in the fight, Ramsey finishes him with a flurry in the 4th highlighted by a cruel left hook - referee steps in to save Damon at 2:17. Like watching a cat toy with a mouse before killing it. Good win for Springfield, MA's Ramsey but still too much showboating, holding both hands low etc. Ramsey goes to 2-0 w/ 2 KO's while Damon falls to 10-39. Yes, that's right. 39 losses.

Scary scene in the ring!

Louis Cruz KO1 Jansy Rivera (welterweights) - In the evening opener, a left hook from NY native Louis Cruz dropped Rivera in the first - a perfectly flush right hand finished him a bit later in the round. Absolutely BRUTAL knockout. Rivera was unconscious before he hit the canvas. Professional debuts for both fighters. Rivera was out cold for several minutes and taken off on a stretcher. 

Images & Words by Jeffrey Freeman

July 8, 2012

Ringside Report: Donaire unifies - Pavlik wins convincingly

Written by Gopal Rao - Photos by Harry How
CARSON, CA - In March of 2008, Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez staged one of the classic encounters in the history of the super bantamweight division by fighting for the unified title at the Home Depot Center, just outside of Los Angeles. Four years later, Nonito Donaire and Jeffrey Mathebula attempted to replicate the feat by unifying the WBO and IBF super bantamweight titles at the same venue in Carson, California.

Although the pair couldn’t match the historic back-and-forth intensity of their predecessors, the fight did manage to demonstrate that perhaps the road to supremacy in the division runs through Donaire, who quickly imposed his speed and punching power on the overmatched Mathebula.

Outfitted in a set of matching yellow & black trunks and boots, meant to conjure images of Bruce Lee in the film Game Of Death - Donaire controlled the fight from the opening bell. He darted in and out, bobbed up and down, and threw punishing blows that made the awkward Mathebula seem wary of taking any additional risks.

Donaire appeared to be going for the fences in the first round, throwing every punch as though he thought he'd knock out Mathebula as soon as he landed. As a result, there were openings for Mathebula to land the jab throughout the fight.

Mathebula down in the 4th
Mathebula attempted to hold off the oncoming Donaire by backpedaling constantly and flicking out the jab, as well as a few chopping flurries that appeared to be meant more to keep Donaire at bay rather than to inflict damage.

Donaire managed to land his primary weapon, the left hook, right on Mathebula’s cheek in the fourth round, depositing him on the canvas, and bringing the crowd to it’s feet.

The crowd roared with every punch Nonito threw, however, and when he didn’t punch, Donaire’s clowning antics seemed to delight his fans nonetheless.

Donaire used his elusiveness to showboat along the way, snaking underneath Mathebula's punches and pivoting his body into odd angles, out of range. He spent much of the middle and late rounds stalking Mathebula in this manner, bobbing and weaving just beneath Mathebula's wheelhouse, and then springing up to throw a few home run swings. In fact, there were moments when Donaire seemed more interested in creating an interesting punching angle than in actually throwing punches at Mathebula.

It is possible that these antics cost him rounds on the official scorecards, however, which read 117-110, 118-109 and 119-108, all in favor of Donaire. Otherwise, it was difficult to rationalize how Mathebula could have won more than two rounds. Perhaps it was telling that, despite the seeming inability of Mathebula to mount any significant offense aside from jabs and a few right hands, Donaire was still unable to finish him off inside the distance. "That jab really took me out of my power range. He's a great champion. He wouldn't let me get in there and let me work." Donaire said afterward.

Mathebula also managed to produce a bit of swelling under both of Donaire’s eyes with his jab, although he never appeared to seriously hurt him. The final punch stats, compiled by Compubox, had Donaire landing 102 of 261 total punches versus 91 connects in 308 attempts for Mathebula.

“Mathebula is a very difficult fighter to fight. Everybody who’s fought him fought a very close fight. As the judges indicated, this was not a close fight. I thought Nonito won 10 or 11 rounds.” Promoter Bob Arum said afterwards.

Fellow super bantamweight fighter Abner Mares was in attendance to witness Donaire’s performance, as was Japanese rival Toshiaki Nishioka. “He’s beatable.” was Mares’ assessment of Donaire. “I think I could beat him, and I think it would be a good fight for the fans.”

“I think the fans want to see the best out there, and that is me and Donaire.” said Nishioka.

“As usual, I think his performance was excellent. I’ve been waiting for him since I fought Rafael Marquez. I’ve been studying the way he’s fighting. That’s the fight that excites me most.” he said.

HBO analyst Max Kellerman weighed in on Donaire’s remaining options in the 122 pound division by singling out Cuban Olympic champion, Guillermo Rigondeaux. “The fight I’m most interested in seeing is probably Donaire and Rigondeaux, because I believe that those are the two most talented guys. Rigondeaux only has ten pro fights though. He needs some pro fights against some tough guys to see how he does against another really good pro fighter.”

With the victory, Donaire earned his sixth professional world title, bringing his overall record to 29-1-0. Mathebula drops to 26-4-2.

Pavlik drops Rosinsky, wins convincingly

Rosinsky gets Ghostbusted by Pavlik! 
In the chief support bout before the main event, super middleweight Will “Power” Rosinsky started off energetically, trying to make good on his pre-fight promise to turn his challenge of Kelly Pavlik into a war. Power circled with great agility, coming in low and shooting punches to the body to set up quick flurries upstairs during the opening round.

A short right hand from Pavlik put Rosinsky on the canvas in the 2nd round, and the emergency medic from Queens, New York went into retreat mode shortly thereafter.

A constantly advancing Pavlik maneuvered Rosinsky to the ropes several times throughout the fight, although Rosinsky still managed to throw token flurries here and there to escape.

Despite opening up a cut over Pavlik’s left eye, and bloodying his nose, Rosinsky was unable to stop Pavlik from consistently marching forward behind a stiff jab, and a ramrod right hand. By the fifth round, the crowd was chanting Pavlik’s name as he pursued an opponent who seemed out of ideas about how to mount an effective offense.

Pavlik showed a surprising array of inside skills as well, given his usual propensity for fighting from range, using his height and reach. He blocked, parried and picked off shots when Rosinsky attempted to flurry, and he returned fire with a left hook that has seemed to develop under the tutelage of Robert Garcia.

Pavlik also mixed in body shots throughout the encounter, which might have taken the legs out from underneath Rosinsky, who relied on constant movement to stay out of danger.

After ten rounds, the scores were announced as 97-92, 98-91 and 98-91, all in favor of Pavlik.

The win marked Pavlik’s third straight victory since moving his training camp from Youngstown, Ohio to Oxnard, California under the guidance of Garcia, who also trains Nonito Donaire.

Pavlik said he hopes to return in the fall for a bigger fight, against a more recognizable name. Possible future opponents for Pavlik are Carl Froch, Andre Ward and Lucian Bute, all of whom he mentioned in his post fight in-ring interview with Max Kellerman.

By Gopal Rao, exclusively for KO Digest
Photos Harry How/Getty Images 

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