August 30, 2012

KO Digest Previews Sergio Martinez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr

The Bizarro World of Boxing
You almost had me fooled Julio. Like father like son I thought.

But when I saw your big mug on TMZ last January it hit me like one of your liver shots. In a moment of clarity, I realized just how related you really are to your cerveza loving father. It's not just boxing that runs in the Chavez family. Apparently, so does boozing.

Sorry Julio. Great fighters named Chavez don't get arrested two weeks before "championship" fights for driving under the influence. They call a Tijuana taxi driver or they don't drink at all during training.

That little L.A. episode in your Land Rover sobered me right up about you while you copped a plea and barely missed a beat on your way to a fight that even Bob Arum - your promoter - has admitted you were "ducking" until the two of you felt you were more ready.

Well folks, ready or not - the battle many boxing insiders said would never happen is finally scheduled to take place on September 15th - Mexican Independence Day in Las Vegas! That's right fight fans, it's Bob Arum and Top Rank Boxing versus Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions for the heavily disputed ... vacant ... interim ... moneyweight championship of North and South America!

Boxing titles just aren't what they used to be you see.

On the undercard of Oscar versus Arum it's Sergio Maravilla Martinez (49-2-2 w/ 28KOs) vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (46-0-1 w/ 32KOs) for the middleweight championship of the world. Here we have a fight pitting the REAL world middleweight champion against a fighter dressing up as the middleweight champion complete with a green WBC title belt stripped straight out of champion Sergio Martinez's closet. When all is said and done, it will be regrettably clear to boxing's fickle fans that they were actually right about Julio Cesar Chavez Jr before they were wrong about him.

Before they were fooled into thinking he was something they knew he wasn't.

Before wins over Marco Antonio Rubio and Andy Lee convinced them that maybe there was something to this Chavez kid.

Before the preposterous notion that he could beat Sergio Martinez became a plausible one.

Before boxing fans did a heavyweight flip flop on the credibility of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Middleweight "champion" of the WBC
If that sounds like politics as usual in the bizarro world of WBC boxing where champions are challengers and challengers are champions - here is something you can believe in: Chavez Jr is exactly what his critics always said he was - an undisciplined, well protected hype job living off his famous father's name and wearing a championship belt that he most certainly didn't earn in the ring against the actual World Middleweight Champion.

That in a tortilla shell is what this fight is all about.

Is Chavez Jr for real or is he a fraud?

Is he a champion, a contender, or just a mere pretender?

Make no mistake, Chavez Jr actually has improved as a fighter since the days not long ago when he was considered by many to be a laughing stock. Yet his two best chances to win against Martinez still involve circumstances largely out of his control. The first is the possibility that at 37 years of age, Martinez gets old overnight and becomes easy prey for an undefeated 26 year old light heavyweight named Chavez. Could it happen? Sure. Will it? Probably not.

The other more likely probability involves WBC President José Sulaimán and his curious ability to see to it that Mexican fighters named "Julio Cesar Chavez" get every break imaginable. Sulaimán got Chavez Sr out of quite a few ring jams back in the day and if he somehow gets Chavez Jr out of the one he currently finds himself in against an Argentinian wrecking ball named Martinez, nobody would be terribly surprised. Chavez and WBC chicanery go hand in hand. Just ask Pernell Whitaker. Or Frankie Randall. Or Carlos Molina.

In the ring, there is really nothing that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr does better than Sergio Martinez, except perhaps take a punch and carry weight. Jr's other advantages include youth, freakish size, and trainer Freddie Roach. Chavez Jr is also a proud and extremely confident fighter with a reliable chin. These machismo qualities will ultimately prove to be his undoing against a single-minded sharpshooter like Sergio Maravilla Martinez.

On September 15th, Chavez Jr will be befuddled early and often by the quicker and more athletic Martinez. Try as Chavez Jr might to impose his size and power, the upwardly mobile southpaw Martinez will have none of it. Maravilla keeps the fight at a safe distance early while picking apart his more inexperienced challenger; patiently waiting for Chavez Jr to tire before shifting into high gear. When Martinez does kick the festivities into overdrive, Chavez Jr will be beaten from pillar to post by a fighter who promises to abuse him so badly that his own Padre will need a DNA test to identify him. That's fighting irony right there.

Paradoxically, it will be the very "performance enhancing" DNA running through the ice cold veins of Chavez Jr which prevents this fight from ending early like Marvis Frazier's pitiful challenge of Heavyweight Champion Larry Holmes almost 30 years ago. Still the result will ultimately be the same - a mismatch featuring a man against a boy and a very disappointed Dad who should have known better.

The REAL Julio César Chávez will learn the same painful lesson that Larry Holmes taught Joe Frazier all those years ago. That is to say - with arsenals consisting of little more than intimidating last names and a desire to impress their fathers, the sons of Hall of Fame boxing legends don't tend to beat great fighters like Holmes or Martinez.

Winner and still World Champion - and new WBC champion!

THE FIGHT: Knowing all too well that he needs a knockout to win - and to avoid getting jobbed by No Way Jose - Sergio Martinez delivers yet another truly championship performance, violently stopping Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in the 9th round with a barrage of unanswered shots that come after Chavez Jr is knocked down and seriously hurt for the first time in his career.

The Lion Cub of Culiacán will feel positively punch drunk after the Undisputed Middleweight King is finished intoxicating him with the most potent offense in boxing. Whether Julio Cesar Chavez Jr ever fully recovers from his meeting with Maravilla remains to be seen.

August 3, 2012

Broadway Boxing Results - Oosthuizen retains title, Monaghan wins

Tommy Gun fires the left hand
NEW YORK, N.Y. - In the fourth installment of Broadway Boxing this year, promoter Lou DiBella treated fight fans on Thursday to nonstop action on a fight card that featured eight bouts. Kevin Rooney Jr., the Director of Public Relations for DBE, stated at the press conference on Tuesday that the main event featuring South Africa's top rated super middleweight Thomas "Tommy Gun" Oosthuizen and Florida's dangerous Rowland Bryant could have easily been on SHOBOX or HBO: Boxing After Dark. Being in charge of P.R., he could have been easily forgiven if he exaggerated the magnitude of the fight. After all, that's his job.

The card also co-featured undefeated light heavyweight prospect "Irish" Seanie Monaghan from Long Beach N.Y. and heavy handed George Armenta in a fight that more than lived up to it's expectations. Even the undercard fights featuring Allan Benitez and bantamweight Heather Hardy were entertaining. This venue has a feel of magic that is just right for boxing, which explains why the last three shows were done at the Roseland Ballroom. Add a great crowd, and you have something special. This card really had something for everybody. One round knockouts, multiple knockdowns, come from behind victories, and even a well deserved draw. Here are the results:

Thomas "Tommy Gun" Oosthuizen W12 Rowland Bryant (super middleweights) - This championship fight lived up to it's expectations, as Oosthuizen (20-0-1 w/ 13 KO's) was pushed to the limit in this twelve round brawl. Rowland Bryant (16-2 w/ 11 KO's) was as tough as they come, and once he warmed to the task, we had a fight with two fighters whose styles complimented each other. In the first round the champ relied on his southpaw jab to set up the left hand, while his opponent lunged with the left hook. Rowland tried to keep Oosthuizen on the ropes, but the tall champion fought surprisingly well on the inside. Bryant landed a big hook, but the champion took it well. "Tommy Gun" shot the jab to the body well, and landed a left to the head. Bryant responded by bobbing and weaving as he winged right crosses and left hooks that occasionally exploded on Oosthuizen.

Bryant's punches were eye catching bombs thrown with bad intentions that had the crowd "oohing and aahing" every time the sweat flew off the head of the champion, but he was being out landed three punches to one as the rounds continued to mount. From rounds seven through twelve, the champion doubled the jab before throwing flurries whenever Bryant would get inside. Bryant needed a knockout to win, and in the last round, he landed some of the biggest punches in the fight. Unfortunately for him, it was a case of too little too late.

Oosthuizen retained his IBO title by unanimous decision with the scores of 117-111 twice and 118-110. Steve Farhood congratulated the winner in the ring. "He was a tough guy, who took some really big shots," said the 24-year-old South African. "I know there are still things that I need to improve on and I will go back to the drawing board with my team after this.  I am happy that I had the opportunity to perform here in New York, and whatever my team decides is next for me, I will be ready."

"Irish" Seanie Monaghan KO3 George Armenta (light heavyweights) - In the co-main event, crowd favorite Seanie Monoghan improved to 15-0 w/ 10 KO's in an action packed fight that gave his fans what they came to see. Armenta (14-10 w/ 11 KO's) had his moments as he came forward with the left hook and straight right hand, but his balance was off, as he put a little too much weight on his lead foot, and this allowed Monaghan to counter with a right hand of his own. In the second, "Irish" added a double hook to the body and head, and hurt his opponent. A huge right hand dropped him at the bell. Armenta bravely beat the count, and made it back to his corner. In round three, a second right hand dropped him hard, and this time he was visibly hurt. Armenta just managed to beat the count, but the referee had seen enough, and to the delight of the hometown fans, Seanie was declared the winner by TKO at the 2:25 mark.

Heather Hardy W4 Mikayla Nebel (female bantamweights) - Heather Hardy won her professional debut with a gutsy off the floor unanimous decision over Mikayla Nebel now at (0-3). The scores of the three judges didn't really tell the story of the fight, as Heather (1-0) was dropped to the canvas in the first round by a straight right hand, while reaching for her opponent. Showing a lot of courage she did battle back with volume punches to the body and head for the remainder of the fight. Nebel put her punches together and threw her punches straight, while tucking her chin behind her shoulder and tried to counter. Heather was clearly the bigger fighter, and used her size to her advantage, pushing her smaller opponent to the ropes. Hardy won by the scores of 38-37 on all three judges scorecard. Good fight.

Boyd Melson W6 Khalik Memminger (junior middleweights) - Army Captain Boyd Melson (9-1 w/ 4KO's) almost became the first upset loser on the card, thanks to the persistence of his opponent Khalik Memminger who did his best to force the fight by coming forward behind a right hand, hoping to catch his southpaw opponent, who tended to carry the left hand a little low at times. On Boyd's part, he would shoot the jab and fire a straight left to the head and body, as well as an occasional right hook. Thanks in part to their styles, there were a few clash of heads, which is common when a righty faces a southpaw, and the fighters would occasionally check themselves to to see if they were cut. Former champion Joey Gamache was in Melson's corner, and he tried to make some adjustments.

Things heated up a bit in the fifth as both fighters landed some good punches to head and body while pushing their opponent to the ropes. In the final round, Boyd got a real scare. Perhaps sensing he needed a knockout to win, Memminger (6-9-3 w/ 4KO's) went for broke and almost pulled off the upset, with a big right hand that had his opponent in trouble, and he then stalked his opponent while he tried to clear his head. Memminger threw plenty of right hands to the head, but failed to throw anything to the body while his opponent was hurt, and he let Melson off the hook, who made it to the bell. All three judges saw it the same way, with identical scores of 59-54 giving Memminger only the final round.

Floriano Pagliara D6 Willie Villanueva (junior lightweights) - In what was easily the most difficult fight to score on this night, Pagliara and Villanueva each made a strong case for themselves. There was plenty of give and take as both men seemed to favor the right hand to the head. Pagliara (13-4-2 w/ 7KO's) would do well in a round, just to have Villanueva (10-4-1 w/2 KO's) come back and finish the round strong. Pagliara made the fight a lot tougher than it should have been by failing to go to the body whenever he landed anything upstairs. The final round was a war, as both men showed determination to win a fight that each man knew was in the balance. Pagliara had blood on his face, but I couldn't tell if it was his because Villanueva suffered a bloody nose, and the crimson could have easily belonged to him. As much as I hate draws, I looked like a genius in press row when I called it before the scores of 58-56,56-58, and 57-57 were announced. Good fight overall, and no one deserved to lose, or even win this one.

Zach Ochoa KO1 Cody Osbourne (junior welterweights) - In a fight that lasted just 42 seconds, Ochoa (2-0 w/ 2KO's) came out for the first round (fittingly wearing animal print trunks) stalking his prey. Osbourne, now 0-3 was never in the fight, and he leaned into a jab that landed more like a right hand. The dazed Osbourne didn't look right while stumbling backwards into the ropes, the referee took a good look at him, and decided to call off the fight. In this brief encounter, I did get to see some above average hand speed from Ochoa. Still very early in his career, we'll get to see more of him as the level of competition improves.

Jonathan Cepeda KO1 Orphius Waite (middleweights) - In the first stoppage fight of the night, Jonathan Cepeda (12-0 w/ 11 KO's) showed power with both hands as he dropped his off balance opponent early with a left hand, and then a big right hand, that once again dumped him on the canvas. Waite, who's record falls to 7-5-2 entered the ring bone dry, and never landed anything of significance. Pretty much like the fight that followed this one, Cepeda's skills will come to light as the level of competition gets better.

Allan Benitez W6 Osnel Charles (junior welterweights) - Both fight fans and members of press row, who find it fashionable to come to the fights a little late, paid for it dearly on this night, as the first fight on the card gave me high expectations for the evening. In a highly entertaining bout, Allan Benitez (6-1 w/ 1 KO) showed good technique in this fight, and he needed it against Charles (9-4-1 w/ 1KO) who gave a gutsy performance. After a good feeling out first round for both fighters, and a fairly competitive second, Robert Garcia (Bam Bam Rios' trainer) made a few adjustments in the Benitez corner. In the third round, Benitez wisely relied more on the jab, followed by a right hand. Charles continued forward firing right hands, landing an occasional uppercut. Benitez landed the right more frequently, and as the fight entered the last three rounds, he added a left hook behind the right cross. All three judges got it right with identical scores of 58-55.

With a little more punching power, Benitez has the potential to make a statement in his division.

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