January 27, 2013

The Boys are Back in Boston - Danny O'Connor wins at the Garden

Night at the Fights in Boston
BOSTON, MA -- More than five years have passed since the last time the TD Garden in Boston hosted professional boxing. That was way back on November 6, 2007 for the third season finale of the hit television show, The Contender. On that night, Sakio Bika stopped Jaidon Codrington in a forgotten classic to win the popular boxing reality series.

For fight fans in Beantown, it's been lean times on the local circuit since. Once known as a hub for boxing, the original Boston Garden closed its meat lockers years ago and in its place popped up the squeaky clean Fleet Center, later renamed the TD Banknorth Garden. It is now simply known as the TD Garden. Or as locals call it, the Gahden.

Times have changed but boxing is back in Boston and that's reason to celebrate.

Ward, Pazienza, and Starling sign for fans
Co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment, Warrior Boxing Promotions, and USA Boxing - the TD Garden played host on Saturday, January 26th to a mix of amateur and professional boxing before an enthusiastic crowd of approximately four to five thousand die-hard fight fans. A boxing memorabilia show presented by the Saugus, MA based "Sportsworld" accompanied the matches and lucky fans had the chance to meet and greet with local boxing heroes Micky Ward, Marlon Starling, and Vinny Pazienza. 

In the professional main event, popular Framingham, MA native Danny O'Connor (20-1 w/ 7KOs) battled another local, Derek Silveira (8-1 w/ 4KOs) from Salem, MA, in an exciting junior welterweight contest. The action was fast paced and both fighters had strong support from the crowd. O'Connor controlled the early part of the fight with an aggressive energy that Silveira had trouble keeping up with.

A straight left to the face in the third stunned Silveira and blood leaked from his nose for the rest of the night.

The Bruins are back and so is boxing at the Garden
To his advantage, O'Connor worked the body very well for the first five rounds but inexplicably stopped going downstairs in the sixth, perhaps thinking that Silveira was ready to be taken out. Unfortunately for O'Connor, his gutsy opponent hung in there to hear the final bell. Both fighters were spent in the tenth and it would be fair to say they both left it all in the ring.

"Derek was a tough young opponent. I was getting anxious to knock him out and I got a little away from my game plan. When you look for the knockout instead of letting it come, more often than not, it doesn't come."

Curious majority decision scores in favor of O'Connor were 100-89, 97-93, and 95-95. The fight was by no means a shutout or a draw. From the press section, KO Digest scored the fight 98-92, giving Silveira the ninth and the fourth rounds. A case could be made for scoring an even round in the tenth. Of the three official scores, 97-93 most reflected the reality in the ring. "I didn't see it a draw the way that one judge saw it and I actually went up to him after the fight to ask him about it. He said that's how he saw it, I'm not going to second guess him," said O'Connor at ringside after the fight. 

O'Connor then summed up the feelings that this reporter heard expressed by nearly every local fighter on the card, describing the experience of fighting at the Garden in Boston, "It was amazing. I've been dreaming about this since even before I started boxing. In any sport you compete in, you dream about doing it at the Garden if you're from around here."

With the win at the Garden, O'Connor has now won fights in the Celtics' and Bruins' house, and last year at the New England Patriots' house, Gillette Stadium. Don't be surprised to see O'Connor fighting at Fenway Park someday.

In the co-main event, Quincy, MA's Ryan "The Polish Prince" Kielczewski (15-0 w/ 3KOs) easily stopped the overmatched Washington Hago (5-5 w/ 3KOs) from Woodside, NY. In this lightweight match-up of light hitters, the Prince showed some surprising pop in the second round, ripping wicked combinations to the pudgy body of his bald opponent to score two knockdowns before the white towel came flying into the ring from the Hago corner.  

On the undercard:

Middleweight Russell Lamour (2-0 w/ 1KO) of Portland, ME defeated Luis Viramontes (3-1-1 w/ 1KO) from Brockton, MA by unanimous decision over four rounds. All three judges scored the fight 40-36 for Lamour, who used his jab and straight right hand to easily control his smaller, older, and less fit opponent.

Boston Police Officer Bill Traft (3-0 w/ 1KO) from Dorchester, MA defeated Joe Powers (0-1) from Groton, CT by unanimous decision. Traft gave chase for most of the fight but could not keep Powers in the corner when he had him there. The tide turned a bit in the fourth round but it was too late for Powers in his pro debut. Scores in favor of Traft were 40-36, 40-36, and 39-37.      

In the amateur ranks:

Gerald Schifone W3 Khiary Gray Pitts ~ 165 lb Sr Division Open Class Middleweights
Joe Meuse W3 Ryan White ~ 152 lb Sr Division Open Class Welterweights
Marc Muniz W3 Luca Lo Conte Botis ~ 132 lb Jr Division Open Class Lightweights
Brandon Berry W3 Julio Perez ~ 141 lb Sr Division Open Class Light Welterweights
Elijah Peixoto W3 Tim Ramos ~ 132 lb Sr Division Open Class Lightweights     

Peixoto was awarded the "Outstanding Boxer" of the night award by USA Boxing.

Images & Words by Jeffrey Freeman 

January 25, 2013

Bantamweights & Below - Boxing's Other Five Weight Divisions - Vol. 1

Yota Sato uppercuts Ryo Akaho
By Derek "DBO" Bonnett ~ Upon the arrival of a new boxing year, there is one consistency I look forward to in the first few weeks. Perpetually, the month of January is dominated by lighter weight fighters predominantly from Asia and certainly those outside of the USA. Many titles were on the line and boxing gurus were able to see the Full Monty as various title reigns were extended, ended, and begun.

Still jonesing for a fix of elite action in 2013?

Set your sights on KO Digest's Bantamweights & Below monthly wrap-up and you'll get exactly what you need. This month's volume pays close attention to the many match-ups involving fighters from Japan and the world's best at super flyweight.

Bantamweights & Below: World Class Boxing Monthly Wrap-Up

On December 31st 2012, just as the new year was about to turn over, Yota Sato, 28, won a unanimous decision over Ryo Akaho in a twelve round WBC super flyweight title bout. The action was typical Sato, which featured high volume punching and a lot of in-fighting. The bout was competitive, but decisive in favor of Sato. The three cards favored the champion 118-110, 117-111, and 117-112. Sato made the second defense of his belt and lifted his resume to 26-2-1 (12). Akaho fell to 19-1-2 (12).

With wins over Vic Darchinyan and Tomas Rojas, Sato kept busy and figures to have a strong showing in 2013. Sato claimed the number one spot among my top 115-pounders. You'll find out just why in a second.

Kohei Kono stuns Tepparith Singwancha
On the same card, Tepparith Singwancha, my previously number one ranked 115-pounder, suffered a surprise fourth round KO loss to Japan's Kohei Kono in a WBA super flyweight title bout. Kono, 32, dropped Singwancha three times in the fourth round. The end came at the 2:08 mark. Kono captured his first world title in his third crack at a super flyweight title. His dossier now stands at 28-7 (11). Singwancha fell to 21-3 (13).

Kono crashed my super flyweight rankings by debuting at the fourth spot. Just three wins removed from a three fight losing streak, Kono has upset the balance of the division. Singwancha, whom I would have favored over anyone in the division prior to this fight, fell from first to sixth due to the rough nature of the loss and the competitive standings of the division's elite. Kono's win also upped Yota Sato's stock in the division, since Sato posted a clear-cut unanimous decision over Kono back in 2011. The win backed enough residual impact to justify Sato taking over the top ranking in the division. However, Omar Narvaez and Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. also reside in the same weight class and there is plenty of room for debate over who exactly is the top dog at super flyweight.

Ioka drops Rodriguez in six
Also on this date (12/31/12) in Osaka, Japan, Kazuto Ioka stopped Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in six rounds for the vacant WBA junior flyweight title. Ioka made his debut in the division after vacating his WBA and WBC strawweight titles in 2012. Rodriguez hit the canvas in the first round and twice more in the sixth before the bout was halted at the 2:50 mark. Ioka claimed his third world title belt in his second division. His record improved to 11-0 (7). Rodriguez dipped to 28-2 (17).

Ioka, the nephew of strawweight/junior flyweight great Hiroki Ioka, is one of those special fighters like a Jeff Fenech, who captured a world title early and has faced world class opposition since his fourth professional outing. His win here was an excellent follow-up to his 2012 Fight of the Year (FOTY) candidate against Akira Yaegashi and might just put him at the head of the line to face Roman Gonzalez in 2013.

Ioka, 23, entered my junior flyweight rankings at five after giving up number one status at strawweight.As good as Ioka may be, he will find the opposition at 108 to be an even greater challenge with Gonzalez, Adrian Hernandez, Kompayak Porpramook, and Ulises Solis ahead of him in my rankings.

On January 5th 2013, at Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan, Ioka's nemesis, Akira Yaegashi stopped Saenmuangloei Kokietgym in the ninth round of a flyweight bout. The end came at 2:52. Yaegashi won for the first time since losing a narrow decision to Kazuto Ioka in that 2012 FOTY contender. His resume advanced to 16-3 (9). Kokietgym fell to 15-5-3 (3). The impact of the win is minimal, but Yaegashi is a major player at strawweight even though he fought above that weight limit. Yaegashi remained my ranked fourth at strawweight for now, but it is uncertain whether he will return to that weight anytime soon when you see what is On the Horizon.

Adrian Hernandez
On January 12th 2013, in Toluca, Mexico, Mexico, the previously mentioned Adrian Hernandez defeated Dircu Carbaca in a twelve round WBC light flyweight title bout. All three judges favored the champion by scores of 119-112, 118-108, and 117-110. Hernandez notched the first defense of his second reign as WBC champion and raised his ledger to 26-2-1 (16). Carbaca fell to 13-7 (5) as an unheralded challenger.

Hernandez held his number two ranking among my top 108-pounders, but, like super flyweight, it just might prove to be a slippery slope. Hernandez is 1-1 with Kompayak Porpramook since 2011. A third installment is highly warranted as Kompayak rallied to take the title in the first encounter and Hernandez may have benefitted from a hasty stoppage in the return bout. Settling that rivalry should be top priority for both men as I have them ranked back to back in the division beneath Roman Gonzalez.

Also on January 12th, at Foro Polanco, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico, Juan Jose Montes was defeated by Martin Casillas in a twelve round bantamweight bout. Casillas won the split decision by scores of 97-93 twice along with a dissenting 95-96. Casillas raised his record to 12-2 (8). Montes dipped to 23-3-1 (14). After the loss, Montes was removed from my super flyweight rankings due to the loss and his not making 115 pounds in over a year. Ryo Akaho, who lost to Yota Sato, filled the void at number ten. The fight was significant because Montes was to be named the fighter most deserving of a title shot in his division had he won! Casillas ended a nice run here, but, as bantamweights, both men have more work to do before they can enter my top ten divisional rankings.

Bantamweights & Below Featured Rankings: Super Flyweight (115 lbs.)

1. Yota Sato ~ Japan ~ 26-2-1 (12) ~ WBC
2. Omar Narvaez ~ Argentina  ~ 38-1-2 (20) ~ WBO
3. Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. ~  Mexico ~ 15-1-1 (8) ~ IBF
4. Kohei Kono ~ Japan ~ 28-7-0 (11) ~ WBA
5. Tepparith Singwancha ~ Thailand ~ 21-3-0 (13)   
6. Oleydong Sithsamerchai ~ Thailand ~ 45-1-1 (16)   
7. Rodrigo Guerrero ~ Mexico ~ 18-4-1 (12)   
8. Carlos Cuadras ~ Mexico ~ 27-0-0 (22)   
9. Victor Zaleta ~ Mexico ~ 20-3-1 (10)   
10. Ryo Akaho ~ Japan ~ 19-1-2 (12)   

Bantamweights & Below: Give That Man a Title Shot!

Oleydong Sithsamerchai
Had Juan Jose Montes won that split decision over Martin Casillas, his name would be featured here this month, but, as fate would have it, Thailand's Oleydong Sithsamerchai gets my vote for most deserving of a title shot in the super flyweight division.

Since losing his strawweight title to Kazuto Ioka by fifth round stoppage in February 2011, the Thai boxer has put together a run of ten straight victories in a relatively short span of time. In passing over 108 and 112 pounds, Sithsamerchai has truly found a home at super flyweight by posting credible wins over Mark Geraldo, Hayato Kimura, and Hiroyuki Hisataka. Having won four WBC international title bouts, this regional title should position him for a crack at this organization's world variety in 2013.

Bantamweights & Below: On the Horizon

Right around the corner on January 26, Hugo Fidel Cazares, 37-7-2 (26), will meet Rey Perez at Gimnasio Manuel Bernardo Aguirre in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico. Perez, 17-2 (3), will meet Cazares at the bantamweight limit.

Possibly for March 2, Donnie Nietes, 31-1-3 (17), will defend his WBO light flyweight title against reigning WBO strawweight champion Moises Fuentes. Fuentes, 16-1 (8), is coming off a career best win over the recently retired Ivan Calderon.

Shinsuke Yamanaka
Just announced this week, an April 8 world title tripleheader is planned in Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan with two bouts coming up strongly on the Bantamweights & Below radar. First, Shinsuke Yamanaka, 17-0-2 (12), will defend his WBC bantamweight title for the third time against number one ranked Malcolm Tunacao. Tunacao's record reads 32-2-3 (20) after winning a title eliminator in December.

In addition, WBC flyweight champion, Toshiyuki Igarashi, 17-1-1 (10), will defend his title for the second time against former strawweight titlist Akira Yaegashi, 16-3 (9), who will be moving up two weight classes. Igarashi won his title and defended it for the first time with split and majority wins, so the Akira defense should prove to be another close affair.

Written by Derek "DBO" Bonnett exclusively for KO Digest 

January 11, 2013

The KO Digest 2012 Boxing Year End Review & Awards

By Jeffrey Freeman -- 2012 was a tragic (yet still terrific) year for the sport of boxing - twelve rounds of ups and downs inside and outside the ring. Great wins and terrible losses struck with an unpredictable accuracy. Boxing's biggest money star Floyd Mayweather served 60 days in jail for domestic abuse, but not before he abused Miguel Cotto in his one and only ring appearance. Adrien "The Problem" Broner punched his way to stardom on HBO while Paul "The Punisher" Williams was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident. Across the pond, Carl "The Cobra" Froch bounced back against Lucian Bute while Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton got bounced back out in tears. It was a year of good and bad, both happy and sad.

Unfortunately, not everyone heard the final bell. More than any other year in recent memory, boxing said too many goodbyes and tolled too many final 10-counts among its pantheon of legends. Angelo Dundee, Bert Randolph Sugar, Goody Petronelli, Johnny Tapia, Don Fullmer, Corrie Sanders, Andy Ganigan, Eddie Perkins, Michael Dokes, Teófilo Stevenson, Carmen Basilio, and Hector Camacho were all lost in 2012 but perhaps no loss was felt as deeply by the boxing community as was the death of Emanuel Steward on October the 25th of a bittersweet year for KRONK boxing history.

As a metaphor for the year, consider that the legendary Thomas "Hitman" Hearns was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) in Canastota, NY on a beautiful weekend in June - the same weekend that Manny Pacquiao was screwed by the judges against Tim "Desert Storm" Bradley in Vegas. Sadly, Steward was too ill to attend the induction ceremony of his greatest, most beloved fighter. That's the kind of year it was. Mercifully, the boxing Gods answered in December when Arturo "Thunder" Gatti was posthumously elected to the IBHOF on the first ballot. Another sign fom above came when heavyweight KRONK protege Johnathon Banks upset the undefeated Seth "Mayhem" Mitchell on HBO in a fitting tribute to his deceased mentor Emanuel Steward.

2012 Controversy of the Year - Judges Beat Pacquiao in Vegas
In the ring, things started out slowly in 2012. Big fights fell apart and didn't happen. Such was the case with Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto's rematch not once but twice. Yuriorkis Gamboa vs Brandon Rios anyone? Still a mystery how we lost that one. Canelo Alvarez vs Victor Ortiz? Josesito Lopez broke that up - literally.

Then there was the Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan rematch, scrapped when Peterson apparently failed to disclose "medical" use of testosterone. Well known fighters were testing positive for performance enhancing drugs at an alarming rate and scoring controversies had fans furious. The Sweet Science saw some serious stumbles along the way in 2012 and things were looking pretty bleak - particularly after the judges robbed Pacquiao against Bradley in June to set off the controversy of the year.

Thankfully, the reports of boxing's demise were as ever - greatly exaggerated.

Somehow,  the second half of 2012 more than made up for all that sadness and disappointment. World Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez and brash young challenger Julio Cesar Chavez Jr gave fans an excellent fight and a classic final round to remember. Andre Ward crucified light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson and made him surrender on his feet after Bad Chad challenged the Son of God for Ward's world super middleweight title. Adrien Broner turned in a masterful performance, rendering Antonio DeMarco defenseless to win the WBC lightweight championship. Wisely, Broner left the hairbrush at home in Cincinnati and let his fists do the talking in the ring. Abner Mares proved that he's the most serious threat to Nonito Donaire at super bantamweight with a hard charging rout of Anselmo Moreno. Austin Trout impressively defeated Miguel Cotto and "No Doubt" took a giant step away from the anonymity which had plagued his career and haunted his dreams. Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero proved that he's a real welterweight to be reckoned with by brutally beating down Andre Berto.

And of course, Manny Pacquiao caught the shot heard 'round the world courtesy of Juan Manuel Marquez.

4th time is a charm - JMM KO's the Pacman
2012 was a year where the choice for Fighter of the Year wasn't quite so obvious and the same could be said about the Fight of the Year. It's nice to have choices though, isn't it? Were you most impressed last year by the accomplishments of Danny Garcia, Nonito Donaire, or Juan Manuel Marquez? Was Andre Ward's one sensational win over Chad Dawson enough to earn him back to back Fighter of the Year honors?

For fights, did you like the March rematch between Orlando Salido and Juan Manuel Lopez best or was your favorite fight of 2012 the pound for pound war between Marquez and Pacquiao? Was the real "war" the October firefight fought by Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado or did Robert Guerrero and Andre Berto redefine gloved combat with their 12-round battle of attrition in the trenches last November? Yes indeed, it's nice to have choices.

Enjoy now as we take a look back at the best (and worst) boxing had to offer last year and proudly present the Second Annual KO Digest Year End Boxing Awards.

Round of the Year: Sergio Martinez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr - Round 12

For eleven and a half rounds, the Champion was having his way with the challenger. It looked for all the world to see like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr would lose a decision to Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez without being able duplicate his father's last round heroics against Meldrick Taylor back in 1990. Then suddenly, it was 1990 all over again! Almost.

Chavez Jr drops Martinez in the 12th
As if animated by performance enhancing DNA in the 12th, Chavez Jr came alive and came of age. The subtle pressure he was applying finally payed off. A wide right hand stunned Martinez and maniacal left hand follow ups from Chavez Jr deposited Maravilla on the canvas with less than ninety second left in the fight. Bravely, a bloody Martinez beat the count and refused to hold, instead electing to trade with Chavez Jr. "Shades of Meldrick Taylor and his father!" screamed HBO announcer Max Kellerman as Chavez Jr tried in vain to knock out a tired and badly hurt Martinez late in the last round. The bell for the end of the fight finally came but not before both fighters traded bombs like Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward!

The historically symbolic drama which unfolded in the 12th round earned Chavez Jr new found respect and to be perfectly honest - the right to his own name. In doing so, the kid with the pink underwear officially became a fighter - graduating to the big time by winning the championship rounds against the real middleweight champion in Chavez Jr's first true championship fight. For pure drama and excitement, nothing in the past year tops that three minutes of boxing. The nerve-racking 12th round of Martinez W12 Chavez Jr is the clear and obvious choice for KO Digest 2012 Round of the Year.

The Best of the Rest: Orlando Salido-Juan Manuel Lopez (9), Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao (5), and Brandon Rios-Mike Alvarado (5).   

Upset of the Year: Josesito Lopez TKO9 Victor Ortiz    

Vicious Victor Ortiz was supposed to fight Andre Berto again in 2012. Twice the fight was called off.

First Berto hurt his shoulder last January and then he tested positive for steroids in May.

Light hitting junior welterweight Josesito Lopez was brought in to replace Berto under the foolproof promotional proposition that after Ortiz slaughtered the sacrificial lamb, the Vicious One would face Canelo Alvarez in a big money blockbuster fight in September. None of that happened. Lopez promised to beat the heavily favored (naturally bigger) Ortiz and the lively underdog took offense to the notion that his defeat was a foregone conclusion.

Vicious Upset - Ortiz gets his jaw busted by Josesito
"I find it disrespectful to announce the Canelo-Ortiz fight ahead of time. It just gives me more motivation. It’s no secret that Victor Ortiz has a weak chin and I plan to exploit it. I’ll be looking for the knockout. The result is going to surprise everyone."

So what did Lopez do in the fight of his life? He took the best punches Ortiz had to offer. He absorbed the most flagrant rabbit punch Ortiz could commit. He channeled his inner Rocky. Then he broke Ortiz's jaw and pulled off the 2012 KO Digest Upset of the Year when to the surprise of everyone - and no one - Victor Ortiz surrendered in the corner, ahead on the scorecards. 

Lopez went on to take Ortiz's place against Alvarez in September, falling courageously in five rounds but not before scoring the most satisfying win of his career in June. "I told everybody I was going to shock the world against Ortiz. Was I ever ready to quit? Hell no! I don't quit. I'm the Mexican Paul Williams."

In 2012, Josesito Lopez was also the Mexican Rocky Balboa and his win over Ortiz was the Upset of the Year! 

Best of the Rest: Sonny Boy Jaro TKO6 Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Danny Garcia TKO4 Amir Khan, Tim  Bradley W12 Manny Pacquiao, and Johnathon Banks KO2 Seth Mitchell.

Knockout of the Year: Juan Manuel Marquez KO6 Manny Pacquiao

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat
An unexpectedly great fight through five rounds and fifty nine seconds, Marquez lowered the boom on Pacquiao in the 6th with a right hand shot for the ages. With just one second left in the round, Marquez did the unthinkable, catching the onrushing Pacman flush with a perfect right hand punch. The effect of the impact was instantaneous and Pacquiao stumbled to the canvas face first as if tripped.

At the sight of his prone opponent motionless on the canvas, Marquez quickly realized what he'd just done and he raised his right fist in celebration.

As the KO Digest 2012 Knockout of the Year, this was an easy choice. The well timed right hand from Marquez that landed on the face of Pacquiao in the 6th round of their fourth fight altered boxing history and forever changed the dynamic between these two familiar rivals. After three previous fights and thirty six rounds of boxing, fight fans can be forgiven if they were getting a little tired of this matchup.

Their apology came in the form of a knockout that will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it.

The Best of the Rest: Mikkel Kessler KO4 Allan Green, Randall Bailey KO11 Mike Jones, Nonito Donaire KO3 Jorge Arce, Danny Garcia KO4 Erik Morales, and  Adonis Stevenson KO1 Jesus Gonzales.

Fight of the Year: Juan Manuel Marquez KO6 Manny Pacquiao 

"We'll wait to see what happens on December 8th. We might go forward. We might stop." 

A True Superfight
With these words to the media before his fourth (and final?) fight against Manny Pacquiao, the 39 year old Mexican warrior Juan Manuel Marquez was being clear about one thing - leaving his future options wide open. After what transpired in the ring, those options now seem unlimited. For the record, what happened on December 8th was pure vindication for Marquez, instant karma for Pacquiao, and the KO Digest 2012 Fight of the Year. Strange days indeed.

In a year full of great fights, what set this one apart?

In a word - significance. This was the biggest fight of the year, featuring two pound-for-pound rated warriors. The action was as brutal as it was brisk and both fighters were knocked down before the finish came in the 6th round. In almost all the ways we keep score in boxing, Marquez's fight against (and definitive knockout of) Pacquiao was as close to Marvelous Marvin Hagler's third round destruction of Thomas Hearns as any fight we've seen since their 1985 war. This was high stakes on boxing's biggest stage. It was a violent back and fourth slugfest featuring two of boxing's finest pugilists.

When it ended, it did so conclusively - by brutal knockout.

The result immediately redefined the winner and forever sealed his place in boxing history.

Down goes Pacquiao in the 3rd
After controlling the first two rounds with his trademark frenetic style, Pacquiao got a rude awakening in the 3rd round when an overhand right to the chin knocked him off his feet. It was the first time in four fights that Marquez was able to knock Pacquiao down and it was a harbinger of things to come.

The 4th round featured excellent action and in the 5th, Pacquiao added ebb and flow to the equation by scoring a knockdown of his own off a straight left hand, the effect of which caused Marquez's glove to touch the canvas. In what would turn out to be his last hurrah, Pacquiao then shattered Marquez's nose with a nasty right hook intended to end the fight.

In the 6th, Marquez punched his way into the history books, leaving Pacquiao out cold, flat on his face, victim of a perfectly timed right hand with just one second left in the round. There was no need to count. With a single shot - Marquez exorcised all his Pacquiao demons, scored the Knockout of the Year, won the Fight of the Year, and he made a very strong case for Fighter of the Year despite only fighting twice in 2012.

Knocking out Manny Pacquiao in December makes up for even the slowest of years.

JMM celebrates the KO of the Year in the Fight of the Year
As classy in defeat as he ever was in victory, Pacquiao said after the fight, "First and foremost I would like to thank God for keeping Marquez and me safe during our fight. I want to congratulate Juan Manuel. I have no excuses. It was a good fight. He deserved the victory. I think boxing fans who watched us were winners too."

All that we admire about boxers and boxing was on display in the now historic fourth fight between Marquez and Pacquiao - the KO Digest 2012 Fight of the Year.

The Best of the Rest: Brandon Rios TKO7 Mike Alvarado, Robert Guerrero W12 Andre Berto, Orlando Salido TKO10 Juan Manuel Lopez, and Sergio Martinez W12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Co-Fighters of the Year: Nonito Donaire and Juan Manuel Marquez

Donaire caps off a great 2012 with KO of Jorge Arce
If Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao took fans back to 1985 with their Hagler-Hearns like war, then Marquez and Nonito Donaire also took fans back to 1985 with their respective cases for Fighter of the Year honors. Longtime fans will remember that back in 1985, Marvin Hagler only fought once, scoring a 3rd round knockout of Thomas Hearns to defend the world middleweight championship in one of the most memorable fights of all time.

That same year, unbeaten pound-for-pound star Donald Curry won four fights by knockout and made two successful defenses of the welterweight championship including a sensational 2nd round win over Milton McCrory to unify the title. For only the fourth time in their long history, Ring Magazine split their Fighter of the Year award between two fighters - Hagler and Curry.

In 2012, history appears to have repeated itself.  

Marquez played the role of Hagler, competing twice in the year but only once in a fight that actually mattered. Coming off a disputed decision loss to Pacquiao in their third fight at the end of 2011, Marquez began 2012 with an April win over somebody named Serhiy Fedchenko for something called the interim WBO junior welterweight title.

The Pacman walks into the perfect punch
In December, Marquez made history and he also made a good case for Fighter of the Year with his dramatic 6th round knockout of Pacquiao. Was it enough?

Does winning the Fight of the Year and scoring the Knockout of the Year guarantee Marquez Fighter of the Year? In any other year, maybe. But not in 2012. Marquez will have to split that honor with the other Filipino superstar in boxing - Nonito Donaire.

The Filipino Flash had an outstanding 2012 reminiscent of Cobra Curry in 1985, winning four super bantamweight title fights on HBO against quality opponents Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, Jeffrey Mathebula, Toshiaki Nishioka, and Jorge Arce. Two of those wins came by stoppage and immediately retired the victims (TKO6 Nishioka & KO3 Arce) while the other two wins came in dominating fashion but went the distance. All four fighters were knocked down at least once (and Mathebula's jaw was broken) by the hard hitting but bloody handed Donaire. As a busy frontline soldier in the battle against performance enhancing drugs in boxing, Donaire was also the only fighter in 2012 to undergo rigorous and random Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) style drug testing.

By submitting to such invasive testing, Donaire demonstrated a willingness to prove that he's a clean fighter in the tainted era of steroid abuse. Perhaps more than anything, boxing needs a fighter like Donaire to lead others by example.

By facing (and flattening) Pacquiao, Marquez showed his willingness to prove that he's a great fighter in the frustrating modern era where the best are all too often unwilling to face the best. Marquez, like Donaire - leads by example. It's exactly what boxing needs. 

Best of the Rest: Danny Garcia, Andre Ward, Sergio Martinez, and Adrien Broner.

Robbery of the Year: Brandon Rios W12 Richard Abril 

Believe it or not, the worst robbery of the year wasn't the job the judges pulled on Manny Pacquiao against Tim Bradley in Vegas. That should tell you how bad the scoring was when Brandon Rios "beat" Richard Abril by split decision last April in the aptly named City of Sin. The fight was supposed to be for the vacant WBA lightweight title belt that Rios lost on the scale in his previous fight for failing to make weight. He failed to make weight for this fight as well and the title was only at stake for Abril, if he won.

2012 Robbery of the Year - Rios "W12" Abril  
This one wasn't even close. For twelve rounds, all Abril did was hit Rios and make him miss. That's the point of boxing, to hit and not be hit. Somebody tell that to the judges. Rios appeared to win no more than two rounds and as fans waited for the decision to be read, it was inconceivable to think that Rios could somehow pull this fight out on the cards. Then came the announcement.

Adalaide Byrd scored the fight 117-111 for Abril.

OK, that's reasonable.

Glenn Trowbridge saw it 115-113 for Rios. Whoa, what's that stench?

Jerry Roth then completed the robbery with his ridiculous 116-112 score in favor of Rios.

Not only was Abril robbed of the win and the WBA lightweight title, he was also robbed of the fifty thousand dollar incentive bonus that was being offered by Top Rank to the winner of the fight. The badly victimized Abril summed it after the crime by saying, "I won this fight. The decision was a disgrace."

Yes, and yes.

Bam Bam (thank you Bob) Rios was very lucky to escape with the "win" and he partially redeemed himself by scoring a sensational 7th round TKO win over Mike Alvarado in October. Still, nobody who saw it will ever forget how badly Rios needed the judges (and Uncle Bob) to bail him out against Abril.

Worst of the Rest: Tim Bradley W12 Manny Pacquiao (Top Rank) & Tavoris Cloud W12 Gabriel Campillo (Don King).

Prospect of the Year: Keith Thurman

Thurman trains with dreams of Paulie on his mind
Prospects in boxing sometimes fly under the radar. Such was the case in 2012 with hard punching junior middleweight Keith "One Time" Thurman. Sidelined for all of 2011 with a hand injury, the undefeated (19-0, 18 KOs) twenty four year old fighter from Clearwater, Florida began his fifth year as a pro by defeating two nondescript opponents inside the distance. Neither comeback win resonated particularly well with the boxing public at large and that small blip on the radar screen continued to fly unnoticed.  

Things began to change dramatically for the Al Haymon managed Thurman in the second half of the year as he was scheduled to face Marcos Maidana in July. Unfortunately for Thurman, Maidana pulled out the fight leaving "One Time" to face the relatively unknown Orlando Lora in Thurman's first appearance on HBO. Thurman beat Lora by 6th round TKO and still continued to fly under the radar.

Finally - in July - the world took notice when Thurman destroyed the usually durable Carlos Quintana on HBO, scoring a 4th round TKO so overwhelming that Quintana immediately announced his retirement from boxing after the fight. That's how you get out from under the radar and get noticed.

One Time shows his power against Quintana
The win had boxing fans buzzing about a "new" prospect with crippling power. Here at KO Digest, we featured Thurman in a new column focusing on boxing's brightest up and comers. Thurman certainly fits the bill. In just one fight, One Time made quite an impression. He is the 2012 KO Digest Prospect of the Year.       

"2012 was a really fantastic year. We were able to pull off four fights, four KO victories and the two appearances on HBO. I think it's been perfect. Where I'm at in my career I'm ready to make moves, ready to get my foot in the door, whether that be at 147 or 154 lbs."

And how would Thurman like to follow up his coming out party in 2012?

"I wanna slap Paulie Malignaggi up. I definitely want that fight right there!"

Best of the Rest: David Price, Deontay Wilder, and Bryant Jennings.

Comeback of the Year: Devon Alexander

Alexander the Not So Great in 2011
Even though he officially lost only once in 2011, it was still a rough year for Alexander The Great. First there was the junior welterweight unification fight against Tim Bradley that Alexander lost when a clash of heads caused him to decide he couldn't continue during the 10th round. It was a disappointing finish to a disappointing fight.

The loss left Alexander an ex-champion with a lot on his mind.

"I definitely have regrets on not continuing against Bradley but we have to take those risks. It's a learning lesson for me. This is boxing and you're going to have circumstances that you've got to get through when you're inside them four corners. I'm getting older and I'm still learning. I just turned 25. What are you going to do?"

Come back of course, and that's exactly what Alexander did in his next fight of 2011 against the tough Argentinian Lucas Matthysse. Though he pulled out a split decision win against Matthysse, many ringsiders considered the fight to be a questionable (bad) decision and unfortunately, Alexander never really got credit for the win. To many observers, it was as though Alexander lost twice in 2011. As a boxer with a less than scintillating style, Alexander was in danger of being forgotten by fight fans.

In 2012, Alexander moved up to welterweight and won twice. Nobody disputed the decisions. In February, there was a unanimous points win over another tough Argentinian, Marcos Maidana. It was a very impressive performance by Alexander as he not only outboxed Maidana, he outfought him as well, hurting him more than once.

Alexander beats the Knock-Out King for the IBF title
The Maidana win earned Alexander the Great a shot at IBF welterweight champion Randall "The Knock-Out King" Bailey in October. Twelve rounds and forty five landed punches later, Alexander was the new champ after a nifty display of boxing against one of the hardest hitter in the sport. The win set Alexander up for a big fight title defense against British sensation Kell Brook in 2013.

By reestablishing himself as one of the best young fighters in boxing, Devon Alexander is the KO Digest 2012 Comeback Fighter of the Year. "I lived to see another day. I'm back on top at 147 and here it comes back full circle."

Best of the Rest: Danny Jacobs, Alfredo Angulo, and Arthur Abraham.

Bam Bam Rios met his own expectations in 2012

Quote of the Year: "I'm expecting a bloody massacre. I love hitting people in the face and I love getting hit!"Sadomasochistic slugger Brandon Rios describing to the media before the fight what he expected against Mike Alvarado.

January 9, 2013

Bantamweights & Below - Boxing's Other Five Weight Divisions

IBF Bantamweight Champion Leo Santa Cruz
By Derek Bonnett ~ A lot of fans of the Sweet Science inside the USA claim to be diehard aficionados, but their scope often tends to be a little antiquated in that they hold onto to the old tradition that boxing only has eight weight classes. However, I am not talking about a purist's perspective of the good 'ole days of heavyweight to flyweight. No, that's not my point at all. Today, far too many American fans are neglecting to note myriad top performers below the lightweight division.

Why is this happening? Well, mostly because the USA has not produced flocks of talent below 135 pounds for some time. Every now and then a little man garners attention, but it is few and far between copious lesser talented heavyweight plodders or overhyped prospects. Boxing's lightest divisions are dominated by fighters from Asia and Central and South America, who do not get equivalent face time on ESPN, HBO, or Showtime. It's a shame really since American fans are presently missing out on our own Brian Viloria, who is in the middle of a career best run. Nicaragua's Roman Gonzalez just might be the second coming of Ricardo Lopez, but no American promotional company has made an effort to showcase him. Shinsuke Yamanaka and Yota Sato are damn impressive, but relatively unknown commodities to the majority of American fans.

World-wide, these fighters and far more are getting noticed, but it's time American boxing fans became familiar with boxing's lightest stars from abroad. Now, each month of 2013, KO Digest will seek to remedy this trend with the month's top performers in the lightest divisions. From bantamweight and below, these fighters had stand-out 2012 performances.

Thankfully, Leo Santa Cruz is beginning to create his own buzz at 118-pounds after fighting five times in 2012. His most recent showing on CBS was a huge step in the right direction thanks to a collaborative effort from Showtime. However, Santa Cruz is not the fighter fans have been missing out on. It's Japan's Shinsuke Yamanaka or "the other guy to completely outbox Vic Darchinyan for twelve rounds". Yamanaka, 30, posted two impressive 2012 victories to bolster his resume and add two defenses to his WBC bantamweight title reign. Darchinyan was the first as the champion won by unanimous decision. The second was a KO of the Year contender few American fight fans got to see. Just a matter of weeks back in November, Yamanaka scored a crunching seventh round KO of Tomas Rojas with a sweeping left cross. The punch folded up the Mexican former world champion to the canvas without hope of ever beating the count. Yamanaka enters 2013 with a record of 17-0-2 (12) and is must see talent.

Yota Sato
Yota Sato had a huge 2012 for a 115-pound fighter. Also hailing from Japan, Sato won three bouts last year including his title winning effort against Suriyan Sor Rungvisai. I viewed the win as an upset since I had not previously been exposed to Sato much outside of my own reading. However, Sato followed up the win with two clear-cut decisions over highly rated contenders Sylvester Lopez and Ryo Akaho. Sato applies a fun fan-friendly style and grinds away at his opponents with a high-volume attack.

At twenty-eight the WBC super flyweight champion is primed to take on a host of other top performers in his division such as Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr., Omar Narvaez, and the rising Carlos Cuadras. At 26-2-1 (12), Sato should be surfacing on the boxing radars world-wide.

Brian Viloria is a familiar name for boxing fans in the USA since he represented our Olympic team back in 2000. However, the last time we actually saw Viloria on a U.S. televised card was back when he was failing to live up to his potential. In recent form, Viloria could easily have been 2011's Comeback Fighter of the Year and a dark-horse candidate for Fighter of the Year in 2012. The Filipino holds dual citizenship in the USA and Philippines and should be on the same level as we hailed Michael Carbajal in the 1990s. In fact, like Manny Pacquiao, Viloria has become quite the Mexi-cutioner with wins over Hernan Marquez, Omar Nino Romero, Giovanni Segura, Julio Cesar Miranda, and Ulises Solis. At thirty-two, an age when most flyweights are ready to hang up the gloves, Viloria has put together a lighter weight renaissance. Going into 2013 with a 32-3 (19) dossier, Viloria could be eying a possible 112-pound Super Fight of the same caliber as Carbajal-Gonzalez or Alvarez-Lopez II. 

Roman Gonzalez
Roman Gonzalez is the latest standout fighter in a division which proudly boasted the names Michael Carbajal, Humberto Gonzalez, and Ricardo Lopez. Nicaragua's Gonzalez is unbeaten 34-0 (28) and after four wins in 2012 seems poised to break into a more mainstream audience. Like Lopez, Gonzalez punches with extreme precision and does not waste a punch. His power is so debilitating, be it a shot to the body or an uppercut to the chin, his opponents earn a moral victory simply for lasting the distance. Twice in 2012, Gonzalez was featured on boxing cards in California, but neither was broadcast outside of internet coverage. Again, it's a step in the right direction, but, at twenty-five, Gonzalez is in his prime and shouldn't have to be relegated to Youtube sensation status in the USA.

Don't be misguided, there are plenty more standout talents dwelling in the shadows of heavy and middleweight fighters. This was a mere recap of just some of the best fighters at bantamweight and below in 2012. Each month at KO Digest, I will dig deeper to shed some light upon these less familiar treasures of the Sweet Science. 

Written by Derek "DBO" Bonnett exclusively for KO Digest

January 1, 2013

KO Digest Interview - Hank Lundy: "I won’t run from anybody!"

Hammerin Hank Lundy
Fighters fight. It’s hardly a mystery.

The intrinsic nature of boxing is a one on one battle of wills, the ultimate test of physical and mental fortitude. For most fighters of any era, the treacherous terrain that leads to the ring is one filled with unglamorous bumps that threaten to jeopardize hopes, ambitions, and dreams. Former WBO NABO and NABF lightweight champion Hank Lundy knows firsthand that a life in the fight game tests the stamina and will of anyone regardless of fame or stature.

First, it was a battle on the football field and the fight to attend college. Next, a confrontation in the Philadelphia schoolyard that led Lundy to a boxing gym for the first time. Over the years the followed, Lundy honed his craft inside the ring with stout amateur experience and a professional record of 22-2-1, with 11 wins coming by way of knockout. But with a title fight looming against feared 140 pounder Lucas Matthysse, Lundy fights himself once against mired in the midst of a match outside the ring.

A fierce and vitriolic feud with ex-manager Ivan Cohen has resulted in a hotly contested court case, and a cancellation of a much anticipated January showdown on Showtime in Los Angeles. As Lundy attempts to pick up the pieces following his recent disappointments, which include a nationally televised upset loss to Ray Beltran, he will need to show the grit and determination synonymous with Philadelphia fighter lore.

Hank Lundy has been knocked down, but it’s time to get up and fight on. 

Beltran beats Lundy on ESPN Friday Night Fights
KO Digest: You grew up in Philadelphia, a city that has produced many great fighters over the years. But, boxing didn’t enter the equation until later in life—before stepping into the ring, you stepped onto the field as a football player.

Hank Lundy: I was a high school football star in high school, where I played linebacker and running back. Kutztown University offered me a scholarship to play football, and told my aunt that if she could pay half of the tuition up front, then I would get a full ride. But my aunt took on the responsibility of raising four kids because my mother was always in and out of the hospital, and I didn’t want to put any more stress on her. My aunt couldn’t afford to send both me and my sister to college, so I told her to send my sister, Muneerah, and I would find another way. 

KOD: Your fighting career got off to a bit of an unceremonious start with a confrontation with a schoolyard bully when you were a teenager. Growing up, was conflict of this sort a common occurrence in the daily life of Hank Lundy?

HL: Growing up in Philadelphia, fighting was a way to maintain dominance on the streets, and because I could fight, and even though it got me into some trouble, I actually stayed out of trouble too and became pretty popular. One day, I had a crazy altercation in the schoolyard and I ended up knocking a guy out, so I ran home and told my uncle. Right away, he took me to the gym, and ever since then I’ve been fighting. 

KOD: Many people in general, not just exclusive to athletes, can single out a particular moment when an occupational revelation occurs, and they know what exactly their calling is in this life. When did you know that a boxing ring is where you belonged?

Sugar Shane inspired Hammerin Hank
HL: Even when I was playing football, I always wanted to box. As a kid, I watched a lot of Showtime and HBO, and “Sugar” Shane Mosley was one of my idols. Shane was a guy with will and determination that’s right around my height, had fast hands, and he could move and punch. I was always good at fighting, and the day I fought the bully in the schoolyard was the start of it all.      

KOD: In the amateur ranks, you compiled a record of 65-5, winning the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves in 2003 and a silver medal at the National Golden Gloves two years later. Was the general consensus of those associated with you at the time that you would move on to big things professionally just a few short years later?

HL: I learned that hard work pays off. That’s always been a motto that I live by. I was a small guy on the football field, but I always put the hard work in, and that led me to a starting position. That same hard work and determination applies to the gym and my fighting career, and people noticed.    

KOD: Much contention has been raised about the ineffectiveness of the amateur scoring system, highlighted during the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Do you feel that, under the status quo, amateur boxing is proficient in creating professional fighters and cultivating their skills?

HL: In the fights that you see, you’ve got big punchers, who typically do well in the pros, and you have guys that can’t punch but can box. In the amateurs, you need to have the boxing ability to score and win fights, so guys learn that and it actually helps you out.   

KOD: Growing up in a family that, at times, experienced financial strains, you never attended college despite a scholarship offer from Kutztown University. With your roots firmly planted in a city that seems to breed so many graduates in the so called “school of hard knocks,” what sort of an impact can you say that your upbringing in Philadelphia had on you?  

Hard work and dedication pays off for Hank
HL: One of the key things that I always tell kids growing up today is that if you work hard, use your mind, and are determined, you can accomplish a lot in life. I’m not going to tell anyone that you don’t need school to be successful like I am. I wish I had gone to school and had the chance to earn a degree, but that’s one of the things I had to sacrifice to grow in boxing. To be successful in that environment, you need to dare to be different. Don’t let anybody tell you can’t do something. You can be from the hood, but that doesn’t mean you need to be “of the hood.” There are a lot of people both then and now that we can call “the haters.” The stuff I hear from them keeps me motivated. A lot of people have said that I’m going to lose, but I need people like them in my life to keep me motivated to accomplish my goals.  

KOD: How is the prototypical “Philly fighter” defined? When a boxer is described as a “Philly fighter” - what image surfaces in your mind? 

HL: We have that grit. We know what it’s like, growing up each and every day and needing to fight, to show your inner toughness. Even when walking to the store, you might find yourself on the defensive. You need to be well rounded just to live in Philadelphia, and that image is portrayed in the ring sometimes. When somebody is called a “Philly fighter,” you already know that this guy has been through a lot and that nobody is going to walk through you or take you for a pushover.  

KOD: Your promoter, Jimmy Burchfield Sr. of Classic Entertainment and Sports, is a Rhode Islander, as are the majority of the fighters he employs. With Philadelphia recognized as one of the hubs of boxing in the nation, brimming with young talent and promoters eager to display them, what brought the two of you together from a couple hundred miles away?  

Burchfield Sr, Vinny Paz, and Lundy
HL: It was a teammate of mine who signed with Jimmy Burchfield. It’s a case of respect where respect is due. The guy I was training with took me to Jimmy, and right away Jimmy asked me “what do you have that other fighters don’t have? How can you be a draw in this sport?” Right away, when he said that to me, a lady came over to me and said “I don’t who you are or what you do, but you have a smile that can light up a room.” Coming from another race, Jimmy looked at that and he signed me. He’s also seen my hard work and dedication. Once you find all about who Hammerin’ Hank is, you’re going to love him.  

KOD: Trash talking and boxing have gone hand in hand for decades. Intimidating the opponent, beating him mentally before he even steps through the ropes, seems to be something a lot of fighters strive for. You always talk a big game at the press conferences leading up to your big fights. But how much of the stuff that you say do you honestly believe, and how much is merely bravado, said just with the intention of generating interest for fans? 

HL: That comes as a part of my Philadelphia grit. I haven’t been matched easy, so when I tell guys that a fight is going to go a certain way, I mean it from the bottom of my heart. When I look at some other fighters today, I can honestly say that they haven’t fought the competition that I’ve fought. I’m telling these guys the truth—whether or not they believe me is up to them. But my job is to put on a show and show them.  

KOD: Your next proposed fight was arguably the biggest of your career, twelve rounds on Showtime in the junior welterweight division against Lucas Matthysse in Los Angeles for the WBC title belt. However, the demise of this fight has been rumored for over a week, and it was very recently called off. What went wrong between now and then, resulting in the bout’s cancellation?  

HL: The fight was signed and sealed—we signed the contract, but an ex-manager who hasn’t been around for six or seven fights tried to stop it. He (Ivan Cohen) has put rumors out the about suing Golden Boy and Showtime Boxing. We got a court order for him to stop causing ruckus like he has tried to do before. Golden Boy and Showtime were scared by his actions and they called the fight off, but we did the paperwork saying that he has no ties with me and can’t keep me from fighting. He’s in a breach of contract right now. Boxing is like that sometimes. As soon as you get on top, you’ve got people who want to get under your skin and pull you right back down to the bottom.  

KOD: If Ivan Cohen has no ties to you anymore, why does anything he says jeopardize the fight?  

HL: On paper, we do have a contract. However, at the end of the day, he hasn’t done any managerial duties for the past seven fights. I went before the boxing commissioner from Philadelphia and talked about the whole situation, and he said that we should take it to a small claims court. He knew the guy, but he didn’t want to get in the middle of it. Ever since then, Cohen has not been doing his duties. My promoter, Jimmy Burchfield, has gotten me all of my fights, and Cohen has tried to stop them and has come up short. He did win this one, but we have paperwork stating that he can’t stop any of my fights, as ordered by the court.  

KOD: Why the sharp and sudden fallout between the two of you?  

HL: This guy actually stole money from me and then had me locked up. When I won the NABO title, he forwarded my signing bonus to his bank account. When I found out about that, I voided the check that I had written out to him for the fight. He had me locked up for fraud and we went to court. That’s funny, because people bounce checks every day, but I showed up in court with all types of documents that showed I had stopped the check from being used. The judge saw the case my way and he dismissed the case, but ever since that, he’s been trying to come after me.

KOD: Is there any hope of the Matthysse fight being resurrected?  

HL: I don’t know, but I do know that I was going to beat Matthysse and shock a lot of people. Everybody talks about him being a big puncher, but I’ve fought lots of big punchers and I’ve used my God given talent to out box them. That’s exactly what I was going to do, but I wasn’t going to be surprised if I knocked him out because I’m stronger at 140 lbs. I had myself winning by knockout and I was going to shock the world, but if the fight can happen later on down the line I’ll still fight.  

KOD: Does the ongoing legal saga with Ivan Cohen prevent you from fighting until it’s all resolved? 

HL: No, the judge says he can’t interfere with anymore of my fights, and I can still go ahead and fight in the future like I’ve been doing. With the way he’s handled everything, he took my career through hell, but I’m going to let the courts deal with him. All I can say is “God bless him” and keep on moving forward. 

John Molina hammers Lundy at lightweight in 2010
KOD: Since Lucas Matthysse brought his talents to the United States from Argentina, he has gained popularity as one of the hardest punchers not only in the 140lb division, but in all of boxing. In four of your fights dating back to 2010, you’ve been knocked to the canvas. Of those fights, one of them was a TKO loss against John Molina, prompting some pundits to insinuate your chin won’t stand up to shots from the division’s elite. Why are those naysayers wrong?  

HL: My body was much weaker at 135 lbs. If you took one look at me, I looked like a very muscular guy in that weight class. I’m like Devon Alexander, when he moved up to 147 lbs—he is stronger and hasn’t been knocked down as much since then. I’m moving up to my natural weight at 140 lbs. so I don’t have to kill myself to make weight. I’ve never ducked anybody. I’m going to be stronger and coming to fight.  

KOD: You're 28 years old with two losses in the past two years on your record. A fight against Lucas Matthysse seemed to be the epitome of a "crossroads" fight. With that off the table for now, what does the future hold for Hammerin’ Hank Lundy? 

HL: I’m campaigned at 140 lbs now. At 135 lbs, I was draining my body a little too much. I’m still a key player in the division. At 135 lbs, I was ranked second in the world, and I would go back down if a fight was for a world title. But other than that, I’m at 140 lbs. Everybody was scared to fight Matthysse, and I stepped up to the plate to fight him and I was training hard to beat him. Anyone at 140 lbs who wants to fight Hammerin’ Hank, or any champ at 135 lbs, let’s go! I won’t run from anybody!   

Florida's #1 Beat Writer

Interview conducted by Joel Sebastianelli - exclusively for KO Digest

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