May 28, 2013

Bantamweights & Below - Boxing's Other Five Weight Divisions Vol. 5

Rungvisai upsets and dethrones Sato
By Derek "DBO" Bonnett ~ Organizing the top fighters of a particular weight class into unassailable divisional rankings is a skill I would love to learn. As a would-be ambassador to the lightest divisions in the sport, I am often pressed by fellow boxing addicts to share my thoughts about certain lighter weight fighters prior to fight time or once a significant bout is scheduled. I was recently engaged in a discussion about some of the top fighters from Japan. At the time, I said Yota Sato, but that Shinsuke Yamanaka was right on his tail. Well, just this month Sato was dethroned by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, a boxer, who had not actually cracked my top ten! Additionally, another upset artist who crashed my rankings recently, Kohei Kono, was dethroned by yet another contender who was only on the cusp of my top ten.

The ranking of fighters is an imperfect science which balances unequal parts of resume, ability, and performance. I am not sure the math is always the same or when one indicator supersedes the other. It takes a bit of analysis and a whole lot of judgment. Again, I am not sure which is more valid or when! Rankings, the way I see them, are a living thing since they are constantly changing. I struggle with the formula for the perfect rankings system because I do not believe it actually exists. However, I never tire of trying to find the magic elixir. Now that I have given complete Bantamweight and Below divisional rankings over the last five volumes, next month readers can look forward to rankings specific to certain nations' prominent boxers from Bantamweight and Below.

World Class Boxing Results at Bantamweight & Below:

On Friday, May 3, at Plaza del Farrocarril, Grenada, Nicaragua, Carlos Buitrago scored a first round TKO over Yader Escobar in a light flyweight bout. Buitrago dropped Escobar three times in the opening frame to force a stoppage at the 1:24 mark. Buitrago elevated his record to 26-0 (16). Escobar fell to 25-5-1 (13). Buitrago moved from seventh to sixth in my minimumweight rankings. Although he has contested in multiple above the weight bouts, he is still ranked by all major sanctioning bodies at 105 pounds including a number two spot in the WBO standings. Hekkie Budler was moved from sixth to seventh in my divisional ranking. 

Team Rungvisai celebrates a surprise win over Sato
Also on Friday, May 3, in Khonmunagsri Stadium, Si Sa Ket , Thailand, Yato Sato suffered an upset eighth round TKO loss to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in a WBC super flyweight title bout. The bout was waved off at the 1:23 mark of the round. Rungvisai improved his record to 19-3-1 (18). Sato fell to 26-3-1 (12). Yato Sato fell from first to fourth among my top super flyweights. Rungvisai debuted at number three. Omar Andres Narvaez reclaimed the top spot. Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. moved from third to second. Denkaosan Kaovichit exited to make room.

Also on the card, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai defeated Jilo Merlin by unanimous decision in a ten round super bantamweight bout. Rungvisai improved to 26-5-1 (10). Merlin fell to 13-16-2 (2). Rungvisai remained busy to hold his number six ranking among my bantamweight bunch.

On Monday, May 6, Kohei Kono dropped a majority decision to Liborio Solis in a twelve round WBA super flyweight title bout. Solis hit the canvas in the second round. Kono hit the deck in the eighth. The judges favored the challenger by margins of 115-111, 114-112, and 113-113. Solis improved his record to 15-3-1 (7). Kono, who was trying to make his first defense, fell to 28-8 (11). Solis, who had been on the cusp of the top ten, crashed my rankings at number five. Kono fell from fifth to sixth. Ryo Akaho exited once again to make room. The six through nine contenders each fell one ranking.

Ioka drops Kokietgym in the 9th round
On Wednesday, May 8, at Bodymaker Colosseum, Osaka, Osaka, Japan, Kazuto Ioka stopped Wisanu Kokietgym in nine rounds of WBA junior flyweight title bout. Wisanu hit the canvas in the ninth before the bout was stopped at the 2:51 mark. Ioka raised his ledger to 12-0 (8). Wisanu fell to 43-9-2 (13). Ioka retained his number three ranking in my light flyweight rankings.

Also on the card, Ryo Miyazaki stopped Carlos Velarde in five rounds of a WBA minimumweight title bout. Velarde hit the canvas in the fifth. Miyazaki made the first defense of his title and raised his record to 19-0-3 (11). Velarde fell to 23-3-1 (13). Miyazaki jumped to ninth from tenth among my performing 105-pounders, but looks as though he may be quickly on the rise. Merlito Sabillo fell from ninth to tenth.

On Friday, May 10, at Wat Punoi, Ban Mi, Thailand, Tepparith Kokietgym won a unanimous decision over Jecker Buhawe in a twelve round super flyweight bout. All three judges scored the bout 119-109. Kokietgym won for the second time this year since losing his title to Kohei Kono. He raised his record to 23-3 (13). Buhawe dropped to 14-8-1 (9). In spite of the win, Kokietgym fell from sixth to seventh due to greater activity in the my divisional standings at super flyweight.

Also on this date, at Nahkon Sawan, Thailand, Pungluang Sor Singyu stopped late sub Juma Fundi in two rounds of a bantamweight bout. The bout ended at the 1:22 mark. The win marked Singyu's first since losing his WBO belt in March. Singyu lifted his dossier to 44-2 (29). Fundi fell to 19-9-1 (9). Singyu remained number nine among my top rated bantamweights.

On Saturday, May 11, in Toluca, Mexico, Mexico, Adrian Hernandez won a unanimous decision over Yader Cardoza in a twelve round WBC junior flyweight title bout. The scores favored the champion 118-110 and 116-112 twice. The win marked the second defense of Hernandez' second reign. Hernandez raised his record to 27-2-1 (16). Cardoza fell to 15-5 (5). Hernandez kept his second place ranking among my top-ranked light flyweights.

Also on this date, at Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster, Yorkshire, United Kingdom, Jamie McDonnell outpointed Julio Ceja by majority decision in a twelve round vacant IBF bantamweight title bout. The judges favored McDonnell 118-110, 115-113, and 114-114. The new champion moved his record to 21-2-1 (9). Ceja fell to 24-1 (22). McDonnell jumped from nine to seven in my bantamweight rankings. Ceja fell from seventh to tenth.

Sosa outpoints Segura in Mexico
On Saturday, May 18, at Plaza del Toros Eloy Cavazos, Zitacuaro, Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico, Edgar Sosa won a unanimous decision over Giovanni Segura in a twelve round flyweight bout. Sosa prevailed by scores of 116-112, 115-112, and 114-113. Segura was penalized for a low blow in round nine. Sosa raised his record to 49-7 (29). Segura dropped to 29-3-1 (25). Sosa climbed from sixth to fourth among my top flyweight contenders. Segura dropped from ninth to tenth. Milan Melindo was pushed from fourth to fifth. Hernandez Marquez fell from fifth to sixth. Toshiyuki Igarashi was bumped from tenth to ninth.

On Saturday, May 25, at Estadio Luna Park, Buenos Aires, Distrito Federal, Argentina, Omar Andres Narvaez labored to a split decision victory over Felipe Orucuta in a twelve round WBO super flyweight bout. One judges favored the challenger 118-110 while the others had it 115-113 twice for the champion. Narvaez made his seventh title defense and raised his ledger to 39-1-2 (20). Orucuta dipped to 27-2 (23). Narvaez fell back down to number two in my divisional rankings after the shaky showing. Juan Carlos Sanchez moved into the top spot. Orucuta remains just on the outside of a very unstable super flyweight top ten.

On Saturday, May 25, at Polideportivo Espana, Managua, Nicaragua, Roman Gonzalez forced a fifth round TKO of Ronald Barrera in a flyweight non-title bout. Barrera was put to the canvas in the fifth round before the referee stepped in to call a halt. Gonzalez raised his dossier to 35-0 (29). Barrera fell to 31-12-2 (19). Gonzalez has a lock on my number one 108-pound ranking with a showdown against Kazuto Ioka on the horizon.

Bantamweight & Below Featured Rankings: Bantamweights (118 lbs.)

Yamanaka #1 at 118
1. Shinsuke Yamanaka ~ Japan 18-0-2 (13) ~ WBC
2. Anselmo Moreno ~ Panama 33-2-1 (12) ~ WBA
3. Koki Kameda ~ Japan 30-1-0 (17)
4. Hugo Ruiz ~ Mexico 31-2-0 (28)
5. Joseph Agbeko ~ Ghana 29-4-0 (22)
6. Suriyan Sor Rungvisai ~ Thailand 26-5-1 (10)
7. Jamie McDonnell ~ UK 21-2-1 (9) IBF
8. Paulus Ambunda ~ Namibia 20-0-0 (10) ~ WBO
9. Pungluang Sor Singyu ~ Thailand 43-2-0 (28)
10. Julio Ceja ~ Mexico 24-1-0 (22) 

Bantamweight & Below: Give That Man a Title Shot! 

Cuadras makes his case for a title shot
Carlos "Principe" Cuadras, 28-0 (23), is a super flyweight fast on the rise. In a division which has had a major overhaul in the last few weeks, Cuadras figures to play a big part in the shaping of a more stabilized 115-pound weight class. In March, Cuadras, yet another world class product of Mexico's Distrito Federal, pounded durable crowd pleaser Victor Zaleta into a seventh round TKO. To round out 2012, Cuadras posted a unanimous decision over Fernando Lumacad and a seventh round TKO of three time world title challenger Ronald Barrera.

The Zaleta victory earned Cuadras distinction as the number one contender for the WBC title which just changed hands this month. Cuadras also holds a number five ranking by the WBO.

Without a bout scheduled as of right now, the immediate future for Cuadras is not yet set in stone. However, a match-up with newly crowned WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai is likely later in the year. Given Cuadras', let's say "Mexican-ness", we can expect the WBC will support that route for him. However, former Give That Man a Title Shot! recipient, Oleydong Sithsamerchai is ranked number two and hails from the same homeland as the champion.

Bantamweights & Below On the Horizon: 

On Saturday, June 1, Estadio Sonora, Hermosilla, Sonora, Mexico: Hernan Marquez versus Carlos Tamara in a twelve round flyweight bout. On Saturday, June 8, at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada: Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. versus Roberto Domingo Sosa in a twelve round IBF super flyweight title bout.

Zhong vs Cuello
On Saturday, June 15, at Emperor's Palace, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa: Hekkie Budler versus Nkosinathi Joyi in a twelve round minimumweight bout. On Friday, June 28, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Xiong Zhao Zhong versus Denver "The Excitement" Cuello in a WBC minimumweight title bout featuring China's first world champion taking on boxing's most deserving title challenger.

Written by Derek "DBO" Bonnett - exclusively for KO Digest

You can find more of Derek's writings/ratings on 

You can also contact the author Derek Bonnett on Facebook

May 15, 2013

KO Digest Spotlight on Boxing's Up and Comers - J'Leon Love

Tainted Love?
By Terry Strawson - Controversy is a word  frequently uttered in the sport of boxing. More recent than Tim Bradley's decision over Manny Pacquiao and further back than Muhammad Ali's rematch knockout of Sonny Liston, boxing and its participants, in and out of the ring, have often been at the center of sporting controversies.

The opening bout on the recent May Day PPV card between J'Leon Love (16-0, 8 KOs) and Gabriel Rosado (21-7, 13KOs) should avoid such infamy, however, many felt the judge's split decision in favor of Love was somewhat controversial. It was a close fight that saw Love, an undefeated middleweight prospect fighting out of Las Vegas, get off the canvas to come out victorious with his biggest win to date.

Born on September 25, 1987 in Inkster, MI, Love was raised in and around Detroit until his recent move to Las Vegas. He was troublesome as a youth and not unfamiliar with combat during his childhood. "I've always been fighting, all my life, on the streets. It was just something that I loved to do. When I was about 14 or 15, my Dad and my cousin took me down to the Kronk Boxing Gym in Detroit and it all started from there."

Love got his start at KRONK
During his time in the unpaid ranks, Love racked up over a hundred victories with only a handful of losses in an amateur career that saw him capture more than a few titles. "I don't remember my record but I had a lot of fights," said Love "I represented the United States in different duels and tournaments all over the world. I fought a lot of the top amateurs and Olympians. I had a pretty extensive background in the amateurs and that's what gives me the experience now."

As a pro, Love is a boxer-puncher. Fighting primarily from the outside, Love is capable close-up. His jab is used as a weapon and to disguise the straight right hand he snaps to the head—and sinks into the body of his often helpless opponents. Aided by the jab and hard right hand that follows it, Love looks to get his head into his opponent's chest to fire off hooks, both left and right, before picking an angle from which to exit. He is not considered to possess the most frightening power in the sport but as of now, one in two are put to sleep. Not a bad ratio. His first knockout victory was registered in his very first professional outing.

"In 2010 I had my pro debut against Vince Burkhalter in Connecticut. It was a first round knockout," recalled Love "I think I got him out of there in a minute and some change. When you first start off they kinda ease you in, so the first few guys, I was just running through 'em."

Having disposed of a further three opponents inside the distance, Love was now undefeated in four professional fights with four knockouts when he almost overdosed on confidence. As he readied himself to take on Fernando Calleros (1-1-1), an unknown from Albuquerque, NM, Love failed to apply the hard work and dedication that's required of him today and it almost proved costly. "There was one fight that I didn't really train for, it was my fifth fight, some Mexican guy, I cant really remember his name—Fernando something, and I took him lightly. I was just whatever, you know, all I had to do was make weight. Normally I look at guy's records, see who they have fought, do my research. But I was knocking these guys out and I kinda took this dude lightly. I was like whatever, I'm gonna fight him, beat him, probably knock him out and just go about my day. But he came to fight and he was determined to win. He stayed in my chest for every second of every round and it was a wake-up call," said Love, who escaped with the victory that night.

No more Love for Lou DiBella
Love refocused himself after the fight against Calleros and alongside longtime trainer Angel Caraballo, continued to notch up the victories one way or another. His style of fighting from the outside, choosing spots in which to trade, was proving too much for the opposition and drawing comparisons, from Floyd Mayweather Jr, to ring legend Miguel Cotto.

"I was actually signed with DiBella Entertainment [at the time] and my adviser Greg Leon and I went to camp with Mayweather to help him get ready for Cotto. We put in some great work, some tremendous and very challenging sparring for me and him. We would spar almost every day and do like six, seven or eight minute rounds so Floyd showed me a lot of love and said I could fight," recounted Love.

"Roger [Mayweather] gave me my props and, you know, Roger really liked me, and so did the rest of the camp, then Leonard Ellerbe and Floyd pulled me to the side and said, 'Yo, we wanna sign you!' and they pretty much just reached out to Greg Leon and Lou DiBella and cancelled my deal, and bought me out of my contract and here I am today with Mayweather Promotions. I'm from Michigan, Floyd is from Michigan and that is someone you definitely want to be around and learn from. He's one of the greatest fighters to ever put on gloves. It's a definitely a dream come true. Mayweather Promotions is on the rise and Mayweather is still at the top of the food chain, and beating these guys easily."

Mayweather and Love
Love and 'The Money Team' appear to be a good fit so far. On the undercard of Cornelius Bundrage and Ishe Smith last February, in his hometown of Detroit, Love cruised to victory over the battle tested Derrick Findley. Findley, who had come up short against Andre Ward, Andre Dirrell and Fernando Guerrero amongst others, was coming into the fight with Love on the back of an impressive knockout of Ronald Hearns, son of motor city legend Thomas 'Hitman' Hearns.

His most recent outing came against the aforementioned Gabriel Rosado on the undercard of Mayweather Jr against Robert Guerrero just under two weeks ago. Rosado, who arrived at that point after a career filled with tough fights and harsh decisions, was entering the ring after a beating at the hands of WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin earlier this year. A massive opportunity presented itself for both men and things boiled over at the official weigh-in at the MGM Grand.

"That was just two men ready to fight. At the end of the day, he has never done nothing to me and I never done nothing to him, so it was just two guys ready to go at it, you know. It's part of boxing but I respect Rosado and his team and his trainer Billie Briscoe one thousand percent. All his fans, I respect them too. We fought a great fight." 

No love lost between Love and Rosado
They certainly did.

Love got off to a bright start, in front of a respectable crowd at the MGM Grand. On his toes and behind a jab, he was able to take control of the first two rounds. The third stanza was closer and a case could be made for Rosado winning the round. A good fight was unfolding. With the jab, Love was dictating the pace of the fight while Rosado was following, but gaining. In the sixth round, of their scheduled ten-rounder for the vacant NABF middleweight title, Rosado caught Love near the ropes with a hefty right hand that sent the Mayweather Promotions fighter to the canvas.

A real fight was heating up. "I knew I had to turn it up because a knockdown is a knockdown. It's a 10-8 round," said Love "When he caught me coming in, it was a shot I didn't see coming. I wasn't hurt. I jumped my ass right back up. I'm never going to quit, I'm never going to fold, I'm a fighter. It's not in my blood to ever stop or quit, I'm gonna bite down and do what I gotta do. Rosado, excuse my language, is a fucking beast. I can't really knock him for anything. He came to fight. He did a lot of veteran moves, a lot of things in this fight that a veteran is supposed to do and he pulled all his tricks out. I definitely believe that we made a great fight, the things I was doing, and the things he was doing just made it a great fight."

Love and Rosado made a great fight
It was an even, well contested bout that fans should be grateful for and the fight went down to the wire. Love was awarded the official decision by split scores of 95-94 for Rosado and 95-94 and 97-92 in favor of Love. The crowd, for the most part, seemed to show their disapproval as a chorus of 'boos' sounded around the MGM. Rosado certainly did not agree with the decision but like Love, KO Digest felt the winner had done just enough to win.

"The 'boos' come with the territory. Of course you want to perform good and win decisively, but there's two tough, very talented guys fighting. When it comes down to it, it was a very close fight. I can honestly say that he won more than two rounds," said Love in reference to judge Herb Santos' score of 97-92. "I believe I did enough to win though and enough to pull it off because I was winning the rounds. Round by round, I was out-boxing him. He did turn it up after the knockdown, he really did but, I turned it up too and I believe I hurt him in the fight also."

It was a great night for Love. He displayed solid boxing ability throughout the fight and showed a resilience and determination that is required of all those wanting to succeed at the highest level. He left it all in the ring against a proven yet rugged, never-say-die type of fighter like Rosado and he is willing to do it all over again. If a rematch with Rosado does not materialize, like it probably should, there are other options available.

Love, along with his supreme confidence and tremendous ability, has boxing powerhouses Floyd Mayweather Jr, and Al Haymon on his side. His victory, however close or controversial you may have deemed it, demonstrated his worth at middleweight. Love showed quality during the fight and maintained class amidst the boos and interviews that followed. 

World Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez and alphabet titlists Gennady Golovkin and Peter Quillin may be just out of reach in the immediate future but Love is on the right path to an extremely bright future. The next twelve months should provide us with a couple more exciting fights, and Love himself has his sights set upon the division's elite over the course of the year. "I hope to be closer to a world title, if not a world champion, at least right there at the mark to challenge a world champion. I'll fight anybody, the top guys, I want the best."

Written by Terry Strawson ~ exclusively for KO Digest

Look for a new KO Digest Spotlight on Up & Comers on the 15th of every month!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Just hours after we published this spotlight on Love, news broke via Twitter from Dan Rafael at ESPN that according to Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Love tested positive for the banned diueretic hydrochlorothiazide in the aftermath of his win over Gabriel Rosado. Love now faces the possibility of his NABF title win over Rosado being overturned or ruled a no-contest, as well as fines and suspensions.  

KO Digest Update 6/28/13 - A six month suspension, a $10,000 fine, and the result of his NABF middleweight title "win" over Gabe Rosado has been overturned to a No Contest (NC) because J'Leon Love failed a post-Rosado-fight drug test for the banned diuretic hydrochlorothiazide. #Tainted Love 

May 8, 2013

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science - Women's Boxing Monthly Vol. 3

Holm says goodbye to Braekhus and boxing
By Mark A. Jones – In April, the women’s boxing saga continued as the last symbolic shovel full of dirt was placed on top of an already laid to rest event when Holly Holm announced that she was bidding adieu to the boxing ring in favor of the MMA cage; effectively announcing the death of one of the most anticipated matchups in the history of women’s boxing between Holly Holm and Cecilia Braekhus.

Both welterweights are 31 years old. In women’s boxing circles, it was the equivalent of Mayweather vs Pacquiao; a male boxer Superfight that's apparently suffered the same fate. Similar to the Mayweather vs Pacquiao storyline, the more negotiations between the promotion of Braekhus, Saureland Promotions, and the promotion of Holm, Fresquez Productions, dragged on, the less it appeared the mega-fight would take place.

The end came on April 16th when Holm announced that she was retiring from the sport, leaving “Merciless” Mary McGee, a little-known but respectable lightweight out of Indiana as her dance partner for her swan song on May 11th. Holm stated, “It’s a hard decision, but I need to keep that spark and passion. MMA is where it’s at for me now.”

Both the Braekhus and the Holm promotions released statements pointing the finger at the other to shoulder the culpability for the demise of the fight. Neither fighter sullied their future legacies as both have already attained Hall of Fame class credentials. In the end, neither fighter needed the fight. Both have established boxing records meeting and defeating the best women’s boxing had to offer. More than anything, the sport of women’s boxing needed this high profile fight to happen and for it to be televised to reach a mainstream audience, especially in the United States.

The absence of Holm (32-2-3, 9 KOs), an impressive (21-1-1) in world title bouts, globally, deals professional women’s boxing a body blow from which it can recover. The status of professional women’s boxing in the United States, however, is on the ropes as a result of her retirement. Holm’s departure from the sport raises the question, “Is the United States the center of the women’s boxing universe?” The answer to that question is a resounding, no. The center of the women’s boxing universe is located in Germany, Mexico, and/or Argentina.

Of the five American based fighters listed by boxrec as the highest ranked fighter in their weight class, only Holm consummated her last fight in the United States. Tori Nelson (Bermuda), Layla McCarter (South Africa), Melissa Hernandez (Canada), and Ava Knight (Mexico) each either defended or battled for world titles abroad. Other high level American fighters who have recently battled for world titles elsewhere are Alicia Ashley (Panama), Melissa McMorrow (Germany), Carina Moreno (Germany), and Amanda Serrano (Dominican Republic). Melissa McMorrow, a native of California, is promoted by (SES), based out of Germany.

True connoisseurs of women’s boxing realize with a cursory inspection of the world rankings that many of the young-guns are of Argentinean or Mexican decent. Many of them have ridden the coattails of fellow compatriots such as, Erica Anabella Farias (Argentina), Yesica Yolanda Bopp (Argentina), Jackie Nava (Mexico), and Ana Maria Torres (Mexico), all long-time boxing champions. If almost every American fighter that competes on a high level is leaving the United States to find opportunities, who remains to build a fan base enabling women’s boxing to move from the current niche following it enjoys to something more mainstream? A Holly Holm versus Cecilia Braekhus "Sweet Side of the Sweet Science Superfight" would have been the ticket.

A look back at April 2013 in women’s boxing:

On April 13, at Arena Nord, Frederikshavn, Denmark, Cecilia Braekhus improved to (22-0, 6 KOs) with a three round demolition of a post-prime Mia St. John (47-13-2, 18 KOs). Since the late 90s, Mia St. John has earned the title, “Madame Ambassador” for representing women’s boxing displaying extraordinary beauty, solid boxing skills, and after the first Christy Martin fight, toughness. At the age of 45, St. John facing a bigger, faster, and a stronger prime conditioned opponent could no longer summon those ever-fading boxing skills to last the distance as she had with Holly Holm some eight years ago.

Braekhus pound for pounds St. John into retirement
Braekhus dispensed with her usual boxer-puncher technique and stalked St. John hurting her early and often with power shots' setup by a deft left jab. The end came with twenty-five seconds left in the third round with St. John stationary against the ropes absorbing well placed power punches by Braekhus. After the fight, St. John announced her retirement from the ring and passed the “Madame Ambassador” torch to the “First Lady of Boxing,” Cecilia Braekhus.

Braekhus retained her WBO, WBC, and WBA female world welterweight titles and captures the KO Digest #1 pound-4-pound ranking with the dominant win.

Argentina has roughly the same population of the State of California, but is arguably the women’s boxing capital of the world boasting pound-4-pound favorites Yesica Yolanda Bopp, Erica Anabella Farias, Fernanda Soledad Alegre, and Carolina Raquel Duer. A professional for just over two years and already the IBF female super flyweight champion, Debora Anahi Dionicius (12-0, 4 KOs) Villaguay, Argentina, on April 13 successfully defended her title for the first time by defeating a run-of-the-mill contender, Gabriela Bouvier (9-4-1, 2 KOs), Maldonado, Uruguay, by an unanimous decision (99-91/ 100-90/ 100-90). Still overshadowed by fellow Argentine super flyweights Daniela Romina Bermudez and the aforementioned Duer, Dionicius is improving her pedigree with each fight displaying excellent counter-punching expertise and the capability to fight as a lead-puncher or off of her back foot.

On April 20, in Sao Jose dos Pinhais, Parana, Brazil, Rosilette Dos Santos (28-5, 14 KOs) the WIBA super flyweight champion, fighting in her home town, defeated Carina Maria Britos (11-15, 7 KOs) Curitiba, Parana, Brazil by way of Argentina, by an unanimous decision over eight rounds. The WIBA title was not on the line. The match-up was irrelevant; simply a world champion staying active by engaging lessor competition. After the fight, Dos Santos, 37, announced her retirement from boxing stating, “I am very sorry, but my body cannot take anymore. I am retiring and giving up my WIBA super flyweight title.” After working the fields from the ages of 11 through 18, Dos Santos became a maid. It was not until witnessing a fight in her home town that she embarked on an amateur career entering the boxing ring for the first time in 2001; eventually turning professional in 2003. In 2008, she became the first female Brazilian born woman to win a world title (WPC). Upon retirement, she was named the WIBA Emeritus Champion.

Kuhn gets the win over Woods
On April 25, at the Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY in a welterweight crossroads matchup, Sarah “The Knockout” Kuhn (6-3-1, 1 KO) Albany, NY won a closely contested six-round split-decision victory over “Notorious” Nicole Woods (11-12-2, 3 KOs) Atlanta, GA. During the initial stages of Kuhn’s professional career, she was an uncompromising straight-line slugger; gradually, she has developed into a competent boxer/puncher proficient from long or close range. From the opening bell, Kuhn reverted to her old fighting style aggressively moving forward behind a sledgehammer jab pushing the taller Nicole Woods backwards revealing the struggle Woods has fighting while backing up. Woods adjusted after round two wining the third and fourth by successfully moving laterally creating enough space to land regularly with the jab and an occasional right cross. Sensing that the fight was slipping away, Kuhn increased the pressure in the final two rounds successfully keeping Woods moving backwards and concentrating on defense more than returning counter punches.

In the end, two of the three judges scored for Kuhn (59-55/59-55) with the other favoring the counter-punching of Nicole Woods, (58-56). KO Digest scored the fight for the hometown fighter, Sarah Kuhn (58-56). Sarah Kuhn, with the win, elevates herself in to the already muddled mix at welterweight with fellow American contenders, Holly Lawson and Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes. The division’s champions all hail from Europe, Eva Halasi (IBF), Jessica Balogun (GBU), and Cecilia Braekhus (WBC, WBA, and WBO).

Togo upsets Juarez in Mexico
On April 27, at Arena Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico, fan- favorite Mariana “Barbie” Juarez, 114, Mexico City, (36-7-3, 16 KOs) faced the lightly regarded Riyo Togo, 112 ¾, Tokyo, Japan (10-4, 9 KOs) for the vacant WBC International female super flyweight title. A loser in two of her three most recent outings, the one dimensional, but nuclear-fisted Togo was playing with house money in this matchup. Juarez is equal to a rock star in Mexico, was expected to dominate Togo and win a minor title in the process setting up a super-fight of sorts with WBC super-flyweight champion, Zulina Munoz (37-1-2, 24 KOs), also of Mexico. In women’s boxing circles, Togo was known to be an explosive puncher, especially with the right hand, but limited in boxing skill.

From the opening bell, Juarez chose to brawl with a brawler and it cost her dearly. A crushing right cross from Togo moved Juarez onto the ropes at the 1:10 mark of the first round where Juarez managed to evade Togo’s wild follow-up volleys. The two boxed on even terms over the next minute until the: 15 point when Togo landed a right uppercut that drew out a left-hook from Juarez; Togo simultaneously threw a left-hook landing a split-second ahead of the Juarez punch knocking the hometown fighter to the canvas. On her spindly legs, Juarez rose at the count of nine failing to satisfy referee Eddie Hernandez that she was fit to continue as he waived off the fight awarding the TKO victory to Japan’s Riyo Togo. With one of the biggest upsets in women’s boxing in recent memory, Riyo Togo wins the vacant WBC International female super flyweight title and is a serious challenger to the popular but vulnerable Zulina Munoz.

A look ahead to May 2013 in women’s boxing:

Knight (L) readies for the challenge of Soto
On May 11, KO Digest’s #3 ranked pound-4-pound female boxer, Ava “Lady of Boxing” Knight (11-1-3, 5 KOs) Chico, California, the IBF female flyweight champion, defends her strap for the third time when she faces the hard-charging Linda “La Muneca” Soto (5-2, 3 KOs) Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico, in Toluca, Mexico.

Also on this date, at the Route 66 Casino, Albuquerque, New Mexico, last month’s KO Digest #1 pound-4-pound female boxer, “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holly Holm (32-2-3, 9 KOs) Albuquerque faces “Merciless” Mary McGee (20-1, 11 KOs) for Holm’s IBA, WBF light welterweight titles. Before the announcement that Holly Holm was bidding farewell to the squared circle in favor of the mixed martial arts cage, battling Mary McGee was a risqué proposition. McGee throws punches in bunches possessing lightning in her right cross and above average hand speed. However, she moves in a straight-line, has an exceptionally vertical and inflexible posture, and less than favorable defensively. McGee has not fared well when facing world class competition. Brooke Dierdorff, an iron-fisted former national amateur champion, won a decision over McGee three years ago, and Kristy Follmar, a frightfully good counter-puncher probably did enough to win a match in McGee’s home state in 2009, losing a majority decision. Holly Holm is a superb ambush fighter. To defeat her, a fighter has to take away her escape route forcing her to engage when she wants to evade. McGee does not possess this skill and will be relegated to following Holm around the ring absorbing her infrequent but effective attacks.

On May 25, in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico, Zulina “La Loba” Munoz (37-1-2, 24 KOs) Mexico City, Mexico, defends her WBC female super flyweight title against the unheralded Soledad Macedo (11-8-2, 4 KOs) Salto, Uruguay. Munoz held various bantamweight titles including the WBC bantamweight and WBC Silver bantamweight titles before moving up in weight to capture the WBC female super flyweight title with a ninth round knockout of Gabriela Bouvier last September. In her most recent defense against the ever-tough Tenkai Tsunami, the former WBA female super flyweight champion, Munoz suffered an early knockout only to rally over the second half of the bout to retain her WBC female flyweight title by a razor thin margin on two of the three scorecards (95-93/95-93/97-92). Vulnerable champions are often very popular; such is the case with Munoz who has a large and loyal fan base in Mexico that have witnessed her on three separate occasions rise from knockdowns to retain world titles. This bout is nothing more than Munoz adding another knockout victory to an already gaudy record that, with a few exceptions, is littered with C-level fighters. Future defenses against Riyo Togo, Carolina Raquel Duer, or Mariana Juarez are much anticipated. Riyo Togo, with her recent knockout victory over Marina Juarez is the new #1 contender. All-time great, Ana Maria Torres, who is inactive due to pregnancy, is the WBC Champion Emeritus. Either would be favored to wrestle the title from Munoz.

KO Digest's Dynamite Dozen Pound-for-Pound Women's Ratings:

#5 P4P Christina Hammer
1- Cecilia Braekhus (22-0, 6 KOs) (WW) Norway
2- Erica Anabella Farias (16-0, 9 KOs) (LW) Argentina
3- Ava Knight (11-1-3, 5 KOs) (FLY) USA
4- Yesica Yolanda Bopp (24-0, 11 KOs) (JFLY) Argentina
5- Christina Hammer (13-0, 7 KOs) (SMW) Germany
6- Melissa Hernandez (18-3-3, 6 KOs) (FW) USA/Puerto Rico
7- Layla McCarter (35-13-5, 8 KOs) (JMW) USA
8- Frida Wallberg (11-0, 2 KOs) (JLW) Sweden
9- Esmeralda Moreno (25-6, 9 KOs) (JFLY) Mexico
10- Jessica Chavez (17-3-2, 4 KOs) (JFLY) Mexico
11- Melissa McMorrow (9-3-3, 1 KO) (FLY) USA
12- Delfine Persoon (24-1, 10 KOs) (LW) Belgium

"The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science" is written and compiled by women's boxing expert Mark Jones - exclusively for KO Digest. You can find more of Mark's work on his women's boxing blog: Boxing Jones

May 3, 2013

KO Digest Interview: Marlon Starling - "I was in boxing to be the best"

Do you remember Marlon Starling?

Holding two major world titles and reigning supreme in the welterweight division for several years during the 1980's, the “Magic Man” was in love with boxing, frequently fighting on network and cable television in front of an adoring fan base that loved him back and extended far beyond the confines of his Hartford, Connecticut home. Although he never shared the ring with Sugar Ray Leonard or Thomas Hearns, Starling was a staple in the welterweight division and never shied away from fighting the best.

Tragedy in the ring against the late Charlie Newell in 1980 threatened to throw the talented fighter off course, but reassured and possessed with the mental fortitude to carry on, Starling made the most of the years that followed.

A pair of close decision losses to Donald Curry in 1982 and 1984 provided minor speed bumps, but a victory over Mark Breland in their first of two memorable fights in 1987 provided Starling an elusive world title, while a victory over Lloyd Honeyghan punctuated his stay at the top. Yet, despite achieving acclaim during his prime, Starling was overshadowed by the revered duo of Leonard and Hearns. The “Magic Man” never officially retired from the sport, but his last performance was that of a disappearing act, drifting away at age 31, well-known by all but underappreciated by many.

Today, Starling loves the sport of boxing dearly, but is no longer “in love” with it. As the years have passed, he has turned his attention towards becoming a goodwill ambassador to the sport and its myriad loyal fans. Each year, Starling can be seen without fail at the International Boxing Hall of Fame at Canastota, NY but his appearances represent a bitter irony. Starling has no regrets about his time in boxing and will recount the stories with a smile and warm inflection to anyone willing to listen, but the Hall of Fame brings about conflicting emotions. While fans flock to Starling for photos, remembering the face and the name, they forget the résumé and impact he had on the sport of boxing—this oversight of greatness is most apparent on the IBHOF voting ballots, where Marlon has never earned enough of the vote to become enshrined, despite controversy each year surrounding the diminishing criteria for immortalizing fighters.

One must look no further than the sport of boxing for proof that life can be unfair.

But if it was, surely everyone would remember Marlon Starling.

KO Digest's Joel Sebastianelli: At what age did you get involved with boxing and know that this was something you had a future in professionally? What drew you to the sport of boxing when you were younger? 

The Magic Man was inspired by The Greatest 
Marlon Starling: Muhammad Ali. He was very outspoken and true to himself. My other reason was the individuality of being in a sport that, if you won you won, and if you lose you aren’t taking anyone with you. I got into it at the age of eight years old. I never thought about it professionally. I fought the Golden Gloves and all the amateur tournaments and that year I thought, “This is it, maybe it’s time”—I was a kid, only in my teens—and I said to myself, “let me turn pro and see what I can get out of it.” The rest is history.

KOD: Many fighters linger around the sport after their primes, fighting well into their 30s (sometimes 40s) despite poor results and frequent beatings. However, not only did you retire from the sport before that level, you retired at 31 following a pair of majority decision title fight losses in 1990. Why did you feel that was the best time for you to leave?

MS: Because I did everything that I wanted to do in boxing. I figured “let me go,” because I don’t care what sport you get into, there are substitutes for a lot of things, but there’s no substitute for you.

KOD: January 9, 1980 marked the sixth fight of your young career, but a fateful day as well. Your opponent that night in Hartford, CT was Charles Newell, who later died of head injuries suffered during the fight. What type of emotional toll did that take on you?

MS: That was big time. Right after the fight, I flew to Atlanta because I wanted to get away from all the hoopla about this guy's in the hospital and he might not make it. When I got to Atlanta, they called me to tell me that Newell had passed away. That really hurt me, because he was a child that grew up in the same neighborhood I grew up in. People were saying—my cousin introduced me as “the guy who killed a guy up in Connecticut.” I didn’t kill that guy in Connecticut. Charlie Newell died from a freak accident, and from what I understand, he had a metal plate in his head and he shouldn’t have been boxing at all.

Starling in the prime of his life - the 1980s
KOD: When did you know that his medical situation was serious?

MS: That night, they said he was in the hospital from brain injuries he got during the fight. When that happened, that’s when I went down south to Atlanta, and I stayed down there for three or four days, and then my manager told me that Charlie Newell had passed away. When I came back up to Connecticut, I knew I had to go to the funeral. When I went to the funeral, his parents said to me “don’t stop doing what you’re doing. My son died doing something he loved. I want you to pursue your dream.” That got me back into the sport.

KOD: Your career blossomed in the public eye thanks to the increased role of network television in the sport of boxing. How important were TV networks in your career?

MS: Back in my era, I was on television a lot. I wasn’t the champion and I wasn’t a big named guy, but the old saying is that “cream rises to the top.” I was always fighting good fights on television. In the 80s, I fought on television more than any fighter in the world. I fought every two or three months, and it wasn’t because of television—I liked to stay active.

KOD: Prior to your days as world champion, you fought Johnny Bumphus in 1986 in Providence, RI. You lost after an odd set of circumstances involving an accidental head-butt. How do you look back on that fight over 25 years later?

MS: What happened was, he quit and won the fight. Did you hear what I said? He quit and won! He had better people than I did in my corner. Lou Duva opened this cut up and they stopped the fight on cuts. He was ahead on all the scorecards, but he was weak, and he was very tired. 

KOD: What do you think of the TV coverage the sport gets now? 

MS: Well, I’ll tell you what: like everything, it’s all about the M-O-N-E-Y. Believe me, I love money too, but I never got in that ring for a dollar bill. If my opponent wasn’t getting nothing, it didn’t make a difference if I got nothing. I was in there for one thing: to be the best. I didn’t love the sport of boxing, I was in love with it, and when you’re in love with it, you’ll do anything for it. Nowadays, I love it, but I’m not in love with it. There’s a difference between love and being in love. I never got in that ring for the dollar. But I’ll tell you what: if they offer me some good money today, I’ll come out of retirement. Don't forget, I never did retire.

Starling (R) at IBHOF with Bramble and Ortiz
KOD: Why didn’t you retire? You just walked away from the sport and chose not to pursue any offers in front of you at the time?

I love the sport too much to disrespect the sport by getting in there—the only reason to get in there is to do one thing: be the best. Sure, we want the money. Today is different. If I was offered a large amount of money today, I would be in the gym tomorrow because of the financial situation. We all want that kind of money. If I was fighting today, I would be a multimillionaire. Remember, I fought on television more than just about anybody in the world, and I never fought for one million dollars.

KOD: Two notable names absent from your record are former welterweight kingpins Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns. Were you ever close to reaching an agreement with fighting those men?

MS: Always. Every time coming up when I first started, I always felt like this: “if I can’t beat this guy, how can I beat Ray Leonard?” The reason why they didn’t want the fight made is because they knew that would have been a tough fight for them. When Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns fought their first fight, I went to train with Hearns before the fight, and they didn’t want me to train with him at that time. I told them I had a fight back in Connecticut, and said they should either give me work or send me home, so they put me in the ring with Tommy Hearns and I took care of him pretty good and they didn’t want Marlon. That was a tough fight for him. They had a guy named Milton McCrory, who was also from Kronk Gym, and I never got a chance to fight him either.

KOD: You lost a pair of decisions to Donald Curry, accounting for the first two losses of your career. Each of the bouts were close, decision losses, and one of them was split. Do you feel as though you should have won at least one of those fights? How big a setback did those defeats provide for your career? 

MS: This is tough for me. I was young, I was striving to be the best, but the first fight I knew I won—I just didn’t get the decision. The second fight, we fought and he beat me. He looked worse, but you need to back the champion up and land more punches. That night, Curry landed more punches and backed me up. I never said Donald Curry was better than me, but he had a better day.

KOD: Your career record features some of the biggest names at welterweight during that era. Which of your 53 career fights was the toughest and why?

Connecticut Legends Pep and Starling
MS: People ask that question a lot. One fight that I can say was the toughest was because I was dehydrated and had to lose a lot of weight; it was against Tommy Ayers in 1983 in Las Vegas. In that fight, I felt like I was fighting for my life. I was dehydrated, I had to make weight for that fight, and that fight was the scariest fight, only because of what I had to do to make the weight. I must have been walking around the street at 160 and I had to cut to 147. But don’t forget, I was in Las Vegas, and during that time in the 80's, it was 100 degrees at 10:30 in the morning. I was out there in a rubber suit trying to make weight.

KOD: You were known as the “Magic Man” in the ring, but also affectionately known as Moochie. How exactly did your nicknames come about?

MS: “Moochie” is a childhood name, I’ve had that ever since I was born. “Magic Man” came from my group. When I first started out as a pro, we had a group and we called ourselves “The Magic Show.” So one day, my trainer said, “if your group is The Magic Show, you’re the Magic Man!” And ever since then, I’ve been the Magic Man. That was before Paulie Malignaggi and Antonio Tarver. There were only two Magic Men then, me and Magic Johnson. You can’t beat that company!

KOD: Tell us about your signature move, the Starling Stomp.

MS: You did your homework! It was something I did in the ring. It was a maneuver I used to open guys up and it worked all the time. I had one fight, it was on CBS, and one of the guys, I think it was Gil Clancy, said “that’s the Starling Stomp!” That’s a move I did where, you couldn’t tell me to do it, it was a rhythm I got into in the middle of the ring. It was a natural thing. Believe me, I always hit my opponents when I did it, I’d come back with a left-right and it always worked. One day I was getting ready for a fight, and my trainer Eddie Futch told me that one thing about that punch is “you step too far back. When you step back two steps it takes you two steps to hit the guy.” It made sense what he said. I was doing it and hitting guys, but it took me two steps to hit the guy after I take four steps to jump back, so I stopped.

KOD: Describe your relationship with trainer Eddie Futch and Freddie Roach. Was Futch the best boxing trainer of all time and did working under him make Freddie the best trainer out there today?

Trainer Eddie Futch
MS: I think Freddie is a good trainer, and I think Eddie Futch was one of the best. But, I think the best trainer for Marlon Starling was Marlon Starling. They didn’t show me much, they were just guys that were there with me. They didn’t show me how to do this, or how to do that. Eddie Futch told me one thing that made sense to me. He told me about the Starling Stomp, don’t jump back because it takes too many steps to hit the guy. But other than telling me to “knock this punch down” or “knock this jab down,” they didn’t show me much, but they were great conditioners.

KOD: Do you think that Freddie Roach is deserving of all the awards and recognition he has received—the consensus title of best trainer in boxing, and Hall of Fame induction in 2012?

MS: No. What guy did Freddie Roach take from the start and make them a champion? You can’t find one. It takes more than that. It takes a trainer to be there and show a guy what to do. Freddie is good, but I don’t know about being a Hall of Famer. Remember, the Hall of Fame is the pinnacle of someone’s career. Should he be in there? He was up there, but it doesn’t take a trainer to move a champion. It takes a good trainer to move a contender and make him a champion. If you’re the champion already, you don’t need a guy that’s going to move you around. I think Eddie Futch was a great trainer, but Freddie Roach was OK, he was alright. There’s a difference between being alright and being a Hall of Famer. Freddie Roach was good, but a Hall of Famer is a big accomplishment.

KOD: You’ve become a frequent sighting at the International Boxing Hall of Fame on induction weekends. In the mid to late 80s and early 90s, you were a titlist at the top of your division in your prime. Do you ever watch the ex-fighters accepting their honor on the stage in Canastota and think that you should be up there?

Magic Man on parade at the Boxing Hall of Fame
MS: When it comes to the Hall of Fame, that’s special. I believe you cannot talk about an era in boxing without talking about the 80s, and if you’re going to talk about the 1980s, you have to talk about Marlon Starling because was Marlon Starling was on network television more than anybody! And not only was he on network television more than anybody, he fought the best of the best. I’m not going to pick out who should and shouldn’t be in there, but I believe Marlon Starling should be in there. You’ve got to make the judgment of what this particular fighter did for the era of boxing. And you cannot talk about the era of the 1980s without talking about Marlon Starling. You’ve got to give it to Marlon Starling, he was one of the best welterweights in the 1980s. I cracked the top ten in 1980 and I finished my career in the top ten.

KOD: The IBHOF is often controversial in their selections and non-selections. The most recent inductees that have turned heads and incited passionate discussion are Sylvester Stallone and Arturo Gatti, who will be enshrined this June. Do you agree with the committee’s choices on those two men? What other notable snubs or undeserving candidates come to mind for you? What do you think about Sylvester Stallone and Arturo Gatti? Are you willing to pass a judgment on them and say whether or not you believe there is enough merit for them to be enshrined?

MS: Well, I think Sylvester Stallone was enshrined because of all the hoopla of (Marlon hums the Rocky theme music) and the fighting rhythm. I think he was in there because he helped prepare a lot of people for the sport of boxing. He’s not in there for what he did in boxing, he’s in for what he did outside of boxing. He helped a lot of guys get ready, get their minds ready. With Arturo Gatti, you have to ask “why?” Why put that guy in, because he fought Micky Ward to three good fights? That’s no reason to put somebody in. The Hall of Fame is special. If he hadn’t fought Micky Ward, he would never be in the Hall of Fame.

Starling blasts Breland on the cover of KO
KOD: An 11th round TKO against Mark Breland put the WBA welterweight strap around your waist in 1987. How does your first world title ranks amongst the greatest achievements for your career?

MS: Let me tell you something: I got the shit beat out of me in that fight. In that fight, I got hit with everything but the kitchen sink. I fought that fight from the heart instead of from the head. That fight, I got an ass whooping, but guess what? I came home with the title. You know what they say in boxing: it ain’t how you start, it’s how you finish.

KOD: You were losing by a wide margin on the scorecards. How exactly did the TKO come about? Did you sense your opponent was getting comfortable with the margin? 

MS: No, because he was always afraid, and I just kept wearing him down. I said in that fight that if I’m behind on the scorecards after the 11th or 12th round, I’m going to take a chance. I just hit him with a couple of good combinations, just laid them on him, and got him out of there.

KOD: The rematch one fight later was declared a draw. Who do you believe won the second Starling-Breland showdown. It’s something that people are curious about, after you lost most of the first fight until finishing strong, followed by a draw in the second fight. One judge, Dave Moretti, scoed the fight 115-114 Breland, another had it 114-114, and 116-113 Starling. Those scores are far part, like seeing two totally different fights. 

MS: I beat him even worse in the second fight than I did in the first fight, and I knocked him out in that first fight. Now, you might say “that doesn’t make any sense,” but I beat him worse in that second fight. In that first fight, the only way I could win was to knock him out because of where we were at in the fight. But I knew I won that second fight.

KOD: In July 1988, you fought Tomas Molinares to defend the WBA title you had won from Mark Breland nearly one year earlier. At the conclusion of the 6th round, you were struck after the bell and dropped for the count. Give us your initial reaction and take us through the moment from your perspective. 

MS: If I go back to the tape and look at Marlon Starling fights, I would look at that fight, because I was sharp as a razor in that fight. That was one of the best fights I had. You know the saying “protect yourself at all times.” The last seconds of the round are the last thing I remember. 

KOD: At what point did you come back to consciousness and realize what had happened?

Starling in the Twilight Zone with Larry Merchant
MS: When I was leaving the hotel room getting ready to go on the plane. They said I spent five hours in the hospital. You know, that’s five hours out of my life that I’ll never get back, and I was counted, but I guess my brain wasn’t with me. The last thing I remember is the bell ringing. The next thing I remember was leaving my hotel room to get on the plane. I usually stay there overnight and catch a plane the next day, but I took a private jet home that night because I did twist my leg that night at the end of the round when he hit me.

KOD: Looking back on it, do you believe that was a dirty punch, or was Molinares simply following through on a late combination that connected at on unlucky spot at an unlucky time? 

MS: After I looked at it, I can say that was a dirty punch because he did it after the fourth or fifth round, but my hands got up and caught the punch. I think it was a dirty punch, and the WBA stole that fight from me just to get Mark Breland and Lloyd Honeyghan to fight. Neither one of them could fight eachother because Marlon Starling was the number one contender.

KOD: How did the result of that fight, which was later changed to a no contest, impact your career and your life?

MS: Well, that impacted my career because I didn’t get to fight Lloyd Honeyghan for the unification of the WBA and the WBC. I only got to fight for the WBC title, but that fight should have been for the undisputed championship. That fight cost me over one million dollars.

KOD: In your next fight in February 1989, you fought Lloyd Honeyghan for the WBC welterweight title and won by technical knockout in the 9th round. How emotional was this milestone for you, especially given the turmoil and controversy surrounding the previous fight against Molinares?

Moochie becomes champion of the whole wide world
MS: That fight was for the “championship of the world.” That fight let people know who was the best welterweight on the planet. Lloyd Honeyghan was doing a lot of talking. I knew that Marlon Starling was the best welterweight on the planet years before that, but I never got a chance to prove all that. That day, I fought him for little money, and people thought that Lloyd Honeyghan was going to beat me easily. That was one of the easiest fights of my professional career. I didn’t get paid for it, but I got people to say “Marlon Starling is the best welterweight on the planet,” and that was enough for me.

KOD: The penultimate fight in your career came against Michael Nunn, a majority decision defeat. How does Nunn compare to some of the other fighters you’ve fought? Looking back on it, was that a fight you should have won?

MS: That fight, I was going up two weight classes. I was the WBC welterweight champion. HBO needed a fight for the summer, and at that time, Michael Nunn was the best middleweight out there. I had a great training camp for that fight, and a lot of things changed as far as rulings go. You had heavier gloves, and when I fought Michael Nunn, he hit after the bell a lot. I told them before the fight, if Michael Nunn hit me after the bell, you’re not going to have to tell him because I’m going to be the judge. I fought that fight just to show Michael Nunn that I’m one of the baddest fighters in the world, I don’t care what weight class. If you’re going to fight for the championship of the world, you’ve got to go get it, and I fought that fight just to let him know that I’m one of the best guys out there in any weight class. 

KOD: There’s a big fight upcoming this coming week between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Robert Guerrero. You fought Floyd Sr. and beat him for the USBA title in 1985. What similarities do you see between Junior and Senior?

MS: Shoulder roll. That’s the only thing they do similar. Floyd Mayweather Jr is a lot sharper, he has got a decent left hook, and he loves to counter you with the right hand. The key to beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. is to keep him in the middle of the ring and give him a lot of feints.

KOD: Take your pick for Mayweather Jr-Guerrero. Who wins and why?

Who you picking?
MS: I’m not picking! 

KOD: Why aren’t you picking?

MS: Don’t forget now—I’m going to see these guys again! I don’t want to hear it. People in this sport are so jealous of what everyone says. Listen here: personally speaking, I’ll tell you—Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a darn good fighter, no question about it. He’s a very talented fighter, and that’s it. My parents always said this - if you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say nothing. That’s the way I was raised. You can’t be taught maturity. You’ve got to live it and grow into maturity, you can't be taught that.

KOD: In all of your years as a fighter, what’s your favorite personal story from your years in boxing?

MS: I was young and it was my first time getting on a plane. My trainer back then was a guy named Johnny Duke. When I got on the plane, he said “Marlon, don’t forget to ask the stewardess for your spring shoes.” And I said, “what?” He said “Don’t forget to ask the stewardess for your spring shoes.” And I said, “why?” and he said “if the plane goes down and it’s going to crash, they’ll open the door and you can jump out and bounce on the ground, and you won’t get hurt.” And I asked the lady for my spring shoes, and he started laughing so hard!
The Future of Boxing

KO Digest Interview conducted by Joel "The Future" Sebastianelli

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.
Sebastianelli is the future of boxing journalism and broadcasting.  

Joel can be found Tweeting on Twitter @JJSebastianelli