July 29, 2013

Bantamweights & Below - Boxing's Other Five Weight Divisions Vol. 7

Shiming-mania is running wild
By Derek "DBO" Bonnett ~ The boxing world wants to discuss Zou Shiming. This is actually great news. It's not that often that a 112-pound fighter commands the attention of an entire nation, a premiere boxing network like HBO, and drones of American boxing fans. However, this rollercoaster ride, which is just beginning, is sullied for me because it's just that: a carnival act. It's a pretty lucrative one as well and it's undercutting far more deserving fighters at Bantamweight and Below. While Shiming is pocketing reported purses in excess of half a million dollars and headlining high profile boxing cards, legitimate world class professionals at these weight classes are toiling in obscurity.

These are fighters who have beaten top contenders, fought for world titles, defended championships, and amassed records of far greater experience than Shiming will likely ever have. Yet, in their entire careers, they have not earned the sums of money Shiming has in ten rounds of work. Most likely, they never will. Yes, right now, Shiming's cards have created opportunities for exceptional fighters like Juan Francisco Estrada, Brian Viloria, Milan Melindo, and others not even on the boxing radar. Shiming's cards will continue to do so, but what happens when the show ends?

Shiming goes to 2-0 on HBO2
In two bouts, Shiming has only shown he is still an amateur caliber fighter with an invisible tank top. Once his inevitable demise comes in his fifth, tenth, or fifteenth professional bout -- whenever he is granted a title shot or legitimate contender -- what happens to those fighters who actually deserved to be on center stage? Right now, Shiming is being groomed to hold the weight of the lightest divisions on his back, but Shiming is no Michael Carbajal or Ricardo Lopez; he doesn't have the substance to be charged with such a responsibility. Once this happens, Shiming's life will not be uprooted; he will be a man wealthy beyond the flyweight norm and even the exception. Additionally, all those new fans and the boxing networks will consider his run a failed experiment and leave real lighter weight elites back in the dark waiting for a legitimate savior.

World Class Boxing Results at Bantamweight & Below:

On Friday, June 28, at Casino Hipodrome Agua Caliente, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, Moises Fuentes defeated late sub Gerardo Verde in a ten-round light flyweight bout. Fuentes prevailed with three counts of 99-91, raising his dossier to 17-1-1 (8). Verde fell to 18-6-1 (14). Fuentes retained his number six ranking among my premiere junior flyweights, but fell to seventh later in the month as further divisional developments unfolded. Fuentes recently was held to an unpopular draw with Donnie Nietes after vacating his WBO 105-pound title to move up in weight. He was unable to bring the belt home in enemy territory, but a rematch looms for this rising star of the lightest divisions.

Also on June 28, at World Trade Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Xiong Zhao Zhong won a majority Denver Cuello in a twelve round WBC minimumweight title bout. Cuello was hindered by a shoulder injury after the first round and was reduced to a left-handed fighter. Zhong defended his title for the first time with scores of 113-113, 115-112, and 113-110. The champion raised his ledger to 21-4-1 (11) with the career biggest win. Cuello fell to 33-5-6 (21).

Cuello left the excitement home against Zhao Zhong
Zhong jumped from eight to fourth in my minimumweight ratings. Cuello crashed from first to sixth. Cuello has undergone surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and has been recommended to sit out for the next twelve months to allow for a full recovery. His future is in serious doubt and it's likely this injury robbed him of his shining moment in a career plagued with bad luck.

On Saturday, July 13, at Solaire Hotel Resort & Casino, Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, Merlito Sabillo stopped Jorle Estrada in nine rounds of a WBO minimumweight title bout. Sabillo dropped Estrada with a body shot. The end came at the 1:09 mark. Sabillo made his first defense of the title and raised his record to 23-0 (12). Estrada fell to 17-7 (6). Sabillo held onto his number ten ranking among my top strawweights, but was elevated to ninth after some recent development in the division. Sabillo's ability may be underrated due to his quality of opposition and he may be a fighter soon on the rise.

On Friday, July 19, at King Ramesuan Provincial Stadium, Lop Buri Thailand, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai won by second round KO over Joan Imperial at the 2:15 mark in a non-title bout. Srisaket fought for the first time since claiming the WBC super flyweight belt from Yota Sato. He raised his ledger to 20-3-1 (19). Imperial fell to 9-3-5 (4). Srisaket remained ranked number three among my top 115-pounders. Also on the card, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai won by first round KO over Chandech Sor Ratidech in 1:57. Rungvisai won for the fifth time in 2013 and raised his record to 28-5-1 (11). Ratidech lost his professional debut. Rungvisai remained my number sixth ranked bantamweight. While his activity is admirable, the Thai-boxer's quality of opposition has been woeful since losing to Yota Sato in 2012. His place will be re-evaluated at the end of the year if he has not stepped up in opposition.

On Saturday, July 20, at Domo de la Colosio, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico, Pedro Guevara won a wide unanimous twelve round decision over Mario Rodriguez in a junior flyweight rematch. The judges scored the bout 120-108, 119-110, and 118-110. Guevara raised his dossier to 20-1-1 (13). Rodriguez fell to 15-8-4 (11). Guevara climbed from seventh to sixth in my junior flyweight rankings. Moises Fuentes was pushed from sixth to seventh. Rodriguez was dropped from my strawweight rankings where he was ranked second due to the rise in weight. His progress will be watched if he returns to 105. 

Carlos Buitrago weighs in for a big win against Julian Yedras
Also on July 20, at Centro de Convenciones Siglo XXI, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, Carlos Buitrago won a unanimous twelve round decision over Julian Yedras. The judges scoring saw the bout 118-110, 118-111, and 116-113. Buitrago raised his record to 27-0 (16). Yedras fell to 21-1 (13). Buitrago climbed from eighth to seventh in my strawweight rankings with the win and the exit of Rodriguez.

On Wednesday, July 24, at Central Stadium, Phitsanulok, Thailand, Oleydong Sithsamerchai defeated Hyobu Nakagama by sixth round disqualification in a super flyweight bout. Sithsamerchai won for the fourth time in 2013 and raised his record to 49-1-1 (17). Nakagama fell to 16-11-3 (11). Sithsamerchai remains frozen at numbers seven in my rankings until he takes a greater step up in opposition at 115. 

On Thursday, July 25, at Tokyo Big Site, Tokyo, Japan, Koki Kameda defeated John Mark Apolinario in a twelve round WBA bantamweight title bout. Kameda's reign extended to seven defenses as he dropped his challenger in the tenth and twelfth rounds. The lopsided scores favored the champion 119-107, 118-108, and 117-109. Kameda moved his ledger to 31-1 (17). Apolinario fell to 17-3-3 (4). Kameda kept his number three standing among my throng of top 118 pounders. His career was in great need of a definitive win after a couple close calls back to back.

Estrada pounds Melindo in a 2013 Fight of the Year candidate
On Saturday, July 27, at Venetian Casino and Resort, Macao, China, Juan Francisco Estrada defeated Milan Melindo in a twelve round WBA/WBO flyweight title bout worthy of Fight of the Year consideration. Estrada dropped Melindo late in the eleventh round. The official scores favored the champion 118-109 twice and 117-109, but these scores did not accurately reflect Melindo's strong showing.

Estrada raised his record to 25-2 (18). Melindo fell to 29-1 (12). Estrada affirmed his #1 ranking among the world's best flyweights. Melindo held onto his number six in my rankings with his competitive performance. Estrada has positioned himself for high profile rematches against Roman Gonzalez and Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr., the only two men to defeat him as a professional.

Also in action, Zou Shiming won unanimous decision over Jesus Ortega in a six round flyweight bout. All three judges scored the bout 59-55. Shiming moved to 2-0 (0). Ortega fell to 3-2 (2). Shiming remains unranked and showed no indication that he is ready to be mentioned along the world class flyweights he is presently out-earning.

Bantamweight & Below Featured Rankings: Best of Thailand

Srisaket is #1 in Thailand at Bantamweight and Below
1. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (115) 20-3-1 (19) ~ WBC Super Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins: TKO8 Yota Sato, KO2 Alvin Bais ~ Notable Fact: Rungvisai started his career 0-2-1.

2. Suriyan Sor Rungvisai (118) 28-5-1 (11) ~ Former WBC Super Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins: UD12 Tomas Rojas, UD12 Nobou Nashiro ~ Notable Fact: A one point deduction cost him a draw with a primed Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in 2010.

3. Tepparith Kokietgym (Singwancha) (115) 23-3 (13) ~ Former WBA Super Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins: UD12 Drian Francisco, UD12 Daiki Kameda ~ Notable Fact: Kokietgym lost to Suriyan Sor Rungvisai in his fifth professional bout.

4. Oleydong Sithsamerchai (115) 49-1-1 (17) ~ Former WBC Minimumweight Champion ~ Best Wins: UD12 Eagle Den Junlaphan, Tech. Dec. 11 Muhammad Rachman ~ Notable Fact: Sithsamerchai fought six times in 2012. He fought for the fourth time in 2013 this week.

5. Wanheng Menayothin (105) 29-0 (10) ~ #1 WBC 105 Contender ~ Best Win: UD12 Florante Condes ~ Notable Fact: Menayothin won the WBC Youth title in just his third professional bout.

6. Kompayak Porpramook (112) 50-4 (35) ~ Former WBC Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins: KO10 Adrian Hernandez, Tech. Dec. 5 Jonathon Taconing ~ Notable Fact: Porpramook has defeated eighteen boxers making their professional debuts.

7. Denkaosan Kaovichit (115) 61-3-1 (26) ~ Former WBA Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins: KO2 Takefumi Sakata, MD12 Daiki Kameda ~ Notable Fact: Kaovichit started his career fighting twelve round fights.

8. Paiphrob Kokietgym (105) 21-0 (16) ~ #4 WBO 105 Contender ~ Best Wins: UD12 Jesus Silvestre, KO4 Rey Migreno ~ Notable Fact: Kokietgym has never fought outside of his native Thailand.

9. Pungluang Sor Singyu (118) 44-2 (29) ~ Former WBO Bantamweight Champion ~ Best Wins: TKO9 AJ Banal, UD10 Eden Sonsona ~ Notable Fact: Singyu is only 5' 1" in a division with champions 5'6", 5'7", and 5'8".

10. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (112) 89-5-2 (47) ~ Former Two-Time WBC Flyweight champion ~ Best Wins: UD12 Edgar Sosa, TKO1 Malcolm Tunacao, MD12 Koki Kameda ~ Notable Fact: Wonjongkam defended his first WBC title seventeen times.

Bantamweight & Below: Give That Man a Title Shot!

"Jibran" wants to trade WBC Silver for WBC Gold
Pedro Guevara, 20-1-1 (13), has been making a statement in the junior flyweight division since his controversial split decision loss to IBF champion John Riel Casimero in August 2012. Guevara rose from a first round knockdown to give the champ all he could handle. The knockdown proved the deciding factor on one judge's scorecard.

Guevara has had a big 2013 in his first two starts. In March, he fought tooth and nail against two-time world champion Raul Garcia and prevailed by an equally narrow split decision. The Mexican contender, known as "Jibran", followed up that victory by comprehensive outpointing recently dethroned champion Mario "Dragoncito" Rodriguez on Fox Deportes. The win avenged a 2011 draw, which is the only other blemish on Guevara's record. Guevara has also defeated recent world title challengers Jorle Estrada and Karluis Diaz in quicker fashion than current title holders Merlito Sabillo and Alberto Rossel respectively.

"I just have to say [I was] very well prepared to meet this challenge and that first time we [fought] Mario, I did not have the maturity I have now," Guevara stated for KO Digest readers. "In the fight against Casimero, I [left the ring] a little sad and frustrated because I wanted to get the world championship, but couldn't. It was one of the fights that taught me a lot and that influenced my performance to be better. I hope that now that I can defend my title again [to earn] the opportunity to fight for the world championship. This is something I really want and I feel that I can achieve."

Prior to the Rodriguez rematch, Guevara was ranked as high as number three by the WBC. On the merit of these accomplishments, it seems only fit that one of the boxing organization Give That Man a Title Shot! With one defense of the WBC's 108-pound Silver title under Guevara's belt, good things could be expedited.

Bantamweights & Below — On the Horizon:

On Thursday, August 1, at Cebu City Waterfront Hotel & Casino, Barangay Lahug, Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines, Paulus Ambunda versus Tomoki Kameda in a twelve round WBO bantamweight title bout: The newly crowned champion looks to make his first title defense against the youngest, and perhaps most talented, of the Kameda boxing family. Also on August 1, in Bangkok, Thailand, Kompayak Porpramook versus Koki Eto in a twelve round interim WBA flyweight title bout: The former WBC 108-pound champion looks to defend his new interim belt at 112.

On Saturday, August 3, at Arena Roberto Duran, Panama City, Panama, Luis Concepcion versus Nestor Daniel Narvaes in a twelve round flyweight bout: Concepcion, one of boxing's most exciting former champions, looks to extend his win-streak to six against this recent world title challenger.

Chemito back in action after the loss to Mares
On Saturday, August 10, at Megapolis Convention Center, Panama City, Panama, Anselmo Moreno versus William Urina in a twelve round WBA bantamweight title bout.

On Monday, August 12, at Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan, Shinsuke Yamanaka versus Jose Nieves in a twelve round WBC bantamweight title bout; Akira Yaegashi versus Oscar Blanquet in a twelve round WBC flyweight title bout: Two of Japan's top performers look to extend their reigns against softer opposition than they are used to.

On Friday, August 23, in Bangkok, Thailand, Denkaosan Kaovichit versus Nobuo Nashiro in a twelve round interim WBA super flyweight title bout: Two popular former world champions collide to stay relevant in their division.

On Saturday, August 24, in Chubut, Argentina, Omar Andres Narvaez versus Hiroyuki Hisataka in a twelve round WBO super flyweight title bout: One of boxing's defensive masters takes on a tough perennial contender. Also on August 24, at Coliseo Miguel Grau, Callao, Peru, Alberto Rossel versus Jose Alfredo Zuniga in a twelve round interim WBA title bout: Peru's only world champion takes on a proven spoiler.

On Saturday, August 31, in Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico, Adrian Hernandez versus Atsushi Kakutani in a twelve round WBC light flyweight title bout: The Mexican titlist continues to pad his reign while waiting for a more significant bout.

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

You can find more of Derek's writings/ratings on www.SecondsOut.com 

You can also contact the author Derek Bonnett on Facebook

July 20, 2013

KO Digest Ringside Report - Lundy dominates, Polish Prince KO's Soto

SALEM, NH With a brutal heat wave in full effect in the New England area and temperatures outside climbing into triple digits, DiBella Entertainment and ESPN Friday Night Fights brought boxing back to the historic Rockingham Park race track for the first time since 2007.

Thankfully, the temperature at ringside was considerably cooler but that didn't stop the fighters from bringing heated action to a capacity crowd of 1,100 frenzied fight fans. 

In the televised main event, "Hammerin" Hank Lundy was a hammer all night, and his opponent was a nail. Lundy did exactly what he needed to do (box) to win his important crossroads fight against Nigerian brute Ajose Olusegun. Fans will remember Olusegun, 139.8, for the awful beating he took last year at the heavy hands of Lucas Matthysse. For the 29 year old Lundy, loser of his last two fights, this was truly a must win situation. Few expected he'd be able to deliver and many, including this reporter, assumed Lundy would be hammered by Ajose. By boxing southpaw, using his jab, and moving smartlyLundy, 140, controlled the ring and limited the heavy exchanges while hammering his confused opponent when suitable opportunities presented themselves. Fans were expecting a war but instead what they got was a boxing match that featured one way skirmishes in favor of Philadelphia's Lundy.

Lundy all business before, during, and after the fight
KO Digest scored every round for Hammerin Hank, a 100-90 shutout. Official scores for Lundy were unanimous 98-92, 98-92, and 100-90. The victory returns Lundy to the win column and it also returns him to the status of legitimate top ten contender in the talent rich junior welterweight division. Said the victorious Lundy who raised his record to 23-3-1, 11 KO's, "I'm a southpaw killer. Everybody counted me out. I told the world I'm a big player at 140 and I can punch. I want the champ and if I can't get the champ, I want Lucas Mattysse then I want Danny Garcia."

The co-main event stole the show at Rockingham Park and produced a highlight reel moment! Known as "The Polish Prince" Quincy, MA's popular junior lightweight prospect Ryan Kielczweski entertained his fans with a nice display of boxing, even managing to mix in power punches to the body in the third before settling back down into cruise control in the fourth. The fight was taking an uncharacteristically aggressive tone in fifth when Kielczweski, 128.6, suddenly caught lightning in a bottle.

The Polish Prince celebrates the KO of the Night
His opponent Miguel Soto brought an intimidating 11-0, 11 KOs record into the ring but power only helps when you can land it and the Puerto Rican was sporting a Rahman-esque lumpy right eye in the fifth when Kielczweski layed his man out with a single left hook at 2:59 of the round. Soto, 129.2, literally bounced off the canvas face first while Kielczweski went understandably crazy in celebration! The unbeaten Police Prince improved his record to 17-0, 4 KOs while Soto loses his "0" and falls to 11-1, 11 KOs.

This was your KO Digest "KO of the Night" and ironically it couldn't have been scored by a less intimidating puncher! That explains what Kielczweski wished for today when he blew out the candles on his birthday cake. Happy 24th to the Polish Prince!

The Animal Kinch looks up at the Prince
Charles Williams TKO4 Aaron Kinch - This heavyweight undercard match featured tall against tubby as the rangy "Prince" Charles Martin, 239.4, took his time beating 264 pound Aaron "The Animal" Kinch into submission in the fourth round of a scheduled six. Kinch did his best Butterbean impression in the first with looping overhand lefts and rights that his more seasoned opponent avoided to deliver his own shots. Williams scored a knockdown in the third off a right hook and poured it on in the fourth to bring a referee stoppage at 2:55. Martin, St. Louis, MO goes to 9-0-1, 8 KOs while Kinch, Newark, NJ, falls to 5-2, 1 KO.

Gerald Schifone W4 Noel Garcia - It was a successful middleweight pro debut for Brockton, MA's Gerald Schifone, 155.4, as he pounded out an easy 4-round decision over the game but extremely limited Noel Garcia, 150.4, from nearby Springfield, MA. Official scores were little more than a formality. All three judges scored the fight 40-36 in favor of Schifone who hurt his now 2-19 opponent to some degree in every single round of the fight.     

Russell Lamour TKO1 Aquilano Brandao - In the evening opener, Portland, ME middleweight prospect Russell "The Haitian Sensation" Lamour (4-0, 2 KOs) made short work of Worcester, MA's Aquilano Brandao at 1:46 of the first round after scoring three knockdowns, including one from a wicked right hand to the body, before the fight was waved off. It was a tough pro debut for Brandao, 160.4, but it was just the kind of win Lamour, 164.6, needed after looking shaky winning a decision in Lowell, MA last March against rugged trialhorse Eddie Caminero. 

Santos finally disposes of Marlon Hayes
Alexis Santos TKO4 Marlon Hayes - This one was fought after the Main Event and what a heavyweight "fight" it wasNOT! Hayes spent the first three rounds posturing and acting like a general fool before Santos (Lawrence, MA) finished him off with an accumulation of punishment in the fourth.

The unfit Hayes collapsed in a heap in a corner and the referee mercifully (finally) waved this one off to the delight of local fans there to see Santos hurt somebody. Santos, 221, goes to 10-0, 9 KOs while Hayes (who began his career as a middleweight) slips to 23-12. Fans love Santos, that's for sure!

Chris Gilbert TKO3 Luis Viramontes - Little more than a tune-up for Vermont's junior middleweight Chris "Gumby" Gilbert, 147.8, as he applied more than enough pressure and punishment to convince the elder looking Viramontes, 149.6, not to answer the bell for the 3rd. Gilbert improves to 9-0, 7 KO's while Viramontes goes home to Brockton with a cut on the back of his head and a 3-3-1 record.

In a heavyweight "walk-out" bout, the Henry Tillman trained Jonathan Hamm (247.6, Atlanta, GA) lost a majority decision to the Jack Loew trained Daniel Martz, 252, over the distance. Scores were 57-57, 59-55, and 58-56 in favor of Martz. Hamm goes to 7-2 while Martz improves to 9-1. Neither fighter looked particularly like a future champ!

Images and Word by Jeffrey Freeman

July 15, 2013

A Review of KO Digest's "Spotlight on Boxing's Up and Comers"

The first and the best - Gary Russell Jr
By Terry Strawson - Since we at KO Digest began shining our 'Spotlight on Boxing's Up and Comers' last November, we've featured some of the brightest prospects and contenders that boxing has to offer. We've highlighted their stories from dimly lit gyms to the bright lights of HBO and SHO and given insight into their journeys from the bottom to the top. This month, instead of featuring a new fighter, we'll review the recent activities of our profiled fighters, in and out of the ring. In a year that promises to turn some of these prospects into contenders and contenders into champions - one or two have been less fortunate.

Gary Russell Jr, recognized by many to posses the fastest hands in boxing, was the first fighter we focused on last November in our ever-growing Spotlight series. Since then, Russell Jr (now 22-0, 13 KOs) from Capitol Heights, MD, has beaten Vyachaslev Gusev by unanimous decision and was scheduled to fight in Brooklyn, NY, on the undercard of the now scrapped Bernard Hopkins-Karo Murat bout. That card fell through due to Murat's inability to acquire the necessary travel visa, an issue that has since been resolved. We should look forward to seeing one or two more fights from Russell Jr. before a possible showdown with featherweight champ Abner Mares - a fellow Golden Boy Promotions fighter. 

Thurman beats Zaveck by decision
On the SHO undercard of Andre Berto against Jesus Soto Karass on July 27th in San Antonio, TX, welterweight Keith "One Time" Thurman (featured last December on KO Digest) will square off against fellow knockout artist Diego Chaves as both put their undefeated records and reputations on the line. "All is going well and according plan," said Thurman. "We're just shaving down the knife, we're getting it nice and sharp and getting ready for this performance on the 27th. We have intentions of throwing bombs all night. That means every single round I will be throwing some of them critical blows. It's not that every shot I throw will be a bomb but at any point during the fight a knockout can occur."

Thurman (now 20-0, 18 KOs) trained by Dan Birmingham in Florida, has been getting rounds under his belt with Daquan Arnett (11-0) and readying himself to exploit the shortcomings of Chaves. "Sometimes he'll lunge in with a big wide left hook, I have seen him miss it many times. If he steps in with that over-zealous knockout mentality, if he happens to throw that wide hook, I plan on shutting it down with a short one of my own. There are things we saw on film and we'll be looking for them come fight night. Bombs will be dropping all night!" It's a huge opportunity for Thurman and his last two victories, over the durable Jan Zaveck and the experienced Carlos Quintana, should see him better equipped than the talented yet relatively untested interim WBA 147 lb champ Chaves. In the second installment of Golden Boy's Knockout Kings series, Thurman and Chaves bring 36 knockouts out of a combined 42 fights to the table. This one should not go the distance. The fight will be televised on Showtime in the US and on Super Channel in Canada.

Another opponent goes By-By for Jennings
Philadelphia born heavyweight contender Bryant "By-By" Jennings (spotlighted in January) continued his surge toward a title shot with a hard fought victory last month over Andrey Fedosov. Once again on NBC's Fight Night in front of his own fans, Jennings showed more of the boxing skills and commitment to a craft that he only picked up very recently, having turned pro in 2010. Fedosov, a big strong Russian-born fighter, came to fight and certainly had his moments but Jennings was not to be denied. The bout was stopped in the 6th on a cut to Fedosov, and Jennings improved his record to 17-0, 9 KO's. His rise in the sport has been honest and Jennings has performed well against gradually improving opposition - his 2012 knockout of Bowie Tupou for the USBA title shouldn't be overlooked.

At 6'2 and 225 lbs, Jennings' size, or lack of it, could be a factor as his fights, and his opponents, continue to get bigger.

In Houston, TX, another KO Digest Up and Comer Ricardo Williams Jr, is training and awaiting resolution to a similar issue made public by Andre Ward recently. Williams Jr. (featured last February) and Ward share the same manager; James Prince. Prince and promoter Dan Goossen have been engaged in a legal battle, and the career of Williams Jr. has been affected in the meantime. "I'm in a bit of a different situation [than Ward] but basically I haven't fought as many times that's required in my contract. I just don't feel like I'm getting the attention that I need, to get to where I need to be," said Williams Jr. The slick Olympic silver medalist from 2000 has not been in the ring since his somewhat controversial victory over then undefeated Golden Boy prospect Luis Ramos, on FOX Sports late last year. Ranked 9th at junior welterweight by the IBF, Williams Jr. could be in a worse position but it appears that his future lies away from Goossen Tutor and negotiations to part ways are in the works. "I don't think it's going to be a problem. I've pretty much done everything he asked of me, fought who he wanted me to fight, we're not on bad terms, but if boxing is what I'm gonna be doing then I need to start doing it a little bit more."

Williams Jr did name a potential suitor from New York that unfortunately cannot be revealed at the time of writing.

Nelson fights inside against Cuello
Willie "The Great" Nelson, the 6'3" junior middleweight contender from Cleveland, OH, came through a tougher than expected bout against Luciano Cuello on HBO last month after being featured last March. In a fight that saw him suffer two cuts over his right eye, Nelson showed moments of quality yet was engaged in a war of attrition for the majority of the bout. "Cuello was tougher than I expected. He was game, and he came to win. He came to fight me." In the first round, Nelson came out strong. His attack was aggressive and he appeared to be putting everything on each and every shot that landed on the shorter Cuello. "I pretty much just got excited doing too much trying to impress the fans," confessed Nelson of his first round display on the Gennady Golovkin headlined HBO card from Foxwoods, CT

Due to the natural and obvious attributions of Nelson's height and reach, trainer Jack Loew can often be heard pleading with, and berating, his charge in between rounds to employ the jab more. Nelson, a tall fighter more comfortable in closer quarters, told KO Digest that Loew had issue with his "listening in the corner" and that the verbal abuse on the stool was a case of the former Trainer of the Year simply "doing his job." And doing it well, too. Nelson (now 21-1-1, 12 KOs) made a hard fight harder against a capable fighter whose only prior losses have come against Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Despite not scoring a knockout, his impressive run continues and although nothing is scheduled as of now, Nelson remains focused, stating - "I want to be a world champion by 2014."

Mayfield has a fight scheduled vs Pavel Miranda
One fighter who has struggled to find fights, yet now finds himself on the verge of a world title shot, is Karim "Hard Hitta" Mayfield. A heavy handed junior welterweight contender from San Francisco, Mayfield has not been inside the ring since we spoke back in April. His most recent outing was a less than spectacular - but noteworthy defeat of Mauricio Herrera on HBO back in October 2012. Outside of the ring, Mayfield recently put pen to paper on a promotional deal with Bob Arum's Top Rank and, according to Mayfield, a fight with WBA titlist Khabib Allakhverdiev could materialize at some point in the year. A shot against Allakhverdiev (also attached to Top Rank) would conceivably be the easiest route to a title and more realistic than his other targets. "There's a few fights out there that I would definitely like to have. Obviously Danny Garcia, I have been calling him out but he's not sure if he's fighting Lucas Matthysse, I'm not sure what's going on, he's just running from everybody. And shit, Adrien Broner said that he'd let the fans pick his next opponent and I'd like to be a candidate to fight that guy. But, with that being said, I don't know if there is a possibility of that right there," said Mayfield to KO Digest, seemingly eluding to the ongoing stalemate between Golden Boy and Top Rank that, barring a mini miracle, would prevent such bouts from taking place. For now, Mayfield (still 17-0-1, 10 KOs) is staying busy and has been helping Berto prepare for his upcoming fight against Karass. As we went to press, Mayfield signed to fight Pavel Miranda on the undercard of Chavez Jr and Brian Vera on October 7th.

A tainted Love saw a win become a no-decision
Just hours after we made middleweight J'Leon Love the focus of our attention in May, news broke via ESPN's Dan Rafael that Love had tested positive for a banned diuretic substance. The Nevada State Athletic Commission has since suspended Love for six months, fined him $10,000 and overturned his controversial NABF middleweight title victory over Gabriel Rosado, rendering it a no-decision. A swift change of fortunes for the boxer-puncher from Inkster, MI., who only has himself to blame. After what had been a huge milestone win for the young Mayweather Promotions fighter, his future now seems very uncertain. Love (15-0, 8 KOs) is definitely not the first fighter to endure such pitfalls and he certainly won't be the last, but he does have some work to do.

How much longer will Bellew have to wait?
Liverpool born Tony Bellew, the most recent boxer profiled, is currently on a much deserved vacation in Mexico and was unavailable for comment. After two grueling fights in as many months against the extremely tough Isaac Chilemba, Bellew is now the mandatory WBC challenger to World Light Heavyweight Champion Adonis Stevenson, a fight that will go to purse bids on July 26th. The proposed bout between the two power-punching light heavyweights could go ahead later in the year unless a mooted fight between Stevenson and former IBF champion Tavoris Cloud gets in the way, a scenario that can only unfold with the blessing of Bellew and promoter Eddie Hearn.

It will be interesting to see how the mini-saga unravels as 'Bomber' has already fought three WBC ordered eliminators.

And so there you have it fight fans, a look back and a look ahead at each of the eight promising prizefighters who have been spotlighted as a part KO Digest's popular "Boxing's Up and Comers" series. Be sure to join us next month as we again shine our spotlight on a brand new up and coming boxer making waves on the way up the ranks.

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

Written by Terry Strawson ~ exclusively for KO Digest

July 8, 2013

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science - Women's Boxing Monthly Vol. 5

Does a place in the IBHOF await Mia St. John?
By Mark A. Jones – Women's boxing pioneer Mia St. John attended the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) inductions in June. On the second day of festivities, Mia gave a ringside lecture speaking on her boxing career and answered questions from the gathered fans. Later in the month, she underwent hip replacement surgery, officially retired from boxing, and celebrated her 46th birthday on June 24th.

Compiling an impressive record of (47-13-2, 18 KOs) St. John has established herself as one of the most influential female boxers ever, appearing on Bob Arum boxing cards during an era when women’s boxing enjoyed immense popularity. Her efforts, in concert with Christy Martin and Laila Ali, maneuvered women’s boxing into the mainstream during the late 90's and the early portion of the next decade; a level of popularity that women’s boxing has failed to achieve in the United States since. St. John's achievements as a women’s boxing pioneer are arguably Hall of Fame worthy.

On April 13, heavyweight Sonya Lamonakis (7-1-2, 1 KO) New York, New York lost a unanimous decision to Martha Salazar (12-4, 3 KOs) San Francisco, California. It was later discovered that the first four rounds were three minutes long when normally, women’s professional contests are two minutes in duration. In June, a hearing was conducted by the State of California on the matter determining that Salazar will keep the victory - labeling it a “technical win.”

A return match will take place in New York City in August.

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

Styles make fights. A great example of this was on display in Mexico on June 1 as two top-level junior flyweights met in an event named, “Dangerous Curves," Yesica Yolanda “Tuti” Bopp (24-1, 11 KO’s) Argentina, typically a lead puncher, challenged Jessica “Kika” Chavez (18-3-2, 4 KO’s) Mexico, primarily a counter-puncher, for the WBC Silver female light flyweight title held by Chavez. Early in the career of both, they met for the interim WBA light flyweight title with Bopp winning the fight by a lopsided unanimous decision. Since, Chavez has developed and flourished, losing only to the KO Digest’s #11 pound-for-pound boxer, Esmeralda Moreno, eight fights ago in 2011.

Bopp battles Chavez
Bopp, ever-popular in her home country of Argentina, and the reigning WBO, WBA light flyweight champion (titles not on the line), traveled to Mexico to acquire yet another legitimate light flyweight title from Chavez and suffered her first career loss having a hard time of it from the opening bell. As counter-punchers often do, Chavez started slowly allowing Bopp to establish an early lead as Chavez established proper range and studied the punch patterns of her more decorated opponent. In round three and continuing over the middle rounds, Chavez began to fire on all cylinders, countering Bopp’s attack with well-placed shots. Bopp struggled with the midrange variety of Chavez and resorted to clinching or moving away in an attempt to draw Chavez towards her in a straight-line, an approach the 24-year-old Bopp is more comfortable handling.

Bopp rallied in the ninth and tenth rounds as she sensed that the fight was slipping away, and Chavez slowed due to the high pace of the battle. In the end, the fight was consummated on the highest level with both fighters battling every minute of every round. The judges, two from Mexico and one from the United States, ruled in favor of Chavez (97-93/97-93/96-95) KO Digest also scored for Chavez, (96-95). With the win, Chavez set up possible super-fights with fellow Mexican junior flyweights, Esmeralda Moreno (25-6, 9 KO’s) or the current WBC junior flyweight champion, Ibeth Zamora Silva. Bopp still holds the WBO, WBA junior flyweight titles and is currently scheduled to defend in July.

Mathis in position to unify
On June 1 in Dombasle-sur-Meurthe, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France, in front of her hometown fans, KO Digest’s #7 pound-for-pound female boxer, Anne Sophie Mathis (27-3, 23 KOs) returned to her winning ways after two consecutive decision defeats to Holly Holm and Cecilia Braekhus respectively, by winning the WBF female light middleweight title with a fifth round stoppage of the tough Yahaira Hernandez (14-5, 8 KOs) Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic. Mathis, one of the most dangerous punchers in the history of women’s boxing, put Hernandez on the deck briefly midway through the first round with a right cross to the head. The remainder of the fight was an all-our war witnessing both fighters throwing bombs with Mathis accurately landing crisply inside the wide looping punches of Hernandez. The end came in the fifth when Hernandez turned her back on her hard punching opponent approximately ten seconds after taking a well-placed uppercut to the liver. The referee administered an 8-count and stopped the fight when it appeared that Hernandez was unable to proceed. With the win, Mathis positioned herself well if she desires to battle the popular Maria Lindberg in a European super-fight or any of the division’s champions: Oxandia Castillo (WBO), Tiffany Junot (WBC), Layla McCarter (WBA), or Jennifer Retzke (IBF).

On June 14 in Stockholm, Sweden, Diana Prazak (12-2, 8 KOs) Los Angeles, California, by way of Melbourne, Australia, scored a stunning knockout in the eighth round of the previously unbeaten, Frida “Golden Girl” Wallberg (11-1, 2 KOs) Gothenburg, Sweden. Wallberg was sharp early landing crisply and moving out of the way of any responses from her determined challenger. Wallberg seemingly lost a step in the fifth round allowing the normally pedestrian moving Prazak into the fight. Prazak landed with considerable power punches to the body and head over the remainder of the bout, buckling the knees of Wallberg in the seventh with a right cross; a punch that in retrospect Wallberg never recovered from. At 1:02 of the eighth round, Prazak landed a well-placed counter left-hook on the point of Wallberg’s chin, felling her to the canvas. Wallberg rose from the knockdown appearing wobbly but was allowed to continue until a clubbing right hand, a punch that Wallberg normally absorbs in stride, knocked her to the canvas for a second time where the fight was properly halted by the referee. At the time of the stoppage, Wallberg was leading on all three scorecards, (68-65). KO Digest also had Wallberg leading, 67-66 giving her each of the first four rounds and Prazak 5-7.

Lucia Rijker prevents a terrible tragedy from getting any worse
What was witnessed next is an incitement on the lack of a well-seasoned boxing culture in Sweden and gross incompetence from Wallberg’s trainer, William Nguesseu who himself retired from the sport due to a head injury. The trainer failed to set the freshly knocked out Wallberg on a stool as the ringside doctor examined her as she slumped over the ropes. It was only after the prompting of Prazak and her trainer, Lucia Rijker that Wallberg was positioned on a stool, and the ringside doctor was summoned to return to the ring to examine Wallberg for a second time.

As a result of Team Prazak’s timely intervention, Wallberg was removed from the ring on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital where it was discovered that she sustained a subdural hematoma which required emergency brain surgery. Thankfully, Wallberg awoke from a medically induced coma a few days later and posted positive comments to Facebook. In 2009, Rita Figueroa suffered a brain injury that required emergency surgery ending her boxing career. Concerning the Wallberg injury, Rita commented, “It was ridiculous that she was not attended to right away, and it took at least 30 seconds for someone to even get her a stool. Thank God Lucia was there and got things moving. Doctors need to be more prepared to look for signs of head injury; it’s a matter of life and death. A minute or two is crucial at that time.” With the win, Prazak claims the WBC super featherweight belt and sits on top of a skilled division that also boasts, “Queen” Ronica Jeffrey, Amanda “The Real Deal” Serrano, and popular Peruvian, Kina Malpartida.

Winner and still champ - Erica "La Pantera" Farias
On June 15 in Buenos Aires, KO Digest’s #2 pound-for-pound female boxer, Erica Anabella “La Pantera” Farias (17-0, 9 KOs) Argentina, defended her WBC female lightweight title with a 10-round unanimous decision victory over the super-tough, Chika Mizutani (14-4, 7 KOs) Tokyo, Japan. Always a quick starter, Farias threw hard leather early and often only to discover that her opponent was up to the task of challenging for a world title, owning competent enough boxing fundamentals to avoid the most devastating punch in the arsenal of the champion, the right cross. Farias continued her attack unabated throwing her wide left-hook to set up her straight right cross which landed often enough to pile up points but failing to secure a knockout. During an exchange near the end of the fourth round, Farias landed a counter right uppercut that caused Mizutani to briefly drop to a knee; displaying excellent recovery skills, Mizutani survived the remainder of the round and showed no ill effects of the punch during round five. A knockout victory eluded Farias who has knocked down eight of her last ten opponents stopping seven of them. With the win, Farias is looking at an exciting matchup against the WBC’s #1 contender at lightweight, Delfine Persoon (24-1, 10 KOs) Belgium who has developed into a devastating puncher with her right hand.

On June 29 in Mexico and televised on Fox Deportes, Yazmin “La Rusita” Rivas (28-7, 9 KOs) Torreon, Mexico, successfully defended her IBF female bantamweight title with a ten-round unanimous decision shutout victory over Kimka Miyoshi (8-6-1, 3 KOs) Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan (100-90 x3). Miyoshi, best known for her split decision victory over Riyo Togo, fought outside Japan for the first time in her career was thoroughly outclassed by the technically proficient Rivas. Rivas is likely to defend next against, Carolina Raquel Duer (14-3-1, 5 KOs) Argentina who is the #1 contender and the WBO female super flyweight champion. On the same card, Ibeth Zamora Silva (18-5, 8 KOs) defended the WBC female light flyweight title with an eighth round stoppage of Maricela “La Baby” Quintero (11-4-1, 0 KOs) Culiacan, Mexico. Silva, the for WBA minimumweight champion, won the vacant WBC female light flyweight title in March with a ten-round split decision victory over Naoko Shibata in Tokyo, Japan.

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

La Tigresa ready to roar again?
On July 13, in Tucuman, Argentina, KO Digest’s pound-for-pound #9 female boxer, Melissa Hernandez (18-4-3, 6 KOs) Miami, Florida, faces Argentinian female boxing legend, Marcela Eliana “La Tigresa” Acuna (38-6-1, 17 KOs) Caseros, Buenos Aires, Argentina for the interim WBO featherweight title. The WBO featherweight champion, Alejandra Marina “Locomotora” Oliveras (30-2-2, 15 KOs) Argentina, was seeking at least $50,000 to defend against Hernandez forcing the Argentinian promoter, Osvaldo Rivero to secure Acuna to meet negotiated television commitments. At the age of 36, Acuna is nearing the end of an illustrious career that witnessed her dominate the super bantamweight division going unbeaten from 2006 to December 2012 besting such greats as, Jackie Nava, Alicia Ashley, Yazmin Rivas and the previously mentioned Oliveras. Despite her success at super bantamweight, her ventures north to featherweight and junior welterweight have been met with mixed results losing to Christy Martin, Lucia Rijker, and Sharon Anyos.

Hernandez looking to get back in the title picture
The 33-year-old Hernandez has won titles at super bantamweight, featherweight, super featherweight, and lightweight essentially migrating to where the opportunities exist. Losing the WBC featherweight title on May 31 by a technical decision to Jelena Mrdjenovich likely fueled her quest to secure another featherweight title even on an interim basis. Although she is two inches shorter than Acuna, Hernandez is the naturally bigger fighter and owns a significant hand speed advantage. She will look to counter at close range where Acuna is weaker stylistically. Acuna, as was witnessed in her January draw with WBA, WBO super bantamweight title holder, Yesica Patricia Marcos (21-0-2, 7 KOs), will look to fight from long-range where she is still respectable. In Acuna’s home country of Argentina, Hernandez will have to dominate each round to ensure a close decision victory. This is an excellent match-up of two borderline Hall of Fame boxers with contrasting styles.

On July 13, in Dresden, Sachsen, Germany, KO Digest’s #4 pound-for-pound female boxer, and two-division champion, Christina Hammer (14-0, 7 KOs) Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany defends her WBF and WBO middleweight titles against Mikaela “Destiny” Lauren (19-2, 7 KOs) Stockholm, Sweden. Hammer, aged 22 last saw action on May 4 when she dismantled Zita Zatyko winning a unanimous decision and the WBF and WBO female super middleweight titles. Holding two wins over the current IBF welterweight title holder, Eva Halasi and decision victories over junior middleweight, Rachael Clark, and welterweights, Cindy Serrano, and Jill Emery: Lauren has constructed a boxing record worthy of a second attempt at the welterweight titles held by Cecilia Braekhus; an attempt at Hammer’s middleweight titles is an indictment on the quality of the middleweight division of women’s boxing. In 2010, Braekhus defended the WBC, WBA, and WBO welterweight titles stopping Lauren in the seventh round. Hammer will pound out a stoppage victory in the middle rounds preserving her titles without much difficulty. That said the 37-year-old Lauren has a widespread following in Europe that, in concert with the ever-growing popularity of Hammer in Germany, will ensure a large following of this matchup for as long as it lasts.

July 13 boasts yet another gorgeous matchup in women’s boxing. In addition to the battles mentioned above, Marina “Barbie” Juarez (36-7-3, 16 KOs) Mexico City, Mexico, receives an opportunity to set things straight with the iron-fisted, Riyo Togo (10-4-1, 9 KOs) Tokyo, Japan with both the WBC super-flyweight division’s #1 ranking and the WBC International female super flyweight title on the line. Togo won the title on April 27 knocking out Juarez in the first round when Juarez made the mistake of brawling with a brawler. Juarez secures the rematch because the lure of Juarez challenging the WBC Super flyweight titleholder and fellow Mexican, Zulina Munoz (38-1-2, 25 KOs) in a Mexican super-fight is extremely attractive barring Juarez getting past Togo. Juarez, at the age of 33, has lost two of her last five with two of the wins coming by split decision. The evidence would suggest that Juarez is sliding down the other side of the hill; a trip that all fighters face if they hang around long enough. There is perhaps no other country more supportive of women’s boxing than Mexico where Juarez enjoys rock star status.

Agripino ready to dive into the world of pro boxing
On July 27 at the Twin River Event Center, Lincoln, Rhode Island, Marcia Agripino, Ledyard, CT, makes her professional debut in a 4-round fight against Vanessa “Lil Gladiator” Greco (1-2-3, 0 KOs) Brooklyn, NY. In women’s boxing, records generally fail to disclose to what level a fighter is performing; three-time New York Daily News Golden Gloves Champion, Vanessa Greco is a case in point. In an era dominated by meaningless volume punching; infighting and body punching are almost lost traits. Greco employs both strategies. Judges, who over the past two decades have become enamored with volume punching, often overlook her close-range work. Having amateur accomplishments of her own, Agripino, under the tutelage of Peter Manfredo Sr, won the 2010 Rocky Marciano Tournament at the Harvard Club in Boston. A bonus of training under Manfredo Sr is that Agripino trains daily alongside world ranked super bantamweight, Shelly Vincent. “Training with Shelly has been a huge part of my training since I started boxing in 2007. I have learned a lot from her, she pushes me to be a better fighter, and she is one of the best,” said Agripino. Most fighters ease into their professional careers by dipping a big toe into the water as a test. Agripino, with her assignment on the 27th, is diving into the deep end of the pool head first.

Three Questions - Sweet Side Q&A with Brandi Montoya

Southpaw bantamweight Brandi “Baby Doll” Montoya (5-2, 0 KOs) originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the current WIBA youth super bantamweight title holder, began her professional career with two losses before rattling off five consecutive victories including a grudge-match win over Natalie Roy who spoiled Montoya’s professional debut winning a majority decision. Her most impressive victory is a 2012 eight-round unanimous decision victory over Chantel Cordova who just a year earlier battled Arely Mucino for the IBF female flyweight title. Since then, Montoya has joined the United States Marine Corps. KO Digest investigates with a special 4th of July edition of Three Questions:

Semper Fighter
Q: Why did you join the US Marines?

A: I joined the Marine Corps because I was having trouble paying for college, fighting, working and living on my own. When I was considering the military, I would talk to people about it and the reputation that the United States Marine Corp had was fascinating. I desired an MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) that would translate into a civilian career. And to be able to say that I joined the smallest, roughest, toughest and most prideful military branch!

Q: Which is more important to you, winning a fight or defending America?  

A: Defending my country, well it’s just as rewarding as winning a fight, but I think it’s an extremely selfless act, and that is another form of joy.

Q: What does the future hold for Brandi Montoya?

A: I definitely want to continue my boxing career. I will not stop at a 5-2 record. At the age 20, I have too much potential to stop. I am almost finished with my military training, and then I will be able to hit the fleet, start working my job, find a boxing gym on or near the base and get back into my zone!

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

Prazak crashes the P4P ratings at #12
1- Cecilia Braekhus (22-0, 6 KOs) Norway
2- Erica Anabella Farias (17-0, 9 KOs) Argentina
3- Ava Knight (12-1-3, 5 KOs) United States
4- Christina Hammer (14-0, 7 KOs) Germany
5- Jessica Chavez (18-3-2, 4 KOs) Mexico
6- Yesica Yolanda Bopp (24-1, 11 KOs) Argentina
7- Ann Sophie Mathis (27-3, 24 KOs) France
8- Jelena Mrdjenovich (29-9-1, 14 KOs) Canada
9- Melissa Hernandez (18-4-3, 6 KOs) United States/P.R.
10- Layla McCarter (35-13-5, 8 KOs) United States
11- Esmeralda Moreno (25-6, 9 KOs) Mexico
12- Diana Prazak  (12-2, 8 KO's) Australia

"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

July 1, 2013

KO Digest Interview: Paulie Malignaggi - "I beat Adrien Broner"

The Magic Man of Boxing
Stars in boxing make their mark in their division and in the sport’s history in different ways. Some are recognized through a particular asset, a punch or a style, while others are closely linked to a particular fight that captivated fight fans and made an indelible mark on their legacy. In the case of junior welterweight and welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi, the unfinished story of his career is best known for controversy, both of his own doing, as is to be expected with an individual who shoots straight from the hip; and due to the political nature of the sport which has thrust the Italian-American on the losing end of hotly contested decisions more than once.

Malignaggi has built a strong résumé by earning title fights against myriad formidable foes, the likes of which include Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Juan Diaz, Amir Khan, and most recently Adrien Broner, and his exposure outside the ring is as impressive as his ability inside the ropes. While Paulie is known for his slick, elusive game plan during fights, he’s equally as comfortable while much more forthright behind a microphone. As his fighting career soldiers on, Malignaggi has signed on to color commentate for Showtime Championship Boxing, bringing his enthusiasm and outspoken nature to the boxing masses to an even higher degree.

In this July edition of the KO Digest Interview, Malignaggi opens up with remarkable candor about the clash with Broner, the edgy and vitriolic trash talking perpetrated by each combatant about each other and the company they shared, his marketable personality, and the constant struggle to fight the good fight in a sport smeared by bad intentions.

KO Digest's Joel Sebastianelli: Heading into the lead up to your fight with Adrien Broner last month, you said that this was the most important fight of your career. You fought hard and the bout was close, but you lost by split decision. After the bell tolled on the twelfth round, did you believe that you had won the fight? What were your thoughts upon heading the judges score totals?

Paulie Malignaggi: I knew the fight was close, but I felt like I outworked him. I said in my mind “OK, it’s close, I worked a lot harder than he did, I threw a lot more punches, I basically made the fight by throwing all of these punches, I’m in my hometown and I’m the champion—I think I can get the decision.” The only thing that crossed my mind negatively was the thing I was saying throughout the whole promotion: he’s with Al Haymon, and Haymon can get him the decision. All of that crossed my mind after the bell rang.

The Al Haymon of Boxing
KOD: You’ve talked a lot about Al Haymon. What advantage does being associated with Haymon give a fighter, and what is it about his character that makes him a cause for concern for some in the sport?

PM: It’s about him as a connected guy. He gets his fighters a lot more TV dates than other people can achieve, he gets his fighters paid more. He’s basically got a lot of pull. His fighters seem to get the close decisions and his fighters even seem to get a few decisions they don’t deserve. You see a lot of patterns when you’re in this type of business, and I noticed the pattern even before I fought Adrien Broner, so I wasn't too keen on the fight being close. One thing you can say for sure: you won’t see Al Haymon fighter get robbed. You’ll see fighters of his rob other fighters, but you won’t see an Al Haymon fighter get robbed. That's not by coincidence.

KOD: You started out very strong and controlled the first third of the fight, but then Broner rallied and won several of the middle rounds. Was your opponent’s success a result of him finally getting comfortable after a slow start, or was it because of a flaw in your game plan as the contest carried on?

PM: One thing you’ll notice about Broner as the fight goes on is that he starts to throw more arm punches. He’s not throwing as hard as the fight goes on because he was throwing too hard when he was missing me. He was taking the sting off the shots himself. That was the biggest myth about the fight for the people who think Broner won the fight. They give you the reasoning that Broner was throwing the harder punches, but he in fact was not throwing very had punches. My head does snap back when he lands clean but he’s throwing a lot of the arm punches, and the reason for that is because he’s not landing very hard punches when he’s loading up. He figured that out and realized that if he’s going to hit me and hit me clean, he has to take some weight off the shots or else he’s going to risk missing me consistently.

 The Reality of Boxing
KOD: It seemed as though both you and Broner fought exactly the style of fight you wanted to fight and each had plenty of success doing so. In hindsight, is there anything that you would have changed about your approach to the fight considering that you now know its end result?

PM: I don’t think I would've changed anything but there are one or two things I would add to what I did. I wouldn’t say anything drastically different, you make adjustments based on what’s in front of you. There are adjustments I probably could've made during the fight. When I saw it on video, I said “there are a couple things I see very clearly here.” We’ll see if I get a rematch so I can try to implement them.

KOD: Broner-Malignaggi was vicious outside of the ring from the moment the fight was announced. The marketing for the fight by Showtime seemed to focus on the personal feud, trash talking that ranged from jabs at eachother’s fighting ability to even the women you’ve been associated with outside the ring. After the fight, the war of words continued with Broner insinuating that he took your title and your girl. Could you explain how that all started?

The Side Piece of Boxing

PM: I literally had myself a fatal attraction situation there. She was never my girlfriend, but I had a loser to the hundredth power who would not get off me, to the point where she made up pregnancies, to the point where I found out recently she actually had bank account statements of mine and that means she was going through my clothes when I was spending time with her—there were one or two times I left my jacket at her house.

She was a girl that I used to hook up with. I have many girls, you know? I hook up with several different girls, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I’m friendly with all of them and they’ve always been friendly with me. They know the deal. I had myself a very bad situation and I’m continuing to find out new things that I didn’t know. I had gotten rid of that situation, and Broner bringing it back to the forefront for the promotion was pretty amazing. It didn’t surprise me that she reached out to his team because that's the type of person she was. She wasn’t a girlfriend, but she’s the type of person who has to win at all costs. I realized once I slept with her a few times that this was going to be a problematic woman. I realized that when the promotion began and Broner brought her into it that it was going to be a big problem. June 22nd was going to come and go, but Adrien Broner had given this person new life to continue this onward after June 22nd. I’m still dealing with it. I told my team I would have to deal with this because this guy brought this girl back in. I’m in the process of getting some stuff together for my several different lawyers because I’ve got to do something legal about it. She slandered my name, made many false statements, stolen bank statements—there’s many things that I’m finding out more and more about every day.

The Promotion of Boxing
KOD: At any point during the fight’s buildup did you think that perhaps the trash talking had gone too far? Is this the sort of image for a big fight that boxing benefits by promoting on a mainstream level, or does that help sell interest in the fight?

PM: I think it sold interest in the fight, but it could have done without it. Adrien Broner is a loser in every way though. He’s been handed two of the three world titles he’s won in his career. He’s gutter trash to the highest extent. He’s throwing $15,000 at strippers, flushing money down the toilet, and his mother still lives in a hole in the wall project house. This is a guy who has no priorities and is a total loser no matter how much money they hand him—and I say “hand” because he didn’t earn any of it. So, it didn’t surprise me that he took it there. It spiraled out of control and it takes two to tango, but it’s kind of hard be involved without getting dirty.

KOD: The bout with Broner was not the first time you’ve been on the losing end of a controversial decision, although a majority favored Broner as the winner. Why do think you always wind up in such controversial outcomes?

What's the Problem Paulie?
PM: The scoring system isn’t the problem; the system of boxing itself is the problem. The ten point must system is just an excuse to cover up the bigger problem, the politics of it. I’ve never been the more connected guy. The politics of boxing dictated it that way. You try hard to just keep it sporting, but unfortunately, the pattern in boxing is that the more connected fighter wins the close decisions and sometimes he’ll win the not so close decisions. Going into every fight, you need to ask yourself not who’s got the better left hook or who’s got a better right hand or better style. You need to ask yourself the first question “who’s more connected out of these two fighters?” If they’re connected the same way, then who do the people who have them both signed want to get ahead more than the other? More than likely, you will find your winner in answering those questions, unfortunately.

KOD: You’ve long called for a re-evaluation of boxing in an attempt to clean up the corruption and controversy that has long been associated with the sport. If you were in a position of authority that oversaw the sport, where would you begin in your quest to purge boxing of its evils?

PM: TV networks giving promoters their own dates makes it difficult. Giving one or two people the power as opposed to spreading it out evenly contributes to it. Not every fighter is signed by a top promoter. Sometimes guys slip through the cracks and get signed by second or third rate promoters. Those good fighters won’t get a chance though because they don’t have the right connections. I want to see the best fighters get a chance regardless of who they’re signed with because a lot of times, people only find out about the fighters that are signed with top guys. Those top guys sign good fighters, don’t get me wrong, but there’s also other good fighters who if they aren’t signed by the top promoters and managers, they may not get a chance. In the NFL, you can have Tom Brady getting drafted in the sixth round and have Hall of Fame careers and win Super Bowls, but in boxing, if a guy is not going to have the right connections, he can develop into a good fighter but it won’t really matter because not having connections will really hurt his career.

The Muckraker of Boxing
KOD: While a lot of fans seem to think the Broner fight was a closely contested decision, many members of the media have been outspoken about the bout favoring Broner. Teddy Atlas of ESPN said you’re a boy crying wolf, and that the only scorecard that should be investigated should be the one that favored you. Does the media perception bother you, or do you attempt not to pay attention to much of the media’s opinion?

PM: All that talk coming from the media doesn’t surprise me. I think there are some very powerful people in boxing who had me winning the fight. I spoke to Michael Buffer and Ron Borges, they had me winning the fight. I think the fans vote is an 80/20 split. I think the media is trying to cover for themselves. This is a fight where everyone and their mothers predicted I would be stopped inside seven or eight rounds, so all of a sudden, the decision comes into question and how do you cover your bases after you looked so foolish? You don’t want to look like a moron so you say Broner won the easy decision. The scoring is definitely subjective, it’s definitely what you like or what you prefer. I don’t think that 117-111 either way is a fair scoring assessment. I can see it being close one way or the other, leaning towards me because I’m the champion and the hometown fighter, but anyone in the media that had it 117-111 is just trying to cover their behinds about certain comments they made before the fight about the fact it was going to be easy. As a matter of fact, I saw Dmitriy Salita earlier this week. He’s a Russian-Jewish fighter and he watched the fight on Russian satellite TV, and he told me the Russian broadcast team had me winning the fight. The Russian broadcasters, Buffer, and Borges don’t owe me anything. These are people that watch big fights all over the world. I think it’s unfair to say it’s crying wolf that I’m crying about the decision and that if you had me winning you should have your eyes checked. In the grand scheme of things, the highest percentage of people had me winning the fight rather than losing it. It may not be the majority of the media, but the majority of media in America doesn’t really go far when you consider the majority of the media in the world. The American media is going to be very biased towards certain fighters and certain people they have connections with. Like I said, they don’t want to look like they don’t know anything because, for the most part, they don’t know anything and it comes out every week that they don’t know anything. Anytime they can cover their behinds, they will, and this is a case where they were.

The Judges of Boxing
KOD: In October of 2012, you retained the WBA welterweight title with a victory over Pablo Cesar Cano—another Paulie Malignaggi fight, another controversial split decision. Did you feel the fight was as close as the majority of fans saw it? How did it feel finally being on the winning side of a tightly contested decision?

PM: I thought 114-113 was actually the score so I don’t think they did me any favors. I remember through seven or eight rounds thinking that either I had won every round or only lost one round, and I remember going back to my corner and my corner was as cool as a cucumber. After the eighth round, there were some hiccups and we faded late.

If you actually score, for argument’s sake, one of the first eight rounds for Cano, which is basically all you can give him—that’s the way we saw it and we were fighting the fight, and then you give Cano all four of the last rounds, you would have 114-113. That’s what two of the judges had as their score, 114-113. I don’t think that fight was very difficult to score, especially when you consider that Glenn Feldman, the guy who scored it for Cano, admitted he made a mistake when he went to the WBA Convention a couple weeks later. I think people will look at CompuBox and ShoStat numbers, and they put too much emphasis on them after the fact because they have a fancy name. Do you know how many people think that there’s a chip in the glove that counts punches landed and don’t realize it’s actually some guy playing Nintendo and pressing buttons? You’d be amazed. They just give it some fancy name like it’s not some guy playing a Nintendo video game deciding what lands and what doesn’t. When you watch that fight and you score it just like we were scoring it as we were fighting it, we were pretty comfortable. When I got dropped in the eleventh round, I still felt comfortable I was going to get the decision. I don’t think there was anything controversial about that decision at all. You’ve just got to stop looking at ShoStats and CompuBox numbers and watch the fight for yourself and it becomes much simpler.

The Little Mac of Boxing
KOD: Your exposure outside of the ring is matched by very few in the sport today. You’ve been featured in articles published in Esquire and Playboy, had a documentary made about you, “Magic Man,” which aired on Showtime, and Nintendo supposedly used you to model the “Punch Out” character Little Mac. What qualities have made you such a marketable fighter?

PM: It’s funny, because the “Punch Out” game called up and asked for me to do the commercials, so it was a pretty fun experience. As far as the other things are concerned, it helps every little bit. I think I could have used a little more marketing at times to get me more exposure, but when it did come my way it definitely helped. The things that have come my way outside of boxing, nobody has helped me get them, they've just kinda fallen onto my lap. It helps, because the more exposure you get, the better, but I’m probably the most if not one of the most charismatic fighters of the last decade. When you look at it like that, I’ve probably been under marketed overall as a whole, but I’m still around.

KOD: Your reputation in boxing is that of a pure boxer, a runner with a slick style that lacks power to hurt his opponents. Your record backs this up, with just 7 of your 32 wins coming by knockout. Especially in the earlier stages of your career, before you became a title fighting commodity, was it ever difficult for your promoters to make and sell your fights?

PM: Not really, I just kept breaking my hands at that time, which is why I didn’t develop the knockouts like everybody else did early in their careers. I had three hand surgeries in the first four or five years in my pro boxing career. It became very difficult to get a lot of knockouts, especially in those days when I probably could have taken a couple of losses if I wasn’t so slick and wasn’t able to adapt and fight one handed in a lot of those fights. It never was a problem. I always had a bigger-than-life personality, so I don’t think coming up that there was an issue marketing me and getting me dates. Coming up, the issue was how busy I could be when I was constantly getting injured. In 2005, I only fought one time, and that one time I actually broke my hand coming off of a bad surgery, so that’s why I only fought one time to begin with. That one fight I had, I was hoping I would be OK and it broke again.

The Misconceptions of Boxing
At that point, there was a time that I wondered if this could be it. People that talk about me and say “hey, this guy doesn’t have a lot of power” are still talking about me despite the injuries that many fighters wouldn't get past, I would still win fights even shattering my right hand—it took nine hours to reconstruct it. It’s a compliment to me, the fact that people are still here talking about me. I don’t have a lot of power, but the fact that I was still winning was amazing when I look back on it. People don’t know that part of my career, they just look at the knockout ratio and say there’s not much power there, but when you’re winning fights one handed, you’re probably not going to score many knockouts.

KOD: In August of 2009, you hit the road in Houston to face off against Juan Diaz. Most thought you handily defeated Diaz, but the Texas judges saw the fight the opposite direction, including Gale Van Hoy, who scored the contest 118-110. Did that defeat, perceived as unjust, change you as a fighter or as a person?

PM: No. I had already had it with boxing at that point. You need to sleep with one eye open when dealing with boxing politics. I was already at that point before that fight after dealing with other things outside the ring. As a matter of fact, I was actually calling it going into the fight that I was going to get robbed that night, so when it happened, I can’t say I was shocked. I was a bit shocked at the audacity they had to rob me.

KOD: Are you seeking a rematch with Broner or are there other fights you would rather accept at welterweight?

The Problem of Boxing
PM: The Broner fight is the fight I want to get. Even for himself, he should want it again. This is a guy that emulates Floyd Mayweather every way he can. Floyd Mayweather had one controversial decision in his career and he asked for that rematch and wanted it the same year. It was similar to Adrien Broner and Daniel Ponce De Leon. Broner had a chance to do the rematch that same year and try to right that wrong because a lot of people thought he lost it the way they thought Mayweather lost to Jose Luis Castillo the first time. Floyd did the right thing: he did the rematch with Castillo and won it more definitively the second time. If Broner is any kind of man, any kind of competitor, if he’s as good as he pretends that he is, he should want that rematch himself. If we don’t get the rematch, I’m sure that we’ll be offered a lot of other fights coming off of that performance. It will be up to me and my team to discuss internally and see what happens, because right now, the main thing on my mind is the rematch with Broner.

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