August 27, 2013

Bantamweights & Below - Boxing's Other Five Weight Divisions Vol. 8

The Kameda brothers look to make boxing history in 2013
By Derek "DBO" Bonnett ~ Boxing has long been about records. However, I am not talking about dossiers and professional ledgers, but rather, important benchmarks. We have marveled as boxers chased titles in multiple divisions. We have also been titillated by how young or old various fighters have been able to win these plastic and metal trinkets. Additionally, we have witnessed history in the making as sons have followed their fathers as world champion just as nephews have mimicked uncles. We have even celebrated as brothers joined brothers as world title holders. But now, the sport of boxing is eying a first, and maybe another important milestone.

Boxing history was on the line in a couple of different fashions when Tomoki Kameda, 22, fought for his first world title. T. Kameda met Paulus Ambunda of Namibia on August 1, in the Philippines. In raising his record to 28-0 (18), Tomoki claimed the WBO bantamweight title with unanimous scores thus making the Kameda brothers the first trio of siblings -- Koki, Daiki, and Tomoki -- to hold world boxing championships throughout their careers. 

Japan's Kameda Brothers
The eldest brother, Koki, a three-division champion (108, 112, 118) defended his WBA bantamweight strap against John Mark Apolinario. As expected, Koki Kameda, 26, successfully defended his title for the seventh time and raised his record to 31-1 (17). That means two brothers are currently reigning at the moment. Now, History Part II comes into play. On September 3, middle brother, Daiki Kameda, the former WBA flyweight champion, will challenge for the IBF super flyweight title against the formidable champion Rodrigo Guerrero. Should D. Kameda defeat Guerrero, not only will be become a two-division champion, but he will also secure the milestone of all three Kameda brothers holding world championships simultaneously.

The chance to reign simultaneously with his brother Wladimir motivated a 2008 comeback from Vitali Klitschko at heavyweight, perhaps the same desire can will the Kameda brothers to continue to raise their games and secure their own special niche in family boxing history. Even as a supporter of Rodrigo Guerrero, I can't help but pull for the Japanese boxing dynasty to reach this much coveted goal.

World Class Boxing Results at Bantamweight & Below: 

History made, Part I
On Thursday, August 1, at Cebu City Waterfront Hotel & Casino, Barangay Lahug, Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines, Paulus Ambunda was dethroned by Tomoki Kameda in a twelve round WBO bantamweight title bout. Kameda prevailed by unanimous scores of 118-110, 117-111, and 116-112. In doing so, he became the WBO 118-pound champion and made history in helping his family to produce the first trio of brothers to become world champions in boxing. Kameda raised his ledger to 28-0 (18). Ambunda fell to 20-1 (10). Kameda re-entered my bantamweight rankings at number eight. Ambunda fell from eighth to ninth. Pungluang Sor Singyu fell from ninth to tenth. Julio Ceja fell out of the top ten. 
On Friday, August 2, at Arena Roberto Duran, Panama City, Panama, Luis Concepcion defeated Nestor Daniel Narvaes in a twelve round flyweight bout. Concepcion won by margins of 118-108 twice and 118-109. Concepcion dropped Narvaes in the fifth round and was deducted a point for illegal blows in the eighth. The Panamanian fighter raised his record to 29-3 (21). Narvaes fell to 19-2-2 (9).Concepcion maintained his number eight spot in my rankings among a very talented flyweight division. 

Also on this date, at Megapolis Convention Center, Panama City, Panama, Anselmo Moreno won a unanimous decision over William Urina in a 12- round WBA bantamweight title bout. The three judges favored the champion 118-110 twice and 116-112 to give him the eleventh defense of his title. Moreno lifted his dossier to 34-2-1 (12). Urina dipped to 24-3 (20). Moreno remained a close second to Shinsuke Yamanaka among my top rated bantamweight boxers.

Yamanaka bombs Nieves in 1 round
 On Monday, August 12, at Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan, Shinsuke Yamanaka took less than one round to dispatch Jose Nieves in a WBC bantamweight title bout. The end came at 2:40 after the champion badly hurt his opponent. Yamanaka scored his fourth title defense in moving his record to 19-0-2 (14). Nieves crashed to 22-3-3 (11). Yamanaka held his number one ranking among my top bantamweights, but has a Super Fight opponent right below him in Anselmo Moreno.

Also on the card, Akira Yaegashi won a unanimous decision over Oscar Blanquet in a twelve round WBC flyweight title bout. The three judges favored the champion 116-110 twice and 115-111. Yaegashi notched his first title defense and raised his ledger to 18-3 (9). Blanquet fell to 32-6-1 (23). Yaegashi retained his number seven ranking among my top 112-pounders.

On Saturday, August 17, at El San Juan Resort & Casino, Isla Verde, Puerto Rico, Giovani Segura battered Jonathon Gonzalez into fourth round submission in a flyweight bout. Gonzalez hit the canvas multiple times, but only two knockdowns were ruled. Segura got back in the win-column and raised his numbers to 30-3-1 (26). Gonzalez fell to 13-1 (11).Segura climbed to number nine in my flyweight rankings, pushing Toshiyuke Igarashi to the tenth spot.

On Saturday, August 24, at Gimnasio Municipal N. 1, Trelew, Chubut, Argentina, Omar Andres Narvaez stopped Hiroyuki Hisataka in ten rounds of a WBO super flyweight title bout. The endcame at the 1:26 mark. Narvaez marked his eighth title defense in raising his ledger to 40-1-2 (21). Hisataka fell to 22-11-1 (11). Narvaez held his number two ranking among my compilation of the world's best 115-pounders.

Bantamweight & Below Featured Rankings: Best of Mexico

Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr - the best of Mexico at Bantamweight & Below
1.) Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. (115) 16-1-1 (8) ~ Former IBF Super Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins: UD Juan Francisco Estrada, UD Rodrigo Guerrero ~ Notable Fact: Sanchez is a southpaw and his nickname "Zurdito" is a translation of that term.

2.) Juan Francisco Estrada (112) 25-2-0 (18) ~ WBA/WBO Super Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins: SD Brian Viloria, UD Milan Melindo ~ Notable Fact: Estrada gave pound for pound contender Roman Gonzalez his toughest fight.

3.) Edgar Sosa (112) 49-7-0 (13) ~ Former WBC Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins: KO 2 Ulises Solis, MD Brian Viloria ~ Notable Fact: Before stopping Ulises Solis in two, Sosa dropped two decisions to his countryman early in their careers.

4.) Hernan Marquez (112) 36-3-0 (26) ~ Former WBA Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins: KO 1 Luis Concepcion, TKO 11 Luis Concepcion ~ Notable Fact: Marquez is one of many fighters to adopt a nickname inspired by Mike Tyson.

5.) Moises Fuentes (108) 17-1-1 (8) ~ Former WBO Minimumweight Champ ~ Best Wins: TKO 5 Ivan Calderon, SD Raul Garcia ~ Notable Fact: Fuentes received a controversial draw against Donnie Nietes in a WBO 108-pound title bout.

Adrian Hernandez likes Tecate ring card girls
6.) Adrian Hernandez (108) 27-2-1 (16) ~ Two-Time WBC Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins: KO 4 Rodel Mayol, TKO 6 Kompayak Porpramook ~ Notable Fact: Hernandez' first reign as champion came to an end by tenth round TKO to Kompayak Porpramook in a late 2011 FOTY candidate.

7.) Pedro Guevara (108) 20-1-1 (13) ~ #2 WBC Light Flyweight Contender ~ Best Wins: UD Mario Rodriguez, SD Raul Garcia ~ Notable Fact: A first round knockdown cost him his first world title against John Riel Casimero.

8.) Giovani Segura (112) 30-3-1 (26) ~ Former WBA/WBO Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins: KO 3 Ivan Calderon, KO 8 Ivan Calderon ~ Notable Fact: Segura has eleven first round KOs.

9.) Carlos Cuadras (115) 28-0 (23) ~ #1 WBC Super Flyweight Contender ~ Best Wins: TKO 7 Victor Zaleta, UD Fernando Lumacad ~ Notable Fact: Cuadras is known as "Principe" or Prince.

10.) Hugo Ruiz (118) 32-2-0 (29) ~ Former Interim WBA Bantamweight champion ~ Best Wins: TKO 4 Francisco Arce, UD Francisco Arce ~ Notable Fact: Ruiz lost a controversial decision to Koki Kameda for the full title in 2012.

Bantamweight & Below: Give That Man a Title Shot!

How can you not Give That Man a Title Shot?
Since losing his rematch to Hernan Marquez in 2011, Luis Concepcion, a former WBA flyweight champion, has been a busy bee. His six fight winning streak has included three KOs. Concepcion's dismissal of Odilon Zaleta in two round was impressive and got even better once Zaleta stopped top ten contender Armando Torres in his very next bout. The Panamanian fighter then took the unbeaten record of Colombian prospect Pablo Carillo. He then rematched Carillo for a second, more comprehensive victory.

Following that came a stoppage of Anuar Salas and a twelve round decision over Nestor Daniel Narvaes, who lost a questionable verdict in a world title bout previously. In all, Concepcion scored eleven knockdowns in these bouts and even found time to hit the canvas once himself. 

Concepcion deserves this opportunity on pure excitement as much as he does on the merit of being a former world champion with a nice win-streak. Name a flyweight in today's top ten and it's nigh impossible to make a bad match-up. A third fight with Hernan Marquez? Sure. Uh, yeah! A guaranteed Fight of the Year candidate with fellow former champion Giovani Segura? Uh, yeah! However, since the idea is to get him a world title opportunity, a phone booth war Akira Yaegashi for WBC honors would be ideal. Yaegashi never met a punch he didn't like the taste of and Concepcion is no stranger to the canvas. This is the type of fight to get boxing fans talking about the lighter weight classes, but only after they have witnessed the sheer brutality it would promise.

Bantamweights & Below — On the Horizon:

Daiki Kameda chases History Part II in Japan September 3
On Tuesday, September 3, at Sun Messe Kagawa, Takamatsu, Kagawa, Japan: Daiki Kameda versus Rodrigo Guerrero in a twelve round vacant IBF super flyweight title bout. Kameda chases history to allow his family to become the first trio of brothers to hold world titles simultaneously.

On Tuesday, September 3, Suranaree University of Technology, Nakhon Ratchisima, Thailand: Nobuo Nashiro versus Denkoason Kaovichit in a twelve round interim WBA super flyweight title. Nashiro vies for his third title in the division as Koavichit seeks to become a two-division titlist.

On Friday, September 6, at NCO Club, Royal Thai Airforce, Bangkok, Thailand: Suriyan Sor Rungvisai versus Jeson Berwela in a twelve round bantamweight bout. Also on the card, WBC 115-pound king, Srisasket Sor Rungvisai versus Roque Lauro in a six-round bantamweight non-title bout. The Thai-boxers look for their sixth and fifth wins in 2013 respectively.

On Saturday, September 7, at Casino, Apadoca, Nuevo Leon, Mexico: Hugo Ruiz versus Julio Cesar Miranda in a bantamweight bout of unspecified distance. This will be a true Mexican crossroads fight for the two tough contenders.

On Saturday, September 7, at Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan: Toshiyuke Igarashi versus Omar Soto in a ten round super flyweight bout. The former flyweight champion moves us to test new waters against a seasoned veteran.

Argentine Juan Carlos Reveco
On Wednesday, September 11, at Bodymaker Colosseum, Osaka, Osaka, Japan: Kazuto Ioka versus Kwanthai Sithmorseng in a twelve round WBA light flyweight title bout. The second generation world champion looks to defend against the once-beaten challenger. Also on the card, Ryo Miyazaki versus Jesus Silvestre in a twelve round WBA minimumweight title bout. The champion takes on his greatest challenge as a professional. 

On Saturday, September 21, in Managua, Nicaragua: Roman Gonzalez versus TBA in a ten round flyweight bout. The pound for pound contender keeps busy in a non-title affair. And on Saturday, September 28, in Mendoza, Argentina: Juan Carlos Reveco versus Ricardo Nunez in a twelve round WBA flyweight title bout. The protected WBA titlist takes a step-up in opposition albeit a small one.

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

You can find more of Derek's writings & ratings at 

You can also contact the author Derek Bonnett on Facebook  

August 15, 2013

KO Digest Spotlight on Boxing's Up and Comers - Jermall Charlo

The Future of Boxing
By Terry Strawson - Less than a week ago now, at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio, CA., Jermall "The Hitman" Charlo improved his undefeated record to 15-0, 11 KO's with a second round stoppage of the talented, yet problematic, Antwone Smith. Fighting out of Houston, TX., under the experienced Ronnie Shields, the 23 year old Charlo is quietly transforming himself from junior middleweight prospect to legitimate contender, a transformation that gained momentum with the swift stoppage of Smith (23-5-1) last Friday night on SHOBOX: The New Generation.

Charlo began the fight behind his jab, maintaining mobility without wasting many steps. His confidence and composure were clear from the outset and enabled him to see (and land) a beautiful right hand counter to the head of his bewildered opponent. That signaled the end for the usually durable Smith who succumbed to a follow-up right hand that landed around the ear and wobbled him to the canvas. Smith had never been down before, and was up in good time but hadn't recovered from his rattled equilibrium when the fight was waved off. It was a good stoppage by ref Tom Taylor and an assured performance from Charlo - the self appointed future of boxing.

A week before the showdown with Smith—who had beaten undefeated Ronald Cruz and ring legend Jose Luis Castillo in his last two outings—KO Digest spoke with a focused and determined Charlo. "I'll use my body, I'll use my size, I'll use my punching power and I'll use my speed too. I know he's in shape so I've got myself in great shape too and I plan on just bringing pressure to him and trading with him. I hope he wants to trade because I've seen a few tapes on him and he likes to trade and throw a lot of punches. But once he feels my power, I know he is not gonna want to trade."

As it turned out, it wasn't that Smith didn't want to trade, he was simply unfit and unable to. Smith, not for the first time in his career, came in overweight for the fight and it fired up an already stoked Charlo. "It sparked a new flame in me to know he wasn't taking the sport seriously. It let me know that he was really looking past me. It's disrespectful, coming in overweight, it shows he didn't really care about me so when I landed that right hand—I hope he still didn't care." 

Twin Charlo Brothers
It is almost impossible to speak about Jermall Charlo without mentioning his twin brother Jermell, who is also undefeated (21-0, 10 KO's) as a professional in the junior middleweight division. Jermell is signed to a promotional agreement with Golden Boy and while Jermall is not signed with any promoter, both brothers are managed by boxing powerhouse Al Haymon.

The pair, born May 19, 1990, were introduced to boxing at the age of eight by their father, and former amateur featherweight, Kevin Charlo. The environment in which Jermall was raised in Texas, surrounded by trainer Ronnie Shields and his stable of quality fighters, provided him with a confidence and a belief that, not only was he ready for Smith, but that he belongs at eye level with the sports elite. "I've been sparring with Brian Vera while he's getting ready for Chavez Jr, I've been sparring with Edwin Rodriguez, who just won the Million Dollar tournament in Monte Carlo and I have been working with my brother Jermell. I've been sparring with the elite, I've been around the elite, I pretty much classify myself as part of the elite."

"I have to show the world what I have so everybody will take sides with me. As of right now I am just in the making."

He certainly is. Charlo's paid career began in 2008 after a spell in the amateurs produced approximately 60 victories with roughly five losses. His debut as a professional prizefighter came at a small venue in nearby Grand Prairie, TX., and resulted in a second round technical knockout of the unknown Cimarron Davis. His next bout followed a couple of months later when he scored a shutout over the previously unbeaten Mario Hernandez, albeit 2-0.

Charlo improves his technique and his record
From that point, Charlo went on to defeat numerous journeyman and opponents before a showdown with Orlando Lora (29-3-2) took place on the under card of Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Austin Trout at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX., last April. "The Lora fight was my toughest test as a professional. I trained very hard for him. Me and Ronnie got together and took my performance to another level." The young junior middleweight imposed his will on Lora from the outset culminating in the Mexican's inability to answer the bell for the fifth round.

A fight with Luis Hernandez (22-5), was then staged at the BB&t Center, Sunrise, FL., last June. The Venezuelan had only lost to quality opponents, ranging from Paul Williams to Selcuk Aydin. Hernandez certainly provided a test on paper, but it was passed by Charlo with flying colors. Referee Samuel Burgos stopped the fight in the second round after Hernandez was dropped for a second time in the round. The victory meant Charlo, and his handlers more importantly, were ready to maneuver themselves to a sterner test, one that was supposed to be offered up by Antwone Smith, in a bout that was originally slated for the undercard of Andre Berto and Jesus Soto Karass. "I was expecting a fight, preparing for the worst but he didn't give me the worst. But I'd been working hard so it was just a reward for my hard work."

Hard work in the Charlo corner
The hard work will continue for Jermall Charlo as (having fought just six days ago) he is already penciled in to fight September 12th on the undercard of a Shawn Porter and Julio Diaz rematch at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The show, which will also showcase Badou Jack and Hugo Centeno Jr in separate bouts, should provide a welcome appetizer ahead of the main course offered by Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez just two days later. Alvarez, who holds versions of the WBC and WBA titles, is generally accepted as the number one man in the junior middleweight division since his April victory over Trout. Charlo was on the undercard that night, amidst far less fanfare, but he believes he is ready for a fight with 'Canelo' sooner rather than later.

"I feel like no other athlete trains like me, so I have no choice but to have confidence in myself. Especially when I throw punches and I see the power when I train, let alone when I fight [with smaller gloves on.] So you know, I really feel I'm unstoppable right now and I feel really powerful. I'm ready to unleash and take over the division with what I got. Canelo is still learning right now but, you know, he's getting ready to fight Mayweather right now so he's on top of the world. But I really don't care about him that much, he's not that skillful, I know I can beat him. If it was up to me, we would fight this year, after the Mayweather fight, but of course you know how boxing is, and all the politics behind it, I'll just have to wait my turn. When my time comes, I'll be able to show you."

Charlo looks ahead to a bright future in boxing
Charlo, with Ronnie Shields and Al Haymon guiding his career inside and out of the ring, is certainly headed in the right direction. I would imagine a less direct route to a world title shot for Charlo and his next fight to be another carefully selected opponent geared towards getting him the rounds he anticipated from Smith. Your guess is as good as mine at the moment but Sergey Rabchenko and Cornelius 'K-9' Bundrage stick out to me as potential suitors down the road whille Alfredo Angulo is another. Luciano Cuello, the Argentine who just went the distance with Willie Nelson on HBO recently, would also offer up a viable option for Haymon and his matchmakers to get their young charge more experience.

Whatever happens, we should expect to see Jermall Charlo, and twin brother Jermell for that matter, become permanent fixtures in the sport, not just the division. Jermall (born first and the elder by a minute) is the more aggressive and forceful of the pair and his confidence and supreme physical condition indicate he is more than capable of sharing a ring with a champion or two right now.

The IBF version of the junior middleweight title will be contested for by Ishe Smith and Carlos Molina on September 14th and the vacant WBO belt will be up for grabs when Vanes Martirosyan and Demetrius Andrade meet in November. A fight with either of the aforementioned fighters would offer Charlo a genuine opportunity to become a world champion.

The future is indeed bright for Jermall Charlo.

Written by Terry Strawson ~ exclusively for KO Digest

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

August 6, 2013

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science - Women's Boxing Monthly Vol. 6

AIBA Women's Boxing Ambassador Katie Taylor
By Mark A. Jones – Supporters of women’s boxing were dealt a defeat in July when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) rejected a plan to increase the number of medal events for female boxers in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The International Boxing Association (AIBA) wished to double the number of medals available for female boxers from the current three weight divisions, flyweight, lightweight, and middleweight. The 2012 Olympic women’s boxing competitions were witnessed by capacity crowds at London’s ExCel Arena witnessing England’s own Nicola Adams, Ireland’s Katie Taylor, and Claressa Shields of the United States win Gold Medals. The Olympic lightweight quarter-final bout between Taylor and Liverpool, England’s Natasha Jonas noise level was deafening - recorded at 113.7 decibels - which is almost identical to a very loud rock concert. A spokesperson from the AIBA stated: “The International Boxing Association takes note and respects this decision but hopes that more opportunities will be opened to women boxers at the 2020 Olympic Games.”

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

Victorious “Killer Queen” Kentikian
On July 6 in Germany, Susi “Killer Queen” Kentikian (31-2, 16 KOs) Hamburg, Germany, reclaimed the WBA female flyweight title with a ten-round unanimous decision victory over Carina “La Reina” Moreno (23-6, 6 KOs) Watsonville, CA, USA. Kentikian won the WBA flyweight title in February 2007 defending it successfully 14 times before losing it to Moreno in December 2012 by split-decision. Kentikian won the interim WBA flyweight title by unanimous decision victory over Belgium’s Sanae Jah in February when Moreno could not defend the WBA title due to an injured knee. In this battle, the cliché, “It was a tale of two fights,” best describes the action. Always a fast starter, Kentikian won the early rounds with effective aggression significantly out working Moreno, who as a counter-puncher, was warming up and looking for mistakes she could capitalize on. Over the second half of the fight, as Kentikian became visibly tired, Moreno took over landing the final punch of the majority of the exchanges goal counter-punchers strives to achieve. Possibly sensing that the decision was in doubt, Kentikian rallied to win the final round swarming Moreno with a two-fisted attack and moving out of range at angles giving Moreno few opportunities to counter. The scoring (96-94/97-93/97-93) was not representative on how closely the fight was contested. With the win, Kentikian elevates herself back into the mix at flyweight; perhaps the deepest division in women’s boxing. With possible super-fights with Ava Knight, Melissa McMorrow, and Shindo Go, the flyweight division will be a centerpiece of women’s boxing for the foreseeable future.

Also on July 13, in a WBO featherweight title eliminator, Argentina’s Marcela Eliana Acuna (39-6-1, 17 KOs) defeated well thought of Melissa Hernandez (18-5-3, 6 KOs) by a unanimous decision in Argentina. The victory has significant implications in the present and future. Acuna is now the #1 contender to the WBO featherweight title currently held by fellow Argentine, Alejandra Oliveras. The win also propels her from a borderline to a solid Hall of Fame candidate once her career is concluded and the waiting period has elapsed. During a six six-year period from 2006-12, she was unbeaten campaigning as the WBC female super-bantamweight champion defeating such notables as Alicia Ashley, Jackie Nava, Yazmin Rivas, Maribel Santana, and Oliveras. Whatever Acuna accomplishes going forward is icing on the cake.

Hammer Time for the kissing bandit Mikaela Lauren
Also on July 13, in Dresden, Germany, KO Digest’s #4 pound-for-pound female boxer and two-division world champion, Christina Hammer (15-0, 7 KOs) Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, successfully defended her WBO and WBF middleweight titles with a ten-round unanimous decision (100-90/99-91/98-92) over Mikaela Lauren (19-3, 7 KOs) Stockholm, Sweden. Hammer, aged 22, also holds the WBF and WBO super middleweight titles; took the challenge of Lauren seriously, training in the high altitude and solitude of the Austrian Alps. The thirty seven year old challenger entered the fight on a five fight winning streak including victories over the current IBF light middleweight champion, Eva Halasi and American, Cindy Serrano.

Lauren brought a significant spotlight to this match-up when, to lighten the mood after a somewhat contemptuous weigh-in, she suddenly kissed Hammer square on the lips while taunting her. The actual fight in the ring was decidedly anti-climactic, witnessing Hammer, a supreme technician from long-range; dominate the action by relegating the skilled Scandinavian to clumsily lunging with punches in hopes to land something lucky. Said the victorious Hammer after the fight, “I am very happy to have won and I got a little revenge for the kiss of Mikaela Lauren along with it.”

Sweet revenge for Juarez over Togo
Also on July 13, in Mexico, Mariana “Barbie” Juarez (37-7-3, 16 KOs) won the WBC International female super-flyweight title and became the #1 contender to the WBC super-flyweight title holder, Zulina Munoz, with a unanimous decision victory (98-92/97-93/98-93) over Riyo Togo (10-5-1, 9 KOs) Tokyo, Japan. In April, Juarez was stopped in the first round by the iron-fisted Togo when she was thought to have made a mistake by brawling with a brawler; it was the first stoppage loss for Juarez since 2005. The discovery of altered gloves by WBC Supervisor Dr. Lorenzo Soberanes just before their much publicized rematch leaves the knockout loss in doubt. It was discovered that Togo, just prior to entering the ring, had the padding removed from her gloves leaving her wrapped hands placed directly against the leather of the professional fight gloves. The gloves were confiscated, and an investigation is still ongoing. Togo was authorized to fight donning another pair of gloves and losing by decision by a wide margin. With the win, Juarez places herself in position to challenge the popular but vulnerable Zulina Munoz (38-1-2, 25 KOs) Mexico City, Mexico, in what would be a super-fight for both Mexico and women’s boxing. 

On July 19, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, KO Digest’s #6 pound-for-pound female boxer, Yesica Yolanda “Tuti” Bopp (25-1, 11 KOs) Wilde, Buenos Aires, Argentina, returned to her winning ways winning a ten-round unanimous decision victory over tough battler, Anastasia Toktaulova (14-12, 2 KOs) Leesburg, Florida, by way of Yoshkar-Ola, Russia. Bopp dominated the score cards winning every round on each successfully defending her WBA light-flyweight title for the thirteenth time and her WBO light-flyweight title for the eleventh time. In the lone loss of her stellar career, a closely contested decision loss to Jessica Chavez in June, the WBA and WBO titles were not on the line. With the loss, Toktaulova has lost four of her last five each loss coming against high-level opposition.

Prospect "Baby Girl" Douglas goes to 3-0
On July 20, at Coppin State University, Baltimore, Maryland, southpaw prospect, Tyrieshia “Baby Girl” Douglas, Baltimore, improved to (3-0, 1 KO) with a unanimous decision victory over former world title challenger Marisol “La Chihuahua” Miranda (5-6, 1 KO) Hollywood, Florida, (40-35 x3). Douglas, who finished second to Marlene Esparza at the inaugural USA Boxing Olympic Trials in 2012, impressively battered Miranda knocking her down with a straight left hand in the third round on the way to the one-sided victory. Most recently, Miranda tasted defeat in her solo attempt at a world title losing to Yesica Yolanda Bopp by technical knockout in the seventh round.

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

Suarez stops Palmera in seven
On August 8 in Panama City, Panama, Venezuelan glamor model and the newly declared WBA featherweight champion, Ogleidis “La Nina” Suarez (18-2-1, 8 KOs) Caracas, Venezuela, defends her world championship against the #9 rated contender, Liliana “La Tigresa” Palmera (21-10-3, 15 KOs) Monteria, Colombia. Suarez was declared the WBA champion after Hyun-Mi Choi of South Korea surrendered the belt to campaign at super featherweight. Choi won the title in her professional debut in October 2008 making seven successful defenses since.

This is a rematch of their October 2012 meeting that witnessed Suarez stop Palmera in seven rounds retaining the interim version of the WBA featherweight title. Since, Palmera battled lightweight champion Erica Anabella Farias for the WBC lightweight title losing by a third round knockout. Palmera, the ultimate gunslinger, is 4-4 over her last eight fights all ending by knockout. The most impressive win on the record of Suarez is a split-decision win over the current IBF super bantamweight title holder, Katy Wilson Castillo in October 2011.

On August 9 in Santa Rosa, La Pampa, Argentina, Monica Silvina Acosta (18-0-2, 4 KOs) in front of a hometown crowd, defends her WBA female light-welterweight title against perennial contender, Belinda “Brown Sugar” Laracuente (26-27-3, 9 KOs) New York, New York, USA. Acosta also holds the WBC light-welterweight title. Laracuente was once a slick-moving boxer-puncher who was talented enough to lose a disputed majority decision to Christy Martin in early 2000, but she has fallen on hard times of late losing nine of her last twelve fights each by decision. Most impressively, of her 27 losses, none have come by knockout. Acosta is another in a long line of talented female boxers from Argentina. Of the many Argentine female boxing champions, Acosta is perhaps the most vulnerable and certainly the most protected. Possessing exceptional counter-punching ability, Acosta is unremarkable in all other categories. Acosta holds controversial wins over Erin McGowan and Lely Luz Florez and a closely contested win over the current WBO female featherweight champion, Alejandra Marina “Locomotora” Oliveras, who elevated in weight to fight Acosta for the WBC and WBA light-welterweight titles in 2011. Acosta’s strangle hold on two alphabet light welterweight titles should extend past the challenge of Laracuente.

On August 14 at BB Kings Blues Club & Grill in New York, New York, USA, highly ranked heavyweight, Sonya “The Scholar” Lamonakis (7-1-2, 1 KO) New York, New York, was originally scheduled to face Taren Pennell (1-1) Irving, Texas, a failed eye exam later and “The Scholar” is now scheduled to face the ever-tough TBA.

Jeffrey looks to upgrade her title belt
On August 16, KO Digest’s #12 pound-for-pound female boxer, “Queen” Ronica Jeffrey (13-0, 1 KO) Brooklyn, New York, USA, travels to Chubut, Argentina, taking on the aggressive Argentinian southpaw, Claudia Andrea Lopez (22-7, 5 KOs) Trelew, Chubut, Argentina, with the vacant IBF female super featherweight title on the line. A brief glance at the record of Lopez reveals that she is faced a “who is who” of the super bantamweight and featherweight divisions giving a satisfactory account of herself but falling short against A-Level fighters such as, Hyun-Mi Choi, Alejandra Marina Oliveras, and Marcela Eliana Acuna. Stepping up to super featherweight to face the defensively gifted Jeffrey is a tall order. Jeffrey, a three-time New York Daily News Golden Gloves Champion, fairs well against aggressive fighters as is witnessed with decision victories over “Lethal” Lindsay Garbatt and promising Canadian prospect, Natasha Spence over the past year; each at least equal Lopez in aggression. Lopez last saw action in April against Dahiana Santana for the IBF featherweight title losing by a decision.

On August 24 in Moenchengladbach, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, the former WBC, WBO, and the WIBF featherweight title holder, Ina Menzer (30-1, 11 KOs) attempts to win the interim WBF and vacant WIBA featherweight titles in her home town against Goda Dailydaite (8-0, 2 KOs) Essen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany. Menzer, born in Kazakhstan, won the WIBF title in 2005 and defended it successfully fifteen times until losing to Jeannine Garside in 2010. Six successful defenses of the WBC featherweight title and one defense of the WBO featherweight title were mixed into those fifteen defenses. During her nearly five-year title run, Menzer established herself as one of the best in the sport holding impressive wins over Ramona Kuehne, Esther Schouten, Laura Serrano, and Yazmin Rivas. Menzer was inactive for fourteen months after her decision loss to Garside and has since taken the slow road back to relevance engaging in only one bout against a fighter with a winning record in her last four outings.

Three Questions - Sweet Side Q&A with American Alex Love:

Alex Love of Bellevue, Washington, is currently serving in the United States Army at Fort Carson, Colorado in the World Class Athlete Program. During her amateur career, she compiled an impressive record of 53-8 culminating in her inclusion in the inaugural U.S. Olympic Team Trails for female boxers in 2012. During the trials, Alex won her first match but fell short of making the Olympic Team losing her next two contests, but her crowd-pleasing aggressive boxing style was noticed, making her a serious contender for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team.

Love of Combat Sports
Q: Why did you join the US Army?

A: I joined the Army to pursue my boxing career. The Army gave me an outlet that provided support, which is exactly what I needed. I needed someone in my corner to help me get to the next level.

Q: What will your job (MOS) be as an Army soldier?

A: I joined the Intelligence Unit to ensure that I had a career under me.

Q: What was the first ever female U.S. Olympic Team Trails like for you?

A: My Olympic Trials experience was fantastic. I was part of history in those contests. Female boxers have been fighting for the right to participate in the Olympics for a long time. I’m proud that I was able to participate in the first ever U.S. Olympic Trials for women. I fought my heart out, and I’m ready to go for a Gold Medal in Rio in 2016.

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

Bopp is #6 Pound for Pound
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) USA
4- Christina Hammer (15-0, 7 KOs) Germany
5- Jessica Chavez (19-3-2, 4 KOs) Mexico
6- Yesica Yolanda Bopp (25-1, 11 KOs) Argentina
7- Ann Sophie Mathis (27-3, 24 KOs) France
8- Jelena Mrdjenovich (29-9-1, 14 KOs) Canada
9- Esmeralda Moreno (25-6, 9 KOs) Mexico
10- Diana Prazak (12-2, 8 KOs) Australia
11- Marcela Eliana Acuna (39-6-1, 17 KOs) Argentina
12- Melissa McMorrow (9-3-3, 1 KO) USA

"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

August 1, 2013

KO Digest Interview: Mike Alvarado - "I love to prove people wrong"

Alvarado stays humble
For some, the cost of fame and fortune at a young age can be too much to handle, sending an athlete’s personal life off the rails, often with a once promising career in tow. For 33-year-old junior welterweight titlist Mike Alvarado, the spotlight shined bright but late. Born, raised, and trained out of an environment in the rural mountains of Colorado as quiet as his personality, Alvarado did not emerge into mainstream recognition until 2011, seven years after his professional debut and eleven years after he took up the sport at age twenty. “Mile High” is not one to talk trash, agitating fans and opponents, and he doesn’t associate with the shady characters who run amok in boxing. Yet beneath his calm and unassuming demeanor lies a warrior content to trade power shots and go to war each time he steps in the ring.

Battles against Brandon Rios, Breidis Prescott, and Mauricio Herrera have made Alvarado one of the most fan friendly fighters in the weight class. While some problematic stars of the sport engage in tirades on Twitter, hang out in all the wrong places, and fly off the handle under the pressures of stardom and in front of the all-seeing eye of modern day social media, Alvarado has been slowly but surely climbing up the ranks of the talented 140-pound division.

The cast of characters comprising Alvarado’s team of trainers and coaches is small, keeps a low profile, and has remained relatively unchanged since he traded in wrestling for boxing not long after finishing high school. Their bond has become like that of a family, and their mission leading into an October 19 showdown with Ruslan Provodnikov and beyond is bold: to make a self described “nobody” from Denver a “somebody” by fighting the best of the best anywhere, anytime.

Alvarado and trainer Shann Vilhauer
KO Digest's Joel Sebastianelli: You’ve had the same core team surrounding you since you first started as an amateur in the sport. How did you first get involved with them and how has this fruitful relationship stayed strong over time?

Mike Alvarado: Shann Vilhauer was there and knew right when I jumped on the bag—there was actually another trainer there. I was punching the bag and he said, “don’t take up my space on the bag.” Thank God Shann was on the other side working with the other guys, and he worked with me and saw something in me. He said I could be a world champion one day. From when that day was over, Shann picked me up, brought me to amateurs, ringside, I did over 44 amateur fights, and he kept me updated on my strategy and hooked me up with Henry. I got introduced to Top Rank and we went from there. He called every fight exactly how it went, and he broke it down. Every world champion trainer had to start from somewhere. Everybody has big trainer names, but he’s always been on my team. My strength trainer, John-John, has been with me since I was 11-0. I knew him from friendship and he happened to be a strength and conditioning trainer. Our team stays tight. We don’t let anyone come in at this point. Everybody wants to be involved when you’re at this stage of the game. They’re like family. They push me, and to be honest, we’re a bunch on nobodies coming from wherever and we’re contending with the world right now.

Alvarado vs Provodnikov
KOD: Announced last week was your next fight against Ruslan Provodnikov, scheduled for October 19th close to your home in Denver. What qualities and circumstances led to choosing the Russian as an opponent?

MA: Well, he’s a pressure fighter who will come forward to me. It’s obvious that, because of what Tim Bradley did to him, boxing is the key to putting it on this guy.

KOD: Provodnikov comes off of a loss to Timothy Bradley, but he went down swinging in an all-out brawl. You’ve been in a few brawls yourself. Will that style of fighting lend itself well to beating Ruslan, or will you implement a more technical game plan?

MA: I’m going to do a little bit of everything. I’m more of a heart presser—I test everybody’s heart. I’m down to bang inside, but I’ve got to use my head. I'll make my adjustments accordingly based on how I feel during the fight. Nobody is ever going to take my heart, so it just depends how the situation goes.

KOD: It has been two years since you last fought in Colorado, and four years since you’ve fought back to back fights in your home state. Does the home-field advantage give you an extra adrenaline rush in the ring, or do you tune the crowd out once you step into the ring? 

MA: I love being in Denver! I have a lot of support out here and I’ve got good training out here. With my strength and conditioning trainer, we use a lot of the altitude. Being at home in front of my fans pumps me up and reminds me of being in high school. I had a big fan base for my wrestling team when I was out here that followed me from high school all the way up.

Alvarado training at Mile High altitude
KOD: Why do you train for a fight at such a high altitude?

MA: It opens up my lungs and gives me more endurance. My trainer, John-John, really utilizes my heart rate and elevation. He really gets me going, and all I do is just get stronger as fights go on. I don’t die down, I get stronger as the rounds go on. Against Prescott and Herrera, you’ve seen its advantages.

KOD: Boxing fans have been aware of your presence in the division for a couple of years, but the fights that really cemented your place near the top of the 140 lb. weight class were two action packed affairs with Brandon Rios. The first fight was a fight of the year contender, but you lost via TKO in the seventh round. How did you assess your career following the first loss of your career?

MA: I just went back to my preparation and prepped for that style, the pressure of the fight. And you saw in the second fight, I adjusted accordingly how I was supposed to. I had a lot of drills with my team. My team kept pressure on me, and movement! As far as that affecting my career, nobody wants to lose. Everybody wants to remain undefeated and always perfect, but it is what it is. I knew I was going to come back strong and with a better game plan. 

Rios stops Alvarado in their first fight
KOD: How big a setback was the loss for you emotionally? 

MA: It was tough because I’m used to winning, always. All the way from my wrestling days, I was undefeated, I never lost. I always want to win, but it just made me that much better and stronger. I love to prove people wrong because I will continue to push myself to the limit. 

KOD: The Mike Alvarado that defeated Brandon Rios in the rematch in March of 2013 looked different than the one that finished battered along the ropes in October of the previous year. What adjustments did you make that led to the victory?

MA: Rios pressured me, and I was ready for any type of pressure. He’s like a Margarito type fighter, always coming forward. All I did was just adjust to the footwork, more legs. My trainer helped me push forward with my legs to make sure I was better conditioned. I was still dancing around with my legs in the twelfth round. That was altitude training and my strength trainer helped me improve that element a lot more.

KOD: At this point in the rivalry, the score reads Brandon Rios: 1, Mike Alvarado: 1. Have the doors of opportunity and interest in a third fight between you two closed, or is there a chance we’ll see a trilogy with one final, deciding fight?

BR: No, Brandon gave me my rematch. I already said, come to my hometown and come grab my belt. We’ll see how it plays out depending on what’s going on with my managers promotional team and how we feel, but I’ll bang with him again. I have Ruslan first in Denver, and you never know, a fight is a fight. Anything can happen.

Breidis Prescott gets in a war with Alvarado
KOD: Between the two fights against Brandon Rios, the entertaining scrap against Mauricio Herrera, and other fights that many fans are likely unaware of from the beginning of your career, you’ve been in many grueling fights. In what physical condition has this hankering for war in the ring left you? Do you feel like a young 33 or an old 33?

MA: Nah, I’m fresh! I came into this game when I was twenty and I’ve been doing this my whole life. Right now, I’m at my peak of where I need to be. Everything played out how it was supposed to and I leave it in God’s hands. I go under the radar because I don’t talk much. I don’t have much of a big mouth. I stay humble and do what I have to do. Maybe if I was more outspoken, things would have been different, but I am where I am right now.

KOD: But even though you feel like a fresh 33, do you still feel extra pressure heading into every fight because, unlike a young champion in his 20s, you don’t have time for mistakes?

MA: Of course, but when you’re at this stage and level, everything is technical now. You’ve got to be smart going in there. I’ve got to step up to a level, where I know going in there, I’ve got more brains. My hard work ethic and my heart is what gets me there, but now my mindset is different. 

Top Rank Fighter
KOD: How instrumental has Bob Arum been in bringing you to where you are right now at this point in your career?

MA: They’ve all been good. Top Rank has been faithful to me and I’ve been faithful to them. They’ve been taking care of me and they’ve been bringing me up the right way. I go for the win with whoever they put in front of me, whatever Bob Arum wants to do as far as matchmaking. I’ve never turned down one fight, so whatever name they’d bring, I always brought it and accepted the fight. Right now, I’m just worried about getting past the hungry Russian who wants the American dream. 

KOD: In your youth in Colorado, you were a two time high school wrestling champion. In fact, you didn't begin boxing until you were 20 years old. 
When did you make the switch from one sport to another, and how difficult was the transition? 

Alvarado's father Ron Cisneros
MA: I was always an aggressor in wrestling, always a come-forward wrestler. My biological dad was a boxer, so I said “it’s in my blood.” I actually liked it, and I just kept doing it and figured out one day that I needed to train year round. I got in the gym, started getting in some amateur fights, and went from there. I started putting down people, and my strength was overwhelming for a lot of people my size.

KOD: Boxing does run in your family, however. You are the son of “The Rocky Mountain Assassin” -- bantamweight and flyweight fighter Ron Cisneros, and the cousin of professional fighters as well. Did any of the family lineage factor into your decision to fight?

MA: Not really. Me and my buddies still mess around and put the gloves on in the backyard. I always wanted to box, but I walked in the ring that day and everything started from there.

KOD: What lessons did wrestling teach that you could carryover to boxing?

MA: Discipline and training. You have to have that edge to push the extra mile, extra heart, and extra sweat. Whatever my opponent is doing, I’m going to push that much harder. Discipline carried over, and cutting weight helped me. Other people struggled with cutting weight, but I have no problem cutting weight even at my age now.

KOD: What can we expect in the fight against Ruslan Provodnikov?

MA: Action! Tune in! He’s going to bring his heart. So am I and we’ll see who is stronger and more technical that night. I’ve got a lot of rounds and I’ve been under the pressure of the moment. I break down and adjust accordingly.

KOD: Can you knock him out? 

MA: I believe I can knock anybody out.

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