November 25, 2013

Bantamweights & Below - Boxing's Other Five Weight Divisions Vol. 11

Donaire explodes on Darchinyan at Flyweight
By Derek "DBO" Bonnett One of the greatest fallacies promulgated by casual boxing fans in their dismissal of the lighter weight classes is that smaller fighters don't hit hard. Heavyweights score KO's and flyweights go the distance, some say. However, what is being grossly overlooked is that heavyweights sometimes have to hear the final bell as well and the flyweights are often the ones going home early. One's passion for various divisions is often impacted by the body type of the individual who is watching; that person's geographical region also plays a significant role. Even still, it does not make that initial, misguided, sentiment any more true. The truth of the matter is that if a casual fan cannot see the equally explosive nature of the lighter weight classes, then they were simply not paying attention in eras when Ricardo Lopez, Michael Carbajal, Mark Johnson, Vic Darchinyan, Nonito Donaire, Khaosai Galaxy, Ruben Olivares, and Rafael Marquez were regularly taking the scalps of title challengers and contenders without the need of judges or a final bell.

Sure, in that time you had Myung Woo Yuh and Ivan Calderon, who couldn't pop a pimple but the heavyweight division has also had its share of decision earners in Jack Sharkey, James Braddock, Chris Byrd, and John Ruiz over the ages. The bottom line in boxing is: power is relative. A two hundred pound man can hurt another two hundred pound man just the same as a one hundred pound man hitting another one hundred pound man. Some two hundred pound men hit harder than other two hundred pounders and the same rationale applies to the boxers competing at Bantamweight & Below. 

World Class Boxing Results at Bantamweight & Below:

Marquez cracks Segura in a Fight of the Year candidate
On Saturday, November 2, at Centro de Usos Multiples, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, Hernan Marquez was stopped in the twelfth round by Giovani Segura in a crucial flyweight bout. Segura dropped Marquez in the fourth, eleventh, and twelfth rounds. The fight was waved off with about a minute to go in the fight despite conflicting time reports. Segura raised his ledger to 31-3-1 (27) with the career best win. He now eyes Juan Francisco Estrada for a shot at the WBO/WBA titles. Marquez fell to 36-4 (26) in a game showing. Segura jumped from ninth to fifth among my dynamic pack of flyweights. Marquez fell from fifth to eighth. Luis Concepcion was pushed from eighth to ninth.

Also on this date, at Emperor's Palace, Kempton Park, Gauteng, South Africa, Hekkie Budler dropped Hugo Hernan Verchelli three times in round four of a minimumweight bout. The fight was waved off by the referee. Budler raised his ledger to 24-1 (7). Verchelli fell to 11-2 (6).
Budler affirmed his status as my number one boxer at 105-pounds.

On Sunday, November 10, in Kokukigan, Tokyo, Japan, Shinsuke Yamanaka stopped Alberto Guevara in nine rounds of a WBC bantamweight title bout. Yamanaka dropped Guevara twice in the eighth and once in the ninth. The bout ended at the :25 mark. Yamanaka earned his fifth title defense in raising his record to 20-0-2 (15). Yamanaka left no room for doubt concerning his number one ranking among my assessment of today's bantamweights. Also on the card, Roman Gonzalez stopped Oscar Blanquet in a two rounds of a flyweight bout. Gonzalez dropped Blanquet in the first before finishing him along the ropes at the :27 mark. Gonzalez raised his record to 37-0 (31) as he pursues his third world title in as many divisions. Blanquet crashed to 32-7-1 (23). Gonzalez has moved up in weight to 112 and is ranked number one in my eyes having already defeated Juan Francisco Estrada, who recently had been in the top spot after his defeat of Brian Viloria.

Rungvisai (R) beats Mukai in 9 to defend his WBC title
On Friday, November 15, at Provincial Stadium, Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai defended his WBC super flyweight title against Hirofumi Mukai with a ninth round TKO. The end came at 1:44. Rungvisai made his first defense of the title which sandwiched three non-title fights wins with his title winning effort. Rungvisai improved to 23-3-1 (21). Rungvisai climbed from number two to number one in my super flyweight rankings with the victory. Omar Andres Narvaez fell from first to second. Also on the card, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai scored his eighth win of 2013 with a second round stoppage of Singnamchai Chaiyonggym. Rungvisai raised his ledger to 31-5-1 (13). Chaiyonggym was reportedly making his pro debut.

Kameda (L) came off the mat to beat Son by split decision
On Tuesday, November 19, Convention Center, Jeju, South Korea, Koki Kameda defeated Jung-Oh Son by split decision in a twelve round WBA bantamweight title bout. The South Korean challenger dropped Kameda in the tenth round, but could only manage to sway one judge in his favor. Kameda retained his belt for the eighth time by scores of 115-112, 114.5-114, and 113-115.5. The Japanese champion raised his record to 32-1 (17). Son dipped to 20-5-2 (6). Kameda remains my third ranked bantamweight.

On Saturday, November 23, at Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort, Macao, Macao, S.A.R., China, Zou Shiming outpointed Juan Tozcano in a six round flyweight bout. Shiming opened up a bad cut under Tozcano's right eye. The three judges favored the former amateur star by scored of 60-52 and two counts of 60-54. Shiming raised his record to 3-0 (0). Tozcano dipped to 4-1 (1).

Bantamweight & Below Featured Rankings: Best Punchers

Giovani Segura is the top power puncher 
1.) Giovani Segura (112) 31-3-1 (27) ~ Former WBA/WBO Light Flyweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: KO12 Hernan Marquez, KO4 Jonathon Gonzalez, TKO9 Omar Salado ~ Notable Fact:
Segura has eleven first round KO's.

2.) Brian Viloria (112) 32-4-1 (19) ~ Former WBA/WBO Flyweight Champion; Former WBC/IBF Light Flyweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: TKO10 Hernan Marquez, TKO9 Omar Nino Romero, TKO 8 Giovani Segura ~ Notable Fact:
Viloria has KO'd six world champions.

3.) Roman Gonzalez (112) 37-0-0 (31) ~ Former WBA Minimum and Light Flyweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: TKO2 Oscar Blanquet, TKO7 Francisco Rodriguez Jr., TKO5 Ronald Barrera ~ Notable Fact: Gonzalez started his career with sixteen straight stoppages.

4.) Kazuto Ioka (108) 13-0-0 (9) ~ WBA Light Flyweight Champion; Former WBA/WBC Minimumweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: KO7 Kwanthai Sithmorseng, KO9 Wisanu Kokietgym, TKO6 Jose Alfredo Rodriguez ~ Notable Fact: Ioka is 6-0 in world title fights with four of those wins having come inside of the distance.

5.) Shinsuke Yamanaka (118) 20-0-2 (15) ~ WBC Bantamweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: KO9 Alberto Guevara, KO12 Malcolm Tunacao ~ Notable Fact: More than half his KO's have come after the seventh round.

6.) Denver Cuello (105) 33-5-6 (21) ~ Recent WBC Minimumweight Title Challenger ~ Recent Stoppages: TKO2 Ganigan Lopez, KO4 Kid Suryana, KO1 Carlos Perez ~ Notable Fact: Cuello once went on a ten-fight KO streak.

Marquez shows why they call him Tyson
7.) Hernan Marquez (112) 36-4-0 (26) ~ Former WBA Flyweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: TKO 3 Edgar Ramirez, TKO1 Luis Concepcion, TKO3 Edrin Dapudong ~ Notable Fact: All three of Marquez' title fight wins have ended by stoppage.

8.) Luis Concepcion (112) 30-3-0 (22) ~ Former WBA Flyweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: KO10 Carlos Ruben Dario Ruiz, TKO6 Anuar Salas, TKO2 Odilon Zaleta ~ Notable Fact: Concepcion has scored eleven knockdowns in his last seven fights.

9.) Julio Ceja (118) 25-1-0 (23) ~ Recent IBF Bantamweight World Title Challenger ~ Recent Stoppages: TKO10 Juan Jose Montes, KO5 Henry Maldonado, KO2 Eden Marquez ~
Notable Fact: Since his second fight, Ceja has only had to go the distance once in victory.

10.) Carlos Cuadras (115) 28-0-0 (23) ~ #1 Ranked WBC Super Flyweight Contender ~ 
Recent Stoppages: TKO7 Victor Zaleta, TKO7 Ronald Barrera, KO5 Javier Franco ~ Notable Fact:
Fifteen of Cuadras' KOs have ended in two rounds or less.

Honorable Mention: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (115) 23-03-1 (21) ~ WBC Super Flyweight Champion ~ Recent Stoppages: TKO9 Hirofumi Mukai, KO2 Petch Pitigym, TKO2 Joan Imperial ~ Notable Fact:
After a 1-3-1 pro-start, Rungvisai has stopped eighteen of twenty opponents.

Bantamweight & Below: Give That Man a Title Shot! 

A title shot seems a natural for Segura in 2014
Giovani Segura just might be the 2013 Comeback Fighter of the Year. Since losing a 2011 world title shot against Brian Viloria and disappearing for all of 2012, the Mexican power-puncher has gone 3-1, only losing a narrow points decision to one of the world's best flyweights in Edgar Sosa. In his last two outings, Segura, 31, has appeared stronger than ever in stopping unbeaten Puerto Rican prospect Jonathon Gonzalez and former world champion Hernan Marquez. In each outing, he dropped his opponent three times. The win over Marquez is a strong candidate for 2013 Fight of the Year. It has also been rumored to have secured a world title fight with Viloria-conqueror Juan Francisco Estrada. The WBO ranks Segura, a resident of Bell, California, USA, first while the WBA ranks him second. Estrada presently holds both titles.

Bantamweights & Below — On the Horizon: 

On Saturday, November 30, at Araneta Coliseum, Barangay Cubao, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, Donnie Nietes versus Sammy Gutierrez in a twelve round WBO light flyweight title bout. The fortunate champion takes on the rugged former titlist on the slide. Also on the card, Merlito Sabillo takes on Carlos Buitrago in a twelve round WBO minimumweight title bout. Milan Melindo also meets Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in a twelve round flyweight bout. The two rising Filipino stars have their work cut out for them.

On Saturday, November 30, in Maguan, China, Xiong Zhau Zhong meets Omari Kimweri in a WBC minimumweight title bout over twelve rounds. China's real star looks to extend his title reign at 105.

On Tuesday, December 3, at Bodymaker Colosseum, Osaka, Osaka, Japan, Tomoki Kameda versus Immanuel Naidjala in a twelve round WBO bantamweight title bout. One third of the historic Kameda clan defends his title for the first time. Also on the card, Daiki Kameda versus Liborio Solis in a twelve round IBF/WBA super flyweight unification bout. Katsunari Takayama also faces Vergilio Silvano in a twelve round IBF minimumweight title bout.

On Friday, December 6, in Kokukigan, Tokyo, Japan, Akira Yaegashi takes on Edgar Sosa in a twelve round WBC flyweight title bout. Mexico's Sosa continues his march to 2013 Fighter of the Year contention.

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

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

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November 18, 2013

Andre Ward bests Edwin Rodriguez after weigh-in bombshell drops

Disaster for La Bomba on the scale 
ONTARIO, CA - The drama began the day before I took my seat next to RING magazine Editor Michael Rosenthal on pressrow Saturday night at the Citizens Business Bank Arena. Andre Ward, in his first fight in over a year, was supposed to defend his WBA super middleweight title against the dangerous and unbeaten Edwin "La Bomba" Rodriguez.

He was supposed to anyway.

Rodriguez tipped the scales at 170 pounds, two pounds over the division limit, and his inability to make weight cost him a cool $200,000 - a cash settlement that was shared evenly by the California State Athletic Commission and Ward, who did weigh in under the limit at 167.8 pounds.

Rodriguez, along with the hefty penalty, also forfeited the right to contest for the world title and his promoter Lou DiBella could not contain his disappointment: "I truly believe in him as a fighter and that he had a chance to do something great. Now he's in a situation where he can't win the belt, and he's been docked money his family desperately needed and I have a hard time believing he will be at his best. I have empathy if he simply couldn't make the weight but that doesn't change the annoyance or disappointment or stop me from saying I'm sorry on behalf of his team to Ward, Ward's team, HBO and to the fans."

It came as a shock to many, including myself, but maybe it shouldn't have. His last outing, an impressive first round knockout of the highly touted Denis Grachev, was contested at a catchweight of 171.5 pounds and was perhaps a tell tale sign of things to come. In many cases, a fighter will simply grow out of a division and having made his debut at 162 pounds over five years ago, maybe he can be forgiven. Or maybe not. It was unprofessional, borderline disrespectful, however out of character it may have seemed for him. After weighing in at 179.8 pounds at 9AM on Saturday morning, a fraction under the 180 pound limit that was agreed upon earlier, the Pride of Worcester, MA was cleared to fight.

Ward dismantles La Bomba
After that, it was all Andre Ward. The current WBA and RING magazine champion displayed all of the ring intellect and athleticism that we've become accustomed to in recent years. It was a boxing clinic, a master class perhaps. The frustration that Rodriguez caused upon the scale far outweighed the trouble he was able to create inside the ring. He was outmatched from the opening bell and had no answer for Ward, who did not display much evidence of a 14-month layoff due to a shoulder injury that had required surgery. It wasn't always the prettiest, due to clenching and mild wrestling at times, but there was a beauty within the ugliness that's to be admired. “He didn't really come to win,” said Ward to HBO's Max Kellerman “He came here to get lucky. He wanted to hold and make it ugly and hope that he could catch me with something big. You gotta learn how to fight those guys. It's not always going to be spectacular. But a win is a win."

Ward was being modest.

Rodriguez showed intent in the first round and launched an immediate attack upon Ward as the opening bell sounded. It looked, for a moment at least, that the size and willingness of Rodriguez could make things interesting. It was short lived. Ward punctuated the round with a shot that drew a reaction from the crowd and he took control of the fight from that point. The second round saw Ward establish the jab and he snapped the head of Rodriguez back at will over the course of the fight. As Ward found a rhythm, he began to land big left hooks as he varied his attack behind an educated, snapping jab that Rodriguez found unavoidable. Ward was beginning to show why he is a pound-for-pound #1 in the making.

Reiss sorts out the strange situation
Things took a turn for the bizarre in the fourth. As the action heated up, with Rodriguez sensing the already widening gap between the two, a fight broke out within the boxing match. Following some inside fighting, and clenching along the ropes, veteran referee Jack Reiss stepped in to separate the pair and took a shot for his troubles, as both fighters exchanged punches on the break. Having summoned both combatants to a neutral corner, Reiss composed himself, and then deducted two points from each of them. I had never seen anything like it before, and quite frankly pressrow was rather puzzled. Reiss later told me, "It was the first time I have ever had to do that, but it sorted them out."

Rodriguez's chin stood up to Ward's left hook
Ward, 27-0, 14 KO's, was coasting as we entered the second half of the fight and behind an excellent jab, would fend off the occasional attack from Rodriguez with a wry smile. In round ten, as Rodriguez came to life a little, and appeared to have some success, he was stunned by a huge left hook that had the crowd on their feet. Ward punctuated the round by backing his bigger opponent against the ropes. The next round was better for Rodriguez, I don't recall seeing the kitchen sink at all, but I scored round eleven in his favor. The twelfth and final round saw Ward land more of the big left hooks that had been kind to him all night. A cut was opened up above the left eye of Rodriguez, seemingly by a right hand during the round, but it was the left hand of Ward, either his efficient jab or accurate hook, that caused the most significant blows throughout the fight. "I'm going to get better," said Ward of his performance "This was after 14 months off. I'm going to get right back into the gym and get right back at it."

The result was beyond doubt as the final bell tolled and all three judges scored the bout in favor of Ward.
The official scores were 118-106, 117-107 and 116-108. I scored the contest 117-108 for KO Digest.

Rodriguez, now 24-1, 16 KO's, was not short of 'fight' throughout the evening, but he did appear short of ideas as the creativity of Ward shone through. La Bomba was lobbing bombs with bad intentions but a lot of desire must have escaped on the scales, along with the opportunity to become a true World Champion. It wouldn't have mattered anyway.

Rodriguez is good but Ward is great. The Son of God's ability to hit, and not be hit whilst dictating the pace of the contest is something to marvel at. It is a pity that a small crowd of only 4,000 or so spectators were in attendance to witness it.

KO Digest Ringside Report by Terry Strawson

November 17, 2013

KO Digest Ringside Report - Kielczweski wins, boxing back in Maine

The Polish Prince picks up a title in Portland
PORTLAND — For the first time in more than twenty years, professional boxing returned to Portland, Maine last night at the historic Portland Expo. A lively crowd of nearly 3,000 fans packed the venue which from the inside looks and feels a little like the Atlantic City Convention Center, just smaller and in Maine, not New Jersey. Portland Boxing Club President Bobby Russo and promoter Al Valenti worked hard to provide a night at the fights that local fans would be sure to remember and they didn't disappoint. Special guests Robert Duran, Micky Ward, Tony DeMarco, and Vinny Pazienza were in attendance and they helped to give the card a big time feel. The night featured a mix of professional and amateur USA Boxing that was headlined by undefeated junior lightweight Ryan "Polish Prince" Kielczweski from nearby Quincy, MA who picked up the IBA Americas title with a hard fought decision win over southpaw Jose Hernandez.

On the same night that Massachusetts standout Edwin "La Bomba" Rodriguez was fighting World Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward across the country in California, several up and comers from the New England region were in action closer to home to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that boxing is by no means dead or dying and also that it's alive and well in Maine, a state with a very rich boxing tradition. To get a sense of the history at the Expo, consider that Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong, and Willie Pep all fought in the building during their careers.

In the Main Event, junior lightweight Ryan "The Polish Prince" Kielczweski, 129.6, Quincy, MA, controlled the early portion of his scheduled 8-round IBA Americas title fight with a busy jab and straight right hands that kept his Mexican opponent Jose Hernandez, 130, Atlanta, GA, off balance and ineffective. Kielczweski began loading up on the left hook and wide uppercuts in the middle of the fight, perhaps looking to score another big one-punch knockout like he did in his most recent fight on ESPN Friday Night Fights. When the pair would trade at close quarters, Kielczweski held the advantage and when they boxed, the Prince was able to make things quite a bit easier on himself. Kielczweski got on his boxing bicycle and went to the body often in the seventh and eighth rounds and he cruised to a unanimous decision win to pick up his first championship belt, the IBA Americas title. Official scores were 78-74, 80-72, and 80-73.

Kielczweski talks to KO Digest 
The popular Polish Prince improves to 18-0, 4 KO's while former USBA featherweight champion Hernandez falls to 11-11-1, 5 KO's.

KO Digest caught up with the winner at ringside after the fight to get his assessment. "I felt sharp. Hernandez was game, he kept coming forward. He went eight rounds with Mikey Garcia. He stopped a guy that was 15-0. I guess I took the safe route tonight and just outboxed him. I could have done a lot more. I countered too much and didn't press the action enough or throw multiple punches enough," said the joyous but self-critical Kielczweski.

On The Undercard:

Middleweight Russell Lamour, 160, Portland, ME, got all he could handle from the surprisingly rough and tough cage fighter Deivison Ribeiro, 159.8, Tampa, FL, who was making his pro debut in a boxing ring. Toe to toe exchanges highlighted the first half of the fight and both fighters had their moments when the leather was flying fast and furious. Lamour wisely slowed the pace in the fourth round and he then relied on his superior boxing skills and amateur pedigree to carry him to a decision win. A left hook had Ribeiro holding on in the fifth and in the sixth, Lamour landed just about every punch in his arsenal but could not put his game opponent away. Scores were 59-55, 60-54, and 60-54 all for Lamour who improves his record to 6-0, 3 KO's. The consensus in pressrow was that Lamour didn't look as good as he did last July when he stopped Rhode Island's Joey Gardner in six rounds. The 30 year old "Haitian Sensation" remains a work in progress but he's certainly worth keeping an eye on.

In a 4-round bantamweight bout, Jorge Abiague, 119, Portland, ME, won a unanimous decision over the professionally debuting Leonel Garcia, 120, San Juan, Puerto Rico, by scores of 40-35, 39-36, and 40-35. Garcia seemed to have no answer for Abiague's left hook and he was tagged with it pretty regularly throughout the fight. The winner goes to 4-0.

The Cannon wins big in his home state
In the pro opener, junior welterweight Brandon "The Cannon" Berry, 143.6, West Forks, ME, had his way with Paul Souza, 147, Sommerville, MA, for three one sided rounds before the fight was stopped in the third with Souza taking a shellacking. Berry established the jab early in the fight and then ripped brutal left hooks to the body and head of his debuting opponent, who lost a point for the second of two illegal spinning backfists.

In the third, Berry scored a knockdown off a vicious left hook, uppercut combination and a follow-up barrage from "The Cannon" brought the stoppage at 1:45. Berry goes to 4-0, 3 KO's and he looked infinitely better than he did in his last fight in September in New Hampshire where he struggled with Jesus Cintron before Cintron was disqualified for borderline low blows.

Popular welterweight, US Marine Jimmy Smith, 152.6, Biddeford, ME, got in the win column as a pro for the first time tonight with a dominating first round TKO over the winless Robert Brando, 152, Hyannis, MA, who was knocked down in the first round and then trapped in a corner where Smith relentlessly pounded his wounded opponent to the head to bring about a well timed referee stoppage at 2:30. Smith's record is now 1-1, 1 KO while Brando is now 0-5.

Robert Duran enjoys the action from ringside
In The Amateur Ranks:

Open class middleweights Jason Quirk, Scarborough, ME, and Joe McKenna, South Boston, MA, got fans ready for the pros with an entertaining bout won by McKenna via 3-round decision.

In a very entertaining amateur bout to open the night, open class heavyweights Justin Kennie, Saco, ME, and Joel Bishop, Clinton, ME, traded punches for three hard rounds, much to the delight of the capacity crowd. Bishop's nose was leaking all over the ring but the Mainer showed true grit and he was rewarded with a close decision win as well as the honor of being named "outstanding boxer" of the night by USA Boxing.

Images and Words by Jeffrey Freeman

November 11, 2013

KO Digest Ringside Report - Bracero, Hardy, and Ota win in Brooklyn

Broadway Boxing
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK -- DiBella Entertainment (DBE) returned with a special edition of its Broadway Boxing series at the Aviator Sports and Events Center on Saturday night. The event, which was billed the "Battle for Brooklyn," was headlined by welterweight contender Gabriel "Tito" Bracero (22-1, 4 KO's) and former world title challenger Dmitry "Star of David" Salita (35-1-1, 18 KO's) in a 10-round welterweight showdown. The fight would crown a new WBO intercontinental welterweight champion. This match-up between the Brooklyn natives had been brewing for the last few years, and thankfully they didn't disappoint. At the bell, Bracero made his intentions known with an educated jab to set up the right hand in an attempt to back up his taller opponent, while Salita looked to counter. The fighter known as "Star of David" tried to land his right hand in the second, only to be countered by Bracero's left hook. Bracero had his opponent going backwards for most of the third, thanks to an accurate jab and a sneaky lead hook added by "Tito." The Salita corner tried to encourage their fighter in between rounds, and he came out a little more aggressive for the fourth with a hard jab, that temporarily halted Bracero's forward march. Bracero responded with a hard right and a left hook that drove his opponent to the ropes.

Salita did better in the sixth round, as Bracero looked to land the big bombs, and neglected the jab. The crowd went wild as Salita stepped into a short left hook, and was dropped onto the seat of his pants in the middle of the eighth. Chants of "Tito!" filled the arena as the fighters battled to the bell. In the final round, Salita (35-2-1, 18 KO's) gave it his all and Bracero (23-1, 4 KO's) stood his ground. The fighters fought toe-to-toe, and continued to fire punches after the bell.

Bracero and Salita live up to their billing
Both men received a standing ovation from the sold out crowd immediately after the fight. The scores of 97-92, 99-90, and 100-89 all in favor of the new WBO intercontinental welterweight title holder Bracero didn't reflect the competitiveness of the entertaining bout. "This was a big opportunity for me," said the winner at the ringside post-fight interview. "I turned my life around. I could be in jail or dead. I have a story to tell," said Bracero. Promoter Lou Dibella claimed that Bracero was ready for the big time, and that HBO should showcase his fighter. Salita had nothing to be ashamed of in defeat, as he gave a valiant effort.

Hardy picks up her first professional title belt
In the co-feature, Heather "The Heat" Hardy won the vacant UBF junior featherweight championship in perhaps her best performance. In a bout that was scheduled for eight rounds, Hardy made it seven straight, as she improved to 7-0, 2 KO's against Laura Gomez who hails from Sonara, Mexico. Gomez seemed all business at the bell, as she tried to bully her smaller opponent, and drive her backwards. But right hands to the body and head by Hardy landed with a thud. Gomez winged hooks and right hands at her opponent, but Hardy caught most of them on her gloves. In the second, "The Heat" picked up the pace, and her opponent didn't seem to have an answer. Hardy landed hard shots on her opponent's body, used angles to create more openings, and then fired some more. A hard left right combination to the head had Gomez stunned, and the referee felt she had taken enough. The time of the stoppage was 1:44 of the second round. The popular female fighter from Brooklyn has now scored two knockouts in a row. Gomez fell to 4-4.

Ota and Ruiz engage in the fight of the night
Also co-featured was OPBF junior middleweight champion Charlie Ota, who's birthplace was New York, but now resides in Tokyo, Japan against Mike Ruiz, who hails from Freeport, NY in a scheduled eight rounder. This was a brawl which featured a lot of highlight reel action. The first round was closely contested, as Ruiz would do better in the center of the ring, while Ota would do his best work near the ropes. Ruiz tried to return the favor and trapped Ota on the ropes in the second, only for Ota to spin off the ropes and fire eight consecutive left hooks to the head. Ota also did well in the third with eye catching right hands, while Ruiz tried to respond with flurries. Ruiz just couldn't find an answer whenever his back was to the ropes. Ruiz showed a lot of heart as he took some hard shots that may have stopped a lesser fighter.

In the sixth, Ota landed at will. The fan favorite Ruiz came back with some hard right hands and left hooks to the head, only for Ortiz to smile, and then fire back. In the seventh, Ota continued to land on the back pedaling Ruiz. In the final round, Ruiz shoe-shined, only for Ota to blast him with right hands to the head. The heavier blows landing clearly belonged to Ota. The scoring was somewhat questionable, as a 76-76 score was thankfully overruled by the scores of 78-74 and 77-75 for Ota who improved to 24-1-1, 16 KO's while Ruiz fell to 17-8, 9 KO's.

On The Undercard:

Joe Smith SD6 Lamont Williams (light heavyweights) - Smith stalked his opponent in the first while Williams remained on the defensive. Williams opened up a little in the second and used the jab and straight right hand. Smith responded with the left hook. Smith grew braver in the third and he began to find a home for the right. Smith landed his best punch of the fight in that round, a right hand that landed flush, momentarily halting his opponent's forward movement. Smith also found success in the fifth, as Williams neglected to jab on his shorter opponent. In the final round, Smith jabbed to the body before coming over the top with a right hand while Williams was reduced to back pedaling and throwing the home run right hands to the head. The score of 58-56 for Williams was overruled by identical scores of 58-56 for Smith in a closely contested fight. Smith improved to 13-1, 11 KO's while Williams record is now 5-3-1, 2 KO's.

Patrick Day D6 Urmat Ryskeldiev (junior middleweights) - Ryskeldiev proved to be a tough opponent, doing his best to come forward the entire fight. In the first, Day relied on a jab and a left to the body and head in a close opening round. In the second, the action heated up, as the LA fighter continued his forward march, landing a few right hands. The edge in hand speed however, clearly belonged to Day, and he landed his punches in combination. In the third, the fighters fought evenly, as Ryskeldiev landed right hands, and Day responded by going to the body, and by landing eye-catching hooks. Day also started the fourth round with a nice right cross left hook combination that sent the sweat flying off the head of his opponent. Ryskeldiev did well in the final round, as Day elected to stand and trade, rather than rely on his jab. A 59-57 score for Day was overruled by the other two judges who had identical scores of 57-57 resulting in a majority draw. Ryskeldiev record now reads 5-3-1, 4 KO's while the fighter from Freeport, NY is now 5-0-1, 2 KO's.

Broadway Boxing in Brooklyn, New York
Shemuel Pagen UD4 Jesus Javier Cintron (junior welterweights) - Plenty of action in the first round, as the fighters traded shots to the body, as well as crisp right hands and left hooks. Pagan's shots to the body in the second and third rounds were brutal. Cintron would respond with hard punches of his own to the head, but he would literally fold as the body shots from "The Chosen One" would land. In the final round, hooks to the body and head had Cintron in trouble. The fighter showed heart as the punches landed frequently. All three judges scored the fight 40-36 in favor of Pagen, whose record improved to 4-0, 1 KO while Cintron, disqualified in his last fight, fell to 2-4-2, 1 KO.

Chris Galeano UD4 Jamil Gadsden (junior middleweights) - Right from the bell, Galeano established his southpaw jab, and straight left hand to back off Gadsden who would display an occasional flurry to the body and head, but Galeano displayed a tight defense. In the second, Galeano landed a left cross to the body, and right hook to the head, but he suffered a bad cut to the left eye,which would be ruled an accidental head butt. Gadsden targeted the eye in the third round with right crosses, and may have won the round, as his opponent went on the defensive. Galeano responded in the final round with body shots, while his opponent countered with right hands. Galeano won by the scores of 39-37 and 40-36 twice. Galeano picked up his first win as a pro and improved to 1-1 while Gadsden is now 0-4.

Junior Younan TKO1 Kenneth Schmitz (super middleweights) - In his pro debut, 18 year old New Yorker "Sugar Boy" Younan displayed quick hands, and his opponent was forced into a defensive posture as he raced across the ring to start the fight. Schmitz escaped momentarily, and fired a right hand. Trapped once again, this time in the red corner, a flurry to the body capped by a right uppercut snapped his opponents head up, and the referee was forced to stop the contest. The time of the stoppage was 1:40 of the first. Younan picked up his first win in his professional debut, while Schmitz fell to 2-11-1, 1 KO. Described by DBE as a "blue-chip" prospect, look for Younan to back in action very soon.

Louis Cruz TKO2 Bryan Acaba (lightweights) - In the first, Cruz spent most of the round in "Cruz Control" probing with the jab to the body and head, followed by an occasional right. Acaba countered with the hook. Acaba tried a double hook near the end of the round, but it was blocked by Cruz. In the second, Cruz put together a three punch combo that stunned his opponent. In what appeared to be a knockdown, the referee called it a slip, and the fight resumed. Cruz quickly pounced and a huge left uppercut had  "The Beast" out on his feet. The ref jumped in to rescue Acaba at 1:24 of the second round. Cruz is now 6-0, 3 KO's and steadily improving. Acaba fell to 3-5, 2 KO's. 

The "Star of David" McLeod

KO Digest Ringside Report by David McLeod

Photos By Ed Diller/DiBella Entertainment

November 8, 2013

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science - Women's Boxing Monthly Vol. 9

By Mark A. Jones – Keeping it in the family, the younger sisters of two female Mexican boxing legends are now punching for pay. On October 26 in Toluca, Mexico, Lourdes Juarez, the younger sister of Mariana “Barbie” Juarez made her debut knocking out Gabriela Martinez (0-1) in the fourth. Not to be outdone, Silvia Torres (1-0), younger sister of two-time WBC female super-flyweight champion, Ana Maria Torres is scheduled to compete on November 16 in Guanajuato.

On October 5, the 39th Annual National PAL Boxing Championships were held in Oxnard, CA. Two members of the 2012 Olympic Team, Bronze Medalist, Marlene Esparza and Queen Underwood competed in the tournament. Esparza won the 112 pound elite final by besting Sacred Downing. Underwood lost in the 132 pound elite semi-final to 2012 Olympic Alternate, Mikaela Mayer who went on to defeat Melissa Parker in the finals. Mayer gained the distinction of being named Best Female Boxer Overall of the tournament. Third time is a charm for Mayer who twice lost to Underwood in the first-ever women’s U.S. Olympic Boxing Trials in 2012.

Irish Fans Are Smiling


106# Maureeca Lambert, Glen Ellyn, IL.
112# Marlene Esparza, Houston, TX.
119# Jaime Mitchell, Salinas, CA.
125# Tiara Brown, Hyattsville, Md.
132# Mikaela Mayer, Los Angeles, CA.
141# Lisa Porter, North Ridge, CA.
152# Fallon Farrar, Army
165# Raquel Miller, San Francisco, CA.

On November 30, Katie Taylor returns to action in her home town of Bray, Ireland, against top-notch European competition in the form of Finland’s Mira Potkonen. Last summer, she drew more than 20,000 fans to her post-Olympic homecoming. As Taylor continues her “The Road to Rio” campaign, she secured her fifth consecutive European Union title earlier this year by besting Estelle Mossely of France.
Taylor is ranked #1 in the world by the AIBA.

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

La Pantera Farias shows Mary McGee no mercy
On October 4, the consensus two best lightweights in women’s boxing were victorious. In Rosario, Argentina, KO Digest #2 pound-for-pound female boxer, Erica Anabella “La Pantera” Farias, 134 ½, Virreyes, Argentina, defended her WBC female lightweight title for the tenth time with a lopsided unanimous decision victory (100-90/98-90/98-91) over “Merciless” Mary McGee, 134 ½, Gary, Indiana. Normally a forward-moving slugger, Farias (18-0, 9 KOs) displayed the versatility of a pound-for-pound ranked fighter by outboxing her stationary opponent, displaying speed, combination punching, and effective movement. McGee dropped to (20-3, 11 KOs) with the loss.

In Gent, Belgium, the current WIBF lightweight champion, and former IBF and EBU lightweight title holder, Delfine Persoon, 134 ½, Roeselare, Belgium, won an eight-round unanimous decision victory (80-71/80-71/80-72) over Irma Balijagic Adler, 134 ½, Sarajevo, Bosnia And Herzegovina. Persoon, the KO Digest’s #12 pound-for-pound female boxer has developed into an excellent puncher with the right hand stopping six of her last ten opponents. As accomplished a puncher that Persoon has developed into, Adler failed to get out of the first round in June 2012 against Farias.

Persoon vs Farias soon?
Persoon is ranked #1 by the WBC who boasts Farias as their lightweight women’s champion. The possibility of the two best lightweights in women’s boxing meeting for supremacy of the division is unlikely. Persoon is scheduled to meet IBF welterweight champion, Eva Halasi in an eight-round, non-title fight on November 11. In December, she is scheduled to defend her WIBF lightweight title against Italian Lucia Morelli who holds the WIBA, WBF, and GBU lightweight belts. With Persoon occupied in Europe, Farias has conquered the rest of the division possibly paving the way for a move to light-welterweight where significant challenges exist. Fellow Argentinian compatriots Monica Silvina “La Gata” Acosta (WBA), Fernanda Soledad Alegre (WBO), and Alejandra Marina “Locomotora” Oliveras (WBC) head the light-welterweight division; each would be considered involved in a super-fight if matched against each other or Farias. Oliveras (31-2-2, 16 KOs) has won four legitimate world titles during her career.

On October 5 in Incheon, South Korea, in front of a hometown crowd, Ji-Hyun Park, 102, defended her IFBA minimumweight title for the fourteenth time with a ten-round unanimous decision victory (96-95/98-92/97-94) over the hard-punching Juejeath “Bad Girl” Nagaowa, 102, Anyang, South Korea by way of Philippines. With the win, Park moves to (19-2, 5 KOs) and is quietly 7 ½ years into her reign as a minimumweight champion.
Nagaowa drops to (12-13-1, 8 KOs) with the loss.

Slick Southpaw Ashley
On October 23 in Tijuana, Mexico, in the headliner of a seven bout all-female card, southpaw Alicia “Slick” Ashley, 121 ¼, Westbury, New York, by way of Jamaica, defended her WBC female super-bantamweight title for the third time with a fifth-round technical knockout of a game but limited, Zenny Sotomayor, 121 ¼, Los Mochis, Mexico. At the age of 46, Ashley (20-9-1, 2 KOs), who turned professional in 1999, is the female version of the ageless Bernard Hopkins. Generally, fighters become inconsistent as they age; Ashley, with the stoppage victory over Sotomayor, won her fifth fight in a row, the longest such streak of her career. Sotomayor (10-6-2, 8 KOs) entered the fight with a glaring knockout percentage built on exploited fighters. She had little chance of laying a serious glove on Ashley who is as pure a boxer currently campaigning in the sweeter side of the sport. With the knockout, Ashley earned her second career stoppage victory and first since stopping Elena Reid on cuts in 2005. At first glance, Ashley’s record may seem pedestrian, but a closer inspection reveals that of her nine losses, all have been away from her New York City base and five in other countries where decisions were lost by razor-thin margins. Her last decisive loss came in 2002 against Chevelle “Fist of Steel” Hallback in the super-featherweight division.

On the undercard, twenty-year-old future flyweight star, Kenia Enriquez (8-0, 4 KOs) Tijuana, Mexico, won a six-round decision over Kareli Lopez (5-5-1, 1 KO) also of Tijuana. Maureen “The Real Million Dollar Baby” Shea (25-2, 11 KOs) Ventura, California, by way of the Bronx, NY, won a six-round unanimous decision over Lesly Morales (3-4-1, 0 KOs) Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Shea, a former NABF and interim WBC featherweight champion, is possibly best known for being the main sparring partner for Hilary Swank in her preparation for her academy award winning performance in the movie, “Million Dollar Baby.”

Ava Knight is defeated by Mexico's La Roca
On October 26 in Toluca, Mexico, Ibeth “La Roca” Zamora improved to (19-5, 8 KOs) successfully defending her WBC female light-flyweight title for the second time with a ten-round unanimous decision over the highly regarded and former flyweight champion, Ava “The Lady of Boxing” Knight (12-2-3, 5 KOs). At the final press conference, Zamora hailing from Huichochitlan San Cristobal, Mexico which is a community within the municipality of Toluca, was confident of victory denigrating Knight’s accomplishments at flyweight and described Knight’s punching power as cotton-fisted. In Mexico, before this fight, Knight was referred to as the “Mexican Destroyer” for her many victories against fighters of Mexican descent, most notably Mucino and Juarez.

That nickname took a hit as did Knight during the ten rounds of fast-paced action. Zamora backed up her bold statements executing her fight-plan against the taller and longer American - evading, countering, and bullying Knight around the ring. Fighting at 108 lbs for only the second time of her career, Knight, who has fought for world titles at flyweight, super-flyweight, and bantamweight appeared sluggish and had difficulty establishing anything in the early rounds that would discourage Zamora from landing counter power punches at an alarming rate. After the slow start, Knight of Chico, CA., was competitive in the second half, avoiding a shutout on the score cards (98-92/97-94/97-93). With the win, Zamora vaults into the P4P discussion and Knight remains a known commodity in and around flyweight.

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

Kika vs Machine Gun
On November 9, in Mexico, pound-for-pound #4 female boxer, Jessica “Kika” Chavez (19-3-2, 4 KOs) Mexico City, Mexico, defends her WBC Silver female light-flyweight title against heavy-handed Arely “Machine Gun” Mucino (18-2-1, 10 KOs) Monterrey, Mexico. “Kika” Chavez is as good as it gets in women’s boxing winning her last nine fights since dropping a decision to Esmeralda Moreno in 2011. Chavez won the vacant WBC Silver light-flyweight title by defeating Irma Sanchez (UD-10) in February and successfully defended the strap by narrowly defeating fellow pound-for-pound fighter, Yesica Yolanda “Tuti” Bopp (UD-10) in June. Trained by Ignacio Beristain, Chavez is a versatile fighter owning the ability to utilize the strategies of a lead-puncher, counter-puncher, and fight inside or from a distance.

Mucino, the former IBF female flyweight and WBA (interim) female flyweight title holder, is a high volume, midrange hook artist, which after the opening bell, is throwing punches in bunches. Against A-level competition, she more than holds her own defeating Melissa McMorrow (SD-10), and losing to Mariana Juarez (SD-10). Mucino was leading on the cards after three rounds when battling the long-time champion, Susi Kentikian until a clash of heads prematurely ended the fight resulting in a no-decision. Ava Knight starched her in two rounds in October 2011. The loss remains the only eyesore on an otherwise impressive record. This fight will be televised by Mexico Televisa. Mucino’s battle with Juarez enjoyed double digit ratings which is a testament to the popularity of women’s boxing in Mexico.

On November 13, at Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan, the former WBC minimumweight champion Naoko Fujioka (10-0, 6 KOs) Tokyo, moves up in weight to challenge reigning WBA super-flyweight champion, Naoko Yamaguchi (22-3-3, 18 KOs) also of Tokyo. A former Japanese amateur champion, Fujioka, in 2009, turned professional at the late age of thirty-four requiring only 20 months and six professional fights to win the WBC female minimumweight title. In March, after two successful defenses, she knocked out trial horse Maribel Ramirez (KO-4) at the flyweight limit of 112 pounds after finding it difficult to find suitable opponents at minimumweight. Most recently, Fujioka vacated the WBC female minimumweight title and accepted the challenge of Yamaguchi. Known as a brutal puncher, Fujioka owns late-round knockout power, Anabel Ortiz (RTD-8), Kanittha Kokietgym (TKO-9) and underrated boxing skills as demonstrated in decision victories over Victoria Argueta (UD-10) and Naoko Shibata (UD-10).

Yamaguchi won the WBA female super-flyweight title with a ten-round unanimous decision over Tenkai Tsunami defending it successfully twice defeating Judith Rodriguez (UD-10) and Loredana Piazza (TKO-7). In contrast, the more experienced Yamaguchi turned professional in 2001 at the age of twenty-three and doubles Fujioka in rounds boxed (126-60). Although her knockout percentage is slightly higher than Fujioka’s (64.29% — 60%), which is excellent in female boxing, Yamaguchi relies on punch volume more so than one-punch knockout power. Owning an (8-1-1, 5 KOs) record in title fights, Yamaguchi brandishes ring savvy and experience against the versatility and punching power of Fujioka. The height and reach statistics are similar rendering Fujioka’s jump in weight moot. This match-up has all the ingredients as a fight of the year candidate. 

Lamonakis fights for the New York State title
On November 15 at the Five Starr Banquet in Long Island City, Queens, New York, Sonya “The Scholar” Lamonakis (8-1-2, 1 KO) New York, New York, by way of Greece, squares off against experienced banger, Gwendolyn “Stealth Bomber” O’Neil (18-7-3, 7 KOs) Georgetown, Guyana, in an eight round contest for the vacant New York State heavyweight title. The 39-year-old Lamonakis, a full-time NYC school teacher and a four-time New York Daily News Golden Gloves Champion, since turning professional in 2010 has brought credibility and attention to the women’s heavyweight division which had been lacking since the retirement of Natascha Ragosina in 2009. Lamonakis, who has yet to fight beyond the sixth round, holds multiple decision victories over contenders Tanzee Daniel (UD6, MD6, UD6) and Tiffany Woodard (MD6, UD6). After a two-year hiatus from the ring, the 44-year-old O’Neil, who held world titles at light-heavyweight and heavyweight, dives into the deep end of the pool facing the highly ranked and popular Lamonakis in New York City. Her previous travels to the US have been met with mixed results

On November 9 at the Aviator Sports Complex, Brooklyn, New York, Heather “The Heat” Hardy (6-0, 1 KO) will square off against Ana Laura “La Maravilla” Gomez (4-3) Agua Prieta, Mexico, in an eight-round contest for the vacant UBF International super-bantamweight title. Hardy, who recently signed a long-term promotional deal with DiBella Entertainment, will be fighting in her home town of Brooklyn for the first time. Since dispensing with the head gear and larger gloves of the amateur ranks fifteen months ago, Hardy has become a mainstay in the New York City boxing community constructing and ever-growing fan base with her aggressive fan-friendly style. She has been featured in numerous forms of media most recently, The Ring Magazine.

Hardy faces a tough test from Gomez
While hammering out a boxing career fight by fight, simultaneously, Hardy reconstructed her life that was forever altered by Super-Storm Sandy just over one year ago. The Super-Storm devastated the community of Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn leaving many homeless including Hardy. Since, Hardy has rolled with the punches of putting her life back together and won four fights, most recently earning her first stoppage victory over Cassie Trost (TKO-4).

Her opponent, “La Maravilla” Gomez is no stranger to New York previously losing decisions to Patricia “Patty Boom Boom” Alcivar and Keisher McLeod-Wells in the Big Apple. Gomez owns a winning record and in her last bout, won a ten-round decision over an unremarkable opponent.

To date, Gomez is the most skilled opponent Hardy has faced and an obstacle she must overcome to rise to the next level.

David McLeod will be credentialed ringside to cover the fight live for KO Digest. 

Three Questions - Sweet Side Q&A with Eva Voraberger

The Golden Baby
The 23-year-old Eva “The Golden Baby” Voraberger of Vienna, Austria, since turning professional in 2008, has pounded out an impressive (16-3, 8 KOs) record winning the WIBF flyweight title in May, 2013 with a one-sided pasting of veteran Polina Pencheva. With that victory, Voraberger rode the momentum of a 15-fight winning streak into a September WBF super-flyweight against Jordanian born and German based Raja Amasheh (16-0-1, 4 KOs); arguably the most skilled opponent “The Golden Baby” has faced to date. A known commodity on the European scene, Voraberger improved her International standing showing well, but losing a closely-contested unanimous decision to Amasheh. In December, in her home town of Vienna, Eva defends her WIBF title against 37-fight veteran, Fleis Djendji of Serbia.

Q: What prompted you to take up boxing? Do most European female boxers have a background in kickboxing or Thai boxing?

A: I was seventeen and I was a little bit of a bad girl. I'd make problems when I'd go out. My mother said please search for a sport. I found Thai Boxing by Fight Club Graz. I had twenty two fights in Thai boxing and my trainer Victor Kammerhofer said, “Eva I think you're better in boxing.”

Q: On December 7, you defend your WIBF flyweight title in front of your hometown fans in Vienna, Austria. Will there be added pressure fighting in your hometown? What did you learn in your recent title fight with Raja Amasheh that may lend you well in this fight?

A: I only want to fight at hometown. Another place is not important to me. I like it when I can fight at home and I say thank you to all my fans and family. When I walk to the ring I forget all I want is to only fight. I learned very much in the fight against Raja and I train now, my fault, and I want do better in the next fight.

Q: Do you follow the American boxing scene and what other fighters do you follow or emulate?
It is known that you are a fan of Marvin Hagler.

A: Yes, Marvin Hagler was the best boxer. I follow the American boxing because the fights are so good.
My other favorite boxers are Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Oscar De La Hoya.

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

Zamora crashes the P4P list with big win over Ava Knight
1- Cecilia Braekhus (23-0, 7 KOs) Norway
2- Erica Farias (18-0, 9 KOs) Argentina
3- Christina Hammer (15-0, 7 KOs) Germany
4- Jessica Chavez (19-3-2, 4 KOs) Mexico
5- Yesica Bopp (25-1, 11 KOs) Argentina
6- Ann Sophie Mathis (27-3 24 KOs) France
7- Marcela Acuna (40-6-1, 17 KOs) Argentina
8- Jelena Mrdjenovich (30-9-1, 15 KOs) Canada
9- Diana Prazak (12-2, 8 KOs) Australia/USA
10- Ibeth Zamora (19-5, 8 KOs) Mexico
11- Ava Knight (12-2-3, 5 KOs) USA
12- Delfine Persoon (26-1, 11 KOs) Belgium

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

November 4, 2013

KO Digest Ringside Report - Gennady Golovkin bombs Curtis Stevens

New York loves Golovkin
THEATER AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN —  It is a long and explosive road to the Mecca of Boxing and after last April's Boston Marathon Bombing, I almost didn't make it.

What a strange 6 months it's been since I was credentialed to cover my first big fight at Madison Square Garden. War was the theme of that fateful heavyweight confrontation when big British invader Tyson Fury came to American shores  for the first time and was almost knocked out by a well timed torpedo launched from the lower decks of the USS Cunningham.

As a Veteran of the United States Armed Forces, the bombing of my home city hit hard. It was a shot nobody saw coming and those are always the most dangerous in boxing, and on the battlefield. As a fight scribe, imagine my surprise when it was a local amateur boxer from Massachusetts and his younger brother who detonated the explosives that scarred my city and knocked me off my Amtrak train from Boston to New York. Locked down to shelter in place, the best I could do was watch the fight on TV. It was a welcome break from news about the bombings and the manhunt. Fury survived the projectile that exploded on his chin in the second round and he came back to sink Steve Cunningham by brutal seventh round knockout. 

Fast forward to November and Boston is still healing from the attack that killed four and maimed dozens but the city I put in my rear-view mirror on Saturday was in celebration mode. The Red Sox are the World Series Champions of baseball and a huge parade was held downtown to honor the bombing victims and the victorious Olde Towne Team. Coincidentally, on the same weekend I made my pilgrimage to midtown Manhattan to cover the Golovkin fight at MSG, the New York City Marathon was being held with a special tribute to those who lost life and limb in Boston last April.

Stevens reacts to the power of Golovkin
In the ring on Saturday night, Gennady Golovkin succesfully defended his WBA middleweight title against tough talking Brownsville Bomber Curtis "Showtime" Stevens. The end came mercifully after eight predominately one-sided rounds in favor of the popular puncher from Kazakhstan. Stevens made a good account of himself when it looked for all the world to see like he'd be done early in the fight. After a slow feeling out round in the first, Golovkin came alive in the second, dropping Stevens on his back with a devastating double left hook. While still looking up at the overhead lights, a surprised look came over the face of Stevens, proof again that it's punches you don't see coming that hurt worst.

Gut check time for Showtime Stevens in the 2nd round
Stevens (25-4, 18 KO's) made it to his feet and survived the round but he was badly hurt and spent the next round clearing the cobwebs behind a high guard. Defensively, this protected his head but it left his body open and "GGG" quickly went to war on the exposed flank, peppering Stevens with accurate power jabs and ripping hooks to the body. After recovering from the knockdown, things got interesting in the fourth and fifth when Stevens began to find Golovkin's chin with flush right hands that the unbeaten (28-0, 25 KO's) WBA middleweight champ unflinchingly walked through to answer some of the questions fans had been asking about his chin. With the chin check passed, Golovkin began to significantly assert himself in the sixth round and a pattern was established that carried on through to the conclusion of the fight.

As it unfolded, Stevens did his best to keep the action in the middle of the ring where he engaged Golovkin in close quarter combat until the physical cost of these firefights invariably pushed him back to the ropes or into a corner where Golovkin bombed away at the body. This pattern continued into the seventh and eighth rounds with Stevens taking an awful beating along the ropes at the conclusion of the final round of the fight. When the bell rang to end the eighth, referee Harvey Dock immediately ended the contest in the corner with the brave challenger on his feet but finished in the fight. For Stevens, there was no shame in defeat. Even his fans knew he couldn't beat Golovkin, but "Showtime" did them proud on HBO and he earned the respect of those who thought he'd fall early and easily in a mismatch.

"My strategy was to box, not make a street fight. After the knockdown, I felt it was my fight," said Golovkin.  

For the victorious Triple G, this was his 15th consecutive knockout win and he took another step closer to a shot at lineal World Middleweight Champion Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez. It was Martinez who Golovkin called out first on HBO after the Stevens fight and it is Martinez who boxing fans most wish to see Golovkin in the ring with. It is a natural matchup and one that Martinez cannot avoid for very much longer. Despite being the WBA middleweight title holder, Golovkin is the de facto #1 contender to the real champion Martinez and "Maravilla" is not one to duck tough challengers.

Perez hammers Abdusalamov
In the televised co-main event, Cuban defector "Irish" Mike Perez defeated Magomed Abdusalamov in a grueling battle of unbeaten heavyweight prospects. Abdusalamov (18-1, 18 KO's) was shaken up in the first round and he complained to trainer John David Jackson of a broken nose in between rounds. As the fight wore on, Perez was the more accurate puncher and by the end of the ten rounds, Abdusalamov's face was badly swollen and his left eyelid was cut open. A point was deducted from Perez in the ninth round for a low blow but it proved to be academic on the official scorecards which favored Perez 97-92, 95-94, and 97-92.

Abdusalamov was then taken to a local hospital for treatment of a broken nose and left hand where it was discovered that he had a small blood clot on his brain. The battered Russian brawler underwent surgery to remove the clot and he was placed in a medically induced coma to reduce the risk to his life. Abdusalamov is now reported to be in stable condition but his future in the ring looks doubtful. For Perez (20-0, 12 KO's) it was an important victory and the unbeaten stylist now looks forward to bigger fights in the heavyweight division.

On The Undercard: 

Ola Afolabi (20-3-4, 9 KO's, London, England) won a dreadfully boring majority decision over Lukasz Janik (26-2, 14 KO's, Jelenia Gora, Poland) in a vacant IBO cruiserweight title fight. Nearly devoid of action for twelve full rounds, Afolabi utilized his jab and superior athleticism to control the tempo of the fight against his one-dimensional Polish opponent. Janik was cut to the right eye in the tenth round. Official scores were 114-114, 117-111, and 115-113.
Harrison stays unbeaten
Dusty Hernandez Harrison (18-0, 10 KO's, Washington, DC) defeated Josh Torres (12-3-1, 5 KO's, New Mexico) by unanimous decision for the vacant WBC Youth welterweight title. The popular and poised Harrison showed well schooled movement, educated jabs, and straight right hands that befuddled Torres terribly. If only Harrison threw more left hooks, he might have been able to end this one inside the distance. Official scores in favor of Harrison were 100-90, 98-92, and 98-92. 

Joel Diaz Jr (13-0, 11 KO's, Palmdale, CA) shut out Bryne Green (7-7-1, 3 KO's,Vineland, NJ) in a junior lightweight bout. Green was knocked down from a body shot in the third but recovered nicely. Diaz used his advantages in height, power, and boxing experience to press the action in the fifth, scoring another knockdown from an accumulation of punches. Green was in survival mode for most of the sixth. All three judges scored the fight 60-52 for the winner.

The Mecca of Boxing

In the evening opener, Kazakhstan's Isa Akbarbayev set the tone for the night by defeating New Yorker Brian Clookey in a decent cruiserweight scrap. The popular winner improved his record to 11-0, 7 KO's while the local loser fell to 4-1-1, 2 KO's and suffered a nasty cut over his left eye for his troubles. All three official judges scored the fight 40-36 for Akbarbayev to the delight of the heavily Kazakh crowd.  

KO Digest Ringside Report by Jeffrey Freeman