February 26, 2014

Bantamweights & Below - Boxing's Other Five Weight Divisions Vol. 13

Fans continue to debate Finito's place in history
By Derek "DBO" Bonnett -- Boxing fans love lists. Whether they are divisional rankings, Pound-for-Pound standings, or a compilation of the best one-punch knockouts; true readers love to indulge themselves with myriad inventories of the best, most powerful, fastest, and bravest participants of legalized fisticuffs.

This insatiable pleasure is so greatly sought after primarily for the distinct privilege of dissecting the ensemble of names, re-organizing them, identifying those who don't belong, and of course, belittling the efforts of the person foolish enough to put their ideas out to the boxing world with even an iota of confidence. That's just the way it goes. In assembling last month's best 105-pound participants and this month's muddle of all-time best junior flyweights, some specific criteria was considered.

First, only retired pugilists were considered. Otherwise, fighters such as Roman Gonzalez and Jorge Arce (Yes, he's still lacing them up) would have found themselves represented on each list. Gonzalez, possibly, on both! Also, Muhammad Rachman decided to un-retire since last month's compilation of strawweight greats. Oh well. Secondly, fighters who competed in a division or held a title in the division were considered, even it is was only for a short time.

Jorge Arce retired only to come back
However, the brevity of one's tenure in a specific division certainly hurt their place among the best who spent an entire career or the bulk of their professional campaign there. For example, Ricardo Lopez was crowned the best all-time strawweight last month as he is typically recognized. In addition, Lopez had a short reign at junior flyweight to end his career. He did good work in three bouts. However, that can't really compete with the body of work that others ranked ahead of him at 108-pounds produced. Lopez certainly made the cut, but he does not top this list even if I personally believe Finito would have stopped every single one of his listed peers had they shared a ring. Similarly, I believe Michael Moorer could have been one of the all-time great light heavyweights, but he simply did not do the quality of work necessary to be considered before moving to heavyweight.

These rankings are based on body of work accomplished.

Lastly, magnitude of victory was carefully considered. The junior flyweight division has a multitude of long-reigning champions with copious title defenses; however, those reigns sometimes did not add up to the hill of beans created by a champion with a much shorter reign with the pelts of more significant opposition. When all is said and done, what I have compiled it just a list. There is plenty of room for argument, re-organization, replacement, and, of course, the dismissal of my personal credibility as a boxing authority on the subject matter unfolding at Bantamweight and Below.

World Class Boxing Results at Bantamweight and Below:

On Tuesday, January 21, at Wat Klang Klong 3 School, Pathum Thani, Thailand, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai defeated Fernando Ocun in a twelve round bantamweight bout. No scores for the bout were reported. Rungvisai extended his win-streak to twelve since his March 2012 loss to Yota Sato. His resume now stands at 32-5-1 (13). Ocun fell to 12-6 (4). Rungvisai was ranked fifth at among my world's best bantamweights, but his quality of opposition since losing has been very low. He has been dropped to the number ten spot even with his impressive activity. Also on the card, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai stopped an unknown opponent in the first round of a bantamweight bout. The time of the stoppage was unreported. Rungvisai lifted his ledger to 24-3-1 (22). Rungvisai remained ranked first among my best 115-pounders.

Loreto shows the joy of stopping Joyi
On Saturday, February 1, Nkosinathi Joyi suffered a stunning upset loss to Rey Loreto in a light flyweight bout. Loreto leveled Joyi with a left hook at :49 of round three. Loreto raised his record to 18-13 (10) to continue his run as a spoiler. Joyi crashed to 24-3 (17). Joyi tumbled out of my light flyweight rankings. The previously ranked number eight through ten contenders each climbed one ranking. Loreto debuted in the ten spot.

On Wednesday, February 5, at City Hall, Haikou, China, Xiong Zhao Zhong suffered an upset defeat at the hands of Oswaldo Novoa in a WBC minimumweight championship fight. Novoa won the title by TKO at the 2:36 mark of round five. Zhong was dropped early in the bout, but was on his feet at the time the referee intervened. "Cocky" Novoa captured his first world title and raised his unassuming record to 13-4-1 (8). Zhong, China's lone world champion no more, fell to 22-5-1 (12).

On February 8, in Mexico, Adrian Hernandez stopped Janiel Rivera in three rounds of a WBC light flyweight title bout. The bout was waved off at the 1:34 mark of round three. Hernandez notched his sixth title defense over two reigns as WBC champion. He elevated his dossier to 29-2-1 (18). Rivera crashed to 10-2-2 (6). Hernandez dropped from second to third in my 108-pound rankings after continued defenses against weak opposition. Johnreil Casimero claimed the number two spot up from three. Also on the card, Julio Ceja stopped Jesus Acosta in four rounds of a bantamweight bout. Ceja ended the fight at the 2:22 mark. The Mexican former world title challenger raised his ledger to 26-1 (24). Acosta fell to 14-3-2 (10). Ceja retained his number seven ranking among my top-rated bantamweight boxers.

Solis finished off Olea in one round
On Saturday, February 15, at Hotel El Panama, Panama City, Panama, Liborio Solis stopped Alex Olea after the first round in a bantamweight bout. The end was recorded at the 3:00 mark. Solis improved his record to 17-3-1 (8). Olea fell to 10-7 (5). Solis kept his number five ranking in my rankings at 115 pounds.

On February 20, at Centro de Convenciones Figali, Panama City, Panama, Luis Concepcion defeated Carlos Fontes by ninth round technical decision in a flyweight bout. Concepcion dropped Fontes in the fifth and seventh rounds. He prevailed by scores of 88-81 and 88-83 twice. Concepcion raised his record to 31-3 (22). Fontes dipped to 17-2 (14). Concepcion continues to be ranked eighth among my top-ten best flyweights.

Bantamweight and Below Featured Rankings -
All Time Best Retired Light Flyweights (108):

Rivals Carbajal and Gonzalez at the IBHOF
1.) Humberto Gonzalez (108) 43-3-0 (30) ~ Former IBF and three-time WBC Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins at 108:
W12 Michael Carbajal I, W12 Michael Carbajal II, KO2 Napa Kiatwanchai

2.) Michael Carbajal (108) 49-4-0 (33) ~ Former WBC, two-time WBO, and two-time IBF Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins at 108:
KO7 Humberto Gonzalez, TKO7 Muangchai Kittikasem, TKO11 Jorge Arce

3.) Myung Woo Yuh (108) 38-1-0 (8) ~ Former two-time WBA Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins at 108: W12 Leo Gamez II, W12 Hiroki Ioka II, W12 Leo Gamez I

4.) Jung-Koo Chang (108) 38-4-0 (17) ~ Former WBC Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins at 108: TKO3 Hilario Zapata, W12 German Torres II, W12 Sot Chitalada

5.) Hilario Zapata (108, 112) 43-10-1 (14) ~ Former two-time WBC Light Flyweight Champion and WBA Flyweight Champion ~
Best Wins at 108: W15 Jung-Koo Chang, W15 German Torres, TKO13 Joey Olivo

Best but not the most accomplished at 108
6.) Ricardo Lopez (105, 108) 51-0-1 (38) ~ Former WBC/WBA/WBO, Minimumweight and IBF Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins at 108: W12 Will Grigsby, TKO3 Ratanapol Sor Vorapin, KO8 Zolani Petelo

7.) Saman Sorjaturong (108) 46-8-1 (34) ~ Former WBC/IBF Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins at 108: TKO7 Humberto Gonzalez, TKO7 Joma Gamboa, KO4 Yuichi Hosono

8.) Yo-Sam Choi (108) 32-5-0 (19) ~ Former WBC Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins at 108: KO7 Saman Sorjaturong, W12 Saman Sorjaturong, TKO10 Shingo Yamaguchi

9.) Yoko Gushiken (108) 23-1-0 (15) ~ Former WBA Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins at 108: KO8 Martin Vargas, KO7 Juan Antonio Guzman, KO7 Alfonso Lopez

10.) Melchor Cob Castro (108) 71-12-4 (34) ~ Former WBC and WBO Light Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins at 108: TKO10 Rolando Pascua, W12 Jesus Chong, W12 Osvaldo Guerrero

Bantamweight and Below: Give That Man a Title Shot!

Ray Loreto hopes to add a major title soon
Although Rey Loreto of the Philippines answers to the moniker of Hitman, another fitting title for him these days is Cinderella Man. There are a few in boxing right now and guys like Loreto, Robinson Castellanos, and Rey Migreno just might end up in title fights sooner rather than later. Loreto started his career in 2008 with a four fight slide! He toiled for a couple of years before hitting another four fight tumble in 2011. However, he was matched tough and, steadily, he's improved; so much so that in his last two fight he's topped two former world champions. Pornsawan Porpramook was rebuilding for what might have been his final title run after a close defeat for the vacant WBA 105-five pound crown, a belt he once held. However, the journeyman Loreto jumped ahead of the former titlist on the cards and when an accidental head clash ended matters in the tenth round, he found himself the winner by majority technical decision.

In his immediate return bout, Loreto met another former 105-pound champion trying to re-establish himself three pounds higher. This time, Loreto scored the most emphatic win of 2014, thus far, and the leader for both Upset and KO of the Year honors. A single left hook level the once mighty strawweight champion early in the third round leaving Loreto with a hot two fight win-streak. Loreto picked up the lightly regarded IBO junior flyweight strap with the win and jumped into the ten spot in the WBA rankings. The other organizations have not released updates to their rankings since Loreto's February 1st victory, but he may be better served focusing on rankings rather than the IBO trinket.

Bantamweight and Below — On the Horizon:

On March 1, at Emperors Palace, Kempton Park, Gauteng, South Africa, Hekkie Budler versus Karluis Diaz in a twelve round minimumweight bout. On Saturday, March 8, at Coliseo Dibos Dammert, Lima Peru, Alberto Rossel versus Gabriel Mendoza in a twelve round interim WBA junior flyweight title bout.

Chemito Moreno is back in action on March 22
On Saturday, March 15, at Villa La Ñata Sporting Club, Benavídez, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Juan Carlos Reveco versus Manuel Vides in a twelve round WBA flyweight title bout. On Saturday, March 22, at Arena Roberto Duran, Panama City, Panama, Anselmo Moreno versus Javier Nicholas Chacon in a twelve round WBA bantamweight title bout.

On Wednesday, March 26, at Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan, Denkaosan Kaovichit versus Kohei Kono in a twelve round vacant WBA super flyweight title bout. On Saturday, March 29, at Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom, Stuart Hall versus Martin Ward in a twelve round IBF bantamweight title bout.

On Saturday, March 29, at Texas Station Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Brian Viloria versus TBA in a ten round super flyweight bout. On Sunday, March 30, at FujisanMesse, Shizouka, Japan, Ryuji Hara versus Donny Mabao in a twelve round strawweight bout.

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

You can find more of Derek's writings & ratings at www.SecondsOut.com

You can also contact the author Derek Bonnett on Facebook

February 22, 2014

KO Digest Ringside Report - Glen Johnson wins in Rhode Island

CES Rhode Warrior
TWIN RIVER CASINO - Most boxing fans probably thought that 45 year old former IBF light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson was retired but it turns out he's not. Known as the "Road Warrior" of boxing, Johnson has earned a favorable reputation with fans for his crowd pleasing style in the ring and for his good natured demeanor outside of it. Best known for his one punch knockout of Roy Jones Jr in 2004, Johnson has met with mixed results since but he did beat fellow Jones conquer Antonio Tarver in his next fight before losing a rematch to Tarver in 2005. Since that time, Johnson's resume reads like a who's who of boxing with big fights against the likes of Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud, Carl Froch, Lucien Bute, and most recently George Groves. It was after the 2012 decision loss to Groves that Johnson announced his retirement from boxing to the delight of fans who were more than happy to show their appreciation for a beloved warrior who lived up to his own words after beating Jones Jr when he said, "I'm not the best, I'm just somebody who's willing to fight the best."

Johnson flew under the radar in 2013 and most boxing fans were blissfully unaware of the fact that he fought twice in "comeback" bouts, first in April against somebody named Junior Ramos in the Dominican Republic where Johnson stopped his overmatched opponent in the second. Then in December, Johnson defeated Bobby Gunn by eight round unanimous decision in Pennsylvania. It's now evident that Johnson can no longer beat the best but he remains willing to fight them, and that is why fans still pay good money to see him fight against more or less hand picked opponents while Johnson tries to maneuver himself into one or two more big fights, most notably a rematch with 49 year old current IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard "The Alien" Hopkins - a fighter no stranger to advanced age.

With Johnson in the main event, CES Classic Entertainment and Sports put on and entertaining night of boxing in spite of the fact that it was originally supposed to be former World Welterweight Champion Ricardo Mayorga making an appearance and not Johnson. When a promotional contract squabble with Don King derailed Rhode Island casino fans of the chance to see man smoke a cigarette in the ring, Johnson, Clarendon, Jamaica, 180, was brought in to entertain fans and he did his job. Too bad the matchmaker didn't. Johnson's CES opponent was Jaime Velasquez, Pawtucket, RI, 180, 11-6-2, 6 KO's. Incredibly, Velasquez had not fought since 1999 and he last won a fight in 1998, when Johnson was a spry 29 years of age. That was during the Clinton Administration for anyone keeping score at home.

Johnson waits for referee Lupino to step in
After a battle of jabs in the first, things opened up in the second and Velazquez was fighting on even terms with the Jamaican Gentleman to the surprise of many. Johnson's class started to take over in the third and fourth, walking Velazquez down, rocking him with left hooks and educated right hands while his opponent's stamina began to betray him. Referee Joey Lupino stopped the fight at 1:59 with Velazquez helpless and unable to defend himself. Johnson improved to 55-18-2, 37 KO's. "I was a little off in my timing," Johnson told KO Digest after the fight. "He was a tough guy. It was good. My goal is to be world champion again. Hopkins is number one on my chart because he's the guy that beat me a long time ago [1997] so I'm looking to avenge that loss." 

Toka Khan rips to the body
In The CES Classic Co-Feature: 

Toka Kahn Clary TKO2 Carlos Fulgencio - Top Rank prospect Kahn Clary, Providence, RI, 127, was a house of fire, wearing out Carlos Fulgencio, 128, 19-13-1, 12 KO's, Miami, FL, in the first round with ripping left and rights to the head and body. By the second, Fulgencio couldn't take it to the body any longer and Kahn scored three knockdowns with an overwhelming attack downstairs before the referee waved the fight over at 1:10 with Fulgencio on the canvas. Kahn looked impressive and goes to 10-0, 7 KO's. The 21 year old prospect fights again soon in Vegas, and he is one to keep a very close eye on.

On The Undercard:

Thomas Falowo WDQ3 Jaison Palomeque - Coming off a tough decision loss in his last fight seven months ago to Chris Chatman, "The Souljah" showed some ring rust early before his jelly belly opponent got tired which allowed Falowo a chance to start walking Palomeque down, which he did, scoring a knockdown in the second. "I caught him on the button with a straight ring on the inside, and he went down." At the bell to end the round, Palomeque, 159, Cartagena, Columbia, 14-8-1 9 KO's, wobbled back to his corner on unsteady legs. After a delay in the corner to argue with the ring doctor, they finally let Palomeque come out for the third but he was dog tired when he was disqualified for a blatant knee to the abdomen at 1:57 of the round. Falowo goes to 11-2, 7 KO's but can't take much satisfaction in a win like that.

Falowo, 164, a hard working full time pharmacy tech from Pawtucket, RI talked to KO Digest at the CES afterparty about his strange night in the ring. "Mentally it was a little difficult getting back in the groove of things. My conditioning wasn't a problem but I felt a little different. I wasn't hurt by the knee but I was shocked and it caught me off guard."

CES Home Sweet Home
KJ Harrison-Lombardi W4 Antonio Fernandez - Brockton's wispy Fernandez, 157 lbs, 4-15-2 seemed to control most of this sloppy fight with a left jab while his more colorful opponent did his best to get inside and punch to the head and body. Only problem was it didn't look like Lombardi, Providence, RI, 161 lbs, 5-0-1 knew exactly what to do when he got inside and Fernandez was pretty elusive when he did get tagged cleanly. Fernandez looked to be in better shape and KJ was sporting a soft midsection while Fernandez had ripped six-pack abs. In the end, KJ did the better pro work. CES's own Shelly "Shelito's Way" Vincent was ringside dogging out KJ before and during the fight, there being something about him she just doesn't like. Official Scores: 40-36, 40-36, and 39-37. 

Alvin Varmall Jr TKO3 Andre Ward - Opening bout, cruiserweights. Not that Ward was pesky with jabs and right crosses but Varmall, LaPlace, LA, 2-0, 2 KO, 198,  ran through him like Mike Tyson, busted up his left eye and finished him off with a barrage of punches punctuated by a left hook in the third round to go to 2-0 , 2 KO's. Ward, Washington DC, 198, 1-2-4, 1 KO was game and he made his man work in there but he just couldn't keep Varmall off of him and he could hardly see him through that nasty left eye.

KO Digest Ringside Report by Jeffrey Freeman

Photos Courtesy of Pattee Mak   

February 15, 2014

KO Digest Spotlight on Boxing's Up & Comers - Errol Spence Jr

The Truth will set you free
As we at KO Digest continue to shine our 'Spotlight on Boxing's Up and Comers,' our powerful beam reaches a little further this time around. In the past months, our focus has been on contenders braced for eliminators and title challenges but this month, we tilt our lens on a true 'Up and Comer' in boxing. 

Errol 'The Truth' Spence Jr (11-0, 9 KO's) was born on Long Island, NY, on March 3, 1990, and later relocated with family to DeSoto, TX. The promising welterweight still resides and trains in the small suburb of Dallas that houses a little over 50,000 people. "It's real quiet, a mellow place," said Spence Jr, who seems quiet and mellow himself. Until he's in the ring. Amazingly, Spence Jr did not step into a ring of any kind until he was 15 years old.

"My Dad got me into boxing," Spence told KO Digest.

"I'd finished school for the summer and I was just laying around the house, not doing anything, and he didn't want that. So, he asked me if I wanted to join a boxing gym. I started training and I liked it. I fell in love with it, and the rest is history." Four years later, Spence Jr was the 2009 U.S. National Champion at welterweight, a feat that he would go on to repeat in the three championships that followed, beating the likes of September 2013 'Up and Comer' Glen Tapia along the way. His amateur experience, after close to 170 bouts, culminated with a trip to the London Olympics in 2012. "I had a lot of tough fights to qualify, you know, a lot of guys have been doing this since they where five years old, trying to get to the Olympics" recalled Spence Jr. "It was especially tough qualifying through the world championships [in Baku, Azerbaijan] where I beat the number one seed [Imre Backsai of Hungary] to qualify. That was a great moment for me. It was great to be an Olympian too, and represent my flag, the country that I'm from. It was my dream to be an Olympian, but it was also my dream to win the Gold." Spence Jr failed to medal in London. "Coming short of achieving that was very disappointing and I feel I could have done better, but I gave it my all, and I'm not gonna mope around about it."

Spence works the mitts with trainer Derrick James
He certainly hasn't been moping around. After the Olympic Games in London, Spence Jr returned to Texas where he, and his coach Derrick James, signed professional terms with one of the biggest names in boxing. Yes, you guessed it. "Al Haymon is real important," said Spence Jr. "He's the force behind my career right now and he's the best manager in boxing, the best manager in the world. He's got all these great fighters like Floyd Mayweather and he brings the fighters up well, pays them well - and I'm just going to let him guide my career all the way to a world championship."

You wouldn't rule it out. Spence Jr is a decorated amateur operating out of a southpaw stance with good height and reach. He understands these attributes well and employs them in a controlled but very aggressive manner. His jab is snappy - to both the head and body - and if he's just 'touching' you with it, you're probably half a second away from being walloped by a crushing left hand. His knockout percentage is impressive, especially at welterweight. I watched him live at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas the night before Floyd Mayweather bested Robert Guerrero (Spence Jr stopped trialhorse Brandon Hoskins in the first round) and he has fought a further six times since then. Fighting regularly should only expedite his development.

Spence collects another scalp
His most recent fight was less than a week ago, on Monday February 10th, when he took on Peter Oluoch (12-6-2), as part of the new 'Golden Boy Live' series that airs on Fox Sports 1 in the US, and The Fight Network in Canada. "It was a good performance," said Spence Jr. He was a tough guy, only been stopped once in twenty fights, and I brought it to him, used my jab and he couldn't keep up with the pace."

Spence Jr's pressure, and his ability, have simply overwhelmed his opponents so far and Oluoch, a tough but limited Kenyan, was no different. Spence Jr stalks his opposition like prey and the outcome of his hunts often appear inevitable. The Olympian doesn't waste many steps and he cuts the ring off while finding his range behind the jab. Once inside, he rips crunching hooks to the head and body.

We are certainly going to see more of Spence Jr in the coming months and years. "I'm probably gonna fight at the end of April, I'll be back in the gym next week. I didn't take too much punishment in the last fight but I'll rest a little bit and then get the ball back rolling," explained Spence Jr. "They have spoken to me about stepping up the competition, and as this year goes on, you're going to see the quality of my opponents increase little by little. In twelve months time, I hope to be, at least, in the line-up for a shot at a world title, or fighting for one already." Strong words from a young fighter with less than a dozen prizefights under his belt. Spence Jr makes you believe him though. He's not full of bravado or arrogance. He simply believes in himself and outlines his aspirations in a very matter-of-fact fashion. "I gotta work my way up and there's still a lot of steps to climb but I'm just gonna keep climbing up and hopefully, I will get to the top." 

Written by Terry Strawson ~ exclusively for KO Digest

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

You can contact the author by email at Strawsonboxing@gmail.com

February 14, 2014

The Last Dance at the Roseland Ballroom - Melson and Hardy win

KO Digest Ringside Report
MANHATTAN -- An historic New York City landmark hosted its final fight card on February 12th to a near sold out crowd. Holding its first Broadway Boxing show of the year at the venerable venue, promoter Lou DiBella appropriately billed the card “The Last Dance.” The Roseland Ballroom opened in its first New York location at 51st Street back in 1919, after moving from Philadelphia. Once it moved to its current location on West 52nd Street in 1958, the Manhattan landmark hosted all kinds of exciting events, especially boxing. The mid sized arena was perfect for up and coming fighters, and by design, there was not a bad seat to be found in the house. The Roseland will host its last performance in April, with Lady Gaga drawing the final curtain.

“I am sad that the Roseland is closing, and that this is the last boxing card we will ever promote there,” said DiBella. “This will not only be a celebration of New York boxing, but a celebration of a legendary hall. This boxing card will help say goodbye to Roseland in style,” the pensive promoter concluded. Indeed, the nine bout card featured plenty of action, but interestingly, no knockouts were scored. However, there was plenty of action, a few near upsets, a draw, and a little wrinkle thrown into the main event. Headlining the card, junior middleweight Boyd Melson (13-1-1, 4 KO's) squared off against Donald Ward (6-3, 3 KO's) in a scheduled eight-rounder. Originally scheduled at junior middleweight, Melson had difficulty making the weight, and the fight was turned into a middleweight bout instead. "I got sick for half a week twice - once three weeks out and once two weeks out, and it threw me off significantly," he informed KO Digest.

The Rainmaker uses his good arm
Naturally, there was concern before the bout whether Melson would be in a weakened condition. Using the first round as a feel out round, the southpaw Melson used his jab to set up the straight left hand. In the second, "The Rainmaker" kept Ward on the retreat, reducing him to a few cute defensive moves, followed by an occasional flurry. The third round saw "The Bulldog" attempt to catch Melson coming in with right hands, but Boyd landed a good right hook before the bell. At the start of the sixth round, you could see something was wrong with Melson, as he grimaced and repeatedly pointed to his right shoulder. Still, the Army Captain gutted it out, as both men traded hooks in mid ring. Almost reduced to a one armed fighter, Melson threw lead left hands in succession, while Ward responded with punches to the body and head. Sensing he was behind, "The Bulldog" gambled in the eighth, stood his ground, and traded punches with his opponent.

Melson wins the war on boxing's battleground
Both men had their moments, as Ward caught  Melson with the right hand, and Melson would retaliate with a hard left hand of his own. The two boxers punched until the sound of the bell. As the scores were announced, there was a moan from the crowd, as the first card of a 76-76 draw was read. However, it was overruled by the scores of 78-74 and 79-73 in favor of Melson, giving him the win by majority decision, and improving his record to 14-1-1, 4 KO's while Ward fell to 6-4, 3 KO's. During the in-ring post fight interview, Steve Farhood questioned Melson about his injury. "I thought I was having a stroke, and my arm felt like it weighed a thousand pounds," revealed Melson. "I could throw an up jab, but that's about it," he stated. Farhood then questioned the weight issue. "You got through it, and you did what you had to do. Is Boyd Melson now a middleweight?," asked the announcer.

Melson took a long pause before answering. "I don't know, but I won't fight as a light heavyweight," he half kidded. As Melson thanked everyone for coming out and braving the cold weather, most of the patrons headed for the nearest exit, while the die hard fight fans hung around taking pictures, doing their best to preserve the fond memories of the Ballroom.

For them, it was truly "The Last Dance."

Hardy brings the Heat to Fuentes
In the co-main event, popular female super bantamweight Heather Hardy (7-0, 2 KO's) took on Christina Fuentes from Loredo Texas, also scheduled for eight rounds. Perhaps the most exciting fight of the evening, this was a very competitive match, as Fuentes gave as much as she took the entire contest. There was no feeling out process, as Fuentes came out firing in the first round with overhand right hands and left hooks. Startled by the fast start, "The Heat" was pushed to the ropes, and took some heavy artillery. But Hardy took it well, and responded with hard hooks of her own, pushing her shorter opponent back. Fighting in the trenches, Fuentes fought evenly with her opponent, and Hardy found her back to the ropes at the end of the third and fourth rounds. Both combatants were pretty bruised by the mid rounds. What separated the two fighters was the jab. Whenever Hardy remembered to use it, the fight became a little easier, and she landed the right hand flush on several occasions. The Brooklyn female fighter also found success when she attacked Fuentes to the body. The final round was non-stop, as Fuentes would land an eye-catching punch, only for a determined Hardy to come roaring right back. At the bell, both fighters received a standing ovation. A score of 77-75 for Fuentes by Glenn Feldman was over ruled by the other two judges, who also scored the fight 77-75, but in favor of Hardy, who won by split decision. Fuentes who fell to 2-5-3, gave a good showing. "Every fight is different, she was tough," admitted Hardy. At ringside, Shelly "Shelito" Vincent, all the way from from Providence RI., complete with a dozen white roses, did her best to call Hardy out before being escorted away from ringside. "If she wants to reach me, she can do it through my promoter, she knows how to reach me, not like this, not through Facebook. She has no class," stated Hardy.

With the hard fought win, "The Heat" improved to 8-0, 2 KO's.

On The Undercard:

Last Dance at the Ballroom for DiBella
Joe Smith Jr UD6 Otis Griffin (light heavyweights) - After a feeling out opening round, Smith did his best to back his opponent up in the second round. Smith did good body work along the ropes. Griffin did his best to counter, but the better punches belonged to the fighter from Long Island. Griffin landed a good right hand in the third, only to be countered by a right hand, and left hook to the head. Griffin tried to catch Smith coming in with right hands, but not with much success. In the final round, it was a case of too little too late for Griffin, who landed the better punches. All three judges scored the fight in favor of Smith Jr, who improved to 14-1, 11 KO's with the scores of 59-55 and 60-54 (twice). The veteran from Sacramento CA. fell to 24-15-2, 10 KO's.

Travis Peterkin UD6 Michael Gbenga (light heavyweight) - Less than ten seconds into the opening round, "The Notorious" Peterkin knocked Gbenga off balance with a straight left hand. Realizing Gbenga was not hurt, Peterkin stayed composed and continued to box. In the second, the southpaw displayed hand speed with the double jab and straight left. Gbenga, who hails from Ghana, was an awkward, but very durable opponent, and he had the tendency of coming in head first. A head butt by Gbenga in the fourth created a break in the action, and Peterkin looked to regroup. However, Gbenga would lose a point for yet another head butt. In the fifth, a straight left made Gbenga stumble, and after a flurry by Peterkin, both men tumbled to the canvas. The final round was anti-climatic, and there was a lot of wrestling and holding to the finish line. All three judges favored Peterkin by the identical score of 60-53. Peterkin, hailing from Brooklyn, improved to 11-0, 5 KO's, while Gbenga now sports a record of 13-11, 13 KO's.

Pee Wee wins at the Roseland
Bryant "Pee Wee" Cruz UD6 Joshua Reyes (junior lightweights) - "Pee Wee" got off to a fast start, dropping Reyes with a right hand over the top in the opening round. He also fell in love with the right uppercut, and he had plenty of success with it in the second and third rounds. However, whenever the fighter from Port Chester N.Y. landed the right over the top, he wouldn't come back with the hook. The durable Reyes came on in the fifth round, and Cruz found himself on the ropes on several occasions. Both men had their moments in the round, but the edge went to Reyes. In the final round, "Pee Wee" used the perimeter of the ring, and kept Reyes on the outside as he fired in combination. Reyes stunned Cruz along the ropes during the final minute of the round. The final scores read as 59-54 and 58-55 (twice). Although Cruz improved to 9-0, 5 KO's, he knew he was in with a tough opponent. Reyes is now 5-2, 2 KO's.

Donte Strayhorn MD4 Jose Gomez (lightweights) - The opening round was close as both men looked for openings. The slight edge went to Strayhorn, who threw his punches straight, while Gomez preferred to wing his punches. Strayhorn touched his opponent with the right hand on several occasions in the second, and he also timed Gomez wide right hands with counter left hooks. However, Gomez did land a good right hand before the round's end. In the final round, both men landed well, as Gomez landed the left hand to the body, and the overhand right, while Strayhorn countered with the double hooks and right hand. The first score of a 38-38 draw was overruled by the remaining two judges, who both scored it 39-37 for Strayhorn, now 5-1, 1 KO while the durable Gomez is now 3-6.

Chris Galeano UD4 Travis McClaren (junior middleweights) - At the bell, the first punch was a lunging right hook by the southpaw Galeano, while McClaren looked to answer with the straight right hand. McClaren tapped his chin as if to say, "hit me again." In the second, straight left hands and right hooks kept McClaren on the ropes. In the third, McClaren took a lot of punishment along the ropes, and was sucking in air by the rounds end. In the final round, "Golden" Galeano went for the knockout, and fired hard straight left hands, but McClaren refused to go, and fought back bravely, and fired right hands off the ropes. All three judges scored the fight 40-36 in favor of Galeano.
The Bronx native improved to 2-0 while McClaren is now at 1-4, 1 KO.

Danny Gonzalez D4 Ray Velez (junior welterweights) - After an impressive staredown, the opening round proved competitive as both men traded heavy punches. In the second and third rounds, both men wisely went to the body. Gonzalez walked his opponent down in the third, only for "Sugar" Ray Velez to land a nice uppercut. Gonzalez came back with a left hook, right hand combo to end the round. The final round was non- stop action. Incredibly, after the first card of 40-36 in favor of Gonzalez was announced, the two remaining judges saw a completely different fight with identical scores of 38-38. The majority draw put an immediate halt to the celebration in the Gonzalez corner and also put a halt to his winning streak - he is now 5-0-1, 3 KO's, while Velez is now 3-4-1, 1 KO.

Ryan Martin UD4 Jose Del Valle (lightweights) - In the opening bout of the evening, both boxers showed some skills. Martin tried to walk his opponent into the left hook, and both men traded straight right hands. In the second "Blue Chip" Martin landed a nice uppercut, followed by a left hook. By the third, Martin was countering his opponent nicely. Del Valle did land a straight right hand, but Martin's left hook right cross combination drew oohs and ahhs from the crowd. In the fourth, Del Valle stood his ground and traded. The best punch of the round belonged to Martin - a wicked left hook at the bell. All three judges scored the fight 40-36, all in favor of Martin. The win improved Martin's young career to 3-0, 2 KO's while Del Valle fell to 2-4-2.

KO Digest Ringside Report by David McLeod   

February 1, 2014

KO Digest Interview: Malik Scott - "I’ll defuse the Bronze Bomber"

King Scott wants to be the Heavyweight King
Sometimes, the way the stories of athletes get painted all blur into one. While it seems that boxing provides a closer look into the way fighters truly feel than players in other sports, interviews and press conferences are still filled with the same interchangeable clichés from fight to fight. Sometimes, the theatrics leave us wondering what bad blood is real and what is fabricated to sell tickets. That’s why talking to American heavyweight Malik Scott is so refreshing. Whether it be a story from his fourteen years as a professional boxer out of Philadelphia, or an anecdote from his many interests outside the ring, including a fondness for creating his own cigars and an avid appreciation for reading, you get the feeling that Scott is not only genuine, but also genuinely interesting.

Scott  (36-1-1, 13 KOs) returns to the ring on March 15, fighting against close friend Deontay "The Bronze Bomber" Wilder. Wilder, labeled as the ‘next great American heavyweight hopeful,’ has been like a brother to Scott for several years. The two have trained together, sparred with each other, and have treated each other as family. While stepping between the ropes with someone you care about must certainly be a difficult task, Scott knows very well what will stand across the ring from him, perhaps giving him the window of opportunity to expose Wilder and catapult his own career at 33 years of age. Whether boxing as an underdog and getting robbed in the ring against Dereck Chisora or Vyacheslav Glazkov, or simply existing as an underdog amid the violence on the streets of North Philadelphia on his way home from the gym, Malik Scott’s journey to Bayamon, Puerto Rico on March 15th’s Showtime tripleheader has been long, eventful, and hard, but he tells his story with self-assured ease, and one gets the feeling that entering the fight against Deontay Wilder as an underdog, underestimated by the public, is exactly where Malik Scott wants to be.

KO Digest's Joel Sebastianelli: You were born and raised in Philadelphia, a major fight town with a boatload of boxing history. What sort of impact did your residency have on you as you started your career as a fighter?

Scott in the safe haven of the gym
Malik Scott: It had a great impact. I started off with a great trainer, Fred Jenkins, who runs the athletic rec center in North Philadelphia, called ABC gym. He brought me from the ground up as a fighter, along with Zahir Raheem, David Reid, Bryant Jennings, and the list goes on. I was fortunate enough to have him in my corner, and he was like a surrogate father to me outside of the ring. The gym was in the heart of North Philly, so there were times I would leave from the gym to walk home four miles to my house. The locations you would walk through were like hell. I was walking through the projects. I’ve been robbed, jumped, and beaten up to get home from the gym, and I went through some tough times, but they build character and strength. That started me off knowing that everything I wanted I would have to fight for. Even if I wanted to walk to the gym and back home, I would have to fight for that. I did have to fight for that. Coming up as a kid, I had to walk through a lot of drug infested areas and guys who’d make you pay with their presence for being in that area.  That's how it was coming up. As time goes on, everybody got familiar with me and the ABC gym at the corner of 26th and Jefferson.

KOD: Having been through all that, did you also view boxing as your ticket out of that environment?

MS: You could definitely say that, but I come from a good home though. My mother and my grandmother always told me the difference between right and wrong. Boxing and going to the gym everyday was my outlet. My brother has Blount disease. That means his bones grow narrow. He was bullied to the tenth power, so a lot of my fistfights before boxing were fighting battles for my little brother when people used to tease him. That’s how I got into boxing. My uncle got tired of seeing me fight outside the ring. He asked me if I wanted to go to the gym. I’ve never turned back since.

KOD: You’re a pretty interesting guy outside of the ring. I hear you’re a big fan of cigars?

Scott is the Kevailah King of cigars
MS: I’m a huge fan of cigars. I’m a cigar connoisseur. I’m in the process of making and wrapping my own cigar, Kevailah. I got the name from my son’s name—his name is Malik Scott Jr., but his nickname is Keito, which means “very tiny.” He was just 1.5 lbs. when he was born. My daughter’s name is Havilah, which comes from the Book of Genesis, the land of the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve got their gold from. So, I put the names together and call my cigar Kevailah. After the fight, I’m going down to Nicaragua to start wrapping my own cigar and testing the tobacco levels so I know exactly how I want my cigar to taste and pull. It’s a great relaxation for me. Something I have been interested in collecting for the last ten to twelve years. In the last five or six years, I started tasting them myself because, if I want to distribute a cigar to the people, I need to make sure the taste, the wrapping, and the pull are all right. My favorite current cigars now are the classic Padron and the Avo # 1. It goes with the mood I'm in. Be on the lookout for the Kevailah once it becomes available. 

KOD: I also understand that another one of your interests is reading, in particular, the works of Charles Manson?

Scott digs the Helter Skelter era
MS: I love to read. That’s how I train my mind to stay alert, the same way I train my body to stay sharp and stay in peak conditioning. I’m a huge Charles Manson fan and of the whole Helter Skelter era. A lot of insane things went on at that time, but those things were happening in Old America. I love the rights we have in this America, but the things that Charles was ranting about and talking for his cult were strong stances. Back then, people weren’t being leaders. For a man to take a stand, a lot of people called it manipulation, but he was standing up for the insane shit that he believed in. His logic was strong and I’m a man of logic. I believe 1+1 is 2 and the sky is blue, and nobody can tell me nothing different. And like Charles Manson said, I believe that when you leave the world, you should do things to let them know that you were here. Some things can be more wicked than other things. Some people will leave the world and will be known as hard working 9 to 5 people who lived right every day, and that’s perfectly fine, but I want a bit more wicked of a story when I’m dead and gone. I want people to say “that dude was a fighter. That dude had a mind of his own, he spoke exactly how he felt, he loved to read, and was a great pugilist who had class in and out of the ring.” Those are considered cool, wicked things, and those are the things I’m into. Manson had a lot of that in him. If you read his books and a lot of the things he was telling people in his cult—the women and some of the guys were coming from broken homes. He told them that even though you’re from a broken home, you don’t have to be a broken person. There’s some genius in being psychotic. Even though he manipulated people to believe in him, he was giving them a sense of purpose. I dig a lot of his insane logic.
A lot of things he said were wrong, but the man made a lot of sense in half the things he said.

KOD: You have a big fight coming up on March 15th against Wilder. Deontay is a former Olympian and has been lauded as the next great American heavyweight hope. Clearly, this is a big fight for you, one of the most important you’ve had in your career. How did this fight come about, and how confident are you heading into the matchup?

MS: I’m extremely confident going into the fight. There’s no secret that me and Deontay have one hell of a brotherhood outside the ring. Come March 15th, that relationship is going to be put on the side. I’m not coming to test Deontay. I’m coming to beat Deontay. The man’s record speaks for itself. He’s done everything that’s been asked of him, even with little experience in the amateurs. He’s an athlete with raw power, and I think these are the types of fights that the heavyweight division needs. If me and Deontay have to put our brotherhood on the side to make this great fight happen, I’m getting mine and he’s getting mine. We’re looking forward to it, and I’m coming to win.

KOD: Deontay Wilder, aside from his accolades, is more than your average opponent. The two of you have been friends for quite some time. Tell us about the details of that friendship, and how does fighting a friend change your approach?

Friends in the gym but rivals in the ring
MS: It’s not as difficult as people are making it. Me and Deontay both want to do two things: we both want to be heavyweight champion of the world, and we both want to provide for our families. When I think about those two things and the history that I’m chasing, it’s easy for me to put this aside and be brothers afterwards. But right now, we get ready to go to war. You’d be surprised just how close we got in our relationship outside the ring. He’s held my kids, I’ve held his kids. I’ve spent time with him in his hometown and he has in mine, we’ve gotten tattoos together, we go to the gun range together, we’ve gone to camps together, and we’re on the phone with each other talking about life in general. I think all of that though will make this a hell of a fight inside the ring.

KOD: Both you and Wilder have sparred with each other, as well as together in the same camp with Tomasz Adamek. Does that familiarity with him as a fighter help you train and be prepared for fighting him for real, having been in the ring with him?

MS: I don’t really know. When I boxed him, he was getting ready for a fight, and I wasn’t in the best of conditions. He’s gotten better and I’m ten times better than I was at that time. I don’t think we can gauge our fight on our sparring sessions or the times we were in the same camp. We want to see if what we do is enough to beat the other man. That’s why this is going to be a great fight, because we just don’t know. I think that since we know each other, we’ll make a better fight than two guys who don’t know each other at all. It’s a great matchup. It’s the athletic, pure puncher against an athletic, and most skillful boxer in the heavyweight division—me. It’s a classic fight and we’ll be brothers afterwards.

Wilder and Scott
KOD: Objectively, taking out your status as his friend and his opponent—what do you think of Wilder by the eye test? Many critics say he's still very untested. Do you find him to be the great American heavyweight hope that he has been hyped up to be?

MS: Absolutely. I think 30-0 with 30 knockouts is nothing to play with. That’s going to make me more alert and sharp because I know what I’m dealing with. He’s a young lion, a beast, and I believe he’s more athletic, and a better boxer, than people give him credit for. He does a lot of freakish things in the ring. I want to be on my A game to get this job done, because he’s everything I believe he is. If I’m not on top of my game, I know what will happen, I know what I'm in there with.

KOD: In order for you to beat Deontay Wilder, what needs to happen in the fight?

MS: I’m working on a lot of things, but what I have to do for sure is to stay myself. There’s a lot of different things that I’m going to add onto this fight that people will be surprised about, but I’m going to be me and use my natural ability and stand my ground. I’m not going to be running. Deontay is going to have to earn it, but he’s not going to have to look for it. He’s not going to be a big cat chasing a little mouse around. I’m a man, he’s a man, we’re heavyweights, and we’re going to war.

KOD: There’s an interesting parallel here with the way you were brought up through the ranks. Your reputation as a result, is quite similar to that of Deontay Wilder. Do you see that long climb as being ultimately beneficial to fighters? What do you think of the criticism of both of you for moving so slowly up that ladder?

MS: Our journeys have been parallel to each other the whole time because we're almost the A side of people's wants and the B side of what people don't want. That’s why, to me, this is the best matchup in the heavyweight division that I’ve seen in a very long time. You’ve got puncher vs boxer. One guy has been criticized for knocking everybody out, and the one guy got criticized for not knocking too many people out.

KOD: The Dereck Chisora bout last year in Wembley was a controversial one and cost you your first official loss. 
You were counted out of the fight at "9" by the referee while standing on your feet. 
Take us through your emotions leading up to the fight and then the aftermath.

Tough break for Scott in UK against Chisora
MS: Leading up to the fight, I felt great. I had a good training camp. We went over there to win the fight. I was winning the fight, and as a heavyweight, you’re going to get hit and knocked down. Fighters go through way too much in training camp and to get our turn for a ref to get to a 9 count and call it off when I’m very coherent. It was a very unfortunate thing. I don’t want to take credit away from Dereck Chisora, because he fought a great fight. I have seen so many worse predicaments when fighters have been knocked down and their equilibrium is off, and they got up at 9. Look at Diego Corrales when he fought Jose Luis Castillo. He got up at nine and a half and fought a war, and won. Fighters deserve to go out on their shields. If I’m going to lose, give Chisora the chance to finish me, in addition to giving me the chance to redeem myself. Could he finish me? We won’t know because we had a very premature decision from a referee known for doing that type of thing. That shit happens in boxing. A lot of people were on me because they didn’t think I complained enough. I guess they wanted me to choke the referee like Zab Judah or bite somebody’s ear off like Mike Tyson. But that’s not my style or my character. Milk was spilled, but there are no babies over here to cry about it. I took that lickin and kept on tickin, it was a plus.

KOD: If the opportunity for a rematch with Chisora arose, would you jump at the chance to fight him again?

MS: If it was presented to me that he wanted to fight me again, yes. I would sign that contract faster than Superman changes clothes! I actually like what Chisora is doing. I don’t even like Kevin Johnson outside the ring, we don’t get along or have good things to say about each other, but I believe he has has a chance to beat Chisora. You’ve got to give Chisora credit, because he works hard and gets the job done, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnson beat him. 

KOD: Prior to the Chisora fight, your unblemished record was tainted by a controversial draw with Vychaselav Glazkov. How did you feel about the scoring of that fight? Did you feel you did enough to win it?

Scott understands the politics of boxing
MS: I beat Glazkov seven rounds to three, at least. I won that fight. We knew it was his promoter’s card, the ring was two inches big, and they tried to pull all the stops out on me, but it didn’t work because I have the skills to pay the bills. He couldn’t keep up with my pace or my looks. That was another mishap that happened, but that’s life and boxing. I shouted about that a little bit, but that was it. I wish Glazkov luck, but he didn’t look too good in his last fight. He has Adamek next and I hope he wins, but he has to pick up the pace. If there’s a nice financial thing going on behind it or a title, I would like a rematch.

KOD: You always hear people say “that stuff happens in boxing,” but you’ve been inside the ring and behind the scenes and I haven’t. When we see these bad decisions, is it simply ineptitude of judges, or is there a predetermined outcome in fights?

MS: It depend on the fight. For a judge to think Glazkov beat me, it says a lot about promoters, judges, and everything in the sport. It’s not a good look, and there have been a lot of decisions like that lately. I’ve never been a judge, but right is right and wrong is wrong, and fights like and me and Glazkov should be called for what they are. I won seven rounds and he won three—maybe. It just goes to show that things are going on under the table that we don’t know about. Unfortunate things happen in life, and that carries into the boxing world, so it happens and I take it on the chin. Boxing is crazy but I'm happy to be in it.

KOD: Great American fighters in the heavyweight division are scarce these days. 
What are obstacles facing the Americans in higher weight classes?

MS: I don’t believe in that, actually. The heavyweight division is back in action. I think it’s actually better than it was ten years ago. There was a time when there were just American heavyweights. Now, there are American and European heavyweights. The division itself is very talented, but it lacks great matchups like Malik Scott vs Deontay Wilder. It lacks great fights. Bryant Jennings and Artur Szpilka fought a great fight, so shout out to them. Mike Perez and Magomed had a great fight. These are the tough fights that need to be made for heavyweight to get the credit it deserves, because if not, it’s just a group of talented fighters sitting around, fighting meaningless fights and people will criticize the division. The top fights need to be made. I will fight my Dad himself if that means the heavyweight division would be put back on the map, I don’t give a fuck. I put my brothership with Wilder on the side because I am here to be heavyweight champion and revive the heavyweight division as a pugilist specialist myself.

KOD: With Vitali Klitschko retiring and World Champion Wladimir Klitschko soon on his way out as he continues to age, do you think there will be more parity and quality at heavyweight once the dominant brothers depart?

The title is the target

MS: Now you have one of the vacant titles being fought in the United States between Arreola and Stiverne. It definitely opens up the division. To me, the winner of that is lined up to fight the winner of Wilder and Scott. Even though Stiverne is from Haiti and Arreola is from Mexico, the title is being fought for here in America, and that creates a lot more opportunities for Americans to fight for these titles. This becomes very interesting. You’ll see more life in the heavyweight division just because those titles will be here in America, opening doors for fighters that live in America who want a shot.

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