October 21, 2014

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science — Women's Boxing Monthly Vol 17

A Who's Who of Women's Boxing
By Mark A. Jones  — In September, a milestone in women’s boxing was established when the first-ever WBC Female Boxing Convention was held in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. The convention was formed with the dual purpose of paying tribute to late WBC President, Jose Sulaiman and to establish the worldwide legitimacy of women’s boxing. In attendance there was the President of the WBA (Gilberto Mendoza), the IBF (Daryl Peoples), and the WBC (Mauricio Sulaiman). Elite promoters Oscar De La Hoya and Don King were in attendance.

King acknowledged the efforts of the late Jose Sulaiman in raising the recognition level of women’s boxing and his own placement of Christy Martin (Salters) on his PPV television cards beginning in 1992. De La Hoya stated on the WBC website, "I truly feel that the majority of the women fight better than the men, and give us more action, so it's very important for me to be here, because I am here to support Women's Boxing." A tribute to Giselle “Magic” Salandy (16-0, 6 KOs) was conducted by recently deposed WBC super-featherweight champion, Alicia Ashley and Trinidad and Tobago boxing promoter Boxu Potts. Salandy turned professional just one month after her thirteenth birthday. She won her first minor title at the age of fifteen and the vacant WBC & WBA female light-middleweight titles at the age of 19. In December 2008, she was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident at the age of 21. The event was attended by an impressive list of past and present WBC champions from around the globe including Mia St. John (USA), Klara Svensson (Sweden), Jelena Mrdjenovich (Canada), and Carolina Raquel Duer (Argentina).

Police Athletic League
A who’s who of Mexican women’s boxing superstars appeared at the convention including Laura Serrano, Ana Maria Torres, Jackie Nava, Ibeth Zamora-Silva, Zulina Munoz, Mariana Juarez and many others.  

On September 28 through October 5, the 40th annual National PAL Championships were held in Oxnard, California. Melissa Parker (Army) who normally campaigns at #125 dropped to #119 for this tournament and upended favorite Christina Cruz (NYC) in the semifinals. Parker defeated Amanda Pavone (Burlington, MA.) in the 125 pound open finals. Franchon Crews (Baltimore) continued her march to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games by stopping Danielle Mitchell (North Hollywood) in the second round of the open finals in the 165 pound division.

Camacho wins for USA
Winners as follows:

#106 Giovanna Camacho (ARMY)
#112 Marlen Esparza (Houston)
#119 Melissa Parker (ARMY)
#125 Rianna Rios (ARMY)
#132 Alycia Baumgardner (Fremont, OH.)
#141 Mikayla Mayer (Los Angeles)
#165 Franchon Crews (Baltimore)

On September 20 in Osaka, Japan, Kumiko Seeser Ikehara, 105, won the vacant WBO World female minimumweight title with a ten-round split-decision victory over former WIBA minimumweight champion, Gretchen Abaniel, 102, who traveled from Puerto Princesa City, Philippines, to battle for the title. Ikehara, 29, of Kyoto, Japan, was supported by the Philippines judge 98-92 and the judge from Taiwan 97-93. The lone Japanese judge oddly favored Abaniel 96-94. Both fighters let the leather fly early with Ikehara, slightly bigger and more aggressive, landed better than she received throughout the ten-round bout. Ikehara, with just 27 months of professional experience, owned most of the measurable skills in this fight, but the 28-year-old Abaniel’s eight years of experience allowed her to stay competitive. In the end, Ikehara, in her first title fight, won a major belt and is now a significant player in the up-and-coming women’s boxing power that is Japan.

Yuko Kuroki
KO Digest’s Top 5 at minimumweight (105 lbs.):

1- Anabel Ortiz (Mexico) (WBA)
2- Victoria Argueta (Mexico) (IBF)
3- Yuko Kuroki (Japan) (WBC)
4- Etsuko Tada (Japan)
5- Oezlem Sahin (Germany)

Quick Hits for September/October:

Zulina Munoz, 116 ½, the WBC World female super-flyweight champion, in a non-title fight, tested the waters at bantamweight winning a ten-round unanimous decision over Karina Hernandez, 116 ½. With the win, Munoz improves to (43-1-2, 27 KOs) whereas Hernandez suffers her first loss and now stands at (5-1-3). WBC World female lightweight champion, Delfine Persoon (30-1, 13 KOs), in a non-title fight, won an eight-round unanimous decision over Judy Waguthii (13-7-3, 4 KOs) winning every round in the process. For Persoon, who faces a stiff challenge from Diana Prazak (13-2, 9 KOs) in November, this fight was merely a tune-up. 45-year-old Nao Ikeyama, 101 ¾, defended her WBO female atomweight title (102 lbs.) for the first time with a ten-round unanimous decision over Masae Akitaya, 101 ½. With the win, Ikeyama moves to (15-3-1, 4 KOs) knocking down Akitaya (9-5-2) in the second round. Nikki Adler, 163 ¾, who maintains the WBC, WBU, and WIBA titles at super-middleweight, in a non-title match, knocked out Rita Kenessey (KO-4) who scaled 165 ¼ for the bout. Adler improves to (13-0, 8 KOs), and Kenessey witnesses her record drop to (4-10). Flyweight prospect Noemi Bosques, 115, won an easy six-round decision (59-55/59-55/58-56) over Ivana Coleman, 118 ½. The victory is impressive in that Coleman (1-6) normally fights in the super-bantamweight division. Bosques improves to (7-1-2, 2 KOs).

Featured Fights for October/November:

On October 25 in Gomez Palacio, Mexico, in a highly anticipated rematch, two-time bantamweight champion, Yazmin Rivas (30-8, 9 KOs) of Torreon, Mexico, will defend her WBC World female bantamweight title against hard-charging Australian, Susie Ramadan (23-1, 8 KOs). Rivas, earlier in her career held the IBF World female bantamweight title for two years defending the strap successfully five times. This fight is a rematch of an October 2011 battle in Mexico that witnessed Rivas win the vacant IBF bantamweight title with a controversial ten-round split-decision victory. The two fighters differ stylistically; Ramadan, 35, is an ultra-aggressive banger with underrated movement and boxing skills whereas Rivas, 26, is entering the prime stage of her career and has developed into and an excellent counter-puncher especially with the left-hook. The bout is likely to be decided on the cards. Rivas has yet to stop an A-level opponent over 120 pounds.

On November 1 in Fukuoka, Japan, southpaw Yuko Kuroki (11-4-1, 6 KOs) in front of a hometown crowd, will defend her WBC World female minimumweight title for the first time against the former IBF World female minimumweight champion, Katia Gutierrez (19-4, 4 KOs) of Los Mochis, Mexico. Kuroki, 23, won the title in May defeating Mari Ando (11-7) by a close ten-round unanimous decision. She will be hard pressed to retain the title in her hometown as her opponent, Gutierrez, 25, has faced superior competition and successfully defended the IBF minimumweight title four times before moving up in weight.

Can Persoon withstand the firepower of Prazak?
On November 11 in Zwevezele, Belguim, two of the best punchers in women’s boxing will battle when Delfine Persoon (30-1, 13 KOs) of Roeselare, Belguim, defends her WBC lightweight title against nuclear-fisted Diana Prazak (13-2, 9 KOs) of Los Angeles, California, by way of Melbourne, Australia. Prazak is the current WBC super-featherweight champion; her title is not on the line in this contest. Normally, when boxers change trainers, the new hire can only tweak certain aspects of a fighter’s game and not complete, or even embark on an extensive makeover. When the 35-year-old Prazak began working with women’s boxing legend Lucia Rijker, she was a one-dimensional banger with superior power in her right hand. Since, she has developed lateral movement, defense, and has greatly improved her lead (left) hand. Her body attack and left hook, also the dominate punch of her trainer (Rijker) during her boxing career; setup the knockout of Frida Wallberg (KO-8) in June 2012. Only in a fighter that places absolute trust in a trainer, do you witness such a dramatic makeover.

Prazak is a notoriously slow starter relying on endurance and late-round punching power to overwhelm opponents; the latter trait, Prazak’s late-round punching power, is matched by very few in women’s boxing. The 29-year-old Persoon is in the prime stage of her career, adding a win over Prazak will cement her place in the upper echelon of the current pound-for-pound best in women’s boxing. Persoon is greater than the sum of her parts. Her footwork is poor; she consistently squares her stance when combination punching and her defense is leaky at best resulting in her absorbing flush punches. That said, as she proved in her April WBC title-winning over performance over an elite puncher in Erica Anabella Farias (UD-10), her chin is made of granite. Persoon is a forward-moving volume puncher, mostly to the head, with a good right hand and superior ring generalship.

Persoon is expected to prevail
The styles of the two fighters make for an excellent match-up. Prazak, the decided underdog in this fight, and will try to sit on the inside and wear down Persoon, who needs room to punch and has virtually no experience facing a respectable infighter. Persoon will come forward early and often in an attempt to out volume Prazak and bully her around the ring with her superior size. If the fight goes to the judges’ cards, Persoon had a decided advantage due to the venue location (Belguim); Prazak will try to end things in the later rounds rendering the scorecards moot. 

Prediction: Persoon UD-10

On November 15 in Cancun, Mexico, Erica Anabella Farias (20-1, 10 KOs) of Virreyes, Buenos Aires, Argentina, bids adieu to the lightweight division and will challenge WBC World female light-welterweight champion, Alejandra Marina Oliveras (31-2-2, 16 KOs) for her title in a bout slated for ten rounds. Oliveras, 36, a genuine four-division champion, is nicknamed “Locomotora” which is appropriately applied as it accurately describes her one-punch knockout power. Oliveras owns several impressive victories at the lighter weights, but has been less impressive over 130 pounds. At only 5’ 1” Oliveras is seriously outsized against Farias, 30, who is a perfectly suited for the light-welterweight division. Farias, who defended her WBC lightweight title successfully eleven times before losing it to Delfine Persoon, also possess excellent power, especially in her right hand and can box from range when required. She is the most multi-talented fighter in this match-up and will strap on her first world title belt at light-welterweight.

Quick Hits for October/November:

Southpaw Zita Zatyko (15-1-1, 11 KOs) will enter the ring for the first time since losing to Christina Hammer nearly 17 months ago when she battles Szilvia Szabados (5-0, 2 KOs) for the vacant WBF female super-middleweight title. Szabados has yet to fight past six rounds, and Zatyko typically dominates suspect competition. The fight will define Szabados as a pretender or a contender. Yesica Patricia Marcos (24-0-2, 8 KOs) will defend her WBA World female super-bantamweight title against Estrella Valverde (10-4-2, 1 KO). Valverde is solid, but unspectacular and falls short against elite competition. Marcos, whose January 2013 fight with Marcela Eliana Acuna drew more than 40,000 needs to step up the competition. The ever-popular Shelly Vincent (12-0, 1 KO) will battle Jackie Trivilino (9-8-3, 1 KO) for the vacant UBF female super-bantamweight title over ten rounds. Vincent is versatile having the ability to fight at close-quarters or on the outside. Trivilino is better than her record would indicate having been on the short end of several close decisions. Eva Voraberger (18-3, 9 KOs) will defend her WIBF and WBF super flyweight titles against Renata Domsodi (12-5, 5 KOs) in Voraberger’s hometown of Vienna, Austria. Voraberger is immensely popular, but suspect as a champion having defeated only one fighter with a winning record. A win over Domsodi will not corroborate her legitimacy as a champion; only fighting the elite of the super-flyweight division will solidify her standing. Mikaela Lauren (22-3, 8 KOs) will fight for the vacant WBC World female light-middleweight title against Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes (10-2-2, 1 KO) in Lauren’s home country of Sweden. Lauren could become a rock star in Europe with the title. Lopes owns the boxing ability to spoil those plans.

KO Digest’s Dynamite Dozen Top 12 Pound For Pound:

Month after month, Braekhus is the best in the business
1- Cecilia Braekhus 26-0, 7 KOs (Norway)
2- Marcela Eilana Acuna 42-6-1, 18 KOs (Argentina)
3- Anne Sophie Mathis 27-3, 23 KOs (France)
4- Yesica Yoland Bopp 27-1, 12 KOs (Argentina)
5- Delfine Persoon 30-1, 13 KOs (Belgium)
6- Diana Prazak 13-2, 9 KOs (Australia/USA)
7- Jackie Nava 30-4-3, 13 KOs (Mexico)
8- Erica Anabella Farias 20-1, 10 KOs (Argentina)
9- Jelena Mrdjenovich 33-9-1, 17 KOs (Canada)
10- Christina Hammer 17-0, 8 KOs (Germany)
11- Naoko Fujioka 12-0, 6 KOs (Japan)
12- Ibeth Zamora-Silva 20-5, 8 KOs (Mexico)

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

October 10, 2014

Why Fame Matters — It's not the International Boxing Hall of Feints

Micky Ward & Marlon Starling know it's boxing not baseball 
By Jeffrey Freeman — In these constantly changing eras of boxing where an already unquantifiable measurement of greatness must be taken (by IBHOF voters) based off subjective judging and myriad other hard to gauge criteria, one thing I'd place consistent value on is FAME, you know, like what they named that peaceful place in Canastota, NY the Hall of...

Getting famous through the profession of pugilism (becoming a household name or very well known outside boxing's close-knit nerd circles) is a VERY HARD thing to do. It's an accomplishment in and of itself (making fans, including the general public, connect with you, care about you, engage in your career, and remember you —  these are elements of this and can be achieved in many different ways but not by magic or through osmosis) and it's one thing I'll not ignore if someday I'm privileged enough to be an IBHOF voter as a BWAA member, but that's for another day.

"Boom Boom" & Carmen Basilio in boxing heaven 
Today, I'm writing out my own political litmus test for all to see, and making my own recommendations to those who can vote. It's the least I can do while simultaneously being the best I can do. In March of 2012 I wrote a piece that was published on the pages of Beyond the Badge newspaper entitled "Does Arturo Gatti Belong in the International Boxing Hall of Fame?" Distributing it during the 2012 IBHOF Induction Weekend to fans and media alike, it no doubt influenced a few votes in favor of Gatti's ultimate first ballot induction. It's the least I could do for Thunder's legacy, his beautiful daughter Sofia, and his fine young son Arturo Junior.

Yes of course fellow fight fans, "greatness" matters in the sense of having a talented skillset, world title defenses, and "quality" wins over other great fighters but this is all still highly subjective material. These young kids today call it a good "resume." Call me old fashioned, I prefer a good hit "record" — but why dabble in differences? Fame is transcendent (it's valuable) and achieving a lasting form of it is worth more than all the ABC title belts you could list in bullet points on a promotionally padded resume. Boxing is not baseball.

Free Advice by Jeffrey Freeman

To the International Boxing Hall of Fame and its Voters: For your consideration and with all due respect, KO Digest recommends casting your votes for Julian Jackson, Ray Mancini, Vinny Pazienza, Riddick Bowe, and Naseem Hamed in the MODERN category and in the OLD-TIMERS category: Joey Archer, Tony DeMarco, and Eddie Booker.

October 1, 2014

KO Digest Interview: Brandon Berry - “I'll never forget where I come from”

The Pride of Somerset County, Maine, USA
MAINE — Brandon Berry is a small town boxer with big time dreams.

Fighting out of West Forks, Maine (POP. 57) the undefeated 27-year-old light welterweight prospect (7-0, 5 KO's) known as "The Cannon" is on the frontlines of a battle to bring boxing back to prominence in a New England state where the sweet science recently looked down for the count—with dwindling interest and a defunct boxing commission. That all changed in late 2012 with the reformation of the Combat Sports Authority of Maine. For Berry, a young amateur looking to turn professional close to home, the timing was ideal. In May of 2013, Berry made his pro debut in Skowhegan, winning Maine's first legally sanctioned boxing match since 2005.

Best known for the 1990's exploits of Lewiston's Joey Gamache as well as a once-thriving fight scene in the seacoast city of Portland at the world-renowned Expo, Maine's boxing culture fell on hard times in the past two decades. The sport's presence at the Portland Expo retreated, boxing was gradually being replaced by cage fighting, and it's been nearly fifteen years since Gamache was almost killed in the ring at Madison Square Garden in New York by the late Arturo Gatti, suffering a thunderous, career-ending knockout at the Hall of Fame hands of a controversially larger man.

On boxing's battlefield, "Team Berry" is strategically maneuvering their prized artillery piece into position for the delivery of maximum economic impact. But there's no need to hide the civilians because Berry is aiming straight and true—for them. "They're the real story, not me," he claims from behind the counter of Berry's General Store where he works and lives and trains.  

With a combustible corner behind him set to lite their loyal fighter's fuse, "The Cannon" is primed for a fightfight.  

KO Digest: How did you first get into boxing? 
Where did you get your start in the ring?

Boxing brothers Brandon and Gordon Berry
Brandon Berry: My brother Gordon was an amateur and he got me into it. Our Dad sat us down in 1994 and we watched George Foreman fight Michael Moorer.  I was too young to have an opinion, I just had fun watching. My Dad kept saying, "you wait, you wait," and Foreman landed that right hand. That was the first fight I saw. I watched a bunch of Rocky movies and pounded on an old military duffel bag that we stuffed with clothes in a shed out back. I started boxing in Lewiston with the Gamache family down at the Gamache gym. About six years ago, I was getting ready for the Golden Gloves, working out at Skeet Wyman's Gym because it was close to Bangor where I lived for a job, I wasn't fighting under Skeet at the time but I was using his gym. After I lost in the semi-finals, that next week I started training full-time under Skeet.

KOD: Who is your favorite fighter of all-time and why? 
Which current fighter do you most model yourself after and aspire to be like?

BB: Arturo Gatti because I love what he fought for. I believe he would have done what he did in the boxing world whether there was money on the table or not. He fought with his heart and never gave up on himself, he fought hard even if he knew he was going to lose. I love the character and determination he had. One guy I try to be like in the gym is Miguel Cotto. I really like his style, his defense, and how calm he stays in the ring.  I've really tried to be more relaxed in the ring and I watch a lot of his fights.

KOD: What do you do when you're not training or boxing? 

The way life should be
BB: I've worked full-time at my family's [Berry] General Store in West Forks since I was a little kid and I deliver newspapers on Sunday mornings for the Maine Telegram. I do that to make the gas money I need to travel to Wyman's Gym in Stockton Springs, Maine, which is a one-hundred and thirty mile drive each way. Especially lately, in the last year, it seems like every other person who comes in the store wants to talk about boxing, and congratulate me, and ask me what's going on next. People know me as the fighter now. They're standing behind me and counting on me. Financially, they're sacrificing to support me. I'm so proud to represent the great state of Maine.

KOD:  Talk about your corner and the building of a support system.

BB: Ken "Skeet" Wyman is my head coach and always will be. Greg Stearns is my assistant coach. They are lifelong friends and used to box together in the amateurs. Both of them have been around the gym and with me all along. I feel very comfortable with them. They know what to do and when to do it. Mel Peabody, out of Lawrence, Massachusetts, is my cutman, he's been in the game for over forty years. My support system has been second to none. Coming from a small town, I have used all the disadvantages that most people like to hide under, to my advantage. I've had the opportunity to use this area to get behind me one hundred percent. There is no feeling like it. I don't know if there is anything in the boxing world that could make me feel any better than that. Even if something crazy happened like if we were on the stage of the world title level, this feeling of having a small community behind me is what makes me feel like a winner.

KOD: Maine is big and remote. What challenges are there locationally speaking and how do you overcome this?

Berry in the basement of the Lowell Memorial Auditorium
BB: The cost of traveling to the gym is tough. It costs me about $150 a week to travel to the gym and that's only three days. Athletes can't get to the top on three days a week so I had to build a boxing gym next door. I have a ring which I bought from a gym in Massachusetts that used to belong to Micky Ward. I have a full boxing gym so I can train here on the off-days. My brother works me real hard and I want to make him proud. Realistically, there really aren't any challenges because this is what I grew up with. It would be for somebody not used to this lifestyle. Whenever we needed anything in life, we had to drive to get it. I'm used to travel.

KOD: You sometimes walk to the ring to the sounds of "Small Town" by John Cougar Mellencamp. What does that song and its message mean to you as a young boxer born and raised in rural Maine? 

BB: It gets me going walking to the ring, I really love the song. I came out to that in my pro debut and it's kinda stuck with me. It matches my story. I'm from a small town, as small as it gets. West Forks has made me who I am. The song matches everything that I stand for. I'll never move away. I'll never forget where I come from.

Berry wins under boxing's bright lights in Portland
KOD: How do you balance that "small town" mentality with every boxer's desire to make the big time and become a world champion? 

BB: I'm a very realistic person. I'm working on being the best I can be. I have high expectations for myself. Being from a small town is an advantage for me. I see everyone around here struggling with the economy and they're thriving over something good happening in this community and right now, that seems to be me. These people push me to try harder for them. And all these young kids, I want to show them they can do whatever they want to do in life, and that the only person sitting in the way is you. I don't want to let my community down.

KOD: You have boxed at some very impressive venues. Boston Garden, Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Portland EXPO and coming up, Lewiston where Ali beat Liston. Does all that history intimidate you or inspire you? 

Berry's name in lights at the Boston Garden
BB: It inspires me. I never thought I would fight at the Boston Garden. I'd been there many times over the years for Celtics games and concerts and I always thought it must be unreal to perform at what you do in a building like this. I kept looking up at the jumbotron and seeing myself on that screen and my name, Berry vs Perez, going around the building. I kept thinking, I don't know if this will ever happen again but I'm going to make the most of this tonight. That was a great feeling. To go out and have a good performance and beat a very well known New England amateur, I don't know if I'll ever fight there again because it isn't a huge venue for boxing. The Expo was just as important. The history in the building, the way the fans come alive. I could literally feel the energy from the crowd. I really could not believe how loud they were me. I could not believe what it did to me. I can't describe how great that felt. Portland Boxing Club President Bobby Russo is an important piece of the puzzle. He told me I'll always fight on the Expo shows, I have nothing but respect for him.

KOD: As an amateur and a pro, you struggled at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire. Can you describe your experiences as a boxer in that building and what it meant for you to score a clean KO-1 win there last month at the 13th Annual Fight To Educate card?  

BB: As an amateur I had one of my worst performances there. No excuses though because I fought one of my best opponents in Tevin Aleau. He was very smooth in the ring and he made me look pretty bad in there. Fighting at the Verizon was awesome but I left pretty upset because I didn't look good.  Then coming back the next year as a pro, fighting Jesus Cintron, I definitely went in overconfident and didn't think it would be any issue to go right through him. I overlooked him and will be the first to admit it. Getting out of there with a disqualification win, I'm glad I got the win, but I was not happy with my performance. I was honored to get invited back the third year because I didn't put on an impressive show in the two previous years. Going in there and taking care of business quick was very satisfying.  I felt good and I was going to perform well no matter who my opponent was.

KOD: Talk about your role in the resurgence of the Sweet Science in the state of Maine. 

Successful Pro Debut
BB: It feels good to be such a big part of it. I don't even remember when boxing was a huge deal in Maine but from what everyone tells me, there used to be weekly fights and Portland was the fighting capital city of the country.  To be a part of bringing that back feels great because the old-time boxing fans must be proud that somebody grabbed the bull by the horns to get the commission formed and get pro boxing legal again in Maine.  Now so many other guys are getting to fight in Maine in their hometowns, in their home state. If I never fought again, I could at least say I was a big reason why guys like Russell Lamour and Jason Quirk got to fight in Portland. I'm happy these guys are getting to experience what I experienced making my pro debut in Skowhegan. I think every fighter should get to fight in front of their hometown fans. I feel very lucky.

KOD: How do you want to be remembered by fans when your career is over? 

BB: As a very honest, hard working young man that trained and fought his heart out and went as far as he could with what he had. As somebody who respected the sport of boxing and what it's supposed to be about. I'd love to be known as a fighter like Gatti.

Boxing history continues in Maine
KOD: Respond to observers and critics who say you're being moved too slowly, too safely. Do you want to step up in competition?

BB: I fight who my coach tells me to fight. The people who say that, I respect their opinions but we have a plan and so far, it's working. I understand they're in a rush to see me in there with some better fighters. Knowing this question would come up, just for the hell of it, I checked some boxing records. I looked at ten world champions and their first ten fights. I looked at Arturo Gatti, Micky Ward, Floyd Mayweather, Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Joey Gamache, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, and Zab Judah. The best out of all them was Cotto, who fought five guys in his first ten fights who had winning records. So I don't think I'm out of the ordinary or that I'm being protected any more than any other fighter has over the years. I think everything is going perfect and this next fight, I'm fighting Eric Palmer, a guy with a winning record, he's got more experience. I think it's an appropriate step in the right direction. From here on out, you'll see tougher fights. I never ducked anyone, I never dodged anyone, and I don't plan to.

KOD: Is Brandon Berry a local attraction, an up and coming contender, or a future world champion? What is your ultimate goal in boxing, and how far can you go?  

I definitely think I have what it takes to be a contender. Right now, a local attraction and that means the world to me. As long as I'm keeping my community happy, that's all I care about. I want to see my name in the big lights someday. You never know where I might end up if the right fights come along. I don't know if I will ever fight for a world title or be a world champion but if I'm up against somebody someday for a world title, I'll deserve to be there and I'll show everybody that at least I belonged. Whatever happens happens, but it won't be some mistake. It will be because I earned it and I belong there.

Gatti destroyed Gamache in two rounds 
KOD: The brutal result of  the 2000 Gatti vs Gamache fight must weigh heavily on your mind. Your favorite fighter seriously hurt your homeboy.

BB: I was rooting for Joey Gamache, my family was rooting for Joey—the whole State was. It was very hard for me to watch. I was pretty young. My brother Gordon was out there with Stevie Gamache, Joey's son, live in New York when it happened. Gordon saw him at the hospital and Joey said to him with a comforting smile on his face, "Now you're getting to see the other side of the sport." That will always stick with me forever.    

KOD: One more question Brandon. Everybody still wants to see Floyd Mayweather fight Manny Pacquiao. Will the biggest fight in boxing ever happen and if so, who do you believe will win it and why? 

BB: How can they afford not to fight? For a while, I didn't think it was going to ever happen but now I believe that next year we'll finally end up seeing it. I doubt that Mayweather has any fear of fighting any man in his division. I think he beats up Pacquiao right now just like he would have a few years ago. We have to be realistic here. Floyd would adapt to whatever Pacquiao does, even now in the later years, and win decisively. The stuff that happens in boxing behind the scenes is unbelievable. I'd rather fight the best and lose to them than not fight them. I have no fear of losing. That's the mentality you must have as a fighter.

Palmer pukes where Liston dived
UPDATE (10/12/2014):

Berry won the Northeast regional junior welterweight title on Oct 11 in Lewiston, scoring a six round unanimous decision over Eric Palmer to improve his record to 8-0 with 5 KO's. Beaten so badly to the body, Palmer (4-4) vomited uncontrollably into a J├Ągermeister bucket in his corner after the second round and again after the final bell. It was utterly revolting.

KO Digest Interview conducted and produced by Jeffrey Freeman