September 16, 2015

Ringside Report: Quillin brutalizes Zerafa on TV, Charlo dogs out K9 in 3

Kid Chocolate was on full blast at Foxwoods
Mashantucket Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin is sick of answering the same question. You know the one. Was it really a good move to give up your WBO middleweight title and a million dollar plus payday against Matt Korobov to follow boxing's Pied Piper, Al Haymon, into an unknown fistic future? According to Quillin, it definitely was. "When somebody can revive boxing the way he's done, you have to respect that," Quillin told me in regards to the controversial figure. In his second fight under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner, Quillin, Brooklyn, NY, 160, 32-0-1, 23 KOs, now beltless and coming off a disputed draw against current WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee, took on an unknown Australian named Michael Zerafa, Melbourne, Australia, 162, 17-2, 9 KOs, at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut last Saturday afternoon at the Grand Theater, formerly known as the MGM Grand. 

"Pretty Boy" got hit by flying chocolate
It was a showcase fight for Quillin and he shined brightly as the powerful puncher that he still is. Scrappy but not terribly skilled, Zerafa managed to avoid a patient Quillin's power early in the fight, even landing a hard right hand and an uppercut in the third round that got Quillin's attention and won the underdog the round on my card from press row. As the pace picked up in the fourth, Quillin began to pick his opponent off with the jab and sneaky left hooks. In the fifth, an entertaining fist fight finally broke out and Quillin took his chance to pounce, pulverizing Zerafa with a clubbing right hand on the ropes that sent the Aussie down and out, flat on his back, where he was taken from the ring on a yellow stretcher that matched his bright ring attire. 

Zerafa was taken out on a stretcher
The official time of the scary knockout was 1:06 of the fifth. The winner then jaw-jacked back and forth with "regular" WBA middleweight champion Danny "Miracle Man" Jacobs, seated ringside as an announcer for PBC, and the pair are reportedly scheduled to tussle December 5 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, this according to promoter Lou DiBella. During the post-fight presser, Quillin was handed a cell phone by DiBella and on the other end was his battered opponent, Michael Zerafa, calling from the local hospital to say that he was fine. The fighters exchanged pleasantries before an emotional Quillin reminded the media in attendance that boxing is a sport and that the last thing he wants to do is hurt somebody permanently. 

What the future looks like
The card, aired on NBC television and promoted by DiBella Entertainment, also featured an IBF super welterweight championship title fight between the aging champion Cornelius "K9" Bundrage (Detroit, MI, 153, 34-6, 19 KOs) and undefeated upstart challenger Jermall Charlo (Houston, TX, 153, 22-0, 17 KOs). Twin brother of Jermell Charlo, boxing fans can be excused if they can't tell the pair apart. The brothers look incredibly similar and both have recently seen world title opportunities slip through their fingers. Not to be outdone, Charlo did his best to distinguish himself from his own kin as early as the first round with a chopping right hand that sent Bundrage crashing to the canvas with a stunned look of shock on his face. Charlo pressed his overwhelming speed advantage in the second round, scoring another knockdown against the defending champion, this time off a short left hook. The in-ring disaster for Bundrage continued unabated into the third round which saw Charlo nearly blow "K9" out of the ring with two more knockdowns, the second of which caused referee John Callas to call a halt at 2:33.

With the dominating knockout victory, Charlo is now the IBF junior middleweight champion and he put the entire 154 pound division on notice that he is a true force to be reckoned with. "I am the future of boxing," proclaimed the proud new champion in the ring with his brother Jermell by his side. After an impressive performance like that on network television, he might just be right. 

Said the defeated but upbeat 42 year-old ex-champion, "You win some and you lose some." 

In the third televised fight of the day, Hugo Centeno (Oxnard, CA, 161, 23-0, 12 KOs) defeated Lukasz Maciec (Poland, 159, 22-3-1, 5 KOs) by unanimous decision in an eight rounder.  Neat and tidy, Centeno resembles polished junior welterweight Jose Benavidez in the ring and he used his advantages in size and skill to outpoint his plodding Polish opponent by score of 79-73, 79-73, and 78-74. 

Undercard Results: Super featherweight Gary Stark Jr. (Staten Island, NY, 25-3, 8 KOs) defeated Anthony Napunyi (Kenya, 15-16, 8 KOs) by six round unanimous decision (59-55, 58-56, 58-56) in the opening bout of the afternoon. Bantamweight prospect Antonio "Another" Russell (Washington, DC, 4-0, 3 KOs) overwhelmed Manuel Rubalcava (Mexico, 2-15) to score a second round knockout at 1:26. Super featherweight Titus Williams (Elmont, NY, 2-0, 1 KO) crushed Benjamin Burgos (New York, NY, 2-13-1) with an overhand right for the knockout in the first round of a scheduled four. Light heavyweight Marcus Browne (Staten Island, NY, 16-0, 12 KOs) blasted out a faded Gabriel Campillo (Madrid, Spain, 25-8-1, 12 KOs) in the first round with an impressive display of power, scoring two knockdowns to bring about a compassionate stoppage from Arthur Mercante Jr. at :55 of the first.

Credentialed coverage
Campillo, who came in overweight by two pounds, hasn't been the same since he was crushed by Sergey "The Krusher" Kovalev in 2013 at nearby Mohegan Sun. Female super bantamweight sensation Shelito Vincent (Providence, RI, 15-0, 1 KO) outworked and outclassed Brittany Cruz (Thornton, CO, 10-7-2-2) over the eight round distance, winning by unanimous decision. Cruz came to the ring with a smirk on her face but Vincent managed to wipe it off with a methodical attack on the inside of her taller, leaner opponent. Super featherweight Bryant Cruz (Port Chester, NY, 16-0, 8 KOs) defeated Jonathan Perez (Columbia, 33-13) by a wide eight round unanimous decision in an entertaining scrap that went off in the ring after the NBC broadcast ended. Fans who stuck around saw a nice little fight to end the night. Perez thought he won the bout and so did a few folks seated at ringside.    

Images & Words by Jeffrey Freeman 

Originally published on The Sweet Science

September 10, 2015

KO's Ringside Notes & Quotes X — Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions reign

Down Goes Huck on SpikeTV for PBC
By Jeffrey Freeman, KO Digest 

August is my least favorite month. Not because of the beautiful late summer weather in New England, but because of the boxing drought that we all experience year after year. For whatever reason, rare is the big or important bout held in the eighth month of the year.

Sometimes I think of it like this: If a year represented a 12 round title fight, August would be the round both fighters take off in order to save a little something extra for the championship rounds still to come. As the weather cools, boxing heats up in the fall and into the winter. Last month was not without its exception to the rule of course and by that I mean the incredible Marco Huck-Krzysztof Glowacki brawl aired on SpikeTV by Premier Boxing Champions. 

The defending cruiserweight champ was cruising to a record setting 14th successful title defense when he was brutally stopped late in the fight by Glowacki of Walcz, Poland. Like it or not, 2015 has been, and will continue to be, the year of Premier Boxing Champions. Al Haymon's revolutionary production concept is now in full swing. Boxing is suddenly everywhere you look. Fighters (and fans) are actively benefiting from all the exposure and all the action. Yet only the fighters seem to know this and appreciate it. 

Perpetually impossible to please boxing fans seem unappreciative of Haymon's efforts to preserve and restore their favorite sport through clever use of nostalgia and all-you-can-eat knuckle sandwiches on "free" TV. After some of their early bouts fell flat, PBC now has a legitimate "Fight of the Year" candidate in Glowacki's "made for television" knockout of Huck to win the cruiserweight title with a stunning, come from behind, get up off the floor, and knock the long reigning, defending world champion through the ropes KO. It is exactly these kinds of improbably exciting results that will create new boxing fans and bring old ones back to the fold. Thank you Mr. Haymon, thank you PBC, and thank you to the fighters who put it all on the line for our televised entertainment. 

Lowell Golden Gloves
PBC in Lowell, Massachusetts is right up my alley.

Not only has KO Digest live covered the last two significant boxing cards held in the Mill City (2012 at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium and 2013 at the Tsongas Arena, both Chicago Fight Club Promotions shows headlined by Irish Joey McCreedy) but I also lived in Lowell during the best years of Micky Ward's memorable career, from 1998 to 2003. I know the city. I know the people. I know the history of fisticuffs on the streets and in the ring there. I even covered the entire 2012 Lowell Golden Gloves tournament from start to finish and let me tell you, that's a lot of amateur bouts to have kept track of. 

In this photo I took from ringside during the 2012 Lowell GG's, that's Matt Doherty (born and raised in nearby Salem, MA where they once famously burned "witches" to death) in the corner with Lowell's Cowboy cutman Bill Murphy and trainer Michael Strazzere. Doherty, now 3-1 as a professional lightweight, and known as "The Mantis" will be competing when big time professional boxing returns to the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on Saturday October 10. That's just 6 days after Micky Ward ("The Pride of Lowell") celebrates his 50th birthday in style on October 4. Additional details on the card are "sketchy" at this time (that just means I can't say anything yet) but what I can tell you is that this is a Murphy's Boxing card under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner. Local New England talent will be in action and the rich history of boxing in Lowell, Massachusetts will be featured prominently. Look for KO in press row again for this one.  

Santa Cruz batters a Schaefer-jinxed Mares on PBC on ESPN
Just days before his crushing KO loss to Jhonny Gonzalez and approximately two years before last month's thrilling majority decision loss to Leo Santa Cruz in Los Angeles, Abner Mares was badly jinxed by Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer who said on international media conference call for all to hear loud and clear — "Abner Mares is a pound for pound star. I believe Mares belongs in the number two spot. We have Andre Ward, a fighter I respect, who's had tremendous accomplishments. He won the Super Six. Mares won the bantamweight tournament. Both fought the best in their division. Look what Mares has done since. Look at what Ward has done since. No question Abner belongs in the number two spot. You look at Juan Manuel Marquez, who I believe is in the number three spot. He got dominated every second of every round, by Floyd Mayweather, who is the number one pound for pound star."

Catch me if you can Manny
In Praise of TBE — Look, I know everybody is frustrated with boring mismatches and overblown Pay-Per-View costs. I know everybody would rather see Floyd "Money" Mayweather take on just about anybody but Andre Berto for victory #49. I get it. Trust me, I do. But the man is a living legend and if what he says is true, this is his Sweet Science swan song. Does that not warrant some attention and respect? I think it does even if I like to have some fun with Floyd's antics from time to time. Say what you like, but Mayweather has fought all comers and only a handful of them could even compete with him. That's not an accident. Mayweather is one of the greatest defensive fighters in the history of boxing and his timing, instincts, and ring intelligence are off the charts. Rare is the glove that's been solidly laid on him. Most great champions at his age, 38, are in sharp decline and showing signs of it. Not Mayweather. He's still P4P #1 and as strange as it may sound, he'll surely leave us wanting more. 

Hunter gives the boxing media a cerebral tongue lashing
Andre Berto's trainer Virgil Hunter on boxing writers & media members backlashing over ‪#‎MayBerto — "Some people don't have any grasp of what it takes to be a fighter. When I see the attitudes that come along with such an event, it usually comes from somebody who doesn't know what fighters go through. We acknowledge everybody whether you come up to us with a set in one of these rooms, or whether you come up to us with your camera phone. A lot of you can't even get us past YouTube but we still acknowledge you because we understand the sport and we appreciate that you're participating in our sport. So we love you just the same. It's time you give back to the sport. Anybody who has any negativity about it, who's fighting who, we can sit up here and go through history and contradict everything that coming from the negative side."

Only the Ghost of Rocky Marciano can stop 49-0
KO's ‪#‎MayBerto‬ Prediction — Ordinarily, for a fight of this magnitude, you would read my prediction published on RingTV but this one is such a forgone conclusion, they're not even doing a "Fight Picks" article. That should tell you something. Now let me tell you something else. Floyd Mayweather will "punish" disinterested boxing fans for their wholesale rebuke of this fight by making it fun and semi-competitive, not unlike what he did with Marcos Maidana the first time. And also not unlike what he did with Manny Pacquiao, but in the opposite way. In that farce of the century, Floyd "punished" fans and media alike for forcing him to fight Pacquiao by making the fight a grossly overpriced and boring shit show. Against Andre Berto, Mayweather will rumble more than usual, win eight of twelve rounds, and say: "See, I told you Berto was a tough competitor, he gave me a better fight than Manny did." This serves to humiliate Pacquiao further, something Mayweather won't be able to resist.

The greatest upset in sports history, for Mom
Busted Upset — The quick and easy comparisons to Douglas-Tyson as they relate to Saturday's ‪#‎MayBerto‬ farce don't really fit beyond the similarly long odds against the motivated underdogs. For one thing, Mayweather is a training machine who never slacks off or shows up to fight in poor condition. By contrast, Tyson trained for Buster on a diet of drugs, alcohol, and cheap Japanese geishas.

As a challenger to the best fighter on the planet, Douglas, unlike Berto, was known for a questionable heart and for quitting under fire in a title fight. Berto, immeasurably less talented than Douglas but no less written off, suffers from no such ticker issues as evidenced by his many entertaining wars in the ring. If Berto somehow beats Mayweather, it will be because he outfought him not because he caught him unprepared or undertrained.

Divine Intervention — What do Evander Holyfield and Manny Pacquiao have in common? Both now claim to have been miraculously healed of physical afflictions by the power of the Lord our God. Long time fight fans will recall that when "The Real Deal" was diagnosed with a pin sized hole in his enormous heart back in the 1990's, Holyfield actually claimed it was God and God alone who healed his ticker and ultimately made him fit for epic battle against Iron Mike Tyson. Pacquiao, he of the torn rotator cuff and ensuing "fraud of the century" against Floyd Mayweather last April, now claims that his injured shoulder was healed by God and swimming in salt water, this according to boxing writer Mike Coppinger in his new piece about Pacquiao on Boxing Junkie for USA Today Sports. But the questions remain, was either condition ever legitimate to begin with and does God really heal prizefighters? 

Times have changed in boxing
The Bottom Line — Have you ever wondered why boxing insists on maintaining the controversial status quo of 24-hour weigh-ins (the day before the fight) as opposed to the more traditional "same day" weigh-ins used in the past? Do you realize that the political will to stick with the current method has more to do now with publicity (and of course money) than safety? Back then, nobody much cared about weigh-ins as an important event to be observed personally and only the very biggest fights drew fan attention to the scales. As the domain of newspaper writers and other industry insiders, the weigh-in was more of a formality than a function of the fight. 

 Then in the 1980's, when "same day" weigh-ins went the way of 15-round title fights and mob control of the Sweet Science, the rationale behind the change was easily attributable to health concerns and fighter safety. A boxer who has to dehydrate his body to make a strict divisional weight limit will be weakened to the point of peril, or so the claim went. Give that fighter a full day to rehydrate with fluids they argued. That makes sense, fans said, and so it went on and on that way for over 30 years now.

Today, weigh-ins are big business and a big part of the "fight week" experience. Fans and media attend in droves, even paying for the right to be there, as was the case last April for ‪#‎MayPac‬ when a ticket cost $10 to something that was traditionally free. Mayweather's greed aside, in a down economy, a niche sport like boxing must do everything within its own power to squeeze every last drop of publicity possible and the structure of today's boxing weigh-in allows for that. So again we can see clearly that the powers that be don't really care about the safety of the fighters as much as they care about selling a few more tickets or a few more pay-per-views. That's why the 24-hour weigh-in is here to stay no matter how much weight today's boxers put on between the scale and the ring.

Don't forget the girls Bob
Promoter Bob Arum talks to KO Digest about changes in the boxing broadcast business — "When I first started in the sport back in the mid 60's, there were no satellites, no international satellites, no domestic satellites so the communication was, you would look at it as like being in the dark ages. When we did a closed circuit fight we had to use telephone company long lines. It was a whole different business model because of how limited in retrospect, we were in communications. Now we have all the satellites, we have pay per view, we have stuff that nobody even contemplated 45 years ago. In the next 10 or 15 years people will be buying a PPV fight on their iPad. And not only buying it on their iPad but electing which corner to watch between rounds, which camera angle to watch a fight from. Everything changes and yet everything stays the same. Ultimately it's still two guys in the ring facing off against each other."

Holly Holm is next up for Rousey in the UFC
The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science — Holly Holm, once considered to be the #1 pound for pound rated female fighter in the world, shocked the sport she ruled in April of 2013 when she announced her departure from boxing to pursue her goals in mixed martial arts. The decision to switch sports closed the door once and for all on an all-girl superfight against "First Lady of Boxing" Cecilia Braekhus, the new #1 P4P female fighter. More than two years later, Holm's dream has come true in the form of a fight against UFC superstar Ronda Rousey on January 2 in Vegas. Said "The Preacher's Daughter" at the time of her difficult decision: "When we were deciding which way to go with my future, my trainer, Mike Winkeljohn, said it best, ‘You want to climb a new mountain.’ This has created a new spark in me, and I’m following my heart. I just want to fight where my passion is."

Will the winner risk it all against GGG?
Reversal of Fortune — 34 year old middleweight champion of the world Miguel Cotto is reportedly set to make 30 million dollars for his HBO PPV defense of the WBC title against Mexican heartthrob Canelo Alvarez, who himself is set to make 10 million dollars. What's evident here is that Cotto has played his economic cards correctly even if boxing fans know in their heart of hearts that Gennady Golovkin is more deserving of a middleweight title fight with Cotto, a Puerto Rican warrior who's Mama didn't raise no fool. If you're going to lose, and perhaps get beat up badly in the process, it's better to make 30 million dollars than 3 times less. Though an underdog against his 25 year old challenger, Cotto is not in an unwinnable fight against Alvarez. As always, boxing is all about the money, that risk-reward ratio, and that's why it's Canelo and not GGG that Cotto will risk it all against in November.

Nunn has been locked up too long for drug charges
Second To Who — I've been thinking a lot lately about former World Middleweight Champion Michael Nunn. Currently incarcerated for buying two pounds of cocaine from an undercover police officer, Nunn was one hell of a good fighter. Back in 1988, when I was just 18, all I wanted in this life was to see him fight Sugar Ray Leonard. That's how highly I thought of Nunn. Hell, the whole boxing world was impressed with him and for damn good reason. His beatings of Frank Tate, Juan Roldan, and Sumbu Kalambay were all equally impressive in their own special way. The body punch that dropped Tate was tricky quick, the knockout of Roldan was of the ten count variety, retiring the Argentine for good. Kalambay? He fell in one round from one punch. The sky looked the limit for Nunn, who 26 years ago in 1989, decisioned Iran Barkley to retain the title. Nunn made two more defenses (against Marlon Starling and Donald Curry) before he ran into the unchecked fury of James "Light Out" Toney who lived up to his nickname, leveling Nunn in eleven.

Editor's Note  The KO Digest Boxing News has changed a lot through years since its inception in 2010. Writers have come and gone. Monthly columns have come and gone as well. Change, while never easy, is a sure sign of growth. All in all, the changes we've experienced have been for the better and I am as proud of KO Digest today as I was when it first started to take shape, and take off in the boxing community. Our brand is well known and well respected. Our ringside reporters are credentialed for many of the biggest and best fights in boxing today. Our content is read throughout the world by fight fans, eager for unbiased and informative reporting. Mission accomplished. Today, it is primarily myself and David McLeod who hold down the writing fort. John Scheinman, Chuck Marbry, and Steve Bridge remain as occasional (but valuable) contributors. I'm forever grateful to all who have contributed to KO Digest in the past and they include Edwin Ayala, Terry Strawson, Joel Sebastianelli, Mark A. Jones, and Derek Bonnett. 

Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Freeman

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