Sergei Liakhovich and Juan Diaz defend world titles
In some polls Belarussia’s Sergei Liakhovich is considered the best of the four heavyweight world titleholders.
Liakhovich (23-1, 14 KOs) defends his WBO world title for the first time against long-time heavyweight contender Shannon Briggs at Chase Field in Phoenix on Saturday. The bout will be televised by Showtime and is co-promoted by Don King Promotions.
Not too long ago the rather beanpole looking heavyweight appeared on a Las Vegas fight card and looked out of place against Friday Ahunanya, a rather stout looking heavyweight. It looked like a mismatch but Liakhovich boxed and slugged his way to a 12-round unanimous decision over his undefeated opponent.
Anyone who saw that fight in 2001 recognized he had talent.
Last April came his title fight against Lamon Brewster who many still consider the best hitting heavyweight out there. For 12 rounds the pair traded punches with Liakhovich looking like his thin frame was about to break. But that bamboo body of his continually wilted but never broke as he managed to win the last several rounds and upset the champ.
Now he’s the champ.
“I won the title against the toughest puncher, Lamon Brewster,” said Liakhovich, 30, during a telephone press conference. “He is by far the biggest puncher.”
Briggs (47-4-1, 41 KOs) is a heavyweight who’s been around the block and keeps missing the party. Despite rather impressive numbers he’s only had one shot at the world title back in 1998 against Lennox Lewis. Part of the blame is he’s talented at everything he does. He even promotes fights. Another problem is his weight. Nobody takes him serious because of the extra poundage.
“I do not weigh myself anymore,” Briggs, 34, stated. “I am trying to perfect the art of the one-punch knockout.”
Briggs last two fights were fought above 263 pounds and both ended in knockout wins for the New Yorker.
“I have never been touted as having great stamina,” Briggs said. “I am training hard, but I am training for a knockout.”
Knockout or not, expect an interesting fight between the pair.
“If his strategy is to come at me and throw a lot of punches, it is going to be a short night for him,” Liakhovich said of Briggs.
Fighting for the first time with Don King Promotions, the young Texan defends his WBA lightweight title against Venezuela’s Fernando Angulo (18-3, 12 KOs).
Based on his last two fights, expect a blowout victory, maybe even a knockout.
Perhaps the most improved fighter of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, Diaz (30-0, 15 KOs) has turned heads with his crowd-pleasing ability to fire punches while adeptly avoiding crushing blows in return.
Against Jose Miguel Cotto and Randy Suico, two heavy-hitting lightweights, Diaz has evolved into a world class fighter capable of beating anyone with his skills.
It makes sense because, after all, he is a college student at University of Houston.
“My parents came back here (to the United States). They worked hard to give both my brother and me a good education,” said Diaz, adding that he is unable to take a full load because of his training. “I am going to continue going because I know that staying in school is what keeps me motivated and keeps me winning.”
Angulo has never fought outside of South America but expects to show a thing or two to the college graduate.
“I’m a quiet boxer, I’m not one to talk much, but I will demonstrate that I am more than capable of dealing with Diaz’s experience,” Angulo said. “Diaz is the best opponent that I have faced.”
A request to have three-minute rounds for female prizefights and for 12-round championship bouts was denied by the WBC convention in Croatia on Tuesday.
Layla McCarter, a lightweight contender, is scheduled to fight for the WIBA lightweight title on Nov. 17, in Las Vegas. The fight is tabbed for 12 rounds and will entail three-minute rounds as well.
In another decision, the WBC voted to have judges score cardsread aloud by the ring announcers twice during a fight: in the fourth and eighth rounds. However, a national commission can void the ruling if it wishes.
Dueling fight cards
The Inland area will have dueling fight cards on Nov. 17 with Soboba Casino hosting a middleweight title eliminator and Morongo Casino with a fight card featuring several young local boxers.
Middleweight Enrique Ornelas fights Australia’s Sam Soliman to see who meets middleweight world champion Jermain Taylor. Soliman is the boxer who gave Winky Wright such a difficult time. He fires more punches than you can count and is hard to hit. Ornelas is a tall and strong boxer who is now trained by former world champion Wayne McCullough. It should be a very interesting match. For more information call (818) 817-8001.
At Morongo Casino, junior featherweight Michael Franco goes after his fifth victory without a defeat. Also, Anthony Villareal, a flyweight, also seeks his fifth victory. He has one loss. For more information call (800) 252-4499.
Two huge welterweight fights happened this past weekend. First, Riverside’s Mark Suarez engaged Kermit Cintron for the IBF welterweight title. It was a war for five rounds before Cintron’s hand was raised. But if anything, Cintron’s victory proves you can rebound from a defeat to win the title. Suarez still has enough to recover.
In another welterweight showdown on Friday, Colombia’s Joel Julio survived a knockdown in the 12th round at the hands of Mexico’s Cosme Rivera to pull out a split-decision victory. Both guys hit each other with sledgehammer blows.
Last week, Jesus Karass Soto stopped Michele Rosales in the last round in a grueling welterweight contest between Mexican fighters. Soto was back in the gym this week sparring with his stablemate Antonio Margarito.
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