Written by Phil Woolever
Monday, 11 December 2006 19:00
A standing room only swarm of around 2,000 saw quality in each of seven bouts. Much of the action was world-class. Oscar de la Hoya and Shane Mosley added star power to the slugout sparks.
It was no shock that Golden Boy Promotions and Telefutura brought in another fine production, but many fans got quite a surprise in how much trouble nearby Tucson’s local hero Norberto “Nito” Bravo had against Michael Lucero of West Linn, Oregon.
Bravo, a semi-finalist from last season’s “The Contender,” got a rejuvenating career boost when he emerged from the second season’s installments as one of the most enduring, popular participants.
On paper it looked like 5-foot-8 Bravo was getting a relatively easy assignment against 5-foot-3 Lucero, now 10-11-1 (2), but Bravo, 23-13-3 (12), got all he could handle, maybe more.
It was a decent battle overall, but somewhat anticlimactic after Bravo’s TV drama and some of the evening’s previous slugfests. Many ringside observers, including this one, felt Lucero had landed enough punches to win.
Lucero certainly earned a rematch, but from a risk reward basis it’s probably not the safest managerial move for Bravo.
“He’s a tough kid but I thought I was ahead and the knockdown sealed the deal,” said a bruised but unfazed Bravo. “He gave me a run for my money. I had to lose weight after The Contender and it affected my stamina. I thought my overall performance was good.”
Bravo’s eight-round adventure may have been scheduled for last on the card, but no one left for this “walkout” bout. The crowd stayed on their feet screaming for Bravo’s entrance. Soon after that Lucero made them sit on nervous hands.
Bravo scored a knockdown in the second session that made the place loco again, but the anxious general silence for much of the rest of the contest spoke softly but definite volumes on the visitor’s behalf.
Referee Ray Scott had his hands full during give and take flurries, then sporadic hug and slug clinches.
Bravo was winded by the seventh round but kept throwing. The look from his weary countenance indicated he understood how much was at stake, as the beer baptized faithful kept up a hopeful yet muffled chant.
Inspired for a big finish, Bravo scored well and almost gained a grand finale. He rocked Lucero repeatedly in the last two frames and teed off to close the show with a bang, seemingly just a punch or two away from another knockdown.
Official scores: Joe Garcia and Chris Wilson 78-73, Dennis O’Connell 76-75 all for Bravo.
“I kept landing the left hook but it didn’t have the extra sting to put him out,” said Bravo. “I give him all the credit in the world.”
Lucero also deserves credit for maintaining his very positive composure after losing a probable career advancing decision which numerous fans and media felt should have gone his way.
Jose Angel Beranza, 121, 28-9-2 (25), from Mexico City upset former WBO Super Flyweight titlist Ivan “Choco” Hernandez, 123¾ , 23-2-1 (13), in a true whapathon.
Both lanky technicians landed good shots. Hernandez rocked Beranza early with right hands over the top, but the price Hernandez paid to stay within firing range got too steep. Beranza kept punishing pressure on behind looping hooks.
By the 4th round it looked like Hernandez’s left hand really gave him problems. By the middle frames Hernandez looked the worse for walloping wear. Beranza’s left eye was damaged and Hernandez’s puffy face was cut on the bridge of his already bloodied nose.
Many rounds were hard to call. Both men wailed away full tilt to gain back and forth rounds by just a few punches.
Hernandez made a late surge in the 8th and the bout was still up for grabs going down the stretch.
Beranza dodged a steady stream of shots and pressed more of the finishing action, before an appreciative audience.
All judges (Gerald Maltz, Chris Wilson, Craig Harmon) saw it 96-94 for underdog Beranza.
Hernandez was taken to the hospital to assess the damaged hand.
It’s a good thing that slick stinging Daniel Jimenez, 16-1-1 (10), San Juan, PR, was ready for top competition, scheduled against Javier Jauregui. When Jauregui pulled out with a nagging injury a day before showtime, late substitute Angel Recio provided just that.
The last day fill in was ready for almost anybody, and charged with thumping aggression until the cupboard was bare.
Previously undefeated Recio, now 10-1 (2), from Santo Domingo, DR, came mighty close to pulling an upset of his own on this night of no quarter close calls.
Recio threw an impressive pile of punches and made Jimenez dance backward for much of their bruising waltz. Recio sprang in and scored whenever Jimenez waited for openings.
Recio got too cute too early after initial success, and learned something about both his more experienced foe’s patience and power.
Jimenez did cumulative damage with short left hooks and Recio’s eyes grew puffy.
Recio mugged confidently but paid for it with a huge right that kept his respect from then on as Jimenez found the range.
Recio showed he could counter and hung tough with left hooks. Each man landed whaps that drew deep “oohs” from the crowd.
Jimenez blocked more and more as the fight and Recio’s vision problems progressed. A short left blast dropped Recio flat on his back, to stare up blankly at the Diamond Center’s unique turquoise/aquamarine lighting pattern in dreamland, as if he’d never get up by New Year’s.
But in fistic glory, he did.
Most of the roaring crowd was on their feet as Jimenez stalked and walked him down. Jimenez landed around half a dozen vicious right uppercuts without resistance. Referee Bobby Ferrara waved it off after Recio was backed full circle around the ring, swallowing heavy leather.
Official time of the TKO was 0:36 of the round nine. Recio was ahead on one judge’s scorecard at the mooted moment.
Prospect Craig McEwan, 3-0 (2), looked strong enough, but his power might be questioned after some of the huge shots Valentino “The Eagle” Jalomo, 2-1-1, took without flinching in their middleweight meeting. Jalomo kept rushing inside and landed more than a few decent punches of his own. It got sloppy, but the crowd loved the two way brawling. There were lots of boos at the unanimous nod to McEwan.
Wonder if McEwan asked trainer Fred Roach to wear a kilt like his other cornerman.
Overmatched Ramiro Rivera, 4-3 (3), Phoenix, wasn’t intimidated during exchanges with talented Gabriel “El Rey” Martinez, 11-0 (6). They traded at roughly an even rate in numbers, but Martinez simply had too much power. Rivera was getting knocked around the ring by the climax. He fought back all the way but protected himself less and less until ref Nico Perez properly stepped in at 1:46 of the 3rd.
2004 Puerto Rican Olympian Super Heavyweight Victor Brisbal, 6-1 (4), pounded out a rugged six-round unanimous decision over game Robbie “Crazy” McClimans, 4-3-1 (2). Brisbal towered over McClimans but couldn’t discourage the tough Texan, who rumbled on to humorous chants of “Let’s go Crazy.”
In the afternoon appetizer, Leon Green took a split decision over Eddie Vega that drew some boos.
With Nacho Beristan (Beranza), Roach, and Miguel Diaz in camp, you could have microphoned the ringposts for a clinic on corner work and trainers.
Area fans deserve another year’s worth of credit. Once again the bar and beer stand lines stayed busy but there were no apparent buttheads or amateur drunks to contend with.
In a night full of first-class acts from top to bottom, hard luck Lucero gets our MVP (Most Venerable Puncher) holiday toast.
“It was a good, close fight,” said the humble visitor. “I’m OK with that, and I’d like the chance to come back and do it again.”
All night long, brother.
All night long.
Written by Michael Woods
Monday, 11 December 2006 19:00
Maskaev, the 37-year-old Kazakh who lives in California and owns the WBC title belt, traveled back to his old stomping grounds to defeat Nigerian challenger Peter Okhello on Sunday evening.
It was the first world title fight in Russia, and according to Maskaev’s co-manager Fred Kesch, who traveled with Team Maskaev to Russia, Maskaev was quite the hit. Now, the boxer grew up in the glorious nation of Kazakhstan, which is actually about 1,400 miles from Moscow, where he won a UD12 against Okhello. And just between us, the Russians actually conquered Kazakhstan in the 1700s, and folded that clan into the Soviet empire in 1936, but bygones are bygones. The Russians embraced Maskaev, and he embraced them back.
Team Maskaev hopped on a plane and touched down in Russia on Nov. 27. Manager Kesch and promoter Dennis Rappaport, along with Maskaev, trainer Victor Valle and sparring partner Zuri Lawrence were all impressed by Russia, which is morphing into a cosmopolitan hotbed as rubles from oil money are flying hot and heavy.
Tix to see Maskaev at the Olympisky Arena in Russia moved quicker than ducats to see Madonna and McCartney, Kesch tells TSS, and the boxer was treated warmly wherever he went. He trained, Kesch says, at a children’s fight gym, and the little ones were all over Oleg like jimmies on an ice cream cone. About 50 of them would grab their jump ropes and join Maskaev in skipping whenever the heavyweight grabbed his rope. The adult and the kids would keep skipping, with no one wanting to give up first.
Maskaev, Kesch tells TSS, also enjoyed touching base with relatives from his native turf. His dad, Alex, came from Kazakhstan to see his boy fight. He had never seen Oleg fight as a pro, so that was a special treat.
And even though everyone wanted to toast Oleg with vodka shots, Kesch says, the boxer didn’t overindulge. Even though Okhello is not a highly regarded boxer, Maskaev wasn’t about to fritter away his title, which came to him in such improbable fashion, years after any and all pundits had relegated him to the scrapheap.
Team Maskaev soaked up the local atmosphere, attending the Bolshoi Ballet, and a music festival. The boxer received an award from the Republic of Mordovia, which is his father’s country of origin, and he received Russian citizenship, to bookmark his US papers.
The atmosphere fight night was electric, Kesch reports. Ruble-laden high rollers ponied up around $3,000 for ringside seats, and Kesch was struck by the fans’ decency. That contrasted with the vibe in Hamburg in 2005, when the German fans left Kesch cold as they reacted with disdain when their guy, Sinan Samil Sam, lost a UD12 to Maskaev. Vitali Klitschko and the Giant Valuev were on hand in Moscow to scout Maskaev, and Kesch is hoping that he and Rappaport can cobble a deal with Wladimir Klitschko for a partial unification bout, before Maskaev would be due to fight the Samuel Peter/James Toney victor. Maskaev escaped the Okhello fight with minimal wear and tear; he needed one stitch to aid the healing in a tiny tear over his left eyebrow.
Team Maskaev got some heat for choosing the 34-year-old Okhello, now 18-5, for Oleg’s first defense. But, Kesch tells TSS, James Toney would have been in the ring with Maskaev had he not chosen to tussle with Peter again.
And if Maskaev can hook up with Klitschko, and continue his improbable turnaround story, he will certainly supplant Borat as the best known Kazakh in the United States.
Written by Ralph Gonzalez
Sunday, 10 December 2006 19:00
There’s nothing more exciting for boxing fans than watching a young prospect evolve into a contender and hopefully a world champion. Such is the case for Southern California aficionados who’ve been watching Librado Andrade’s career evolve. Andrade, 24-0 (18 KO’s), is ranked #1 in the 168-pound division by the WBC and set to fight for the title against the highly regarded champion Mikkel Kessler of Denmark. “We’re in negotiations right now with Kessler’s people. This is definitely going to happen. It’s been a long time coming,” Andrade said.
Andrade, 28, started out his career being a regular on promoter Roy Englebrecht’s shows. Eventually he was promoted by Englebrecht’s company and started to slowly carve out a name for himself. Andrade’s skills and winning record paved the way to a signing with Golden Boy Promotions where his undefeated record remains intact. His first big test came against the also undefeated Willie Stewart in March of 2004 for the NABA title. Andrade took the twelve-round decision in what he calls his toughest test to date. “My hardest fight came against Willie Stewart. Before that fight I hadn’t gone more than six rounds and he was a lefty. He was a very good fighter,” Andrade says. “He hit me with a hook that had me hearing bells for about two rounds. It was an exciting fight and a great learning experience.”
Andrade was stepped up against the very tough Panamenian Tito “Misil” Mendoza who he defeated in a twelve-round war. The fight ended controversially since it was discovered by the California Athletic Commission that Mendoza’s corner was using ammonia caplets in order to quickly revive their fighter who’d been knocked down three times and severely hurt during the confrontation. Mendoza’s cornerman was immediately suspended for the infraction. Andrade holds no grudge. Smartly, he chooses to see the positive aspect of the situation. “In a way, it’s good that it happened. He fought at his very best. He was getting extra help in his corner where they were giving him smelling salts,” Andrade said. “I had to go through a lot to win that fight. A fight like that prepares you for someone like Mikkel Kessler who’s extremely tough.”
Kessler, 38-0 (29 KO’s), is the current WBC and WBA Super middleweight champion. He’s no stranger to Andrade who’s sparred with the Dane based out of Germany. “He’s very fast. He throws nice jabs and then follows up with a right or left. He’s a one, two, fighter. He’s the best one-two combination puncher out there,” Andrade said.
He feels confident enough in his skills that fighting in Kessler’s backyard is a non-issue. “I have no problem with that at all. To me it doesn’t matter. I’ve been to other countries and fought without a problem. I went to Canada when I fought Otis Grant and had a great time,” Andrade said. “I want to make fans. I see this as an opportunity to see another country, meet other people and learn about another culture. At the same time, I’m showing up to win wherever I go.”
Andrade, who stands six-foot-two, started off his pro career as a 175-pounder but discovered that the 168 lb. limit was easy to make. “The weight came off naturally. I had no trouble keeping it off. I’m not a big eater. I tried fighting at 168 and I liked it. So I said, why not? I walk around at 185 and that’s if I haven’t trained for two weeks.”
Andrade, a pro for six years, didn’t expect his life path would lead him to a world title shot. He seemed destined for fast food greatness as a manager for “Jack in the Box” where most of his family toiled. “I didn’t have a plan for my life. Before I was a serious fighter I worked at Jack in the Box. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I though maybe I’d work my way up the ladder,” Andrade said. Eventually he realized that boxing was his calling. “This is what I was born to do. Boxing is my life. It’s given me a future and a career.”
He’s currently traded his Orange County haunts for Las Vegas where he trains under the guidance of one of the toughest men to ever lace up the gloves. “Wayne McCullough’s been to the top. He tells me all about it. He’s taught me a lot. His perspective really helps me. He’s a real good coach and a friend,” Andrade said. “I don’t particularly need anyone to push me since I’m focused and I know what I have to do to win. What I need is a great friend inside and outside the ring who understands me and that’s where Wayne comes in. I have a great relationship with him.”
He also credits his manager for a new found lease in boxing. “Al Haymon has changed my life completely. I almost wanted to quit boxing at one point and he’s put me on the right track. He’s the person I look up to most,” Andrade said. As far as other fighters are concerned, Oscar De La Hoya, who is also his boss, is someone he loves to watch in the ring. “I like watching Oscar. I like his style. I’m also a fan of Juan Manuel and Rafael Marquez. They’re awesome.”
Andrade’s more than paid his dues. He’s slowly stepped up against solid competition and has looked more impressive each time out. The native son of Guanajuato, Mexico by way of La Habra, California predicts a big future which includes a title currently held by Kessler. “My fans can expect me to be a world champion next year. I have all the confidence in the world that I can beat Mikkel Kessler. I’ve sparred with him before. He’s a great guy, a nice guy, but he’s got something I want and that’s the world title. It’s going to take more than a home field advantage to stop me from getting it.”
To see Librado Andrade at work in an impressive one round demolition of Richard Grant click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNmWXVISKg8
For Andrade’s record go to: http://www.boxrec.com/boxer_display.php?boxer_id=36961
Written by TSS Press
Sunday, 10 December 2006 19:00
A lot of people, friends and family, helped out… and a lot of friends couldn’t relate at all. It was very isolating and scary. Conversation was no longer “normal.” Life was no longer “normal.” There was no day and no night. Emergencies happened all the time. I was on very high dosages of steroids over a long period of time. Steroids are muscle wasting, and I lost all semblance of a sleep cycle. I was on TONS of medications, most of which had dangerous side effects. Especially steroids. The best way to describe being on steroids, is the painting by Munch, “The Scream,” multiplied by 1,000.
I have also had to have several surgeries, including having three bones in my right wrist removed. I have had to deal with extreme changes in my physical appearance. I went down to 70 pounds because I was put on the wrong steroids, and lost a lot of my hair again because of such severe malnutrition. I’ve had to face the possibility of my death over and over and over again, but I have never given up or given in. I have been bruised and battered, but never beaten. The treatment caused me to go into menopause (at 20) and I cannot have children. I had severe Graft-vs-Host Disease (GVHD), the potentially fatal “side effect” of the treatment. My skin became extremely tight, rigid and thick. I started martial arts to help… basically everything, and I moved to California because I need to live in a moderate climate.
I’m a 12 year survivor who only had about a 15% chance of even making it at all. I’ve worked hard not to be a “victim,” but to handle myself with as much grace, humor, class and courage as possible. I was taken off disability, so I have no medical coverage and/or prescription coverage even though I still have numerous medical conditions. I must get infusions of immunoglobulin every couple of months because my immune system has been so compromised. But I’ve overcome every obstacle that’s been thrown at me.
I’ve taken a test to become an optician, created a life for myself in CA., and started martial arts again.
I am a CHAMPION!
I have the “Eye of the Tiger!”
A Real Life “Rocky.”
Written by George Kimball
Saturday, 09 December 2006 19:00
And although the middleweight champion fought virtually all twelve rounds in full retreat, by the end of the night the gnats had suffered the heavier casualties. That’s what happens when you try to chase a man around in his own house.
The old boxing saw about inevitability of the result in a fight between a good big man and a good little man played itself out in real-time at the Alltel Arena Saturday night, as Taylor captured a unanimous decision over a thoroughly game Kassim Ouma to retain his 160-pound belts in the main event of Lou DiBella’s ‘Home for the Holidays’ card in Taylor’s Arkansas hometown.
The disparate force of the two men’s power was on display throughout the night, beginning with the first round, when Taylor rocked Ouma with a solid right uppercut that knocked him two steps backward.
Recognizing that an aggressive mode was not only his best chance, but his only one, Ouma played the aggressor’s role, but Taylor patiently allowed him to charge in before countering with his heavier artillery.
Ouma performed well and he performed bravely, but he was simply overmatched.
The occasion also marked the American debut of the WBC’s new system of Open Scoring in title fights, and when the judges’ tallies were announced at the end of the fourth, Taylor was up 40-36 on all three cards.
By the fifth Ouma was beginning to swell on both cheekbones, but before that stanza was over, Taylor got his only real fright of the evening when he emerged from one exchange with what appeared to be a nasty cut along his left eyelid.
Between rounds, cutman Ray Rodgers was able to repair the wound, which didn’t reopen significantly until the last couple of rounds, by which time the fight was well in hand.
Taylor claimed that the cut had been caused by a head-butt, but if so, we didn’t see it, and neither did referee Frank Garza.
In the seventh, Taylor connected with a big right that lifted Ouma right up off the canvas, but the smaller man kept coming.
The second announcement of the judges’ tallies demonstrated yet another unanticipated flaw in the Open Scoring system: What happens if the ring announcer screws up the total?
Precisely that transpired after the eighth, when Michael Buffer correctly announced scores of 80-72 and 78-74, but misread a third card (either Tom Kaczmarek’s or Jack Woodburn’s) and erroneously gave the judge’s seven-round tally (70-63), omitting the eighth-round score.
Despite the oversight, it was clear enough that the fight was in danger of becoming a rout, which resulted in Ouma pressing forward with even more urgency, while Taylor pulled in the horns and, realizing at last that he wasn’t going to knock Ouma out anyway, boxed more cautiously.
“I wanted to knock him out,” said Taylor. “I was in great shape, but I kind of took out a loan the last couple of rounds.”
“Jermain was kind of running on fumes toward the end, but I think the cut may have been bothering him, too,” said DiBella.
Even though he lost the last three rounds on the cards of Kaczmarek and Italian judge Servio Silvi (and two of the last three on the Canadian Woodburn’s), Taylor was handily ahead at the end. Woodburn had him up 118-110, Kaczmarek 117-111, and Silvi 115-113. (The Sweet Science scorecard was an even more emphatic 119-109 in the champion’s favor.)
Taylor landed 244 punches to Ouma’s 177, but the statistics could not register the wide gulf between the force of the blows delivered by the respective combatants. Most of Taylor’s, in keeping with his nickname, were delivered with bad intentions, while, by backing up, he was able to smother most of Ouma’s scattershot array.
And even though Ouma threw more punches (701 to 579 for Taylor) his average of 58 per round was just a little better than half the 104 per round he had averaged over his previous ten fights.
“Ouma came out and fought hard for all twelve rounds,” said Taylor. “He’s a little guy, but he’s very tough.”
Although Taylor had knocked out 16 of his first 20 professional opponents, the Ouma fight marked the fifth time in his last six outings that he has been extended the 12-round distance. Obviously, the level of competition may have something to do with that, since all five were against reigning or former world champions -- Ouma, Winky Wright, Bernard Hopkins (twice), and William Joppy.
Taylor retained his WBC and WBO titles with the win. He is also recognized by the WBA as its ‘super champion.’
“Whoever wants to fight, come on!” Taylor threw down the challenge before departing for the hospital. “I’ll fight the toughest guy out there.”
Taylor was taken to a local hospital where a plastic surgeon stitched his wound, which should heal in time for his next HBO date, probably against ‘Contender’ first-year winner Sergio Mora in mid-April.
That would put it a week or two after Joe Calzaghe’s Cardiff super-middleweight defense against Contender runner-up Peter Manfredo Jr., which has now been rolled back from March 3 to April 7. The tentative plan still calls for Taylor to move up to 168 to challenge the Welshman later in the summer, probably in the United States, but not, we can now safely predict, in Arkansas.
Everything about Saturday night’s fight suggested that Ouma would be better served by going straight back to 154, a division in which he would be a force to be reckoned with against almost anyone, but, surprisingly, the beaten Ugandan had other ideas.
“You know me, I’m a small guy, but I’m here (as a middleweight) to stay,” vowed Ouma.
Describing himself as “a guy who never gives up,” Ouma was even asking for more of Taylor.
“I want to come back here again and fight you in Little Rock,” Ouma told Taylor in the ring.
Taylor-Ouma was the first world title fight ever contested in Little Rock (unless one counts a trio of WAA bouts the late Pat O’Grady staged here in the 1980s, which we don’t), and just the second in the state of Arkansas. In March of 1903, Joe Gans successfully defended his world lightweight title by stopping Steve Crosby in the 11th round of a scheduled 20-round fight in Hot Springs.
(An 1896 heavyweight title fight between Gentlemen Jim Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons was originally scheduled to be held in Hot Springs, but Arkansas Governor James P. Clarke threatened to use the state militia to prevent the bout, which he ran right out of his state and all the way to Nevada, where Fitzsimmons won the title after felling Corbett with his “solar plexus punch.”)
DiBella didn’t have to contend with any hostile forces in the Arkansas state house, but his former employers at HBO didn’t do him any favors when it came to Saturday’s live gate. Although the free HBO feed is prohibited from being shown in public establishments, the network was allowed to peddle the closed-circuit sale. The result was that many saloons in Little Rock’s popular River Market area were advertising the fight at cover charges ranging from $5 TO $10, while the paid attendance of 10,119 meant nearly 7,000 empty seats in the Alltel Arena.
“I’m guessing it probably cost us a couple of thousand fans,” said DiBella. “They had the choice of buying a ticket to the fight or paying a small cover charge so they could get sh**-faced while they watched it in a bar, and a lot of people took that option.
“Next time we do one of these fights I’m going to argue that they shouldn’t be allowed to sell closed-circuit rights in a small-town market, because it does have a significant impact on the gate,” added the promoter.
DiBella also had to pander to local custom by interrupting the live show midway through the undercard to show the Heisman Trophy telecast on the overhead screen. Arkansas’ Darren McFadden had even less chance of winning the Heisman than Ouma had of beating Taylor, but unless the Razorback crowd had a chance to see it with their own eyes, they might have opted to stay away from the fight.
Andre Berto, the talented Florida welterweight who boxed for Haiti in the 2004 Olympics after being disqualified in the US trials, ran his pro record to 16-0 in an impressive HBO debut as he overwhelmed his New Jersey opponent Miguel Figueroa (25-5-1) in posting a sixth-round TKO.
In the first round along Berto hit Figueroa with everything but the ring post, scoring a 10-8 round. With seconds left in the round he buckled Figueroa with a solid right uppercut, followed by a left that might have sent him down had the bell not intervened.
Berto piled up round after round, punishing his game opponent with an impressive arsenal of punches. By the end of the fifth, a stanza in which he landed 49 of 76 power shots, Berto was simply teeing off on his opponent, and while the sixth lasted he continued that dominance, landing 25 of the 44 power punches he sent Figueroa’s way. A left to the body/left to the jaw combination wobbled Figueroa, and when Berto waded to thud a hard right to the head that snapped Figueroa’s head sideways, referee Laurence Cole wisely intervened. The end came at 1:59 of the sixth.
Overall CompuBox stats showed Berto landing 64 jabs to Figueroa’s 26 and 129 power punches to his opponent’s 25.
Fighting as a pro for the 69th time, crowd-pleasing Texas junior welterweight Emanuel Augustus had was for him a rarity -- a comparatively easy fight. A longtime stalking horse for contenders and pretenders alike, Augustus coasted to a lopsided unanimous decision over Denver’s Russell Stoner Jones in their ten-round undercard bout.
Since it was for one of those cockamamie WBC titles (the ‘Continental Americas,’ in this case), Open Scoring was also in effect for Augustus-Jones. Announcing the scores after the fourth and eighth turned out to be somewhat anticlimactic, since Augustus had won every round at both junctures to lead by 40-36 and then 80-71. (Kaczmarek, Silvi, and Woodburn even agreed on a 10-8 seventh round despite the absence of a knockdown.)
In the end Kaczmarek and Woodburn both had it a 100-89 shutout, with Silvi (who scored the last round even at 10-all) not far behind at 100-90. Augustus acquired the meaningless belt with the win, but more importantly, the victory provided him with his first three-fight win streak since 1998-99. The new Continental Americas champion is now 34-28-6, while Jones is 15-16.
Connecticut light-heavyweight Jaidon Codrington decked Thomas Reid with a short right hand in the second to score the only knockdown in their six-round prelim. All three judges -- Bill Morrison, Paul Fields, and Gale Van Hoy -- scored it 59-54 for Codrington, now 14-1 and 5-0 since his shocking first-round knockout by Allan Green 13 months ago. Reid dropped to 35-18-1 with the loss.
DiBella’s latest recruit, former American University basketball star Ronald (Son of Tommy) Hearns, starched late substitute Robert Smallwood, dropping the Missouri super-middleweight three (and, probably, four) times in less than three minutes en route to a first-round TKO.
Hearns’ performance was impressive enough, though how much of it was due to the ineptitude of his opponent remains open to question. Less than a minute into the fight, he hurt Smallwood with a right-hand body shot, and then put him down with a left-right combination. Another right to the body followed by a right to the head sent Smallwood down for the second time, after which Hearns knocked his opponent right through the ropes with yet another right.
Although Smallwood was completely outside the ring except for his lower legs, which were draped over the bottom rope strand, Garza declined to give him a count and in fact helped him back into the ring, but no sooner had the referee wiped off the gloves than a Hearns left knocked his foe right back from where he had come. This time, with Smallwood once again precariously perched on the apron with only his feet still in the ring, Garza halted the one-sided slaughter at 2:55 of the round. Hearns went to 9-0 in his DiBella debut, while Smallwood fell to 4-3-2
When Dominick Guinn dropped Zack Page with a left hook late in the first round, it appeared he might make an early night of it, but the Arkansas heavyweight quickly regressed into his all-too-familiar listless mode. Page not only clawed his way back into the fight, but won it on the card of one ringside judge (Fields; 76-75). That verdict was offset by the other two officials, as David Sutherland scored it 77-74 and Van Hoy an unconscionable 79-72, allowing Guinn to escape with a split decision. Guinn is now 27-4-1, Page 11-9-1.
It was also a pretty good night for the Fighting Smiths of Little Rock. Heavyweight Terry Smith had to work for it, but came up on the right end of a unanimous decision over his much larger opponent, 256-pound Georgian Ramon Hayes. Smith (29-2-1) won by scores of 79-73 on the cards of judges Fields and Bill Morrison, 78-74 on Sutherland’s. Although there were no knockdowns, Hayes (15-22-1) made sure Smith knew he’d been in fight. The hometowner was puffy around both eyes from the third round on.
In another early Smith bout, light-heavyweight Ray Smith (6-0, and unrelated to Terry) won a unanimous decision over Pennsylvania journeyman Randy Pogue (8-6-1), with each of the three judges -- Fields, Morrison, and Sutherland -- scoring it 40-36 for Smith.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark.
December 9, 2006
MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Jermain Taylor, 159½, Little Rock, Ark. dec. Kassim Ouma, 158¾, Kampala, Uganda (12) (Retains WBC, WBO, and WBA ‘super’ titles)
HEAVYWEIGHTS: Dominick Guinn, 229, Hot Springs, Ark. dec. Zack Page, 203¼, Warren, Ohio (8)
Terry Smith, 225 ¾, Little Rock, Ark. dec. Ramon Hayes, 256¼, Athens, Ga. (8)
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS: Ray Smith, 175½, Little Rock, Ark. dec. Randy Pogue, 175¼, Norristown, Pa. (4)
Jaidon Codrington, 173½, Bridgeport, Conn. dec. Thomas Reid, 174, Jackson, Tenn. (6)
SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Ronald Hearns, 163½, Detroit, Mich. TKO’d Robert Smallwood, 164¼, St. Joseph, Mo. (1)
WELTERWEIGHTS: Andre Berto, 146¼, Winter Haven, Fla. TKO’d Miguel FIguereoa, 146¾, Camden, NJ (6)
JUNIOR WELTERS: Emanuel Augustus, 138 ½, Brownsville, Tex. dec. Russell Jones, 140, Denver, Colo. (10) (Wins vacant WBC Continental Americas title)
Written by Robert Ecksel
Saturday, 09 December 2006 19:00
I spoke with Lamon Brewster last week to get a medical update and a sense of where he goes from here.
“I had a detached retina,” Brewster told TSS, “and I had to follow the doctor’s orders until I got better. And now I’m better, so I want to get my title back.”
Brewster was promoted by Don King, but all things must pass and now he is a free agent. I asked Brewster how he goes about getting the world’s attention back again, especially without DK cheerleading in his corner.
“You gotta understand,” said Brewster. “Don doesn’t throw the punches. I throw the punches. People like what they see? That was Lamon Brewster.”
Brewster is back in the gym and will be training with Buddy McGirt. I asked if there is a timetable for his return, and Brewster said, “I’m looking to crawl back in the ring in February or March the latest.”
Maybe a tune-up isn’t in the cards, but getting it on with one of the titleholders right out of the gate might not be the wisest first move to make.
“I would,” Brewster asserted, “however it comes. I just want to fight and regain the title. Being a champion and having lost my title, it’s the hunger that’s insatiable, I have to eat. So a tune-up is only gonna anger me, for whoever I fight.”
I remember seeing Brewster here and there in the glory days, which feels both like yesterday and a long ago time ago. I saw him in Canastota where was an honored guest at the International Boxing Hall of Fame, feted as only the heavyweight champion of the world deserves to be. I also saw Brewster riding shotgun, so to speak, alongside Don King when the maestro was roasted by the Friars here in New York City. That was some show. It was emceed by Donald Trump and attended by a gaggle of luminaries. And Lamon Brewster, at least to these prying eyes, looked like the happiest man on earth (which is saying something since he was standing next to Don King). Happy though he may have appeared, Brewster also looked puffy, overweight, slightly tired, maybe even a little wired by the nonstop flashbulb of celebrity glitz. I shared these impressions with Brewster, and told him, “I was watching all this and kept thinking: I’ve seen this somewhere before.” Brewster got it and laughed. “Don being Don,” I said, “and all things being equal, I spotted trouble a mile ahead in advance.”
Brewster laughed again. “The one thing I have to say is, I’m a believer in God, and I just believe that everything I’m going to go through in life, for better or for worse, I believe it’s already been done, according to God. I’m just living through it,” Brewster testified. “They said God makes everything for bad He makes for good, and my mother always used to say, ‘no struggle, no progress,’ so it was a nice ride that I had with Don, and I’m grateful to be able to fight and gain my title the way I did, and now I’m looking for bigger and better things. I plan on giving everybody exactly what they want. I had to come to terms with a few things about myself, my transition from a boxer into a fighter, and now that I buried the boxer, I’m 100 percent fighter, and if the crowd really thought they liked me then, wait till they see me now.”
It sounds like Brewster is hungry, but not necessarily for food.
“I’m bringing something new to the table,” he said. “It’s going to be a whole new day.”
Before letting Brewster go, I asked if he’d had a chance to see Liakhovich-Briggs, in which I figured he had more than a passing interest.
“I did not get to see it because I was at the Floyd fight unfortunately, but I heard he won the fight in the last round, in the last few seconds of the round. But you know, that’s why they say it’s boxing: it ain’t over till it’s over, it’s one of the things that happens. I think Liakhovich is a good fighter, and that was the reason why I fought him, but he doesn’t have anything to be ashamed of. This is boxing and he fought Shannon Briggs and anything could have happened, and it did, and he is still a terrific fighter. He can’t get down on his self,” Brewster said. “He can only pick the pieces up and try to get back on the warpath.”
Written by Robert Cassidy Jr.
Saturday, 09 December 2006 19:00
That’s how long it took Vasquez to dismantle Drexie James. Before you roll your eyes and think that you’ve seen this before, think again. Indeed, many a prospect is fed a sacrificial pug for his debut. Not so here.
Although inactive since August of 2004, Drexie James stepped into the Long Island ring with 15 pro fights. His record was 8-7 (4 KOs) and much of the competition had been stiff. He had been stopped by Malik Scott, Eliseo Castillo and Dominick Guinn. But in 2001, he knocked out U.S. Olympian Michael Bennett in the first round.
That was enough to make the card’s promoter Bob Duffy nervous. Prior to the opening bell, Duffy sat in the press section and said. “This fight scares me.”
It didn’t scare Vasquez. The former Olympian entered the ring calm and composed. He wasn’t anxious nor was he reckless in his approach. He fought as if the heavyweight championship of the world was his birthright. This is a man who believes in himself. Or more precisely, in his left hook.
There were a few awkward moments as the heavyweights felt each other out for a minute or so and then -- BOOM -- Welcome to pro boxing! James drove a stiff right hand to the jaw of Vasquez.
Nothing. Nada. Zip.
The fight didn’t last much longer. Vasquez waded in and ripped a left hook that felled James in a neutral corner. The fighter made it to his feet, but not for long. Vasquez stepped forward and snapped a brutally efficient, thudding combination and James fell again. This time referee Wayne Kelly stopped the fight without a count.
Randy Gordon, a longtime boxing observer serving in the capacity of ring announcer on this night, turned and mouthed a single word: “Wow.”
When Vasquez arrived back in his dressing room, several of his handlers were arguing over who was going to keep the gloves from his pro debut. They all think this kid has a future and now they are not alone with such thoughts.
“It feels like just another fight,” said Vasquez. “I understand that it is my pro debut, but to me, it’s just another fight.”
Confidence is not something that Vasquez lacks. He is being promoted by DRL -- Dan Wise, Roberto Duran and Luis DeCubas and is managed by Luis DeCubas Jr. The fighter was asked if he was concerned about his opponent’s experience.
DeCubas, standing off to the side, chuckled. “He didn’t even know the guy’s name.”
When the question was translated into Spanish, the fighter smiled. “I didn’t know anything about him. I’m not afraid of anyone. I’m not even afraid of the devil.”
Vasquez, a tall and thickly muscled heavyweight, represented Venezuela at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. He reached the quarterfinals before losing a 24-4 decision to Cuba ’s Odlanier Solis, the eventual Gold medal winner in the heavyweight division.
“Bring him over from Cuba on a raft,” said Vasquez. “There is no running, no tapping here. This is professional boxing. I understand that he’s a great amateur but this is a different game. Bring him here, I want a piece of him. He’ll fall worse than this one.”
Little is known about Vasquez and DeCubas Jr. described him as a boxer-puncher who can box like Muhammad Ali. He paused a second and added, “But tonight was more like a Sonny Liston night.”
Vasquez does have a Liston-type physique but he is far more approachable than the sullen former champion. Unless, of course, you are wearing trunks and gloves. It was that flash of power, though, that got DeCubas interested in the Venezuelan fighter. He’ll return to the ring on January 26th on an ESPN card from Mohegan Sun.
Vasquez already understands the importance of having guys like Duran and DeCubas in his corner.
“I’m with the cream of the crop,” said Vasquez. “I can’t feel any bigger. I feel like a king.”
On this night, he looked like a king. A future king.
Written by Robert Mladinich
Saturday, 09 December 2006 19:00
“He appeared nearly square, his legs two broomsticks jammed into a vertical hay bale. His thick-lipped mouth, partially open as if to persuade flies to visit, looked more comfortable turned around the boiling stem of a cigar.”
Monninger also recounts a conversation between former heavyweight champion Gene Tunney and New Jersey boxing commissioner Abe Green. Commenting on Galento’s dietary habits, they said something to the effect of, “three chickens, as many vegetables as could feed a family of five, milk, dessert, and occasionally up to 50 glasses of beer.”
Oddly enough, according to Monninger, Galento’s nickname was not derived from his beer-barrel shaped torso. He subsidized his boxing career by delivering ice. One day, when he was late arriving late for a bout, he told his frantic manager that he’d just delivered two tons of ice. In the parlance of the day, Galento was an “ice man.”
The moniker would last until his death, which came in 1979 from complications brought on by diabetes.
In June 1939, Galento, who was coming off of 11 straight knockout victories, challenged Joe Louis for the heavyweight title at Yankee Stadium.
Although most people expected Louis to win, the colorful Galento had the nation’s interest. A native of Newark, New Jersey, he owned a tavern in nearby Orange. But his popularity did not begin and end in his home state.
At a time when boxing was the most popular sport in the United States, Galento, the son of Italian immigrant parents who, when asked how he would fare against Louis, said, “I’ll moida the bum,” certainly had his own identity.
Although short and squat and in no way resembling a world-class athlete, Galento’s pulverizing power had garnered him the nickname “The New Jersey Nightstick.”
Monninger entertainingly chronicles Galento’s career, while also examining the state of the nation in the post-Depression years before World War II.
The social forces that made Galento such a mythological character are recounted with great skill by the extremely talented Monninger, the author of eight novels and two memoirs, and a two-time recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Most armchair historians remember Galento for his catchy nickname and his memorable phrase about what he’d do to Louis. They also can’t forget the fact that, even after absorbing a tremendous beating, he knocked the great Louis down in the third round before being stopped in the fourth.
What Monninger brings out so eloquently is the fact that the fight itself has a lot more sociological significance than one might expect.
“The theme played over and over in papers and on radio broadcasts,” writes Monninger. “It was an American theme about overlooked champions, men and women who, under different circumstances, better handling, smarter moves, might have achieved something memorable.
“Coming as it did at the bitter end of the Depression, readers and listeners understood it intuitively,” he continued. “Perhaps it was fantasy, because Tony, like others, had lived his fate and made his own poor calculations. And maybe only his left hand had brought the matter to anyone’s attention, a lucky blow, perhaps, or the diminished greatness of a fighter whose heart surprised all who counted him out beforehand.
“One punch had slipped through the Brown Bomber’s superior artfulness, and Tony Galento followed it into the darkness he nearly brought to his opponent, and became in that instant another near success.”
Galento boxed professionally from 1928-44. Known as an extremely dirty fighter who would thumb, gouge, head-butt and elbow his opponents, he amassed a record of 79-26-5 (56 KOS).
Early in his career, in 1931 in Detroit, Galento beat three inexperienced opponents in one night. Between bouts, he guzzled beer. One of his opponents, Paul Thierman, who went three full rounds with Galento, had also scored a knockout and a decision on the same card.
Galento’s 14th round stoppage of Lou Nova, in the bout immediately after his fight with Louis, is still considered one of the dirtiest fights in history. Galento also lost
Back to back bouts to brothers Max and Buddy Baer at the tail end of his career.
Over the years, Galento’s reputation has softened a bit. In boxing it is easy to cast such characters as unique, lovable rogues. The truth was, his corner man, the inherently decent Ray Arcel, once said, “Nobody really liked him, except maybe the guys who hung out in his saloon. He was a crude guy, to put it mildly, who would resort to all sorts of foul tactics to win a fight.”
Even Louis, who rarely if ever spoke ill of his opponents, would criticize Galento for his insults and race-baiting. Monninger writes that in the weeks leading up to the Louis fight, Galento, while “alone and late at night,” often dialed the champ’s number at his Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, training camp.
“He called Louis every name in the book, questioned his manhood, talked about his race, made sexual references about Marva, Louis’s wife.”
Years later Galento apologized to Louis for those actions and the always gracious Louis accepted it. But, concluded Monninger, “at the time the phone calls and mocking served as bluster to cover Galento’s own insecurity.”
Like so many other fighters of the era, Galento, who once boxed a bear and a kangaroo, began wrestling when his career was over. Besides grappling with humans, he also wrestled an octopus in Seattle.
He ran his tavern for many years, tried stand-up comedy, and appeared in several films, including “Guys and Dolls” and “On the Waterfront.”
As a publicity stunt, he once campaigned for president as a representative of the Prohibition Party. During a parking altercation outside his bar he was hit over the head by a policeman’s nightstick after the cop claimed Galento threw a right hand at him.
Galento said he was being “persecuted for being famous, and that he put Orange on the map.”
On another occasion he was heckling comedian Jackie Gleason during Gleason’s nightclub act. As fat as Gleason was, he could handle himself in a street fight. Mistaking Galento for a blowhard drunk, he asked him to step outside.
Gleason threw a punch, but Galento’s landed first. Even if he’d been able to, Gleason was in no rush to get up.
Monninger doesn’t cast any aspersions on Galento’s character. He writes about Louis, Galento, their battle, and the time in which they lived without rancor and with great honesty.
If one didn’t know any better, they would think that the author actually lived during those times.
Recounting that the newspapers of the day described Galento as “the clown who fought like a hero,” Monninger glowingly, vividly and inspiringly recounts that “a moment, and an era reminds us that sometimes it is through effort, exceeding expectations and beating the odds, that people can most enduringly define themselves.”
For all of two seconds, as Louis lay on the canvas, Galento was, for all intents and purposes, the heavyweight champion of the world. Sadly, he never got the chance to land that second punch.
This wonderful book will exceed any reader’s expectations. Pulling you in from the first page of the preface, it never stops packing the same wallop that would have been contained in a follow-up left hook by Galento.
Written by Aaron Tallent
Saturday, 09 December 2006 19:00
“I hope you guys will look at me after this performance and have a little more respect if you didn’t already before,” said Cabell. “I fought my heart out.”
Lange came into the bout with Angelo Dundee, Buddy McGirt, and Tommy Gallagher in his corner. He was coming off a 10th-round knockout of Thomas Wilt. Coincidentally, Cabell’s last win was a majority decision over Wilt.
Both fighters started the bout tentatively with Lange occasionally firing his jab with minimal success and Cabell throwing power shots with no success.
Round two would set the tone for the rest of the fight. Both fighters came out throwing bombs and fighting inside. In the melee of those exchanges, both fighters injured their right hands. When exactly that happened remains unclear, even to Lange.
“Maybe we hit each other’s hands,” he joked.
Also in the second round, an accidental Cabell headbutt during an entanglement opened a cut on the left side of Lange’s head. By the middle of the round, a stream of blood ran down the side of his face. Fortunately for Lange, cutman Jimmy Glenn was able to close the wound.
“As far as I am concerned, Jimmy Glenn is magic,” said Lange. “I wasn’t even sure if it was a cut. I saw some blood, but that’s boxing. That’s nothing.”
From then on, the bout was often a tale of two jabs. Lange landed his jab with ease throughout good portions of the fight, keeping Cabell at bay and off balance. However, he was never able to follow through with his right, and it allowed Cabell to come back with solitary shots of his own. Rounds six through eight belonged to Cabell, who despite the lack of combinations, was able to land two clean left hooks in round six, a rare right in the seventh, and a plethora of jabs in the eighth.
Lange responded in the tenth, landing a vicious right that sent Cabell into the corner and regularly landing his jab throughout the bout. He managed to keep Cabell at bay for most of the 11th, but Cabell was able to break through midway through the round and land a flurry of punches.
Both fighters stuck and moved early in the 12th round, before Lange began to continuously charge. He would swarm in and land body shots until Cabell would break away. However, Cabell was able to sidestep one of Lange’s rushes and counter with an overhand right. The bout ended with Lange pressing forward.
“That 12th round, [Lange] came out like a true warrior,” said Cabell. “I think if I had worked harder, I probably would have gotten decision but Jimmy Lange worked hard that last round with the crowd behind him.”
Exactly who won every other round except the 12th is debatable. Judge Greg Coleman scored the bout 117-111 in favor of Lange, Judge Phil Kornberg called it 116-112 for Cabell, and Judge Vaughn LaPrade tallied it 114-114.
“We’re all human. To err is human,” said Dundee. “There were a couple of human people out there last night. What are you going to do? This is boxing.”
Both fighters say they are very open to a rematch.
“It was a hell of a fight,” said Lange. “I’d love to do it again.”
On the undercard, former WBO Cruiserweight champion Boone Pultz (25-1) won a unanimous decision over Alonzo Cutchin (7-15). Pultz had reentered the ring as a heavyweight at the age of 47 after an 11-year absence. The fight featured a great deal of clinching as Pultz would find himself entangled with Cutchin every time he would fight inside. The muddling and hugging was so bad in the second round that each fighter bull-rushed the other to the canvas. However, of the landed punches, Pultz threw an overwhelming majority of them. The final scorecards read 59-55, 60-54, and 60-54, all in favor of Pultz. It was no shock to anyone, including Pultz, that his return was a bit sluggish.
“I’m at least six months away from being in great shape,” said Pultz. “But it’s a process. It takes time. If you wait to get in shape, it may never happen. But you can fight your way to shape.”
Pultz said he had only spent about three weeks in the gym before facing Cutchin. He plans to return to the ring in late January of next year.
In the co-main event, light welterweight Dean White (14-5-1) bested Dorin Spivey (34-5) by unanimous decision in a brutal rematch. The two first faced each other in 1998, with Spivey scoring a seventh-round stoppage. In the meantime, White took a five year layoff from boxing before returning to the ring in 2005. Their rematch featured plenty of brawling flurries of punches for eight straight rounds, but White, a southpaw, consistently landed straight shots throughout the fight. The intensity of the bout earned both fighters a standing ovation when the final bell sounded. In the end, the judges all scored the bout 77-75 in favor of White.
Also on the card, junior welterweight Andrew Farmer (4-1) suffered the first blemish of his career, losing a majority decision to Ken Humphrey (3-2). Farmer easily won the first two rounds, but his fortunes changed when Humphrey decked him in the third.
Junior welterweight Jaime Palma (10-10) scored a split decision victory over Reggie Sanders (12-37-4) and light heavyweight Reggie LeCrete improved his record to 2-0 with a decision over William Bailey (5-12-2).
Written by David A. Avila
Friday, 08 December 2006 19:00
Middleweight king Taylor, a native of Arkansas, meets Kassim Ouma (25-2-1, 15 KOs) at the Alltel Arena in Little Rock on Saturday Dec. 9. The world championship showdown will be televised by HBO.
The Razorback looks to quench the fire with another victory over a former world champion. Of his last six opponents, five have held world titles. Yet, critics are still not convinced of his talent.
“He has a lot more talent than I thought he had in the past,” said Emanuel Steward, who began training Taylor in his last fight. “He never fluidly put punches together in combinations. But I think he’s doing that now.”
Despite the lack of fluidity and skills, Taylor has used his strength, speed and toughness to maintain his undefeated record against two prizefighters who are sure to be enshrined in the boxing Hall of Fame when they conclude their careers: Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright.
“I learned a lot from fighting those guys,” said Taylor (25-0, 17 KOs), who broke Hopkins consecutive world title defense string at 20. “It’s exciting.”
After the 2000 Olympics, Taylor jumped into the professional ranks and bludgeoned his way through the middleweight rankings with a combination of unrelenting power and verve. Few could withstand the Razorback’s intense will.
“I think Jermain is one of the best athletes in all of boxing,” says Lou DiBella, a boxing promoter who has guided Taylor’s career the past five years.
Now Taylor, 28, faces his sixth world champion in Africa’s Ouma, a quick pressure fighter whose southpaw style gives opponents fits.
“His pressure is all he knows,” said Taylor of Ouma. “Once he feels my power he’s not going to want to do that.”
Power is Taylor’s game at this point of his career. Usually fighters who are power-crazy meet their Waterloo against the more skillful and experienced opponents. But it hasn’t happened yet.
Taylor’s ability to overcome Hopkins and Wright has experts scratching their heads. One can only imagine that the Arkansas fighter who was discovered in a small Little Rock boxing club years ago will only get better.
“His speed and talent are coming out. He’s looking more like a seasoned fighter,” said Steward, who’s guided fighters to championships such as Tommy Hearns, Hilmer Kenty and Wladimir Klitschko. “I’m very impressed with what I see.”
Cotto, Margarito and Winky Too
Middleweights and welterweights took center stage this past weekend with big fight cards simultaneously occurring in Atlantic City and Tampa.
First, the most surprising event was Miguel Cotto conducting interviews in English. He was impeccable. Then, in the ring, he resumed the same impeccability with a five round destruction of former undefeated Puerto Rican southpaw Carlos Quintana.
“I never knew he was that fast,” said Quintana who decided at the end of the fifth round that he could not beat Cotto after suffering two knockdowns.
Cotto seemed quicker and stronger than during his junior welterweight ventures.
“This is where I belong,” Cotto said.
Tijuana’s Antonio Margarito had a rough time with Joshua Clottey until the African fighter injured his left hand in the fourth round. Then he mounted a tenacious attack that did not stop until the final bell rang in the 12th round.
“I was a little off my rhythm,” said Margarito who has the WBO welterweight title.
One other thing, he looked very tentative on his right leg. He rarely was able to extend it while punching. He took a big chance in fighting the rough Clottey despite spraining his right ankle a few weeks ago.
After Margarito injured it, his team said he was still going to fight on that bad right ankle. I could see that he couldn’t plant it correctly for leverage on his punches. He could punch at close range, but at a distance he was like a man on ice with no skates. All you boxers, or athletes for that matter, know that having a bad ankle can hinder you. It was a big chance Margarito took stepping inside the ropes to face the likes of Clottey. That guy was no joke.
Perhaps Margarito’s lukewarm showing will enable him to get the bigger fights.
Down in Florida, Winky Wright fought former stablemate Ike Quartey and handily beat the former welterweight champion after 12 rounds.
Wright tossed away his defense first armor that has taken him to the top of the boxing world. The southpaw defensive wizard displayed his new offensive style that allowed Quartey to take free cracks. But the Ghanaian fighter never could hurt Wright.
“People want to see more action they’re going to get more action,” Wright said before the fight.
Wright now hopes his co-promoting partner Oscar De La Hoya will accept a fight with him.
“If he beats Floyd Mayweather, then I would love to fight Oscar,” said Wright.