Although it wasn’t an official bout, Reid and West showed the crowd of more than 800 that female prizefighters attack whether it’s official or not official in their three round bout.
West, who is rated number six in the world as a bantamweight at 118 pounds, was unsure what to expect from Reid the WIBA flyweight world champion.
“I was surprised a little,” said West (5-0). “I expected her to come forward more, but she moved around.”
Reid, who lives in Las Vegas, used her southpaw stance to fire right hooks against West in the first two rounds. Both traded body shots with Reid using more feints.
“It was a lot of fun to get in the ring with her. I’m used to chasing opponents around. She has a lot of skills,” said Reid (18-3-5) of the 18-year-old West. “She’s going to be a champion some day for a long time.”
West said she was a little nervous facing a world champion for the first time in her career.
“She’s a world champion so I guess I was pretty nervous,” West said. “It wasn’t until late in the second round that I began to feel comfortable and do what I always do -- throw fast punches.”
Jack Mosley, who assisted Juan West in Kaliesha’s corner, said that she had Reid in awe too much before stepping into her regular pace.
“In the last round she began doing what she usually does, that’s throw fast punches,” said Mosley, the father and trainer of Sugar Shane Mosley.
Chris Benn, who trains Reid, said they accepted a fight with the heavier and hard-hitting West because it was a woman fighter.
“Elena only gets to spar against bigger guys. So this was a great opportunity to fight someone with a lot of experience and skill like Kaliesha West,” said Benn. “I say she has a lot of experience because she fought for years as an amateur. That’s where she gets her skills.”
The judges did not score the bout but fans got to see Reid perform for the first time in California. She expects to defend her title in February, perhaps in California again. One of the names mentioned is Wendy Rodriguez, who holds the junior flyweight world title.
In the main event, Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis (6-1-1) used his quicker hand and foot speed to out-distance Oxnard’s Leonel Madrigal (5-4) in a six-round welterweight contest.
Pendarvis, whose boxing style resembles Floyd Mayweather Jr. but in a left-handed stance, began the fight with a lightning fast right jab. He used it for most of the round but Madrigal landed a stiff left hand when he switched to a southpaw stance too.
It was hit and move for Pendarvis, who held when the distance was too close. Madrigal, though willing, just couldn’t muster enough offense to win rounds. Even though Pendarvis remained stationary far too long, Madrigal couldn’t click into attack mode. The speed bothered the Oxnard fighter for all six rounds.
The judges scored it 60-54, 59-55 twice for Pendarvis.
Oxnard’s Miguel Angel Garcia (4-0, 3 KOs) didn’t waste any openings in demolishing Arizona’s Baladan Treviso (5-10-6) in 2:18 of the first round of a featherweight bout. A left hook stunned Baladan and a right connected that took the legs from the Arizonan. Garcia coolly fired several short bursts that had Baladan reeling. Referee Raul Caiz Jr. saw enough to realize it was a mismatch and wisely stopped the fight.
A lightweight bout between Oxnard’s David Rodela (6-1-3) and David Hernandez (4-4-3) ended in a draw after six rounds. It was Rodela’s second consecutive draw.
Daniel Quevedo (4-4-1) proved too strong for Jerry Pavich (2-3-1) in a junior bantamweight bout and scored a fourth round knockout with a sizzling right hand. Right from the start Quevedo seemed much bigger than Pavich who usually fights at a lower weight. By the second round it was evident that Quevedo hurt Pavich with every punch he landed, especially the uppercuts. But it was a stinging right counter that dropped Pavich in the fourth for the first knockdown. The High Desert fighter attempted to use his legs to keep out of danger but the previous knockdown seemed to short-circuit them. Quevedo unloaded a flurry of punches that snapped Pavich’s head back. Referee David Denkin stopped the fight at 1:50 of the last round.
Originally scheduled for 1 pm, yesterday’s weigh-in was rescheduled for 4:00 after the World Boxing Council notified the Arkansas Commission that the organization’s guidelines required that the ritual take place no more than 30 hours in advance of the scheduled title fight.
The widespread impression had been that the commission had bowed to the wishes of promoter Lou DiBella in scheduling the early weigh-in, but Arkansas chairman Gary Heral insisted that his body wasn’t trying to help stack the deck for Taylor.
“We had been under the impression that the rule allowed for 36 hours, but it turned out that was the old rule,” said Heral. “We certainly didn’t want to give the impression that we were being favorable to either of the participants.”
After Taylor made the weight with ease, there followed a few anxious moments in which Ouma failed to materialize. The Ugandan challenger showed up only a few minutes late, but since by then Taylor had already fled in search of sustenance, waiting photographers were unable to capture any traditional nose-to-nose weigh-in posturing.
Ouma, whose arrival was delayed because he was being examined by a commission doctor, weighed 158¾, easily the heaviest he has ever been for a professional bout.
Although all of Taylor’s titles (he also holds the WBO 160-pound belt, in addition to being recognized as the WBA ‘super-champion’) will be on the line Saturday night at the Alltel Arena, the WBC is the lead sanctioning body, appointing the officials as well as implementing the first-ever US test of the organization’s new system of modified open scoring.
The running tallies of the ringside judges will be announced after the fourth and eighth rounds -- if the fight lasts that long.
The trio of Tom Kaczmarek, Sergio Silvi, and Jack Woodburn will judge Taylor-Ouma, as well as the Emanuel Augustus-Russell Jones undercard fight, in which the coveted WBC Continental Americas junior welterweight title will be at stake.
Silvi is Italian, Woodburn from Canada. The WBC had initially appointed Harold Laurens of Curacao to the panel, but when Homeland Security failed to approve Laurens’ visa, the veteran Kaczmarek was summoned from New Jersey.
Michigan referee Frank Garza will be the third man in the ring for the championship fight, as well as for Augustus-Jones. Laurence Cole of Texas has been appointed to work several undercard bouts, somewhat to the chagrin of Gary Heral.
“If I had realized at the time he was the same referee who worked the Marquez-Jaca fight two weeks ago I never would have approved him,” said the Arkansas commission chairman.
After Marquez was cut in that WBO featherweight title bout, Cole employed his own version of Open Scoring, approaching the champion’s corner and (erroneously believing he had covered up the microphone) informed him that he was “ahead on the scorecards,” essentially inviting him to quit and take the technical win. (Marquez, to his credit, didn’t take Cole up on his offer.)
“I was watching that fight on television and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” said Heral. “It was outrageous.”
Promoter DiBella was pressed into service yesterday as the “Duckmaster” at the Little Rock Peabody, the host hotel for the fight. In keeping with a tradition begun at the parent hotel in Memphis, the resident flock of mallards is marched down from their rooftop roost to spend the day in a fountain in the hotel lobby. Armed with a duck-tipped cane, DiBella led the way.
But domesticated ducks are more suggestible than Arkansas fight fans, and the promoter may need to rely on his cane again tomorrow night to bludgeon the locals toward the doors of the Alltel Arena, where the advance sale suggests DiBella could be looking at half a house in the 17,000-seat building. Although Taylor’s hometown fights have done well in the past, tickets for this one were scaled to a $650 top, with tickets in the upper deck still priced at $150.
Before that were vague recollections of Muhammad Ali toying with an overmatched Richard Dunn (my brother had convinced me that Dunn had a chance) and Ken Norton destroying Duane Bobick.
Then began the classic era of the welterweights -- Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran, Pipino Cuevas, Wilfred Benitez -- and a love affair officially had begun.
It was later that I discovered that my passion for pugilism had deeper roots.
Once or twice a year, I'd go to Carrizozo, N.M., to visit my grandfather, Jose "Pete" Aguilar. A hard-nosed railroad worker and a World War II vet who served honorably in the South Pacific, my "Grampo" shared my love for the fight game. Like me, he'd always have boxing magazines lying around the house. "The Ring." "KO Magazine." Whatever. If it had to do with boxing, he read it religiously. Just like me.
We'd talk about some of the past and contemporary stars: Bobby Chacon, Oscar De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas, Erik Morales. He liked the sluggers. The guys who came to fight. The guys who'd take three or four punches to land one.
Those slick, dancer types? Eh, not so much. But it really didn't matter.
If there was a fight on, he watched.
Just like me.
Boxing was our connection. It was that thing that sliced right through any generation gap and got us to talking freely with one another.
He had HBO. He had Showtime. He'd order pay-per-view -- the price didn't much matter. Just like me.
A couple years ago, I took a bag full of boxing tapes to Carrizozo, probably 30-50 fights, featuring every big-name boxer from the last 20 years. I thought we could watch one together. His choice, of course.
He picked Chacon vs. Cornelius Boza-Edwards II, from 1983.
We watched it with my dad and brother. We oohed and aahed like it was live -- and maybe drank a little whiskey.
I've learned that life doesn't get much better.
I left that bag of tapes with my Grampo. A few years back, I gave him my credential from the De La Hoya-Shane Mosley rematch in Las Vegas.
In my mind, they were the most appropriate kind of gifts, because it had to do with boxing -- which we both loved.
My Grampo passed away Tuesday. He was 88. You're never quite prepared for it. You think strong men like him live forever. It hit me like a Cuevas left hook to the liver.
I have a lot to thank him for. Like fighting in the war, and providing me and my fellow journalists freedom to do our jobs. And for teaching his grandkids to go to work everyday and do their jobs with honesty and integrity.
But I'm also grateful to him for giving me his appreciation for the sweet science, a sport that I love -- and a sport by which I ultimately made my living.
There should be no second-guessing this year's class of inductees to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. With Roberto Duran, Pernell Whitaker and Ricardo Lopez leading the way, the class of '07 is clearly among the best in recent years.
But here is the best news. Amilcar Brusa and Cuco Conde are among the enshrinees.
Now, here is the bad news. Jose Sulaiman will also be inducted.
Considering that many people in the boxing business associate the proliferation of sanctioning bodies with the decline of the sport, I find it amazing that Sulaiman was even considered. A press release stated that he was responsible for reducing world title fights from 15 rounds to 12. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing for boxing can be debated vigorously. So too can the convenient fact that a 12-round fight fit nicely into a one-hour time slot for the networks that televised his organization's title bouts on Saturday afternoons.
I usually prefer to see the glass half-full, so I will reserve my contempt for the Sulaiman vote for another column.
Why ruin the fun for Brusa?
Perhaps it was the magnificent run of Carlos Baldomir that brought Brusa back to the forefront of boxing. Brusa is to Argentina what Eddie Futch was to America. He trained the great Carlos Monzon and 12 other world champions, including Miguel Angel Cuello, Antonio Esparragoza, Rafael Pineda and Miguel Lora.
“This is a great honor for me," said Brusa. "I’m also honored to follow into the Hall of Fame the boxer I prepared to win the world middleweight championship, Carlos Monzon. He was great and he made me famous.”
In a release issued by the Hall of Fame, current WBC junior middleweight champion Oscar de la Hoya said this about Brusa, "One of our all-time great trainers that the sport has had the privilege of having. Still today a lot of champions look for his guidance and expertise. He will always be considered one of the great trainers to be involved in the sport of boxing."
Few people, though, outside of Miami, will speak about Conde, who will be inducted posthumously. He was born in Cuba and got out of the country just before Fidel Castro's revolution gripped the island. He was a sports journalist in Havana, writing about the island's twin passions, boxing and baseball. He was also a baseball broadcaster and was featured in a set of Cuban baseball cards in 1947.
Conde was instrumental in helping many Cuban fighters establish themselves here and in Mexico once they fled the country. He worked with Cuban Hall-of-Famers Jose Napoles and Ultiminio Rojas.
Duran, Lopez and Whitaker were each selected in their first year of eligibility and each is worthy of such a distinction. They combine to hold 10 world titles.
We know plenty of Duran and Whitaker, but Lopez had a record of 51-0-1 and is perhaps the most dominant fighter under a 112 pounds in the history of the sport. The lone blemish -- a technical draw -- came in a 1998 unification bout with Rosendo Alvarez when an accidental head butt stopped the bout.
The other living inductee is artist LeRoy Neiman in the observer category.
The Hall of Fame released the names of additional posthumous honorees: Heavyweight George Godfrey, lightweight Pedro Montanez, and light heavyweight Kid Norfolk in the Old-Timer Category; manager / matchmaker Cuco Conde in the Non-Participant Category; newspaper cartoonist TAD Dorgan in the Observer Category; and Young Barney Aaron and Dick Curtis in the Pioneer Category. Inductees were voted in by members of the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians.
The 18th Annual Hall of Fame Weekend is scheduled for June 7-10th in Canastota, NY.
Jermain Taylor has a lot of practice beating smaller opponents. A naturally big middleweight, Taylor’s physical advantages over Kassim Ouma will be enhanced by the misguided decision of the WBC to hold the weigh-in for their title fight at 1 p.m. on Friday. According to the WBC rules, "[t]he weigh-in ceremony shall be held from 24 to 30 hours prior to the start of the boxing event." Taylor-Ouma, the second fight on HBO’s telecast Saturday night, should begin at around 11 p.m., a full 34 hours after the scheduled weigh-in. The Arkansas State Athletic Commission apparently has no quarrel with its hometown hero having extra hours to replenish his body. Ouma, a natural junior middleweight who will give away 5 inches and many pounds to the WBC champion, will work relentlessly to apply pressure on the inside, but in the end it won’t be enough to break down the bigger man. Taylor retains his title by decision. David Berlin
Ouma is a VERY small middleweight who's spent a career at light-middle. Couple this with the fact that his chin doesn't appear very solid; he was flattened in one round by Agustin Silva who's currently 12-24-2 (5) -- Ouma was knocked down three times. He's also been shot (twice, once recently) and it was alleged in the shooter's trial that Ouma was renown for heavy drinking. In the other corner, he's facing Jermain Taylor, a huge middleweight with power to match who's looking at the big fights. Ouma may have been a champion but he's been handpicked to make Taylor look good. Think Ali-Williams except that this time the big fella is going to win. Peter M. Carvill
I like Jermain Taylor in this one. Too big and too strong for Ouma who usually fights at 154. Taylor by 7th round TKO. Ralph Gonzalez
Jermain Taylor will not find victory so easy over Ouma. Ouma has faced harder battles in just getting to this point in his life than fighting Jermain Taylor. If Taylor wins, it will be a narrow victory. Amy Green
Jermain Taylor will have had Manny Steward telling him over and over to keep up the jab and let the power flow FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE RING and stay off the ropes. Had he followed that advice, Steward's plea over the last 6 rounds against Winky, he'd have secured that win already. Look for Ouma to go from busy to brave after about round six and frankly the fight may not go six. Taylor must be on a mission; one can only hope he understands that the dimming light of his stardom is about to cast shadows of doubt. Against a guy who will be there to hit and hurt all night, Taylor must prove he's not just nodding respectively and ignoring the legendary trainer from the Kronk... so… let's say Taylor by a knockout in 8 and it will come via a good night's body attack, should it come, as a major relief to Team Taylor. Talk about a guy with a title who needs a knockout!" Taylor KO8 Ouma Patrick Kehoe
The 155 he weighed for Sechew Powell last summer matched Ouma’s career high. Jermain appears headed to super-middleweight next year, and with a 30-hour head start provided by the convenient weigh-in time, Kassim could be spotting him a dozen pounds or more when they get into the ring. Taylor would be favored even if they were having this fight in Kampala, and the champion has so many advantages (the hometown crowd; the US debut of the WBC’s new open scoring system) that it’s difficult to give Ouma a chance, and we don’t. Ouma will keep getting up until the referee stops it, but we like Taylor in a mid-round stoppage. George Kimball
Just like the HBO main event last week, this fight is mismatch in terms of sheer size differential. Taylor is too big for Ouma, but expect Kassim, much like Quartey, to keep coming forward for 12 rounds. With the fight being in Taylor's hometown of Little Rock, Ouma has no chance to pull out a decision even if he makes the fight competitive. Taylor UD. Evan Korn
Ouma is tough as nails and a true warrior, but picking Jermain Taylor as his first bout at middleweight seems ill-advised. Ouma is good, Taylor is better, and the odds of -900 on Taylor reflect that. In addition to being the more skilled fighter, Taylor will be fighting in his own backyard, and good big man beats a good littler man. Look for Ouma to do what he does in terms of trying to apply pressure to his taller foe while JT will pepper Ouma with jabs and searing right crosses. The only true question is whether Ouma lasts the distance or not... I think he does. Joey Knish
Taylor is there for the taking but I don’t think Ouma is the one to beat him. Fighting Winky and Bernard will pay dividends in this fight and Taylor will bring it on in the home stretch. Taylor via unanimous decision. Scott Mallon
Ouma will fight strategically, but is far too small and light-hitting to be very competitive. Taylor will look to impress the hometown crowd and will stop Ouma around the seventh round after dispensing a prolonged beating. Taylor TKO 7. Robert Mladinich
Presumably, this fight represents the quiet before the storm. Both Taylor and Wright have been offered fights as close to 'gimmes' as Joe Public would tolerate ahead of their presumed rematch and shared pursuit of fellow attractions in 2007. It's hard not to like Taylor in this fight, I'd like to find a cute, sophisticated and considered reason for a Ouma victory and the subsequent fulfillment there of providing a much needed injection of kudos for this ailing tipster, but I simply cannot. Taylor will win and in a break from the recent trend within the middleweight division, I venture it will be entertaining viewing with the champion finally released from his overcautious shackles sufficiently to overwhelm the game challenger around the 8th or 9th. David Payne
This should be a replay of the Karmazian fight, except Taylor will stop Ouma – probably in the 10th. Taylor’s bigger, faster -- with an even longer reach than Karmazian – and a more versatile offense. Ouma will try to keep leather on Taylor – pressure pressure pressure -- but squares-up too much when he punches and will walk into a straight right, and Taylor will clean up. Joe Rein
Although Taylor might have lost his last three fights, he is too big, strong and powerful for Ouma to knock him out, and there is no way Ouman wins a decision in Arkansas. Ed Schuyler
Kassim Ouma has certainly been a force in the junior middleweight division. However, I cannot see him having the same type of impact in the middleweight ranks, especially with Jermain Taylor and Winky Wright at the top. Taylor by TKO. Aaron Tallent
Connect the dots. Taylor has been fighting head to head with the very best at a higher weight. Ouma has never beaten (or even met) a truly elite foe. Anything might happen, and while it would be nice to see Ouma (a very unknown commodity in many ways) make the journey from Hell to tranquil glory, by most realistic standards the hard working and humble champ should have his first relatively outing in many moons. Taylor TKO 8. Phil Woolever
“I’m looking forward to having my first fight in California,” said Reid. “It’s ironic that it’s taken this long because I only live four hours away.”
The WIBA flyweight champion Reid meets Moreno Valley’s Kaliesha West in a non-title bout at the Florentine Gardens in El Monte on Friday Dec. 8. It figures to be an explosive encounter for both.
West (5-0) has risen quickly through the rankings as a bantamweight contender despite having only five professional bouts, but the speedy female prizefighter has awed the public with her style and aggressiveness.
“This is a great fight,” said West, 18, who recently fought and won three weeks ago in Monterey. “She’s a world champion and I want to be a world champion some day.”
Reid (18-3-5, 5 KOs) says it’s ironic that she’s meeting someone younger than herself.
“I was always the younger fighter whoever I fought,” said Reid, 25, who began her pro boxing career at the same age. “It’s kind of exciting meeting someone who is young and as talented as Kaliesha West. I’ve heard great things about her.”
Because of a dearth of female prizefighters, it’s often difficult to find opponents if you’re highly ranked like West and Reid. Currently the Filipina-American Reid is ranked number one in the world in the 112-pound division. West is ranked number seven in the world in the 118-pound division.
“It’s rare to find someone like Kaliesha who has as much experience in the ring as I do,” said Reid, alluding to West’s extensive amateur career. “The fans are in for a treat.”
Reid broke into the pro ranks in 2000 and quickly became a fan favorite with her aggressive style and strong punching. She was also featured on a popular boxing website where new photos of her were released daily. In a year’s span she became one of the best known female fighters in the world.
“If you’re a boxing fan you know who Elena Reid is,” said Antonio Guevara, who owns a barbershop in San Bernardino. “She’s a real good boxer and one of the prettiest.”
Last year she fought for the second time against Germany’s Regina Halmich for the world title and lost a close decision. A year earlier she fought to a draw and captured the hearts of the German fans with her good looks and fearless boxing style.
“I never worry about my looks,” said Reid. “I’m a boxer first. This is what I do.”
Wherever she goes autograph hounds surround her. For a year European journalists called her daily to find out more about her background.
“They were so nice to me,” said Reid, whose almond-shaped eyes and ready smile were seen regularly on European television. “It was a very nice experience.”
The European exposure was welcome by Reid, but it was winning a world title that she sought the most. Last August, she met Mary Ortega for the WIBA flyweight world title and emerged triumphant after two close defeats to Halmich.
“Winning the world title is great, but now I want to defend it,” said Reid, who lives in Las Vegas but originally grew up in Phoenix. “My goal is to fight the best.”
Her opponent, West, has rocketed up the rankings despite only five professional fights. Last month she beat eight-time National amateur champion Stella Nijhof by unanimous decision. The Moreno Valley resident has lofty goals.
“When they asked me if I wanted to fight Elena Reid I said of course,” said West, who is trained and managed by her father Juan West. “This is how you get better by fighting world champions like Elena Reid.”
Both Reid and West have not spent time picking and choosing opponents. Whoever wanted to fight them suits them fine.
“I love to fight,” said West.
Reid says it’s an honor to fight the best.
“I can’t understand other fighters who only want to fight somebody they know they can beat,” said Reid. “I’m a boxer. This is the career I’ve chosen.”
Other bouts on the card feature Cleotis Pendarvis meeting Leonel Madrigal in a welterweight contest; Miguel Angel Garcia and Baladan Treviso in a featherweight bout; and several other bouts, including a match for David Rodela.
For tickets and information call All Star Boxing (323) 781-4871.
Each year before the Christmas holidays, De La Hoya’s foundation sponsors a charity fundraising event to raise money for the disadvantaged in East Los Angeles where the champion prizefighter was born and raised. Millions have been raised from the event.
More than 1,500 showed up at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Wednesday night including George Lopez who emceed the event, Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffin, Rick Fox, Marilu Henner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and many others. Everyone was there to spend their time and money to benefit the foundation that gives money toward numerous charity groups and schools including the Oscar De La Hoya High School students.
Several students were on hand to receive scholarships and recognition.
Perhaps Banderas said it best when he said De La Hoya has shown the way to remember where he came from by doing what he can especially for the children.
Sugar Shane Mosley was on hand with his wife Jin Mosley. Shane gave a toast honoring his former foe and current business partner. Boxing is funny like that. One day they’re both tearing each other apart the next day their toasting each other.
Mosley is getting ready for a return to the welterweight division. Word has it, he has his sights on IBF titleholder Kermit Cintron in February.
“I’ve been working out a bit at Azusa,” Mosley said.
The real work begins after the holidays.
This Saturday, on Dec. 9, Golden Boy Promotions along with the Inner City Games Los Angeles and the Hollenbeck Youth Center will have a Christmas toy give away for children in front of the Hollenbeck Youth Center located at 2015 East 1st Street in Boyle Heights.
If you want to see excitement venture down to East Los Angeles and take a gander at all the happy faces anxious to get their toys and meet De La Hoya and others. Along with De La Hoya will be several world champions and contenders including Daniel Ponce de Leon, Israel Vazquez, Librado Andrade, Abner Mares and Enrique Ornelas.
The event last from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the crowd is expected to swell beyond 10,000 people.
It should be a lot of fun.
WBC and Soto
Humberto Soto keeps winning title elimination fights but seems to get further and further from his goal. His promoter Top Rank is furious.
“Something has to be done about this,” said Bob Arum, the president of Top Rank.
In his last fight on August 12, Soto knocked out Ivan Valle in a match that was described as an elimination bout to fight for the WBC junior lightweight title. On August 20, 2005, he handed Rocky Juarez his first defeat in a bout for the WBC featherweight interim title. He also defended the WBC interim title successfully against Oscar Leon on Feb. 17, 2006. But he’s never fought for the actual world title.
Arum says the elimination and interim titles must be validated or stopped entirely.
“We paid sanctioning fees for Soto in his last fight,” Arum said, adding that Manny Pacquiao will not seek a match with WBC junior lightweight titleholder Marco Antonio Barrera despite winning the fight against Erik Morales for the purported WBC final elimination bout.
WBC Chairman emeritus Jose Sulaiman, who is based in Mexico City, said Soto was not fighting in a final elimination bout when he beat Valles.
“The WBC had approved a final elimination bout between Soto and Bobby Pacquiao, but he (Pacquiao) stepped out of the bout,” stated Sulaiman. “Top Rank requested a substitute in Ivan Valles, who is a very good fighter, but the WBC clearly informed the promoter that we would approve the bout as an elimination bout, but not as a final elimination bout.”
Sulaiman added that Manny Pacquiao was rated number one and Morales number two. Soto is now rated number three and must fight another elimination bout to maintain his ranking. Andre Berto alert
Florida’s Andre Berto (15-0) will appear on HBO on Saturday in a welterweight contest against Miguel Figueroa. The muscular fighter appeared last April in a Palm Springs fight card where he stopped Horatio Garcia in three rounds. He’s looking to make a big impact in the boxing world. He has one world champion impressed.
“Believe me, Andre Berto will be a world champion soon,” said Winky Wright who sparred with Berto in Las Vegas. “Ike Quartey is not as strong as Andre Berto. He’s got all of the tools.”
Figueroa (24-5-2) fights out of New Jersey and had a draw against talented Larry Mosley in March 2006.
Mighty Mike returns
Former WBO junior lightweight titleholder Mighty Mike Anchondo returns to the ring after a year off on Thursday Dec. 14, at the Irvine Marriott Hotel. The Baldwin Park resident meets Armando Cordoba in an eight-round bout. For tickets and information call (949) 760-3131.
If Taylor was a small middleweight just trying to get an easy win after three tough fights -- two against Bernard Hopkins and one against Winky Wright -- Ouma would have been a bad choice. He can fight more than a little.
But since Taylor (25-0-1, 17 KOs) is a tall middleweight threatening to become a super-middleweight, picking Ouma (25-2-1, 15 KOs) to fight is like asking your club hacker if he wants to tee off at Augusta. Of course he does. He doesn’t really belong there, but it’s too good an opportunity to pass up.
That’s Ouma. He might not belong at middleweight, but he’s looking at some big money and a possible title. And he just can’t pass it up.
They list Taylor at 6-foot-1. And he’s a strong, hearty 6-foot-1. At least that’s what his trainer, Emanuel Steward keeps telling us.
“He’s got these long arms and he’s an extremely big man and he’s physically strong,” Steward said on a conference call promoting Saturday night’s title fight at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock Ark. (HBO). “He’s got tremendous coordination.”
Steward added that Taylor would probably make a great football player.
And then there’s Ouma, all 5-foot-8 of him. Or at least that’s what he’s listed at.
I’ve seen Ouma up close, stood next to him and watched a fight after shaking his hand in a casino outside Miami. If he’s 5-foot-8, I’m suddenly 6-foot-2 instead of 5-foot-10. I’m not saying I towered over him, but I could look down on the top of his head.
So how does a guy just a little taller than some jockeys, who has been fighting at 154 pounds for most of his adult life, get a shot at the middleweight title against a tall strongman who has to work to make it down to 160?
Ask the prankster in the suit.
Or maybe Ouma’s people just wanted him to get another shot at a title.
Does Ouma have a chance?
Sure he does. He’s a fighting machine, and he’s tough. Those guys always have a chance.
But it’s a slim one, only because Ouma doesn’t pack a middleweight punch. He’s going into battle with a slingshot. Taylor’s carrying a loaded shotgun.
Still, sometimes a swarm of mosquitoes can be just as dangerous as a kick from a mule. And Ouma, a southpaw and a former IBF junior-middleweight champ, loves to swarm all over the guy he’s fighting.
“Ouma doesn’t take any breaks,” said Taylor’s trainer, Emanuel Steward. “He just keeps going because he doesn’t punch with any authority. He’ll just keep pushing you with those little punches all night long, and if he can get you out of your rhythm, it can become a nightmare.”
Unless you can stun the little guy.
“He does throw a lot of punches,” Taylor said. “But I throw mine with a lot more power and a lot more accuracy.”
And Taylor likes Ouma’s style.
“I have a better chance of knocking a guy out who comes to fight,” Taylor said. “He’s like me. He’s not too worried about defense. He comes to fight.”
Steward knows how a busy fighter can drive a guy crazy (see “mosquitoes” above).
“We are not taking him lightly,” he said. “It could end up being a barnburner going down the stretch.”
Reports revealed not only had Harrison failed a weight check last weekend, he’d been unwilling and unable to make a catch-weight, proposed by Frank Warren, of 132 pounds to preserve the contest. A full six pounds above the original limit.
Few modern day fighters exude the same unflinching sullen demeanour as Harrison. Sightings of a Harrison smile are so rare a wildlife protection order is pending. His icy blue stare often reducing room temperatures by a degree or two, answers usually short and bristling with contempt, body language always aloof, detached.
The cursory press commitments, essential to the health and wealth of this troubled promotion, sat uneasily with his current frame of mind. Public confrontation with Dagenham’s Nicky Cook during this week’s conference call deepened his mood and revealed an uncommon display of emotion. Harrison is not a man for hollow words, cliché or ‘playing the game’ and the share of front pages he’s appeared on this year does little to warm that outlook. In retrospect, perhaps the heat of Harrison’s outburst the latest public distress signal that all was not as it seemed.
In an era of style over substance, surrounded by pampered and preened contemporaries and against a landscape of personal problems, Harrison increasingly looks out of place as an elite sportsman, a curmudgeonly Scottish thistle amongst prettier blooms.
On Saturday night that ‘thistle’ was meant to enter the ring for the first time in 13 months. Still a world title-holder, thanks only to the patience of the World Boxing Organisation for whom he has twice been champion. The sanctioning body’s pragmatism encouraged by their relationship with Harrison’s promoter, Frank Warren, who single handily legitimised them in the 1990’s. Whatever their motives, the WBO demonstrated uncharacteristic humanity in their treatment of the 29-year-old as he rescinded on mandatory obligations throughout the year -- ultimately allowing a 180-day extension to defend the title. Harrison, acutely aware that this fight was his last chance to maintain custody of the belt within that extension, has now relinquished before he was stripped.
Since his last victory, against Australian Nedal Hussein, Harrison has been besieged by drink related misdemeanours culminating in a five and half-week stay in a Spanish jail for offences reported to include assaulting a police officer. Combined with a catalogue of incidents in his native Scotland, for which he still faces trial, Harrison could have been forgiven for looking forward to the 2006 rendition of Old Langsyne. Sadly, imprisonment in 2007 remains a painful possibility and following this latest withdrawal, his whole boxing career is also in doubt.
Clearly, beyond the dour expression lies a troubled man yet to bottom out on his present downward spiral. This despite earlier public concessions that the demons of drink and depression forced the cancellation of a May defense versus Gary St .Clair and his subsequent refuge at the Priory Clinic. He wasn’t a resident long. Alcoholism and depression are accustomed to going the championship rounds.
Long-term manager Frank Maloney found himself ditched and Harrison, charges still circling, began training away from Scotland in a bid to escape the temptation and associations his profile creates. Harrison’s weakness for drink stirs self-destructive inclination and lead toward activity and social circles that threaten to impede if not curtail his career. Speaking to The Guardian’s excellent Donald McRae, a candid Harrison conceded; “If you're an athlete then drink gets you into places you shouldnae be going, but when you're young and a world champion with money burning in your pocket you can lose track. I first became WBO champion four years ago and it's taken me that long to accept you cannae go out to normal pubs and live a normal life. You can be talking boxing and someone will walk in and make a comment and 10 seconds later you're in the thick of it. I know it's not clever but I've learned the hard way. Prison was the final lesson.”
Although far from perfect mental preparation for a bout of this significance, it wasn’t hard to surmise a spell of incarceration, far removed from the demons that landed him there, could have proved infinitely preferable to another fall from the wagon. Public introspection, obligated by Harrison’s profile and renown rather than a natural desire for self-analysis suggested he agreed; “Prison was ideal in terms of training preparations, but not having the freedom to walk out of the gates at any time was an absolute nightmare,” he told BBC Radio. How insincere those words seem now? Despite the Spartan conditions training down to 9 stone is a physiological miracle his body can no longer perform.
Distractions from the punishing training Harrison required to remove the ring rust and as important, squeeze his lightweight frame into the 126-pound limit, could never have been ideal. However, combining the survival of the dark places he found himself this year and weight of experience at this elevated level left the champion in no doubt Cook couldn’t possibly defeat him on Saturday. Riled by the lack of respect Cook demonstrated Harrison snarled: “You're just a typical big mouth and you don't bother me at all. I'll shove that phone up your arse. I'll see you on 9th December.” That was as recent as this week, believed to be after Frank Warren had been forewarned Harrison wouldn’t make the weight.
Despite the adage ‘that there is no such thing as bad publicity,’ Frank Warren would have been pleased at the demonstration of needle between the two, nothing like old-fashioned bad-feeling to sell tickets, but emerging from the debris is the implied suggestion that conference call was little more than a charade for a fight already likely to be cancelled. Preceded by the loss of the trade fight between Peter Oboh and Tony Oakey and the withdrawal of Matt Skelton the promotion looked increasingly fragile. Was the news suppressed to maintain ticket sales?
Whether Harrison turns the misjudgements and tribulations of this past year to his advantage remains to be seen; for a man of few words he’s been forced to talk more than ever recently -- on Saturday he had the opportunity to return to what he does best, get away from the microphone and begin using his fists for the betterment, rather than detriment of his career. An opportunity, like the belt, now relinquished.
It seems the denial, precursor to his summer admission of a drink problem, has spilled over into his professional career. From a troubled starting point it seems Harrison was never going to make the weight and, if that is the true, it poses the unfortunate question, how early did the BBBofC, Harrison and promoters Sports Network know that was the case?
ITV, fans and opponent Nicky Cook would presumably love to know the answer.
Headlining the action-packed card will be red-hot middleweight Pawel Wolak, a native of Poland who now resides in Brooklyn.
Appearing in the co-feature is hard-punching super middleweight southpaw “Mean” Joe Greene, 13-0 (7 KOS), of Brooklyn.
Junior welterweight Jorge Teron, 13-0 (8 KOS), of the Bronx, will square off against Atlantic City’s Lorenzo Bethea, 6-2 (1 KO).
Lightweight Freddy Soto, 8-2-2 (5 KOS), of the Bronx battles Eric Rodriguez, 3-2 (2 KOS) of Puerto Rico, and local welterweight Tommy Rainone, 1-0, of Plainview steps into the ring for the second time against Jesse Gomez, 1-2.
In Gomez’s sole victory, he outpointed previously unbeaten Alex Infante, who was 3-0, in a different venue in Huntington.
Also scheduled to appear is popular undefeated light heavyweight Joel Castillo, 3-0 (2 KOS), of the Bronx, and making his pro debut is heavyweight Wilmer Vasquez of Venezuela.
Vasquez will square off against the much more experienced Drexie James, 8-7 (4 KOS), of Miami. Although James has lost to such recognizable heavyweights as Ezra Sellers, Dominick Guinn, Eliseo Castillo, and Malik Scott, he also scored a first round knockout over 2000 Olympian Michael Bennett, who was 6-1 at the time of their meeting.
“This is a rock solid show from top to bottom,” said Duffy, a retired NYPD detective. “There’s not a bad fight on the card.”
By the middle of the week of the show, Duffy said 90 percent of the tickets, which included 37 tables, had been sold. Those buying tables will be treated to a cocktail party, full course meal, a cigar, and a tenor to serenade them.
“This isn’t just a night at the fights,” said Duffy. “This is a night out, so I’ve tried to provide something for everyone.”
Duffy says that Wolak, who will put his 11-0 (7 KOS) record on the line against rugged journeyman Patrick Thompson, 10-7-1 (4 KOS), of Lincoln, Nebraska, knows he is not in for an easy night.
The only fighter to ever stop Thompson is Alfonso Gomez, who later catapulted to fame on the first season of the “The Contender” reality TV series. Gomez stopped Thompson in the fifth round in November 2003.
Thompson has taken numerous well-regarded, then undefeated fighters the distance. Included among them are Mariusz Cendrowski, 14-0, John Duddy, 9-0, Sechew Powell, 14-0, and Giovanni Lorenzo, 7-0.
Once beaten fighters whom he extended until the final bell were Ishe Smith, another veteran of season one of “The Contender,” who was 16-1, and Matt Vanda, 31-1. He also battled Dennis Sharpe, who was 17-0, to a draw.
“He will provide a stern test for Pawel,” said Duffy, who as the former director of boxing for the New York State Athletic Commission does not believe in making non-competitive fights for bright young prospects.
“Although I’ve been involved in numerous aspects of the business, I never forget that I was initially attracted to boxing as a fan. I try to always keep that in mind when I make matches. If it’s a fight that I would want to see, I go with it. If not, I look for a more competitive matchup.”
Duffy is also very high on Greene, who he calls one of the most exciting prospects in the sport, as well as Teron, who was knocked down in his last fight, and Soto, who lost his last fight on a show that Duffy promoted.
“These guys are all real good New York fighters,” he said. “They are very hungry and determined and they have tremendous fan bases. I am thrilled to be able to promote them.”
Duffy also believes that Vasquez, who represented his native country on its national amateur team and scored 52 knockouts in 61 amateur fights, is a future star.
Because of Vasquez fighting on the card, legendary champion Roberto Duran, who is involved in the promotional aspect of his career is expected to be in attendance.
Other expected celebrities are rapper 50 Cent, who is friends with Greene, and former champion Emile Griffith.
“I love this stuff,” said Duffy. “I’ll never be as big as Don King or Bob Arum, but I love being a promoter. There’s a lot of aggravation and a lot of hair pulling, but I always come back for more and look forward to the next one.”
Tickets or tables can be purchased by calling Duffy at 516-313-2304 or Frankie G’s Academy of Boxing in Huntington Station, phone 631-673-3520.