Former welterweight world champion Margarito and his trainer Javier Capetillo both had their boxing licenses revoked for one year by the California State Athletic Commission on Tuesday after a five hour long hearing that took place in the State Building.
Blame it all on those wet hand wraps.
Though charges of plaster of Paris were being tossed around the country on Internet sites and blog spots, what it came down to was the simple fact that two knuckle pads inserted in the hand wraps were moistened.
But according to the rules of California, wraps or pads cannot be moistened whatsoever, even with pure drinking water. Nada.
So on the night that Margarito lost by ninth round knockout to Sugar Shane Mosley, he also lost his right to fight in the United States because of a strict rule infraction.
One of the knuckle pads in question is being analyzed by the state but had not been returned at the time of the hearing. No matter, moistening a hand wrap with any liquid or water is illegal.
Deputy District Attorney Karen Chappelle accused both Capetillo and Margarito of cheating and tampering with the hand wraps.
It seemed that on Jan. 24, the night of the big welterweight title fight at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Margarito had simply stuck his hands out for his trainer to wrap and was unaware of any illegalities. One hand was already being wrapped when Sugar Shane Mosley’s trainer Nazim Richardson walked into Margarito’s locker room to inspect the hand wrapping process, as is Team Mosley’s right and vice versa.
CSAC inspector Che Guevara was watching the process when Richardson walked in. Also in the locker room were inspectors Mike Bray and David Perida. Immediately Richardson objected to the placing of tape on the hand. He claimed that he was told by chief inspector Dean Lohuis of CSAC that it was not allowed. When Lohuis arrived he informed Richardson it was allowed but that Capetillo had put tape too far down the wrist and made him re-tape it. After it was taped Capetillo was told by Lohuis there was still too much tape down the arm. Finally, Lohuis put his finger to the spot that the tape could not pass and it was finally done properly.
“No liquid of any sort can be on the tape,” explained Che Guevara who was inspecting the hand wrapping done by Capetillo.
Finally after a short while the right hand was completed.
When the left hand was completed Richardson felt it and objected to the firmness of the wrapping. Lohuis also felt it and took it a knuckle pad. Richardson felt the other hand and wanted that hand unwrapped too. There was some discussion that it had already been inspected and didn’t need to be unwrapped, but Guevara said he had not inspected the hand wrap and never inspects them until both hands are completed.
Another knuckle pad was taken out of the other hand too.
“It looked like it was sweat soaked,” Guevara told the Commission. “I wouldn’t say it was rock hard, but harder than it should be.”
Guevara also said that the pads were not flexible at all.
Richardson demanded that the pads be checked and asked to keep one of them. He was denied. The inspectors all checked the pads and placed one of them in a box and taped it. Then the initials were signed in felt tip pen of the inspectors and given to another inspector.
Capetillo became very aggressive and agitated, Guevara said.
Margarito testified before the Commission that he was not aware of any wrong doing by his trainer. He said that hand wraps “was not my job.”
Capetillo, who is always very easy to agitate, did not surprise those who know his personality. Once again he semi erupted when questioned by his own attorney and repeatedly spouted that “it was an error” and that “I grabbed the wrong pad.”
The 59-year-old trainer from Guadalajara said that he’s been wrapping hands for 39 years.
“No one has ever complained before,” said Capetillo to the Commission. “The truth is I was all confused.”
The Mexican trainer insists it was all a “big mistake” and that Margarito had nothing to do with it.
“I grabbed the wrong pad,” Capetillo said loudly.
Chappelle, the attorney, said, “Twice you grabbed the wrong pad?”
At the end of the proceeding the Commission voted 7-0 to revoke Capetillo’s license. Then, Margarito’s status was discussed. Most of the people in the room expected Margarito to be exonerated from any blame. But the Commission had other plans and voted 7-0 to revoke the Tijuana boxer’s license too.
“You have some responsibility,” said Commissioner Dr. Christopher Giza to Margarito.
The hearing room was crowded with boxing people. Present were Top Rank’s Bob Arum, Dan Goossen of Goossen-Tutor Promotions, Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions, and at least eight other promoters. Also in the capacity crowd were former fighter Ruben Castillo, and Riverside cut man Willie Shunke, who gave a hand wrapping demonstration with one of the Riverside Franco boys.
Arum was incensed at the Commission’s taking Margarito’s license. “I’ll never fight in this state again,” he told several Commissioners. “I’ll fight this (Commission result) all the way.”
On Feb. 9, Monday night, I had met Sugar Shane Mosley in Los Angeles with a few other writers and representatives of Golden Boy Promotions.
Mosley told me personally that he didn’t think Margarito knew anything about illegal hand wraps or pads.
“As boxers we just stick our hands out and let the trainers wrap our hands,” said Mosley. “We don’t know what’s going on. We’re concentrating on the fight, not the hand wraps. I’m focused.”
The new WBA welterweight champion said he did not think Margarito should be penalized.
“I like Margarito,” said Mosley who has known Margarito for over a decade. “He’s a good guy. I don’t think he would do anything wrong. But I don’t know about the trainer.”
Before the CSAC had ruled on both Capetillo and Margarito, discussion between two journalists and myself focused on how Margarito could not know if there was a hard pad in his wraps.
One of the actual knuckle pads used by Capetillo on Margarito’s hands was on a table 10 feet away from me. I walked over to the table and asked the deputy district attorney Chappelle to feel the knuckle pad exhibit and object of the hearing. I felt the knuckle pad that was placed in a plastic zip wrap a good 15 seconds and realized that it felt soft. Maybe a little old and soft, but not hard as I expected. It felt like old gauze. One of the doctors told me that when it is moistened it would get harder. And that is why the Commission makes it illegal to wet hand wraps.
In back-to-back fights, the Argumentative Aremenian destroyed two of the best junior bantamweights in the world and he did it not by simply overpowering them. He did it by out boxing them. Well, to be fair, he did both.
Up until he was knocked cold by Nonito Donaire a year and a half ago, Darchinyan seemed to think defense was a waste of his time. He was about knocking people out, apparently believing the power he carried with him somehow made him invulnerable to anything that might come back in his direction.
Some guys learn from such foolish mistakes. Others do not. Vic Darchinyan has clearly learned plenty, including how to box and how to avoid engaging in one senseless brawl after another.
This is not to say he doesn’t still come to the arena with only one thought in mind – which is to disengage his opponent from his senses. But how he does it is the difference.
Cristian Mijares was on nearly every pound-for-pound list before he met Darchinyan. He is a consummate boxer, a fighter who understands angles and movement. Yet he seemed to understand nothing about Darchinyan when they met last Nov. 1 except that he had no answers to the problems he posed.
Darchinyan battered him from one side of the ring to the other, seldom being hit while rattling Mijares time after time before the bout was stopped after nine one-sided rounds. It would be unfair to say the victory itself was an upset but the manner in which it came – with Darchinyan not only out powering Mijares but cleverly out boxing him as well – was a revelation.
Last weekend, Darchinyan stepped in with hard-nosed Jorge Arce in a fight boxing aficionados had longed hope to see. What they saw in the end was not what they expected because Darchinyan took Arce apart in the same brutal way he had Mijares, sending him to the hospital an hour after the fight was stopped after 11 rounds because Arce’s blood pressure was rising and falling dangerously and he was complaining of pain behind his eyes and ear.
No wonder why if you saw the beating Darchinyan (32-1-1, 26 KO) gave him. But, again, what was most impressive was Darchinyan’s new-found boxing ability. His use of angles, movement, shoulder rolls and slight body shifts to keep himself out of harm’s way while still within punching distance were notable and a marked improvement on what he was the night he waded into a left hook from Donaire and went to sleep.
“He’s a lot like that Lazy Susan you see at the Chinese restaurants,’’ said Gary Shaw, Darchinyan’s promoter, after the stoppage of Arce. “You reach for the prime rib, all of a sudden it moves to the other side. He takes an opponent’s game plan completely away.’’
Ceretainly he did that to both Mijares and Arce, two very different types of fighters. Where Mijares is smooth as Three-in-1 oil, Arce is all rough edges and rough housing. Didn’t matter. Neither guy belonged in the same ring with this Vic Darchinyan.
For weeks Darchinyan and Arce had taunted each other. Both like to talk and both like to fight. One has to wonder if Arce still feels that way after the beating he took.
Arce had said he hoped there would be a lot of blood in the fight because it inspired him. If that was the case then he should have been more inspired than anyone who heard Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream’’ speech live because he was covered in his own plasma by the time Dr. Paul Wallace stepped in after 11 rounds and told referee Lou Moret, in essence, “What are you waiting for?’’ and stopped the fight.
None too soon, except in the opinion of Arce, which only proved how much damage had been done to him if he really thought there was a point to sending him out for another three-minute beating.
Vic Darchinyan calls himself “The Raging Bull,’’ which considering his lack of physical stature seems a bit of an exaggeration. Then he starts talking or fighting (often times doing both at once) and it all makes terrible sense.
Just like it now makes sense to include him on those pound-for-pound lists boxing fans love to argue over. He may not be at the top of them as long as Manny Pacquiao is around but he’s already making noise about wanting to face another brawler who’s not too far down that list – super bantamweight champion Israel Vazquez.
The two of them were taking pictures together after the fight. If they ever face each other, the pictures after that fight will very likely be x-rays.
If Vic Darchinyan keeps boxing the way he has been lately, they very likely won’t be his.
Over the next few months I look forward to sharing the stories of these two fighters with the readers of the Sweet Science, and I look forward to hearing from any and all of you. –KS
While I was standing at the bar, a man with long, dark hair tied back in a ponytail came up to me and asked if I was a reporter. I said that I was and he told me, before asking what sort of story I was writing, that I should do a feature on his man Stan Martyniouk. "I haven't seen him fight," I told him. "Are you a fighter?" He did not look like a boxer, but I felt I should give him the benefit of my enormous doubt.
"I'm a promoter," he said, and then introduced himself as Mehrad. "This is Gerrell." He indicated to a young man to his right wearing a blue t-shirt and shorts. Gerrell looked, if not like a boxer, at least potentially like a high school wrestler who has been taught to punch his opponents after taking them down.
"Is he a fighter?" I asked.
"No," said Mehrad. "He's my business partner, but you should see his left hook." Gerrell looked embarrassed.
"What do you promote?" I asked.
"Fighters," said Mehrad. I suppose I should have anticipated that answer. But he continued. "Also musicians, or whoever." That seemed to be a rather broad business plan, but he elaborated by saying that they were promoting Martyniouk. "We have a company called White Tiger Promotions. We'll introduce you to Stan the Man after his fight." Mehrad seemed very confident that Martyniouk would win and that after the bout he would be in the mood to talk with journalists. Gerrell, by his expression, was more apprehensive. Then Mehrad asked, "Who are you writing about?"
"Mike Simms," I said.
"I don't know him," said Mehrad.
"He's on a five fight-skid," I said. "He needs a win badly."
"When's he fighting?"
"I have a feeling he might be first."
Up in the ring, the announcer, dressed in a tuxedo and sweating profusely from his cheeks and forehead (he must have been standing out at the patio bar before coming in to announce), held up his microphone. "Our first bout is coming your way right now," he said. He was, apparently, exaggerating, because he paced around the ring for a few minutes longer while the crowd, who had prepared themselves for the fighters impending entrées and then found that there was little impending, moved hesitantly towards their seats. Mehrad, Gerrell, and I stood by the bar with a group of almost fifty others and continued talking. The music that had been appeasing us during our wait came back on over the speakers. Then a man notified the announcer of something, and he took up the microphone again and said, "We're ready to fight."
"That's Stan's music," said Mehrad. Apparently, Mike Simms was not fighting first.
Martyniouk came out in a red, white a blue robe, colors that most of the audience must have construed as American, but I believe it was Martyniouk's nod to Russia. His opponent, Matt Mahler, of Manteca, making his pro debut, came out after, but the announcer introduced him first. When Martyniouk was introduced there was a loud cheer from the crowd. Manteca is not far from Sacramento—much closer, in fact, than Russia—but Martyniouk apparently trains in the Capital and had gained favor with the partisans in his two previous fights. Martyniouk weighed in at 130 1/2, and Mahler just below the featherweight ceiling.
When the bell rang, the debutante came after the Russian with the bravado of a man who has fought for money before, but also with the naïvely brisk pacing of a man who hasn't, while living up regardless to his surname's belligerent homonym. He backed Martyniouk into one of the neutral corners with a veritable blizzard of well-intentioned punches to the body and head, but Martyniouk had dressed well for the occasion. It was a brief squall, perhaps because the mauler remembered that Russians are weaned on ice, and Mahler let Martyniouk off the ropes.
In retrospect, it would have been better for the mauler to have exhausted himself punching shoulders and elbows. As it happened, Stan the Man followed the dissipated storm back across the canvas. I was writing a note, so I missed the right hook that hurt Mahler, but I looked up as the crowd began to scream, and certainly did not miss the short right that knocked the young Mantecan out. Mahler fell prostrate on the floor, and though, after the referee had waved him out, he tried heroically to get to one knee, it required two men to haul him to his corner. He had only been conscious for thirty seconds. And of those, for twenty-two he must have thought he was winning.
I was very impressed, and I congratulated Mehrad and Gerrell on their man's success. They were both elated, if Gerrell a little less visibly than Mehrad. "That didn't take very long," I said. "That's a hell of a right hand." It is rare, of course, to meet a young featherweight with one-punch knockout power. The disciples from White Tiger Promotions had already been converted, but the rest of the multitudes in the ballroom, whether they had been behind Martyniouk before the fight or not, were standing around as if they'd just been fed at Bethsaida.
"I told you he was worth watching," said Mehrad. "Now I just wish I knew what I was going to do for the rest of the night." I suggested that he root for Mike Simms, and he and Gerrell took up the cause. I feared, though, that the show had started with a climax and was moving towards an expository first scene. I hoped that Simms would put on a good show, but I was simultaneously terrified that he wouldn't.
The announcer stepped back into the ring and read the decision, a thirty second knockout, and a few minutes later Brandon Gonzalez, whom a week earlier I'd gone to Niavaroni's gym to interview, came through the ropes. That implied that Simms was fighting at least third, and that the fight card in the lobby had been printed upside down, with the preliminaries on top. This was a strange way of promoting, as if the man who had drawn up the promotional materials was more accustomed to filling in baseball box scores, where the home team resides at the bottom of the card because they bat in the bottom half of the inning, which, of course, comes after the top. The only other explanation I could come up with was that the two preliminary fights were anticipated to be more exciting, and that the semi-final and final would be treated like consecutive six-round emergency bouts scheduled to fill in the negative space left by an early-round knockout in the main event.
Gonzalez had won his three previous fights with knockouts in the first round, and in the wake of Martyniouk's astounding right hand, the crowd was poised to watch another man put to sleep. His opponent, Mike Alexander, was technically undefeated, but he had drawn two out of the three times he'd fought.
When Gonzalez was an amateur he fought at the NABO's light-heavyweight limit of 178 pounds, but discovered that, unlike Cassius Clay, he was better suited to cutting weight as a professional than adding it on. Also like Clay, he served on the Olympic Team, but unlike his predecessor, Gonzales, perhaps lacking the patience to wait three years (he joined the team in 2005) for a chance to repeat Clay's 1960 Roman victories a few miles east in Beijing, turned pro in 2007. Or he needed money. He is a manager, still, at Starbucks, and that can erode one's patience.
According to his record, it seemed a wise decision to have traded Sacramento for Beijing. But as the bell announced the first round, Mike Alexander looked the more flagitious, and he supported that claim by knocking Gonzales down a minute into the first. This was an unprecedented coup, and the crowd waited, almost in silence, to see what the Olympian would do. Gonzales got up after three, stood for the remaining mandatory five, nodded to the referee, and stalked in again. He was apparently more cautious, though he landed, near the end of the round, a flurry of alternating hooks to Alexander's head. Gonzales, nonetheless, lost the round—the first of his career—and he sat down bright-eyed on his stool after the bell had rung, almost basking, it seemed, in the unfamiliar adversity of being two points behind on the cards with only three rounds remaining.
It took Gonzales almost the three full minutes of the second round to nullify the knockdown, but he did, with all the brutality of a lumberman transubstantially punishing his infidelitous wife by chopping down a tree. Neither fighter did much to write about in the first two minutes, but Gonzales, having measured and re-measured Alexander's reach, found a flaw in his battlement and walked inside. There Gonzales began punching Alexander in the obliques as if they were positive and negative poles and his fists were the magnets in an electric motor switching between them. Alexander did not last long. But before he quit lasting he had his back against the ropes, inanely guarding his face. It appeared to be a left to the liver that felled him finally.
Near me in the crowd a man said, with some melancholy in his voice, that there were only four fights on the card. At the rate fighters were losing, the evening would expire after nine minutes of actual boxing. Another man seemed to feel similarly. "They're charging $100 for four fights?" he asked rhetorically. "I should have hawked my ticket. Anybody need a ticket to the fight tonight?" A number of people turned towards him, laughing. I didn't think his was a fair reaction to Gonzales' stunning body-punch knockout, but I empathized with the scalper. $10 for each minute of fighting was not ethical.
Holyfield, who appeared to be running on empty, took advantage of the 20-minute break in the action to recharge his batteries and rally for a majority-decision victory. That was too bad for Bowe, whose pregnant wife, Judy, fainted in reaction to the ruckus going on around her. It also speaks volumes about the jinxed life of the unfortunate Mr. Miller (who committed suicide in 2002) that, with thousands of spectators in attendance, the ringside seats he toppled into were filled by Minister Louis Farrakhan and his Nation of Islam security guards, who were none too pleased to have some unidentified white guy arrive in their midst from out of the sky. “Fan Man” was beaten unconscious by big, burly dudes brandishing walkie-talkies as makeshift clubs.
“It was a heavyweight fight,” Miller said afterward, “and I was the only guy who got knocked out.”
But the race for second place to “Fan Man’s” shenanigans boils down to the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield “Bite Fight” of June 28, 1997, and the Feb. 7, 1997, rematch at the Las Vegas Hilton between Lennox Lewis and the man who had upset him 28½ months earlier, Oliver “The Atomic Bull” McCall, for the vacant WBC heavyweight title.
The 12th anniversary of Lewis-McCall II came and went a few days ago, a fact I probably would not have picked up on if I hadn’t happened to rummage around in my voluminous files and come across the tearsheet of the story I authored for the Philadelphia Daily News about the bizarre ending to a most bizarre evening of boxing.
McCall, who admits to first experimenting with drugs at the age of 13, had a history of strange and disturbing behavior in and out of the ring. Only six weeks prior to the rematch with Lewis, he picked up a 20-foot Christmas tree in the lobby of a Nashville hotel and hurled it in a drunken rage. So apprehensive was Dino Duva, Lewis’ American co-promoter, that he pleaded with McCall’s promoter, Don King, to replace McCall with a challenger for Lewis who at least was more emotionally stable.
But McCall passed a drug test administered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission prior to the bout, which was allowed to proceed in the expectation – well, at least in the hope – that everything would come off without a hitch. As it turned out, such optimism proved unfounded.
McCall, whose behavior was eccentric under the best of circumstances, appeared to suffer some sort of episode during the fight. His demeanor became increasingly erratic and he was making little or no effort to defend himself when referee Mills Lane finally stepped in and awarded Lewis a technical-knockout win 55 seconds into the fifth round.
“It was almost as if he wanted to get knocked out,” Lane said. “He didn’t put up any semblance of defending himself so I figured, that’s enough. Something’s wrong. I thought to myself, `This boy needs medical help.’”
Not only did McCall spend the last two-plus rounds wandering around the ring, his arms at his sides, muttering to himself, but on several occasions he was observed with tears tricking down his cheeks.
If there’s no crying in baseball, as Tom Hanks once famously observed in the 1992 movie, “A League of Their Own,” there sure as heck isn’t supposed to be any in boxing – at least while the fight is going on.
“In the third round, he got in close and then seemed frustrated, and then he just backed off and put his arms down,” Lane said in recounting his own perplexed reaction to what he was seeing. “I thought he was playing possum, but then I saw his lips quiver and I thought, `My God, is he crying?’”
George Benton, who served as McCall’s lead trainer that night, didn’t know what to tell his man once he returned to the corner, which turned out to be a chore in and of itself. McCall used up precious seconds of the one-minute rest period after both the third and the fourth rounds before plopping down on his stool, the second such delay ending only when Lane took him by his arm and guided him. Twice Lane felt obliged to ask McCall if he even wanted to continue.
“I gotta fight, gotta fight,” McCall replied even as he declined to engage Lewis, who was more than a little flummoxed himself by all the strange goings-on.
The immediate aftermath was nearly was unusual as what had transpired in the ring, with talk arising that all or part of McCall’s $3.1 million purse would be withheld or attached by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. King and McCall’s manager, Jimmy Adams, moved swiftly to retain a Las Vegas-based psychiatrist to determine if the fighter had really gone off his rocker (the shrink concluded that, while McCall had indeed experienced some sort of freak-out, he was not in fact insane), and almost everyone weighed in on a fight like no other.
“Lewis was in there with a lunatic,” yelped Benton, who didn’t know what to say to get McCall to snap out of whatever trance he had entered. “He was talking incoherently, and he’d been doing that all week. It started a long time ago and I think it caught up with him.”
McCall, in his dressing room, depicted himself as someone powerless to control unseen forces that were determined to see him fail.
“Y’all got what you wanted,” he proclaimed to no one in particular. “I hope you’re happy. Now they can put me in prison.”
This was hardly what you might expect of someone who had laid the first loss of Lewis’ career on him with one of the sweetest one-punch knockouts you’ll ever see. When McCall’s perfectly timed counter right hand exploded on Lewis’ jaw in the second round on Sept. 24, 1994, in London’s Wembley Arena, it brought him possession of Lewis’ WBC heavyweight championship belt and a new-found respect for a Chicago journeyman who perhaps was best known to that point as maybe the toughest and most resilient of Mike Tyson’s many sparring partners.
McCall’s shocking upset of Lewis also underscored just how important it is to formulate the right plan, and for a focused and determined fighter to execute that plan to perfection.
Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward was sought out by King to work with McCall and harness the talent that many boxing insiders knew was there, but was being frittered away through all the nuttiness. Steward initially was hesitant because of his high personal regard for Lewis, although to that point he hadn’t actually been involved with him.
“I was a big fan of Lennox since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics,” Steward told me. “I trained (eventual gold medalist) Tyrell Biggs when he beat Lennox in ’84. Tyrell, who was from Philadelphia, was living and training in Detroit then, training with Tony Tucker.
“But even though we beat Lennox (who took gold in the super-heavyweight division at the 1988 Seoul Olympics) in ’84, I liked him a lot. You could see the potential he had. He was this big kid with a lot of power and a lot of natural talent that hadn’t been refined.”
For all his warm and fuzzy feelings for Lewis, however, Steward felt he had technical problems that were not being addressed by his trainer at the time, Pepe Correa. And those technical problems, Steward concluded, could be exploited by McCall, provided he laid off the booze and the drugs long enough to do what needed to be done.
“Lennox had a habit that when he jabbed, he put his right hand all the way across his face, almost to the left side of his jaw,” Steward said. “Then, when he threw a right hand, it took him a little bit longer to bring it back and re-set to throw it again.
“He also had a slow, lazy jab, which he didn’t really snap off. It was used more to measure where his opponent was before he threw that big right hand. When I had McCall, we based our strategy on trying to catch Lennox when he threw the right hand. Lennox had been destroying everybody with that big right, but the flaw was there for everybody to see. I don’t know why nobody else picked up on it, or was unable to take advantage of it if they did see it.”
Once McCall went to camp with Steward, the heretofore wild child allowed himself to accept a measure of discipline for perhaps the first, and last time, in his career.
“Oliver was totally loyal to me when we trained. I never had any problems with him,” Steward said. “He finally had some stability, and that’s because I put the time in with him. That was the difference. Every day I cooked for him. He came to my house and we talked about boxing and about life. I babied him.”
Steward also revamped McCall from a free-swinging slugger into a different sort of fighter than anyone had seen before. Certainly, Lewis didn’t expect to mix it up with that much of a new and improved McCall on fight night.
“Oliver wore white shoes for that fight,” Steward said. “He was more like a Sugar Ray Leonard. He had never fought that way before. I trained him for speed. He moved better, he punched crisper.”
And he waited for just the right moment to exploit the chink in Lewis’ armor, which he did when Lewis went to throw that huge right hand in the second round. But McCall’s right got there first.
“First thing I told Oliver when I started to work with him was, `Lennox is a better fighter than you. He’s bigger and stronger. He has a better amateur background. Really, he has a better everything. But he has a weakness, and I will train you to beat him by taking advantage of that weakness.”
To his credit, Lewis learned from his mistakes. He let Correa go and went shopping for the best trainer available, believing that that person was the man who had just helped a lesser fighter, McCall, defeat him.
Steward jumped at the opportunity to work with Lewis, even though he had prepped Briggs to beat him in the 1984 Olympics and then McCall to take him out as a pro a decade later.
“I still thought Lennox was the best heavyweight in the world, or at least he could be,” Steward said. “And when I did begin to work with him, I set out to eliminate the flaws I had seen in his before.
“I knew he needed a snappier jab. He needed better balance and conditioning, and to not be overly aggressive. He also needed top sparring partners because you adjust to the level of your competition, and I knew he did not have the right sparring partners when he was getting ready to fight Oliver the first time.”
It was a vastly different Lewis who entered the ring at the Las Vegas Hilton on Feb. 7, 1997, and, unfortunately, a vastly different McCall. For whatever reason, the Chicago native was over-anxious and mentally unprepared to replicate his watershed conquest of Lewis.
“He obviously was trying to deal with a situation he couldn’t handle,” Steward said of McCall. “I really think he had some sort of nervous breakdown that night. His corner people were yelling at him, calling him crazy and stupid, but it had just the opposite effect of what they were trying to do. He just went deeper into his shell instead of coming out of it.”
Steward also was having fighter-control issues. Try as he might, he couldn’t quite prod Lewis – who still might have been remembering the way he had previously been dispatched by McCall – into turning it loose. The Englishman was wary of McCall’s strange behavior, believing it was an act to lure him in for another putaway shot.
“Lennox was still very suspicious, cautions and confused,” Steward said. “He didn’t commit as fully as he could have, or should have.”
Since they last squared off, Lewis and McCall have gone their separate ways. Lewis retired after defeating Vitali Klitschko on cuts on June 21, 2003, and will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y., on June 14.
McCall has continued to have his ups and downs both in and out of the ring. He has been through four rehabs, spent time in a mental institution and been restrained with a stun gun by Nashville police after having trespassed in a public housing development. For all his troubles, though, the father of seven remains at least a fringe contender at age 44, his 51-9 record including 36 victories inside the distance. In his most recent ring appearance, he was outpointed over 12 rounds by Juan Carlos Gomez on Oct. 19, 2007, in Berlin, Germany. To this day, he maintains that his mondo bizarre act was just that, an act, and that he was ready to again drill Lewis had not Lane decided that enough was enough.
Darchinyan found someone willing to trade in Arce, but proved in front of 5,540 fans at the Honda Center that though he couldn’t crack the will of the Mexican fighter he could cut him up and leave him searching for some way to grab the IBF, WBC and WBA titles.
“He surprised me,” said Darchinyan. “I didn’t expect him to fight the way he did.”
Arce withstood Darchinyan’s biggest barrages but could never land the big blow himself against the lightning left hand of the Armenian slugger. All night long Arce charged and the world champion dodged big blows and countered with left hand explosions. He kept his distance all night long at the behest of his Aussie corner.
Darchinyan led by a large margin on all three scorecards when the fight was stopped at the end of the 11th round because of several bad cuts on Arce’s face.
Arce immediately began attacking Darchinyan’s body but was not very successful. The left hand scored and opened up a cut on the Mexican fighter in the first round.
In the second round Darchinyan kept away until the last 10 seconds, then exchanged left hands with Arce. A left hook by the Mexican landed and left Darchinyan a little shaky and he returned to his corner.
Darchinyan opened up the third round with some rocket left hands and Arce met the challenge. Both brawled for most of the round with heavy punches landed by Arce and Darchinyan. Arce’s bull rushes were proving effective but only when the champion was willing to engage.
Arce’s head-first attacks were effective but then a left uppercut by Darchinyan wobbled the Mexican fighter who proceeded to use his veteran tricks to stay out of trouble the rest of the fourth round.
The fifth round was the closest so far with Arce landing right hands to the body and head. Darchinyan finished it with a hail of punches and kept punching through the bell to keep the Mexican from landing another big blow.
The junior bantamweight took a rest in the sixth but came out firing at the end of the round with a flurry of blows to steal the round.
Once again Arce opened strong in the seventh round but found Darchinyan waiting until the final minute to make his move. The faster punches of the Armenian fighter were proving to be the difference in the fight.
Both fighters looked tired in the eighth and ninth rounds but Darchinyan’s speed was still the difference in the fight between the two weary foes.
The fight slowed dramatically in the 10th round as Darchinyan followed instructions from his corner to keep distance from Arce. Pot shots from the Armenian fighter caught Arce but overall it was another dull round.
A clash of heads in the 11th round left a bloody gash over Arce’s right eye. At the end of the round the fight was called by referee Lou Moret on the advice of the ringside doctor for a technical knockout win for Darchinyan.
Arce was not pleased by the stoppage.
“I don’t know why the doctor stopped the fight in the last round, a fighter always has a chance to win,” said Arce, who was butted accidentally. “He cut me with his elbow, not a punch.”
Darchinyan did not deny that the fight was rugged and gave Arce his props.
“He hurt me with some good punches but I always came back,” Darchinyan said. “He proved to me he was tough and a good fighter.”
All three judges had Darchinyan far ahead by scores 109-100 when the fight was stopped.
“Darchinyan is a great fighter,” said Arce. “A very good fighter.”
Tijuana’s Antonio DeMarco (21-1-1, 15 KOs) captured the NABO lightweight title with a technical knockout at the end of the ninth round when Kid Diamond’s corner told the referee to stop the fight.
“I had the flu and got sick and weak after the sixth round,” said Diamond (27-2-1, 15 KOs) who fights out of Las Vegas.
DeMarco, had his best round in the ninth when he caught the elusive Diamond with right hands and a left hook that sent the Las Vegas fighter teetering. After some discussion the corner men for Diamond told referee Jerry Cantu to end the fight.
“I was aware we were running out of time,” said DeMarco who was ahead on two judge’s scorecards and behind on the third. “I had to go out and change that.”
Junior middleweight Vanes Martirosyan (23-0, 14 KOs) pounded out a victory over Ohio’s Billy Lyell with a consistent body attack in the first five rounds but paid the price with an injured left hand.
“He had a hard head,” said Martirosyan. “He was really tough up there.”
Around the seventh round the former U.S Olympian refused to back away and slipped into a more aggressive gear. Lyell liked the change in tactics but was unable to capitalize on the more stationary Martirosyan.
“We’ve been working on me not moving but it’s hard to adjust,” Martirosyan said about working on his new style. “Things are going well.”
The former Olympian boxed well and looks sharp. A world title match could be close for the Glendale-based fighter.
All three judges gave the decision to Martirosyan 80-72, 79-73, 78-74.
“We’ll see what the doctor says about the hand,” said Martirosyan as he looked the swollen fist.
Heavyweight Travis Kauffman (16-0, 13 KOs) overwhelmed Cliff Couser (26-18-2, 14 KOs) from the opening bell and forced referee Jerry Cantu to stop the fight at 2:41 of the first round for a technical knockout. Couser tried covering up but could not keep Kauffman off him and was never in the fight.
It was another strong performance for the Pennsylvania fighter who seems to get stronger every outing. He’s a very tough heavyweight who is picking up momentum. By next year Kauffman should be ranked if he continues to mow through heavyweights. He already has the calm demeanor of a veteran prizefighter.
San Diego’s Chris Avalos (9-0, 7 KOs) out-fought Las Vegas boxer Torrance Daniels (12-9-1) for seven rounds until the ringside physician convinced referee Jerry Cantu to halt the fight at the end of the seventh round in a scheduled eight round bantamweight bout. Avalos tagged Daniels hard during every exchange. From the outside Daniels used his reach to pot shot, but was usually enticed to engage inside and paid the price.
Houston’s Omar Henry (3-0, 3 KOs) tore through Moreno Valley’s Francisco Martinez (0-3) and caught him with two right hands on the chin for a knockout at 57 seconds into the first round of a middleweight fight.
But arguing the case for Paul Williams being among the game’s pound for pound elite would be that much easier if he had gloved up against some of the folks that his promoter Dan Goossen has tried to entice into facing off with Long Tall Paul. If Antonio (The Alleged Master of the Plaster Disaster) Margarito had decided to have another go at Williams (instead of taking $2 million less, as Goossen maintains, to fight Mosley), and Williams had beaten him conclusively, that would make Goossen’s case, that RIGHT NOW, Williams should be in the Top 3 on P4P lists, an easier sell.
Or if Oscar De La Hoya, or Shane Mosley, or Kermit Cintron (before Margarito reached down his throat and extracted his gonads in April 2008) had stepped in with Williams, and the Georgian had taken a couple of them out, then Goossen’s contention would go down more smoothly.
“You can be a Cy Young award winner on a last-place team,” is Goossen’s analogy, and he has a bit of a point. In his view, Williams should not be penalized because the sport’s elite have decided it is smarter for them, both monetarily and perhaps physically, to take less dough and fight anyone. Then again, an ace pitcher on a last-place ballclub gets the chance to stack up against other ‘A’ level teams, and pitchers over the course of 162 MLB games, so we are able to compare and contrast his skill-set.
Anyway, it can’t be denied that the lefty with the freakishly long arms has been avoided like the Madoffs at the country club. “Paul’s legacy and his status among the pound for pound best can’t be based on who won’t fight him,” Goossen maintains.
Yes, Goossen and Williams have been having a dickens of a time getting marquee names to sign on the dotted line across from the 27-year-old these last couple of years. And while I think Williams probably deserves to receive more P4P consideration, and will have that by the end of a stellar 2009, it’s a hard sell to TSS Universe. TSS U will point out, if I know them at all, that Williams’ signature win was a disputed victory, over Antonio Margarito in 2007. And his second best win comes over Carlos Quintana, whose own best win had been over Joel Julio, before he snagged a UD12 upset win over Williams in February 2008. And while TSS U gives props for the Henry Armstrong-ish division hopping that Williams has engaged in recently-—he went from welter against Carlos Quintana in June 2008 (TKO1 win) to middleweight against Andy Kolle three months later (TKO1 win)—they’d give the feat higher marks if Kolle were someone like…oh, Winky Wright.
Speaking of which……Wright, who we last saw dropping a UD12 to Bernard Hopkins in July 2007, it turns out he hasn’t transitioned into promotion full time. He still believes that at age 37, despite taking 2008 off, he can knock a young gun like Williams off. Speaking of whom…
On April 11 in Vegas, we’ll be able to toss some of these strained analogies, and guesses masquerading as theories, because we will see what Winky has left, and what Williams can do against the trickiest foe he has yet faced.
Williams vs. Wright, young gun on the cusp of stardom, versus another of these pesky vets who have decided to neither burn out, nor fade away, and have demanded that the next generation of aspiring all-stars earn their spot by volition, rather than attrition.
Wright has a 51-4 mark, and he hasn’t been stopped in any of those defeats. Goossen thinks that Williams will be the first to stop Winky inside the distance; if Williams is able to do this, then that is a prominent scalp he can boast.
“To Winky’s credit, he’s taking up the challenge,” Goossen said. “It’s a megafight, for both fighters. And you can’t just think about the fight in terms of youth versus age, not after we saw Pavlik/Hopkins and Margarito/Mosley. And you can’t look at the inactivity of Winky, look at Leonard versus Hagler (Leonard was off for three years and beat Hagler in 1987).”
Goossen says we should all be bumping Williams up our P4P lists when Williams takes out Winky. “They’re talking pound for pound top five for Mosley, and Winky has beaten him twice,” he said.
I agree with Goossen. Two and a half years ago, before Williams had an off night against Quintana, and his bandwagon lost about 80% of its passengers, I wrote that Williams was the sort of specimen who would be the type to hand Floyd Mayweather his first loss. It would take someone with exceptional traits: absurd reach, monster cardio, Teflon chin. I still hold to that belief, and think Williams will beat, but not stop the crafty Wright on April 11. He will then advance a few notches on P4P lists, but won’t rocket upwards, because people will point to the crust of rust adhering to Wright. But the win will pretty up Williams’ resume, and force some of those folks who’ve been giving him the Heisman arm to drop the stiff arm, and glove up against Long Tall Paul. This is the most important fight of Williams’ career, because the field is open for new stars to stake their claim.
Back in 2007, Mayweather and De La Hoya’s immense shadows kept the spotlight off up ‘n comers. Now, Manny Pacquiao owns the stage as boxing’s best and brightest. But he casts a 140 pound shadow, and so in a nation which often equates size with supremacy, auditions for some beefier standard-bearers are ongoing. There is a spot on the stage for an American hitter who’s a threat from 147 to 168 pounds, a space with Paul Williams’ name on it, as far as I’m concerned.
But enough of my guesswork. Throw some of your guesses out there, TSS U. Is Williams underrated because he’s been avoided like a skunk at a backyard bbq? Can he beat Wright, or will Winky inflict a painful lesson on a not-ready-for-primetime contender? Fire away!
On paper it looked more like a formality with Soto Karass overwhelming Oklahoma City’s Jones (18-7-1, 10 KOs) with his never ending assaults, but for 10 rounds the pair bludgeoned each other back and forth.
“I hit him very hard with punches that would normally knock somebody down,” said Soto Karass (23-3-3, 16 KOs). “He was very tough.”
The stablemate and clone of Antonio Margarito poured on the punches up and down Jones from the first round. In the third round some pinpoint blows to the midsection forced the African-American fighter to take a knee. Then Jones rallied with some nonstop combinations but ran into some more body blows and collapsed to his knees again. He beat the count.
It could have been all over for Jones, but he sucked in some air, patted his gloves together and out he went to trade punches with the Mexican body snatcher again.
Jones changed tactics from round six through 10 by allowing Soto Karass to expend energy with his attacks to the body and head for the first two minutes. He would hold his ground and then unleash his own barrage of rights to the head and body shot combinations to keep the Mexican fighter from winning the rest of the rounds outright.
It proved to be a good tactic but the two knockdowns in the third gave Soto Karass too much cushion when the fight finally ended in the 10th with both fighters pouring it on against each other.
The judges scored it 97-91 twice and 99-89 for Soto Karass.
“I hit him with solid shots that would have knocked down other guys,” said Soto Karass. “He prepared very well.”
Omar “The Businessman” Chavez (16-0, 10 KOs) continued his unbeaten streak and broke Rodolfo Armenta’s (6-1) unbeaten streak after four rounds in a junior welterweight bout.
Chavez, who is the second oldest son of Mexico’s great Julio Cesar Chavez, used his strength and left handed power to win by majority decision over Armenta in a fight that saw both unable to hurt the other.
Like his father, this Chavez also has a good left hook and used his defense to keep Armenta from landing flush shots. A solid left jab by Chavez kept Armenta from unloading power combinations.
“I’ve been working harder,” said Chavez, who seemed more effective with his right hand when he fired it straight, instead of looping.
Las Vegas guys
Two Las Vegas fighters tussled in Maywood, with southpaw Diego Magdaleno (8-0, 3 KOs) winning by unanimous decision over Rodrigo Aranda (8-9-2) in a six round junior welterweight bout. Magdaleno was busier and more accurate but was unable to hurt Aranda. The judges scored it 60-54 twice and 59-55 for Magdaleno.
Miguel Angel Garcia (15-0, 12 KOs), the young brother of former junior lightweight world champion Robert “Grandpa” Garcia, ran over Lucien Gonzalez (9-5-1) of Pennsylvania. The first two rounds saw both fighters looking for openings but in the third round Garcia an uppercut and double left hook caught Gonzalez, who miraculously never went down.
The fourth and fifth rounds saw Garcia overwhelm the Puerto Rican fighter, who seemed unable to find an answer for the Oxnard fighter’s assault. Finally, at the end of the fifth round, Dr. Paul Wallace walked over to Gonzalez’s corner to inspect the fighter and advised the referee to call the fight off.
Michael Franco was in against a veteran but got to the heart of the matter with a counter right uppercut to the heart of Antonio Cochero Diaz (9-10) in the first round. It took only 1:08 for the Riverside fighter to end the fight dramatically. Most of the fans were stunned by the suddenness. Diaz looked at Franco as if he had been wearing brass knuckles.
“I felt rested,” said Franco (14-0, 9 KOs) who had a month between fights to recuperate and felt stronger. “I felt good and strong.”
Santa Ana’s Jose Roman (4-0) used a stiff left jab to keep L.A.’s Rufino Flores (1-1) from gaining a foothold in the four round featherweight bout. It was a sharp rapier-like punch that snapped Flores head repeatedly. And if he paid too much attention to it, a flurry of punches pummeled him. All three judges scored it 40-36 for Roman.
Joe Mills (3-2) knocked down Mario “Super Mario from the Barrio” Evangelista (2-3) in the first round of a super middleweight fight and cruised to victory by unanimous decision 40-35 twice and 39-36. Both boxers fight out of Los Angeles.
Darchinyan came in with the WBA, WBC, IBF super flyweight belts, and weighed 115 on Friday, while the 29-year-old Arce was also 115 pounds. The crowd was pro Arce, and the fighter was all business entering the ring. Well, he was rocking his signature lollipop and cowboy hat. The Evil Armenian, Vic, age 33, was eating up the boos as he strode to the ring. A former fly, and light fly titlist, Arce was 51-4-1, with 39 KOs, and the former fly crownholder Evil,Vic was 31-1-1 (25 KOs).
Vic looked to have the strength edge early. Were his legs solid underneath him? His left eye was marked at the close of the round. Vic was similarly effective in the second. He countered smartly, and lead when he wanted to. In the third, Arce kept on lunging in. But he got fired up, and landed at the midway point. He cut the bridge of Vic’s nose, and it looked like Arce was warmed up.
In the fourth, Vic got back to being evil. His lefty uppercuts snapped Arce’s head back. Arce did score with a solid left hook. In the fifth, Arce bore in, still stubborn, but he ate three smacks at the end of the round. He still looked to land his signature left hook to the body. In round six, both men hugged more, but Arce was hangin’ tough, and maybe gaining ground mentally. In the seventh, Vic moved, and popped. It didn’t look like Arce could slow him down in the eighth.
In round nine, Vic continued to outbox Arce, who had a cut behind his left ear. Vic also show his evil ways with a forearm to the head. Arce didn’t care for that, and complained. In the 10th, Arce went low with the left hook, not for the first time. In the 11th, Vic’s uppercuts landed with nasty thuds. Would Arce make it to the final bell? His right eye looked bad, as he pawed at a gash. The doc looked hard at Arce after the round. “I’m feeling good,” Arce said, to no avail,a s the doc told the ref to halt the fight.
After, Vic said he'd fight Nonito Donaire, but Gary Shaw called Nonito disloyal, and vowed that rematch would not happen.
Arce said he came to fight, but Darchinyan used his elbows in illegal fashion. Jim Gray called him out on that rationalization. For the record, Arce's face looked better than Vic's, as Vic had a mouse on the left eye and a gash on the bridge of his nose. Arce said he would like a rematch. He also said he didn't agree with the doctor's call at the end. The doctor and the ref both declined to speak to gray, who was gracious about that. I do not agree. Both men owe it to viewers to explain that himself. That is pure CYA garbage.
Mexican Antonio DeMarco (20-0) held on to his unbeaten record, when his foe Kid Diamond Raiymkulov’s corner told the doctor to stop it after the ninth round. Diamond (27-2-1), out of Krygzstan, wanted to come out for more action, but his corner didn’t agree. They thought his nose was broken, and didn’t like that his mouth was full of blood. It was a fan-friendly lightweight scrap.
The pocket destroyer Darchinyan (31-1-1, 25 KOs) has leveled three Mexicans, a Russian and a couple of Filipinos, so why won’t more than 3,000 Armenian fans show up when he fights yet another Mexican, Jorge “El Travieso” Arce (51-4-1, 39 KOs) on Saturday at the Honda Center.
According to the latest U.S. Census there are more than 120,000 Armenians living in Glendale, Burbank and North Hollywood. Why are they always dwarfed by the Mexican boxing fans in every big fight?
It’s not just because 10 million Mexicans live in Southern California. Even back in the 1960s when the Mexican population was about 200,000 in Southern California, they would pack 17,000 into the Inglewood Forum to see Ruben Olivares, Chu Chu Castillo, Rafael Herrera and even Bobby Chacon.
The Armenian fight fans need to show support for their fighters like Darchinyan and junior middleweight Vanes Martirosyan, who is also on the boxing card.
Darchinyan represents one of the most dynamic and spectacular Armenian prizefighters in many years and still only a meager but strong vocal group arrives to support their countryman.
All that is lacking for Darchinyan is not another knockout win, but 10,000 screaming Armenians to fill the seats at the Honda Center, the Home Depot Center or the MGM Grand.
Arce, who may not pack the same punch as Darchinyan, packs more clout when it comes to supporters. Even though one of his countrymen took the starch out of the gathering Mexican tide of support a few weeks ago.
“What happened to Antonio Margarito?” asked an exasperated Mexicali taxi driver Manuel Otanez last weekend when I was over there. “How did he lose?”
Had Margarito won his bout against Sugar Shane Mosley you can be sure that Mexican fight fans would have caravanned once again up Interstate-5 to see if Arce could repeat another Mexican victory. But not now. After seeing their number one fighter drowned by a storm of blows the gathering tornado is now just a dust twister.
Sports fans are like that, most are front-runners who like a winner.
Darchinyan is a winner.
Though the super flyweight was knocked out by Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire, he’s reloaded and erased any semblance of timidity.
What most people forget is that boxing is entertainment. Nobody wants to see some tall, athletic speedster dance around the ring flicking jabs and never getting hit in return. If people wanted to see ballet they would buy a ticket to that kind of shindig.
No, boxing fans want to see two fighters exchanging blows with force, fury and finality. If one boxer can evade punches by slipping, ducking and blocking that’s OK as long as he’s not moving around the ring like Mikhail Baryshnikov.
This is boxing, not ballet.
At the moment Darchinyan has not grabbed the American consciousness and needs a little help from his countrymen to attract notice. He needs people watching on Showtime to wonder what all the shouting is about? Frenzy creates more frenzy.
Darchinyan and Martirosyan need more Armenian supporters to come out. Once they capture those fans then all groups will begin to notice. That’s the way it works.
Unless Darchinyan can convince 12,000 of his Armenian countryman to follow him when he defends his IBF, WBA and WBC junior bantamweight world titles against Arce, then he’ll simply be a good fighter without much of a following.
Arce, the challenger, established a strong fan base after taking part in a reality television show in Mexico. Coupled with his two former world title belts, a win by the pugnacious Mexican fighter could spark massive interest from boxing rabid fans of his country.
But it’s all up in the air at the moment.
“I am very excited for this fight,” said Arce during a telephone conference call. “I know this is a fight that will bring back my credibility.”
The credibility of Mexican fighters is at stake especially after Tijuana’s Antonio Margarito was knocked out by Shane Mosley over a week ago. This past weekend, at a fight card in Mexicali, Mexico, boxing fans in that country were still grumbling about their most popular fighter’s devastating loss.
Margarito was on the verge of superstardom when Mosley deflated the Mexican fighter’s fearsome reputation with ease.
Mexican fight fans are known to be the most delerious and rabid fans of the sport in North America. They’ll save their money and make 400-mile treks across the border to see their heroes in action. They just don’t like them to lose.
Now it’s Arce’s turn to try and stop Mexican fan’s slipping faith in its fighters after Margarito, Marco Antonio Barrera and Oscar De La Hoya have all suffered savage defeats in the last year and a half.
“Is Oscar De La Hoya going to fight?” asked one boxing fan as I was literally crossing the border on foot between Mexicali and Calexico on Sunday morning. “How could he lose?”
Top Rank’s Bob Arum knows that Mexican boxing fans are the driving force behind the sport’s success.
“While everyone else is talking about MMA, the Mexican fight fan still loves boxing,” said Arum.
Yes, Mexican boxing fans love the sport, but they want to cheer for one of their own countrymen. Arce can pull some of those fans back into the fold with a victory.
“My career was taking off, then I lost to (Cristian) Mijares,” said Arce recalling the one-sided loss he suffered to a fellow Mexican in April 2007. “People thought I wasn’t as good of a boxer as some people thought I was. They thought I was just a singer and a celebrity and an entertainer.”
Beating Darchinyan will be a mountainous task.
“All my opponents are Mexicans. They are very popular and very strong,” said Darchinyan, who has beaten Mexican boxers Mijares, Luis Maldonado and Victor Burgos. “It doesn’t matter if they (opponents) are Mexican or Filipino. I am going to knock out and punish whoever it is.”
Lemoore fight card
Middleweight contender Andre Ward brings his revamped and re-polished pro style to the ring once again. No more running and flicking but more standing and punching this Friday at Tachi Palace in Lemoore, California. The bout will be televised on Showtime.
Ward (17-0, 12 KOs) faces Henry “Sugar Poo” Buchanan (17-1, 12 KOs) in a 12 round title defense in the main event and new lightweight divisions signee John Molina (14-0, 12 KOs) doesn’t get it easy against Joshua Allotey (15-6, 13 KOs).
Both clashes will not be mere speed bumps but firm tests for both Goossen-Tutor Promotion pugilists.
“I am not a reluctant warrior,” said Ward, the former gold medal winner in the 2004 Olympics. “I’m not afraid to fight anybody.”
For tickets and information call (559) 924-7751.
Maywood fight card
Mexico’s Jesus Soto Karass (22-3-3, 16 KOs) fights Carson Jones (18-6-1, 10 KOs) in a junior middleweight main event at the Maywood Activity Center in Maywood, California on Friday. Don’t expect his usual trainer Javier Capetillo to be in his corner.
Capetillo, who also trains Margarito, has been suspended by the California State Athletic Commission for irregular hand wraps. The matter is under investigation.
Also on the fight card is Omar Chavez (13-0-1, 10 KOs), the second oldest son of Mexico’s great champion Julio Cesar Chavez. The undefeated Chavez will be tested when he fights fellow undefeated Mexican Rodolfo Armenta (6-0, 4 KOs) in a junior welterweight bout.
Riverside’s Michael “Lil Warrior” Franco (13-0, 8 KOs) meets Antonio Cochero Diaz (9-9, 6 KOs) in a bantamweight showdown set for six rounds.
For tickets or information call (323) 710-1489 or (323) 200-3476. The doors open at 6 p.m.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6:00 p.m., Yusaf Mack (26-2-2) vs. Chris Henry (23-1).
Fri. Showtime, 11 p.m., Andre Ward (17-0) vs. Henry Buchanan (17-1).
Not no chance, which remains too often the case in title fights these days, but the kind of slim chance that springs from two things. First, Arce can punch for a little guy and comes to the arena with the inclination to do nothing else. Second, roughly 18 months ago the boxing world sat stunned as Darchinyan was counted out from a left hook to the chin by Nonito Donaire.
Darchinyan almost immediately labeled it a lucky punch but only after someone woke him up to tell him what happened since he had no recollection of the punch or its aftermath. Perhaps it was but he was still out cold after it landed, which brings us to Arce. The singing cowboy from Mexico has lost only once in the past nine years while knocking out 39 opponents on his way to compiling a 51-4-1 record. He has insulted nearly all of his victims and put out the lights on many of them, a trend that he hopes continues throughout the long walk to a dream fight for anyone who favors the hot action of boxing’s little big men over the plodding inaction of ponderous pugilists who carry more weight but far less firepower or the inclination to use it.
“He thinks he is an intimidator,’’ Arce said of Darchinyan. “He always tells people what he will do and they get intimidated. I’m not that type of guy. His words won’t affect me. He can talk about what he is going to do to me in the ring but I’m not going to fold. I’m a bigger guy than him. I won’t be intimidated.
“This fight speaks for itself. He’s a great champion and I’m a great champion. I know he’s strong enough that he can knock me out with one punch. I know I can knock him out with one punch. There’s nothing else to add. It’s going to be great.’’
Certainly it’s going to be concussive. Darchinyan (31-1-1, 25 KO) unified the title last November with an uber-impressive ninth round stoppage of Cristian Mijares, a fighter many listed among the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the world and the only one to beat Arce during his nine-year run of victories. It was a stunningly one-sided beating not simply a case of the powerful Australian transplant from Aremenia landing one big shot and going home and that is what made the win so impressive.
Darchinyan not only brawled but boxed, giving Mijares a methodical beat down that was a textbook lesson in how to blend aggression with boxing skills. How will Arce counter what Darchinyan showed that night? No one knows because the feeling is he may have no counter unless he can turn the fight into what most people anticipate it will become – a brawl trapped inside four sets of rope.
In a nutshell, that is what Jorge Arce’s strategy is. It’s the same as it always is. Fight.
“I fight and people love the way I fight,’’ Arce said. “They want to see fighters fighting not dancing. They want to see blood, I’ll give them blood. I love that. If it gets on me I get more motivated and excited. I want the fans to see a lot of blood and a lot of hitting. If I go down, I’m going to get up. I hope he does, too.’’
Those are not the words of someone who is faint of heart or terribly concerned with what Darchinyan brings to the arena, which for the record is plenty of firepower and plenty of attitude.
Arce is the same way, both when it comes to mouthing off and when it comes to punching you in the mouth. That is one reason everyone in boxing has been hoping to see them meet for over a year now. It finally happened only because an eye injury to junior featherweight champion Israel Vazquez sidelined him, forcing Arce to return to 115 pounds in search of a challenge and a payday.
Now he has both but it figures to come with payback as well for all that each has said about the other. Arce did not back down from the debate nor will be back down from the champion’s attack once it is launched at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Jorge Arce will be there waiting, guns loaded, firing until one of them is out of bullets.
“I will knock him out,’’ Arce says flatly when asked which fighter is likely to suffer from fistic lead poisoning by the end of the day. “I don’t see this fight going 12 rounds. If he knocks me down once I’m going to get back up. He’s in for a long night.
“I know Darchinyan has a big punch but he has to work to knock someone out. He’s not a knockout punch artist. He can’t knock you out with one punch. It will take him a while.
“If he hits me three times, I’ll hit him six. If he hits me five, I’ll hit him 10. I hope he doesn’t fall early because I want to give him a lot of punches. I know he can take a lot so I hope he’s ready for them.’’
Darchinyan has insisted he’s ready for whatever Arce brings and Arce’s promoter, Bob Arum, has insisted that whatever Darchinyan brings the two fighters together will bring entertainment and the kind of night not quickly forgotten.
“Everyone that follows boxing has been talking about the main event,’’ Arum said. “It’s been brewing for years but, like fine wine, if it aged it’s better than if it’s just made. This is a fight that has aged. It’s ready now and should be a candidate for Fight of the Year.’’
Certainly it’s a candidate for filling up the emergency ward when it’s over because both these guys come with one thing in mind. Each wants to damage the other as a way of highlighting his own abilities.
Darchinyan remains peeved he is not on either RING magazine or ESPN’s top 10 pound-for-pound lists despite defeating Mijares so handily. Considering that Mijares was on then before the fight he probably has a point.
As for Arce, he wonders how you can lose once in nearly a decade and still be considered a cut below the top fighters in the junior bantamweight and bantamweight divisions for so long. He intends to make his case by making a hard case like Darchinyan suffer for all he believes he’s been denied since losing to Mijares.
“Darchinyan’s greatest strength is his mouth,’’ said Arce, who presently holds the interim WBA super flyweight title and is a former WBC junior bantamweight and WBO junior flyweight champion. “He has said things I don’t appreciate. I am not intimidated by the devil so why would I be intimidated by him? When we get in the ring I am going to hurt him.
“I’m looking forward to testing him and finding out about his will to win. I know what my will to win is. Saturday we find out about his. People think because I lost to Mijares and he beat Mijares that Darchinyan will automatically win our fight. That’s not how it works. Styles make fights. You’ll see after I nail him what I am saying.’’
Puncher’s chance? Jorge Arce agrees with that. He just sees it as a lot better chance than most people might think.
“One of us is leaving knocked out,’’ Arce said, smiling the smile of a man who knows what that will be. “I’m leaving with all the belts.’’