Weekend Boxing Recap: Big Baby, Heather Hardy, Rio and More


By Arne K. Lang

A long three-day weekend of boxing began Friday evening at a Rochester soccer stadium and concluded in Brooklyn at a new amphitheater in Coney Island. The professional fights played out against the backdrop of the 2016 Olympics in Rio where the big medal winners in boxing were the teams from Uzbekistan and Cuba.

Last week was a coming out party for Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller – in the media, that is. The Brooklyn-born heavyweight, who now resides in the neighboring borough of Queens, was the subject of generally fawning profiles in New York newspapers and various web sites. But Miller’s bout with Fred Kassi, who quit on his stool after the third frame, taught us nothing about what to expect from him when he moves up in class. More revealing was the previous day’s weigh-in. Big Baby, who stands 6’4”, tipped the scales at 296 ½ pounds.

The late Budd Schulberg once suggested that boxing needed a new weight division: the overweights. Schulberg made this wry observation during Mike Tyson’s incarceration when Don King rolled out a revolving door of alphabet soup title-holders conspicuous by their love handles. Big Baby Miller would have fit right in.

If there was a standout on the Rochester show it was lightweight Mason Menard who built upon his smashing knockout of Eudy Bernardo with a ninth round stoppage of Bahodir Mamadjonov. Menard hails from Rayne, Louisiana, deep in the heart of Cajun country. The area, known for producing outstanding jockeys, has produced very few good boxers. Menard is already more accomplished than his trainer Chad Broussard who fashioned a 56-5 record but was blown out of the water when he stepped up in class on the road against the likes of Sharmba Mitchell and Meldrick Taylor.

Later Friday evening, out on the West Coast, Golden Boy light heavyweight Vyacheslav Shabranskyy improved to 17-0 with a third round stoppage of overmatched Oscar Riojas in the featured bout at LA’s Belasco Theater. Shabranskyy is ranked #5 by the World Boxing Council which recognizes Adonis Stevenson as their champion.

Shabranskyy, from the Ukraine, entered the ring sporting a new nickname, “Chingonskyy” (loosely translated, “chingon” means awesome). There’s a large colony of Eastern European fighters in Southern California, and all have been Mexicanized by their publicity agents. No disrespect to the Mexicans, whose ring exploits are legendary, but the current crop of Ukrainian boxers needs no ethnic embellishment. They are pretty special.


There was scant activity in the U.S. on Saturday where professional boxing played second fiddle to a big UFC show in Las Vegas. However, there was a noteworthy promotion in Milwaukee featuring native son Luis Arias in the main event. Arias improved to 16-0 (8 KOs) with a 4th-round stoppage of 41-year-old trial horse Darryl Cunningham.

Originally a member of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s Money Team stable, Arias is now promoted by BoxNation. According to boxing writer Steve Kim, Arias’s next fight will likely be on the undercard of Ward-Kovalev, a RocNation co-promotion. Arias uses the nickname “Cuba.” His father came from Cuba; his mother is Nicaraguan.

South of the border, in an unlikely setting for a boxing match, Jose Uzcategui scored a smashing second round knockout over Fabiano Pena at the L.A. Cetto Vineyard just north of Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico. A Tijuana-based Venezuelan, Uzcategui, 26-1 (22), solidified his hold as the #1 rated contender to IBF super middleweight champion James DeGale. Mexicali’s Lopez declined to 18-6-1.

In the co-feature, Ensenada welterweight Carlos Ocampo exploited his superior length to remain undefeated with a lopsided 10-round decision over Mexicali’s Alvaro Lopez. Ocampo improved to 20-0. Lopez declined to 19-6.

Across the Pacific, at the Eatons Hill Hotel in Queensland, Australia, Brisbane iron worker Trent Broadhurst won a minor IBF light heavyweight belt when Troy, New York club fighter Shawn Miller retired on his stool after the seventh frame. Miller was acting on the advice of his trainer John Scully who complained that his fighter had been rendered unfit to continue by a low blow. Prior to the stoppage, Broadhust had won every round. His next fight is expected to be in New York in November, the opponent and venue as yet undetermined. Broadhurst’s U.S. representative is Gary Shaw.

In Hyogo, Japan, veteran Katsunari Takayama won the vacant WBO World minimum weight title, turning back hometown favorite Riku Kano in a bout that was stopped by the ring physician at the .58 mark of the sixth round. Earlier in the fight, Takayama was cut by an accidental head butt. When the cut worsened, the bout went to the scorecards.

The 33-year-old Takayama, now 31-8 (12 KOs), has been around the block before. He previously held the WBC and IBF versions of the 105-pound title. We likely haven’t seen the last of Kano (10-2-1) who is only 18 years old. It was his first loss since losing a 4-round decision in his pro debut.


The Coney Island show was the boxing equivalent of a day-night doubleheader in baseball. More than four hours elapsed between the starts of the two co-features. Errol Spence Jr. destroyed pesky Leonard Bundu in the opener, knocking him out cold in the sixth round, but the ladies stole the show in the nitecap.

Brooklyn’s Heather Hardy, a 34-year-old single mom, faced her toughest test to date in Providence’s Shelly Vincent and was up for the challenge. The two ladies, both undefeated, put up a spirited battle, albeit there were no knockdowns. When the smoke cleared, Hardy (18-0, 4 KOs) emerged victorious. The scores were 95-95, 97-93, and a curious 99-91. Hardy’s promoter, Lou DiBella, says that she will go down in history as New York City’s first female breakthrough fighter.


Earlier in the day, Claressa Shields accomplished another victory for female boxing by topping her Dutch opponent Nouchka Fontijn with little difficulty in the ladies middleweight finale at Rio. In repeating her 2008 triumph in London, Shields became the first American boxer to win two Olympic gold medals.

That would be the only gold medal won by the U.S. team which faltered after winning six of their first nine bouts. The other medalists were bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (silver) and light flyweight Nico Hernandez (bronze).

Here’s the complete list of 2016 Olympic gold medalists.


Light Flyweight – Hasanboy Dutmatov, Uzbekistan

Flyweight – Shakhobidin Zoirov, Uzbekistan

Bantamweight – Robeisy Ramirez, Cuba

Lightweight – Robison Conceicao, Brazil

Light Welterweight – Fazliddin Gaibnazarov, Uzbekistan

Welterweight – Daniyar Yeleussino, Uzbekistan

Middleweight – Arlen Lopez, Cuba

Light Heavyweight – Julio Cesar La Cruz, Cuba

Heavyweight — Evgeny Tishchenko, Russia

Super Heavyweight – Tony Yoka, France


Flyweight – Nicola Adams, Great Britain

Lightweight – Estelle Mossely, France

Middleweight – Claressa Shields, USA

No Olympiad has ever been free of controversy and the Rio games were no exception. The big brouhaha this year concerned Irish bantamweight Michael Conlan who was clearly robbed by the judges in his quarter-final match with Russia’s Vladimir Nikitan. Conlan was considered Ireland’s best hope for a gold medal. The Irish team ultimately came up empty, winning no medals for the first time since 2004.

On Monday, U.K. bookmaking behemoth Paddy Power, headquartered in Dublin, announced that they would pay off on all bets received on Conlan to win. That included wagers on Conlan in the Nikitan match and wagers on him winning the gold medal or finishing in the top four. This decision, said a spokesman for Paddy Power, was a fitting reward for punters who showed their patriotism by backing the Irishman.

We’re guessing that Paddy Power’s business rivals are stewing over what they see as a terrible precedent.


-KO Digest :

Great wrap-up Arne. Thanks. I think a lot of people were tuned out (summer is fading) so this was perfect.

-oubobcat :

Yes excellent wrap up. Uzcatgeui is someone kind of flying under the radar at 168. He lost an HBO fight a couple years ago to Korobov in a fight that he didn't perform badly but left the feeling he could have done more. Since, he has become noticeably much more aggressive. He destroyed Julius Jackson last October in a mild surprise and notched his 4th straight knockout win since the Korobov fight on Saturday. He is a guy who will probably get another opportunity at 168 and if matched properly can make for exciting fights. Here is a suggestion too...how about him and Rogelio Medina? It would be an excellent crossroads fight and be a very entertaining crowed pleasing fight. Its one of those kind of fights similar to Soto Karass-Kamegai that just can't be bad and can be nothing but the two chucking leather for however long it goes. It'd be an excellent bout for Showtime to invest in, maybe the undercard of Jack-DeGale?

-Skibbz :

Dusmatov won the Val Barker award - now signed with Rodney Berman in S.A - great move.

-KO Digest :

I can't believe they still paid bets for the Irishman, great information!

-Radam G :

Great wrap-up Arne. Thanks. I think a lot of people were tuned out (summer is fading) so this was perfect.
Ditto! Holla!

-brownsugar :

A lot to talk about on this post... but its bedtime in the state that grows massive amounts of corn. Good win for Ramirez, couldn't believe he could turn it up like he did. I can understand Stevenson being so upset. they must have made half a dozen commercials with the kid as if he'd already won the gold. Instead of investing in commercials how bout investing in our depleted amateur boxing program Mr administrator? Big Baby Miller loves the mic and the camera. He seems like the kind of guy who spends a lot of time in the mirror. But that's fine, boxing can always use more guys willing to entertain the viewers . I'd like to see Miller fight that huge heavyweight from Australia who recently tested positive for PED's and is currently challenging the verdict. Less giggle than Areola is all I can say for now. Joe Joyce, Gary Antoine Russell Jr, and Carlos Balderas should have won. Boxing Promoters should have been all over two time UK Gold Medalist Nicola Adams of the UK and 2 Time Gold winner Clarrisa Shields..... Mayweather missed an opportunity. Totally forgotten in the Stevenson hype.

-Radam G :

Wow! The pro pugs who were let into the O-Games were not even an ant's arse threat. They flamed out so quickly that I do not recall a single name of anyone of them. And I guess the Rio Games were so embarrassed and full of politricks that a single bout was on tv seeing pro pug getting his arse handed to him. Holla!

-Radam G :

The corrupted AIBA is saying that it will take action against Conlan for being disrespectful. OMFG! What a bunch of wuzzies. In the heat of the moment what did these crooks expect for the kid to do? He put in years of work for a nine-minute scrap that he won going away. But old grown-arse crooks rip him off and took away his dream. The corrupted AIBA should give him and every robbed pugs an Olympic gold medal of apology. Holla!