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Articles of 2005

Wrighteous Brother – Winkster Schools Tito

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LAS VEGAS – By the end of the sixth round the only mathematical chance Felix Trinidad had to win was a puncher's chance.

And he hadn't been a puncher all night.

Ask anyone who watched the fight to name Trinidad's most prodigious shot. It would seem easy on one hand because he only landed a couple. But none of them would qualify as powerful.

Not on this night. Not against Winky Wright.

Handicappers stated Trinidad's most significant edge would be his celebrated strength. He didn't even have that against Wright, who looked bigger from the moment he took off his robe. Then Wright landed his first big jab about 30 seconds into the fight, and it was clear in the way Trinidad jerked backward the prognosticators had it all wrong.

Wright won an amazingly lopsided non-title middleweight bout Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. The slick southpaw entered the fight nearly a 2-to-1 underdog but was so thoroughly dominant one would think he could've gone another 12 rounds and not been marked.

“There's a lot of people who didn't believe in me, but that's cool,” Wright said. “I hope they believe in me now.”

Judge Duane Ford, as did The Sweet Science, called it a total rout. Jerry Roth and Dave Moretti each awarded Trinidad only one round. Roth gave him the fifth round, while Moretti gave him the second round.

Referee Jay Nady made the margin even more decisive when he deducted a point from Trinidad in the ninth round because of a low blow.

That actually might have been Trinidad's only noticeable punch.

What a silly proposition it was for a man who had fought only once in the past three years — against a right-handed, in-your-face brawler, no less — to take on a defensive southpaw with a history of making opponents look foolish.

“I can never remember two fighters at this level — two 'A' fighters, not even one 'A' fighter and one 'A-minus' fighter — pitching a shutout,” Wright's promoter, Gary Shaw, said. “This guy's a Hall of Famer.”

Wright raised his record to 49-3 with 25 KOs. Trinidad slipped to 42-2 with 35 KOs.

The CompuBox numbers seemed overly generous for Trinidad, claiming he connected on 58 punches out of 557 thrown (10 percent), 15 of 327 jabs (five percent) and 43 of 230 power shots (19 percent). CompuBox never calculated Trinidad scoring double-digit punch totals in any given round.

Wright, meanwhile, controlled all 36 minutes with a jab that made Trinidad look like a 5-foot-10 bobblehead doll.

“He had a beautiful jab and it reached me a lot,” Trinidad said.

In his first appearance at 160 pounds after unifying the junior middleweight title and defending it against Shane Mosley last year, Wright pumped 185 of 588 jabs (31 percent) off Trinidad's dome, according to CompuBox.

But it wasn't the mere fact Wright landed his piston right so frequently that made this fight appear so one-sided. It was the way each jab made Trinidad's head snap, the way each jab forced Trinidad to back off, the way each jab made the crowd wonder how many Trinidad could eat in one sitting.

“A good jab can keep anybody off,” Wright said. “I knew Tito was trying to set me up with big power shots, but I was prepared for that.”

Wright also held the CompuBox lead by landing 262 of 756 total punches (35 percent) and 77 of 168 power punches (46 percent).

“He stood there for 12 rounds and took a beating,” Wright said. “He easily could've took a shot and gone, but he didn't. He showed a lot of guts.”

Trinidad has the right to receive a rematch, but who in their right mind would want to see this massacre again?

“He underestimated me this time, but next time maybe he won't,” Wright reasoned. “My first honor is to get Tito a rematch. I'm a man of my word, and he's a great (former) champion who gave me the opportunity.”

Wright said before the fight fans will know how easy he thinks his night will be if he comes back to his corner at the end of the first round with a smile on his face.

He must've needed a little more time to decide because it was the end of the second round that he strutted back to his stool and broke into a wide grin, exulting the 14,176 fans to stand up and cheer.

In the second round Wright demonstrated an impenetrability that would frustrate Trinidad all night. Wright allowed the former welterweight champ to wail away for several seconds, but not a single shot hit its mark. They instead boomed off Wright's gloves, arms or hips. Similar scenes transpired throughout the bout, yet Wright never budged.

Trinidad didn't land his first clean punch until there was about 55 seconds left in the third round, a single shot to the head.

But Trinidad mostly was befuddled. Wright shook him in the sixth round with a double jab followed by a sharp left to stir the crowd.

Wright truly looked bored at the end of the seventh round. He was toying with the mighty Trinidad, the man who once beat Pernell Whitaker, Oscar De La Hoya, David Reid, Fernando Vargas and William Joppy.

Trinidad didn't resemble that future Hall of Famer, especially not when Wright wobbled him yet again with a left, jab, left that swiveled his noggin in the eighth round.

“I thought there were a couple shots I could catch him with and hurt him, but he's got good legs,” Wright said. “I told reporters before the fight I was going to win every round one by one. I didn't deviate from that plan.”

The only way Trinidad could win was if Wright got too overconfident and, perhaps a tad fatigued in the championship rounds, got clocked by one of Trinidad's trademark hooks.

Trinidad's odds grew even longer in the ninth round when Nady, after warning Trinidad for low blows in the fourth and fifth rounds, had a point taken away for digging below the belt once more.

Wright landed one of the best punches of the night, a right uppercut that came out of Laughlin, with about 30 seconds in the 10th. He easily won the 11th, taking an exaggerated bow for the fans at the bell. He took the last round, too, as Trinidad's desperation haymakers missed wildly.

“The fighter who beats me in the ring has to be one of the best in the world, and Wright is one of the best,” Trinidad said.

Also on the pay-per-view broadcast, undisputed welterweight champ Zab Judah obliterated Cosme Rivera via third-round TKO.

Judah floored Rivera twice in the first round, first with a wondrous straight left and then with a gift call from referee Joe Cortez after Rivera went down more from grappling than punching.

Judah (34-2, 24 KOs) dominated the second round as well, but an onslaught initiated by a jarring left uppercut quickened Rivera's demise. A seemingly routine combo put Rivera (28-8-2, 20 KOs) on the canvas, and he got up on legs too uneasy to continue.

Former IBF junior flyweight champ Will Grigsby regained his title after 5½ years by winning a lopsided decision over Victor Burgos.

Grigsby (18-2-1, 7 KOs) had fought only four times since losing his title to Ricardo Lopez in October 1999 and was a 3-to-1 underdog against Burgos (36-14-3, 21 KOs). There were no knockdowns, but plenty of back-and-forth action. They combined to throw 1,189 punches, with Burgos actually throwing 15 more but landing at a much lower percentage.

The typical Don King card featured some fine action on the off-TV portion of the undercard.

Former two-division champ Danny Romero Jr. (44-5-2, 37 KOs) looked good in ending a two-year layoff, but came away with an eight-round majority draw against Alex Baba (21-7-1, 16 KOs).

“Man, that sucked,” Romero Jr. said before he walked back to his dressing room. “I felt real, real rusty, but I thought I scored the harder shots. I thought I had it easy.”

Judge Bill Graham scored the bout 77-75 for Baba, while Patricia Morse Jarman and Glenn Trowbridge had it even. The Sweet Science had Romero slightly ahead, but the rounds were plenty close to justify the result.

“I think I proved myself,” Romero Jr. said. “Man, I wanted to win. I knew I wouldn't look fabulous after two years being out, but shoot.”

Romero Jr. hadn't fought since winning the IBA super bantamweight title in May 2003 because his father was diagnosed with a liver disorder and needs a transplant. He decided to return to the ring last year so Romero Sr. could enjoy boxing in his final days, but in December it was discovered a live-donor transplant could be performed using 60 percent of youngest son Juan Romero's liver. The operation is scheduled for May 26.

Sirimongkol Singwangcha beat Michael Clark into a submission in a WBC lightweight eliminator.

The scorecards were all over the place at the time Clark, the No. 1 contender, quit at 1:50 of the seventh round, shortly after Singwangcha, the No. 2 contender, dropped him with a counter right. Heading into the seventh, Singwangcha was up by two points on one card and down by two points on another. The third card was even.

Singwangcha (48-2, 28 KOs) dropped Clark (34-3, 15 KOs) in the fifth round, but the knockdown was negated when referee Tony Gibson deducted a point for a low blow.

Mark Suarez handed Viktor Sydorenko his first defeat to claim the vacant NABO welterweight belt. Suarez (24-2, 12 KOs) landed a crunching right to the cheek, dropping Sydorenko (11-1, 9 KOs) flat on his back, and referee Richard Steele ended the bout at 2:06 of the sixth round.

In ten entertaining middleweight rounds, Randy Griffin scored a unanimous decision victory over Ron Weaver in a fight that was closer than the scorecards indicate. Each judge gave Griffin (22-1, 11 KOs) nine rounds, but Weaver (29-15-2, 22 KOs) dished out some punishment throughout the tussle.

Although Marcus Johnson (4-0, 4 KOs) never dropped his overmatched foe, he pummeled James Green (4-7-1, 0 KOs) until referee Robert Byrd stopped the action at 1:31 of the third round.

Super middleweight Josiah Judah (2-0, 1 KO) scored a questionable knockdown in the first round to edge the human alphabet, Dan Stanisavljevic (3-3-2, 1 KO) and take a four-round spilt decision. The announcement drew boos from the handful of fans that showed up for the show's opening bout.

Articles of 2005

In Boxing News: Floyd Mayweather An All-Time Great, Valuev & More

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A Shot of Boxing on the Last Day of the Year

The Guardian reports that talks have already taken place between Nicolay Valuev‘s co-promoters – Don King and Wilfried Sauerland – and Danny Williams‘ promoter Frank Warren for Nicolay Valuev to face Danny Williams. I’d suggest Danny Williams needs to worry about Matt Skelton (who Williams is reportedly scheduled to fight in February) before he entertains notions of facing the Beast From The East.

The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.

The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holder Mark Woolnough. Woolnough’s career turned controversial – as widely reported in the Canadian press – at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It’s an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.

Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There’s plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld’s opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?

(More Boxing News Links at TheSweetScience.com)

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights

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Hot bantamweight prospect Raul “The Cobra” Martinez heads back to Chicago next Friday night as he is featured in the co-main event of SHOBOX “THE NEW GENERATION,” an action packed evening of professional boxing presented by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions,’ HOME OF THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING, Kathy Duva’s Main Events Inc., along with Miller Lite and TCF Bank.

The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round,  will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.

Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.

Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”

When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”

Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”

Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

The full bout lineup for the evening is:

Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights

Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights

Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights

David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights

Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights

Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights

Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights

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Articles of 2005

Pick ‘Em: Plenty of Big Upcoming Fights in ’06

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Here’s the early call on many top matches scheduled for the first half of 2006: Happy New Year!

As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.

It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.

It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.

With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.

Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.

So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.

The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.

Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.

It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.

The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.

Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.

February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.

First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.

As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.

February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th.  This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.

Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.

It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.

Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.

March both comes in and goes out as a lion.

On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.

All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.

It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.

March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.

This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.

This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.

At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.

It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.

On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.

Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.

Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05.  Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.

Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.

This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.

March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.

Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.

Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.

Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.

Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.

The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.

Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.

Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.

If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.

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