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Articles of 2005

Chavez and Son Win Big in LA

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Legendary former three-division world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. promised to come into his “Adios” fight with Ivan Robinson in top physical condition. He made good on his word, and delivered his best performance in years in nearly shutting out Robinson over ten rounds in the main event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA on SET-PPV Saturday night.

Robinson attempted to make a fight of it early, working behind his jab and offering occasional flurries. But the night was all about Julio, and the fight became all about his left hook and perfectly timed right hand over and over. Robinson had no answer for either, other than to simply absorb as much as possible in hopes that Chavez would eventually slow down.

That never happened, as Chavez fought to honor both the capacity crowd that turned out at the Staples Center, as well as his son, Julio Jr. who shared the card with his father for the third time in their respective careers. Such was proven in Julio Sr.’s conditioning, as he entered the ring at a trim and ready 143 lbs. Robinson came in at the same weight, though visibly fleshier. The difference in conditioning also reflected the difference in present-day skill level. Looking at the two, you would think that Chavez was the 34-year-old fighter, and Robinson the 42-year-old looking to say “Adios.”

Robinson nearly said goodnight late in the fourth round, courtesy of a picture-perfect right from Chavez. The shot sent Robinson straight back and down to the canvas for the bout’s lone knockdown. Robinson lay down on the canvas as if to suggest he was done, but sprung up on his feet well before referee Raul Caiz finished his mandatory eight count. Chavez looked to move in for the kill, charging out of his corner the moment action resumed. Chavez scored repeatedly upstairs, but Robinson would hold on until the round’s end to avoid the early exit.

From the fifth round on, Robinson lost his desire to fight competitively. A lot of it had to do with Chavez willing it out of him. Whatever the case, Robinson began taking advantage of the 20 foot ring, using nearly every inch of it while Chavez went on the attack. Body shots repeatedly found their mark, and Robinson was showing signs of wearing down midway through. Ivan looked to steal some time in losing his mouthpiece in the sixth round, drawing a warning from Caiz.

The threat didn’t last long, though, not before Robinson was urged by his corner to get going. Ivan responded by flurrying to start the seventh round, but began covering up with no return once Julio looked to counter and take over. A left hand by Chavez would again eject Robinson’s mouthpiece. Caiz made good on his promise from the round prior, taking a point from Ivan, who bowed to the crowd as Caiz signaled to each judge. Upon reinserting the mouthpiece, Caiz warned Robinson that further infractions would result in a disqualification.

Robinson looked every bit the beaten fighter by the eighth round, as it was all Chavez from beginning to end. Chavez started the round doubling up on his jab, and was doubling and tripling up on his left hooks as the round went on. A straight right from Chavez toward the end of the round once again sent Robinson’s mouthpiece flying, though Caiz had mercy on his soul and let the instance go unpunished. It hardly mattered; Robinson had no shot at winning the fight at that point.

Chavez dominated round nine, but managed to hurt his hand before round’s end – so much that he could be seen grimacing in pain on his stool between the ninth and tenth round.

So how does the 42-year-old veteran of 25 ring years respond? By fighting the tenth and final round with just his left hand. Robinson was such a beaten fighter, that he couldn’t even solve an attack primarily of left hooks to the head and body. To his credit, Robinson ate two dozen or so body shots in the final round alone, but managed to crawl to the final bell without once again hitting the deck.

Scoring became a formality, though judges David Mendoza and Lou Fillipo surprised many by scoring a round for Robinson (32-10-2, 12 KOs) with scores of 99-89 each. Judge David Denkin scored the contest 100-88, which is how TheSweetScience also saw the bout (at least on television).

Afterward, Chavez said goodbye to the city of Los Angeles, though offered no real hint as to whether or not it was the definitive end to his career.

“I just want to thank everyone in Los Angeles,” said Chavez (108-5-2, 87 KOs) after the fight through translator Ricardo Jiminez. “I tried to do a better job, but I hurt my right hand. Thank you Los Angeles … I now leave you my son. Please take care of my son.”

In the meantime, Julio will be taking care of his right hand. Whether or not he’ll need it again in the ring remains to be seen. After tonight, he gave plenty of reason to justify a farewell tour instead of simply saying farewell.

El Matador earns split decision over Famoso

It wasn’t quite the Fight of the Year many anticipated, but former super featherweight titlists Jesus Chavez and Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez did all they could to give a sold-out Staples Center their money’s worth in the chief support. When all was said and done, Chavez would prevail by split decision, earning his first win in nearly two years and the WBC 130 lb. mandatory slot along the way.

The bout was fought at close quarters for the entire twelve rounds, and offered two “Round of the Year” candidates along the way. Chavez dominated the first two and a half rounds before Famoso looked to make a fight of it in a back-and-forth third. A left hook by Hernandez midway through got Chavez’s attention before “El Matador” countered with two left hooks of his own. The two went toe-to-toe for the remainder of the round, which drew a standing ovation from the crowd at rounds end.

Chavez regained control soon thereafter, and by the end of the fifth round managed to produce a cut over Hernandez’s right eye. The sight of his own blood motivated Famoso to pick up the pace in the sixth, and he did all he could to keep the fight at phone booth’s distance the rest of the way through. Chavez did his best to not cooperate, and enjoyed his best moments when he boxed in and out behind his jab.

With the two being such close friends, Chavez managed to accommodate Famoso’s demands for a war once too often. Whenever he did, he let Hernandez right back into the fight. Jesus, responding to his corner’s demand to pick up the pace, attempted to change that once the rounds hit double digits. Both enjoyed plenty of success to the body, but it was Chavez who was getting there first; he was also able to box and come in whenever he pleased. Hernandez had plenty of success, but never while leading.

That changed in the final round, though not before the two embraced. After a brief hug, Hernandez let his hands fly in initiating the bout’s second Round of the Year candidate. Chavez obliged, but for the first time in the fight was forced to fight on Famoso’s terms. Every time Chavez would back off and look to box, Hernandez would bang his own midsection and demand the action be fought toe-to-toe. Carlos flurried to the bitter end, even in getting slightly staggered at the end of the fight by a Chavez right. The two once again embraced at the end of the fight, which was not a classic, but still featuring plenty of bang for your buck.

The scores were as close as the phone booth distance maintained for much of the bout. Hernandez won on Lou Fillipo’s scorecard by 115-113. Chavez won by the same score on David Denkin’s scorecard, and by two rounds more on the card of Max De Luca to earn a split decision and the top ranking among the WBC super featherweight ranking, as he is now mandatory challenger to Marco Antonio Barrera.

Chavez is now 41-3 (28 KOs) earned his first win since winning the WBC title in August 2003. He lost in his first title defense, to Erik Morales in February 2004. That was Chavez’s last fight, as he suffered a torn rotator cuff early in the fight and spent the next year nursing that and a knee injury. Hernandez falls to 41-5-1 (24 KOs) in suffering his second loss in his last three fights.

More results: IBF bantamweight champ Rafael Marquez successfully defended his crown for the fifth time with a twelve round decision over battle-tested Ricardo “Chapo” Vargas. Marquez dominated early before getting rocked with a left hook late in the fourth round. The shot temporarily changed the course of the fight, as Vargas managed to work his way back into the fight by the end of the sixth round. Nacho Beristain urged Marquez to pick up the pace in the seventh, and the fight ceased being competitive from that point forward. Marquez unloaded on Vargas in the tenth in nearly earning a two-point round. A knockdown late in the twelfth provided just that, though it proved to be window-dressing at that point. Scores were 118-109 and 116-111 (2x) for Marquez, who improves to 34-3 (30 KOs). Vargas falls to 37-11-3 (12 KOs) … Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is now 3-0 (3 KOs) in cards where he and his father appear together. Tonight he needed a mere forty-two seconds to dispatch Adam Wynant. A left hook early in the fight stunned Wynant. A follow up left uppercut and combo downstairs and up had Wynant stunned and searching for a safe spot on the canvas to collapse and cover. He did just that, and referee Jack Reiss had no choice but to cease matters 0:42 into the fight. Chavez Jr. improves to 19-0 (14 KOs), while Wynant falls to 9-4-1 (3 KOs) … Unbeaten middleweight prospect Jesus Gonzalez scored an uninspired eight round decision over Dewey Welliver in an eight round bout to start the pay-per-view telecast. No knockdowns, no cuts, no threat of either fighter ever being hurt. Each round was a repeat of its predecessor. Gonzalez is now 17-0 (11 KOs), while Welliver dips to .500; he is now 16-16-1 (5 KOs).

The promoter for the ten-fight card, including five non-televised bouts, was Top Rank Promotions in association with Sycuan Ringside Promotions.

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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