Connect with us

Articles of 2010

Cottos Not Shot; Stops Foreman In Ninth



NEW YORK — Miguel Cotto won a 9th-round TKO when a gimpy Yuri Foreman was unable to maintain his footing. The Puerto Rican star captured Foreman’s WBA junior middleweight title in a bizarre fight before 20, 272 at Yankee Stadium Saturday night.

The last fight at a Yankee Stadium had taken place 34 years ago when Arthur Mercante refereed the controversial third fight between Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton. Mercant’s son Arthur Jr. was the third man in the ring last night, and played several important roles. Not only did he take Foreman into custody, but a round earlier he had refused to accept a flag of surrender when Foreman trainer Joe Grier fired a white towel out of the corner.

Foreman was already bleedng from cuts to both eyes when he slipped on the canvas, injuring his right ankle and making the outcome a for-gone conclusion.

Cotto’s record improved to 35-2 with last night’s win, while in suffering his first defeat Foreman slipped – sorry – to 28-1. The courageous perfomance will almost certainly lead to a rematch.

The co-featured bout, an East-vs.-West matchup of previously undefeated, 24 year-old 154-pounders. California-based, Freddie Roach-trained Vanes Martirosyan retained his NABF and NABO titles with a unanimous decision over a frustrated and ultimately not-so-Mean Joe Greene of Queens.

Greene entered the ring trotted out in the pinstripes of the home team, but once the bell rang it shortly became apparent that he was going to need more than the allegiance of the audience. Martirosyan is a shade quicker, and probably a little smarter, too. When he strayed low with a body shot, for instance, Greene took umbrage and retaliated by firing a low blow of his own. While referee Steve Smoger might have missed the original infraction, he certainly didn’t miss Greene’s attempt to even the score, so Greene drew the warning.

CompuBox stats revelaed Martirosyan to be the busier fighter, as well as the more accurate, and while the southpaw Greene threw 222 jabs to Martiroysyan’s 191, the latter actually landed more of those, too – 40 to Greene’s 29. Martirosyan was also credited with the fight’s only knockdown, although it wasn’t much of one – a dubious trip to the canvas just before the final bell appeared to have been occasioned as much by a shove as a punch.

In the end, Julie Lederman had Martirosyan winning by a 98-92 margin, while both Blly Costello and Tom Shreck had it 96-93. (TSS scored it 99-90.) Martirosyan improved to 28-0, while in absorbing his first loss Greene fell to 22-1.

The principal off-TV bout, a collision of New York-based middleweights with ethnic constituencies of their own, would likely have been a better contest had it occurred three years ago, but their respective backers were too interested in protecting their unbeaten records to put them in what would have been a real fight. Polish-born Pawel Wolak earned a unanimous decision over Ireland’s James Moore, in a large measure because Moore, at 32, has lost quite a bit of tread on the tire.

Moore staked himself to an early lead with a big first round, and finished gamely, but in between spent much of the evening on the defensive, as Wolak waged the bout largely on his own terms. Judges George Di Gabriel and Kevin Morgan scored the bout 97-93 (as did The Sweet Science), while Frank Lombardi had it moderately closer at 96-94. Wolak is now 26-1. Moore, who was beaten by Foreman in Atlantic City two years ago, dropped to 17-3 with the latest loss.

* * *

The honor of contesting the first-ever boxing match in the new version of Yankee Stadium had fallen to a pair of New York welterweight prospects, Christian Martinez of the Bronx and Jonathan Cuba of Manhattan. If there was any attendant pressure from that historical role, it must be said that the two youngsters handled better it on balance than did Sparkle Lee.

Normally a competent referee, Lee appeared overly flustered in experiencing a near-meltdown that commenced with the bell ending the third round.

Cuba, already bleeding from a cut near his right eye, may have let his guard down and was flattened by a Martinez right hand that landed in precise concert with the bell. As Lee administered the mandatory 8-count it was apparent that Cuba was stlll woozy from the punch, and no one would have objected, least of all Cuba, who barely knew where he was, if the referee had stopped it then and there.

Instead she not only allowed Cuba to continue, but twice ordered the fighters to resume hostilities – which they did – only to have to dive back into the fray to separate them when shouts from the commission table reminded her that the round was in fact over.

Cuba’s legs were still wobbly as the fourth commenced, and in short order he was jolted by a Martinez combination and then floored by a solid right. He made it to his feet, but seemed resigned to his fate. Cuba, in fact, was resting in a neutral corner, his arms draped across the ropes and his back to the ring and staring vacantly in the general direction of the left field pole when when Lee interrupted his reverie by ordering the fighters to resume. Only after a right from Martinez stood Cuba straight up in his tracks and a left put him down for the third time, Lee was finally forced to stop it at 1:18 of the fourth. Martinez remained unbeaten at 4-0, while Cuba’s record fell to 2-2.

Lee, who did not have the best of nights, also seemed tardy in rescuing Korean Jae Sung-Lee (10-3-1), a sixth-round TKO victim in his featherweight bout against unbeaten New Jersey featherweight Jorge Diaz. Diaz (14-0) had decked his foe with a right hand in the first, had landed well over half a dozen hard, unanswered punches against his defenseless opponent by the time the referee stepped in at 1:54 of the round.

* * *

Another undercard fight saw lightweight Abner Cotto, Miguel Cotto’s second cousin, improve to 8-0 with a unanimous decision over Texas import Edgar Portillo (6-5-1). Judges Luis Rivera and Larry Hazzard Jr. scored it 59-55, Matt Ruggero 58-55.

Colorado journeyman Terry Buterbaugh brought a modest 5-3-1 to the Bronx, plainly outworked local favorite Tommy Rainone, and was rewarded for his efforts with a unanimous decision. So listless was Rainone’s performance that Hazzard (60-54) didn’t give him a round. John Signorile and Ruggero both had it 59-55. Rainone is now 12-4. Puerto Rican lightweight Juan Gonxalez (8-0) outpointed Juan Lucio (4-1-1) of Pharr, Texas in their 4-round prelim. Signorile (40-36) had a shutout; Ruggero and Hazzard returned 39-37 scorecards.

* * *

Stadium Slugfest

Yankee Stadium

New York

June 5, 2010

JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Miguel Cotto, 153 ½, Caguas, Puerto Rico TKO’d Yuri Foreman, 154, Gomel, Belarus, (9) (Wins WBA title)

Vanes Martirosyan, 153 ¾, Glendale, Calif. Dec. Joe Greene, 151 ½, Queens, New York (10) (Retains NABF and NABO titles)

MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Pawel Wolak, 156, Debica, Poland dec. James Moore, 155 ½, Arklow, Ireland (10)

WELTERWEIGHTS: Terry Buterbaugh, 145 ½, Colorado Springs, Colo. Dec. Tommy Rainone, 147, Plainview, NY (6)

Christian Martinez, 141, Queens, New York, N.Y. TKO’d Jonathan Cuba, 141 ¼, New York, N.Y. (4)

LIGHTWEIGHTS: Juan Gonzalez, 132 ½, Bayamon, P.R. dec. Juan Lucio, 132 ¼, Pharr, Tex. (4)

Abner Cotto, 133 ¼, Caguas, P.R. dec. Edgar Portillo, 134, Midland, Tex. (6)

FEATHERWEIGHTS: Jorge Diaz, 125 ½, New Brunswick, N.J. TKO’d Jae Sung Lee, 126 ½, Hanam, So. Korea (6)

Articles of 2010

Judah To Fight Mbuza March 5 In NJ




Totowa, NJ – Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO, announced their promotional firm won the purse bid held at IBF headquarters in East Orange, NJ, Thursday. The bid was for the right to hold the IBF's junior welterweight title fight between Zab Judah of Brooklyn, NY and Las Vegas, and South Africa's Kaizer Mabuza.

IBF Championships Chairman, Lindsay Tucker explained, “It is a 50-50 split of the earnings between the two fighters. Kaizer is ranked No. 1 by the IBF, and Judah is No. 2. Where the fight will be held is up to the winning bidder.”

Judah (39-6, 26 KOs) is promoted by Main Events and his own firm Super Judah Promotions, and Branco Milenkovic, of South Africa, promotes Mabuza (23-6-3, 14 KOs).

Kathy Duva confirmed the fight will take place at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, late February or early March this year as part of Main Events' Brick City Boxing Series.  (Saturday Update: the fight is March 5th, in NJ at the Pru Center. The bout will be part of a PPV card.)

“We are very happy that Zab has the opportunity to fight for the IBF Junior Welterweight title right here in New Jersey.  Winning this fight will put Zab right in the mix with the winner of Bradley-Alexander and Amir Khan.” Duva elaborated, ” Zab will work very hard to win this fight so that he will be one step closer to his ultimate goal of unifying all of the Junior Welterweight titles by the end of 2011!”

Comment on this article

Continue Reading

Articles of 2010

UFC 125 Preview: Frankie Edgar Vs. Gray Maynard



Few predicted Frankie Edgar would grab the UFC lightweight championship last year but he did. Most felt he would eventually win it but Edgar not only took the title, he beat one of the best mixed martial artists in history to do it.

Edgar (13-1) has emerged from the milieu of nondescript MMA fighters to become one of the more brilliant performers for Ultimate Fighting Championship. Next comes a rematch with Gray “The Bully” Maynard (11-0) tomorrow at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. UFC 125 will be televised on pay-per-view.

All it took was not one, but two victories over BJ Penn.

If you’re not familiar with Penn, he’s one of the most versatile fighters in MMA history and had been nearly unbeatable in the 155-pound lightweight division. That is until he clashed with Edgar. Until he met New Jersey’s Edgar, the Hawaiian fighter chopped down lightweight opponents with ease. It was only the heavier welterweights he had problems against. Namely: Canada’s Georges St. Pierre.

Edgar showed poise, speed and grit in defeating Penn in back-to-back fights. The world took notice.

“You know, if I keep winning fights, the respect will come eventually,” said Edgar during a conference call.

Now Edgar will find out if he can avenge the only loss on his record.

“I just think I grew as a fighter. You know, mentally, you know, physically I, you know, possess differently skills, increased – you know, I think I boxed and got better, my Jiu-Jitsu got better and, you know, just have much more experience now,” Edgar says.

Maynard seeks to find out if Edgar has added any more fighting tools to his repertoire. Back in April 2008, the artillery shelled out was not enough to beat the Las Vegas fighter.

“It’s a perfect time. He had the chance and, you know, he took it and the time is now for me and I’m prepared,” said Maynard (11-0). “Any time you’re going up against the top in the world, you evolve and change and so I’m prepared for a new fight, so it will be good. I’m pumped for it.”

Though Maynard’s record indicates he is unbeaten that’s not entirely true. He did suffer a defeat to Nate Diaz during The Ultimate Fighter series and subsequently avenged that loss last January.

The UFC lightweight title is in Maynard’s bull’s eye.

“Looking to take the belt for sure,” said Maynard. “We’ll see on January 1.”

Edgar versus Maynard should be a good one.

Other bouts:

Nate Diaz (13-5) faces Dong Hyun Kim (13-0-1) in another welterweight tussle. Diaz is the only fighter with a win over Maynard. Anyone watching TUF remembers Maynard tapping out from a Diaz guillotine choke. The Modesto fighter has a tough fight against South Korea’s Kim.

Chris Leben (21-6) fights Brian Stann (9-3) in a middleweight fight. Leben is a veteran of MMA and if an opponent is not ready for a rough and tumble fight, well, that fighter is not going to win. Stann dropped down from light heavyweight and we’ll see if the cut in weight benefits the Marine.

Brandon Vera (11-5) meets Thiago Silva (14-2) in a light heavyweight match up. Vera is trying to rally back to the promising fighter he was tabbed several years back. Silva is a very tough customer and eager to crash the elite. A victory by either fighter could mean a ticket to the big time.

Clay Guida (27-8) versus Takanori Gomi (32-6) in a lightweight bout. Guida has become one of the most feared fighters without a title. No one has an easy time with the long-haired fighter. Gomi lost to Kenny Florian but knocked out Tyson Griffin. Can he survive Guida?

Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (22-8) clashes with Jeremy Stephens (18-6) in another lightweight fight. Davis is a go-for-broke kind of fighter and is looking to get back in the win column after a tumultuous battle with Nate Diaz last August. Stephens needs a win too. In his last bout he lost to Melvin Guillard.

Comment on this article

Continue Reading

Articles of 2010

Borges Looks Back, And Forward With Hope




As the end of another year approaches, there’s no need to invoke Charles Dickens to describe what went on in boxing. It was neither the best of times nor the worst of times. It was just too much time spent on The Fight That Never Took Place.

For the second straight year the sport could not deliver The Fight, the only one fans universally wanted and even casual fans craved – the mix between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao.  No one has to be singled out for blame for that failure because this time there’s plenty to go around on both sides. The larger issue is what does it say about a sport when it cannot deliver its top event?

What would the NFL be without the Super Bowl? Where would major league baseball be without the World Series? Golf without the Masters? College basketball without March Madness?

They would all be less than they could be and so it was with boxing this year. Having said that, the sport was not without its signature moments. It was not bereft of nights that left those of us with an abiding (and often unrequited) love for prize fighting with good reason to hope for the future.

Three times promoter Bob Arum took the sport into massive stadium venues just like the good (very) old days and each time boxing drew a far larger crowd than its many critics expected. Twice those fights involved the sport’s leading ambassador, Pacquiao, who brought in crowds of 40,000 to 50,000 fans into Cowboys Stadium against inferior opponents Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito. Imagine what he might have done had Mayweather been in the opposite corner?

While both fights were, as expected, lopsided affairs, they showcased the one boxer who has transcended his sport’s confining walls to become a cultural icon and world celebrity. Pacquiao alone put boxing (or at least one boxer) on the cover of TIME and into the pages of such varied publications as Esquire, GQ, The Wall Street Journal, the American Airlines in-flight magazine and even Atlantic Monthly.

As history has proven time and again, that is what happens when boxing has a compelling personality to sell it and Pacquiao is that. Mayweather is such a person as well,  but for different reasons.

The one night he appeared in a boxing ring, he set the year’s pay-per-view standard against Shane Mosley while also leaving a first hint of dark mystery when he was staggered by two stinging right hands in the second round.

Mayweather was momentarily in trouble for the first time in his career but the moment passed quickly and Mosley never had another. By the end he had been made to look old and futile, a faded athlete who’d had his chance and was unable to do anything with it. So it goes in this harsh sport when the sands are running out of the hour glass.

As always there were some surprising upsets, most notably Jason Litzau’s domination of an uninterested and out of shape Celestino Caballero and Sergio Martinez’s one-punch demolishment of Paul Williams. The latter was not so much an upset as it was a stunning reminder that when someone makes a mistake against a highly skilled opponent in this sport they don’t end up embarrassed. They end up unconscious.

SHOWTIME did all it could to further the future of the sport, offering up a continuation of its interminably long but still bold Super Six super middleweight tournament as well as the launching of a short form bantamweight tournament which already gave fans to two stirring and surprising finishes with Joseph Agbeko decisioning Jhonny Perez and Abner Mares upsetting Victor Darchinyan in a battle of contusions.

While the Super Six has had its problems – including several of the original six pulling out – it also lifted the profile of former Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward from nearly unknown to the cusp of universal recognized as the best super middleweight in the world this side of Lucian Bute. If Ward continues winning he’ll get to Bute soon enough because that’s why SHOWTIME signed a TV deal with the Canadian and America may get its next boxing star if Ward proves to be what I think he is – which is still underrated and underappreciated.

HBO and HBO pay-per-view put on 23 shows, few of them compelling and many of them paying big money to the wrong people while doing little or nothing to grow the sport that has helped make their network rich. But they did have the knockout of the year – Martinez’s second round destruction of Williams – and some fights in the lower weight classes that were left you wanting more.

Two new names popped up who are causing the kind of fan reaction that also gives us hope for 2011 – American Brandon Rios and Mexican Saul Alvarez. They are two of the sport’s brightest young prospects because each comes to the arena the old-fashioned way – carrying nothing but bad intentions.
Aggression and knockouts still sell boxing faster than anything else and each exhibited plenty of both this year and left fans wanting to see more. Alvarez is already a star in Mexico without having yet won a world title and Rios is the definition of “promise.’’ Whether the star will continue to shine and promise will be fulfilled may be answered next year and so we wait anxiously to find out.

Backed by Golden Boy Promotions, there is no reason 2011 shouldn’t be Alvarez’s year and if it is people will notice and remember him because he has a crowd-pleasing style that is all about what sells most.

That is what boxing needs more of – fresh faces and new stars… so as fans we should root for guys like Alvarez, Ward, Rios and young Brit Amir Khan, who is a star in England but still a question mark with a questionable chin but a fighter’s heart here in the U.S.

Those guys and others not yet as well known are the future of boxing, a sport that for too long has been recycling the likes of Mosley (as it will again in May for one last beating against Pacquiao in a fight that's a joke), Bernard Hopkins (who can still fight although it is unclear why he bothers or where it’s all headed), Roy Jones and, sadly, even 48-year-old Evander Holyfield, who continues to delude himself but not many other people into believing he will soon unify the heavyweight title again.
If fighters like Ward, Alvarez, Rios, Khan, WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto and middleweight king Sergio Martinez continue their rise they could be the antidote for the art of the retread that Arum and Golden Boy have been forcing fans to buy the past few years at the expense of what boxing needs most – fresh faces.

The heavyweight division, which many believe determines the relevancy of boxing to the larger world, remains a vast desert of disinterest here in the US. The Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, hold 75 per cent of the title belts but few peoples’ imaginations in the US, although to be fair they are European superstars and don’t really need U.S. cable TV money to thrive economically.

Each defended their titles twice this year, Vitali against lame competition (Albert Sosnowski and Shannon Briggs) and Wladimir against better fighters (Sam Peter and Eddie Chambers) but not competitive ones. Sadly, there is no American on the horizon to challenge them, a comment on the division and on our country, where the athletes who used to be Joe Louis or Muhammad Ali now opt for the easier and frankly safer road of the NFL or the NBA. Who can blame them considering all the nonsense a fighter has to go through to just make a living these days?

The one heavyweight match that would be compelling and might lift the sport up for at least a night would be either of the Klitschkos facing lippy WBA champion David Haye. The fast-talking Brit claims to not be ducking them but he’s had more maladies befall him after shouting from the rooftops how much he wants to challenge them that you have to wonder if Haye is simply a case of big hat no cattle syndrome.

For the sake of the sport, we should all be lighting candles each night in hopes our prayers will be answered and Haye will finally agree to meet one of them. It may not prove to be much of a fight but at least it will give us something to talk about for a few months.

Whatever Haye and the Klitschkos decide the fighter with the most upside at the moment however seems to be Sergio Martinez.  He has matinee idol looks, a big enough punch to put Paul Williams to sleep with one shot and a work ethic second to none. The Argentine fighter had a year for himself, starting with a drubbing of Kelly Pavlik followed by his demolishment of Williams. Those kinds of victories, coupled with his Oscar De La Hoya-like looks, are the type of things that if HBO or SHOWTIME would get behind him could allow Martinez to capture the attention of both fight fans and more casual ones.

In general, Hispanics fighters continued to dominate much of the sport’s front pages with Juan Manuel Marquez’s two victories in lightweight title fights leading that storyline. His war with Michael Katsidis is a strong candidate for Fight of the Year and his technical skill and calm demeanor make him the uncrowned challenger to Pacquiao. The two have unfinished business that should be settled this year if Arum stops standing in the way.

Two other fighters who gave us moments to remember in 2010 were Juan Manuel Lopez, who knocked out three solid opponents including highly respected Mexican warrior Rafael Marquez, and Giovani Segura, who won four times (that’s three years work for Mayweather) in 2010, all by knockout. Along the way, Segura defeated one of the great minimum weight fighters in history, slick Ivan Calderon, to win the belt on Aug. 28.

Lastly, boxing gave us another magical cinematic moment as well with the release of “The Fighter,’’ a film based on the life and hard times of junior welterweight scrapper Micky Ward. The film has won rave reviews and many awards and seems likely to have several of its actors nominated for Academy Awards, most notable Christian Bale for his sadly humorous portrayal of Ward’s troubled half brother, former fighter Dickie Ecklund.

Boxing has a long history of providing the framework for memorable movies and it did it again with “The Fighter,’’ a film that did more for boxing than any promoter did all year.

All in all, it wasn’t the best of years for boxing but it was a good year that picked up speed in the final months and, like that great golf shot you finally hit out of the rough on the 18th, left us with reasons to hope for a better year in 2011. If somehow it gives us Mayweather-Pacquiao, the emergence of Alvarez and Rios, the ascension of Martinez and Haye vs. the best available Klitschko in addition to the kind of solid performances that always come along, it could be a year to remember.

Comment on this article

Continue Reading