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Articles of 2010

Timothy Bradley & Alfredo ?Perro? Angulo In L.A.

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WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA.-Reporters from as far as 130 miles away gathered in a boxing gym surrounded by the Hollywood Hills and all were there to see Timothy ?Desert Storm? Bradley and Alfredo ?Perro? Angulo.

In a little more than eight days Bradley moves up to welterweight to fight Argentina?s wrecking machine Carlos Abregu (29-0, 23 KOs) and Angulo defends the interim WBO junior middleweight title against Canada?s Joachim Alcine (32-1, 19 KOs) at Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage.

The co-main events will be televised on HBO live on Saturday July 17.

How good are Bradley and Angulo?

?He has sneaky speed,? said Bradley of Angulo.

Unknown to many, Mexicali?s Angulo comes from a lengthy amateur background that includes many international tournaments as a representative of Mexico?s team. He can box, he can move and he can counter with the best.

As a professional Angulo prefers a hunt, seek and destroy style of fighting and it?s one of the main reasons that card carrying boxing fans flock to see him fight.

?People love to see him fight,? said Tony Walker, an HBO executive with the pay-per-view branch.

One thing many fans don?t realize is Angulo and Bradley once collided in the ring as amateurs.

?Whoa it was a close fight. It was a hell of a fight,? said Timothy Bradley Sr. who remembers when his son and Angulo met as 152-pound amateurs. ?He (Bradley) lost by one single point.?

Once again Angulo faces a fast mover who uses speed and slickness to gain an advantage.

?Whatever style he wants to fight is alright with me,? said Angulo (18-1, 15 KOs) whose last three opponents had a similar style including the talented Joel Julio. ?I try to do something every day. If a fighter thinks he knows everything he?s going to lose.?

Angulo seldom smiles for the press and on this day it was no different. A smile for the Mexicali destroyer means in his mind that he?s soft. He?s anything but soft.

Contrary to the Mexican warrior, Bradley has a different approach.

While wrapping his own hands and preparing himself to train in Justin Fortune?s Boxing Gym the Indio based prizefighter who is the top ranked junior welterweight in the world and considered one of the top 10 prizefighters Pound for Pound, smiles generously and answers all questions crisply and brightly.

?Floyd Mayweather is the best fighter in the world,? says Bradley (25-0, 11 KOs) with no hesitation. ?I think Amir Khan is the most protected fighter in the world.?

Bradley wants the big money fights where he can generate the mega millions that other elite fighters enjoy. Whether it?s Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao or Devon Alexander he wants them all. But it has to have the right price.

?People don?t understand it?s a business,? Bradley said. ?Fans don?t understand. They just think I should fight this guy or that guy and not care about the money. That?s not the way it works.?

Bradley?s opponent Abregu is a concrete busting welterweight who has knocked senseless 23 of 29 opponents. He?s never lost.

Where does Bradley rank among top prizefighters today?

?He?s the complete package,? said Steve Kim, columnist for a Maxboxing.com web site based in California. ?He?s one of the best fighters pound for pound.?

Many others agree.

Bradley seeks to prove that he belongs among the elite and maybe, just maybe, he?ll be able to fight one of those other elite boxers.

?Pacman and Floyd Mayweather, I want to fight all those guys,? Bradley said in front of more than 30 reporters. ?My job is to continue to win.?

Other chatter

Nonito ?Filipino Flash? Donaire leads a contingent of Filipino fighters on Saturday in Puerto Rico. Donaire (23-1, 15 KOs) defends the interim WBA junior bantamweight title against Mexico?s Hernan Marquez (27-1, 20 KOs). Also, Bernabe Concepcion fights Juan Manuel Lopez for his WBO featherweight title. Eden Sonsona (21-5, 17 KOs) faces Jonathan Oquendo (18-2, 11 KOs in a bantamweight clash. The Top Rank Promotion fights will be shown on pay-per-view.

Sergio Mora is off the fight card on July 23 at Pechanga Resort and Casino but now Craig McEwan steps in to face San Diego?s Danny Perez, said Richard Schaefer, CEO for Golden Boy Promotions. Mora is fighting Sugar Shane Mosley on Sept. 18 and did not want to risk cancellation should Mora get hurt. For tickets and information at Pechanga (888) 732-4264.

Canada?s Jeannine Garside (10-3-1, 4 KOs) convincingly defeated Germany?s Ina Menzer (26-1, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision in Germany last Saturday to capture the WBC, WBO and WIBF featherweight titles. Garside already had the WIBA title.

Mexico?s Saul ?Canelo? Alvarez (32-0-1, 24 KOs) has a dangerous fight against Argentina?s Luciano Cuello (26-1, 12 KOs) on Saturday in Guadalajara, Mexico. The popular Alvarez recently signed a promotional contract with Golden Boy Promotions and is scheduled to fight on Sept. 18 in Los Angeles.

In a battle of former Mexican world champions Ulises Solis (31-2-2) won decision over Eric Ortiz (32-11-3) on Saturday in Reno, Nevada. Solis lost his title to Brian Viloria in the Philippines last year.

Mexico?s Ana Maria Torres (21-3-2, 13 KOs) knocked out Colombian southpaw Olga Julio (7-8-1) in the fourth round to keep her WBC junior bantamweight title on Saturday. The fight took place in Mexico City. Torres has not lost a fight in three years and that was a split decision lost to Korea?s Myung OK Ryu in North Korea.

Hugo Cazares (32-6-2, 23 KOs) knocked out Everardo Morales (34-15-2) in the seventh round to win his first defense of the WBA junior bantamweight world title on Saturday. Cazares is a former junior flyweight world champion. Both Cazares and Morales fight out of Mexico.

Mexico?s Zulina Munoz (23-1-1, 17 KOs) a hard-hitting bantamweight from Mexico City fights equally dangerous Mayerlin Rivas (6-1, 5 KOs) of Venezuela on Friday in Mexico City. Rivas, 22, only loss came to Sandy Tsagouris in Canada. Munoz, 22, only loss came to Alesia Graf in Germany.

Undefeated Susie Ramadan (14-0, 6 KOs) meets Jane Kuvulani (11-10-2) on Friday July 9, for the vacant WBF bantamweight world title. The fight takes place in Coburg, Australia. Ramadan, 30, fights out of Australia and Kuvulani, 34, out of Kenya.

WBC junior lightweight titleholder Olivia Gerula (12-10-2) defends her world title against America?s Brooke Dierdorff (6-4-1). Gerula is making her first title defense since beating Myriam Chomasz in France last December.

Articles of 2010

Judah To Fight Mbuza March 5 In NJ

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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!”

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Articles of 2010

UFC 125 Preview: Frankie Edgar Vs. Gray Maynard

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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.

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Articles of 2010

Borges Looks Back, And Forward With Hope

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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.

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