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Articles of 2010

Mike Jones, Seeking A Career Definer With Berto, Takes Care Of Irving Garcia

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ATLANTIC CITY — Unbeaten Philadelphia welterweight contender Mike Jones knocked out Irving Garcia in the fifth round of Russell Peltz’ ShoBox Card Friday night at Boardwalk Hall, flooring the not-so-game Puerto Rican with a body shot, after which Garcia took referee Randy Neumann’s 10-count on his knees.

Jones, who ran his record to 22-0, is ranked second among the world’s 147-pounders by the WBO, third by the WBA, and seventh by both the WBC and IBF.

The veteran Garcia (17-5-3) was exhumed for the occasion after 14 months of inactivity. He had been knocked out by Luis Abregu (Tim Bradley’s impending opponent) in his only fight of 2009, after being credited with back-to-back technical draws in ’08 with Hector Munoz and Yurih Nuszhnenko.

Jones pretty much had his way as long as it lasted, hitting his stride in the second round and dominating Garcia thereafter. Several hard shots in the fourth had already softened up the opponent for the critical barrage in the fifth, when he tattooed Garcia with a series of unanswered punches, the last of which, Garcia’s handlers claimed, might have strayed low.

Although he had ruled the punch a legal one, Neumann seemed prepared – indeed, disposed — to let the bout continue for just a bit longer, had Garcia made even the slightest attempt to regain his feet. Instead Irving resolutely remained in place, fixing the referee with a baleful look as if he hoped he might change his mind. Neumann just kept counting, and reached the count of ten at 1:22 of the fifth.

“I felt like I was breaking him down with every round, said Jones, who hopes to be fighting for a world title before the year is out. (Andre Berto’s WBC version would be his preference.)

With the NABO’s welterweight belt already up for grabs in the main event, the organization created an even more ridiculous title for the co-feature, the result of which was that 34 year-old Lanardo Tyner apparently left the ring the NABO’s new “Youth champion on the strength of his 9th-round TKO of Floridian Antwone Smith. Youth is wasted on the young, anyway.

Eleven years Tyner’s junior, the highly regarded Smith had in his last outing knocked out Frankie Gonzalez on DiBella’s “Fighting for Haiti Andre Berto-Juan Quintana card at the BankAtlantic Center back in April. Tyner, a Motown product who now lives in Houston, was 23-3 coming in, albeit against a higher caliber of opposition. (Tyner’s three career losses were to Mike Arnaoutis and then-unbeatens Lamont Peterson and Saul Alvarez.),

Tyner, after demonstrating his willingness to take the best his younger adversary could muster in the early going, steadily pulled ahead by outworking his opponent. Smith’s right eye was closing by the midpoint of the bout, and the longer the fight wore on, the less firepower he seemed to have at his disposal to discourage Tyner’s relentless march. Tyner shifted his attack downstairs in the ninth, and eventually an accumulation of hard body shots sent a weary Smit, who battled a virus during fight week, sliding down the ropes to the canvas. Even though he made it to his feet, Smith showed no eagerness to resume hostilities, leading Earl Morton to wave it off at 1:15 of the round.

At the time of the stoppage Tyner led 78-74 on the cards of George Hill and Joseph Pasquale. Donald Givens had Smith leading by a point. Smith fell to 18-2, while Tyner is now 24-3.

The most devastating knockout of the evening came in the final undercard bout preceding the ShoBox telecast, when Puerto Rican-born Lancaster (Pa.) welterweight Manuel Guzman bounced back from a first-round knockdown to flatten Artick Butler at 2:53 of the second round. Butler (5-2) had been knocked out by Eddie Caminero in his pro debut at the Roxy in Boston, but had won five in a row since. He appeared on his way to a sixth when he knocked down Guzman seconds into their scheduled six-rounder, but before the first was over he had tasted the canvas himself, courtesy of what appeared to be a Guzman jab.

Guzman, now 7-9-1, has something of a reputation as a spoiler (two years ago in New York he upset then-unbeaten ticket-seller Tommy Rainone at the Aviator Arena in Brooklyn), and he reinforced it in his second-round performance. Butler actually went down again earlier in the round, but was given the benefit of the doubt by referee Steve Smoger, who ruled a slip. There was no ambiguity to the final knockdown: An overhand right from Guzman left Butler motionless for well over a minute; he revived just about the time the EMTs reached ringside with a stretcher. Butler managed to leave the ring under his own steam, but was later hospitalized for observation.

Twenty year-old Bronx prospect Steven Martinez 20 TKO’d Brooklyn’s Jason Thompson two rounds into their all-New York junior middleweight bout. After a battering from Martinez, Thompson had gone down, more or less as the result of attrition, earlier in the round. Martinez had landed a big right hand and driven Thompson to the ropes, where he continued to fire away without response. A left Martinez hook immediately preceded referee Ricardo Vera’s intervention at 2:37 of the second. The win was Martinez’ fifth in as many pro bouts, all inside the distance. Thompson, who has won just one of his last seven, is now 5-6-1.

Philadelphia super-middle Joe Dunn probably looked at Rafael Jastrzebski’s 2-6-1 record and figured he’d drawn a soft touch for his pro debut. Wrong. Jastrebski, a rugged 29 year-old Polish émigré from Krakow now domiciled in Lakewood, N.J., might have started off his career 0-6-1, but he dominated Dunn in their 4-rounder to register his third straight win. Lynn Carter, Emil Conforti and Luis Rivera all scored it 40-36, as did TSS. Jastrzebski is now 3-6-1, Dunn 0-1.

In another early bout, Camden welterweight Miguel Corcino staggered Epi Rodriguez with a thunderous right seconds into their bout, following with a fusillade of punches that put his Harrisburg opponent on the deck. Although Rodriguez was allowed to continue, the moment he was turned loose, Corcino nailed him with a left hook so devastating that Smoger had stopped the fight even before Rodriguez hit the canvas. Total elapsed time: 58 seconds. Corcino is now 2-0, Rodriguez 0-3.

Cape May welterweight Josh Mercado improved to 5-1 with a unanimous decision (39-37, three times) in his 4-rounder with Philadelphian Kywayne Hill (1-5). In his January, 2001 pro debut at the Blue Horizon, Hill scored a first-round knockout over one Harold Council. Now 32, he hasn’t won a fight since.

Kennett Square (Pa.) light-heavy Anthony Caputo (5-0) scored a second-round TKO over North Carolinian Walter Edwards (1-5) when Smoger rescued Edwards, dazed and perched in a sitting position on the ring ropes, with Caputo taking target practice, at 2:44 of the round.

Although Camden junior lightweight Jason Sosa and his Philadelphia opponent Clinton Douglas had engaged in a dozen aggregate fights prior to their meeting on Friday’s undercard was somewhat misleading, since neither had beaten an opponent who had ever won a fight, a curiosity that would inevitably be rectified should their 4-round prelim produce a verdict – which it did. Sosa prevailed via a unanimous decision (40-36, Conforti and Carter, 39-37 Rivera) to remain unbeaten at 3-0-1. Douglas is 3-4-1.

Wilmington (Del.) junior welter Ryan Belasco (12-4) snapped a two-fight losing streak, winning a unanimous decision over Philly journeyman Kevin Carmody (10-13-3) in their six-rounder. Conforte scored a shutout at 60-54, while Rivera and Carter each gave Carmody a round at 59-55. Carmody has lost seven in a row, although his December 2007 knockout by Vernon Paris in Detroit was later changed to no contest.

BOARDWALK HALL

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.

July 9, 2010

WELTERWEIGHTS: Mike Jones, 146 ½, Philadelphia KO’d Irving Garcia, 146 ½, Vega Baja, Puerto Rico (5) (Retains NABO title)

Lanardo Tyler, 148, Houston, Tex TKOd Antwone Smith, 145 ½, Hollywood, Fla.. (9)

Josh Mercado, 145, Cape May, N.J. dec. Kywame Hill, 143 ½, Philadelphia (4)

Manuel Guzman, 146 ½, Lancaster, Pa. KO’d Ardrick Butler, 148, Philadelphia (2)

Miguel Corsino, 145, Camden, NJ, TKO’d Epi Cosme Rodriguez, 145 ½, Lancaster, Pa. (1)

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS: Anthony Caputo, 179, Kennett Square, Pa. TKO’d Walter Edwards, 173 ½, Wilson, N.C. (2)

SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Rafael Jastrzebski, 167, Krakow, Poland dec. Joseph Dunn, 162, Philadelphia (4)

JUNIOR MIDDLES: Steve Martinez, 152 ½, Bronx, NY TKO’d Jason Thompson, 151 ½, Brooklyn, N.Y. (2)

JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHTS: Ryan Belasco, 137, Wilmington, Del. Dec. Kevin Camody, 138 ½, Philadelphia (6)

JUNIOR LIGHTWEIGHTS: Jason Sosa, 128 ½, Camden, NJ. Dec. Clinton Douglas, 129, Philadelphia (4)

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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UFC_Edgar_and_Maynard_Dec._2010
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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