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Bracero Gets Another Win As Broadway Boxing Headliner

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DiBellaLogo-no-websiteNEW YORK —  Lou DiBella doesn’t claim to have originated the concept, but over the years he has fine-tuned the formula to the point that the term “Broadway Boxing” conjures up its own specific image – that of club fights before a lively and emotionally-invested audience whose members have been lured by the inclusion of one of their own, be he (or she) a representative of an ethnic strain or a neighborhood or, sometimes, a boxing gym.

The presence of one such constituency had already been guaranteed by the inclusion in of the energetic (and undefeated) Gabriel (Tito) Bracero, a self-described “Nuyorican” from the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn in Wednesday night’s main event.  In lieu of the traditional villain’s black hat, Bracero’s opponent, one Christopher Fernandez of Salt Lake City, entered the ring in a feathered war bonnet that made him look like an understudy in some road company production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest.”

Competitive bouts are also a frequent hallmark of Broadway Boxing shows, but DiBella’s matchmakers aren’t so committed to that principle that they’d chance getting a sure-fire ticket-seller like Bracero beat on a cold night in February. The 34 year-old Fernandez came to New York having lost four of his previous five fights, and the only thing more certain than the eventual verdict in this one was that it was bound to last the distance. Bracero, now 14-0, has stopped just one opponent in a pro career that goes back to 2001, with time off for good behavior.

The inevitable result was that a couple of hundred Bracero fans clad in matching red t-shirts (what other color would Tito’s army wear?) spent eight rounds yelling themselves hoarse while their man racked up another shutout victory.

Fernandez might not have stood a chance from the moment he signed the contract, but he was experienced enough to avoid doing anything silly that might have encouraged Bracero to double his career knockout total. Tito, however,  might have gotten more exercise, and less resistance, from a speed bag. Apart from a mysterious sixth-round one-point deduction from referee Arthur Mercante Jr. (whose semaphore suggested that Fernandez might have been guilty of either nudging his opponent or playing a sour note on a fiddle), matters proceeded as expected right up until the final minute, when Fernandez threw caution to the wind and tried to mix it up for the first time all night. Bracero had to celebrate with his face bloodied by a cut near his right eye. At that point whether it was caused by a clash of heads or a stray punch was somewhat immaterial.

Judges Julie Lederman and John McKaie both scored the bout 80-71, as did the Sweet Science. Steve Weisfeld (79-72) somehow found it in his heart to reward Fernandez, now 19-11-1, with a round.

The undercard featured a couple of upsets, and in truth there should probably have been a third. Ray Smith, an opponent imported from Arkansas for unbeaten Maryland light-heavyweight Mark Tucker, deserved no worse than a draw, but despite rocking Tucker several times and beating him to the punch throughout the second, third, and fourth rounds, emerged on the wrong end of a unanimous decision in which the 59-55 cards of Lederman, McKaie, and Waleska Roldan concurred. Tucker, who will presumably retain his WBO top-ten rating as a result of the verdict, is now 15-0, Smith 9-5.

Capt. Boyd Melson, a West Point graduate whose rooting section included a uniformed contingent from the Corps of Cadets, improved to 2-0 and for the second time in as many pro fights announced that he was donating his purse to stem cell research. It’s hard to know how this grand gesture might have gone over had Melson lost to Californian Marquis Bruce (0-1-1), and as it was he barely squeaked by with a majority decision. McKaie and Roldan saw it 39-37; McKaie 38-38.

Bronx junior middleweight Steve Martinez, extended the distance for the first time in his career on a December Broadway Boxing card, did his best to atone by stopping California foe Ishwar Amador in the first round to run his pro mark to 8-0. Amador fell to 11-9.

Long Beach (N.Y.) light-heavy Seanie Monaghan, who came within an eyelash of his first defeat on that same December card, brings his own portable Irish-American gallery nearly the size of Bracero’s, and his battle with Yonkers’ Angel Gonzalez was an all-out war for the three rounds it lasted. Both men disdain anything resembling traditional defense, and for nine minutes they took turns battering the snot out of one another. Whenever one appeared to punch himself out, the other would take up the cudgel and whale away. Eventually something had to give, and in this case it was Gonzalez, who at the end of the third collapsed into his seat so hard he nearly broke the corner stool. This evidence of fatigue did not escape the attention of the ringside physician, who duly advised referee Wayne Kelly to stop the bout. Monaghan is now 5-0, while Gonzalez, later heard complaining that he had been the victim of a “conspiracy,” dropped to 2-4.

Brooklyn flyweight Keisher McLeod-Wells, the receptionist at Gleason’s Gym in her day job, improved to 4-1 by outpointing her California opponent Melissa McMorrow (4-1-3) in an entertaining four-rounder, while Quincy (Mass.) lightweight Ryan Kielczewski stretched his pro mark to 9-0 with a lopsided win over Minnesotan Wilshaun Boxley (6-8-1). Boxley started well, but by the last round looked like a man praying for the final bell as he reeled from Kielczewski’s relentless onslaught.

Deano (Bad News) Burrell, one-half of a pair of identical twins from London who flew across the pond to embark on his professional career in New Jersey last November, was matched against an opponent who had never won a fight – until Wednesday night. Sidell Blocker of Pleasanton, N.J. carried the evening on the cards of all three judges (Steve Weisfeld and Lederman 38-37, McKaie 37-26) to break his maiden and is now 1-3-1. Bad News (does that make twin Scotty “Good News”) is 1-1.

If nothing else, the opening bout of the evening demonstrated that Sampson Lewkowicz doesn’t always have the Midas touch. The advisor to middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (Martinez was in attendance to watch the pro debut of his new stablemate) had persuaded DiBella to invest in a promotional contract with El Paso (Tex.) lightweight Allen Benitez. Martinez’ trainer Gabriel Sarmiento worked Benitez’ corner in tandem with venerable New York cut-man Jimmy Glenn in what appears to have been a pretty expensive pro debut. New Jerseyite Joseliz Cepeda ran his own record to 2-2 with a unanimous decision over the highly-touted Texan. Roldan and Weisfeld viewed it 39-27, McKaie 40-36.

*  *  *
Broadway Boxing
At B.B. King’s Blues Club, New York
February 9, 2011

WELTERWEIGHTS: Gabriel Bracero, 142, Brooklyn, N.Y. dec. Chris Fernandez, 140 ½, Salt Lake City, Utah (8)

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS: Mark Tucker, 174, Eldersburg, Md. dec. Ray Smith, 176, Fort Smith, Ark. (6)

Seanie Monaghan, 176, Long Beach, N.Y. TKO’d Angel Gonzalez, 176 ½, Yonkers, N.Y. (3)

JUNIOR MIDDLES: Steven Martinez, 153 ¼, Bronx, N.Y. TKO’d Ishwar Amador, 153 ½, Mira Loma, Calif. (1)

Boyd Melson, 153 ½, White Plains, N.Y. dec. Marquise Bruce, 153 ½, Los Angeles, Calif. (4)

LIGHTWEIGHTS: Sidell Blocker, 133, Pleasantville, N.J. dec. Deano Burrell, 131 ¼, London, England (4)

Ryan Kielczewski, 131 ¼, Quincy, Mass. dec. Wilshaun Boxley, 132, Coon Rapid, Minn. (6)

FEATHERWEIGHTS: Joseliz Cepeda, 127, Newark, N.J. dec. Allan Benitez, 126 ¼, El Paso, Tex.  (4)

FLYWEIGHTS: Keisher McLeod-Wells, 107 ½, Brooklyn, N.Y. dec. Melissa McMorrow, 108, San Carlos, Calif. (4)

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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