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Boston Guy Borges Remembers Goody Petronelli

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kings2Certified good-guy Goody in 2008, at a book signing event for the late George Kimball's “Four Kings.” Signing took place at McGreevy's Saloon in Boston, Sept. 28, 2008. (Photo courtesy of photog Dick Haley, of Haley Booksellers in Boston.)

The first thing he’d say when you walked into his gym was, “You still doing your roadwork?’’

Goody Petronelli had the keen eye of a man who trained fighters for a living so he knew the answer whether you lied or told the truth but he always had the grace to nod in agreement regardless of how you answered.

Rock hard and reed thin, Petronelli had the lithe body of a long distance runner, which he was almost to the end of his days. He made his name in boxing developing and training Marvin Hagler, the two of them and Petronelli’s brother Pat forming what Hagler used to call The Triangle. They were three strong-willed men who stood up to forces in boxing that tried mightily for years to hold  them back, refusing to turn on each other but rather growing closer as they slowly took control of the middleweight division.

The end is always hard on a man, as it was on Goody, who died Sunday at his home in Sagamore, MA. at the age of 88. He lost his beloved wife of 70 years, Marian, in October, a month after the passing of his brother Pat, after a long, hard battle with heart disease.

All his life Goody Petronelli was a boxing guy, a man who fought as both an amateur in the Navy and later as a professional until a broken hand derailed his career. He took a day job with his brother working as masons but even as their construction business flourished it wasn’t their game. That was always boxing.

In 1969 they opened Petronelli’s Gym in Brockton, where they’d grew up worshiping Rocky Marciano the way everyone did in a dying shoemakers’ town. It was more a labor of love than labor and then one day a quiet kid who’d just moved to Brockton from Newark because his mother wanted to get him away from the race riots that were destroying that city walked in and sat in the corner.

He didn’t say a word so Goody asked if he’d like to learn to box. The kid already had some idea what that meant but he said yes and thus was formed The Triangle, an alliance of three men who couldn’t have been more different that would help make Hagler the greatest middleweight of his era and arguably one of the two or three best of all-time.

For years they struggled to get a break, fighting in high school gymnasiums and hotel ballrooms. Hagler’s problem, Goody used to lament, was that he was black, left-handed and good. His blessing was that he had talent and the Petronelli’s in his corner, Pat doing most of the talking and deal making and Goody the hard labor of training Hagler into a champion.

They traveled the world together, each guy carrying his own bag all the way to the top. There was no entourage with Hagler because who ever heard of a 40-legged triangle?

They made millions together and Hagler kept most of his end, enough to leave boxing behind after two blind judges stole his title and gave it to Sugar Ray Leonard. He went off to Italy and never returned to boxing but Goody stayed behind and never left the game.

He went on to train Steve Collins, teaching him the fundamentals of a trade he would later master after returning to fight in Europe without the men who built him. He trained Hagler’s half-brother, Robbie Sims, all the way to a title shot and some good wins, including a memorable one over a faded Roberto Duran in 1986.

He was in Kevin McBride’s corner the night The Clones Colossus retired Mike Tyson in 2005, stopping him in the sixth round simply by refusing to give in to him. That night was more about what Tyson no longer was than what McBride might be but Petronelli believed he had someone on his hands who could make some noise in the heavyweight division.

His uncanny professional eye probably knew better but a trainer believes in his fighters with his heart, not his head, and no one believed more fervently in the men who stood half-naked in his corner than Goody Petronelli did.

About a year ago, the Petronelli Gym closed down in Brockton, a victim of a battle over rent. Goody packed his equipment bag for the last time and left, never turning his back on boxing but tiring of it all to be sure. Life got harder after that, his wife gone, his brother gone, his gym gone, yet he remained in his heart what he’d always been.

Goody Petronelli was a boxing guy. He made money in the sport because a kid from Newark walked through the door one day but that wasn’t really why he did it. He was as focused on the skinny kid from Southie or the one over there in the corner skipping rope who spoke little English. He loved talent but he loved grit just as much, knowing they don’t always come in the same package. Most of all he loved the life.

He loved to sit in the gym before the fighters arrived or after they’d all gone and the place was eerily quiet, no bells ringing or bags being hit or ropes skipping rhythmically off the floor. He loved to sit there then and wait because, as he said so many times, “You never know who might walk through the door.’’

One day it was Marvin Hagler but most of the time it was just a kid who needed a boost, a boy and in later years girls who would find some self-esteem in boxing but not a career. Goody Petronelli trained them all the same and he loved them all the same.

He’s gone now and that makes the boxing world a slightly darker place this morning but in all likelihood he’s turning to St. Peter about now with a skeptical eye and asking, “You still doing your roadwork?’’

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Jonathan Esquivel Remains Unbeaten and Raquel Miller Wins NABF Title

David A. Avila

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HAWAIIAN GARDENS, Calif.-Undefeated Jonathan Esquivel attracted a large and lively crowd and they weren’t disappointed in his knockout win over Tavoris Teague on Saturday.

Esquivel (10-0, 9 KOs) showed the large contingent of fans that sold out the Hawaiian Gardens Casino that the tricky Teague (6-27-4) could not compete for four full rounds in their super middleweight clash.

The fight ended at 2:11 of the fourth when Teague was overwhelmed by Esquivel but remained standing up as referee Zachary Young ended the fight.

Esquivel, who lives in nearby Santa Ana, California, brought more than 200 fans and they saw him struggle a bit with Teague, but after two flat rounds, the southpaw began finding the range and unleashed a barrage of punches that Teague could not avoid. The end came suddenly but the Orange County fighter remains with an unblemished record.

NABF Female Title

Female middleweight contenders headed the main event and former Olympic alternate Raquel “Pretty Beast” Miller (9-0, 4 KOs) showed her professional game is intact with a knockout win over veteran Erin Toughill (7-5-1) to win the vacant NABF middleweight title.

Miller didn’t waste time and knocked Toughill down in the first exchange with a short right cross that dropped the veteran fighter who had nearly toppled middleweight contender Maricela Cornejo in her last ring appearance.

Speed was her greatest asset and Miller used it to full advantage as she jabbed her way through Toughill’s guard and landed quick three-punch combinations. For the first three rounds Miller was in full control.

Around the fourth round Miller seemed in cruise mode when Toughill rammed several rights against her foe and followed up with more right crosses. All seemed to land flush and Miller was moved backwards with the blows. Though Toughill did not land more punches than Miller, the solid blows were enough to win her first round.

In the fifth round Toughill seemed confident that she had discovered the remedy for Miller’s speedy punches and kept ramming rights through the guard. Again Toughill seemed to be able to land the more effective blows, but though they landed they didn’t seem to hurt Miller, but rather perplexed her.

Miller seemed more intent to reverse the momentum and launched a quick solid three-punch combination on Toughill who seemed surprised by the blows. After absorbing a Miller right Toughill retaliated with a left hook and another left hook. The change of pace seemed to keep Miller off balance but toward the end of the sixth round a screaming left jab connected followed by a solid one-two combination. Miller had quickly regained the momentum.

The seventh round saw both fighters race toward each other with Miller connecting with a lead right that snapped Toughill’s head back. Miller followed up quickly with a snapping jab, jab and left hook that caught Toughill perfectly and dropped her immediately to the floor. She beat the count but when referee Zachary Young asked her to put her hands up:

“She gave me a strange look and I had to end it,” said Young of Toughill’s response.

When asked what punch caused the knockout Miller was unsure.

“I don’t remember what punch I used, I’m just excited to win the title,” said Miller who won by knockout at 1:01 of the seventh round.

Miller wins the NABF middleweight title and becomes an automatic contender for the WBC version of the middleweight world title. Claressa Shields is the undisputed middleweight world champion and holds the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO world titles.

“I’m all about smooth boxing but I can bang if I have to,” said Miller.

Yes she can.

Other Bout

Super middleweights Kenny Quach (0-1-1) and Johnny Cisneros (0-0-1) ended in a draw after four closely fought rounds. Cisneros fights out of Riverside and was making his pro debut. Quach fights out of Santa Ana, Calif.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Fast Results from Brooklyn: Wilder Knocks Out Breazeale

Arne K. Lang

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Wilder Knocks Out Breazeale

Deontay Wilder vs. Dominic Breazeale figures to be entertaining for as long as it lasts said one pundit and he could not have been more prescient. Entertaining it was although if you were distracted you likely missed it. It was all over in 137 seconds

Wilder, making the ninth defense of his WBC world heavyweight title, stunned Breazeale with a big right hand early in the contest but then walked into a wild right hand by Breazeale and was himself momentarily stunned. He had enough presence of mind, however, to keep his cannon of a right hand unholstered and a few moments later he unleashed it again, leaving poor Breazeale flat on his back. Breazeale made it to his feet, seemingly as referee Harvey Dock reached the count of “10,” but he was in dire straits and the bout was waived it off.

This was the same Dominic Breazeale who lasted into the seventh round with Anthony Joshua not quite two years ago. As for Wilder, he remains undefeated with his 40th knockout in 42 pro starts and a match between him and Joshua or a rematch with Tyson Fury looms bigger than ever.

Co-Feature

WBC world featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. successfully defended his title and completed the hat trick for the Russell Brothers with a fifth round stoppage of Spain’s Kiko Martinez. Russell (30-1, 18 KOs) was just too fast for the Spaniard and was on his way to a comfortable win on points when the fight was waived off at the suggestion of the ring physician because of a bad cut over Martinez’s left eye. A former IBF 122-pound champion, Martinez (37-9-2) is now 1-4 in world title fights.

Undercard

In the first of the TV fights, North Las Vegas junior welterweight Juan Heraldez remained unbeaten but barely as he was held to a draw by former IBF 130-pound world title-holder Argenis Mendez. One judge had it 97-73 for Mendez but the others had it even. Heraldez (16-0-1) was one of four Mayweather Promotions fighters on the card. Mendez, from Yonkers, New York, via the Dominican Republic, was held to a draw in a second straight fight, bringing his record to 25-5-3.

A previous draw ensued in an 8-round contest between 30-something heavyweights, Robert Alfonso (18-0-1) and Iago Kiladze (26-4-1). Alfonso, a Cuban defector and ex-Olympian who trains with Wilder in Tuscaloosa, weighed in at 254, giving him a 35-pound weight advantage. He had Kiladze fighting off his back foot for much of the contest, but the LA-based fighter from the Republic of Georgia snuck in enough punches to stem a 3-fight losing streak.

Bantamweight Gary Antonio Russell moved to 14-0 with a six-round technical decision over Tijuana’s Saul Hernandez (13-13-1). A clash of heads in the sixth round left the Mexican disoriented and the bout went to the cards where Antonio won by scores of 59-55 and 60-54 twice. Hernandez didn’t figure to go the distance. In his last three fights, he fattened up his record against opponents who were a combined 0-30.

In a fight slated for eight rounds, junior welterweight Gary Antuanne Russell improved to 9-0 (9) with a fourth round stoppage of Nicaragua’s Marcos Mojica (16-4-2) who had the misfortune of being thrust against a former Olympian in a second straight bout. Mojica was on the canvas twice before the referee intervened. He lasted longer than any of Russell’s previous opponents, none of whom lasted beyond three frames.

Brooklyn-born Richardson Hitchins, who represented Haiti in the 2016 Olympics, improved to 9-0 (5) when Columbia’s Alejandro Munero (4-2-3) was unable to answer the bell for round four. The 21-year-old Hitchins was making his eighth appearance at Barclays.

Dylan Price, a 20-year-old bantamweight from Sicklerville, NJ, improved to 8-0 when the corner of Mexico’s Manuel Manzo (4-7-2) stopped the one-sided beatdown midway through the sixth round.

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The Tartan Tornado and the Monster Advance in the World Boxing Super Series

Arne K. Lang

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World Boxing Super Series

Semifinal matchups in the 118- and 140-pound tournaments of the World Boxing Super Series played out today, May 18, at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. All four participants entered the day undefeated.

In the main go, junior welterweight Josh Taylor, the Tartan Tornado, delighted the home folks by winning a unanimous decision over Ivan “The Beast” Baranchyk. Fighting in the same arena where he won Commonwealth Gold in 2014, Taylor outpointed Baranchyk on scores of 117-109 and 115-111 twice.

Taylor had an anxious moment in the fifth round when Baranchyk landed three unanswered punches that momentarily left Taylor on shaky legs. But in the very next frame, Taylor came up big, knocking Baranchyk to the canvas twice, first with a right hook and then a left to the head followed by a left to the body.

Baranchyk, who pepped for this fight at Freddie Roach’s gym in Hollywood, recuperated nicely. Taylor could have played it safe by going on his bicycle in the final round, but he elected to trade with Baranchyk who finished strong, although clearly behind on the cards.

With the victory, Josh Taylor improved to 15-0 and moves on to a contest with Regis Prograis, a bout that will likely land in Glasgow and, if so, will be the biggest fight ever in Scotland. Baranchyk, who was born in Russia but has been residing in Oklahoma, declined to 19-1

The Monster

In the co-feature, Yokohama’s baby-faced Naoya “The Monster” Inoue (18-0, 16 KOs) showed that he belongs on everyone’s pound-for-pound list with a second round blast-out of Puerto Rico’s previously undefeated Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1). After a fairly even first round, Inoue lowered the boom in the second, decking Rodriguez three times to force an intervention. At stake were the IBF and WBA bantamweight titles. With the win, Inoue earned a date with Filipino veteran Nonito Donaire who was in the building.

Inoue scored his first knockdown with a left hook and that spelled the beginning of the end for Rodriguez. In his previous two bouts, Inoue demolished title-holders Jamie McDonnell and Juan Carlos Payano in the opening round. If he gets past Donaire – and he will be heavily favored – he will be the odds-on choice to be named the 2019 Fighter of the Year.

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