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L.A. Sports Arena Hosts Brian Viloria, Chocolatito & Mexican Tyson

David A. Avila

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Chocolatito at Azteca Gym“Chocolatito,” shot by Al Applerose

Nicaragua’s Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez brings his WBA junior flyweight world title and fighting talents to Southern California once again.

Expect plenty of blue and white flags in the audience and most of the Nicaraguan population based in the Southland this weekend.

The undefeated Gonzalez (33-0, 28 KOs) risks his record, world title and the adulation of millions when he faces Mexico’s Juan Francisco “El Gallo” Estrada (22-1, 18 KOs) at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. The title match takes place Saturday, Nov. 17.

Gonzalez, 25, last appeared in Southern California when he faced another Mexican, Ramon Hirales, in the city of Pomona. The Managua prizefighter exhibited a careful and scientific approach, then exploded on the contender with some ferocious combinations that ended the fight in four rounds.

Not since the great Ricardo “Finito” Lopez has junior flyweight boxing seen that blend of boxing and power like “Chocolatito” seems to possess.

“El Gallo” Estrada has never faced a fighter the caliber of Gonzalez, but you never know in the sport of boxing. It only takes one punch to hit a homer.

In the co-main event “Mexican Killer” Brian Viloria (31-3, 18 KOs) defends the WBO flyweight world title against Mexico’s muscular Hernan “Tyson” Marquez (34-2, 25 KOs), the owner of the WBA flyweight title.

Viloria avenged two defeats by knocking out Mexico’s Omar Nino last April in the Philippines. Before that, he blew out Mexico’s Giovanni Segura about a year ago. Thus, some have taken to calling him the dispenser of Mexican boxers.

Marquez, 24, has suffered defeats against Filipino boxers before. But losing to Nonito Donaire, who has since conquered three more weight divisions, is not what anyone would call an embarrassing loss. However, once more the southpaw slugger faces a strong Filipino who can match his strength.

It’s a pretty interesting match between 112-pounders world titleholders.

Tickets can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com and the fight can be viewed on Wealth TV.

Other fight chatter

San Bernardino’s Artemio Reyes Jr. (17-2, 13 KOs) fights Mexico’s Pipino Cuevas Jr. (16-8, 14 KOs) in the welterweight co-main event on Friday, Nov. 16, at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario. In the other major fight Christopher Martin (24-2-3, 7 KOs) fights Robert Guillen (6-9-3) of Texas. Other fighters set to perform are Javier Torres, Derrick “Whoop Dat Ass” Murray, Joshua Conley and Isaac Zarate among others. For more information call (714) 935-0900.

UCLA meets USC in an amateur boxing showdown on Friday Nov. 16, at the Los Angeles Athletic Club in downtown L.A at 431 W. 7th Street. It’s a black tie (optional) event that also features teams from West Point, St. Mary’s College, Texas Southern and University of San Francisco. First bell is at 7:30 p.m. For more information call (213) 630-5255.

All Star Boxing presents a boxing and Muy Thai card at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday Nov. 17. The main event features Anatoliy Dudchenko (16-2, 11 KOs) against Tyrell Hendrix (9-1-2, 3 KOs) in a light heavyweight clash. A number of other pro bouts will be staged at the colorful hotel beginning at 7:30 p.m. For more information call (323) 816-6200.

Mexico’s Antonio DeMarco (28-2-1, 21 KOs) defends the WBC lightweight world title against undefeated former junior lightweight world titleholder Adrien Broner (24-0, 20 KOs) who is moving up in weight for this fight. Also, undefeated heavyweight Seth Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 KOs) fights Johnathon Banks (28-1-1, 18 KOs) in a 12 round bout at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. HBO will televise.

Boxing great Carmen Basilio died Wednesday, Nov. 7 at age 85 in Canastota, New York. The former welterweight and middleweight world champion defeated Sugar Ray Robinson, Art Aragon and Johnny Saxton during the 1950s in his Hall of Fame career. He was a fearless and bruising fighter who engaged in some of the bloodiest battles in boxing history.

WBC female junior middleweight titleholder Mia St. John (47-12-2, 18 KOs) lost the world title to Tiffany Junot (10-3-1) by unanimous decision on Saturday, Nov. 10 in Bakersfield, Calif. St. John was making the first title defense since defeating Christy Martin this past summer.

Andrzej Fonfara (22-2, 12 KOs) meets Tommy Karpency (21-3-1, 14 KOs) in a light heavyweight battle for the vacant IBO world title on Friday, Nov. 16. The title match takes place at UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Ill.

WBC female lightweight titlist Erica Farias (14-0, 8 KOS) of Argentina defends her belt against Maria Maderna (8-8-3), who is also from Argentina. The match takes place on Saturday Nov. 17, in Buenos Aires.

England’s Carl Froch (29-2, 21 KOs) defends the IBF super middleweight world title against Yusaf Mack (31-4-2, 17 KOs) of the U.S.A. on Saturday Nov. 17. The world title match will be held in Nottingham, England.

Roberto Garcia (31-3, 21 KOs) meets Inocente Fiz (15-0, 9 KOs) for the number one spot on the WBA junior middleweight rankings. The fight is set for Saturday Nov. 17, at the Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

After 11 years away former welterweight world champion James Page (25-4, 19 KOs) returns to the boxing ring and meets Rahman Yusubov (8-9) in the main event in Sacramento on Saturday Nov. 17. Page, 41, last fought on February 2001 and lost the WBA title to Andrew “Six Heads” Lewis in Las Vegas.

Chris Algieri (15-0, 7 KOs) meets Daniel Sostre (11-7-1, 4 KOs) in the welterweight main event at the Paramount Theater in Huntington, New York. Algieri trains in California and New York. The fight will be Saturday Nov. 17.

Former lightweight champion Humberto Soto (59-8-2) defeated Jose Lopez (17-3-1) by unanimous decision to capture the vacant WBF welterweight title on Saturday Nov. 10. Also, Jessica Chavez (16-3-2) defeated Kanittha Kokietgym (17-5) after 10 rounds of a junior flyweight bout in Mexico City.

Former Olympian Gary Russell Jr. knocked out Mexico’s Roberto Castaneda (20-3-1, 15 KOs) at 1:25 of round three in a featherweight match at Fantasy Springs Casino on Friday. Also, former 2012 Olympians Marcus Browne, Terrell Gausha, Errol Spence, Rau’Shee Warren and Dominic Breazeale won their pro debuts. Junior middleweight prospect Daquan Arnett (9-0, 6 KOs) knocked out Jeremiah Wiggins (10-1-1, 5 KOs) at 1:59 of round four.

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Lomachenko – Pedraza and More

Thomas Hauser

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Lomachenko - Pedraza

Boxing returned to the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on December 1. Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jose Pedraza in the main event drew a sellout crowd of 5,312. The non-televised undercard was respectable. And the three-fight telecast that followed the Heisman Trophy presentation on ESPN had moments of drama.

The first televised bout of the evening showcased Teofimo Lopez (10-0, 8 KOs), a 21-year-old lightweight who’s rapidly moving from prospect to contender status. Mason Menard (34-3, 24 KOs) was Lopez’s designated victim. All three of Menard’s losses had been by knockout and this was expected to be the fourth “KO by” on his record.

Lopez has all the confidence and arrogance of a young fighter with a big punch who’s on the rise. It took him all of 44 seconds to blast Menard into oblivion.

Next up, 24-year-old Isaac Dogboe (20-0, 14 KOs) sought to defend his WBO 122-pound title against Emanuel Navarrete (25-1, 22 KOs) of Mexico. Dogboe was born in Ghana but grew up in England. He claimed his belt with an eleventh-round stoppage of Jessie Magdaleno in April of this year and was considered a fighter who doesn’t need protecting.

Navarrete was fighting outside of Mexico for the first time, which is often a sign of a padded record.

Dogboe entered the bout as a 7-to-1 betting favorite and mounted a two-fisted assault to the head and body in the first stanza. But Navarrete had come to fight and began landing shots of his own in round two, at which point Issaac’s chin seemed a bit suspect. As the bout wore on, Dogboe did his best work on the inside. When he gave Navarrete room to punch, Emanuel obliged him.

It was a spirited, back-and forth, action encounter that was even after eight rounds. Then Navarrete picked up the pace and won the final four frames going away. By the end, Dogboe’s face was badly swollen; his left eye was almost shut; and he was trying simply to survive. He made it to the final bell but was dethroned by a 116-112, 116-112, 115-113 margin.

Good fight, good decision.

Lomachenko (11, 9 KOs) vs. Pedraza (25-1, 12 KOs) was promoted on the basis of both men having titles, which is a little like promoting a title-unification football game between the Big Ten and Ivy League champions.

Lomachenko’s ring prowess has been amply catalogued. Twelve of his professional bouts have been contested for world titles. He’s an elite fighter while Pedraza is a good one. In match ups like that, the elite fighter almost always wins.

Top Rank had planned to match Lomachenko (the WBO 135-pound champion) against Raymundo Beltran (the WBA beltholder) as part of an “immigrant-from-Mexico-gets-citizenship” feel-good story. But Pedraza upset the apple cart in August of this year by winning a unanimous-decision over Beltran.

Lomachenko was returning to the ring after surgery to repair a torn labrum suffered in his right shoulder during a May 12 victory over Jorge Linares. Still, Vasyl was an early 12-to-1 favorite over Pedraza and the odds moved as high as 20-to-1 reflecting the fighters’ respective ring skills.

The crowd was highly-partisan in favor of Lomachenko. Fighters from Puerto Rico are rarely booed in New York during pre-fight introductions, but it happened here.

It was an interesting exercise for boxing purists. The early rounds were tactically fought. Then Lomachenko figured out what he had to do to beat Pedraza down and did it. Many of the early rounds were close enough that the judges could have given them to whichever fighter they wanted to. But Lomachenko pulled away late, putting an exclamation mark on his performance with two eleventh-round knockdowns that came close to ending matters short of the 119-107, 117-112, 117-112 judges’ verdict in his favor.

Lomachenko looked a bit less “high tech” against Pedraza than he has in the past. He didn’t exploit angles as effectively and control the range as well as in some of his earlier fights. Part of that was because Pedraza is fast on his feet and spent long portions of the evening jabbing and moving away. Another reason might be that Lomachenko’s best fighting weight by his own evaluation is 130 pounds. There were times when he had trouble with Jorge Linares’s height and reach when he fought Linares seven months ago. And that was true for stretches of time against the taller Pedraza. Mikey Garcia might be a bit too big for Lomachenko.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

Thomas Hauser’s new email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – Protect Yourself at All Times– was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

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Cecilia Braekhus, Claressa Shields Win at the StubHub plus Undercard Results

David A. Avila

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Braekhus

LOS ANGELES-A farewell show by boxing network HBO showcased two dominant women in the boxing world as Cecilia Braekhus and Claressa Shields mowed through their respective opponents with little resistance on Saturday.

Braekhus (35-0, 9 KOs) tried hard to put another knockout on her ledger but Aleksandra Magdziak-Lopes showed enough resistance to go the distance in front of a sparse and cold crowd numbering less than 1,000 at the StubHub Center.

The Norwegian fighter Braekhus won by unanimous decision after 10 rounds and retains her hold on the undisputed welterweight championship that includes the WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF and IBO world titles.

Braekhus started slowly and patiently in the first two rounds but was able to rifle right hands and left hooks through the slower Lopes guard. But she never could put that finishing touch.

In the fifth round a counter right cross staggered Lopes but she remained upright though visibly hurt. A follow up attack proved unsuccessful by the welterweight champion.

“I wanted to knock out the girl who also beat Kali Reis,” said Braekhus “I might have pushed it too much. I got a little bit eager. That normally shouldn’t happen but this is a historical night.”

It was the final show of HBO’s 45 year reign as one of boxing’s premier networks.

“I’m just so honored to be on HBO,” said Braekhus

El Gallo

Mexico’s Juan “El Gallo” Francisco Estrada (38-3, 26 KOs) won by stoppage at the end of round seven against fellow hometown fighter Victor Mendez (28-4-2, 20 KOs) at the end of the seventh round in their super flyweight clash.

Both fighters hail from Hermosillo, Mexico but there was no hometown comradery as Estrada broke down Mendez more and more each round. Each round seemed to incite more blows from Estrada who fired five and six-punch combinations with ease to the body and head.

Mendez tried to fight his way out of the onslaught but his blows did not seem to have the effect desired. Instead, Estrada would open up even more with left hook to the body and left uppercut to the chin.

Finally, after one particularly rough one-sided round, Mendez’s corner stopped the fight.

Claressa

In less than a month Claressa Shields (8-0, 2 KOs) wiped out another middleweight contender, this time Belgium’s Femke Hermans (9-2, 3 KOs) by unanimous decision after 10 one-side rounds.

Three weeks ago Shields had dominated Scotland’s Hannah Rankin in similar fashion and had few problems with either European fighter. But sitting front row in the audience was Christina Hammer who holds the WBO version. She will be next.

Shields powered through Hermans with her amped up aggressive style and was especially effective with the check left hook. She also rocked the Belgian fighter with over hand rights but could not drop the European fighter who holds a super middleweight world title.

Hermans learned in the first two rounds she couldn’t match the two-time Olympic gold medalist’s speed, so she settled into a defensive counter punching style. It did not work.

Though Shields tried luring the European fighter into some traps, the Belgian boxer refused to lead. The fight was Shields to take. She began pummeling the body especially in the fourth and fifth rounds. In one volley she unloaded seven consecutive body shots and easily slipped a counter right.

Shields wobbled Hermans in the ninth round with a left hook and staggered her with a pair of shots in the 10th round. But the Belgian fighter stayed on her feet. All three judges scored the fight 100-90 for Shields who retains the WBA, WBC and IBF world titles.

Now Shields is set to face Hammer who has the WBO middleweight title in the early spring. Showtime will televise.

Hammer spoke to the media before the Shields-Hermans fight.

“I move around very well, I have better movement,” said Hammer whose fight with Shields was postponed in November due to a stomach illness suffered by the tall German boxer. “I want to be the undisputed world champion.”

Bang Bang

Australia’s Louisa “Bang Bang” Hawton (9-2, 3 KOs) stopped Lorraine Villalobos (2-2-1) of Los Angeles at the end of fifth round in an atomweight fight set for 10 rounds.

Hawton and Villalobos exchanged furiously for three rounds with each connecting with big blows. But by the fourth round Villalobos slowed considerably and Hawton took over the fight.

The Aussie fighter was supposed to meet interim WBC atomweight titlist Brenda Flores who won a split decision last September. But Flores was forced to pull out.

Other Bouts

Serhii Bohachuk (12-0, 12 KOs) won by KO in the fifth round of a middleweight bout over Puerto Rico’s Carlos Garcia Hernandez (15-19-1)

Mario Ramos (7-0, 7 KOs) knocked out Elliott Brown in the fifth round of a 6-round lightweight fight.

Light flyweight Shukichi Iwata won his pro debut with a fourth round KO of Joel Bermudez (0-2)

Lightweight Reno Moreno floored David Courtney with a body shot to win by KO in round four of a lightweight match.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Fast Results From Madison Square Garden: Lomachenko UD 12; Dogboe Upset

Arne K. Lang

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Lomachenko vs Pedraza

Vasiliy Lomachenko successfully defended his WBA lightweight title and added Jose Pedraza’s WBO 135-pound belt with a unanimous decision. The scores were 119-107 and 117-109 twice.

Through the first 10 rounds, the bout was somewhat monotonous. Lomachenko landed the cleaner punches and was clearly ahead on the scorecards. The fight was redounding well to Gervonta Davis who handled Pedraza more handily than what Loma was doing. But then in the 11th, the Ukrainian solidified his reputation as an elite fighter, perhaps worthy of being considered #1 P4P. He strafed Pedraza with combinations to the head and body, landing 42 power punches according to CompuBox, and twice knocked Pedraza to his knees.

Pedraza weathered the storm and made it through the 12th, but when the final bell sounded there wasn’t a shred of doubt that Lomachenko had won his 11th consecutive fight, improving to 12-1. Pedraza fell to 25-2.

DOGBOE-NAVARRETE

In a big upset, Mexico’s unheralded Emanuel Navarrete, in his U.S. debut, wrested the WBO 122-pound title from previously undefeated Isaac Dogboe with a unanimous decision. The scores (116-112, 115-113 twice) did not reflect Navarrete’s dominance. At the end of the fight, both of Dogboe’s eyes were swollen and he was bleeding from his nose. In the late stages, the fight became so one-sided that referee Benjy Estevez would have been justified in stopping it. However, Estevez will be faulted in some quarters for missing a knockdown. In round nine, Navarrete went down hard from a punch that glanced off his shoulder and hit him in the face. Estevez ruled it a slip.

Navarrete was somewhat awkward, but he was bigger and stronger, four inches taller with an eight inch longer reach. With the victory, his twenty-first straight, he improved his ledger to 26-1. Dogboe lost for the first time in 25 starts.

LOPEZ-MENARD

In the first TV bout, Teofimo Lopez (11-0, 9 KOs) scored a spectacular one-punch knockout of Mason Menard (34-4). It was all over in 44 seconds.

Lopez, born in Brooklyn and raised in south Florida, tagged Menard on the jaw with a looping overhand right. The fighter from Cajunland fell face first to the canvas and was unconscious before he hit the floor. He was still woozy as he was helped from the ring.

OFF TV

Welterweight Alexander Besputin stepped up in class and made a very strong showing. Besputin (12-0, 9 KOs) took tough Juan Carlos Abreu of the Dominican Republic to school, knocking him down twice en route to winning a lopsided decision. Besputin won every round on all three cards. His showing was far better than that of the more ballyhooed Egidijus Kavaliauskas, the Lithuanian knockout artist who won a hard-fought 10-round decision over Abreu in Abreu’s previous bout.

Italian heavyweight Guido Vianello, a policeman in Rome, won his pro debut with a second round stoppage of Luke Lyons. A 2016 Olympian who was 7-5 as a pro-am in the World Series of Boxing, Vianello has been training at Abel Sanchez’s compound in Big Bear where he sparred with Tyson Fury. Lyons brought a 5-1-1 record but it was compiled on the disreputable West Virginia circuit.

Twenty-year-old Bronx junior welterweight Josue Vargas, in his first appearance at Madison Square Garden, stopped Panama’s John Renteria (16-6-1) at the 32 second mark of round five. It was no contest as Vargas, who improved to 12-1 (8), knocked Renteria to the canvas three times before the bout was halted.

In the opening bout, slated for eight rounds in the junior welterweight class, Mexico’s Abdiel Ramirez (24-3-1, 22 KOs) scored a mild upset with a 7th round stoppage of Newark’s Michael Perez. There were three knockdowns in all with Perez hitting the deck in rounds one and seven. Ramirez was ahead on the cards at the time of the stoppage.

Check back tomorrow for Thomas Hauser’s ringside report.

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