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The Real Main Event On Saturday Night Is….

Matt McGrain

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Lethal power-puncher Gennady Golovkin, the world’s best middleweight, 33-0 and thirty-three years of age out of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, meets Canadian David Lemieux, 26 years old and 34-2 in Madison Square Garden on the seventeenth of this month.

It’s a good fight, and, should he win, Golovkin is on his way to becoming a great fighter. But it’s not the main event.

It is receiving top billing because the main protagonist is a middleweight power-puncher and because there are people in powerful positions that believe him a possible long-haul golden-goose but the real main event is in fact the chief support, the meeting between three weight strapholder #1 pound-for-pound, 43-0 lineal flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez, a man who has more knockouts to his name than Golovkin has fights, and Brian Viloria, a former strapholder at two different weights, 36-4 and a former TBRB top-ten pound-for-pounder. Viloria exited the pound-for-pound line-up only after a loss to the monstrous Juan Francisco Estrada, currently ranked #7 on the same list.

While Gonzalez and Golovkin are the main attractions and while Gonzalez dominates Golovkin in terms of prestige and titles, of the respective opponents, Viloria is also the more prestigious then. In 2011, when Lemieux was losing to the likes of Marco Antonio Rubio and Joachim Alcine, Viloria was knocking out beasts like Giovani Segura and Omar Romero. Being frank: Golovkin is in Gonzalez’s class as a fighter but clearly to be ranked below him pound-for-pound while, as opposition, Viloria is by far the more accomplished of the two opponents.

That said, arguments that Lemieux has more momentum than Viloria going in are sound. “The Hawaiian Punch”, continues to rebuild in the wake of his hurtful 2012 loss to Estrada, after which the first thing he did was take a whole year off before returning against granite-chinned Puerto Rican journeyman Juan Carlos Herrera. The fight was not a satisfying one with Viloria boxing and moving and potshotting his way to a wide unanimous decision. My initial thoughts were that Viloria had become gun-shy, but he looked more alive if not quite himself against Jose Zuniga in the summer of 2015, stopping the Mexican with a body attack after five. Bodyshots, too, were the formula for his fourth round stoppage of Armando Vazquez, but it was clear that Viloria was now treading water; that perhaps the seemingly overstated criticism of him from earlier in his career, namely that he was not always necessarily a natural fighter or one that could be relied upon to be switched on to his boxing in the manner of most top fighters, seemed worth recalling.

Then came his most recent fight, his June meeting with Omar Soto.

This fight was significant not just because, despite losing a two round blow-out to Roman Gonzalez in 2011 that sent him into a tailspin of form so bad he was no longer ranked, Soto was a step up from the very limited competition he had been meeting, but also because it was a rematch. Soto had pushed Viloria to a split decision back in 2010 in a fight I thought the Mexican had won with steady pressure and a dogged persistence in taking any and all punching opportunities. It was clear his style troubled Viloria and certainly, despite Soto’s drop in form, this was an interesting test for the American.

Viloria looked almost frightening against a clearly compromised Soto. He looked fast, angry, balanced and heavy-handed. Soto was forced to take a knee three times in 119 seconds, twice by right hands, once with a scything left-hook to the liver. Soto failed to make it out of the first round for the very first time.

First round knockouts appear often as mirages. One thinks one knows things that one does not, sometimes, behind a first round knockout. It was a first round knockout of Floyd Patterson by Sonny Liston that told us that Liston could not be beaten, least of all by a lightweight mimic like Cassius X, soon to be Muhammad Ali. In fact, Liston was already a past-prime alcoholic who was ready to be taken. Mike Tyson was only twenty months short of his destruction at the hands of James “Buster” Douglas when he flattened Michael Spinks, his private life already spinning dangerously out of control. This knockout, brutal and succinct though it was, has not answered key questions about Viloria – does he have the stamina for twelve hard rounds, does he have the stomach for another hard fight, but I don’t think these are the questions at hand for his fight against Roman Gonzalez.

Returning to 2013 and Viloria’s Waterloo against Estrada for a moment, the factors that made Estrada so much the master may not be present when Viloria meets Gonzalez.

Viloria landed two hard left hooks in the opening minutes but a distant warning note was already sounding. Viloria looked slow of foot. This enabled Estrada to repeatedly forage and even to audition punches until he settled on a right uppercut, no less, perhaps the hardest punch to land in such guerrilla fashion but the one that repeatedly found the target.

This is not an ability that Gonzalez has. He doesn’t pounce, but rather brings the most adept pressure of any fighter currently active, with all due respect to Golovkin, who may be the second. Catching fleet-footed flyweights is perhaps the most difficult job in all of boxing and it is one at which Roman Gonzalez absolutely excels, as I wrote in my detailed accounting of the new pound-for-pound king. But he is not recreating the jack-rabbit attack executed so faultlessly by Estrada.

Once Estrada had softened Viloria up, he came inside and dominated here also, really hurting his man in the ninth round in the process. Viloria, who has an iron jaw and is as hard as nails, barely made it out of the twelfth.

Estrada couldn’t get Viloria out of there, but Gonzalez is a better puncher. However, while Estrada enjoyed a huge (and generally overlooked) stylistic advantage over Viloria, Gonzalez does not. In fact, I suspect that Viloria is in the stylistic box-seat here, if he finds the right fight plan.

Viloria likes come forward fighters who wait for their turn. Gonzalez may be the best technician in the world and he is certainly capable of the unexpected but while he can counter-punch, you won’t generally see him pre-counter or try to pull the trigger on an opponent who has shaped a punch. He is too excellent for this. What this means is that a fighter with the guts to attack him might get to spend a few rounds on the same plane as him.

When fighters break, Gonzalez has already beaten them. It is only a matter of time before he catches them and fillets them. When they run from the off, Gonzalez builds terrifying momentum hunting them down and wins, at worst, a lop-sided decision. What Estrada did was fight him, and fought him for every minute of every round with a wonderful mix of movement and aggression. He prevented Gonzalez getting set with his superior speed and stalled his momentum with aggression and fluidity.

In a sense, Estrada has “lain down the blueprint” in the vocabulary of the Mayweather obsessive, but I suspect it is not one that Viloria can follow. He doesn’t have Estrada’s speed – in fact I think Gonzalez will be the faster fighter as well as the volume puncher – and he’s always struggled with that type of fighting retreat. He becomes disorganised. If he elects to box-punch for as long as he can hold the heat I think Gonzalez will stalk him down for the knockout. That’s a bold prediction – dig up the Estrada fight for an example of what Viloria can swallow without effect – but it’s one I stand by. If, on the other hand, Viloria strikes out to attack Gonzalez, to knock him out, and to do so early, I think he introduces enough variance, enough chaos, that such a result be possible. Viloria has excellent power when he lands right, and although he can sometimes seem strangely staid in fights of a certain nature, when he is aggressive and direct he can be devastating.

Like he was against Giovani Segura; like he was against Soto.

Of course, Gonzalez is a different matter altogether but trying to box-punch with the best box-puncher in the world and trying to move off against the best pressure fighter in the business, seems to me the greater of the evils, should Viloria be determined to win.

But if he can tap into that vein of power that surges in both his right and his left glove, if he can hurt Gonzalez early, and if he is fit, well and mentally adjusted so that he be able to maintain an attack in such circumstances, anything can happen. Whether or not Viloria and his team strike upon such a solution is another matter of course, in my experience most fighters want to believe that fighters can win boxing “their way.”

Against Gonzalez, boxing his way is going to get Brian Viloria hurt, badly, in an entertaining fight. But if he can find the heart and the nerve to set sail into the storm, we might just see a shock on this weekend. At 112lbs or below, Gonzalez is always going to be the right pick, regardless of the opposition, but Viloria is not chanceless.

So, by all means enjoy Golovkin-Leminuex on Saturday – just don’t be late, you might miss the main event.

Check out The Boxing Channel video “Golovkin vs Lemieux HBO PPV – Quick Results”.

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Gervonta vs. Shakur: Street Fight or Boxing?

Ted Sares

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Gervonta - Davis

Gervonta “Tank” Davis — out of Baltimore — is a fan-friendly, undefeated (21-0, 20 KOs), two-time super featherweight champion. An all-action fighter, he brings the heat whenever and wherever he fights, operating like a mini-Tyson.

Shakur “Fearless” Stevenson—out of Virginia by way of Newark, NJ—won a Silver Medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics and is also undefeated as a pro (11-0, 6 KOs). In a moment of “unbridled” modesty, Floyd Mayweather Jr. called him “the next Mayweather.”

Davis (pictured) and Stevenson used to be good friends but apparently no more. The two have been feuding on twitter.

Shakur, a featherweight, has now called out Tank, saying he wants him at 130—and with his win against Christopher Diaz on the Crawford-Khan undercard, the call-out quickly becomes more meaningful and likely will reignite their twitter war.

What’s not quite clear is whether such a fight would be held in the ring or out in the street because of the many, many things they have in common, one, allegedly, is engaging in nasty street fights.

A recent and widely viewed video appears to show Stevenson, accompanied by fellow boxer David Grayton, in the middle of a parking garage brawl in Miami Beach in an incident that occurred nearly a year ago. Stevenson was in Miami Beach to celebrate his 21st birthday. It was not so much a brawl as it was a beatdown by the two boxers including a vicious kick at the end on a downed victim who already had received several flush shots to the face. A woman with the victim was also assaulted, suffering cuts and bruises. Afterwards, the two grabbed each other’s hands in a somewhat bizarre scene and fled to their hotel where they were arrested.

The video was first posted by slaterscoops.com which revealed that Stevenson and Crayton were arrested on July 1 and charged with misdemeanor battery. By the time the video came to light, the matter had quietly been resolved. Stevenson’s promoter Bob Arum seemed to have been involved in the resolution.

Here is what Arum said according to an article by Niall Doran in Boxing News: “We knew the facts and we knew that he was in a place that he shouldn’t have been at. We had a long talk with him and luckily the people around him, his grandfather who raised him, coach Kay (Koroma) who has a big influence on him and Andre Ward and James Prince who are his managers, took him aside and talked to him. It will never happen again I assure you. He is a great, great kid and he understands what his responsibilities are. He’s not a wild kid and he’s going to be fine. I’m very comfortable with how he’s being raised.”

Let’s hope Arum is correct.

Gervonta Davis

On August 1, 2017, an arrest warrant was issued for Gervonta Davis for an alleged assault. The charge was later reduced from first-degree aggravated assault to misdemeanor second-degree assault.

At the court, Anthony Wheeler, a long-time friend of Gervonta, complained that he was diagnosed with a concussion after Davis punched him on the side of the head with a ‘gloved fist.’ Wheeler subsequently dropped the charges. The Baltimore Sun reported that Tank and Wheeler both shook hands, embraced, and walked out of the courtroom together. All’s Well That Ends Well.

But there’s more.

According to TMZ, Davis was arrested in Washington, DC, in the early morning of Sept. 14, 2018, and charged with disorderly conduct after a dispute over a $10,000 bar bill. And then on February 17 of this year, according to TMZ and other sources, Davis was involved in an incident that began inside an upscale shopping mall in Virginia.

As things heated up, Tank and the other man took it to the streets and engaged in a fistfight with closed-fist punches being landed around the upper body. As people tried to break it up, both men fled but the police arrived and arrested them for disorderly conduct. They were booked and processed at a nearby station. Ten days after the incident, a warrant was issued for Davis’s arrest.

Leonard Ellerbe of Mayweather Promotions, which promotes Davis, told ESPN “We’ll let the judicial system play out….Obviously, this is just an allegation…Again, it just seems odd to me that a black man, allegedly, pushes or shoves — and I’m just reading what the TMZ article says — a police officer and he doesn’t get arrested on the spot, then a couple of weeks later, then they issue an arrest warrant based on their internal investigation. That just seems a little odd to me.”

The police reportedly made numerous attempts to contact Davis by telephone to serve the warrant but received no response.

Tank recently tweeted “Lies lies lies” (9:16 AM – 5 Mar 2019).

The case is still ongoing. Gervonta could well be exonerated and hopefully he will be, but these incidents, whether expunged, dismissed or dropped, are not good for boxing. The recent birth of a daughter seems to have grounded Tank and his recent tweet to wit: LOVE IS LOVE is not the tweet of someone who is in the wrong lane.

Let’s wrap this up with a quite from Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza: “I think the sky is the limit for Gervonta Davis…You put those two elements together — the likability and charisma outside the ring and the entertainment value inside the ring — and he has the potential, if he stays on this track, to be one of the biggest names in the sport.”

Ted Sares is a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). He is an active power lifter and Strongman competitor in the Grand Master class and is competing in 2019.

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Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia Wins in LA (is Manny Next?) and Undercard Results

David A. Avila

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Garcia

CARSON, Calif.-Former two division champion Danny “Swift” Garcia had too much firepower for Adrian Granados and simply overwhelmed the gritty fighter from Chicago before winning by knockout on Saturday.

No world title was at stake but future prizes were.

Philly fighter Garcia (35-2, 21 KOs) had predicted he would mow through Granados (20-7-2) who was moving up in weight again for this fight and was just too heavy handed before a crowd of more than 6,000 at the Dignity Health Sports Park. The PBC card was televised by FOX.

After a casual exchange of punches in the first round Garcia started bringing the thunder in the second round and connected with a double left hook to the body and a left hook to the head of Granados. The blows resounded throughout the arena and drew oohs from the crowd. Then Garcia caught Granados with a counter left hook that sent Granados sprawling across the ring. He got up and beat the count. Another exchange saw Garcia land a counter right cross and down went the Chicago fighter. He beat the count again but looked hurt. He survived the end of the round.

Garcia stalked Granados who moved more cautiously for the next two rounds but was still catching rights.

In the fifth round a straight right floored Granados while he was against the ropes. He survived the round again.

Granados tried every move he could think to change the momentum but nothing seemed to work. In the sixth both fought inside but Garcia soon began pummeling Granados with the referee looking closely. He allowed the fight to continue into the seventh round but checked with the corner twice.

With the crowd murmuring, Garcia gave chase to Granados and caught him near the ropes with a lead right and another right before unleashing a four-punch barrage. Referee Tom Taylor jumped in and stopped the beating at 1:33 of the seventh round to give Garcia the win by knockout.

Philadelphia’s Garcia had won in Southern California once again. He had beaten Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero by decision three years ago in Los Angeles.

“This is what makes Danny Garcia one of the best fighters in the world,” said Garcia. “I had to be the first man to stop him and I did that today.”

The win puts Garcia as a strong candidate to face multi-divisional world champion Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao who now holds the WBO welterweight world title.

“I hope I didn’t scare him away. Frankly I would love that fight or Keith Thurman or Errol Spence,” Garcia said.

Other Bouts

Brandon Figueroa (19-0) of Texas rumbled to a knockout win over Venezuela’s Yonfrez Parejo (22-4-1) to win the interim WBA super bantamweight title. The battle was fought mostly inside, forehead to forehead, but surprisingly, neither fighter suffered cuts from butts.

Figueroa and Parejo slugged it out inside until the sixth round when Parejo took the fight outside and scored well from distance. But Figueroa kept hunting him down and digging to the body and head. Finally, in the eighth round Figueroa began catching the moving Parejo with digging shots that seemed to affect the Venezuelan boxer. At the end of the round Parejo signaled he had enough.

Figueroa was deemed the winner by knockout.

“Honestly I thought I was going to finish him the next round,” said Figueroa.

California’s Andy “the Destroyer” Ruiz (32-1) won by knockout over Germany’s much taller Alexander Dimitrenko (41-5) in a heavyweight fight set for 10 rounds. Despite the size disparity Ruiz was the aggressor throughout and attacked the body with punishing blows. In the third round Ruiz almost ended the fight when Dimitrenko was severely hurt. After the end of the fifth round Dimitrenko’s cornered signaled the fight was over and referee Ray Corona waved it off. Ruiz wins by knockout as the crowd cheered loudly.

Ruiz was recently signed by PBC and may have found a home more suited for his weight division. It was his first fight under the PBC banner.

“I’m ready for the next one, I kind of seen that coming,” said Ruiz who admitted to eating a Snickers for energy. “The game plan was dropping the body down.”

Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo (25-7, 21 KOs) used the trusty knockout to win for the first time in four years. The victim was Evert Bravo (24-10-1) a super middleweight from Colombia who had his own losing streak like Angulo.

Both punished each other with hard combinations the first round, but in the second frame Angulo found his rhythm and fired a barrage of blows that left Bravo slumped along the ropes. Referee Rudy Barragan stopped the fight at 1:23 of the second round to give Angulo his first victory since he defeated Hector Munoz at the Staples Center on August 2015. He now trains with Abel Sanchez in Big Bear.

“I found a good coach,” said Angulo.

More than 1,000 fans remained to see Angulo perform long after the Garcia-Granado’s main event. He’s still a draw, especially in Southern California.

Former US Olympian Carlos Balderas (8-0, 7 KOs) stopped Luis May (21-14-1) with a barrage of blows in the fourth round of their lightweight clash. Balderas knocked down May several times but the crafty May used every means to survive including multiple low blows. Finally, at 1:07 of round four, Balderas unleashed several blows that saw May go down and a towel was thrown from his corner. Referee Ray Corona stopped the fight.

Fontana, California’s Raymond Muratalla (7-0) floored Mexico’s Jose Cen Torres (13-12) three times in the third round to win by knockout at 2:58 of the round in a super lightweight bout. Muratalla dropped Torres with a short right uppercut for the first knockdown. A right to the body sent Torres down a second time. A double right cross delivered Torres down a final time as referee Ray Corona immediately stopped the fight.

Las Vegas fighter Rolando Romero (9-0, 8 KOs) knocked out Colombia’s Andres Figueroa (9-5, 5 KOs) with a left hook during an exchange of blows at 1:27 of the fourth round in their lightweight scrap. Figueroa landed with a thud and was unconscious for several minutes and sent to the hospital.

Denver’s Shon Mondragon (2-0) battered Mexico’s Hugo Rodriguez (0-4) in the third round forcing referee Eddie Hernandez to end the fight at 1:55 of round three in a super bantamweight match.

Nelson Hampton (5-2) of Texas beat Phillip Bounds (0-3) by decision after lightweight fight.

Other winners were Jeison Rosario by split decision over Jorge Cota in a super welterweight fight. Omar Juarez beat Dwayne Bonds by decision in a super lightweight bout. Featherweights Ricky Lopez and Joe Perez fought to a draw after 10 rounds.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Fast Results From NYC: Crawford TKOs Khan but not Without Controversy

Arne K. Lang

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Crawford vs Khan

Amir Khan, who doesn’t shy away from tough assignments, was in New York tonight opposing WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford, a man who is on everyone’s short list of boxing’s top pound-for-pound fighters. The general assumption was that Khan had the slickness to win a few rounds but that his chin would ultimately betray him.

Khan won one round at the most — and that’s being generous – before the bout was stopped after 47 seconds of the sixth frame with Khan in pain from a low blow. Referee David Fields stopped the action to allow Khan to recover and then stopped the fight on the advice of the ring doctor with the apparent encouragement of Khan’s trainer Virgil Hunter. Because the low blow was accidental, Crawford was declared the winner by TKO.

It appeared that this fight would end in a hurry. In the opening round, Crawford decked Khan with an overhand right. Khan got to his feet but was in distress and for a moment it didn’t appear that he would last out the round. But Crawford did not press his advantage in round two and Khan regained his composure.

Crawford was in complete control when the fight ended, having raked Khan with combinations and a series of body punches in the fourth and fifth stanzas. Although the final punch of the fight was way south of the border, Khan’s refusal to continue was widely seen as an act of surrender. After the bout, Crawford called out Errol Spence.

PPV Undercard

Lightweight Teofimo Lopez, whose highlight reel knockouts and brash demeanor have made him arguably the most exciting young prospect in boxing, found a new way to conclude a fight tonight, collapsing Edis Tatli in the fifth round with a body punch. Lopez, who was born in Brooklyn and raised in a suburb of Miami (his parents are from Honduras and Spain), improved to 13-0 with his 11th knockout. Tatli, a Kosovo-born Finn making his U.S. debut, suffered his third loss in 34 starts. A two-time European lightweight champion, Tatli hadn’t previously been stopped.

Fast rising featherweight contender Shakur Stevenson, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Newark, simply outclassed former world title challenger Christopher Diaz, winning the 10-round bout on scores of 100-90, 99-91, and 98-82. The 21-year-old southpaw, now 11-0, was too fast and too busy for his Puerto Rican adversary who fell to 24-2.

In the first of the four PPV bouts, lightweight Felix Verdejo won a unanimous 10-round decision over Bryan Vasquez. Verdejo, a 2012 Olympian for Puerto Rico once touted as the island’s next Felix Trinidad, was returning to the site where he suffered his lone defeat, succumbing to heavy underdog Antonio Lozada whose unrelenting aggression ultimately wore him down, resulting in a 10th round stoppage.

Vasquez appeared to injure his left shoulder near the midpoint of the battle, an advantage to Verdejo, now 25-1, who started slowly but outworked Vasquez down the stretch, winning by scores of 98-92 and 97-93 twice. Costa Rica’s Vasquez, the husband of prominent boxer Hanna Gabriels, falls to 37-4.

Other Bouts

 Super welterweight Carlos Adames, who hails from the Dominican Republic but has been training with Robert Garcia in Riverside, California, made a strong impression with a 4th round stoppage of Brooklyn’s Frank Galarza. The undefeated Adames, now 17-0 (14 KOs), knocked Galarza (20-3-2) to the canvas with a hard left hook and then went for the kill, pinning Galarza against the ropes with a series of unanswered punches that compelled referee Benjy Estevez to intervene. The official time was 1:07.

 Super welterweight Edgar Berlanga, a 21-year-old New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent, needed only 46 seconds to dismiss 38-year-old Brazilian trail horse Samir dos Santos. Berlanga, who began his pro career in Mexico, has now knocked out all 10 of his opponents in the opening round.

Super welterweight Vikas Krishan, a two-time Olympian, improved to 2-0 with a 6-round unanimous decision over Noah Kidd (3-2-1). The scores were 59-55 and 60-54 twice.

A 27-year-old southpaw who as a job waiting for him as a police officer, Krishan is the second notable boxer to emerge from India, following on the footsteps of Top Rank stablemate Vijender Singh.

Bantamweight Lawrence Newton, a Floridian who has been training at Terence Crawford’s gym in Omaha, won his 12th straight without a loss with a 6-round unanimous decision over Jonathan Garza (7-3). The scores were 60-54 and 59-55 twice.

In a 6-round junior welterweight match that was one-sided but yet entertaining, Lawrence Fryers won a unanimous decision over Dakota Polley. Fryers, wh is from Ireland but resides in New York, improved to 10-1. The 20-year-old Polley, from St. Joseph, Missouri, fell to 5-3.

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