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Tim Bradley's Long Mechanical Journey

David A. Avila

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Timothy-Bradley 64bdf

By David A. Avila

While Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley sat comfortably chatting about his changes in fighting style it reminded me of the journey he began many years ago at an outdoor venue in Corona.

It was August 2004 when Bradley first stepped into a prize ring in the city of Corona, a town that boxing historians know brought the world Manuel Ortiz, perhaps the greatest bantamweight in the history of the sport.

During Bradley’s pro debut, under the hot summer sky, it was obvious that he possessed speed and athleticism above the norm. But his style was amateurish, featuring plenty of running, flashy combinations and a Sugar Ray Leonard type of showmanship. Fans were not pleased.

“When we first saw him we realized he was a diamond in the rough,” said Ken Thompson, president of Thompson Boxing Promotions.

But each fight Bradley adapted more pro elements to his game under the tutelage of trainer Joel Diaz, a former prizefighter who fought for a world title. The Diaz style of boxing focused on the boxer/puncher style that he and his brothers Antonio and Julio Diaz used in their careers. It was an effective method of attack for the pros.

“He was improving in every single fight,” said Thompson who promoted Bradley’s first 27 pro bouts.

Fight by fight the Palm Springs prizefighter began absorbing the pro boxing style and fans began to appreciate it at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, Calif. They began to talk about the kid from the desert who was simply too fast and strong for most youngsters he faced in 2004.

Bradley’s first venture outside of the comforts of home came when the next year he was matched against an unknown Brazilian at the downtown Los Angeles Athletic Club. It was to be Bradley’s showcase for L.A. fans.

When the intro music for Bradley’s opponent played, a tall slender Brazilian walked up to the ring. He looked to be six or seven inches taller than Bradley and his record was advertised as no wins and one loss; in fact he had seven wins and one loss. It was hidden from the matchmaker.

Up to that moment Bradley had breezed through six opponents. But on that evening on July 2005, the Palm Springs fighter would be tested to the fullest.

Brazilian lesson

The historic L.A. Athletic Club dates back to 1880 and its members included legendary power brokers like Henry Huntington, Edward L. Doheny, Charlie Chaplin and Colonel Harrison Otis whose family then owned the L.A. Times.

Bradley quickly found himself in a firefight that night for the first time in his professional career. Before that his natural athleticism put him miles ahead of previous opponents that were helpless to deal with his speed and agility.

Marcos Andre Rocha Costa towered over Bradley when they were introduced in the boxing ring and stood facing each other. It was almost comical the size disparity between the two boxers as part of the crowd seemed amazed that a young professional fighter would be matched against someone much taller. The more amazing issues would soon follow.

Once the first bell rang and fighting commenced, it was clear that Costa could fight. And one more thing, he was a southpaw with speed and power. Bradley had problems like never before trying to get within the Brazilian’s long reach. Time and time again he tried finding the right timing until he decided to take his chances and withstand fire to give fire.

It worked.

Bradley began catching Costa with punches as he dived in through a windmill of blows. Things were beginning to turn around until suddenly Bradley dove right into a left cross and was slightly staggered. The Brazilian immediately unloaded some more blows and kept on until the bell ended the round. It seemed Bradley was in serious trouble.

Entering the fifth round it was make or break for Bradley who had been hurt. Could he recover from the jolt or would he climb into a shell and try to survive? The answer came quick as the Palm Springs boxer charged the tall Brazilian and unloaded a furious barrage. Immediately he hurt the surprised Costa and followed it up with a vicious assault that finally forced referee Pat Russell to end the fight at 2:15 of the fifth round. Bradley won by knockout against a very good opponent.

“He put his heart and soul into it,” Thompson remembers. “We did not bring him up on ham and eggers.”

It would be the start of Bradley’s journey and the beginning of a string of fights that would lead him into the upper tier of prizefighting.

In most of his fights the Palm Springs boxer was almost always the shorter man in the boxing ring. The year 2007 was the beginning of his televised bouts and ended with Bradley facing then unknown Miguel “El Titere” Vazquez of Mexico, who would later reign as a lightweight world champion. Vazquez would be the first of a dozen world champions that Bradley would face and defeat inside the prize ring.

Championship fights

After signing a co-promotional agreement with Gary Shaw Productions, the first world title shot would force Bradley to travel to England to face WBC titlist Junior Witter. Few knew who Bradley was. It’s probable that trainer Joel Diaz was more well-known than Bradley at that time in 2008.

“He had Joel Diaz as trainer from day one. He’s one of the top five trainers in the world,” Thompson says. “He did a remarkable job.”

Witter’s style was perplexing to most that faced the quickster from Nottingham known as “the Hitter.” Bradley blitzed through him with surprising speed. Before the fight most experts felt Witter was too fast, but it was the contrary.

Speed was always Bradley’s primary weapon, yet every time he faced a top tier opponent or a world champion experts felt he was the slower man. It happened quite often and especially against Devon Alexander when they met. Experts claimed Alexander had the speed advantage despite Bradley’s dispatching of Witter, Kendall Holt, Edner Cherry, Nate Campbell, and Luis Abregu.

“We knew he could beat anybody,” Thompson said.

After defeating Alexander, it was a parting of ways between Bradley and Thompson Boxing Promotions. At the time a contract had been signed that would have paired Bradley with Amir Khan and set up a possible showdown with Floyd Mayweather. Bradley chose another path and signed with Top Rank.

“That was the direction — we were going after Mayweather,” said Thompson, adding that Bradley still succeeded under Top Rank. “But Bob Arum is a great promoter.”

Top Ranks road

The chase was on for Bradley to meet Manny Pacquiao. When the Palm Springs prizefighter was introduced to the media at the Beverly Hills Hotel in a small gathering of media, it was voiced by both the promoter and fighter that Pacquiao was the desired target.

Pacquiao was running out of opponents and had just defeated Juan Manuel Marquez in their third encounter. Though it was razor close, another fight with Marquez was not desired. Bradley was chosen and it’s what he wanted.

“First fight was very close. It could have gone either way,” says Bradley. “The first fight I was able to beat Manny and honestly 2012 was one of his best years. He was still top dog.”

But Pacquiao’s fans were incensed and believed the Filipino superstar was robbed. Instead of a rematch Bradley was paired against Russian slugger Ruslan Provodnikov. Bradley was out to prove himself against the fearsome Provodnikov. He won the rousing skirmish by a unanimous decision, but nearly paid with his life. Then despite using his boxing skills to defeat the always dangerous Marquez, a return match with Pacquiao found Bradley trying to go toe-to-toe with Pacman.

“Going back to the Ruslan fight, that fight was brutal and took a lot out of me. That punch that I got from Jessie Vargas really opened my eyes,” Bradley said, and he called Teddy Atlas for a neutral observer’s opinion.

Decision time saw Bradley decide he must change his fighting style again.

“After that conversation I had with Teddy nobody had ever had the knowledge to tell me how to avoid that punch. I said I want Teddy Atlas to train me. My wife was kind of shocked because she knows how loyal I am to the people, to trainers, and to people that have always had my back. I was willing to make that change because it was the right time to make that decision for my sake,” said Bradley at his personal gym last week. “It’s not that I didn’t get the job done with Joel Diaz, he’s a great trainer too. I guess I stopped listening to him and stopped believing in him. We were just going through the motions in the gym.”

When Top Rank announced that Brandon Rios would face Bradley after destroying Mike Alvarado nearly a year earlier, fans were jubilant. It was also announced that Bradley had a new trainer and few could foresee the change in style that would ensue.

“I know I was a five time world champion but I was taking a lot of punishment. To be able to remain in the business and fight a longer fight and to be able to hold my children some day and have all my faculties, that was very important to me,” Bradley said. “My wife said ‘Tim you can’t keep taking these punches, you can’t keep fighting this way.’ And I was, you’re right.”

Mechanical adjustments

Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios has that flair for prizefighting both in and out of the prize ring. He’s a throwback to the 1940s when guys like Rocky Graziano, Tony Zale and Sugar Ray Robinson ruled the boxing world and talked out of the side of their mouth.

When it was first announced more than half believed Rios could wreck Bradley’s change in direction like salt in a gas tank. On more than one occasion Rios bludgeoned his way to victory. Whether it was by a clean knockout or a dirty blood spit affair with elbows, eye gouging and low blows, he always found a way to the victory stand. Could Bradley contend with Rios?

It was a big question when they entered the boxing ring at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas last November.

Bradley was like a spinning top zipping from point to point with effortless motion until body shots dropped Rios twice in the ninth round and Rios signaled it was over.

“Want to know why he quit? Because he was getting beat every round. I was doing everything I needed to do to make him say I’m done,” said Bradley of Rios. “Rios was saying to himself ‘He’s not letting me land that big shot I was looking for.’ That’s all he was looking for…one shot.”

Bradley was within striking distance for himself, but never to allow Rios to strike back. It was a matter of angles and positioning.

Pacquiao is now in the picture again for a third time and Bradley is ready to put his new mechanics to the test.

“I think mechanically I’m a more disciplined fighter now and I’ll have a better chance of beating Manny Pacquiao; just being solid on fundamentals. Most of the guys that faced him that were fundamentally solid gave him problems. Marquez put him on the ground. He’s always set and gave him problems. Floyd, the same thing: Always there, always solid and ready to punch. Erik Morales, same thing. Always solid. Not spooked by what they see. Not spooked by his movement. They know exactly what they’re looking at,” said Bradley of opponents that gave Pacquiao problems and losses. “This time I know exactly what I’m looking at. I know what type of animal he is, what type of fighter he is.”

Bradley feels the adjustments in his fighting style and the insights into Pacquiao’s style pointed out to him by Atlas will change the outcome.

“A lot of that has changed now. I don’t get on both toes as much anymore. I’m a little bit more solid with my stance now. I approach a little bit more flat footed in the ring; I kind of slide around the ring now.  There are more little subtle changes than ever before,” said Bradley. “Breaking him down on film, there are four things he does very well. And he does it over and over and over and over. He does them very well.”

It’s a matter of mechanics for Bradley this time.

“This time around I’m clear headed and I know what I got to do,” Bradley said.

 

 

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Tonight’s TSS Fight Coverage

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Tonight, TSS will be providing coverage on the following three events. Be sure to look for Arne K. Lang’s fast results from Oklahoma City,  Bernard Fernandez’s article on the Ennis vs Serrano card in Philly, and David Avila’s perspective on Thompson Boxing’s card in Ontario, CA.

Maurice Hooker vs. Alex Saucedo

Maurice Hooker will defend his WBO junior welterweight title tonight when he faces Alex Saucedo at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. The main event will be featured live on ESPN at midnight ET, and the co-main event will be headlining the ESPN+ stream at 6:30 pm ET.

Hooker: “I’ll fight anywhere. Outside your house, in front of your house, in the ring, on the sidewalk. I don’t care where I fight as long as I fight. I’m a fighter. I love to fight. I can outbox him. I can fight you on the inside. Come Friday, we’re going to see a good fight.”

Saucedo:“I grew up just around the corner I always had the dream to bring championship fights back to Oklahoma, and now its here. I’m not going to let this opportunity go. I’m ready. We prepared ourselves in Big Bear for a very good fight. Like I’ve said, I’m ready for anything Maurice brings that night. I’m going to take that belt from him.”

Weigh In Results

Maurice Hooker – 140 lbs. vs. Alex Saucedo – 139.4 lbs.
(WBO Junior Welterweight world title – 12 Rounds)

Egidijus Kavaliauskas – 146.6 lbs. vs. Roberto Arriaza – 146.8 lbs.
(NABF and WBO Inter-Continental Welterweight titles – 10 Rounds)

Cletus Seldin – 141.4 lbs. vs. Nelson Lara – 142.4 lbs.
(Super Lightweight – 10 Rounds)

Jonathan Guzman – 122.6 lbs. vs. Roberto Castaneda – 122.8 lbs.
(Super Bantamweight – 10 Rounds)

Albert Bell – 132.4 lbs. vs. Carlos Padilla – 132.4 lbs.
(Lightweight – 8 Rounds)

Trevor McCumby – 172.6 lbs. vs. Felipe Romero – 172.4 lbs.
(Light Heavyweight – 8 Rounds)

Tyler Howard – 161 lbs. vs. Isiah Seldon – 160.8 lbs.
(Middleweight – 8 Rounds)

Aaron Morales – 117.4 lbs. vs. Francisco Lapizco – 118.2 lbs.
(Bantamweight – 6 Rounds)

Rasheen Brown 120.6 lbs. vs. Sebastian Baltazar 120.6 lbs.
(Super Bantamweight – 4 Rounds)

Paul Kroll 149.6 lbs. vs. Travis Conley 147.4 lbs.
(Super Welterweight – 4 Rounds)

John Rincon 135 lbs. vs. Emanuel Williams (to weigh in later)
(Lightweight- 4 Rounds)

Jaron Ennis vs Raymond Serrano

Jaron Ennis takes on Raymond Serrano at 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, PA.  ShoBox: The New Generation will feature three fights live via Showtime at 9:35 ET.

Ennis: “He thinks he has more experience than me. No, he doesn’t. I grew up in this sport. I’ve been in the gym since I was in a jumper. I’ve seen it all. I got to see my brothers fight growing up. I’ve sparred pros since I was 12-years-old. They always say I don’t have the experience and I’ve never fought anybody. We’ll see. There’s nothing this guy can do.”

Serrano: “There’s going to be a lot of people in the crowd that want to see me lose. Ennis is the hot prospect with all the fans, but I think I may switch some people’s opinion. Beating Ennis will put me in the position to fight anybody.”

Weigh In Results

Jaron Ennis – 145 lbs. vs. Raymond Serrano – 146 ¾ lbs.                                                                (Welterweight – 10 Rounds)

Kenneth Sims Jr. – 139 lbs. vs. Samuel Teah – 140 ¾ lbs.                                                             (Super Lightweight – 8 Rounds)

Arnold Khegai – 121 ¾ lbs. vs. Jorge Diaz – 121 ¾ lbs.                                                               (Super Bantamweight – 8 Rounds)

Michael Dutchover vs Ruben Tamayo

Michael Dutchover will now be facing Ruben Tamayo as the “Locked ‘n Loaded” main event of Thompson Boxing’s season finale at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, CA. All bouts will be streamed on TP Presents: Path to Glory via their Facebook page, YouTube channel, and website. The event is scheduled to begin at 8:00 pm PT.

Dutchover: “I’m expecting a tough fight, but I’ve prepared well and I’m ready to put on a show just like I always do.”

Weigh In Results

Michael Dutchover – 134 lbs. vs. Ruben Tamayo – 134 lbs.                                                           (Junior Lightweight – 8 Rounds)

Pedro Moreno – 139.5 lbs. vs. Erik Aguirre – 136.1 lbs.                                                               (Lightweight – 6 Rounds)

Richard Brewart – 153.1 lbs. vs. Antonio Luis Hernandez – 155 lbs.                                               (Welterweight – 4 Rounds)

Leo Ruiz – 152.6 lbs. vs. Nam Phan – 153.9 lbs.                                                                     (Welterweight – 4 Rounds)

Mario Hernandez – 118.7 lbs. vs. Luis Montellano – 118.6 lbs.                                               (Bantamweight – 6 Rounds)

Arnold Dinong – 127.5 lbs. vs. Alex Solorio – 127.5 lbs.                                                             (Featherweight – 4 Rounds)

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‘Boots’ Ennis: Finding Opponents Has Been a Challenge for Co-Manager Cameron Dunkin

Bernard Fernandez

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Ennis

Given the fact that he has won his last 11 bouts inside the distance, there is a better-than-good chance that smokin’ hot welterweight prospect Jaron “Boots” Ennis (21-0, 19 KOs) will put away fellow Philadelphia fighter Raymond Serrano (24-5, 10 KOs) sometime before Friday night’s scheduled 10-rounder at the 2300 Arena in South Philly, to be televised via ShoBox: The New Generation, goes to the judges’ scorecards.

But another quick, emphatic and impressive demonstration of Ennis’ handiwork inside the ropes could make the task of procuring the next victim, uh, opponent even more daunting for co-manager Cameron Dunkin, whose list of fighter-clients past and present includes the celebrated likes of Terence Crawford, Nonito Donaire, Timothy Bradley Jr., Jessie Vargas, Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson, Danny Romero, Stevie Johnston, Kelly Pavlik and the late Johnny Tapia and Diego Corrales.

If fellow co-manager Derrick “Bozy” Ennis, his son’s trainer, is to be believed, Serrano accepted the frequently painful challenge of swapping punches with the youngest and most talented of the three boxing Ennis brothers after a veritable Mummer’s Parade of other fighters had said thanks, but no thanks.

“I heard that something like 18 different people turned Boots down until Serrano said he’d take the fight,” said Bozy Ennis, a former middleweight who took older and now-retired sons Derek “Pooh” Ennis (24-5-1, 13 KOs) and Farah Ennis (22-2, 12 KOs) to minor titles before catching a legitimate glimpse of the big time with the baby boxer of the family. “I don’t know how true that is, but Serrano doesn’t back down from nobody. That’s my man. He used to spar at my old gym.”

To be fair, the 29-year-old Serrano has a vision of significantly boosting his own stock should he upset Boots Ennis, 21, who has been hailed by some as the best young prospect to come out of the great fight town of Philadelphia since Olympic gold medalist and future two-division world champion Meldrick Taylor in the mid-1980s. “I am excited. This is Philly vs. Philly,” Serrano said when the bout was announced last month. “We are two of the best welterweights going at it. With a win, this will lead me to even bigger fights.”

Maybe, but then the formerly undefeated Armando Alvarez figured he’d be the one to take some of the shine off Boots when they squared off for the fringe WBC Silver welterweight title on July 20 in Sloan, Iowa, which also was televised by ShoBox: The New Generation. Alvarez, who went in with an 18-0 record with 12 knockouts, was floored four times in the third round before referee Adam Pollack stepped in and waved off the surprisingly one-sided – well, at least to some – beat-down.

With what arguably was Boots Ennis’ most impressive victory as a pro, the cost to Dunkin of lining up the next opponent jumped even higher than it already had been.

“It’s really find hard guys willing to fight Boots,” said Dunkin, who has been down this road before with other future champions and knows he will have to go down it again, maybe with acclaimed amateur David Stephens, a winner of multiple national championships who will be turning pro as a cruiserweight on Friday’s card. “You get people who will fight him because they’ve given up, their careers are over and they’re just looking to get paid. Of course, TV and the commissions don’t want them. Guys who are young and still have a lot of hope and promise don’t want to go near Boots because they know they’ll probably lose.

“All you can do is hope you can pay enough money to get someone to fight him. To Serrano’s credit, he has a ton of guts. He’s a real fighter and he accepted the challenge. But, you know, we’ve been dealing with this for a long time. It’s not easy getting anyone to fight Boots. We’ve highly overpaid guys for six-rounders and even-four rounders. We’ve paid top dollar and even beyond top dollar. I tried to keep the lid on Boots a little bit and told Bozy that the more his son won, the harder it was going to be to get guys to fight him. And the cost of finding opponents keeps going up. We could have fought for the WBC Silver belt sooner, but after what Boots did to Alvarez I knew the cost of getting opponents had just gone up another $10,000.”

Curiously, Boots Ennis is not ranked among the top 15 welterweights by any of the four major world sanctioning bodies. Dunkin said that is partly by design, a resistance to prematurely pushing a gifted kid into matches with more experienced fighters before he’s ready. He said this Boots was made for walking, at least until he’s ready to run at the level his skill set is sure to take him when the time is right.

“He’s a super talent,” Dunkin said. “He’s so fast and so quick and he hits really hard. His reflexes are unbelievable. I can go on and on about all the attributes he has. Oh, and he’s also a gym rat. He lives in the gym and soaks everything up. He’s always working on things in order to become a more complete fighter. And he’s only 21 years old! It isn’t often you find someone who’s so skilled and yet so mature at that age.

“Bozy and I decided at the outset that there was no need to rush things along. He was only 18 when he turned pro. Somebody that young, you don’t know when he’ll get all his physical strength and learn all the things that only come with experience. Boots listened and he agreed to go along with the program. He said, `When my dad decides I’m ready to step up, I’ll step up.’

“Back then, he thought he could be a great fighter. Now he knows it. There’s a big difference. He’s so close even now. The moment he beats a `name’ fighter, he’ll be in the ratings. There are now one or two guys now (Crawford and Errol Spence Jr., maybe?) I’d be concerned with putting him in with at this point. Everyone else, I’m OK with. He’s that good. But he can be so much better.”

So how does Boots feel about the slow-and-steady approach favored by his dad and Dunkin?

“It’ll happen when it happens,” he said of his expected grand arrival on the big stages where stars and reputations are made. “I’m only 21. For now, all I can do is keep beating everybody they put in front of me.”

In other TV fights, both scheduled eight-rounders, super lightweight Samuel “Tsunami” Teah (14-2-1, 7 KOs), from Philly by way of his native Liberia, takes on Chicago’s Kenneth Sims Jr. (13-1-1, 4 KOs) and super bantamweight Jorge Diaz (19-5-1, 10 KOs), of New Brunswick, N.J., faces Arnold Khegai (13-0-1, 9 KOs), a Ukrainian now fighting out of Philadelphia.

Teah, 31, might have perished along with five relatives and a family friend – including two brothers, two nieces and an 18-month-nephew – had he been at home on Dec. 26, 2008, when a kerosene heater exploded in the basement of their Southwest Philadelphia residence, igniting a conflagration that razed the three-story brick duplex. The human tragedy of that night (Teah’s mom and three other family members survived) has stamped Teah as a survivor in more ways than one.

Bernard Fernandez is the retired boxing writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. He is a five-term former president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, an inductee into the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame and the recipient of the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism and the Barney Nagler Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing.

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The Avila Perspective Chap. 21: Spence vs. Garcia, Diego De La Hoya and More

David A. Avila

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Mikey, Errol & Diego

After weeks of dilly dallying Premier Boxing Championship unveiled its Fox network schedule for the upcoming six months including the blockbuster announcement that Mikey Garcia (pictured at yesterday’s confab with Lennox Lewis) will challenge IBF welterweight kingpin Errol Spence Jr.

It doesn’t get bigger than that.

A press conference at Fox Television headquarters in Century City on Tuesday saw two dozen of PBC’s top fighters gathered to speak to reporters about their upcoming clashes to be televised on Fox and its affiliates beginning in December through April 2019.

Included in the announced array of top prizefighters are Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Leo Santa Cruz, and the brothers Jermell and Jermall Charlo opening up the Fox fight series on December 22 in Brooklyn, New York.

But the fight that has been resonating since last July, when Garcia publicly announced he wanted to fight Spence, has finally sprouted wings and now takes place on March 16, in Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium.

“I just want to get the biggest fights available and make the biggest splash,” said Garcia, 30, who has won world titles in four weight divisions.

Spence, who is world champion at a weight category two weight divisions heavier than Garcia, welcomes the challenge. Both he and Garcia are considered by many among the top 10 prizefighters pound for pound in the world.

“It’s a dream come true. I have a lot of fans and he has a lot of fans too,” said Spence.

Their clash will be shown on Fox pay-per-view. It’s the crown jewel of all the planned matchups planned by PBC. It’s one of the best possible fights to be made in 2019.

One other fight that looks interesting is Jose Uzcategui defending the interim IBF super middleweight title against Caleb Plant on January 13, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

It was a masterful move to announce the upcoming schedule to the media for the next five months. It allows fans the opportunity to plan their way around the fight scene that grows bigger every year. This upcoming year will be bigger than the world has ever seen before.

With Fox, Showtime, ESPN and DAZN all jumping in with hundreds of millions of dollars into the boxing pot, the world of prizefighting is booming.

De La Hoya in Mexicali

Undefeated Diego De La Hoya (20-0) defends the NABF super bantamweight title against Venezuela’s Edixon Perez (17-2) on Saturday Nov. 17, at Mexicali, Mexico. It’s the first time he’s fought as a professional in his hometown. It will be televised on Azteca TV.

“This fight is good for him because he hasn’t fought in Mexico. This is a great opportunity for the fans in Mexico to get to see him. Millions will be tuning in. that’s great exposure for him in Mexico,” said Joel De La Hoya who manages Diego De La Hoya. “You want that Mexican fan base behind you as well.”

Diego De La Hoya, 24, has been fighting professionally for five years now. Ever since he first stepped into the prize ring big things have been expected from the cousin of Oscar De La Hoya the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. Generally, he’s delivered.

In his last two fights Diego De La Hoya defeated two former world champions. This past June the Mexicali fighter stopped Jose Salgado in the seventh round in a fight that took place in upstate New York. Before that, he handed talented Randy Caballero his first defeat as a professional.

Golden Boy has carefully plotted his career though at times it seemed he was bored with fighting lesser talent.

“He was still in his second year when big fights were offered. We kind of held off to give him more time to mature. He’s got the skillset,” said Joel De La Hoya, brother of Oscar De La Hoya. “Once you win the world title you can’t take any more soft touches. That’s not the way we grew up, me and my brother.”

Though world title fights were offered the De La Hoya’s declined. But now the team feels ready to move to the next step after this fight.

“This is more of a stay busy fight, but anytime someone faces a De La Hoya they’re going to come with everything against the De La Hoya name,” said Joel De La Hoya. “But after this, we’re going to be pushing for a shot at the world title.”

The 122-pound limit super bantamweight division is blue hot with talent. It hasn’t been this loaded since guys like Israel Vazquez, Rafael Marquez, Jhonny Gonzalez and Oscar Larios were menacing the division and fighting each other from 2004 to 2010.

Today, the super bantamweight division is ripe with talent especially in Southern California where WBA super bantamweight titlist Danny Roman lives. It’s a match that can easily be made. Others holding belts are Mexico’s Rey Vargas with the WBC title, Isaac Dogboe the WBO titlist, and Australia’s TJ Doheny the IBF titleholder. It’s a very talented weight division and one that De La Hoya fits into nicely.

“It’s hot right now for the super bantamweights. We’re excited. You have Danny Roman who has a world title and is a candidate for Fighter of the Year,” said Joel De La Hoya. “You also have Dogboe. We’re slowly but surely going to see them cancel each other off. They are very do-able fights considering Diego is ranked in the top 10 in each of those organizations.”

But first, this Saturday his hometown fans and fellow countrymen get an opportunity to see him perform before certain world title challenges.

“Once you fight for a world title there is no turning back,” De La Hoya said. “But Diego has a high boxing IQ.”

Thompson Boxing card

Texas bred Michael Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) meets veteran Daulis Prescott in the super featherweight main event on Friday Nov. 16, at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, Calif.

Dutchover, 20, is one of many talented Texans who are moving into Southern California to find more opportunity and preparation. He was signed by Thompson Boxing Promotions more than a year ago and is one of several top prospects moving up the ranks quickly.

“I’ve (sparred) with some of the top names in the sport and they teach me something different,” Dutchover said. “Danny Roman, Oscar Valdez, Jessie Magdaleno are a few that come to mind.”

The Thompson Boxing fight card will be streamed live on their Facebook page beginning at Friday 8 p.m. PT.

Fights to watch via streaming or TV

Fri. 3:30 p.m. PT/ 6:30 p.m. ET – Egidijus Kavaliauskas (20-0) vs. Roberto Arriaza (17-0) on ESPN3.

Fri. 9:00 p.m. PT/ midnight ET – Maurice Hooker (24-0-3) vs. Alex Saucedo (28-0) on ESPN.

Fri. 3:30 p.m. PT/ 6:30 p.m. ET – Branden Pizarro (12-1) vs. Gadwin Rosa (8-0) and several other bouts at: https://www.facebook.com/FaceFIGHTNIGHTLIVE/

Fri. 9:35 p.m. ET/PT – Jaron Innis (21-0) vs. Raymond Serrano (24-5) on Showtime television.

Sat. 6 p.m. PT/ 9 p.m. ET – Jarrell Miller (22-0-1) vs. Bogdan Dinu (18-0); Claressa Shields (6-0) vs. Hannah Rankin (5-2) on DAZN.

Sat. 8 p.m. PT – Diego De La Hoya (20-0) vs Edixon Perez (17-2) on Azteca TV.

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