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Don’t Admonish Adrien Broner; Mikey Garcia Put on a Clinic

Frank Lotierzo

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genuine article

Sometimes you see a fighter for the first time and you just know he’s the genuine article. And that’s exactly what I sensed the first time I watched Mikey Garcia 37-0 (30) fight. In fifty-plus years of watching boxing and observing fighters, Mikey Garcia is easily one of the top10 most fundamentally sound and mistake-free I’ve seen. Garcia has a high boxing aptitude and great intuition. Couple that with his determination, toughness and desire to be great, and you have a special fighter, one who must be considered among boxing’s top five pound-for-pound practitioners today.

Leading up to this past weekend’s fight between Garcia and Adrien Broner 33-3 (24), many questioned Broner’s dedication and pondered what type of effort he’d give. When he weighed in at 138.8, more than a pound under the 140 stipulated weight, it was widely assumed Adrien took his training seriously and would at the least, if he didn’t win, give Garcia the toughest bout of his career. But Broner lost a unanimous decision and I don’t think the fight was as close as the officials scored it (117-111, 116-112 and 116-112). I scored it 118-110 (10-2 by rounds) for Garcia.

It was only the third defeat of Broner’s career, the other two coming against Marcos Maidana (UD-12) and Shawn Porter (UD-12), both formidable former world title holders. The difference in the three losses is that whereas Maidana and Porter out-toughed and out- worked Broner, Mikey Garcia outclassed him. Never at any point during the bout was Broner in control, opposed to his tussles with Maidana and Porter, where Adrien had some big moments and looked at times to be their equal.

However, I think in the post-fight fog, Broner is being excoriated more than is warranted.

In my pre-fight article I said….”Broner, 27, is a gifted freelancer who doesn’t go into his fights with a detailed objective. Adrien relies on his speed, over-exaggerated shoulder-roll and ability to put his punches together and pick his spots to win rounds. He fights in spurts and is a little bit of a con in the ring. Garcia, 29, is a fighter who does things the way the textbook calls for them to be done. He doesn’t make technical mistakes, his punches are precise and delivered on balance and his subtle pressure can force his opponents into mistakes if they rush things trying to occupy or disrupt him. On the inside he is terrific and always finds room and angles to punch with authority.”

Mikey Garcia put on a boxing clinic and beat Broner at every turn via out-thinking him and then out-fighting him. As stated before the bout, Broner never approaches his fights with a game plan; he believes his quick hands and feet along with his stop and go flurries will always be enough to carry him through to victory. And against most fighters that’ll usually get the job done…..but Garcia isn’t most fighters.

What Garcia did against Broner was masterful and I’m not sure Broner grasped fully what was happening to him as the fight progressed. Garcia understands timing and distance like few fighters around today, and he also realizes that you don’t have to make an opponent miss by a mile, which leaves you out of position to counter him. All you need to do is make him miss. For 12 rounds, due to him always being in range and at the perfect distance, Garcia made Broner miss by millimeters and then made him pay….and Broner knew it wasn’t by accident. This forced him to over-compensate by virtue of sometimes not punching enough to avoid the counter -or- he cut loose too recklessly, hoping to keep Garcia on the defense.

Adrien Broner is a flashy fighter. He’ll never be confused for being a cerebral fighter, but against Garcia he actually tried to change things up and resort to a plan-B and even plan-C….but that has gone unmentioned since PaulieMalignaggistated it during the broadcast.

Broner began the fight using his legs, moving to the left while flicking out his jab – hoping to counter and pepper Garcia when he tried to close the distance. The problem was Garcia was using a lot of half steps, making Broner believe he was coming into his range. That forced Adrien to initiate too soon. Garcia read it and countered him straight on. Broner wasn’t sure why he was getting hit, at least I don’t think he was. But what he understood was a change was needed. So he then tried the old shoulder lean as he walked to Garcia with his left jab extended as a decoy, once again hoping to induce Garcia to over-commit. And when Garcia saw the switch, he knew Broner couldn’t punch with authority from that position and instead of inching forward in half steps, Mikey baited Broner to pursue quicker than he wanted instead of inching forward and then BAM…..he countered Adrien with counter rights and lefts, and then picked a side to work his left and right hooks, and perfectly placed uppercuts.

During the final rounds Broner was desperate and really tried to force the fight. Mikey smartly gave ground, understood Adrien was fighting with urgency and moved just enough to where he was in position to pay Broner back when he stopped to reload. It was a thing of beauty watching Garcia use his perfect footwork to keep him out of harm’s way, but yet in position to counter. There were countless gaps of the fight in which Garcia lulled Broner into punching at air, missing by a morsel, time after time.

Garcia had Broner in a real catch-22. When Broner cut loose, he just missed and was hit cleanly in return. And when he tried to be more judicious with his offense, Garcia walked him down with nothing coming back at him. Broner tried, but once his speed and ability to make Garcia do a single thing he didn’t want to do was nullified, he had to wing it, and nobody is beating Garcia by winging it. If it wasn’t for Broner’s advantage in size and strength, he would’ve really been beaten up. It was obvious watching the fight that Broner was the bigger and stronger fighter physically.

Garcia was brilliant and his superior fundamentals and aptitude trumped Broner’s advantage in physicality. It was also obvious that lightweight is where Garcia belongs. He hit Broner, who isn’t the bravest fighter around when things aren’t going his way, with his Sunday punches and Adrien never looked like he wanted out or feared trading with him.

Adrien Broner is an easy target to rip for many reasons and he has no one to blame for that but himself. But he did take the fight with Garcia seriously and was in great shape. He never stopped trying to win it, but he didn’t have an answer for anything Garcia did. Mikey Garcia is an efficient technician and everything he does in the ring has a purpose, unlike many fighters who do things that serve no purpose but sometimes look unique and cool. Instead of admonishing Adrien Broner for the loss, Garcia should be lauded for his stellar performance. Not many fighters could dominate Broner and nullify all that he tried the way Mikey did, and it wasn’t an accident.

Mikey Garcia dominated Adrien Broner not necessarily because he’s more skilled……he dominated because he is a straight-up better and smarter boxer, from top to bottom, inside and out. Broner is the same fighter every time out. The rudimentary things he never took the time to learn became very apparent against the best technician in boxing.

Garcia fought perhaps the most complete fight of his career against the best fighter he has yet fought in Adrien Broner, but he’s not a junior welterweight, he’s a lightweight. There are some great fights for Mikey Garcia at 135 if he can get Jorge Linares or VasylLomachenko in the ring with him.

It easy to say Broner is a bum, but he’s not….”The Problem” was that Garcia was efficient and purposeful. He was terrific.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Erick Ituarte Wins Featherweight Battle in Ontario, Calif.

David A. Avila

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ONTARIO, CALIF.-Looking to make waves as a featherweight, Santa Ana’s Erick Ituarte battled Tijuana’s Jose Estrella evenly before pulling away in the last third of the fight to win by decision on Friday.

Ituarte (21-1-1, 3 KOs) lacks the big punch but has the long arms that enabled him to keep distance and out-point the shorter Estrella (20-16-1, 14 KOs) in their 10-round bout at the Doubletree Hotel. Thompson Boxing Promotions staged the fight card that saw about 500 fans at the event.

Estrella used his guts and guile to keep the fight close in the first four rounds of the fight. Back and forth they went trading momentum, Ituarte was effective attacking the body and Estrella was good at connecting with big blows to the head.

It wasn’t until the seventh round that Ituarte began utilizing his reach and mobility to make Estrella chase and run into pot shots. From that moment on Ituarte was in control of the fight. No knockdowns were scored with one judge scoring it 98-92 and two others 100-89 for Ituarte. Each round was very competitive.

Other bouts

Corona’s Luis Lopez (5-0, 3 KOs) powered his way to victory by unanimous decision over Mexico’s Daniel Perales (10-17-2, 5 KOs) after four rounds in a welterweight match. Though Lopez won every round with sharper punches he was never able to hurt the super tough Mexican fighter from Monterrey. He recognized that early and used crisp combinations to win each round though Perales had his moments too. All three judges scored it 40-36 for Lopez.

A heavyweight fight saw local fighter Oscar Torres (5-0, 2 KOs) run his record to five wins with a fourth round stoppage over Houston’s Thomas Hawkins (4-4) after a barrage of punches. The fight was stopped twice in the fourth round and a final barrage of blows prompted referee Tony Crebs to halt the fight at 1:20 of the round. Torres fights out of Rialto, California and is trained by Henry Ramirez.

Lightweights Davonte McCowen (0-0-1) and Chris Crowley (0-0-1) fought to a majority draw after four torrid rounds. Both were making their pro debuts. McCowen started faster and slowed in the last two rounds that allowed Britain’s Crowley to mount a rally in the last two rounds. It was a spirited fight between the two newcomers.

Photo credit: Alonzo Coston

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Introducing Australia’s Bilal Akkawy who steps in for David Lemieux on May 4

Arne K. Lang

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Akkawy

“Big Announcement Coming – Stay Tuned” wrote Bilal Akkawy late yesterday (April 18) on his twitter page. And then the Nevada Athletic Commission went and stole his thunder.

Later that day, the commission released its agenda for its forthcoming meeting on April 24. Among the items on the docket will be the selection of officials for Akkawy’s fight with England’s John Ryder. The 12-round contest for a “Vacant WBA Interim Super Middleweight Title” is penciled in as the chief undercard bout on the big May 4 show at the T-Mobile Arena topped by the match between Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs.

John Ryder’s original opponent, David Lemieux, was forced to pull out when he suffered a hand injury in training.

Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, the undefeated Akkawy (20-0-1, 16 KOs) has been Canelo Alvarez’s chief sparring partner. Canelo’s trainer, Eddy Reynoso, hired Akkawy based on a video that Akkary sent him as he was preparing to set up Canelo’s camp for the 2018 Cinco de Mayo rematch with Gennady Golovkin.

Two days before Canelo-Golovkin II, which was pushed back until September, Akkawy made his U.S. debut at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, scoring an 8-round decision over Christian Olivas. He appeared on the Canelo-Fielding card this past December in New York, scoring a 7th round stoppage over Victor Fonseca, and has had one fight since then, a stay-busy fight buried on a small show in Tamazula, Mexico, in which he didn’t stay very busy, dismissing his hopelessly overmatched opponent in the opening round.

Akkawy comes from a fighting family. His father Mahmoud “Mick” Akkawy and two of Mick’s brothers were good amateurs. Mick Akkawy was 2-0 as a pro when his career was cut short by a serious car accident. Mick and his brother Ahmad “Al” Akkawy now run a boxing club.

The elder Akkawy, whose roots are in Tripoli, was tutored by Johnny Lewis. To this day, Lewis, now 75 years old, insists that Mick Akkawy was the hardest puncher that he ever coached. Bilal Akkawy, says Lewis, inherited his old man’s genes. Lewis rates Bilal the hardest puncher, pound-for-pound, in Australia today.

That’s high praise. Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2017, Johnny Lewis has worked with six world title-holders, most notably Jeff Fenech and Kostya Tsyzu.

Bilal Akkawy’s power was on display on Oct. 30, 2016 when he stopped fellow Aussie Kerry Hope in the seventh round. Akkawy shattered Hope’s jaw – two operations were necessary – and dislodged four of his teeth. His best win since then was a wide 10-round decision over Italian veteran Giovanni De Carolis who had briefly held the WBA world super middleweight title.

Not all of Akkawy’s performances were glowing, however. The draw on his ledger is an ugly smudge, notwithstanding the fact that it came in a 4-round bout. His opponent was Joe Rea, a British slug who is currently 11-37-5 after losing 24 of his last 25 fights. Moreover, although he won every round in his U.S. debut vs. Christian Olivas, we were unimpressed. Akkawy had Olivas down in the second frame but was unable to apply the finisher.

Although Akkawy is a second-generation prizefighter, his father discouraged him from pursuing a career in the ring and he entered the pro ranks without the benefit of a single amateur bout. By contrast, John Ryder had 35 amateur fights before turning pro in September of 2010.

Ryder (27-5-1, 15 KOs) is no slouch. A southpaw, the Londoner has won three straight inside the distance since losing a split decision to Rocky Fielding. At age 30, he’s five years older than Akkawy and has far more experience, answering the bell as a pro for 187 rounds compared to only 84 for the Aussie.

Akkawy vs. Ryder won’t get the juices flowing in the United States where both are obscure. However, it’s an intriguing match. It will be interesting to see how the bookmakers price it.

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The Avila Perspective, Chap. 43: Welterweight Wars Coast to Coast and More

David A. Avila

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Granados

In a twisted development a couple of East Coast guys are headed to Los Angeles to battle while another pair of West Coast guys are headed to New York City.

Makes sense I guess.

Former two-division world champion Danny “Swift” Garcia of Philadelphia faces Adrian Granados of Chicago at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California on Saturday April 20. The PBC card will be televised by FOX.

Dignity Health is the new name attached to the complex formerly known as the StubHub Center and before that it was the Home Depot Center. Ironically, Dignity Health owns most of the cemeteries in Southern California.

Is that an omen?

Garcia (34-2, 20 KOs) is a counter-punching Puerto Rican who needs someone to fight that’s always on attack mode in order for him to shine. When he’s matched with another counter-puncher the crowd goes to sleep.

That’s where Chicago Mexican Granados (20-6-2, 14 KOs) fits in.

Granados (pictured) has never fought in a snoozer in his life. He probably kicked his way out when he was born. In fights against slow developers like Adrien Broner and Felix Diaz he made them fight for their lives. If this were ancient Roman times he would be fighting in the main event armed with a tooth pick against a lion. Blindfolded.

But he’s weary of being labeled as merely an entertaining fighter.

“I’m tired of it,” Granados, 29, said. “I want the title or I’m out of here.”

World titles are something Garcia knows about. He’s held the WBC and WBA super lightweight titles and the WBC welterweight title. In unification clash with Shawn Porter last September he lost by a razor close decision. He feels naked without a strap around his waist.

“I’m going to make a statement,” said Garcia about his pending battle with Granados. “I definitely want a rematch with Shawn Porter or Keith Thurman.”

Granados eyes Garcia with slight envy whenever they’re in the same room.

“I’m trying to cash in baby,” said Granados. “I just got to go in there and do my thing.”

Another interesting bout on the PBC card includes undefeated Brandon Figueroa (18-0, 13 KOs) a southpaw super bantamweight fighting Venezuela’s Yonfrez Parejo (22-3-1) for the interim WBA title. The actual titleholder is Los Angeles fighter Danny Roman who fights next week at the Inglewood Forum.

Other fighters of interest are Andy Ruiz, Alfredo Angulo, Omar Juarez and Carlos Balderas. It’s an extremely long card and begins at 3 p.m.

Friday is Thompson Boxing

Headlining a boxing card at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California is featherweight Erick Ituarte (20-1-1) versus Jose Estrella (20-15-1) in a 10-round main event. Ituarte is the stablemate of WBA champion Danny Roman. Estrella hails from Tijuana and has fought some tough customers like Miguel Marriaga and Christopher Diaz.

The Thompson Boxing Promotions event also features a solid looking welterweight Richard Brewart (4-0) against Vincent Morales (2-2-2) in a four round bout. Another interesting fight showcases Uzbekistan’s Murodjon Akhmadaliev (5-0) a southpaw slugger trained by Joel and Antonio Diaz in Indio. The lefty faces former world title contender Carlos Carlson (23-5) in a super bantamweight clash.

Thompson Boxing always delivers solid boxing cards and you never know which new boxing jewel will be discovered by them. They have a 20 year history of finding outstanding talent. You can also watch it streamed on Thompson Boxing’s page on Facebook.com.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information call (714) 935-0900.

New York Card

If you plan on staying home on Saturday night a solid fight card at Madison Square Garden features a welterweight world title fight between WBO titlist Terence Crawford and former two-division champion Amir Khan. It will be shown on ESPN pay-per-view at $59.95.

It’s a loaded card with Top Rank unfurling its best. Of course the best is Crawford who in my opinion is the top fighter pound for pound. And I was a late convert.

Nebraska’s Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) is based in the Midwest and heads east to fight England’s Khan (33-4, 20 KOs) who trains in California. They’re fighting for the WBO title and it should be a very good fight.

Khan has always been a favorite of mine. He’s blessed with speed and agility and also has a lot of guts. Not just because he fought Saul “Canelo” Alvarez at middleweight, but because he’s a true prizefighter looking for the biggest fights in the world. He’s been criticized by his own countrymen for not fighting some of his fellow Brits, but Khan looks at everything globally, not nationally. He especially wants fights that Americans want to see. They want to see this fight.

“I wanted this fight because I wanted to fight the best. Terence Crawford presented the greatest challenge to me at this point in my career. Listen, the Kell Brook fight was there, but fighting Terence gives me the opportunity to show I am a pound-for-pound fighter,” said Khan.

Of course thousands of Brits will be flying across the Atlantic Ocean for a glimpse of this showdown. First because it’s New York, second because it’s boxing and Brits love boxing. Gotta love them Brits.

Crawford, like Khan, is blessed with speed and agility too. And he also has several ways to attack. He’s not a one-dimensional fighter. He’s like a jazz musician; he can take it wherever it needs to go. Whether its hip hop or improvisational he can easily slip into another tempo. That’s his magic.

“Amir Khan is undefeated as a welterweight and can’t be underestimated. He has great hand speed, movement, and some power as well,” said Crawford. “I want to showcase all of my talents in this fight.”

Keep your eyes open in this fight.

Other bouts on this high quality fight card:

Top Rank has a couple of their prospects jumping up to face contenders. First you have Shakur Stevenson (10-0) meeting former world title challenger Christopher Diaz (24-1) of Puerto Rico in a 10-round featherweight clash. If it were any other prospect I might say the kid is moving too fast. But Shakur has eye-popping talent.

Another prospect going against a contender is Brooklyn’s Teofimo Lopez (12-0) meeting Finland’s Edis Tatli (31-2, 10 KOs) in a lightweight match. Lopez, 21, already has fought in three 10-round fights and has the NABF and USBA lightweight belts. Tatli has the EBU lightweight belt. Whose belt means more in this fight?

Puerto Rico’s highly touted Felix Verdejo (24-1,16 KOs) lost a year ago to Mexico’s Ines Lozada Torres by knockout. Then he returned to win by knockout last November. Now he’s back against a tough customer in Bryan Vasquez. It’s not an easy fight for either fighter.

Verdejo was Top Rank’s golden child a couple of years ago and ran into some personal problems before running into Lozada’s fists. Now he has Vasquez, a slick fighting Costa Rican who arguably could have won a world title had he been given the decision after fighting Raymundo Beltran two years ago. Beltran won by majority decision that night in August 2017, then proceeded to win the WBO lightweight title against Paulus Moses. That could have been Vasquez’s title.

It’s a strong boxing card.

Lights Out

Next Thursday on April 25, former middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight, cruiserweight and heavyweight world champion James “Lights Out” Toney will be the honored guest at the Golden Boy Promotions boxing card at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif.

Toney spent the last 25 years in Southern California where he first trained at the Wild Card Boxing gym in Hollywood. Over the years he became one of the most popular prizefighters by fans who loved his aggressive style and off-the-charts boxing skills. The Michigan native had more than 90 fights as a professional against some of the best to ever put on gloves.

Many boxing writers, including myself, consider Toney one of the best, if not the best prizefighter in the last 60 years. He’s beaten some of the best in the business and performed at a high level for decades in classic fights. Among the gems were his knockout wins against Michael Nunn, Tim Littles, Vassiliy Jirov, and Evander Holyfield.

Toney, 50, will be available to sign autographs and take photos with fans. Be sure to be there and meet the great multi-division champion.

One of the featured fights is Oscar Negrete (18-1-1) in a rematch against Joshua Franco (14-1-1) who fought to a draw last October. It was one of the best fights of the year. The NABF bantamweight title is the prize.

For tickets or information call (800) 827-2946.

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