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Eleider Alvarez Knew When to Go to the ‘McIntosh’ to Shock Kovalev

Bernard Fernandez

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McIntosh

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Until late Saturday night, most people probably knew McIntosh as the Binghampton, N.Y.-based manufacturer of high-end audio equipment. After underdog Eleider Alvarez’s no-doubt-about-it, seventh-round knockout of WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, however, it might also stand for the concussive sound of punches to the jaw, as loud and unmistakable as the riffs of the late, great Keith Moon, the wild ’n’ crazy drummer who helped make The Who one of the best rock bands ever to take the stage.

References to musicians, like Moon, who flashed across the night sky like comets and then vanished into the memories of  their fans seem especially appropriate given the venue for Kovalev-Alvarez, the first fight card held at the newly refurbished Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the former Trump Taj Mahal which shone like a diamond after a $500 million transformation. Gone are the massive chandeliers and India-themed accoutrements that marked its previous incarnation; in are electric guitars and drum kits used by a phalanx of Grammy Award winners who topped the charts for however long they were able to keep their sound fresh and in demand, and their bodies capable of holding up to the demands of a relentless, wearying lifestyle.

After he was sent crashing to the canvas three times in that fateful seventh round, the possibility now appears to be very real that the 35-year-old Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs) may have run out of the kind of smash hits he used to deliver instead of taking. The “Krusher” from Russia now has lost three of his five most recent bouts, including stoppages by Andre Ward and Alvarez, a career slump marked by an alarming tendency to lose energy and power into the middle rounds.

“I think Sergey tends to run out of gas after six rounds,” said Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, Kovalev’s promoter. “That seemed to be the magic round with Ward, too. He did great for six rounds and then faltered. I assume he got tired.”

Although Kovalev has a rematch clause that he and his support team could enforce sooner rather than later, Duva hinted that their guy might be better served to take some time off to consider his options. That could open the door for Colombia-born, Montreal-based Alvarez – finally a star, if only temporarily – to proceed to a unification showdown with another Russian, Dmitry Bivol (14-0, 11 KOs), who retained his WBA 175-pound title with a workmanlike unanimous decision over Isaac Chilemba (25-6-2, 10 KOs) in the first half of the HBO-televised doubleheader. Other holders of alphabet light heavyweight straps are the WBC’s Adonis Stevenson (29-1-1, 24 KOs) and still another Russian, the IBF’s Artur Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs).

For his part, Bivol expressed disappointment that countryman Kovalev, a 1-to-6 favorite in Atlantic City’s newly opened sports books, had lost, and not just for reasons of nationalistic pride.

“My team had negotiations regarding Kovalev being my next fight, to unify the championship,” Bivol noted. “Sergey was a great champion. It’s unfortunate that he lost the title, but I would want the same opportunity to have a unification in December as discussed. If it’s Alvarez, I would be happy to fight Alvarez.”

Alvarez also would be happy to fight someone, anyone, for a unified title, although he doesn’t expect it to be Stevenson, for whom he somehow was the mandatory challenger for three years without ever getting a shot at the brass ring. It’s no wonder he and his advisers fairly jumped at the chance to get it on with Kovalev, who, if what they say is to be believed, appeared to be increasingly vulnerable for the same reasons that had worried Duva.

“We saw a couple of things, not only in the Ward fights but in other Kovalev fights,” said Alvarez’s trainer, Marc Ramsay. “We knew at the beginning of the fight that Kovalev was going to be dangerous. But we were ready to let some rounds go because our game plan was to bring Kovalev into the second part of the fight and go a little more physically with him. It worked.”

Through the mid-point of the scheduled 12-rounder, the Alvarez plan – the key component of which was the strategic deployment of a combination Ramsay had dubbed “the McIntosh” – probably seemed successful only in the minds of fighter and trainer. Kovalev was up on all three official scorecards, 59-55 on those submitted by Joseph Pasquale and Lynne Carter and 58-56 on Carlos Ortiz Jr.’s, and he had a big round in the fourth, when he landed 25 of 60 non-jabs (power punches) according to CompuBox. But, as Ramsay had anticipated, even then Kovalev’s vaunted arsenal was being downgraded to small-arms fire.

“I knew it would be a tough fight, and it was a tough fight,” Alvarez said. “But the game plan was working exactly as we wanted it to. After the sixth round, Marc told me to fight Kovalev on the inside. He saw that Kovalev didn’t have the same power as in the beginning of the fight. I threw a certain combination we call `the McIntosh’ and that was the end of the fight.

According to Ramsay, the so-called McIntosh is not really a secret, previously unused weapon he had Alvarez pull out of his trick bag. “The `McIntosh’ comes from a fight where Eleider knocked (he didn’t specify the opponent) out a couple of years ago,” he said. “it’s a jab to the body and a right hand over the top.”

So why “McIntosh”? Why not “Apple” or “Microsoft”?

“If I say `McIntosh,’ the other guy has no idea what I’m talking about,” Ramsay explained.

In the corner prior to round seven, Ramsay told Alvarez to put the full Mac on a presumably wilting Kovalev, who had fired most of his remaining bullets in the fourth round that hadn’t resulted in the knockout he so clearly was seeking.

“I tried it a lot, but I told Marc I needed one more time,” Alvarez said of the combo that will be the talk of boxing until, well, it isn’t. “I wanted to knock him out (after the first knockdown, which clearly had deposited Kovalev into the danger zone) because he might be too tough afterward. I knew that he was hurt and I went for the kill.”

Referee David Fields would have been justified had he waved the fight off after Kovalev went down a second time, arising on legs as shaky as those of a newborn fawn, but he allowed the champion one more opportunity to fight his way out of deepening trouble. Alvarez did not let him off the hook, once more McIntoshing Kovalev into a horizontal plane as emphatically as possible. The end came after an elapsed time of 2 minutes, 45 seconds.

Should Kovalev have reached the end of his heady run as a top 10 pound-for-pound kind of fighter, the more compelling question might be whether Alvarez is ready to try on his vanquished foe’s shoes to see if they’re a comfortable fit. He wouldn’t be the first fighter of fairly recent vintage to become an overnight sensation; think Thailand’s Srisasket Sor Rungvisai, the junior bantamweight who burst into instant prominence as the result of back-to-back victories over Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. For those who care to reach further back in history, remember that James Toney was a 20-1 underdog and was far behind on points when he dethroned IBF middleweight champion James Toney with the sort of late explosion that Alvarez laid on Kovalev. But for every fighter who legitimizes himself with the sort of exclamation-point victory that Alvarez is now enjoying, there are others who rose to the occasion and just as quickly slipped from prominence.

“It was a great performance by Eleider. Tonight a star was born,” said Yvon Michel, who promotes Alvarez. “I said beforehand that after this fight, you all will know who Eleider is.

“We always said the fight will be decided the way that Eleider laid the trap for the punches that would ensnare Kovalev.”

So salute “The McIntosh,” the fight game’s flavor of the moment. Salute, too, the 34-year-old Alvarez, who waited and waited for a chance to demonstrate to the world that he really is what he always has claimed to be, which is a fighter whose light too long has been hidden under a basket of anonymity.

Also deserving of plaudits are the Hard Rock, which sold all 5,600 of its seats in the Etess Arena in a glorious return not only to the venue, but to Atlantic City, which might soon be enjoying its own rebirth as a destination fight town after long years of neglect.

“We’re back,” a saddened Duva said, looking for positives in a night that didn’t have many for Team Kovalev. “The city’s back. From that aspect we had a wonderful night.”

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Odds Review for Friday’s Boxing on Telemundo

Miguel Iturrate

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boxing odds
South Florida promoter Tuto Zabala Jr has a seven fight card planned for the Osceola Heritage Center in Kissimmee this Friday, February 22nd that sees three undefeated prospects headline the show. For more than two decades, Zabala Jr has promoted the sport in Mexico and Florida and Friday’s event will air on Spanish language Telemundo in the United States, so check your local listings for start times.
A pair of ten round bouts hold the main event spots as undefeated Yomar Alamo faces veteran Manuel Mendez at welterweight and likewise unbeaten Carlos Monroe takes on Jonathan Tavira in a middleweight bout.
The 23 year old Alamo is from fight hungry Puerto Rico and he is considered a key piece to promoter Zabala Jr’s plans to run shows back on the island. The 28 year old Mendez once carried the ‘prospect’ label as well but Mendez is 1-3-1 in his last five fights. The experience of being in there with the likes of Sonny Fredrickson (19-1) and undefeated Johnathan Navarro (15-0) will make him Alamo’s toughest test to date. The welterweight division is crowded and Alamo is going to need to keep winning beyond Friday to get noticed, but he already banks on the fervent support of his “boriqua” crowd. Promoter Zabala Jr may be wondering if matchmaker Ruben DeJesus picked the right guy in Mendez. Alamo’s record in Puerto Rico looks to have a good bit of fluff. He didn’t face an opponent with a single pro win until his seventh fight. He faced 40 year old vet Edwin Lopez in 2016, but Lopez hurt his hand in the first round and could not continue, so Alamo is largely untested.
Middleweight prospect Carlos Monroe looks to go 12-0 as he steps in to his first bout scheduled for ten rounds. Veteran Jonathan Tavira provides the opposition for the 24 year old Monroe, who turned pro in December of 2017 and notched 10 fights in calendar year 2018. Monroe has been brought along carefully, as the combined record of his 11 opponents stands at 46-98-8. Tavira has been in there with the likes of Arif Magomedov, Dario Bredicean and Esquiva Falcao, all undefeated fighters on the way up. Tavira hits hard but he has been stopped five times in his six losses, so look for Monroe to improve on his eight KOs to date.
2016 U.S. Olympian Antonio Vargas looks to improve to 10-0 in an eight round bantamweight bout against Lucas Rafael Baez (34-17-5). Vargas was originally scheduled to take on Wilner Soto, a veteran with a 21-5 record and he was a big favorite in that match-up.
Below are the current lines as we start off fight week.
Fri 2/22 – Osceola Heritage Center – Kissimmee, Florida
Welterweight 10 rounds –
Manuel Mendez(16-4-1) +160
Yomar Alamo(15-0)         -210
Middleweight 10 rounds –
Jonathan Tavira (17-6)            +550
Carlos Monroe (11-0)             -1050
Bantamweight 8 rounds –
Lucas Rafael Baez        +1150
Antonio Vargas            -2450
(Opponent change for Vargas, line should be similar for new opponent Lucas Rafael Baez)

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Blake Caparello Looks To Grab WBA Regional Belt This Friday

Miguel Iturrate

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Caparello
This Friday night in Australia, light heavyweight contender Blake Caparello returns to action as he faces youngster Reagan Dessaix for the WBA’s Oceania title in the main event of a planned six fight card at The Melbourne Pavilion.
Dessaix currently holds the belt that Caparello held back in 2017, and the 22-year-old is hoping a win on Friday will put him on the international radar. It is where Caparello, who enters this fight as a 32-year-old, has been and hopes to get to again.
Those are the basics of Friday’s main event, the youngster Dessaix making a significant leap in competition level as he looks to get ranked internationally, while the veteran Caparello is hopeful a win will propel him closer to another world title shot.
Caparello laid claim to the IBO’s world title at 175 pounds back in October of 2013 when he won a comfortable unanimous decision over veteran Allan Green. Caparello, who was 17-0-1 at the time of the Green fight, went on to an introductory fight in the United States, and a win there saw him earn an August of 2014 title shot against WBO champion Sergey Kovalev.
Caparello has to feel he was close to a world title as he had the feared Kovalev down in round one before the “Krusher” took him out in round two. Since then, he has fought Isaac Chilemba and Andre Dirrell, extending both ranked veterans the full fight distance. The March of 2018 loss to Chilemba was for the WBC’s world title, and Caparello managed to go 2-0 the rest of the calendar year.
Green, Kovalev, Dirrell and Chilemba. The bottom line is that Dessaix had a solid amateur career in Australia, but there is no one with resumes like the men Caparello has faced when asked to step onto the world scene.
The WBA’s current world champion is Dmitry Bivol (15-0), who is making the fourth defense of his title in March against hard hitting Joe Smith Jr. The veteran Caparello could mount a case for a mandatory shot against either man with a win on Friday, while Dessaix would likely have to keep fighting and winning before earning a shot at a world title.
The co-feature bout is for the Australian title at 154 pounds and sees 31 year old Billy Klimov facing Joel Camilleri. Camilleri is favored as he has had a lot more professional experience than Limov, who turned professional at 29 years old. Strictly regional stuff here.
Both fights have lines at some of the sportsbooks. Check out the numbers as they were at the start of fight week below.
Fri 2/22 – The Melbourne Pavilion – Victoria, Australia
WBA Oceania Title
Light Heavyweight 10 rounds –
Reagan Dessaix(16-1)         +255
Blake Caparello (28-3-1)    -365
Australian Title
Super Welterweight 10 rounds –
Billy Limov (4-0-1)     +200
Joel Camilleri(16-5-1) -280
Check out the link for the live event right here. http://www.epicentre.tv/events/blake-caparello-v-reagan-dessaix/

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Will Fury’s Deal With ESPN Torpedo The Fights That Fight Fans Want to See?

Arne K. Lang

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Fury's deal with ESPN

For the past few weeks, boxing fans have been led to believe that the rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder was ever so-close to being a done deal. But in the world of professional boxing where Machiavellian characters seemingly hold all the positions of power, nothing is ever a done deal until it’s finally finalized. Today’s announcement that Tyson Fury has signed with ESPN is the latest case in point. It’s a three-fight deal that will reportedly earn the Gypsy King $80 million if he can successfully hurdle the first two legs.

As Thomas Hauser has noted, what we have in boxing today is something similar to leagues in other sports. There’s the Top Rank/ESPN League, the Matchroom/DAZN League, and the PBC/Showtime/FOX League. We would add that these are intramural leagues. Occasionally there’s cross-pollination, similar to when the Yankees play the Mets in a game that counts in the regular season standings, but basically the boxers in each league compete against each other.

We have no doubt that WBC/WBA/IBF heavyweight ruler Anthony Joshua will eventually fight Wilder and/or Fury, but it now appears that these matches, when they transpire, will have marinated beyond the sell date. The action inside the ring may mirror the Mayweather-Pacquiao dud.

A match between Joshua and Wilder is already somewhat less enticing than it would have been if it had come to fruition last autumn. The odds lengthened in favor of Joshua after Wilder’s raggedy performance against Tyson Fury on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles.

True, the Bronze Bomber almost pulled the fight out of the fire with a thunderous punch but he was out-slicked in most of the rounds and it wasn’t as if he was fighting a bigger version of Pernell Whitaker. Before that fight, casual fans were less tuned-in to Deontay Wilder’s limitations.

It was reported that the Wilder-Fury rematch was headed to Las Vegas or New York, but that Las Vegas fell out of the running when the State Athletic Commission insisted on using Nevada officials. Fury was the one that balked.

In hindsight we should have seen that this was fake news. No Nevada officials were involved in Fury-Wilder I. The judges were from California, Canada, and Great Britain. The California judge voted against Fury, scoring the fight 115-111, a tally for which he was excoriated. The judge from Great Britain, like many ringside reporters, had it draw. The TV crews, especially the crew from Great Britain, left no doubt that Fury should have had his hand raised and the controversy made the hoped-for rematch more alluring.

So who will be Tyson Fury’s next opponent? Speculation immediately centered on Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev.

Pulev, who turns 38 of May 4, sports a 26-1 record. He was slated to fight Anthony Joshua in October of 2017 but suffered a torn biceps in training and was forced to withdraw. In his most recent bout he outpointed Hughie Fury, Tyson’s cousin. He’s currently ranked #1 by the IBF.

On Dec. 8 of last year, Bob Arum announced that he had hammered out a deal to co-promote Pulev. It was subsequently reported that Pulev’s first fight under the Top Rank/ESPN umbrella would be against Finland’s Robert Helenius on March 23 in Los Angeles. Six days ago, the distinguished European fight writer Per Ake Persson told his readers that the fight had fallen out, ostensibly because the parties could not come to terms.

Tyson Fury is the most charismatic white heavyweight to come down the pike since Gerry Cooney and the big galoot is bigger than Cooney ever was as he has avid followers on both sides of the Atlantic and Cooney didn’t have social media to enhance his profile. I have little doubt that ESPN will recoup their investment in him. However, deals in boxing are never consummated with an eye on uplifting the sport – on patching things up with the disaffected – and here’s yet another example.

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