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Dmitry Bivol in Atlantic City: He got the “W” But Didn’t Wow Anyone

Frank Lotierzo

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Dmitry Bivol

This past weekend at the Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City, WBA light heavyweight title holder Dmitry Bivol 14-0 (11) defended his title against former title challenger Isaac Chilemba 25-6-2 (10). Chilemba had faced and lost to most of the current elite light heavyweights in the world going into the Bivol fight. In addition to an early career loss on points, Chilemba lost by decision to Tony Bellew, current WBO title holder Eleider Alvarez, Sergey Kovalev, the former two time champ, and emerging contender Oleksandr Gvozdyk, with Gvozdyk being the only one to stop him.

In boxing sometimes perception and the eye test carry as much weight as the actual result. Bivol knew going in that his fight, by virtue of being tagged to the Kovalev-Alvarez title clash, would be viewed by many on HBO. Being a young pro and a new title holder, Dmitry knew it would make a big statement if he was more impressive beating Chilemba than were Bellew, Alvarez, Kovalev and Gvozdyk. And if he could stop Chilemba inside the distance his bragging rights would really escalate.

Bivol is widely perceived as a fighter with enormous ability and perhaps the future of the division. However, having sat ringside and watching him work for the 12 rounds he and Chilemba shared the same ring, it’s impossible not to become a prisoner of the moment and the bottom line is that Bivol didn’t have a good night; he underperformed. That runs contradictory to the lopsided scorecards as two of the judges had him winning every round, tabulating it 120-108, with the other seeing it 116-112 (as I did) which translates to eight rounds to four.

I never saw him fight as if he were being handcuffed, but he seldom put more than three punches together in succession. For the first seven rounds Bivol mostly backed up Chilemba with quick jabs that set up his favorite combination of jab, cross and hook, with the hook going to the body sometimes. As long as Chilemba was waiting on and trying to react to Bivol, he continued to finish second in a two-man event. This changed starting in the eighth round when Chilemba, instead of trying to react to the faster Bivol, smartly took the initiative and began to step towards Bivol, thus forcing him to react or reset, and with Bivol’s role reversed, Chilemba began to score and quell Bivol’s offense.

During the last four rounds of the bout Bivol was rewarded on two of the three scorecards for just being there and coasting. Chilemba was the fighter forcing the action and pressuring Bivol to go back and only flurry in spots. When he did, his combinations were grazing shots with only one punch landing clean, but he was also hit on the way out after he got off. And the other thing that was part and parcel of Bivol’s offense was missing – and that was his tendency to answer his opponent’s meaningful punches with his own. There were countless times during the second half of the fight in which Chilemba let his hands go and Bivol just moved away without answering a single punch.

As the fight progressed, I was waiting for Bivol to open up and impress, especially against an opponent who lacked the firepower to hurt him. What stood out in the bout was Bivol’s quicker hands and his most successful punch, which was his lead left hook to the head that made a whacking sound every time it landed. Granted, Bivol clearly deserved the decision, but to score it a shutout means he was rewarded points for his flashier style and presence more so than for what he actually did. But when Chilemba started to push the fight more, Dmitry was rendered less effective if you paid close attention.

Sure, Bivol is still a fighter to look out for and may one day be considered the top of the light heavyweight food chain. But he didn’t have a stellar night against Chilemba and during the second half of the bout, when Isaac changed tactics, Bivol looked like just an ordinary fighter with quick hands. And those sitting close to me were mostly in agreement, expecting more from him against the 10-1 underdog. That said, Bivol is already 2-0 in title fights after only 14 pro bouts. Based on his dedication and want to get better, he will improve and we haven’t yet seen the finished product. But while Bivol is solid, it’s not a given that he’s the future of the division and his weak finish vs Chilemba wasn’t too enthralling.

The other thing that I’ve picked up since the fight is the difference in perception between those who were there compared to those who watched it on HBO. Those in attendance seemed disappointed and saw the fight more competitive than those who saw it on TV.

That’s nothing new to boxing because you can actually see a fight better on television than you can by being there. On TV there are no obstructions and you’re closer to the fighters. All I can say is, having been there, that Bivol looked like a fighter warming up to really come on but never did (and in Chilemba’s defense he certainly wasn’t shut out). Prior to the fight most expected Bivol to get the stoppage and set himself apart from the rest of the field. If Chilemba were only fighting to survive, that would’ve made it more difficult, but that wasn’t the case.

Dmitry Bivol has a lot to work with physically and in hearing him interviewed he says all the right things you want to hear from a young fighter who hasn’t yet hit his peak. The one thing I’d take into account for the near future in matching him is to keep him away from fighters who have the strength and ability to force him to go back and fight in retreat. If he has an Achilles heel, that’s it.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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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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