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Three Punch Combo: Notes on Tevin Farmer, The BWAA Watch List and More

Matt Andrzejewski

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BWAA Watch

THREE PUNCH COMBO — Like many who love this sport, I feel there are way too many belts and too many fighters who are considered champions. In a perfect world, there would simply be one champion per weight division. The sheer number of titles per weight class can leave fans confused and waters down the meaning of being a champion.

But belts do matter in boxing. In a few instances, the number of belts available can create opportunities that deserving fighters might not otherwise receive.

Let’s take the case of Tevin Farmer. He lost his professional debut by knockout in February of 2011 and after being stopped by Jose Pedraza in October of 2012 his record fell to a pedestrian 7-4-1. Farmer seemed destined to be headed to journeyman status.

Something happened following that loss to Pedraza. Farmer (pictured in a 2016 fight against Orlando Rizo) began to put things together. The natural talent started to come out. With his record and low knockout percentage, he received opportunities as the “opponent.” He was brought in to lose but instead was flipping the script, winning these contests.

However, after a string of wins, word started to get out about Farmer and the opportunities of fighting as the “opponent” started to dry up. The management teams of the top guys in the 130- and 135-pound weight classes were not eager to throw their guys in with Farmer. A southpaw with quick feet and quick hands, he had evolved into a skilled fighter.

Farmer continued at it and took fights whenever offered. In July of 2016, Farmer had to move out of his natural weight class of 130 to take a fight at lightweight against the naturally bigger Ivan Redkach. Once a top prospect, Redkach was considered a contender at lightweight at the time. It was a high risk low reward fight for Farmer but he used all his skills to cleverly outbox Redkach to win a ten round decision.

The win was impressive but that did not mean that Farmer would automatically get a bigger fight. Again, he is a stylistic challenge to face in the ring. But he was creeping up the IBF ratings at 130. Eventually, he did get to fight for their vacant belt at 130 but would lose a controversial decision to Kenichi Ogawa. But the result would be changed to a “no contest” after Ogawa failed a post-fight drug test and Farmer would be given another opportunity to fight for the vacant IBF belt. And last Friday in Australia, Farmer defeated Billy Dib by unanimous decision to win that belt.

Without his status in the IBF rankings and without the belt at stake, Farmer never fights either Ogawa or Dib. Now with the belt, Farmer can attract names that would otherwise have no interest in facing him. One such name is WBA 130-pound champion Gervonta Davis. With no belt for Farmer, there would be little incentive for Davis to face Farmer. But with the belt, Farmer may get that fight and the nice payday that would go along with it.

Belts do matter in boxing and sometimes can create opportunities for fighters who otherwise may not have ever received such a chance.

The BWAA Watch List

This past week, The Boxing Writers Association of America announced they will post a quarterly list on their website of officials who exhibited poor performance during the previous quarter. This list is meant to hold boxing officials accountable for their actions.

I applaud the BWAA for taking this action. For years, I have been a proponent of a system for holding officials accountable and this is a positive first step. We need to weed out those who consistently do a poor job.

However, I do have a few words of caution. There are times when we have disagreements when it comes to decisions. And due to the subjectivity of boxing, disagreements are just part of the nature of the sport. But there is a difference between disagreeing with someone’s scorecard and a flat out bad scorecard.

On its first official list, the BWAA referenced the cards of two judges who scored an eight round lightweight fight in Sloan, Iowa, between Thomas Mattice and Zhora Hamazaryan in favor of Mattice. Those were unquestionably bad cards.

Four years ago, fight fans debated a decision between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Erislandy Lara that went in favor of Alvarez. The fight featured many close rounds where the subjectivity of scoring came into play. Some argued that the card of Levi Martinez who had it 117-111 in favor of Alvarez was outrageous. But with so many close rounds, there was a clear path to see how Martinez could have come up with that score.

Officials are human and do make mistakes. Just because they turn in a bad scorecard or have a bad night as a referee does not make them poor officials. We have to be careful not to dismiss officials for a bad night. What we are looking for is a pattern of poor performance.

There are certainly times we as fans may have scored a fight incorrectly; I admit I have done so myself. As a fan, I attended the Naseem Hamed-Cesar Soto featherweight title fight in Detroit in 1999. I sat ringside and scored the fight in favor of Soto. My card differed greatly from the three official judges who had it in favor of Hamed (116-108, 115-110, 114-110). The next day, I watched the tape and scored the bout much differently, favoring Hamed. The judges were correct and my scoring would have landed me on the watch list.

To this day, I don’t know what I was watching ringside that night in Detroit. Can I score a fight? I’d like to think so, but I had a bad night scoring that particular fight. And I don’t think I am alone. My point is that officials do have bad nights. Let’s keep that in mind as this list evolves.

Under The Radar

The streaming revolution is in full swing. Recently, Golden Boy Promotions and Main Events announced a partnership with Facebook to stream live fight cards. On Saturday, this series will debut with an event promoted by Golden Boy that is headlined by a featherweight title fight between Jesus Rojas (26-1-2, 19 KO’s) and Joseph Diaz (26-1, 14 KO’s).

I absolutely love this fight and think the contrast of styles should make for a very entertaining fight to kick off this series. Rojas is a pure pressure fighter and volume puncher. From the opening bell, he comes forward, looking to break the will of his opponent with constant pressure. He will abandon defense and eat punches to get inside to unload his own heavy handed shots. In his last fight, Rojas used such a relentless pressure style to break down and stop Claudio Marrero, winning an interim featherweight belt in a mild upset.

Diaz is a classic boxer-puncher. He is athletic and possesses quick hands and quick feet. Diaz will look to use movement to set up angles to land combinations. Like Rojas, Diaz is also a volume puncher and not afraid to get into exchanges.

There is no way given the styles of Rojas and Diaz that this won’t be an all-action fight. Diaz has the better skills and is more athletic. But how will he handle the constant pressure of Rojas? Plus, with both not being afraid to let their hands go, the leather will be flying. It is an interesting fight and a nice way to kick off the new streaming series on Facebook.

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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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