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Is Deontay Wilder the Real Deal?

Kelsey McCarson

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Deontay Wilder

“Excuse me, Holyfield, but I am the real deal, too.”

Deontay Wilder is a fascinating individual, so there’s never a shortage of reflection-worthy material available after his media roundtables. Whether in person or on the phone, Wilder is one of the best interviews in boxing. He speaks with such joyous emotional clarity and he self- advocates with such strong and evangelical belief that even the previously mentioned Evander Holyfield would probably have agreed to share the his “Real Deal” moniker with Wilder had the fighter not already come up with his own.

But how real is he?

Wilder, aka “The Bronze Bomber,” is set to face Tyson Fury on Dec. 1 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It’s easily the biggest and most important fight of his career, a showdown against former unified champion Fury, who some still consider to be the lineal heavyweight champion.

“This is my time to shine,” said Wilder during that same recent media teleconference in which he compared himself to Holyfield. “This is my coming-out party–somewhere I was supposed to have been a long time ago…”

Admittedly, I’ve never quite understood how Wilder’s team landed on calling him “The Bronze Bomber.” I understand that it ties Wilder to his bronze medal winning performance in the 2008 Olympics while simultaneously paying homage to another Alabama-born fighter, the immortal Joe Louis, aka “The Brown Bomber,” but Wilder’s professional aspirations have always been to be the very best heavyweight in the world.

Why forever tie him to the legacy of coming up short?

That prophecy has been a bit self-fulfilling so far. As good as Wilder has looked over his 10-year professional career, he’s never been seen by the majority of people in boxing as anything other than the third or fourth best heavyweight in the world. To his credit, Wilder seems unfazed by it, noting that those he sees as denying the truth about what he is as a professional fighter are simply coming late to the party that is already happening.

“I was born to do this,” said Wilder. “And the more and more I have fights, and the more and more I’m able to display my talent among the world, the sooner everyone will realize that I am special. I am something that’s a gift from God.”

A gift from God? That’s a bold statement, and while God’s supposed gift to the boxing world has largely gone unappreciated by the masses, it’s hard to say right now that what Wilder says isn’t true. Just because Wilder isn’t considered the best heavyweight in world, doesn’t mean he might not be someday soon.

Still, with a glossy professional boxing record of 40 wins against zero losses, and a sparkling gold and green World Boxing Council heavyweight championship belt, Wilder often ends up being ranked behind both unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and former lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury as the third best heavyweight titleholder in boxing.

Honestly, Wilder was probably even considered fourth best by some pundits until he knocked out Luis Ortiz in March, and it was only begrudgingly that they conceded that he was a better fighter than he appeared to be at first (or even many) glances.

From a certain point of view, Wilder’s boxing life to date has been entirely about exceeding expectations. No one in 2008 predicted Wilder, who had just started boxing in October 2005, would even come close to medaling at the Olympics. And many people were sure the previously undefeated Ortiz would be his undoing earlier this year, too. Or that it would be Bermane Stiverne before that. Or someone else before that.

Show of hands, please. How many believe Wilder will be thoroughly outboxed by Fury?

Perhaps many are raised because Wilder, 33, from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, looks more like an incredibly gifted natural athlete who just happens to beat people up for a living than he does an actual world class professional fighter. If you’ve seen any of Wilder’s fights, including his seven WBC title defenses, you probably understand why.

Wilder doesn’t fight like any other boxer.

Here are some examples, of which, many more could be put forth: He throws wide and looping punches like he’s never been taught proper form. He carries his hands down low like his brain has no concept of defense. He frequently remains still after throwing punches to admire his work rather than pivoting away from danger like any sane and reasonable person would do.

Wilder just looks–at least in comparison to pretty much every other heavyweight champion who ever lived–to be a different kind of fighter. To put it bluntly, he looks plain wrong.

I’m not sure it’s really Wilder’s fault. After all, most world champion boxers had that special someone in their lives who provided them with what in retrospect seems like a stroke of brilliance in bringing them to their local boxing gym early enough in their lives for it to matter. Even for the rare champion who has to wait for that special middle school bully to urge him into the fold, the common theme among pretty much all world champion boxers is that whatever road they took into boxing, that road came their way before they were 20 years old.

“I just do what I do,” said Wilder about his strange looking technique, one he’s used to win every single fight to date. I’ll say this about Wilder. All he does is win, and no amount of complaining about how it looks or why it shouldn’t work has affected him in the least.

That has to mean something.

Everyone who was first at doing anything was probably ridiculed for doing it wrong. While Wilder doesn’t fit the paradigm of how a heavyweight champion is supposed to look, how many more title defenses does Wilder have to win before people start admitting that maybe it’s the perception of him that is the flawed and not the fighter himself?

After all, Fury will be the most decorated and skilled fighter Wilder has ever faced. He’s a heavy puncher, possesses a great jab and knows how to use movement and defense to befuddle his opponents. Would beating Fury be enough to turn the tide?

It’s interesting to listen to Wilder talk about his unorthodox boxing style. Wilder, a gifted athlete with incredible power and insane speed says he’s more about function over form.

“Everybody can have some type of special ability about them, but if you can’t use your powers, then you’re useless.”

Wilder sure can use his, and that special ability he has is perhaps the single most important attribute any fighter can possess. Wilder knocks people out.

But Wilder doesn’t knock people out the way the boxing world is accustomed to seeing it done. While Fury is a fantastic boxer by traditional measures, it’s hard to see how well that traditional measure will work for him when it’s so obviously failed for every other single fighter who tried it on Wilder before.

More importantly, who does Fury bring in for sparring that can mimic what Wilder does?

“You’ll never find that, especially when they’re dealing with a fighter that’s awkward and don’t go by the textbook,” said Wilder.  “See, I never been by the textbook. My style is what it is, and I love my style. And if somebody can come and give me a challenge and beat it, my style will always remain the same because nobody can understand it. No one could figure me out, and that what’s it all about.”

We’re all so quick to judge and point our fingers at all the things we think Wilder does wrong. That’s certainly a large part of human existence, but if he’s so terrible at boxing why is he the WBC heavyweight champ? Why is he undefeated? How did he beat Ortiz?

I’m not sure Wilder really understands what he does on fight night. I am certain almost no one else does either. Neither of those things really matter.

Just because Wilder doesn’t fight like Louis or Holyfield or any other heavyweight champion who came before him is of no consequence to Wilder. And just because the rest of us who see boxing as geometry and mathematics can’t make heads or tails about how he keeps winning fights doesn’t mean we’re all right about it anyway and that Wilder’s success is wrong because it doesn’t fit our expectations about what’s right.

Things don’t have to look real to be real. The thing that makes something real, a world class boxer or anything else, lies in its realness; not in the ability of something outside of itself to perceive that it’s real.

Maybe Wilder is the real deal after all.

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Gervonta vs. Shakur: Street Fight or Boxing?

Ted Sares

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Gervonta - Davis

Gervonta “Tank” Davis — out of Baltimore — is a fan-friendly, undefeated (21-0, 20 KOs), two-time super featherweight champion. An all-action fighter, he brings the heat whenever and wherever he fights, operating like a mini-Tyson.

Shakur “Fearless” Stevenson—out of Virginia by way of Newark, NJ—won a Silver Medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics and is also undefeated as a pro (11-0, 6 KOs). In a moment of “unbridled” modesty, Floyd Mayweather Jr. called him “the next Mayweather.”

Davis (pictured) and Stevenson used to be good friends but apparently no more. The two have been feuding on twitter.

Shakur, a featherweight, has now called out Tank, saying he wants him at 130—and with his win against Christopher Diaz on the Crawford-Khan undercard, the call-out quickly becomes more meaningful and likely will reignite their twitter war.

What’s not quite clear is whether such a fight would be held in the ring or out in the street because of the many, many things they have in common, one, allegedly, is engaging in nasty street fights.

A recent and widely viewed video appears to show Stevenson, accompanied by fellow boxer David Grayton, in the middle of a parking garage brawl in Miami Beach in an incident that occurred nearly a year ago. Stevenson was in Miami Beach to celebrate his 21st birthday. It was not so much a brawl as it was a beatdown by the two boxers including a vicious kick at the end on a downed victim who already had received several flush shots to the face. A woman with the victim was also assaulted, suffering cuts and bruises. Afterwards, the two grabbed each other’s hands in a somewhat bizarre scene and fled to their hotel where they were arrested.

The video was first posted by slaterscoops.com which revealed that Stevenson and Crayton were arrested on July 1 and charged with misdemeanor battery. By the time the video came to light, the matter had quietly been resolved. Stevenson’s promoter Bob Arum seemed to have been involved in the resolution.

Here is what Arum said according to an article by Niall Doran in Boxing News: “We knew the facts and we knew that he was in a place that he shouldn’t have been at. We had a long talk with him and luckily the people around him, his grandfather who raised him, coach Kay (Koroma) who has a big influence on him and Andre Ward and James Prince who are his managers, took him aside and talked to him. It will never happen again I assure you. He is a great, great kid and he understands what his responsibilities are. He’s not a wild kid and he’s going to be fine. I’m very comfortable with how he’s being raised.”

Let’s hope Arum is correct.

Gervonta Davis

On August 1, 2017, an arrest warrant was issued for Gervonta Davis for an alleged assault. The charge was later reduced from first-degree aggravated assault to misdemeanor second-degree assault.

At the court, Anthony Wheeler, a long-time friend of Gervonta, complained that he was diagnosed with a concussion after Davis punched him on the side of the head with a ‘gloved fist.’ Wheeler subsequently dropped the charges. The Baltimore Sun reported that Tank and Wheeler both shook hands, embraced, and walked out of the courtroom together. All’s Well That Ends Well.

But there’s more.

According to TMZ, Davis was arrested in Washington, DC, in the early morning of Sept. 14, 2018, and charged with disorderly conduct after a dispute over a $10,000 bar bill. And then on February 17 of this year, according to TMZ and other sources, Davis was involved in an incident that began inside an upscale shopping mall in Virginia.

As things heated up, Tank and the other man took it to the streets and engaged in a fistfight with closed-fist punches being landed around the upper body. As people tried to break it up, both men fled but the police arrived and arrested them for disorderly conduct. They were booked and processed at a nearby station. Ten days after the incident, a warrant was issued for Davis’s arrest.

Leonard Ellerbe of Mayweather Promotions, which promotes Davis, told ESPN “We’ll let the judicial system play out….Obviously, this is just an allegation…Again, it just seems odd to me that a black man, allegedly, pushes or shoves — and I’m just reading what the TMZ article says — a police officer and he doesn’t get arrested on the spot, then a couple of weeks later, then they issue an arrest warrant based on their internal investigation. That just seems a little odd to me.”

The police reportedly made numerous attempts to contact Davis by telephone to serve the warrant but received no response.

Tank recently tweeted “Lies lies lies” (9:16 AM – 5 Mar 2019).

The case is still ongoing. Gervonta could well be exonerated and hopefully he will be, but these incidents, whether expunged, dismissed or dropped, are not good for boxing. The recent birth of a daughter seems to have grounded Tank and his recent tweet to wit: LOVE IS LOVE is not the tweet of someone who is in the wrong lane.

Let’s wrap this up with a quite from Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza: “I think the sky is the limit for Gervonta Davis…You put those two elements together — the likability and charisma outside the ring and the entertainment value inside the ring — and he has the potential, if he stays on this track, to be one of the biggest names in the sport.”

Ted Sares is a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). He is an active power lifter and Strongman competitor in the Grand Master class and is competing in 2019.

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Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia Wins in LA (is Manny Next?) and Undercard Results

David A. Avila

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Garcia

CARSON, Calif.-Former two division champion Danny “Swift” Garcia had too much firepower for Adrian Granados and simply overwhelmed the gritty fighter from Chicago before winning by knockout on Saturday.

No world title was at stake but future prizes were.

Philly fighter Garcia (35-2, 21 KOs) had predicted he would mow through Granados (20-7-2) who was moving up in weight again for this fight and was just too heavy handed before a crowd of more than 6,000 at the Dignity Health Sports Park. The PBC card was televised by FOX.

After a casual exchange of punches in the first round Garcia started bringing the thunder in the second round and connected with a double left hook to the body and a left hook to the head of Granados. The blows resounded throughout the arena and drew oohs from the crowd. Then Garcia caught Granados with a counter left hook that sent Granados sprawling across the ring. He got up and beat the count. Another exchange saw Garcia land a counter right cross and down went the Chicago fighter. He beat the count again but looked hurt. He survived the end of the round.

Garcia stalked Granados who moved more cautiously for the next two rounds but was still catching rights.

In the fifth round a straight right floored Granados while he was against the ropes. He survived the round again.

Granados tried every move he could think to change the momentum but nothing seemed to work. In the sixth both fought inside but Garcia soon began pummeling Granados with the referee looking closely. He allowed the fight to continue into the seventh round but checked with the corner twice.

With the crowd murmuring, Garcia gave chase to Granados and caught him near the ropes with a lead right and another right before unleashing a four-punch barrage. Referee Tom Taylor jumped in and stopped the beating at 1:33 of the seventh round to give Garcia the win by knockout.

Philadelphia’s Garcia had won in Southern California once again. He had beaten Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero by decision three years ago in Los Angeles.

“This is what makes Danny Garcia one of the best fighters in the world,” said Garcia. “I had to be the first man to stop him and I did that today.”

The win puts Garcia as a strong candidate to face multi-divisional world champion Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao who now holds the WBO welterweight world title.

“I hope I didn’t scare him away. Frankly I would love that fight or Keith Thurman or Errol Spence,” Garcia said.

Other Bouts

Brandon Figueroa (19-0) of Texas rumbled to a knockout win over Venezuela’s Yonfrez Parejo (22-4-1) to win the interim WBA super bantamweight title. The battle was fought mostly inside, forehead to forehead, but surprisingly, neither fighter suffered cuts from butts.

Figueroa and Parejo slugged it out inside until the sixth round when Parejo took the fight outside and scored well from distance. But Figueroa kept hunting him down and digging to the body and head. Finally, in the eighth round Figueroa began catching the moving Parejo with digging shots that seemed to affect the Venezuelan boxer. At the end of the round Parejo signaled he had enough.

Figueroa was deemed the winner by knockout.

“Honestly I thought I was going to finish him the next round,” said Figueroa.

California’s Andy “the Destroyer” Ruiz (32-1) won by knockout over Germany’s much taller Alexander Dimitrenko (41-5) in a heavyweight fight set for 10 rounds. Despite the size disparity Ruiz was the aggressor throughout and attacked the body with punishing blows. In the third round Ruiz almost ended the fight when Dimitrenko was severely hurt. After the end of the fifth round Dimitrenko’s cornered signaled the fight was over and referee Ray Corona waved it off. Ruiz wins by knockout as the crowd cheered loudly.

Ruiz was recently signed by PBC and may have found a home more suited for his weight division. It was his first fight under the PBC banner.

“I’m ready for the next one, I kind of seen that coming,” said Ruiz who admitted to eating a Snickers for energy. “The game plan was dropping the body down.”

Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo (25-7, 21 KOs) used the trusty knockout to win for the first time in four years. The victim was Evert Bravo (24-10-1) a super middleweight from Colombia who had his own losing streak like Angulo.

Both punished each other with hard combinations the first round, but in the second frame Angulo found his rhythm and fired a barrage of blows that left Bravo slumped along the ropes. Referee Rudy Barragan stopped the fight at 1:23 of the second round to give Angulo his first victory since he defeated Hector Munoz at the Staples Center on August 2015. He now trains with Abel Sanchez in Big Bear.

“I found a good coach,” said Angulo.

More than 1,000 fans remained to see Angulo perform long after the Garcia-Granado’s main event. He’s still a draw, especially in Southern California.

Former US Olympian Carlos Balderas (8-0, 7 KOs) stopped Luis May (21-14-1) with a barrage of blows in the fourth round of their lightweight clash. Balderas knocked down May several times but the crafty May used every means to survive including multiple low blows. Finally, at 1:07 of round four, Balderas unleashed several blows that saw May go down and a towel was thrown from his corner. Referee Ray Corona stopped the fight.

Fontana, California’s Raymond Muratalla (7-0) floored Mexico’s Jose Cen Torres (13-12) three times in the third round to win by knockout at 2:58 of the round in a super lightweight bout. Muratalla dropped Torres with a short right uppercut for the first knockdown. A right to the body sent Torres down a second time. A double right cross delivered Torres down a final time as referee Ray Corona immediately stopped the fight.

Las Vegas fighter Rolando Romero (9-0, 8 KOs) knocked out Colombia’s Andres Figueroa (9-5, 5 KOs) with a left hook during an exchange of blows at 1:27 of the fourth round in their lightweight scrap. Figueroa landed with a thud and was unconscious for several minutes and sent to the hospital.

Denver’s Shon Mondragon (2-0) battered Mexico’s Hugo Rodriguez (0-4) in the third round forcing referee Eddie Hernandez to end the fight at 1:55 of round three in a super bantamweight match.

Nelson Hampton (5-2) of Texas beat Phillip Bounds (0-3) by decision after lightweight fight.

Other winners were Jeison Rosario by split decision over Jorge Cota in a super welterweight fight. Omar Juarez beat Dwayne Bonds by decision in a super lightweight bout. Featherweights Ricky Lopez and Joe Perez fought to a draw after 10 rounds.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Fast Results From NYC: Crawford TKOs Khan but not Without Controversy

Arne K. Lang

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Crawford vs Khan

Amir Khan, who doesn’t shy away from tough assignments, was in New York tonight opposing WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford, a man who is on everyone’s short list of boxing’s top pound-for-pound fighters. The general assumption was that Khan had the slickness to win a few rounds but that his chin would ultimately betray him.

Khan won one round at the most — and that’s being generous – before the bout was stopped after 47 seconds of the sixth frame with Khan in pain from a low blow. Referee David Fields stopped the action to allow Khan to recover and then stopped the fight on the advice of the ring doctor with the apparent encouragement of Khan’s trainer Virgil Hunter. Because the low blow was accidental, Crawford was declared the winner by TKO.

It appeared that this fight would end in a hurry. In the opening round, Crawford decked Khan with an overhand right. Khan got to his feet but was in distress and for a moment it didn’t appear that he would last out the round. But Crawford did not press his advantage in round two and Khan regained his composure.

Crawford was in complete control when the fight ended, having raked Khan with combinations and a series of body punches in the fourth and fifth stanzas. Although the final punch of the fight was way south of the border, Khan’s refusal to continue was widely seen as an act of surrender. After the bout, Crawford called out Errol Spence.

PPV Undercard

Lightweight Teofimo Lopez, whose highlight reel knockouts and brash demeanor have made him arguably the most exciting young prospect in boxing, found a new way to conclude a fight tonight, collapsing Edis Tatli in the fifth round with a body punch. Lopez, who was born in Brooklyn and raised in a suburb of Miami (his parents are from Honduras and Spain), improved to 13-0 with his 11th knockout. Tatli, a Kosovo-born Finn making his U.S. debut, suffered his third loss in 34 starts. A two-time European lightweight champion, Tatli hadn’t previously been stopped.

Fast rising featherweight contender Shakur Stevenson, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Newark, simply outclassed former world title challenger Christopher Diaz, winning the 10-round bout on scores of 100-90, 99-91, and 98-82. The 21-year-old southpaw, now 11-0, was too fast and too busy for his Puerto Rican adversary who fell to 24-2.

In the first of the four PPV bouts, lightweight Felix Verdejo won a unanimous 10-round decision over Bryan Vasquez. Verdejo, a 2012 Olympian for Puerto Rico once touted as the island’s next Felix Trinidad, was returning to the site where he suffered his lone defeat, succumbing to heavy underdog Antonio Lozada whose unrelenting aggression ultimately wore him down, resulting in a 10th round stoppage.

Vasquez appeared to injure his left shoulder near the midpoint of the battle, an advantage to Verdejo, now 25-1, who started slowly but outworked Vasquez down the stretch, winning by scores of 98-92 and 97-93 twice. Costa Rica’s Vasquez, the husband of prominent boxer Hanna Gabriels, falls to 37-4.

Other Bouts

 Super welterweight Carlos Adames, who hails from the Dominican Republic but has been training with Robert Garcia in Riverside, California, made a strong impression with a 4th round stoppage of Brooklyn’s Frank Galarza. The undefeated Adames, now 17-0 (14 KOs), knocked Galarza (20-3-2) to the canvas with a hard left hook and then went for the kill, pinning Galarza against the ropes with a series of unanswered punches that compelled referee Benjy Estevez to intervene. The official time was 1:07.

 Super welterweight Edgar Berlanga, a 21-year-old New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent, needed only 46 seconds to dismiss 38-year-old Brazilian trail horse Samir dos Santos. Berlanga, who began his pro career in Mexico, has now knocked out all 10 of his opponents in the opening round.

Super welterweight Vikas Krishan, a two-time Olympian, improved to 2-0 with a 6-round unanimous decision over Noah Kidd (3-2-1). The scores were 59-55 and 60-54 twice.

A 27-year-old southpaw who as a job waiting for him as a police officer, Krishan is the second notable boxer to emerge from India, following on the footsteps of Top Rank stablemate Vijender Singh.

Bantamweight Lawrence Newton, a Floridian who has been training at Terence Crawford’s gym in Omaha, won his 12th straight without a loss with a 6-round unanimous decision over Jonathan Garza (7-3). The scores were 60-54 and 59-55 twice.

In a 6-round junior welterweight match that was one-sided but yet entertaining, Lawrence Fryers won a unanimous decision over Dakota Polley. Fryers, wh is from Ireland but resides in New York, improved to 10-1. The 20-year-old Polley, from St. Joseph, Missouri, fell to 5-3.

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