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The Avila Perspective Chap. 22, Rare Heavyweight Rumble in L.A. and More

David A. Avila

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Fury vs Wilder

Southern California has long been a bastion for prizefighting since the beginning of the modern boxing era in the 1880s.

Yet, very few heavyweight world title fights have taken place in Los Angeles or the surrounding areas. Though the state of California stages more prizefights than any other place in the world, it’s been over four years since the big guys fought for a world title in the city of Angels. Less than a dozen heavyweight world title fights have ever taken place in greater Los Angeles.

WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) looks to snap that streak when he fights Tyson Fury (27-0, 17 KOs) at the Staples Center in the heart of downtown Los Angeles on Saturday Dec. 1. Showtime pay-per-view will televise.

“Heavyweight boxing is so exciting at this point in time; it’s on fire and I’m just so excited to be a part of the movement and I’m proud to be a part of this heavyweight division and be at the top of the podium as one of the kings of the division,” said Wilder.

It’s always amazing to see two large heavyweights exchanging blows in a boxing ring. Especially two gargantuan sized fellows with wingspans the size of a small Cessna. The boxing ring looks tiny when they’re inside.

Nothing seems to bring out the glitterati more than a heavyweight world title fight. I’ve seen more movie stars and entertainment celebrities at a heavyweight championship fight than at a baseball World Series game. The only thing that comes close would be an NBA championship game but that was long ago when Kobe Bryant sprinted on the courts for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Come to think of it, maybe it’s due to their triple X size.

The last heavyweight title fight in Los Angeles took place in May 2014 when Bermane Stiverne stopped Chris Arreola in the sixth round at the Galen Center across the street from USC. The late great Dan Goossen promoted that fight. A few months later the popular promoter would pass away from cancer. God rest his soul.

Goossen always wanted a heavyweight champion. We spoke many times on the subject of heavyweights. Even his son Craig Goossen would mention their dream of having a heavyweight world champion. It’s something he wanted for his dad. That goal was never reached sad to say.

Heavyweight fog

Back in the 70s the axiom was if you had the heavyweight world champion you controlled boxing. It changed when the IBF formed in 1984 with Larry Holmes its first champion and later the WBO formed and developed their own champions too. It confused fans and muddled the heavyweight landscape with too many champions.

Mike Tyson temporarily fixed that by annihilating everyone who dared claim to be a heavyweight world champion in the late 1980s. Through brutal methods he unified the heavyweight world championship and later it was passed to Evander Holyfield, then Lennox Lewis who added the IBO title to the ensemble in 1999.

The advent of the 21st century brought heavyweight disarray. But one thing that kept everything in order was the realization that if you checked the lineage of the heavyweight championship from fighter to fighter you could get trace the actual champion. It was something that boxing writers brought to the sport and it’s a primary reason journalists are important to prizefighting. The Ring magazine had a lot to do with connecting the dots of the actual passing of the heavyweight title from man to man.

That’s how we arrived to the fact that England’s Tyson Fury is a descendant of the first heavyweight world champion of the modern boxing era John L. Sullivan. Fury is the lineal holder of the title and Wilder has one of the more credible titles in the WBC belt. The winner can truly be called the heavyweight world champion of the world or as Mike Tyson once said “the baddest man on the planet.”

When Fury and Wilder meet it definitely clears up the heavyweight situation and determines the actual and true world champion. Apologies to Anthony Joshua.

“I’m the baddest man on the planet,” said Wilder recently, echoing Mike Tyson’s claim of long ago.

Looking back

Despite the rarity of heavyweight world title fights in Los Angeles there have been a few of significance.

Nobody living saw the first heavyweight world title fight in Los Angeles back on February 1906 when Tommy Burns beat Marvin Hart by decision after 20 rounds. Burns then defeated Fireman Jim Flynn on October 1906 and drew against Philadelphia Jack O’Brien on November 1906 and then defeated O’Brien in May 1907. All of those heavyweight defenses took place in Los Angeles.

The world did not see another heavyweight world title fight until 1939 when Joe Louis knocked out Jack Roper in the first round at Wrigley Field in South Los Angeles and did not see another for nearly 20 years until Floyd Patterson defended against Roy Harris at the same Wrigley Field in L.A. in 1958.

Heavyweights just didn’t make a habit of fighting in Los Angeles.

In 1973, Muhammad Ali fought Ken Norton in a rematch at the Inglewood Forum and won the rematch by split decision. He had lost the first encounter six months earlier in San Diego. Ironically, both Ali and Norton would live in Los Angeles through the 1990s and had offices within a half mile of each other in the Wilshire District.

In 1967, Joe Frazier fought Scrap Iron Johnson in a nontitle bout at the Olympic Auditorium which is about a half mile from the Staples Center. Fans who saw that fight claim it was the only time Frazier ever danced in a fight. Scrap Iron didn’t have a reverse gear, he was like a human glacier that only moved forward.

Jerry Quarry was the only real heavyweight that Los Angeles fans ever truly knew. But once he hit the contender status he rarely fought in Southern California. The big money was in Madison Square Garden. After fighting as a main event in the Olympic Auditorium from 1965 to 1967 against the likes of Joey Orbillo and Floyd Patterson, he grew too big for the limited seating of the Olympic Auditorium. His last L.A. appearance took place at the Inglewood Forum against Tony Doyle in 1973. That was after fighting Muhammad Ali twice in mega fights in Atlanta and Las Vegas. Quarry was too big an attraction and met the biggest names at the time in Earnie Shavers, Joe Frazier, and Ken Norton at Madison Square Garden.

Though Mike “Hercules” Weaver made his pro debut at the Olympic Auditorium in September 1972 it would be years before he found himself. After a 50/50 record during his first 11 pro fights, Weaver then found his groove outside of Los Angeles and made himself into a heavyweight contender. In June 1979 he fought Larry Holmes in a thrilling battle at Madison Square Garden. The next year Weaver would win the WBA heavyweight world title by knockout over John Tate. He fought Stan Ward at the Inglewood Forum in 1983 but no longer held the title. Both Weaver and Ward still live in Southern California and train fighters.

Vitali

No Southern California heavyweight was deemed worthy of challenging for a world title in Los Angeles until the arrival of Vitali Klitschko. The Ukrainian native was training in Los Angeles and fought three heavyweight world title fights in the city of Angels.

The first encounter was the best.

When Klitschko challenged Lennox Lewis at the Staples Center, in June 2003, he drew enthusiastic crowds from various geographic and social settings that stretched from the ritzy Malibu Beach crowd to the cruising sets of East L.A. Ontario and beyond. All were anxious to witness a rare heavyweight world title showdown.

They were not disappointed.

Southern California fans are accustomed to watching world title fights, but usually it’s at the lower weight classes.

When United Kingdom’s Lewis defended the WBC title against Klitschko 15 years ago it was strange for L.A. boxing fans to see two gargantuan men exchange concussive blows in a boxing ring.

That heavyweight clash still remains one of the best heavyweight collisions ever staged in Southern California. Both let loose when massive blows and showed incredible determination in a clash that saw blood pouring out of Klitschko’s eye forcing the fight to be stopped prematurely. Fans fell in love with Klitschko for his grit and with Lewis for his willingness to trade bombs with the big Ukrainian. It would turn out to be the last fight for Lewis who then retired from the sport.

Klitschko would later win the heavyweight world title and fight twice more in Los Angeles. First against Corrie Sanders in April 2004 and then against Southern California’s Chris Arreola in September 2009. It was the third and final time Klitschko would fight in Los Angeles. After that he only fought in Europe and when his brother Wladimir Klitschko won the other versions of the heavyweight titles that closed the door to America as both Klitschkos opted to fight in Europe.

Southern California has not seen a heavyweight world title fight since Stiverne-Arreola in 2014. And in the history of prizefighting in the Los Angeles area only 11 heavyweight world title fights have ever taken place.

It’s history indeed when American heavyweight Wilder defends the WBC title against lineal champion Fury of Great Britain. It is well worth watching.

More importantly, the winner between Wilder and Fury has a true claim on the lineal heavyweight world title that can be traced all the way back to the first heavyweight world champion of the modern era John L. Sullivan.

“I’m the lineal champion of the world,” said Fury of holding the distinction. “I’ve never been beaten.”

Tickets are still available for the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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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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