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The Weekend That Was: Some Good Fights, Some Big Upsets and a lot of Junk

Arne K. Lang



fights kownacki vs washington

There were no mega-fights on the final weekend of January, but there were several interesting fights and several potentially uninteresting fights that played out in an interesting fashion.

Keith Thurman was a massive favorite over Josesito Lopez, notwithstanding the fact that Thurman has been out of action for 22 months while rehabbing injuries to his right shoulder and right hand. The odds suggested a one-sided and potentially humdrum fight, but there was a moment of high drama in the seventh round when the spunky Lopez staggered Thurman and chased him all over the ring. For a moment, it appeared that the fight would be stopped.

Thurman re-grouped and won a majority decision that should have been unanimous, but Lopez came to fight and put on a good show.

In the co-feature, pudgy Adam Kownacki improved his stock enormously while delighting his partisans with a quick demolition of Gerald Washington. Kownacki’s nickname is Baby Face and it fits. As someone commented on another web site, he looks like he came off the screen of one of those “Nutty Professor” movies where an addled chemist stumbles on the formula for turning a baby into a giant.

Kownacki is rough around the edges but he’s fun to watch. He has now eliminated two of Deontay Wilder’s former opponents – Artur Szpilka and Washington – in half the time that it took Wilder. But it doesn’t bode well for him that one of the few punches that Washington landed opened a cut over his left eye. Fighters with his pale hue are thought to be especially prone to cut.

There was an upset on the undercard that attracted considerable buzz although few people actually witnessed it live as it came early on a deep card while the arena was still mostly empty. Marsellos Wilder, the younger brother of Deontay Wilder, was handily winning his 4-round bout with Nebraska journeyman William Deets when, out of the blue, Deets landed a clean three-punch combination that put Wilder on the mat. He beat the count but had trouble keeping his balance and the fight was stopped.

Marsellos can take solace in the fact that his older brother was knocked out in his amateur days and went on to make a ton of money. But there was always the nagging suspicion that the younger Wilder brother, a former Jackson State and semi-pro wide receiver, would have been better served if he had put more effort into football.

The defeat knocked Wilder off the Feb. 23 DeGale-Eubank card in London. By rule in New York, a fighter who suffers a knockout receives an indefinite suspension. Eddie Hearn, the promoter, has indicated that he will honor it.

– – –

By all indications, the fight in Houston between defending WBO 154-pound champion Jaime Munguia and challenger Takeshi Inoue was a very good fight.

The scorecards said otherwise. Munguia won every round on two of the cards and 11 rounds on the other. However, the theme of every ringside report, including that of TSS correspondent Kelsey McCarson, was that the perspicacious Inoue made Munguia dig deep for his bone.

We have a seen a few fights like that; competitive fights that yielded lopsided scores that were not off the mark. If a fighter wins each round by a razor-thin margin he rightfully gets credit for pitching a shutout even if the overall impression is different. We didn’t see the fight so we have no quibble with the judges, but we’re compelled to ask how the Texas Athletic Commission could have assigned three judges with Hispanic surnames to a fight in which one of the combatants was Mexican.

The co-main produced a big upset when obscure Xu Can wrested the WBA featherweight title from Jesus Rojas. Can entered the contest with a 15-2 record that included only two wins by knockout. In his lone previous engagement on U.S. soil he labored to win a split decision in an 8-round fight with a journeyman.

The presumption was that Can had no business in the same ring with Puerto Rico’s Rojas. But he out-fought the champion, winning by margins of 4, 6, and 8 points. In so doing, Can, the son of pastry chefs, became the third fighter from China to win a world title following former WBO flyweight champion Zou Shiming and former WBC minimumweight champion Xiong Chaozhong.

– – –

No details have emerged in English language papers regarding Saturday’s all-Canada showdown in Montreal between Calgary’s Steve Claggett (27-5-1) and Montreal’s Mathieu Germain (16-0). On paper the 10-round bout, contested at 140 pounds, was an evenly matched fight and it played out that way, ending in a draw (95-95, 96-94, 94-96).

On the undercard, mammoth Russian heavyweight Arslanbek Makhmudov, who carries 260 pounds on a 6’5 ½” frame, knocked out journeyman Jason Bergman in the opening round.

Makhmudov entered the pro ranks well-touted. “(He has) enormous size, prodigious strength, and frightening power,” wrote Matt McGrain. This was his sixth pro fight and sixth knockout. In total, he has answered the bell for only seven rounds.

When Makhmodov turned pro he relocated to Toronto to be near his friend and former amateur teammate Artur Beterbiev. As for Bergman, who also tips the scales in the 260 pound range, he brought a 27-14-2 record but had come up the ladder on the grungy West Virginia circuit.

– – –

At the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, welterweight Cletus Seldin, the Hebrew Hammer, blew away Adam Mate, knocking him down twice before the bout was halted after 48 seconds.

Mate entered the contest with a record of 28-13, but a closer inspection of his record showed that all of his wins had come in his native Hungary and that outside this pod he had been stopped nine times, five times in the very first round.

The resourceful Hungarian found an uncommon way to see the world on someone else’s dime. His itinerary has taken him to London, Edinburgh, Madrid, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, and Washington, DC, among other places. Perhaps someday he will write a book about his adventures.

We don’t begrudge him that; we wish that we had seen more of the world in our younger days. But as prizefighters go, Mate is an imposter and it’s time for him to come up with a new ruse to feed his wanderlust.

Promoters like Seldin’s promoter Joe DeGuardia are the lifeblood of the sport, but they don’t get a pass when they manufacture junk and this wasn’t the first time that DeGuardia arrived at the Mohegan Sun bearing junk. In June of last year he matched the top dog of his stable, Joe Smith Jr., against an unskilled 39-year-old Kentuckian, Melvin Russell, the self-styled Romantic Redneck. Smith took him out in the opening round.

– – –

On Saturday at a dance club in Managua, Nicaragua, Costa Rica’s Hannah Gabriels successfully defended her WBA world female super welterweight title with a unanimous 10-round decision over Australia’s Sarah Dwyer.

“Hannah lacked efficiency and precision on her punches (but) her experience allowed her to work her opponent’s body and wear her out,” wrote Laura Alvarado in the Costa Rica Star who noted that a movie about Gabriels’ life is in post-production with a scheduled release date of Feb. 28.

Gabriels improved to 19-2-1. Dwyer declined to 3-5-2 and that’s no typo.

We don’t want to belittle Gabriels accomplishments. The lady is dedicated to her craft, has paid her dues, and she can really fight. Back in June she gave young gun Claressa Shields her hardest test, knocking the two-time Olympic gold medalist down in the opening round before losing a unanimous decision. However, the fact remains that Gabriels was thrust against an opponent that had won only one-third of her nine pro fights and the shameless World Boxing Association saw fit to sanction it as a world title fight.

Sarah Dwyer wasn’t junk. You Tube snippets of her in training show a woman whose punches carry more authority than female boxers with much glossier records. But in our estimation, the belt for which she competed – indeed any item that bears the WBA logo – is just a piece of junk.

– – –

Finally, we have run out of patience awaiting results of Friday’s show in Bolivia so we will share them with you anyway although we can’t say for certain that the event actually took place.

The main go pitted Brockton, Massachusetts court officer Vinnie Carita (19-1-1, 18 KOs) against a local man, Eddy Salvatierra (21-6-2, 17 KOs). Salvatierra, like many of Carita’s former opponents, is a little long in the tooth. He is 43 years old.

In the co-main, Saul Farah (67-23-3) was pitted against a fellow Bolivian, Jorge Urquiza Anez (7-4). Farah, alias Saul Becerra Gil, weighed 264 ½ pounds in his most recent start. Although he has outgrown the division, Anez is still listed as a super welterweight on BoxRec.

By some coincidence, the promoter of this show was Carita’s father, Vincenzo Carita Sr. The matchmaker was none other than Saul Farah. Ergo, Carita and Farah were victorious. If not, we’re betting that the sun will rise in the west tomorrow.

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Gervonta vs. Shakur: Street Fight or Boxing?

Ted Sares



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 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




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



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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