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“King Kong” Ortíz Battles Against Time and the Demands of his Rivals

J.J. Alvarez

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Ortíz

About to turn 40 years old on the 29th of March, the giant Cuban Luis Ortíz is pressured equally by both his age and the demands of his potential adversaries. Even though he currently possesses the abilities necessary to achieve his dream of becoming the first Cuban heavyweight world champion, just like any mortal, his time in the sport is running out.

But “King Kong” Ortíz (30-1-0, 26 KOs) is a victim of his own quality, that which he has demonstrated against all of his adversaries, including the current world champion, American Deontay Wilder.  On March 3rd of last year at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Ortíz was defeated by Wilder by technical knockout in the 10th round, after having previously been knocked down in the 5th.

The outcome made it seem as if “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder had made significant progress in terms of his skill. But this is far from the truth. Ortíz pushed the champion to his limits but didn’t succeed in capturing victory due to a lack of “killer instinct”. When the fight was in his favor, he hesitated to go in for the finish.  In the 6th round, Ortíz landed powerful blows against Wilder, who attempted to evade them to the best of his abilities, and there seemed there would be a knockdown. But the final blows were too close to the bell and Ortíz didn’t take advantage of the situation. He was far too conservative in the 7th round, never going all in and allowing Wilder to catch a second wind. What could have been was no more. The power punches of the North American pulverized the Cuban, and in the 10th round it was all over.

Now Ortíz will face the Romanian Christian Hammer (24-5-0, 14 KO’s) on the 2nd of March (just 27 days before he turns 40 years old) at the Barclays Center, the same place where he fell victim to the power of Wilder one year ago. Ortíz opens as the favorite against the Galanti born fighter, who has compiled a few knockout victories, with the most recent being against the German Michael Wallisch in the 5th round on the 15th of December in the German city of Hamburg.

Almost immediately after his fight against Wilder, Ortíz requested an opportunity for a rematch through social media and in all of his interviews. But due to his tremendous ability, there have been many obstacles in terms of negotiation.

And it hasn’t only been an obstacle for the rematch with Wilder, the other fighters in the heavyweight division make exorbitant demands in order to face the Cuban, who doesn’t care about the trajectory, age, or record of those whom he will face in the ring. “Who’s looking for me, will find me. I’m ready for anybody”, said Ortíz on various occasions.

“Its crazy, something unthinkable, fighters with a name who want to fight (against Ortíz) are asking up to $60 million” stated the Cuban’s trainer Germán Caicedo, to a Miami newspaper. “That’s not possible. Luis still hasn’t had a pay-per-view fight, so we will continue to face the top talent in the division that we have access to”.

Since his loss against Wilder, Ortíz has scored two consecutive knockouts. In July he stopped the Romanian Razvan Cojanu in the 2nd round. In December at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Ortiz needed 10 rounds to put the nail in the coffin against the American Travis “My Time” Kauffman, after knocking him down in the 6th and 8th round, the referee Thomas Taylor was prompted to finally stop the onslaught, with no chance of victory for the local.

Even though he didn’t mention Wilder directly, the trainer Caicedo affirmed, “We aren’t going to wait for anybody, we aren’t going to waste time for this or that to get decided. We will continue fighting. But if at the end the opportunity for a title does not present itself, which remains to be Luis’s primary objective. He has lived and lives in boxing. He has also brought his family, he has a daughter that is recovering from an illness, he created a new life and for him, that’s all a great accomplishment”.

Joe Joyce and Oleksandr Usyk: Nothing But Words.

Ortíz in the beginning, before signing to fight Hammer, pondered the challenge proposed by the British Joe “Juggernaut” Joyce (7-0-0, 7 KO’S), who on the same night of the Cuban’s defeat of Kauffman annihilated the American Joe Hanks (23-3-0, 15 KO’S) in the 1st round. Euphoric in victory, the “Juggernaut” challenged the other contenders and specifically Ortíz.

“I’m ready for any opponent and I want to fight those at the highest level”, said Joyce after defeating Hanks. “I have a lot of experience and I only have to improve my strength and speed. I’m ready to show everybody what I can do. Ortíz is on my list”

Ortíz’s response to the “Juggernaut” took no time: “I don’t turn down fights, it’s the first time I’ve been challenged this way, so say no more, challenge accepted, we’re going do this”. But after ludicrous monetary demands were made by the British side, which were impossible to accept, conversations ceased.

Another surprising turn in Ortíz’s future came with the offer of a high-profile fight against The Ukrainian southpaw Cruiserweight World Champion Oleksandr Usyk, who stated that he would move up in weight. Usyk has been recognized as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and for many publications –including Zona de Boxeo – the best boxer of 2018.

The only actual champion with the four most prestigious titles (WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO), Usyk (16-0-0, 12 KOs) signed a co-promotional contract last year with Matchroom, a company that represents various heavyweight fighters, including Dillian Whyte, Jarrell Miller, Dereck Chisora and Anthony Joshua, the current WBA, IBF, and WBO champion.

“At this moment we aren’t negotiating with anyone,” stated Usyk’s promoter Alexander Krasyuk. “I can confirm that we are experiencing problems finding an opponent of the adequate level and skill of our boxer”.

Krasyuk explained that both Joseph Parker and Jarrell Miller turned down the fight against Usyk. Meanwhile, Carlos Takam is trying to confirm a fight against Chisora and Dillian Whyte hopes to do the same with Dominic Breazeale.

“Therefore, our only options are Luis Ortíz and Alexander Povetkin. Both are top level heavyweights, with real chances of being Usyk’s first opponent at heavyweight”, said Krasyuk, who added that if those options were to fall out, they could accept an obligatory defense against Denis Lebedev in March.

With three victories last year, Usyk defeated the Latvian Mairis Briedis in January, the Russian Murat “Iron” Gassiev during the final season of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) in July, and the Englishman Tony Bellew in November.

Later not much else was said about “Usyk-Ortíz” and like the previous potential fights, it never came to fruition. At that point, Hammer turned out to be the saving grace in stopping Ortíz’s clock of competitive inactivity.

Translated by E.G. for J.J. Alvarez of Boxeo.tv

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Jonathan Esquivel Remains Unbeaten and Raquel Miller Wins NABF Title

David A. Avila

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HAWAIIAN GARDENS, Calif.-Undefeated Jonathan Esquivel attracted a large and lively crowd and they weren’t disappointed in his knockout win over Tavoris Teague on Saturday.

Esquivel (10-0, 9 KOs) showed the large contingent of fans that sold out the Hawaiian Gardens Casino that the tricky Teague (6-27-4) could not compete for four full rounds in their super middleweight clash.

The fight ended at 2:11 of the fourth when Teague was overwhelmed by Esquivel but remained standing up as referee Zachary Young ended the fight.

Esquivel, who lives in nearby Santa Ana, California, brought more than 200 fans and they saw him struggle a bit with Teague, but after two flat rounds, the southpaw began finding the range and unleashed a barrage of punches that Teague could not avoid. The end came suddenly but the Orange County fighter remains with an unblemished record.

NABF Female Title

Female middleweight contenders headed the main event and former Olympic alternate Raquel “Pretty Beast” Miller (9-0, 4 KOs) showed her professional game is intact with a knockout win over veteran Erin Toughill (7-5-1) to win the vacant NABF middleweight title.

Miller didn’t waste time and knocked Toughill down in the first exchange with a short right cross that dropped the veteran fighter who had nearly toppled middleweight contender Maricela Cornejo in her last ring appearance.

Speed was her greatest asset and Miller used it to full advantage as she jabbed her way through Toughill’s guard and landed quick three-punch combinations. For the first three rounds Miller was in full control.

Around the fourth round Miller seemed in cruise mode when Toughill rammed several rights against her foe and followed up with more right crosses. All seemed to land flush and Miller was moved backwards with the blows. Though Toughill did not land more punches than Miller, the solid blows were enough to win her first round.

In the fifth round Toughill seemed confident that she had discovered the remedy for Miller’s speedy punches and kept ramming rights through the guard. Again Toughill seemed to be able to land the more effective blows, but though they landed they didn’t seem to hurt Miller, but rather perplexed her.

Miller seemed more intent to reverse the momentum and launched a quick solid three-punch combination on Toughill who seemed surprised by the blows. After absorbing a Miller right Toughill retaliated with a left hook and another left hook. The change of pace seemed to keep Miller off balance but toward the end of the sixth round a screaming left jab connected followed by a solid one-two combination. Miller had quickly regained the momentum.

The seventh round saw both fighters race toward each other with Miller connecting with a lead right that snapped Toughill’s head back. Miller followed up quickly with a snapping jab, jab and left hook that caught Toughill perfectly and dropped her immediately to the floor. She beat the count but when referee Zachary Young asked her to put her hands up:

“She gave me a strange look and I had to end it,” said Young of Toughill’s response.

When asked what punch caused the knockout Miller was unsure.

“I don’t remember what punch I used, I’m just excited to win the title,” said Miller who won by knockout at 1:01 of the seventh round.

Miller wins the NABF middleweight title and becomes an automatic contender for the WBC version of the middleweight world title. Claressa Shields is the undisputed middleweight world champion and holds the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO world titles.

“I’m all about smooth boxing but I can bang if I have to,” said Miller.

Yes she can.

Other Bout

Super middleweights Kenny Quach (0-1-1) and Johnny Cisneros (0-0-1) ended in a draw after four closely fought rounds. Cisneros fights out of Riverside and was making his pro debut. Quach fights out of Santa Ana, Calif.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Fast Results from Brooklyn: Wilder Knocks Out Breazeale

Arne K. Lang

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Wilder Knocks Out Breazeale

Deontay Wilder vs. Dominic Breazeale figures to be entertaining for as long as it lasts said one pundit and he could not have been more prescient. Entertaining it was although if you were distracted you likely missed it. It was all over in 137 seconds

Wilder, making the ninth defense of his WBC world heavyweight title, stunned Breazeale with a big right hand early in the contest but then walked into a wild right hand by Breazeale and was himself momentarily stunned. He had enough presence of mind, however, to keep his cannon of a right hand unholstered and a few moments later he unleashed it again, leaving poor Breazeale flat on his back. Breazeale made it to his feet, seemingly as referee Harvey Dock reached the count of “10,” but he was in dire straits and the bout was waived it off.

This was the same Dominic Breazeale who lasted into the seventh round with Anthony Joshua not quite two years ago. As for Wilder, he remains undefeated with his 40th knockout in 42 pro starts and a match between him and Joshua or a rematch with Tyson Fury looms bigger than ever.

Co-Feature

WBC world featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. successfully defended his title and completed the hat trick for the Russell Brothers with a fifth round stoppage of Spain’s Kiko Martinez. Russell (30-1, 18 KOs) was just too fast for the Spaniard and was on his way to a comfortable win on points when the fight was waived off at the suggestion of the ring physician because of a bad cut over Martinez’s left eye. A former IBF 122-pound champion, Martinez (37-9-2) is now 1-4 in world title fights.

Undercard

In the first of the TV fights, North Las Vegas junior welterweight Juan Heraldez remained unbeaten but barely as he was held to a draw by former IBF 130-pound world title-holder Argenis Mendez. One judge had it 97-73 for Mendez but the others had it even. Heraldez (16-0-1) was one of four Mayweather Promotions fighters on the card. Mendez, from Yonkers, New York, via the Dominican Republic, was held to a draw in a second straight fight, bringing his record to 25-5-3.

A previous draw ensued in an 8-round contest between 30-something heavyweights, Robert Alfonso (18-0-1) and Iago Kiladze (26-4-1). Alfonso, a Cuban defector and ex-Olympian who trains with Wilder in Tuscaloosa, weighed in at 254, giving him a 35-pound weight advantage. He had Kiladze fighting off his back foot for much of the contest, but the LA-based fighter from the Republic of Georgia snuck in enough punches to stem a 3-fight losing streak.

Bantamweight Gary Antonio Russell moved to 14-0 with a six-round technical decision over Tijuana’s Saul Hernandez (13-13-1). A clash of heads in the sixth round left the Mexican disoriented and the bout went to the cards where Antonio won by scores of 59-55 and 60-54 twice. Hernandez didn’t figure to go the distance. In his last three fights, he fattened up his record against opponents who were a combined 0-30.

In a fight slated for eight rounds, junior welterweight Gary Antuanne Russell improved to 9-0 (9) with a fourth round stoppage of Nicaragua’s Marcos Mojica (16-4-2) who had the misfortune of being thrust against a former Olympian in a second straight bout. Mojica was on the canvas twice before the referee intervened. He lasted longer than any of Russell’s previous opponents, none of whom lasted beyond three frames.

Brooklyn-born Richardson Hitchins, who represented Haiti in the 2016 Olympics, improved to 9-0 (5) when Columbia’s Alejandro Munero (4-2-3) was unable to answer the bell for round four. The 21-year-old Hitchins was making his eighth appearance at Barclays.

Dylan Price, a 20-year-old bantamweight from Sicklerville, NJ, improved to 8-0 when the corner of Mexico’s Manuel Manzo (4-7-2) stopped the one-sided beatdown midway through the sixth round.

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The Tartan Tornado and the Monster Advance in the World Boxing Super Series

Arne K. Lang

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World Boxing Super Series

Semifinal matchups in the 118- and 140-pound tournaments of the World Boxing Super Series played out today, May 18, at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. All four participants entered the day undefeated.

In the main go, junior welterweight Josh Taylor, the Tartan Tornado, delighted the home folks by winning a unanimous decision over Ivan “The Beast” Baranchyk. Fighting in the same arena where he won Commonwealth Gold in 2014, Taylor outpointed Baranchyk on scores of 117-109 and 115-111 twice.

Taylor had an anxious moment in the fifth round when Baranchyk landed three unanswered punches that momentarily left Taylor on shaky legs. But in the very next frame, Taylor came up big, knocking Baranchyk to the canvas twice, first with a right hook and then a left to the head followed by a left to the body.

Baranchyk, who pepped for this fight at Freddie Roach’s gym in Hollywood, recuperated nicely. Taylor could have played it safe by going on his bicycle in the final round, but he elected to trade with Baranchyk who finished strong, although clearly behind on the cards.

With the victory, Josh Taylor improved to 15-0 and moves on to a contest with Regis Prograis, a bout that will likely land in Glasgow and, if so, will be the biggest fight ever in Scotland. Baranchyk, who was born in Russia but has been residing in Oklahoma, declined to 19-1

The Monster

In the co-feature, Yokohama’s baby-faced Naoya “The Monster” Inoue (18-0, 16 KOs) showed that he belongs on everyone’s pound-for-pound list with a second round blast-out of Puerto Rico’s previously undefeated Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1). After a fairly even first round, Inoue lowered the boom in the second, decking Rodriguez three times to force an intervention. At stake were the IBF and WBA bantamweight titles. With the win, Inoue earned a date with Filipino veteran Nonito Donaire who was in the building.

Inoue scored his first knockdown with a left hook and that spelled the beginning of the end for Rodriguez. In his previous two bouts, Inoue demolished title-holders Jamie McDonnell and Juan Carlos Payano in the opening round. If he gets past Donaire – and he will be heavily favored – he will be the odds-on choice to be named the 2019 Fighter of the Year.

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