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A Bevy of Tarnished Heavyweights Vie to Become the Next Bermane Stiverne

Arne K. Lang

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Stiverne

In the murky shadows of heavyweight boxing, several fighters with recognizable names are jockeying to become the next Bermane Stiverne, by which we mean the next pawn in the career of a well-connected up-and-comer, someone such as Filip Hrgovic who recently linked up with powerful promoter Eddie Hearn. Hrgovic and other talented fighters at his stage of development are in search of opponents, more specifically sacrificial lambs, the most alluring of whom are those with recognizable names. And the chosen few get a nice paycheck to assuage their hurt and keep their creditors at bay.

Leading candidates to be the next pawn include former titlist Charles Martin and two-time world title challenger Chris Arreola (pictured), who will both be in action on the Spence-Garcia pay-per-view card. Martin (25-2-1) opposes Gregory Corbin (15-0) and Arreola (37-5-1) meets Jean Pierre Augustin (17-0-1). And then there’s Samuel Peter who appeared on a show this past weekend in Tijuana, thereby sending a message that if the money is right he would welcome an opportunity to go overseas and serve as a building block for someone like Hrgovic, a role for which Sam Peter is well-practiced.

Arreola

Chris Arreola, who turns 38 in a few days, is a three-time world title challenger, succumbing inside the distance to Vitali Klitschko, Bermane Stiverne, and Deontay Wilder. His best win was a first round stoppage of Eric Molina, but that was long ago. In his most recent bout against a noted opponent, he out-pointed Travis Kaufman by split decision, a verdict that was changed to “ND” when his post-fight urine exam showed traces of marijuana.

This was the second time that Arreola was exposed as a consumer of the “evil weed.” Back in 2011, his victory over Friday Ahunanya, a wide 10-round decision, was also voided. Take away those two no-decisions and Arreola’s ledger improves to 39-5-1.

Arreola’s opponent on March 16, Jean Pierre Augustin, is a 31-year-old Haitian currently residing in Louisville. A part-time actor with a few movie credits to his name, Augustin’s last fight was in the Mexican/Arizona border town of Agua Prieta where he defeated a no-name fighter who reportedly carried 334 ½ pounds on a six-foot-two frame.

Arreola says that he will retire if he loses this fight. In an interview with a writer from East Side Boxing, Chris acknowledged that he felt soreness in the mornings after a session in the gym, soreness that he did not feel in his younger days. We have no clue what Augustin will bring to the table, but Arreola will be favored and if he wins, as expected, a substantially richer payday likely awaits him around the next corner.

Arreola has a lot of mileage on his odometer, however, and is a strong candidate for pugilistic dementia if he keeps fighting.

Martin

Charles Martin won the vacant IBF title in January of 2016 with a third round stoppage of Vyacheslav Glazkov and gave it up in his first defense when he was demolished by Anthony Joshua who stopped him in the second round. His tenure as a heavyweight title-holder lasted 85 days, the shortest on record.

Martin’s win over Glazkov was tainted. Glazkov slipped as his feet got tangled with Martin’s and he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee as he fell to the canvas. To that point, the fight was shaping up as a dreary affair.

In his last start, Martin and undefeated Adam Kownacki engaged in an entertaining slugfest. Martin came out on the short end of a close decision, but regained some of his lost stature.

Gregory Corbin, his next opponent, is 38 years old. We have never seen Corbin fight but we suspect he will be competitive. Before he went off to prison for seven-and-a-half years on a cocaine trafficking conviction, Corbin was a national Golden Gloves champion.

Partly because his tenure as a title-holder was so short, Charles Martin is widely considered the worst heavyweight champion of the four-belt era. Bermane Stiverne also warrants consideration for that dubious honor and perhaps also Oliver McCall.

We mention McCall, now 53 years old, only because, sad but true, he’s still active. The erstwhile Atomic Bull has a fight scheduled on the last Saturday of March against a tub of lard named Ronald Baca in Robstown, Texas.

Samuel Peter

Peter brought a record of 36-6 (29 KOs) into his match this past Friday with Gerardo Escobar at Cheer’s Bar in Tijuana. We don’t know the result of that fight — it’s not up on BoxRec and a google search came up empty — but we’ll take it on faith that Peter prevailed and likely without working up much of a sweat. In documented fights, Escobar was 2-21 and had been stopped 15 times.

Peter had previously used Tijuana as a steppingstone. In October of 2016, he defeated a boxer from Mexicali named Juan Carlos Salas in this hardscrabble city. Salas, who was mired in a 7-fight losing streak, quit after three rounds. That triumph propelled Samuel Peter into a match with Kubrat Pulev in Bulgaria where it was he who quit on his stool after three rounds. He was undoubtedly well compensated.

There was a day when Peter was being touted as the next big thing in the heavyweight division. His vicious one-punch knockout of Jeremy Williams stamped him as the division’s hardest hitter since Mike Tyson. There was a lot of smart money on the Nigerian Nightmare when he opposed Wladimir Klitschko in 2005 in Atlantic City in Peter’s first stab at a heavyweight title. He knocked Klitschko down three times but lost most of the rounds and lost by three points on all three scorecards.

Six fights later, Peter won the WBC title with a sixth round stoppage of Oleg Maskaev, but he lost the belt in his first defense, falling to Vitali Klitschko. This was Vitali’s first start after sitting out almost four years while rehabbing an assortment of injuries, but Peter was the one that looked rusty. He retired on his stool after eight lopsided rounds.

Peter went on to secure a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko. In 2010, Wladimir stopped him in the 10th round at Frankfurt. Peter then became an opponent for rising contenders like Finland’s 14-0 Robert Helenius, who stopped him in nine frames, and the aforementioned Pulev. He came in at 271 pounds for Pulev, 20 pounds less than in a 2014 bout with a no-name opponent in Oklahoma City, but 28 pounds more than he carried in his first meeting with Wladimir Klitschko when he was at his peak.

Samuel Peter has seemingly been around forever, but he’s “only” 38 years old, younger than Luis Ortiz or Alexander Povetkin, or several others in his pod, soiled fighters with marketable names chasing one last stab at fistic glory or at least one more big paycheck to cushion their transition into the next phase of their lives.

We’re quite certain we haven’t seen the last of Samuel Peter. He just may be the next Bermane Stiverne.

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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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