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Will the ‘Marination’ of Tyson Fury Backfire (and other Heavyweight Notes)?

Arne K. Lang




When Bob Arum and his comrades at ESPN poached Tyson Fury from Showtime, they did it in the belief that Fury was better served by having his rematch with Deontay Wilder “marinate” for a while. Until that day comes, Fury, for his part, would prime the pump with one or more interim bouts.

We wouldn’t be surprised if this backfires.

Styles make fights, goes the old saying, and, in hindsight, Fury vs. Wilder was the perfect pairing for producing a fight that was competitive, entertaining, and replete with drama.

So, here’s the question: Would Tyson Fury be better served by engaging Deontay Wilder in an immediate rematch in which he comes out on the short end of a close call in another entertaining tiff, or would he be better served by taking an interim bout in which he defeats an opponent of modest skill in a dull fight?

A fight fan who tweets under the handle “The Fringe Contender” asked this question in a roundabout way, raising a point that seems to have gotten lost in all the hand-wringing over the stalled rematch: “I think Tyson Fury and others have forgotten how dreadfully boring his fights against, well anyone but Wilder are. Almost worse than boring. Who knows, he might actually drive his market value and high public perception down by having the interim fight. Lol.”

Speculation as to Tyson Fury’s next opponent has centered around Kubrat Pulev and Oscar Rivas, both of whom have ties to Arum’s Top Rank organization. But Pulev is seemingly out of the running as he has a fight scheduled on March 23 against defective Bogdan Dinu.

The venue for Pulev-Dinu is The Hanger at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, California, heretofore a venue for mixed boxing and MMA low-budget cards cobbled together by promoter Roy Engelbrecht, a longtime fixture on the Southern California boxing scene.

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Four heavyweights of note were in action this past weekend, most notably Luis Ortiz who won a lopsided 10-round decision over German-Romanian invader Christian Hammer in the chief undercard bout on the Castano-Lara card at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

How one judges Ortiz’s performance depends on whether one sees the glass half full or half empty. If one was seeing Ortiz for the first time, one likely wondered if this was the same guy who has been routinely identified as the most avoided heavyweight in boxing.

While acknowledging that this was a hard fight, Ortiz gave himself a high grade. “Every heavyweight out there should know that I still have it at 40-years-old,” said Ortiz. “Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, I’m ready.”

It’s interesting that Ortiz referenced himself as being 40 when his 40th birthday was ostensibly four weeks away. Other athletes from Cuba have been unmasked as older than their listed age and it has long been speculated that “King Kong” is one of them.

No matter how one rates Ortiz’s showing, his performance may redound to his credit in so far as securing a big money match. As a frequent TSS contributor notes, Christian Hammer, a durable fighter with a solid chin, was the perfect opponent if the intent was to make Ortiz look vulnerable.


In Magdeburg, Germany, German heavyweights Agit Kabayel and Tom Schwarz kept their undefeated records intact. Kabayel, who is of Kurdish descent, out-boxed Andriy Rudenko to retain his version of the European heavyweight title. Schwarz blew away Kristijan Krstacic in the second round.

Schwarz (24-0, 16 KOs) was fighting in his hometown. He drew a softie in 38-year-old Krstacic whose 17-1 record going in was forged against a motley cache of opponents. Schwarz had him on the canvas three times before the referee intervened.

Kabayel, now 19-0, was extended the distance, but his Ukrainian adversary, Rudenko, was 32-3 going in and had never been stopped. Kabayel’s next opponent figures to be Swedish southpaw Otto Wallin who is also undefeated (20-0).

In a round robin tournament between Kabayel, Schwarz, and Wallin, there would be no clear-cut-favorite. They range in age from 24 to 28, in height from six-foot-three to six-foot-five-and-a-half, and each carries about 240 pounds. History informs us, however, that white European heavyweights not named Klitschko have low ceilings so it’s doubtful that any of them would pose a serious threat to the likes of Anthony Joshua.


Lou DiBella, the former Senior Vice President of HBO Sports, is a busy beaver. He was the lead promoter for Saturday’s event at Barclays Center and on that same day an edition of his Broadway Boxing Series unfolded in Columbus, Ohio. (It figured that DiBella’s series would travel well. As the late, great R & B singer Wilson Pickett informed us, there’s a Broadway in every town and, yes, that includes Columbus, Ohio; we checked.)

In the main go of DiBella’s Columbus show, Junior Fa improved to 17-0 (10) with a first round stoppage of French import Newfel Ouatah. The fight was a travesty. Ouatah brought a 16-2 record but had defeated only four men with winning records and he was out of his league. Fa scored four knockdowns before the referee pulled the plug.

Travesty or not, it was a nice win for Fa who had several spotty performances last year that DiBella attributed to a health issue (anemia) that has since been remedied.

Fa, who carries 255 pounds on a six-foot-two frame, is on a collision course with fellow Kiwi and former amateur rival Joseph Parker. They split four fights as amateurs. When they eventually meet – assuming no intervening complications – it will be a huge fight in New Zealand and throughout Polynesia. Junior Fa’s roots are in Tonga, Parker’s in Samoa, and the two island nations have a longstanding rivalry that continues today on the rugby pitch.

True, relations are now cordial, due in part to the fact that so many Tongans and Samoans share a common religion (Latter Day Saints), but a big inter-ethnic boxing match has a way of re-opening old sores.

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Switching gears, there’s an early frontrunner for Trainer of the Year.

“It says a lot about Buddy McGirt, as a trainer and tonight as a cornerman to have such an instant impact on a fighter. Particularly having had only one training camp with the fighter who doesn’t even share the same language as him,” tweeted  the writer of the “Laceupboxing” blog after Sergey Kovalev recaptured his WBO world light heavyweight title with a unanimous decision over Eleider Alvarez on Feb. 2 in Frisco, Texas.

Heading into the fight, Kovalev’s persona was that of a slugger with stamina issues. At age 35, it figured that his best days were behind him. But “Krusher” comprehensively out-boxed Alvarez and finished strong. CompuBox credited him with throwing 816 punches.

McGirt boxed professionally from 1982 to 1997, finishing with a record of 73-6-1. He will be formally inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in June and if he were to be named Trainer of the Year for 2019 he would be a two-time honoree. The Boxing Writers Association of America conferred this award on him in 2002.

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Jonathan Esquivel Remains Unbeaten and Raquel Miller Wins NABF Title

David A. Avila



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



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.


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.


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



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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