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Freeda Foreman (1976-2019) and the Dance of the Three Fighting Daughters

Arne K. Lang

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Foreman

Freeda Foreman, the third oldest of 11 children fathered by legendary heavyweight champion George Foreman (6 girls and 5 boys) and herself a former boxer, was found dead in her Houston area home on Friday evening, March 8. KHOU Channel 11 in Houston was the first news outlet to confirm that her death was a suicide.  She was 42 years old.

Freeda Foreman was the third of three daughters with a famous father to turn pro, following in the footsteps of Laila Ali and Jacqui Frazier-Lyde. They debuted within an eight-month period between October of 1999 and June of 2000. Ali was the trailblazer.

Foreman was working for UPS in Greenville, South Carolina, when she was induced to enter the prize ring. Her backer was Bill Daniels, a cable TV pioneer who owned or co-owned several professional sports teams. A former amateur boxer, Daniels founded America Presents, a boxing promotional company that was run by his nephew Matt Tinley following Daniels death in March of 2000.

Foreman prepped for her boxing debut at the America Presents headquarters in Denver. Her first fight was staged on June 18, 2000, at the Regent in Las Vegas, a new off-Strip hotel-casino that would shortly go bankrupt. Also appearing on the card was Hector Camacho Jr., a fringe contender in the 140-pound weight class, and Maria Johannson, the 34-year-old daughter of Ingemar Johannson who was also making her pro debut.

The show at the Regent was staged on Father’s Day. This was no coincidence.

The promoters hoped to induce George Foreman to attend the show, but he would have no part of it. In common with his contemporary Larry Holmes, Big George said, “I fought so my children wouldn’t have to.”

Freeda Foreman’s purse was reportedly $15,000. Her opponent, a hairdresser from Milwaukee, received $1000. George Foreman reportedly sent Freeda a check for $15,000 as an inducement for her to pull out of the fight. She wouldn’t cash it.

Foreman stopped her faint-hearted opponent in the second round. However, both local boxing reporter Royce Feour and Associated Press correspondent Ken Peters described her performance as amateurish. (Maria Johannson’s fight with Kerrie Frye was a lively 4-round skirmish; Johannson lost a split decision.)

Freeda Foreman, who stood five-foot-ten, weighed 180 pounds for her pro debut and 160 pounds for her subsequent fights. She won her next four starts against no-name opponents and then lost a majority decision to a fighter from New York with an 0-3 record in what would prove to be her final fight. Despite her pedigree and her proclamations to the contrary, her heart was never in the game. She was, in the words of Associated Press sports columnist Tim Dahlberg, soft-spoken and refined, qualities one doesn’t associate with a prizefighter.

Five months before Foreman’s final fight, Laila Ali and Jacqui Frazier-Lyde, both undefeated, squared off in what was perhaps the most ballyhooed female prizefight on American soil. They met at the Turning Stone Casino and Resort on a show held in conjunction with the annual Hall of Fame weekend at the nearby International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY.

Ali was an outstanding boxer and Frazier-Lyde, 16 years older than Laila at age 39, wasn’t too shabby, but their 8-round contest, won by Ali on a majority decision, was a disappointment. Frazier-Ali IV, as it was billed, was marred by excessive clinching. A ringside reporter wrote that it resembled a tango.

Freeda Foreman disappeared from the national scene after quitting boxing. A news story in 2004 described her as an animated parishioner at her father’s small church and a helper at her father’s adjacent youth camp which offered instruction in boxing. She also fulfilled her father’s wish to continue her education, earning a degree from Sam Houston State University.

On George Foreman’s twitter page, there is a photo of Freeda in her cap and gown hugging her radiant father on the day of her college commencement. At the time of her death she was reportedly pursuing a master’s degree in criminal justice. She is survived by two children, three grandchildren, her parents and siblings.

Few of us have been untouched by the suicide of someone we admired, perhaps even a family member. It tends to strike those who are the most unlikely victims although authorities on the subject tell us that there are warning signs, albeit signs often so subtle that we are blind to them. If you suspect that someone you know is contemplating suicide, please encourage them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Counselors are available 24/7. And may Freeda rest in peace.

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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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