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A Trio of Beguiling St. Patrick’s Day Shows Augment the Big Shebang in Dallas

Arne K. Lang

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boxing dallas

Errol Spence Jr. and Mikey Garcia clash on Saturday in the big enchilada at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys. The pay-per-view fight, which falls on Saint Patrick’s Day Eve, is cocooned by shows in Philadelphia and New York that are in tune with the holiday and it overlaps a show in Boston that is likewise scented with shamrocks.

This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on Sunday, but fight fans in Philadelphia can get into the swing of things on Friday. The main go on Eddie Hearn’s show at the Liacouras Center, streamed live on DAZN, finds Philadelphia’s own Tevin Farmer defending his IBF 130-pound world title against Ireland’s Jono Carroll, but the real sizzle comes in the form of Katie Taylor, Ireland’s most admired athlete according to multiple research polls.

Hailing from the Irish seacoast town of Bray but now living in Vernon, Connecticut, the 32-year-old Taylor is the most decorated amateur boxer in the history of Ireland. As a pro she’s 12-0 (5 KOs) and has built a strong case that it is she – not Cecilia Braekhus or Claressa Shields or Amanda Serrano or Layla McCarter – who is the top pound-for-pound female fighter in the world. In her last two fights against solid opponents – Cindy Serrano and Eva Wahlstrom – she won all 10 rounds on all three scorecards.

Taylor’s opponent Rose Volante, a 36-year-old Brazilian, is 14-0 but a mystery as she has always had the benefit of being the house fighter. Three of the four meaningful belts will be on the line in this 10-round lightweight contest.

The Farmer-Carroll fight is a battle of southpaws. In his last fight, Carroll (16-0-1) fought 12 rounds to a draw with veteran Guillaume Frenois of France who was 46-1 going in. From Dunshaughlin in County Meath, he’s a huge fan of Rocky and says he dreams at night of climbing the famous steps of City Hall while holding aloft his new IBF belt.

Carroll, whose birth name is Jonathan Beresford, may climb up the steps but we doubt he will be holding the IBF belt. With only three knockouts to his credit, it doesn’t appear that he has the power to hold off Tevin Farmer (28-4-1, 1 ND), a late bloomer whose record hasn’t been blemished since September of 2012. Another undefeated Irishman, 11-0 lightweight John Joe Nevin from Mullingar, appears on the undercard.

Boston

On Saturday, promoter Ken Casey heats things up at the House of Blues.

Casey is an interesting character. A Boston area native, he’s best known as the bassist/frontman of the Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys which he co-founded in 1996. When not performing, Casey, 49, writes songs, looks after the saloon he owns near Fenway Park, and promotes fights. Saturday’s show marks the fourth straight year he has cobbled a boxing event around Saint Patrick’s Day.

The headliner on Saturday’s card is Mark DeLuca. An ex-Marine who served in Afghanistan, DeLuca, 31, is touted as New England’s top boxing prospect. The southpaw from Whitman, Massachusetts, avenged his lone defeat in his previous bout, advancing his record to 22-1 (13 KOs). He is paired against New Haven’s Jimmy Williams (16-1-1) in a junior welterweight contest slated for 10 rounds.

Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan, whose primary home is in Cork, Ireland, returns to the scene of some of his most notable triumphs in an 8-round contest against Worcester’s Khiary Gray.

A year ago, the colorful O’Sullivan was getting a lot of buzz. He was penciled in to fight Daniel Jacobs on April 18, 2018, but that fight fell out, ostensibly because O’Sullivan received a better offer, a chance to fight Canelo Alvarez in Las Vegas on Mexican Independence Day, a bout that would supposedly transpire no matter the outcome of Canelo’s intervening Cinco de Mayo fight with Gennady Golovkin.

As we know, Canelo failed a pre-fight drug test and things got muddled. The Cinco de Mayo date vanished and Canelo’s rematch with GGG was pushed back four months.

The consolation prize for Spike O’Sullivan was a date with David Lemieux. A victory over Lemieux would have likely bumped him into a fight with Canelo, but it was not to be. To the contrary, it could not have turned out any worse for him. He was knocked out cold in the opening round.

And so, a potential seven-figure payday in a bout with Canelo Alvarez went down the drain and Spike now finds himself fighting in an 8-round preliminary on a club show in Boston. But this redounds to the benefit of those that will cram into the House of Blues on Saturday night as O’Sullivan (29-3, 20 KOs) is a proven crowd-pleaser. And it doesn’t figure that his opponent Khiary Gray (16-4, 12 KOs) will go quietly. Formerly known as Khiary Gray-Pitts, Gray is eight years younger than O’Sullivan at age 26 and was considered a very strong prospect until his career went south.

Irish pride will be at stake when Noel Murphy (12-1-1) opposes John Joyce in a welterweight contest. Murphy, like O’Sullivan, hails from Cork (but currently hangs his hat in the New York borough of Queens). Joyce, from Dublin, will be making his U.S. debut. He’s 7-0 but has yet to face a fighter with a winning record.

And then there’s heavyweight Niall Kennedy, a peace officer in the Dublin commuter town of Wicklow who, like O’Sullivan, will be making his 11th appearance in a New England ring. At age 34, Kennedy (12-0-1, 7 KOs) is still rough around the edges, but that description when applied to a heavyweight is tantamount to saying he has a fan-friendly style. At press time, his opponent had yet to be determined.

Ken Casey is a busy man. Dropkick Murphys has a 4-day gig at Boston’s House of Blues this week, the final leg of a 22-day tour. Saturday’s show is a matinee that will serve as the appetizer of sorts for his boxing card that evening.

New York

The Saint Patrick’s Day weekend festivities wrap up in New York on Sunday in the Theater of Madison Square Garden where Bob Arum’s Top Rank organization is staging an event hitched to the holiday for the third straight year. And once again the major attraction is featherweight Michael Conlan (pictured). The two-time Olympian from Belfast, whose double middle finger salute to the judges following his last amateur bout went viral, made his pro debut here in 2017 and returned last March 17 to blow away hapless Hungarian slug David Berna. This will be his fifth visit to the erstwhile Mecca of Boxing.

Conlan, now 10-0 (6 KOs), last fought in Manchester, England, where he stepped up in class and was extended 10 rounds for the first time in his career. His opponent on Sunday, Mexico’s Ruben Garcia Hernandez, is 24-3-2 (10). Hernandez’s first two losses were to undefeated fighters and his third came at the hands of formidable, if fading, Nonito Donaire in a bout that went the full 10 rounds.

It’s widely understood that Conlan is on a collision course with Top Rank signee Shakur Stevenson who was in Conlan’s pod at the Rio games, winning a silver medal. However, there’s been a new wrinkle. Top Rank recently signed Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin, the beneficiary of the awful decision that went against Conlan in Rio. Conlan wouldn’t fight Shakur (who would be a heavy favorite) without first playing the avenger in a second meeting with Nikitin.

Nikitin, 2-0 as a pro, is on Sunday’s undercard, opposing Juan Tapia (8-3) in a contest scheduled for six rounds. This bout, indeed the full card, will be streamed on ESPN+.

The co-features to Conlan-Hernandez are a 10-round welterweight match between veterans Luis Collazo, a former world title holder, and Samuel Vargas, and a 6-round flyweight match pitting Belfast’s Paddy Barnes (5-1) against Oscar Mojica (11-5-1) from Dallas.

Like the aforementioned Katie Taylor, Paddy Barnes, a two-time Olympian, had a storied amateur career. Turning pro at age 29, his backers decided to move him fast and did him no favors. After only five pro fights, he was thrust into a title fight against Nicaragua’s Cristofer Rosales, the WBC champion, and found himself in over his head. Rosales took him out with a wicked body punch in the fourth round. On Sunday he steps back several steps on the ladder as he begins the next phase of his career.

This being a Sunday, Top Rank’s Saint Patrick’s Day show has an early start. The first undercard bout is slated to begin at 3 p.m. ET with the first of the three main fights going off at 6 p.m. ET. The ESPN+ app costs $4.95 per month with a 7-day free trial. Launched 11 months ago, the live-streaming platform reportedly has more than 2 million paid subscribers.

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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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