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The Avila Perspective, Chap. 45: Looking Back at Danny Roman, Vegas Notes and More

David A. Avila

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Danny Roman

Traffic congestion in Los Angeles rates among the worst in the world. Yet, those who struggled through murderous traffic to see last week’s fight card on a late Friday afternoon were rewarded with the top boxing card this year.

It was a thriller.

Except for one dud, the entire Forum fight card showcased enough action to make frustrated drivers forget the crunching L.A. traffic nightmares to get to Inglewood. One major drawback was the $30 parking cost. What the..?

But the multiple championship fights, especially the super bantamweight and super flyweight world title fights, were blazing.

The L.A. area finally has another local hero in Danny “The Baby Face Assassin” Roman. His super bantamweight world title unification match with Ireland’s TJ Doheny probably woke up the ghosts of past champions who fought there.

First, anytime you match a Mexican against an Irishman you are going to get the real deal. I’m sure the late Don Chargin was watching from above and smiling at the matchup. In his days at the Olympic Auditorium he would often pit Irish fighters like Frankie Crawford and Art Hafey against Mexican pugilists such as Bobby Chacon and Ruben Olivares. They were guaranteed to light up the arena.

Roman (on the left) and Doheny did not disappoint. It was like watching the Academy Awards for prizefighting and these two 122-pounders delivered every ounce of guts into their performance. It was perfectly amazing.

It’s what fans truly want. They want to be amazed and inspired and they got it from Doheny who rose from two knockdowns and from Roman who was reeling from those rocket lefts delivered from the Irish fighter. This was prizefighting at its best.

The Matchroom Boxing card assisted by Thompson Boxing Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions put their heads together and amassed one of the most thrilling fight shows I’ve seen in years.

Believe me. The several thousand fight fans that tortured themselves driving across town to watch this card will do it again and bring their friends. And those fans watching on DAZN, more than got their money’s worth.

So what’s next?

Las Vegas

The once boxing capital of the world has been relegated to two big weekends a year now. Some blame the Nevada State Athletic Commission for making it difficult to stage big fights and others blame the promoters who refuse to match their top fighters against each other.

Cinco de Mayo weekend remains a big time of the year for boxing and here comes Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs in a middleweight unification match at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday May 4.

Unification is in the air and that’s a good thing for boxing fans.

Nobody wants multiple world champions in the same weight class. Fans can’t remember the true champion nowadays and that’s a bad thing. Imagine baseball fans not knowing who won the World Series.

“Every single one of my fights is important. Every single fight marks history for me. It’s another check. (Jacobs) is the second best middleweight in the world, so it’s another step in that direction, to keep writing my history,” said Alvarez.

Canelo has risen to the top of the boxing world but it’s a tenuous hold. In Mexico he’s loved and hated simultaneously and that spells big numbers in viewership. Jacobs has a decent following but nothing compared to Canelo. Can he attract viewers to DAZN’s fan base remains the big question.

“It’s the biggest fight that can be made, especially at the middleweight division. I’m looking forward to displaying great skill Saturday night and I’m looking forward to being victorious,” said Jacobs.

One other intriguing match on Saturday’s T-Mobile card features young power-hitter Vergil Ortiz facing veteran Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera in a super lightweight clash set for 10 rounds. Both fighters train in different parts of Riverside, Calif. which has become boxing central for the area known as the Inland Empire which is east of Los Angeles County.

It’s new school versus old school once again.

Ortiz (12-0, 12 KOs) has never won by decision. All of his previous foes have been stopped before the final round. He’s 12 for 12 when it comes to knockouts. The lean tall Texan trains with Robert Garcia in the hills of Riverside. He has power in both fists and stamina to boot. If he wore a black hat he would be the villain, but in actuality he’s a nice kid with musical talent. He plays a mean guitar when not busting heads.

“I’m definitely one of the hardest workers in boxing, and May 4, it’s going to show. I’m not going to get tired. I’m going to show that I can go even more rounds,” said Ortiz about fighting a veteran like Herrera.

Herrera (24-8) trains in other Riverside hills nearby and has been fighting world champions since his third year as a professional. Despite fighting world beaters like “Mighty Mike” Anchondo, Ruslan Provodnikov, Mike Alvarado and Danny “Swift” Garcia, he has never been stopped. Most experts swear he defeated Garcia back in March 2014 in Puerto Rico and should have been wearing those world title belts. It’s one of the most egregious decisions ever rendered. They don’t call Herrera “El Maestro” for nothing. He’s slick, smart and tough as they come.

“It doesn’t mean nothing, it doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t care what he does. It’s what I’m going to do. I don’t care about his record,” said Herrera, 38. “I just want to go out there and give it my best and give a good fight to the crowd and come out with a win.”

Last weekend a similar matchup in women’s prizefighting took place with undefeated Selina Barrios losing to veteran fighter Melissa Hernandez. Will history repeat again this week?

It should be a very interesting match between Ortiz and Herrera.

Hard Rock Hotel

Golden Boy Promotions has a boxing card featuring mostly middleweights at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Thursday May 2. Doors open at 2 p.m.

Canada’s Steven Butler (26-1-1) meets Vitalii Kopylenko (28-1) of Ukraine in a middleweight clash set for 10 rounds on the main event.

Butler, 23, fights out of Montreal and needs a win to move up the ladder to contention. Kopylenko, 35, trains in Oxnard and needs a win to stay relevant in the prizefighting world. Something has got to give.

Also on the fight card is local fighter Francisco Esparza (9-0-1) in a 10-round featherweight fight with Aram Avagyan (8-0-1) for the WBC Silver title. It’s Avagyan’s first fight outside of Russia.

Stockton

An IBF super flyweight world title fight between champion Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2) of the Philippines and Japan’s Ryuichi Funai (31-7) will be held Saturday May 4, at the Stockton Arena in Stockton, California. The Top Rank fight card will be streamed on ESPN+.

Ancajas, 27, a southpaw, fought to a draw in his last fight against Alejandro Barrios at the Oracle Arena in Oakland last September. Funai, 33, is getting his first shot at a world title and is fighting for the first time outside of Japan. It should be interesting.

Battles between the Philippines and Japan are always pretty intense.

Fallen Fighter

Izaac Colunga, 25, is still recovering from a gunshot wound incurred more than a month ago while at a party in Riverside, Calif. The tragedy took place on March 3. The super featherweight prospect was attending a party and sitting inside a home when someone riding outside in a car shot into the house where people were gathered. Colunga was hit by the gunfire and immediately taken to a nearby hospital. Currently he is in a rehabilitation center in Colorado. He just had his birthday yesterday on April 30.

Colunga was part of famed trainer Robert Garcia’s team and had recently fought in San Bernardino on Mikey Garcia’s first boxing card. He won by first round knockout. Now the Colunga family seeks helps with his hospital costs. A Go Fund Me page has been created for those wishing to contribute: https://www.gofundme.com/team-colunga

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Looking at the Heavyweight Calendar (Odds Review)

Miguel Iturrate

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Joshua vs Ruiz

This past Saturday night saw Deontay Wilder’s WBC world heavyweight title defense against Dominic Breazeale go down on Showtime. The fight lasted just 137 seconds as Wilder floored Breazeale with a cannonball of a right hand to end the night early.

With Wilder out of the way, Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr is up next. They meet June 1st at Madison Square Garden. Two weeks later, on the 15th of June, ESPN+ will deliver Tyson Fury vs Tom Schwarz, so fight fans will get a look at all three members of the “Big Three” all in a month’s time.

Wilder’s erasure of Breazeale this past weekend sent a message to the rest of the division as well as giving him a highlight reel to show during upcoming negotiations. Wilder entered a strong -1000 favorite at the sportsbooks for this fight.

Check out our pre-fight review of the Wilder vs Breazeale odds right here at TSS –

http://tss.ib.tv/boxing/featured-articles/57588-wilder-vs-breazeale-odds-review

Looking forward, the odds posted for Joshua and Fury’s upcoming tussles are even less competitive. Let’s take a look at what the books are giving us as we await the two big Brits fighting in the USA.

Madison Square Garden – New York City – Saturday, June 1, 2019

Heavyweight 12 rounds –

Andy Ruiz Jr +1500 Over 6½ +100

Anthony Joshua -3000 Under 6½ -130

Ruiz Jr is 32-1 overall with his lone loss coming at the hands of Joseph Parker in a failed WBO world title bid. That same WBO belt is now in the hands of Joshua as are the WBA and IBF belts.

Joshua was a big favorite over Jarrell Miller, his original opponent, who was denied a license in New York after testing positive for a buffet of steroids. Ruiz Jr took the fight with less than a full training camp, but you have to believe that he is going to come in highly motivated. Ruiz Jr has been caught at a different type of buffet, the all-you-can-eat kind, but even when in the best of shape his body type isn’t “poster boy material.” Miller was big and bulky as well, but he was a near 300 pounder whereas Ruiz Jr will come in between 250 and 260 pounds, which is right around Joshua’s size. Rather than slaying a 300-pound giant, he is facing a guy who is shorter and fatter than him, making it very hard for Joshua to look great on paper.

At +1500 will people bite on Ruiz Jr? He is more experienced than Miller and he is probably a better fighter overall and though he is facing a formidable champion, Joshua is not a finished product. Perhaps Joshua will be chasing an early finish, feeling the pressure of Wilder’s performance, and if so will he make a mistake that Ruiz can exploit? We are roughly 10 days from finding out.

MGM Grand Garden – Las Vegas, Nevada – Saturday, June 15, 2019

Heavyweight 12 rounds –

Tom Schwarz +1800 Over 9½ -105

Tyson Fury -3600 Under 9½ -125

Tyson Fury closes out the run of top heavyweights with a very deliberately chosen showcase fight against Tom Schwarz. Schwarz is 24 years old and 24-0 but he is a fighter who has come up on the regional German scene and as the old boxing cliche goes, there are levels to this game.

Former contender David Haye mounted a 2016 comeback, booking fights against Mark De Mori (30-1-2) and Arnold Gjergjaj (29-0). It took Haye precisely 6:42 to dispose of both of them, and though Fury is a completely different beast than Haye, the level difference between he and Schwarz may be even as striking.

Wilder has gotten through his “challenge” and if Fury and Joshua also emerge as winners as expected, it will leave several open questions –

– Will Fury vs Wilder 2 happen first, or will Wilder vs Joshua go down first? Could Joshua and Fury meet and freeze Wilder out?

And….

– Will we see any of these fights take place in 2019?

If Joshua or Fury stumble, it will only add to the chaos in the heavyweight division. But if the professional oddsmakers know anything, it isn’t likely to happen.

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Three Punch Combo: An Early Look at Inoue-Donaire and Under the Radar Fights

Matt Andrzejewski

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Inoue vs Donaire

THREE PUNCH COMBO — This past Saturday, Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16 KO’s) punched his ticket to the bantamweight final in the World Boxing Super Series when he impressively knocked out Emmanuel Rodriguez in the second round of their scheduled 12-round fight. The win sets up a showdown with veteran Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26 KO’s) who punched his ticket to the final with an impressive knockout of Stephon Young last month.

As expected, Inoue has opened as a monstrous favorite in the betting markets. While this suggests a one-sided wipeout, I have some other thoughts.

Inoue is pound for pound one of, if not the, hardest puncher in the sport today and put that power on full display in his destruction of Rodriguez in the semi-finals. But having enormous power does not make him indestructible.

In watching that fight against Rodriguez, there were clearly flaws on display on the defensive side of Inoue’s game. For one, Inoue does not move his head at all and as such can be hit. Rodriguez landed several clean punches on Inoue in the first round. And Inoue frequently keeps his hands low looking to bait opponents into throwing to set up counter opportunities. It has worked so far but could be something he pays for down the road.

Donaire is a smart and skilled fighter and though he is 36, his last few fights have shown that he still has plenty left in the tank. Moreover, he possesses one thunderous left hook and has always been at his best when fighting below 122. He has all the capabilities to expose Inoue’s flaws and a left hook that can alter the course of a fight as we have seen him doing plenty of times in the past.

Unlike a lot of people, I do not consider Donaire to be another layup for Inoue. There is real danger in this fight for Inoue if he does not make changes to his game. Donaire has starched big punching rising stars before and I would not discount his chances to expose the significant defensive flaws in Inoue’s game.

 Under The Radar Fight

Boxing returns to ESPN on Saturday with a card from Kissimmee, FL headlined by 130- pound champion Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13 KO’s) who is making the second defense of his title against former US Olympian Jamel Herring (19-2, 10 KO’s). While I think this should be an excellent fight, the co-feature, which is flying deep under the radar, should be even better.

In this fight, former two division world champion Jose Pedraza (25-2, 12 KO’s) makes his return to the ring after losing his lightweight title to Vasiliy Lomachenko in December to face Antonio Lozada (40-2-1, 34 KO’s). Given their respective styles, this fight at the very least will provide plenty of sustained action.

Appropriately nicknamed “The Sniper,” Pedraza at his best is a precision puncher. A boxer-puncher by trade, he uses subtle movement inside the ring to create angles that are used to land sharp power shots on his opposition. He is also a very good inside fighter and will shift around on the inside to once again set up just the right angle to land his power shots with maximum efficiency. But despite being a good inside fighter, Pedraza has a tendency to stay in the pocket a bit too long which leaves him open to getting hit.

Lozada is best known for his upset TKO win against one-time blue-chip prospect Felix Verdejo in March of 2018. However, he failed to build momentum off that win and is coming off a lackluster split draw his last time out to 12-7-1 journeyman Hector Ruben Ambriz Suarez.

Lozada certainly does not have the technical proficiency of Pedraza. He is slow and plodding. But what he does bring to the table is relentless pressure combined with a high volume of punches. He will press forward, recklessly at times, winging punches consistently hoping to wear down his opposition through attrition.  As such, he tends to get hit a lot and can be involved in shootouts.

Cleary, Pedraza is the more skilled fighter, but given Lozada’s all-offensive mindset as well as Pedraza’s willingness to stay in the pocket, the leather is all but guaranteed to be flying from the opening bell. Neither are big punchers either so I suspect we see a fight that goes rounds providing many exciting exchanges and one that could certainly steal the show on Saturday.

Another Under The Radar Fight

Also on Saturday, Fox Sports 1 will televise a card from Biloxi, MS featuring a crossroads fight between former 154-pound champion Austin Trout (31-5, 17 KO’s) and former US Olympian Terrell Gausha (21-1, 10 KO’s). But it is another 154-pound fight on the undercard that is receiving almost no coverage that I want to highlight. It pits Chordale Booker (14-0, 7 KO’s) against Wale Omotoso (27-3, 21 KO’s).

Booker turned pro in 2016 after a successful amateur career and has kept up a fairly busy schedule. He is coming off a dominating 8-round unanimous decision over veteran Juan De Angel in January and now is taking a big jump up in his caliber of opposition in facing Omotoso.

Booker, a southpaw, likes to press forward behind a stinging right jab. He possesses elite level hand speed and likes to use that jab to set up quick power punching combinations. Booker is also an excellent counter puncher and possesses a very potent right hook coming from that southpaw stance. He will often hold his left low to bait his opponents into opening up to set up counter opportunities. However, he has also been clipped by his share of left hooks fighting in this manner and this is something he will need to tighten up against Omotoso. So just how will Booker respond to Omotoso’s pressure and heavy handed body attack? Depending on the answer, we will either see Booker step up to the next level or get exposed. And that’s what makes this fight so intriguing to me

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Serhii Bohachuk KOs Mexico’s Freddy Hernandez in Hollywood

David A. Avila

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in Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.-Super welterweight prospect Serhii Bohachuk got his first taste of upper tier boxing from Mexico’s Freddy Hernandez and gave him his best Sunday punch to win by knockout.

Bohachuk (14-0, 14 KOs) showed the excited Hollywood crowd he’s more than ready for former world title challengers like Hernandez (34-11, 22 KOs) or maybe even the current contenders with an exuberant display of pressure fighting at the Avalon Theater.

The smiling Ukrainian fighter has been steadily attracting fans to the 360 Promotions fight cards.

Trained by Abel Sanchez, the lanky and pale Bohachuk – whose nickname “El Flaco” fits perfectly – always moved forward against Mexico City’s Hernandez who has made a reputation of being crafty despite the strength of competition. With Bohachuk constantly applying pressure the Mexican fighter used the first round to touch and feel his way around the Ukrainian bomber.

In the second round a sharp counter right floored Hernandez who quickly got up and resumed the contest. It looked like the end was near until Hernandez caught Bohachuk with a solid right cross. It was a warning shot well heeded by Bohachuk.

Both fighters exchanged vigorously in the third round with the Ukrainian fighter’s youth a definite advantage. Hernandez was able to display his fighting tools more effectively in the third round but could it be enough?

Bohachuk was clearly the heavier-handed fighter but was finding it difficult to connect solidly against the Mexican veteran. But in the fifth round Bohachuk lowered his gun sights and targeted the body with a left hook that dropped Hernandez.  The fight was stopped by referee Wayne Hedgepeth at 1:40 of the fifth round.

Other Bouts

A battle of super featherweights saw Rialto, California’s Adrian Corona (5-0) rally from behind to defeat Florida’s Canton Miller (3-3-1) by split decision after six rounds.

Corona had problems with Miller’s speed in the first two rounds and was unable to track the moving fighter’s direction. But in the third round Corona began to apply more aggressive measures against Miller and was especially effective with lead rights. The momentum changed quickly.

Miller switched from orthodox to southpaw and it served to pause Corona’s momentum, but he seldom scored with solid blows. Though Miller landed quick soft blows, Corona was landing with strong shots and convinced two of the three judges that he was the winner by 58-56 twice. A third judge saw Miller the victor by the same score 58-56.

“It’s not my job to judge the judges,” said Miller. “It’s my job to just fight.”

Corona was happy with the victory.

“I could have put the pressure on him a little more,” said Corona. “It was a very technical fight and he put on a great fight.”

Other Bouts

George Navarro (6-0-1, 2 KOs) knocked out Cesar Sustaita (3-5) with a perfect overhand right that disabled the senses and forced referee Raul Caiz Jr. to halt the fight at 1:37 of the first round.

“I worked hard to prepare for this fight,” said Navarro.

A super bantamweight clash saw Humberto Rubalcava (10-1, 7 KOs) knock out Daniel Constantino (3-3-2) and win by knockout after a flurry of a dozen blows went unanswered. Referee Angel Mendez stopped the battering at 1:39 of the first round.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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