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Avila Perspective, Chap. 46: Tragedy After Big Fight, Ruben Villa and More

David A. Avila

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Ruben Villa

It’s with great sadness that I report the loss of 13 people who departed from Las Vegas and apparently died when the private chartered jet they boarded went down over Mexico on Sunday. Most of them reportedly had attended the Saul “Canelo” Alvarez fight with Daniel Jacobs at T-Mobile Arena last Saturday.

Canelo issued a statement via Twitter about the victims of the tragedy expressing his sorrow.

Boxing fans are unique in my opinion. They save their money, plan trips or events around the sport of prizefighting, and gleefully share the moments with anyone who cares.

Just recently I’ve come to realize that I love people who love boxing. Whether it’s the fighters, trainers, managers, promoters, matchmakers, condition coaches or the millions of men and women who love watching prizefighting, I truly consider all of them my people.

From Australia to Zimbabwe the sport of boxing exists and the people involved or who support it, well they’re my kind of people. They are usually passionate, understanding, and open-minded of all races, religions and nationalities.

Join me in giving a toast to those fans who journeyed to Las Vegas to see an epic fight not knowing they would never return home. We will remember you.

Another day of remembrance occurred on May 7th when Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo set the sports world on fire with their classic encounter in 2005. It remains my favorite fight of all time. I will never forget being in the audience as a journalist and watching these two warriors give their heart and soul inside the prize ring that night at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Sadly, two years later on the exact same day, May 7th, Corrales passed away after crashing on his motorcycle. It remains a heartbreaking moment for me. I had shared chats and broken bread with Corrales on occasion. He was warm, unpretentious and always willing to sit down and talk about boxing. He also loved his sweets. I had never met anyone who liked desserts more than “Chico.” He would down eight pieces of cake in 10 minutes and then go back for more.

Boxing people are the best.

Thompson Boxing

Those fans living outside of Southern California may not be familiar with Thompson Boxing Promotions, but they are the pocket-size battleship of the boxing industry. They aren’t very big, but they do pack a wallop.

Two weeks ago their fighter Danny “Baby Face Assassin” Roman unified the WBA and IBF super bantamweight titles with a fantastic battle against Ireland’s outstanding TJ Doheny. Check that fight out on DAZN.

On Friday May 10, Thompson Boxing unravels two more of its young stars at Corona, Calif. on a boxing card that will be televised on Showtime.

Ruben Villa (14-0, 5 KOs) meets Luis Alberto Lopez (17-1, 8 KOs) of Mexicali, Mexico in the main event at Omega Products International. It’s the Salinas, California featherweight’s second appearance on Showtime.

Villa (pictured) has a flashy southpaw style that allowed him to run right through Ruben Cervera and hand the undefeated fighter his first loss this past January. Now he gets Lopez who won the WBO International featherweight title this past February.

It’s a tough fight on paper.

“I want to be able to say I fought the best and beat the best,” said Villa, 22, a two-time national Golden Gloves champion as an amateur.

Also on the same card, Michael Dutchover (12-0, 9 KOs) meets Chile’s Ramon Mascarena Jr. (10-0, 5 KOs) in a battle between undefeated lightweights.

Dutchover, 21, trains in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. but is actually from Texas. This is a big test for the lightweight in facing Mascarena who has never fought outside of Chile. No one knows what he brings to the table but he is the Chilean National champion. But with Dutchover, fans know he’s aggressive and willing to engage. It should be action-packed.

Another on the same card will be Petr Petrov (39-6-2) who fights Ruben Tamayo (27-12-4) in a lightweight clash.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and information call (714) 935-0900.

Top Rank in Tucson, Arizona

A heavy duty fight card showcases two world title fights that are doozies. You can watch both on ESPN on Saturday May 11.

First, WBC super featherweight titlist Miguel Berchelt (35-1) fights former champion Francisco Vargas (25-1-2) in a rematch. The last time they met Berchelt took the title from Vargas who had been involved in numerous bloody battles.

Their first encounter took place two years ago. Now, Berchelt, 27, is a heavy favorite to repeat the bloody beating he gave Vargas back in January 2017. Since that fight the Cancun, Mexico fighter has battered four opponents with three not going the distance. He seems to be getting better.

Vargas, 34, only has that loss to Berchelt on his resume. He was involved in the Fight of the Year against Japan’s Takashi Miura in 2015. The Mexico City prizefighter has never been in a boring fight. He’s like the Red Cross, he always gives blood when he fights. Usually, it’s his own blood. But he loves to throw punches and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Another world title fight pits Isaac Dogboe against the guy who took his WBO super bantamweight world title away from him – Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete.

Dogboe (20-1, 14 KOs) was confidently enjoying his world title belt when he met long-armed Navarrete (26-1, 22 KOs) who specializes in beating up the shorter guys. That was last December in New York City. This time both are fighting in Tucson, Arizona were Navarrete will have a sort of hometown advantage. It’s a mere two hours away from the Mexican border.

Whoever wins this fight will probably get a crack at Danny Roman who holds the WBA and IBF versions.

Both title fights take place at the Convention Center in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday.

Super Welters

Now that Canelo Alvarez has left the premises, the search for the next super welterweight kingpin begins.

Jarrett Hurd (23-0, 16 KOs) defends the IBF and WBA super welterweight titles against Julian “J-Rock” Williams (26-1-1, 16 KOs) on Saturday May 11, in Fairfax, Virginia. FOX will televise the encounter and several other notable fights.

The last time Hurd entered the boxing ring was in a supporting role in Los Angeles on the undercard of Deontay Wilder versus Tyson Fury. On that December night at the Staples Center, the tall and awkward fighting Hurd allowed Britain’s Jason Welborn to take the initiative and coolly assessed his skills. Then he lowered the boom with a body shot and that was that.

Williams fights out of Philadelphia and only has a loss to one of the Charlo brothers, Jermall. He never saw the punch coming. Since that loss he’s racked up several wins to get back a shot at a title.

Another bout on the card features super lightweights Mario Barrios (23-0, 15 KOs) meeting Argentina’s Juan Jose Velasco (20-1, 12 KOs) in a 10 round affair.

It’s a very tough match for Barrios who has slowly been passing all the tests one by one. Velasco was last seen providing WBA and WBC titlist Regis Prograis a tough time for eight rounds until he succumbed to the pounding given by the New Orleans slugger.

If Velasco, 32, still has something left, he could give Barrios a struggle.

Barrios, 23, not only has power but good speed. The San Antonio fighter could be headed for an eventual showdown with Prograis. Saturday will shed some light on his abilities.

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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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