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Bernard Fernandez



In a purely boxing sense, Johnny Tapia’s greatest victory was his July 18, 1997, points nod over fellow Albuquerque fighter Danny Romero. His worst defeat would have to be the first fight he ever lost as a pro, to Paulie Ayala on June 26, 1999, a somewhat controversial decision which was replicated, and even more hotly disputed, in their rematch on Oct. 7, 2000.

But many boxers understand that the toughest fights don’t always take place in the ring. Life on the street can be daunting, and even more so when daily battles continue inside someone’s mind, against unseen demons that intrude with such regularity that they become so much harder to conquer than any flesh-and-blood human being in the opposite corner.

As a fighter, Johnny Tapia was so driven that he could not abide even the notion of defeat. As a child and then as a man, he could not escape the memory of the murder/rape of his mother, a traumatic event which so tortured him that he sought relief from cocaine, which only worked until he required the next high that would again allow him to escape from reality.

In “Tapia,” which makes its debut Tuesday (TONIGHT) at 11 p.m. EST on HBO, viewers again see the many sides of Johnny Tapia, a five-time world champion in three weight classes who was just 45 when his tortured heart finally gave out on May 27, 2012. In 60 compelling minutes, during which Tapia and his steadfast manager-wife, Teresa, tell their stories of public triumph and personal tragedy, viewers will come to understand, as much as possible, the forces that prompted one man’s frequent journeys to hell and back. The good Johnny – devoted husband, loving father of three sons, fierce competitor inside the ropes – was a fleeting presence in the lives of those he cared about, often replaced by a drug-addled stranger whose addiction proved stronger than the more admirable shadings of his nature.

“I was a broken puzzle, ready to be fixed,” Tapia, his voice anguished, says of Teresa’s refusal to give up on him, when arguably the sensible and prudent thing would have been for her to run away as far and as fast as she could. “I have put her through hell more than anybody. She went through all the downs I went through, and she went through all the ups that I had. She should have left a long time ago, but she knew that there was a better Johnny in me.”

Perhaps that “better Johnny” would have emerged sooner, and to stay, had his mom, Virginia Tapia Gallegos, decided not to go dancing one fateful night in May 1975. Just eight years old, her son had a premonition that something terrible might happen.

“It was a Friday afternoon,” Tapia recalled. “My momma said that I was going to my grandma’s house ’cause she was going to go dancing. She liked to go dancing on Fridays and Saturdays. I didn’t want her to go. I begged her not to go. And she never came back. “They found some of her jewelry. About three days later, they said she was in the hospital. Four days later they said she was dead. It’s not like she got hit with a car. I wish it would have happened that way, (rather) than her being stabbed 22 times with an ice pick and raped. I still remember waiting at that door for my mom to come and pick me up. Let’s just say I still wait at the front door for her. But she’s never going to come back.”

The heinous crimes that resulted in Virginia’s death went unsolved for 24 years because key evidence against the perpetrator was misplaced, and lingering questions about the case lit a fire inside Tapia that burned hotly the rest of his life. Even when the assailant was identified with enough certainty that he surely would have been convicted, it was too late to bring him to justice; he had been killed by a hit-and-run driver eight years after his unspeakable violation of Tapia’s mother.

“There was a closure, in my heart, in my soul,” Tapia said. “They finally found out. I was kind of pissed off it took so long, so many years when they had the right guy right there.

“I wanted at him first. I was going to hurt him. But he died. A car ran over him three times. Maybe it was for the best. I’d have stabbed the s— out of him like nobody’s business. I still think about him. I would have (spent) the rest of my life in prison, no problem. Just knowing that I got him. Nobody ever touches my momma. I don’t care who you are, what you are, how you are. Nobody puts their hands on my mom. That’s the love of my life. That’s my queen.

“The saddest part of my life is outliving my mother. I tried to kill myself so many times. I always seemed to come back. I struggle with that every day. I want my mom. I can’t have her today.”

Taken in by his grandparents, the young Tapia lived in abject poverty, which often is the breeding ground of elite fighters. His grandfather, a former boxer, was “a real rugged, tough macho man,” according to Tapia, which made it all the easier for him to gravitate toward boxing and the discovery of a natural gift that was fueled in part by pain and rage.

But, even as he turned pro and began to rise in prominence, the meaner streets of Albuquerque – hey, every city has them – began to divert him, with the lure of gangs and drugs that sink their hooks into so many desperate youths.

“The first time I did (cocaine) I was, like, wow,” Tapia said. “I enjoyed it. That’s why I kept doing it. It was my mistress.”

And a most possessive one at that. Tapia was becoming a fixture of televised boxing and nearing a world title shot when he failed his first drug test in June 1990, setting into motion more such positive tests and, eventually, his arrest by Albuquerque police. Another arrest – for threatening to kill a witness in the murder trial of his cousin – came at the same time the New Mexico boxing commission was calling a news conference to announce Tapia’s suspension after he had failed still another drug test, and thus was revoking the conditional boxing license it only recently had granted him.

The raft of legal problems kept Tapia out of boxing for 3½ years, but that didn’t prevent him from fighting. He helped make ends meet by being paid $300 a pop for bloody scraps in which he took on all comers in a seedy bar’s oversized cooler, with almost all rules of pugilistic civility set aside.

Fortunately for Tapia, during his suspension from boxing he met a 20-year-old beauty, Teresa Chavez. They soon married, and it wasn’t long before her own resilience was tested, to the max.

“She was a source of stability for the troubled fighter to grab a hold of,” narrator Liev Schrieber intones. Which was good, because Tapia was anything but stable.

“She didn’t know I was a bad drug addict,” Tapia said. “I hid it from her. A couple of guys told her, `If you want to know where Johnny is, go to the restroom.’ She caught me. She was mad, mad, mad. But she didn’t know the real me. That night, I ended up dying on her. That’s how it started out for her as Teresa Tapia.”

Nine months later, Teresa—who took on the role of her husband’s manager in 1995 — locked him inside their small, rented house to help him quit drugs, cold turkey. For three weeks, he was a basket case, breaking everything in the house. But Teresa didn’t waver.

“She said, `Go ahead and break it. You’re going to fight pretty soon, you’re going to pay for everything.’ She said, `You can break everything, but I’m still going to stay here.’”

Tapia did go on to fight again, and very well, the “Baby-Faced Assassin,” as he was then known, capturing the vacant WBO super flyweight belt from Henry Martinez on an 11th-round stoppage on Oct. 12, 1994, in Albuquerque. There would be many other such good nights within the relative safety of the boxing cocoon, Tapia continuing to excel there even as he occasionally and predictably slipped in his ongoing struggle with cocaine.

Tapia’s re-emergence as Albuquerque’s hometown hero more or less coincided with the rise of another fighter from the same city, Danny Romero, who was seven years younger and cloaked in a squeaky-clean image that had never fit Tapia.

“I was already kicked out of boxing and he was coming up,” Tapia noted. “I was the bad guy, he was the good guy. I did the drugs and went to jail. He did everything good, you know? I came back into boxing, I was taking his spotlight. That’s when he started calling me out.”

It took nearly three years for the Tapia-Romero fight to be made, and when it took place, it was at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas instead of Albuquerque because of fears a venue in New Mexico’s largest city might be disrupted by the presence of gang members who wanted in on the action. With a heavy security presence in the arena, Tapia dispatched Romero in a humdinger of a fight, by scores of 116-112 (twice) and 115-113, in the process claiming Romero’s IBF super flyweight championship to go with the WBO version he already held.

Tapia’s new trainer, Freddie Roach – one of 11 trainers Tapia employed at one time or another – knew all about his troubled past, which, to his way of thinking, made his assignment all the more intriguing.

“He’s one of the greatest fighters in the world today,” Roach said of Tapia. “He’s probably the most exciting fighter in the world today also. He wouldn’t be Johnny Tapia without those demons, I guess. He’s just a strait-laced, real nice guy. He probably wouldn’t be as good as he is.”

But the demons Tapia had always been able to displace on fight night, or at least use to his advantage, deserted him in his first confrontation with Ayala. He entered the ring at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas with a 46-0-2 record, but left with his first “L” and bereft of his WBA bantamweight title.

“I gave it my all,” Tapia said, which obviously was true as that bout, as disappointing as it was to him, was named “Fight of the Year” by The Ring magazine. “Hey, everybody loses. That’s not a problem. But you don’t have to steal it from me.”

Tapia said he was more upset about the loss for Teresa’s sake than for his own. The only place he had never disappointed her was on fight night, and now he had.

“She keeps me going in life,” he said. “She keeps me strong. What I seen in her eyes, I let her down. I have before, quite a few times. But in the ring, I would never do that.”

Shortly after Ayala had smudged his previously undefeated ring record, Tapia had two mental breakdowns, and was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. There were now explanations for his erratic behavior, if not necessarily excuses, but even prescriptions for symptom-alleviating medications could not rid him of his forever-present demons. He was getting older, not better, and, despite being paid a career-high $2 million for his Nov. 2, 2002, bout with Marco Antonio Barrera, he suffered a lopsided, unanimous-decision setback that again sent him careening to the edge of disaster. Another drug overdose left him in a coma. Again, he recovered. But he and Teresa must have sensed there are only so many comebacks anyone can make before that person runs out of miracles.

“Every time I look at Johnny, every minute we spend, I constantly will catch myself memorizing lines on his face and the way that he smiles because I always think that’s the last time I’ll see him,” Teresa said. “I’ve made it a habit, being married to him, not to think of tomorrow. You just don’t.

“And Johnny will tell you, `Never think of tomorrow because it may never come, and don’t think of yesterday because it’s gone. You have to live in today.’ That’s what I’ve learned to do with him.”

Perhaps there is no easily identifiable straw which broke the figurative camel’s back for Tapia, but if there were, it might have come while he was hospitalized after the Barrera fight. Robert Gutierrez, Tapia’s best friend, brother-in-law (he was Teresa’s brother) and nephew (he had married Tapia’s niece) was killed in an automobile accident as he sped to Albuquerque to be at Tapia’s bedside.

“That was my best friend,” a teary Tapia, no longer the “Baby-Faced Assassain,” said of still another heartbreak he had had to endure. “I felt that I killed him because I was in the coma. If I could take all that back, I would … I miss him.”

The heart failure that finally lifted Tapia from his earthly misery came one day after the 37th anniversary of his mother’s death. Call it a coincidence if you will, but the timing of his passing at least suggests that Tapia was simply ready to be greeted at heaven’s gate by the angel who had left him far too soon.

“I think if my mom was alive, I probably would have never fought,” Tapia said of the path onto which circumstances had steered him. It is a theory that can’t be proven, of course, but he leaves this mortal coil with indisputable words of caution for all who might be tempted to make some of the same mistakes he did.

“My message to the kids all over the world is, if you’ve never tried drugs, don’t do it,” he said. “The first time is a mistake, the second time’s a habit. Please, don’t do it.”

Kudos to those who make HBO Sports’ documentaries so compelling – executive producer Rick Bernstein and narrator Liev Schrieber, as well as fellow executive producers Lou DiBella and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and director Eddie Alcazar, who recognized a story that needed telling, and told it well.


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Three Punch Combo: Looking Ahead to the 2020 IBHOF Class and More

Matt Andrzejewski



THREE PUNCH COMBO — Last weekend, the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY, held its annual induction ceremony. Julian Jackson, Donald Curry and James “Buddy” McGirt were enshrined in the modern category. With the 2019 induction weekend now complete, it is now time to look forward to the 2020 class in the modern category.

For those not familiar with the process, each year three boxers are elected in the modern category. No more and no less. The modern category is comprised of fighters who had their last bout no earlier than 1989 and have been retired from the sport for five years. So to be considered for the 2020 ballot, the boxer’s last fight would need to be no later than 2014.

Last year’s class was dominated by holdovers who weren’t elected to the IBHOF the first time they were eligible and appeared on the ballot multiple times before finally getting inducted. We also saw something similar in 2016. But for the class of 2020, we have a strong list of first time eligible candidates and given the current voting criteria it is probable that the class of 2020 will be comprised of fighters from this list.

The five notable first time eligible candidates are Juan Manuel Marquez (56-7-1, 40 KO’s), Sergio Martinez (51-3-2, 28 KO’s), Carl Froch (33-2, 24 KO’s), Jorge Arce (64-8-2, 49 KO’s) and Marcos Maidana (35-5, 31 KO’s).

Of the five, I think Arce and Maidana can safely be eliminated from serious consideration for the class of 2020. They don’t have near the resumes of the other three.

Juan Manuel Marquez (pictured) would seem to be a lock. He is a former multi-division champion who fought in some of the most prominent fights of his era and holds wins against some of the best fighters of his generation. This includes wins over Hall of Famer Marco Antonio Barrera and future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao.

Sergio Martinez is also a lock. The Argentine may have been a late bloomer but he had a dominant four-year middleweight title reign after defeating Kelly Pavlik in 2010 for the title. During this reign he scored an emphatic second round knockout of Paul Williams which avenged a previous loss and won a decisive 12-round decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

I sense there will be some debate regarding Froch but I think he will get the nod his first time around. He is a former 168-pound champion and has an incredibly deep resume that includes wins against many of the best in the division of his era. Of his two losses, one was avenged to Mikkel Kessler and the other was to future first ballot Hall of Famer Andre Ward. The resume just speaks for itself and should be more than enough to earn Froch enshrinement on his first go-around.

Of the holdovers, the two most likely to push Froch for the third and final spot are Rafael Marquez (41-9, 37 KO’s) and Vinny Paz (50-10, 30 KO’s). Marquez garnered a lot of support in his first year of eligibility last year and a lot were surprised when he did not make the final cut. With his brother likely getting inducted this coming year, there could be a push to put the brothers in together. As for Paz, he also picked up some steam last year and seemed to sway more voters to his side.

The Case For Yaqui Lopez

Every year I like to touch upon some fighters who I feel have gone overlooked by IBHOF voters. In past years for example, I have made cases for both Kevin Kelley and Junior Jones. This year, I wanted to go back a little further to a different era and point out a fighter who I think deserves serious consideration in Yaqui Lopez (61-15, 39 KO’s).

Lopez never won a world title and I am quickly reminded of that whenever I bring up his candidacy. He fought in an era that not only did not have an abundance of title belts but also featured some of the all-time greats of the light heavyweight division. Lopez lost two close decisions in world title bids to Hall of Famer Victor Galindez. Lopez also was competitive on two occasions in challenging Matthew Saad Muhammad for his light heavyweight title. Their second fight in 1980 was the Ring Magazine Fight of the Year. And Lopez also gave future Hall of Famer Michael Spinks a test before being stopped in the seventh round.

The losses were competitive to these all-time greats. In any other era Lopez would have been a world champion. But there are yet many good wins on his resume, most notably a sixth round stoppage of Mike Rossman in March of 1978. Six months later, Rossman would knock out the aforementioned Galindez to become the light heavyweight champion.

There is another side to the argument for Lopez. Some people hate when I mention this but entertainment matters when considering candidates qualifications. The floodgates were opened by voters in this regard with the elections of Arturo Gatti and Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and there is no going back. Lopez was not only a very accomplished fighter but one of the most exciting fighters of his era, he was involved in many memorable wars. Add this fact to his resume and Lopez more than meets all the criteria to be inducted into the IBHOF.

Under The Radar Fight

 ShoBox returns on Friday from the WinnaVegas Casino & Resort in Sloan, Iowa with a tripleheader featuring six fighters with a combined record of 91-1. Though I am very interested in all the fights, I am especially interested in the main event, a 154-pound contest between fast rising prospect Sebastian Fundora (12-0, 8 KO’s) and Hector Manuel Zepeda (17-0, 4 KO’s).

Fundora stands 6’7” tall and is appropriately nicknamed “The Towering Inferno.” For a man who stands that tall, he is incredibly athletic and fluid inside the ring. Working from a southpaw stance, Fundora likes to use his height to pepper his opponents from the outside with a sharp right jab. He will work very fluid, heavy handed combinations behind that jab and makes his opposition pay a heavy toll when they attempt to close the distance. And if opponents do manage to get inside, Fundora has shown himself to be a very accomplished fighter at close range.

Defensively, Fundora has some things to clean up. He tends to get involved in exchanges and when he does so will stand straight up with his chin exposed. He’s been clipped clean on a few occasions and that will need to be corrected as he moves up in caliber of competition.

There is not a lot of video available on Zepeda but from what I have seen he is a technically astute fighter. He is a boxer puncher by trade who will use frequent lateral movement working behind the left jab from the orthodox stance. Zepeda likes to be first instead of looking for counters and from the fights I have seen has shown to be a volume puncher. As the record indicates, however, he is not a big puncher.

If Zepeda fights the way that I have seen on video, I think we are going to get a fast paced, good action fight. Fundora is clearly the “A” side here and is supposed to win. But make no mistake, Zepeda can fight and this is a step up in class for Fundora.

This is a classic ShoBox fight in which the “A” side could get pushed and I am very interested to see this one on Friday.

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Will a Canelo Alvarez Trilogy Turn ‘Triple G’ into a Mexican Style Piñata?

Jeffrey Freeman



We’ve all seen the birthday video of some poor kid swingin’ for a strung-up stuffed toy but getting back in the face something other than the expected bounty of candies and treats. Dizzy from being spun around in circles and blindfolded against a moving target, a child is beaten by paper mache. Score one for the much-abused piñata. It can only take so much punishment.

Before it opens up—explodes!

Perhaps that’s 37-year-old Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin now in his single-minded desire to fight world middleweight champion Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez, 28, for a third time following a successful comeback KO of Steve Rolls at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Maybe he’ll bust Canelo’s belly open. Or maybe this time he’ll get busted up? Three strikes in this game; sorry Buster.

“I’m ready. Bring on Canelo,” Golovkin told DAZN’s Chris Mannix after improving to 39-1-1 with 35 big knockouts. “A third fight is more interesting because we both have experience against each other. I come to open up, he comes to open up…the next fight will be amazing for us.”

Their first two title bouts were amazing for fans but they lacked a sense of finality. Neither boxer was ever visibly hurt and there were no knockdowns registered. In two fights, only six points divided the combatants and that includes the despicable 118-110 score from Adalaide Byrd in favor of Canelo in the first meeting. In the rematch, Alvarez was superior—but not by much.

The piñata is still in play.

In his many swings in two HBO-PPV tries against Alvarez, Golovkin came up short of bursting the economic bubble that surrounds Canelo and appears to protect him at all times. Their 2017 contest was ruled a split draw and their 2018 rematch was won by Canelo via majority decision. If Golovkin was cloaked in an aura of invincibility, it was Alvarez who stripped him naked but helped fund a brand-new wardrobe by providing Golovkin with his two biggest paydays by far.

Golovkin’s ability to knock out ordinary fighters and second-tier contenders like Vanes Martirosyan remains intact. The offense looks good. Punches still fly like hatchets. However, GGG’s defense looked third-rate against Rolls and he’s back to taking punches in the face in order to connect with harder punches of his own to end matters early as a “gift” for fans.

New trainer Johnathon Banks wasn’t impressed.

As a student of the late trainer Emanuel Steward and caretaker of his KRONK legacy, ‘Mister Banks’ is a fine human being and an honest man in an industry full of lies told to sell fights.

“It was very uncomfortable for me,” said Banks at the post-fight press conference of having to watch Golovkin, now without Abel Sanchez, take shots he shouldn’t be taking. On the other hand, Canelo’s Golden Boy Promotions promoter Oscar De La Hoya had to like what he saw.

The TSS Truth: The Golovkin who beat Rolls didn’t look ready at all for the Canelo who beat Jacobs. And if you listened carefully to the post-fight breakdown by Banks, the trainer knows it’s true. What’s also true is that as Canelo approaches his peak, Golovkin is approaching age 40.

Can Banks teach Golovkin to correct his mistakes and be better than Alvarez in September—in three months? “If we can grow day to day as trainer and fighter, that can change the outcome.”

I’m not so sure.


After getting his head bobbled around by Rolls before dropping the boom in the fourth, GGG didn’t sound too interested in a New York rematch with Danny Jacobs or a shot at Providence, Rhode Island’s Demetrius Andrade for Boo-Boo’s new WBO trinket—and who can blame him at this point? The only big money fight out there for GGG is still against Canelo Alvarez.

It’s all about his legacy now. Uno mas en Las Vegas. Third times a charm?

As Golovkin gets another year older, his red-headed target grows another year wiser. Canelo’s 24 rounds of experience in the ring with GGG have taught him how to do what nobody else before him could do which was beat Golovkin back and take his unified middleweight titles.

Ask Canelo, as DAZN’s Mannix did, and he’ll say a third fight with Golovkin is unnecessary. “For me, we are done, but if the people want to see it, we can do it again. And I’ll beat him again.”

But can Alvarez finish the job and be the first to finish off Golovkin inside the distance? If he wants to get the critics off his back who insist he received two gifts against Golovkin, he’ll want to. It worked for Andre Ward against Sergey Kovalev but even then fans cried foul over the TKO.

Can Alvarez make GGG quit?

The way Golovkin got hit by Steve Rolls has me wondering if the counterpunching Canelo has been setting him up all along for a trilogy winning knockout of some sort. Is the rock-solid chin of Golovkin finally ready to burst after years of getting whacked at by eager-fisted title challengers?

Canelo is by no means a knockout puncher against fully fleshed out middleweights but he has grown into the 160-pound division very well over time. His recent unanimous decision victory over Danny Jacobs didn’t feature any knockdowns but his win over the ‘Miracle Man’ was more conclusive than was Golovkin’s in 2017. Nobody was claiming afterwards that Jacobs deserved the decision while some still insist that Danny actually beat GGG. If Golovkin is right and both of them open up more in a third fight, Canelo-Golovkin III could exceed expectations.

We’ve all heard the saying: Be careful what you wish for. Because you just might get it!

There wouldn’t be a bigger Big Drama Show in all of boxing than to see the once seemingly invincible Gennady Golovkin dropped and/or stopped by the Mexican Style of Canelo Alvarez.

Boxing Writer Jeffrey Freeman grew up in the City of Champions, Brockton, Massachusetts from 1973 to 1987, during the Marvelous career of Marvin Hagler. JFree then lived in Lowell, Mass during the best years of Irish Micky Ward’s illustrious career. A new member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a Bernie Award Winner in the Category of Feature Under 1500 Words, Freeman covers boxing for The Sweet Science in New England.

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Tyson Fury Blasts Out Germany’s Tom Schwarz in Las Vegas

David A. Avila



Tyson Fury vs Tom Schwarz

LAS VEGAS-In his first Las Vegas show Great Britain’s Tyson Fury showcased a neon light kind of performance with a second round knockout over Germany’s Tom Schwarz to retain the lineal heavyweight world championship on Saturday.

“I came to put on a show for Las Vegas and I hoped everyone enjoyed it,” Fury said.

Though facing an undefeated fighter like himself, Fury (28-0-1, 20 KOs) proved to Schwarz (24-1, 16 KOs) and the more than 9,000 fans at the MGM Grand there are elite levels in the prizefighting world with a quick, decisive knockout victory.

The heavyweight known as the “Gypsy King” had recently signed with Top Rank after giving a riveting and inspiring performance last December against WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder. Both electrified the crowd in Los Angeles and around the world proving the heavyweight division is alive and well.

It had been decades since heavyweights had sparked interest outside of Europe. But Fury and Wilder’s performance proved exciting despite ending in a majority draw after 12 rounds.

On Saturday, Fury met Schwarz and in his first fight in Las Vegas and easily out-classed Schwarz with his ability to use distance, slip punches and basically hit the German fighter with ease, even as a southpaw.

“Key tonight was telling myself to use the jab, and slip to the side,” said Fury.

After a rather tepid first round Fury changed to a southpaw stance and invited Schwarz to try and hit him. In one flurry the German fired a six-punch combination and every blow was slipped by the smiling Fury. He then smoothly slipped around Schwarz and fired his own six punch combination and capped it with a right to the chin that dropped the German to his knees. Schwarz got up and was met with another dozen blows that forced referee Kenny Bayless to end the bludgeoning at 2:54 of the second round. Fury was declared the winner by technical knockout.

“I put on an extra 12 pounds. This time it was only a few months out of the ring and I’m back,” said Fury. “I came here a southpaw and I hoped everybody enjoyed it.”

When asked if a Wilder rematch was on tap Fury was effusive and declared that promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank assured it would be in September or October.

“I’ve never seen promoting like this,” said Fury. “God bless America.”

Once again the heavyweights seem to be the darling division with Fury, Wilder, Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua the leading heavyweights.


Mikaela Mayer (11-0, 4 KOs) started slowly but once she figured out the awkward aggressiveness of Lizbeth Crespo (13-4, 3 KOs) she slipped into overdrive with the right cross and right uppercuts and rolled to victory by unanimous decision after 10 rounds. The former American Olympian retains the NABF super featherweight title.

For the first two rounds Crespo scored well with overhand rights and constant punching. Though Mayer scored with solid left jabs, she was countered by looping rights and lefts that caught the taller American fighter pulling out.

Adjustments were made and by the third round Mayer was staying close and using lethal right hands that boomed off Crespo’s head and body. After charging hard for two rounds those blows suddenly slowed down the Argentine’s attack.

Mayer took over after the third round and kept the momentum going with that lethal right and check left hook. Crespo tried but couldn’t solve the right of Mayer.

After 10 rounds the judges scored it 100-90, 99-91, and 98-92 for Mayer.

“Crespo was a tough challenge, but I got through it and I’m ready to move on to bigger things,” said Mayer. “I am ready for a world title fight next. It’s time for the champions to step up and get in the ring with me.”

Other Bouts

Albert Bell (15-0, 5 KOs) proved a little too slick for Northern California’s Andy Vences (22-1-1, 12 KOs) and won the WBC Continental America’s super featherweight title by unanimous decision after 10 rounds. The scores were all 97-93 for Bell.

WBC International featherweight titlist Isaac Lowe (17-1-3, 6 KOs) won a boring unanimous decision over Wisconsin’s Duarn Vue (14-2-2, 4 KOs) after 10 rounds. Lowe ran and ran some more with occasional pot shots but there were long stretches where it was more a track meet than a prize fight. It was like amateur boxing for 10 rounds. The scores were 98-92, 97-93 and 99-91 for Lowe.

Italian heavyweight Guido “The Gladiator” Vianello (4-0, 4 KOs) showed off agility and power before knocking out Louisiana’s Keenan Hickman (6-4-1, 2 KOs). Vianello, who is trained by Abel Sanchez in Big Bear, floored Hickman three times before the fight was stopped at 2:22 of the second round.

Germany’s Peter Kadiriv (4-0) had no problems with Houston’s southpaw heavyweight Juan Torres (3-2-1) and won every round with a steady lead right and occasional combinations. All three judges scored it 40-36 for Kadiriv.

Philadelphia’s Sonny Conto (3-0, 3 KOs) knocked out Youngstown, Ohio’s Daniel Infante (1-2) with an overhand right at 2:08 of the second round of their heavyweight confrontation. Conto had floored Infante earlier in the round with a seven-punch flurry.

Fight of the Night

In the final fight of the night super middleweights Cem Kelic (14-0, 9 KOs) and Martez McGregor (8-2, 6 KOs) electrified the small audience remaining in the crowd with a memorable slugfest.

Chicago’s McGregor started quick and floored Los Angeles-based Kelic in the first round with a right cross. That was only the beginning.

For the next seven rounds the two 168-pounders blasted each other with blows that would have taken out normal human beings. Both gave super human performances until Kelic connected with a left hook that staggered McGregor forcing referee Tony Weeks to halt the fight at 1:45 of the eighth and final round.

It was truly the best fight of the night.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

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