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The Avila Perspective, Chapter 31: Hollywood Swinging Again and More

David A. Avila

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Hollywood

In a place once famous for staging some of the best entertainment during World War II, prizefighting returns to the saloon of the Hollywood stars.

360 Promotions brings back its boxing series on Sunday Jan. 27, with former titlist Maricela “La Diva” Cornejo (12-3) facing Erin “Steel” Toughill (7-3-1) in the main event at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood. It will be streamed live on www.360promotions.com page.

The last time Cornejo stepped in the boxing ring she battled for the WBC super middleweight world title and lost to Franchon Crews-Dezurn by decision. Since that moment in September 2018, she dropped down to super welterweight at 154 pounds.

“I feel stronger and comfortable,” said Cornejo, 31, who is originally from the state of Washington.

On the opposite corner will be Toughill, who though not boxing since 2006, has been busy in mixed martial arts and fought in 14 MMA bouts. Whether fighting or training throughout the years she’s always been in the gym.

Over the years I’d run into Toughill, especially in Huntington Beach. I remember seeing her fight Laila Ali on TV and Kuulei Kupihea at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello, Calif. She just loved competitive fighting.

It’s been a few years since Toughill has boxed, but she’s someone who fought Dakota Stone and Jacqui Frazier-Hyde the daughter of the great Joe “Smokin” Frazier. Staying in shape was never a problem for the 41-year-old Orange County fighter.

Cornejo, 31, has shifted to Hollywood for training because of involvement in a Hollywood movie with actress Gina Rodriguez. She also teaches boxing to a small group and is training with the father of David Benavidez and Jose Benavidez.

As she worked with about a half dozen students at the City of Angels Boxing Club near downtown L.A. she looked very slim and energetic. Dropping down in weight can be a tricky endeavor but last week boxing fans saw Amanda Serrano drop from 140 to 115 and obliterate an Austrian girl in less than a minute.

Tom Loeffler, the head of 360 Promotions, never staged mismatched fights especially with female bouts. Remember the two upsets by Mexican girls over Louisa Lawton?

“Uninformed people don’t realize how competitive this fight is going to be,” said Loeffler, one of the top promoters in the world. “Erin Toughill is very confident in this fight and she has always stayed active even if she hasn’t been in the boxing ring for a while.”

A number of young guns also fill the fight card at the Avalon including New York’s Brian Ceballo (6-0) meeting Randy Fuentes (8-7-1) in a welterweight clash set for six rounds.

Another youngster set for action is George Navarro (pictured) who lives in nearby Huntington Park but trains at the Wild Card in Hollywood. He’s been fighting for 13 years as both an amateur and professional.

“I just have a passionate love to fight,” says Navarro, 21, who fights at super flyweight but will be at bantamweight for this fight against Anthony Torres of Visalia. “I want to start my own era.”

Years ago Hollywood stars would arrive at the same saloon to raise money for the war. That era has long gone but now stars come to see boxing on a regular basis at the Avalon.

Doors open at 3 p.m. For tickets go to this link: www.360Promotions.us

Riverside Roustabout

An army of fighters are gathering in the hills of Riverside, California for upcoming fights this weekend and the next month when Abner Mares, Jose Carlos Ramirez, and Genaro Gamez and Saul Rodriguez hit the road for ring wars in the next few weeks.

Josesito Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs) spearheads the warrior force that train at Robert Garcia Boxing Academy. Lopez faces WBA welterweight titlist Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) on Saturday Jan. 26, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Fox will televise live.

It’s especially appropriate that the 34-year-old veteran Lopez opens up with his cannons. The Riverside native was one of the first waves of fighters from the area that has grown from two boxing gyms to more than 12 gyms.

Back in the 1990s the city famous for oranges and the historic Mission Inn was still a sleepy town. Guys like Lopez, Chris Arreola and Mark Suarez were part of a wave of young boxers trained by the now departed Andy Suarez at Lincoln Boxing Club.

When Suarez passed away in March 2006 a void was left for a short while but the spark he made at the tiny gym has become a firestorm for prizefighting. Lopez is one of his former students and all of those Suarez disciples were taught to fight with heart or go home.

The skinny as a rail Lopez has always had that easy going demeanor that fools people into thinking he’s a softy. Those that faced him found out otherwise. Nobody ever had an easy fight with Lopez. You can ask Victor Ortiz, Marcos Maidana or Andre Berto if Lopez was an easy touch. He was about as harmless as a lit stick of dynamite.

Years ago, Edwin Valero was the most dangerous man alive. The Venezuelan knocked out 27 out of 27 who faced him. Even in sparring the super featherweight assassin took no pity on people entering the boxing ring. On one particular sparring session Valero knocked out five consecutive opponents within seconds. He could whack and he liked whacking guys unconscious.

Then, they motioned for Josesito Lopez to get in the ring as if sentencing him for electrocution. The skinny Riverside fighter calmly entered through the ropes and methodically sparred two rounds, then four rounds then six rounds with the remorseless Valero. Lopez was the only one not rendered unconscious that day.

Some of you may not know Valero but the super featherweight world champion was one of the most feared fighters in three weight classes. He allegedly committed suicide after killing his wife in 2010.

Lopez has faced killers in and out of the ring. Now after all these years he faces yet another heavy-hitter.

“There are a lot of people that don’t understand the ins and outs and what I bring to the table,” said Lopez. “To a lot of people it’s going to come as a surprise.”

Thurman has been out of action for two years and that can only mean hunger.

“It’s great to be back. I’m looking forward to this fight 22 months in the making,” said Thurman. “It’s going to be a great show and I‘m happy to be here.”

Another Riverside Kid in Action in Houston

Also on Saturday Jan. 26, about 1,630 miles west of Brooklyn, a Golden Boy Promotions fight card features another Riverside trained fighter Vergil Ortiz Jr. (11-0, 11 KOs) fighting Mexican veteran Jesus Valdez Barrayan (23-4-1, 12 KOs) in a super lightweight scrap. DAZN will stream the fight card from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

Ortiz, 20, is a native of Dallas, Texas but trains with Robert Garcia in Riverside. So far the thin framed football loving prizefighter has been stopping guys colder than a blindside shot from a Cowboy safety.

The feature card showcases Mexico’s young super welterweight world champion Jaime Munguia (31-0, 26 KOs) defending the WBO world title against Japan’s Takeshi Inoue (13-0-1, 7 KOs).

Munguia is a long-armed slugger whose best defense is those unpredictable wallops he throws from weird angles at absurd times. He willingly accepts two of yours for one of his in any exchange. So far he’s gambled correctly.

Japan’s Inoue isn’t coming all the way to Texas to lose. Fighters from Japan are in many ways like those from Mexico. They refuse to quit. A number of Japanese fighters have come to America and returned with straps like Masayuki Ito. He did a number on Chris Diaz in Florida and captured the WBO super featherweight title last year.

It’s never a sure thing when it comes to Mexican or Japanese fighters.

Another world title bout on the DAZN card features Puerto Rico’s Jesus M. Rojas (26-2-2, 19 KOs) defending the WBA featherweight strap against China’s Can Xu (15-2, 2 KOs) in a 12 round world title bout.

Last August, Rojas suffered a loss against Jojo Diaz in a riveting slugfest in Los Angeles, Calif. Though he lost the fight, he kept the title because Diaz was overweight and ineligible to fight for the title.

Rojas is a tough customer but has problems with boxers like Xu. But can the Chinese fighter keep Rojas off of him? The Puerto Rican fighter is like a human avalanche; he just keeps coming with blows. DAZN will stream all of the fights live.

Fights to Watch

Jan. 26, Saturday 5 p.m. FOX Keith Thurman vs. Josesito Lopez; Tugstsogt Nyambayar vs. Claudio Marrero; Adam Kownacki vs. Gerald Washington.

Jan. 26, Saturday 6 p.m. DAZN streaming Jaime Munguia vs Takeshi Inoue; Jesus Rojas vs. Can Xu; Vergil Ortiz Jr. vs. Jesus Valdez Barrayan.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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Fast Results From Latvia: Mairis Briedis and the KO Doctor advance in the WBSS

Arne K. Lang

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briedis vs glowacki

The semifinal round of the Wold Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament played out today in Riga, Latvia, the hometown of Mairis Briedis who was matched against Poland’s Krzysztof Glowacki. Both fighters had only one blemish on their ledger and in both cases their lone defeat came at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk.

The fans left happily after Briedis (26-1, 19 KOs) knocked out Glowacki (34-2) in the third frame. But it was messy fight that invites a lot of second-guessing and likely a challenge from the Glowacki camp.

After a feeling-out first round, Briedis cranked up the juice. An errant elbow landed behind Glowacki’s head, putting him on the canvas. For this discretion, Briedis was docked a point. A legitimate knockdown followed — Glowacki was hurt — and then another knockdown after the bell had sounded. The referee could not hear the bell in the din. It was a wild scene.

The fight was allowed to continue, but didn’t last much longer. Coming out for round three, Glowacki wasn’t right and Briedis pounced on him, scoring another knockdown, leading referee Robert Byrd to waive the fight off at the 27 second mark. It wasn’t Byrd’s finest hour.

The tournament organizers anticipated the complication of a draw and assigned extra judges to eliminate this possibility. They did not anticipate the complication of a “no-contest.” If the outcome isn’t overturned, Briedis, a former WBC cruiserweight champ, is the new WBO title-holder.

Dorticos-Tabiti

In the co-feature, Miami-based Cuban defector Yunier Dorticos, nicknamed the KO Doctor, lived up to his nickname with a smashing one punch knockout of previously undefeated Andrew Tabiti. The end for Tabiti came with no warning in round 10. An overhand right left him flat on his back, unconscious. Referee Eddie Claudio didn’t bother to count. The official time was 2:33.

It was easy to build case for Dorticos (24-1, 22 KOs). He was three inches taller than Tabiti, packed a harder punch, and had fought stronger opposition. But it was understood that Tabiti, now 17-1, had a more well-rounded game. Moreover, there were concerns about Dorticos’ defense and stamina.

Dorticos was ahead on the scorecards after nine frames. He rarely took a backward step and let his hands go more freely. And it didn’t help Tabiti’s cause that he was docked a point for holding in the sixth frame. Earlier in that round, an accidental clash of heads left Dorticos with a cut over his right eye. The ringside physician was called into the ring to examine it and let the bout continue.

With the victory, Dorticos became the IBF world cruiserweight champion and moved one step closer to acquiring the coveted Muhammad Ali trophy in what will be, win or lose, the most lucrative fight of his career.

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Angel Ruiz Scores 93 Second KO in Ontario, CA

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Angel Ruiz

(Ringside Report by Special Correspondent Tarrah Zeal) ONTARIO, CA – “Path to Glory” featured some of Southern California’s hottest prospects carving their image into the boxing world through the Thompson Boxing Promotions platform at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, CA Friday night.

Undefeated welterweight prospect Angel Ruiz (14-0, 11 KO) of Maywood, CA finished veteran Miguel Zamudio (43-13-1, 27 KO) from Los Mochis, Mexico with an impressive stoppage at 1:33 in the first round scheduled for eight.

At 21 years young, Ruiz (pictured) came into the night with four KO wins in his last four bouts and looking to continue his streak. A second-round body shot win over Gerald Avila (8-17-3) on May 10th and first round KO win against Roberto Almazan (8-9) just this year.

Ruiz was just getting started in the ring using his long distance and power punches to punish Zamudio.

Twenty seconds into the opening round, Ruiz’ mouthpiece went flying out and a timeout was called. Once the mouthpiece was placed back in, Ruiz administered a quick flurry of punches but with no exchange from Zamudio, referee Raul Caiz stepped in and stopped the main event fight.

After the fight interview Ruiz was asked about what he saw in the fight, “I see this guy. He wants to fight. He was trying to fight but I’m too hard. I got you.” Ruiz said. “I feel ready. I want to fight with the best.”

With 89 amateur bouts under his belt, although not signed with any promoters, Ruiz is verbally challenging Vergil Ortiz, “Vergil if you see this video, remember me”.

Brewart

In he co-main event, a six round junior middleweight bout, Richard “Cool Breeze” Brewart (6-0, 2 KO) of Rancho Cucamonga, CA won a unanimous decision over Antonio “El Tigre” Duarte (2-1) of Tijuana, Mexico.

Brewart was coming into the fight looking like the faster, more technical fighter of the two. Duarte over-telegraphed all of his punches, allowing Brewart to use his overhand right and awesome agility to angle out of reach.

Even after Duarte checked Brewart on the chin with a strong punch, Brewart’s power punches always ended the rounds. The judges scored the bout 60-54 twice and 59-55 for Brewart.

Other Bouts

A victorious unanimous decision at the end of a six-round toe-to- toe bantamweight fight was given to Mario “Mighty” Hernandez, (8-1-1, 3 KO) of Santa Cruz, CA over lefty Victor “Lobo” Trejo Garcia (16-11-1, 8 KO) from Mexico City, Mexico.

Continuous hard punches were exchanged from both brawlers starting at the bell of round one. Fans were excited after a flurry of punches and then a clear push from Hernandez sent Trejo to the floor at the end of round three, giving the crowd excitement for the coming rounds.

It deemed to be a bit of a challenge for both, as orthodox Hernandez managed to match southpaw Trejo’s overhand right punches with his own in response. After six rounds of continuous action two judges scored the bout 57-56 and one 59-54 for Hernandez.

In what would be an exciting and entertaining four-round heavyweight bout, Oscar Torrez (6-0, 3 KO) from Riverside, CA took on Allen Ruiz (0-2) of Ensenada, Mexico.

A surprising uppercut from Ruiz, in the beginning of round one, put Torrez on the canvas and every eye in the room were all fixated on both brawlers. The look in Torrez’ eyes were more calculated, as he was careful from then on.

Wild punches were being thrown from Ruiz without fear of repercussion, but then a quick liver shot from Torrez sent him to his knees. After a couple of seconds to adjust back into the bout, Ruiz was then checked again by left hook to the chin knocking out his mouthpiece. There were 20 seconds left in round two and the round ended with no mouthpiece.

Torrez showed he was stronger and the more technical fighter and finally ended the bout by KO with a right hook to Ruiz’s body at 1:08 in the third round.

Jose “Tito” Sanchez, a rising featherweight prospect with two knockouts in his first two fights and training under star trainer Joel Diaz, out of Indio, CA, took on veteran Pedro “Pedroito” Melo (17-20-2, 8 KO). Even with his low experience in the professional boxing world, Sanchez showed his maturity in the ring by controlling the fight when following Melo around the ring and landing clean left hooks and powerful body shots. After four rounds Sanchez won by 40-36 on all three cards.

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Is the UFC Purchasing Premier Boxing Champions?

Miguel Iturrate

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UFC Purchasing PBC?

Several news outlets are reporting that the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s parent company Endeavor is in talks with Al Haymon to purchase the Premier Boxing Champions. The deal is far from happening and will be complicated if it is completed. Let’s look at some of the details.

Dana White has been the face of the UFC since the brand was purchased by Zuffa in 2001 and over the years he has repeatedly hinted about invading the world of boxing. In his early days as the UFC’s head honcho, White even challenged his biggest star, Tito Ortiz, to a boxing match. The match never happened but to this day White will tell you he would have beaten Ortiz in a fight under Queensberry rules.

In more recent years the UFC co-promoted the Conor McGregor versus Floyd Mayweather Jr match and White, although he would vehemently deny it, also had to have at least tacitly approved of Oscar De LaHoya’s promotion of the third bout between Ortiz and his rival Chuck Liddell. That match-up was likely assessed by White this way: “If Oscar wants to promote MMA let him lose his money,” but he didn’t stand in the way of De La Hoya and his Golden Boy Promotions.

White’s name has also come up in connection with Anthony Joshua. White is said to have had a huge offer ready for the then heavyweight champion, but he backed off when the realization hit that he could not make matches for Joshua in the way he is accustomed because he had no roster of potential opponents. However, White has been insistent that the UFC will “100 percent get into boxing.”

Under new owners Endeavor, White cannot operate like he did under old owners Zuffa, but if the deal goes down it is likely because White crafted some type of long term vision that he sold to Endeavor co-founder and CEO Ari Emanuel (pictured).

When Endeavor purchased the UFC in July of 2016 for a reported $4.05 billion, White agreed to guide the company for at least five more years, of which roughly two are up.

On the flipside, it is difficult to see Al Haymon relinquishing control of PBC. More than likely Haymon would stay in charge of the PBC wing and Endeavor would serve as a cash cow to keep what he has built going.

Haymon must stay aboard for another reason, though few will say it. The reason is ethnicity. If Haymon is left out, that would basically leave Leonard Ellerbe and his boss Floyd Mayweather Jr as the only prominent African-American promoters in boxing and that would not be a healthy situation.

Premier Boxing Champions has a diverse group of fighters among the over 200 pugilists under contract. Some are African-American as are many of Haymon’s key employees and associates. Frankly, at least a portion of those fighters and employees would not feel the same comfort level they have with Haymon if Emanuel, a member of an influential Jewish family (his brother is former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel) and Vegas power broker White were abruptly substituted.

Another effect on the PBC model is on the promotional end. Haymon has cobbled together a group of promoters that operate regionally under his PBC umbrella. The model that Endeavor brings with the UFC will have a more centralized approach to promotion. How will the new owners deal with Lou DiBella in NY, James Leija and Mike Battah in Texas, and Tom Brown in California? Throw in the aforementioned Ellerbe and Mayweather, who operate primarily in Vegas but also in the Washington DC and Baltimore area. How will the promoters who work with the PBC see their relationship change if Haymon left and Dana White was in charge?

Haymon has built the PBC over the years into a big business. He has the PBC on FOX and Showtime whereas the UFC, which previously partnered with FOX, now has a long-term deal with ESPN. This suggests that if a deal is made, PBC and the UFC will have to operate as completely separate entities under the same umbrella, at least for the foreseeable future. And even that might be further away from happening than most people realize.

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