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Ringside at the Toyota Center: Munguia Rebuffs Relentless Inoue

Kelsey McCarson

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Munguia vs Inoue

Houston, TX — Undefeated WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia found himself in the pit of hell against previously unknown Japanese pressure cooker Takeshi Inoue on Saturday night at the Toyota Center in Houston. Inoue forced Munguia to dig deep over the course of 12 grueling rounds, which saw both fighters swing for the fences for all three minutes of just about every round.

At the end of a hard-fought battle, Munguia (32-0, 26 KOs) survived his third, and most difficult, title defense, winning the action-packed fight by scores of 120-108, 120-108 and 119-109. While the scores might seem too wide to some observers, it’s important to note that not all close fights are scored that way in boxing.

Munguia began his professional prizefighting career at the tender age of 16 in Tijuana, Mexico. Almost six years later, averaging a grueling schedule of five fights a year, primarily within the confines of the city limits in which he was born, Munguia entered the ring having essentially punched his way out of Tijuanan obscurity into the new global sports streaming space pioneered by sudden industry leader DAZN.

Inoue (13-1-1, 7 KOs) didn’t care about any of that. All the 29-year-old stocky puncher seemed concerned with heading into the biggest fight of his prizefighting life was shocking the world.

Having seen Munguia’s monstrous frame tower over his comparatively diminutive opponent during prefight festivities, when the two met in the center of the ring, it looked a lot like what one might expect when seeing a parent pick up a child after school.

Except that when the bell rang here, it wasn’t going to be an audio cue for the kids to pack up their books and saunter toward the exits. Instead, the bell’s ominous toll meant it was time for Munguia to wreck Inoue with what might as well be G-O-D-Z-I-L-L-A emblazoned across his trunks.

Come to think of it, this fight seemed at the outset to be the shortest, most unnecessary portion of the Godzilla movie franchise yet. Bring forth the army! Call forth the National Guard! Nah, nevermind. Just bring in this lonely little man in the center of the ring far from home with nowhere to run.

Except that Inoue did run, and it was right into the action. He was a brave, defiant challenger leaving everything he had of himself inside the ring during every round.

Overall, the fight boiled down to what happened during the first round repeating itself over and over again. Munguia was content to box from a distance, throwing hard jabs, deep left hooks and sizzling straight right hands all over his would-be usurper’s head and body.

But Inoue was undeterred. He lunged forward like an angry bear, landing hard punches coming from wide, looping angles whenever he could get close enough to Munguia to land them, which had to be way more often than Munguia had hoped.

Munguia took the best of Inoue when he could stay off the ropes and out of the corner, but Inoue seemed to get him in one or both of those places for at least some portion of every round.

Both landed hellacious shots. At times, they took turns snapping each other’s head back, only to realize when their heads came back down that both them and their opponent was somehow still standing right there.

The fight was simply this: hard punch, defiant smirk, rinse and repeat. Over and over and over again, Munguia boxed with precision, power and class. Over and over and over again, Inoue kept charging forward.

Munguia came very close to getting the defining moment he probably wanted when he countered Inoue almost into oblivion. But almost is never good enough in a fight like this, and Inoue withstood the storm with just seconds left in the round.

Both men fought bravely. If the wideness of the scores bothers Inoue, it shouldn’t. That’s just how math sometimes works in fights where one fighter just happens to edge out most all of the rounds by a hair. Inoue fought excellently and should be commended for the amazing performance, as should Munguia who had clearly just been in the fight of his life.

If you think about it, Munguia was the anti-Inoue of 2018. Like Inoue, the Mexican was also an unknown when he was presented to the Nevada State Athletic Commission as a possible opponent for Gennady Golovkin in May.

But unlike Inoue, fate kept Munguia out of harm’s way when the NSAC wouldn’t authorize him as a credible opponent. Or maybe it was just Nevada.

Because in retrospect Inoue’s resume looks way worse than Munguia’s did. How was this fight approved while the other one wasn’t? Would Nevada have sanctioned this one? Most anyone who witnessed what happened in Houston was probably glad they didn’t have the say.

Perhaps the most amazing thing is that Inoue, who incidentally isn’t related at all to bantamweight superstar Naoya Inoue, had no credible wins–at least at the world level–on his resume before bravely storming across the Pacific Ocean to make his American boxing debut.

The fact that Inoue was able to compete for Munguia’s world title at all is an example of how politics almost always trumps perceived fair play in the grand, ole sport of professional boxing, and sometimes that might not be a bad thing.

Because Inoue didn’t look like a worthy challenger. He didn’t win his first fight, a six-round draw against Daishi Nagata in 2014 and hadn’t fought outside his home country of Japan except once.

Inoue’s last three wins didn’t look great on paper either. He had notched victories over two single-digit win fighters, Niwat Kongkan and Iku Nagahama, and a 41-year-old Yuki Nonaka.

And Munguia?

His rise had been fast and furious in a way that bookmakers tabbed him a -5000 favorite against Inoue. A 22-year-old world champion going from zero to hero in less than a year, title belt in tow with a lucrative opportunity to help usher in this new global boxing streaming age was surely going to wreck this no-hope fighter from all the way around the world.

Wasn’t he?

But that’s not what happened. Munguia, perhaps destined to become boxing’s next big thing, and Inoue, a fighter some considered just a Japanese club fighter flown in specifically so he could be butchered for the sake of some predetermined, 10-second-or-less, Mungia-hyping video assets, fought an excellent fight that no one saw coming.

Can Upsets Rojas for WBA title

Nobody expected featherweight Xu Can to defeat Jesus Rojas in the co-main event of Munguia-Inoue, but Xu used relentless combinations and old-fashioned stick-to-itiveness to secure his first world title honor.

Rojas, 32, had the odd displeasure of defending his secondary WBA featherweight world title right after losing his last fight, a 12-round unanimous decision to Joseph Diaz in August 2018. But Diaz missed weight for the fight, so despite grabbing the win, he didn’t walk away with Rojas’ title.

So Rojas made good on the opportunity created by the WBA rule, which allowed him to stay champion despite the loss, and Can, 24, made good on the wishes of a surprisingly strong and vocal contingent of Chinese fans to produce some stylistically scintillating action on the way to the upset victory.

Rojas is an aggressive, come-forward fighter who only moves back at times to catch his breath. Can is more of a boxer, but really lets his hands go both inside and out. The result was some true featherweight fireworks in a fight DAZN’s Chris Mannix called an early Fight of the Year candidate for 2019.

Both fighters fought to win, but neither possessed enough power really to hurt the other significantly. The judges favored Can (16-2, 2 KOs) because of his harder thrown punches and the way he kept the pedal to the metal when Rojas (26-3-3, 19 KOs) would tire.

Judges scored the fight 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112 for Can.

Ortiz Jr. Continues KO Streak

Junior welterweight prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr. defeated Jesus Valdez by fifth-round knockout running his impressive stoppage streak to 12 KOs in 12 fights. Ortiz (12-0, 12 KOS) might only be 20 years old, but he fights with an aggressive sort of patience befitting an older, more experienced fighter. The Dallas native sure looks like he’s on his way to a bright future.

Ortiz wore Valdez (23-5-1, 12 KOs) down, battered him into a bloody mess and secured the stoppage win when the referee had seen enough of Valdez’s blood hit the canvas. Ortiz is a hard puncher, but more impressive is the gumption with which he instigates the action and his ability to counter his opponent’s combinations.

Those are the kinds of things that bode well for the prospect’s future. Before the fight, Ortiz said he intends to challenge for a world title by the end of 2019. He’s probably not quite ready for that, but he could be with a few more of the right kinds of fights in the near future.

Other Undercard Bouts

Junior featherweight prospect Alberto Melian (4-0, 2 KOs) stopped Mexico’s Edgar Ortega (10-2-2, 5 KOs) in the 10th round to remain unbeaten. The fight started rough for the Argentinian, but Melian’s Olympic pedigree came through as the fight progressed to the later rounds.

Dallas-based junior middleweight prospect Alex Rincon, 23, beat a very game, Jeremy Ramos in a six rounder. Rincon (6-0, 5Os) had to work hard but stayed unbeaten by steadily outworking Ramos (10-6, 4 KOs).

His older brother, George Rincon (6-0, 3 KOs), knocked out Emmanuel Valadez (5-7, 4 KOs) in the first round of the opener. Rincon, 27, dropped Valadez less than a minute into the fight. The bout was halted soon after.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott

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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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