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Losing But Winning

Ted Sares

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Losing But Winning

Joey LaMotta once told his brother Jake,You win, you win. You lose, you still win.” He was alluding to Jake’s next fight against inept Billy Fox. Throwing the fight would get him a shot at the champ, Marcel Cerdan. This was a nod to the dark side of boxing.

The expression can have other meanings as well. When Miguel Cotto lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr., his face reflected the many blows Floyd had landed. However, Cotto walked away with enough money to never have to worry again financially. He lost but he won big, and that scenario has been repeated many times in this modern era of PPV and big payday fights

However, the expression as used below reflects something more soulful—something that touches upon the fighting spirit of boxers.

Paulie Malignaggi

After Paulie Malignaggi lost a brutal fight to Miguel Cotto in June 2006, Lou DiBella said, “I think everyone knew (Paulie) was flashy and had a big mouth and was a cocky kid. I don’t think anyone knew he had that kind of grit and heart….I think in defeat he made the biggest statement of his career — that ‘I am a real fighter and I can stand up to anybody, even a bigger, stronger guy.’ ”

Despite a broken orbital bone that made his cheek look grotesque, he fought to win and in the process won over Cotto’s tough Puerto Rican fans who applauded him after the fight. Paulie lost, but he really won because now everyone knew that in addition to all the flash and bling, there was true grit. Paulie gained more from that loss than Cotto did from the win.

Azumah Nelson

Going back all the way to 1982, Ghana’s Azumah Nelson exploded onto the scene even though he was knocked out in the 15th round by Salvador Sanchez in front of relatively few fans at Madison Square Garden.

The crowd was small (5,575 paid) because few knew who Nelson was. That would never be the case after the fierce and furious war in which Nelson gave the legendary Sanchez all he could handle and then some. After an even battle in the early rounds, “Chava” was able to turn the tide to some extent in the seventh when he floored “The Professor” with a short hook. However, Nelson fought back and even won two late rounds using sheer aggression and grit. By the 14th stanza, the buzz around ringside was that a possible upset was in the making. Nelson had shocked onlookers by his ability to win several fierce exchanges and even shake up Sanchez.

In the 15th round, Nelson again pressed the action but a right and then a left hook rocked the gallant challenger and he was now ripe for the taking. Out on his feet, he continued to punch aimlessly and was put down hard, but incredibly he got up ready to continue until referee Tony Perez stepped in and performed a mercy stoppage.

This would be Sanchez’s last fight before he was fatally injured in a car crash. As for Nelson, his remarkable career then took off and he would eventually join “Chava” in the International Boxing Hall of Fame

As Michael Carbert poignantly writes in Fight City: “The truth remains that a young Azumah Nelson gave an electrifying performance that night, an astonishing exhibition of heart and determination that could only have been withstood and overcome by a boxer of equal courage and even greater talent. Salvador Sanchez had already proved himself a truly great boxer, but on that summer night in New York City he put the finishing, final touch on a Hall of Fame legacy just before it all came to an end. Before the young Salvador….fatally underestimated a risky maneuver on a dusty, narrow Mexican road, and left boxing fans to forever speculate as to what might have been.”

Azumah Nelson lost but he also won on that night in New York City. He had gained the respect of aficionados, writers, and other fighters.

Others

There have been other fights where the loser actually increased his stock, turbo-charging his career. When recently retired George “The Saint” Groves fought fellow Brit Carl “The Cobra” Froch in the first of their two fights in November 2013, he almost upset Froch, dropping him in the first round and then being stopped in a highly controversial and seemingly premature fashion in the ninth round.

Ray Mancini’s late round loss to Alexis Arguello in 1981 and Emanuel Augustus’s losing effort against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2000 did nothing to hurt their careers.

Fast Forward

On January 26, 2019, undefeated welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman defended his WBA title with a majority decision over grizzled veteran Josesito Lopez who has fought extremely stiff opposition over the course of his career. Judges Tom Schreck (117-109) and Steve Weisfeld (115-111) both saw it for Thurman, while judge Don Ackerman somehow had it a 113-113 draw—apparently giving Lopez rounds for stalking.

Thurman was expected to shake off ring rust caused by a two-year hiatus from the ring and halt Lopez in the late rounds, and “One Time” did control matters until the seventh when the stalking Lopez suddenly came to life and almost stopped Thurman. A Lopez left hook, followed by a straight right, hurt Thurman who then went into survival mode. Lopez, however, would not let up, also winning the eighth as he landed more hard shots on a backtracking Thurman. Finally Keith regained control and went on to win.

While Thurman may get a great payday if a fight against Manny Pacquiao is made, it was Lopez who got the cheers from the fans. Rather than be a patsy (i.e. a designated loser), the “Riverside Rocky” left Barclays Center in Brooklyn with his tough guy  reputation well intact. He left with more than he came in with and that’s what boxers do when they lose but “win.”

Editor’s note: How many other examples can you think of? We welcome your input.

Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and Strongman competitors and may compete in the Ukraine in 2019. He is a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).

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Angel Ruiz Scores 93 Second KO in Ontario, Calif.

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(Ringside Report by Special Correspondent Tarrah Zeal) ONTARIO, Calif.- “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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Seniesa Estrada Scores Fifth Consecutive KO and “Crazy A” Wins Too

David A. Avila

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Azat Hovhannisyan

HOLLYWOOD, Ca.-After a turbulent first round Seniesa Estrada turned on the after burners and delivered a savage body attack to defeat Philippines Gretchen Abaniel and score her fifth consecutive knockout on Thursday evening.

It was the first time a Golden Boy Promotions female fight was featured as the main event on a DAZN streamed boxing card.

WBC Silver light flyweight titlist “Super Bad” Estrada (17-0, 7 KOs) was making her second defense of the title and clashed heads with the veteran Abaniel (18-11, 6 KOs) in front of a sold out audience at the Avalon Theater.

“It didn’t bother me at all. Blood doesn’t faze me,” said Estrada who was cut on the side of her head from a supposed head butt.

In the opening round both clashed with a flash of blows inside and perhaps heads clashed. The exchange was furious as both found themselves tangled with each other and unable to find distance or a rhythm.

That would end soon.

The next round saw Estrada switch to southpaw. That seemed to stall Abaniel’s attack and then the East L.A. fighter began establishing a left hook as an attacking blow and a countering measure. Abaniel seemed stymied and confused. The quickness of the East L.A. fighter and her ability to hit and get out of range left the Filipina slugger waiting instead of fighting.

It would only get worse.

Abaniel’s corner admonished her to attack and forget about trying to out-think Estrada. She almost ran toward Estrada swinging with abandon until the East L.A. fighter hit her with a quick one-two. Then Estrada began targeting the body with punishing blows that drew winces from the crowd at the sound of the blows. Abaniel fought back and launched a five-punch combination. Estrada returned fire with a four-punch combination that saw Abaniel try and counter. Estrada slipped the blow and returned with a lightning quick four-punch combination at the bell.

Estrada had established her distance and rhythm and was now in full control. After several counter left hooks and counter rights, Estrada zeroed in toward Abaniel’s body and pummeled her abdomen with resounding shots. Body shot after body shot was sent to Abaniel’s body and it was apparent that she was slowing from the punishment. At the end of round four she went to her corner stool and was asked if she wanted to continue. Abaniel’s corner halted the fight. Estrada was declared the winner by knockout at the end of round four.

It was Estrada’s fifth consecutive knockout win.

“I was landing some really hard shots I had to be careful because her style makes for a really sloppy fight,” said Estrada after the fight.

Now the East L.A. light flyweight champion knows exactly what road she intends to take.

“Of course everybody knows the rivalry between Marlen Esparza and me,” said Estrada. “The fight I want is Yesenia Gomez the WBC champion. Let’s make it happen.”

Estrada has no doubt its world title or bust.

 Azat

Super bantamweight contender Azat Hovhannisyan (17-3, 14 KOs) battered Philippines gladiator Glen Porras (32-9, 20 KOs) relentlessly for four rounds until the fight was stopped.

“Crazy A” Hovhannisyan has previously fought for a world title and lost to WBC titlist Rey Vargas and was eager to prove he belongs on the big stage again. Porras, a contender also, just could not match Hovhannisyan’s speed or stamina though he did try.

After a 15-punch barrage followed by a 13-punch barrage by Hovhannisyan, the referee Sharon Sands decided she had seen enough and stopped the one-sided match up at 2:08 of the fourth round. Hovhannisyan was given the win by knockout.

“Everything is good, it was a good fight,” said Hovhannisyan who arrived with a large crowd and told everyone he wants to the champions and ex-champions. “I want TJ (Doheny) and Danny Roman and Rey Vargas. First, maybe TJ.”

A battle between two island fighters saw Puerto Rico’s Carlos Caraballo (12-0, 12 KOs) gain his 12th knockout in 12 fights with a second round ending over Dominican Esteban Aquino (12-7, 7 KOs) in a super bantamweight clash.

From the opening bell Aquino showed no fear in opening up aggressively against the left-hand slugger. Both exchanged blows but nothing much in the first round.

Aquino was even more aggressive in the second round and during an exchange ran into a left counter by Caraballo. Aquino resumed the attack and ran into another counter left cross and down he went for the count. Referee Zachary Young ended the fight at 1:52 of the second round.

Arizona’s Cesar Valenzuela (15-6-1, 5 KOs) used a stiff jab and right cross to upset L.A’s Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez (19-4, 15 KOs) and win by unanimous decision after eight rounds in a lightweight contest. Valenzuela was the busier fighter throughout as Gonzalez could not pull the trigger. Round after round Valenzuela connected with solid jabs and rights to the body.

Gonzalez seemed listless and unable to mount an offense despite the urgings from his corner. A Valenzuela left hook in the seventh round connected solidly and Gonzalez seemed unable to retaliate. All three judges scored the fight 79-73 for Valenzuela who fights out of Phoenix.

Two-time Olympian Bektemir Melikuziev (1-0) won his pro debut with a single power shot to knock out Argentina’s veteran Martin Rios (23-20-4, 13 KOs) in the first round of their light heavyweight match up. Melikuziev, 23, a southpaw from Uzbekistan who is trained by brothers Joel and Antonio Diaz in Indio, used a single left cross to the belly to end the night for Rios at 1:39 of the round. The taller Argentine could not beat the count.

“I wanted the toughest challenge out there,” said Melikuziev. “I went in there and took care of business.”

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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