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Dreamland Ring Wars: Rocky Marciano vs. Joe Louis: A Peak-for-Peak Analysis

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After Rocky Marciano bludgeoned his way to the heavyweight throne in 1952, trainer Charley Goldman reportedly claimed him as his second heavyweight champion. Twelve years earlier, Arturo Godoy used a low-crouching, crowding style that Goldman had taught him to embarrass Joe Louis for fifteen rounds. Godoy lost a split decision, though one judge gave him all but five rounds and many agreed that a new champion should have been crowned that night. “The way he fights he was too hard to hit,” Louis explained. “I could’ve hurt my hands hitting the top of his head.”

“It was my worst fight,” he added.

The rematch was different. Seconds after the opening bell, Godoy rushed into range and Louis planted his feet and fired uppercuts. He positioned his hands inside of the grabbing gloves to find the middle, landing hard shots that sap the spirit. By the seventh round, Godoy could only stumble forward, blinded by his own blood, and Louis knew exactly what to do. He stepped backward and pivoted around with perfect uppercuts and short hooks to bring an artful end to an erstwhile annoyance.

“That was the worst beating I ever gave a man,” he said afterward. The copy editors had a field day coming up with headlines: “Louis, Back in Business as Murder, Inc” said one. “Beating of Godoy Resembled a Bull Fight” said another, more to the point.

CROWD CONTROL

In 1940, while the Louis camp was busy repelling and reanalyzing the odd style of Godoy, sixteen-year-old Rocco Marchegiano was playing baseball at the James Edgar Playground in Brockton, Massachusetts. He was a catcher who batted clean-up. Seven years later, he walked into Stillman’s Gym in Manhattan and clobbered a professional in the second round as Goldman and Godoy watched. Goldman took a look at his tree trunk legs and taught him the same low-crouching, crowding style he had taught Godoy.

By the time Marciano faced a comebacking Louis in 1951, his curious pose would thwack nostalgic to the ex-champion. Louis was thirty-seven and sporting a bald spot that said it all. He was diminished in every category save one—his physical strength, and yet Marciano, despite being outweighed by twenty-five pounds, bulled him to the ropes as easily as Godoy had. Louis was in trouble from the opening bell. He no longer had the timing and reflexes of his youth but with two decades of experience behind him, he could detect patterns and adjust accordingly. In the third round, he began stepping back after punching and Marciano’s fearsome “Suzie Q” became a whistling wind. When he saw Marciano’s habit of slipping to the outside of jabs, he turned his jab over into a hook to meet the predictable slip. Despite these adjustments and despite the fact that he won two of the first five rounds, Louis showed signs of breaking down early.

The fourth round is a snapshot of the quandary that was Marciano. Louis may have won the round on all three judges’ scorecards but the film shows him constantly forced backward and on the defensive. He’s not dictating the pace, he’s not in control; he’s not even the puncher. He’s fighting like a man trying to hold off a crowd—valiant and doomed. At one point he tries to shove Marciano back, but Marciano’s legs are spread and he doesn’t move. And that’s the story: Marciano’s attack was as psychological as it was inexorable. Old Joe survives until the eighth round, when he is unceremoniously knocked through the ropes and lay frozen in time; his head hanging over the ring apron, his right foot dangling daintily on the bottom rope. All at once, cameras explode, the fight is called, and hands appear from everywhere to help the fallen hero.

When great, aging fighters crash down, the world seems to stop. It is they themselves who break the silence; and they tend to say the same thing. “I saw the right coming,” said Louis in the dressing room, “but I couldn’t do anything about it.”

A peaking version of Louis (circa 1939-1941) would have done something about it. He would have fired more counter shots and combinations while managing to avoid most of the overhands that Marciano was slinging throughout the first half of the Fifties. The quandary, though, would remain. Trainer Jack Blackburn, who died in 1942, made critical adjustments for the Godoy rematch in 1940; however, it’s a stretch to assume these adjustments would have been successful against Marciano. Godoy weakened by the seventh round. Marciano wouldn’t weaken. Unlikely to ever lose a test of wills, he seemed to get stronger as fights wore on and opponents wore out. Louis would have been faster and with Blackburn in his corner, better informed, and yet a good handicapper would set odds against him anyway.

ZOOMING IN

As technically proficient as he was at every range, Louis would not be the dominant force in close. Marciano had a way of leaning into his opponent like some fabled strong man pushing a boulder over a cliff, or a fighter over a hill. He’d use his arms as barriers to prevent escape and lock his gloves inside the crook of the arm to stop offense —all the while pushing, pushing forward. Louis did not and would not try to outmuscle Marciano; the trainer who built him insisted on economy of motion and cautioned against wasting energy. This explains why Louis can be seen with his back on the ropes punching with discipline or spinning out against Godoy; he was a machine programmed for a strict, one-track purpose. He does not wrestle. Against Marciano, he would allow himself to be moved backward to the ropes and squared up, which would make him a wider target and compromise his offense. It’s a dangerous concession.

Louis’s best chance would be to command center-ring while taking full steps backwards. He’d have to rely on his balance to make those steps launching pads for counters, and those counters should be horizontal instead of vertical. In other words, uppercuts, though lethal when thrown by such a puncher, are not advisable here. They tend to leave a rather large window unshuttered and Marciano knew how to put a rock through it: he anticipated them and was ever-ready to counter over the top. Louis’s willingness to open up on Godoy to “bring him up” from his crouch would be riskier against Marciano, who was at his best in exchanges —particularly when the chin he was aiming for was something less than his own. However, Marciano was less prepared for short left hooks. With his head low and his right hand positioned more to the front of his chin, he had trouble seeing and blocking them as he pushed forward. Louis would want to pivot off the hook to his left to get outside of the looping right, set up his own straight right, and work in a circle.

Zeroing-in on Marciano is easier said than done. Besides presenting a low target and burrowing under stand-up fighters and their line of fire, he was given an array of subtle skills that could only have come from one of boxing’s true masterminds. He was taught to anticipate the return after punching and move his head automatically and accordingly to get into position to counter the counter shot. He learned to ride incoming jabs by shifting his weight backward onto his right leg and then spring in with a counter that felt like a kitchen sink. Awkward, short-armed, and prone to throw wildly from too far away, Goldman taught him to shift his weight forward with the momentum of a missed shot and then follow up with something harder from somewhere closer. This is better than mere balance-recovery because Marciano’s missed shots—his mistakes—could conceivably double the impact of what was coming next.

Goldman reminded everyone that Marciano hit considerably harder than Godoy. “The great thing about this kid is he’s got leverage,” he told A.J. Liebling. “He takes a good punch and he’s got the equalizers.” Joe Rein watched Marciano spar at Stillman’s. “To see him punch,” he told Sports Illustrated, “it was like he was lobbing paving stones.” Indeed, that deep weave wasn’t simply to get under an opponent’s offense; it powered-up his own enough to send much larger men reeling backward. It’s a critical point. Before the opponent could recover either his wits or his balance, Marciano would be at his chest grinding away and throwing right hooks to the flank and left uppercuts to the sternum. Few men anywhere near his weight would have the strength to resist his low-centered power thrusts and fewer still would have the speed of foot to step back out of range, counter, and then spin off before he pinned them on the ropes.

Joe Louis isn’t among them. He was not stronger than Marciano and his mobility was efficient, deliberate—and not fast enough. He was a thinking fighter who worked off the jab and tried to blast through the back of an opponent’s head. It made for a compelling spectacle when he was stalking opponents and closing the distance on his own terms, but Marciano would concede nothing. Marciano was too stingy a fighter to allow either room to punch or time to mull things over. “It is very hard to think,” cutman Freddie Brown quipped, “when you are getting your brains knocked out.”

Boxing historians and fans watch clips of Louis’s knockouts, compelling spectacles all, and are rightfully astonished. Many are astonished enough to deny an odds-busting truth of boxing: Styles make fights. To be sure, Louis had the ability to handle almost any style. He could be counted on to overcome modern giants, flatten punchers, and, contrary to popular myth, search out and destroy mobile boxers. “If he runs, will you chase him?” Louis was asked before his rematch with Billy Conn. His classic response (“He can run, but he can’t hide”) isn’t just a good cutline, it rings with truth. Louis had trouble with one style in particular and he knew it: “I had a bad weakness I kept hid throughout my career. I didn’t like to be crowded, and Marciano always crowded his opponents. That’s why I say I could never have beaten him.” For a man who said Muhammad Ali would have been just another “bum of the month,” this admission reveals much.

Peak-for-peak, Rocky Marciano should be favored to defeat Joe Louis by late round stoppage.

X FACTORS

Boxing is a party often crashed by unforeseen circumstances. There are several that could skew or even reverse the result of this match, including the following:

1) The timing of the bout. After his first clash with Godoy, it was plain to everyone that Louis was unsure of just how to penetrate or cope with the unfamiliar style in front of him. “We found out this one got to be handled different,” Blackburn admitted. “We know now.” Marciano’s attack only appeared to be similar to Godoy’s; it was far more debilitating and allowed no learning curve. If a prime Louis fights Marciano and isn’t sharp, he loses badly. If he fights him at any point on or before the night he first faced Godoy, his chance of winning would be further diminished.

2) The referee. If the referee finds Marciano’s inside maneuvering and mauling tactics distasteful enough to break them up, then Louis will have a distinct advantage. Marciano needs the inside to grind Louis down. Although the belief here is that he’d be landing heavily on the way in, he would do most of the damage once he was there. He would be outpunched from the other ranges.

3) Cuts. A friend from Brockton named Charlie Petti remembered the winter of 1950-51 when the temperature in the city dropped to ten below zero for days. Marciano ran his eight miles faithfully anyway, and said “the cold air toughens my skin and I won’t cut so easy.” Louis’s corkscrew bombs made a red mess of Godoy’s face. If Louis manages to do the same to Marciano, there is a considerable risk that the fight would be stopped despite the preventative efforts of the fanatical fighter and the quick-fix coagulants of his cut man.

4) A perfect shot, followed by a series. Marciano’s fabled endurance, chin, and conditioning are true assets, but Louis was arguably the greatest finisher in heavyweight history. If Marciano makes enough mistakes to get himself badly hurt, no intangible is certain to save him.

____________________

Matt McGrain, a boxing historian and analyst of the first order, provided a welcome impetus for this analysis with a gentleman’s challenge. References include “’Godoy Just a Clown’, Says Joe” by Art Carter in The Afro American, 2/17/40; “Remembering the Champ,” by Charlie Petti, 1970; “Weill Almost Missed Out Entirely on His Meal Ticket —Marciano” by Evans Kirkby, Milwaukee Journal, 8/25/68; AP 10/27/51; Charley Goldman and Freddie Brown quotes as told to Liebling in his essay, “Charles II,” in The Sweet Science.

Special thanks to Cameron Burns, the talent behind the graphic opening this essay. He can be reached at cameronburns13@gmail.com.

Springs Toledo can be reached at scalinatella@hotmail.com.

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Cancio and Zenunaj In Slugfest at Fantasy Springs; Kamegai Loses

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INDIO, CALIF-Desert fighter Andrew Cancio won the battle between super featherweight strong boys in a withering back and forth battle against hard nose Dardan Zenunaj and it was possibly the end of an era for a Japanese warrior on Friday.

Cancio (19-4-2, 14 KOs) usually runs over those who dare stand in front of him, but Zenunaj (14-5, 11 KOs) survived a rocky first two rounds to give the Blythe prizefighter all he could withstand at Fantasy Springs Casino.

Neither fighter emerged unscathed.

After Cancio blasted Zenunaj’s head during the first two rounds with uppercuts and four-punch combinations, the former Albanian native merely shook his head and invited Cancio to continue and the two unloaded.

Cancio was the more accurate fighter in the first half of the 10-round affair, but Zenunaj began gathering momentum in the second half. Each was able to land but Zenunaj’s seemed to have more power behind them. Cancio was more accurate and busier with the output while sliding left and right.

The best round was the ninth with Zenunaj gaining momentum Cancio planted his feet and the two unloaded massive shots. Neither fighter let up. Even when the bell rang both were still flailing away with blows. Each had welts and cuts from the brutal exchanges and both hugged each other in admiration.

After 10 blistering rounds the crowd eagerly applauded the action-packed performance.

Two judges scored the fight 99-91 and the other 97-93 for Cancio. The large crowd for Cancio was delirious when the decision was rendered but the loser was upset.

“The decision was horrible, the fight was a draw. 99-91 was an atrocious score,” said Zenunaj. “We did great. I take nothing away from Andrew Cancio, he was a warrior.”

Cancio was pleased with the fight and the crowd

“I’m very pleased with the victory, we worked very hard for this. It was a very hard 10 rounds. No matter how hard we train and spar you have to dig deep and fight hard in a fight like this,” said Cancio. “I’m going to sit down with my manager to see what’s next. We want a world title.”

Kamegai Considers Retirement

Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai (27-5-2, 24 KOs) was mistreated badly by New England’s Greg Vendetti (20-2-1, 12 KOs) who used his head and body to bull his way through and simply tired out the Japanese warrior.

Early in the fight Vendetti lowered his head and then used short quick punches to connect through much of the fight. Neither fighter was ever seriously hurt but Vendetti always seemed the fresher fighter.

Kamegai had his moments midway through the fight but could not sustain the energy to match Vendetti who kept boring in with his head down and punches flowing. After 10 rounds two judges scored it 98-92 and the other 97-93 for Vendetti.

After the loss, the warrior from Tokyo announced he is considering retirement. He’s had an illustrious career that saw him fight among the best in the world.

“My best fight was the first fight with (Jesus) Soto Karass,” said Kamegai, 35, after the fight. “This time I didn’t think he (Vendetti) was very good, but I didn’t do what I wanted. That’s why I’m thinking of retirement.”

Had Kamegai won, it was mentioned that he was a possible foe for WBC super welterweight titlist Jaime Munguia.

But it wasn’t to be.

Other Bouts

A battle of counter-punchers saw Luis Feliciano (8-0, 5 KOs) stand his ground and floor Dominican Republic’s Jonathan Fortuna (8-2, 5 KOs) with body shots to win by knockout. A left hook by Puerto Rico’s Feliciano to the body sent Fortuna down in the fifth round. He beat the count and was subsequently dropped with a thudding right to the body again for a knockout win at 2:38 of the fifth round.

Anthony Reyes (3-0, 2 KOs) connected with the first cross he fired on Tijuana’s Luis Montellano (0-3-1) and it was downhill for Montellano from there in the four round super bantamweight fight. Reyes, 19, fights out of Coachella but was unable to score his third successive knockout. Montellano proved too strong though he ate combination after combination in the fight. All three judges scored it 40-36 for Reyes.

Shakhram Giyasov (4-0, 3 KOs) stormed through Ghana’s veteran Albert Mensah (31-7-1, 15 KOs) like a southwestern monsoon in winning by knockout in the welterweight clash. Uzbekistan’s Giyasov connected with left hook after left hook with impunity against Mensah. After two dominant rounds Giyasov opened the third round by sliding through the ropes like a baseball player during one exchange. After laughing it off he then fired a left hook and a chopping right that floored Mensah for the count at 1:56 of round three. It was Giyasov’s third knockout win in four fights.

Photo credit: Tom Hogan / Hogan Photos / GBP

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Saunders vs. Andrade Spearheads Eddie Hearn’s British Invasion of Boston

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Boston has a strong boxing history. Marvin Hagler defended the world middleweight title here twice; his long road to the championship running through the old Garden where he went 9-0 with 9 KOs. Brockton’s Rocky Marciano won two of his historic 49 fights in this city. British boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is well aware of all this nostalgia.

He hopes to tap into some of it this fall.

Hearn is also well aware of how stagnant the fight scene has become in Boston since the long past glory days of promoter “Rip” Valenti—of champions Sandy Saddler, Paul Pender, and Tony DeMarco. Today, world title bouts and world championship boxers rarely get made in Boston. Hearn now sees an opportunity to grow his own legacy as a world renowned boxing promoter.

The 39-year-old Hearn is the new barker for New England’s top dog: 25-0 (16) middleweight Demetrius Cesar Andrade. Trained by father Paul, Andrade sat mired in stagnation during key periods of his now ten year career. Andrade, 30, briefly held two junior middleweight titles under the promotional guidance of Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing; failing to gain any meaningful career momentum before moving up in weight and signing with Hearn. In his biggest win to date, Andrade got off the canvas in 2013 to earn a split decision over Vanes Martirosyan in Texas.

In Chicago to announce his October 6 ‘Worlds Collide’ show, Hearn revealed to ​AB Boxing News that his October 20 plans for “Boo Boo” in Boston involve outspoken Billy Joe Saunders—rival promoter Frank Warren’s Hatfield U.K. Traveller. With victories over Chris Eubank Jr., David Lemieux, Spike O’Sullivan and Andy Lee, Saunders 26-0 (12) has an obvious advantage in quality of competition over his mandatory challenger. He’s also two years younger.

According to Hearn, Saunders, 28, will defend the WBO title against Andrade, Providence, Rhode Island’s 2008 U.S.A. Olympian, in what Andrade’s ambitious U.K. promoter describes as an “elite 50/50 fight” and one of the best available matchups at middleweight. It happens a mere five weeks after the biggest money matchup in the division, the over-marinated Golovkin-Canelo rematch in Las Vegas on September 15 for the unified world middleweight championship.

Theoretically, a path now exists for Andrade to follow in the footsteps of Hagler and become undisputed world middleweight champ. A victory over Saunders in Boston for the WBO strap could lead to a future showdown with Gennady Golovkin, the middleweight champion most likely to covet the last remaining middleweight title belt and target the holder of it for a unification fight.

While Hearn appreciates praise for bringing the sport back to forgotten American cities like Boston and Chicago, any well informed fan would have to wonder how marketable a “fight” between Andrade and Saunders will actually be given the defensive proclivities of both speedy southpaws. Saunders often wheels around like he’s on a ten speed bike and the emotionally reclusive Andrade has never been a terribly popular or engaging action fighter. In plain terms, the bout could be dull in the ring with socially awkward promotional encounters outside of it.

Hearn has his work cut out for him.

He’s brought in some reinforcements for his growing Matchroom USA promotional outfit. Retired fighter Kevin Rooney Jr. has been hired as media event manager—a role the son of Mike Tyson’s ex-trainer worked in previously for American promoters Joe DeGuardia and Lou DiBella. Photographer Ed Mullholland and matchmaker Eric Bottjer have also joined Matchroom.

“I’m very excited to get into another city that hasn’t had the big fight nights as regularly as it should,” says Hearn. “It’s going to be a big card in Boston,” he told the boxing media in Chicago.

Hearn didn’t necessarily agree with all he spied here in 2015 when he and Londoner James DeGale took home the vacant IBF super middleweight title, besting Al Haymon’s Andre Dirrell at Boston’s Agganis Arena. “Fighters want to win world titles, that’s what they dream about,” Hearn insisted at the time in opposition to the fact that Haymon’s PBC encouraged de facto TV censorship of the major world title belts. Hearn has since ripped down the PBC banner and planted his own promotional flag here in Boston with DAZN.

This time, he’s doing things his way.

Expect “character defining” boxer ring walk music.

Hearn is confirmed to be working with Ken Casey’s Boston based Murphy Boxing. Promoter Casey is also the lead singer of a fighting Irish band called the Dropkick Murphys. The Dropkicks perform in concert at his boxing shows and already have a pair of popular boxing songs for Hearn to make requests from should this night at the fights also feature live music.

Fortunately for people interested in these sorts of things, Hearn also understands the value of a stacked undercard (and of ethnonational rivalries) in generating real world ticket sales to build his live gate. This boxing promoter credibly promises value for every dollar spent on his product.

What will be required to fill even half of the nearly twenty thousand seats at the TD Garden (and to establish a lasting promotional presence in Boston) is a deep lineup of quality bouts featuring the best regional talent available in New England—pitted competitively against Old England.

Evander Holyfield’s Rhode Island featherweight Toka Kahn Clary was rumored to be in consideration for the co-main event while a cursory look at BoxRec shows Irish female sensation Katie Taylor to be listed on the undercard opposed by Cindy Serrano with British lightweight Tommy Coyle versus TBA. Despite his obvious limitations as a boxer, Framingham, Mass native Danny “BHOY” O’Connor could add value as a potential opponent for the 24-4 (12) Coyle.

O’Connor won big at the Garden in 2013. I talked to Danny at ringside after he defeated Derek Silveira by decision. ​“I’ve been dreaming about this since even before I started boxing. In any sport you compete in, you dream about doing it at the Garden if you’re from around here.”

Murphy’s 34 year-old Irish heavyweight Niall “Boom Boom” Kennedy is 11-0-1 (7) with a Gorey story to tell. Kennedy beat tough Lawrence, Mass prospect Alexis Santos last year at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, moving his hands and his fair share of tickets. Stoneham, Mass super welterweight Greg “The Villain” Vendetti 19-2-1 (12) is another popular Murphy fighter who could spice up Hearn’s Boston undercard with his determination and huge heart.

U.S Marine Mark DeLuca is one more local name in the mix. The Whitman, Mass “Bazooka” lost for the first time as a pro last June in New Hampshire, dropping a split decision to Seattle slickster Walter Wright. DeLuca, 30, is now 21-1 (13) but still one of Murphy’s top draws.

The British are indeed coming.

Get ready Boston.

Saunders vs. Andrade will live stream on October 20, 2018 from the TD Garden, home of the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics, on DAZN, an emerging alternative sports platform with influential economic backing. Saunders hopes to make his fourth defense of the WBO title won from Andy Lee in 2015. In his most recent outing last December, Saunders travelled to Canada where he schooled crude bomber David Lemieux in a virtual shutout on HBO. Andrade is coming off a pair of nondescript wins and looks to quickly jump start his career with Hearn.

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The Avila Perspective, Chapter 10: Cancio, Nevada Hall of Fame and More

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desert town

In the desert town of Blythe where two states are separated by a river, Andrew Cancio was semi-famous despite only being 16 years old. He was a barber and everyone knew it.

“By the time I came out of high school as a barber everybody knew me in Blythe,” said Cancio looking back. “They kept me busy and making good money.”

Cancio is still famous but for a different reason.

Expect a town-sized crowd to arrive as Cancio (18-4-2, 14 KOs) meets Dardan Zenunaj (14-4, 11 KOs) in the 10-round main event on Friday Aug. 17, at Fantasy Springs Casino. The Golden Boy Promotions fight card will be televised by ESPN2.

No longer is Cancio a barber.

“I really loved it. Still cut my sons hair but I just do it for fun. You don’t ever lose your touch,” said Cancio. “It wasn’t a job, it was chill.”

Cancio no longer cuts hair for pay. Instead, he cuts down contenders like one of those electric razors mowing through a mop headed scalp. He’s ruthless.

So far, whenever Cancio fights anywhere in the Southern California desert region his legion of fans appear shouting his name and yelling approval. He’s a rock star in Blythe.

The last time Cancio’s hordes arrived at Fantasy Springs he was fighting Kazakhstan’s Aidar Sharibayev (7-1) who was undefeated at the time and headed toward a title fight. That was last April. It ended in a knockout win for Cancio.

Back in March 2016, Cancio and his Huns fought veteran Hugo Cazares at the Fantasy Springs. That fight ended in three rounds.

In December 2015, Cancio was matched with another contender buster named Rene Alvarado of Nicaragua. Though both have a knack for knocking off contenders, if you stand in front of Cancio you got problems. Alvarado stood in front of the Blythe bomber and down he went in eight rounds.

“Oh yeah. I love fighting in the pocket, it’s like natural for me,” says Cancio who trains in Ventura. “That’s where I feel most comfortable for me. They try to make me fight inside and don’t know that’s what I like.”

He’s hoping that Albania’s Zenunaj goes pocket hunting too.

“I watched a couple of his videos. He seems to be a come forward type of guy,” said Cancio with a hint of glee. “I’m just training to outsmart him, especially inside.”

Cancio needs to win for his fans; the Huns are hungry.

Japanese Fighters

Another returning will be Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai (27-4-2, 24 KOs) who meets Gregory Vendetti (19-2-1, 12 KOs) in a 10 round super welterweight clash at Fantasy Springs on Friday.

The last time Kamegai was in the boxing ring he was trading vicious blows against Miguel Cotto for the WBC super welterweight world title. Though he was defeated, many lauded his tremendous effort and do or die spirit.

If you like warriors, then Kamegai is one of many Japanese fighters that have made that trek across the Pacific Ocean to showcase their spirit. It’s been a boost to the boxing world when fighters like Kamegai, Naoya Inoue, Ken Shiro, Kosei Tanaka and Ryosuke Iwasa among others have willingly traveled to America to display their craft.

Incidentally, Iwasa lost the IBF super bantamweight title today to TJ Doheny of Australia by unanimous decision in Tokyo. It was Iwasa’s second defense of the world title he won last September.

Saturday in L.A.

Ed Holmes All Star Boxing returns to the Westin Bonaventure Hotel with another large fight card at the downtown L.A. hotel this Saturday Aug. 18.

Seven undefeated prospects including super lightweight Batyr Akhmedov (4-0) who meets Ismael Barroso (20-2-2) for the WBA Inter-continental title in an eight round clash.

Others on the card include Ricardo Valdovinos, Israel Mercado, John Leo Sato and Arthur Saakyan in separate bouts. A female MMA fight is also scheduled on the card.

The doors open at 5 p.m. at the beautiful venue which has become one of my favorite places to watch boxing. For more information call 323 816-6200 or go to www.allstarfights.com.

Nevada Hall of Fame

Numerous stars will be inducted to Nevada’s Boxing Hall of Fame including several non-fighters.

Leading the list for this year sixth annual induction at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas will be Laila Ali, Sugar Shane Mosley, Kevin Kelley, Earnie Shavers, Don Minor, and Chris Byrd in the fighter category. Also inducted will be Senator Harry Reid, promoter Todd DuBoef and judge Jerry Roth.

Those fighters, trainers and promoters honored who are no longer living include Aaron Pryor, Alexis Arguello, Henry Armstrong, Bill Miller and Jack “Doc” Kearns.

“This is a wonderful class and we are very proud of all of them and we’re eager to celebrate their many accomplishments in this wonderful sport,” said Michelle Corrales-Lewis CEO of NBHOF. “We have come up with a full slate of events to make this an entire celebratory weekend. In a short period of time, we have built a reputation as a first-class Hall of Fame and the fighters look forward to this event every year. We are continually looking for ways to improve and I believe this will be our best year yet.”

Festivities begin Friday at 12 p.m. in the Augustus Room with a meet and greet that ends at 4 p.m. A cocktail party begins at 7:30 at the Caesars pool area weather permitting.

On Saturday, at 11 a.m. an amateur boxing card takes place at the Augustus Room and ends at 3 p.m.

Red carpet photo opportunities begin at 5:30 p.m. and is open to the public. The actual ceremonies start 7 p.m. at the Augustus Room and only those with tickets or invitations will be admitted. For more information go to this web site: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nevada-boxing-hall-of-fame-6th-annual-induction-dinner-tickets-43144441185

Top Rank

WBO featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez announced he made a change in trainers and is now working with Eddy Reynoso who also trains middleweight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, according to public relations ace Ricardo Jimenez.

Valdez, 27, suffered a broken jaw in his last world title defense against over-weight Scott Quigg of England. He still has not been cleared by doctors but made the decision with his management to depart with former trainer Manny Robles Jr.

“I want to thank Manny Robles and his whole team for everything they have done for me over the last few years, but like everything in life, changes are sometimes needed to move forward. I’m very grateful to them for their friendship and all they have taught me”, said Valdez who lived next to Robles in Lake Elsinore.

The two-time former Mexican Olympian is managed by Frank Espinoza and expected to return to defend the title soon. He is promoted by Top Rank

Top Rank also signed an extension that now ties them with ESPN for seven years and includes Saturday’s show out of Atlantic City.

Heavyweights Bryant Jennings (23-2, 13 KOs) of Philadelphia meets Alexander Dimitrenko (41-3, 26 KOs) in the main event at Ocean Resort Casino. ESPN will televise and stream the fight card.

“I’m just grateful for the opportunity, grateful for the consistent fighting schedule. I’m just looking to win and climb the heavyweight ladder. I let everything fall into place once the results come in,” said Jennings.

Dimitrenko realizes he has a prime opportunity.

“It is very important for me to be here, to fight live on ESPN against Jennings. I will do anything to win this fight,” said Dimitrenko. “It’s an honor to fight here in America. Everybody watching will get a great show. Saturday night can’t come soon enough. I am ready to fight.”

Next week, Top Rank has another show but this time in Phoenix. Two world title fights are planned at Gila River Arena in Glendale. Slated to fight are WBO lightweight titlist Raymundo Beltran (35-7-1) versus Jose Pedraza (24-1) and Isaac Dogboe (19-0) defending the WBO super bantamweight world title versus Hidenori Otake (31-2-3).

Also, Mikaela Mayer (6-0, 3 KOs) is set to meet Edina Kiss (14-7) in a six or eight round super featherweight clash.

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