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THERE WAS BLOOD! Matthysse Defeats Provodnikov



Fight of the year, they said coming in, can’t miss. Warriors personified, two men who were born and bred to inflict violence upon other lesser beings. Who would be the lesser being at the Turning Stone Casino, in Verona, NY, the Siberian Rocky or the banger from Argentina?

Both men had their moments, for sure. Matt was on target, busy and mobile early. He had Ruslan’s face looking like a Halloween mask. But Provo came on late, didn’t listen to the bruising on his face, and he plugged forward. He landed power shots on a fatiguing Matthysse, and we went to the cards without a certainty who’d have their hand raised.

The scores were 114-114 (Ackerman), and 115-113, 1153, for Matthysse. A majority decision, in a fan friendly tangle.

Ruslan Provodnikov entered with a 24-3 mark, while Lucas was 36-3.

In the first, Lucas was the busier. He was accurate, Ruslan didn’t move his head enough. “Use your jab and give me head movement,” said trainer Marvin Samodio to Ruslan. In the second, we saw a cut on the left eye of the Russian. “It’s target practice right now, Jim,” said Bernard Hopkins. Ruslan backed up Matt late. In the third, Matt was fluid with combos. He flurried, moved, was the more mobile man, and he picked off the plugger Ruslan coming. In the fourth, Provod came forward, coming ahead, looking determined, and Matt liked seeing lots of blood streaming. A sharp right upper kicked back Ruslan’s head. A Ruslan right wowed the crowd. It was fun round, maybe one for the Rocky. Samodio asked for body work after.

In the fifth, the left to the body worked, and keeping distance helped Matt. Left hooks from Ruslan needed to be thrown in tight. Matt jabbed but was Provod’s power speaking louder? In the sixth, a sharp right lead had the crowd grooving for Matt. Blood came from Ruslan’s mouth now. His reflexes were getting slower. In the seventh, Matt was landing at will. His face was a mask of blood, was Ruslan’s.

In round eight, the length of Matt was helpful of course. Ruslan tagged him and sensed some opportunity late. In the ninth, we saw back and forth work, with Ruslan’s power speaking louder. In the the tenth, the jab worked for Matt. Ruslan dipped left and threw the hook, repeatedly. He landed a late right…were the judges digging his power work over Matt’s volume?

In the 11th, the power shots for Ruslan were landing. Hooks and the right for the Rocky were nasty. Matt looked to clinch and lost the round. In the 12th, Ruslan came out pressing. He had better energy in the second half of the fight. We went to the cards..

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Why Fury’s Bout with Pianeta is Bigger than Ever Imagined



Back in January of 2016, Tyson Fury got into the ring and upstaged him on live TV after he struggled with and eventually stopped Artur Szpilka in the ninth round. Now it’s being conveyed that WBC titlist Deontay Wilder will be ringside for Tyson Fury’s second comeback fight against Francesco Pianeta in Belfast Saturday night, and it’s expected that he’ll pay Fury back and get in the ring and upstage him and call him out.

Wilder quickly accepted Fury’s challenge on that night in Brooklyn, but Fury went away and in his own words overindulged with food, alcohol and drugs. And with that, the talk of Wilder vs. Fury died.

Since then, Wilder has established himself more as a title holder and, in the opinion of most, is thought to be the second best heavyweight in the world, ranking behind only Anthony Joshua. Two months ago in June, Fury made his awaited ring return and stopped a non-entity in Sefer Seferi. Throughout the spring and summer the talk of a showdown between Joshua and Wilder remained one of the foremost stories in boxing. Every time it looked close to becoming a reality it fell through, due mostly to how the purse split should be divided with each side blaming the other and avid fans of both fighters siding with their man. While arrows were being slung back and forth between Team Joshua and Team Wilder, the shrewd Fury slung arrows at both of them.

Tyson Fury is one of the greatest salesmen in boxing history and nobody uses social media better than he does. Seeing how hard Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn is to deal with, a light went off in Fury’s head and he began to shy away from AJ and began turning his attention towards Wilder, who has been riding a high since stopping Luis Ortiz in his last fight. Tyson, fully understanding that Wilder has never earned huge money for any of his bouts, understood that a match between him and Wilder could rival nearly any bout Hearn/Joshua could make, excluding one involving himself or Wilder. With that, someone must’ve got in Wilder’s ear and outlined the monumental upside it would be for him to face Fury and what beating him would do as far as helping him negotiate the anticipated fight with Joshua. Not to mention he wouldn’t be facing Fury at his best.

With Fury having lost a lot of the weight he gained during his exile, an impressive showing this weekend versus Franceso Pianeta would go a long way to help boost the interest in a Wilder-Fury bout. The Fury-Pianeta clash has been picked up by Showtime and that says a lot in regards to the way Fury can attract attention. With Wilder having committed to attend the bout, is there a morsel of doubt that he’ll be a big part of the broadcast?

The mere fact that Wilder will be there has increased the credibility among fans in that Wilder-Fury is no longer a press grab and it very well might just come to fruition. And to help increase the profile of a future bout between Wilder and Fury, it’s impossible not to believe Wilder won’t get into the ring after Fury wins and publicly challenge him. If Wilder does that, hopefully he’ll script what he says and not adlib because exchanging adlibs with Fury would be a losing battle for Deontay….even Muhammad Ali might be the underdog doing so because Fury is such a good talker and so quick-witted.

And if there’s any doubt about Fury being able to sling verbally and hype a fight between he and Wilder, I present his recent words….

“I’m just sat here thinking, isn’t it marvelous that the world’s biggest fight, Fury vs Wilder is going to happen and that smug little t****r Eddie Hearn has nothing to do with it at all.”

“He has nothing to do with the world’s biggest fight — or his little puppet on the string the fighter he’s got [Joshua].”

“They’re not involved in the biggest fight the world has ever seen, between the two biggest heavyweights on the planet.”

“The two most controversial — most outspoken heavyweights out there — both over 6ft 6, both talkers, one Brit. one American.”

“Isn’t it marvelous that this fight is going to happen and little Eddie ain’t got nothing to do with it.”

At the moment Fury is killing Hearn and Joshua on social media while at the same time convincing everyone within earshot that he and Wilder is the biggest fight in boxing and the authentic heavyweight championship. Along with that, Wilder and Fury are both going to earn their blockbuster payday facing each other and without fighting Joshua. The winner will easily be able to get a 50-50 purse split when he meets AJ, and there will be nothing Hearn can do about it….because Team Joshua knows that for AJ to be recognized as the true undisputed champ, he must beat the winner of Wilder versus Fury.

Another testament to the Fury factor is found in the odds. Earlier this week, a friend emailed me the pending Vegas odds on Wilder vs. Joshua and Fury vs. Joshua. In a proposed fight with Wilder, Joshua was listed a 2-1 favorite. However, if he were to face Fury, he’d only be an 8-5 favorite, signifying that Fury, with only two fights under his belt after a nearly two-and-a-half year layoff, is considered by the betting public to be the bigger threat to Joshua.

At this time it looks as though only a loss to Pianeta 35-4-1 (21), who’s never ranked among the top-10, can derail Wilder-Fury from becoming a reality, and even against a rusty Fury that looks doubtful. In Pianeta’s only title shot he entered the bout undefeated and was still bounced around the ring by Wladimir Klitschko as if he were a Spalding basketball. He had the advantage of being one of Klitschko’s sparring partners for a year prior to them meeting and yet he still couldn’t make it out of the sixth round.

Since losing to Wladimir in 2013, Pianeta has gone 7-3 (6) and in his last bout lost a 10-round unanimous decision to Petar Milas, who was fighting for only the 12th time as a pro. Fury looks in good shape based on his recent pictures on social media, and is one of the most difficult heavyweights to fight and look good against since Vitali Klitschko was at his best. True, Fury isn’t a devastating puncher and sometimes fighters who aren’t in his league can go rounds with him, but with so much on the line and Wilder observing from ringside, it’s nearly impossible to envision him losing.

The prospect of a Wilder-Fury confrontation has escalated the interest in Fury’s second comeback fight this weekend. It’s unlikely the actual fight between Fury and Pianeta will be fan-friendly, but the thought of Wilder being there to help launch their fight makes it worthwhile to see. Don’t be surprised if Wilder vs. Fury is announced in the ring after Fury’s bout concludes. And if that’s the case, or when it is announced, for the first time as the alpha heavyweight in the world, Anthony Joshua won’t own the headlines nor will he be the sole focus pertaining to the heavyweight division.

Like him or loathe him, Tyson Fury’s return has provided the division with an infusion of anticipation. And Joshua will ultimately benefit financially as a fight between him and the Fury-Wilder winner becomes that much bigger and lucrative for all the parties involved.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at

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What Are You Up To, Paddy Barnes?



For all the hullabaloo about Tyson Fury and his victim elect Francesco Pianeta in Belfast, Northern Ireland this weekend; for all the “Irish Eyes Are Smiling” rhetoric surrounding the return of Carl Frampton to Windsor Park, where he, too, will defeat an overmatched opponent in Luke Jackson; for all that and the barely concealed excitement with which writers and promoters crane their necks at the futures of both these men – for all that, the most intriguing and competitive fight on this Saturday Night’s big “Norn Iron” card is the rampantly ambitious attempt by Paddy Barnes to win a title-strap against Cristofer Rosales (27-3) in just his sixth contest.

This might not be quite Vasily Lomachenko taking on Orlando Salido in his second fight but Rosales, just twenty-three years old and fighting out of Nicaragua, will not be visiting Northern Irish shores to lose. In fact, the TBRB rank him as the worlds #2 flyweight, second only to veteran Donnie Nietes. Flyweight’s radiance may be on the wane but becoming the second best fighter at 112lbs is no small matter, no matter the drain being inflicted upon the division by super-flyweight, the new home of the fashionable small man. Rosales earned the right, and Barnes will have to take it from him.

Like Lomachenko, Barnes is a storied amateur, a two-time Commonwealth gold medalist and two-time Olympic bronze medalist.  Prior to his third swipe at Olympic glory, Barnes turned in a sterling performance in the World Series of Boxing, once controversial for straddling the amateur and professional codes so comfortably, now  seen as nothing more (nor less) than a nursery for top-class amateurs who are ready to mount an assault on the professional ranks.

Barnes began his assault on the professional ranks in the traditional way, beating up overmatched, underfed opposition with losing records.  In 2017 he staged his fifth fight, his fourth in Belfast, against Elie Quezada (21-6-3) who represented something of a step up, though to nothing like world-level where many were sure Barnes was headed.

Even against his taller, heavier, more experienced, switch-hitting opponent, Barnes looked good that night, feinting with the jab behind organized pressure-footwork, opening up shots to the body with jabs, outs-squabbling his rangy opponent when Quezada decided to throw. In the second, investment in the body paid early dividends as a withering short right-hand to the torso married earlier work done with the left hook to achieve a knockdown and nine-count. A ten count at the very end of the sixth was earned with a left-uppercut to the by then tenderized body of an overmatched opponent.

In between the two knockdowns there were naturally issues, the kind experienced by all raw prospects. For that’s what Barnes is, at thirty-one years of age and carrying an armful of amateur medals; professional fighting is different.

So it should be noted that Barnes repeatedly strayed low, and was so paranoid about his inability to keep his punches north of the borderline he apologized to the referee on one occasion without being warned. He hit Quezada when he was down after the first knockdown. He has issues with temperament that need fights to iron out.

More pertinently he was hit, often, by an opponent who was not afraid to trade with him.  Barnes is not a puncher. Quick and accurate, he’s very capable of hurting his opponents but not of turning them away or, as a rule, concussing them. This is problematic and demands careful attention by style, but Barnes does not box like a man who can seek but cannot destroy. He brings speedy pressure, using his quickness and natural balance to unseat an opponent and turn him, all while throwing fast combinations which tantalize between slickness and indeterminate.   Like Rocky Marciano, Barnes has a “land and it’ll do” rule of combat, unlike Rocky Marciano he’s not breaking any bones while he does it.

How is Rosales, a legitimately world class opponent, going to handle all this?

A possible clue lies in another fight Quezada lost. Also a Nicaraguan, last March he met Rosales over ten rounds in their shared hometown of Managua. Rosales won in a fun, bruising fight but was unable to stop his countryman despite throwing and landing a large volume of punches; the judges, a little unkindly I thought, awarded only a split decision but it was interesting that Barnes was able to get Quezada out of there and Rosales was not.

Nevertheless, Rosales was at a more advanced stage of his career and was rewarded (only after defeating the unbeaten Italian Mohammed Obbadi in Italy) with a shot at the strap held by the latest Japanese wonderkid, Daigo Higa. 15-0 with fifteen consecutive knockouts, Higa was favored to win that fight but after struggling with the weight was badly beaten by a vicious Rosales.

Much of this was put off on to Higa’s indiscipline on the scales, but Rosales was exceptional that night in Yokohama. Aggressive and direct, he is a big, big flyweight, pushing 5’7 and sporting a reach of nearly 71” by BoxRec. Rosales does little to favor this reach advantage. He is loose with his selected leads, booming over trailing right hands from outside and sometimes shortening up his own jab by stepping in; on the other hand he loves and administers serious punishment on the inside. Rosales is delightfully old-fashioned in his attitude to his physical advantages and is adapt with both hook and uppercut.

He used both of these to his advantage against Higa, positively bullying him in the eighth, before brutalizing him with his left hand in the ninth.  His corner pulled him after little more than a minute of that round.

Reviewing this footage, the right pick is absolutely clear: it’s Rosales. Bigger, he is probably the puncher in the fight, certainly the more experienced of the two, and he was equal to the relentless body assault Higa mounted early in their fight; but there’s more.

Rosales does not have a spotless record in the UK. One year before his defeat of Higa, he was being out-boxed by the less talented of the two Selby brothers, Andrew. Andrew Selby weathered a dramatic and forceful storm from the Nicaraguan late, but my impression was that he was good for his points win. Two years previous to this, Khalid Yafai, who holds a strap up at 115lbs, defeated him over eight rounds in another tough scrap.

Rosales travels well but not to the UK, and my impression while checking in with friends who follow the smaller men was that his reputation was firmer abroad than upon these shores.

What to make of this web of intrigue?  Has Barnes overstepped in agreeing to fight Rosales so soon based upon a week British rep? Or has Rosales falsely enhanced his status by beating up a weight-drained, crestfallen Higa? Is Rosales too big for Barnes? Or is his propensity for letting wasp-like, whip-crack fighters like Barnes inside a disaster of a style-matchup and one which Barnes, who has slightly faster hands, is primed to take advantage of?

Here’s the truth: I don’t know. I’ve had this fight under the microscope all last week and can’t pick a winner. Just when I think some crucial aspect has been revealed to me it is counter-balanced by some snippet of information from the other camp, or spied on the often single-camera video that spills out of Nicaragua.

I suspect the fight itself will be a thriller though. Both are busy, both have proven punch resistance, both come to fight, both want to mix it up close. The hand that is raised may be the one that is most tempered, the one most ready to shy away from what is natural. Can Rosales spear Barnes on the outside, making him pay for every step? Can Barnes resist the temptation to rush and use his superior speed to close the reach and height gap by staging a sometime counter-punching offense?

With all due love and respect to Tyson Fury, perhaps my favorite active fighter, and Carl Frampton, the man of the moment for the rampant Belfast fans, finding the answer to the above questions is the main reason I’ll be tuning in.

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Three Punch Combo: Digging Deeper Into the Alvarez-Kovalev Upset and More



studying economics

THREE PUNCH COMBO — My background is in economics. When studying economics, we often look to the past to attempt to predict future outcomes. For example, when the last recession occurred we compile what the data said prior to the start of that recession and look for future similarities to predict when the economy may be headed toward another downturn. This is all done after the fact with the goal being to use what we learned to hopefully better predict and maybe even prevent future economic downturns.

Well those principles of economics can also be used in boxing. Specifically, when upsets occur there are often mitigating factors. Such is the case when explaining why Eleider Alvarez was able to pull off a pretty shocking upset last week when he stopped Sergey Kovalev in round seven of their light heavyweight title fight.

Looking back at the resume of Alvarez leading into the fight, one can see that he was prepared for the moment. Some of this preparedness was by accident (more on this in a moment) and some by design. But regardless, Alvarez was more than ready for his moment under the bright lights.

Many resumes of fighters that are climbing the ladder contain soft opposition meant to pad their record. These fights do nothing in terms of developing the fighter. Yes, Alvarez does have some of these type opponents on his resume. But by and large he fine-tuned his craft by facing quality opponents.

In his ninth professional fight, Alvarez faced 23-1-1 Shawn Hawk in a fight scheduled for twelve rounds. Alvarez, who had not been past the sixth round as a pro, won a decision going the full twelve at this very early stage in his career. A year later, Alvarez faced the always tough Edison Miranda and defeated Miranda by decision.

More quality opponents followed and Alvarez kept grinding out wins. Then in November of 2015, Alvarez faced tricky veteran Isaac Chilemba. Alvarez found Chilemba a tough foe but in the end prevailed via a twelve round majority decision. Though not his best performance, this fight proved to be a great learning experience. The win also put Alvarez in position as the mandatory challenger for WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson.

Despite Alvarez’s mandatory status, Stevenson was able to slip out of ever getting in the ring with him. Instead, Alvarez received a few bucks for agreeing to not pursue the mandatory and had a few other fights to help build him toward something bigger. He faced and defeated former world champions Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal during this time frame. These valuable experiences sort of happened by accident due to the Stevenson situation but further prepared Alvarez for that moment when the big name would finally get in the ring with him.

That big name, of course, was Kovalev and we know what happened. Alvarez was more than prepared for this moment due to not being spoon-fed weak opponents in the first 23 fights of his career. He faced all different types of fighters and styles. He did not always look great but always learned and grew as a fighter. In looking backward, as I often do when studying the economy, the reasons for Alvarez winning now seem very apparent. It’s a lesson from which others can learn.

USA Tuesday Night Fights

This August marks the 20th anniversary of the final airing of the long running weekly boxing series on USA Network titled USA Tuesday Night Fights. The series ran for nearly 16 years and was really boxing’s last consistent weekly television series (as a note, ESPN’s Friday Night Fights Series often went dormant from September to December due to college football).

The series helped develop some of boxing’s biggest stars of the 80’s and 90’s as well as provide many memorable moments. The welterweight contest between Derrell Coley (29-1-2, 21 KO’s) and Kip Diggs (27-2, 19 KO’s) in March of 1997 produced my personal favorite memory from the series.

Derrell Coley vs. Kip Diggs:    03/25/1997

This fight, slated for twelve rounds for the vacant NABF welterweight belt, was a shoot-out from the opening bell. In the first couple of rounds, Coley and Diggs exchanged big shots with each hurting the other on a few occasions. Diggs dropped Coley in the third round with a right down the middle followed by a left hook. Coley had to be helped to his corner at the end of the round but came back firing in the fourth, wobbling Diggs. But Diggs would quickly respond, putting Coley down in round five and then again in round seven with a left hook that put Coley flat on his back.

Coley appeared ready to go in round eight but somehow managed to stage a rally to get back in the fight. The two exchanged big shots again in rounds nine and ten with momentum swinging back and forth.

Toward the end of round ten, a blistering uppercut from Coley put Diggs on the canvas. Diggs was visibly hurt but made it to his feet and to the bell. Coley jumped on Diggs immediately to open round eleven and an overhand right followed by another flush right sent Diggs sprawling to the canvas. Diggs was out and referee Marty Denkin wisely waived an end to the contest.

It was a dramatic win for Coley in a fight that seemingly flipped back and forth in momentum on dozens of occasions. It is a forgotten classic and in my opinion the best fight from the 16-year run of the Tuesday Night Fight series on the old USA network.

Under The Radar Fight

For those of us in the United States that still have time left on their KlowdTV subscription from the Usyk-Gassiev event last month, there will be another international card available on that platform this coming Sunday. This card takes place in Russia and is headlined by a 130-pound contest between Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (12-0, 9 KO’s) and Robinson Castellanos (24-13, 14 KO’s).

Rakhimov, 23, is an aggressive southpaw who likes to work behind the right jab and use that punch to close the distance on his opposition. Once inside, Rakhimov is a very good body puncher and he will look to work both sides of his opponent’s ribcage. From the video I have seen, his best punch is the straight left though he can be described as more of a heavy handed type fighter than a one punch knockout type guy. Though he usually carries a high guard, Rakhimov has shown some defensive vulnerability.

Castellanos may have the most deceiving record in boxing. At first glance, he appears to be a journeyman type opponent brought in to pad Rakhimov’s record. But Castellanos is no journeyman. He has scored his share of upsets in recent years including handing Ronny Rios his first defeat and stunning one time Cuban amateur star Yuriorkis Gamboa.

Castellanos is a tricky guy to fight as he will throw lots of punches and from all sorts of angles. He will jump in and out, giving opponents all sorts of different looks. He has perfected his awkward style in recent years and given plenty of world class opponents plenty of fits.

I see this fight as an absolute toss-up. Rakhimov is going to see plenty of openings with Castellanos and with his aggressive nature will probably be more than willing to open up. But that may play right into the hands of his Mexican opponent. Castellanos has a good overhand right and I think he lands the punch with frequency. These two are going to land often on each other and I think we are going to get a nice competitive scrap.

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