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Kovalev Annihilated Mohammedi, Further Serving Notice To Stevenson And Others

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During the late seventies and the early eighties, the light heavyweight division was one of the baddest blocks in professional boxing.

No, that’s not the case circa mid-summer 2015. Actually, the division has a few fighters worth keeping an eye on: Adonis Stevenson 26-1 (21), who owns the WBC title and surging contender Artur Beterbiev 9-0 (9).

However, the alpha dog in the division is WBA/WBO/IBF title Sergey Kovalev 28-0-1 (25).

Until Stevenson proves otherwise.

This past weekend Kovalev fought an over-matched challenger and it was obvious from the onset of the bout. Sergey dispatched Nadjib Mohammedi 37-4 (23) at 2:38 of the third round in what was basically a spirited workout for him. Mohammedi had nothing at all in his arsenal to deter or even annoy Kovalev in the least….and after going down in the second and third rounds it was over. Some may rip Kovalev for taking a fight like this but I say you can’t blame him. The way boxing is set up today with so many faux organizations and belts, fringe contenders usually go onto become a mandatory challenger for one of the title holders at some point. At least Sergey did what elite fighters are supposed to do when confronting inferior opposition, that is get rid of the pretender dramatically and quickly.

Unfortunately for Kovalev, his division isn’t littered with challengers who make up a murderers row, like the killers Bob Foster and Michael Spinks had to deal with in order to capture and then defend the title against during their reigns as undisputed light heavyweight champion. With Mohammedi out of the way now, we can look forward to Sergey making mandatory defenses against Andrzej Fonfara 27-3 (16), Dominic Boesel 19-0 (6), along with the before mentioned Beterbiev. And of the three, the only match up that boxing fans would have the slightest interest in seeing is Kovalev vs Beterbiev, simply because Artur beat Sergey as an amateur, not that that means anything.

Henry Tillman beat Mike Tyson during the Olympic trials in 1984. Bob Foster and Jimmy Ellis beat Muhammad Ali as amateurs and Buster Mathis beat Joe Frazier during the 1964 Olympic trials. Everyone one of the fighters mentioned who won the amateur bout went on to be outclassed by the loser when they met as professionals.

What happened between Kovalev and Beterbiev in 2007 fighting for a trophy means nothing as to what will happen if they fight as pros. Ismayl Sillakh also beat Kovalev as an amateur. However when they fought as pros in 2013, Kovalev destroyed Sillakh (21-1) in two rounds. Beterbiev is very strong and aggressive but he hasn’t fought nearly the same level of opposition that Kovalev has. Being in the ring with Bernard Hopkins earned Kovalev a Bachelor’s degree. Add to that Kovalev won 35 out of 36 minutes against Hopkins through 12-rounds, you may as well say Kovalev received his Master’s degree in pugilism that night.

Obviously Kovalev will continue to stay active making mandatory defenses against over-matched challengers. Then again, it’s not like he has much of a choice. If Stevenson won’t face him, the next best thing is for him to remain active and compile victories while keeping his name in front of the public. With each passing defense Kovalev seems to become more confident and sure of himself. And it’s hard not to get the feeling if and when Kovalev and Stevenson finally do confront each other, Kovalev is the one who will be better prepared to handle the moment. I hate getting into the mind of world class fighters, but it’s impossible not to think Kovalev really does want to fight Stevenson because he legitimately wants to beat him up….whereas I get the feeling Stevensons wishes that somehow Kovalev would disappear without them confronting each other.

Kovalev did exactly what he should’ve against Mohammedi, he annihilated him. And once again served notice to Adonis Stevenson and the other fighters in the division as to who the fighter to beat at light heavyweight is.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.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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