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Morilla’s Spit Bucket – Devon Back on the Beam, Bombastic Tyson Fury and More

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Spit Bucket

The Spit Bucket is your weekly source of random thoughts, opinions and comments about the Manly Art, compiled by TSS boxing writer Diego Morilla. Make your suggestions and comments and dare to give us your own short commentary on this week’s boxing issues by sending us an email at diegomorillabox@hotmail.com .

Alexander Overcomes His Addiction First, Then Castillo

In a fight that took place on Tuesday, Nov. 21 in St. Petersburg, Florida, former two division champion Devon “The Great” Alexander produced a throwback performance against Nicaragua’s Walter Castillo in what turned out to be a 10-round one-sided pummeling, worthy of Alexander’s best years, back when he was on a short list of future pound-for-pound entrants and considered one of boxing’s finest.

But things went awry for Alexander (pictured on the left) starting in Dec. 2012 when he lost to Shawn Porter to start a 1-3 streak over the next two years before disappearing from the scene. We now know that Alexander was battling an opiod addiction during the long layoff before his Castillo fight, and it is nothing short of amazing to see him return in full force after such a potentially devastating situation. Thousands of people die in cheap inflatable water slides the United States every year from this epidemic, and yet Alexander not only overcame his addiction but he also recovered well enough to steer his career back towards the promise of “greatness” embedded in his nickname. Castillo is no measuring stick in that quest, that’s clear, but the signs are encouraging, and now the talent-rich welterweight division has one more contender to include in its championship brackets.

Tyson Fury

Like him or loathe him, Tyson Fury is one of the most interesting characters in sports. And for a fellow who hasn’t fought in two years, he sure knows how to keep his name in the news. The self-styled “Gypsy King,” who is 29 and looks 39, is the best showman to come down the pike since the young Muhammad Ali.

Fury jumped at the opportunity to challenge Tony Bellew when Bellew’s Dec. 17 fight with David Haye fell out. Fury offered to fight Bellew in May after he sheds six stone, the equivalent of 84 (!) pounds. Goodness that’s a lot of weight to lose, even if it’s distributed over a six-foot-nine frame.

“It’d be no contest,” he tweeted, “one uppercut.” After destroying Bellew, Fury said he would offer Bellew’s trainer a job holding his spit bucket. As for the current crop of heavyweight title-holders, Fury dismisses them as a “bunch of bums.”

Fury is back in training, but whether we see ever him in the ring again is questionable. In October of last year, after he pulled out of his rematch with Wladimir Klitschko for a second time, conceding he wasn’t fit to fight, Frank Lotierzo wrote, “Fury just doesn’t want to be a fighter any longer. It is as simple as that. He achieved his career goal and the thought of putting himself through the agony and torture he had to endure to get the title is overwhelming him.”

History informs us that Fury will inevitably return, even if his heart isn’t in it. It’s a simple matter of economics. The great baseball pitcher Sandy Koufax, who retired at age 31, once said that he miscalculated. He retired with enough money to last the rest of his life, but found out this was only true if he stopped spending.  — Arne K. Lang

Dueling Fight Cards Reflect Poorly on Oscar

HBO has an attractive card on Saturday, Dec. 9. The fight between Orlando Salido and Miguel Roman shapes up as a barnburner and there are several other intriguing bouts on the TV portion of the show. But the timing is terrible.

The HBO card goes head-to-head with the Top Rank card in New York which will attract a much larger audience on ESPN. The undercard on that show is junk, but the main go between Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux is far more compelling than all of the HBO fights wrapped into one.

The HBO show is co-promoted by Golden Boy which arranged most of the matches. It wasn’t long ago that Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya was throwing venom at Floyd Mayweather and his collaborators at Showtime for stealing his thunder. Oscar had already locked in a big show at the StubHub Center when the Mayweather-McGregor fight was potted on the same date. Oscar was understandably livid. But here he goes trying to wean some of the audience away from a show that was set in stone before he and his cohorts concocted an alternative.

Oh well, better too much boxing than too little. And we can always tape the HBO show for future viewing. — Arne K. Lang

We Haven’t Seen Mayweather’s Best Hand Yet

Even before his retirement, Floyd Mayweather Jr. has managed to exploit his name as a brand in many other ventures. Notably, he had a cringe-worthy participation in Wrestlemania against the towering Big Show in a multi-million dollar appearance, he opened a “gentleman’s club” in Las Vegas (don’t ask me how I know this, but word in the streets is that cab and Uber drivers have had to google the location of the venue at the request of certain boxing observers interested exclusively in the journalistic and anthropological value of visiting such a place) and his TMT brand merchandise is among the most heavily counterfeited sports merchandise brands in the Western Hemisphere.

Now, Mayweather is trying his hand at something different. Literally.

It was recently announced that a company called One Entertainment announced a deal between Playtrex (developer of social casino games) and Hero Digital Entertainment (mobile games publisher) that will make Floyd Mayweather a “virtual host” and participant of their mobile game called Wild Poker, in which “Money” will be prominently featured among virtual players who take the form of wild animals and play the game according to their real life features. If you choose to be a shark, you will be an aggressive predator in your poker hands, and so forth. If the players chooses Mayweather as their avatars, they will be able to take advantage of Mayweather’s special skills in the game and use them in a poker context.

And if this doesn’t fit your idea of finally fulfilling your dream of getting in the ring with Mayweather, fret not, for there are options for you too. Mayweather is planning to launch a gym franchise all over the US and presumably abroad as well, with the first Mayweather Boxing + Fitness facility set to open in the Los Angeles area in January.

Photo credit: Douglas DeFelice / Premier Boxing Champions

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Fast Results From Belfast: Fury UD 10; Frampton TKO’s Jackson

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Carl Frampton dreamed about displaying his wares in historic Windsor Park, the home of Northern Ireland’s national soccer team, and when the day finally came he was upstaged by a big galoot from across the Irish Sea in Manchester. The locals may have been more interested in seeing Frampton and his Belfast buddy Paddy Barnes, but globally the fulcrum of the show was Tyson Fury who appeared in a supporting bout against former sparring partner Francesco Pianeta.

At the weigh-in, Fury, who turned 30 this week, tipped the scale at 258 pounds, 18 pounds lighter than 10 weeks ago when he launched his comeback. Pianeta, four inches shorter than Fury at 6’5”, weighed a career high 254 ½, quite a departure from Fury’s first comeback opponent, Sefir Sefiri, a pipsqueak by comparison.

Fury vs. Pianeta went the full 10 and although Fury won every round, the self-styled Gypsy King did nothing to temper the opinion of those that don’t fancy his chances against Deontay Wilder. Pianeta seldom let his hands go in what was an uneventful and rather boring fight, and Fury’s punches carried little steam.

After the fight, Fury said that his performance was calculated to get in rounds and shed more ring rust. After the fight, both Wilder and Frank Warren, Fury’s promoter, said that Wilder vs. Fury was a done deal and that the date and venue would be firmed up in the coming week. Insiders expect the bout to transpire in November in Las Vegas.

Frampton

The rains came and came hard midway through the Fury-Pianeta fight and continued into the evening but that didn’t dim the enthusiasm of Carl Frampton’s supporters who welcomed him into the ring with a thunderous ovation. And Frampton, a former two-weight world champion, didn’t disappoint in his bout with the Aussie Luke Jackson, a scheduled 12-rounder for an interim WBC belt.

Jackson, who was 16-0 coming in, was game to the very end, but he was systematically broken down by Frampton who was the stronger man with heavier hands. In round eight, Frampton knocked Jackson to his knees with a harsh left hook to the rib cage and one could sense that the outclassed Aussie wasn’t likely to last the distance. The end came in the next round when Frampton landed another hard body shot followed by a looping left hand that snapped Jackson’s head back. At virtually that same moment, a towel came flying into the ring from Jackson’s corner. The official time was 1:21 of round nine.

Frampton improved to 26-1 with his 16th stoppage. He is expected to challenge IBF featherweight title holder Josh Warrington in December.

Paddy Barnes

A wicked body shot also factored into Paddy Barnes’ fight with defending WBC world flyweight champion Cristofer Rosales, but this punch left the crowd crestfallen.

Rosales (26-3, 19 KOs) ended matters in the fourth round with a wicked body punch that left Barnes on the canvas, writhing in pain, unable to beat the count.

Barnes, who had only five pro fights under his belt but a sterling amateur pedigree, bit off more than he could chew. The bookies weren’t fooled as Nicaragua’s Rosales, eight years the younger man at age twenty-three, opened a 5/2 favorite.

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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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