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RASKIN’S RANTS: Goodbye Friday Night Fights, Hello Alfredo Angulo

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By Eric Raskin:

As this wasn’t the most eventful weekend in boxing (televised main events were limited to a rare dull Friday Night Fights bout and a Saturday midnight ESPN Deportes fight that was over by about 12:02), this week’s one-email mailbag harkens back to the highly eventful Abner Mares-Joseph Agbeko fight from two Saturdays ago:

Hey Eric,

I just read your piece from this past Monday and I’m gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you about the judging of the Mares-Agbeko fight. 115-111 in favor of Mares is, as I’m sure you well know, 7-5 in rounds, which seems to me reasonable. You said yourself you gave Agbeko but one of the first six rounds, is it that farfetched to believe Abner won two more? Personally, I thought he did. How did you score the fight? I thought the third card, can’t remember the judge’s name, at 113-113 was too far in favor of Agbeko (7-5 for him). The oddest part of all of this is that despite probably four to five really close rounds in the second half of the fight, we didn’t get one truly wacky scorecard. I’ve come to expect decisions that somehow manage to be 115-113, 113-115, 117-111.

Best,

Robb

Hey Robb,

You make some valid points, and after thinking it through more carefully than I did before banging away impulsively on my keyboard last week, I have (almost) no problem with your 115-111 card. Still, I don’t have any regrets over what I wrote because the wording I used was “slightly too wide” and “questionable.” Had I used the word “unreasonable,” I would want to retract that.

My scorecard looked different than the 115-111 cards of Oren Shellenberger and Adalaide Byrd. I had it just 114-113 for Mares. But you’re right, 115-111 was reasonable—or at least just one point away from being reasonable. The only thing about the 115-111 card that I vehemently disagree with is that those judges gave Mares a 10-8 round in the 11th. The knockdown was so obviously a horrible call by ref Russell Mora, and Agbeko was doing just fine in the round otherwise, so to me, that was an obvious 10-9 knockdown round. Official judges at ringside and unofficial scorers at home alike need to use a little personal judgment and not just automatically make a round 10-8 because the ref says there was a knockdown. I didn’t have a problem with scoring the opening round 10-8 despite the shaky knockdown call, because Mares dominated the round so completely that it could almost have been 10-8 without a knockdown. But the 11th round was a different story. It was unfair enough to Agbeko just to make it 10-9 in the other guy’s favor.

In any case, while I had the fight six rounds apiece, with one 10-8 round, giving Mares a one-point win, I’m okay with a 7-5 scorecard and a 115-112 victory for Mares. I also think you could have given Agbeko one more early round than I did (the second was close) and had “King Kong” ahead 114-113. Bottom line: While I don’t quite agree with 115-111 (and I think Byrd’s scorecards are frequently off-base), maybe I was a tad harsh to rank the two judges who scored it that way among the “losers” of the evening. You’re right, Robb, there were no wacky scorecards here. Just a wacky ref who caused scorecards that didn’t reflect what really happened in the fight. With correct knockdown non-calls and reasonable low-blow deductions (conservatively, there should have been one deduction prior to the 11th round and a second one on the “knockdown” punch), Agbeko should have been at least a one-point winner.

And now let’s get the weekly Rants rolling, segueing seamlessly by starting with a note on the Mares-Agbeko rematch in the offing:

• Yes, the alphabet body involved in the Mares-Agbeko fight made a good decision in ordering an immediate rematch. But all of the alphabet embracers in the media, who are so very content with the status quo, shouldn’t rush to press with their “See, we need the alphabets!” columns. This is a rematch that the marketplace was going to dictate happen anyway, and Mares is a real fighter who wasn’t going to run away from it.

• You’ll notice in my Alexander Povetkin-Ruslan Chagaev article that will run later this week on TSS that I don’t write one single word about the silly alphabet title involved, and the story doesn’t suffer for it. Ignore, ignore, ignore. It’s not that hard, people.

• I spoke last week to Doug Loughrey, ESPN boxing’s director of programming and acquisitions, and he informed me that preliminary discussions have begun to get some extra boxing cards on the air late in the year if NBA games are missed. “If there’s not a positive end to the NBA lockout, some dates might open up toward November or December,” Loughrey said. “A lot of the college football games that would have been on ESPN2 would move over to ESPN to fill the NBA slot, and leave a hole on ESPN2 and a need for live programming. If the lockout happens, we’re prepared to step in.” I know most of the folks at ESPN, including Loughrey, aren’t actively rooting for a lockout. But as a boxing fan—and, importantly, as a 76ers fan—I sure am.

• I asked Amir Khan over the weekend if he regretted his conspiracy-theory tweets regarding the Robert Guerrero-Marcos Maidana cancellation. Khan said he wasn’t the one who sent those tweets; they were typed by a second tweeter on the grassy knoll.

• Glen Johnson is clearly the most credible opponent that was available for Lucian Bute to fight, and with Johnson having just fought Carl Froch, this bout will give us some indication of where Bute stands in relation to the Super Six finalists. So I’m fully in favor of Bute-Johnson happening. But at the same time, it’s getting hard to believe Johnson, at age 42 and with close losses in the past 24 months to Froch, Tavoris Cloud, and Chad Dawson is actually going to win a fight against an elite opponent. This fits the description of a quality bout that somehow is hard to get pumped for.

• I will say this, in terms of finding a reason to get pumped for Bute-Johnson: Johnson’s insistence on taking this fight for short money makes you wonder if he knows something the rest of us don’t.

• Is there any reason to think Oliver McCall won’t still be beating fourth-rate heavyweights when he’s in his sixties?

• Alfredo Angulo is back, and on Saturday night, “El Perro” proved he can defeat a chew toy. Instead of the stick-and-move, Joseph Gomez used the move-and-suck, which involves running for one minute, then taking a couple of clean punches and folding immediately. It wasn’t a very entertaining return for Alfredo Angulo, but at least he followed that old show-biz maxim about leaving us wanting more.

• I thought Andre Ward was solid overall providing color commentary on the season finale of Friday Night Fights, and he got off one outstanding line in defense of Demetrius Andrade as the unbeaten prospect started stinking it out in the main event: “This is not pride fighting. This is prize fighting.” I don’t know if it was an original line or not, but it was a fine turn of phrase just the same.

• Credit for another excellent line to fellow fight scribe David Greisman, who tweeted, “Is this Demetrius Andrade Dirrell?” There was an unmistakable Dirrell vs. Curtis Stevens vibe to the fight, though Andrade’s performance wasn’t as boring and maddening. I give Andrade a bit of a pass for the way he fought because Grady Brewer represented such an enormous step up in competition and because Brewer is a dangerous puncher.

• Maybe Andrade-Brewer wasn’t the ideal capper to the FNF season, but at least we got the super-slo-mo in the co-feature that offered blood splashing off of David Diaz’s face, followed by the magnificent undulating ear shot. For what it’s worth, I doubt that left hand from Hank Lundy lands so cleanly if Diaz isn’t busy trying to blink the blood out of his right eye.

• What’s less surprising: that Octomom is hitting the celebrity-boxing circuit, or that Damon Feldman is promoting it?

• It’s not tooting your own horn if you’re quoting someone else tooting it, right? In reference to last week’s episode of Ring Theory (http://ringtheory.podbean.com), one listener with impeccable taste emailed me to say “the Morales-Marquez-Barrera discussion was maybe the best boxing conversation I’ve ever heard.” If you want to discover for yourself what that listener was talking about, well, it’s not too late to subscribe and join our club of true fight fans.

Eric Raskin can be contacted at RaskinBoxing@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin and listen to new episodes of his podcast, Ring Theory, at http://ringtheory.podbean.com.

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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

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Michael Dutchover

ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

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Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face

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Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

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Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar

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Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

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