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Mismatches Need Not Apply; Fight Night Series Promises Competitive Bouts



Mismatches Need Not Apply; Fight Night Series Promises Competitive Bouts – The NBC Sports Network is starting a boxing series, which kicks off on Jan. 21, and I am rooting for the venture to succeed. Main Events, run by Kathy Duva, is the promoter in charge of putting together Fight Night Series, and I am hoping that the endeavor is a success for them as well.

This is not because I happen to think Kathy Duva is a decent soul who does business the right way, and is a promoter who actually promotes the sport and the fighters the old school (read: correct) way. I do think that, but that is beside the point. I root for NBCSN and Main Events to make a splash with the four shows which are slated to run in 2012 because I want the sport as a whole to succeed, and the more avenues boxers have to show their stuff, the better off the sport will be.

Ideally, boxing gets back where it belongs, on terrestrial TV. That issue came up on a Monday conference call, featuring Jon Miller, President of NBC Sports and Versus (Versus is the cable net which will be re-named NBC Sports Network on Jan. 2), Duva and Russell Peltz, the Philly promoter-matchmaker who will find the fights, along with Duva, which will run on Fight Night.

“I’m excited to be getting our team back on boxing,” Miller said, recalling that NBC used to put on 20-30 shows a year in the early 90s. He said that the sport has been a bit underground in the last decade, and that his crew recognized an opportunity to get some compelling live programming for his company.

I am always hoping that fights get back on “free TV” as I think it’s a no brainer that it is in the best interest of the growth of the sweet science to have as many eyeballs as we can get on the athletes and the superior drama a scintillating prizefight can deliver. Miller didn’t promise that we’d be seeing fights or cards running on NBC on Saturday afternoon again, but I hold out hope. He did say that if things go well on Saturday night of Jan. 21, and March 24, the second pegged date, he would consider adding more shows to the mix. Shows will run in June and December of 2012, he said.

Miller said he was happy to be doing business with Duva, and he hooked up with her because he heard what he wanted from Main Events: that they will strive to show pick ‘em fights, and won’t be in the business of making showcase matches, to build up prospects’ records or give stars stay-busy opportunities. He did make clear that it would make sense to branch out into more marquee matchups, since NBC Sports Network is owned by Comcast, which is the largest cable network in the US.

Duva said she didn’t want to release monetary figures, reasoning that if she said that NBC paid her X amount, other promoters, who are encouraged to bring their fighters into the mix, and also manager, will be married to a set figure. She made it clear that the purses going to the fighters will exceed the fee paid by NBC. She also said they wouldn’t be focusing and overpaying for one fight, at the expense of the whole card.

That Main Events is a lean and mean company, and doesn’t have 30 or 60 fighters in their stable, she said, will allow them more leeway in searching for the best quality bouts.

Peltz said he was psyched to be putting on the first show away from a casino, and the frequently sterile atmosphere which can often be found there. The Jan. 21 show, pitting heayweight Eddie Chambers against Sergei Liakhovich and Gabriel Rosado against Jesus Soto-Karass, in a junior middleweight scrap will take place at Philly’s Asylum Arena. Rosado and Chambers are Pennsylvania guys, so we can presume their people will be a loud presence and help generate electricity in Asylum.

Fight fans have been curious to know if we will see one, two or more bouts in the new series. Duva said probably three bouts will air from each show.

Apart from this series being a potential entry onto free TV (read: NBC), I’m also hoping that it helps usher out the emphasis on the undefeated record in boxing. Rosado has five losses but is a fan fave, and Soto-Karass is coming off back-to-back losses to Mike Jones, but is a volume guy who comes to bang. Fans would rather see guys with losses in competitive bouts than coddled hitters with puffed up records staying busy against speedbumps, and it is time that UFC mentality, of not lionizing the loss-less, trickles down to us.

Peltz drew laughs when he recollected his involvement in fights on NBC in the early 80s. Every Frank “the Animal” Fletcher fight, he said, “was like Armageddon” and had Peltz popping Valium to stay sane.

He reiterated that this series won’t be the place where we’ll see a future star inch his way up the ladder, taking on progressively better foes, but each time entering a fight in which he is the far and away favorite. “We don’t want to sacrifice the integrity of the series to have a guy 9, 10-0 and give them a free pass,” he said. “There are more undefeated folks parading around than in the history of boxing.”

Mismatches Need Not Apply; Fight Night Series Promises Competitive Bouts / Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

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Fast Results From London: Joshua Takes Out Povetkin in the 7th



UK sporting

It was a very wet night at Wembley Stadium, but the dampness didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd which welcomed UK sporting hero Anthony Joshua into the ring with a thunderous ovation. And Joshua didn’t disappoint. After six relatively even rounds, he found his range in the seventh and became the first man to stop Alexander Povetkin. A three punch combo that began with an overhand right sent Povetkin sprawling into the ropes. The Russian beat the count, but Joshua smelled blood and as soon as the ref allowed the proceedings to continue he moved in for the kill. The official time was 1:59.

Povetkin started fast and in the eyes of many observers won the first three rounds. A sharp right hand in the waning seconds of round one reddened Joshua’s nose which leaked blood in the next round. The tide began to turn in round four when Povetkin suffered a cut above his left eye.

Povetkin (now 34-2), was the lighter man by 23 pounds. Joshua had a four inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage. And it mattered greatly that AJ was the younger man by 10-plus years. Povetkin wasn’t intimidated by Joshua and had several good moments but, at age 39, his reflexes betrayed him once the fight had crossed the midpoint.

Joshua, who owns three of the four meaningful heavyweight title belts, improved to 22-0 with his 21st stoppage. His next fight is penciled in for April 13 of next year against an opponent to be determined. His promoter Eddie Hearn has reserved that date at Wembley Stadium.

Other Bouts

In a 12-round lightweight bout, Joshua’s Olympic Games teammate and fellow gold medalist Luke Campbell (19-2) avenged the first loss of his career with a unanimous decision (119-109, 118-111,116-112) over France’s Yvan Mendy (40-5-1). This was Campbell’s second start since coming up short in a bid for Jorge Linares’s lightweight title and his first fight under his new trainer Shane McGuigan.

In their first meeting in December of 2015 at London’s O2 Arena, Mendy won a split decision that should have been unanimous. Campbell insisted that he had improved greatly in the interim and tonight’s fight bore witness. However, he needs to develop a harder punch to rank among the top lightweights in the world, a list headed by Mikey Garcia. As this fight was framed as a WBC title eliminator, Campbell is next in line to meet Garcia, but Mikey has indicated that he will pursue bigger game.

Lawrence Okolie, a 2016 Olympian who trains with Anthony Joshua, won a Lonsdale belt in only his 10th pro start with a 12-round decision over defending BBBofC cruiserweight champion Matty Askin in a messy fight. The undefeated Okolie had a point deducted in round five for leading with his head and had two more points deducted for holding, but banked enough rounds to get the nod on all three cards: 116-110, 114-112, and 114-113. Askin, who declined to 23-4-1, had won five straight heading in.

A 10-round heavyweight match between Sergey Kuzmin (13-0, 1 NC) and David Price (22-6) ended suddenly when Price retired on his stool after four relatively even rounds. The six-foot-eight, china-chinned Price claimed to have aggravated a biceps tear.

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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.



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



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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