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The Beast of Stillman’s Gym, Part 1



The Beast of Stillman’s Gym


In the years after World War I, a ghostly lodge of southern terrorists reemerged as a movement with real clout. By 1924 it was at the peak of its power and Texas was the most infested state in America with 170,000 Ku Klux Klansmen armed and organized, every one of them a member of the Democratic Party. Republicans, the Grand Old Party of Lincoln (and then-President Calvin Coolidge) often failed to even muster a candidate for state and local elections.

Like a cactus before the setting sun, fascism cast its lengthening shadow. Dissent wasn’t stifled so much as stomped to protect the interests, real and imagined, of white Protestant Texans. Those guilty of morals violations were taken from their homes and flogged, beaten, shot, or left blind-folded with placards leaning against their broken forms. “Undesirables” were ordered out of town. At Sour Lake, a justice of the peace was tarred and feathered as was a U.S. Marshal in Brenham who later resigned. The governor spoke out publically against the Klan on Independence Day in 1921 and the Klan responded with warnings posted right there on the grounds of the State Capitol.

To black Texans scattered throughout the arid landscape in the early 1920s, it was a reign of terror. Lynch Law was ever-present and selectively applied: Between 1900 and 1924 nine whites were lynched compared with 171 African Americans, and the latter were almost invariably mutilated before and after death by mobs. Simply being friendly toward white women could mean permanent disfigurement if your skin was dark. Neither respectability nor age made any difference. A dentist was mutilated for “associating” with white women. Two bellboys were snatched within two weeks in the same city, beaten, and held down while the letters “KKK” were burned into their foreheads with acid.

These atrocities were committed with impunity because the machinery of government –-the legislature, city halls, the courts, law enforcement–- was infested. When a thousand members marched in full regalia through Dallas carrying torches and waving banners like a conquering army, city authorities added to the spectacle by extinguishing the lights. In 1923, the KKK even managed to deliver one of their own into the United States Senate.

President Coolidge was no friend of the Klan. In 1924 alone he granted Native Americans full citizenship, gave a speech at the Catholic Holy Name Society in Washington, and stood, however stiffly, at a podium in Howard University where he declared the “progress of the colored people on this continent” as one of the “marvels of modern history.” He unsuccessfully urged a Democrat-dominated Congress to pass anti-lynching laws and appointed black men to federal positions. Emmett J. Scott, Secretary-Treasurer at Howard University thanked him for the “great encouragement” he was bringing to the twelve million African Americans who suffered “persecution by a hooded order which seeks to exclude them from the privileges of American citizenship.” “They know Calvin Coolidge,” Scott wrote. “They know his traditional friendship and they know of his distinguished services in behalf of their race.”

In Victoria, Texas on January 24th 1924, a black auto mechanic welcomed his second son into the world. The infant was given the name Calvin Coolidge Lytle.

The city of Victoria is thirty miles north of the Gulf of Mexico at the intersection of three highways. That fact and its equidistant location from four major cities earned it a nickname: “The Crossroads of South Texas.” For George W. Lytle and his wife Virginia, it was good place to raise a family.

Calvin’s playpen was his father’s auto shop. He was tinkering early and probably scolded regularly for coming into the house with greasy hands. After school and on Sundays, he was a barefoot newsy hawking the Victoria Advocate. He didn’t have to worry about his turf because his big brother, whose name was Loyal, held rivals in check. There was one fight Calvin had when he was eleven: “The kid was a lefty. I was a righty. He gave me such a licking I decided if I ever got into another fight I’d fight like him. So I turned around. I bat left-handed. In football I pass with my left-hand. I’m left-handed all the way now.”

South Texas was far from idyllic for African Americans, but the diminished influence of the KKK, which can be traced to the year of Calvin’s birth, cut the tension in half. Not unlike any other American family, the Lytles huddled up as the Great Depression fell on the country and business slowed to a crawl at the shop. The family of four went on relief and soon became a family of three. On October 22nd 1936, Virginia Lytle died after a common accident became something worse. Calvin was all of twelve years old.

Records show that Loyal Lytle enlisted in the U.S. Army in June 1941. When Calvin turned 17 in January, he became eligible to join the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC, one of the most popular of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, operated between 1933 and 1942 and was intended for unmarried, unemployed young men from families on relief. Between April and September, Calvin was a member of Co. 2873(C) with the “C” standing for “colored.” He lived in a segregated barracks at Ascarate County Park in El Paso and worked 40 hours a week doing heavy, unskilled and semiskilled labor outdoors for $30 a month, with $25 of that being sent home. After September, he returned home to live with his father.

On December 1st 1941, his father died.

Calvin turns up in San Antonio as the ward of a county judge named C.W. Anderson (whose name is now attached to a loop on the San Antonio freeway). He got a job, or Anderson pulled strings and got him a job as a soda jerker. It was a plum of a position, particularly for a black teenager in Texas. Those weeks or months that Calvin wore that black bow tie must have been a high point, flipping scoops of ice cream into malts for tips, and girls.

On March 8th 1942, he found himself standing in a Navy recruiting station in Houston. Pearl Harbor had been attacked and American men hoisted up the flag, beat their plowshares into swords, and went to war. Calvin didn’t have much of a choice. His enlistment papers reveal that Judge Anderson signed him up to become a messman in the naval reserves. They reveal more than that. Calvin wrote “serve my country” as his reason for enlisting. It’s a boiler plate answer that required no thought and that was probably transcribed. He scrawled the names of four men as character references, all of them black and from Victoria, two of them mechanics like his father, and none of them known by him for more than a year. There was no one else he could find in his life.

Reading his application for enlistment seventy years after he completed it is enough to make one feel oddly anxious for him. Confused, alone, and about to be sent headlong into something he was completely unprepared for, he was anxious for himself. His handwriting tells it all. The careful script, clumsy with mistakes that he took pains to correct, reveals a nervous hand. It looks like the work of an undereducated man writing his will.

Calvin was shipped off to the messman training center in Norfolk, Virginia. Eight weeks of boot camp included immunizations, gas mask instruction, swimming lessons, and training to properly polish shoes and silverware and set white officers’ tables. Calvin wore a bow-tie again, though it was a step down from the soda fountain. In the United States Navy, African Americans could expect to be nothing but mess attendants and mess attendants were nothing but servants on the lowest rung of the ship’s pecking order.

He was stationed at the U.S. Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone from the end of May until the beginning of August 1942. He’d get a lousy two day pass, and would do what many sailors did –-swagger into a kit kat club and stagger out with rum on his breath and a good time girl on his arm. Calvin’s sexual experiences may or may not have earned him accolades from other messmen; they definitely earned him the “burn.” Contracting venereal diseases was common enough to become proverbial. Enlisting in the Navy, the saying went, was “to be sent out a sacrifice and come home a burnt offering.”

When he wasn’t on what might loosely be called active duty, he played baseball. One rainy day, he found his way into a boxing gym. A 6-foot white man was waiting around for a sparring partner when a coach spotted Calvin and invited him over to see if the gloves fit. They fit just fine. “I just tore into the guy. He was in no condition. I could see that,” he recalled in an interview a few years later at Stillman’s Gym. “I knocked him down with a left to the solar plexus and a right to the jaw.” The white man got up and proceeded to give Calvin, who had never boxed before, his first lesson in leather-pushing. “He started to get me,” he would later admit, “and hurt me a little.”

As he climbed out of the ring, the surprised coach walked up to him.

“You know who you were in with?” he said, “That was Billy Soose!”

Billy Soose was the former middleweight champion of the world. Calvin was signed up for the Navy boxing team on the spot. He remembered that it was a Thursday; on Sunday he had his first three-round, two-minute bout and scored a knockout.

Boxing was the only credit on his ledger. His tour of duty was fixing to be about as pleasant as the clap. While researching his book The Messman Chronicles: African Americans in the U.S. Navy 1932-1943, Richard E. Miller was warned that many veterans would deny that they served as “lowly messboys.” Deprived of the chance to prove themselves in battle, the vast majority of black sailors had to contend with daily humiliations instead. American prejudice could be rabid in the forties, but in the confined society of a ship it was magnified, particularly when southern officers and soldiers were involved. Messmen generally coped by keeping a low profile and preserving their dignity as best they could, though a few played the role of the smiling ‘Sambo’ servant in hopes of having an easier time.

Calvin rebelled.

Nine days after being transported for duty to the naval air station in British Guiana in September 1942, he was in the brig. He spent five days in solitary confinement for disorderly conduct. In December he was “absent from duty” for six days and ended up back in the brig. In March he stole a Navy truck. The commanding officer took away his liberty for two months as well as $32 of the $42 he earned during that time. In April he earned five more days solitary confinement on nothing except bread and water for “Neglect of duty”; in May he earned another month’s restriction for “Falsehood.”

In June he was transferred. During his new assignment on board the U.S.S. Surprise, he was disciplined for shirking watch duty, profane language, insubordination, leaving ship without proper authority, theft, and possession of another man’s liberty card and “a lewd picture.” All told, he was at captain’s mast for disciplinary issues no less than eight times. By November 1943 he was locked up at a U.S. Naval receiving station in New York and awaiting a summary court martial. The problems didn’t end. Calvin was in a U.S. Naval Hospital for twenty days for a medical issue that was “the result of his own misconduct.”

When his enlistment expired in March 1944 no one complained; least of all him. The court martial’s sentence stipulated that he be given a “bad conduct discharge” and further stipulated that he “IS NOT recommended for reenlistment. IS NOT recommended for Good Conduct Medal. IS NOT entitled to mustering out allowance.” Understandably, Calvin didn’t want to go back to Texas and face Judge Anderson. There was nothing left for him there, nothing and no one, and so he formally requested permission to disembark in New York. Permission was granted. With his head in a sling, Calvin was furnished with civilian clothes, handed his discharge certificate, and sent on his way.

“The navy mess attendant,” said one veteran, “had to be a fighter. He had to fight the Germans and the Japanese at sea, red necks in every port, and ignorant Negroes who wanted to insult him for being what he was when he got home.” Calvin managed to make a bad thing worse. After two years in the service, he managed to forfeit almost all of the privileges granted a navy man. He would receive no pension to help him along while he lived and no cemetery plot to help him along when he died.

He drifted over to Brooklyn and got a job at a garage near King’s Highway. As the son of a mechanic, he would have been comfortable in greasy coveralls with a rag sticking out of the pocket. Boraxo soap and gasoline fumes would have reminded him of home, of those all-too-brief better days when the Lytles were together, when he wasn’t alone. He hadn’t been working there long when the familiar bell announcing the arrival of a patron became a fortuitous one. During the conversation that followed, Calvin mentioned that he boxed a little and wanted to get back into it. The patron told him that he had a friend who managed fighters and took down his name. Calvin must have been pleasantly surprised when he received a phone call and then a visit from Bernie Bernstein, who operated out of Sammy Aaronson’s office over on Broadway.

Bernstein took Calvin over to the fabled Stillman’s Gym and threw him in the ring with a professional middleweight –-“just to see if he could really fight.”


The most remarkable breed of boxers is called “natural fighters.” One of them will surface at the center of the boxing universe in PART 2 OF “THE BEAST OF STILLMAN’S GYM.”


Graphic: Messmen serve a meal to junior officers on board a cruiser during World War II. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, U.S. National Archives.

Henry Peck Fry’s The Modern Ku Klux Klan pp. 185-189. “Lynching in Texas,” by David L. Chapman, thesis, 1973. Emmet Scott’s letter quoted in an essay by Alvin S. Felzenberg entitled “Calvin Coolidge and Race: His Record in Dealing with the Racial Tensions of the 1920s” (1988). U.S. Census report, 1920, 1930; Telephone interview with Ellen Choyce, October 2011; Texas Death Index, 1936,1941; James Wright Heeley’s Parks for Texas: Enduring Landscapes of the New Deal offers details about where CCC Co. 2873 was assigned before WW II. “Needed Some Exercise –Mauls Ex-Champ” and “Bert Lytell, The Black Streak of Lightning in Gloves” from The Ring, circa 1940s, courtesy of Douglas Cavanaugh. An invaluable resource for this essay was “The Negro in the Navy: First Draft Narrative” prepared by the Historical Section of Naval Personnel, and Black Submariners in the United States Navy, 1940-1975 by Glenn A. Knoblock. Michael E. Ruane’s interview of Lanier W. Phillips in the Washington Post, 9/20/10 accurately depicts the Navy’s treatment of African American messmen during World War II; statements regarding the navy mess attendant as a “fighter” quoted in Richard E. Miller’s The Messman Chronicles: African Americans in the U.S. Navy 1932-1943 pp. 280-281. The military service record of Calvin Coolidge Lytle was obtained from the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records, in St. Louis, MO through the Freedom of Information Act. The Ring spotlighted Bert Lytell in the December 1944 issue and this was kindly provided by Alister Ottesen for use as a resource.

Springs Toledo can be contacted at“>

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In Dismantling Povetkin, Joshua Recaptured His Swag among the Heavyweights



He was in against a very crafty and experienced opponent in former WBA titlist Alexander Povetkin 34-2 (24). And although he was troubled by the dangerous Russian fighting small as he tried to inch his way in and time him, AJ adjusted well and started to take the initiative and dropped and stopped Povetkin in the seventh round, retaining his WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titles and thus becoming the first fighter to ever stop Povetkin, something Wladimir Klitschko failed to do.

During the fight AJ was forced back. He had to adapt to Povetkin making him punch down and that caused him to be a little tentative, especially after being bloodied from a broken nose in the first round. And early on, AJ was a little confused and busy trying to keep Povetkin occupied from outside so he couldn’t get in on him. His most effective weapon in doing such was his left jab, delivered to the head or body, although the fight really turned when he began putting his one-two together. Then after a fairly evenly-paced bout, AJ slowed some with the hope it would lure Povetkin to close in a little harder, and he did.

As Povetkin, who came to fight, became more assertive, he became more vulnerable. AJ found the openings for his big right hand and left hook. With the first really solid right hand that bounced off his chin, Povetkin buckled and instinctively went back. Joshua pursued him and then, with near Joe Louis-like accuracy, put his right hands and hooks together, along with a beautiful right to the body in the middle of the assault and finished his game opponent.

Once again it was shown that trading with AJ is almost certain suicide. Povetkin was in great shape and would’ve been a handful for any other heavyweight in the world because he no doubt brought his A-game. Sometimes it takes AJ a little while to get going, and if you don’t do anything to bother him or wake him up, he doesn’t fight with the urgency of a “Smokin” Joe Frazier. However, when you wake him up and force him to cut loose, he’s so dangerous that he doesn’t need too many clean shots to end it. And making Joshua more lethal is that he has both short and inside power in both hands.

After months of hearing how Povetkin was the most serious threat to Joshua, that’s now finished business. Prior to the bout The Ring magazine rated the top six heavyweights in the world as follows…..Joshua, Wilder, Povetkin, Ortiz, Whyte and Parker, in that order. Now Joshua is 3-0 (2) versus Povetkin, Whyte and Parker which squashes the narrative that he has fought weaker opposition than WBC title holder Deontay Wilder 40-0 (39) who has only faced Ortiz among the top six.

Today, the most widely levied criticism of any elite fighter is that he didn’t fight the best man or men in his division. Fighters can’t control who their contemporaries are but they can control fighting the best of their era. Rocky Marciano’s era wasn’t stellar, but he fought every top fighter who was in line to challenge him. Floyd Mayweather fought in a stout era – the difference is an overwhelming majority of his bouts with big name opponents were strategically manipulated so that he faced them on the downside of their career – and that’s a fact, not a theory.

Forty years after his last victory in a title fight, Muhammad Ali is respected and revered as a fighter even by those who don’t claim to be a fan of his. Why? He wasn’t the most fundamental boxer in heavyweight history nor was he the biggest puncher, and not all of his fights were edge of your seat exciting. The thing that’s often cited as to why he was a marvel is that he fought the best of the best during one of the deepest eras in heavyweight history. There were a few times between 1975-77 that he held a win over every fighter ranked among The Ring magazine’s top-10. Sure he fought a few Brian London’s and Jean Pierre Coopman’s, but London was encompassed by Sonny Liston and Ernie Terrell during the 1960s and Coopman by Joe Frazier and Ken Norton during the 1970s.

Anthony Joshua hasn’t yet sniffed the greatness of Ali on many levels, but he is on the same trajectory in regards to meeting and defeating the best of his generation. By the end of this month, the WBC heavyweight title fight between Deontay Wilder and former champ Tyson Fury will likely become official with them meeting in early December. And regardless of who wins, Joshua, if he really wants to etch a great legacy, must pressure the winner to meet him in their next bout. In addition to that, he must tell his brain, aka Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn, to forget about winning the purse war if it is the only stumbling block. If the winner of Wilder-Fury is impressive, he will have earned a 50-50 split.

During the faux negotiations between the Joshua and Wilder camps this past summer the purse split was the focal point. And prior to the prospect of Wilder and Fury meeting, Joshua clearly held the better hand based on his resume and owning three titles to Wilder’s single title.  But the Wilder-Fury winner will have closed the gap and Joshua needs to be next while the fighters are at or near their prime. The fact is Joshua versus the Wilder/Fury winner will be the most widely anticipated fight in the heavyweight division since Lewis-Tyson and maybe even since Tyson-Holyfield I. The onus is on the fighters to make it happen and they both have the clout to make sure it does, especially Joshua.

Interviewed in the ring after dispatching Povetkin, AJ said it didn’t matter to him who he fought next as long as it’s Wilder or Fury, but it was obvious that he preferred Wilder. A lot depends on how Wilder fares with Fury, but until then, here’s what we know…..Alexander Povetkin and Luis Ortiz are about on the same level; having never faced each other, it’s a tossup as to who’d win. Both Joshua and Wilder scored impressive stoppages over Povetkin and Ortiz respectively…AJ needed seven rounds and Deontay needed ten rounds. During his bout with Ortiz, Wilder was knocked around the ring and had to endure a few big exchanges, some of which he came out second-best. Wilder was also nearly stopped in the seventh round but battled back, summoning great courage and reserve to win a fight he was losing. Against Povetkin, Joshua was more troubled than he was beaten up. And once he found his range and pace and began putting his punches together, the fight ultimately ended when AJ got off with his best stuff. In essence, Joshua was more impressive against Povetkin and had fewer close calls than did Wilder against Ortiz.

Between now and the time Wilder fights Tyson Fury, it’ll be debated as to who was more impressive – Joshua against Povetkin or Wilder against Ortiz; the answer is clearly Joshua for the reasons stated. Moreover, when analyzing a fight, A + B doesn’t equal C. Joshua will be favored over either Wilder or Fury, but probably along the line of 7-5 and nothing will change that.

The thing that emerged from Joshua dismantling Povetkin is that AJ recaptured some of the limelight and swag he ceded to Wilder this past March. AJ is again the fighter to beat in the heavyweight division and will probably get the bigger purse split regardless of whether he faces Wilder and Fury.

That said, he better not let the fight fall through over it!

Between 1977 and 1982, Frank Lotierzo had over 50 fights in the middleweight division. He trained at Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia under the tutelage of the legendary George Benton. Before joining The Sweet Science his work appeared in several prominent newsstand and digital boxing magazines and he hosted “Toe-to-Toe” on ESPN Radio. Lotierzo can be contacted at

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Tanaka vs. Kimora: A Monday Morning Treat For Serious Fight Fans



Kosei Tanaka was just 4-0 the first time he was appraised on The Sweet Science back in 2015; the question then was, is Tanaka the world’s brightest boxing prospect? The question now is whether or not Tanaka is about to add a strap at a third weight to an already glittering career that has seen him annex belts at 105 and 108lbs in just his first eight fights.

Now 11-0 with seven knockouts he prepares, this coming Monday, to duel Sho Kimura in Nagoya, Japan and with a lot more than just the WBO trinket on the line.

Hearts and minds, as always, translate into dollars and yen. The winner of this all-Japanese contest will find himself buoyed in fame, glory and gold in his home country, which also happens to be one of the few places on the planet where a boxer can collect a small fortune without ever leaving his native shores. Should the winner dare to dream a wider dream, then that too can be facilitated by the win.  Even fistic denizens of boxing strongholds in Japan and Britain feel a shiver run down their spines when the words “Las Vegas headliner” are whispered into their ear.

The favored man among the hardcore in the west is Tanaka. He is still very young at just twenty-three years old and is slick and quick, what the west expects of a Japanese force. Interestingly enough, however, the Japanese seem to be leaning towards Kimura: older, at twenty-nine, armed with a superb work-rate, good power, limited technique but the conqueror of Chinese superstar Shiming Zou who he stopped in the summer of 2017. Zou may have had his bubble burst by the Thai brawler Amnat Ruenroeng in 2015, but it was Kimura who sent him stumbling into retirement and at a time when the talk was of China stealing Japan’s thunder as boxing’s home in the east.

Kimura was indeed impressive that night in Shanghai. He maintained pressure with wonderful variety, eschewing the jab, perhaps, for spells, but filling those gaps with an assortment of wonderful punches, most of all his body attack, which was persistent, withering, and apparently went unscored by two of the three judges who somehow had the Chinese ahead at the time of the eleventh round stoppage. Zou had shown a skill for flurrying while fleeing and Kimura had shown him how to fight.

Now a strapholder at 112lbs, Kimura staged two defenses in the following twelve months. The first was against Toshiyuki Igarashi, the man who beat Sonny Boy Jaro, the man who had beaten the superb champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam before a softer fight against Froilan Saludar. He won both by stoppage.

Kimura, then, rather came from nowhere but made the most of his arrival. What he displayed in all three of these fights was a determination to offer pressure and footwork educated enough to do it while taking many fewer steps than his harried opponent. A tad overrated as a puncher, I suspect, he places himself in hitting position often enough that his default fight plan – chase, harass, throw – makes him capable of hurting his opponents by way of persistence and pressure.

He left Zou, Igarashi and Saludar, broken in his wake.

In short, he is the type of opponent Kosei Tanaka has been waiting for.

There have been calls for Tanaka to be considered a pound-for-pound talent should he overcome Kimura this Monday. I understand the impulse. Tanaka, were he to triumph, would become a three-weight world champion and he hails from a boxing territory which has little direct control over the meaningful pound-for-pound lists, if such a statement is not a contradiction in terms.

In short, it is felt he would be undervalued.

Tempering these calls is the fact that he has never beaten a divisional number one and that Kimura would be, by far, the best opponent he would have bested, and the most proven. Some Tanaka opponents have come good after he defeated them, some were ranked in the lower reaches of their respective divisional top tens when he matched them, but none are scalps as impressive as those dangled by the likes of Errol Spence or Anthony Joshua, who populate the nine, ten and eleven spots in reputable lists.

But this is neither here nor there; the key is not what Kimura does not represent, it is what he does represent. He is the best that Tanaka has met and, I would argue, the first truly elite fighter that Tanaka has met. He is the litmus test and he is one with a stylistic advantage.

Tanaka can punch. Here we will find out whether or not he punches hard enough to keep Kimura off him. Personally, I doubt it and that means that Kimura is going to hand him a serious gut check.

Interestingly, it will not be Tanaka’s first. The first time I wrote about him I stressed that his chin was essentially untested. That is no longer true. Tanaka, who is reasonably sound defensively, can be lazy in minding himself and foolish in pursuing the attack.

Thai puncher Rangsan Chayanram checked him in 2017, delivering a serious eye injury among other ignominies before succumbing in nine; puncher Angel Acosta, a ranked fighter if not a great one, hit and hurt Tanaka repeatedly late in their 2017 contest. If Tanaka has been learning these lessons, expectations concerning his potential may be realized. If he is not, he will fall short. Kimura is the man to test him.

Kimura’s experience and seemingly limitless twelve-round stamina are to be pitted against Tanaka’s skill, proven heart and taut footwork. It sees a superior technician – Tanaka – who has shown a propensity for being drawn into a cruder fighter’s wheelhouse matching an aggressive stalker – Kimura – who specializes in drawing technically superior foes into knockdown-drag-out scraps.

It is framed both as a fight that is likely to finish a future pound-for-pounder’s education and a fight where a young pretender is found out by a grizzled veteran.

Best of all, it is a fight that fight fans can watch for free, simply by clicking here.  The Asian Boxing website has secured exclusive international rights to the fight and will broadcasting it, free of charge, to anyone with an internet connection. As can be seen here, the fight is due to start at 4pm Japanese time.

All the reader has to do is find out what that means for timing in their own corner of the globe and a potential fight of the year will unfold before his or her eyes free of charge.

World class boxing being broadcast for free and including two of the best below 115lbs; a stylistic crossroads contest that opens up the on-ramp to pound-for-pound recognition for at least one of the combatants – on a Monday.  All facts worth keeping in mind the next time that someone tells you boxing’s prime was any number of decades ago.

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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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