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The Beast of Stillman’s Gym, Part 2



The Beast of Stillman’s Gym


“The joint always smells wrong,” A.J. Liebling said about Stillman’s Gym. Even so, he could look at the soot covering its brick façade and see ivy –-“The University of Eighth Avenue,” he called it. Joe Rein calls it “The Center of the Boxing Universe” but something stayed in his nose too. He remembers the windows, “opaque with thirty years of grime” and sealed shut. Gene Tunney once demanded that someone pry them open, figuring the fresh air would do some good. “Fresh air?” said one of the regulars, “Why that stuff is likely to kill us!”

All the greats from boxing’s golden era trained at Stillman’s and thirty-five cents was all it took to rub shoulders with them all. Sometimes a king with an upcoming title defense would make an entrance and the price of admission would be raised. It was worth it. The artistry that unfolded in the exhibition rings was enough to make everyone forget the stench.

When Bernie Bernstein laced the gloves on a garage attendant he picked up on King’s Highway, no one gave him a second look. When he shoved him into one of the rings with a serious professional middleweight, you bet they did.

Urban crowds have found spectacles like this amusing since martyrs were shoved into Roman rings with serious lions. ‘Damnation ad bestia’ they used to call it and it’s never pretty. Here’s how it works: a bumpkin novice walks into a boxing gym. Eagle-eyed managers size him up to see if he’s an easy mark, a confidence-builder for his fighter. One of them approaches the novice with interest. The novice has faint misgivings but is too polite to turn back once his ears are filled up with fast-talk and the headgear is strapped on. Fifteen minutes later, a traumatized bumpkin leaves the gym. If he looks back it’s only because his head is spinning.

Bernstein’s bumpkin turned out to be something else altogether.

Calvin Coolidge Lytle, who had “boxed a little” in the navy “and wanted to get back into it,” beat the living hell out of a good middleweight right there in Stillman’s, right there in front of a snickering crowd. After that eye-opener, Bernstein would speak to savvy Sammy Aaronson and turn him professional. Tiny Patterson was selected as his manager of record, though she had a trainer’s license in only a few states. Bernstein would fill in everywhere else.

That was in the flag-waving spring of 1944. The truth of Calvin’s military service record could only hurt him, so the Aaronson office got right to work revising it. His bad conduct discharge became a medical discharge. All those captain’s masts, confinements in the brig, and the court martial were exchanged for a new narrative: Calvin was recast as a patriotic example who saw so much action in the European and Caribbean theatres that he was called “Lucky” for cheating death.

Calvin was indeed lucky. He was lucky enough to be close to the action in New York City and luckier still to have the backing of the Aaronson office, which had the largest stable of fighters in the world at the time. They took him over to Newark where he made his pro debut at the Meadowbrook Bowl.

He did not fight under his real name. Twelve years earlier, another fighter who eventually signed with the Aaronson office was fighting under the moniker “Cocoa Kid” in honor of the then-streaking Kid Chocolate. His right name was Herbert Lewis Hardwick and he was in New Haven at the same time that the famous Cuban was making headlines 75 miles away in Manhattan. News reports of the time parroted a claim concocted by managers that Cocoa Kid was also from Cuba, though he was born in Puerto Rico. By the summer of 1944, he had moved to Brooklyn after an honorable discharge from the Navy. He trained at Stillman’s and took Calvin under his wing. It is an aging Cocoa Kid’s fingerprints that can be seen all over that pro debut on July 17th 1944: Twenty-year-old Calvin was introduced to the fight mob as “Chocolate Kid of Cuba.”

The opponent was Artie Towne.

Towne was 9-0 and a stable mate of none other than Sugar Ray Robinson. He was already a highly skilled boxer-puncher who would later become what was called a “policeman” for Robinson. When solicited by certain opponents, Robinson’s management would reroute them to Towne before any contracts were signed. Towne was counted on to clear the field of low-yield threats and thereby allow Robinson to pursue more lucrative bouts. It worked well enough for Robinson, though not for Towne, who was strictly a preliminary fighter for most of his career. “Robinson was too big then,” he recalled, “They didn’t have any time for me.”

Not three years into his professional career he was already using aliases to get fights. Managers were getting cold sweats –-most managers, that is. Sammy Aaronson and company were braver than most. Sending their fresh-faced prospect into the ring against Towne strongly suggests that Calvin had done more than beat up a contender or two at Stillman’s Gym; he was doing it regularly enough to make two suits and a skirt giddy with confidence–-

Aaronson, Bernstein, and Ms. Patterson were convinced that what they had was a natural fighter.

They miscalculated. Natural talent is usually not enough to deal with experience, and the Towne-Chocolate Kid match seemed to confirm that axiom. Towne was given the decision over six rounds.

A week later, Calvin faced a fellow southpaw with 44 fights and only 9 losses. Joe Curcio was not only far more experienced than the 0-1 prospect; he was good enough to stop Towne later that year. “The Chocolate Kid,” read the Newark Evening News, “bashed” him.

One week after defeating Curcio, Calvin was in the ring against Lew Perez, “the fighting clown of Puerto Rico.” Perez constituted the first “opponent” that Calvin faced. In boxing parlance, an opponent is good enough to test a new prospect but not good enough to beat him; he lies somewhere between a journeyman and a bum on the respectability scale. Perez’s prowess was not enough to earn a following (he would end his career with almost twice as many losses as wins) so he became an entertainer. The Evening News reported that he “supplied the fans with plenty of laughs in his match with Chocolate Kid of Cuba, but when he ran out of gas in the fourth round he also ran out of laughs, and was counted out.”

Calvin began his career facing three distinctive styles in a boxer-puncher, a southpaw, and an unorthodox fighter. He was on a greased track in a new city with big-time managers, fleeing his past with a narrative that would change yet again. The moniker “Chocolate Kid” was never used after the Perez fight; perhaps because with both the memory of Kid Chocolate and the skills of Cocoa Kid receding, the moniker’s marketability receded with them. All that remained of his past was a name given him by an auto mechanic almost three years dead in honor of a president dead longer than that. ‘Calvin Coolidge Lytle’ was an old tag on a new suit.

Five days after the Perez fight, he was announced as someone else from somewhere else at Mechanic’s Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts. Although Bernstein is credited with coming up with his latest ring moniker, odds are good that it was showgirl Tiny Patterson who recalled the silent screen star with a similar surname. And just like that Lytle (pronounced L?t?l) became Lytell (pronounced L?’-t?l?). The Worcester Evening Gazette introduced him as “Bert Lytell,” a “highly touted newcomer” with a reputation made in California “where he rated among the best on the Coast.” Thus began the most durable of his evolving mythology; one so convincing that he himself believed it.

When a reporter for The Ring asked him where he was born, Calvin “smiled mysteriously” and said he was born in Fresno, California on May 24th 1924. He said he was a graduate of San Petersburg High School and an all-star athlete, a half-back and quarter-back on the football team and a center fielder with a batting average of between 360 and 375 on the baseball team. The Boston Evening News was told he was from Fresno, while the Providence Journal heard he was from Oakland. A few years later the San Francisco Chronicle was told that he was born in Oakland and went to Oakland High School. The Times-Picayune couldn’t stay consistent with itself –-they had him from Fresno one day and Oakland the next.

The truth is he was born four months earlier than claimed, attended a “colored” school in Texas called F.W. Gross High School and never made it past ninth grade.

In the summer of 1944 the press was trumpeting his “26-0 record with 23 knockouts” though he only had a handful of professional bouts at that point. Even the date of his pro debut was pushed back from July to March –-9th to be exact, which was actually the date of his bad conduct discharge. But padding the record wasn’t the problem. The problem was that no one could keep the cock-and-bull straight. Reporters got suspicious. Speed Reilly of The Referee and the Redhead spoke to gym rats in the Oakland area during what he called “Operations Whosis” and only ended up more confused. Arthur Susskind, Jr. relayed his suspicions about this “mystery man” after discovering that the California Boxing Commission had no record that the fighter ever applied for a license.

His style of fighting proved to be as flexible as his back story, and twice as confusing.

By his fifth bout he was drawing comparisons with Harry Greb, a frenzied middleweight from the 20s who fought all-comers in almost 300 recorded bouts. By early 1945, Bert was approaching Greb’s frantic schedule, fighting an average of once a week through March. Swarmers cannot be expected to maintain such a schedule without coasting at times but Bert did better than that; he changed styles whenever the spirit moved him. In one fight report he would be described as a fighter of the “‘bore in’, perpetual motion variety” while in the next he conjured up Cocoa Kid by appearing to be “an exceedingly slick ringman” who could dominate a fight behind a constant jab and movement. Johnny Finazzo, whose decision win was avenged within four months, had the best view to describe his style. “Lytell,” he said, “is a fast, clever fellow and keeps coming at you every second.”

Hard men were wilting under a relentless attack that was as flexible as his narrative, but something else was becoming plain, disturbingly plain –-an inflexible jaw. Punches bounced off Bert like tennis balls off a bus.

Tiny Patterson was cheering herself hoarse as the “sharpshooting southpaw” dominated Joe Reddick in Providence, Rhode Island despite being outweighed by 11½ pounds. It was April 20th 1945 and a win here would clinch a date in Boston on the 27th with the top-ranked middleweight on the planet. According to the Providence Journal, Bert landed “so many left hands off Reddick’s head –-jaw, chin, nose, ears, forehead–- that it was almost sickeningly repetitious.”

Reddick took the ninth round and no more, and that because Bert was distracted by a shadow on the wall.

It was the shadow of a man hunched over like a bull.  


The “Raging Bull” Jake LaMotta, at his nastiest, faces the surging southpaw in PART 3 OF “THE BEAST OF STILLMAN’S GYM.”

Graphic: (from left to right) Bert Lytell, Speed Reilly, and Sammy Aaronson. Courtesy of Harry Otty.

Two eyewitness accounts of Stillman’s Gym, A.J. Liebling’s “The University of Eighth Avenue” and Joe Rein’s “The Center of the Boxing Universe” came in handy here. Tunney and Dundee’s vignette found in Ronald K. Fried’s Corner Men: Great Boxing Trainers, p. 37. The Fresno-Oakland issue illustrated in The Times-Picayune 8/31/, 9/1/45. Dick Friendlich’s “Boxing Briefs” in San Francisco Chronicle undated. The Berkshire Evening Eagle 9/11/47. “Ray Robinson’s Policeman To Make First Main Fight,” by Jack Hand 10/14/55. New Jersey Star Ledger 7/17/44. Newark Evening News 7/31/44 for the Curcio bout, Perez in 8/1/44. Claim of 26 fights in Worcester Evening Gazette 8/18/44; 40 fights claimed in Providence Journal 2/18/45. Patterson fight in Worcester Evening Gazette 8/5/44, compared to Greb in 9/1/44 edition, “bore-in variety” in 9/15/44. “Slick ringman” comment in Providence Journal 2/25/45. Finazzo comments in Boston Evening American 3/1/45. Reddick in Providence Journal 4/21/45.

Springs Toledo can be contacted at“>


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Three Punch Combo: Jacobs-Derevyanchenko on HBO, Baranchyk-Yigit and More



This Saturday, Daniel Jacobs (34-2, 29 KO’s) takes on Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KO’s) for the vacant IBF middleweight title. The fight, which headlines an HBO World Championship Boxing tripleheader, is highly anticipated in boxing circles as on paper it is an evenly matched contest with a wide range of potential outcomes. The fight also bears an eerie resemblance to another middleweight title fight from more than twenty years ago.

On March 16th, 1996, then IBF middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins (28-2-1, 21 KO’s) faced off against the IBF’s number one ranked contender in Joe Lipsey (25-0, 20 KO’s). Opinions were split as to who would come out as the victor. It was televised live in the United States on ABC in the afternoon and served as a precursor for that evening’s big pay-per-view event between Mike Tyson and Frank Bruno.

Hopkins, 31 at the time, had fought much better opposition and those who favored him thought his experience along with his better athleticism would lead him to victory. Lipsey, who was 29, had a burgeoning reputation in the fight game and was known for his relentless pressure style. In addition, he had displayed devastating one punch knockout power in both hands that had many thinking he had a bright future in the sport.

It was the experience and ring savviness of Hopkins versus the untapped raw potential of Lipsey.

As it played out, Hopkins’ skill proved too much for Lipsey. After effectively out-boxing and neutralizing the aggression of Lipsey for three rounds, Hopkins landed a perfectly placed counter right uppercut using Lipsey’s forward momentum against him that instantly ended matters. It was a statement making performance for Hopkins.

Jacobs, 31, is in a similar spot to that of Hopkins when he faced Lipsey. With two losses on his ledger, Jacobs is in need of a statement making victory. One of those losses was to Gennady Golovkin and, of course, Hopkins entered the Lipsey contest with one of his losses to all-time great Roy Jones Jr.

Jacobs holds a significant experience edge in the pro game compared to that of Derevyanchenko. Jacobs is also the more athletic fighter. Similar to that of Hopkins against Lipsey, Jacobs will look to play the role of the boxer-puncher and use his experience along with athleticism to dictate the tempo of the fight.

Derevyanchenko, 32, comes in highly touted. Similar to Joe Lipsey in 1996, he enters with an undefeated record along with a glossy knockout percentage and many in the sport see a fighter with raw untapped potential.

The similarities between Jacobs-Derevyanchenko and Hopkins-Lipsey are striking. Will history repeat itself or will Derevyanchenko be able to rise to the occasion?


The World Boxing Super Series 140-pound tournament resumes this week with a pair of fights in New Orleans. While the fans will be mostly showing up to watch the main event between hometown rising star Regis Prograis (22-0, 19 KO’s) and Terry Flanagan (33-1, 13 KO’s), it is the other WBSS fight, pitting Ivan Baranchyk against Anthony Yigit for the vacant IBF title that piques my interest.

Baranchyk (18-0, 11 KOs) is well known to US fight fans from his multiple appearances on the ShoBox series on Showtime on which he has scored some highlight reel knockouts. He is an aggressive pressure fighter with heavy handed power. He has been showing signs of improved boxing skills of late and is coming off a career best performance in knocking out former world title challenger Petr Petrov.

Yigit (21-0-1, 7 KOs) is a former decorated amateur who participated in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. A southpaw with quick feet and good hand speed, Yigit is an excellent counterpuncher who is adept at using feints to bait his opponents to throw to set up counter opportunities. He is also very slick and uses good head movement, making him not an easy target to hit.

This is a classic matchup of an aggressive pressure fighter against a skilled slick boxer. Baranchyk has the buzz and will be favored, but Yigit’s style and skill could present a major challenge for him. It’s a very compelling fight,.

The Journey of Yuandale Evans

On April 24th, 2010 I hit the road to attend a club show in a suburb of Cleveland. I wanted to get a firsthand look at a local fighter named Yuandale Evans who was headlining the 6-fight card. The venue was a small indoor soccer complex and tickets were only $20. There was no assigned seating and I had no problem finding a ringside seat for the evening’s festivities.

Evans did not disappoint. Fighting in front of the sparse audience, he dispatched an opponent named Reymundo Hernandez in the first round. I liked what I saw from Evans and thought he had a bright future in boxing.

A year later, Evans found himself on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fight Series in a step-up fight against veteran Emmanuel Lucero. This was a coming out party for Evans as he impressively took apart the former world title challenger. There was speed, athleticism and power in his game and many took notice.

Nine months later, Evans found himself in a significant fight. It was another date on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fight Series but this time against a fellow undefeated fighter in Javier Fortuna. Fortuna had been getting a lot of buzz and if Evans could defeat him then he’d find himself on the brink of a world title opportunity.

But the Fortuna fight did not go well for Evans. As a matter of fact, it was disastrous.  Fortuna scored a vicious, highlight reel first round knockout, the kind of knockout loss that many fighters never recover from.

It appeared for a while that Evans would not get back in the game. Out for three years, he finally returned in 2015 with two wins against less than stellar competition. These wins were needed confidence boosters.

After those bounce back wins, it took another 17 months for Evans to return to the ring. This time, in his first major test since the Fortuna loss, he faced Billel Dib. Brought in as the “B” side, Evans was supposed to be a name on the resume for Dib, but he flipped the script, scoring a clear ten round unanimous decision.

The win against Dib, which took place in the 130-pound division, put Evans back on the radar. But it was his next performance that put him into contention. Dropping down to featherweight and again coming in as the underdog, he scored a rousing split decision win against Louis Rosa in November of 2017 in a fiercely fought contest that received Fight of the Year consideration. Evans fought with passion and determination to secure the best win of his career.

Evans, now 20-1 with 14 KO’s, will challenge undefeated 130-pound world title holder Alberto Machado next week. Evans is once again an underdog. Not many are giving him much of a chance. But if Evans fights like he did against Rosa and can stay inside on Machado, applying constant pressure, we could be in for another surprise.

Evans has come a long way since I first saw him fight at a small indoor soccer venue in Ohio and I for one do not discount his chances to lift Machado’s world title belt.

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Andrade Grabs Vacant WBO Middleweight Belt in Boston



TD GARDEN​​ — It’s a good thing Eddie Hearn didn’t listen to the people who told him not to promote prizefighting in Boston. With all four major American sports in full swing in the city, Matchroom Boxing absolutely rocked the house as an equitable fan attraction in New England.The media was out in full force and so were the fans. At the final fight week press conference, Hearn introduced ESPN’s Dan Rafael before he even barked for his boxers. “You know it’s a big card when Dan Rafael shows up,” he said of the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer award winner for career excellence in journalism. Hearn knows it’s about building hype and that’s what he’s doing.

Sugar Ray Leonard was on the mic for DAZN. Paulie Malignaggi was doing the same for Sky Sports. I saw Micky Ward and Conor McGregor seated at ringside. Mike Tyson conqueror Kevin “The Clones Colossus” McBride was also spotted in the mix throughout the night.

“We did about five thousand in Chicago,” Hearn told me of his first Matchoom USA show October 6 on DAZN. Hearn expected about seven thousand for Boston, hoping for a good walk-up crowd. “I’m pleased with ticket sales. I’m pleased with the venue. If the fans are happy and enjoy a great night at the fights and if they want us back, we’d love to return,” he said.

Hearn’s originally scheduled main event fell apart in September when Billy Joe Saunders controversially failed VADA drug testing for the banned stimulant oxilofrine. “Unfortunately Billy Joe failed a drug test. I don’t think the Massachusetts Commission had any choice in denying him a license,” Hearn told me during the final fight week press conference at Fenway Park.

Saunders was to defend the WBO middleweight title against Providence, Rhode Island’s Demetrius Andrade. Instead, Saunders was stripped of his strap and unknown African champ Walter ​Kautondokwa stepped in to face Andrade for the vacant WBO 160 pound title. “I’m too old to fight nobodies now,” said the 30 year-old Andrade without a trace of irony. In fact, Andrade’s whole pro career has been carefully built on soft touches and vacant ABC championships.

Hearn’s undercard also suffered a hit when popular local junior welterweight Danny “BHOY” O’Connor pulled out of his bout against Tommy Coyle, citing injury. According to Hearn, “​O’Connor was working very hard in camp but I don’t think it was going particularly well.”

The live crowd in attendance at the Garden was loud and enthusiastic. In a full sized entertainment venue that seats close to twenty thousand fans and with promotional aspirations optimistically set at half that number (official attendance was listed at 6,874), your best chance to have seen these fights for yourself was on the emerging and effective streaming app DAZN.

For Brits stuck back home it was on Sky Sports.  For everybody else, I’m here to ringside report.

In the Main Event for the vacant WBO middleweight championship, Providence, Rhode Island’s Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade, 30, 160, 26-0 (16) dominated Namibian import Walter Kautondokwa, 33, 17-1 (16). ​A stablemate of former super lightweight champ Julius Indongo, Kautondokwa drew inspiration from his countryman’s international accomplishments in boxing. Indongo parlayed the WBO African title into an eventual unification showdown with Terence Crawford in Nebraska. “He’s definitely not stopping this train,” promised Andrade at the weigh-in.

He was right.

In the first round, ​Kautondokwa slipped to the canvas and Andrade hit him on the chin while he was on all fours. Referee Steve Willis ruled it a knockdown, rather than reacting to the foul. Kautondokwa pushed the action in the second but Andrade scored with the cleaner punches. In the third, Andrade scored a clean knockdown with a flush left hand to the chin. The challenger rose and answered the bell for the fourth down by two extra points. Kautondokwa went down again twice more in the fourth leaving Andrade with a look like, “What more do I have to do?”

As the rounds wore on and on, Andrade found the answer to be elusive, even if Kautondokwa wasn’t terribly so. His best power punches were either missing or being blocked, and Kautondokwa was proving durable. By the championship rounds, it was clear that Andrade wouldn’t be able to stop the train that was Kautondokwa. The energy in the live crowd suffered accordingly. Michael Buffer announced what was already known, that Andrade won a virtual shutout on the cards.  Scores were 120-104 twice and 119-105.

“I did what I had to do. I could see that he was tough. It was good to get those twelve rounds in because I’ve been inactive,” said Andrade at the post-fight press conference. He also spoke of a fight week injury to his left shoulder that affected his performance and prevented a knockout. To be perfectly honest, it sounded like an excuse for not finishing off a badly hurt fighter.

In her de facto Irish Homecoming, Katie Taylor, 32, Bray, 11-0 (5) successfully defended her WBA/IBF female lightweight titles against the very experienced Cindy Serrano, 36, Brooklyn, 27-6-3 (10), over ten two-minute rounds. Serrano was moving up in weight to challenge Taylor, who’s already made two title defenses this year in London and in Brooklyn. Serrano was never in danger of being hurt or knocked out and Taylor was never in any danger of losing the fight.  Taylor won every round on all three cards 100-90.  “Cindy was just in there to survive,” said a disappointed Taylor.  Some fans jeered the “action” but it didn’t bother Serrano. “Eddie Hearn believes in female fighting. Hopefully he can turn it around and we can get a couple more promoters just like him.”

To make the first defense of his newly won IBF super featherweight championship, Philly southpaw Tevin “American Idol” Farmer, 27-4-1 (6), stopped Belfast KRONK’s James Tennyson, 22-3 (18) in five. During promotion for the title bout, it looked for all to see that Farmer was overlooking Tennyson with his focus squarely on a big money grudge match with Gervonta Davis. ​“I’m not overlooking James but I want to fight Tank Davis. I have to have that fight and it’s got to happen. Let’s leave the streets on the streets and fight in the ring. We’ve talked enough.”

In the ring, Farmer looked at his opponent and punched right through him. In the fourth frame, Farmer dropped Tennyson with a solid left hook to the body. It got no better for the Belfast native. The next round, Arthur Mercante stopped it when Tennyson fell again from body shots. ​In accepting the fight, Farmer’s promoter Lou DiBella didn’t want to deny his fighter the opportunity to appear on such a high profile card so he willingly worked with Hearn to make it happen.  Time of the TKO was @1:44 of the round 5.

In an IBF featherweight elimination bout scheduled for twelve, Evander Holyfield’s Toka Kahn Clary, Providence, R.I., 25-3 (17), dropped a pedestrian UD to Ingle Gym’s Kid Galahad, Sheffield, 25-0 (15). At the press conference in August to announce the match-up, there was bad blood in the air. “Toka is a bum,” a chippy Galahad told me at Boston’s Faneuil Hall. “He didn’t want this fight. He was talking trash so I called him a wanker and it got a little out of hand.”

“I’m gonna beat him,” Galahad promised.

At the final press conference, Galahad was demonstrably more peaceful. During the media face-off with Kahn, he offered his hand to shake but Toka just left it hanging there. “I’ve calmed down,” Kid told me. “Nothing personal, just business.” ​Is Toka a bum?​ “You can’t call him a bum.” ​You did Kid.​ “I might have gone over the top. Any fighter that gets in the ring you gotta have some respect for. Toka is gonna show up and my job is to make sure I do a job on him.”  Job well done, Kid.  Final scores were 118-110 twice and 115-113.

In an entertaining ten round junior welterweight scrap, Tommy “Boom Boom” Coyle, Hull, Yorkshire, U.K., 25-4 (12), outpointed Ryan Kielczweski, Quincy, Mass, 29-4 (11) over the distance. Unanimous scores were 99-90, 98-91 and 96-93. The “Polish Prince” substituted for Danny O’Connor against Coyle, a fighter TSS’s own Ted Sares expected Ryan to have had his hands full with in a knockout loss; describing Coyle as a “load” in the ring. In the seventh round, Kielczweski was felled by a massive right hand to the body and a vicious follow up left hook to the head. He took a long nine count but got up to then stalk a fading Coyle down the stretch.  “This is the most ready I’ve been for any fight,” Kielczweski told me before the bout. “I fought in September. A week later I got a call for this one so it’s like I’m on a ten week training camp.”

Coyle is a pressure fighter and an interesting character. Kielczweski struggled to keep him at bay but landed with several quality power shots of his own, many coming in the last three rounds—after the knockdown. Calling this his “American Dream” come true, Coyle grew up in England loving ROCKY movies and Irish Micky Ward fights. Tonight, he was almost in one.

In a super featherweight comeback bout, former super bantamweight and featherweight champion Scott Quigg, 30, Bury, U.K., 35-2-2 (26) made a successful return against journeyman Mexican Mario Briones, 29-8-2 (21), stopping him in two rounds with an unanswered three punch combination along the ropes. Trained by Freddie Roach, Quigg was defeated last March by WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez in a bruising non-title bout. Quigg suffered multiple facial laceration and a broken nose in the unanimous decision loss. “I want a rematch with Valdez and with Carl Frampton because I want to avenge my losses. If I’d be happy not fighting them again, I’d be in the wrong game,” a candid Quigg told me. “The work Freddie’s had me doing and the sparring I’m on, I feel like I’m a ten times better fighter now.”

In a junior middleweight rematch, Murphys Boxing U.S. Marine Mark “Bazooka” DeLuca, Whitman, Mass, 22-1 (13) outgunned Walter “2 Guns” Wright 37, Seattle, Washington 17-5 (8) to defeat the only man to have beaten him as a pro, winning 97-93, and 96-94 twice. From ringside I scored it 6-4 in rounds for DeLuca who scored well early with left hooks. Wright did well in the middle rounds on the inside when DeLuca was tiring but it wasn’t enough. Though his promoter Ken Casey questioned the outcome of the first fight last June in N.H., DeLuca told me it was tight. “But he got me,” he admitted. Wright didn’t understand the manufactured controversy. “I won. To come across the country, fight the local guy, and beat him, I should think I’d get my props for winning. My performance should outweigh politics.” On this night, Wright’s good but not good enough performance earned him an appropriately scored unanimous decision loss.

There was no protest from Wright with the verdict.


In the show opener, super lightweight southpaw Sean McComb from Belfast improved to 4-0 (3), outclassing 37 year-old Peruvian Carlos Galindo, 1-6. Galindo’s only win came against Maine’s Brandon Berry last June in N.H. This was McComb’s first appearance outside the U.K. Galindo took a body beating and the fight was stopped in the third after a pair of knockdowns.

Accompanied to the ring by middleweight corker Spike O’Sullivan, Murphys Boxing’s Gorey, Ireland heavyweight Niall Kennedy 221.6, 12-0-1 (7) took a few to give a few against New Jersey’s Brendan Barrett 238, 7-1-2 (5), including a hip-toss and a headlock. The 6’3” Kennedy used his good left jab and strong right cross to earn a unanimous six round decision, dropping the stocky Barrett in the fifth with a brutal right hand. Official scores: 60-53 twice and 58-55.

Kazakh Olympic Gold medalist welterweight prospect Daniyar Yeleussinov improved to 4-0 (2) against Salem, Mass “Mantis” Matt Doherty, 8-6-1 (4). Doherty wore a J.D. Martinez Red Sox jersey to the ring but he was outgunned. The 27 year-old southpaw finished Doherty off with a barrage of unanswered punches in the first round and referee Arthur Mercante waved a halt.

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Rob Brant is the New WBA Middleweight Champion



LAS VEGAS, Nevada- In a major upset that saw a mega fight disappear, Rob Brant took the WBA middleweight title from Japan’s Ryota Murata with a lot of hustle and a heck of a chin to the surprise of many on Saturday.

Murata (14-2,11KOs) was expected to fight Gennady “GGG” Golovkin if he won, but the dress rehearsal turned into a nightmare as Brant (24-1, 16 KOs) attacked and attacked while out-punching the Japanese fighter nearly two to one in front of a stunned audience of more than 2700 at the Park Theater at the MGM.

“This was one of the best moments of my life, said Brant. “I wasn’t thinking of punch output. I was thinking about winning.”

With many planning their trips to Tokyo for an expected showdown between Murata and Golovkin, the Las Vegas based Brant put a stick into the spokes of their travel plans.

Brant started quickly with combination punching and moving in and out of range during the first three rounds of the middleweight bout. Murata smiled throughout the incoming blows from the upstart Brant.

“It’s easy to smile, but his eyes were swollen and he had blood on his mouthpiece,” said Brant.

It wasn’t until the fourth round that Murata found life while attacking the body.

The body punches opened up the lead right cross for Murata, who began targeting Brant’s head. But the Minnesota native was able to absorb the big blows and kept firing back. Though Brant was landing more shots, Murata’s punches were clearly harder and landed with a thud.

The crowd got into the fight early as cheers of “USA! USA!” were shouted sporadically throughout the fight. It probably had an effect on the judges.

It seemed Murata was landing the more effective blows in the middle rounds, especially when he targeted the body, then switched to the head. But though they were hard punches, Brant moved backward and kept returning fire.

The action was measured, but constant, with no slow rounds after round three. At times it looked like Murata was about to score a knockout but it never came. Brant proved resilient. More than that, he convinced the three judges he was the winner 119-109(2x) and 118-110.

Only the widespread scores were surprising. It seemed like a much closer fight.

Dudashev prevails

Maxim Dudashev (12-0, 10 KOs) tried to blast it out with Mexico’s Antonio DeMarco (33-7-1, 24 KOs), but after taking heavy incoming fire, the undefeated super lightweight changed tactics and out-boxed the former world champion to win by unanimous decision.

Dudashev moved around just enough and used quick short combinations to out-score the long-armed Tijuana fighter after the midway point of the 10-round affair. Though DeMarco was able to score with heavy body shots  and lead lefts to the head, Dudashev managed to fire off combinations that kept winning rounds in the second half of the fight. The judges scored the fight 97-93, 96-94, 98-92 for Dudashev. scored it 96-94 for Dudashev, who keeps the NABF super lightweight title.

“This was a great learning experience for me,” said Dudashev. “DeMarco is a true champion, and he fought with great heart and determination.”

Falcao and other bouts

Brazil’s Esquiva Falcao (22-0, 15 KOs) showcased his various boxing skills against Argentina’s Guido Pitto (25-6-2, 8 KOs) who lost by unanimous decision but forced the undefeated fighter into various situations. In the first four rounds, Falcao fought from the outside with impunity as Pitto was unable to touch the Brazilian. But when the Argentine boxer took the fight inside, he found more success and forced Falcao to utilize his inside boxing skills. The fighting was intense but Falcao was just too strong and slightly quicker in winning every round in the 10 round middleweight fight. Pitto’s best moments came during the fifth round when he forced his way inside. All three judges saw it 100-90 for Falcao.

Ireland’s Michael Conlan (9-0, 6 KOs) battered Nicola Cipolletta (14-7-2) every round with rights to the body and head. The Italian boxer rarely fired back and after several unanswered blows by Cipolletta the referee Russell Mora stopped the featherweight fight @1:55 of round seven. Cipolletta protested the stoppage but never truly engaged Conlan, who must have connected on more than 60 percent of his punches thrown. It was a whitewash for the former Irish Olympian.

Vladimir Nikitin (2-0) won by unanimous decision over Louisiana’s Clay Burns (5-5-2) in a featherweight fight that was much closer than the scores given. Burns started out fast and easily won the first two rounds. Then the battle got much closer as Nikitin’s overhand rights began scoring. Burns switched to southpaw and switched back and forth and that gave Nikitin pause. The last two rounds were very close especially the final round. But all three judges scored it 59-55 for Nikitin, thus only giving Burns one round. It was much closer in reality.

A battle between undefeated Puerto Rican lightweights saw Joseph Adorno (10-0, 9 KOs) drop Kevin Cruz (8-1, 5 KOs) twice in winning by unanimous decision. Though Adorno’s knockout streak was snapped, he engaged in a spirited battle against left-handed Cruz who let loose in the sixth and final round. A counter left hook by Adorno floored Cruz the second time during a furious exchange. Cruz beat the count and tried his best to go for the knockout; Adorno scooted away until the final bell. Scores of 59-53(2x) and 58-54 for Adorno.

Adam Lopez (11-1, 5 KOs) won by knockout over Hector Ambriz (12-8-2) in a featherweight match. The end came @1:29 of the eighth and final round of the fight when Lopez fired a four punch combination that forced referee Tony Weeks to halt the fight though Ambriz was still standing.

Uzbekistan’s Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (6-0, 3 KOs) stopped veteran Wilberth Lopez (23-10, 15 KOs) with a series of body blows @2:13 of round two in a super lightweight contest between lefties.

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