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Class, Before and After the Bell, Should and Could Mean an Early Night

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Klitschko3-3-2012DUSSELDORF – Iconic boxing statesman Emanuel Steward says this regardingWladimir Klitschko's engagement with Jean Marc Mormeck.

“Of all the fights I've been involved with in my life, I think this is the most unappreciated.”

“It's a no win situation, because either Wladimir should have knocked him out anyway or if it goes over two rounds it's a disgrace.If I was setting a number, I'd have Mormeck about an 8-1 underdog but there's a lot of things that could go wrong like a lucky punch. Mormeck can still punch, and being a former champion he has themental makeup of a winner, and a lot of national pride. I didn't see anyone particularbest weapon but I think it will probably be his left hook since he idolizes and emulates Mike Tyson.”

“I expect Mormeck to come out with a very pressured fight which is going to be a little problem for Wladimir because he's a thinker, a perfectionist. That means he's going to spend time trying to analyze Mormeck when he comes in with his head down low, which is something Wladimir has not had to experience since I've been with him. That means at least three rounds to systematically break him down. It doesn't seem like Wladimir'sgoing to come out andget him with one-two punchesearly.”

But could Klitschko if he really tried his hardest?

“If this was any other fighter most likely I would say go for the quick knockout but just based on the style I don't think it would be good. A guy like Mormeck is going to be a high energy fighter early, and if you go in with a high energy style, you could get caught. Anything can happen in an exchange. You have to fight a patient fight like I had Lennox Lewis do against Tyson.”

“If you go toe to toe you give him a 50-50 chance. If you fight patient, the odds are more like 50-1. Which means that most likely, he (Wlad) will not score an early knockout. And which also means he'll be criticized.”

So, for our wagering friends,there's your tip.

Steward is one of the most knowledgeable people I've met in or out of boxing, but this will be a rare time I disagree.

I think Klitschko, who weighed in ataround 246,has a lot to gain against Mormeck, 2171/2,and I think he should try andget Mormeck out of there in the first round.

The first minute.

In a world of tweetybirdtrending, somenotoriety lasts closer to fifteen seconds than the previous fifteen minute measure.Klitschko's consistency, like his brother's, has steadily proved a reliable commodity in both class and culture.Sure the global consciousnessis full ofjerks, phoneys, and hollow self-caricatures oflow or no class reality lifestyles.

That's the point. Anyone with a functioningconsciousness themselvesshould perceive by now that the Klitschkos are just about anything but low class. Asone of the top sibling acts in sportshistory, they have upheld anadmirable standard of behavior, charityand social involvement. I hopeK2's hard sell in the States saysmore about the USA's knockout cravingthan ourcharacter preferences.

More and more, begrudgingly or not,the Kbros are being accepted as the champions they are. There are still critics who demand dramatic stoppages, but that isn't necessary to achieve either greatness or success, longevity, or greatness.

I demand a dramatic stoppage.

That's because I believe the Klitschko reign should be appreciated more, and if Klitschko clobbers Mormeck, it could bea very fan friendly milestone in further public acceptance. It could signal a US breakthrough.

Klitschko joked with the crowd at a public workout about his perceived “glass chin”, but it shows he's well aware of the caricature.

Mormeck is capable of exhibiting enough conking class to give the patiently punching Klitschko no choice about getting the challengeraway, as in KO or be KO'd.

Mormeck, with the apparent sturdiness of a local bridgeand the deltoids of an Asgaardianhero from old Thor comics, has beenno easy man to stop. He dropped David Haye, no easy featin aringora press conference, before falling in 2007.The 36-4 (22)Mormeck was also stopped by O'Neil Bell in '06but came back to win a rematch. Mormeck has been less than impressive recently when he has competed at all, but he is still no French small fry.

“Klitschko looks very good, but I had a very good training myself,” Mormeck said to me throughlimited French translation. “Why should I be concerned? The postponementmade no problems for me.I am very relaxed,I don't have anything to worry about. All I need to do is concentrate on the fight. I like Klitschkos spirit as a champion. They have treated me well here, and when they came to Paris we treated them well. We both have good teams. There is no reason to act foolishly.

“For me, this is going to be a fight I can win. I said I will do it, and I will.”

When I asked Mormeck what he'd do if provoked a la Chisora, the blaze in his eyes confirmed he did not come to Dusseldorf to roll over.

“I had better not say to you what would happen, because this is supposed to be about proper behavior,” mused Mormeck. His relaxed state may come harshlycloser to dreamland against Klitschko, but for his sake and the fans' I hope he doesn't go quietly.

The public workout, at a multi-levelMercedes Benz dealership that looked more like a hotel complex, proved that in Germany, Klitschko is popular with a wide rangeof fans. Almost a thousand well-wishers came for thedemonstration/advertisment. Klitschko acted as if Mormeck was just another face in the crowd as the muscular challenger went through a very limited exhibition of basic moves with the pads. As the camera flashes reflected in his eyes, it looked likeMormeck came tohold up his end of promotional participation and not much more.

Klitschko looked more interested in the MC's conversations with fight ticket raffle winners than he did in Mormeck's casual combinations. Wlad established eye contact, as usual, with as many people as he could and gave a sincere, well received narration to the crowd about recent events and the Mormeck bout.

Somewhere in the gleaming,upward spiraling car ramps wherefans and salesmen perched together tightly, a child started crying with resounding echo. There was absolutely no truth to the statement that it was Haye with a sore toe, hiding from German investigators.

Mormeck appeared very relaxed going into the final hours before thefight, and while he studied Klitschko's ring movements he exhibited no concern beyond professional contemplation. There was friendly interaction between many opposing team members and no negative vibes whatsoever. Class on both sides.

In Munich, there was a tangible, almost obviousweirdness in the airindicatingChisora would go offsometime, somewhere, not longafter the fight.

Next to the Rhine, the vibe was thatMormeck showed up toperform at his optimal levelboth personally and professionally.

How many rounds, andat what type exchange rate that translates to still seems way out of Mormeck's hands. I think the fight will resemble Klitschko's rematch with Samuel Peter, depending on how much the willingMormeck can absorb.

Saturday night is an opportunityfor the very worthyWladimir Klitschko to shine. A big blowout would be the best possible promotionalprelude for another K2 visit to America.

There are numerous endorsements featuring the Klitschkos throughout Germany. It was fun watching Stewardusing amini-multi-device to take pictures of a life sized Klitschko storefront cutout. There is no way either of those astute businessmen doesn't appreciate the market value of a big time splattering.

Steward will not get emotional unless something wild happens. That may not hold true for Klitschko.

Watch for the Klitschko uppercut.

It could mean one class act is over, with another coming soon.

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

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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.

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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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