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Hunter OK With Froch Rematch, Likes A Ward-Bute Fight More

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WardAbrahamPrePC Hogan100Last December,Andre Ward capped a stellar year of 2011 by beating Carl Froch and capturing the Super Six World Boxing Classic championship trophy. It became even more remarkable after the Froch fight when Ward revealed a broken left hand that he used to blister the Englishman at will. The injury sidelined the undefeated Oakland native and he has since recovered.

Meanwhile Carl Froch is facing the undefeated Lucian Bute on Saturday and stated through the media that he was gaining momentum against Ward in the later rounds of the one-sided fight.

Ward’s trainer Virgil Hunter took time to respond to Froch’s assertion.Hunter says Ward fought through injury to outclass Froch, and feels Froch is diminishing Ward’s accomplishment.

The 2011 BWAA Trainer of the Year tells TSS no one has been the same after fighting the undefeated Ward. And, after winning the Super Six World, Ward cleaned out the 168-pound division.

Now all signs point to a Ward/Dawson clash on September 8. Dawson is moving down from to 175 to 168 for the challenge. Hunter claims that Dawson is not the only one cutting weight to get to the 168 pound super middleweight limit because Ward considered a move to light heavyweight before Dawson called his name after the Hopkins fight in April.

I asked Hunter on Thursday morning to give us his take on the Dawson fight. The trainer also discusses the apparent delusion of Carl Froch,and tells us about why Dawson's flaws don't matter.

RM: Carl Froch has talked a lot about his loss to Andre Ward during the build up to his bout with Lucian Bute this Saturday.Froch gives credit to Andre for the victory but says he can do better the second time. Do you think that Carl Froch is dismissing his loss against Andre Ward?

VH: Look, he is in total denial. He is having a hard time dealing with what happened to him. I don’t know if he will ever get over that loss. He tries to downplay it, saying he had a bad night. Actually, if anybody had a bad night, we did. We went into the fight with a broken hand in two places.The left hand, our lead hand,was handicapped so I think we had a bad night. And I think he knows that.

RM:Froch said he came on strong in the later rounds.

VH: Well, as far as him coming on strong, he was never in that fight. I told him what was going to happen on Fight Camp 360. I told him he was going to get hit a lot and he was going to miss a lot. And he was going to get hurt. So I think this fight with Bute is going to be tough. I don’t know if he has full confidence.

RM: Why?

VH: Because he never expected to get handled so easily. He just never imagined that could happen to him, particularly with a guy that had a broken hand doing it to him. So he has his work cut out for him with Lucian Bute. I think he has a confidence problem. He is constantly parroting what he is going to do to Bute. Constantly parroting that fact. So we will see how it turns out.

RM: I know that you always tell fighters not to give any excuses. You told Froch to do that too right?

VH: Yeah, well, I mean, we made a pact that there will be no excuses from either side win or lose. But when you tell that to Carl Froch, you might as well be talking to a brick wall. He is trying to find a way to justify what happened to him. But when he is alone he will have to deal with the truth.

RM: Yeah, do you think that he is proud of his performance because he did come on towards the end of the fight?

VH: Well here is the deal. When you say come on—it means come forward. We allowed him to come forward because we were fighting with a broken hand.Andre felt excruciating pain with every punch because the pain is shooting up the arm. And it compromises the other hand because you are bracing yourself for a wince. When you lead with the broken hand, you are bracing yourself for a sharp pain to come up. So the plan over the last couple rounds was to let him walk into pot shots, which is what he did the rest of the way. So,Froch perceives it as coming on. We just changed up the tactics in order to protect the hand.

RM: Yeah.

VH: If you look at the last couple of rounds Froch was getting hit with clean shots. And as you can see, when we took the hand wraps off, Andre’s broken hand was twice as big as the other one. So you can imagine the pain. If you want to talk about toughness, there is toughness for you right there.

RM: How long did it take for Andre to recover from the hand injury?

VH: Well, he is just now recovering. You are talking about a hand that was broken in two places. And it is not like it was broken in the fight and he only had to deal with it for 45 minutes. It was broken three weeks before the fight. So, we took a little more time to make sure it healed properly.

RM: How do you see the Froch and Bute fight playing out?

VH: Well, I’d like to see Bute win so we can get that fight. I think the public wants to see a Ward/Bute fight. And I am not embarrassed to say that I am pulling for Bute. But I think Carl Froch will give him a tough fight. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins. Hopefully, if Froch wins, he will be a standup guy and try to get revenge for a loss he says was a “bad night.” He says he had a bad night against us. And we would like to give him the opportunity to straighten it out.

RM: So,Andre will fight Froch again?

VH: Well, this is just me speaking. Anytime someone says they had a bad night and the outcome would be different if we fought again, I am the type of person that would oblige you. And Andre is type that will oblige you also. I think if Carl Froch is adamant about a rematch it can definitely be made.

RM: What did you think of the Mikkel Kessler vs. Allan Green fight last Saturday?

VH: I didn’t see the fight but I am not surprised of the outcome. Allan Green was not the same after he fought Andre. That fight crushed his confidence. I think that Glen Johnson and Mikkel Kessler benefitted from the fact that we took the veil off of Allan Green’s bravado so to speak and left him pretty much naked. But at the same time, I don’t want to take anything away from him as a fighter. Green had a great opportunity to win. But he let Kessler hang around and Kessler caught up to him.

RM: What are your thoughts on the Andre Ward/Chad Dawson fight that is coming up on September 8th?

VH: It is going to be an interesting fight. I think we match up extremely well with Chad Dawson,much better than people realize. It is going to be a good fight. We have a lot of respect for Chad Dawson and his brain trust. And we are glad the fight was made.

RM: Do you see any flaws in Dawson’s game that Ward can capitalize on?

VH: Well, I don’t look at the flaws in a fighter. I look at their strengths. Because the flaws can be corrected, the strengths usually stick around. I don’t pay attention to what somebody would perceive to be a flaw in a fighter. We can sit and analyze a guy, and find a flaw a minute. But it really doesn’t mean anything. I don’t look at the weaknesses in a fighter. I look at their strengths. Their strength will be on display in the fight. Only the true weakness will show after you handcuff the strength. So, that is what I pay attention to. Not the so-called weaknesses that I conjure up in my own mind.

RM: So the idea is to stop their strengths, not capitalize on their weaknesses.

VH: Well, what are your strengths? I don’t know. If you have a strong right hand, I don’t know what your weaknesses are until I handcuff your right hand.

RM: Right.

VH: One of the benefits I learned in amateur coaching is that you are fighting guys with little preparation. You don’t have time to prepare a fighter by watching tape, or an eight-week training camp, you have to fight the best in the country on a fly. You have to be able to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses on the fly. So there are weaknesses, they will show during the fight. The weakness for one guy will be strength for another.

RM: OK Virgil, I will let you go. The BWAA Awards Dinner is on June 6thin New York. You will be recognized as the 2011 Trainer of the Year. Do you want to give your thoughts?

VH: First and foremost, I plan to be there. I have an opportunity to thank everyone who considered me for this award. I am humbled and flattered more than anything. I will try to uphold it with dignity and shoot for another one. Why not?

RM: OK, thanks Virgil. Catch you next time.

You can follow Ray on Twitter @RayMarkarian

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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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