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LOTIERZO'S LOWDOWN No, Stevenson Would Not Have Beaten Ali



Muhammad-Ali-9181165-2-402The 2012 Olympic games are underway and boxing is getting its fair share of air-time on CNBC for a welcome change. Muhammad Ali is there and has been presented with awards and is being treated like the citizen of the world he truly is. It's also ironic that one of the biggest stars in the history of Olympic boxing, Cuban sensation Teofilo Stevenson, recently passed. Incidentally, it is the 40th anniversary of Stevenson winning his first gold medal in Munich Germany back in 1972.

As most all boxing fans know Stevenson won gold Medals at the 1972, 1976 and 1980 Games and if Cuba didn't boycott the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, it's plausible Teofilo would've won the gold again. If you recall, Tyrell Biggs won the gold medal at the 1984 Games. Biggs, who went onto fight for the heavyweight title against Mike Tyson, lost to Stevenson in 1984 before the Games. Granted, Biggs improved after losing to Stevenson but there's no doubt the Cuban fighter would've been favored had they met in Los Angeles in 1984.

Since Stevenson's passing a few months ago there have been things said and written about how he would've been the fighter to end Ali's domination of the heavyweight division during the 1970s. It makes for eye catching copy, and it's true in years past, a gold medal by an Olympian almost guaranteed that the fighter would be a good and successful pro, but now it means almost the opposite.

However, because of Stevenson's high profile, cultural influence, good looks and big right hand, he seems to get the benefit in most hypothetical match ups. Personally, I believe this is more a case of guys trying to come off smarter than they really are. They think by coming up with an unconventional point of view it will project them to others as being someone who is a deep thinker.

Give me a break. If you need to go out on a limb in order to make yourself look as if you're the one who has the real insight, you don't know what you don't know.

Let me be clear, Teofilo Stevenson was a great amateur and had he turned pro after the 1976 Games he would've had his first pro bout in early 1977. Therefore he would've had a good shot to win a piece of the heavyweight title. By early 1977 “Smokin” Joe Frazier was gone, George Foreman was months away from being out-boxed by Jimmy Young and then retiring, and Muhammad Ali only had two successful title defenses left in his reserve. Then again there is a problem out there looming named Larry Holmes. Holmes wasn't a great amateur, but he was an all-time great pro. So it's not like Stevenson is a given to make it to the top of the heavyweight ranks as a pro in the mid to late 1970s.

Most chose to forget that before Stevenson won his first gold medal in 1972, he lost to Duane Bobick at the 1971 Pan Am games. That was the same Bobick who a green amateur named Ron Lyle knocked out in the first round with one punch earlier that year. What is never mentioned is the fact that Bobick was favored over Stevenson until he got nailed with the best right hand Stevenson ever landed at the 1972 Games. Also, Stevenson wasn't unbeatable as an amateur fighter.  Russian Igor Vystotsky beat Stevenson twice. The first time they fought Igor stopped Teofilo and when they met a second time, Stevenson lost a decision and at one point during the fight literally turned his back and ran from Vysotsky. How many times did you ever see Ali do that?

The reason why Stevenson didn't fight Vysotsky at the 1976 Games was because Igor was a bleeder and the Russian coaches feared he'd get cut before the medal rounds and therefore the Russians wouldn't have competed for a medal at heavyweight. So the Russian coaches never sent Vysotsky to the Olympics. Also, Vystotsky lost to his countryman Angel Milan, and Americans Jimmy Clark and Greg Page, yet Stevenson couldn't beat him once in two tries.

Stylistically, Stevenson had a nice straight left jab and a big right hand. However, his uppercuts and hooks were nice set up punches but certainly not finishing shots. He was adequate but not great when he had to move his feet trying to catch an elusive opponent and preferred luring them into him, which he did successfully. Also, his money punch was his right hand, the one punch Ali was almost impossible to hit with any regularity. Stevenson's stamina was never tested and he was out boxed for gaps of his bouts against American amateurs Michael Dokes, Marvin Stinson and Jimmy Clark. And as we know they weren't nearly as resourceful, strong, fast or as mentally tough and durable as Muhammad Ali was.

There were talks of Ali and Stevenson fighting that almost came to fruition. Ali wanted to fight Teofilo in his retirement bout. Fidel Castro was close to being on board with it because by 1978 Ali was washed up and Stevenson was still at the top of his physical skill. The only hang up was, Ali wanted the fight to be 10 rounds or he wasn't interested. When Stevenson/Castro countered that they were only willing to consent to a three round bout, Ali scoffed and said something like, “Well, he really is just an amateur.” So the fight never happened.

Oh, after Stevenson won his second gold medal, Castro invited Latin American hero and great undisputed lightweight champion Roberto Duran to come to Cuba and watch Stevenson train and spar. When Teofilo finished his workout, Castro asked how he thought he'd do against Ali and Duran replied, “Ali kill him”!

Just because Roberto Duran thinks an elder Ali would've handled Stevenson doesn't mean it's a gimme. However, Ali achieved too much and was too tough and versatile to be defeated by a big strong amateur who's only chance to win was by landing a lottery right hand. Stevenson couldn't hold up under Vystosky's assault, a fighter Ali once sparred in street clothes during his trip to Russia in 1978 and left the ring unmarked while wearing no head gear.

Again, it makes for different copy to write how Teofilo Stevenson could've been Muhammad Ali's foil, but in the real world it's a massive reach. I mean, come on, there's no chance Stevenson could've knocked out even an old Ali. Maybe for three or four rounds he could've stayed with Ali circa 1977-78, but that's about it.

Ali wasn't infallible as a fighter, but he had everything a fighter needed to beat Stevenson in a pro bout. As great as Stevenson was as an amateur, it's a joke to say he could've been Ali's equal. There's just not enough evidence to support that theory. Only hyperbole.

You wanna talk about an interesting hypothetical bout? How about 1968 heavyweight gold medal winner George Foreman versus 1972 heavyweight gold medal winner Teofilo Stevenson?

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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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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.



Michael Dutchover

ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

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