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Pat Robertson Doesn't Deserve To Have Robert Guerrero On His Platform

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robert-guerrero-casey-guerrero-pat-robertson25-3-2013It always good to see, if you're a fan of boxing, who loves the sport and wants to see it remain healthy, to see a fighter get some press outside the normal channels. When a boxer goes on a “Dancing With the Stars,” that has the potential to grow the fighters' fanbase immensely, right? A growing and vibrant sport is beneficial to all of us who love it and make a living off of it.

So on surface, it's seemed a good thing that Robert Guerrero, who fights Floyd Mayweather on May 4 in Las Vegas, appeared on “The 700 Club,” the show hosted by evangelical leader Pat Robertson.

But if you're not familiar with Mr. Robertson (seen in above Hogan Photo, flanked by Casey and Robert Guerrero), who is tellingly described in his Wikipedia intro as “An American media mogul, executive chairman, and a former Southern Baptist minister, who generally supports conservative Christian ideals,” you might not be inclined to applaud Guerrero's decision to be on Robertson's show.

Especially if you're gay.

Or a feminist. Or a pacifist. Or a Haitian.

Fight fans by and large know that the 29-year-old Guerrero, a Gilroy, CA resident with a 31-1 record, a fetching back-story and humble spirit- warrior persona, isn't shy about proclaiming his faith.

On Twitter, his mini-bio tells you that he is a “Big believer in Jesus Christ.” Which is completely admirable, it should go without saying. A belief in a higher power is a most powerful salve in a frequently cruel and indecipherable world. And considering the man has been right there with his wife Casey, who has battled leukemia, and is currently and thankfully clear of cancer, no one in their right mind would judge him for latching on to a belief system and regimen to stay right minded.

Casual boxing fans and sports fans who rarely give a second look at the sweet science are learning about Guerrero, and assessing his chances at handing the 36-year-old Mayweather (43-0) his first loss as a pro in Las Vegas, in a bout to be shown on Showtime pay-per-view. The hype machine for that MGM Grand tussle is humming, and kicking into third gear now. A release went out on Sunday, Palm Sunday, which talked about Guerrero's Monday appearance with Robertson.

“I'm very excited that I'll be able to use my platform in boxing to talk about my faith in Jesus Christ who has guided me to this incredible position,” Guerrero said in that release. “At the same time I'll bring awareness to the bone-marrow registry. I want everyone to check out www.knockoutbloodcancer.org and join me in my quest to help save lives. On May 4th the world will see me dethrone Floyd Mayweather and everyone won't understand what happened, except those who believe in the power of Christ. As the bible verse Philippians 4:13 states “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”

Let me digress, slightly, by informing you where I'm coming from on this matter. Personally, I've tried to be a follower, tried to believe, but have found it's not for me. I'm more of the Bill Maher school, though I wouldn't indulge in his pointed takedowns and mockery of believers, as I feel that if you weigh out the good and the bad, faith and worship does more to lift up souls than drag them down. My outlook on organized religion has become more entrenched in the last 10 or so years with each and every scandalous and disgusting revelation of rape and sexual abuse committed by priests the world over, so many of which were swept under the rug by church higher-ups, allowing vile predators to prey upon young innocents over a span of decades. I have a hard time conceiving there is a Heaven that the good ones will spend eternity in when their time on earth is done, but less difficulty picturing a Hell where supposed ambassadors for spiritual wellness who have abused their standing in such shocking and shameful a manner will reside after dying.

Which leads me back to Robertson. No, he hasn't been accused of molestation. But if you dig into his past, he has repeatedly voiced judgements, accusations and insinuations that scream bigotry and bias, and could leave any but a loyal adherent wondering if the man is possessed by demons who are seeking to undermine the import of his brand of Christianity. I do not know how much Guerrero, the six time champ in four weight divisions, a beyond-solid citizen who one and all can't help but root for, for his strength of character in and outside of the ring, knew about Robertson heading into his date with the tele-preacher. I wish, I guess, I had the time to collect all the forthcoming Robertson-isms and had forwarded them to Guerrero before he accepted the invite.

Robertson appeared on many radar screens when he ran to secure the Republican nomination for President in 1988. Then the head of the Christian Broadcasting Network, he wasn't casually dismissed as a fringe player by more voters than some might think when it was widely reported that he'd bragged that God had performed miracles at his request, and that he had been spoken to directly by both God and Satan. (I will resist the temptation to joke that he sometimes seems to listen a little bit harder to the whispers of Satan.) His CV, which included a law degree from Yale, and the fact that his dad was a Senator from Virginia, helped some on the fence decide that there was enough there to overlook some of his more “out there” behavior and viewpoints. He picked up support from the odd boxing fan when he said that he was a Golden Gloves boxer in Tennessee, where he lived as a high schooler. But more potential supporters bailed on him when it came out that his first child was born ten weeks after he and wife Dede Elmer were married, in 1954. “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” some voters thought to themselves of the man who railed against premarital sex to the tune of $200 million a year grosses as head of the TV network-informercial platform.

I am guessing–and I don't know, as a DM to Guerrero on Twitter Sunday night asking if he was aware of Robertson's total history went unanswered–that Guerrero likely doesn't know much or all of Robertson's history, or, I have to think, it's possible that he might not have accepted the invitation to appear on “The 700 Club.” And really, what the man did back in 1988, if he's been walking a straight and narrow path and acting in a manner Jesus, were he to return, would approve of, is probably not germane to the present. (And, it could be argued, that it is not incumbent on Guerrero to agree with, explicitly or tacitly, all or even most of what Robertson stands for, as it is more important for him to spread his message about the bone marrow registry, rather than dismiss platforms to educate the public about it.)

That said, for those curious about Robertson as a result of Guerrero's visit to the show, the televangelist was the second-to-last man standing in 1988 Republican primaries. Vice President George Bush repelled the challenge of 1992 nominee Bob Dole, and Robertson threw a scare into both of them, by carrying four states, to Dole's 5, and Bush's 41. Citizens were put off by what a sincere vetting of the man found, yet he did not melt into the background, put off by the national rebuff. Perhaps he was uplifted by the understanding that any dirt clinging to him from past misdeeds paled in comparison to the brand smeared on fellow fraternity boys Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart.

In Match 1987, Bakker, big on the “prosperity theology” scene, resigned from his “Praise the Lord” ministry after a payoff scandal with then secretary Jessica Hahn came to light, and in 1989, he was sentenced to 45 years in prison for fraud.

In February 1988, televangelists again were under the microscope after Louisiana-born Pentecost preacher Jimmy Swaggart, beset by accusations that he'd recently consorted with a prostitute, went on TV and weepily admitted, “I have sinned against you, my Lord.” He didn't specify how, or with who, but that came to light a bit later. Ironically, it had been Swaggart who'd ratted out Bakker to Bakker's bosses. Swaggart shrugged off the knockdown blow, and returned to his pulpit, but was again felled in 1991, when another hooker was linked to him. He'd been busted in a traffic stop, with an admitted sex worker. To his flock, Swaggart said, “The Lord told me it's flat none of your business,” but he stepped down from his post. He took a hiatus, but was back in the pulpit in 2004, talking about the “asinine stupidity of men marrying men. I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I'm going to be blunt and plain, if one ever looks at me like that I'm going to kill him and tell God he died,” as many in the pews chuckled and clapped. A backlash ensured, and the preacher countered that his remarks were a “humorous statement,” and that he was joking. Today, he heads the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, preaches with his son and grandson, and hasn't been embroiled in any hooker scandals since.

Televangelists can tend to blend together, if the only time one pauses to consider them is when they pop up in one scandal or another. Robertson is not to be confused with the late Jerry Falwell, who headed up “The Moral Majority,” was for many years the leader in that space, and said right after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way – all of them who have tried to secularize America – I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.”'

We could touch on similar preacher scandals long enough to fill a book, but since it is Robertson that Guerrero chose to chat with, let's get the focus back on him, the man whose mission statement is, “I want to be part of God's plan of what He is doing on earth, and I want to bring Him glory.”

Guerrero was born in 1983, so one couldn't expect him to recall the 1992 disclosure that Robertson wrote a fund-raising letter which made clear he opposed an equal rights amendment to potentially be inserted into the Iowa constitution. The amendment would have barred sex discrimination; in his letter, Robertson wrote, “it is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

A bias against homosexuals has been a persistent theme for the leader of the Christian Coalition. “Since our nation was founded, we have discriminated against certain things,” he told viewers in 1993. “We discriminate against kidnappers. We discriminate against murderers. We discriminate against thieves…There are laws that prohibit that kind of conduct. And there have been laws since the founding of our country against what are considered unnatural sex acts, sex between members of the same sex.” Then, “If the world accepts homosexuality as its norm and if it moves the entire world in that regard, the whole world is then going to be sitting like Sodom and Gomorrah before a Holy God. And when the wrath of God comes on this earth, we will all be guilty and we will all suffer for it,” he told viewers in 1995. “The acceptance of homosexuality is the last step in the decline of Gentile civilization,” he said on TV in 1998.

The anti-gay campaign drew wide attention in 1998, when Robertson, taking umbrage that Disney World didn't spurn attendees to “Gay Days,” an annual gathering in that state, said on air, “I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you.” Homosexuality “will bring about terrorist bombs, it'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor,” he continued. When called on his message of hate and division, Robertson would protest that he wasn't preaching hate, but rather “redemption.” Was that any solace to a gay man or woman who might not have the emotional armor sufficient to shrug off the babblings of such a hate monger?

He didn't seem to care for the heterosexual practices of then President Bill Clinton, either. Robertson publicly praised politicians who voted to impeach the President for declining to admit publicly his private transgression, a dalliance with a White House intern. This sort of behavior perhaps made it easier for the IRS, in mid 1999, to deny the Christian Coalition's struggle to win tax-exempt status. (Here is the IRS' current wording on how they determine if a church can rightly operate under tax exempt status: “(A church) may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”)

Robertson has been a boon for pharma companies who peddle pills to combat high blood pressure, I'm betting. Heading into the year 2000, Robertson preached about impending doomsday, and chaos and crisis. Tune in to me, buy my books and videos, and I will ferry you through the murky waters, he counseled. And pad my bank account, he maybe should have added.

Robertson was branded an “agent of intolerance” and “a force of evil” by Senator John McCain, running to gain to the Republican nomination in 2000, but McCain days later backed off, and said he was speaking in jest.

Robertson drew hard looks from folks who found it hard to believe the tout, which his CBN crew put out in early 2002, that he'd leg-pressed 2,000 pounds. The claim tied in with his push to sell a new product, Pat's Diet Shake. “My hope and prayer is that you'll find a healthier and more joyful life, fit for the Kingdom and the Master's use,” Robertson, then age 72, said on Patsshake.com. “God bless you!”

Ads for the product were sometimes paired with a reference to “Dr.” Pat Robertson, which would no doubt sway some buyers who figured he owned a medical degree, which he did and does not.

Here is the copy on CBN.com which touches on the miracle leg lift.

“One Saturday morning, his physician said, “I’ll get you bragging rights. Let’s go to 2,000 pounds.” Then he worked up multiple reps of 1,400 pounds, 1,500 pounds, 1,600 pounds, 1,700, pounds, 1,800 pounds and 1,900 pounds. When 2,000 pounds was put on the machine two men got on either side and helped push the load up, and then let it down on Mr. Robertson, who pushed it up one rep and let it go back down again. Mr. Robertson warms up now at 500 pounds, and was shown on television with Kristi Watts doing 1000 pounds. His doctor, by the way, has leg pressed 2,700 pounds. It is not nearly as hard as the authors of these reports make it out to be. We have multiple witnesses to the 2,000 pound leg press, plus video of the 10 reps of 1,000 pounds.”

The world record for leg press is up for debate, as one can set the incline at different angles, and range of motion can vary, but eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman has maintained that his leg press of 2,300 pounds in 2009 is a world record. Does Robertson's boast pass your sniff test? Never mind why the Robertson feat wasn't taped and promoted, as if it were, he'd see a massive uptick in sales. Of course, if any of the “multiple witnesses” wish to contact me, and provide video proof, I will stand corrected.

The Reverend next stepped in it when he made this remark on his show about Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez: “I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war, and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.” It is mind-boggling that a “man of God” would lobby for the assassination of anyone, even a dictator, but somehow, Robertson's latest controversy didn't result in the cancellation of his show or noticeable reduction in his empire.

He was Robertson the meteorologist when in May 2006 he said, “If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms.” He again went into predictor mode in January 2007, saying there would be a massive terrorist strike in the US in late 2007. “I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear,” he said. “The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that…I put these things out with humility,” he added, after stoking terror in the hearts of sad souls who give credence to his messaging. Months later, he coincidentally or not endorsed former NY Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for President in the 2008 race.

There was more doom and gloom and predictions of horrific unrest to start 2008, and he hinted that God told him who would win the 2008 race. “He told me some things about the election,” he said, but didn't want to share, because he'd draw the scorn of the media. Robertson did just that when he said that a “pact to the devil” brought on the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti which killed more than 220,000 people.

He horrified even some of his faithful followers when in September 2011 he opined that it was OK to divorce a spouse with Alzheimer's, as long as you made sure you provided “custodial care” for the afflicted. Some unfamiliar with his history of verbal missteps wondered if he was beginning to lose his mental faculties. This theory gained steam when he implied that author Paula Broadwell initiated an affair with US general David Petraeus, the former CIA director, and that the General was unable to resist the charms of the seductress. In the minds of some, the dementia theory was cemented when in mid January, Robertson weighed in when told about a teen who asked for advice on how to cope with his dad's inattention to his mom. “It may be your mom isn't as sweet as you think she is,” he said. Robertson then went on to relay a story about a preacher who'd told a woman who complained to him that her hubby had started drinking that he'd drink to if married to her. Why? Because she was overweight and wore rattty clothes. “You've got to fix yourself up, look pretty,” said this man of God.

So that's a short list of Robertson's greatest hits, a collection of behavior and verbalizations that could charitably be described as “eyebrow raising.”

The host didn't offer any of those trademarked gaffes on Monday, when the boxer Guerrero and wife Casey went on his set. “I was a heavyweight Golden Gloves boxer,” said the 83-year-old host, setting up the package.  Co-host Terri Meeuwsen offered an intro to the segment, which told of Casey Guerrero's fight against leukemia. She was diagnosed in 2007, and the cancer had entered her brain. She got a bone marrow transplant, survived that 50-50 roll of the dice, and this morning sat next to the fighter in-studio.

The boxer said that he was enjoying life, as a champion and husband and father, and then his wife was stricken. “It was the hardest blow I ever took,” he said, of learning that the gal he'd been with since age 14 was so ill. The boxer, calling himself “a devout Christian,” said that he took a break from boxing so he could put his full attention on his wife. Casey said she had faith that God would heal her, and her hubby said the ordeal strengthened his belief in prayer. “Prayer is more effective than any chemo, in anything out there,” he declared.

Guerrero said he was taking on “the biggest fighter on the planet” on May 4, and presented Mayweather as being all about fame, fortune and trappings of fame. “He's a very talented guy but I have faith in the Lord that he's put me in this position for a reason,” he said. Robertson chimed in, asking Guerrero how he'd be able to beat Floyd. “He's tough!” Robertson said. “How you gonna handle it?”

Guerrero said he worked out every day and “I give it all I got, because the Lord's blessed me with a tremendous talent and I got to go out there and be a shining light with that talent.” Robertson asked if he was rusty, and Guerrero said he fought recently (he beat Andre Berto on Nov. 24, 2012, in a rugged rumble which earned him loads of new fans, who took to his in-your-face tactics) and he's ready to “show the world how great is God.”

“Amen, that's tremendous testimony, exciting, May the fourth, Floyd Mayweather, that'll be a biggie,” Robertson said.

I do wish there were more and better platforms for Guerrero to advertise his heart-warming story, which I admire so. That Robertson, who has persistently demonized and degraded so many folks for the infraction of being born with a preference for the romantic company of their same sex, is still seen as any sort of leader in that realm is slightly depressing. But people who agree with me can be uplifted by the knowledge that time is on our side. Bigots like Robertson dwindle in numbers every day and young hearts, who understand that one's sexual preference is nobody's business but their own, replace the throwback thinkers.

A Twitter follower, a fellow boxing writer, asked me if there was any difference in a fighter being a convert of a Robertson, or a hip-hop star who has advocated violence, murder and misogyny. Good question. Yes, it is a night and day difference, because Robertson is still seen as a spiritual leader, someone we look to to learn from, that we look up to. A spiritual leader is supposed to be a role model, and if this man is someone who purports to follow the teachings of Jesus, I think he's gotten lost somewhere along the line. No version of Jesus I can conceive of would believe that a catastrophic hurricane was dispatched in divine retribution for a devil's pact. I think the lines are fairly clear to all involved what Pat Robertson's role in society is, or should be, and what 50 Cent's is.

One might get to this point in the article and say, OK, that's all well and good, but I'm a boxing fan, I'm a sports fan. I don't really care about Pat  Robertson. I read and watch sports so I can avoid the dark and depressing aspects of the world. Understood. But how has our collective drift toward ignoring the dark and depressing, the almost constant immersion into entertainment, served us? If more people watched the news, and not funny cat videos, then perhaps there would be more righteous anger about what plagues our nation today. Maybe more people would be inclined to be activists, to push the lawmakers and powers that be to raise wages for the common laborer, for health care in this richest nation in the world to be seen as a right, and not a privilege for the top tier, to see that cynical puppeteers are setting Red and Blue Staters against each other, nudging them to go at each others' throats over issues like abortion and gay marriage and gun control, while they preside over a gargantuan transfer of wealth to the 1%. Friends, if you are going to watch sports to distract yourself from the real world ugliness, from the seemingly pointless political goings on, I have news for you–that is present everywhere. It is present in the sports you watch, which is presented by about six different gargantuan media conglomerates which own the bulk of the platforms, and insure that there is a uniformity of viewpoint, which helps keep their messaging on point.

Bottom line: I think highly of Robert Guerrero, as a boxer and human being who has stood tall and done the right thing, bigtime, by his wife and family. I'm always hopeful that fighters like him, who have so many elements of a positive role model in them, get more attention, so the sport can grow. But a Pat Robertson, with a decades-long record as a divider of people, a merchant of menacing fear and bias, doesn't deserve to have a person the quality of Guerrero appear on his platform. Guerrero is better than that. Robertson is not.

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

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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?

Baranchyk-Yigit

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.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

 

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Andrade Grabs Vacant WBO Middleweight Belt in Boston

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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.

UNDERCARD RESULTS:

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

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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. TheSweetScience.com 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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