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SoCal Gym Hopping, and Other Fight Chatter

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No big fight cards are on the near horizon but boxing gyms and mixed martial arts academies are at full tilt.

Maywood Boxing Gym was the first fight gym on my journey. The small boxing building with two boxing rings is home to a lot of prizefighters, including some of the elite prospects in Southern California.

Two of the three brothers Molina were sparring and working out on Wednesday afternoon. Carlos Molina, who recently fought former world champion Amir Khan at the nearby L.A. Sports Arena, was busy hitting various bags. Also, younger brother Oscar Molina was sparring in preparation for another fight next week, tentatively in Mexico. He is a former Mexican Olympian.

In the other boxing ring featherweight contender Charles Huerta was busy boxing some of the guys from Long Beach. It was pretty good stuff as each fighter worked on things with few restrictions. Later, Russian prospect Rustam Nugaev took his turn with a number of quick fisted and fleet footed lightweights.

Nugaev is one of many talented Russians who work at the Maywood gym. He is being trained by famed boxing coach Rudy Hernandez, the brother of the late, great Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez. How great was Chicanito? His only losses came to Floyd Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya. That’s impressive. Nugaev and Hernandez are a good team. The Russian lightweight is due to fight Jose Hernandez on Aug. 9, at Morongo Casino in Cabazon, Calif.

After the sparring ended we drove to East L.A. to eat at Lupe’s 12 Kinds of Burritos on Third Street. It’s been a favorite eatery for anyone living in that area for decades. De La Hoya, Eric Gomez, Raul Jaimes and I grew up in that area and have stories to tell about the restaurant. The owner is a big boxing fan and sports fan in general.

Next on the list was South El Monte Boxing Gym where trainer Ben Lira coaches amateurs and pros. He’s working with Joseph Diaz, the former U.S. Olympian now fighting as a pro. He will be fighting this Saturday on July 20 at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio. Golden Boy Promotions needed someone to fill a spot after Frankie Gomez pulled out due to an injury. Diaz is a comer.

The last boxing stop for me was Montebello P.A.L., where former junior middleweight champion Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora (pictured above) and Seniesa Estrada train on a daily basis with vastly under-rated trainer Dean Campos. I missed both fighters who had trained earlier in the day. Mora recently fought and beat a Polish middleweight contender and is on the hunt for another middleweight contender or one of the world champions. He’s not being choosy. Estrada hopes to fight next week in Pomona.

Other Fight Chatter

The World Series of Fighting Fan Fest takes place at Dave and Buster’s in Ontario, Calif. on Saturday July 20. Six-time mixed martial arts world champion Ray Sefo and Josh Burkman will be present at the festivities. The events take place from noon to 4 p.m.

Riverside Poly High graduate Saul “Dinamita” Rodriguez (10-0-1, 7 Kos) remained undefeated with a third round technical knockout of Dominic Coca (8-4, 3 Kos). Both landed blows in the first round before Rodriguez began to find openings. “He had a strong right hand,” said Rodriguez. “My corner told me to be patient and the openings would come. And they did.” The junior lightweight fight took place Saturday in Inglewood, Calif.

Argentina’s Marcela Acuna (39-6-1, 17 Kos) defeated Melissa Hernandez (18-5-3, 6 Kos) by unanimous decision after 10 rounds on Saturday. The female featherweight world title fight took place in San Miguel, Argentina. Hernandez is considered one of the top female boxers in the world.

Germany’s Robert Stieglitz (45-3, 25 Kos) won the WBO super middleweight title by technical decision against Japan’s Yuzo Kiyota (23-4-1, 21 Kos) on Saturday. A cut over Kiyota’s left eye forced the referee to stop the fight in the 10th round of their scheduled 12 round bout in Dresden, Germany. WBO and WBF female middleweight titlist Christina Hammer defeated Mikaela Lauren by unanimous decision.

La Puente’s Jose Zepeda (15-0, 13 Kos) stopped Mexico’s Ricardo Dominguez (37-10-2) in the third round of their welterweight fight in Tijuana, Mexico. Most of Zepeda’s fights have taken place in Mexico.

Mariana “Mexican Barbie” Juarez (37-7-3, 16 Kos) avenged her loss to Japan’s Riyo Togo (17-5-1, 10 Kos) with a unanimous decision win after 10 rounds in a junior bantamweight bout. Juarez suffered a first round knockout loss to the hard-hitting Japanese fighter a few months ago. This time she used her boxing skills to out-fight Togo in Guanajuato, Mexico.

New Jersey’s Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez (24-0, 16 Kos) bombed out Russia’s Denis Grachev (13-2-1, 8 Kos) in a fight held in Monaco on Saturday night. The super middleweight clash was held along with another super middleweight match that saw Russia’s Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-0, 9 Kos) stop South Africa’s Souleymane M’baye (40-5-1, 22 Kos) in the 11th round.

WBO minimum weight titlist Merlito Sabillo (23-0, 12 Kos) retained the title by technical knockout of Jorle Estrada (17-7, 6 Kos) on Saturday in Manila. Also, AJ Banal (29-2-1, 21 Kos) stopped Abraham Gomez (18-8-1) in the second round of a junior featherweight bout.

United Kingdom’s Kell Brook (30-0, 20 Kos) remained undefeated with an eighth round stoppage of Oklahoma’s tough Carson Jones (35-10-3). The welterweight match took place in Yorkshire, England on Saturday.

Alejandro “Alacran” Perez (18-3-1, 12 Kos) delivered a gut sapping body shot to defeat Mexico City’s Edgar Riovalle (35-15-2, 25 Kos) by seventh round knockout on Saturday. The junior lightweight match took place at the Hollywood Park Casino. Also, Japan’s former world champion Takahiro Ao (24-3-1, 11 Kos) used a body shot to knockout Chile’s Hardy Paredes (16-12, 10 Kos) in the second round of a lightweight bout.

Russia’s Maxim Vlasov (26-1, 12 Kos) defeated Riverside’s Mark Suarez (25-4, 13 Kos) by unanimous decision after eight rounds in a super middleweight clash. It was Suarez’s first fight in seven years. The match was held in Ventura, Calif. on Friday.

Lancaster’s Chris Avalos (22-2, 16 Kos) defeated Philippine’s Drian Francisco (24-2-1, 19 Kos) by unanimous decision after 10 rounds on Friday. Also, Glen Tapia (19-0, 11 Kos) remained undefeated by technical knockout of Abraham Han (19-1, 12 Kos), whose corner stopped the fight at the end of round eight of a junior middleweight battle. Both fights took place in Las Vegas.

Argentina’s Yesica Bopp (24-1, 11 Kos) is looking to rebound from her first loss and fights Anastasia Toktaulova (14-11) in a battle for the WBO and WBA female junior flyweight world titles. They will meet on Friday in Buenos Aires. Bopp was defeated by Jessica Chavez last month in Mexico.

Undefeated junior lightweight Mickey Bey (18-0-1, 9 Kos) fights John Molina (25-3, 20 Kos) on Friday July 19, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Also, undefeated Badou Jack (14-0, 10 Kos) meets Farah Ennis (21-1, 12 Kos) in a super middleweight collision.

Coachella’s Randy Caballero (18-0, 10 Kos) fights Puerto Rico’s Miguel Robles (12-2-2, 5 Kos) in the main event on Saturday July 20, at the Fantasy Springs Casino. The junior featherweight bout is staged by Golden Boy Promotions and will also feature former junior lightweight world champion Jorge Linares.

 

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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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