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Geale Latest Aussie To Seek Greater Fame, Fortune In The U.S.

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It shouldn’t surprise anyone that IBF middleweight champion Daniel Geale is the about to become the latest Australian celebrity to attempt to increase his American visibility – and, by extension, his worldwide fame and fortune – by coming to the United States to do his thing.

Hey, it’s a tactic that worked pretty well for actors Errol Flynn, Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Paul Hogan, singers Olivia Newton John and Keith Urban, golfer Greg Norman and tennis superstars Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Ken Rosewall, Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

“I feel very hungry. It’s one thing that I haven’t conquered yet, coming to the U.S. to fight,” said Geale (29-1, 15 KOs), who will be making his American debut Saturday night when he puts his title on the line for the fifth time against England’s Darren Barker (25-1, 16 KOs) at The Revel in Atlantic City, N.J. The fight will be televised live by HBO, as will the taped showing of a defense by WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly (26-0, 12 KOs), of Wales, against Russian-born knockout artist Sergey Kovalev (21-0-1, 19 KOs) from Cardiff, Wales.

If the 32-year-old Geale can win convincingly enough, and excitingly enough, in his HBO-televised introduction to American fight fans to whom he remains mostly a rumor, he could be ticketed for high-paying return engagements on these shores. But if it doesn’t work out quite as he and his American promoter, Gary Shaw, are hoping, it wouldn’t be the first time an iconic Australian boxer went home disappointed.

Consider the cautionary tale of Jeff Fenech, a three-time world champion who arrived for his own American premiere with considerably more fanfare than is accompanying Geale’s first working trip to a place where it once was said the streets were lined with gold.

Fenech, whom many Australian boxing experts believe is the finest fighter that country has ever produced, was a 27-year-old sensation, at least in his homeland, when he was brought to Las Vegas for a June 28, 1991, bout with WBC super featherweight champ Azumah Nelson, of Ghana, at The Mirage. It was the primary undercard attraction of a show headlined by the rematch between heavyweight bombers Mike Tyson and Razor Ruddock.

Promoter Don King had signed Fenech, whose attacking, aggressive style had been likened to that of Tyson and Roberto Duran, to a four-fight, $5 million contract. The most Fenech ever had been paid for a night’s work in Australia, where all of his previous 25 bouts had been staged, was around $500,000.

“Americans don’ really know Jeff Fenech,” Fenech said a few days before his ballyhooed showdown with Nelson. “But after this fight, maybe they’ll sit up and take notice.

“I kind of feel like I’m the victim of circumstances. I’ve fought in Australia throughout my career because I wanted to. I would have been perfectly content to have had all the rest of my fights in Australia. But I also recognize that the money’s here in the States. I don’t think I would be paid as much as I am to fight Azumah Nelson in Australia. I’m not sure Australia could afford this fight in any case. I guess I always knew that until I came here, I’d never get the recognition I deserve.”

Unfortunately for Fenech, who went off as a 2-1 favorite, the great Nelson – who, like Fenech, is enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame – retained his title on a draw. The Fenech Victory Tour in the U.S. never materialized; he fought only once more in America in his remaining seven bouts until his retirement in 2008, an eighth-round stoppage of Tialano Tover on Nov. 18, 1995, in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. Two of those final seven fights were rematches with Nelson, both in Australia, with each winning once to leave their series deadlocked at 1-1-1.

It has been much the same story for most if not all of the best native-born Australian boxers. Lionel Rose, Jimmy Carruthers, Les Darcy, Johnny Famechon, Anthony Mundine and Jeff Harding all held world titles at one point or another, but they fought seldom, if ever, in the U.S. and were known here only by hardcore American fans. What about Kostya Tszyu and Vic Darchinyan, you say? Tszyu was based in Australia throughout his pro career but he came from Russia, and the same can be said of Darchinyan, who was Armenian. Even the sainted Fenech, born in Sydney, had Maltese parents.

At 32, Geale is rightly considered to be one of the best 160-pounders on the planet. But he is less known here, and everywhere, than WBC champion Sergio Martinez, of Argentina, and WBA titlist Gennady Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs), who is from Kazakhstan but lives in Germany. Martinez also has the advantage of having fought 14 times in the U.S. and Golovkin three times, a good many of Martinez’s appearances here and all of Golovkin’s getting prime-time television exposure.

Golovkin also has the advantage of being a lights-out puncher whose explosive finishing power presumably puts him in the same must-watch category as Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse (34-2, 34 KOs), emerging American heavyweight Deontay Wilder (29-0, 29 KOs) and, yes, Kovalev, whose scrap with Cleverly – which, if he wins, could lead to a subsequent matchup with ageless legend Bernard Hopkins – probably is regarded by most HBO viewers as the more compelling reason to watch Saturday’s split-site doubleheader.

Geale is a good offensive fighter and an effective counter-puncher, but his knockout ratio is not so high that it suggests he is some sort of absurdly destructive Thunder from Down Under. And Barker, who gave Martinez a problem or two before he was TKO’ed in the 11th round on Oct. 1, 2011, in Boardwalk Hall, is capable in his own right and hardly disposed to help make Geale’s initial turn in the U.S. spotlight a smashing success.

Unlike Fenech, however, Geale has one thing to his advantage as he unveils himself to hard-to-sway American spectators who do not give their hearts readily to some other country’s hero. He has fought outside of Australia twice, both in Germany, defeating Sebastian Sylvester and avenging his only loss, to 38-year-old countryman and former world champ Anthony Mundine.

“People forget that Daniel went overseas and fought two different fighters and came out on top,” Shaw pointed out. “Daniel Geale doesn’t fight scared. ”

It remains to be seen whether Geale is what he claims to be – the No. 1 middleweight in the world – or merely well back in third place, behind Martinez and Golovkin, each of whom has already established his U.S. bona fides.

And if Geale reveals himself to not be at that level, hey, Aussies can always content themselves with watching the DVD of “Cinderella Man,” in which Russell Crowe portrays James J. Braddock as he wrests the heavyweight title from the hugelyfavored Max Baer. Except, of course, that Crowe is playing the role of an American.

Picture: Tim Carrafa Source: The Sunday Mail (Qld)

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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

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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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Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar

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Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

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