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RINGSIDE REPORT McCarson on the Maidana-Broner Card

Kelsey McCarson

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Welterweight Marcos Maidana solved “The Problem” in fine fashion Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Maidana defeated Broner by unanimous decision 115-110, 116-109 and 117-109.

The problem with Adrien Broner is that he believes he is Floyd Mayweather. The issue with that, of course, is Broner doesn’t really understand who or what Mayweather really is. Mayweather is the consummate professional. His work ethic is unparalleled in the sport, and for all the glitz and glamour of his Money Team persona, Mayweather is as blue-collar as it gets in the places it counts most. He shows up on fight night of sound body and mind. He talks to the media, smiles for the cameras and takes pictures with fans. He signs autographs for hours and hours and hours.

Broner just wants the lifestyle. He’s brash, loud and arrogant. He wants to be celebrated for things he’s never done, and he acts as if he is already a living legend. At the weigh-in on Friday, he admonished fans who wanted autographs and rudely declined those in the media seeking quotes. He was too busy being so important, after all.

Maidana stunned Broner with a left hand early in Round 1. Broner waved him in and Maidana obliged. Maidana landed flush shots in a one-sided round. Broner was hurt but tried to play it off with showmanship and guile. A left hook sent Broner down to the canvas and set the tone for the rest of the night.

Maidana used a mixture of hard and wild punches. He hurt Broner badly in the second round. He was stumbling around the ring like a baby deer on ice at times. Broner gathered his wits about him by the end of the round but mostly got pummeled.

Both fighters got rough as the night wore on, but Broner consistently got the worse of things when it was all said and done. Sure, the gifted athlete had his moments. He was precise at times and made Maidana miss wide enough to earn some rounds, but Maidana was just too much grit, gumption and firepower. Broner was hurt in Round 3 by a hard left hook. Round 4 was fought at more a measured pace. Both did work from more of a distance than previous rounds. Broner landed jabs upstairs and down. Maidana kept the pressure on with unorthodox punching patterns.

In Round 5, Broner landed a nice uppercut to start out well, but Maidana erased it with a hard hook at the end of a three-punch combo. Back and forth it went. They were both landing punishing blows. Broner had his best round. Sure, he was still getting hit, but he also landed clean shots and dictated the pace of the round. Still, an undeterred Maidana threw the kitchen sink at him for good measure.

Broner did some fine work in Round 6. He took the fight to Maidana for most of the set, but again the hard-throwing Maidana landed heavy shots toward the end of the round.

Maidana threw punches in bunches in Round 7, and many of them landed. In Round 8, a booming left hook sent Broner down to the canvas again. The crowd cheered wildly. Broner did his best to hold Maidana and catch his breath. It worked, and Maidana lost his head a bit when he gave Broner a headbutt. Referee Laurence Cole immediately separated the men, taking a point away from the offender. Broner overly played up the foul, flailing around on the ground like a helpless child. Was he hurt as bad as he seemed? Or was he looking for a way out of the fight? Or maybe just a rest? Cole gave him a few minutes of respite, then ordered the men to continue.

Broner had a real problem now. He was still slowed from the Round 8 beating as Round 9 began. Maidana sensed it and came hard at him with thunderous blows. Broner tied him up, but Maidana landed a big left anyway. Then a right. Broner was hurt again. He moved quickly in retreat back and around the ring, but could not keep Maidana off of him. Another hard left was Broner’s punishment now. And another. Broner got his wits back when Maidana ran out of gas from all the punching, but it was a one-sided round for Maidana. Round 10 was back and forth. Broner was brave and proud. He would not suffer his first loss easily.

Maidana buzzed Broner to open Round 11, then Broner roared back with quick hooks and uppercuts. Then it was all Maidana again. He was a dominant force tonight. Broner hit Maidana after the bell. No point taken by Cole, but he called time and let Maidana rest an extra minute before the last round.

Round 12 was all Broner at the beginning, who must have known he needed a knockout to win. But Maidana, ever the willing warrior, spent the last minutes getting the better of some fantastically wild exchanges. When the final bell tolled, the pro-Maidana crowd cheered wildly for their man. He was the clear victor in perhaps the biggest upset of the year.

Thurman Takes Care of Soto Karass

Before the main event, welterweight Keith Thurman handed the brave Jesus Soto Karass a savage nine-round beating to remain undefeated and on the rise.

“I’m here to entertain!” exclaimed Thurman afterwards, and he certainly did.

An overhand right from Soto Karass in Round 1 stunned Thurman who recovered and knocked Soto Karass silly by the end with an overhand of his own as well as a left hook to the temple. He was the stronger puncher and it showed throughout the fight.

Soto Karass stood his ground in Round 2, ripping hooks to Thurman’s torso. Both landed meaningful blows in a torrid three minutes of action. Soto Karass was warned for a low blow.

Soto Karass was relentless in Round 3, coming forward with punches high in both power and volume. He strafed Soto Karass around his midsection and ripped him up top with a hard right hand. Round 4 was similar. Soto Karass was content to grind forward while Thurman circled to his left. Thurman is a smart fighter. He loaded up on punches likes hooks and uppercuts for counters to try and deter Soto Karass as much as possible.

After making Soto Karass miss more than any previous round, Thurman did real damage in Round 5. Thurman knocked Soto Karass down to his bottom, backwards into a neutral corner after a jab, cross, left hook combination. Thurman helped his adversary hit the deck with a slight forearm push on the way down after the hook had done it’s damage.

Thurman fought smart in Round 6, moving around and timing thunderous single punches from distance. Soto Karass was still pressing forward, but appeared tired and with less steam on his punches than before. Thurman’s jab and footwork was key to him taking Round 7, and a hard right hand didn’t hurt things either. Soto Karass did have a bit of success when pinning Thurman against the ropes, but it wasn’t enough to make traction.

Round 8 was close. While Soto Karass was pressing forward with constant pressure, Thurman’s counters seemed to lose their zip. Soto Karass landed a nice hook and right hand in the round that might have given him the edge, though Thurman connected with some missiles before the bell rang.

A hard right hand from Thurman in Round 9 sent Soto Karass reeling to start it, but the brave, tough warrior pressed on. Tired, hurt, and a little befuddled now, he stayed with his approach of sliding forward with small steps to close the distance on his opponent, an increasingly dangerous proposition. The end was near. Thurman stopped Soto Karass in his tracks with a tremendously powerful left hook, a right hand, then another, then a hook and another. The referee jumped in to stop it at 2:21 as poor Soto Karass fell down to his bottom in defeat.

Other Action

Light heavyweight Beibut Shumenov defeated Tomas Kovacs by Round 3 knockout. After the bout, Shumenov said he expected a bout with Bernard Hopkins in 2014.

Shumenov was the stalker against Kovacs. He worked his way into the fray behind a long jab, then opened up with a quick three-punch combo which ended with a left hook to knock Kovacs down near the end of Round 1. Kovacs took a count, but made it to his feet before 10. The bell sounded and he was free to continue. Shumenov played it safe in Round 2, working carefully but with enough aggression to keep Kovacs in danger. Kovacs took a knee from a left uppercut but got up to take several hard right hands.

Shumenov ate some right hands in the third, but used a stinging jab to keep Kovacs off balance enough until he could land a hard right hand to end things. Kovacs went down and the referee halted the bout at 2:55 of Round 3.

Super bantamweight Leo Santa Cruz outworked Cesar Seda over 12 rounds. It was a workmanlike effort from the universally loved volume puncher. Seda gave Santa Cruz various angles to keep his opponent from steamrolling over him, but couldn’t do enough to win many rounds. Judges at ringside scored it 116-11, 115-112 and 117-110 for Santa Cruz.

Bantamweight prospect Rau’Shee Warren defeated Jose Silveira by unanimous decision. Judges at ringside scored the bout 80-72 all three ways. Warren used fast and busy hands to befuddle his outclassed opponent over all eight rounds. The three-time Olympian said speed was a critical part of his arsenal as he moves forward in his transition from amateur to professional.

Former middleweight champion Jermain Taylor dominated J.C. Candelo on Saturday night. Taylor ended things with a jab-cross combo at 2:08 of Round 7. He was winning every round with a stiff jab and thunderous right hand, something he said he worked on rigorously during training camp. Taylor said he felt sharp in the bout, and that he expects a world title shot in 2014.

Lightweight prospect Robert Easter, Jr. looked the part of a future world champion in his short bout. The Cincinnati-based fighter used a hard left hook to double over Hardy Paredes of Chile in the very first round. The bout was called at :30 of Round 1.

Lightweight Jamel Herring dissected Lance Williams in just two rounds to continue his undefeated career. Herring scored two quick knockdowns in Round 2, then one more to finish him. Herring was a 2012 Olympian for the United States.

Finally, junior welterweight Ricardo Alvarez defeated Rod Salka by unanimous decision. Alvarez is one of Canelo’s older brothers, and does not appear as gifted.

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Will Fury’s Deal With ESPN Torpedo The Fights That Fight Fans Want to See?

Arne K. Lang

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Fury's deal with ESPN

For the past few weeks, boxing fans have been led to believe that the rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder was ever so-close to being a done deal. But in the world of professional boxing where Machiavellian characters seemingly hold all the positions of power, nothing is ever a done deal until it’s finally finalized. Today’s announcement that Tyson Fury has signed with ESPN is the latest case in point. It’s a three-fight deal that will reportedly earn the Gypsy King $80 million if he can successfully hurdle the first two legs.

As Thomas Hauser has noted, what we have in boxing today is something similar to leagues in other sports. There’s the Top Rank/ESPN League, the Matchroom/DAZN League, and the PBC/Showtime/FOX League. We would add that these are intramural leagues. Occasionally there’s cross-pollination, similar to when the Yankees play the Mets in a game that counts in the regular season standings, but basically the boxers in each league compete against each other.

We have no doubt that WBC/WBA/IBF heavyweight ruler Anthony Joshua will eventually fight Wilder and/or Fury, but it now appears that these matches, when they transpire, will have marinated beyond the sell date. The action inside the ring may mirror the Mayweather-Pacquiao dud.

A match between Joshua and Wilder is already somewhat less enticing than it would have been if it had come to fruition last autumn. The odds lengthened in favor of Joshua after Wilder’s raggedy performance against Tyson Fury on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles.

True, the Bronze Bomber almost pulled the fight out of the fire with a thunderous punch but he was out-slicked in most of the rounds and it wasn’t as if he was fighting a bigger version of Pernell Whitaker. Before that fight, casual fans were less tuned-in to Deontay Wilder’s limitations.

It was reported that the Wilder-Fury rematch was headed to Las Vegas or New York, but that Las Vegas fell out of the running when the State Athletic Commission insisted on using Nevada officials. Fury was the one that balked.

In hindsight we should have seen that this was fake news. No Nevada officials were involved in Fury-Wilder I. The judges were from California, Canada, and Great Britain. The California judge voted against Fury, scoring the fight 115-111, a tally for which he was excoriated. The judge from Great Britain, like many ringside reporters, had it draw. The TV crews, especially the crew from Great Britain, left no doubt that Fury should have had his hand raised and the controversy made the hoped-for rematch more alluring.

So who will be Tyson Fury’s next opponent? Speculation immediately centered on Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev.

Pulev, who turns 38 of May 4, sports a 26-1 record. He was slated to fight Anthony Joshua in October of 2017 but suffered a torn biceps in training and was forced to withdraw. In his most recent bout he outpointed Hughie Fury, Tyson’s cousin. He’s currently ranked #1 by the IBF.

On Dec. 8 of last year, Bob Arum announced that he had hammered out a deal to co-promote Pulev. It was subsequently reported that Pulev’s first fight under the Top Rank/ESPN umbrella would be against Finland’s Robert Helenius on March 23 in Los Angeles. Six days ago, the distinguished European fight writer Per Ake Persson told his readers that the fight had fallen out, ostensibly because the parties could not come to terms.

Tyson Fury is the most charismatic white heavyweight to come down the pike since Gerry Cooney and the big galoot is bigger than Cooney ever was as he has avid followers on both sides of the Atlantic and Cooney didn’t have social media to enhance his profile. I have little doubt that ESPN will recoup their investment in him. However, deals in boxing are never consummated with an eye on uplifting the sport – on patching things up with the disaffected – and here’s yet another example.

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Three Punch Combo: Two Recent Upsets Trigger Memories of Forgotten Fights

Matt Andrzejewski

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upsets win world titles

THREE PUNCH COMBO — There is just something magical about a longshot overcoming seemingly unsurmountable odds to accomplish a major feat in boxing such as winning a world title.

Earlier this month, undefeated 130-pound champion Alberto Machado defended his title against Andrew Cancio in Indio, CA. Cancio (pictured) was considered a solid pro, but he had been outclassed on the occasions when he stepped up his level of opposition and few expected him to remotely compete with Machado. But Cancio elevated his game and sprung an unthinkable upset, stopping Machado in the fourth round to become a world champion. Cancio’s incredible backstory has since been well documented by several media outlets.

In terms of shock value, Cancio’s upset was mindful of another recent upset, Caleb Traux’s monster upset of James DeGale in December of 2017. Truax traveled to the UK to challenge 168-pound title-holder DeGale.  He was given no shot to win; most doubted that he would be competitive. But Truax overcame the odds and shocked the boxing world winning a majority decision to become a world title-holder. Truax’s story of overcoming incredible odds to dethrone DeGale became the feel good boxing story of 2017.

The underdog stories of Truax and Cancio are still fresh in our minds. But often times, such stories become somewhat forgotten as time passes. In this week’s three punch combo, I will look at three other incredible underdog stories that all occurred in 1997. They were all equally as heartwarming as those of Truax and Cancio.

Keith Mullings vs. Terry Norris, 12/06/1997

In 1997, 154-pound champion Terry Norris left his promoter Don King to sign with Top Rank with the express purpose of securing a big money fight against Oscar De La Hoya. After winning two non-title fights under the Top Rank banner against low level opponents, Norris was placed on the same pay-per-view card as De La Hoya who would be defending his WBC world welterweight title against Wilfredo Rivera. Top Rank was planting the seeds for a De La Hoya-Norris showdown the following year. Not wanting to take any chances, they selected a seemingly safe opponent for Norris in Keith Mullings.

Mullings entered with a record of 14-4-1. He had one win in his last six fights. However, Mullings was coming off a controversial split decision loss to another 154-pound champion in Raul Marquez three months earlier in a fight many believed Mullings deserved to win. The performance against Marquez gave Mullings credibility but his limited skills did not leave many to believe that he could compete with an elite fighter like Norris.

For the first seven rounds, the script seemed to be going according to plan. Norris boxed effectively using his left jab to control range and landing combinations behind that punch. He was seemingly in total control of the fight.

In round eight, Norris’s movement slowed and Mullings began to land on a more stationary target. Although not known as a puncher, he dropped Norris with a hard right hand. Norris survived the round but Mullings came out aggressive to start round nine. After reigning punch after punch on Norris in the first minute of the round, referee Tony Perez stepped in to save Norris from more punishment.

Mullings would make one successful defense of his title three months later, stopping Davide Ciarlante in round five, but that would be the last win of his career. He would lose his title in his next outing to Javier Castillejo and then lose three more times before hanging up the gloves for good in 2001.

Mauricio Pastrana vs. Michael Carbajal, 01/18/1997

Entering 1997, 108-pound champion Michael Carbajal had only two losses on his resume in 46 professional fights. Both losses had come in 1994 to the great Humberto Gonzalez. One was by majority decision and one by split decision. Carbajal had won 12 fights in a row following the second defeat to Gonzalez and was still considered to be in the prime of his Hall of Fame career as he entered a title defense against unknown Mauricio Pastrana on January 18th, 1997.

Pastrana had an undefeated record of 15-0 with 13 of those wins coming by knockout. But he had fought nobody of note, feasting on inferior competition in his native Columbia. He was given literally no shot by most in boxing to even be competitive with the much more experienced and seemingly more skilled Carbajal. As a matter of fact, so little was thought of Pastrana that during the beginning of the fight a promo was run hyping Carbajal’s next scheduled title defense in March.

The first two rounds were largely feeling-out type rounds. In round three, Pastrana announced his presence, shaking Carbajal with a hard right hand. From there, Pastrana upped his output using an effective well-timed stinging left jab to set up his combinations. He outworked Carbajal and landed the cleaner punches as the fight progressed. Carbajal certainly had his moments in what became a surprisingly exciting fight but in the end the judges preferred the activity and cleaner punching of Pastrana who would win a split decision.

Pastrana made two successful defenses against overmatched foes before losing his belt on the scales before a scheduled title defense in August of 1998. In his next fight, he would capture an interim title belt in the flyweight division but that would be his last success in any major title fight. He never was able to replicate the performance he had against Carbajal. Along the way, Pastrana suffered defeats to some big names including Rafael Marquez, Celestino Caballero, Jhonny Gonzalez and Gary Russell Jr. Following a knockout loss to Mikey Garcia in 2012, Pastrana retired with a final professional record of 35-17-2.

Uriah Grant vs. Adolpho Washington, 06/21/1997

In his second pro fight, Uriah Grant was fed to debuting 1984 Olympic Heavyweight Gold Medalist Henry Tillman and was knocked out in the second round. Three fights later, Grant was selected as an opponent for prospect Ricky Womack and dropped a six round decision. It appeared that Grant’s career was ticketed to being that of a journeyman.

Grant’s career would bounce up and down following the Womack loss. With a lack of depth in the cruiserweight division, Grant did get opportunities at bigger fights and even world title bouts but continued to fall short when he stepped up in class. The journeyman tag seemed appropriate as he entered his 13th year as a pro in 1997 with a pedestrian record of 25-12.

In August of 1996, Adolpho Washington traveled to Spain and scored a unanimous decision victory over the previously undefeated Torsten May to win a cruiserweight title. The win moved Washington’s record to 26-3-2. After a bit of a layoff, Washington settled on a title defense against Grant to help shake off the rust.

Stuffed deep on a Don King promoted card in Florida, the fight was thought to be a mismatch with no US television interested and barely anyone in attendance. But in an absolute shocker, Grant defeated Washington by split decision. The unheralded cruiserweight went from journeyman to world champion overnight.

Unfortunately for Grant, his championship reign would be short. Five months later in his first title defense, he was out-boxed by Imamu Mayfield losing a unanimous decision.

Grant would not fight for a major title again, but in 2000 he would gain a little more notoriety when he defeated a faded Thomas Hearns. Four years after defeating Hearns and following a string of losses, Uriah Grant retired with a final record of 30-21.

Photo credit: Tom Hogan / Hogan Photos / Golden Boy Promotions

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Ringside in LA: Leo Santa Cruz Educates Rafael Rivera in an Entertaining Fight

David A. Avila

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Leo Santa Cruz

LOS ANGELES-Last minute substitute or not, Leo Santa Cruz met the future in Mexico’s Rafael Rivera and banged it out with the youngster for 12 entertaining rounds to retain the WBA featherweight world title by decision on Saturday.

It was all about that learning curve.

Santa Cruz (36-1-1, 19 KOs) gave Tijuana’s Rivera (26-3-2, 17 KOs) a lesson on elite prizefighting before more than 5,000 at the Microsoft Theater. Despite the disparity in experience the featherweight clash was still packed with action.

If fans expected Rivera to be run out of town by the much more experienced Santa Cruz, they were badly mistaken. The Tijuana fighter had fought in Southern California twice before and exhibited a toughness and grit you don’t see from run-of-the-mill opponents. Though he was called in just weeks ago, Rivera was ready and willing.

Immediately Santa Cruz showed the skill and intelligence needed to be a world champion and targeted Rivera’s body from the first round. Despite the painful looking digs to the body, the youngster Rivera held firm.

It was all Santa Cruz for the first four rounds as he showed off his ability to blast body shots at will. The painful looking shots seemed to bother Rivera, not because of the pain inflicted, but from embarrassment from not being able to defend against the onslaught.

“I hit him hard to the body and head very well, but he didn’t go down,” said Santa Cruz.

Rivera found his break in the fifth round when he managed to give the champion a different look. Multiple left hooks connected on the champion and he then capped the end of the round with a vicious left hook body shot and right uppercut. Santa Cruz smiled at the effort.

Santa Cruz never allowed Rivera much more from there on. He mixed up his attack and confused Rivera with different looks, except in the ninth round when both flurried with a barrage of blows like angry alley cats.

The winner of the fight was never in doubt during the last half of the fight. But fans enjoyed the high caliber exhibition of the art of banging Mexican style. After 11 rounds both fighters looked at each other with respect and were ready for an eventful finale.

Santa Cruz probably knew he was far ahead and though he relishes bang, bang type of fights, he was still careful enough to not make obvious openings for Rivera. It was a careful and scientific round until the final 10 second warning clap, then both looked at each other and nodded simultaneously and proceeded to unleash a barrage of punches in tornado-like fashion. The fans yelled in unison for the flourish of blows and cheered at the final bell.

But after 12 rounds the judges were in agreement and all tabbed the fight 119-109 for Santa Cruz.

“I’m very happy with my performance and I thought I gave everyone a great fight. I was in there with one of the best fighters in the world and throwing punches and exchanging with him. More than anything, I’m very proud to have fought 12 rounds with a great world champion like Leo Santa Cruz,” said Rivera.

Santa Cruz was not as pleased with the performance, but happy that it was an entertaining fight.

“I tried to do my best and do what I could to give them a great fight,” said Santa Cruz. “I would have loved to have been even better, but he’s really tough and solid opponent.”

Santa Cruz fans were pleased by the effort and the champion himself seeks even more challenges this year.

“I want to fight the best. I want to fight any of the champions at featherweight or a third fight with Carl Frampton,” said Santa Cruz. “I want to be back this summer and fight three times this year against the best in the division.”

Figueroa Wins

A battle between welterweight sluggers saw Omar Figueroa (28-0-1, 19 KOs) out-punch John Molina (30-8, 24 KOs) and win by unanimous decision after 10 rounds in a fight that surprisingly saw no knockdowns despite their lofty records for stoppages.

Figueroa was the busier fighter throughout but Molina had his moments especially with the overhand rights. Each fighter scored with heavy shots throughout the 10 round match but the judges liked Figueroa’s busier output. The scores were 97-93, 98-92, 99-91 for Figueroa.

It was expected to be a fight resulting in a knockout but each fighter showed a good chin despite the big blows scored. Figueroa, who hails from Weslaco, Texas, is a former lightweight world titlist but has been forced to move up due to weight problems. Southern California’s Molina showed a good chin and keeps his name in the game.

Ryosuke Iwasa Wins Elimination Bout

Japan’s Ryosuke Iwasa (26-3) won by technical decision after 10 rounds against Mexico’s Cesar Juarez (23-7) in an IBF super bantamweight elimination title fight. The fight was stopped because of a cut on Juarez from an accidental clash of heads in the second round, A ringside physician stopped the fight at the end of the ninth round and according to California rules it went to the scorecards where Iwasa was ruled the winner by majority decision 95-95, 97-93, 98-92.

Other Bouts

Giant super welterweight Sebastian Fundora (12-0, 8 KOs) knocked out Buffalo’s Donnie Marshall (10-1, 6 KOs) at 1:08 of the third round to win the battle of undefeated 154-pounders.

Despite the nine-inch reach advantage and the six-inch height advantage Fundor fought most of the clash on the inside and scored heavily with long right uppercuts. It was a long right uppercut that caught Marshall moving away and floored him in the third round. Fundora then chased the dazed fighter around the ring and battered him with a dozen unanswered blows that forced referee Jerry Cantu to halt the fight and declare a knockout win for Fundora.

Fundora fights out of Coachella, Calif.

Argentina’s Neri Romero (12-0) was blasted to the floor with a sneak punch by Thomas Smith (5-7-1) right during a break but managed to claw his way back to a win by unanimous decision after six rounds in a super featherweight match. Smith, who fights out of Dallas, showed he could really take a shot but tired at the end of the last three rounds and allowed Romero to win on endurance. All three judges saw it the same 58-55.

Shon Mondragon (1-0) stopped Julio Martinez (1-1) at 47 seconds of round two with a two-fisted attack that forced referee Ray Corona to halt the super bantamweight fight. Mondragon, a southpaw, fights out of Commerce, Colorado.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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