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Vitali Klitschko Retires To Pursue Politics

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WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko has retired and given up his title to pursue politics in the Ukraine. Klitschko vacated his title on Monday and said he doesn’t expect to fight again as he pursues a presidential bid in his home country, where citizens have been protesting for weeks in Kiev over President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to shun closer ties with the European Union and push his country toward Russia.

The World Boxing Council proclaimed Klitschko a ”Champion Emeritus,” a move that would allow him to challenge the new champion directly should he wish to resume his career.” This offer makes it theoretically possible to return to the ring, which I cannot imagine at all happening as things stand now,” Klitschko said in a statement. ”I am now concentrating on the politics in Ukraine, I feel people need me there.”

Klitschko is a lawmaker and chairman of the opposition party Udar (Punch) and intends to run for president in 2015. Yes, the door was left open for Vitali to return to the ring and maybe after jumping into politics with both feet, he may long to get punched in the face again, because the business of politics is the only business more corrupt and ruthless than boxing/contact sports. If you’re looking for commentary on Klitschko’s politics, sorry, not here. However, there’s plenty to speak of regarding Vitali the former heavyweight title holder, who retires with a career record of 45-2 (41) with an 87% KO ratio, which is among the top three in heavyweight history. He’s also the only heavyweight title-holder in history who has never been knocked of his feet during his career.

Who would’ve thought a decade ago before he really arrived on the scene that he would retire 10 years after fighting and losing to Lennox Lewis and would go on to compile hall of fame credentials?

I remember being at the press conference in Atlantic City in June of 2002 for Wladimir Klitschko’s final press conference before his fight with Ray Mercer. Wladimir was mobbed by writers and reporters while Vitali was standing in the back by himself with nobody paying him any mind. And when he was singled out, it was said that he was the less formidable fighter and his younger brother Wladimir was the future of the heavyweight division. Ironically, those remarks were made by the European writers who supposedly had the real down low on the Klitschko brothers. Amazingly those who covered the brothers most closely were so much off the mark and never grasped until years later that Vitali was the greater fighter and is the most accomplished heavyweight since Lennox Lewis retired after defeating Vitali in a life and death struggle back in June of 2003. When Vitali turned pro in 1996, he took a back seat to his younger brother Vitali in much the same manner Michael Spinks did to his older brother Leon, when the brothers made their pro-debut in 1977. And like Vitali, Michael ended up being the better and more accomplished fighter. Vitali blew through his opponents on the way up and was seldom met with much resistance until he fought the small and slick southpaw Chris Byrd. Vitali was controlling the fight until he injured his shoulder during the last third of the bout and retired after the ninth round. Despite his commanding lead, his heart and toughness was questioned by the media after the fight.

After losing to Byrd, Klitschko won five straight bouts and then challenged WBC title holder Lennox Lewis who was coming off of his eighth round knockout of former undisputed champion Mike Tyson.

Lewis didn’t think much of Vitali as a fighter and showed up in terrible condition. Lennox paid for that mistake and was subjected to one of the toughest fights of his career. Luckily for Lewis that during the brawl he managed to cut Vitali over his left eye with a big right hand and the fight was stopped after the sixth round with Klitschko leading 58-56 on all three judges scorecards. The fight was sloppy and both fighters were spent after six rounds and it’s a matter of speculation as to who would’ve won had the fight continued.

Lewis retired after fighting Vitali and has smartly avoided coming back. Lennox knew that if he continued after fighting Vitali, there was only one fight out there that made sense for him to take, a rematch with Klitschko. After thinking it over Lewis declined and left the division to Vitali and Wladimir to clean out, and they did. Only Vitali won 13 fights after fighting Lewis and never lost. He even took off four years and came back to reclaim a piece of the title at age 37. In fact he and George Foreman are the only two heavyweight title holders in history to defend a version of the title over the age of 40.

Those who have followed the heavyweight division during Vitali’s era circa 2000/2013 know the names and history of the fighters he’s faced on the way up and as a title holder. Yes, it was a very weak lot and you could make the case that the two best fighters on his record technically hold victories over him. However, he was winning both fights and was never punched around or man-handled by any fighter he ever faced, including Lewis. The negative on Vitali is, he was forced to fight and defend his title against a very pedestrian era of heavyweights. The fighters he faced who could punch, couldn’t fight. The others couldn’t fight or punch and the rest were journeyman who earned a title shot by compiling a few consecutive wins. There’s no way around it, like Larry Holmes and many other heavyweight title holders, there weren’t any outstanding or great challengers around to really test him.

Unlike Holmes, Vital Klitschko looked clumsy in the ring and was very awkward, something he used to his advantage during combat. The bottom line is the opposition he fought was very limited, but that’s not his fault, he fought whoever was the most qualified to fight him and he dominated practically every time out. Actually, he seldom lost rounds let alone bouts. And as he leaves today he’d still be favored over every heavyweight in the word if they were to meet, even at age 42.

Here’s the positive regarding Vitali the title-holder. At 6’7″ and 250 plus, he was very big and physically strong. More importantly he knew how to use his size and strength in the ring. He was versatile and could circle and move if fighting an attacker like Corrie Sanders or Dereck Chisora. He could also press the fight against the fighters who moved away from him like Tomasz Adamek and Kevin Johnson and he also was a very effective counter-puncher. Vitali possessed great punch anticipation and was hard to hit. He had more than adequate stamina and if he hit you clean, he could get you out of there evidenced by his high knockout ratio. Vitali was a confident fighter and was not intimidated by any opponent he fought. Regardless of his opponent’s style, he forced them to address his strengths and awkwardness before they could even attempt to try and fight their fight. No, he didn’t always look polished and refined, but he was damned effective and was a thinking fighter in the ring. In fact he never made mistakes or beat himself once in 47 bouts.

Where does he rank in heavyweight history? It’s too early to say for sure. What can be said is he must be considered amongst the top 15 heavyweight title holders in history based on what he brought to the ring as a fighter. Yes, I’d make him an underdog to Joe Louis, Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, but he would give them one of the toughest fights of their careers if so in a losing effort. As for the rest of the great champions and title holders, he’s even money because of his size and style advantage against them head-to-head.

Like Gene Tunney, Rocky Marciano and Lennox Lewis, Vitali Klitschko is getting out of boxing at the right time. He’s leaving as the best fighter in the division as champ with his health, wealth and respect intact. That alone makes him unique. Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@gmail.com

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Saul Sanchez Wins in Ontario, CA

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ONTARIO, CA- Saul Sanchez remained undefeated after a tumultuous battle against Mexico’s Fernando Saavedra to win by majority decision to the dismay of a small crowd on Friday.

In a battle of bantamweights at the Doubletree Hotel, it was Pacoima’s Sanchez (11-0, 6 KOs) who started quicker but San Luis Potosi’s Saavedra (7-6, 3 KOs) closed the gap in the latter half of the fight in front of a boisterous crowd of maybe 400 fans.

Sanchez nearly floored Saavedra in the first 20 seconds of the fight when a three-punch combination had the Mexican fighter wobbled. It spurred Sanchez to go on the attack, ultimately leading to a toe-to-toe battle.

The quicker hands and feet of Sanchez proved troubling for Saavedra, who needed the Southern Californian to stand still. That seldom happened in the first four rounds.

But though neither boxer seemed to tire, Sanchez began getting trapped against the ropes and allowing Saavedra to connect with powerful blows. The last three rounds were especially close and Sanchez was able to slip more blows than Saavedra. But each never ready to quit.

After eight bantamweight rounds, two judges scored it 77-75 for Sanchez and one had it 76-76 a draw. Sanchez was deemed the winner by majority decision.

Many fans were angry by the decision.

Other bouts

Corona’s Louie Lopez (5-0, 3 KOs) remained undefeated with a solid performance over Bakersfield’s Ray Cervera (0-2), a resilient super welterweight. Lopez was able to use his quick left hooks to score in every round but Cervera had a good chin and was able to counter with rights. No knockdowns were scored in the four round fight and all three judges scored the fight 40-36.

Oscar Torrez (3-0, 1 KO) knocked down Richard Soto (0-1) in the last round to assure a victory by unanimous decision in an entertaining heavyweight fight. Torrez fights out of Rialto, CA and is trained by Henry Ramirez who also trains Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola. The two heavyweights seemed evenly matched for the first two rounds, with Soto having his best round in the second when he continually landed one-two combinations with good effect. But Torrez resumed control of the fight in the third by using the jab, then mixing up his attack. In the fourth round, Torrez unleashed a 10-punch barrage that dropped Soto in the corner. The fighter from Northern California got up and survived the round but was unable to turn things around. Two judges scored it 39-36 and another had it 40-35, all for Torrez.

Anthony Franco (3-1-1) took time to warm up before scoring a knockdown and defeating Kansas fighter Antonio L. Hernandez (1-4) by decision after four rounds in a super welterweight contest. In the third round, Franco slipped under a left by Hernandez who tripped and when he turned was met by a perfect left that knocked down the Kansas boxer. Though he wasn’t hurt, it changed the complexion of a close fight in favor of Franco who lives in Redlands, CA. All three judges scored it for Franco 38-35, 39-36, 38-37.

Tijuana’s Rafael Rivera (26-2-2, 17 KOs) ripped into Guanajuato’s Jose Ramos (11-15-1, 8 KOs) with a savage attack to win by knockout in the first round. A barrage of blows sent Ramos backward dangling over the ropes. Referee Ray Corona ruled it a knockdown and let the fight continue. Rivera resumed the attack and blistered the taller Ramos with blinding punches forcing the fight to be stopped at 1:51 of the first round. It was Rivera’s first fight since losing to Joet Gonzalez by split decision last July in Los Angeles.

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Pacquiao-Broner: A Perfect Fight for Pacquiao and the Good Guy Wins

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Various sites are reporting that eight division titlist Manny Pacquiao 60-7-2 (39) will meet four division title winner Adrien Broner 33-3-1 (24) in December or January with Manny’s WBA regular welterweight title on the line. The fight hasn’t been confirmed yet but here’s how you know it’ll happen, and that is the fight makes dollars and sense for the super-star involved and that’s Manny Pacquiao.

Pacquiao signed with adviser/promoter Al Haymon – with the hope of getting a rematch with Floyd Mayweather in 2019. Haymon is tied to Mayweather and Broner and most of the top welterweights in the sport – including world champions Errol Spence, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter. Manny lost a unanimous decision to Mayweather in May of 2015 and has longed for a rematch ever since. And ironically, neither Mayweather nor Pacquiao want any parts of taking on a young gun boxer in his prime. Both Terence Crawford, the WBO title holder, and Errol Spence, the IBF titlist, would take apart and embarrass both of them and there’s a sound case to make that both would’ve been okay tangling with Floyd and Manny even during their prime.

However, Mayweather and Pacquiao are businessman first and fighters second at this time and that’s been the case for quite a while. Manny only has interest in facing Mayweather again because he seeks revenge and Floyd will be 42 and coming off a long period of being inactive by the time they face off. As for Mayweather, he’d rather partake in big money fiascos where he can continue to gouge the public in WWE gimmicks against elite MMA fighters like Conor McGregor, his last opponent, or McGregor’s recent conqueror Khabid Nurmagomedov.

The only real boxer Floyd would entertain fighting is Pacquiao, who at this stage is only a moderate threat to Floyd because Mayweather hasn’t been in the gym much and has been preoccupied with spending his money. That and Pacquiao has a style that Floyd knows he can handle and Manny holds a version of the welterweight title. Granted, Floyd would probably make more money facing Nurmagomedov and Pacquiao is more or less his plan B if Manny gets by Broner. The problem with Mayweather facing Nurmagomedov is that Nurmagodev’s MMA fights don’t attract big interest and just maybe after the McGregor farce, both boxing and MMA fans are fed up with Mayweather’s faux fights and rip-offs – and with him then rubbing it in their faces by bragging how much money he made. So perhaps fans have wised up and will only consider paying to see Floyd fight another boxer – therefore Pacquiao becomes relevant to him.

With it no longer a secret that Mayweather and Pacquiao are only interested in robbing the public, enter Adrien Broner. If there’s another fighter who has been rewarded with big fights after posting underwhelming performances every time he has faced an upper-tier fighter, I don’t know of him. Broner is 3-2-1 in his last six bouts, having faced two championship caliber opponents in Shawn Porter and Mikey Garcia. He lost on the judges’ cards by a collective 16 points versus Porter and 14 against Garcia….in other words he didn’t compete and after the first third of those fights you could’ve turned to something else and you wouldn’t have missed a thing…other than Broner scoring a knockdown over a coasting and careless Porter in the 12th round.

Broner, 29, is a highly skilled boxer, and when he fights he shows flashes of what he could’ve been but never was. Adrien’s problem is he has a low boxing IQ and never cared to expand it. He’s let his weight balloon up and he’s lazy. Actually, Broner doesn’t like to fight and does it because he’s pretty good at it and he likes the notoriety it brings him. Other than that, he’s a contented loser and that makes him perfect for an aging Pacquiao.

When they get in the ring Manny can count on Broner fighting no more than 30 seconds per round and posing and loafing for the remaining 2:30. Adrien will talk up a great fight, saying he knows time is running out and he needs a sensational showing, but once again his words won’t translate into deeds…they never do. Pacquiao, knowing that a potential Mayweather rematch hinges on how he looks, will show up prepared and ready for battle. Manny has been around the block a few times and knows nothing will escalate the interest in another fight with Mayweather like a good showing and perhaps him being the first to stop Broner inside the distance.

Hopefully boxing fans won’t be asked to shell out PPV dollars to watch Pacquiao vs. Broner. But it’s boxing, so nothing should come as a surprise. The only given here is that Broner doesn’t hold any advantage over Pacquiao in size or skill, which isn’t normally the case with Manny. Moreover, he’s facing a fighter who will fold and break the first-time things get tough, and if we know one thing about Pacquiao it’s that he doesn’t make it easy for anybody. And I expect him to feed off of Broner’s weak constitution as the fight progresses. In addition to that this is the perfect good guy versus bad guy match up.

The one thing that might add intrigue to Pacquiao-Broner is that Broner is an easy guy to root against and a ton of fans would love to see nice guy Manny Pacquiao beat him up and humiliate him. And if the fight comes to fruition, count on that being how it unfolds. Yes, Pacquiao fights the perfect guy in order to set up a rematch with Mayweather and Broner will exit the ring a loser once again, only with a little more money to flush down the toilet.

Frank Lotierzo can be reached at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Irish Jason Quigley Keeps NABF Title at Fantasy Springs

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INDIO, Calif.- Jason Quigley returned to fight in Southern California after nearly two years away and found it tough going in defeating Mexico’s veteran Freddie Hernandez by unanimous decision to retain the NABF middleweight title on Thursday.

Nearly every round was contentious.

Quigley (15-0, 11 KOs) had decided to train in England after spending several years in Southern California. Though he beat Hernandez (34-10, 22 KOs) he must have forgot how to fight inside as that’s where the troubles began at Fantasy Springs Casino. The fight was televised on ESPN.

After spending the first several rounds picking apart 39-year-old Hernandez from the outside, when the Mexican fighter crowded Quigley, the Irish fighter found it difficult to maintain his punch advantage.

Hernandez used his crafty inside work to both score and muffle the punches incoming from Quigley. In the sixth and seventh round the Mexican fighter began mounting considerable damage on his foes’ face. Whether it was weariness or some other factor, Hernandez was scoring big with well-placed left hooks and lead rights.

The crowd began shouting “Fred-die, Fred-die” as the veteran landed flush blows. A look of concern crossed Quigley’s face.

Both fighters looked tired by the ninth round, but the older fighter Hernandez somehow seemed fresher especially while fighting on the inside. Then Quigley began separating himself and scoring with pot shots. That seemed to stop the rushes of Hernandez.

In the final round Quigley’s fans began shouting his name and the Irish fighter though weary managed to fire some combinations while on the move. Both fighters were exhausted when the final bell rang.

One judge scored it 99-91, the other two had it 98-92 all for Quigley.

“I feel great, I knew coming in this was a big test for me,” said Quigley.

Yes it was.

Gomez

New York’s Eddie Gomez (22-3, 12 KOs) was supposed to be joined with his dad for the fight against Japan’s Shoki Sakai (22-9-2, 12 KOs) in Indio, but unexpectedly his father passed away this past weekend. The fight still went on.

Gomez won every round against the game Sakai who was trained by Mexico’s famed Nacho Beristain. The welterweight Gomez from the Bronx used his speed and movement to keep away from Sakai’s big blows. After eight rounds all three judges saw it 80-72 for Gomez.

“It was very hard. He (father) was supposed to come out Saturday night. He took a week off of work. He was supposed to fly out and Saturday was the day he had died,” said Gomez after the fight. “I got to bite down. He was in camp with me. He had his input. He would have been proud today. I love you pops.”

Other bouts

Coachella’s Rommell Caballero (4-0, 3 KOs) floored Hugo Padron twice to win by knockout at 1:25 of the first round in a super featherweight match. Caballero, the 19-year-old brother of former super bantamweight champion Randy Caballero, connected with a counter left hook during an initial exchange that sent Pardo to the floor. He got up tentatively and was met with a crisp right through the gloves for a second knockdown. Referee Tom Taylor took a look at Pardo and waved the fight over.

“My first fight on ESPN I just want to thank everybody. All I’m doing is training. I’m getting ready and staying sharp,” said Caballero who was a former sparring partner for Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. “Training with him (Gonzalez) is one of the greatest experiences I ever had.”

After losing most every round Ray Perez (24-10, 8 KOs) made a stand and connected with an overhand left that staggered Chimpa Gonzalez (19-3, 15 KOs) and then the Filipino fired another overhand left through the guard and down went Gonzalez. Though he beat the count, Gonzalez seemed light headed and when the fight resumed Perez connected with more blows and the fight was called at 2:15 of the seventh round. Perez was deemed the winner by knockout.

It was a rematch of a fight that took place last February at the same venue. In that contest Perez won by unanimous decision.

Gonzalez trained with Joel and Antonio Diaz in Indio for this match. And though the lanky lightweight was far ahead on the score cards, he seldom moved his head and paid for it. Before that, he was ahead by attacking the body of Perez who protected his body for the last three rounds. But once Gonzalez slowed Perez revved up his attack and finished Gonzalez.

In a featherweight clash Edgar Ortega survived a first round knockdown against Recky Dulay (11-4, 8 KOs) and rallied to win by unanimous decision after six rounds by scores 57-56, and 58-55 twice.

Southpaw lightweight Angel Ruiz (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out Dominican Republic’s Jonathan Fortuna (8-3) at 1:40 of the fourth round. Ruiz, 21, fights out of Tijuana, Mexico.

Super featherweight Elnur Abduraimov (2-0) knocked out Giovannie Gonzalez (5-3) at 2:38 of the second round. Abduraimov, 24, is originally from Uzbekistan.

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