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Should Adrien Broner Stay at Welterweight?

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Adrien Broner (27-1, 22 KOs) announced via Twitter this week that he wants an immediate rematch with Marcos Maidana (35-3, 31 KOs). Broner suffered the first loss of his career against the rugged Argentine slugger on December 14, 2013 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

“…Ya’ll [are about] to see me back in the ring in some weeks,” Broner tweeted. “And I ain’t fighting nobody until I fight [Maidana] again…I’m a warrior.”

Broner was dismissive of Maidana before facing him. He ridiculed the fighter as someone who did not belong inside the same ring as Broner, saying Maidana was basically a steppingstone who would be “easy money.” Broner even said he would “flatline” Maidana.

But Broner’s tune has now changed.

“I’ll give props when it’s due and [Maidana] out hustled me that night, but this rematch with be different,” Broner tweeted.

It was Broner’s second fight at welterweight since jumping up to the 147-pound division from lightweight. Broner’s first foray at welterweight was a split decision win over Paulie Malignaggi last June. While Broner appeared to have advantages over Malignaggi in both speed and power, Malignaggi was able to peck away at him through all 12 rounds, to the point that many at ringside believed he actually deserved the nod over Broner.

And against Maidana, Broner was simply outslugged. Maidana put Broner down to the canvas in Rounds 2 and 8, hurt him numerous times and outworked Broner in the late rounds to take home a clear victory.

One has to wonder whether Broner, 24, just moved up in weight too high, too soon. I posed that very question to renowned boxing trainer Ronnie Shields recently at his gym just outside of Houston.

“If I was in his corner,” said Shields. “I’d tell him, look, you have to be smart about this. Another loss would hurt you really bad. Take a couple other fights.”

Shields said he’d advise Broner to move down to 140 pounds for at least a year or two.

“Because to me, he’s not strong enough to be a welterweight right now. He’s a good fighter. You can’t take that away from him. But he’s not strong enough at that weight, and the guys at the weight are really, really strong.”

Shields is one of the smartest guys in the sport today. In an age when far too many in boxing earn the title of trainer simply by throwing a towel over their shoulder, Shields is a throwback to another era. He’s the real deal.

“Just think. If he’d have beaten Maidana, the next fight would probably have been Keith Thurman. He’s way too big for [Broner], way too strong for him.”

He’s right. Isn’t he? Having sat ringside for Thurman’s last two fights, I can tell you the thud of his powerful punches is a sonic boom compared to the punches Broner and Maidana land. Jumping into the ring too soon with a guy like Thurman would be bad news for Broner.

Still, Shields said he knows what Broner is thinking in wanting to jump right back into the ring at 147 against Maidana.

“You have to understand that Broner is a fighter. That’s what a fighter wants to do. He wants to avenge his loss.”

But Shields said in order to be successful in the sport of boxing a fighter and his team have to think long-term. Boxing is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

“This is a career you’re talking about, and boxing is a business…so [Broner should] let these guys beat themselves up a little bit. Maybe go down to 140 pounds, win that belt there, you know, unify that belt, then in a year or two go back up to 147 pounds. Those guys are still there. They’re not going anywhere.”

There are many good fights for Broner at junior welterweight, including the division’s premier talent, undefeated lineal champion Danny Garcia. Shields told me he absolutely loves that fight.

“He can compete with Danny Garcia. Danny Garcia is a really good fighter. It’d be a great fight.”

Shields said Broner’s natural size fits in nicely at 140, but not 147. He believes Broner would be wise to recognize that, and make the move down instead of facing Maidana again.

“That’s the best option.”

Shields knows how to guide careers. He’s trained some of the very best fighters in the world, including legendary champions Pernell Whitaker and Evander Holyfield. Presently, Shields’ marquee talent is oft-avoided junior middleweight Erislandy Lara. He also trains undefeated prospects Jermell and Jermall Charlo as well as middleweight contender Bryan Vera. Broner would be wise to heed his advice.

“He’s still a small guy. He’s got no height on him, and he doesn’t have the power to compete with those guys at [147]. I mean, look, skill-wise, he can fight anybody…he can fight anyone because of his skill. But be a smart guy…take a step back. There’s no shame in it.”

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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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