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Herrera’s Pesky-Aggressive Style Made Garcia Look Ordinary

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This past weekend junior welterweight title holder Danny Garcia 28-0 (16) successfully defended his WBA/WBC belts against Mauricio Herrera 20-4 (7) in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. After 12 very close and difficult rounds to score, Garcia won a majority decision by the scores of 116-112 twice and 114-114. It was an extremely close fight and neither fighter was ever close to going down or being in trouble, but it was Herrera who fought his fight and had Garcia trying to solve his difficult style, something he never did.

I scored the fight 115-113 Herrera and agree with commentator Paulie Malinaggi who said it’s a shame that two of the judges who scored it 116-112 for Garcia missed the fight that was happening right in front of them. Speaking of Malignaggi, he is as good or better than any commentator in boxing. He not only sees everything quickly, but cogently explains the whys and why- nots without trying to sound like a know it all, even though he’s as close to being one that there is among current boxing commentators.

Danny Garcia likes to say that he’s Philly-tough and possesses Puerto Rican power. That’s a cute soundbite.. and it’s mostly true. Danny’s also a very fundamentally sound boxer and technician, but at heart he likes to rumble and fight. What separates him from other fighters with that mindset is he’s very versatile and is content to out-box an overly aggressive opponent. And what he found out against Herrera is Mauricio doesn’t fit into any category and is a nightmare to fight.

There was talk right after the bout that perhaps Garcia looked less than par against Herrera because he was coming off a 182 day layoff. I say don’t believe it, Garcia could fight Herrera 10 times at 140 or 147 and never look good against him.

For 12 rounds Herrera had Garcia guessing and trying to find something that worked. When Herrera carried the fight to him and took the lead, Garcia was always a punch late and off the mark. And when he tried to push the fight and dictate the tempo, he was nailed on the way in and never really answered back enough to offset what landed on him cleanly as he initiated the exchange.

He never could time Herrera and was uncomfortable fighting as the attacker as well. During the bout Malignaggi kept referring to Herrera as being pesky with his style and attack, which was very profound. As we saw, Herrera, by not looking for the knockout really had Garcia befuddled. Garcia is used to after being hit flush, having his opponent look to continue the barrage for the finish, but not Herrera. Mauricio wouldn’t be baited into the big exchanges that Danny was trying to ignite. It looked as if Garcia was at times willing to eat a couple punches just so he could get Herrera to fight and trade with him but he never could lure him into the brawl he needed to really get off good. For a majority of the fight Garcia was mostly wrong on every punch that he anticipated coming at him, causing him to get hit with leads and counters like we’ve never seen before in his career. Because of his natural style, Herrera actually took the bullets out of Garcia’s gun’s by virtually causing him to have to think and pause while he was determining what to throw and when to throw it – and during those lapses he was peppered by Herrera’s jabs to the head and body.

Garcia is a tough guy who is very comfortable when he’s facing a rough and tumble opponent who is trying to knock his head off, and he’s fine with carrying the fight to them or engaging them if they bring it to him. However, Herrera only tried to hit and touch him. He fully grasped that Garcia is very tough and durable and there was no way he was going to win by knockout; plus, add to that he’s not much of a puncher himself, and he stymied Garcia by just connecting cleanly and then making him miss with his counters.

Herrera’s only significant punch is his jab, but he throws it constantly, upstairs and down, then clinches. His movement is very jerky, and he’s impossible to predict. He’s physically stronger than he looks and wasn’t manhandled at all by Garcia, although he has absolutely no power.

Herrera being cognizant of his lack of punching power has him knowing that a knockout is out of the equation, thus all he has to concern himself with is unsettling his opponent. So he keeps those jabs coming in from all kinds of angles, then he ties up. He’ll make anyone look horrible. When the fight was over Garcia had the look of a fighter who didn’t think he got beat up, but the look of a guy who knew the other guy probably got the better of it. He spoke in generalities during the post fight interview because he couldn’t be specific, knowing he never solved Herrera’s passive-aggressive style because nothing he tried worked for long.

Sure, he had successes and got the better of the fight in spurts, but once Herrera felt it was enough, he forced Garcia to either have to chase him or move away and regroup trying to figure out his next move. Sustained offensive continuity is something Garcia never achieved. He came within centimeters a few times with some big left-hooks and right hands to Herrera’s chin, but he never really caught him with anything consequential or close to resembling his best finishing punch.

Among his past seven wins before fighting Mauricio Herrera, Garcia owns decisions over Zab Judah, Kendall Holt, Nate Campbell, Erik Morales and Lucas Matthysse, as well as stoppage victories over Morales and former titleholder Amir Khan. Six of those seven fights were against fighters who held a title at one time and Garcia fought as though he was the favorite instead of the underdog in everyone of them. In fact you can say with impunity that Garcia won all seven of those bouts convincingly. He was a big favorite against Herrera and wasn’t very impressive but that doesn’t mean he was exposed because he wasn’t. Everyone who knows anything about boxing knows that styles make fights. Mauricio Herrera is an awkward and unconventional fighter, and those guys really bother fighters who are fundamental and do most things via the book. This is something the late great Alexis Arguello often attested to after his two wars with Aaron Pryor.

Danny Garcia had an off night against Mauricio Herrera, but Herrera had a lot to do with that and if they fought again he’d probably look no better than ordinary in that fight too. If anything surfaced during the bout that we didn’t know before it’s the fact that Danny Garcia is not comfortable fighting a guy who isn’t trying to kill him. Being hit by clean punches that really do nothing more than knock him out of position to counter bother him more than the bombs that Lucas Matthysse threw at him or the darts that Erik Morales and Amir Khan tried to outbox him with.

Lastly, Garcia’s less than convincing performance against someone with little name recognition probably removed him from the Mayweather sweepstakes, at least for the time being.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Tanaka vs. Kimora: A Monday Morning Treat For Serious Fight Fans

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Kosei Tanaka was just 4-0 the first time he was appraised on The Sweet Science back in 2015; the question then was, is Tanaka the world’s brightest boxing prospect? The question now is whether or not Tanaka is about to add a strap at a third weight to an already glittering career that has seen him annex belts at 105 and 108lbs in just his first eight fights.

Now 11-0 with seven knockouts he prepares, this coming Monday, to duel Sho Kimura in Nagoya, Japan and with a lot more than just the WBO trinket on the line.

Hearts and minds, as always, translate into dollars and yen. The winner of this all-Japanese contest will find himself buoyed in fame, glory and gold in his home country, which also happens to be one of the few places on the planet where a boxer can collect a small fortune without ever leaving his native shores. Should the winner dare to dream a wider dream, then that too can be facilitated by the win.  Even fistic denizens of boxing strongholds in Japan and Britain feel a shiver run down their spines when the words “Las Vegas headliner” are whispered into their ear.

The favored man among the hardcore in the west is Tanaka. He is still very young at just twenty-three years old and is slick and quick, what the west expects of a Japanese force. Interestingly enough, however, the Japanese seem to be leaning towards Kimura: older, at twenty-nine, armed with a superb work-rate, good power, limited technique but the conqueror of Chinese superstar Shiming Zou who he stopped in the summer of 2017. Zou may have had his bubble burst by the Thai brawler Amnat Ruenroeng in 2015, but it was Kimura who sent him stumbling into retirement and at a time when the talk was of China stealing Japan’s thunder as boxing’s home in the east.

Kimura was indeed impressive that night in Shanghai. He maintained pressure with wonderful variety, eschewing the jab, perhaps, for spells, but filling those gaps with an assortment of wonderful punches, most of all his body attack, which was persistent, withering, and apparently went unscored by two of the three judges who somehow had the Chinese ahead at the time of the eleventh round stoppage. Zou had shown a skill for flurrying while fleeing and Kimura had shown him how to fight.

Now a strapholder at 112lbs, Kimura staged two defenses in the following twelve months. The first was against Toshiyuki Igarashi, the man who beat Sonny Boy Jaro, the man who had beaten the superb champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam before a softer fight against Froilan Saludar. He won both by stoppage.

Kimura, then, rather came from nowhere but made the most of his arrival. What he displayed in all three of these fights was a determination to offer pressure and footwork educated enough to do it while taking many fewer steps than his harried opponent. A tad overrated as a puncher, I suspect, he places himself in hitting position often enough that his default fight plan – chase, harass, throw – makes him capable of hurting his opponents by way of persistence and pressure.

He left Zou, Igarashi and Saludar, broken in his wake.

In short, he is the type of opponent Kosei Tanaka has been waiting for.

There have been calls for Tanaka to be considered a pound-for-pound talent should he overcome Kimura this Monday. I understand the impulse. Tanaka, were he to triumph, would become a three-weight world champion and he hails from a boxing territory which has little direct control over the meaningful pound-for-pound lists, if such a statement is not a contradiction in terms.

In short, it is felt he would be undervalued.

Tempering these calls is the fact that he has never beaten a divisional number one and that Kimura would be, by far, the best opponent he would have bested, and the most proven. Some Tanaka opponents have come good after he defeated them, some were ranked in the lower reaches of their respective divisional top tens when he matched them, but none are scalps as impressive as those dangled by the likes of Errol Spence or Anthony Joshua, who populate the nine, ten and eleven spots in reputable lists.

But this is neither here nor there; the key is not what Kimura does not represent, it is what he does represent. He is the best that Tanaka has met and, I would argue, the first truly elite fighter that Tanaka has met. He is the litmus test and he is one with a stylistic advantage.

Tanaka can punch. Here we will find out whether or not he punches hard enough to keep Kimura off him. Personally, I doubt it and that means that Kimura is going to hand him a serious gut check.

Interestingly, it will not be Tanaka’s first. The first time I wrote about him I stressed that his chin was essentially untested. That is no longer true. Tanaka, who is reasonably sound defensively, can be lazy in minding himself and foolish in pursuing the attack.

Thai puncher Rangsan Chayanram checked him in 2017, delivering a serious eye injury among other ignominies before succumbing in nine; puncher Angel Acosta, a ranked fighter if not a great one, hit and hurt Tanaka repeatedly late in their 2017 contest. If Tanaka has been learning these lessons, expectations concerning his potential may be realized. If he is not, he will fall short. Kimura is the man to test him.

Kimura’s experience and seemingly limitless twelve-round stamina are to be pitted against Tanaka’s skill, proven heart and taut footwork. It sees a superior technician – Tanaka – who has shown a propensity for being drawn into a cruder fighter’s wheelhouse matching an aggressive stalker – Kimura – who specializes in drawing technically superior foes into knockdown-drag-out scraps.

It is framed both as a fight that is likely to finish a future pound-for-pounder’s education and a fight where a young pretender is found out by a grizzled veteran.

Best of all, it is a fight that fight fans can watch for free, simply by clicking here.  The Asian Boxing website has secured exclusive international rights to the fight and will broadcasting it, free of charge, to anyone with an internet connection. As can be seen here, the fight is due to start at 4pm Japanese time.

All the reader has to do is find out what that means for timing in their own corner of the globe and a potential fight of the year will unfold before his or her eyes free of charge.

World class boxing being broadcast for free and including two of the best below 115lbs; a stylistic crossroads contest that opens up the on-ramp to pound-for-pound recognition for at least one of the combatants – on a Monday.  All facts worth keeping in mind the next time that someone tells you boxing’s prime was any number of decades ago.

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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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