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Herrera’s Pesky-Aggressive Style Made Garcia Look Ordinary

Frank Lotierzo

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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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Blake Caparello Looks To Grab WBA Regional Belt This Friday

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This Friday night in Australia, light heavyweight contender Blake Caparello returns to action as he faces youngster Reagan Dessaix for the WBA’s Oceania title in the main event of a planned six fight card at The Melbourne Pavilion.
Dessaix currently holds the belt that Caparello held back in 2017, and the 22-year-old is hoping a win on Friday will put him on the international radar. It is where Caparello, who enters this fight as a 32-year-old, has been and hopes to get to again.
Those are the basics of Friday’s main event, the youngster Dessaix making a significant leap in competition level as he looks to get ranked internationally, while the veteran Caparello is hopeful a win will propel him closer to another world title shot.
Caparello laid claim to the IBO’s world title at 175 pounds back in October of 2013 when he won a comfortable unanimous decision over veteran Allan Green. Caparello, who was 17-0-1 at the time of the Green fight, went on to an introductory fight in the United States, and a win there saw him earn an August of 2014 title shot against WBO champion Sergey Kovalev.
Caparello has to feel he was close to a world title as he had the feared Kovalev down in round one before the “Krusher” took him out in round two. Since then, he has fought Isaac Chilemba and Andre Dirrell, extending both ranked veterans the full fight distance. The March of 2018 loss to Chilemba was for the WBC’s world title, and Caparello managed to go 2-0 the rest of the calendar year.
Green, Kovalev, Dirrell and Chilemba. The bottom line is that Dessaix had a solid amateur career in Australia, but there is no one with resumes like the men Caparello has faced when asked to step onto the world scene.
The WBA’s current world champion is Dmitry Bivol (15-0), who is making the fourth defense of his title in March against hard hitting Joe Smith Jr. The veteran Caparello could mount a case for a mandatory shot against either man with a win on Friday, while Dessaix would likely have to keep fighting and winning before earning a shot at a world title.
The co-feature bout is for the Australian title at 154 pounds and sees 31 year old Billy Klimov facing Joel Camilleri. Camilleri is favored as he has had a lot more professional experience than Limov, who turned professional at 29 years old. Strictly regional stuff here.
Both fights have lines at some of the sportsbooks. Check out the numbers as they were at the start of fight week below.
Fri 2/22 – The Melbourne Pavilion – Victoria, Australia
WBA Oceania Title
Light Heavyweight 10 rounds –
Reagan Dessaix(16-1)         +255
Blake Caparello (28-3-1)    -365
Australian Title
Super Welterweight 10 rounds –
Billy Limov (4-0-1)     +200
Joel Camilleri(16-5-1) -280
Check out the link for the live event right here. http://www.epicentre.tv/events/blake-caparello-v-reagan-dessaix/

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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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