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Cotto Talks About Catchweight, Roach Talks About Sergio’s Excuses

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Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto took part on a Thursday conference call to hype his June 7 scrap at Madison Square Garden, against middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, and the 33-year-old said he thinks he will be just fine at this weight class, and feel comfortable at 160.

“I feel at 160 I don’t need to lose weight,” and thus, he will be that much stronger, because he doesn’t need to cut. Indeed, he said he does feel he has more power at this class, but allowed that he won’t know how it will play out till fight night.

HBO, by the way, will produce the PPV show.

Cotto said he’s 33, and he won’t become a bulky sort overnight, it’s now more a matter of keeping muscle on. He said he trained for the full 12, and if Martinez, who promised a KO, didn’t, he’s in trouble.

Cotto was asked if he’d need to lead, or counter, or what. Whatever needs to be done, will be done, and he will listen to his corner, and follow that advice.

I asked about the catchweight, 159 pounds. On Wednesday, Team Martinez portrayed Cotto as a diva, who made too many requests as the “A side.” They said that Cotto demanded the catchweight, and I wondered if that is indeed the case. “That came from Sampson,” Cotto said. Top Rank exec Todd Duboef hopped in, to clarify, and said that the Martinez people stated that a lower weight could be agreed upon. “They settled at 59,” he said. “It was mutual,” he said. (UPDATED, THURSDAY AFTERNOON: Nathan Lewkowicz, of Team Martinez, and Sampson’s son, talked to TSS about the catchweight. He said what Cotto and Duboef is true.  The media was talking about a catchweight first, so Sampson, right up front, to Team Cotto,  said 157 or less was a no fly zone. Sampson asked for 160 first, and Team Cotto countered with 159, and it was immediately agreed upon, Nathan said. He thinks Cotto will come in 155, 156, while Sergio usually comes in at 159, or 158, and Nathan expects the same for fight night.)

Cotto said he will fight at a comfortable weight, and wouldn’t offer a target weight for the weigh-in.

(I get the sense that hardcore fans don’t care for catchweights and while I understand a fighters’ desire to gain an edge with a catchweight, I really don’t much support them. We have so many weight classes, I think we should be able to agree to a cemented weight class.)

I also asked Miguel about Cotto’s body punching making him pee blood after workouts. “I’m just doing my work, I didn’t think about that, sorry Freddie,” Cotto said, to chuckles.

Roach said his body protector doesn’t help him that much anymore, and that Cotto is “the hardest worker” he’s worked with, and is also the most disciplined.

Top Rank’s Duboef said Cotto’s goal is to be the first Puerto Rican boxer to win titles in four divisions. He said the ticket demand has been hot, as well. The exec said that this one, apart from a Mayweather or Pacman PPV, is maybe the biggest PPV in about five years. He predicted the results will be “incredible.” He said he isn’t sure if they can do a million buys, and thinks that might be a reach, in fact. The Puerto Rican buy rates will be “huge,” he said. He said ticket sales also indicate demand is immense, as the scraps almost sold out after four hours on sale.

Cotto trainer, Freddie Roach, was also on the call, and Roach said that camp has been stellar. He’s brought in awkward lefties to spar and he said he “can’t wait for this fight to happen.” He said he thinks Cotto will be the stronger man, and his guy will push Martinez around on the inside.

The trainer said he thinks Martinez is already sort of making excuses, with the talk of his past injuries, but he’s training Cotto for a 100% Martinez. Roach said if the knees aren’t good, they will catch Sergio earlier, rather than later. He doesn’t want to hear after that his knee was bad, he said.

Cotto said he’s been having fun in camp with Freddie and the guys in camp. He was asked if he ever thought he’d fight at middleweight. It never crossed his mind, he said.

He said he had differences when he was getting ready to fight Manny Pacquiao, but now his relationship with Roach is “great.” They have the chemistry to make him a better boxer, he said.

He’d love to win that title in that fourth class, he said, but that wouldn’t mean he’d automatically be thought of as better as a Wilfredo Gomez or a Tito Trinidad. He played down a question as to whether he’s there with those legends, and said that’s a matter for the fans to decide.

The last time he fought at MSG, he lost to Austin Trout. He was young and mobile, and Sergio isn’t so young, and has hampered mobility, arguably. Thus, he said, it’s apples and oranges. “We guarantee you, we’re going to win this fight,” he said.

Trainer Roach said Cotto now knows how to control the ring better, and has worked on that a lot. “We’re more scientific about our approach to the fight, about how to control the ring better,” he said.

The left-handed Cotto said he started fighting at 11, and started lefty, but right away, switched to righty stance.

He said he is less concerned with what Sergio brings to the table than his prep, and Martinez will need to adapt to him. He didn’t offer anything when asked what Martinez does that is potentially worrisome to him. Again, he said that he is concerned with what he will do, not the other guy.

He said he wants to win another crown, but that family, doing well for his kids, is his greatest motivation.

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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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