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Holyfield Is Retired, Now In Advisor Role To Zhang Zhilei



You knew the man was a lover outside the ring, and I’m not being flippant about his relationships and offspring, and you heard him talk about his faith, about being a Christian, and you knew he wasn’t prone to smack talk, or degrading foes, or any of that…so you knew where Evander Holyfield stood, basically, as a human being outside the ring. But you also knew that when you stepped in their with him, or you paid your entry fee to watch him do his thing, especially when he was in his prime, he’d be looking to take your damned head off your shoulder.

Evander said as much on Thursday, at a midtown NYC restaurant, as he was introduced as the new advisor, more mental than technical, to the Chinese heavyweight Zhang Zhilei, who is promoted by Dynasty Boxing and debuts, in a four rounder, on Aug. 8, on ESPN. That card will be co-promoted by Lou DiBella, and unfold in Fallon, Nevada.

You knew I was coming to try and kick your tail, and you knew I’d hug ya afterwards, Evander told the assembled media, who grilled him on his work with Zhang, his recollections of that infamous “Bite Fight” against Mike Tyson on June 28, 1997, and his plans to glove up again himself…or not.

Holyfield sat next to the 6-6, 255 pound Zhilei, who sat next to his pal and interpreter, Curt, as Dynasty head Dino Duva oversaw the gathering, while Dynasty’s Tommy Lane mostly listened as Evander, who turns 52 in October, talked about what he could bring to the table for Zhilei, a 31-year-old hitter trained by Joe Grier and Harold Knight in New Jersey.

They both posed for photos while biting into apples, symbolic of Holyfields’ history of being bitten and their presence in the proverbial Big Apple.

Holyfield told me his career is over, he is done, he will not fight again. “No, no, I’m done.” For real, he insists…Yes, he said the same back in 1994, but, “I was a kid then,” he said, chuckling, and “I’m a senior citizen now.” He will be inducted into the Nevada State Boxing Hall of Fame on Aug. 9, so, he said, he better be retired.

Who knows, maybe he’d lace ’em up and spar a bit with Zhilei, he said, but he’d not be keen to take any licks. By the way, he said he decided to end his ring forays after Alexander Povetkin said he’d fight Holyfield, but then changed his mind. He got close to fighting a Klitschko, but the Ks asked him to beat a few decent foes first, and Holyfield said heck with that. He said so many of todays’ heavies are wild cards, not terribly refined, and who really wants to go through that silliness, he said, maybe getting hit with a goofy punch from a novice type. He thought he had the inside game to bother a Klitschko, he said, but, the implication was clear that he’d done too much to be asked to re-climb a ladder to get another crack.

 Evander told TSS that no, he’s not a trainer, you won’t be seeing him working the corner of Zhilei, who will start off in a four rounder, with Duva seeing him being in ten rounder within about twelve months or so. But he will do his best to earn his keep, he said, by trying to impart to the Chinese hitter, who won a silver in the 2008 Olympics, the importance of bringing an intention of destruction into the ring.

Holyfield, who last gloved up in May 2011 against Brian Nielsen, said that he was quite clear on the job when he signed for a bout, that his desire was to separate his foe from his senses. Then, when the final bell rang, it was over. The implication was clear, I thought, that Holyfield thinks the long, tall Chinese boxer needs to get into more a pro style mindset, with power punching being items A and B on the to do list for a pro who wants to go places.

So, Evander, you know a thing or two or ten about being a champion…is Zhilei champion material? “He can be, he could be. Life is about adjustments,” he said, noting that it will be up to the Chinese fighter to fulfill the dream. “We feel he does have the heart, that he has the size, everything that’s necessary. But he got to want to be it. If he want to be it, he will be it.” He has a good jab and a good right hand, Evander said, and he will need to act like the big man he is, and not let the little foes do their thing on him.

Now, back to what I sensed Holy picked up on in Zhilei…I asked Duva to clarify on what I picked up on, and the dealmaker, who has been laying the ground work for this Asian invasion since 2007 or so, acknowledged that if there is one thing he wants Zhilei to master, to hone, is that mindset. And, he told me, he has seen improvement already, since he started training in the US in March. “I see it in his work in the gym, on his face, in his eyes when he’s getting to work,” the promoter said.

Holyfield (44-10-2) said that if he had to choose one thing to hammer home to the newbie, it’s “perseverance.” It’s about doing the same thing over and over, till it becomes routine, he said. His trainers, Georgie Benton and Lou Duva, annoyed him by making him do the same thing over and over…but now he can look back and appreciate the intent. “You get accustomed to redundant things over and over, you become successful,” he said.

Duva told us that he introduced Holyfield to Zhang back when he ran a training camp for Chinese boxers in 2007, and that he hoped they’d have more dealings down the line. “We’re very honored Evander has joined our team,” he said. The Aug. 8 debut, Duva said, will be a massive kick, because the fight will also run on Chinese TV, as well as ESPN. “This is the beginning of a historic career,” he said.

Big Zhang seems nothing but pleasant and humble, patiently taking questions always. He earned high marks from me, when I asked him a favorite line in English, which he’s been working on. “Thank you for your coverage!” Zhilei said, with a grin.

The boxer said that he enjoyed watching Holyfield fights when he was younger, and he very much does comprehend the import of having such boxing royalty involved in his developement.

I must say, I’m happy that Holyfield’s immense and useful reservoir of stubbornness has melted a bit, and has allowed him to consider this next vocational step. I’m also rooting for the Dynasty plan to reach fruition, because I like to see the sport as a whole grow and flourish. Duva said by the end of the year, it is likely Dynasty will do their own singular show, and show off their roster beyond Zhilei.

Follow Woods on Twitter.


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



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



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.



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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