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Canelo and Lara Talk Showdown on “All Access”



Canelo Alvarez stands on the ultra-short list of guys who can take the reins, in a revenue sense, from the boxing moneymakers who are getting up there in years. The Mexican, who turned pro at age 15, when most kids are still trying to master which brand of zit creme works best on their face, is 23, and will be up against two tests on Saturday night, in Las Vegas. First, his in-ring foe, Erislandy Lara. The Cuban escapee bills himself as “The American Dream,” because he’s so pleased to be living in a land where his talents can be fully utilized and exploited for money and stability for him and his family. He says he’s one of the three best pound for pound boxers in the world, and on any given night, he shows skills which can make that claim not seem ludicrous.

Also, another test will not really be clearly graded pass or fail on Monday, and thereafter; can Canelo be a pay-per-view stud, which he’s being built to be, and generate buy rates which could make him the wealthiest hitter on the planet, after Floyd Mayweather, if his momentum continues. That’s no small if, being that the sports’ fans seem to be reaching a point of PPV (and wallet) fatigue, in a world economy which sees the top-tier earners make out hand over fists, while everyone elses’ wages remain static.

Fight fans got a better sense of Canelo, and his foe, in the first installment of Showtime’s All Access documercial, which ran last week.

The redhead looks the part of the budding mogul, decked out in a crisp suit, and walking to a private jet. Right away, he sends a signal of how he wants to be seen. “The same as Mayweather or Pacquiao, only I choose the most dangerous opponents,” he says.

Bravo to that, I say. In a world where fighters are less and less seeking out the stiffest tests, but ceding control of foe choice to timid advisors, or choosing foes, with mobility limitations, or some other deficiency which plays into their hands, Canelo sees himself as an old school sort. He craves the toughest tests, and I dare say, if he keeps up that POV, his status as a next gen superstar will be safe.

He will be faced with a “smart and challenging boxer,” as Lara himself puts it. His hand speed, balance, accuracy and vision could indeed prove to be a too-tough challenge for Canelo, if the Mexican can’t put his power edge into effect. That power was in full effect when he put his hammers on Alfredo Angulo, in his last outing. That same Angulo who found and touched Lara, and sent him to the mat and put some licks on his which left lingering pain in their wake. This leads me to note that I do believe Canelo, a more advanced in the offense department boxer than Fredo, can too find Lara…but we shall see how that plays out…

We saw how Lara rushed the Canelo-Fredo postfight presser, and injected himself into the mix. “I just want to know when we’re going to do it,” he said, standing next to the Mexican at the mic, as then Golden Boy boss Richard Schaefer stared at his shoes.

“Are you guys dying to watch us fight?” Canelo asked the assembled, who reacted with mostly muteness. “Yes?” Not so much, he noted, at the time. I dare say the real-deal fight fans were, if not dying, then quite interested in seeing how this style match played out…and to the dismay of some close to him, Canelo demanded this fight be made. On the show, Canelo said Laras’ move bothered him, and it pushed him to take the bout.

Next, we see Oscar De La Hoya greeting Canelo, and both men working a press tour. In LA, Canelo says that Lara offended him on Twitter. (Note to fighters seeking a bout–use the Lara ‘annoy em till they agree to fight you method’…it can’t hurt.) Canelo tells us Oscar told him not to take this fight..and instead of listening, he took it as a challenge…and signed on. Props to him, I say.

Next, Lara checks in with his family; his wife is due a few days after the bout, for the record. We see him getting in Canelos’ face during a photo pos-off, and Canelos’ trainer Chepo Reynoso promises Canelo will “shut him up.”

Then, we see Canelo at chez Reynoso, chowing. Chepo and son Eddy have been the only trainers he’s ever known. “We feel like family,” the boxer notes.

The loss to Floyd Mayweather is spoken of. No, he won’t consider changing trainers, he says. “My decision is to have the same team,” he says.

Against Fredo, who knocked down Lara twice, Canelo was in a groove. Head, body, hooks, uppercuts, he was dialed in…We see clips from the impressive showing, which naysayers state came against a used up hitter. Chepo says that Canelo has moved on from the Floyd loss, and his mentality is quite strong.

Then, Lara tells us he has 30 pigeons, and that is his hobby. One pigeon he calls “Canelo.” He can identify with the birds, who exult when freed from a cage. In Cuba, child boxers trained like “soldiers,” he says. He tried in 2007 to leave his team in Brazil, and they failed. He was locked up for a week, back in Cuba. But he kept the dream alive. Trainer Ronnie Shields says that Lara tried again. With about 25 others, he got on a boat, and went through rough waters to make it out of Cuba. Too many ex boxers in Cuba just stand around and drink, he says, and he didn’t want to be that. “I didn’t come to this country to get things easily,” he states.

Next, we see Oscar visiting Canelo, labeled “his company’s most precious asset.” ODLH says they are friends and have a business relationship, and that they respect each other. Oscars’ woes are touched on; his rehab stint is mentioned. Canelo says that he can see the difference in Oscar. “We are happy and proud of him,” he says, and gets more points from me, for his loyalty. Oscar says he was depressed, and he went to rehab to fix “my mind and body, because it was broken.” He says he’s “ready to take this fight on like there’s no tomorrow.” He was speaking, I think, about re-taking the reins of his company from Richard Schaefer.

Chepo says the lefty Lara is tough and hungry, no pushover. Canelo says he knows Lara is fast, and a slick counter puncher. “We know he’s strong but he’s looking fast,” says Oscar, while watching a workout. Oscar says Canelo is “special” but Lara is “the real deal.”

Lara then gets a hair trim. He and his two boys chill and chat. The little one, 4, says he wants to grow up and be a pickpocket, and all giggle. The Cuban lives in Texas, because Shields lives there. They’ve been together for 4 years. He notes that Lara beat Austin Trout, in better fashion than Canelo did. “He broke Trout down, there was a mastery how he did it. But when he sits down, it’s like Mike Tyson hitting you,” he says. “I did it way better than Canelo,” Lara says. He says he’s a better boxer AND has more heart than Canelo. Fighting words!

Wife Eudy says Lara is a charmer, but not overly macho. They are expecting a baby girl, for the record. She says she panicked when the July 12 date was offered, because July 14 is her due date. They know he can’t turn down such a business opportunity, though.

To close, we hear a wrap up about the risk for Canelo, and about the immense reward for the victor. “Two men bound by honor, seeking glory,” we hear, from Barry Pepper, from text written by author Mark Kriegel, a new hire by Showtime, to try and get their documercial closer to HBO in terms of quality of writing.

Part II review coming shortly…


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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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Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face



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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