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Memories of Tyson-McNeeley Still Amaze

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You had to have seen it to believe it. Maybe, if you were part of the insanely large, morbidly curious audience that bought into the unprecedented hype of the most fraudulent boxing match of all time, you actually did see it – and still can’t believe it.

By comparison, the recent mismatch that paired the vastly superior Danny Garcia against Rod Salka was almost a re-creation of Ali-Frazier I or III.

Aug. 19 marks the 19th anniversary of the circus-like atmosphere that hung thick in the desert air in the summer of 1995 when Mike Tyson, fighting for the first time in 50 months following his three-year conviction for rape, squared off against a totally fabricated “contender” named Peter McNeeley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It was the ultimate verification of the old P.T. Barnum dictum that there’s a sucker born every minute, that there really is a bull market for gullible sorts willing, even eager, to part with sizable sums of their money in exchange for bogus deeds to the Brooklyn Bridge or worthless swamp land in Florida.

Chew on these numbers for a while and you can’t help but shake your head in amazement:

*Because the most optimistic of Showtime Pay-Per-View projections were met, Tyson, who was guaranteed a minimum of $25 million, came away with a then-record $36 million for his night’s work, which lasted all of 89 seconds. That breaks down to a payout of $404,494.38 per second.

*McNeeley, on the other hand, received $540,000 for the privilege of offering himself up as a human sacrifice. Going into the Tyson bout, the 25-year-old known as the “Irish Hurricane” sported a spiffy 36-1 record with 30 wins inside the distance, which gained him a sheen of legitimacy in the form of a No. 7 ranking from the shameless WBA. But McNeeley’s opponents up to that point had lost a staggering 449 fights, and his previous ring appearance, on April 22, 1995, had resulted in a one-round stoppage of Frankie Hines in Hot Springs, Ark. McNeeley reportedly was paid $190 (no, that is not a misprint) for that fight, which came against a career fall-down guy who had lost 10 straight and 39 of 40 before taking on Tyson’s comeback partner, on the way to a final career mark of 17-120-5 with 78 defeats inside the distance.

*Only three of the 37 fighters McNeeley had mixed it up with on the road to Tyson – the immortal trio of Ron Drinkwater, Stanley Wright and J.B. Williamson — had so much as a winning record at the time they threw down with the Medford, Mass., resident.

*The $1,500 ringside seats were filled (among the celebrity attendees: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eddie Murphy, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Michael Jackson, Kevin Costner, Jim Carrey, Luke Perry, Axl Rose, Denzel Washington, Tim Allen, Shaquille O’Neal, Don Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) as part of a sellout crowd of 16,736, which did not include some 1,500 credentialed media members from around the world.

*The fight was televised to 90 countries on six continents. Somehow, Antarctica missed out on the big show.

*Following his final bout, a first-round TKO loss to Mike Bernardo on June 8, 2001, in Cape Town, South Africa, McNeeley retired with a still-impressive 47-7 record that included 36 wins by KO. But one of those defeats, on June 26, 1999, was a first-round blowout by boxing’s favorite fatty, 311-pound Eric “Butterbean” Esch (who would later fight as high as 426½), at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay, on the undercard of a show headlined by Paulie Ayala’s unanimous-decision dethronement of WBA bantamweight champion Johnny Tapia. It is a testament to how far McNeeley had fallen from semi-legitimacy that he went off as an 8-1 underdog to The Bean after having been just a 13-1 longshot against Tyson.

*So much of a running national joke had McNeeley become after the Tyson debacle that, shortly after Peter the Not So Great’s one-round disqualification (brought about when his Damon Runyonesque manager-trainer, Vinny Vecchione, entered the ring and wrapped his arms around his clearly buzzed and twice-floored fighter), he appeared in a commercial for Pizza Hut in which he again was sent crashing to the canvas – by a slice of pizza. As McNeeley lay on his back, his vision fuzzy in accordance with the script, Vecchione stands over him waving some of that stuffed-crust cheese and pepperoni pie in his face and asking, “Hey, McNeeley, how many slices am I holding?”

As long as there is a profit to be made from continued humiliation, why not offer up another piece of your dignity on the altar of financial expediency?

“My first reaction was, uh, kind of negative,” McNeeley at the time said of the endorsement deal that he at first was hesitant to accept. “You wonder how the public is going to perceive you. But then I thought about it a while and decided, what the heck. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?”

Actually, there is. The biggest headlines McNeeley, now 45, has generated in recent years stem from his occasional brushes with the law. His Tyson windfall vanished and by now a victim of the sort of alcohol-related problems that had taken a toll on his father, former heavyweight title challenger Tom McNeeley, Peter in November 1995 was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon (his fists) following an altercation with a Boston bar patron and, in June 2006, with serving as the driver of the getaway car in a drug-store stickup that gained his armed passenger, Robert Perry, $180 in cash and a shoplifted fanny pack.

All of which leads to a still-perplexing question. If McNeeley was indeed the hapless oaf that he was depicted as then and now, how could his matchup with Tyson possibly have commanded such widespread interest? In a sport where false prophets appear with some regularity, particularly in the heavyweight division – think Primo Carnera, Duane Bobick, Michael Grant and, for now at least, we’re keeping an eye on you, Deontay Wilder – McNeeley stands alone as the falsest of the false.

The answer, of course, is that McNeeley was merely there to be used and promptly disposed of, a prop necessary to again fan the flames of fixation attendant to Tyson’s return to the ring after an extended period. A presumably rusted Iron Mike needed somebody to beat up, and his handlers were justifiably hesitant to put him in with a truly dangerous rival. Thus was the door opened for McNeeley, with his artificially inflated record against crushed tomato cans and the good fortune of being the offspring of his kind-of-prominent dad, who was 23-0 when he squared off against heavyweight champ Floyd Patterson on Dec. 4, 1961, in Toronto. That the elder McNeeley, who was 74 when he passed away in 2011, had officially gone down 11 times in a four-round TKO loss only added to whatever mystique his son brought to the equation. Could Peter last longer against Tyson than Tom had against Patterson?

“The stories about the fight said I went down nine or 10 times,” Tom McNeeley said long after his courageous but hopeless bid to unseat Patterson. “The writers were being nice to me. I have the film. It was more like 12 or 13.”

Few writers were willing to give Peter McNeeley anywhere near as much benefit of the doubt as their predecessors had accorded his pop. This was to be a ritualistic execution inside the ropes. How could it be anything else? Everyone had to know how it would end, probably including Vecchione, who had turned down decent-paying bouts for McNeeley with, among others, Tommy Morrison, Andrew Golota, Joe Hipp and King Ipitan in the hope that a really big bonanza might be had by waiting. Then along came Don King, Tyson’s hyperbolic promoter, extending that golden lottery ticket.

The only one apparently not in on the scheme was McNeeley himself, who figured all those knockouts, even if they had come against nobodies, had to mean he had at least a chance to shock the world.

“I have good stats,” McNeeley reasoned when an army of media critics rose up to denounce him as unworthy. “I deserve this shot.”

His second-generation family status notwithstanding, McNeeley benefited greatly from the legerdemain of Vecchione, a cigar-chomping, old-school type who had packaged his fighter as better – very much better– than his actual accomplishments might have suggested. After the Tyson fight was scheduled, Vecchione regaled listeners with tales of McNeeley’s bottomless well of untapped potential.

“It took about 25 seconds for me to know that he had tremendous punching power and a killer instinct,” Vecchione said, rhapsodizing about his first glimpse at the then-20-year-old McNeeley. “This was a mean, vicious kid in the ring. He was the best heavyweight prospect I’d ever seen. Literally nobody believed me, but I knew from all the knowledge I had from Sam Silverman (who had been Vecchione’s boxing guru) I could do something with this kid.”

Whether Vecchione was spinning a tall tale or actually believed what he was dishing out, the media, many of whom have a fondness for cartoonish characters, ate it up. And when you added Vecchione to a promotional venture that also included that master of malaprops, King, there at least was a likelihood that the press conferences would be more entertaining than the fight.

In the frenzied lead-up to Tyson-McNeeley, King, Vecchione and the “Irish Hurricane” played their parts to perfection. Tyson said less than the other principals, in no small part because he wasn’t around much until fight night. But he did offer these chilling words to a small group of writers a few days before the opening bell, saying, with no hint of bemusement, that “I’m going to kill Peter McNeeley, God willing.”

King, at the final press conference two days before the bout, launched into another stream-of-consciousness delivery that touched on, among others, General George Armstrong Custer, John Quincy Adams and Robin Hood. Boxing’s Theater of the Absurd never seemed quite so ridiculous.

“A lot of people have fought opponents with lesser records, but few have fought lesser opponents with greater skill,” King harrumphed in referring to the D-list of pugs McNeeley had vanquished.

Of what paying customers could expect, King noted that “This is no longer a fight, it’s a happening. It’s so big, even I don’t know how big it is. But it’s huge. There hasn’t been anything like it in the history of mankind. You got 1.3 billion people in China who are going to be watching this fight. You got 900 million in India, and I don’t know how many in Russia. Everybody wants to see the great Mike Tyson back in action. They want to see if he’s as good as he ever was, or better.”

Vecchione chimed in with his opinion that “(McNeeley) has a hell of a chance against Tyson. Think about it: Within 30 seconds, somebody’s probably going to be down. If I were Mike Tyson, I wouldn’t have taken this fight the first time out – and who knows more about picking opponents than I do?”

Clearly enjoying his 15 minutes of fame, McNeeley uttered the words that would prove to be the most memorable of his career: “ I’m Peter McNeeley, from Medford, Mass, and I’m here to kick Mike Tyson’s ass.”

At least McNeeley wasn’t the only one who thought that he would do just that. A Las Vegas woman, a medium or spiritualist or some such delver into the occult, said she did not know anything about boxing, but the stars or the tea leaves had informed her that Tyson would go down in four rounds. The media dutifully took note, for amusement purposes only.

But hardly anyone else was buying into the premise that McNeeley would or could hang with a 29-year-old Tyson even if his skills had atrophied during his incarceration. Among the most vocal of skeptics was Rock Newman, manager of Riddick Bowe, who told the press corps he once had considered inviting McNeeley to serve as a sparring partner for his fighter after he had finished getting tuned up by Tyson.

“I was kicking around the idea a little bit,” Newman recalled. “I thought it might be kind of a fun thing, that it might create a stir. But I’m not even going to extend an invitation. McNeeley is so incredibly horrible. I mean, just awful. This guy is so bad, he even makes Frans Botha look good by comparison. There is no way he could give Bowe any kind of decent work in the gym.”

All that remains was for the inevitable ending to be recorded for historical purposes. To his credit, McNeeley did exactly what Vecchione had said he would do. He went right at Tyson, and somebody did go down within the first 30 seconds. It was, of course, McNeeley, who was decked by an overhand right after just seven elapsed seconds. But McNeeley beat the count, and momentarily succeeded in bull-rushing Tyson to the ropes, throwing wide, loaded-up haymakers in the hope of getting lucky.

Didn’t happen. A second knockdown quickly followed as Tyson connected with a pair of left hooks, neither of which landed flush, and a ripping overhand right, which did. Again, McNeeley arose, on spaghetti legs, causing referee Mills Lane to lean forward, ready to stop it as soon as Tyson nailed him again. But Vecchione removed that decision from Lane, entering the ring and offering himself as a human towel-toss. The joke of a fight went into the books as a disqualification, and thus was provided its expected punch line.

“It’s not an outrage,” King said of the unsatisfying conclusion. “The people might be disappointed that the manager jumped into the ring, but they can’t say they didn’t get their money’s worth. We had quite a spectacle this evening. No one can say Peter McNeeley didn’t come to fight. We saw a terrific altercation for the time that it lasted.”

In explaining his intervention, Vecchione said that “I remember Jimmy Garcia and Gerald McClellan,” a reference to one fighter who died as a result of injuries sustained in a bout (Garcia) and another who was rendered blind and brain-damaged (McClellan) in another scrap that went horribly wrong. “The important thing is that this kid’s 26 years old. He’s going to continue to fight. He gave you 100 percent effort. If I made a judgment and have to live with that judgment, so be it. As far as I’m concerned, I did the right thing by my fighter.”

McNeeley did continue to fight, against more of the soft touches he had gone against earlier. Only now, those touches weren’t quite so plump and cushiony. In his first post-Tyson bout, on Oct. 27, 1995, McNeeley took on Mike Sam for something called the U.S. Boxing Federation title, in Boston’s FleetCenter. And although he knocked out Sam in two rounds, he did so against a 37-year-old guy who had fought just once in the previous 10 years, that outing resulting in a second-round TKO loss. The beatdowns by that slice of pizza and Butterbean were to follow.

Vecchione fared better, at least temporarily, as he was voted Manager of the Year for 1995 by the Boxing Writers Association of America for his improbable feat of taking the limited likes of Peter McNeeley to a 36-1 record and a mid-six-figure jackpot against Tyson. But there would be no more pieces of pugilistic coal like McNeeley for Vecchione to transform into cubic zirconia; he was 64 when he died of a heart attack on July 2, 2009. Like McNeeley, ”Double-V” would prove to be something of a one-hit wonder.

Yet the true takeaway of Tyson-McNeely has little or nothing to do with McNeely and Vecchione. They were bit players on a stage dedicated to a larger purpose. In retrospect, the quickie destruction of McNeeley marked the beginning of the end of the Mike Tyson that fight fans once regarded with a sense of wonderment. Some will insist the swinging of the pendulum in the opposite direction actually began on Feb. 11, 1990, with his stunning, 10th-round knockout loss to Buster Douglas in Tokyo, and there is some validity to that. But the Douglas who fought Tyson, even if it was a diminished Tyson, would have beaten a lot of good heavyweights that day. Before or after, Buster was never nearly as sharp or well-conditioned as he was in turning in his career-best performance.

What the fight with McNeely demonstrated was that the public still had an insatiable curiosity about Tyson, who might have been described as an odd mixture of O.J. Simpson, Nelson Mandela, Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali. Depending on one’s viewpoint, he was a high-profile criminal defendant, a political prisoner, a subject of outlandish tabloid rumors or the world’s most recognizable boxer returning after a long and enforced exile. Love him or hate him, it was still impossible to ignore him. And yet …

The fact that Tyson’s handlers felt obliged to put him in with a gimme opponent like McNeeley in his much-anticipated comeback bout now stands as evidence that there were hints, which would become increasingly obvious, that the former “baddest man on the planet” was a fast-emptying vessel. What started with McNeeley would morph into defeats at the hands of Evander Holyfield (twice) and Lennox Lewis, which weren’t upsets, and then into shocking losses to Danny Williams and, finally, Kevin McBride, who at best rate as small sniffs ahead of McNeely on the smell-o-meter.

Then-WBO heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, doing commentary for German television for Tyson-Julius Francis on Jan. 29, 2005, saw enough in those 89 seconds five-plus years earlier to convince him that the beast that Michael Gerard Tyson had been was no more and probably never could be again.

“He still has a lot of power,” Klitschko said in assessing what remained of Tyson. “But I saw a lot of his earlier fights, and he’s not at all as sharp as he once was. It’s pretty obvious Tyson is looking for easy money against easy opponents.”

For both Tyson and McNeely, the old saying did indeed hold true: Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

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Three Punch Combo: Jacobs-Derevyanchenko on HBO, Baranchyk-Yigit and More

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This Saturday, Daniel Jacobs (34-2, 29 KO’s) takes on Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KO’s) for the vacant IBF middleweight title. The fight, which headlines an HBO World Championship Boxing tripleheader, is highly anticipated in boxing circles as on paper it is an evenly matched contest with a wide range of potential outcomes. The fight also bears an eerie resemblance to another middleweight title fight from more than twenty years ago.

On March 16th, 1996, then IBF middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins (28-2-1, 21 KO’s) faced off against the IBF’s number one ranked contender in Joe Lipsey (25-0, 20 KO’s). Opinions were split as to who would come out as the victor. It was televised live in the United States on ABC in the afternoon and served as a precursor for that evening’s big pay-per-view event between Mike Tyson and Frank Bruno.

Hopkins, 31 at the time, had fought much better opposition and those who favored him thought his experience along with his better athleticism would lead him to victory. Lipsey, who was 29, had a burgeoning reputation in the fight game and was known for his relentless pressure style. In addition, he had displayed devastating one punch knockout power in both hands that had many thinking he had a bright future in the sport.

It was the experience and ring savviness of Hopkins versus the untapped raw potential of Lipsey.

As it played out, Hopkins’ skill proved too much for Lipsey. After effectively out-boxing and neutralizing the aggression of Lipsey for three rounds, Hopkins landed a perfectly placed counter right uppercut using Lipsey’s forward momentum against him that instantly ended matters. It was a statement making performance for Hopkins.

Jacobs, 31, is in a similar spot to that of Hopkins when he faced Lipsey. With two losses on his ledger, Jacobs is in need of a statement making victory. One of those losses was to Gennady Golovkin and, of course, Hopkins entered the Lipsey contest with one of his losses to all-time great Roy Jones Jr.

Jacobs holds a significant experience edge in the pro game compared to that of Derevyanchenko. Jacobs is also the more athletic fighter. Similar to that of Hopkins against Lipsey, Jacobs will look to play the role of the boxer-puncher and use his experience along with athleticism to dictate the tempo of the fight.

Derevyanchenko, 32, comes in highly touted. Similar to Joe Lipsey in 1996, he enters with an undefeated record along with a glossy knockout percentage and many in the sport see a fighter with raw untapped potential.

The similarities between Jacobs-Derevyanchenko and Hopkins-Lipsey are striking. Will history repeat itself or will Derevyanchenko be able to rise to the occasion?

Baranchyk-Yigit

The World Boxing Super Series 140-pound tournament resumes this week with a pair of fights in New Orleans. While the fans will be mostly showing up to watch the main event between hometown rising star Regis Prograis (22-0, 19 KO’s) and Terry Flanagan (33-1, 13 KO’s), it is the other WBSS fight, pitting Ivan Baranchyk against Anthony Yigit for the vacant IBF title that piques my interest.

Baranchyk (18-0, 11 KOs) is well known to US fight fans from his multiple appearances on the ShoBox series on Showtime on which he has scored some highlight reel knockouts. He is an aggressive pressure fighter with heavy handed power. He has been showing signs of improved boxing skills of late and is coming off a career best performance in knocking out former world title challenger Petr Petrov.

Yigit (21-0-1, 7 KOs) is a former decorated amateur who participated in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. A southpaw with quick feet and good hand speed, Yigit is an excellent counterpuncher who is adept at using feints to bait his opponents to throw to set up counter opportunities. He is also very slick and uses good head movement, making him not an easy target to hit.

This is a classic matchup of an aggressive pressure fighter against a skilled slick boxer. Baranchyk has the buzz and will be favored, but Yigit’s style and skill could present a major challenge for him. It’s a very compelling fight,.

The Journey of Yuandale Evans

On April 24th, 2010 I hit the road to attend a club show in a suburb of Cleveland. I wanted to get a firsthand look at a local fighter named Yuandale Evans who was headlining the 6-fight card. The venue was a small indoor soccer complex and tickets were only $20. There was no assigned seating and I had no problem finding a ringside seat for the evening’s festivities.

Evans did not disappoint. Fighting in front of the sparse audience, he dispatched an opponent named Reymundo Hernandez in the first round. I liked what I saw from Evans and thought he had a bright future in boxing.

A year later, Evans found himself on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fight Series in a step-up fight against veteran Emmanuel Lucero. This was a coming out party for Evans as he impressively took apart the former world title challenger. There was speed, athleticism and power in his game and many took notice.

Nine months later, Evans found himself in a significant fight. It was another date on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fight Series but this time against a fellow undefeated fighter in Javier Fortuna. Fortuna had been getting a lot of buzz and if Evans could defeat him then he’d find himself on the brink of a world title opportunity.

But the Fortuna fight did not go well for Evans. As a matter of fact, it was disastrous.  Fortuna scored a vicious, highlight reel first round knockout, the kind of knockout loss that many fighters never recover from.

It appeared for a while that Evans would not get back in the game. Out for three years, he finally returned in 2015 with two wins against less than stellar competition. These wins were needed confidence boosters.

After those bounce back wins, it took another 17 months for Evans to return to the ring. This time, in his first major test since the Fortuna loss, he faced Billel Dib. Brought in as the “B” side, Evans was supposed to be a name on the resume for Dib, but he flipped the script, scoring a clear ten round unanimous decision.

The win against Dib, which took place in the 130-pound division, put Evans back on the radar. But it was his next performance that put him into contention. Dropping down to featherweight and again coming in as the underdog, he scored a rousing split decision win against Louis Rosa in November of 2017 in a fiercely fought contest that received Fight of the Year consideration. Evans fought with passion and determination to secure the best win of his career.

Evans, now 20-1 with 14 KO’s, will challenge undefeated 130-pound world title holder Alberto Machado next week. Evans is once again an underdog. Not many are giving him much of a chance. But if Evans fights like he did against Rosa and can stay inside on Machado, applying constant pressure, we could be in for another surprise.

Evans has come a long way since I first saw him fight at a small indoor soccer venue in Ohio and I for one do not discount his chances to lift Machado’s world title belt.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

 

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Andrade Grabs Vacant WBO Middleweight Belt in Boston

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TD GARDEN​​ — It’s a good thing Eddie Hearn didn’t listen to the people who told him not to promote prizefighting in Boston. With all four major American sports in full swing in the city, Matchroom Boxing absolutely rocked the house as an equitable fan attraction in New England.The media was out in full force and so were the fans. At the final fight week press conference, Hearn introduced ESPN’s Dan Rafael before he even barked for his boxers. “You know it’s a big card when Dan Rafael shows up,” he said of the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer award winner for career excellence in journalism. Hearn knows it’s about building hype and that’s what he’s doing.

Sugar Ray Leonard was on the mic for DAZN. Paulie Malignaggi was doing the same for Sky Sports. I saw Micky Ward and Conor McGregor seated at ringside. Mike Tyson conqueror Kevin “The Clones Colossus” McBride was also spotted in the mix throughout the night.

“We did about five thousand in Chicago,” Hearn told me of his first Matchoom USA show October 6 on DAZN. Hearn expected about seven thousand for Boston, hoping for a good walk-up crowd. “I’m pleased with ticket sales. I’m pleased with the venue. If the fans are happy and enjoy a great night at the fights and if they want us back, we’d love to return,” he said.

Hearn’s originally scheduled main event fell apart in September when Billy Joe Saunders controversially failed VADA drug testing for the banned stimulant oxilofrine. “Unfortunately Billy Joe failed a drug test. I don’t think the Massachusetts Commission had any choice in denying him a license,” Hearn told me during the final fight week press conference at Fenway Park.

Saunders was to defend the WBO middleweight title against Providence, Rhode Island’s Demetrius Andrade. Instead, Saunders was stripped of his strap and unknown African champ Walter ​Kautondokwa stepped in to face Andrade for the vacant WBO 160 pound title. “I’m too old to fight nobodies now,” said the 30 year-old Andrade without a trace of irony. In fact, Andrade’s whole pro career has been carefully built on soft touches and vacant ABC championships.

Hearn’s undercard also suffered a hit when popular local junior welterweight Danny “BHOY” O’Connor pulled out of his bout against Tommy Coyle, citing injury. According to Hearn, “​O’Connor was working very hard in camp but I don’t think it was going particularly well.”

The live crowd in attendance at the Garden was loud and enthusiastic. In a full sized entertainment venue that seats close to twenty thousand fans and with promotional aspirations optimistically set at half that number (official attendance was listed at 6,874), your best chance to have seen these fights for yourself was on the emerging and effective streaming app DAZN.

For Brits stuck back home it was on Sky Sports.  For everybody else, I’m here to ringside report.

In the Main Event for the vacant WBO middleweight championship, Providence, Rhode Island’s Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade, 30, 160, 26-0 (16) dominated Namibian import Walter Kautondokwa, 33, 17-1 (16). ​A stablemate of former super lightweight champ Julius Indongo, Kautondokwa drew inspiration from his countryman’s international accomplishments in boxing. Indongo parlayed the WBO African title into an eventual unification showdown with Terence Crawford in Nebraska. “He’s definitely not stopping this train,” promised Andrade at the weigh-in.

He was right.

In the first round, ​Kautondokwa slipped to the canvas and Andrade hit him on the chin while he was on all fours. Referee Steve Willis ruled it a knockdown, rather than reacting to the foul. Kautondokwa pushed the action in the second but Andrade scored with the cleaner punches. In the third, Andrade scored a clean knockdown with a flush left hand to the chin. The challenger rose and answered the bell for the fourth down by two extra points. Kautondokwa went down again twice more in the fourth leaving Andrade with a look like, “What more do I have to do?”

As the rounds wore on and on, Andrade found the answer to be elusive, even if Kautondokwa wasn’t terribly so. His best power punches were either missing or being blocked, and Kautondokwa was proving durable. By the championship rounds, it was clear that Andrade wouldn’t be able to stop the train that was Kautondokwa. The energy in the live crowd suffered accordingly. Michael Buffer announced what was already known, that Andrade won a virtual shutout on the cards.  Scores were 120-104(2x) and 119-105.

“I did what I had to do. I could see that he was tough. It was good to get those twelve rounds in because I’ve been inactive,” said Andrade at the post-fight press conference. He also spoke of a fight week injury to his left shoulder that affected his performance and prevented a knockout. To be perfectly honest, it sounded like an excuse for not finishing off a badly hurt fighter.

In her de facto Irish Homecoming, Katie Taylor, 32, Bray, 11-0 (5) successfully defended her WBA/IBF female lightweight titles against the very experienced Cindy Serrano, 36, Brooklyn, 27-6-3 (10), over ten two-minute rounds. Serrano was moving up in weight to challenge Taylor, who’s already made two title defenses this year in London and in Brooklyn. Serrano was never in danger of being hurt or knocked out and Taylor was never in any danger of losing the fight.  Taylor won every round on all three cards 100-90.  “Cindy was just in there to survive,” said a disappointed Taylor.  Some fans jeered the “action” but it didn’t bother Serrano. “Eddie Hearn believes in female fighting. Hopefully he can turn it around and we can get a couple more promoters just like him.”

To make the first defense of his newly won IBF super featherweight championship, Philly southpaw Tevin “American Idol” Farmer, 27-4-1 (6), stopped Belfast KRONK’s James Tennyson, 22-3 (18) in five. During promotion for the title bout, it looked for all to see that Farmer was overlooking Tennyson with his focus squarely on a big money grudge match with Gervonta Davis. ​“I’m not overlooking James but I want to fight Tank Davis. I have to have that fight and it’s got to happen. Let’s leave the streets on the streets and fight in the ring. We’ve talked enough.”

In the ring, Farmer looked at his opponent and punched right through him. In the fourth frame, Farmer dropped Tennyson with a solid left hook to the body. It got no better for the Belfast native. The next round, Arthur Mercante stopped it when Tennyson fell again from body shots. ​In accepting the fight, Farmer’s promoter Lou DiBella didn’t want to deny his fighter the opportunity to appear on such a high profile card so he willingly worked with Hearn to make it happen.  Time of the TKO was @1:44 of the round 5.

In an IBF featherweight elimination bout scheduled for twelve, Evander Holyfield’s Toka Kahn Clary, Providence, R.I., 25-3 (17), dropped a pedestrian UD to Ingle Gym’s Kid Galahad, Sheffield, 25-0 (15). At the press conference in August to announce the match-up, there was bad blood in the air. “Toka is a bum,” a chippy Galahad told me at Boston’s Faneuil Hall. “He didn’t want this fight. He was talking trash so I called him a wanker and it got a little out of hand.”

“I’m gonna beat him,” Galahad promised.

At the final press conference, Galahad was demonstrably more peaceful. During the media face-off with Kahn, he offered his hand to shake but Toka just left it hanging there. “I’ve calmed down,” Kid told me. “Nothing personal, just business.” ​Is Toka a bum?​ “You can’t call him a bum.” ​You did Kid.​ “I might have gone over the top. Any fighter that gets in the ring you gotta have some respect for. Toka is gonna show up and my job is to make sure I do a job on him.”  Job well done, Kid.  Final scores were 118-110 twice and 115-113.

In an entertaining ten round junior welterweight scrap, Tommy “Boom Boom” Coyle, Hull, Yorkshire, U.K., 25-4 (12), outpointed Ryan Kielczweski, Quincy, Mass, 29-4 (11) over the distance. Unanimous scores were 99-90, 98-91 and 96-93. The “Polish Prince” substituted for Danny O’Connor against Coyle, a fighter TSS’s own Ted Sares expected Ryan to have had his hands full with in a knockout loss; describing Coyle as a “load” in the ring. In the seventh round, Kielczweski was felled by a massive right hand to the body and a vicious follow up left hook to the head. He took a long nine count but got up to then stalk a fading Coyle down the stretch.  “This is the most ready I’ve been for any fight,” Kielczweski told me before the bout. “I fought in September. A week later I got a call for this one so it’s like I’m on a ten week training camp.”

Coyle is a pressure fighter and an interesting character. Kielczweski struggled to keep him at bay but landed with several quality power shots of his own, many coming in the last three rounds—after the knockdown. Calling this his “American Dream” come true, Coyle grew up in England loving ROCKY movies and Irish Micky Ward fights. Tonight, he was almost in one.

In a super featherweight comeback bout, former super bantamweight and featherweight champion Scott Quigg, 30, Bury, U.K., 35-2-2 (26) made a successful return against journeyman Mexican Mario Briones, 29-8-2 (21), stopping him in two rounds with an unanswered three punch combination along the ropes. Trained by Freddie Roach, Quigg was defeated last March by WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez in a bruising non-title bout. Quigg suffered multiple facial laceration and a broken nose in the unanimous decision loss. “I want a rematch with Valdez and with Carl Frampton because I want to avenge my losses. If I’d be happy not fighting them again, I’d be in the wrong game,” a candid Quigg told me. “The work Freddie’s had me doing and the sparring I’m on, I feel like I’m a ten times better fighter now.”

In a junior middleweight rematch, Murphys Boxing U.S. Marine Mark “Bazooka” DeLuca, Whitman, Mass, 22-1 (13) outgunned Walter “2 Guns” Wright 37, Seattle, Washington 17-5 (8) to defeat the only man to have beaten him as a pro, winning 97-93, and 96-94 twice. From ringside I scored it 6-4 in rounds for DeLuca who scored well early with left hooks. Wright did well in the middle rounds on the inside when DeLuca was tiring but it wasn’t enough. Though his promoter Ken Casey questioned the outcome of the first fight last June in N.H., DeLuca told me it was tight. “But he got me,” he admitted. Wright didn’t understand the manufactured controversy. “I won. To come across the country, fight the local guy, and beat him, I should think I’d get my props for winning. My performance should outweigh politics.” On this night, Wright’s good but not good enough performance earned him an appropriately scored unanimous decision loss.

There was no protest from Wright with the verdict.

UNDERCARD RESULTS:

In the show opener, super lightweight southpaw Sean McComb from Belfast improved to 4-0 (3), outclassing 37 year-old Peruvian Carlos Galindo, 1-6. Galindo’s only win came against Maine’s Brandon Berry last June in N.H. This was McComb’s first appearance outside the U.K. Galindo took a body beating and the fight was stopped in the third after a pair of knockdowns.

Accompanied to the ring by middleweight corker Spike O’Sullivan, Murphys Boxing’s Gorey, Ireland heavyweight Niall Kennedy 221.6, 12-0-1 (7) took a few to give a few against New Jersey’s Brendan Barrett 238, 7-1-2 (5), including a hip-toss and a headlock. The 6’3” Kennedy used his good left jab and strong right cross to earn a unanimous six round decision, dropping the stocky Barrett in the fifth with a brutal right hand. Official scores: 60-53 twice and 58-55.

Kazakh Olympic Gold medalist welterweight prospect Daniyar Yeleussinov improved to 4-0 (2) against Salem, Mass “Mantis” Matt Doherty, 8-6-1 (4). Doherty wore a J.D. Martinez Red Sox jersey to the ring but he was outgunned. The 27 year-old southpaw finished Doherty off with a barrage of unanswered punches in the first round and referee Arthur Mercante waved a halt.

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Rob Brant is the New WBA Middleweight Champion

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LAS VEGAS, Nevada- In a major upset that saw a mega fight disappear, Rob Brant took the WBA middleweight title from Japan’s Ryota Murata with a lot of hustle and a heck of a chin to the surprise of many on Saturday.

Murata (14-2,11KOs) was expected to fight Gennady “GGG” Golovkin if he won, but the dress rehearsal turned into a nightmare as Brant (24-1, 16 KOs) attacked and attacked while out-punching the Japanese fighter nearly two to one in front of a stunned audience of more than 2700 at the Park Theater at the MGM.

“This was one of the best moments of my life, said Brant. “I wasn’t thinking of punch output. I was thinking about winning.”

With many planning their trips to Tokyo for an expected showdown between Murata and Golovkin, the Las Vegas based Brant put a stick into the spokes of their travel plans.

Brant started quickly with combination punching and moving in and out of range during the first three rounds of the middleweight bout. Murata smiled throughout the incoming blows from the upstart Brant.

“It’s easy to smile, but his eyes were swollen and he had blood on his mouthpiece,” said Brant.

It wasn’t until the fourth round that Murata found life while attacking the body.

The body punches opened up the lead right cross for Murata, who began targeting Brant’s head. But the Minnesota native was able to absorb the big blows and kept firing back. Though Brant was landing more shots, Murata’s punches were clearly harder and landed with a thud.

The crowd got into the fight early as cheers of “USA! USA!” were shouted sporadically throughout the fight. It probably had an effect on the judges.

It seemed Murata was landing the more effective blows in the middle rounds, especially when he targeted the body, then switched to the head. But though they were hard punches, Brant moved backward and kept returning fire.

The action was measured, but constant, with no slow rounds after round three. At times it looked like Murata was about to score a knockout but it never came. Brant proved resilient. More than that, he convinced the three judges he was the winner 119-109(2x) and 118-110.

Only the widespread scores were surprising. It seemed like a much closer fight.

Dudashev prevails

Maxim Dudashev (12-0, 10 KOs) tried to blast it out with Mexico’s Antonio DeMarco (33-7-1, 24 KOs), but after taking heavy incoming fire, the undefeated super lightweight changed tactics and out-boxed the former world champion to win by unanimous decision.

Dudashev moved around just enough and used quick short combinations to out-score the long-armed Tijuana fighter after the midway point of the 10-round affair. Though DeMarco was able to score with heavy body shots  and lead lefts to the head, Dudashev managed to fire off combinations that kept winning rounds in the second half of the fight. The judges scored the fight 97-93, 96-94, 98-92 for Dudashev. TheSweetScience.com scored it 96-94 for Dudashev, who keeps the NABF super lightweight title.

“This was a great learning experience for me,” said Dudashev. “DeMarco is a true champion, and he fought with great heart and determination.”

Falcao and other bouts

Brazil’s Esquiva Falcao (22-0, 15 KOs) showcased his various boxing skills against Argentina’s Guido Pitto (25-6-2, 8 KOs) who lost by unanimous decision but forced the undefeated fighter into various situations. In the first four rounds, Falcao fought from the outside with impunity as Pitto was unable to touch the Brazilian. But when the Argentine boxer took the fight inside, he found more success and forced Falcao to utilize his inside boxing skills. The fighting was intense but Falcao was just too strong and slightly quicker in winning every round in the 10 round middleweight fight. Pitto’s best moments came during the fifth round when he forced his way inside. All three judges saw it 100-90 for Falcao.

Ireland’s Michael Conlan (9-0, 6 KOs) battered Nicola Cipolletta (14-7-2) every round with rights to the body and head. The Italian boxer rarely fired back and after several unanswered blows by Cipolletta the referee Russell Mora stopped the featherweight fight @1:55 of round seven. Cipolletta protested the stoppage but never truly engaged Conlan, who must have connected on more than 60 percent of his punches thrown. It was a whitewash for the former Irish Olympian.

Vladimir Nikitin (2-0) won by unanimous decision over Louisiana’s Clay Burns (5-5-2) in a featherweight fight that was much closer than the scores given. Burns started out fast and easily won the first two rounds. Then the battle got much closer as Nikitin’s overhand rights began scoring. Burns switched to southpaw and switched back and forth and that gave Nikitin pause. The last two rounds were very close especially the final round. But all three judges scored it 59-55 for Nikitin, thus only giving Burns one round. It was much closer in reality.

A battle between undefeated Puerto Rican lightweights saw Joseph Adorno (10-0, 9 KOs) drop Kevin Cruz (8-1, 5 KOs) twice in winning by unanimous decision. Though Adorno’s knockout streak was snapped, he engaged in a spirited battle against left-handed Cruz who let loose in the sixth and final round. A counter left hook by Adorno floored Cruz the second time during a furious exchange. Cruz beat the count and tried his best to go for the knockout; Adorno scooted away until the final bell. Scores of 59-53(2x) and 58-54 for Adorno.

Adam Lopez (11-1, 5 KOs) won by knockout over Hector Ambriz (12-8-2) in a featherweight match. The end came @1:29 of the eighth and final round of the fight when Lopez fired a four punch combination that forced referee Tony Weeks to halt the fight though Ambriz was still standing.

Uzbekistan’s Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (6-0, 3 KOs) stopped veteran Wilberth Lopez (23-10, 15 KOs) with a series of body blows @2:13 of round two in a super lightweight contest between lefties.

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