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A Tribute To Ed Derian…Derian

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Most fight fans didn’t know his real name, which is just as well because they probably wouldn’t have been able to spell or pronounce it in any case. So the man with the velvety-smooth tones who came into this world as Setrha Ejdaharian — he was proud of his Armenian heritage, and never considered legally changing his name – chose to call himself Ed Derian for professional purposes.

For the better part of four decades, Ed Derian, who was 77 when he passed away on Sept. 26 at Kindred Hospital in Havertown, was the distinctive voice of Philadelphia boxing, the longest tenured and most cherished ring announcer to have graced local rings. But the reputation of this Philly-born son of Turkish immigrants extended throughout the nation and even the world, thanks to his inimitable style and the power of television.

“My dad was the announcer for the first ESPN boxing show, and the first televised fights from the casinos in Atlantic City,” recalled Derian’s only son, Deron Ejdaharian. “His real job was as an auto-parts salesman, but most people knew him for his work as a ring announcer, which never really seemed like a job to him. It was something he truly enjoyed. He was so proud to be associated with boxing.”

Derian’s first experience as an announcer came as the voice of Roller Games, which was popular in the Philadelphia area in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Frank Gelb, a longtime associate of Top Rank founder Bob Arum who staged many of Top Rank’s fight cards on the East Coast, liked Derian’s work and recruited him to announce boxing matches in Atlantic City.

It was a pairing that clicked immediately, so much so that Philadelphia-based boxing promoter J Russell Peltz knew he wanted Derian to be the ring announcer for all his cards, many of which were beamed throughout the nation from the Blue Horizon in North Philly.

“In Pennsylvania, for a long time the promoter didn’t have the right to name the ring announcer,” Peltz recalled. “That person was always appointed by the (state athletic) commission. But I always wanted Eddie; nobody else was close to him. I tried to get him for every show I did. And when Atlantic City got the casinos and so much into boxing, he was the man. I think he did all the Top Rank shows on the East Coast for ESPN.”

Derian had his pet phrases, as most ring announcers now do, which Peltz did not always find as endearing as did audiences at the Blue Horizon and elsewhere. But Derian was who he was, and he stuck with what he knew and what he felt worked best for him.

I’m a traditionalist who likes to stick to the basics,” Peltz said. “I used to tell Eddie to cut down on the shtick. I’d say, `Eddie, guys don’t hit the scales. They weigh whatever they weigh. A fighter doesn’t hit the scales at 143 (pounds); he weighs 143. But that was part of Eddie’s style. He’d say, `This fine gentleman comes to us from —‘ Eddie was the ring announcer who started all that stuff.”

Jimmy Lennon Jr., the longtime ring announcer for Showtime Championship Boxing, is the son of a southern California announcing legend, Jimmy Lennon Sr. He counts himself as an admirer of Derian, who always entered the ring immaculately decked out in one of the several tuxedos he owned.

“I was certainly aware of his work and appreciated him very much,” said Lennon, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2013. “He was announcing during the time when I went to the next level of my interest in boxing, from watching it to watching my dad more carefully and then considering (announcing) myself. He had a unique style, where he would repeat the fighter’s name after saying it the first time. He was always fun to listen to.

“I did know him personally, but not well. A number of times our paths did cross. He was always very nice and always a gentleman. I wondered what happened when, rather suddenly, he was not seen as much.”

What happened is that Derian’s wife of 47 years, Roxy, died on Oct. 6, 2012, leaving a hole in her husband’s heart that never could be completely filled in. He also found it difficult to climb steps and enter the ring after having both hips surgically replaced. His right leg was amputated above the knee on Sept. 4, which served to accelerate his decline. But his physical health issues paled in comparison to his loss of mental acuity after he was diagnosed with dementia, which obliged Peltz to make the difficult decision to part ways, in a professional sense, with one of his dearest friends.

“Eddie was a wonderful guy, and I stuck with him probably longer than anybody until he just couldn’t do what he had always done so well,” Peltz said.

Charles Brewer, the former IBF super middleweight champion, said he and other fighters always enjoyed being introduced by Derian.

“Ed was a cool dude,” Brewer said. “He had this wry sense of humor, you know? I hadn’t seen or heard anything about him in a while, and now I know why. I had no idea he was that sick.”

By either name, Ejdaharian/Derian is survived by his son, Deron, and sisters Susie Ejdaharian and Anna Ejdaharian Karagelian. There will be a public viewing on Tuesday at St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church, 8701 Ridge Avenue in Philadelphia, from 10 to 11 a.m., followed by a memorial service at the same site and internment in Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill, Pa.

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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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Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar

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Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

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