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Hopkins Hoping To Avoid Bittersweet Taste of Stale Sugar

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Boxing writers are only human, so members of our curious fraternity perhaps can be excused for repeating certain mistakes, if for no other reason than force of habit. A lot of us appear ready to trudge down that potentially crooked path again as Saturday night’s HBO-televised light heavyweight unification bout between IBF/WBA champion Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 KOs) and WBO titlist Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (25-0-1, 23 KOs) in Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall nears.

Consider the poll of fight scribes taken by our veteran colleague, Jack Obermayer. Of 23 media types asked to predict the outcome of Hopkins-Kovalev, a slight majority, 12, went with ageless wonder Hopkins, who turns 50 on Jan. 15, to 11 votes for the much-younger (31), much harder-hitting Russian.

Among those who grappled with the improbable notion that B-Hop might again bridge the Grand Canyonesque age gap was yours truly. This is how I called it for KOJO: “Can’t believe I’m going to the well again. Hopkins has a history of success against big punchers who come forward and try to take his head off. Will Kovalev be the guy who finally hands it to him? No. Hopkins by decision.”

Hopkins has made me appear smart more often than not. Oh, sure, I whiffed badly in going with Kelly Pavlik in 2008, but I was spot-on (and definitely in the minority) when I picked Hopkins to not only defeat, but to stop Felix Trinidad in 2001. I also correctly predicted B-Hop victories against Joe Lipsey, Oscar De La Hoya, Winky Wright, Jean Pascal, Karo Murat and Beibut Shumenov. But, in addition to the miscall on his scrap with Pavlik, I stubbed my toe in going against Hopkins in his matchups with Chad Dawson, Antonio Tarver and Joe Calzaghe. Still, I figure my perhaps excessive confidence in the Philadelphia boxing master has me mostly on the plus side of the ledger.

Face it: Boxing writers, and quite a few fight fans, are enthralled by anyone who wears a robe of greatness, even when that robe begins to get a bit threadbare. There is a hesitancy to let go of the idea that a surefire Hall of Famer has regressed to the point where he no longer can routinely dial up past glories as if he were ordering takeout pizza. But that most relentless of opponents, Father Time, doesn’t always rush onto the scene while blaring a trumpet. He frequently sneaks up on even the best of the best on little cat’s paws, stealing bits and pieces of reflexes, mobility and punching power until even the most celebrated of fighters reveals that he is, finally, past the point of no return.

Not that it’s certain, or even likely, that a still-very-capable Hopkins will suddenly fall into that familiar trap, but it has begun to occur to me that Hopkins-Kovalev could turn out to be a repeat of the Feb. 9, 1991, pairing in Madison Square Garden of 23-year-old WBC super welterweight champion Terry Norris and the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard. The Sugar man was three months shy of his 35th birthday and hadn’t fought since scoring a unanimous decision over the even older Roberto Duran in their rubber match on Dec. 7, 1989.

The public, and the press, had grown accustomed to seeing Leonard – who had already retired and unretired three times – pick right back where he had left off, the most stirring example being his shocking split-decision nod over the heavily favored Marvelous Marvin Hagler on April 6, 1987. Few people expected Leonard to fare so well; he had not fought in three years and had answered an opening bell only twice in the preceding five years. Still, that Leonard was only 30, and a comparatively low-mileage 30, in terms of professional wear and tear.

An ascending Norris figured to be a different and maybe even tougher test at that stage of Leonard’s career, but, hey, there was a widespread school of thought that this was still Sugar Ray Leonard. And so those inclined to bet with their hearts instead of their heads sent the five-time former world champion off as a 12-5 favorite. I sort of rolled with the prevailing tide, predicting a Leonard victory via ninth-round technical knockout.

I wasn’t the only one to figure Leonard’s glorious past again would serve as prologue to future triumphs. Before the fight, Thomas Hearns said, “Ray wouldn’t have picked anyone he wasn’t certain he could beat. This kid Norris has no chance.”

Norris, for his part, felt he had a very good chance. In fact, he was absolutely convinced that the ghost of the Sugar Ray that had been wouldn’t be glimpsed that evening.

“Ray is a great fighter, or at least he was a great fighter,” Norris judged. “I know he has a big edge in experience in big fights, but you know what they say about youth being served.

“No matter what he does, no matter what he says, he can’t do anything about the difference in our ages. I’ve seen the tapes of Ray when he was at his best, and I’ve seen tapes of his last few fights. It should be obvious to anyone that the Ray Leonard of today is not the same fighter as the Ray Leonard of five, six years ago. I’m stronger than him. I’m faster. My endurance is greater. I can outbox him and I can outpunch him. Really, I don’t see any way how he can beat me.”

The bout, as it turned out, went exactly as Norris had imagined. He floored Leonard in the second and seventh rounds en route to a rout on the official scorecards, which read 120-104, 119-103 and 116-110.

At the postfight press conference, Norris was almost apologetic at having won so emphatically. “It’s a sad victory because of the way the fight ended,” he said. “Ray took a pretty bad beating, and that was sad for me. Ray was my idol … still is my idol. That’ll never change.”

During his turn at the podium, Leonard announced his fourth retirement from the ring. But it would not be the one that stuck.

“I don’t listen to anyone but myself, so I had to find out for myself,” he said of his decision to test himself against the hot young kid whose attributes closely mirrored that his decade-younger self. “I’ve always been a risk-taker, and tonight I took a risk that didn’t pan out for me. This fight showed me it’s time to move on.”

Sugar Ray moved on from boxing all right, but the incessant itch to test himself required another scratch on March 1, 1997. After a ring absence of six years, Leonard, 40, came back against 34-year-old Hector “Macho” Camacho in Boardwalk Hall. As had been the case when he took on Norris, Leonard was viewed as somehow being immune to the natural laws of diminishing returns, or maybe his legion of admirers were still hesitant to let go of their fondest memories.

“Ray is an athlete,” said Leonard’s former trainer, Angelo Dundee. “Ray’s always doing something. Basketball, tennis. I understand he’s into golf now. I haven’t seen him play, but I bet he’s shooting pretty good scores. Any kind of sport, Ray picks up right away, like he’s been doing it his whole life.

“I think Ray will beat Camacho. I strongly believe that. I know what Ray can do. Macho’s thing was his speed, his quickness. Grabbing on to you. He won’t be able to do that with Ray.”

As might be expected, Leonard – who by then had become a grandfather – retained traces of a confidence that verged on arrogance. Asked if he still considered himself one of the top 10 middleweights in the world, despite his age and inactivity, he said, “Hell, yes.”

Top five?

“Yeah.”

Leonard said he was coming back, again, because “I need the attention that boxing brings. My ego is what made me who I am.” It was that ego that prompted Leonard to say that he could beat Camacho even if he was just 50 percent of his prime self, and that he would win “comfortably” at 75 percent of peak efficiency.

And if he somehow was able to reach back in time and make it to 100 percent?

“Annihilation,” he proclaimed.

His many acolytes bought into Leonard’s sales pitch, big time. Although Camacho opened as a 2-1 favorite, by fight night the line had moved so much that Leonard went off as a 7-5 favorite. He was, as always, the people’s choice.

But what happened that night was as jarring to the public’s sensibilities as had been the one-sided loss to Norris. Camacho, never noted for his punching power, had proclaimed “I ain’t running from no 40-year-old man,” and he didn’t, standing and trading in the center of the ring with no apparent fear of retaliation. And when referee Joe Cortez stepped in to stop the bout 68 seconds into the fifth round, after Leonard had been wobbled and then knocked down by two left uppercuts, it was time to bring down the curtain on a career that ranks among the grandest the fight game has ever seen. The fifth retirement announcement by Sugar Ray Leonard, the first man ever to have earned $100 million in purses, would be the one that was carved in granite, not written in wet sand.

“When I was knocked back and staggered, Joe Cortez said, `Ray, are you OK?’ And I was OK,’” Leonard said at the postfight media gathering. “Then when I went down, he asked, `Are you OK?’ I said yes again. But you know what? There was no sense pushing it. I was in trouble.”

Still reluctant to admit that his skills had faded, Leonard cited undisclosed injuries and other factors – to his right calf vs. Camacho, to his rib cage and the emotional turmoil of his divorce from his first wife, Juanita, vs. Norris – for those unsugary performances. But who could blame him for raging, raging against the dying of his once-luminescent light as a fighter?

“You always think of yourself as the best you ever were. That’s human nature,” Leonard, now 58, told me in March 2013 for a story I did for THE RING about fighters who keep saying goodbye, then hello again. “And that’s not just how highly successful people think. Everyone thinks that way.

“Most guys come back for money. They need another payday, and there are people around them feeding their egos, telling them how good they still are, because they want a piece of the action. Maybe they come back because they really don’t know anything but boxing, and they’re apprehensive about entering the next phase of their lives that doesn’t include it.

“But even if money is not an issue, and you have other options, you never lose that belief in yourself as a fighter, particularly if you’ve been to the very top of the mountain. (Being retired) eats at you. It’s hard to find anything else that can give you that high. Once you accomplish what I did against Marvin, you tell yourself, `I did it before, I can do it again.’ I felt that way about Muhammad Ali when he fought Larry Holmes. I had so much belief in Ali because of all the miraculous things he’d done, like going to Africa and beating George Foreman. But that Ali didn’t exist anymore by the time he fought Holmes.

“The reason I came back those last couple of times was because I was not happy. I was dying inside. The only place I felt truly comfortable and relaxed was in the ring. I needed that safety net. But at some point you have to face up to whatever problems you might have and deal with them. Nine times out of 10, it’s disastrous if you continue to push the envelope.”

One of these nights, if Hopkins continues to thumb his nose at Father Time while simultaneously offering it as a target for the fists of a lights-out puncher like Kovalev, he might know what it feels like to be have been Sugar Ray Leonard against Terry Norris or Hector Camacho. Will that night be this Saturday? I don’t think so, but then maybe that’s just the sentimentalist in me refusing to let go of the comfort zone B-Hop has made for me and so many others who are unwilling to turn away from yesterday in order to face tomorrow.

Photo Credit : Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

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In Dismantling Povetkin, Joshua Recaptured His Swag among the Heavyweights

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He was in against a very crafty and experienced opponent in former WBA titlist Alexander Povetkin 34-2 (24). And although he was troubled by the dangerous Russian fighting small as he tried to inch his way in and time him, AJ adjusted well and started to take the initiative and dropped and stopped Povetkin in the seventh round, retaining his WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titles and thus becoming the first fighter to ever stop Povetkin, something Wladimir Klitschko failed to do.

During the fight AJ was forced back. He had to adapt to Povetkin making him punch down and that caused him to be a little tentative, especially after being bloodied from a broken nose in the first round. And early on, AJ was a little confused and busy trying to keep Povetkin occupied from outside so he couldn’t get in on him. His most effective weapon in doing such was his left jab, delivered to the head or body, although the fight really turned when he began putting his one-two together. Then after a fairly evenly-paced bout, AJ slowed some with the hope it would lure Povetkin to close in a little harder, and he did.

As Povetkin, who came to fight, became more assertive, he became more vulnerable. AJ found the openings for his big right hand and left hook. With the first really solid right hand that bounced off his chin, Povetkin buckled and instinctively went back. Joshua pursued him and then, with near Joe Louis-like accuracy, put his right hands and hooks together, along with a beautiful right to the body in the middle of the assault and finished his game opponent.

Once again it was shown that trading with AJ is almost certain suicide. Povetkin was in great shape and would’ve been a handful for any other heavyweight in the world because he no doubt brought his A-game. Sometimes it takes AJ a little while to get going, and if you don’t do anything to bother him or wake him up, he doesn’t fight with the urgency of a “Smokin” Joe Frazier. However, when you wake him up and force him to cut loose, he’s so dangerous that he doesn’t need too many clean shots to end it. And making Joshua more lethal is that he has both short and inside power in both hands.

After months of hearing how Povetkin was the most serious threat to Joshua, that’s now finished business. Prior to the bout The Ring magazine rated the top six heavyweights in the world as follows…..Joshua, Wilder, Povetkin, Ortiz, Whyte and Parker, in that order. Now Joshua is 3-0 (2) versus Povetkin, Whyte and Parker which squashes the narrative that he has fought weaker opposition than WBC title holder Deontay Wilder 40-0 (39) who has only faced Ortiz among the top six.

Today, the most widely levied criticism of any elite fighter is that he didn’t fight the best man or men in his division. Fighters can’t control who their contemporaries are but they can control fighting the best of their era. Rocky Marciano’s era wasn’t stellar, but he fought every top fighter who was in line to challenge him. Floyd Mayweather fought in a stout era – the difference is an overwhelming majority of his bouts with big name opponents were strategically manipulated so that he faced them on the downside of their career – and that’s a fact, not a theory.

Forty years after his last victory in a title fight, Muhammad Ali is respected and revered as a fighter even by those who don’t claim to be a fan of his. Why? He wasn’t the most fundamental boxer in heavyweight history nor was he the biggest puncher, and not all of his fights were edge of your seat exciting. The thing that’s often cited as to why he was a marvel is that he fought the best of the best during one of the deepest eras in heavyweight history. There were a few times between 1975-77 that he held a win over every fighter ranked among The Ring magazine’s top-10. Sure he fought a few Brian London’s and Jean Pierre Coopman’s, but London was encompassed by Sonny Liston and Ernie Terrell during the 1960s and Coopman by Joe Frazier and Ken Norton during the 1970s.

Anthony Joshua hasn’t yet sniffed the greatness of Ali on many levels, but he is on the same trajectory in regards to meeting and defeating the best of his generation. By the end of this month, the WBC heavyweight title fight between Deontay Wilder and former champ Tyson Fury will likely become official with them meeting in early December. And regardless of who wins, Joshua, if he really wants to etch a great legacy, must pressure the winner to meet him in their next bout. In addition to that, he must tell his brain, aka Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn, to forget about winning the purse war if it is the only stumbling block. If the winner of Wilder-Fury is impressive, he will have earned a 50-50 split.

During the faux negotiations between the Joshua and Wilder camps this past summer the purse split was the focal point. And prior to the prospect of Wilder and Fury meeting, Joshua clearly held the better hand based on his resume and owning three titles to Wilder’s single title.  But the Wilder-Fury winner will have closed the gap and Joshua needs to be next while the fighters are at or near their prime. The fact is Joshua versus the Wilder/Fury winner will be the most widely anticipated fight in the heavyweight division since Lewis-Tyson and maybe even since Tyson-Holyfield I. The onus is on the fighters to make it happen and they both have the clout to make sure it does, especially Joshua.

Interviewed in the ring after dispatching Povetkin, AJ said it didn’t matter to him who he fought next as long as it’s Wilder or Fury, but it was obvious that he preferred Wilder. A lot depends on how Wilder fares with Fury, but until then, here’s what we know…..Alexander Povetkin and Luis Ortiz are about on the same level; having never faced each other, it’s a tossup as to who’d win. Both Joshua and Wilder scored impressive stoppages over Povetkin and Ortiz respectively…AJ needed seven rounds and Deontay needed ten rounds. During his bout with Ortiz, Wilder was knocked around the ring and had to endure a few big exchanges, some of which he came out second-best. Wilder was also nearly stopped in the seventh round but battled back, summoning great courage and reserve to win a fight he was losing. Against Povetkin, Joshua was more troubled than he was beaten up. And once he found his range and pace and began putting his punches together, the fight ultimately ended when AJ got off with his best stuff. In essence, Joshua was more impressive against Povetkin and had fewer close calls than did Wilder against Ortiz.

Between now and the time Wilder fights Tyson Fury, it’ll be debated as to who was more impressive – Joshua against Povetkin or Wilder against Ortiz; the answer is clearly Joshua for the reasons stated. Moreover, when analyzing a fight, A + B doesn’t equal C. Joshua will be favored over either Wilder or Fury, but probably along the line of 7-5 and nothing will change that.

The thing that emerged from Joshua dismantling Povetkin is that AJ recaptured some of the limelight and swag he ceded to Wilder this past March. AJ is again the fighter to beat in the heavyweight division and will probably get the bigger purse split regardless of whether he faces Wilder and Fury.

That said, he better not let the fight fall through over it!

Between 1977 and 1982, Frank Lotierzo had over 50 fights in the middleweight division. He trained at Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia under the tutelage of the legendary George Benton. Before joining The Sweet Science his work appeared in several prominent newsstand and digital boxing magazines and he hosted “Toe-to-Toe” on ESPN Radio. Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@gmail.com

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

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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

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UK sporting

It was a very wet night at Wembley Stadium, but the dampness didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd which welcomed UK sporting hero Anthony Joshua into the ring with a thunderous ovation. And Joshua didn’t disappoint. After six relatively even rounds, he found his range in the seventh and became the first man to stop Alexander Povetkin. A three punch combo that began with an overhand right sent Povetkin sprawling into the ropes. The Russian beat the count, but Joshua smelled blood and as soon as the ref allowed the proceedings to continue he moved in for the kill. The official time was 1:59.

Povetkin started fast and in the eyes of many observers won the first three rounds. A sharp right hand in the waning seconds of round one reddened Joshua’s nose which leaked blood in the next round. The tide began to turn in round four when Povetkin suffered a cut above his left eye.

Povetkin (now 34-2), was the lighter man by 23 pounds. Joshua had a four inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage. And it mattered greatly that AJ was the younger man by 10-plus years. Povetkin wasn’t intimidated by Joshua and had several good moments but, at age 39, his reflexes betrayed him once the fight had crossed the midpoint.

Joshua, who owns three of the four meaningful heavyweight title belts, improved to 22-0 with his 21st stoppage. His next fight is penciled in for April 13 of next year against an opponent to be determined. His promoter Eddie Hearn has reserved that date at Wembley Stadium.

Other Bouts

In a 12-round lightweight bout, Joshua’s Olympic Games teammate and fellow gold medalist Luke Campbell (19-2) avenged the first loss of his career with a unanimous decision (119-109, 118-111,116-112) over France’s Yvan Mendy (40-5-1). This was Campbell’s second start since coming up short in a bid for Jorge Linares’s lightweight title and his first fight under his new trainer Shane McGuigan.

In their first meeting in December of 2015 at London’s O2 Arena, Mendy won a split decision that should have been unanimous. Campbell insisted that he had improved greatly in the interim and tonight’s fight bore witness. However, he needs to develop a harder punch to rank among the top lightweights in the world, a list headed by Mikey Garcia. As this fight was framed as a WBC title eliminator, Campbell is next in line to meet Garcia, but Mikey has indicated that he will pursue bigger game.

Lawrence Okolie, a 2016 Olympian who trains with Anthony Joshua, won a Lonsdale belt in only his 10th pro start with a 12-round decision over defending BBBofC cruiserweight champion Matty Askin in a messy fight. The undefeated Okolie had a point deducted in round five for leading with his head and had two more points deducted for holding, but banked enough rounds to get the nod on all three cards: 116-110, 114-112, and 114-113. Askin, who declined to 23-4-1, had won five straight heading in.

A 10-round heavyweight match between Sergey Kuzmin (13-0, 1 NC) and David Price (22-6) ended suddenly when Price retired on his stool after four relatively even rounds. The six-foot-eight, china-chinned Price claimed to have aggravated a biceps tear.

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