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The Rigolution Marches On; Rigondeaux Wins New Years Bash in Japan



Junior featherweight Guillermo Rigondeaux made good on his prefight promise of delivering explosive fireworks against Hisashi Amagasa on New Year’s Eve in Osaka, Japan.

The undefeated southpaw from Cuba, who is the Transnational Rankings, Ring Magazine and WBA 122-pound champion, stopped Amagasa at the close of Round 11 in a thrilling title fight. Rigondeaux was down twice in Round 7, but scored a knockdown of his own in Round 9 on his way to the TKO 11 victory.

The bout started with Rigondeaux establishing his range against Ama, a lanky fighter over six inches taller than Rigondeaux. Rigo appeared to throw more punches through the first half of the fight, perhaps in an effort to win over fans, or maybe just because the longer reach of Ama forced him into it.

Whatever the case, Rigo stunned Ama in Round 5 with a hard left hand and unleashed a furious barrage of punches, but the tough former featherweight withstood the avalanche and made it through the round.

At the very end of Round 7, Ama caught Rigo in the center of the ring on a pivot and put him down to the canvas with a short right hand. Rigondeaux rose quickly but was down again seconds later. While the second knockdown appeared to be more a product of trying to hold on to Ama than anything else, Rigo was clearly in trouble as the round came to a close.

But Rigo reestablished control of the fight in Round 8 and dominated the action again until the fight was halted at the end of Round 11.

Ama was unable to come out of his corner for Round 12. His face was badly swollen and bruised from Rigo’s devastating jabs and precise power punches.

Rigondeaux, age 34, is one of the top fighters in the sport of boxing. His skill set is unparalleled among his junior featherweight peers, something that has kept most of the big names in the division from agreeing to fight him.

Just last week, popular pressure fighter Leo Santa Cruz, who holds the WBC belt, told Fight Hub TV’s Marcos Villegas that Rigondeaux wasn’t an interesting fight for him.

“Guillermo Rigondeaux, the people don’t like his style, and I don’t think that’d be an interesting fight,” said Santa Cruz. “I wanna give a great show and a great fight for the fans. I think against Mares is more likely [because of] his style and everything. They told me already that if everything goes well in this next fight, then they’ll try to make the fight against Mares.”

In reality, of course, Rigondeaux is absolutely the most interesting fight for Santa Cruz and vice versa.

First, Rigondeaux is the division’s lineal champion, a title he earned by dethroning Nonito Donaire in April 2013. A fight between Rigondeaux and Mares would further unify the division and establish the winner as the kind of champion who takes on all-comers.

Second, Santa Cruz possesses the kind of in-your-face style that would make the bout aesthetically pleasing for most fight fans. While Rigondeaux is a master pugilist, many fight fans and media members are far from in love with the classic Cuban style he employs which relies on minimizing risk through circular movement and precise punching.

In fact, Team Rigondeaux has found it tough sledding to land American television dates as of late exactly because he’s been labeled “boring” by the boxing public. And the mainstream boxing media hasn’t helped things. After Rigo’s win over Donaire,’s Dan Rafael and Yahoo’s Kevin Iole wrote columns berating the Cuban defector for his fighting style.

But excellence has its place in boxing, too. And consistently proving to be one of the two or three best fighters in the world, something Rigondeaux has done a solid job of over the last two years, should eventually bear him fruit.

Rigondeaux deserves big fights at 122 pounds. He’s the division’s true champion and one of boxing’s elite pound-for-pound stars. He deserves American television dates, too. While HBO may have moved on from televising the so-called Rigolution for buzzsaws like Gennady Golovkin and Sergey Kovalev, Showtime hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire as of late with their cards and could use a boost in the arm in 2015.

Rigondeaux’s thrilling win over Amagasa has given Santa Cruz and his handlers every reason to make the fight. Rigondeaux, the champion, showed he could entertain fans and win a great action fight, too. The knockdowns showed Rigo might be vulnerable to Santa Cruz’s particular style of volume punching and refuted Santa Cruz’s claim that the fight would not be interesting.

When asked via Twitter what happened to his claim earlier this year that Showtime would be interested in televising Rigondeaux’s fights should he become available, Stephen Espinoza indicated the interest was still there.

“Still interested, but opponent and date are always factors, too,” said Espinoza.

Santa Cruz would seem the right opponent, and Rigondeaux has already indicated he’d be ready as early as next month for a bout against Santa Cruz, so a date should be able to be agreed upon, too.

“I am very frustrated that the other world beltholders are running scared and won’t fight me,” Rigondeaux said via press release before the Amagasa win.

Fight fans should be frustrated with it, too.


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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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