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Garcia Wins, Lee & Quillin Draw in Night of Fight or Flight in Brooklyn

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. – “That was a war,” Danny Garcia said after 12 wildly divergent rounds with Lamont Peterson. “That’s what fans want to see.”

Maybe so, and maybe not. Ring wars, like actual wars, come in many shapes, sizes and strategies. But what most fight fans apparently want to see – the announced attendance was 12,700, which seems about right –is not always what they got here Saturday night in the Barclays Center, with all four participants in the nationally televised co-features on NBC coming away feeling at least vaguely dissatisfied with the respective outcomes.

Garcia’s WBA and WBC super lightweight championships were not on the line because, fearing he would drain himself too much by continuing to try to make the 140-pound weight limit, he had asked and received an agreement from the Peterson side that the bout be fought at a catch weight of 143. The slightly enlarged Philadelphian then played the role of relentless pursuer, at least through the early and middle rounds, until Peterson, a former WBO junior welterweight titlist, decided the time was right to stop retreating and go on the attack himself.

Shortly after the final bell rang, Garcia (30-0, 17 KOs), in his apparent farewell to his current weight class and championship reign, was awarded, depending on one’s point of view, a deserved or mildly controversial majority decision. Judges Steve Weisfeld and Kevin Morgan each saw Garcia as a 115-113 winner, while Don Ackerman, who gave Peterson each of the five rounds, had it a 114-114 standoff.

Punch statistics compiled by CompuBox, never an indisputably accurate gauge of what transpires inside the ropes, were inconclusive. Although Garcia threw 95 more punches (589 to 494), he landed only three more (173 to 170). His lower overall connect percentage (38 percent to 50 percent) was offset by the fact that he landed 147 power punches to just 105 for Peterson, who had vowed beforehand to “give the performance of a lifetime.” And maybe the Washington, D.C., native did just that, if adhering to the stick (occasionally)-and-move blueprint mapped out by his father figure/trainer, Barry Hunter, is the standard of excellence to which he had aspired.

“I thought it was close, I’m not going to lie,” said Garcia. “But I felt I did enough to win.”

More than enough, figured Garcia’s always blunt father/trainer, Angel Garcia, who had predicted there was “no way” his son could possibly lose to the supposedly inferior likes of Peterson.

“I thought Peterson was running a lot,” Angel groused. “He was saving his energy for the last quarter of the fight.” And releasing any pent-up energy for the final 25 percent of the proceedings shouldn’t be enough for anyone to offset a dubious first 75 percent, the elder Garcia believed, saying, “I don’t know what that judge (Ackerman) was thinking when he saw a draw.”

Peterson (33-3-1, 17 KOs) agreed with Angel; he also did not believe anyone with a pencil and a scorecard could have considered the fight a draw – or a victory for Garcia, for that matter.

“My plan all along was to tire him out in the early rounds, find where I could get my chances and then take them,” he said. “I did my part. I’m not calling it a robbery. He fought a good fight, (but) it’s probably the least contact I’ve ever had. People can call it a slow start, but I thought I was controlling the pace of the fight.”

Added Hunter: “Mr. Garcia definitely knew he was in the fight of his life tonight. Lamont fought a great fight. He can’t do the judges’ job, too. Lamont did a great job of sticking to his game plan and executing.”

Unlike Garcia-Peterson, in which no knockdowns were registered, the co-feature, which pitted WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee against his would-be challenger, former WBO 160-pound ruler Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, had its up-and-down moments. Quillin floored Lee with right hands in the first and third rounds, but Lee, a southpaw, negated one of those trips to the canvas by decking the Brooklyn-born and sort-of crowd favorite with a right hook in the seventh stanza.

In between those well-spaced flashes of power-punching, there were long stretches of feinting and faking by both fighters, who clearly had enough respect for one another that they were not disposed to recklessly engage. The audience made its displeasure known by booing as often or more than it cheered, but those supporting Lee – born in London to Irish parents, and a member of the 2004 Irish Olympic team – had more reason to feel good in the closing rounds as their guy, like Peterson, appeared to do more in the later rounds and thus was able to salvage the split draw.

Judge Guido Cavalleri scored it 113-112 for Lee, Eric Marlinski had it 113-112 for Quillin while their colleague, Glenn Feldman, saw it at 113-113, giving two of the final three rounds to Quillin. Maybe even more so than Garcia-Peterson, a draw seemed a reasonable result, given the similar punch totals (113 of 299, 38 percent, for Lee to 103 of 267, 39 percent, for Quillin).

Had the bout been for Lee’s title, he would have retained it on the draw, but, as it turned out, he was assured of remaining the champ in any case as Quillin failed to make weight on Friday, tipping the scales at 161.4 pounds. Perhaps “Kid Chocolate” should have restricted himself to broccoli or brought in Marie Osmond, she of all those NutriSystem weight-loss commercials, to serve as his strength-and-conditioning coach.

“What can I say? I didn’t make weight,” Qullin said. “I want to apologize to Andy Lee and to all my supporters and fans. I made every effort to make weight, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I have no one to blame but myself.”

The matter of weight – the need to go up or down – was a major pre- and post-fight topic, and not only by the principals in the gargantuan, 10-bout card which took over 7½ hours to complete, from start to finish.

“That’s a lot of boxing – maybe a little too much,” mused promoter Lou DiBella near the conclusion of his long day’s journey into late, late night, despite the fact the co-main events – the second telecast of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions series on NBC – began in prime time. “I want to go to sleep.”

Garcia, who earned $1.5 million (to Peterson’s $1.2 million), is moving up from super lightweight to welterweight because it’s what his body is telling him, as well as his hope for a fattened bank account. He is aware that the welters are and likely will continue to be boxing’s marquee division, and that campaigning as a 147-pounder might someday bring him a megabucks payday against either Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao, whose welterweight unification showdown on May 2 will be the richest prizefight of all time, with each man likely to come away with a payday of $100 million-plus.

“I would love to fight one of them, but I need a couple of fights at 147 first,” Garcia reasoned, although he and his pop probably wouldn’t elect to wait if Mayweather or Pacquiao anointed Danny as their next man up.

Also heading to welterweight is impressive 22-year-old Puerto Rican prospect Prichard Colon (14-0, 11 KOs), who scored a ninth-round stoppage of Daniel Calzada (11-14-2, 2 KOs) on the undercard. Colon is currently a super welterweight, but he came in at a trim 148 pounds against Calzada and he concluded that it would be easy to shed another pound for a dive into the dangerous but profitable waters of the fight game’s deepest talent pool. “It is a stacked division,” Colon acknowledged. “There’s so many big names out there, you know?”

It remains to be seen whether PBC – which is heavily underwritten by Haymon, who sees the ambitious project as a means to vault boxing back into the mainstream, and not just for a special occasion, like May-Pac – is a business visionary like, say, Bill Gates, or an investor in an outdated product and destined to lose his figurative shirt. But the shadowy Haymon has a cast of thousands (OK, hundreds) under contract, and all those fighters need to stay busy. Marathon cards on PBC nights are likely to be the rule rather than the exception, at least in the foreseeable future.

For on-site consumers desirous of getting more bang for their buck, Saturday’s Barclays Center show was a veritable orgy of pleasant excess. There were three walkout bouts (all televised via NBC SportsNet) after Garcia-Peterson, which were attractive in their own right: welterweight Errol Spence Jr. (16-0, 13 KOs) stopped Samuel Vargas (20-2-1, 10 KOs) in four rounds; light heavyweight Marcus Browne (14-0, 11 KOs) halted celebrity son Aaron Pryor Jr. (19-8-1, 12 KOs) in six and junior welterweight Felix Diaz (17-0, 8 KOs) scored a unanimous, 10-round decision over Gabriel Bracero (23-2, 4 KOs).

The five pre-NBC fights also were televised, internationally, and featured both old (former WBA welterweight champ Luis Collazo, who turns 34 on April 22) and new (Colon). The entire as a whole was a United Nations smorgasbord, too, with fighters hailing from Northern Ireland, Hungary, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Ukraine, Ireland, Canada and the Dominican Republic. All right, so neither PBC event has featured anything along the classic lines of a Marvin Hagler-Sugar Ray Leonard (Leonard was at ringside, as a color commentator) or Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo I, but they’ve featured very good fighters in reasonably competitive matchups, with Part 2 exceeding Part 1.

If the product continues to improve, boxing just might find the wider audience it has been searching for since the sport got regular dates on over-the-air telecasts in the way back when of Howard Cosell and Don Dunphy.

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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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