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Don’t Let April 25 Klitschko-Jennings Get Lost in #MayPac Shuffle!



I must counsel you, don’t let everything else get lost in the shuffle, the May 2 superfight shuffle. Because May 3 will come, and there will be other fights, and there will other shooting stars to watch, and more ludicrous and wondrous chapters to follow in the book of life and this sweetest of savage sciences we call boxing.

Such as…

A heavyweight title fight, and the immensity of electricity attendant to that, will unfold on Saturday night, April 25, in that memory motel of an arena, Madison Square Garden.

Ghosts of prizefights past will be stilled, and watching as the skilled behemoth Wladimir Klitschko seeks to continue his spell of momentum, against Philly-effin-delphia’s Bryant Jennings, an athlete who took up the sport just six years ago, and now will find out if he can handle the massive stage and bright lights in NYC, and on HBO.

The hitters took part in a conference call the other day, and talked about the forthcoming tangle.

Note, please: that you never know until you know. So…respect must be given for the possibility that we could have a new heavyweight to bow to come Saturday evening, a vegan boxer from Philly. Stranger things have happened, ya know!

Klitschko is a bit under the radar, more so than he should be, because the division stinks, and he’s not American, and his style is not Tyson-esque. But he is an impressive specimen as a human being: athletically, and his persona, his principles, his ethos. Check out his big-picture take on what this opp means to Jennings…

“He’s fighting for his pride, but also he’s fighting for a lot of financial assets,” Wlad said. “I remember 2006 I was fighting for free, pretty much..Sometimes I really kind of have a smile on my face when I hear challengers complaining about certain things, that they’re not getting paid enough or the rules are not good enough or the gloves are not good enough or whatever. There’s a lot of complaints. I remember I was fighting; I was ready to fight in any gloves for any price. I mean, basically, for free.”

Wlad helps us see this clash rightly, helps us get out of the Manny-Money zone, when he says, “I am really excited to be back in the States. I’ve been fighting – champion of the world means to fight in different countries, in different cities, which I have accomplished in the past years. I’ve been fighting in Berlin, Switzerland. I’ve been fighting in Moscow, Russia. I’ve been fighting in many German cities. It’s always exciting to be back in the States and to be back at The Garden.”

The cerebral hitter knows his foe, and not just what he brings to the table physically, but how his upbringing and homeland might be affecting him. “Boxers from Philadelphia, they have certainly some style. ..Obviously, there is certain reflection of the region where the fighter is coming from, of the trainers that he was working with and the idols that he was looking up to. I think that I’m going to expect a Philly fighter. You know, a fighter from Philadelphia that is similar to Frazier and Witherspoon and many other fighters from this region, from Philadelphia, and I think that it’s going to be challenging.”

I can pretty much guarantee that he won’t look past BY..

“He’s going to have a lot of support in the arena and he’s highly motivated, he’s very energetic, he’s a little hyper type of fighter, and he’s moves a lot, he’s very athletic, but hopefully he’s not going to move around too much, he’s going to come to fight the same way as Pulev did,” the 63-3 Wlad told us. “He didn’t move around much. He just came in and was throwing punches and being aggressive. So I’m hoping and expecting that Bryant Jennings is going to give me a fight where he’s going to be aggressive.”

Then Jennings, promoted by Gary Shaw of New Jersey, had his turn; 19-0-1-0 with 10 knockouts, Bryant “By-By” Jennings. He’s wisely smelling the roses and seeing the beauty of the view in the Garden, it sounds like, wise in that he best enjoy the experience, as there is no guarantee that he’ll win, if indeed he’s waiting for fruition to adulate in.

“I first put on the gloves six years ago and here I am playing for the heavyweight championship of the world,” the American said. “So I’m doing it and I’ll be what I think is the fourth Philly-born heavyweight to ever fight for a title and the second Philly-born heavyweight to ever win it once I become champion April 25.”

Ah, but he isn’t into BSing, and promising the world what he doesn’t KNOW fully he can do, which is beat a supremely talented heavyweight. “The underdog is something that I’m used to being,” Jennings told us. “I understand that I’m a great underdog in this fight. That’s because people only look at the size and they look at the inexperience, but they don’t look at the possibility. All you have to do is respect the possibility that this fight could go either way.”

That’s what I’m doing, respecting what is possible, not probable, but possible..

Jennings showed a Philly side, some fire, a little dissy-ness that I liked..

“He doesn’t fight back pretty well and he does a lot of things great, though,” he said, noting that Wlad likes to hold excessively. “That’s pretty much what it is. His weakness will be getting to his chin, but he does that great job, protecting that, but I understand that it’s going to be a tough task and it’s going to be that’s something that I – that’s what I signed up for. I’m with that. I’m all for it.”

You heard a mix of Philly tough but also a reality-based mindset, as well…Sounds to me like he knows, as best he can without being in there, what it will take to have some success. He has to get inside that long jab..

“Lateral movement, head movement and relentless effort will definitely penetrate and make a change,” Jennings said.

Readers, talk to me. Anyone sensing an upset special? Getting near enough to Wlad, now a defensive wizard, proves exceedingly difficult. Who remembers the last time anyone so much as BUZZED him? Does Jennings have the pop to touch him with a shot he sees coming? Play trainer; how can Jennings carry the night, and bring the belt back to PA?

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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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