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West Coast Report: Riverside County Is Red Hot



Southern California has a busy week in the world of pro boxing on Memorial Day weekend.

First, Philadelphia’s Eric “The Outlaw” Hunter (20-3, 10 Kos) battles Antonio Escalante (29-7, 20 Kos) in the main event on Friday, May 22, at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio. The Golden Boy Promotions card also features China’s giant heavyweight Taishan Dong. Also, signing autographs will be female boxing star Mia St. John.

Taishan, a massive heavyweight, shows athleticism inside the ring. He’s not the fastest heavyweight but he takes a decent punch and when hit, he returns fire with a fury. It’s going to be interesting to see if he can improve as he moves up the ladder. The power remains average so far for a heavyweight. But his counter-right has been on the mark. He faces Lance Gaunche (5-8-2).

Two local prospects are on the card. One, Abraham Lopez (17-0-1, 12 Kos) has his hands full against Alfred Tetteh (23-3-1, 20 Kos) and in a featherweight match Hunter (20-3, 10 Kos) faces Escalante Jr. (29-7, 20 Kos). Another local prizefighter is Joet Gonzalez (9-0, 4 Kos) who is facing veteran Mexican fighter Jose Angel Beranza (36-32-2) in a super bantamweight clash. These are all good tests to see where they are on the skill gauge.

About 80 miles west, heavyweight contender Andrey Fedosov (27-3, 22 Kos) faces Donovan Dennis (12-1, 10 Kos), also on Friday, May 22, at Omega Products International in Corona. In the co-main event junior middleweight Brandon Adams (17-1, 12 Kos) meets John Thompson (16-1, 5 Kos).

Several Riverside County prizefighters are gearing up for their respective fights.

Last night, in Jurupa Valley, undefeated West Coast banger Saul “Neno” Rodriguez (16-0-1, 13 Kos) of Riverside sparred with world champion Mikey Garcia and Oscar Santana to prepare for his main event next week on a Top Rank fight card in Hollywood.

Rodriguez, 22, meets another undefeated lightweight in Antonio Capulin (14-0, 6 Kos) of Houston at the Florentine Gardens on Saturday, May 30. The fight card will be televised by UniMas.

UniMas television will be devoting this coming Saturday night to show highlights of Rodriguez’s previous knockout wins. If you haven’t seen the slim kid from Riverside perform, he’s racked up a number of eye-popping knockouts. He reminds many of a late skinny slugger named Diego Corrales, with that one-punch power on a thin frame.

When Rodriguez first turned pro, he was a wide-open flailing offensive machine with a lot of holes on defense. But when you regularly spar with someone like Mikey Garcia you quickly discover those flaws exist. Plus, his trainer Eduardo Garcia won’t stand for defensive inadequacies with his fighters.

“I work on my defense a lot,” says Rodriguez. “I don’t work on my power, mostly my defense.”

Earlier in his career Rodriguez was a big fan of Mike Tyson.

“I’d study his tapes all day before a fight,” Rodriguez says, adding that his taste have changed a bit. “Now I really like to see Guillermo Rigondeaux. He’s my favorite fighter to watch. He’s smooth.”

Rodriguez quickly adds that Tyson is still his all-time favorite fighter.

“I still watch his fights,” Rodriguez says. “They get me pumped up.”

Rodriguez expects a tough match with Capulin in their battle of undefeated prospects.

“It’s an important fight for both of us,” Rodriguez says. “I want to be a ranked contender.”

Desert Storm

Earlier in the week Tim Bradley arrived in downtown L.A. to attend a press conference for his coming world title match with undefeated Jessie Vargas. Both will battle for the vacant WBO welterweight title that Bradley held until losing it to Manny Pacquiao. When Pacman lost to Floyd Mayweather, the victor abandoned the WBO version, so now it’s up for grabs.

“I want that WBO title,” said Bradley, who looked surprised at Vargas’ height when standing next to him for photos on Monday at the Conga Room.

Bradley trains at his own gym in Palm Springs.

Vargas trains in Las Vegas under Roy Jones Jr., who was present at the press conference on Monday.

Other Riverside County action

Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera is preparing for his showdown with Hank Lundy on July 11, at the L.A. Sports Arena.

Herrera trains about two miles from Saul Rodriguez in the Mira Loma area. The wiz boxer-puncher will be the headliner for the Golden Boy Promotions fight card.


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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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