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Fall Out Tuesday: Vargas, Bradley and L.A. Sports Arena

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Days following the welterweight title showdown between Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley and Jessie “Vegas” Vargas, the aftermath has yet to settle in the summer heat.

If anything, it’s heated up.

Harsh words were exchanged between the two desert factions following the early stoppage that led to an explosion of fallout from fans, critics and team members. Words have led to Team Vargas expressing intent to file an official protest to the California State Athletic Commission because the referee stopped the fight seven seconds too early last Saturday at the StubHub Center.

As of Tuesday, no official protest had been seen by Executive Director Andy Foster.

Before the storm of protest, both Bradley and Vargas had produced an interesting battle. The Palm Springs fighter seemed ahead on the scorecards but he was uncomfortable with his own effort and opted to go full throttle.

Bradley got caught during an exchange and walked into an overhand right by Vargas who put his full body behind it. It was astonishing that Bradley stayed on his feet. Vargas moved in a little too slowly and though he was able to unload a small barrage he was stopped by Russell, who thought he heard the final bell.

Honest mistake, but what might have happened if Vargas were allowed to unload one final barrage?

That’s the question.

A Team Vargas member said they do intend to file a protest.

Overbooking sites

According to a story by noted boxing journalist Ivan Goldman for BoxingInsider.com, the CSAC blocked efforts by Al Haymon’s constituents to allegedly put a lock on large boxing venues like Staples Center and the Inglewood Forum so that rival promoters could not use them for events. After a length of time Haymon’s constituents would release the reservation. But by then, it was too late for the other promoters to put on their events.

Last month Golden Boy Promotions filed a $300 million lawsuit against Haymon for illegal and anti-competitive business practices along with violating the Muhammad Ali act. It was filed with the Federal Court in Los Angeles on May 6, 2015.

During preparations for the mega fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, it’s alleged that Haymon convinced fighters to not provide sparring for the Filipino boxer. Mayweather, who is advised by Haymon and is his biggest money-maker.

On May 2, at the MGM Garden Arena, Haymon allegedly attempted to shrink the space reserved for the media and use that area to sell seats for up to $50,000. Many of the regular boxing beat writers were shut out from reporting on the fight ringside. Instead, photographers, writers and videographers were forced to watch the fight on television from inside a tent outside of the arena. A large number of journalists who were admitted into the arena did not receive word until Saturday May 2, 2015, the day of the fight.

L.A. Sports Arena closing event

The historic sports venue is closing its doors after more than 55 years of serving the Los Angeles area for fans to view boxing, basketball, track and field, soccer, football and various mixed martial arts.

Golden Boy Promotions will stage the last event ever held on July 11 at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena located 3939 S. Figueroa Street on Exposition Park near USC. Top contender Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera will fight Hank Lundy in the main event.

It’s only fitting that the last event be a boxing card. The very first sporting event ever held at the L.A. Sports Arena was a world championship boxing match between Mexico’s Jose Becerra and France’s Alphonse Halimi on July 8, 1959, four days after the doors were officially opened.

“There was still scaffolding around the arena it wasn’t completely finished,” said Bill Caplan, publicist for Golden Boy who attended that fight 56 years ago. Later, boxers such as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Bobby Chacon, and Danny “Little Red” Lopez would fight there too.

In 1984 the Olympic Boxing events were held in the Sports Arena that included Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor, Henry Tillman, Mark Breland, and Paul Gonzalez, who won “boxer of the tournament” and a gold medal.

Next door, most of the track and field events for the 1984 Olympic Games were held in the Memorial Coliseum.

The Los Angeles Lakers played there for many years before moving to Inglewood and then Staples Center. The Los Angeles Clippers played there for years until moving to Staples Center in 2000. Also, UCLA and USC both played their home games there too before having their own arenas built.

Many celebrity basketball games were held there. I remember seeing Bird Averitt play against L.A. street legend Raymond Lewis. The former Verbum Dei High star would later lead the nation in scoring while playing at Cal State L.A. During the celebrity game at the Sports Arena I saw Lewis dunk over Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Lewis was an incredible baller with moves, shooting touch and leaping ability that made him into the stuff of legend.

It was also a popular venue for concerts of all types. Rock concerts, Mexican and Latin music stars also were also seen at the Sports Arena. It was the last stopping point for Selena who was killed on March 31, 1995, days before her concert at the Sports Arena. Thousands gathered with lit candles to honor her on the day of her scheduled concert.

The Sports Arena will be destroyed and made into a soccer arena.

Golden Boy Promotions plans to have a fiesta for its going away party with food booths, music and a party atmosphere. Make sure to attend and say goodbye to the marvelous house of sports. Tickets start at a reasonable $10 not including tax and service fees. That’s not a mistake. The most expensive seat is in the $100 range.

For tickets go to Ticketmaster.com.

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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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