Connect with us

Featured Articles

Federer and the Punch



Once a year, I let tennis into my life.

I’m reluctant to do so. Wimbledon catches my attention for its entire duration but I don’t like the way competitors are feted for their “stamina” and “courage.” Yes, the levels of fitness they obtain are impressive, and yes it can be difficult to play on when losing, but these are well paid elite athletes in pursuit of cash money.

And nobody is punching them in the face while they submit to their cardio exam.

There is a video on YouTube on the legendary Rafael Nadal exalting “the heart of a warrior.” Overlap between tennis and boxing fans seems reasonably rare and I’d suggest that this is why such radical statements as this are allowed to be made; relative to other tennis players, it is very possible that Nadal does indeed have the heart of a warrior, but compare him to, say, Austin Trout and that claim becomes somewhat ridiculous. Compare him to someone like Israel Vazquez and such a claim becomes utterly bizarre.

Additionally, Nadal was meekly eliminated form Wimbledon early last week by a journeyman of such low ranking that it would have made Mike Tyson shudder. Still, the one-hundred and second ranked men’s tennis player, Dustin Brown, showed a lot of guts in picking up that win – but nothing like the heart James “Buster” Douglas displayed in knocking out the once-rampant Iron Mike.

Different sports – different levels of commitment and risk. Different men.

I was interested then in the questions raised by William Skidelsky in his new book about the great Roger Federer (perhaps the greatest tennis player in history) in his new book Federer and Me. Skidelsky freely admits to an obsession born of some seemingly clichéd self-psychoanalysis but the obsession bares fruit. Skidelsky’s insight into his subject is impractical and born of compulsion and so gets to the root of a matter that stirred within me some fistic interest, specifically his description of Federer’s backhand which he lauds as capable of reaching “any part of the court with every conceivable variation of height, spin and power; and he can do this from almost any position.” To a fairweather tennis fan such as myself that just sounds like tennis, but apparently this is not so. Apparently men’s tennis has retreated from the net, where the creative, exciting tennis of yesteryear was played, to the baseline at the rear of the court, where power dominates all. Thudding, booming hits swapped in rallies defined by endurance and hitting ability as much as technique. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Federer hits his backhand one-handed in pursuit of grace and touch, not power.

Angles; variation of height and power – the firm belief that placement can be more important than power. Skidelsky could be writing about a boxer, not a tennis player.

I want to take you back now to June of 1963. The #2 contender to the welterweight title held by Emile Griffith is twenty-two year old Cuban Jose Stable, two years away from the spirited but doomed shot at the title which would ruin him, and in his prime. Matching him at Madison Square Garden, New York, is Philadelphian and former #2 contender Charley Scott. Scott, once a promising prospect himself, now stands on the precipice of journeyman hell. Both men have much to lose.


Federer’s technique is a matter of geometry. Rafael Nadal, his nemesis, deals in torque. Federer has spoken of his admiration for Nadal, of his respect for the Spaniard’s concentration, but equally has stressed that he could never play tennis in such a way. For Federer, Nadal’s mission is to make every point the same – Nadal wants to win by force. Federer gives the nod to Nadal’s overwhelming sense of self but admits that he would find such an approach boring. Federer wants variety. He wants surprise.

Scott and Stable meet ring centre. Stable gives ground a little but fights and when he comes dipping back to Scott the two bump heads to shoulder. Stable places his head under Scott’s chin and they both try to make room for punches without going wide in search of the tiny entrance behind one-another’s elbow – it’s a trap, you see. Something that is rarely mentioned when comparing old-school to new in boxing is this propensity of the referee to permit infighting, and as we shall see, more pertinently, for the boxers to do the same. Infighting was so much a part of the sport up to and including the sixties that it was not even remarked upon, generally, in commentary. It was as much a part of the boxing canon as out-fighting; there was literally no difference in how the two were perceived – a fighter need both to succeed.

Now, a fighter can be held to be a technician by the boxing public if he can throw a very good one-two from the outside. In the run up to his fight with Jennings this year, Bryan Graham, writing in The Guardian named Wladimir Klitschko definitive of the “Eastern European technicians”; Steve Bunce, the pre-eminent British boxing journalist, saw Klitschko “heavyweight’s finest technician”; some less pre-eminent members of the press have even begun to talk about “technician” as a style that Klitschko embodies.

Please understand, I am not saying that anyone who labels Klitschko a technician is wrong; I’m not interested in semantics but rather etymology and what it means for boxing. It is now reasonable to call Wladimir a technician but there is a time when you would have been laughed at for doing so. Draping yourself across your opponents back and leaning down when he gets close was no more legitimate in infighting in 1963 than drawing a knife after a knockdown is now.

Federer is described as “pre-modern” by Skidelsky. In boxing we prefer “old-school”. Either way, what it means is belonging to a different time. Just as Federer’s essence belongs to an era before graphite rackets drove big-hitting bomb-builders to the baseline, Stable and Scott belong to an era long before referees separated fighters that went head-to-head. Naturally, this had consequences for their boxing.

For one thing, the sixties were a time when to become a technician one needed more than a booming jab and footwork birthed specifically to control distance. A technician had to fight at all ranges. If a fighter spent an evening’s work trying to bore in he was no more – but also no less – a technician than the man who backed up all night and jab-jab-jabbed. Both were lacking. A technician was a man who had mastered jab-, mid- and close-range. The word had no other meaning.

In 1963, Scott and Stable have entered the third round. They have agreed now that the fight will be settled on the inside, and given that neither man is a knockout hitter, crisp, volume punching will decide the result. Scott has decided to spring Stable’s trap and punch wide to the body, Stable responds by quadrupling the uppercut to the mid-section, an astonishing technical achievement which requires poise, balance, and the co-operation of a referee willing to let the opponent do enough punching inside that such an advantage presents itself; that last point is important: that such an advantage presents itself.

Such an advantage is not presented to the modern day boxer. It’s a rare, rare night when a boxer can be inside long enough in rounds one and two that he can feel-out and deploy a plan for infighting success. Infighting has become an opportunity to out-muscle a fighter for a psychological edge, perhaps land one punch, perhaps two, before the referee breaks. In 1963 a fighter might spend twenty minutes of a thirty minute fight finding room for punches inside, if he boxed to a certain style. Consider, if you will, how much time a fighter will spend on such techniques in the gym if that is liable to be the case. Now, flip that coin. What if all a fighter has to do to avoid infighting is clinch?

It is common to hear people say that the clinch is “killing boxing”. The truth is both more terrible and less dramatic than that: clinching is modern boxing. Clinching, specifically, is the reason that a whole plethora of infighting skills have been eliminated from boxing’s toolbox. It is one of the great ironies of sporting history, I think, that after boxing became a staple of television’s diet, clinching was frowned upon due to it being seen as dull. This cultural shift trickled through to the ring where referees were encouraged to break as many clinches as possible meaning all a fighter short of in-fighting skills needed to do in order to end that action was clinch. This, in turn, led to an erosion of infighting capabilities in modern fighters because all that is needed to negate any close action is a clinch – and this, finally, results in a huge upturn in clinching.

Boxing, the snake that eats itself.

The last two lineal heavyweight champions of the world, the keepers of the flame of the culture of the sport, have resorted almost exclusively to clinching as an infighting defence. I am a huge admirer of both Wladimir Klitschko and Lennox Lewis; I don’t believe they have done anything other than what was absolutely right for them. All any opponent wants to do with Klitschko is come inside and rough him up in search of the KO. The idea that Klitschko should play Russian-roulette with anyone that breaches his jab when the clinch is available to him is absurd and while people are free to dislike him for it, criticising him for it is not reasonable.

Some version of this is what old-timers and classic apologists are trying to tell us when they say that boxers were “more skilled” in those days. Newsflash: they were. But this is not all it seems to be, nor what dismissive modernists presume it to be, nor, finally, what some old-school determinists insist it is. At the opening of the ninth round, Scott and Stable are surprisingly fresh, and although Stable is well ahead, Scott remains game. By the time they meet ring centre in that penultimate round Stable is sure of his own speed advantage, assured in his technical superiority and his eye for distance is in. He comes narrow but reaches all the way around for a right-hand lead to the kidney, and then a left hand gunned for Scott’s jaw that is caught on the gloves, another right to the body followed up by a left uppercut which glances across the dipping Scott’s scalp. Because Scott, too, was seeking out the inside where he has done his best work, and because the referee will allow them both to punch there, these punches were available for Stable; and so he has learned them.

This is not the case for their modern counterparts. The only time real fighting will take place inside is when the fighters decide to allow it. Before Ricky Hatton’s 2007 tilt at Floyd Mayweather his trainer Billy Graham was direct in asking that Hatton be allowed to fight on the inside. I understand why; his man’s whole strategy relied upon being able to get close and throw punches. The simple fact is, however, is that it is not in the referee’s gift to allow fighting on the inside. That gift lay with Mayweather, whose strategy for victory was to hit Hatton on the outside and nullify him inside. This, he did, by holding. Once Mayweather holds the referee is honour bound to separate them.

This fact is obscured by occasions when infighting takes place, as was the case in the first Mike Alvarado-Brandon Rios war. Here, Alvarado allowed Rios inside, and allowed him to work, while waiting to reclaim distance and blast his man, giving the impression that the referee was “allowing them to work inside” in the parlance of American commentary; in fact, Alvarado was allowing Rios to work inside by neglecting to hold. He was punished for this tactical transgression.

The only ready solution to this infighting issue, should one be required, is for the referee to penalise a new generation of fighters who take holding for granted. This will result in physically and technically inferior fighters claiming wins on point deductions and disqualifications, at least in the short term; or will result in the bizarre sight, as in Lewis-Tyson, of a fighter leaning while holding his arms out wide to prove he is not holding. There is nothing harder in sports than enforcing a cultural change through a rule change (see the total inability of football’s governing body to eliminate diving in football [soccer] by penalising it).

Stable hit Scott with combination after combination on the inside in that ninth round at a point in the fight where Scott needed a knockout to win. If Scott elected to hold, Stable would have been allowed to fight out; meanwhile, if Stable had hit while holding, he would be in breach. So Scott fought on, tending to dip to his left, something Stable did too, but every now and again Stable hops out of their formation and in again to his right creating a whole new mess of geometry between the two. Next time you are watching a fight, or better yet sparring, take note, during a rare infighting exchange, of the enormous difference a small step to the left makes for both fighters. When they are head to head they seek the same punches dependent upon handedness, but with that single half step one fighter is looking for the left hook to the body, the other the right uppercut to the head. There are dozens of such variations. Now, perform the same exercise on the outside – both men still seek to jab.

Like Federer, Scott and Stable are seeking to land punches all over the court and for the most part there is no modern equivalent. Initiating a clinch is a legitimate skill in modern boxing, but it is not one that can be compared to the pulse of this whirling dervish of a contest. Scott has to try to get his head on Stable’s left shoulder opening up his right hand to the body when Stable uses his left; he wants to lock down Stable’s left with this tactic. Meanwhile Stable wants to quick-time Scott’s body when he is stepping in and snipes for the head while Scott is trying to find position. Even this singular version of the inside game is enthralling and fuelled by drill upon drill in the gym.

What this does not mean is that Scott and Stable are better fighters under their ruleset than modern fighters are under theirs. What it means is that fighters from the 1960s have, by necessity, a deeper skillset. Wladimir Klitschko is as brilliant at what he does as Jose Stable was at what he did – more brilliant, Klitschko has perfected, even defined a certain style where Stable was only a disciple of his – but he does less. That he can now be named a technician is the single harshest indictment of the shrinking pool of skills necessary to achieve greatness in boxing.

And so at last we return to tennis and the final analogy between this less demanding sport and the commitment that is boxing. Nadal is just as technically correct as Federer – more so, perhaps, given the specifics of the era, produced by graphite rackets – but Federer’s skilful backhander opens up a whole world of new and more varied techniques.

“Roger Federer,” writes Skidelsky, “made tennis beautiful again.” Whether or not it will be beautiful enough to see Federer to yet another Wimbledon title remains to be seen (he had qualified for the second round at the time of writing), but it’s unlikely we will ever see a return to the beauty of boxing as is it appears in the time of Stable and Scott. I don’t say that boxing was better then – fights like Segura-Marquez and Matthysse-Molina render that opinion invalid – but I do say it was deeper, richer.

I reach for it with the same sense of nostalgia with which Skidelsky reaches for Federer, nostalgia for a time I never knew.

Stable beat Scott by a unanimous decision. At the final bell they embraced, and walked the ring, arm in arm.


Featured Articles

Three Punch Combo: Jacobs-Derevyanchenko on HBO, Baranchyk-Yigit and More



This Saturday, Daniel Jacobs (34-2, 29 KO’s) takes on Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KO’s) for the vacant IBF middleweight title. The fight, which headlines an HBO World Championship Boxing tripleheader, is highly anticipated in boxing circles as on paper it is an evenly matched contest with a wide range of potential outcomes. The fight also bears an eerie resemblance to another middleweight title fight from more than twenty years ago.

On March 16th, 1996, then IBF middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins (28-2-1, 21 KO’s) faced off against the IBF’s number one ranked contender in Joe Lipsey (25-0, 20 KO’s). Opinions were split as to who would come out as the victor. It was televised live in the United States on ABC in the afternoon and served as a precursor for that evening’s big pay-per-view event between Mike Tyson and Frank Bruno.

Hopkins, 31 at the time, had fought much better opposition and those who favored him thought his experience along with his better athleticism would lead him to victory. Lipsey, who was 29, had a burgeoning reputation in the fight game and was known for his relentless pressure style. In addition, he had displayed devastating one punch knockout power in both hands that had many thinking he had a bright future in the sport.

It was the experience and ring savviness of Hopkins versus the untapped raw potential of Lipsey.

As it played out, Hopkins’ skill proved too much for Lipsey. After effectively out-boxing and neutralizing the aggression of Lipsey for three rounds, Hopkins landed a perfectly placed counter right uppercut using Lipsey’s forward momentum against him that instantly ended matters. It was a statement making performance for Hopkins.

Jacobs, 31, is in a similar spot to that of Hopkins when he faced Lipsey. With two losses on his ledger, Jacobs is in need of a statement making victory. One of those losses was to Gennady Golovkin and, of course, Hopkins entered the Lipsey contest with one of his losses to all-time great Roy Jones Jr.

Jacobs holds a significant experience edge in the pro game compared to that of Derevyanchenko. Jacobs is also the more athletic fighter. Similar to that of Hopkins against Lipsey, Jacobs will look to play the role of the boxer-puncher and use his experience along with athleticism to dictate the tempo of the fight.

Derevyanchenko, 32, comes in highly touted. Similar to Joe Lipsey in 1996, he enters with an undefeated record along with a glossy knockout percentage and many in the sport see a fighter with raw untapped potential.

The similarities between Jacobs-Derevyanchenko and Hopkins-Lipsey are striking. Will history repeat itself or will Derevyanchenko be able to rise to the occasion?


The World Boxing Super Series 140-pound tournament resumes this week with a pair of fights in New Orleans. While the fans will be mostly showing up to watch the main event between hometown rising star Regis Prograis (22-0, 19 KO’s) and Terry Flanagan (33-1, 13 KO’s), it is the other WBSS fight, pitting Ivan Baranchyk against Anthony Yigit for the vacant IBF title that piques my interest.

Baranchyk (18-0, 11 KOs) is well known to US fight fans from his multiple appearances on the ShoBox series on Showtime on which he has scored some highlight reel knockouts. He is an aggressive pressure fighter with heavy handed power. He has been showing signs of improved boxing skills of late and is coming off a career best performance in knocking out former world title challenger Petr Petrov.

Yigit (21-0-1, 7 KOs) is a former decorated amateur who participated in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. A southpaw with quick feet and good hand speed, Yigit is an excellent counterpuncher who is adept at using feints to bait his opponents to throw to set up counter opportunities. He is also very slick and uses good head movement, making him not an easy target to hit.

This is a classic matchup of an aggressive pressure fighter against a skilled slick boxer. Baranchyk has the buzz and will be favored, but Yigit’s style and skill could present a major challenge for him. It’s a very compelling fight,.

The Journey of Yuandale Evans

On April 24th, 2010 I hit the road to attend a club show in a suburb of Cleveland. I wanted to get a firsthand look at a local fighter named Yuandale Evans who was headlining the 6-fight card. The venue was a small indoor soccer complex and tickets were only $20. There was no assigned seating and I had no problem finding a ringside seat for the evening’s festivities.

Evans did not disappoint. Fighting in front of the sparse audience, he dispatched an opponent named Reymundo Hernandez in the first round. I liked what I saw from Evans and thought he had a bright future in boxing.

A year later, Evans found himself on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fight Series in a step-up fight against veteran Emmanuel Lucero. This was a coming out party for Evans as he impressively took apart the former world title challenger. There was speed, athleticism and power in his game and many took notice.

Nine months later, Evans found himself in a significant fight. It was another date on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fight Series but this time against a fellow undefeated fighter in Javier Fortuna. Fortuna had been getting a lot of buzz and if Evans could defeat him then he’d find himself on the brink of a world title opportunity.

On March 16th, 1996, then IBF middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins (28-2-1, 21 KO’s) faced off against the IBF’s number one ranked contender in Joe Lipsey (25-0, 20 KO’s). Opinions were split as to who would come out as the victor. It was te

But the Fortuna fight did not go well for Evans. As a matter of fact, it was disastrous.  Fortuna scored a vicious, highlight reel first round knockout of Evans, the kind of knockout loss that a lot of fighters never recover. from.

It appeared for a while that Evans would not get back in the game. Out for three years, he finally returned in 2015 with two wins against less than stellar competition. These wins were needed confidence boosters.

After those bounce back wins, it took another 17 months for Evans to return to the ring. This time it was his first major test since the Fortuna loss in facing Billel Dib. Brought in as the “B” side, Evans was supposed to be a name on the resume for Dib, but he flipped the script, scoring a clear ten round unanimous decision.

The win against Dib, which took place in the 130-pound division, put Evans back on the radar. But it was his next performance that put him into contention. Dropping down to featherweight and again coming in as the underdog, he scored a rousing split decision win against Louis Rosa in November of 2017 in a fiercely fought contest that received Fight of the Year consideration. Evans fought with passion and determination to secure the best win of his career.

Evans, now 20-1 with 14 KO’s, will challenge undefeated 130 pound champion Alberto Machado next week. Evans is once again an underdog and not many are giving him much of a chance. But if Evans fights like he did against Rosa and can stay inside on Machado, applying constant pressure, we could be in for another surprise.

Evans has come a long way since I first saw him fight at a small indoor soccer venue in Ohio and I for one do not discount his chances to lift Machado’s world title belt.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel


Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Andrade Grabs Vacant WBO Middleweight Belt in Boston



TD GARDEN​​ — It’s a good thing Eddie Hearn didn’t listen to the people who told him not to promote prizefighting in Boston. With all four major American sports in full swing in the city, Matchroom Boxing absolutely rocked the house as an equitable fan attraction in New England.The media was out in full force and so were the fans. At the final fight week press conference, Hearn introduced ESPN’s Dan Rafael before he even barked for his boxers. “You know it’s a big card when Dan Rafael shows up,” he said of the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer award winner for career excellence in journalism. Hearn knows it’s about building hype and that’s what he’s doing.

Sugar Ray Leonard was on the mic for DAZN. Paulie Malignaggi was doing the same for Sky Sports. I saw Micky Ward and Conor McGregor seated at ringside. Mike Tyson conqueror Kevin “The Clones Colossus” McBride was also spotted in the mix throughout the night.

“We did about five thousand in Chicago,” Hearn told me of his first Matchoom USA show October 6 on DAZN. Hearn expected about seven thousand for Boston, hoping for a good walk-up crowd. “I’m pleased with ticket sales. I’m pleased with the venue. If the fans are happy and enjoy a great night at the fights and if they want us back, we’d love to return,” he said.

Hearn’s originally scheduled main event fell apart in September when Billy Joe Saunders controversially failed VADA drug testing for the banned stimulant oxilofrine. “Unfortunately Billy Joe failed a drug test. I don’t think the Massachusetts Commission had any choice in denying him a license,” Hearn told me during the final fight week press conference at Fenway Park.

Saunders was to defend the WBO middleweight title against Providence, Rhode Island’s Demetrius Andrade. Instead, Saunders was stripped of his strap and unknown African champ Walter ​Kautondokwa stepped in to face Andrade for the vacant WBO 160 pound title. “I’m too old to fight nobodies now,” said the 30 year-old Andrade without a trace of irony. In fact, Andrade’s whole pro career has been carefully built on soft touches and vacant ABC championships.

Hearn’s undercard also suffered a hit when popular local junior welterweight Danny “BHOY” O’Connor pulled out of his bout against Tommy Coyle, citing injury. According to Hearn, “​O’Connor was working very hard in camp but I don’t think it was going particularly well.”

The live crowd in attendance at the Garden was loud and enthusiastic. In a full sized entertainment venue that seats close to twenty thousand fans and with promotional aspirations optimistically set at half that number (official attendance was listed at 6,874), your best chance to have seen these fights for yourself was on the emerging and effective streaming app DAZN.

For Brits stuck back home it was on Sky Sports.  For everybody else, I’m here to ringside report.

In the Main Event for the vacant WBO middleweight championship, Providence, Rhode Island’s Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade, 30, 160, 26-0 (16) dominated Namibian import Walter Kautondokwa, 33, 17-1 (16). ​A stablemate of former super lightweight champ Julius Indongo, Kautondokwa drew inspiration from his countryman’s international accomplishments in boxing. Indongo parlayed the WBO African title into an eventual unification showdown with Terence Crawford in Nebraska. “He’s definitely not stopping this train,” promised Andrade at the weigh-in.

He was right.

In the first round, ​Kautondokwa slipped to the canvas and Andrade hit him on the chin while he was on all fours. Referee Steve Willis ruled it a knockdown, rather than reacting to the foul. Kautondokwa pushed the action in the second but Andrade scored with the cleaner punches. In the third, Andrade scored a clean knockdown with a flush left hand to the chin. The challenger rose and answered the bell for the fourth down by two extra points. Kautondokwa went down again twice more in the fourth leaving Andrade with a look like, “What more do I have to do?”

As the rounds wore on and on, Andrade found the answer to be elusive, even if Kautondokwa wasn’t terribly so. His best power punches were either missing or being blocked, and Kautondokwa was proving durable. By the championship rounds, it was clear that Andrade wouldn’t be able to stop the train that was Kautondokwa. The energy in the live crowd suffered accordingly. Michael Buffer announced what was already known, that Andrade won a virtual shutout on the cards.  Scores were 120-104(2x) and 119-105.

“I did what I had to do. I could see that he was tough. It was good to get those twelve rounds in because I’ve been inactive,” said Andrade at the post-fight press conference. He also spoke of a fight week injury to his left shoulder that affected his performance and prevented a knockout. To be perfectly honest, it sounded like an excuse for not finishing off a badly hurt fighter.

In her de facto Irish Homecoming, Katie Taylor, 32, Bray, 11-0 (5) successfully defended her WBA/IBF female lightweight titles against the very experienced Cindy Serrano, 36, Brooklyn, 27-6-3 (10), over ten two-minute rounds. Serrano was moving up in weight to challenge Taylor, who’s already made two title defenses this year in London and in Brooklyn. Serrano was never in danger of being hurt or knocked out and Taylor was never in any danger of losing the fight.  Taylor won every round on all three cards 100-90.  “Cindy was just in there to survive,” said a disappointed Taylor.  Some fans jeered the “action” but it didn’t bother Serrano. “Eddie Hearn believes in female fighting. Hopefully he can turn it around and we can get a couple more promoters just like him.”

To make the first defense of his newly won IBF super featherweight championship, Philly southpaw Tevin “American Idol” Farmer, 27-4-1 (6), stopped Belfast KRONK’s James Tennyson, 22-3 (18) in five. During promotion for the title bout, it looked for all to see that Farmer was overlooking Tennyson with his focus squarely on a big money grudge match with Gervonta Davis. ​“I’m not overlooking James but I want to fight Tank Davis. I have to have that fight and it’s got to happen. Let’s leave the streets on the streets and fight in the ring. We’ve talked enough.”

In the ring, Farmer looked at his opponent and punched right through him. In the fourth frame, Farmer dropped Tennyson with a solid left hook to the body. It got no better for the Belfast native. The next round, Arthur Mercante stopped it when Tennyson fell again from body shots. ​In accepting the fight, Farmer’s promoter Lou DiBella didn’t want to deny his fighter the opportunity to appear on such a high profile card so he willingly worked with Hearn to make it happen.  Time of the TKO was @1:44 of the round 5.

In an IBF featherweight elimination bout scheduled for twelve, Evander Holyfield’s Toka Kahn Clary, Providence, R.I., 25-3 (17), dropped a pedestrian UD to Ingle Gym’s Kid Galahad, Sheffield, 25-0 (15). At the press conference in August to announce the match-up, there was bad blood in the air. “Toka is a bum,” a chippy Galahad told me at Boston’s Faneuil Hall. “He didn’t want this fight. He was talking trash so I called him a wanker and it got a little out of hand.”

“I’m gonna beat him,” Galahad promised.

At the final press conference, Galahad was demonstrably more peaceful. During the media face-off with Kahn, he offered his hand to shake but Toka just left it hanging there. “I’ve calmed down,” Kid told me. “Nothing personal, just business.” ​Is Toka a bum?​ “You can’t call him a bum.” ​You did Kid.​ “I might have gone over the top. Any fighter that gets in the ring you gotta have some respect for. Toka is gonna show up and my job is to make sure I do a job on him.”  Job well done, Kid.  Final scores were 118-110 twice and 115-113.

In an entertaining ten round junior welterweight scrap, Tommy “Boom Boom” Coyle, Hull, Yorkshire, U.K., 25-4 (12), outpointed Ryan Kielczweski, Quincy, Mass, 29-4 (11) over the distance. Unanimous scores were 99-90, 98-91 and 96-93. The “Polish Prince” substituted for Danny O’Connor against Coyle, a fighter TSS’s own Ted Sares expected Ryan to have had his hands full with in a knockout loss; describing Coyle as a “load” in the ring. In the seventh round, Kielczweski was felled by a massive right hand to the body and a vicious follow up left hook to the head. He took a long nine count but got up to then stalk a fading Coyle down the stretch.  “This is the most ready I’ve been for any fight,” Kielczweski told me before the bout. “I fought in September. A week later I got a call for this one so it’s like I’m on a ten week training camp.”

Coyle is a pressure fighter and an interesting character. Kielczweski struggled to keep him at bay but landed with several quality power shots of his own, many coming in the last three rounds—after the knockdown. Calling this his “American Dream” come true, Coyle grew up in England loving ROCKY movies and Irish Micky Ward fights. Tonight, he was almost in one.

In a super featherweight comeback bout, former super bantamweight and featherweight champion Scott Quigg, 30, Bury, U.K., 35-2-2 (26) made a successful return against journeyman Mexican Mario Briones, 29-8-2 (21), stopping him in two rounds with an unanswered three punch combination along the ropes. Trained by Freddie Roach, Quigg was defeated last March by WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez in a bruising non-title bout. Quigg suffered multiple facial laceration and a broken nose in the unanimous decision loss. “I want a rematch with Valdez and with Carl Frampton because I want to avenge my losses. If I’d be happy not fighting them again, I’d be in the wrong game,” a candid Quigg told me. “The work Freddie’s had me doing and the sparring I’m on, I feel like I’m a ten times better fighter now.”

In a junior middleweight rematch, Murphys Boxing U.S. Marine Mark “Bazooka” DeLuca, Whitman, Mass, 22-1 (13) outgunned Walter “2 Guns” Wright 37, Seattle, Washington 17-5 (8) to defeat the only man to have beaten him as a pro, winning 97-93, and 96-94 twice. From ringside I scored it 6-4 in rounds for DeLuca who scored well early with left hooks. Wright did well in the middle rounds on the inside when DeLuca was tiring but it wasn’t enough. Though his promoter Ken Casey questioned the outcome of the first fight last June in N.H., DeLuca told me it was tight. “But he got me,” he admitted. Wright didn’t understand the manufactured controversy. “I won. To come across the country, fight the local guy, and beat him, I should think I’d get my props for winning. My performance should outweigh politics.” On this night, Wright’s good but not good enough performance earned him an appropriately scored unanimous decision loss.

There was no protest from Wright with the verdict.


In the show opener, super lightweight southpaw Sean McComb from Belfast improved to 4-0 (3), outclassing 37 year-old Peruvian Carlos Galindo, 1-6. Galindo’s only win came against Maine’s Brandon Berry last June in N.H. This was McComb’s first appearance outside the U.K. Galindo took a body beating and the fight was stopped in the third after a pair of knockdowns.

Accompanied to the ring by middleweight corker Spike O’Sullivan, Murphys Boxing’s Gorey, Ireland heavyweight Niall Kennedy 221.6, 12-0-1 (7) took a few to give a few against New Jersey’s Brendan Barrett 238, 7-1-2 (5), including a hip-toss and a headlock. The 6’3” Kennedy used his good left jab and strong right cross to earn a unanimous six round decision, dropping the stocky Barrett in the fifth with a brutal right hand. Official scores: 60-53 twice and 58-55.

Kazakh Olympic Gold medalist welterweight prospect Daniyar Yeleussinov improved to 4-0 (2) against Salem, Mass “Mantis” Matt Doherty, 8-6-1 (4). Doherty wore a J.D. Martinez Red Sox jersey to the ring but he was outgunned. The 27 year-old southpaw finished Doherty off with a barrage of unanswered punches in the first round and referee Arthur Mercante waved a halt.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Rob Brant is the New WBA Middleweight Champion



LAS VEGAS, Nevada- In a major upset that saw a mega fight disappear, Rob Brant took the WBA middleweight title from Japan’s Ryota Murata with a lot of hustle and a heck of a chin to the surprise of many on Saturday.

Murata (14-2,11KOs) was expected to fight Gennady “GGG” Golovkin if he won, but the dress rehearsal turned into a nightmare as Brant (24-1, 16 KOs) attacked and attacked while out-punching the Japanese fighter nearly two to one in front of a stunned audience of more than 2700 at the Park Theater at the MGM.

“This was one of the best moments of my life, said Brant. “I wasn’t thinking of punch output. I was thinking about winning.”

With many planning their trips to Tokyo for an expected showdown between Murata and Golovkin, the Las Vegas based Brant put a stick into the spokes of their travel plans.

Brant started quickly with combination punching and moving in and out of range during the first three rounds of the middleweight bout. Murata smiled throughout the incoming blows from the upstart Brant.

“It’s easy to smile, but his eyes were swollen and he had blood on his mouthpiece,” said Brant.

It wasn’t until the fourth round that Murata found life while attacking the body.

The body punches opened up the lead right cross for Murata, who began targeting Brant’s head. But the Minnesota native was able to absorb the big blows and kept firing back. Though Brant was landing more shots, Murata’s punches were clearly harder and landed with a thud.

The crowd got into the fight early as cheers of “USA! USA!” were shouted sporadically throughout the fight. It probably had an effect on the judges.

It seemed Murata was landing the more effective blows in the middle rounds, especially when he targeted the body, then switched to the head. But though they were hard punches, Brant moved backward and kept returning fire.

The action was measured, but constant, with no slow rounds after round three. At times it looked like Murata was about to score a knockout but it never came. Brant proved resilient. More than that, he convinced the three judges he was the winner 119-109(2x) and 118-110.

Only the widespread scores were surprising. It seemed like a much closer fight.

Dudashev prevails

Maxim Dudashev (12-0, 10 KOs) tried to blast it out with Mexico’s Antonio DeMarco (33-7-1, 24 KOs), but after taking heavy incoming fire, the undefeated super lightweight changed tactics and out-boxed the former world champion to win by unanimous decision.

Dudashev moved around just enough and used quick short combinations to out-score the long-armed Tijuana fighter after the midway point of the 10-round affair. Though DeMarco was able to score with heavy body shots  and lead lefts to the head, Dudashev managed to fire off combinations that kept winning rounds in the second half of the fight. The judges scored the fight 97-93, 96-94, 98-92 for Dudashev. scored it 96-94 for Dudashev, who keeps the NABF super lightweight title.

“This was a great learning experience for me,” said Dudashev. “DeMarco is a true champion, and he fought with great heart and determination.”

Falcao and other bouts

Brazil’s Esquiva Falcao (22-0, 15 KOs) showcased his various boxing skills against Argentina’s Guido Pitto (25-6-2, 8 KOs) who lost by unanimous decision but forced the undefeated fighter into various situations. In the first four rounds, Falcao fought from the outside with impunity as Pitto was unable to touch the Brazilian. But when the Argentine boxer took the fight inside, he found more success and forced Falcao to utilize his inside boxing skills. The fighting was intense but Falcao was just too strong and slightly quicker in winning every round in the 10 round middleweight fight. Pitto’s best moments came during the fifth round when he forced his way inside. All three judges saw it 100-90 for Falcao.

Ireland’s Michael Conlan (9-0, 6 KOs) battered Nicola Cipolletta (14-7-2) every round with rights to the body and head. The Italian boxer rarely fired back and after several unanswered blows by Cipolletta the referee Russell Mora stopped the featherweight fight @1:55 of round seven. Cipolletta protested the stoppage but never truly engaged Conlan, who must have connected on more than 60 percent of his punches thrown. It was a whitewash for the former Irish Olympian.

Vladimir Nikitin (2-0) won by unanimous decision over Louisiana’s Clay Burns (5-5-2) in a featherweight fight that was much closer than the scores given. Burns started out fast and easily won the first two rounds. Then the battle got much closer as Nikitin’s overhand rights began scoring. Burns switched to southpaw and switched back and forth and that gave Nikitin pause. The last two rounds were very close especially the final round. But all three judges scored it 59-55 for Nikitin, thus only giving Burns one round. It was much closer in reality.

A battle between undefeated Puerto Rican lightweights saw Joseph Adorno (10-0, 9 KOs) drop Kevin Cruz (8-1, 5 KOs) twice in winning by unanimous decision. Though Adorno’s knockout streak was snapped, he engaged in a spirited battle against left-handed Cruz who let loose in the sixth and final round. A counter left hook by Adorno floored Cruz the second time during a furious exchange. Cruz beat the count and tried his best to go for the knockout; Adorno scooted away until the final bell. Scores of 59-53(2x) and 58-54 for Adorno.

Adam Lopez (11-1, 5 KOs) won by knockout over Hector Ambriz (12-8-2) in a featherweight match. The end came @1:29 of the eighth and final round of the fight when Lopez fired a four punch combination that forced referee Tony Weeks to halt the fight though Ambriz was still standing.

Uzbekistan’s Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (6-0, 3 KOs) stopped veteran Wilberth Lopez (23-10, 15 KOs) with a series of body blows @2:13 of round two in a super lightweight contest between lefties.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading