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AVILA RINGSIDE: Krusher Retains Titles by KO in Las Vegas



LAS VEGAS-Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev dominated France’s Nadjib Mohammedi from the opening bell and ended it with a flourish to win by knockout and keep three light heavyweight world titles on Saturday.

In the boxing capital of the world, WBA, IBF and WBO champion Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 Kos) displayed his flashing fists and tremendous power in front of a Las Vegas crowd at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Mohammedi (38-4, 23 Kos) didn’t seem to stand a chance of winning at all.

Kovalev may be known for his power but let Mohammedi know that his buttery smooth boxing skills are an overlooked asset as he jabbed effectively in the first round and attacked the body sporadically in the first round. It was easy pickings for Krusher.

The second round saw Kovalev open up the artillery with some lightning right leads from his long right hand reach that seemed to stretch across the ring. Mohammedi seemed perplexed by the reach and the quickness of Kovalev’s blows. A sudden five-punch combination floored Mohammedi. Though he beat the count he was met with some heavy body shots and a final left hook at the end of the round. But somehow he survived.

“After the knockdown I knew I was in a fight. I started to catch him with shots,” Mohammedi said. “Kovalev is a skilled fighter and it takes time to figure him out. Unfortunately I got a thumb in the eye.”

In the third round Kovalev seemed to smell the end and launched another batch of long rights that had Mohammedi on his heels. The French fighter launched a left hook that connected but not enough to stop the oncoming avalanche. A right cross-left hook combination drilled Mohammedi and put him on the floor again. Referee Kenny Bayless looked at the fallen fighter and waved the fight over at 2:38 of the round.

“I wanted more rounds. I wanted him to look like clown. I wanted him to look foolish. I don’t even know how I knocked him down. I only wish I could have given the fans a longer fight,” said Kovalev. “I’m very happy I got the victory. I gave my best. I told him to stand up. It was a short show. I wanted to continue. I tried to continue longer this fight.”

It wasn’t to be. Kovalev was just too good for Mohammedi.

Pascal wins

In a fierce light heavyweight battle Jean Pascal (30-3-1, 17 Kos) managed a close but unanimous decision win over Cuba’s Yuniesky Gonzalez (16-1, 12 Kos) after ten rounds. Fans booed and fans cheered.

Gonzalez wasted little time showing that he was trying to blow out Pascal. A big left hook drilled the former light heavyweight champion but that famous chin of his withstood the blow in the first round.

The second round saw both unleash the artillery with fierce exchanges. Gonzalez and Pascal unloaded mind-blowing bombs that each took with surprising ease. The blows kept launching and the bombs kept landing but neither fighter seemed fazed.

Pascal and Gonzalez went most of the 10 rounds in this fashion with neither fighter even close to going down. But the shocking sound of the blows reverberated throughout the arena. After the final furious round all three judges scored it the same 96-94 for Pascal.

The win sets up a possible rematch with Kovalev, who saw a few minutes of the fight.

“What I saw of the fight Gonzalez was much better. I want to fight this guy too. I’m ready for anybody. It is boxing,” said Kovalev.

Other bouts

Sullivan Barrera (16-0, 11 Kos) walked in the ring as the big favorite but France’s Hakim Zoulikha (21-8) was no joke and made the taller fighter earn every second to stay in the ring. After 10 turbulent rounds Sullivan was finally able to connect with a three punch combination on the seemingly invulnerable French light heavyweight. The end came at 1:34 of the eighth round with Barrera winning by knockout.

The two light heavyweights brawled for most of the fight with Zoulikha taking two or three blows to land his big overhand right bombs. They landed continuously but he was unable to connect with the one telling blow.

Sullivan floored Zoulikha with a right hand in the second round but for the next four rounds the two exchanged furiously with neither able to move the other backward. It was like watching Gene Fullmer battle Sugar Ray Robinson though Sullivan’s punches were a bit wide. In the end, a three punch combination by the taller Sullivan sent Zoulikha reeling across the ring. A short left hook drilled Zoulikha for a knockdown. He got up and was met with a barrage of punches including a right uppercut. Referee Russell Mora ended the fight at 1:34 of the eighth round.

A great fight while it lasted.

A junior welterweight clash between Joel Diaz (19-0, 15 Kos) of Palmdale, Calif. and Guadalajara’s Alejandro Rodriguez (24-18-1, 14 Kos) proved one-sided after the first round. Diaz cut down Rodriguez with a potent right counter that dropped the taller Mexican fighter twice in the second round. But he survived.

The end came in round four as Rodriguez tried using his longer reach and holding tactics to stop Diaz’s rushes. An exchange of punches saw Diaz connect with his right inside of Rodriguez’s wide left hook and down he went. Referee Kenny Bayless stopped the fight at 39 seconds of the round.

Diaz trains in Big Bear at Abel Sanchez’s training camp.

In a heavyweight showdown between Californians it was Modesto’s Rodney Hernandez (8-2-1) defeating San Pedro’s Brice Ritani-Coe (4-4-1) by split decision that was more a sparring match than a fight. Ritani fired more punches but with little zest. Hernandez hit harder but seldom unleashed blows. Two judges saw it for Hernandez 58-56. 59-55 and one for Ritani-Coe 58-56.

In a second heavyweight match Cassius Chaney (3-0, 2 Kos) scored a first round knockout over Eduardo Ramirez (1-3) of Yuma, Arizona. The fight ended at 1:55 of the first round when Chaney connected with a left hook.



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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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Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar



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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