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One Can’t Fight (Fury) And One Didn’t (Klitschko)

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I can’t remember ever watching a heavyweight championship fight and simultaneously laughing and crying at the same time. Which is precisely what I did during the Wladimir Klitschko 64-4 (53) vs. Tyson Fury 25-0 (18) championship bout this past Saturday. I should’ve trusted my initial instincts which screamed at me to watch the “Iron Bowl” also known as Alabama vs. Auburn.

Can you even say it with a straight face – “Tyson Fury heavyweight boxing champion of the world?!” There have been some very limited heavyweight champs over the past 100 years. But at least you could say Jess Willard was as strong as an Ox, Max Baer’s right hand was a genuine life-taker. Leon Spinks at his best was non-stop aggression, Buster Douglas could box and punch a little bit when in supreme shape and John Ruiz was as tough and determined as a fighter could be. Whereas Tyson Fury can’t break an egg, he isn’t aggressive and he certainly can’t box like Douglas and I doubt he has the grit and determination of Ruiz.

It’s been said in this space for years that Wldimir Klitschko doesn’t like fist or the threat of them flying around or near his face. So much so that whether the opponent is big or small relative to him, if they throw bombs or even threaten to do so, he’ll stall and clinch and look to punch when he thinks it’s safe. And that was certainly evidenced during the 12 uneventful rounds Klitschko spent in the ring with Fury trying to hold onto his IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight titles. It’s hard to fathom after watching him fight Tyson Fury that Wladimir Klitschko held the heavyweight title for nine consecutive years. Longer than Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. Only the immortal Joe Louis’ reign of 12 consecutive years is longer than Klitschko’s.

Prior to the bout I couldn’t pick Fury to win, but I felt he was a live underdog because of his awkwardness and the fact that Wladimir was aging in dog-years. It was shockingly amazing to see Klitschko blunted and stunted by Fury’s lateral movement, feints and clinching. It was apparent Wladimir was truly bothered and troubled by a fighter with equal height and reach to him. He was also a sitting duck, due to his lack of head movement, to Fury’s telegraphed looping right hands to the head. Klitschko showed that he is utterly clueless at cutting off the ring, and won’t cut loose with his right hand, perhaps the biggest single power shot in professional boxing, unless his target is stationary or moving into him. And the thought of trying to bang Fury to the body or on the inside when Tyson was attempting to wrap him up in a clinch was nonexistent. It was always noted that Wladimir couldn’t fight on the inside, something that would’ve paid huge dividends against a giraffe like Fury.

One hates to admonish a fighter who has accomplished so much as Klitschko has since turning pro nearly 20 years ago, but let’s be honest, watching that bout, did you see any evidence that Fury can throw any punch other than a jab? His left hook is a slap, he has no uppercut and his right hand you can see coming a mile away. Yet Klitschko stood in front of Fury and instead of initiating the action, he waited and flinched at every flimsy feint by Fury. Wladimir was frozen offensively by Tyson’s amateurish bouncing around the ring with his hands down by his hips. And one must ask why? Because the few times Fury did manage to get through with a wild looping right hand, Wladimir wasn’t the least bit shook. Oh, his nerves caused him to become undone some but he wasn’t visibly hurt, and yet he still wouldn’t let his hands go.

In round 10 when Klitschko realized the fight was slipping away he looked to pick it up, and even then he was a half-step too far away because he wasn’t willing to commit himself to engaging without his focus mostly on getting out without being touched or hit in the process. Perhaps the most troubling thing about the fight was, not only did Klitschko get schooled by a fighter whose biggest asset is height/length and awkwardness, it was the way he let round after round go by and refused to fight like a wounded animal in trying to hold onto his title and prevent the perception observers have of him from falling further than it has in the eyes of many over the years. Can anyone imagine “Smokin” Joe Frazier or Evander Holyfield relinquishing their title to Tyson Fury with such little resistance or fight? I know I can’t.

As fighters, Wladimir Klitschko can do everything in the ring that a fighter can be asked to do over another better than Tyson Fury. Yet Fury showed up doing a cheap impression of Muhammad Ali via his antics and mockery while circling to the left and Klitschko was clearly stymied. Had Klitschko been able to land one good right hand and shake Fury, Tyson would’ve lost some of his nerve and Wladimir’s confidence would’ve escalated. But that never happened and Fury’s confidence grew with each passing round as Klitschko became an interested observer.

After 12-rounds of inept boxing, two things are clear. Wladimir Klitschko won’t fight and Tyson Fury can’t fight, at least not at the championship level despite waking up this morning as world heavyweight champion. He’s just very lucky to have been in with a fighter like Wladimir Klitschko who has gone back physically as a fighter. And on this night demonstrated that when he doesn’t own every physical advantage conceivable over his opponent, is very limited and physically handcuffed by his mental trepidation.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedGFist@Gmail.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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