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Wilder Answers All Questions versus Ortiz and Shows He’s Legit

Just when you thought boxing’s upswing couldn’t gain any more momentum, WBC heavyweight title holder Deontay Wilder and feared contender Luis Ortiz delivered

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Just when you thought boxing’s upswing couldn’t gain any more momentum, WBC heavyweight title holder Deontay Wilder and feared contender Luis Ortiz delivered an action-packed slugfest this past Saturday night at the Barclays Center in New York. Wilder’s thrilling 10th round TKO of Ortiz further fueled the desire to see him face WBA/IBF and maybe soon to be WBO titlist Anthony Joshua later this year, and if Joshua crushes WBO title holder Joseph Parker later this month Joshua-Wilder becomes Epic.

Prior to the fight I was a Wilder skeptic and thought his team only agreed to the fight because they either knew that Ortiz 28-1 (24) was there to go through the motions as an opponent or he was past the point of being a hurdle too high for Wilder to leap. So let’s clear the air – it was a legitimate and impressive win for Wilder 40-0 (39). No, Ortiz may not be quite as live as he was against Bryant Jennings back in December of 2015 and that perhaps was the wiggle room Wilder needed, but make no mistake about it, Ortiz would’ve defeated any other active heavyweight this past weekend whose last name isn’t Wilder or Joshua.

The bout started slowly but Ortiz’s southpaw style, flicking jab, subtle pressure and instinctive counter-punching had Wilder completely bewildered and in retreat searching for an answer. In fact there were times when Wilder was hesitant to punch and only parried his shots because he feared being countered.

Then Wilder got through in the fifth and knocked Ortiz down with his signature right hand after losing most of the round. This was the first round I scored for Wilder and he shaded the sixth with neither fighter doing much. In the seventh Wilder was tested like he never was before. Ortiz teed off and cuffed him all over the ring, landing his Sunday best and Wilder, despite probably being saved by the bell, summoned great reserve and refused to go down.

The start of the eighth was delayed about 10 seconds when referee David Fields called on the ring doctor to examine Wilder although Deontay was neither cut nor injured as TV commentator Paulie Malignaggi pointed out. The extra seconds aided Wilder’s recovery but it didn’t alter the result of the fight. Deontay, using every holding tactic in the book, survived the eighth round and Ortiz’s chance was lost. The ninth round was close but it was Wilder’s and you could sense the momentum changing.

The 10th round is when Wilder’s arrival as an elite heavyweight should be noted. Sensing Ortiz was having doubts and tiring, along with thinking he was behind, Wilder exploded. He cut loose and overwhelmed Ortiz with right hands and wild left hooks and with the assistance of a half shove Ortiz went down, but it was ruled a slip. When he got up Wilder clipped him on the temple and Ortiz went down. When he arose he was hurt and nearly helpless as Wilder again erupted and then landed his most technically thrown punch of the night, a textbook right uppercut that sank Ortiz and the fight was waved off. One thing is for sure – Wilder showed he is quite capable of finishing his opponent once they’re in trouble.

At the time of the stoppage Wilder inexplicably led 85-84 on all three judges’ scorecards. I had it 87-83 Ortiz going into the 10th round. The fact that the judges scored the fight the way they did and the shenanigans by the referee at the start of the eighth round are the reasons why there are so many skeptics when huge money is resting on the result of a big fight. In reality, Wilder won three of the nine completed rounds and was beaten at every turn in the others. The actions of the referee and scoring by the judges leaves you thinking that if Wilder didn’t get stopped there’s no way he was going to lose. Also, it was brought out on Showtime’s broadcast that Ortiz’s reach and height were overstated, leading me to question how much did they stretch the truth regarding his age?

Thankfully Wilder didn’t need any help or interference from the judges or referee and his gloved fist delivered the defining win of his career in spectacular fashion. Last April when Anthony Joshua rallied back after being down and hurt in his signature fight against Wladimir Klitschko, he was lauded for his heart and toughness. As Joshua did versus Klitschko, Wilder dropped Ortiz three times. More beaten up and hurt than Joshua was by Klitschko, Deontay managed to overcome tremendous adversity, so he should receive the same accolades as Joshua.

Wilder isn’t pretty to watch and he does many things in an amateurish fashion and after fighting 10 years as a pro that’s just who he is. But he has quick hands, he’s awkward and has fight-altering power in his right hand. It can no longer be said Wilder hasn’t fought anybody or that we don’t know about his chin or stamina because now we do. Deontay passed the biggest test of his career and exhibited for all to see that if he fights Anthony Joshua and loses it won’t be because AJ’s heart is bigger or he’s been more tested at the elite level. His showing against Ortiz makes the impending fight with Joshua even more anticipated now because we can say for certain he won’t fold the second he is met with a crisis.

For those hoping to see Wilder look like a sound technician, forget it. He’s an unorthodox long range puncher who has porous defense and balance. But he doesn’t have to be Joe Louis to thrive today; he only has one fighter above him that he needs to beat; Joshua.  Wilder doesn’t have a great chin and he was hurt a few times against Ortiz but he knows how to survive. Actually, he reminds me of Thomas Hearns in that regard. Like Hearns, you can get him in trouble with one punch but you have to hit him a hundred times good to stop him as Hearns proved in his three fights with Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler. The difference is Hearns was a superior boxer and technician with two good hands. However, Hearns fought between 147 and 175 where the track is much faster and more competitive than it is in the heavyweight division. So Wilder doesn’t have to be a heavyweight Hearns to beat Joshua or anyone else in the division.

Granted, Wilder isn’t Sonny Liston, George Foreman or Lennox Lewis, but at the moment at worst he’s the second best heavyweight in the world. Prior to seeing Wilder fight Ortiz, I would’ve picked Joshua to beat him in the ring, in the Octagon or arm wrestling. Yes, I still favor Joshua to beat Wilder if they meet, but now I’m much more open to the possibility of an upset.

The time has come for all to acknowledge that Deontay Wilder isn’t a fraud. He has a huge heart and will to win. Add to that he carries his power throughout the fight and isn’t afraid to let his hands go when the result is on the line. I’d say that qualifies him as being a full-fledged threat to Joshua or any other fighter in the opposite corner.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Fast Results From London: Joshua Takes Out Povetkin in the 7th

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It was a very wet night at Wembley Stadium, but the dampness didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd which welcomed UK sporting hero Anthony Joshua into the ring with a thunderous ovation. And Joshua didn’t disappoint. After six relatively even rounds, he found his range in the seventh and became the first man to stop Alexander Povetkin. A three punch combo that began with an overhand right sent Povetkin sprawling into the ropes. The Russian beat the count, but Joshua smelled blood and as soon as the ref allowed the proceedings to continue he moved in for the kill. The official time was 1:59.

Povetkin started fast and in the eyes of many observers won the first three rounds. A sharp right hand in the waning seconds of round one reddened Joshua’s nose which leaked blood in the next round. The tide began to turn in round four when Povetkin suffered a cut above his left eye.

Povetkin (now 34-2), was the lighter man by 23 pounds. Joshua had a four inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage. And it mattered greatly that AJ was the younger man by 10-plus years. Povetkin wasn’t intimidated by Joshua and had several good moments but, at age 39, his reflexes betrayed him once the fight had crossed the midpoint.

Joshua, who owns three of the four meaningful heavyweight title belts, improved to 22-0 with his 21st stoppage. His next fight is penciled in for April 13 of next year against an opponent to be determined. His promoter Eddie Hearn has reserved that date at Wembley Stadium.

Other Bouts

In a 12-round lightweight bout, Joshua’s Olympic Games teammate and fellow gold medalist Luke Campbell (19-2) avenged the first loss of his career with a unanimous decision (119-109, 118-111,116-112) over France’s Yvan Mendy (40-5-1). This was Campbell’s second start since coming up short in a bid for Jorge Linares’s lightweight title and his first fight under his new trainer Shane McGuigan.

In their first meeting in December of 2015 at London’s O2 Arena, Mendy won a split decision that should have been unanimous. Campbell insisted that he had improved greatly in the interim and tonight’s fight bore witness. However, he needs to develop a harder punch to rank among the top lightweights in the world, a list headed by Mikey Garcia. As this fight was framed as a WBC title eliminator, Campbell is next in line to meet Garcia, but Mikey has indicated that he will pursue bigger game.

Lawrence Okolie, a 2016 Olympian who trains with Anthony Joshua, won a Lonsdale belt in only his 10th pro start with a 12-round decision over defending BBBofC cruiserweight champion Matty Askin in a messy fight. The undefeated Okolie had a point deducted in round five for leading with his head and had two more points deducted for holding, but banked enough rounds to get the nod on all three cards: 116-110, 114-112, and 114-113. Askin, who declined to 23-4-1, had won five straight heading in.

A 10-round heavyweight match between Sergey Kuzmin (13-0, 1 NC) and David Price (22-6) ended suddenly when Price retired on his stool after four relatively even rounds. The six-foot-eight, china-chinned Price claimed to have aggravated a biceps tear.

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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

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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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