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Canelo Wins Mexican Style Rematch by Majority Decision

David A. Avila



Mexican Style

LAS VEGAS-Mexican style erupted and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez proved that it’s not foreign to him as he bested powerful Gennady “GGG” Golovkin to win the middleweight world titles by majority decision on Saturday.

The Mexican redhead Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) proved in his 50th win superior to Mexican style fighter Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) of Kazakhstan before a sold-out crowd of 21,965 screaming fans at T-Mobile Arena. Still, it was close.

After months of name calling and accusations of cheating, plus a suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission because of illegal use of banned drugs, Alvarez abided by the penalty rendered and was supervised by VADA to be eligible to fight Golovkin in the rematch after their first encounter ended in a majority draw.

This time Alvarez cleaned the slate and won by majority decision after 12 turbulent back and forth rounds. The fans were loud in their support for both throughout.

Youth was in Alvarez’s favor and he took advantage with his speed despite standing in striking distance in every round. It was a matter of machismo for the Guadalajara native who had suffered hearing Golovkin’s team claim he did not fight like a Mexican while the middleweight champion did in the first fight.

Alvarez took it to heart.

Early in the fight Alvarez was quicker to the draw though Golovkin was able to counter with powerful blasts. The exchange of blows was measured in a pace dictated by Golovkins jabs in the first three rounds. It was too early to determine who was the superior fighter.

Golovkin picked up the pace in the fourth round and snapped Alvarez’s head back with vicious right uppercut. Alvarez then blasted a left hook to the body and got a reaction from the blow, but overall Golovkin had his best round.

The quickened pace continued and Alvarez began targeting Golovkin’s body with right uppercuts to the belly and left hooks to the liver and ribs. Though the always strong Golovkin did not show it, Alvarez continued the body assault. In the sixth round both unloaded with tremendous blows that seemingly would knock out anyone. Both remained standing.

Alvarez began to get into a rhythm with rights to the body and lefts to the body mixed in with power shots to the head. Golovkin rallied a bit with a three-punch combination and seemed to regain control of the round overall. It stopped Alvarez’s momentum.

Both fighters engaged in some hellacious shots in the next few rounds though both seemed tired. At one point Alvarez did the sign of the cross and entered in the fray as if prepared to walk into fire. He did.

Golovkin absorbed some tremendous blows to the head and though tired he never wilted. Neither did Alvarez. The final two rounds were hard to determine whose blows were affecting each other. Golovkin must have known the decision was in the balance and erupted in the final round with rights and a right uppercut followed by a left hook and right-left combination. A big right cross from Alvarez stopped the onslaught and then the Mexican redhead began connecting with his own.

A collective exhaling took part when the final bell sounded. Both Golovkin and Alvarez hugged briefly. Both had fought to the full extent of their abilities and both fought Mexican style.

One judge Glenn Feldman scored it a draw 114-114, while Steve Weisfeld and Dave Moretti scored it 115-113 for Alvarez who becomes the new WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight titleholder.

“It was a very exciting and very emotional 12th round,” said Alvarez, 28. “He’s a great fighter. I salute him. He’s a great fighter but I did this for Mexico.”

Golovkin was classy in defeat and knew it was very close and could have been a draw.

“I’m not going to say who won tonight because the victory belongs to Canelo according to the judges,” said Golovkin, 36, who was taken to the hospital for stitches. “I thought the fight was very good for the fans.”

Many felt the fight was superior to the first in terms of pure action.

“If he wants, we can do it again,” said Alvarez. “But let’s enjoy this tonight.”


WBO super welterweight titlist Jaime Munguia tried to contain the storm within but once Canada’s Brandon Cook began unleashing wild overhand rights, the chains of restraint were off and both were flailing away like bullies in a street fight. In this street fight Munguia was vastly in his element in winning by third round knockout.

Munguia used his jab and foot movement to keep the fight at a distance in the opening round. Cook looked to land some counter rights every time the taller Mexican fighter fired a jab, but no luck. And when Cook tried to mount an offense with more overhand rights the fight was on and Munguia was like a wild stallion unleashed out of the gates.

At the end of the second round Munguia had Cook cornered in the corner and connected with a blistering right cross from that long arm he possesses. Cook barely survived.

Munguia seemed more intent to close out the fight in the third round as he cornered Cook and dropped a right hand like an anchor and down went Cook. The Canadian bravely got up but Munguia raked him with a blistering four-punch combination and referee Tony Weeks wisely stopped the fight at 1:03 of the round. It was another knockout win for the Tijuana fighter.

“I was a little more composed and concentrated this time around,” Munguia said as fans cheered. “Before, I was always looking first for the knockout and only the knockout, this time I focused a little bit more.”

Talk on his readiness to move up to the middleweight division is already being discussed.

“Little by little you find out what you do well,” said Munguia about what he learned from this win. “I think it’s a process I’m only 21 and I’ll take the fight of the winner. We’ve learned a lot of things. I want to show that I can fight the best to show that I am the best.


A blistering war on social media was ended abruptly in the boxing ring as former middleweight world champion David Lemieux (40-4, 34 KOs) knocked out Ireland’s Spike O’Sullivan (28-3, 20 KOs) with a left hook to the chin in the first round.

Lemieux and O’Sullivan warred like hungry dogs on social media but when it came to the actual fighting the real alpha dog showed when the Canadian beat the handle-bar moustache boxer to the punch with a quick left hook. Down went O’Sullivan in sections at the end of the first round. After delivering a jab O’Sullivan was following up with a right when Lemieux short-circuited him with the blow. The end came at 2:44 of the first round as referee Russell Mora stopped the fight though a wobbly O’Sullivan got up.

Now will Lemieux fight the winner of Golovkin-Alvarez?

“They’re two excellent fighters but there is no middleweight like David Lemieux. I’m not rooting for anybody, I think it’s a 50/50 fight,” said Lemieux before the main event. “I once fought Golovkin at his peak. Perhaps Golovkin will fight Lemieux at his peak.”


Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (47-2, 39 KOs) answered several questions at once with a single blow as he knocked out Mexico’s Moises Fuentes (25-6-1, 14 KOs) to return with a bang after a year’s absence.

After losing back-to-back fights and the super flyweight world title, many felt Gonzalez no longer possessed the fighting skills that enabled him to capture four division world titles and consideration as the top fighter pound for pound. Others wondered if his political leanings in his native Nicaragua might also be a tug on his ability to concentrate on boxing.

With one punch, Gonzalez answered all those questions with a rocket right cross that deposited Fuentes in his own corner and unconscious at 1:44 of the fifth round as referee Robert Byrd stopped the fight.

“When he hit the floor, I got very worried for him and I panicked,” said Gonzalez who trotted over to the fallen Fuentes. “I asked for him to forgive me because this is the job that we chose and that I didn’t mean to hurt him.”

Up until the fifth round Gonzalez exchanged combinations with fellow multi-division world champion Fuentes and looked faster and sharper than his Mexican counterpart.

“I’m very thankful for this opportunity,” said Gonzalez. “I am a step closer to being a world champion.”

Other Bouts

Heavy-hitting prospect Vergil Ortiz (11-0, 11 KOs) crushed former sparring partner Mexico’s Roberto Ortiz (35-3-2, 26 KOs) and scored two knockdowns before the fight was stopped at 1:00 of the second round. A quick counter right cross delivered Roberto Ortiz to the floor and he rolled around for a few seconds. Though he did beat the count and tried to rally he was blasted out by a three-punch combination and down he went for the final time forcing referee Vic Drakulich to halt the super lightweight fight.

Though both prizefighters are named Ortiz they are not related. But they do know each other from ring sessions earlier in their careers.

“The win is bittersweet because I won against a great name and a record, but “Massa” (Roberto Ortiz) was my first ever sparring partner when I first turned pro,” said Vergil Ortiz, who grew up in Dallas and trains in Riverside, Calif. “Now he’s a win on the next step of my career. During my first sparring session he gave me a swollen lip. Today I knocked him out.”

Santa Ana’s Alexis Rocha (12-0, 8 KOs) won the battle of southpaws versus Carlos Ortiz (10-3, 10 KOs) of Mexico by unanimous decision after six rounds in a super welterweight clash. Rocha was a little quicker and slicker with his punches and nearly had a whitewash. The scores were 80-72 twice and 79-73 for Rocha.

“I wish I could have thrown more punches and more combinations,” said Rocha whose brother is former featherweight contender Ronny Rios. “He was really good at catching shots and countering.”

Philadelphia’s Jaba Khositashvili (4-0) won by decision after six super middleweight rounds against San Bernardino’s Lawrence King (4-1).

“My opponent kept holding me and wouldn’t let me fight him,” said Khositashvili.

New York’s Brian Ceballo (5-0, 3 KOs) won by stoppage in the second round over David Thomas of Texas in a welterweight match set for six rounds. The end came at 30 seconds of round two.

“I figured out beforehand that he always fights the same way,” said Ceballo. “So I knew to keep my distance and keep a fast pace.”

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Pacman vs. Thurman: The Last of the Gen X Champions vs The Millennials

David A. Avila



BEVERLY HILLS-Rain and grey skies filled the Southern California landscape on Wednesday as Manny Pacquiao and fellow warriors met the media.

Now 40 years old, Pacquiao entered the Beverly Hills Hotel with his usual entourage of family, fans and carry-on luggage of media followers. The eight division world champion has been running through this routine since arriving in 1999.

Will this be the last time?

Pacquiao remains the last of the Generation X fighters on a TGB Promotions boxing card that features millennial world champions and contenders. One of those millennial champions contends it will be the Filipino’s last.

“He’s got T-Rex arms. I’m not going to lose to someone with T-Rex arms,” said Keith Thurman the WBA welterweight world titlist. “All Manny does is hop around in the ring. I’m not going to lose to someone with T-Rex arms.”

Both Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) and Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) each have versions of the WBA welterweight belt and the winner of their fight emerges as the true belt holder.

Senator Pacquiao has an extensive history over the last decades of battles with some of the best prizefighters to ever lace up boxing gloves. When asked to name some of the most skilled of his former foes he quickly rattled off Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, and Timothy Bradley.

All of those Generation X fighters are gone now via retirement. Two are currently boxing promoters and one a television analyst. Pacquiao remains the last of his generation competing at the highest level. He is a phenomenon.

As Thurman eloquently spouted the reasons why he will dominate when they meet in the ring at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas on July 20, the always reserved Pacquiao sat quietly amused with a subtle grin. He’s heard all of these taunts and degradations before.

“I’m thankful for what he’s been saying, because it’s giving me motivation to prove that at 40-years-old, I feel 29,” said Pacquiao. “I’ve heard that many times before and I beat them all.”

Thurman corrected Pacman.

“Last time I looked he had seven losses,” said Thurman. “He had a hard time fighting Jeff Horn.”

There’s no Millennial respect for the last of the Generation Xers.

More Millennials

IBF super middleweight titlist Caleb “Sweet Hands” Plant (18-0, 10 KOs) makes his first world title defense against Chicago’s Mike Lee (21-0, 11 KOs) in a battle between undefeated millennials on the same MGM card.

These millennials have no respect for anyone including each other.

“Mike Lee is in uncharted territory. I’m curious on how he plans on beating me. Does he plan on roughing me up and trying to knock me out like my last opponent? Can he do that better than Jose Uzcategui?,” said Plant of his next foe.

Lee doesn’t understand the disrespect.

“I respect Caleb Plant. He’s the champion for a reason and I respect any fighter who can step into that ring. You have to be a different kind of animal to do that in front of all those people, and I am that animal,” said Lee. “I came into this event very respectful. He (Plant) had to come out with another line of disrespect. I don’t understand it. So be it.”

Plant captured the title with a riveting performance against Jose Uzcategui that saw him floor the Venezuelan twice before holding off a late rally against the hard-hitting former champion. It showcased Plant’s speed, skill and grit.

“Nobody from 160 to 175 can beat me,” said Plant, hinting that perhaps he plans a quick move into the light heavyweight division soon.

Lee, a former walk-on Notre Dame football player, has been slowly moving up the prizefighting ladder with pure determination and grit since his pro debut nine years ago.

“I’ve chased this since I was eight-years-old and I’m thankful for this chance to go after a dream that others thought I couldn’t reach,” said Lee. “The beauty of this sport is that it’s only going to be me and Caleb in there.”

Gen X

In the heat of July, the millennials will have their say. And what about the last of the Generation X generation?

“This is a big fight as far as the stage goes, but it’s a big fight against a little guy. He’s a veteran and I’ve dismantled veterans in the past. I believe I would have destroyed Manny Pacquiao five years ago,” said Thurman, 30. “I’ve always been ready for this fight. He’s never fought someone like me with this kind of lateral movement, speed and power. I’m coming for him.”

Pacman, the last of a retiring breed, smiles at the words.

“My experience will be very important for this fight. It’s going to be useful against an undefeated fighter. I’m going to give him the experience of losing for the first time,” said Pacquiao. “I am excited for this fight.”

Will the last of the Gen X champions continue on his journey? Or will the Millennials close that chapter for good?

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Lou Savarese: Houston’s Humble Heavyweight Champ

Kelsey McCarson




Lou Savarese could hardly contain himself.

There he was, just four years after his last professional boxing match, a Bronx-born, boxing behemoth bursting into the room to tell his family about finally getting a speaking part as an actor on HBO’s hit TV series “The Sopranos”.

“Ma! Ma! I got a speaking part!” Savarese roared.

“That’s great,” muttered Ma as she went on with her business and his brother strolled by just in time to add a joke.

“Yeah, but are there going to be subtitles?”

Thus cued the laugh track for this scene, one that seems straight out of a Savarese family inspired sitcom. There was love. There were laughs. There were fights. They all had accents.

All these years later, the 53-year-old ex-boxer credits his success, both inside the ring and out, largely due to his family of origin.

“I was so lucky,” said Savarese. “Boxing is a very unstable sport, so it was good to have that kind of stability when I went home. They would keep me humble.”

Savarese’s humble attitude helped him parlay his excellent boxing career, one that stretched 18 years and included bouts against heavyweight greats Mike Tyson, George Foreman and Evander Holyfield, into becoming one of Houston’s most successful and popular local boxing figures.

Local in the sense that Savarese has become synonymous with the phrase “Houston’s heavyweight champion” as he is so often labeled by local newspaper and magazine writers tasked with covering his various business exploits. This has happened repeatedly over the years despite Savarese not actually being from Houston (he’s from White Plains, New York) and never technically becoming the heavyweight champion of the world unless one counts the fringe title he won when he knocked out Buster Douglas in the opening round.

Still, Savarese did fight a who’s who of heavyweight greats, and his performances in at least some of the fights lend themselves to the idea that Savarese-the-almost-champ might have become a legitimate heavyweight titleholder in just about any other era had he gotten the chance.

Savarese was a heavyweight contender during one of the division’s best eras. Typically, the 1990s, led by Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe, are considered by historians to be deeper and better than most other eras except for probably the 1970s when Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and a young George Foreman plied their trades.

Savarese, who considers himself a boxing historian, said there was no doubt in his mind which of the two eras was best.

“I think the 1970s was definitely the best because even the [secondary level] heavyweights back then were really good,” said Savarese. “You had guys like George Chuvalo, Oscar Bonavena and Bob Foster around. There were so many great guys back then.”

Still, Savarese, the historian, knew the era he fought in was also considered elite.

“Our era–we had some really good guys in it, too.”

It was interesting to get the boxer’s input on all the great heavyweights Savarese faced during his career, especially when it came to the question about which one he thought was the best overall.

“Believe it or not, probably Riddick Bowe,” said Savarese. “I fought him in the amateurs. He should have been the greatest heavyweight ever. He was amazing. He had everything. He had such heavy hands. He could punch. He could fight inside. He could fight outside. Not many guys could do all that. In the history of big guys, he was probably the best inside fighter. He had the whole package. He should have been the greatest fighter ever.”

Savarese said he admired Holyfield greatly, the first undisputed cruiserweight champion who went on to do the same at heavyweight.

“Holyfield, to me, was the guy who did the most with his ability,” said Savarese. “He just had so much heart. I probably hit him harder than I ever hit anybody and he didn’t go down. And he came back and knocked me down. That kinda sucked. He was just too strong and had a lot of heart.”

And while Tyson scored a first-round knockout over Savarese during their encounter in 2000, Savarese admitted after some prodding that he didn’t really agree with the quick stoppage.

“I didn’t get it. I mean everything happens for a reason and hindsight is 20/20. I had been hurt way worse than that. I had been down and come back before. Lance Whitaker hit me with like 18 unanswered punches and I came back to win that fight.”

Admittedly, having never seen the fight before I was to meet Savarese later that day, I was also surprised to see it had been halted so quickly. Boxing is a funny sport. What appears a blowout loss on BoxRec can sometimes look so different when you actually watch the action.

“I would have liked to keep fighting,” said Savarese. “I think the referee kind of got overwhelmed because Tyson clipped him. In our corner, we thought they had stopped the fight because of that. We thought they had disqualified him. We had no idea they were stopping the fight. I got up pretty quickly. He’s a great finisher, though, so who knows? Maybe he would have stopped me, but I would have liked the chance to keep going.”

Savarese really does seem like a champion in the truest sense of the word. In fact, Savarese is exactly the person people probably picture in their heads when they imagine meeting a heavyweight boxing champion. He’s humble. He’s honest. He’s kind. He’s 6-foot-5 and looks like he can punch a hole through a brick wall.

He’s basically Rocky Balboa.

Besides, Savarese boxed well enough against Foreman in 1997 to have one of the judges total a scorecard in his favor in the split-decision loss. That fight was for Foreman’s lineal heavyweight championship, the same title Foreman had won three fights prior by knocking out Michael Moorer in the tenth round.

Had things gone just a little differently for Savarese that night, perhaps he would have had his hand raised as the heavyweight champion of the world.

“It was a close fight,” said Savarese. “I mean, I might be biased because it’s me.”

But perhaps most impressively of all, Savarese is genuine in the way that only ex-boxers seem to pull off with any sort of regularity. It’s a funny thing that boxing, a sport deemed crude and crass by some, can at the same time produce such delightful human beings.

All things considered, Savarese enjoyed a tremendous career. Since the very first day he started boxing, Savarese has known what he wanted to do with his life. More importantly, he made the decision to go out and do it.

“I love it,” said Savarese. “I always wondered why I liked it so much, and it sounds crazy, but it’s just the simplicity of it. I love training. Even when I lost, I could always just come back and train harder.”

That, of course, technically ended when Savarese retired following his 2007 unanimous decision loss to Holyfield. But Savarese’s shirts still hang off of him like he just finished doing a thousand pushups, and he’s still heavily involved in the sport in multiple ways.

Savarese is the most successful local boxing promoter of the last decade and part owner of both the Main Street Boxing & Muay Thai gym in downtown Houston as well as a new gym, Savarese Fight Fit West U, on Bellaire Blvd.

While boxing fans know Main Street as one of Houston’s oldest and most successful local fight gyms, Savarese’s new endeavor, which opened about eight months ago, caters to a different sort of crowd.

Here people from all walks of life, including oil and gas executives, attorneys, rabbis and even moms in yoga pants, take a giant leap into the world of boxing together, and for many of them, it’s their very first exposure to the sport. Where some of these kinds of people do exist in more traditional gyms like Main Street, Savarese Fight Fit West U practically screams for them to come and check things out.

It’s posh, clean and branded to sell to a certain kind of crowd.

Even the heavy bags are upgraded from traditional fare. Equipped with electronic sensors that measure how many times someone hits the bag and with what force, it’s the kind of gym just about any person could walk into and want to try things out.

“Everyone gets really competitive about it. It also helps with accountability. Because sometimes when people train, they get to talking to each other and lose track of what they’re doing.”

That Savarese would be part of such a successful looking new venture shouldn’t really be all that surprising. After all, beyond Savarese’s ring exploits and even after his various stints on TV and in movies, he just seems to be a special person who knows this life is for him and so goes about doing his best to live it.

Savarese is the person maybe every professional fighter should someday grow up to be. While his brother might have been mostly wrong about people needing subtitles to understand him when he speaks, there remains something homey and comfortable about Savarese that invites people to be warm-hearted and jovial toward him. Perhaps that alone is what has brought Savarese such good fortune, or maybe, like he said, it really can be traced back his family.

“I just enjoy life and try to do my own thing,” said Savarese. “I’ve been really lucky.”

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Jim Gray, To His Discredit, is Too Often ‘The Story’

Ted Sares



Jim Gray

Showtime’s widely-connected Jim Gray is the ultimate networker, insider, and friend to the stars (from Jack Nicholson to Kobe Bryant to LeBron James to Tom Brady and everyone in between—or almost everyone). He has won more awards than Carter has pills, a list that includes 12 National Emmy Awards, and he even has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was named as one of the 50 Greatest Sports Broadcasters of All-Time by David Halberstam and last year he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

For an interesting read about Jim and his complex but important interconnections, see “The Zelig of Sports,” by Bryan Curtiss, dated June 24, 2016.

However, as noted by “Sports Media Watch” writer and editor Paulsen (no first name) and others, Gray has become The Story on too many occasions and that’s a no-no in his line of work.

In boxing, Gray’s condescending and confrontational style was on display as far back as 2001 when he interviewed Kostya Tszyu in the ring following Tszyu’s defeat of Oktay Urkal at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. As Gray was beginning his routine, the “Thunder From Down Under” grabbed the mic and quickly told Gray “Do not be rude to me.”

Many years later, after Juan Manuel Lopez had just been knocked silly by Orlando “Siri” Salido, a bizarre post-fight interview ensued during which Lopez accused referee Roberto Ramirez and his son Roberto Ramirez Jr (who was the third man for the first Salido-Lopez fight) of having gambling problems.

Lopez was arguably still on Queer Street, but that didn’t stop Gray. Eager to catch someone off guard, as is his wont, Gray managed to get “Juanma” to say more than enough to get himself suspended while Gray went on to induction into the IBHOF

There have been many other incidents including James Toney dominating Gray in an interview after the Holyfield-Toney fight. Jim never had a chance. “Don’t come up here and try to give me no badass questions,” James warned Gray before knocking the mic out of Gray’s hands..

The fact is Gray had built up a litany of edgy if not downright embarrassing moments. His most infamous came in 1999 during game two of the World Series.

During the game, Pete Rose, barred from baseball but still a fan favorite, was introduced as a member of the Major League All-Century Team as the crowd went wild. Then the ever-opportunistic Gray launched a series of questions regarding allegations that Rose’s had gambled on major league baseball games.

Gray was unrelenting. Finally, Pete cut it off, saying, “This is a prosecutor’s brief, not an interview, and I’m very surprised at you. I am, really.” Later on, New York Yankee outfielder Chad Curtis, who won Game 3 with a walk off homer, refused Gray’s request for an interview as a show of unity with Rose. (Jim Gray’s complete interview with Pete Rose can be found in Gray’s Wikipedia entry. Gray was somewhat vindicated in 2004 when Rose came clean and admitted that he had bet on baseball.)

Fast Forward

After the scintillating Wilder-Breazeale fight this past week in Brooklyn’s Barclay Center, Luis Ortiz bounded into the ring during the post-fight interviews and Gray shoved the mic in his face without so much as a hello and shouted “when do you want to fight Wilder?” Ortiz wanted to focus on what had just occurred in the ring, but he never had a chance. Gray continued to badger him about future fights and thus the fans did not get to hear what Ortiz had to say about the fight.

But what was far worse was when Dominic Breazeale waved Gray away as the commentator walked towards the badly beaten fighter. Gray was stopped by a member of Breazeale’s camp and he quickly got the message that he was persona non grata in the Breazeale corner. Previously, and within Dominic’s earshot, Gray had said to Wilder “the public does not want to see you fight people like Breazeale, the public does not want to see Joshua fight Ruiz, the public does not want to see whoever this guy is fighting Tyson Fury.”

There may be truth in what Jim said, but there was a better way to say it and a better place to say it. The man just got knocked senseless in front of his family and friends, Jim, show him some respect!

Photo credit: Tom Casino / SHOWTIME

Ted Sares is a member of Ring 8, a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). He is an active power lifter and Strongman competitor in the Grand Master class and is competing in 2019.

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