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Oscar Negrete and Joshua Franco Battle to a Draw at the OC Hangar

David A. Avila

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challenger Joshua

COSTA MESA, Calif.-A bantamweight battle between NABF titlist Oscar “El Jaguar” Negrete (pictured in the white trunks) and challenger Joshua “The Professor” Franco was expected to be fierce and after 10 rounds it proved to exceed expectations and ended in a split draw on Thursday.

Followers of both Negrete (18-1-1, 7 KOs) and Franco (14-1-1, 7 KOs) crowded the OC Hangar and were accompanied by MMA stars Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell. All witnessed a back and forth struggle that never waned in intensity and grit.

It could be one of the Fight of the Year candidates.

Negrete, 31, who hails from Colombia and trains in Los Angeles, was making the first defense of the title he won over a year ago. He moved up a weight division to challenge for the super bantamweight title but lost to Rey Vargas last December. As a bantamweight he’s undefeated.

Franco, 22, lives in San Antonio, Texas but trains in nearby Riverside, Calif. under Robert Garcia. His sole loss came last March and this was his second fight since.

Colombian’s Negrete fights like a machine. He’s a nonstop puncher who fires blows from all directions and angles and when you pause he fires. His style was showcased in the first two rounds as he stormed in front.

The Texan whose nickname is “the Professor,” showed why his nickname fits as he figured out Negrete’s overwhelming style and solved it with precise uppercuts in the third round. It was like placing a wrench into the gear shaft of a generator as the wave of punches suddenly stopped.

Franco then attacked the body with left hooks and left uppercuts followed by overhand rights. The blows were hard and precise but Negrete refused to be denied.

Back and forth the two bantamweights fought furiously like roosters for 10 vicious rounds. Negrete’s eyes were swollen and a cut seemed to emerge above Franco’s eye. But neither fighter refused to submit to weariness. After the final bell the crowd seemed to finally exhale.

One judge scored it 96-94 for Franco, another 96-94 for Negrete and a third 95-95 to make it a split draw. Negrete retains the NABF bantamweight title. Both fighters exclaimed interest in a rematch

“I can’t complain. It was a close fight,” said Franco. “I landed the better shots and hurt him with clean punches. He kept throwing and throwing, which is not what I expected, but I adjusted.”

Negrete felt he was the victor.

“It was a great fight, but I felt I won,” said Negrete. “He threw a lot of punches, but I blocked most of them. To tell the truth, it made me uncomfortable when he threw a lot and then suddenly clinched. He’s very talented. I give him my respect. He is a warrior. It ended in a draw, but we’ll see if we get the rematch.”

Other Bouts

Super lightweight prospect Danielito Zorrillo (9-0, 8 KOs) knocked out tough West Virginian Dakota Linger (10-1-2, 6 KOs) in the second round of their clash, but it wasn’t easy. During the first round Zorrillo connected multiple times with perfect rights to the jaw and Linger barely blinked.

The second round was different.

Puerto Rico’s  Zorrillo changed tactics and began setting up left hooks. Linger never saw those blows and they began arriving like a stream of punches. Linger tried to survive but when Zorrillo unleashed a four-punch combination finishing with a left hook, the West Virginian’s leg buckled and referee Tom Taylor stopped the fight at 2:59 of the second round. Linger might have suffered a broken nose.

Super featherweight prospects Jousce Gonzalez (8-0-1, 8 KOs) and Ivan Delgado (12-1-2, 5 KOs) started slowly in the first two rounds then unloaded punches the remaining four rounds to a majority draw.

“It was a good fight, but I won,” said Gonzalez. He’s a tough fighter, but I felt I landed more shots and controlled the fight at a distance.”

Glendora, California’s Gonzalez was effective at times and always on attack, but South Central L.A.’s Delgado was effective with the counters especially with the left hook. No knockdowns were scored in the extremely close six round fight. One judge saw it 58-56 for Delgado while the other two judges scored it 57-57 for a majority draw.

“I felt I did enough to win,” said Delgado. “He missed most shots, while I landed harder and cleaner punches.”

Puerto Rico’s Carlos Caraballo (9-0, 9 KOs) a southpaw from Guayanilla, dominated the action throughout the bantamweight fight with Mexico’s tough Felipe Reyes (17-22-4, 11 KOs) and earned a stoppage at 1:47 of the sixth round. Though Reyes was never floored he was never close to winning a round. But he proved durable, just not effective. Caraballo worked the body incessantly and was sharp with his punches in gaining the stoppage.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Odds Review for Friday’s Boxing on Telemundo

Miguel Iturrate

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South Florida promoter Tuto Zabala Jr has a seven fight card planned for the Osceola Heritage Center in Kissimmee this Friday, February 22nd that sees three undefeated prospects headline the show. For more than two decades, Zabala Jr has promoted the sport in Mexico and Florida and Friday’s event will air on Spanish language Telemundo in the United States, so check your local listings for start times.
A pair of ten round bouts hold the main event spots as undefeated Yomar Alamo faces veteran Manuel Mendez at welterweight and likewise unbeaten Carlos Monroe takes on Jonathan Tavira in a middleweight bout.
The 23 year old Alamo is from fight hungry Puerto Rico and he is considered a key piece to promoter Zabala Jr’s plans to run shows back on the island. The 28 year old Mendez once carried the ‘prospect’ label as well but Mendez is 1-3-1 in his last five fights. The experience of being in there with the likes of Sonny Fredrickson (19-1) and undefeated Johnathan Navarro (15-0) will make him Alamo’s toughest test to date. The welterweight division is crowded and Alamo is going to need to keep winning beyond Friday to get noticed, but he already banks on the fervent support of his “boriqua” crowd. Promoter Zabala Jr may be wondering if matchmaker Ruben DeJesus picked the right guy in Mendez. Alamo’s record in Puerto Rico looks to have a good bit of fluff. He didn’t face an opponent with a single pro win until his seventh fight. He faced 40 year old vet Edwin Lopez in 2016, but Lopez hurt his hand in the first round and could not continue, so Alamo is largely untested.
Middleweight prospect Carlos Monroe looks to go 12-0 as he steps in to his first bout scheduled for ten rounds. Veteran Jonathan Tavira provides the opposition for the 24 year old Monroe, who turned pro in December of 2017 and notched 10 fights in calendar year 2018. Monroe has been brought along carefully, as the combined record of his 11 opponents stands at 46-98-8. Tavira has been in there with the likes of Arif Magomedov, Dario Bredicean and Esquiva Falcao, all undefeated fighters on the way up. Tavira hits hard but he has been stopped five times in his six losses, so look for Monroe to improve on his eight KOs to date.
2016 U.S. Olympian Antonio Vargas looks to improve to 10-0 in an eight round bantamweight bout against Lucas Rafael Baez (34-17-5). Vargas was originally scheduled to take on Wilner Soto, a veteran with a 21-5 record and he was a big favorite in that match-up.
Below are the current lines as we start off fight week.
Fri 2/22 – Osceola Heritage Center – Kissimmee, Florida
Welterweight 10 rounds –
Manuel Mendez(16-4-1) +160
Yomar Alamo(15-0)         -210
Middleweight 10 rounds –
Jonathan Tavira (17-6)            +550
Carlos Monroe (11-0)             -1050
Bantamweight 8 rounds –
Lucas Rafael Baez        +1150
Antonio Vargas            -2450
(Opponent change for Vargas, line should be similar for new opponent Lucas Rafael Baez)

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Blake Caparello Looks To Grab WBA Regional Belt This Friday

Miguel Iturrate

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Caparello
This Friday night in Australia, light heavyweight contender Blake Caparello returns to action as he faces youngster Reagan Dessaix for the WBA’s Oceania title in the main event of a planned six fight card at The Melbourne Pavilion.
Dessaix currently holds the belt that Caparello held back in 2017, and the 22-year-old is hoping a win on Friday will put him on the international radar. It is where Caparello, who enters this fight as a 32-year-old, has been and hopes to get to again.
Those are the basics of Friday’s main event, the youngster Dessaix making a significant leap in competition level as he looks to get ranked internationally, while the veteran Caparello is hopeful a win will propel him closer to another world title shot.
Caparello laid claim to the IBO’s world title at 175 pounds back in October of 2013 when he won a comfortable unanimous decision over veteran Allan Green. Caparello, who was 17-0-1 at the time of the Green fight, went on to an introductory fight in the United States, and a win there saw him earn an August of 2014 title shot against WBO champion Sergey Kovalev.
Caparello has to feel he was close to a world title as he had the feared Kovalev down in round one before the “Krusher” took him out in round two. Since then, he has fought Isaac Chilemba and Andre Dirrell, extending both ranked veterans the full fight distance. The March of 2018 loss to Chilemba was for the WBC’s world title, and Caparello managed to go 2-0 the rest of the calendar year.
Green, Kovalev, Dirrell and Chilemba. The bottom line is that Dessaix had a solid amateur career in Australia, but there is no one with resumes like the men Caparello has faced when asked to step onto the world scene.
The WBA’s current world champion is Dmitry Bivol (15-0), who is making the fourth defense of his title in March against hard hitting Joe Smith Jr. The veteran Caparello could mount a case for a mandatory shot against either man with a win on Friday, while Dessaix would likely have to keep fighting and winning before earning a shot at a world title.
The co-feature bout is for the Australian title at 154 pounds and sees 31 year old Billy Klimov facing Joel Camilleri. Camilleri is favored as he has had a lot more professional experience than Limov, who turned professional at 29 years old. Strictly regional stuff here.
Both fights have lines at some of the sportsbooks. Check out the numbers as they were at the start of fight week below.
Fri 2/22 – The Melbourne Pavilion – Victoria, Australia
WBA Oceania Title
Light Heavyweight 10 rounds –
Reagan Dessaix(16-1)         +255
Blake Caparello (28-3-1)    -365
Australian Title
Super Welterweight 10 rounds –
Billy Limov (4-0-1)     +200
Joel Camilleri(16-5-1) -280
Check out the link for the live event right here. http://www.epicentre.tv/events/blake-caparello-v-reagan-dessaix/

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Will Fury’s Deal With ESPN Torpedo The Fights That Fight Fans Want to See?

Arne K. Lang

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Fury's deal with ESPN

For the past few weeks, boxing fans have been led to believe that the rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder was ever so-close to being a done deal. But in the world of professional boxing where Machiavellian characters seemingly hold all the positions of power, nothing is ever a done deal until it’s finally finalized. Today’s announcement that Tyson Fury has signed with ESPN is the latest case in point. It’s a three-fight deal that will reportedly earn the Gypsy King $80 million if he can successfully hurdle the first two legs.

As Thomas Hauser has noted, what we have in boxing today is something similar to leagues in other sports. There’s the Top Rank/ESPN League, the Matchroom/DAZN League, and the PBC/Showtime/FOX League. We would add that these are intramural leagues. Occasionally there’s cross-pollination, similar to when the Yankees play the Mets in a game that counts in the regular season standings, but basically the boxers in each league compete against each other.

We have no doubt that WBC/WBA/IBF heavyweight ruler Anthony Joshua will eventually fight Wilder and/or Fury, but it now appears that these matches, when they transpire, will have marinated beyond the sell date. The action inside the ring may mirror the Mayweather-Pacquiao dud.

A match between Joshua and Wilder is already somewhat less enticing than it would have been if it had come to fruition last autumn. The odds lengthened in favor of Joshua after Wilder’s raggedy performance against Tyson Fury on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles.

True, the Bronze Bomber almost pulled the fight out of the fire with a thunderous punch but he was out-slicked in most of the rounds and it wasn’t as if he was fighting a bigger version of Pernell Whitaker. Before that fight, casual fans were less tuned-in to Deontay Wilder’s limitations.

It was reported that the Wilder-Fury rematch was headed to Las Vegas or New York, but that Las Vegas fell out of the running when the State Athletic Commission insisted on using Nevada officials. Fury was the one that balked.

In hindsight we should have seen that this was fake news. No Nevada officials were involved in Fury-Wilder I. The judges were from California, Canada, and Great Britain. The California judge voted against Fury, scoring the fight 115-111, a tally for which he was excoriated. The judge from Great Britain, like many ringside reporters, had it draw. The TV crews, especially the crew from Great Britain, left no doubt that Fury should have had his hand raised and the controversy made the hoped-for rematch more alluring.

So who will be Tyson Fury’s next opponent? Speculation immediately centered on Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev.

Pulev, who turns 38 of May 4, sports a 26-1 record. He was slated to fight Anthony Joshua in October of 2017 but suffered a torn biceps in training and was forced to withdraw. In his most recent bout he outpointed Hughie Fury, Tyson’s cousin. He’s currently ranked #1 by the IBF.

On Dec. 8 of last year, Bob Arum announced that he had hammered out a deal to co-promote Pulev. It was subsequently reported that Pulev’s first fight under the Top Rank/ESPN umbrella would be against Finland’s Robert Helenius on March 23 in Los Angeles. Six days ago, the distinguished European fight writer Per Ake Persson told his readers that the fight had fallen out, ostensibly because the parties could not come to terms.

Tyson Fury is the most charismatic white heavyweight to come down the pike since Gerry Cooney and the big galoot is bigger than Cooney ever was as he has avid followers on both sides of the Atlantic and Cooney didn’t have social media to enhance his profile. I have little doubt that ESPN will recoup their investment in him. However, deals in boxing are never consummated with an eye on uplifting the sport – on patching things up with the disaffected – and here’s yet another example.

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