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Rodriguez and O'Connor Almost Full Circle



NEW YORK (September 20, 2012) – Bay State boxers Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez and Danny O'Connor have come almost full circle since their amateur days, training together in Houston and now fighting on DiBella Entertainment's “Road To Glory” card, September 29 on a special HBO Boxing After Dark tripleheader, live from the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KOs) defends his United States Boxing Association (USBA) title against unbeaten power-puncher Jason “Monstruo” Escalera (13-0-1, 12 KOs) in the 10-round main event, while super lightweight prospect Danny O'Connor (18-1, 6 KOs) faces Josh “Nino Assasino” Sosa (10-3, 5 KOs), providing chief support for the three HBO-televised fights, in an eight-round bout.

Unbeaten Luis Orlando “Orlandito” Del Valle (16-0, 11 KOs) takes on former three-time, two-division world champion Vic “Raging Bull” Darchinyan (37-5-1, 27 KOs) in the 10-round co-feature on HBO for the vacant North American Boxing Federation (NABF) super bantamweight title.

Completing the HBO tripleheader is a World Boxing Council (WBC) International welterweight title fight between champion Antonin Decarie and the undefeated Alex Perez (16-0, 9 KOs). Decarie-Perez replaced a Special Light Heavyweight Attraction bout between world-rated Isaac “Golden Boy” Chilemba (19-1-1, 9 KOs) and former two-time, two-division world champion Zsolt Erdei, who was forced to withdraw due to suffering two broken ribs during training camp.

The “Road To Glory” event is promoted by DiBella Entertainment, in association with Joe DeGuardia's Star Boxing and Gary Shaw Productions. All three bouts will be aired on HBO's Boxing After Dark, beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT.

Dominican Republic-born Rodriguez moved to Worcester (MA) with his family 14 years ago when he was 13. O'Connor was born and raised in Framingham (MA), which is less than 30 miles from Worcester. O'Connor's third amateur bout was at the old Boys & Girls Club in Worcester on a show in which hometown hero Rodriguez was in the main event. The now 27-year-olds first met then, both developed into national amateur champions, and turned pro in 2008.

Back when they were amateurs, Rodriguez, O'Connor and Providence's Demetrius Andrade, a 2008 US Olympian, were roommates as members of USA traveling teams. “We dreamed of becoming world champions as professionals at the same time,” Rodriguez remembered. “And we're getting close.”

Rodriguez is the closest of that trio to fighting for a world championship. He is rated No. 4 by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Council (WBC), as well as No. 8 by the World Boxing Association (WBA) and No. 9 by The Ring Magazine.

“I love fighting on the same cards as Edwin,” O'Connor said. “He's headlining on HBO. We train and travel together; he's my best friend in boxing. But it's different for us right now. He's fighting in front of the lights and I'm trying to get there. He has to perform well September 29 to keep fighting on HBO and I need to impress the people from HBO.”

The two took a circuitous route to Houston, joining trainer Ronnie Shields, in his new state-of-the-art boxing facility at Plex in Stafford, Texas. O'Connor quickly outgrew the Framingham PAL and started training at the Worcester Boys & Girls, rejoining Rodriguez there as young prizefighters. They traveled throughout New England, searching for sparring partners and a base, until they both landed at Manfredo's Gym in Pawtucket (RI) but with different trainers.

Rodriguez' manager, Larry Army, then made a critical change sending Edwin out of New England to Shields in Houston. After losing his first professional fight, O'Connor decided it was time for a change. His new manager, Ken Casey, founder and lead singer of the popular Boston-based band Dropkick Murphys, has opened up a new world, marketing-wise, for O'Connor, who did some research and came up with a list of potential trainers. His co-promoter, Leon Margules (DiBella Entertainment promotes Rodriguez and co-promotes O'Connor), has been friends with Shields for 20 years and a connection was made. O'Connor left Framingham without money or a place to live, nothing but the clothes on his back and his gym bag. “I hooked up with Edwin in Houston, where he let me stay with him,” O'Connor noted. “But that's the type of person Edwin is, always helping.”

“Danny came down here and I love it,” Rodriguez added. “He pushes me. There are days I don't like running and he pushes me. We push each other.”

Rodriguez originally was supposed to fight this summer and he will be in training camp for 14 weeks by September 29, missing his wedding anniversary with his wife, Stephanie, and being away from his twins of special needs who will turn six on the night of his fight against Escalera. The only time he was away from Shields was for a week on vacation back home, but Edwin pointed out that he trained daily and wasn't really on a vacation.

Shields has been nothing short of a boxing professor for his two protégés from Massachusetts. They love working with the former “Trainer of the Year” and two-time world title challenger, who has been where the duo wants to get. Many may feel that Shields has changed Rodriguez from a brawler to boxer, O'Connor from boxer to puncher, but Coach Ronnie is turning both into complete fighters.

“Edwin always came forward, throwing punches, and when you hit him, he hit you back,” Ronnie explained. “There's nothing wrong with that attitude, but you don't want to trade shots with an opponent who hits harder. You don't go head-to-head with an opponent like Donovan George who was stronger. Edwin boxed in the middle of the ring and won rounds, catching everything George threw on his gloves instead of his chin. Edwin agrees that he doesn't have to punch it out. I'm not taking the fight out of a fighter like Edwin. I'm making him more of a complete fighter like I'm doing with Danny, too. Complete fighters are smart fighters. If Edwin is losing late in a fight and needs a round or two, he can still do that if he needs to, but he has perfected his defense.

“When Danny first came here, I watched tapes of his fights and all he did was box against everybody. I asked him if he thought there was any other way to fight. He didn't know how to fight any differently. We worked on getting him to fight inside, not just to go in there throwing punches. He needed defense to create offense. He's done that perfectly in his last few fights and I've been impressed by his defense. He's knocking people out now. He's never going to be a power puncher, but he's punching harder and sitting down on his punches. He's a tough kid who sacrifices whatever I take to do it. I love working with him and Edwin.

“It's very important that there down here together. One feeds off of the other. If Edwin is having a down day, Danny picks him up, and vice-versa.”

The journey doesn't end for Rodriguez or O'Connor until they reach their dreams of capturing a world title. Shields has both of them headed in the right direction and not too far away from achieving their goals. They've almost come full circle.

“Road to Glory” is the highly anticipated HBO Boxing After Dark tripleheader, featuring some of the brightest young fighters in all of boxing looking to continue on their paths toward their respective world championships. The card will take place on Saturday, September 29, at MGM Grand at Foxwoods. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased through the Foxwoods box office by calling 1 (800) 200-2882. Tickets are priced at $45, $75, $100 and $200.


Three Punch Combo: What’s in the Cards for Spence, Kell Brook, and Cotto?



 THREE PUNCH COMBO: Errol Spence Jr. scored an impressive knockout victory against Kell Brook on Saturday to take Brook’s IBF welterweight title. Both fighters now face interesting possibilities as they move forward in their respective careers.

Spence, who entered the fight with a lot of questions, not only showcased his tremendous skills but proved he has a very good chin as well as the willingness to dig deep when needed. He is without a doubt a future superstar in this sport. With momentum strong right now, he would be wise to be as active as possible even if not landing one of the big names his next time out.

I sense that Spence’s advisor, Al Haymon, will in fact get him back in the ring this summer. One name I would speculate as an opponent is Adrian Granados. Coming off a debatable loss to Adrien Broner, Granados has earned another shot at a top fighter. Granados is not a big puncher, but will put forth a good effort. The translation here is that he is someone that can be sold to the public as an opponent for Spence while bigger names are lined up, and also someone against whom Spence can in all likelihood look impressive once again.

After a summer tilt, I would expect to see Spence back in action towards the end of the year in a more substantial fight. Keith Thurman will still be on the mend at this point, recovering from elbow surgery, so that fight is out until next year. But Haymon has plenty of other welterweights and one that I suspect he steers toward Spence will be Lamont Peterson. Peterson is a name and has a belt. He also has a stated desire to want one of the big names next along with the payday that it would command. With Thurman out, this would seem the likely immediate path for Spence as such a fight would draw plenty of attention and be easy to sell.

As for Brook, he is going to need an extensive rest before restarting his career. He suffered a beating as well as an eye injury in September against Gennady Golovkin and then suffered another beating as well as injuring his other eye against Spence. After a rest, expect to see a tune- up bout followed by a massive fight in the UK against Amir Khan. The Khan fight has always been big and one of the reasons it has not been made is that it could frankly be made anytime with it still being a very significant event. Considering where both fighters are presently in their respective careers, the timing seems right for it to happen sooner rather than later. They both get a big payday and the winner gets well positioned for another big payday in what is a loaded territory at welterweight and junior middleweight.

Errol Spence Jr. and Kell Brook gave us a great fight on Saturday. While their career paths will head in different directions, expect to see both involved in big events once again down the road.

 Miguel Cotto’s Future

 Miguel Cotto announced this week that he would be returning to the ring on August 26th to face Japanese brawler Yoshihiro Kamegai for the vacant WBO junior middleweight championship. Cotto, who split from his promoter Roc Nation last week, will work with Golden Boy Promotions for this fight which will be televised by HBO.

This is an interesting development in the career of Cotto. Reportedly HBO had not been interested in televising the proposed Kamegai fight unless it received assurances from Cotto that it would lead to a bigger fight to be televised by the network. Also, Golden Boy’s involvement in the promotion signals that they could be involved in Cotto’s future. Obviously, this would mean the opponent for a big fight for Cotto would come from under the Golden Boy banner.

The obvious choice for Cotto’s big fight opponent is David Lemieux. Lemieux has been chasing a fight with Canelo Alvarez. However, with Alvarez deciding to go after Gennady Golovkin, Lemieux gets left on the outside looking in. In need of a big fight for Lemieux, Golden Boy saw an opportunity with Cotto having been previously negotiating the Kamegai fight with Roc Nation. A fight between Cotto and Lemieux makes sense for both as Cotto wants a name who isn’t a slick boxer and Lemieux wants a big fight with the payday it commands as well as the opportunity to put a signature win on his resume to bolster his future ambitions.

But I also think Golden Boy has another potential plan for Cotto. Golden Boy’s main cash cow, Canelo Alvarez, is in a high risk, high reward fight with Golovkin in September. There is no rematch clause if Alvarez wins and, of course, a win by Alvarez cements him as a mega star in the sport. He will be eyeing a return in May 2018 during Cinco de Mayo weekend. With momentum behind him, Alvarez would be wise to seek a name opponent to further boost the event. A rematch with Cotto would not only do huge business but keep the momentum going. For Cotto, it would be a chance to avenge the loss from 2015 to Alvarez and give him one massive payday as his career nears a conclusion.

Miguel Cotto is determined to close his career out with something big and it appears likely he will get his wish.

Kudos to Golden Boy

 When Golden Boy announced its new series on ESPN this winter, I was cautiously optimistic in the fights they would produce. I must say that the matchmaking thus far on this series has been superb and is getting even better with some recently announced cards. These are the types of televised shows the sport needs to generate some badly needed positive buzz.

On June 17th, Pablo Cesar Cano takes on Fidel Maldonado in a junior welterweight contest. This fight is not only very evenly matched but can’t be anything except a slugfest given the styles of the two fighters. Cano is a high pressure fighter who is willing to exchange to get his own punches home. Maldonado has the ability to box, but often gets drawn willingly into wars. In 2015, he had a back and forth shootout with Amir Iman in a fight that got some talk in fight of the year chatter. As a matter of fact, round three was probably round of the year that year. Maldonado has a tendency to fire back when he gets hit and with Cano’s style Maldonado is going to get hit a lot. This one is guaranteed action and a perfect fight for television.

About two weeks later, Golden Boy returns with another ESPN card featuring a high stakes junior featherweight contest between Randy Caballero and Oscar Negrete. Caballero is an undefeated former bantamweight belt holder and is a very skilled boxer puncher. Negrete, also undefeated, has shown much improvement inside the ring in his last few contests. The styles of these two should mix well to provide an entertaining fight. It is also evenly matched, and with so much at stake we should see the best of both men inside the ring.

One point I harp on a lot is the importance of good matchmaking, especially in televised fights. Golden Boy is doing an excellent job so far with their new ESPN series providing high quality, well-matched fights. The boxing public is taking notice and Golden Boy deserves much praise in delivering excellent events for the fans.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

IBF welterweight title

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Canada & Usa

George Foreman Youth Center in Houston Hosts Amateur Event



George Foreman Youth Center

George Foreman Youth Center –  -Starting with the ring of the bell on October 22nd, local area boxers will be fighting for a spot to represent the Gulf Coast Region at the USA Boxing National Championships & in International Travel.

Weight categories will include: Pee Wee 8-9, Bantam 10-11, Intermediate 12-13, Juniors 14-15, Youth 15-16, & Elite 18-40 in both Open and Novice divisions. Winners will represent the Gulf area at the 2016 USA Boxing Elite, Youth and Junior National Championships to be held in Kansas City Missouri December 4-10, 2016. This tournament is a sanctioned event through USA Boxing the National Governing Body of Amateur Boxing and is a feeder to National and Olympic recognition.

The George Foreman Youth and Community Center was founded 32 years ago in 1984 by Olympic Gold Medalist and 2-time heavy weight champion George Foreman. The GFYCC is dedicated to providing a safe and secure location for youth to participate in sports and after school activities.

“This year for the first time in Houston boxing history, we are developing an elite international youth boxing team,” said George Foreman, IV. “The team will be selected for the sole purpose of training and traveling to other countries to gain experience on an international platform and promote cultural diplomacy! Utilizing grant and donor funding this team will be representing the George Foreman Youth and Community Center and will be announced Saturday October 22, at the Gulf Region’s Boxing Championship. The team will be reviewed by my father, 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist and 2-Time Heavyweight Champion, George Foreman Sr. The first international trip for this new Houston team is scheduled for Jan. 2017.”

Doors open for the Gulf Gloves Championships on Saturday October 22nd at 11:00 am with announcements and the presentation of the colors by the United States Army Houston Recruiting Command Baytown Beaumont Company at 12:45 pm. The national anthem will be performed by the internationally acclaimed Houston Brass Quintet! Boxing will begin at 1:00 pm. Championship finals will begin at 1:00 pm on Sunday October 23rd.

Media open workouts for Houston amateur standout boxers will be held Wednesday October 19th at the George Foreman Youth and Community Center at 2202 Lone Oak Road Houston, Texas 77093 at 4:00 pm.

Confirmed attendees for interviews will be:

George Edward Foreman IV: Son of 2 Time Heavy Weight Champion, President of Foreman Public Relations

Marlen Esparza: 2012 Olympic Games Bronze Medalist, 2014 Amateur World Champion, 2006 & 2016 Amateur World Championships Bronze Medalist, Nine-Time USA Boxing National Champion.

Rocky Juarez: 2000 Olympic Games Silver Medalist, 1999 Amateur World Champion, WBC Silver Featherweight World Champion.

Raul Marquez: 1988 Amateur World Championships Bronze Medalist, 1992 Olympic Games Quarter-finalist, IBF Light Middleweight World Champion.

Frank Tate: 1984 Olympic Games Gold Medalist, IBF Middleweight World Champion, NABF Light Heavyweight Champion.

Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz: WBA Lightweight World Champion, WBO Lightweight World Champion, WBA Super-Lightweight World Champion, IBF Lightweight World Champion.

“Sweet” Reggie Johnson: WBA Middleweight World Champion, IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion.

In addition to many Houston area professional boxers and Gulf Boxing Association alumni. Event is sanctioned by USA Boxing – Gulf LBC: 16-25-14268

George Foreman Youth Center / Check out more boxing news and videos at The Boxing Channel.

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Press Releases

Michelle Corrales-Lewis Named New CEO of NV Boxing Hall of Fame



Michelle Corrales-Lewis

LAS VEGAS, NV (October 5, 2016) – The Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame (NVBHOF) a non-profit charitable organization which donates to boxing-related causes, is happy to announce Michelle Corrales-Lewis as its new CEO/President. Respected boxing announcer, Rich Marotta, who founded the NVBHOF in 2012, steps down after devoting years of his life to get the organization off the ground.

With a number of boxing greats already inducted, which include world champion fighters, judges, coaches and promoters, the NVBHOF has rapidly established itself as prestigious group not only here in Las Vegas, but around the world. The NVBHOF has multiple fundraising events throughout the year, helping local boxing organizations fulfill their goals to keep boxing alive within the community.

“I took this organization as far as I could and I’m very comfortable where it is at today,” said Rich Marotta. “Michelle is on the scene in Las Vegas, has a myriad of contacts, both in business and with the boxing community, especially the fighters, and is more than ready to completely run the company. She is incredibly capable and has been an indefatigable agent for growth of the NVBHOF the past three years, taking on additional responsibilities each and every year. It brings me great pleasure to announce her as the new CEO of the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame.”

After serving as the NVBHOF Chief Operating Officer for many years, Michelle Corrales-Lewis, is thrilled at her new position within the organization.

“It’s an honor to be chosen as the new CEO of the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame,” said Michelle Corrales-Lewis, widow of former multiple world champion and 2013 NVBHOF inductee, Diego Corrales. “Rich Marotta did a fantastic job building the organization from ground up. His immense work ethic is a great example of how I plan to continue the vision he set forth. My goal is to find a home for the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame, one where fans from all around the world can visit on regular basis. The boxing community is filled with wonderful people that we will honor as inductees each year. I’m truly grateful for the wonderful opportunity that has been presented to me by my dear friend Rich Marotta.”

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