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Articles of 2005

Vargas-Castillejo Fight Predictions




The on again/off again career of “Ferocious” Fernando Vargas (26-2, 23 KOs) of Oxnard, California is on again this Saturday on HBO. “El Feroz” meets Javier Castillejo (58-5, 39 KOs) of Madrid, Spain in a junior middleweight bout from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Expectations regarding the Ferocious One are not what they once were, but his undiminished tough guy-ism keeps his loyal fans lining up for more. Whether Vargas can recapture the glory of his bygone years is anyone’s guess, but his bygone years were a lot more glorious than Castillejo’s. This is how The Sweet Science writers see this weekend’s fight.

It's sad watching Vargas fight now. He's not the same fighter he was earlier in his career. It's pretty clear that Trinidad ruined him as an elite boxer. His reflexes have slowed down; he doesn't react the same when he gets hit, and he isn't aggressive offensively anymore. He hasn't looked impressive since he beat Ross Thompson five years ago. I don't think Castillejo is going to win, but I do think he will go the distance with Vargas. Vargas by unanimous decision in a repeat performance of his win over Raymond Joval.
Mitch Abramson

Vargas seemed to lack fire last time out against Joval. He may need it back if he hopes to beat Castillejo, a tough veteran who will be there every step of the way. You have to wonder how effective a 27-year-old Vargas is anymore. It's been almost three years since his last significant fight, the loss to Oscar De La Hoya, and he has been riddled with injuries ever since. Castillejo, meanwhile, is 7-0 since losing to De La Hoya in 2001 – though the level of opposition isn't of the highest quality. Talent-wise, it's no contest, and Vargas should win a unanimous decision. But, without the intensity of his earlier career victories, you have to wonder if this may be “Ferocious Fernando's” swansong.
Matt Aguilar

Ricardo Mayorga may want Fernando Vargas to beat Javier Castillejo more than Fernando Vargas. Mayorga, who won the WBC super welterweight belt Saturday, said he will be in attendance for Vargas' bout. That said, Vargas will have a little extra pressure in facing Castillejo. The added incentive of giving Mayorga, who would likely think nothing of Vargas using an M-16 in the ring, could be enough for Vargas to put on a display far exceeding his less than impressive point victory over Raymond Joval.
Jesse K. Cox

Though he's only fought once in something like 20 months, Vargas is still young and still one of the top 154-pounders out there. Besides, he's got to be a little hungry. He stops Castillejo in the 10th.
Rick Folstad

Fernando Vargas, unanimous decision. I just can't go with a 37-year-old fighter who lost to a guy named Del Bryant when I was still in high school.
Tim Graham

At 37, the former WBC titlist Castillejo is engaging in his last hurrah. In virtually every department Vargas is better that Castillejo was at his peak. It is certainly the case that with a seven fight win streak Castillejo has rebuilt some confidence since being essentially shutout by Oscar De La Hoya. But, each of those wins came against nominal opposition at home in Spain. The central difference in this fight is that Vargas is faster, punches much harder, and even boxes better than Castillejo. Other than that … Vargas is simply a fighter in a different class than Castillejo, who is no doubt a skilled and able journeyman. Vargas will out-punch and outwork his Spanish opponent throughout and, in the end, overwhelm him. Vargas by KO in 8.
JE Grant

The big question regarding Fernando Vargas revolves around his overall conditioning and ability to hold his defensive discipline over the distance of championship level fights. If he's trained as responsibly as he and strength coach Ferguson say then beating Castillejo should be very doable. Look for Vargas to counter with authority when he can and work the jab attempting to get to Castillejo's body. The Ferocious One knows there's a pay-per-view rematch with De La Hoya waiting for him; if ever he needed a reason to perform at his best, he got one now. Vargas TKO9 Castillejo.
Patrick Kehoe

Castillejo is certainly durable, but he's not exactly a road warrior, never having won a fight in a non-Spanish speaking country. (He's 57-2 in Spain, 1-0 in Mexico, and 0-3 in the rest of the world.) Once again he's a stranger in a strange land, and at 37 nearly a decade older. Even an off-the-juice incarnation of Vargas should have enough to beat him. Fernando probably won't knock him out – nobody does – but we see it as a comfortable decision. Vargas in a 10-round decision.
George Kimball

Castillejo certainly can box a bit and we all know that Vargas may be just a bit chinny, but Vargas looks to be more of a boxer now and less of a slugger that'll go out and purposely take one just to land one. Key here is the Vargas jab, which should find a home all night long. Castillejo hasn't met a jab he didn't like – the taste of, that is – and let's remember that Vargas out-jabbed the jabbing machine Ike Quartey. When he needs to use the jab it can be a great weapon for him and will be tonight in order to set up the right hand. Not overly concerned with Vargas' back problems and subsequent inactivity, Castillejo hasn't fought since June of last year, and Fernando was in the ring just five months back. After outboxing Castillejo for much of the night look for Vargas to start sitting down on his heavy rights and hard left hooks to “one up” De La Hoya by stopping the Spaniard late. (Oscar won a unanimous decision over Castillejo in 2001.)
Joey Knish

Castillejo is no world-beater, but he's a tough solid pro who should last the distance against Vargas in a one-sided but semi-entertaining bout. Vargas by decision.
Bob Mladinich

I don’t like backing inactive, ageing fighters like Castillejo, but then again I don’t like backing previously banned, badly bludgeoned, inactive, injury prone and potentially past peak fighters like Vargas either. But I like Vargas' name, and the size of his future purses to secure him a narrow points victory regardless of his performance.
David Payne

If you are open for a good laugh, check out 37-year-old old Javier Castillejo's last four opponents: The Spanish 154-pounder stopped Alberto Campos in five rounds more than 14 months ago; Campos Is a Uruguayan light-heavyweight who has lost 11 of his last 13 fights. Before him, in April of 2004, was Genaro Rio, a Nicaraguan light-welterweight whose last five opponents before Castillejo were 0-28. For Castillejo, it was like betting on Secretariat after he had been slipped into a claiming race for 8-year-old maidens. Rio departed in the third round. The Omelet fought twice in 2003: Ignacio Solar, a Columbian welterweight, who has lost his last six fights; and Diego Castillo, of the Cali, Columbia Castillos, who has a record that can only be spawned in South America. Castillejo's nickname is El Lince de Parlo, which translates out roughly to “the sharp-sighted one of Parla,” which is as refreshing as it is obtuse. OK, so you didn't need to know that. Since the emphases on the overly rested Castillejo's training appears to lean more to wind sprints than sparring, I think I will take a flyer and pick Fernando Vargas by decision.
Pat Putnam

I figure for about four, five rounds Vargas can hold it together – even look crisp – before his back acts up and he has to go through the motions till the final bell. Castillejo, though accurate, isn't the same puncher Tito is, so he shouldn't be able to stop Vargas. Castillejo brings to mind Piccirillo, and endless European fighters: worlds of stamina, a bothersome flicking jab, and circling at full-gallop left and right so far away that rope burns are the only concern. It's been a long time since I've seen either man, but I think Castillejo will put enough rounds in the bank to earn a split nod. Between Vargas' back and Castillejo's non-electrifying style, it should be all about if “El Feroz” can pull the trigger. Not at this stage of his career – too much wear-and-tear. He's more menace than substance.
Joe Rein

Is Fernando Vargas a fading fighter or a more mature one? That is the biggest question surrounding his sporadic career since his loss to Oscar De La Hoya in 2002. Regardless, Vargas will have very little trouble with Javier Castillejo and fight fans will not gain any more foresight on El Feroz’s future. Vargas by TKO.
Aaron Tallent

Articles of 2005

In Boxing News: Floyd Mayweather An All-Time Great, Valuev & More




A Shot of Boxing on the Last Day of the Year

The Guardian reports that talks have already taken place between Nicolay Valuev‘s co-promoters – Don King and Wilfried Sauerland – and Danny Williams‘ promoter Frank Warren for Nicolay Valuev to face Danny Williams. I’d suggest Danny Williams needs to worry about Matt Skelton (who Williams is reportedly scheduled to fight in February) before he entertains notions of facing the Beast From The East.

The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.

The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holder Mark Woolnough. Woolnough’s career turned controversial – as widely reported in the Canadian press – at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It’s an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.

Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There’s plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld’s opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?

(More Boxing News Links at

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights





Hot bantamweight prospect Raul “The Cobra” Martinez heads back to Chicago next Friday night as he is featured in the co-main event of SHOBOX “THE NEW GENERATION,” an action packed evening of professional boxing presented by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions,’ HOME OF THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING, Kathy Duva’s Main Events Inc., along with Miller Lite and TCF Bank.

The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round,  will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.

Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.

Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”

When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”

Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”

Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

The full bout lineup for the evening is:

Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights

Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights

Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights

David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights

Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights

Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights

Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights

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Articles of 2005

Pick ‘Em: Plenty of Big Upcoming Fights in ’06




Here’s the early call on many top matches scheduled for the first half of 2006: Happy New Year!

As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.

It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.

It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.

With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.

Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.

So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.

The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.

Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.

It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.

The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.

Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.

February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.

First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.

As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.

February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th.  This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.

Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.

It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.

Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.

March both comes in and goes out as a lion.

On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.

All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.

It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.

March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.

This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.

This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.

At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.

It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.

On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.

Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.

Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05.  Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.

Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.

This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.

March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.

Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.

Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.

Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.

Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.

The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.

Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.

Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.

If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.

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