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Articles of 2005

Heavyweights Fizzle, Cruiserweights Sizzle




The world is full of surprises. It’s pretty much a given that if you believe you know something – really know it – the outcome will invariably wind up different than you expect.

That was the case at the Hollywood Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL Friday night. Warriors Boxing in association with Cedric Kushner staged a six-bout card, which on paper was laughable. Each fight was a bigger mismatch than the next, with the exception of the Shannon Briggs-Ray Mercer main event, which would have been interesting eight years ago.

Hurricane Katrina struck South Florida the night before, catching many off-guard. The storm was more ferocious and took a different path than was expected. Callers to Warriors and the Hard Rock were unable to get through. There was no way the show could go on.

Sure enough, the doors to the beautiful Hard Rock Live theater opened promptly at 6:30. While I was glad to be at the event and talk shop with the writers, boxers, industry insiders and fans that regularly attend, I assumed the favorites would win and do so in a rout. Warriors rarely matches their boxers in tough bouts. At least not on purpose. It would most likely be an early night.

The opening bout was a joke as expected. Lance “Mount” Whitaker, 30-3-1 (25) destroyed Louis Monaco, 14-31-4 (7) in three. Whitaker outweighed the game Monaco by sixty pounds. It looked like a heavyweight vs. a middleweight. The boxer formerly known as Goofi crashed right hands into Monaco’s face for the better part of six and a half minutes. Although he was not in distress, referee Tommy Kimmons did Monaco a favor by stopping the bout thirty seconds into the third.

Power punching light heavy Edison Miranda, 23-0 (20) put on sixteen pounds since his last fight in June and pitched a shutout over 6 against tough Hilario Guzman, 6-18-3 (1). Miranda, who came to the U.S. from Colombia, was 20-0 (20) when he arrived in this country. Since then he’s been extended the distance three times. Miranda hammered Guzman’s body all night long. Guzman to his credit never stopped trying, but didn’t have enough to overpower Miranda.

Fan favorite Juan Urango, 16-0-1 (13), defended some regional belt and won another with a spectacular knockout over Andre Eason, 15-4. Urango who is built and fights like a 140 pound Mike Tyson, has very heavy hands and is content to let the action unfold rather than jump all over his opponents.

Eason took several big shots in the early rounds but always came back, fighting a sound tactical bout. Towards the end of round three, both fired straight right hands. Urango’s got there first and Eason fell to the canvas.

Eason went down again in the fourth from a left hook. Realizing that he was trailing badly on the scorecards, Eason woke up and took the fight to Urango. By the middle of the seventh, although Urango was landing the heavier blows, momentum shifted in favor of Eason, who was busier and more accurate. Eason was very effective digging rights to the body and the going upstairs to the head. As the two were in close near the corner, a devastating right uppercut caught Eason flush and he crashed to the floor. Eason appeared out of it but managed to wobble to his feet. Referee Brian Garry wisely stopped the contest at 2:59 of the seventh.

The next contest was expected to be uncompetitive and it was. Ranked contender Jameel “Big Time” McCline upped his record to 32-5-3 (20) with a three round annihilation of inept 38-year-old, Steve Pannell 34-9 (28). Pannell, who tried to turn the fight into a wrestling match, tasted the canvas in each of the first two rounds. A left hook set up a right hand that ended matters at 2:36 of the third.

Afterwards McCline told “I did what I was supposed to do. I stopped the kid I was supposed to stop.” When asked if he would take any more confidence building fights, McCline responded, “No. I’m a top 10 fighter and I only want top 10 fighters now.”

So far the evening had gone pretty much according to plan. The O’Neil Bell-Sebastian Rothman IBF cruiserweight title fight looked like it would follow the same path. Only Rothman didn’t get the memo.

Not much was known about Rothman, who somehow “earned” his shot at the IBF trinket with a February win over 15-8-3 Anton Nel, despite losing his two previous fights. Luckily for me, I read's Deon Potgieter’s excellent profile on Rothman the other day, so I had an inkling of what to expect. In the first round, however, it was all Bell and the Rothman that Potgieter described appeared to have missed the plane in Johannesburg.

Rothman came on strong in the second, boxing well from the outside. The Israeli born South African caught the defending champion with a big right hand in the third and also scored with a quadruple jab. Rothman was enjoying tremendous success against Bell, who couldn’t seem to get off. It appeared as if every time Rothman threw a jab, good things happened. Press row started buzzing about a possible huge upset. “Has there ever been an Israeli born champion? Who was the last Jewish world champion (we assumed he was Jewish),” we inquired.  Meanwhile, Bell was doing his best impression of Andrew Golota and went below the belt more often than Jenna Jameson. Referee Tommy Kimmons repeatedly warned the champ.

At the end of the fourth round, Rothman dropped the champion. However, Kimmons incorrectly ruled that it occurred after the round ended. Bell rose on wobbly legs and was led back to his corner.

In the sixth, Bell became more aggressive and took the first round on the scorecards since the opening frame. After Kimmons ignored several more low blows he was finally forced to take a point away from Bell in the seventh. Meanwhile, the champ changed his strategy. Rather than allowing Rothman to set him up with the jab, Bell smothered him. Rothman was willing to slug it out, which was a mistake against the stronger opponent. By the ninth it looked like Rothman was letting Bell back into the fight. Later in the round, Bell lost another point for going south of the Mason-Dixon Line. He was dangerously close to losing his title by disqualification. By this time, the formerly pro-Bell crowd was chanting “Blue, blue” (the color of Rothman’s trunks). Every time he scored, the building erupted, hoping to see the scrappy underdog pull off the upset.

After ten rounds the fight was back to even. Bell had taken charge once again. An overhand right drove Rothman into the ropes. The South African bounced off and straight into a tremendous right hand. Rothman crumpled in a heap face first. The referee didn’t bother counting to ten as the fallen fighter needed immediate medical attention. After about ten long minutes, he finally rose to a tremendous ovation from the crowd.

Bell, who seemed annoyed by the switch in the crowd’s allegiance, said he knew that Rothman would eventually cave under his pressure. When asked if there would be a rematch, he snapped, “Do you think he needs one when he wakes up?”

At the time of the KO, two judges had it 94-94, while a third scored it 95-93 Bell. The Sweet Science also saw it 94-94.

While many expected a walkover, Bell deserves credit for changing tactics and figuring out a tough opponent. He retained his IBF cruiserweight belt and upped his record to 25-1-1 (23). Rothman slips to 18-4-2 (12).

The main event between Shannon Briggs and Ray Mercer was a snooze fest. Both fighters were content to snap jabs all night long, with an occasional burst of energy from Briggs. Mercer looked every day of his 44 years. Briggs spent more time clowning and trying to convince the crowd and Mercer’s corner than every punch that Mercer landed was ineffective. In the seventh, Mercer lost his balance and went into the ropes. Briggs wrapped his left arm around Mercer and pummeled him with three right hands. Mercer went down and was counted out at the 0:41 mark of the seventh. In the post fight interview, Briggs claimed that Mercer had his back to Briggs. But replays clearly showed Briggs was holding Mercer while he punched with the right hand.

So the heavyweights failed to give off much heat which came as no surprise. But everyone left buzzing about the sensational cruiserweight fight. Let’s hope if there is a rematch, Bell and Rothman are able to meet new and higher expectations.


• Lots of local boxing celebs at ringside. One not so local fighter who was very conspicuous in his presence (and got lots of attention from the fans) was Mitch “Blood” Green. It was hard to miss him considering he was wearing a blue sweatsuit with the words “Mitch Blood Green” on the back.

• Former IBF cruiser champ James Warring refereed the McCline-Pannell and Miranda-Guzman bouts. It would have been nice to have seen him work the Bell-Rothman fight as that would have meant he was refereeing a title bout for the belt he once held.

• I’ve always preferred Michael Buffer to Jimmy Lennon Jr. But after watching Lennon up close, I have to admit he’s a very close second.

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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