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Mares Beats Agbeko To Win Bantam Tourney..AVILA RINGSIDE

David A. Avila

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LAS VEGAS-A strong body attack and some missed low blows by the referee resulted in a majority decision for Abner Mares over IBF bantamweight champion Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko and with the victory he took the Showtime Bantamweight Tournament on Saturday.

 

Ghana’s Agbeko (28-3, 22 KOs) started slowly against Montebello’s Mares (22-0-1, 13 KOs) at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and suffered from some missed calls. Still, it was a very riveting contest and the title changed hands amid a pro-Mares crowd.

 

Mares opened the fight in the first round with both guns blazing to the head and the body. It was a plan of attack that Mares used throughout the fight. A combination dropped Agbeko near the end of the first round. A replay showed that it seemed to be a slip but Agbeko did not complain.

 

“I like to work the body,” said Mares. “Opponents tend to back away or they hold me down.”

 

Agbeko’s constant use of his arm to hold Mares’ head down resulted in numerous blows below the belt. Referee Russell Mora warned Agbeko many times to refrain from that tactic and it would later prove pivotal in the fight.

 

Agbeko also used jabs to keep Mares out of range of his power shots and that would be his main weapon. The Ghanian fighter kept the fight at arms distance but was tagged by a clean right hand by Mares in round two.

 

Mares and Agbeko turned round three into a tactical affair as the African fighter was more intent on counter punching. A counter left hook by Mares scored big as did  his repeated body attacks.

 

A big overhand right by Agbeko wobbled Mares in round four but the Southern Californian maintained his balance and resumed the body attack. But it was clearly Agbeko’s round.

 

Mares landed a pretty left hook to the body and head combinations and a fierce counter right hand in round five to take back the momentum. Agbeko continued his jabbing attack and setting up the right hand.

 

Big counter lefts and rights continued Mares’ assault on Agbeko in round six. An accidental clash of heads resulted in a cut on Mares left eye as the strong African boxer began to score more often.

 

Round seven saw Mares slow down and allow the more tactical Agbeko to win the opening minute. Though both slugged it out near the end it was Agbeko who scored more clean blows.

 

In the eighth and ninth rounds Mares slowed down his attack and Agbeko began to score more with his jab and accidental head butts. But in the closing seconds of both rounds Mares scored with counter rights but Agbeko seemed to be busier.

 

Mares escaped a point deduction for a low blow and dropped Agbeko with a left hook in the 11th round. A replay of the knockdown showed that Mares left hook was indeed below the belt. That knockdown did not proved to be the winning margin as Mares won by majority decision 113-113 and 115-111 on two score cards to win the IBF world title and the finale of the Showtime Bantamweight Tournament.

 

“The first knock down was good and the second one I hit him on the belt,” said Mares adding that Agbeko’s tactic of using his arm to force Mares head down prompted the blows below the belt. “He (Agbeko) was holding me down.”

 

Mares wins the world title and claims as the best bantamweight in the world by winning the tournament. But out there is WBO-WBC world titleholder Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire that could result in the ultimate bantamweight finale.

 

“I’m hoping for anything,” said Mares about possibly fighting Donaire in a mega showdown.

 

Not pleased with the outcome was Agbeko.

 

“I felt I had two opponents in Abner Mares and the referee,” said Agbeko. “The referee took away my title tonight not Abner Mares.”

 

Other bouts

 

Texas heavyweight Eric Molina 18-1, 14 KOs) started slowly against Kentucky’s Warren Browning (14-2-1, 9 KOs) who started quickly against the favored fighter. But it didn’t last long as Molina’s pinpoint punching proved too much in winning by knockout and grabbing the vacant WBC U.S. heavyweight title.

 

Browning bulled his way inside with his strength and fired overhand rights and uppercuts to score early inside against Molina in the first round. But that would be it.

 

Round two saw Molina aggressively fire combinations to create more space. Though several blows landed Browning clowned at the attempt, then while moving into punching range a short right hand floored the Kentuckian. He beat the count and jumped back to his feet. Back to attack mode Browning was not shy but was hit with a right to the body then a right to the chin and down he went again. Once more he beat the count.

 

Molina began round three looking to drop that big right hand and found an opening as Browning moved to fire a blow. Down he went again but this time referee Robert Byrd stopped the fight at 26 seconds of the round.

 

“He came out wild, I stayed calm and took him out,” said Molina who fights out of Lyford, Texas. “They (fans) know there is a true Mexican heavyweight contender.”

 

Former flyweight world champion Eric Morel (45-2, 23 KOs) proved he can hang with the talented bantamweights by steamrolling Daniel Quevedo (13-12-2, 8 KOs) in four rounds by technical knockout.

 

Puerto Rico’s Morel, who is also known as “Little Hands of Steel,” proved it by knocking down the usually sturdy chinned Quevedo twice before the Mexican fighter remained on his stool at the end of round four. A perfectly placed right uppercut floored Quevedo in round two and a four punch combo did the job in round one.

 

Though not ranked in the top 10 in the WBO bantamweight division where dynamic Nonito Donaire holds the crown, Morel is eager to face the “Filipino Flash.”

 

“I would definitely be ready for him and definitely be the next WBO bantamweight champion,” said Morel.

 

A listless Carlos Molina (14-0-1, 7 KOs) dragged through eight rounds with Mexico’s Juan Manuel Montiel (6-4-3, 1 KO) in a fight that was scheduled to be a junior welterweight bout but was moved up in weight when the California boxer was unable to make weight. The eight round fight ended in a split draw.

 

Molina just didn’t have his A game perhaps due to the attempt to make the agreed upon weight limit. Though he was the bigger puncher he just couldn’t manage enough energy to offset the high energy output of Montiel.

 

Judge Lisa Giampa scored it 77-75 for Montiel and Dwayne Ford tabbed 77-75 Molina, Dick Houseman had it 76-76 resulting in a split draw.

 

Newly arrived Cuban refugee Angelo Santana (11-0, 8 KOs) blasted out Germany’s Ramzan Adaev (8-1-1, 7 KOs) with a neck wrenching left hand during a heavy exchange. It was the second knockdown of round two and the impact from that punch was heard throughout the arena. Santana won by knockout at 2:06 of round two of the junior welterweight match. It was Adaev’s first pro loss.

 

“I wanted to make a statement to my promoter, Don King; the sport of boxing; and boxing fans everywhere that I am ready to fight the best at the 140-pound limit,” Santana said in the ring after the fight.  “I want Brandon Rios or Vernon Paris.”

 

 

 

 

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 105: Angry Welterweights and More

David A. Avila

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Those welterweights don’t play.

One welterweight just got out of jail and wants to take out his angry frustrations in the boxing ring.

“One of us is getting knocked out. If it gets to where I’m behind on points, I’m just going to come forward and try to take him out, even if I end up getting knocked out,” said Juan Carlos Abreu. ““If he stands and fights, it’s better for me. That’s what I want.”

Standing in front of Abreu (23-5-1) will be one of the top welterweights in America, Philadelphia’s Jaron Ennis (25-0, 23 KOs). This is could be Ennis’ first true test against an experienced foe on Saturday Sept. 19, at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. Showtime will televise the Premier Boxing Champions card.

Ennis, 23, has been breezing easily since first jumping in the prize ring in April 2016. So far, the competition has been unable to cope with the athleticism he possesses. Will Abreu be the first to pose a problem?

“Whatever he brings, we are going to be ready. I’m going to go out there, do my thing, be smart, have my fun, and get that stoppage at the end of the night,” said Ennis, whose last opponent Bakhtiyar Eyubov was eliminated in four rounds in January. “You can’t just go in there and go for the knockout. That’s how you get tired and lose your cool or even get hit with punches that you shouldn’t be getting hit with.”

Abreu hopes he loses his cool.

“If he stands and fights, it’s better for me. That’s what I want. I really want one of us to get knocked out,” says Abreu of the Dominican Republic who was purportedly jailed for street fighting.

This welterweight matchup is the precursor to the WBC super welterweight eliminator between Terrell Gausha (21-1-1, 10 KOs) and Erickson Lubin (22-1, 16 KOs).

Gausha and Lubin both have lost once in their pro careers and need a win to get another crack at a world title.

Gausha lost a decision to Erislandy Lara three years ago. Lubin was stopped in one round by Jermell Charlo three years ago. Both realize the nature of the beast.

“I think Gausha has some problems with southpaws, but I’m not focused on that. I’m focused on my game plan and coming out victorious Saturday night,” said Lubin, 24, a southpaw called “the Hammer” for a reason.

Gausha is originally from Cleveland, Ohio but trains in Southern California and has fought four elite southpaws in his career. He believes one more is not a problem.

“This will be my fourth southpaw in a row. So, I’m more comfortable and familiar this time around,” said Gausha, 33, a former US Olympian who trains with Manny Robles Jr. “The guys before me, they all fought each other. Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran. They all fought each other. To be the best, you have to beat the best. And you can see that the fights I take, even after a long layoff, they are tough fights.”

Top Rank

Also, on Saturday Sept. 19, heavyweights and super lightweights lead a Top Rank card featuring some interesting bouts that will be shown on ESPN+.

Newly acquired Efe Ajagba (13-0,11 KOs) meets Jonnie Rice (13-5-1) in a 10-round heavyweight clash. It’s Nigeria’s Ajagba’s second fight this year. Though still a little raw he shows immense potential and great natural strength.

Rice fights out of Bones Adams’ Gym in Las Vegas and has some power. He built up his record on heavyweights in Tijuana boxing rings but has some pop. He’s a sizeable heavyweight and good measuring stick for Ajagba.

The main event is a doozy.

Puerto Rico’s Jose “The Sniper” Pedraza (27-3, 13 KOs) meets Southern California’s Javier Molina (22-2, 9 KOs) in a 10-round super lightweight bout at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas.

This should be good.

Pedraza, 31, is a former WBO lightweight world titlist who lost in his first defense to Vasyl Lomachenko. Nothing bad about that. He defeated Mexico’s Raymundo Beltran for the belt and has shown a penchant for showing up big when you least expect it.

Molina, 30, is a 2008 US Olympian and a member of the fighting Molina family. His brother Oscar was a member of Mexico’s 2012 Olympic team. His other brother Carlos fought for the world title against Amir Khan. Though Javier Molina has never shown great power, he can truly fight.  His last win came against Amir Imam this past February.

Pending Lightweight Clash

Speaking of the lightweight division, is anyone else as excited as me about the looming showdown between the remarkable Vasyl Lomachenko and impressive Teofimo Lopez coming in less than a month?

Lomachenko, 32, the Ukrainian stylist known as “Hi Tech,” has that incredible footwork and ability to control distance. He’s a master of frustrating opponents and imposing his style of darting in and out of danger. But as good as he is, he can’t sell tickets. Only hardcore fans appreciate his peerless boxing skills.

Lopez, 23, hails from Brooklyn and has that ex-factor you can’t teach. He’s pizzazz and panache with a punch. That combination of flair and power excites fans and seemingly makes him a natural gate attraction. But in spite of his electric abilities, he’s facing a master boxer. Is he ready?

Top Rank is known for having a team of matchmakers headed by boxing wizard Bruce Trampler. It makes me wonder why they are pitting these two against each other?

The probable answer: neither sells out an arena alone. May the best man win.

A friend of mine from East L.A., who formerly boxed and comes from a boxing family, shared his knowledge and opinion on the matchup. He has an interesting take.

“His footwork is incredible,” said George Rodriguez about Lomachenko. “Don’t get me wrong, Teofimo is an incredible talent, but Lomachenko has that footwork.”

Any way you look at it, the winner of this clash clearly bumps up his own image.

Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) versus Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas on October 17. Mark down that date. It will be televised on ESPN.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: The Sept. 26 Horn of Plenty and Other Notes

Arne K. Lang

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Considering the constraints, the month of September has been a pretty good month for professional boxing. And the month will close with a flourish. Eight world title-holders will be in action on the 26th, the last Saturday of the month.

Five of the belt-holders will appear on the SHOWTIME PPV doubleheader featuring the Charlo twins. The most intriguing fight on that card finds Jermall Charlo risking his belt and his undefeated record against rugged Sergiy Deveryanchenko. At last glance, Jermall was a consensus 17/10 (minus-170) favorite. In baseball, a 17/10 favorite is a heavy favorite. In boxing, not so. A serious handicapper who wouldn’t think of laying 17/10 in a baseball game would have no hesitation about laying these odds in a boxing match.

When Deveryanchenko steps into the ring, 51 weeks will have elapsed since his last fight, his bruising tiff with Gennadiy Golovkin. Jermall Charlo hasn’t been on the shelf for quite that long, having last fought in December.

A more interesting match on this particular Saturday, at least in the eyes of this reporter, will unfold earlier that day in Munich when the curtain finally comes down on Season 2 of the long-drawn-out World Boxing Super Series. Two titles will be on the line when Mairis Briedis (26-1, 19 KOs) meets Yuniel Dorticos (24-1, 22 KOs).

Briedis’ lone defeat came at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk in a very competitive fight. Briedis won five rounds on two of the cards and won six rounds on the other. Dorticos’ lone defeat came on enemy turf in Sochi, Russia when he was stopped with eight seconds remaining in a doozy of a fight with Murat Gassiev.

Forget the titles; titles are a dime a dozen. These two guys are plainly the two best cruiserweights on the planet.

“The tickets are flying out the door and we expect to sell out within hours, if not days,” said co-promoter Kalle Sauerland at a pre-fight press conference.

That assertion was made way back on January 22 when the fight, originally targeted for late December of last year, was headed to Riga, Latvia, on March 21. That date didn’t work, nor did the re-scheduled date of May 16, and ultimately Riga didn’t work either.

Whatever tickets were sold, had to be refunded. There will be no fans in attendance when Briedis and Dorticos finally lock horns on Sept. 26 at a TV studio in Munich. The fight will air on DAZN in the U.S.

“Rest makes rust” was an often-heard caution when big gamblers of yesteryear dissected a boxing match. The late, great pricemaker Herb Lambeck reflexively shied away from boxers that had been inactive for a considerable period of time. For him, the Briedis-Dorticos match would likely be a head-scratcher. Both combatants have been inactive since June 15 of last year when they appeared in separate bouts on the same card in Riga, Briedis’s hometown. And they aren’t getting any younger. Briedis is 34 and Dorticos is 35.

The odds got nicked down somewhat when the site shifted from Riga with fans to Munich without, predictably so as Briedis, the first fighter from Latvia to win a world title, has an avid local following.

Briedis, the superior boxer, is a consensus 9/5 favorite. That seems a shade high as he won’t be able to feed off the crowd – there won’t be a crowd – and Dorticos, the Cuban KO Doctor, has a better chance of ending the fight with one punch. It wouldn’t be shocking if the fight followed a similar tack as the recent fight between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin.

In case you missed it, Whyte was dominating his Russian adversary when things changed in a flash in the fifth round. Out of nowhere, Povetkin, the underdog, unleashed a picture-perfect uppercut that left Whyte flat on his back, unconscious before he hit the canvas. There have been other smashing one-punch knockouts this year – Ryan Garcia’s demolition of Francisco Fonseca comes quickly to mind – and there may be a few more, but it’s hard to visualize anyone topping Povetkin in the voting for Knockout of the Year.

By the way, if he wins it, Povetkin, 41, would be the second-oldest boxer to score the Knockout of the Year. George Foreman was 45 when he knocked out Michael Moorer in 1994. The source is The Ring magazine which has been issuing this award since 1989.

And if you happen to know the youngest fighter to score The Ring Knockout of the Year, then you’re pretty sharp. No, it’s not baby-faced Naoya Inoue, who is older (27) than he looks. The honor goes to the long-forgotten African-American/Filipino southpaw Morris East who was 19 when he knocked out defending WBA 140-pound champion Akinobu Hironaka in 1992.

In a rarity, it didn’t take long for Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte to agree on a rematch. They will meet again on Nov. 21. The venue is undecided, but Eddie Hearn is hopeful that he can pot the fight somewhere outside his backyard “fight camp” with fans in attendance. The first lines on the fight show Whyte the favorite in the vicinity of 13/5. Povetkin-Whyte II will be a nice appetizer for the Errol Spence vs. Danny Garcia match that goes off later that day.

In an unrelated development, Fury-Wilder III is purportedly going to Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders, in late December. Bob Arum anticipates a crowd of 10,000-15,000 with social distancing protocols in place.

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Meekins vs. Kawoya: File It Under Bizarre

Ted Sares

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 It was August 8, 1988. The location was Resorts International in Atlantic City. The main event featured New Yorker John Wesley Meekins (18-1-2) vs another New Yorker (via Uganda and Denmark) Mohammed Kawoya (11-3).

The rangy and skilled Meekins with a stellar amateur career was a clear favorite over the lesser known Kawoya who had fought only once in the US, losing to Jorge Maysonet on cuts at the Felt Forum. Meekins was expected to move on to a world title fight after dispatching Kawoya.

Meekins enjoyed a successful career between 1984 and 1994, fighting the likes of Davey Montana, Mike Mungin, Harold Brazier, Saoul Mamby, Santos Cardona, Darrin Morris (who won his last 16 fights in a row), and Terence Alli. He would lose to a prime Meldrick Taylor (20-0-1) in 1989 with the IBF World Super Lightweight title at stake.

On June 15, 1990, Meekins beat Santos Cardona over 12 rounds to win the NABF light-welterweight championship, but would lose it to Terence Alli some seven months later. It was downhill after that and he retired in November 1994 with a record of 24-5-2 after being stopped by so-so Darryl Lattimore.

Back to Meekins vs. Kawoya

 This one did not go as expected. After being decked in round 2, Kawoya dropped Meekins in the opening seconds of round 3. An exciting fight with multiple knockdowns and furious exchanges was in progress and the fans loved it.

An aroused Meekins then went after the Ugandan with a vengeance and set up one of the most bizarre endings that few boxing fans have ever heard about, much less witnessed, as he again dropped Kawoya this time with a fast left hook. He then went for the kill. Referee Paul Venti sensed it and moved in—perhaps prematurely– as Meekins unleashed what he hoped would be a fight-ending volley of hard shots.

 As soon as Venti stepped in to stop the fight, Kawoya landed a right that dropped Meekins and had him crawling on the canvas and holding on to the ropes devoid of his senses for at least ten seconds. The punch was thrown at the exact moment that Venti ended matters and Venti didn’t realize what had occurred.

 While Kawoya thought he has scored a clean KO and celebrated wildly, the fact was that Venti had ended the fight a fraction of a second before and his decision would stand.

The fans not only enjoyed a great fight, they witnessed something truly memorable—something that had to be seen to be believed; namely, a winner struggling to get up and a loser celebrating what he thought was a knockout.

Kawoya pulled out of the rematch because of a throat infection and Saoul Mamby took his place as a late sub. The Ugandan never fought again, while Meekins never got the title shot that a more impressive effort might have gotten him.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com or on Facebook and welcomes comments.

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