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10 Topics Of Conversation From The Cotto-Margarito PPV Party

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10 Topics Of Conversation From The Cotto-Margarito PPV Party – As I’ve noted in recent columns, I started a new job last month, and the workload is staggering. I don’t have time to shave more than once a week, I barely have time to wipe my hindquarters properly (if the workload gets any heavier, I’m going to have to sacrifice that one), and sadly, I don’t have time for my usual 3,500-word pay-per-view running diaries. So we’re going with a modified version—same vibe, less comprehensive, fewer words. It’s a top-10 list, focusing on topics of conversation between me, future Hall of Famer Nigel Collins, and semi-retired boxing writer Bill Dettloff at my Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito II pay-per-view party this past Saturday night. In approximately chronological order, here we go:

1. “Mediocre Mike”

Back in 2009, when Mike Jones couldn’t land a date on HBO or its pay-per-view arm, a legend was spreading about one of boxing’s brightest prospects, a young fighter the major networks were crazy to ignore. Saturday’s fight against Sebastian Lujan provided the latest bit of evidence that the reality doesn’t live up to the legend. As Jones worked his way to a credible but forgettable decision win over Lujan, Nigel dubbed him “Mediocre Mike,” which sounds about right to me. Just because a guy looks the part, that doesn’t mean he can play it. Jones is a solid boxer, a worthy top-10 contender, but he’s not showing me anything to suggest he’ll ever be a star. If the PPV watchers are spending more time marveling over how much your opponent looks like a tattoo-less Cotto than talking about you, that’s not a good sign.

2. Mrs. Cotto’s cleavage

When you see excessive cleavage in person, as Jerry and George taught us, you glance quickly and then you look away. A poke means a peek. But when you’re watching it on TV, you can go ahead and stare at the sun as long as you want. And you can definitely feel free to make crass remarks with your buddies. Melissa Cotto chose to display her assets very prominently, so we chose to ogle, insult, and eventually throw her into a game of “[Expletive], Marry, Kill” with Margarito’s wife and Jinkee Pacquiao. Sorry, Mrs. Cotto, that’s what you get when you show up for the fights dressed like you’re on call to feed newborn quadruplets.

3. Commentators wrapped up

I’m not going to disparage the broadcast crew of Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman, and Emanuel Steward; they were just doing their jobs by reporting throughout the night on the various New York State Athletic Commission-induced stupidities going on behind the scenes. The HBO cameras got great footage of what felt like a terrible pre-match pro wrestling skit, with some commission yutz hilariously referencing “Naazim whatever his name is.” And Steward made a very astute point a short while later about how closely Margarito was watching Robert Garcia wrap his hands, implying that if Javier Capetillo ever put anything in his wraps, Margarito would damned sure know about it. Unfortunately, while all of this was going on, there was an entertaining, hard-fought battle going on in the ring between Delvin Rodriguez and Pawel Wolak, and the commentators were missing key moments as they talked endlessly about hand-wrap-related topics. I’m not sure exactly how they were supposed to balance everything. I don’t have all the answers. I just know that in my living room, there were three frustrated fight fans trying to, you know, watch a fight.

4. Dettloff’s Duds

Bill strolled into my house determined to redefine 21st century fight-watching fashion, strutting down the interior hallway/catwalk sporting the look known as “Freddie Roach On The Top / Gary Shaw On The Bottom.” (Please, no jokes about preferred bedroom positions, okay?) Bill was sporting his self-styled “nerd glasses,” and with his hair having pretty much completed the transformation from reddish-blond to whitish-blond, he was a dead ringer for Coach Roach from the neck up. But from the neck down, he was comfortable as can be in a Sweatsedo. Bill doesn’t have Shaw’s physique, mind you. But with hard work behind the fork and knife, he can get there.

5. “Power Warlock”

Credit to regular reader and podcast listener (and occasional live-fight press-row stalker) Corey Lambert for tweeting this Atlas-ism to us during the Rodriguez-Wolak fight, reminding us of Teddy’s unintentional nickname for the Polish-American slugger. Probably the most enjoyable part of watching this solid action fight was during the final three minutes, when my Ring Theory “Quick Picks” competition with Bill sparked impassioned rooting. Bill wanted Wolak to last the distance and lose a decision; I could have been helped by Rodriguez getting the stoppage. It looked like it might come, but alas, Wolak held on and heard the final bell. I am now one point behind after 11-plus months of picking fights. It’s going to be a thrilling December. And I say that with both extreme seriousness (for me, Bill, and our devoted listeners) and extreme sarcasm (for the rest of the boxing world that wishes I would shut up about Quick Picks already).

6. Buffer loves him some Buffer

I’d never noticed this before (someone on Twitter claimed he’d done it at last month’s Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight too), but Michael Buffer is now reading off of index cards with a picture on the back of, you guessed it, Michael Buffer. Thank goodness the International Boxing Hall of Fame threw Buffer that bone this week and announced his impending induction. He desperately needed the boost to his flagging self-esteem.

7. A fine time for a photo op or phone call

I don’t know about you, but when I’m 45 minutes away from one of the most important—and physically perilous—moments of my career, and I’m trying to warm up and get in the zone for it, that’s probably not the best time for random photo ops and phone chats. Come see me three hours before the fight. Or after it’s over. But not when I’m finishing my final preparations. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Carmelo Anthony. And you, Swizz Beatz, you apparently famous hip-hop industry person whom I’d never heard of prior to Saturday night. And you, first lady of Mexico, whatever your name is. That Cotto and Margarito had to take breaks in the final hour before the fight for public-relations opportunities says sad things about the respect boxers are afforded and/or the lack of consideration for others from our celebrities.

8. Darchinyan defeats Rios

That little headline probably makes no sense whatsoever to you, so allow me to explain: While the rehydrated and revived corpse of Brandon Rios was putting the finishing touches on a bloody John Murray live on the big screen in front of us, Nigel, Bill, and I allowed ourselves to be distracted by the images on the computer screen on my lap, which showed Vic Darchinyan on a French game show, dressed as a mouse, running for his life in some sort of a showdown with a live bull. Nothing against the Rios-Murray fight, but this wasn’t even a contest. Vic nearly getting gored and hiding inside a giant fake wedge of cheese wins the battle for our attention every time.

9. A very braid-y Margarito

Dettloff isn’t the only one whose stylistic choices went under the microscope on Saturday night. Much discussion was also devoted to Margarito’s decision to take his long, douchey hair and put it in little, douchey braids. The verdict: No matter what he does, Margarito looks like a douche. But at least his hair didn’t get in his eyes during the fight.

10. “Just to look at him and taste my victory on him”

The Cotto-Margarito fight was fairly entertaining (if not nearly as thrilling and dramatic as their first fight) and, on the whole, satisfying. But what really stood out was Cotto’s postfight interview with Max Kellerman, where the Puerto Rican hero took advantage of the right, which he had fully earned, to be somewhat smug. When asked why he walked over to Margarito’s corner afterward, Cotto responded with the quote above. Unfortunately, the victory was mildly tainted, from my perspective. In the third round, Margarito’s surgically “repaired” right eye swelled shut, and that affected his ability to fight with Cotto on even terms. I’m not saying Cotto wouldn’t have won the fight regardless, but I’m just saying his victory was aided by his opponent’s compromised state entering the fight. And on top of that, the stoppage was somewhat debatable; certainly, Margarito was willing to fight on. Then again, if not for the controversy over the stoppage, we wouldn’t have had the pleasure of a postfight interview with a ringside doctor who seemed like a Christopher Guest character in a mockumentary, complete with turtleneck and tweed blazer. (Hey, Dettloff, I think we’ve found your look for the next pay-per-view party.)

Eric Raskin can be contacted at RaskinBoxing@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin and listen to new episodes of his podcast, Ring Theory, at http://ringtheory.podbean.com.

10 Topics Of Conversation From The Cotto-Margarito PPV Party / Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

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Brandon Figueroa KOs Nery and Danny Roman Wins Too

David A. Avila

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LOS ANGELES-Brandon Figueroa took the air out of Mexico’s Luis Nery to win by knockout and unify the WBA and WBC super bantamweight titles on Saturday. It was a belly buster that did the job.

Texan Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs) set out to prove that Tijuana’s two-division world champion Nery (31-1, 24 KOs) could not endure a toe-to-toe battle with the bigger guys and he proved it before several thousand fans at the Dignity Health Sports Park.

It was a back-and-forth battle that saw Nery attack the body and head while Figueroa focused on winging big blows from a distance and in close. Many of the rounds were extremely close to score.

When Nery was able to battle from a distance and dive inside, he seemed the much more athletic between the two champions. But Figueroa just seemed stronger and unfazed by any of the Mexican fighter’s blows.

Though Figueroa absorbed a lot of punishment, he never seemed in trouble. When Nery connected with a several combinations in the fifth round by landing five-punch and three-punch combinations, it looked like he was taking control.

He did not.

Figueroa opened the sixth round with two left hook blasts that reminded Nery that the taller Texan had a punch. When Nery tried to rally with his own blasts, Figueroa slipped under back-to-back left hooks. It seemed to change the tide.

“I knew he was getting tired,” said Figueroa. “He was trying to box me.”

In the seventh round Figueroa was able to connect with a left hook and followed up with a lead right. Nery countered with a three-punch combination that was met with Figueroa countering with a three-punch combination to the head and body. Then both fighters exchanged inside and Figueroa connected with a right to the chest and a left uppercut to the solar plexus and down went Nery.

Nery could not beat referee Tom Taylor’s count and was counted out at 2:18 of the seventh round.

Figueroa is now the WBC and WBA super bantamweight unified champion.

“It feels amazing,” said Figueroa. “I know everyone doubted me.”

Roman Wins Super Bantam Eliminator

Los Angeles-based Danny Roman (29-3-1, 10 KOs) battered Mexico’s Ricardo Espinoza (25-4, 21 KOs) to win convincingly by unanimous decision after 10 rounds in a super bantamweight fight.

After a slow start Roman began to out-maneuver the heavy-punching Espinoza and found openings for left uppercuts. Boy did he find openings.

“I concentrated on finding my distance,” said Roman.

Roman snapped Espinoza’s head back so many times it seemed that the Mexican fighter would not be able to last the full 10 rounds. But like most Mexican fighters he would not quit.

Espinoza tried every move in his catalogue but nothing worked against the superb technique used by Roman, who formerly held the IBF and WBA super bantamweight world titles. It was a perfect example of technical prowess defeating raw power.

The uppercut was the chosen weapon of choice and Roman exhibited how to throw it from various positions and angles. It landed perfectly every time as if targeted by a laser. Espinoza never could avoid the uppercut.

During the last three rounds Espinoza’s face was bloody and battered while Roman looked as if he were merely sparring. The end seemed near but the fighter from Tijuana battled until the final bell.

“I thought he was going to go down,” said Roman. “But he had a big heart.”

All three judges scored it for Roman at 97-93 and 98-92 twice.

“It’s a step closer to getting back my titles,” said Roman who lost the titles to Murodjon Akhmadaliev a year ago by split decision. “I’m here to fight the best.”

Martinez Beats Burgos

Sacramento’s Xavier Martinez (16-0, 11 KOs) discovered that Tijuana’s Juan Carlos Burgos (34-5-2, 21 KOs) still has plenty of fight remaining and showed it with a gutsy 10 rounds of back-and-forth battering. Still, Martinez won by unanimous decision though every round was competitive.

Boy was it competitive.

Martinez, 23, had a 10-year advantage in youth but was unable to convince Burgos. Every round saw savage combinations connect by each fighter, but the judges all felt that the Sacramento fighter was superior. All three scored it 99-91 for Martinez. The crowd booed the decision.

“I was landing the cleaner shots,” said Martinez. “He’s a tough competitor.”

Other Results

A super lightweight match saw Jose Valenzuela (8-0) knock out Nelson Hampton (7-4) in the first round.

Gabriela Fundora (1-0) won her pro debut by unanimous decision over Jazmin Valverde (2-2) in a four round flyweight match. Fundora is the sister of super welterweight contender Sebastian Fundora.

A lightweight bout was won by Justin Cardona (5-0) by first round knockout of James De Herrera (4-7).

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Buatsi Flattens Dos Santos in Manchester; Charr KOs Fraudulent Lovejoy in Cologne

Arne K. Lang

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In a Knockout of the Year candidate, rising light heavyweight contender Joshua Buatsi (14-0, 12 KOs) leveled Daniel Blenda Dos Santos, an unheralded Frenchman, in the fourth round, closing the show with a pulverizing right hand – and for good measure, touching him with another right as he fell. A 2016 Olympic bronze medalist for England, the Ghana-born Buatsi trained for two months in the California Bay Area under his new trainer Virgil Hunter and his American sojourn paid dividends.

Dos Santos, who found his way to boxing after serving three-and-a-half years in prison, was undefeated (15-0, 8 KOs) coming in, but hadn’t fought beyond six rounds. He was knocked down earlier in the fight with a chopping right hand. There were less than 20 seconds remaining in the fourth when Buatsi put Dos Santos to sleep, and to his credit he did not celebrate but consoled his distraught victim.

Other Bouts

In a shocker, 31-year-old southpaw Jason Cunningham improved to 29-6 (6) with a unanimous decision over Gamal Yafai (18-2) who was making the first defense of the European bantamweight title that he won in Milan.

Cunningham had Yafai on the canvas three times — knocking him down with left hands in the second, fourth and sixth rounds — but Yafai, the younger brother of former 115-pound world title-holder Kal Yafai — wasn’t deterred and kept coming forward. In the end, however, Cunningham’s lead was too big for Yafai to overcome. The judges had it 115-110 and 114-111 x2 for the southpaw who was a consensus 10/1 underdog.

Super middleweight Lerrone Richards breezed to a lopsided 12-round decision over Italian veteran Giovanni DeCarolis to snatch a vacant European title. Trained by Dave Coldwell, who previously handled Tony Bellew, Richards was content to rack up points and the one-dimensional DeCarolis, who was making his first start in 23 months, had no way to stop him.

The judges had it 120-108 and 119-109 twice. The London-born Richards, whose family roots are in Ghana, improved to 15-0 (3). This may have been the last rodeo for the 36-year-old DeCarolis who fell to 28-10-1.

Belfast’s Tommy McCarthy (18-2, 9 KOs) was fed a softie for his first defense of his European cruiserweight title in the form of 36-year-old Romanian Alexandru Jur who brought a 19-4 record but had defeated only four men with winning records. Except for a few brief moments, Jur showed little inclination to mix it up. McCarthy put Jur down with a body punch in round four and finished him off two rounds later with another body punch. The official time was 2:09.

McCarthy, who is of Irish and Jamaican descent, moves on to a date with fellow Brit Chris Billam-Smith. Jur lost for the fourth time in his last six starts.

Cologne

Credit Christopher Lovejoy for having the gumption to defy Don King who threatened legal action if Lovejoy went ahead with his match today with WBA “champion in recess” Mahmoud (Manuel) Charr. But the 37-year-old Lovejoy, who arrived in Germany all by himself, traveled a long way to destroy whatever credibility he may have had. Fighting off the grid, he had rung up 19 fast knockouts in 19 fights against 19 presumptive Tijuana taxi drivers.

Carrying 306 ½-pounds, the six-foot-five Lovejoy lasted less than two full rounds against Charr who was making his first ring appearance in 42 months. Lovejoy was counted out after being dropped with a volley of punches in the second round.

Photo credit: Mark Robinson / Matchroom

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 135: Danny Roman and Super Bantamweights Perform in L.A.

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 135: Danny Roman and Super Bantamweights Perform in L.A.

The super bantamweight division was virtually unknown by most fans of prizefighting for the last decade.

Then Danny Roman arrived and re-booted the 122-pound division virtually by himself by challenging and defeating world champions from Japan and the United Kingdom.

Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) no longer holds the world titles but itches to regain his footing when he fights Ricardo Espinoza (25-3, 21 KOs) at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday May 15. Showtime will televise the battle on the Premier Boxing Champions card.

“Everything I do in boxing from here on out is to regain my status as a world champion,” said the normally ultra-reserved Roman, 31.

Ironically, both Roman and Espinoza turned their careers around with numerous battles at boxing shows in Ontario, California. They entered as boys and emerged as battle-tested men.

For the last 20 years Thompson Boxing Promotions has been pumping out world champions and contenders at a furious rate despite their small size in Southern California. They do not pamper or cajole their prospects.

Both Roman and Espinoza suffered their first losses as professionals at Thompson Boxing’s bloody battles at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario. But despite losing, they continued to learn and evolve. Now they meet in Los Angeles on the big stage.

When Roman lost to Japan’s Takashi Okada in 2011 and Juan Reyes in 2013, that could have derailed the Los Angeles-based fighter for good. Instead, he re-grouped and reloaded to become a unified world champion. Roman traveled to Japan and won the WBA super bantamweight world title by stoppage of Shun Kubo in 2017. A couple of years later after several defenses, he clashed with WBO super bantamweight titlist TJ Doheny to win an incredible battle by decision in Los Angeles. It was perhaps the Fight of the Year in 2019 and gained Roman the WBO belt.

Though Roman lost both the WBA and WBO titles to Murodjon Akhmadaliev, it was a disputed split decision. Many felt Roman was the true winner. So now he must battle back toward the top.

Espinoza also fought many bloody affairs at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario including his first two losses. He lost to Sam Rodriguez in 2016 and Christian Nieto in 2017. Then the power-punching fighter from Tijuana, Mexico knocked out 12 of 13 of his opponents to gain a world title fight that he lost in April 2019. Since then, he has returned to his winning ways and upset undefeated Brandon Valdes last year.

“Danny Roman has fought some really quality opponents that are high in the rankings, but this is my time. This is when I show that I can step up in competition and prove that I belong with the best,” said Espinoza who is very familiar with Roman.

The Tijuana fighter is a punching machine.

“This is not going to be an easy fight because I know my opponent is a tough fighter from Tijuana who is coming with everything he’s got. He’s got a lot of power, so I must be smart on how I throw my combinations,” said Roman who lives within 10 miles of the event. “I believe my experience in big fights is going to be the difference on May 15. I’m expecting a rough fight and I’m ready for an intense battle.”

Now the two veterans of the Ontario, California wars finally meet each other to see who advances toward a world title fight. They won’t have to look far. The main event pits two titleholders against each other.

Unification Battle for Super Bantam Belts

Mexico’s Luis Nery holds the WBC super bantamweight world title and faces Texan Brandon Figueroa who holds a version of the WBA super bantamweight title in the main event on the Dignity Health Sports Park card on Saturday. Showtime will televise.

Nery formerly held the bantamweight title too. But the Tijuana-based fighter had problems making weight and wisely moved up a weight division. So far, the extra pounds hasn’t been a problem.

The problem facing Nery is Figueroa has a solid chin.

Figueroa may look like a pretty boy but he fights like he’s ugly. The Weslaco, Texas native has firepower and a rock chin but does he have the skills to match Nery?

“I come forward. I bring the pressure and I’m definitely going to bring the power, the size and all the advantages I have to make sure that we give the fans a great show. I do respect him as a fighter but we’re just going to have to find out Saturday,” said Figueroa whose brother Omar Figueroa fought in the same venue two weeks ago.

Nery has quickness and agility to supplement his power. He also has experience in world class opposition and that’s something Figueroa lacks.

“Brandon’s style really fits with what I want to do in the ring,” said Nery, a boxer-slugger. “This is going to be an all-out war from the first round on. People are going to be talking about it for a long time after.”

The winner of this clash will hopefully meet the winner of Roman and Espinoza. That would really heat up the super bantamweight division to blue hot levels.

Some of my favorite fighters of the past occupied the super bantamweight division like Wilfredo “Bazooka” Gomez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Israel “Magnifico” Vazquez who twice fought in this same venue. His third fight with Rafael Marquez on March 1, 2008 was voted Fight of the Year for its brutal but spectacular display of super bantamweight power.

The winners of this quasi-super bantamweight tournament can equally achieve the same kind of greatness those former stars achieved. This is a good start.

Fights to Watch (All times are Pacific Coast)

Friday UFC Fight Pass 5:30 p.m. Heather Hardy (22-1) vs Jessica Camara (7-2); Melissa St. Vil (13-4-4) vs Olivia Gerula (18-18-4).

Friday Telemundo 11:30 p.m. Denilson Valtierra (14-0) vs Emanuel Lopez (30-12-1).

Sat. DAZN 10 a.m. Lerrone Richards (14-0) vs Giovanni De Carolis (28-9-1).

Sat. Showtime 7 p.m. Luis Nery (31-0) vs Brandon Figueroa (21-0-1); Danny Roman (28-3-1) vs Ricardo Espinoza (25-3).

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