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Ward Trainer Virgil Hunter Talks Kessler, Bute and Going to 175..MARKARIAN

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WardAbrahamPrePC Hogan100Only the endless bickering of Republican Presidential candidates can rival the arguments spewed between some of boxing’s best. Because whether they are trying to gain a title or defend one, fighters always need an opponent. And after beating Carl Froch last month to win the Super Six Tournament, super middleweight champion Andre Ward has yet to find his next foe. Worthy contenders Mikkel Kessler and Lucian Bute await a shot at the undefeated Ward.

In the spirit of debate, TSS enters the mind of perpetual boxing wisdom of Ward’s trainer Virgil Hunter. With Hunter, Ward has risen up the pound for pound boxing rankings. Hunter gives thoughts on potential fights with Bute and Kessler, and from the generally recognized 2011 trainer of the year we received an education on boxing business.

In our discussion, Hunter tells us copious reasons why Andre Ward will choose his next opponent. Check out what else he has to say.

RM: What do you gather from everything you hear about fights with either Mikkel Kessler or Lucian Bute? What is your opinion?

VH: We made it clear about Bute. We just got out of a long tournament. We are just asking him to fight somebody along the same caliber that we fought. You got a lot of Super Six fighters out there that he could fight. He could fight Dirrell. Kessler looks like he is ready. We are not asking him to fight each one of them. But at least fight one of them. You know, and it is better for both of us.

RM: So if Bute beats Carl Froch, or knocks him out, then we are going to see Ward vs. Bute?

VH: If he fights Froch and stops him, the call for Ward and Bute goes higher and louder. Bute will sway the masses that say, ‘Hey Ward decisioned Froch, but Bute stopped Froch.’ If Bute stops Froch it will automatically grow a Ward vs. Bute fight proportionally. And we could both capitalize on a fight of that magnitude. I think Bute fighting Froch or anyone in the Super Six would help both parties.

RM: But do you feel like you are in the place to make this type of decision for Lucian Bute?

VH: Well, first of all we are humble people. Whatever position we are in right now we earned it. We did not talk our way into that position. We fought our way to that position. And I think what we have requested is not unreasonable at all. I think it is very reasonable considering where Lucian Bute’s and Andre’s careers have gone in the last three years. Bute and his team are genuine people. I don’t think they have any problems with it.

RM: Now talking about Kessler. It seems like Kessler has a sense of entitlement through all of this. I mean, he lost to Ward, beat Carl Froch, and then basically disappeared. Now he is back in the talks to fight Andre again. How do you feel about that?  

VH: Well first of all, there has been no indication that Mikkel Kessler wants to fight Andre. Before we fought Froch, they (Kessler’s team) put out a ten million dollar offer for the winner of the Super Six to fight Mikkel Kessler.

RM: When did you hear that?

VH: I heard this maybe three weeks before the Super Six final. Sauerland (Kessler’s promoter) put out a huge statement. It is in writing. They were supposedly willing to pay each fighter ten million dollars to fight them in Denmark, regardless of who won. On the week of the (Ward vs. Froch) fight, they made it clear that they were pulling for Carl Froch to win. I believe that if Carl Froch won, that offer would still be on the table. That offer would still be talked about right now. But for some reason, we don’t hear anything about it after we won the fight. From that sense I am very disappointed in Sauerland promotions and I am very disappointed in Mikkel Kessler.

RM: So at the end of the day Kessler does not want to fight Andre Ward?

VH: Well, I am not going to question a man’s heart. Mikkel is a courageous guy. He doesn’t have to prove that he is courageous. But outside of being courageous he is contradicting himself. I heard an interview by Steve Bunce from BBC boxing. Mikkel was giving all kinds of excuses about his loss to Andre and all were untrue. He literally said I made him take his hand wraps off which is not true. They never even started wrapping his hands. Then he said we subjected him to the cold weather at the press conference. I don’t understand that one. When he left his hotel he should have had a good indication of how cold it was outside. Somebody should have told him to go back in and get a warm jacket and warm gloves. He also indicated that they forced him to leave his dressing room forty-five minutes before the bout. That is definitely untrue because it was a television fight. And he said everything we did to him caused him to lose the fight. Then he warned Carl Froch about it. Thank goodness Carl Froch is a good sport, a strong man, and a dignified man. After the fight was over, Froch said ‘Andre Ward beat me fair and square. I have nothing more to say. He beat me. No excuses.’ That is a good blueprint for Mikkel Kessler. I think Froch, after crying about his loss in Denmark, grew up. He changed for the better of his sport and his division. We just hope Mikkel Kessler would do the same. But we would love to give him an opportunity to redeem himself particularly if there is ten million dollars on the table. I want to know why all of a sudden we are not talking about it.

RM: So you would go to Denmark to fight Mikkel Kessler for ten million dollars?

VH: Let me just say this. I am not saying we’ll go. I am not saying we won’t go. But I am sure we will find a way to fight for ten million dollars. You see?

RM: OK, I see. Well, Kessler lost two fights in his career. Do see it as a sign of disrespect that Kessler only complains about his loss to Ward, not his loss to Joe Calzaghe?  

VH: Well, that goes back to the entitlement statement that you made.

RM: Right.

VH: He just never thought that Andre Ward could beat him. He hasn’t accepted that loss yet. It had a psychological effect on him. Look, that loss had a tremendous effect on him. It was much worse than the Calzaghe fight. Mikkel was in that fight. Calzaghe pulled it out in the last few rounds. He was never close against Andre Ward. So it is a harder loss to deal with. And if all of the excuses he was giving were true then why would he fire his coach? The same guy he has been working with for twenty years. How does the coach fit in the equation, you see what I’m saying?

RM: Yeah.

VH: If he said the hand wraps, weather, and the time was the reason then why did poor Richard Olsen who has been with you for twenty years, been with you from day one, and started you off as a kid when you were fighting for trophies, why was he the scapegoat? He is the one that ended up getting fired. That is what I don’t understand. So it has got to be deeper than the excuses that he is giving. What he needs to do is come to grips with the loss and redeem himself.

RM: Well, if all he does is make excuses, then why even go after Kessler again? There have been plenty of guys making excuses to fight you again, right?  

VH: No. Nobody has ever asked for a rematch.

RM: Kessler is the only one?

VH: He hasn’t asked for a rematch either.

RM: OK.

VH: There is not one person that has asked for a rematch with Andre Ward. That is what people need to realize. And you know what, I don’t want to come out and put words in Mikkel’s mouth. I haven’t heard him say he would or wouldn’t fight Andre again. But his promotional company is saying it. All I heard from Mikkel is excuses.

RM: OK.

VH: Mikkel is champion emeritus. Showtime gave him that position. Showtime said he will have a shot at the winner of the tournament. And I think he should take advantage of that. It is not just for pride or redemption. He is just a great fighter. And great fighters fight. And it is good for the sport and it is good for the division. It is good for Andre Ward and it is good for Mikkel Kessler. However it turns out, I still have respect for him and his company. He is a great champion and doesn’t have to prove anything along those lines. All I am saying is that a second fight would be a great fight.

RM:  So with Bute, you are happy with the fact that he is willing to prove himself against Carl Froch or another member of the Super Six. You guys don’t really want to fight him at the moment, is that correct?

VH: No, I don’t want to say we don’t want to fight him at the moment. We want to fight him at the right moment. There is a difference between the two. We feel entitled to fight at the right moment. And we also feel that it is good for him to fight at the right moment. I mean, come on, and think about it, if he beats Carl Froch in a dominating manner our fight will get really hot. We have validated ourselves to a certain level. All we ask is for him to validate himself to a certain level by taking on the competition. 

RM: So, all of these guys are fighting each other. What’s the next move for you?

VH: Well, we haven’t sat down. We want to take one thing at a time. We want to get the injured hand back in fighting action. There is no sense in talking about the next move until we got things up and running. It is really a time of relaxation and recuperation for Andre Ward. People don’t realize the preparation for all of these fights has been going on for two and a half years. Regardless of what anybody says when you fight Edison Miranda, Mikkel Kessler, Allan Green, Sakio Bika, Arthur Abraham, and Carl Froch that is a gauntlet. A lot of people like to put emphasis in who Froch has fought. Well guess what, we are right there along with him. There is no difference. I don’t see anybody calling out Sakio Bika. And Allan Green is a threat to anybody he gets in the ring with.

RM: OK, so basically you have gone through the pit and fought the best. It is time for these other guys to go through the pit right?

VH: Well, I think it is sound business. I think we have to treat boxing like a business because it is a business. There is no need to rush. We have to make sound decisions. Right now I can’t tell you when we are going to fight and who we are going to fight. But we are anxious to fight again.

RM: Andre was talking about moving up to light heavyweight. How do you feel about that?

VH: For the right fight, I think moving up in weight is a great option. If it is a fight the fans want to see, particularly a reputable opponent, that move could be made in the near future.

RM: The Kessler fight makes sense for the right money. But besides Bute, there is no one left for you to fight at 168 in my opinion. So the natural move would be to move up to 175, right?

VH: There are plenty of challenges for Andre at 168. You know Ray, rematches are always in order. Why fight Kessler? Because he is saying it’s a fluke. And a lot of his fans are saying it’s a fluke. That is why you fight him again. So if he thinks it was a fluke, we will give him an opportunity to prove it was a fluke. His doubt only gives that rematch merit. The fact that he is saying ‘you are not better than me, and the reason why you beat me is because of this’ makes us want to prove him wrong. We think it’s a great fight.

RM: OK.

VH: Sauerland and all those guys need to back up that proposition. Put that ten million back on the table. If not, I’d like to know why you retracted it. Ten million dollars is a good reason to fight, I don’t care who it is.

RM: Alright. Any last words you’d like to share Mr. Hunter?

VH: Well, I’d like to thank all the fans that have supported us. I hope that Andre has proven a lot to people, fighting a fight with a broken hand against a formidable opponent Carl Froch, and coming out of that in a dominant manner. And first and foremost, the boxing world has to realize that they have a great man in Andre Ward. He is a man of principle and a man of integrity. He is not somebody that you should ignore. I know a lot of people don’t understand his style of fighting. But true fight fans understand greatness. And there is greatness in Andre Ward.

RM: Hey, I forgot to ask, how you feel about being recognized as the trainer of the year in 2011?

VH: I am humbled. That is a great feeling. There are a lot of great coaches out there. A lot of people are deserving of being trainer of the year. I leave it up to the boxing writers. I think I did get ESPN trainer of the year. And I am very grateful for that. I am in the coaching fraternity. I know what they go through. I am happy for anybody who gets that award. 

Follow Ray on Twitter @RayMarkarian

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Amanda Serrano and Jake Paul Vanquish Overmatched Foes in Tampa

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Amanda “the Real Deal” Serrano mowed through knockout puncher Stevie Morgan in less than two rounds on Saturday and Jake Paul soundly defeated bare knuckle champion Mike Perry by knockout too.

Paul and Serrano move on to bigger things.

“It’s feels great, it feels amazing. My 50th fight, my 31st knockout, I’m super blessed,” said Serrano.

Despite jumping up three weight divisions Serrano (47-2-1, 31 KOs) showed more than 17,000 fans and Morgan (14-2, 13 KOs) at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, how she was able to win seven weight divisions.

Fans and perhaps Katie Taylor breathed a sigh of relief that Serrano is truly back. In Serrano’s last fight she was forced to withdraw back in March due to an accident to her eye moments before a fight. Now the Puerto Rican and Irish super stars will meet in Texas on November 15.

Fans can expect a rematch of one of the greatest fights of all time.

Tonight, before walking into the boxing ring, Morgan had commented that of all the top female fighters Serrano was low hanging fruit. The Puerto Rican legend merely shrugged her shoulders and replied that she lets her fists do the talking.

Both fighters hesitated touching gloves but did. After that, Serrano immediately went into assassin’s mode and moved forward while punching like a finely tuned hemi-engine. Morgan tried to keep up but discovered Serrano was not easy to hit.

Serrano moved forward smoothly while slipping and punching. A stiff looking Morgan, whose legs seemed unbent, tried to fend off the Puerto Rican champion’s blows but was smacked repeatedly in the first round with lefts and rights.

When the bell rang to end the first round, it was obvious that Morgan was overmatched.

As the second round commenced Serrano immediately slipped into attack gear behind her southpaw defensive guard. Once again, she fired combinations while moving quickly forward against the taller Morgan.

It was even worse than the first round as Serrano unloaded a dozen unanswered blows forcing the referee to stop the fight at 38 seconds of the second round.

“I think these girls were mistaking my kindness for weakness,” said Serrano. “If you’re not on my level that’s what happens.”

Morgan quickly learned she’s not on the championship level.

“Stevie Morgan just started a little while ago. I knew it would have been a little too much for her,” said Serrano. “My hat goes off to her. It’s not easy.”

Now it’s on to Katie Taylor.

Jake Paul KOs Mike Perry

In the co-main event Jake Paul (10-1, 7 KOs) floored Mike Perry (6-1) the Bare Knuckle Champion in the first and second round of the cruiserweight fight. And then battered the smaller fighter with a jolting jab to the body and head that opened up cuts on the former MMA fighter.

Paul continued to show improvement and proved once again that whether its MMA or Bare Knuckle fighting, his boxing skills are superior to their combat champions.

“Man, he’s tough as nails. I’m sorry it took so long. Respect man. He’s the king of violence,” said Paul about his fallen foe whose nickname is the “King of Violence.”

Paul attacked the body with a strong left jab while circling slowly left and right. Perry stood straight up with a low guard and his chin up. Paul hit that chin repeatedly and eventually cracked it in the fifth round.

Perry survived.

In the sixth round the bigger blonde fighter Paul bludgeoned Perry with another left jab and then opened with a barrage of blows that blasted the bare knuckle fighter to the canvas. Though he beat the count, he stumbled and the referee stopped the fight at 1:12 of the sixth round.

“I kind of expected that,” said Paul.

Perry was honest about the outcome.

“I tried man, but the kid hit me hard,” said Perry.

Now it’s on to Mike Tyson on November 15 in Arlington, Texas.

“Mike. I love you. But this is my sport now. I’m so honored but I’m going to take your throne.”

Other Bouts

A lightweight battle between undefeated fighters saw Canada’s Lucas Bahdi (17-0, 15 KOs) lose every round until he unloaded a three-punch combination that rendered Ashton Sylve (11-1, 9 KOs) unconscious before he hit the canvas.

Sylve utilized his speed and counters for five rounds and seemed to cruise for five years. But Bahdi showed a good chin especially against lightning uppercuts that sneaked through the guard.

“He’s very twitchy and very quick. I was trying to get to his body early on,” said Bahdi. “He’s very fast and has good counter punches.

In the sixth round Sylve was opening up a little more with his hands down and Bahdi saw the opening and quickly launched a right followed by a left hook that knocked out Sylve before he hit the floor at 2:27 of the sixth round.

“I knew his head’s there in the center all the time,” said Bahdi. “I think I stole the show tonight.”

Prelim Bouts

A rematch between lightweights saw Corey Marksman (10-0-1) win by majority decision against Tony Aguilar (12-1-1) in a back-and-forth battle. Marksman out-worked Aguilar with an especially effective counter-right that scored repeatedly. Their first encounter last February ended in a draw.

Shadasia Green (14-1, 11 KOs) stumbled a bit but got the win against Natasha Spence (8-5-2) to win by unanimous decision in a super middleweight. It was her first fight since losing to Franchon Crews-Dezurn for the world title.

Green was cruising for most of the fight behind a sharp jab and rights to the body but during an offensive out burst Spence caught her with a counter right and floored her in the seventh. It was half punch and half slip, but she was knocked down.

Though Green did not get a knockout she emerged with the win 78-73, 77-74 twice.

“I had fun in there tonight,” said Green. “I belong at the top with the best.”

Alexis Chaparro (2-0) knocked out Kevin Hill (1-2) with a five-punch combination at 2:01 of the second round in a middleweight fight.

Angel Barrientes (12-1) defeated Edwin Rodriguez (12-9-2) by majority decision after six rounds in a super bantamweight fight. The scores were 57-57, 60-54 twice for Barrientes who resides in Las Vegas.

Photo credit: Esther Lin / MVP Promotions

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Nakatani Strengthens his Pound-for-Pound Credentials: Blasts Out Astrolabio

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Junto Nakatani is the best 118-pound boxer in the world. Tonight, in Tokyo, he reinforced that judgment with a first-round knockout of Vincent Astrolabio at Japan’s national sumo arena. A short left to the solar plexus left the Filipino writhing on the canvas. He tried to rise but fell back down, forcing referee Tom Taylor to waive it off. It was all over in less than three minutes, 2:37 to be precise. Nakatani (28-0, 21 KOs) was making the first defense of his WBO bantamweight title after previously winning title belts at 112 and 115.

Tall for the weight class at five-foot-seven-and-a-half, the 26-year-old Japanese southpaw produced his second highlight reel knockout in his last four fights. The first come in May of last year at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas where he scored a frightening, 12th-round one-punch knockout of Andrew Moloney.

Nakatani won’t have to travel far to unify the belt. The other three current bantamweight champions are also Japanese. Down the road, potentially, is a showdown with countryman Naoya Inoue. That match, should it transpire, would be the biggest domestic fight in Japanese boxing history. Astrolabio, who had been stopped only once previously and was making his second stab at a world title, declined to 18-5.

Other Title Fight

LA’s Anthony Olascuaga, a stablemate of Nakatani (both train in LA under the tutelage of Rudy Hernandez), won the vacant WBO flyweight title with a third-round stoppage of Riku Kanu. A left uppercut put Kano (22-5) on the deck for the full count. The official time was 2:50 of round three.

Olascuaga (7-1, 5 KOs) was rucked out of obscurity in April of last year when he dropped down a weight class and performed far better than expected, albeit in a losing effort, against Kenshiro Teraji, a fight that he took on 10 days’ notice. Despite his inexperience and the locale, the LA fighter entered the ring a consensus 3/1 favorite over Kanu.

Also

In his first 10-rounder, ever-improving Tenshin Nasukawa (4-0, 2 KOs) stopped U.S. invader Jonathan Rodriguez in the third round. Five unanswered punches climaxed by a straight left ended matters at the 1:49 mark. The bout was contested at a catchweight of 120 pounds.

Nasukawa, a baby-faced, 25-year-old southpaw, transitioned to boxing after becoming famous in Japan for his kickboxing exploits. His first foray into boxing was an exhibition with Floyd Mayweather who knocked him out in the opening round, but he’s made considerable progress since then.

Against Rodriguez, Nasakawa was dominant from the get-go. Rodriguez was in dire straits as the second round ended. The first fighter from Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley to fight in Japan, Rodriguez (17-3-1) joins the ranks of one-hit wonders. He scored a shocking first-round KO of former title-holder Khalid Yafai, but then lost his very next fight en route to this affair.

The promotion lost a bit of luster when the title fight between WBO 115-pound belt-holder Kosei Tanaka and Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Rodriguez (no relation to Nasukawa’s opponent of the same name) fell out when Rodriguez weighed a staggering six pounds over the limit.

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Results and Recaps from Fantasy Springs where Rocha Topped Dominguez

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Ringside Report by TSS Special Correspondent Raymundo Dioses…INDIO, CA – Alexis Rocha faced off against undefeated Santiago Dominguez and earned a hard-fought unanimous decision win for the NABO welterweight title on July 19, 2024 at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in a live event presented by DAZN.  The 10-round fight featured plenty of action on a hot night where temperature hit 111 degrees in the Southern California desert.

Rocha, (25-2, 16 KOs) looked to time Dominguez early on and began to throw in combinations leading to his impressive win. Dominguez would press Rocha against the ropes seeking some shots of his own in a fight which swayed back and forth until Rocha was able to find a late rhythm towards the end of the bout.

Rocha began to back up Dominguez, (27-1, 20 KOs) with shots and catch openings while on the inside, with Dominguez steadily slowing from the effects of Rocha’s shots. Rocha kept his hands busy and would catch Dominguez when he would step outside of range, and he began to control the middle of the ring and the terms of the fight as the bout progressed.

Judge Fernando Villareal had it 98-92 while Carla Caiz and Pat Russell scored the bout 99-91 for Rocha, who now finds himself in title contention in the 147-pound division.

“I wanted to show everyone that I’m not just a banger, I can use my IQ in there and that’s what I needed,” said  Rocha. “I knew Dominguez was going to come forward, he just keeps coming, so that’s what I wanted to show. It’s more about my brains from now on. I want to be very aware in the ring, and I want to use my brains. That’s all you’re going to see moving forward. I have a great team behind me, Golden Boy, and we’re just going to see what’s next. I’m right there. I’m knocking on the door still. The belts are gonna be open anytime soon, so I’m just knocking on the door right now.”

The fighters utilized combinations effectively and often, landing on even terms until Rocha found his timing in the second half of the fight and sealed the win.  A solid left hook from Rocha paused Dominguez in his tracks as Rocha began to close in and slow the return fire from Dominguez.

A one-two combination to the chin landed for Dominguez to begin the seventh round. The action moved to center ring with the fighter’s trading shots which got the fans cheering.  Rocha threw a combination and landed a straight-right hand which was effective throughout the contest.

A combination of punches nearly had Dominguez down in the later rounds yet Dominguez would bounce back and punch Rocha to the ropes. There was more middle ring trading as the fight unfolded and both fighters would find offense with Rocha getting the better of the action.

Rocha often fought through a jab to the head and body of Dominguez.  A head-body combination worked for Rocha, and one-two combinations followed by body shots came from Rocha who was making headway as the more offensively scoring fighter.

Time was called by referee Ray Corona in the final round as Dominguez was punched on the leg, and once the action resumed a series of trading resulted in Rocha landing the last punch. Rocha not only landed at will in the last half of the fight, he began to make Dominguez miss and matters ended after ten completed rounds with the fighters throwing as the ten second bell ticked.

Rocha, the youngest fighter to win a gold medal at the junior Olympics at age 14, began his pro career in 2016 fighting under the Golden Boy Promotions banner and the Californian went 16-0 before losing to Rashidi Ellis in October 2020.  Rocha would not lose again until three years later in an all-California match-up against Giovani Santillan in October 2023.  He is the younger brother of former world title challenger Ronny Rios.

Rocha would lose the Santillan fight via knockout loss, yet the new NABO titleholder had a bounce-back win in March 2024 over Frederick Lawson leading into the Dominguez fight.

CO-FEATURE

The nights co-main event saw Gregory Morales, (17-1, 9 KOs) defeat Jayvon Garnett over 10 rounds after a fast start, slow ending type fight in the featherweight division.

Round one was a feeler type affair for both combatants with each fighter seeking to gain ground. The pot-shotting continued into the second round until Morales, who last fought to a decision win on the January 2024 Jaime Munguia-John Ryder tilt in Arizona, was able to put his punches together via combinations.

Garnett landed a combination of his own to begin rounds two and three, and Cincinnati, Ohio’s Garnett proceeded to let his hands go as round three wore on. Busy hands lead to good things in the boxing ring. The fight then swung slightly in Morales’ favor at the 10-second mark of the round with a few punches followed by an audible body shot.

The body shots thrown with both hands continued from Morales in round four which Garnett taunted as non-effective. Morales marched forward and resumed his body attack. Garnett kept busy midway through the fight yet Morales kept composed and pressed forward despite the offense of Garnett. A big shot came from Garnett which did not faze Morales in the sixth round and Morales was able to answer as the round ended.

The action dulled in round seven with fighter fatigue setting in. Morales was finally able to back up Garnett (10-2, 5 KOs) in the eighth round with right hands and in the ninth Morales continued to press Garnett against the ropes. Shots were landed from both fighters near the end of the round.

The final frame was a ‘who wants it more’ type of three minutes with the fighters each wanting to either score a stoppage or win a pivotal round on the judge’s scorecards. The round ended with respect as the fighter’s traded pleasantries after trading blows for 10 rounds.

Scorecards were 96-94, 98-92 and 99-91 all for Morales.

COACHELLA’S FLORES REMAINS UNDEFEATED WITH KO OVER MEZA

The Coachella Valley’s hot prospect Grant Flores scored an impressive stoppage win over Juan Meza in a super welterweight fight.

At the outset Flores, (6-0, 5 KOs) timed Meza well, gauging the distance of his opponent which led to a stirring right hand to end the first round. Flores rocked Meza again in the second round and Meza showed signs of fatigue. Fiery right hands rocked Meza into the red corner and after a few more shots referee Ray Corona had seen enough and waved off the fight at 1:54 of round two.

At a ripe age of 19, Flores is trained by noted trainer Joel Diaz and impressively fought just three weeks ago at the same venue, registering a knockout over Josias Gonzalez on the June 27, 2024 Golden Boy Fight Night card.

CHAVEZ DEFEATS KITANI IN FIGHT OF THE NIGHT

In a tightly contested featherweight matchup Jorge Chavez, (12-0, 8 KOs) and Riku Kitani earned fight of the night honors in their entertaining six-round featherweight bout which resulted in a decision win for Chavez.

The fist throwers battled on even terms and lived up to the featherweight division way of punches in bunches. The action was mostly in the middle of the ring with each fighter connecting and trading.  Each three-minute round was used as a battleground for the fighters.

A clash of heads midway through the fight briefly stopped the action in round four. Chavez threw the classic one-two combination throughout the fight, yet Kitani, (8-3, 3 KOs) would answer with shots of his own.  Referee Raymond Armendariz had the fighters tap each other’s gloves to begin the final round which saw Chavez stalk and land, and Kitani counter-punch in a fight that ended with cheers from the crowd.

Scores were all for Chavez at 60-54.

HOMETOWN FAVORITE LUA WOWS CROWD WITH KO OVER OLGUIN

In the opening televised bout, Indio, California native Bryan Lua, (10-0, 5 KOs) dominated late notice opponent Diuhl Olguin with fast hands and solid ring generalship in what resulted in a knockout victory. The confident Desert product bruised his opponent up with lead right hands and uppercuts.

Lua cut the ring off well and landed at will against Olguin, who took the punishment well and even caught Lua with a right hand before the bell sounded to end round two. The ringside doctor took a look at a cut on Olguin before round three. The dominance continued in the third frame with Lua landing two straight body shots which slightly lifted Olguin off the canvas.

Another uppercut softened up Olguin late in round five which delighted the hometown crowd. Lua ran towards Olguin to begin the final round and pressed the action, ultimately scoring a stoppage win at 2:03 as Team Olguin decided to throw in the towel.

GUZMAN NOTCHES KNOCKOUT NO. 5 IN FIVE FIGHTS

Middleweight prospect Fabian Guzman, (5-0, 5 KOs) continued his knockout streak with a first-round stoppage over Las Vegas native Corey Cook.

Guzman started out tentative against his left-handed opponent, warmed up midway, then dropped Cook with a flush right hand which dropped Cook to a knee.  A 10-count ensued by referee Raymond Armendariz and Guzman was awarded the knockout at a recorded 2:14 of round one.

PHOENIX NATIVE IMPROVES TO 3-0

In the opening contest of the night Phoenix, Arizona native Juan Estrada impressed against opponent Dyllon Cervantes in a four-round fight.  Estrada, (3-0, 1 KO) threw effective combinations from the outset and worked both the body and the head throughout the bout.

End results of the fight were 40-36 all for Estrada.

DAZN commentators: Beto Duran, Sergio Mora

Fighters in Attendance: WBC Flyweight titlist Ricardo Sandoval, Bektemir Melikuziev  

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