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Deontay Wilder vs. Marlon Hayes

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Deontay Wilder vs. Marlon Hayes – Nine years ago, I authored an article entitled “Professional Losers” that recounted the travesty of fighters who travel from state to state for the purpose of serving as cannon fodder.

“These fighters are different from perennial losers in other sports,” I wrote. “We’re not talking about a high school basketball team that loses forty games in a row. Athletes ‘play’ sports like baseball, football, tennis, and golf. No one plays boxing. These men are getting punched in the head, hard. They’re prime candidates for brain damage. And when they enter the ring, the spectators aren’t paying to watch a competitive fight. They’re paying to see someone get beaten up. There’s a difference.”

One of the fighters I referenced in that article was Bradley Rone, who had lost twenty-five bouts in a row. On Friday, July 18, 2003, three days after the article appeared online, Rone collapsed in the ring after the first round of a bout against Billy Zumbrun in Cedar City, Utah. Within hours, he was pronounced dead.

That bit of history came to mind this past week when I learned that Deontay Wilder was slated to fight Marlon Hayes on the undercard of Devon Alexander vs. Marcos Maidana in St. Louis on Saturday night.

Wilder (a 6-foot-7-inch heavyweight) was a bronze medalist at the 2008 Olympics). He’s 20-and-0 as a pro with 20 knockouts. That record is deceiving, since most of his bouts have been against soft touches. Still, Hayes was particularly soft.

Hayes is forty years old and hadn’t been in the ring since 2007. He’s 5-feet-9-inches tall and came in against Wilder having lost eight of his last nine fights. Worse, Marlon campaigned for most of his career as a super-middleweight.

Wilder-Hayes was a mismatch from the start. Predictably, the bout ended in a knockout for Wilder; his twenty-first in twenty-one pro fights. But as trainer Don Turner has said, “You build a record that way. You don’t build a fighter.”

One of the people I quoted in “Professional Losers” was Tim Leuckenhoff (president of the Association of Boxing Commissions).

“We wish we had the power to suspend some of these fighters,” Leuckenhoff told me. “But under federal law, we don’t. Unfortunately, a fighter can only be suspended by a state in which he has a license. Sometimes that happens. But a month or two later when the suspension expires, they’re back in the ring again. And most of these guys are smart enough to steer clear of states that would put them on a permanent suspension list.”

That quote is relevant now because Leuckenhoff is also Executive Director of the Missouri Office of Athletics, which regulates boxing in Missouri. In that capacity, Leuckenhoff approved Deontay Wilder vs. Marlon Hayes.

Not good.

*     *     *

On a more positive note, a tip of the hat to Epix is in order.

Epix is a joint venture between Viacom, Paramount, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Lionsgate that offers programming to viewers on television, the Internet, and various consumer electronic devices. It’s available through a limited number of cable systems in 30,000,000 homes. Subscribers who receive Epix through their cable system provider (authenticated users) can also watch Epix on www.epixhd.com.

The heart of Epix’s programming is feature films. More than three thousand titles are available to subscribers. But the network also offers documentaries, concerts, comedy programs, and sports (most notably boxing).

The first fight televised on Epix was Vitali Klitschko vs. Odlanier Solis on March 19, 2011. The network is now nearing the end of a remarkable run highlighting the three major heavyweight beltholders within the course of fifteen days.

First, on February 18th, Vitali Klitschko decisioned Dereck Chisora. One week later, Alexander Povetkin edged Marco Huck in an entertaining bout marked by high drama in the final two rounds. Next Saturday, Wladimir Klitschko will defend his belts against Jean-Marc Mormeck.

Klitschko-Mormeck shapes up as a mismatch. Epix boxing acquisitions consultant Roy Langbord acknowledges as much, but says, “The heavyweight division intrigues people, and fighters like the Klitschkos, Povetkin, and Robert Helenius have been available. We don’t have anywhere near the budget that HBO and Showtime have to spend on fights. But we’ve been opportunistic and have been able to buy compelling fights that were overlooked in the U.S. market.”

Six of Epix’s eight shows to date (including Klitschko-Mormeck) have revolved around heavyweights. The other two featured James DeGale vs. George Groves and Felix Sturm vs Matthew Macklin. The bouts have been entertaining and, in several instances, notable.

All but two of the cards originated in Germany; the others in England and Finland. The fights are called for Epix from a TV studio in New York off a foreign television feed. The commentating team of Bruce Beck, Freddie Roach, and Dan Rafael does a good job. Chris Mannix serves as an on-site reporter.

Epix televises its fights live on Saturday afternoons (usually around 4:00 or 5:00 PM east coast time). That’s a throwback to the era when boxing was an anchor for Saturday afternoon sports programming, most notably on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

As a practical matter, Epix gets the fights that HBO and Showtime don’t want. It typically pays a license fee in the neighborhood of $100,000 per show. That means Epix has paid less for all eight of its fight cards combined over the past year than HBO and Showtime often pay for a single telecast. But with judicious buying and wise production decisions, it has put together good shows.

On a shoestring budget, Epix is giving boxing fans a good pair of shoes.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book (Winks and Daggers: An Inside Look at Another Year in Boxing) was published by the University of Arkansas Press.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

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Daniel Jacobs Edges Past Gabe Rosado on a Matchroom card in Florida

David A. Avila

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Former world champion Daniel Jacobs needed the last round to win by split decision against upset-minded Gabe Rosado and keep his place in line on Friday for lucrative super middleweight matchups.

But when the ring announcer erroneously announced the winner was from Philadelphia, confusion reigned for a moment until Jacobs was correctly called the winner.

Brooklyn’s Jacobs (37-3, 30 KOs) jumped out ahead against Philly fighter Rosado (25-13-1, 14 KOs) and held on for the win in front of no fans at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. For a second, many thought Rosado had won.

Both were careful during the first three rounds measuring each other’s distance and looking for openings to counter. There were very few.

It was the kind of fight expected by those who know boxing: two veterans with immense experience against top-flight world champions. Mistakes were few.

Jacobs, a former middleweight world champion, had fought Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in close but losing efforts.

Rosado had battled Golovkin too, six years ago in a bloody affair that ended in a loss. He had also lost to other champions like Peter Quillin and Jermell Charlo. But none were able to knock him out.

Both were aware of each other’s reputation. Bitter words had been exchanged for years and now they finally got their chance to prove their mettle and they did.

Though Jacobs was recognized as a knockout puncher, Rosado’s resilience was just as well known. Both neutralized each other for most of the fight with their feints and jabs to the body. Neither was willing to leave openings for each other.

Jacobs scored big with a left uppercut at the end of the seventh round. While Rosado wowed viewers with a sizzling right cross in the 11th round.

It was 1950s style, boxing with intelligence. Each found it difficult to land combinations, let alone find openings to score knockout blows. Instead, they had to be satisfied with scoring enough to convince three judges the actual winner.

Neither was able to pull out ahead with any conviction.

After 12 rounds one judge saw Rosado the winner 115-113 while two others saw Jacobs the winner 115-113 to give him the win by split decision.

“It felt just a little weird. It felt like a sparring match,” said Jacobs about fighting without fans in the audience. “This wasn’t a valiant effort.”

Rosado was certain he was the true winner.

“I thought I won the fight. I surprised him,” said Rosado who trained with Freddie Roach for this fight. “I’m a veteran, I know how to fight.”

Indeed, he does.

Jacobs now stands poised to fight one of many super middleweight champions in need of a marquee name.

“I live to see another day,” he said honestly.

Other Bouts

Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Yeleussinov (10-0, 6 KOs) proved he was not an easy touch and knocked out former world champion Julius Indongo (23-3, 12 KOs) to march forward in the welterweight division while grabbing the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title.

In a fight featuring southpaw versus southpaw Yeleussinov caught Indongo with a roundhouse left the first time they exchanged and down went the former super lightweight world champion. Indongo beat the count and survived the round.

Indongo wasn’t as lucky in the second round as Yeleussinov again connected with a left and down went the fighter from Namibia again. He would not get up at 1:24 of round two giving the knockout win for Yeleussinov.

A battle between undefeated heavyweights saw Azerbaijan’s Mahammadrasul Majidov (3-0, 3 KOs) use roundhouse rights to stagger the heavier Sahret Delgado (8-1) to win by knockout in the third round. Majidov actually helped Delgado get to his stool after knocking him out on his feet at 47 seconds of the third round.

Emmanuel Tagoe (32-1) defeated Mason Menard (36-5) by majority decision after a 10- round lightweight fight that saw a lot of clinching and leaning.

Nikita “White Chocolate” Ababiy (10-0) out-fought Detroit’s Brandon Maddox (7-4-1) to win by unanimous decision after six rounds in a middleweight clash. Ababiy hurt Maddox with body shots but found Maddox more resilient than expected.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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Pradabsri Upsets Menayothin, Ends the Longest Unbeaten Streak of Modern Times

Arne K. Lang

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During the wee hours in the Americas, a big upset was brewing in Thailand. In Nakhon Sawan, a city roughly 150 miles north of Bangkok, Panya Pradabsri (aka Petchmanee CP Freshmart) out-pointed Wanheng Menayothin (aka Chayaphon Moonsri) in a domestic clash with international significance. Manayothin entered the bout with a 54-0 (18) record and was making the 13th defense of his WBC world minimumweight title.

Pradabsri had been defeated only once in 35 previous starts, but only 11 of his 34 victories had come against fighters with winning records. According to ringside reports, he kept Menayothin at bay with good fundamentals, a stiff jab, and good lateral movement. All three judges had it 115-113. The fight wasn’t without controversy as Menayothin finished stronger and many folks scoring off the live video thought that he had done just enough to retain his title.

How good was/is Menayothin? That’s a question that serious boxing fans will likely debate for decades.

In the summer of 2019, Menayothin signed a co-promotional deal with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. At time, GBP president Eric Gomez described him as one of the best fighters in the world. “We really want to bring him to the U.S. so people can see how talented he really is,” Gomez told England’s Sky Sports.

Menayothin was expected to make his U.S. debut in April of this year, but the pandemic ruined that plan. Earlier this year, he announced his retirement, but rescinded it after only two days.

Scottish boxing historian Matt McGrain, who has an exclusive arrangement with this web site, had lukewarm opinion of the Thai mighty-mite although he rated him the second-best 105-pound boxer of the decade, trailing only his countryman Thammanoon Niyomtrong (aka Knockout CP Freshmart).

“He is disciplined, strong, brings good pressure and is armed with a very decent range of punches,” said McGrain, “(but his record) is comprised mostly of men any competent fighter would be expected to beat.”

Although only one boxer from Thailand has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (Khaosai Galaxy, class of 1999), the Southeast Asia nation has produced some outstanding boxers over the years – Chartchoi Chionoi, Sot Chitalada, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to name just a few. The difference between these fighters and Wanheng Menayothin is that they all left the comfort zone of their homeland to score one or more important wins on foreign soil.

Menayothin may yet display his wares in a U.S. ring. But at age 35, an advanced age for small fighters in particular, we won’t get to see him at his best and now that his bubble has been burst, disinviting further comparisons to Mayweather and Marciano, the curiosity factor has been tempered.

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Yoka vs. Hammer Kicks Off the Thanksgiving Weekend Slate on ESPN+

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PRESS RELEASE— Tony Yoka, the dynamic heavyweight punching Parisian, aims to impress in his ESPN platform debut. Yoka, who won a super heavyweight gold medal for France at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will fight veteran Christian Hammer in a 10-rounder Friday at H Arena in Nantes, France.

Yoka-Hammer will stream live and exclusively this Friday, Nov. 27 in the United States on ESPN+ beginning at 2:55 p.m. ET/11:55 a.m. PT.

The ESPN+ stream will also include the return of unbeaten 2016 French Olympic gold medalist Estelle Yoka-Mossely against Pasa Malagic in an eight-round lightweight bout. Yoka and Yoka-Mossely, who have been married since 2018, welcomed their second child in May.

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Earlier this year, Yoka inked a promotional agreement with Top Rank, which will co-promote him with Ringstar France.

“Tony Yoka’s potential is limitless, and he is a grounded young man who is motivated to be a great professional fighter,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “France has never had a world heavyweight champion, and I believe Tony is the one to bring the sport’s biggest honor home.”

The 28-year-old Yoka’s stellar amateur run included a berth at the 2012 London Olympics and gold medals at the 2015 World Championships and 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Before his triumph in Rio, he’d already defeated the likes of former heavyweight world champion Joseph Parker and current undefeated prospects Joe Joyce and Ivan Dychko. At the Rio Olympics, he defeated Croatian standout Filip Hrgović in the semifinals and edged Joyce in the gold medal match.

As a professional, Yoka (8-0, 7 KOs) made his debut in June 2017 with a second-round stoppage over the previously undefeated Travis Clark. Apart from a decision win over Jonathan Rice in his second outing, Yoka has stopped every foe, including durable Englishman David “White Rhino” Allen and former European champion Alexander Dimitrenko. He made his 2020 debut Sept. 25 and stopped former world title challenger Johann Duhaupas in one round.

Hammer (25-6, 15 KOs) has fought many of the leading heavyweight names during his 12-year career, falling short against Tyson Fury, Luis Ortiz and Alexander Povetkin. He’s notched myriad upset victories, including a highlight-reel knockout over David Price and a 2016 split decision over Erkan Teper for the WBO European belt. In March 2019, he went the 10-round distance against Ortiz and has not been stopped since Fury forced him to retire on his stool after eight rounds in their February 2015 clash.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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