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A Call for Return To Same Day Weigh-Ins

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A Call for Return To Same Day Weigh-Ins – I once read where a leading physician, after some serious research, claimed that professional boxers who had 20 or more fights in their careers were very likely to have suffered some type of brain damage.

This was important information for me at the time, considering I had 22 pro fights before I finally had to quit the ring. Like blowing a .09 at a traffic stop, I was just a little over the limit, but if I was driving, I was still going to jail. Or in my case, I was still going to get lost walking to the post office when I was 61.

After reading the article, I used that “20-fight rule” as an excuse if I did something foolish.I would mention the article to my friends and tell them about the rule and then I’d blurt out, “Well, I had 22 pro fights, so I guess I’m in big trouble,” and then I’d laugh like hell, adding to the hilarity of the moment.

“But that doesn’t take into account the 60 amateur fights I had,” I’d would yell out, holding my belly as I was bent over laughing. “I guess I’m in big, big, big trouble.”

Like most research, there were a few gaping holes in the 20-fight rule. If I had 20 fights and knocked every one of my opponents out in the first round, I’m pretty sure the rule wouldn’t apply to me. Or if the opposite was true, if I couldn’t take a punch and I was stopped in the first round in all of my fights, I think the same thing would be the case. I wouldn’t be taking a beating.

But few fighters fall into either category. Instead, most are between the two extremes. What I do know is, the guys who were the toughest in the ring were usually the ones who were most likely to retire from the ring hearing funny voices in their heads. Why? Because they are the ones who don’t go down easy, who take the most punishment, who stand there swapping punches with another guy on his way to the rest home. If possible, you want to avoid wars in the ring. They’re fun to watch, but they take a heavy toll.

Even the tomato cans are better off than the world-class fighters. In most of their fights, they never stick around long enough to get hurt. They don’t take a beating for 10 rounds like the contenders do. They get in, do their thing, and they get out before they get hurt.

Former opponent Bruce “The Mouse” Strauss had hundreds of fights and his philosophy was, he’d fight as hard as he could for the first few rounds and if that wasn’t good enough – if he was still taking some heavy shots from the other guy after three or four rounds – he’d take a knee. He didn’t really quit as much as he practiced the art of self-preservation. If he knew he couldn’t beat the guy after giving it everything he had, there was no reason for him to stick around and take a beating.

As fight fans, you don’t have to like the idea of a fighter not being out carried on his shield – I know I don’t – but it’s always been a part of the game.

What’s this all getting too? Apparently they are doing a little research in Las Vegas to see how much head damage is actually taking place among professional fighters.

According to an AP story by boxing writer Tim Dahlberg, the aim of the study is to find ways to make contact sports like boxing and MMA a little safer. And they’re doing it by examining athletes who are still active. Dahlberg writes that 148 current boxers and mixed martial arts fighters have already taken their first set of tests for the study, which is being conducted at the Cleveland Clinic’s new Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. According to Dahlberg, “researchers hope to enroll more than 600 fighters in what is hoped to be at least a four-year study of their brains.”

I hope that’s enough time.

Chief investigator of the study, a Dr. Charles Bernick, says they’re not trying to prove that getting hit in the head on a regular basis can cause brain damage. They already know that’s true. What they don’t know is why some fighters develop Alzheimers or dementia pugilistica, while others don’t. The study could “lead to better ways to predict which fighters are more at risk for brain damage later in their lives.”

Fine. But if they discover the answer to that question, what can they do with it? Tell some fighters they shouldn’t be boxing because they have a higher chance of becoming punchy as they enter their golden years? Yeah, that will stop a top contender from competing.

I have a better idea of how we could make boxing safer and we could do it right now without any research or long-term study.

You start by giving the fight back to the fighters. You go back to the old ways and you hold weigh-ins on the day of the fight – say around noon – and not the day before.

It’s a simple, easy thing to do and it immediately makes the fight game a little safer and a lot more competitive. And if the promoters or the TV people or the sponsors don’t like it, well, it’s not their heads that are getting scrambled.

A good example of what I’m talking about is the middleweight title last month between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and Marco Antonio Rubio.

Both fighters made the 160-pound weight limit the day before their fight, but by the time they got into the ring, Chavez had put on something like 22 pounds, which put him in cruiserweight country. How do you put on 22 pounds in 30 hours? They said Chavez looked pretty weak standing on the scale the day before the fight, but by the time the bell rang, he was back up to around 181 pounds. And it showed. He looked like Hoss Cartwright taking on Barney Fife. And that’s how guys can get brain damage.

The TV commentators mentioned the weight discrepancy, but then they let it go. If they had an opinion one way or another on weighing in the day before the fight, they weren’t sharing it with us.

One of the arguments for weighing in the day before the fight is that it gives fighters more time to rehydrate and get their strength back. But if they need that much time to rebuild, maybe they don’t belong fighting in that lighter weight class.

It’s a funny thing. I was talking to some boxing people a few weeks ago and we all agreed that there are just as many punchy fighters today as there was 40 years ago. So maybe this study is important. But what I think is even more important is making sure a natural lightweight doesn’t have to go 10 or 12 long, tough rounds against a natural middleweight.

And that doesn’t require any research.

A Call for Return To Same Day Weigh-Ins / Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

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Canelo-Charlo Gets All the Ink, but Don’t Overlook the Compelling Match-up of Gassiev-Wallin in Turkey

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Canelo-Charlo Gets All the Ink, but Don’t Overlook the Compelling Match-up of Gassiev-Wallin in Turkey

The eyes of the boxing world will be on Las Vegas this Saturday where Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez risks his four super middleweight title belts against unified 154-pound champion Jermell Charlo. Earlier that day at a luxury resort hotel in the city of Antalya on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, there’s a heavyweight match sitting under the radar that may prove to be the better fight. It’s an intriguing match-up between former world cruiserweight title-holder Murat Gassiev and Swedish southpaw Otto Wallin, a bout with significant ramifications for boxing’s glamour division.

Gassiev (30-1, 23 KOs) and Wallin (25-1, 14 KOs) have only one loss, but those setbacks came against the top dogs in the division. Gassiev was out-boxed by Oleksandr Usyk back in the days when both were cruiserweights. Wallin gave Tyson Fury a world of trouble before losing a unanimous decision.

Since those fights, both have been treading water.

Gassiev

Gassiev was inactive for 27 months after his match with Usyk while dealing with legal issues and an injury to his left shoulder. He is 4-0 (4 KOs) since returning to the ring while answering the bell for only eight rounds. The only recognizable name among those four victims is German gatekeeper Michael Wallisch. After stopping Wallisch, Gassiev was out of action for another 13 months while reportedly dealing with an arm injury.

A first-round knockout of Carlouse Welch, an obscure 40-something boxer from the U.S. state of Georgia on Aug. 26, 2022, in Belgrade, Serbia, was promoted as a title fight. The sanctioning body was the Eurasian Boxing Parliament (insert your own punchline here). Gassiev followed that up with a second-round knockout of former NFL linebacker Mike Balogun who came in undefeated and was seemingly a legitimate threat to him.

Although he has yet to fight a ranked opponent since leaving the cruiserweight division, Gassiev — a former stablemate of Gennady Golovkin who has been living in Big Bear, California, training under Abel Sanchez – is one of the most respected fighters in the division because he has one-punch knockout power as Balogun and others can well attest. The rub against the Russian-Armenian bruiser is that he is somewhat robotic.

Wallin

Otto Wallin, a 32-year-old southpaw from Sweden who trains in New York under former world lightweight champion Joey Gamache, fought Tyson Fury on Sept. 14, 2019 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. There was a general feeling that the Swede would be a stroll in the park for Fury, but to the contrary, he gave the Gypsy King a hard tussle while losing a unanimous decision.

Wallin is 5-0 since that night beginning with victories over Travis Kauffman (KO 5) and Dominic Breazeale (UD 12), but his last three opponents were softer than soft and all three lasted the distance. In order, Wallin won an 8-round decision over Kamil Sokolowski, who was 11-24-2 heading in, won a 10-round decision over ancient Rydell Booker, and won an 8-round decision over Helaman Olguin. His bout with Utah trial horse Olguin was at a banquet hall in Windham, New Hampshire.

It isn’t that Wallin has been avoiding the top names in the division; it’s the other way around. His promoter Dmitriy Salita reportedly came close to getting Wallin a match with Anthony Joshua whose team had second thoughts about sending Joshua in against another southpaw after back-to-back setbacks to Oleksandr Usyk.

Gassiev vs Wallin is a true crossroads fight. Both are in dire need of a win over a credible opponent. At last look, Gassiev, who figures to have the crowd in his corner, was a 3/1 favorite.

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Skavynskyi and Bustillos Win on a MarvNation Card in Long Beach

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Skavynskyi and Bustillos Win on a MarvNation Card in Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Ca.-A cool autumn night saw welterweights and minimumweights share main events for a MarvNation fight card on Saturday.

Ukraine’s Eduard Skavynskyi (15-0, 7 KOs) experienced a tangled mess against the awkward Alejandro Frias (14-10-2) but won by decision after eight rounds in a welterweight contest at the indoor furnace called the Thunder Studios.

It was hot in there for the more than 600 people inside.

Skavynskyi probably never fought someone like Mexico’s Frias whose style was the opposite of the Ukrainian’s fundamentally sound one-two style. But round after round the rough edges became more familiar.

Neither fighter was ever damaged but all three judges saw Skavynskyi the winner by unanimous decision 79-73 on all three cards. The Ukrainian fighter trains in Ventura.

Bustillo Wins Rematch

Applerose2

In the female main event Las Vegas’ Yadira Bustillos (8-1) stepped into a rematch with Karen Lindenmuth (5-2) and immediately proved the lessons learned from their first encounter.

Bustillos connected solidly with an overhand right and staggered Lindenmuth but never came close to putting the pressure fighter down. Still, Bustillos kept turning the hard rushing Lindenmuth and snapping her head with overhand rights and check left hooks.

Lindenmuth usually overwhelms most opponents with a smothering attack that causes panic. But not against Bustillos who seemed quite comfortable all eight rounds in slipping blows and countering back.

After eight rounds all three judges scored the contest for Bustillos 78-74 and 80-72 twice. Body shots were especially effective for the Las Vegas fighter in the fifth round. Bustillos competes in the same division as IBF/WBO title-holder Yokasta Valle.

Other Bouts

In a middleweight clash, undefeated Victorville’s Andrew Buchanan (3-0-1) used effective combination punching to defeat Mexico’s Fredy Vargas (2-1-1) after six rounds. Two judges scored it 59-55 and a third 60-54 for Buchanan. No knockdowns were scored.

A super lightweight match saw Sergio Aldana win his pro debut by decision after four rounds versus Gerardo Fuentes (2-9-1).

Photos credit: Al Applerose

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Tedious Fights and a Controversial Draw Smudge the Matchroom Boxing Card in Orlando

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Matchroom Boxing was at the sprawling Royale Caribe Resort Hotel in Orlando, Florida tonight with a card that aired on DAZN. The main event was a ho-hum affair between super lightweights Richardson Hitchins and Jose Zepeda.

SoCal’s Zepeda has been in some wars in the past, notably his savage tussle with Ivan Baranchyk, but tonight he brought little to the table and was outclassed by the lanky Hitchins who won all 12 rounds on two of the cards and 11 rounds on the other.  There were no knockdowns, but Zepeda suffered a cut on his forehead in round seven that was deemed to be the product of an accidental head butt and another clash in round ten forced a respite in the action although Hitchins suffered no apparent damage.

It was the sort of fight where each round was pretty much a carbon of the round preceding it. Brooklyn’s Hitchins, who improved to 17-0 (7), was content to pepper Zepeda with his jab, and the 34-year-old SoCal southpaw, who brought a 37-3 record, was never able to penetrate his defense and land anything meaningful.

Hitchins signed with Floyd Mayweather Jr’s promotional outfit coming out of the amateur ranks and his style is reminiscent in ways of his former mentor. Like Mayweather, he loses very few rounds. In his precious engagement, he pitched a shutout over previously undefeated John Bauza.

Co-Feature

In the co-feature, Conor Benn returned to the ring after an absence of 17 months and won a unanimous decision over Mexico’s Rodolfo Orozco. It wasn’t a bad showing by Benn who showed decent boxing skills, but more was expected of him after his name had been bandied about so often in the media. Two of the judges had it 99-91 and the other 96-94.

Benn (22-0, 14 KOs) was a late addition to the card although one suspects that promoter Eddie Hearn purposely kept him under wraps until the week of the fight so as not to deflect the spotlight from the other matches on his show. Benn lost a lucrative date with Chris Eubank Jr when he was suspended by the BBBofC when evidence of a banned substance was found in his system and it’s understood that Hearn has designs on re-igniting the match-up with an eye on a date in December. For tonight’s fight, Benn carried a career-high 153 ½ pounds. Mexico’s Orozco, who was making his first appearance in a U.S. ring, declined to 32-4-3.

Other Bouts of Note

The welterweight title fight between WBA/WBC title-holder Jessica McCaskill (15-3-1) and WBO title-holder Sandy Ryan (6-1-1) ended in a draw and the ladies’ retain their respective titles. Ryan worked the body effectively and the general feeling was that she got a raw deal, a sentiment shared by the crowd which booed the decision. There was a switch of favorites in the betting with the late money seemingly all on the Englishwoman who at age 30 was the younger boxer by nine years.

The judges had it 96-94 Ryan, 96-95, and a vilified 97-93 for Chicago’s McCaskill.

In the opener of the main DAZN stream, Houston middleweight Austin “Ammo” Williams, 27, improved to 15-0 (10) with a 10-round unanimous decision over 39-year-old Toronto veteran Steve Rolls (22-3). All three judges had it 97-93. Rolls has been stopped only once, that by Gennady Golovkin.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom Boxing

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