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When Young and Strong, Mosley and Wright Made A Mark

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MargaritoMosley Hogan 22January 2009 was the last time Mosley showed us more than a glimpse of the old “Sugar.”

There was a certain odd symmetry to the way things ended for Shane Mosley and Winky Wright this week.

Both announced their retirement from boxing at the age of 40 on the same day. Both had recently lost one-sided bouts to far younger men, beaten as much by the calendar as the young men in front of them. Both had, at one time, been joined in that odd way two fighters become entwined when they challenge each other twice and one proves to be superior.

Yet what is oddest of all about their career arc is that Mosley will be rightly remembered as the better fighter and the more popular one yet it was Wright who twice defeated him when they were still in their prime or close to it. That is boxing for you, a sport where one man can simply be the endless nemesis of the other while never quite as good when facing different opponents or trying to please a crowd.

Last month Mosley lost every round to a 21-year-old champion who was the same age as his son. Apparently, that loss to Saul Alvarez made Mosley think when other defeats had not and he decided he’d had enough.

The winner of five world titles in three weight classes, Mosley was never better than when he was a lightweight. He had blinding speed at 135 pounds and withering power. Some compared him to Roberto Duran, although that always seemed like a reach because Duran may well have been the greatest lightweight in boxing history.

Yet even if he was not Duran, Mosley was special at that weight and still good enough to become a world champion later at both welterweight and junior middleweight. His mistake was that after first defeating Oscar De La Hoya by split decision in 2000 he thought that beating “the Man’’ made him “the Man.’’ As many fighters learn the hard way it did not.

Instead of accepting a big-money rematch he defended the welterweight title three times before running into a familiar nemesis, Vernon Forrest. Forrest had denied Mosley a spot on the Olympic team in 1992 and now 10 years later defeated him easily again, dropping him twice and badly cutting him with an accidental butt.

Instead of regrouping, he invoked an immediate rematch clause only to lose again but a year later he upset De La Hoya a second time in a decidedly controversial decision to win a junior middleweight title. Instead of accepting $8 million for an immediate rematch he listened to ill-informed advisor Judd Burstein and challenged the larger and exceedingly complicated Wright to a unification fight.

Wright had long ago been dubbed “The International Man of Misery’’ by boxing publicist Fred Sternburg because for years he toiled in obscurity, fighting and winning around the world as a defensive master displeasing to American audiences but revered in Europe, where the taste for fisticuffs is more refined.

For five years, 1993-1998, Wright fought in eight different countries but seldom in the U.S. even after becoming a world champion. Mosley gave him a shot at something more and he took it, defeating him handily in their first fight and then winning a majority decision when Mosley repeated his mistake with Forrest and insisted upon an immediate rematch eight months later.

Wright (51-6-1, 25 KO) would never please American crowds but he was like fighting the matrix. His defensive prowess was well deserved and his offense came off that defense and did enough damage to twice win him the junior middleweight titles and send Felix Trinidad back into retirement by pitching a shutout against him.

Mosley (46-8-1, 39 KO) was, to be fair, both the superior fighter and the more pleasing one but he could not solve Wright and it seemed his career went into decline after that, especially after losing to Miguel Cotto three years later for the welterweight title. But like many of the best fighters, Mosley had one great night in him and it came on Jan. 24, 2009.

That night he destroyed the myth of Antonio Margarito when first his trainer Nazeem Richardson caught Margarito trying to wear loaded hand wraps, an act that would cause him a year’s suspension and a lifetime of shame. Mosley then beat him half to death for nine lopsided rounds before the fight was stopped with Margarito’s face unrecognizable from what it had been when the evening began.

That victory turned out to be a mirage. Shane Mosley never won again, finishing his career 0-3-1 over the next three years. He lost in lopsided fashion to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao (no shame in that at his age), fought a desultory draw with Sergio Mora in between and then lost for the final time to Alvarez last month.

That last defeat to a kid half his age finally convinced Mosley of the obvious. Like many formerly great fighters he could still see the openings but they closed before he could react. He could still see the punches coming but he could no longer block them before they landed.

No shame in that. It is how it goes in boxing for everyone but the few who leave in time. The only shame actual of Mosley’s likely Hall of Fame career came after the second De La Hoya fight when it came to light he’d used performance enhancing drugs the “clear’’ and the “cream’’ under the direction of disgraced former San Francisco-area supplement distributor Victor Conte and his own strength and conditioning coach, Darryl Hudson.

To this day Mosley insists he was duped and unknowing, although Conte and Hudson have argued otherwise. Regardless of the truth of Mosley’s position, De La Hoya accepted him into his company as a partner for a time and they remain respectful after having been rivals dating back to their childhood days as amateur sensations around Los Angeles.

Mosley was never quite De La Hoya even though he beat him twice but he was one of the finest fighters of his time. Wright was never quite Mosley although he beat him twice and was certainly one of the best junior middleweights in the world for nearly a decade.

Such are the vagaries of boxing, a sport where as Mick Jagger might sing, ‘You can’t always get what you want but if you try some times, well, you just might find, you get what you need.’’

If Mosley and Wright needed to make names for themselves in the difficult world of prize fighting they succeeded. Final defeat does not diminish their accomplishments even though Mosley was 0-3-1 in his final years and Wright lost his final three fights over a five year period in which he retired for three years before coming back to be beaten last weekend by up-and-coming prospect Peter “Kid Chocolate’’ Quillin (26-0) in a fight in which he lost nearly every round.

Waiting for him in his locker room at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. after it was over was his old friend and foil, Shane Mosley. They were together one last time, friends and aging warriors upon whom boxing had turned its back as it always does.

Mosley now says he will train his young son and try to build his own promotional company in California. Wright intends to play golf and watch his money wisely with the help of long-time friend, Jim Wilkes, a successful Florida attorney who directed much of his career.

Two great boxers had come to the end of their time inside the ring the way nearly every prize fighter does. They had been defeated by time but raise their hands up one last time for all they achieved because when they were young and strong and fast they made a mark that will be remembered.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 274: Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney in Hollywood, Jake, Amanda and More

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HOLLYWOOD, Ca.- Adorned in a white suit, Ryan “King Ry” Garcia arrived on a big white horse followed by a handful of fair maidens dressed in various colors and some twirling hula hoops into the Avalon Theater on Vine Street on Thursday.

Inside the historic theater that once served as the Hollywood Canteen during World War 2, where actors like Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis and Rita Hayworth greeted soldiers, but this time it was the boxing media waiting.

Garcia (24-1, 20 KOs) will challenge undefeated Devin Haney (31-0, 15 KOs) for the WBC super lightweight world title on April 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. DAZN pay-per-view will stream the Golden Boy Promotions card.

It doesn’t get more Hollywood than this.

Inside the 97-year-old theater, once the two opposing factions arrived, the pageantry turned into a war of words, taunts and accusations.

This is boxing.

Aside from the taunts and words of derision tossed at each other, the Haney father and son combination admitted that Garcia was the one fighter willing to fight Devin.

“He (Garcia) raised his hand when no one else did,” said Bill Haney the father.

Devin Haney sat next to his father on the stage anxious as ever to prove his talent in the prize ring. After his victory over Regis Prograis that followed wins over Vasyl Lomachenko and George Kambosos, the former undisputed lightweight world champion is now dwelling in the super lightweight division and holds the WBC version.

“I was killing myself trying to make the weight,” said Haney about moving up to the 140-pound super lightweight division.

Haney has long been familiar with Ryan Garcia since their amateur days as they met in the boxing ring six times as youths.

“They fought six times in the amateurs with both of them winning three apiece. Now they meet with championship gold and the chance at being the face of American boxing on the line,” said Oscar De La Hoya, the promoter and head of Golden Boy Promotions. “In other words, this one counts!”

Garcia and Haney have taken similar paths.

Garcia fought professionally numerous times in Mexico where it is legal to fight under the age of 18. So did Haney. Both faced unknown opponents, sometimes last-minute changes forced them to fight foes that were not originally scheduled.

As pros, the two similarly and eagerly sought to face the best opponents possible despite their inexperience. Both proved more than capable.

Garcia quickly amassed a surprisingly large following of fans through social media and through his exploits of sudden knockouts from his uncanny speed.

“Everything I have today, I earned it,” said Garcia. “Nobody gave me a handout, I never had money, I’m really a small town boy.”

Haney proved able to defeat veteran world champions feared for their technical expertise with his own buttery-smooth fighting prowess.

“I am happy to be here. I worked hard to be here. I sacrificed a lot to be here, and at the end of the day, the world will see it on April 20,” said Devin Haney.

Next month in Brooklyn the two longtime foes will be performing. Will it be the biggest grossing pay-per-view of the year 2024?

Jake and Amanda

Jake Paul and Amanda Serrano are boxing’s best tag team.

Several years ago, Paul recognized that Serrano, a seven-division world champion Puerto Rican was capable of much more than fighting on the small stage.

Genius.

Paul signed Serrano to his Most Valuable Promotions company and together they have been able to draw a mixture of fans long ignored by other promoters.

Welcome to the age of the influencers.

For the past several years Paul has fought MMA stars, boxers and other social media influencers. And when he signed Serrano she fought Katie Taylor in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden where their fight drew more than a million pay-per-views.

Paul (8-1, 5 KOs) meets Ryan Bourland (17-2, 6 KOs) in an eight-round cruiserweight fight on Saturday March 2, at Coliseo Jose Miguel Agrelot in San Juan, Puerto Rico. DAZN will stream the card.

He will be co-piloting the fight card with the great Amanda Serrano (46-2-1, 30 KOs) who will be defending the undisputed featherweight world championship against Germany’s Nina “the Brave” Meinke (18-3, 4 KOs).

Once again Serrano and Paul will share a very good fight card that also features female super flyweights Krysti Rosario-Ortiz (2-0) and Gloria Munguilla (5-0).

Others on the card include Javon “Wanna” Walton, a featherweight out of Atlanta, Georgia. If he looks familiar there is a reason. He was featured in the Sylvester Stallone film Samaritan and also appeared in the HBO series Euphoria.

Walton has always boxed and now will be a part of the Paul and Serrano team.

Paul has that magic touch for attracting fans to boxing.

Just today Most Valuable Promotions signed Indian prizefighter Neeraj Goyat. The welterweight fighter was recently seen on social media approaching Paul in his training camp and daring the fighter to meet him in the boxing ring. The short video clip attracted more than 150 million views.

Paul, ever the think-out-of-the-box promoter, signed Goyat immediately.

“In just 2.5 years, MVP has organized some of the world’s most significant boxing events, and I’m excited to work with MVP to elevate the status of professional boxing in India and bring attention to boxers from India globally,” said an excited Goyat.

“His viral callouts of Jake Paul certainly got our attention,” said MVP co-founder Nakisa Bidarian.

Out-of-the box thinking.

Fights to Watch (all times Pacific Time)

Sat. DAZN 1:30 p.m. Amanda Serrano (46-2-1) vs Nina Meinke (18-3).

Sat. ESPN+ 2:10 pm Otabek Kholmatov 12-0, 11 KOs) vs. Raymod Ford (14-0-1, 7 KOs); Luis Alberto Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs) vs Reiya Abe (25-3-1, 10 KOs)

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Madueno Upsets Pauldo and Lopez Overcomes Escudero at Whitesands

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Madueno Upsets Pauldo and Lopez Overcomes Escudero at Whitesands

When it comes to professional boxing down in the Tampa Bay area, Canadian transplant Garry Jonas is a one-man band.

The architect of the Wednesday Night Fights series, Jonas doesn’t have to pay a site fee for the shows that he promotes because he owns the venue. The shows that he stages at his Whitesands Events Center in Plant City air on his live streaming platform ProBoxTV. His series currently has only one sponsor, a bookmaking operation called SportsBetting.Ag., and he owns that too. (A self-styled serial entrepreneur, Jonas continued his assault on the established order last week with his purchase of the respected Boxing Scene website, but that’s a story best saved for another day.)

Jonas promotes high-grade club fights. When he started this venture, he promised entertaining, well-matched fights and tonight he delivered. The “A” side fighters in the co-main events were matched tough.

In the featured bout, lightweight Justin Pauldo (17-2, 1 NC) was upset by Mexico’s Miguel Madueno. Managed by Jolene Mazzone, the former VP and matchmaker for Main Events and trained by Ronnie Shields, Pauldo, a resident or nearby Orlando, was unbeaten in his last 12 heading in.

In his previous start, Madueno turned in a lackluster performance against surging Canadian campaigner Steve Claggett. His showing (he was 30-1 with 28 KOs heading in) was inconsistent with his record. Tonight, he was more pugnacious, out-working the man in front of him, a 4/1 favorite. The decision was split; 97-92 and 95-94 for Madueno, 95-94 for Pauldo. There were no knockdowns, but the Mexican had a point deducted in round 5 for leading with his head.

Co-Feature

The co-main was an entertaining 10-round light heavyweight affair in which Edgar Berlanga stablemate Najee Lopez improved to 10-0 (8) with a hard-earned majority decision over Marcos Escudero (14-3). One of the judges had it a draw (95-95) but he was overruled by his cohorts who had it 97-93 and 99-91.

Lopez, who is of Puerto Rican descent but was born and raised in the Atlanta area, hadn’t previously gone beyond six rounds. He was the house fighter. Named the 2023 Prospect of the Year by the ProBox team of TV commentators, Lopez was making his eighth appearance at Whitesands. Escudero, a South Florida-based Argentine had won four straight heading in at club shows in Delray Beach, FL after back-to-back setbacks in competitive fights with Joseph George.

Escudero, who did most of the leading, had many good moments. The 99-91 tally against the Argentine was a head-scratcher. (Commentator Paulie Malignaggi said the offending  judge, Alvaro Rodriguez, should have his fee withheld and be forced to serve a one-year suspension.)

Also

In an 8-round lightweight contest, former two-time Olympian Tsendbaatar Erdenebat, a 27-year-old Mongolian southpaw who began his pro career in China and now resides in southern California, improved to 9-0 (4) with a unanimous decision over Guinea-born Mohamed Soumaoro (11-3) who was a willing mixer but was out-classed. The scores were 79-73 and 80-72 twice.

As one would expect from a two-time Olympian, Erdenebat is a good technician who puts his punches together well, but doesn’t have a lot of power. If his name rings a bell, he’s the fellow who purportedly sent Ryan Garcia to the hospital from the effects of a body punch during a sparring session.

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Two Featherweight Title Fights Top a Strong Bill at Turning Stone on Saturday

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When Top Rank announced in December that they would be returning to Turning Stone Resort & Casino for an ESPN+ show on March 2nd featuring two featherweight world title fights they promised a deep action-packed show. Usually such words fall by the wayside as the event ultimately comes together but in this instance the docket is loaded from top to bottom with name attractions, undefeated prospects, local grudge matches and two very well-matched co-headliners.

In the first of the co-headliners, Luis Alberto Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs) makes the third defense of his IBF featherweight belt against Japan’s Reiya Abe (25-3-1, 10 KOs). Lopez is a popular brawler whose aggressive style and lack of attention to defense usually makes for entertaining fights. Abe, a southpaw, is a slick boxer who is coming off a career best win against Kiko Martinez last April. Abe has a style similar to that of Ruben Villa who outboxed Lopez to a ten round unanimous decision win in 2019.

The co-headline finale is being contested for the vacant WBA featherweight title between Otabek Kholmatov (12-0, 11 KOs) and Raymond Ford (14-0-1, 7 KOs). Both fighters were highly touted heading into the pro ranks. Ford has the speed advantage but Kholmatov has a big edge in power. Social media seems split right down the middle on this fight and oddsmakers agree installing Kholmatov as a very slight favorite as of this writing.

Also on this show is the return of the ever popular Nico Ali Walsh (9-1, 5 KOs) who bounced back from his first career defeat on Dec. 16 at a show in Guinea where he defeated a Frenchman with a 9-2-1 record (mysteriously, that fight isn’t yet listed on boxrec). He will face off against Luke Iannuccilli (7-0, 3 KOs). Walsh, Muhammad Ali’s grandson, will make his debut at Turning Stone Resort Casino in the same exact arena where his aunt and Boxing Hall of Famer Laila Ali made her professional boxing debut in October of 1999 with her legendary father sitting ringside. This will mark the fourth time a member of Muhammad Ali’s family has fought at Turning Stone.

The card also includes several contests featuring up-and-coming undefeated fighters. One match in particular to keep an eye on is an eight-round welterweight bout between a pair of unbeaten fighters in Rohan Polanco (11-0, 7 KOs) and Tarik Zaina (13-0-1, 8 KOs). Zaina opened some eyes last November when he defeated Marcelino Lopez and Polanco is coming off three consecutive wins against opponents who had a cumulative record of 39-3.

Finally I would be remiss if I didn’t notate the local grudge match on the docket between Gerffred Ngayot (6-1, 5 KOs) of Buffalo and Bryce Mills (14-1, 5 KOs) of Syracuse. They are scheduled to face off in a six-round bout in the 140-pound division. They are on this show because each have solid local fan bases and matching them was a way to help fill the stands. Mills is a sharp accurate counterpuncher with all-around solid skills. Ngayot is an aggressive fighter who is not afraid to be first and fire away to the body. Stylistically this could turn into quite a barnburner and each have plenty of motivation to make a statement on what is a much bigger stage than they are accustomed to.

We are often quick to criticize those in the sport when cards come together that are seemingly either loaded with mismatches or bouts that just don’t pique much interest. This is an instance where those involved need to be applauded for putting together a card from top to bottom that will certainly give fans plenty of bang for their buck.

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