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Robert Guerrero Has Always Wanted To Fight the Best

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GuerreroAydin Hogan20If you want to know what happened to the best fighting the best in boxing, Robert Guerrero seems to know the answer. He is just looking for another fighter to think the same way.

When I met Robert Guerrero over three years ago and asked him who he wanted to fight, the confident 130 pounder said Manny Pacquiao, the same Manny who was fresh off of putting Oscar De la Hoya in retirement.

I thought… Well, let’s put it this way, I thought he had a lot of guts, because boxing is a political sport, and I was guilty of thinking politically.

“Why does Robert Guerrero deserve a fight with Manny?” was the first thought that came to my mind. “Pacquiao is too big and too strong,” was another one.

Yet, for all the political faults, mismatches, and bad decisions, in boxing, the sport has an old fashion quality of letting arguments linger.

(See Leonard/Hagler,Lewis/Tyson, Mayweather/Pacquiao)

Robert Guerrero has called out marquee names to fight for years. First it was Juan Manuel Marquez, then Manny Pacquiao, and Floyd Mayweather,with no success.

In January of this year, Guerrero almost got his wish to fight Mayweather when I reported the potential Mayweather/Guerrero fight close to fruition.

That led to Mayweather calling the name of Manny Pacquiao, but Mayweather eventually fought Miguel Cotto, and it left Guerrero without a dance partner. Until last month, when Robert Guerrero moved up two weight classes to win a version of the welterweight title against Selcuk Aydin in front of hometown fans in San Jose, Ca.

After the victory at the post fight press conference, Guerrero spent more time challenging Floyd Mayweather than praising the performance he called “the toughest fight of his life.”

Guerrero said, “I have all of these titles but no one wants to fight. It's crazy, I have all of these titles and no one wants to fight.”

He said it twice. And it sounded strange, but everyone in the room understood. A statement like that carries weight in boxing.

Robert Guerrero has won many titles in multiple weight classes, including the welterweight one. But he is not the publicly recognized welterweight champion until he defeats Floyd Mayweather, or Manny Pacquiao. Guerrero gets it, so he continues to call their names out.

You can call it forward thinking for The Ghost. Or call it what The Joker likes to call, “A misplaced sense of self-righteousness.”

Call it what you want, the beauty of Guerrero is that his story never changes.

Here’s a look at some of the best quotes I got from Robert Guerrero over the years. You might notice a trend sounding like a broken record. Guerrero’s always wanted to fight the best. Check how this 35-month timeline sounds like a flowing conversation from one interview to the next.

January 4, 2009: In our first interview the 126 pound champion moving up for his first fight at 130 pounds dares to confront Manny Pacquiao, says he has the style to beat him.

RM:Well, who would you want to fight, if you had a choice?

RG:
Pacquiao would be my first choice. If you put two explosive lefties together it will be a war. I feel like I have the perfect style to beat him.

RM:
Why is that?

RG:
I have the speed and power. They say people are afraid to come in on Pacquiao, but I have fought a lot of lefties before. If you get a guy that could push Pacquiao back, then you have a real good fight.

RM: You have a point.Pacquiao has not fought many guys that can make him go backwards. If you could do that against him then it would definitely be an interesting fight.

RG: Yeah, Pacquiao has not fought a natural lefty with speed and power that could stand and trade with him,and also bring in side-to-side movement. I just feel like I have the style to beat him.

March 3, 2009

More Manny Pacquiao talk- this time Guerrero explains his motivations to be great…

RM: So if you got into the ring with Manny, it would be more of a pressure fight?

RG
: I would put a lot of pressure on him and throw a lot more punches than he is accustomed to. I also have a left-handed style that always makes it difficult.

RM
: Hey, speaking of motivation to fight the best, I have a question. When you get tired in the gym and want to push yourself to do that extra rep or extra sparring session, do you picture yourself fighting a guy like Manny Pacquiao? Or do you have some other type of motivation? How do you motivate yourself to work harder in the gym to be a great professional fighter?

RG: Wanting to be the best… Wanting to be the one of the greats in boxing forces me to dig down, suck it up, and push myself. In the long run, that is going to ultimately make me become a more skilled fighter, going the extra mile, and leaving no stone unturned.

June 1, 2009:

Guerrero turned his attention to the best at 130 & 135, mostly Juan Manuel Marquez…

Guerrero said:

“I have been wanted to get into some big fights for some time. I want to get a (Juan Manuel) Marquez fight. Humberto Soto is out there. There are a lot of big fighters out there, especially at 130 or 135 pounds.

August 6, 2011:

Guerrero says he is a throwback fighter and is willing to prove it… He agrees to fight feared 140-pound puncher, Marcos Maidana, in San Jose, Ca.

RM: So you are a five-time world champion in four different weight classes, right?

RG: Yes sir.

RM: And you have moved up four weight classes since 2008 and beaten everyone that you have faced. Is it frustrating when you do not see your name on many of the top ten pound for pound lists?

RG: It does get to me. But at the end of the day you have to keep on trucking. Every great champion has his day to get recognized. I just have to keep doing what I do. That is why I take fights like Marcos Maidana or Michael Katsidis. I am looking for the best fights out there. I am one of those throwback fighters who fight the best to be the best. I am not going to hide, duck, and run from everybody.

RM: Do you think that the best fighters are afraid of you?

RG: I think a lot of fighters take a big gamble and a big risk fighting me. It is the way it is. And that just adds fuel to my fire. If I keep doing what I do then the fans and the media are going to back these guys into a corner. Pretty soon they are going to be forced to fight me. You have seen it over the years, history does repeat itself, Ray. When everybody wants to see a fight it is going to happen.

RM: I don’t want to take anything away from the Maidana fight because I think fight will be exciting. But is there anyone that you would like to fight after a potential victory over Maidana?

RG: Everyone knows that fight, Manny Pacquiao. He is pound for pound the best fighter in boxing. I know Pacquiao does not run or duck from anybody. Like I said, I am one of those throwback fighters. I want to be the best. And if you want to be the best you have to beat the best.

RM: When I talk to you it sounds like I am speaking with a guy that just started boxing. You seem to have so much passion for the fight game. Why do you think that the fire is still strong inside of you?

RG: I love the sport so much. I grew up in a family of fighters. My grandfather was a fighter, my father, my uncles, and brothers were fighters. It is just a family tradition. To keep boxing alive you have to love it. That is what lacks in boxing, the champions that do not want to fight the fights that they should be fighting. And it turns a lot of fans off. I loved boxing when I was a kid because you would see the best fighting the best. And that is the way it should be.

November 19, 2011:

Two months after pulling out of a fight with Marcos Maidana because of a shoulder injury that required surgery, Robert Guerrero decided to move up to welterweight and call out the name of Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Multiple press releases, articles, and interviews followed. Guerrero and his team were pushing for a Mayweather fight like no one before.

RM: I have seen you call out a lot of fighters in the past. But not many fighters have gone to the lengths you have to call out Floyd Mayweather. Everyone wants to fight him. But you are doing it differently. There are press releases talking about the potential fight, predictions from boxing experts, and you have gone on talk shows to call him out. What makes this fight any different from the other challenges you have made?

RG: You know Floyd is the ultimate challenge. He is the best fighter in boxing right now hands down. And I am like those throwback fighters man, I want to fight the best. Every time I call out the best like Marquez,Pacquiao, or Khan, none of them want to fight. We are approaching this challenge like ‘Hey, let’s make it happen. I know he set that date. Cinco de Mayo. I am Mexican-American right here. Let’s do it.’

RM: No doubt. I have seen you fight. And you do a lot of great things in the ring. But the nature of this interview is for me to play devil’s advocate. What makes you think that you could beat a fighter that has never been beaten?

RG: I have a lot of faith in my ability. I believe I could beat anybody in the world. If you go into the ring without confidence, it haunts you. A guy like Floyd Mayweather, who is intelligent in the ring, takes advantage of weaknesses like that. I am that type of guy that is here to fight. I am here to take care of business. Nobody intimidates me. I ain’t scared of anybody. I go in the ring to win the fight. I don’t go in there just to fight.

RM: Do you think some of Floyd’s recent opponents just went in the ring to survive?

RG: You have to have a killer instinct. You have seen me fight. I go in with a killer instinct. Some people doubt themselves. Floyd has the utmost confidence in himself. That is why he is so dominant. That is why he hasn’t lost a fight. I am 100% confident in myself.

RM: You have to go in 100% confident right?

RG: Yeah, you have to be. The one thing I love is doubters. When I am the underdog I step up. I am a playmaker. When it is time to make that play, I am there. I will hit that home run.

RM: So, you want to fight the best. And Floyd is the man with the guts to take you on. Is that how it boils down?

RG: He says he takes on all challengers. Everything is there to make that big fight. I could sell a big fight. The last fight I was supposed to have with Maidana was a sellout. It is all there for us to make a big fight with me and Floyd Mayweather.

RM: What's your prediction for that fight, maybe a knockout?

RG: With me and Floyd?

RM: Yeah.

RG: Who knows? I believe in myself. I believe I could knock him out. Anything could happen in boxing. If you believe in yourself and have faith, anything could happen.

RM: Do you expect Floyd to accept your challenge? Or do you think he is not really paying attention?

RG: I know he is paying attention. Floyd Mayweather would not be pound for pound best fighter in the world if he wasn’t paying attention. Even when he retired he was paying attention. I am expecting him to take on the challenge.

RM: Do you have a message for Floyd Mayweather?

RG: Yeah, the only way this fight will not be made is if he doesn’t want it.

…..

The boxing public is witnessing the growth in Robert Guerrero. It just took a bit longer than he might have expected.

Now, when Guerrero shouts at Mayweather, Pacquiao, (or most recently Adrian Broner,) it’s front-page boxing news. In the past, Guerrero built his campaign on guts for calling out the best, now he does it with clout.

You can follow Ray Markarian on Twitter @raymarkarian

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Boxing Odds and Ends: The Heavyweight Merry-Go-Round

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There were few surprises when co-promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren and their benefactor HE Turki Alalshikh held a press conference in London this past Monday to unveil the undercard for the Beterbiev-Bivol show at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on June 1. Most of the match-ups had already been leaked.

For die-hard boxing fans, Beterbiev-Bivol is such an enticing fight that it really doesn’t need an attractive undercard. Two undefeated light heavyweights will meet with all four relevant belts on the line in a contest where the oddsmakers straddled the fence. It’s a genuine “pick-‘em” fight based on the only barometer that matters, the prevailing odds.

But Beterbiev-Bivol has been noosed to a splendid undercard, a striking contrast to Saturday’s Haney-Garcia $69.99 (U.S.) pay-per-view in Brooklyn, an event where the undercard, in the words of pseudonymous boxing writer Chris Williams, is an absolute dumpster fire.

The two heavyweight fights that will bleed into Beterbiev-Bivol, Hrgovic vs. Dubois and Wilder vs. Zhang, would have been stand-alone main events before the incursion of Saudi money.

Hrgovic-Dubois

Filip Hrgovic (17-0, 13 KOs) and Daniel Dubois (20-2, 19 KOs) fought on the same card in Riyadh this past December. Hrgovic, the Croatian, was fed a softie in the form of Australia’s Mark De Mori who he dismissed in the opening round. Dubois, a Londoner, rebounded from his loss to Oleksandr Usyk with a 10th-round stoppage of corpulent Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller.

There’s an outside chance that Hrgovic vs. Dubois may be sanctioned by the IBF for the world heavyweight title.

The May 18 showdown between Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury has a rematch clause. The IBF is next in line in the rotation system for a unified heavyweight champion and the organization has made it plain that the winner of Usyk-Fury must fulfill his IBF mandatory before an intervening bout.

The best guess is that the Usyk-Fury winner will relinquish the IBF belt. If so, Hrgovic and Dubois may fight for the vacant title although a more likely scenario is that the organization will keep the title vacant so that the winner can fight Anthony Joshua.

Wilder-Zhang

The match between Deontay Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs) and Zhilei Zhang (26-2-1, 21 KOs) is a true crossroads fight as both Wilder, 38, and Zhang, who turns 41 in May, are nearing the end of the road and the loser (unless it’s a close and entertaining fight) will be relegated to the rank of a has-been. In fact, Wilder has hinted that this may be his final rodeo.

Both are coming off a loss to Joseph Parker.

Wilder last fought on the card that included Hrgovic and Dubois and was roundly out-pointed by a man he was expected to beat. It’s a quick turnaround for Zhang who opposed Parker on March 8 and lost a majority decision.

Other Fights

Either of two other fights may steal the show on the June 1 event.

Raymond Ford (15-0-1, 8 KOs) meets Nick Ball (19-0-1, 11 KOs) in a 12-round featherweight contest. New Jersey’s Ford will be defending the WBA world title he won with a come-from-behind, 12th-round stoppage of Otabek Kholmatov in an early contender for Fight of the Year. Liverpool’s “Wrecking” Ball, a relentless five-foot-two sparkplug, had to settle for a draw in his title fight with Rey Vargas despite winning the late rounds and scoring two knockdowns.

Hamzah Sheeraz (19-0, 15 KOs) meets fellow unbeaten Austin “Ammo” Williams (16-0, 11 KOs) in a 12-round middleweight match. East London’s Sheeraz, the son of a former professional cricket player, is unknown in the U.S. although he trained for his recent fights at the Ten Goose Boxing Gym in California. Riding a skein of 13 straight knockouts, he has a date with WBO title-holder Janibek Alimkhanuly if he can get over this hurdle.

The Forgotten Heavyweight

“Unbeaten for seven years, the man nobody wants to fight,” intoned ring announcer Michael Buffer by way of introduction. Buffer was referencing Michael Hunter who stood across the ring from his opponent Artem Suslenkov.

This scene played out this past Saturday in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. It was Hunter’s second fight in three weeks. On March 23, he scored a fifth-round stoppage of a 46-year-old meatball at a show in Zapopan, Mexico.

The second-generation “Bounty Hunter,” whose only defeat prior to last weekend came in a 12-rounder with Oleksandr Usyk, has been spinning his wheels since TKOing the otherwise undefeated Martin Bakole on the road in London in 2018. Two fights against hapless opponents on low-budget cards in Mexico and a couple of one-round bouts for the Las Vegas Hustle, an entry in the fledgling and largely invisible Professional Combat League, are the sum total of his activity, aside from sparring, in the last two-and-a-half years.

Hunter’s chances of getting another big-money fight took a tumble in Tashkent where he lost a unanimous decision in a dull affair to the unexceptional Suslenkov who was appearing in his first 10-round fight. The scores of the judges were not announced.

You won’t find this fight listed on boxrec. As Jake Donovan notes, the popular website will not recognize a fight conducted under the auspices of a rogue commission. (Another fight you won’t find on boxrec for the same reason is Nico Ali Walsh’s 6-round split decision over the 9-2-1 Frenchman, Noel Lafargue, in the African nation of Guinea on Dec. 16, 2023. You can find it on YouTube, but according to boxrec, boxing’s official record-keeper, it never happened.)

Anderson-Merhy Redux

The only thing missing from this past Saturday’s match in Corpus Christi, Texas, between Jared Anderson and Ryad Merhy was the ghost of Robert Valsberg.

Valsberg, aka Roger Vaisburg, was the French referee who disqualified Ingemar Johansson for not trying in his match with LA’s Ed Sanders in the finals of the heavyweight competition at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. Valsberg tossed Johansson out of the ring after two rounds and Johansson was denied the silver medal. The Swede redeemed himself after turning pro, needless to say, when he demolished Floyd Patterson in the first of their three meetings.

Merhy was credited with throwing only 144 punches, landing 34, over the course of the 10 rounds. Those dismal figures yet struck many onlookers as too high. (This reporter has always insisted that the widely-quoted CompuBox numbers should be considered approximations.)

Whatever the true number, it was a disgraceful performance by Merhy who actually showed himself to have very fast hands on the few occasions when he did throw a punch. With apologies to Delfine Persoon, a spunky lightweight, U.S. boxing promoters should think twice before inviting another Belgian boxer to our shores.

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Anderson Cruises by Vapid Merhy and Ajagba edges Vianello in Texas

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Jared Anderson returned to the ring tonight on a Top Rank card in Corpus Christi, Texas. Touted as the next big thing in the heavyweight division, Anderson (17-0, 15 KOs) hardly broke a sweat while cruising past Ryad Merhy in a bout with very little action, much to the disgruntlement of the crowd which started booing as early as the second round. The fault was all Merhy as he was reluctant to let his hands go. Somehow, he won a round on the scorecard of judge David Sutherland who likely fell asleep for a round for which he could be forgiven.

Merhy, born in the Ivory Coast but a resident of Brussels, Belgium, was 32-2 (26 KOs) heading in after fighting most of his career as a cruiserweight. He gave up six inches in height to Anderson who was content to peck away when it became obvious to him that little would be coming back his way.

Anderson may face a more daunting adversary on Monday when he has a court date in Romulus, Michigan, to answer charges related to an incident in February where he drove his Dodge Challenger at a high rate speed, baiting the police into a merry chase. (Weirdly, Anderson entered the ring tonight wearing the sort of helmet that one associates with a race car driver.)

Co-Feature

In the co-feature, a battle between six-foot-six former Olympians, Italy’s Guido Vianello started and finished strong, but Efe Ajagba had the best of it in the middle rounds and prevailed on a split decision. Two of the judges favored Ajagba by 96-94 scores with the dissenter favoring the Italian from Rome by the same margin.

Vianello had the best round of the fight. He staggered Ajagba with a combination in round two. At the end of the round, a befuddled Ajagba returned to the wrong corner and it appeared that an upset was brewing. But the Nigerian, who trains in Las Vegas under Kay Koroma, got back into the fight with a more varied offensive attack and better head movement. In winning, he improved his ledger to 20-1 (14). Vianello, who sparred extensively with Daniel Dubois in London in preparation for this fight, declined to 12-2-1 in what was likely his final outing under the Top Rank banner.

Other Bouts of Note

In the opening bout on the main ESPN platform, 35-year-old super featherweight Robson Conceicao, a gold medalist for Brazil in the 2016 Rio Olympics, stepped down in class after fighting Emanuel Navarrete tooth-and-nail to a draw in his previous bout and scored a seventh-round stoppage of Jose Ivan Guardado who was a cooked goose after slumping to the canvas after taking a wicked shot to the liver. Guardado made it to his feet, but the end was imminent and the referee waived it off at the 2:27 mark.

Conceicao improved to 18-1 (9 KOs). It was the U.S. debut for Guardado (15-2-1), a boxer from Ensenada, Mexico who had done most of his fighting up the road in Tijuana.

Ruben Villa, the pride of Salinas, California, improved to 22-1 (7) and moved one step closer to a match with WBC featherweight champion Rey Vargas with a unanimous 10-round decision over Tijuana’s Cristian Cruz (22-7-1). The judges had it 97-93 and 98-92 twice.

Cruz, the son of former IBF world featherweight title-holder Cristobal Cruz, was better than his record. He entered the bout on a 21-1-1 run after losing five of his first seven pro fights.

Cleveland southpaw Abdullah Mason, who turned 20 earlier this month, continued his fast ascent up the lightweight ladder with a fourth-round stoppage of Ronal Ron.

Mason (13-0, 11 KOs) put Ron on the canvas in the opening round with a short left hook. He scored a second knockdown with a shot to the liver. A flurry of punches, a diverse array, forced the stoppage at the 1:02 mark of round four. A 25-year-old SoCal-based Venezuelan, the spunky but out-gunned Ron declined to 14-6.

Charly Suarez, a 35-year-old former Olympian from the Philippines, ranked #5 at junior lightweight by the IBF, advanced to 17-0 (9) with a unanimous 8-round decision over SoCal’s Louie Coria (5-7).

This was a tactical fight. In the final round, Coria, subbing for 19-0 Henry Lebron, caught the Filipino off-balance and knocked him into the ropes which held him up. It was scored a knockdown, but came too little, too late for Coria who lost by scores of 76-75 and 77-74 twice.

Suarez, whose signature win was a 12th-round stoppage of the previously undefeated Aussie Paul Fleming in Sydney, may be headed to a rematch with Robson Conceicao. They fought as amateurs in 2016 in Kazakhstan and Suarez lost a narrow 6-round decision.

Photo credit: Mikey Willams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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Ellie Scotney and Rhiannon Dixon Win World Title Fights in Manchester

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England’s Ellie Scotney started slowly against the long reach of France’s Segolene Lefebvre but used rough tactics and a full-steam ahead approach to unify the super bantamweight division by unanimous decision on Saturday.

“There’s a lot more I didn’t show,” said an excited Scotney (pictured on the left).

IBF titlist Scotney (9-0) added the WBO title by nullifying Lefebvre’s (18-1) reach and dominating the inside with a two-fisted attack in front of an excited crowd in Manchester, England.

For the first two rounds Lefebvre used her long reach and smooth fluid attack to keep Scotney at the end of her punches. Then the fight turned when the British fighter bulled her way inside with body shots and forced the French fighter into the ropes.

Aggressiveness by Scotney turned the fight in her favor. But Lefebvre remained active and countered with overhand rights throughout the match.

Body shots by Scotney continued to pummel the French champion’s abdomen but she remained steadfast in her counter-attacks. Combinations landed for Lefebvre and a counter overhand right scored to keep her in the contest in the fifth round.

Scotney increased the intensity of her attack in the sixth and seventh rounds. In perhaps her best round Scotney was almost perfect in scoring while not getting hit with anything from the French fighter.

Maybe the success of the previous round caused Scotney to pause. It allowed Lefebvre to rally behind some solid shots in a slow round and gave the French fighter an opening. Maybe.

The British fighter opened up more savagely after taking two Lefevbre rights to open the ninth. Scotney attacked with bruising more emphatic blows despite getting hit. Though both fired blows Scotney’s were more powerful.

Both champions opened-up the 10th and final round with punches flying. Once again Scotney’s blows had more power behind them though the French fighter scored too, and though her face looked less bruised than Scotney’s the pure force of Scotney’s attacks was more impressive.

All three judges saw Scotney the winner 97-93, 96-94 and a ridiculous 99-91. The London-based fighter now has the IBF and WBO super bantamweight titles.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said a possible showdown with WBC titlist Erika Cruz looms large possibly in the summer.

“Great performance. Great punch output,” said Hearn of Scotney’s performance.

Dixon Wins WBO Title

British southpaw Rhiannon Dixon (10-0) out-fought Argentina’s Karen Carabajal (22-2) over 10 rounds and won a very competitive unanimous decision to win the vacant WBO lightweight title. It was one of the titles vacated by Katie Taylor who is now the undisputed super lightweight world champion.

An aggressive Dixon dominated the first three rounds including a knockdown in the third round with a perfect left-hand counter that dropped Carabajal. The Argentine got up and rallied in the round.

Carabajal, whose only loss was against Katie Taylor, slowly began figuring out Dixon’s attacks and each round got more competitive. The Argentine fighter used counter rights to find a hole in Dixon’s defense to probably win the round in the sixth.

The final three rounds saw both fighters engage evenly with Carabajal scoring on counters and Dixon attacking the body successfully.

After 10 rounds all three judges saw it in Dixon’s favor 98-91, 97-92, 96-93 who now wields the WBO lightweight world title.

“It’s difficult to find words,” said Dixon after winning the title.

Hometown Fighter Wins

Manchester’s Zelfa Barrett (31-2, 17 KOs) battled back and forth with Jordan Gill (28-3-1, 9 KO-s) and finally ended the super featherweight fight with two knockdowns via lefts to the body in the 10th round of a scheduled 12-round match for a regional title.

The smooth moving Barrett found the busier Gill more complex than expected and for the first nine rounds was fighting a 50/50 fight against the fellow British fighter from the small town of Chatteris north of London.

In the 10th round after multiple shots on the body of Gill, a left hook to the ribs collapsed the Chatteris fighter to the floor. He willed himself up and soon after was floored again but this time by a left to the solar plexus. Again he continued but was belted around until the referee stopped the onslaught by Barrett at 2:44 of the 10th.

“A tough, tough fighter,” said Barrett about Gill. “I had to work hard.”

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