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Khan Says He's BETTER WITHOUT COACH ROACH

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KhanGarcia Hogan34Every fight out is must see for Amir Khan, because fight fans perceive that the Brit is iffy chinned, that he could get dropped and stop at any time, and that any fight could be his last.

The 26 year-old Bolton, England pug was last seen getting stopped in round four against Danny Garcia in Vegas in July. Since then, much has been made of his switch, subbing in Virgil Hunter for Freddie Roach. Khan made waves and drew some scorn when he went public with the word that he fears his Parkinson's has diminished Roach, and is telling the world that the switch in tutors will pay massive dividends. But you know the old saying–you can't train a chin.

Can Carlos Molina, a 17-0-1 (with just 7 KOs) hitter from Cali whose best win isn't easy to discern, test that chin in a bout which will run on Showtime? I'm doubtful of that but will of course tune in to make sure.

Khan sounded of solid mind on a recent conference call. “You will see a new Amir Khan come into this fight. I just want to say that the training that I've been doing with Virgil Hunter has been going great, (I'm working) on new techniques and new skills and (I will be) a totally different fighter,” he said. “I'm excited to show you all what the new Amir Khan is going to be like, but yes, training has been tough and hard.”

Khan, even with that cheatin' chin, which is prone to extreme acts of disloyalty, should be able to get a W over Molina, but he sounds like he's not looking past the greener guy. “We know we're up against a tough Carlos Molina, and we know what it's like to fight and be inside, because they're very confident and we're not taking this fight lightly,” Khan said. “We've taken it very seriously; especially because we know that Carlos is going to come into the fight very confident after my last fight.”

For the record, this Molina is NOT the 19-4-2 fighter who took on James Kirkland in March. That Carlos Molina is from Texas, and is of a higher skill-grade. Or is he? This Molina is telling all that he will gain respect come Saturday night. “I know a lot of people see me as the underdog, but man, little do they know that we're going to shock everybody on that night,” he said.

It's not like he outright slammed Roach on the call, but all Khan's talk of defense could be argued is a knock on Dedham Freddie. In prior fights, Khan said, “We made mistakes when we usually go in there and it's like there's no defense and jumping into a war when we don't need to have a war and the game plan going out the window and me getting over confident and just whereas if I just stick to the game plan more….So that's why I've been working with Virgil and Virgil is a great trainer defensively as well. We've been working on a lot of new defenses, which I think will help me in this fight.”

The contrast between Hunter and Roach is hard to miss. “We've been doing a lot of holding work as well like teaching me when you are hurt, what you have to do if you're holding, using these things. Virgil sees a fight the way it should go and if you're making mistakes, he'll pull you up on them, and tell you how to change your style and stuff,” Khan said. “Also when we're working in the gym together, we've changed a lot of stuff, which is the defense, working a lot on the defensive side, something I've always wanted to work on with a trainer…It will take me to a different level seeing things better and also defending a lot of shots where I was normally just moving and whereas now I can block them. I know exactly what to do, and come the fight, you will see (a new) Amir Khan and you'll see a very settled and very mature fighter.”

The story of this fight: addition by subtraction. Khan has removed Freddie Roach from the equation, added Virgil Hunter and is hoping that the switch will rejuvenate a career which is standing on a thin sheet of ice. Tune in to see if the ice holds, or if Khan gets cracked and his career prospects drown.

Follow me on Twitter here https://twitter.com/#!/Woodsy1069.

Khan vs. Molina is a 12 round fight for the vacant WBC Silver Super Lightweight Title and is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and Khan Promotions and sponsored by Corona and AT&T. In the co-featured attractions, charismatic unbeaten knockout artist and 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder squares off against undefeated Kelvin Price in a 10-round heavyweight clash for the vacant WBC Continental Americas Heavyweight Championship and hard-hitting junior middleweight Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo of Los Angeles by way of Mexicali, Mexico faces Jorge Silva in a 10-round bout. The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast begins live at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) with a ten round welterweight fight featuring rising star Shawn Porter vs. former World Champion Julio Diaz airing live on SHOWTIME EXTREME beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast). The Sky Sports 1HD telecast begins live at 2:00 a.m. GMT on Sunday, December 16.

Santa Cruz vs. Guevara is a 12-round fight for Santa Cruz's IBF Bantamweight World Championship and is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and sponsored by Corona and AT&T. The CBS broadcast, which airs live from 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT until 6:00 p.m. ET/3:00 p.m. PT, will also feature the professional debut of 2012 U.S. Olympian Joseph Diaz Jr. as he faces Vicente Alfaro in a four-round junior featherweight fight.

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Remembering ‘Rocky Estafire,’ One Tough Syrian

Ted Sares

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On Sept. 9, 1978, a Bayonne, New Jersey brawler who was billed as Rocky Estafire when he was first starting out, stopped slick Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts in Jersey City giving notice that he was becoming a force to be reckoned with in the middleweight division. Watts was no slouch having split a pair with Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

”Strictly LaMotta style,” said Paddy Flood of his fighter who would come to be known by his real name, Mustafa Hamsho.

In 1980, he beat undefeated Wilford Scypion and followed that up with close wins over Curtis Parker and Alan Minter in 1981 leading to his first of two title clashes with Hagler. This bloody encounter, won by Hagler on an 11th-round TKO, left both fighters needing stiches.

“Throughout Hagler’s nonstop, 11th-round barrage, Hamsho kept coming on. He didn’t win a round, but he did take the battle of the stitches, 55-5,” wrote Pat Putnam in Sports Illustrated. “I don’t know what his corner was waiting for…The meat from his eyes was hanging down. But I can’t let that bother me. I just have to think, better him than me,” said Hagler.

More from Putnam: “When Hagler had left the hospital, the doctors were still working over Hamsho, who, until his trainer, Al Braverman, jumped into the ring to stop the fight, looked as though he would run out of blood before he ran out of heart. He was badly cut under both brows: Each wound was at least two inches long and half an inch wide. There was another slice under his left eye. He didn’t win a round from any of the three officials.”

Al Braverman, who co-managed Hamsho with the aforementioned Flood, once described the Syrian’s style as follows: “….”He’s got no style. He just wades in, throwing punches from any angle.”  He also possessed great stamina, a granite chin and incredible courage, along with head and shoulder butts, elbows, low blows, shoves, holding, chops behind the head, and whatever he could get away with.

The Matinee Idol

Bobby Czyz was 20-0 when he met Hamsho at the Convention Center in Atlantic City on Nov. 20, 1982. The undefeated New Jersey lad with the somewhat strange moniker of “Matinee Idol” and the high IQ had solid wins over Danny Long, Teddy Mann, Oscar Albarado, Elisha Obed, and Robbie Sims. Against Hamsho he was stepping up in class but he was a solid opponent for the Syrian who was 34-2-2 coming in.

If Bobby won, he would position himself for a shot at Marvelous Marvin, but Hamsho mauled and mugged the future world light heavyweight champion over ten rounds and won a convincing UD. (The rest of the Bobby Czyz story is told in “The Boxer Who Became a Bagger,” a remarkable and poignant article by sports columnist Steve Politi that first appeared in the Newark Star-Ledger.)

Wilfred Benitez

HIs UD victory over Wilfred Benitez (45-2-1) in 1883 was pure Hamsho featuring elbows, butts, and low blows. The third round was difficult to watch as the compact Syrian rendered a brutal beating on “El Radar,” using accurate nonstop shots coming from all directions. Between slips and knockdowns, Wilfred hit the deck four times.

Clearly, Benitez had faded, but Hamsho hastened the process and helped point the legendary Puerto Rican in a downward direction. Wilfred looked sluggish and poorly conditioned; he was not the same Benitez who knocked out Maurice Hope in spectacular fashion or out-boxed Roberto Duran for 15 rounds. Something was wrong.

But even in top shape, Benitez would have struggled against Hamsho with his mauling, brawling, non-stop pressure. Hamsho could make anyone look bad.  (Wilfred Benitez would lose several more outings after the Hamsho beatdown. Matthew Hilton finished the job with a terrifying KO in 1986. Wilfred’s story is a terribly sad one as he now requires constant care.)

Hamsho would lose another fight with Hagler—this time quickly and badly– and then go 6-2 before retiring in 1989 with a record of 44-5-2.

Those who were fortunate enough to see him fight remember a fan-pleasing, all-action combination of Vito Antuofermo, Michael Katsidis, Antonio Margarito, and Gene Fullmer.

Amir Khan and Prince Naseem Hamed are two very high profile, proud Muslim fighters. Mustafa Hamsho’s name can be added.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

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Miguel Madueno Scores His 12th Straight Knockout at Ontario, Calif

David A. Avila

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Ontario, CA — A return of fans to the Inland Empire saw Mexico’s Miguel Madueno extend his consecutive knockout streak to a dozen at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California on Friday.

It was the first fan-filled event for a Thompson Boxing card in the “I.E.” in almost two years.

Lightweight contender Madueno (26-0, 24 KOs) of Culiacan powered his way to his 12th consecutive knockout and this came at the expense of fellow Mexican Jose Luis Rodriguez (25-15-1, 13 KOs) with a focused attack to the body.

Rodriguez was clever and tough and would not allow Madueno to overwhelm him during the first four rounds. But in the fifth he was not as lucky as a four-punch barrage to the body sent him to one knee. He beat the count but was overwhelmed by Madueno who forced referee Raul Caiz to end the fight at 2:46 of the fifth round.

“In reality I thought I would end it early,” said Madueno about seeking an early knockout. “But he could take it.”

In the co-main event Japan’s Katsuma Akitsugi (7-0) outhustled Northern California’s Eros Correa (10-1) after eight rounds in a bantamweight scrap to win by majority decision.

Akitsugi, a southpaw, and Correa both showed quick hands and good chins. But the Japanese fighter was always on attack and Correa resorted to holding from the second round on. He was never warned by the referee for excessive holding. It could have helped him get back in the fight.

Every time Akitsugi entered the danger zone Correa would grab ahold like an MMA fighter instead of fighting on the inside. While Correa held Akitsugi punched and that proved the difference as two judges scored it 78-74 for Akitsugi, while a third saw it 76-76.

“I could not box my style at all,” said Akitsugi, 23. “I’m glad I brought the win home.”

Other Bouts

San Bernardino’s Esteban Munoz (5-1, 3 KOs) knocked out Tijuana’s Manuel Martinez (6-5-4) with a body shot in the first round. He could not beat the count. Munoz had stunned Martinez earlier with a counter right. Then he found an opening to the body and delivered a right to the gut and down went Martinez. He was counted out at 1:50 of the first round.

Coachella’s Lazaro Vargas (4-0) out-worked Ulises Rosales (0-5) over four rounds of a super bantamweight match to win by unanimous decision 40-36 on all three cards.

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Oscar Rivas is Boxing’s First Bridgerweight Champ; Tops Spunky Ryan Rozicki

Arne K. Lang

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Back in January, the World Boxing Council announced that they were creating a new weight division. Tailored to boxers weighing between 200 and 224 pounds, they named it Bridgerweight. Tonight, at the Olympia Theatre in Montreal, the first WBC bridgerweight champion was crowned. Montreal-based Oscar Rivas, a 2008 Olympian representing his native Columbia, turned the trick with a unanimous 12-round decision over fellow Canadian Ryan Rozicki, advancing his record to 28-1 (19).

Rozicki, who is from Nova Scotia, out-performed expectations. Although he had knocked out all 13 of his opponents since turning pro in 2016, he hadn’t defeated anyone of note and hadn’t fought beyond six rounds. He drew the assignment when Rivas’s original opponent Bryant Jennings was scratched because of his refusal to accept Canada’s COVID protocols for unvaccinated foreigners. (A match between Rivas and Jennings would have been a rematch of their Jan. 18, 2019 contest in Verona, New York, a rather ho-hum match that had a dramatic ending when Rivas turned up the heat in the 12th round.)

Rivas, 34, was making his second start since suffering his lone defeat, a setback on points in a 12-round contest with Dillian Whyte in London. The heavier man by 19 pounds, he dominated the first two frames, rocking Rozicki in the opening stanza, but the Nova Scotian clawed his way back into the fight. Rivas had a strong penultimate round and although he had a point deducted for holding in the final stanza, it did not factor into the outcome. The judges had it 116-111 and 115-112.

What’s next for Oscar Rivas? Logically a bout with Evgeny Romanov. A 36-year-old Russian with a 16-0 (11-0 mark), Romanov was ranked #2 behind Rivas in the WBC’s latest set of bridgerweight rankings. Romanov’s claim to fame is that he TKOed Deontay Wilder is in amateur days, but that was way back in 2008.

Another possibility, and one likely to attract more buzz, would be a bout with Alen Babic. A 30-year-old Brit by way of Croatia, the colorful, free-swinging Babic (8-0, 8 KOs) has a date later this month in London with Texas trial horse Eric Molina.

The best guess, however, is that Rivas will discard the belt and go back to competing as a heavyweight. The bridgerweight title, we suspect, like many of the lesser titles, will be perpetually vacant, which likely wouldn’t trouble the WBC at all as they will gather up a sanctioning fee from a bridgerweight title fight whether there is an incumbent or not.

There were two 8-rounders offering chief support, but both were cancelled when the opponents failed to pass muster. Left in the lurch were “A side” Canadians Sebastien Bouchard, a welterweight, and Steve Rolls, a middleweight.

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