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Avila’s Fighter of the Year: Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero; Plus Other Best Performances

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Everybody has their personal choice for Fighter of the Year, but I just can’t imagine any of those others doing what Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero did in 2012. No doubt in my mind Guerrero is the Fighter of the Year in 2012.

A number of other categories are on this list including Prizefight of the Year, Knockout of the Year, Round of the Year, Upset of the Year, Comeback of the Year, and several others, including this year’s top ring officials. We’ll start off with the Fighter of the Year.

When Guerrero was injured during training almost two years ago, he was still a 135-pound lightweight who had defeated Michael Katsidis. An injury to his shoulder forced him to cancel a fight and the world did not hear about the Gilroy, California fighter until last summer. That’s when he told Golden Boy Promotions he was ready to jump back in the ring. They offered a tune up fight, he shook his head and demanded the best fighter available. No one at lightweight or junior welterweight accepted an offer to fight Guerrero.

Instead of waiting, Guerrero jumped two weight divisions and told Golden Boy he would fight anyone in the welterweight division. Anyone. Still, there were few takers and we’re talking about going down the list of boxing’s most talented weight division. Only one fighter accepted the match and it was an undefeated welterweight named Selcuk Aydin.

Aydin had been training in Las Vegas and allegedly sparred with Floyd Mayweather. According to some sources Aydin was a handful and everyone that stepped in the ring with the heavy-handed prizefighter did not want any more. Though boxing fans did not know Aydin, the fighters, trainers and promoters knew all they needed to know. Many predicted Aydin would knock out Guerrero. Golden Boy signed Aydin to a contract.

Guerrero was offered a fight with Aydin and didn’t hesitate to accept the challenge. Despite the fact he had never fought as a welterweight, and was coming off a 15-month layoff, the Northern California southpaw eagerly accepted the fight. Aydin promised to break Guerrero’s jaw. The Ghost replied to bring it on.

After 12 tumultuous rounds on July in San Jose, Guerrero proved he could bang with the bigger 147-pounders, including the much feared Aydin. Guerrero won by unanimous decision and asked his promoters, who’s next?

Two-time world champion Andre “The Beast” Berto accepted the fight and Guerrero didn’t hesitate to sign the contract. Because Berto is managed by Al Haymon the match was shown on HBO and held at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California.

Fans and experts were split down the middle on who would win between Guerrero and Berto. Sure, the Ghost had defeated Aydin, but Berto was a different fighter altogether. Most cited the former champion’s athleticism as a distinct advantage, ignoring Guerrero’s own athleticism. It was kind of comical to hear the reasons many felt Guerrero was out of his league.

From the opening bell Guerrero dominated the fight and floored Berto twice in winning a brutal 12-round welterweight fight by unanimous decision. Berto recovered from two knockdowns to put up stiff resistance but never really could hurt Guerrero. Even after the impressive performance HBO commentators were still not convinced though they were ringside and could clearly see Guerrero dominated.

Now think back and remember Guerrero began his pro career as a 122-pound junior featherweight. Could you imagine any 122-pounder today competing as a 147-pound welterweight?

Guerrero is the clear cut Fighter of the Year for 2012. It was an amazing performance when you consider he jumped two weight divisions without a tune up fight. Not even the great “Hands of Stone” Roberto Duran or Sugar Shane Mosley had jumped from lightweight to welterweight without a tune up fight or two.

Honorable mention: Brandon Rios, Danny “Swift” Garcia, Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley, Abner Mares, Andre Ward, and Nonito Donaire.

Best Prizefight of the Year – Marquez vs. Pacman IV

The fight that nobody wanted to see turned out to be the most amazing fight of the year. The number of people who say they were present at Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao’s fourth fight will grow over the years.

Best Prizefight of the Year must go to Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Manny Pacquiao IV.

Pacquiao and Marquez lit up the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas in a fight that saw both elite fighters aggressively attack each other with a fury that exceeded all previous encounters put together. It was a surprising fight that saw each hit the deck until the fight was ended by a Marquez right cross in the sixth round. Few had expected the fight to develop into this firefight. It was like concentrated napalm. Explosive is the word best describing the fight that took place on Dec. 8 in Las Vegas.

Other fights deserving mention were Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado, Mauricio Herrera vs. Mike Alvarado, Josesito Lopez vs. Victor Ortiz, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez vs. Juan Francisco Estrada, and Orlando Salido vs. Juan Manuel Lopez II.

 

Knockout of the Year – Marquez Kos Pacman

Few knockouts end with a single punch in the elite level and it doesn’t get more elite than Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao. After both suffered knockdowns in the first five rounds, none of the 16,000 fans at the arena or the millions watching on television expected Marquez to unload a devastating right hand to render Pacquiao unconscious. It was a shocking and almost frightening moment to see Pacquiao lying face down and motionless. One single right cross from Mexico’s Marquez ended the fight in the sixth round. It was the perfect punch.

Runner up for knockout of the year goes to Randall Bailey who was losing every round to Mike Jones and ended the fight with a single right uppercut to win the IBF welterweight title in the 11th round.

Round of the Year – Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado round five.

Oxnard’s Brandon Rios was already known as a slugger who never met a punch he didn’t like. Against Colorado’s Mike Alvarado, the former lightweight world champion was meeting a bigger and harder hitting adversary than he’d ever faced before. It didn’t matter, Rios and Alvarado fought each other with Rocky film star Sylvester Stallone in the audience and showed how it’s really done. Almost every round drew oohs and aahhs from the crowd but round five was vicious. Each fighter unloaded with his best and saw the other return fire with a vengeance on Oct. 13 at the Home Depot Center. It was professional violence at its best in round five. Rios ultimately won the fight and said he gets offended if he’s not hit by the other guy.

Upset of the Year – Josesito Lopez TKOs Victor Ortiz

Riverside’s Josesito Lopez was not even a welterweight when asked to fight former world champion Vicious Victor Ortiz. But the graduate of Rubidoux High accepted the offer to meet Ventura’s much heralded Ortiz on June 23 at Staples Center and shocked the boxing world by winning a technical knockout victory at the Staples Center and national television. Few people outside of the Inland Empire gave Lopez a chance, but that victory made Lopez a hero across the country and in Mexico.

Runner up has to be Palm Spring’s Timothy Bradley winning a unanimous decision against Manny Pacquiao last June 9, in Las Vegas. It wasn’t an upset to this writer but to others in the boxing world, few gave Bradley a chance.

Comeback Fighter of the Year – Randall Bailey

When Randall Bailey was matched against undefeated Mike Jones it was supposed to be a set up fight to hand the IBF title over to Jones. Bailey, a former junior welterweight world champion attempting to win another world title at 37 years old, was not expected to give the bigger and faster Jones much of a challenge. For nine rounds it looked like Jones was on his way to winning the title when a Bailey right hand suddenly floored the youngster in round 10. Then came round 11 and Jones was told to stay away from Bailey’s right hand. Caught in a corner, a short right uppercut found Jones’ chin and down he went for good. Bailey wept uncontrollably. After 12 years Bailey finally had another world title belt wrapped around his waist.

Inspirational Fighter of the Year – Paul Malignaggi

After years of hearing he couldn’t break an egg or other such nonsensical statements, Paul Malignaggi accepted a fight against Ukrainian fighter Vyacheslav Senchenko, who held the WBA welterweight world title in his home country. If you know anything about fighting in Eastern Europe, its near impossible to beat a boxer in that area without a knockout. Odds-makers must have tabbed Malignaggi a 12 to 1 underdog but that didn’t stop the Brooklyn prizefighter known as “The Magic Man” from accepting the fight. It was one of those boxing moments in time where despite the odds a fighter proves to the world he is under-rated. Malignaggi dominated the fight from the opening round until he stopped Senchenko by technical knockout to win the world title in the 9th round. The boxing world was amazed.

If you think Senchenko was over-rated, the Ukrainian former world champion recently knocked out Ricky Hatton in Manchester to stop the former British hero from a mega payday with Malignaggi. Malignaggi is this year’s Most Inspirational Fighter.

Best Prelim Fight of the Year – Derrick Murray vs. Pedro Toledo

Few fans or boxing writers knew much about Derrick Murray or Pedro Toledo. Luckily, I had seen Murray in a sparring session go toe-to-toe with a lightweight and junior welterweight prospect and keep pace with both. So when I saw that the St. Louis junior lightweight Murray known as “Whup Dat Ass” was going to fight Ecuador’s Toledo, I made sure to get to the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario early. That night on Sept. 21, the two lit up the arena with their crackerjack combinations and willingness to throw bombs at all price. First, Toledo hit the deck, then Murray hit the deck. Each smacked each other with such force and abandon that the crowd was delirious. After a mere four rounds the fight was ruled a draw. It was the right call and worth every second the fight lasted.

Boxing Ring Officials

Best refs

Referees have a thankless job and there’s more than meets the eye when inside a boxing ring. First, the referee has to make sure both fighters are safe and following the rules at all times. Second, a referee has to keep the fight flowing without interfering with the fighters. It’s not as easy as it looks. Third, all knockdowns are not easily decipherable. It’s difficult to determine if a fighter was knocked down from a blow, pushed down or has slipped. Fourth, a referee has to keep moving. If they stand in one place too long there will be plenty of fans, journalists or photographers miffed about somebody blocking their view of the fight.

Here are the best in 2012:

Pat Russell, he’s a mainstay in the world of boxing and continues to be among the top five referees in the world. The California based referee has been named in this category many countless times. Many say he’s simply the best.

Kenny Bayless has consistently proven to be on top of the action even when immersed in elite showdowns where things tend to get overblown. The Nevada official seldom fails.

Tony Weeks has improved every year that I’ve covered the sport and we’re talking about more than 20 years now. Nevada has two of the best with Weeks and Bayless.

Jack Reiss is another good example of moving up the ladder from satisfactory to exemplary status. In the past three years his performances have equaled any of the best.

Others include: Ray Corona, Tom Taylor, Raul Caiz Sr., Raul Caiz Jr., Benjy Esteves Jr., Robert Byrd, Steve Smoger, Jon Schorle, and Frank Garza.

Judges

All of these selections are subjective but on a consistent basis those selected as the best ringside judges have shown to fit that description.

A judge can ruin a prizefighter’s career with the wrong judgment. On so many occasions I’ve witnessed some horrible decisions. Nobody is perfect, but when it comes to judging a fight there must be a pattern shown by judges of consistent scoring. Some judges prefer action fighters, others defense, and still others precision and accuracy. Everyone below has shown to have a consistent method of scoring. A boxing judge does not have an easy job.

Max DeLuca of California is the best judge in my estimation. I’ve seen him score many fights and he’s proven to be the cream of the crop. No prizefighter can get a fairer shake than having DeLuca judge their fight.

Jerry Roth of Nevada has been leading the charge for many years and prefers the action fighter. If few punchers are being thrown then he favors the aggressor. He’s always fair and good when it really counts. Roth has been a judge for quite a while now. He’s one of the deans of judging.

Lisa Giampa is one of the newer judges in Nevada but I’ve never seen a bad score on her part in the past three years. There have been fights when the other two judges were off and her scores were right on the mark. She’s young and definitely one of the young budding stars of boxing judges.

Julie Lederman has become the best judge on the East Coast. For years she’s been shelling out consistently good cards and without a doubt is New York’s best judge. Her scoring of the Robert Guerrero and Andre Berto fight was exactly the same as Max DeLuca’s and Alejandro Rochin.

Other good judges: Marty Denkin, Alejandro Rochin, Fritz Warner, Pat Russell, Dave Moretti, Duane Ford, Richard Houck, Jack Reiss, Ray Corona, Raul Caiz Sr., and Barry Druxman.

Fights on television

Sat. NBCSN, 6 p.m., Tomasz Adamek (47-2) vs. Steve Cunningham (25-4).

Sat. Telefutura, 10 p.m., Abner Cotto (15-0) vs. Sergio Perez (27-13).

 

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Abraham Nova and his Mascot are Back in Action on Friday Night

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With his black beard dyed gold, junior lightweight Abraham Nova is one of boxing’s most recognizable practitioners. Sometimes there’s two of him which makes him stand out even more. His twin is an inflatable mascot painted to look just like him. On fight nights they are inseparable. The mascot shadows Nova on his ringwalk, bouncing up and down and dancing to animate the crowd.

Some gimmicks are just plain hokey. Some are annoying. But there’s something whimsical about Nova’s invention that brings a smile to boxing fans of all ages. “Abraham Nova having his own mascot is one of the coolest things in boxing,” says fight writer Ryan Songalia.

“I played all sports in high school, football, baseball, track, and got the idea of it from other sports,” says Nova of his twin who he unveiled in January of 2020 at the Turning Stone Casino and Resort in Verona, New York, where he upped his record to 18-0 with a fourth-round stoppage of Mexican journeyman Pedro Navarrete.

He’s 5-2 since then, the smudges coming against future world featherweight champion Robeisy Ramirez (KO by 5) and defending super featherweight world champion O’Shaquie Foster where he came out on the short end of a split decision. This coming Friday, in his first assignment since failing to de-throne Foster, he opposes 21-0 Andres Cortes at the Fontainebleu in Las Vegas on a Top Rank card airing on ESPN+.

“I was the one who asked for this fight,” says Nova. “Top Rank offered me a match on their June 8th Puerto Rican Parade Weekend show at Madison Square Garden against an opponent who was 17-2, but I turned it down and asked for a better opponent and they accommodated me.” Las Vegas native Andres Cortes, who has been profiled in these pages, is ranked #2 at 130 pounds by the WBO.

In common with boxing’s historical pattern, Abraham Nova had a hardscrabble upbringing.

Born in Puerto Rico to parents from the Dominican Republic, the second-youngest of 10 children, he came to the U.S. at the age of 1 where the entire family was initially shoe-horned into a two-bedroom apartment in Albany, New York.

His father, Aquiles, had a friend here who was the pastor of a church and in need of an assistant pastor to help with his growing congregation. Aquiles eventually founded his own church in Albany, The Pentecostal Church of Unity & Prayer where services are held in both Spanish and English.

As a toddler, Nova lived briefly in Guatemala and Mexico where his parents were called to “spread the word” and to assist in redevelopment projects. The family traveled 5,500 miles in a rickety old school bus from Albany to Guatemala during the end days of the Guatemalan Civil War.

Each of Nova’s four brothers boxed, but he was the only one to turn pro. As an amateur, he won the 2015 Olympic Trials Qualifying Tournament in Memphis, defeating Frank Martin and Richardson Hitchins in back-to-back fights, but failed to make the U.S. team for the Rio Games when he lost a split decision to Gary Antuanne Russell at the Olympic Trials in Reno. Those bouts were contested at 141 pounds.

A 30-year-old bachelor, Nova had his final amateur fights in Lowell, Massachusetts, a pillar of amateur boxing in New England, and has remained in the Boston area without losing his Albany identity. He is trained by ex-U.S. Marine Mark DeLuca, a boxer of some renown who sports a 30-4 record and may not be done with fighting quite yet at age 36.

Nova’s opponent, Andres Cortes, has won five of his last seven inside the distance beginning with a smashing first-round knockout of 34-2 Genesis Servania. On paper, it’s a 50-50 match-up. (The pricemakers are flummoxed; as of this writing, they have yet to establish a betting line.)

Abraham Nova’s mascot may never become as well-known as some of the costumed human mascots in college sports (e.g., West Virginia’s Mountaineer or Michigan State’s Sparty), let alone as beloved as the University of Georgia’s flesh-and-blood bulldog mascot Uga, but give the boxer credit for originality and for bringing a little levity to a sport too often besotted with incivility.

Note: Abraham Nova vs. Andres Cortes is the co-feature. In the main go, new Top Rank signee Rafael Espinoza makes the first defense of his WBO world featherweight title against Mexican countryman Sergio Chirino. Espinoza forged the 2023 TSS Upset of the Year when he got off the deck to defeat Robeisy Ramirez on Dec. 9 in Pembroke Pines, Florida, winning legions of fans with his unrelenting buzzsaw attack. Action from the Fontaineblue begins at 4:00 pm PST on ESPN+.

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A True Tale from the Boxing Vault: When the Champion Refused to Fight

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A True Tale from the Boxing Vault: When the Champion Refused to Fight

BY TSS Special Correspondent David Harazduk — A hundred years ago, ducking a worthy challenger wouldn’t simply stoke the ire of the fans, it came with the prospect of jail time.

On Thursday, November 3, 1927, 16,000 fans packed Wrigley Field in Los Angeles hoping to witness their local favorite challenge for the welterweight world championship. Nicknamed the “Nebraska Wildcat,” Ace Hudkins had relocated to the Pacific Coast where his devil-may-care style in the ring made him instantly popular among Angelino fight fans. He was set to battle Joe Dundee, the champion, an Italian immigrant who had settled in Baltimore at a young age. But there was one problem.

The champion refused to fight.

Members of the California boxing commission, along with promoter Dick Donald, raced to the Biltmore Hotel to plead with Dundee (pictured) and his manager Max Waxman to come to Wrigley Field and fight. Waxman steadfastly refused. Donald, a quick-witted cigar-chomping Irishman known as the “Boy Promoter,” had promised Max’s man the ungodly sum of $60,000, and Dundee wouldn’t enter the ring for a penny less.

Under the rules of the California commission, a fighter could only receive a guarantee of $500. The rest of the purse came from a percentage of the gate: 37.5% for the champion and 12.5% for the challenger. Waxman insisted that Donald had offered $60,000, but the commission couldn’t enforce this side deal.

Tickets in the bleachers were sold at $2.20 a pop while those closer to the ring went for $11. The most the gate could possibly produce would be $90,000. Add in Wrigley Field’s 15% usage fee and payments to the preliminary fighters, officials, and even to rent the chairs situated around the ring, and Dundee’s dreams of $60,000- $75,000 if he lost the title- never had a prayer of being realized. After all, 37.5% of $90,000, plus $500, is only $34,250.

Meanwhile, Eddie Mahoney, a preliminary fighter, entered the ring at 8:30pm. Mahoney was scheduled to fight Joe Dundee’s brother Vince, a future middleweight world champion. When Vince didn’t follow Mahoney into the ring, Mahoney soon left, much to the bewilderment of the crowd.

Donald scrambled to find a plan B. He searched for welterweight contender Sergeant Sammy Baker to replace Dundee and fight Hudkins. When Baker couldn’t be located, Donald asked a preliminary fighter, Olympic gold medalist Jackie Fields, to take on Hudkins instead. Hudkins and Fields had been sparring partners when the featherweight champion of the 1924 Games in Paris was a nascent pro back in 1925. Fields’s manager, Gig Rooney, felt Hudkins was too big for the Olympic champ at this stage of his career and preferred to remain on the undercard against San Francisco’s Joey Silver.

With no plan B, Donald and the commissioners went back to Waxman in a last desperate plea to coax Dundee to defend his title. One commissioner, Charles Traung, offered Waxman an additional $10,000 check for Dundee to fight. Waxman stubbornly held out for more.

At 9:20pm, back at Wrigley, Donald signaled Jackie Fields and Joey Silver to enter the ring. Though Fields was wobbled twice, he opened up a cut over Silver’s left eye and split the San Franciscan’s lip on route to a convincing points victory in a ten-rounder. A few minutes after 10pm, Mahoney and Vince Dundee finally entered the ring for their clash. Dundee starched Mahoney inside of two rounds. When Waxman, who also managed Vince, heard of the second-round stoppage, he said “Vince knocked that guy out, eh? I told him to carry him along.” Waxman had hoped to stall for time.

Soon after the end of the Dundee-Mahoney fight, Ace Hudkins waltzed to the ring. He spent fifteen minutes seated in his corner, covered in a bathrobe and towels to keep him warm. Dundee never showed.

At 11:25pm, ring announcer Frank Kerwin slid into the ring and bellowed, “Owing to the fact that Joe Dundee did not receive his guarantee, he refused to go on with his match against Ace Hudkins.” The crowd was advised to “hold their seat checks and watch the newspapers for other announcements.”

The fans didn’t take too kindly to the announcement and hurled those rented chairs in disgust. Fights broke out all over the stadium, spilling into the ring. All available police officers in the area rushed to Wrigley Field, wielding their nightsticks in a bid to subdue the violent mob. Dozens of fans were injured in the fracas. To add insult to injury, those who had paid $2.20 for their seats in the bleachers were out of luck; they had never received a ticket in the first place.

The next day, Waxman and Joe Dundee checked out of the Biltmore Hotel at noon and made their way to the train station. Later that night, they were pulled off an eastbound train at Pasadena and arrested for false advertising.  Waxman posted a $1,000 bond for each of them.

A warrant was issued for Donald on the same false advertising grounds. He phoned into the police station promising to turn himself in once his feelings of humiliation subsided. The police agreed to wait.

Ultimately, all accused would be acquitted. Waxman would return the $22,249.43 that had been placed in his account and an $11,000 check.

Fans didn’t receive refunds as it was deemed unfair to give them only to those who had bought $11 tickets since the gallery patrons had no ticket stub and thus, couldn’t get a refund anyhow. After the preliminary fighters, Wrigley Field, officials, ushers, and the chair rental company were compensated, the rest of the money was placed into a community fund.

Because he had entered the ring for his title challenge, Ace Hudkins declared himself the new champion, but no commission accepted his claim. Dick Donald’s promotional career, once so promising, abruptly ended. In 1935, he took one last gasp in boxing, serving as matchmaker at the famed Olympic Auditorium for a brief spell.

Joe Dundee would never fight in California again. His championship reign ended dishonorably a year and half later when several commissions agreed to strip him of the title for refusing to fight any top contenders. When Jackie Fields won the vacant title, he and Dundee were matched for the undisputed crown on July 25, 1929. With Dundee a two-to-one underdog, Waxman and Dundee bet $50,000 on Joe to win, with fouls canceling the bet. Fields shellacked Dundee, knocking him down twice. In the second round, after the second knockdown, Dundee knew he was licked. He got up and hit Fields low as hard as he could. Dundee was instantly disqualified, losing any claim to the title as disgracefully as his hold-out against Hudkins.

If only some of the alphabet champions of today had to post bail under the threat of jail for ducking contenders, maybe boxing would be in a better state.

EDITOR’S: Author David Harazduk has run The Jewish Boxing Blog since 2010. You can find him at  Twitter/X @JewishBoxing and Instagram @JewishBoxing

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Results from the MGM Grand where Gervonta Davis Returned with a Bang

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After an absence of 421 days, Gervonta “Tank” Davis returned to the ring at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. In the opposite corner was Detroit-born Frank “The Ghost” Martin who has been training in Dallas under Derrick James. In previous fights, Gervonta, who holds the WBA world lightweight title, has shown a tendency to start slow before closing the show with a highlight-reel knockout. Tonight was no exception.

Martin, 18-0 heading in, fought off his back foot from the get-go, but had good moments and was arguably ahead after five frames. But as the fight moved into the middle rounds, Martin became more stationary and one could sense that the ever-stalking Davis was wearing him down. In Round 8, Davis trapped Martin against a corner post, discombobulated him with a left uppercut and then turned out his lights with a chopping left hand. There was no chance that Martin could rise before referee Harvey Dock completed the “10” count.

Davis (30-0, 28 KOs) celebrated by standing on the top strand of rope and doing a black flip. He has many lucrative options going forward and will be favored to defeat whoever his next opponent will be.

The Davis-Martin fight was the capstone of a four-fight pay-per-view, the second collaboration between Premier Boxing Champions and Amazon Prime Video.

Benavidez-Gvozdyk

In his first fight as a light heavyweight, David Benavidez scored a 12-round unanimous decision over former lineal light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk.

Benavidez, who improved to 20-0 (24), worked the body well and kept up the pressure in the early-going, building a substantial lead. His work output declined over the last third of the fight, but his punches still carried more steam than those of Gvozdyk, 37, who suffered his second loss in 22 pro fights, the other inflicted by the indomitable Artur Beterbiev, prompting the SoCal-based Ukrainian to take a long hiatus from the ring. The judges had it 119-109, 117-111, and 116-112.

Puello-Russell

In a major upset, Alberto Puello of the Dominican Republic saddled Gary Antuanne Russell with his first pro loss, winning a split decision. Puello appeared to have the edge in a furious final round, without which the bout would have ended in a draw. Puello, who improved to 23-0 (10), had to overcome a dubious call by referee Allan Huggins who took a point away from the Dominican in Round 7 for too much holding.

Russell, who was making his first start against a southpaw, is now trained by his brother Gary Russell Jr., the former featherweight champion, who replaced their late father. Russell Jr last fought in January of 2022.

Heading in, Gary Antuanne Russell had won all 17 of his pro fights by knockout. One of the judges thought he won handily. But his tally, 118-109 for Russell, was overruled by the115-112 and 114-113 scores awarded the underdog. Puello, who briefly held the WBA diadem at 140 but had it stripped from him when he tested positive for PEDs, won an interim belt in that weight class with his upset tonight.

Adames-Gausha

In the PPV opener, Alberto Puello’s countryman Carlos Adames successfully defended his WBC middleweight title in his first world title fight with a one-sided decision over former U.S. Olympian Terrell Gausha. Adames, whose late father reportedly sired 35 children, was the aggressor and landed many more punches. He advanced his record to 24-1 (19). It was the fourth loss in 29 pro starts for the 36-year-old Gausha. The judges had it 119-109 and 118-110 twice.

Adames’ triumph made it 2-0 for the Dominicans and their trainer Ismael Salas.

Other Bouts of Note

In a huge upset, Delaware’s Kyrone Davis overcame Arizona’s previously undefeated and highly-touted Elijah Garcia, winning a split decision. A 21-year-old father of two, Garcia, 16-0 heading in, was rated #1 by the WBA and seemingly one step removed from challenging Erislandy Lara for the WBA middleweight title. But Davis, trained by Stephen “Breadman” Edwards, had a solid game plan and although Elijah came on strong in the homestretch, it was too little, too late.

One of the judges favored Garcia 98-92, but his cohorts each gave seven rounds to Davis (19-3-1, 6 KOs) and the decision was fair.

Filipino junior lightweight Mark Magsayo, in his second fight back since losing back-to-back fights with featherweight belt-holders Rey Vargas and Brandon Figueroa, advanced to 26-2 (17) with a 10-round unanimous decision over Mexico City’s Eduardo Ramirez (28-4-3). Magsayo scored a knockdown in the third round with a straight right hand and won by scores of 99-90 and 97-92 twice.

Photos credit: Al Applerose

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