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

David A. Avila

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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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There Was a Smorgasbord of Tasty Delights in Dueling TV Fight Cards

Bernard Fernandez

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Technology has not advanced to the point where someone can actually be in two places at the same time, but until that happens, the next best thing is the wonderful consolation prize of being able to watch one fight card live on television while recording the other for delayed perusal.

Maybe there can be too much of a good thing sometimes. If I were in a position where I had to make a choice to physically be in attendance at one site or another on Saturday night, it would have been difficult choosing between being there to witness Philadelphia’s emerging welterweight sensation, Jaron “Boots” Ennis, put on another spectacular show in dispatching former junior welter world champion Sergey Lipinets in the Showtime-televised main event in Uncasville, Conn., or another gritty performance by blue-collar, working-class hero Joe Smith Jr. as he finally won a world light heavyweight title with a hard-fought, typically inelegant and somewhat controversial majority decision over Russia’s Maxim Vlasov in the ESPN/ESPN+ card-topper at the Osage Casino in Tulsa, Okla.

In and of themselves, the two featured bouts, so different in execution and outcome but each compelling in their own way, would have satisfied most fight fans. But like a buffet line where diners can snack on tasty hors d’oeuvres –type fare before loading their plates with a preferred entrée item, each card offered additional value by way of televised undercard bouts.

The most dominant performance, and the one of highest potential value moving forward? That would be still another star-making turn by the 23-year-old Ennis (27-0, 25 KOs), who did pretty much whatever he wanted in becoming the first fighter to knock out Lipinets (16-2-1, 12 KOs), the 32-year-old former IBF junior welterweight titlist who had gone the distance with Mikey Garcia and had never been decked as a professional until he went down twice against Boots, who looks like he has the goods to soon take his place in the pantheon of outstanding fighters to represent the city of his birth.

OK, so the first ruled knockdown by referee Arthur Mercante Jr., which came in the fourth round, likely was an error of judgment as replays showed that Lipinets actually tripped on Ennis’ foot. But there was no mistaking what happened in the sixth round, when Ennis, who had been casually teeing off on the stocky Russian as if he were just another heavy bag to be pounded on in the gym, caught Lipinets with a right hook followed by a left uppercut. Lipinets went down flat onto his back, and Mercante immediately waved the massacre off, dispensing with the formality of initiating a count.

The ending meant that Ennis still had not been extended beyond the sixth round as a pro, but this relatively swift termination of a bout whose outcome seemed predetermined from the outset was more significant given Lipinets’ reputation as a tough, durable former champ who had never been so outclassed in matchups with other top-shelf performers. If Ennis hadn’t already stamped himself as a force to be reckoned with in the 147-pound weight class, his domination of Lipinets sent that message out loud and clear.

“Another special fighter from Philadelphia. Imagine that,” said Showtime blow-by-blow announcer Mauro Ranallo.

“More Boots Ennis,” studio host Brian Custer said when asked what he wanted next. “This kid is spectacular. Say his name. Jaron `Boots’ Ennis is going to be a problem in the welterweight division.”

What wasn’t there to like? Ennis has a smorgasbord of ring skills that would be difficult for even other elite 147-pounders to solve. He switches from orthodox to southpaw as fluidly and effectively as does arguably the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Terence “Bud” Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs), the WBO welterweight ruler. He occasionally employed the shoulder roll that was a staple of the great Floyd Mayweather Jr., and his penchant for finishing off his man when he has him in trouble pretty much is beyond dispute at this stage of a career whose best days might yet come.

According to CompuBox statistics, Ennis landed a ridiculously high percentage of his power shots (91 of 172, 52.9%), going to the body frequently as part of a well-thought-out strategy crafted by his father-trainer, Derrick “Bozy” Ennis. His next fight may well be against the formidable Yordenis Ugas (26-4, 12 KOs), a Miami-based Cuban, but by now it doesn’t seem much of a stretch to imagine him giving the welterweight division’s crème de la crème, Crawford and WBC/IBF titlist Errol Spence Jr. (27-0, 21 KOs) all they could handle. Perhaps Ennis would benefit from a bit more seasoning against higher-tier opponents, but if his time isn’t exactly right now, that time is fast approaching.

“I was just in there, having fun, doing me,” Ennis said of his unhurried but quite thorough thrashing of Lipinets. “You know, being real relaxed and putting on a show … I just coasted, I took my time and I broke him down.”

Joe Smith Jr. MD12 Maxim Vlasov

The backstory of Joe Smith Jr. – a card-carrying member of Local 66 from Long Island, N.Y., who spends his days pouring concrete, digging trenches, laying sheetrock, power-washing septic tanks and knocking down walls with a sledgehammer, and his nights training as a light heavyweight contender with a dream of making it all the way to a world title – always have been a bit more intriguing than what his limited skill-set has been able to produce inside the ropes.

This 31-year-old Everyman with a most common name is tough, determined and a dangerous puncher, but all that will carry him only so far now that he finally has that bejeweled belt (as winner of the vacant WBO 175-pound championship) he so long has coveted, by virtue of his hardly clear-cut majority decision over the unorthodox Russian Maxim Vlasov. Seemingly behind through 10 rounds, a bloodied and perhaps desperate Smith reached deep inside himself to win the last two rounds, drawing even on my unofficial, watching-at-home scorecard at six rounds apiece. He fared better with the judges in Tulsa, however, with David Sutherland joining me in seeing the fight as a 114-114 standoff, a determination overruled by the cards submitted by Gerald Ritter (115-112) and Pat Russell (115-113).

Presumably next up for Smith is a unification showdown with WBC/IBF ruler Artur Beterbiev (16-0, 16 KOs), the Canada-based Russian who is an even bigger puncher than Smith and is widely regarded as the best light heavyweight on the planet. Such a bout likely would mean a career-high payday for the newly wed Smith, but just as likely the end of his brief reign as an alphabet titlist.

“I want other belts,” Smith, who fought from the first round on with a worrisome cut above his left eye. “I want the big fights out there. I believe I’m going to start unifying belts.”

Finally the favorite – Smith (27-3, 21 KOs) had made his reputation on his inside-the-distance upsets of Andrzej Fonfara and nearly 52-year-old Bernard Hopkins – the easy-to-like Everyman’s coronation proved to be no easy task as Vlasov (45-4, 26 KOs) confused him in the early going with an unorthodox style that had him delivering punches from odd angles.

But Smith is difficult to discourage, and he kept pressing his attack in the hope he could find an opening to deliver the kind of put-away shot that had vanquished Fonfara and B-Hop. He got in some wicked licks, too, several times hurting Vlasov, who bled from the mouth from the seventh round on.

The 11th round was perhaps pivotal, as Vlasov went down, clearly from a punch. But referee Gary Ritter ruled that the delivered blow was an illegal rabbit punch, and he waved off the knockdown and gave Vlasov additional time to recover.

“I believe that round where I hurt him, he stuck his head down (and into the disputed punch),” Smith said. “I should have got the knockdown on that. I think I would have got the stoppage that round, but he pulled it off and made it out on his feet.”

It also could have been that, not getting credit for the knockdown, which conceivably might have opened the door to a knockout or a TKO, made Smith – who originally was to have fought Vlasov on Feb. 13, a date postponed when the Russian tested positive for COVID-19 – fight even harder the rest of the way. CompuBox listed him as landing a career-high 174 power shots, 68 coming in the last two rounds that he so clearly needed.

Whatever viewers might have thought of the decision, Smith-Vlasov was entertaining and competitive.

Efe Ajagba KO3 Brian Howard

Ajagba, a 26-year-old Nigerian, delivered one of the most emphatic one-punch knockouts of the year when he landed a jolting overhand right to the left ear of Howard, who went down in a heap, unconscious, his legs twisted beneath him. Referee Tony Crebs signaled the end of the fight immediately.

It was the second fight for the 6’6” Ajagba, who signed with Top Rank in August 2020, with his new support team of manager James Prince and trainer Kay Koroma. Whether he has bettered his circumstances for those changes (he previously was with Richard Schaefer’s Ringstar Sports, and worked with manager Shelly Finkel and trainer Ronnie Shields) is a matter of conjecture, but the promise – and punching power — he had exhibited beforehand seems to have remained intact.

“It’s my time to shine,” Ajagba said. “I’m coming for the heavyweights to become heavyweight champion of the world.”

He could get his shot, and maybe more quickly now that he is with Top Rank, which promotes the WBC titlist, Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs), with a full unification matchup with WBA/IBF/WBO champ Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) close to being finalized.

Nigeria has a history for producing good fighters, the most renowned being the late former middleweight and light heavyweight champion, Dick Tiger, an enshrinee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. The best Nigerian heavyweight likely was Ike Ibeabuchi, who might have been good enough to win a world title had it not been for mental and legal issues that landed him in prison. It remains to be seen if Ajagba can match or surpass Ibeabuchi, but he would appear to have a reasonable chance of doing so in comparison to Samuel Peter, Henry Akinwande, David Izonritei and Duncan Dokiwari.

“Efe Ajagba is one of the most gifted young heavyweights I’ve seen in quite some time,” Arum said when he signed him. “He has immense physical tools and a great work ethic. I have the utmost confidence that we’re looking at a future heavyweight champion.”

The two televised lead-ins to Ennis-Lipinets were IBF junior bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas’ unanimous decision over Jonathan Rodriguez and rising welterweight Eimantas Stanionis’ UD12 over former world title challenger Thomas Dulorme.

Jerwin Ancajas UD12 Jonathan Rodriguez

Ancajas (33-1-2, 22 KOs), who years ago drew the attention of fellow Filipino Manny Pacquiao, retained his title for the ninth time against mandatory challenger Rodriguez (22-2, 16 KOs) of Mexico, who was decked for the first time in his pro career in round eight.

Eimantas Stanionis UD 12 Thomas Dulorme

Stanionis (13-0, 9 KOs), from Lithuania, could eventually become a factor in the loaded welterweight division. He certainly didn’t do himself any harm with his win over tough Puerto Rican Dulorme (25-5-1, 16 KOs).

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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The Hauser Report: Notes and Nuggets

Thomas Hauser

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On Saturday, April 10, Ebanie Bridges fought Shannon Courtenay for the vacant WBA world bantamweight championship. The fact that Courtenay-Bridges was a “world championship” fight is an embarrassment.

John Sheppard (who oversees BoxRec.com) reports that one out of every seven women’s fights is for a sanctioning body belt, with “world” championships near the top of the pyramid. Indeed, Sheppard notes that boxing’s world sanctioning bodies have created more women’s “championship” belts than there are active women boxers.

Bridges entered her “world championship” fight with a 5-0 (2 KOs) ring record. But the caliber of her opponents was appalling. Taken in order, they were:

*         Mahiecka Pareno, whose two career wins came against a woman named Jean De Paz (who has never won a fight)

*         Laura Woods, whose only pro fight was against Bridges

*         Kanittha Ninthim, who has lost twelve of thirteen fights

*         Crystol Hoy, who has won one of eleven fights since 2010.

*         Carol Earl, age 45, whose only career victories came against fighters with a composite ring record of 0-16.

So how did Bridges quality for a “world championship” fight? Well, Bridges is – shall we say – voluptuous with long blonde hair and given to wearing bikinis. As Boxing Scene recently reported, “There is more footage and photos found online of Bridges in bikinis than there are of her actual fights.”

One might find further elucidation in statements that Bridges made recently to various outlets:

*         “There’s plenty of girls with more fights than me. The difference? It’s the way I look. Let’s be real. If I wore what everyone else wore, people wouldn’t be interested. You can criticize me as much as you like. But if I looked plain, then you wouldn’t even know this fight was happening. People will tune in to see if this girl wearing lingerie can actually fight or is she just a model? This is an entertainment business. Everyone wears underwear at weigh-ins. Do you want me to wear a paper bag?”

*         “It doesn’t matter what society thinks what you should be doing. If you want to do it, you just f****** do it. I want to stay strong with it. I won’t hide the fact that I’m beautiful. What the f***! I’m going to go over there and going to flex in my lingerie. I’m going to be who I am.”

*         “Hey for people who judge me on first sight, open your mind a little bit and maybe you can see that this girl is pretty f****** real even though she has fake tits.”

Prior to fighting Bridges, Courtenay had compiled a 6-1 (3 KOs) record against mediocre opposition. Shannon isn’t close to being a world-class fighter. But during the pre-fight promotion, she indicated that she took her trade seriously, saying, “I look at people like Katie Taylor that has done everything she could to raise the bar to allow women like me to fight for a living. And I don’t like it being disrespected by not talking about the boxing, talking about what someone’s gonna wear at a weigh-in. People like Katie Taylor didn’t work her backside off to pave the way for women like me and you to be in this position to talk about underwear.”

The fight itself was a pleasant surprise. Bridges was the physically stronger of the two women and the aggressor for most of the bout. Courtenay landed the cleaner punches but didn’t hit hard enough to keep Ebanie off her. A clash of heads in round two bloodied the scalp of each combatant.

Neither woman had a credible defense. A right hand wobbled Bridges in round five and began the process of closing her left eye. By round nine, the skin around it was a bulging purple mess and the eye was completely shut. At that point Ebanie couldn’t see right hands coming, but Shannon lacked the power to put her away. It was a good, honest, low-level club fight.

The judges ruled unanimously for Courtenay by a 98-92, 98-92, 97-94 margin. She deserved the nod but not by that much.

Ebanie Bridges has the right to present herself to the public the way she wants to. But for the WBA to sanction Courtenay-Bridges as a “world championship” fight shows how absurd WBA “world championships” can be and why today’s better women boxers don’t get the respect they deserve.

*     *     *

And now for boxing purists . . .

I correspond regularly by email with a reader named John. Most of our exchanges are about boxing. Some go beyond the sweet science. Among the thoughts he has expressed that are worth sharing are:

*         “No real fighter takes pride in losing with everyone watching. When did that become an act of courage, to make money on losing? That is not a fighter’s mentality. Never has been. That is an entertainer’s mentality, an actor’s job. Sometimes I get so angry to see people who have the chance of a lifetime do just that. If you want to let people use you, go ahead. But then you are no longer a fighter.”

*         “The loss of Hagler so suddenly really has affected people. His reach was deep into the boxing world. He carried himself as a Champion. Many people who are very critical of what boxing has become still look to Hagler as an example of what boxing is. Or should I say was? When did it all become a circus atmosphere in the ring? All this talking that means nothing. All the noise that drowns out the quiet truth of a fighter, men who walk into the ring and do what few men are gifted to do. We had something special. I hope we do not lose sight of that. It takes a lot to get my attention. But the loss of Hagler has stayed with me.”

*         “Things used to start with the idea of building something up in the boxing ring based on certain principles. I give you an honest display of good boxing, and you pull your money out and say you appreciate it.  Now everyone is so wrapped up in getting money. Every step of the way, every person has got to stick their hand in the pocket of the fight fan. It sickens me.”

*         “I do not expect everyone to know from experience what it is like to suffer from hunger. It is not a pleasant thing. Most people think being hungry is having lunch a few hours late. There are people who have grown up and gone to bed hungry many a night. And either you are one of them or you are not.”

Photo credit: Dave Thompson / MATCHROOM

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – Staredown: Another Year Inside Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. In 2019, Hauser was selected for boxing’s highest honor – induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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Jaron Ennis KOs Sergey Lipinets and Other Results from the Mohegan Sun

David A. Avila

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Jaron Ennis KOs Sergey Lipinets and Other Results from the Mohegan Sun

Philly is on the up. Again.

Jaron “Boots” Ennis kicked his stature into another gear with an impressive knockout of former world champion Sergey Lipinets on Saturday.

“It’s on the up now for bigger and better fights,” said Ennis.

Those Philly fighters know how to do it.

Before a small audience Philadelphia’s Ennis (27-0, 25 KOs) showed that he’s ready for the elite level class by dominating the always tough Lipinets (16-2-1, 12 KOs) at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn.

Is there any other American welter looking for action?

Ennis walked into the arena with all of the physical advantages, but experience can be a tricky matter in the fight game. Lipinets was ready to provide the lesson.

For the first two rounds Ennis used his superior reach, height and speed to keep the former super lightweight world titlist from entering his domain. The Philly fighter wacked at the Russian fighter’s body and head while taking minimal return fire.

Lipinets finally found his way inside and both fighters traded big blows. A wicked right uppercut by Ennis connected and Lipinets bounced a right cross on the Philly fighter. Both absorbed the big blows with little effect.

Still, Ennis was winning all of the rounds and Lipinets realized that maintaining the status quo was not doing him any good. He increased his attack and slipped on Ennis foot and went down. It was incorrectly ruled a knockdown by the referee but it was the least of the Russian fighter’s problems.

Both fighters attacked the body but Lipinets shot one far below the belt and the fight was stopped for a moment. Lipinets was warned. Both went into attack inside and it seemed to be Lipinets best round. He seemed to find his way back into a groove.

“I saw he wasn’t as skilled on the inside as I was so that’s when I started getting a little closer,” Ennis said.

Ennis may have realized that Lipinets had a good round and he wasn’t about to allow another. As the two fighters re-engaged in their war inside, Ennis connected with a right hook to the chin and a left uppercut finished the job. Down went Lipinets and referee Arthur Mercante waved off the fight at 2:11 of the sixth round without a count.

“We worked on a lot of power shots and a lot of speed. That’s what we did,” said Ennis. “Everything is all natural.”

The impressive knockout of Lipinets proved that Ennis has more than enough ability to hang with the best welterweights around.

“Maybe one of the guys will want to fight me. Who knows?”, said Ennis.

Other Bouts

IBF super flyweight titlist Jerwin Ancajas (33-1-2, 22 KOs) floored Mexico’s Jonathan Rodriquez (22-2, 16 KOs) and hammered out a win by unanimous decision. But it wasn’t an easy fight. It never is when you put the Philippines versus Mexico.

Ancajas needed the win to keep his name handy for a possible match in the now heated super flyweight division that features Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman Gonzalez, and Carlos Cuadras.

A battle between welterweight contenders saw Eimantis Stanionis (13-0) power his way to a unanimous decision win after 12 rounds versus Thomas Dulorme (25-5-1).

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

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