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Arturo Gatti’s Greatness Is In Eye of the Beholder

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Unlike mathematics, where equations simple and complex can have only one correct answer, other subjects are open to individual interpretation. And one of the areas most open to personal perspective is sports.

Can we all agree that Pete Rose wasn’t the most naturally gifted baseball player ever to pick up a bat or field his position? But “Charley Hustle” approached each game as if it were a life-and-death situation, and that laser-beam intensity enabled him to almost will his way to the highest hit total in major league history.

Basketball’s Moses Malone? A Hall of Famer, to be sure, but hardly anyone speaks of him with the same hushed reverence reserved for fellow centers Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or even free-throw-clanking Shaquille O’Neal. But the 6-10 Moses might have been the premier offensive rebounder ever, small hands and all, because he fought to corral each missed shot in his team’s scoring zone as if he were a hungry wolf going after a T-bone steak. He won a ton of those battles, often against bigger, more athletic opponents, because he wanted to win them more.

The definition of “greatness” is a nebulous thing, as Civil War Gen. Lew Wallace noted when he wrote that “Beauty is altogether in the eye of the beholder.” It is a sentiment expressed, in one form or another, over the centuries by deep thinkers ranging from Confucius to William Shakespeare to John Keats to Ralph Waldo Emerson to H.G. Wells to Aldous Huxley.

And so it is for fight fans who gaze upon the scarred, blood-splattered legacy of the late Arturo “Thunder” Gatti, whose posthumous induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday in Canastota, N.Y., has stirred a level of controversy unlike any since 2002, when Sweden’s Ingemar Johansson was enshrined amid charges that the former heavyweight champion did not have a sufficiently impressive resume to take his place among true immortals of the ring.

Oh, sure, Gatti was a fearless warrior who routinely fought through pain and adversity as few boxers ever have. He was a threat until the final bell of every fight, no matter how far down on the scorecards he was at any given moment, and his epic battles with Micky Ward (three times), Ivan Robinson (twice), Wilson Rodriguez, Gabriel Ruelas and Angel Manfredy generated enough electricity to keep the lights burning for a lifetime in any frequent spectator’s memory. Gatti was a participant in The Ring Fight of the Year four times (1998, 1999, 2002 and 2003), a remarkable achievement viewed from any angle.

“You can’t give any fighter higher accolades than to say he always gave fans more than their money’s worth,” said J Russell Peltz, who held a 50 percent promotional share of Gatti (the other half belonged to Main Events) for much of the Italian-born, Montreal-raised, New Jersey-based fighter’s career. “You knew you were always going to get great action every time Gatti stepped inside those ropes.

“I’ve heard all the arguments (against Gatti’s induction). `He never beat a fighter he wasn’t supposed to beat.’ Well, what does that mean? Look, it’s not the Hall of Greatness. It’s the Hall of Fame. Gatti carried East Coast boxing on his back for years. Without him, what would we have had in Atlantic City? We would have had nothing.

“Was Rocky Graziano a great fighter? No, he wasn’t. But he was good for boxing. He meant something to the sport, and do did Gatti. I mean, come on. The people who don’t think Gatti should be in there are jealous. They’re haters, and there’s a lot of haters around.”

By Peltz’s definition, Anthony Coleman qualifies as a “hater” because Coleman is firm in his opinion that Gatti does not pass the sniff test for having a plaque hung on the hallowed walls of the IBHOF. Writing in East Side Boxing prior to the announcement of those making the cut for inclusion in the Class of 2013, Coleman opined that Gatti’s selection “wouldn’t be as odious” as that of Johansson, but “I honestly feel that Gatti shouldn’t be inducted into the Hall of Fame over far more deserving candidates … Maybe all of this controversy would be solved if we created two Halls – one to honor the truly great boxers and the other to honor the fighters we give a damn about.”

There is some merit to both sides of the argument, but one thing seems obvious. Even though Gatti has taken his eternal 10-count – he was only 37 when he died under mysterious circumstances in his wife’s home country of Brazil on July 11, 2009, with Brazilian authorities ruling his death by hanging a suicide after initially charging Amanda Rodrigues Gatti with murder – he nonetheless figures to have the largest, loudest cheering section among the thousands in attendance. The other inductees – “moderns” Virgil Hill and Myung Woo Yuh, old-timers Jeff Smith and Wesley Ramey, pioneer Joe Coburn non-participants Mills Lane, Jimmy Lennon Jr. and Arturo “Cuyo” Hernandez and observers Colin Hart and Ted Carroll – might well have a lower controversy quotient, but then none of those names stir fight fans’ emotions to the same crazy-high degree.

After Gatti thrilled still another sellout crowd in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall with still another blood-and-guts victory, a 12-round unanimous decision over Italy’s Gianluca Branco for the vacant WBC super lightweight title on Jan 24, 2004, Carl Moretti, then a Main Events vice president, smiled and said, “His right hand hurts again, his left eye’s swollen, we had a packed house. It must be an Arturo Gatti fight.”

Gatti himself often acknowledged that his stand-and-trade style not only catered to his pugilistic strengths, but to his thirst for meeting opponents head-on. Whoever walks away from the smashup wins. Boxing strategies don’t come much simpler than that, or more crowd-pleasing.

“That’s who I am, that’s how I fight,” Gatti said before he grudgingly relinquished his IBF junior lightweight title on an eighth-round stoppage against Angel Manfredy on Jan. 17, 1998. “Fighting the way I do is what made me a world champion. Maybe I could fight a little more cautiously, but that wouldn’t be me. I’ve come to accept that.”

What Gatti could not accept in the Manfredy bout was being prevented from fighting on, despite the cascade of blood flowing down his swollen face from the gaping gash that was opened over his left eye in the first round. The cut got progressively worse until ring physician Dominic Coletta felt he had no choice but to halt the carnage on medical grounds. “He basically was fighting with one eye,” Coletta said of the half-blinded Gatti.

Gatti, of course, was vehement in his contention that he had Manfredy – who was leading by two and three points, respectively, on two of the official scorecards, with the third even – right where he wanted him.

“(The cut) was the only reason he won the fight,” Gatti complained. “I would have knocked him out in the later rounds.”

Even Manfredy had to marvel at Gatti’s ability to soak up punishment like a sponge when a more prudent action might have been for him to fight more defensively in an effort to protect the eye.

“Once he gets hit, he always goes berserk and tries to trade,” Manfredy said. “Everybody gets to Gatti because he’s easy to hit. He took a beating from Wilson Rodriguez. He took a beating from Calvin Grove. He took a beating from Gabriel Ruelas. But he hung in and won those fights. You have to give him credit for that.”

The suits at HBO, who made it a common practice to exercise contractual “out” clauses with fighters if they lost fights televised by the pay-cable giant, thus reducing their marketability, never seemed to hold it against Gatti when he came up short. Even after he was outpointed in his next two fights following the bloodbath with Manfredy, typical barnburners against Ivan Robinson, HBO stuck with him because a few defeats did nothing to damage his burgeoning popularity. A Gatti fight, win or lose, was assured of producing high ratings and maximum drama.

“Arturo Gatti is not a human being,” Lou DiBella, then a senior vice president with HBO Sports, said after the second of his two slugfests with Robinson. “He is a Bizarro.”

But even Superman was powerless when exposed to kryptonite, and the Bizarro that was Gatti was revealed to be merely mortal against a pair of future Hall of Famers who clearly were way out of his class. Oscar De La Hoya had his way with him en route to winning via fifth-round TKO on March 24, 2001, in Las Vegas, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. had an even easier time cruising to a dominating, sixth-round stoppage on June 25, 2005, in Boardwalk Hall. After that mismatch, Mayweather haughtily dismissed Gatti as nothing more than a “C-plus fighter.”

It was Gatti’s failure to be even somewhat competitive with De La Hoya and Mayweather that his critics claim counts for more than all of Gatti’s bop-’til-you-drop successes against tough but second-tier opponents. Yes, the Gatti-Ward trilogy was mesmerizing, but it wasn’t Ali-Frazier. Although the courage and resilience displayed by Gatti and Ward was similar, they lacked that stamp of greatness that made Ali and Smokin’ Joe so very special.

A dispassionate examination of Gatti’s record lends some credence to the suggestion that he might not be as Hall of Fame-worthy as some. Despite his unquestioned status as a legend in Atlantic City, where he fought 23 times, his record there was a relatively pedestrian 17-6, with 12 knockout victories and four losses inside the distance. He couldn’t mount much of an attack in losing his last two fights in Boardwalk Hall, falling in nine rounds to Carlos Baldomir and in seven to Alfonso Gomez. After the beatdown by Gomez, even Gatti had to acknowledge that he had given all he had and there was nothing left in the tank.

“Hasta la vista, baby,” he said in delivering his farewell address through puffy lips. “I did my best. I came in thinking I could outbox him, but the ring kept getting smaller and smaller. I can’t keep taking this abuse no more.”

But Gatti – who finished with a 40-9 record with 31 KOs, 21 of those outings televised by HBO – is a fighter who can’t be judged solely by statistics. Like former WBC light heavyweight champion Matthew Saad Muhammad, who also made a habit of teetering along the edge of disaster in fights not meant to be seen by the weak of heart, Gatti’s ring appearances always elicited the sort of visceral reactions that defied conventional analysis. His many fans loved him because he went to hell and back in a gasoline overcoat and was unafraid to spit in the eye of the devil himself.

“I have to admit that Saad Muhammad beat better-quality fighters,” said Peltz of the Philadelphian whose 1998 IBHOF induction drew few yelps of outrage. “He beat Marvin Johnson twice. Johnson is probably a better name on Saad’s resume than anybody Gatti beat. Saad also beat Yaqui Lopez twice. He beat John Conteh. The greatest fight I ever saw is still Saad’s first fight with Marvin Johnson.

“But Gatti and Saad were the same kind of fighter. They’d be getting beat to a pulp, then all of a sudden they’d come back and score a knockout.”

Saad Muhammad, maybe more than anybody, can relate to who Arturo Gatti was and what he was all about.

“It’s a man thing, beating hell out of somebody and him beating hell out of you, then hugging each other at the end,” Saad said prior to his IBHOF induction. “Being in that ring, you learn respect. You learn to give it, and to get it.”

 

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 281: The Devin and Ryan Show

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Over the years bouts between old foes such as Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia tend to be surprising.

Yes, both are only 25 but have known each other for many years.

When undisputed super lightweight champion Haney (31-0, 15 KOs) steps into the prize ring at Barclays Center to meet challenger Garcia (24-1, 20 KOs) on Saturday, April 20, fans will be witnessing the continuation of a feud that began more than a decade ago.

And though the champion is a heavy favorite, familiarity is Garcia’s best weapon heading into their fight on the Golden Boy Promotions card that will be shown on PPV.COM with Jim Lampley and friends. DAZN pay-per-view is also streaming the card.

In many ways Haney and Garcia have ventured down the same path. From amateur sensations to fighting in Mexico while teens to asking for the biggest challenges available.

“Whichever version of Ryan shows up on April 20, I will be ready for him. Ryan Garcia is just another opponent to me,” said Haney who holds the WBC super lightweight title after his win over Regis Prograis.

The first time I saw Haney as a pro he battled the dangerous Mexican contender Juan Carlos Burgos at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula. It was an impressive performance against a fighter who fought three times for a world title.

Haney was 19 at the time.

My first look at Garcia as a pro was in his first bout in the U.S. when he met Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Cruz at the Exchange in downtown Los Angeles. The Boricua looked at Garcia and tried intimidating him with stares, taunts and the usual patter. During the fight both swung and missed until the second round when Garcia zeroed in and took him out.

Garcia had just turned 18, the legal age to fight in California.

Both fighters did not have the Olympics credentials that lead to fame. But their talent has allowed them to fight through the dense smoke that is professional boxing.

Haney has defeated numerous world champions such as Prograis, Vasyl Lomachenko and George Kambosos Jr., while Garcia has stopped champions Javier Fortuna and Luke Campbell.

As amateurs, Garcia and Haney battled six times with each winning three.

“They know each other very well,” said Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions. “Ryan is going to beat Devin Haney.”

Haney has a buttery-smooth style with one of the best jabs in boxing. He’s very adept at keeping distance and not allowing anyone to fight him inside. His reflexes are outstanding, yet he seldom fights inside. That’s his weakness.

Garcia fights tall and has superb hand speed and a lightning quick left hook. Though his defense lacks tightness his ability to rip off three-punch combinations in a blink of an eye pauses opponents from bullying their way inside.

“These guys always just look at me and look at me like I don’t know how to box,” said Garcia on social media. “Why was I one of the best fighters in the amateurs. Why was I a 15-time National champion…why did I beat everyone I came across.”

Haney is a strong favorite by oddsmakers to defeat Garcia. But you can never tell when it comes to fighters that know each other well and are athletically gifted.

When Sergio Mora challenged Vernon Forrest he was a big underdog. When Tim Bradley fought Manny Pacquiao the first time, he was also the underdog. And when Andy Ruiz met Anthony Joshua few gave him a chance.

Haney and Garcia have history in the ring. It should be an interesting battle.

PPV.COM

Jim Lampley will be leading the broadcast on PPV.COM for the Haney-Garcia card at Barclays and texting with fans on the card live. He will be accompanied by journalists Lance Pugmire, Dan Conobbio and former champion Chris Algieri.

The PPV.COM broadcast begins at 5 p.m. PT. and is available in Canada and the USA.

Other News

MMA stars Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal will be holding a media day event on Friday, April 19, at NOVO at L.A. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Diaz and Masvidal will be boxing against each other in a grudge match on June 1 at the KIA Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The two MMA stars met five years at UFC 244 with Masvidal winning by TKO over Diaz due to cuts.

This is a grudge match, but under boxing rules.

Fight card in Commerce, Calif.

360 Promotions returns to Commerce Casino on Saturday April 20 with undefeated super lightweight Cain Sandoval leading the charge.

Sandoval (12-0) faces Angel Rebollar (8-3) in the main event that will be shown live on UFC Fight Pass. Also on the card are two female events including hot prospect Lupe Medina (5-0) versus Sabrina Persona (3-1) in a minimumweight clash.

Doors open at 4 p.m.

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

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

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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