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Zimmerman, Boxing, and Civic Duty

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                                                       New thoughts on old values for the Home of the Brave

No winner can rightfully be declared after The State of Florida v. George Zimmerman. It was a tragedy that became a fiasco after it was hijacked by an irresponsible media that longs to see a house divided.

The New York Times set the tone. It shrugged off the killer’s Peruvian identity and called him a “white Hispanic” and so reduced the fourth estate to a schoolyard instigator. The President—  who won’t be referred to as a “white African American” though his mother was as white as Zimmerman’s father— has been intimately involved. As a matter of law, it is settled: Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin in an act the jury determined was self-defense. But it isn’t over. The victim was brought up in the New York mayoral race just yesterday, outrage floods the internet, and protests continue in urban communities, including Chicago, where the reverends are wondering where the spotlight is when it comes to harsher realities like black-on-black murder.

At the center of it all is a quiet grave in Dade Memorial Park and a forgotten truth: A young man is dead and America is poorer for it.

Martin was one of our own. A child of divorce, a good to middling student who wanted to work in aviation as a pilot or mechanic, a recreational drug user, and a cell phone addict. He was also a six-foot, one-inch seventeen-year-old who liked to fight.

Zimmerman, and every other “Zimmerman” in the new America, would do well to learn how to fight.

DEADLY FORCE
According to the U.S. Justice Department, murders committed with a gun dropped 39% over the past twenty years. Other crimes committed with a gun dropped 69% during the same period. Possible explanations include lower birth rates, a combination of pro-active policing and long-term incarceration of chronic violent offenders, more social programs and government assistance, and the so-called “graying of America” (violent crime, like boxing, is a young man’s activity).

Few experts attribute the decline to private gun ownership, which has doubled since 1968. The U.S. leads the world in guns per capita, according to a survey conducted by a Swiss research group. It’s no contest; our rate is three times Canada’s and six times Mexico’s. In real numbers, there are over 310 million legally-owned guns across the land of the free, and sales are up.

That’s a problem.

The U.S. remains one of the most violent industrialized nations on the planet. And make no mistake; our natural propensities are made that much worse because our guns are within reach. The National Rifle Association disputes this and stands on the assertion that gun ownership is the mark of a patriot. It spotlights examples of self-defense with a licensed gun as much as the mainstream media buries them. The NRA’s lnstitute for Legislative Action invites supporters to contribute stories about the heroics of the “Armed Citizen” protecting person and property. Thus far this summer, there have been eleven entries.

But the facts shoot back. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that “less than 1% of non-fatal violent crime victims reported using a gun to defend themselves.” Meanwhile, the likelihood of suicide, lethal domestic violence, and accidental deaths increase dramatically when a gun is in the house. Homicide and “unintentional gun fatality” rates are off the charts, and they are especially bad in areas with more privately-owned guns and less gun control.

We have an image problem. An enduring one is that of the square-jawed American carrying a musket with one foot on a rock. It hearkens back to the Revolutionary War, when British soldiers invaded these shores and the call went out to every able-bodied colonist for the defense of hearth and home.

The second amendment is a tribute to that image.

What happened on the night of February 26th 2012 in Sanford, Florida is not.

BOXING: A CIVIC DUTY?
Able-bodied citizens in a first-world country should not need to carry a firearm to feel safe.

Self-defense is an absolute right, but overkill is not. Simply stated, if George Zimmerman knew how to use his fists, he would have spared the life of a teenager and prevented a media-driven frenzy that divided the American house still further.

Zimmerman was described by a witness for the defense as “a very nice person, but not a fighter.” Dennis Root, an expert in “use of force” testified that he considers several factors when examining self-defense cases including gender, age, size, physical abilities, and special circumstances that can figure into such situations. Particular emphasis is placed on background and training, and for good reason. When a person finds him or herself under attack, the immediate question is whether the person is equipped to repel the attack.

When presented with the defense’s version of events that said Zimmerman was punched in the nose and soon mounted and pummeled before shooting his attacker, Root had this to say: “I don’t know what else he could do based on his abilities…not to be offensive to Mr. Zimmerman, but he doesn’t seem to have any…”

Years ago, I was hitting the speed bag in the basement boxing room of the Boston YMCA when a grey-headed trainer approached. The trainer’s name was Pete Cone. “Three hoodlums just tried to rob me,” he said. He was well into his fifties at the time and took care of his housebound mother. He had an easy smile, a twinkle in his eye, and was so soft-spoken you’d have to lean in to hear him. I heard him. “Whoa! Whoa!” I said. “—You all right? Where are they?” Pete said, “I’m fine, just fine… I managed to knock two of them down but the third one, well, he ran off and I just couldn’t catch up to him.” It should be mentioned that Pete also created monsters and once fought an exhibition with the late, great Emile Griffith.

The sweet science is a social hub for stories like this, and they’re not hard to substantiate:

  • Last year, an eighty-four-old former fighter named Peter Sandy was walking to a Tesco store in Cambridge, England when a mugger pulled a commando-style knife on him. According to Mail Online, Sandy threw a left hook and the mugger fell to the ground. “When he recovered, he ran off.” Sandy said. “The punch was instinctive. I used to train for six hours a day and in that moment it all came back to me.” He retired fifty-six years ago. The article is entitled “You Picked the Wrong Guy!”
  • Rossie Ellis was a middle-aged ex-boxer when he was stabbed in the arm with an ice pick. According to the Hartford Courant, he turned around and knocked out the man who did it.
  • Last October, the Telegraph reported that Amir Khan and his brother, also a professional boxer, fought six men who tried to steal his Range Rover. One of the attackers took a swing at Amir, who was three months removed from his third career loss, and was knocked cold when Amir pulled back and countered. The other five went down like Whac-A-Moles.
  • In Oklahoma City last December, a young man broke into the garage of a boxer, took a swing at him, and ended up taking the beating of his life. The young man’s mug shot says it all: both eyes swelled shut and gauze stuffed up his nose and in his lip. The Blaze entitled the article “This Is Why You Never, Ever Break Into a Boxer’s Home.”
  • In Manhattan around 1970, a well-dressed elderly gentleman sat in the back of a taxi stopped at a red light. He spied two “young punks” running toward the doors on either side. While the driver sat terrified, his fare clambered out and “flattened both” with a right cross for one and a left hook for the other. Two unofficial knockouts can be added to the record of Jack Dempsey.

These types of confrontations are every-day occurrences or close to it. Most go unrecorded though the result is the same —no one had to die.

When Zimmerman joined the Kokopelli Gym in Longwood, Florida, he was obese. He did a commendable job losing weight and turned up in a boxing class. At his trial, gym owner Adam Pollock testified that he was considerably “nonathletic” and never advanced beyond shadow boxing and working the heavy bag. “He didn’t know how to effectively punch,” Pollock said, though the fault of that would lie with the trainer, not a willing client. An advertisement for the Kokopelli boxing program asserts that “transferring energy to a specific target is a skill that ANYONE can learn providing they have the right coaching.” It goes on to invite clients to “learn to hit with POWER regardless of gender, size or age” and “develop practical defensive fundamentals like catching, parrying, redirecting and leverage stopping.”

Pollock made it clear that in his gym, novices are not allowed to spar until they develop the requisite skill. Zimmerman never developed the requisite skill. However, he also took a grappling class and managed to advance enough to work with a partner.

“It’s very important to understand the difference between the two concepts,” Root testified. “In grappling you have the opportunity to what we call ‘tap out’. You can say ‘I quit’ [or] ‘I give up’ if something hurts too much.” Not so in boxing. “In boxing,” Root said, “when you enter the ring with another person, you find you’ve entered into too much, you know, more than you can handle when you’ve been punched and injured already.”

It’s an important differentiation.

It is nearly certain that a fight between Zimmerman and Martin took place on the grounds of the gated community. The defense presented a narrative that placed Zimmerman outside of his vehicle looking for an address to assist police in locating what he believed was a suspicious person. When Zimmerman proceeded back to his vehicle, Martin supposedly appeared and said “What the f*ck’s your problem, homie?” Zimmerman replied, “Hey man, I don’t have a problem.” Martin approached with a balled fist and said “you have a problem now!”

—Even if we accept the defense’s version of events, an incident that begins with a conk on the nose should not end with a call to the coroner, particularly if the victim is an able-bodied male.

Had Zimmerman been trained properly and/or took boxing more seriously, he could have slipped the first blow and countered it with his own. Eventually, he could learn to counter a blow with a six-punch combination like the great Peruvian light heavyweight Mauro Mina, the “Bombardero de Chincha.” Who knows.

We know this much: The sweet science is extraordinarily effective in the street. It breeds confidence, teaches self-control, sharpens the senses, and has been known to remain viable for self-defense long past physical primes. It can cancel out disadvantages in size and flab and it gives citizens something to hold on to, something other than cold steel. A well-schooled left hook is enough to dissuade most anyone from bad intentions. There is no need to kill him. Let him get up, wipe the red off his face with his sleeve, and stumble on his way. Once his head clears he’ll have new manners to think about.

The iconic image of the stalwart American proudly bearing a firearm is selling us short. For a people who have historically prided themselves on self-reliance and skill, why bring a gun to a fist fight? Patriots shouldn’t and true tough guys wouldn’t. The end result is only trauma for victim, shooter, and everyone around them. We just witnessed how traumatic it can be for the whole country.

There are a hundred forty-nine handgun ranges and a hundred sixty-nine boxing gyms in Florida.

Neither is hard to find.

 

 

 


Art credit: “Blood, White and Blue” by Jace McTier. http://www.mctierart.com/country_pride_boxing.html

See “Gun Violence is a U.S. Public Health Problem” (Celeste Monforton 7/13/12) for details not otherwise referenced. Dempsey’s late-in-life double knockout is found in his autobiography, Dempsey (written with Barbara Piatelli Dempsey, New York: Harper & Row, 1977), p. 285.

Springs Toledo can be contacted at scalinatella@hotmail.com.

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Another Victory for Ukraine as Berinchyk Upsets Navarrete in San Diego

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Whether it was inspiration or perspiration, Ukraine’s Denys Berinchyk motored past Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete by split decision to become the WBO lightweight world titlist on Saturday.

Just hours after his fellow countryman Oleksandr Usyk became undisputed heavyweight world champion, Berinchyk joined the club.

“This is a great night for all people of Ukraine,” Berinchyk said.

The undefeated Ukrainian Berinchyk (19-0, 9 KOs) gutted out a win over Navarrete (38-2-1, 31 KOs) who was attempting to join Mexico’s four-division world champion club in San Diego. The lanky fighter known as “Vaquero” fell a little short.

Through all 12 rounds neither fighter was able to dominate and neither was able to score a knockdown. Just when it seemed one fighter gathered enough momentum, the other fighter would rally.

A butt caused a slight cut on Navarrete in the 10th round. That seemed to ignite anger from the Mexican fighter and he powered through the Ukrainian fighter the next two rounds.

In the final round Berinchyk bore down and slugged it out with the Mexican fighter as both relied on their weapons of choice. For most of the night Navarrete scored with long-range uppercuts and Berinchyk scored with overhand rights.

After 12 rounds two judges scored it 115-113, 116-112 for Berinchyk and one 116-112 for Navarrete. Ukraine gained its third world titlist in one a week. Berinchyk joins Usyk and Vasyl Lomachenko as world titlists.

“He’s a very tough guy,” said Berinchyk of Navarrete.

Welterweights

A battle between undefeated welterweights saw Brian Norman (26-0, 20 KOs) knock out Giovany Santillan (32-1, 17 KOs) in the 10th round to become the interim WBO titlist.

For nine rounds both welterweights engaged in brutal inside warfare as each tried to beat the sense out of each other.

Norman worked the body early as Santillan targeted the head. Neither fought more than two inches from each other.

The younger Norman, 23, connected with a right cross during an exchange that wobbled Santillan in the eighth round. From that point on the Georgia fighter began setting up for his power shots. Finally, in the 10th round, uppercuts dropped Santillan twice. In the second knockdown Santillan went down hard as referee Ray Corona stopped the fight immediately at 1:33 of the 10th round.

Other Bouts

Heavyweight Richard Torrez (10-0, 10 KOs) knocked out Brandon Moore (14-1) in the fifth round for a regional title.

Lightweight Alan Garcia (10-0) defeated Wilfredo Flores (10-3-1) by decision after eight.

Photo credit: German Villasenor

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UNDISPUTED ! – Usyk Defeats Fury ! – Plus Undercard Results from Riyadh

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The most ballyhooed fight of the young century played out today at Riyadh Arena in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where Ukraine’s amazing Oleksandr Usyk became an undisputed world champion in a second weight class with a split decision over WBC and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.

This was a memorable fight with twists and turns. Usyk had some good moments early, but the middle rounds belonged to the Gypsy King. Heading into the second half of the bout, the old saying that a good big man will always beat a good little man, appeared to be holding up once again. Fury was having good success working the body as his trainer SugarHill Steward exhorted him to do, and when he went upstairs, he rattled Usyk, notably in round five when a big uppercut appeared to lift the Ukrainian off his feet. But Usyk finished round seven strong, a prelude of what was to come.

Usyk plainly won round eight and in round nine, he came within a whisper of ending it. A flurry of punches sent Fury reeling. He crashed into the ring ropes which dictated a standing-8 count from referee Mark Nelson. If Nelson had waited a few more seconds, he would have likely waved the fight off as Fury was on queer street. But this dramatic turnaround came late in the round and the Gypsy King was saved by the bell.

Among other things, Tyson Fury is known for his amazing powers of recuperation. He not only stayed the course, but appeared to win the final round. But in the end, Oleksandr Usyk, now 22-0 (14) saddled Fury (34-1-1) with his first defeat. Two of the judges favored him (115-112, 114-113) with the dissenter scoring it for Fury 114-113.

A draw wouldn’t have caused much of a stink and now they will do it again. The sequel is tentatively scheduled for October. Both are getting a little long in the tooth – Usyk is 37 and Fury is 35 – so we will be surprised if the rematch lives up to the hype.

Semi-wind-up

The first encounter between Jai Opetaia and Mairis Briedis was a grueling fight. Opetaia, an Australian Olympian at age 16, won the battle (a fair decision) but yet took the worst of it. Early in that bout, he had his jaw fractured in two places and for the next two months was forced to eat out of a straw.

The rematch tonight in Riyadh was a monotonous fight through the first nine rounds. Briedis, now 39 years old and inactive since their first meeting, looked old and rusty. But the fight heated up in round 10 and the championship rounds belonged to the Latvian.

It came too little, too late, however, as Briedis needed a knockout to win. At the conclusion, the judges favored the Aussie by scores of 117-111 and 116-112 twice.

Opetaia, 28, improved to 25-0 (19).  Briedis, who has defeated everyone that he has fought with the exceptions of Opetaia and Oleksandr Usyk (and the Usyk fight was close) falls to 28-3.

The first fight between Opetaia and Briedis was for the IBF cruiserweight title. Tonight’s match is for the vacant IBF cruiserweight title (don’t ask).

Cordina-Cacace

In a major upset, Belfast’s Anthony Cacace, a 12-year pro, captured the IBF 130-pound world title with a seventh-round stoppage of previously undefeated Joe Cordina who went to post a consensus 7/1 favorite. The end came 39 seconds into round seven with Cacace pummeling Cordina against the ropes.

The Irishman was the busier fighter and landed the harder punches, but the bout was not without controversy. In the third frame, Cacace stunned Cordina with a punch that landed after the referee ordered the fighters to break. That put Cordina on the defensive and before the round was over, Cacace put him on the canvas with a wicked uppercut and Cordina, badly hurt, barely survived the round. Cacace (22-1, 8 KOs) had a big sixth round and closed the show in the next stanza.

Cordina, a 2016 Olympian who was undefeated in 17 pro fights heading in, is a close friend and frequent workout partner of Lauren Price who captured the WBC female welterweight title last week. She now stands alone as the only current world champion from Wales.

Kabayel-Sanchez

In a mild upset, Agit Kabayel continued his late career surge with a seventh-round KO of previously undefeated Frank Sanchez. As was the case in his last fight when he upset Arslanbek Makhmudov, Kabayel (25-0, 17 KOs) finished his opponent with body punches. A left-right combination knocked Sanchez to his knees and then, after Sanchez got to his feet, a straight right to the belly sent him down again and he wasn’t able to beat the count.

Sanchez, who was 24-0 heading in, entered the bout with a brace over his right knee that compromised his mobility. Kabayel, the aggressor throughout, was comfortably ahead at the time of the stoppage. The official time was 2:23 of round seven.

Kovalev-Safar

In a dull 10-rounder, unsung Robin Safar, a Swedish-born fighter of Kurdish descent, may have written the finish for the career of Sergey Kovalev. At age 41 in his second fight as a cruiserweight and coming off a two-year layoff, the “Krusher” was a pale imitation of the fighter that won nine straight light heavyweight title fights before losing a controversial decision to Andre Ward in their first encounter.

Safar, who improved to 17-0 (12) punctuated his triumph by knocking down Kovalev (35-5-1) with a big right hand inside the final 10 seconds of the final round. The judges had it 99-90, 97-92, and 95-94.

Two early fights ended in early knockouts.

Moses Itauma, a 19-year-old, six-foot-six southpaw who was raised in London by a Nigerian father and a Slovakian mother, stopped Ilya Mezercev at the 50-second mark of the second round. Mezercev made it to his feet after being decked with a big right hook, but his legs were jelly and the fight was waved off.

Trained by Ben Davison, Itauma (9-0, 7 KOs) has been hailed as the next Anthony Joshua. As an amateur, he was reportedly 24-0. Mezercev, a Germany-based Kazkh, declined to 25-9.

British lightweight Mark “Thunder” Chamberlain (16-0, 12 KOs) looked sensational while blasting out Joshua Oluwaseun Wahab in the opening stanza. Chamberlain had Wahab (23-2) on the deck twice before the bout was waived off at the 2:42 mark.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 284: Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, and Much More

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 284: Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, and Much More

Argue all you want about the appeal of other sports, only boxing grabs fans on all levels and stratum.

It’s the oldest sport that has an international swag that only the World Cup can rival once every four years. Boxing has it every year.

Heavyweights take the forefront in Saudi Arabia while lightweights battle in Southern California. It’s an all-day affair pitting champions from all parts of the world.

Tyson Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs), the WBC and lineal heavyweight champion, finally meets Oleksandr Usyk (21-0, 15 KOs) who holds the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles on Saturday, May 18, at Riyadh. DAZN ppv, ESPN ppv, and PPV.Com will stream the massive fight card at 9 a.m. PT/ 12 p.m. ET.

It’s a rare opportunity to decide who truly is the “baddest man on the planet.” Ever since the emergence of the alphabet titles, few know the name of the heavyweight champion. Not since Mike Tyson ruled the prize ring could fans tell you the name of the champ.

Some people still think Tyson is the heavyweight champ.

Now we have England’s “Gypsy King” Fury ready to prove that he indeed is the biggest and baddest of all the heavyweights in the world. He’s got his dad head-butting people to prove it.

“I predict that somebody’s ‘0’ has got to go. And it’s going to be that team over there, unfortunately for them,” said Tyson Fury who at six-feet, nine-inches tall towers over most opponents.

Facing Fury is Usyk, the Ukrainian fighter who twice defeated Anthony Joshua for several versions of the heavyweight championship.

Though several inches shorter and much lighter in weight, Usyk has displayed mobility and agility that allows him to dart in and out of danger. Will this tactic work against Fury?

“I have a plan. It’s a better plan. And it’s a great plan,” said Usyk. “I will have the opportunity to become undisputed for a second time.”

Of course, size doesn’t always matter when it comes to heavyweights. History has taught us the bigger man doesn’t always win. From Jack Dempsey whipping Jess Willard to Joe Frazier beating Buster Mathis, size doesn’t dictate the winner when it comes to heavyweights.

Top Rank’s Bob Arum summed up the importance of this heavyweight clash.

“After this fight, there is one ‘Baddest Man on the Planet,’ the undisputed heavyweight champion. That means everything in the sport of boxing. That means everything for fans who love boxing,” said Arum.

Two other world titles fights are also planned.

IBF super featherweight titlist Joe Cordina (17-0, 9 KOs) defends against Anthony Cacace (21-1, 7 KOs).

Cordina was seen in Santa Monica, California sparring various super featherweights in preparation for this match. His last match against Texan Edwin Vazquez was a squeaker but you can never tell what the Welsh fighter will do.

Who can forget his two-round demolition of Japan’s Kenichi Ogawa?

Cruiserweights also battle. IBF titlist Jai Opetaia (24-0, 19 KOs) of Australia defends against Latvia’s Mairis Briedis (28-2, 20 KOs). This is a rematch. They fought two years ago with Opetaia winning by decision in Australia. Can Opetaia do it again in neutral territory?

PPV.Com

Headlining the PPV.COM announcing crew for the Fury-Usyk card will be Dan Canobbio, Chris Algieri and Kevin Iole. They will be commentating and also discussing the fight via text on social media.

It’s been almost a year since this this style of reporting was adopted. Fans like the opportunity to discuss the fight with the experts.

San Diego Fights

Three-division world champion Emanuel Navarrete (38-1-1, 31 KOs) attempts to become a four-division world champion when he meets Ukraine’s Denys Berinchyk (18-0, 9 KOs) for the vacant WBO lightweight title on Saturday, May 18, at Pechanga Arena in San Diego, Calif. ESPN will televise.

The Mexican fighter known as “El Vaquero” seeks to become the sixth Mexican fighter with four division world titles and join the prestigious elite. Among those accomplishing the feat are Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Jorge Arce and Leo Santa Cruz.

Navarrete barely survived his last fight with a majority draw against Robson Conceicao last November in Las Vegas. Perhaps the extra five pounds will help?

On the co-main event welterweight contender Giovani Santillan (32-0, 17 KOs) of San Diego returns home to face Georgia’s Brian Norman (25-0, 19 KOs) for the interim WBO welterweight title.

Santillan, 32, is coming off a big knockout win over Alexis Rocha last year. The southpaw has always stepped up when bigger and better competition confronts him. Can he do it again?

Norman, 23, is a hard-hitting welterweight who fought 16 times in his first two years. Many of those fights took place in Mexico. It’s a big test for him.

East L.A. Fights

Super featherweights Dariial Kuchmenov (7-0) and Daniel Lugo (5-2) meet Saturday May 18, at Salesian High School in East Los Angeles. The Elite Boxing USA promotions card begins at 6 p.m. The card features several other bouts including female fighter Mayra Ruiz.

For tickets go to www.tix.com/ticket-sales/eliteboxing/7

18th & Grand Exhibit

The final day to visit the “18th & Grand” exhibit takes place on Sunday May 19, at La Plaza De Cultura Y Artes located at 501 N. Main Street in downtown Los Angeles 90012. The exhibit is free.

Inside you will find photos and art of the Olympic Auditorium that was the center of boxing, wrestling, roller derby, and rock concerts for decades.

For boxing fans, its where the sport showcased the likes of Henry Armstrong, Baby Arizmendi, Art Aragon, Jerry Quarry, Mando Ramos, Scrap Iron Johnson, Art Hafey, and many others.

The exhibit is free of charge.

Jake Paul vs Mike Tyson

Tickets went on sale this week for the return of Iron Mike Tyson who will face Jake Paul in a heavyweight match commissioned as an actual fight.

Most Valuable Promotions will stage Tyson versus Paul along with the rematch between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano on July 20, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Netflix will stream the card live.

A number of other bouts are planned for the mega event.

Paul’s first actual boxing match took place when Tyson fought Roy Jones Jr. in Los Angeles several years ago.

“I started Jake off and I’m gonna finish him,” promised Tyson when they fight.

Paul said he respects Tyson like family.

“I love you like a father loves his son, but I must discipline you. You’re going down, man,” said Paul.

Fights to Watch

Sat. PPV.COM 9 a.m. Tyson Fury (34-0-1) vs Oleksandr Usyk (21-0).

Sat. ESPN, 7:30 p.m. Emanuel Navarrete (38-1-1) vs Denys Berinchyk (18-0).

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