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Geale Latest Aussie To Seek Greater Fame, Fortune In The U.S.

Bernard Fernandez

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It shouldn’t surprise anyone that IBF middleweight champion Daniel Geale is the about to become the latest Australian celebrity to attempt to increase his American visibility – and, by extension, his worldwide fame and fortune – by coming to the United States to do his thing.

Hey, it’s a tactic that worked pretty well for actors Errol Flynn, Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Paul Hogan, singers Olivia Newton John and Keith Urban, golfer Greg Norman and tennis superstars Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Ken Rosewall, Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

“I feel very hungry. It’s one thing that I haven’t conquered yet, coming to the U.S. to fight,” said Geale (29-1, 15 KOs), who will be making his American debut Saturday night when he puts his title on the line for the fifth time against England’s Darren Barker (25-1, 16 KOs) at The Revel in Atlantic City, N.J. The fight will be televised live by HBO, as will the taped showing of a defense by WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly (26-0, 12 KOs), of Wales, against Russian-born knockout artist Sergey Kovalev (21-0-1, 19 KOs) from Cardiff, Wales.

If the 32-year-old Geale can win convincingly enough, and excitingly enough, in his HBO-televised introduction to American fight fans to whom he remains mostly a rumor, he could be ticketed for high-paying return engagements on these shores. But if it doesn’t work out quite as he and his American promoter, Gary Shaw, are hoping, it wouldn’t be the first time an iconic Australian boxer went home disappointed.

Consider the cautionary tale of Jeff Fenech, a three-time world champion who arrived for his own American premiere with considerably more fanfare than is accompanying Geale’s first working trip to a place where it once was said the streets were lined with gold.

Fenech, whom many Australian boxing experts believe is the finest fighter that country has ever produced, was a 27-year-old sensation, at least in his homeland, when he was brought to Las Vegas for a June 28, 1991, bout with WBC super featherweight champ Azumah Nelson, of Ghana, at The Mirage. It was the primary undercard attraction of a show headlined by the rematch between heavyweight bombers Mike Tyson and Razor Ruddock.

Promoter Don King had signed Fenech, whose attacking, aggressive style had been likened to that of Tyson and Roberto Duran, to a four-fight, $5 million contract. The most Fenech ever had been paid for a night’s work in Australia, where all of his previous 25 bouts had been staged, was around $500,000.

“Americans don’ really know Jeff Fenech,” Fenech said a few days before his ballyhooed showdown with Nelson. “But after this fight, maybe they’ll sit up and take notice.

“I kind of feel like I’m the victim of circumstances. I’ve fought in Australia throughout my career because I wanted to. I would have been perfectly content to have had all the rest of my fights in Australia. But I also recognize that the money’s here in the States. I don’t think I would be paid as much as I am to fight Azumah Nelson in Australia. I’m not sure Australia could afford this fight in any case. I guess I always knew that until I came here, I’d never get the recognition I deserve.”

Unfortunately for Fenech, who went off as a 2-1 favorite, the great Nelson – who, like Fenech, is enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame – retained his title on a draw. The Fenech Victory Tour in the U.S. never materialized; he fought only once more in America in his remaining seven bouts until his retirement in 2008, an eighth-round stoppage of Tialano Tover on Nov. 18, 1995, in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. Two of those final seven fights were rematches with Nelson, both in Australia, with each winning once to leave their series deadlocked at 1-1-1.

It has been much the same story for most if not all of the best native-born Australian boxers. Lionel Rose, Jimmy Carruthers, Les Darcy, Johnny Famechon, Anthony Mundine and Jeff Harding all held world titles at one point or another, but they fought seldom, if ever, in the U.S. and were known here only by hardcore American fans. What about Kostya Tszyu and Vic Darchinyan, you say? Tszyu was based in Australia throughout his pro career but he came from Russia, and the same can be said of Darchinyan, who was Armenian. Even the sainted Fenech, born in Sydney, had Maltese parents.

At 32, Geale is rightly considered to be one of the best 160-pounders on the planet. But he is less known here, and everywhere, than WBC champion Sergio Martinez, of Argentina, and WBA titlist Gennady Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs), who is from Kazakhstan but lives in Germany. Martinez also has the advantage of having fought 14 times in the U.S. and Golovkin three times, a good many of Martinez’s appearances here and all of Golovkin’s getting prime-time television exposure.

Golovkin also has the advantage of being a lights-out puncher whose explosive finishing power presumably puts him in the same must-watch category as Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse (34-2, 34 KOs), emerging American heavyweight Deontay Wilder (29-0, 29 KOs) and, yes, Kovalev, whose scrap with Cleverly – which, if he wins, could lead to a subsequent matchup with ageless legend Bernard Hopkins – probably is regarded by most HBO viewers as the more compelling reason to watch Saturday’s split-site doubleheader.

Geale is a good offensive fighter and an effective counter-puncher, but his knockout ratio is not so high that it suggests he is some sort of absurdly destructive Thunder from Down Under. And Barker, who gave Martinez a problem or two before he was TKO’ed in the 11th round on Oct. 1, 2011, in Boardwalk Hall, is capable in his own right and hardly disposed to help make Geale’s initial turn in the U.S. spotlight a smashing success.

Unlike Fenech, however, Geale has one thing to his advantage as he unveils himself to hard-to-sway American spectators who do not give their hearts readily to some other country’s hero. He has fought outside of Australia twice, both in Germany, defeating Sebastian Sylvester and avenging his only loss, to 38-year-old countryman and former world champ Anthony Mundine.

“People forget that Daniel went overseas and fought two different fighters and came out on top,” Shaw pointed out. “Daniel Geale doesn’t fight scared. ”

It remains to be seen whether Geale is what he claims to be – the No. 1 middleweight in the world – or merely well back in third place, behind Martinez and Golovkin, each of whom has already established his U.S. bona fides.

And if Geale reveals himself to not be at that level, hey, Aussies can always content themselves with watching the DVD of “Cinderella Man,” in which Russell Crowe portrays James J. Braddock as he wrests the heavyweight title from the hugelyfavored Max Baer. Except, of course, that Crowe is playing the role of an American.

Picture: Tim Carrafa Source: The Sunday Mail (Qld)

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 106: Return of LA Boxing, Josh Taylor, Charlos and More

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 106: Return of LA Boxing, Josh Taylor, Charlos and More

Let’s call this week the Big Build Up.

Back in the 1920s to the 1950s the City of Angels was known as the place where Humphrey Bogart lived and played characters out of Raymond Chandler’s novels. Books like the “Big Sleep” and “Lady in a Lake” were made into movies based in Los Angeles.

Well, here we are back where boxing thrives, people or not.

Los Angeles kicks off the big boxing week starting with a televised fight card that features home grown featherweight Vic Pasillas at the Microsoft Theater in the downtown area. Fox Sports 1 will televise the Premier Boxing Championship card on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Pasillas (15-0,8 KOs) faces Dominican fighter Ranfis Encarnacion (17-0, 13 KOs) in the co-main event at a fan-less event that begins a crowded week of boxing as we near the end of 2020.

“Coming out on top against Encarnación is going to catapult me into some big fights at featherweight. The division is wide open and I know with hard work I can take it over,” said Pasillas who is originally from Los Angeles. “This is by far the most important fight of my career. I’m coming with everything I got, because I know this is the turning point that will lead to bigger and better fights. I am ready to bring an exciting fight to the fans and get my hand raised in victory.”

Both Pasillas and Encarnacion are undefeated and unknown to most of the boxing world. A win changes everything especially when it’s difficult to even stage a boxing card.

Promoters are anxious to get their fighters in the ring by any means necessary.

On Thursday in Biloxi, Mississippi, super lightweight Michael Williams Jr. meets Thomas Miller in the headline attraction of a boxing card that will be streamed by UFC Fight Pass.

On Friday in southern Mexico, Serhii Bohachuk (17-0, 17 KOs) meets Alejandro Davila (21-1-2, 8 KOs) in Merida, Yucatan. No word if it will be streamed. The super welterweight from Ukraine has a 17-fight knockout streak and has become a main attraction in Hollywood, California for 360 Promotions.

“Serhii has become one of the most talked about rising stars in boxing,” said Tom Loeffler, promoter of 360 Promotions. “Boxing fans are excited to see if he can continue his knockout streak against Alejandro Davila, the toughest opponent he’s faced. He’s been training very hard with Manny Robles for this fight and if victorious, we’re certain there will be bigger opportunities for him in the near future.”

These are all tasty appetizers for the big buffet coming on Saturday.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Saturday morning, especially if you live in the California area, ESPN+ will showcase the IBF, WBA super lightweight world title fight between champion Josh Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) and Apinun Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs) in London. It will be streamed live on Sept. 26, Saturday morning, starting at 11 a.m PST.

This is an important match for Taylor (pictured on the left) who needs a win to nail down a unification clash with Jose Carlos Ramirez the WBC and WBO titlist. If Scotland’s Taylor emerges victorious the super lightweight clash will be one of the top fights of the year.

And if that fight happens to take place, then that winner more than likely meets WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford.

But first things first. Taylor needs to defeat Thailand’s Khongsong on Saturday.

“I didn’t want a warm-up fight, so getting straight back in there against my mandatory challenger is great, as it’s kept me fully focused. I want big fights in my career, so this is an important fight with my belts on the line,” said Taylor.

Charlos Pay-per-view

The Charlos brothers asked for it and they got it.

Long have the brothers from Houston, Texas asked for a pay-per-view fight card and it never seemed possible until now. The Charlos will headline a pay-per-view double-header on Saturday via Showtime.

Beginning at 4 p.m PT/ 7 p.m. ET the Showtime pay-per-view card begins with three top notch bouts:

WBO bantamweight titlist John Riel Casimero (29-4) vs Ghana’s Duke Micah (24-0, 19 KOs).

WBA super bantamweight titlist Brandon Figueroa (20-0-1, 15 KOs) vs Damien Vazquez (15-1-1, 8 KOs).

WBC middleweight titlist Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) v Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs).

Charlo was not impressed with Derevyanchenko’s performances against Daniel Jacobs and Gennady Golovkin because both were losses. He expects to dominate.

Derevyanchenko says he’s ready for Charlo.

“Golovkin is a very different fighter than Charlo, but Jacobs is similar stylistically, so that’s something I’ll be used to,” said Derevyanchenko. “This training camp has been very similar to camps for my previous fights though. We just brought in different sparring partners for this one. We’re using fighters who can show us what Charlo will bring to the ring.”

After a 30-minute intermission the second half of the boxing card begins.

Former bantamweight world champion Luis Nery (30-0, 24 KOs) moves up in weight to face Aaron Alameda (25-0, 13 KOs) for the vacant WBC super bantamweight world title. Both fighters are from Mexico.

Former super bantamweight titlists Danny Roman (27-3-1) and Juan Carlos Payano (21-3) meet in a 12-round bout.

In the grand finale WBC super welterweight titlist Jermell Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) challenges IBF and WBA super welterweight titlist Jeison Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs) in a fight for all three belts.

“We lions,” said Charlo.

It’s a very big week for boxing that begins on Wednesday and ends Saturday.

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The Return of Wednesday Boxing Evokes Memories of a Golden Era

Arne K. Lang

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There’s a Wednesday card on the boxing docket this week. The card, which features several undefeated up-and-comers of the sort usually found on Showtime’s developmental series, “ShoBox: The New Generation,” will play out at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and air on Fox Sports 1.

Not to be out-done, “ShoBox” is returning. The long-running series, which suspended operations in March in obeisance to COVID-19 restrictions, returns on Oct. 7 with a show emanating from Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino. The contestants in the main go of the four-fight card, Charles Conwell and Wendy Toussaint, have identical 12-0 records.

It just so happens that Oct. 7 is also a Wednesday. And these upcoming Wednesday shows transported this reporter back to his boyhood when boxing was a fixture on radio and television on Wednesday nights. The Wednesday series sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon beer ran from 1950 to 1960, airing the first five years on CBS and then on ABC.

Fights were all over the TV dial during the 1950s, not that there was much competition. The Big Three — NBC, CBS, and ABC — ruled the airwaves with DuMont a very distant fourth and cable television well off into the future. (For a time, the short-lived DuMont network aired boxing shows on Mondays.)

When televisions first came out, they were a big-ticket item. In 1948, RCA’s cheapest model sold for $395. That’s the equivalent of $10,400 today. By 1954, the cost of the least expensive model had declined to $189 and it came in a bigger box, with a 17-inch screen compared with the 13-inch screen that was standard six years earlier.

With the cost of the coveted contraption beyond the means of many wage earners, saloonkeepers cashed in. Boxing fans flocked to the neighborhood tavern to get their boxing fix. The saloonkeeper could write off his television sets on his taxes as a business expense.

Those were the days, and I date myself, when every town had a TV repair shop and the repairman, like the family doctor, made house calls.

The Wednesday Night Fights were a spin-off of the Friday Night Fights on NBC. The matchmaker for both series (through 1958) was the International Boxing Club which was headquartered at Madison Square Garden. The president of the IBC was James D. Norris (who would come to be seen as a puppet for mobster Frankie Carbo, but that’s a story for another day).

James D. Norris inherited a vast fortune from his father, Canadian businessman James E. Norris. The elder Norris was a big wheel in the sport of hockey and had a financial interest in the arenas that housed NHL teams in Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis. He made these arenas available to his son and the Wednesday fight cards moved around, unlike the Friday fights which were pinned to Madison Square Garden.

Both series would eventually venture out at times into virgin territory, but the Wednesday series was the trailblazer. The first nationally televised boxing show from the West Coast was a Wednesday affair. Jimmy Carter defended his world lightweight title against LA fan favorite Art Aragon, the original Golden Boy, at the Olympic Auditorium on Nov. 14, 1951. Aragon had upset Carter in a non-title fight 11 weeks earlier, but Carter took him to school in the rematch, winning a lopsided decision.

The Friday boxing series, which took the name “Gillette Cavalcade of Sports,” would come to be more fondly remembered, but once the TV became a living room staple, which happened fast, the Wednesday series drew higher ratings. This was predictable as more folks stayed home on Wednesday nights than on Friday nights. And although the Friday series had a larger budget, some of the most important fights of the era were staged on Wednesdays.

One of the highlights of the 1951 season was Ezzard Charles’ world heavyweight title defense against Jersey Joe Walcott at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. It was Walcott’s fifth crack at the title and he was considered ancient at age 37, but he avenged his two previous losses to Charles with a thunderous one-punch knockout.

Carmen Basilio appeared in The Ring magazine Fight of the Year in five consecutive years (1955-1959). The first two — his second meeting with Tony DeMarco and his second meeting with Johnny Saxton – were televised on a Wednesday.

Although he would be quickly forgotten, the Wednesday series brought Bob Satterfield a cult following because of his unpredictability. He certainly left an impression on octogenarian boxing writer Ted Sares who recently named Satterfield his all-time favorite fighter.

To conjure up a portrait of Satterfield, think Deontay Wilder and then fix Wilder with a glass jaw. Satterfield, whose best weight was about 182 pounds, was a murderous puncher, but during his career he was stopped 13 times.

LA’s Clarence Henry and Pittsburgh’s Bob Baker were ranked #3 in the heavyweight division when they ventured to Chicago to tangle with Satterfield, Henry in 1952 and Baker the following year. Henry knocked out Satterfield in the opening round. Satterfield hit the canvas so hard, said a ringside reporter, the resin dust flew up.

The Satterfield-Baker fight would also end in the opening round. Baker out-weighed Satterfield by 34 pounds, but Satterfield flattened him. Later on, in a non-Wednesday fight, Satterfield knocked out Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams in the third round. Williams, 33-1 heading in, was the larger man by 25 pounds.

One bet on or against Bob Satterfield at one’s own peril.

The Wednesday Night Fights had a nice run before the series was cancelled and supplanted in its time slot by “The Naked City,” a critically acclaimed police drama series. Perhaps the return of boxing on Wednesdays augurs well for another mid-week boxing series, but we won’t hold our breath.

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Erickson Lubin Wins, But Misplaced His Hammer

David A. Avila

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Erickson Lubin misplaced the hammer but found a way to victory over Terrell Gausha by unanimous decision in a slow-developing WBC super welterweight eliminator on Saturday.

Lubin (23-1, 16 KOs), a southpaw slugger, was unable to lower the boom on Gausha (21-2-1, 10 KOs) at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. But he did enough in a tactical battle that only activated into a real fight in the later rounds.

Back and forth the two super welterweights mostly feinted and fired blows at each other’s guard. Few managed to pierce for scoring blows and those that landed were mostly to the body.

“It was a chess match. I respected what he had, he was trying to counter what I had. My trainer was telling me to be cautious and not get hit with anything stupid,” said Lubin, whose trainer is the respected Kevin Cunningham.

Gausha, 33, was the more accurate puncher but fired less than Lubin. Though he seemingly scored more often with counter rights, the scarcity of his blows allowed Lubin to control the pace of the fight.

It wasn’t until the mid-rounds that Gausha stepped into a slightly quicker pace. In the 10th, a short right connected and wobbled Lubin who covered up.

“I knew I had hurt him, but he was able to recover,” said Gausha, 24, who tried to finish off the hurt fighter but was unable to land another scoring blow.

“I’m in shape and I was able to recuperate,” Lubin revealed.

It was still unclear who was winning the fight. In the 12th and final round Lubin stepped up the pace and connected with a crisp right hook that clearly snapped the head of Gausha. But he fought his way out of the dangerous corner.

After 12 rounds all three judges scored it for Lubin 115-113, 116-112, 118-110.

“Gausha is a tough competitor, he’s at the top for a reason,” said Lubin. “I feel I beat one of the top 154s and I’m going to keep doing that.”

Gausha was classy in defeat.

“I take my hat off to Erickson Lubin. He was the better man tonight,” said Gausha.

Lubin now awaits the winner between Jermell Charlo and Jeison Rosario who fight each other next week for the WBC, WBA and IBF super welterweight titles. Showtime will provide the title match on pay-per-view.

Featherweights

Former IBO featherweight titlist Tug Nyambayar (12-1, 9 KOs) floored Cobia Breedy (15-1) twice in the first two rounds but struggled the rest of the way to win by split decision. One judge scored it 115-113 for Breedy and two others for Mongolia’s Nyambayar 114-112 and 114-113.

Nyambayar knocked down Breedy with a counter right cross in the first round and then floored him with four rights and a left hook in the second. After that, Breedy was the busier fighter and no one was able to take control.

“Boxing is boxing. It was a tough fight,” said Nyambayar.

Welterweights

In a solid match Philadelphia’s Jaron Ennis (26-0, 24 KOs) was able to find out exactly where he stands against real competition and stopped the unstoppable Juan Carlos Abreu (23-6-1, 21 KOs) in the sixth round by technical knockout in their welterweight showdown.

More than just a knockout win, Ennis discovered that he can indeed take a punch from an elite level puncher.

Nobody questioned whether Ennis had boxing skills or athleticism and power, but nobody knew if he could take a punch. They discovered it as Abreu was able to connect in the fourth and fifth rounds. The Dominican fighter pulled out his tricks and connected several times with sneaky rights and lefts. Ennis remained standing.

Abreu was looking to trade bombs with Ennis in the fifth and sixth round and paid the price in getting delivered to the canvas with a pretty right counter uppercut. He survived. But in the sixth a slew of punches along the ropes sent him down again. He beat the count again but during a fierce exchange he was floored a final time at 1:06 of the sixth round. It was the first time Abreu had ever been stopped.

“I feel I put on a wonderful show and got the knockout,” said Ennis. “I feel I showed the division I am here.”

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