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RINGSIDE REPORT Mayweather Defeats Canelo; Garcia Beats The Machine

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LAS VEGAS-Floyd “Money” Mayweather made his money, shut down the large Mexican crowd, and also stymied Mexican hero Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s best efforts, winning by majority decision on Saturday.

Mayweather (45-0, 26 Kos) looked a little slower and tired a little sooner, but once again he put another notch on his belt by adding Alvarez’ (42-1-1, 30 Kos) WBC junior middleweight title to his growing resume. A crowd of 16,746 showed up at the MGM Garden Arena and witnessed another Mayweather party.

It wasn’t one-sided but Alvarez’s youth had something to do with that.

Feints and movement dictated the first round as Mayweather initiated contact with some jabs through Alvarez’s guard. A right by Mayweather was countered with a left hook from the Mexican fighter. But Mayweather had landed a few more punches in round one in a test for both boxers who seemed tight.

“If my dad said I was tight, he was right,” said Mayweather, 36, who was told that his father-trainer Floyd Sr. said his son was not up to par.

Mayweather got closer in round two which allowed Alvarez to land some shots to the hip. Then came the Mayweather jabs and a quick combo. Alvarez landed a solid jab too that connected soundly.

Alvarez had a pretty good round in the third especially after Mayweather seemed to wake him up with a crisp one-two combination. Jabs from Alvarez landed and a three-punch combination from the redhead sparked the crowd.

Mayweather opened up the arsenal in the fourth and Alvarez followed his path. Both swung away but it was the Las Vegas speedster that landed the more crisp blows.

Alvarez had a good fifth round with some accurate left hooks. Mayweather attempted to unleash some combos but ran into a left hook that forced him to back off. Some rights by Mayweather landed but the left hooks were the best blows of the round.

Both fighters seemed angry in round six and it showed. Left hook was met with left hook and uppercuts flowed from both fighters. Mayweather was slightly more accurate especially with the right hands.

After Mayweather landed consecutive right hands in round seven, he seemed to sense a momentum change and began to corner Alvarez. But the Mexican waited patiently and dropped two right hands on Mayweather. Still, he lost the round but seemed to gather respect from Mayweather.

In the eighth round Mayweather cut loose with some vicious combinations. Alvarez landed his best combo, a right hand and left hook, but Mayweather repeatedly fired combinations that snapped the sweat off of Alvarez’s head.

Mayweather took round nine off and slowed his punch output. Alvarez landed a few more punches in a close round and seemed to have the punch advantage though he did eat a solid right cross from Mayweather.

Jabs and more jabs snapped from Mayweather in round 10 as Alvarez also withstood a fierce four-punch combination. Alvarez tried to rally with a six-punch combination but only one punch seemed to land as the crowd roared. Mayweather went back to the jab and moved at his own leisure.

Mayweather took the 11th round off a bit and allowed Alvarez to land some combinations though nothing penetrated enough to hurt the Las Vegas speedster. In the final round, Mayweather used jabs and movement to skirt around Alvarez who put his hands down to signal for Mayweather to fight, not run. Mayweather obliged but not enough to risk a knockout loss. Jabs shot out from Mayweather until the final bell.

“He’s a young strong champion,” said Mayweather. “Mexico has some great champions throughout the years.”

One judge, CJ Ross, scored it a draw 114-114. Judge Dave Moretti had it 116-112, Craig Metcalfe had it 117-111 for Mayweather.

Alvarez analyzed his first loss as a pro.

“He’s very intelligent. He’s very elusive. I couldn’t catch him,” said Alvarez, 23. “He has a lot of experience. He’s simply a great fighter.”

Danny Garcia Beats Matthysse
Most of the boxing world knew that junior welterweight world champion Danny Garcia (27-0, 16 Kos) could punch with the best. This time he was facing the best and most feared puncher in Argentina’s Luca Matthysse (34-3, 32 Kos). But few realized that both could withstand a big blow with the best of them as Garcia won by decision.

Matthysse was attempting his third world title bid and thought the charm might come against Philadelphia’s Garcia.

In the first half of the fight the Argentine looked to have an advantage as he pounded away with four-punch combinations. Then a clash of heads resulted in a swelling, and Garcia added to that with a left hook and soon the eye closed nearly shut in round seven.

Everything changed and Garcia soon forged ahead, especially after his father and trainer Angel Garcia slapped him during the rest period.

Garcia took advantage of a more careful Matthysse and began to open up with the fast combinations. Matthysse was wary of Garcia’s power after withstanding several left hooks and Garcia opened up with even more aggression.

“Matthysse is a great warrior. He kept coming at me,” said Garcia, 25.

When Matthysse got entangled in the ropes, Garcia took advantage and knocked down the Argentine with a one-two in round 11.

“I’m a champion of the world, I’m not afraid of nobody,” Garcia said. “If you can make it out of Philadephia, you can make it out of anywhere.”

The judges scored it for Garcia 115-11 and 114-112 twice.

Matthysse was gracious in defeat.

“He’s a great champion,” said Matthysse. “Unfortunately I had only one eye for half of the fight.”

Other bouts

Chicago boxer Carlos Molina ( 22-5-2, 6 Kos) grabbed the IBF junior middleweight title from Ishe Smith (25-6, 11 Kos) who was making his first title defense. Molina was the more aggressive fighter though both fighters rarely landed blows. Their counter-punching style was not conducive to excitement. One judge scored it 116-112 for Smith but two saw it 117-111 and 116-112 for Molina.

“I’m never happy with my performance,” said Molina, but added that he is happy winning the title. “I want the winner of tonight’s fight. It makes sense.”

Mexico’s Pablo Cano returned to the win column with a withering body attack to obtain a split decision victory over United Kingdom’s Ashley Theophane (33-6-1, 10 Kos) after 10 rounds in a welterweight bout. Cano hurt Theophane several times during the fight and took some punishment too. But there were no knockdowns after 10 rounds. Cano’s last fight was a loss to Sugar Shane Mosley.

Cuba’s Luis Arias (7-0, 3 Kos) bludgeoned James Winchester (16-9, 6 Kos) all six rounds in winning a one-side six round super middleweight contest. Arias was the faster and harder puncher but Winchester had a pretty good chin.

Las Vegas boxer Ronald Gavril (7-0, 5 Kos) used a body attack to open up firing lanes in defeating Michigan’s Shujaa El Amin (12-5, 6 Kos) by unanimous decision. All three judges scored it 79-73 for Gavril, who fights for Mayweather Promotions.

Former amateur star Chris Pearson (12-0, 9 Kos) blitzed Joshua Williams (9-6, 5 Kos) behind a stiff jab and some lightning combinations. It could have been a difficult fight, especially when you have two southpaws. But Pearson made it look easy with his pinpoint jab and left cross. Referee Russell Mora saw enough and stopped the already bloody Williams from taking more punishment at 1:14 of the first round.

Compton’s Lanell Bellows (6-0-1, 5 Kos) wasn’t rushed but when he saw an opening in Jordan Moore’s (3-1) defense he struck quickly with a right to the body and right to the head. West Virginia’s Moore did not beat the count and lost by knockout at 2:30 of the first round of the super middleweight fight.

 

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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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Ellie Scotney and Rhiannon Dixon Win World Title Fights in Manchester

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England’s Ellie Scotney started slowly against the long reach of France’s Segolene Lefebvre but used rough tactics and a full-steam ahead approach to unify the super bantamweight division by unanimous decision on Saturday.

“There’s a lot more I didn’t show,” said an excited Scotney (pictured on the left).

IBF titlist Scotney (9-0) added the WBO title by nullifying Lefebvre’s (18-1) reach and dominating the inside with a two-fisted attack in front of an excited crowd in Manchester, England.

For the first two rounds Lefebvre used her long reach and smooth fluid attack to keep Scotney at the end of her punches. Then the fight turned when the British fighter bulled her way inside with body shots and forced the French fighter into the ropes.

Aggressiveness by Scotney turned the fight in her favor. But Lefebvre remained active and countered with overhand rights throughout the match.

Body shots by Scotney continued to pummel the French champion’s abdomen but she remained steadfast in her counter-attacks. Combinations landed for Lefebvre and a counter overhand right scored to keep her in the contest in the fifth round.

Scotney increased the intensity of her attack in the sixth and seventh rounds. In perhaps her best round Scotney was almost perfect in scoring while not getting hit with anything from the French fighter.

Maybe the success of the previous round caused Scotney to pause. It allowed Lefebvre to rally behind some solid shots in a slow round and gave the French fighter an opening. Maybe.

The British fighter opened up more savagely after taking two Lefevbre rights to open the ninth. Scotney attacked with bruising more emphatic blows despite getting hit. Though both fired blows Scotney’s were more powerful.

Both champions opened-up the 10th and final round with punches flying. Once again Scotney’s blows had more power behind them though the French fighter scored too, and though her face looked less bruised than Scotney’s the pure force of Scotney’s attacks was more impressive.

All three judges saw Scotney the winner 97-93, 96-94 and a ridiculous 99-91. The London-based fighter now has the IBF and WBO super bantamweight titles.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said a possible showdown with WBC titlist Erika Cruz looms large possibly in the summer.

“Great performance. Great punch output,” said Hearn of Scotney’s performance.

Dixon Wins WBO Title

British southpaw Rhiannon Dixon (10-0) out-fought Argentina’s Karen Carabajal (22-2) over 10 rounds and won a very competitive unanimous decision to win the vacant WBO lightweight title. It was one of the titles vacated by Katie Taylor who is now the undisputed super lightweight world champion.

An aggressive Dixon dominated the first three rounds including a knockdown in the third round with a perfect left-hand counter that dropped Carabajal. The Argentine got up and rallied in the round.

Carabajal, whose only loss was against Katie Taylor, slowly began figuring out Dixon’s attacks and each round got more competitive. The Argentine fighter used counter rights to find a hole in Dixon’s defense to probably win the round in the sixth.

The final three rounds saw both fighters engage evenly with Carabajal scoring on counters and Dixon attacking the body successfully.

After 10 rounds all three judges saw it in Dixon’s favor 98-91, 97-92, 96-93 who now wields the WBO lightweight world title.

“It’s difficult to find words,” said Dixon after winning the title.

Hometown Fighter Wins

Manchester’s Zelfa Barrett (31-2, 17 KOs) battled back and forth with Jordan Gill (28-3-1, 9 KO-s) and finally ended the super featherweight fight with two knockdowns via lefts to the body in the 10th round of a scheduled 12-round match for a regional title.

The smooth moving Barrett found the busier Gill more complex than expected and for the first nine rounds was fighting a 50/50 fight against the fellow British fighter from the small town of Chatteris north of London.

In the 10th round after multiple shots on the body of Gill, a left hook to the ribs collapsed the Chatteris fighter to the floor. He willed himself up and soon after was floored again but this time by a left to the solar plexus. Again he continued but was belted around until the referee stopped the onslaught by Barrett at 2:44 of the 10th.

“A tough, tough fighter,” said Barrett about Gill. “I had to work hard.”

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O.J. Simpson the Boxer: A Heartwarming Tale for the Whole Family

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O.J. Simpson passed away on Wednesday, April 10, at age 76 in Las Vegas where he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. For millions of Americans, news of his passing unloosed a flood of memories.

The O.J. Simpson double murder trial lasted 37 weeks. CNN and two other fledgling cable networks provided gavel-to-gavel coverage. On Oct. 3, 1995, the day that the jury rendered its verdict, CBS, NBC, ABC, and ESPN suspended regular programming to cover the trial. Worldwide, more than 100 million people were reportedly glued to their TV or radio.

O.J.’s life can be neatly compartmentalized into two halves. The dividing line is June 12, 1994. On that date, Simpson’s estranged wife, the former Nicole Brown, and her friend Ronald Goldman were found stabbed to death in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood at the home that Nicole shared with their two children.

Before then, O.J. was famous. After then, he was infamous.

Simpson first came to the fore on the gridiron. In 1968, his final season at the University of Southern California, he was so dynamic that he won the Heisman Trophy in a landslide, out-distancing Purdue’s Leroy Keyes by 1,750 votes. This was the widest margin to that point between a Heisman winner and runner-up and a milestone that stood for 51 years until surpassed by LSU quarterback Joe Burrows in 2019.

In the NFL, among his many achievements, he became the first and only NFL running back to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards in a 14-game season, a record that will never be broken.

But one can’t appreciate the depth of O.J.s celebrityhood by citing statistics. He transcended his sport like few athletes before or since. Owing in large part to his commercials for the Hertz rental car chain, he became one of America’s most recognizable people.

O.J. Simpson was raised by a single mother in a government housing project in the gritty Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. Unlike many of his boyhood peers, he was never quick to raise his fists. Weirdly, he once said that running away from fights proved useful to him when he took up football. It helped his stamina.

Although he never boxed in real life, O.J. portrayed a boxer in a made-for-TV movie. Titled “Goldie and the Boxer,” it aired on NBC on Sunday, Dec. 29, 1979, two weeks after O.J. played in his last NFL game. Co-produced by Simpson’s own production company, it starred O.J. opposite precocious Melissa Michaelson who played the 10-year-old Goldie.

In promos, the movie was tagged as a heartwarming tale for kids and their parents. Associated Press writer John Egan described it as “a cross between the Shirley Temple classic ‘Little Miss Marker’ and a low-budget ‘Rocky.’”

Here’s a synopsis, compliments of New York Times TV critic John J. O’Connor:

“The year is 1946, and Joe Gallagher is returning to Louisiana as an army veteran. He is quickly ripped off by a succession of thugs and finds himself broke and battered in Pennsylvania where he is befriended by a young Goldie. Her father is a boxer and Joe joins the training camp as a sparring partner. When the father dies, Joe takes his place on the fight circuit and Goldie becomes his manager…”

The consensus of the pundits was that O.J. the actor was very much a work in progress, but that he had great potential. And the movie, despite its hokey plot, attracted so many viewers that NBC wanted to turn it into a series.

O.J. had too much on his plate to commit to doing a regular series. Among other things, he had signed on to become part of NBC’s main stable of reporters at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, a gig that evaporated when the U.S. under President Jimmy Carter joined 64 other nations in boycotting the Games as a protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. However, the movie did spawn a sequel, “Goldie and the Boxer Go To Hollywood,” with Simpson and Michaelson reprising their roles.

I never met O.J. Simpson, but have a vivid memory of finding myself walking behind him into the outdoor boxing arena at Caesars Palace. If memory serves, this was the Hagler-Hearns fight of 1985, in which case the lady on his arm would have been Nicole as they were married earlier that year. She was quite a dish in that tight-fitting pantsuit and I remember thinking to myself, “of all the trophies this dude has won, here is the best trophy of them all.” (Forgive me.)

Simpson had cameo roles in several movies before leaving USC. When he finally turned his back on football, the world was his oyster. O.J., wrote Barry Lorge in the Washington Post, was “bright, affable, charming, articulate and credible, a public relation man’s dream-come true.”

No one would have foreseen the swerve his life would take.

When the jury, after only four hours of deliberation, returned a verdict of “not guilty,” there was cheering in some corners of America. The overwhelming consensus of the white population, however, was that the verdict was an abomination, a gross miscarriage of justice.

We’ll leave it at that.

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