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CJ Ross & Eugenia Williams Might Have A Lot To Talk About

Bernard Fernandez

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The goal of gender equality, at least as it pertains to the participation of females as boxing judges for world championship bouts, took another major hit Saturday night when already-controversial judge C.J. Ross (first name: Cynthia) saw Canelo Alvarez win six of 12 rounds against Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Fortunately for everyone else who was actually paying attention to what had transpired in the ring, the other two assigned judges, Craig Metcalfe and Dave Moretti, had Mayweather (seen above, in Hogan photo, reacting to the egregious Ross card) ahead by respective margins of 117-111 and 116-112, their more prudent assessments resulting in “Money” claiming the WBA and WBC super welterweight titles that had belonged to the red-haired Mexican.

It might even be argued that Metcalfe and Moretti were overly generous to the game but outclassed Canelo. Some astute observers had Mayweather pitching a 120-108 shutout, and he also won by a Grand Canyonesque margin on my personal scorecard, 119-109. So all’s well that ends well, right?

Uh, maybe not. It has been duly noted that Ross – in the first major assignment of her career — also saw Timothy Bradley Jr. as a 115-113 winner in his June 9, 2012, matchup with WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao. Virtually everyone else pegged Pacquiao as an easy winner, but in this case Ross’ blurred vision was compounded by the fact that another judge, Duane Ford, also turned in a 115-113 scorecard for Bradley, who came away with a split decision in what some have termed as a bigger robbery than the Brink’s Job.

So now Ross has followed the Pacquiao-Bradley debacle with her perplexing take on Mayweather-Alvarez, which should lead to only one logical conclusion: Someday she probably will be inducted into the new Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame.

Another female judge whose name, fairly or not, is destined to live in infamy is that of Eugenia “Jean” Williams, whose much-derided scorecard favoring Evander Holyfield in his March 13, 1999, heavyweight unification showdown with Lennox Lewis incited a firestorm of criticism, the heat and magnitude of which even Ross’ dubious scoring for Mayweather-Alvarez was unable to match. Williams submitted a card favoring Holyfield, the IBF and WBA champ, as a 115-113 winner which, coupled with the 115-115 card turned in by British judge Larry O’Connell, enabled Holyfield to hold onto his belts on a split draw. The other judge, South Africa’s Stanley Christoudoulou, had WBC titlist Lewis ahead by a 116-113 margin.

It was the last world championship fight worked by Williams, an Atlantic City, N.J., resident who nonetheless continued to draw judging assignments in her home state deep into 2012. Her last judging gig came on Oct. 12, 2012, Dorin Spivey’s 10-round majority decision over Rod Salka for the NABA lightweight championship at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino in A.C. Williams – who was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011 – had Spivey, who retained his fringe title, coming out on top, 97-93.

No boxing judge’s entire body of work, regardless of gender, should be judged solely on the basis of one unpopular and disputed call, and Williams at least had a reasonably extensive resume heading into Lewis-Holyfield I (Lewis won the rematch, eight months later, on a unanimous decision). She had drawn assignments for 29 previous world title fights, including Ray Mercer-Tommy Morrison, Riddick Bowe-Jesse Ferguson and Holyfield-Mercer. Williams also should be given some credit for attempting to explain her rationale for going with Holyfield, which included scoring the fifth round for him, a round in which he was rocked several times and seemingly was on the verge of being knocked out by Lewis. Ross, on the other hand, has not gone public with any defense of her scorecard for Mayweather-Alvarez.

“I have no qualms with someone disagreeing with me,” Williams said a few days after Lewis-Holyfield I. “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. But I know what I saw and I’m standing firm that I did the right thing. I have no regrets.”

Well, at least she didn’t until she was called in to testify before a Grand Jury empaneled by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to investigate charges that the three assigned judges for Lewis-Holyfield I had received improper benefits. In addition to her receiving a fee of $5,150 for the assignment, as did O’Connell and Christoudoulou, their hotel bills and meals were paid for by Holyfield’s promoter, Don King, although that was not uncustomary for such events.

Shown a videotape of the fight, including the fifth round that was so called into question, Williams waffled, saying that, in retrospect, she would have given that round to Lewis, thus leveling her final scorecard at 114-114. She suggested that her line of sight had been blocked by Lewis’ broad back and by ringside photographers jostling for position along the apron.

“What I saw on TV is not the same as what I saw that night,” she testified. “I can only go by what I looked at that night and I scored that accordingly.”

Before and after her grand jury appearance, Williams was pilloried as a know-nothing judge, or worse.

“I gave Evander three rounds, at the most,” said Lewis’ trainer, Emanuel Steward. “From what I saw, it looked like Lennox was working with one of his sparring partners. But this sparring partner got $20 million. It was not even a close fight. Lennox controlled him with the jab, played with him when he wanted to. We were actually having fun.

“This hurts boxing. We just can’t laugh it off. Undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. New York. Madison Square Garden. And to see what happened here … No, you can’t say, `Oh, well, that’s just boxing.’ I think it’s disgusting.”

Promoter Bob Arum, the Top Rank honcho who had no ties to either fighter, weighed in on the controversy as a presumably unbiased observer.

“I’ve been in boxing 35 years and I never heard of Jean Williams,” huffed Arum, who was contacted at his Las Vegas office by the New York Post. “She has no experience in big fights. Why was she picked for this one? The fight wasn’t even close. I had it 10-2 for Lewis. This isn’t a difference in opinion. This was blatantly wrong.”

It would be just as blatantly wrong for sexists – hey, you know who you are – to lump Williams and Ross as a matched pair, conclusive proof that women have no place in the fight game. There are female judges whose work has not been similarly defaced by accusations of incompetence or dishonesty. Adalaide Byrd, for one, has a pretty sterling reputation, and onetime judge Melvina Lathan has earned her spurs as the respected executive director of the New York State Athletic Commission. I’m certainly not going to forever hang Williams out to dry for one eyebrow-raising scorecard, and even Ross deserves another chance to rehab her reputation, although if I’m NSAC executive director Keith Kizer, I might have her work her way back to big assignments through a series of less high-profile fights.

In a TSS tribute to women’s boxing pioneer Jackie Tonawanda, who was 75 when “Lady Ali” died of colon cancer in June 2009, I described the hurdles female fighters have to face to be taken seriously in boxing, that most macho of athletic endeavors. By extension, the same might be said of women promoters, judges and referees.

Men are supposed to be the hunter-gatherers of the human species, and as such certain occupations have long been thought (at least by guys) as their exclusive preserve. While males go off to war as soldiers, protect our streets as cops and stain boxing rings with their blood, the ladies are supposed to stay home, bear our children, bake us cookies and, if they really need to get out of the house and earn a paycheck, serve society as nurses, secretaries, waitresses, beauticians and, oh, maybe as pole dancers.

I was, of course, being facetious. But Cynthia J. Ross’ latest tale from the crypt isn’t making it easy to advance the notion that women are as capable of scoring a boxing match as their male counterparts. And if she doesn’t believe her six-rounds-apiece assessment of Mayweather-Alvarez won’t hurt her, in a professional sense, someone should put her in touch with Jean Williams.

You’d have to figure they’d have a whole lot to talk about.

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Crossover star Holly Holm Adds New Dimensions to Claressa Shields

Kelsey McCarson

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She laughs about it now, but back then it wasn’t all that funny.

Boxing champion Holly Holm was competing in her first professional MMA fight, and all her years of training inside the ropes as a world champion boxer had just taken over her entire body.

Holm had kicked her opponent down to the ground, so she did what any well-schooled boxer would do. She pivoted away from her fallen prey and headed over to the neutral corner.

All of that was wrong.

“What are you doing?” her coach yelled from cageside. “Finish her!”

It was Holm’s first big mistake in moving over from boxing to MMA, but she was lucky that night. It turned out that Holm’s opponent was finished whether she had run over there or not, so it was a lesson she could learn without much consequence.

But the instruction of that moment stands true today, so it’s just one of the many things Holm has shared with 25-year-old boxing champion Claressa Shields as the two-time Olympic gold medalist attempts to follow in her footsteps.

“I was thinking yeah, that will definitely happen to me!” Shields said.

After Shields signed a three-year promotional deal in December with the Professional Fighters League (PFL), the first thing Shields needed to do was look for the right gym.

Shields found that place at Jackson Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico, one of the most famous MMA gyms in the country, and the one most recognized among the masses as the home gym of former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holm and pound-for-pound king Jon Jones.

Holm remains the only fighter (male or female) to have won legit world championships in both boxing and MMA, and Shields said Holm welcomed her to Jackson Wink with open arms.

“She’s been super great and very nice to me. We both come from the same background…and she actually turned out to be a world champion [in MMA], actually turned out to be really good,” Shields said.

But Holm’s funny story about her first MMA fight is something that points to just how large a hill Shields has decided to climb.

Whereas pop culture has just recently started to realize the power of habits through the work of writers such as Charles Duhigg and James Clear, it’s something professional fighters have known for a long time now.

“Oh, you’re going to have a habit of this because you used to box.”

That’s something Holm tells Shields almost every time they work together, and there are just so many examples.

In fact, just watching the 25-year-old boxing champion trying to learn to do all these new things in a different way is exhausting.

That Shields practically lives inside the gym for weeks at a time so she can train four or five times a day for all the kinds of things she never had to worry about before as a professional boxer is a testament to her seriousness and her courage.

But perhaps the most amazing part of the entire story is that Shields still plans on boxing.

While Holm won world championships in both sports, she achieved those things separately. Meanwhile, Shields said she wants to do the same thing Holm did but at the same time.

So, while I’m standing there with her inside an MMA cage in New Mexico, Shields is plotting fights in both sports. On one hand, she’s talking to me about a title unification bout in boxing against Marie-Eve Dicaire. On the other, she’s talking about future superfights in MMA against the likes of UFC champ Amanda Nunes.

“I’m trying to separate the two,” Shields said specifically about her training that day but she might as well have been talking about her whole life right about now.

It’s arguably the most amazing storyline right now in combat sports.

Shields started boxing when she was just 11 years old. She earned her first gold medal at the Olympics at 17 and her second four years later.

Today, Shields is a three-division world champion, and she says she’s not nearly finished adding to her growing number of boxing belts.

But all those years and all those successes have built so many habits. Ducking and slipping is great for boxing, but both become considerable detriments to defense when you suddenly have to worry about things like knees and kicks.

And what about wrestling and jiu-jitsu?

But all that stuff together is exactly what makes Shields’ epic decision to dare to be great at both sports at the same time so amazing in the first place.

Look, Shields might never accomplish the same amazing feat Holm did when she shocked Ronda Rousey in 2015 for the UFC women’s bantamweight championship.

But she’s aiming to eclipse that incredible mark anyway, and with Holm and many others offering Shields ideas about what she needs to think about as she climbs up the steepest hill she can find, she’ll definitely have her best chance at doing it.

Kelsey McCarson covers combat sports for Bleacher Report and Heavy.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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Boxers Fighting the Best and Doing It Again for the First Time: Part One

Ted Sares

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Britain’s Martin Murray has fought the very best and has now closed out a heartbreaking if not admirable and old school career.

Others are just beginning to hit their stride and suddenly the possibilities are mouthwatering.

The buzz is back on. The heat is coming. No excuses. No badly injured shoulders. No running. This is macho explosive. This is the best fighting the best like it used to be done. Cherry picking is not allowed.

Back in the day, warriors like Ernie Durando, Kid Gavilan, Joey Giardello, Tony DeMarco, Bobby Dykes, Paul Pender, Joey Maxim, Holly Mims, Bobo Olson, and way too many others to list here would fight other top-notch boxers. It was the norm; not the exception. Tony DeMarco beat Kid Gavilan in 1956 and then fought Gaspar Ortega three times in a row in a relatively short period of time.

In the process of compiling a 95-25-1 record, Ezzard Charles engaged in an eye-popping 27 fights against men who would go on to be enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame and/or the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

The List

Rocky Marciano (twice) – IBHF/WBHF

Joe Louis – IBHF/WBHF

Jersey Joe Walcott (four times) IBHF/WBHF

Archie Moore (thrice) IBHF/WBHF

Joey Maxim (five times) IBHF/WBHF

Jimmy Bivins (five times) IBHF/WBHF

Charley Burley (twice) IBHF/WBHF

Harold Johnson IBHF/WBHF

Lloyd Marshall (thrice) WBHF

Gus Lesnevich WBHF

In addition, Charles had three fights with Rex Layne, two with Ken Overlin, two with Elmer Ray, and one with Bob Satterfield

“Some day, maybe, the public is going to abandon comparisons with Joe Louis and accept Ezzard Charles for what he was—the best fist fighter of his particular time”  –Red Smith

Beau Jack, Aldo Minelli, Yama Bahama, Johnny Cesario, Fighting Harada, Eder “Golden Bantam” Jofre, Vicente Saldivar, Jose “El Huitlacoche” Medal, and then later Juan LaPorte and Livingstone “The Pit Bull” Bramble did not know what easy opponents meant. They were willing to fight anyone anywhere and were seldom stopped.

Vito Antuofermo, Ralph Dupas, Willie Pastrano, Curtis Parker, Bennie Briscoe, Kassim Ouma, Emanuel Augustus, Scott LeDoux, Ben Tackie, Ray Oliveira, Renaldo Snipes, Freddie Pendleton, John Scully, Charles Murray, Ted Muller, Anthony Ivory, and Alfredo “Freddy” Cuevas were also representative of those who would fight anyone anywhere. Picking made-to-order opponents was not what they were about.

Ali, Norton, Young, Quarry, fought one another. So did Duran, Leonard, Hagler, and Hearns. Across the pond, Watson, Benn, and Eubank did the same. Frazier, Holyfield, Mugabi, Tszyu, Cotto, and Chacon never ever backed away, nor did Mexican notables Castillo, Marquez (JMM), Morales and Barrera.

No one will accuse Floyd “Money” Mayweather of not fighting the best but they might point out that Floyd sometimes used long time intervals between bouts to his advantage. “Money” was not a particularly active fighter. The phrase “cherry picking” gained traction during this time.

Still, Andre Ward cleaned out an entire division. Cotto fought Pacquiao and Canelo, De La Hoya met Pacquiao, Klitschko faced Fury and then Joshua. Fury — after beating Klitschko — fought Wilder twice. Chisora will fight anyone they put in front of him. Heck, GGG fought 24 brutal rounds with Canelo and if that wasn’t the best fighting the best, what was?

“…great fights lead to other great fights.”—Max Kellerman

To be continued……

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

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At the Moment Boxing is Dormant, but There Will Be Fireworks Aplenty in February

Arne K. Lang

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At the Moment Boxing is Dormant, but There Will Be Fireworks Aplenty in February

The month of January has been quiet on the boxing front and that’s putting it mildly. And making matters worse, the month’s best offering, a Golden Boy card on Jan. 30, bit the dust when Sergey Kovalev tested positive for a banned substance, harpooning his bout with Bektemir Melikuziev and forcing the cancellation of the entire card.

Once considered a shoo-in for Canastota, Kovalev has degenerated into a longshot and his match with Melikuziev didn’t figure to help his chances. The Uzbek southpaw, a Bronze medalist at the Rio Olympiad, has only six pro fights under his belt but is so highly regarded that the bookies installed him a 7/2 favorite.

Showtime has a PBC card on Jan. 23 headlined by a WBO world title match between super bantamweights Angelo Leo and Stephen Fulton, there’s an intriguing heavyweight match on the 29th between musty Manuel Charr and Don King’s undefeated Trevor Bryan, and Caleb Plant is slated to defend his IBF 168-pound belt the following night against Caleb Truax, but that’s it for this month, quite a limp slate, even considering that January is historically a slow month for the sweet science.

The good news is that things will heat up in February.

February 13

The 13th will be a particularly busy day. The action kicks off in the afternoon (U.S. time) when Josh Warrington, the Leeds Warrior, defends his IBF world featherweight title against Mexico City’s Mauricio Lara on a Matchroom/DAZN card. Warrington (30-0, 7 KOs) doesn’t pack a hard punch, but makes up for it with a high-octane attack. He will go to post a solid favorite over Lara (21-2, 14 KOs).

That evening, two West Coast shows will compete for eyeballs.

In Las Vegas, Joe Smith Jr. (26-3, 21 KOs) opposes Russia’s Maxim Vlasov (45-3, 26 KOs) for the vacant WBA light heavyweight title. A Long Island construction worker who has branched out and started a tree surgery business, Smith will be forever remembered as the man who rucked Bernard Hopkins into retirement, but based on his recent efforts that was certainly no fluke. In bouts with Jesse Hart and former title-holder Eleider Alvarez, Smith showed that he is a skilled craftsman with a high boxing IQ.

The are two title fights on the Golden Boy card going head-to-head in Indio, CA. It’s Brazil vs. Argentina when Brazil’s Patrick Teixeira (31-1, 22 KOs) opposes Brian Castano (16-0-1, 12 KOs). Teixeira will be making his first start since copping the WBO 154-pound title with a mild upset of Carlos Adames in November of 2019. That was a bloody battle in which Teixeira overcame a big deficit to pull the fight out of the fire.

Teixeira will dress as the underdog vs. Castano, a second-generation professional boxer who was reportedly 181-5 as an amateur and who recently held a version of the WBA light middleweight title (doesn’t everybody?). The draw on Castano’s ledger came in a spirited skirmish with Erislandy Lara.

Teixeira vs. Castano will more than likely precede the match between Joseph “Jojo” Diaz (31-1, 15 KOs) and Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (15-0, 12 KOs) in the bout order. Diaz will be making the first defense of the IBF 130-pound title he won from Tevin Farmer in January of last year. Rakhimov, a native of Tajikistan who currently resides in Ekaterinburg, Russia, will be making his U.S. debut.

Feb. 20

The featured bout of the second Matchroon/DAZN event of 2021 is a 12-round welterweight contest between David Avanesyan (26-3-1, 14 KOs) and Josh Kelly (10-0-1, 6 KOs). The well-traveled Avanesyan has turned his career around after suffering a sixth-round stoppage at the hands of Egidijus Kavaliauskas in February of 2019. Since then, he’s won three straight in Spain, including back-to-back knockouts of the highly-touted and previously undefeated Spaniard, Kerman Lejarraga.

England’s Kelly, a former Olympian, is moving up in class, but at last look he was a very slight favorite over his Russian adversary. Akin to Warrington vs. Lara, the match is expected to take place at Wembley Arena where Anthony Joshua TKOed Kubrat Pulev before 1,000 fans on Dec. 12.

The all-Mexico showdown between Miguel Berchelt (38-1, 34 KOs) and Oscar Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs) is the crème-de-la-crème of the February docket. On paper this bout, a Top Rank promotion pushed back from Dec. 12 when Berchelt tested positive for COVID, will warrant consideration for Fight of the Year.

Berchelt, who will be defending his WBC 130-pound world title, has knocked out 15 of his last 17 opponents. This will be the third fight at 130 for Valdez, a two-time Olympian who successfully defended his WBO world featherweight title six times before vacating the belt because he was having trouble making the weight.

If Berchelt  (pictured on the left) is victorious, he is expected to move up to lightweight where some rich paydays await in potential fights with Vasyl Lomachenko and bevy of young hotshots. If Valdez wins, it is expected that he will pursue a unification fight with the winner of the forthcoming match between Carl Frampton and Jamel Herring.

Top Rank honcho Bob Arum has indicated that both the Smith-Vlasov and Berchelt-Valdez fights will be staged in Las Vegas at an MGM property, but not necessarily at the MGM Grand where Top Rank promoted 24 shows without fans during the pandemic.

Feb. 27

On the last Saturday of the month, fight fans in the U.S. can take in a doubleheader if they can roust themselves out of bed in the middle of the night. In Auckland, New Zealand (18 hours ahead of New York), there’s a big domestic clash between heavyweights Joseph Parker (27-2, 21 KOs) and Junior Fa (19-0, 10 KOs). These two have been on a collision course since 2009 when Fa, the older man by 27 months, defeated Parker in the first of their four meetings as amateurs. Parker won two of the next three to even the series at 2-2.

Here we have a bout with international significance that is also a match for neighborhood bragging rights. Parker and Fa grew up in the same South Auckland neighborhood and attended the same LDS church. But yet it won’t be hard to contort this fight into a grudge match. Parker’s family roots are in Samoa; Fa’s in Tonga. The two nations have a fierce rivalry in rugby.

This fight was more than two years in the making and when the bout was finally signed, 9,000 tickets went on sale to the general public.

Later that day, at a yet undetermined site in London, Carl Frampton (28-2, 16 KOs) seeks to become a title-holder in a third weight class when he challenges WBO 130-pound title-holder Jamel Herring (22-2, 10 KOs). The twice-postponed fight will air in the U.S. on ESPN+.

Frampton is currently a consensus 3/2 favorite over Herring who suffered an eye injury over his right optic, described as scraped lens, in his messy September fight with billy goat Jonathan Oquendo. A former Marine and former Olympian, Herring currently trains with Terence Crawford in  Omaha

As we move into March, the first Saturday will bring the rematch between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin. Whyte dominated the first meeting until Povetkin found a home for a hellacious uppercut in the fifth frame, terminating the bout. Whyte, at age 32 the younger man by nine years, is favored to avenge that bitter defeat. As for the location, promoter Eddie Hearn has had conversations with potential suitors in Gibraltar and Monaco.

So, hang in there, fight fans. January may be dry, but there’s a whole bunch of interesting fights lurking around the corner.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Fast Results from the “Big D”: Garcia KOs Campbell; A Split for the Alvarado Twins

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Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Can Luke Campbell Dim Ryan Garcia’s Bright Star?

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Featured Articles3 weeks ago

How I Became a Boxing Writer

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Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Kazuto Ioka Sensationally Crushes Kosei Tanaka in Japanese Superfight

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Featured Articles3 weeks ago

For Whom The Bell Tolled: 2020 Boxing Obituaries PART TWO

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Featured Articles3 weeks ago

For Whom the Bell Tolled: 2020 Boxing Obituaries PART ONE

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Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Teofimo Lopez is the TSS 2020 Fighter of the Year

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Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Eddy Reynoso is the TSS 2020 Trainer of the Year

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