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RINGSIDE REPORT Bradley Earns More Respect With Win Over Marquez

David A. Avila

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LAS VEGAS-WBO welterweight titlist Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley predicted his speed would be the difference against the always dangerous Juan Manuel Marquez and it was, as he won by split decision on Saturday in front of the usual hostile crowd.

“That win was my ticket to the boxing Hall of Fame,” said Bradley. “I beat a great champion.”

Bradley (31-0, 12 Kos; in picture by Chris Farina-Top Rank) managed to keep Marquez (55-7-1, 40 Kos) and the boisterous Mexican fans from gaining momentum. Every time it looked like Marquez was rallying, Bradley would shut down the crowd with some blazing combinations and great defense. The mostly Mexican crowd of 13,111 was not happy but Bradley was surely the superior boxer.

Bradley suffered heavy criticism, death threats and needed to go to a concussion clinic after suffering dizzy spells following his last fight, on March 16. It was Bradley who made Marquez dizzy with his ability to slip punches and fire lightning combinations.

Still, Marquez felt he was the victor.

“I came to win. The judges took it away from me. I’ve been robbed six times in my career,” said Marquez, 40, after the fight.

Marquez caught Bradley with a right uppercut for the best punch of the first round. Bradley was able to attack the body in round one but there were few punches thrown as both seemed to want the other to begin the mayhem.

They ended the second round furiously with Bradley and Marquez exchanging blinding punches before the bell. Bradley had a great round as his speed seemed to bother Marquez especially when they freely exchanged.

Marquez connected on two long right hand counters as Bradley continued to jab in round three. Bradley was forced to mix up his jabs and not allow Marquez to land the deadly counter right.

Bradley had a good round four with effective body shots and blinding punches that Marquez tried to counter. The speedy champion showed off his ability to slip punches and keep away from the Marquez uppercuts. A few landed but nothing caught Bradley solid.

Speed was separating Bradley from Marquez, who couldn’t seem to get close enough to utilize his experience. A left uppercut by Marquez in round five resulted in another furious answer from Bradley, who stuck his tongue out to emphasize he was having fun.

Marquez caught Bradley with a counter left uppercut, the punch Bradley worked on avoiding. Luckily for him he didn’t absorb all of the impact.

Mexico’s Marquez couldn’t seem to catch up to the quick feet and hands of Palm Spring’s Bradley. Jabs and more jabs caused a slight swelling on Marquez’ right eye in round seven. In round eight Marquez caught the WBO champion with a couple of left hooks but Bradley retaliated with a blinding one-two.

Just as it looked like Bradley was taking over the fight Marquez rallied back with some powerful left hooks. Then a lead right connected on Bradley’s head, but he was not hurt. It may have surprised most of Marquez’s fans who expected the Mexican great to knock out Bradley like he knocked out Pacquiao last year. They traded more blazing punches but it was the Mexican fighter’s round in the ninth.

The Palm Springs fighter poured on the speed in round 10 with some blistering combinations. A right hand turned Marquez around but he survived the big blows.

Marquez turned up the heat in round 11 and scored some combinations against the fast moving Bradley. A big left hook by Bradley wowed the crowd but it was the only significant punch from the champion. Marquez seemed to know it was a close fight and slipped into attack mode.

Perhaps knowing he was losing the fight Marquez entered the final round more aggressively as Bradley slipped into a defensive mode. Bradley landed a nice right hand but a left hook by Marquez connected. In the final 20 seconds both exchanged furiously again with Bradley nearly dropping Marquez with a perfect left hook. Marquez barely kept on his feet. It was the last punch of the fight and the most telling.

One judge, Glenn Feldman, scored it 115-113 for Marquez, but the other two judges, Robert Hoyle and Patricia Morse Jarman, scored it 115-113 and 116-112 respectively for Bradley.

“It was a perfect fight. I gave him a boxing lesson. Everything worked. My jab worked over and over. There were a lot of missed punches,” said an excited Bradley.

Bradley’s trainer Joel Diaz was squeamish for a few rounds when the Palm Springs fighter decided to exchange.

“The game plan was not to be reckless. Marquez is hard with exchanges. Twice I told Bradley to knock it off. I told him to box,” Diaz said.

Bradley could only smile.

“I always fight for the fans,” he said.

Now maybe the Palm Springs prizefighter will get the respect due after defeating Pacquiao and Marquez?

Other fights

Mexico’s Orlando Salido (40-12-2, 28 Kos) recaptured the WBO featherweight title with a seventh round knockout over Puerto Rico’s self-acclaimed gay prizefighter Orlando Cruz (20-3-1, 10 Kos). But it was an easy victory as Cruz withstood some punishing blows to the body and head until an overhand right caught Cruz on the jaw followed by a left uppercut. Cruz could not beat referee Russell Mora’s count at 1:05 of round seven.

“Cruz is strong, punches hard and moves around the ring really well. I had to fight with intelligence,” said Salido, who lost the featherweight title last January to Riverside’s Mikey Garcia. “My career is on a rollercoaster up and down. I won my fourth championship.”

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko (1-0) proved he didn’t need any pro experience to beat Mexicali’s Jose Ramirez (25-4, 15 Kos) by knockout at 2:59 of round four. A left to the body collapsed Ramirez twice. The Ukrainian had 400 amateur fights before turning professional. He wins a regional featherweight title. “I knew I hurt him bad with punches to the body,” said Lomachenko, who is in the same weight division as Cuba’s featherweight world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux. “I have a great amount of respect for Rigondeaux. I need to take a few more fights first.”

Sean Monaghan (19-0, 12 Kos) bludgeoned Anthony Smith (14-2, 10 Kos) until referee Tony Weeks stopped the light heavyweight fight at 2:39 of round three.

Canada’s Mikael Zewski (21-0, 16 Kos) forced Riverside’s Albert Herrera (9-10-1) to stop at the end of round five with a severely injured nose.

Arizona’s heavy-handed Trevor McCumby (13-0) survived a knockdown from West Virginia’s Eric Watkins (10-5-1) to win a light heavyweight bout by unanimous decision. It was a rematch of a year ago, won by McCumby, who trains in Oxnard, Calif.

Brad Solomon (21-0, 8 Kos) used a solid game plan to defeat southpaw Kenny Abril (14-7-1, 7 Kos) after eight rounds of a welterweight fight.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 105: Angry Welterweights and More

David A. Avila

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Those welterweights don’t play.

One welterweight just got out of jail and wants to take out his angry frustrations in the boxing ring.

“One of us is getting knocked out. If it gets to where I’m behind on points, I’m just going to come forward and try to take him out, even if I end up getting knocked out,” said Juan Carlos Abreu. ““If he stands and fights, it’s better for me. That’s what I want.”

Standing in front of Abreu (23-5-1) will be one of the top welterweights in America, Philadelphia’s Jaron Ennis (25-0, 23 KOs). This is could be Ennis’ first true test against an experienced foe on Saturday Sept. 19, at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. Showtime will televise the Premier Boxing Champions card.

Ennis, 23, has been breezing easily since first jumping in the prize ring in April 2016. So far, the competition has been unable to cope with the athleticism he possesses. Will Abreu be the first to pose a problem?

“Whatever he brings, we are going to be ready. I’m going to go out there, do my thing, be smart, have my fun, and get that stoppage at the end of the night,” said Ennis, whose last opponent Bakhtiyar Eyubov was eliminated in four rounds in January. “You can’t just go in there and go for the knockout. That’s how you get tired and lose your cool or even get hit with punches that you shouldn’t be getting hit with.”

Abreu hopes he loses his cool.

“If he stands and fights, it’s better for me. That’s what I want. I really want one of us to get knocked out,” says Abreu of the Dominican Republic who was purportedly jailed for street fighting.

This welterweight matchup is the precursor to the WBC super welterweight eliminator between Terrell Gausha (21-1-1, 10 KOs) and Erickson Lubin (22-1, 16 KOs).

Gausha and Lubin both have lost once in their pro careers and need a win to get another crack at a world title.

Gausha lost a decision to Erislandy Lara three years ago. Lubin was stopped in one round by Jermell Charlo three years ago. Both realize the nature of the beast.

“I think Gausha has some problems with southpaws, but I’m not focused on that. I’m focused on my game plan and coming out victorious Saturday night,” said Lubin, 24, a southpaw called “the Hammer” for a reason.

Gausha is originally from Cleveland, Ohio but trains in Southern California and has fought four elite southpaws in his career. He believes one more is not a problem.

“This will be my fourth southpaw in a row. So, I’m more comfortable and familiar this time around,” said Gausha, 33, a former US Olympian who trains with Manny Robles Jr. “The guys before me, they all fought each other. Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran. They all fought each other. To be the best, you have to beat the best. And you can see that the fights I take, even after a long layoff, they are tough fights.”

Top Rank

Also, on Saturday Sept. 19, heavyweights and super lightweights lead a Top Rank card featuring some interesting bouts that will be shown on ESPN+.

Newly acquired Efe Ajagba (13-0,11 KOs) meets Jonnie Rice (13-5-1) in a 10-round heavyweight clash. It’s Nigeria’s Ajagba’s second fight this year. Though still a little raw he shows immense potential and great natural strength.

Rice fights out of Bones Adams’ Gym in Las Vegas and has some power. He built up his record on heavyweights in Tijuana boxing rings but has some pop. He’s a sizeable heavyweight and good measuring stick for Ajagba.

The main event is a doozy.

Puerto Rico’s Jose “The Sniper” Pedraza (27-3, 13 KOs) meets Southern California’s Javier Molina (22-2, 9 KOs) in a 10-round super lightweight bout at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas.

This should be good.

Pedraza, 31, is a former WBO lightweight world titlist who lost in his first defense to Vasyl Lomachenko. Nothing bad about that. He defeated Mexico’s Raymundo Beltran for the belt and has shown a penchant for showing up big when you least expect it.

Molina, 30, is a 2008 US Olympian and a member of the fighting Molina family. His brother Oscar was a member of Mexico’s 2012 Olympic team. His other brother Carlos fought for the world title against Amir Khan. Though Javier Molina has never shown great power, he can truly fight.  His last win came against Amir Imam this past February.

Pending Lightweight Clash

Speaking of the lightweight division, is anyone else as excited as me about the looming showdown between the remarkable Vasyl Lomachenko and impressive Teofimo Lopez coming in less than a month?

Lomachenko, 32, the Ukrainian stylist known as “Hi Tech,” has that incredible footwork and ability to control distance. He’s a master of frustrating opponents and imposing his style of darting in and out of danger. But as good as he is, he can’t sell tickets. Only hardcore fans appreciate his peerless boxing skills.

Lopez, 23, hails from Brooklyn and has that ex-factor you can’t teach. He’s pizzazz and panache with a punch. That combination of flair and power excites fans and seemingly makes him a natural gate attraction. But in spite of his electric abilities, he’s facing a master boxer. Is he ready?

Top Rank is known for having a team of matchmakers headed by boxing wizard Bruce Trampler. It makes me wonder why they are pitting these two against each other?

The probable answer: neither sells out an arena alone. May the best man win.

A friend of mine from East L.A., who formerly boxed and comes from a boxing family, shared his knowledge and opinion on the matchup. He has an interesting take.

“His footwork is incredible,” said George Rodriguez about Lomachenko. “Don’t get me wrong, Teofimo is an incredible talent, but Lomachenko has that footwork.”

Any way you look at it, the winner of this clash clearly bumps up his own image.

Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) versus Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas on October 17. Mark down that date. It will be televised on ESPN.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: The Sept. 26 Horn of Plenty and Other Notes

Arne K. Lang

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Considering the constraints, the month of September has been a pretty good month for professional boxing. And the month will close with a flourish. Eight world title-holders will be in action on the 26th, the last Saturday of the month.

Five of the belt-holders will appear on the SHOWTIME PPV doubleheader featuring the Charlo twins. The most intriguing fight on that card finds Jermall Charlo risking his belt and his undefeated record against rugged Sergiy Deveryanchenko. At last glance, Jermall was a consensus 17/10 (minus-170) favorite. In baseball, a 17/10 favorite is a heavy favorite. In boxing, not so. A serious handicapper who wouldn’t think of laying 17/10 in a baseball game would have no hesitation about laying these odds in a boxing match.

When Deveryanchenko steps into the ring, 51 weeks will have elapsed since his last fight, his bruising tiff with Gennadiy Golovkin. Jermall Charlo hasn’t been on the shelf for quite that long, having last fought in December.

A more interesting match on this particular Saturday, at least in the eyes of this reporter, will unfold earlier that day in Munich when the curtain finally comes down on Season 2 of the long-drawn-out World Boxing Super Series. Two titles will be on the line when Mairis Briedis (26-1, 19 KOs) meets Yuniel Dorticos (24-1, 22 KOs).

Briedis’ lone defeat came at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk in a very competitive fight. Briedis won five rounds on two of the cards and won six rounds on the other. Dorticos’ lone defeat came on enemy turf in Sochi, Russia when he was stopped with eight seconds remaining in a doozy of a fight with Murat Gassiev.

Forget the titles; titles are a dime a dozen. These two guys are plainly the two best cruiserweights on the planet.

“The tickets are flying out the door and we expect to sell out within hours, if not days,” said co-promoter Kalle Sauerland at a pre-fight press conference.

That assertion was made way back on January 22 when the fight, originally targeted for late December of last year, was headed to Riga, Latvia, on March 21. That date didn’t work, nor did the re-scheduled date of May 16, and ultimately Riga didn’t work either.

Whatever tickets were sold, had to be refunded. There will be no fans in attendance when Briedis and Dorticos finally lock horns on Sept. 26 at a TV studio in Munich. The fight will air on DAZN in the U.S.

“Rest makes rust” was an often-heard caution when big gamblers of yesteryear dissected a boxing match. The late, great pricemaker Herb Lambeck reflexively shied away from boxers that had been inactive for a considerable period of time. For him, the Briedis-Dorticos match would likely be a head-scratcher. Both combatants have been inactive since June 15 of last year when they appeared in separate bouts on the same card in Riga, Briedis’s hometown. And they aren’t getting any younger. Briedis is 34 and Dorticos is 35.

The odds got nicked down somewhat when the site shifted from Riga with fans to Munich without, predictably so as Briedis, the first fighter from Latvia to win a world title, has an avid local following.

Briedis, the superior boxer, is a consensus 9/5 favorite. That seems a shade high as he won’t be able to feed off the crowd – there won’t be a crowd – and Dorticos, the Cuban KO Doctor, has a better chance of ending the fight with one punch. It wouldn’t be shocking if the fight followed a similar tack as the recent fight between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin.

In case you missed it, Whyte was dominating his Russian adversary when things changed in a flash in the fifth round. Out of nowhere, Povetkin, the underdog, unleashed a picture-perfect uppercut that left Whyte flat on his back, unconscious before he hit the canvas. There have been other smashing one-punch knockouts this year – Ryan Garcia’s demolition of Francisco Fonseca comes quickly to mind – and there may be a few more, but it’s hard to visualize anyone topping Povetkin in the voting for Knockout of the Year.

By the way, if he wins it, Povetkin, 41, would be the second-oldest boxer to score the Knockout of the Year. George Foreman was 45 when he knocked out Michael Moorer in 1994. The source is The Ring magazine which has been issuing this award since 1989.

And if you happen to know the youngest fighter to score The Ring Knockout of the Year, then you’re pretty sharp. No, it’s not baby-faced Naoya Inoue, who is older (27) than he looks. The honor goes to the long-forgotten African-American/Filipino southpaw Morris East who was 19 when he knocked out defending WBA 140-pound champion Akinobu Hironaka in 1992.

In a rarity, it didn’t take long for Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte to agree on a rematch. They will meet again on Nov. 21. The venue is undecided, but Eddie Hearn is hopeful that he can pot the fight somewhere outside his backyard “fight camp” with fans in attendance. The first lines on the fight show Whyte the favorite in the vicinity of 13/5. Povetkin-Whyte II will be a nice appetizer for the Errol Spence vs. Danny Garcia match that goes off later that day.

In an unrelated development, Fury-Wilder III is purportedly going to Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders, in late December. Bob Arum anticipates a crowd of 10,000-15,000 with social distancing protocols in place.

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Meekins vs. Kawoya: File It Under Bizarre

Ted Sares

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 It was August 8, 1988. The location was Resorts International in Atlantic City. The main event featured New Yorker John Wesley Meekins (18-1-2) vs another New Yorker (via Uganda and Denmark) Mohammed Kawoya (11-3).

The rangy and skilled Meekins with a stellar amateur career was a clear favorite over the lesser known Kawoya who had fought only once in the US, losing to Jorge Maysonet on cuts at the Felt Forum. Meekins was expected to move on to a world title fight after dispatching Kawoya.

Meekins enjoyed a successful career between 1984 and 1994, fighting the likes of Davey Montana, Mike Mungin, Harold Brazier, Saoul Mamby, Santos Cardona, Darrin Morris (who won his last 16 fights in a row), and Terence Alli. He would lose to a prime Meldrick Taylor (20-0-1) in 1989 with the IBF World Super Lightweight title at stake.

On June 15, 1990, Meekins beat Santos Cardona over 12 rounds to win the NABF light-welterweight championship, but would lose it to Terence Alli some seven months later. It was downhill after that and he retired in November 1994 with a record of 24-5-2 after being stopped by so-so Darryl Lattimore.

Back to Meekins vs. Kawoya

 This one did not go as expected. After being decked in round 2, Kawoya dropped Meekins in the opening seconds of round 3. An exciting fight with multiple knockdowns and furious exchanges was in progress and the fans loved it.

An aroused Meekins then went after the Ugandan with a vengeance and set up one of the most bizarre endings that few boxing fans have ever heard about, much less witnessed, as he again dropped Kawoya this time with a fast left hook. He then went for the kill. Referee Paul Venti sensed it and moved in—perhaps prematurely– as Meekins unleashed what he hoped would be a fight-ending volley of hard shots.

 As soon as Venti stepped in to stop the fight, Kawoya landed a right that dropped Meekins and had him crawling on the canvas and holding on to the ropes devoid of his senses for at least ten seconds. The punch was thrown at the exact moment that Venti ended matters and Venti didn’t realize what had occurred.

 While Kawoya thought he has scored a clean KO and celebrated wildly, the fact was that Venti had ended the fight a fraction of a second before and his decision would stand.

The fans not only enjoyed a great fight, they witnessed something truly memorable—something that had to be seen to be believed; namely, a winner struggling to get up and a loser celebrating what he thought was a knockout.

Kawoya pulled out of the rematch because of a throat infection and Saoul Mamby took his place as a late sub. The Ugandan never fought again, while Meekins never got the title shot that a more impressive effort might have gotten him.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com or on Facebook and welcomes comments.

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