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PATERSON'S PREVIEW: Ricky Burns-Terence Crawford

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WBO lightweight champion, Ricky Burns (36-2-1, 11 KO's), coming off a hotly disputed 12 round draw in his last outing against Raymundo Beltran (scores: 115-112, 114-114, 113-115), will seek for gratification this Saturday (March 1) when he takes on unbeaten American, Terence Crawford (22-0, 16 KO's), at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) in Glasgow, Scotland.  

Against Beltran (Sept, 2013), Burns, 30, suffered a broken jaw during the second round, was knocked to the canvas in the 8th, and subsequently visited a Glasgow hospital to have a titanium plate inserted into his jaw. 

A terribly sore one for Burns when it came to his performance, the draw, oh, and the jaw. 

After a hard night's work inside his office, the boxing ring, Burns usually goes home via McDonald's to feast upon a Big Mac. Not on this occasion. A trip to McDonald's would have to wait a month or two, as the healing of his snapped jaw meant that liquid through a straw would be the only intake of nourishment. 

Back in 1962, after being smacked senseless by Sonny Liston, the fearsome heavyweight champion, Floyd Patterson's turbulent mind went into overdrive when decided to leave Comiskey Park, Chicago, disguised in a false beard and sunglasses – such was the embarrassment of his defeat that he delved himself hiding. 

Make no mistake about it, the only hiding Burns has ever done would be when he took part in a game of Hide-and-Seek as a teenager in his hometown of Coatbridge.

Burns will stand during the introductions, within the confinement of the ring inside the SECC arena on Saturday night, with a certain slogan cemented upon his consciousness: “Losing is not an option.”  

Crawford, 26, from Ohama, Nebraska, verbally pointed out his sureness of winning during Wednesday's final news conference. 

He added: “It's definitely my time now, it's been a bit slower than I wanted to get here but I am here now and I am ready to become a world champion, no doubt about it.”

Burns certainly has the world title fight experience which Crawford lacks. He won his first world title against the highly respected Puerto Rican, Roman Martinez, back in 2010 at super-featherweight. And it was perhaps the best win of Burns' entire career. After being dropped by a straight Martinez right hand near the end of the first round, Burns showed his mettle. He sucked up everything Martinez threw at him, used his spearing jab, stood inside, triggered-off combinations, and pulled out the win down the stretch to win on points.  

If Burns is going to send Crawford home a loser, well, he'll need a virtuoso, Martinez like, showing.  

Burns' trainer, Billy Nelson, has been implementing aggression and volume into his pupil's arsenal. But at his best, Burns is a stand-up, long range, accurate, stand-off, point-scoring stylist. His jab is, without question, his main tool for success in the trade of fistic violence. 

If you picture Ken Buchanan (rated among many historians as Scotland's greatest ever boxer) in the ring at work, a similar picture of Burns is presented.

While his nifty skills and moderate hitting power have usually equated to Burns going the the 12 round distance throughout his nine world title fights, his power shouldn't be underestimated. He stopped fellow Brits Nick Cook (TKO1) and Kevin Mitchell  (TKO4). 

Crawford, who'll be fighting outside America for the first time as a pro, doesn't seem too bothered with the hostile reception he'll receive from the 10,000 sold out home crowd.  He arrived in Glasgow at the start of fight week with a posse of around a dozen in his entourage. Included within that circle is trainer, Kevin McIntyre. 

He added: “I look at Ricky and I see what he is capable of and I look at Terence, and I see what Terence is capable of, and I believe Terence is way better and he is a couple of years from his peak. In two years, he will be like Floyd Mayweather”.

Crawford, a fighter possessing decent athleticism,  a solid defense, and quick hands, sure knows the geography of the ring. Included in his amateur record: a silver medal at the 2006 National Golden Gloves, and a gold medal at the Pan American Games Box-Offs in 2007.

He'll, no doubt, take confidence from the fact that he's challenging for his first world title against a fighter with a somewhat leaky defense, and only average hitting power. But Burns' accomplishments and skills far exceed that of Crawford victim Breidis Prescott, easily beaten on points by Crawford early last year). 

For Burns to successfully defend his title, he must avoid a full scale collision. Feeling his way into the contest and focusing on movement and defense would be a wise move on his behalf. No matter if Crawford is being aggressive or not, Burns must stick to an educated gameplan and blank out trying to simply please the crowd – keep his emotions in check.  That means popping his jab and boxing the challenger, at least during the early stages.

If the fight goes by the halfway stage, with success going his way, of course, Burns can then start moving through the gears, testing Crawford's armoury with regular combinations and right hand leads. The inside uppercut of Burns just happens to be one of his infrequent weapons. He'll certainly need it when up-close and inside in the trenches.

Crawford needs to keep his cool throughout the biggest occasion of his life. He's an unknown commodity at world level, yes, but there comes a time when every fighter needs to step up to the plate and prove his worth. 

Naturally an orthodox fighter, Crawford has the ability to switch to southpaw, easily. Trust me, that's a nice piece of equipment he's got up his sleeve going into this fight when it comes to befuddling Burns' rhythm. It's being drastically overlooked by many observers.

The weigh-in: Crawford 134.5lbs; Burns 134.25.

Rewind…… 

The last time an African-American came to Scotland to challenge for a world lightweight title was away back in July 1980. His name was Howard Davis. He lost on points to Jim Watt for the WBC title at Ibrox Park, Glasgow. Davis was a fast and slick stylist, a bit like Terence Crawford. 

Davis' amateur pedigree was as impressive as you could possibly get – his overall record was 125-5. He won a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics as a lightweight. He also won the revered Val Barkey trophy (the award for the best pound for pound boxer at the Olympics) at the games as well, beating boxers like Sugar Ray Leonard and Michael Spinks. 

As a professional, Davis never won a world title. 

Can Crawford succeed in Scotland where Davis failed? 

Robbi Paterson is a feature writer/analyst who has contributed to various boxing websites. He can be reached at Oscar_no1@hotmail.com

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 287: Boxing Wars on Tap in Philadelphia and Las Vegas

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Those boxing wars continue.

Rival promoters battle it out in America as Matchroom Boxing shows off its newest prize Jaron Ennis while Top Rank presents a world title fight in the middleweight division.

Take your pick. Both are scintillating.

Philadelphia’s Ennis (31-0, 28 KOs) makes his promotional debut for the British boxing promotion company and faces David Avanesyan (30-4, 18 KOs) for the IBF welterweight world title on Saturday June 13 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. DAZN will stream the Matchroom Boxing card.

It’s been a year since Ennis last fought and meanwhile he was bestowed the IBF title without throwing a punch. He earns it on Saturday.

“Having this time off isn’t going to affect me at all. I just want to get back in the ring,” said Ennis whose last fight was a knockout win over Roiman Villa back on July 8, 2023.

A promotional war ensued for the right to sign Ennis. Matchroom Boxing was the winner and they’re itching to showcase one of the most talked-about welterweights to come along since Sugar Ray Leonard.

Avanesyan was selected to replace original opponent Cody Crowley who was forced to withdraw for medical reasons. The Armenian fighter has upset a few in his career including Sugar Shane Mosley and England’s Josh Kelly a few years back.

He’s not shy.

“I think that this is a 50-50 fight. He’s younger, He’s strong, it’s a very good fight,” said Avanesyan who lives in the United Kingdom.

Ennis had no qualms about facing a veteran like Avanesyan.

“It’s a better fight than Cody Crowley but I’ll beat him up, break him down and get the knockout,” Ennis said.

For the past several years boxing experts have been crowing about the Philadelphia prizefighter’s immense talent. On Saturday in front of a hometown crowd he continues the journey toward stardom.

Also, on the same card female WBC featherweight titlist Skye Nicolson (10-0) defends against Dominican stalwart Dyana Vargas (19-1). The Aussie southpaw makes her first real world title defense.

Las Vegas

IBF and WBO middleweight titlist Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (15-0, 10 KOs) defends against Andrei Mikhailovich (21-0, 13 KOs) on Saturday July 13, at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. ESPN+ will stream the Top Rank boxing card.

Its Kazakhstan versus Russia as Alimkhanuly continues the middleweight tradition established by his countryman Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. Can he continue to dominate?

Alimkhanuly, 31, is a southpaw slugger and still learning how to corral a moving target. But he has power and shouldn’t have a problem finding Mikhailovich who packs power too.

Mikhailovich, 26, fights out of New Zealand but has never had a professional fight outside of the island nation. Will he be able to ignore the glitter of Las Vegas?

Also, Southern California’s Ray Muratalla (20-0, 16 KOs) faces former super featherweight champion Tevin Farmer (33-5-1, 8 KOs) in a lightweight clash set for 10 rounds.

It’s another step-up fight for Muratalla who had a four-fight knockout streak snapped in his last fight against South Africa’s Xolisani Ndongeni this past March. It won’t get any easier against speedy Farmer.

Golden Boy and 360 Promotions

Tickets are available for the super welterweight showdown between Vergil Ortiz and Serhii Bohachuk that takes place on Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

A press conference was held today at the Golden Boy headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Both fighters were present to kick off the promotion that will feature the two fighters with almost 100 percent knockout rate.

Ortiz has won every fight by knockout. Bohachuk’s last fight ended in a win and was the first time he didn’t obtain a victory by knockout. But the Ukrainian fighter did pick up the interim WBC title with the win over Brian Mendoza who previously had knocked out current champion Sebastian Fundora.

Both Bohachuk and Ortiz train in Southern California.

Fights to Watch

Thurs. ESPN+ 11 a.m. Nelson Hysa (17-0) vs Thorsten Fuchs (13-1).

Sat. DAZN 5 p.m. Jaron Ennis (31-0) vs David Avanesyan (30-4-1); Skye Nicolson (10-0) vs Dyana Vargas (19-1).

Sat. ESPN+ 8 p.m. Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (15-0) vs Andrei Mikhailovich (21-0); Ray Muratalla (20-0) vs Tevin Farmer (33-5-1).

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Trevor McCumby Fell Off the Map and Now He’s Back with a Big Fight on the Horizon

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Trevor McCumby Fell Off the Map and Now He’s Back with a Big Fight on the Horizon

There’s a church in Arizona that has its own motto: “A church that cares where you’re going and not where you’ve been.” It’s the catchline of The Rock, a non-denominational Christian church in the Phoenix suburb of Peoria.

That phrase undoubtedly resonates with Trevor McCumby, a member of the congregation. “I’ve been to some dark places,” says McCumby who was working at a 7-11-style convenience store a few years ago and now finds himself on the cusp of some big paydays in the sweet science.

If McCumby’s name rings a bell, it likely relates to something that had its genesis on Nov. 26, 2016, when he knocked out Donovan George in the opening round on a card in Las Vegas.

The result was changed to “no contest” when traces of two banned substances were discovered in McCumby’s pre-fight urine specimen. Also, McCumby acknowledged receiving an intravenous infusion to rehydrate after the weigh-in which was against the rules of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

It wasn’t until July of the following year when McCumby learned his fate. The boxing commission suspended him for 18 months, retroactive to Nov. 26, 2016, and fined him $3,750.

He maintains that he never knowingly took a PED. He pointed the blame at a multi-vitamin supplement allegedly contaminated with anabolic agents. (Trevor’s advice to his fellow boxers: If using a supplement, save the receipt and keep the empty container; it may come in useful someday.)

McCumby quit boxing at this juncture but returned in 2018 and recorded two more wins, pushing his record to 25-0 with 17 knockouts. Eleven of those kayos came in the opening round and that doesn’t include his demolition of Donovan George which effectively never happened.

And then, Trevor McCumby fell off the map. Four-and-a-half years would elapse before he returned to the ring, his comeback stalled by a knee injury suffered in sparring.

A light heavyweight during his run to 25-0, he returned as a super middleweight. Two wins in Phoenix prefaced his ProBox debut on Jan. 31 of this year when he won a lopsided 10-round decision over 17-3-1 Christopher Pearson. Up next is former IBF world super middleweight champion Caleb Plant who has been in with the top dogs in the division. It’s not official yet, but it’s an open secret that McCumby and Plant have agreed to touch gloves on August 17, likely in Florida.

Trevor McCumby, now 31 years old, was introduced to boxing by his father, a police officer in Niles, Illinois, and former Marine who once served as a presidential honor guard. The minimum age for an amateur boxer in Illinois was eight, but the elder McCumby lied about his son’s age and Trevor started competing with oversized gloves at the age of seven. (Trevor McCumby and his dad are pictured in a story about amateur boxing in the Windy City that ran in the Chicago Tribune in April of 1999. At the time, little Trevor would have been six years old.)

The McCumbys then lived in Yorkville, Illinois, a town roughly 50 miles southwest of Chicago. Trevor recalls traveling almost every day after school to the gritty south side of Chicago for training. Sweating side-by-side with inner city kids couldn’t help but speed up his development. He had a fine amateur record (127-11 by his count) and, at age 17, with the Olympics yet two years away, was ready to say “yes” when he got a surprise call from Cameron Dunkin who wanted to manage him. Renowned for his keen eye as a talent scout, the late Mr. Dunkin had one of the foremost stables in boxing.

McCumby was then living in Phoenix. He would finish high school in Las Vegas before making his pro debut in Los Angeles at age 18.

Looking back, Trevor says, “I didn’t take boxing as seriously as I should have. After each win, it was time to go out and party.” His hiatus from boxing was sobering on many levels. Working in a convenience store was humbling and his priorities changed when he met Kenzie (short for McKenzie), a member of the worship committee at The Rock and his future wife. Trevor is now the father of a 3-year-old son, a 1 ½-year-old daughter and there’s another girl on the way, due in November. As for the knee injury, a torn ACL, Trevor says, “it took about a whole year of rehab but feels better now than it ever did.”

McCumby opened his camp for the Plant fight during the week of July 4 at the Top Rank Gym in Las Vegas. His training is being coordinated by Brandon Woods, a protégé of Hall of Fame trainer Kenny Adams.

He and Caleb Plant have a common opponent in a manner of speaking. Plant went 12 rounds with David Benavidez in his last outing, losing a unanimous but relatively close decision. The “strength of schedule factor” in Plant’s favor will weigh heavily in setting the odds for McCumby vs. Plant. But McCumby has also shared the ring with Phoenix-native Benavidez, and on many occasions. “We gave each other great work,” he says. “You could have sold tickets to those sparring sessions.”

There was a time when it seemed that Trevor McCumby would be remembered mostly for putting his hand in the cookie jar and failing to maximize his talent. But hold the phone. His boxing journey is far from finished and this is a story that may ultimately prove uplifting.

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Fernando Martinez Ratches Up the Heat in the Hot Super Flyweight Division

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On Sunday in Tokyo, Fernando Martinez picked up a second piece of the world super flyweight title with a mild upset of Kazuto Ioka. Martinez owned the IBF belt and added Ioka’s WBA scalp to his bedpost. That gives the Argentinian globetrotter one more belt than Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez if you are keeping score.

Of course, there isn’t a little man on this planet who would be favored over “Bam” at the moment, excepting Naoya Inoue who competes two divisions up at 122. The San Antonio southpaw was so impressive in dismantling Juan Francisco Estrada on July 29 that he stifled all talk of whether he belongs on the pound-for-pound list. The debate now is about his placement; how high should it be? But despite Bam’s towering presence in the 115-pound division, there are some good fights out there for him beginning with Martinez.

Kazuto Ioka brought quite a resume. The first fighter from Japan to win world titles in four weight divisions, he was 31-2-1 heading in with both losses by split decision and was appearing in his twenty-fifth world title fight. But Martinez showed no fear of him. He took the fight to Ioka and closed strong, winning by scores of 120-108, 117-111, and 116-112. (The 120-108 tally by California judge Edward Hernandez Sr was assailed as ludicrous; the fight was much closer than that…but there was no disputing the verdict, the right guy won.)

A fight with Bam Rodriguez, who was in attendance, would be the most lucrative for Fernando Martinez, but he has other options. WBO belt-holder Kosei Tanaka is out there as is former pound-for-pound king Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. Both are in action this month. Chocolatito (51-4, 41 KOs) fights this coming Friday on his home turf in Managua against Colombian journeyman Rober Barrera (27-5). Tanaka (20-1, 11 KOs) defends his belt on July 20 in Tokyo against Mexico’s Jonathan Rodriguez (25-2-1). Tanaka has won four straight since getting dominated and stopped by Ioka in 2020.

The outcome of the Ioka-Martinez bout was no surprise to Matt McGrain who previewed the contest in these pages. And, as McGain noted, Martinez doesn’t have much time left to build up his fan base outside South America and the Orient. His current record (17-0, 9 KOs) betrays the fact he turns 33 next week.

The smaller weight divisions have never attracted a large following in the United States, but that has something to do with a historical dearth of American-born fighters at the pinnacles. Bam Rodriguez is making even casual fans stand up and take notice and his ascent comes at a time when his division is percolating.

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