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Herrera’s Pesky-Aggressive Style Made Garcia Look Ordinary

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This past weekend junior welterweight title holder Danny Garcia 28-0 (16) successfully defended his WBA/WBC belts against Mauricio Herrera 20-4 (7) in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. After 12 very close and difficult rounds to score, Garcia won a majority decision by the scores of 116-112 twice and 114-114. It was an extremely close fight and neither fighter was ever close to going down or being in trouble, but it was Herrera who fought his fight and had Garcia trying to solve his difficult style, something he never did.

I scored the fight 115-113 Herrera and agree with commentator Paulie Malinaggi who said it’s a shame that two of the judges who scored it 116-112 for Garcia missed the fight that was happening right in front of them. Speaking of Malignaggi, he is as good or better than any commentator in boxing. He not only sees everything quickly, but cogently explains the whys and why- nots without trying to sound like a know it all, even though he’s as close to being one that there is among current boxing commentators.

Danny Garcia likes to say that he’s Philly-tough and possesses Puerto Rican power. That’s a cute soundbite.. and it’s mostly true. Danny’s also a very fundamentally sound boxer and technician, but at heart he likes to rumble and fight. What separates him from other fighters with that mindset is he’s very versatile and is content to out-box an overly aggressive opponent. And what he found out against Herrera is Mauricio doesn’t fit into any category and is a nightmare to fight.

There was talk right after the bout that perhaps Garcia looked less than par against Herrera because he was coming off a 182 day layoff. I say don’t believe it, Garcia could fight Herrera 10 times at 140 or 147 and never look good against him.

For 12 rounds Herrera had Garcia guessing and trying to find something that worked. When Herrera carried the fight to him and took the lead, Garcia was always a punch late and off the mark. And when he tried to push the fight and dictate the tempo, he was nailed on the way in and never really answered back enough to offset what landed on him cleanly as he initiated the exchange.

He never could time Herrera and was uncomfortable fighting as the attacker as well. During the bout Malignaggi kept referring to Herrera as being pesky with his style and attack, which was very profound. As we saw, Herrera, by not looking for the knockout really had Garcia befuddled. Garcia is used to after being hit flush, having his opponent look to continue the barrage for the finish, but not Herrera. Mauricio wouldn’t be baited into the big exchanges that Danny was trying to ignite. It looked as if Garcia was at times willing to eat a couple punches just so he could get Herrera to fight and trade with him but he never could lure him into the brawl he needed to really get off good. For a majority of the fight Garcia was mostly wrong on every punch that he anticipated coming at him, causing him to get hit with leads and counters like we’ve never seen before in his career. Because of his natural style, Herrera actually took the bullets out of Garcia’s gun’s by virtually causing him to have to think and pause while he was determining what to throw and when to throw it – and during those lapses he was peppered by Herrera’s jabs to the head and body.

Garcia is a tough guy who is very comfortable when he’s facing a rough and tumble opponent who is trying to knock his head off, and he’s fine with carrying the fight to them or engaging them if they bring it to him. However, Herrera only tried to hit and touch him. He fully grasped that Garcia is very tough and durable and there was no way he was going to win by knockout; plus, add to that he’s not much of a puncher himself, and he stymied Garcia by just connecting cleanly and then making him miss with his counters.

Herrera’s only significant punch is his jab, but he throws it constantly, upstairs and down, then clinches. His movement is very jerky, and he’s impossible to predict. He’s physically stronger than he looks and wasn’t manhandled at all by Garcia, although he has absolutely no power.

Herrera being cognizant of his lack of punching power has him knowing that a knockout is out of the equation, thus all he has to concern himself with is unsettling his opponent. So he keeps those jabs coming in from all kinds of angles, then he ties up. He’ll make anyone look horrible. When the fight was over Garcia had the look of a fighter who didn’t think he got beat up, but the look of a guy who knew the other guy probably got the better of it. He spoke in generalities during the post fight interview because he couldn’t be specific, knowing he never solved Herrera’s passive-aggressive style because nothing he tried worked for long.

Sure, he had successes and got the better of the fight in spurts, but once Herrera felt it was enough, he forced Garcia to either have to chase him or move away and regroup trying to figure out his next move. Sustained offensive continuity is something Garcia never achieved. He came within centimeters a few times with some big left-hooks and right hands to Herrera’s chin, but he never really caught him with anything consequential or close to resembling his best finishing punch.

Among his past seven wins before fighting Mauricio Herrera, Garcia owns decisions over Zab Judah, Kendall Holt, Nate Campbell, Erik Morales and Lucas Matthysse, as well as stoppage victories over Morales and former titleholder Amir Khan. Six of those seven fights were against fighters who held a title at one time and Garcia fought as though he was the favorite instead of the underdog in everyone of them. In fact you can say with impunity that Garcia won all seven of those bouts convincingly. He was a big favorite against Herrera and wasn’t very impressive but that doesn’t mean he was exposed because he wasn’t. Everyone who knows anything about boxing knows that styles make fights. Mauricio Herrera is an awkward and unconventional fighter, and those guys really bother fighters who are fundamental and do most things via the book. This is something the late great Alexis Arguello often attested to after his two wars with Aaron Pryor.

Danny Garcia had an off night against Mauricio Herrera, but Herrera had a lot to do with that and if they fought again he’d probably look no better than ordinary in that fight too. If anything surfaced during the bout that we didn’t know before it’s the fact that Danny Garcia is not comfortable fighting a guy who isn’t trying to kill him. Being hit by clean punches that really do nothing more than knock him out of position to counter bother him more than the bombs that Lucas Matthysse threw at him or the darts that Erik Morales and Amir Khan tried to outbox him with.

Lastly, Garcia’s less than convincing performance against someone with little name recognition probably removed him from the Mayweather sweepstakes, at least for the time being.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Artur Beterbiev: “I’d prefer to fight Bivol because he has the one thing I need”

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Russian Artur Beterbiev, triple champion of the 175-pound division, is the only current world champion who, thanks to the enormous power he wields in his fists, has won all his fights inside the distance.

Beterbiev has 18 victories by way of chloroform since he debuted as a professional fighter in June 2013 when he anesthetized retired American, Christian Cruz, in the tenth round at the Bell Center in Montreal where Beterbiev currently resides.

Beterbiev, who turned thirty-eight last Saturday, will defend his WBC, IBF, and WBO titles against Brit Anthony “The Beast from the East” Yarde (23-2, 22 KOs) on Saturday, January 28th at the OVO Arena in London.

Beterbiev obtained the WBO belt on June 18th this past year when he defeated American Joe Smith (28-4, 22 KOs) in the second round at Madison Square Garden. This was Smith’s second defense of the belt.

Earlier, in November 2017, Beterbiev won the vacant IBF belt after defeating German Enrico Koelling (28-5, 9 KOs) by knockout in the twelfth round in Fresno, California.

Two years later, Beterbiev seized the WBC belt from Ukrainian Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) in Philadelphia. Three knockdowns in the tenth round forced referee Gary Rosato to stop the lopsided bout with 11 seconds remaining in the round.  Beterbiev maintains that although his intention is to win each fight, in no way does he want to harm his rival and that his greatest wish is for both of them to leave the ring healthy.

Referring to his upcoming matchup, Beterbiev told BoxingScene that “after the fight, I just hope he (Yarde) is okay.”

He acknowledged that he does not know much about the British boxer, although he has watched several of his fights: “He’s a good fighter, has good experience as a professional and he’s a boxer. He’s dangerous so I have to prepare for this fight like I always do.”

Beterbiev said that his main motivation is to successfully defend the three belts he owns and that is why he will try to be one hundred percent ready and then it will be evident who is the better fighter.

Regarding his knockout streak, Beterbiev emphatically denied that he enjoys knocking out his opponents: “No. There’s no pleasure in it. I just hope everything is OK with them. I just want to do good boxing, not hit people.”

Beterbiev smiles enigmatically and stares at the horizon when they ask him to what he attributes the strength of his fists to. “I know for sure, 1000 percent, that the secret to my power is somewhere in my boxing gym but I don’t know exactly where,” he adds. “I don’t know which exercise or bag gave me this secret. I don’t know where it comes from. I wasn’t always like this either, it has come from working every day. But really my dream is to be a good boxer one day.”

Aside from the upcoming fight with Yarde, Beterbiev acknowledges in each interview that his goal is to be the undisputed champion of the division, which means facing (and defeating) the undefeated Russian Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs), who holds the WBA light heavyweight super championship belt.

“I need Bivol,” Beterbiev admits. “I’d prefer to fight Bivol because he has the one thing I need. I hope I fight him in 2023 but the hold-up is not from my side, it’s from their side. In the last three years he always says he will fight me next but in this time we’ve done unification fights against Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Joe Smith. We’ve done that whereas he has just been talking about it.

Beterbiev recalled that he was with Bivol on the Russian national team where they were amateurs. “I knew him then, but he is younger than me. We haven’t talked for 10 years now. He was 75kg back then, too small for me. We were never friends.”

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Alvarez in Spanish.

 Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: A New Foe for Broner and an Intriguing Heavyweight Match-up

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Boxing Odds and Ends: A New Foe for Broner and an Intriguing Heavyweight Match-up

BLK Prime’s inaugural venture went off without a hitch. An announced crowd of 14,630 turned out in Omaha to watch native son Terence Crawford dismantle David Avanesyan. BLK Prime’s second promotion, slated for Feb. 25 at a 5,000-seat venue in Atlanta, has been messy from the get-go. The executives at the fledgling company, based in Hayward, California, are learning to their dismay that the sport of professional boxing is governed by Murphy’s Law: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

Adrien Broner’s nickname is “The Problem” (how perfect!) but the problem isn’t him but finding a suitable opponent for the former four-division title holder who purportedly signed a three-fight deal with BLK Prime that will pay him an absurd $10 million. As reported in a story that ran on these pages last week, Broner’s original opponent Ivan Redkach pulled out and was replaced by Hank Lundy. Today (Tuesday, Jan. 24) it was revealed that Lundy was also off the card and would be replaced by Michael Williams Jr.

Prior to being lopped off the card, it was reported that Hank Lundy had been suspended by the California Athletic Commission for failing to honor his contract to fight up-and-comer Ernesto Mercado (8-0, 8 KOs) on Feb. 4. The match was to be an 8-rounder in Ontario, California. According to prominent boxing writer Jake Donovan, Lundy provided paperwork to the California commission showing that he was unable to keep his commitment because of a cut he suffered in sparring.

Some state athletic commissions automatically honor a suspension handed down in another jurisdiction. Other commissions evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis. It’s a fair guess that had Lundy kept quiet about the (alleged) injury, the Georgia commission would have allowed the Broner-Lundy match to go forward. Regardless, he’s out and, barring more upheaval, Broner (pictured) will be touching gloves with Michael Williams Jr.

The son of an Army veteran who serves as his chief trainer, Williams Jr, 23, was born in Fort Riley, Kansas, and grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina, home to Fort Bragg. As a pro, he’s 20-1 with 13 KOs but those 20 wins came against a motley bunch of opponents and he failed miserably on the one occasion that he stepped up in class. On Dec. 11, 2021, he was stopped in four rounds by fellow unbeaten John Bauza on a Top Rank card at Madison Square Garden. Williams suffered five knockdowns before the match was halted. “He’s got a lot to work on. There are some glaring issues here,” said ringside TV commentator Andre Ward.

Although the Fayetteville area has long had a reputation as pugilistic feed lot (a place where boxers go to fatten up their records), the feeling is that Williams may have been awed by his surroundings that night in the Big Apple, hence his poor showing. During the early portion of his career, he was co-trained by Roy Jones Jr who reportedly hooked up with the young junior welterweight after witnessing him bully a bunch of ex-cons while sparring at a gym in New Orleans.

Does he have the tools to make things interesting against Adrien Broner? Likely not, but Broner tends to fight down to his level of competition, so it wouldn’t surprise us if Williams wins a few rounds.

Heavyweights at the Crossroads

SHOWTIME drops anchor in San Antonio on Feb. 11 with a card headlined by a match between Rey Vargas and O’Shaquie Foster. They will compete for the WBC 130-pound world title vacated by Shakur Stevenson.

Truth be told, this isn’t a contest that gets our juices flowing. The undefeated Vargas, who has won world titles at 122 and 127, is a solid technician but doesn’t fight with pizzazz. He hasn’t won a fight inside the distance since 2016. Foster is on a nice roll – he’s won nine straight, advancing his record to 19-2 — but likewise lacks charisma.

The pay-per-view opener, however, seized our interest. It’s that very rare contest between two rising heavyweights at the same juncture of their respective careers. On paper there’s little to choose between Viktor Faust (11-0, 7 KOs) and Lenier Pero (8-0, 5 KOs). Both are the same age (30), are roughly the same size (in the six-foot-five and 240-pound range) and were outstanding amateurs.

Faust

Viktor Faust, aka Viktor Vykhryst, is from the Ukraine. In 2017, he won the European amateur title, defeating future Olympian Frazer Clarke in the finals. He turned pro in 2020, spurning an opportunity to represent Ukraine in the Tokyo Olympics.

Faust, says prospect watcher Matt Andrzejewski, is extremely fluid for his size and his hand speed is well above average. He also has one-punch knockout power as he demonstrated in his third pro fight when he starched the Spaniard, Gabriel Enguema. However, his most recent fight on U.S. soil, a match in Hollywood, Florida, against Iago kiladze, left many questions unanswered.

This was a wild and wooly affair that ended in the second minute of the second round. Kiladze was down three times and Faust twice during the tumult. Because Kiladze was on the small size for a heavyweight, one was left wondering whether Faust could have weathered the storm if he were matched against a bigger man.

Since that scuffle, Faust has added two more wins to his ledger, comfortable 8-round decisions over 40-something gatekeepers Kevin Johnson and Franklin Lawrence.

Pero

Lenier Pero, a Cuban defector, was never an Olympian, but had a more extensive amateur career. He was 9-3 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing but what really stands out is that he was 5-1 against countryman Frank Sanchez who has made great headway as a pro since leaving Cuba in 2017 and is currently ranked #3 by the WBC and #2 by the WBO.

Although the amateur careers of Faust and Pero overlapped, their paths never crossed. However, Faust did fight Lenier’s younger brother Dainier Pero who is currently 2-0 as a pro and may actually be a better prospect than his sibling. Faust and Dainier Pero met in 2018 at a tournament in the Ukraine and the Cuban won a close decision.

Perhaps that’s an omen. Regardless, Lenier Pero looks like the right side in what has the earmarks of an entertaining shootout.

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David Benavidez and Caleb Plant Both Want ‘Canelo’ Álvarez

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American Fighter David Benavidez has been in constant pursuit of an opportunity to face Canelo Álvarez and, until now, it has been an unrealizable dream. For his compatriot Caleb Plant, his match up with Canelo in 2021 resulted in a resounding loss.

For several years, Benavidez has been trying to cross gloves with Mexican star Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs), who has avoided facing him despite receiving countless criticisms from boxing fans.

Undefeated in the ranks, everything indicates that today Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) is closer than ever to finally matching up against Canelo, the current holder of the four most prestigious super middleweight titles in boxing: WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO.

Previously, by order of the WBC, Benavidez faced Canadian David Lemieux (43-5, 36 KOs), to whom he applied chloroform in the third round in Glendale, Arizona, where the winner conquered the Interim title of that sanctioning body.

After the victory, the WBC declared that Benavidez had the obligation to collide with Caleb Plant (22-1, 13 KOs), who was ranked the number one contender by both the WBA and the WBO and third by the IBF.

According to Mauricio Sulaimán, president of the WBC, the winner between Benavidez and Plant becomes the mandatory challenger for Canelo in a battle for that organization’s belt.

However, the future seems quite complicated for the winner between Benavidez and Plant, since Canelo is currently in negotiations with British southpaw John Ryder (32-5, 18 KOs) to fight in May and, subsequently, in September, to carry out the rematch against Russian Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs), who defeated him unanimously on May 7 of last year at the T-Mobile Arena where the European retained the WBA light heavyweight belt.

Benavidez has been outspoken about Canelo’s refusal to face him: He (Canelo) knows I’m the biggest threat at 168.” Benavidez stressed the fact that Canelo avoids him because he knows that if he accepts the fight, the same thing will happen to him as against Dmitry Bivol, an adversary who is also larger and equally as strong as the Mexican redhead.

Despite the efforts and multiple statements by Benavidez (also by José Benavidez Sr, his father and trainer), Canelo has always chosen other adversaries with the excuse that Benavidez has not fought any elite rivals that would make him worthy of the opportunity.

CALEB PLANT WANTS REVENGE AGAINST CANELO

“That wasn’t my best camp going into that fight,” said Plant about last year’s battle with Canelo, “but, regardless, that’s not the reason I lost. I lost because I got caught with a great shot and I got stopped.” Plant was clear about wanting to meet Canelo in the ring again. “I want a rematch with Canelo. If I have to pick up every last top super middleweight in the division to get to that, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Canelo’s victory against Plant at the T-Mobile Arena in November 2021 made him the first boxer from Latin America with the four most important titles, in any weight category. But six months later, in May of last year, Álvarez suffered the second setback of his career, losing unanimously to Bivol who retained his WBA “super” title belt at 175 pounds.

Four years ago, on January 13, 2019, Plant won the IBF belt, unanimously defeating Venezuelan José Uzcátegui (32-5, 27 KOs) at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Uzcátegui went to the canvas in both the second and fourth rounds. Plant lost the IBF title in the unification match against Canelo, a title that Plant had defended three times prior.

Mauricio Sulaimán confirmed to several media outlets that the winner of the upcoming battle between Benavidez and Plant will be the mandatory challenger for Canelo’s WBC super-middleweight title. Per ESPN’s Mike Coppinger, Benavidez vs Plant will take place on March 25th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Alvarez in Spanish.

 Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

To comment on this story in the fight Forum CLICK HERE

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