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Battle Hymn – Part 7: Sugar On The Sidewalk

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Chuck Burroughs’ sixty years in the Peoria, Illinois boxing scene began in the crowded backseat of Jack Beaty’s reo. A Golden Gloves champion who later became a referee, ring announcer, corner man, journalist, author, and local historian, Burroughs kept tabs on his old teammates long after their fighting days ended. When he died, several of his scrapbooks were donated to the Peoria Public Library. I tracked them down, hoping to unearth more about the Little Tiger. Burroughs didn’t disappoint.

He had chronicled Peoria’s Golden Gloves history and devoted a long paragraph to “Peoria’s first Negro Golden Glove Champ” Aaron Wade. There is a curious scrap of information midway through it that says Wade was “chief sparring partner for Sugar Ray when he was welterweight champ.” Robinson, of course, was a Harlemite. I knew Wade had been living in New York since 1945. After the embarrassing loss to Wylie Burns in 1947, Wade had no income and one marketable skill; Burroughs’ detail shines a light on where he wandered off to after that loss.

Robinson was scheduled to face Steve Belloise on December 9, 1948. His workouts were held at the Uptown Gymnasium at 252 W. 116th Street and Wade was a sparring partner. On the morning of the fight, national newspapers announced that the bout was cancelled “due to an injury Robinson is reported to have suffered in training.” The write-ups were heavy on details, but neither the Belloise camp nor the boxing beat was buying it.

Already lauded as perhaps “the greatest boxer in history,” Robinson was also despised by many insiders for what they saw as imperiousness. He had a history of mistreating sparring partners. He ran out on contracts. He postponed bouts. The Belloise bout had already been postponed from its original date and ticket sales were lagging when Robinson’s injury was announced. The event, said the New York Herald-Tribune, cost $40,000 though “less than $15,000 was in the till.” It was suspicious enough to force a public explanation from the champion: “It happened in the last minute of my three-round workout with Tiger Wade here on Monday,” Robinson said. “Wade’s a 170-pounder. He hit me with a right uppercut down here. I felt like he stabbed me with a knife.”

Doctors were marched out to reassure a doubting press that Robinson had indeed suffered a separation between the sixth and seventh ribs. Reporters were invited to feel the egg-sized lump under his heart for further proof. Many did, and the fact of his injury had to be accepted. Given the fact that the sparring partner who did it was a once-feared puncher, Robinson’s explanation of how he was injured was likewise accepted.

But Robinson was lying.

Two years ago, boxing historian J.J. Johnston told me about a rumor he had heard. The rumor said that the Little Tiger had once knocked down Robinson outside of a Boston gym. I spent weeks sifting for more leads only to find that the past had pulled the shade. I filed the rumor away. About a month ago I was flipping through pages of Burroughs’ Peoria scrapbook and my eyes darted to a glittering sentence: “Whipped Sugar Ray in a street fight over some money Sugar owed him.” Now that’s independent corroboration, which makes a rumor more than a rumor. However, it still wasn’t enough to justify publishing it—Robinson’s name is like thunder in the boxing world, even today. I needed confirmation, and found it on microfilm at the Boston Public Library.

The Boston Post folded in 1956. Its circulation was in a free-fall in the forties, though it still had at least one shoe-leather reporter in Gerry Hern. As news of Robinson’s so-called sparring injury and the fight cancellation hit the stands, Hern was turning up primary sources. One of them was unnamed but was almost certainly Little Tiger Wade, and Wade had a tale to tell.

“There was nothing accidental about Robinson’s rib separation,” Hern revealed in an article published Friday, December 10,1948. “It was the result of trying to shave the overhead a little bit, his own personal overhead, for the fight.” Here’s what happened: Robinson and Wade sparred the previous Tuesday at the Uptown Gymnasium. Robinson, feeling the pinch of the lagging ticket sales for his fight Thursday, told Wade that he would have to accept less money than promised. Wade objected at first, then relented. “What can I do about it,” he said. “You’re the boss. I’ve got to take it.”

Wade left the gym, but changed his mind and waited for the champion on the sidewalk. When Robinson came out, Wade confronted him. “I want all the dough or none,” he said. “I’m just a punk in this business but I want my money.” Robinson, said Hern, starting telling “his broken-down sparring partner that he would be lucky to get anything—but he didn’t finish. Wade fired his Sunday punch that knocked Robinson to the sidewalk and then gave him a brisk going-over.”

The spectacle of a member of Murderers’ Row finally closing the distance on Robinson and punishing him is startling. Is it poetic justice? Robinson later wrote an article for Ebony magazine defending his business acumen. “A broke fighter is a pitiful sight,” he said. “I’ve seen too many of them not to have learned a lesson or two. Great boxing skill is no sure guarantee that a fighter won’t end up hungry and raggedy. Most fighters end up broke.” Then he offered a little advice. “A fighter these days must express himself, must speak up when he thinks he’s being shoved around.”

It could be said that Wade ‘expressed himself’ on behalf of many; on behalf of many on Murderers’ Row.

The pair would have another ill-fated encounter in February 1950. Robinson was scheduled for a main event in Savannah, Georgia, when his scheduled opponent got shot in New Orleans. The local promoter, Buster White, was desperate to find a substitute; a black substitute, to be precise, because southern law prohibited fair fights between the races. Robinson’s manager remembered that Aaron Wade always needed a buck. For all intents and purposes, Wade had been retired for 793 days; he needed a few bucks.

The doors to the Municipal Auditorium opened at 8:30pm on February 15. “Ladies and gentleman, tonight you will see one of the greatest champions of all time,” the program said. “Robinson could easily become a triple champion if given the opportunity to fight for the middleweight and light-heavyweight titles.” Two thousand black and white citizens streamed in by separate entrances. The blacks were seated in the balcony, the whites around the ring. During the main event, they were booing together.

“Ray battered his stocky, keg-like foe savagely,” said the Savannah Morning News. “Mostly he put on a beautiful combination of foot-work and body weaving which left the Tiger shadow boxing.” Robinson’s “favorite stunt” was to grab the rope with his right glove and leave his left free to “tantalize and punish Wade by smearing that hand all over the Tiger’s face and body.” It was an artistic display. It seemed a little too artistic. Wade fell five times in the second round. The first time seemed more like a slip. The second time saw him “dumped on his rear end through the ropes.” The third time Wade went down, “it looked for certain that the glove missed Wade’s face altogether and caught him in the shoulder instead. At any rate, he went down again.”

The crowd was wild between the second and third round, more “at Wade’s taste for canvas than in appreciation for Ray’s aptitude.” Before the bell, Robinson stood up and gestured that he would bring the fiasco to a conclusion. When the third round began, he set out to do so and, reads the article, “Wade seemed willing to cooperate.”

The Savannah Evening Press was also suspicious. “The Tiger—let’s call him Aaron—,” it said, “began hitting the canvas for apparently no reason at all. As Robinson moved within firing range the husky Wade repeatedly fell to the canvas.” Waldo Spence, sports editor for the Press, got right to the point: “Robinson never during the evening hit Wade with a solid punch.”

Years later, Wade privately confirmed what many thought they saw that night. He told his son he had taken a dive. When Alan told me, a shadow crossed my mind. I had to ask “—did Robinson know?” It turns out that he had asked his father that very question. His father shook his head. “Robinson had nothing to do with it.”

“Who approached your father?” I asked Alan. “It was the promoters,” he said. “They told him to go down in three rounds for a few hundred dollars.”

Alan had one other detail he could recall. Wade, he said, had asked the promoters if he could go “five or six rounds.” It was, I suppose, an attempt to salvage whatever scrap of pride he had left. But they turned him down. “Three,” they said.

I found it a little sad.

 

 

 

 

 


“WhyI’m the Bad Boy of Boxing,” by Sugar Ray Robinson (Ebony, November 1950); Savannah Morning News 2/22, 23/50; New York Times 2/23/50; Savannah Evening Press, 2/23/1950; Behind the Moss Curtain by Murray Silver (2002), pp. 238-239.

Special thanks to J.J. Johnston.

Springs Toledo can be contacted at scalinatella@hotmail.com .

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Arne’s Almanac: The Australian Boxing Renaissance and More

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A new junior middleweight champion emerged this past Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The World Boxing Organization (which uses the nomenclature junior middleweight instead of super welterweight) had made it known that it planned to strip Jermell Charlo of his 154-pound title for taking the fight with Canelo Alvarez and that adjudication took effect the moment the bell sounded to signify the start of the contest.

Charlo was displaced by Tim Tszyu (pictured) whose first defense of his newly-acquired title comes in less than two weeks when he touches gloves with Albuquerque’s Brian Mendoza at the Gold Coast Convention Center in Broadbeach, Queensland, Australia.

There are often hoots of derision when a fighter is anointed a title-holder without actually winning the diadem in the ring, but not in this instance. Tszyu (23-0, 17 KOs) would have been favored over Charlo if they had met and this would have been true even before Jermell’s hollow performance against Canelo.

Earlier that same day, WBO cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia returned to the ring after a 15-month absence and demolished Jordan Thompson at London’s Wembley Stadium. Although Opetaia (23-0, 18 KOs) was a massive favorite, he yet turned heads by winning every minute of the fight until it was halted after only 20 seconds of round four.

Australia now has three world title-holders, two of whom (Opetaia and Tszyu) are considered the best fighters in their respective weight classes. The other is Jason Moloney who recently won the WBO bantamweight title vacated by Naoya Inoue. And for whatever it’s worth, the Land Down Under has a fourth title-holder in IBF female bantamweight champion Ebanie Bridges.

There may be more in the pipeline. Sam Goodman (15-0, 7 KOs) is rated #1 at 122 pounds by the IBF and WBO. Tim Tszyu’s younger brother Nikita Tszyu (7-0, 6 KOs) has the look of a future champion and some folks are high on heavyweight Justis Huni (7-0, 4 KOs) who fights later this month in Cancun, Mexico with Andrew Tabiti in the opposite corner.

Things go in cycles and right now this is something of a golden era for Australian boxing.

Weekend Afterthoughts

The Showtime PPV topped by the Canelo-Charlo fight started swimmingly. The lid-lifter between middleweights Elijah Garcia and Jose Armando Resendiz was a doozy. Garcia, a 20-year-old southpaw from the Phoenix area, eventually assumed command and put Resendiz away in the eighth, but not before Resendiz showed that his upset of former title-holder Jarrett Hurd was no fluke.

The show went downhill from there. The second fight, pitting Mario Barrios and against Yordenis Ugas, the last man to defeat Manny Pacquiao, wasn’t a bad fight but too one-sided to provide great entertainment. Barrios, who had previously lost to Gervonta Davis and Keith Thurman, got his career back on track with a lopsided 12-round decision.

This reporter anticipated that the co-feature between super welterweights Jesus Ramos and Erickson Lubin would be a stirring battle with Ramos prevailing to maintain his undefeated record. I was wrong on both counts, dead wrong on the “stirring” part.

Far from a fan-friendly scrap, Ramos vs. Lubin was a snoozer. Lubin got the nod and although many thought Ramos was robbed, don’t look for a rematch any time soon. Concocting a sequel would bring back a bad memory.

The main event wasn’t much better. Jermell Charlo has been roundly excoriated on social media for his tepid effort. The folks that ponied up the dough to buy the pay-per-view didn’t get their money’s worth. But that’s boxing, the Theater of the Unexpected as Larry Merchant once phrased it.

The New GGG?

Buried on last Saturday’s Canelo-Charlo undercard was a 6-round contest between super middleweights Bek Nurmaganbet and Abimbola Osundairo. A 25-year-old Kazakh, Nurmaganbet advanced his record to 11-0 with a third-round stoppage. Nine of his wins have come inside the distance including the last seven, all of which ended inside three rounds.

Osundairo, a 30-year-old Chicago-based Nigerian, was a 2021 USA National Champion at 178 pounds. He was 5-0 in the pro ranks. Last year, he returned to his African homeland and won a 12-round contest to claim a regional title. On paper, he was a good match for the Kazakh.

For some readers, the name Osundairo may be vaguely familiar. That’s because he was involved in a bogus fight that became a major news story. The party of the other part, who offered no resistance, was actor Jussie Smollett.

Abimbola and his brother Olabinjo were paid to simulate an attack on Smollett which they carried out at 2 am on Jan. 29, 2019, on a street in downtown Chicago. Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed to be the victim of a hate crime, but developments would show that it was all a hoax. A jury found Smollett guilty on five counts related to the obstruction of justice and he was released on bond when his attorneys filed notice of an appeal.

Although Bek Nurmaganbet has built his record on the backs of no-name opponents, it’s worth noting that only one of those opponents had a losing record. Is he the successor to Gennady Golovkin as the next great KO artist from Kazakhstan? That may be asking too much, but remember his name; he bears watching.

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The Hauser Report: Jim Lampley and Bob Sheridan

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Two of boxing’s greatest blow-by-blow commentators were in the news last week. On Saturday night, Jim Lampley returned to the sweet science but in a role that was different from the one he’d enjoyed for decades at HBO. Sadly, three days earlier, Bob Sheridan died.

Let’s start with Lampley.

With all due respect to Sheridan (we’ll talk about his remarkable body of work later), Lampley is widely regarded as the greatest blow-by-blow commentator in boxing history. He was separated from the boxing scene when HBO stopped televising fights five years ago and resurfaced in a new role with PPV.com at Canelo Alvarez vs. Jermell Charlo.

PPV.com is a division of InDemand and streams various entertainment events. As part of its business, it streamed Canelo-Charlo in English and Spanish in the United States and Canada as a source of ancillary pay-per-view income for the promotion.

On August 22, PPV.com announced that Lampley and Lance Pugmire would co-host a live viewer chat during Canelo-Charlo. In keeping with his duties, Jim was in Las Vegas during fight week to generate interest in the fight and PPV.com.

Lampley arrived in Las Vegas on Tuesday night. He was a constant presence at media events, conducting interviews and being interviewed about the fight. His presence benefited the promotion by enlarging the pool of potential buyers who became aware of Canelo-Charlo. And the attention that Jim received was a boon for PPV.com, which became a talked-about alternative platform for buying the fight.

Lampley introduced himself to his PPV.com audience on fight night at 5:04 PM west coast time with a post that read, “After almost 5 years away from live boxing, the entire last 4 days in Las Vegas and the MGM Grand Hotel, the noise, the lights, the people, it’s been a hallucinogenic experience.”

When the judges awarded Erickson Lubin a stunningly bad decision over Jesus Ramos, Jim declared, “So I spent four years plus away from boxing, and I guess the judging didn’t get fixed.”

Lampley is a superb ambassador for boxing. His involvement with Canelo-Charlo was good for the entire promotion, not just PPV.com. But fight-night chats aren’t the best medium for Jim’s talent. And PPV.com shouldn’t be his end destination.

Part of the Jim Lampley experience for fans has always been the electric quality of his voice, a voice that generated excitement. By definition, that voice is missing in a written chat. Also, Lampley had an unmatched ability to view ring action and synthesize it into concise, perfectly-worded sound bites as it was unfolding, not several seconds afterward. In a written chat, that quality is lost in transition.

Jim Lampley belongs at ringside behind a microphone, not a keyboard.

Bob Sheridan plied his trade for decades. He had a distinctive announcing style and larger-than-life personality coupled with a love for boxing and the people he met in it.

 Sixteen years ago, I profiled “The Colonel” (as Sheridan was known). Bob’s resume grew even more impressive after that, capped by his 2016 induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. My original article about Bob is republished below as a tribute to a man whose enthusiasm for the sweet science was contagious.

Bob Sheridan was first behind the microphone for a fight in 1966. Since then, he has called more than 800 championship bouts and become an integral part of boxing’s historical soundtrack. From radio to broadcast television to closed-circuit to pay-per-view; been there, done that.

Bob Sheridan

Bob Sheridan

Sheridan is the international voice of boxing. He’s the commentator for the foreign-rights feed on most major bouts held in the United States and also for many fights overseas that are transmitted by satellite to the US. He was at ringside when Muhammad Ali battled George Foreman in Zaire and Joe Frazier in Manila. He has called the fights of legends like Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, and Roberto Duran. He was behind the microphone when Mike Tyson bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear. In large swaths of the world, his voice is synonymous with the sweet science.

Sheridan’s parents were born in 1905; his mother in County Mayo and his father in County Longford. Both of them came to the United States as toddlers.

Bob was born in Boston in 1944. “None of my grandparents were educated people,” he says. “But they were very family-oriented and wise. My father’s father, James Sheridan, was a sheet-metal worker in Boston, who died before I could know him. He passed the trade on to my father, who later became a building contractor. My maternal grandfather, Andrew Dougherty, was a farmer in New Hampshire. He knew a lot about Irish history and politics and talked endlessly to me about them.”

Sheridan went to college on a baseball scholarship at the University of Miami. “Baseball was my first love,” he says. He graduated in 1966 and, that summer, played a few games at third base for the Miami Marlins, who were a Class-A farm team for the Baltimore Orioles. “There was never any chance I’d stay with the club,” he acknowledges. “I’d been brought in to fill a spot until some kid they’d signed out of high school joined the team.”

His first year out of college, Sheridan also taught physical education in the Dade County school system and hosted his own radio talk show on WDER-FM, a small station in Miami. “I bought my own airtime,” he remembers. “It cost ten dollars for a two-hour slot between 6:00 AM and 8:00 AM every Sunday morning. If I sold more than ten dollars in ads, I made a profit.”

But WDER-FM led to bigger things. The general manager for the Florida Marlins was Bill Durney, who co-hosted a radio show on WGBS (a major Florida station) with Red Barber. Barber was semi-retired and living in the Sunshine State. In earlier years, he’d been a radio and television baseball play-by-play announcer of legendary proportions. Durney introduced Sheridan to Barber.

“When I was young,” Sheridan says, picking up the story, “I wanted to be Babe Ruth. I had a pretty wild lifestyle, and I used to tell people that I was Babe Ruth reincarnated, except I’d been born four years before Babe died and I couldn’t play ball like him. However, I did have a tremendous ability to talk, and Red hired me. At first, I lined up interviews for him and read the sports news on his show. Then my role expanded. Red taught me a lot about the business. I learned from him that it doesn’t all come from the top of your head. There’s research and preparation. I prepare for every fight today like it was my first. I prepare for each undercard fight the same way I prepare for the main event. I learned that from Red Barber.”

Working with Barber gave Sheridan exposure throughout Florida. Then boxing entered his life.

The first fight that Sheridan had seen in person was Cassius Clay’s conquest of Sonny Liston in Miami Beach on February 25, 1964.

“Chris Dundee, the on-site promoter, called our baseball coach at Miami and asked if he could send some kids over to the arena to sell Coke at the fight,” Bob remembers. “Half a dozen of us went. I think a Coke sold for a quarter back then. We each made about four dollars, but I wasn’t there for the money. I was there for the fight. Clay wasn’t the most popular guy in the world, but I liked him. When the main event started, I stopped selling Coke, sat down in an aisle about twelve feet from the ring, and watched the fight. Of course, none of us had any idea of the magnitude of the history that was being made.”

In late-1966, Sheridan began calling Chris Dundee’s fights in Miami on WGBS radio. Boxing was a popular sport back then. There were fights in town every week, and Sheridan’s work became increasingly popular. “The more you do, the better you get,” he says. “And as I improved, more things fell into place.”

Dundee started taking Sheridan to fights out of town. He was hired to do radio color commentary for University of Miami football games. The first championship fight he called was Jerry Quarry against Jimmy Ellis for the WBA heavyweight title in 1968. Television work followed.

By the mid-1970s, Sheridan had gained a considerable following. Then his life took an unusual detour. He moved to Ireland and began raising cattle on a small farm in County Clare. “It’s hard to relate to city people the pleasures of working on a farm,” he says. “But remember; my grandfather was a farmer, and I loved horses and cattle.”

Sheridan owned ten acres in County Clare, leased a hundred more and, at one point, had two hundred head of cattle.” Then the detour got stranger.

“I figured I was breeding cattle and raising them, so why not ride them,” he remembers. “I tell people, I was always a bullshitter so bull-riding was the next logical step. Anyway, I took up rodeo bull-riding. In retrospect, it was crazy. This was before flak jackets. There were a lot of bruises and I broke my back one time at a rodeo in Arkansas. I’d fly from Shannon to the United States, do a rodeo, and fly back home again. For a while, I was Aer Lingus’s number-one non-commercial account. The last time I got on a bull was in 1981 at Madison Square Garden. I got bucked off in two seconds. The chute wasn’t even shut before I was off. After that, I stopped. But it was a very enjoyable period in my life. Rodeo cowboys are great athletes and fun guys to be around. The characters in rodeo are like the characters in boxing.”

In late-1981, Sheridan left the cattle business and moved back to Boston. “I loved every minute of it,” he says. “But land became too expensive to lease.” He now lives in Las Vegas with his wife of ten years, the former Annie Kelly, who was born in County Tipperary.

“I was a hard-drinking womanizing single guy for a long time,” Sheridan acknowledges. “I was married once before to another Irish girl, and it was a horrible marriage because I wasn’t mature enough to handle it. Whatever went wrong in that one, I’ll take responsibility for it. I’m a much better husband now.”

In addition to being a better husband, Sheridan is also now a fixture on the international boxing scene. He’s behind the microphone for forty fight cards annually, but that doesn’t begin to tell the story of his travels. In one seven-week stretch last year, he was ringside for fights in Memphis, the Philippines, St. Louis, Las Vegas, Boise, and South Africa. In 2005, he visited Australia eleven times.

Here, it should be noted that Sheridan has had four heart attacks and twelve angio-plasties. “I have heart attacks like other people have the flu,” he jokes. But in the next sentences, he adds,” Any health problems I’ve had are the result of genetics and eating and drinking too much. Don’t blame boxing; the traveling isn’t a problem. I get a bit tired sometimes, but there’s always an adrenaline rush when the fights begin.”

“I love boxing,” Sheraton says as his thoughts return to the sweet science. “It’s the purest sport in the world; it’s the greatest sport in the world. And my enthusiasm for it is one of my strengths as an announcer. I’m not a journalist. I don’t focus on the negative when I’m commentating. Sure, boxing has problems, but other sports have problems too. My job as a boxing commentator is to give people the facts and entertain the public. I never forget the brutality of boxing and how dangerous it is. I was tough enough to get on the back of a bull again and again. I’m not tough enough to be a fighter. But boxing takes poor kids without hope like Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson and elevates them to a place where they’re among the most famous people on the planet. And each fight is an event. Nothing excites me more than two great fighters getting in the ring for a championship fight.”

“There’s an old saying,” Sheridan observes in closing. “If you find a job you love, you never have to do a day’s work in your life. When I’m behind the microphone, I’m happy.”

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – The Universal Sport: Two Years Inside Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. In 2019, Hauser was selected for boxing’s highest honor – induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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Canelo Alvarez Returns to Form; Proves Too Strong for Jermell Charlo

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Canelo Alvarez Returns to Form; Proves Too Strong for Jermell Charlo

Daring to be great does not guarantee success.

Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez powered his way past fellow undisputed but lighter world champion Jermell Charlo for a unanimous decision in front of a pro-Mexican crowd who cheered every attack by their champion on Saturday.

The difference in weight proved daunting.

A seemingly refreshed Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs) returned to form in soundly defeating Houston’s Charlo (35-2-1, 19 KOs) who fired back like the champion he is at the T-Mobile Arena. More than 60 percent of the crowd seemed overwhelmingly pro-Canelo.

It was Canelo’s night and he was not going to disappoint.

Though his recent performances had been subpar, the real Canelo showed up looking sharp from the opening bell. He was not underestimating Charlo, a fellow pound-for-pound fighter according to many boxing publications.

After a tenuous opening round the fight slipped into its real rhythm in the second round as the taller and more slippery moving fighter decided to engage. While inside the range of fire, Charlo opened up with jabs and a crisp left hook. Canelo stalked the taller fighter and connected twice with combinations to the head and body. Neither fighter was hurt. Charlo showcased a fast triple jab. But when he tried to clinch, he was tossed away like a dangling tree branch by the stronger Alvarez.

It was a telling moment.

“I’m a strong fighter all the time. Nobody can beat Canelo,” said Alvarez.

In the third round Alvarez fired three rapid jabs and a right to the body that left the crowd in a collective exasperation. A right uppercut by Charlo connected and he was met by Canelo attacking the body viciously. Charlo held on twice.

It became apparent that Charlo could not handle Alvarez’s power and strength inside the pocket. And whenever he clinched he was met by powerful left hook shots to the body and a right to the head.

Charlo showed a very good chin and resilience despite getting pounded occasionally by the Mexican redhead’s body attack. It’s why he was undisputed super welterweight champion.

The fighter from Houston was gambling that he could match wits against boxing’s biggest draw. He was gambling that Alvarez’s recent performances were proof that he was ready to be toppled. And Charlo was not going to shy away from the fire.

The lanky Texas fighter showed brilliant speed and solid defense to go along with his championship heart. In the seventh round. Canelo pressured Charlo against the ropes with three jabs and a quick right to the forehead, followed by a right uppercut to Charlo’s chin. After a few seconds Charlo dropped to a knee for the count. He survived.

“We worked on that. He’s a great fighter and knows how to work in the ring,” said Alvarez.

For the remainder of the match, Alvarez remained in stalking mode and Charlo looking to counter with left hooks and an occasional right uppercut. Nothing seemed to work for Charlo who was hoping the rise from 154-pounds to 168-pounds would not prove a problem. It was.

After 12 rounds all three judges scored in favor of Alvarez 119-108, 118-109 twice. He retains the undisputed super middleweight world championship. Charlo will go back down to super welterweight where he reigned supreme.

“I wasn’t me tonight. This is boxing. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” said Charlo who was knocked down for only the second time in his career. “Truthfully, you can tell the difference in the weight.”

Alvarez hugged Charlo after the fight and told him he respected the gamble Charlo accepted in moving up.

“I love boxing so f——g much. Boxing is my life,” said Alvarez.

Other Bouts

In a battle between reluctant contenders, Erickson Lubin captured the win by unanimous decision over Arizona’s Jesus Ramos to maintain his place in line for a world title match.

“I stuck to the game plan. We came back with the victory tonight,” said Lubin.

“I was in control of the fight. I’m one of the top dogs in the division.”

Both super welterweights seemed hesitant to open up with any semblance of combinations. Lubin countered while Ramos worked the body with jabs. After 12 low-key rounds Lubin was declared the winner by scores of 115-113, 116-112, 117-111.

Ramos was surprised but never really formed an all-out attack.

“I was trying to show different dimensions to my game,” Ramos said. “Maybe a little bit more pressure.”

Mario Barrios (28-2, 18 Ks) put it all together and defeated Yordenis Ugas (27-6, 12 KOs) in a battle between ex-world champions. That left jab and left hook did all the work in picking apart Cuba’s excellent fighter Ugas.

“I just concentrated on my jab,” Barrios said.

Knockdowns by Barrios in the second and twelfth round proved emphatically the difference between the two former champions.

“All the work I put in paid off. Early on he hurt me with a right liver shot,” said Barrios who trained in Las Vegas with Bob Santos. “I knew he was coming with it. I was prepared.”

A counter left hook dropped Ugas twice.

Arizona’s Elijah Garcia (16-0, 13 KOs) out-slugged Mexico’s Armando Resendiz (14-2, 10 KOs) in a spirited middleweight battle and stopped the fighter in the eighth round. The 20-year-old southpaw from Phoenix connected with a powerful right hook that Resendiz did not see and that ended the regional title fight at 1:23 of the eighth round.

“He was 100 percent my toughest opponent,” said Garcia.

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