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Cam F. Awesomem A Super Heavy Talent and Weird in a Good Way

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The modern day journalist, under pressure to churn out copy while staving off anxiety which comes from being in a business which has seen laborers battle a downward trend in wage growth, has to be careful not to fall prey to taking available shortcuts.

Hello, Wikipedia.

It’s all there, or enough to get you started, and acquainted enough with the life and doings of a subject you are writing about.

Except when it’s not all there.

Or what is there is riddled with inaccuracies, or glaring omissions, known maybe only to the subject of the entry, giving only a minimal portion of the total picture of the man.

I took a look at the Wikipedia entry for the man formerly known as Lenroy Thompson after seeing his name cross the wires a couple weeks ago, highlighting his successful participation at the Pan American Olympic Festival in Mexico City. “Cam F. Awesome Wins Gold Medal,” I read. And did a triple take.

Wait…what’s the guys name? Real name can’t be Awesome, can it? And lord, I hope the F stands for what I think it does. I thought to myself, chuckling dementedly.

I reached out to Julie Goldsticker, who does PR work for the USA Boxing program, and told her I’d like to speak to Mr. Awesome.

She quickly replied. Sure thing Mike. I think you’ll enjoy talking to him.

Indeed I did, Julie.

Awesome, who was born on Long Island, New York with the name “Lenroy Thompson,” is a standout at super heavyweight for team USA, a program which is working towards reconfiguring their mission and their result in competition. The women involved in the program have no shame in their game, as was hinted out in Mexico City, where Queen Underwood, Marlen Esparza and ace Claressa Shields all took golds, along with Awesome. You’ll recall Shields excelled at the 2012 Olympics, where she won gold, and Esparza impressed with a bronze effort. Among the fellas, only Errol Spence managed to make it to the quarterfinals.

I do confess, I will now be keeping track of Awesome’s progress and will be rooting for him to keep on winning, and get into the 2016 Games, in Brazil, and thrive in golden fashion, because to me, the world is well served when such free thinkers as someone bold enough to change their last name to “Awesome” are out and about and making noise.

My regard for Awesome ticked up almost immediately, when during a phoner I asked about that Wikipedia entry and he filled me in. “I’m not sure who put it together, but I was going to get on there, and fix some things, but then I got lazy,” Awesome said.

Point given for admirable honesty…

Now, the lefty-stance super heavy was indeed born in Uniondale, he informed me. He took up boxing at age 17, right after he graduated from high school, and found he made quick strides in the squared circle realm. He advanced to the US Championships in 2007, losing in the semis to Michael Hunter, currently a pro, and took part in the Olympic Trials. In 2008, Awesome–who by the way was still known as “Lenroy Thompson,” he didn’t change his name until 2011–took part in the US Nationals. Wikipedia informed me that he took advantage of Hunters’ absence, which allowed him to advance further, where he met and lost to Tor Hamer.

Awesome looked to clear up that “advantage” storyline, and helped me comprehend that he is not a cookie-cutter type who does as he’s told, when he’s told. No, he said, he was the best in the country in that class at that time, he stated, and is proud of the fact that he beat Hamer, who made some noise as a pro a few years ago. I chuckled silently as Awesome digressed, and said, “Hamer is just so weird, he’s really cool, actually. His name sounds like a super hero, right?”

By now living in Florida, Awesome’s path got a bit smoother, and then rockier, which Wikipedia touches on, but with semi-infuriating thinness. He beat Bryant Jennings, who just won a WBC title shot eliminator on July 26, in the National Golden Gloves finals in 2009. He was on a road to the 2012 Olympics, thanks to wins like the one at the 2010 USA Boxing Championship in Colorado. Then the snafu, which Wiki “details” under the heading “Drug Suspension.” USADA, the entry reads, in February 2012 suspended Thompson for a year, for failing to meet requirements regarding his whereabouts, needed to be ascertained so he could be found for out of competition testing. Three times he couldn’t be found, the entry says, in an 18 month timespan.

Hmm, think there might be something implied there? Yep, don’t know whose fingerprints are on this Wiki page, but if it were my entry, I’d hope that the counterfactual argument, or at least explanation, would be asked of me.

Anyway, I asked Thompson what happened there. He told me.

One time he was “AWOL,” he said, came when he was in NY, attending a Nets game. He informed testing agency USADA the house he’d be staying at, and gave them his cell number. He wasn’t at the house when they came requesting a sample, and when they tried calling his cell, he didn’t pick up. Why? Because he had no cell service in the arena. If he’d gotten the call, he’d have been tasked with getting back to that house within 60 minutes. But since he didn’t get the call, it was counted as a “miss.” Another miss came when he filled out some required paperwork for USADA for the Trials, online, past the deadline date. (I confess, not being so great at such tasks, I feel for the guy on this one.) And then, for his third strike, he was competing, in Azerbejian, and forgot to inform the testing folks that he was not at home. Since he was competing for USA Boxing, in an international competition, it strikes me that it wouldn’t have been too hard for the testing people to figure out where he was, but anyway…

Three strikes, and he was out. The whole Lance Armstrong doping kerfuffle was not coincidentally playing out during that time, Awesome notes, so, he thinks, that didn’t help when it came time to ponder punishment. “I feel as though they made an example of me,” he admits.

I grilled him, though. Has he used any illegal PEDs, or banned party drugs, or anything?

“No, I haven’t. Anything that is illegal, I wouldn’t know where to start to find them,” said the guy whose Twitter handle is PlantBasedBoxer, because he’s been vegan for the last two years. “I don’t do any drugs. I am anti pain pills even. No marijuana, no PEDs…I mean, I don’t look like I do anything. I don’t have the build for anyone to say I’m on steroids.”

Ah, but that which doesn’t kill us…

Oh, it might not kill us, but it might make us a bit more skeptical about the ways of the world, the way the powers that be operate, shift standards and practices based on whim and the direction of the wind. Not saying that happened with Thompson, but on Feb. 16, 2013, he had a party for himself, to celebrate the fact that he changed his name. Legally, he changed his name to Cam F. Awesome. “The party celebrated my rebirth,” he told me of the bash in Kansas City, which was attended by about 60 people, some of whom were celebrating a mutual friends’ birthday. So Awesome got his crew together and told them of his switcheroo. “Awesome” was the word stitched on his trunks, and, as he put it, “Because if you chose a name what would you choose? Life is awesome, and everyone is their own life. My life is awesome, I’m grateful for everything I have.” And the Cameron, that’s actually his first-given middle name, and the name he mostly answered too, being that his dad was Lenroy the First, and he didn’t want to be a Junior, and didn’t care for the unisex status of “Cameron.” Oh, and the F…tell me it stands for what I think it stands for, please.

“It stands for anything you want it to,” he told me.

Perfect.

So, at age 25, Awesome has a new name, and a somewhat altered POV of the world. Most of us by 25, I dare say, have had our teeth kicked in once or twice, causing us to shift out of a more simplistic way of thinking about the planet and the people who take up space on it. Ah, but we all still have parents, or elders in our life with frown lines showing deep furrows when we screw up. Like, for instance, when we show up and tell them we changed our last name to “Awesome?”

His parents were a bit surprised, yes. “They know how I am little bit out there,” he admits of his ‘rents, of his mom who came from England and his dad who was born in Trinidad. “My mom was a little confused but no one really questioned me. I’m a child with adult-like resources. I do whatever an eight year old would do if they had the money and power to do it.”

Amen to that…if eight year olds ran the world, there damned well would be peace in the Middle East. OK, and ice cream for breakfast all the time, but you get my point…What we’d spend in dentist bills we’d make up for with the dissolution of the military-industrial complex….

The name change has been basically a pure positive, he said. His name always pops out when media scans a list of 50 or so fighters in a tourney, so it guarantees ink. Now, the downsides….”There are a lot of airport checks. I didn’t see that one coming.”

Awesome for now is loving the experience as he lives the dream which has him traveling to foreign countries, allowing him to compare and contrast persons and systems. It has made him that much more grateful for what he and we all have. He recalls that he went to the Dominican Republic for a tourney, and was told that the place they were staying was in the good part of town. “We have running water,” he was told, by a proud person. It wasn’t hot water, but it was running. And there was no AC. “Their idea of living good is different. We’re spoiled, and often don’t realize how good we have it,” he said.

“Most of us don’t leave the country,” he continued. He splurged on a fan for his room in the DR, which he bought for $20, not inconsiderable wages in that nation for a laborer. He left it with a cleaning lady upon departure, but the money laid out seems to be well spent. “That’s why I love America so much,” he says. “So many people don’t know how crappy it can be elsewhere. Our level of poverty is what, $12,000 a year? You can live as king in the Dominican Republic for that.”

Speaking of kings and such…Awesome and the ladies fought like bosses in Mexico. He says they are buds, hang out, support each other all the way. “Every punch I threw, I heard Marlen like she was sitting next to me,” Awesome said.

He expects the ladies to clean up at the next Games, and wants to snag a gold himself, ideally. And how about a transition to the pro ranks after that? Think about it…a vegan gold medalist with the last name “Awesome?” Al Haymon, get your checkbook ready…

“I would love to represent America till I’m 40,” he says. “If there’s no Olympics for me, I may turn pro, but the jury is still out.”

Awesome has gone 43-5 in the last year and a half, and has close to 300 fights under his belt. Would his style be a good fit for the pros? “What am I like technically? As Kenny Powers said, fundamentals are crutches for the untalented,” he says, chuckling. “I made up my own style. It looks like I don’t know what I’m doing at times, but I’m not doing anything by accident. I throw punches from weird places, and it’s effective. I’m not a power puncher, so I don’t go toe to toe. I’m about 215 pounds, fighting guys at around 270. But I won’t drop down, because I’m so much faster than them at super heavyweight. As long as I don’t get hit, I won’t get killed.”

“You’re sort of supposed to fight and be this macho, manly way, supposed to stand and fight. I want to break the stereo, that you can be educated and articulate and have diversity in life, and be happy in life.”

The perception of the “normal” fighter in the minds of too many is Mike Tyson, complex and fearsome, and Muhammad Ali, his faculties diminished by punches he absorbed, supposedly. “I’ve never watched a Rocky movie and will not, and Ali with Parkinsons, you cannot attribute to boxing. With Tyson, people think he’s crazy. I prefer to be seen as a funny vegan.”

I get the sense that, in a good way, Awesome isn’t an automaton of ambition, that he rightly doesn’t wrap up his persona and being in his won-loss record. “There’s so much more like I’d like to do, before I decide to turn pro, dedicate my whole life to boxing. I want to do comedy, acting, public speaking. I don’t want to be the dude who gets punched my whole life. I’d like to leave a legacy. I mean, yes, money is very important to me. They say it can’t buy happiness. But having it doesn’t necessarily make you unhappy…. but it can buy a helicopter.”

Awesomely said, sir.

Keep punching Cam F., and if I can muster some focus, I will see what I can do about logging on to your Wiki backstage, and filling in some of those blanks. But be forewarned; I might lapse into a lazy spell, in the downtime when I’m not working on building my brand to where I can buy a helicopter.

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David Avanesyan: “My Aggressive Style is Going to Give Crawford Problems”

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With determination and total confidence in his abilities, Russian David Avanesyan rejects the idea that he will be the “ugly duckling” when he faces Terence Crawford who will be defending his WBO welterweight title for the sixth time this December 10th.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for my family and me, one I will not take for granted,” Avanesyan said. “I know going in that I’m a huge underdog and no one is giving me a chance, but let me tell you, I’m going to surprise everyone watching. I’ve had enough time to prepare, so I’ll be ready for the southpaw.”

Thirty-four-year-old Avanesyan (29-3-1, 17 KOs) was born in Russia but resides in England, where he has been preparing for the momentous matchup against Crawford.

European champion in the welterweight division, Avanesyan has won six straight, all within the distance; the most recent being in the first round against Finnish Oskari Metz (16-1, 6 KOs) in London.

Ranked sixth by the WBO and seventh by the IBF, Avanesyan says he has learned many tricks over the years and is now a completely different and more mature boxer.

“Coming from the amateur ranks, I had to learn how to sit on my punches correctly, which can take a lifetime for some fighters. The bad habits that plagued me early in my career are now fixed. Today I’m a completely different fighter in the ring, and my last six fights have shown my growth when it comes to my power punching. I believe my aggressive style is going to give Crawford problems,” said Avanesyan.

Prior to his six-fight winning streak, Avanesyan was knocked out in the eighth round by California-based Lithuanian Egidijus Kavaliauskas in the city of Reno, Nevada where they fought for the NABF belt.

Avanesyan is not misguided as he assesses the enormous task ahead. “There’s a reason Terence Crawford is considered the best fighter in boxing, his skill set is amazing, and he knows how to win,” stated Avanesyan. “I know my hands are full, but I’m going to do everything I can to become a world champion. I need to stick to the game plan we have in place, and if adjustments need to be made during the fight, I will have to make them.”

Although Avanesyan logically praises Crawford’s career, the match-up has created a sea of ​​criticism for the undefeated Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs), who is ranked among the best pound for pound fighters. The vast majority of fans wanted to see him face his countryman, the undefeated Errol Spence Jr (28-0, 22 KOs), the current title holder of the other three most prestigious belts: the WBC, WBA and IBF.

But the thirty-five-year-old Crawford from Omaha, Nebraska says that regardless of his results and whatever adversary he faces, he will continue to be blamed by the people who just don’t like him.

“Before, I always cared a lot about what the fans say and say about me,” stated Crawford. “But the older I got, the more I came to the fact that you can’t please everyone. No matter what you do, no matter who you beat and how many fights you won, how many divisions you conquered, there will still be those who will not love you for their own reasons. It seems to me that all the great fighters went through this. All the greats who were before me, and all those who will be after me, it will be the same with everyone.”

In his brilliant professional career, Crawford has been world champion in three divisions: lightweight, super lightweight and welterweight.

Six years after his professional boxing debut, Crawford claimed the WBO 135-pound world title by unanimously defeating host Ricky Burns in Glasgow, Scotland.

Thirteen months later, Crawford added the vacant WBO 140-pound title by anesthetizing Thomas Dulorme in the sixth round. Dulorme could not endure Crawford’s powerful punch and visited the canvas three times in the fateful sixth round.

Crawford became the undisputed king of the super lightweight division in August 2017, when he chloroformed Namibian Julius Indongo in Lincoln, Nebraska. The African lost the WBA and IBF belts, while Crawford retained the WBC and WBO belts.

In June 2018, Crawford conquered the WBO welterweight belt after putting Australian Jeff Horn (20-3-1, 13 KOs) to sleep in the ninth round at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas.

Thanks to his blazing hand speed, ring savvy, counterpunching skills, as well as his ability to switch from right guard to left guard and back again, Crawford is considered a heavy favorite to take down Avanesyan.

*Note: As of December 2nd:  Crawford  -1600 / Avanesyan  +780

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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Juan Francisco Estrada Holds Off ‘Chocolatito’ Again

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Once again Juan Francisco Estrada jumped out in front early and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez needed time to crank up the engine, but fell too far behind as the Mexican fighter won the vacant WBC flyweight world title on Saturday.

Estrada wins the trilogy 10 years in the making.

Once again Estrada (44-3, 28 KOs) surged ahead early in the fight against Nicaragua’s Gonzalez (51-4, 41 KOs) and then navigated toward another win, this time at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona on the Matchroom Boxing card.

“We had excellent preparation at high altitude and I think we left the fight clear on who won the fight this time,” said Estrada about the third encounter.

Ten years ago, the trilogy began in Los Angeles as “Chocolatito” confronted an unknown fighter at the time in Estrada. The two surprised the crowd who expected Gonzalez to destroy yet another Mexican fighter. But it did not happen that night though Chocolatito proved too experienced and battered his way to victory in a light flyweight world title clash.

Then, in March 2021, Estrada finally fought Gonzalez in a rematch and the two engaged in a closely-fought super flyweight world title match. This time Estrada proved slightly better according to the judges and won by split decision in Dallas, Texas.

Few knew what to expect in a third encounter.

At first the coronavirus stalled plans for the trifecta so Chocolatito fought a replacement and dominated. Meanwhile Estrada fought another Mexican and did not look good.

On Saturday, a decade after their first encounter, Estrada looked fluid and accurate in dominating the first six rounds of the fight. Though he did not hurt Gonzalez, he was repeatedly scoring at will.

Gonzalez woke up around the seventh round.

Suddenly the Nicaraguan who was once considered the best fighter Pound for Pound showed up and fired rapid combinations. The spring in his legs suddenly appeared and the energy level was cranked up high after nearly being on idle.

Estrada suddenly found himself against the ropes forced to slip and slide away from Gonzalez’s powerful combination punches. A real fight suddenly erupted during the final six rounds.

“All fights are different and all fights are difficult and this was the most difficult one,” said Gonzalez, a four-division world champion.

Though neither fighter was ever visibly hurt, Gonzalez’s pressure kept Estrada expending too much energy trying to evade the Nicaraguan’s traps during the final six rounds.

“He always goes 100 miles an hour,” said Estrada of his nemesis.

Estrada used uppercuts and slide steps to maneuver against Gonzalez’s hard charges. It seemed to work and allowed the Mexican fighter more room and time to apply counter-measures.

In the final round, those maneuvers allowed Estrada to connect with a hard punch to the body that forced Chocolatito to cover up. It also allowed Estrada to unravel a combination that gave him the last round if needed. After 12 rounds one judge scored it 114-114, while two others saw it 116-112, 115-113 for Estrada who becomes the new WBC super flyweight world titlist.

“We did an excellent fight and I got the victory,” said Estrada. “I’ve always said Chocolatito is a future Hall of Famer.”

Gonzalez was gracious in defeat.

“What is important is we gave that good fight to the fans and we came out in good health,” Gonzalez said.

There is even talk of a fourth fight.

“As long as they pay well, of course,” said Gonzalez.

Other Fights

Julio Cesar Martinez (19-2, 14 KOs) retained the WBC flyweight world title by majority decision over Spain’s Samuel Carmona (8-1) in a rather dull affair. Mexico’s Martinez chased Carmon all 12 rounds in a fight that saw Carmona slap and run, then hold.

No knockdowns were scored and Martinez won 114-114, 117-111, 116-112.

Diego Pacheco (17-0, 14 KOs) ran over Mexico’s Adrian Luna (24-9-2) with three knockdowns in winning by stoppage in the second round of the super middleweight fight. It was no surprise.

The 21-year-old from South Central L.A. once again showed that despite his youth his power seems to be continually increasing as evident in the knockout win.

Now training with Team David Benavidez, the young super middleweight looked sharp, especially with the lead overhand right that floored Luna in the second round. Luna was floored two more times and the fight was wisely stopped by his own corner.

“You put in the hard work then you come in here and shine,” said Pacheco. “I joined team Benavidez this year.”

Nicaragua’s former world titlist Cristofer Rosales (35-6, 21 KOs) won a dog fight over Mexico’s Joselito Velasquez (15-1-1, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision after 10 rounds in a flyweight clash.

It was a back-and-forth struggle that saw the taller Rosales take over in the second half of the fight and win by simply out-punching Velasquez and handing the Mexican his first loss as a professional by scores 97-93 three times.

Photo credit: Milena Pizano

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Tyson Fury TKOs Derek Chisora in Round 10

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It was a chilly night in London but that didn’t deter a near-capacity crowd from turning out at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to witness the third rumble between Tyson Fury and Derek Chisora. The Gypsy King was heavily favored to retain his WBC and lineal heavyweight title and performed as expected. Indeed, this fight closely resembled their second encounter back in 2014.

In that bout, Chisora absorbed a terrific amount of punishment before his corner pulled him out at the conclusion of the 10th round. Tonight’s fight ended nine seconds earlier at the 2:51 mark of round 10 and it was the referee who terminated the match.

When is a heavyweight not a heavyweight? When the man in the opposite corner is substantially bigger. With an 8-inch height advantage and a 15-inch reach advantage, the six-foot-nine Fury was simply too big a mountain to climb for the brave Derek Chisora, a fighter who changed his nickname in mid-career, transitioning from “Dell Boy” to “War.”

Fury dominated round two, especially the last minute, a round in which he was credited with landing 18 power punches. The writing was on the wall for Chisora who ate a lot of thudding uppercuts in the ensuing rounds and ended the contest with a badly swollen right eye and a bloody mouth. With the victory, Fury improved his ledger to 32-0-1 with his 24th win inside the distance. The Zimbabwe-born Chisora falls to 33-13.

Oleksandr Usyk and Joe Joyce were in attendance and the Gypsy King addressed both before he left the ring. Calling Usyk “The Rabbit,” he indicated that he would fight Usyk next in a true unification fight, but said if there were a snag in negotiations he wouldn’t mind trading blows with the Juggernaut, Joe Joyce, who wore down and stopped former heavyweight title-holder Joseph Parker, a former Fury sparring partner, in his most recent engagement. However, Fury also revealed that he had an issue with his right elbow that may require surgery.

Co-Feature

In a heavyweight match that lasted only three rounds but was chock-full of action, Daniel Dubois overcame three knockdowns to retain his secondary WBA heavyweight title he won at the expense Trevor Bryan with a third-round stoppage of upset-minded Kevin Lerena.

In the opening stanza, Johannesburg’s Lerena, landed an overhand left on the top of Dubois’s head that put the Englishman on the canvas and left him all at sea. He went down twice more before the round was over, the first time of his own volition when he took a knee (reminiscent of his match with Joe Joyce) and the second from a glancing blow.

Dubois, whose legs are spindly for a man of his poundage, had trouble regaining his equilibrium in round two, but Lerena didn’t press his advantage. In the next frame, a short right from Dubois penetrated Lerena’s guard and down went the South African. Smelling blood, Dubois knocked him down again and was pummeling him against the ropes when the referee interceded just as it appeared that Lerena would be saved by the bell.

It was the fourth straight win for Dubois (19-1, 18 KOs) since his mishap versus Joyce. Lerena, who entered the bout on a 17-fight winning streak, lost for the second time in 30 fights.

Also

In a ho-hum affair, Denis Berinchyk, a 24-year-old Ukrainian, captured the European lightweight title and remained undefeated with a unanimous decision over French-Senagalese warhorse Ivan Mendy. Berinchyk (17-0, 9 KOs) was making his first appearance in London since winning a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics where he was a teammate of Oleksandr Usyk and Vasiliy Lomachenko.

The judges had it 117-112 and 116-112 twice for the Ukrainian. The 37-year-old Mendy, who has answered the bell for 380 rounds, falls to 47-6-1.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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