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YEAR IN REVIEW: January ’14 Got Off To A “Shady” Start

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As always, we aspired to start the new year in boxing 2014 with something approximating a blank slate, with our default setting switched to OPTIMISTIC, or, at least, measured skepticism, instead of jaded pessimism.

Sigh…

After twelve months, we are again back in the mode of attempting to summon our brighter side, the one that believes the sport can revert to a mean, one which in actuality isn’t so much of an omni-present state, but more of an intermittent status…that is, one where the best fight the best.

That is the no brainer ‘duh’ of a desire, from the fan perspective, but as we operate with eyes wide open–and they get wider the longer we stay in the business–we get it that boxing is a business…and in the business world, the customer may be under the impression that he or she is always right, but in actuality, our system of capitalism most often encourages a dynamic where the customer is seen as a check-writer, a cash cow, someone to be bled, not nurtured and respected. Boxing really isn’t so different than most any other realm in this regard, but frankly, 2014 was a downer of a year for the sunnyside sorts.

We the fans—and that’s what I am, first and foremost, let’s put that out there, because that’s important, as so many writers and even fans these days bafflingly think from the promoter-manager-coddled fighter POV, and excuse too often when the best are not fighting the best, rather than pushing for the obvious right thing to be engineered—were not graced with The Fight that would break all revenue records by a Madoff mile.

Another year passed and endless flirtation and slow dancing ensued, followed by accusations of improper groping and insults and slanted “reasoning” as to why the fight most everyone wants to see didn’t get made. At some point, you have to think, the masses get turned off, and stop caring and craving seeing Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao tangle in a real ring, rather than thru proxy warriors on Twitter…but then again, the Kardashians, in all their garish glory, jumped the shark a couple years ago, but still are an industry with no shortage of gawking followers.

Maybe we should have seen the first “theater of the unexpected” special as JANUARY unfolded. The Rances Barthelemy-Argenis Mendez clash, which went off the rails when Bart bashed Mendez after the bell, rendering him unable to continue, and the overseers on site confused, and ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas attempting to make some sense of a situation and a sport which actively discourages clarification. It’s part of the charm and the infuriating side to our shared addiction…

On Jan. 6, I touched on the not-so-merry-go-round Will They Or Won’t They affair, with Mayweather giving reason number 27, or was it 33, why he wasn’t inclined to sign on to make two or three times as much money as he’d ever hope to make for a scrap.

“Mayweather voiced last week his current number one reason why he doesn’t see a Money-Manny fight being made, and it has nothing to do with the taking of a test, or the proper cutting of the purse pie. He said that as long as Bob Arum is Manny Pacquiao’s promoter, he, Floyd, won’t do a deal to fight Pacman,” I wrote.

Twelve months have passed, and I still see that impediment as my favorite theory as to Floyd’s aversion to meeting Manny; I think he holds Arum responsible for not helping his career blow up like he thought it should have from 1996-2007. But only “Money” holds the knowledge of the why, not I…

Dig back into archives, and you see really how hard we spin our wheels on the subject. One week later, Dedham Freddie Roach told me he was upbeat on the prospects of Manny-Money coming to fruition.

“I think we’re closer and closer to a Mayweather fight,” the 53-year-old Massachusetts native told me. “It’s only rumors now, but I think the rumors will come true. I don’t think either Manny or Mayweather has anywhere else to go.”

Freddie shortly after stirred that pot when he told Radio Rahim of Maxboxing and SecondsOut that when Alex Ariza used to work with Manny, he acted “shady.” http://www.tss.ib.tv/news/articles-frontpage/17837-roach-says-qshadyq-ariza-gave-manny-mystery-drinks-ariza-responds

“He used to give Manny a drink every day before a workout and I used to ask him what’s in that drink and he would never tell me, and I said I need to know what’s in that drink, because you gave it to my fighter, and if something goes wrong I’m gonna get the blame,” Roach told Rahim.

That storyline advanced some over the course of the year, with Ariza jumping to the Floyd camp, and Floyd subsequently hinting broadly that he’d been fed damaging info on Pacman from those in the know. All in all, this stuff amounted to a poisoning of the well. Interesting to write about, a good hit magnet, but mostly additions to the wall of negativism which keeps The Fight from being made. Really, the inability to get on that same page set a tone for the whole damn year in boxing…

Top level boxers Jean Pascal and Mikey Garcia got Ws in January 2013, and both efforts were not scintillating, with Pascal downing Lucian Bute with ease and Garcia offering a measured but meh performance against Juan Carlos Burgos in NYC. It left me hoping Mikey would get his hands on some Nasty Pills moving forward. Instead, he chose to focus on promotional/contractual issues, a road he shared with other A grade talents, in Andre Ward and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., which was another downer for the year.

An upper appeared in the form of a filthy blast from Luis Collazo on Victor Ortiz at Barclays Center on a Golden Boy card which pitted two welters looking to get back to the big stages. Ortiz reminded us that the iffy chin on Ortiz was still that, and he parlayed the victory into a tangle with Amir Khan later in the year.

We can’t know that harbingers are that until some time passes, and it’s safe to say that much of what happened in January 2014 set a poor tone for the remainder of the year. But of course, we embraced February with the open-mindeness of one who hadn’t yet blown their resolutions to bits. Check back for a trot down memory lane that was February 2014…

Follow Woods on Twitter. https://twitter.com/Woodsy1069

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 76: Welterweights Vergil, Terence and More

David A. Avila

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In the words of many boxing journalists, fighters, trainers and promoters “styles make fights,” and those differences can lead to unpredictable outcomes. The weekend brings a few stylish welterweights on display from California to New York.

Welterweight ingénue Vergil Ortiz Jr. (14-0, 14 KOs) enters the world of unpredictability when he meets Brad Solomon (28-1, 9 KOs) a swift-moving veteran on Friday, Dec. 13, at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif. DAZN will show the loaded Golden Boy Promotions fight card.

It’s Ortiz’s third year as a professional and fifth time performing at the Indio casino. It’s also where he made his pro debut back in July 2016 when he began his remarkable string of 14 consecutive knockout wins.

Solomon, 36, has made a career of fighting pressure fighters and making them miss or defusing their power. Only Russia’s Konstantin Ponomarev, who was trained at the time by Abel Sanchez, was able to hang a loss on the Georgia fighter’s ledger.

Can Ortiz handle the style difference?

“Vergil can do more than people think,” said Vergil Ortiz Sr., father of the lanky welterweight slugger. “He can box any style.”

As a professional, Ortiz has yet to fight someone like Solomon with his juke and move style of fighting. As an amateur he did face speedsters like Ryan Garcia. As a pro, this will mark his first in the prize ring. It should be interesting.

Power Packed Support

Knockout artist Ortiz leads a power packed-boxing card that includes a number of Golden Boy’s best knockout punchers like Bektemir Melikuziev, Alberto Machado and Luis Feliciano. All of these guys can punch and are looking to put the cap on 2019.

That’s a lot of firepower.

But also on the card is someone fighting for 360 Promotions named Serhii Bohachuk, otherwise known as “El Flaco.” Just like Ortiz, Bohachuk has never allowed the final bell to be rung against 16 foes so far. He is going for 17 when he fights Carlos Galvan (17-9-1) in a super welterweight fight set for eight rounds. Don’t expect to hear the final bell whenever the Ukrainian trained by Mexican style coach Abel Sanchez gets in the ring.

Bohachuk could be following in the footsteps of another guy formerly trained by Abel Sanchez named Gennady Golovkin. It’s still too early, but he looks pretty good so far.

New York City

Top welterweight Terence Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) defends the WBO welterweight title against Lithuania’s Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) on Saturday, Dec. 14, at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. ESPN will televise the Top Rank card.

In the crowded and talented world of the welterweights, Crawford could very well be the best of them all. If only he could prove it. The Omaha-Nebraska prizefighter has tried every enticement possible to lure Errol Spence Jr., Danny “Swift” Garcia, Shawn Porter and Manny Pacquiao. Nothing works.

What does work for Crawford has been a reputation as one of the best prizefighters in the world pound for pound. Some tab him as the very best especially when it comes to speed, agility and the ability to innovate on the spot. He has few peers.

Facing Crawford will be Kavaliauskas who trains in Oxnard with a number of Eastern Europeans including Vasyl Lomachenko. They share the same management. He’s never faced anyone close in talent to Crawford. Except, maybe inside of his own gym.

“I’m not focused on no other opponent besides the opponent that’s in front of me. My goal is to make sure I get the victory come this weekend, and that’s the only person I’m focused on now,” said Crawford. “Anyone else is talk. It goes in one ear and out the other. He’s young, hungry and I’m not taking him lightly.”

Crawford has been chasing stardom for a number of years. What better place than New York City’s Madison Square Garden to showcase his skills to the public. At age 32, Crawford is running out of sand.

Lightweight Title Fight

The co-main event on Saturday at Madison Square Garden features IBF lightweight titlist Richard Commey (29-2, 26 KOs) defending against wunderkind Teofimo Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs).

But this weekend truly belongs to the welterweights.

Next Week

Southern California will be packed with boxing. It’s a last gasp before the end of 2019.

Ontario, California will be hosting a very large Premier Boxing Champions fight card at the Toyota Center on Saturday Dec. 21.

WBC super welterweight titlist Tony Harrison finally defends against Jermall Charlo in a rematch and it won’t be friendly. These guys hate each other.

“He’s fake,” said Harrison when they last met in Los Angeles for a press conference.

It won’t be pretty when they meet next week.

Tickets are on sale. Go to this link for more information: https://www.toyota-arena.com/events/detail/premier-boxing-champions

Fights to Watch

Fri. DAZN 4:30 p.m. Vergil Ortiz (14-0) vs Brad Solomon (28-1); Serhii Bohachuk (16-0) vs Carlos Galvan (17-9-1).

Sat. Facebook 5 p.m. Diego De La Hoya (21-1) vs Renson Robles (16-6).

Sat. ESPN 6 p.m. Terence Crawford (35-0) vs Egidijus Kaviliauskas (21-0-1); Teofimo Lopez (14-0) vs Richard Commey (29-2).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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A Toast to Busy Bee Emanuel Navarrete, a Fighter from the Old School

Ted Sares

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In the last 12 months, super bantamweight Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete has fought five times. That’s close to Old School-type activity.

No one in Mexico gave Navarette much notice until he stopped Luis Bedolla Orozco (18-2) in Guadalajara in 2017. He turned more heads when he KO’d Filipino veteran Glenn Porras in January 2018 and fans outside Mexico began to take serious note of this no-nonsense youngster (now just 24) when he stopped Columbia’s “El General” Jose Sanmartin (26-4-1) five months later.

That win, his eighth straight by stoppage, earned him an interim belt and opened the door to a world title shot. It came on Dec. 8, 2018 at Madison Square Garden against undefeated (20-0) WBO world super bantamweight champion Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe.

Navarrete, five inches taller at 5’7”, shocked the hard-punching Brit (by way of Ghana) to win a decision and become the new champion. The scores were 115-113, 116-112, and 116-112, but more to the point, Dogboe’s post-fight face looked like it had gone through the proverbial meat grinder. The tall Mexican had fought tall and picked the much smaller Dogboe apart with precise and pinpoint punching.

The rematch proved that Emanuel’s first win was no fluke as he showed late round power in stopping Dogboe in the 12th. He again used his height advantage, showed great stamina and strength, was accurate with his punches, and once again the too-short Dogboe’s face looked like he was on the wrong end of a big city mugging.

His first title defense came against Francisco De Vaca (20-0) who is a fixture at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix, Arizona. This one lasted three rounds as Vaquero (“cowboy” in English) used a neat uppercut to stun De Vaca in the second and then rendered a terrible beating in the third to end the fight—one that should have been halted earlier by referee Raul Caiz Sr. who seemed far more “brave” than the fighters.

On September 14, 2019, Navarrete used his signature wide left hooks and uppercuts to end matters in the middle of the third round against Juan Miguel Elorde (28-1). Juan Miguel, the grandson of Filipino boxing legend Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, made the mistake of engaging Navarrete in a firefight and lost. This one took place at the T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and boxing fans now knew who this tall super bantamweight was.

In his most recent fight — this one in Mexico — Navarrete put on another display of accurate power punching to stop Francisco Horta (20-3-1) at 2.09 of round 4. After a somewhat typical slow start, Navarrete found his groove and began serious stalking, using looping combinations at strange angles inside and outside, finally catching Horta on the ropes in the fourth, ending matters with stunning closure. It was his 25th straight win dating back to 2012 when he was defeated by one Daniel Argueta by a 4-round decision.

Navarrete, one of seven current Mexican world title-holders, is now looking to unify at 122. He also might be interested in fighting Naoya Inoue if “Monster” moves up in weight, and given Inoue’s recent fight with Nonito Donaire in which he showed that he is human after all, this one could be a sizzler.

As to his chances for “Fighter of the Year,” they are probably slim, but that has nothing to do with whether he deserves it and everything to do with poor public relations. Yes, a solid case can be made for Josh Warrington, but enough with the Canelo, Loma, Usyk types who fight twice a year.

Emanuel Navarrete is more active than any other title-holder or top contender and has a KO percentage of 84% despite the fact that his last five opponents had a combined record of 108-5-1 coming in. And he has a fan-friendly style, stalking, stunning, and closing his opponents with controlled violence. In many respects, he fights like a pre-scandal and prime Antonio Margarito, except he is more technically sound. The fact is, Vaquero, the pride of San Juan Zitlaltepec, is super exciting and doesn’t seem to have any noticeable weaknesses.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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NEWS FLASH: Leon Spinks Hospitalized; Reportedly Fighting for His Life

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The gossip site TMZ is reporting that Leon Spinks is hospitalized in Las Vegas and is fighting for his life. TMZ acquired this information from Spinks’ wife Brenda Glur Spinks after spying her social media post. “It’s been a tough year for us,” she wrote. “Leon has endured a lot of medical problems. I’m reaching to ask that you pray for my Beautiful Husband Leon. So that he may overcome the obstacles that crossed his path.”

Her sentiment was echoed by Leon’s son Leon Spinks III who posted this message on his facebook page: “My Dad isn’t doing so good now and his wife Brenda Glur Spinks and I ask that u pray that he weather’s this storm. My dad is all I have left and I really appreciate it if yall let God know that he is not in this battle alone.”

A gold medal winner at the 1976 Olympics, Spinks, 66, is best remembered for upsetting Muhammad Ali in 1978 to win the world heavyweight title. He lost the title back to Ali in his next fight.

This is a developing story. As new details emerge, we will share them with you.

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

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