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One of HBO’s Smiling Assassins, Sergey Kovalev, Talks Up March 14 Date With Pascal

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Man, is HBO cornering the market on smiling assassins, or what? You got Gennady Golovkin, who carries himself with the boyish enthusiasm and politeness of a Boy Scout–hey, they still have those?–and HBO also features Sergey Kovalev, always quick with a grin, and self deprecating take on his place in the boxing universe. As always, I was struck by Kovalev’s easy-going charm when I chatted with him today, Wednesday, at a Manhattan presser to trumpet his March 14 scrap against Jean Pascal, which will unfold in Montreal.

Before his last fight, against Bernard Hopkins, in which he shed any and all holdouts who weren’t sure if his power punching wasn’t a top-heavy asset, and clung to wondering if holes in his game would be exposed by the master of in-ring trickeration and anti-aging, Kovalev had me pondering. Why wouldn’t he go out on a limb and predict a win? Why was he hedging? Why wouldn’t he proclaim his imminent victory over B-Hop? Well, it became apparent after he schooled the professor, that he’s 1) intensely humble and 2) he’s wise, and knows that there are no guarantees when one steps in the ring, but that Buffer will collect a fat check if he says his catchphrase.

That humility, it was present again at the Parker Meridien, when he told me that it’s not for him to say if he is THE MAN at light heavy, or is Fighter of the Year, as he was chosen by we here at TSS. But, he did give a hint of that other side, the one which enables him to have stopped 23 of 26 opponents since turning pro in 2009. Pascal, who looked in solid shape, with popped biceps curving out from a short sleeve shirt, got a turn with the mic and stood up. He strode over to Kovalev, and told all present that he was not coming to lay down, and fully expected to have his hand raised at La Bell Centre. He put a hand on Kovalev, and I studied the Russian’s face to see how he handled it. I didn’t note any consternation. Later, I asked him about that Pascal move. Did his radar go up, I wondered? Indeed it did, he told me. (You can see his answer when we post the footage to BoxingChannel.TV soon.) He told me he was eyeing Pascal, reading his body language, looking for clues to his intent. It turns out the intent wasn’t odious or done to try and inject doubt into Kovalev’s head. I think Pascal is too much a vet for that….He knows that Kovalev isn’t the flappable sort. But it got me thinking again about Golovkin, and Kovalev, and that bizarre and wondrous ability to have that duality in you. Possessors of disarming grins and easy amiability…and the ability and desire to seperate you from your senses. Boxing, a helluva thing.

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Here is a pic of one of HBO’s smiling assassin’s and the writer, by David Spagnolo:

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Here is the release, with all the top quotes and stellar photos by David Spagnolo, which went out today:

Krusher and Pascal

Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events

New York, NY: Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs), the current WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion, and Jean Pascal (29-2-1, 17 KOs), the former WBC and Lineal Light Heavyweight Champion and Current holder of the WBC Diamond Belt, addressed the U.S. media in New York City in advance of their March 14 fight for the WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight Championships. Kovalev has been named The Fighter of the Year by the WBO, Sports Illustrated, BleacherRepor, New York Post, USA Today and many others and today received his WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Championship Ring from Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events.

Also in attendance were Vyacheslav “Czar” Glazkov (19-0-1, 12 KOs) and Steve “USS” Cunningham (28-6, 13 KOs) who were announced as the co-feature for the Kovalev-Pascal card. The two will fight for the #1 position in the IBF.

Below are the quotes from the press conference:

Glazkov, Kovalev, Pascal & Cunningham

Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events

Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events

“Welcome to the press conference where everyone is invited! One of the joys of my life is to present an interesting and big event with two fighters where the outcome is doubt. On March 14 we will present two such fights. The Kovalev-Pascal fight is a throwback fight in the truest sense of the word. A reigning World Champion who is willing to fight a worthy challenger in the challenger’s hometown. And if that wasn’t enough, in the co-feature Czar Glazkov and Steve Cunningham will face off for the #1 position in the IBF and the winner will face Wladimir Klitschko or whomever is the IBF Heavyweight Champion at the end of the year.”

Jean Bedard

Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events

Jean Bedard, President of Interbox

“It is a privilege for Interbox to work with Kathy and Main Events because we share the same vision – to bring the best fights to the fans. Saturday is usually hockey night in Canada but, on March 14, Kovalev and Pascal will replace the Canadiens. The Bell Centre is one of the busiest sporting venues in the world and we are so proud to bring this event there. Thank you also to HBO.”

Duva

“Main Events and HBO have worked together since the 1980s probably before Peter Nelson was even born, but he has brought so much to the sweet science in a short period of time. It is a pleasure to work with again to bring another great night of boxing to the fans.”

Peter Nelson, Vice President of Programming, HBO Sports

“I wrote that for Kathy (laughing). I want to thank the media for coming today. I want to thank Kathy Duva. She has done a great job with Sergey Kovalev’s career. We were privileged to be part of his win over Bernard Hopkins and this is just the next installment in an amazing career. This fight is a signature event, it is not another check-in-the-box. This is two elite fighters looking to establish their legacies. We are privileged to be associated with events that not only have great main events but great co-features. The co-feature has an amazing story as well. Start time is 9:45 and we look forward to a great event. Sergey Kovalev and Jean Pascal always look to fight the best and I would like to thank the press for rewarding them for doing so.”

Duva

“In the co-feature, all of you will watch while I cover my eyes. We wanted to bring the heavyweight division back to life. Who knew that last year we would be here with two of our own facing each other for the #1 position? Then Steve Cunningham defeated Amir Mansour and Czar Glazkov defeated Tomasz Adamek and those victories have brought us here to this moment. The fans are the ones who will win when this fight ends but I won’t be able to watch. Steve’s legendary trainer, Brother Naazim Richardson is one of the best in the business. He is a member of Steve’s family and they have been living together through all the joy and all the sorrows. It is much better to be working together with Naazim on the same side this time instead of against him like with the fight against Hopkins. Steve has faced some incredible challenges in the boxing ring but he has faced even bigger challenges outside the ring. When he faced Mansour he was told his daughter Kennedy, who was born with a congenital heart defect, was going to die. Last month she proved the doctors wrong when she received a successful heart transplant. Her father shares her same fighting spirit to defy the odds and he is looking to show that on March 14.”

Steve and Cruz Cunningham

Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events

Steve “USS” Cunningham, USBA Heavyweight Champion

“Thanks Kathy for making me tear up. I would like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Main Events and HBO. I am finally getting on HBO! I gave up that I would ever get here so I am excited and happy to be on HBO finally. I know everyone talks about the situation with my daughter and the strength it took for us to survive it, but we have done nothing more than what anyone else would have done in the same situation. I want to thank everyone who gave to her fund and helped us get here. I am fighting my fourth undefeated heavyweight. I am here to show. Boxing is the show business. I have to show every time I get in that ring. I want to be the heavyweight world champion. Czar is an Olympian and he is undefeated and whatever plan Naaz comes up with I am going to execute it. You have seen the heart and the skill and I am going to bring that on March 14.”

Duva

“I didn’t know that the day that I met Egis Klimas that it would be one of the luckiest days of my life. He convinced me to look at Sergey Kovalev and I am so glad he did. Egis handles three world champions and now he is looking to get his first heavyweight world champion.”

Nelson, Glazkov and Klimas

Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events

Egis Klimas, Manager of Sergey Kovalev and Czar Glazkov

“For me March 14 is going to be a double pleasure night. Me and Czar started working together when I convinced a Russian promoter to bring him to the United States. He just moved from the Ukraine to the United States. For this fight he relocated to Oxnard, CA and he is working with a new trainer, Victor Petrochenko. He has already started camp. It is going to be a good night and hopefully he can win and be IBF champion in the heavyweight division.”

Duva

“While Czar Glazkov was here in the United States becoming the NABF heavyweight champion, his friends and family were suffering through the conflict in the Ukraine. He wants a shot at his fellow countryman Wladimir Klitschko and he is willing to take on any challenge to get there. When he was originally scheduled to fight Tomasz Adamek and Adamek had fallen out, he was so disappointed that we had to replace him with Garret Wilson. However, he only asked me one question – is he right handed or left handed? That is what makes him the type of competitor he is.”

Czar and Steve

Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events

“Czar” Glazkov, NABF Heavyweight Champion

“I am very sorry to speak Russian but I am still learning English. I want to thank Kathy Duva and Main Events, HBO and Peter Nelson for giving me this opportunity to fight on the biggest boxing network. Steve Cunningham is a good fighter and this is his last chance to show something in boxing but my goal is to show that I am better. Now I am training with my new trainer, Victor Petrochenko. He is showing me something new. We are getting good workout and I will show March 14. It is going to be a good show.”

Greg Leon, CEO of Jean Pascal Promotions

“I want to thank HBO, Main Events, and Interbox. Interbox is a first class organization across the board. This fight is about the best versus the best. They are the two best light heavyweights willing to fight each other. Jean Pascal has never seen anyone as strong as Sergey Kovalev and Sergey Kovalev has never seen anyone as athletic as Jean Pascal. Pascal was shocked the odds have him four to one but we welcome the challenge. We are looking forward to a great night of boxing.”

Marc Ramsay, Trainer of Jean Pascal

“Thank you everyone. I would like to thank HBO, Main Events and Interbox for giving us this opportunity. I am proud to be part of this fight. So many fighters like to escape the big challenge. Sergey Kovalev is not afraid to travel and Jean Pascal is not afraid of this challenge. The real training camp starts next Monday. There is always a way to beat every fighter and Jean Pascal has all the tools to achieve it.”

Pascal with Kovalev and Duva

Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events

Jean Pascal, Former WBC, IBO and The Ring Light Heavyweight Champion

“I want to thank God for giving us this opportunity as well as Interbox and Main Events. This fight was an easy fight to make. Titles and money come and go but history doesn’t. We want to make history. HBO wants to make the best fight possible and that is why they made this fight. I don’t have Showtime no more. They show boring fights. Sergey Kovalev is a great champion; a solid champion. He can punch, he has good speed, he is good with his distance, he does everything well, he has good technique and I love to be the underdog. I loved watching when Balboa fought the crushing Russian in Rocky IV and now this is my real life and I am going to be the black Balboa.”

Duva

“I want to recognize the best training staff in the business John David Jackson and Derik Santos, Sergey’s training team. They could not be here but they prepared him for his stellar appearance against Bernard Hopkins and they will have him ready for Pascal.”

Klimas

“It is a pleasure to represent a fighter who is USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and New York Post Fighter of the Year (to name a few). I believe truly he has proved that. Everyone thought that he could only knock people out but he outboxed Bernard Hopkins. Jean Pascal is a good fighter. He is the best challenger in the division for Sergey Kovalev. The two good men are going to meet. In the end talk is cheap let’s bring these guys in the ring and let that speak for itself. Nobody believed me when I brought Sergey Kovalev through 18 fights with my own money without a promoter. Thank you Kathy for bringing us to this level.”

Duva

“So many recognize why Sergey Kovalev should be the Fighter of the Year is not because he defeats everyone he faces but the way he does it. He outboxed a legendary fighter. It takes more than talent to make a champion, add drive, ambition and a work ethic that is second to none. He is charming and one of the nicest people in the world. He is the most electrifying fighter I have ever worked with (and I have worked with some electrifying fighters!) and he is just beginning. Before I ask him to speak I have a little surprise for him. Main Events has a tradition of creating rings when our fighters win a world championship. Joel McFadden is the artist who created your WBO ring. The good news is they created a wonderful new ring, that bad news is because you won two belts at once there is only one ring. Everything was designed by hand.”

Klimas and Kovalev with World Championship Ring

Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events

Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion

“Hello everybody. Thanks for this great ring, it is very complimentary from jewel masters. I always wear my WBO ring. I sleep with it and now I will have to sleep with both together. Next, I know I was named Fighter of the Year but I didn’t know how many media chose me. I am happy and this push me more to show what I am a real Fighter of the Year. This year will be more big fights. I am starting with a very big fight with Jean Pascal. Thank you for taking this fight. For me it doesn’t matter where I fight. If I am true champion, I am fighting anyone anywhere. I want to thank HBO and Peter Nelson personally for this opportunity to give me big chance in my life. Where I am it is because of my team: Kathy Duva and Main Events, Egis Klimas and HBO. That is my team I love you and bless you. Everybody say before the fight was made that I will win. I never say never; this is boxing. This isn’t sprinting or bicycling. I never say never. You can go to Big Bear and repeat my preparations but no one can repeat my style. It is my thinking in me that gave me all victories and will give more.”

Duva

“I want to thank Le Parker Meridien, HBO and Hortitsia vodka, our sponsor. We look forward to a great night of boxing on March 14. Thank you.”

About Kovalev vs. Pascal

Kovalev vs. Pascal is a 12-round fight for the WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Championship Titles. The fight will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing® on March 14, 2015 from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Tickets are on sale now at the Bell Centre ticket office, at www.evenko.ca, by telephone at 1-855-310-2525 or through Club de Boxe Champion (514-376-0980). This event is a co-promotion of Main Events and InterBox, presented by Vidéotron in association with Mise-O-Jeu.

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Abraham Nova and his Mascot are Back in Action on Friday Night

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With his black beard dyed gold, junior lightweight Abraham Nova is one of boxing’s most recognizable practitioners. Sometimes there’s two of him which makes him stand out even more. His twin is an inflatable mascot painted to look just like him. On fight nights they are inseparable. The mascot shadows Nova on his ringwalk, bouncing up and down and dancing to animate the crowd.

Some gimmicks are just plain hokey. Some are annoying. But there’s something whimsical about Nova’s invention that brings a smile to boxing fans of all ages. “Abraham Nova having his own mascot is one of the coolest things in boxing,” says fight writer Ryan Songalia.

“I played all sports in high school, football, baseball, track, and got the idea of it from other sports,” says Nova of his twin who he unveiled in January of 2020 at the Turning Stone Casino and Resort in Verona, New York, where he upped his record to 18-0 with a fourth-round stoppage of Mexican journeyman Pedro Navarrete.

He’s 5-2 since then, the smudges coming against future world featherweight champion Robeisy Ramirez (KO by 5) and defending super featherweight world champion O’Shaquie Foster where he came out on the short end of a split decision. This coming Friday, in his first assignment since failing to de-throne Foster, he opposes 21-0 Andres Cortes at the Fontainebleu in Las Vegas on a Top Rank card airing on ESPN+.

“I was the one who asked for this fight,” says Nova. “Top Rank offered me a match on their June 8th Puerto Rican Parade Weekend show at Madison Square Garden against an opponent who was 17-2, but I turned it down and asked for a better opponent and they accommodated me.” Las Vegas native Andres Cortes, who has been profiled in these pages, is ranked #2 at 130 pounds by the WBO.

In common with boxing’s historical pattern, Abraham Nova had a hardscrabble upbringing.

Born in Puerto Rico to parents from the Dominican Republic, the second-youngest of 10 children, he came to the U.S. at the age of 1 where the entire family was initially shoe-horned into a two-bedroom apartment in Albany, New York.

His father, Aquiles, had a friend here who was the pastor of a church and in need of an assistant pastor to help with his growing congregation. Aquiles eventually founded his own church in Albany, The Pentecostal Church of Unity & Prayer where services are held in both Spanish and English.

As a toddler, Nova lived briefly in Guatemala and Mexico where his parents were called to “spread the word” and to assist in redevelopment projects. The family traveled 5,500 miles in a rickety old school bus from Albany to Guatemala during the end days of the Guatemalan Civil War.

Each of Nova’s four brothers boxed, but he was the only one to turn pro. As an amateur, he won the 2015 Olympic Trials Qualifying Tournament in Memphis, defeating Frank Martin and Richardson Hitchins in back-to-back fights, but failed to make the U.S. team for the Rio Games when he lost a split decision to Gary Antuanne Russell at the Olympic Trials in Reno. Those bouts were contested at 141 pounds.

A 30-year-old bachelor, Nova had his final amateur fights in Lowell, Massachusetts, a pillar of amateur boxing in New England, and has remained in the Boston area without losing his Albany identity. He is trained by ex-U.S. Marine Mark DeLuca, a boxer of some renown who sports a 30-4 record and may not be done with fighting quite yet at age 36.

Nova’s opponent, Andres Cortes, has won five of his last seven inside the distance beginning with a smashing first-round knockout of 34-2 Genesis Servania. On paper, it’s a 50-50 match-up. (The pricemakers are flummoxed; as of this writing, they have yet to establish a betting line.)

Abraham Nova’s mascot may never become as well-known as some of the costumed human mascots in college sports (e.g., West Virginia’s Mountaineer or Michigan State’s Sparty), let alone as beloved as the University of Georgia’s flesh-and-blood bulldog mascot Uga, but give the boxer credit for originality and for bringing a little levity to a sport too often besotted with incivility.

Note: Abraham Nova vs. Andres Cortes is the co-feature. In the main go, new Top Rank signee Rafael Espinoza makes the first defense of his WBO world featherweight title against Mexican countryman Sergio Chirino. Espinoza forged the 2023 TSS Upset of the Year when he got off the deck to defeat Robeisy Ramirez on Dec. 9 in Pembroke Pines, Florida, winning legions of fans with his unrelenting buzzsaw attack. Action from the Fontaineblue begins at 4:00 pm PST on ESPN+.

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A True Tale from the Boxing Vault: When the Champion Refused to Fight

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A True Tale from the Boxing Vault: When the Champion Refused to Fight

BY TSS Special Correspondent David Harazduk — A hundred years ago, ducking a worthy challenger wouldn’t simply stoke the ire of the fans, it came with the prospect of jail time.

On Thursday, November 3, 1927, 16,000 fans packed Wrigley Field in Los Angeles hoping to witness their local favorite challenge for the welterweight world championship. Nicknamed the “Nebraska Wildcat,” Ace Hudkins had relocated to the Pacific Coast where his devil-may-care style in the ring made him instantly popular among Angelino fight fans. He was set to battle Joe Dundee, the champion, an Italian immigrant who had settled in Baltimore at a young age. But there was one problem.

The champion refused to fight.

Members of the California boxing commission, along with promoter Dick Donald, raced to the Biltmore Hotel to plead with Dundee (pictured) and his manager Max Waxman to come to Wrigley Field and fight. Waxman steadfastly refused. Donald, a quick-witted cigar-chomping Irishman known as the “Boy Promoter,” had promised Max’s man the ungodly sum of $60,000, and Dundee wouldn’t enter the ring for a penny less.

Under the rules of the California commission, a fighter could only receive a guarantee of $500. The rest of the purse came from a percentage of the gate: 37.5% for the champion and 12.5% for the challenger. Waxman insisted that Donald had offered $60,000, but the commission couldn’t enforce this side deal.

Tickets in the bleachers were sold at $2.20 a pop while those closer to the ring went for $11. The most the gate could possibly produce would be $90,000. Add in Wrigley Field’s 15% usage fee and payments to the preliminary fighters, officials, and even to rent the chairs situated around the ring, and Dundee’s dreams of $60,000- $75,000 if he lost the title- never had a prayer of being realized. After all, 37.5% of $90,000, plus $500, is only $34,250.

Meanwhile, Eddie Mahoney, a preliminary fighter, entered the ring at 8:30pm. Mahoney was scheduled to fight Joe Dundee’s brother Vince, a future middleweight world champion. When Vince didn’t follow Mahoney into the ring, Mahoney soon left, much to the bewilderment of the crowd.

Donald scrambled to find a plan B. He searched for welterweight contender Sergeant Sammy Baker to replace Dundee and fight Hudkins. When Baker couldn’t be located, Donald asked a preliminary fighter, Olympic gold medalist Jackie Fields, to take on Hudkins instead. Hudkins and Fields had been sparring partners when the featherweight champion of the 1924 Games in Paris was a nascent pro back in 1925. Fields’s manager, Gig Rooney, felt Hudkins was too big for the Olympic champ at this stage of his career and preferred to remain on the undercard against San Francisco’s Joey Silver.

With no plan B, Donald and the commissioners went back to Waxman in a last desperate plea to coax Dundee to defend his title. One commissioner, Charles Traung, offered Waxman an additional $10,000 check for Dundee to fight. Waxman stubbornly held out for more.

At 9:20pm, back at Wrigley, Donald signaled Jackie Fields and Joey Silver to enter the ring. Though Fields was wobbled twice, he opened up a cut over Silver’s left eye and split the San Franciscan’s lip on route to a convincing points victory in a ten-rounder. A few minutes after 10pm, Mahoney and Vince Dundee finally entered the ring for their clash. Dundee starched Mahoney inside of two rounds. When Waxman, who also managed Vince, heard of the second-round stoppage, he said “Vince knocked that guy out, eh? I told him to carry him along.” Waxman had hoped to stall for time.

Soon after the end of the Dundee-Mahoney fight, Ace Hudkins waltzed to the ring. He spent fifteen minutes seated in his corner, covered in a bathrobe and towels to keep him warm. Dundee never showed.

At 11:25pm, ring announcer Frank Kerwin slid into the ring and bellowed, “Owing to the fact that Joe Dundee did not receive his guarantee, he refused to go on with his match against Ace Hudkins.” The crowd was advised to “hold their seat checks and watch the newspapers for other announcements.”

The fans didn’t take too kindly to the announcement and hurled those rented chairs in disgust. Fights broke out all over the stadium, spilling into the ring. All available police officers in the area rushed to Wrigley Field, wielding their nightsticks in a bid to subdue the violent mob. Dozens of fans were injured in the fracas. To add insult to injury, those who had paid $2.20 for their seats in the bleachers were out of luck; they had never received a ticket in the first place.

The next day, Waxman and Joe Dundee checked out of the Biltmore Hotel at noon and made their way to the train station. Later that night, they were pulled off an eastbound train at Pasadena and arrested for false advertising.  Waxman posted a $1,000 bond for each of them.

A warrant was issued for Donald on the same false advertising grounds. He phoned into the police station promising to turn himself in once his feelings of humiliation subsided. The police agreed to wait.

Ultimately, all accused would be acquitted. Waxman would return the $22,249.43 that had been placed in his account and an $11,000 check.

Fans didn’t receive refunds as it was deemed unfair to give them only to those who had bought $11 tickets since the gallery patrons had no ticket stub and thus, couldn’t get a refund anyhow. After the preliminary fighters, Wrigley Field, officials, ushers, and the chair rental company were compensated, the rest of the money was placed into a community fund.

Because he had entered the ring for his title challenge, Ace Hudkins declared himself the new champion, but no commission accepted his claim. Dick Donald’s promotional career, once so promising, abruptly ended. In 1935, he took one last gasp in boxing, serving as matchmaker at the famed Olympic Auditorium for a brief spell.

Joe Dundee would never fight in California again. His championship reign ended dishonorably a year and half later when several commissions agreed to strip him of the title for refusing to fight any top contenders. When Jackie Fields won the vacant title, he and Dundee were matched for the undisputed crown on July 25, 1929. With Dundee a two-to-one underdog, Waxman and Dundee bet $50,000 on Joe to win, with fouls canceling the bet. Fields shellacked Dundee, knocking him down twice. In the second round, after the second knockdown, Dundee knew he was licked. He got up and hit Fields low as hard as he could. Dundee was instantly disqualified, losing any claim to the title as disgracefully as his hold-out against Hudkins.

If only some of the alphabet champions of today had to post bail under the threat of jail for ducking contenders, maybe boxing would be in a better state.

EDITOR’S: Author David Harazduk has run The Jewish Boxing Blog since 2010. You can find him at  Twitter/X @JewishBoxing and Instagram @JewishBoxing

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Results from the MGM Grand where Gervonta Davis Returned with a Bang

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After an absence of 421 days, Gervonta “Tank” Davis returned to the ring at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. In the opposite corner was Detroit-born Frank “The Ghost” Martin who has been training in Dallas under Derrick James. In previous fights, Gervonta, who holds the WBA world lightweight title, has shown a tendency to start slow before closing the show with a highlight-reel knockout. Tonight was no exception.

Martin, 18-0 heading in, fought off his back foot from the get-go, but had good moments and was arguably ahead after five frames. But as the fight moved into the middle rounds, Martin became more stationary and one could sense that the ever-stalking Davis was wearing him down. In Round 8, Davis trapped Martin against a corner post, discombobulated him with a left uppercut and then turned out his lights with a chopping left hand. There was no chance that Martin could rise before referee Harvey Dock completed the “10” count.

Davis (30-0, 28 KOs) celebrated by standing on the top strand of rope and doing a black flip. He has many lucrative options going forward and will be favored to defeat whoever his next opponent will be.

The Davis-Martin fight was the capstone of a four-fight pay-per-view, the second collaboration between Premier Boxing Champions and Amazon Prime Video.

Benavidez-Gvozdyk

In his first fight as a light heavyweight, David Benavidez scored a 12-round unanimous decision over former lineal light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk.

Benavidez, who improved to 20-0 (24), worked the body well and kept up the pressure in the early-going, building a substantial lead. His work output declined over the last third of the fight, but his punches still carried more steam than those of Gvozdyk, 37, who suffered his second loss in 22 pro fights, the other inflicted by the indomitable Artur Beterbiev, prompting the SoCal-based Ukrainian to take a long hiatus from the ring. The judges had it 119-109, 117-111, and 116-112.

Puello-Russell

In a major upset, Alberto Puello of the Dominican Republic saddled Gary Antuanne Russell with his first pro loss, winning a split decision. Puello appeared to have the edge in a furious final round, without which the bout would have ended in a draw. Puello, who improved to 23-0 (10), had to overcome a dubious call by referee Allan Huggins who took a point away from the Dominican in Round 7 for too much holding.

Russell, who was making his first start against a southpaw, is now trained by his brother Gary Russell Jr., the former featherweight champion, who replaced their late father. Russell Jr last fought in January of 2022.

Heading in, Gary Antuanne Russell had won all 17 of his pro fights by knockout. One of the judges thought he won handily. But his tally, 118-109 for Russell, was overruled by the115-112 and 114-113 scores awarded the underdog. Puello, who briefly held the WBA diadem at 140 but had it stripped from him when he tested positive for PEDs, won an interim belt in that weight class with his upset tonight.

Adames-Gausha

In the PPV opener, Alberto Puello’s countryman Carlos Adames successfully defended his WBC middleweight title in his first world title fight with a one-sided decision over former U.S. Olympian Terrell Gausha. Adames, whose late father reportedly sired 35 children, was the aggressor and landed many more punches. He advanced his record to 24-1 (19). It was the fourth loss in 29 pro starts for the 36-year-old Gausha. The judges had it 119-109 and 118-110 twice.

Adames’ triumph made it 2-0 for the Dominicans and their trainer Ismael Salas.

Other Bouts of Note

In a huge upset, Delaware’s Kyrone Davis overcame Arizona’s previously undefeated and highly-touted Elijah Garcia, winning a split decision. A 21-year-old father of two, Garcia, 16-0 heading in, was rated #1 by the WBA and seemingly one step removed from challenging Erislandy Lara for the WBA middleweight title. But Davis, trained by Stephen “Breadman” Edwards, had a solid game plan and although Elijah came on strong in the homestretch, it was too little, too late.

One of the judges favored Garcia 98-92, but his cohorts each gave seven rounds to Davis (19-3-1, 6 KOs) and the decision was fair.

Filipino junior lightweight Mark Magsayo, in his second fight back since losing back-to-back fights with featherweight belt-holders Rey Vargas and Brandon Figueroa, advanced to 26-2 (17) with a 10-round unanimous decision over Mexico City’s Eduardo Ramirez (28-4-3). Magsayo scored a knockdown in the third round with a straight right hand and won by scores of 99-90 and 97-92 twice.

Photos credit: Al Applerose

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