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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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Remembering Oscar ‘Shotgun’ Albarado (1948-2021)

Arne K. Lang

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Former world junior middleweight champion Oscar “Shotgun” Albarado passed away on Feb. 17 at age 72 in a nursing home in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas. Albarado’s death didn’t go unnoticed in the town that he put on the sporting map, but news out of Uvalde appears to travel to the outside world by Pony Express. There’s been no notice of it in the boxing press; even the authoritative boxrec has yet to acknowledge his passing. This isn’t uncommon. A boxer has a high probability of dying in obscurity, even if he had a large fan base during his heyday.

The folks in Uvalde had a big shindig to honor Albarado after he won the title; a barbecue at the fairgrounds. “All Texas and especially the city of Uvalde share pride in your accomplishments,” read a proclamation from the Governor of Texas, Dolph Briscoe.

The date was June 20, 1974. Sixteen days earlier, Albarado had wrested the 154-pound title from Koichi Wajima in Tokyo. Down two points on two of the scorecards through the 14 completed rounds, Albarado took the bout out of the judges hands, knocking Wajima down three times and out in the final stanza.

It was a long road to Tokyo. An eight-year pro, Oscar had at least 55 pro fights under his belt when he was granted a crack at the title. As he was scaling the ladder with occasional missteps, he became a fan favorite at the Olympic Auditorium, the shrine of Mexican-American boxing in L.A. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Albarado’s parents were migrant farm workers. They spent a portion of each year picking sugar beets in Minnesota. The kids went along with them. Albarado was purportedly six years old when he first worked in the fields.

He was 17 years old when he had his first documented fight, a 4-rounder in San Antonio, but there are some reports that say he was fighting in Mexico when he was as young as 15.

Albarado became a local attraction in South Texas and then spread his wings, moving to Los Angeles where there was better sparring and boxers of Mexican extraction were a more highly-valued commodity. He was backed by LA fight functionary Harry Kabakoff, a wheeler-dealer who knew all the right people. A colorful character, Kabakoff, born Melville Himmelfarb (don’t ask) had struck it big with bantamweight Jesus “Little Poison” Pimentel, a boxer he discovered while living in Mexicali.

Billed as the Uvalde Shotgun and eventually as just Shotgun Albarado, Oscar had his first fight at the Olympic on Jan. 9, 1969, and four more fights there in the next three months. He lost the last of the five and with it his undefeated record to Hedgemon Lewis who out-pointed him in a 10-round fight. There was no shame in losing to Hedgemon, an Eddie Futch fighter who went on to become a world title-holder.

Albarado was back at the Olympic before the year was out. All told, he had 17 fights at the fabled South Grand Street arena, going 13-3-1. His other losses came at the hands of Ernie “Indian Red” Lopez (L UD 10) and Dino Del Cid.

Del Cid, dressed with a 29-8-2 record, was a Puerto Rican from the streets of New York or a Filipino, depending on which LA newspaper one chose to read. Apprised that Albarado was a slow starter, he came out slugging. A punch behind the ear knocked Albarado woozy and the ref stepped in and stopped it. It was all over in 81 seconds.

Oscar demanded a rematch and was accommodated. Six weeks later, he avenged the setback in grand style, decking Del Cid three times in the opening stanza and knocking him down for the count in the following round with his “shotgun,” his signature left hook.

As the house fighter, Albarado got the benefit of the doubt when he fought Thurman Durden in January of 1973. The decision that went his way struck many as a bit of a gift. But the same thing had happened to him in an earlier fight when he opposed fast-rising welterweight contender Armando Muniz.

As popular as Alvarado was at the Olympic, his pull paled beside that of young Muniz. Born in Mexico but a resident of Los Angeles from the age of six, Muniz attended UCLA on a wrestling scholarship before finishing his studies at a commuter school and had represented the United States in the 1968 Olympics while serving in the Army.

Muniz vs. Alvarado was a doozy. We know that without seeing the fight as we have the empirical evidence in the form of the description of the scene at the final bell; appreciative fans showered the ring with coins. The verdict, a draw, met with the approval of the folks in the cheap seats, but ringside reporters were of the opinion that “Shotgun” was wronged. The LA Times correspondent had it 7-2-1 for the Texan.

Oscar had two more fights after avenging his loss to Del Cid before heading off to Tokyo to meet the heavily-favored Wajima who was making the seventh defense of his 154-pound title. Two more trips to Tokyo would follow in quick succession.

Albarado made the first defense of his newly-acquired belt against Ryu Sorimachi. He stopped him in the seventh round, putting him down three times before the match was halted. Three-and-a-half months later, he gave the belt back to Wajima, losing a close but unanimous decision in their rematch.

Oscar quit the sport at this juncture, returning to Uvalde. He was in good shape financially. He had used his earnings from his Olympic Auditorium fights to open a gas station. With the Tokyo money, he expanded his holdings by purchasing a laundromat.

This would be a nice place to wrap up this story. Former Austin American-Statesman sportswriter Jack Cowan, a Uvalde native, recalled that when Oscar opened his service station, he gave his new customers an autographed photo of himself in a boxing pose inscribed with the words “Oscar Albarado: The Next World Champion.” He would make that dream become a reality, defying the odds, while breaking the cycle of poverty in his family. Boxing was the steppingstone to a better life for him and his children.

But ending the story right here would be disingenuous. This is boxing, after all, and when the life story of a prominent boxer comes fully into a focus, a feel-good story usually takes a wrong turn.

Oscar got the itch to fight again. Sixty-seven months after walking away from boxing, he resumed his career with predictable results. He was only 34 when he returned to the ring, but he was a shell of his former self, an old 34.

Albarado was knocked out in five of his last seven fights before leaving the sport for good with a record of 57-13-1 (43 KOs). He made his final appearance in Denmark, the adopted home of double-tough Ayub Kalule who whacked him out in the second round.

Albarado’s obituary in the Uvalde paper was uncharacteristically blunt. “He suffered from pugilistic dementia,” it said, “caused by repeated concussive and sub-concussive blows.”

There was no sugar-coating there, no Parkinson’s to obfuscate the truth.

If he had known the fate that awaited him, would he have still chosen the life of a prizefighter? That’s not for us to say, but author Tris Dixon, while researching his new book, interviewed a bunch of neurologically damaged fighters and almost to a man they said they would do it all over again.

Albarado had four children, three sons and a daughter. When he was elected to the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame in 2017, he was too decrepit to travel, but all four of his children — Oscar Jr, Emmanuel, Jacob, and Angela — made the trip to North Hollywood to accept the award on his behalf.

The kids were proud of their old man, a feeling that did not dissipate as he became incapacitated. If boxing was helpful in tightening the bond, then it’s a fair guess the Uvalde Shotgun had no regrets.

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Brandon Figueroa KOs Nery and Danny Roman Wins Too

David A. Avila

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LOS ANGELES-Brandon Figueroa took the air out of Mexico’s Luis Nery to win by knockout and unify the WBA and WBC super bantamweight titles on Saturday. It was a belly buster that did the job.

Texan Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs) set out to prove that Tijuana’s two-division world champion Nery (31-1, 24 KOs) could not endure a toe-to-toe battle with the bigger guys and he proved it before several thousand fans at the Dignity Health Sports Park.

It was a back-and-forth battle that saw Nery attack the body and head while Figueroa focused on winging big blows from a distance and in close. Many of the rounds were extremely close to score.

When Nery was able to battle from a distance and dive inside, he seemed the much more athletic between the two champions. But Figueroa just seemed stronger and unfazed by any of the Mexican fighter’s blows.

Though Figueroa absorbed a lot of punishment, he never seemed in trouble. When Nery connected with a several combinations in the fifth round by landing five-punch and three-punch combinations, it looked like he was taking control.

He did not.

Figueroa opened the sixth round with two left hook blasts that reminded Nery that the taller Texan had a punch. When Nery tried to rally with his own blasts, Figueroa slipped under back-to-back left hooks. It seemed to change the tide.

“I knew he was getting tired,” said Figueroa. “He was trying to box me.”

In the seventh round Figueroa was able to connect with a left hook and followed up with a lead right. Nery countered with a three-punch combination that was met with Figueroa countering with a three-punch combination to the head and body. Then both fighters exchanged inside and Figueroa connected with a right to the chest and a left uppercut to the solar plexus and down went Nery.

Nery could not beat referee Tom Taylor’s count and was counted out at 2:18 of the seventh round.

Figueroa is now the WBC and WBA super bantamweight unified champion.

“It feels amazing,” said Figueroa. “I know everyone doubted me.”

Roman Wins Super Bantam Eliminator

Los Angeles-based Danny Roman (29-3-1, 10 KOs) battered Mexico’s Ricardo Espinoza (25-4, 21 KOs) to win convincingly by unanimous decision after 10 rounds in a super bantamweight fight.

After a slow start Roman began to out-maneuver the heavy-punching Espinoza and found openings for left uppercuts. Boy did he find openings.

“I concentrated on finding my distance,” said Roman.

Roman snapped Espinoza’s head back so many times it seemed that the Mexican fighter would not be able to last the full 10 rounds. But like most Mexican fighters he would not quit.

Espinoza tried every move in his catalogue but nothing worked against the superb technique used by Roman, who formerly held the IBF and WBA super bantamweight world titles. It was a perfect example of technical prowess defeating raw power.

The uppercut was the chosen weapon of choice and Roman exhibited how to throw it from various positions and angles. It landed perfectly every time as if targeted by a laser. Espinoza never could avoid the uppercut.

During the last three rounds Espinoza’s face was bloody and battered while Roman looked as if he were merely sparring. The end seemed near but the fighter from Tijuana battled until the final bell.

“I thought he was going to go down,” said Roman. “But he had a big heart.”

All three judges scored it for Roman at 97-93 and 98-92 twice.

“It’s a step closer to getting back my titles,” said Roman who lost the titles to Murodjon Akhmadaliev a year ago by split decision. “I’m here to fight the best.”

Martinez Beats Burgos

Sacramento’s Xavier Martinez (16-0, 11 KOs) discovered that Tijuana’s Juan Carlos Burgos (34-5-2, 21 KOs) still has plenty of fight remaining and showed it with a gutsy 10 rounds of back-and-forth battering. Still, Martinez won by unanimous decision though every round was competitive.

Boy was it competitive.

Martinez, 23, had a 10-year advantage in youth but was unable to convince Burgos. Every round saw savage combinations connect by each fighter, but the judges all felt that the Sacramento fighter was superior. All three scored it 99-91 for Martinez. The crowd booed the decision.

“I was landing the cleaner shots,” said Martinez. “He’s a tough competitor.”

Other Results

A super lightweight match saw Jose Valenzuela (8-0) knock out Nelson Hampton (7-4) in the first round.

Gabriela Fundora (1-0) won her pro debut by unanimous decision over Jazmin Valverde (2-2) in a four round flyweight match. Fundora is the sister of super welterweight contender Sebastian Fundora.

A lightweight bout was won by Justin Cardona (5-0) by first round knockout of James De Herrera (4-7).

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Buatsi Flattens Dos Santos in Manchester; Charr KOs Fraudulent Lovejoy in Cologne

Arne K. Lang

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In a Knockout of the Year candidate, rising light heavyweight contender Joshua Buatsi (14-0, 12 KOs) leveled Daniel Blenda Dos Santos, an unheralded Frenchman, in the fourth round, closing the show with a pulverizing right hand – and for good measure, touching him with another right as he fell. A 2016 Olympic bronze medalist for England, the Ghana-born Buatsi trained for two months in the California Bay Area under his new trainer Virgil Hunter and his American sojourn paid dividends.

Dos Santos, who found his way to boxing after serving three-and-a-half years in prison, was undefeated (15-0, 8 KOs) coming in, but hadn’t fought beyond six rounds. He was knocked down earlier in the fight with a chopping right hand. There were less than 20 seconds remaining in the fourth when Buatsi put Dos Santos to sleep, and to his credit he did not celebrate but consoled his distraught victim.

Other Bouts

In a shocker, 31-year-old southpaw Jason Cunningham improved to 29-6 (6) with a unanimous decision over Gamal Yafai (18-2) who was making the first defense of the European bantamweight title that he won in Milan.

Cunningham had Yafai on the canvas three times — knocking him down with left hands in the second, fourth and sixth rounds — but Yafai, the younger brother of former 115-pound world title-holder Kal Yafai — wasn’t deterred and kept coming forward. In the end, however, Cunningham’s lead was too big for Yafai to overcome. The judges had it 115-110 and 114-111 x2 for the southpaw who was a consensus 10/1 underdog.

Super middleweight Lerrone Richards breezed to a lopsided 12-round decision over Italian veteran Giovanni DeCarolis to snatch a vacant European title. Trained by Dave Coldwell, who previously handled Tony Bellew, Richards was content to rack up points and the one-dimensional DeCarolis, who was making his first start in 23 months, had no way to stop him.

The judges had it 120-108 and 119-109 twice. The London-born Richards, whose family roots are in Ghana, improved to 15-0 (3). This may have been the last rodeo for the 36-year-old DeCarolis who fell to 28-10-1.

Belfast’s Tommy McCarthy (18-2, 9 KOs) was fed a softie for his first defense of his European cruiserweight title in the form of 36-year-old Romanian Alexandru Jur who brought a 19-4 record but had defeated only four men with winning records. Except for a few brief moments, Jur showed little inclination to mix it up. McCarthy put Jur down with a body punch in round four and finished him off two rounds later with another body punch. The official time was 2:09.

McCarthy, who is of Irish and Jamaican descent, moves on to a date with fellow Brit Chris Billam-Smith. Jur lost for the fourth time in his last six starts.

Cologne

Credit Christopher Lovejoy for having the gumption to defy Don King who threatened legal action if Lovejoy went ahead with his match today with WBA “champion in recess” Mahmoud (Manuel) Charr. But the 37-year-old Lovejoy, who arrived in Germany all by himself, traveled a long way to destroy whatever credibility he may have had. Fighting off the grid, he had rung up 19 fast knockouts in 19 fights against 19 presumptive Tijuana taxi drivers.

Carrying 306 ½-pounds, the six-foot-five Lovejoy lasted less than two full rounds against Charr who was making his first ring appearance in 42 months. Lovejoy was counted out after being dropped with a volley of punches in the second round.

Photo credit: Mark Robinson / Matchroom

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