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RINGSIDE REPORT: Rios Demolishes Alvarado

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Broomfield, CO: Brandon Rios dominated and stopped Mike Alvarado in just three rounds on Saturday night at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado. The bout, which many folks thought and certainly hoped would be a continuation of the frequently thrilling and savage action seen in their first two scraps, was televised live on HBO.

The fight was promoted by Top Rank as a “welterweight championship,” a considerable feat since neither man is a current titleholder in any division. But the WBO came through to offer it’s international welterweight title, something that means much less than the words “international” and “championship” might lead one to believe.

Nevertheless, this was a championship of sorts. It was the championship between two hardcore brawlers who had split two fights against each other. The winner of the third bout would claim victory over the other man, and do it by being better at what the other man is known for: being a superlative bad-ass in an age where most fighters would rather lightly tap their way to a decision victory more than perhaps any other time in the sport’s history.

This was supposed to be the championship of welterweight action fights. But Rios made short work of Alvarado instead. His hooks and uppercuts landed with great precision, and Alvarado’s return fire was slow and sloppy.

Tension filled the arena as the bout was set to begin.

The crowd booed lustily when Rios was announced, and the roar was deafening for Alvarado when he came to the ring. The hometown kid brought in droves of fight fans to cheer him on. You could see love beaming in their eyes as he strolled confidently into the arena.

But none of that would matter when the bell sounded.

“I had to come out here, and they were booing,” said Rios. “And I loved [it] and I had to do what I had to do. This could have been the end of my career, and I didn’t want that to happen, and I didn’t want it to end like this.”

Alvarado started the bout trying to box instead of brawl. He circled the ring with his hands held high. But Rios made it a street fight by the end of Round 1. He stalked and strafed the slow-footed Alvarado around the ring, making the CO. resident look like a giant-sized ragdoll.

The two went toe-to-toe in Round 2, but Rios was having his way with hooks and uppercuts on his foe until Alvarado landed a low blow to put Rios on his knees. After a brief rest due to the foul, Rios went back to work the way Rios pretty much always goes to work: with hooks, uppercuts and general nastiness.

In Round 3, Rios toppled Alvarado to the canvas with a destructive uppercut.

“The uppercut is my favorite punch,” said Rios. “I love my uppercut, and I have one of the best uppercuts in the world, and I threw it.”

Alvarado rose to his feet and fought back with vigor, but his punches still landed with rarity compared to the sharp, hard-punching Rios.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Rios. “He is a warrior and I had to take my time and be patient. I was disciplined in camp. I knew he could come back and hit me, and I know he has power in both hands.”

Referee Jay Nady stopped the fight after Round 3 on the advice of the ringside doctor after Alvarado counted four fingers held up in front of him when there were only two.

Alvarado did not look sharp in the fight. He blamed a lackluster training effort.

“I didn’t train like I should have, and that’s what I get,” said Alvarado. “I didn’t give it all I got. That’s what I get. I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been, and I got what I should have got, so it is what it is–whatever.”

Rios should have good opportunities ahead of him. He said he trusted his manager, Cameron Dunkin, to get the right fights for him. Bouts with Timothy Bradley, Ruslan Provodnikov or Juan Manuel Marquez would bring him solid money and big chances against elite foes.

Alvarado appears done as a prizefighter. He was slow, unsure of himself and inaccurate. There were rumors ringside of him missing the heavy bag during fight week workouts. That’s never a good sign.

Ramirez defeats Vlasov but needs more work

Super middleweight prospect Gilberto Ramirez hoped to show the world he was a force to be reckoned with on Saturday night. Instead, the undefeated fighter from Mexico, as well as his team, probably will reckon with the idea of him needing another year or two of seasoning before he tackles elite-level competition.

Ramirez defeated Maxim Vlasov by unanimous decision in a light heavyweight bout. Judges at ringside score the bout 96-94, 97-93 and 97-93. He improved his record to 31-0, while Vlasov fell to 30-2.

Ramirez is a much-ballyhooed prospect, one his promoter, Top Rank, probably hopes can turn into the genuine article. After all, if a prizefighter is to be as good as his handlers hope him to be, he might as well hail from the boxing-crazed country of Mexico because those fans support their fighters better than anyone.

Ramirez is a southpaw. He’s doesn’t possesses incredibly fast hands, but his punches land with solid enough thump. Moreover, he has a good little jab and he enjoys using it. That’s a good thing. Because Ramirez fights patiently behind a guard and fires power shots from the correct distance instead of barreling in forward like a madman.

While not particularly light on his feet, the undefeated prospect appears to have good balance. He keeps his feet wide enough to throw with power, and he digs to the body with both hands and with regularity.

The bout was fought at a slow pace. Vlasov was content to try and move and box for most of the fight, and he stuck Ramirez with a few straight right hands over the scheduled ten. But few, if any of them, landed with real power, so it appeared early Vlasov wasn’t going to have enough firepower to do anything but go rounds with the favored Ramirez.

So that’s what he did.

In the end, one gets the impression that Ramirez has much work to do if he’s going to compete with the very elite fighters at 168, such as Carl Froch or Andre Ward. And at 175, he would probably stand little chance against Sergey Kovalev, Adonis Stevenson, Jean Pascal or Bernard Hopkins.

But Ramirez is young and talented fighter, and neither HBO nor Top Rank are known for showcasing young fighters during primetime that they don’t believe will turn into someone special.

Ramirez may not be that noteworthy right now, but in a year or two his backers and ability might carry him into big money fights against elite-level opponents.

Check out my post-fight assessment, which is running on Boxing Channel.

— Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank

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Canelo-Charlo Gets All the Ink, but Don’t Overlook the Compelling Match-up of Gassiev-Wallin in Turkey

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Canelo-Charlo Gets All the Ink, but Don’t Overlook the Compelling Match-up of Gassiev-Wallin in Turkey

The eyes of the boxing world will be on Las Vegas this Saturday where Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez risks his four super middleweight title belts against unified 154-pound champion Jermell Charlo. Earlier that day at a luxury resort hotel in the city of Antalya on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, there’s a heavyweight match sitting under the radar that may prove to be the better fight. It’s an intriguing match-up between former world cruiserweight title-holder Murat Gassiev and Swedish southpaw Otto Wallin, a bout with significant ramifications for boxing’s glamour division.

Gassiev (30-1, 23 KOs) and Wallin (25-1, 14 KOs) have only one loss, but those setbacks came against the top dogs in the division. Gassiev was out-boxed by Oleksandr Usyk back in the days when both were cruiserweights. Wallin gave Tyson Fury a world of trouble before losing a unanimous decision.

Since those fights, both have been treading water.

Gassiev

Gassiev was inactive for 27 months after his match with Usyk while dealing with legal issues and an injury to his left shoulder. He is 4-0 (4 KOs) since returning to the ring while answering the bell for only eight rounds. The only recognizable name among those four victims is German gatekeeper Michael Wallisch. After stopping Wallisch, Gassiev was out of action for another 13 months while reportedly dealing with an arm injury.

A first-round knockout of Carlouse Welch, an obscure 40-something boxer from the U.S. state of Georgia on Aug. 26, 2022, in Belgrade, Serbia, was promoted as a title fight. The sanctioning body was the Eurasian Boxing Parliament (insert your own punchline here). Gassiev followed that up with a second-round knockout of former NFL linebacker Mike Balogun who came in undefeated and was seemingly a legitimate threat to him.

Although he has yet to fight a ranked opponent since leaving the cruiserweight division, Gassiev — a former stablemate of Gennady Golovkin who has been living in Big Bear, California, training under Abel Sanchez – is one of the most respected fighters in the division because he has one-punch knockout power as Balogun and others can well attest. The rub against the Russian-Armenian bruiser is that he is somewhat robotic.

Wallin

Otto Wallin, a 32-year-old southpaw from Sweden who trains in New York under former world lightweight champion Joey Gamache, fought Tyson Fury on Sept. 14, 2019 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. There was a general feeling that the Swede would be a stroll in the park for Fury, but to the contrary, he gave the Gypsy King a hard tussle while losing a unanimous decision.

Wallin is 5-0 since that night beginning with victories over Travis Kauffman (KO 5) and Dominic Breazeale (UD 12), but his last three opponents were softer than soft and all three lasted the distance. In order, Wallin won an 8-round decision over Kamil Sokolowski, who was 11-24-2 heading in, won a 10-round decision over ancient Rydell Booker, and won an 8-round decision over Helaman Olguin. His bout with Utah trial horse Olguin was at a banquet hall in Windham, New Hampshire.

It isn’t that Wallin has been avoiding the top names in the division; it’s the other way around. His promoter Dmitriy Salita reportedly came close to getting Wallin a match with Anthony Joshua whose team had second thoughts about sending Joshua in against another southpaw after back-to-back setbacks to Oleksandr Usyk.

Gassiev vs Wallin is a true crossroads fight. Both are in dire need of a win over a credible opponent. At last look, Gassiev, who figures to have the crowd in his corner, was a 3/1 favorite.

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Skavynskyi and Bustillos Win on a MarvNation Card in Long Beach

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Skavynskyi and Bustillos Win on a MarvNation Card in Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Ca.-A cool autumn night saw welterweights and minimumweights share main events for a MarvNation fight card on Saturday.

Ukraine’s Eduard Skavynskyi (15-0, 7 KOs) experienced a tangled mess against the awkward Alejandro Frias (14-10-2) but won by decision after eight rounds in a welterweight contest at the indoor furnace called the Thunder Studios.

It was hot in there for the more than 600 people inside.

Skavynskyi probably never fought someone like Mexico’s Frias whose style was the opposite of the Ukrainian’s fundamentally sound one-two style. But round after round the rough edges became more familiar.

Neither fighter was ever damaged but all three judges saw Skavynskyi the winner by unanimous decision 79-73 on all three cards. The Ukrainian fighter trains in Ventura.

Bustillo Wins Rematch

Applerose2

In the female main event Las Vegas’ Yadira Bustillos (8-1) stepped into a rematch with Karen Lindenmuth (5-2) and immediately proved the lessons learned from their first encounter.

Bustillos connected solidly with an overhand right and staggered Lindenmuth but never came close to putting the pressure fighter down. Still, Bustillos kept turning the hard rushing Lindenmuth and snapping her head with overhand rights and check left hooks.

Lindenmuth usually overwhelms most opponents with a smothering attack that causes panic. But not against Bustillos who seemed quite comfortable all eight rounds in slipping blows and countering back.

After eight rounds all three judges scored the contest for Bustillos 78-74 and 80-72 twice. Body shots were especially effective for the Las Vegas fighter in the fifth round. Bustillos competes in the same division as IBF/WBO title-holder Yokasta Valle.

Other Bouts

In a middleweight clash, undefeated Victorville’s Andrew Buchanan (3-0-1) used effective combination punching to defeat Mexico’s Fredy Vargas (2-1-1) after six rounds. Two judges scored it 59-55 and a third 60-54 for Buchanan. No knockdowns were scored.

A super lightweight match saw Sergio Aldana win his pro debut by decision after four rounds versus Gerardo Fuentes (2-9-1).

Photos credit: Al Applerose

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Tedious Fights and a Controversial Draw Smudge the Matchroom Boxing Card in Orlando

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Matchroom Boxing was at the sprawling Royale Caribe Resort Hotel in Orlando, Florida tonight with a card that aired on DAZN. The main event was a ho-hum affair between super lightweights Richardson Hitchins and Jose Zepeda.

SoCal’s Zepeda has been in some wars in the past, notably his savage tussle with Ivan Baranchyk, but tonight he brought little to the table and was outclassed by the lanky Hitchins who won all 12 rounds on two of the cards and 11 rounds on the other.  There were no knockdowns, but Zepeda suffered a cut on his forehead in round seven that was deemed to be the product of an accidental head butt and another clash in round ten forced a respite in the action although Hitchins suffered no apparent damage.

It was the sort of fight where each round was pretty much a carbon of the round preceding it. Brooklyn’s Hitchins, who improved to 17-0 (7), was content to pepper Zepeda with his jab, and the 34-year-old SoCal southpaw, who brought a 37-3 record, was never able to penetrate his defense and land anything meaningful.

Hitchins signed with Floyd Mayweather Jr’s promotional outfit coming out of the amateur ranks and his style is reminiscent in ways of his former mentor. Like Mayweather, he loses very few rounds. In his precious engagement, he pitched a shutout over previously undefeated John Bauza.

Co-Feature

In the co-feature, Conor Benn returned to the ring after an absence of 17 months and won a unanimous decision over Mexico’s Rodolfo Orozco. It wasn’t a bad showing by Benn who showed decent boxing skills, but more was expected of him after his name had been bandied about so often in the media. Two of the judges had it 99-91 and the other 96-94.

Benn (22-0, 14 KOs) was a late addition to the card although one suspects that promoter Eddie Hearn purposely kept him under wraps until the week of the fight so as not to deflect the spotlight from the other matches on his show. Benn lost a lucrative date with Chris Eubank Jr when he was suspended by the BBBofC when evidence of a banned substance was found in his system and it’s understood that Hearn has designs on re-igniting the match-up with an eye on a date in December. For tonight’s fight, Benn carried a career-high 153 ½ pounds. Mexico’s Orozco, who was making his first appearance in a U.S. ring, declined to 32-4-3.

Other Bouts of Note

The welterweight title fight between WBA/WBC title-holder Jessica McCaskill (15-3-1) and WBO title-holder Sandy Ryan (6-1-1) ended in a draw and the ladies’ retain their respective titles. Ryan worked the body effectively and the general feeling was that she got a raw deal, a sentiment shared by the crowd which booed the decision. There was a switch of favorites in the betting with the late money seemingly all on the Englishwoman who at age 30 was the younger boxer by nine years.

The judges had it 96-94 Ryan, 96-95, and a vilified 97-93 for Chicago’s McCaskill.

In the opener of the main DAZN stream, Houston middleweight Austin “Ammo” Williams, 27, improved to 15-0 (10) with a 10-round unanimous decision over 39-year-old Toronto veteran Steve Rolls (22-3). All three judges had it 97-93. Rolls has been stopped only once, that by Gennady Golovkin.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom Boxing

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