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RIP Cedric Kushner

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Sad news for NY-area boxing lifers, as the popular promoter Cedric Kushner, arguably a “B+” tier dealmaker with inarguably an grade “A” personality, died on Thursday, from a heart attack.

The fight-maker had a fondness for heavyweights, and was himself one, before undergoing surgery to downsize his frame. Kushner, age 66, was in ill health the last several years after a stroke, but friends in the fight game will recall his times in the sun, such as when his guy Hasim Rahman flipped the script and downed champion Lennox Lewis in a 2001 clash.

Kushner, born in South Africa, trod a well worn path, from the music promotion business to the sweet science. Both have low barriers to entry, where a man with XL dreams and a gift for persuasion can hack out a pathway to success. His boxing path started in 1984, or so, and he brought some flair for decibels and flash to the sport. In 2000, you would see the man and his sort of walrus-y facial hair, looking the tiniest bit glum, presiding over a show filled with B grade heavies at the Hammerstein Ballroom, in NYC, with dancers cavorting here, cigars and massages being smoked and indulged in there.

Kushner would back a Monte Barrett, or a David Tua, and get them wins, and hope they kept winning, so that they could be maneuvered into a title crack. He’d also be a figurehead to young fight game folks, who’d look up to him for wisdom and odd and delightful anecdotes. Aris Pina, of CompuBox, publicist Greg Juckett, folks like this are now laid low with the sad news…

He’d get into the big picture now and again, for sure, and early on, tasted limelight when he advised South African heavy Gerrie Coetzee, who gloved up against Larry Holmes in 1984. His all-time roster stacked up quite nicely with contemporaries over the decades. He world with and for “Irish” Teddy Mann, Marlon Starling, John Collins–Kushner worked the Illinois region for a spell—Robert Allen, Oliver McCall, Axel Schultz, Shane Mosley, Angel Manfredy, Shannon Briggs, Joel Casamayor, Ike Ibeabuchi, younger Peter Quillin.

Reporters enjoyed Kushner for his availability, and ability to fashion a decent quote, as when he said about Don King in 1988, “I used to have two pit bulls. They were too mean, so I had to get rid of them. The only difference between those dogs and Don King is that Don is much more vicious.”

That desire to give a show an extra spark made him a real-deal promoter; he brought boxing to the Apollo Theater in 1997, and was constantly looking to come up with an angle, a hook, a concept. Some recall his 2002 stab at a revamp, “ThunderBox,” which featured three round bouts and rap acts interspersed throughout. Was it a case of using tasty bbq sauce to mask past its prime beef? That could be argued, but it has to be said that Kushner knew the role of promoter was often to make the best of a bad proposition. His “Heavyweight Explosion” series often entertained to a degree greater than the sum of the parts would predict.

His stress level grew in 2000, and 2001, when he testified that he had to pay to play ie give money to an IBF exec to insure decent treatment of his fighters and took rival Don King to court, labeling him a racketeer. This guy who stopped out in sixth grade, in Cape Town, and then tried his hand as a merchant marine, before putting together shows for Fleetwood Mac and the Stones and the like, yes indeed, he packed a lot of living in.

2001 was a colorful year, as King swooped in and snagged Rahman. Kushner attended to some of the upheaval with a 2003 gastric bypass surgery. “I can’t stress enough how good I feel just a month after the operation. From an elephant to a greyhound, is what I say. For the first time in years, I’m optimistic about my life,” he told Thomas Hauser.

Ced, Uncle Ced as pal Lou DiBella called him, spoke at a groggy pace and didn’t have a face that screamed state of joy. But he dug what he did, big time. “I’m probably one of the few people who goes to work and doesn’t look at his watch to see if it’s time to go home,” he said to Bobby Cassidy in 2005. “I look at my watch to see what time other people go home. I’m happy. I’m doing what I enjoy.”

And it wasn’t the work that was everything to him. “Boxing guys were his family,” DiBella told me. “His family was his boxing family.”

Ced was sort of like the ribald uncle, who turned you on to whiskey at a semi-inappropriate age. DiBella recalled when he started at HBO, coming over from a law firm and met Cedric for the first time.

Would you like to take a ride to Atlantic City with me, he rumbled, in a Hitchcockian tenor,  to still 20-something DiBella.

Why not, Lou said.

Ced snored some of the way there–he was well over 3 bills, with that walrus ‘stache–and they got to AC. On a seedy side street Ced saw someone he knew. “Driver, stop the car! Mary Anne,” he called out, from the window of the stretch limo, to a gal who was no stranger to a concrete hustle. “Mary Anne! How is your mum?”

This is 1990, this Harvard law grad has a dropped jaw…

“She’s much better, thanks for asking, Ced!”

Lou collected himself, asked what that was all about.

“Her mum was sick. She’s a person too!”

Well curated recollection, because it spoke to Kushners’ different sides, and the intermingling of the facets of personality and behavior we all possess, but in our fight game sphere, is often better tolerated and even appreciated than in mainstream society.

We all enjoyed Kushners’ perseverance and imagination, as when he staged a fight card in the Hamptons, in 2002, to try and bring some sweaty buzz to that meeting ground for the idle riches.

Ced soldiered on, without excessive grumbling, though his vessel was pulling a mutiny on him. David Tua proved to be a long-standing money-maker for Ced, who in 2005 acknowledged thew ups and downs he’d experienced.

“Life isn’t always fair,” Kushner said to Hauser. “And boxing rarely is. But I keep plugging along.”

The plugging included health battles, such as a 2011 spinal surgery…and we saw Ced less and less at local shows. Close pals visited him, and checked in with a man they knew loved the sport, and loved, and treated them, like family.
Ced will be sorely missed.

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Tony Yoka Makes Quick Work of Duhaupas; Yoka’s Wife Wins Too

Arne K. Lang

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An indoor rugby stadium in Nanterre, a township in an inner suburb of Paris, was the site today of a five-fight boxing show featuring Tony Yoka and his wife Estelle Mossely in separate bouts (when they fight each other, they do it in the privacy of their home). Attendance was limited to 5,000 with social distancing protocols in place.

Yoka and Mossely, the parents of two young children, the youngest a boy born in May, were each gold medal winners in boxing at the 2016 Rio games. The six-foot-seven Yoka defeated Filip Hrgovic in the semis and Joe Joyce in the gold medal round.

Today Yoka, in his first scheduled 12-rounder, was matched against 39-year-old French warhorse Johan Duhaupas who was 38-5 (25) heading in. Duhaupas went 12 rounds with Jarrell Miller, extended Deontay Wilder into the 11th frame, and knocked out Robert Helenius, the conqueror of Adam Kownacki. Despite his advanced age, he represented a step up in class for Yoka, 28, whose pro career was disrupted by a one-year suspension from the French Boxing Federation for being a no-show at three PED tests. At the very least, Duhaupas was expected to give Yoka some rounds.

But Yoka had other ideas. He needed only 121 seconds to dismantle his countryman and show that he belongs in the conversation with Daniel Dubois, Jared Anderson, the aforementioned Hrgovic and others when talking about the next generation of heavyweight stars.

Yoka (8-0, 7 KOs) dropped Duhaupas midway through the opening round with an overhand right. Duhaupas didn’t appear to be badly hurt, but he had no antidote for the barrage that followed. The coup-de-gras was a big right uppercut that sent him flying backward against the ropes. The referee stepped in immediately.

Yoka’s U.S. promoter is Top Rank which is seeminly out to corner the market on bright young heavyweight prospects. When Yoka turned pro it was under the tutelage of Virgil Hunter, the trainer of Andre Ward. Yoka has spent considerable time in Las Vegas while serving as the chief sparring partner for Joseph Parker.

estelle

Estelle Mossely kept pace with her hubby. Mossely, 28, advanced her record to 7-0 (1) with an 8-round unanimous decision over countrywoman Aurelie Froment. The scores were 80-72 across the board.

This was an assignment designed to shed the rust. Froment, 33, entered the fight with a 3-0-1 record, but hadn’t previously met an opponent with a winning record. In fact, none of Froment’s previous opponents had ever won a fight. In the aggregate, the foursome was 0-32-5 at the time that she fought them. Even the world sanctioning bodies steered clear of this affair, refusing to cloak the fight in some sort of title.

That observation aside, it was a nice win for Mossely coming so soon after giving birth. Born in France of Congolese and Ukrainian descent, she is rated the world’s best active female lightweight by BoxRec.

Hot prospect Souleymane Cissikho was originally scheduled to be on the card, but pulled out for an undisclosed reason. An Olympic teammate of Tony Yoka, Cissikho is a  special talent.

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Season 2 of the World Boxing Super Series Concludes on Saturday in Munich

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PRESS RELEASE: The hotly-anticipated World Boxing Super Series Season II Cruiserweight Final between Mairis Briedis and Yuniel Dorticos takes place behind-closed-doors in a film studio at Plazamedia Broadcasting Center in Munich, Germany on Saturday, 26 September. On the line: The Muhammad Ali Trophy, IBF World Title, and vacant Ring Magazine 200 lbs belt.

The final will be shown live on DAZN in the US and Sky Sports in the UK.

“A final for the Muhammad Ali Trophy has proved to be something extraordinary. We have seen that it brings out the best in boxers which reflects the DNA of our tournament as to deliver and continue to deliver boxing at its very best to fans of the sport,” said Andreas Benz, CEO of Comosa, the event organizer.

“Plazamedia is a phenomenal solution, the studios are providing a controlled environment which is of huge benefit to us and the production team to keep everyone safe while also putting on a great show.

“At the same time, we have done everything to secure fair conditions for both teams, and to ensure they remain healthy and isolated until the action starts.”

Mairis Briedis, tournament No. 1 seed, qualified for the final through wins over Noel Mikaelian (UD) and Krzysztof Glowacki (TKO3), while Dorticos, No. 2 seed conquered Mateusz Masternak (UD) and Andrew Tabiti (KO10) to enter the 200 lbs decider.

“We are very happy about the announcement of the final,” said Latvia’s Mairis Briedis. “I love the fact that it will be in Munich as it reminds me of every time I went to train with the Klitschko brothers in Germany and the flights were always via Munich. Those are some great memories of the time spent with them there.”

Said Miami-based Cuban, Yuniel ‘The KO Doctor’ Dorticos, IBF World Cruiserweight Champion: “To all my fans worldwide, In Europe and especially in Munich, Germany: I am super happy the World Boxing Super Series final will take place in Munich, Germany, and I will see you all on Saturday, September 26th. The KO Doctor is back and ready to prescribe another dose of pain and take the Muhammad Ali Trophy back to Miami.”

Kalle Sauerland, Chief Boxing Officer of the WBSS, said: “On 26 September we will not only crown the best cruiserweight on the planet but also send a sign to the world that boxing is back with the first major transatlantic championship bout between the undisputed number one and two in their division.

The final is not only about honour and glory, but cementing a legacy. The winner will become a member of an exclusive ‘Ali Trophy Winner Club’ that includes Oleksandr Usyk, Callum Smith, Naoya Inoue and Josh Taylor. It doesn’t get much bigger in boxing, and we expect Briedis and Dorticos to have an absolute barnstormer!”

The Muhammad Ali Trophy was created by the late world-renowned artist Silvio Gazzaniga who also designed the iconic FIFA World Cup Trophy.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 106: Return of LA Boxing, Josh Taylor, Charlos and More

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 106: Return of LA Boxing, Josh Taylor, Charlos and More

Let’s call this week the Big Build Up.

Back in the 1920s to the 1950s the City of Angels was known as the place where Humphrey Bogart lived and played characters out of Raymond Chandler’s novels. Books like the “Big Sleep” and “Lady in a Lake” were made into movies based in Los Angeles.

Well, here we are back where boxing thrives, people or not.

Los Angeles kicks off the big boxing week starting with a televised fight card that features home grown featherweight Vic Pasillas at the Microsoft Theater in the downtown area. Fox Sports 1 will televise the Premier Boxing Championship card on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Pasillas (15-0,8 KOs) faces Dominican fighter Ranfis Encarnacion (17-0, 13 KOs) in the co-main event at a fan-less event that begins a crowded week of boxing as we near the end of 2020.

“Coming out on top against Encarnación is going to catapult me into some big fights at featherweight. The division is wide open and I know with hard work I can take it over,” said Pasillas who is originally from Los Angeles. “This is by far the most important fight of my career. I’m coming with everything I got, because I know this is the turning point that will lead to bigger and better fights. I am ready to bring an exciting fight to the fans and get my hand raised in victory.”

Both Pasillas and Encarnacion are undefeated and unknown to most of the boxing world. A win changes everything especially when it’s difficult to even stage a boxing card.

Promoters are anxious to get their fighters in the ring by any means necessary.

On Thursday in Biloxi, Mississippi, super lightweight Michael Williams Jr. meets Thomas Miller in the headline attraction of a boxing card that will be streamed by UFC Fight Pass.

On Friday in southern Mexico, Serhii Bohachuk (17-0, 17 KOs) meets Alejandro Davila (21-1-2, 8 KOs) in Merida, Yucatan. No word if it will be streamed. The super welterweight from Ukraine has a 17-fight knockout streak and has become a main attraction in Hollywood, California for 360 Promotions.

“Serhii has become one of the most talked about rising stars in boxing,” said Tom Loeffler, promoter of 360 Promotions. “Boxing fans are excited to see if he can continue his knockout streak against Alejandro Davila, the toughest opponent he’s faced. He’s been training very hard with Manny Robles for this fight and if victorious, we’re certain there will be bigger opportunities for him in the near future.”

These are all tasty appetizers for the big buffet coming on Saturday.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Saturday morning, especially if you live in the California area, ESPN+ will showcase the IBF, WBA super lightweight world title fight between champion Josh Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) and Apinun Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs) in London. It will be streamed live on Sept. 26, Saturday morning, starting at 11 a.m PST.

This is an important match for Taylor (pictured on the left) who needs a win to nail down a unification clash with Jose Carlos Ramirez the WBC and WBO titlist. If Scotland’s Taylor emerges victorious the super lightweight clash will be one of the top fights of the year.

And if that fight happens to take place, then that winner more than likely meets WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford.

But first things first. Taylor needs to defeat Thailand’s Khongsong on Saturday.

“I didn’t want a warm-up fight, so getting straight back in there against my mandatory challenger is great, as it’s kept me fully focused. I want big fights in my career, so this is an important fight with my belts on the line,” said Taylor.

Charlos Pay-per-view

The Charlos brothers asked for it and they got it.

Long have the brothers from Houston, Texas asked for a pay-per-view fight card and it never seemed possible until now. The Charlos will headline a pay-per-view double-header on Saturday via Showtime.

Beginning at 4 p.m PT/ 7 p.m. ET the Showtime pay-per-view card begins with three top notch bouts:

WBO bantamweight titlist John Riel Casimero (29-4) vs Ghana’s Duke Micah (24-0, 19 KOs).

WBA super bantamweight titlist Brandon Figueroa (20-0-1, 15 KOs) vs Damien Vazquez (15-1-1, 8 KOs).

WBC middleweight titlist Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) v Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs).

Charlo was not impressed with Derevyanchenko’s performances against Daniel Jacobs and Gennady Golovkin because both were losses. He expects to dominate.

Derevyanchenko says he’s ready for Charlo.

“Golovkin is a very different fighter than Charlo, but Jacobs is similar stylistically, so that’s something I’ll be used to,” said Derevyanchenko. “This training camp has been very similar to camps for my previous fights though. We just brought in different sparring partners for this one. We’re using fighters who can show us what Charlo will bring to the ring.”

After a 30-minute intermission the second half of the boxing card begins.

Former bantamweight world champion Luis Nery (30-0, 24 KOs) moves up in weight to face Aaron Alameda (25-0, 13 KOs) for the vacant WBC super bantamweight world title. Both fighters are from Mexico.

Former super bantamweight titlists Danny Roman (27-3-1) and Juan Carlos Payano (21-3) meet in a 12-round bout.

In the grand finale WBC super welterweight titlist Jermell Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) challenges IBF and WBA super welterweight titlist Jeison Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs) in a fight for all three belts.

“We lions,” said Charlo.

It’s a very big week for boxing that begins on Wednesday and ends Saturday.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

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