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Rest in Peace, Harold “Hercules” Johnson

Matt McGrain

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“I didn’t want that fight. I didn’t want to fight Harold Johnson. They had to pay me a lot of money to fight that animal.” Willie Pastrano

Harold Johnson was a licensed union drummer and as his astonishing fight career wound down he could be found in clubs with his band “Harold Johnson and the Contenders.” The story goes that when Johnson ran out of money, he would pawn his drums and then take a fight, explaining that spate of ten round decisions over the likes of John Alford (23-15-3) and Eddie Jones (7-5) in the late sixties. When he was paid, he would rescue his drums and return to the jazz circuit and bang out his second love on stage. Having never heard him play I’ll make a guess that he married a sizzling left to steady right.

I don’t know what he made of Johnson the musician but Philadelphia boxing scribe Jack McKinney compared the fighter to Bach. He was on to something, I think. French composer Charles Gounod regarded Mozart as the most beautiful composer and Bach as the “most comprehensive”, damning him, it might seem, with faint praise – but completeness is in many ways the highest praise a great artist can pay a peer. What Gounod is saying is that Bach does more perfectly than his fellow genius, for all that he is not quite so dazzling. Something similar can be said about Johnson.

Johnson’s Mozart was Archie Moore. It is hard, really, to exaggerate the atrocious luck he experienced in sharing an era with arguably the greatest light-heavyweight in history but nor can Johnson’s bravery in setting out to master this man be overstated. He first met Moore in April of 1949, two months after his impressive defeat of Chilean heavyweight Arturo Godoy. Godoy was almost a decade removed from his outstanding performance against the immortal Joe Louis but he still held a twenty-pound weight advantage over the smaller Johnson. The great Tommy Loughran was working closely with him at that time, and it showed. Harold reportedly boxed his way calmly and clearly to a unanimous decision. Unbeaten at 24-0 he was still an underdog against the vastly more experienced Moore in a fight that was laughably listed as an eliminator for the light-heavyweight title then held by Freddie Mills.

Moore would have to wait four years for his shot but he looked like a champion against Johnson that April evening in 1949. Johnson was never in the fight. Moore was aggressive from the first while Johnson banked upon his jab to keep Moore off. It didn’t work, and by the sixth he was bleeding from the nose and by the seventh he was hauling himself off the canvas.

“I knew I’d win,” Moore told the press. “But the tough ones are still ahead.”

Johnson took his defeat quietly, in keeping with his character. He had won no more than three rounds in the ten round contest and had been bullied and outclassed, but there is something dismissive in that line that bothers me a little – “the tough ones are still ahead” – and I suspect it bothered Johnson too. Moore was among the cleverest and most deadly of punchers in history but for whatever reason his name was never far from Johnson’s mouth. It is hard to think of a more difficult way to make a living in the 1950s than fighting Archie Moore, but that became Johnson’s job – he met him four times in that decade.

By the end of their first rematch Johnson was bleeding from his “nose, mouth and left eye” but on one card he won five of the ten rounds. He was gathering experience, closing in. Three months later in December of 1951, Harold Johnson defeated Archie Moore by unanimous decision 5-4, 5-4, 6-4. A low blow landed by Moore in the tied fifth round cost him a draw, but the most significant factor was Johnson’s left. It had developed into perhaps the most cultured appendage in the history of the glittering light-heavyweight division.

Precious footage of their fifth and final contest fought in August of 1954 for the world’s light-heavyweight championship survives until this day, and in it we see just what a punch Johnson’s left jab had become. Within seconds of the bell for the first round he threw a swift jab to Moore’s body while leaning away, a stiff jab to the head thrown from behind his high left-shoulder as Moore ducked and moved in, and three short-arm hooks, arm punches thrown as a reaction to the champion’s sudden presence within his sphere of action. Two different kind of attacking jabs and three different kinds of defensive hooks, Johnson shows a whole offence without once chancing the right hand. Often outreached even in the light-heavyweight division, Johnson developed a beautiful, baiting footwork mode, moving away from an opponent in tiny increments, moving even the genius Moore out of a crouch and slightly towards him – simply by moving his head backwards in a deep stance he puts Archie on the end of his jab. He was conservative with his balance and this sometimes cost him punching opportunities and led the ignorant to name him boring, but it bought him control of the range against a man who thought he had mastered that forever. By the fifth Moore is clearly playing Johnson’s game and losing.

In the tenth, Johnson dropped his man with a sneaky right behind the ear. If the fight had ended with that round like their previous contests, Johnson would have been victorious; if it had been fought over twelve, he would have been victorious – but it was a championship fight decided over fifteen rounds, a distance Johnson had never boxed before. By the thirteenth he was hanging on and in the fourteenth, still ahead on two of the cards, he was cruelly stopped by a resurgent Moore.

I think Johnson’s problem with his nemesis was a stylistic one. If he was classical, Moore was the jazz Johnson so loved, technically proficient but free-wheeling, as capable of the unexpected as the true. In the end, when Moore had to abandon himself to win, he knew where to find Johnson in a way that Johnson could never replicate with Moore. Willie Pastrano called him “a fighter’s fighter, a perfectionist” but his commitment to what was correct described his limitations, too.

Those limitations did not prevent him adding a second layer of astonishing success at heavyweight. Johnson is perhaps the most underrated heavyweight in history and few light-heavyweights come close to matching his overall resume in the unlimited class. In 1961 he put on a left-handed clinic against master-technician Eddie Machen, out-jabbing the man who was supposed to carry the best left in the division. Even more impressive was his narrow defeat of former heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles. A victory that came almost a decade before his defeat of Machen it means that Johnson proved himself the heavyweight division’s definitive technician in fights eight years apart against world-class opposition. Jimmy Bivins, Nino Valdes and Clarence Henry were the other major heavyweight scalps he carried, the last in particular regarded as an enormous shock against an overwhelming favourite.

Indeed, his only losses at heavyweight came in strange circumstances. In a 1950 fight with Jersey Joe Walcott he withdrew in the third with an injured lower back. He was also “stopped” without having been hit against Julio Mederos in the second, an apparent victim of a drugging by a “stranger” who presented him with a “bitter orange.” It should be enough to say that an African-American that turned professional in the 1940s walked a strange and difficult path.

Despite his glowing success above, light-heavy was where Johnson walked his true path. It had its valleys, not least his two rounds stoppage at the hands of puncher Billy Smith but eventually he took the long walk to a ring containing Doug Jones, the winner to be named the undisputed champion of the world. Jones, ten short months from extending a prospect soon to be known as Muhammad Ali, was embarrassed in a one-sided masterclass that to this day remains among the benchmarks for technical excellence in the field of boxing. Johnson looks old; he is balding, the severe crew-cut he wore from his navy days becoming redundant. But the younger Jones just isn’t allowed to hit him without suffering. He is smooth and Jones is fast, and this is not a contest.

Johnson, by his stage had mastered the control of his opponents trailing hand, with jab, with movement, with vision. Glimmers of what we see against Moore are concrete lightning now, he often ditches the Jones jab before he has really thrown it, a twitch of his head and then, boom, across comes the right hand, an uppercut, a straight, a feint and a jab. I managed to score the seventh and fourteenth for Jones; sympathy may have played a part.

In the aftermath, Johnson once again demanded Archie Moore, for what would have been a sixth time, but had to settle for Gustav Scholz in Berlin in front of forty-thousand Germans. He took the decision in what some regard as his finest hour. When he returned to America he was matched with defensive specialist Willie Pastrano after Henry Hank withdrew from a proposed title fight with a facial injury. Such was Pastrano’s respect for Johnson that they had to make him three different offers before they could come up with a payday he could not refuse. What appears on film to be another one-sided schooling followed, although Johnson’s rhythm was destroyed by Pastrano’s jittery up-jab and mobility. Somehow the decision went against Johnson and his short title run was over.

“Man, I just got lucky, that’s all,” Pastrano would say years later. “After each round I’d say ‘Well, I’m still here. Thank God.’”

Johnson was never particularly well managed. When he won the title he received a bonus of just $250. His fifth fight with Moore was the first time he received a purse larger than $6,000. He once claimed career earnings of just under $200,000 but spread over a twenty-three year career that represents just over $8,000 per annum. Soon, he was pawning that drum-kit. Then he made a desperate and failed comeback attempt. Finally he sold the trophies of his fistic greatness, transforming them from riches to memorabilia with each swift, sad transaction. Questioned about his excellent physical condition in later life he would say with a serious smile that he could not afford to gain weight because he could not afford to buy new clothes.

In the end he seems to have found a modicum of peace, living his last years “in quiet retirement in northeast Philadelphia” according to phillyboxinghistory.com. But no more writers will seek him out there to hear about those glory days that spanned four decades and two weight divisions. No young fighters will approach him, as Bernard Hopkins once did, and beg his wisdom or pay their respects. He died this week at the age of eighty-six. Watching him box in that timeless style in stark black and white all day today has made that fact unreal.

The great matchmaker Teddy Brenner once called Johnson the perfect fighter but added that “there is no room in boxing for perfection.”

And you know what he means.

But I’m not sure that Archie Moore would agree with him. Nor would Ezzard Charles. Or Jimmy Bivins. Or Arturo Godoy, or Bert Lytell, or Clarence Henry, Bob Satterfield, Nino Valdes, Eddie Machen, Eddie Cotton, Doug Jones, Gustav Sholz, Willie Pastrano, Henry Hank…

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New Champ Teofimo Lopez Continues Upstaging Bigger Names; Lomachenko Next?

Bernard Fernandez

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New Champ Teofimo Lopez Continues Upstaging Bigger Names; Lomachenko Next?

NEW YORK – It is standard practice in all sports, not just boxing, that any phenom who draws growing attention is soon said to be the “new” someone or other, a stylistic successor to a superstar who previously set impossibly high standards of excellence. Such comparisons can place enormous pressure on the flavor-of-the-moment upstart, who has to deal with the long shadow cast by the legendary figure to whom he has been unfairly linked, in addition to the already-difficult task of establishing himself on his own terms.

Consider the plight of such OK-but-not-great heavyweights as Jimmy Ellis, Greg Page and Larry Donald, all of whom patterned themselves as wannabe Muhammad Alis both in and out of the ring, and in each case came up far short of replicating the one-of-a-kind original.

The iconic figure to whom newly crowned IBF lightweight champion Teofimo “The Takeover” Lopez has been most frequently compared is all-time great Roberto Duran. It is far too early in the 22-year-old Lopez’s career for such assessments to have any real validity, but what happened here Saturday night in Madison Square Garden, and quite possibly might happen next spring, could serve to legitimize the Brooklyn-born knockout artist’s chances of becoming something so much more than just another flash in the pan.

Not only did Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) electrify the on-site crowd of 10,101 and an ESPN viewing audience with what basically was a one-punch, second-round dethronement of the formidable Richard Commey (29-3, 26 KOs), he essentially upstaged the ostensible star of the show, WBO welterweight titlist Terence “Bud” Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs), who retained that belt with a ninth-round stoppage of Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-1-1, 17 KOs). And there are more than a few knowledgeable observers of the sweet science who consider Crawford to be the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.

What makes Lopez’s latest tour de force so impressive is not the manner in which he destroyed Commey, who is arguably the finest fighter to come out of Ghana since Hall of Famer Azumah Nelson, but the fact that it was witnessed from ringside by WBC/WBA/WBO lightweight ruler Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs), whose next outing could pair him with the ultra-self-confident kid for the undisputed 135-pound title. There are those who would say that Lopez is still too inexperienced to test himself against Loma, another established king of the ring with ample support as the sport’s pound-for-pound best, but impatience has always been a distinguishing feature of the very young, who want what they want and want it now.

“Ya’ll know who I want to fight next,” Lopez, in a not-so-veiled reference to Lomachenko, said after he separated Commey from his senses with a crushing overhand right that sent the Ghanaian crashing to the canvas early in round two. A fighter’s natural competitive instincts enabled a discombobulated Commey to lurch to his feet on unsteady legs, and those same instincts sent him backing into the ropes for support, as if there was any to be had. Lopez knew just what to do, boring in and taking target practice against an opponent incapable of fighting back until referee David Fields stepped in and acknowledged the inevitable after an elapsed time of 1 minute, 13 seconds.

Lomachenko is just as cocksure in his assessment of his abilities as Lopez is in his, and he said, sure, he’d be open to a clear-the-decks showdown with Lopez, a match that seemingly could be made easily since both fighters are promoted by Top Rank and thus regularly appear on ESPN telecasts.

“We want all the titles,” Lomachenko said of a scrap Top Rank CEO and founder Bob Arum said he is just as anxious to make as the would-be combatants. “Now (Lopez) is a world champion and interesting for me, because he has a title. I think yes (that his next bout will be against Lopez). I will prepare for this fight.”

It could well be that Lopez, who won his weight class at the 2015 U.S. Olympic Boxing Trials but was inexplicably left off the American squad, obliging him to represent his father’s birth country of Honduras in Rio de Janeiro, is getting too far ahead of himself in pressing for an immediate go at Loma. Canelo Alvarez, then only 23, was not nearly as well-rounded a fighter as he is now when he took on Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Sept. 14, 2013, losing a unanimous decision. The more prudent move might have been for Team Canelo to wait a couple of years for the Mexican sensation, another claimant to the much-debated pound-for-pound throne, to gain more seasoning, but, again, youth always feels it must be served sooner rather than later.

Promoter Lou DiBella, who will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on June 14, had a vested interest in the Commey-Lopez fight as he has Commey, but he couldn’t help but be impressed by what he’d seen of the winner.

“He’s got dynamite in his fists,” DiBella said of Lopez. “All you can do is just shrug your shoulders and say, `OK.’ That kid is a very athletic offensive force. Richard got caught with that dynamite and that was that. The fight was over when that big punch landed.”

But there is more to Lopez’s evolution as a potential megastar than a big punch. Style points count at the box office as much as talent, and DiBella said Lopez “has charisma coming out the ying-yang. When you have that kind of arsenal, you have a chance against anybody, including Loma.”

Lopez certainly understood – again – that this most recent occasion to shine came on the same night as the Heisman Trophy presentation in New York City. He celebrated another star turn by quickly tugging on an LSU football jersey bearing the No. 9 worn this season by Heisman-winning quarterback Joe Burrow, a virtual replay of what Lopez did on another Heisman night in 2018, when he needed only 44 seconds to demolish veteran contender Menard Menard at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, whereupon he produced a red Oklahoma jersey with the No. 1 worn by Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray.

It might be said that Teofimo Lopez is now the quarterback of his own destiny. And should he do unto Loma what he did to Menard, Commey and more than a few others, maybe those way-too-early comparisons to Duran won’t seem quite so wildly exaggerated.

Circumstances making the possibility of a Lomachenko-Lopez showcase event being made without fuss or bother must be at least a bit irksome to Crawford, who, despite still being at the top of his game, is 32 and possibly aware that his window of opportunity for making the high-visibility, high-paying legacy fights he desires must soon begin to close, at least a little.

No disrespect to Kavaliauskas, an Oxnard, Calif.-based Lithuanian whose full name is so long that for brevity’s sake it was shortened to his nickname, “Mean Machine,” on all promotional materials, but he is not on the more exalted tier as WBC/IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr., WBA welter titlist Manny Pacquiao and former division champs Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter, all of whom are controlled by Premier Boxing Champions, Matchroom Sport, DAZN or Fox/Showtime. That is a reality that, whether fight fans like it or not, diminishes the likelihood of their ever sharing the ring with Crawford.

Nor is Crawford, an introvert by nature indisposed to the sort of chest-thumping that is second nature to others, apt to brag and preen his way into a brighter spotlight. He does most of his talking with his fists, and they again made a compelling argument as to his exceptional skill level, if perhaps at a lower audible than, say, Ali, Mayweather or even the evolving Lopez.

Deftly switching from southpaw to orthodox and back again, as is his wont, Crawford – a native of Omaha, Neb., who was cheered on by an actual Heisman Trophy winner, Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers, who made his way to the Garden after appearing at the Heisman presentation – probed for weaknesses in Mean Machine’s defenses before turning up the heat in the fifth round, when, from an orthodox stance, he registered the first of his three knockdowns with a straight right. He put his game opponent down twice more in the ninth, prompting referee Ricky Gonzalez to wave a halt to the proceedings after an elapsed time of 44 seconds. At the time of the stoppage, Crawford led 79-72 on two of the three official scorecards and by 78-73 on the other.

“I thought I’d have to entertain ya’ll for a little bit,” Crawford said of his tactical delay before pressing the issue. “He’s a strong fighter, durable, and I thought I’d give the crowd something to cheer for.”

Arum suggested that, standard roadblocks to the contrary, Crawford’s next opponent could be Shawn Porter, but that hardly seems as inevitable at this point as Lomachenko-Lopez. To say Crawford is frustrated at being fenced off from the kind of competition that could certify his belief that he is an all-time great would be an understatement.

“I’ll fight anybody. I’ve been saying that for I don’t know how long,” he said, somewhat ruefully. “I’m not ducking anyone on the PBC side or Top Rank platform. I want to fight all the top guys.”

In the third fight of the card televised by ESPN, two-time Olympian Michael “Mick” Conlan (13-0, 7 KOs), the Northern Island representative who believed he was screwed out of a medal in Rio on a controversial decision that went to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin, and responded to the verdict by taking off his gloves and giving obscene single-finger expressions of his discontent to Russian president Putin, who was seated at ringside, got his revenge of sorts on a wide, 10-round unanimous decision over Nikitin (3-1, no KOs).

“I needed to right this wrong,” Conlan said. “Full credit to Nikitin, who fought his heart out. There’s no bad blood. There never was. Now, we can put this chapter of my career behind me.”

Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

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Fast Results from the Big Apple: Crawford and Teofimo Win Impressively

Arne K. Lang

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Two world title fights ornamented Bob Arum’s pre-Christmas show at Madison Square Garden. In the main go, Terence “Bud” Crawford stopped brave but ultimately out-gunned Egidijus Kavaliauskas in the ninth stanza. The official time was 0.44. Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) was making the third defense of the IBF welterweight title he won from Jeff Horn.

Kavaliauskas (21-1-1) had some good moments early and stung Crawford with a looping right hand in round three that generated an apparent knockdown that was ruled a slip. But Crawford, with his superior hand speed, ultimately assumed control, knocking his Lithuanian foe to the canvas in round eight and then again in round nine. The fight ended with Kavaliauskas on his feet but clearly beyond the point of no return.

In the co-feature, Teofimo Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) turned in another spectacular performance, stopping Richard Commey in the second round to snatch away Commey’s IBF lightweight title.

Lopez and Commey launched right hands almost simultaneously, but Lopez’s punch got their first. Commey got up in a hurry after landing on his right knee, but his legs were spaghetti and he reeled about the ring like a drunken sailor. Lopez then pummeled him against the ropes, landing a slew of unanswered punches to force the referee to waive it off. Heading in, Commey was 29-2 with both losses by split decision.

Lopez has been calling out Vasiliy Lomachenko and it appears they will meet in April.

Other Bouts

In the TV opener, Northern Ireland’s Michael Conlan (13-0, 7 KOs) scored a unanimous decision over former amateur rival Vladimir Nikitin (3-1). Russia’s Nikitin held two wins over Conlan at the amateur level, most famously a terrible decision in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The scores were lopsidedly in favor of Conlan (100-90, 99-91, and 98-92). While he was the rightful winner, the fight wasn’t as one-sided as the scores suggested. There were no knockdowns, but Conlan suffered a bad cut over his right eye in the eighth round, the best round of the fight.

Fast rising super middleweight Edgar Berlanga, a 22-year-old New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent, did it again, scoring his 13th first round knockout in as many fights.  Berlanga scored two knockdowns, the first with a left hook and the second with a body shot, before the ref interceded to save Cesar Nunez from further punishment. A 34-year old Spaniard, Nunez entered the contest with a misleading 16-1-1 record.

Australian junior welterweight George Kambosos Jr improved to 18-0 (10) with a 10-round split decision over former world lightweight titlist Mickey Bey (22-4-1). The scores were 97-92, 96-93, and 94-95.

Kambosos sealed the win with a big 10th round, knocking Bey down with a right-left combination and pummeling him when the action resumed. It was a case of youth being served. At age 26, the heavily tattooed Australian was the younger man by 10 years.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

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Vergil Ortiz Jr KOs Brad Solomon at Fantasy Springs (plus Undercard Results)

David A. Avila

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INDIO, Calif.-Vergil Ortiz Jr hunted and pursued the elusive Brad Solomon for several rounds before lowering the boom with three knockdowns and ultimately stopping the formerly unstoppable fighter for a knockout victory on Friday.

It’s on to bigger and better things.

Ortiz (15-0, 15 KOs) proved that styles didn’t matter and Solomon’s (28-2, 9 KOs) slippery moves couldn’t prevent the brutal outcome before several hundred fans and two Boxing Hall of Famers at Fantasy Springs Casino. It was Solomon’s first ever loss by knockout.

Despite winning all of his previous fights by stoppage, the lean Texan who trains in Riverside, Calif. had never fought a boxer with the pedigree of Solomon. It was the main question remaining for Ortiz. Could he figure out the winning equation to defeat a pure boxer?

He had the answer in his pocket all of the time.

Solomon moved smoothly around the ring from the opening bell. Ortiz followed with his tight guard and snap quick punches to the body and head. The first round revealed that Ortiz’s quick hands were just as quick as Solomon’s and much more powerful.

“I had to utilize my jab, figure out the right time to throw a punch,” said Ortiz. “He came to fight.”

After three rounds of chase and pursue, both fighters exchanged briefly and a body shot by Ortiz convinced the fleet opponent to go back on his toes. While trying to move away Ortiz fired a stiff left jab and down went Solomon. Body shots followed and Solomon was visibly affected by them. On one occasion he feigned a low blow but referee Raul Caiz ruled it was a clean blow.

“I can’t lie. I don’t think he was hurt right there,” said Ortiz of the jab knockdown. “

The subsequent blows would prove otherwise in the next round.

Ortiz opened up the fifth round at a rapid pace and though Solomon tried evasive maneuvering, it all proved in vain especially after a six-punch volley by Ortiz. Down went Solomon in the corner but he was able to beat the count. Solomon got up and tried to use his quickness to avoid Ortiz’s charge but a double left hook to the head sent him down once again. Referee Caiz waved the fight over at 2:22 of the fifth round to give Ortiz the knockout win and retain the WBA Gold welterweight title.

“I just took my time,” said Ortiz. “He’s difficult to figure out and made me use my brain.”

Ortiz, 21, continued his domination of the welterweight division though many felt Solomon could stall his rapid ascent to the top.

El Flaco

Serhii “Flaco” Bohachuk (17-0, 17 KOs) continued his knockout streak but needed a little time to figure out the switching tactics of Colombia’s Carlos Galvan (17-10-1, 16 KOs). But after five rounds he discovered that the body attack was the key. Bohachuk floored Galvan three times in the fifth round, two by body shots and the end came at 1:40 of the fifth round.

Other Bouts

Puerto Rico’s Alberto “El Explosivo” Machado (22-2, 18 KOs) snapped a two-fight losing streak by moving up to the lightweight division and knocking out Dominican Republic’s Luis Porozo (14-2, 7 KOs) with body shots in the second round. Machado had problems making the 130-pound super featherweight limit and showed a move up in weight was beneficial as he dropped Porozo three times until referee Tom Taylor ended the fight at 2:59 of the second round for a win by knockout.

Machado is co-promoted by Miguel Cotto Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions.

Alexis Rocha (15-0, 10 KOs) withstood an all-out assault from Mexico’s Robert Valenzuela Jr. (17-2, 16 KOs) early in the welterweight title fight and used a withering body attack to break down the taller fighter. After that it was all downhill sledding for the Santa Ana fighter who broke the will of Valenzuela with bludgeoning blows to the left and right side of the body.

“I was being lazy to be honest, so it’s my fault,” said Rocha on being bloodied by a counter uppercut while punching. “It’s very important, I came to fight and throw body punches to wear my opponent down. I think that’s very key in boxing in general.”

At the end of the fifth round the Mexican fighter was holding on. The fight was stopped at the end of the fifth round giving Rocha the win by knockout and he retains the WBC Continental Americas title in the welterweight division.

“I knew the body shots were taking a toll on him,” Rocha said. “Today was a good learning experience.”

Bektemir Melikuziev (4-0, 3 KOs) boxed his way to a unanimous decision victory over Vaughn Alexander (15-4, 9 KOs) in a 10-round fight for the WBA Continental Americas title. But it was sort of strange to see a guy nicknamed “the Bully” dance around the ring avoiding contact. Still, he won every round but disenchanted fans with his unwillingness to exchange with the muscular Alexander. No knockdowns were scored in the fight. All three judges saw it 100-90 for Melikuziev.

Luis Feliciano (14-0, 8 KOs) knocked down Herbert Acevedo (16-3-1, 6 KOs) early in the 10 round NABF super lightweight title fight and then cruised to victory by unanimous decision. The Puerto Rican who trains in Southern California pummeled Acevedo’s body before delivering a two-punch combination that sent the challenger to the deck. It was Feliciano’s first defense of the title he captured by decision over talented Genaro Gamez.

“I give props to Herbert Acevedo. He’s a tough and rugged fighter. I thought he was out when I dropped him in the third round. I tried to get the finish, but he weathered the storm,” said Feliciano. “I’m happy to finish the year with a win, and we are on to the next.”

A super welterweight fight saw Ferdinand Kerobyan (13-1) destroy Fernando Carcamo (23-11) with two knockdowns in the first round and the fight was stopped at 1:46 of the first round.

A super middleweight match ended in the third round by knockout win for Erik Bazinyan (24-0) over Saul Roman (46-14),

Hall of Fame

Also present at the Golden Boy Promotions boxing card were Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins who was recently voted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame by the boxing writers. He will join De La Hoya who was inducted several years ago.

Hopkins was selected last week along with Sugar Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez. Their induction takes place next June in Canastota, New York. It’s quite an honor and well deserved for one of the greatest middleweights in the history of the sport. He also captured the light heavyweight world title. We will have more on this great Philadelphia prizefighter in the coming months.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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