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When The Grandmothers Stopped Falling For Tyrone Brunson

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Words can come back to haunt you, and seldom in the annals of boxing has that been more the case than in the lead-up to the Feb. 20, 1993, bout between WBC super lightweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez and challenger Greg Haugen, which drew a record on-site crowd of 132,247 to Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. Much to his later regret, Haugen had said that Chavez’s 82-0 record had mostly been crafted “against Tijuana taxi drivers that my mom could whip.”

The slur infuriated Chavez, who vowed to punish Haugen, and did, stopping him in five rounds. Bruised and chastened, Haugen was obliged to concede that “They must have been tough taxi drivers.”

Decide for yourself how a boxing tournament pitting Tijuana taxi drivers against feisty grandmothers might turn out. And while it is possible than an occasional granny could hold her own against a south-of-the-border cabbie in the ring, this much is abundantly clear: Tyrone Brunson should never be confused with Julio Cesar Chavez.

On paper, at least, Friday night’s 10-round main event on the CBS Sports Network appears to be somewhat interesting, with super welterweights Tyrone “Young Gun” Brunson (22-4-1, 21 KOs) squaring off against Australia’s Dennis Hogan (20-0-1, 7 KOs) in Hinckley, Minn. Hogan’s WBA Oceania title, whatever that is, will be on the line, as will the vacant WBA-NABA 154-pound belt.

But this debut event – the first in a multi-fight deal for Greg Cohen Promotions with CBS Sports Network – is curious, if only for the presence at the top of Brunson, 30, a Philadelphian who began his professional boxing career with a record 19 consecutive first-round knockouts. Since then, however, Brunson is 3-4-1, with six of those losses coming inside the distance.

There are those – principally Carlos Llinas, who promoted Brunson when he was putting away opponents faster than Kobayashi used to gulp down wieners at those 4th of July Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contests on Coney Island – who insist that Brunson was, and maybe still can be, a legitimate factor in a harsh sport in which frauds are always eventually exposed. But in the quest for artificial notoriety, whatever chance Brunson had to hone and refine his skills in the traditional manner got lost in the mist.

After Brunson won his 19th straight quickie knockout, he moved up in class, if not drastically so, to take on Antonio Soriano on Aug. 15, 2008, in Edmonton, Alberta. Soriano came in with a so-so 12-9-1 mark that included wins by KO.

“Even if you fought 19 grandmothers in a row, it’s still kind of notable to get all of them out of there in the first round,” Llinas told me. “Look, I know Tyrone has been moved slow. There have been bumps along the way. But we’re on the way now. I’ve seen him spar with guys like Kassim Ouma, Ronald Hearns, Kermit Cintron and Andy Lee, and more often than not he walks through them. I saw him flatten Hearns in the gym.

“I truly believe Tyrone has what it takes to be special. He’s got everything. He’s got the heart, he’s got the chin and, obviously, he has the power.”

In that first matchup with an opponent with a discernible pulse, Brunson was obliged to settle for a six-round majority draw. Since then, the road has been much more treacherous for the would-be knockout king, and it doesn’t figure to get any easier against Hogan, who, as a member of Cohen’s promotional stable, is the “house” fighter on Friday night.

I was unable to get in touch with Brunson, but I did speak to Llinas, who is not involved in this particular fight and now concedes that his plan, bought into by Brunson, to gain notoriety with the first-round KO streak probably was an unwise decision on their part.

“In retrospect, maybe it was a mistake to bring Tyrone along so slow,” Llinas said. “I’d never done that before. “Sometimes it bothers me that I might not have done the right thing. Now that he’s got these harder fights …

“I tried to do what’s best. It (the first-round KO streak) was kind of an angle that we all came up with and tried to achieve. We believed in Tyrone’s talent, and still do, but perhaps we should have groomed him better along the way. I guess we were trying to reinvent the wheel. It didn’t work out. As he stepped up in competition, things got a little tough.”

It would have been nearly impossible for Brunson not to have stepped up in competition, given the rock-bottom level of opposition he blitzed through en route to that 19-0 mark. At the time that they faced Brunson, his 19 victims were a cumulative 59-108-8 with 27 wins by KO and 71 KO defeats. Three bouts ended in no-contests. Four of his opponents were making their pro debuts and never fought again; three more never fought again after losing to him, and only one, James Morrow, had a winning record. He was 8-1-2 when he squared off against Brunson, but thereafter went 4-16-1 with 10 losses by KO or stoppage.

In that whole bunch, only one fighter could be described as having a recognizable “name.” That would be Kirk Douglas, but not the actor who played Spartacus in 1961.

There are, of course, quite a few fighters who begin their pro careers with long knockout streaks. Thomas Hearns won his first 17 fights in such a manner, and Michael Moorer opened with 26 straight putaways. But while some of the guys they were starching early on were gimmes, Hearns and Moorer gradually faced opponents who helped them elevate their game and develop their skills until they became what they became. No one should expect the cleanup man on a beer-league, slo-pitch softball team to suddenly make the jump to the majors just because he’s thumped a few homers on the local municipal field.

A closer parallel to the journey taken by Brunson might be journeyman heavyweight Faruq Saleem, whom Butch Lewis had dared to dream might become the second coming of his biggest star, Michael Spinks. Matched against fall-down guys comparable to those Brunson was mowing down, he won his first 38 fights, 32 inside the distance, which prompted Butch to declare he could see him possibly wangling a shot at the heavyweight championship, if only everything fell just right.

Saleem then was stopped in four rounds by Shawn McLean, who had come in with a 4-4 record, all four of his losses coming by knockout. Even he had to see the handwriting on the wall then, and he retired, never to fight again.

There is a part of me that wants to believe that Tyrone Brunson, who was so poorly served by imprudent matchmaking and false hope, still might find within himself some spark of whatever it was that once made him a distant outrider on the imagination of fight fans. But the lineup of grannies has been replaced by, if not top-tier opponents, at least tough taxi drivers who have demonstrated that they are more than capable of fighting back.

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In a Shocker, Ryan Garcia Confounds the Experts and Upsets Devin Haney

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Its good to be crazy. Like a fox.

Ryan “KingRy” Garcia knocked down WBC super lightweight titlist Devin Haney three times to remind everyone of his fighting abilities in winning by majority decision on Saturday.

“I just knew what I could do,” Garcia said.

Fans will not forget the lanky kid from Victorville, California now.

Garcia (25-1, 20 KOs) fooled everyone in playing crazy weeks before the fight, then showed shocking power to hand Haney (30-1, 15 KOs) his first loss as a professional at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Haney’s WBC super lightweight title was not at stake for Garcia because he weighed three pounds over the limit.

After Garcia seemingly acting out of control on social media, Haney’s guard must have slipped in the first round during the first few seconds as Garcia connected with that hellish left hook and Haney, with a look of shock in his eyes, almost went down. He barely survived the first round.

“He caught me with it,” said Haney.

During the next few rounds, Haney proceeded to advance toward Garcia seemingly fully aware of the lethal left hook. He used feints and rights to score with a busier approach as Garcia seemed cocked and ready to counter with a left hook.

In the fourth round it seemed Haney was confident he had regained control of the fight, but every time he opened up with more than a two-punch combination Garcia reminded him whose hands were faster and more dangerous.

Though Garcia seldom jabbed he seemed bent on looking for the right moment to unleash his deadly left hook. And every time the Southern California fighter opened up with a combination he scored and Haney dare not exchange.

A few times Haney smiled as if signifying he escaped.

In the seventh round Haney looked to punish Garcia’s body and instead was met with a three-punch combination included a left hook to the chin and down went Haney slumped on the ground. He managed to beat the count and as soon as Garcia came within reach Haney wrapped his arms around him with a python grip. Despite the warnings by referee Harvey Dock, the fallen fighter would not release and Garcia impatiently fired a weak punch during the break. The referee deducted a point from Garcia though he could have deducted a point from Haney for not obeying his instructions to release his hold. Haney actually went down three times in the round but only one was counted by the referee.

From that point on Haney was very cautious but still looking to win by decision.

Though Garcia kept using a shoulder-roll defense that left his body exposed, he would retaliate with three and four punch combinations that usually Haney could defend against other fighters.. But Garcia’s blazing combinations were too fast to defend.

In the 10th round Haney looked to attack and was countered by Garcia’s right and a blinding left hook to the chin and another two blows that sent the former undisputed lightweight champion to the floor again.

It didn’t look good for Haney to survive.

Garcia walked into the 11th round still composed and never out-of-control He dared Haney to exchange and when within striking distance Garcia unleashed another lightning combination and down went Haney again with a defeated look.

Both fighters had fought each other as amateurs six times so there were no surprises between them. But Garcia’s power and speed were superior and that was the difference in a professional fight.

In the final round both were cautious with Garcia’s combination punching proving too dangerous for Haney to open up. Garcia celebrated early as the round ended confident of victory.

After 12 rounds Garcia was seen the victor by majority decision 112-112, 114-110, 115-109.

“You really thought I was crazy,” Garcia told the interviewer and the crowd. “You guys hated on me.”

Other Bouts

Arnold Barboza (30-0) won a curious split decision victory over United Kingdom’s Sean McComb (18-2) in a 10-round super lightweight fight. McComb’s long reach and busy southpaw style gave Barboza trouble. But he managed to win the fight though the crowd was not pleased.

Bektemir Melikuziev (14-1, 10 KOs) defeated France’s Pierre Dibombe (22-1-1) by technical decision after eight rounds due to a cut on his eye from an accidental head butt. It was a very competitive super middleweight fight.

Costa Rica’s David Jimenez (16-1, 11 KOs) outworked John “Scrappy Ramirez (13-1, 9 KOs) in a 12-round scrap to upset the Los Angeles based fighter. After a few close rounds Jimenez simply bullied his way inside and forced Ramirez against the ropes and unloaded his guns.

After 12 rounds two judges saw it 117-111 and 116-114 all for Jimenez.

“I’m a hard-working man from Cartago I come from nothing,” said Jimenez. “My corner told me I had to work inside.”

Charles Conwell (19-0, 14 KOs) stepped on the gas early with vicious body shots and uppercuts and blasted through the resilient Nathaniel Gallimore (22-8-1, 17 KOs) for several rounds. After a brutal fifth and sixth round the referee halted the one-side beating in favor of Conwell who was fighting for the first time under the Golden Boy banner.

Another winner was Sergiy Derevyanchenko (15-5) by decision over Vaughn Alexander (18-11-1) in a super middleweight match.

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Haney and Garcia: Bipolar Opposites

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Haney and Garcia: Bipolar Opposites

One young man flew halfway around the world to take on a world champion in his own living room; not once, but twice. The other young man quit prior to one fight, and then again during another one.

The first guy mentioned is an obedient son of an ultra-streetwise father.  The type of parent where, if he doesn’t know the answer (and more times than not he most likely does), he will know where to find it. The second guy doesn’t appear to have that quality guidance scenario going on for him, which is probably for the best, because he believes he has all the answers.

The first guy is on record as saying he wants to go down in boxing history as an all-time great.  The other guy?  He decided not to continue in a fight while he was still sporting an undefeated record.  You may think to yourself if there was ever a time to soldier through, right?

Then yesterday, that same guy missed making weight by 3.2 pounds, and seemed to be more than fine with it, to the point where he actually appeared to be quite pleased with himself.

If you haven’t heard, Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia are going to share a boxing ring in a twelve round go for God knows what will be at stake by the time they actually punch off.  The fact that no one from Garcia’s team has stepped in and rescued him from these unfolding events, his own personal well-being, and/or not to mention Devin Haney is, well, troubling in and of itself.

Back in the amateur days, the record shows they split six fights.  They were boys back then, so it means zero.  If anything, you’d want to be the older of the two, and Ryan had over a three-month age advantage.  If you’ve only been on the planet for a total of 120 months or so, every extra month could be a big enough difference in strength and development. Now as world class professionals in their prime?  That’s different.  Younger is always better.  Devin is that guy.

Haney and Garcia fought six times for free but will fight only once as professionals.  Then one of them will continue with their march for historic greatness, while the other will head back to Kamp Krazy, where he’s the current Mayor.

It’s never smart to lay 8-1, 9-1 in boxing.  And if you see taking Garcia as a value bet with +500 to +600 and beyond, you don’t understand value and you evidently don’t like money.

There is, however, a wagering opportunity here.

Total Rounds:  Fight doesn’t go 10.5 rounds.

Take anything over +125.  It’s worth a unit on a scale of 5.  Logically, there are a lot of ways to cash this ticket: legitimate victory, meltdown, catching lightning in a bottle, etc.  Or simply the exiting stage left of a guy who may be already plotting his next career move.

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In a Massive Upset, Dakota Linger TKOs Kurt Scoby on a Friday Night in Atlanta

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Although it was an 8-rounder on a show with two “tens,” Kurt Scoby’s match with Dakota Linger was accorded main event status on tonight’s card at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta. This had everything to do with Scoby (pronounced Scooby), a former record-setting college running back who was considered one of the brightest prospects in the 140-pound weight class. “[Scoby] works harder than almost anyone I’ve ever seen,” said veteran New York promoter Lou DIBella in a conversation with Keith Idec. “But he’s literally getting better after every fight and he’s got the hammer of Thor, man. He can punch through walls.”

The Duarte, California product who has relocated to Brooklyn and trains at Gleason’s Gym, was undefeated (13-0) heading in and was expected to make Linger his ninth straight knockout victim. But Linger, a 29-year-old Buckhannon, West Virginia policemen whose first ring engagements were in Toughman competitions, wasn’t intimidated by Scoby’s press clippings or by Scoby’s bodybuilder physique.

Linger, who improved to 14-6-3 with his tenth win inside the distance, took the fight right to Scoby and repeatedly found a home for his overhand right. In the sixth round, after Linger strafed the ever-retreating Scoby with a barrage of punches, referee Malik Walid determined that he had seen enough and waived it off. The decision seemed a tad premature, but neither Scoby nor his cornermen offered anything in the way of a protest.

Tournament results

In the first installment of an 8-man super welterweight tournament, Brandon Adams returned to boxing after his second three-year layoff and showed no ring rust whatsoever. Adams, a 34-year-old family-man who grew up in the Watts district of LA, dismissed Ismael Villareal with a wicked punch to the liver in the waning seconds of round three. The official time was 2:59.

A former wold title challenger, Adams who improved to 23-3 (16 KOs), has become the king of boxing tournaments. He first attracted notice in 2018 when he won the fifth edition of “The Contender” series, scoring a wide 10-round decision over Shane Mosley Jr in the championship round.

Villareal, a second-generation prizefighter from the Bronx whose dad fought the likes of Hector Camacho, declined to 13-3.

Adams next opponent will be Francisco Veron who will bring a record of 14-0-1 (10).

In an energetic 10-rounder, Veron, a Florida-based Argentine with a strong amateur pedigree, scored a unanimous decision over Mexico-born, LA southpaw Angel Ruiz (18-3-1). The judges had it 100-90, 99-91, and 96-94.

Ruiz certainly had his moments, but Veron launched and landed many more punches despite fighting the last six rounds with a damaged eye.

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