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Roach Wins 7th Trainer of the Year Award, Rebuts Sour Grapes; Plus, BWAA Dinner Report

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Freddie Roach won his seventh Trainer of the Year award and I put it to him point blank when we chatted on Friday: some folks out there saying you won so many, and others, like, say, some Mayweathers, don’t win because it’s a political thing. It’s a popularity contest, non-winners say.

What about it Freddie? Is there something to that…or is that sour grapes whining?

“Hey, I try not to be an a—–e,” he said. “Ask me a question and I give you the best answer I can, the most honest answer I can. I try to be real. And it is political? Maybe this is why I won seven times…maybe I’m the favorite of writers, I’m accused of that, I don’t really care. But the boxing writers are great to me..Eddie Futch is behind me and that’s who I really care about. My dad taught me to fight, and Eddie taught me the ins and outs.”

His oldest brother, Alan, accepted for Roach at Capitale on Fridat night, in NYC. He kept it short and sweet, and relayed from Freddie that he promised a helluva fight on May 2. Freddie told me that he’s gunning for his eighth crown, and guess what…he says Manny told him he would win it next year, because he would knock Floyd Mayweather out.

Eddie Futch, that squat sage who taught Freddie how to teach, would be smiling from his corner, in the heavens…

Other winners included:

Sugar Ray Robinson Award Fighter of the Year

Terence Crawford

Bud told me he’s willing to fight anyone next, and that he’d not engage in callouts. Why, he said, Floyd and Manny don’t call others out? Why should I?

Muhammad Ali – Joe Frazier Award Fight of the Year

Lucas Matthysse-John Molina

Molina showed up to get the award, while Lucas is back in Argentina. Molina told me he was happy to come and that he looks forward to proving his banned-substance (diuretic) positive was a mistake.

Eddie Futch Award Trainer of the Year

Freddie Roach

Cus D’Amato Award Manager of the Year

Al Haymon

Nope, Haymon didn’t attend. Tim Smith read from a text from the reclusive mogul. Our man Deontay Wilder told me that he thinks Haymon will show up if and when the Bronze Bomber beats Wladimir Klitschko.

Marvin Kohn Good Guy Award

Dan Goossen

Molina picked up the award and said Dan was a friend, outside the ring, and is missed, bigtime.

Nat Fleischer Award Excellence in Boxing Journalism

Mark Whicker

he was, you guessed it, on assignment, and couldn’t attend, like a true pro.

A.J. Liebling Award Outstanding Boxing Writing

Ira Berkow

The NY Timeser shared a few great anecdotes and money quotes from sages from past ages.

Sam Taub Award Excellence in Broadcast Journalism

Seth Abraham

Thomas Hauser introed Abraham, who, he said, engineered the last golden age of boxing. Abraham was moved to be introed by the dean of boxing writers, he said.

Barney Nagler Award Long and Meritorious Service

Jack Hirsch

The ex prez of the BWAA who served tirelessly admitted he was nervous giving this speech. His wife and kids attended and clapped loudly for their Jack.

Bill Crawford Courage Award

Steve & Livvy Cunningham

The Cunninghams were massively moved, and thanked the boxing community for stepping up, and helping raise money so that they could get to a hospital where their daughter Kennedy received a heart transplant. All applauded this fighting family.

New prez Joe Santoloquito took a stand, and asked that BWAA members be respected, and given ringside seating for #MayPac, noting that they spread the word on Floyd when he was 0-0, and Manny weighed 106 pounds. Now, during the boom time, he fears BWAA members won’t be allowed inside the arena to report, instead shunted aside for glossier outlets, who will disappear when the big fight is over…while the keyboard tappers who spread the word about the upsides of the sport, and act as free advertising, watch on a screen. I concur with Joe, and believe it would be penny-wise and pound-foolish not to allow a full complement of day to day fight writers to cover MayPac from inside the MGM.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 239: Fernando Vargas Jr. at the Pechanga Casino and More

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Once upon a time the name Ferocious Fernando Vargas stirred up the blood of many a Southern California boxing fan and others.

Based in Oxnard, California, the Ferocious One dared to be great and was fearless in charging forward like an Aztec warrior against all odds and opposition. Those who followed him expected it and though he only had 31 professional fights, each battle was dripping with drama.

Remember his battles with Ike Quartey, Winky Wright or Sugar Shane Mosley?

Even his losses were blazing unforgettable wars with Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Ricardo Mayorga.

Vargas no longer fights but he has three sons and they do the fighting for the Las Vegas-based family. It’s Fernando Vargas 2.0.

The oldest son Fernando Vargas Jr. (8-0, 8 KOs) competes in a six-round super welterweight contest against Venezuela’s Heber Rondon (20-4, 13 KOs) on Friday June 2, at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif. The Marvnation Promotions card will also be shown on its YouTube.com site.

In the co-main event number one super flyweight contender Adelaida Ruiz fights Mexico’s Maria Cecilia Roman in a 10-round affair. Ruiz is considered by many to be a guaranteed world champion by this year. Don’t miss her.

A special presentation includes the appearance of two boxing greats Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns. During the 70s and 80s they both made history with incredible performances that made them both boxing immortals.

If you ever saw them during the 80s they were two of the primary fighters who raised the level of the sport with their willingness to fight each other. Leonard and Hearns fought each other twice. Leonard beat Roberto Duran two of three times. Marvin Hagler beat Hearns in what many consider one of the greatest three rounds of all time. Ironically, it was the first title fight I ever wrote about.

Doors open at 6 p.m. for tickets go to  www.pechenga.com or www.marvnation.com

Boxing Saturday in Detroit

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Female boxing’s top pound-for-pound queen Claressa Shields (13-0, 2 KOs) faces Maricela Cornejo (16-5, 6 KOs) in defense of the middleweight world championship on Saturday, June 3, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. DAZN will stream the Salita Promotions fight card beginning at 6 p.m. PST.

Until last week, Costa Rica’s Hanna Gabriels was the scheduled foe, but VADA testing revealed illegal substances in her blood stream and she was forced out. After two days Cornejo was mutually agreed by both parties to be the replacement.

“I was getting ready for another fight on June 6. This wasn’t a last-minute fight. I eat, drink, and love boxing. It’s not a part-time job,” said Cornejo about eagerly accepting the fight as a replacement for Gabriels.

The last time we saw Shields in the prize ring she was firing on all gears as she unleashed blazing-fast combinations on England’s Savannah Marshall. Many had predicted Shields would be vanquished.

Many were wrong.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist and champion of three weight divisions has shown that size, power and will are not enough to dethrone her. Only a few made Shields blink and that came early on.

During the press conference, Mark Taffet, co-manager of Shields, hinted that she may be pursuing undisputed status in the super middleweight divisions and above. But first, her defense against Cornejo who did not hesitate in consenting to the challenge.

Only in the past four years has female boxing become a lucrative pro sport. Before fighters like Shields, Katie Taylor, and others, women were seldom paid more than $3,000 dollars for a world championship fight.

Shields helped spark the change and Cornejo will now finally meet her in the prize ring.

“Claressa has done so much for the sport of boxing. We’re trying to do our part. She can’t do it alone. We’re all trying to make a difference,” said Cornejo about accepting the fight on short notice. “She needs a dance partner and I’m ready to dance June 3.”

Shields smiled, content that Cornejo helped salvage the fight card in Detroit, Michigan near her hometown of Flint. Shields personally bought 1,000 tickets for youngsters to attend the fight card on Saturday. Now it will be a true contender facing her.

“I want to say thank you for fighting me,” said Shields to Cornejo. “I know you want to dance, but I came to fight.”

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The Sweet Science Rankings: Week of May 29th, 2023

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The Sweet Science Rankings: Week of May 29th, 2023

In this week’s TSS Rankings, it’s all change at the top of the 126lbs division with Luis Alberto Lopez rocketing to the #1 spot after a brutal dispatch of Michael Conlan; Leigh Wood is right behind him after making it 1-1 with a miserable Mauricio Lara (Mexico) who is likely about to depart for 130lbs after failing to make weight by 4lbs.  For the moment he languishes at #5.  Chris Billam-Smith makes #3 at 200lbs after ripping victory from fellow Englishman Lawrence Okolie.  The hapless Okolie drops to #8.  The best performance this weekend though was turned in by New Yorker Oscar Collazo who brutalised the favoured Melvin Jerusalem (Philippines).  Collazo rises to three, Jerusalem drops to #8.

 

Pound-for-Pound

01 – Naoya Inoue

02 – Oleksandr Usyk

03 – Juan Francisco Estrada

04 – Dmitry Bivol

05 – Terence Crawford

06 – Errol Spence Jnr.

07 – Tyson Fury

08 – Saul Alvarez

09 – Artur Beterbiev

10 – Shakur Stevenson

 

105lbs

1            Knockout CP Freshmart (Thailand)

2            Petchmanee CP Freshmart (Thailand)

3            Oscar Collazo (USA)*

4            Ginjiro Shigeoka (Japan)

5            Wanheng Menayothin (Thailand)

6            Daniel Valladares (Mexico)

7            Yudai Shigeoka (Japan)

8            Melvin Jerusalem (Philippines)

9            Masataka Taniguchi (Japan)

10          Rene Mark Cuarto (Philippines)

 

108lbs

1            Kenshiro Teraji (Japan)

2            Jonathan Gonzalez (Puerto Rico)

3            Masamichi Yabuki (Japan)

4            Hekkie Budler (South Africa)

5            Sivenathi Nontshinga (South Africa)

6            Elwin Soto (Mexico)

7            Daniel Matellon (Cuba)

8            Reggie Suganob (Philippines)

9            Shokichi Iwata (Japan)

10          Esteban Bermudez (Mexico)

 

112lbs

1            Sunny Edwards (England)

2            Artem Dalakian (Ukraine)

3            Julio Cesar Martinez (Mexico)

4            Angel Ayala Lardizabal (Mexico)

5            David Jimenez (Costa Rica)

6            Jesse Rodriguez (USA)

7            Ricardo Sandoval (USA)

8            Felix Alvarado (Nicaragua)

9            Seigo Yuri Akui (Japan)

10          Cristofer Rosales (Nicaragua)

 

115lbs

1            Juan Francisco Estrada (Mexico)

2            Roman Gonzalez (Nicaragua)

3            Jesse Rodriguez (USA)

4            Kazuto Ioka (Japan)

5            Joshua Franco (USA)

6            Junto Nakatani (Japan)

7            Fernando Martinez (Argentina)

8            Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (Thailand)

9            Kosei Tanaka (Japan)

10          Andrew Moloney (Australia)

 

118lbs

1            Emmanuel Rodriguez (Puerto Rico)

2            Jason Moloney (Australia)

3            Nonito Donaire (Philippines)

4            Vincent Astrolabio (Philippines)

5            Gary Antonio Russell (USA)

6            Takuma Inoue (Japan)

7            Alexandro Santiago (Mexico)

8           Ryosuke Nishida (Japan)

9            Keita Kurihara (Japan)

10          Paul Butler (England)

 

122lbs

1            Stephen Fulton (USA)

2            Marlo Tapales (Philippines)

3            Luis Nery (Mexico)

4            Murodjon Akhmadaliev (Uzbekistan)

5            Ra’eese Aleem (USA)

6            Azat Hovhannisyan (Armenia)

7            Kevin Gonzalez (Mexico)

8            Takuma Inoue (Japan)

9            John Riel Casimero (Philippines)

10          Fillipus Nghitumbwa (Namibia)

 

126lbs

1            Luis Alberto Lopez (Mexico)*

2           Leigh Wood (England)*

3            Brandon Figueroa (USA)

4            Rey Vargas (Mexico)

5            Mauricio Lara (Mexico)

6            Mark Magsayo (Philippines)

7            Josh Warrington (England)

8            Robeisy Ramirez (Cuba)

9            Reiya Abe (Japan)

10          Otabek Kholmatov (Uzbekistan)

 

130lbs

1            Joe Cordina (Wales)

2            Oscar Valdez (Mexico)

3            Hector Garcia (Dominican Republic)

4            O’Shaquie Foster (USA)

5            Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (Tajikistan)

6            Roger Gutierrez (Venezuela)

7            Lamont Roach (USA)

8            Eduardo Ramirez (Mexico)

9            Kenichi Ogawa (Japan)

10          Robson Conceicao (Brazil)

 

135lbs

1            Devin Haney (USA)

2            Gervonta Davis (USA)

3            Vasily Lomachenko (Ukraine)

4            Isaac Cruz (Mexico)

5            William Zepeda Segura (Mexico)

6            Frank Martin (USA)

7            George Kambosos Jnr (Australia)

8            Shakur Stevenson (USA)

9            Raymond Muratalla (USA)

10          Keyshawn Davis (USA)

 

140lbs

1            Josh Taylor (Scotland)

2            Regis Prograis (USA)

3            Jose Ramirez (USA)

4            Jose Zepeda (USA)

5            Jack Catterall (England)

6            Subriel Matias (Puerto Rico)

7            Arnold Barboza Jr. (USA)

8            Gary Antuanne Russell (USA)

9            Zhankosh Turarov (Kazakhstan)

10          Shohjahon Ergashev (Uzbekistan)

 

147lbs

1            Errol Spence (USA)

2            Terence Crawford (USA)

3            Yordenis Ugas (Cuba)

4            Vergil Ortiz Jr. (USA)

5            Jaron Ennis (USA)

6            Eimantas Stanionis (Lithuania)

7            David Avanesyan (Russia)

8            Cody Crowley (Canada)

9            Roiman Villa (Columbia)

10          Alexis Rocha (USA)

 

154lbs

1            Jermell Charlo (USA)

2           Tim Tszyu (Australia)

3            Brian Castano (Argentina)

4            Brian Mendoza (USA)

5            Liam Smith (England)

6            Jesus Alejandro Ramos (USA)

7            Sebastian Fundora (USA)

8            Michel Soro (Ivory Coast)

9            Erickson Lubin (USA)

10          Magomed Kurbanov (Russia)

 

160lbs

1            Gennady Golovkin (Kazakhstan)

2            Jaime Munguia (Mexico)

3            Carlos Adames (Dominican Republic)

4            Janibek Alimkhanuly (Kazakhstan)

5            Liam Smith (England)

6            Erislandy Lara (USA)

7            Sergiy Derevyanchenko (Ukraine)

8            Felix Cash (England)

9            Esquiva Falcao (Brazil)

10          Chris Eubank Jnr. (Poland)

 

168lbs

1            Canelo Alvarez (Mexico)

2            David Benavidez (USA)

3            Caleb Plant (USA)

4            Christian Mbilli (France)

5            David Morrell (Cuba)

6            John Ryder (England)

7            Pavel Silyagin (Russia)

8            Vladimir Shishkin (Russia)

9            Carlos Gongora (Ecuador)

10          Demetrius Andrade (USA)

 

175lbs

1            Dmitry Bivol (Russia)

2            Artur Beterbiev (Canada)

3            Joshua Buatsi (England)

4            Callum Smith (England)

5            Joe Smith Jr. (USA)

6            Gilberto Ramirez (Mexico)

7            Anthony Yarde (England)

8           Dan Azeez (England)

9            Craig Richards (England)

10          Michael Eifert (Germany)

 

200lbs

1            Jai Opetaia (Australia)

2            Mairis Breidis (Latvia)

3            Chris Billam-Smith (England)*

4            Richard Riakporhe (England)

5            Aleksei Papin (Russia)

6            Badou Jack (Sweden)

7            Arsen Goulamirian (France)

8            Lawrence Okolie (England)

9            Yuniel Dorticos (Cuba)

10          Mateusz Masternak (Poland)

 

Unlimited

1            Tyson Fury (England)

2            Oleksandr Usyk (Ukraine)

3            Zhilei Zhang (China)

4            Deontay Wilder (USA)

5            Anthony Joshua (England)

6            Andy Ruiz (USA)

7            Filip Hrgovic (Croatia)

8            Joe Joyce (England)

9            Dillian Whyte (England)

10          Frank Sanchez (Cuba)

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U.K. Boxing Montage: Conlan KOed; Wood Regains Title; Billam-Smith Upsets Okolie

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British fight fabs had plenty of options last night. Important events were staged in Manchester, in Bournemouth, and in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The locals were delighted in Manchester and Bournemouth, but fans in Belfast were left crestfallen when their hometown hero Michael Conlan, the former two-time Olympian, was on the wrong end of a vicious KO.

Conlan, who was 18-1 heading in, had a four-inch height advantage and three-inch reach advantage over Mexican spoiler Luis Alberto Lopez. The Irishman attracted late money and went to post a small favorite. But Lopez (28-2, 16 KOs) emerged victorious, successfully defending his IBF world featherweight title which he won in British soil over Josh Warrington.

Although Conlan had a rough patch in the second round, he was seemingly in a good position heading into round five when the Mexican invader brought a swift conclusion to the contest, discombobulating Conlan (pictured) with a right uppercut that prompted his trainer Adam Booth to throw in the towel. It was the second time that Conlan came up short in a bid for a world title. He challenged for the WBA version of this belt in March of last year, losing on a spectacular last round knockout to Leigh Wood in a fight that he was winning until the final 90 seconds.

Also…

In a scheduled 12-rounder for a WBC featherweight trinket, five-foot-three Liverpool buzzsaw Nick “Wrecking” Ball advanced to 18-0, (11 KOs) with a 12th-round stoppage of South Africa’s previously undefeated Ludumo Lamati (21-1-1, 11 KOs). Lamati’s corner tossed in the towel after Ball landed a series of hard punches in the final frame.

Lamati was on his feet when the bout was stopped but was in dire straits and was removed from the ring on a stretcher. There was no update on his condition as this story was going to press.

In a companion 12-rounder, Belfast’s Anthony “Apache” Cacace (21-1, 7 KOs) successfully defended his fringe 130-pound title with a wide decision over Damian Wrzesinski (26-3-2). The judges had 118-111, 117-111, and 116-112.

Wrzesinski, a 38-year-old Pole, fought with a brace on his right knee. This was the first fight for “Apache” in his hometown in eight years. The win may have set him up for a match with Welshman Joe Cordina, the IBF junior lightweight title-holder, or Shavkat Rakhimov who lost a close decision to Cordina in a bruising tiff last month.

Manchester

Mauricio Lara didn’t bring his “A” game to England. That became apparent at the weigh-in when he failed to make weight, losing his WBA world featherweight title on the scales. By rule, only Leigh Wood could win it or it would become vacant.

This was a rematch. Fourteen weeks ago, Lara went into Wood’s backyard in Nottingham and stopped him in the seventh round. Lara was behind on the cards when he felled Wood with a crunching left hook. Wood beat the count but his trainer Ben Davison tossed in the towel which struck many, especially Wood, as premature as less than 10 seconds remained in the round.

In a previous trip to England, Lara had broken hearts in Leeds, stopping native son Josh Warrington. The Mexican invader, younger than Leigh Wood by 10 years, was expected to win again, but Wood, 34, simply out-worked him. He knocked Lara down in the second round with an uppercut and methodically kept him at bay, winning by scores of 116-111 and 118-109 twice.

Co-Feature

In his first appearance since his controversial defeat to Josh Taylor in Glasgow in February of last year, Jack Catterall improved to 27-1 (15) with a wide decision over Irish-Australian southpaw Darragh Foley (22-5-1).

The Sportsman called the Catterall-Taylor fight, a split decision win for Taylor, the most controversial fight in British boxing history and Catterall became a more sympathetic figure when Taylor, after several postponements, reneged on his promise to give Catterall a rematch, opting instead for a date with Teofimo Lopez.

Although Foley was in action 10 weeks ago, scoring his signature win with a third-round stoppage of favored Robbie Davies Jr., and Catterall was making his first start in 15 months, this was a one-sided fray in Catterall’s favor. He had Foley on the canvas twice en route to winning by scores of 99-88, 98-89, and 97-90.

Eddie Hearn has expressed an interest in matching Catterall with Regis Prograis assuming that Prograis gets past Arnold Barboza on June 17.

Also

England’s Terri Harper (14-1-1), who jumped up three weight classes last year, successfully defended her WBA 154-pound diadem with a unanimous but unimpressive 10-round decision over perennial title challenger Ivana Habazin. The judges had it 98-92 and 99-93 twice.

Harper was slated to fight former pound-for-pound queen Cecilia Braekhus last Saturday in the co-feature to Taylor vs. Cameron in Dublin, but hat match fell out when Braekhus came down with a bad cold following the weight-in.

Harper is seeking a unification fight with countrywoman Natasha Jonas. Habazin, a 33-year-old Croat, fell to 21-5.

Bournemouth

In his fourth defense of his WBO world cruiserweight title, previously undefeated Lawrence Okolie was soundly defeated by former sparring partner Chris Billam.-Smith The match was contested in Billam-Smith’s  hometown before a raucous crowd at sold-out Vitality Stadium.

A 3/1 underdog, Billam-Smith, who was 17-1 heading in, proved clearly superior He knocked Okolie down in the fourth round and again in rounds 10 and 11 en route to winning by scores of 116-107, 115-108, and 112-112.

About that curious 112-112 card. It was turned in by U.S. judge  Benjamin Rodriguez who had been working the Illinois-Wisconsin circuit. On social media, his tally is being called the worst scorecard of all time.

Did Billam-Smith’s fans leave happy? The correspondent for British Boxing News called the event “a night of breathtaking boxing action that will never be forgotten.”

The six-foot-five Okolie may have made his last start as a cruiserweight. He aspires to fight Oleksandr Usyk.

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