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Danny Garcia Finding Out Winning Isn’t Always Enough

Bernard Fernandez

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There are several ways of determining when a particular fighter is hot, and when he’s not. One of those ways is whether the fighter in question is calling someone else out, or someone is calling him out.

If you’re the one petitioning to be granted a shot at someone better-known and more of a box-office draw, you’re probably not as toasty as you’d prefer to be. But if other highly regarded fighters are pleading for you to give them a chance to mix it up for glory and riches, you’re certifiably sizzling. In boxing, the targeted few are almost always hotter commodities than the glut of hunters seeking to turn them into trophy conquests.

By that admittedly imprecise rule of thumb, now-former super lightweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia, whose career hardly has been refrigerated, has at least cooled to something akin to room temperature. The 27-year-old Philadelphian of Puerto Rican descent is 30-0, with 17 victories inside the distance, but even when he was widely considered the best 140-pound fighter on the planet, Garcia never awed opponents and the public to the same degree as, say, a Gennady Golovkin or a Sergey Kovalev. Good on many fronts but not commandingly spectacular in any one area, he always has been cloaked in a cape of perceived vulnerability.

Now, after three bouts in which he failed to build upon the momentum created by his watershed unanimous decision over Argentine power-puncher Lucas Matthysse on Sept. 14, 2013, Garcia is hoping a move up to welterweight and an impressive performance against veteran two-division former champ Paulie Malignaggi (33-6, 7 KOs) will reestablish him as a fighter who not that long ago seemed to be on the periphery of legitimate stardom.

Garcia-Malignaggi is the scheduled 12-round main event of Saturday night’s “Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN,” at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., the co-feature of which has WBA middleweight champ Daniel Jacobs (29-1, 26 KOs) defending against former WBC super welter titlist Sergio Mora (28-3-2, 9 KOs).

It is somewhat telling that Garcia, who sees himself as a pay-per-view attraction, is making his 147-pound debut on basic cable against the 34-year-old Malignaggi, who hasn’t fought since he was knocked out in four rounds by then-IBF welterweight ruler Shawn Porter on April 19 of last year. Although the clever, soft-punching Malignaggi hasn’t stowed away his own dreams as an active fighter, it would not have surprised anyone had he the winner of the 2013 Boxing Writers Association of America’s Sam Taub Award for excellence in broadcast journalism (as a color analyst for Showtime) decided to concentrate full-time on his duties at ringside instead of those inside the ropes.

Also telling is the fact that Garcia, one of the nearly 200 fighters under contract to the mysterious and powerful Al Haymon, seemingly has been designated as something less than one of Haymon’s top priorities. Even if Garcia pummels Malignaggi into submission – not an easy thing to do, given Paulie’s history as a punishment-evasive technician – it isn’t likely to be the kind of exclamation-point triumph that his wins, as an underdog, over Matthysse and Amir Khan (fourth-round TKO on July 14, 2012) were.

No wonder Garcia is publicly wishing to move to the front of the line for high-visibility bouts against Floyd Mayweather Jr. (48-0, 26 KOs) and Manny Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KOs) before those aging but still highly bankable stars decide to hang up their gloves.

“As far as those guys, I don’t know,” Garcia said of his apparently slim chances of snagging a coveted date against May or Pac. “They say this (Sept. 2 against the ever-popular opponent to be named) is Mayweather’s last fight, and Pacquiao’s made a lot of money so I really can’t say what he plans to do. (The Filipino also is promoted by Bob Arum, who has filed a $100 million lawsuit against Haymon.) But welterweight is a stacked division, and I feel my style matches up good with any of those guys. I’m ready to take on anybody.”

Perhaps most significant, Garcia has won an internal battle that has done in more than a few fighters who made the mistake of lingering too long at a no-longer-feasible weight.

“To be honest, I felt like my 140 days were over after I beat Matthysse,” Garcia said at his gym in the gritty Juniata Park section of Philadelphia. “After that fight, it felt like that was all I had left. It really affected me when I had to make weight after that. I was just training to take the pounds off. I wasn’t training to get better.

“Making me fight at 140 was forcing me to fight only one way, and that was to just come forward. My body wasn’t feeling strong enough to be more athletic or to do anything else. Really, I should have moved up to 147 two years ago. But the time is now and I’m feeling strong again, like I did when I fought Matthysse and Khan. After (Matthysse), I didn’t feel strong anymore. I didn’t have a lot of snap on my punches.”

Garcia estimated he performed at “about 65 or 70 percent” of peak efficiency for his three post-Matthysse fights – a disputed majority decision over Mauricio Herrera in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, in which Garcia retained his WBC and WBA titles; a two-round, non-title blowout of an obviously overmatched Rod Salka, and another disputed majority decision, over IBF champion Lamont Peterson, with neither man’s belt was on the line with a contracted catch weight of 143 pounds.

“I did lose some momentum in my last three fights,” conceded Garcia, whose girlfriend is expected to deliver the couple’s first child, a daughter, on Aug. 11. “But I’m a young fighter. I had a layoff of eight months (between the Salka and Peterson bouts), and those long layoffs, and having to keep coming down to 140, hurt me so much. Still, I think I benefited in some ways. If you don’t have tough fights, you’re not going to learn. You can’t get better if you’re just walking through everybody, so how can you know what you got to work on?

“The way I look at it, everything that’s happened in my career is a learning experience. Now I know my weaknesses, what I have to work on in the gym. I’m looking at those last three fights as a blessing in disguise.”

So, too, in his own way is Malignaggi, who sees Garcia as his best opportunity to regain some of his receded relevance. Paulie was to have taken on Danny O’Connor (26-2, 10 KOs) on May 29, but he was cut over the eye in training camp and the bout was canceled. Not long after that, he was approached about the possibility of getting it on with Garcia, an offer he was quick to accept.

“I really didn’t think I was going to come back,” he said. “But I’m a competitor. I’m all about competing against the best. This is an opportunity for me to kind of put myself back in the mix with one really good performance as opposed to slowly getting back over the course of three, four fights.

“I’m 34, not 24. I don’t really have that kind of patience anymore. This fight just fell into my lap. It was unexpected. But, really, it was something I couldn’t say no to.”

Even with the presumed drawbacks – Garcia in a bit of a mini-slump, Malignaggi holding off retirement just a bit longer – the pairing isn’t without its elements of intrigue. Both Garcia and Malignaggi appeared on the first boxing card ever staged at the Barclays Center, on Oct. 20, 2012. Garcia defended his WBC and WBA titles on a fourth-round knockout of future Hall of Famer Erik Morales while Malignaggi retained his WBA welter strap on a split decision over Pablo Cesar Cano. But that’s not all: Each believes the Barclays Center to be friendly home territory, with Garcia making his fifth appearance there and Brooklyn native Malignaggi his fourth.

“New York has a lot of people who can relate to me,” Garcia said. “They’re Puerto Rican, but they were born and raised in New York. They love and respect me because I’m cut from the same cloth.”

Angel Garcia, Danny’s always-loquacious father-trainer, figures crowd support will be split right down the middle.

“Malignaggi has a big, big fan base there,” he said. “There are a lot of Italians in New York, as well as a lot of Puerto Ricans. Everybody’s going to be for somebody in this fight, which is good for the sport, and good for the fans.”

Not that Angel believes the pro-Malignaggi contingent will go home happy. He said his son has trained hard at cutting off Malignaggi’s escape routes, and now that he’s no longer starving himself to pare down to 140, the improvement will be immediately evident.

“We know what Malignaggi’s going to try to do,” the father said. “Everybody wants to run from Danny. They think that’s his weak spot. They think that boxing him is the way to beat him. But guess what? He’s still undefeated.

“I’m not going to underestimate or take nothin’ from Malignaggi. He’s been around a long time. But he’s a runner, and at the end of the fight Danny’s hand is going to be raised again.”

Danny Garcia said it’s “very important” not only to have his hand raised, but to make the kind of definitive statement he didn’t – couldn’t — make in his last three fights.

“There are a lot of fighters who have hot streaks and blow past everybody, but then they lose a little momentum and they can’t seem to get it back,” he said. “My last three fights, I proved I can still win without a lot of momentum. Yeah, Danny Garcia had an off-night here and there, but he still won. That’s what separates a good fighter from a great fighter.

“Now I’m active again, I’m strong again, and I feel like my best performances are ahead of me. You’ll see. It’s going to be a great night.”

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Reconfiguring the Championship Rounds: What if There’d Been 3 More or 3 Less?

Jeffrey Freeman

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The true championship distance is 15 rounds insisted Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini when pressed about it. “I have a problem with guys who only had to go 12 and got into the Boxing Hall of Fame before guys who went 15. I lost against Alexis Arguello and Livingstone Bramble,” he said, “(but) I was winning after 12. So if it’s only 12 rounds, I’m undefeated! What would they say now if I beat those legends?”

Good question Good Son.

They’d say that Arguello folded you to a knee with a perfectly timed right cross at the very end of the 12th round and that had it been correctly ruled a knockdown, you’d have lost a 12-round decision to the defending WBC champion. They’d also say that Bramble got you in the rematch.

Still, the former lightweight champion from Youngstown, Ohio makes a fan friendly point that goes to the hypothetical heart of the ‘12 versus 15 rounds’ debate. How would boxing history be viewed differently if certain 15-round fights had been scheduled for 12 rounds and vice-versa?

Let’s look at 10 such fights and ask, what if?

Joe Louis KO 13 Billy Conn, 1941: Famously, the undersized underdog title challenger was ahead on two judges’ scorecards after 12 rounds and even on the third. If title bouts in the 40’s were 12-round affairs, the “Pittsburg Kid” might have danced off with Joe’s heavyweight championship of the world but no, he found out that you can run—but you cannot hide. Louis knocked Conn out in the 13th round and then again in the 8th round of their 1946 rematch.

Would three more rounds have made any difference for Anthony Joshua against Oleksander Usyk last Saturday in Tottenham, U.K.? Far behind on two of three scorecards after 12, the real question is would AJ have had the stamina to go 15 and/or would Usyk have stopped him?

Rocky Marciano KO 13 Jersey Joe Walcott, 1952: Arguably the most important of all “come from behind” knockouts, the determined challenger from Brockton, Mass was down on all three judges’ scorecards after 12 rounds were complete in Philadelphia but unfortunately for Walcott, this was still the era of 15-round world title fights. What if Marciano-Walcott was only scheduled for 12 rounds? Rocky either loses a unanimous decision and never becomes world heavyweight champion or he adjusts to the shorter distance and gets Walcott out of there sooner like he did in the rematch, blowing Walcott away in just 2 minutes and 25 seconds.

Mike Weaver KO 15 John Tate, 1980: As WBA heavyweight champion, John Tate knew nothing of 12- round title fights. He beat Gerrie Coetzee via 15-round decision to claim the vacant title and his first defense against Mike Weaver was scheduled for 15. Knowing he was behind on the cards and that he stood no chance of winning the title by decision, “Hercules” Weaver flattened Tate in the 15th and final round for a memorable come from behind KO. What if this particular bout was scheduled for 12 rounds? Tate would have probably retained his title by decision and possibly gone on to defend against Muhammad Ali. It might’ve been Tate who put the final touches on Ali and retired him for good. Instead it was Trevor Berbick who did the job.

Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns I & II, 1981—1989: When these welterweight champions first faced off in 1981, 15-round world title fights were still very much the norm in boxing. Ahead on points after 12 rounds, Hearns gave up the lead (and the superfight) by collapsing in the “true” championship rounds. Score it a TKO 14 for Sugar Ray Leonard. In the sequel eight years later, 12-round title fights were the new normal. Sugar Ray sure needed those three rounds back! If he’d had them, he might have chased a badly tiring Hearns out of the ring again for another “championship rounds” stoppage, instead he was saved by a Vegas draw while Hearns was arguably saved by the bell to end their rematch’s 12th and final round. The what if’s abound! In an alternate boxing universe, Hearns beat Leonard by decision in 1981 then gets knocked out in the 14th round of their 1989 rematch. What would they say now Ray?

Ray Mancini KO 14 Deuk Koo Kim, 1982: Widely credited with being the catalyst for the abolition of 15 round fights in boxing, Mancini-Kim was a “ring death” played out on national television. What if this WBA lightweight title fight was instead a 12-rounder? Mancini would still have kept his championship but perhaps Kim would still be alive. The worst of the abuse Kim absorbed from “Boom Boom” came in the 13th and 14th rounds of their “kill or be killed” war.

What if nobody had to die that day?

Marvin Hagler UD 15 Roberto Duran, 1983: After 12 close rounds in Vegas, the late great “Marvelous One” was down by enough points on the judges’ scorecards that had it gone to their totals after 12 rather than 15, Duran would have been declared new world middleweight champion, a feat he pulled off six years later in 1989 when he decisioned Iran Barkley over 12 to win the WBC middleweight title. Hagler got busy in the championship rounds to hold off the attempted coup and earn a ‘much closer than it should’ve been’ 15-round unanimous decision.

What if they’d robbed Hagler in a 12-rounder against Duran? My guess is that Hagler would’ve retired in 1984 and left Sugar Ray to wonder what might have happened if they’d ever fought.

Sugar Ray Leonard SD 12 Marvin Hagler, 1987: Of the many concessions made by Hagler to make the Superfight with Sugar Ray happen was an agreement to go 12 not 15 rounds. Both were experienced 15- round fighters but as the active, defending champion, it was Hagler who was more “tuned-in” for 15 rounders than his comebacking challenger. Could a tiring Leonard have gone three more rounds? He won the 10th and 11th but then gave away the 12th. Could Hagler have rallied in the “championship rounds” as he did against Duran four years prior? The thought of three more rounds excites me in a way the prospect of the fight itself once did.

But unfortunately, it’ll never happen.

Julio Cesar Chavez TKO 12 Meldrick Taylor, 1990: There was so much at stake when these two undefeated junior welterweight champions clashed that it should have been scheduled for 15. This was the best fighting the best. We all know what happened. Chavez was being given a boxing lesson by a brave Philly fighter but it hardly mattered because the beating he was laying on Taylor could no longer be ignored, even by the HBO crew who tried their gosh darndest. With 2 seconds left in a 12-round fight in which Taylor was way ahead (!) on two of three scorecards, referee Richard Steele cut through the ‘what if’s’ by stopping the fight with a badly busted up Taylor out on his feet after getting up from a dramatic knockdown in the bout’s final ten seconds.

What if Steele had let Meldrick go on knowing there were three more rounds scheduled and this was an elite unification match? Could Taylor hold on to his “lead” and finish the fight? I doubt it.

Sergio Martinez UD 12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., 2012: For ten rounds, the defending world middleweight champion was toying with the son of a legend. It was fun to watch. Then as if animated by performance enhancing DNA, Chavez Jr. almost duplicated the famous feat of his father. Hurting Martinez in the 11th and dropping him hard in the 12th, Chavez Jr. attacked like a manchild possessed. Martinez got up, punched back, and the final bell rang. What if there were three more rounds to go? Would Martinez have still survived the bigger man? We’ll never know. For Chavez the father and Chavez the son, the mas importante championship round was the 12th.

What’s the hook that connects Martinez-Chavez Jr. to Marciano-Walcott? It’s the late WBC President José Sulaimán. The familial godfather of Chavez Jr., Sulaimán came to Brockton in 2012 in the wake of the Martinez-Chavez fight to christen the new Rocky Marciano statue and to comment on the WBC middleweight title bout, telling me he believed it was well scored.

Now let me shock you.

After being mugged at Madison Square Garden in 2014 by Miguel Cotto, “Maravilla” Martinez retired to the land of misfit toys. You know that part. But did you also know that he fought twice last year and once last weekend against Brian Rose, winning all three? He looks good for 46!

What if Golovkin-Martinez finally happens?

And what does Boxing Hall of Famer “Good Son” Ray Mancini really think about the change from his era’s 15-rounders to today’s 12-round title fights? Was it all because he “killed” Kim?

“That was a TV decision not a medical decision. They wanted 12-round fights so they had an opening and a closing if the fight went the distance so it wouldn’t go over into the local newscast. Once people understand that, then they’ll understand why it’s 12 rounds now. I’ve talked to neurologists and brain surgeons. I’ve found out there is no proof that more damage is done in the last three rounds as opposed to the first 12. There have been fatalities in 12 round fights too.”

Will 10-round title fights be next?

Chavez Jr / Martinez photo credit: Naoki Fukuda

Boxing Writer Jeffrey Freeman grew up in the City of Champions, Brockton, Massachusetts from 1973 to 1987, during the Marvelous career of Marvin Hagler. JFree then lived in Lowell, Mass during the best years of Irish Micky Ward’s illustrious career. A former member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a Bernie Award Winner in the Category of Feature Story Under 1500 Words. Freeman covers boxing for The Sweet Science in New England.

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The Hauser Report: Oleksandr Usyk Upsets the Applecart

Thomas Hauser

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On Saturday night, Oleksandr Usyk won a unanimous decision over Anthony Joshua at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London to claim the WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight titles. With that victory, Usyk follows in the footsteps of Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko to become the third heavyweight beltholder from Ukraine.

Joshua has an elegance about him. Unlike some heavyweights at the top of today’s class, he seems rational and sincere when he speaks. “The world is cruel,” he told Sky Sports a year ago. “You’ve got to have a thick skin. One minute you’re on top of the world, and the next minute you’re not. That’s the name of the game we’re in.”

“AJ” has accomplished a lot in the past ten years. He won a gold medal in the super-heavyweight division at the 2012 London Olympics, became enormously popular in his homeland, and has earned tens of millions of dollars fighting. What he hasn’t done is prove himself to be a great fighter. The promise that seemed to be there after he climbed off the canvas to beat Wladimir Klitschko in an enthralling spectacle before 90,000 screaming fans at Wembley Stadium in 2017 never fully blossomed.

The Klitschko fight changed Joshua. Instead of gaining confidence from walking through fire and prevailing, he seemed to be a more tentative and vulnerable fighter afterward. Less-than-scintillating victories over Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker, and Alexander Povetkin followed. Then promoter Eddie Hearn brought Joshua to America to showcase him at Madison Square Garden against the corpulent Andy Ruiz. Shockingly, Ruiz knocked AJ down four times and stopped him in seven rounds.

Six months later in Saudi Arabia, Joshua gained a measure of revenge when he outboxed a grossly-out-of-shape Ruiz to reclaim his belts. But AJ hardly looked like a conqueror. A good jab doesn’t just score points and keep an opponent at bay. It cuts; it hurts; it shakes up the opponent. Against Ruiz the second time around, Joshua threw a stay-away-from-me jab all night. As Jimmy Tobin wrote, it was as though he’d been transformed “from wild boar to truffle pig.”

A cautiously-fought victory over Kubrat Pulev followed. “It’s easy to watch on YouTube and be confident,” Joshua said afterward. “Easy to watch from the outside. But when you’re in front of someone, actually in the ring, it’s a completely different ballgame.”

Usyk, like Joshua, won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics (Oleksandr’s was in the heavyweight division). He’d distinguished himself in the professional ranks by unifying the cruiserweight titles and had become the mandatory challenger for AJ’s IBF belt by virtue of lackluster victories over Chazz Witherspoon and Dereck Chisora.

Joshua was a 5-to-2 betting favorite. Usyk is a tricky southpaw with a 18-0 (13 KOs) professional record. But AJ has heavy hands and a devastating uppercut. Twenty-two of his 24 victories had come by knockout. His chin is suspect but Oleksandr was deemed ill-equipped to exploit that vulnerability. All one had to do was watch Usyk struggle against Witherspoon and Chisora to conclude that AJ was too big a mountain for him to climb. There’s a reason that there are weight classes in boxing.

At the weigh-in, Joshua was twenty pounds heavier than Usyk. It was, one observer opined, “a fight between a heavyweight and a wanna-be heavyweight.” The greatest threat to Joshua seemed to be Joshua.

One day before the bout, AJ was asked what would be next on his schedule after fighting Usyk. The assumption was that his next opponent would be the winner of Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder (who are scheduled to fight on October 9).

“I’ve got a rematch clause if the worst happens,” Joshua answered. “So, if I lose, I’m fighting Usyk again; the undisputed gets put on hold. If I win, I’ll fight either one of them. If Fury wins, I’ll fight Fury. If Wilder wins, I’ll fight Wilder.”

That answer was remarkable. Fighters often hype their opponent to build a promotion. But the phrase “if I lose” rarely escapes their lips.

On fight night, the atmosphere was electric. The 65,000-seat Tottenham Hotspur Stadium had been sold out within twenty-four hours of tickets going on sale.

On DAZN’s televised undercard, Florian Marku won a split decision over Maxim Prodan. Then Callum Smith scored a scary one-punch knockout of Lenin Castillo. Next up, Sonni Martinez (a 2-and-4 fighter whose victories had come against fighters with 4 wins in 20 fights) exposed Campbell Hatton’s deficiencies as a fighter and also Marcus McDonnell’s deficiencies as a referee and judge. McDonnell’s 58-57 scorecard (he was the sole arbiter) in Hatton’s favor was disgusting. After that, Lawrence Okolie predictably knocked out an overmatched Dilan Prasovic in three rounds.

Joshua seemed to enjoy the fireworks and blaring music that accompanied his ring walk. It had been a long time since he’d fought before a large roaring crowd in England. The stage was set. Then the fight started.

For Joshua loyalists, the contest was akin to opening a beautifully-wrapped present on Christmas morning and finding bath towels inside instead of a much-desired stylish coat.

Usyk began cautiously, moving around the ring, throwing jabs like a pesky fly. AJ looked clumsy and a bit befuddled. Oleksandr’s southpaw style was giving him trouble. The proceedings brought to mind the advice that trainer Emanuel Steward gave to Lennox Lewis on the night that Lewis fought Ray Mercer. The plan that night had been for Lennox to outbox Mercer. Except the plan wasn’t working. In the middle rounds, sensing that the fight was slipping away, Steward told Lewis, “Just f***ing fight him.” Lennox did as instructed and won a narrow decision.

Rob McCracken (Joshua’s trainer) should have given AJ the same advice. When AJ went to Usyk’s body (which was hittable), he seemed to hurt him. But he didn’t do it often enough. Instead of trading with Usyk, for most of the night Joshua seemed reluctant to let his hands go and looked less interested in hitting than concerned about getting hit.

Joshua came on a bit in the middle rounds but then relinquished control again. He needed to impose his size and strength on Usyk but didn’t. He didn’t fight like a heavyweight champion is supposed to fight.

As the bout progressed, Usyk suffered cuts above and below his right eye. AJ’s nose was bloodied and there was a pronounced swelling beneath his right eye.

Usyk fought the final two rounds as though he needed them to win. Joshua fought the final two rounds like a beaten fighter and was in trouble at the final bell.

Give the judges credit for honest scoring. Their 117-112, 116-112, 115-113 scorecards were on the mark.

“This was the biggest fight in my career, but it wasn’t the hardest,” Usyk said afterward. “There were a couple of moments where Anthony pushed me hard but nothing special.”

So much for the megafight between Joshua and the winner of Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder. If the scenario that unfolded in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday night seemed similar to Joshua-Ruiz I upending the planned megafight between Joshua and Wilder two years ago, that’s because it was.

The loss to Ruiz raised questions about Joshua. Joshua-Usyk answered them. AJ is a good heavyweight, not a great one.

Photo credit: Mark Robinson / Matchroom

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His next book – Broken Dreams: Another Year Inside Boxing – will be published in October by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. In 2019, Hauser was selected for boxing’s highest honor – induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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Adelaida Ruiz Grabs WBC Silver Title in Pico Rivera and More

David A. Avila

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Adelaida Ruiz Grabs WBC Silver Title in Pico Rivera and More

Finally.

Adelaida “La Cobra” Ruiz grabbed the WBC Silver super flyweight title with an emphatic beating of veteran Mexican fighter Nancy Franco by late stoppage on Saturday night.

After waiting for most of her adult life to win a title, Ruiz (10-0-1, 5 KOs) showed off her superiority with a nonstop barrage of blows to power pass Franco (19-15-2) in front of more than 1,400 fans at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena in Pico Rivera.

Six months ago, Ruiz thought she had an opportunity to win a title against Sonia Osorio, but a clash of heads early in the fight forced a stoppage due to an ugly cut. That fight ended in the second round in a technical draw according to WBC rules.

No cuts this time.

Ruiz flashed those quick three-punch combinations and whenever Franco returned fire it was never enough. Round after round the Los Angeles fighter who could not fight for 10 years due to parenting duties caring for three children, would batter Franco to show off the ability to slip or move just out of range.

In the eighth round Ruiz did not stop after her regular three-punch combinations and delivered an intense six-punch blast of fire that had Franco reeling. It looked like the end was coming soon but the Mexican fighter survived.

Franco was not so lucky in the ninth round. Ruiz continued the assault with a nonstop barrage and Franco tried to reciprocate, but it was not an even exchange. The pure savagery of the attack by the L.A. fighter forced referee Raul Caiz Jr. to inch closer and when a blow connected flush the experienced referee stepped in and stopped the assault at 1:20 of the ninth round.

Ruiz finally could claim a title.

It was a good stoppage especially after the boxing world lost a young fighter several weeks ago named Jeanette Zacarias Zarate. She was only 18 and was unable to succumb to injuries in the prize ring. During intermission a moment of silence was given in honor of the Mexican fighter.

Maricela Wins

Maricela Cornejo (14-5, 5 KOs) returned to action with a six-round decision win over Florida’s gritty Miranda Barber (2-3) who recently fought and won by first round knockout in New York three weeks ago. Not this time.

Cornejo continues to add new elements to her game. In front of a supportive audience the Mexican-American fighter was rarely in trouble against Barber who never slowed down her attack. Though Cornejo connected often, Barber only increased her attack whenever hit with a big blow. But it was never enough against the seasoned Cornejo.

The middleweight contender looked calm and professional throughout the six round fight that pleased the loud audience that included boxing great Claressa Shields sitting a few rows away from the ring. A match between the two has been talked about ever since Shields entered the professional scene in 2016 after her second Olympic gold medal win. This could be a future battle soon. Cornejo has shown that she can drop down to 154 where Shields currently dominates.

Other Bouts

Rudy Garcia (12-0) had little trouble against Mexico’s Ronaldo Solis (4-2-1) in a winning a decision after six one-sided rounds of a featherweight clash.

Ernesto Mercado (2-0) won by stoppage in the first round after Osmel Mayorga (2-2) was floored and unable to continue after the first round of a super lightweight fight.

Tenichtitlan Nava (8-2-1) and Adrian Leyva (2-2-1) were evenly matched featherweights and it ended in a split draw.

Tyrell Washington (4-0) continued his undefeated streak with a win by unanimous decision over Rodrigo Solis (4-8-1) after six rounds in a welterweight bout.

Japhethlee Llamido (5-0) defeated Victor Saravia (1-2) by unanimous decision in a fight that was competitive in each round. Llamido was a former sparring partner for Japan’s Naoya “Monster” Inoue.

Other winners were Carlos Rodriguez (1-0) and Alejandro Reyes (4-0).

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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