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Hauser Fires At USADA and Floyd; USADA Then Floyd Respond

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THURSDAY, Sept. 17 Update: USADA has fired a combination, a 25 pager, back at writer Thomas Hauser.

“On September 9, 2015, SB Nation posted an article written by Mr. Thomas Hauser that contained no less than 40 inaccurate facts and misleading statements, as well as quotes from un-named, un-informed or self-interested sources about USADA and our role in anti-doping in the sport of professional boxing,” reads the intro to their counter-punch, found on their website.

“In order to provide truthful and accurate facts, and to stop the perpetuation of further rumors, speculation and false information, USADA has provided a detailed 25 page fact correction of the full article which can be found HERE.”

Then, a couple hours later, this, from TSS’ Hauser:

Statement of Thomas Hauser with Regard to the

September 17, 2015, Comments by USADA

USADA’s response is long on verbiage and short on documented facts. I intend to write another longform article on this subject at some point in the future. For now, I note the following:

 

(1) The USADA statement goes to great lengths to discredit Victor Conte, attacking him on three separate occasions for past misdeeds (which I referenced in “Can Boxing Trust USADA?”). USADA also states that I “cherry picked Jeff Novitzky’s response to questions posed to him by Mr. Rogan regarding Victor Conte.”

 

Mr. Novitzky’s remarks came in an interview conducted by Joe Rogan last month (The Joe Rogan Experience #685). In that interview, Mr. Rogan and Mr. Novitzky also discussed IVs. Let’s pick a whole barrel of cherries:

 

Joe Rogan: “What’s the reason why they can’t use an IV? Is it to mask possible performance enhancing drugs?”

   

Jeff Novitzsky: “That’s the primary reason. I saw it up front and center in cycling. They were using IVs of saline solution to manipulate their blood level readings, which were being used to determine if they were blood doping. It could also be used to flush a system. It dilutes blood and urine so that natural steroid profiles are very hard to read after you’ve taken an IV bag. That’s the primary reason. WADA also prohibits them for some health reasons. When an IV is administered, especially close to a competition, there’s a possibility of blowing out a vein or having clotting after the IV is taken out. There could be some issues with edema and swelling. If the idea is to rehydrate, it’s much safer to do it orally. Studies show that orally rehydrating is better for you if you’re mildly dehydrated. There’s two things that they show consistently. Number one, it’s obviously safer to put something through your mouth than put it in a needle in your vein. Number two, your perceived rate of exertion, how hard you feel you’re working after rehydrating orally, is less than if you rehydrate via IV. If you rehydrate orally properly, the next day you’re going to feel a whole lot better when you’re exerting yourself.”

   

“Now that’s mild dehydration,” Novitzky added. As for extreme dehydration, Novitzky suggested, “You probably should go to a hospital. [And] I think you need to notify the commission where you’re fighting.”

 

If Floyd Mayweather was dehydrated after the May 1 weigh-in, the USADA doping control officer could have given him several glasses of water. USADA has yet to explain the medical justification and supporting data that led it to grant a retroactive therapeutic use exemption nineteen days after the fact for a procedure that’s on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s “Prohibited Substances and Methods List”.

 

 

(2) Most of the public attention regarding “Can Boxing Trust USADA?” has focussed on the IV that was administered to Floyd Mayweather one day before his fight against Manny Pacquiao. However, the article also references the two testosterone-to-epitestosterone-ratio test results regarding Mr. Mayweather that were made available to this writer. It would be instructive if Mr. Mayweather granted a waiver to USADA allowing it to release the testosterone-to-epitestosterone-ratio test results for each urine test administered to him by USADA for each of his fights beginning with Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley up to and including Mayweather vs. Andre Berto. 3) The issues involved here go far beyond Floyd Mayweather. In that regard, I note that USADA’s contention that it advised the New York State Athletic Commission on October 17, 2012, concerning Erik Morales testing positive for Clenbuterol is rebutted by the statement of Laz Benitez (a spokesperson for the New York State Department of State, which oversees the NYSAC). On August 10, 2015, Mr. Benitez advised in writing, “There is no indication in the Commission’s files that it was notified of this matter prior to October 18, 2012.”

FRIDAY, Sept. 11 AM UPDATE: Manny Pacquiao, who himself has been under a spotlight, a big one held up by Floyd “Take The Test” Mayweather, reacted to the Thomas Hauser story. “Truth finally came out and I was vindicated,” he told Abac Cordero of The Phillipine Star. “mayweather camp used to accuse me of using PED, now look what happened. I hope Floyd Mayweather would learn a lesson out of it.”

Interesting stuff…

It is no secret in certain circles, many of them public, as people like Paul Malignaggi have been vocal about their suspicions of the Pacquiao power surge in later years, and then dropoff, that some presume Manny used.

Floyd himself toyed with the issue before they fought, needling–pun intended, I suppose–Team Pacquiao by pointing to ex strength and conditioning man Alex Ariza as an integral part of Manny’s success. This was in the context of Pacman trainer Freddie Roach having accused Ariza of giving his guy “shady” drinks with undisclosed chemicals in them when he was with the Congressman.

Mud is still being slung, friends. No surprise, there is immense money, and pride, and legacies at stake here.

ALSO: Sides are being taken, and the messenger, Hauser, is being fired upon. Kill the messenger if the message is disagreeable, a time honored if not honorable tradition.

The catalyst for that can be varied; some writers, I think, like their Floyd access and are sucking up.

Others, I’ve seen this from a couple “young guns,” might be suffering from envy issues. Rather than choosing to primarily parse the material, and ponder what it truly means IF the sport’s marquee star, a vocal anti-PED activist, has in fact used PEDs, some are choosing to focus on what they perceive as a journalistic misstep. They say that Hauser is biased, being that he works for HBO. And he didn’t disclose that, they rail. To the contrary, he did. See this: https://twitter.com/Woodsy1069/status/642353071247466498

We can check their, and for that matter, my archive in ten years, and if we make 25% of the impact Hauser has in his four decades in this sphere, then we will have done well. Investigative journalism is REALLY hard, and how it is done isn’t really taught in textbooks. I’m seeing a lot of criticism at a superlative talent, but I suppose that comes with that territory…

Let me be clear, I question myself all the time about how to play a story. Go negative all the time and you get a rep as a toxic type, and you get avoided. Plus, it’s too gloomy to always be looking for the bad. But journos are always doing a balancing act: how to do the right thing, keep sources, maintain a balance..and it is what it is. But I don’t care for some of these guys out there acting like they are the gold standard of ultra-professionalism, telling you they only write the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and are completely immune from political pressures, whether it be from sources, potential sources, or their employers. (You saw an ESPN non-boxing story get an after-posting edit to soften wording harsh versus the NFL, a partner to that cabler…so this happens, all the time. Writers get impacted by politics, overtly, or covertly, oftentimes subconsciously.) I call BS. All of us can simply do the best we can, at all times…and I think most do.

END RANT.

—————————————————————————————————————————

2:10 (ET) THURSDAY UPDATE: Thomas Hauser has released his own statement, responding to the one put out by USADA late Thursday morning. The author chooses a high degree of specificity in his comeback, you will note:

Statement of Thomas Hauser with Regard to the

September 10, 2015, Comments by Annie Skinner on Behalf of USADA

No amount of self-serving rhetoric from USADA can change the following unrebutted facts:

(1) The IV was administered at Floyd Mayweather’s home after the weigh-in on May 1. USADA learned about the IV on that date.

(2) The 2015 WADA “Prohibited Substances and Methods List” states, “Intravenous infusions and/or injections of more than 50 ml per 6 hour period are prohibited except for those legitimately received in the course of hospital admissions, surgical procedures, or clinical investigations.”

(3) The above-referenced prohibition is in effect at all times that the athlete is subject to testing. It exists because, in addition to being administered for the purpose of adding specific substances to a person’s body, an IV infusion can dilute or mask the presence of another substance that is already in the recipient’s system or might be added to it in the near future.

(4) Mayweather-Pacquiao was contested on May 2.

(5) Mayweather applied for a therapeutic use exemption on May 19 (seventeen days after the fight).

(6) USADA granted the therapeutic use exemption on May 20 (eighteen days after the fight).

(7) USADA did not notify the Nevada State Athletic Commission about the IV until May 21 (nineteen days after the fight).

Meanwhile, on May 2 (fight night), Manny Pacquiao’s request to be injected with Toradol (a legal substance) to ease the pain caused by a torn rotator cuff was denied by the Nevada State Athletic Commission because the request was not made in a timely manner.

It would be helpful if Travis Tygart or his spokesperson answered the following questions directly:

(1) What was the medical justification and supporting data that led to USADA granting the therapeutic use exemption for an otherwise prohibited IV procedure?

(2) On how many occasions has the “A” sample of a professional boxer tested by USADA come back positive for a prohibited substance?

(3) What was the testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio for each urine test administered to Floyd Mayweather by USADA for each of his fights beginning with Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley up to and including Mayweather vs. Andre Berto?

(4) Does USADA still maintain that it handled the Erik Morales matter correctly?

2 PM (ET) THURSDAY UPDATE: Floyd Mayweather almost 24 hours after Thomas Hausers’ scathing scrutinizer looked at USADA’s testing record in boxing and their handling of Mayweathers’ samples and the protocol involving the sport’s marquee name, responded. His statement is brief:

FLOYD MAYWEATHER STATEMENT

“As already confirmed by the USADA Statement, I did not commit any violations of the Nevada or USADA drug testing guidelines. I follow and have always followed the rules of Nevada and USADA, the gold standard of drug testing.

“Let’s not forget that I was the one six years ago who insisted on elevating the level of drug testing for all my fights. As a result, there is more drug testing and awareness of its importance in the sport of boxing today than ever before.

“I am very proud to be a clean athlete and will continue to champion the cause.”

Thursday AM: Thomas Hauser wrote a lengthy report which scrutinized testing agency USADA and looked long and hard at “TBE” Floyd Mayweather, and his PED testing history, and recent handling of his testing.

The story, which conjured serious questions about the integrity of USADA and Mayweather, who has painted himself as a cleanup agent within the sport, blew up at lunch yesterday and continues to pick up steam, into the mainstream media today, two days before Mayweathers’ supposed last-ever bout, against Floyd Mayweather.

Here is the Hauser piece:

http://www.sbnation.com/longform/2015/9/9/9271811/can-boxing-trust-usada

I asked USADA to respond and they did. That follows.

I also asked Mayweather publicist Kelly Swanson to respond, soon after the Hauser story came out, and she didn’t reply. (Her office sent out a release on Thursday, at about 1:30 PM ET.)

I messaged the Nevada commission to seek their take and am awaiting a response.

I will also post some responses to questions I had from Hauser, who frequently contributes to this site, shortly.

Here is the USADA response, which arrived before noon ET on Thursday.

USADA Statement on Inaccurate News Reports Regarding the Sport of Pro Boxing

Whether due to a genuine misunderstanding of the facts or an intentional desire to mislead, numerous unfounded and false accusations have been leveled against USADA in recent on-line articles. Since our inception, USADA’s sole mission has been to protect clean sport. As such, it is unfortunate and extremely disappointing to have to address articles riddled with significant inaccuracies and misrepresentations based on unsubstantiated rumors as well as anonymous or self-interested sources that have recklessly called our integrity into question. It is simply absurd to suggest that we would ever compromise our integrity for any sport or athlete.

Although the articles in question contain a multitude of errors, all of which will be addressed at the appropriate time, we believe it is important to immediately correct the record regarding the false suggestion that Mayweather violated the rules by receiving an IV infusion of saline and vitamins.

As was already publicly reported in May of this year by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), Mr. Mayweather applied for and was granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) by USADA for an IV infusion of saline and vitamins that was administered prior to his May 2 fight against Manny Pacquiao. Mr. Mayweather’s use of the IV was not prohibited under the NSAC rules at that time and would not be a violation of the NSAC rules today. Nonetheless, because Mr. Mayweather was voluntarily taking part in a USADA program, and therefore subject to the rules of the WADA Code, he took the additional step of applying for a TUE after the IV infusion was administered in order remain in compliance with the USADA program. Although Mr. Mayweather’s application was not approved until after his fight with Mr. Pacquiao and all tests results were reported, Mr. Mayweather did disclose the infusion to USADA in advance of the IV being administered to him. Furthermore, once the TUE was granted, the NSAC and Mr. Pacquiao were immediately notified even though the practice is not prohibited under NSAC rules.

Over the past six years USADA has conducted anti-doping programs for over 45 fights in the sport of professional boxing, and each of those programs has been conducted in accordance with the WADA Code and the International Standards. As a result, every athlete who has participated in one of our programs has voluntarily agreed to abide by the rules of the WADA Code and willingly subjected themselves to substantially more stringent testing protocols than they otherwise would have been subject to.

There are certainly those in the sport of professional boxing who appear committed to preventing an independent and comprehensive anti-doping program from being implemented in the sport, and who wish to advance an agenda that fails to put the interests of clean athletes before their own. Despite that opposition, we will continue to demonstrate to the clean athletes we serve, the sport partners we work with, and all those who share the ideal of fair competition, that we remain committed to our mission of protecting the rights of clean athletes and the integrity of competition.

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Brandon Adams Bursts Bohachuk’s Bubble in Puerto Rico

Arne K. Lang

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Brandon Adams Bursts Bohachuk’s Bubble in Puerto Rico

Ring City USA, a new promotional entity, debuted on Nov. 19, 2020 with a show staged in the parking lot of Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, CA. Ring City stayed outdoors for their first offering of 2021, but the company was a long ways from California. Tonight’s card was staged on a roundabout near a municipal gym in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.

The headline attraction was an attractive match between junior middleweights Serhii Bohachuk and Brandon Adams. The bout was originally set for Dec. 3, but had to be pushed back when Bohachuk tested positive for the coronavirus.

Bohachuk, a 25-year-old California-based Ukrainian, had stopped all 18 of his previous opponents. He had never gone past six rounds. Brandon Adams, a former world title challenger, represented a step up in class.

Bohachuk was well on his way to winning a unanimous decision when the tide turned dramatically in round eight. Fighting on a slick canvas, Adams suddenly found a new gear, unloading a series of punches climaxed by a thunderous left hook as Bohachuk retreated. The Ukrainian beat the count, but was teetering on unsteady legs and the referee properly called a halt.

Adams was without his regular trainer, 80-year-old Dub Huntley, who remained back in LA as a health precaution. In winning, he elevated his records to 23-3 (15). It was his best performance since defeating Shane Mosley Jr in the finals of Season 5 of the “Contender” series.

In the co-feature, an 8-round featherweight contest, Puerto Rico’s Bryan Chevalier improved to 15-1-1 (12) with a third-round stoppage of Peru’s Carlos Zambrano (26-2). Chevalier scored two knockdowns, the first a sweeping left hook that appeared to land behind Zambrano’s head, and the second a punch to the liver that left Zambrano in severe distress. The referee waived the fight off in mid-count.

The official time was 2:21. Chevalier, a tall featherweight (5’11”) made a very impressive showing; he bears watching. This was Zambrano’s first fight since April of 2017 when he was knocked out in the opening round by Claudio Marrero in a bout for the WBA interim featherweight title.

The TV opener was an entertaining fight between contrasting styles that produced a weird conclusion when Danielito Zorrilla was awarded a technical decision over Ruslan Madiyev. The bout was stopped at the 1:16 mark of round eight after Zorrilla sank to his knees after absorbing a punch to the back of the head. The ringside physician examined him for evidence of a concussion, but ultimately it was Zorrilla’s choice as to whether the bout would continue. He declined and was reportedly taken to a hospital for observation.

Madiyev, a California-based Kazahk, was the aggressor. He fought the fight in Zorilla’s grill, often bullying him against the ropes. In round five, he had a point deducted for hitting behind the head, squandering what was arguably his best round.

The fight went to the scorecards with Zorrilla winning a split decision (77-74, 77-75, 73-76), thereby remaining undefeated: 15-0 (12). Ironically, Madiyev (13-2, 5 KOs), suffered his previous loss in a similar fashion.

Madiyev’s new trainer Joel Diaz reportedly discouraged his charge from taking this fight for fear that he wouldn’t get a fair shake in Puerto Rico. Diaz’s apprehensions were well-founded.

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Ed Odeven’s New Book Pays Homage to Sports Journalist Jerry Izenberg

Rick Assad

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It’s one thing to get to the top, but it’s something else entirely to remain there for more than half a century. Jerry Izenberg, longtime sports columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger, now semi-retired and living in Henderson, Nevada, has done just that.

Izenberg is the subject of Ed Odeven’s book, “Going 15 Rounds With Jerry Izenberg,” which was released New Year’s Eve and is available at amazon.com.

“By all accounts, he should be recognized as one of the greatest American sports columnists,” said Odeven, a 1999 graduate of Arizona State University who has lived in Japan since July 2006 and is the sports editor for the website Japan Forward. “A versatile professional, he was equally skilled at writing books and magazine articles and producing sports documentaries and crafting essays for the groundbreaking ‘Sports Extra’ television program on Channel 5 in New York in the 1970s.”

Odeven went on: “Jerry has seen everything and been seemingly everywhere. He brought gravitas to the newspaper sports section with decades of sustained excellence.”

During a seven-decade career in sports journalism, the 90-year-old Izenberg, found time to write 15 non-fiction books and one novel. His affinity for the manly sport is reflected in his 2017 book, “Once There Were Giants: The Golden Age Of Heavyweight Boxing.”

“From the 1950s to the present day [including recent years’ coverage of Tyson Fury and Manny Pacquiao, for instance], Izenberg has shined in his boxing coverage,” Odeven said. “You can’t ignore his remembrance pieces on fighters and boxing personalities across the decades [such as a terrific column on the late Leon Spinks in which he weaved a tapestry of the fighter’s life and his family’s struggles into a powerful piece], either.”

One of Izenberg’s favorite topics is Muhammad Ali.

“Izenberg first observed the great fighter’s infectious personality, popularity and boxing talent on display at the 1960 Rome Olympics,” Odeven said. “Cassius Clay was unlike any other famous pugilist in those days and for the rest of his life.”

Odeven spoke about the support Ali received from Izenberg: “When very few were publicly taking a stand to support Ali, Izenberg wrote columns that defended his right to fight. He took the boxing establishment to task for stripping Ali of his titles even while Ali’s case was making its way through the courts – and ultimately the United States Supreme Court.”

Izenberg, a graduate of Rutgers University who covered the first 53 Super Bowls, and Ali were close. “As friends, they were around each other in all corners of the earth,” Odeven said. “They shared highs and lows during periods of personal and professional success and disappointment.”

Here’s Jerry Izenberg talking about Ali’s humanity: “I was a single father and when my children came to live with me, they were very nervous. I took them to Deer Lake [Pennsylvania] for a television show I was filming as an advance to the Foreman-Ali fight. After the filming, knowing my situation, (Ali) took my son aside and put his arm around him and said, “Robert, you have come to live with a great man. Listen to him and you will grow to be a great man just like him.

“On the way up my daughter, who was seven, had said, ‘I hope Foreman beats him up because he brags too much and you always told me to not brag.’ “I told her, ‘you are seven and you have nothing to brag about. Both of these men are my friends. When you get there, keep your mouth shut.’ When we were packing up the equipment, he saw her in the back of the room and hollered, ‘come up here little girl. You with the braids.’ She was convinced I had ratted her out about what she said and tried her best to melt into the wall because she was frightened. As she walked toward him, she lost the power of speech and mumbled. He was 6-3 and she was 4-5. He grabbed her and held her over his head. ‘Is that man your daddy?’ All she could do was nod. ‘Don’t you lie to me little girl, look at him,’ and he pointed at me. ‘That man is ugly…ugly. You are beautiful, now gimme a kiss.’ On the way home she said, ‘I hope Muhammad can win,’ and I said, ‘you are just like the rest of them. The only difference is your age.’ He was one of my five best friends. When he died, I cried.”

Odeven offered his slant on why Izenberg was at home at major boxing events: “It was clear that Jerry was in a comfort zone on the week of a big fight, writing the stories that set the stage for the mano a mano encounter and the follow-up commentary that defined what happened and what it meant.”

Izenberg, noted Odeven, had worked under the legendary Stanley Woodward, as had Red Smith and Roger Kahn, among others, the latter most well-known for having penned the baseball classic, “The Boys Of Summer.” Many insist that Woodward, who read the classics, was the greatest sports editor.

Woodward, Odenven believes, helped shape Izenberg’s world outlook. “Izenberg became keenly aware of this human drama at its rawest form that existed in boxing,” he said, noting that in decades past the public was captivated by the big fights. “Examples, of course, include the first and third Ali-Frazier bouts and The Rumble In The Jungle [against Foreman]. Let’s not forget they were cultural touchstones.”

Referencing the third installment of Ali-Frazier in Manila, Izenberg said, “I’ve probably seen thousands of fights, but I never saw one when both fighters were exhausted and just wouldn’t quit…My scorecard had Ali ahead by one which meant if Joe knocked him down in the 15th, he would have won on my card. But there was no 15th because Joe’s trainer, Eddie Futch, ordered the gloves cut off after the 14th.

“At the finish, Ali collapsed. Later as Ali walked slowly up the aisle supported by his seconds, he leaned over toward the New York Times’ Dave Anderson and me and said through puffy lips, ‘Fellas. That’s the closest you will ever see to death.’”

Izenberg remembered his lead: “Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier did not fight for the WBC heavyweight title last night,” he wrote. “They did not fight for the heavyweight championship of the planet. They could have fought in a telephone booth on a melting ice flow. They were fighting for the championship of each other and for me that still isn’t settled.”

What makes Izenberg relevant even today? “His canvas was the global sports landscape and he explored the human condition in each of his columns in some way,” Odeven stated. “He recognized what made a good story and sought out individuals and topics that fit that description – and he still does.

“You could read a random stack of columns about any number of topics from the 1960s or ’90s and be enlightened and entertained at the same time…He has always had a razor- sharp eye for details that illuminate a column and a source’s words to give it added verve.” Moreover, added Odeven, Izenberg had a never-wavering commitment to championing a just cause: “Speaking out against racism and religious bigotry, he gave a voice to the voiceless or those often ignored.”

Note: Jerry Izenberg was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the Observer category in 2015.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 126: Viva Puerto Rico, Claressa Shields, Canelo and More

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 126: Viva Puerto Rico, Claressa Shields, Canelo and More

In the age of Covid-19 fights get canceled and re-arranged and that’s found here in this second attempt to stage Serhii Bohachuk versus Brandon Adams in a super welterweight showdown.

This pairing was first talked about back when the Dodgers and Lakers both won world championships last October. Finally, it’s ready to cast off.

Beautiful Puerto Rico will be the locale for Bohachuk (18-0, 18 KOs) when he meets Adams (22-3, 14 KOs) on Thursday March 4, at Felix Pintor Gym in Guaynabo. NBC Sports Network will televise the Ring City USA fight card.

“Flaco” Bohachuk has rampaged through the super welterweight division like a ravenous Ukrainian version of Pacman. Who can stop him?

Adams has fought the better competition including a world title match against Jermall Charlo that he lost by decision less than two years ago.

Other factors exist.

Bohachuk was formally trained by Abel Sanchez in Big Bear Mountain but now works with Manny Robles at sea level. Will it make a difference when he trades blows against the smaller but seemingly stronger Adams?

“We’re taking this fight seriously against Adams,” said Robles who has trained numerous world champions including Oscar Valdez and Andy Ruiz. “Adams is a very strong fighter.”

Bohachuk last fought deep in the heart of Mexico and emerged with a stoppage that saw him scrap with little-known but tough-as-nails Alejandro Davila. Both landed serious stuff but Bohachuk just had more firepower.

Adams says he has seen firepower like Bohachuk’s before. He went toe-to-toe with Charlo for the WBC middleweight title and never touched the canvas. He’s smaller but more muscular and has fought taller guys most of his career.

This is one of those fights that used to be held at the Olympic Auditorium back in the day. Ironically, there is a documentary that has just been released about those days before it was closed to boxing in 2005.

Added note: Fernando Vargas Jr. will also engage on the fight card. The son of “El Feroz,” Fernando Vargas Jr. fights out of Las Vegas and will be in his second pro fight as a super middleweight.

Women’s pay-per-view

An all-women fight card led by Claressa Shields takes place on Friday March 5. It will be streamed by FITE.tv beginning at 6 p.m. PT. Price is $29.99.

Shields (10-0) faces her toughest foe yet when she steps in the boxing ring against Canada’s undefeated Marie Eve Dicaire (17-0) for the undisputed super welterweight world championship.

Dicaire is a tall southpaw with speed and agility who has defeated several world champions.

Shields is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and former undisputed middleweight world champion and super middleweight titlist who dropped down two weight divisions to pursue this venture.

Also, just added is Marlen Esparza, a USA Olympic bronze medalist, and current flyweight contender.

Esparza (8-1) agreed to fight on the pay-per-view card and meets Shelly Barnett (4-3-2) in a six-round bout set for the super flyweight division. Her last fight took place in October and she handed talented Sulem Urbina her first loss as a pro.

Barnett is a Canadian veteran of nine pro fights including an eight-round battle with Florida’s Rosalinda Rodriguez.

Rumor has it that Esparza is getting prepared for a showdown with Mexico’s Ibeth “La Roca” Zamora for the WBC flyweight world title later in the spring.

It’s a pretty good pay-per-view card that also features Danielle Perkins, Logan Holler and Jamie Mitchell in competitive fights. If you haven’t seen women fights, take a look. Shields alone can astonish with her fighting skills.

Canelo

That redhead from Mexico continues to decimate the competition whether its from England, Turkey or Russia. Line them up and let them fly.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez holds the WBA and WBC super middleweight world titles and was forced to fight the number one contender Avni Yildirim and promptly stomped him out like a bug on the rug.

Fans get upset. They don’t understand that ratings exist and with four or five sanctioning organizations all having different standings, a fighter like Alvarez who has two titles is forced to fight fighters ranked number one through 10. But it’s just a part of boxing that has to be done.

Alvarez had already skipped Yildirim before to fight Callum Smith for the WBA title which he won by unanimous decision. Now he will be meeting another Brit in Billy Joe Saunders who has the WBO version of the super middleweight title. It will take place on May 8, most likely in Las Vegas. That’s Cinco de Mayo weekend. Las Vegas needs the bank. Once again it depends on the Covid-19 situation.

Off topic, Canelo recently had an exchange with Claressa Shields who posted on social media that the Mexican redhead is one of her favorite fighters. She likes working on technique and posted one of her workouts where she is hitting a heavy bag with a combination that she saw Canelo use.

Canelo saw it and gave her a few tips. Champion to champion. That was kind of cool.

Farewell to L.A. Favorite

Featherweight contender Danny Valdez passed away on Sunday February 28 in Los Angeles. He was 81.

Valdez held the California Featherweight title when the state championship was not easy to gain. He also vied for the world title against Davey Moore in April 1961 in Los Angeles.

Many of his battles took place at the vaunted Olympic Auditorium where he fought the likes of Gil Cadilli and Sugar Ramos. Back in those days there was no better place to fight than the Olympic. But Valdez did engage in battles at Wrigley Field and the Hollywood Legion Stadium too.

Though Valdez fought up and down the West Coast in Oregon and California, he primarily battled at the Olympic Auditorium, a total of 24 times in all. If you ever watched a boxing card at the Olympic, it was a magical place.

Fights to Watch

(All Times are Pacific Time)

Thurs. 6 p.m. NBC Sports Network Serhii Bohachuk (18-0) vs Brandon Adams (22-3)

Fri. 6 p.m. FITE.tv.  Claressa Shields (10-0) vs Marie Eve Dicaire (17-0); Marlen Esparza (8-1) vs Shelly Barnett (4-3-2); Logan Holler (9-0-1) vs Schemelle Baldwin (3-1-2); Danielle Perkins (2-0) vs Monika Harrison (2-1-1); Jamie Mitchell (5-0-2) vs Noemi Bosques (12-15-3).

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