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Can Chris Arreola Play Heavyweight Spoiler on Saturday?

Miguel Iturrate

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Can Chris Arreola Play Heavyweight Spoiler? That is going to be the question this Saturday, July 16th at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. Arreola faces WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (36-0) in the main event of a card set to air on FOX, and frankly, few people are giving Arreola any kind of shot at pulling off the upset.

Heading into fight week, the sports books have Wilder a big-time -3700 favorite, with Arreola returning at +1850. There is no over/under line posted yet, but Wilder has 35 knockouts in his 36 wins and the talk is that this one is unlikely to see Arreola still standing at the final bell.

Back in 2009, Arreola had worked his record to 27-0, earning him a shot at Vitali Klitschko and his WBC heavyweight title. Arreola lives with the specter of that one-sided loss to this day, and since then he has not made the most of his opportunities. Arreola has struggled with discipline problems, at times letting his weight balloon. His last fight, back in December of 2015, was a lackluster showing against Travis Kauffman which he won by majority decision, only to have the outcome become a no-contest because of a failed marijuana test. This was Arreola’s second failure for pot. It should be noted that unless you are trying to clear a buffet, marijuana is not a performance enhancer.

This fight materialized for Arreola in late May, so he has had roughly six weeks to prepare. Wilder was scheduled to meet Alexander Povetkin in Russia in late May, but that fight fell out because Povetkin had drug-test issues of his own pop up. Wilder, feeling the loss of a $4 million dollar payday, was looking to put a fight together quickly.

Can Chris Arreola Play Heavyweight Spoiler?

So which Chris Arreola signed for this fight? It is easy to forget after all the ups and downs his career has taken that at one point Arreola was 27-0 and at the top of the list when it came to American heavyweights. Yes, Klitschko put a beating on him in that fight, but losing to Vitali in retrospect means a loss to one of the top two heavyweights of that era.

In that fight with Klitschko, things went wrong almost immediately for Arreola, who always found too much real estate between him and Klitschko when he was throwing punches. Meanwhile Klitschko picked him apart, landing roughly four times the number of blows that Arreola did. In the end, it was Arreola’s corner who threw in the towel and stopped the fight. Arreola himself, though bloodied and swollen, would have kept going.

There is no over/under up for this fight yet, as stated, and it bears noting that Arreola has tasted the canvas since his gutsy showing against Vitali, as he was floored by Bermane Stiverne and by Kauffman. Wilder is likely to fight at a distance with an active jab, and Arreola will have to do what he failed to do against Klitschko, and that is get inside. Wilder, while not as technically sound as Klitschko, presents many of the similar obstacles. Wilder is far more mobile than Klitschko, so Arreola will likely be chasing him all night, trying to cut off the ring.

This Saturday night in Alabama, Chris Arreola gets his third chance at the WBC world heavyweight title. We will see this weekend if Arreola came in motivated for what will likely be his last shot at a world title. He entered the fight against Klitschko seven years ago at the top of his game but yet with only a “puncher’s chance” to win. And it looks like that will be the case again come Saturday, whether he is in top form or not.

Can Chris Arreola Play Heavyweight Spoiler? (Picture courtesy of The Premier Boxing Champions).

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Weekend Recap: Hits and Misses

Kelsey McCarson

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Boxing is a global sport and multi-faceted entertainment spectacle.

There were a wide variety of cards over the weekend displaying those properties with everything ranging from an important title fight for a pound-for-pound superstar against a formerly elite champion hoping for one more big win, to a new titleholder attempting his first defense against a highly regarded prospect, with even a fight between two YouTube celebrities thrown in the mix for good measure. 

Here are boxing’s biggest hits and misses from a weekend that began on Friday in Japan (Thursday in the U.S.)  with Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire and ended on Saturday with Jamel Herring vs. Lamont Roach Jr. in Fresno and KSI vs. Logan Paul in Los Angeles. 

HIT: Huge Win for Boxing’s Little Monster 

Naoya Inoue suffered two fractures to one eye socket during a grueling World Boxing Super Series-winning performance against Nonito Donaire in Saitama, Japan. Inoue defeated a resurgent Donaire by unanimous decision in one of the best fights of the entire year. The 26-year-old captured the WBA bantamweight belt to go along with the IBF and The Ring magazine titles he already carried into the fight. 

More importantly, Inoue was finally tested against a quality opponent who appeared to have a real chance to win the fight. But Inoue’s sharp jabs, solid footwork and amazing athletic skill combined with some old-fashioned championship guile to produce the single most important win in Inoue’s already impressive career. 

After the fight, Inoue signed a multi-fight deal with Top Rank. That means his star power is finally about to be fully unleashed in the U.S. and while that’s a huge win for the Japanese dynamo, its also a pretty big win for us, too. 

MISS: Shocking Purse Size Disparity Between Saturday’s Main Event Participants 

Logan Paul and KSI each made $900,000 in their professional debuts on Saturday night in Los Angeles. Jamel Herring only made $300,000 for his title defense against Lamont Roach who made $100,000.

Something just seems off about that.

It’s not that I don’t understand the economics. The reason why the two You Tubers were able to make so much money in their professional debuts was because of their star power. More global interest plus more ticket sales in a big venue equals more money for the combatants. 

It just seems wrong that they would make three times as much money as Herring, a former Marine who won his first world title against Masayuki Ito in May and defended it on Saturday night against Roach Jr. on ESPN+. 

HIT: The Shrewd Gambit of BJ Saunders and Devin Haney

WBO super middleweight titleholder BJ Saunders and secondary WBC belt holder Devin Haney both swallowed their pride to appear on the undercard of the Logan Paul vs. KSI card. Here were two elite professional fighters with real boxing fan bases choosing to play second-fiddle to a couple of guys who were the main event for the sole reason that they had millions of subscribers on YouTube. 

But it seems shrewd for both Saunders and Haney to have taken the risk. Nobody knows how much good it might do for their careers or how many people from that much younger and very different audience might have discovered an attraction to the sweet science buried within them that night for the first time. Still, Saunders and Haney gave themselves chances to find new fans from a world that otherwise might never have even known they existed. That’s something. 

Besides, they got paid well and were able to grab wins that will move their careers forward no matter how everything else works out. It was a savvy move that other fighters might have been too proud to make. 

MISS: Bad Night on a Big Stage for Referee Jack Reiss

Referee Jack Reiss is one of the best at what he does, but he didn’t have a great night in officiating KSI’s split-decision win over Logan Paul. In fact, it seemed from the start that he was over-involved and constantly making his mark in a fight that should have been left to the two fighters. 

During the third round, KSI landed a blow behind Paul’s ear that probably should have been scored a knockdown. Riess ruled it a slip.  In round four, Paul landed an uppercut that hurt KSI badly, then the novice held KSI behind the head to land another one as his opponent was going down to the mat. Reiss took two points away from Paul, something deemed overly punitive by many who watched the fight. 

In the end, two scorecards were in KSI’s favor 57-54, 56-55 with one for Paul at 56-55 so Reiss’s rulings seemed to be crucial to the outcome of the fight. Boxing results should always be left to the fighters to solve, even for two celebrity newcomers to the sport. 

HIT: Jamel Herring’s Veterans Day Weekend Title Defense

Could there have been any better weekend to pit Herring against Roach Jr.? 

Herring, 34, from Rockville Centre, New York, qualified for the 2012 Olympics in London while being an active-duty Marine. The fighter served his country nine years as a soldier including two tours in Iraq. After competing in the Olympics, he began his professional career. 

To most eyes, Herring appeared at the time to be a hard worker who probably didn’t have what it took to become a world champion. In fact, boxing writer Cliff Rold shared on Twitter recently that he had tabbed Herring in an article he wrote as one of the less likely members of the 2012 team to excel as a professional and that Herring had emailed him after reading it to tell him he was wrong. 

Herring’s grand entrance included being escorted to the ring by two Humvees and 300 Marines. He went on to outwork Roach over twelve rounds to further solidify why never doubting a Marine is some pretty good advice. 

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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3 Punch Combo: Under The Radar Fights, Elton Dharry’s Improbable Journey and More

Matt Andrzejewski

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Pablo Cesar Cano vs. Roberto Ortiz, Alberto Palmetta vs. Erik Vega Ortiz, and the Improbable Journey of Elton Dharry

THREE PUNCH COMBO — There is no preeminent fight this week, but there is still a lot of boxing that will be broadcast on various platforms. Some very good fights are falling under the radar including one that should be an all-out slugfest.

On Saturday night, the latest edition of Golden Boy Fight Night on Facebook Watch will be streamed from Mexico. The card is headlined by two entertaining 140-pound brawlers in Pablo Cesar Cano (32-7-1, 22 KO’s) and Roberto Ortiz (35-4-2, 26 KO’s) who will meet in a bout scheduled for ten rounds.

Cano, 30, has been a pro now for over 14 years. After back to back losses in 2017 to Fidel Maldonado Jr. and Marcelino Lopez, Cano’s career seemed to be headed toward permanent journeyman status. However, he recently revived his career with a pair of upset wins.

In September of 2018, he scored a technical decision over the previously undefeated Ruslan Madiyev. And earlier this year, Cano pulled a stunner when he stopped former three division champion Jorge Linares in the first round. Those wins put Cano back in contention at 140 pounds where he is currently ranked sixth by the WBC.

Ortiz has a glossy record but he is 0-3-1 in his last four fights and is now in a similar place in his career to where Cano was in 2017. At 34, Ortiz finds himself in desperate need of a win over Cano to regain any hope of one day fighting for a world title.

Stylistically, these fighters are perfectly matched to make for an entertaining scrap. Both are pressure fighters who aren’t afraid to mix it up. And they each are more than willing to absorb a few punches just to create the opportunity to land their own shots.

There is something else to keep in mind about this fight. While both fighters have been stopped on multiple occasions, they don’t necessarily have the weakest of chins.

In the case of Ortiz, he suffered his knockout losses to three very big knockout punchers (Lucas Matthysse, Cletus Seldin and Vergil Ortiz Jr.). In the case of Cano, his stoppage losses have mostly come due to cuts and/or swelling around his eyes.

And it should also be noted that while both fighters are heavy handed punchers, neither would be considered to have one punch knockout power.

The above is my way of saying that we have two brawlers who like to slug it out with better chins than they are given credit for and who don’t possess that one punch power to suddenly end a fight. This can’t be anything but an extended all-out shoot-out.

ShoBox Returns

The acclaimed prospect-oriented series ShoBox returns on Friday from the WinnaVegas Casino & Resort in Sloan, IA. Consistent with the history of this series, the six fighters in the televised tripleheader have a combined record of 65-1. The main event is an intriguing welterweight clash between Alberto Palmetta (12-1, 8 KO’s) of Argentina and Erik Vega Ortiz (16-0, 9 KO’s) of Mexico.

Palmetta, 29, had a long and distinguished amateur career that culminated with him representing Argentina at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. Co-promoted by Sergio Martinez of Maravillabox Promotions and Sampson Boxing, this is his fifth appearance on US soil, but his first as a headliner in a nationally televised card.

Palmetta is very athletic and his overall game is multifaceted. I would even go as far as describing him as a poor man’s Sergio Martinez. Fighting as a southpaw, Palmetta mixes his attack, sometimes working behind the right jab using his legs and in other spots attacking aggressively from various angles. The amateur experience shows in his overall game as his footwork is superb and his movement is very fluid. He possesses very fast hands and what can best be described as heavy-handed power.

For all that appears to be good about Palmetta’s game, there are some weaknesses. He has a bad tendency of holding his right hand low and as such is vulnerable to getting clipped with his opponent’s left hook. And he does have an early knockout loss on his resume. Was that an aberration or are there issues with his chin?

There is not a lot known about Vega Ortiz. There’s very limited video of him available online. The press release for this fight says that Vega Ortiz possesses “an all-out pressure style similar to many of his fellow countrymen of Mexico,” but the limited video I was able to see differs greatly from that description.

Vega Ortiz appears to be a natural counter puncher. He is not aggressive but likes to work behind the left jab, circling his opponents, waiting for counter opportunities. When those opportunities arise, he will open up and throw combinations. But he is also more than content to wait for those moments and work cautiously behind the jab.

Vega Ortiz is not that athletic nor does he possess quick hands or devastating power. But he has decent skills and defensively keeps a tight guard with good head movement.

I like this fight because I think Vega Ortiz could present an interesting puzzle for Palmetta to solve. Will it be a slugfest? Probably not, but I think it will have its moments. Palmetta will look to lead and try to find openings through the tight guard of Vega Ortiz. And when Palmetta does open up, Vega Ortiz will look to counter, particularly with the left hook upstairs. On paper, it’s a classic competitive ShoBox fight that should provide good action.

The Improbable Journey of Elton Dharry

On September 11th, 2009, Elton Dharry dropped a four-round unanimous decision to Isander Beauchamp on a small show in Plymouth, Mass. The loss dropped Dharry’s record to 3-5-1.

Ten years and 21 straight wins later, Dharry finds himself in a position that once seemed improbable. On Friday, he will face off against 20-0 Andrew Moloney for an interim title belt in the 115-pound weight division. The contest will take place in Moloney’s home country of Australia and be broadcast in the United States on ESPN+.

Dharry’s career trajectory is starting to look relatively similar to that of Tevin Farmer and Orlando Salido. Similar to those two, Dharry received some tough on-the-job training in the early portion of his career. In his sixth pro fight, for example, he dropped a four-round unanimous decision to future three division title-holder Leo Santa Cruz.

Thinks started to click for Dharry following his loss to Beauchamp. He pulled a few mild upsets along the way and with the exception of a period in 2017 has stayed relatively active. In his two most recent outings, he scored his best wins. In May of 2018, he scored a ten round unanimous decision against Oscar Mojica. And earlier this year, Dharry won a ten round unanimous decision against Gilberto Pedroza to set up this opportunity against Moloney.

From the video I have seen, I don’t think Elton Dharry should be considered such a substantial underdog. Dharry likes to apply pressure working behind an excellent well-timed left jab from the orthodox stance. He throws fluid, heavy handed combinations and makes a point to work his opponent’s body. And defensively, he does keep a tight guard with very good head movement.

Moloney, who is more athletic, is going to try to box Dharry. But Dharry’s pressure and body punching could be a major factor as this fight progresses. Keep in mind we have not seen Moloney in a fight where he has been substantially pushed down the stretch.

Make no mistake about it, Dharry can fight and it’s not out of the question to think he may continue his improbable journey with an upset on Friday in Australia.

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KSI Beats Logan Paul and Haney and Saunders Win Title Fights in L.A.

David A. Avila

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LOS ANGELES-Two celebrity stars made their pro debuts in the main event and filled the arena with youngsters of all ages including more than a few brought by their moms on Saturday night.

KSI (1-0) defeated Logan Paul (0-1) by split decision to the cheers of some and the jeers of others before a packed Staples Center after a six round cruiserweight fight. It was the main event despite two legitimate world championship bouts that also took place before more than 13,000 fans.

It was a rematch of an amateur fight that took place year ago in the United Kingdom. This time no head gear.

After a year of intermittent training with professionals, the British-based KSI trained mostly in the U.S. and Paul trained in Los Angeles and both showed what they had learned.

Fans screamed loudly as if Mike Tyson were facing Lennox Lewis.

It was a strange yet electric atmosphere.

KSI opened the fight with a determined effort as Paul calmly avoided the windmill rights and lefts delivered his way by the British social media star. Aggression was the name of the game.

Back and forth the two went with KSI mostly the aggressor and Paul content to jab to the head and body and avoid the wild swings coming his way. Fans screamed at the near misses as if Babe Ruth had swung and missed at a fat curveball in the middle of the plate.

KSI grabbed the momentum with his constant attacks and was seemingly on his way to a solid win when Paul connected with a right uppercut. The bigger and taller American star Paul pushed down on the staggered Brit and hit him with the free hand and followed that with another blow to the back of the head. The British fighter stumbled a bit and referee Jack Reiss stopped the fight to allow KSI time to recover and to inform the three judges that he was deducting two points from Paul for the two infractions.

“I would have won,” said Paul about the deductions.

KSI resumed attacking the bigger man but caught some shots from Paul.

“I don’t stop. He hit me with a few little shots here and there,” said KSI. “I don’t stop, I’m a dog man.”

Paul was the bigger man and had his moments in the latter half of the six-round fight but did not seem to believe in his strength. He never took advantage of his superiority in power.

After six rounds one judge scored it in favor of Paul 56-55, but two other judges saw it otherwise 57-54 and 56-55 for KSI.

“I just want to say fair play to KSI, you’re one of the toughest people I know. I wish you the best,” said Paul.

World Title Fights

WBC lightweight titlist Devin Haney (24-0, 15 KOs) brought his flash and precision expecting to show off to the new fan base, but Dominican fighter Alfredo Santiago (12-1, 4 KOs) had other ideas. Still, Haney ran away with the win via unanimous decision.

Things looked good when Haney floored Santiago in the fifth round with one of his flashy combinations punctuated by a right uppercut. Down went the taller Santiago but he managed to survive the onslaught.

For the remainder of the fight both contestants managed to entangle each other as each sought to establish ground. Haney looked to unload one of his slick combinations but the Dominican fighter closed ground to take away Haney’s ability to unload his lethal combinations.  It was holding and more holding for the remaining seven rounds.

Devin Haney attacks Santiago Alvarez

After 12 rounds all three judges scored it for Haney 120-107 who retains the WBC lightweight title.

Haney said he hurt his shoulder midway in the fight, but despite the injury he was intrigued by the different fans that attended the boxing card.

“I’m very excited it’s a whole new fan base,” said Haney.

BJ Saunders

WBO super middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) may have been out of sorts in the Los Angeles climate but after 11 rounds of adapting to the air and Argentina’s Marcelo Coceres (28-1-1), the southpaw Londoner lowered the boom to win by knockout.

It took a while but he got the job done.

Saunders had never fought on American soil and seemed not quite sure what to do with the Argentine slugger who was also making his American debut.

BJ Saunders KOs Coceres

After 10 rounds of slipping and countering the left-handed super middleweight switched into high gear and unloaded with a blistering four-punch combination and down went Coceres. The crowd erupted after a rather slow fight. Coceres got up and tried to hammer it out with Saunders and was caught with a perfect right uppercut and down went the Argentine a second time. Again he got up and Saunders moved in for the attack and was on his way down from what looked like a slip but referee Ray Corona looked at the fighter and decided to end the fight at 1:59 of the 11th round. Saunders retains the WBO title.

“That performance was not worthy,” said Saunders after the knockout win. “I knew in my own mind I had to get him out of there…I had to go for the knockout.”

Saunders seeks a fight against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the new light heavyweight world titlist, but who is also the WBA super middleweight titlist. Alvarez is also the top money-maker in the prizefighting world and anybody that fights the Mexican redhead will make a huge pot of money.

Saunders also has a message for Alvarez:

“If you want to become full weight world champion take me now. I want Canelo Alvarez and now is the right time,” said Saunders.

Other Bouts

NABF super featherweight titlist Ronny Rios (32-3, 16 KOs) buzz sawed Colombia’s Hugo Berrio (28-8-1, 18KOs) with a withering body attack that kept got worse and worse until the knockout ending.

A lead right cross floored Berrio who looked like he was expecting anything but the right cross after absorbing body shots for three rounds. The end came at 2:56 of the fourth round. Referee Tom Taylor stopped the fight through mid-count exactly at the same time as Berrio’s corner fired in a white towel of surrender.

“I didn’t even know he was going to go down,” said Rios about the impact of his right hand knockout. “I’ve been practicing on sitting down on my punches.”

Local fighter Diego Pacheco with his long arms knocked out Aaron Casper with that seemingly elongated right after several rounds of pummeling in a super middleweight fight.

Pacheco, 18, kept the pressure against the veteran fighter but had some problems when Casper crowded him inside. But after several rounds of entanglement South Central L.A.’s Pacheco figured out the solution and floored Casper with a crisp right cross. Casper beat the count but was met with an eight punch barrage that sent the Georgia fighter down for good. Referee Rudy Barragan stopped the fight at 2:49 of the fourth round.

“He has a tremendous heart, he’s a warrior and I tip my hat to him,” said Pacheco of his fallen opponent.

Nikita Ababiy (8-0, 6 KOs) was the winner by disqualification over Jonathan Batista (19-16) in a super middleweight fight scheduled for four rounds. After Ababiy hit Batista behind the head and was deducted a point, the fight resumed and Batista slugged Ababiy repeatedly after the bell prompting referee Ray Corona to disqualify Batista at the end of round one.

Reshat Mati (5-0, 3 KOs) knocked out Cody Peterson (1-6) at 1:41 of the second round in a super welterweight match. Mati fights out of New York but is an Albanian native.

Another Celebrity fight

Josh Brueckner (1-0) of Michigan powered through Huntington Beach’s Tyler Smith (0-1) in a four round battle between former MMA fighters making their pro boxing debuts in a cruiserweight bout. Brueckner showed more speed and offense than Tyler who seemed bent on defending the rushes of his foe. After the victory Brueckner proposed marriage to his girlfriend Katie with whom he shares a popular Vlog on the Internet.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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