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Sunday Report Card: The Ultimate Weekend Wrap-Up (Nov. 12 edition)

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Sunday Report Card

Sunday Report Card – The Sweet Science’s Diego Morilla compiles a full weekend wrap-up of the most relevant boxing events in the worldwide scene with short recaps, links to videos and other articles, and all the info you need to keep up with the week’s most important results. Every fight that matters is right here, in one place, and at one click away. Follow us every Sunday on Twitter at #SRC @TheSweetScience @MorillaBoxing

Uniondale, N.Y., Saturday, November 11

Daniel Jacobs UD 12 Luis Arias, middleweights

“The Miracle Man” is back, indeed. But his performance was not the spectacular return that we all hoped for after his career-best performance in his fight against Gennady Golovkin back in March. This time, he started with a bang by putting Arias (18-1, 9 KOs) in trouble early on, keeping the Cuban-Nicaraguan fighter in check and forcing him to clinch and avoid an early knockdown, and that recipe was repeated for pretty much the entire fight, with Arias in survival mode and Jacobs exploding in bursts of frustration occasionally, trying desperately to inflatable slide score a stoppage that never came. Jacobs was credited with a flash knockdown in the eleventh, but never really had the previously unbeaten Arias in danger as he cruised to a 118-109, 120-107 and 119-108 decision win that puts his record at 33-2 with 29 knockouts.

The winner goes on to: It shouldn’t be hard to lure a top contender into the ring with Jacobs after such a not-so-explosive performance, but his sights are set on an eventual bout with the winner of GGG-Canelo II, so I guess an interim bout with a David Lemieux type would be the advisable move.

Read a full recap of this fight here at TheSweetScience.com.

Jarrell Miller TKO 9 Mariusz Wach, heavyweights

“Big Baby” Miller (20-0, 18 KO) stayed unbeaten with this entertaining (OK, I had very low expectations and they were almost fulfilled, OK?) bout against the towering Wach (33-3, 17 KOs), a former world title challenger from Poland who never showed any arguments to dispute Miller’s aggressiveness in the ring. Apparently, Wach broke his hand sometime during the fight, and therefore lost all the limited pop that he had, so my guess is that Miller sensed that deficiency and went all-out knowing that he couldn’t be hurt by Wach, bobbing and weaving his way in and exposing himself to Wach’s now harmless punches until the inevitable stoppage happened.

The winner goes on to: Not a bad performance by Miller, but the “next level” should be considerably more difficult for him. Even someone as limited as Dominic Breazeale could be too big a hurdle for him.

Cletus Seldin TKO 3 Roberto Ortiz, junior welterweights

Well, I guess “The Hebrew Hammer” proved us all wrong, didn’t he? Seldin (21-0, 17 KOs) was seen as a largely unproven fighter, but he dismissed those thoughts with an impressive annihilation of Ortiz (35-2-2, 26 KOs), a tough hombre who had only been stopped by Lucas Matthysse. A mere 30 seconds into the bout, Seldin dropped Ortiz with a right hand and sent him down a second time a short time later, continuing his assault in the following round and opening a cut over Ortiz’s left eye. Finally, the referee considered he had seen enough and stopped the carnage towards the end of the third round.

Fresno, California, Saturday, November 11

Jose Ramirez TKO 2 Mike Reed, 10 rounds, junior welterweights

The “Fight for Water” had us all gasping for air in the end, instead. Ramirez (21-0, 16 KOs), local hero, unbeaten, 2012 Olympian, and community activist in this agricultural area of California, labeled the bout as “Fight for Water” to honor the area’s complaints about water usage in the region. And he then honored his pledge to give his hometown fans a huge victory by destroying then-unbeaten Reed (23-1, 12 KOs) in just two rounds in front of a huge crowd. A demolishing knockdown in the second round set the tone for the stoppage, which came midway through the round amid pointless protests by the seriously outgunned Reed.

 

Artur Beterbiev TKO 12 Enrico Koelling, vacant IBF light heavyweight title

Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs) is making his case to become the next big KO artist from the former Soviet block, and he took a major step in this title-winning performance against a game but outgunned Koelling (23-2, 6 KOs) to claim the vacant IBF world title left behind by Andre Ward. True to his nature, Beterbiev moved in for the kill from the very beginning while Germany’s Koelling tried to hold him off and outbox him, to no avail. The Russian powerhouse then decided to pick his spots and turn the fight into a progressive destruction effort, and he had his reward when there were less than 30 seconds left on the clock to finally lift his first title belt and initiate a championship run that could turn him into one of the most attractive fighters in the heavier divisions in the near future.

Also on this card:

Amir Imam TKO 4 Johnny Garcia, junior welterweights

Alex  Saucedo KO 3 Gustavo Vittori, junior welterweights 

Edinburgh, Scotland, Saturday, November 11

Josh Taylor KO 9 Miguel Vazquez, 12 rounds, junior welterweights

Nice win for the 26-year old Taylor (11-0, 10 KOs), who became the first man to stop the superbly technical and extraordinarily boring Vazquez in his 45-fight career (39-6, 15 KOs) with a right hook to the body. Vazquez, a veteran of many a Top Rank undercard during his four-year reign of tedium, still has all the technical ability that drove him to the championship but he is now in fringe contender/steppingstone territory, in stark contrast with Taylor’s young march towards higher ground.

The winner goes on to: Taylor, trained by Shane McGuigan, has his work cut out for him in one of the toughest divisions in boxing, but if he can continue luring top names into his hunting grounds in the Highlands he is in good shape to build a resume strong enough to secure a title shot within two years or less.

Newcastle, England, Saturday, November 11

Liam Smith UD 12 Liam Williams, junior middleweights

Not so much controversy this time, huh? Their first “Battle of the Liams” ended in controversy after a clash of heads caused Williams to withdraw and thus forfeit the fight to Smith, renewing a bitter feud between both fighters that promised to end in this rematch, which was also a WBO title eliminator to boot. In the end, it was Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs) who was able to settle the score, this time with a majority decision over Williams (16-2-1, 11 KOs) by scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 114-114, in a fight that clamors for a third episode – perhaps with a world title belt on the line next time.

Bilbao, Spain, Saturday, November 11

Kerman Lejarraga UD 10 Jose del Río, Spanish welterweight title

At first look, a Spanish welterweight title shouldn’t be something to write home about, right? Well, this time it kinda is. Lejarraga (24-0, 19 KOs) is a legitimate blue chip prospect generating lots of interest in the Spanish peninsula, and this fight is a testimony of that since it was the main event of Spain’s first-ever Pay-Per-View card. That was also in part thanks to Del Rio´s popularity as well, but it is clear that Lejarraga is the man to follow here. The card was called the “Night of the Million” in reference to the amount of people who were expected to tune in and probably the amount of money expected to be collected, and over 10,000 souls packed the local arena to witness the event. It is time to make Lejarraga move his act stateside and start putting new numbers in his record. The final ones for this night were given by the three scorecards of 99-90, 98-92 and 99-91 in favor of the “Revolver of Morga” over Del Rio (26-6, 7 KOs).

Cleveland, Ohio, Friday, November 10

Yuandale Evans SD 10 Luis Rosa, featherweights

We’re talking real fights here. Beautiful stuff by Evans (20-1, 14 KOs), who did everything he could to avoid being the only once-beaten fighter in the ring that night and handed Rosa (23-1, 11 KOs) his first career loss after 10 stupendous rounds of action. The fight went back and forth and both fighters seemed on the verge of scoring a stoppage at certain points of the fight, with Rosa being closer to that goal in the fateful 8th where he rocked Evans into a corner. The tenth and final round was as emotional as it could get, with both fighters continuing to trade unpleasantries well after the final bell sounded as an early call for a rematch, which given the close scorecards  (96-94 and 96-93 for Evans, 96-94 for Rosa) is very possible.

Read a full recap of this fight here at TheSweetScience.com

Radzhab Butaev UD 8 Janer Gonzalez, welterweights

Not a very emotional fight, but a great display of boxing skills by Butaev (8-0, 6 KOs), who continued his unbeaten march at the expense of Gonzalez’s (19-1-1, 15 KOs). The Russian former amateur star was wise enough to put rounds in the bank early on and then tough enough to weather the late surge from his Colombian foe, finishing ahead by scores of 80-72, 79-73, 77-75.

 

Photo credit: HBO Boxing

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Jan. 29, 1994: A Stunning Upset Animates the Debut of Boxing at the MGM Grand

Arne K. Lang

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Twenty-six years have elapsed since the first boxing card at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. The inaugural show took place on Jan. 29, 1994, the eve of Super Bowl XXVII.

A little background: The MGM Grand opened on Dec. 17, 1993. With its 5,005 rooms, it was the largest hotel in the world. The MGM Grand Garden arena, effectively the municipal auditorium of the self-styled “City of Entertainment,” was christened on New Years Eve with a concert by Barbara Streisand. Twenty-nine days later, the bill of fare was an 11-fight boxing card promoted by Don King.

Looking back, seven of the participants – boxers Julio Cesar Chavez, Felix Trinidad, Hector Camacho, Thomas Hearns, and Christy Martin and referees Richard Steele and Joe Cortez – would go on to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Hearns, who was nearing the end of his career, having grown into a cruiserweight, was matched soft, as was Christy Martin who was making her Las Vegas debut and was then looked upon as a sideshow novelty act. Two other notables, heavyweight Razor Ruddock and welterweight Meldrick Taylor, were likewise deployed in stay-busy fights. The undercards of Don King’s major promotions typically took this tack – big names in little fights.

Topping the bill were three world title fights. WBC 154-pound title-holder Simon Brown opposed Troy Waters. Trinidad defended his IBF welterweight title against Camacho. And in the grand finale, the great Chavez, who held a junior welterweight title, was matched against Frankie Randall.

Simon Brown had a more difficult time than expected against Troy Waters, a teak-tough Australian, but prevailed on a majority decision. Trinidad, at age 21 the younger man by 10 years, chased Camacho all over the ring en route to winning a unanimous decision. And Chavez….

The MGM Grand Garden was scaled to hold 15,200, but there were a lot of empty seats; the announced attendance was 12,777. One would have expected a sellout as Las Vegas is chock-full of revelers on a Super Bowl weekend, but there was an extenuating circumstance.

Twelve days before the fight, at 4:30 am on Jan. 17, Southern California was struck by an earthquake. Centered in the San Fernando Valley, about 20 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, the Northridge Earthquake damaged buildings as far as 85 miles away. It buckled portions of some heavily-traveled freeways, forcing their closure and repairs were hindered by a scattered series of aftershocks that lasted the better part of two weeks.

Visitors from Southern California are the backbone of the Las Vegas tourism industry. Most arrive by car. The earthquake had the effect of reducing hotel occupancy as many Southern Californians cancelled their reservations and that assuredly spilled over into the fight, hurting attendance. But those that were there witnessed a memorable main event.

Frankie Randall, nicknamed the Surgeon, hailed from Morristown, Tennessee. He had an excellent record (48-2-1, 39 KOs), but Julio Cesar Chavez, who owned the most eye-catching record in boxing (officially 89-0-1), was so highly regarded that he was listed as a 17/1 favorite in the MGM sports book.

Randall started strong, an indication that he would be a hard nut to crack. But the middle rounds belonged to Chavez with his patented body attack. In round seven, one of those body punches strayed too low and Richard Steele deducted a point.

In round 11, Steele deducted another point for the same infraction and, worse for Chavez, he was knocked down for the first time in his career. It was a straight right hand that did the damage, a clean punch, and although Chavez was up at the count of “three,” it was a 10-8 round for Randall.

During the early rounds, shouts of “May-hee-co, May-hee-co” reverberated through the arena. Late in the fight, when one could sense that an upset was brewing, shouts of “USA, USA” punctuated the din.

The 11th round proved decisive. When the scores were read, the Mexican judge favored Chavez 114-113, but he was overruled by the Puerto Rican judge (114-113) and the Las Vegas judge (116-111). If not for those two points deducted by referee Richard Steele – the same referee who had controversially stopped Chavez’s fight with Meldrick Taylor with one second remaining on the clock in the final round – Julio Cesar Chavez would have retained his title — and his undefeated record — on a split decision.

Chavez did not take losing very well. He bellyached that he was robbed, an opinion that found few sympathizers. A fast rematch was arranged which took place at the MGM Grand on Cinco de Mayo weekend. In this fight, an accidental clash of heads late in round eight left Chavez with a bad gash on his forehead and the fight was stopped. By rule, it went to the scorecards where Chavez emerged the winner by split decision, a very controversial denouement (and a story for another day). There would be a rubber match in Mexico City when both gladiators were in their 40’s, a dull 10-round affair scored in favor of Chavez.

By the way, on the day following the debut of boxing at the MGM Grand, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 30-13 at Atlanta. As Super Bowls go, this one didn’t attract all that much buzz. The same teams had met in the Super Bowl the previous year and Dallas had won by “35.”

By all indications, the forthcoming Super Bowl will be a doozy. Enjoy the game.

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Introducing Top Prospect Raeese Aleem, the Pride of Muskegon

Arne K. Lang

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At age 29, Raeese Aleem has yet to appear in a 10-round fight, but that will almost assuredly happen this year. The undefeated (15-0, 9 KOs) super bantamweight from Muskegon, Michigan, takes another step in that direction on Friday, Feb. 14, when he opposes San Antonio’s Adam Lopez (16-3-2) at Philadelphia in a bout that will air on “ShoBox,” the long-running SHOWTIME series that’s been a springboard for 81 fighters who went on to win world titles.

Aleem earned a black belt in karate before taking up boxing and becoming a four-time Michigan Golden Gloves champion. As an amateur, he and his coach Terry Markowski did a considerable amount of traveling between meets to find good sparring. Grand Rapids, an amateur boxing hotbed, was just down the road, but Detroit and Chicago were a good three hours away and on occasion they went on an even longer excursion into Ohio.

Aleem turned pro in 2011 and had his first 10 fights on the Midwest circuit, venturing as far north as Green Bay and as far south as Cincinnati. At the time, he worked in the produce department of Meijer’s, a regional rival of Walmart. His bosses, he notes, were generous in letting him juggle his work schedule around his boxing assignments.

For a boxer with designs on winning a world title, the Midwest circuit is like a bicycle with training wheels. Aleem had to shake free of it to see how far he could go. Besides, getting fights was getting tougher and tougher. There’s a 28-month gap in his pro timeline that includes all of 2013. He had several fights fall out during this frustrating quiescence.

If you’re an aspiring film actor, you go to Hollywood. If you’re an aspiring boxing champion, you go to Las Vegas. Not a week goes by without a young fellow turning up here to test his mettle in one of the many local gyms with the hope of attracting the eye of one of the major promotional firms.

“When I came to Las Vegas,” says Aleem who has a daughter back in Michigan, “I had no family here, no friends.” He was directed to Barry’s boxing gym, run by ex-boxer Pat Barry and his wife Dawn, retired Las Vegas police officers, and started training under their son-in-law Augie Sanchez. But Sanchez, the last man to defeat Floyd Mayweather Jr (accomplished when they were amateurs), had other priorities. He is an assistant coach with Team USA which obligates him to spend a good deal of his time at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Things started looking up for Aleem when he joined the Prince Ranch stable under the management of Greg Hannley. At the Prince Ranch Gym, where the head trainer is Bones Adams, he has sparred with such notables as Nonito Donaire and former WBO 122-pound champion Jessie Magdaleno.

Aleem doesn’t miss the weather in Muskegon, a lakefront city where sub-freezing temperatures are the norm in the dead of winter and snow is forecast for all of next week. But he still has one foot in his hometown, as evident by his unbroken bond with Terry Markowski. In an era when some boxers appear to change trainers as often as they change their underwear, Aleem has remained loyal to Markowski who has been in his corner for all of his pro fights and will be there again on Feb. 14.

Markowski, who teaches boxing at the Muskegon Rec Center, is a protégé of Muskegon’s most esteemed boxer, the late Kenny Lane. The epitome of a crafty southpaw, Lane, a lightweight and junior welterweight, was a three-time world title challenger during a 100-fight career that began in 1953.

The relationship between Raeese Aleem and Terry Markowski dates back to 2003 when Aleem resided in the nearby village of Ravenna, where Aleem’s father, the patriarch of a large blended family, planted Raeese and his siblings to get them away from the temptations of Muskegon which has several blighted areas. “It was a culture shock for me when I started going to school in Ravenna,” says Aleem, looking back, as none of his schoolmates looked like him.

This will be Aleem’s fifth fight in Pennsylvania where he has made four of his last five starts. The connecting thread is Reading, Pennsylvania gym operator-turned-promoter Marshall Kauffman who has been credited with keeping boxing vibrant in the Keystone State.

This being Aleem’s national television debut, it’s important that he make a good showing. His Las Vegas trainer Bones Adams, a former world champion in Aleem’s weight division, expects nothing less. “I’m confident he will be a world champion someday,” says Adams.

Photo credit: Mario Serrano / Prince Ranch Boxing

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A Bouquet for Danny Garcia in This Week’s Edition of HITS and MISSES

Kelsey McCarson

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Two-division champion Danny Garcia had the spotlight all to himself over the weekend in a stay-busy fight against Ivan Redkach on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It was the main event of a Showtime Championship Boxing tripleheader that had the odd privilege these days of not being counterprogrammed by a Top Rank show on ESPN or any other kind of boxing card on DAZN.

So Garcia, 31, from Philadelphia, had the chance to remind people how excellent a fighter he is in full force, which would help him greatly in his effort to secure an unlikely bout against WBA champ Manny Pacquiao or remain first in line to face WBC and IBF champ Errol Spence whenever the Texan recovers from the injuries he sustained in a car accident in October.

But did Garcia pull it off? Here’s the latest edition of HITS and MISSES.

HIT – Danny Garcia’s Pristine and Precise Technique 

The best parts about Garcia were on full display against Redkach. That was made easier by Redkach’s lack of anything that might have given Garcia any real problems, but nonetheless Garcia was able to show the lovely footwork and balanced countering ability that made him so formidable at junior welterweight. There’s just something special about seeing Garcia fight. The economy of his movement inside a boxing ring is something that is just plain different than just about any other world-class fighter in the world today. In a fight that most people probably would have preferred he just skipped, and one that didn’t turn out to be any different than everyone expected, at least Garcia’s beautiful boxing was on display.

MISS – Showtime Sparring Sessions

In addition to Garcia-Redkach, Showtime rounded out its tripleheader with undefeated junior featherweight Stephen Fulton taking on former Muay Thai fighter Arnold Khegai and former unified junior middleweight champion Jarrett Hurd taking on career welterweight Francisco Santana. While Fulton’s fight against Khegai seemed like a legitimate prizefight, there was something about the other two bouts that screamed sparring sessions. That was especially the case for Hurd’s bout. Not only was Hurd in there with a middling welterweight, but he also used the rounds of the fight to work on vastly different boxing techniques than what made him so popular in the first place. Showtime might not have the pull they once had with the people over at the PBC offices, but they for sure need to get more involved in vetting matchups if they hope to remain afloat within the competitive boxing landscape of today.

HIT – Stephon Fulton’s Title Chances at 122 Pounds

Fulton is a very solid boxer who digs to the body and has a fast, clean jab. Khegai was the perfect kind of opponent for the 25-year-old. He was very game and never stopped trying to win. Additionally, his background in Muay Thai offered some different looks to Fulton that should help him on his way toward world title contention. In the end, Fulton outworked Khegai to hand the tough 27-year-old the first loss of his career. Now let’s hope Fulton is off to bigger and better things such as challenging for a world title. He’s ready right now.

MISS – Andy Ruiz’s Continued Soap Opera

The best thing former unified champion Andy Ruiz could have done after blowing the rematch against Anthony Joshua in December is getting right back to work in the gym. What better way to show trainer Manny Robles that he was taking responsibility for his actions than to get right back to work with the same team he had just let down so badly? Instead, Ruiz fired Robles and is considering other trainers. That would make more sense if there had been some sort of tactical error in the fight. But Ruiz already admitted he simply didn’t train for arguably the biggest fight of his life, and that’s not anyone’s fault but his own.

HIT – Former Middleweight Titleholder Andy Lee’s Second Act

It appears former WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee found his second act in life as a trainer, which makes a ton of sense if you followed Lee’s career under the tutelage of the late Emanuel Steward. Lee, 39, left Ireland after his amateur days to live with Steward in Detroit and train at Kronk. The two had a very close personal relationship and that experience ultimately helped Lee win the world title in 2014 two years after Steward’s passing. Now, Lee is passing on what he knows in the same way Steward did with him to other fighters. He trains and manages Irish upstart Paddy Donovan, is guiding Jason Quigley back to contention and even helped orchestrate distant cousin Tyson Fury bringing on Javan “SugarHill” Steward for the heavyweight’s upcoming rematch against Deontay Wilder.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott

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