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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

Sunday Report Card / Check out more boxing newson video at The Boxing Channel.

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Boxing Great Rivalries: Another TSS Trivia Quiz

Arne K. Lang

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Test your knowledge of boxing history in this 15-question multiple-choice trivia quiz. Get 12 or more right and go to the head of the class.

To find the correct answers you will need to visit the TSS Fight Forum (CLICK HERE). There this quiz will repeat and you will find the answers sitting below the final question.

  1. What was the outcome of the second fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier?

(a) Muhammad Ali won a 12-round decision.

(b) Joe Frazier won a 12-round decision

(c) Muhammad Ali won a 15-round decision

(d) Joe Frazier won a 15-round decision

 

2. Sugar Ray Robinson was 1-2-1 vs. this rival including a loss at the Las Vegas Convention Center in their final meeting.

(a) Carmen Basilio

(b) Gene Fullmer

(c) Paul Pender

(d) Carl “Bobo” Olson

 

3. From Union City, New Jersey, he had six fights with Jack Johnson in 1905 and 1906 and likely many more with “Papa Jack” that haven’t yet found their way into the record book.

(a) Klondike Haynes

(b) Joe Jeannette

(c) Sam Langford

(d) Denver Ed Martin

 

4. The first fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran was held in the city where Sugar Ray Leonard won his Olympic gold medal. What city?

(a) Tokyo

(b) Montreal

(c) Los Angeles

(d) Mexico City

 

5. Manny Pacquiao had a memorable four-fight series with Juan Manuel Marquez. What title was at stake in their first encounter?

(a) Bantamweight

(b) Featherweight

(c) Lightweight

(d) Welterweight

 

6. Carmen Basilio lost, won, and drew, in that order, with this cagey welterweight, best remembered for losing a hotly disputed decision to Kid Gavilan.

(a) Johnny Saxton

(b) Johnny Bratton

(c) Billy Graham

(d) Hedgemon Lewis

 

7. This great middleweight was 1-4 in five bouts with Gene Tunney. In most record books, his victory in their first encounter is considered the only blemish on Tunney’s record.

(a) Stanley Ketchel

(b) Harry Greb

(c) Mickey Walker

(d) Billy Miske

 

8. He participated in four world championship fights, the last three with archrival Barney Ross.

(a) Fritzie Zivic

(b) Sammy Mandell

(c) Jimmy McLarnin

(d) Tony Canzoneri

 

9. Sandy Saddler and Willie Pep met four times with the featherweight title on the line. How many of these fights went the full scheduled distance?

(a) none

(b) one

(c) two

(d) three

 

10. Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta fought six times, Robinson winning five. How many of these fights were world title fights?

(a) one

(b) two

(c) three

(d) four

 

11. Charley Burley won two of three fights with intra-city rival Fritzie Zivic. What city?

(a) Brooklyn

(b) Boston

(c) Philadelphia

(d) Pittsburgh

 

12. He was 1-2 in three nationally televised fights with Vinny Pazienza.

(a) Greg Haugen

(b) Hector Camacho

(c) Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini

(d) Roger Mayweather

 

13. He defeated Mike Tyson twice as an amateur, knocking Tyson out of the 1984 Olympic Games, but Tyson had his number when they met as a pro, knocking him out in the opening round.

(a) Marvis Frazier

(b) Tyrell Biggs

(c) Henry Tillman

(d) Mitch “Blood” Green

 

14. Future Hall of Famers Jack Britton and Ted “Kid” Lewis met an astounding 19 times between 1915 and 1921 with all but two of those engagements packaged as welterweight title fights. Britton was born William J. Breslin. What was the birth name of Ted “Kid” Lewis?

(a) Alfonso Brown

(b) Harry Besterman

(c) Guiseppe Berardinelli

(d) Gershon Mendelhoff

 

These great Mexican warriors met four times with their second and third encounters named The Ring magazine Fight of the Year.

(a) Ruben OIivares and Jesus “Chucho” Castillo

(b) Carlos Zarate and Daniel Zaragoza

(c) Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales

(d) Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez

Want more? Check out our previous boxing trivia tests.

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Book Review

“Sparring with Smokin’ Joe” is a Great Look into a Great, Complicated Man

Phil Woolever

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BOOK REVIEW – Some rare moments arrive, as either a blessing or a curse, to cast definitive impressions of how someone might be remembered. As anyone reading this should well know, such a moment occurred 50 years ago today (March 8, 1971) at Madison Square Garden for Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali.

For Frazier, a punishing 15-round victory became the foundation to his legacy. That leads us to Sparring with Smokin’ Joe by Glenn Lewis, the latest biographical volume to focus on Frazier, with a timely release date close to the “Fight of the Century” anniversary that should provide plenty of solid promotional material for the book.

As a piece of literature the book, published by Rowman & Littlefield, stands up quite well on its own, and as a piece of boxing literature it stands out, through previously unpublished situational information on Frazier.

I found it to be a must-read for Frazier fans and a solid plus for most boxing libraries.

Author Lewis is a graduate school professor at the City University of New York (CUNY) and director of journalism at the affiliated York College with decades of expertise on his resume. This project is expertly constructed and reads very smoothly throughout. Beside the many insightful instances regarding Frazier himself, a very thoughtful portrait of his son Marvis Frazier runs through the narrative, which also conjures a vivid depiction of Frazier’s Broad Street Gym in North Philadelphia.

The book’s unique highlight is the ongoing tale of traveling with Frazier and his all-white band (with multiple Berklee school members) during a tour of southern states.

The first 140 pages or so (out of a listed 256), make up a fascinating memoir of getting to know Frazier and his circle during 1980, around four years after his second crushing defeat to George Foreman. At that point in his life, Frazier was trying to settle into retirement, guide Marvis’s culminating amateur career, and transition from boxing superstar to fledgling vocal attraction.

I devoured the opening sections of the book with reader’s glee, far more than enough to highly recommend Lewis’ book, but toward the end it seemed maybe he should have quit while and where he was ahead.

The last third gets substantially less engaging. The author grew distanced from his subject’s proximity and it shows, as the tale becomes far more familiar in relating already well-documented fight data.

There is still some fine perspective from Lewis like Joe’s hugely destructive obsession with rushing Marvis into disaster versus Larry Holmes, but for many of the closing segments you could cut and paste the same period of Frazier’s career out of Mark Kram Jr’s recent book Smokin’ Joe (2019) and gain a bit more personal touch.

That’s not at all to imply that the boxing writing is weak. Lewis makes an excellent case that Frazier won the rematch with Ali, not only the first fight; which leads to justified speculation on what could have occurred had Frazier gotten the second nod. Back then I shared Lewis’ opinion on the scoring, and his detailed analysis inspires taking another look at the replay.

Some minor gym characters or business associates become animated as if they’re standing in front of you, but I was disappointed in how a charming, complicated guy like Jimmy Young was overlooked and how larger-than-life characters like Gil Clancy and especially George Benton (a living example of where playwright August Wilson drew inspiration) came across rather subdued compared to the boisterous conversationalists I spoke with many times not long after the year Lewis’s story begins.

There are also a couple of minor omissions that, though based on very brief listings, still stick out when considering Lewis’s scholarly, journalistic credentials.

James Shuler is mentioned, but there’s nothing about his tragic death in a motorcycle accident a week after losing to Tommy Hearns in a minor title fight, nor the touching story about Hearns at the funeral, offering to put the belt in Shuler’s coffin. Frazier’s restaurant, Smokin’ Joe’s Corner, is also listed a couple times but there is no mention of the horrible murders that took place there during an inside job robbery and how that tragedy probably put the final nail into Frazier’s aspirations in the food industry.

I also hoped for some tidbits from Frazier’s thoughtful and wise older brother Tommy who provided me with some rare insights (and had an offbeat sense of humor about his name), a stoic trickster who seemed to lovingly enjoy putting his famous sibling on the spot.

Still, the overall impression I got was fantastic. A memoir should share time, location, emotion, and reflection. Lewis achieves all those things many times over.

Which leads to my primary, personal takeaway of this very worthwhile book. Based on a few of the lengthy encounters I was lucky enough to share with Joe Frazier (boxing and non-boxing related), it’s difficult for me to imagine that a canny observer like Lewis didn’t emerge from the amazing and enviable access he got with more wild tales, especially from nights on the road.

So, I’d have to guess, and bet, that Lewis let some of the more sensational situations or quotes remain aloft in the mist of the past, which to me is admirable, even more so in these social media dominated days.

Here’s a non-controversial quote that is included, which provides a sample of the many fine nuggets to be found:

“I don’t think you’re less of a man for crying,” said Joe, taking me by surprise. “It’s healthy for you. I cry if something goes wrong- I’ll cry right out. But if I cry out of anger, look out! Somebody’s in trouble. Crying shows a man has heart and helps him out of his pressures. Just don’t cry for nothing.”

I could almost hear Frazier’s voice when I read that, and descriptions of places I’ve been like Frazier’s gym read true enough to give the entire book an aura of accuracy.

A dozen excellent photographs serve as a first-class coda.

Fifty years after his biggest triumph, Joe Frazier remains a compelling topic in the discourse of sociological significance. This well written tribute does him plenty of justice.

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The Fight of the Century: A Golden Anniversary Celebration

Arne K. Lang

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In professional boxing, fights can be rank-ordered as generic fights, big fights, bigger fights, mega-fights, and spectacles. The first fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier wasn’t merely a spectacle, but the grandest spectacle of them all. This coming Monday, March 8, is the 50th anniversary of that iconic event.

Ali-Frazier I was staged at three-year-old Madison Square Garden, the fourth arena in New York to take that name. It drew a capacity crowd: 20,455 (19,500 paid). An estimated 60 percent of all the tickets sold fell into the hands of scalpers.

The fight was closed-circuited to more than 350 locations in the United States and Canada. At some of the larger venues, it established a new record for gate receipts, and this for an attraction that wasn’t produced in-house. In Los Angeles, 15,333 saw the fight at the Forum and 11,575 at the nearby Sports Arena.

Bill Ballenger, the sports editor of the Charlotte (NC) News, saw the fight at the Charlotte Coliseum. He reported that the audio – Don Dunphy did the blow-by-blow with Burt Lancaster and Archie Moore serving as color commentators – was loud enough to be heard outside the arena and that many folks, either unable or unwilling to purchase a ticket, loitered outside and followed the action in 30 degrees weather.

An estimated three hundred million people saw the fight worldwide. In England, by some estimates, half the population tuned in, watching either at home on BBC1 or at a theater where one could watch the fight unfold on a movie screen. Now keep in mind that in England the fight didn’t commence until 6:40 in the morning on a Tuesday!

Inside Madison Square Garden, the large flock of celebrities included many folks one wouldn’t expect to find at a prizefight. Marcello Mastroianni, Italy’s most famous movie star, made a special trip from Rome. Salvador Dali was there and Barbra Streisand and Ethel Kennedy, widow of Bobby Kennedy, seated next to her escort, crooner Andy Williams. Frank Sinatra was there working as a photographer for Life magazine. Lore has it that Sinatra wangled the assignment after failing to boat one of the coveted ringside seats.

The scene was made brighter by human “peacocks,” the label applied to Harlemites with an outrageous sense of fashion, and the electricity was palpable. When Ali appeared at the back of the arena, making his way from his dressing room to the ring, everyone had goosebumps.

The late, great New York sportswriter Dick Young once wrote that there is no greater drama than in the moments preceding a big heavyweight title fight and that was never more true than on March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden.

Ali (31-0, 25 KOs) and Frazier (26-0, 23 KOs) were both undefeated. Both had a claim to the heavyweight title, Ali because the belt had been controversially stripped away from him for his political beliefs. Opinions as to who would win were pretty evenly divided. In Las Vegas, Joe Frazier was the favorite at odds of 6 to 5. Across the pond in England, bookies were quoting odds of 11 to 8 on Ali.

Those that favored Ali were of the opinion that ‘Smokin’ Joe was too one-dimensional. That much was true. Joe was as subtle as a steam locomotive on a downhill grade. He ate Ali’s hardest punches, said Boston Globe reporter Bud Collins, as if they were movie house popcorn and he eventually wore Ali down. There was little doubt as to how the judges would see it after Joe knocked Ali down in the 15th round with a frightful left hook. When Ali arose, it appeared that he had been afflicted with a sudden case of the mumps. The decision was unanimous: 11-4, 9-6, 8-6-1.

This wasn’t the greatest fight of all time, but it was a fight that more than lived up to the hype. And, as several people have noted, the event took on a life of its own without the benefit of modern technology to push it along. The buzz was fueled in a large part by newspapers, the “antiquated” sort of newspapers that a fellow fished from his driveway or purchased at a newsstand on the way to or from work. If twitter and facebook had been around during Muhammad Ali’s prime, Ali would have blown the doors off the internet.

A cultural touchstone is an event that remains sealed in our memory. As we slide into old age, if we are lucky enough to live that long, we may not remember what we had for breakfast in the morning, but some long-ago events are as vivid as if they had happened just yesterday.

Boxing historian Frank Lotierzo has written poignantly about how overjoyed he was when he was surprised with the news that his father would be taking him to the fight. “To this day it remains the biggest thrill of my life!” wrote Lotierzo, who was then in the seventh grade. “And it’s not even close!”

I didn’t see the fight, but I can recall the faces of people that I overheard talking about it, people whose interest in the fight struck me as odd as I knew they had little interest in the world of sports. So, when the fight is replayed in its entirety on Sunday – it airs on ABC at 2 p.m ET and again at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN – I will be watching it for the first time. And it will be bittersweet as I will be reminded that I am in the twilight of my life and my thoughts will inevitably drift to my friends and loved ones that have left this mortal world in the years since that grand night in 1971 when Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier locked horns in the Fight of the Century.

I get misty-eyed just thinking about it.

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