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Wilder Answers All Questions versus Ortiz and Shows He’s Legit

Just when you thought boxing’s upswing couldn’t gain any more momentum, WBC heavyweight title holder Deontay Wilder and feared contender Luis Ortiz delivered

Frank Lotierzo

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Just when you thought boxing’s upswing couldn’t gain any more momentum, WBC heavyweight title holder Deontay Wilder and feared contender Luis Ortiz delivered an action-packed slugfest this past Saturday night at the Barclays Center in New York. Wilder’s thrilling 10th round TKO of Ortiz further fueled the desire to see him face WBA/IBF and maybe soon to be WBO titlist Anthony Joshua later this year, and if Joshua crushes WBO title holder Joseph Parker later this month Joshua-Wilder becomes Epic.

Prior to the fight I was a Wilder skeptic and thought his team only agreed to the fight because they either knew that Ortiz 28-1 (24) was there to go through the motions as an opponent or he was past the point of being a hurdle too high for Wilder to leap. So let’s clear the air – it was a legitimate and impressive win for Wilder 40-0 (39). No, Ortiz may not be quite as live as he was against Bryant Jennings back in December of 2015 and that perhaps was the wiggle room Wilder needed, but make no mistake about it, Ortiz would’ve defeated any other active heavyweight this past weekend whose last name isn’t Wilder or Joshua.

The bout started slowly but Ortiz’s southpaw style, flicking jab, subtle pressure and instinctive counter-punching had Wilder completely bewildered and in retreat searching for an answer. In fact there were times when Wilder was hesitant to punch and only parried his shots because he feared being countered.

Then Wilder got through in the fifth and knocked Ortiz down with his signature right hand after losing most of the round. This was the first round I scored for Wilder and he shaded the sixth with neither fighter doing much. In the seventh Wilder was tested like he never was before. Ortiz teed off and cuffed him all over the ring, landing his Sunday best and Wilder, despite probably being saved by the bell, summoned great reserve and refused to go down.

The start of the eighth was delayed about 10 seconds when referee David Fields called on the ring doctor to examine Wilder although Deontay was neither cut nor injured as TV commentator Paulie Malignaggi pointed out. The extra seconds aided Wilder’s recovery but it didn’t alter the result of the fight. Deontay, using every holding tactic in the book, survived the eighth round and Ortiz’s chance was lost. The ninth round was close but it was Wilder’s and you could sense the momentum changing.

The 10th round is when Wilder’s arrival as an elite heavyweight should be noted. Sensing Ortiz was having doubts and tiring, along with thinking he was behind, Wilder exploded. He cut loose and overwhelmed Ortiz with right hands and wild left hooks and with the assistance of a half shove Ortiz went down, but it was ruled a slip. When he got up Wilder clipped him on the temple and Ortiz went down. When he arose he was hurt and nearly helpless as Wilder again erupted and then landed his most technically thrown punch of the night, a textbook right uppercut that sank Ortiz and the fight was waved off. One thing is for sure – Wilder showed he is quite capable of finishing his opponent once they’re in trouble.

At the time of the stoppage Wilder inexplicably led 85-84 on all three judges’ scorecards. I had it 87-83 Ortiz going into the 10th round. The fact that the judges scored the fight the way they did and the shenanigans by the referee at the start of the eighth round are the reasons why there are so many skeptics when huge money is resting on the result of a big fight. In reality, Wilder won three of the nine completed rounds and was beaten at every turn in the others. The actions of the referee and scoring by the judges leaves you thinking that if Wilder didn’t get stopped there’s no way he was going to lose. Also, it was brought out on Showtime’s broadcast that Ortiz’s reach and height were overstated, leading me to question how much did they stretch the truth regarding his age?

Thankfully Wilder didn’t need any help or interference from the judges or referee and his gloved fist delivered the defining win of his career in spectacular fashion. Last April when Anthony Joshua rallied back after being down and hurt in his signature fight against Wladimir Klitschko, he was lauded for his heart and toughness. As Joshua did versus Klitschko, Wilder dropped Ortiz three times. More beaten up and hurt than Joshua was by Klitschko, Deontay managed to overcome tremendous adversity, so he should receive the same accolades as Joshua.

Wilder isn’t pretty to watch and he does many things in an amateurish fashion and after fighting 10 years as a pro that’s just who he is. But he has quick hands, he’s awkward and has fight-altering power in his right hand. It can no longer be said Wilder hasn’t fought anybody or that we don’t know about his chin or stamina because now we do. Deontay passed the biggest test of his career and exhibited for all to see that if he fights Anthony Joshua and loses it won’t be because AJ’s heart is bigger or he’s been more tested at the elite level. His showing against Ortiz makes the impending fight with Joshua even more anticipated now because we can say for certain he won’t fold the second he is met with a crisis.

For those hoping to see Wilder look like a sound technician, forget it. He’s an unorthodox long range puncher who has porous defense and balance. But he doesn’t have to be Joe Louis to thrive today; he only has one fighter above him that he needs to beat; Joshua.  Wilder doesn’t have a great chin and he was hurt a few times against Ortiz but he knows how to survive. Actually, he reminds me of Thomas Hearns in that regard. Like Hearns, you can get him in trouble with one punch but you have to hit him a hundred times good to stop him as Hearns proved in his three fights with Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler. The difference is Hearns was a superior boxer and technician with two good hands. However, Hearns fought between 147 and 175 where the track is much faster and more competitive than it is in the heavyweight division. So Wilder doesn’t have to be a heavyweight Hearns to beat Joshua or anyone else in the division.

Granted, Wilder isn’t Sonny Liston, George Foreman or Lennox Lewis, but at the moment at worst he’s the second best heavyweight in the world. Prior to seeing Wilder fight Ortiz, I would’ve picked Joshua to beat him in the ring, in the Octagon or arm wrestling. Yes, I still favor Joshua to beat Wilder if they meet, but now I’m much more open to the possibility of an upset.

The time has come for all to acknowledge that Deontay Wilder isn’t a fraud. He has a huge heart and will to win. Add to that he carries his power throughout the fight and isn’t afraid to let his hands go when the result is on the line. I’d say that qualifies him as being a full-fledged threat to Joshua or any other fighter in the opposite corner.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 76: Welterweights Vergil, Terence and More

David A. Avila

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In the words of many boxing journalists, fighters, trainers and promoters “styles make fights,” and those differences can lead to unpredictable outcomes. The weekend brings a few stylish welterweights on display from California to New York.

Welterweight ingénue Vergil Ortiz Jr. (14-0, 14 KOs) enters the world of unpredictability when he meets Brad Solomon (28-1, 9 KOs) a swift-moving veteran on Friday, Dec. 13, at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif. DAZN will show the loaded Golden Boy Promotions fight card.

It’s Ortiz’s third year as a professional and fifth time performing at the Indio casino. It’s also where he made his pro debut back in July 2016 when he began his remarkable string of 14 consecutive knockout wins.

Solomon, 36, has made a career of fighting pressure fighters and making them miss or defusing their power. Only Russia’s Konstantin Ponomarev, who was trained at the time by Abel Sanchez, was able to hang a loss on the Georgia fighter’s ledger.

Can Ortiz handle the style difference?

“Vergil can do more than people think,” said Vergil Ortiz Sr., father of the lanky welterweight slugger. “He can box any style.”

As a professional, Ortiz has yet to fight someone like Solomon with his juke and move style of fighting. As an amateur he did face speedsters like Ryan Garcia. As a pro, this will mark his first in the prize ring. It should be interesting.

Power Packed Support

Knockout artist Ortiz leads a power packed-boxing card that includes a number of Golden Boy’s best knockout punchers like Bektemir Melikuziev, Alberto Machado and Luis Feliciano. All of these guys can punch and are looking to put the cap on 2019.

That’s a lot of firepower.

But also on the card is someone fighting for 360 Promotions named Serhii Bohachuk, otherwise known as “El Flaco.” Just like Ortiz, Bohachuk has never allowed the final bell to be rung against 16 foes so far. He is going for 17 when he fights Carlos Galvan (17-9-1) in a super welterweight fight set for eight rounds. Don’t expect to hear the final bell whenever the Ukrainian trained by Mexican style coach Abel Sanchez gets in the ring.

Bohachuk could be following in the footsteps of another guy formerly trained by Abel Sanchez named Gennady Golovkin. It’s still too early, but he looks pretty good so far.

New York City

Top welterweight Terence Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) defends the WBO welterweight title against Lithuania’s Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) on Saturday, Dec. 14, at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. ESPN will televise the Top Rank card.

In the crowded and talented world of the welterweights, Crawford could very well be the best of them all. If only he could prove it. The Omaha-Nebraska prizefighter has tried every enticement possible to lure Errol Spence Jr., Danny “Swift” Garcia, Shawn Porter and Manny Pacquiao. Nothing works.

What does work for Crawford has been a reputation as one of the best prizefighters in the world pound for pound. Some tab him as the very best especially when it comes to speed, agility and the ability to innovate on the spot. He has few peers.

Facing Crawford will be Kavaliauskas who trains in Oxnard with a number of Eastern Europeans including Vasyl Lomachenko. They share the same management. He’s never faced anyone close in talent to Crawford. Except, maybe inside of his own gym.

“I’m not focused on no other opponent besides the opponent that’s in front of me. My goal is to make sure I get the victory come this weekend, and that’s the only person I’m focused on now,” said Crawford. “Anyone else is talk. It goes in one ear and out the other. He’s young, hungry and I’m not taking him lightly.”

Crawford has been chasing stardom for a number of years. What better place than New York City’s Madison Square Garden to showcase his skills to the public. At age 32, Crawford is running out of sand.

Lightweight Title Fight

The co-main event on Saturday at Madison Square Garden features IBF lightweight titlist Richard Commey (29-2, 26 KOs) defending against wunderkind Teofimo Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs).

But this weekend truly belongs to the welterweights.

Next Week

Southern California will be packed with boxing. It’s a last gasp before the end of 2019.

Ontario, California will be hosting a very large Premier Boxing Champions fight card at the Toyota Center on Saturday Dec. 21.

WBC super welterweight titlist Tony Harrison finally defends against Jermall Charlo in a rematch and it won’t be friendly. These guys hate each other.

“He’s fake,” said Harrison when they last met in Los Angeles for a press conference.

It won’t be pretty when they meet next week.

Tickets are on sale. Go to this link for more information: https://www.toyota-arena.com/events/detail/premier-boxing-champions

Fights to Watch

Fri. DAZN 4:30 p.m. Vergil Ortiz (14-0) vs Brad Solomon (28-1); Serhii Bohachuk (16-0) vs Carlos Galvan (17-9-1).

Sat. Facebook 5 p.m. Diego De La Hoya (21-1) vs Renson Robles (16-6).

Sat. ESPN 6 p.m. Terence Crawford (35-0) vs Egidijus Kaviliauskas (21-0-1); Teofimo Lopez (14-0) vs Richard Commey (29-2).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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A Toast to Busy Bee Emanuel Navarrete, a Fighter from the Old School

Ted Sares

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In the last 12 months, super bantamweight Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete has fought five times. That’s close to Old School-type activity.

No one in Mexico gave Navarette much notice until he stopped Luis Bedolla Orozco (18-2) in Guadalajara in 2017. He turned more heads when he KO’d Filipino veteran Glenn Porras in January 2018 and fans outside Mexico began to take serious note of this no-nonsense youngster (now just 24) when he stopped Columbia’s “El General” Jose Sanmartin (26-4-1) five months later.

That win, his eighth straight by stoppage, earned him an interim belt and opened the door to a world title shot. It came on Dec. 8, 2018 at Madison Square Garden against undefeated (20-0) WBO world super bantamweight champion Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe.

Navarrete, five inches taller at 5’7”, shocked the hard-punching Brit (by way of Ghana) to win a decision and become the new champion. The scores were 115-113, 116-112, and 116-112, but more to the point, Dogboe’s post-fight face looked like it had gone through the proverbial meat grinder. The tall Mexican had fought tall and picked the much smaller Dogboe apart with precise and pinpoint punching.

The rematch proved that Emanuel’s first win was no fluke as he showed late round power in stopping Dogboe in the 12th. He again used his height advantage, showed great stamina and strength, was accurate with his punches, and once again the too-short Dogboe’s face looked like he was on the wrong end of a big city mugging.

His first title defense came against Francisco De Vaca (20-0) who is a fixture at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix, Arizona. This one lasted three rounds as Vaquero (“cowboy” in English) used a neat uppercut to stun De Vaca in the second and then rendered a terrible beating in the third to end the fight—one that should have been halted earlier by referee Raul Caiz Sr. who seemed far more “brave” than the fighters.

On September 14, 2019, Navarrete used his signature wide left hooks and uppercuts to end matters in the middle of the third round against Juan Miguel Elorde (28-1). Juan Miguel, the grandson of Filipino boxing legend Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, made the mistake of engaging Navarrete in a firefight and lost. This one took place at the T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and boxing fans now knew who this tall super bantamweight was.

In his most recent fight — this one in Mexico — Navarrete put on another display of accurate power punching to stop Francisco Horta (20-3-1) at 2.09 of round 4. After a somewhat typical slow start, Navarrete found his groove and began serious stalking, using looping combinations at strange angles inside and outside, finally catching Horta on the ropes in the fourth, ending matters with stunning closure. It was his 25th straight win dating back to 2012 when he was defeated by one Daniel Argueta by a 4-round decision.

Navarrete, one of seven current Mexican world title-holders, is now looking to unify at 122. He also might be interested in fighting Naoya Inoue if “Monster” moves up in weight, and given Inoue’s recent fight with Nonito Donaire in which he showed that he is human after all, this one could be a sizzler.

As to his chances for “Fighter of the Year,” they are probably slim, but that has nothing to do with whether he deserves it and everything to do with poor public relations. Yes, a solid case can be made for Josh Warrington, but enough with the Canelo, Loma, Usyk types who fight twice a year.

Emanuel Navarrete is more active than any other title-holder or top contender and has a KO percentage of 84% despite the fact that his last five opponents had a combined record of 108-5-1 coming in. And he has a fan-friendly style, stalking, stunning, and closing his opponents with controlled violence. In many respects, he fights like a pre-scandal and prime Antonio Margarito, except he is more technically sound. The fact is, Vaquero, the pride of San Juan Zitlaltepec, is super exciting and doesn’t seem to have any noticeable weaknesses.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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NEWS FLASH: Leon Spinks Hospitalized; Reportedly Fighting for His Life

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The gossip site TMZ is reporting that Leon Spinks is hospitalized in Las Vegas and is fighting for his life. TMZ acquired this information from Spinks’ wife Brenda Glur Spinks after spying her social media post. “It’s been a tough year for us,” she wrote. “Leon has endured a lot of medical problems. I’m reaching to ask that you pray for my Beautiful Husband Leon. So that he may overcome the obstacles that crossed his path.”

Her sentiment was echoed by Leon’s son Leon Spinks III who posted this message on his facebook page: “My Dad isn’t doing so good now and his wife Brenda Glur Spinks and I ask that u pray that he weather’s this storm. My dad is all I have left and I really appreciate it if yall let God know that he is not in this battle alone.”

A gold medal winner at the 1976 Olympics, Spinks, 66, is best remembered for upsetting Muhammad Ali in 1978 to win the world heavyweight title. He lost the title back to Ali in his next fight.

This is a developing story. As new details emerge, we will share them with you.

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