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Winning by Knockout Is the Ultimate Deodorant For a Fighter

If you want to erase the perception of you as a fighter just win your last fight by stoppage. Conversely, if you want your perception as a killer to be diminished, go the distance

Frank Lotierzo

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If you want to erase the perception of you as a fighter just win your last fight by stoppage. Conversely, if you want your perception as a killer to be diminished, go the distance after compiling a long KO streak. In the NFL there’s a saying among head coaches – it goes something like “we’re not as good as we looked during our best game and we’re not as bad as we looked during our worst game.”

Last month heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte 23-1 (17) fought Lucas Browne 25-1 (22) for something called the WBC Silver heavyweight title. In Whyte’s last bout before facing Browne, he looked pedestrian winning a 12-round unanimous decision over Robert Helenius. As for Browne, he built his career feasting on journeymen and has-beens and had never faced an upper tier contender, let alone beat one.

For five rounds Whyte out-thought and out-fought Browne at every turn. There’s a strong case to be made the fight could’ve been halted early in the sixth round but it wasn’t and Whyte went on to score a brutal knockout with a picture perfect left hook, leaving Browne out cold, face down on the canvas. After destroying Browne, Whyte is no longer best remembered for losing to Anthony Joshua. The loss will never be erased from his record but his career trajectory has been completely reversed.

Since destroying Browne in the manner in which he did, suddenly Whyte is the most dangerous fighter in the division in the eyes of some and is considered a legit threat to both WBA/IBF/WBO champ Anthony Joshua and WBC champ Deontay Wilder. The fact that Joshua has already dominated and stopped Whyte doesn’t matter. And pertaining to Wilder, there are more than a few who believe Whyte would be too risky for Deontay to fight before meeting Joshua, something that wouldn’t have been said in jest the day after Whyte fought Helenius. It’s amazing what a strong deodorant an impressive knockout can be. Maybe it’s me, but I think Wilder would knock Whyte out after looking like an amateur for maybe the first three or four rounds.

Speaking of Wilder, on March 3rd Deontay defended his title against the best opponent he’d ever fought, Luis Ortiz. During the first four rounds Ortiz backed him up, out-boxed and even out-punched Wilder. Late in the fifth round Wilder scored a knockdown after losing three quarters of the round. Ortiz then makes a comeback in the sixth and then has Wilder nearly out and stumbling all over the ring as the seventh round ends. After a delayed start, Wilder stabilizes the fight in the eighth and has a good ninth before dropping a tiring Ortiz twice and finishing him in the 10th. 

Since he knocked out Ortiz, Wilder is now seen as a more complete fighter and some even see him as the favorite if he were to meet Joshua next. And that’s mostly due to the fact that Wilder ended the fight with Ortiz in a very convincing manner. The sensational knockout once again is a deodorant to how clumsy, amateurish, and hittable Wilder appeared before scoring the knockout. Forget about how the judges had Wilder ahead by a point going into the last round – the reality is Ortiz beat him up and bettered him in six of the nine completed rounds. Granted, all that matters is who won and Wilder’s power bailed him out again, but the point is that he was bettered by Ortiz and was seconds away from losing which is glossed over and dismissed because of the knockout he scored.

On March 31st Anthony Joshua suffered the opposite fate of Whyte and Wilder. AJ, who had knocked out every one of his previous 20 opponents, was forced to go the distance by Joseph Parker. During the course of the 12 rounds, Joshua was never hurt or shook or even out-fought for a minute. The problem was that in dictating the ring geography of the fight with his jab, which was enough to prevent Parker from trying to assert himself, AJ didn’t beat up or work over Parker. What Joshua did was take what Parker gave him and never really dared to attempt to win the fight in his typical signature fashion.

The fact that Joshua didn’t destroy Parker has altered the way he’s viewed now, at least to some who didn’t feel that way before the fight. The lasting image of Joshua off the Parker fight is one of a fighter who was too risk-averse, yet when Floyd Mayweather conducted his entire career that way it was seen as brilliance. Maybe so, but heavyweights don’t get that break.

Imagine if Whyte had been forced to go the distance with Browne; would he still be seen as a threat to Deontay Wilder?

What if Wilder didn’t lose a minute against Ortiz but was forced to go the distance? Would he be praised for fighting smart and rarely getting hit or would he be excoriated for not getting the knockout?

What if Joshua came back from the brink of defeat versus Parker and knocked him out? What would the conversation be today? Would fans and observers be discussing how Joshua was nearly KO’d?

I don’t know the answer, but what I do know is winning by virtue of an impressive knockout deodorizes all the negative that happened to the winner before he finally won it. On the other hand, if you’re perceived as a knockout artist and are forced to go the distance, some will say that you don’t have it anymore.

Knockouts are great eye candy but cause many to overreact. The morning after Mike Tyson went the distance against James “Quick” Tillis, the consensus was that he would’ve been schooled by Larry Holmes. The morning after he knocked out Michael Spinks, some believed he would’ve done the same to Muhammad Ali.

If Wilder is forced to go the distance in his next fight the way he was by Bermane Stiverne the first time they fought, the thought will be that Joshua will kill him when they meet. And if Joshua scores an impressive KO in his next fight, the conversation in most boxing circles will be – he was always better than Wilder!

Winning by impressive knockout is the perfect deodorant for how a fighter is perceived by others because most see what they want to see!

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Berchelt TKOs Valenzuela in Mexico City

David A. Avila

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Mexico’s Miguel Berchelt hammered his way to a decisive knockout victory over fellow Mexican Eleazar Valenzuela in a non-title light fight on Saturday.

After nearly nine months off, WBC super featherweight titlist Berchelt (38-1, 34 KOs) unraveled a withering body attack including numerous low blows but Valenzuela remained upright in front of a sparse TV studio audience until he could take it no longer.

Berchelt used a seven-punch combination to knock the senses out of the very tough Valenzuela who hails from Sinaloa. The referee saw enough and stopped the fight with Valenzuela leaning against the ropes with a dazed look.

The champion from Cancun used a triple left hook in the first round to floor Valenzuela and it looked like the fight would not last more than two rounds. But Valenzuela, a sturdy veteran, bored into Berchelt to keep him off balance and was able to stop the momentum.

It did not last.

A vicious attack to the body sapped the energy from Valenzuela who has fought many elite fighters in the past, but none like Berchelt. He was able to batter the veteran round after round.

Valenzuela sought to reverse the momentum with some combinations of his own. Berchelt opened up with some combinations from the outside and cracked his foe with some skull-numbing blows that clearly affected Valenzuela’s senses. The referee wisely stopped the fight at 1:03 of the sixth round to give the win to Berchelt by knockout.

The victory opens the door to a potential clash with featherweight world titlist Oscar Valdez of Nogales, Mexico who has a fight of his own planned next month. Both champions are promoted by Top Rank.

Other Bouts       

Omar Aguilar (18-0, 17 KOs) bushwacked veteran Dante Jardon (32-7, 23 KOs) within a minute of the first round to win by technical knockout. A barrage of blows by Ensenada’s Aguilar opened up the fight and a four-punch combination forced the referee to stop the super lightweight fight with Mexico City’s Jardon against the ropes.

A battle between super bantamweights saw the taller Alan Picasso (14-1) out-hustle Florentino Perez (14-6-2) in an eight round clash between Mexican fighters. Mexico City’s Picasso fought effectively inside against the shorter Perez of Monterrey and was able to maintain a consistent pace. Neither fighter approved the use of a jab but Picasso was more effective inside with body shots and uppercuts and dominated the last half of the fight.  The six judges scored in favor of Picasso.

The WBC instituted the extra judges as a means of tabulating score cards efficiently. Three judges scored from the television studios and another three judges scored from the USA. It was the second time WBC judges officiated remotely and all six scorecards were official.

Photo credit: Zanfer Promotions

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Big Baby Miller, Roberto Duran and More

Arne K. Lang

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Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller just can’t keep his hands out of the cookie jar. It was announced today (Saturday, June 27) that the jumbo-sized heavyweight from Brooklyn tested positive for a banned substance, forcing him out of a July 9 fight at the MGM Grand “Bubble” against Jerry Forrest. The story was broken by Mike Coppinger of The Athletic who breaks more hard news stories than any other boxing writer.

Miller, needless to say is a repeat offender. He failed three different PED tests in a span of three days for three different banned substances leading into his planned June 2019 match at Madison Square Garden with WBA/IBF/WBO world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. That cost him the fight and a reported $5 million-plus payday. Andy Ruiz filled the void and scored an historic upset.

When the first test came back positive, Miller wailed that he was the victim of a faulty test. “My team and I stand for integrity, decency and honesty and will fight this with everything we have,” he said in a prepared statement. He later changed his tune. “I messed up,” he said.

In a story that appeared on these pages, Thomas Hauser noted that Big Baby had a history of PED use dating to 2014. In that year, he was slapped with a nine-month suspension by the California Athletic Commission following a kickboxing event in Los Angeles.

Counting this latest revelation, it’s five strikes for Big Baby. He’s taking quite a roasting right now on social media. Some of the harshest criticism is coming from his fellow boxers.

Assuming that Top Rank can’t find a replacement for Miller, this is another tough break for Jerry Forrest, a 32-year-old southpaw from Virginia with a 26-3 (20) record. Forrest was scheduled to fight hot prospect Filip Hrgovic on April 17 on a card at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, a show swept away by the coronavirus outbreak. Forrest has been matched very soft throughout his career, but he acquitted himself well in his lone previous TV appearance, losing a split decision to undefeated Jermaine Franklin on “Showtime: The New Generation.” The decision was controversial.

There’s talk now that Carlos Takam is angling to replace Big Baby. The French-Cameroonian, a former world title challenger who turns 40 in December, was billed out of Henderson, Nevada, in his last ring appearance that saw him winning a unanimous decision over fellow greybeard Fabio Maldonado in Huntington, NY.

—-

When it comes to Murphy’s Law (“anything that can go wrong, will”), there’s no sport quite like boxing. Just ask Bob Arum. The most mouth-watering matchup in his ESPN “summer series” fell out this week when Eleider Alvarez suffered a shoulder injury in training, forcing a postponement of his July 16 date with Joe Smith Jr. The match between Alvarez (25-1, 13 KOs) and Smith (25-3, 20 KOs) would have been a 12-rounder with the winner guaranteed a shot at the vacant WBO light heavyweight title, a diadem that Alvarez previously owned.

Joe Smith Jr, a Long Island construction worker once dismissed as nothing more than a club fighter, won legions of new fans in his last start, a one-sided (to everyone except one myopic judge) win over Jesse Hart in Atlantic City.

Cancelled matches have become a recurrent theme in ESPN’s semi-weekly boxing series. The very first card in the series lost what shaped up as its most competitive fight when Mikaela Mayer tested positive for COVID-19, scuttling her bout with Helen Joseph. In subsequent weeks, the manager of Mikkel Les Pierre tested positive for COVID-19 as did WBO junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring. Those bad test results forced the postponement of two main events. Then earlier this week, hot lightweight prospect Joseph Adorno was lopped off Tuesday’s card after feeling sick after coming in overweight at the previous day’s weigh-in.

The undercards of the Tuesday/Thursday ESPN fights have left something to be desired, but that’s understandable. As Bob Arum noted in a conversation with veteran boxing scribe Keith Idec, Top Rank’s matchmakers Bruce Trampler and Brad “Abdul” Goodman have had a hard time fleshing out the cards because with so many gyms closed there’s a shortage of boxers who are in shape to fight on short notice. Then there are the COVID-19 travel restrictions and (something Arum did not acknowledge) budgetary restrictions more severe than an ordinary Top Rank card. Most of the undercard fighters have come from neighboring states such as Utah, saving Top Rank the cost of air fare. Fighters from faraway places, with some exceptions, were already training in Las Vegas.

Kudos to the entire Top Rank staff for keeping boxing alive during these challenging times.

It’s old news now, but Panamanian boxing legend Roberto Duran, 69, tested positive for the coronavirus and was hospitalized in Panama City with a viral infection. There’s been no update on his condition but his son Robin Duran wrote on Instagram that his father is not having any symptoms beyond those associated with a common cold. We will update you when new details become available.

Duran’s hospitalization came just a few days after the 40th anniversary of his first fight with Sugar Ray Leonard in what would say was Duran’s finest hour. They met on June 20, 1980 at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

Duran won a unanimous decision. Converting the “10-point must” system into rounds, Duran prevailed by scores of 3-2-10, 6-5-4, and 6-4-5. As Yogi would have said, you could look it up.

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Fast Results from the Bubble: Jason Moloney TKOs Baez

Arne K. Lang

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Top Rank was back inside the MGM Grand “Bubble” tonight for chapter six of their semi-weekly ESPN summer series. Jason Moloney, one-half of Australia’s Moloney twins, accomplished what his brother Andrew Moloney was unable to accomplish in this ring on Tuesday night, adding a “W” to his ledger and looking good doing it. It came at the expense of Mexicali’s Leonardo Baez.

It was Jason Moloney’s second start on U.S. soil after coming up just a tad short in a bid for the vacant IBF world bantamweight title at Orlando in October of 2018. Against Baez, he fought a smart tactical fight, blunting the Mexican’s superior reach by fighting him at close quarters. Baez fought from the third round on with a cut over his right eye and then suffered a cut over his left eye in the seventh round. By then the fight was becoming increasingly one-sided and Baez’s corner did not let him come out for round eight.

Jason Moloney improved to 21-1 with his 18th knockout. Leonardo Baez, who took the fight on short notice after Maloney’s original opponent Oscar Negrete was forced to withdraw with a detached retina, slumped to 18-3.

Co-Feature

In the 10-round co-feature, Abraham Nova advanced to 19-0 with a unanimous decision over Philadelphia’s Avery Sparrow but won no new fans with a lackadaisical performance. Nova, born in Puerto Rico to parents from the Dominican Republic and raised in Albany, NY, showed little but his jab through the first seven rounds until hurting Sparrow with a big right hand in the eighth. The judges had it 96-94, 97-93, and 99-91.

Sparrow (10-2), whose lone previous loss was by disqualification, was making his first start in 15 months. He was slated to fight Ryan Garcia in Los Angeles last Sept. 14 but never made it to the weigh-in after being arrested by U.S. marshals on a charge of threatening a woman with a gun after she threw his clothes out the window…

Other Bouts

In an 8-round featherweight contest, Puerto Rican southpaw Orlando Gonzalez advanced to 15-0 with a unanimous decision over Ecuador’s Luis Porozo (15-3). The scores were 76-74 and 77-73 twice.

Gonzalez wasn’t particularly impressive although he did score two knockdowns. He decked Porozo near the end of round two with a left hook following a straight left and decked him again near the end of round seven with a left uppercut to the body.

In a rather ho-hum fight, welterweight Vlad Panin improved to 8-1 with 6-round majority decision over San Antonio’s 36-year-old Benjamin Whitaker (13-4). Panin, a Belarusian who grew up in Las Vegas and earned a BA in English from UCLA, has a good back story but seemingly a limited upside in the fight game.

In an entertaining 6-round welterweight clash, Filipino campaigner Reymond Yanon improved to 11-5-1 with a split decision (59-55, 58-56, 56-58) over Clay Burns. A 33-year-old ex-Marine from Fort Worth, Burns declined to 9-8-2.

The opener, a heavyweight bout slated for six rounds, matched two Phoenix-based fighters in a rematch. Kingsley Ibeh, a former standout defensive lineman for the Washburn College Ichabods, avenged his lone defeat and improved to 4-1 with a fourth-round stoppage of Waldo Cortes (5-3). Ibeh, who at 286 had a 39-pound weight advantage, softened Cortes up with a series of uppercuts and Cortes was on his way down when he was tagged with a glancing left hand. He got to his feet, but referee Vic Drakulich waived it off. The official time was 1:41.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

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