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Three Punch Combo: Digging Deeper Into the Alvarez-Kovalev Upset and More

Matt Andrzejewski

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studying economics

THREE PUNCH COMBO — My background is in economics. When studying economics, we often look to the past to attempt to predict future outcomes. For example, when the last recession occurred we compile what the data said prior to the start of that recession and look for future similarities to predict when the economy may be headed toward another downturn. This is all done after the fact with the goal being to use what we learned to hopefully better predict and maybe even prevent future economic downturns.

Well those principles of economics can also be used in boxing. Specifically, when upsets occur there are often mitigating factors. Such is the case when explaining why Eleider Alvarez was able to pull off a pretty shocking upset last week when he stopped Sergey Kovalev in round seven of their light heavyweight title fight.

Looking back at the resume of Alvarez leading into the fight, one can see that he was prepared for the moment. Some of this preparedness was by accident (more on this in a moment) and some by design. But regardless, Alvarez was more than ready for his moment under the bright lights.

Many resumes of fighters that are climbing the ladder contain soft opposition meant to pad their record. These fights do nothing in terms of developing the fighter. Yes, Alvarez does have some of these type opponents on his resume. But by and large he fine-tuned his craft by facing quality opponents.

In his ninth professional fight, Alvarez faced 23-1-1 Shawn Hawk in a fight scheduled for twelve rounds. Alvarez, who had not been past the sixth round as a pro, won a decision going the full twelve at this very early stage in his career. A year later, Alvarez faced the always tough Edison Miranda and defeated Miranda by decision.

More quality opponents followed and Alvarez kept grinding out wins. Then in November of 2015, Alvarez faced tricky veteran Isaac Chilemba. Alvarez found Chilemba a tough foe but in the end prevailed via a twelve round majority decision. Though not his best performance, this fight proved to be a great learning experience. The win also put Alvarez in position as the mandatory challenger for WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson.

Despite Alvarez’s mandatory status, Stevenson was able to slip out of ever getting in the ring with him. Instead, Alvarez received a few bucks for agreeing to not pursue the mandatory and had a few other fights to help build him toward something bigger. He faced and defeated former world champions Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal during this time frame. These valuable experiences sort of happened by accident due to the Stevenson situation but further prepared Alvarez for that moment when the big name would finally get in the ring with him.

That big name, of course, was Kovalev and we know what happened. Alvarez was more than prepared for this moment due to not being spoon-fed weak opponents in the first 23 fights of his career. He faced all different types of fighters and styles. He did not always look great but always learned and grew as a fighter. In looking backward, as I often do when studying the economy, the reasons for Alvarez winning now seem very apparent. It’s a lesson from which others can learn.

USA Tuesday Night Fights

This August marks the 20th anniversary of the final airing of the long running weekly boxing series on USA Network titled USA Tuesday Night Fights. The series ran for nearly 16 years and was really boxing’s last consistent weekly television series (as a note, ESPN’s Friday Night Fights Series often went dormant from September to December due to college football).

The series helped develop some of boxing’s biggest stars of the 80’s and 90’s as well as provide many memorable moments. The welterweight contest between Derrell Coley (29-1-2, 21 KO’s) and Kip Diggs (27-2, 19 KO’s) in March of 1997 produced my personal favorite memory from the series.

Derrell Coley vs. Kip Diggs:    03/25/1997

This fight, slated for twelve rounds for the vacant NABF welterweight belt, was a shoot-out from the opening bell. In the first couple of rounds, Coley and Diggs exchanged big shots with each hurting the other on a few occasions. Diggs dropped Coley in the third round with a right down the middle followed by a left hook. Coley had to be helped to his corner at the end of the round but came back firing in the fourth, wobbling Diggs. But Diggs would quickly respond, putting Coley down in round five and then again in round seven with a left hook that put Coley flat on his back.

Coley appeared ready to go in round eight but somehow managed to stage a rally to get back in the fight. The two exchanged big shots again in rounds nine and ten with momentum swinging back and forth.

Toward the end of round ten, a blistering uppercut from Coley put Diggs on the canvas. Diggs was visibly hurt but made it to his feet and to the bell. Coley jumped on Diggs immediately to open round eleven and an overhand right followed by another flush right sent Diggs sprawling to the canvas. Diggs was out and referee Marty Denkin wisely waived an end to the contest.

It was a dramatic win for Coley in a fight that seemingly flipped back and forth in momentum on dozens of occasions. It is a forgotten classic and in my opinion the best fight from the 16-year run of the Tuesday Night Fight series on the old USA network.

Under The Radar Fight

For those of us in the United States that still have time left on their KlowdTV subscription from the Usyk-Gassiev event last month, there will be another international card available on that platform this coming Sunday. This card takes place in Russia and is headlined by a 130-pound contest between Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (12-0, 9 KO’s) and Robinson Castellanos (24-13, 14 KO’s).

Rakhimov, 23, is an aggressive southpaw who likes to work behind the right jab and use that punch to close the distance on his opposition. Once inside, Rakhimov is a very good body puncher and he will look to work both sides of his opponent’s ribcage. From the video I have seen, his best punch is the straight left though he can be described as more of a heavy handed type fighter than a one punch knockout type guy. Though he usually carries a high guard, Rakhimov has shown some defensive vulnerability.

Castellanos may have the most deceiving record in boxing. At first glance, he appears to be a journeyman type opponent brought in to pad Rakhimov’s record. But Castellanos is no journeyman. He has scored his share of upsets in recent years including handing Ronny Rios his first defeat and stunning one time Cuban amateur star Yuriorkis Gamboa.

Castellanos is a tricky guy to fight as he will throw lots of punches and from all sorts of angles. He will jump in and out, giving opponents all sorts of different looks. He has perfected his awkward style in recent years and given plenty of world class opponents plenty of fits.

I see this fight as an absolute toss-up. Rakhimov is going to see plenty of openings with Castellanos and with his aggressive nature will probably be more than willing to open up. But that may play right into the hands of his Mexican opponent. Castellanos has a good overhand right and I think he lands the punch with frequency. These two are going to land often on each other and I think we are going to get a nice competitive scrap.

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Pico Rivera Summer Fights See Cruz, Vega and Flores Win

David A. Avila

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Pico-Rivera-Summer-Fights-See-Cruz-Vega-and-Flores Win

PICO RIVERA, Ca.-Along the San Gabriel River on a soft summer evening, Red Boxing Promotions brought another slew of hot local prospects to the forefront on Saturday.

Chino’s Daniel “Cuetito” Cruz (3-0) burst into the fight like an energy bomb and simply overwhelmed southpaw Phillip Bounds (0-4) with lightning combinations to win by unanimous decision. More than 700 fans saw the Red Boxing fight card.

Though it was only his third pro fight, the high intensity prizefighter Cruz (pictured on the left) exhibited a level of confidence that allowed him to attack with impunity for the first two rounds.

Cruz switched to southpaw and had even more success against the lefty Bounds. The speed of Cruz proved too much to overcome for Bounds who tried different approaches but couldn’t find an antidote for Cruz who won by unanimous decision 40-36 on all three cards in the super lightweight match.

“I’m excited, I wanted to put on a good show,” said Cruz, 20. “I’m coming for all of the big names. Cuetito is here.”

Andre Marquez (2-1) overwhelmed the much taller Alvin Brown (0-8) from Louisiana with a whirlwind style that ended in a knockout in the fourth and final round of their super featherweight match. A left hook caught Brown flush and Marquez followed up with four more blows, forcing Brown to take a knee at 1:41 of the fourth round. Marquez was ruled the winner by knockout by referee Sharon Sands.

“My plan was to work his body,” said Marquez. “It worked out perfectly.”

Welterweights Bradley Pena (0-0-1) and Ed Nunez (0-0-1) blasted each other for four rounds, with Pena starting fast and Nunez ending strong. No knockdowns were scored in the fight that started the night and ended in a draw.

Main Bouts

A light flyweight clash saw Axel Vega (13-2-1, 8 KOs) of Ensenada, Mexico knock out Tijuana’s Giovanni Noriega (2-5-2) with a triple left hook in the second round. Vega, 19, trained out of Compton for this fight.

Welterweight prospect Steven Rodriguez (8-0) suffered a cut on his forehead due to a clash of heads but still managed to out-perform Las Vegas fighter Ryan Picou (3-12-1) after four rounds. All three judges scored the fight 40-36 in favor of Rodriguez. But Picou gave a stubborn defense against the constant rushes of Rodriguez and was able to score on occasion.

Santa Barbara’s Angel Flores (6-0, 4 KOs) defeated Mexico’s Roberto Almazan (9-12) by unanimous decision after six rounds in a super lightweight contest. Flores knocked down Almazan twice in the last round to clinch the win and get the victory by a landslide.

In the audience was former world champion Arturo Frias of East Los Angeles who won the WBA world lightweight title in 1982 and fought numerous times at LA’s  fabled Olympic Auditorium. Also in attendance was current super flyweight contender Adelaida “La Cobra” Ruiz of Los Angeles who is scheduled to fight on October 12 at the same Pico Rivera Sports Arena. Red Boxing Promotions will be staging the event.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Fast Results from Russia: Kovalev KOs Yarde in the 11th

Arne K. Lang

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Fast-Results-from-Russia-Kovalev-KOs-Yarde-in-the-11th

The consensus of opinion regarding tonight’s fight at Chelyabinsk between Sergey Kovalev and Anthony Yarde was that….well, there was no consensus, save that it would not bode well for Yarde if both fighters were still standing at the final bell. Fighting in his hometown, and with a monster payday reportedly looming against Canelo Alvarez should he win, “Krusher” was unlikely to get the worst of it if the fight went to the scorecards. But there would be no controversial decision. In a fight that started slowly and then shifted Yarde’s way, Kovalev stemmed the momentum, took charge in the 10th, and then closed the show in the next round with a scorching left hand that left Yarde flat on his back, gasping for air.

In handicapping the fight, Kovalev certainly had more check marks in the plus column. A former three belt champion and the reigning WBO 175-pound title-holder, Kovalev would be appearing in his 16th world title fight, his second with Hall of Fame trainer Buddy McGirt, with whom he had great rapport. By contrast, Yarde, although undefeated (18-0), had answered the bell for only 51 rounds and had defeated only nine fighters with winning records. Moreover, the Englishman had fought only 12 amateur fights before turning pro.

However, at age 36, Kovalev was getting long in the tooth and in some of his more recent fights he had stamina issues. Moreover, there was a school of thought that Yarde was a beast. In his 30 fights, amateur and pro, he had scored 28 knockouts.

Yarde’s first good round was the seventh and he followed that up with a very strong eighth in which he hurt Kovalev and had the Krusher looking tired. But the assumption that he had paced himself brilliantly proved to be a mirage. As the bout moved into the home stretch, it was the younger man that was more fatigued.

Kovalev backed Yarde against the ropes and hurt him in the 10th. The Russian repeatedly had success with his hard left jab (shades of Larry Holmes) and it was a jab that ended it. Yarde was too exhausted to make it to his feet and was counted out.

Kovalev reportedly has already agreed to meet Canelo in November or December. Tonight he may have added an extra zero to his purse.

Kovalev vs. Canelo, likely at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, will be a blockbuster. Let the hype begin.

Co-Feature

The co-feature between knockout artists Aleksei Papin and Ilunga Makabu wasn’t expected to last the distance, but it went the full 12 and was a highly entertaining affair climaxed by a great 12th round. When the smoke cleared, Ilunga, who went to post a slight favorite, improved to 26-2 (24) by dint of winning a majority decision. It was the second straight win on Russian soil for the Congolese southpaw who fights out of Johannesburg. In his previous go, he stopped Dmitry Kudryashov in the fifth round at Ekaterinburg.

Papin was 11-0 going in with 10 knockouts but the 31-year-old Russian, a former kickboxing champion, was moving up in class against Makabu, a former world title challenger. In the 12th, Makabu scored a knockdown with a straight left after buzzing Papin with a left-right combination, but Papin wasn’t badly hurt and came back to rock him in the final seconds. The knockdown seemingly spelled the difference as two judges had it 115-113 with the third scoring it even (113-113).

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Tanaka and Hatanaka Stay Undefeated in Nagoya

Arne K. Lang

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Kiyoshi Hatanaka, the former world super bantamweight champion, now runs a boxing gym and promotes fights in his hometown of Nagoya. The top fighters in his gym are 24-year-old Kosei Tanaka, who has already won world titles in three weight classes, and Kento Hatanaka, Kyoshi’s 21-year-old son. Both were in action today and both were victorious, but not without anxious moments.

Tanaka, the reigning WBO 112-pound champion, improved to 14-0 (8 KOs) with a seventh-round TKO of Jonathan Gonzalez (22-3-1) in an action-packed bout. There were five knockdowns in all, four by Tanaka, before the referee waved it off with merely a second remaining in the seventh stanza.

Gonzalez took a knee after being hurt by a body punch in round three. But he returned the favor, knocking Tanaka down with a counterpunch in the next stanza, and seemingly had the fight in hand when he dominated the fifth. But Tanaka regained the momentum and scored three knockdowns in Round 7 to close the show.

Kosei Tanaka is overshadowed as a sports personality by countryman Naoya “Monster” Inoue, but is carving out quite a legacy. At age 19, in only his fifth pro fight, he defeated WBO minimumweight (105 pound) champion Julian Yadras of Mexico. He then gathered in titles at 108 and 112, accomplishing the hat trick in only his 12th pro fight, tying Vasiliy Lomachenko’s record.

With only a few pounds separating each of the lowest weight classes, Tanaka likely isn’t done jumping up in weight. There’s already talk of a showdown with 115-pound title-holder Kazuto Ioka. But Tanaka has indicated that he wants to expand his opportunities overseas, following the example of Inoue. There are still holes in his defense, but that makes for exciting fights and a match between him and someone like “Chocolatito” Gonzalez would be worth the price of admission.

Jonathan Gonzalez, a southpaw with a good amateur pedigree, had fought his previous three fights in Kissimmee, Florida. When in his native Puerto Rico, he trains in the same gym as former super bantamweight and featherweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez. We certainly haven’t seen the last of him.

The 10-round co-feature between super flyweights Kento Hatanaka and Jaysever Abcede was also a crowd pleaser that saw both combatants score knockdowns. Hatanaka improved to 10-0 but was extended the distance for the first time in his pro career. Abcede, a noted spoiler from the Philippines, saw his winning streak end at four and fell to 19-9. The scores were 95-93, 96-93, and 96-92.

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