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Three Punch Combo: Wilder-Fury, Barrera-Hamed, Cabrera-Macias and More

Matt Andrzejewski

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After Deontay Wilder stopped Luis Ortiz in round ten this past March, I wrote a story comparing Wilder to Naseem Hamed. The unorthodox manner in which Wilder fights where he makes so many obvious errors inside the ring but yet makes that style effective in part because of his one punch power reminded me of the way Hamed fought during his heyday. Now, Wilder will soon be facing an even bigger test than Ortiz in that of Tyson Fury. In continuing with the Hamed comparison, I am wondering if Fury can do to Wilder what Marco Antonio Barrera did to Hamed.

When Hamed fought Barrera in 2001, Hamed had just as many critics as Wilder does today. Experts were convinced that at some point Hamed would pay for all the mistakes he made in the ring. He did so many things fundamentally wrong like lunging forward with his hands down with his chin exposed or pulling straight back with his chin high in the air. Most who followed boxing figured eventually he’d run into someone skilled enough to expose those mistakes.

However, that opponent was not thought to be Barrera. Remember, Barrera had been beaten twice by Junior Jones a few years earlier and since then, with the exception of Erik Morales, had not fought a high level of opposition. As a matter of fact, a few months prior to facing Hamed, Barrera struggled mightily against an obscure opponent named Jose Luis Valbuena. Many people who watched that fight thought Barrera was fortunate to get the decision. Ironically, that poor performance helped Barrera land the fight with Hamed.

As we know, the rest is history. Barrera took the fight to Hamed from the opening bell and for the most part dominated the action. It took an elite level fighter to do so, but ultimately the many flaws of Hamed were exposed.

So this brings me to Fury-Wilder. Obviously, Fury and Barrera are stylistically two entirely different fighters. Fury relies on movement, ring skill and defensive prowess. He is not easy to hit clean. Often times, he frustrates his opponents into making mistakes and then quickly counters before either tying up or retreating out of harm’s way.

Fury gets this opportunity with Wilder in part because Wilder’s team feels Fury is vulnerable. And why wouldn’t they? After his signature win over Wladimir Klitschko, Fury was out of the ring for over two years and dealt with a myriad of issues. In his two comeback fights since the layoff, Fury has shown some of the old skills that made him champion but it is hard to decipher what he has left in the tank due to the level of opposition he faced.

However, based on his past, Fury does have the skill to expose Wilder who makes a ton of mistakes and can get easily frustrated. Remember him swinging wildly and missing often against Gerald Washington all the while being out-boxed for four rounds? Of course, Wilder rescued that fight with his power, knocking Washington out in round five. But Fury does have the defensive ability to make Wilder miss all night.

It is going to take a very skilled upper level fighter to defeat Deontay Wilder just as it once did to defeat Naseem Hamed. Wilder’s unorthodox style and his power make him a difficult matchup for most heavyweights. But at some point Wilder will be exposed much like Hamed was at the highest level and for my money I think that will happen when he steps in the ring with Tyson Fury.

Another USA Tuesday Night Fights Memory

In my last column, I alluded to this month being the 20 year anniversary of the end of the long run of the popular USA Tuesday Night Fights series.  Reminiscing about the series that provided so many great memories for fight fans, I looked back on the 1997 welterweight slugfest between Derrell Coley and Kip Diggs. A few months after that memorable fight, another unforgettable slugfest took place, this time at the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia between heavyweights Courage Tshabalala (20-1, 17 KO’s) and Darroll Wilson (18-1-2, 12 KO’s).

On paper, this fight had the potential for fireworks. Both fighters liked to mix it up and both had shown a questionable set of whiskers. Tshabalala was considered a top heavyweight prospect but was entering the ring coming off a recent stunning knockout loss to journeyman Brian Scott. Wilson was best known for his shocking upset win against Shannon Briggs but was coming in off a recent early knockout loss to David Tua. Both Tshabalala and Wilson had a lot on the line in what was a classic Tuesday Night Fights crossroads tilt.

Thirty seconds into the fight, Tshabalala dropped Wilson with a stiff left jab. Tshabalala would dominate Wilson for the remainder of the round with power shots. Near the end of the stanza, he rocked Wilson with a left hook to the jaw.

The next two rounds were also controlled by Tshabalala. His power shots were seemingly taking a toll on Wilson who was fighting primarily going backwards. Near the end of the third, a thunderous overhand right put Wilson on the canvas. Wilson tried to get up but fell backward. With referee Rudy Battle beginning to waive the fight off, Wilson got to his feet and Battle signalled the timekeeper to ring the bell to end the round.

Lou Duva, one of Tshabalala’s cornermen, tore into Battle between rounds, screaming that Battle had signified initially that the fight had ended. But the fight would continue despite Duva’s pleas.

Wilson was still on shaky legs when round four began as Tshabalala came out looking to end the fight. Though Tshabalala landed some good shots, Wilson seemed to be regaining his legs as seconds ticked by and then started landing some big counters of his own. A slugfest was now underway with both launching big shots at one another. With the crowd in a frenzy, Wilson turned the tide, landing sharper harder punches and now hurting Tshabalala. With under a minute to go in the round, a fusillade of clean power shots from Wilson put Tshabalala on the canvas. Tshabalala wasn’t able to beat the count, giving Wilson an improbable come-from-behind win in a forgotten Tuesday Night Fights classic.

Under The Radar Fight

The Golden Boy on Facebook series continues next Saturday with a card headlined by rising 130-pound star prospect Ryan Garcia (15-0, 13 KO’s) taking a step up in class facing Carlos Morales (17-2-3. 6 KO’s). While the development of Garcia piques my interest, it is the co-feature between undefeated 154-pound prospects Marvin Cabrera (8-0, 6 KO’s) and Neeco Macias (16-0, 9 KO’s) that I think steals the show.

Cabrera and Macias are both southpaws but by no means would either be considered a “cutie.” Instead, both are very aggressive. Given their respective styles, we should see plenty of action.

Cabrera is the more polished fighter of the two. He is also the bigger puncher. He will press forward behind the right jab and look to get in range to work combinations to the head and body of Macias. Cabrera is a very good body puncher but does leave his chin exposed when he throws downstairs.

Macias is a volume puncher who is going to look to outwork Cabrera. Macias will throw a lot of punches per round and from all sorts of angles. However, by doing so, he often leaves many openings for his opposition to counter.

In Cabrera and Macias, we have two aggressive offensive-minded fighters who on paper are evenly matched. They each also have some major defensive holes in their respective games. I expect we see an all-out brawl in what should be a very entertaining fight.

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Pico Rivera Summer Fights See Cruz, Vega and Flores Win

David A. Avila

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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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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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