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1,501 Tests, One Reported Positive? What’s Going On with USADA and Boxing?

On October 18, 2012, Halestorm Sports reported that Erik Morales had tested positive with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for clenbuterol

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By THOMAS HAUSER — On October 18, 2012, Halestorm Sports (a small website that no longer exists) reported that Erik Morales had tested positive with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for clenbuterol, a banned substance. Morales was scheduled to fight Danny Garcia at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on October 20. More significantly, it was later confirmed by the New York State Athletic Commission that USADA hadn’t reported the violation to the NYSAC until after the internet disclosure.

USADA has been testing professional boxers for performance enhancing drugs since 2010. Its website states that it has administered 1,501 tests on 128 professional boxers through August 22 of this year. Yet it appears as though, in all these years, USADA has reported only one adverse finding regarding a professional boxer (its belated report of Morales to the NYSAC) to a governing state athletic commission.

Is it possible that USADA has administered 1,501 tests to 128 professional boxers and that only one of these tests has come back positive? Yes. It’s also possible that a giant asteroid will obliterate life as we know it on earth tomorrow. But it’s statistically implausible and highly unlikely.

In the past, I’ve written extensively about USADA’s involvement with professional boxing. Most notably, in a 2015 article entitled “Can Boxing Trust USADA?”, I explored how the agency handled the intravenous administration of what was said to be a mixture of saline and vitamins to Floyd Mayweather hours after Mayweather weighed in for his May 2, 2015, fight against Manny Pacquiao. As outlined in this article, the evidence strongly supports the conclusion that USADA’s actions with regard to Mayweather’s IV violated both Nevada State Athletic Commission protocols and the World Anti-Doping Code. The article can be found at:

https://www.sbnation.com/longform/2015/9/9/9271811/can-boxing-trust-usada

USADA responded to these allegations with a lengthy media release:

https://usada.org/wp-content/uploads/USADAs-Detailed-Correction-to-SB-Nation-Article-by-Tom-Hauser.pdf

My response to the USADA media release can be found at: https://www.boxnation.com/boxing-news/was-floyd-mayweather-really-dehydrated-the-fallout-from-can-boxing-trust-usada/

Now, in 2018, there’s still reason to question USADA’s commitment to “clean sport” insofar as professional boxing is concerned. As noted above, USADA reports having conducted 1,501 tests for banned substances on 128 professional boxers from January 1, 2010, through August 22, 2018. Yet it appears as though only one of these tests (that of Erik Morales) resulted in an adverse finding that was communicated to a state athletic commission.

By way of comparison, Dr. Margaret Goodman (president of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, which is widely regarded as the most credible testing organization in professional boxing) reports that close to four percent of the tests for illegal performance enhancing drugs conducted by VADA come back positive. Using the four-percent benchmark, one would expect that 60 of the 1,501 tests conducted by USADA from 2010 to date would have yielded a positive result.

Broken down by year, the numbers reported by USADA on its website are as follows:

 

YEAR BOXERS TESTS
2010 2 16
2011 2 29
2012 9 113
2013 11 181
2014 28 310
2015 35 446
2016 16 171
2017 12 105
2018 thru 8/22 13 130
TOTAL 128 1,501

Virtually all of these tests were administered in conjunction with fights in which companies controlled by Al Haymon had a vested financial interest.

The most common venues for the fights in question were Nevada, California, and New York.

On August 21, 2018, Bob Bennett (executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission) told this writer, “I don’t recall ever being advised that a boxer who was tested by USADA for one of our fights tested positive for a banned substance. MMA combatants, yes; but no boxers.”

One day later, Andy Foster (executive officer for the California State Athletic Commission) acknowledged, “I can’t recall an instance when USADA reported a positive test finding for a professional boxer here in California. I know that VADA has, but not USADA.”

Multiple sources at the New York State Athletic Commission say that they are unaware of USADA communicating any adverse finding with regard to a professional boxer to the NYSAC other than its belated reporting of Erik Morales for the presence of clenbuterol in his system in 2012.

It should be further noted that three of the professional boxers who tested clean with USADA during the period in question – Andre Berto, Lamont Peterson, and Canelo Alvarez – tested positive with VADA on other occasions. Indeed, it was VADA’s finding that Alvarez had clenbuterol in his system that forced the rescheduling of his rematch against Gennady Golovkin from May 5 to September 15 of this year.

Despite its name, USADA is neither a government agency nor part of the United States Olympic Committee. It’s an independent “not-for-profit” corporation headquartered in Colorado Springs that offers drug-testing services for a fee. Most notably, the United States Olympic and Paralympic movement utilize its services. Because of this role, USADA receives in excess of ten million dollars annually in Congressional funding.

Travis Tygart, USADA’s chief executive officer, spearheaded his organization’s expansion into professional boxing. That opportunity arose in late-2009, when drug testing became an issue in the first round of negotiations for a proposed fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Thereafter, Tygart moved aggressively to expand USADA’s footprint in professional boxing and forged a working relationship with Richard Schaefer, who until 2014 served as CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. USADA also became the drug-testing agency of choice for fighters advised by Al Haymon.

At present, no state requires as a matter of course that drug testing contracts entered into by USADA or VADA be filed with the state athletic commission. In some states, USADA and VADA aren’t even required to report positive test results (although VADA always does).

By and large, state athletic commissions tend to defer to USADA and VADA because of their expertise and because it saves the governing commission money if someone else does the PED testing.

Often, when USADA sends reports to a state athletic commission, it sends only test summaries, not full laboratory test results.

Even when USADA and VADA are uninvolved, some states still don’t test for performance enhancing drugs.

It’s a haphazard system that’s ripe for abuse. And it leads to the question, “How can USADA administer 1,501 tests for banned substances to professional boxers and report only a single violation of anti-doping rules to a governing state athletic commission?”

USADA has shown that it knows how to catch drug cheats. In 2015, it entered into a contract to test mixed martial arts combatants for UFC. UFC wanted USADA to catch the drug cheats. In part, that might have been because a multi-billion-dollar sale of UFC’s parent company was in the works and prospective buyers wanted a clean sport. It’s also possible that Dana White and the rest of the UFC leadership understand the difference between right and wrong when it comes to illegal PED use in a combat sport.

Since then, some of the biggest names in UFC have been suspended pursuant to tests administered by USADA. This includes Brock Lesnar, Chad Mendes, Junior Dos Santos, Francisco Rivera, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Josh Barnett, and Nick Diaz.

Similarly, USADA has issued numerous press releases with regard to positive test results and the resulting suspension of amateur boxers (for example, Paul Koon, Michael Hunter, Damon Allen Jr, Jesus Gomez, and Jerren Cochran).

So why the absence of reported positive test resuts with regard to professional boxers?

Let’s start with the fact that USADA is often hired by, and contracts with, representatives of the very boxers it’s supposed to be testing.

A Major League Baseball team or National Football League player can’t choose the drug-testing agency that will conduct tests and then negotiate a fee with that agency. But this is what happens frequently with USADA. Indeed, there are times when it seems as though USADA collects drug-testing payments the way boxing’s world sanctioning organizations collect sanctioning fees. It has been known to charge as much as $150,000 to administer tests for a particular fight. By contrast, VADA charges as little as $16,000 for a complete drug-testing program for a given fight.

Also, if one is looking for loopholes, there are many ways to rationalize throwing out an adverse test result: “The collection process was flawed . . . The chain of custody for the sample was improper . . . The sample was somehow contaminated . . . The boxer tested positive for clenbuterol because he ate contaminated beef . . . I know he tested positive, but we’re granting him a retroactive therapeutic use exemption.”

Judgments regarding mitigating circumstances are properly left to governing state athletic commissions. USADA should test and report the results of these tests to the governing state athletic commission and certain other contractually-designated parties. It should not adjudicate or grant retroactive therapeutic use exemptions. That’s what got it in trouble in Nevada in 2015 when it unilaterally granted a retroactive therapeutic use exemption to Floyd Mayweather and later conceded that, without this retroactive TUE, Mayweather would have been in violation of the World Anti-Doping Agency code.

But it appears as though some of USADA’s PED-testing contracts for professional boxers don’t require it to report violations to the governing state athletic commission. And some of its contracts allow it to adjudicate matters that should be left to other decision-makers.

Here, the contract for PED testing entered into by USADA with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao is instructive. Paragraph 30 of this contract states, “If any rule or regulation whatsoever incorporated or referenced herein conflicts in any respect with the terms of this Agreement, this Agreement shall in all such respects control. Such rules and regulations include, but are not limited to: the Code [the World Anti-Doping Code]; the USADA Protocol; the WADA Prohibited List; the ISTUE [WADA International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions]; and the ISTI [WADA International Standard for Testing and Investigations].”

In other words, USADA was not bound by the drug testing protocols that one might have expected it to follow in conjunction with Mayweather-Pacquiao.

Indeed, at one point in the negotiations, USADA presented the Pacquiao camp with a contract that would have allowed USADA to grant a retroactive therapeutic use exemption to either fighter in the event that the fighter tested positive for a prohibited drug. And this TUE could have been granted without notifying the Nevada State Athletic Commission or the opposing fighter’s camp. Team Pacquiao thought this was outrageous and refused to sign the contract. Thereafter, Mayweather and USADA agreed to mutual notification and the limitation of retroactive therapeutic use exemptions to certain circumstances.

On August 14, 2015, in the aftermath of the Mayweather IV controversy, Annie Skinner (then a public relations spokesperson for USADA) acknowledged, “At this time, the only professional boxer under USADA’s program who has been found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation is Erik Morales.”

At that time, USADA, by its own count, had administered 915 tests to professional boxers. Think about that for a minute! VADA’s four-percent positive-test-result rate would have yielded 36 positive test results at that point in time. And since then, there appear to have been zero reports by USADA of adverse findings regarding a professional boxer to a governing state athletic commission.

Here it should be noted that, as stated earlier in this article, the USADA website says that USADA conducted 105 tests on professional boxers in 2017. But USADA’s 2017 annual report states that USADA conducted 109 tests on professional boxers in 2017.

Drug-testing is a detail-oriented endeavor. Statistics have to be precisely calculated. How does USADA account for the four missing tests?

Victor Conte was the founder and president of BALCO and at the vortex of several well-publicized PED scandals. He spent four months in prison after pleading guilty to illegal steroid distribution and tax fraud in 2005. Since then, Conte has become a forceful advocate for clean sport. What makes him a particularly valuable asset is his knowledge of how the performance enhancing drugs game is played.

Asked about USADA’s PED test numbers for professional boxers, Conte declares, “Numbers like this for professional boxing don’t make sense. It’s just not credible. You have to ask whether there’s a genuine interest on the part of USADA in catching these athletes.”

“One reason VADA testing is effective,” Conte continues, “is that Margaret Goodman uses CIR [carbon isotope ratio] testing on every urine sample that VADA collects from a boxer. CIR testing can increase the number of positive tests in a given situation from one percent to five percent. To my knowledge, USADA doesn’t use CIR testing on every sample. But it’s common sense. To be successful in any endeavor, you do more of what works and less of what doesn’t work.”

On multiple occasions in August, this writer requested of USADA that it provide answers to the following questions:

(1) Other than Erik Morales in 2012, has USADA ever reported a positive drug test result with regard to a professional boxer to a state athletic commission? And if so, on how many occasions and to which commission(s).

(2) On how many occasions has the “A” sample of a professional boxer tested by USADA come back positive for a prohibited substance?

(3) On how many occasions has the “B” sample of a professional boxer tested by USADA come back positive for a prohibited substance?

On August 28, Danielle Eurich (a media relations specialist for UDADA) responded as follows: “Hi Thomas, Given your previous inaccurate reporting on USADA’s role in professional boxing and refusal to correct the record when given the opportunity, our only comment at this time is that we will not be providing you with the requested information as we have no confidence that anything we offer in response to your questions would be used accurately. We believe readers deserve an honest, fact-based account of the state of anti-doping in boxing, but regrettably that need has not been met with your past reporting. We’re sure you understand the reasons why we are unable to offer any further comment at this time.”

This is known as avoiding the issue. Other writers, news organizations, and government entities (including the Association of Boxing Commissions) are urged to press USADA for answers to the questions above.

Meanwhile, where should boxing go from here?

As I wrote three years ago, the presence of performance enhancing drugs in boxing cries out for action. To ensure a level playing field, a national solution with uniform national testing standards is essential. A year-round testing program is necessary. It should be a condition of being granted a boxing license in this country that any fighter is subject to blood and urine testing at any time. While logistics and cost would make mandatory testing on a broad scale impractical, unannounced spot testing could be implemented, particularly on elite fighters.

Without additional federal legislation, the Association of Boxing Commissions can’t require PED testing. But the individual states can. Each state should require that:

(1) All contracts for drug testing be filed with the governing state athletic commission within seven days of execution.

(2) All test results be forwarded to the governing state athletic commission within three days of receipt by USADA, VADA, or any other testing agency. Such filings should include (a) the name of the boxer who was tested; (b) a summary of the results from each test; and (c) copies of the complete test results. A commission doctor should review all test results as they come in.

The Association of Boxing Commissions could serve as a repository for this information as it’s received by the individual states. In today’s computer age, that wouldn’t be hard to do. This registry would ensure the free flow of information from state to state and also provide a baseline against which future tests for performance enhancing drugs could be evaluated.

Given the amount of money that USADA receives annually from the federal government, it would also be appropriate for Congress to conduct an inquiry into USADA’s practices with regard to professional boxing.

Meanwhile, the point can’t be made often enough. This isn’t about running faster or hitting a baseball further. It’s about hitting someone in the head harder in a sport where the aim is to knock an opponent unconscious.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His next book – Protect Yourself at All Times – will be published by the University of Arkansas Press this autumn. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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Thomas Hauser is the author of 52 books. In 2005, he was honored by the Boxing Writers Association of America, which bestowed the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism upon him. He was the first Internet writer ever to receive that award. In 2019, Hauser was chosen for boxing's highest honor: induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Lennox Lewis has observed, “A hundred years from now, if people want to learn about boxing in this era, they’ll read Thomas Hauser.”

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Nakatani Strengthens his Pound-for-Pound Credentials: Blasts Out Astrolabio

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Junto Nakatani is the best 118-pound boxer in the world. Tonight, in Tokyo, he reinforced that judgment with a first-round knockout of Vincent Astrolabio at Japan’s national sumo arena. A short left to the solar plexus left the Filipino writhing on the canvas. He tried to rise but fell back down, forcing referee Tom Taylor to waive it off. It was all over in less than three minutes, 2:37 to be precise. Nakatani (28-0, 21 KOs) was making the first defense of his WBO bantamweight title after previously winning title belts at 112 and 115.

Tall for the weight class at five-foot-seven-and-a-half, the 26-year-old Japanese southpaw produced his second highlight reel knockout in his last four fights. The first come in May of last year at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas where he scored a frightening, 12th-round one-punch knockout of Andrew Moloney.

Nakatani won’t have to travel far to unify the belt. The other three current bantamweight champions are also Japanese. Down the road, potentially, is a showdown with countryman Naoya Inoue. That match, should it transpire, would be the biggest domestic fight in Japanese boxing history. Astrolabio, who had been stopped only once previously and was making his second stab at a world title, declined to 18-5.

Other Title Fight

LA’s Anthony Olascuaga, a stablemate of Nakatani (both train in LA under the tutelage of Rudy Hernandez), won the vacant WBO flyweight title with a third-round stoppage of Riku Kanu. A left uppercut put Kano (22-5) on the deck for the full count. The official time was 2:50 of round three.

Olascuaga (7-1, 5 KOs) was rucked out of obscurity in April of last year when he dropped down a weight class and performed far better than expected, albeit in a losing effort, against Kenshiro Teraji, a fight that he took on 10 days’ notice. Despite his inexperience and the locale, the LA fighter entered the ring a consensus 3/1 favorite over Kanu.

Also

In his first 10-rounder, ever-improving Tenshin Nasukawa (4-0, 2 KOs) stopped U.S. invader Jonathan Rodriguez in the third round. Five unanswered punches climaxed by a straight left ended matters at the 1:49 mark. The bout was contested at a catchweight of 120 pounds.

Nasukawa, a baby-faced, 25-year-old southpaw, transitioned to boxing after becoming famous in Japan for his kickboxing exploits. His first foray into boxing was an exhibition with Floyd Mayweather who knocked him out in the opening round, but he’s made considerable progress since then.

Against Rodriguez, Nasakawa was dominant from the get-go. Rodriguez was in dire straits as the second round ended. The first fighter from Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley to fight in Japan, Rodriguez (17-3-1) joins the ranks of one-hit wonders. He scored a shocking first-round KO of former title-holder Khalid Yafai, but then lost his very next fight en route to this affair.

The promotion lost a bit of luster when the title fight between WBO 115-pound belt-holder Kosei Tanaka and Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Rodriguez (no relation to Nasukawa’s opponent of the same name) fell out when Rodriguez weighed a staggering six pounds over the limit.

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Results and Recaps from Fantasy Springs where Rocha Topped Dominguez

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Ringside Report by TSS Special Correspondent Raymundo Dioses…INDIO, CA – Alexis Rocha faced off against undefeated Santiago Dominguez and earned a hard-fought unanimous decision win for the NABO welterweight title on July 19, 2024 at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in a live event presented by DAZN.  The 10-round fight featured plenty of action on a hot night where temperature hit 111 degrees in the Southern California desert.

Rocha, (25-2, 16 KOs) looked to time Dominguez early on and began to throw in combinations leading to his impressive win. Dominguez would press Rocha against the ropes seeking some shots of his own in a fight which swayed back and forth until Rocha was able to find a late rhythm towards the end of the bout.

Rocha began to back up Dominguez, (27-1, 20 KOs) with shots and catch openings while on the inside, with Dominguez steadily slowing from the effects of Rocha’s shots. Rocha kept his hands busy and would catch Dominguez when he would step outside of range, and he began to control the middle of the ring and the terms of the fight as the bout progressed.

Judge Fernando Villareal had it 98-92 while Carla Caiz and Pat Russell scored the bout 99-91 for Rocha, who now finds himself in title contention in the 147-pound division.

“I wanted to show everyone that I’m not just a banger, I can use my IQ in there and that’s what I needed,” said  Rocha. “I knew Dominguez was going to come forward, he just keeps coming, so that’s what I wanted to show. It’s more about my brains from now on. I want to be very aware in the ring, and I want to use my brains. That’s all you’re going to see moving forward. I have a great team behind me, Golden Boy, and we’re just going to see what’s next. I’m right there. I’m knocking on the door still. The belts are gonna be open anytime soon, so I’m just knocking on the door right now.”

The fighters utilized combinations effectively and often, landing on even terms until Rocha found his timing in the second half of the fight and sealed the win.  A solid left hook from Rocha paused Dominguez in his tracks as Rocha began to close in and slow the return fire from Dominguez.

A one-two combination to the chin landed for Dominguez to begin the seventh round. The action moved to center ring with the fighter’s trading shots which got the fans cheering.  Rocha threw a combination and landed a straight-right hand which was effective throughout the contest.

A combination of punches nearly had Dominguez down in the later rounds yet Dominguez would bounce back and punch Rocha to the ropes. There was more middle ring trading as the fight unfolded and both fighters would find offense with Rocha getting the better of the action.

Rocha often fought through a jab to the head and body of Dominguez.  A head-body combination worked for Rocha, and one-two combinations followed by body shots came from Rocha who was making headway as the more offensively scoring fighter.

Time was called by referee Ray Corona in the final round as Dominguez was punched on the leg, and once the action resumed a series of trading resulted in Rocha landing the last punch. Rocha not only landed at will in the last half of the fight, he began to make Dominguez miss and matters ended after ten completed rounds with the fighters throwing as the ten second bell ticked.

Rocha, the youngest fighter to win a gold medal at the junior Olympics at age 14, began his pro career in 2016 fighting under the Golden Boy Promotions banner and the Californian went 16-0 before losing to Rashidi Ellis in October 2020.  Rocha would not lose again until three years later in an all-California match-up against Giovani Santillan in October 2023.  He is the younger brother of former world title challenger Ronny Rios.

Rocha would lose the Santillan fight via knockout loss, yet the new NABO titleholder had a bounce-back win in March 2024 over Frederick Lawson leading into the Dominguez fight.

CO-FEATURE

The nights co-main event saw Gregory Morales, (17-1, 9 KOs) defeat Jayvon Garnett over 10 rounds after a fast start, slow ending type fight in the featherweight division.

Round one was a feeler type affair for both combatants with each fighter seeking to gain ground. The pot-shotting continued into the second round until Morales, who last fought to a decision win on the January 2024 Jaime Munguia-John Ryder tilt in Arizona, was able to put his punches together via combinations.

Garnett landed a combination of his own to begin rounds two and three, and Cincinnati, Ohio’s Garnett proceeded to let his hands go as round three wore on. Busy hands lead to good things in the boxing ring. The fight then swung slightly in Morales’ favor at the 10-second mark of the round with a few punches followed by an audible body shot.

The body shots thrown with both hands continued from Morales in round four which Garnett taunted as non-effective. Morales marched forward and resumed his body attack. Garnett kept busy midway through the fight yet Morales kept composed and pressed forward despite the offense of Garnett. A big shot came from Garnett which did not faze Morales in the sixth round and Morales was able to answer as the round ended.

The action dulled in round seven with fighter fatigue setting in. Morales was finally able to back up Garnett (10-2, 5 KOs) in the eighth round with right hands and in the ninth Morales continued to press Garnett against the ropes. Shots were landed from both fighters near the end of the round.

The final frame was a ‘who wants it more’ type of three minutes with the fighters each wanting to either score a stoppage or win a pivotal round on the judge’s scorecards. The round ended with respect as the fighter’s traded pleasantries after trading blows for 10 rounds.

Scorecards were 96-94, 98-92 and 99-91 all for Morales.

COACHELLA’S FLORES REMAINS UNDEFEATED WITH KO OVER MEZA

The Coachella Valley’s hot prospect Grant Flores scored an impressive stoppage win over Juan Meza in a super welterweight fight.

At the outset Flores, (6-0, 5 KOs) timed Meza well, gauging the distance of his opponent which led to a stirring right hand to end the first round. Flores rocked Meza again in the second round and Meza showed signs of fatigue. Fiery right hands rocked Meza into the red corner and after a few more shots referee Ray Corona had seen enough and waved off the fight at 1:54 of round two.

At a ripe age of 19, Flores is trained by noted trainer Joel Diaz and impressively fought just three weeks ago at the same venue, registering a knockout over Josias Gonzalez on the June 27, 2024 Golden Boy Fight Night card.

CHAVEZ DEFEATS KITANI IN FIGHT OF THE NIGHT

In a tightly contested featherweight matchup Jorge Chavez, (12-0, 8 KOs) and Riku Kitani earned fight of the night honors in their entertaining six-round featherweight bout which resulted in a decision win for Chavez.

The fist throwers battled on even terms and lived up to the featherweight division way of punches in bunches. The action was mostly in the middle of the ring with each fighter connecting and trading.  Each three-minute round was used as a battleground for the fighters.

A clash of heads midway through the fight briefly stopped the action in round four. Chavez threw the classic one-two combination throughout the fight, yet Kitani, (8-3, 3 KOs) would answer with shots of his own.  Referee Raymond Armendariz had the fighters tap each other’s gloves to begin the final round which saw Chavez stalk and land, and Kitani counter-punch in a fight that ended with cheers from the crowd.

Scores were all for Chavez at 60-54.

HOMETOWN FAVORITE LUA WOWS CROWD WITH KO OVER OLGUIN

In the opening televised bout, Indio, California native Bryan Lua, (10-0, 5 KOs) dominated late notice opponent Diuhl Olguin with fast hands and solid ring generalship in what resulted in a knockout victory. The confident Desert product bruised his opponent up with lead right hands and uppercuts.

Lua cut the ring off well and landed at will against Olguin, who took the punishment well and even caught Lua with a right hand before the bell sounded to end round two. The ringside doctor took a look at a cut on Olguin before round three. The dominance continued in the third frame with Lua landing two straight body shots which slightly lifted Olguin off the canvas.

Another uppercut softened up Olguin late in round five which delighted the hometown crowd. Lua ran towards Olguin to begin the final round and pressed the action, ultimately scoring a stoppage win at 2:03 as Team Olguin decided to throw in the towel.

GUZMAN NOTCHES KNOCKOUT NO. 5 IN FIVE FIGHTS

Middleweight prospect Fabian Guzman, (5-0, 5 KOs) continued his knockout streak with a first-round stoppage over Las Vegas native Corey Cook.

Guzman started out tentative against his left-handed opponent, warmed up midway, then dropped Cook with a flush right hand which dropped Cook to a knee.  A 10-count ensued by referee Raymond Armendariz and Guzman was awarded the knockout at a recorded 2:14 of round one.

PHOENIX NATIVE IMPROVES TO 3-0

In the opening contest of the night Phoenix, Arizona native Juan Estrada impressed against opponent Dyllon Cervantes in a four-round fight.  Estrada, (3-0, 1 KO) threw effective combinations from the outset and worked both the body and the head throughout the bout.

End results of the fight were 40-36 all for Estrada.

DAZN commentators: Beto Duran, Sergio Mora

Fighters in Attendance: WBC Flyweight titlist Ricardo Sandoval, Bektemir Melikuziev  

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Book Review

Literary Notes from Thomas Hauser

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Literary Notes from Thomas Hauser

Bernard Fernandez has written thousands of articles during his 55-year career as a sports journalist. Championship Rounds: Round 5 is the fifth (and Bernard says, the last) collection of his articles to be published in book form.

Fernandez has a way with words. He also has an ear for quotes as evidenced by the following thoughts from Championship Rounds: Round 5:

Alex Rodriguez (speaking about his brother, Francisco, who died after being knocked out by Teon Kennedy at the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia): “My brother had a perfect heart, perfect lungs, perfect kidneys, perfect pancreas. Because of him, other people will have a chance for better health, more birthdays, the fulfillment of their own dreams. Paco is going to continue walking through this world through them.”

Johnny Tapia (after Don King completely dominated the final prefight press conference for his fight against Nana Yaw Konadu in Atlantic City): “I don’t understand this. I mean, I’m the one who’s fighting, right?”

Archie Moore: “A legend is something between fact and fable. Some people might say that that is an accurate description of me.”

George Foreman (on Roy Jones): “The better he is at his craft, the less people understand it.”

Mike Tyson (on Sonny Liston’s gift for weakening opponents through intimidation): “He was a menacing force. Sonny could pull it off. I could pull it off. Not a lot of people could pull it off.”

Bert Sugar (reflecting on some of the unsavory characters who have been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame): “You can always make a case for someone’s exclusion. It depends on how moralistic you want to be. But remember, this is boxing we’re talking about.”

Ferdie Pacheco (after watching 47-year-old Roberto Duran get knocked out by William Joppy in three rounds): “What happened tonight happens too often in boxing. How often do we need to see Joe Louis knocked out by Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali beaten to a pulp by Larry Holmes, Sugar Ray Robinson losing to everybody? How much longer do we need to see these legends take beatings like this? This wasn’t a boxing match. It was a licensed execution. I hope it’s the end of the line for Roberto. It should have been the end of the line ten years ago.”

Seth Abraham (reflecting on having signed Roy Jones to a multi-bout contract with insufficient quality control regarding opponents): “In retrospect, I wish I had taken a  harder line with him. He wanted to make the most money. That’s fine. He wanted to take the fewest risks. That’s not fine if you want the most money.”

Matthew Saad Muhammad (on his hyper-aggressive ring style and growing older): “You can’t fight the way I did unless you got something to back it up. I couldn’t back it up anymore.”

Archie Moore. “Boxing is magnificent. It’s beautiful to know. But you’ve got to marry it. And so I did. Boxing was my lover. It was my lady.”

Earnie Shavers (on knocking Larry Holmes down and near-senseless with an overhand right. Miraculously, Holmes rose from the canvas and, four rounds later, knocked Shavers out): “I was the heavyweight champion of the world. All my troubles were finally over. It was the greatest feeling I’d ever had. And it lasted for five whole seconds.”

Dan Goossen (on Michael Nunn leaving him for a new manager): “Am I hurt that he decided to leave me? Of course. It’s kind of like being married to a beautiful woman. Guys are going to whistle at her, try to pick her up. It’s up to her to do the right thing and come home. Same thing with Michael. People are going to constantly hit on him. This time, he didn’t come home.”

*        *        *

Women’s boxing peaked with Katie Taylor vs. Amanda Serrano at Madison Square Garden on April 30, 2022. It was a superb fight between two skilled fighters in an atmosphere that was electric. In Malissa Smith’s words, that night “set the stage for a new era of elite female boxing” and “legitimized” women’s boxing.

Six months later, Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall squared off at the O2 Arena in London with Mikaela Mayer vs. Alycia Baumgardner on the undercard. Like Taylor-Serrano, the fights in London were a platform for women’s boxing to build on.

 Smith’s new book – The Promise of Women’s Boxing (Rowman & Littlefield) – focuses on women’s boxing from the 2012 Olympics to date and is a sequel to her first book – A History of Women’s Boxing (published a decade ago).

Smith has put a huge amount of research into her work. But she recites the details of fight after fight after fight. After a while, the fights tend to blur together and reading about them feels like reading a 224-page encyclopedia article.

Also, when Smith’s writing isn’t too dry, it tends toward hyperbole. Words like “great” and “spectacular” are overused . . . Amanda Serrano is a very good boxer. She is not “one of the hardest-hitting fighters in boxing, male or female.” (Amanda’s last seven opponents have gone the distance against her) . . . And as good a fight as Taylor-Serrano was, it was not “one of the greatest boxing matches in the history of the sport.”

Here, the thoughts of promoter Lou DiBella are instructive. As recounted by Smith, DiBella cautions that fans should “stop comparing women’s boxing contests to men’s and start appreciating them on their own terms.”

*        *        *

Every fighter has a story. And every fighter’s story is interesting. But some fighters’ stories are more interesting and more artfully told than others.

Land of Hope and Glory by Maurice Hope with Ron Shillingford (Pitch Publishing) has some worthwhile moments but falls short of the mark.

Hope (30-4-1, 24 KOs, 2 KOs by) fought professionally from 1973 through 1982. The high point of his career came in 1979 when he stopped Italian-born Rocky Mattioli in San Remo to claim the WBC 154-pound title. Two years later, he lost his belt to Wilfred Benitez.

The loss to Benitez ended with a frightening highlight-reel knockout that left Hope unconscious on the canvas for an extended period of time. In an ugly coda, when Wilfred was told that Maurice had lost two teeth in the battle, Wilfred responded, “He can put the teeth under his pillow.”

There are some entertaining passages in Land of Hope and Glory. Recounting the prelude to his championship-winning fight against Mattioli, Hope recalls, “Walking to the ring was frightening. Shady figures in the crowd in dark suits and sunglasses were walking around with hands on their breast pockets. Whether there was just a handkerchief there or a loaded gun, the impact had the desired effect – intimidation. I pretended not to see them but it was hard to stay focused and calm. Gangsters with bandages around their hands seemed to be everywhere. It seemed like the Mafia had taken over the whole venue.”

There are also poignant recountings of the death of Hope’s son in a car accident and Maurice visiting a horribly disabled Wilfred Benitez in Puerto Rico long after Wilfred had descended into a hellish dementia.

But sixty pages pass before Land of Hope and Glory gets to a boxing gym. Hope doesn’t turn pro until page 93. And overall, the treatment of boxing is superficial. The book doesn’t explain with nuance or in depth what’s involved in being a fighter or what the business of boxing is about.

There are too many factual errors. For example, Las Vegas is described as being “in the middle of the Arizona desert.” And there’s some fuzzy math. Hope complains about an 80-79 decision that he lost to Mickey Flynn, writing, “The 80-79 decision meant Flynn won two rounds and the other six were draws.” That leads to two thoughts; (1) It’s more likely that Flynn won one round with seven rounds being called even; and (2) Since Maurice was the A-side fighter in that bout and Flynn had thirteen losses on his record, one might speculate that referee Benny Caplan (who was the sole judge) leaned over backward in Maurice’s favor and marked his scorecard “10-10” for rounds that Flynn should have won.

To his credit, Hope got out of boxing at the right time. After losing to Benitez and in his next fight to Luigi Minchillo, he retired from the ring at age thirty. He understood the risks of the trade he had chosen and now writes, “In my mind, boxing is the hardest sport out there. Once you get in the ring, you know your head’s going to hurt.”

 Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – MY MOTHER and me – is a memoir available at Amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com/My-Mother-Me-Thomas-Hauser/dp/1955836191/ref=sr_1_1?crid=5C0TEN4M9ZAH&keywords=thomas+hauser&qid=1707662513&sprefix=thomas+hauser%2Caps%2C80&sr=8-1

 In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. In 2019, Hauser was selected for boxing’s highest honor – induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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