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Canelo Wins Mexican Style Rematch by Majority Decision

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Mexican Style

LAS VEGAS-Mexican style erupted and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez proved that it’s not foreign to him as he bested powerful Gennady “GGG” Golovkin to win the middleweight world titles by majority decision on Saturday.

The Mexican redhead Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) proved in his 50th win superior to Mexican style fighter Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) of Kazakhstan before a sold-out crowd of 21,965 screaming fans at T-Mobile Arena. Still, it was close.

After months of name calling and accusations of cheating, plus a suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission because of illegal use of banned drugs, Alvarez abided by the penalty rendered and was supervised by VADA to be eligible to fight Golovkin in the rematch after their first encounter ended in a majority draw.

This time Alvarez cleaned the slate and won by majority decision after 12 turbulent back and forth rounds. The fans were loud in their support for both throughout.

Youth was in Alvarez’s favor and he took advantage with his speed despite standing in striking distance in every round. It was a matter of machismo for the Guadalajara native who had suffered hearing Golovkin’s team claim he did not fight like a Mexican while the middleweight champion did in the first fight.

Alvarez took it to heart.

Early in the fight Alvarez was quicker to the draw though Golovkin was able to counter with powerful blasts. The exchange of blows was measured in a pace dictated by Golovkins jabs in the first three rounds. It was too early to determine who was the superior fighter.

Golovkin picked up the pace in the fourth round and snapped Alvarez’s head back with vicious right uppercut. Alvarez then blasted a left hook to the body and got a reaction from the blow, but overall Golovkin had his best round.

The quickened pace continued and Alvarez began targeting Golovkin’s body with right uppercuts to the belly and left hooks to the liver and ribs. Though the always strong Golovkin did not show it, Alvarez continued the body assault. In the sixth round both unloaded with tremendous blows that seemingly would knock out anyone. Both remained standing.

Alvarez began to get into a rhythm with rights to the body and lefts to the body mixed in with power shots to the head. Golovkin rallied a bit with a three-punch combination and seemed to regain control of the round overall. It stopped Alvarez’s momentum.

Both fighters engaged in some hellacious shots in the next few rounds though both seemed tired. At one point Alvarez did the sign of the cross and entered in the fray as if prepared to walk into fire. He did.

Golovkin absorbed some tremendous blows to the head and though tired he never wilted. Neither did Alvarez. The final two rounds were hard to determine whose blows were affecting each other. Golovkin must have known the decision was in the balance and erupted in the final round with rights and a right uppercut followed by a left hook and right-left combination. A big right cross from Alvarez stopped the onslaught and then the Mexican redhead began connecting with his own.

A collective exhaling took part when the final bell sounded. Both Golovkin and Alvarez hugged briefly. Both had fought to the full extent of their abilities and both fought Mexican style.

One judge Glenn Feldman scored it a draw 114-114, while Steve Weisfeld and Dave Moretti scored it 115-113 for Alvarez who becomes the new WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight titleholder.

“It was a very exciting and very emotional 12th round,” said Alvarez, 28. “He’s a great fighter. I salute him. He’s a great fighter but I did this for Mexico.”

Golovkin was classy in defeat and knew it was very close and could have been a draw.

“I’m not going to say who won tonight because the victory belongs to Canelo according to the judges,” said Golovkin, 36, who was taken to the hospital for stitches. “I thought the fight was very good for the fans.”

Many felt the fight was superior to the first in terms of pure action.

“If he wants, we can do it again,” said Alvarez. “But let’s enjoy this tonight.”

Munguia

WBO super welterweight titlist Jaime Munguia tried to contain the storm within but once Canada’s Brandon Cook began unleashing wild overhand rights, the chains of restraint were off and both were flailing away like bullies in a street fight. In this street fight Munguia was vastly in his element in winning by third round knockout.

Munguia used his jab and foot movement to keep the fight at a distance in the opening round. Cook looked to land some counter rights every time the taller Mexican fighter fired a jab, but no luck. And when Cook tried to mount an offense with more overhand rights the fight was on and Munguia was like a wild stallion unleashed out of the gates.

At the end of the second round Munguia had Cook cornered in the corner and connected with a blistering right cross from that long arm he possesses. Cook barely survived.

Munguia seemed more intent to close out the fight in the third round as he cornered Cook and dropped a right hand like an anchor and down went Cook. The Canadian bravely got up but Munguia raked him with a blistering four-punch combination and referee Tony Weeks wisely stopped the fight at 1:03 of the round. It was another knockout win for the Tijuana fighter.

“I was a little more composed and concentrated this time around,” Munguia said as fans cheered. “Before, I was always looking first for the knockout and only the knockout, this time I focused a little bit more.”

Talk on his readiness to move up to the middleweight division is already being discussed.

“Little by little you find out what you do well,” said Munguia about what he learned from this win. “I think it’s a process I’m only 21 and I’ll take the fight of the winner. We’ve learned a lot of things. I want to show that I can fight the best to show that I am the best.

Lemieux

A blistering war on social media was ended abruptly in the boxing ring as former middleweight world champion David Lemieux (40-4, 34 KOs) knocked out Ireland’s Spike O’Sullivan (28-3, 20 KOs) with a left hook to the chin in the first round.

Lemieux and O’Sullivan warred like hungry dogs on social media but when it came to the actual fighting the real alpha dog showed when the Canadian beat the handle-bar moustache boxer to the punch with a quick left hook. Down went O’Sullivan in sections at the end of the first round. After delivering a jab O’Sullivan was following up with a right when Lemieux short-circuited him with the blow. The end came at 2:44 of the first round as referee Russell Mora stopped the fight though a wobbly O’Sullivan got up.

Now will Lemieux fight the winner of Golovkin-Alvarez?

“They’re two excellent fighters but there is no middleweight like David Lemieux. I’m not rooting for anybody, I think it’s a 50/50 fight,” said Lemieux before the main event. “I once fought Golovkin at his peak. Perhaps Golovkin will fight Lemieux at his peak.”

Chocolatito

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (47-2, 39 KOs) answered several questions at once with a single blow as he knocked out Mexico’s Moises Fuentes (25-6-1, 14 KOs) to return with a bang after a year’s absence.

After losing back-to-back fights and the super flyweight world title, many felt Gonzalez no longer possessed the fighting skills that enabled him to capture four division world titles and consideration as the top fighter pound for pound. Others wondered if his political leanings in his native Nicaragua might also be a tug on his ability to concentrate on boxing.

With one punch, Gonzalez answered all those questions with a rocket right cross that deposited Fuentes in his own corner and unconscious at 1:44 of the fifth round as referee Robert Byrd stopped the fight.

“When he hit the floor, I got very worried for him and I panicked,” said Gonzalez who trotted over to the fallen Fuentes. “I asked for him to forgive me because this is the job that we chose and that I didn’t mean to hurt him.”

Up until the fifth round Gonzalez exchanged combinations with fellow multi-division world champion Fuentes and looked faster and sharper than his Mexican counterpart.

“I’m very thankful for this opportunity,” said Gonzalez. “I am a step closer to being a world champion.”

Other Bouts

Heavy-hitting prospect Vergil Ortiz (11-0, 11 KOs) crushed former sparring partner Mexico’s Roberto Ortiz (35-3-2, 26 KOs) and scored two knockdowns before the fight was stopped at 1:00 of the second round. A quick counter right cross delivered Roberto Ortiz to the floor and he rolled around for a few seconds. Though he did beat the count and tried to rally he was blasted out by a three-punch combination and down he went for the final time forcing referee Vic Drakulich to halt the super lightweight fight.

Though both prizefighters are named Ortiz they are not related. But they do know each other from ring sessions earlier in their careers.

“The win is bittersweet because I won against a great name and a record, but “Massa” (Roberto Ortiz) was my first ever sparring partner when I first turned pro,” said Vergil Ortiz, who grew up in Dallas and trains in Riverside, Calif. “Now he’s a win on the next step of my career. During my first sparring session he gave me a swollen lip. Today I knocked him out.”

Santa Ana’s Alexis Rocha (12-0, 8 KOs) won the battle of southpaws versus Carlos Ortiz (10-3, 10 KOs) of Mexico by unanimous decision after six rounds in a super welterweight clash. Rocha was a little quicker and slicker with his punches and nearly had a whitewash. The scores were 80-72 twice and 79-73 for Rocha.

“I wish I could have thrown more punches and more combinations,” said Rocha whose brother is former featherweight contender Ronny Rios. “He was really good at catching shots and countering.”

Philadelphia’s Jaba Khositashvili (4-0) won by decision after six super middleweight rounds against San Bernardino’s Lawrence King (4-1).

“My opponent kept holding me and wouldn’t let me fight him,” said Khositashvili.

New York’s Brian Ceballo (5-0, 3 KOs) won by stoppage in the second round over David Thomas of Texas in a welterweight match set for six rounds. The end came at 30 seconds of round two.

“I figured out beforehand that he always fights the same way,” said Ceballo. “So I knew to keep my distance and keep a fast pace.”

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Anderson Cruises by Vapid Merhy and Ajagba edges Vianello in Texas

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Jared Anderson returned to the ring tonight on a Top Rank card in Corpus Christi, Texas. Touted as the next big thing in the heavyweight division, Anderson (17-0, 15 KOs) hardly broke a sweat while cruising past Ryad Merhy in a bout with very little action, much to the disgruntlement of the crowd which started booing as early as the second round. The fault was all Merhy as he was reluctant to let his hands go. Somehow, he won a round on the scorecard of judge David Sutherland who likely fell asleep for a round for which he could be forgiven.

Merhy, born in the Ivory Coast but a resident of Brussels, Belgium, was 32-2 (26 KOs) heading in after fighting most of his career as a cruiserweight. He gave up six inches in height to Anderson who was content to peck away when it became obvious to him that little would be coming back his way.

Anderson may face a more daunting adversary on Monday when he has a court date in Romulus, Michigan, to answer charges related to an incident in February where he drove his Dodge Challenger at a high rate speed, baiting the police into a merry chase. (Weirdly, Anderson entered the ring tonight wearing the sort of helmet that one associates with a race car driver.)

Co-Feature

In the co-feature, a battle between six-foot-six former Olympians, Italy’s Guido Vianello started and finished strong, but Efe Ajagba had the best of it in the middle rounds and prevailed on a split decision. Two of the judges favored Ajagba by 96-94 scores with the dissenter favoring the Italian from Rome by the same margin.

Vianello had the best round of the fight. He staggered Ajagba with a combination in round two. At the end of the round, a befuddled Ajagba returned to the wrong corner and it appeared that an upset was brewing. But the Nigerian, who trains in Las Vegas under Kay Koroma, got back into the fight with a more varied offensive attack and better head movement. In winning, he improved his ledger to 20-1 (14). Vianello, who sparred extensively with Daniel Dubois in London in preparation for this fight, declined to 12-2-1 in what was likely his final outing under the Top Rank banner.

Other Bouts of Note

In the opening bout on the main ESPN platform, 35-year-old super featherweight Robson Conceicao, a gold medalist for Brazil in the 2016 Rio Olympics, stepped down in class after fighting Emanuel Navarrete tooth-and-nail to a draw in his previous bout and scored a seventh-round stoppage of Jose Ivan Guardado who was a cooked goose after slumping to the canvas after taking a wicked shot to the liver. Guardado made it to his feet, but the end was imminent and the referee waived it off at the 2:27 mark.

Conceicao improved to 18-1 (9 KOs). It was the U.S. debut for Guardado (15-2-1), a boxer from Ensenada, Mexico who had done most of his fighting up the road in Tijuana.

Ruben Villa, the pride of Salinas, California, improved to 22-1 (7) and moved one step closer to a match with WBC featherweight champion Rey Vargas with a unanimous 10-round decision over Tijuana’s Cristian Cruz (22-7-1). The judges had it 97-93 and 98-92 twice.

Cruz, the son of former IBF world featherweight title-holder Cristobal Cruz, was better than his record. He entered the bout on a 21-1-1 run after losing five of his first seven pro fights.

Cleveland southpaw Abdullah Mason, who turned 20 earlier this month, continued his fast ascent up the lightweight ladder with a fourth-round stoppage of Ronal Ron.

Mason (13-0, 11 KOs) put Ron on the canvas in the opening round with a short left hook. He scored a second knockdown with a shot to the liver. A flurry of punches, a diverse array, forced the stoppage at the 1:02 mark of round four. A 25-year-old SoCal-based Venezuelan, the spunky but out-gunned Ron declined to 14-6.

Charly Suarez, a 35-year-old former Olympian from the Philippines, ranked #5 at junior lightweight by the IBF, advanced to 17-0 (9) with a unanimous 8-round decision over SoCal’s Louie Coria (5-7).

This was a tactical fight. In the final round, Coria, subbing for 19-0 Henry Lebron, caught the Filipino off-balance and knocked him into the ropes which held him up. It was scored a knockdown, but came too little, too late for Coria who lost by scores of 76-75 and 77-74 twice.

Suarez, whose signature win was a 12th-round stoppage of the previously undefeated Aussie Paul Fleming in Sydney, may be headed to a rematch with Robson Conceicao. They fought as amateurs in 2016 in Kazakhstan and Suarez lost a narrow 6-round decision.

Photo credit: Mikey Willams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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Ellie Scotney and Rhiannon Dixon Win World Title Fights in Manchester

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England’s Ellie Scotney started slowly against the long reach of France’s Segolene Lefebvre but used rough tactics and a full-steam ahead approach to unify the super bantamweight division by unanimous decision on Saturday.

“There’s a lot more I didn’t show,” said an excited Scotney (pictured on the left).

IBF titlist Scotney (9-0) added the WBO title by nullifying Lefebvre’s (18-1) reach and dominating the inside with a two-fisted attack in front of an excited crowd in Manchester, England.

For the first two rounds Lefebvre used her long reach and smooth fluid attack to keep Scotney at the end of her punches. Then the fight turned when the British fighter bulled her way inside with body shots and forced the French fighter into the ropes.

Aggressiveness by Scotney turned the fight in her favor. But Lefebvre remained active and countered with overhand rights throughout the match.

Body shots by Scotney continued to pummel the French champion’s abdomen but she remained steadfast in her counter-attacks. Combinations landed for Lefebvre and a counter overhand right scored to keep her in the contest in the fifth round.

Scotney increased the intensity of her attack in the sixth and seventh rounds. In perhaps her best round Scotney was almost perfect in scoring while not getting hit with anything from the French fighter.

Maybe the success of the previous round caused Scotney to pause. It allowed Lefebvre to rally behind some solid shots in a slow round and gave the French fighter an opening. Maybe.

The British fighter opened up more savagely after taking two Lefevbre rights to open the ninth. Scotney attacked with bruising more emphatic blows despite getting hit. Though both fired blows Scotney’s were more powerful.

Both champions opened-up the 10th and final round with punches flying. Once again Scotney’s blows had more power behind them though the French fighter scored too, and though her face looked less bruised than Scotney’s the pure force of Scotney’s attacks was more impressive.

All three judges saw Scotney the winner 97-93, 96-94 and a ridiculous 99-91. The London-based fighter now has the IBF and WBO super bantamweight titles.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said a possible showdown with WBC titlist Erika Cruz looms large possibly in the summer.

“Great performance. Great punch output,” said Hearn of Scotney’s performance.

Dixon Wins WBO Title

British southpaw Rhiannon Dixon (10-0) out-fought Argentina’s Karen Carabajal (22-2) over 10 rounds and won a very competitive unanimous decision to win the vacant WBO lightweight title. It was one of the titles vacated by Katie Taylor who is now the undisputed super lightweight world champion.

An aggressive Dixon dominated the first three rounds including a knockdown in the third round with a perfect left-hand counter that dropped Carabajal. The Argentine got up and rallied in the round.

Carabajal, whose only loss was against Katie Taylor, slowly began figuring out Dixon’s attacks and each round got more competitive. The Argentine fighter used counter rights to find a hole in Dixon’s defense to probably win the round in the sixth.

The final three rounds saw both fighters engage evenly with Carabajal scoring on counters and Dixon attacking the body successfully.

After 10 rounds all three judges saw it in Dixon’s favor 98-91, 97-92, 96-93 who now wields the WBO lightweight world title.

“It’s difficult to find words,” said Dixon after winning the title.

Hometown Fighter Wins

Manchester’s Zelfa Barrett (31-2, 17 KOs) battled back and forth with Jordan Gill (28-3-1, 9 KO-s) and finally ended the super featherweight fight with two knockdowns via lefts to the body in the 10th round of a scheduled 12-round match for a regional title.

The smooth moving Barrett found the busier Gill more complex than expected and for the first nine rounds was fighting a 50/50 fight against the fellow British fighter from the small town of Chatteris north of London.

In the 10th round after multiple shots on the body of Gill, a left hook to the ribs collapsed the Chatteris fighter to the floor. He willed himself up and soon after was floored again but this time by a left to the solar plexus. Again he continued but was belted around until the referee stopped the onslaught by Barrett at 2:44 of the 10th.

“A tough, tough fighter,” said Barrett about Gill. “I had to work hard.”

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O.J. Simpson the Boxer: A Heartwarming Tale for the Whole Family

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O.J. Simpson passed away on Wednesday, April 10, at age 76 in Las Vegas where he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. For millions of Americans, news of his passing unloosed a flood of memories.

The O.J. Simpson double murder trial lasted 37 weeks. CNN and two other fledgling cable networks provided gavel-to-gavel coverage. On Oct. 3, 1995, the day that the jury rendered its verdict, CBS, NBC, ABC, and ESPN suspended regular programming to cover the trial. Worldwide, more than 100 million people were reportedly glued to their TV or radio.

O.J.’s life can be neatly compartmentalized into two halves. The dividing line is June 12, 1994. On that date, Simpson’s estranged wife, the former Nicole Brown, and her friend Ronald Goldman were found stabbed to death in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood at the home that Nicole shared with their two children.

Before then, O.J. was famous. After then, he was infamous.

Simpson first came to the fore on the gridiron. In 1968, his final season at the University of Southern California, he was so dynamic that he won the Heisman Trophy in a landslide, out-distancing Purdue’s Leroy Keyes by 1,750 votes. This was the widest margin to that point between a Heisman winner and runner-up and a milestone that stood for 51 years until surpassed by LSU quarterback Joe Burrows in 2019.

In the NFL, among his many achievements, he became the first and only NFL running back to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards in a 14-game season, a record that will never be broken.

But one can’t appreciate the depth of O.J.s celebrityhood by citing statistics. He transcended his sport like few athletes before or since. Owing in large part to his commercials for the Hertz rental car chain, he became one of America’s most recognizable people.

O.J. Simpson was raised by a single mother in a government housing project in the gritty Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. Unlike many of his boyhood peers, he was never quick to raise his fists. Weirdly, he once said that running away from fights proved useful to him when he took up football. It helped his stamina.

Although he never boxed in real life, O.J. portrayed a boxer in a made-for-TV movie. Titled “Goldie and the Boxer,” it aired on NBC on Sunday, Dec. 29, 1979, two weeks after O.J. played in his last NFL game. Co-produced by Simpson’s own production company, it starred O.J. opposite precocious Melissa Michaelson who played the 10-year-old Goldie.

In promos, the movie was tagged as a heartwarming tale for kids and their parents. Associated Press writer John Egan described it as “a cross between the Shirley Temple classic ‘Little Miss Marker’ and a low-budget ‘Rocky.’”

Here’s a synopsis, compliments of New York Times TV critic John J. O’Connor:

“The year is 1946, and Joe Gallagher is returning to Louisiana as an army veteran. He is quickly ripped off by a succession of thugs and finds himself broke and battered in Pennsylvania where he is befriended by a young Goldie. Her father is a boxer and Joe joins the training camp as a sparring partner. When the father dies, Joe takes his place on the fight circuit and Goldie becomes his manager…”

The consensus of the pundits was that O.J. the actor was very much a work in progress, but that he had great potential. And the movie, despite its hokey plot, attracted so many viewers that NBC wanted to turn it into a series.

O.J. had too much on his plate to commit to doing a regular series. Among other things, he had signed on to become part of NBC’s main stable of reporters at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, a gig that evaporated when the U.S. under President Jimmy Carter joined 64 other nations in boycotting the Games as a protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. However, the movie did spawn a sequel, “Goldie and the Boxer Go To Hollywood,” with Simpson and Michaelson reprising their roles.

I never met O.J. Simpson, but have a vivid memory of finding myself walking behind him into the outdoor boxing arena at Caesars Palace. If memory serves, this was the Hagler-Hearns fight of 1985, in which case the lady on his arm would have been Nicole as they were married earlier that year. She was quite a dish in that tight-fitting pantsuit and I remember thinking to myself, “of all the trophies this dude has won, here is the best trophy of them all.” (Forgive me.)

Simpson had cameo roles in several movies before leaving USC. When he finally turned his back on football, the world was his oyster. O.J., wrote Barry Lorge in the Washington Post, was “bright, affable, charming, articulate and credible, a public relation man’s dream-come true.”

No one would have foreseen the swerve his life would take.

When the jury, after only four hours of deliberation, returned a verdict of “not guilty,” there was cheering in some corners of America. The overwhelming consensus of the white population, however, was that the verdict was an abomination, a gross miscarriage of justice.

We’ll leave it at that.

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