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Ortiz-Molina is Off and Wilder-Fury is On

Arne K. Lang

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Citizens Bank

Late Tuesday morning, Sept. 25, I received an e-mail from powerhouse PR firm Swanson Communications regarding Sunday’s TV fight at the Citizens Bank Center in Ontario, California, between Victor Ortiz and John Molina Jr. This was a generic press release informing boxing writers of the date, time, and location of the pre-fight press luncheon and the weigh-in, among other particulars.

Several hours later, Victor Ortiz was the subject of a story by Christian Martinez in the Ventura (CA) Daily Star. The timing was awkward.

Martinez informed his readers that Ortiz had turned himself in to authorities in Oxnard, California, where he was wanted on three counts of sexual assault. The charges related to an incident that happened in March. As reporter Martinez noted, this wasn’t Ortiz’s first brush with the law. He was on probation for a DUI offense. His bail was set at $100,000.

In the Internet Age, news spreads like wildfire, especially if the news is in regard to some scandal. Within hours, Martinez’s story was being rehashed on dozens of web sites.

As of Wednesday morning, Ortiz was free on bail and the fight was still on. All things considered, it shaped up as a doozy, notwithstanding the fact that Ortiz and Molina are friends and both are on the wrong side of the hill. Ortiz, a former WBC world welterweight champion, and Molina, a two-time world title challenger, were seldom in a dull fight. Ortiz’s 2011 rumble with Andre Berto was named the 2011 Fight of the Year by The Ring magazine. He would subsequently appear on “Dancing With the Stars” where his story of growing up in a dysfunctional home – he spent part of his youth in foster care – earned him legions of new fans.

It didn’t seem right that the fight would still happen, not in this day and age, not with the “Me Too” movement having gained so much traction and, predictably, it has now been cancelled. It was John Molina, not co-promoters Al Haymon or Richard Schaefer, or their spokespeople, who broke the news.

“All right guys,” said Molina in a video, “the fight has been officially cancelled obviously due to uncontrollable circumstances from Team Ortiz. Team Molina was ready. To all my friends, family and fans, that were ready to see me get down on Sunday, I’ll be in the house still, but I apologize.” (Odd that he would apologize when it wasn’t his fault.)

The show will go on without the Ortiz-Molina fight, and even without it, it’s an interesting show. The 10-round contest between undefeated Tex-Mex featherweight Brandon Figueroa and Columbia’s Oscar Escandon (25-4), a former world title challenger, shapes up as a very competitive scrap. Two hot heavyweight prospects, Joe Joyce and Efe Ajagba, and promising Philadelphia featherweight Stephen Fulton will be showcased on the undercard.

Joyce (5-0, 5 KOs) represented Great Britain in the 2016 Olympics and emerged with a bronze medal after losing a split decision to eventual champion Tony Yoka in the semifinals. He currently hangs his hat at Abel Sanchez’s compound in Big Bear where he will soon have a new sparring partner, Tyson Fury.

Joyce, who is on the fast track, is pitted against Iago Kiladze (26-3), an LA-based fighter from the Republic of Georgia.

Ajagba (6-0, 5 KOs) also participated in the Rio Olympics. An imposing physical specimen, he was the only boxer from Nigeria to qualify. He won his first pro fight in 25 seconds and his fifth pro fight in 35 seconds. His last bout entered the books as a win by disqualification when his opponent, Curtis Harper, returned to his dressing room at the sound of the opening bell.

Harper said he was making a statement about his purse. Co-promoter Schaefer had a different take on it. In Schaefer’s view, Harper took one look at Ajagba and wet his pants.

The 24-year-old Fulton (13-0, 6 KOs) is paired against Mexican trial horse German Meraz in an 8-round affair. This figures to go a few rounds. Meraz, who turned pro in 2005 at age 18, has been stopped only eight times in 112 bouts.

The Joyce, Ajagba, and Fulton bouts will be on TV along with Figueroa-Escandon. The Sunday night show will air on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes.

WILDER-FURY

Unless someone gets injured in training, the highly-anticipated match between WBC heavyweight title holder Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) and former lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) will take place on Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. This wasn’t the first choice of Fury’s promoter Frank Warren but the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas was unavailable. The bout will air on SHOWTIME PPV.

Next week Wilder and Fury will embark on a whirlwind three day, three city tour. On Monday, Nov. 1, the two will face off in London. Then it’s off to New York and then Los Angeles. All three events will be open to the public.

The star of these sessions will be the colorful, bombastic Fury, the self-styled Gypsy King. In his view, the heavyweight division currently consists of himself and a bunch of bums.

Photo credit: Luis Mejia / Ringstar Sports

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Daniel Jacobs Edges Past Gabe Rosado on a Matchroom card in Florida

David A. Avila

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Former world champion Daniel Jacobs needed the last round to win by split decision against upset-minded Gabe Rosado and keep his place in line on Friday for lucrative super middleweight matchups.

But when the ring announcer erroneously announced the winner was from Philadelphia, confusion reigned for a moment until Jacobs was correctly called the winner.

Brooklyn’s Jacobs (37-3, 30 KOs) jumped out ahead against Philly fighter Rosado (25-13-1, 14 KOs) and held on for the win in front of no fans at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. For a second, many thought Rosado had won.

Both were careful during the first three rounds measuring each other’s distance and looking for openings to counter. There were very few.

It was the kind of fight expected by those who know boxing: two veterans with immense experience against top-flight world champions. Mistakes were few.

Jacobs, a former middleweight world champion, had fought Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in close but losing efforts.

Rosado had battled Golovkin too, six years ago in a bloody affair that ended in a loss. He had also lost to other champions like Peter Quillin and Jermell Charlo. But none were able to knock him out.

Both were aware of each other’s reputation. Bitter words had been exchanged for years and now they finally got their chance to prove their mettle and they did.

Though Jacobs was recognized as a knockout puncher, Rosado’s resilience was just as well known. Both neutralized each other for most of the fight with their feints and jabs to the body. Neither was willing to leave openings for each other.

Jacobs scored big with a left uppercut at the end of the seventh round. While Rosado wowed viewers with a sizzling right cross in the 11th round.

It was 1950s style, boxing with intelligence. Each found it difficult to land combinations, let alone find openings to score knockout blows. Instead, they had to be satisfied with scoring enough to convince three judges the actual winner.

Neither was able to pull out ahead with any conviction.

After 12 rounds one judge saw Rosado the winner 115-113 while two others saw Jacobs the winner 115-113 to give him the win by split decision.

“It felt just a little weird. It felt like a sparring match,” said Jacobs about fighting without fans in the audience. “This wasn’t a valiant effort.”

Rosado was certain he was the true winner.

“I thought I won the fight. I surprised him,” said Rosado who trained with Freddie Roach for this fight. “I’m a veteran, I know how to fight.”

Indeed, he does.

Jacobs now stands poised to fight one of many super middleweight champions in need of a marquee name.

“I live to see another day,” he said honestly.

Other Bouts

Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Yeleussinov (10-0, 6 KOs) proved he was not an easy touch and knocked out former world champion Julius Indongo (23-3, 12 KOs) to march forward in the welterweight division while grabbing the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title.

In a fight featuring southpaw versus southpaw Yeleussinov caught Indongo with a roundhouse left the first time they exchanged and down went the former super lightweight world champion. Indongo beat the count and survived the round.

Indongo wasn’t as lucky in the second round as Yeleussinov again connected with a left and down went the fighter from Namibia again. He would not get up at 1:24 of round two giving the knockout win for Yeleussinov.

A battle between undefeated heavyweights saw Azerbaijan’s Mahammadrasul Majidov (3-0, 3 KOs) use roundhouse rights to stagger the heavier Sahret Delgado (8-1) to win by knockout in the third round. Majidov actually helped Delgado get to his stool after knocking him out on his feet at 47 seconds of the third round.

Emmanuel Tagoe (32-1) defeated Mason Menard (36-5) by majority decision after a 10- round lightweight fight that saw a lot of clinching and leaning.

Nikita “White Chocolate” Ababiy (10-0) out-fought Detroit’s Brandon Maddox (7-4-1) to win by unanimous decision after six rounds in a middleweight clash. Ababiy hurt Maddox with body shots but found Maddox more resilient than expected.

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Pradabsri Upsets Menayothin, Ends the Longest Unbeaten Streak of Modern Times

Arne K. Lang

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Pradabsri-Upsets-Menayothin-Ends-the-Longest-Unbeaten-Streak-of-Modern-Times

During the wee hours in the Americas, a big upset was brewing in Thailand. In Nakhon Sawan, a city roughly 150 miles north of Bangkok, Panya Pradabsri (aka Petchmanee CP Freshmart) out-pointed Wanheng Menayothin (aka Chayaphon Moonsri) in a domestic clash with international significance. Manayothin entered the bout with a 54-0 (18) record and was making the 13th defense of his WBC world minimumweight title.

Pradabsri had been defeated only once in 35 previous starts, but only 11 of his 34 victories had come against fighters with winning records. According to ringside reports, he kept Menayothin at bay with good fundamentals, a stiff jab, and good lateral movement. All three judges had it 115-113. The fight wasn’t without controversy as Menayothin finished stronger and many folks scoring off the live video thought that he had done just enough to retain his title.

How good was/is Menayothin? That’s a question that serious boxing fans will likely debate for decades.

In the summer of 2019, Menayothin signed a co-promotional deal with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. At time, GBP president Eric Gomez described him as one of the best fighters in the world. “We really want to bring him to the U.S. so people can see how talented he really is,” Gomez told England’s Sky Sports.

Menayothin was expected to make his U.S. debut in April of this year, but the pandemic ruined that plan. Earlier this year, he announced his retirement, but rescinded it after only two days.

Scottish boxing historian Matt McGrain, who has an exclusive arrangement with this web site, had lukewarm opinion of the Thai mighty-mite although he rated him the second-best 105-pound boxer of the decade, trailing only his countryman Thammanoon Niyomtrong (aka Knockout CP Freshmart).

“He is disciplined, strong, brings good pressure and is armed with a very decent range of punches,” said McGrain, “(but his record) is comprised mostly of men any competent fighter would be expected to beat.”

Although only one boxer from Thailand has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (Khaosai Galaxy, class of 1999), the Southeast Asia nation has produced some outstanding boxers over the years – Chartchoi Chionoi, Sot Chitalada, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to name just a few. The difference between these fighters and Wanheng Menayothin is that they all left the comfort zone of their homeland to score one or more important wins on foreign soil.

Menayothin may yet display his wares in a U.S. ring. But at age 35, an advanced age for small fighters in particular, we won’t get to see him at his best and now that his bubble has been burst, disinviting further comparisons to Mayweather and Marciano, the curiosity factor has been tempered.

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Yoka vs. Hammer Kicks Off the Thanksgiving Weekend Slate on ESPN+

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PRESS RELEASE— Tony Yoka, the dynamic heavyweight punching Parisian, aims to impress in his ESPN platform debut. Yoka, who won a super heavyweight gold medal for France at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will fight veteran Christian Hammer in a 10-rounder Friday at H Arena in Nantes, France.

Yoka-Hammer will stream live and exclusively this Friday, Nov. 27 in the United States on ESPN+ beginning at 2:55 p.m. ET/11:55 a.m. PT.

The ESPN+ stream will also include the return of unbeaten 2016 French Olympic gold medalist Estelle Yoka-Mossely against Pasa Malagic in an eight-round lightweight bout. Yoka and Yoka-Mossely, who have been married since 2018, welcomed their second child in May.

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Earlier this year, Yoka inked a promotional agreement with Top Rank, which will co-promote him with Ringstar France.

“Tony Yoka’s potential is limitless, and he is a grounded young man who is motivated to be a great professional fighter,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “France has never had a world heavyweight champion, and I believe Tony is the one to bring the sport’s biggest honor home.”

The 28-year-old Yoka’s stellar amateur run included a berth at the 2012 London Olympics and gold medals at the 2015 World Championships and 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Before his triumph in Rio, he’d already defeated the likes of former heavyweight world champion Joseph Parker and current undefeated prospects Joe Joyce and Ivan Dychko. At the Rio Olympics, he defeated Croatian standout Filip Hrgović in the semifinals and edged Joyce in the gold medal match.

As a professional, Yoka (8-0, 7 KOs) made his debut in June 2017 with a second-round stoppage over the previously undefeated Travis Clark. Apart from a decision win over Jonathan Rice in his second outing, Yoka has stopped every foe, including durable Englishman David “White Rhino” Allen and former European champion Alexander Dimitrenko. He made his 2020 debut Sept. 25 and stopped former world title challenger Johann Duhaupas in one round.

Hammer (25-6, 15 KOs) has fought many of the leading heavyweight names during his 12-year career, falling short against Tyson Fury, Luis Ortiz and Alexander Povetkin. He’s notched myriad upset victories, including a highlight-reel knockout over David Price and a 2016 split decision over Erkan Teper for the WBO European belt. In March 2019, he went the 10-round distance against Ortiz and has not been stopped since Fury forced him to retire on his stool after eight rounds in their February 2015 clash.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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