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Open Scoring in Boxing: Yes or No? Part Two of a TSS Survey

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(PART TWO: M-W): We asked 48 noted boxing buffs how they felt about open scoring. Specifically we asked, “Are you in favor of open scoring whereby the scores of the judges would be revealed after each round or at one or more intervals during the fight? If so, why? If not, why not?”

The respondents are listed alphabetically. Part One (A-L) ran yesterday (Tuesday, Oct. 2). Here’s the concluding segment. A hearty thanks to all that took the time to share their thoughts.

ADEYINKA MAKINDEU.K. barrister, writer and contributor to the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Boxing. Open scoring would detract from the drama of what the final decision will be should the fight endure to the allocated distance. So entertainment wise, it is not of particular value. Neither is its value enhanced in so far as the notion that it might improve the quality of judging. After all, the idea surely is not to put pressure on a judge whose scoring appears off base to a section of the crowd, or to substitute judges mid-fight for “getting things wrong.” This is a non-issue. Instead the focus should be on determining the professional competence of judges as well as their integrity.

JOHN McKALE–prominent boxing judge: No, 100% not in favor.  The mind through the eyes of each judge should not be compromised by anything, including what the other judges may be determining.

PAUL MAGNO–author, writer and boxing official in Mexico: I don’t like open scoring. It does absolutely nothing to help the integrity of judging, but it ruins some key elements of intrigue and suspense when it comes to the fight and the announcing of a winner. If boxing is serious about judging reform, then they need to do the only thing that matters– overhaul the entire incestuous system and create more of a separation between the promoters and the selection of officials.

SCOOP MALINOWSKI—boxing writer, author, “Mr. Biofile”: Open scoring is just another system that can be corrupted and surely will be corrupted. I’d rather see former pro boxers and champions in the role as judges, but they can be corrupted too.

LARRY MERCHANT—HBO boxing commentator emeritus; 2009 IBHOF inductee: I’m opposed to open scoring because  I witnessed a couple of such experiments that fell flat. Either the winning fighter, knowing the score, coasted through the late rounds and/or the losing fighter failed to respond, accepting defeat. The drama of uncertainty works best in prize fighting.

ROBERT MLADINICHformer NYPD police detective, author and boxing writer: I am not in favor of open scoring because awaiting a close decision is much of the fun of a good, close fight. Unfortunately the judges often get it wrong, which ruins the entire experience. That does not justify the open scoring. There should just be better judges.

HARRY OTTY—author, historian, part-time boxing coach: Absolutely in favor of ‘open scoring.’ How many close fights may have had a different result if the corner that felt they were ahead knew, without doubt, that they were actually behind with a couple of rounds left in the fight? I have coached amateur boxers for over 30 years and the closed scoring sucks – corruption is also rife. The best period we had was when the computer scoring (a button-push for each punch landed – not an ideal set up) was revealed at the end of each round. If you lost the first of three you at least had the option to alter tactics. Boxers/coaches who can adapt to what is happening as a result of the known score would also be proving their skill/superiority in the ring. TACTICS! From an open and transparent perspective it may have the side effect of making all judges (promoters/governing bodies) more accountable.

MARY ANN LURIE OWEN–boxing photojournalist extraordinaire:  In 12-round title fights, scores should be announced after the 4th and 8th rounds.

JOE PASQUALE – prominent judge and recent NJ Boxing Hall of Fame inductee: As a fan, my thoughts are that this is the one sport that holds the suspense of the outcome until the third judge’s score is read by the ring announcer. Also, I have worked a few of these score progressions announced throughout the fight. The fighter with the big lead going into the later rounds just stopped engaging and coasted the last few rounds, taking the edge off a good fight with the possibility of a stoppage going into that tough 12th round.

DAVID PAYNE—U.K. boxing writer: I’m not in favor. Open scoring impacts intent of fighters and crowd reaction impacts officials.

J. RUSSELL PELTZ—venerable Philadelphia boxing promoter and 2004 IBHOF inductee: Terrible idea. A boxer with a big lead avoids contact down the stretch. Takes away suspense. Better solution is to get better judges.

ADAM POLLACK–author, publisher, and boxing official: There are pros and cons. The pro is it would allow the fighter who was behind to make adjustments and potentially fight harder, because it would make him realize that what he was doing was not as effective in the judges’ minds as he thought it was. On the other hand, it can allow one fighter to coast if he realizes he is well ahead, which can cause fights to become boring, and it eliminates the drama. When neither knows whether or not they are ahead, they fight harder, fearing the unknown. But what boxing really should do is stop using incompetent judges, and bring back the 15-round championship fight. Open scoring simply shows the fighters and the world how terrible the judging is as it is happening. It doesn’t change the fact of bad judging.

BRIAN POWERS–former fighter: Show them so the fighter knows and can turn it up if he’s behind.

JACQUIE RICHARDSON–Executive Director, Retired Boxers Foundation: I fail to see what difference that would make. Good judges will be good judges and bad judges will remain bad judges. The only positive outcome would be if the corners know, and the boxers come out and make adjustments to more convincingly win rounds. Another positive thing would be to see if the judges know what ring generalship is and the real difference between power shots and pity-pats.

CLIFF ROLD—boxing writer; founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board: I’m not in favor of open scoring of any kind/time. I think it changes the approach of fighters and those with leads have an impetus to disengage. That’s bad for the entertainment factor. The second Bell-Mormeck fight at cruiserweight soured me on it. It went from eight rounds of all-out war to a chase scene.

FREDERICK ROMANO–former ESPN researcher and author:  My general feeling is I don’t believe it is necessary. It cuts both ways. Knowing a fight is dead even going into the last round could lead to some supreme efforts. It also might result in over-caution. However, I would like to hear from the fighters themselves as to whether they are in favor of it. Would they find it beneficial from a strategic standpoint? If they do, maybe we need to depart from tradition. I think what might be more important is that we improve the quality of judging. With quality judging the need for open scoring is mitigated. Also, using five judges for championship bouts might be helpful to reduce the potential impact of corruption and would overcome even two poor scorecards, saving some bouts from the wrong result.

DANA ROSENBLATT–former world middleweight champion; inspirational speaker: I am not in favor of open scoring. Although potential corruption is shrouded in part by allowing scoring to be done in a way that no one knows until the fight is over, I am not in favor of it. Instead, how about mandating that judges for all boxing matches are selected exclusively by the state boxing commissions of the states where the matches take place and not the promoters? I think this would make a difference.

LEE SAMUELS–veteran Top Rank publicist: We wouldn’t change it. There is always suspense how a fight is being scored. And in today’s world of Twitter, the top ringside writers tweet how they are scoring – that is good enough for me and for the fans who are watching.

TED SARES–TSS writer: In general, I dislike the concept but I’d be willing to see how allowing the scores to be read at the end of three rounds in ten-round fights and at the end of four in 12-round fights would work out—on a six-month trial basis.

ICEMAN JOHN SCULLY—former boxer, trainer, commentator, he’s done it all: There is no way open scoring should be allowed. It would kill all the potential for great drama in the sport of boxing. If it were implemented, it would backfire catastrophically.

MICHAEL SILVER–author, historian: I think it warrants an experiment for several months and in all fights to see how open scoring affects the fighters, corner men and fans in the arena. Mixed feelings about it but worth a try and then evaluate.

ALLAN SWYER–documentary filmmaker, writer, and producer of the acclaimed El Boxeo:Remember Oscar dancing away rounds because he knew he was far ahead in points? We’ll see far more of that kind of behavior with open scoring. My answer is a resounding NO!

DONALD L. TRELLA–prominent boxing judge: I am not a proponent of open scoring. I think part of the excitement that is generated by boxing is the announcement of the winner at the end of the fight. Everyone is on edge and anxious to hear the scores. There are also many ways a fighter can use open scoring to their advantage and diminish the action. For example, if a fighter is way ahead after seven rounds and has a shutout going, what’s the benefit of mixing it up the rest of the way? The fighter in the lead could just dance and stay out of the fray for the remaining five rounds leading to a very boring bout. Another example might be where a fighter is injured by an accidental foul. After four rounds are completed and he knows he’s ahead, he may say he can’t continue due to the injury and win the fight knowing what the score is after 4 rounds. What if a judge realizes he is wide compared to the other judges, does he start to score rounds differently to bring his or her scoring more in line with the other two judges? Very little upside… lots of down side. I actually could go on and on with a lot of examples.

GARY “DIGITAL” WILLIAMSthe voice of “Boxing on the Beltway”: I am totally against open scoring.  This takes the excitement of wondering what the final judge’s score will be.  Back in April of 1999, there was the Triple Jeopardy card in DC where they tried three types of open scoring — announcing the score after four rounds, after six rounds and after every round.  Mark Johnson’s bout was the one tried after every round.  After the bout, Mark told me that he knew after about eight rounds that he was well ahead on points so he just coasted to the win. Fans did not get a chance to see his true greatness. Open scoring just does not work on any level.

BEAU WILLIFORD–former trainer and the glue of boxing in Cajun Country:  I favor open scoring either way. I think open scoring would provide better boxing matches!

PETER WOOD–former fighter, writer,author: I’m all for the transparency of open scoring, but it wouldn’t work the way we would like. A boxing match’s emotionally-charged environment can be dangerous—and VERY dangerous to a judge who doesn’t score a round like the crowd wants it to be scored. The masses are asses and judges would be too easily influenced and swayed for their own safety

OBSERVATIONS:

Those opposed to Open Scoring overwhelmed those for it by a margin of 40-9. Jim Lampley said he was against it because it kills suspense for fans, places fighters at risk if they fall behind and then take risks not warranted by their abilities, while conversely encouraging a leading fighter to take fewer risks — and risk is at the heart of the sport. Larry Merchant added that he had witnessed a couple of such experiments that fell flat. Either the winning fighter, knowing the score, coasted through the late rounds and/or the losing fighter failed to respond, accepting defeat. The drama of uncertainty works best in prize fighting. J. Russell Peltz, in common with several other respondents, said a better solution is to get better judges. Another frequently-heard comment was pinpointed colorfully by Peter Wood: “A boxing match’s emotionally-charged environment can be dangerous—and VERY dangerous to a judge who doesn’t score a round like the crowd wants it to be scored.” And Steve Farhood summed things up nicely by stating, “..it places undue pressure on the judges and eliminates one of the most dramatic moments in boxing–when the ring announcer reads the final scores in a close fight.”

Some of those in favor, such as Bill Caplan and Mary Ann Owen, favored the WBC plan of open scoring during intervals, rather than after every round. And others thought there would be value in trying it for a trial period.

Ted Sares is one of the oldest active power lifters and is the oldest Strongman competitor in the United States. He recently won the Maine State Championship in his class. He is a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame.

 Photo: Julio Cesar Chavez and Pernell Whitaker battle to a controversial draw in San Antonio.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.

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High Drama at Turning Stone where Ford Rallied to Overcome Kholmatov

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Top Rank Promotions was at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York, tonight with a 9-bout card topped by a pair of world featherweight title fights. The main go for the WBA diadem vacated by Leigh Wood shaped up as a fan-friendly match and exceeded expectations. In a doozy of a fight, Raymond Ford pulled the fight out of the fire in the final minute, halting Otabek Kholmatov to become the third man from Camden, New Jersey to win a world title following in the footsteps of Jersey Joe Walcott and Dwight Muhammad Qawi.

This was a match with several twists and turns. Kholmatov, a 25-year-old Uzbek who resides in south Florida when he isn’t training with the Diaz brothers in the California desert, started fast, forcing Ford to change his tactics and become more of the aggressor. Heading into the final round, Kholmatov was ahead by three points on two of the scorecards while Ford had a 1-point advantage on the other. Moreover, it appeared as if the momentum had shifted back in favor of the Uzbek. But Ford, bleeding from a cut under his left eye, saved his best for last. He landed a punch that began a sequence that ended with Kholmatov turning his back on Ford as he reeled drunkenly into a corner post. There were 7 seconds remaining in the fight when referee Charlie Fitch waived it off.

Ford, with his promoter Eddie Hearn in attendance, improved his ledger to 15-0-1 with his eighth win inside the distance. It was the first pro loss for Kholmatov who had knocked out 11 of his previous 12 opponents and went to post a small favorite.

Co-Feature

The ESPN announcing crew created the impression that the IBF title fight between Luis Alberto Lopez and Reiya Abe was a 50/50 fight, but the oddsmakers who installed Lopez an 8/1 favorite knew better. Mexicali’s ever-improving Lopez, in his third defense of the title he won in England with an upset of Josh Warrington, dominated from the onset before ending matters in the opening minute of the eighth round.

Abe, 25-3-1 heading in, was making his first start outside Japan. It was all uphill for him after his right eye started to swell shut in the second round. Lopez, who improved to 30-2 (17 KOs) continued to stalk him and finally cranked up the juice in round eight, forcing referee Mark Nelson to step in and save Abe from future punishment. Nelson, to his everlasting credit, took the fight out of the hands of the ring doctor who was remiss in allowing the match to continue as long as it did.

UNDERCARD

A bloody welterweight contest slated for “10” between Atlanta’s Brian Norman Jr (25-0, 19 KOs heading in) and Detroit’s Janelson Bocachica (17-2-1) was called off after three rounds and declared a “no decision.”

Bocachica, blood streaming from a cut in the corner of his left eye, put Norman on the canvas with an overhand right in the opening frame. Norman hadn’t previously been knocked down. Over the next two rounds, Norman suffered a bad cut in the corner of his right eye and Bocachica suffered a cut on his hairline that bled profusely. Replays showed that Bocachica’s cuts were the result of accidental head buts and that Norman’s cut resulted from an elbow.

In a spirited 6-round junior welterweight match for Empire State bragging rights, Syracuse’s Bryce Mills (15-1, 5 KOs) turned away Buffalo’s Gerffred Ngayot, winning a unanimous decision by scores of 58-56 and 60-54 twice.

Mills, 22, brought a large contingent of fans and he rewarded them with a busy-bee performance that animated the crowd. A native of war-torn Congo who has lived in western New York since the age of six, Ngayot declined to 6-2.

In the first stoppage of the evening, Troy Isley, in his second fight with the noted trainer Brian “Bomac” McIntyre in his corner, halted Fresno’s Marcos Hernandez at the 1:30 mark of round seven. A counter right hand did the damage. Hernandez (16-7-2) stumbled face first to the canvas and although he beat the count, referee Mark Nelson properly said “enough.”

This was the best performance of his pro career by Isley (12-0, 5 KOs).

Twenty-year-old Las Vegas bantamweight Floyd “Cashflow” Diaz improved to 11-0 (3 KOs) with a unanimous decision over Puerto Rico’s Edwin Rodriguez (12-8-2). This was Cashflow’s first fight training under the aforementioned “Bomac.” A 30-year-old father of four who has never been stopped, Rodriguez was never in serious danger.

Tokyo Olympian Rohan Polanco, a Dominican who has been training in Massachusetts, advanced to 12-0 (7) with a dominant 8-round decision over Tarik Zaina. The scores were 78-72 and 79-71 twice. Polanco scored knockdowns in each of the last two rounds, the first more of a push but the second legitimate and he would have likely won by stoppage if the bout had lasted 10 seconds longer. It was the first pro loss for the Morocco-born Zaina (13-1-1) who fights out of Tijuana.

Las Vegas middleweight Nico Ali Walsh (10-1, 1 NC 5 KOs) won a workmanlike 6-round decision over Cincinnati’s Charles Stanford (7-6). The judges had it 59-55 and 60-54 twice.

Ali Walsh was making his second start with Ismael Salas in his corner. Stanford, 37, fought 15 days ago at Madison-Square Garden on the undercard of Foster-Nova, losing a 6-round decision to an undefeated opponent.

In the lid-lifter, heavyweight Brandon Moore (14-0, 8 KOs) won a ho-hum 8-round decision over flabby Utah trial horse Helamon Olguin (9-7-1).

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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Jake Paul KOs Ryan Bourland but Amanda Serrano’s Fight Falls Out

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Jake Paul brought his brand of boxing to Puerto Rico along with Amanda Serrano but it wasn’t all roses and champagne despite another first round knockout by the influencer boxer on Saturday.

Puerto Rican seven-division titlist Serrano was forced to pull out of the featherweight world championship match due to a damaged cornea.

Doctors would not allow her to fight.

“I wanted to fight,” said a tearful Serrano.

No matter, Paul (9-1, 6 KOs) carried the show with a devastating knockout win over American cruiserweight Ryan Bourland (17-3, 6 KOs) before a sold-out crowd of more than 18,000 fans at Coliseo Jose Miguel Agrelot in San Juan.

Once again Paul fought a legitimate pro boxer and once again he mowed down another prizefighter via first round knockout. The continuously improving Paul who moved around like a seasoned veteran while punishing the body of Bourland.

Body shots followed by a blazing combination of blows proved too much for North Dakota’s Bourland. After several volleys of blows it was apparent that Paul had hurt the cruiserweight with a left hook to the chin and then a follow-up barrage had Bourland in a save-me-defensive stance. The referee stepped in and stopped the action at 2:37 of the first round.

“I was hoping for more rounds,” said Paul after the speedy knockout. “I’m just to glad to be in Puerto Rico.”

Now making his residence in Puerto Rico, the new age fighter stood behind Serrano as she explained to the crowd that she was not able to fight Germany’s Nina Meinke in the main event due to an eye injury. Apparently, it may have occurred during the braiding of her hair two days ago.

“I want to say I’m so sorry,” Serrano said in tears. “I’m a warrior and I would never agree to cancel a fight.”

Nina Meinke who was poised to challenge Serrano was surprised but supportive of Serrano.

“I’m so sorry. I’m absolutely gutted,” Meinke said.

Paul, whose company Most Valuable Promotions backs her, said that every fan in attendance could get refunds. He also said they would try and re-schedule Serrano versus Meinke in the future.

Other Bouts

Despite 12 rounds of holding and clinching WBO light flyweight titlist Jonathan “Bomba” Gonzalez (28-3-1) retained the title by unanimous decision over number one challenger Rene Santiago (12-4). It was a strange decision that saw Santiago land the clearer and more accurate punching. Both fighters are from Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico’s Krystal Rosario (3-0) won a very close scrap against Los Angeles fighter Gloria Munguilla (5-1) by majority decision. Rosario was bigger, faster and stronger but Munguilla was able to connect at times with more flush punches.

Actor Wanna Walton (1-0-1) and Californian Joshua Torres (0-1-2) fought to a majority draw after four rounds in a super featherweight fight. Neither fighter fired many blows in the four-round affair.

Christopher Diaz (28-4, 18 KO+s) needed one round to figure out Headley Scott (18-2) before dropping him with a leaping left hook in the second round. After Scott beat the count Diaz connected with another left hook to end the fight.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 274: Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney in Hollywood, Jake, Amanda and More

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HOLLYWOOD, Ca.- Adorned in a white suit, Ryan “King Ry” Garcia arrived on a big white horse followed by a handful of fair maidens dressed in various colors and some twirling hula hoops into the Avalon Theater on Vine Street on Thursday.

Inside the historic theater that once served as the Hollywood Canteen during World War 2, where actors like Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis and Rita Hayworth greeted soldiers, but this time it was the boxing media waiting.

Garcia (24-1, 20 KOs) will challenge undefeated Devin Haney (31-0, 15 KOs) for the WBC super lightweight world title on April 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. DAZN pay-per-view will stream the Golden Boy Promotions card.

It doesn’t get more Hollywood than this.

Inside the 97-year-old theater, once the two opposing factions arrived, the pageantry turned into a war of words, taunts and accusations.

This is boxing.

Aside from the taunts and words of derision tossed at each other, the Haney father and son combination admitted that Garcia was the one fighter willing to fight Devin.

“He (Garcia) raised his hand when no one else did,” said Bill Haney the father.

Devin Haney sat next to his father on the stage anxious as ever to prove his talent in the prize ring. After his victory over Regis Prograis that followed wins over Vasyl Lomachenko and George Kambosos, the former undisputed lightweight world champion is now dwelling in the super lightweight division and holds the WBC version.

“I was killing myself trying to make the weight,” said Haney about moving up to the 140-pound super lightweight division.

Haney has long been familiar with Ryan Garcia since their amateur days as they met in the boxing ring six times as youths.

“They fought six times in the amateurs with both of them winning three apiece. Now they meet with championship gold and the chance at being the face of American boxing on the line,” said Oscar De La Hoya, the promoter and head of Golden Boy Promotions. “In other words, this one counts!”

Garcia and Haney have taken similar paths.

Garcia fought professionally numerous times in Mexico where it is legal to fight under the age of 18. So did Haney. Both faced unknown opponents, sometimes last-minute changes forced them to fight foes that were not originally scheduled.

As pros, the two similarly and eagerly sought to face the best opponents possible despite their inexperience. Both proved more than capable.

Garcia quickly amassed a surprisingly large following of fans through social media and through his exploits of sudden knockouts from his uncanny speed.

“Everything I have today, I earned it,” said Garcia. “Nobody gave me a handout, I never had money, I’m really a small town boy.”

Haney proved able to defeat veteran world champions feared for their technical expertise with his own buttery-smooth fighting prowess.

“I am happy to be here. I worked hard to be here. I sacrificed a lot to be here, and at the end of the day, the world will see it on April 20,” said Devin Haney.

Next month in Brooklyn the two longtime foes will be performing. Will it be the biggest grossing pay-per-view of the year 2024?

Jake and Amanda

Jake Paul and Amanda Serrano are boxing’s best tag team.

Several years ago, Paul recognized that Serrano, a seven-division world champion Puerto Rican was capable of much more than fighting on the small stage.

Genius.

Paul signed Serrano to his Most Valuable Promotions company and together they have been able to draw a mixture of fans long ignored by other promoters.

Welcome to the age of the influencers.

For the past several years Paul has fought MMA stars, boxers and other social media influencers. And when he signed Serrano she fought Katie Taylor in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden where their fight drew more than a million pay-per-views.

Paul (8-1, 5 KOs) meets Ryan Bourland (17-2, 6 KOs) in an eight-round cruiserweight fight on Saturday March 2, at Coliseo Jose Miguel Agrelot in San Juan, Puerto Rico. DAZN will stream the card.

He will be co-piloting the fight card with the great Amanda Serrano (46-2-1, 30 KOs) who will be defending the undisputed featherweight world championship against Germany’s Nina “the Brave” Meinke (18-3, 4 KOs).

Once again Serrano and Paul will share a very good fight card that also features female super flyweights Krysti Rosario-Ortiz (2-0) and Gloria Munguilla (5-0).

Others on the card include Javon “Wanna” Walton, a featherweight out of Atlanta, Georgia. If he looks familiar there is a reason. He was featured in the Sylvester Stallone film Samaritan and also appeared in the HBO series Euphoria.

Walton has always boxed and now will be a part of the Paul and Serrano team.

Paul has that magic touch for attracting fans to boxing.

Just today Most Valuable Promotions signed Indian prizefighter Neeraj Goyat. The welterweight fighter was recently seen on social media approaching Paul in his training camp and daring the fighter to meet him in the boxing ring. The short video clip attracted more than 150 million views.

Paul, ever the think-out-of-the-box promoter, signed Goyat immediately.

“In just 2.5 years, MVP has organized some of the world’s most significant boxing events, and I’m excited to work with MVP to elevate the status of professional boxing in India and bring attention to boxers from India globally,” said an excited Goyat.

“His viral callouts of Jake Paul certainly got our attention,” said MVP co-founder Nakisa Bidarian.

Out-of-the box thinking.

Fights to Watch (all times Pacific Time)

Sat. DAZN 1:30 p.m. Amanda Serrano (46-2-1) vs Nina Meinke (18-3).

Sat. ESPN+ 2:10 pm Otabek Kholmatov 12-0, 11 KOs) vs. Raymod Ford (14-0-1, 7 KOs); Luis Alberto Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs) vs Reiya Abe (25-3-1, 10 KOs)

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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