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3 Punch Combo: Introducing Bogdan Dinu (Say Who?), a Road Map for Usyk and More

Matt Andrzejewski

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THREE PUNCH COMBO: Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (22-0-1, 19 KO’s) headlines a card on DAZN this week from the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, KS. Originally, the aim was for him to fight Fres Oquendo but when Oquendo declined the fight a new opponent was needed. And that opponent is Bogdan Dinu (18-0, 14 KO’s) of Romania. So just who is Dinu and can he potentially threaten Miller’s rise in the heavyweight division?

Dinu, 32, did have some mild amateur success before turning pro in 2008. As a pro, he has fought in his native Romania as well as Canada, but against subpar opposition in a career that has been slow to progress. The two most recognizable names on his ledger are journeymen Kertson Manswell and Ed Perry, both of whom were dispatched in two rounds. Even the most ardent fans in the sport would not be familiar with most of the other foes Dinu has faced.

Dinu stands 6’5” and generally weighs in around 240 pounds. In watching YouTube clips, Dinu is a classic boxer- puncher who fights from the orthodox stance. He likes to work behind the left jab, circling his opponents and uses that jab as more or less a range finder. It would certainly not be described as a “stiff” jab.

In the clips I watched, the right hand is the punch that most often comes in spots behind the jab. It is only thrown occasionally and only when Dinu sees an opening. It is thrown in a looping motion and though it is a punch that has hurt inferior foes it does not seem like a punch that the better heavyweights would fear.

Defensively, there are some areas of concern. In all the clips I watched, Dinu often held his left hand low. Maybe this was a tactic to bait opponents into throwing but against better heavyweights this could be disastrous. And head movement seems nonexistent.

Bogdan Dinu may have a glossy record but frankly I think Miller’s last opponent, 41-year-old Tomasz Adamek, posed more of a threat. The power of Dinu is not as good as the record indicates, he doesn’t possess much in terms of hand speed and he is just not that athletic inside the ring. Defensively, unless he tightens some things up he will be easy pickings for the heavy handed Miller. To my eyes, this fight ends whenever “Big Baby” wants it to end.

The “Mean Machine” Faces a Dangerous Test

Top Rank Boxing on ESPN returns this week from the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK. The card is headlined by WBO 140-pound champion Maurice Hooker (24-0-3, 16 KO’s) making his first title defense against Oklahoma City’s own Alex Saucedo (28-0, 18 KO’s). While this should be a very good fight, it is the main undercard bout that has more of my interest. That contest features a battle of undefeated welterweights when Egidijus “The Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (20-0, 16 KO’s) takes on Roberto Arriaza (17-0, 13 KO’s).

Those who know me know that for quite some time I have been very high on Kavaliauskas. Coming up the ladder, there just seemed to be something potentially very special about him. It just wasn’t that he was winning and knocking opponents out, it was the way he was knocking them out that was opening eyes. Kavaliauskas was displaying eye popping heavy handed power along with speed that had some, including myself, thinking not only that he’d be a future champion but a future superstar wrecking ball in the mode of Gennady Golovkin.

However, despite the fact the he has kept on winning, Kavaliauskas, now 30, has not looked as dominant as he has stepped up in class. The power just has not looked the same and he does not appear to be growing as a fighter. Most recently, he struggled against veteran Juan Carlos Abreu. Kavaliauskas was unable to cut off the ring, often was too squared up to land an effective punch, and lacked head movement which resulted in him getting caught clean in spots. The lack of progression at this stage in his career has to be concerning for him and his team.

In Arriaza, a 28-year-old Nicaraguan, Kavaliauskas is facing his most dangerous opponent to date. Arriaza is a big strong welterweight and an aggressive fighter by nature. But it is not reckless aggression. He will look to get into the range of his opponents using a stiff well timed left jab. Once in range, he will look to land the right hand. That right hand has scored some highlight reel knockouts including one this past May in a quick destruction of then 13-1 Sammy Valentin.

This has the potential, given the aggressive styles and punching power of both fighters, to be quite a barnburner. It is also a high stakes welterweight fight with the winner being rumored to get in the mix to be the next to fight Terence Crawford. For Kavaliauskas in particular, it’s sink or swim time.

If Usyk Moves To Heavyweight, Who Could He Fight Next?

Unified cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (16-0, 12 KO’s) scored an emphatic eighth round knockout of Tony Bellew this past Saturday night. With the win, Usyk has now basically defeated all top contenders in the cruiserweight division. His next challenge appears to be north in the heavyweight division. Here are some possible opponents for his first fight as a heavyweight.

Trevor Bryan (20-0, 14 KO’s)

Bryan’s name is going to start coming up more and more as an opponent for the elite heavyweights. He is undefeated, has an interim title belt and is not tied contractually to any of the various television outlets. He would be the perfect choice for Usyk as he is a smallish heavyweight and Usyk would be fighting for some sort of belt right off the bat. Plus, although undefeated, Bryan would be a step down from anyone Usyk has fought in the last couple of years.

Andrey Fedosov (31-3, 25 KO’s)

Fedosov has won seven straight since losing to Bryant Jennings in 2013. He won the ESPN Boxcino Tournament in 2015 and is coming off a career best win against Joey Dawejko. Like Bryan, Fedosov is a smaller heavyweight and has no television contracts to impede a fight. Though solid, Fedosov is a plodding fighter who is easy to hit and stylistically makes for a good opponent for Usyk to test the waters in the division.

Bryant Jennings (24-2, 14 KO’s)

Usyk has a history of jumping right into the thick of things. If he wants to fight a top heavyweight contender right away, that opponent could very well be Jennings who is on a five fight winning streak since suffering back to back losses in 2015 to Wladimir Klitschko and Luis Ortiz. Like the others on this list, Jennings is also not a big heavyweight. Cutting a deal with Jennings would mean finding a way to work things out with Top Rank/ESPN. This could get a bit tricky but nothing that couldn’t be overcome. A dominant win against Jennings would instantly make Usyk a viable contender for the elites in the division.

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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.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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

Arne K. Lang

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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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