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“King Kong” Ortíz challenges the winner of Wilder-Fury

J.J. Alvarez

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Miami. – The Cuban Luis “King Kong” Ortíz assures us that he has gotten over his defeat against the American Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder; that he is only awaiting the highly anticipated rematch, if both are to be victorious December 1st, at the Staples Center, in Los Angeles, California.

However, it’s difficult to believe him, because that defeat has now become the thorn in his side that constantly pokes at his pride and has caused his greatest dreams to unravel on the professional stage. In that unforgettable battle, the southpaw Cuban was close, very close, to becoming the first world champion from his country in the Heavyweight division. But in the 7th round of facing “The Bronze Bomber”, he was so cautious and hesitant in order to avoid the power punches from the North American, that he lacked aggression and the necessary killer instinct to finish his opponent off, who was close to being knocked out the round before.

Wilder, another man who possesses dynamite within his fists, had a moment of weakness, but later recovered and ended the Cuban’s dreams in dramatic fashion. Wilder, although he wasn’t having much success throughout the fight, was convinced from within that he is the best in the division, and he showcased the heart of a champion, dominating the action throughout the next three rounds. “The Bronze Bomber” ended the fight in the 10th round, annihilating Ortiz and winning by TKO – he knocked him down a few times in that round and once before in the 5th on March 3rd, at the Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, New York.

Ortíz, who will turn 40 the 29th of March, insists that there is no sense in dwelling on his past failure and that he is only focused on defeating Travis “My Time” Kauffman (32-2-0, 23 KO’s), a bout that will be the co-main event of Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (40-0-0,49 KOs) vs Tyson “The Gypsy King” Fury (27-0-0,19 KOs). Ortíz believes that a victory should lead him to cross paths with the winner of the main event.  “Kauffman is a boxer that I respect, but he’s said that I am a dirty fighter, and a cheater,” stated Ortíz in front of the Miami media. “ I won’t stop against anyone in order to have an opportunity to fight for the world title.”

Ortíz, who stands 6ft 4inches tall, is coming off a dominating performance against the Romanian Razvan Cojanu this past July 28th at the Staples Center.  In order to prevent the European from taking any more unnecessary damage, referee Jerry Cantú called a stop to the contest at 2:08 in the second round.

“(Facing Kauffman) I’m going to do my best job,” added Ortíz, alongside his trainer Germán Caicedo. “Knowing that Wilder and Fury are part of the spectacle adds fuel to my fire and I want to remind them that the winner has a moral obligation of facing me. I’m not going to ask them for the fight. Someone who deserves something doesn’t ask for it.  I deserve that opportunity. And the whole world of boxing knows it. Both fans and experts want to see the rematch with Wilder. It’s only a matter of time before it comes to be.”

When asked what his advice would be to Kauffman, Ortíz stated: “For him not to talk so much and to shut his mouth, in this sport one must be humble. When both of us are inside of the ring, then it’s time to talk with our fists.”

In his exposition, Ortíz assured that he’s had a great training camp and is in excellent physical condition, ready to showcase the level of boxer that he is. “I feel better than ever, and the public will witness what I am saying,” he said with a slight smile.

When referring to who could be the winner between Wilder and Fury, the giant Cuban responded with, “They are two crazy men fighting, so there will be a lot of action. I want to face whoever God gives the opportunity to, but I believe the American will win. He’s said that he will give me the rematch. I’m going to patiently wait for him.”

On the opposing side, Kauffman is coming off a win by majority decision against Scott Alexander, the 10th of June in Lancaster, California. Two of the judges saw Kauffman win 96-94 while the other saw it a draw at 95-95. “Few people know that I broke my left foot a few weeks (before the fight) when I was running with NFL players. The doctors diagnosed it as a stress induced fracture,” said Kauffman. “But I don’t want excuses, I didn’t make any then and I won’t make any now against Ortíz.”

Fifteen months prior, Kauffman suffered the 2nd loss of his professional career, by split decision against his compatriot, the 46-year-old southpaw veteran Amir “Hardcore” Mansour (previously know as Lavern Moore) on March 17th of last year, at the Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.

“Luís Ortíz is the second best heavyweight in the world next to Deontay Wilder, who I consider to be number one,” said Kauffman. “But I’m the hardest challenge Ortíz will ever face and this is my opportunity to prove it.”  Kauffman expressed that he would not reveal his game plan against Ortíz, but he is confident he will defeat him. “If not, I wouldn’t have accepted the fight,” he stated for Boxing News.

Even though he has always denied the conscious consumption of performance enhancers, a cloud of drug use looms over Ortíz. In September of 2014, after knocking out Lateef Kayode in the 1stround, the Cuban boxer tested positive for banned substances.  Later, on September 22nd of 2017, leading up to the fight with Wilder, he had another contaminated urine sample, which tested positive for Chlorothiazide and Hydrochlorothiazide.  “When you see various failed tests, you have to question his victories,” stated Kauffman. “But today’s problem is that nobody questions anything, because everyone looks at cheating as if it were the norm.”

Translated by E.G. for J.J. Alvarez of Boxeo.tv

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NEWS FLASH: Leon Spinks Hospitalized; Reportedly Fighting for His Life

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The gossip site TMZ is reporting that Leon Spinks is hospitalized in Las Vegas and is fighting for his life. TMZ acquired this information from Spinks’ wife Brenda Glur Spinks after spying her social media post. “It’s been a tough year for us,” she wrote. “Leon has endured a lot of medical problems. I’m reaching to ask that you pray for my Beautiful Husband Leon. So that he may overcome the obstacles that crossed his path.”

Her sentiment was echoed by Leon’s son Leon Spinks III who posted this message on his facebook page: “My Dad isn’t doing so good now and his wife Brenda Glur Spinks and I ask that u pray that he weather’s this storm. My dad is all I have left and I really appreciate it if yall let God know that he is not in this battle alone.”

A gold medal winner at the 1976 Olympics, Spinks, 66, is best remembered for upsetting Muhammad Ali in 1978 to win the world heavyweight title. He lost the title back to Ali in his next fight.

This is a developing story. As new details emerge, we will share them with you.

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Crawford-Kavaliauskas is the Main Go, but ‘The Takeover’ is the Stronger Allurement

Arne K. Lang

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Crawford-Kavaliauskas is the Main Go, but ‘The Takeover’ is the Stronger Allurement

Terence Crawford puts his undefeated record and his WBO welterweight title on the line Saturday when he opposes Egidijus Kavaliauskas at Madison Square Garden on ESPN. Kavaliauskas is no slouch. The two-time Olympian for Lithuania is also undefeated (21-0-1, 17 KOs), but Crawford is so highly regarded that he is a massive favorite.

If one were arranging the bouts according to the degree of intrigue, using the odds as the barometer, Crawford vs Kavaliauskas wouldn’t sit atop the marquee. That honor would go the IBF lightweight title fight between Richard Commey and Teofimo Lopez. Moreover, it’s a fair guess that if this fight were to fall out (perish the thought) it would result in more refunds than if Crawford were a late scratch.

The challenger, Lopez, is favored, currently in the vicinity of 9/4, but this is a price that usually translates into a very competitive fight and the stakes are high. The winner will almost assuredly advance to a rich engagement with Vasiliy Lomachenko who holds the other three meaningful 135-pound title belts

Commey (29-2, 26 KOs) won the IBF lightweight title – it was conveniently vacant – with a second-round stoppage of Russia’s Isa Chaniev and stopped Raymundo Beltran in eight rounds in his first title defense. Commey dominated both fights, scoring seven knockdowns in all, but the Russian was a sad excuse for a world title challenger and Beltran, although a solid pro, was past his prime at age 38.

Commey’s two losses came in back-to-back fights in 2016 and both were by split decision. He lost to Robert Easter Jr in Reading, Pennsylvania, and then, eight weeks later, was upended by Denis Shafikov before a tiny crowd at an actual boxing gym in Moscow.

There was nothing controversial about those losses, but in both instances Commey was in hostile territory. Toledo’s Easter brought a large delegation of fans to Reading and Shafikov was fighting on his home turf. The crowd on Saturday will almost assuredly be skewed against Commey again, but it won’t be as pronounced. Commey, born and raised in Ghana, has a home in the Bronx. Lopez was born in Brooklyn, a bond that his Brooklyn-born promoter Bob Arum likes to emphasize, but grew up in Davie, Florida.

Teofimo

At age 22, Teofimo Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs) is almost 10 years younger than Richard Commey. A year ago, at this very venue, he scored his most memorable triumph, a highlight-reel, 44-second, one-punch knockout of Mason Menard that was named the TSS Knockout of the Year. He has won three fights in the interim, most recently a 12-round decision over Masayoshi Nakatani.

Teofimo won comfortably on the scorecards, but his performance left much to be desired. The Japanese was a tall, rangy fighter. In Richard Commey, he is meeting a man of similar height. Both are listed at five-foot-eight.

Lopez has developed a large following in a short time and his in-ring heroics are only part of the story. He’s quite the showman. After each win he adds an exclamation point with a celebratory back-flip and outside the ring his brash persona has enhanced his notoriety.

When a fighter has a common surname, it helps to have a unique first name. The reality is that Lopez would not have built his brand as fast if his first name had been, say, Miguel, or Carlos, or Juan. And he had the foresight to supplement his unique first name with a unique nickname: The Takeover.

The nickname, says Lopez, doesn’t just refer to taking over a specific weight division (he’ll move up to 140 before the year 2020 is over) but, rather, taking over the whole sport in the sense of becoming boxing’s biggest pay-per-view attraction. Early into his pro career, he began calling out Lomachenko.

Teofimo’s biggest cheerleader is his Honduras-born father and trainer of the same name and the elder Lopez has even more hubris than his son. “My son is too strong for Lomachenko….he would walk through anything that Lomechenko throws at him,” Teofimo Sr. told veteran boxing writer Bill Tibbs prior to his son’s match with Mason Menard. “Liston, he has God-given gifts and he’s simply the best out there. (My son) has the best parts of Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, GGG, Floyd, Andre Ward, all the best of them in him.”

The Lopez that defeated Nakatani would not have defeated Vasiliy Lomachenko. And there are those that think he won’t beat Richard Commey unless he brings his “A’ game. It’s an interesting fight.

—–

The main fights on Saturday’s Top Rank boxing card will air on ESPN’s flagship station. The boxing card, which opens with the rematch between Michael Conlan and Vladimir Nikitin, follows the show in which the Heisman Trophy is presented to LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. The Heisman telecast will begin at 8 pm EST.

The same situation prevailed last year when Top Rank’s Madison Square Garden card was headlined by the fight between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Jose Pedraza. To the consternation of diehard boxing fans, the Heisman presentation show ran late. Don’t be surprised if it happens again.

Photo credit: Stacy Verbeek

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Will U.S. Olympic Boxers Fare Better in Tokyo Thanks to Yesterday’s Ruling?

Arne K. Lang

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The road to the medal round for U.S. boxers at the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics just got easier. But maybe not.

“Russia Banned From The Tokyo Olympics” screamed yesterday’s headline, but reading between the lines there’s more to the story. A more carefully worded headline would have read “Russian Olympic Athletes in Limbo.”

We have been down this road before. WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, recommended banning Russia from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The agency accused Russian authorities of a massive cover-up that erased hundreds of positive test samples.

WADA then did something of an about-face and decided to evaluate each case individually. Ultimately, 278 Russian athletes were approved to compete in Rio; 111 were denied. All 11 Russian boxers who survived the various qualifying events made the cut.

This new ban (which will be appealed) also emanates from WADA which alleges that the Russian authorities continued the massive cover-up using the “disappearance methodology.” But, if upheld, it’s a more severe penalty in that it bans Russia from major international sporting events for the next four years. That would include the World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the world by far. The next edition of the World Cup is slated for 2022 in Qatar.

“There’s still…the possibility of clean athletes to compete in the Games,” Svetlana Romashina, a five-time Olympic gold medalist in synchronized swimming, told Moscow correspondent Andrew Roth of The Guardian. “I believe the punishment of clean athletes to be unacceptable,” continued Romashina. “We have done nothing wrong.”

The reality, as it now stands, is that Russian boxers and other Russian athletes, if deemed clean, will be able to compete in Tokyo, just not under the Russian banner. As is common in some wrestling tournaments, their affiliation will be “unattached.” And Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is a big fan of amateur boxing and other combat sports, won’t be there. The ban prohibits Russian officials from attending major international sporting events if their team has been expelled.

—–

Historically, the U.S. Olympic Boxing Team has excelled in the Summer Games. But that’s yesterday’s news. In the last three Olympics, U.S. male boxers won only three medals, one silver and two bronze. By contrast, during the same period, Russian boxers walked off with 10 medals including three gold.

The prognosis for the 2020 U.S. team looked dim once again when the U.S. contingent earned only one medal (a silver by lightweight Keyshawn Davis) at the recent AIBA men’s World Championships in Ekaterinburg, Russia. The host team garnered four medals, including three gold. If one conjoined the Russian squad with former Soviet Union satellites Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, the count grows to seven gold medals (of a possible eight) and 15 medals overall.

Russia’s gold medalists at the World Championships were welterweight Andrey Zamkovoy (pictured), middleweight Gleb Bakshi, and heavyweight Muslim Gadzhimagomedov. Zamkovoy and the heavyweight (who will badly need a new name if he ever turns pro) are outstanding amateurs and may have been favored to win their divisions in Tokyo.

Zamkovoy, 32, represented Russia in the 2012 and 2016 Games and medaled in 2012 where he defeated Errol Spence Jr en route to the semi-finals. The heavyweight (a cruiserweight by pro standards) is an ever-improving, 22-year-old, six-foot-four southpaw who has already amassed an amateur record of 60-5.

The competition for the U.S. team at overseas tournaments has gotten a lot tougher in the last two decades as several Eastern European countries have become more like Cuba, investing state resources into their amateur boxing programs with an eye to building a powerhouse. Perhaps the WADA edict will aid the U.S. boxing team in shaking the doldrums in 2020, but that assumption seems premature.

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