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Two Big Fights Across the Pond Go Head-to-Head: Better Get Used to It

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On Saturday, there are big fights in Manchester and London. The featured bout on the Manchester show, a Frank Warren production, sees Josh Warrington defend his IBF world featherweight title against former two-division world title holder Carl Frampton. The London show, an Eddie Hearn production, is topped by the rematch between Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora.

Both fights are PPV events in Great Britain. In the United States, Warrington-Frampton will air on ESPN+ and Whyte-Chisora on Showtime. They will go off simultaneously, a slap in the face to serious boxing fans but a development certain to become more common in the next few years. (For the record, Frank Warren’s show was locked in first, preceding news of Eddie Hearn’s show by seven weeks. And yes, you can bet that Warren, who has been promoting fights since 1980, is pissed off.)

The deals carved out in recent months between live-streaming platforms and the sport’s leading promoters obligate the promoters to create more content than has been their norm. DAZN, which is aligned with Hearn’s Matchroom operation and with Golden Boy, promises more than 100 shows a year between MMA and boxing in their ads for new subscribers. Top Rank’s deal with ESPN , announced in August, calls for 54 live boxing events annually, including fights outside the U.S. for which Top Rank will acquire the U.S. broadcast rights. Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, which partners with Showtime and Fox, just announced a new affiliation with British broadcaster ITV.

Boxing is bursting out all over and we haven’t yet seen the full extent of it.

The Warrington-Frampton fight in Manchester has a much stronger undercard, but the Whyte-Chisora fight in London will inevitably attract more eyeballs. Casual fans are enamored of heavyweights and the first meeting was a humdinger.

Whyte-Chisora I was contested two years ago in Manchester. It was bombs away as the two Londoners, one born in Jamaica (Whyte) and the other in Zimbabwe traded haymakers from start to finish. “Chisora or Whyte may never become world champions,” wrote Forbes contributor Brian Mazique, “but they could become the Micky Ward and Arturo Gatti of the heavyweight division. I’d pay to see them clash again.” Whyte emerged victorious by the narrowest of margins, winning a split decision.

The first Whyte-Chisora fight was preceded by an ugly press conference in which representatives of both camps scuffled after Chisora picked up a table and threw it at Whyte. Things were relatively subdued this time around until Friday’s weigh-in when another scuffle erupted.

Both fighters appeared on the same show on July 28 and scored mild upsets. Whyte (24-1, 17 KOs) overcame a big scare in the 12th round to win a narrow decision over former WBO heavyweight title-holder Joseph Parker. Chisora (29-8, 21 KOs) stopped Carlos Takam in the eighth round.

The main undercard fight pits Cristofer Rosales (28-3, 19 KOs) against Charlie Edwards (13-1, 6 KOs). The oddsmakers opened this fight in the “pick-em” range, but the odds quickly shifted in favor of Nicaragua’s Rosales who will be making the second defense of his WBC world flyweight title.

Warrington-Frampton

Josh Warrington (27-0, 6 KOs) scored a big upset in his last start while shearing the IBF title from Lee Selby who came in riding an 18-fight winning streak and was making his fifth title defense. In the process, Warrington became the first fighter from Leeds to win a world title. He had the advantage of fighting on his home turf on the grounds of the Leeds soccer club, but he out-worked Selby across the 12 rounds and there was nothing tainted about the split decision that went in his favor.

Now he once again sees himself cast as the underdog. Lee Selby was generally regarded as a domestic level talent. Carl Frampton (26-1, 15 KOs) is a cut above. His lone defeat came in his second meeting with Leo Santa Cruz, a fighter whose name appears on a few pound-for-pound lists, and he’s won three straight since that setback including a wide decision over Nonito Donaire.

Four former Olympians, including gold medalist Billy Joe Saunders, will appear on the undercard. Saunders, unbeaten as a pro, has been out of action since outclassing David Lemieux in December of last year. In the interim, he was fined $100,000 by the British Boxing Board of Control for actions that “brought the sport into disrepute” and was stripped of his WBO world middleweight title after testing positive for a banned stimulant. Saunders is matched against a 41-year-old man from Ghana in a bout slated for eight rounds,

Rising heavyweight contender Nathan Gorman is also on the Manchester undercard, as is Tommy Fury, younger brother of Tyson, who will be making his professional debut. Fury’s opponent, a Latvian, has lost 24 straight and 110 overall.

Dueling fight cards televised on rival networks with fight fans forced to choose which one to watch live. It’s an irksome situation, but we had better get used to it. It’s the downside to the sudden efflorescence of boxing.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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Mercito Gesta Victorious Over Jojo Diaz at the Long Beach Pyramid

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LONG BEACH, CA.-Those in the know knew Mercito Gesta and Jojo Diaz would be a fight to watch and they delivered.

Gesta emerged the winner in a super lightweight clash between southpaws that saw the judges favor his busier style over Diaz’s body attack and bigger shots and win by split decision on Saturday.

Despite losing the main event because the star was overweight, Gesta (34-3-3, 17 KOs) used an outside method of tactic to edge past former world champion Diaz (32-4-1, 15 KOs) in front of more than 5,000 fans at the Pyramid.

The speedy Gesta opened up the fight with combination punching up and down against the peek-a-boo style of Diaz. For the first two rounds the San Diego fighter overwhelmed Diaz though none of the blows were impactful.

In the third round Diaz finally began unloading his own combinations and displaying the fast hands that helped him win world titles in two divisions. Gesta seemed stunned by the blows, but his chin held up. The counter right hook was Diaz’s best weapon and snapped Gesta’s head back several times.

Gesta regained control in the fifth round after absorbing big blows from Diaz. He seemed to get angry that he was hurt and opened up with even more blows to send Diaz backpedaling.

Diaz targeted his attack to Gesta’s body and that seemed to slow down Gesta. But only for a round.

From the seventh until the 10th each fighter tried to impose their style with Gesta opening up with fast flurries and Diaz using right hooks to connect with solid shots. They continued their method of attack until the final bell. All that mattered was what the judges preferred.

After 10 rounds one judge saw Diaz the winner 97-93 but two others saw Gesta the winner 99-91, 98-92. It was a close and interesting fight.

“I was expecting nothing. I was the victor in this fight and we gave a good fight,” said Gesta. “It’s not an easy fight and Jojo gave his best.”

Diaz was surprised by the outcome but accepted the verdict.

Everything was going good. I thought I was landing good body shots,” said Diaz. “I was pretty comfortable.”

Other Bouts

Mexico’s Oscar Duarte (25-1-1, 20 KOs) knocked out Chicago’s Alex Martin (18-5, 6 KOs) with a counter right hand after dropping him earlier in the fourth round. The super lightweight fight was stopped at 1:14 of the round.

A battle between undefeated super welterweights saw Florida’s Eric Tudor (8-0, 6 KOs) emerge the winner by unanimous decision after eight rounds versus Oakland’s Damoni Cato-Cain.

The taller Tudor showed polished skill and was not bothered by a large cut on his forehead caused by an accidental clash of heads. He used his jab and lead rights to defuse the attacks of the quick-fisted southpaw Cato-Cain. The judges scored the fight 80-72 and 78-74 twice for Tudor.

San Diego’s Jorge Chavez (5-0, 4 KOs) needed less than one round to figure out Nicaragua’s Bryan Perez (12-17-1, 11 KOs) and send him into dreamland with a three-punch combination. No need to count as referee Ray Corona waved the fight over. Perez shot a vicious right followed by another right and then a see-you-later left hook at 3.00 of the first round of the super featherweight match.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Jojo Diaz’s Slump Continues; Mercito Gesta Prevails on a Split Decision

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At age 30, Jojo Diaz’s career is on the skids. The 2012 U.S. Olympian, a former world title holder at 126 and 130 pounds and an interim title holder at 135, Diaz suffered his third straight loss tonight, upset by Mercito Gesta who won a split decision at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, CA.. The scoring was strange with Gesta winning nine of the 10 rounds on one of the cards and only three rounds on another. The tie-breaker, as it were, was a 98-92 tally for Gesta and even that didn’t capture the flavor of what was a closely-contested fight.

Originally listed as a 12-rounder, the match was reduced to 10 and that, it turned out, did Diaz no favors. However, it’s hard to feel sorry for the former Olympian as he came in overweight once again, having lost his 130-pound title on the scales in February of 2021.

Diaz also has issues outside the ropes. Best elucidated by prominent boxing writer Jake Donovan, they include a cluster of legal problems stemming from an arrest for drunk driving on Feb. 27 in the LA suburb of Claremont.

With the defeat, Diaz’s ledger declined to 32-4-1. His prior losses came at the hands of Gary Russell Jr, Devin Haney, and William Zepeda, boxers who are collectively 83-2. Mercito Gesta, a 35-year-old San Diego-based Filipino, improved to 34-3-3.

Co-Feature

Chihuahua, Mexico super lightweight Oscar Duarte has now won nine straight inside the distance after stopping 33-year-old Chicago southpaw Alex Martin in the eighth frame. Duarte, the busier fighter, had Martin on the deck twice in round eight before the fight was waived off.

Duarte improved to 25-1-1 (20). Martin, who reportedly won six national titles as an amateur and was once looked upon as a promising prospect, declined to 18-5.

Other Bouts of Note

New Golden Boy signee Eric Tudor, a 21-year-old super welterweight from Fort Lauderdale, overcame a bad laceration over his right eye, the result of an accidental clash of heads in round four, to stay unbeaten, advancing to 8-0 (6) with a hard-fought unanimous 8-round decision over Oakland’s Damoni Cato-Cain. The judges had it 80-72 and 78-74 twice. It was the first pro loss for Cato-Cain (7-1-1) who had his first five fights in Tijuana.

In the DAZN opener, lanky Hawaian lightweight Dalis Kaleiopu went the distance for the first time in his young career, improving to 4-0 (3) with a unanimous decision over 36-year-old Colombian trial horse Jonathan Perez (40-35). The scores were 60-52 across the board. There were no knockdowns, but Perez, who gave up almost six inches in height, had a point deducted for a rabbit punch and another point for deducted for holding.

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‘Big Baby’ Wins the Battle of Behemoths; TKOs ‘Big Daddy’ in 6

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Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne weighed in at a career-high 277 pounds for today’s battle in Dubai with Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, but he was the lighter man by 56 pounds. It figured that one or both would gas out if the bout lasted more than a few stanzas.

It was a war of attrition with both men looking exhausted at times, and when the end came it was Miller, at age 34 the younger man by nine years, who had his hand raised.

Browne was the busier man, but Miller, whose physique invites comparison with a rhinoceros, hardly blinked as he was tattooed with an assortment of punches. He hurt ‘Bid Daddy’ in round four, but the Aussie held his own in the next frame, perhaps even forging ahead on the cards, but only postponing the inevitable.

In round six, a succession of right hands knocked Browne on the seat of his pants. He beat the count, but another barrage from Miller impelled the referee to intervene. The official time was 2:33. It was the 21st straight win for Miller (26-0-1, 22 KOs). Browne declined to 31-4 and, for his own sake, ought not fight again. All four of his losses have come inside the distance, some brutally.

The consensus of those that caught the livestream was that Floyd Mayweather Jr’s commentary was an annoying distraction that marred what was otherwise an entertaining show.

As for what’s next for “Big Baby” Miller, that’s hard to decipher as he has burned his bridges with the sport’s most powerful promoters. One possibility is Mahmoud Charr who, like Miller, has a big gap in his boxing timeline. Now 38 years old, Charr – who has a tenuous claim on a WBA world title (don’t we all?) —  has reportedly taken up residence in Dubai.

Other Bouts of Note

In a 10-round cruiserweight affair, Suslan Asbarov, a 30-year-old Russian, advanced to 4-0 (1) with a hard-fought majority decision over Brandon Glanton. The judges had it 98-92, 97-93, and a more reasonable 95-95.

Asbarov was 12-9 in documented amateur fights and 1-0 in a sanctioned bare-knuckle fight, all in Moscow, entering this match. He bears watching, however, as Glanton (18-2) would be a tough out for almost anyone in his weight class. In his previous fight, at Plant City, Florida, Glanton lost a controversial decision to David Light, an undefeated Australian who challenges WBO world title-holder Lawrence Okolie at Manchester, England next week.

A 10-round super featherweight match between former world title challengers Jono Carroll and Miguel Marriaga preceded the semi-windup. Carroll, a 30-year-old Dublin southpaw, overcame a cut over his left eye suffered in the second round to win a wide unanimous decision in a fairly entertaining fight.

It was the sixth straight win for Carroll (24-2-1, 7 KOs) who elevated his game after serving as a sparring partner for Devin Haney. Marriaga, a 36-year-old Colombian, lost for the fourth time in his last five outings, declining to 30-7.

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