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The Avila Perspective, Chap 26: The State of Boxing 2019

David A. Avila

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boxing Wilder Vs Fury

Any time 20,000 fans pack an arena in the U.S. it’s a good thing for prizefighting.

Last weekend’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez victory over WBA super middleweight titlist Rocky Fielding at Madison Square Garden just before Christmas, proves professional boxing has reached a healthy state.

It’s going to get better in 2019.

Fans can be fickle, especially in the New York area, but if you give them a spectacle, such as watching the red headed Mexican fighter perform on the East Coast for the first time, they will show up in droves.

It was the same weeks earlier in Los Angeles. The sight of two gargantuan heavyweights with undefeated records clashing at the Staples Center, despite not having local ties, meant nothing. It was a spectacle and 17,000 fans clamored to see the world title fight.

Two boxing shows on opposite coasts from different promotion companies succeeded abundantly. The slate is now set for the coming year.

Producing a spectacle takes a little bit of gambling on the part of promoters, fighters and managers. The parties involved need to be willing to risk a loss. When it’s all said and done prizefighting is about entertainment.

Fighters are the most important factors but they can be very selfish when it comes to maintaining undefeated records, or gathering world titles against opposition they know stand no chance against them. The smart fighter will clash with anyone knowing the “no guts no glory” factor will work for them in the end. These are the guys that fans follow like Shawn Porter, Ivan Delgado, Ferdinand Kerobyan and John Molina, boxers who will fight anyone at any time. You absolutely know they are going to light up the ring too.

Fans will stay away from mismatches or sure wins, regardless of talent. They want to see intrigue, even fights and bloody wars. A few like to see skill and artistry but those are in the minority. The average fan wants to see Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo battle till the end.

In New York City and Los Angeles we saw two boxing cards in December that featured those stark entertainment factors needed to attract fans. It’s a template worth keeping.

State of Boxing

Earlier in the year I wrote about newspapers and their failure to notice the sport of boxing was about to explode. I noted in this publication that in Southern California more than 100 gyms exist filled with eager boxers from all over the world. This coming year the bubble will burst and the American boxing scene will be more visible than ever before.

With Premier Boxing Champions scoring a deal with Fox and Showtime, and Top Rank signing its deal with ESPN followed by Golden Boy Promotions and Matchroom Boxing siding with DAZN, the world of boxing will be seen almost every single week.

Other promotion companies are getting into the act and for the next 12 months professional boxing will be available through television and streaming services. Boxing has arrived full force as if an atom bomb has exploded.

“In 2019 the entire sport is about to be lit and I can’t wait,” said Leonard Ellerbe of Mayweather Promotions. “Boxing will be on numerous platforms globally and that’s a wonderful thing.”

Just an example: on Feb. 9 in Southern California two boxing cards will battle it out 100 miles apart. In Indio, Calif. a Golden Boy Promotions card packed with contenders and a world title fight features WBC super bantamweight titlist Rey Vargas defending against Franklin Manzanilla at Fantasy Springs Casino. Facebook Watch will stream the fight card. In Carson, Calif. at the StubHub Center, Gervonta Davis puts his WBA super featherweight title at stake against three division world champion Abner Mares who is looking to try for a fourth. Showtime will televise.

Two cards on the same day forcing fans to choose.

Saturday Action

This Saturday, a fight card from London, England features heavyweights Dillian Whyte (24-1, 17 KOs) and Derek Chisora (29-8, 21 KOs) finally meeting again in a rematch. Showtime will televise the event beginning at 2 p.m. PT. They met two years ago in an exciting clash with Whyte pulling out the victory by close decision. Supposedly, the winner will fight IBF titlist Anthony Joshua. We’ll have to wait and see about that. He’s been clamoring about fighting Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder ever since they lit a fire on the heavyweight boxing scene with their epic clash.

Following the heavyweight fight we cross the Atlantic Ocean to Brooklyn where brothers Jermell and Jermall Charlo defend their respective world titles at Barclays Center. WBC super welterweight titlist Jermell Charlo has Tony Harrison in front of him. This is Detroit’s Harrison’s second crack at a world title. About two years ago he was stopped by Jarret Hurd when they met for the vacant IBF version. It’s a good test for Charlo. Meanwhile Jermall Charlo defends the interim WBC middleweight version against Matt Korobov, a late replacement for Willie Monroe who failed a drug test. The two Charlo fights are part of a big card televised on Fox. It’s a hefty boxing card that also includes local heavyweight Dominic Breazeale.

If you’re not busy shopping for gifts there’s plenty of boxing on Saturday.

It won’t be the only overlap throughout the year. Expect the major boxing promoters to go head to head on many occasions in 2019. There’s no tapping out or crying in boxing.

 

Commerce Casino

Promoter Ed Holmes and All Star Boxing has a solid fight card on Saturday Dec. 22, at the Commerce Casino in Commerce, Calif.

It’s one of the better venues to watch prizefighting and the casino is located alongside the Interstate-5 Freeway for easy access.

Earlier this year, in March, one of the most spectacular knockouts occurred at the Commerce Casino and it came during a female prize fight as local prospect Adelaida Ruiz showed off her vaunted power. It’s what you can expect at one of All Star Boxing’s shows.

Four undefeated boxers are on the card including 18-year-old Adrian Corona in a super featherweight fight, but a couple of fighters to especially watch are Jhon Sanchez Leon  a clever welterweight from Colombia and also local fighter Arthur Saakyan who trains with Dean Campos, the coach who engineered the careers of former world champion Sergio Mora and top female contender Seniesa Estrada.

The All Star Boxing card at Commerce Casino begins at 6 p.m. For more information including tickets call (323) 816-6200 or go to www.Allstarfights.com

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article in the Fight Forum, CLICK HERE

 

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Pico Rivera Summer Fights See Cruz, Vega and Flores Win

David A. Avila

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PICO RIVERA, Ca.-Along the San Gabriel River on a soft summer evening, Red Boxing Promotions brought another slew of hot local prospects to the forefront on Saturday.

Chino’s Daniel “Cuetito” Cruz (3-0) burst into the fight like an energy bomb and simply overwhelmed southpaw Phillip Bounds (0-4) with lightning combinations to win by unanimous decision. More than 700 fans saw the Red Boxing fight card.

Though it was only his third pro fight, the high intensity prizefighter Cruz (pictured on the left) exhibited a level of confidence that allowed him to attack with impunity for the first two rounds.

Cruz switched to southpaw and had even more success against the lefty Bounds. The speed of Cruz proved too much to overcome for Bounds who tried different approaches but couldn’t find an antidote for Cruz who won by unanimous decision 40-36 on all three cards in the super lightweight match.

“I’m excited, I wanted to put on a good show,” said Cruz, 20. “I’m coming for all of the big names. Cuetito is here.”

Andre Marquez (2-1) overwhelmed the much taller Alvin Brown (0-8) from Louisiana with a whirlwind style that ended in a knockout in the fourth and final round of their super featherweight match. A left hook caught Brown flush and Marquez followed up with four more blows, forcing Brown to take a knee at 1:41 of the fourth round. Marquez was ruled the winner by knockout by referee Sharon Sands.

“My plan was to work his body,” said Marquez. “It worked out perfectly.”

Welterweights Bradley Pena (0-0-1) and Ed Nunez (0-0-1) blasted each other for four rounds, with Pena starting fast and Nunez ending strong. No knockdowns were scored in the fight that started the night and ended in a draw.

Main Bouts

A light flyweight clash saw Axel Vega (13-2-1, 8 KOs) of Ensenada, Mexico knock out Tijuana’s Giovanni Noriega (2-5-2) with a triple left hook in the second round. Vega, 19, trained out of Compton for this fight.

Welterweight prospect Steven Rodriguez (8-0) suffered a cut on his forehead due to a clash of heads but still managed to out-perform Las Vegas fighter Ryan Picou (3-12-1) after four rounds. All three judges scored the fight 40-36 in favor of Rodriguez. But Picou gave a stubborn defense against the constant rushes of Rodriguez and was able to score on occasion.

Santa Barbara’s Angel Flores (6-0, 4 KOs) defeated Mexico’s Roberto Almazan (9-12) by unanimous decision after six rounds in a super lightweight contest. Flores knocked down Almazan twice in the last round to clinch the win and get the victory by a landslide.

In the audience was former world champion Arturo Frias of East Los Angeles who won the WBA world lightweight title in 1982 and fought numerous times at LA’s  fabled Olympic Auditorium. Also in attendance was current super flyweight contender Adelaida “La Cobra” Ruiz of Los Angeles who is scheduled to fight on October 12 at the same Pico Rivera Sports Arena. Red Boxing Promotions will be staging the event.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Fast Results from Russia: Kovalev KOs Yarde in the 11th

Arne K. Lang

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The consensus of opinion regarding tonight’s fight at Chelyabinsk between Sergey Kovalev and Anthony Yarde was that….well, there was no consensus, save that it would not bode well for Yarde if both fighters were still standing at the final bell. Fighting in his hometown, and with a monster payday reportedly looming against Canelo Alvarez should he win, “Krusher” was unlikely to get the worst of it if the fight went to the scorecards. But there would be no controversial decision. In a fight that started slowly and then shifted Yarde’s way, Kovalev stemmed the momentum, took charge in the 10th, and then closed the show in the next round with a scorching left hand that left Yarde flat on his back, gasping for air.

In handicapping the fight, Kovalev certainly had more check marks in the plus column. A former three belt champion and the reigning WBO 175-pound title-holder, Kovalev would be appearing in his 16th world title fight, his second with Hall of Fame trainer Buddy McGirt, with whom he had great rapport. By contrast, Yarde, although undefeated (18-0), had answered the bell for only 51 rounds and had defeated only nine fighters with winning records. Moreover, the Englishman had fought only 12 amateur fights before turning pro.

However, at age 36, Kovalev was getting long in the tooth and in some of his more recent fights he had stamina issues. Moreover, there was a school of thought that Yarde was a beast. In his 30 fights, amateur and pro, he had scored 28 knockouts.

Yarde’s first good round was the seventh and he followed that up with a very strong eighth in which he hurt Kovalev and had the Krusher looking tired. But the assumption that he had paced himself brilliantly proved to be a mirage. As the bout moved into the home stretch, it was the younger man that was more fatigued.

Kovalev backed Yarde against the ropes and hurt him in the 10th. The Russian repeatedly had success with his hard left jab (shades of Larry Holmes) and it was a jab that ended it. Yarde was too exhausted to make it to his feet and was counted out.

Kovalev reportedly has already agreed to meet Canelo in November or December. Tonight he may have added an extra zero to his purse.

Kovalev vs. Canelo, likely at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, will be a blockbuster. Let the hype begin.

Co-Feature

The co-feature between knockout artists Aleksei Papin and Ilunga Makabu wasn’t expected to last the distance, but it went the full 12 and was a highly entertaining affair climaxed by a great 12th round. When the smoke cleared, Ilunga, who went to post a slight favorite, improved to 26-2 (24) by dint of winning a majority decision. It was the second straight win on Russian soil for the Congolese southpaw who fights out of Johannesburg. In his previous go, he stopped Dmitry Kudryashov in the fifth round at Ekaterinburg.

Papin was 11-0 going in with 10 knockouts but the 31-year-old Russian, a former kickboxing champion, was moving up in class against Makabu, a former world title challenger. In the 12th, Makabu scored a knockdown with a straight left after buzzing Papin with a left-right combination, but Papin wasn’t badly hurt and came back to rock him in the final seconds. The knockdown seemingly spelled the difference as two judges had it 115-113 with the third scoring it even (113-113).

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Tanaka and Hatanaka Stay Undefeated in Nagoya

Arne K. Lang

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Kiyoshi Hatanaka, the former world super bantamweight champion, now runs a boxing gym and promotes fights in his hometown of Nagoya. The top fighters in his gym are 24-year-old Kosei Tanaka, who has already won world titles in three weight classes, and Kento Hatanaka, Kyoshi’s 21-year-old son. Both were in action today and both were victorious, but not without anxious moments.

Tanaka, the reigning WBO 112-pound champion, improved to 14-0 (8 KOs) with a seventh-round TKO of Jonathan Gonzalez (22-3-1) in an action-packed bout. There were five knockdowns in all, four by Tanaka, before the referee waved it off with merely a second remaining in the seventh stanza.

Gonzalez took a knee after being hurt by a body punch in round three. But he returned the favor, knocking Tanaka down with a counterpunch in the next stanza, and seemingly had the fight in hand when he dominated the fifth. But Tanaka regained the momentum and scored three knockdowns in Round 7 to close the show.

Kosei Tanaka is overshadowed as a sports personality by countryman Naoya “Monster” Inoue, but is carving out quite a legacy. At age 19, in only his fifth pro fight, he defeated WBO minimumweight (105 pound) champion Julian Yadras of Mexico. He then gathered in titles at 108 and 112, accomplishing the hat trick in only his 12th pro fight, tying Vasiliy Lomachenko’s record.

With only a few pounds separating each of the lowest weight classes, Tanaka likely isn’t done jumping up in weight. There’s already talk of a showdown with 115-pound title-holder Kazuto Ioka. But Tanaka has indicated that he wants to expand his opportunities overseas, following the example of Inoue. There are still holes in his defense, but that makes for exciting fights and a match between him and someone like “Chocolatito” Gonzalez would be worth the price of admission.

Jonathan Gonzalez, a southpaw with a good amateur pedigree, had fought his previous three fights in Kissimmee, Florida. When in his native Puerto Rico, he trains in the same gym as former super bantamweight and featherweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez. We certainly haven’t seen the last of him.

The 10-round co-feature between super flyweights Kento Hatanaka and Jaysever Abcede was also a crowd pleaser that saw both combatants score knockdowns. Hatanaka improved to 10-0 but was extended the distance for the first time in his pro career. Abcede, a noted spoiler from the Philippines, saw his winning streak end at four and fell to 19-9. The scores were 95-93, 96-93, and 96-92.

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