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The Hauser Report: Friday Night Fights at Madison Square Garden

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Friday night fights at Madison Square Garden were once boxing’s most-anticipated weekly event. On Friday, January 18, Matchroom USA and DAZN teamed up for the latest installment.

There were five fights of note.

Amanda Serrano (35-1, 28 KOs) is one of today’s better women fighters and has made a career out of winning belts of questionable provenance against an assortment of opponents who’ve ranged from competent-but-barely-world-class to inept. By last count, she’d won “world championships” at 130,135, 126, 118, 122, and 140 pounds. Now she was dropping from 138-1/2 pounds in her last outing to 115 pounds in an effort to claim the WBO super-flyweight bauble (which would give her a “world championship” in a seventh weight division).

Eva Voraberger (24-5, 11 KOs), a 25-to-1 underdog, was the designated loser.

One day before the fight, Serrano weighed in at 115 pounds. On fight night, she weighed 133.

Serrano-Voraberger lasted all of 35 seconds. Voraberger had the look of a deer in the headlights from the moment the bell rang and was dropped for the count by the first body shot that Serrano landed.

For more than a century, the term “champion” was synonymous with glory and greatness in boxing. Now it’s a devalued marketing ploy, particularly for women boxers.

John Sheppard, who oversees BoxRec.com, reported last year that boxing’s world sanctioning bodies have created 110 different women’s titles. This means that, assuming each title is available in 17 weight divisions, the sanctioning bodies have belts for 1,870 women’s champions. Meanwhile, according to Sheppard, there were only 1,430 active women boxers in the world. Thus, there were approximately 1.3 titles available for each woman boxer.

In the fight immediately preceding Serrano-Voraberger, Reshat Mati knocked out Benjamin Borteye in 66 seconds. That meant, because of TV scheduling, there was a stretch lasting for an hour and five minutes during which fans saw 101 seconds of boxing.

When DAZN and Matchroom announced their alliance last spring, Eddie Hearn pledged to improve the on-site experience for boxing fans in the United States. One presumes this wasn’t what he had in mind.

Serrano-Voraberger was followed by Chris Algieri (22-3, 8 KOs) vs. Daniel Gonzalez (17-1-1, 7 KOs).

Algieri, age 34, is willing to go in tough. He showed skill, heart, and determination five years ago in rallying from two first-round knockdowns to decision Ruslan Provodnikov for the WBO 140-pound title. But since then, Algieri had lost three of five fights (to Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan, and Errol Spence). Gonzalez was expected to pose a lesser challenge. The fight was made for Chris to win.

Algieri-Gonzalez was a much better fight than it should have been, largely because it appears as though Chris can’t perform at a world-class level anymore. He started well, but his reflexes aren’t what they once were. And for a fighter who has relied on quickness and speed throughout his career, that spells doom.

In round three, Algieri started getting hit with shots that Gonzalez wouldn’t have hit him with several years ago. Then Chris tired, and the second half of the bout was an exercise in survival. In an effort to shorten the fight, Algieri circled away whenever possible and held when Gonzalez got inside. Meanwhile, Daniel started throwing more and was cutting off the ring well.

Algieri once said, “Empathy is bad for a fighter. When you win, you can’t think about what you’ve just done to the other guy’s life.”

That said; everyone in the arena other than Gonzalez and his partisans must have felt empathy for Chris. It appears as though the judges did.

The consensus at ringside was that a draw would have been credible. The judges thought otherwise, giving Algieri a 98-92, 97-93, 96-94 triumph that was booed by the pro-Algieri crowd. The 98-92 scorecard was beyond the pale and was turned in by James Pierce, who has a history of turning in horrid scorecards. One that comes to mind was Pierce’s 78-74 verdict last year in favor of Heather Hardy over Iranda Paola Torres.

Next up; Irish-born T.J. Doheny (20-0, 14 KOs), now living in Australia, defended his IBF super-bantamweight belt against Rychei Takahashi (16-3-1, 6 KOs) of Japan. Takahashi evinced the skill level of a club fighter. Doheny wore him down en route to a stoppage at 2:18 of round eleven.

In the semi-final bout of the evening, Jorge Linares (45-4, 28 KOs) moved up to 140-pounds to pit his skills against Pablo Cesar Cano (31-7, 21 KOs).

Linares, age 33, has held belts at 126, 130, and 135 pounds. All of his defeats had come by way of knockout (against Juan Carlos Salgado, Antonio DeMarco, Sergio Thompson, and Vasyl Lomachenko). Cano had compiled a 5-and-6 record with one no contest during the preceding six-and-a-half years.

Linares-Cano was bombs away from the start. Thirteen seconds into round one, Cano dropped Linares to the canvas with an overhand right. Jorge rose and seemed to be okay. But he wasn’t. Cano dropped him again with a left hook up top just past the midway point of round one and again forty seconds later. A fourth knockdown seemed imminent when referee Ricky Gonzalez stepped between the fighters and appropriately stopped the bout at the 2:48 mark.

The ease with which Cano dispatched of Linares might lead to a reevaluation of Vasyl Lomachenko’s struggle against Linares at 135 pounds in May of last year.

Then it was time for the main event: Demetrius Andrade (26-0, 16 KOs) vs. Artur Akavov (19-2, 8 KOs).

Andrade, who will turn 31 next month, represented the United States as a welterweight at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and lost in the third round to eventual bronze-medalist Kim Jung-Joo of South Korea. He won the WBO 154-pound title by split decision over Vanes Martirosyan in a dreadfully dull fight in 2013; a WBA 154-pound belt via split decision over Jack Culcay in a dreadfully dull fight in 2017, and the vacant WBO 160-pound title by decision over Walter Kautondokwa last year. He has never fought a top-tier opponent.

Evaluating Andrade as a fighter, trainer-commentator Teddy Atlas has opined. “He’s like a cake that comes out of the oven looking perfect. But when you eat it, it tastes like something the cake needed was left out.”

Akavov, born in Russia and now living in California, was a typical Andrade opponent. A 20-to-1 underdog, he has limited ring skills, limited power, and was out-boxed in his one step-up fight (against Billy Joe Saunders in 2016).

Andrade-Akovov was a boring tactical fight. Andrade used his jab – it’s a good one – as an offensive and defensive weapon to control the action. Akavov was outclassed. And if he didn’t know it before the fight began, he knew it from round one on. After a few stanzas, he seemed interested primarily in going the distance.

It’s hard to knock out a fighter who’s trying simply to survive; particularly if you’re not trying to knock him out (which Andrade didn’t seem intent on doing). Demetrius fights with the urgency of a man who’s in the gym, sparring. On this occasion, he seemed content to simply put rounds in the bank.

The crowd thinned noticeably as Andrade-Akavov dragged on. With 24 seconds left in round twelve, referee Arthur Mercante stepped between the fighters and, over Akavov’s bitter protest, stopped the contest. It wasn’t the worst stoppage in recent memory. But it wasn’t the best either. Mercante has been justly criticized in the past for letting fights go on too long. Better too early than too late.

Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez, or Danny Jacobs might push Andrade to greater heights. That said; Golovkin would have knocked out Akavov in three rounds.

But the buzz at ringside on Friday night wasn’t about the then and now. It was about the announcement that Danny Jacobs has just signed a three-fight deal with Matchroom USA and that his first fight under the agreement will be against Canelo Alvarez on May 4 on DAZN.

DAZN subscribers will get their money’s worth and then some on that one.

Thomas Hauser’s new email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – Protect Yourself at All Times – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

 To comment on this article in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Thomas Hauser is the author of 52 books. In 2005, he was honored by the Boxing Writers Association of America, which bestowed the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism upon him. He was the first Internet writer ever to receive that award. In 2019, Hauser was chosen for boxing's highest honor: induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Lennox Lewis has observed, “A hundred years from now, if people want to learn about boxing in this era, they’ll read Thomas Hauser.”

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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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Madueno Upsets Pauldo and Lopez Overcomes Escudero at Whitesands

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Madueno Upsets Pauldo and Lopez Overcomes Escudero at Whitesands

When it comes to professional boxing down in the Tampa Bay area, Canadian transplant Garry Jonas is a one-man band.

The architect of the Wednesday Night Fights series, Jonas doesn’t have to pay a site fee for the shows that he promotes because he owns the venue. The shows that he stages at his Whitesands Events Center in Plant City air on his live streaming platform ProBoxTV. His series currently has only one sponsor, a bookmaking operation called SportsBetting.Ag., and he owns that too. (A self-styled serial entrepreneur, Jonas continued his assault on the established order last week with his purchase of the respected Boxing Scene website, but that’s a story best saved for another day.)

Jonas promotes high-grade club fights. When he started this venture, he promised entertaining, well-matched fights and tonight he delivered. The “A” side fighters in the co-main events were matched tough.

In the featured bout, lightweight Justin Pauldo (17-2, 1 NC) was upset by Mexico’s Miguel Madueno. Managed by Jolene Mazzone, the former VP and matchmaker for Main Events and trained by Ronnie Shields, Pauldo, a resident or nearby Orlando, was unbeaten in his last 12 heading in.

In his previous start, Madueno turned in a lackluster performance against surging Canadian campaigner Steve Claggett. His showing (he was 30-1 with 28 KOs heading in) was inconsistent with his record. Tonight, he was more pugnacious, out-working the man in front of him, a 4/1 favorite. The decision was split; 97-92 and 95-94 for Madueno, 95-94 for Pauldo. There were no knockdowns, but the Mexican had a point deducted in round 5 for leading with his head.

Co-Feature

The co-main was an entertaining 10-round light heavyweight affair in which Edgar Berlanga stablemate Najee Lopez improved to 10-0 (8) with a hard-earned majority decision over Marcos Escudero (14-3). One of the judges had it a draw (95-95) but he was overruled by his cohorts who had it 97-93 and 99-91.

Lopez, who is of Puerto Rican descent but was born and raised in the Atlanta area, hadn’t previously gone beyond six rounds. He was the house fighter. Named the 2023 Prospect of the Year by the ProBox team of TV commentators, Lopez was making his eighth appearance at Whitesands. Escudero, a South Florida-based Argentine had won four straight heading in at club shows in Delray Beach, FL after back-to-back setbacks in competitive fights with Joseph George.

Escudero, who did most of the leading, had many good moments. The 99-91 tally against the Argentine was a head-scratcher. (Commentator Paulie Malignaggi said the offending  judge, Alvaro Rodriguez, should have his fee withheld and be forced to serve a one-year suspension.)

Also

In an 8-round lightweight contest, former two-time Olympian Tsendbaatar Erdenebat, a 27-year-old Mongolian southpaw who began his pro career in China and now resides in southern California, improved to 9-0 (4) with a unanimous decision over Guinea-born Mohamed Soumaoro (11-3) who was a willing mixer but was out-classed. The scores were 79-73 and 80-72 twice.

As one would expect from a two-time Olympian, Erdenebat is a good technician who puts his punches together well, but doesn’t have a lot of power. If his name rings a bell, he’s the fellow who purportedly sent Ryan Garcia to the hospital from the effects of a body punch during a sparring session.

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Two Featherweight Title Fights Top a Strong Bill at Turning Stone on Saturday

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When Top Rank announced in December that they would be returning to Turning Stone Resort & Casino for an ESPN+ show on March 2nd featuring two featherweight world title fights they promised a deep action-packed show. Usually such words fall by the wayside as the event ultimately comes together but in this instance the docket is loaded from top to bottom with name attractions, undefeated prospects, local grudge matches and two very well-matched co-headliners.

In the first of the co-headliners, Luis Alberto Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs) makes the third defense of his IBF featherweight belt against Japan’s Reiya Abe (25-3-1, 10 KOs). Lopez is a popular brawler whose aggressive style and lack of attention to defense usually makes for entertaining fights. Abe, a southpaw, is a slick boxer who is coming off a career best win against Kiko Martinez last April. Abe has a style similar to that of Ruben Villa who outboxed Lopez to a ten round unanimous decision win in 2019.

The co-headline finale is being contested for the vacant WBA featherweight title between Otabek Kholmatov (12-0, 11 KOs) and Raymond Ford (14-0-1, 7 KOs). Both fighters were highly touted heading into the pro ranks. Ford has the speed advantage but Kholmatov has a big edge in power. Social media seems split right down the middle on this fight and oddsmakers agree installing Kholmatov as a very slight favorite as of this writing.

Also on this show is the return of the ever popular Nico Ali Walsh (9-1, 5 KOs) who bounced back from his first career defeat on Dec. 16 at a show in Guinea where he defeated a Frenchman with a 9-2-1 record (mysteriously, that fight isn’t yet listed on boxrec). He will face off against Luke Iannuccilli (7-0, 3 KOs). Walsh, Muhammad Ali’s grandson, will make his debut at Turning Stone Resort Casino in the same exact arena where his aunt and Boxing Hall of Famer Laila Ali made her professional boxing debut in October of 1999 with her legendary father sitting ringside. This will mark the fourth time a member of Muhammad Ali’s family has fought at Turning Stone.

The card also includes several contests featuring up-and-coming undefeated fighters. One match in particular to keep an eye on is an eight-round welterweight bout between a pair of unbeaten fighters in Rohan Polanco (11-0, 7 KOs) and Tarik Zaina (13-0-1, 8 KOs). Zaina opened some eyes last November when he defeated Marcelino Lopez and Polanco is coming off three consecutive wins against opponents who had a cumulative record of 39-3.

Finally I would be remiss if I didn’t notate the local grudge match on the docket between Gerffred Ngayot (6-1, 5 KOs) of Buffalo and Bryce Mills (14-1, 5 KOs) of Syracuse. They are scheduled to face off in a six-round bout in the 140-pound division. They are on this show because each have solid local fan bases and matching them was a way to help fill the stands. Mills is a sharp accurate counterpuncher with all-around solid skills. Ngayot is an aggressive fighter who is not afraid to be first and fire away to the body. Stylistically this could turn into quite a barnburner and each have plenty of motivation to make a statement on what is a much bigger stage than they are accustomed to.

We are often quick to criticize those in the sport when cards come together that are seemingly either loaded with mismatches or bouts that just don’t pique much interest. This is an instance where those involved need to be applauded for putting together a card from top to bottom that will certainly give fans plenty of bang for their buck.

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