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The Blowout: Brief Encounters That Shocked and Amazed

Ted Sares

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Some might refer to it as a mugging, but a mugging takes a bit of planning and solid execution though the distinction between the two is a very fine one. It’s not a one-punch icing because that kind of end seldom happens early (Tua vs. Moorer being a notable exception). No, the blowout is an unmitigated assault launched at the opening bell as the perpetrator comes flying out of the chute motivated to end things quickly and decisively. The reaction of the crowd is one of shock and awe which is magnified if the man perpetrating the blowout is the underdog. Often the victim doesn’t even land a punch. And after possibly two or more knockdowns, the blowout is ended by a merciful referee.

Dee Collier vs. Tex Cobb (Oct. 29, 1985)

Denorvell “Dee” Collier fought out of California during the 80’s and finished with a modest record of 13-9. However, he was not one to be taken lightly. He had an iron chin and excellent power and a close inspection of his record reveals wins over some very tough opponents. Before his short career was over, Collier would twice defeat Mark Wills in bouts billed for the California heavyweight title, saddle Alex Garcia with his first defeat, ice – yes, ice – Monte Masters and go 10 hard rounds with a prime Buster Douglas.

Collier fought Tex Cobb at the Reseda Country Club in California. The iron-chinned Cobb had lost three straight, but he had failed to go the distance only once in his pro career, that coming in his second match with Michael Dokes, a bout stopped on cuts.  In fact, he had been knocked down only once in his career, that coming in his most recent fight against promising Eddie Gregg.

If the heavily favored Cobb could score an impressive win, he might be in line for title bout against the heavyweight champion, Michael Spinks, or at least back in the mix. Collier, whose record was then 7-4, was seen as nothing more than a club fighter and Cobb was expected to score a decisive, if not early win.

At any rate, once the bell rang, the 6’4” Collier immediately used Cobb as a punching bag. Cobb’s legendary iron chin turned to glass as he became a basketball, hitting the deck four times before the bout ended at the 2:41 mark of the first round.

This was an old fashioned Texas dry-gulch with the rugged Texan being the ambushee. Like many other victims of a blowout, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and never had a chance. Collier had done what Holmes, Shavers and Norton could not do in 33 combined rounds. Tex had his lunch eaten in Reseda and the guy who did the eating was a mugger named Dee Collier.

James “Bonecrusher” Smith vs. Tim Witherspoon (Dec. 12, 1986)

 “I knew his mind couldn’t be on the fight. He wasn’t thinking about me. My plan was to be all over him. He embarrassed me the last time and I wanted to pay him back. I did.” – James “Bonecrusher” Smith

In their rematch (Witherspoon won lopsidedly over 12 rounds in their first meeting), Bonecrusher, a last-minute sub, flew out of the chute at the opening bell and hurt Witherspoon with a right hand 10 seconds into the fight. Then Witherspoon walked into a solid left hook with about 90 seconds gone and was knocked almost through the ropes and down – for the first time in his career. He got up at the count of four on wobbly legs.

Smith never let up as he cautiously moved in, sensing the kill. He then sent Witherspoon down in a heap with another big right hand. Terrible Tim got up at five, spit out a tooth, root and all, and was in terrible shape as The Bonecrusher charged in. The staggering Witherspoon was met with a right hand that dropped him for the third time. Referee Luis Rivera immediately invoked the three-knockdown rule and waved the fight over at 2:12 of the opening round.

This one was a big upset which added to the shock value. Also noteworthy is that Witherspoon did not land a single punch as he was being blown away.

Iran Barkley vs. Darrin Van Horn (Jan. 10, 1992)

If you think Barkley was mad before the fight, wait until he sees how many people are taking part of his purse.”—Bob Arum, after his fighter, Iran Barkley, beat Darrin Van Horn

The “Schoolboy” met Iran “Blade” Barkley (27-7) at the Paramount Theater in Madison Square Garden. This was Barkley’s turf, far away from the University of Kentucky campus where Van Horn was a part-time student. Van Horn, who held the IBF version of the world super middleweight title, was the favorite and his camp badly underestimated the Blade, who should not have been taken lightly under any circumstance

As the schoolboy entered the ring, you could see some confusion and maybe something else beginning to take hold on his face. He began to look like a deer caught in the headlights. The loud and raucous booing was not directed at his opponent this time; it was directly at him. He was the focus of derision. He was in the Blade’s house now and would be lucky to get out alive. The crowd smelled blood.

Meanwhile, the menacing-looking Barkley, wearing an old-school hooded robe, was pacing back and forth in his corner like a caged tiger, waiting for the bell to ring so he could launch what everybody expected to be an all-out bull rush. And that’s exactly what he did using a blitzkrieg attack.

The fight was almost anti-climactic as Barkley mauled the Schoolboy and dismantled him in less than two full rounds. Van Horn had come in with no game plan and ended up getting mugged in New York City (at a time when muggings in New York City were not all that unusual). After wobbling Darrin in the first round, Barkley decked the Kentuckian three times in the second before the slaughter was stopped 93 seconds into the round by referee Arthur Mercante Jr.

Dana Rosenblatt vs. Sean Fitzgerald ( Dec.10, 1993)

In a match between two fighters from Massachusetts — a match with more than a touch of old school ethnicity to it — “Dangerous” Dana Rosenblatt (16-0) met Sean “The Irish Express” Fitzgerald at Foxwoods. Fitzgerald was 18-1-2 with his only loss coming against Roberto Duran.

Team Fitzgerald was confident that the red-headed Irishman would beat the untested Rosenblatt. However, two minutes into the bout, Dana threw a 1-2 combination that sent Fitzgerald to the canvas, dazed and hurt. The fight ended 30 seconds later with Fitzgerald KOd following a Rosenblatt onslaught. This one was more shock and surprise than anything else as the Irish Express had been derailed.

Rosenblatt was somewhat of a specialist in blowout wins as Chad Parker and Howard Davis Jr, later found out. He finished with a superb record of 37-1-2

Lou Savarese vs. Buster Douglas (June 25, 1998)

This one was on a star-studded event at the Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut. The date was June 25 and I was there. In fact, I recall that Julio Cesar Chavez (with a monster entourage) fought Ken Sigurani on the undercard—yes, I said “undercard.”

Big Lou Savarese, who won his first 36 professional starts, was coming off a win over overmatched Brett Lally but he had lost his two fights prior to that, getting outpointed by George Foreman and then savagely KOed by David Izon.

Buster opened up with his patented stiff jab and some sharp fast-handed combos; he seemed ready to rock and roll. In fact, most thought he would win this one. Suddenly, out of nowhere, he was dropped by a perfect Savarese right. The fans were up and shouting. Then another more malefic right put him down and this time he was visibly hurt. The end was near. After launching a fast and furious volley, Lou ended matters. How do you say “blowout”? The entire affair took just 2.34.

David Lemieux vs. Elvin Ayala (June 11, 2010)

Shock and awe was expected and shock and awe delivered as Lemieux dropped the game Ayala three times in the first round. It would be a precursor to many more Lemieux blitzkrieg wins.

Fast Forward (2019)

Last month, on Jan. 18, Pablo Cesar Cano shocked the boxing world by dropping Jorge Linares three times and scoring a first round TKO. Cano’s size and power at 140 pounds were too much for Linares, a title-holder in three lower weight classes, suggesting that he move back down to 135 pounds.

The first knockdown came just 15 seconds into the match when Cano landed a clubbing right. Then, with 84 seconds on the clock, the second came from another heavy right overhand. Cano then wisely switched to a vicious left hook to send Linares down again and prompting referee Ricky Gonzalez to perform a mercy stoppage.

The seven examples above are representative of a certain kind of fight; a blowout. Can you think of any others that might fit the criteria?

Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and Strongman competitors and plans to compete in at least three events in 2019. He is a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).

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Lipinets and Clayton Battle to a Draw at the Mohegan Sun

Arne K. Lang

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Tonight’s PBC show at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino, billed as a “Showtime Special Edition,” was to feature Sergey Lipinets against Kudratillo Abdukakhorov in the main event. That match-up would have pit fighters born in neighboring countries in Central Asia, the first major fight of its kind on American soil, but Uzbekistan’s Abdukakhorov had visa problems and a Canadian filled the breach.

Custio Clayton, whose 18-0 record was suspect because he had done all his fighting in Eastern Canada, proved to be more than just a worthy opponent. The 33-year-old ex-Olympian from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia held Lipinets (now 16-1-1) to a draw and the general feeling was that he had done just enough to edge it out. Don Trella scored the 12-round welterweight bout for him (115-113), but Trella’s counterparts Glen Feldman and Tom Schreck both had it even at 114 apiece.

Conspicuously bigger than Lipinets – to the eyes if not on the scale – Clayton did his best work in the late rounds. Lipinets, briefly the IBF world 140-pound title-holder (he lost the belt to Mikey Garcia; no shame there) is something of a one-dimensional fighter and as the rounds wore on he connected with fewer punches on the more multi-dimensional Canadian.

In theory, the winner would have been in line for a match with Errol Spence.

Martinez-Marrero

Prior to tonight, Sacramento junior lightweight Xavier Martinez had never fought beyond the eighth round and tonight it appeared that he wouldn’t see the ninth. He was on the deck twice in round eight and nearly didn’t make it to the bell. But he lasted the full 12 to win a well-earned unanimous decision over Claudio Marrero

Marrero, a 31-year-old southpaw from Santo Domingo, DR, was well behind on the scorecards when he caught Martinez with a big right hook shortly after the start of the eighth round. He pressed his advantage and knocked him down again with a flurry of punches. But Martinez recuperated and prevailed on scores of 115-111, 114-112, and 114-112 to keep his undefeated record intact, advancing to 16-0.

This was quite a departure from Martinez’s previous bout when he knocked out his opponent in 21 seconds. Marrero (24-5) lost for the fourth time in his last five outings. The match was billed as a WBA 130-pound title eliminator.

Matias-Hawkins

The TV opener was a 10-round junior lightweight contest between Malik Hawkins and Subriel Matias. Hawkins, a former National Golden Gloves champion from the same Baltimore gym that produced Gervonta Davis, came in undefeated (18-0). Puerto Rico’s Matias, who opened his career with 15 straight knockouts, was looking to rebound from his first defeat, having lost a 10-round decision to Petros Ananyan on the Wilder-Fury 11 undercard.

Matias’s bout with Ananyan was his first start since his match will ill-fated Maxim Dadashev. The Dadashev tragedy may have preyed on his mind, but according to his promoter Juan Orengo, he was lax in his training for Ananyan. Whatever the case, Matias rebounded from that defeat tonight, saddling Hawkins with his first pro loss.

Matias forged ahead in the sixth, knocking Hawkins to his knees and then pursuing him around the ring to apply the finisher. Hawkins survived the onslaught but had no argument when he was pulled out by the ring physician before the next frame.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Juan Francisco Estrada KOs Carlos Cuadras; Chocolatito Wins Too

David A. Avila

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WBC super flyweight world titlist Juan Francisco Estrada led a triumvirate of world title fights with a sizzling knockout victory over Mexican rival Carlos Cuadras to retain the world title and set up a future clash with former foe Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez who won his bout in the co-feature.

In front of a small Mexico City crowd Estrada (41-3, 28 KOs) proved he could defeat Cuadras (39-4-1, 27 KOs) again and did it emphatically to retain his title by knockout. There was no squabbling about scorecards in this clash like their first encounter in 2017 that ended with Estrada by decision.

It did not begin well for Estrada who endured Cuadras imposing his strength and speed behind a very strong left jab in the first three rounds. And then a sneaky right uppercut followed by a left hook sent Estrada down for the count in the third round.

But that only proved to be a spark for the fighter known as “El Gallo.”

Estrada realized he was falling behind, especially after the knockdown. Instead of counter-punching, the boxer from Sonora, Mexico began moving forward and became an aggressor. The dynamics of the fight changed suddenly.

Cuadras was hurt by a body shot in the sixth round and spent most of his time looking to avoid more contact. Estrada was in full control.

Despite the change in momentum no round was easy for either Mexican pugilist. Both exchanged freely always looking to end the fight with a big blow. Though each were hurt at times, neither showed signs of relenting.

From the eighth through the 10th round Cuadras seemed to find a second wind, or maybe it was desperation. The Mexico City native known as “Principe” fought possessed and managed to swing the momentum back toward his way for maybe two of those rounds.

In the 11th round both exchanged blows and Estrada connected with a left and right and down went Cuadras. The former world champion got up and was then floored with a counter right cross. He got up again a little shaky and Estrada attacked with a four-punch combination that forced referee Lupe Garcia to stop the fight for a technical knockout at 2:22 of the round.

Estrada retained the WBC super flyweight world title and will now meet Chocolatito.

Chocolatito

Nicaragua’s Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (50-2, 41 KOs) proved that an opponent like Mexico’s Israel Gonzalez (25-3) can be faster, taller, longer and younger but the Nicaraguan will find a way to beat you. He did that with a convincing unanimous decision win after 12 rounds to retain the WBA super flyweight world title.

Chocolatito will now probably meet Juan Francisco Estrada for a long-expected rematch. In their first encounter back in 2012, the Nicaraguan won by decision in Los Angeles.

Chocolatito looked dominant in his ability to deflect the speedy combinations by the young Mexican fighter Gonzalez. Nothing worked against the Nicaraguan who skillfully manipulated his way through barrage after barrage and connected inside with body shots and uppercuts.

It was a masterful performance.

JC Martinez

Mexico City’s Julio Cesar Martinez (17-1, 13 KOs) was defending his WBC flyweight world title against Moises Calleros (33-10-1) a virtual bantamweight weighing more than 7 pounds over the 112-pound flyweight limit. Even the extra weight could not help him.

In the first round, Martinez exploded with a blistering three-punch combination the sent Calleros to the floor dazed and confused. He beat the count and survived the round.

The second round wasn’t too kind for Calleros who became the punching bag for the quick-fisted Martinez who opened up with a nine-punch salvo that forced the referee Cesar Castanon to end the slaughter at 2:42 of the second round.

Other Bouts

Diego Pacheco (10-0, 8 KOs) used his height and reach to score a knockout with a snapping right uppercut to the chin of Mexico’s Juan Mendez (12-3-2) in a super middleweight fight. The end came at 2:02 of the second round with Mexican referee Rafael Saldana stopping the fight at the perfect moment.

Austin “Ammo” Williams (6-0, 5 KOs) powered through Esau Herrera (19-12-1) with body shots and combination punches to win by knockout in a middleweight battle. The end came at 1:36 of the fifth round.

Otha Jones III (5-0-1, 2 KOs) and Mexico City fighter Kevin Montiel (6-0-1) fought to a split draw after six rounds in a super featherweight clash. Both fighters started quickly with Jones having good rounds in the middle portion of the six-round fight, but he tired and allowed Montiel to rally from behind. The scores were split with 58-56 for Jones, 58-56 for Montiel and 57-57.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Fury’s Next Opponent, Lomachenko Redux and More

Arne K. Lang

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Fury’s Next Opponent, Lomachenko Redux and More

It wasn’t long ago that Bob Arum was talking about potting Fury-Wilder III at Las Vegas’ new Allegiant Stadium in December. But Arum and his business partner Frank Warren have switched gears. Fury-Wilder III is on hold indefinitely.

According to Team Fury, Wilder invalidated the rematch clause in the Articles of Agreement for Wilder-Fury II by failing to activate it within the required time frame. That opened the door for Fury to choose a different opponent for his next fight. The frontrunners are reportedly Agit Kabayel and Carlos Takam. The fight is expected to come off in December in London.

Agit Kabayel, a 28-year-old German of Kurdish descent, is 20-0 (13 KOs). He came to the fore in November of 2017 when he upset dangerous but erratic Dereck Chisora, winning a 12-round decision at the Casino in Monte Carlo. In his most recent fight, in July of this year, he won a lopsided 10-round decision over an obscure opponent before a small gathering (per COVID policy) at a public park in Magdeburg.

Carlos Takam (39-5-1, 28 KOs) is best known for taking Anthony Joshua into the 10th frame before succumbing when they met three years ago this month at Principality Stadium in Wales. Takam was called in from the bullpen when Kubrat Pulev was forced to pull out with a shoulder injury.

In his most recent fight, the 39-year-old French-Cameroonian won a 10-round decision over unheralded Jerry Forrest at the MGM Bubble. As had been true when he was matched up against Joshua, Takam got the call when his opponent’s original opponent fell out. Takam replaced Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller who failed his pre-fight drug test, as was his custom.

In the words of fight writer Kenneth Friedman, regardless of whether it’s Kabayel (pictured) or Takam, “this will be a stay busy fight for Fury, and not one meant to be serious entertainment for the boxing public.”

We appreciate boxing writers who refuse to sugarcoat, but this strikes us as a bit harsh. Kabayel can fight more than a little, and should he get the call he may prove to be as pesky as Otto Wallin.

Lomachenko

It has come out that Vasiliy Lomachenko was damaged goods heading into his bout with Teofimo Lopez. He had a shoulder ailment that forced him to miss a week of training in the gym. This past Monday, Oct. 20, the noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal S. ElAttrache – the head team physician for the LA Dodgers and LA Rams – put Lomachenko under the knife.

Dr. ElAttrache told Yahoo! boxing writer Kevin Iole that Loma had a bruised rotator cuff and a chipped piece of cartilage and that the injury was in the same area in his right shoulder where Vasiliy suffered a torn labrum in his bout with Jorge Linares in May of 2018.

Lomachenko’s promoter Bob Arum said he had no knowledge that the Ukrainian was less than 100 percent. Neither did the bettors. Had the word got out, the wiseguys would have “steamed” the underdog.

We’re reminded of the 1995 fight at the Caesars Palace outdoor arena between Oscar De La Hoya and the late Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez. It leaked out that Hernandez had suffered a broken nose in his final sparring session and the odds favoring De La Hoya zoomed from 4/1 to 17/2.

In the sixth round, a punch from Oscar broke Hernandez’s fragile nose. The blood came down in torrents, Hernandez quit at the conclusion at the round, and the bookies took a bath.

From a betting standpoint, injuries are far more relevant in an individual sport such as boxing than in a team sport. A heavy sports gambler of our acquaintance, now deceased, invariably bet on an NFL team missing one or more key players. “The back-ups were All-Americans too,” he said by way of explanation.

The contract for Lomachenko-Lopez did not include a rematch clause. Teofimo has no interest in a rematch and has earned the right to move on. However, we would bet that most fight fans would love to see them go at it again. Lomachenko is expected to be fit to resume his regular training regimen in January.

Davis vs. Santa Cruz

“In what is being billed as a 50/50 fight….” reads a SHOWTIME press release heralding the forthcoming match between Gervonta “Tank” Davis and Leo Santa Cruz.

What an interesting choice of words. Who exactly is it that is billing this as a 50/50 fight? Certainly not the bookies. As of Friday, Oct. 23, Davis was anywhere from a minus-460 to minus-680 favorite at prominent betting establishments offshore. (For the sake of convenience, let’s just say that Gervonta is a 5/1 favorite.)

No, this is hardly a 50/50 fight, at least not in the view of the bet-takers who have no choice but to be transparent. But in defense of SHOWTIME, this is an intriguing contest between a brash upstart who has yet to taste defeat and a 32-year-old veteran who has suffered only one defeat in 39 starts, a defeat that he avenged.

Gervonta Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) will walk right through Leo Santa Cruz if he fights as well as he did against Jose Pedraza in 2017. But if “Tank” fights as he did later that year against Francisco Fonseca, Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) will make it warm for him.

Davis vs. Santa Cruz will play out on Halloween before a live audience in the San Antonio Alamodome. It is the main attraction of a PPV event with a suggested list price of $74.99. It will be interesting to see what numbers it draws since the show goes head-to-head against an ESPN+ card featuring the U.S. debut of Naoya “Monster” Inoue.

Leonard Ellerbe, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, which handles Tank Davis, has predicted that Davis will someday command “Mayweather money.” He bases this not merely on Davis’s talent, but on his large social media following. The 25-year-old Baltimorean has a big presence among the hip-hop crowd.

At stake in the Davis vs. Santa Cruz fight are a pair of WBA titles hitched to different weight classes. One of the belts at stake is the WBA lightweight title.

Hey, wait a second, didn’t Teofimo Lopez just win this very same title?

In Deadwood, South Dakota, one can visit the saloon where Wild Bill Hickock was shot dead while playing poker. Or one can walk down the street and visit a different saloon that claims to be the place where Hickock was shot dead while playing poker.

WBA president Gilberto Mendoza doesn’t own those two saloons, but he could have.

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