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A Shocker in Philadelphia as Fan Favorite Christian Carto is Knocked Out Cold

Bernard Fernandez

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Carto Results

The ending came suddenly and unexpectedly, a bolt from the blue that no one in the standing-room-only audience could have anticipated.

Well, no one with the possible exception of the guy who landed the second-round bomb that left 1,300 or so spectators shocked and concerned for the welfare of the very popular young fighter they had come to cheer and support.

Victor Ruiz, a 28-year-old southpaw from Tijuana, Mexico, no doubt understood that he had been brought to the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia to serve as the 18th consecutive victim for Christian Carto, who was being touted as his hometown’s best and most exciting bantamweight since another South Philly favorite, “Joltin’” Jeff Chandler, was crafting a career that would gain him enshrinement into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2000.

But the capacity-plus audience, well-dotted by Carto fans wearing shirts bearing his likeness, went from lusty screams of encouragement to instant, stunned silence when Ruiz delivered an overhand left that caught Carto flush on the jaw as he was moving forward. Carto, 22, was unconscious before he went down, making no attempt to cushion the landing. And when his head bounced off the canvas, referee Eric Dali didn’t even attempt to initiate a count, immediately signaling for the ring doctor to attend to the stricken fighter. It went into the books as a second-round knockout after an elapsed time of one minute, 56 seconds.

“Christian leaped in with his hands down into a perfect left,” said Carto’s cut man, Joey Eye. “The guy (Ruiz) was a world championship contender once and he knows how to fight. Christian got a little too confident and you saw what happened. It’s part of the business.

“He was out, really out, for over a minute. I know because I was counting the seconds. I was getting more and more nervous because he wasn’t responding at all. But he did come around eventually. Hopefully, he’ll be OK.”

Carto’s neck was immobilized and after a delay of several minutes he was taken from the ring on a gurney for transport to nearby Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for treatment and observation. He was able to briefly raise a gloved hand to acknowledge a concerned Ruiz, who, after celebrating his upset victory, knelt over Carto in an expression of concern when he realized the possible seriousness of his opponent’s condition.

It was later reported, encouragingly, that Carto’s CT scan came back negative.

Ruiz (23-10-1, 16 KOs) arguably was the best, most accomplished fighter Carto (17-1, 11 KOs) had faced on what had been a steady progression toward what many considered, and maybe still do, would result in real stardom. The crafty Mexican is a former world championship challenger, losing his only bid for a widely recognized title when he was stopped in seven rounds by IBF bantamweight ruler Zolani Tete of South Africa on June 4, 2016, in Liverpool, England.  But Ruiz arrived in Philadelphia having lost four straight and five of his last six, and the official program for the “Philly Special” card almost dismissively described his presence in the scheduled eight-round main event thusly: “It’s easy to say that Ruiz has fought better opponents – he has – but the bottom line is that he lost to most of them. This is the right fight at the right time for Carto.”

Ruiz – his four-bout losing streak had come against quality fighters who were a combined 49-3-2 at the time he fought them — had other ideas than to serve as anyone’s steppingstone, as was indicated by his  comments to lead promoter Michelle Rosado of Raging Babe Promotions the morning before the fight almost everyone expected him to dutifully lose.

“I took him to breakfast at IHOP,” Rosado noted. “I asked him what he knew about Carto. He said, `We know who he is. He’s a white kid, Italian(-American). He’s got a big following. Oh, and I’m going to knock him out.’”

It hardly seems to matter much now, but Carto won a feel-out first round on all three official scorecards, which seemed to have emboldened him to come out for round two in a more aggressive mode. After winning his first 11 pro bouts inside the distance, Carto had been obliged to settle for points nods in his next six outings and he might have been eager to end his KO drought.

“Then he walked into a shot that landed perfect, a looping left as he was walking in,” said Hall of Fame promoter J Russell Peltz, who was at ringside.

Peltz offered the opinion that it would “probably be at least six months” before Carto would be able to fight again, but that is only a guess. Some fighters never recover from the kind of knockout he sustained against Ruiz, mentally if not physically, and how he reacts moving forward is anyone’s guess.

“He’s a strong kid, and young,” Joey Eye noted. “Is he going to be gun-shy every time he gets in the ring from now on? Or is it going to make him so pissed off that he goes after everybody. You don’t know.”

Ruiz’s exclamation-point victory in the marquee bout rendered what had taken place in the preceding six bouts almost meaningless, but an otherwise uninspiring undercard was salvaged in the lead-in to Carto-Ruiz as North Philly welterweight Marcel Rivers (7-0, 4 KOs) registered an exciting and competitive six-round unanimous decision over Derrick Whitley (4-1-1), a southpaw from Springfield, Mass. All three judges favored Rivers by 58-56, but Whitley could have made a case for winning by the same margin, nor would a draw been out of the question.

Bouts involving two highly regarded Philly heavyweights, however, hardly seemed to justify the hype. Darmani Rock (14-0, 9 KOs), the 2015 National Golden Gloves super heavyweight champion from the city’s Germantown section, at 273.3 pounds has a jiggly physique seemingly more suitable to being harpooned than punched, but Steven Lyons (5-4, 2 KOs), from Houma, La., with a weight disadvantage of 66.6 pounds, seemed disinclined to engage from the start in a scheduled six-rounder, finally going down on one knee after being hit with a couple of body shots and being counted out at 1:20 of the fourth round. That fight, however, almost could pass for Ali-Frazier I in comparison to the pro debut of much-touted South Philly big man Sonny Conto, the 2018 National Golden Gloves super heavyweight runner-up from South Philly who was credited with a first-round TKO of Jimmie Levins (0-5), from Buffalo, N.Y. The inept Levins went down five times in the first round, all of which were ruled slips by Dali, although in fairness it should be noted that Conto did land a left hook preceding Levins’ fifth trip to the deck. Fight fans will see more of Conto, enough of a prospect that megapromotional company Top Rank has an interest in him, but Greg Sirb, executive director of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission, said that Levins should not expect to ever again appear in a fight in which he has jurisdiction.

In other bouts, bantamweights Alejandro Jimenez (4-0-1, 1 KO), of New Hope, Pa., and Edgar Cortes (6-4-1), of Vineland, N.J., fought to a six-round split draw; junior welterweight Gerardo Martinez (4-1, 1 KO), Coatesville, Pa., scored a four-round majority decision over Osnel Charles (12-19-1, 2 KOs), of Atlantic City, N.J., and bantamweight Jonathan Torres (2-0), of Bethlehem, Pa., won a four-round unanimous decision over Dallas Holden (1-4), of Atlantic City.

Bernard Fernandez is the retired boxing writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. He is a five-term former president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, an inductee into the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame and the recipient of the Nat Fleischer Award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism and the Barney Nagler Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing.

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Daniel Jacobs Edges Past Gabe Rosado on a Matchroom card in Florida

David A. Avila

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Former world champion Daniel Jacobs needed the last round to win by split decision against upset-minded Gabe Rosado and keep his place in line on Friday for lucrative super middleweight matchups.

But when the ring announcer erroneously announced the winner was from Philadelphia, confusion reigned for a moment until Jacobs was correctly called the winner.

Brooklyn’s Jacobs (37-3, 30 KOs) jumped out ahead against Philly fighter Rosado (25-13-1, 14 KOs) and held on for the win in front of no fans at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. For a second, many thought Rosado had won.

Both were careful during the first three rounds measuring each other’s distance and looking for openings to counter. There were very few.

It was the kind of fight expected by those who know boxing: two veterans with immense experience against top-flight world champions. Mistakes were few.

Jacobs, a former middleweight world champion, had fought Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in close but losing efforts.

Rosado had battled Golovkin too, six years ago in a bloody affair that ended in a loss. He had also lost to other champions like Peter Quillin and Jermell Charlo. But none were able to knock him out.

Both were aware of each other’s reputation. Bitter words had been exchanged for years and now they finally got their chance to prove their mettle and they did.

Though Jacobs was recognized as a knockout puncher, Rosado’s resilience was just as well known. Both neutralized each other for most of the fight with their feints and jabs to the body. Neither was willing to leave openings for each other.

Jacobs scored big with a left uppercut at the end of the seventh round. While Rosado wowed viewers with a sizzling right cross in the 11th round.

It was 1950s style, boxing with intelligence. Each found it difficult to land combinations, let alone find openings to score knockout blows. Instead, they had to be satisfied with scoring enough to convince three judges the actual winner.

Neither was able to pull out ahead with any conviction.

After 12 rounds one judge saw Rosado the winner 115-113 while two others saw Jacobs the winner 115-113 to give him the win by split decision.

“It felt just a little weird. It felt like a sparring match,” said Jacobs about fighting without fans in the audience. “This wasn’t a valiant effort.”

Rosado was certain he was the true winner.

“I thought I won the fight. I surprised him,” said Rosado who trained with Freddie Roach for this fight. “I’m a veteran, I know how to fight.”

Indeed, he does.

Jacobs now stands poised to fight one of many super middleweight champions in need of a marquee name.

“I live to see another day,” he said honestly.

Other Bouts

Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Yeleussinov (10-0, 6 KOs) proved he was not an easy touch and knocked out former world champion Julius Indongo (23-3, 12 KOs) to march forward in the welterweight division while grabbing the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title.

In a fight featuring southpaw versus southpaw Yeleussinov caught Indongo with a roundhouse left the first time they exchanged and down went the former super lightweight world champion. Indongo beat the count and survived the round.

Indongo wasn’t as lucky in the second round as Yeleussinov again connected with a left and down went the fighter from Namibia again. He would not get up at 1:24 of round two giving the knockout win for Yeleussinov.

A battle between undefeated heavyweights saw Azerbaijan’s Mahammadrasul Majidov (3-0, 3 KOs) use roundhouse rights to stagger the heavier Sahret Delgado (8-1) to win by knockout in the third round. Majidov actually helped Delgado get to his stool after knocking him out on his feet at 47 seconds of the third round.

Emmanuel Tagoe (32-1) defeated Mason Menard (36-5) by majority decision after a 10- round lightweight fight that saw a lot of clinching and leaning.

Nikita “White Chocolate” Ababiy (10-0) out-fought Detroit’s Brandon Maddox (7-4-1) to win by unanimous decision after six rounds in a middleweight clash. Ababiy hurt Maddox with body shots but found Maddox more resilient than expected.

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Pradabsri Upsets Menayothin, Ends the Longest Unbeaten Streak of Modern Times

Arne K. Lang

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Pradabsri-Upsets-Menayothin-Ends-the-Longest-Unbeaten-Streak-of-Modern-Times

During the wee hours in the Americas, a big upset was brewing in Thailand. In Nakhon Sawan, a city roughly 150 miles north of Bangkok, Panya Pradabsri (aka Petchmanee CP Freshmart) out-pointed Wanheng Menayothin (aka Chayaphon Moonsri) in a domestic clash with international significance. Manayothin entered the bout with a 54-0 (18) record and was making the 13th defense of his WBC world minimumweight title.

Pradabsri had been defeated only once in 35 previous starts, but only 11 of his 34 victories had come against fighters with winning records. According to ringside reports, he kept Menayothin at bay with good fundamentals, a stiff jab, and good lateral movement. All three judges had it 115-113. The fight wasn’t without controversy as Menayothin finished stronger and many folks scoring off the live video thought that he had done just enough to retain his title.

How good was/is Menayothin? That’s a question that serious boxing fans will likely debate for decades.

In the summer of 2019, Menayothin signed a co-promotional deal with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. At time, GBP president Eric Gomez described him as one of the best fighters in the world. “We really want to bring him to the U.S. so people can see how talented he really is,” Gomez told England’s Sky Sports.

Menayothin was expected to make his U.S. debut in April of this year, but the pandemic ruined that plan. Earlier this year, he announced his retirement, but rescinded it after only two days.

Scottish boxing historian Matt McGrain, who has an exclusive arrangement with this web site, had lukewarm opinion of the Thai mighty-mite although he rated him the second-best 105-pound boxer of the decade, trailing only his countryman Thammanoon Niyomtrong (aka Knockout CP Freshmart).

“He is disciplined, strong, brings good pressure and is armed with a very decent range of punches,” said McGrain, “(but his record) is comprised mostly of men any competent fighter would be expected to beat.”

Although only one boxer from Thailand has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (Khaosai Galaxy, class of 1999), the Southeast Asia nation has produced some outstanding boxers over the years – Chartchoi Chionoi, Sot Chitalada, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to name just a few. The difference between these fighters and Wanheng Menayothin is that they all left the comfort zone of their homeland to score one or more important wins on foreign soil.

Menayothin may yet display his wares in a U.S. ring. But at age 35, an advanced age for small fighters in particular, we won’t get to see him at his best and now that his bubble has been burst, disinviting further comparisons to Mayweather and Marciano, the curiosity factor has been tempered.

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Yoka vs. Hammer Kicks Off the Thanksgiving Weekend Slate on ESPN+

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PRESS RELEASE— Tony Yoka, the dynamic heavyweight punching Parisian, aims to impress in his ESPN platform debut. Yoka, who won a super heavyweight gold medal for France at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will fight veteran Christian Hammer in a 10-rounder Friday at H Arena in Nantes, France.

Yoka-Hammer will stream live and exclusively this Friday, Nov. 27 in the United States on ESPN+ beginning at 2:55 p.m. ET/11:55 a.m. PT.

The ESPN+ stream will also include the return of unbeaten 2016 French Olympic gold medalist Estelle Yoka-Mossely against Pasa Malagic in an eight-round lightweight bout. Yoka and Yoka-Mossely, who have been married since 2018, welcomed their second child in May.

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Earlier this year, Yoka inked a promotional agreement with Top Rank, which will co-promote him with Ringstar France.

“Tony Yoka’s potential is limitless, and he is a grounded young man who is motivated to be a great professional fighter,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “France has never had a world heavyweight champion, and I believe Tony is the one to bring the sport’s biggest honor home.”

The 28-year-old Yoka’s stellar amateur run included a berth at the 2012 London Olympics and gold medals at the 2015 World Championships and 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Before his triumph in Rio, he’d already defeated the likes of former heavyweight world champion Joseph Parker and current undefeated prospects Joe Joyce and Ivan Dychko. At the Rio Olympics, he defeated Croatian standout Filip Hrgović in the semifinals and edged Joyce in the gold medal match.

As a professional, Yoka (8-0, 7 KOs) made his debut in June 2017 with a second-round stoppage over the previously undefeated Travis Clark. Apart from a decision win over Jonathan Rice in his second outing, Yoka has stopped every foe, including durable Englishman David “White Rhino” Allen and former European champion Alexander Dimitrenko. He made his 2020 debut Sept. 25 and stopped former world title challenger Johann Duhaupas in one round.

Hammer (25-6, 15 KOs) has fought many of the leading heavyweight names during his 12-year career, falling short against Tyson Fury, Luis Ortiz and Alexander Povetkin. He’s notched myriad upset victories, including a highlight-reel knockout over David Price and a 2016 split decision over Erkan Teper for the WBO European belt. In March 2019, he went the 10-round distance against Ortiz and has not been stopped since Fury forced him to retire on his stool after eight rounds in their February 2015 clash.

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