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A Bevy of Tarnished Heavyweights Vie to Become the Next Bermane Stiverne

Arne K. Lang

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Stiverne

In the murky shadows of heavyweight boxing, several fighters with recognizable names are jockeying to become the next Bermane Stiverne, by which we mean the next pawn in the career of a well-connected up-and-comer, someone such as Filip Hrgovic who recently linked up with powerful promoter Eddie Hearn. Hrgovic and other talented fighters at his stage of development are in search of opponents, more specifically sacrificial lambs, the most alluring of whom are those with recognizable names. And the chosen few get a nice paycheck to assuage their hurt and keep their creditors at bay.

Leading candidates to be the next pawn include former titlist Charles Martin and two-time world title challenger Chris Arreola (pictured), who will both be in action on the Spence-Garcia pay-per-view card. Martin (25-2-1) opposes Gregory Corbin (15-0) and Arreola (37-5-1) meets Jean Pierre Augustin (17-0-1). And then there’s Samuel Peter who appeared on a show this past weekend in Tijuana, thereby sending a message that if the money is right he would welcome an opportunity to go overseas and serve as a building block for someone like Hrgovic, a role for which Sam Peter is well-practiced.

Arreola

Chris Arreola, who turns 38 in a few days, is a three-time world title challenger, succumbing inside the distance to Vitali Klitschko, Bermane Stiverne, and Deontay Wilder. His best win was a first round stoppage of Eric Molina, but that was long ago. In his most recent bout against a noted opponent, he out-pointed Travis Kaufman by split decision, a verdict that was changed to “ND” when his post-fight urine exam showed traces of marijuana.

This was the second time that Arreola was exposed as a consumer of the “evil weed.” Back in 2011, his victory over Friday Ahunanya, a wide 10-round decision, was also voided. Take away those two no-decisions and Arreola’s ledger improves to 39-5-1.

Arreola’s opponent on March 16, Jean Pierre Augustin, is a 31-year-old Haitian currently residing in Louisville. A part-time actor with a few movie credits to his name, Augustin’s last fight was in the Mexican/Arizona border town of Agua Prieta where he defeated a no-name fighter who reportedly carried 334 ½ pounds on a six-foot-two frame.

Arreola says that he will retire if he loses this fight. In an interview with a writer from East Side Boxing, Chris acknowledged that he felt soreness in the mornings after a session in the gym, soreness that he did not feel in his younger days. We have no clue what Augustin will bring to the table, but Arreola will be favored and if he wins, as expected, a substantially richer payday likely awaits him around the next corner.

Arreola has a lot of mileage on his odometer, however, and is a strong candidate for pugilistic dementia if he keeps fighting.

Martin

Charles Martin won the vacant IBF title in January of 2016 with a third round stoppage of Vyacheslav Glazkov and gave it up in his first defense when he was demolished by Anthony Joshua who stopped him in the second round. His tenure as a heavyweight title-holder lasted 85 days, the shortest on record.

Martin’s win over Glazkov was tainted. Glazkov slipped as his feet got tangled with Martin’s and he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee as he fell to the canvas. To that point, the fight was shaping up as a dreary affair.

In his last start, Martin and undefeated Adam Kownacki engaged in an entertaining slugfest. Martin came out on the short end of a close decision, but regained some of his lost stature.

Gregory Corbin, his next opponent, is 38 years old. We have never seen Corbin fight but we suspect he will be competitive. Before he went off to prison for seven-and-a-half years on a cocaine trafficking conviction, Corbin was a national Golden Gloves champion.

Partly because his tenure as a title-holder was so short, Charles Martin is widely considered the worst heavyweight champion of the four-belt era. Bermane Stiverne also warrants consideration for that dubious honor and perhaps also Oliver McCall.

We mention McCall, now 53 years old, only because, sad but true, he’s still active. The erstwhile Atomic Bull has a fight scheduled on the last Saturday of March against a tub of lard named Ronald Baca in Robstown, Texas.

Samuel Peter

Peter brought a record of 36-6 (29 KOs) into his match this past Friday with Gerardo Escobar at Cheer’s Bar in Tijuana. We don’t know the result of that fight — it’s not up on BoxRec and a google search came up empty — but we’ll take it on faith that Peter prevailed and likely without working up much of a sweat. In documented fights, Escobar was 2-21 and had been stopped 15 times.

Peter had previously used Tijuana as a steppingstone. In October of 2016, he defeated a boxer from Mexicali named Juan Carlos Salas in this hardscrabble city. Salas, who was mired in a 7-fight losing streak, quit after three rounds. That triumph propelled Samuel Peter into a match with Kubrat Pulev in Bulgaria where it was he who quit on his stool after three rounds. He was undoubtedly well compensated.

There was a day when Peter was being touted as the next big thing in the heavyweight division. His vicious one-punch knockout of Jeremy Williams stamped him as the division’s hardest hitter since Mike Tyson. There was a lot of smart money on the Nigerian Nightmare when he opposed Wladimir Klitschko in 2005 in Atlantic City in Peter’s first stab at a heavyweight title. He knocked Klitschko down three times but lost most of the rounds and lost by three points on all three scorecards.

Six fights later, Peter won the WBC title with a sixth round stoppage of Oleg Maskaev, but he lost the belt in his first defense, falling to Vitali Klitschko. This was Vitali’s first start after sitting out almost four years while rehabbing an assortment of injuries, but Peter was the one that looked rusty. He retired on his stool after eight lopsided rounds.

Peter went on to secure a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko. In 2010, Wladimir stopped him in the 10th round at Frankfurt. Peter then became an opponent for rising contenders like Finland’s 14-0 Robert Helenius, who stopped him in nine frames, and the aforementioned Pulev. He came in at 271 pounds for Pulev, 20 pounds less than in a 2014 bout with a no-name opponent in Oklahoma City, but 28 pounds more than he carried in his first meeting with Wladimir Klitschko when he was at his peak.

Samuel Peter has seemingly been around forever, but he’s “only” 38 years old, younger than Luis Ortiz or Alexander Povetkin, or several others in his pod, soiled fighters with marketable names chasing one last stab at fistic glory or at least one more big paycheck to cushion their transition into the next phase of their lives.

We’re quite certain we haven’t seen the last of Samuel Peter. He just may be the next Bermane Stiverne.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Ramirez-Postol, Taylor-Serrano and More

Arne K. Lang

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It takes a strong constitution to be a boxing promoter because things always go wrong. The only law that governs boxing is Murphy’s Law.

Carl Frampton’s first fight under the Top Rank banner was slated for Aug. 10 of last year in Philadelphia. With the fight five days away, Frampton suffered a freak injury while sitting in a hotel lobby. A boy playing behind a curtain knocked over a seven-foot pillar which fell on Frampton’s left hand, fracturing it.

This was the second time that a Frampton fight was knocked out by a freak injury. Two years earlier, a homecoming fight in Belfast had to be scrapped when Frampton’s opponent, Andres Gutierrez, slipped in the shower in his hotel on the eve of the battle and suffered severe facial injuries.

The latest bout to fall out because of an odd development is Jose Ramirez’s Feb. 2 WBC/WBO lightweight title defense against Viktor Postol at a Chinese golf resort south of Hong Kong. The event fell victim to the coronavirus, more exactly the fear it has instilled.

The virus, which produces flu-like symptoms that are resistant to conventional antibiotics, apparently originated at an outdoor food market in the city of Wuhan where live animals are sold. The numbers vary with each new story, but according to one account there have been 444 confirmed cases in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital city, and 653 cases worldwide including two in the United States, a man in his 30’s living near Seattle and a Chicago woman in her 60’s.

The fear of a pandemic (an epidemic becomes a pandemic when it spreads across multiple geographic regions of the world) has led to some drastic measures. The Chinese government has reportedly put 12 cities on lockdown, blocking traffic in and out. At many airports, visitors arriving from China are being screened. There are now thermal cameras than can record a person’s body temperature remotely.

Jose Ramirez (pictured with his promoter Bob Arum) was scheduled to leave for China yesterday (Jan. 23) but was intercepted. Viktor Postol is already there and apparently stranded until an outgoing flight can be arranged.

The Ramirez-Postol fight was to air on ESPN. No make-up date has been set.

– – –

British promoter Eddie Hearn says he’s close to finalizing a fight between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano. Hearn says the fight will take place in the U.S. in April. It figures that Madison Square Garden is the frontrunner.

If the fight comes off on schedule, this will be the biggest women’s fight in history!

That’s because the odds attached to the fight figure to be in the “pick-‘em” range and that guarantees that boxing writers and others in the boxing community will be surveyed to get their picks – about which there figures to be considerable disagreement – and that will greatly enhance the pre-fight buzz.

Taylor, 33, last fought in November in Manchester, England, advancing her record to 15-0 (6 KOs) with a unanimous decision over Christina Linardatou, a fighter from Greece via the Dominican Republic. It was Taylor’s first fight at 140 after previously unifying the lightweight title with a hard-fought decision over Belgium’s Delfine Persoon.

Amanda Serrano, a 31-year-old southpaw, born in Puerto Rico and raised in Brooklyn, has won titles in five weight divisions. She last fought as a featherweight, turning away gritty Heather Hardy, but has competed as high as 140. Boasting a 37-1-1 record, she’s won 23 straight, 18 by stoppage, 10 in the opening round

What sets women boxers apart from their male counterparts is that the women have a significantly lower knockout ratio. Amanda Serrano is the glaring exception.

Despite a less eye-catching record, Taylor has arguably fought the stiffer competition considering her extensive amateur background. As a pro, her victims include Cindy Serrano, Amanda’s older sister by six years. Taylor whitewashed her in a match at Boston Garden, prompting the elder Serrano sister to call it a career.

– – –

The most bizarre (non)story to appear in a boxing web site this week involved former unified heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe. A man representing Bowe, identified as Eli Karabell, was frustrated because Eddie Hearn wasn’t returning his calls. Karabell had offered Hearn the right of first refusal on Bowe’s next fight.

Bowe, now 51 years old, last fought in a boxing ring in 2008 when he returned to the sport after a three-and-half year absence for an 8-round bout in Germany. In 2013, he appeared in a kickboxing fight in Thailand where he was stopped in the second round after being knocked down five times by leg kicks.

“Will there be another chapter to write for Bowe?” concluded the author of this piece.

Egads, let’s hope not.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Crawford, Canelo, Caleb Plant and More

Arne K. Lang

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Crawford, Canelo, Caleb Plant and More

Although a lot of disinformation comes out of the mouths of boxing promoters, Bob Arum was apparently serious when he broached the idea of a two-fight series between Terence Crawford and Conor McGregor, the first fight to be conducted under MMA rules and the second under boxing rules.

Crawford is amenable. “I just have to have the proper time to prepare myself,” he told ESPN’s Dan Rafael. “…I haven’t been in that (wrestling) environment in a long time, but most definitely I feel I can compete with anyone given the proper time to train on the MMA side, being that I have a wrestling background.”

Crawford, 32, last wrestled in middle school so he would certainly need a refresher course. However, he would have a better chance of defeating Conor McGregor in an MMA match than McGregor would have of defeating him in a boxing match. So, if Arum’s proposed two-fight series ever comes off, the tailpiece may be unnecessary.

– – –

As first reported by ESPN’s Steve Kim, Andy Ruiz Jr. has dumped trainer Manny Robles. According to Kim’s report, Ruiz’s father informed Robles of the decision and said it was Al Haymon’s idea.

Andy Ruiz appears to be one of those people that can gain weight just looking at food. He weighed 297 ½ pounds for his pro debut at age 19, carried 268 pounds for his first meeting with Anthony Joshua, and ballooned up to 283 ½ for the rematch after leading reporters to believe that he had actually slimmed down for the sequel.

Ruiz, noted Kim, went from a feel-good story to a cautionary tale in just six months.

– – –

Who ya’ gonna believe?

A certain disreputable web site, bragging that it had an exclusive, told its readers that Canelo Alvarez had settled on Billy Joe Saunders as his next opponent and that they would meet on Cinco de Mayo in Las Vegas. The next day, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, a far more trustworthy source, reported that Ryota Murata had emerged as the frontrunner and that negotiations were underway to stage the fight in Japan.

Perhaps it makes sense for Canelo to promote his brand in a new market. However, if he fights Murata, who holds a WBA belt, he would reportedly be dropping back to 160 and at age 29 he appears to have outgrown the weight class.

Stay tuned.

– – –

If Caleb Plant were an NBA player, his name would be Kevin Love. Plant, who recently married FOX/PBC reporter Jordan Hardy, is the only U.S.-born, non-Hispanic white person among the various champions in the 17 weight divisions.

Plant, who hails from tiny Ashland City, Tenn. (23 miles from Nashville) defends his IBF super middleweight title on Feb. 15 at Nashville’s 20,000-seat Bridgestone Arena. In the opposite corner will be Germany’s Vincent Feigenbutz who will be making his U.S. debut.

The 24-year-old Feigenbutz, who turned pro at age 16, has won 10 straight and 30 of his last 31. He represents a big step up in class from Plant’s last opponent, Mike Lee, who was in way over his head.

– – –

A sad note from South Africa: Five days after the death of trailblazer Peter Mathebula, his widow, Emma Gabaitsiwe Mathebula, died suddenly of an apparent heart attack. Peter Mathebula’s funeral, originally set for Saturday, has been pushed back until Tuesday and will now be a joint funeral.

Mathebula, who won the WBA world flyweight title in 1980, basically died a pauper, having sold all of  his boxing memorabilia to keep his head above water. His heirs had reached out to the government for assistance in defraying the costs of his burial.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 82: Jason Quigley Returns to SoCal and More

David A. Avila

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Southern California prizefighting heats up with Jason Quigley headlining a fight card in Orange County and then, two days later, another fight card takes place in the heart of Los Angeles.

Ireland’s Quigley (17-1, 13 KOs) faces Mexico’s Fernando Marin (16-4-3, 12 KOs) on Thursday Jan. 23, at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa, Calif. DAZN will stream the Golden Boy Promotions fight card live.

Quigley, 28, seeks to reclaim territory lost when he suffered a defeat last July against Tureano Johnson. Ironically, Marin would lose 10 days later in Hollywood to super welterweight contender Serhii Bohachuk.

For several years Quigley had trained in Southern California but decided to change trainers and location. He moved to Great Britain and still prepares near his native country but primarily fights in the U.S.

At one time Quigley clamored for a match against Gennady “GGG” Golovkin or Saul “Canelo” Alvarez but now finds himself trying to prove he belongs in the upper tier of the middleweight division. It’s loaded with talent.

Also on the same fight card will be popular North Hollywood super welterweight Ferdinand Kerobyan who was headed to contender status when he ran into Blair “the Flair” Cobbs. At the time Cobbs was an unknown quantity but no longer.

Kerobyan (13-1, 8 KOs) meets Azael Cosio (21-8-2) in an eight-round clash in the semi-main event at OC Hangar. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Red Boxing International

On Saturday Jan. 27, Red Boxing International hosts its first boxing card of the year at Leonardo’s Night Club located at 6617 Wilson Ave. L.A. 90001. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Super welterweight Bryan Flores (13-1, 6 KOs) meets Brandon Baue (15-17) in the main event  in the first event of the year for the ambitious promotion company. For the past two years Flores fought primarily in Tijuana, Mexico where he racked up six wins. Now he’s back on Southern California soil.

Another match features lightweights Angel Israel Rodriguez (5-0) facing off against Braulio Avila (3-6) in a six-round fight.

Rodriguez fights out of Pico Rivera, Calif. but recently fought in Costa Rica where he won by first round knockout in November. He will be fighting Avila who just fought two weeks ago at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif.

It’s a long fight card with 11 bouts on the schedule.

JRock and Rosario

Boxing fans received another lesson on never underestimating a ranked contender regardless of the name recognition.

Jeison Rosario knocked out Julian “J Rock” Williams who was making the first defense of the WBA and IBF super welterweight world titles he won last year in my selection as “Fight of the Year.”

Rosario walked in with little recognition and was thought to be a soggy piece of bread for Williams. The long armed Dominican fighter walloped Williams in front of his hometown fans in Philadelphia. It was yet another warning for fans to understand that anyone who steps in the boxing ring ranked as a contender can do the unthinkable. In this case Rosario knocked out the champion in five rounds.

Many felt Williams was far too skilled, especially on the inside where he showcased those skills last May against former titlist Jarret Hurd. It was a remarkable display of the art of inside fighting. But against Rosario, he never got a chance to exhibit those skills.

The loaded super welterweight division has another dangerous champion in Rosario.

Fights to Watch

Thurs. 6 p.m. DAZN – Jason Quigley (17-1) vs Fernando Marin (16-4-3).

Sat. 6 p.m. Showtime – Danny Garcia (35-2) vs Ivan Redkach (23-4-1).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

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