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Gloria Allred: ‘Clearly This (Unwanted Kiss) Brings Boxing in Disrepute’

Arne K. Lang

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Allred: Unwanted Kiss

Feminist attorney Gloria Allred, who is 77 years old and looks decades younger, was a newsmaker long before the recent spate of sexual misconduct scandals greatly enhanced her profile. Nearly four decades have elapsed since the law firm she co-founded, Allred, Maroko & Goldberg, successfully sued Save-On, compelling the drugstore chain to stop the practice of consigning boys and girls toys to separate sections of their stores.

Allred’s newest client is Jennifer Ravalo who was the recipient of an unwanted kiss on the lips from Bulgarian boxer Kubrat Pulev, an incident that occurred in Costa Mesa, CA, on the evening of March 23 in a tent adjacent to the boxing pavilion where Kubrat had just defeated Bogdan Dinu. Ravalo was videotaping the interview for Vegas Sports Daily.

Yesterday (Thursday, March 28) Allred held a press conference at her Los Angeles law office that was live-streamed on her Facebook page. The conference opened with Ravalo reading a prepared statement, after which those in attendance were shown the video of the incident, a video they had undoubtedly seen before as it had gone viral on the internet.

This wasn’t by any means a lingering kiss and Ravalo didn’t recoil in revulsion – just the opposite, she laughed and said “thank you” — but she was clearly taken aback and her reaction at this awkward moment could well be interpreted as a de-escalation reflex.

On social media and in old-fashioned print publications, Kubrat Pulev has been the object of considerable scorn. Here’s freelance journalist Sirena Bergman commenting on the incident in The Independent: “It is of course disturbing to see a woman be forced into what appears to be unwanted sexual contact, but there’s something particularly despicable about it happening to her at her workplace.”

After the video went viral and he started getting a lot of heat, Kubrat Pulev attempted to cool things down by saying that he and Jennifer Ravalo were friends, an allegation that Ravalo denies. Moreover, she alleges that Pulev was guilty of another transgression later that evening when he forcefully grabbed and squeezed her buttocks at an after-party.

In her formal statement, Ravalo related that she first met Pulev at the weigh-in the previous day, during which he gave his consent to a post-fight interview. At the after-party, said Ravalo, Pulev asked her to delete the kiss from the video.

“I didn’t remove it, instead I posted it,” she said, “because I wanted people to see what he did to me. I wanted him to be accountable. I didn’t want him to get away with it. What he did to me was disgusting. I felt humiliated.” She then said that she reached out to Gloria Allred because “I felt that Ms. Allred can help me impose consequences.”

I wasn’t familiar with Vegas Sports Daily, the web site Ravalo (who also goes by the name Jenny SuShe) represented. It’s a boutique operation, likely a start-up, and I’m guessing it isn’t even published in Las Vegas although the main focus is on the city’s burgeoning sports scene. TSS West Coast Bureau Chief David Avila, an affable man who seemingly is on a first-name basis with everybody associated with boxing in Southern California, tells me he has never met her.

Shortly before the unwanted kiss, Ravalo posed this “question” to Kubrat Pulev: “You’re a tactical, sound fighter; you’re amazing to watch.” From this utterance, I inferred that as a sports journalist, she is a rookie, as we all were at one time.

Ravalo has an entrepreneurial bent. She started her own company, “Su She Art,” a catering service that began at a Costa Mesa farmers market. Her company caters events where sushi is served with floral accouterments on a flexible serving plank resting on the naked bodies of attractive young women whose private parts, we should note, are discreetly covered.

After reading her prepared statement, Ravalo wasn’t allowed to talk. Following the short video, the press conference morphed into the Gloria Allred Show.

Allred referenced Pulev’s behavior as a sexual assault and read from a letter she had e-mailed to Andy Foster, the head of the California State Athletic Commission. In the letter, she cited a section of the California code which says that the main responsibility of the California State Athletic Commission is to protect the public from harm. That didn’t happen in Costa Mesa, said Allred, as her client, although there in a professional capacity, was a member of the public.

Allred noted that the commission has been imbued with the power to suspend any licensee deemed to have brought discredit to the sport of boxing. Ergo, she has requested that Pulev be suspended until the commission can take up the matter at their next scheduled meeting on May 14.

If the CSAC heeds her recommendation, she said, “It will be a teaching moment for (Pulev) and other boxers. Clearly (his behavior) brings boxing in disrepute…It causes a lack of respect for boxers.”

Allred’s law firm specializes in sexual harassment cases. On their web site, the firm boasts that they are “Masters at Confidential Pre-litigation Settlements.”

And we suspect that is how this case will play out, with the plaintiff electing to drop the matter in return for some consideration. And then we’ll let the reader decide whether justice was served or whether the resolution was the handiwork of an extortionist.

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Remembering ‘Rocky Estafire,’ One Tough Syrian

Ted Sares

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On Sept. 9, 1978, a Bayonne, New Jersey brawler who was billed as Rocky Estafire when he was first starting out, stopped slick Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts in Jersey City giving notice that he was becoming a force to be reckoned with in the middleweight division. Watts was no slouch having split a pair with Marvelous Marvin Hagler.

”Strictly LaMotta style,” said Paddy Flood of his fighter who would come to be known by his real name, Mustafa Hamsho.

In 1980, he beat undefeated Wilford Scypion and followed that up with close wins over Curtis Parker and Alan Minter in 1981 leading to his first of two title clashes with Hagler. This bloody encounter, won by Hagler on an 11th-round TKO, left both fighters needing stiches.

“Throughout Hagler’s nonstop, 11th-round barrage, Hamsho kept coming on. He didn’t win a round, but he did take the battle of the stitches, 55-5,” wrote Pat Putnam in Sports Illustrated. “I don’t know what his corner was waiting for…The meat from his eyes was hanging down. But I can’t let that bother me. I just have to think, better him than me,” said Hagler.

More from Putnam: “When Hagler had left the hospital, the doctors were still working over Hamsho, who, until his trainer, Al Braverman, jumped into the ring to stop the fight, looked as though he would run out of blood before he ran out of heart. He was badly cut under both brows: Each wound was at least two inches long and half an inch wide. There was another slice under his left eye. He didn’t win a round from any of the three officials.”

Al Braverman, who co-managed Hamsho with the aforementioned Flood, once described the Syrian’s style as follows: “….”He’s got no style. He just wades in, throwing punches from any angle.”  He also possessed great stamina, a granite chin and incredible courage, along with head and shoulder butts, elbows, low blows, shoves, holding, chops behind the head, and whatever he could get away with.

The Matinee Idol

Bobby Czyz was 20-0 when he met Hamsho at the Convention Center in Atlantic City on Nov. 20, 1982. The undefeated New Jersey lad with the somewhat strange moniker of “Matinee Idol” and the high IQ had solid wins over Danny Long, Teddy Mann, Oscar Albarado, Elisha Obed, and Robbie Sims. Against Hamsho he was stepping up in class but he was a solid opponent for the Syrian who was 34-2-2 coming in.

If Bobby won, he would position himself for a shot at Marvelous Marvin, but Hamsho mauled and mugged the future world light heavyweight champion over ten rounds and won a convincing UD. (The rest of the Bobby Czyz story is told in “The Boxer Who Became a Bagger,” a remarkable and poignant article by sports columnist Steve Politi that first appeared in the Newark Star-Ledger.)

Wilfred Benitez

HIs UD victory over Wilfred Benitez (45-2-1) in 1883 was pure Hamsho featuring elbows, butts, and low blows. The third round was difficult to watch as the compact Syrian rendered a brutal beating on “El Radar,” using accurate nonstop shots coming from all directions. Between slips and knockdowns, Wilfred hit the deck four times.

Clearly, Benitez had faded, but Hamsho hastened the process and helped point the legendary Puerto Rican in a downward direction. Wilfred looked sluggish and poorly conditioned; he was not the same Benitez who knocked out Maurice Hope in spectacular fashion or out-boxed Roberto Duran for 15 rounds. Something was wrong.

But even in top shape, Benitez would have struggled against Hamsho with his mauling, brawling, non-stop pressure. Hamsho could make anyone look bad.  (Wilfred Benitez would lose several more outings after the Hamsho beatdown. Matthew Hilton finished the job with a terrifying KO in 1986. Wilfred’s story is a terribly sad one as he now requires constant care.)

Hamsho would lose another fight with Hagler—this time quickly and badly– and then go 6-2 before retiring in 1989 with a record of 44-5-2.

Those who were fortunate enough to see him fight remember a fan-pleasing, all-action combination of Vito Antuofermo, Michael Katsidis, Antonio Margarito, and Gene Fullmer.

Amir Khan and Prince Naseem Hamed are two very high profile, proud Muslim fighters. Mustafa Hamsho’s name can be added.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

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Miguel Madueno Scores His 12th Straight Knockout at Ontario, Calif

David A. Avila

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Ontario, CA — A return of fans to the Inland Empire saw Mexico’s Miguel Madueno extend his consecutive knockout streak to a dozen at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California on Friday.

It was the first fan-filled event for a Thompson Boxing card in the “I.E.” in almost two years.

Lightweight contender Madueno (26-0, 24 KOs) of Culiacan powered his way to his 12th consecutive knockout and this came at the expense of fellow Mexican Jose Luis Rodriguez (25-15-1, 13 KOs) with a focused attack to the body.

Rodriguez was clever and tough and would not allow Madueno to overwhelm him during the first four rounds. But in the fifth he was not as lucky as a four-punch barrage to the body sent him to one knee. He beat the count but was overwhelmed by Madueno who forced referee Raul Caiz to end the fight at 2:46 of the fifth round.

“In reality I thought I would end it early,” said Madueno about seeking an early knockout. “But he could take it.”

In the co-main event Japan’s Katsuma Akitsugi (7-0) outhustled Northern California’s Eros Correa (10-1) after eight rounds in a bantamweight scrap to win by majority decision.

Akitsugi, a southpaw, and Correa both showed quick hands and good chins. But the Japanese fighter was always on attack and Correa resorted to holding from the second round on. He was never warned by the referee for excessive holding. It could have helped him get back in the fight.

Every time Akitsugi entered the danger zone Correa would grab ahold like an MMA fighter instead of fighting on the inside. While Correa held Akitsugi punched and that proved the difference as two judges scored it 78-74 for Akitsugi, while a third saw it 76-76.

“I could not box my style at all,” said Akitsugi, 23. “I’m glad I brought the win home.”

Other Bouts

San Bernardino’s Esteban Munoz (5-1, 3 KOs) knocked out Tijuana’s Manuel Martinez (6-5-4) with a body shot in the first round. He could not beat the count. Munoz had stunned Martinez earlier with a counter right. Then he found an opening to the body and delivered a right to the gut and down went Martinez. He was counted out at 1:50 of the first round.

Coachella’s Lazaro Vargas (4-0) out-worked Ulises Rosales (0-5) over four rounds of a super bantamweight match to win by unanimous decision 40-36 on all three cards.

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Oscar Rivas is Boxing’s First Bridgerweight Champ; Tops Spunky Ryan Rozicki

Arne K. Lang

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Oscar-Rivas-is-Boxing's-First-Bridgerweight-Champ-Tops-Spunky-Ryan-Rozicki

Back in January, the World Boxing Council announced that they were creating a new weight division. Tailored to boxers weighing between 200 and 224 pounds, they named it Bridgerweight. Tonight, at the Olympia Theatre in Montreal, the first WBC bridgerweight champion was crowned. Montreal-based Oscar Rivas, a 2008 Olympian representing his native Columbia, turned the trick with a unanimous 12-round decision over fellow Canadian Ryan Rozicki, advancing his record to 28-1 (19).

Rozicki, who is from Nova Scotia, out-performed expectations. Although he had knocked out all 13 of his opponents since turning pro in 2016, he hadn’t defeated anyone of note and hadn’t fought beyond six rounds. He drew the assignment when Rivas’s original opponent Bryant Jennings was scratched because of his refusal to accept Canada’s COVID protocols for unvaccinated foreigners. (A match between Rivas and Jennings would have been a rematch of their Jan. 18, 2019 contest in Verona, New York, a rather ho-hum match that had a dramatic ending when Rivas turned up the heat in the 12th round.)

Rivas, 34, was making his second start since suffering his lone defeat, a setback on points in a 12-round contest with Dillian Whyte in London. The heavier man by 19 pounds, he dominated the first two frames, rocking Rozicki in the opening stanza, but the Nova Scotian clawed his way back into the fight. Rivas had a strong penultimate round and although he had a point deducted for holding in the final stanza, it did not factor into the outcome. The judges had it 116-111 and 115-112.

What’s next for Oscar Rivas? Logically a bout with Evgeny Romanov. A 36-year-old Russian with a 16-0 (11-0 mark), Romanov was ranked #2 behind Rivas in the WBC’s latest set of bridgerweight rankings. Romanov’s claim to fame is that he TKOed Deontay Wilder is in amateur days, but that was way back in 2008.

Another possibility, and one likely to attract more buzz, would be a bout with Alen Babic. A 30-year-old Brit by way of Croatia, the colorful, free-swinging Babic (8-0, 8 KOs) has a date later this month in London with Texas trial horse Eric Molina.

The best guess, however, is that Rivas will discard the belt and go back to competing as a heavyweight. The bridgerweight title, we suspect, like many of the lesser titles, will be perpetually vacant, which likely wouldn’t trouble the WBC at all as they will gather up a sanctioning fee from a bridgerweight title fight whether there is an incumbent or not.

There were two 8-rounders offering chief support, but both were cancelled when the opponents failed to pass muster. Left in the lurch were “A side” Canadians Sebastien Bouchard, a welterweight, and Steve Rolls, a middleweight.

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