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Ryan Garcia Wins in a Flash and Puerto Rico’s Acosta Keeps WBO Title by KO

David A. Avila

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Ryan Garcia

INDIO, Calif.-Ryan “The Flash” Garcia may not have a world title but that didn’t stop rabid Southern California fans from making the long desert trek to watch Golden Boy’s brightest prospect win another fight by knockout on Saturday.

Despite the short fight, the fans got what they wanted.

A sold out crowd saw Garcia (18-0, 15 KOs) dismantle Puerto Rico’s Jose Lopez (20-4-1, 14 KOs) within three rounds at Fantasy Springs Casino in a lightweight fight. And if you listen to Garcia, a world title fight should be on this year’s agenda.

It didn’t take long for Garcia to find the openings against Lopez who was willing but a tad too slow. In the opening round with only 10 seconds remaining the lean sharpshooting Garcia unleashed a blistering six-punch volley that staggered Lopez at the end of the bell.

In the second round Lopez took the initiative and tried to pressure Garcia into the ropes but he slickly turned the tables and had the Puerto Rican fighter on the ropes instead.

“That’s the one thing I’ve been working on (defense). I’m just working with the best,” said Garcia.

Things just didn’t work out for Lopez, especially when Garcia rocketed a right off his head. It forced the Boricua to look for an escape route. There was none to be found and Garcia trailed him while firing about a dozen blows that saw Lopez collapse to his knees.

“He kept ducking so I just followed him wherever he went,” Garcia said,

Lopez got up before the count expired and the bell rang ending the round. No matter, Lopez’s corner decided their fighter was finished and referee Jack Reiss signaled a knockout win for Garcia at 3 minutes of the second round.

“I need stiffer competition. Do I think I’m ready for world title competition? I’m ready for it,” said Garcia while standing with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Oscar De La Hoya. “I train with my brother (Canelo) right here,” said Garcia. “I’m training with Eddy Reynoso one of the best trainers in the world. I’m getting better and better and I’m going to get ready for it.”

Alvarez said he was satisfied with Garcia’s performance

“He does what he does in the gym and a lot of people can’t do that,” said Canelo. “He knows what he has to do. He needs to focus on boxing. He already has a lot of fans.”

Is Garcia ready for a world title fight?

“He’s on his way. He’s going to prove it again,” said De La Hoya whose company promotes Garcia. “It’s going to happen sooner or later.”

Acosta Retains WBO Title

WBO light flyweight titlist Angel “Tito” Acosta was not about to let another Mexican fighter take a world title away from a Puerto Rican and guaranteed it with a knockout win on Saturday.

Acosta (20-1, 20 KOs) walked into the lion’s den against Mexican contender Ganigan Lopez (35-9, 19 KOs) at Fantasy Springs Casino, the same venue where his countryman and stablemate Alberto Machado lost his world title to another Mexican fighter two months ago.

Not this time.

Looking sharp and in command Acosta grabbed the first four rounds with steady pressure. Neither fighter was able to connect much and each displayed excellent defense.

Lopez picked up the tempo in the fifth and sixth round behind some blows to the body and was able to slip and counter effectively. But that was about all Acosta was going to allow.

“We worked on walking him down smartly,” said Acosta who trained in Los Angeles with Freddie Roach.

In the eighth round Acosta stepped up his tempo and both fighters exchanged crisp combinations. Acosta connected with a blistering left hook that wobbled Lopez and another two blows had the Mexican fighter trying to hang on but he fell to the ground. He was unable to beat referee Raul Caiz Jr.’s count at 1:55 of the round. Acosta retains the world title and is looking for more.

“I want to unify but I also want to get the big purses. There’s the WBC champion Ken Shiro and the WBA champion Hiroto Kyoguchi,” said Acosta. “I want 25 fights and 25 knockouts.”

Other Bouts

Puerto Rican welterweight Danielito Zorrilla (11-0, 9 KOs) faced veteran Mexican Gamaliel Diaz (40-20-3), a former world champion, and sent him home wondering what happened. A counter left hook by Zorrilla deposited Diaz to the floor and the old veteran could not get up at 2:59 of round two. Zorrilla grabbed his ninth knockout win.

A battle of super featherweights contenders saw Mexico’s Rocky Hernandez (28-0-3, 25 KOs) track down Tanzania’s Ibrahim Class (22-6, 10 KOs) and floor the taller fighter twice in the second round. A three-punch combination floored Class in the corner and after the fight resumed a right uppercut by Hernandez delivered the killing blow as the Tanzanian fighter was counted out by referee Tom Taylor at 1:58 of the second round for a knockout.

Fresh off a recent world title challenge, Antonio Orozco (28-1, 17 KOs) shook off the rust and disappointment of losing to world champion Jose Ramirez with a steady and disciplined effort against Mexico’s Juan Rodriguez (25-13-1, 13 KOs) in a 10-round super lightweight fight. Orozco looked relaxed and determined and turned up the juice midway through the fight.

Joet Gonzalez (22-0, 13 KOs) battered Rodrigo Guerrero (26-8-2, 16 KOs) and won by technical knockout in the fifth round of their featherweight match. Guerrero had never been knocked out before but Gonzalez was too sharp and skilled and was able to connect with sneaky right uppercuts and body shots that felled the Mexican fighter twice before referee Jerry Cantu stopped the fight at 2:57 of round five.

It was an impressive performance and showed the Southern California contender is ready for top competition in the featherweight division. He’s anxious for a world title fight and just might be a tick away from making it happen.

Ireland’s Aaron “The Silencer” McKenna (7-0, 4 KOs) used his length and steady jabs to deliver Loretto Olivas (3-1) his first loss as a professional. McKenna floored Olivas in the first round with a strong one-two and from there on was in complete control to win by unanimous decision after six rounds in a welterweight fight.

“I sparred over 180 rounds with some good fighters like Javier Molina, Sergey Lipinets and Amir Khan for this fight,” said McKenna, 19, who trains in Southern California but is a native of Monaghan, Ireland.

Olivas never quit trying but McKenna was too much of everything and showed the ability to fight at the proper distance and do it well. All three judges scored it 60-53 for McKenna.

“I got a good six rounds against a very tough fighter,” said McKenna. “I was able to work on the one-two that we worked on a lot for this fight.”

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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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.

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

David A. Avila

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Avila-Perspective-Chap-82-Jason-Quigley-Returns-to-SoCal-and-More

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).

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Recalling Three Big Fights in Miami, the Site of Super Bowl LIV

Arne K. Lang

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The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs collide on Feb. 2 in Miami in Super Bowl LIV (54) in what will assuredly be the biggest betting event to ever play out on American soil. It’s the 10th Super Bowl for the South Florida metropolis which ties it with New Orleans as the most frequent destination for football’s premier attraction.

With its heavily Latin population, Miami would seem to be natural for big fights. However, this hasn’t been the case. Several great champions fought here, including Roberto Duran who twice defended his world lightweight title in these parts, but these weren’t big fights. In the case of Duran, his opponents were lightly regarded and the Panamanian legend was still three years away from his first encounter with Sugar Ray Leonard, a match that increased his name recognition a hundred-fold.

There were, however, three fights in Miami that summoned the interest of virtually all of America’s A-list sportswriters. Here they are in reverse chronological order.

Aaron Pryor vs. Alexis Arguello (Nov. 12, 1982)

Alexis Arguello (72-5) was bidding to become boxing’s first four-division champion. In his way stood WBA junior welterweight title-holder Aaron Pryor (31-0, 29 KOs), a man now widely regarded as the best 140-pound boxer of all time.

Arguello, a Miami resident, having been exiled from his Nicaraguan homeland by the Sandanista rebel occupation, was a textbook boxer who defeated his opponents with surgical efficiency. Pryor was a typhoon. He mowed down his opponents with relentless pressure. It was a great style match-up and it didn’t disappoint. Contested before nearly 30,000 at Miami’s iconic Orange Bowl, Pryor vs. Arguello was a fight for the ages.

“There was power, finesse, poise, courage and a tremendous ebb and flow,” said Associated Press writer Ed Schuyler who dubbed it Manila in Miniature. In the ninth, 11th, and particularly the 13th rounds, Arguello hit Pryor with straight right hands that would have felled an ordinary fighter, but Pryor had an iron chin.

In the 14th, Pryor buckled Arguello’s knees with a straight right hand and then unloaded a furious combination as Arguello fell back against the ropes. He was out on feet when referee Stanley Cristodoulou intervened and he would lay prone on the canvas for several minutes before he could be removed to his dressing room.

Sonny Liston vs. Muhammad Ali (Feb. 25, 1964)

If you happen to find a poster for this fight with the name Muhammad Ali on it, don’t buy it. It’s bogus. Liston met up with Muhammad Ali in their second fight. In their first encounter, Liston opposed Cassius Clay.

Clay’s Louisville sponsors, after a brief flirtation with Archie Moore, settled on Angelo Dundee as his trainer. Angelo operated out of his brother Chris Dundee’s gym located at the corner of 5th Street and Washington Avenue in Miami Beach. The fighter who took the name Muhammad Ali trained here and kept a home in Miami for most of his first six years as a pro.

Clay/Ali was 22 years old and had only 19 fights under his belt when he was thrust against heavyweight champion Sonny Liston at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Liston was riding a 28-fight winning streak after back-to-back first-round blowouts of Floyd Patterson.

In a UPI survey, 43 of 46 boxing writers picked Liston. “Clay has no more chance of stopping Liston than the old red barn had of impeding a tornado,” wrote Nat Fleischer, the publisher of The Ring magazine.

This would be the first of many famous fights for Muhammad Ali who emerged victorious when Liston quit after the sixth frame citing an injured shoulder. What is not widely known, however, is that the fight, which was shown on closed-circuit in the U.S. and Canada, was a bust at the gate. The 16,448-seat Convention Center was only half full.

The expectation that Liston would take the lippy kid out in a hurry depressed sales, as did sky-high ticket prices ($250 tops when $100 was the norm). And there may have been more subtle factors. “This may not be the best place for a fight between two Negroes,” wrote Robert Lipsyte of the New York Times, cognizant that people of color were not welcome as guests at the ritzy beachfront hotels along Collins Avenue.

Jack Sharkey vs. W. L. (Young) Stribling (Feb. 27, 1929)

A big fight, as I define it, doesn’t have to be a blockbuster. An important fight that produces an upset automatically becomes a bigger fight in hindsight. The Sharkey-Stribling fight of 1929 didn’t draw an immense crowd by Jack Dempsey standards, but the turnout, reportedly 35,000, far exceeded expectations and the fight – which preceded Miami’s first Orange Bowl football game by six years — really established Miami as a potentially good place for a big sporting event.

Promoted by the Madison Square Garden Corporation, the bout was originally headed to a dog racing track but it quickly became obvious that a larger venue was needed. A stadium was erected on a Miami Beach polo field, taking the name Flamingo Park (not to be confused with the thoroughbred track of the same name).

Slated for 10 rounds, the bout was conceived as one of two “eliminators” to find a successor to Gene Tunney who had retired. What gave the fight it’s primary allure, however, was the North-South angle. Sharkey, born Joseph Zukauskas, hailed from Boston. Stribling, born into a family that traveled the fair circuit with a variety act, was from Macon, Georgia.

The fight, which aired on the NBC radio network, was a dud, a drab affair won by Sharkey who had the best of it in virtually every round. Both went on to fight Max Schmeling for the world heavyweight title. Stribling, dubbed the “King of the Canebrakes” by Damon Runyon, lost by TKO in fight that was stopped late in the 15th round. Sharkey took the title from Schmeling on a split decision after losing their first meeting on a foul.

Young Stribling died in a motorcycle crash at age 28, by which time he had engaged in 251 documented bouts, the great majority of which were set-ups. Jack Sharkey lived to be 91.

—-

The strong earnings of the Sharkey-Stribling bout inevitably drew the Madison Square Garden Corporation back to Miami for an encore. On Feb. 27, 1930, Jack Sharkey opposed England’s “Fainting” Phil Scott. Four years later, on March 1, 1834, Primo Carnera defended his world heavyweight title here against former light heavyweight champion Tommy Loughran, the Philadelphia Phantom.

Both bouts were big money losers, as were the great majority of major fights during this period. Eight months after the Sharkey-Stribling cash cow, the stock market crashed, plunging the United States into the Great Depression. Few Americans could afford to vacation in Florida, let alone travel anywhere for a big fight.

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