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Oleksandr Gvozdyk’s Opponent Didn’t Have a Leg to Stand On

Bernard Fernandez

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PHILADELPHIA – It is a fairly common practice in boxing for a newly minted world champion to make his first title defense against an opponent who might be considered a bit of a soft touch, particularly if he rose to the top of his alphabet fiefdom by dethroning an especially dangerous predecessor.

If one oddsmaker is to be believed, WBC light heavyweight champ Oleksandr Gvozdyk’s first defense of the belt he lifted last Dec. 1, on an 11th-round knockout of the long-reigning and favored Adonis Stevenson  – arguably the hardest-hitting 175-pound ruler since Michael Moorer, or maybe even all the way back to Bob Foster – was easier than most such ritualistic demonstrations of superiority. So dismissive was one sports book linemaker of Doudou Ngumbu’s chances against Gvozdyk that the champion opened as an -8000 wagering choice, meaning a bettor would have to put up $8,000 on the 31-year-old Ukrainian in order to win $100. The message sent by such an absurdly wide line was clear: as an aspirant to displace Gvozdyk, Doudou, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo now living in France, was, well, more like doo-doo.

It would be unfair to Ngumbu (38-9, 14 KOs), who at 37 was getting his first, and undoubtedly last, shot at a bejeweled belt, to point out that his official fifth-round technical-knockout loss, at the sold-out 2300 Arena here, came about without a punch being landed by Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs), whose victory was all but assured from the moment contracts were signed. To his credit, Ngumbu was trying his darndest to cash that lottery ticket, although his darndest  never was going to be good enough to pull off an upset twice as unlikely as Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson. But when Ngumbu, his face contorted in pain, began hopping around on his left (good) leg, what was already a long and weird night became stranger still.

Referee Eric Dali appeared to be momentarily flummoxed by Ngumbu’s impersonation of a one-legged Easter bunny. Dali first called time to allow the challenger time to recover, ruling an accidental foul had occurred, even though Ngumbu’s distress had not been caused by a punch from Gvozdyk, legal or otherwise. What followed was a scene straight out of the fight game’s theater of the absurd, with Dali, Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission executive director Greg Sirb, the ring physician and members of Ngumbu’s corner team, none of whom apparently spoke English, bunching up on the ring apron to decide what determination needed to be made.

It finally was decided that Ngumbu had suffered a torn Achilles tendon, an injury more serious than a cramp or pulled calf muscle, which would have been bad enough. Gvozdyk, a bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympics, was awarded a less-than-satisfying win by stoppage, after an elapsed time of 58 seconds.

“(Gvozdyk) didn’t even hit him,” Sirb noted. “That’s a cheap KO. There was no foul. (Ngumbu) was trying to avoid a punch, and he obviously hurt himself trying to twist away. He wound up tearing his Achilles tendon. That’s nasty. You could see it. He couldn’t put any pressure on his right leg.”

For Gvozdyk, whose celebration of the take-down of Stevenson was muted when the stricken champion had to be rushed to a nearby hospital where he underwent surgery for two brain bleeds and was placed in an induced coma (Stevenson is, thankfully, recovering, but his boxing career is over), another ending to a winning fight ended in an unexpected manner.

“I’m satisfied I won. I keep my title,” he said in his dressing room, apparently unaware of the extent or legitimacy of Ngumbu’s injury. “How it happened, I’m definitely not satisfied with. Probably the people who came are not happy. It’s important to make your fans happy. I tried to do my best in this fight. What happened was not my fault. I guess the guy just came to get a paycheck. I don’t know. I don’t want to insult him.

“Maybe something happened. I don’t know. I don’t feel I hurt him. For a second time something screwed up my celebration. I really thought the fight would go longer and be more exciting. I was just starting to accelerate.”

For numbers-crunchers interested in such things, Gvozdyk landed 47 of 204 punches (23 percent) to just 18 of 108 (17 percent) for Ngumbu, who went in as the WBC’s eighth-rated light heavyweight contender. But while winning and losing is always of paramount consideration, how either outcome is achieved also matters, and Gvozdyk did not win with the flourish he and his many supporters in the standing-room-only crowd of 1,350 or so had anticipated. That opened the door for a couple of snide remarks from at least one interested onlooker.

Philadelphia’s Jesse Hart, a two-time world title challenger as a super middleweight who is planning to move up to light heavyweight, is a member of the Top Rank promotional stable, as is Gvozdyk, and he said he could and would eventually capitalize on the openings he saw against the champion that the limited Ngumbu was unable to.

“(Gvozdyk) fought down to the kid’s level,” Hart said, although, at 37, few would characterize Ngumbu as a kid at this late stage of his career. “He should have gotten him out of there within the first four rounds.”

Nor was the ESPN-televised lead-in to the main event — Philly welterweight “The New” Ray Robinson (24-3-1, 12 KOs) vs. Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs), a Ukrainian now fighting out of Oxnard, Calif. — particularly compelling, although it did provide a symposium for debate on the vicissitudes of how to score a boxing match. One judge’s scorecard had Robinson winning by 97-93, while the other two saw the fight as a 95-95 standoff – a majority draw.

For those who place a high value on slick boxing technique, the mobile, jab-flicking Robinson deserved a clear-cut victory. One ringside writer had him winning nine of the 10 rounds. ESPN boxing writer Dan Rafael went way over to the other side, giving nine rounds to the continually stalking Kavaliauskas, a -1800 favorite.

Despite the fact that seven of the 11 bouts on the card ended inside the distance, three of which were one-round quickies, fans who came early and stayed late must have felt like they had attended a double-feature at their local movie theater, with Dr. Zhivago followed by Lawrence of Arabia, with a half-hour intermission in between. With the first bout getting underway at 5:30 p.m. EDT, and Gvozdyk-Ngumbu wrapping up near midnight, the 6½-hour  marathon tested the endurance, and possibly the bladder capacities of fans who helped pass the time with multiple trips to the beer concession stand.

The audience, reflecting the global lineup of fighters, was a blend of many nationalities and cultures. Including those representatives who pledged allegiance to two flags – like Ngumbu, who was born in the Congo and became a naturalized French citizen – countries represented were Ukraine, Mexico, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, Japan, Canada, Cameroon, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, France, Congo, Guatemala and Puerto Rico, although the last is technically an unincorporated territory of the United States. The loudest contingent appeared to be Ukrainians and Ukrainian-Americans, not surprising in that 20,000 or so such residents of the U.S. can be found in the Eastern seaboard corridor from metropolitan New York to Philadelphia and many are rabid boxing buffs. From the first round on, Gvozdyk backers shouted “Gvozdyk! Gvozdyk!,” which for the phonetically challenged sounds very much like Vod-zik. By decibel level, the Ukrainians seemed more plentiful and louder than Philly patrons, who made themselves known with their off-key renditions of “Fly, Eagles, Fly,” the local NFL team’s fight song.

In other action:

*Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0, 9 KOs) of Malaysia by way of his native Uzbekistan scored a unanimous, 12-round decision over Japan’s Keita Obara (20-4-1, 18 KOs) in an IBF welterweight elimination bout.

*Super middleweight Christian Mbilli (14-0, 13 KOs), from Montreal by way of his native Cameroon, saw his knockout streak ended as he settled for an eight-round, unanimous decision over Mexico’s Humberto Gutierrez (33-8-2, 18 KOs).

*Juan Ruiz (22-4, 14 KOs) of Mexico came away with a fourth-round TKO victory over Ghana’s Fredrick Lawson (27-2, 21 KOs) in their scheduled eight-round super welterweight bout.

*Super featherweight Joshafat Ortiz (6-0, 4 KOs), a Puerto Rican based in Reading, Pa., needed just one of the six scheduled rounds to put away James Thomas (6-5, 6 KOs), of Grand Rapids, Mich.

*Popular Philadelphia heavyweight Sonny Conto (2-0, 2 KOs), a recent addition to the Top Rank lineup, bombed out Omar Acosta (1-6, 1 KO) of Hereford, Texas, in one round and will next be seen on June 15 in Las Vegas on the  undercard of a show headlined by Tyson Fury against Tom Schwarz.

*Jeremy Adorno, a lanky super bantamweight from Allentown, Pa., by way of Puerto Rico, made his pro debut by pitching a four-round shutout at Sebastian Baltazar (1-4), from Tacoma, Wash., by way of his native Guatemala.

*Super featherweight Donald Smith (9-0, 6 KO), a southpaw from Philly, seemed headed to a four-round unanimous decision over Jose Antonio Martinez (11-18, 6 KOs) when he turned out the lights on the Mexican, now residing in Albequerque, N.M., with an overhand left late in the final round.

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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The First Coming of George Foreman: A Retrospective

Rick Assad

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This coming Oct. 30 is the 45th anniversary of the Ali-Foreman fight. Boxing has had its fair share of memorable fights across the decades, but few have been more talked about than “The Rumble in the Jungle.”

The 60,000 fans in attendance watching at the 20th of May Stadium in Kinshasa, Zaire and the record—-setting one billion viewers taking it in around the globe, including 50 million who watched via pay-per-view on closed circuit television, will never forget what happened inside the ring.

Foreman, who was recognized as the world heavyweight champion by the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council, the only sanctioning bodies that mattered, entered with a 40-0 record and 37 knockouts. Ali owned a 44-2 mark with 31 knockouts, but wasn’t the same fighter after being stripped of his titles and missing three-and-a-half years between 1967 and 1970 after refusing induction into the military based on his religious convictions.

Both stood 6-feet-3. Foreman weighed 220 pounds and Ali 216, but the latter was giving away seven years in age, 32 to 25.

The fight commenced with Ali on the offensive, but Foreman, a 4-to-1 betting favorite, rallied to close the gap by the end of the opening frame.

In the second round, Ali allowed “Big George” to bang away at his arms and body, using what he later described as the “rope-a-dope,” which helped tire Foreman out.

As the fight continued, Foreman’s once fierce arsenal was reduced to half its potency and in the eighth round Ali eventually found his range.

Ali now threw punches at will, and when Ali buzzed Foreman with a quick right and knocked him to the canvas, Zack Clayton, the referee, had seen enough.

Having lost for the first time as a professional, Foreman was bitter and even claimed that his trainer and manager, Dick Sadler, put something in his water just minutes before the opening bell.

“It’s not like the water beat me,” Foreman said in writer Jonathan Eig’s biography, “Ali.” “Muhammad beat me. With a straight right hand. Fastest right hand I’d ever been hit with in my life. That’s what beat me. But they put drugs in my water.”

In time, though, Foreman would mellow, saying, “Before that, I had nothing but revenge and hate on my mind, but from then on, it was clear. I’ll never be able to win that match, so I had to let it go. It just wasn’t my night.”

The Road to Zaire

Foreman’s sweet and outgoing personality wasn’t on display when he began his pro career shortly after winning a gold medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

To the contrary, Foreman was a mean and angry young man after spending his childhood in Houston’s tough Fifth Ward.

Growing up with six siblings and without much on the table to eat will create a crusty exterior.

Everyone needs an escape. Football was that for Foreman, who idolized Jim Brown, arguably the NFL’s greatest running back.

But it was boxing that saved him and helped turn his hardscrabble life around.

At 15, Foreman grew tired of high school and dropped out, joining the Job Corps.

This is where he was introduced to boxing and through hard work and dedication went on to earn a berth on the U.S. Olympic boxing team, going on to win a gold medal at the 1968 Summer Games.

This was a turbulent year. It was the year in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy, a Presidential hopeful, were assassinated. Blacks were rioting in many American cities over grievances including police harassment, the Viet Nam War was raging half a world away and college students were protesting our involvement in that very unpopular war.

This was the ugly backdrop against which the 1968 Olympic Games were being contested.

Two black American track stars, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, were front and center in Mexico City after placing first and third respectively in the 200-meter dash. At the medal stand, Smith and Carlos raised their clenched fists wrapped in black gloves skyward while the National Anthem played, which triggered a chorus of boos from those inside the stadium.

Foreman waltzed through each round of the heavyweight tournament and took the gold medal by stopping Lithuania’s Jonas Cepulis, representing the Soviet Union, in the second round.

Foreman then pulled out a small American flag and walked around the ring, bowing to the crowd.

Many Americans fell in love with Foreman because of that simple gesture of waving the flag.

“I had a lot of flak,” said Foreman years later of the flag-waving incident. “In those days, nobody was applauded for being patriotic. The whole world was protesting something. But if I had to do it all again, I’d have waved two flags.”

Foreman’s professional career began in grand fashion in June 1969 at New York’s Madison Square Garden when he scored a third-round TKO over Don Waldhelm.

The next six fights concluded by knockout or TKO before Foreman triumphed over Peruvian trial horse Roberto Davila by unanimous decision at the Garden in October 1969.

Three more victories followed by knockout or TKO before Foreman registered a unanimous decision over journeyman Levi Forte in Miami Beach in December 1969.

With three more wins coming by knockout or TKO, Foreman was now 15-0.

In his next fight, Argentine veteran Gregorio Peralta extended him the 10-round distance, after which Foreman won 24 in a row inside the distance, including a 10th round TKO of Peralta in a rematch in May 1971 at the Oakland County Coliseum Arena where he grabbed his first championship belt, the North American Boxing Federation strap.

Ten victories followed including a second round TKO over undefeated Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica, in January 1973, where he took away Frazier’s WBA and WBC world title belts.

Foreman then knocked out Jose Roman in the first round in Tokyo, Japan in September 1973 and followed that up with a second round TKO of Ken Norton in Caracas, Venezuela in March 1974. Then it was off to Zaire to meet Ali with the unified title at stake.

Post-Ali

In January 1976 Foreman returned to the ring after a 16-month absence and knocked out Ron Lyle in the fifth round at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in The Ring magazine Fight of the Year. Four more wins by TKO would follow before losing a 12-round unanimous decision to Jimmy Young in March 1977 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

In the dressing room after the fight, Foreman, suffering from heatstroke and exhaustion, said he had a near-death experience in which he claimed to have been in a hellish place of nothingness and despair. Foreman pleaded with God to save him.

Foreman said God told him to change his ways and at that moment he became a born-again Christian, dedicating his life to his Lord.

Foreman stopped fighting and became a streetcorner evangelist before opening his own church, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Houston.

Foreman focused his attention on his family and congregation and opened a youth center in his name

He was only 28 years old when he turned his back on boxing and a decade would pass before he would re-enter the sport.

Second Coming

In November of 1994, twenty years after he lost to Ali, Foreman, now 45 years old, upset Michael Moorer with a 10th round knockout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and became the oldest fighter ever to win a championship.

Regaining the title was a byproduct of Foreman’s desire to raise money for his congregation.

Today, Foreman is a bigger-than-life personality who draws people to him.

Young and old, black and white and everything in-between gravitate to the 70-year-old, two-time heavyweight champion like a magnet.

Boxing did indeed rescue George Foreman who concluded his Hall of Fame career with 76 wins, five losses and 68 knockouts.

old george

“If I hadn’t found boxing, I wouldn’t have been able to fulfill half of my dreams,” he said. “In fact, I didn’t know how to dream until I found boxing.”

Very few fighters rise through the ranks and claim a world championship title. To replicate this achievement after being off for a decade is truly incredible.

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Life After DOOMSDAY: Assessing the Career of “Superman” Stevenson

Jeffrey Freeman

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On December 1, 2018, the five-year reign of Adonis “Superman” Stevenson came to a violent end in the eleventh round of a WBC light heavyweight title fight in Quebec City, Canada. The 41-year-old defending champion was battling to make the tenth defense of the world championship he’d won in 2013 with a shocking first round knockout of “Bad” Chad Dawson in Montreal.

Hammered into defeat so severely by new champion Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk, Stevenson was hospitalized where he spent six weeks in an induced coma to save his life.

To his haters on Twitter and beyond, this was welcomed as overdue karma—poetic justice. To everyone else, it was seen as a great fight up for grabs before Gvozdyk grabbed the victory.

Support from within the global boxing community for the wounded pugilist has been positive and encouraging. That same dynamic is happening again on social media for Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr., the welterweight champion injured in a car wreck last Thursday in Dallas, Texas.

Now in long-term recovery while healing from a boxing-related brain injury, the boxing life of Adonis “Superman” Stevenson is officially over. His career is a closed book. Let’s review it.

TRUTH AND JUSTICE

Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1977, Stevenson immigrated to Canada with his family in 1984. Writing last year for The Fight City online, author Ralph M. Semien illustrates what followed:

“By 14 he was out of control, spending time on the streets, and soon enough he was part of a violent gang and headed for disaster. Eventually he became involved in an organized sex-for-hire service in Montreal. Stevenson was arrested, tried, convicted and he served his jail time. When released from prison in 2001, he made a pact with himself to turn his back on the street gang lifestyle and everyone associated with it, that he would never again break the law.”

GRAPHIC NOVEL

Five years later in 2006 after a successful campaign in the amateurs where he boxed at middleweight for Canada and won a pair of national titles for his new country, Stevenson turned professional at super middleweight under the promotional guidance of Yvon Michel. His was your typical boxing story of overcoming a troubled past to carve out a brighter, better future.

He ran his record to 13-0 against gradually increasing competition before a 2010 setback TKO against so-called journeyman Darnell Boone. Buzzed late in the opening frame by a sneaky right uppercut and a hard left hook, Stevenson was easy pickins for Boone early in the second round.

A year later, Stevenson returned to the ring; winning six fights and a few minor super middleweight title belts. Most importantly during this transitional period in his career, Stevenson avenged his upset loss to Boone, punishing “Deezol” before knocking him out cold in the sixth.

“He definitely got better and earned his spot,” concedes Boone.

When an opportunity came to fight for the WBC light heavyweight title in 2013, Stevenson took full advantage, putting Chad Dawson down and out with a single, lethal left hook to the chin. The reign of Superman was up, up and away and boxing seemed to welcome its new action hero.

But not so fast, speeding bullet.

American fans and media never let Stevenson forget about his checkered past as a convicted street hustler. And if all that wasn’t enough, soon they were labeling him a “ducker” and a “cherry picker” for his apparent refusal to fight Sergey Kovalev and/or Eleider Alvarez.

Despite the constant negative press painting him as the bad guy, he was actually a very likeable man with a huge smile. Stevenson was also wildly popular in Canada and his title fights were entertaining events where more often than not, he left opponents twitching in a mangled heap.

Unsatisfied with Stevenson’s choice of title challengers, Oscar De La Hoya’s The Ring magazine in 2015 officially withdrew (stripped) its recognition of Stevenson as the “real” World Light Heavyweight Champion. To the Bible of Boxing, Stevenson was an unrepentant sinner.

By that point, Stevenson had made six defenses of his WBC light heavyweight title with wins against Tavoris Cloud, Tony Bellew, Andrzej Fonfara, Dmitry Sukhotskiy, Sakio Bika and Tommy Karpency. That super-fight with “Krusher” Kovalev never happened and it never will.

Who’d have won?

Does it even matter anymore?

I’ll give common opponent Darnell Boone the last word on it. “Kovalev. Because he’s the more sound boxer. Adonis did the same thing in every fight. Paw with the jab, paw with the jab, left.”

“He never really mixed it up,” insists Boone. “Kovalev is throwing combinations. He’s moving, punching off the angles. He knows exactly how to use his height and leverage with his punches. Kovalev keeps you on the outside, away from getting on the inside on him. He fights tall.”

That’s all true but was there more to Stevenson’s game than just predictable one-punch power with the left hand? Trained by Javon “Sugar” Hill, Stevenson was a KRONK fighter. He improved as he got older and deeper into his profession. His southpaw offense was almost always good enough to be his defense. Trading with him was suicidal. And as a body puncher, he was underrated.

In 2016, he knocked out Thomas Williams Jr. with a viciously quick left hook. In 2017, he rematched Fonfara and blew him away in two rounds. In 2018, before the Doomsday loss to Gvozdyk, there was a grueling, disputed draw with super middleweight Badou Jack.

I had Stevenson up by a point in a war that should’ve garnered more consideration for Fight of the Year honors. Unfortunately, the anti-climactic draw took some of the shine off a classic.

If only the Al Haymon-handled fighter had been more willing to mix it up with the big names, critics would probably be more kind to him today, especially if he’d beaten Kovalev, something that doesn’t exactly look like an impossibility when looking back at the proposed match-up.

Against Ward and Alvarez, Kovalev showed susceptibility to a determined attack, particularly to the body. In his penultimate fight against “The Ripper” Jack, Stevenson put the kind of hurt on Badou’s body late in the fight that may have been very difficult for Kovalev to overcome.

THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN

How should Stevenson be viewed in the light of light heavyweight history? Keep in mind that not everybody was so thrilled to get in the ring with him. Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez spoke for years of facing him “in the future” but in the end it was all just talk. After Rodriquez was knocked out by Williams Jr. in 2016, Williams Jr. was knocked out by Stevenson three months later.

Though he’ll never be rated as one of the all-time greats in the weight class, Stevenson should be recognized for what he actually was. Not just a champion, Stevenson was THE champion.

He beat the man who beat Bernard Hopkins. He was a one-punch power puncher, an action fighter, a defending world champion until he could defend that world championship no more.

Along the way, Stevenson picked up a Fighter of the Year award in 2013 while many of his knockouts were considered Knockout of the Year candidates. He was the WBC light heavyweight champion for sixty-six months, an unusually long time in today’s watered-down era of weight jumping and belt dumping. He retained his world title nine times, with only Bika, Fonfara, and Jack going the distance. Stevenson’s final record is 29-2-1 with 24 KO’s.

DOOMSDAY CLOCKED

And so with the Teddy Atlas trained Gvozdyk beating him senseless in the corner last December, boxing’s ultimate kryptonite (time) finally caught up to Superman Stevenson but not before the Haitian sensation made his improbable impact on the modern boxing landscape.

Stevenson Gvozdyk Wescott 770x513

Stevenson’s desire to become a boxing champion probably saved his life while his desire to remain a boxing champion nearly cost him his life. We don’t yet know the final butcher’s bill.

What we do know is that Stevenson has had to relearn how to walk and talk. That’s how unpredictable and ironic this sport is: a PBC fighter supposedly protected by Al Haymon was nearly killed by an undefeated Ukrainian clearly up to the challenge of fighting (and beating) him.

Last week Stevenson uploaded a video on Instagram. He’s seen in the gym, moving on his feet, wearing a pair of pink boxing gloves while lightly working over a heavy bag as fiance Simone God and their new daughter Adonia look on. “I love you,” posted God to her miraculous man.

To review: Stevenson Adonis escaped his dying homeland before it imploded. He then crash-landed in Canada where he was adopted by the Canadian people. He did the crime(s) then he did the time; paying whatever debt he owed to society for his transgressions. He won and lost his battles by the power of his own fists. As a human being, he is truly changed.

“Superman” Stevenson is dead.

Long live Adonis Stevenson…

EDITOR’S NOTE: After receiving this story, yet another boxer suffered a serious head injury. Patrick Day, a 27-year-old junior middleweight from Freeport, New York, was knocked out by Charles Conwell in the tenth-round last night on the Usyk-Witherspoon undercard and is now fighting for his life in a Chicago area hospital where he has been placed in a medically induced coma. On behalf of the entire editorial staff at The Sweet Science, I’d like to offer our thoughts and prayers for Day’s full recovery.

Boxing Writer Jeffrey Freeman grew up in the City of Champions, Brockton, Massachusetts from 1973 to 1987, during the Marvelous career of Marvin Hagler. JFree then lived in Lowell, Mass during the best years of Irish Micky Ward’s illustrious career. A new member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a Bernie Award Winner in the Category of Feature Under 1500 Words, Freeman covers boxing for The Sweet Science in New England.

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Johnson Nips Ramirez By Split Decision, Sparking a Melee in Pico Rivera

David A. Avila

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Johnson Nips Ramirez By Split Decision, Sparking a Melee in Pico Rivera

PICO RIVERA, Calif.-A heavyweight title rumble ended with public discord and local fighters fared well on Saturday night.

Ron Johnson (17-1) won another close decision against Sergio Ramirez (18-7) by split decision at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena, and some of the more than 1,000 fans did not like the decision. They showed their displeasure by tossing debris.

It was the second time in two years that Johnson beat Ramirez and like before, more than a few fans felt it was an unjust decision after 10 rounds.

A female super flyweight bout saw Adelaida Ruiz out-swing Las Vegas fighter Mikayla Nebel (2-8) in every round, but despite some big punches she was unable to discourage the taller fighter.

Ruiz was winging combinations from the beginning of the fight and landed heavy left hooks to the head. But Nebel never quit though hit with some thundering combinations throughout their six round fight. All three judges scored it in favor of L.A.’s Ruiz 60-54. More than 130 fans were there to support Ruiz.

Middleweight Brandon Lynch (10-1) defeated Bernard Thomas (5-7) by fourth round knockout. Lynch is the nephew of actor Eddie Murphy who was not present at the boxing card.

Among those present were Sugar Ray Leonard and Floyd Mayweather Sr. who trains Ron Johnson.

Other Bouts

Backed by more than 100 fans, East L.A.’s Alejandro Martinez (1-1-1) pummeled Alvin Brown for two rounds to win by knockout in a super lightweight contest. Surprisingly, it was Martinez’s first win and he did it in emphatic fashion.

Martinez didn’t waste time testing the waters he simply bored into the much taller Brown who tried keeping the fight at a distance. It didn’t work as Martinez was too busy and too accurate for Brown. In the second round, Martinez made Brown sink low with shots to the body and head and that signaled referee Danny Sandoval to stop the fight. The time was at 1:16 of the second round.

Eduardo Diaz (3-0) won by unanimous decision after four rounds versus Vicente Morales (3-4-2) in a four round welterweight fight. Every round was competitive and Diaz seemed to land the better punches. Morales was deducted a point for hitting at the break.

Chelsey Anderson bludgeoned her way to victory by knockout over Tess Kielhamer (0-1) with hammer-like rights in the first round of their lightweight fight. Kielhamer never went down but was unable to find the solution to Anderson who simply overwhelmed her with right after right cross forcing referee Zachary Young to halt the action at 1:10 of round one.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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