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The Avila Perspective Chap. 44: GGG, Danny Roman and much, much more

David A. Avila

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GGG & Abel Sanchez

Traveling to downtown Los Angeles can be a perilous journey. When you have 2 million cars battling to go from one direction to another something has got to give. That’s where I come in.

My name is David Avila. I don’t carry a badge but maybe I need one.

With photographer Alonzo Coston riding shotgun we took off for the heart of the beast LA Live which is located on Figueroa and Olympic Blvd. The Los Angeles Lakers play next door at the Staples Center as do the L.A. Clippers. I don’t follow hockey.

One of the most powerful prizefighters of this generation was scheduled to meet with a select few members of the not so secret society known as the boxing journalists at the Conga Room. It’s a quasi-nightclub that was originally started by a few Latin celebrities including Jennifer Lopez. That’s when the Conga Room was on Wilshire Blvd in the 1990s.

Two days prior was Easter Sunday also known as Resurrection Day. On Tuesday, former middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin met with about a dozen reporters at the Conga Room to resurrect his path to the top of the heap once again.

It all will begin with a confrontation against Canadian super middleweight Steve Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs), an undefeated fighter from Toronto, Canada. He once had ties to the late great Emanuel Steward of Kronk Gym in Michigan.

Like most Canadians, he’s a nice guy.

Golovkin can be a nice guy too especially outside of the ring. But when they meet on June 8 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, don’t count on it. The killer comes out when he steps through the ropes. DAZN will stream.

Did I say Rolls is a nice guy?

On a side note, it was interesting that Golovkin did not respond quickly at a press conference on Tuesday when asked if he would be preparing in Big Bear.

Little did anyone know that Golovkin will no longer be training with Abel Sanchez.  A press release earlier today announced the two had parted ways. It also makes sense why the Kazakh fighter opted to fight Rolls. He will need a little time to adjust to whoever will be picked as his new trainer.

After both fighters talked about their looming encounter in Manhattan I gathered my partner Coston, who was perched in a strategic position holding a zoom lens ready for action. It wasn’t to be. We’re called into another location near the beaches. We walked back to our car and drove 16 miles through snarling L.A. traffic to Venice Beach.

Forum Fights

The biggest problem any time you travel west of downtown L.A. is finding parking. It gets even worse when you look for parking at the beach. We located some open spaces about 2.5 miles away from our destination. It was a perfect day, not too hot, not too cold. It took us 30 minutes to reach the area known as “Muscle Beach” where a slew of prizefighters were taking turns shadow boxing on the boxing ring set up near the walkway for the public to see.

Danny Roman, the WBA super bantamweight world titlist from Los Angeles was dressed in a bright red workout suit and ready for his turn in the boxing ring. Also nearby was TJ Doheny the IBF super bantamweight world titlist from Ireland.

Both were very courteous and respectful toward each other. I’ve been around boxing for decades and when fighters are ultra-respectful like these two that can only mean trouble. I know the signs, I’m a boxing writer. Nobody ever accused me of being a cook.

Roman, 28, has the demeanor of a monk going through the ritual of non-communication. His eyes are always looking down as if not trying to show disrespect. He defeated the former WBA titleholder Shun Kubo by knockout nearly two years ago. Then he returned to Japan and beat down Ryo Matsumoto to keep the precious belt. He then beat up a Mexican fighter and a British fighter. I’m not exaggerating when I say beat up. It was virtually assault with a deadly weapon.

In spite of his quiet demeanor he’s one of the best fighters to come out of Los Angeles in a long time. He should be put on wanted posters throughout Southern California. He’s that dangerous.

“I’ve always said I want all the world titles,” said Roman in almost a whisper.

Doheny, 32, looks like a guy whose idea of a good time is traveling to gritty pubs in the most dangerous parts of Ireland in search of somebody to punch. He’s at home wherever he’s at, whether in some part of Australia or on the beaches of California. He pummeled Ryosuke Iwasa to rip the title away last summer. Then he knocked out Ryohei Takahashi who tried to take it away. Bad idea.

Though he looks antsy to fight at the drop of a hat, he’s almost hush-like when he speaks about fighting Roman on Friday at the Inglewood Forum on the Matchroom Boxing and Thompson Boxing Promotions card.

“It’s a dream pursuit to be fighting for another title,” said Doheny under the beach skies on Tuesday. “No need to be disrespectful. I let my hands do the talking.”

Other fighters were gathered at the boxing ring set up near the beach walkway in Venice Beach.

Looking like a male model was former welterweight champion Jessie Vargas a former two-division world champion from Las Vegas. I’ve known Vargas since he was an amateur. Behind that tight guard and interior toughness one could easily determine he would go on to a successful career in acting. What I most remember is his second pro fight in 2008 at Pechanga Casino in Temecula, Calif. He fought a guy named Trenton Titsworth, no joke, that was his name. The guy fought out of Nebraska and was determined to intimidate Vargas. It didn’t happen. So when intimidation failed he resorted to kissing Vargas whenever they got in close. Vargas was shocked as were the several hundred people in attendance. Even the referee David Denkin was abashed. Warnings were given and the fight resumed and then Titsworth did it again and gave Vargas another smooch. What could he do?

Well, the referee decided to end the fight and declare Vargas the winner by smoochification.

Since that October night I’ve never seen another fight end because of kissing. Biting yes, but not kissing.

Of course Vargas proceeded to have a successful career and has won the super lightweight and welterweight world titles. That’s pretty good for a Las Vegas fighter not named Floyd Mayweather.

Facing Vargas on Friday will be another former world champion Humberto Soto of Tijuana, Mexico.

Soto, 38, has a total of 81 pro fights in his career. Just this past February he took on Brandon “Bam, Bam” Rios and used his boxing wizardry to defeat the rugged welterweight from Oxnard. He’s like the safecracker from the movie “Asphalt Jungle” or better yet, the guy known as “the thinker” who designs the failsafe plans to crack the safe.

The Tijuana prizefighter will steal your “chones” if you let him. He once hoodwinked a Las Vegas referee into thinking that he was getting hit with low blows and survived a knockout to the belly by feigning a low blow. In his very next fight he tried the same tactic in California but the referee there didn’t go overboard. He only deducted one point. Though Soto is weak to the body he knows how to fake a low blow with the best of them. He could teach Stanislavski a thing or two about acting.

Vargas, who looks like someone who has learned method acting, just might not be prepared for Soto and his Oscar Award ways that allowed him to steal a win from Rios.

“I’m very intelligent in the ring and very versatile, it’s about me making sure I follow and execute the game plan and stay on my toes, as you cannot give Humberto any chances as he will take advantage,” said Vargas.

Another world title fight pits Thailand’s superman Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41 KOs) in a rematch with Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada (38-3, 26 KOs) in a battle for the WBC super flyweight world title. The last time these two warriors collided it ended in a majority decision win for Sor Rungvisai otherwise known as Wisaksil Wangek. The Thais like to change their name a lot.

Changing names won’t distract Estrada who felt he was badly disrespected by the judges a year ago at the same venue the Forum. He’s made adjustments.

Many consider Sor Rungvisai one of the best fighters on the planet pound for pound. After he destroyed former top kingpin Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez by knockout he then took his place among the elite.

The entire boxing card ranks among the most powerful ever assembled this year. This is like adding nitro to a stick of dynamite. It might be felonious.

Doors open at 3 p.m. For tickets or information call (800) 745-3000. You can also stream the fight card on DAZN.com

Thursday Fights

Golden Boy Promotions has their monthly DAZN fight card on Thursday April 25, at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio.

Special guest James “Lights Out” Toney will be in attendance. If you don’t know who he is then you are probably a casual boxing fan. He’s one of the best ever to lace up.

The main event features a rematch between Oscar Negrete and Joshua Franco in a bantamweight clash for the NABF title. Last October these two committed felony assault against each other for 10 gruesome rounds. They were like two angry roosters who refused to give ground and tore into each other on even terms. The fight ended in a draw and justly so. Now they are doing it again.

I ran into Negrete’s manager Cesar Garcia and he hopes there isn’t a repeat for the sake of the women and children.

Also on the same card will be former Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza returning to the boxing ring after giving birth last year. She hasn’t fought in more than a year, but she will be refreshing her memory against Jhosep Vizcaino in an eight round bout.

Esparza was tabbed to face another Golden Boy fighter Seniesa Estrada in a showdown. But pregnancy stalled that collision so now she’s looking to regain traction in this fight. Esparza’s opponent fought Estrada and was stopped in three rounds last summer. She then was stopped by Adelaida Ruiz in two last November. But the Ecuadorian fighter returned to her home and grabbed a win to remind her what a win feels like. Now she has Esparza.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m.

We’ll be returning on Thursday, my shotgun rider and I. Traffic going in the other direction isn’t nearly as bad or perilous as going toward the ocean. A return to the desert can be refreshing though predictions for temperatures in Indio will be 100 plus.

Prograis

Outside of sunny California there’s plenty more going on.

On Saturday, April 27, the World Boxing Super Series unveils a red carpet for a clash between world champions Regis Prograis and Kiryl Relikh for the WBC and WBA super lightweight champions. Also, Nonito Donaire and Stephon Young meet for Donaire’s WBA world bantamweight title.

It’s an enticing lineup that will be streamed by DAZN.

Prograis, 30, a southpaw, trained partly in Southern California for this fight and intends to muscle into the upper echelon of prizefighting. This is another step toward super stardom and a return home to his Louisiana roots. It takes place at the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, La.

A female clash between Selina Barrios and Melissa Hernandez could be streamed if time permits.

Easter on Showtime

In Las Vegas a pair of staunch lightweights battle for the vacant WBA and IBO world titles when former champ Robert Easter Jr. and Rances Barthelemy meet at the Cosmopolitan on Saturday April 27. Showtime will televise.

Easter returns to the ring after suffering the first loss of his career last year against the hands of Mikey Garcia.

Barthelemy, 32, lost for the WBA super lightweight title to Kiryl Relikh who fights on the same day against Prograis. Both Easter and Barthelemy feel naked without a strap wrapped around their waists.

Former super featherweight champ Jezreel Corrales of Panama is also on the Las Vegas fight card but this time in the lightweight division. He lost his title by knockout to Puerto Rico’s Alberto Machado who also lost the title to California’s Andrew Cancio by knockout. There’s a lot of knockouts going on, somebody has to get to the bottom of this.

Again, my name is David Avila. I don’t carry a badge but boxing is my game.

Photos of Danny Roman and TJ Doheny by Alonzo Coston

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Mad Max and Manny

Ted Sares

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Mad-Max-and-Manny

The crowd chants “Manny, Manny, Manny” at the weigh-in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and Pacquaio’s beloved Pinoy fans are going wild. It’s a BIG event, bigger even than many heavyweight title fights.

Max

Meanwhile, Maxim “Mad Max” Dadashev’s wife Elizabeth is flying from her home in St. Petersburg, Russia, to be with her husband at a hospital in Maryland. Dadashev was critically injured on Friday night while suffering an upset loss to heavy-handed Puerto Rican bomber Subriel Matias at another MGM property, the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

Dadashev, 28, was 281-20 as an amateur, undefeated in 13 professional fights, and the IBF’s third-ranked junior welterweight, but Matias had his number and dominated throughout in a tough and grinding affair.

Capture 9

Maxim Dadashev

At the end of the 11th round, Buddy McGirt told his fighter, “I’m going to stop it, Max.” Dadashev protested. Maybe Max’s brain signaled no, maybe not. But his heart surely said “I’m not done.”

McGirt overruled him, a sage move, but unbeknownst to anyone the damage had been done and it was severe.

“He had one hell of a fight,” McGirt told the Washington Post. “Tough fight, tough fight; took a lot of tough body shots. I just think it was time to stop it. He was getting hit with too many shots. I said to him, ‘I’m stopping it.’ He said, ‘No, don’t.’”

The scores at the time of the stoppage were 109-100, 108-101 and 107-102 in favor of Matias. According to CompuBox, Matias out-landed Dadashev 319-157; 112 of Matias’ punches were body shots.

Max was stretchered out of the arena and rushed to UM Prince George’s Hospital where his skull was opened up to relieve the pressure caused by bleeding. The cavity reveals brain damage, and memories of Mago surface. The dreaded and familiar scenario then begins as he is put into an induced coma. Hopefully, the swelling goes down, the bleeding stops, and no blood clot appears as the later would make a terrible situation grave. In any event, Max will never box again. His well-publicized dream to win a world title will not be fulfilled.

In a post-fight interview, ESPN’s ringside analyst Tim Bradley said, “That’s a scary situation and every time you step foot in the ring you know that was always the talk that I would have with my wife. You know before I would step foot in the ring, I would sit her down, I would look at her and I would say, ‘Look at me, honey. Take a good look at me, open your eyes wide open because I might not come out the ring, for one, and I know I’m not coming out of the ring the same way that I came in.’”

Manny

Back to the big fight the following evening:

The crowd chants “Manny, Manny, Manny” as he enters the ring to battle Keith Thurman for still another championship as his worshipers are now virtually in a state of mass hysteria and begin singing and cheering loudly. The scene borders on the surreal.

Across the Pond

Earlier on Saturday, across the pond in London, heavyweight David Allen took a bad beating from 6’9” David Price and required oxygen. He also was stretchered out and sent to a hospital, adding to the angst. But he will be okay. According to his promoter, Eddie Hearn, Allen had a broken orbital bone and a damaged tongue, but brain scans suggested he was okay.

David Allen — “Very happy and proud of David Price. I will be okay, but the last 12 months or so my health has been deteriorating and I’m glad I hung on, took the chance, and made money. [I’m] now probably done.”

“Manny, Manny, Manny”

In Las Vegas, Manny has decked Thurman in the first round and the place is delirious. The crowd senses that this is his night although Thurman is not backing up. In the tenth, Pac almost puts “One Time” away after landing a devastating body punch.

Finally, the fight is over and Manny is declared the winner. The decibel count goes off the chart as the Pinoys sing “We Are The Champions.” Viewers hit the mute button. These are not fans as much as they are cultists. One wonders if those who are chanting even know that this has been a week where boxing exposed its grim side.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

Ted Sares is a member of Ring 8, a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). He is an active power lifter and Strongman competitor in the Master Class.

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The Hauser Report: Caleb Plant is Making His Mark

Thomas Hauser

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The-Hauser-Report-Caleb-Plant-is-Making-His-Mark

The July 20 IBF 168-pound title fight between Caleb Plant and Mike Lee wasn’t expected to be competitive. But it was a coming out party for one of boxing’s more compelling personalities.

Plant was born and raised in Tennessee. As his ring career progressed, he moved to Henderson on the outskirts of Las Vegas to hone his craft. On January 13 of this year, he scored an upset decision victory over Jose Uzcategui to claim the IBF belt and bring his record to 18-0 with 10 KOs. Prior to that, his hardscrabble origins had been scarred by tragedy.

Plant grew up in a home where alcohol and drug abuse were common. His own daughter, Alia, was born with severe brain damage.

“She had zero motor skills,” Caleb recounted last year. “She couldn’t sit up. She couldn’t hold her head up. She couldn’t lift her arm. She couldn’t eat. She ate through a tube in her stomach. I didn’t know if she was gonna know who I was. I didn’t know if she knew that I loved her. She was never gonna stand and say ‘I love you, dad’ or ‘Merry Christmas, dad.’ She’s not gonna know what it’s like to have friends. But what if I could just give her a nice life, a life that I didn’t have. What if I could work so hard that I can give her a life and things that I never had as a kid. We won’t be able to have the relationship that I had with my dad. But I’ll give her my all, my best, no matter what. This is what I can try to give her. A roof over her head; food in her stomach even if it’s not through her mouth.”

In 2015, at nineteen months of age, Alia was in the hospital on life support for the fifth and final time in her young life. Plant’s words speak for themselves.

“The doctors were telling me, ‘Mr. Plant, your daughter is gonna pass away. That’s a tough conversation to have. She was slowly going down and down and down and down. I went to her. It was just me, and I said, ‘You know, this has been a long nineteen months, and I know you have to be tired. And if you are over this, then I’m okay with that. I’m not gonna be mad at you. I’m not gonna be disappointed in you. I’m not gonna be upset with you. If you’re tired of this and you’re done and you don’t want to do this anymore, then your daddy supports you. And I’m gonna be right here.’ And right after that conversation – a conversation that I had never had with her before because, every time before, it was ‘No, this is not gonna happen’ – she started going down. I said, ‘I want you guys to take this stuff off of her because I don’t want her to pass with these tubes down her throat and an EEG machine on her head and sticky and all that stuff.’ They took all that stuff out. They cleaned her off and washed her hair. They took everything out. I got to sit there with her. She took her last breath at 10:55. And I just sat with her there for a long while.”

Adding to the tragedy in Plant’s life, his mother was shot and killed by a police officer in March of this year. According to the Tennessee Bureau of investigation, Beth Plant was being taken to a hospital by ambulance when she became unruly and pulled a knife from her backpack. The driver pulled over to the side of the road and called for assistance from law enforcement. When a policeman arrived, Plant came toward him brandishing the knife and he shot her.

After Plant’s mother died, Caleb posted a message on Facebook that read, “Love you forever and always momma. You always said ‘work hard bubba’ and I did. I know that we spent a lot of time wishing the relationship we had was different but you was still my momma. We both wished we could start from scratch so we could go back and you could have a fresh start with me and Maddie. Regardless you was one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever come across. You had your demons but you’d give the shoes off your feet and your last dollar to someone who needed it less than you. I love you momma and I know you are up there with Alia now and her and grandma finally get to spend time together like we talked about way back. You are the first one out of all of us to see what Alia is really like so make the most of that and kiss her up and tell her that her daddy loves and misses her. I know in the end it’s your demons we always talked about that got the best of you. Maybe you always told me because you knew I’d understand because we shared some of the same ones.”

The saving grace in Plant’s life has been boxing.

“I’ve been boxing since I was nine years old,” Caleb says. “There ain’t never been a Plan B. Not to go to college. Not to get a nine-to-five. Not to get a job. Not to be in the NFL. Not any of that. All I’ve ever had is boxing. I’m from the metho-heroin capital of the U.S. where a mother will sell her child’s last toy for one Xanex. Where a mother will lock her son and her daughter in a room for hours, not taking care of them, just so she can be locked away in her room doing her own stuff. I’m from where the Bethesda Center gives out-of-date canned food to you because you ain’t got no food. There ain’t no Plan B.”

Elaborating on that theme during a July 1 media conference call, Plant declared, “Boxing has always been like a sanctuary for me. It’s been a place that I could go and be somebody. As a kid, I was somebody that nobody would want to be, living in a place where nobody would want to be in. When I got to go to the gym, then I got to be somebody that everybody wanted to be. Grown men looking up to me, oohing and ahhing. And once I got back out of those doors, I had to go back to being that kid that nobody wanted to be. So that became like an addiction for me, to want to be there, want to be in the gym.”

“Through everything that came and left in my life,” Plant continued. “Through all the things that I’ve lost, through all the things I’ve been deprived of or haven’t had, boxing has always stood by my side. Boxing has always been there for me through thick and thin. Boxing is like a woman. If you treat her right and you do good by her, then she’ll stand by you and she’ll do right by you. But she’s a jealous woman. And the difference between me and my opponent is, I haven’t glanced off of her. I haven’t endeavored into other things.”

Mike Lee comes from a world that Caleb Plant is unfamiliar with.

Lee went to high school at the Benet Academy in Lisle, Illinois. Virtually all of Benet’s students go on to college. Lee spent a year at the University of Missouri before transferring to Notre Dame, where he graduated with a degree in finance. “I relax by watching CNBC,” he told writer Kieran Mulvaney several years ago. “And I like reading the Wall Street Journal.”

For most of Lee’s ring career, he was well marketed and well protected by Top Rank. At one point, he parlayed his Notre Dame pedigree into a much-commented-upon Subway commercial. Recently, he left Top Rank to campaign under the Premier Boxing Champions banner. Now 32 (five years older than Plant), he came into Saturday night’s fight with a 21-0 (11 KOs) record and had fought his entire career at light-heavyweight or a shade higher.

Plant’s opposition had been suspect prior to his victory over Uzcategui. Lee’s opposition had been worse. “The typical Mike Lee opponent,” one matchmaker observed, “has had ten fights and won all but nine of them.”

Kick-off press conferences are usually characterized by the lack of anything eloquent being said. The May 21 press conference for Plant-Lee was different. Lee spoke first, voicing the usual platitudes.

“Every single fight is different. I don’t really care what his other opponents have done in or out of the ring. It doesn’t matter. On fight night, the bell rings, it’s just me and him. The best man will win. I’ve been in so many press conferences where opponents either talk shit or they’re dismissive or they’re respectful. I’ve beat them all. This is an incredible opportunity and I will make the most of it. I’m going to shock a lot of people”

Then it was Plant’s turn.

“I’ve been boxing my whole life,” Caleb said. “No college degree for me. No high school sports. No acting gigs. No Subway commercials. Just boxing, day in and day out, rain, sleet, or snow. He may have a financial degree. But in boxing I have a Ph.D and that’s something he don’t know anything about. Something else I have a Ph.D in is being cold and being hungry and being deprived, coming from very rock bottom. That’s something he don’t know anything about. So if this guy ever thought for one second that I would let him mess this up for me and send me back there; unlike him, I have everything to lose. This is how I keep a roof over my head and food in my belly. That’s something he don’t know anything about. So if he thinks he’s going to mess this up for me, he’s not half as educated as I thought he was.”

At times, the dialogue seemed to verge on class warfare. And it continued in that vein through fight week.

“There are zoo lions and there are jungle lions,” Plant said at the final pre-fight press conference two days before the bout. “The zoo lion will look at the jungle lion and think they’re the same thing. And from a distance they look the same. Until it’s time to eat or be eaten.”

“The trash talking goes back and forth,” Lee responded. “That’s as old as time. Nothing he’s saying is new. It’s all recycled stuff he’s heard on TV or heard in movies. It’s nothing new to me. It doesn’t even bother me. I laugh at it.”

Plant-Lee was broadcast live on Fox as a lead-in to the Pacquiao-Thurman pay-per-view card. Lee was a 15-to-1 underdog. The consensus was that he had as much chance of beating Plant in a boxing match as Yale would have of beating Notre Dame in football.

Nevada’s choice of 76-year-old referee Robert Byrd as third man in the ring was a bit of a surprise. Byrd was once a capable referee, but his performance in recent years has been erratic. The most egregious example of this was his mishandling of the June 15 World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight semi-final bout between Mairis Briedis and Krzysztof Glowacki.

Byrd is past the point where he can move nimbly around the ring and was out of position for much of Briedis-Glowacki. His judgment was also faulty. In round two while the fighters were in a clinch, Glowacki hit Breidis in the back of the head with a rabbit punch. Briedis retaliated by flagrantly smashing an elbow into Glowacki’s face, driving the Pole to the canvas. In a post-fight in-the-ring interview on DAZN, Briedis acknowledged the foul, saying, “I did a little bit dirty.”

Glowacki, for his part, noted, “The elbow was really strong and clear to the chin. I did not know what happened. I do not remember a lot after that.”

Byrd deducted a point from Briedis but didn’t give Glowacki additional time to recover. Still hurt, Glowacki was knocked down fifteen seconds later by a two-punch combination that ended with a right hand to the back of the head. He rose. The bell rang to end the round. And Byrd didn’t hear it.

“The bell’s gone,” DAZN blow-by-blow commentator Jim Rosenthal shouted. “They’re carrying on. Come on, referee. I can hear it. Get in there.”

But Byrd allowed the action to continue. With people at ringside waving their arms and screaming at him that the round had ended, he allowed Briedis to batter Glowacki for another eight seconds until Mairis scored another knockdown.

“He’s gone down after the bell,” Rosenthal proclaimed. “What is occurring in there? What is occurring? That bell was ringing for ages. It’s farcical. He’s saying he couldn’t hear the bell. He must have been the only one in the arena.”

A badly damaged Glowacki was allowed out of his corner for round three but the fight was stopped twenty seconds later. In the same post-fight interview on DAZN, Briedis conceded that he’d heard the bell ending round two but kept punching.

As for Plant-Lee, the fight lived down to expectations. Lee tried to fight aggressively but didn’t have the tools to do it. Plant was the faster, stronger, tougher, better schooled fighter. He dropped Lee with a lead left hook late in round one, dug effectively to the body throughout, and put Lee on the canvas thrice more in the third stanza. After the final knockdown, Byrd stopped the mismatch. According to CompuBox, Lee landed just eight punches in the entire bout.

It will be interesting to see how Plant progresses from here, in and out of the ring. In that regard, it should be noted that writer Jeremy Herriges talked at length recently with Carman Jean Briscoe-Lee (Alia’s mother, who was once Caleb’s companion). Thereafter, Herriges wrote a thought-provoking article for NY Fights that calls portions of Plant’s narrative into question.

A Missing Part of the Caleb Plant Story 

 

Meanwhile, Caleb remains a work in progress.

“I’m not a grown man,” he said during a July 1 media conference call. “I’m a growing man. So I’m going to continue to become better in the ring. I’m going to continue to become a better man outside the ring. Thus far, I think I’ve done a good job of handling that responsibility. If I just continue to follow what I’ve done, I think I’ll be on the right path.”

Let’s see how the journey unfolds.

Thomas Hauser’s new email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His next book – A Dangerous Journey: Another Year Inside Boxing  – will published this autumn by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

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Manny Pacquiao Defies Father Time, Whips Thurman

David A. Avila

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Manny-Pacquiao-Defeats-Father-Time-Whips-Thurman

Manny Pacquiao Defies Father Time, Whips Thurman

LAS VEGAS-Father time, hold on.

Manny Pacquiao knocked down Keith Thurman with his electrifying speed in the first round then managed to keep the lead and defeat Keith Thurman by split decision and retain the WBA welterweight world title Saturday. It was one exciting firefight.

Pacquiao showed the young guns he still has bullets left in the chamber.

The pride of the Philippines, Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) also showed he still has star attraction and startling speed in front of the crowd of 14,356 at the MGM Grand. And he still has enough in the gas tank to defeat a young powerhouse like 30-year-old Thurman.

But it was razor close.

Pacman jumped to the lead in the first round with a sizzling combination capped by a lightning right hook that floored a surprised Thurman. The Florida fighter smiled while getting up.

“He caught me when I was moving back,” said Thurman. “After that knockdown it was just a numbers game.”

For the first five rounds Pacquiao bedazzled Thurman and the fans with his jitterbug style that has confused dozens of opponents in more than 20 years as a professional. But once he slowed down, Thurman began connecting and connecting.

Thurman had never tasted defeat and used a body attack to slow down the rushes by Pacquiao. It proved effective and from rounds six through nine the taller Thurman was connecting on a slower moving Pacquiao.

Just when it looked like Thurman was about to take over with body shots and rights in the 10th round, Pacquiao stopped the onslaught and unleashed a multiple-punch rally including a powerful left to the body that buckled Thurman who was visibly pained by the body blow. Somehow he hung on as Pacquiao unfurled a barrage of blows in search of the killing blow he once knew so well. Thurman survived.

“I felt like I was grabbing some momentum back. I felt like I needed to possibly get a knockdown,” Thurman said. “But definitely I was obviously hurt in that round.  I tried to push him to his limit and he came up on top.”

Pacquiao was able to carry over the momentum to the 11th round by targeting Thurman’s weakened body. But at 30 years old the Floridians recovery time was quick and he was able to stave off Pacquiao’s attacks with well-placed right counters.

In the final round Thurman kept pressure on the shorter Pacquiao who seemed a little tired and careful about getting caught with Thurman’s sharp right counters. The fight ended without serious further altercations.

Judge Glenn Feldman scored it 114-113 for Thurman while judges Dave Moretti and Tim Cheatham tabbed it 115-112 for Pacquiao who retains the WBA welterweight title by split decision.

Once again the record-making eight-division world champion Pacquiao defied the ageing process with a victory over another younger world champion. If naysayers felt retirement was overdue he proved once again that he is one of the wonders of prizefighting.

“He’s a good fighter, he’s strong,” said Pacquiao. “We did it for the fans. I’m sure they were happy tonight. Even though it was close he’s not an easy opponent, he’s strong.”

Thurman was gracious in defeat.

“I knew it was close,” said Thurman. “This is a beautiful night for boxing. Manny Pacquiao is a great, great champion. I wish I had a little bit more as he was getting tired, but it was a great night for boxing.”

“This guy is a fighter,” said Pacquiao. “I think I can rank this like a (Antonio) Margarito fight, an Oscar De La Hoya fight, a Juan Manuel Marquez fight and Marco Antonio Barrera fight. You saw what we did in the ring, it’s the first time I encountered an opponent like Keith Thurman. Keith hits like Margarito. I think because he was too big for me and heavy handed.”

Caleb Plant

IBF super middleweight titlist Caleb Plant had predicted Mike Lee was not a true challenge and then proved it with three rounds of domination to win by technical knockout in the third round.

Plant floored a hyper Lee in the first round with a left hook but the Chicago fighter shook it off. The second round was better for Lee who managed to land some blows against the speedy Plant but still lost the round. Worse things were in store for Lee.

Las Vegas-based Plant opened the third round with two quick jabs and rifled a right cross missile that dropped Lee with a thud. The former Notre Dame football player got up enthusiastically ready for more and Plant obliged with a check left hook and down went Lee again. Luckily for Lee, referee Robert Byrd missed the knockdown and called it a slip. Lee couldn’t get up right away but managed to gather himself. When the fight resumed Plant zipped a right cross and down went Lee hard. Referee Byrd stopped the fight without a count though Lee angrily disagreed with the stoppage.

Plant was deemed the winner by technical knockout at 1:29 of the third round to retain the IBF super middleweight world title. It was his first title defense since winning it earlier this year in Los Angeles against Jose Uzcategui.

“I’ve been telling you it’s not going 12,” said Plant. “I take my hat off to Mike, it takes a true man to go in the ring.”

The Tennessee native said he’s ready for anyone whether it’s a super middleweight or light heavyweight.

“I ain’t hard to get ahold of, just come to Las Vegas,” said Plant.

Nery KOs Payano

In a tough battle between southpaw sluggers for the WBC Silver bantamweight title Mexico’s Luis Nery (30-0, 24 KOs) finally solved Dominican’s Jose Carlos Payano (21-3, 9 KOs) by directing his big blows to the body to win by knockout in the ninth round. It was Nery’s 11th consecutive knockout win.

“He had a complicated style but I adapted by the sixth round and went to the body and focused on that,” said Nery who lives and trains in Tijuana, Mexico.

After back and forth blows for nine rounds Nery caught Payano with a crackling left to the body and down went Payano for more than five minutes. The Dominican was counted out by referee Vic Drakulich at 1:43 of the ninth round.

Ugas wins Ugly

If not for a point deducted Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas (24-4, 11 KOs) would have won every round over Texas fighter Omar Figueroa (28-1-1, 19 KOs) but he had to settle for winning by unanimous decision in winning the eliminator for the WBC welterweight title.

It was an ugly fight.

The first round looked good for Ugas who nailed Figueroa with a wicked overhand right. Figueroa was saved from hitting the floor by the ropes and the referee wisely called it a knockdown. But after that, darkness and frustration set in as Figueroa hugged his way inside and Ugas showed he did not how to fight at close distance. Instead of fighting he held and held until referee Russell Mora took a point away in the fifth round.

Figueroa’s charges inside were ineffective for 11 rounds as both were unable to allow a fight to break out. After 12 rounds all three judges scored it the same 119-107 for Ugas. It was Figueroa’s first loss as a pro.

Lipinets

Former super lightweight world titlist Sergey Lipinets faced last-minute replacement Javar Inson, a southpaw, and knocked out the Filipino fighter with a counter left hook in the second round. It was advice that his new trainer Joe Goossen had directed him to do.

“(Joe Goossen) is an exceptional trainer. He just wanted me to make sure I block his punches with my elbows and just counter,” said Lipinets.

During a exchange of blows Lipinets countered with a left hook that Inson did not see and was dropped for a knockdown. Referee Jay Nady looked at his eyes and stopped the fight at 57 seconds of the second round for a technical knockout win for Lipinets.

“You never know what to expect because you train for one style and get another. He was looking for it. A great fighter executes what he expects,” said Goossen.

Other Bouts

Nigeria’s Efe Ajagba (11-0, 9 KOs) out-punched Turkey’s Ali Eren Demirezen (11-1,10 KOs) over 10 rounds to surprisingly win by unanimous decision instead of by knockout. Both heavyweights entered the ring with prodigious knockout records but neither was able to knock the other down. Two judges scored it 99-91 and a third 97-93 for Ajagba.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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