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The Nurturing of Teofimo Lopez, ‘The Takeover’

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Last weekend on the undercard of the ESPN and Top Rank Pay-Per-View headlined by the welterweight showdown between Terence Crawford and Amir Khan, the sport’s top prospect, lightweight Teofimo Lopez, returned to action. Lopez stopped Edis Tatli, a former two-time European champion who hadn’t previously been stopped, with a body shot in the fifth round to improve his record to 13-0 (11 KOs). For Lopez it was just the latest impressive performance as he continues to talk about “taking over” the sport and becoming its biggest star attraction, while his fists back up those claims each time he fights.

The 21-year-old Lopez and his outspoken father-trainer Teofimo Lopez Sr. insist they are more than ready to fight the elite fighters in the sport. As a former amateur standout and 2016 Olympian for his father’s native Honduras, his background in the sport suggests his goals are anything but a pipedream. His brash pronouncements during his rise through the pro ranks are nothing new in the sport. In fact, it’s something that Top Rank Promotions, Lopez’s promotional company since he turned professional in the fall of 2016, has overseen plenty of times in the past.

Top Rank has truly cemented itself as the prime promotional company for developing star attractions. Two of the biggest money-makers of the past generation, future Hall of Famers Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Miguel Cotto, were both nurtured promotionally by Top Rank.  Oscar De La Hoya from a generation before also saw his early career guided by Top Rank. Each of those three fighters had proved by their thirteenth professional fight that they were not far off from fighting for championship glory. So as Lopez continues to blaze a fast track, is it farfetched to think that he is talking out of place when he talks about conquering the best in the world, and very soon?

By his twelfth professional fight, Miguel Cotto had fought two former world title challengers, Justin Juuko and John Brown. They provided him in-ring experience and seasoning before he claimed his first world championship in his twenty-first professional bout. Mayweather and De La Hoya were on a faster track. De La Hoya fought Jeff Mayweather (Floyd’s uncle) in just his fifth fight. He won his first world title in just his thirteenth fight when he beat Jimmi Bredahl and by his eighteenth pro fight owned two world title belts. As for Mayweather, he won his first world championship in his eighteenth fight, beating super featherweight title-holder Genaro Hernandez. In fact, many were surprised that Mayweather was able to beat Hernandez so easily as Hernandez was considered the best fighter in the weight class.

Each fighter while having early success and similar pedigrees differed in their approaches outside the ring. This is something that makes boxing unique from team sports. With boxing, fans tend to grow attached to specific fighters based on different variables. Sometimes it’s for the way a fighter fights inside of the ring and sometimes it’s how the fighter carries himself outside the ring. And sometimes it’s a combination of both.

Cotto was a stoic fighter, a poker-faced assassin who was revered for his never-say-die attitude and rarely said a negative thing about another fighter. Oscar De La Hoya, with his matinee idol good looks, was the sport’s poster boy and corporate America’s dream athlete as his appeal reached many different demographic groups. Mayweather originally seemed to be a humble kid looking to bring the Mayweather name to heights that his father and uncles were once on the cusp of achieving. However, he would eventually trade that in for an exaggerated persona depicting the excesses of wealth, while boasting that he was the greatest fighter of all time. It’s not really defined where Lopez’s personality will land him in comparison to these three legends. He may wind up being a combination of all three.

What is clear is that these former Olympians were able to make the quick transition to the paid ranks, making significant impacts quickly under the Top Rank banner. With recent victories over the likes of Mason Menard, Diego Magdaleno, and now Tatli in dominating performances, it’s easy to understand why Lopez would want to challenge the best the sport has to offer.

When Lopez joined Max Kellerman on Kellerman’s weekly half hour boxing show, he said that he wanted to fight the fighter many view as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Vasyl Lomachenko. Lopez stated that he doesn’t respect any man besides his father, that he fears no man, and that there were four or five ways to beat Lomachenko.

Many think that Teofimo is getting ahead of himself, but one thing is true: While the legends won titles quickly, they weren’t beating the best the sport had to offer in their respective weight classes until they themselves had reached their physical primes. So, this might just be where Lopez can separate himself from the other fast risers that Top Rank nurtured into big stars.

What was interesting was how Lomachenko responded to what Lopez had to say on Kellerman’s show. “I don’t know why everyone is asking me about Lopez,” said Lomachenko after his latest victory over Anthony Crolla. “Lopez hasn’t fought anyone, no champions.”  (This statement was somewhat ironic as coming out of the amateur ranks Lomachenko demanded that whichever promoter he signed with needed to get him a title shot immediately and he got to fight for a world title in only his second professional bout.)

Barring Lomachenko, Lopez has stated that he wants to fight Richard Commey, the current IBF world lightweight champion. But Commey also has his eyes on Lomachenko who he was scheduled to fight on April 12, a fight that fell to Crolla when Commey suffered a hand injury. Commey recently stated that he would like a tune-up fight this summer before finally fighting Lomachenko in a unification bout later this year and that would seem to rule out Lopez who may not get his title shot until he moves up a weight class, which will eventually happen.

Whatever the immediate future holds for him, however, Teofimo Lopez, with Top Rank’s continued nurturing, may yet reach the highest summit of the sport, achieving his “takeover.”

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In a Shocker, Ryan Garcia Confounds the Experts and Upsets Devin Haney

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Its good to be crazy. Like a fox.

Ryan “KingRy” Garcia knocked down WBC super lightweight titlist Devin Haney three times to remind everyone of his fighting abilities in winning by majority decision on Saturday.

“I just knew what I could do,” Garcia said.

Fans will not forget the lanky kid from Victorville, California now.

Garcia (25-1, 20 KOs) fooled everyone in playing crazy weeks before the fight, then showed shocking power to hand Haney (30-1, 15 KOs) his first loss as a professional at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Haney’s WBC super lightweight title was not at stake for Garcia because he weighed three pounds over the limit.

After Garcia seemingly acting out of control on social media, Haney’s guard must have slipped in the first round during the first few seconds as Garcia connected with that hellish left hook and Haney, with a look of shock in his eyes, almost went down. He barely survived the first round.

“He caught me with it,” said Haney.

During the next few rounds, Haney proceeded to advance toward Garcia seemingly fully aware of the lethal left hook. He used feints and rights to score with a busier approach as Garcia seemed cocked and ready to counter with a left hook.

In the fourth round it seemed Haney was confident he had regained control of the fight, but every time he opened up with more than a two-punch combination Garcia reminded him whose hands were faster and more dangerous.

Though Garcia seldom jabbed he seemed bent on looking for the right moment to unleash his deadly left hook. And every time the Southern California fighter opened up with a combination he scored and Haney dare not exchange.

A few times Haney smiled as if signifying he escaped.

In the seventh round Haney looked to punish Garcia’s body and instead was met with a three-punch combination included a left hook to the chin and down went Haney slumped on the ground. He managed to beat the count and as soon as Garcia came within reach Haney wrapped his arms around him with a python grip. Despite the warnings by referee Harvey Dock, the fallen fighter would not release and Garcia impatiently fired a weak punch during the break. The referee deducted a point from Garcia though he could have deducted a point from Haney for not obeying his instructions to release his hold. Haney actually went down three times in the round but only one was counted by the referee.

From that point on Haney was very cautious but still looking to win by decision.

Though Garcia kept using a shoulder-roll defense that left his body exposed, he would retaliate with three and four punch combinations that usually Haney could defend against other fighters.. But Garcia’s blazing combinations were too fast to defend.

In the 10th round Haney looked to attack and was countered by Garcia’s right and a blinding left hook to the chin and another two blows that sent the former undisputed lightweight champion to the floor again.

It didn’t look good for Haney to survive.

Garcia walked into the 11th round still composed and never out-of-control He dared Haney to exchange and when within striking distance Garcia unleashed another lightning combination and down went Haney again with a defeated look.

Both fighters had fought each other as amateurs six times so there were no surprises between them. But Garcia’s power and speed were superior and that was the difference in a professional fight.

In the final round both were cautious with Garcia’s combination punching proving too dangerous for Haney to open up. Garcia celebrated early as the round ended confident of victory.

After 12 rounds Garcia was seen the victor by majority decision 112-112, 114-110, 115-109.

“You really thought I was crazy,” Garcia told the interviewer and the crowd. “You guys hated on me.”

Other Bouts

Arnold Barboza (30-0) won a curious split decision victory over United Kingdom’s Sean McComb (18-2) in a 10-round super lightweight fight. McComb’s long reach and busy southpaw style gave Barboza trouble. But he managed to win the fight though the crowd was not pleased.

Bektemir Melikuziev (14-1, 10 KOs) defeated France’s Pierre Dibombe (22-1-1) by technical decision after eight rounds due to a cut on his eye from an accidental head butt. It was a very competitive super middleweight fight.

Costa Rica’s David Jimenez (16-1, 11 KOs) outworked John “Scrappy Ramirez (13-1, 9 KOs) in a 12-round scrap to upset the Los Angeles based fighter. After a few close rounds Jimenez simply bullied his way inside and forced Ramirez against the ropes and unloaded his guns.

After 12 rounds two judges saw it 117-111 and 116-114 all for Jimenez.

“I’m a hard-working man from Cartago I come from nothing,” said Jimenez. “My corner told me I had to work inside.”

Charles Conwell (19-0, 14 KOs) stepped on the gas early with vicious body shots and uppercuts and blasted through the resilient Nathaniel Gallimore (22-8-1, 17 KOs) for several rounds. After a brutal fifth and sixth round the referee halted the one-side beating in favor of Conwell who was fighting for the first time under the Golden Boy banner.

Another winner was Sergiy Derevyanchenko (15-5) by decision over Vaughn Alexander (18-11-1) in a super middleweight match.

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Haney and Garcia: Bipolar Opposites

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Haney and Garcia: Bipolar Opposites

One young man flew halfway around the world to take on a world champion in his own living room; not once, but twice. The other young man quit prior to one fight, and then again during another one.

The first guy mentioned is an obedient son of an ultra-streetwise father.  The type of parent where, if he doesn’t know the answer (and more times than not he most likely does), he will know where to find it. The second guy doesn’t appear to have that quality guidance scenario going on for him, which is probably for the best, because he believes he has all the answers.

The first guy is on record as saying he wants to go down in boxing history as an all-time great.  The other guy?  He decided not to continue in a fight while he was still sporting an undefeated record.  You may think to yourself if there was ever a time to soldier through, right?

Then yesterday, that same guy missed making weight by 3.2 pounds, and seemed to be more than fine with it, to the point where he actually appeared to be quite pleased with himself.

If you haven’t heard, Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia are going to share a boxing ring in a twelve round go for God knows what will be at stake by the time they actually punch off.  The fact that no one from Garcia’s team has stepped in and rescued him from these unfolding events, his own personal well-being, and/or not to mention Devin Haney is, well, troubling in and of itself.

Back in the amateur days, the record shows they split six fights.  They were boys back then, so it means zero.  If anything, you’d want to be the older of the two, and Ryan had over a three-month age advantage.  If you’ve only been on the planet for a total of 120 months or so, every extra month could be a big enough difference in strength and development. Now as world class professionals in their prime?  That’s different.  Younger is always better.  Devin is that guy.

Haney and Garcia fought six times for free but will fight only once as professionals.  Then one of them will continue with their march for historic greatness, while the other will head back to Kamp Krazy, where he’s the current Mayor.

It’s never smart to lay 8-1, 9-1 in boxing.  And if you see taking Garcia as a value bet with +500 to +600 and beyond, you don’t understand value and you evidently don’t like money.

There is, however, a wagering opportunity here.

Total Rounds:  Fight doesn’t go 10.5 rounds.

Take anything over +125.  It’s worth a unit on a scale of 5.  Logically, there are a lot of ways to cash this ticket: legitimate victory, meltdown, catching lightning in a bottle, etc.  Or simply the exiting stage left of a guy who may be already plotting his next career move.

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In a Massive Upset, Dakota Linger TKOs Kurt Scoby on a Friday Night in Atlanta

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Although it was an 8-rounder on a show with two “tens,” Kurt Scoby’s match with Dakota Linger was accorded main event status on tonight’s card at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta. This had everything to do with Scoby (pronounced Scooby), a former record-setting college running back who was considered one of the brightest prospects in the 140-pound weight class. “[Scoby] works harder than almost anyone I’ve ever seen,” said veteran New York promoter Lou DIBella in a conversation with Keith Idec. “But he’s literally getting better after every fight and he’s got the hammer of Thor, man. He can punch through walls.”

The Duarte, California product who has relocated to Brooklyn and trains at Gleason’s Gym, was undefeated (13-0) heading in and was expected to make Linger his ninth straight knockout victim. But Linger, a 29-year-old Buckhannon, West Virginia policemen whose first ring engagements were in Toughman competitions, wasn’t intimidated by Scoby’s press clippings or by Scoby’s bodybuilder physique.

Linger, who improved to 14-6-3 with his tenth win inside the distance, took the fight right to Scoby and repeatedly found a home for his overhand right. In the sixth round, after Linger strafed the ever-retreating Scoby with a barrage of punches, referee Malik Walid determined that he had seen enough and waived it off. The decision seemed a tad premature, but neither Scoby nor his cornermen offered anything in the way of a protest.

Tournament results

In the first installment of an 8-man super welterweight tournament, Brandon Adams returned to boxing after his second three-year layoff and showed no ring rust whatsoever. Adams, a 34-year-old family-man who grew up in the Watts district of LA, dismissed Ismael Villareal with a wicked punch to the liver in the waning seconds of round three. The official time was 2:59.

A former wold title challenger, Adams who improved to 23-3 (16 KOs), has become the king of boxing tournaments. He first attracted notice in 2018 when he won the fifth edition of “The Contender” series, scoring a wide 10-round decision over Shane Mosley Jr in the championship round.

Villareal, a second-generation prizefighter from the Bronx whose dad fought the likes of Hector Camacho, declined to 13-3.

Adams next opponent will be Francisco Veron who will bring a record of 14-0-1 (10).

In an energetic 10-rounder, Veron, a Florida-based Argentine with a strong amateur pedigree, scored a unanimous decision over Mexico-born, LA southpaw Angel Ruiz (18-3-1). The judges had it 100-90, 99-91, and 96-94.

Ruiz certainly had his moments, but Veron launched and landed many more punches despite fighting the last six rounds with a damaged eye.

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