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Danny Roman Unifies Title, Estrada Wins Rematch and Other Results from L.A.

David A. Avila

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Roman

Southern California’s native son Danny Roman out-slugged Ireland’s TJ Doheny in a brutal back and forth battle to unify the super bantamweight titles by majority decision on Friday. Roman. the WBA title-holder, added the IBF title to his collection.

Making his fourth defense of his WBA title, Roman (27-2-1, 10 KOs)  couldn’t have asked for a tougher foe than Doheny (21-1, 15 KOs) whose ability to take a shot to the head astounded the more than 5,000 fans at the Inglewood Forum.

But it was the body that did him in.

In this year of unification fights going viral, the willingness of the two super bantamweights to add gasoline to this year’s bonfire of boxing found another contribution and it was extremely volatile.

Roman was making his fourth defense of the WBA title he won in Japan two years ago and Doheny was making his second defense since winning in Japan last year. Both wanted to add to their growing legend.

The two 122-pound human bullets were slow to burn in the first round but in round two Roman increased the tempo and caught Doheny with a long left hook right on the chin and down he went. It was a perfect blow but did not hurt the Irish fighter. He quickly got up but it gave Roman a quick lead.

For the past three years those who have seen Roman perform know he builds momentum by attacking the body and slowing sapping the energy from his foes. Doheny, unlike the others, uses movement to avoid body shots.

Doheny mounted a counter-attack in the fourth round and it finally showed the crowd why he held the IBF world title. The southpaw’s left cross arrives as if delivered from a handheld rocket launcher. One caught Roman flush and Doheny followed it up a with a half dozen more rocket left hands. Roman was on his heels and Doheny did not let up. Then a missed punch allowed Roman to reset and mount his own rally but the bell rang ending the frame.

The crowd realized it was not going to be easy for either fighter.

Both fighters erupted in the fifth round and exchanged inside with savage abandon. After some vicious exchanges for three minutes Doheny departed to his corner with a bloodied nose.

Not until the eighth round did Roman finally find his rhythm and began to mow through Doheny’s defense and stream of left hands. First he used multiple left hooks, then switched to multiple rights to offset Doheny’s lefts.

As Doheny began to stop using his legs to avoid body shots Roman began lowering his target and attacked the body with left hooks whenever possible. A hint of pain seemed to cross the Irish fighter’s face when hooks from Roman found their mark.

Finally, in the 11th round a left hook from Roman saw the Irish fighter slump to the mat in pain. Referee Raul Caiz gave the count but the Irish fighter was not close to quitting. The fight continued and Roman seemed in control.

The last round saw both try to take control and end the fight with a convincing round. Each had their moment but it was perhaps the closest round since the third round. After 12 rounds the judges surprisingly had it close at 113-113, 116-110 twice for Roman. The native Californian is now the WBA and IBF super bantamweight champion.

New Super Fly Champion

The WBC super flyweight title changed hands as Mexico’s Juan Francisco “El Gallo” Estrada dethroned Thailand’s powerful Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, otherwise known as Wisaksil Wangek, by unanimous decision after 12 back and forth rounds.

Unlike their first encounter a year ago, Estrada came out smoking with a toe-to-toe barrage of blows in the opening round that caught most of the audience off guard. Their first fight saw Estrada box and move and stay out of Sor Rungvisai’s range. This time it was fire versus fire.

The second round saw the Thai champion connect with the big blows and that ended the toe-to-toe affair quickly. Still, Estrada was not the tentative fighter that fans saw back in February 2018 when Sor Rungvisai won by majority decision in the same arena. Not this time.

Estrada had the confidence knowing that he could exchange blows with the Thai fighter that many consider one of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the world, especially after his demolition of Nicaragua’s Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. The Mexican super flyweight had tasted Sor Rungvisai’s power and it was no longer a mystery. Though not ignorant with his attacks, he still took chances when necessary and it paid off.

Neither fighter was able to knock each other down or cause visible injury but Estrada from the fifth to the eighth round took total control of the fight with his ability to slip and counter on Sor Rungvisai. It seemed that Estrada would breeze through the rest of the fight.

The Thai champion made his counter-attack in the ninth round with powerful single blows that snapped the head back of Estrada when they connected. For the next three rounds he regained control of the fight and the pace. The momentum changed abruptly..

Mexican fans screamed “El Gallo” in unison as Estrada and Sor Rungvisai exchanged big blows. Despite each landing solid blows neither was ever seriously hurt. After 12 rounds the judges scored it 116-112, 115-113 twice for Estrada by unanimous decision and making him the new WBC super flyweight world champion.

“I’m very happy for this win. I worked very hard for this fight,” said Estrada who is a former flyweight world champion as well. “I’ll take a rematch with him but I prefer a unification match.”

Las Vegas’ Vargas Wins

Jessie Vargas (29-2-2), a former welterweight and super lightweight world titlist, knocked out Mexico’s Humberto Soto (69-10-2) in the sixth round of a super welterweight contest.

It was a battle between former world champions and Vargas was coming off back to back draws against Adrien Broner and Thomas Dulorme. This time he was facing Soto who had just defeated Brandon Rios two months ago in Tijuana. It shocked the boxing world.

But lightning didn’t strike twice for Mexico’s Soto who was caught with a lead right cross by Vargas that dropped him in the sixth round. Soto beat the count but was corralled by Vargas who unleashed an eight punch barrage that made referee Tom Taylor end the fight at 1:48 of round six.

“He came in and I caught him with a right hand,” said Vargas who lives in Las Vegas.

Other Bouts

Ronny Rios (30-3) won by knockout over Daniel Olea (13-8-2) at the end of round five in a featherweight contest when Olea did not answer the bell for round six.

Argentina’s Alberto Melian (5-0) knocked down Southern California’s Isaac Zarate (16-5-3) then was knocked down himself in the later rounds. After 10 back and forth super bantamweight frames Melian won by unanimous decision 95-92 twice and 94-93 to retain the NABA super bantamweight title.

Former Olympic silver medalist Shakhram Giyasov (8-0) discovered there’s a big difference from amateurs to pros when he was tagged in the first round by Maryland’s Emanuel Taylor (20-6) and staggered around the ring. For the next nine rounds Giyashov unleashed his flamboyant combinations and won rounds but was always vulnerable to return fire from Taylor. More than a few times Taylor’s left hooks put the Uzbekistan star on wobbly grounds in their super lightweight fight.

After 10 rounds two judges scored it 99-91 for Giyasov and another 97-93 for the Uzbekistani and new owner of the WBA International title.

Super middleweight contender Anthony Sims Jr. had rough waters with St. Louis veteran Vaughn Alexander but he muddled through the listless fight that drew boos from the crowd for inactivity. After 10 rounds the judges scored it 98-92 twice and 96-94 for Sims who trains in Compton, Calif.

South Central L.A.’s Diego Pacheco (3-0) needed only 1:46 to put the drop on Seattle’s Guillermo Maldonado (1-1) and win by knockout in the first round of their middleweight fight. A left hook started the downfall for Maldonado and then a crushing right cross ended the fight. Referee Jerry Cantu did not bother to count. Pacheco brought several hundred fans to the Forum which is located in Inglewood, a city adjacent to South Central L.A. where Pacheco lives.

Former amateur star Austin Williams (1-0) took his first dip into the professional pool and dunked Joel Guevara (3-5-1) once in the first round before referee Ray Corona decided to stop the one-sided battering at 2:06 of the frame. A four punch barrage by the southpaw Williams of Houston floored West Virginia’s Guevara. He beat the count but looked tentative after that in the middleweight match.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Vergil Ortiz Jr KOs Brad Solomon at Fantasy Springs (plus Undercard Results)

David A. Avila

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INDIO, Calif.-Vergil Ortiz Jr hunted and pursued the elusive Brad Solomon for several rounds before lowering the boom with three knockdowns and ultimately stopping the formerly unstoppable fighter for a knockout victory on Friday.

It’s on to bigger and better things.

Ortiz (15-0, 15 KOs) proved that styles didn’t matter and Solomon’s (28-2, 9 KOs) slippery moves couldn’t prevent the brutal outcome before several hundred fans and two Boxing Hall of Famers at Fantasy Springs Casino. It was Solomon’s first ever loss by knockout.

Despite winning all of his previous fights by stoppage, the lean Texan who trains in Riverside, Calif. had never fought a boxer with the pedigree of Solomon. It was the main question remaining for Ortiz. Could he figure out the winning equation to defeat a pure boxer?

He had the answer in his pocket all of the time.

Solomon moved smoothly around the ring from the opening bell. Ortiz followed with his tight guard and snap quick punches to the body and head. The first round revealed that Ortiz’s quick hands were just as quick as Solomon’s and much more powerful.

“I had to utilize my jab, figure out the right time to throw a punch,” said Ortiz. “He came to fight.”

After three rounds of chase and pursue, both fighters exchanged briefly and a body shot by Ortiz convinced the fleet opponent to go back on his toes. While trying to move away Ortiz fired a stiff left jab and down went Solomon. Body shots followed and Solomon was visibly affected by them. On one occasion he feigned a low blow but referee Raul Caiz ruled it was a clean blow.

“I can’t lie. I don’t think he was hurt right there,” said Ortiz of the jab knockdown. “

The subsequent blows would prove otherwise in the next round.

Ortiz opened up the fifth round at a rapid pace and though Solomon tried evasive maneuvering, it all proved in vain especially after a six-punch volley by Ortiz. Down went Solomon in the corner but he was able to beat the count. Solomon got up and tried to use his quickness to avoid Ortiz’s charge but a double left hook to the head sent him down once again. Referee Caiz waved the fight over at 2:22 of the fifth round to give Ortiz the knockout win and retain the WBA Gold welterweight title.

“I just took my time,” said Ortiz. “He’s difficult to figure out and made me use my brain.”

Ortiz, 21, continued his domination of the welterweight division though many felt Solomon could stall his rapid ascent to the top.

El Flaco

Serhii “Flaco” Bohachuk (17-0, 17 KOs) continued his knockout streak but needed a little time to figure out the switching tactics of Colombia’s Carlos Galvan (17-10-1, 16 KOs). But after five rounds he discovered that the body attack was the key. Bohachuk floored Galvan three times in the fifth round, two by body shots and the end came at 1:40 of the fifth round.

Other Bouts

Puerto Rico’s Alberto “El Explosivo” Machado (22-2, 18 KOs) snapped a two-fight losing streak by moving up to the lightweight division and knocking out Dominican Republic’s Luis Porozo (14-2, 7 KOs) with body shots in the second round. Machado had problems making the 130-pound super featherweight limit and showed a move up in weight was beneficial as he dropped Porozo three times until referee Tom Taylor ended the fight at 2:59 of the second round for a win by knockout.

Machado is co-promoted by Miguel Cotto Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions.

Alexis Rocha (15-0, 10 KOs) withstood an all-out assault from Mexico’s Robert Valenzuela Jr. (17-2, 16 KOs) early in the welterweight title fight and used a withering body attack to break down the taller fighter. After that it was all downhill sledding for the Santa Ana fighter who broke the will of Valenzuela with bludgeoning blows to the left and right side of the body.

“I was being lazy to be honest, so it’s my fault,” said Rocha on being bloodied by a counter uppercut while punching. “It’s very important, I came to fight and throw body punches to wear my opponent down. I think that’s very key in boxing in general.”

At the end of the fifth round the Mexican fighter was holding on. The fight was stopped at the end of the fifth round giving Rocha the win by knockout and he retains the WBC Continental Americas title in the welterweight division.

“I knew the body shots were taking a toll on him,” Rocha said. “Today was a good learning experience.”

Bektemir Melikuziev (4-0, 3 KOs) boxed his way to a unanimous decision victory over Vaughn Alexander (15-4, 9 KOs) in a 10-round fight for the WBA Continental Americas title. But it was sort of strange to see a guy nicknamed “the Bully” dance around the ring avoiding contact. Still, he won every round but disenchanted fans with his unwillingness to exchange with the muscular Alexander. No knockdowns were scored in the fight. All three judges saw it 100-90 for Melikuziev.

Luis Feliciano (14-0, 8 KOs) knocked down Herbert Acevedo (16-3-1, 6 KOs) early in the 10 round NABF super lightweight title fight and then cruised to victory by unanimous decision. The Puerto Rican who trains in Southern California pummeled Acevedo’s body before delivering a two-punch combination that sent the challenger to the deck. It was Feliciano’s first defense of the title he captured by decision over talented Genaro Gamez.

“I give props to Herbert Acevedo. He’s a tough and rugged fighter. I thought he was out when I dropped him in the third round. I tried to get the finish, but he weathered the storm,” said Feliciano. “I’m happy to finish the year with a win, and we are on to the next.”

A super welterweight fight saw Ferdinand Kerobyan (13-1) destroy Fernando Carcamo (23-11) with two knockdowns in the first round and the fight was stopped at 1:46 of the first round.

A super middleweight match ended in the third round by knockout win for Erik Bazinyan (24-0) over Saul Roman (46-14),

Hall of Fame

Also present at the Golden Boy Promotions boxing card were Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins who was recently voted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame by the boxing writers. He will join De La Hoya who was inducted several years ago.

Hopkins was selected last week along with Sugar Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez. Their induction takes place next June in Canastota, New York. It’s quite an honor and well deserved for one of the greatest middleweights in the history of the sport. He also captured the light heavyweight world title. We will have more on this great Philadelphia prizefighter in the coming months.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Frank Erne Enters the Boxing Hall of Fame, a Well-Deserved Honor

Arne K. Lang

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Former featherweight and lightweight champion Frank Erne was back in the news last week with the announcement that he is entering the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Erne and the other members of the newest class will be formally enshrined on Sunday, June 14, 2020.

Mr. Erne won’t be able to attend the induction ceremony. He’s been dead since 1954. However, were he alive, he would have the satisfaction of knowing that this honor is well-deserved.

Frank Erne competed from 1892 to 1908. Of his 53 documented fights, 21 were slated for 20 rounds or more. His opponents included George Dixon, Terry McGovern, and Joe Gans, all of whom went into the Hall of Fame with the inaugural class of 1990. Dixon, a bantamweight, McGovern, a featherweight, and Gans, a lightweight, are widely considered the best of all time in their respective weight classes. Erne defeated Dixon and Gans although both turned the table in rematches.

Frank Erne becomes the first fighter born in Switzerland to enter the IBHOF. When he was six or seven years old (reports vary) his parents moved to Buffalo, New York. In his early teens, he found work as a pinsetter in a bowling alley that was part of a larger complex that included a boxing gym. An instructor there, a boxing professor as they were called back then, took Erne under his wing.

Erne had his early fights in Buffalo. In 1895, he went to New York and attracted national notice with back-to-back knockouts of Jack Skelly. A Brooklyn man, Skelly was such an outstanding amateur that there was little backlash when he was sent in against featherweight champion George Dixon in his very first pro fight (the opening match in the Carnival of Champions at New Orleans, an event climaxed by the historic fight between John L. Sullivan and James J. Corbett).

Skelly was no match for Dixon and ultimately no match for Frank Erne. Two months after their second meeting, Erne had his first of three encounters with Dixon. Their initial go was a 10-rounder that was fairly ruled a draw. The rematch was set for 20 rounds with Dixon’s title on the line.

Here’s Nat Fleischer’s post factum: “Erne proved to be in every respect a superior boxer on this occasion for he outpointed Dixon at long range, beat him decisively at in-fighting, had it all over Dixon in ring generalship, besides possessing courage and fearlessness.” The ringside correspondent for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, more measured in his assessment, called it “one of the fiercest and cleanest fights, as well as one of the most scientific, that has ever been seen.”

Dixon had lost only twice previously, the first by disqualification and the other in a 4-round contest, and would win back his title in the rubber match, clearly out-pointing Erne in a match that went 25 rounds.

Making weight was always a problem for Frank Erne. After surrendering his title to Dixon, he moved up to lightweight and challenged George “Kid” Lavigne. They fought twice.

In their first meeting, Lavigne, the fabled “Saginaw Kid,” retained his title thanks to a generous referee who scored the fight a draw, but justice was served in the rematch which was staged at an outdoor arena on the outskirts of Buffalo on the day preceding the Fourth of July,1899. Despite injuring his hand in the seventh frame, Erne gave Lavigne a good drubbing and had his hand raised at the conclusion of the 20-round match. He now had the distinction of winning world titles in two separate weight classes.

Erne first met Joe Gans in March of 1900 when Gans was still in his prime. The match, slated for 25 rounds, ended in the 12th when Gans suffered a terrible injury to his left eye – some reports say the eye was knocked out of its socket – from an accidental clash of heads. The referee ruled that Gans was at fault and awarded the contest to Erne. Based on newspaper reports, that was a fair adjudication as Erne, the defending champion, had all the best of it, leaving Gans in great distress at the end of the previous round.

Gans avenged the defeat 26 months later, knocking out Erne in the opening round at Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada, across the Niagara River from Buffalo. Erne’s unrelenting battle with the scales had finally caught up with him.

Erne retired the following year, but returned five years later and had one more fight, winning a 10-round decision in Paris over British veteran Curly Watson in a fight billed for the welterweight championship of France. He remained in the French capitol for some time thereafter, working as a boxing instructor and promoting a few fights before returning to the United States and taking up residence in New York City.

Unlike most of his contemporaries, Frank Erne was no fool with his money, but the stock market crash of 1929 dealt him a severe blow and he was forced to seek regular employment. He became a salesman for a fuel company.

Erne won’t be around for his formal IBHOF induction, but he wasn’t completely forgotten in his dotage. On Jan. 9, 1951, the day after his 76th birthday, he received a special award at the silver anniversary dinner of the Boxing Writers Association, a gala affair held in the posh Starlight Room of the Waldorf-Astoria with entertainment provided by Jimmy Durante and other nightclub headliners.

Erne wasn’t honored only for his in-ring exploits, but for his good character. During World War II and again during the Korean War, it was common for famous boxers of yesteryear to visit wounded soldiers in VA hospitals and regale them with stories from their fighting days to boost their spirits. Frank Erne, although he had some infirmities, was especially active in this regard, “indefatigable” said New York Times sports editor Arthur Daley.

Frank Erne, it says here, is a worthy addition to the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Kudos to the electors who placed him on their ballot.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 76: Welterweights Vergil, Terence and More

David A. Avila

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In the words of many boxing journalists, fighters, trainers and promoters “styles make fights,” and those differences can lead to unpredictable outcomes. The weekend brings a few stylish welterweights on display from California to New York.

Welterweight ingénue Vergil Ortiz Jr. (14-0, 14 KOs) enters the world of unpredictability when he meets Brad Solomon (28-1, 9 KOs) a swift-moving veteran on Friday, Dec. 13, at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif. DAZN will show the loaded Golden Boy Promotions fight card.

It’s Ortiz’s third year as a professional and fifth time performing at the Indio casino. It’s also where he made his pro debut back in July 2016 when he began his remarkable string of 14 consecutive knockout wins.

Solomon, 36, has made a career of fighting pressure fighters and making them miss or defusing their power. Only Russia’s Konstantin Ponomarev, who was trained at the time by Abel Sanchez, was able to hang a loss on the Georgia fighter’s ledger.

Can Ortiz handle the style difference?

“Vergil can do more than people think,” said Vergil Ortiz Sr., father of the lanky welterweight slugger. “He can box any style.”

As a professional, Ortiz has yet to fight someone like Solomon with his juke and move style of fighting. As an amateur he did face speedsters like Ryan Garcia. As a pro, this will mark his first in the prize ring. It should be interesting.

Power Packed Support

Knockout artist Ortiz leads a power packed-boxing card that includes a number of Golden Boy’s best knockout punchers like Bektemir Melikuziev, Alberto Machado and Luis Feliciano. All of these guys can punch and are looking to put the cap on 2019.

That’s a lot of firepower.

But also on the card is someone fighting for 360 Promotions named Serhii Bohachuk, otherwise known as “El Flaco.” Just like Ortiz, Bohachuk has never allowed the final bell to be rung against 16 foes so far. He is going for 17 when he fights Carlos Galvan (17-9-1) in a super welterweight fight set for eight rounds. Don’t expect to hear the final bell whenever the Ukrainian trained by Mexican style coach Abel Sanchez gets in the ring.

Bohachuk could be following in the footsteps of another guy formerly trained by Abel Sanchez named Gennady Golovkin. It’s still too early, but he looks pretty good so far.

New York City

Top welterweight Terence Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) defends the WBO welterweight title against Lithuania’s Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) on Saturday, Dec. 14, at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. ESPN will televise the Top Rank card.

In the crowded and talented world of the welterweights, Crawford could very well be the best of them all. If only he could prove it. The Omaha-Nebraska prizefighter has tried every enticement possible to lure Errol Spence Jr., Danny “Swift” Garcia, Shawn Porter and Manny Pacquiao. Nothing works.

What does work for Crawford has been a reputation as one of the best prizefighters in the world pound for pound. Some tab him as the very best especially when it comes to speed, agility and the ability to innovate on the spot. He has few peers.

Facing Crawford will be Kavaliauskas who trains in Oxnard with a number of Eastern Europeans including Vasyl Lomachenko. They share the same management. He’s never faced anyone close in talent to Crawford. Except, maybe inside of his own gym.

“I’m not focused on no other opponent besides the opponent that’s in front of me. My goal is to make sure I get the victory come this weekend, and that’s the only person I’m focused on now,” said Crawford. “Anyone else is talk. It goes in one ear and out the other. He’s young, hungry and I’m not taking him lightly.”

Crawford has been chasing stardom for a number of years. What better place than New York City’s Madison Square Garden to showcase his skills to the public. At age 32, Crawford is running out of sand.

Lightweight Title Fight

The co-main event on Saturday at Madison Square Garden features IBF lightweight titlist Richard Commey (29-2, 26 KOs) defending against wunderkind Teofimo Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs).

But this weekend truly belongs to the welterweights.

Next Week

Southern California will be packed with boxing. It’s a last gasp before the end of 2019.

Ontario, California will be hosting a very large Premier Boxing Champions fight card at the Toyota Center on Saturday Dec. 21.

WBC super welterweight titlist Tony Harrison finally defends against Jermall Charlo in a rematch and it won’t be friendly. These guys hate each other.

“He’s fake,” said Harrison when they last met in Los Angeles for a press conference.

It won’t be pretty when they meet next week.

Tickets are on sale. Go to this link for more information: https://www.toyota-arena.com/events/detail/premier-boxing-champions

Fights to Watch

Fri. DAZN 4:30 p.m. Vergil Ortiz (14-0) vs Brad Solomon (28-1); Serhii Bohachuk (16-0) vs Carlos Galvan (17-9-1).

Sat. Facebook 5 p.m. Diego De La Hoya (21-1) vs Renson Robles (16-6).

Sat. ESPN 6 p.m. Terence Crawford (35-0) vs Egidijus Kaviliauskas (21-0-1); Teofimo Lopez (14-0) vs Richard Commey (29-2).

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