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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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Hughie Fury vs. Alexander Povetkin: At the Crossroads

Ted Sares

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Hughie Fury vs Alexander Povetkin will be on the undercard of the Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Luke Campbell world lightweight title fight on August 31 at the O2 in London.

Fury is 23-2 while the Russian is 34-2 but these records somewhat hide the fact that the loser will need to reevaluate things while the winner can move on to bigger things. In short, a win can catapult Hughie (Tyson Fury’s cousin) to the world stage, but a loss in this, his Matchroom debut, can be disastrous, especially coming after his ugly win against a bloated Samuel Peter in a foul-fest this past July.

Said promoter Eddie Hearn, “Hughie will have to come through fire in this fight to win but, if he does, the rewards are huge.”

That’s a big “if.”

Povetkin turns 40 in a few weeks. Father time takes no prisoners and Povetkin is hardly the Povetkin of old. He was dismantled by Anthony Joshua and was even in trouble against big David Price. But “Sasha” has fought much stiffer opposition and is heavy-handed with many notable wins on his resume.

Fury himself said, “You can’t underestimate Povetkin. One [wrong] move and you get your head taken off.”

So, the two will be at the crossroads. And Robert Johnson said it best in these lines from his iconic “Cross Road Blues”:

I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
Asked the Lord above “have mercy, now save poor Bob, if you please”

Ooh, standin’ at the crossroad, tried to flag a ride
Ooh-ee, I tried to flag a ride
Didn’t nobody seem to know me, babe, everybody pass me by

Many pundits (but not this one) think Fury, being the younger and fresher man, will prevail in the fight as youth trumps experience, but others, including the oddsmakers that made Povetkin the favorite, assert that the more experienced Russian is stronger and more dangerous and will not stop moving forward.

Fury adds, “My mind is good at the moment….I’ve had a bit of bad luck with boxing, health issues and all that….It has been frustrating at times but that’s all behind me now and we’ve got a good team behind me. We’re ready now….Nobody has got the experience I have at my age. I’ve fought all over the world and I haven’t been protected. I’ve had experience that nobody else has ever had, especially at my age.”

However, his last effort against former titleholder but now woefully dreadful Samuel Peter in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was, well, dreadful. BLH’s Scott Christ nailed it: “The cousin of Tyson Fury is not known as one of the world’s more exciting heavyweights, to put it kindly, but he’s a good technician who understands how to use his physical advantages, and he kept range easily against Peter, who was never much of a mover and at this point has cinder blocks for feet.”

One notable thing the combatants have done is signed on to be tested by VADA, both before and after their fight. “It is impossible to say in advance how many doping samples will be collected in total,” Povetkin’s promoter Vadim Kornilov told TASS. Given Povetkin’s record on this account, the VADA tests are a welcomed addition.

Ted Sares is 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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Three Punch Combo: Observations on Kovalev vs Yarde and other Upcoming Fights

Matt Andrzejewski

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THREE PUNCH COMBO — Light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KO’s) returns to the ring on Saturday in his native Russia to face mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde (18-0, 17 KO’s). Kovalev is coming off an impressive victory in his rematch with Eleider Alvarez, but was that performance a mirage and is the resurrection of the now 36-year-old Kovalev for real?

It’s funny how quickly perceptions can change in boxing. When Kovalev was knocked out by Alvarez in August of 2018, many thought Kovalev’s career as an upper echelon fighter was done. But when Kovalev out-boxed Alvarez in the rematch six months later, many thought Kovalev was back amongst the elite in the light heavyweight division.

In order to better gauge just where Kovalev is at in his career, we need to take a closer look at both of those fights.

Per CompuBox, Kovalev averaged throwing 48 punches per round (21 were jabs) to Alvarez’s 36 (17 were jabs) in their first fight. Most ringsiders had that fight fairly close through six rounds with maybe a slight edge to Kovalev. Then in round seven, Alvarez landed the overhand right that put Kovalev down and turned the tide.

In the second fight, per CombuBox, Kovalev averaged 68 punches per round (32 were jabs) to Alvarez’s 31 (17 were jabs). So Kovalev’s overall volume increased drastically while Alvarez’s volume remained relatively the same. In this fight, Kovalev essentially coasted to an easy victory.

In the first fight, it appeared that in round seven Kovalev began to look fatigued. But despite throwing a much higher volume of punches in the second fight, Kovalev never really looked fatigued or took his foot off the gas. So, what changed?

Re-watching both fights, it is clear that in the first fight Kovalev loaded up on almost everything he threw at Alvarez. But in the second fight, Kovalev didn’t load up that often. Instead, he used his jab more. By doing so, he was able to pace himself while displaying excellent overall boxing skills.

Kovalev changed his style in the second fight and clearly it worked. Coming up the ladder, Kovalev always had the raw power but early in his career he displayed very good boxing skills. As his career progressed, he began falling more and more in love with his power, often times abandoning those boxing skills. But his new trainer for that second fight with Alvarez, Buddy McGirt, helped bring back those boxing skills and we saw the results.

So, is this resurrection of Kovalev for real? Yes, I believe so, if he continues to focus on what worked for him in that second fight with Eleider Alvarez. The boxing skills can be elite and there is still the raw power. Light heavyweight is deep but I think this resurrected version of Kovalev can still defeat anyone in the division.

ShoBox Returns

ShoBox returns on Friday with a tripleheader from Main Street in Broken Arrow, OK. The card will be headlined by fast-rising 168-pound prospect Vladimir Shishkin (8-0, 5 KO’s) who will be taking a big step up in competition in facing DeAndre Ware (13-1-2, 8 KO’s) in a bout scheduled for 10 rounds. Also featured on the card will be the return of Shohjahon Ergashev (16-0, 14 KO’s) who will face the tough Abdiel Ramirez (24-4-1, 22 KO’s) in a scheduled ten at 140 pounds.

Shishkin, 28, turned pro in July of 2016 after a solid amateur career. He is coming off a career best win last October when he stopped former world title challenger Nadjib Mohammedi in the 10th round of their scheduled 12-round fight. Now Shishkin will come to the U.S. for the first time to face an even stiffer test in Ware.

Ware, 31, is coming off a career-best performance himself in February when he scored a surprise 10- round majority decision over the previously undefeated Ronald Ellis. Ware once held Shishkin’s status as a rising super middleweight then took a step back with a bad performance in 2018 against Cem Kilic. He can reclaim his stature in the division with a victory on Friday.

Ergashev, featured earlier this year as a break-out candidate, is coming off a rather pedestrian performance in February when he won a 10-round decision against awkward Mykal Fox. Prior to that performance, Ergashev had been putting on some dominant performances, flashing a tantalizing skill set along with devastating power.

Ramirez is a tough aggressive veteran who pulled a big surprise last December when he stopped former contender Michael Perez. He is certainly no pushover and his aggressive style should at the very least make for an entertaining fight.

ShoBox continues to deliver in 2019 and I expect no different from this event on Friday. While both Shishkin and Ergashev will enter the ring as favorites, they are certainly not in easy, and it’s this type of matchmaking that continues to make the series a big hit.

Under the Radar Fight

DAZN returns on Saturday from Mexico with a card headlined by 115-pound champion Juan Francisco Estrada (39-3, 26 KO’s) who will be making the first defense of the title he won in April when he takes on Dewayne Beamon (16-1-1, 11 KO’s). While this fight will grab much of the publicity surrounding this card, there is an intriguing undercard fight pitting fast-rising 140-pound prospect Shakhram Giyasov (8-0, 6 KO’s) against veteran Darleys Perez (34-4-2, 22 KO’s).

Giyasov, 26, had a stellar amateur background that included winning a silver medal for Uzbekistan at the 2016 Olympics. He turned pro in 2018 and has been moved along at a very brisk pace. He is coming off a 10-round unanimous decision in April against veteran Emanuel Taylor and seems poised to quickly move into contender status at 140.

Giyasov can best be described as an aggressive boxer puncher. He throws very fluid combinations to both the head and body. His footwork is excellent and he is very adept at setting precision angles to land his heavy-handed shots with maximum impact. And though he is comfortable coming forward, Giyasov has also proven to be a very effective counter-puncher in the early stages of his pro career.

As with many up-and-coming young fighters, Giyasov does have some defensive holes. Most notably he has a habit of carrying his left hand at his hip and pulling straight back with his hands down. In his fight against Taylor, Giyasov was buzzed by a left hook in the first round while pulling straight back.

Perez, 35, is a hard-nosed skilled veteran and this is clearly a big step up in competition for Giyasov. Perez has tested up-and-coming fighters in the past and has shown a knack for exposing their weaknesses. In 2016, he pushed future world champion Maurice Hooker to the limit in what ended in a controversial 10-round split draw (most ringside observers felt Perez clearly deserved the nod). Perez has shown recently that he still has plenty in the tank and hopes to position himself back in contention in the deep 140-pound division.

Shakhram Giyasov has plenty of talent but also plenty of questions. Can he rise to the occasion and show his full potential against Darleys Perez or will he be exposed?  This is a very intriguing crossroads fight between a savvy skilled veteran and an elite young prospect.

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The Bones Adams Story (Part Two)

Arne K. Lang

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When Bones Adams retired from boxing, he was still in his mid-twenties. The kid from Henderson, Kentucky, now lived in Henderson, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas, and before leaving the sport he had made enough money to go on a home-buying spree.

Real estate in the form of rental homes was a sound investment, or so everyone told him. But that was before the Great Recession, a scourge that clobbered real estate speculators and new homeowners, hitting Las Vegas especially hard.

“Suddenly,” says Bones, looking back, “a house next door to one of my mine, a house that looked a lot like mine, was on the market for half the price that I paid for mine. I didn’t have the equity to ride out the storm.”

One of Bones’ best friends worked as a limousine driver for Charles Horky. The friend suggested that Bones join the team. Horky, a big fight fan, hired him in a flash.

Horky was an American success story. Starting with one limousine, he built a mini-empire. His fleet serviced the MGM Grand properties, of which there were eight on the Las Vegas Strip. Many of his regular clients were celebrities.

A town like Las Vegas attracts a lot of predators. Charles Horky fit right in. The FBI would allege that he didn’t merely turn a blind eye when his drivers supplied hookers and drugs – cocaine, meth, Ecstasy – to his customers, but that he encouraged it and demanded a cut of the action. Then there was the little matter of unauthorized charges on credit cards, a common scam in Vegas, particularly in “gentleman’s” clubs. “What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas,” goes the slogan, and what often stays is a lot more money than a visitor remembers spending.

On Dec. 13, 2012, the FBI arrested Charles Horky and eight of his employees or associates, including four limousine drivers, on racketeering charges. Clarence “Bones” Adams, identified in the papers as one of the limousine drivers, was caught up in the sting.

“I did some stuff I shouldn’t have,” Bones acknowledged when this reporter broached the subject. But he says he wasn’t a limousine driver except on his first day of work because Horky thought he was more valuable out in the field working as a starter, a person that works with the concierge at a hotel. (In Las Vegas, a taxi driver is prohibited from carrying more than five passengers. For larger parties, it’s often cheaper to hire a limo than taking multiple cabs.)

At his initial hearing, Bones pleaded not guilty. The attorney he hired, confident that he would receive only a slap on the wrist, got him to change his plea. Indeed, probation was what the prosecutors recommended. But the judge thought otherwise and Bones would serve six months at the federal correctional institution in Taft, California.

– – –

When we caught up with Bones Adams last week, he had just returned from shepherding his three youngest children to school (Bones has a daughter, Alexa, from a previous marriage). It entailed three stops – a high school, a middle school, and an elementary school. The school buses don’t service his neighborhood, an upper-middle-class neighborhood in the southwest part of Las Vegas.

The home that Adams shares with Millette, his wife of 14 years, and their children has a very deep back yard. Situated at the end of the long driveway is a 3,200-square foot building that houses a two-car garage and the boxing gym. The previous owner was a custom glass maker. This was his workshop.

Bones Adams doesn’t speak well of his former manager Cameron Dunkin, but Bones concedes that Dunkin did him a big favor when he sold his contract to James Prince. The change-over was made shortly after Bones’ first match with Paulie Ayala.

Prince, the Houston-based rap music mogul, was previously involved in the careers of Floyd Mayweather Jr, with whom he had a big falling out, and Andre Ward, among others. Today he is connected to a stable of boxers in Las Vegas who compete under the Prince Ranch insignia, the most notable of whom is former U.S. Olympian Michael Hunter who meets undefeated Sergey Kuzmin at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 13 in a match that will leave the winner well-positioned for a shot at a world heavyweight title.  Undefeated super bantamweight Raeese Aleem (pictured with Bones) is one of several rising contenders.

The gym that sits in Bones’ backyard was designed for Prince Ranch fighters but isn’t exclusively for them. “Basically,” says Bones, “whenever there is a really big fight in town, one of the fighters comes here.” Amir Khan used the gym to put the final touches on his preparation for Canelo Alvarez. Daniel Jacobs did likewise. More recently, Manny Pacquiao and his trainer Freddie Roach were here during the final days preceding PacMan’s fight with Keith Thurman. Tucked away in a quiet residential neighborhood, the gym offers a marquee fighter a level of privacy he is unlikely to find elsewhere.

pac

Pacquiao

When Khan was here in May of 2016, Bones Adams wasn’t yet immersed in the daily routine of a trainer. It would be more accurate to say that he was the facility’s caretaker. But he and Khan forged a relationship and when Khan was in the market for a new trainer – having left Virgil Hunter, who trained him for his bout with Terence Crawford — he thought of his new buddy back in Las Vegas.

Amir Khan is no longer an “A side” fighter in the United States. Canelo Alvarez starched him with one punch and he was flayed on social media for his weak showing against Crawford. But Khan, an Olympic silver medalist for England at age 17, remains one of the most well-known sporting personalities in the U.K. His supposedly tempestuous relationship with his attractive American-born wife has been a steady source of fodder for the tabloids.

Bones spent two-and-a-half weeks with Khan in Khan’s hometown of Bolton and another two-and-a-half weeks in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where Khan finished his training for his fight with Billy Dib, a late sub for India’s Neeraj Gorat who had to pull out after being injured in a car crash. The fight was hyped as a landmark event that would pave the way to a succession of bigger fights in Saudi Arabia.

The Arab nation has been in the news lately and we asked Bones for a few tips on the unlikely chance that we would ever go there. “I was told that I shouldn’t strike up a conversation with a woman I didn’t know, but what I found was that things had loosened up,” he said. “However, ‘no touching’ is still the rule (a no-no that covers everything from a handshake to a hug). The people over there were very warm. We were treated very well.”

Late in his boxing career, Bones’ hairline began to recede. The recession has now completed its journey, perhaps with a little assistance from a barber, and Bones is fashionably bald. But he looks younger than his age; the muscles in his arms are taut, fittingly so for a man who preaches that a boxing-themed workout is the best workout of all for a man that wants to stay physically fit.

Capture

When Bones looks back on his boxing career, he thinks about what might have been if those that had influence over his career had done a better job of looking out for his interests and if the deck hadn’t been rigged against him in several of his most important fights. But the bitterness has long since dissipated, usurped by an understanding that there were times when his life could have spiraled completely out of control and an appreciation for those that reeled him back in. Foremost is his wife Millette, whose name Bones spells out to make certain the reporter gets it right.

It’s been a bumpy ride for Clarence “Bones” Adams, but he is now in a good place. Back in the day, the WBA stripped him of his title for no good reason other than they could, but looking back Bones can see that owning all the title belts in the world wouldn’t have amounted to a hill of beans if he hadn’t met Millette who has stood by his side through thick and thin.

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