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Three Punch Combo: A Look at Some Lead-in Fights to Canelo-Jacobs and More

Matt Andrzejewski

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Yamaguchi Falcao (16-0, 7 KO’s)

THREE PUNCH COMBO — It is Canelo-Jacobs fight week and most of the attention of the boxing world will be fixated on this fight. But there is other action that deserves our attention this week. This includes a very intriguing middleweight crossroads fight between two former amateur standouts.

On Thursday, Golden Boy will present a card from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas that will be streamed live on Facebook Watch. The event is headlined by middleweights Yamaguchi Falcao (16-0, 7 KO’s) and Christopher Pearson (16-2, 12 KO’s). This is actually a rematch of their 2011 encounter in the World Series of Boxing. Pearson, representing  the LA Matadors, won that fight by split decision.

Falcao (pictured) had a very successful amateur career that included winning a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics. He turned pro in 2014 and began his career as a fairly active fighter with 13 fights in his first three years. However, since then he has had only four fights. Moreover, he has yet to really step up his level of competition. At 31, time is becoming a factor.

Like Falcao, Pearson also had a very successful amateur career and entered the pro game with plenty of hype. And also like Falcao, Pearson has yet to tap into much of that potential as a pro. Pearson’s issue has been a questionable set of whiskers and there have also been questions about his dedication to the sport. The talent is there and at 28 Pearson still has time to turn things around but his window is also closing.

On paper, Falcao-Pearson is a very evenly matched fight. Both are southpaws though stylistically they differ in how they fight behind that stance. Falcao is aggressive and likes to press forward looking to work combinations behind the right jab. He also frequently looks to counter with the straight left and will sit back in spots waiting for his opponent to throw to create counter opportunities.

Pearson is a boxer-puncher who will look to use his legs and use the entire ring. He is athletic with good speed and possesses very fast hands. Pearson is going to look to box behind the right jab and land quick combinations behind that punch as Falcao attempts to close the distance.

Will Falcao’s pressure and counterpunching ability neutralize the speed and athleticism of Pearson? This is a very fascinating matchup in what is frankly a toss-up fight. I am looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

About The Canelo-Jacobs Undercard

The undercard for Canelo-Jacobs has certainly been ravaged by some bad luck. First, the original proposed co-feature between David Lemieux (40-4, 34 KO’s) and John Ryder (27-4, 15 KO’s) was postponed when Lemieux came down with a right hand injury. And then a fight that was certain to be all action between Pablo Cesar Cano (32-7-1, 22 KO’s) and Michael Perez (25-3-2, 11 KO’s) was also postponed when Cano suffered a hand injury. So what are we left with? Well, to be honest, mostly showcase bouts for the “A” sides.

The new co-feature showcases sizzling 140-pound prospect Vergil Ortiz Jr. (12-0, 12 KO’s) taking a step up in class against veteran Mauricio Herrera (24-8, 7 KO’s). Ortiz, 21, looks like the real deal. He has dynamic speed and blistering power. To say the sky is the limit for him would be an understatement.

Herrera, 38, has seen his better days. He is just 2-3 in his last five fights and frankly is looking shopworn. In his prime, he was a slick boxer-puncher with excellent movement inside the ring. But in his recent fights he has been more of a stationary target and much easier to hit.

While Herrera has never been knocked out, this is a fight where Ortiz not only needs to score a knockout but do so early. Ortiz has nothing to fear in regards to Herrera’s power and Herrera will be standing right in front of him all night long. It should be easy work for Ortiz and he needs to make the appropriate statement given his status on this event.

Joseph Diaz (28-1, 14 KO’s) is coming off a tough 2018. First, he dropped a twelve round decision to WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. Then, accorded a second shot at a world featherweight title, he was unable to make weight. He out-pointed WBA title-holder Jesus Rojas, but could not claim the coveted title belt and made a bad impression by missing weight in such a critical fight.

Diaz now fights at 130. He scored a solid win against Charles Huerta in February and now faces Freddy Fonseca on a bigger stage. Fonseca has a nice record of 26-2-1 with 17 KO’s but has fought very limited opposition. This is a spot where Diaz should shine and put on a dominant performance. Anything less would be unacceptable and drop his stock at a time when he can ill afford to do so.

Speaking of Canelo-Jacobs…

I am not going to give my prediction at this time. It will come later in the week when the other TSS writers have their say. But I want to point out a few subtle factors that will go a long way in determining the winner.

There is nobody in boxing today who commits to going to the body with as much ferocity as well as consistency as Canelo Alvarez. He will beat his opponent’s ribcage from the first round until the end of the fight. This calculated attack often wears down and softens up his opposition as the fight progresses.

It is not inconceivable that this fight could be very close after six rounds. And this is where the body assault for Canelo could come into play down the stretch. Jacobs has never faced an opponent who goes to the body as well as Canelo and how he responds will be critical.

Will the cumulative effect of the body punches impact Jacobs’ movement? Will it take a lot of zap from his punches? If Jacobs becomes more of a stationary target and can’t get Canelo’s respect, the second half of the fight could be all one-way traffic for Canelo.

Canelo’s commitment to going to his opponent’s body, particularly with the left hook, is one of his strengths, but it also can create plenty of countering opportunities for his opponent. This especially came to light when Canelo fought Mayweather and Golovkin.

The openings will be there for Jacobs to land the counter right when Canelo dips down to throw the left hook to the body. Often times when fighters face Canelo, they become too defensive and focused on blocking the body shots without looking towards their own offense. What will Jacobs do? He does have an excellent quick right hand and if he is willing to stand in there he can certainly land that punch flush. Particularly early when he is fresh, Jacobs could be very dangerous with this punch.

Finally, with a big third fight with Golovkin looming ahead, a massive big money legacy fight, one must ask if Canelo will be fully focused. There is no doubt that he is training hard and preparing for a tough fight, but with something so big on the horizon it’s only human nature to glance ahead. And sometimes in boxing, as well as sports in general, when a not-100% focused fighter or team fails to bring their “A” game it is ripe to be upset.

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From Womb to Tomb, Sonny Liston’s Fate Was Seemingly Preordained

Bernard Fernandez

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In Pariah: The Lives and Deaths of Sonny Liston, a remarkable 90-minute documentary on the rise and fall of former heavyweight champion Charles “Sonny” Liston, viewers are apt to discover that any preconceived notions they might have had about the baddest man in boxing history are, by turns, both legitimate and misinformed.

No matter what fight fans think they know of Liston, it’s a fairly safe bet more opinions will be shaped by watching the Nov. 15 premiere of Pariah (9 p.m EST and PST) on Showtime. While questions about how and why Liston died remain a source of speculation, the disparate elements of his conflicted, turbulent life suggest that much of the actual truth about him, good and bad, is forever destined to be a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

Inspired by The Murder of Sonny Liston: Las Vegas, Heroin and Heavyweights, a book authored by Shaun Assael, the documentary examines the pros and cons of the oft-arrested, twice-incarcerated, mobbed-up wrecking machine who did not so much defeat opponents as to eviscerate them. Viewers – especially white people old enough to be familiar with the era in which he rose to prominence — are left to decide for themselves if Liston really was or deserved to be representative of their deepest fears, or a frequent victim of circumstance who wanted nothing more than some positive acceptance instead of the widespread loathing to which he had become accustomed.

But the journey from villain to hero is never smooth for someone with Liston’s checkered background, and especially so given the social unrest of the late 1950s and early ’60s. Hasan Jeffries, a black assistant professor of history at Ohio State University, said that Liston, a product of the Jim Crow South, was widely considered to be “America’s worst nightmare” and a “literally dangerous Negro,” someone who was “unafraid of white people as demonstrated by his consistent encounters with police.”

When he returned to his adopted hometown of Philadelphia after his title-winning, one-round blowout of popular but hopelessly outclassed champion Floyd Patterson, and discovered that there was no one at the airport to celebrate his triumph or to finally recognize him as something more than a glowering bully with a lengthy rap sheet, an increasingly bitter Liston decided that he might as well settle for being who and what the masses thought he was instead of trying to change millions of minds that had long since been made up.

Liston’s sudden embrace of his malevolent reputation reminded me of a line of dialogue from The Vikings, a 1958 movie in which a fierce Norse warrior, played by Kirk Douglas, is unable to win the affection of a captured British beauty played by Janet Leigh. “If I can’t have your love,” Douglas, as Einar, defiantly tells Leigh’s Morgana, “I’ll take your hate.”

Not that Liston, the 24th of 25 children born to an Arkansas sharecropper who was less a father than a tyrannical family overseer, ever chose to be hated. But neither was he apt to be idolized in the manner of, say, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano or the man who would ultimately succeed him upon the heavyweight throne, Muhammad Ali. Liston, who could neither read nor write, lacked the basic communication skills that might have gained him a bit more favorable press, and his personification of danger was accentuated by a withering glare that left more than a few opponents frozen with fear before the opening bell rang.

“He was a real badass, a real menacing force,” Mike Tyson, a future heavyweight champion with a similar gift for intimidation, said of Liston. “Sonny could pull it off. I could pull it off. Not a lot of people could pull it off.”

It would be a disservice to Liston, however, to say that the main weapon in his arsenal was a gift for winning staredowns. Scary as Liston was simply by standing there, he was so much more so when he began whaling away at flesh and bone as might a burly lumberjack chopping down a thin tree. Forget so-called experts’ arbitrary rankings of the hardest punchers ever to lace up a pair of padded gloves; Liston’s knockouts were spectacular for their savagery, toppled foes crashing to the canvas as if they would never again get up. He needed only 69 seconds of the first round to put a decent journeyman, Wayne Bethea, down and motionless, in the process dislodging 16 of Bethea’s teeth. Nobody in the fight game supplied oral surgeons with more patients in need of emergency treatment than Sonny Liston.

By reputation, Liston, who compiled a 50-4 record with 39 KOs from 1953 to 1970, was a huge heavyweight for his era, but he stood just 6-foot-1 and weighed in around 215 pounds during his prime. Then again, Liston’s unextraordinary height and heft were not his measurements of consequence. His 86-inch reach, those incredibly long arms extending down to massive fists the size of a catcher’s mitt, were. Liston might have had the most devastating jab ever, as accurate as Larry Holmes’, only harder. Sonny could use that jab as a range-finder when necessary, but its concussive force was such that the numbers-crunchers at CompuBox today would be obliged to categorize it as a power punch. He could knock a man down and even out with that jolting jab, and sometimes did.

“Sonny’s left jab was a nose-cracking, teeth-busting experience,” offered Randy Roberts, a boxing buff and assistant professor at Purdue University who serves as one of the documentary’s talking heads. “They said getting hit with his jab was like getting hit with a pole.”

Liston’s penchant for destruction inside the ropes, had he not come along when he did, might have made him as rich and celebrated as Tyson would become 50 years later. So why wasn’t he? Liston had so many brushes with police that fibers from their blue serge uniforms clung to him like permanent lint. Not only was he arrested 19 times and did two prison stretches, but cops in St. Louis and Philly, cities that for a time served as his home bases, tracked his movements as a meteorologist would an impending storm. Perhaps all that extra attention was justified at times, but Liston’s freedom of movement was so inhibited that he often felt as if he were somehow encased in an invisible jail.

“There was nothing they didn’t pick me up for,” Liston once complained. “If I was to go into a store for a stick of gum, they’d say it was a stick-up.”

It was to Liston’s benefit and detriment to have turned his career over to organized crime figures Frankie Carbo and Blinky Palermo, boxing manipulators who had enough clout to not only advance his career but to get him sprung earlier from prison sentences that would surely have been longer were he not a possible future heavyweight champion. The downside of the arrangement is that the Feds spent a lot of time looking into the nefarious activities of Carbo and Palermo, which meant they also had a thick dossier on Liston. It did not escape the FBI’s attention that the non-boxing “jobs” for Liston lined up by his influential backers to gain him early release were something less than fully above board.

“He’s a leg-breaker for the mob, he’s an alley-dweller,” Roberts noted. “Sonny never walked on well-lit streets. Sonny lived in darkness.”

Maybe so, but there are more than a few boxing historians who have tried to determine what made Liston tick. A case can be made that inside those shadows in which he was obliged to exist there was a better, brighter version of himself almost desperate to break out.

“I don’t think the general public ever knew the real Sonny Liston,” opined Nigel Collins, former editor of The Ring magazine. “They knew the persona, the thug-like guy who just knocked everybody out, was associated with the mob and had been in jail. He wasn’t really that. That was a front. That was what he needed to protect himself, and also to intimidate his opponent. He was a very sensitive person. He could be hurt easily.”

That description of Liston was seconded by his wife, Geraldine, who described her husband as “a good man and a kind man, and worthy of a chance to contribute to society.”

To Sonny’s way of thinking, his ticket to validation as a human being was to gain the heavyweight championship then held by Floyd Patterson, a nice guy but lesser fighter whom Roberts called the “Sidney Poitier of boxing.” It wasn’t necessarily a compliment. Patterson’s shrewd manager-trainer, Cus D’Amato, had managed to supply Patterson with a steady stream of marginally qualified and eminently beatable challengers, but D’Amato wanted no part of Liston. The first of the two title bouts between Patterson and Liston came about only because Floyd, embarrassed by the spreading public perception that he was more protected than the gold in Fort Knox, demanded that Liston be given the chance at the title he had earned with those ham hock fists.

Jerry Izenberg, the esteemed sports columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger, visited Patterson’s well-manicured rural training camp before checking in on Liston’s, which was urban, grittier and unquestionably better suited to a reformed leg-breaker on a mission.

“He’s got two chances – slim and none,” Izenberg said in recalling his impressions of Patterson’s preparations for a fight few gave him a chance to win, or even to finish in an upright position. After Izenberg got a glimpse of Liston’s laser-beam focus, he amended his original assessment. “I’m saying those two chances for Floyd, slim and none? Slim just went out the door.”

The fight, such as it was, took place on Sept. 25, 1962, at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. Custer had a better chance at the Little Bighorn than Patterson did against Sonny. The annihilation required only 2 minutes, 6 seconds to complete, whereupon the humiliated Patterson snuck out of the arena in disguise, and Liston returned to Philadelphia, foolishly expecting the hero’s welcome he believed to be his reward for all those hard years of poverty and dues-paying.

“There are people who don’t want me to be there (as champion),” Liston upon attaining the title. “Regardless of them, I intend to stay there and I promise everyone that I will be a decent, respectable champion.”

Jack McKinney, then the Philadelphia Daily News boxing writer and the only media person in town who had earned Liston’s trust, called City Hall to see if a group of dignitaries could be on hand to greet the new champ. But there was no brass band at the airport, no cheering fans, no smiling politicians to pat the not-favorite son on the back and say that all had been forgiven. Nor was the reaction to his seemingly improved lot in life any warmer elsewhere.

“I didn’t expect the President to invite me into the White House, but I sure didn’t expect to be treated like no sewer rat,” Liston grumbled.

The chip on his shoulder now the size of a log, Liston showed up for the July 22, 1963, rematch at the Las Vegas Convention Center more determined than ever to cruelly demonstrate his superiority over Patterson and any other heavyweight that might be foolish enough to share the ring with him. Like Kirk Douglas’ Einar, if he was unable to win the public’s love, he would revel in its hate. Again Patterson was destroyed in the first round, the fight a virtual replica of the original.

“The only difference,” Collins said of the do-over, “is that it lasted four seconds longer.”

No one could have known it at the time, but the second demolition of Patterson would be Liston’s only winning defense of the title he had so relentlessly sought and, many figured, would hold in a vise-grip for at least the next five years. But even before Liston left the ring, a conqueror beyond compare, an audacious young upstart entered his space and loudly berated the newly crowned champion. His name, at least at for the time being, was Cassius Clay.

“I want you! I want you! You ugly!” Clay yelled at a seemingly bemused Liston, who regarded the impudent kid as he might a Martian who had just stepped off a spaceship. But Clay kept up his campaign to force a showdown with Liston where it counted. In the weeks that followed, he repeatedly demeaned Liston in newspapers and on TV. And if those affronts weren’t enough to produce the desired effect, Clay went so far as to physically confront the man he had dubbed the “big, ugly bear” in Vegas, a mob town to which Sonny had relocated and enjoyed a level of tolerance he had been unable to find in St. Louis or Philly. Clearly Liston would have no peace of mind until he did unto this loudmouth what he had twice done unto Patterson. He was a 7-to-1 favorite to do just that when the fight took place on Feb. 25, 1964. Some media members were concerned that Liston was determined to, and quite capable of, literally beating Clay to death.

But on a night where one legend died and another was birthed, Clay fought through a tense fourth round in which an astringent that had gotten into his eyes and made it difficult for him to see. Flashing the speed of hand and foot for which he would become renowned, Clay, his vision cleared, increasingly took control of the contest until Liston, gashed below the right eye and with a large mouse under his left eye, declined to come out for the seventh round. He cited a shoulder injury as the reason he was unable to continue.

In boxing, it is one thing to lose. It is quite another for a fighter, especially a champion of Liston’s magnitude, to surrender. Author Robert Lipsyte was among those who took him to task, saying, “If you’re heavyweight champion, you die trying. But he just kind of sat there. He gave up. Why did he give up? This, of course, is the mystery at the heart of it all. Did he give up because he was in such terrible agony he couldn’t move? Did he give up because he suddenly realized he couldn’t win this fight? Did he give up because he’d been paid to dump it? Who knows?”

But the plot, as the saying goes, soon thickened. Cassius Clay announced the following day that he was a member of the Nation of Islam, more commonly known as the Black Muslims, and now wanted to be known as Cassius X, a stopover on the way to a more permanent identification as Muhammad Ali. It was as if he had become the bad guy, at least to a segment of the American populace, with the disgraced Liston now viewed as the possible savior and re-capturer of a championship that had fallen into presumably radical hands. The rematch was to take place on June 25, 1965, in Lewiston, Maine, a sleepy outpost (the town was mostly known for its factory that manufactured bedspreads) near the Canadian border which stepped up when Boston, the originally announced site, bailed.

“Liston got more cheers than Ali,” recalled journalist Don Majeski of the fighters’ respective ring walks. “They finally said, `Well, between these two, the lesser of the two evils is Sonny Liston,’ so we’ll cheer this ex-convict who lost his title on his stool rather than to root for a guy who says he’s a Black Muslim separatist. (Liston) enjoyed that. He sort of basked in that kind of glory for the first time in his life.”

Or he did, for a fleeting moment.

“But then what happened was the Kennedy assassination of boxing,” Majeski continued. “Everyone has an idea, but nobody knows the truth.”

What happened was that Ali landed (or missed) with a flicking right hand in the first round that sent Liston careening to the canvas, where he floundered around like a reeled-in fish tossed onto the bottom of a bass boat. To this day there are those who are convinced that Liston, for reasons unknown, took a dive, an argument countered by Ali loyalists who insist that the punch was legitimate and powerful enough to fell even a big, ugly bear.

Assael straddles no fences on the issue. His position is that Liston purposefully went into the tank.

“Why fix the fight?” Assael asks, rhetorically. “That’s where the secret percentage theory comes in, which is that Sonny had agreed to an under-the-table deal to get a cut of Ali’s future earnings if he went down. It’s exactly what a mobster would have done, and it’s exactly what I think Sonny did do.”

In any case, Liston – whom former fight fixer Charles Farrell insists was “the greatest heavyweight who ever lived … a bonafide monster” – had taken a downward turn from which there could be no recovery. He would fight 16 more times over the next five years, winning 15, but he was, as the documentary’s title attests, a pariah.

“After the second fight (with Ali), Sonny’s a dead man,” Assael said. “He’s not only just reviled, he can’t even get a job. Boxing commissions won’t license him … Sonny was toxic. I mean, really radioactive.”

The mystery of Sonny Liston took an even more tragic turn when his decomposing body was discovered at his Las Vegas home on Jan. 5, 1971. An autopsy indicated his death might have owed to an overdose of heroin, which those who knew him well insist could not have been the case because Liston was almost paranoid in his fear of being stuck by a needle.

“The medical examiner called it natural causes, but nobody around Sonny believed that,” Assael said. “Everybody believed he was murdered. So many people wanted Sonny dead. The only question was, who got to him first?”

Larry Gandy, a Vegas cop, was among those who saw the body. “It didn’t even look like Liston, he’d been dead for so long,” Gandy said. “He’d been dead four or five days. He was bloated, full of methane gas. It really made me sick to my stomach because he’d been such a predominant figure in the sports world. It was a terrible, disrespectful way for him to go.”

Gandy’s expression of compassion might or might not be genuine since the documentary hints at the possibility of his having some measure of culpability in Liston’s demise, in mob retaliation for Liston’s final fight, on June 29, 1970, in which he defeated Chuck “The Bayonne Bleeder” Wepner on a ninth-round stoppage brought about by numerous and severe cuts to Wepner’s well-sutured face.

“Liston was not brought into that fight to win,” said Farrell. “I believe the Wepner fight was a deal that went terribly, terribly wrong.

“As the rounds went by, Liston couldn’t find a place to fall, Wepner’s increasingly beat up and eventually the fight gets stopped because of the cuts. Liston won the fight. It’s a series of miscommunications where nobody does exactly what they’re supposed to do. The mob lost a lot of money and there were dire circumstances.”

In the end, all that is left of Sonny Liston is a headstone in a Las Vegas cemetery and a raft of recriminations and might-have-beens. For every boxing historian who includes him among the greatest and most fearsome heavyweight champions of all time, there is another who sees only the warts and blemishes of perceived transgressions committed both inside and outside the ring. The International Boxing Hall of Fame seemingly leans more toward the former, as evidenced by Liston’s 1991 induction.

“You can always make a case for someone’s exclusion,” Bert Randolph Sugar, then the publisher of Boxing Illustrated, told me for a story I did on Liston’s posthumous enshrinement by the IBHOF. “It depends on how moralistic you want to be. But remember, this is boxing we’re talking about.”

Upon reflection, it is somewhat curious that Ali, who generated so much fear and mistrust for the rematch with Liston in Lewiston, and for some time thereafter, evolved into such a sympathetic and beloved figure, widely acknowledged as the GOAT (Greatest of All Time). Also, upon reflection you have to wonder how the career paths of he and Liston would have proceeded had a semi-blinded Ali’s demand that trainer Angelo Dundee cut off his gloves before the fifth round of his first fight with Liston been granted.

What is indisputable is that boxing, so rich in stories about great and flawed fighting men, needs more documentaries of this quality that peer behind the curtain of what fans only see on fight night, giving insight into the whole person. Then again, how many prospective subjects are capable of taking viewers on the kind of roller-coaster ride that Sonny Liston’s tumultuous journey did?

“There was one thing that Sonny was better at than boxing, and that was compartmentalizing himself,” Assael said. “He could be a loving husband, he could be a womanizer, he could be a criminal, he could be a boxer. That’s what he was a master at – boxing and being able to lead so many different lives. There were so many men inside that one man.”

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Weekend Recap: Hits and Misses

Kelsey McCarson

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Weekend Recap: Hits and Misses

Boxing is a global sport and multi-faceted entertainment spectacle.

There were a wide variety of cards over the weekend displaying those properties with everything ranging from an important title fight for a pound-for-pound superstar against a formerly elite champion hoping for one more big win, to a new titleholder attempting his first defense against a highly regarded prospect, with even a fight between two YouTube celebrities thrown in the mix for good measure. 

Here are boxing’s biggest hits and misses from a weekend that began on Friday in Japan (Thursday in the U.S.)  with Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire and ended on Saturday with Jamel Herring vs. Lamont Roach Jr. in Fresno and KSI vs. Logan Paul in Los Angeles. 

HIT: Huge Win for Boxing’s Little Monster 

Naoya Inoue suffered two fractures to one eye socket during a grueling World Boxing Super Series-winning performance against Nonito Donaire in Saitama, Japan. Inoue defeated a resurgent Donaire by unanimous decision in one of the best fights of the entire year. The 26-year-old captured the WBA bantamweight belt to go along with the IBF and The Ring magazine titles he already carried into the fight. 

More importantly, Inoue was finally tested against a quality opponent who appeared to have a real chance to win the fight. But Inoue’s sharp jabs, solid footwork and amazing athletic skill combined with some old-fashioned championship guile to produce the single most important win in Inoue’s already impressive career. 

After the fight, Inoue signed a multi-fight deal with Top Rank. That means his star power is finally about to be fully unleashed in the U.S. and while that’s a huge win for the Japanese dynamo, its also a pretty big win for us, too. 

MISS: Shocking Purse Size Disparity Between Saturday’s Main Event Participants 

Logan Paul and KSI each made $900,000 in their professional debuts on Saturday night in Los Angeles. Jamel Herring only made $300,000 for his title defense against Lamont Roach who made $100,000.

Something just seems off about that.

It’s not that I don’t understand the economics. The reason why the two You Tubers were able to make so much money in their professional debuts was because of their star power. More global interest plus more ticket sales in a big venue equals more money for the combatants. 

It just seems wrong that they would make three times as much money as Herring, a former Marine who won his first world title against Masayuki Ito in May and defended it on Saturday night against Roach Jr. on ESPN+. 

HIT: The Shrewd Gambit of BJ Saunders and Devin Haney

WBO super middleweight titleholder BJ Saunders and secondary WBC belt holder Devin Haney both swallowed their pride to appear on the undercard of the Logan Paul vs. KSI card. Here were two elite professional fighters with real boxing fan bases choosing to play second-fiddle to a couple of guys who were the main event for the sole reason that they had millions of subscribers on YouTube. 

But it seems shrewd for both Saunders and Haney to have taken the risk. Nobody knows how much good it might do for their careers or how many people from that much younger and very different audience might have discovered an attraction to the sweet science buried within them that night for the first time. Still, Saunders and Haney gave themselves chances to find new fans from a world that otherwise might never have even known they existed. That’s something. 

Besides, they got paid well and were able to grab wins that will move their careers forward no matter how everything else works out. It was a savvy move that other fighters might have been too proud to make. 

MISS: Bad Night on a Big Stage for Referee Jack Reiss

Referee Jack Reiss is one of the best at what he does, but he didn’t have a great night in officiating KSI’s split-decision win over Logan Paul. In fact, it seemed from the start that he was over-involved and constantly making his mark in a fight that should have been left to the two fighters. 

During the third round, KSI landed a blow behind Paul’s ear that probably should have been scored a knockdown. Riess ruled it a slip.  In round four, Paul landed an uppercut that hurt KSI badly, then the novice held KSI behind the head to land another one as his opponent was going down to the mat. Reiss took two points away from Paul, something deemed overly punitive by many who watched the fight. 

In the end, two scorecards were in KSI’s favor 57-54, 56-55 with one for Paul at 56-55 so Reiss’s rulings seemed to be crucial to the outcome of the fight. Boxing results should always be left to the fighters to solve, even for two celebrity newcomers to the sport. 

HIT: Jamel Herring’s Veterans Day Weekend Title Defense

Could there have been any better weekend to pit Herring against Roach Jr.? 

Herring, 34, from Rockville Centre, New York, qualified for the 2012 Olympics in London while being an active-duty Marine. The fighter served his country nine years as a soldier including two tours in Iraq. After competing in the Olympics, he began his professional career. 

To most eyes, Herring appeared at the time to be a hard worker who probably didn’t have what it took to become a world champion. In fact, boxing writer Cliff Rold shared on Twitter recently that he had tabbed Herring in an article he wrote as one of the less likely members of the 2012 team to excel as a professional and that Herring had emailed him after reading it to tell him he was wrong. 

Herring’s grand entrance included being escorted to the ring by two Humvees and 300 Marines. He went on to outwork Roach over twelve rounds to further solidify why never doubting a Marine is some pretty good advice. 

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3 Punch Combo: Under The Radar Fights, Elton Dharry’s Improbable Journey and More

Matt Andrzejewski

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Pablo Cesar Cano vs. Roberto Ortiz, Alberto Palmetta vs. Erik Vega Ortiz, and the Improbable Journey of Elton Dharry

THREE PUNCH COMBO — There is no preeminent fight this week, but there is still a lot of boxing that will be broadcast on various platforms. Some very good fights are falling under the radar including one that should be an all-out slugfest.

On Saturday night, the latest edition of Golden Boy Fight Night on Facebook Watch will be streamed from Mexico. The card is headlined by two entertaining 140-pound brawlers in Pablo Cesar Cano (32-7-1, 22 KO’s) and Roberto Ortiz (35-4-2, 26 KO’s) who will meet in a bout scheduled for ten rounds.

Cano, 30, has been a pro now for over 14 years. After back to back losses in 2017 to Fidel Maldonado Jr. and Marcelino Lopez, Cano’s career seemed to be headed toward permanent journeyman status. However, he recently revived his career with a pair of upset wins.

In September of 2018, he scored a technical decision over the previously undefeated Ruslan Madiyev. And earlier this year, Cano pulled a stunner when he stopped former three division champion Jorge Linares in the first round. Those wins put Cano back in contention at 140 pounds where he is currently ranked sixth by the WBC.

Ortiz has a glossy record but he is 0-3-1 in his last four fights and is now in a similar place in his career to where Cano was in 2017. At 34, Ortiz finds himself in desperate need of a win over Cano to regain any hope of one day fighting for a world title.

Stylistically, these fighters are perfectly matched to make for an entertaining scrap. Both are pressure fighters who aren’t afraid to mix it up. And they each are more than willing to absorb a few punches just to create the opportunity to land their own shots.

There is something else to keep in mind about this fight. While both fighters have been stopped on multiple occasions, they don’t necessarily have the weakest of chins.

In the case of Ortiz, he suffered his knockout losses to three very big knockout punchers (Lucas Matthysse, Cletus Seldin and Vergil Ortiz Jr.). In the case of Cano, his stoppage losses have mostly come due to cuts and/or swelling around his eyes.

And it should also be noted that while both fighters are heavy handed punchers, neither would be considered to have one punch knockout power.

The above is my way of saying that we have two brawlers who like to slug it out with better chins than they are given credit for and who don’t possess that one punch power to suddenly end a fight. This can’t be anything but an extended all-out shoot-out.

ShoBox Returns

The acclaimed prospect-oriented series ShoBox returns on Friday from the WinnaVegas Casino & Resort in Sloan, IA. Consistent with the history of this series, the six fighters in the televised tripleheader have a combined record of 65-1. The main event is an intriguing welterweight clash between Alberto Palmetta (12-1, 8 KO’s) of Argentina and Erik Vega Ortiz (16-0, 9 KO’s) of Mexico.

Palmetta, 29, had a long and distinguished amateur career that culminated with him representing Argentina at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. Co-promoted by Sergio Martinez of Maravillabox Promotions and Sampson Boxing, this is his fifth appearance on US soil, but his first as a headliner in a nationally televised card.

Palmetta is very athletic and his overall game is multifaceted. I would even go as far as describing him as a poor man’s Sergio Martinez. Fighting as a southpaw, Palmetta mixes his attack, sometimes working behind the right jab using his legs and in other spots attacking aggressively from various angles. The amateur experience shows in his overall game as his footwork is superb and his movement is very fluid. He possesses very fast hands and what can best be described as heavy-handed power.

For all that appears to be good about Palmetta’s game, there are some weaknesses. He has a bad tendency of holding his right hand low and as such is vulnerable to getting clipped with his opponent’s left hook. And he does have an early knockout loss on his resume. Was that an aberration or are there issues with his chin?

There is not a lot known about Vega Ortiz. There’s very limited video of him available online. The press release for this fight says that Vega Ortiz possesses “an all-out pressure style similar to many of his fellow countrymen of Mexico,” but the limited video I was able to see differs greatly from that description.

Vega Ortiz appears to be a natural counter puncher. He is not aggressive but likes to work behind the left jab, circling his opponents, waiting for counter opportunities. When those opportunities arise, he will open up and throw combinations. But he is also more than content to wait for those moments and work cautiously behind the jab.

Vega Ortiz is not that athletic nor does he possess quick hands or devastating power. But he has decent skills and defensively keeps a tight guard with good head movement.

I like this fight because I think Vega Ortiz could present an interesting puzzle for Palmetta to solve. Will it be a slugfest? Probably not, but I think it will have its moments. Palmetta will look to lead and try to find openings through the tight guard of Vega Ortiz. And when Palmetta does open up, Vega Ortiz will look to counter, particularly with the left hook upstairs. On paper, it’s a classic competitive ShoBox fight that should provide good action.

The Improbable Journey of Elton Dharry

On September 11th, 2009, Elton Dharry dropped a four-round unanimous decision to Isander Beauchamp on a small show in Plymouth, Mass. The loss dropped Dharry’s record to 3-5-1.

Ten years and 21 straight wins later, Dharry finds himself in a position that once seemed improbable. On Friday, he will face off against 20-0 Andrew Moloney for an interim title belt in the 115-pound weight division. The contest will take place in Moloney’s home country of Australia and be broadcast in the United States on ESPN+.

Dharry’s career trajectory is starting to look relatively similar to that of Tevin Farmer and Orlando Salido. Similar to those two, Dharry received some tough on-the-job training in the early portion of his career. In his sixth pro fight, for example, he dropped a four-round unanimous decision to future three division title-holder Leo Santa Cruz.

Thinks started to click for Dharry following his loss to Beauchamp. He pulled a few mild upsets along the way and with the exception of a period in 2017 has stayed relatively active. In his two most recent outings, he scored his best wins. In May of 2018, he scored a ten round unanimous decision against Oscar Mojica. And earlier this year, Dharry won a ten round unanimous decision against Gilberto Pedroza to set up this opportunity against Moloney.

From the video I have seen, I don’t think Elton Dharry should be considered such a substantial underdog. Dharry likes to apply pressure working behind an excellent well-timed left jab from the orthodox stance. He throws fluid, heavy handed combinations and makes a point to work his opponent’s body. And defensively, he does keep a tight guard with very good head movement.

Moloney, who is more athletic, is going to try to box Dharry. But Dharry’s pressure and body punching could be a major factor as this fight progresses. Keep in mind we have not seen Moloney in a fight where he has been substantially pushed down the stretch.

Make no mistake about it, Dharry can fight and it’s not out of the question to think he may continue his improbable journey with an upset on Friday in Australia.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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