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The Avila Perspective, Chap. 45: Looking Back at Danny Roman, Vegas Notes and More

David A. Avila

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Danny Roman

Traffic congestion in Los Angeles rates among the worst in the world. Yet, those who struggled through murderous traffic to see last week’s fight card on a late Friday afternoon were rewarded with the top boxing card this year.

It was a thriller.

Except for one dud, the entire Forum fight card showcased enough action to make frustrated drivers forget the crunching L.A. traffic nightmares to get to Inglewood. One major drawback was the $30 parking cost. What the..?

But the multiple championship fights, especially the super bantamweight and super flyweight world title fights, were blazing.

The L.A. area finally has another local hero in Danny “The Baby Face Assassin” Roman. His super bantamweight world title unification match with Ireland’s TJ Doheny probably woke up the ghosts of past champions who fought there.

First, anytime you match a Mexican against an Irishman you are going to get the real deal. I’m sure the late Don Chargin was watching from above and smiling at the matchup. In his days at the Olympic Auditorium he would often pit Irish fighters like Frankie Crawford and Art Hafey against Mexican pugilists such as Bobby Chacon and Ruben Olivares. They were guaranteed to light up the arena.

Roman (on the left) and Doheny did not disappoint. It was like watching the Academy Awards for prizefighting and these two 122-pounders delivered every ounce of guts into their performance. It was perfectly amazing.

It’s what fans truly want. They want to be amazed and inspired and they got it from Doheny who rose from two knockdowns and from Roman who was reeling from those rocket lefts delivered from the Irish fighter. This was prizefighting at its best.

The Matchroom Boxing card assisted by Thompson Boxing Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions put their heads together and amassed one of the most thrilling fight shows I’ve seen in years.

Believe me. The several thousand fight fans that tortured themselves driving across town to watch this card will do it again and bring their friends. And those fans watching on DAZN, more than got their money’s worth.

So what’s next?

Las Vegas

The once boxing capital of the world has been relegated to two big weekends a year now. Some blame the Nevada State Athletic Commission for making it difficult to stage big fights and others blame the promoters who refuse to match their top fighters against each other.

Cinco de Mayo weekend remains a big time of the year for boxing and here comes Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs in a middleweight unification match at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday May 4.

Unification is in the air and that’s a good thing for boxing fans.

Nobody wants multiple world champions in the same weight class. Fans can’t remember the true champion nowadays and that’s a bad thing. Imagine baseball fans not knowing who won the World Series.

“Every single one of my fights is important. Every single fight marks history for me. It’s another check. (Jacobs) is the second best middleweight in the world, so it’s another step in that direction, to keep writing my history,” said Alvarez.

Canelo has risen to the top of the boxing world but it’s a tenuous hold. In Mexico he’s loved and hated simultaneously and that spells big numbers in viewership. Jacobs has a decent following but nothing compared to Canelo. Can he attract viewers to DAZN’s fan base remains the big question.

“It’s the biggest fight that can be made, especially at the middleweight division. I’m looking forward to displaying great skill Saturday night and I’m looking forward to being victorious,” said Jacobs.

One other intriguing match on Saturday’s T-Mobile card features young power-hitter Vergil Ortiz facing veteran Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera in a super lightweight clash set for 10 rounds. Both fighters train in different parts of Riverside, Calif. which has become boxing central for the area known as the Inland Empire which is east of Los Angeles County.

It’s new school versus old school once again.

Ortiz (12-0, 12 KOs) has never won by decision. All of his previous foes have been stopped before the final round. He’s 12 for 12 when it comes to knockouts. The lean tall Texan trains with Robert Garcia in the hills of Riverside. He has power in both fists and stamina to boot. If he wore a black hat he would be the villain, but in actuality he’s a nice kid with musical talent. He plays a mean guitar when not busting heads.

“I’m definitely one of the hardest workers in boxing, and May 4, it’s going to show. I’m not going to get tired. I’m going to show that I can go even more rounds,” said Ortiz about fighting a veteran like Herrera.

Herrera (24-8) trains in other Riverside hills nearby and has been fighting world champions since his third year as a professional. Despite fighting world beaters like “Mighty Mike” Anchondo, Ruslan Provodnikov, Mike Alvarado and Danny “Swift” Garcia, he has never been stopped. Most experts swear he defeated Garcia back in March 2014 in Puerto Rico and should have been wearing those world title belts. It’s one of the most egregious decisions ever rendered. They don’t call Herrera “El Maestro” for nothing. He’s slick, smart and tough as they come.

“It doesn’t mean nothing, it doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t care what he does. It’s what I’m going to do. I don’t care about his record,” said Herrera, 38. “I just want to go out there and give it my best and give a good fight to the crowd and come out with a win.”

Last weekend a similar matchup in women’s prizefighting took place with undefeated Selina Barrios losing to veteran fighter Melissa Hernandez. Will history repeat again this week?

It should be a very interesting match between Ortiz and Herrera.

Hard Rock Hotel

Golden Boy Promotions has a boxing card featuring mostly middleweights at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Thursday May 2. Doors open at 2 p.m.

Canada’s Steven Butler (26-1-1) meets Vitalii Kopylenko (28-1) of Ukraine in a middleweight clash set for 10 rounds on the main event.

Butler, 23, fights out of Montreal and needs a win to move up the ladder to contention. Kopylenko, 35, trains in Oxnard and needs a win to stay relevant in the prizefighting world. Something has got to give.

Also on the fight card is local fighter Francisco Esparza (9-0-1) in a 10-round featherweight fight with Aram Avagyan (8-0-1) for the WBC Silver title. It’s Avagyan’s first fight outside of Russia.

Stockton

An IBF super flyweight world title fight between champion Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2) of the Philippines and Japan’s Ryuichi Funai (31-7) will be held Saturday May 4, at the Stockton Arena in Stockton, California. The Top Rank fight card will be streamed on ESPN+.

Ancajas, 27, a southpaw, fought to a draw in his last fight against Alejandro Barrios at the Oracle Arena in Oakland last September. Funai, 33, is getting his first shot at a world title and is fighting for the first time outside of Japan. It should be interesting.

Battles between the Philippines and Japan are always pretty intense.

Fallen Fighter

Izaac Colunga, 25, is still recovering from a gunshot wound incurred more than a month ago while at a party in Riverside, Calif. The tragedy took place on March 3. The super featherweight prospect was attending a party and sitting inside a home when someone riding outside in a car shot into the house where people were gathered. Colunga was hit by the gunfire and immediately taken to a nearby hospital. Currently he is in a rehabilitation center in Colorado. He just had his birthday yesterday on April 30.

Colunga was part of famed trainer Robert Garcia’s team and had recently fought in San Bernardino on Mikey Garcia’s first boxing card. He won by first round knockout. Now the Colunga family seeks helps with his hospital costs. A Go Fund Me page has been created for those wishing to contribute: https://www.gofundme.com/team-colunga

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Avila Perspective, Chap 111: Munguia, Tank and The Monster

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap 111: Munguia, Tank and The Monster

Here come some more hardcore fights.

As the end of the year approaches contracts must be honored. That’s a good thing for fight fans even during a pandemic.

Golden Boy Promotions brings a loaded fight card led by Mexican swing-from-the-heels fighter Jaime Munguia (35-0, 28 KOs) moving into the middleweight division against Tureano Johnson (21-2-1, 15 KOs) at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. DAZN will stream the Friday night fight card on Oct. 30.

Munguia (pictured opposite Johnson) just recently turned 24 years old; a couple of weeks ago. The former super welterweight world titlist out of Tijuana grew out of the division and now is mentored by boxing great Erik “El Terrible” Morales. No more swinging at anything that moves. Now it’s technical savagery.

Johnson, 36, hasn’t fought in over a year but in that last fight he knocked off Ireland’s undefeated Jason Quigley. That was not supposed to happen. The Bahamian native only has two losses and those were stoppages in the last round by Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Curtis Stevens. He has the technique, but does he have the chin?

Another savage battle involves welterweights.

New England’s Rashidi “Speedy” Ellis (22-0, 14 KOs) faces Orange County’s Alexis Rocha (16-0, 10 KOs) a hard-hitting southpaw in a showdown set for 12 rounds. Will it go that long?

Both have power and I doubt the fight goes beyond seven rounds. Both have ended fights in the opening rounds before. If someone blinks at the wrong time it could be over quickly.

Others on the card including super featherweight contender Lamont Roach and super middleweight prospect Bektemir Melikuziev. Also, female contenders Sulem Urbina and Marlen Esparza square off. Opening bout begins at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Crazy Saturday

A Matchroom Boxing fight card stemming from England showcases a Southern California-based world champion Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) meeting Dereck Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs) in the heavyweight main event.

Usyk, now 33, just recently conquered the cruiserweight division and was undisputed world champion and now deigns to move up in weight where the money is much better fighting the big boys. He’s a speedy Ukrainian southpaw who uses plenty of movement and has shocking power when he sets his feet.

Chisora, 36, has fought all of the top European heavyweights including another Ukrainian heavyweight named Vitali Klitschko. Though it hasn’t always been violets and roses for Chisora, he does pack a wallop and if he catches Usyk it could be all over. But his feet are made of stone and he will have problems moving in rhythm with the fleet-footed Usyk.

A co-main event features lightweight contenders Lee Selby (28-2, 9 KOs) pitted against George Kambosos Jr. (18-0, 10 KOs) in a Great Britain versus Australia battle.

Two female bouts with extra power are also on the card as Savannah Marshall (8-0) battles Hannah Rankin (9-4) for the vacant WBO middleweight title; and Amy Timlin (4-0) meets Carly Skelly (3-0) in a battle of undefeated super bantamweights.

The fight card will be streamed on DAZN at 11 a.m. Pacific Time.

Showtime

World champions collide with three-division world champion Leo Santa Cruz daring to move up yet another weight division and challenge the ultimate danger in super featherweight and lightweight world titlist Gervonta “Tank” Davis for his titles.

Danger is written all over this Showtime pay-per-view card on Saturday Oct. 31.

Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) has yet to be truly challenged by anyone. Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) has always been a risk taker and could be going way over his limit against Tank.

“I’m facing the best fighter in the division. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. I have to go against the best fighter,” said Santa Cruz. “I wanted to challenge myself. I know this is a dangerous fight for me, but I want to test myself.”

If Santa Cruz is still standing after 12 rounds then a big salute to him. Davis won’t allow that to happen. He’s not a guy who looks to win by decision. Tank looks to knock opponents unconscious so he can take pictures of them asleep.

“I don’t think I have to knock him out, I just have to go out there and be great. Forget everything else, I just have to go out there and show everyone that I’m the top guy in the boxing world. That’s my main goal,” said Davis.

Right.

It’s not the only good fight on the card.

Mario Barrios (25-0, 16 KOs) defends the WBA super lightweight title against Ryan Karl (18-2) in the co-main event.

Also, on the same card Regis Prograis (24-1, 20 KOs) meets Juan Heraldez (16-0-1, 10KOs) in a super lightweight matchup. Whoever wins will probably meet Barrios for his title soon after. That’s if Barrios beats Karl.

It’s a boxing card that could see the end of the line for one or two of the fighters.

Monster and Mayer

Japan’s Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) defends the WBA and IBF bantamweight world titles against Australia’s Jason Moloney (21-1, 18 KOs) at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas on Saturday October 31. It will be his Las Vegas debut and will be televised on ESPN+.

Inoue will be a big favorite and how can you blame odds makers when Moloney’s only loss was to Emmanuel Rodriguez who was blown out by the Monster?

But you never know.

“There are a lot of expectations, and I want to meet those expectations. I take those big expectations, and I use them as motivation and power to keep getting better with every fight,” said Inoue.

Inoue’s last fight nearly a year ago was an epic clash against Nonito Donaire in a classic battle that saw both deliver bombs and take them in a 12-round fight that ended in a close but unanimous victory for the Japanese star.

Boy was it close.

Until the 11th round it was nip and tuck as Donaire proved why he is destined to be a surefire Hall of Fame inductee when he retires.

Both punished each other and during their confrontation it was evident that Inoue does indeed have a solid chin. One big question will be if Inoue took too much punishment and can he handle a rough customer like Moloney.

“Every fighter should want to fight the best. That’s why we’re in this sport. My dream and my goal is to be the best bantamweight in the world, and the only way to make that happen is to beat Inoue,” said Moloney.

It should be an interesting match.

Also, female American Olympian Mikaela Mayer (13-0) challenges Poland’s Ewa Brodnicka (19-0) for the WBO super featherweight world title. Expect no quarter given by Mayer who has been gunning for a title challenge for the past two years with most of the titleholders in Europe ignoring her.

Brodnicka expects a tough fight.

“I have a lot of things against me. But I’m ready. I don’t care if she says that she doesn’t respect me. She makes a lot of mistakes, and I’m going to take advantage of all of them,” Brodnicka said.

Mayer is not in a good mood.

“I have been calling out the champs for a while. It’s been something I feel like I’ve been ready for a few fights, but now in hindsight looking back, I think everything worked out perfectly. Like Bob Arum said, I’ve had some really great fights, and I’ve really been able to settle in to my pro style. I’m more ready than ever to take on these world champions. I feel like I’m the best in this division,” said Mayer.

Sunday

A Sunday afternoon boxing card by Thompson Boxing Promotions takes place at the Omega Products International in Corona, CA but will not include fans.

Undefeated lightweights Mike Sanchez (6-0-1, 2 KOs) faces Israel Mercado (8-0, 7 KOs) in the main event on Sunday Nov. 1. It will stream on Thompson Boxing Promotions web page and also on its Facebook page beginning at 4 p.m. PT.

Go to this link to watch the fight card: www.thompsonboxing.com

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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Usyk vs. Chisora Sets the Table for a Strong Night of Boxing

Arne K. Lang

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It’s been largely lost in the ragout, at least on this side of the pond, but Saturday’s busy fight docket includes the return of Oleksandr Usyk, the former Olympic gold medalist who left the cruiserweight ranks as a legitimate four-belt champion. The 33-year-old Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs), opposes tough but erratic Dereck Chisora, a 36-year old Londoner by way of Zimbabwe. Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs), has won five of his last six, the setback occurring in his second encounter with arch-rival Dillian Whyte.

Usyk vs. Chisora, a Matchroom promotion, will play out at Wembley Arena with no fans in attendance. The Ukrainian southpaw is ranked among the top three heavyweight contenders by all four major sanctioning bodies although he has fought only once as a heavyweight, turning away under-trained late sub Chazz Witherspoon who was all in after seven frames. Usyk weighed 215 for that contest and is expected to come in about 230 for Chisora.

Usyk, who has anglicized his first name to Alexander on his English-language twitter feed, is a big favorite, but this is a tricky fight for him. The consensus 2018 Fighter of the Year, Usyk has fought only twice since unifying the cruiserweight title with a lopsided decision over Murat Gassiev in July of that year and 55 weeks have elapsed since his last start. If he needs the early rounds to shake off ring rust, he could find himself clawing out of a hole, and sometimes the hole is too deep as Usyk’s stablemate Vasiliy Lomachenko can attest. Moreover, Usyk has yet to face a naturally bigger man who can bang as hard as “Del Boy.”

The Usyk-Chisora card will air in North America on DAZN with the main event ring walks anticipated about 6 pm ET.

The tiff is hitched to an interesting undercard. Once-beaten Welshman Lee Selby, briefly the IBF featherweight champion, tangles with Australia’s undefeated (18-0) George Kambosos Jr. Savannah Marshall, who saddled Claressa Shields with her only amateur loss, meets former Shields opponent Hannah Rankin with a vacant world middleweight title at stake, Belfast’s Tommy McCarthy opposes Belgium’s Bilal Laggoune for a domestic cruiserweight title, and then there’s the heavyweight fight attracting buzz between popular Yorkshireman David Allen and Christopher Lovejoy.

The buzz surrounds the mysterious 36-year-old Lovejoy who is 19-0 as a pro with all but two of those KOs coming in the opening round.

All of Lovejoy’s fights were staged in Tijuana. Only one of his opponents brought a winning record. For a certain stripe of fighter, Tijuana is the equivalent of a feed lot, a place where livestock go to get fattened up before they are sent off to the slaughterhouse. David Allen is limited, but the most likely scenario in this fight is that it ends with Lovejoy sitting on his stool.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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Diego Magdaleno is Locked and Loaded for Saturday’s Fray in San Antonio

Arne K. Lang

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Diego Armando Magdaleno, the son of a former semi-pro soccer player, was named for Argentine soccer star Diego Armando Maradona. But Diego’s father Jesus is hardly disappointed that his son devoted his energies to a different sport than soccer as Diego, the oldest of Jesus’s three boys, has carved out a nice career as a boxer. On Saturday, he faces Isaac Cruz at the San Antonio Alamodome and a win could thrust him into a third crack at a world lightweight title. Magdaleno vs. Cruz will be televised as part of a SHOWTIME PPV event anchored by a battle between title-holders Gervonta “Tank” Davis and Leo Santa Cruz.

The bookies don’t know what to do with the Magdaleno-Cruz matchup. One can find odds on fights of lesser importance, but with the fight only four days away the pricemakers were in quandary. Team Magdaleno, however, is approaching the fight as if they are the “B” side. Mexico City’s Isaac Cruz, who boasts a 19-1-1 record and is undefeated in his last 15 starts, has a fan-friendly style and is only 22 years old. In theory, he has more value to the promoter going forward than Magdaleno (32-3, 13 KOs) who turns 34 this week.

Magdaleno relishes the underdog role. He was the “B” side in his most recent fight when he opposed Austin Dulay in Dulay’s hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, and he carved out a clear-cut 10-round decision. Dulay, the younger man by nine years and less experienced at the pro level, was in over his head. Their fight was nationally televised on FOX.

Diego Magdaleno was born in Beverly Hills, California, but unlike many folks born there wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. “We were more like the Beverly Hillbillies,” says Diego, a reference to the popular sitcom that ran on CBS from 1962 to 1971.

For many years, Diego’s father, an immigrant from Sahuayo in the Mexican state of Michoacan, worked at the flagship West LA branch of an iconic Greater Los Angeles hamburger chain. Diego’s parents now manage a 7-11 in Las Vegas.

When Magdaleno first laced on the gloves it was at the Brooklyn Avenue boxing gym in the gritty Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, the same gym where Oscar De La Hoya trained for the Olympic Trials. He continued with the sport after his family – he has three older sisters – moved to Las Vegas.

Diego influenced both of his younger brothers to become boxers. Jessie Magdaleno surpassed him in name recognition when he upset Nonito Nonaire in November of 2016, earning him the WBO world super bantamweight title. Jessie lost the belt in his second defense, succumbing to Isaac Dogboe, but has won three straight since that mishap, advancing his record to 28-1. The youngest Magdaleno brother, Marco, was 4-0 as a pro when he abandoned the sport, having secured a job with good pay and benefits in the construction field.

Diego has applied some of his ring earnings toward a real estate investment in Scipio, Utah, where he owns a parcel of land adjacent to a pioneer home. Scipio is a four-hour drive from Las Vegas and figuratively a million miles away. What does one do for fun in Scipio, pop. 288? The first thing that popped up in our internet search was to go grab a sandwich at the Burger Barn.

There’s a back story there. The pioneer home, built in 1886, was recently purchased by Diego’s fiancée Shannon Torres, a descendent of one of Scipio’s founding families. She and Diego are restoring it. Diego professes to be amazed at the craftsmanship. “When we pulled up the carpets,” he said, “the original hardwood floors were still in great condition.”

Shannon Torres has a boxing background, having fought as an amateur and having sparred with the likes of Mia St. John. She is also a nutritionist. Diego confesses to having a sweet tooth, being fond of cheesecake and anything with peanut butter. “She knows how to make those things for me so they are not as unhealthy,” he says.

Magdaleno’s first loss came in April of 2013 when he lost a split decision to Ramon Martinez in Macau. Diego thought he won the fight, but only one of the judges concurred. At stake was Martinez’s WBO 130-pound world title. His second world title opportunity came against WBO lightweight champ Terry Flanagan on Flanagan’s turf in Manchester, England. That didn’t go well.

“When I got in the ring, it felt like there was sand under my shoes,” said Diego. “My right foot was sliding underneath me. I overcompensated and that caused me trouble.” Magdaleno loaded up on his punches, a fatal mistake, and was knocked out in the second round.

Top Rank dropped Magdaleno after that fight but would eventually bring him back to fight their rising star Teofimo Lopez. His fight with Austin Dulay was his first fight back after his loss to Lopez (TKO by 7) and his first with new trainer Bones Adams (pictured on the left) in his corner.

Mag

Isaac Cruz poses a different threat than Dulay partly because Cruz, who stands only 5’4 ½”, is a lot shorter. But Magdaleno is confident the result will be the same.

“His style is attack, attack, attack; it’s one-dimensional,” says Diego. “I have been in there and done things that this kid has never seen. I am a big step up for him.”

Unlike many prizefighters, Diego Magdaleno knows where he is heading after his career is finished; he is already a licensed real estate salesman with one listing to his credit. He’s bi-lingual despite having spent only three months living in Mexico, that as a first-grader, and his linguistic versatility will come in handy in his second career. “I know just enough Spanish to get by,” he says, but having heard him speak in his parents’ native tongue we can attest that he’s being much too modest.

For the time being, however, Diego isn’t looking past Saturday night. Magdaleno vs. Cruz is expected to go first on the four-fight PPV portion of the card which kicks off at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.

Magdaleno/Dulay photo credit: Stephanie Trapp

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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