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Canelo Wins Strategic Battle Over Daniel Jacobs in Las Vegas

David A. Avila

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Canelo vs Jacobs

LAS VEGAS-Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez won a tactical battle by unanimous decision over Brooklyn’s Daniel Jacobs that saw several changes over 12 rounds. But now the red head adds the IBF title to his collection of middleweight belts on Saturday.

WBA and WBC titlist Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) showed the sold out crowd of 20,203 at T-Mobile Arena that the smaller guy can indeed beat the bigger guy Jacobs (35-3, 29 KOs) even though he weighed four pounds more than the contracted weight. It really didn’t matter.

Despite the extra pounds it didn’t prove an advantage for Jacobs who was tentative in the beginning as was Alvarez. But in the second round both began to target the body and the fight slipped into a more aggressive round.

The speed of Alvarez began to tell as he connected with shots to the body and head. And when he felt even more comfortable in the fourth round, the Mexican middleweight began to show off his defensive skills by slipping various combinations fired by Jacobs. The crowd of predominantly Latino fans cheered the exhibition of defensive skill.

“It took me a couple of rounds to get my wits about me. Because he is a pot shotter. He’s a fast guy,” explained Jacobs.

Jacobs changed the strategy of the fight in the fifth round by changing into a southpaw. The move stalled Alvarez’s rhythm and the fight slowed to a crawl. A wicked left cross connected by Jacobs flush to Alvarez’s jaw. It was the Brooklyn fighter’s best punch of the night.

“It was a hard shot, no big deal I continued with my fight,” said Alvarez of the Jacob’s left cross.

Whenever Jacobs used a southpaw stance Alvarez found success with a ramrod left jab. It was his best response to the Jacob tactic. However the crowd did not like the tactic because of the lack of action in produced.

From the 10th round on Alvarez used his quicker hand speed to fire off combinations that kept Jacobs from returning fire. Though the Mexican middleweight was landing combinations whenever Jacobs fought from an orthodox stance, he had problems with the lefty stance by the New Yorker.

Jacobs never surrendered and managed to land shots, but never was he able to hurt Alvarez whose jaw had already been tested twice against the powerful Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in two prior fights. Canelo’s chin was intact and unbreakable against Jacobs. That proved to be a major difference.

Alvarez was able to take chances knowing he could handle Jacobs power. He also knew he could slip Jacobs if necessary. After 12 rounds all three judges agreed that Alvarez was the winner 115-113 twice and 116-112. It was a clear and decisive verdict not bemoaned by Jacobs.

“I have to go back and see exactly what the judges saw. He’s a tremendous champion and I take my hat off for him,” said Jacobs.

The crowd departed the arena satisfied but not exactly ecstatic. Most expected a knockout by either fighter, not a decision.

“It was a thinking fight. He’s a little heavier, it was the right style to fight him,” said Alvarez. “For sure it was a strategic fight. I had to think what to do but it was a matter of switching from left to right.”

Sitting in the audience was former middleweight champion Golovkin. Alvarez was asked if Golovkin would be next on his list.

“For me no, but if the people want it, we can do it again,” said Alvarez. “If the fight is right I’ll fight anyone.”

Vergil Ortiz

Young firebrand Vergil Ortiz (13-0, 13 KOs) lowered the boom on veteran world title challenger Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera (24-9, 7 KOs) to win by knockout in a fight held in the welterweight division. But only for this fight.

Herrera had fought for the super lightweight world title before and many felt he won against Puerto Rico’s Danny Garcia back in 2014. But against the lean punching machine Ortiz it was a different matter.

After a round of Herrera setting the pace with peppering shots to the body, Ortiz began opening up in the latter half of the second round. A sizzling right hand followed by several blows sent Herrera down at the end of the round. Herrera got up but looked slightly woozy.

In the third round Ortiz was in full stalking mode and Herrera seemed a little groggy. Normally Herrera, who lives in trains in Riverside, Calif. like Ortiz, has shown an uncanny ability to slip punches. But Ortiz cornered Herrera and sent a right cross missile that connected solidly. Herrera was out before a left hook follow-up blow from Ortiz grazed the unconscious fighter. Referee Russell Mora stopped the fight at 29 seconds of round three.

“I’m very satisfied with my performance. I spar world champions all the time,” said Ortiz after the win. “He was keeping his left hand down all the time. I had the fight figured out.”

Despite the success at 147-pounds, Ortiz prefers to drop back to the 140 pound super lightweight limit.

“I want to go back at 140 and get that world title,” said Ortiz who is from Texas but is trained in Riverside, CA, by Robert Garcia. “If they ask me to fight for a world title in two weeks I’ll take it right now.”

Jojo Diaz

Southern California’s Jojo Diaz (29-1, 15 KOs) opened up with a steady battering of Costa Rica’s Freddie Fonseca (26-3-1, 17 KOs) to prove he belongs at the 130-pound super featherweight division.

“I’m able to take more chances and take more risks. At 126 my body would fatigue in the later rounds,” said Diaz a former 2012 USA Olympian. “I’m ready right away for a world title my next fight.”

Diaz had twice fought for world titles in the featherweight division. In his last attempt he failed to make the required weight limit of 126 pounds last August 2018 against Puerto Rico’s Jesus Rojas. Though he won the fight he was unable to win the title.

Lamont Roach Jr. (19-0-1, 7 KOs) took a beating early in the fight but slowly turned things around with distance, counter shots and a point deduction against Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Oquendo (30-6, 19 KOs) late in the fight. But after 10 grueling rounds Roach was given the unanimous decision 96-93 twice and 97-92 and keeps the NABO featherweight title.

From the first round on Roach’s nose was bloodied by an Oquendo blow and was then hurt by body shots. Somehow he shrugged it off and began turning things around with smart fighting on the outside. Oquendo was deducted a point in the eighth round by referee Russell Mora for repeated head butts.

Roach earned the win the hard way.

“He is as tough as they come,” said Roach. “I’ve been hit in the face a lot of times. He hit me with a clean body shot.”

New Jersey’s Anthony Young (21-2, 8 KOs) started fast and finished former world champion Sadam Ali (27-3, 14 KOs) to win a vacant regional welterweight title. Young pummeled former super welterweight world titlist Ali with a barrage of blows in the third round. More than 20 unanswered blows including a left hook to the temple forced referee Robert Byrd to end the fight by technical knockout at 2:38 of round three.

“I saw his fight against (Mauricio) Herrera and he couldn’t pull the trigger,” said Young of Ali’s fight against Southern California’s Herrera in New York. “So when they offered the fight I jumped on it.”

England’s John Ryder (28-4, 16 KOs) floored Australia’s Bilal Akkawy (21-1-1, 16 KOs) twice before referee Jay Nady stopped the fight giving the interim WBA super middleweight title to the British fighter. A left cross floored Akkawy in the third round and he beat the count. Then Ryder cornered the Aussie and fired a four-punch combination that sent Akkawy to the floor once again. The fight resumed and Ryder snapped Akkawy’s head back with a left uppercut forcing referee Jay Nady to halt the fight at 2:12 of round three.

“I  picked my shots and put him away,” said Ryder who fights out of London. “To fight in Las Vegas was amazing. To put on a performance like that, possibly the best of my career, makes it all the sweeter.”

Russia’s Aram Avagyan (9-0-1) out-hustled Francisco Esparza (9-1-1) of Las Vegas over 10 rounds to win by unanimous decision in a featherweight fight. Both fighters engaged mostly on the inside with neither fighter hurting the other much. Avagyan won by scores 97-92, 96-93 twice to keep the title.

“I executed the game plan,” said Avagyan.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Pradabsri Upsets Menayothin, Ends the Longest Unbeaten Streak of Modern Times

Arne K. Lang

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During the wee hours in the Americas, a big upset was brewing in Thailand. In Nakhon Sawan, a city roughly 150 miles north of Bangkok, Panya Pradabsri (aka Petchmanee CP Freshmart) out-pointed Wanheng Menayothin (aka Chayaphon Moonsri) in a domestic clash with international significance. Manayothin entered the bout with a 54-0 (18) record and was making the 13th defense of his WBC world minimumweight title.

Pradabsri had been defeated only once in 35 previous starts, but only 11 of his 34 victories had come against fighters with winning records. According to ringside reports, he kept Menayothin at bay with good fundamentals, a stiff jab, and good lateral movement. All three judges had it 115-113. The fight wasn’t without controversy as Menayothin finished stronger and many folks scoring off the live video thought that he had done just enough to retain his title.

How good was/is Menayothin? That’s a question that serious boxing fans will likely debate for decades.

In the summer of 2019, Menayothin signed a co-promotional deal with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. At time, GBP president Eric Gomez described him as one of the best fighters in the world. “We really want to bring him to the U.S. so people can see how talented he really is,” Gomez told England’s Sky Sports.

Menayothin was expected to make his U.S. debut in April of this year, but the pandemic ruined that plan. Earlier this year, he announced his retirement, but rescinded it after only two days.

Scottish boxing historian Matt McGrain, who has an exclusive arrangement with this web site, had lukewarm opinion of the Thai mighty-mite although he rated him the second-best 105-pound boxer of the decade, trailing only his countryman Thammanoon Niyomtrong (aka Knockout CP Freshmart).

“He is disciplined, strong, brings good pressure and is armed with a very decent range of punches,” said McGrain, “(but his record) is comprised mostly of men any competent fighter would be expected to beat.”

Although only one boxer from Thailand has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (Khaosai Galaxy, class of 1999), the Southeast Asia nation has produced some outstanding boxers over the years – Chartchoi Chionoi, Sot Chitalada, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to name just a few. The difference between these fighters and Wanheng Menayothin is that they all left the comfort zone of their homeland to score one or more important wins on foreign soil.

Menayothin may yet display his wares in a U.S. ring. But at age 35, an advanced age for small fighters in particular, we won’t get to see him at his best and now that his bubble has been burst, disinviting further comparisons to Mayweather and Marciano, the curiosity factor has been tempered.

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Yoka vs. Hammer Kicks Off the Thanksgiving Weekend Slate on ESPN+

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PRESS RELEASE— Tony Yoka, the dynamic heavyweight punching Parisian, aims to impress in his ESPN platform debut. Yoka, who won a super heavyweight gold medal for France at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will fight veteran Christian Hammer in a 10-rounder Friday at H Arena in Nantes, France.

Yoka-Hammer will stream live and exclusively this Friday, Nov. 27 in the United States on ESPN+ beginning at 2:55 p.m. ET/11:55 a.m. PT.

The ESPN+ stream will also include the return of unbeaten 2016 French Olympic gold medalist Estelle Yoka-Mossely against Pasa Malagic in an eight-round lightweight bout. Yoka and Yoka-Mossely, who have been married since 2018, welcomed their second child in May.

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Earlier this year, Yoka inked a promotional agreement with Top Rank, which will co-promote him with Ringstar France.

“Tony Yoka’s potential is limitless, and he is a grounded young man who is motivated to be a great professional fighter,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “France has never had a world heavyweight champion, and I believe Tony is the one to bring the sport’s biggest honor home.”

The 28-year-old Yoka’s stellar amateur run included a berth at the 2012 London Olympics and gold medals at the 2015 World Championships and 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Before his triumph in Rio, he’d already defeated the likes of former heavyweight world champion Joseph Parker and current undefeated prospects Joe Joyce and Ivan Dychko. At the Rio Olympics, he defeated Croatian standout Filip Hrgović in the semifinals and edged Joyce in the gold medal match.

As a professional, Yoka (8-0, 7 KOs) made his debut in June 2017 with a second-round stoppage over the previously undefeated Travis Clark. Apart from a decision win over Jonathan Rice in his second outing, Yoka has stopped every foe, including durable Englishman David “White Rhino” Allen and former European champion Alexander Dimitrenko. He made his 2020 debut Sept. 25 and stopped former world title challenger Johann Duhaupas in one round.

Hammer (25-6, 15 KOs) has fought many of the leading heavyweight names during his 12-year career, falling short against Tyson Fury, Luis Ortiz and Alexander Povetkin. He’s notched myriad upset victories, including a highlight-reel knockout over David Price and a 2016 split decision over Erkan Teper for the WBO European belt. In March 2019, he went the 10-round distance against Ortiz and has not been stopped since Fury forced him to retire on his stool after eight rounds in their February 2015 clash.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 115: Macho, Freddie and More

David A. Avila

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Camacho me and Mia

“Macho.”

That single word is how Hector Camacho presented himself when introduced. It was the only word needed for the three-division world champion from Puerto Rico who was raised in Harlem, New York.

The first time I met Camacho was in a dark and packed Las Vegas nightclub in the MGM where he was a guest of Oscar De La Hoya back in March 2001. Though it was difficult to see, when Camacho was introduced, I could see the large gold medallion with the word “Macho” in letters six inches high.

Showtime network will be presenting a documentary called “Macho: The Hector Camacho Story” on Friday, December 4 at 9 p.m. on Showtime. It sparks memories of how a fighter in the lower weight classes grabbed the attention of the boxing world.

Camacho was more than flash or words, he was an electrifying boxer who stood out in the 1980s, an era dominated by the “Four Kings” Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard. Oh, and also a guy named Mike Tyson.

The fast-talking Camacho was a phenomenal fighter who swept aside opponents with his blinding speed and shocking power. It was against Los Angeles-based fighters like Refugio Rojas and Louie Loy that I first read about his exploits. Both were knocked out.

A third Southern California fighter John “Huero” Montes was thought to be the one to give Camacho a real challenge. The fight was televised to a national audience in February 1983. At the time I was watching it on a tiny black and white television and at 1:13 into the first round Camacho unleashed one of those lethal uppercuts and Montes was out-for-the-count.

Camacho arrived that day.

From that point on few could withstand the speedy southpaw’s blinding charges. Six months later he stopped Mexico’s “Bazooka” Limon to win the vacant super featherweight title.

One fighter who heard the final bell was Freddie Roach who could take a punch and knew a thing or two about fighting southpaws.

“I liked fighting southpaws,” said Roach via telephone. “My dad taught me early to keep my foot on the outside and lead with right hands.”

Roach had never lost to a southpaw. The winner that day between Camacho and Roach in Sacramento, on December 1985, was supposedly going to fight Puerto Rico’s heavy-handed Edwin Rosario.

Using his surefire method of fighting southpaws, Roach managed a knockdown of Camacho with the help of his foot. But it was not enough.

“He was very difficult. Lot of people raved about how fast his speed was. You didn’t really realize until you got into the ring with him,” said Roach. “I wasn’t the slowest, but wasn’t the fastest. I just couldn’t keep up.”

Despite using roughhouse tactics against the lefty speedster, Roach said that Camacho invited him to dinner after the fight.

That pretty much explains Camacho, a talented and big-hearted guy.

Last Stages

The last time I ran into Camacho was at the Pechanga Resort and Casino when he and Mia St. John were about to fight on the same boxing card in 2009. He was much heavier but still able to defeat middleweights.

How good was Camacho?

He defeated two of the Four Kings when he beat Roberto Duran twice and stopped Sugar Ray Leonard by knockout when they fought in 1997. Yes, Leonard was 41 and had not fought in six years, but this was Sugar Ray Leonard.

“I didn’t think he would ever beat Leonard,” said Roach.

Neither did Leonard.

“I just felt that I was a bigger man. I was smarter, stronger, all those things, but the first time he threw a punch, it was like, Pow! And I said, ‘Wow, that hurt,’” said Leonard about their encounter. “I tried the best I could to just go the distance. When he was at his best, he was a thing of beauty.”

What I remember after Camacho beat Leonard was how sincerely apologetic he was after the victory. He could talk the talk and walk the walk but inside he remained the kid from Harlem who was given extraordinary talent. And he was humbled by it.

Roach remembers their dinner together after their fight.

“That night he took me out to dinner with his friends and said you fought a good fight,” said Roach adding that Camacho was a very likeable guy. “I saw him along the way in his career.”

Roach, who would later train another astoundingly fast southpaw named Manny Pacquiao, said he never fought anyone again as talented as Camacho.

“You hear rumors of drug problems and training problems. But when he fought me, he was in for 10 and I tried every trick in the book but it didn’t work. He was in a higher class than I was,” Roach said. “He was one of the best fighters in the world.”

Don’t miss this Showtime documentary next week.

Jacobs and Rosado

Speaking of Roach, the famous trainer will be working the corner of Gabe Rosado (25-12-1, 14 KOs) when he meets Daniel Jacobs (36-3, 30 KOs) on Friday, Nov. 27, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Florida. DAZN will stream the Matchroom Boxing card.

It’s Philly versus Brooklyn.

Rosado has long proven to be a real professional who keeps adding elements to his fight game. Paired with Roach he has further developed under the guidance of the Southern California-based trainer. Plus, Rosado can plain fight.

Jacobs, a former world champion, has proven to be an elite middleweight and looks just as comfortable as a super middleweight.

Expect the kind of prize fight they used to show in the Golden Age of boxing in the 1950s when you had guys like Johnny Saxton fighting Denny Moyer. It should be that kind of battle of wits and skill. I’m looking forward to it.

Photo: Hector Camacho, David Avila, and Mia St. John. Photo credit: Al Applerose

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