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Avila Perspective, Chap. 46: Tragedy After Big Fight, Ruben Villa and More

David A. Avila

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Ruben Villa

It’s with great sadness that I report the loss of 13 people who departed from Las Vegas and apparently died when the private chartered jet they boarded went down over Mexico on Sunday. Most of them reportedly had attended the Saul “Canelo” Alvarez fight with Daniel Jacobs at T-Mobile Arena last Saturday.

Canelo issued a statement via Twitter about the victims of the tragedy expressing his sorrow.

Boxing fans are unique in my opinion. They save their money, plan trips or events around the sport of prizefighting, and gleefully share the moments with anyone who cares.

Just recently I’ve come to realize that I love people who love boxing. Whether it’s the fighters, trainers, managers, promoters, matchmakers, condition coaches or the millions of men and women who love watching prizefighting, I truly consider all of them my people.

From Australia to Zimbabwe the sport of boxing exists and the people involved or who support it, well they’re my kind of people. They are usually passionate, understanding, and open-minded of all races, religions and nationalities.

Join me in giving a toast to those fans who journeyed to Las Vegas to see an epic fight not knowing they would never return home. We will remember you.

Another day of remembrance occurred on May 7th when Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo set the sports world on fire with their classic encounter in 2005. It remains my favorite fight of all time. I will never forget being in the audience as a journalist and watching these two warriors give their heart and soul inside the prize ring that night at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Sadly, two years later on the exact same day, May 7th, Corrales passed away after crashing on his motorcycle. It remains a heartbreaking moment for me. I had shared chats and broken bread with Corrales on occasion. He was warm, unpretentious and always willing to sit down and talk about boxing. He also loved his sweets. I had never met anyone who liked desserts more than “Chico.” He would down eight pieces of cake in 10 minutes and then go back for more.

Boxing people are the best.

Thompson Boxing

Those fans living outside of Southern California may not be familiar with Thompson Boxing Promotions, but they are the pocket-size battleship of the boxing industry. They aren’t very big, but they do pack a wallop.

Two weeks ago their fighter Danny “Baby Face Assassin” Roman unified the WBA and IBF super bantamweight titles with a fantastic battle against Ireland’s outstanding TJ Doheny. Check that fight out on DAZN.

On Friday May 10, Thompson Boxing unravels two more of its young stars at Corona, Calif. on a boxing card that will be televised on Showtime.

Ruben Villa (14-0, 5 KOs) meets Luis Alberto Lopez (17-1, 8 KOs) of Mexicali, Mexico in the main event at Omega Products International. It’s the Salinas, California featherweight’s second appearance on Showtime.

Villa (pictured) has a flashy southpaw style that allowed him to run right through Ruben Cervera and hand the undefeated fighter his first loss this past January. Now he gets Lopez who won the WBO International featherweight title this past February.

It’s a tough fight on paper.

“I want to be able to say I fought the best and beat the best,” said Villa, 22, a two-time national Golden Gloves champion as an amateur.

Also on the same card, Michael Dutchover (12-0, 9 KOs) meets Chile’s Ramon Mascarena Jr. (10-0, 5 KOs) in a battle between undefeated lightweights.

Dutchover, 21, trains in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. but is actually from Texas. This is a big test for the lightweight in facing Mascarena who has never fought outside of Chile. No one knows what he brings to the table but he is the Chilean National champion. But with Dutchover, fans know he’s aggressive and willing to engage. It should be action-packed.

Another on the same card will be Petr Petrov (39-6-2) who fights Ruben Tamayo (27-12-4) in a lightweight clash.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and information call (714) 935-0900.

Top Rank in Tucson, Arizona

A heavy duty fight card showcases two world title fights that are doozies. You can watch both on ESPN on Saturday May 11.

First, WBC super featherweight titlist Miguel Berchelt (35-1) fights former champion Francisco Vargas (25-1-2) in a rematch. The last time they met Berchelt took the title from Vargas who had been involved in numerous bloody battles.

Their first encounter took place two years ago. Now, Berchelt, 27, is a heavy favorite to repeat the bloody beating he gave Vargas back in January 2017. Since that fight the Cancun, Mexico fighter has battered four opponents with three not going the distance. He seems to be getting better.

Vargas, 34, only has that loss to Berchelt on his resume. He was involved in the Fight of the Year against Japan’s Takashi Miura in 2015. The Mexico City prizefighter has never been in a boring fight. He’s like the Red Cross, he always gives blood when he fights. Usually, it’s his own blood. But he loves to throw punches and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Another world title fight pits Isaac Dogboe against the guy who took his WBO super bantamweight world title away from him – Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete.

Dogboe (20-1, 14 KOs) was confidently enjoying his world title belt when he met long-armed Navarrete (26-1, 22 KOs) who specializes in beating up the shorter guys. That was last December in New York City. This time both are fighting in Tucson, Arizona were Navarrete will have a sort of hometown advantage. It’s a mere two hours away from the Mexican border.

Whoever wins this fight will probably get a crack at Danny Roman who holds the WBA and IBF versions.

Both title fights take place at the Convention Center in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday.

Super Welters

Now that Canelo Alvarez has left the premises, the search for the next super welterweight kingpin begins.

Jarrett Hurd (23-0, 16 KOs) defends the IBF and WBA super welterweight titles against Julian “J-Rock” Williams (26-1-1, 16 KOs) on Saturday May 11, in Fairfax, Virginia. FOX will televise the encounter and several other notable fights.

The last time Hurd entered the boxing ring was in a supporting role in Los Angeles on the undercard of Deontay Wilder versus Tyson Fury. On that December night at the Staples Center, the tall and awkward fighting Hurd allowed Britain’s Jason Welborn to take the initiative and coolly assessed his skills. Then he lowered the boom with a body shot and that was that.

Williams fights out of Philadelphia and only has a loss to one of the Charlo brothers, Jermall. He never saw the punch coming. Since that loss he’s racked up several wins to get back a shot at a title.

Another bout on the card features super lightweights Mario Barrios (23-0, 15 KOs) meeting Argentina’s Juan Jose Velasco (20-1, 12 KOs) in a 10 round affair.

It’s a very tough match for Barrios who has slowly been passing all the tests one by one. Velasco was last seen providing WBA and WBC titlist Regis Prograis a tough time for eight rounds until he succumbed to the pounding given by the New Orleans slugger.

If Velasco, 32, still has something left, he could give Barrios a struggle.

Barrios, 23, not only has power but good speed. The San Antonio fighter could be headed for an eventual showdown with Prograis. Saturday will shed some light on his abilities.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Ramirez-Postol, Taylor-Serrano and More

Arne K. Lang

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Boxing-Odds-and-Ends-Ramirez-Postol-Taylor-Serrano-and-More

It takes a strong constitution to be a boxing promoter because things always go wrong. The only law that governs boxing is Murphy’s Law.

Carl Frampton’s first fight under the Top Rank banner was slated for Aug. 10 of last year in Philadelphia. With the fight five days away, Frampton suffered a freak injury while sitting in a hotel lobby. A boy playing behind a curtain knocked over a seven-foot pillar which fell on Frampton’s left hand, fracturing it.

This was the second time that a Frampton fight was knocked out by a freak injury. Two years earlier, a homecoming fight in Belfast had to be scrapped when Frampton’s opponent, Andres Gutierrez, slipped in the shower in his hotel on the eve of the battle and suffered severe facial injuries.

The latest bout to fall out because of an odd development is Jose Ramirez’s Feb. 2 WBC/WBO lightweight title defense against Viktor Postol at a Chinese golf resort south of Hong Kong. The event fell victim to the coronavirus, more exactly the fear it has instilled.

The virus, which produces flu-like symptoms that are resistant to conventional antibiotics, apparently originated at an outdoor food market in the city of Wuhan where live animals are sold. The numbers vary with each new story, but according to one account there have been 444 confirmed cases in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital city, and 653 cases worldwide including two in the United States, a man in his 30’s living near Seattle and a Chicago woman in her 60’s.

The fear of a pandemic (an epidemic becomes a pandemic when it spreads across multiple geographic regions of the world) has led to some drastic measures. The Chinese government has reportedly put 12 cities on lockdown, blocking traffic in and out. At many airports, visitors arriving from China are being screened. There are now thermal cameras than can record a person’s body temperature remotely.

Jose Ramirez (pictured with his promoter Bob Arum) was scheduled to leave for China yesterday (Jan. 23) but was intercepted. Viktor Postol is already there and apparently stranded until an outgoing flight can be arranged.

The Ramirez-Postol fight was to air on ESPN. No make-up date has been set.

– – –

British promoter Eddie Hearn says he’s close to finalizing a fight between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano. Hearn says the fight will take place in the U.S. in April. It figures that Madison Square Garden is the frontrunner.

If the fight comes off on schedule, this will be the biggest women’s fight in history!

That’s because the odds attached to the fight figure to be in the “pick-‘em” range and that guarantees that boxing writers and others in the boxing community will be surveyed to get their picks – about which there figures to be considerable disagreement – and that will greatly enhance the pre-fight buzz.

Taylor, 33, last fought in November in Manchester, England, advancing her record to 15-0 (6 KOs) with a unanimous decision over Christina Linardatou, a fighter from Greece via the Dominican Republic. It was Taylor’s first fight at 140 after previously unifying the lightweight title with a hard-fought decision over Belgium’s Delfine Persoon.

Amanda Serrano, a 31-year-old southpaw, born in Puerto Rico and raised in Brooklyn, has won titles in five weight divisions. She last fought as a featherweight, turning away gritty Heather Hardy, but has competed as high as 140. Boasting a 37-1-1 record, she’s won 23 straight, 18 by stoppage, 10 in the opening round

What sets women boxers apart from their male counterparts is that the women have a significantly lower knockout ratio. Amanda Serrano is the glaring exception.

Despite a less eye-catching record, Taylor has arguably fought the stiffer competition considering her extensive amateur background. As a pro, her victims include Cindy Serrano, Amanda’s older sister by six years. Taylor whitewashed her in a match at Boston Garden, prompting the elder Serrano sister to call it a career.

– – –

The most bizarre (non)story to appear in a boxing web site this week involved former unified heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe. A man representing Bowe, identified as Eli Karabell, was frustrated because Eddie Hearn wasn’t returning his calls. Karabell had offered Hearn the right of first refusal on Bowe’s next fight.

Bowe, now 51 years old, last fought in a boxing ring in 2008 when he returned to the sport after a three-and-half year absence for an 8-round bout in Germany. In 2013, he appeared in a kickboxing fight in Thailand where he was stopped in the second round after being knocked down five times by leg kicks.

“Will there be another chapter to write for Bowe?” concluded the author of this piece.

Egads, let’s hope not.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Crawford, Canelo, Caleb Plant and More

Arne K. Lang

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Boxing-Odds-and-Ends-Crawford-Canelo-Caleb-Plant-and-More

Boxing Odds and Ends: Crawford, Canelo, Caleb Plant and More

Although a lot of disinformation comes out of the mouths of boxing promoters, Bob Arum was apparently serious when he broached the idea of a two-fight series between Terence Crawford and Conor McGregor, the first fight to be conducted under MMA rules and the second under boxing rules.

Crawford is amenable. “I just have to have the proper time to prepare myself,” he told ESPN’s Dan Rafael. “…I haven’t been in that (wrestling) environment in a long time, but most definitely I feel I can compete with anyone given the proper time to train on the MMA side, being that I have a wrestling background.”

Crawford, 32, last wrestled in middle school so he would certainly need a refresher course. However, he would have a better chance of defeating Conor McGregor in an MMA match than McGregor would have of defeating him in a boxing match. So, if Arum’s proposed two-fight series ever comes off, the tailpiece may be unnecessary.

– – –

As first reported by ESPN’s Steve Kim, Andy Ruiz Jr. has dumped trainer Manny Robles. According to Kim’s report, Ruiz’s father informed Robles of the decision and said it was Al Haymon’s idea.

Andy Ruiz appears to be one of those people that can gain weight just looking at food. He weighed 297 ½ pounds for his pro debut at age 19, carried 268 pounds for his first meeting with Anthony Joshua, and ballooned up to 283 ½ for the rematch after leading reporters to believe that he had actually slimmed down for the sequel.

Ruiz, noted Kim, went from a feel-good story to a cautionary tale in just six months.

– – –

Who ya’ gonna believe?

A certain disreputable web site, bragging that it had an exclusive, told its readers that Canelo Alvarez had settled on Billy Joe Saunders as his next opponent and that they would meet on Cinco de Mayo in Las Vegas. The next day, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, a far more trustworthy source, reported that Ryota Murata had emerged as the frontrunner and that negotiations were underway to stage the fight in Japan.

Perhaps it makes sense for Canelo to promote his brand in a new market. However, if he fights Murata, who holds a WBA belt, he would reportedly be dropping back to 160 and at age 29 he appears to have outgrown the weight class.

Stay tuned.

– – –

If Caleb Plant were an NBA player, his name would be Kevin Love. Plant, who recently married FOX/PBC reporter Jordan Hardy, is the only U.S.-born, non-Hispanic white person among the various champions in the 17 weight divisions.

Plant, who hails from tiny Ashland City, Tenn. (23 miles from Nashville) defends his IBF super middleweight title on Feb. 15 at Nashville’s 20,000-seat Bridgestone Arena. In the opposite corner will be Germany’s Vincent Feigenbutz who will be making his U.S. debut.

The 24-year-old Feigenbutz, who turned pro at age 16, has won 10 straight and 30 of his last 31. He represents a big step up in class from Plant’s last opponent, Mike Lee, who was in way over his head.

– – –

A sad note from South Africa: Five days after the death of trailblazer Peter Mathebula, his widow, Emma Gabaitsiwe Mathebula, died suddenly of an apparent heart attack. Peter Mathebula’s funeral, originally set for Saturday, has been pushed back until Tuesday and will now be a joint funeral.

Mathebula, who won the WBA world flyweight title in 1980, basically died a pauper, having sold all of  his boxing memorabilia to keep his head above water. His heirs had reached out to the government for assistance in defraying the costs of his burial.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 82: Jason Quigley Returns to SoCal and More

David A. Avila

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Avila-Perspective-Chap-82-Jason-Quigley-Returns-to-SoCal-and-More

Southern California prizefighting heats up with Jason Quigley headlining a fight card in Orange County and then, two days later, another fight card takes place in the heart of Los Angeles.

Ireland’s Quigley (17-1, 13 KOs) faces Mexico’s Fernando Marin (16-4-3, 12 KOs) on Thursday Jan. 23, at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa, Calif. DAZN will stream the Golden Boy Promotions fight card live.

Quigley, 28, seeks to reclaim territory lost when he suffered a defeat last July against Tureano Johnson. Ironically, Marin would lose 10 days later in Hollywood to super welterweight contender Serhii Bohachuk.

For several years Quigley had trained in Southern California but decided to change trainers and location. He moved to Great Britain and still prepares near his native country but primarily fights in the U.S.

At one time Quigley clamored for a match against Gennady “GGG” Golovkin or Saul “Canelo” Alvarez but now finds himself trying to prove he belongs in the upper tier of the middleweight division. It’s loaded with talent.

Also on the same fight card will be popular North Hollywood super welterweight Ferdinand Kerobyan who was headed to contender status when he ran into Blair “the Flair” Cobbs. At the time Cobbs was an unknown quantity but no longer.

Kerobyan (13-1, 8 KOs) meets Azael Cosio (21-8-2) in an eight-round clash in the semi-main event at OC Hangar. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Red Boxing International

On Saturday Jan. 27, Red Boxing International hosts its first boxing card of the year at Leonardo’s Night Club located at 6617 Wilson Ave. L.A. 90001. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Super welterweight Bryan Flores (13-1, 6 KOs) meets Brandon Baue (15-17) in the main event  in the first event of the year for the ambitious promotion company. For the past two years Flores fought primarily in Tijuana, Mexico where he racked up six wins. Now he’s back on Southern California soil.

Another match features lightweights Angel Israel Rodriguez (5-0) facing off against Braulio Avila (3-6) in a six-round fight.

Rodriguez fights out of Pico Rivera, Calif. but recently fought in Costa Rica where he won by first round knockout in November. He will be fighting Avila who just fought two weeks ago at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif.

It’s a long fight card with 11 bouts on the schedule.

JRock and Rosario

Boxing fans received another lesson on never underestimating a ranked contender regardless of the name recognition.

Jeison Rosario knocked out Julian “J Rock” Williams who was making the first defense of the WBA and IBF super welterweight world titles he won last year in my selection as “Fight of the Year.”

Rosario walked in with little recognition and was thought to be a soggy piece of bread for Williams. The long armed Dominican fighter walloped Williams in front of his hometown fans in Philadelphia. It was yet another warning for fans to understand that anyone who steps in the boxing ring ranked as a contender can do the unthinkable. In this case Rosario knocked out the champion in five rounds.

Many felt Williams was far too skilled, especially on the inside where he showcased those skills last May against former titlist Jarret Hurd. It was a remarkable display of the art of inside fighting. But against Rosario, he never got a chance to exhibit those skills.

The loaded super welterweight division has another dangerous champion in Rosario.

Fights to Watch

Thurs. 6 p.m. DAZN – Jason Quigley (17-1) vs Fernando Marin (16-4-3).

Sat. 6 p.m. Showtime – Danny Garcia (35-2) vs Ivan Redkach (23-4-1).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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