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Three Punch Combo: Two Under the Radar Fights and Thoughts on Joshua – Ruiz

Matt Andrzejewski

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THREE PUNCH COMBO — After what was in essence a bye week in the sport, the schedule ramps up again this weekend with several high-profile cards on major platforms. And as is usually the case in such busy weeks, a few very intriguing contests are flying severely under the radar.

On Friday, ESPN will televise a card from the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, CA headlined by the lightweight title fight between Richard Commey (28-2, 25 KO’s) and Raymundo Beltran (36-8-1, 22 KO’s). While I love this fight, the 154-pound co-feature between Carlos Adames (17-0, 14 KO’s) and Patrick Day (17-2-1, 6 KO’s) is no less intriguing.

Adames nicknamed Bronco Horse (El Caballo Bronco in Spanish), is an enigma. As far as talent goes, he has plenty of it. He’s very athletic with above average hand speed and heavy-handed power. There is also fluidity to his game that makes him stand out as a prospect. He seems to have star potential written all over him.

However, there is a major question mark on Adames. Though he oozes with talent, he often seems unmotivated. In his fight in January against Juan Ruiz, Adames looked asleep for the first two rounds allowing his opponent to do whatever he pleased. But in the round three, Adames looked like a different man and easily dispatched Ruiz. Thus far, these types of moments have been all too common in Adames’ career.

Day is a big step up in class for Adames. A classic boxer-puncher by trade, Day is quick on his feet and will certainly look to use his legs in this fight. He likes to work behind the jab and fire off combinations when in range with his quick hands. Though Day is not a huge puncher, he is sharp and accurate with his power shots. He will also be coming into this bout with a lot of confidence, having won his last six fights, several of which found him in the underdog role.

This fight is going to feature a nice contrast of styles. Adames will press forward as the aggressor while Day will look to use his legs to box from the outside. If Adames is motivated, he could certainly put on a scintillating performance, but if he is off his game, Day could be the one who puts on a show and vaults into contention in a deep 154- pound division.

Under The Radar Fight, Part Two

 Showtime will televise a card on Saturday from the NRG Arena in Houston, TX that will be headlined by a middleweight contest between Jermall Charlo (28-0, 21 KO’s) and Brandon Adams (21-2, 13 KO’s) with an interim title belt at stake. While this bout is drawing most of the headlines, the televised undercard features a very intriguing featherweight crossroads fight between Eduardo Ramirez (22-1-3, 9 KO’s) and Claudio Marrero (23-3, 17 KO’s) that should provide plenty of fireworks.

Ramirez is just a solid professional fighter. He is not the most athletic, doesn’t possess the quickest hands, and doesn’t have much power, but he is skilled enough to compete at a certain level, often times making very good fights. Ramirez is a southpaw and does fight as a classic boxer-puncher using movement working behind the right jab. He also likes to counter and has shown in the past to be very effective as a counterpuncher. However, he will hold his hands low, presumably looking to get his opposition to lead to set up counters, but in the process can be easy to hit. And he has shown a willingness to get into exchanges which is not always the best idea for him although it does make for entertaining fights.

Marrero, also a southpaw, is an aggressive heavy-handed, volume puncher. At his best, he is pressing the attack from the opening bell throwing punches from all angles as he seeks to overwhelm his opponent. Marrero is not afraid to get into exchanges but unlike Ramirez carries thunderous power in both fists. Defensively, Marrero’s high work rate coupled with any sort of head movement often leaves him exposed to being countered. Essentially, he can be very easy to hit clean.

I love this match-up. It offers a nice contrast of styles between two solid fighters who are not afraid to move their hands as well as get into exchanges. And with both having serious flaws on defense, it figures to be the most action-packed fight of the weekend.

This is going to be fun to watch.

Joshua-Ruiz: Putting The Rumors to Bed

What is the correct explanation for Anthony Joshua’s shocking loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. a few weeks ago in New York? The rumor mill has been churning with all sorts of theories, but I am not buying any of them. In my mind, there’s a much more logical explanation for what happened.

Let’s start by looking back at Joshua’s boxing career. As an amateur, he had a lot of success including winning a 2012 Olympic Gold Medal. But that said, he only had about 50 amateur fights (even fewer according to some accounts). So entering the pro game in 2013, Joshua was still relatively green as far as experience inside the ring.

As a pro, Joshua was moved relatively swiftly fighting 15 times between October of 2013 and December of 2015. This seemed to be a very appropriate pace for a naturally talented fighter who overall lacked ring experience.

But early in 2016 those moving Joshua saw an opportunity they just couldn’t resist. Charles Martin had won the then vacant IBF portion of the heavyweight title when his opponent, Vyacheslav Glazkov, suffered an injury early in their title fight. Martin was still seen as raw and not nearly as talented as Joshua. So Joshua’s team made Martin an offer he couldn’t refuse to come to the UK to defend his newly won title against Joshua. And as expected, Joshua made quick work of Martin. Joshua was now a heavyweight champion.

From that moment forward, Joshua’s career path changed. It was now going to be about bigger fights and bigger events. The developmental stage was over and Joshua became essentially a two fight a year fighter.

I want to pause for a second here and look back at the early careers of three recent long- reigning heavyweight champions in Lennox Lewis, Vitali Klitschko and Wladimir Klitschko. Specifically, I want to look at what happened soon after they each had their 16th fight as a pro.

After Lewis had his 16th fight in July of 1991, he fought five more times in a span of 13 months before receiving a title shot against Donovan “Razor” Ruddock. Vitali Klitschko fought for the 16th time in March of 1998 and went on to fight seven more times that year alone.

As for Wladimir Klitschko, he had his 16th fight in December of 1997. In 1998, he fought nine times and that included a shocking loss to Ross Puritty. But that continued development, even with a loss suffered, would help Klitschko later on in his career.

My point here is that these three outstanding champions, all of whom had a much deeper amateur pedigree than Joshua, were still in the process of developing as pros and fighting relatively frequently after their 16th professional fight.

My strong belief is that Joshua lost because he became a two fight a year fighter much too early in his career. He still needed to be fighting more frequently, like the three champions above, to develop his craft.  Just how different was the Joshua who fought Ruiz to the Joshua who fought say Dillian Whyte in December of 2015? Not much different frankly and that is a problem.

Put all the rumors to bed. Joshua’s lack of development as a pro is what did him in against Andy Ruiz.

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Fast Results from Las Vegas: Tyson Fury Overcomes Doughty Otto Wallin

Arne K. Lang

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Otto Wallin proved to be a more formidable opponent than Tyson Fury’s last victim, Tom Schwarz, by a long shot. One could sense that this wouldn’t be a walkover for the Gypsy King when Wallin backed Fury into a neutral corner in round two and got off a good volley of punches.

Wallin opened what became a very nasty gash over Fury’s right eye in round four. Fury pawed at it continually throughout the fight which went the full distance. Fury seemed to think that the cut resulted from a clash of heads, but the replay indicated otherwise. Near the end of round six, Wallin rubbed the cut with the laces of his gloves, earning a stern but silent rebuke from Fury and referee Tony Weeks who did not deduct a point.

Fury prefers to fight off the back foot until he has his opponent hurt, but with the cut he fought with more of a sense of urgency, pressing forward. The fight turned messy over the final third as the contest turned into somewhat of a hug-fest.

Wallin, who came in undefeated (20-0), landed some hard shots in the final round, but by then he needed a knockout to win. The final scores were 116-112, 117-111, and 118-110. The 118-110 tally was overly severe, distorting the fact that this was a hard fight for the Gypsy King  who improved his ledger to 29-0-1.

The promoters say the rematch with Deontay Wilder, the second bout of a planned trilogy, is set for February but Wallin may have wrecked those plans. It would seem that Fury will need more time to heal that cut.

Co-Feature

Based on raw numbers, it figured that the fight between defending WBO world 122-pound champion Emanuel Navarrete and Juan Miguel Elorde would be competitive. Both had identical records (28-1) and both were riding long winning streaks; 23 straight wins for Navarrete and 18 straight for Elorde. But the son of Filipino boxing legend Flash Elorde was out of his league. Navarette, who is a big featherweight, was too strong for him. Near the end of round three, Elorde received a standing 8-count when he landed against the ropes, which kept him upright. Twenty-six seconds into the next round it was all over, with referee Russell Mora halting the bout to protect Elorde from taking more punishment.

The victorious Navarette, from Mexican City, was making the third defense of the title he won from Isaac Dogboe. Las Vegas hasn’t been good to Elorde whose lone prior defeat came at nearby Mandalay Bay in a 4-round contest.

Other Bouts

In a mild upset, Jose Zepeda, won a 10-round unanimous decision over Jose Pedraza. A 2008 Olympian for Puerto Rico and former two-division belt-holder, Pedraza declined to 26-3.

Zepeda (33-2), a native Californian who entered the ring draped in the Mexican flag, did his best work early and late. In the middle rounds it appeared that Pedraza was taking control with superior marksmanship but he couldn’t sustain it. The seventh round was furious as were the waning moments of the 10th. All three judges had it 97-93.

In an 8-round featherweight bout, Isaac Lowe, a fellow Traveler and stablemate of Tyson Fury, remained undefeated with an 8-round unanimous decision over Mexico City’s Ruben Hernandez. The scores were 78-74 and 77-75 twice.

Lowe, who showed good boxing skills but isn’t a hard puncher, improved to 19-0-2 (6 KOs). Hernandez falls to 25-5-2.

In the first walk-out fight, Guido Vianello, a 6’4″, 240-pound heavyweight from Rome, Italy, improved to 5-0 (5 KOs) at the expense of Cassius Anderson,  a 35-year-old former Toledo U. linebacker, whose corner pulled him out after the fourth round. Vianello knocked Anderson down in the first few seconds of the fight, but Anderson wasn’t of a mind to leave that quick.

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Fast Results from The Big Apple: Haney, Hunter, and Serrano Win Handily

Arne K. Lang

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Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Promotions was at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden tonight with a 10-bout card that produced no surprises. In the featured bout, 20-year-old lightweight Devin Haney stayed on course for a hoped-for showdown with Vassiliy Lomachenko with a dominant performance over Russia’s little-known Zaur Abdullaev. The fight was stopped after four one-sided rounds with Abdullaev apparently suffering from a fractured cheekbone.

Haney (23-0, 15 KOs) was far more athletic. Abdullaev, who brought an 11-0 record into his U.S. debut, had trouble handling Haney’s speed and was simply overwhelmed by Haney who was the far busier fighter.

Co-Features

Amanda Serrano, who has won more titles in more weight classes than Carter has pills, added the WBO world featherweight title to her dossier with a lopsided decision over fellow Brooklynite Heather Hardy. This fight appeared that it would end early; Serrano’s punches were harder and cleaner. But Hardy, seven years older at age 37, refused to fold and actually did some good work in the middle rounds. The scores were 98-92 and 98-91 twice.

Serrano improved to 37-1-1. It was the first pro loss for Hardy who fell to 22-1.

In a 12-round heavyweight contest, Michael Hunter won his sixth straight, improving to 18-1, with a 12-round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Sergey Kuzmin (15-1). Although Hunter is on a nice roll, this was not the sort of performance likely to win him any new fans. His best moment came in round five when he knocked Kuzmin flat on his back with a left hook, but from that point on, he seemed content to out-box his Russian adversary who had a 37-pound advantage but was conspicuously slower.

All three judges had it 117-110. After the bout, Hunter expressed a desire to fight Alexander Povetkin on the Joshua-Ruiz II card in Saudi Arabia on Dec. 7.

Other Bouts of Note

It was a mixed bag for 32-year-old Azerbaijan heavyweight Magomedrasul Majidov who won his pro debut with a fourth-round stoppage of Ed Fountain but didn’t look all that impressive. More was expected of Majidov, a three-time world amateur champion who scored three wins over Anthony Joshua as an amateur. Fountain (12-7) lost his fifth straight.

Kazakh welterweight Daniyar Yeleussinov, a two-time Olympian and 2016 gold medalist, looked sensational while advancing his record to 8-0 (4) with a vicious first-round knockout of Reshard Hicks. Yeleussinov, who is trained by his father, knocked Hicks to the the canvas twice, the second of which left Hicks face down, forcing referee Ron Lipton to end the bout without the formality of a count. It was the first pro loss for Hicks (12-1-1), a 34-year-old ex-G.I. from Killeen, Texas.

Uzbekistan super bantamweight Murodjon Akhmadaliev improved to 7-0 (6 KOs) with a fourth-round stoppage of Columbia’s Wilner Soto (22-7). This was a stay-busy fight for the 24-year-old former Olympian who was originally slated to challenge WBA/IBF title-holder Daniel Roman who had to withdraw because of a shoulder injury suffered in sparring. Akhmadaliev toyed with the overmatched Soto for the first three rounds before unleashing the heavy artillery.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom Boxing USA

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The Avila Perspective, Chap. 64: New York, L.A. and Las Vegas Fights

David A. Avila

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Three of the Big Four promoters in prizefighting are showcasing young and old talent in the next two days from New York City to Los Angeles.

Las Vegas speedster Devin Haney (22-0, 14 KOs) headlines a Matchroom Boxing card at Madison Square Theater in Manhattan when he fights Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev (11-0, 7 KOs) on Friday Sept. 13. DAZN will stream the boxing card live.

Dripping with talent, Haney has passed all of the tests so far in his brief and meteoric career including rumbling with Mexican tough guys like Juan Carlos Burgos and obliterating Antonio Moran.

But like all prospects and young contenders, the big question always is can he take a punch?

Abdullaev only has 11 fights and though he has seven knockouts, he has yet to face quality opposition. But his backers say he can fight and that’s all anyone can hope to see.

The fight native New Yorkers and followers of the female fight world want to see is the world title clash between Brooklyn’s undefeated Heather Hardy (22-0, 4 KOs) defending the WBO featherweight strap against Brooklyn’s Amanda Serrano (36-1-1, 27 KOs) in a 10 round semi-main event. It’s going to be a dog fight.

The WBC Diamond belt will be another reward for the winner. Both girls will be tested for PEDs in accordance with WBC rules. For years female prizefighters were virtually untested.

Los Angeles – Munguia, Ryan Garcia and Franchon

WBO super welterweight titlist Jaime Munguia (33-0, 26 KOs) of Mexico meets Ghana’s Patrick Alottey (40-3, 30 KOs) in a world title challenge on Saturday Sept. 14, at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. This Golden Boy Promotions card will be part of the Mexican Independence Day weekend celebration and also Munguia’s last foray in the 154-pound weight class.

Munguia’s lack of defense has made every fight a 50/50 proposition and even this fight against the shorter Alottey could test the Mexican’s chin. The Ghanaian fighter has 30 knockouts on his resume with all wins taking place in Africa.

Ryan “The Flash” Garcia will bring his army of fans to the outdoor arena once again. The last time he fought at Dignity Health Sports Park it was called the StubHub Center and he slugged it out with the very tough Puerto Rican Jayson Velez in May 2018. That night the slender fighter won by decision.

For about a year Garcia has been working under the tutelage of Eddy Reynoso in San Diego and the change was immediately visible. The head trainer for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has tweaked Garcia’s defense and head movement. He has also polished the vast offensive weaponry the 21-year-old possesses. He’s still learning.

Garcia (18-0, 15 KOs) faces Philadelphia’s Avery Sparrow (10-1, 3 KOs) who walked into a press conference in the Golden Boy Building with singing artist Usher. The big question most are asking is if Usher will be present at the fight on Saturday. That’s not Garcia’s query.

“Avery can fight and he’s got skills. He’s no pushover,” said Garcia, adding that the lightweight division is growing with young budding talent. “The new generation is here with Teofimo (Lopez), Devin (Haney), I’m excited and want to be in the best fights to show that I belong with these other fighters.”

Also on the boxing card will be women’s WBC super middleweight titlist Franchon Crews (5-1) who was scheduled to face WBC heavyweight world titlist Alejandra Jimenez who was dropping down in weight for the fight. But the Mexican fighter was allegedly unable to obtain a visa and could possibly be replaced by former foe Maricela Cornejo (13-3, 5 KOs).

Crews defeated the classy Cornejo for the world title a year ago in Las Vegas and the Mexican middleweight had sought a rematch. Cornejo was recently posting photos of herself in Israel on her social media accounts. If she does accept the fight it definitely shows Cornejo has confidence and that’s a big plus. One of the remarkable things from their first fight was watching Cornejo clapping and congratulating Crews in earnest after their fight. It was a sincere gesture and made me appreciate Cornejo even more.

Las Vegas – Fury, Navarrete

England’s Tyson Fury, the lineal heavyweight world champion, meets Sweden’s Otto Wallin in a battle of undefeated heavyweights at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday Sept. 14. ESPN will show and stream the Top Rank fight card.

Fury (28-0-1, 20 KOs) who defeated Wladimir Klitschko for all of the titles back in November 2015, then dropped out of the boxing world for a few years. He has returned to activity and is changing the boxing landscape with both his charisma and fighting skills. His fight against Deontay Wilder last December was one of the more memorable heavyweight world title fights in the last 30 years.

Wallin (20-0, 13 KOs) is a southpaw who can crack as almost all heavyweights can. He’s represented by Mark Taffet, the former HBO executive who leads the career of female star Claressa Shields. That should say a lot about the big Swede’s talent.

Also on the card is Emanuel Navarrete (28-1, 24 KOs), the WBO super bantamweight titlist who fought just last month in Los Angeles against Francisco De Vaca and knocked him out in three rounds. He defeated Isaac Dogboe for the title last December and then stopped him in the rematch last May. He’s an angular looking fighter with long arms, incredible stamina and knockout power. He will be meeting Juan Miguel Elorde (28-1, 15 KOs) of the Philippines in another world title fight.

Fights to Watch

Fri. 6 p.m. PT DAZN – Devin Haney (22-0) vs Zaur Abdullaev (11-0), Heather Hardy (22-0) vs Amanda Serrano (36-1-1).

Sat. 3:30 p.m. PT DAZN – Jaime Munguia (33-0) vs Patrick Alottey (40-3), Ryan Garcia (18-0) vs Avery Sparrow (10-1), Franchon Crews (5-1) vs Maricela Cornejo (13-3).

Sat. 4:30 p.m. PT ESPN+ – Tyson Fury (28-0-1) vs Otto Wallin (20-0), Emanuel Navarrete (28-1) vs Juan Miguel Elorde (28-1).

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom Boxing

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