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Jermall Charlo Defeats Brandon Adams in Soldout Houston Homecoming

Kelsey McCarson

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Jermall Charlo’s Houston homecoming at NRG Arena went longer than most people probably expected it would. Still, in the end, the local champ earned the hard-fought unanimous decision victory over Brandon Adams, 29, from Los Angeles, in front of a soldout crowd of 6,408.

Judges at ringside scored it 119-109, 120-109 and 120-108 for Charlo. 

No longer known as the other Charlo, Jermall put his interim—err—suddenly very full WBC world middleweight title on the line in the fight. It was the long-awaited Houston return bout for Charlo, 29, who although one minute older than his identical twin brother, Jermell, had gotten a little slower out of the professional gate than did his sibling. 

Charlo stayed behind his jab during the first round. He didn’t land it with any regularity, but his significant longer reach and greater height kept Adams from doing anything but ducking and dodging early besides the occasional looping roundhouse from long distance.

Perhaps secure in his superiority after the first three minutes, Charlo pressed more for an opening against Adams in round two. Charlo’s crosses and uppercuts were full for steam, but artful dodging by Adams kept the challenger safe from harm. 

Adams did his best to make a fight of it in round three. Charlo threw and landed more punches, but Adams made him miss more than perhaps he was accustomed to doing and even managed to corral Charlo to the ropes where his shorter body might give him an edge. But Charlo’s uppercuts and hooks were fast and vicious, so mostly Adams had just put himself in harm’s way.

Still, it was his only chance, so Adams pressed more in the next round. The action heated up because of the closer quarters, with Charlo’s more powerful and precise punches probably taking the nod. 

They traded overhand rights to start round five. Charlo had Adams dazed in the corner soon after, but the brave boulder of a man got his wits about him and made it through the stanza. 

Charlo is a sharp, powerful and ruthless puncher. A right uppercut, left hook combination put Adams in trouble in round six, but his craft earned him some respect when he dazed Charlo with a hard hook and put the Houstonian’s backs to the ropes toward the end of the round.

But Adams main problem was that whenever Charlo kept him on the end of his longer punches, which was the majority of round seven, there wasn’t much Adams could do to stop it. Sure, he’d lob the occasional hard and awkward counter, but Charlo constantly got the better of things and was always looking to land the telling blow. 

Still, the saving grace for Adams was that for all the physical advantages Charlo had, the hometown fighter wasn’t accurate enough. Credit should be given to Adams perhaps for his quick movement, but it might also be true that Charlo was pressing a bit in an effort to impress the local crowd. 

That showed itself again in the ninth round when Charlo let loose a five-punch combination that Adams deftly avoided in his corner. Adams urged Charlo to bring more pressure, but Charlo was wise to Adams’ attempt at finding a counter opportunity and moved away.

By round ten, it seemed clear the fight would go the distance. Charlo was aggressive in all the right ways, but Adams had too much craft for Charlo to land very many punches clean enough to get the stoppage. Even in round ten, when Charlo seemed to daze Adams, the stocky fighter was able to stem the tide by constantly leaning away from Charlo’s power. 

Charlo did his best to end things early in round eleven with vicious combinations to the head and body, but Adams was just too tough. By the final round, Charlo seemed mostly content to take the win on the judges’ scorecards, a virtual certainty at this point, even in the topsy turvy world of professional boxing. 

Back in 2012 when I first met Jermall, Charlo was undefeated and talented, but he didn’t have a manager or promoter yet. Where Jermell already had twice as many fights on his ledger, as well as a manager, Al Haymon, and a promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, the other Charlo had pretty much nothing going his way except that he seemed to have a place to train at Plex in Houston under the guidance of trainer Ronnie Shields and he appeared to have what it takes physically to make it in the gritty world of professional boxing. 

But something always stood out about Jermall. Maybe it was just that he seemed to be working so hard in the gym every single time I saw him. Where other local fighters I’ve covered over the years in the Houston area usually succumb to the natural apathy that comes with not having a fight coming up soon, Charlo was always in the gym working, sparring and learning as if he did.

So seven years later, that Jermall is now an undefeated two-division world champion with at least a credible path toward megafights against the likes of former unified middleweight king Gennady Golovkin or current lineal champ Canelo Alvarez comes to no surprise to this writer. 

Whether he’ll stay at or near the top of the divisional mountain remains to be seen, but Charlo’s steady rise from relative obscurity should not go unnoticed in the sport. 

Lubin Stops Attou at 154

Erickson Lubin, 23, from Florida, stopped French fighter Zakaria Attou in just four rounds in a junior middleweight scrap that kept Lubin in line for another world title opportunity. Lubin looked electric in the fight, something he’s appeared to be in every outing except one. 

Two years ago, Lubin looked a bit green (or maybe just super unlucky) when he was knocked out by Jermell Charlo in the first round for Charlo’s WBC junior middleweight title.

One wonders what it was like for Lubin to share the card with Jermell’s identical twin brother, Jermall. Was it hard for him to see the same face of the man who so quickly and thoroughly dispatched him of his world championship dreams with one big punch? 

If it did bother him, he certainly didn’t show it against Attou. From the very start of the fight, Lubin was landing hard punches to Attou’s head and body. The Frenchmen moved away, trying to counter, but Lubin was just too sharp for Attou to handle. 

It didn’t help Attou that he injured his right bicep in the bout. Still, even if he had the use of two good arms, this fight probably wouldn’t have lasted much longer than it did. 

Lubin punched him into just about every corner of the ring during every round of the fight. By round four, Lubin had hurt him enough to send him down to the canvas for good. At that point, the fight was mercifully halted by Attou’s corner. 

If there’s anything to criticize about Lubin, it’s that he only really looks for one punch at a time. But at least in that, Lubin is almost always standing flatfooted and throwing with tons of power. He’s fast, He’s athletic. He’s powerful. He’s probably the best fighter in the world right now who has been recently knocked out in the first round. Lubin looks legit. 

Take that one performance away, and Lubin would likely be considered a certain bet to someday win a world championship. Even with that loss, he probably should be anyway. 

Marrero Defeats Ramirez in Featherweight Bout

Claudio Marrero, 30, from the Dominican Republic defeated Eduardo Ramirez, 26, from Mexico, by unanimous decision for a secondary WBA featherweight title. 

The bout was billed as an eliminator bout in the featherweight division, meaning the winner of the fight might theoretically be on his way to facing either regular WBA titleholder Xu Can or super champion Leo Santa Cruz.

But knowing the history of the WBA’s political machinations, which sometimes resembles a sidewalk shell game, the only substantial prize absolutley on the line in the bout (besides what they were paid in money) was probably just pride, and both fighters seemed eager to earn the respect of the other. 

Ramirez was the mover in the bout. He backpedaled from the start trying to get his punches off, while Marrero came forward behind concise footwork and a good jab. 

Ramirez’s main weapon was the right hook from a southpaw stance, though he sometimes would change his footing to get better angles for punches out of an orthodox stance. Marrero ate that hook more than he probably liked, but he also slipped them often enough to employ a sharp one-two, his lead being the right-hand because he was also a southpaw. 

The fight boiled down to Marrero just possessing a slightly higher level of quality, something Ramirez just couldn’t match. He was faster, slicker and the better athlete. Both fighters left their marks on each other, but by the end of the fight it was clear Marrero was the winner. 

Judges at ringside scored the bout 116-112, 115-113 and 118-110 for Marrero, who was jubilant in victory and happy to wear the WBA gold belt around his waist no matter what we in the media think about such things. 

Flores Stops May in Five Rounds at Junior Lightweight

Junior lightweight Miguel Flores stopped Mexico’s Luis May in the fifth round of a scheduled 10-round junior lightweight scrap. 

Born in Mexico, Flores, 26, now lives in Houston and trains at the same place where 140-pound titleholder Regis Prograis does his thing, the Main Street Boxing & Muay Thai gym. Flores is trained by local stalwart Arron Navarro who is one of Main Street’s mainstay cornermen alongside local legend Bobby Benton.  

Flores is now on a two-fight winning streak after suffering consecutive stoppage losses in 2017 to Dat Nguyen and Chis Avalos, just around the time his handlers were talking about their fighter maybe getting a world title opportunity. 

But Flores seems to be back on track. He kept his 35-year-old opponent at the end of his longer and snappier punches right from the opening bell, hurting him on occasion but not quite able to put him away until May’s corner threw in the towel at 1:33 of the fifth round. 

Despite the unexpected losses two years ago, Flores has continued to work and improve, perhaps because he doesn’t just fight for himself, but also for his late brother and role model, Benjamin, who tragically died from injuries suffered inside a ring three months prior to Flores making his own professional debut back in 2009.

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Jaron Ennis KOs Sergey Lipinets and Other Results from the Mohegan Sun

David A. Avila

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Philly is on the up. Again.

Jaron “Boots” Ennis kicked his stature into another gear with an impressive knockout of former world champion Sergey Lipinets on Saturday.

“It’s on the up now for bigger and better fights,” said Ennis.

Those Philly fighters know how to do it.

Before a small audience Philadelphia’s Ennis (27-0, 25 KOs) showed that he’s ready for the elite level class by dominating the always tough Lipinets (16-2-1, 12 KOs) at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn.

Is there any other American welter looking for action?

Ennis walked into the arena with all of the physical advantages, but experience can be a tricky matter in the fight game. Lipinets was ready to provide the lesson.

For the first two rounds Ennis used his superior reach, height and speed to keep the former super lightweight world titlist from entering his domain. The Philly fighter wacked at the Russian fighter’s body and head while taking minimal return fire.

Lipinets finally found his way inside and both fighters traded big blows. A wicked right uppercut by Ennis connected and Lipinets bounced a right cross on the Philly fighter. Both absorbed the big blows with little effect.

Still, Ennis was winning all of the rounds and Lipinets realized that maintaining the status quo was not doing him any good. He increased his attack and slipped on Ennis foot and went down. It was incorrectly ruled a knockdown by the referee but it was the least of the Russian fighter’s problems.

Both fighters attacked the body but Lipinets shot one far below the belt and the fight was stopped for a moment. Lipinets was warned. Both went into attack inside and it seemed to be Lipinets best round. He seemed to find his way back into a groove.

“I saw he wasn’t as skilled on the inside as I was so that’s when I started getting a little closer,” Ennis said.

Ennis may have realized that Lipinets had a good round and he wasn’t about to allow another. As the two fighters re-engaged in their war inside, Ennis connected with a right hook to the chin and a left uppercut finished the job. Down went Lipinets and referee Arthur Mercante waved off the fight at 2:11 of the sixth round without a count.

“We worked on a lot of power shots and a lot of speed. That’s what we did,” said Ennis. “Everything is all natural.”

The impressive knockout of Lipinets proved that Ennis has more than enough ability to hang with the best welterweights around.

“Maybe one of the guys will want to fight me. Who knows?”, said Ennis.

Other Bouts

IBF super flyweight titlist Jerwin Ancajas (33-1-2, 22 KOs) floored Mexico’s Jonathan Rodriquez (22-2, 16 KOs) and hammered out a win by unanimous decision. But it wasn’t an easy fight. It never is when you put the Philippines versus Mexico.

Ancajas needed the win to keep his name handy for a possible match in the now heated super flyweight division that features Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman Gonzalez, and Carlos Cuadras.

A battle between welterweight contenders saw Eimantis Stanionis (13-0) power his way to a unanimous decision win after 12 rounds versus Thomas Dulorme (25-5-1).

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Fast Results from Tulsa: Joe Smith Jr Nips Vlasov, Wins WBO Title

Arne K. Lang

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Joe Smith Jr had to dig down deep to upend Russian veteran Maxim Vlasov, but pulled the fight out of the fire with a late rally to capture the vacant WBO light heavyweight title before a sold-out crowd of 500 masked-up fight fans at Tulsa’s Osage Casino. Smith prevailed by a majority decision. One of the judges had it a draw (114-114), but he was overruled by his cohorts who each turned in tallies of 115-113.

Smith, the quintessential blue-collar fighter, suffered a cut above his left eye in the first round and it troubled him throughout. Vlasov fought a smart fight, out-working the more one-dimensional Smith in most of the rounds, but a cut inside his mouth and Smith’s body punches eventually took their toll. Smith had a strong seventh round but Vlasov recaptured the lead only to let it slip away in a good action fight. There were no knockdowns, but Vlasov went down in the 11th from a punch that landed behind his head, an illegal punch, hence no knockdown.

Smith Jr improved to 27-3 and earned a date with WBC/IBF champion Artur Beterbiev. Vlasov, whose effort commanded a rematch that won’t happen — at least not any time soon — falls to 45-4. All four of the Russian’s losses have come on U.S. soil, two right here in Tulsa where Vlasov was out-pointed by future world title challenger Isaac Chilemba way back in 2011.

The were nine bouts in all the card, the majority of which were intended to showcase up-and-coming heavyweights. The result was a predictable slew of quick stoppages, resulting in plenty of dead time between bouts.

The match between Efe Ajagba and Brian Howard was packaged as the co-feature. Ajagba had been less than impressive in some of his recent starts, but tonight the 6-foot-6 former Olympian for Nigeria scored a devastating one-punch knockout to restore whatever luster he may have lost. The lightning bolt came at the 1:29 mark of round three. Howard was unconscious before he hit the canvas. Ajagba advanced to 15-0 with his 12th knockout. Howard declined to 15-5.

Other Bouts

In the last of the seven preliminary fights on ESPN’s subscription channel, Jared Anderson improved to 9-0 (9) with a second-round stoppage of West Virginia southpaw Jeremiah Karpency. The gifted 21-year-old Anderson, from Toledo, Ohio, scored two knockdowns with hard body shots before the bout was halted after only 38 seconds of the second round. The grossly overmatched Karpency was 16-2-1 heading in.

Local fan favorite Trey Lippe Morrison advanced his record to 17-0 with his 17th knockout, stopping 36-year-old Alabama journeyman Jason Bergman (27-20-2) in the third frame. Bergman came to fight and actually scored a knockdown in the opening round that the ref erroneously called a push. Fighting with his back against the ropes, Bergman landed a left that knocked Morrison off his pins.

It was a quirky knockout, coming at the 1:27 mark of round three when Bergman rolled his ankle while throwing an errant punch. He fell to the canvas in obvious pain and the bout was stopped. Bergman had lost seven of his last nine coming in, but was meeting an undefeated opponent for the fifth straight time.

Tulsa native Jeremiah Milton (3-0, 3 KOs) had a successful homecoming, bombing out Mississippi’s Jayvone Dafney in the first round. An overhand right by Milton left Dafney out on his feet with his back pinned against the ropes. Milton, realizing that his opponent was seriously hurt, held back, waiting for the referee to intervene. The time was 1:19.

In the ESPN+ opener, Philadelphia’s Sonny Conto (7-0, 6 KOs) returned after a 15-month absence and dismissed paunchy Waldo Cortes in the opening round. Conto put Cortes (6-4) down for the 10-count with a perfectly placed right hand. The official time was 1:41.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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Conor Benn Embarrasses His Detractors, Demolishes Vargas in 80 Seconds

Arne K. Lang

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Conor Benn fought Samuel Vargas in London today (Saturday, April 10). Although Benn was a solid favorite, he was stepping up in class. Vargas, a 31-year-old Canadian via Columbia, brought a 31-6-2 record. He had been in with the likes of Errol Spence Jr and Danny Garcia and had extended Amir Khan 12 rounds on Khan’s turf in Manchester.

Vargas’s best days were behind him , but the prevailing sentiment was that he would make it interesting, likely taking the fight into the late rounds and perhaps lasting the distance. So much for prevailing sentiment. Benn walked right through him. Vargas couldn’t cope with Benn’s superior speed. He was being battered against the ropes and offering nothing in return when referee Michael Alexander stepped in and waived it off. It was all over in 80 seconds. Benn improved to 18-0 with his 12th win inside the distance.

Benn, 24, is the son of Nigel Benn, a former two-division world champion who was one of England’s most celebrated fighters. Conor had a brief amateur career in Australia before turning pro at age 19 in London, the city of his birth. While his record is unblemished, it would be incorrect to say that he passed every test as he was climbing the ladder. His first fight with Cedric Peynaud, a marginally skilled Frenchman, has haunted him.

Benn was knocked down twice in the opening round, but scored two knockdowns of his own late in the 6-round fight and was awarded the decision. Peynaud brought a 5-4-3 record and to say that Conor’s performance was underwhelming would be an understatement. At the finish, his right eye was badly swollen.

Scott Gilfoid offered up the most damning criticism: “To say that Benn looked poor tonight is being kind. He was absolutely horrible….The flaws that I saw in Benn’s game tonight are ones that likely won’t go away anytime soon….His performance has to be viewed as a warning sign that he’s not destined to go far in the sport like his famous father.”

Benn and Peynaud fought on Dec. 13, 2017. This was Benn’s 12th pro fight. He had one more bout under his belt before he and the Frenchman had another go at it. The rematch, scheduled for 10 rounds, took place on July 28, 2018, on a show headlined by the heavyweight match between Dillian Whyte and Joseph Parker.

Benn knocked Peynaud down three times but couldn’t finish him. However, the outcome was never in doubt. He won by scores of 98-90 and 98-91 twice.

Trevor McIntyre, a stablemate of the aforementioned Scott Gilfoid (rumor has it that Gilfoid and McIntyre are the same person, and that both are aliases of the owner of the web site where their bylines appear) conceded that Benn showed improvement, but was otherwise unimpressed: “(He) still looked like someone that would be blown away by a halfway decent journeyman fighter….Benn’s defense was leaky, his hand speed slow, and his movements looked uncoordinated throughout.”

Benn’s most recent fight before tonight came against Sebastian Formella, a sturdy but feather-fisted German who was coming off a 12-round defeat to Shawn Porter, a bout in which he showed great heart but won nary a round. Benn won lopsidedly. The scorecards read 100-91, 99-91, and 98-92.

The mysterious Barry Holbrook, whose byline appears at the same web site as Gilfoid and McIntyre, acknowledged that Benn proved some of his doubters wrong, but wrote that “a top welterweight like Errol Spence, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Terence Crawford, or Vergil Ortiz Jr would have knocked him out. If they didn’t score a knockout, they would have battered him to the point where the referee would have needed to stop it.”

The respected British scribe Ron Lewis offered a different take: “(Conor) looked a completely changed fighter from the wild youngster of his early professional career, switching well from head to body, being patient, and picking his spots well.” Lewis did not speculate how Benn would have fared against some of the division’s top guns, but certainly hinted that Nigel’s son could become a factor in what is currently a very strong welterweight division.

As today’s showing proved, Mr. Lewis is a more perceptive observer than his counterpart(s) at the web site where Benn has been repeatedly ‘dissed. Nigel’s son has made enormous strides in the last few years. He’s also an interesting character. Having spent much of his formative years living on the Spanish island of Majorca, he’s fluent in Spanish which is always a useful attribute from a marketing standpoint. But as for how good he is, let’s not jump to conclusions, mindful that Samuel Vargas was on the wrong side of the curve, having lost three of his last five heading in.

The question doesn’t yet have a definitive answer, but tonight in London, Conor Benn was very good, very very good.

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