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Ronny Rios Shocks Diego De La Hoya in L.A. Fight Card

David A. Avila

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CARSON, Calif.-It was a night of upsets on a summer eve.

Ronny Rios toppled Diego De La Hoya in a super bantamweight showdown while another super bantamweight scrap saw WBC titlist Rey Vargas manage to hang onto his strap in a close 12-round affair on Saturday.

Upsets and reversal of fortunes were the name of the game for the more than 2,000 fans at the Dignity Health Sports Park. The Golden Boy Promotions fight card featured a pair of upsets and one near derailment. The fight card was streamed on DAZN.

None was more shocking than the showdown between two longtime members of the Golden Boy team, Rios and De La Hoya.

Santa Ana’s Rios (31-3, 15 KOs) walked into the ring happily as the underdog and it proved beneficial as he handed Diego De La Hoya (21-1, 10 KOs) his first pro loss and by knockout in their 12-round featherweight fight.

De La Hoya was the big favorite to remain undefeated on his quest to a world title but Rios snatched that opportunity away with a gritty example of trench warfare. Even more surprising was the end that came by knockout. Rios is not a big puncher and De La Hoya is known for his ability to take a blow like his older cousin and boss Oscar De La Hoya.

But not on this night.

Rios had lost his one and only world title opportunity when he fought Rey Vargas two years ago in this same venue. Before walking into the boxing ring on Saturday he had promised to show what he can really do as the underdog.

“I love being the underdog,” Rios said on Wednesday.

On Saturday he showed why underdog status was an advantage as he caught De La Hoya repeatedly with left hooks and right uppercuts. That same combination put De La Hoya down for the first time in his career. He could not continue and referee Rudy Barragan stopped the fight at 1:17 of the sixth round. It gives Rios the win by knockout and the NABF super bantamweight title.

“I saw a lot of tape and noticed he has a really high guard. It leaves him open to the body. We were working on that in the gym a lot. Honestly, it was shock. I didn’t know he was going down,” said Rios. “I know Diego, he is a warrior and he’s never been down.”

De La Hoya was gracious in defeat.

“I didn’t feel well. I didn’t feel right,” said De La Hoya. “You have to accept the losses just like you accept the wins.”

Rey Vargas

WBC super bantamweight world titlist Rey Vargas (34-0, 22 KOs) had his hands full with Japan’s Tomoki Kameda (36-3, 20 KOs) who showed up with plenty of Mexican and Japanese fans and plenty of tricks in his bag. But Vargas was able to hit and hold his way to another victory despite the fan outcry that saw the judges favor Vargas with a unanimous decision.

The taller Vargas used his height, speed and reach to keep the fight on the outside. But Kameda, who trains in Mexico, had other thoughts and used his quickness and hand speed to connect with telling blows throughout. He was especially effective with wide left hooks and overhand rights.

Kameda tried for most of the fight to get inside and  engage in close, but every time he got inside the reach of Vargas the Mexican fighter would grab hold of the Japanese fighter. Despite constantly using this illegal tactic referees seem to ignore the egregious  use of holding so Vargas continues to use it.

In the final round as Kameda tried valiantly to get inside, Vargas held him again and as the referee Jerry Cantu tried to break the stranglehold Kameda connected with a blow that buckled the Mexican fighter. The referee deducted a point from Kameda for the hit during the break but never warned Vargas for holding in any round of the fight.

“I believe that he won the fight tonight and I respect him as a champion. He won,” said Kameda. “I need to learn and to practice more in order to get another chance to be champion again.”

Hundreds of fans booed the announcement declaring Vargas the winner by unanimous decision, 117-110 on all three cards. Also in the audience was WBA and IBF super bantamweight titlist Danny Roman.

Vargas spotted him and asked for a unification match.

“You know when a Mexican fights another Mexican, it’s a war,” said Vargas to Roman.

Not when a fighter holds as much as Vargas.

 Joet Gonzalez

After several years of eyeing each other as prospects Joet Gonzalez (23-0, 14 KOs) battered Manuel Avila (23-2-1, 8 KOs) to win by knockout once he got going. Ultimately the Glendora, California featherweight used a relentless attack to surprisingly force referee Jose Cobian to end the fight at 2:27 of round six.

Avila started quickly in the fight with his speed and movement as Gonzalez patiently stalked the Northern California fighter. Occasionally Gonzalez fired a lead right to the head or body but allowed Avila to take the lead in their dance.

In the third round Gonzalez took over the fight and began pressuring Avila behind a tight guard and unleashed a five-punch combination that caught Avila’s attention with the impact and accuracy. A strong left jab and a right cross connected solidly for Gonzalez at the end of the round.

For the next three rounds Gonzalez grabbed total control of the fight and cut off all escape routes for Avila. A six-punch barrage ended with a right uppercut and Avila’s face looked bruised and swollen. Gonzalez did not ease up on the pedal and kept Avila on his back foot. A left to the body and several blows up and down saw Avila lower his head and then go down. Gonzalez had leaned on his head so referee Jose Cobian ruled it a push down but Avila was surprised by the referee’s decision. He got up and Gonzalez attacked again and with another four-punch combination put Avila down on the floor for a knockdown. Avila got up but looked bewildered.

Gonzalez allowed a couple of quick one-two combinations by Avila in the sixth round then pummeled him relentlessly until the referee stopped the fight at 2:27 of the sixth round. Gonzalez now holds both the WBO Global and WBA Continental Americas featherweight titles.

“I am not like these cherry pickers. I will fight the best and beat the best. I just want the champions,” said Gonzalez.

Another Upset

Within seconds of the opening bell, both Venezuela’s Roger Gutierrez (22-3-1, 19 KOs) and Mexico’s Rocky Hernandez (28-1, 25 KOs) were bloodied from each other’s blows. By 2:39 after some brutal exchanges Gutierrez connected with a right cross and floored the shorter Hernandez. Though he tried mightily to get up, Hernandez just couldn’t master his balance and tumbled downward. Referee Rudy Barragan waved the fight over.

Alexis Rocha (14-0, 9 KOs) of Santa Ana, Calif. pounded out a victory by knockout in the eighth round over Puerto Rico’s Berlin Abreu (14-3, 11 KOs) in a welterweight fight. Referee Jack Reiss stopped the fight at 2:56 of round eight. Rocha is the younger brother of Ronny Rios.

Kazakhstan’s Ruslan Madiyev (13-1, 5 KOs) out-fought Ricky Sismundo (35-14-3, 17 KOs) of the Philippines to win by unanimous decision after eight rounds in a super lightweight bout.

Jousce Gonzalez (9-0-1, 9 KOs) of Glendora, Calif. knocked out Mexico’s Jorge Padron (3-4, 3 KOs) at 2:15 of the second round in their lightweight match. Gonzalez is the younger brother of Joet Gonzalez.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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

Arne K. Lang

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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.

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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

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.

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

David A. Avila

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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).

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