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The Avila Perspective, Chap 66: Can Spence-Porter equal De La Hoya-Mosley?

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The Avila Perspective, Chap 66: Can Spence-Porter equal De La Hoya-Mosley?

LOS ANGELES-Nearly 20 years ago one of the best welterweight world title fights and pay-per-view cards ever held in Los Angeles took place at the Staples Center.

Can this Saturday’s fight card be even better?

When IBF titlist Errol Spence Jr. (25-0, 21 KOs) steps in the boxing ring against WBC titlist Shawn Porter (30-2-1, 17 KOs) in a welterweight unification match on Saturday Sept. 28, can they rival one of the great welterweight cards ever held in Los Angeles?

It’s going to be difficult to equal what many consider the best welterweight clash in the history of Los Angeles.

Back on June 17, 2000, welterweight kingpins Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley lit up Staples Center in a crosstown L.A. rivalry that has never been equaled. It was the first championship fight ever held in that arena and though the supporting pay-per-view card featured a young Diego Corrales and Erik Morales, it was heavily reliant on the two local stars.

Celebrities like Muhammad Ali, Halle Berry and Jack Nicholson clamored for tickets to see “the Golden Boy” De La Hoya and “Sugar Shane” Mosley. For fans in attendance, half of the enjoyment was watching the stars stroll in one by one.

Even after the fights, people on the streets or at West L.A.’s Fatburger wanted to know who won the fight.

It’s a different scenario this Saturday.

PBC

Both Spence and Porter come from other states, but they are not alone on this mega boxing card that flaunts several 50/50 matchups.

Premier Boxing Champion has an army of talented prizefighters and for years seemed to keep them from fighting each other. Well, now the gloves are off and within the past 12 months PBC, as it’s known, has presented several strong pay-per-view cards. This is possibly the best of them all.

Spence recently defeated fellow pound-for-pound fighter Mikey Garcia in a welterweight world title fight last March in Dallas, Texas. It was his first pay-per-view fight and sparked interest in the left-handed welterweight kingpin.

“I feel like all of my fights prepared me for this moment. Porter is not like Mikey Garcia. They have different styles and different mentalities,” said Spence at the press conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Porter captured the WBC title with a withering battle against former titleholder Danny “Swift” Garcia a year ago in Brooklyn. The always punching and moving fighter has been tabbed a major 8-1 underdog against Spence.

“Being in the underdog position is literally where I come from. Northeast Ohio is always an underdog. Everybody works where I come from. We always do the best we can,” said Porter who hails from Akron, Ohio but now lives in Las Vegas.

The undefeated Spence feels he cannot be beaten.

“I’m going to win and do it in dominating fashion,” said Spence, 29, whose last fight was six months ago.

Porter doesn’t think so.

“Everyone has seen everything what I’ve done in my career. Everyone knows I can take a punch and I’ll be there from the first round to the last round,” said Porter, 31. “We’ll see what happens to Errol as the fight goes on.”

It’s the main event but several other fights on the pay-per-view card deserve mention.

Dirrell Family vs Benavidez Family

Both Anthony Dirrell and David Benavidez come from strong fighting families.

Dirrell hails from Flint, Michigan. He and his brother Andre Dirrell have been ranked contenders for more than a decade.

Benavidez comes from Phoenix, Arizona and he and his older brother Jose Benavidez are part of the reason the city has become a burgeoning location for boxing talent.

On Saturday both boxing families meet head to head with the WBC super middleweight world title the prize.

Ironically, Benavidez held the title but was stripped of the belt when he failed a PED test. Now he gets the opportunity to reclaim it from Dirrell who grabbed it with a technical decision win over Turkey’s Avni Yildirim this past February. An accidental clash of heads forced the fight to be cut short and Dirrell was ruled the winner according to the score cards.

Both see each other as pretender champions.

“It’s an honor to be in this position. It’s a dream to be on a card like this defending my title,” said Dirrell who is making the first defense of the WBC title. “Experience is definitely a big key in this fight. I think that he has holes in his game and I’m going to expose it on Saturday night.”

Benavidez, 22, first won the WBC super middleweight title in September 2017 when he was still 20 years old. He was stripped of the title when he was found with traces of an illegal substance by VADA.

“I have another opportunity to not just get a title, but take it from a champion. I’ve worked very hard for this fight. Dirrell has never been knocked out and I’m taking the challenge to be the man who does it,” said Benavidez.

Super Lightweight Title

San Antonio’s Mario Barrios (24-0) has been ruining opponents so far and finally gets a shot at the vacant WBA super lightweight world title. Standing in his way will be Batyr Akhmedov (7-0, 6 KOs), a Russian fighter with plenty of weapons.

Up until now the tall Barrios has defeated solid competition including wins over Jose Roman and Juan Jose Velasco. But this time he’s got a very strong opponent worthy of fighting for the world title.

Akhmedov trains in Indio, California with Joel and Antonio Diaz. Out in the Coachella desert area, the Russian fighter has been sparring with tough opposition and has been waiting for an opportunity just like this.

Expect a solid war between the two.

Trainer Joel Diaz says Akhmedov has outstanding talent.

Josesito, Molina and Ghost return

The welterweight clash between Josesito Lopez and John Molina could be the fight of the night. Also on the card will be Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, a former top pound for pound fighter who seems ready to return to the forefront.

Guerrero (35-6-1, 20 KOs) meets Kansas welterweight Gerald Thomas (14-1-1, 8 KOs) in a bout set for 10 rounds. It’s a match designed to see if Guerrero has returned to championship form.

“He needed a little time off,” said Ruben Guerrero, father of Robert Guerrero. “He looks really good and strong. You will see.”

It’s a lengthy fight card featuring plenty of prospects, contenders and world champions. It’s probably the best pay-per-view card of the year.

Can it match De La Hoya-Mosley for best welterweight pay-per-view fight card ever staged in Los Angeles? We shall see on Saturday.

Suggested price for Fox PPV: $74.99

Doors open at 1 p.m. Tickets range from $61 to $659.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel  

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Boxing Odds and Ends: A Travesty of a Heavyweight ‘Title Fight’ Jake Paul and More

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It’s official. On Wednesday, Feb. 22, a formal press conference was held in Sofia, Bulgaria, to announce the forthcoming fight between Mahmoud Charr, formerly known as Manuel Charr, and Kubrat Pulev. They will meet in Bulgaria’s capital city on March 30 at a 12,000-seat arena.

Charr vs Kubrat bears the imprimatur of a world heavyweight title fight (WBA version). Charr is considered the champion, notwithstanding the fact that others have held the title since he first laid claim to it more than six years ago.

The WBA, as we know, recognizes two champions in some weight classes, a “super” champion and a “regular” champion. The “super” designation was created in 2000. It was designed to segregate title-holders into levels of accomplishment. In theory, a “super” champion has made five successful defenses and is recognized as a world title-holder by at least one of the three other major sanctioning bodies. “Super” champions are allowed certain liberties with respect to mandatory title defenses.

The bifurcation was greeted with hoots of derision. The Panama-based WBA trivialized the sport.

Mahmoud Charr

Mahmoud Charr was born in Beirut but has resided in Germany since he was a little boy. He won the vacant title with a 12-round decision over unexceptional Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany.  It was a close fight. TSS ringside correspondent Phil Woolever had Ustinov winning 7 rounds to 5, but conceded that the verdict could not be called an injustice.

The title that Charr won was vacated by Ruslan Chagaev who won the belt from Fres Oquendo, lost it to Lucas Browne, and got it back by decree when Browne’s post-fight urine tests showed evidence of banned substances. But Chagaev never fought again. His fight with Browne was his last.

Charr’s first defense was to come against Fres Oquendo. Slated for March 23, 2019 in Cologne after being pushed back from September of the previous year, the match never came to fruition when Charr tested positive for two banned substances. Things get really muddled from here with Charr pushed to the sideline by legal battles complicated by Don King’s shenanigans. King arranged a fight in Florida between Charr and his fighter Trevor Bryan and succeeded in getting Bryan the WBA belt when Charr was unable to get a visa. The belt is vacant again after Bryan was knocked out by Daniel Dubois who, in turn, was knocked out by “super” champion Oleksandr Usyk.

There are more threads to this saga but let’s not go there. Suffice it to say that after defeating Ustinov, Charr was out of action for the next three-and-a-half years. He’s had only three fights since 2017 and to say that his opponents were men of low repute would be giving them the best of it. In his most recent assignment, in December of 2022, he scored a second-round stoppage over 46-year-old Swiss-Albanian slug Nuri Seferi. That brought his record to 34-4 (20). He has been stopped three times, most recently in 2015 when he was halted in five frames by future cruiserweight champion Maris Briedis.

Kubrat Pulev

Kubrat Pulev will have the home field advantage in Sofia. Charr will have youth on his side. He’s 39; Pulev is 42.

Pulev sports a 30-3 record. The losses came at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko (L KO 5), Anthony Joshua (L KO 9), and Derek Chisora (L SD 12). He last fought in December at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa, CA, where he won a lopsided decision over Polish journeyman Andrzej Wawrzyk.

In a previous engagement here at the Hangar, a concert hall that seats a shade over 3,000, he TKOed Bogdan Dinu. That bout is remembered mostly for what happened after it ended. In an incident that went viral on social media, Pulev surprised Jennifer Ravalo, a self-styled journalist, with a kiss on the lips. That animated women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred and led to an 8-page spread in Playboy (of Ravalo, not Allred). The California State Athletic Commission fined and suspended Pulev and mandated that he undergo sexual harassment training. The suspension lasted 120 days.

The match between Charr and Pulev, says a blurb about it, is an “eagerly anticipated” clash between “two evergreen living legends.” We will let you provide the punchline, The winner is expected to fight Martin Bakole who was knocked out by Michael Hunter.

Jake Paul

Jake Paul, the enfant terrible of prizefighting, returns this Saturday on a card in San Juan, Puerto Rico, that will air on DAZN. Paul, an influencer who brought his big social media following with him when he took up fisticuffing, is coming off a first-round stoppage of Andre August, a no-name fighter from Texas. Saturday’s sacrificial lamb is a fellow from Dickinson, North Dakota (by way of Benicia, California) named Ryan Bourland.

Bourland, who is reportedly 35 years old but looks older, scored his signature win in 2018 when he avenged a previous defeat with a 10-round majority decision over Jose Hernandez. He has fought only one since then, TKOing a fighter with a losing record in a 6-rounder at a lodge on a remote Indian reservation in North Dakota. That improved his ledger to 17-2 (6 KOs).

Regarding Jake Paul, Thomas Hauser once wrote that he’s worked hard to become a better boxer and is “certainly better than a Golden Gloves novice.” There was a time when this reporter, perhaps naively, thought that Jake had the potential to become a legitimate top-15 cruiserweight, but his recent choice of opponents suggests that he is comfortable just spinning his wheels.

His bout with Bourland will play second fiddle to Amanda Serrano’s featherweight title defense against Germany’s Nina Meinke (18-3, 4 KOs). Although Amanda has a lot of mileage on her odometer, she is expected to have little difficulty with Meinke. In another bout of note, Puerto Rican campaigners Jonathan Gonzalez (27-3-1, 14 KOs) and Rene Santiago (12-3, 9 KOs) will meet in a 12-rounder with Gonzalez’s WBO light flyweight title at stake.

—-

Let’s conclude this write-up on an upbeat note. Hall of Fame boxing writer Bernard Fernandez, a frequent TSS contributor, informs us that his fifth and presumably final anthology is nearing completion with a likely release date of April or May. “Championship Rounds, Round 5” includes a foreword by Gerry Cooney and has drawn glowing reviews from the likes of Dave Kindred and Dr. Gordon Marino who both had an early peek at the manuscript. Kindred, a renowned sportswriter and author, was the subject of a 2021 piece on “60 Minutes.” Marino, a Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, has written extensively about boxing for the Wall Street Journal.

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Results from Orlando where Berlanga KOed McCrory in a Possible Prelude to Canelo

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Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom organization was at the Caribe Royale tonight, a non-gaming resort near Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Unbeaten super middleweights Edgar Berlanga and Padraig McCrory squared off in the main event.

The fight started slow, but it soon became apparent that McCrory, a 35-year-old father of three from Belfast, Northern Ireland, was a domestic-level fighter, notwithstanding his undefeated (18-0) record. Berlanga, whose last five fights had gone the distance, roughed him up with some dirty tactics before taking him out in the sixth round with a crunching right hand that sent the Irishman face-first to the canvas. As McCrory pulled himself upright on rubbery legs, the towel flew in from his corner. The official time was 2:44.

As well-documented, Berlanga opened his pro career with 16 consecutive first-round knockouts. Nonetheless, he was let go by Top Rank in what purportedly was an amicable divorce. This was his second fight under the Matchroom banner. Eddie Hearn signed him with an eye on scoring a big-money match with Canelo Alvarez. The red-headed Mexican superstar is committed to returning to the ring in May on Cinco de Mayo weekend in Las Vegas, but hasn’t yet locked in an opponent.

If Berlanga gets the nod, he would be a heavy underdog, but the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico angle (coupled with Berlanga’s new-found reputation as a dirty fighter) would make it an easy sell.

Co-Feature

In only his third professional fight, Cuban defector Andy Cruz was bumped into the co-feature. That was in recognition of his amateur pedigree. Among his accomplishments, he was 4-0 vs. Keyshawn Davis with the last win coming in the gold medal round of the Tokyo Olympics.

Cruz, 28, was expected to win as he pleased against his Mexican opponent, Bryan Zamarripa, and he did win all 10 rounds on all three scorecards, but in common with many great Cuban amateurs, he seemed to lack something in the power department. Zamarripa was 14-2 heading in.

Other Bouts of Note

In a 12-round welterweight contest that was devoid of drama, Uzbekistan native Shakhram Giyasov, an Olympic silver medalist who has lost precious few rounds as a pro, won a lopsided technical decision over well-recycled 34-year-old Mexican Pablo Cesar Cano.

Giyasov (15-0, 9 KOs) sent Cano (35-9-1) to the canvas in the third round with a body punch. At the end of round 11, as their feet were tangled, he pushed Cano to the canvas and the Mexican ostensibly suffered a broken ankle when he fell. That sent the bout to the scorecards where the decision (109-99 x3) was a formality. With the victory, Giyasov earned a shot at WBA belt-holder Eimantas Stanionis.

The 12-round bantamweight match between Antonio Vargas and Jonathan Rodriguez, two fighters of Puerto Rican descent, was framed as a WBA bantamweight title eliminator. Rodriguez, the underdog, floored Vargas in the opening stanza. He had scored a stunning first-round knockout of 27-1 Khalid Yafai in his previous start and it appeared that another upset was brewing. But the match quickly turned one-sided in favor of Vargas who put Rodriguez on the canvas in the very next frame (and had two points deducted for hitting him after the bell) and then put him down again at the end of round seven with a sweeping left hook after which Rodriguez’s corner properly pulled him out.

Vargas, a 2016 Olympian who had home field advantage in Florida, improved to 18-1 (10 KOs) and became the mandatory opponent for Takuma Inoue who won earlier today in Tokyo. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s Rodriguez declined to 17-2-1.

The opening bout on the TV portion of the card was a 10-round flyweight affair that looked like a runaway for showboating Yankiel Rivera until gritty Andy Dominguez made things interesting.

Rivera, who improved to 5-0 (2), was Puerto Rico’s lone representative in the Tokyo Olympics. In Mexico-born Andy Dominguez, he was fighting a former three-time New York City Golden Gloves champion who was also unbeaten (10-0 heading in). Rivera dominated the match but was caught napping in round nine and Dominguez, although all busted-up, hurt him and almost put him down. That was most lopsided round of the fight, but also the only round that Dominguez won in the eyes of the judges.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom

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Junto Nakatani Turns in Another Masterclass on Saturday’s Tripleheader in Tokyo

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In a rather odd juxtaposition, several of boxing’s best little men were on display today at Japan’s National Sumo Arena in Tokyo. The best of the lot, Junto Nakatani, improved to 27-0 (20 KOs) while tearing away the WBC world bantamweight title from Tijuana’s Alexandro Santiago (28-4-5) who was making the first defense of the title he won in Las Vegas in May when he upset Nonito Donaire.

It was a one-sided beatdown. Nakatani, who had a 5-inch height advantage, won every round before ending the contest in the sixth. The end came at the 1:12 mark when Nakatani terminated the affair with his second knockdown. The first came earlier in the round, the result of a straight left hand. The finisher was a big right hook.

With the victory, Nakatani became a world title-holder in a third weight class. He’s an outstanding talent, worthy of pound-for-pound consideration, and would be favored in a unification fight with Takuma Inoue.

Inoue, the younger brother of pound-for-pound king Naoya “Monster” Inoue, did his part to bring the match to fruition with a ninth-round stoppage of Filipino veteran Jerwin Ancajas in the main event. Inoue (19-1, 5 KOs) was making the first defense of the WBA diadem he won with a wide decision over Venezuela’s mildewed Liborio Solis. That title was conveniently vacated by Takuma’s renowned brother.

This figured to be the most competitive match on the card and Ancajas (34-4-2) had his moments before Inoue ended the contest at the 0:44 mark of round nine with a four-punch combination climaxed by a shot to the liver. Heading in, Ancajas, who had a long title reign at 115, was 9-2-1 in world title fights and hadn’t previously been stopped.

In the first of the three title fights, 29-year-old Kosei Tanaka became a four-weight belt-holder in record time with a unanimous decision over Mexicali’s stubborn but out-classed Christian Bacasegua “Rocky” Rangel. At stake was the vacant WBO junior bantamweight title.

Tanaka, who previously held belts at 105, 108, and 112, started slow but the outcome was never in doubt after he knocked “Rocky” to the canvas in the eighth frame. The judges had it 119-108, 117-110, and 116-111. With the victory, Tanaka improved to 20-1 (11). In his only defeat, he was stopped by countryman Kazuto Ioka. He hunkers for a rematch but, if it happens, he might wish that it hadn’t. Ioka is long in the tooth – he turns 35 next month – but is very good and shows no signs of slowing down. Rangel (22-5-2) had won nine straight heading in, but against questionable opposition and was making his first start outside Mexico.

The Teiken Promotions card was presented in association with Top Rank and aired in the U.S. on ESPN+.

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