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Dwight Ritchie, Australia’s Fighting Cowboy, Dead at Age 27

Arne K. Lang

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Dwight Ritchie, one of Australia’s most popular boxers, has died at age 27 in what is being described as a freak training incident. Ritchie was sparring with Michael Zerafa when he collapsed from a body shot. He could not be revived.

Ritchie, nicknamed the Fighting Cowboy, hailed from Shepparton in the state of Victoria, a community identified with sheepherding. In his last fight, on Aug. 14, he opposed rising contender Tim Tszyu, the undefeated son of Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu. Fighting on Tszyu’s turf in Sydney, Ritchie lost a 10-round decision, dipping his record to 19-2.

Tszyu vs. Ritchie, billed for the IBF Australasian super welterweight title, was a big deal in Australia, a pay-per-view event. Ritchie won three rounds on one of the cards and only two rounds on the other cards, but had the misfortune of having to fight the last seven frames with a wicked cut over his left eye. Ringside reporter Paul Johnson wrote that Ritchie “showed tremendous courage to push on” and take the bout to the scorecards.

Ritchie had a fight scheduled on Dec. 6 in Sydney against Australian veteran Tommy Browne, a former world title challenger. It would have been the main supporting bout to Tszyu’s match with Jack Brubaker, a Jeff Fenech disciple. Michael Zerafa, the boxer with whom Ritchie was sparring when he collapsed, rematches Manny Pacquiao-conqueror Jeff Horn in Brisbane on Dec. 18. Zerafa stopped Horn in the ninth round on Aug. 31 in one of the year’s bigger upsets.

About Ritchie’s pro record. It should read 23-2. He won his first four fights, but Australia’s national boxing commission erased them and BoxRec changed them to “no-contests” when it came out that he was only 17 years old at the time that he fought them. The legal age for a pro boxer in Australia is 18.

Dwight Ritchie overcame cancer as a baby. He leaves behind a wife and three young daughters. May he rest in peace.

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The Official TSS Wilder-Ortiz 2 Prediction Page

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Deontay Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) and Luis Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs) renew acquaintances on Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. They first met on March 3 of last year at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Wilder won by TKO in the 10th round but was himself nearly stopped in the seventh when Ortiz hammered him from pillar to post.

In our survey of TSS writers prior to their first meeting, Wilder was the consensus choice with several of the respondents correctly picking the exact round in which Ortiz succumbed. But Ortiz had his supporters. Those that favored the big Cuban southpaw pointed out that he was more technically sound — unlike Wilder he didn’t loop his punches – and that the Bronze Bomber hadn’t yet been tested by a foe as formidable as Luis Ortiz.

Heading into their first confrontation, there was a sentiment that the fight wasn’t on the level. Why would the Bronze Bomber take such a big risk when a unification fight with Anthony Joshua was percolating, a fight that figured to be the richest heavyweight fight in history provided that both remained undefeated? Those that bought into this theory expected the Wilder-Ortiz fight to end in an unsatisfactory manner, a routine occurrence when there is a gentlemen’s agreement.

There are none of those insinuations attending the rematch, but yet Ortiz money is very scarce.

In our surveys, it’s been our custom to list the panelists alphabetically. This time we are flipping the switch and listing them in reverse alphabetical order. The graphic is by Colorado comic book cover artist ROB AYALA whose specialty is combat sports. Check out more of his acclaimed drawings at his web site fight posium. Here’s the link.

PREDICTIONS

Another anything can happen type matchup in a strong boxing season. There’s an equal chance the bout is either as wild as Foreman-Lyle or as lackluster as Tyson-Bonecrusher. I’m thinking Wilder by overwhelming TKO, the question is whether that happens in the first or second half of the fight. – PHIL WOOLEVER

*

This time Ortiz may be too slow, too fat, and too old to do what he did last time, but his ring smarts and vicious uppercuts still make him very dangerous. Wilder, meanwhile, knows that he can do major damage to the Cuban, so mentally he has that edge going in. I see a short period of feeling out and then the boom and attendant KO will be lowered on Ortiz either via a straight right or a windmill shot. Kong will then amble off into the sunset with that juicy early retirement check and a reputation—like Chuvalo, Quarry, and Shavers– for having been one of the best fighters to have never won a world championship. – TED SARES

*

Luis Ortiz may have whipped himself into a career best shape for this fight and understandably so, given what is at stake. But at 40, one wonders if he has the reflexes and the legs to keep up with Deontay Wilder for 12 rounds, assuming the bout even goes that far. In his last bout against the lowly Christian Hammer, Ortiz looked every bit his age, sluggish and noticeably fatigued. Hammer employed his awkward, impish style to throw Ortiz off his game and, most tellingly, was able to land the straight right with surprising frequency. That is not a reassuring sign for Ortiz. Deontay Wilder is no one’s idea of a textbook fighter, but that is also what makes him dangerous. As ungainly and coarse as his approach may be, Wilder is able to unload that right hand cannon without the slightest hitch. Ortiz may see it coming, but his legs won’t likely let him move out of the way in time. As competitive as the first fight was, something tells me Ortiz already missed his window of opportunity. Wilder TKO 7 – SEAN NAM

*

Heavyweight punchers are fascinating in re-matches. Think of Joe Louis against Billy Conn, Arturo Godoy or Bob Pastor. Think of Rocky Marciano against Joe Walcott. In all of these examples, we have a puncher who was stretched in a first contest who won by savage knockout in the return. When punchers learn how boxers move the blinds are often closed on the boxer in the rematch. There are, of course, opposed examples – Jack Dempsey against Gene Tunney is perhaps the classic. Wilder-Ortiz is of course not a reasonable foil for these contests because Ortiz is no box-mover. But the result here should tell a tale. Will Wilder prove that his devastating rematch knockout of Bermane Stiverne was no isolated incident? Is he a fighter who can apply maximum gains from a first fight? There is intrigue here in decoding the possibilities for a rematch with Tyson Fury in February. Wilder will win; if he can turn the trick quickly we’ll know a good deal more about him, I think. And that’s my pick: I’ll go for Deontay in the second round. – MATT McGRAIN

*

I like Wilder by stoppage somewhere around the sixth round. Ortiz is dangerous but only if he’s able to turn back the clock a bit and keep Wilder guessing as much as he did during their first fight last year. The main problem Ortiz is facing in the return fight is that Wilder seems to have gotten better since then while Ortiz looks like he’s regressed a bit. Those are some pretty big obstacles to overcome, especially when you consider that as solidly as Ortiz performed in their last meeting, he still got knocked down three times overall and stopped in the tenth round. – KELSEY McCARSON

*

One of the hallmarks of a great champion is that he is lethal in rematches. Joe Louis (Max Schmeling, Arturo Godoy, Buddy Baer, Billy Conn, Jersey Joe Walcott) is the classic example. Deontay Wilder has fought only one man twice, namely Bermane Stiverne who ended Wilder’s 32-fight knockout streak in the first meeting and was annihilated in the sequel. No, I’m certainly not suggesting that Wilder is in the same league with Joe Louis. The Bronze Bomber is rough around the edges and has no inside game, but I want no part of the 40-something Cuban who is likely to fade again if this fight goes beyond the eighth round. Wilder by KO. – ARNE LANG

*

Wilder by knockout. Deontay is better than he was before and Ortiz is older. – THOMAS HAUSER

*

Deontay Wilder will improve upon his performance in the first fight against Luis Ortiz by scoring an early knockout. I don’t suspect this rematch will be competitive. Ortiz gave Wilder his best the first time they fought and it wasn’t even close enough to being good enough and he got knocked out. It happens again, sooner this time, within three rounds. – JEFFREY FREEMAN

*

The Year of the Upset is drawing near an end, and the temptation is to keep leaning toward another shocker, or at least a semi-shocker. But at some point, reason must prevail, right? Andy Ruiz Jr. spoiled all that anticipation for a matchup of undefeated champions Wilder and Joshua, but are we now to expect a less-anticipated showdown of Ruiz and Ortiz? Another spoiler of an outcome that throws Wilder-Fury II out the window? “King Kong” is still formidable, but he’s got a lot of miles on his tires and has been knocked out by Wilder before. Make it twice. Wilder by KO around, say, the seventh round. – BERNARD FERNANDEZ

*

The first time Deontay Wilder faced Luis Ortiz in March 2018, Wilder prevailed via technical knockout in the 10th round. In the second go-around, Wilder will once again retain his World Boxing Council heavyweight title bcause of his superior punching power and relentless, piston-like jab. Ortiz is in tip-top shape, but will be stopped in the 11th round. – RICK ASSAD

*

Remember the first four rounds of Wilder-Ortiz I? They were tactical with very few punches being thrown by either man. Of course, the action did pick up but both men also now know they can be hurt by the other. As such, I see both being cautious throughout the contest and a very tactical listless twelve round fight with not much separating the two. With so many close, hard to score rounds, I ultimately see a split draw. – MATT ANDRZEJEWSKI

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Callum Smith, Britain’s Best Boxer, Has a Date With a ‘Gorilla’ on Saturday

Arne K. Lang

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The best fighter in all of Great Britain will be in action on Saturday, defending his WBA 168-pound world title on his home turf in Liverpool. That’s Callum Smith (26-0, 19 KOs) who isn’t as well-known internationally as several other British boxers but has the highest placement of any U.K. boxer on a reputable pound-for-pound list.

There are five major pound-for-pound lists: The Ring, BWAA, Box Rec, ESPN, and TBRB (Transnational Boxing Rankings Board). Only Box Rec recognizes Smith on its PPV list. He clocks in at #7. But that’s three places higher than the only other British boxer to make the cut, namely Scotland’s Josh Taylor who moved into the #10 slot at TBRB following his defeat of Regis Prograis.

Callum Smith (pictured) certainly looked like a Top 10 PPV fighter in his last start when he blasted out Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam at Madison Square Garden. Smith had his French Cameroonian opponent on the deck in the first, second, and again in the third frame before the referee mercifully waived it off.

Granted, N’Dam N’Jikam wasn’t the hardest guy to knock off his pins, but Smith’s performance was yet spectacular. An orthodox fighter, Smith scored his first two knockdowns with left hooks and the third with an overhand right. These were short, compact punches delivered with tremendous torque.

Smith’s showing became a mere footnote in the night’s proceedings when the main event between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr produced an upset for the ages. So, what was a smashing performance was de-valued, lost in the shadow of a much bigger story.

Callum Smith, 29, is the youngest of four fighting brothers. The two oldest captured regional titles and Liam “Beefy” Smith did them one better, winning a world title in the 154-pound class in his twenty-second pro fight. But the feeling is that the accomplishments of his older brothers actually retarded the perception of Callum Smith as a potentially great champion. Paul, Stephen, and certainly Liam were very good, but not great, and Callum, by virtue of coming from the same biological stock, was thought to have an upside that would crest before reaching the level of greatness.

But make no mistake, Callum Smith is a horse of a different color. He stands six-foot-three (none of his brothers is taller than 5’11”) and hits harder than any of his siblings, even when adjusted for the fact that he is the biggest. During one stretch as he was climbing the ladder, Smith stopped six straight opponents in the opening round. Thirteen of his 19 knockout victims were gone before the bell ending the third round. One who lasted longer was the highly capable George Groves who went down for the count in the seventh in the super middleweight final of the 2018 World Boxing Super Series tournament. Groves retired on that note.

The Gorilla

Smith’s opponent on Saturday is John Ryder (28-4, 16 KOs). Nicknamed the Gorilla, Ryder, who is giving up six inches in height and six inches in reach, is a heavy underdog, but the view from here is that he is no pushover.

Akin to Callum Smith, Ryder looked sensational in his last start which was also his U.S. debut, but you will have to take our word for it as hardly anyone was paying attention.

Ryder fought Bilal Akkawy, an undefeated (20-0-1) fighter who was attracting a lot of buzz back home in Australia. After two rather tame rounds, Ryder took Akkawy apart, winning by TKO in the third.

Ryder was originally scheduled to fight David Lemieux in what would have been the co-feature underneath Canelo Alvarez vs. Daniel Jacobs. When Lemieux pulled out with a hand injury, Akkawy, who had been Canelo’s chief sparring partner, filled the breach. That knocked Ryder out of the semi-main and the vast TV exposure that would have come with it. And for whatever reason, Ryder vs. Akkawy was buried deep on the card, going off early – way early before many of the ringside reporters had taken their seat.

The storyline of that fight was that Ryder exposed Akkawy, but that may not have been fair to Ryder. At age 30 (now 31) the Londoner appeared to be reaching his peak. He had won his previous three fights inside the distance against opponents who were collectively 69-2.

Callum Smith is really good. He would make a great opponent for Canelo and that fight may someday come to fruition. But first he must emerge from Saturday’s bout unscathed and although the oddsmakers say that shouldn’t be problem, don’t be surprised if the Gorilla makes things interesting and that Smith vs. Ryder provides more action than the more ballyhooed heavyweight fight taking place later that day.

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GGG: The End Game for the Big Drama Show

Ted Sares

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When serious fans discuss the Fighter of the Decade, Gennadiy Golovkin (more often referenced as “GGG” or “Triple G”) must be part of the discussion as his record between 2010 and 2019 is 22-1-1, boosting his overall mark to 40-1-1.

Golovkin had a superb amateur career, reportedly finishing 345-5. He was a world amateur champion in 2003 and an Olympic silver medalist in 2004.

GGG first raised eyebrows in the pro ranks when he brutalized and stopped tough Kassim Ouma in 2011 in the first defense of his WBA middleweight title. He quickly projected like an Eastern Euro Pacquiao—humility, skills and mystique all wrapped up like a Kazakhstan dumpling. He was ready for a “Big Drama Show.” Like the great Kostya Tszyu, GGG was (and still is) a charismatic figure, revered by his cult-like fans. And, oh yes, he was very, very marketable. He had become the “New Kid on the Block.”

Watch out, middleweights. There’s a new sheriff in town. As a matter of fact, junior middleweights and super-middleweights should also be on the alert. This heavy-hitting boss man is gunning for all of you – Jackie Kallen

This post from an April 4, 2013 article in Boxing.com nails it. “GGG is the quintessential boxer/puncher–the complete package; he is marvelous to watch because he combines so many attributes including great stamina, musculature with minimal body fat, well-honed technique, numbing KO power in either hand, superb footwork and balance, and the ability to use perfectly leveraged combinations that exact tremendous punishment. His propensity to close the ring and walk his opponent down means that he goes on the stalk as soon as the bell rings. A master at keeping the right separation, GGG quickly gets comfortable in an appropriate range, and begins using his crunching jackhammer jabs that set up his heavy artillery of hooks, straights, and the occasional jarring uppercut. The entire scenario is like the work of an artist, but instead of paint, this artist uses controlled violence.”

The Streak

After the aforementioned slaughter of Ouma in 2011, Triple G continued working his way through a 23-fight KO streak utilizing numbing one-punch power. The streak has been well vetted but certain impressions remain indelible such as…

His KO of Nobuhiro Ishida with a vicious overhand right that was audible and left the Japanese fighter unconscious.

His KO of Matthew Macklin with a left hook body shot that left Macklin withering in verbal pain in the third round at Foxwoods.

Curtis Stevens’ shocked expression after being knocked down by a left hook.

His exchange of rights with Daniel Geale and the Aussie “Real Deal” then going down like he had been sapped. Another short night of boxing for the Kazakhstan bomber who went on the stalk early, opened a cut with his punishing jabs, and finally caught his prey in what had become a familiar scenario.

His strategic use of a jackhammer jab to keep David Lemieux at bay before stopping him.

His victory over a game Kell Brook (36-0 going in) who moved up two weight classes to challenge for Golovkin’s WBC and IBF middleweight titles and who gave GGG all he could handle until the Brit finally succumbed to an eye injury. It was the first time GGG had shown he could be tagged and even stunned.

The Jacobs Fight (March 2017)

The cracks that showed up for the first time in the Brook fight grew wider. Golovkin won, but he was not the normal GGG and settled for a close but unanimous decision as he retained his title for the 18th consecutive time. His then trainer Abel Sanchez said he was satisfied with how his charge performed. Judges Don Trella and Steve Weisfeld both scored the fight 115-112, and Max DeLuca had it 114-113 for Golovkin, who scored a knockdown of Danny in the fourth round. The 23-fight KO streak had ended.

(Golovkin weighed 159.6 lb. while Jacobs weighed 159.8 at the official weigh-in a day before their 2017 fight. However, by skipping a fight-day weight check and thereby declining to compete for the IBF title, Danny seemed to have gained significantly coming into the ring and looked to be around 180 pounds. Max Kellerman suggested he was utilizing a “strategic plan.” Others thought he was also manipulating the system, thus causing the playing field to become uneven. Whatever the case, GGG had gone through a grueling 12 rounds of action with the operative word being “grueling.”)

Canelo (September 2017)

Six months after outlasting Danny Jacobs, Golovkin, now 37-0, and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-1) fought to a controversial draw at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in a long-awaited fight. Cenelo was coming off easy wins over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, Liam Smith, and Amir Khan.

Canelo started fast and finished strong while GGG owned the middle rounds. Judge Adalaide Byrd turned in a mind-numbing scorecard, 118-110, in favor of Alvarez. Dave Moretti scored it 115-113 for Golovkin and Don Trella had it 114-114. The questionable scoring drew loud boos from the sellout crowd of 23,358. The general feeling was that GGG had won.

Again, the fight had been grueling.

Canelo (September 2018)

In the rematch, Alvarez claimed a majority decision in a thrilling fight in front of another sellout crowd of 21,965 at T-Mobile Arena to unify GGG’s WBA and WBC titles with his own lineal championship. Judge Glenn Feldman scored it 114-114, while Steve Weisfeld and Dave Moretti had it 115-113 for Alvarez.

Again, this one could have gone either way or could easily have been another draw. To quote Brian Campbell, “A modern classic of a middleweight title bout revealed the same truism boxing fans knew all too well coming in: Death, taxes and Canelo Alvarez getting the benefit of the doubt.”

Golovkin angrily and uncharacteristically left the ring after the decision and declined a post-fight interview. His face, however, was a pulpy mess and this may have been part of the reason.

The Rolls Fight (June 2019)

The Big Drama Show returned and Gennady delivered with a fourth-round knockout over previously undefeated (19-0) Canadian Steve Rolls at Madison Square Garden. This was Golovkin’s first fight since his controversial loss to Canelo in 2018, a bout in which GGG surrendered all three of his middleweight belts.

“Everybody knows. Everybody knows,” Golovkin said. “First guys, of course, I’m ready for Canelo in September. I’m ready to come out. Just ask him. … If you want a big drama show, please tell him.”

The Derevyanchenko Fight (October 2019)

In still another grueling affair, Golovkin escaped with a unanimous decision — this time in a genuine “Big Drama Show” — by scores of 115-112, 115-112, and 114-113 to claim the IBF world middleweight title. “The Technician” gave GGG all that he could handle. Golovkin, now 37 years old, did not resemble the destroyer that he had once been.

The Future

Going the distance with Danny Jacobs in 2017 and the two fierce fights with Canelo followed by a battle with Sergey Derevyanchenko fought at a hellacious pace suggests GGG’s end game may be at play and that his best days are behind him. Four of his last six fights have put heavy mileage on his tires.

He is still very good and still has a cult-like following, but with a three-year, six-fight deal with DAZN worth $100 million, he also has risky obligations to fulfill. He also has dumped Abel Sanchez and hired Johnathon Banks to tend his corner.

Sooner or later, the stars may become aligned for a third Canelo fight, but first it appears that GGG will defend his IBF belt against Poland’s undefeated but feather-fisted Kamil Szeremeta (21-0). The fight, tentatively set for Feb. 29 in Chicago, could present Golovkin with easy work, something he badly needs.

Enjoy him while you can.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

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