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Three Punch Combo: The York Hall Tournament, Luis Nery Deconstructed and More

Matt Andrzejewski

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Three Punch Combo: The York Hall Tournament, Luis Nery Deconstructed and More

The eyes of the boxing world will be on Las Vegas this week for the rematch between Deontay Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KO’s) and Luis Ortiz (31-1, 26 KO’s). But as with most weeks in the sport, there is plenty of other action taking place that will be widely available on various platforms.

One such event is the Golden Contract tournament that will take place on Friday at York Hall in London and broadcast in the United States on ESPN+. An eight-man, single elimination tournament in three weight divisions, the tournament was organized by boxing management company MTK Global in association with Matchroom.

This particular quarterfinal on Friday features fighters in the 140-pound division. There are also tournaments in the featherweight and light heavyweight divisions. The featherweight quarterfinals kicked off last month and the light heavyweight quarterfinals will take place in December.

The semifinals for each weight division are expected to take place early next year with the finals being planned for some time around the middle of the year.

The “golden ticket” for the winner of each weight division is a five-fight two-year deal that guarantees six figure paydays along with global exposure.

As of this writing, none of the eight fighters in action Friday knows who they will be facing. The draw will take place later this week. Each fighter will pull a ball out of a bag containing four red balls and four blue balls. The fighters who select the blue colored balls will select their opponents from the fighters who pulled the red colored balls. The blue colored balls will be numbered one to four with the fighter selecting number one picking first.

The best way I would describe the field for this tournament is that it is a step up in quality from the recent Boxcino tournaments but a clear step down from the quality of fighters in the WBSS. Basically, we have some up-and-coming fighters participating along with a mix of veterans who are looking to get back into contention.

Some notable participants in the 140-pound division are young undefeated fighters Darren Surtees (12-0, 8 KO’s) and Logan Yoon (16-0, 12 KO’s). Also, Ohara Davies (19-2, 14 KO’s), Tyrone McKenna (19-1-1, 6 KO’s) and Mohamed Mimoune (21-3, 2 KO’s) are scheduled to be in the field.

I love tournaments and am very much looking forward to this event. Based on the field, we are going to see some very compelling fights, either on Friday or down the road as the tournament progresses.

Under The Radar Fight

It is going to be a busy day of boxing on ESPN+ on Friday. In addition to the aforementioned Golden Contract tournament, ESPN+ will be broadcasting a card from Dubai that is headlined by a very intriguing 140-pound crossroads fight between Jack Catterall (24-0, 13 KO’s) and Timo Schwarzkopf (20-3, 12 KO’s).

Catterall, 26, is a fighter that just oozes talent. Fighting from the southpaw stance, he likes to press forward aggressively behind the right jab. Once in range, he likes to fire off fluid heavy handed combinations to the head and body of his opponent. He is also excellent at using his feet to create angles to land his combinations with precision accuracy.

With all the natural talent Catterall showcased coming up the ladder, the expectations got to be very lofty. However, a pair of performances last year caused those expectations to become a little tempered.

In June, Catterall struggled to navigate range against a tall southpaw in Tyrone McKenna and was fortunate to eke out a close 10-round unanimous decision. Later in October, Catterall stepped in against Ohara Davies. Many expected a breakout performance from Catterall. Instead, fans were presented with][ 12 rounds of listless action in a fight that may have seen more clinches than punches landed. In the end, although Catterall got the nod on the scorecards, his stock took a major hit.

After a stay-busy knockout win against sub.-500 fighter Oscar Amador this past April, Catterall looks to get his career back on track against Schwarzkopf.

Schwarzkopf, 28, is a tough gritty aggressive fighter with proven durability. While he may not have the most talent, he has certainly made the most of all his abilities. Schwarzkopf likes to press forward working behind the left jab from the orthodox stance. He is not afraid to throw all sorts of punches behind that jab, often times loading up looking to land one big punch. True to his nature, he is also not afraid to eat some leather pressing forward while looking for his own opportunities to land clean punches.

There is a lot to like about this fight in my opinion. Catterall is motivated to make a statement coming off two high profile lackluster performances last year. He is going to try to be the first to stop Schwarzkopf.

Given that Catterall is naturally aggressive and may be even more so in this fight, I think that gives Schwarzkopf opportunities to land some shots. Schwarzkopf will not be afraid to stand his ground and exchange. It is his nature.

The best fights are not always the most high-profile fights. Yes, the attention of the boxing world will be in mostly other places this weekend but Catterall-Schwarzkopf could be the fight that steals the show.

Should Luis Nery Be On Upset Alert?

I really like the Wilder-Ortiz II undercard, especially the bantamweight contest between Luis Nery (30-0, 24 KO’s) and Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1, 12 KO’s). And though most sportsbooks have Rodriguez a solid underdog, I think his chances of springing an upset are quite good.

A big part of the reason why most oddsmakers are so down on Rodriguez is that he was knocked out in his last fight. But Rodriguez wasn’t knocked out by just any fighter. He was knocked out by Naoya Inoue who is not only considered to be one of boxing’s top pound for pound fighters but also may be boxing’s top pound for pound puncher.

I think too many people are judging Rodriguez based off that loss. Before that fight, Rodriguez had proven to be a very capable fighter, good enough to capture a world title belt.

Rodriguez, 27, is just entering the prime of his career. He is a boxer-puncher by trade who likes to work behind a well-schooled left jab from the orthodox stance. Naturally very athletic, Rodriguez will work fast handed, fluid combinations behind that jab. He is also very technically sound which should not be all that surprising given his multitude of accomplishments as an amateur.

I know a lot of people in boxing are very high on Luis Nery but I see a lot of flaws in his game that I believe will one day be exposed. Nery falls in love too much with his power and often forgets how to properly set up those power shots. This was very evident in his last fight against Juan Carlos Payano.

Nery, 24, also lacks focus on defense. He does not move his head and often stands in front of his opponent after throwing his power shot with his hands down admiring his work.

I see this as the perfect storm for an upset. An athletic and technically sound fighter like Rodriguez can expose the flaws of a one-dimensional fighter like Nery. We have seen it happen plenty of times throughout boxing history and I for one will be betting on it happening again this weekend.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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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.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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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.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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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).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

To comment on this story in The Fight Forum CLICK HERE

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