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HITS and MISSES from Another Weekend of Boxing: Harrison-Charlo 2 and More

Kelsey McCarson

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HITS and MISSES from Another Weekend of Boxing: Harrison-Charlo 2 and More

Boxing was all over the place last weekend, with some of the best fighters in the sport notching important victories to help move their careers forward.

Main event winners include Jermell Charlo recapturing the WBC title he lost to Tony Harrison last year on a PBC on Fox card, Danny Jacobs making the successful jump up to 168 pounds to defeat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on DAZN, and UK heavyweight Daniel Dubois stopping Japan’s Kyotaro Fujimoto on ESPN+.

Without further ado, here are the biggest HITS and MISSES from the latest busy weekend of topnotch boxing action.

HIT: Jermell Charlo’s Career-Defining KO in Biggest Fight of Career

Charlo was the first of Houston’s twin brother world champions to win a title back in 2016, but he was also the first Charlo to lose as a professional when Tony Harrison scored a controversial decision win against him in December 2018.

Favored in the rematch, Charlo scored an impressive eleventh-round knockout in what I would call a career-defining performance to re-solidify his standing among the very best junior middleweights in the world today.

Becoming the two-time WBC junior middleweight champion was an impressive accomplishment for the 29-year-old, but it looks even better when you consider how well Harrison was fighting right up until Charlo scored the knockout.

It was a terrific back and forth battle between two highly skilled competitors. Now, let’s hope Charlo gets the chance to face unified junior middleweight champion Julian Williams in 2020. Williams is currently scheduled to face Jeison Rosario on Jan. 18 but is heavily favored to retain his titles. Assuming he wins as expected, there’s no better time for a unification battle than his very next fight.

MISS: The Predictable, Avoidable and Wholy Entertaining Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Debacle 

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s appearance on DAZN Friday night in Arizona against Danny Jacobs was such a wild spectacle of outlandish entertainment that it almost deserves to be labeled as one of the biggest hits of the weekend.

But since Chavez Jr. probably never should have been in the main event in the first place, and because the 33-year-old son of Mexico’s most admired fighter ever ended the night by quitting on his stool with a bloody nose after experiencing the first slightest hint of adversity, it’s probably best to just label this particular showing a big swing and a miss.

Let’s go over all these crazy things just one more time for posterity’s sake. Back in October, Chavez Jr. refused to take a random drug test required by the Nevada Athletic Commission after promoters requested the Jacobs-Chavez Jr. bout be sanctioned in Las Vegas. Chavez Jr. was temporarily suspended until he was to appear before the NSAC, which made sense because he had already failed prefight drug tests in Nevada twice before.

The fight was then moved to Arizona which sanctioned the match after Chavez Jr’s attorneys won a lawsuit against the NSAC to have the suspension vacated. With that settled, Chavez Jr. proceeded to weigh in at 172.7 pounds–well over the 168-pound super middleweight limit. But instead of Jacobs moving on to the pre-identified backup plan of fighting Gabriel Rosado, Jacobs and his team decided to allow Chavez Jr. to pay the million-dollar penalty for the fight to go as planned.

To be fair, the fight was pretty solid right up until the moment Jacobs hit Chavez Jr. in the nose and the Mexican decided to quit. At that point, though, fans began throwing bottles, shoes and other kinds of trash at Chavez Jr., and the fighter had to be shielded from the onslaught by celebrity actor Micky Rourke who had come to the fight in support of Chavez Jr.

HIT: New WBC Flyweight Champ Julio Cesar Martinez’s Title Winning Redo

Flyweights don’t always move the needle for everyone, but Julio Cesar Martinez has sure seemed to consistently earn the respect and admiration of boxing fans all over the world as of late.

Martinez captured the vacant WBC flyweight belt with a ninth-round knockout of Cristofer Rosales on Friday on the undercard of the Jacobs-Chavez Jr. card in Arizona. It was a tremendous performance, one that proved his dominance of Charlie Edwards last time out was no fluke.

Martinez had defeated Edwards via a one-sided stoppage for the same title back in August, but the win was quickly overturned by the WBC after it was apparent that one of the punches Martinez landed to stop Edwards landed late.

The WBC ordered an immediate rematch, but Edwards decided he’d rather avoid getting rolled by Martinez again so he vacated his title. That left Martinez the chance to fight Rosales for the belt, and the 24-year-old from Mexico City made good on the opportunity by stopping Rosales in what was probably the best fight of the weekend.

MISS: The Coronation of “Top Prospect’ Karlos Balderas 

So, who tabbed Karlos Balderas as one of the top prospects in boxing?

I know that’s what we in the media were trained to think by promoters through various press releases and promotional assets over the course of the last few years, but all that hyperbole seems pretty silly right about now

In fact, the last press release sent out by the PBC before Balderas got wrecked by Rene Tellez-Giron on Saturday night in the opening bout of the Harrison-Charlo 2 card hailed him as a “sensational 2016 U.S. Olympian” who was one of the “top prospects” in the entire sport.

PBC on Fox’s Brian Kenny even went so far as to tell the audience that Balderas was on his way to carving out his own place alongside the likes of other top young lightweight stars such as Teofimo Lopez and Ryan Garcia.

But Tellez-Giron, coming straight off a loss, by the way, in his last fight, decidedly dominated Balderas with some pretty tremendous power punching on the way to scoring two knockdowns in the six-round stoppage win.

Moreover, Tellez-Giron was arguably forced to win the fight twice after referee Ray Corona allowed the contest to continue for some reason at the end of the third when it was fairly clear Tellez-Girron had done enough to warrant the stoppage.

So maybe promotional crews in boxing use way too much hyperbole when talking up young fighters like Balderas. But absolutely we in the boxing media accept way too much of it without too many questions.

HIT: Heavyweight Hopefuls Daniel Dubois and Efe Ajagba’s Stunning 2019 Cappers

Two of the best heavyweight prospects in the sport were in action on Saturday, and both ended up capping their 2019 campaigns in fine form.

Daniel Dubois knocked Kyotaro Fujimoto down with a jab in the second round on Saturday night in the main event at Copper Box Arena in London, then out for good a few moments later to prove why he’s considered the best young heavyweight plying the trade across the pond.

There are tons of things to love about Dubois. He’s a six-foot-five-inch terror with tremendous power and fluid movement. Just 22-years-old, Dubois went 5-0 with 5 KOs in 2019 including capturing the Britsh and Commonwealth heavyweight titles in successive fights.

Meanwhile, Efe Ajagba scored a vitally important knockout win against Iago Kiladze on the undercard of Harrison-Charlo 2. Ajagba stands six-feet-six-inches tall and enjoys the longest reach ever recorded in the history of the heavyweight division at 85 inches.

But it wasn’t quite as easy for Ajagba as it was for Dubois.

The 25-year-old was dominating Kiladze right up until the third round when Ajagba seems to have believed the referee was about to wave off the fight. Kiladze suddenly stormed back to knock Ajagba down in the third round which forced the Nigerian-born heavyweight to learn the most valuable lesson of all for fighters in the heavyweight ranks: finish people when they are hurt.

Still, Ajagba did finish Kiladze in the fifth round to end the year 4-0 with 3 KOs. Now, his trainer, Ronnie Shields, has more important data to work with in regards to getting Ajagba ready for the next level of competition, and it didn’t have to come at the expense of suffering much more than the hurt pride of having been put down to the canvas.

And it’s much better it happened now against the limited Kiladze than had it come later against more dangerous opposition.

Photo credit: Stephanie Trapp

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The Hauser Report: Garcia-Redkach and More

Thomas Hauser

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Boxing made its debut at Barclays Center on October 20, 2012, with a fight card headlined by four world title bouts. Danny Garcia, Erik Morales, Paulie Malignaggi, Peter Quillin, Devon Alexander, Danny Jacobs, and Luis Collazo were in the ring that night. The franchise grew nicely. Fans who went to Barclays saw good featured fights with solid undercard bouts. But as of late, the arena’s fistic offerings have faded.

Barclays cast its lot with Premier Boxing Champions. And PBC has moved its prime content to greener pastures (green being the color of money). There were five fight cards at Barclays Center in 2019. Each one struggled to sell tickets.

January 25 marked the thirty-ninth fight card at Barclays. The arena was half empty. The announced attendance was 8,217 but that included a lot of freebies. There were six fights on the card. As expected, fighters coming out of the blue corner won all of them. That’s what happens when 6-0 squares off against 2-10-1.

Three of the fights were televised by Showtime Championship Boxing, which has also been diminished as a consequence of a multi-year output deal with PBC.

In the first of these bouts, Stephen Fulton (17-0, 8 KOs) and Ukrainian-born Arnold Khegai (16-0, 10 KOs) met in a junior-featherweight bout. Each had fought the usual suspects en route to their confrontation. There was a lot of holding and rabbit-punching which referee Steve Willis ignored. Eventually, Fulton pulled away for a unanimous-decision triumph.

Next up, Jarrett Hurd (23-1, 16 KOs) took on Francisco Santana (25-7, 12 KOs).

Hurd is a big junior-middleweight who held the WBA and IBF 154-pound titles until losing to Julian Williams last year. Santana is a career welterweight who had lost three of his most recent four fights and had won only three times in the last five years.

Hurd was expected to walk through Santana. But he was strangely passive for much of the fight, which led to the strange spectacle of Santana (the noticeably smaller, lighter-punching man) walking Jarrett down for long stretches of time. Francisco is a one-dimensional fighter and was there to be hit. When Jarrett let his hands go, he hit him. But he fought like a man who didn’t want to fight and didn’t let his hands go often enough.

By round seven, the boos and jeers were raining down. Hurd won a unanimous decision but looked mediocre. That’s the most honest way to put it. One wonder what tricks losing to Julian Williams last year played with his mind.

Also, it should be noted that, when the winning fighter thanks God in a post-fight interview and the crowd (which supported Jarrett at the start of the bout) boos at the mention of The Almighty, there’s a problem.

“The crowd didn’t love it,” Hurd acknowledged afterward. “But you gotta understand; I got the unanimous decision and I did what I wanted to do.”

The main event matched Danny Garcia (35-2, 21 KOs) against Ivan Redkach (23-4-1, 18 KOs).

Garcia had a nice run early in his career, winning belts at 140 and 147 pounds. But later, he came out on the losing end of decisions against Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter. Other than that, he has gone in soft for the past five years.

Redkach is a junior-welterweight who had won 5 of 10 fights during the same five-year time frame.

There was the usual pre-fight nonsense with Garcia telling reporters, “We picked Redkach because he’s dangerous and we knew he’d be tough.” But in truth, Redkach had been whitewashed by Tevin Farmer at 135 pounds and was knocked out at the same weight by John Molina Jr (who never won again).

Garcia, like Hurd, was a 30-to-1 betting favorite.

Redkach fought a safety-first fight. Also, safety second and third. There wasn’t one second when it looked as though he had a realistic chance of winning the fight or fought like he did.

One of the few proactive things that Ivan did do was stick out his tongue from time to time when Garcia hit him. Then, at the end of round eight, he bit Danny on the shoulder while they were in a clinch. At that point, one might have expected referee Benjy Esteves to disqualify Redkach. But Esteves seemed to not notice.

Rather than go for the kill after the bite, Garcia eased up and cruised to a unanimous decision. Meanwhile, by round eleven, the crowd was streaming for the exits. Most of the fans were gone by the time the decision was announced.

Garcia and Hurd had set-up showcase fights scheduled for them. And neither man delivered the way he should have.

Meanwhile, a final thought . . . Sunday, January 26, would have been Harold Lederman’s eightieth birthday.

Harold was the quintessential boxing fan and loved the sport more than anyone I’ve known. He never missed a fight at Barclays Center unless his health prevented him from coming or he was on the road for HBO. He died eight months ago.

As Saturday night’s fight card unfolded, I imagined Harold sitting beside me. He would have had a kind word for everyone who came over to say hello and loved every minute of it. Harold Lederman at the fights was a happy man.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book — A Dangerous Journey: Another Year Inside Boxing — was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. On June 14, 2020, he will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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Fast Results from Brooklyn: No Surprises as Garcia and Hurd Win Lopsidedly

Arne K. Lang

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Tonight, Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia made his eighth appearance at Barclays Center. Garcia’s 2017 fight with Keith Thurman drew 16,533, the attendance high for a boxing show at the arena. A far smaller crowd was in attendance tonight to see Garcia take on Ivan Redkach in a non-title fight slated for 12 rounds.

Redkach, a 33-year-old LA-based Ukrainian, is a southpaw. That’s no coincidence. Garcia hopes to land big-money fights with Errol Spence and/or Manny Pacquiao, both southpaws.

Redkach (23-4-1 coming in) turned his career around in his last fight with a career-best performance, a sixth-round stoppage of former two-division title-holder Devon Alexander, a 15-year pro who hadn’t previously been stopped. But there was a class difference between he and Danny Garcia, a former WBA and WBC 140-pound world title-holder and former WBC 147-pound champion.

Garcia (35-2, 21 KOs) was simply sharper. His workrate slowed late in the fight, allowing the game Redkach to steal a few rounds, but at the final gun he was relatively unmarked whereas Redkach was conspicuously bruised. The scores were 118-110 and 117-111 twice. The crowd booed at intervals, understandable as they were subject to a drab 6-fight card that was even less interesting than it was on paper.

Co-Feature

In the 10-round co-feature, Jarrett Hurd, making his first start since losing his WBA/IBF super welterweight title to Julian Williams last May, went on cruise control from the opening bell and jabbed his way to a lopsided 10-round decision over Francisco Santana. Hurd, who improved to 24-1, finally let loose late in the 10th frame, putting Santana (25-8-1) on the canvas with a succession of left hooks, but by then many in the crowd had probably nodded off.

This was Hurd’s first fight with new trainer Kay Koroma who has drawn raves for his work with America’s elite amateurs. The scores were 97-92 and 99-90 twice. SoCal’s Santana has now lost five of his last eight.

The opening bout on the main TV portion of the card was a 12-round super bantamweight contest between Philadelphia’s Stephen Fulton and fellow unbeaten Arnold Khegai who currently trains in Philadelphia.

Fulton (18-0, 8 KOs) simply had too much class for Khegai (16-1-1), a Ukrainian of Korean heritage. Although Khegai frequently backed Fulton into the ropes, the Philadelphian had an air-tight defense and connected with many more punches. The fight went the full 12 with Fulton prevailing by scores of 116-112 and 117-111 twice.

If the WBO has its way, Fulton will proceed to a fight with Emanuel Navarrete, but don’t hold your breath as Navarrete is promoted by Bob Arum who undoubtedly wants to extract more mileage from him before letting him risk his belt against a crafty fighter like Stephen Fulton.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Sacramento Honors Diego ‘Chico’ Corrales

Arne K. Lang

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Tonight (Saturday, Jan. 25) former two-division world boxing champion Diego “Chico” Corrales will be posthumously inducted into the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame at the organization’s eighth annual induction ceremony at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort.

Corrales, who grew up in Sacramento, the son of a Columbian father and a Mexican mother, turned pro at age 18 and went on to compile a record of 40-5 (33 KOs). He won his first title in 1999 with a seventh-round stoppage of previously undefeated Robert Garcia. Now recognized as one of boxing’s top trainers, Garcia was making the fourth defense of his IBF 130-pound title.

Five years later, Corrales won the WBO world lightweight title with a 10th-round stoppage of Brazil’s previously undefeated Acelino Freitas. That set up a unification fight with the WBC belt-holder Jose Luis Castillo.

Corrales and Castillo met on May 7, 2005, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. To say they put on a great fight would be an understatement. The boxing writers in attendance will tell you that this was the greatest fight of all time. It was named Fight of the Decade by The Ring magazine.

The final round, the 10th, was unbelievable. Heading into the round, Corrales was ahead on two of the three scorecards, but his left eye was swollen nearly shut and during the round he was knocked down twice. No one would have faulted referee Tony Weeks for stopping the fight after the second knockdown. But, somehow, Corrales was able to rally, pulling the fight out of the fire with a barrage of punches that had Castillo out on his feet when Weeks waived it off.

Two years to the very day of this iconic fight, Diego “Chico” Corrales died in a motorcycle accident in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas when he rear-ended a car while traveling at a high rate of speed. He was 29 years old.

Corrales was a thrill-seeker. In a 2006 profile, Las Vegas Review-Journal boxing writer Kevin Iole enumerated these among Castillo’s hobbies: jumping out of planes from 14,000 feet, bungee jumping from 400 feet, snowboarding in treacherous terrain and scuba diving amid a school of sharks. “He lived his life the same way he fought,” said his promoter Gary Shaw, “with reckless abandon.”

It might seem odd that it took so long for Corrales to be recognized by the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame, but there was a period when Corrales’s name was mud in his hometown and perhaps the organization’s founder, Las Vegas sports radio personality T.C. Martin, a Sacramento native, thought it appropriate to let old wounds heal.

In 2001, shortly after suffering his first pro loss at the hands of Floyd Mayweather, Corrales pled guilty to felony domestic violence in the beating of his first wife and would serve 14 months in prison. “The whole family has worn a black eye for it,” Diego’s brother Esteban Corrales told Sacramento Bee reporter Marcos Bretan.

For all his recklessness, the incident didn’t jibe with his persona. In the company of Las Vegas sportswriters, the soft-spoken and well-spoken Corrales came across as polite and humble.

Corrales, one of five inductees in the 2020 class, joins three other boxers already installed in the Sacramento Hall: Pete Ranzany, Loreto Garza, and Tony “Tiger” Lopez.

Ranzany, a welterweight, fought four former or future world champions and was a fixture in Sacramento rings in the late 1970’s. Garza wrested the WBA super lightweight title from Argentina’s Juan Martin Coggi in France and successfully defended the belt here in Sacramento with a one-sided conquest of Vinny Pazienza. Lopez, Sacramento’s most popular fighter ever, made the turnstiles hum at the city’s largest arena where he fought eight of his 14 world title fights beginning with his 1988 humdinger with defending IBF 130-pound champion Rocky Lockridge.

Among the speakers at tonight’s confab will be Kenny Adams. Perhaps best known as the head trainer for the 1988 U.S. Olympic team that won eight medals in Seoul, Adams currently trains Nonito Donaire. He was with Diego Corrales for 24 fights, during which Corrales was 23-1, avenging the lone defeat by Joel Casamayor. Festivities start at 7 pm.

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