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

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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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Jake Paul vs Tommy Fury on Feb. 26 in a Potential Pay-Per-View Blockbuster

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It’s now official. The twice-postponed “grudge match” between Jake Paul and Tommy Fury will come to fruition on Sunday, Feb. 26, at Riyadh in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. An 8-rounder contested at a catch-weight of 185 pounds, the match and several supporting bouts will air in the U.S. on ESPN+ PPV at a cost of $49.99.

The hook for this promotion – a come-hither that will be hammered home incessantly in the coming weeks – is that Jake Paul will finally touch gloves with a legitimate professional boxer. Paul’s previous opponents were a fellow YouTube influencer (AnEsonGib), a retired NBA player (Nate Robinson), and three former MMA champions: Ben Askren, Tyron Woodley, and Anderson Silva. He fought Woodley twice.

Tommy Fury, the half-brother of reigning WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, made his pro debut in December of 2018 in a four-round bout in his hometown of Manchester. He was two fights into his pro career when he became a contestant on the TV reality show “Love Island.” An enormously popular show in Great Britain, especially among the coveted 18-34 demographic, “Love Island” was in its fifth season.

Fury was paired with supermodel Molly-Mae Hague with whom he finished second. They developed a great chemistry, on and off the set, became engaged, and purportedly welcomed a baby girl this week.

What about Tommy Fury the boxer? How legitimate is he?

Fury’s record currently stands at 8-0 (4 KOs). His first opponent was a professional loser from Latvia whose current ledger reads 10-113-3. His next six opponents were a combined 4-73-2. Finally, in his last fight, which occurred in April of last year, he met an opponent with a good record, Poland’s Daniel Bocianski, who was 10-1. But look closer and one discovers that all but one of Bocianski’s 10 triumphs came against opponents with losing records. The exception was a 6-round decision over a fellow Pole whose record currently stands at 18-16-1 and who has been stopped 13 times.

Fury bloodied Bocianski and won a wide 6-round decision, but his performance was underwhelming. “Fury had the Hollywood teeth, tan, and diamante-colored shorts,” wrote Chasinga Malata of the London Sun, “leaving only his performance without sheen and sparkle.”

There is nothing in Tommy Fury’s background, aside from his biological pedigree, to suggest that he has the tools to become a world-class boxer. If he were a member of the Three Stooges, he would be Shemp.

Jake Paul, by contrast, may actually be legit. Those in the know that have watched him train have come away impressed. It says here that Paul isn’t moving up in class on Feb. 26; it’s the other way around.

In the co-feature, Ilunga Makabu (29-2, 25 KOs) will make the third defense of his WBC world cruiserweight title against Badou Jack (27-3-3, 16 KOs). A Congolese-South African, Makabu is the older brother of heavyweight contender Martin Bakole. Jack, four years older than Makabu at age 39, formerly held world titles at 168 and 175 pounds.

Although Badou Jack was born in Sweden and keeps a home in Las Vegas where he has long been affiliated with the Mayweather Boxing Club, he will have the home field advantage in Saudi Arabia where he has cultivated a loyal following. A devout Muslim, Jack will be making his fourth straight start in the Persian Gulf Region. In his last outing, he outpointed Richard “Popeye” Rivera at Jeddah, winning a 10-round split decision.

Badou Jack

Badou Jack

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 223: A Lively Weekend in SoCal with Three Fight Cards in Two Days

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 223: A Lively Weekend in SoCal with Three Fight Cards in Two Days

Big money prizefighting returns to the Los Angeles area with back-to-back shows. First, Serhii Bohachuk heads a 360 Promotions card on Friday and then Alexis Rocha is featured on Saturday in a Golden Boy Promotions production. And on the same day Riverside’s Saul Rodriguez fights in his hometown.

Bohachuk, Rocha, and Rodriguez are aggressive big hitters.

Ukraine’s Bohachuk seeks to regain footing in the super welterweight division. He was rapidly climbing up the ratings ladder when first he was defeated by Brandon Adams two years ago. And then the invasion of his home country Ukraine stalled him even more.

On Friday Jan. 27, at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello, Calif. Bohachuk (21-1, 21 KOs) meets Nathaniel Gallimore (22-6-1, 17 KOs) in the main event. UFC Fight Pass will stream the 360 Boxing Promotions card.

Few fighters are as well-liked outside of the prize ring as Bohachuk. Always amiable, he’s one of the handful of fighters that always smiles. Inside the ring, he’s a killer. No one leaves without someone getting knocked out.

Gallimore, 34, is no slouch. He has a knockout win over former world titlist Jeison Rosario and has battled almost all of the top super welterweights. He is a veteran and very crafty.

The Quiet Cannon venue is not very large, but it does have a patio and good food and drink. Most of the crowd ventures from all over Southern California to attend the fights at that venue. It gets packed.

Golden Boy in Inglewood

Welterweight contender Alexis Rocha headlines the Golden Boy Promotions card on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the brand new YouTube Theater in Inglewood, Calif. DAZN will stream the fight card.

Rocha (21-1, 13 KOs) faces George Ashie (33-5-1) in the main event set for 12 rounds. Finally, there is an opponent for the left-handed fighter from Santa Ana. It didn’t look like he was going to fight after opponent after opponent fell out for one reason or another.

“You have to be ready for anybody they put in front of you. If it’s you or George Ashie, I have to prepare for it. I have to focus on what I can do,” said Rocha.

Others on the card include super middleweight Bektemir Melikuziev (10-1) vs Ulises Sierra (17-2-2) set for 10 rounds. Also, good looking lightweight prospect Floyd Schofield (12-0, 10 KOs) meets Alberto Mercado (17-4-1).

Schofield fights out of Austin, Texas and looks like someone to watch.

Doors open at 3 p.m.

Neno Returns in San Bernardino        

Garcia Promotions stages a boxing card on Saturday Jan. 28, at the Club Event Center in San Bernardino. Garcia Promotions is associated with trainer Robert Garcia and family whose training compound is located in nearby Riverside.

A primarily local fight card featuring all fighters from Garcia’s gym will be performing.

Headlining is Saul “Neno” Rodriguez out of Riverside, California.

It’s been nearly three years since Rodriguez (24-1-1, 18 KOs) last fought and he faces Mexico’s Juan Meza Angulo (6-1, 3 KOs) in the co-main event.

At one time Rodriguez was a big fan favorite because of his fast work and knockout ability. Once he got to the top plateau he ran into another knockout puncher in Miguel Angel Gonzalez and lost by stoppage.

Prizefighting is a tricky road. One loss can mean difficulty in finding a big-time promoter or it can mean discovering what you need to do to re-establish your skills. A fighter can go the road of Kermit “The Killer” Cintron and find out other ways to win without a kill-or be-killed style. Or they can travel the road of Marco Antonio Barrera who was knocked out by Junior Jones but adapted a more boxer-puncher style that allowed him to defeat Erik Morales twice and Prince Naseem Hamed.

Rodriguez, 29, still has time to make a good run for a title bid. It all starts on Saturday.

Others on the Garcia Promotions card are fighters who are part of trainer Garcia’s stable including Gabriel Muratalla, Leonardo Ruiz, Jose Rodriguez and others.

Doors open at 4 p.m. with amateurs opening the boxing program.

Fights to Watch

Fri. UFC Fight Pass 7 p.m. Serhii Bohachuk (21-1) vs Nathaniel Gallimore (22-6-1).

Sat. ESPN+ 11:30 a.m. Artur Beterbiev (18-0) vs Anthony Yarde (23-2).

Sat. DAZN  5 p.m. Alexis Rocha (21-1) vs George Ashie (33-5-1).

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Artur Beterbiev: “I’d prefer to fight Bivol because he has the one thing I need”

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Russian Artur Beterbiev, triple champion of the 175-pound division, is the only current world champion who, thanks to the enormous power he wields in his fists, has won all his fights inside the distance.

Beterbiev has 18 victories by way of chloroform since he debuted as a professional fighter in June 2013 when he anesthetized retired American, Christian Cruz, in the tenth round at the Bell Center in Montreal where Beterbiev currently resides.

Beterbiev, who turned thirty-eight last Saturday, will defend his WBC, IBF, and WBO titles against Brit Anthony “The Beast from the East” Yarde (23-2, 22 KOs) on Saturday, January 28th at the OVO Arena in London.

Beterbiev obtained the WBO belt on June 18th this past year when he defeated American Joe Smith (28-4, 22 KOs) in the second round at Madison Square Garden. This was Smith’s second defense of the belt.

Earlier, in November 2017, Beterbiev won the vacant IBF belt after defeating German Enrico Koelling (28-5, 9 KOs) by knockout in the twelfth round in Fresno, California.

Two years later, Beterbiev seized the WBC belt from Ukrainian Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) in Philadelphia. Three knockdowns in the tenth round forced referee Gary Rosato to stop the lopsided bout with 11 seconds remaining in the round.  Beterbiev maintains that although his intention is to win each fight, in no way does he want to harm his rival and that his greatest wish is for both of them to leave the ring healthy.

Referring to his upcoming matchup, Beterbiev told BoxingScene that “after the fight, I just hope he (Yarde) is okay.”

He acknowledged that he does not know much about the British boxer, although he has watched several of his fights: “He’s a good fighter, has good experience as a professional and he’s a boxer. He’s dangerous so I have to prepare for this fight like I always do.”

Beterbiev said that his main motivation is to successfully defend the three belts he owns and that is why he will try to be one hundred percent ready and then it will be evident who is the better fighter.

Regarding his knockout streak, Beterbiev emphatically denied that he enjoys knocking out his opponents: “No. There’s no pleasure in it. I just hope everything is OK with them. I just want to do good boxing, not hit people.”

Beterbiev smiles enigmatically and stares at the horizon when they ask him to what he attributes the strength of his fists to. “I know for sure, 1000 percent, that the secret to my power is somewhere in my boxing gym but I don’t know exactly where,” he adds. “I don’t know which exercise or bag gave me this secret. I don’t know where it comes from. I wasn’t always like this either, it has come from working every day. But really my dream is to be a good boxer one day.”

Aside from the upcoming fight with Yarde, Beterbiev acknowledges in each interview that his goal is to be the undisputed champion of the division, which means facing (and defeating) the undefeated Russian Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs), who holds the WBA light heavyweight super championship belt.

“I need Bivol,” Beterbiev admits. “I’d prefer to fight Bivol because he has the one thing I need. I hope I fight him in 2023 but the hold-up is not from my side, it’s from their side. In the last three years he always says he will fight me next but in this time we’ve done unification fights against Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Joe Smith. We’ve done that whereas he has just been talking about it.

Beterbiev recalled that he was with Bivol on the Russian national team where they were amateurs. “I knew him then, but he is younger than me. We haven’t talked for 10 years now. He was 75kg back then, too small for me. We were never friends.”

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Alvarez in Spanish.

 Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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