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Boxing Notables Lay Bare the Top Storylines of 2019 in Our Newest TSS Survey

Ted Sares

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The first quarterly survey of 2020 is in the hopper. We asked our respondents this question: “If you were writing about the year 2019 in boxing, what would you title your article — and why?”

Almost 30 people weighed in with their thoughts. Here are their answers. The respondents are listed in alphabetical order.

MATT ANDRZEJEWSKITSS boxing writer: The Content Revolution. In 2019, there was more boxing available through various platforms than ever in the history of the sport. From small club shows in the US to fight cards all across the world, there was an unreal amount of live boxing for diehard fans to watch. And that is just the tip of iceberg as content is expected to grow in 2020. For those who love the sport, 2019 was as good as it gets.

DAVID AVILATSS West Coast Bureau Chief: The Year of the First Mexican World Heavyweight Champion as brief as it was.

BOB BENOIT– former boxer, now referee and judge: The Eleventh Round of a Ten-Round Fight. With the first ten rounds this year being very good ones

STEVE CANTON — President of the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame; author: 2019: The Year of the Unprofessional Professional. I would chronicle all those boxers who failed to make weight or never even tried to make weight, those who consistently made excuses to mask their laziness or lack of professionalism and those who talked a good game and didn’t produce. The boxers who only talk of how great they are but avoid all opponents who pose a risk and those who cheat (PED’s) to gain an unfair advantage would be detailed.

JILL DIAMOND — WBC International Secretary, WBC Cares Chair: Boxing Saves Lives and Also Costs Them. Boxing remains one of the most important tools we can give young people to help them live quality lives. This year, though, we’ve lost too many pros, and starting with the young, we must up the education on hydration and safety.

DAVID DIAMANTE — renowned ring announcer: Boxing Was Alive and Well in 2019. It’s undoubtedly expanding globally and getting stronger. However, the fans must continue to demand the super fights in 2020. The Fight Starts Now!

RICK FARRIS — former boxer, historian, and President and Founder of West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame: The Rise and Fall of the First Mexican Heavyweight Champ. That says it all for my memory of this past year.

BERNARD FERNANDEZTSS Mainstay and Lifetime Member of the BWAA; 2020 IBHOF Inductee: The More Things Change, the More They Remain the Same. For several decades, the best possible matchups often did not get made because of Don King’s longstanding blood feud with Bob Arum, or because HBO and Showtime were constantly at cross-purposes. Now HBO is out of boxing, but with new broadcast and streaming entities providing more coverage of the sport than ever before, a lot of the familiar barriers are still in place, with different players wielding considerable influence. Arum and Top Rank remain a major presence, but His Hairness, King, has been replaced by Premier Boxing Champions and Al Haymon, as well as Matchroom Sport’s Eddie Hearn. DAZN doesn’t want to play in the same sandbox with ESPN, the revised equivalent of HBO vs. Showtime, which remains in the game but confronted by more and more powerful adversaries than in the past. And while there was a spate of good fights made in the year about to end, don’t hold your breath expecting a welterweight megafight between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. to happen anytime soon.

JEFFREY FREEMAN (aka KO DIGEST) TSS writer — Attack of the Killer Streaming Apps: How Boxing Went From the TV Screen to the Tiny Screen And How Nobody Can Actually See the Fights Anymore Without Glasses So They Don’t Watch Them At All Because Then They Can’t Be On Their Phones 24/7 Reading Articles With Super Long Headlines so They Just Put it Down and Fall Asleep Under a Landslide of Commercials They’re Being Billed For Monthly.

RANDY GORDON — radio host, writer, former head of the New York State Athletic Commission: 2019The Year Streaming Took Over

LEE GROVESwriter, author, researcher and CompuBox punch counter: The Streaming Revolution Transforms Boxing Landscape.  Every year in boxing is difficult to condense into just a few words because one in-ring scenario rarely dominates the sport in total (“The Year of the Knockout,” “The Year of the Upset,” etc.). Therefore, I went with an aspect that covers the entirety of boxing regardless of in-ring results, and, to me, the extraordinary depth and breadth of streaming platforms in boxing is the transformational story of 2019. Yes, ESPN +, DAZN and Facebook Live — among others — existed in 2018, and pay-per-view cards are still around, but, as a whole, fight cards around the globe have been made available on a wide variety of sites throughout the entire year, and it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all of them. A big plus is that every single fight on a show can be seen, which gives undercard fighters unprecedented exposure, and an even bigger plus is that these services can be had for a tremendously affordable price compared to the subscription rates of the past, either monthly or per-event. Best yet, the younger generation gets a vast amount of their entertainment from streaming services, and because boxing has been at the forefront of this transition, it should bode well for the sport’s future. For once, boxing fans are getting bang for the buck, and this positive momentum in terms of availability looks like it will continue for years to come.

CLARENCE GEORGE — writer and historian: Anthony Joshua Could Eat No Fat. His Opponent Could Eat No Lean. Alternately, Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Fat. Joshua-Ruiz I was more than the Upset of the Year; it was payback for all those overweight heavyweights who came up short against all those lean-mean-fighting-machine pretty boys. Take that, Charles Atlas!

HENRY HASCUP– historian; President of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame:  The Ups and Downs of Andy Ruiz! Andy Ruiz shocked the boxing World twice in one year! First, when no one gave him a chance he came off the canvas to stop Anthony Joshua, who was being regarded as the next Great One, to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World! Then just 6 months later Andy shocked the boxing world again when he came into the ring 15 pounds heavier and in no condition to defend his title and now is regarded as an embarrassment.

CHUCK HASSON — writer, historian: Boxing Makes a Positive Comeback in 2019.

DANNY HOWARD — writer: 2019: The Year We (Almost) Got it Right. Our year in the ring featured shocking upsets, career defining moments and was packed to the brim with spectacular fights and fan engagement was the best it has been in the post- Mayweather era. Unfortunately, shades of the iron curtain have slowly fallen once again as the streaming networks begin to draw the battle lines, executives and media personalities once again aimed to steal the spotlight and the best possible fights that can be made face an insurmountable layer of red tape.

DR. STUART KIRSCHENBAUM — Boxing Commissioner Emeritus, State of Michigan: Raging Bulloney. 2019 marked the year in boxing when the bull hit the fan. We have slowly witnessed the demise of boxing as the king of sports. The one-time boxing fan can no longer name more champions than there are fingers on his hand. It is as impossible to have a conversation with another sports fan about boxing as it is to figure out the crimes Trump committed for impeachment. Most of your major news publications do not have a boxing writer…but just use the wire services. Reporters are so young that they don’t even recognize names that come across the news desk of deceased legendary champions or names of inductees into a hall of fame. Musical chairs of champions losing their title on their first defense is commonplace. Bling and entourage have replaced substance and loyalty. Is it so bad that no one has even noticed or yet cared what has happened?  “Yeah….I’m talkin’ to you.”

JIM LAMPLEY — linchpin of the HBO Boxing announcing team, 2015 IBHOF inductee: My title is The Relentless Tide Of Globalism Strengthens.

ARNE LANG TSS editor-in-chief, author, historian: I might title it with a metaphor such as The Levee Has Been Breached. In 2019, boxing was suddenly bursting out all over, resulting in many attractive shows going head-to-head with other attractive shows. This was the result of the sport’s new economic model with promoters contractually bound to provide a steady stream of fresh content to their live-streaming partners.

 JIMMY LANGE — former boxer and promoter: It Ain’t the 80’s No More. This might sound negative but it’s not intended to be. Many complain that boxing has greatly diminished since the 50’s, but it’s still great with many outstanding fights in 2019.

RON LIPTON — A member of the New Jersey and New York Boxing Halls of Fame, former fighter, active pro referee and retired police officer: Holding the Big Fights at Madison Square Garden. Other wonderful venues in New York State such as Barclays Center, the renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Resorts World, and Turning Stone keep big time professional boxing alive and well in the Empire State, yet the illuminating, electric and almost magical feeling that boxing fans visibly experience while attending a Madison Square Garden fight show takes on a life of its own as it certainly did in 2019. In refereeing several shows at MSG in 2019 the magic of it all never leaves me for a moment. Boxing at MSG remained as exciting to me as it did in the early 60’s when I attended every boxing show at the old Garden, never missing a prelim.

In mourning the loss of Patrick Day, it comforts me to know that his happiest career moment may have been winning the WBC Continental Americas Super Welterweight belt at Barclays Center where it was my honor to referee him that night.

PAUL MAGNO — author and writer: Business vs. Boxing. 2019 was the year the sport had to battle the business to keep from having its life force snuffed out. With so much talk about the business of boxing and why the best fights couldn’t be made, fighters were still able to show why boxing is such a magical sport. Joshua-Ruiz I, Golovkin-Derevyanchenko, Pascal-Browne, Cano-Linares, etc. were fights born out of cynicism and negativity where the will and drive of an underdog– one man with two fists—flipped the script and made for memorable moments. The business of the sport may be preventing some of the biggest and most anticipated fights from happening, but it hasn’t taken the spirit from the fighters just yet.

ROBERT MLADINICH— former boxer, former NY Detective, writer, author, actor (see him in The Irishman): Fleeced. Because after the first Ruiz-Joshua fight I was excited about my love affair with boxing being rekindled. It was all taken away in the rematch. Both fights reminded me of all that I love and loathe about the Sweet Science.

RUSSELL PELTZ — venerable Philadelphia boxing promoter and 2004 IBHOF inductee: It was another year in which the promoters who control television did what was best for their own company but not what was best for the long-term health of the sport.

FRED ROMANO — researcher formerly associated with ESPN, historian, author: Here Come the Young GunsIn 2019 a group of exciting young fighters moved forward in their quest to become boxing stars. This cadre of boxers include T. Lopez, D. Haney, G. Davis, R. Garcia and V. Ortiz. 2019 was the set-up year and 2020 should tell us who is legit and who is a product of promotional and media hype.

DANA ROSENBLATT — former middleweight champion of the world, inspirational speaker and TV host: Canelo Alvarez. In 2019, in his defeats of another two fighters that had odds makers questioning the matchups, Alvarez exhibited his dominance of the sport of boxing.

TED SARES — TSS writer:  Viva Mexico. There were/are seven world champions of Mexican heritage at one point during the year—Saul Álvarez, Miguel Berchelt, Leo Santa Cruz. Rey Vargas, Emanuel Navarrete. Juan Francisco Estrada, and Elwin Soto—and, of course, Andy Ruiz.

ALAN SWYER — filmmaker, writer, and producer of the acclaimed “El Boxeo”: Why Every Boxing Trainer in The World is Happy. Why?  Because if Andy Ruiz had beaten Joshua again, it would have given license to every aspiring boxer to skip workouts and eat three more desserts.

Observations:

The answers reflected an overview in some cases or turned on a specific event in others.

Andy Ruiz took a piñata–like pounding and that was predictable, but there was surprisingly little mention of the ring deaths that occurred during the year.

A common thread had to do with boxing’s new business model with more fights brought to the masses via live-streaming.

While many (but far from all) acclaimed 2019 as an excellent year in boxing, the biggest surprise (to me at least) were the number of potential respondents who have lost interest in boxing. For the most part, these were students of boxing history who recalled the days when the best often fought the best.

Any discussion about the advent of new business models and how they differ from those of yore seemed to go by the wayside for them as modern boxing was simply bypassed. Then again, maybe it IS the advent of such new business models that have turned off so many historians.

In the meantime, what would be the title of your article covering 2019?

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

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USA Olympic Boxing Team Sputters After a Strong Start

Arne K. Lang

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USA Olympic Boxing Team Sputters After a Strong Start

Boxers from the United States were collectively 6-1 during the first four days of competition at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics. The only boxer that failed to advance was women’s featherweight Yarisel Ramirez. A late addition to the U.S. squad and the youngest member of the 10-person team, the 21-year-old Ramirez, born in Cuba and raised in Las Vegas, lost a unanimous decision to Croatia’s Nikolina Cacic.

Middleweight Troy Isley (Alexandria, Virginia) turned away the well-seasoned Belarussian Vitali Bandarenka in his first bout, but came up short in his second, losing a split decision to Russia’s Gleb Bakshi, the #2 seed. Likewise, Ginny Fuchs (Houston, TX) won her first bout, but couldn’t get past the second hurdle. The 33-year-old LSU grad was defeated by veteran Bulgarian campaigner Stoyka Krasteva.

Middleweight Naomi Graham (Fayetteville, NC) saw her first action on Wednesday and was eliminated by Russia’s Zemfira Magomedaliev who prevailed on a split decision. Cincinnati featherweight Duke Ragan, who overcame France’s Samuel Kristohurry in his first bout, was more fortunate. Ragan got over the second hump with a unanimous decision over Kazakhstan’s Serik Temirzhanov. That sets up a date on Sunday with Northern Ireland’s well-regarded Kurt Walker. The winner is assured of at least a bronze medal.

Toledo welterweight Oshae Jones scored a split decision over Mexico’s Brienda Cruz and now faces Maria Moronta of the Dominican Republic. The match goes tomorrow (Friday, July 30) with a scheduled start time of 5:03 am EST. Lynn, Massachusetts lightweight Rashida Ellis, who like Jones is a member of a prominent boxing family, makes her Olympic debut tomorrow and she’s matched tough. Her opponent, Caroline Dubois, who sports a 36-2 record, is the sister of the fearsome British heavyweight Daniel Dubois.

With two wins under his belt, 22-year-old Cleveland welterweight Delante “Tiger” Johnson is the most advanced member of the U.S. team, but one suspects that he is living on borrowed time. He vaulted into the quarterfinals with wins over Argentina’s Brian Arregui and Kazakhstan’s Ablaikhan Zhussupov, winning both by split decision. Up next for Johnson is Cuba’s 303-fight veteran Roniel Iglesias, a two-time Olympian who won gold at the 2012 Games in London.

Norfolk, Virginia lightweight Keyshawn Davis, the most ballyhooed member of the U.S. team, won his opening round bout against Enrico La Cruz of the Netherlands and is now set to renew acquaintances with Sofiane Oumiha of France who he defeated in a 2019 tournament in Russia. Oumiha defeated Teofimo Lopez and former IBF world flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng en route to a berth in the finals at the 2016 Olympiad in Rio.

Super heavyweight Richard Torrez Jr (Tulare, CA) was the only male boxer in the U.S. contingent to be seeded. The team’s captain, Torrez was given the #3 seed in a division with a clear-cut favorite in Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov.

Torrez rolled into the quarterfinals with a one-sided decision over Algeria’s Chaouib Bouloudinats. He now faces Dainier Pero, a 21-year-old Cuban who was awarded a split decision over Torrez at a 2019 tournament in Lima, Peru. The last U.S. super heavyweight to medal was Riddick Bowe who settled for silver after being stopped by Lennox Lewis at Seoul in 1988.

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The Agony of Defeat

Ted Sares

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The Agony of Defeat

Bad decisions are as much a part of boxing as enswell, but reactions from the losers vary widely.

The look on Roberto Duran’s face wasn’t agony, but it was something pretty close when the judges ruled against him in his 1996 bout with Hector Camacho. The crowd booed when the scores were announced: 115-113, 116-113, and an unbelievable 117-111, all for the “Macho” man. In the eyes of many, the well-conditioned Duran had controlled the fight since round five.

When George Foreman was robbed in his 1997 fight with Shannon Briggs, he simply left the ring and retired while the crowd screamed Bull****! Bull****! Bull****!

The same happened when Dave Tiberi was robbed in his infamous 1992 fight with James Toney at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Tiberi simply walked away in disgust and never boxed again. Widely considered one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history, this one prompted a federal investigation. Donald Trump’s disgust was such that he reportedly banned boxing in all of his casinos for six months.

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“To be able to fight the number one person in the world [Toney], during his heyday, and in my heart of hearts, knowing that I did everything I had to do to be able to win the world championship, I’m at peace.” — Dave Tiberi

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Toney himself got a taste of it in the first of his two fights with Samuel Peter. Visibly and pleasantly surprised by the result. Peter literally ran to his dressing room to celebrate, while Toney stood in his corner seemingly in shock with his hands on the ropes and his face looking down in disbelief at the SD loss. He would never be quite the same.

Paul Williams “win” over Erislandy Lara was such a rank decision that all three judges were suspended. Similar to Dave Tiberi, Lara did not make a big fuss though his boxing stock went up.

This writer scored the 2007 fight between Jose Armando Santa Cruz and Joel Casamayor 119-109 in favor of Santa Cruz and many sitting at ringside had it the same way. When the bell rang ending the fight, Casamayor was lifted up as the anticipated winner. “I thought ‘Oh Oh,’ said Jim Lampley, “the crowd seems a little nonplussed that someone would lift Casamayor as if he won.”

In fact, the crowd booed loudly in disbelief when the decision by the relatively inexperienced judges went in favor of Casamayor. Frank Lombardi and Ron McNair scored it 114-113 for the Cuban while Tony Paolillo scored it 114-113 for Santa Cruz. Again, cries of Bull**** Bull**** Bull**** rained down.

“Just when you think you have seen everything– every bizarre decision — something like this happens,” said Lampley. Harold Lederman chimed in: “That’s a tough decision to explain. It was dreadful. I wish I had a stronger word.” Max Kellerman added, “That’s just not a bad decision; that’s an outright robbery.”

However, they all witnessed it again when Tim Bradley “beat “Manny Pacquiao in 2012. That one should be expunged.

Tapia vs Ayala

 In 1999, in his 49th professional fight, Johnny Tapia suffered his first loss, losing a decision and the WBA title to Paulie Ayala in The Ring magazine’s “Fight of the Year.” Later that year, the tightly wound Tapia attempted suicide and required hospitalization.

 The following year, Ayala defeated Tapia again in another wild and hellacious fight. Early on, Tapia wobbled Ayala after which the two traded bombs. Johnny appeared to be in control but he was taking his share of Ayala ‘s incoming and sharp blows. After twelve rounds, Tapia was lifted up by his cornermen and had no doubt (in his mind) that he had won. But when Ayala was once again declared the winner by unanimous decision, Tapia became enraged and a look of pure agony appeared on his face. That look said it all; it was indelible. And it might well have been the precursor to more demonic issues down the line.

“We all have our demons…But Johnny had them to an extent that’s almost impossible to believe. He was fighting addiction. He was fighting mental illness. He spent years in jail…”  Lou DiBella

For the losers, this was all about the pain of knowing—correctly or not— that you won but realizing you hadn’t.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

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Top 12 New England Boxing Ratings as of July 2021

Jeffrey Freeman

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For the sake of these regionalized rankings, the New England region officially consists of Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. And I know I don’t have to remind TSS readers that the glory days of Willie Pep and world title fights at the old Boston Garden are over.

It’s now 2021.

New England boxing boasts only one current world champion to crow about and no top contenders to get too excited about. The championship run of New Haven’s Chad Dawson and the championship aspirations of Worcester’s Edwin Rodriquez are presently a thing of the past.

What we have here now are mostly youngish prospects and a few potential contenders with a mix of would-be Micky Ward types scattered throughout. What follows are the twelve best and most accomplished New England boxers in all weight classes from the above mentioned states.

Top 12 New England Ratings:

1. Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade, Providence, Rhode Island: The current WBO middleweight champion was recently made to look like a fool after crashing a Canelo Alvarez post-fight presser to declare his fandom and be accused of fighting “no body man” by a smirking Alvarez.

The 33-year-old Andrade is 30-0 (18) and desperate for a payday! Since winning the vacant WBO 160- pound strap in 2018 at the Boston Garden with a boring decision over Walter Kautondokwa, Andrade has beaten four B-level boxers, stopping only one of them with some help from the referee. Eddie Hearn is a good promoter but even he can’t make us like Boo-Boo.

2. Rashidi Ellis, Lynn Massachusetts: The speedy younger brother of Akeem, “Speedy” Rashidi is 23-0 (14) at welterweight and is rated #23 at 147 by BoxRec. Ellis, 28, went pro in Boston in 2013 and fought there three more times before taking his act on the road, fighting frequently in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Ellis has not fought since a 12-round unanimous decision over undefeated Alexis Rocha in 2020. The win earned Speedy Rashidi a minor title.

Promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy, Ellis’ win over Rocha came as a surprise as Rocha was an undefeated GBP prospect beaten by Ellis in his own California backyard.

3. Mark DeLuca, Whitman, Massachusetts: At 33, the “Bazooka” is the most battle-hardened fighter on this list at 27-2 with 15 knockouts. DeLuca avenged the first loss of his career, decisioning Walter Wright at the Boston Garden in 2018. In 2020, he travelled to Sheffield, U.K. for a Matchroom match-up with Kell Brook. DeLuca was knocked out in 7 one-sided rounds.

Despite the setback, DeLuca stayed active in 2020 with two wins late in the year. DeLuca went to Tijuana last February to pick up a win and he’s scheduled to face Charles Conwell in Cleveland next month. Conwell, 15-0 with 11 knockouts, fatally defeated Patrick Day in 2019.

4. Ronald Ellis, Lynn, Massachusetts: AKA Akeem, this 31-year-old super middleweight has been a professional since 2011. In that ten year period, Ellis battled his way up to big fight opportunities, winning some, losing some—and drawing in others. Ellis dropped a Showtime televised decision to DeAndre Ware in 2019 before rebounding that same year to decision Immanuwel Aleem in Brooklyn, NY. Ellis will fight anywhere and he always comes to win.

In 2020, Ellis got a win over veteran Matt Korobov when the Russian broke his ankle and was unable to continue in the bout at Mohegan Sun Casino in CT. Ellis was then stopped last March in 11 rounds by David Benavidez at the same venue. Ellis is now 18-2-2 with 12 knockouts.

The Ellis brothers’ younger sister Rashida is boxing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for Team USA at 60 kg. With a 45-16 record in 61 bouts, the 26-year-old is determined to win a Gold medal.

5. “Marvelous” Mykquan Williams, Hartford, Connecticut: This 23-year-old welterweight is signed to DiBella Entertainment and is managed by Jackie Kallen. At 16-0-1 with 7 knockouts, Williams broke his pandemic-induced inactivity last January at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut with a 10-round unanimous decision over undefeated (15-0) Yeis Gabriel Solano on Showtime.

In his final bout of 2019, before missing all of 2020, Williams was held to an 8-round draw in Brooklyn by a southpaw spoiler named Tre’Sean Wiggins. A recent automobile accident resulted in a broken wrist, thus “Marvelous” Mykquan will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

6. Toka Kahn Clary, Providence, Rhode Island: Once a highly touted local prospect, the professional reality of Toka Khan, 29, is clear. At 28-3, this southpaw featherweight has been knocked out by a nobody and beaten by decision twice when he stepped up to world level.

In 2020, Khan was beaten by Shakur Stevenson in Las Vegas, losing every round on all cards. In 2018, he was outclassed at the Boston Garden by British world title challenger Kid Galahad.

7. Kendrick Ball Jr., Worcester, Massachusetts: The now 28-year-old super middleweight mostly flew under the radar while fighting for Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment and Sports (CES) on Mr. B’s Twin River, Rhode Island undercards. After a win here, a draw there, and a loss there later, the tall Ball (6’ 2”) won twice in 2020 (and in 2019) before decisioning veteran Bryan Vera last April in Derry, New Hampshire on a Granite Chin promoted show.

Ball, 16-1-2 (11) is scheduled to main event the CES card scheduled for August 7 in Springfield, Massachusetts at the recently reopened MGM casino venue in the western part of the state.

8. Greg Vendetti, Stoneham, Massachusetts: The Murphys Boxing promoted “Villain” Vendetti (now 31) is a come-forward fighter who earned his chops on the local scene before stepping up and into the international fray with mixed results. A 2018 win over Yoshihiro Kamegai in California was followed by a devastating second-round knockout loss to Michel Soro in France.

Vendetti regrouped with a pair of local decision wins in 2019 before going back to California for a 2020 shot at Erislandy Lara’s two junior middleweight titles. Vendetti, now 22-4-1 (12), dropped a wide 12-round unanimous decision to the very defensively oriented Cuban freedom fighter.

9. Cassius Chaney, New London, Connecticut: This 34-year-old super-sized heavyweight got a late start in boxing in 2015 after relocating from Baltimore to Connecticut and switching sports. At six foot six, Chaney played basketball in college. In boxing, Chaney is undefeated at 20-0 with 14 KOs and he is Greg Page huge! His afro is even bigger. According to his bio on the Main Events website, Chaney boasts an 85-inch reach and was named after Cassius Clay. With a degree in sports management, he’s a stinker and a thinker! Still, despite being named after the GOAT, this Cassius is still in 8-rounders and hasn’t fought anyone expected to challenge him.

Chaney won four times in 2019, twice in 2020 and he is scheduled to fight on the Rivera Promotions show (New England’s Future VII) on August 14 at the Worcester Palladium.

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10. Richard “Popeye” Rivera, Hartford, Connecticut: The most charismatic fighter on this list, Rivera is a free-swinging cruiserweight who gladly plays the part of Popeye The Sailor Man, bringing a pipe to the ring and singing the trademarked “Toot Toot” jingle. After blasting out “Vermont Bully” Kevin Cobbs in 2018, Rivera has been extremely active, winning four more times that year, seven more times in 2019 and twice in 2020. Rivera won another stay-busy fight last February in Orlando, Florida, a first-round knockout of some Mexican punching bag.

At 19-0 with 14 knockouts, Rivera is back in action on next month’s (August 14) RPE promoted show in Worcester, Massachusetts at the Palladium where he made his pro debut back in 2017.

11. Jamaine Ortiz, Worcester, Massachusetts: This Jimmy Burchfield promoted lightweight is 14-0-1 (8). Last April, he showed great promise on a Top Rank promoted show in Florida, drawing in 8 with undefeated (14-0-2) TR prospect Joseph Adorno. Many ringsiders felt that Ortiz, 25, deserved to get the win and that Adorno was fortunate to keep his unbeaten record.

12. Irvin Gonzalez, Worcester, Massachusetts: Now 14-3 with 11 knockouts, the losses are starting to pile up for this once highly regarded featherweight prospect. Before losing his “0” by knockout in 2019 to journeyman Elijah Pierce at Foxwoods Casino, there was talk of Gonzalez being signed by Evander Holyfield’s upstart promotional company. Three months later, Gonzalez lost again at Foxwoods, this time a wide 10-round decision loss to Toka Khan.

Gonzalez also lost his most recent fight, an 8-round split decision loss to Texas tough-guy Edward Vazquez in Los Angeles on a Jimmy Burchfield promoted show in November of 2020.

Irvin is still only 25, he can build back better.

KO’s Honorable Mentions: Chris Traietti (cruiserweight, Quincy, MA), Ryan Kielczweski (lightweight, Quincy, MA) and Brandon “The Cannon” Berry (welterweight, West Forks, Maine).

The 35-year-old Traietti is more promoter than active fighter these days but he still laces up the gloves on his own Granite Chin Promotions shows and he sports a 30-4 (24) record. He was beaten by Lowell’s Joey McCreedy, Worcester’s Edwin Rodriguez and by Mike Lee in Chicago.

Known as the “Polish Prince” in the ring, Kielczweski turned pro in 2008 and racked up a 22-0 record before his first decision loss in 2015 to Danny Aquino. Momentum killing decision losses to Miquel Flores, Frank De Alba, Tommy Coyle, and Gabriel Flores have stalled his career at 35.

All of which brings us to Maine’s Brandon Berry. A short little welterweight with no reach and little in the way of technique, Berry gets by on pure heart. The 33-year-old is now 22-5-2 (15) and has both fought and promoted himself to 9 straight victories since a pair of losses in 2018.

Berry now fights for the memory of best friend Joel Bishop, a fellow boxer who died on Berry’s wedding night in 2017. Berry has overcome personal tragedy, humiliating losses in the ring and a shoulder injury requiring surgery to carve out a respectable professional boxing career.

*** As noted above there are a few New England shows scheduled that local live fans should know about. Next Saturday night on July 31, Vertex Promotions has a club show scheduled in Dedham, MA featuring several novice local pros in action. Then on August 7 in Springfield, MA, CES is putting on a show at the MGM Springfield with Kendrick Ball Jr. in the main event.

Promoter Jose Antonio Rivera (the former WBA junior middleweight champion) is then back at the Palladium in Worcester, MA on August 14 with “New England’s Future VII” featuring the return of the popular “Popeye” Rivera. And on August 28 in Derry, NH, Chris Traietti’s Granite Chin promotions returns for what Chris calls an “invitational elite class boxing tournament.”

Boxing Writer Jeffrey Freeman grew up in the City of Champions, Brockton, Massachusetts from 1973 to 1987, during the Marvelous career of Marvin Hagler. JFree then lived in Lowell, Mass during the best years of Irish Micky Ward’s illustrious career. A former member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a Bernie Award Winner in the Category of Feature Story Under 1500 Words. Freeman covers boxing for The Sweet Science in New England.

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Pac-Man-Touches-Down-in-LA-Leaving-Behind-a-Political-Firestorm
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