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Chocolatito’s Stunning Victory Highlights This Week’s Edition of HITS AND MISSES

Kelsey McCarson

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Stunning Highlights of Chocolatito vs Yafai: This Week’s Edition of HITS & MISSES

Boxing fans headed into the weekend wondering whether Mikey Garcia could legitimately compete in the welterweight ranks but likely left it in awe of former pound-for-pound flyweight king Roman Gonzalez.

Chocolatito’s stunning victory over previously undefeated WBA junior bantamweight titleholder Khalid Yafai was the highlight, overshadowing other happenings all over the place that vied for our attention.

Here are the biggest HITS and MISSES from the latest weekend in boxing.

HIT – Roman Gonzalez’s Vintage Performance Against Khalid Yafai

Former flyweight king Roman Gonzalez seemed handpicked by Khalid Yafai’s handlers to be the first big name on the 30-year-old’s resume. Instead, Gonzalez (pictured on the left) handed Yafai the first loss of his professional career, and he did so in stunning fashion by scoring a ninth-round stoppage.

I’m not really sure why Yafai tried to stand in front of a historically great pressure fighter like Gonzalez and tried to outwork him. Sure, he was presumably bigger, faster, stronger and younger than the 32-year-old Gonzalez. But it was a dumb move made even dumber by the fact that he never abandoned the plan when it became clear he was losing the fight.

Regardless, Gonzalez has a title belt again, and the big win sets up the future Hall of Famer for even more riveting matchups down the line.

MISS – The Entirely Unnecessary Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder Rematch

Tyson Fury beat the brakes off Deontay Wilder last weekend in Las Vegas, but the following weekend Wilder enacted his rematch clause to force the third fight.

In scoring the dominant seventh-round stoppage win the prior weekend, Fury proved, without doubt, he was the far superior heavyweight. But Wilder shockingly laid at least part of the blame afterward on his ring walk costume.

Nevermind that Fury had already proved he was the better boxer than Wilder in December 2018 and that only Wilder’s tremendous power had saved him. Nevermind how Fury completely dismantled Wilder in the rematch. Wilder blamed a costume.

Look, it’s not so much that Wilder doesn’t deserve the rematch someday. Wilder held the WBC belt for half a decade. He certainly deserves the chance to get it back again.

Rather, it’s that Fury looked so much bigger, stronger and just plain better than Wilder during the second fight that there seems virtually nothing Wilder could possibly do before July that would give the fighter a reasonable chance to win.

Wilder-Fury 1 was awesome. Wilder-Fury 2 was definitive. Wilder-Fury 3, or we should probably call it Fury-Wilder 3 now, is completely unnecessary.

HIT – Mikey Garcia’s Obsession With Capturing a Welterweight Title  

If Mikey Garcia were in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, he’d most definitely be Captain Ahab and the White Whale would be any of the 147-pound title belts. So, Garcia entered his fight against Jessie Vargas with huge plans despite the thumping he’d taken against Errol Spence last year in the same weight class.

But Garcia’s single-minded obsession with the idea netted fans a solid scrap. Garcia earned the nod from the judges, but it sure wasn’t easy, at least not until Garcia hurt and dropped Vargas in the fifth round.

In beating Vargas, though, Garcia proved he can compete at 147. I’m still not convinced he can win a world title against the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Terence Crawford or Spence in a rematch, but I’m certainly interested in watching him try.

It’s rare for a lightweight like Garcia to try his hand at winning a world title two weight classes above where he probably should be fighting. Rarer still for one to stay there when almost nobody else seems to think it’s a good idea.

But Garcia believes in himself and wants the test. I’d much rather see great fighters try and fail than what most other people do.

MISS – Deontay Wilder’s Obsession With Death

Deontay Wilder has been one of the most surprising stories in the history of heavyweight boxing. He didn’t start boxing until he was an adult. He never looked like he’d be able to build enough skill to become a world champion. He’s likable, fun and super accomplished.

All that’s awesome.

But his whole thing about wanting a body on his record is dumb, and the additional idea that Wilder is ready to die in the ring is also lame.

Friday, Widler released a video on Instagram referring to himself as “The King” and saying “the war has just begun.” Admittedly, the 34-year-old is probably just trying to rally support as he heads into the third Fury fight later this summer. But wanting a body on his record? Being willing to die to get it? War?!

Boxing is a sport. It’s a dangerous sport, but it’s a sport, and Wilder’s rhetoric has grown super tiresome over the years, as is the idea that seemingly nobody on his team or anybody making money off his name has the good sense to help him figure out why that’s the case.

HIT –  Joseph Parker and the Depth of Boxing’s Glamour Division

Did New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker come onto the scene at the wrong time? I remember watching Parker train in 2015 with Wladimir Klitschko and how excited HBO’s Peter Nelson was about him as a prospect.

Indeed, Parker went on to capture a vacant world title against Andy Ruiz in 2016. After two defenses, Parker lost that belt via decision to Anthony Joshua in 2018. He subsequently lost later that same year to Dillian Whyte in a close fight but has won three straight since, including his fifth-round knockout of Shawndell Winters on Saturday.

When Nelson was excited about Parker five years ago, it seemed likely at the time that he’d be one of the best heavyweights in boxing someday. Sure, he’s legitimately one of the top contenders in 2020, but with the likes of Fury, Joshua and Wilder, it’s sort of been lost in the heavyweight mix just how solid a heavyweight Parker is.

But the fighter should get plenty more chances to prove himself against other top contenders going forward, and having heavyweights around like Parker is helping make heavyweight boxing in 2020 as exciting as it’s been in the last 25 years or so.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom Boxing USA

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Daniel Jacobs Edges Past Gabe Rosado on a Matchroom card in Florida

David A. Avila

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Former world champion Daniel Jacobs needed the last round to win by split decision against upset-minded Gabe Rosado and keep his place in line on Friday for lucrative super middleweight matchups.

But when the ring announcer erroneously announced the winner was from Philadelphia, confusion reigned for a moment until Jacobs was correctly called the winner.

Brooklyn’s Jacobs (37-3, 30 KOs) jumped out ahead against Philly fighter Rosado (25-13-1, 14 KOs) and held on for the win in front of no fans at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. For a second, many thought Rosado had won.

Both were careful during the first three rounds measuring each other’s distance and looking for openings to counter. There were very few.

It was the kind of fight expected by those who know boxing: two veterans with immense experience against top-flight world champions. Mistakes were few.

Jacobs, a former middleweight world champion, had fought Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in close but losing efforts.

Rosado had battled Golovkin too, six years ago in a bloody affair that ended in a loss. He had also lost to other champions like Peter Quillin and Jermell Charlo. But none were able to knock him out.

Both were aware of each other’s reputation. Bitter words had been exchanged for years and now they finally got their chance to prove their mettle and they did.

Though Jacobs was recognized as a knockout puncher, Rosado’s resilience was just as well known. Both neutralized each other for most of the fight with their feints and jabs to the body. Neither was willing to leave openings for each other.

Jacobs scored big with a left uppercut at the end of the seventh round. While Rosado wowed viewers with a sizzling right cross in the 11th round.

It was 1950s style, boxing with intelligence. Each found it difficult to land combinations, let alone find openings to score knockout blows. Instead, they had to be satisfied with scoring enough to convince three judges the actual winner.

Neither was able to pull out ahead with any conviction.

After 12 rounds one judge saw Rosado the winner 115-113 while two others saw Jacobs the winner 115-113 to give him the win by split decision.

“It felt just a little weird. It felt like a sparring match,” said Jacobs about fighting without fans in the audience. “This wasn’t a valiant effort.”

Rosado was certain he was the true winner.

“I thought I won the fight. I surprised him,” said Rosado who trained with Freddie Roach for this fight. “I’m a veteran, I know how to fight.”

Indeed, he does.

Jacobs now stands poised to fight one of many super middleweight champions in need of a marquee name.

“I live to see another day,” he said honestly.

Other Bouts

Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Yeleussinov (10-0, 6 KOs) proved he was not an easy touch and knocked out former world champion Julius Indongo (23-3, 12 KOs) to march forward in the welterweight division while grabbing the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title.

In a fight featuring southpaw versus southpaw Yeleussinov caught Indongo with a roundhouse left the first time they exchanged and down went the former super lightweight world champion. Indongo beat the count and survived the round.

Indongo wasn’t as lucky in the second round as Yeleussinov again connected with a left and down went the fighter from Namibia again. He would not get up at 1:24 of round two giving the knockout win for Yeleussinov.

A battle between undefeated heavyweights saw Azerbaijan’s Mahammadrasul Majidov (3-0, 3 KOs) use roundhouse rights to stagger the heavier Sahret Delgado (8-1) to win by knockout in the third round. Majidov actually helped Delgado get to his stool after knocking him out on his feet at 47 seconds of the third round.

Emmanuel Tagoe (32-1) defeated Mason Menard (36-5) by majority decision after a 10- round lightweight fight that saw a lot of clinching and leaning.

Nikita “White Chocolate” Ababiy (10-0) out-fought Detroit’s Brandon Maddox (7-4-1) to win by unanimous decision after six rounds in a middleweight clash. Ababiy hurt Maddox with body shots but found Maddox more resilient than expected.

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Pradabsri Upsets Menayothin, Ends the Longest Unbeaten Streak of Modern Times

Arne K. Lang

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During the wee hours in the Americas, a big upset was brewing in Thailand. In Nakhon Sawan, a city roughly 150 miles north of Bangkok, Panya Pradabsri (aka Petchmanee CP Freshmart) out-pointed Wanheng Menayothin (aka Chayaphon Moonsri) in a domestic clash with international significance. Manayothin entered the bout with a 54-0 (18) record and was making the 13th defense of his WBC world minimumweight title.

Pradabsri had been defeated only once in 35 previous starts, but only 11 of his 34 victories had come against fighters with winning records. According to ringside reports, he kept Menayothin at bay with good fundamentals, a stiff jab, and good lateral movement. All three judges had it 115-113. The fight wasn’t without controversy as Menayothin finished stronger and many folks scoring off the live video thought that he had done just enough to retain his title.

How good was/is Menayothin? That’s a question that serious boxing fans will likely debate for decades.

In the summer of 2019, Menayothin signed a co-promotional deal with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. At time, GBP president Eric Gomez described him as one of the best fighters in the world. “We really want to bring him to the U.S. so people can see how talented he really is,” Gomez told England’s Sky Sports.

Menayothin was expected to make his U.S. debut in April of this year, but the pandemic ruined that plan. Earlier this year, he announced his retirement, but rescinded it after only two days.

Scottish boxing historian Matt McGrain, who has an exclusive arrangement with this web site, had lukewarm opinion of the Thai mighty-mite although he rated him the second-best 105-pound boxer of the decade, trailing only his countryman Thammanoon Niyomtrong (aka Knockout CP Freshmart).

“He is disciplined, strong, brings good pressure and is armed with a very decent range of punches,” said McGrain, “(but his record) is comprised mostly of men any competent fighter would be expected to beat.”

Although only one boxer from Thailand has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (Khaosai Galaxy, class of 1999), the Southeast Asia nation has produced some outstanding boxers over the years – Chartchoi Chionoi, Sot Chitalada, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to name just a few. The difference between these fighters and Wanheng Menayothin is that they all left the comfort zone of their homeland to score one or more important wins on foreign soil.

Menayothin may yet display his wares in a U.S. ring. But at age 35, an advanced age for small fighters in particular, we won’t get to see him at his best and now that his bubble has been burst, disinviting further comparisons to Mayweather and Marciano, the curiosity factor has been tempered.

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Yoka vs. Hammer Kicks Off the Thanksgiving Weekend Slate on ESPN+

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PRESS RELEASE— Tony Yoka, the dynamic heavyweight punching Parisian, aims to impress in his ESPN platform debut. Yoka, who won a super heavyweight gold medal for France at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will fight veteran Christian Hammer in a 10-rounder Friday at H Arena in Nantes, France.

Yoka-Hammer will stream live and exclusively this Friday, Nov. 27 in the United States on ESPN+ beginning at 2:55 p.m. ET/11:55 a.m. PT.

The ESPN+ stream will also include the return of unbeaten 2016 French Olympic gold medalist Estelle Yoka-Mossely against Pasa Malagic in an eight-round lightweight bout. Yoka and Yoka-Mossely, who have been married since 2018, welcomed their second child in May.

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Earlier this year, Yoka inked a promotional agreement with Top Rank, which will co-promote him with Ringstar France.

“Tony Yoka’s potential is limitless, and he is a grounded young man who is motivated to be a great professional fighter,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “France has never had a world heavyweight champion, and I believe Tony is the one to bring the sport’s biggest honor home.”

The 28-year-old Yoka’s stellar amateur run included a berth at the 2012 London Olympics and gold medals at the 2015 World Championships and 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Before his triumph in Rio, he’d already defeated the likes of former heavyweight world champion Joseph Parker and current undefeated prospects Joe Joyce and Ivan Dychko. At the Rio Olympics, he defeated Croatian standout Filip Hrgović in the semifinals and edged Joyce in the gold medal match.

As a professional, Yoka (8-0, 7 KOs) made his debut in June 2017 with a second-round stoppage over the previously undefeated Travis Clark. Apart from a decision win over Jonathan Rice in his second outing, Yoka has stopped every foe, including durable Englishman David “White Rhino” Allen and former European champion Alexander Dimitrenko. He made his 2020 debut Sept. 25 and stopped former world title challenger Johann Duhaupas in one round.

Hammer (25-6, 15 KOs) has fought many of the leading heavyweight names during his 12-year career, falling short against Tyson Fury, Luis Ortiz and Alexander Povetkin. He’s notched myriad upset victories, including a highlight-reel knockout over David Price and a 2016 split decision over Erkan Teper for the WBO European belt. In March 2019, he went the 10-round distance against Ortiz and has not been stopped since Fury forced him to retire on his stool after eight rounds in their February 2015 clash.

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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