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Has the U.S. Lost its Presence in Boxing? Part One of a New Survey

Ted Sares

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More than 50 boxing notables shared their thoughts in our latest TSS survey. They came from all walks of boxing – former fighters, officials, writers, publicists, commentators, and especially boxing historians. We are listing the respondents alphabetically. PART ONE goes “A” through “L.”

I sincerely thank our respondents for their participation, particularly in these very difficult times.

JIMBO AMATO-author, writer, historian and memorabilia collector: From 175 pounds and up the Americans have faded on the international scene. From 168 down they are well represented. There are many potential big money fights there to made at the international level. This could be a very exciting year for boxing fans if the promoters could get these bouts put together.

RUSS ANBER-elite cornerman, trainer, owner of Rival Boxing Equipment: We need to define “major player in professional boxing” and the US still remains the land of opportunity as it pertains to the big fights and big events. The closest rival is the UK but if it doesn’t involve a UK fighter; they don’t have the same interest. The US is still a major player except there are now more players. The World Boxing Super Series is an example.  If you are talking about fighters, the answer is an unequivocal YES. Whether on the amateur or professional scene, the US and many western countries have lost their dominance as a result of the tide of professionals now making their way into the game from the former Soviet Bloc. The amateur game is a glaring example as it becomes a look into the future of what is to come. The US once the most powerful amateur nation in the world has had little success internationally compared to the reign of terror they once had. Two decades ago a top ten in any weight class was filled with  Americans. Those numbers have gone down as Eastern fighters have emerged. From the Klitschkos, to Loma, Usyk, Golovkin, Beterbiev, Bivol, etc. All these great fighters have come from countries that didn’t even turn pro a short time ago.

MATT ANDRZJEWSKI-TSS boxing writer: The US has definitely not lost its presence as a major player in boxing. The biggest fights, such as Fury-Wilder II, still mostly take place in the US and there is plenty of activity on a weekly basis in US based shows. The sport is more than alive and well in the United States.

DAVID AVILA-TSS West Coast Bureau Chief:  Absolutely not. Without being nationalistic, boxing is thriving more than ever before. Fighters come to the U.S. to make more money and have a bigger presence. Anywhere else is a small pond compared to the U.S. A big example remains the California area  remains the Southern California area that boasts more than 100 boxing gyms. Fighters from every part of the world are found in these gyms and get here any way they can. These are facts. Canelo moved from Mexico to the US and makes more money than almost every athlete in the world save baseball player Mike Trout and a few others.

BOB BENOIT-referee, judge, former fighter, and retired Massachusetts State Trooper: Yes, the USA has lost its dominance in World Boxing, thanks to the lack of promotion of pro and amateur boxing. Amateur boxing is run by those who don’t know the difference between a left jab and a right cross.

BRIAN “THE BIZZ” BIZZACK-historian, moderator of “Bizzy On Boxing”: Sadly, I believe this is true. The reasons are many: The collapse of the amateur system, the lack of quality trainers nowadays, the modern-day emergence of professional basketball and football as our primary sports of interest, and last but perhaps not least — the proliferation of sanctioning bodies and ‘world titles’ over the last few decades. This has alienated and confused the more casual mainstream sports fan, and for the young boy or man that once dreamed of capturing a singular WORLD crown (like Louis, Robinson, Marciano, Ali, and many others) what true “glory” is there… in capturing one of four, or god forbid seven or eight???

STEVE CANTON-the face of boxing in Florida: Most definitely. There are no good old-school trainers today who know how to properly train the tried and proven techniques. They are constantly trying to invent new ways and, as a result, we have fighters who can’t really fight. Today, it is two guys standing in front of each other banging away. It is “my turn, your turn” since they don’t know what else to do. When one throws punches the other waits until he is done and then it is their turn to throw punches. Fighters fight so infrequently, there are too many meaningless belts, the best don’t fight the best, too much PED use and cheating in the sport and on and on and on. Meanwhile, around the world fighters are busy, fighting frequently and building big fan bases. I still don’t see much in the way of better technique; I just see more activity which provides more opportunity to fighters in other countries.

ANTHONY CARDINALE-boxing manager, advisor, and nationally prominent defense attorney: I disagree. While many great fighters are coming out of Eastern Europe and Great Britain, we have many more top ten fighters in every weight class from the USA, and many more scheduled professional bouts. That said, one of the problems I see going forward is the practical demise of our amateur boxing programs here. Too many kids are opting to go pro instead of keeping in top international amateur competition which will only help them in the future.

GUY CASALE-former boxer, retired detective: I agree. The U.S. boxers don’t train or have the mindset of the boxers of years ago. Unlike their counterparts, U.S. fighters lack the hunger/drive!

MONTE COXformer boxer, historian: The number of participants in the U.S has greatly declined over the years. Circa 1920 there were 20 boxing shows a week in New York City alone, that’s more than a thousand shows just in the Big Apple. There were less than 600 boxing shows in the entire U.S for the year 2017, the last year I have stats for. A decline in participants means a decline in performance. So yes, boxing has declined.

JILL DIAMOND-WBC International Secretary; WBC Cares Chair: I don’t think there’s any one player or presence anymore. It’s a global sport and the different internet platforms have reinforced that. Having said that, some of the great talent and promoters are from the USA, and Vegas still draws record crowds.

CHARLIE DWYER-former fighter, professional referee, member of US Marines Boxing Hall of Fame: US dominance in boxing diminished since the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. Once the Eastern European fighters were allowed turn pro and leave their countries, the face of professional boxing changed worldwide.

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“Today’s fighters have trainers, assistant trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, nutritionists, spiritual advisors, massage therapists, matchmakers, booking agents, promoters, co-promoters, publicists, cutmen, “better training methods,” and assorted hangers-on and… are tired after a few rounds. Yesterday’s fighters had a trainer and promoter….and they went 15 rounds non-stop. The future is not what it used to be.” — Steve Canton

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RICK FARRIS-former Boxer and President of the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame: I agree that America has lost its place in both professional & amateur boxing. The last American male to win an Olympic Gold Medal was Andre Ward, who was an exceptional pro & amateur champion. He was the last, and I do not expect better in the future. If not for America being so weak in boxing, Eastern Europe would not be getting any notice, as they are not better than they were, just have less competition. I see little future for America in boxing, except for our females who have carried the torch alone.

BERNARD FERNANDEZ- TSS mainstay, lifetime member of the BWAA and 2020 IBHOF inductee: The United States’ domination of basketball ended, in a way, with the great success of the 1992 “Dream Team.” The world observed, and the world wanted its own Michael Jordan. Now the tide is turning in other international sports, including boxing and tennis. The rest of the planet wants what we have, or had, while the USA dares to think it can become a world power in soccer on a par with Europe and South America. A big reason for the lack of depth in boxing: quality big men, who might have become heavyweights, channeling their energies into football and basketball.

JERRY FITCH-writer, author, and historian: I do think boxing is not a major player in the US anymore, certainly not anywhere near what so many have enjoyed earlier, even 25-30 years ago. I feel boxing started going downhill when more and more alphabet groups were added. Then more weight classes were added. And whether anyone agrees or not I feel young kids nowadays could care less about boxing. Those with athletic ability turn to basketball or football. We have a hard time in Cleveland getting anywhere near 100 kids to enter the Golden Gloves. In the 1950s sometimes 100 kids entered from one gym locally. And there are not nearly enough quality trainers these days.

JEFFREY FREEMAN-(aka KO DIGEST); TSS writer: As evidenced by their deranged, degenerate reaction to Fury-Wilder 2 (on the internet and beyond) it is obvious to me that American fans and media can no longer handle heavyweight championship boxing in America. They make a mockery of it. The sport and its participants are much better served by the British fans and by the British business model for big time professional boxing.

RICK GAGNE-historian: The U.S. isn’t the powerhouse that it was, but we still have more champions than any other country. We never were kings of the little men. Our amateur program has devolved far more than the pros.

CLARENCE GEORGE-writer and historian: The U.S. is still a major player, though perhaps not as major as it once was. A significant change is the location of heavyweight championship fights. But this phenomenon predates Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz Jr. II by several decades. Think of Joe Frazier vs. George Foreman in Kingston, Jamaica, on January 22, 1973; Foreman vs. Ken Norton in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 26, 1974; Foreman vs. Muhammad Ali in Kinshasa, Zaire, that October 30; and Ali vs. Frazier in Quezon City, the Philippines, on October 1, 1975. Harrumph — all those bouts should have taken place at Madison Square Garden.

LEE GROVESwriter, author, researcher and CompuBox punch counter: I don’t think the U.S. has lost its presence as a major player but it is sharing the stage with more players. Fighters outside of the U.S. still see value in being seen — and being marketed — in America (see Tyson Fury) but boxing has become an even more global sport thanks to the Internet. To me, the more the merrier. As long as boxing grows, it’s all good.

HENRY HASCUP- boxing historian and President of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame: Up until the late 1960’s the three most popular sports in the US were baseball, horse racing and boxing. Now boxing is way down the list because we have so many other sports that are played or we watch on TV. I believe the fighters are much more popular in some other countries as US major sports stars are in other sports! However, in 2019 the US had a total of 603 shows, which is still more than any other country.

CHUCK HASSON-historian and writer: For over a century U.S. boxing was the pinnacle of world boxing. But in recent years, with the influx of top Eastern European boxers helping to infuse huge interest throughout the continent and terrific fighters from Britain, Ireland, Germany, it has made for a golden age of European boxing. After being behind the U.S. for so long, it’s nice to see them stepping out from under our shadow. But I am hopeful we can take back the mantle soon.

DANNY HOWARD-boxing writer: Boxing is a global sport and the decline of a strong American presence among competitors was only really a talking point for the heavyweight division. This isn’t anything new. The biggest fights in the world still happen in America. Americans aren’t exactly flocking to support their homegrown heroes, they just want blood and guts like every other fight fan, regardless of what language they speak or where they come from.

BRUCE KIELTYbooking agent; boxing historian: There is no question that US boxing continues a long slide downhill. Amateur boxing is on life-support in most areas. Today’s millennials find MMA far more violent and entertaining and perfect for those with minute attention spans. MMA has been successfully marketed as a blood sport and doesn’t have the number of corrupt sanctioning bodies that are such a drag on boxing. Also, boxing during periods of high employment is seen as an unnecessary low-paying and dangerous pursuit.

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“They ought to cut this junk-throwing at boxing. The mollycoddles  and pinheads  never gave it a square deal.”  – John L. Sullivan

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STUART KIRSCHENBAUM-Boxing Commissioner Emeritus, State of Michigan: I agree the US has lost its presence. Once the King of Sports, it’s food chain…young amateur boxers, have virtually dried up. As a way out of ethnic ghettos there are easier ways to success, some not legal. The sport is homeless in the sense that public recreation centers and privately owned gyms with boxing programs are too costly to maintain and liability is too rampart. Regular local boxing shows are rare with the disappearance of promoters willing to risk financial loss and contracted professionals with no venues to develop their careers. Newspapers and TV news have done away with boxing writers. You can never see the top boxers on TV unless you skip paying for your prostate medication and subsidize some temporary millionaire via your cable bill. The average sports fan is clueless who the major boxing champions are.

JIM LAMPLEY-legendary anchor of the HBO broadcasting team; 2015 IBHOF inductee: Obviously it is premature and exaggerated to suggest the US is not a “major player” in boxing or in any other form of entertainment. The audience here is too big for that. Is the nation’s position in the talent pool diminishing?? Maybe, but that has mostly to do with the growth of talent development in other countries. Pacquaio and Mayweather demonstrated the economic pyramid is no longer controlled by heavyweights exclusively, so now the whole planet wants to get on board. It’s the natural momentum of globalism, and it cannot be wished away.

ARNE LANG-TSS editor in chief, author, historian: There are actually three questions here depending on how one chooses to define “lost its presence.” Forgetting Saudi Arabia for the moment, the richest fights are still held on U.S. soil. All foreign pros dream about fighting in the U.S. From a skillfulness standpoint, however, the former Soviet bloc countries have vaulted ahead of us, notably in the four weight divisions from 160 to 200. How do I feel about it? I’m indifferent, but it would be nice to see the USA Olympic team recapture some of its lost glory.

RON LIPTON-former fighter, current pro referee, boxing historian and writer, member of the New Jersey and New York Boxing Hall of Fame and retired police officer: The U.S. has not lost its presence as a major player in professional boxing. The allure to defending your championship in the magic atmosphere of Madison Square Garden will never lose its prestige and luster. The boxing history there is written in stone and has an electricity that you feel and take with you after each major fight show. The fight fans that come to so many venues throughout the U.S. with so many wonderful locales radiating boxing excitement, keep the U.S. at the forefront of boxing excitement on planet earth.  I have respect for all the fan loyalty in other countries and what it means to all the boxing fans therein, yet we here in the U.S. feel the same way.

Coming Next: PART TWO (M-W) plus observations.

Photo: Ukrainian stablemates Oleksandr Usyk, Vasyl Lomachenko, and Oleksandr Gvozdyk

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Avila Perspective, Chap 111: Munguia, Tank and The Monster

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap 111: Munguia, Tank and The Monster

Here come some more hardcore fights.

As the end of the year approaches contracts must be honored. That’s a good thing for fight fans even during a pandemic.

Golden Boy Promotions brings a loaded fight card led by Mexican swing-from-the-heels fighter Jaime Munguia (35-0, 28 KOs) moving into the middleweight division against Tureano Johnson (21-2-1, 15 KOs) at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. DAZN will stream the Friday night fight card on Oct. 30.

Munguia (pictured opposite Johnson) just recently turned 24 years old; a couple of weeks ago. The former super welterweight world titlist out of Tijuana grew out of the division and now is mentored by boxing great Erik “El Terrible” Morales. No more swinging at anything that moves. Now it’s technical savagery.

Johnson, 36, hasn’t fought in over a year but in that last fight he knocked off Ireland’s undefeated Jason Quigley. That was not supposed to happen. The Bahamian native only has two losses and those were stoppages in the last round by Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Curtis Stevens. He has the technique, but does he have the chin?

Another savage battle involves welterweights.

New England’s Rashidi “Speedy” Ellis (22-0, 14 KOs) faces Orange County’s Alexis Rocha (16-0, 10 KOs) a hard-hitting southpaw in a showdown set for 12 rounds. Will it go that long?

Both have power and I doubt the fight goes beyond seven rounds. Both have ended fights in the opening rounds before. If someone blinks at the wrong time it could be over quickly.

Others on the card including super featherweight contender Lamont Roach and super middleweight prospect Bektemir Melikuziev. Also, female contenders Sulem Urbina and Marlen Esparza square off. Opening bout begins at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Crazy Saturday

A Matchroom Boxing fight card stemming from England showcases a Southern California-based world champion Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) meeting Dereck Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs) in the heavyweight main event.

Usyk, now 33, just recently conquered the cruiserweight division and was undisputed world champion and now deigns to move up in weight where the money is much better fighting the big boys. He’s a speedy Ukrainian southpaw who uses plenty of movement and has shocking power when he sets his feet.

Chisora, 36, has fought all of the top European heavyweights including another Ukrainian heavyweight named Vitali Klitschko. Though it hasn’t always been violets and roses for Chisora, he does pack a wallop and if he catches Usyk it could be all over. But his feet are made of stone and he will have problems moving in rhythm with the fleet-footed Usyk.

A co-main event features lightweight contenders Lee Selby (28-2, 9 KOs) pitted against George Kambosos Jr. (18-0, 10 KOs) in a Great Britain versus Australia battle.

Two female bouts with extra power are also on the card as Savannah Marshall (8-0) battles Hannah Rankin (9-4) for the vacant WBO middleweight title; and Amy Timlin (4-0) meets Carly Skelly (3-0) in a battle of undefeated super bantamweights.

The fight card will be streamed on DAZN at 11 a.m. Pacific Time.

Showtime

World champions collide with three-division world champion Leo Santa Cruz daring to move up yet another weight division and challenge the ultimate danger in super featherweight and lightweight world titlist Gervonta “Tank” Davis for his titles.

Danger is written all over this Showtime pay-per-view card on Saturday Oct. 31.

Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) has yet to be truly challenged by anyone. Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) has always been a risk taker and could be going way over his limit against Tank.

“I’m facing the best fighter in the division. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. I have to go against the best fighter,” said Santa Cruz. “I wanted to challenge myself. I know this is a dangerous fight for me, but I want to test myself.”

If Santa Cruz is still standing after 12 rounds then a big salute to him. Davis won’t allow that to happen. He’s not a guy who looks to win by decision. Tank looks to knock opponents unconscious so he can take pictures of them asleep.

“I don’t think I have to knock him out, I just have to go out there and be great. Forget everything else, I just have to go out there and show everyone that I’m the top guy in the boxing world. That’s my main goal,” said Davis.

Right.

It’s not the only good fight on the card.

Mario Barrios (25-0, 16 KOs) defends the WBA super lightweight title against Ryan Karl (18-2) in the co-main event.

Also, on the same card Regis Prograis (24-1, 20 KOs) meets Juan Heraldez (16-0-1, 10KOs) in a super lightweight matchup. Whoever wins will probably meet Barrios for his title soon after. That’s if Barrios beats Karl.

It’s a boxing card that could see the end of the line for one or two of the fighters.

Monster and Mayer

Japan’s Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) defends the WBA and IBF bantamweight world titles against Australia’s Jason Moloney (21-1, 18 KOs) at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas on Saturday October 31. It will be his Las Vegas debut and will be televised on ESPN+.

Inoue will be a big favorite and how can you blame odds makers when Moloney’s only loss was to Emmanuel Rodriguez who was blown out by the Monster?

But you never know.

“There are a lot of expectations, and I want to meet those expectations. I take those big expectations, and I use them as motivation and power to keep getting better with every fight,” said Inoue.

Inoue’s last fight nearly a year ago was an epic clash against Nonito Donaire in a classic battle that saw both deliver bombs and take them in a 12-round fight that ended in a close but unanimous victory for the Japanese star.

Boy was it close.

Until the 11th round it was nip and tuck as Donaire proved why he is destined to be a surefire Hall of Fame inductee when he retires.

Both punished each other and during their confrontation it was evident that Inoue does indeed have a solid chin. One big question will be if Inoue took too much punishment and can he handle a rough customer like Moloney.

“Every fighter should want to fight the best. That’s why we’re in this sport. My dream and my goal is to be the best bantamweight in the world, and the only way to make that happen is to beat Inoue,” said Moloney.

It should be an interesting match.

Also, female American Olympian Mikaela Mayer (13-0) challenges Poland’s Ewa Brodnicka (19-0) for the WBO super featherweight world title. Expect no quarter given by Mayer who has been gunning for a title challenge for the past two years with most of the titleholders in Europe ignoring her.

Brodnicka expects a tough fight.

“I have a lot of things against me. But I’m ready. I don’t care if she says that she doesn’t respect me. She makes a lot of mistakes, and I’m going to take advantage of all of them,” Brodnicka said.

Mayer is not in a good mood.

“I have been calling out the champs for a while. It’s been something I feel like I’ve been ready for a few fights, but now in hindsight looking back, I think everything worked out perfectly. Like Bob Arum said, I’ve had some really great fights, and I’ve really been able to settle in to my pro style. I’m more ready than ever to take on these world champions. I feel like I’m the best in this division,” said Mayer.

Sunday

A Sunday afternoon boxing card by Thompson Boxing Promotions takes place at the Omega Products International in Corona, CA but will not include fans.

Undefeated lightweights Mike Sanchez (6-0-1, 2 KOs) faces Israel Mercado (8-0, 7 KOs) in the main event on Sunday Nov. 1. It will stream on Thompson Boxing Promotions web page and also on its Facebook page beginning at 4 p.m. PT.

Go to this link to watch the fight card: www.thompsonboxing.com

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Usyk vs. Chisora Sets the Table for a Strong Night of Boxing

Arne K. Lang

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It’s been largely lost in the ragout, at least on this side of the pond, but Saturday’s busy fight docket includes the return of Oleksandr Usyk, the former Olympic gold medalist who left the cruiserweight ranks as a legitimate four-belt champion. The 33-year-old Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs), opposes tough but erratic Dereck Chisora, a 36-year old Londoner by way of Zimbabwe. Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs), has won five of his last six, the setback occurring in his second encounter with arch-rival Dillian Whyte.

Usyk vs. Chisora, a Matchroom promotion, will play out at Wembley Arena with no fans in attendance. The Ukrainian southpaw is ranked among the top three heavyweight contenders by all four major sanctioning bodies although he has fought only once as a heavyweight, turning away under-trained late sub Chazz Witherspoon who was all in after seven frames. Usyk weighed 215 for that contest and is expected to come in about 230 for Chisora.

Usyk, who has anglicized his first name to Alexander on his English-language twitter feed, is a big favorite, but this is a tricky fight for him. The consensus 2018 Fighter of the Year, Usyk has fought only twice since unifying the cruiserweight title with a lopsided decision over Murat Gassiev in July of that year and 55 weeks have elapsed since his last start. If he needs the early rounds to shake off ring rust, he could find himself clawing out of a hole, and sometimes the hole is too deep as Usyk’s stablemate Vasiliy Lomachenko can attest. Moreover, Usyk has yet to face a naturally bigger man who can bang as hard as “Del Boy.”

The Usyk-Chisora card will air in North America on DAZN with the main event ring walks anticipated about 6 pm ET.

The tiff is hitched to an interesting undercard. Once-beaten Welshman Lee Selby, briefly the IBF featherweight champion, tangles with Australia’s undefeated (18-0) George Kambosos Jr. Savannah Marshall, who saddled Claressa Shields with her only amateur loss, meets former Shields opponent Hannah Rankin with a vacant world middleweight title at stake, Belfast’s Tommy McCarthy opposes Belgium’s Bilal Laggoune for a domestic cruiserweight title, and then there’s the heavyweight fight attracting buzz between popular Yorkshireman David Allen and Christopher Lovejoy.

The buzz surrounds the mysterious 36-year-old Lovejoy who is 19-0 as a pro with all but two of those KOs coming in the opening round.

All of Lovejoy’s fights were staged in Tijuana. Only one of his opponents brought a winning record. For a certain stripe of fighter, Tijuana is the equivalent of a feed lot, a place where livestock go to get fattened up before they are sent off to the slaughterhouse. David Allen is limited, but the most likely scenario in this fight is that it ends with Lovejoy sitting on his stool.

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Diego Magdaleno is Locked and Loaded for Saturday’s Fray in San Antonio

Arne K. Lang

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Diego Armando Magdaleno, the son of a former semi-pro soccer player, was named for Argentine soccer star Diego Armando Maradona. But Diego’s father Jesus is hardly disappointed that his son devoted his energies to a different sport than soccer as Diego, the oldest of Jesus’s three boys, has carved out a nice career as a boxer. On Saturday, he faces Isaac Cruz at the San Antonio Alamodome and a win could thrust him into a third crack at a world lightweight title. Magdaleno vs. Cruz will be televised as part of a SHOWTIME PPV event anchored by a battle between title-holders Gervonta “Tank” Davis and Leo Santa Cruz.

The bookies don’t know what to do with the Magdaleno-Cruz matchup. One can find odds on fights of lesser importance, but with the fight only four days away the pricemakers were in quandary. Team Magdaleno, however, is approaching the fight as if they are the “B” side. Mexico City’s Isaac Cruz, who boasts a 19-1-1 record and is undefeated in his last 15 starts, has a fan-friendly style and is only 22 years old. In theory, he has more value to the promoter going forward than Magdaleno (32-3, 13 KOs) who turns 34 this week.

Magdaleno relishes the underdog role. He was the “B” side in his most recent fight when he opposed Austin Dulay in Dulay’s hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, and he carved out a clear-cut 10-round decision. Dulay, the younger man by nine years and less experienced at the pro level, was in over his head. Their fight was nationally televised on FOX.

Diego Magdaleno was born in Beverly Hills, California, but unlike many folks born there wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. “We were more like the Beverly Hillbillies,” says Diego, a reference to the popular sitcom that ran on CBS from 1962 to 1971.

For many years, Diego’s father, an immigrant from Sahuayo in the Mexican state of Michoacan, worked at the flagship West LA branch of an iconic Greater Los Angeles hamburger chain. Diego’s parents now manage a 7-11 in Las Vegas.

When Magdaleno first laced on the gloves it was at the Brooklyn Avenue boxing gym in the gritty Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, the same gym where Oscar De La Hoya trained for the Olympic Trials. He continued with the sport after his family – he has three older sisters – moved to Las Vegas.

Diego influenced both of his younger brothers to become boxers. Jessie Magdaleno surpassed him in name recognition when he upset Nonito Nonaire in November of 2016, earning him the WBO world super bantamweight title. Jessie lost the belt in his second defense, succumbing to Isaac Dogboe, but has won three straight since that mishap, advancing his record to 28-1. The youngest Magdaleno brother, Marco, was 4-0 as a pro when he abandoned the sport, having secured a job with good pay and benefits in the construction field.

Diego has applied some of his ring earnings toward a real estate investment in Scipio, Utah, where he owns a parcel of land adjacent to a pioneer home. Scipio is a four-hour drive from Las Vegas and figuratively a million miles away. What does one do for fun in Scipio, pop. 288? The first thing that popped up in our internet search was to go grab a sandwich at the Burger Barn.

There’s a back story there. The pioneer home, built in 1886, was recently purchased by Diego’s fiancée Shannon Torres, a descendent of one of Scipio’s founding families. She and Diego are restoring it. Diego professes to be amazed at the craftsmanship. “When we pulled up the carpets,” he said, “the original hardwood floors were still in great condition.”

Shannon Torres has a boxing background, having fought as an amateur and having sparred with the likes of Mia St. John. She is also a nutritionist. Diego confesses to having a sweet tooth, being fond of cheesecake and anything with peanut butter. “She knows how to make those things for me so they are not as unhealthy,” he says.

Magdaleno’s first loss came in April of 2013 when he lost a split decision to Ramon Martinez in Macau. Diego thought he won the fight, but only one of the judges concurred. At stake was Martinez’s WBO 130-pound world title. His second world title opportunity came against WBO lightweight champ Terry Flanagan on Flanagan’s turf in Manchester, England. That didn’t go well.

“When I got in the ring, it felt like there was sand under my shoes,” said Diego. “My right foot was sliding underneath me. I overcompensated and that caused me trouble.” Magdaleno loaded up on his punches, a fatal mistake, and was knocked out in the second round.

Top Rank dropped Magdaleno after that fight but would eventually bring him back to fight their rising star Teofimo Lopez. His fight with Austin Dulay was his first fight back after his loss to Lopez (TKO by 7) and his first with new trainer Bones Adams (pictured on the left) in his corner.

Mag

Isaac Cruz poses a different threat than Dulay partly because Cruz, who stands only 5’4 ½”, is a lot shorter. But Magdaleno is confident the result will be the same.

“His style is attack, attack, attack; it’s one-dimensional,” says Diego. “I have been in there and done things that this kid has never seen. I am a big step up for him.”

Unlike many prizefighters, Diego Magdaleno knows where he is heading after his career is finished; he is already a licensed real estate salesman with one listing to his credit. He’s bi-lingual despite having spent only three months living in Mexico, that as a first-grader, and his linguistic versatility will come in handy in his second career. “I know just enough Spanish to get by,” he says, but having heard him speak in his parents’ native tongue we can attest that he’s being much too modest.

For the time being, however, Diego isn’t looking past Saturday night. Magdaleno vs. Cruz is expected to go first on the four-fight PPV portion of the card which kicks off at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.

Magdaleno/Dulay photo credit: Stephanie Trapp

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