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Has the U.S. Lost its Presence in Boxing? Part Two of Our Latest Survey

Ted Sares

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More than 50 boxing notables shared their thoughts in our latest TSS survey. As is our custom, we listed the respondents alphabetically. Those with last names beginning with the letters “A” through “L” were included in PART ONE. Here’s PART TWO. We welcome your feedback.

PAUL MAGNO-writer and author: The decline of boxing in the U.S. has opened the door for expansion across the globe. So, really, it’s kind of like a good for you, not-so-great for us scenario. At the very least, though, it establishes the fact that boxing is still a sport that can reach the mainstream if presented correctly. American fight fans just have to roll with the punches and accept that they’re no longer the center of the fistic universe. They’ll have to get used to watching fights at odd hours at “away” venues. The American fight game can learn from all of this and rebuild based on those lessons—if it decides one day to smarten up.

ADEYINKA MAKINDEbarrister, writer and contributor to the Cambridge Companion to Boxing: The decline in fighters from Western developed countries after the Second World War saw a corresponding rise from poorer parts of the globe. The rise of the Griffiths and the Paret’s confirmed that trend. Also, if the U.S. does not hold any of the Heavyweight titles, that’s indicative that it is “no longer a major player in professional boxing.” Also reflecting this “re-adjustment” is the box office success of non-American boxers in their homelands. Anthony Joshua can fill stadiums in Britain and command huge guarantees from Saudi sponsors. However, in terms of financial muscle, the situation is less clear as DAZN is a multinational brand with huge American input. ESPN and PBS are still in there. There are fewer American boxing superstars, but the US continues to be a major player as a centre for raising monies as well as locations such as Las Vegas and NYC.

LAYLA McCARTER-WIBF welterweight champion and former world title-holder in multiple divisions: Perhaps the U.S. has lost its presence as the major player in pro boxing, but I believe this trend to be temporary. Promoters and networks come and go. Great ones like King and Arum are aging out of the sport. The UK is having its run now, but I’m confident that new promoters will emerge in the U.S. and once again be successful.

KELSEY McCARSON-TSS writer: I think the U.S. will remain the fulcrum of professional boxing for the foreseeable future but that the rise in global audiences that are able to digitally cross borders will reveal more competition than ever for U.S.-based promotional companies. It would seem like that’s a good thing. One of my favorite things about boxing over the last few years is Eddie Hearn’s rise to global prominence. In the old days, Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya had a virtual monopoly through their partnerships with HBO. Now, there are many more ways fighters can get paid to fight on TV and streaming platforms.

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“…how can we profess to be a major player when the sport is on life support here in the United States with no vaccine to save it?” Dr. Stuart Kirschenbaum

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SCOOP MALINOWSKI-writer, author, creator of BIOFILE: America no longer produces the abundance of great champions it once did. The best fighters are developed in other nations, particularly Eastern Europe. American tennis is in a similar situation.

JASON MARCHETTI-boxing writer: I disagree. The US is still a major player in professional boxing, although there continues to be inconsistencies of what promoters and fighters say versus what they agree to. The sanctioning bodies and promoters control which fights get made instead of the fans, and its killing the sport in the US.

LARRY MERCHANT-legendary HBO commentator; 2009 IBHOF inductee: Trick question. Boxing hasn’t been a mainstream sport in the U.S. for decades, yet four networks show boxing regularly and we have more consequential fighters and fights in the lightweight, welterweight and middleweight divisions by far than any other country. And even though we may have to wait for another comeback by George Foreman to make a heavyweight impact on casual fans, most heavyweight championship fights recently have been staged, yes, in the U.S. That said, Great Britain and probably Mexico reign as the pound-for-pound champions for their “presence”—or passion— and that does count for a lot.

ROBERT MLADINICHFormer fighter, retired NYC Detective, author, writer, and actor. It’s sad but the United States has taken a back seat to Europe in attracting fans to live shows. Wilder vs. Fury 2 could have brought nearly 100,000 fans to an arena in England. Years ago that fight would have broken attendance records here.

DIEGO MORILLA-boxing writer; Copy Editor of The Ring en Español : Sometimes certain countries gain more ground at certain times, depending on the level of activity of their fighters. Japan is now enjoying huge success. The quality of their fighters in those lower divisions is off the charts. That’s just an example of one country “exploding” in a particular region. Since the most visible weight class is the heavyweights, fans tend to assess the value of boxing in general depending on the quality displayed in that division. The U.K now rules the heavyweights with as many as five in the top 10. It used to be Eastern Europe and the Klitschko’s. Now it’s England. This surge may be responsible for this notion that the US is losing ground in boxing, but the level of quality in the U.S. is so deep that it’s only a matter of time before it bounces back to the top and claims at least half of the pound-for-pound names, as well as a similar number of names in the list of best paid and most relevant athletes in the world.

ERNESTO MORALES (aka GENO FEBUS)-writer, former fighter: For decades the Western Hemisphere fighters & trainers, managers, promoters, and fans were spoiled believing they had a never-ending superiority. When a U.S. fighter lost abroad it was considered a fluke/upset. As time went, non-U.S. fighters trained harder, their hunger grew, and became CONFIDENT that they were just as good if not better, with the main reason for their success being their extensive and superior amateur programs. Heavyweight is the most influential division worldwide, and it’s OWNED by Europe.

LUIS PABON- elite referee: Undoubtedly the Europeans have been gaining ground, especially the larger weights. Uzbekistan, Russia, Ukraine, they are very good, but even in the USA the 130, 135, 147, 160 are the best divisions, and the Mexican-Americans, who are USA, they are also very good. I think it is global. Europe, Japan, Mexico, they are very good but even together they do not beat the USA.

JOE PASQUALE-professional judge: Team sports are supported & easier. And since WW2 there are fewer inner city gyms. Less media attention for amateur boxing world & Olympic events has resulted in fewer participants and professional contenders from the USA. Boxing has become more global like the world economy. Talent is emerging from countries where there is more national and government support for boxing. China has massive amateur boxing programs with thousands of boxers supported and educated. The USA barely does that for their amateur team sports and nothing for boxing except at a minimum on the Olympic level.

DENNIS RAPPAPORT: former co-manager of Gerry Cooney, among others; elite promoter: Historically the best fighters were from the U.S. In recent years the Eastern Europeans, Germany and England have made major strides. England has produced some excellent fighters and the sport’s popularity has been overwhelming. The Russians, Ukrainians and former members of the USSR are very hungry and determined and have impressive amateur pedigrees. The Latins have always been a major force and now with the emergence of The Philippines, pose even more competition. Bottom Line is the momentum, at least for now, has shifted away from US dominance.

JOHN RASPANTI-lead writer/editor for MaxBoxing; author: I don’t agree. Las Vegas, New York and Los Angeles are major players in promoting and staging the most important fights. Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder fought last month in Vegas. Fight three will probably be back in Sin City. Vasyl Lomachencko and Teofimo will likely fight in New York in a few months. Major fights are scheduled in Southern California. The United States is a big time player in the sweet science and will continue to be in the foreseeable future.

CLIFF ROLD-writer and Managing Editor of BOXING SCENE: How could it have lost its presence? By and large, the US is still the richest market in the sport. This is where the greatest fortunes are possible. As long as this is true, it will be a premier part of the game.

FRED ROMANO-boxing historian, author and former HBO Boxing consultant: There certainly is a broader representation of quality fighters from places outside the United States compared with a couple of decades ago. Boxing is also more global in terms of financial control and preferred venues as well. Nevertheless, the US boxing presence is still stout, and the US will remain a major player in the sport in all respects.

DANA ROSENBLATT-former World Middleweight Champion; inspirational speaker and commentator: The U.S. is close to losing its lead in worldwide boxing due to boxing not being as widely present in the Boys Clubs. The loss of weekly fights on the major networks is also another reason why we have slipped in terms of our dominance of the sport.

TED SARES-TSS writer: The U.S. is behind at the top and especially so in the heavyweight division. It never was much of a force at the bottom divisions where Asians and Latinos thrive. It’s in the middle that the U.S. will maintain a competitive, if not  premier, spot with other nations. Fighters like Crawford, Tank, Spence, Thurman, Porter, Danny Garcia, Mikey Garcia, Plant, Andrade, the Charlos, Hurd, Williams, Harrison, Lubin, Prograis, Hooker, Zepeda, Diaz, JR., Farmer, and Colbert ensure this.

RICHARD SCHWARTZ-elite cut-man and RING 10 board member: The rest of the world is catching up to the U.S. just like in basketball.  We still produce some of the world’s best like Mayweather, Crawford, Spence, the Garcia’s, Wilder, etc. Boxing has always been populated by those from the lowest socio-economic group and will continue to be, but many good athletes are going into other athletic endeavors. Many world champs and great fighters are now coming out of European countries. When I was growing up, I could only think of Ingemar Johansson. New York is no longer the mecca of boxing; that title has been taken over by Las Vegas, but the sport will continue to survive the world over.

ICEMAN JOHN SCULLY-former world title challenger; you name it in boxing, he’s done it!: I wouldn’t say that the USA has lost its presence entirely as the major player in the game but we have been joined by the most serious competition we have ever had. The U.K. may actually be number one right now but that doesn’t mean the U.S. has been wiped off the boxing map. Many countries who were not able to turn out professionals back in the 80’s like Cuba and Russia are now seeing some of their greatest amateurs turning pro and they are simply achieving what many great Americans have done in the past. We are not off the map; we have just been joined by many others, that’s all.

MIKE SILVER- author, writer, historian: Until the USA has an undisputed world heavyweight champion, it will appear to have lost dominance over the sport. Although certainly not as dominant a major player as in previous decades, the USA still holds 15 of the 37 title belts from featherweight to heavyweight. That’s 40 percent, which isn’t bad. I don’t include the six weight classes from light flyweight to bantamweight because there just aren’t enough small Americans competing in those divisions, nor is there much interest in them.

ALAN SWYERfilm producer, creator “El Boxeo”: Though boxing has gotten a recent surge thanks to the heavyweight division — first Ruiz’s upset win, then Fury mauling Wilder — the powers that be have accepted its status as a niche sport. Bud Crawford may well be the best fighter in the world, but outside of fight fans, who knows about him? Or Lomachenko? How many newspapers even cover boxing regularly? Far too much changed when the Olympics — the spawning ground for Ali, Leonard, Oscar, and others — not merely de-emphasized it, but worse turned it into fencing. As I showed in my documentary “El Boxeo,” the popularity of the sport today owes largely to Latinos, followed by Brits and Eastern Europeans. Other than Mayweather (plus Andy Ruiz during his fifteen minutes of fame), what boxer has captured the imagination of the casual American sports fan of late?

RICHARD TORSNEY-former fighter; boxing official: (1) Boxing has always been practiced by the downtrodden. Young people in the US have more opportunities than in the past. Education is broadly available. US athletes can choose sports such as basketball, football, soccer, baseball, etc., that affords them reduced or even free college tuition. Boxing does not. Thus, we have fewer practitioners.  (2) In days gone by the US media treated boxing as an important sport. It doesn’t any longer. Without publicity, interest is lost, fans don’t fill arenas and young folks don’t get to see their names and photos in the paper. Without media coverage it’s like a tree falling in the woods…, it makes no noise.

BOB TRIEGER-boxing publicist: I agree that America has lost some of its presence, but not all of it. Every trend in boxing has been in cycle and I’m confident that Americans will once again rule. NYC and LV remain two of the top markets in the world. It will be interesting to watch how America responds to the Coronavirus pandemic. America still produces many of the best boxers and that will not change,

GARY “DIGITAL” WILLIAMS-the voice of Boxing in the Beltway: I think it depends on the weight class.  We are starting to lose credibility in the heavyweight division definitely. However, from 140-160, I think the US is in good shape.

PETER WOOD-author, former fighter, NY Boxing Hall of Fame inductee: I will answer this question with another question: If the US has lost its presence as a major player in professional boxing, who has replaced us?…I rest my case.

Observations:

The responses were pretty much evenly divided between “agree” and “disagree.”

Surprisingly (at least to me), many felt that as long as the U.S. does not rule the heavyweight division, it does not rule boxing.

I thought Brian “The Bizz” Bizzack summed up the downward trend of U.S. Boxing very well, but Larry Merchant made the case for the U.S. and many agree with his analysis if not his conclusion.

Iceman John Scully and many others opined that other countries have simply caught up with the U.S–and that’s a difficult one to debate.

Clearly, media coverage has been especially poor. Rich Torsney nailed it when he says, “Without media coverage it’s like a tree falling in the woods…, it makes no noise.”

Once again, my heartfelt thanks to everyone that contributed, particularly in these difficult times.

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Late-Bloomer Jersey Joe Walcott Goes the Distance Again With Statue in Camden

Bernard Fernandez

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It may not always be apparent to those with untrained eyes, but there is genuine art in boxing for those who understand the beauty and majesty of a perfectly timed left hook. Just such a masterful moment of the sweet science was authored by Jersey Joe Walcott on July 18, 1951, in the seventh round of his fifth and likely final shot at the heavyweight championship he had been clawing and scratching his way toward since he turned pro at 16 in 1930.

Again a longshot against the great Ezzard Charles, against whom he already was 0-2 in title bouts, a frozen moment in time that fateful night at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field transformed Walcott from a symbol of his sport’s relentless but mostly unrewarded grinders to instant-legend status. At 37, he not only had become the oldest man to that point ever to win boxing’s most prestigious prize (a distinction he would hold for 43 years, until 45-year-old George Foreman dethroned WBA/IBF champ Michael Moorer on another incredible, bolt-from-the-blue knockout, on Nov. 5, 1994, in Las Vegas), but the patron saint of fighters with iron wills and vision quests they would see through to completion or die trying.

In a story that appeared on this site on July 16, 2018, I ranked Walcott’s blasting of Charles No. 1 on my personal list of all-time one-punch knockouts, which I described thusly:

Entering the seventh round, Walcott led the scoring, in rounds, by 5-1, 4-1-1 and 3-3. Moving forward while rocking side to side, the 9-1 underdog dipped to his left and exploded upward with a thunderous left hook that caught Charles flush on the jaw. The semi-conscious champion pitched forward onto his face.

It is difficult to encapsulate the full scope of such a historically significant and aesthetically flawless a punch into any inanimate object, like a statue, but sculptor Carl LeVotch perhaps came as close as is humanly possible with his eight-foot bronze of Walcott, which was unveiled this past Saturday during a celebratory day of festivities in Camden, N.J., the hometown of the beloved fighter whose real name was Arnold Cream. The unveiling took place along the Camden waterfront, at the Wiggins Park Promenade, following a 3½-mile parade that featured marching bands and other attractions.

For medical reasons I was unable to attend an event I had very much been looking forward to, but the spirit of the occasion – and the 20-year march from concept to completion for those who wanted the Walcott/Cream statue to be more than just another item on someone’s wish list – closely mirrored the ring career of an inspirational figure who fueled the imaginations of so many attendees. Chief among those is Vincent Cream, 61, the grandson of Jersey Joe who spearheaded the drawn-out efforts to raise the $185,000 required to fund the project, which is still not entirely paid for.

“It was an overwhelming moment,” Vincent Cream told Boxing Writers Association of America president Joseph Santoliquito, who covered the event for another media outlet. “Everyone who never met my grandfather met him today.

“No one ever dies. He’s here with us. When I look at his statue, and you see who’s gathered here – white, black, old, young, everyone coming together – his timelessness has come. To persevere for 23 years, it represents who my grandfather was as a man and his fortitude as a person. When you have a dream, it’s important to set goals between the dream and the achievement. Every time I brought up the idea of a statue, people would tell me, `Good luck with that.’ That was 10 years ago. We achieved it, a little at a time – like my grandfather.”

LeVotch, with whom I have long been acquainted, has nearly as long a track record in his boxing-related field as did Walcott, who took his ring nom de guerre in tribute to Joe “The Barbados Demon” Walcott, a welterweight champion whose career ended in 1911. The original fighting Walcott was a hero to young Arnold Cream’s father, Joseph Cream, who came to New Jersey from the British Virgin Islands. I first met LeVotch for a story I did on him that appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News editions of July 2, 2003, when he took me through the process of his creation of a 17-inch cold-cast bronze statuette he called The Spirit of Boxing, reproductions of which are owned by any number of boxing notables. His goal, he told me, was to create something more meaningful than the statue of the fictional heavyweight champion Rocky Balboa that was used as a movie prop for 1982’s Rocky III.

“It doesn’t move me,” LeVotch said. “A true piece of art is capable of moving the man on the street. It is an instrument to inspire. It’s been that way since antiquity. I have a great affinity for Rodin (that would be Auguste Rodin, the French sculptor, not Rodan, the Japanese movie monster). His The Thinker is a sacrament, if you will, of an inner grace.

“I’m one of those guys who believe boxing is a metaphor for life. I also think of it as an art form. Those who do it well are, in their own way, artists.”

In addition to his sculpted improvements of several awards the BWAA presents as its annual dinner, LeVotch’s other life-sized commemoration of a boxing life, that of former middleweight champion Joey Giardello (real name: Carmine Tilelli), was unveiled on May 21, 2011, in Giardelli’s old South Philadelphia neighborhood. Like Walcott, Giardelli – father of four sons, one of whom was born with Down Syndrome – was more than just a fighter, something LeVotch sought to convey through his art.

“I saw Joey not only as a terrific fighter, but as a father who cared deeply for his disabled son,” Carl told me a decade ago. “How do you convey all these different sides of a man in coagulated metal? My challenge was to capture the essence of the man as well as a physical likeness.”

Brought to tears by LeVotch’s artistic interpretation of who her husband was and what he represented in meaningful ways that extended beyond the ring, Rosalie Tilelli said, “I’m overwhelmed. I call Carl LeVotch my Michelangelo.”

Jersey Joe Walcott was demonstrably statue-worthy even if he hadn’t moved on from boxing to a full and rich later phase of his life in which he served as the first African-American elected sheriff of Camden County, serving from 1971 to ’74, and chairman of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board until 1984. His wife, Riletta Cream, also was committed to public service as a city educator and county freeholder from 1994 to 2011.

But it is Walcott the boxer who set records inside the ropes that almost certainly will never be matched, much less surpassed. Fighting in an era when there was just one heavyweight champion, not a bunch of alphabet title-holders, he fought eight times for boxing’s grandest prize, going 2-6 with two losses apiece to Joe Louis and Charles before he broke through against Charles with that museum-quality left hook in Pittsburgh. Five of those title bouts, incredibly, were in succession. There are more than a few historians who believe Jersey Joe should have won on points in his first go at Louis, in which he floored the “Brown Bomber” in the first and fourth rounds. No wonder Walcott’s most ardent fans, even those in his own family, were hesitant to risk seeing him come up short again when he again squared off against Charles in the home stadium of baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I was 12 when my dad won the heavyweight title and there he is, so real,” Ruth Cream, now 82, told Santoliquito at the unveiling. “I remember that night like it happened clearly. I was the only one downstairs at our house with reporters in our living room watching the fight on TV. Everyone else was upstairs in bed because they didn’t want to watch it.

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“After my father won, I remember running up the stairs to tell my family, `Daddy won!’”

After a successful defense on points against familiar foe Charles, Walcott, well ahead on points through 12 of the scheduled 15 rounds, was dethroned by Rocky Marciano on a 13th-round knockout on Sept. 23, 1952, in Philadelphia. He fought just once more, this time being stopped in one round by Marciano, before hanging up his gloves with a 51-18-2 (32) record. He was part of the 1990 charter class of inductees into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Camden officials are hoping their hometown hero’s statue becomes something of a tourist attraction, as is the case with the Rocky statue at the base of the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum and the 12-foot Joe Frazier statue, created by sculptor Stephen Layne and located outside the Xfinity Live! bar/restaurant in the South Philly sports complex. As splendid as it is, the Giardello statue draws fewer eyes given its location in a less-bustling and attraction-loaded neighborhood.

But in a metropolitan area where bronze tributes to sports stars of the four local professional franchises (Eagles, Phillies, 76ers and Flyers) are fairly commonplace, the statues of Frazier, Giardello, Walcott and, yes, Stallone are at least a signal that boxing, for so long Philadelphia’s fifth pro sport and a veritable cradle of champions, is recognizing a part of its past that is worthy of being preserved and treasured.

Editor’s Note: Bernard Fernandez, named to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the Observer category with the class of 2020, was the recipient of numerous awards for writing excellence during his 28-year career as a sportswriter for the Philadelphia Daily News. Fernandez’s first book, “Championship Rounds,” a compendium of previously published material, was released in May of last year. The sequel, “Championship Rounds, Vol. 2,” with a foreword by Jim Lampley, arrives this fall. The book can be ordered through Amazon.com, in hard or soft cover, and other book-selling websites and outlets.

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Weekend Boxing Recap: The Mikey Garcia Stunner and More

Arne K. Lang

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Weekend Boxing Recap: The Mikey Garcia Stunner and More

Boxing was all over the map on the third Saturday of October with many of the shows pulled together on short notice as promoters took advantage of relaxed COVID constraints to return to business as usual. When the smoke cleared, a monster upset in Fresno overshadowed the other events.

Mikey Garcia, a shoo-in to make the Hall of Fame, was on the wrong side of it. Spain’s Sandor Martin, in his USA debut, won a well-deserved decision over Garcia at a Triple-A baseball park in Fresno.

Garcia, a former four-division belt-holder, was 40-1 coming in with his only loss coming at the hands of Errol Spence. Martin, a 28-year-old southpaw, brought a nice record with him from Europe (38-2) but with only 13 wins coming by way of stoppage it was plain that he wasn’t a heavy hitter. His only chance was to out-box Garcia and that seemed far-fetched.

But Martin did exactly that, counter-punching effectively to win a 10-round majority decision. Two judges had it 97-93 with the third turning in a 95-95 tally.

Neither Garcia nor Martin were natural welterweights. The bout was fought at a catch-weight of 145 pounds. After the bout, the Spaniard indicated a preference for dropping back to 140 where enticing opportunities await.

There was another upset, albeit a much milder one, in the co-feature where Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Gonzalez improved to 25-3-1 (14) while shearing the WBO world flyweight title from the shoulders of Mexicali’s Elwin Soto (19-2).

Soto was making his fourth defense of the title and rode into the match with a 17-fight winning streak. Gonzalez, a southpaw, had formerly fought for the WBO world flyweight title, getting stopped in seven rounds by Kosei Tanaka in Nagoya, Japan.

One of the judges favored Soto 116-112, but he was properly out-voted by his colleagues who had it 116-112 the other way.

Riga, Latvia

The first major fight on Saturday took place in Riga, Latvia, where hometown hero Mairis Briedis successfully defended his IBF cruiserweight title with a third-round stoppage of Germany’s Artur Mann who was on the deck three times before the match was halted at the 1:54 mark.

Briedis (28-1, 20 KOs) was making his first start since dismantling KO artist Yuniel Dorticos in the finals of season two of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament. He scored the first of his three knockdowns in the waning seconds of round two when he deposited Mann (17-2) on the canvas with a straight right hand.

Although boosters of fast-rising WBO champ Lawrence Okolie would disagree, the Latvian is widely regarded as the best cruiserweight in the world. His only setback came when he lost a narrow decision to current WBA/IBF/WBO heavyweight champ Oleksandr Usyk in this ring in January of 2018. Now 36 years old, Briedis has yet to appear in a main event outside Europe. That’s undoubtedly about to change and a rematch with Usyk is well within the realm of possibility.

Newcastle, England

Chris Eubank Jr, whose fight two weeks ago in London with late sub Anati Muratov was cancelled at the 11th hour when Muratov failed his medical exam, was added to this Matchroom card and his bout with Wanik Awdijan became the de facto main event. A 26-year-old German, born in Armenia, Awdijan was 28-1 and had won 21 straight (against very limited opposition), but he was no match for Eubank Jr who broke him down with body shots, likely breaking his ribs and forcing him to quit on his stool after five frames.

Eubank Jr, 32, improved to 31-2 (23) His only defeats came at the hands of former world title-holder George Groves and BJ Saunders. He dedicated this fight to his late brother Sebastian Eubank who died in July while swimming in the Persian Gulf.

In other bouts, Hughie Fury, the cousin of Tyson Fury, stayed relevant in the heavyweight division with a stoppage of well-traveled German Christian Hammer and Savannah Marshall successfully defended her WBO world middleweight title with a second-round TKO of Lolita Muzeya.

Akin to Eubank-Awdijan, the Fury-Hammer fight also ended with the loser bowing out after five frames. A biceps injury allegedly caused Hammer to say “no mas,” but Fury, in what was arguably his career-best performance, was well ahead on the cards.

The Marshall-Muzeya fight was a battle of unbeatens, but Muzeya’s 16-0 record was suspicious as the Zambian had never fought outside the continent of Africa. She came out blazing, but Marshall, who improved to 11-0 (9) had her number and retained her title.

Brooklyn

In the featured bout of a TrillerVerz show at Barclays Center, Long Island’s Cletus Seldin, the Hebrew Hammer, knocked out William Silva in the seventh round. It was the fifth-straight win for the 35-year-old Seldin, a junior welterweight who was making his first start in 20 months.

Silva, a 34-year-old Brazilian who fights out of Florida, brought a 28-3 record. His previous losses had come at the hands of Felix Verdejo, Teofimo Lopez, and Arnold Barboza Jr. Seldin improved to 26-1 (22 KOs).

In other bouts, junior welterweight Petros Ananyan, a Brooklyn-based Armenian, improved to 16-2-2 (7) with a 10-round majority decision over local fighter Daniel Gonzalez (20-3-1) and Will Madera of Albany, NY, scored a mild upset when he stopped Jamshidbek Najmitdinov who was pulled out after five rounds with an apparent shoulder injury.

Najmitdinov, from Uzbekistan, was making his U.S. debut but he brought a 17-1 record blemished only by former world title-holder Viktor Postol. Madera improved to 17-1-3.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholand / Matchroom

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Emanuel Navarrete Retains WBO Featherweight Title in a San Diego Firefight

David A. Avila

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SAN DIEGO-WBO featherweight titlist Emanuel Navarrete won by unanimous decision over Joet Gonzalez in a slugfest that had fans cheering nonstop on Friday night. Fans were mesmerized by the savagery.

More than 2,000 fans saw Mexico City’s Navarrete (35-1, 29 KOs) and Southern California’s Gonzalez (24-2, 14 KOs) bounce brutal shots off each other for 12 successive rounds at Pechanga Sports Arena.

Both Navarrete and Gonzalez were about equal in height with the champion maybe a slight taller, but not by much. As soon as the first bell rang the two featherweights opened up in furious fashion.

Gonzalez was making his second attempt to grab a world title. His first attempt fell short a year ago. He was eager to atone for the defeat by clobbering Navarrete. Body shots were the weapon of choice.

The Mexican fighter Navarrete was accustomed to battling shorter fighters, this time the two were equal in size and in fury. Blows were flying in bunches and by the third round Gonzalez suffered a cut on his right cheek.

At several points Navarrete would connect with a solid blow and eagerly seek to finish the fight. Each time it happened Gonzalez would fight back even more furiously and beat back the champions attacks.

Gonzalez also connected with big shots and moved in for the kill only find Navarrete take a stand and fire back. Neither was able to truly gain a significant edge. After 12 rounds of nonstop action the decision was given to the judges. One scored it 118-110, two others saw it 116-112 all for Navarrete.

Fans were pleased by the decision and even more pleased by the breath-taking action they had witnessed.

Welterweights

Local fighter Giovani Santillan (28-0, 15 KOs) remained undefeated by unanimous decision after 10 rounds versus Tijuana’s Angel Ruiz (17-2, 12 KOs). The two southpaws were evenly matched.

San Diego’s Santillan was able to outwork Ruiz in almost every round. Though Ruiz has heavy hands he was not able to hurt Santillan even with uppercuts. It was clear very early in the fight that Santillan was the more technical and busier of the two. No knockdowns were scored.

After 10 rounds two judges scored it 100-90 for Santillan and a third saw it 99-91.

Other Results

Lindolfo Delgado (14-0, 12 KOs) battered and knocked down fellow Mexican Juan Garcia Mendez (21-5-2) in the last round of an 8-round super lightweight bout, but could not score the knockout win.

Delgado, a Mexican Olympian, was the quicker and stronger fighter yet discovered Garcia Mendez has a solid chin. All three judges scored it 80-71 for Delgado.

Puerto Rico’s Henry Lebron (14-0, 9 KOs) defeated Manuel Rey Rojas (21-6) by decision after eight rounds in a lightweight match.

Javier Martinez (5-0, 2 KOs) soundly defeated Darryl Jones (4-3-1) by decision after six rounds in a middleweight clash. Jones was tough.

Las Vegas bantamweight Floyd Diaz (3-0) knocked down Tucson’s Jose Ramirez (1-1) in the first round but was unable to end the fight early. Diaz won by decision.

Heavyweight Antonio Mireles (1-0) knocked out Demonte Randle (2-2) at 2:07 of the first round.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank for Getty Images

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