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It’s Hall of Fame Week in Canastota, Another Week That Could Have Been

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It’s Hall of Fame Week in Canastota, Another Week That Could Have Been

The forecast is for showers on Sunday in Canastota, New York. That’s somewhat redundant.

More than two months ago, on March 29 to be exact, the townsfolk learned that it was going to rain on their parade. In fact, there would be no parade at all; it was being washed away by the coronavirus. And so, this coming Sunday, June 14, what would have been the grand finale of the International Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, a four-day jamboree, will be just another Sunday.

More than 35 boxing stars from the U.S. and abroad mingled with visitors during the 2019 event, but the real heroes were the volunteers. The locals in this little hamlet in upstate New York where onion-growing was once the leading industry, really get behind the event. High school marching bands from around the area give the parade the sort of oomph that one would expect from a holiday celebration in a much larger community.

The 2020 IBHOF class is larger than usual because this is the first year for women boxers. Christy Martin and Lucia Rijker are going into the Hall as is female boxing trailblazer Barbara Buttrick. Joining them are modern-era boxers Bernard Hopkins, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Shane Mosley, old-timers Paddy Ryan and Frank Erne who enter the Hall posthumously, promoters Lou DiBella, Kathy Duva, and Dan Goossen, and journalists Thomas Hauser and Bernard Fernandez.

All of the aforementioned will have to wait until 2021 for their formal enshrinement, a ceremony that may require a second bandstand. The date will be June 13.

Whatever the sport, a Hall of Fame inevitably engenders arguments. TSS writer Matt Andrzejewski, a Hall of Fame booster – he’s attended every IBHOF weekend since 2014 – has been beating the drum for Vinny Paz. What follows is an abridged version of his line of reasoning.

VINNY PAZ (50-10, 30 KO’s)

“Paz — who legally changed his name in 2001 from Vinny Pazienza — was a multi-division world champion and defeated some of the best fighters of his era, e.g., Harry Arroyo, Greg Haugen (twice), Gilbert Dele, Lloyd Honeyghan, and Hall of Famer Roberto Duran (twice).

Paz’s Hall of Fame credentials are similar those of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini who was inducted into the Hall in 2015. As a matter of fact, Paz’s resume is actually stronger. Paz fought and defeated more former world champions than Mancini and faced much better competition throughout the course of his career.

But what makes the comparison to Mancini even more appropriate is the fact that both he and Paz were must-watch television. Paz was one of the most entertaining fighters in boxing. And when he fought, people watched — and not just those hooked on boxing.

By now, we all know his inspirational story (brought to the big screen in the movie Bleed for Me). But it isn’t that incredibly courageous story that gets him in the Hall of Fame. It’s his resume.”

—-

The IBHOF voters could not have voted in the following fighters because their names were not even on the ballot. Andrzejewski considers their omissions a big oversight.

KEVIN KELLEY (60-10-2, 39 KO’s)

“Kelley is a former featherweight champion and one of the great action fighters of his era. He had many memorable all-out wars including his fights against Troy Dorsey, Ricardo Rivera, Derrick Gainer and Naseem Hamed, just to name a few. There is a fighter with similar credentials from Kelley’s era, Arturo Gatti, who made the Hall of Fame the first year he was eligible. Kelley belongs in the Hall and at the very least should be on the ballot for voters to consider.”

JUNIOR JONES (50-6, 28 KO’s)

“Jones is a former two-division champion with wins against some of the best fighters of his era. This includes two wins against Hall of Famer Marco Antonio Barrera and a win against another Hall of Famer, Orlando Canizales. His resume also includes wins against former champions Jorge Eliecer Julio, Tom Johnson and Tracy Harris Patterson. All told, Jones was 10-4 against fighters who held a world title at some point in their career.”

VEERAPHOL SAHAPROM (66-4-2, 46 KO’s)

“How can this guy not be on the ballot? Just take a look at his credentials. In 1995, in just his fourth pro fight, Sahaprom won a bantamweight title. Though he lost that title in his next fight to the much more seasoned Nana Yaw Konadu, Sahaprom would recapture a bantamweight title against Joichiro Tatsuyoshi a few years later and would hold that title for over six years. Granted, the opposition wasn’t always the best but the long title reign mixed in with some high-quality wins at the very least should have earned Sahaprom a place on the ballot.”

——

Andrzejewski notes that unless the voting process is changed, future classes in the modern category will mostly be dominated by first timers. That doesn’t bode well for Vinny Paz’s chances of getting in any time soon. (It’s worth noting in this regard that a candidate can now be voted in after being retired for only three years, rather than five, as was previously the case.)

We mean no disrespect to the new IBHOF members by reprising these “oversights,” as Andrzejewski would be the first to note. Hall of Weekend in Canastota, he says, should be on the bucket list of every true fan of boxing.

As fans of the old Brooklyn Dodgers used to say, “Wait ‘till next year.”

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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Juan Francisco Estrada Holds Off ‘Chocolatito’ Again

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Once again Juan Francisco Estrada jumped out in front early and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez needed time to crank up the engine, but fell too far behind as the Mexican fighter won the vacant WBC flyweight world title on Saturday.

Estrada wins the trilogy 10 years in the making.

Once again Estrada (44-3, 28 KOs) surged ahead early in the fight against Nicaragua’s Gonzalez (51-4, 41 KOs) and then navigated toward another win, this time at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona on the Matchroom Boxing card.

“We had excellent preparation at high altitude and I think we left the fight clear on who won the fight this time,” said Estrada about the third encounter.

Ten years ago, the trilogy began in Los Angeles as “Chocolatito” confronted an unknown fighter at the time in Estrada. The two surprised the crowd who expected Gonzalez to destroy yet another Mexican fighter. But it did not happen that night though Chocolatito proved too experienced and battered his way to victory in a light flyweight world title clash.

Then, in March 2021, Estrada finally fought Gonzalez in a rematch and the two engaged in a closely-fought super flyweight world title match. This time Estrada proved slightly better according to the judges and won by split decision in Dallas, Texas.

Few knew what to expect in a third encounter.

At first the coronavirus stalled plans for the trifecta so Chocolatito fought a replacement and dominated. Meanwhile Estrada fought another Mexican and did not look good.

On Saturday, a decade after their first encounter, Estrada looked fluid and accurate in dominating the first six rounds of the fight. Though he did not hurt Gonzalez, he was repeatedly scoring at will.

Gonzalez woke up around the seventh round.

Suddenly the Nicaraguan who was once considered the best fighter Pound for Pound showed up and fired rapid combinations. The spring in his legs suddenly appeared and the energy level was cranked up high after nearly being on idle.

Estrada suddenly found himself against the ropes forced to slip and slide away from Gonzalez’s powerful combination punches. A real fight suddenly erupted during the final six rounds.

“All fights are different and all fights are difficult and this was the most difficult one,” said Gonzalez, a four-division world champion.

Though neither fighter was ever visibly hurt, Gonzalez’s pressure kept Estrada expending too much energy trying to evade the Nicaraguan’s traps during the final six rounds.

“He always goes 100 miles an hour,” said Estrada of his nemesis.

Estrada used uppercuts and slide steps to maneuver against Gonzalez’s hard charges. It seemed to work and allowed the Mexican fighter more room and time to apply counter-measures.

In the final round, those maneuvers allowed Estrada to connect with a hard punch to the body that forced Chocolatito to cover up. It also allowed Estrada to unravel a combination that gave him the last round if needed. After 12 rounds one judge scored it 114-114, while two others saw it 116-112, 115-113 for Estrada who becomes the new WBC super flyweight world titlist.

“We did an excellent fight and I got the victory,” said Estrada. “I’ve always said Chocolatito is a future Hall of Famer.”

Gonzalez was gracious in defeat.

“What is important is we gave that good fight to the fans and we came out in good health,” Gonzalez said.

There is even talk of a fourth fight.

“As long as they pay well, of course,” said Gonzalez.

Other Fights

Julio Cesar Martinez (19-2, 14 KOs) retained the WBC flyweight world title by majority decision over Spain’s Samuel Carmona (8-1) in a rather dull affair. Mexico’s Martinez chased Carmon all 12 rounds in a fight that saw Carmona slap and run, then hold.

No knockdowns were scored and Martinez won 114-114, 117-111, 116-112.

Diego Pacheco (17-0, 14 KOs) ran over Mexico’s Adrian Luna (24-9-2) with three knockdowns in winning by stoppage in the second round of the super middleweight fight. It was no surprise.

The 21-year-old from South Central L.A. once again showed that despite his youth his power seems to be continually increasing as evident in the knockout win.

Now training with Team David Benavidez, the young super middleweight looked sharp, especially with the lead overhand right that floored Luna in the second round. Luna was floored two more times and the fight was wisely stopped by his own corner.

“You put in the hard work then you come in here and shine,” said Pacheco. “I joined team Benavidez this year.”

Nicaragua’s former world titlist Cristofer Rosales (35-6, 21 KOs) won a dog fight over Mexico’s Joselito Velasquez (15-1-1, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision after 10 rounds in a flyweight clash.

It was a back-and-forth struggle that saw the taller Rosales take over in the second half of the fight and win by simply out-punching Velasquez and handing the Mexican his first loss as a professional by scores 97-93 three times.

Photo credit: Milena Pizano

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Tyson Fury TKOs Derek Chisora in Round 10

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It was a chilly night in London but that didn’t deter a near-capacity crowd from turning out at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to witness the third rumble between Tyson Fury and Derek Chisora. The Gypsy King was heavily favored to retain his WBC and lineal heavyweight title and performed as expected. Indeed, this fight closely resembled their second encounter back in 2014.

In that bout, Chisora absorbed a terrific amount of punishment before his corner pulled him out at the conclusion of the 10th round. Tonight’s fight ended nine seconds earlier at the 2:51 mark of round 10 and it was the referee who terminated the match.

When is a heavyweight not a heavyweight? When the man in the opposite corner is substantially bigger. With an 8-inch height advantage and a 15-inch reach advantage, the six-foot-nine Fury was simply too big a mountain to climb for the brave Derek Chisora, a fighter who changed his nickname in mid-career, transitioning from “Dell Boy” to “War.”

Fury dominated round two, especially the last minute, a round in which he was credited with landing 18 power punches. The writing was on the wall for Chisora who ate a lot of thudding uppercuts in the ensuing rounds and ended the contest with a badly swollen right eye and a bloody mouth. With the victory, Fury improved his ledger to 32-0-1 with his 24th win inside the distance. The Zimbabwe-born Chisora falls to 33-13.

Oleksandr Usyk and Joe Joyce were in attendance and the Gypsy King addressed both before he left the ring. Calling Usyk “The Rabbit,” he indicated that he would fight Usyk next in a true unification fight, but said if there were a snag in negotiations he wouldn’t mind trading blows with the Juggernaut, Joe Joyce, who wore down and stopped former heavyweight title-holder Joseph Parker, a former Fury sparring partner, in his most recent engagement. However, Fury also revealed that he had an issue with his right elbow that may require surgery.

Co-Feature

In a heavyweight match that lasted only three rounds but was chock-full of action, Daniel Dubois overcame three knockdowns to retain his secondary WBA heavyweight title he won at the expense Trevor Bryan with a third-round stoppage of upset-minded Kevin Lerena.

In the opening stanza, Johannesburg’s Lerena, landed an overhand left on the top of Dubois’s head that put the Englishman on the canvas and left him all at sea. He went down twice more before the round was over, the first time of his own volition when he took a knee (reminiscent of his match with Joe Joyce) and the second from a glancing blow.

Dubois, whose legs are spindly for a man of his poundage, had trouble regaining his equilibrium in round two, but Lerena didn’t press his advantage. In the next frame, a short right from Dubois penetrated Lerena’s guard and down went the South African. Smelling blood, Dubois knocked him down again and was pummeling him against the ropes when the referee interceded just as it appeared that Lerena would be saved by the bell.

It was the fourth straight win for Dubois (19-1, 18 KOs) since his mishap versus Joyce. Lerena, who entered the bout on a 17-fight winning streak, lost for the second time in 30 fights.

Also

In a ho-hum affair, Denis Berinchyk, a 24-year-old Ukrainian, captured the European lightweight title and remained undefeated with a unanimous decision over French-Senagalese warhorse Ivan Mendy. Berinchyk (17-0, 9 KOs) was making his first appearance in London since winning a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics where he was a teammate of Oleksandr Usyk and Vasiliy Lomachenko.

The judges had it 117-112 and 116-112 twice for the Ukrainian. The 37-year-old Mendy, who has answered the bell for 380 rounds, falls to 47-6-1.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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Light Nips Glanton in Florida; across the pond, Kelly UD 12 Williamson in Newcastle

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ProBox TV, a fledgling promotional group co-founded by former world champions Roy Jones Jr, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Paulie Malignaggi, has found a home for their bi-monthly shows at an events center in Plant City, Florida, near Tampa. The main event of last night’s show (Friday, Dec. 2) was a well-matched 10-rounder between world ranked cruiserweights Brandon Glanton (pictured on the left) and David Light, both undefeated.

Light, a 31-year-old New Zealander who was 19-0 (12 KOs) heading in, had a strong amateur background that included a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, but was virtually unknown outside the Antipodes, having fought almost exclusively on small shows in Auckland. Glanton, a 30-year-old Atlanta native who had trimmed down considerably since his days as a defensive lineman at HBCU Albany State, had caught the eye of hardcore fight fans with a thrilling split decision over previously unbeaten Efetobor Apochi on a TBS show in Minneapolis.

The oddsmakers made Glanton (17-0, 14 KOs heading in) a small favorite and after 10 hard rounds there were many who thought he deserved the nod. He turned the fight into a “phone booth” affair, pressing the action while working the body effectively, and scored the bout’s lone knockdown, knocking Light off his pins (he wasn’t badly hurt) in the final frame with what appeared to be a glancing blow. But two of the judges were more impressed by Light’s counter-punching, scoring the bout 97-92 and 95-94 for the kiwi, overruling the dissenter who had it 95-94 for Blanton.

It was the sort of fight that cries out for a rematch, but David Light will undoubtedly go in a different direction. Both he and Glanton were pointing toward a match with WBO title-holder Lawrence Okolie.

Newcastle

Earlier on Friday, across the pond in Newcastle, England, former Olympian Josh Kelly got the signature win that had eluded him with a lopsided 12-round decision over defending British 154-pound title-holder and former amateur teammate Troy Williamson.

This was Kelly’s third fight since David Avanesyan burst his bubble in a welterweight affair, stopping Kelly in the sixth stanza. The local fighter, who boosted his record to 13-1-1 (7) blamed his poor performance on his struggle to make weight.

The previously undefeated Williamson, 19-0-1 heading in, was making the second defense of the title he won in a barnburner with Ted Cheeseman. He went to post a small favorite, but was outclassed by Kelly who won by scores of 119-109, 119-111, and 118-110.

In the co-feature, Manchester’s Lyndon Arthur (21-1, 15 KOs) stayed relevant in the light heavyweight division with a second-round stoppage of overmatched Joel McIntyre (20-5). In his lone defeat, Arthur was TKOed by revenge-minded Anthony Yarde.

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