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Charlo Brothers in World Title Defenses in Unique PPV Twin Bill in September

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PRESS RELEASE: New York – July 22, 2020 – SHOWTIME Sports and Premier Boxing Champions announced today a lineup of nine live boxing events featuring 18 undefeated fighters, nine world champions, and eight world championship fights including one world title unification bout. The schedule comprises 22 critical matchups from bantamweight to heavyweight and features some of the biggest stars in the sport today – Gervonta Davis, Leo Santa Cruz, Jermall Charlo, Jermell Charlo, David Benavidez and more. It is the largest collection of world championship boxing announced since the COVID-19 pandemic forced a stoppage of the sport.

The SHOWTIME boxing schedule begins on Saturday, August 1 and runs through the end of 2020. Initially, each live telecast will be presented without fans in attendance from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Included in the schedule are four world title eliminators, three interim title fights and 13 bouts in all pitting top-10 ranked fighters.

There are two SHOWTIME PPV® events in the lineup presented by Premier Boxing Champions. The first in late September is a pay-per-view doubleheader featuring four world title bouts in back-to-back three-fight events on the same night all for one price. Doubleheaders are common in the NFL, NBA and MLB. There hasn’t ever been a boxing PPV doubleheader – until now. The second blockbuster PPV event in October is a unique clash with the winner earning world titles in two weight classes.

“We are proud to announce the strongest and most comprehensive schedule of fights in all of boxing,” said Stephen Espinoza, President, Sports and Event Programming, Showtime Networks Inc. “….this lineup delivers on our promise to provide boxing fans with the best talent, the most exciting fights and the highest quality presentation in the sport. We are thrilled to return to live boxing with this star-studded schedule of exciting, meaningful fights.”

Philadelphia’s 122-pound rising star Stephen Fulton Jr. will headline SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® on August 1 (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) against talented, fellow undefeated contender Angelo Leo of the Mayweather stable in a marquee 12-round matchup for the vacant WBO junior featherweight world title. This will mark the first live boxing event on SHOWTIME since ShoBox: The New Generation on March 13 when the network presented what was to be the last nationally televised professional sporting event in the U.S. for several weeks.

The fight-by-fight schedule follows:

August 1

Main Event: Stephen Fulton Jr. (18-0, 8 KOs) vs. Angelo Leo (19-0, 9 KOs) – Vacant WBO Junior Featherweight World Championship

Co-Feature: Tramaine Williams (19-0, 6 KOs) vs. Ra’eese Aleem (16-0, 10 KOs) – Super Bantamweight Title Eliminator

Co-Feature: Joe George (10-0, 6 KOs) vs. Marcos Escudero (10-1, 9 KOs) II – Light Heavyweight Bout

About: Fellow Americans and undefeated fighters Fulton and Leo are legitimate top-10 junior featherweight contenders who will meet for the vacant WBO 122-pound world title. A southpaw from New Haven, Conn., Williams will clash with Las Vegas-based Aleem in an intriguing, 50-50 matchup between talented, undefeated prospects. Managed by All-Pro lineman Trent Williams, Houston’s George upset Escudero in an exciting ShoBox affair last November.

August 15

Main Event: David Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs) vs. Roamer Alexis Angulo (26-1, 22 KOs) – WBC Super Middleweight World Championship

Co-Feature: Rolando Romero (11-0, 10 KOs) vs. Jackson Marinez (19-0, 7 KOs) – WBA Lightweight Interim Title

Co-Feature: Otto Wallin (20-1, 13 KOs) vs. Travis Kauffman (32-3, 23 KOs) – Heavyweight Bout

About: Undefeated Benavidez, 23, kicks off his second reign as WBC Super Middleweight Champion. In 2017, he became the youngest 168-pound champion in boxing history by defeating Ronald Gavril on SHOWTIME at just 20 years old. Angulo is coming off an upset win over heavily hyped and then unbeaten prospect Anthony Sims Jr. The power-punching “Rolly” Romero of the Mayweather stable, who has scored five first- or second-round stoppages in his last six fights, is an undefeated ShoBox alum ranked No. 10 by the WBA while Marinez is ranked No. 6. Wallin vs. Kauffman is an intriguing heavyweight matchup between the Swedish southpaw and the veteran Kauffman. Both fighters have survived bouts with the COVID-19 virus, made full recoveries and are anxious to get back in the ring.

September 19

Main Event: Erickson Lubin (22-1, 16 KOs) vs. Terrell Gausha (21-1-1, 10 KOs) – WBC Super Welterweight Title Eliminator Bout

Co-Feature: Tugstsogt Nyambayar (11-1, 9 KOs) vs. Eduardo Ramirez (23-2-3, 10 KOs) – WBC Featherweight Title Eliminator Bout

Co-Feature: Jaron Ennis (25-0, 23 KOs) vs. TBA – Welterweight Bout

About: Lubin, already a veteran at just 24 years old, has excelled since his shocking first-round loss to Jermell Charlo three years ago. Gausha is a former U.S. Olympian with just one loss. Both men are poised and hungry for a signature win and the opportunity to fight for a unified 154-pound title, which will be on the line the following week. Nyambayar and Ramirez are legitimate top-10 contenders. Nyambayar faced Gary Russell Jr. in February on SHOWTIME in the last SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast before the COVID-19 shutdown. Ramirez, of Mexico, is coming off a stoppage of previously unbeaten Leduan Barthelemy. A graduate of the popular ShoBox: The New Generation series, Philadelphia native Ennis has fought twice on ShoBox and twice on SHOWTIME BOXING: Special Edition cards. Ennis is a former National Golden Gloves Champion ranked No. 12 by the WBO and No. 14 by the IBF.

September 26 – SHOWTIME/Premier Boxing Champions PPV Doubleheader

In One of the Main Events: Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs) – WBC Middleweight World Championship

Co-Feature: Brandon Figueroa (20-0-1, 15 KOs) vs. Damien Vasquez (15-1-1, 7 KOs) – WBA Super Bantamweight World Championship

Co-Feature: Diego Magdaleno (32-3, 13 KOs) vs. Isaac Cruz (19-1-1, 14 KOs) – IBF Lightweight Title Eliminator Bout

About: Houston’s Charlo will defend his title against WBC No.-1 ranked Ukrainian Derevyanchenko in one of the main events of this pay-per-view twin bill that boasts four world title fights. Charlo has held the WBC middleweight title since 2019 and reigned as the IBF junior middleweight champion from 2015 to ‘17. Charlo holds wins at 154 pounds against championship-level fighters including Cornelius Bundrage, Austin Trout and Julian Williams. Derevyanchenko has twice challenged for the IBF middleweight title in 2018 and ‘19, losing only to top-level opponents Daniel Jacobs and Gennadiy Golovkin. The 23-year-old Figueroa claimed the interim WBA 122-pound title with an eighth-round stoppage of Yonfrez Parejo last April, before successfully defending the title with a homecoming KO of Javier Chacon in Edinburg, Texas. After being upgraded to the “regular” titlist, Figueroa retained his belt after a 12-round draw against Julio Ceja last November. The southpaw Vasquez is coming off a stoppage win over Alejandro Moreno in February of 2020. Magdaleno vs. Cruz is an IBF title eliminator matchup of ShoBox alums currently ranked 10th and sixth, respectively.

The Other Main EventJermell Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) vs. Jeison Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs) – WBC, WBA and IBF 154-Pound Unification Bout

Co-Feature: Mario Barrios (25-0, 16 KOs) vs. Ryan Karl (18-2, 11 KOs) – WBA Super Lightweight World Championship

Co-Feature: Daniel Roman (26-3-1, 10 KOs) vs. TBA – Super Bantamweight Bout

About: In the other main event of this two-part, six-fight pay-per-view telecast, Jermell Charlo will take on Rosario in just the eighth world title unification fight in the 154-pound division’s history. It is also just the second fight with three super welterweight world title belts up for grabs. In January, Rosario upset Julian Williams to win the WBA and IBF titles. Last December, Charlo regained the title by stopping Tony Harrison. At stake is supremacy in a talent-rich division. The 25-year-old Barrios from San Antonio has held the WBA (regular) super lightweight title since September of 2019. His opponent Karl hails from Houston and is ranked No. 9 by the WBA. A regular sparring partner of Erislandy Lara and Jermell Charlo, Karl is trained by Ronnie Shields. Roman is a former unified super bantamweight champion, having held the WBA (Super) and IBF titles from 2019 to January 2020. Roman’s 19-bout winning streak was snapped in January in a split-decision loss to Murodjon Akhmadaliev. Ranked in the top five by all four sanctioning bodies, Roman previously held the WBA title from 2017 to 2019.

October 10

Main Event: Sergey Lipinets (16-1, 12 KOs) vs. Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (15-0, 8 KOs) – IBF Welterweight Interim Title

Co-Feature: Xavier Martinez (15-0, 11 KOs) vs. Claudio Marrero (24-4, 17 KOs) – Super Featherweight Bout

Co-Feature: Malik Hawkins (18-0, 11 KOs) vs. Subriel Matias (15-1, 15 KOs) – Super Lightweight Bout

About: The 31-year-old Lipinets has won three significant fights in a row since his lone loss to Mikey Garcia, including a dominant stoppage that sent former word titlist Lamont Peterson into retirement. Uzbekistan’s Abdukakhorov is coming off his biggest win to date over former world titlist Luis Collazo and is yet to taste defeat since turning professional in 2015. With Abdukakhorov ranked No. 1 by the IBF and Lipinets ranked No. 3, the winner will be in prime position to challenge the unified 147-pound world champion Errol Spence Jr. Sacramento’s Martinez of the Mayweather stable is an exciting prospect who thrilled ShoBox viewers when he scored one of the quickest knockouts in the history of the series last November, while Marrero is a grizzled veteran who held the WBA interim featherweight title in 2017. Hawkins of the Mayweather stable is trained by Calvin Ford and a teammate of two-division world champion Gervonta Davis. Every one of Matias’ 15 career victories as a pro has come by way of knockout, with his only setback a unanimous-decision loss to Petros Ananyan back in February.

October 24 – SHOWTIME/Premier Boxing Champions PPV

Main Event: Gervonta Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) vs. Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) – WBA Super Featherweight World Championship/WBA Lightweight World Championship

About: This blockbuster main event will be contested at the super featherweight limit of 130 pounds. The winner of the match, however, will be in the unique position to earn world championships at 130 and 135 pounds on the same night. Two crowd favorites with massive followings will meet with Santa Cruz’s newly won WBA (Super) 130-pound world title on the line. The unbeaten “Tank” Davis is a two-division world champion and reigning WBA lightweight titlist at the age of 25. He emerged as a bona fide star in 2019 with sold-out main event bouts in Baltimore and Atlanta. “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz is a four-division world champion who avenged his only professional loss to Carl Frampton. The stage is set for one of the best matchups that can be made in all of boxing. Both men are all-action fighters. Davis boasts a knockout percentage of .957 while Santa Cruz is one of the busiest punchers in the sport. The winner of this fight will rightfully earn a top-10 spot on the coveted pound-for-pound list.

November 28

Main Event: Chris Colbert (14-0, 5 KOs) vs. Jaime Arboleda (16-1, 13 KOs) – WBA Super Featherweight Interim Title

Co-Feature: Richardson Hitchins (11-0, 5 KOs) vs. Argenis Mendez (25-5-3, 12 KOs) – Super Lightweight Bout

Co-Feature: TBA

About: The WBA interim super featherweight champion Colbert has fought five times in the past 20 months. Arboleda of Panama earned a split-decision win over veteran Jayson Velez in a WBA junior lightweight eliminator in February. New York City’s Hitchins of the Mayweather stable represented his parents’ home country of Haiti in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and Mendez is a former IBF Super Featherweight champion from the Dominican Republic.

December 12

Main Event: Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12 KOs) vs. Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs) – WBC Bantamweight World Championship

Co-Feature: TBA

Co-Feature: TBA

About: France’s Oubaali will be defending the WBC bantamweight world title for the third time. Donaire is the No. 1-ranked contender and fighting for his eighth world championship. A four-division titlist and former pound-for-pound mainstay, Donaire fought brilliantly in what many picked as 2019’s Fight of the Year, a decision loss to Naoya Inoue. At age 37, Donaire is attempting to defy the belief that the smaller the fighter, the earlier the prime.

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Will Leo Santa Cruz’s High Volume Punching Stymie Big Hitter ‘Tank’ Davis?

Bernard Fernandez

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WBA “super” 130-pound champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis, short (5’5½”), short-armed (a 67½-inch reach) and powerful, has been described by some as a miniature Mike Tyson, which seems reasonable for an undefeated fighter who has won all but one of his 23 professional bouts inside the distance, more than a few of those knockouts of the spectacular variety. And if Davis’ comparisons to “Iron Mike” weren’t enough to stamp him as an emerging superstar, there is also the fact that he is a protégé of Floyd Mayweather Jr., the vainglorious owner of a 50-0 record and distinction as the richest prizefighter ever to lace up a pair of padded gloves. “Money” bills himself as TBE, “The Best Ever,” and he goes so far as to suggest that the big-hitting southpaw from Baltimore for whom he has such high hopes might someday approach his status as a cash-cow and true icon of the ring.

“The ultimate goal is to get him to surpass me,” the 43-year-old and ostensibly retired Mayweather said of the financial and fistic potential of Davis, who turns 26 on Nov. 7 and arguably is in the early stages of his prime. “I’ve been his age. Where he’s trying to go to, and what he’s trying to accomplish, I’ve already accomplished.”

Although Davis has appeared on the undercard of two Pay-Per-View shows headlined by his famous and fabulously wealthy mentor, both he and Mayweather consider his watershed Halloween night confrontation with WBA “super” featherweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs), in San Antonio’s Alamodome, as Tank’s real coming-out party. It is, after all, Davis’ first time atop his own Showtime PPV event, perhaps the first of several such marquee appearances if the level of public interest in him continues to spike. Ascending to PPV status is a rite of passage both men consider to be a significant key to all the boxing kingdom has to offer, an exclusive club to which many aspire but only a chosen few are allowed to join. The tariff to boxing fans is a $74.95 subscription fee.

“I said, `Tank, you under Mayweather Promotions. So, it’s May-Per-View,” Mayweather told the kid who would be he during the first episode of Showtime’s “All-Access,” the infomercial whose purpose is to help convince pandemic-strapped fight fans to open their wallets.

“I’m grateful for what Floyd did for me, as far as opening doors,” said Davis, who signed with Mayweather Promotions in 2015. “If it wasn’t for Floyd, I wouldn’t have been a champion at 22. He gave me a chance to fight on his Pay-Per-View card. Now I’m here, on my own Pay-Per-View.”

To hear Mayweather and Davis tell it, it is Tank’s singular, reputation-boosting turn in the spotlight, with Santa Cruz more or less along for the ride. The Vegas sports books seemingly are complicit in that perception, with Tank anywhere from a -$350 to a whopping -$710 favorite, odds which could fluctuate throughout the rest of the week as more and larger wagers are placed. Despite his being a four-division world champion, Santa Cruz, the 32-year-old, Mexican-born resident of Rosemead, Calif., whose current title is that of WBA “super” super feather ruler, also considers this particular bout to be historic as it is also his first PPV appearance. And, no, he isn’t bothered by the long odds against him (which range from +260 to +475) or Davis’ reputation as a compact instrument of pugilistic destruction.

“Nobody believes in me,” he said, almost reveling in his rare role as an underdog. “They think I’m this other guy. But I asked for this fight for a reason ’cause I want to prove myself. I’m going to compete and give my all. I’m not scared.

“Gervonta Davis is a great fighter with great skills, great power. I think he’s the most dangerous fighter in the division. Why not go after him? To prove to the people that I’m not scared of nobody.”

Santa Cruz might not pack as much power as Davis, but his forte is high-volume punching. When he defeated Vusi Malinga via 12-round unanimous decision for the vacant IBF bantamweight strap on June 2, 2012, in Carson, Calif., CompuBox statistics revealed he had unfurled a remarkable 1,350 punches, an average of just under 113 per round. Nor were those numbers an aberration for the human perpetual motion machine; in his two confrontations with Abner Mares, both of which were won on points by Santa Cruz, the read-out showed Leo connecting on a combined 730 of 2,115. Many opponents scarcely have time to think, much less react, when Santa Cruz is firing shots with machine-gun rapidity. No wonder he dares to believe Davis will be similarly flustered.

“I think so,” Santa Cruz said when asked if the quantity of his fusillade will more than offset Davis’ superior quality in terms of power. “When you have a fighter on top of you, throwing punches, he’s not letting you think; he’s frustrating you. He’s not letting you do nothing.

“If I do that, it could be dangerous ’cause he’ll be waiting to counterpunch me, to land those big shots, the uppercuts and hooks. So, I got to do a very smart fight, a perfect fight, to beat him.”

For TV purposes, the storyline outside the ropes sometimes is nearly as important in selling the product as what takes place inside them. In that regard Davis and Santa Cruz, so seemingly different in some regards, are strikingly similar in that they were children of poverty, hardly unusual for a sport where years of deprivation can stoke a burning desire to succeed. Santa Cruz’s motivation might even be hiked a bit higher because of the ongoing medical circumstances of his trainer-father, Jose Santa Cruz Sr.

Jose Sr. could be the star of his own medical reality series, the most recent episode being his near-death brush with COVID-19. But the patriarch of a boxing family (brothers Jose Jr., Antonio and Roberto are also involved in Leo’s career) had previously survived a bout with sepsis, a potentially life-threatening infection, and, in 2016, the diagnosis of Stage 3 myeloma, a blood cancer, that invaded his bones. The father had to undergo weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, and although he pulled through Leo cited concerns for his dad’s health as a contributing factor in his sole pro defeat, in which he relinquished his WBA super featherweight title, by 12-round majority decision, to England’s Carl Frampton on July 30, 2016. Santa Cruz avenged that setback, also by majority decision, six months later.

Jose Sr. continues to serve as Leo’s trainer, but so many medical crises have been met and overcome by the father that the son has learned, as best he can, to cope.

And the COVID-19 which again could have brought Jose Sr. the eternal 10-count?

“When he went (into the hospital), they gave us little hope,” Leo said of his dad’s most recent downward plunge on an emotional roller-coaster on which the entire family has been obliged to have seats. “They said he was going to pass away, that he wasn’t going to last the night. We were all depressed and crying. His lungs were failing, his heart was failing. He coded two times; he died and they brought him back to life.

“I had memories of when he used to go on the bus with me, pushing me in the gym, telling me what to do. All those memories were playing in my mind. I really didn’t think he was going to make it. I thought they were going to call us and say, `Hey, your dad passed away.’ But we prayed, we had hope. Thank God, the next day we were told our dad was still in critical condition, but he was doing a little bit better. Day by day he improved. God listened. He made a miracle. My dad survived. Even the doctors were saying that they didn’t know how that happened.”

As was the case with Santa Cruz, who recalls the occasions when the family’s electricity was shut off because of unpaid bills, Davis’ childhood also was hardly a real-life version of Leave It To Beaver. In 1999, while his father was in prison and his mom was battling drug addition, he was placed into child protective services at the age of five. For the next several years he shuttled between foster homes and shelters. But then, at seven, he found his way into the boxing gym run by Calvin Grove, who knew the pitfalls of life on the streets (he had served 10 years behind bars on drug offenses) as well as the need throw-away children such as Gervonta Davis had to finding someone and something to believe in. Ford, now 56, is so much more than Tank’s trainer now; he also is his father-figure and inspiration not to become another faceless, nameless crime statistic.

“Boxing, I would say, saved my life,” Davis said. “All the guys I came up with that were older than me, they got killed. If you got one foot in the street and one foot in the gym, it’s not going to work. You got to be all the way committed with something.

“When I came to the gym, I felt the love that I needed as a child. Calvin basically raised me. What I been through and what I seen coming up, I knew I don’t want to go backwards in life. I know what that brings.”

In addition to Davis-Santa Cruz, the PPV portion of the undercard features the return, after a layoff of 13 months, of former WBA and WBC Diamond super lightweight champion Regis “Rougaroo” Prograis (24-1, 20 KOs), in a 10-rounder against Juan Heraldez (16-0-1, 10 KOs); the WBA junior welterweight title matchup of San Antonio’s Mario Barrios (25-0, 16 KOs) vs. Ryan Karl (18-2, 12 KOs), and a lightweight scrap pitting Diego Magdaleno (32-3, 13 KOs) against Isaac Cruz Gonzalez (19-1-1, 14 KOs).

Photo credit: Esther Lin / Mayweather Promotions

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HITS and MISSES from Another Weekend on the Boxing Beat

Kelsey McCarson

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Unlike last weekend, there wasn’t just one big fight card for everyone to watch. Instead, the boxing audience in the United States primarily had two separate fight cards to enjoy, one on Friday night from Mexico City featuring stalwart super flyweights, and another one on Saturday night from Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut featuring an important welterweight matchup between hopeful contenders.

Here are boxing’s latest HITS and MISSES from this weekend.

HIT: The Super Super Flyweights

Two of boxing’s best were on display when Juan Francisco Estrada stopped Carlos Cuadras in the 11th round of the main event in Mexico and Roman Gonzalez won a unanimous decision over Israel Gonzalez in the co-feature.

Both Estrada and Gonzalez are exceptional talents who have accomplished more during their impressive careers than most fighters could dream. The two rivals were thought to be on the way to an important rematch against each other a few years ago when Wisaksil Wangek, who fights under the name Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, burst onto the scene in 2017 to shockingly hand Gonzalez the first two losses of his Hall of Fame career as well as Estrada his first loss since Gonzalez defeated him by decision six years prior.

But Estrada has won five straight now, including his rematch against Sor Rungvisai last year, to set up one of the most scintillating fights in the super flyweight division in ages. Gonzalez is already considered by most to be an all-time great, and Estrada isn’t far behind him. After both won their latest fights, it looks like a rematch between the two is finally going to happen.

MISS: Long Delays for Viewers Between Bouts

It boggles my mind how none of the various television networks and streaming platforms in the sport have figured out anything to do worthwhile when fights end sooner than their scheduled number of rounds. It happens so often in the sport that it would seem reasonable to suggest somebody would have come along by now with some kind of plan. Just a few years ago, it seemed swing bouts were still on the table. What happened to those?

On Friday night, if one tuned in to watch the main card tripleheader on DAZN, one was presented with over 45 minutes of waiting around for the next fight to happen after WBC flyweight champ Julio Cesar Martinez needed just two rounds to stop Moises Calleros.

The single most frustrating part of the equation, which has probably been mentioned in this column before, is that Dana White and the UFC pulls it off every single fight card. So, the template already exists, but boxing television partners, even on ESPN where both the UFC and Top Rank coexist, refuse to use it.

HIT: DAZN’s Todd Grisham and Sergio Mora Impromptu Roadshow

Regardless, while I don’t believe it’s reasonable to hope for the beautiful accident that was Friday night on DAZN for every card, I could hardly be mad when DAZN’s dead air was filled with the antics of Todd Grisham and Sergio Mora, who were calling the action on the night. Both are probably underrated at what they do.

Their sometimes jovial, sometimes hostile banter is fun. No, people don’t tune in to hear these guys go back and forth with each other, but it was at least entertaining to hear their near-comedic and entirely impromptu routine, especially because it also surrounded the surreal experience of watching WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman make his in-ring television interview debut with boxing titleholders Mikey Garcia and Emanuel Navarrete.

Boxing is a strange culture. Sometimes even the bad parts of the sport can be good.

MISS: Lip Service from Everyone About Boxing’s Biggest Issue

One of the biggest boxing stories of the weekend was when retired boxing champ Floyd Mayweather ranted against title belts. Indeed, one of the most difficult things to explain to any outsider about the sport is how boxing’s complicated and somewhat absurd championship system works.

Of course, Mayweather is right about there being too many world champions in boxing. But the problem is that people who might actually be able to make those kinds of changes in the sport say things like that without actually doing anything about it. Heck, even WBO president Paco Valcarcel publicly stated that he agreed with Mayweather, even though that sanctioning organization now offers something called a WBO “Global” belt.

Mayweather, Valcarcel and others can’t simply point their fingers about the issue in hopes of getting it fixed. Instead, both men (and others) who wield actual money, power and influence in the sport, would be better served by actually taking measures to change things.

Mayweather, as a promoter, could keep his fighters from the alphabet gang altogether. And Valcarcel? The shortest and easiest path for him to help, short of shutting the WBO down right now, is to stop offering so many titles.

HIT: Matchmaking for Showtime’s Tripleheader

The matchmaker listed at BoxRec for Showtime’s tripleheader was Tom Brown, and it really should be pointed out what a terrific job he did in putting last Saturday’s card together. Of the three fights we saw on our televisions on Saturday night, all six fighters competing had a legitimate chance to win.

There were no gimmes on this card, and that’s rarely the case.

In fact, all the so-called A-sides had rough nights. Undefeated junior lightweight prospect Malik Hawkins suffered the first loss of his career via stoppage to Puerto Rico’s Subriel Matias. Rising 130-pounder Xavier Martinez almost did the same when he was knocked down twice in one round by Claudio Marrero before digging down deep to earn the decision. And the main event? Sergey Lipinets vs. Custio Clayton was such a hotly contested fight that it was scored a split-draw. So, Showtime’s latest card was a breath of fresh air in a sport sometimes too obsessed with promoting future fights over present matters.

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A Fistful of Murder: The Fights and Crimes of Carlos Monzon

Thomas Hauser

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Book Review by Thomas Hauser — Carlos Monzon was born into extreme poverty in Argentina on August 7, 1942. He was mean, violent, surly, brutal, arrogant, occasionally charming, handsome with a smoldering sensuality, and remorseless. His life was marked by street fighting, drunken behavior, domestic violence, and more than forty arrests. In the midst of it all, he found boxing.

Monzon’s story is told by Don Stradley in A Fistful of Murder: The Fights and Crimes of Carlos Monzon. It’s the latest in a series of short books from Hamilcar Publications published under the imprint Hamilcar Noir that deal with boxers whose lives were marked and often terminated by violent crime. Told in 128 pages, the story moves at a brisk pace.

Monzon had one hundred professional fights in a career that began in 1962. He reigned as middleweight champion from 1970 until his retirement in 1977 and was honored as the 1972 “Fighter of the Year” by the Boxing Writers Association of America. All told, he compiled an 87-3-9 (59 KOs) record with 1 no contest. The three losses came during the first two years of his career when he was a novice.

Monzon was a big, strong, tough fighter with a good chin and a basic skill set: stand tall, throw a sharp jab, and follow with a hard right behind it. Mark Kram described him as “a perfectly shaped middleweight, tall with long arms and with style running through every sinew up to his dramatic Belmondo face.”

By contrast, British boxing commentator Reg Gutteridge described Monzon as having “little ring grace” and added “he clubs as if wearing a Roman cestus on his fist.”

Those who question Monzon’s greatness point to the fact that the best of the fighters he beat were past their prime (e.g. Nino Benvenuti) or past their prime and naturally smaller men (e.g. Emile Griffith and Jose Napoles). Monzon was also held to a draw by Benny Briscoe before besting Briscoe on a close decision in a rematch. And he only narrowly defeated Rodrigo Valdez in the last two fights of his ring career.

But as Stradley writes, “A strange thing happened to Monzon in retirement. He became a better fighter. The boxer who had often been dismissed as a classless thug was now revered as an all-time great. During the next decade when lists were made of the top middleweights or of great championship reigns, Monzon’s name would always be near the top.”

How good was Monzon?

Hall of Fame matchmaker Bruce Trampler says that he would have been competitive with any middleweight in any era. More significantly, in 2007, I had a conversation with Bernard Hopkins in which I asked Bernard to speculate as to how he would have fared in the ring against Sugar Ray Robinson, Marvin Hagler, and Monzon. Hopkins’ answer is instructive:

“Sugar Ray Robinson at 147 pounds was close to perfect,” Bernard said. “But at middleweight, he was beatable. I would have fought Ray Robinson in close and not given him room to do his thing. He’d make me pay a physical price. But at middleweight, I think I’d wear him down and win. Me and Marvin Hagler would have been a war. We’d both be in the hospital afterward with straws in our mouth. We’d destroy each other. My game-plan would be, rough him up, box, rough him up, box. You wouldn’t use judges for that fight. You’d go by the doctors’ reports. Carlos Monzon? I could lose that fight. Monzon was tall, rangy, did everything right. I see myself losing that fight more than winning it.”

Stradley’s recounting of Monzon’s ring career is largely pro forma. The more compelling portions of the book lie in the portrait he paints of Monzon’s personal life.

Monzon had virtually no formal education and was close to illiterate. At age 19, he married 15-year-old Mercedes Beatriz Garcia. The newly-wed couple lived with her family in a two-room shack where they slept on a mattress on the floor.

“In many ways,” Stradley writes, “Monzon was the typical wife abuser. He was obsessed with control; he had an evil temper; he drank too much.” In 1973, Mercedes shot her husband in the arm and shoulder after a quarrel between them.

Monzon’s pattern of physically abusing women, assaulting people in public, reckless driving, and other anti-social acts was a constant in his life before, during, and after his championship reign. But as his fame grew, so did his following.

“Monzon,” Stradley notes, “didn’t look like other fighters of the day. He was photographed to look like a stylish Latin pop star, usually in a long leather coat, with plenty of gold jewelry. Argentina’s El Grafico [a popular magazine] treated Monzon like a model, featuring him in regular photo spreads.”

In 1974, while married to Mercedes, Monzon met Susana Gimenez (a popular actress and talk show host). Soon, they were involved in a torrid affair that lasted for four years. At one point, Mercedes complained to her husband about Susana and he punched her in the face, breaking the superciliary arch above her eye. Monzon was arrested and avoided a prison term by pleading temporary insanity. A divorce followed.

Susana’s film credits included adult-oriented comedies. In Stradley’s words, “Monzon had abandoned the mother of his children for a slutty clown. It didn’t help that her sartorial sense ran towards pink denim.”

Even so, Stradley recounts, “Monzon and Susana were now the most photographed twosome in Argentina. Journalist Alfredo Serra estimated they appeared on more than three hundred magazine covers, describing the pair as combining ‘the strength, beauty, fame and glamour of the world in a single couple.'”

During his championship reign, Monzon parleyed his fame as a fighter into several film roles. Then he retired; his relationship with Susana ended; and he met Alicia Muniz Calatayud.

Alicia had worked as a model and belly dancer in addition to once managing a hair salon. She and Monzon married in Miami because his divorce from Mercedes wasn’t recognized under Argentine law. They lived together from May 1979 through August 1986 and again during a brief reconciliation in 1987. On several occasions, Alicia filed complaints with the police alleging that Monzon had beaten her.

By 1988, Stradley writes, “Monzon was still famous but no longer important. Most of the time he was drunk.”

On February 14, 1988, during a weekend they were spending together, Monzon murdered his estranged wife.

“Here’s what probably happened,” Stradley posits. “When Alicia came for the weekend, she reminded him that he was late with his monthly payments [for child support]. They returned from their night out, a night where they’d been unfriendly to each other and a witness had seen Monzon hitting Alicia. At some point before 6 a.m., she said something that made the dynamite in his head go off.”

Monzon told conflicting stories after Alicia’s death, all of which centered on the claim that she’d accidentally fallen over a balcony railing during an argument between them. Then an autopsy report revealed that Alicia had been strangled to death.

“Medical examiners,” Stradley recounts, “estimated thirty-five pounds of pressure or more had been applied to Alicia’s throat. Strangling only requires eleven pounds. They estimated it had been done with a two-fingered grip, probably thumb and forefinger in a kind of one-handed death clamp. It takes only twenty seconds or so to strangle someone into unconsciousness. The damage to Alicia’s throat would take much longer. It wasn’t done by accident or in the heat of the moment. It took a few minutes of full-on rage. Alicia had been strangled long after she had passed out. It’s also rare that a strangling victim has visible marks on the neck or throat. The imprints on Alicia were clear and deep, as if someone had tried to squeeze her head off at the neck. He dumped her body over the balcony to make it look like she’d fallen.”

Monzon was charged with murder. The trial was broadcast live on radio throughout Argentina. Monzon testified that he and Alicia had argued about money and admitted that he had slapped her. “I have hit women on other occasions and nothing happened to any of them,” he told the court. “I hit all of my women except one. My mother.”

A three-judge panel found Monzon guilty of murder. He was sentenced to eleven years in prison with the possibility of time off for good behavior.

By 1993, Monzon was allowed to spend daytime hours and weekends outside of prison. On Sunday, January 8, 1995, after attending a barbeque, he was behind the wheel of a car, probably drunk and definitely speeding.

“By the rules of his furlough agreement,” Stradley writes, “he had to be back at the Las Flores prison by 8 p.m. He didn’t want to risk being late. He only had a short time left to serve on his sentence and didn’t want any infractions on his record. So he drove fast. He’d always been a terrible driver. Being in prison hadn’t made him any better at it.”

While speeding back to the prison, Monzon lost control of the vehicle which turned over multiple times, killing him instantly. Two other passengers also died in the accident. He was 52 years old.

After Monzon’s death, his body lay in state at City Hall in his hometown of Santa Fe. An estimated ten thousand people filed past it. Twenty thousand more lined the route to the Municipal Cemetery while six thousand mourners waited at the cemetery entrance.

Argentine president Carlos Menem told the nation. “Remember Carlos Monzon as a champion, not as a man jailed for murder.” But Argentinian journalist and political commentator Bernardo Neustadt took a contrary view, declaring, “We are a macho society that idolizes a man who beats or violates a woman; a macho society that taught Monzon to dress up, to speak a bit better, but didn’t teach him to think; a macho society that wasn’t horrified when Monzon said he beat all his women.”

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His next book – Staredown: Another Year Inside Boxing – will be published by the University of Arkansas Press this autumn. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. He will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame with the Class of 2020.

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