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Avila Perspective, Chap. 102: Networks Rumble

David A. Avila

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A battle of the networks erupts on Saturday with multiple boxing cards shoving each other for attention.

It starts early.

Ireland’s Katie Taylor (15-0) faces Belgium’s Delfine Persoon (44-2) in a rematch on Saturday morning from London, England. DAZN will stream this high volatile rematch between fierce lightweights. The co-main features heavyweights Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin. It all begins at 11 a.m.

Plenty of other sports will take place, but Saturday is the night for fighting, not basketball, baseball or soccer.

Let’s take the Taylor-Persoon rematch. Their first encounter took place at Madison Square Garden on the same card as the upset of Anthony Joshua by Andy Ruiz. Fans from the British Isles arrived in droves and expected to celebrate victories by their champions Taylor and Joshua.

It did not happen.

Instead, Joshua was knocked out by Ruiz and Taylor nearly lost her fight against Persoon. Many felt the Irish fighter did lose, but in the end, Taylor emerged the winner by majority decision.

That near-loss has irked Taylor for 14 months.

“This is a legacy-building fight for me and Delfine. We’re both in this sport to prove that we are the best,” said Taylor. “You have two fighters here that absolutely believe that they are going to win. We both think we’re going to win. That’s what makes this such a fantastic fight.”

A lot of questions will be answered when Persoon and Taylor meet again this weekend. First, Persoon has never had PED testing results by VADA released. Was she juiced when she fought Taylor the first time? Is that how she was so tireless in her pursuit for 10 furious rounds?

Also, can Taylor adjust to Persoon’s hyper-aggressive style?

Persoon does not think so.

“We will see who is the best fighter. We didn’t think (Taylor would grant a rematch). We were very surprised Katie is taking this risk. For her, it is a big risk. If she loses, it isn’t good for her career,” said Persoon adding that Taylor grabs and holds too much. “I must not give her time to hold me. Don’t give her the time.”

Heavyweights

Getting back to the Matchroom Boxing card, Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs) has a very capable foe in Povetkin (35-2-1) in this heavyweight match that serves as a litmus test.

Dillian Whyte has rebuilt his reputation and has fans clamoring for another shot at Joshua or maybe even a challenge against Tyson Fury. It’s been nearly five years since he was knocked out by Joshua.

“I’m fighting a consummate professional so I’m not bothered about Tyson Fury. I’m bothered about Povetkin. Povetkin is the most technical fighter I’ve fought. He has beaten a lot of top guys. He’s an Olympic gold medalist. He’s only lost two fights. When the bell goes it doesn’t matter if there’s 100,000 people there or 100 people. You are zoned in,” said Whyte.

Povetkin has only lost to Wladimir Klitschko by decision in 2013 and Joshua by knockout in 2018. The Russian has slowed but his experience is way up there.

“Thanks to Dillian also for taking this fight. Hopefully, it will be a great fight in the heavyweight division. I have taken responsibility to train for this fight, understanding how serious it is,” said Povetkin. “You have to take Dillian seriously. I don’t like to make predictions – but it will be fireworks.”

Light heavyweights on ESPN+

Former light heavyweight world champion Eleider Alvarez and heavy-hitting contender Joe Smith Jr. lead a Top Rank card from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Bubble that begins at 4:30 p.m. PT on Saturday.

Alvarez (25-1, 13 KOs) is known best for his knockout win over Sergey Kovalev several years back and whenever he’s in the ring it’s not over till its over.

“I want to be champion of the world for a second time. Whether it’s by knockout or decision, I know Joe Smith comes to fight. I’m going to do the best I can to win this because I want to be champion of the world for a second time,” Alvarez said.

Smith (25-3, 20 KOs) is known as the fighter that gave boxing great Bernard Hopkins his last loss with a knockout that sent the Hall of Fame fighter through the ropes. It was a scary ending but that’s the type of power possessed by the fighter from Long Island, New York.

“Being the underdog, I always feel like I have something to prove. I don’t mind it. I like getting in there and proving the world that I belong at the top and should be a champion,” Smith said.

Another interesting bout features former middleweight titlist Rob Brant (25-2, 17 KOs) facing Vitaly Kopylenko (28-2, 16 KOs) of Ukraine. It’s Brant’s first return to the ring since losing in Osaka, Japan to Ryoto Murata a year ago. Kopylenko is also coming off a loss by decision to Steven Butler by decision. It’s sink or swim time for both.

Welterweights on FOX

Shawn “Showtime” Porter (30-3-1, 17 KOs) finally returns to the ring and faces Germany’s Sebastian Formella (22-0, 10 KOs) in a title elimination bout for the welterweight world title. The former world champion is among the first of the elite fighters to step back in the prize ring. FOX will televise the PBC card on Saturday Aug. 22, at 5 p.m. PT.

“I wanted to take on the responsibility of bringing big-time boxing back. I’m one of the first big names to come back and I’m proud to represent my team and my family by getting back in the ring sooner than later,” said Porter, 32.

Few fighters excite fight fans like Porter who’s a pit bull inside the prize ring. His fight a year ago against Errol Spence Jr. lit up the Staples Center in Los Angeles. His clash with Danny “Swift” Garcia was equally exciting. In fact, Porter rarely gives bad fights.

If you ever wondered how the great Henry Armstrong fought, just take a look at any of Porter’s fights. He’s the 21st century Henry Armstrong.

Formella, 33, is one of the few fighters Porter has ever faced that he can look directly eye to eye. Both are short for welterweights. But the German fighter has never lost and has some decent wins on his record.

Also, on the PBC fight card will be super welterweights Nathaniel Gallimore (21-4-1, 17 KOs) meeting Sebastian Fundora (14-0-1, 9 KOs) who is one of the tallest Latino fighters I’ve ever seen at 154 pounds. It’s a very interesting pairing. Gallimore is not short but he’s giving up six inches in height to Fundora, a southpaw out of Coachella, California.

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Season 2 of the World Boxing Super Series Concludes on Saturday in Munich

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PRESS RELEASE: The hotly-anticipated World Boxing Super Series Season II Cruiserweight Final between Mairis Briedis and Yuniel Dorticos takes place behind-closed-doors in a film studio at Plazamedia Broadcasting Center in Munich, Germany on Saturday, 26 September. On the line: The Muhammad Ali Trophy, IBF World Title, and vacant Ring Magazine 200 lbs belt.

The final will be shown live on DAZN in the US and Sky Sports in the UK.

“A final for the Muhammad Ali Trophy has proved to be something extraordinary. We have seen that it brings out the best in boxers which reflects the DNA of our tournament as to deliver and continue to deliver boxing at its very best to fans of the sport,” said Andreas Benz, CEO of Comosa, the event organizer.

“Plazamedia is a phenomenal solution, the studios are providing a controlled environment which is of huge benefit to us and the production team to keep everyone safe while also putting on a great show.

“At the same time, we have done everything to secure fair conditions for both teams, and to ensure they remain healthy and isolated until the action starts.”

Mairis Briedis, tournament No. 1 seed, qualified for the final through wins over Noel Mikaelian (UD) and Krzysztof Glowacki (TKO3), while Dorticos, No. 2 seed conquered Mateusz Masternak (UD) and Andrew Tabiti (KO10) to enter the 200 lbs decider.

“We are very happy about the announcement of the final,” said Latvia’s Mairis Briedis. “I love the fact that it will be in Munich as it reminds me of every time I went to train with the Klitschko brothers in Germany and the flights were always via Munich. Those are some great memories of the time spent with them there.”

Said Miami-based Cuban, Yuniel ‘The KO Doctor’ Dorticos, IBF World Cruiserweight Champion: “To all my fans worldwide, In Europe and especially in Munich, Germany: I am super happy the World Boxing Super Series final will take place in Munich, Germany, and I will see you all on Saturday, September 26th. The KO Doctor is back and ready to prescribe another dose of pain and take the Muhammad Ali Trophy back to Miami.”

Kalle Sauerland, Chief Boxing Officer of the WBSS, said: “On 26 September we will not only crown the best cruiserweight on the planet but also send a sign to the world that boxing is back with the first major transatlantic championship bout between the undisputed number one and two in their division.

The final is not only about honour and glory, but cementing a legacy. The winner will become a member of an exclusive ‘Ali Trophy Winner Club’ that includes Oleksandr Usyk, Callum Smith, Naoya Inoue and Josh Taylor. It doesn’t get much bigger in boxing, and we expect Briedis and Dorticos to have an absolute barnstormer!”

The Muhammad Ali Trophy was created by the late world-renowned artist Silvio Gazzaniga who also designed the iconic FIFA World Cup Trophy.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 106: Return of LA Boxing, Josh Taylor, Charlos and More

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 106: Return of LA Boxing, Josh Taylor, Charlos and More

Let’s call this week the Big Build Up.

Back in the 1920s to the 1950s the City of Angels was known as the place where Humphrey Bogart lived and played characters out of Raymond Chandler’s novels. Books like the “Big Sleep” and “Lady in a Lake” were made into movies based in Los Angeles.

Well, here we are back where boxing thrives, people or not.

Los Angeles kicks off the big boxing week starting with a televised fight card that features home grown featherweight Vic Pasillas at the Microsoft Theater in the downtown area. Fox Sports 1 will televise the Premier Boxing Championship card on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Pasillas (15-0,8 KOs) faces Dominican fighter Ranfis Encarnacion (17-0, 13 KOs) in the co-main event at a fan-less event that begins a crowded week of boxing as we near the end of 2020.

“Coming out on top against Encarnación is going to catapult me into some big fights at featherweight. The division is wide open and I know with hard work I can take it over,” said Pasillas who is originally from Los Angeles. “This is by far the most important fight of my career. I’m coming with everything I got, because I know this is the turning point that will lead to bigger and better fights. I am ready to bring an exciting fight to the fans and get my hand raised in victory.”

Both Pasillas and Encarnacion are undefeated and unknown to most of the boxing world. A win changes everything especially when it’s difficult to even stage a boxing card.

Promoters are anxious to get their fighters in the ring by any means necessary.

On Thursday in Biloxi, Mississippi, super lightweight Michael Williams Jr. meets Thomas Miller in the headline attraction of a boxing card that will be streamed by UFC Fight Pass.

On Friday in southern Mexico, Serhii Bohachuk (17-0, 17 KOs) meets Alejandro Davila (21-1-2, 8 KOs) in Merida, Yucatan. No word if it will be streamed. The super welterweight from Ukraine has a 17-fight knockout streak and has become a main attraction in Hollywood, California for 360 Promotions.

“Serhii has become one of the most talked about rising stars in boxing,” said Tom Loeffler, promoter of 360 Promotions. “Boxing fans are excited to see if he can continue his knockout streak against Alejandro Davila, the toughest opponent he’s faced. He’s been training very hard with Manny Robles for this fight and if victorious, we’re certain there will be bigger opportunities for him in the near future.”

These are all tasty appetizers for the big buffet coming on Saturday.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Saturday morning, especially if you live in the California area, ESPN+ will showcase the IBF, WBA super lightweight world title fight between champion Josh Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) and Apinun Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs) in London. It will be streamed live on Sept. 26, Saturday morning, starting at 11 a.m PST.

This is an important match for Taylor (pictured on the left) who needs a win to nail down a unification clash with Jose Carlos Ramirez the WBC and WBO titlist. If Scotland’s Taylor emerges victorious the super lightweight clash will be one of the top fights of the year.

And if that fight happens to take place, then that winner more than likely meets WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford.

But first things first. Taylor needs to defeat Thailand’s Khongsong on Saturday.

“I didn’t want a warm-up fight, so getting straight back in there against my mandatory challenger is great, as it’s kept me fully focused. I want big fights in my career, so this is an important fight with my belts on the line,” said Taylor.

Charlos Pay-per-view

The Charlos brothers asked for it and they got it.

Long have the brothers from Houston, Texas asked for a pay-per-view fight card and it never seemed possible until now. The Charlos will headline a pay-per-view double-header on Saturday via Showtime.

Beginning at 4 p.m PT/ 7 p.m. ET the Showtime pay-per-view card begins with three top notch bouts:

WBO bantamweight titlist John Riel Casimero (29-4) vs Ghana’s Duke Micah (24-0, 19 KOs).

WBA super bantamweight titlist Brandon Figueroa (20-0-1, 15 KOs) vs Damien Vazquez (15-1-1, 8 KOs).

WBC middleweight titlist Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) v Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs).

Charlo was not impressed with Derevyanchenko’s performances against Daniel Jacobs and Gennady Golovkin because both were losses. He expects to dominate.

Derevyanchenko says he’s ready for Charlo.

“Golovkin is a very different fighter than Charlo, but Jacobs is similar stylistically, so that’s something I’ll be used to,” said Derevyanchenko. “This training camp has been very similar to camps for my previous fights though. We just brought in different sparring partners for this one. We’re using fighters who can show us what Charlo will bring to the ring.”

After a 30-minute intermission the second half of the boxing card begins.

Former bantamweight world champion Luis Nery (30-0, 24 KOs) moves up in weight to face Aaron Alameda (25-0, 13 KOs) for the vacant WBC super bantamweight world title. Both fighters are from Mexico.

Former super bantamweight titlists Danny Roman (27-3-1) and Juan Carlos Payano (21-3) meet in a 12-round bout.

In the grand finale WBC super welterweight titlist Jermell Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) challenges IBF and WBA super welterweight titlist Jeison Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs) in a fight for all three belts.

“We lions,” said Charlo.

It’s a very big week for boxing that begins on Wednesday and ends Saturday.

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The Return of Wednesday Boxing Evokes Memories of a Golden Era

Arne K. Lang

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There’s a Wednesday card on the boxing docket this week. The card, which features several undefeated up-and-comers of the sort usually found on Showtime’s developmental series, “ShoBox: The New Generation,” will play out at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and air on Fox Sports 1.

Not to be out-done, “ShoBox” is returning. The long-running series, which suspended operations in March in obeisance to COVID-19 restrictions, returns on Oct. 7 with a show emanating from Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino. The contestants in the main go of the four-fight card, Charles Conwell and Wendy Toussaint, have identical 12-0 records.

It just so happens that Oct. 7 is also a Wednesday. And these upcoming Wednesday shows transported this reporter back to his boyhood when boxing was a fixture on radio and television on Wednesday nights. The Wednesday series sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon beer ran from 1950 to 1960, airing the first five years on CBS and then on ABC.

Fights were all over the TV dial during the 1950s, not that there was much competition. The Big Three — NBC, CBS, and ABC — ruled the airwaves with DuMont a very distant fourth and cable television well off into the future. (For a time, the short-lived DuMont network aired boxing shows on Mondays.)

When televisions first came out, they were a big-ticket item. In 1948, RCA’s cheapest model sold for $395. That’s the equivalent of $10,400 today. By 1954, the cost of the least expensive model had declined to $189 and it came in a bigger box, with a 17-inch screen compared with the 13-inch screen that was standard six years earlier.

With the cost of the coveted contraption beyond the means of many wage earners, saloonkeepers cashed in. Boxing fans flocked to the neighborhood tavern to get their boxing fix. The saloonkeeper could write off his television sets on his taxes as a business expense.

Those were the days, and I date myself, when every town had a TV repair shop and the repairman, like the family doctor, made house calls.

The Wednesday Night Fights were a spin-off of the Friday Night Fights on NBC. The matchmaker for both series (through 1958) was the International Boxing Club which was headquartered at Madison Square Garden. The president of the IBC was James D. Norris (who would come to be seen as a puppet for mobster Frankie Carbo, but that’s a story for another day).

James D. Norris inherited a vast fortune from his father, Canadian businessman James E. Norris. The elder Norris was a big wheel in the sport of hockey and had a financial interest in the arenas that housed NHL teams in Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis. He made these arenas available to his son and the Wednesday fight cards moved around, unlike the Friday fights which were pinned to Madison Square Garden.

Both series would eventually venture out at times into virgin territory, but the Wednesday series was the trailblazer. The first nationally televised boxing show from the West Coast was a Wednesday affair. Jimmy Carter defended his world lightweight title against LA fan favorite Art Aragon, the original Golden Boy, at the Olympic Auditorium on Nov. 14, 1951. Aragon had upset Carter in a non-title fight 11 weeks earlier, but Carter took him to school in the rematch, winning a lopsided decision.

The Friday boxing series, which took the name “Gillette Cavalcade of Sports,” would come to be more fondly remembered, but once the TV became a living room staple, which happened fast, the Wednesday series drew higher ratings. This was predictable as more folks stayed home on Wednesday nights than on Friday nights. And although the Friday series had a larger budget, some of the most important fights of the era were staged on Wednesdays.

One of the highlights of the 1951 season was Ezzard Charles’ world heavyweight title defense against Jersey Joe Walcott at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. It was Walcott’s fifth crack at the title and he was considered ancient at age 37, but he avenged his two previous losses to Charles with a thunderous one-punch knockout.

Carmen Basilio appeared in The Ring magazine Fight of the Year in five consecutive years (1955-1959). The first two — his second meeting with Tony DeMarco and his second meeting with Johnny Saxton – were televised on a Wednesday.

Although he would be quickly forgotten, the Wednesday series brought Bob Satterfield a cult following because of his unpredictability. He certainly left an impression on octogenarian boxing writer Ted Sares who recently named Satterfield his all-time favorite fighter.

To conjure up a portrait of Satterfield, think Deontay Wilder and then fix Wilder with a glass jaw. Satterfield, whose best weight was about 182 pounds, was a murderous puncher, but during his career he was stopped 13 times.

LA’s Clarence Henry and Pittsburgh’s Bob Baker were ranked #3 in the heavyweight division when they ventured to Chicago to tangle with Satterfield, Henry in 1952 and Baker the following year. Henry knocked out Satterfield in the opening round. Satterfield hit the canvas so hard, said a ringside reporter, the resin dust flew up.

The Satterfield-Baker fight would also end in the opening round. Baker out-weighed Satterfield by 34 pounds, but Satterfield flattened him. Later on, in a non-Wednesday fight, Satterfield knocked out Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams in the third round. Williams, 33-1 heading in, was the larger man by 25 pounds.

One bet on or against Bob Satterfield at one’s own peril.

The Wednesday Night Fights had a nice run before the series was cancelled and supplanted in its time slot by “The Naked City,” a critically acclaimed police drama series. Perhaps the return of boxing on Wednesdays augurs well for another mid-week boxing series, but we won’t hold our breath.

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