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Joe Smith Jr. Dominates and Stops Eleider Alvarez at the MGM Grand ‘Bubble’

Arne K. Lang

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Joe Smith Jr., the Long Island construction worker and tree surgeon, showed that he should be remembered as something more than one of the sport’s great spoilers with a ninth round KO of former IBF light-heavyweight title-holder Eleider Alvarez. The fight capped an 8-bout card at the MGM Grand “Bubble” in Las Vegas.

Alvarez, the Montreal-based Columbian, looked older than his 36 years tonight. Keeping tight to a well-designed fight plan, similar to his last match against Jesse Hart, Smith, 30, was far ahead through the eight completed rounds, having swept all eight rounds on the card of Nevada’s top judge Dave Moretti.

A hard right hand spelled the end for Alvarez who absorbed a left as he was crashing, landing with his head on the ring apron. Alvarez (25-2) hadn’t previously been stopped and was coming off a highlight reel knockout over Michael Seals.

The fight was billed as a title eliminator for the vacant WBO 175-pound belt. Smith (26-3, 21 KOs) previously came up short in a world title bid, losing a lopsided decision to WBA title-holder Dmitry Bivol, but may well dress up as the favorite in his second crack at it.

Other Fights

Minnesota middleweight Rob Brant looked very sharp in his first fight back since suffering a second-round stoppage in Osaka, Japan, at the hands of Ryota Murata in his last outing. Brant (26-2, 18 KOs) dominated 36-year-old Ukrainian Vitaliy Kopylenko (28-3) before the bout was halted after five rounds with Kopylenko displaying a big welt under his left eye. It was Brant’s first fight with new trainer Brian McIntyre who also handles Terence Crawford. A 12-year pro, Kopylenko hadn’t previously been stopped. Up next for Brant may be a rubber match with Murata.

Welterweight Julian Rodriguez, a former National Golden Gloves champion whose return to the ring was delayed by a positive COVID-19 test, made short work of Anthony Laureano, knocking him down three times before the bout was halted at the 2:50 mark of the first round. The 25-year-old Rodriguez, from Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, improved to 20-0 (13 KOs). It was the first pro loss for Laureano (13-1) who suffered insult to injury, so to speak, when he came in overweight and had to surrender a portion of his purse.

Middleweight Clay Collard, the former (and future) kickboxer from Castle Dale, Utah, continued his hot summer roll with a second-round stoppage of Maurice Williams (7-2). Collard, who has developed a cult following, improved to 9-2-3 (4 KOs). He scored two knockdowns before referee Tony Weeks halted the contest at the 1:54 mark. Williams hadn’t previously fought outside Oklahoma and it showed.

New Top Rank signee Duke Ragan, a featherweight from Cincinnati decorated amateur from Cincinnati, made short work of Luis Alvarado in his pro debut, stopping the overmatched Alvarado in the opening round. A decorated amateur who fell short in the Olympic trials, Ragan is trained by Kay Koroma, a rising star in his profession.

In a bantamweight contest slated for eight rounds, Robert Rodriguez (9-0-1, 5 KOs) blew away Abel Soriano, scoring three knockdowns before the fight was stopped in the opening round. A 21-year-old southpaw, Rodriguez is one of four San Antonio fighters training at Robert Garcia’s boxing academy in Riverside. Soriano, from Bellevue, Nebraska, entered the contest with a 10-0 record but hadn’t defeated an opponent with a winning record.

In junior welterweight battle of Southern Californians, Israel Mercado improved to 8-0 with a 6-round unanimous decision over Adrian Valdovinos (5-1-1). The scores were 59-55 and 60-54 twice.

In the lid-lifter, a drab 8-round middleweight contest, Wendy “Haitian Fire” Toussaint, a stablemate of Joe Smith Jr, improved to 12-0 with a unanimous decision over Isiah Jones (9-3). The scores were 80-72 and 79-73 twice.

PBC on FOX

At the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, former world welterweight champion Shawn Porter “pitched a shutout” (120-108 x 3) over German import Sebastian Formella, advancing his record to 31-3-1. It was a moral victory for the intrepid Formella (22-1), a massive underdog who absorbed a terrific amount of punishment but was never knocked off his feet.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

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What Next for Gabriel Rosado?

Ted Sares

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Bektemir Melikuziev, Freddie Roach, Edgar Berlanga, and Jaime Munguia are names that, one way or another, figured into Gabe Rosado’s stunning KO last Saturday night in El Paso. It overshadowed the impressive showing by Noaya “Monster” Inoue later that night in Las Vegas.

Rosado (26-13-1) is a well-documented bleeder and just might start spurting during the walk-in, but he is never, ever in a dull fight. The tougher-than-tough Philadelphian won Top Gore honors for his blood and guts TKO loss to Canadian middleweight star David Lemieux in 2014. The year before, he bled aplenty in his game but losing effort against Gennady Golovkin.

This time against Melikuziev, the unbeaten Uzbek, the fight ended in round three when the 35-year-old underdog beat the Eastern Euro fighter to the punch during an exchange of rights with Gabe’s landing first and sending the former amateur star into dreamland. The force of the blow was amplified by the younger and faster man coming forward with caution to the wind. And this time, there was no bloodletting.

The knockout should be a contender for KO of the Year. In fact, it was reminiscent of Juan Manuel Marquez’s explosive knockout of Manny Pacquiao in their final match.

Once again, Rosado (who is now trained by Freddie Roach) has revived his career and can count on at least one last decent payday. While many think Jaime Munguia would be a solid next fight, the thinking here is that Rosado could get carved up by the undefeated Tijuana veteran who has won 30 of his 37 fights by KO. Munguia is just too good.

The Catch 22

Rosado is an all-action fighter but scar tissue and his propensity to bleed is his worst enemy. It has cost him in the past. For such an offensive-minded fighter as Gabe, he is trapped in a terrible catch-22. If he can get the lead early and the bleeding is stemmed within reasonable limits, he can be a force, but not against the likes of Munguia.

If not Munguia, then who?  Here is one suggestion: How about “The Chosen One,” Edgar Berlanga (17-0) whose first round KO streak recently came to an end. Brooklyn vs. Philadelphia would be a nice added touch –not to mention the Puerto Rican factor. Could Rosado expose Berlanga as someone without enough experience, aka rounds? Would Gabe show that Berlanga is more Tyson Brunson that Edwin Valero?

Let’s make it happen!

Ted Sares enjoys researching and writing about boxing. He also competes as a powerlifter in the Master-class. He can be reached at  tedsares@roadrunner.com

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Fast Results from Las Vegas: Inoue Demolishes Dasmarinas; Mayer UD Farias

Arne K. Lang

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Fast Results from Las Vegas: Inoue Demolishes Dasmarinas; Mayer UD  Farias

LAS VEGAS — Top Rank was at the Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas on Saturday, June 19, for the second of their three June shows. In the headliner, WBA/IBF world bantamweight champion Naoya “Monster” Inoue lived up to his nickname with a vicious third round stoppage of Filipino import Michael Dasmarinas.

Inoue (21-0, 18 KOs) had his opponent fighting off his back foot from the opening bell. He knocked down Dasmarinas in the second with a left hook to the liver and twice more in the third round before referee Russell Mora waived it off. The official time was 2:45.

Dasmarinas brought a 30-2-1 record and hadn’t lost since 2014. But he was no match for the “Monster” who looks younger than his 28 years. Those body shots landed with a thud that could be heard in the far reaches of the arena. This kid is really good.

Mikaela Mayer continues to improve as she showed tonight in the first defense of her WBO world super featherweight title. Mayer 15-0 (5) turned away Argentina’s Erica Farias (26-5) with a 10-round unanimous decision in a fight that was frankly rather monotonous.

Mayer won by scores of 97-93 and 98-92 twice. Farias, who landed the best punch of the fight, didn’t have the taller Mayer’s physical equipment but yet landed the best punch of the fight. Her only setbacks have come on the road against elite opponents—Cecilia Braekhus, Delfine Person, Jessica McCaskill (twice) and now Mikaela Mayer.

The opener on the ESPN portion of the show was a lusty 10-round welterweight affair between Ghana native Isaac Dogboe and Glendale, California’s Adam Lopez. Dogboe, whose only losses came at the hands of Emanuel Navarette in world title fights, improved to 22-2 by dint of a majority decision that could have easily gone the other way. Dave Moretti had it a draw but was overruled (97-93 and 96-94).

Lopez, one of two fighting sons of the late Hector Lopez, an Olympic silver medalist, did his best work late, particularly in the eighth round. With the loss, his record declines to 15-3.

Other Bouts

Monterrey, Mexico super lightweight Lindolfo Delgado, a 2016 Olympian, was extended the distance for the first time in his career but won a wide 8-round decision over Guadalajara’s Salvador Briceno

Delgado won by scores of 80-72 and 79-73 twice while advancing his record to 12-0. Delgado’s best round was the eighth, but Briceno (17-7) weathered the storm. Briceno is 5-6 in his last 11, but has been matched tough. The six fighters to beat him, including Delgado, were a combined 78-3 at the time that he fought them.

Vista, California lightweight Eric Puente has yet to score a KO but he is undefeated in six starts after winning a unanimous decision over Mexico’s Antonio Meza (7-6). Puente, who is trained by Robert Garcia, knocked Meza down early into the fight with a sweeping left and was the aggressor throughout. The judges had it 57-56 and 58-55 twice.

Puerto Rican super lightweight Omar Rosario improved to 4-0 (2) with a fourth-round stoppage of Reno, Nevada’s Wilfred “JJ” Moreno (3-1) The official time was 0:47.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Munguia and Rosado Win by Stoppage in El Paso; Rosado in a Spectacular Fashion

Arne K. Lang

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Munguia and Rosado Win by Stoppage in El Paso, Rosado in a Spectacular Fashion

Golden Boy Promotions and their broadcasting partner DAZN were at the Don Haskins Center on the campus of the University of Texas at El Paso today for a rare afternoon card. The honchos at GBP didn’t want to go head-to-head with competing shows on ESPN, Showtime, and Triller, the latter of which fell out when headliner Teofimo Lopez tested positive for Covid-19.

There were 10 fights scheduled with the four main fights going first and the undercard bouts bundled into the posterior.

The main event was a 12-round middleweight contest between Tijuana’s Jaime Munguia (37-0, 30 KOs), the former WBO 154-pound title-holder, and Poland’s Kamil Szeremeta (21-2) who was stepping in for countryman Maciej Sulecki who pulled out of this fight twice. The Pole was making his first start since getting bushwacked by Gennadiy Golovkin in a bout on which he was on the deck four times before his corner pulled him out.

His corner stopped this fight as well, the end coming at the conclusion of the sixth frame. After a feeling-out round, Munguia, who is trained by his Tijuana homey Erik Morales, stepped it up. Knowing that Szeremeta was a light puncher, he had no worry about anything coming back at him. There were no knockdowns, but the fight turned progressively more one-sided and the stoppage was warranted.

Co-Feature

In the co-feature, slated for 12 in the 168-pound class, 35-year-old Philadelphia warhorse Gabe Rosado (pictured) stole the show with a spectacular one-punch knockout over previously undefeated Bektemir “Bec The Bully” Melikuziev.

A 2012 Olympic silver medalist for Uzbekistan, Melikuziev dominated the first two rounds, knocking down Rosado in the first with a combination of punches. He worked the body effectively for the first two rounds and it appeared that he was too strong for the Philadelphian. But Rosado (26-13, 15 KOs), blasted him out in the third, beating him to the punch with a right hook that landed flush on the Uzbek’s jaw.

The referee didn’t bother to count. Melikuziev was 7-0 (6) heading in. Jaime Munguia may be next for Rosado.

Other Bouts

In a good-action fight that was marred by questionable scoring, native Texan Marlen Esparza, a bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympics, wrested the WBO world flyweight title from Mexico’s Ibeth Zamora. Esparza (10-1, 1 KO) sprinted out of her corner at the opening bell only to suffer a knockdown before the fight was 90 seconds old. She fought her way back into the fight, winning the match in the eyes of the judges (97-92, 96-93, 95-94) but not in the eyes of the few fans in attendance who booed when the scores were announced.

It was a hard pill to swallow for the 32-year-old Zamora, now 32-7, who had won 17 of her last 18 heading in.

In his best showing to date, 31-year-old welterweight “prospect” Blair “The Flair” Cobbs scored a fifth-round stoppage over 38-year-old Georgia campaigner Brad Solomon. This was a fairly even fight through four rounds, but Solomon was showing signs of fatigue when Cobbs dropped him to his knees with a big left hand, leading the referee to call it off.

Blair the Flair, who has been training with Freddie Roach, improved to 15-0-1 (10). Solomon, who learned to fight in prison, declined to 29-4.

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