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Notes on Tszyu-Horn, Sandro Mazzinghi and More

Arne K. Lang

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Former WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn said he planned to “ragdoll” Tim Tszyu. The peachy word that Horn invented turned out to be a pretty good description of what Tszyu did to him. Tszyu dominated the junior middleweight contest from the start. Many thought the fight should have been stopped well before the bell ending round eight, whereupon Horn’s corner, at the encouragement of the referee, finally pulled him out.

It was a masterclass against an opponent who isn’t easy to look against, but Tszyu (16-0, 12 KOs) was better in every phase of the game. After the fight, he said, “I just want to let everyone know my name is Tim, not the son,” referencing his famous father.

Tim Tszyu, 25, has never said a bad word about his father, but there is undoubtedly some tension between them. Kostya Tszyu wasn’t there as his son was growing up and purportedly has attended only one of Tim’s fights. Kostya eventually left Tim and his mom and Tim’s two siblings, returning to his native Russia where he remarried and started a new family.

Tim Tszyu may never escape the long shadow his father, an all-time great, but today he became the face of Australian boxing and instantly one of the most talked-about young boxers on the planet.

Mazzinghi

The longer a prominent athlete lives, the shorter his obituary becomes, unless he was a true giant in his field. Sandro Mazzinghi was a two-time world champion at 154 pounds, but he wasn’t exactly a giant so it’s no surprise that his death last week at age 81 was largely ignored by the media in the English-speaking world. But make no mistake; Mazzinghi was a huge star in Italy. His saga inspired biographies and memoirs, two of which he wrote himself.

Born into poverty in the Valdera region of Tuscany in a town that suffered heavy damage from British and U.S. bombers during World War II, Mazzinghi followed his older brother Guido – a bronze medalist in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics – into the squared circle. He fought from 1961 to 1970, compiling a record of 61-3 (42 KOs) and then returned after a seven-year absence to append three more wins to his ledger.

mazzinghi

Two of his three losses were to countryman Nino Benvenuti, a future Hall of Famer. Benvenuti was 56-0 heading into their first meeting and Mazzinghi, making his fourth world title defense, was riding a 24-fight winning streak. This was Italy’s Fight of the Century. It was staged in a soccer stadium in Milan.

Mazzinghi suffered a great tragedy prior to his first title fight with Benvenuti. Leaving a restaurant in Florence on a wet and foggy night, he lost control of his BMW and slammed into a tree. The accident killed his wife of seven days and left him with a fractured skull.

Mazzinghi began a second run as the 154-pound world title-holder in 1968, out-pointing South Korea’s undefeated Ki-Soo Kim. He lost the belt in the most curious fashion, having it stripped from him after a bout with Freddie Little that was declared a “no-contest.”

Little, a very underrated fighter, was having all the best of the milling when he opened a bad cut over Mazzinghi’s right eye in the eighth frame with what the incompetent German referee deemed to be an illegal punch. He disqualified Little, but his verdict was later changed to NC.

Fourteen months after this incident, after one intervening bout, Mazzinghi made his first and only appearance in the United States. He fought on a club show at the Silver Slipper in Las Vegas, opposing journeyman Cipriano Hernandez who was dressed with a 19-5 record that was undoubtedly closer to the 12-8 mark that currently appears in BoxRec.

There had to be a back-room deal that brought Mazzinghi to Las Vegas; it certainly wasn’t the money as his purse was only $1,200. The fights at the Silver Slipper were promoted by the late Bill Miller who managed Freddie Little and won the purse bid to stage the Massinghi-Little rematch, a fight that never happened.

Regardless, the Silver Slipper rolled out the red carpet for the Italian like no visiting fighter before him and although this was late in Mazzinghi’s career, he looked very sharp, taking out Hernandez in the second round before leaving the ring to a standing ovation.

Many European fighters aren’t nearly as skilled as their inflated records would indicate, but don’t put Sandro Mazzinghi in this category. He was very good as he attested in his second meeting with the great Benvenuti, a very close fight that went the full 15 rounds.

As a young man Mazzinghi dreamed of owning a vineyard. Boxing enabled him to achieve that goal. We here at TSS send our condolences to his loved ones.

Lomachenko – Lopez

Bob Arum told ESPN that there remains a possibility that the Lomachenko-Lopez fight could move out of the MGM Grand Bubble and into the MGM Grand Garden with fans in attendance. For this to happen, approval would have to come from the Governor who would, of course, act in concert with his medical advisors.

The Lomachenko-Lopez fight is signed for Oct. 17. Pre-COVID 19, this would have definitely been a pay-per-view event but as it now stands it will air live on the flagship channel of cable giant ESPN which reportedly reaches 86 million households. If the fight is as good as many anticipate, it will be great boon to the sport.

Arum had originally hinted at parking the fight at Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the former Oakland Raiders. It was obviously no coincidence that Arum chose the date of Oct. 17 as the Raiders have a bye that weekend.

Wednesday’s fight between Jeff Horn and Tim Tszyu at Townsville, Queensland, Australia, was parked in a stadium with attendance capped at 16,000 for social distancing purposes. The new home of the Raiders is a 65,000-seat venue, capable of expanding to 71,835 for a Super Bowl. By taking seats and rows out of commission, it could still accommodate a large crowd, even with social distancing protocols. Yes, I know there are other issues. How do we keep fight-goers six feet apart at the entrances and exits, or when lining up at the restrooms and the concession stands? But Bob Arum is a very resourceful fellow and he will figure it out if given the opportunity.

Many big fights over the years have been icebreaker events at new stadiums. Perhaps it’s a pipe dream (and yes, I’m biased because I would love to be there), but a big stadium fight is just what Las Vegas needs right now and I believe there is still a shot that it may happen.

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Pradabsri Upsets Menayothin, Ends the Longest Unbeaten Streak of Modern Times

Arne K. Lang

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During the wee hours in the Americas, a big upset was brewing in Thailand. In Nakhon Sawan, a city roughly 150 miles north of Bangkok, Panya Pradabsri (aka Petchmanee CP Freshmart) out-pointed Wanheng Menayothin (aka Chayaphon Moonsri) in a domestic clash with international significance. Manayothin entered the bout with a 54-0 (18) record and was making the 13th defense of his WBC world minimumweight title.

Pradabsri had been defeated only once in 35 previous starts, but only 11 of his 34 victories had come against fighters with winning records. According to ringside reports, he kept Menayothin at bay with good fundamentals, a stiff jab, and good lateral movement. All three judges had it 115-113. The fight wasn’t without controversy as Menayothin finished stronger and many folks scoring off the live video thought that he had done just enough to retain his title.

How good was/is Menayothin? That’s a question that serious boxing fans will likely debate for decades.

In the summer of 2019, Menayothin signed a co-promotional deal with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. At time, GBP president Eric Gomez described him as one of the best fighters in the world. “We really want to bring him to the U.S. so people can see how talented he really is,” Gomez told England’s Sky Sports.

Menayothin was expected to make his U.S. debut in April of this year, but the pandemic ruined that plan. Earlier this year, he announced his retirement, but rescinded it after only two days.

Scottish boxing historian Matt McGrain, who has an exclusive arrangement with this web site, had lukewarm opinion of the Thai mighty-mite although he rated him the second-best 105-pound boxer of the decade, trailing only his countryman Thammanoon Niyomtrong (aka Knockout CP Freshmart).

“He is disciplined, strong, brings good pressure and is armed with a very decent range of punches,” said McGrain, “(but his record) is comprised mostly of men any competent fighter would be expected to beat.”

Although only one boxer from Thailand has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (Khaosai Galaxy, class of 1999), the Southeast Asia nation has produced some outstanding boxers over the years – Chartchoi Chionoi, Sot Chitalada, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to name just a few. The difference between these fighters and Wanheng Menayothin is that they all left the comfort zone of their homeland to score one or more important wins on foreign soil.

Menayothin may yet display his wares in a U.S. ring. But at age 35, an advanced age for small fighters in particular, we won’t get to see him at his best and now that his bubble has been burst, disinviting further comparisons to Mayweather and Marciano, the curiosity factor has been tempered.

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Yoka vs. Hammer Kicks Off the Thanksgiving Weekend Slate on ESPN+

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PRESS RELEASE— Tony Yoka, the dynamic heavyweight punching Parisian, aims to impress in his ESPN platform debut. Yoka, who won a super heavyweight gold medal for France at the 2016 Rio Olympics, will fight veteran Christian Hammer in a 10-rounder Friday at H Arena in Nantes, France.

Yoka-Hammer will stream live and exclusively this Friday, Nov. 27 in the United States on ESPN+ beginning at 2:55 p.m. ET/11:55 a.m. PT.

The ESPN+ stream will also include the return of unbeaten 2016 French Olympic gold medalist Estelle Yoka-Mossely against Pasa Malagic in an eight-round lightweight bout. Yoka and Yoka-Mossely, who have been married since 2018, welcomed their second child in May.

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Earlier this year, Yoka inked a promotional agreement with Top Rank, which will co-promote him with Ringstar France.

“Tony Yoka’s potential is limitless, and he is a grounded young man who is motivated to be a great professional fighter,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “France has never had a world heavyweight champion, and I believe Tony is the one to bring the sport’s biggest honor home.”

The 28-year-old Yoka’s stellar amateur run included a berth at the 2012 London Olympics and gold medals at the 2015 World Championships and 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Before his triumph in Rio, he’d already defeated the likes of former heavyweight world champion Joseph Parker and current undefeated prospects Joe Joyce and Ivan Dychko. At the Rio Olympics, he defeated Croatian standout Filip Hrgović in the semifinals and edged Joyce in the gold medal match.

As a professional, Yoka (8-0, 7 KOs) made his debut in June 2017 with a second-round stoppage over the previously undefeated Travis Clark. Apart from a decision win over Jonathan Rice in his second outing, Yoka has stopped every foe, including durable Englishman David “White Rhino” Allen and former European champion Alexander Dimitrenko. He made his 2020 debut Sept. 25 and stopped former world title challenger Johann Duhaupas in one round.

Hammer (25-6, 15 KOs) has fought many of the leading heavyweight names during his 12-year career, falling short against Tyson Fury, Luis Ortiz and Alexander Povetkin. He’s notched myriad upset victories, including a highlight-reel knockout over David Price and a 2016 split decision over Erkan Teper for the WBO European belt. In March 2019, he went the 10-round distance against Ortiz and has not been stopped since Fury forced him to retire on his stool after eight rounds in their February 2015 clash.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 115: Macho, Freddie and More

David A. Avila

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Camacho me and Mia

“Macho.”

That single word is how Hector Camacho presented himself when introduced. It was the only word needed for the three-division world champion from Puerto Rico who was raised in Harlem, New York.

The first time I met Camacho was in a dark and packed Las Vegas nightclub in the MGM where he was a guest of Oscar De La Hoya back in March 2001. Though it was difficult to see, when Camacho was introduced, I could see the large gold medallion with the word “Macho” in letters six inches high.

Showtime network will be presenting a documentary called “Macho: The Hector Camacho Story” on Friday, December 4 at 9 p.m. on Showtime. It sparks memories of how a fighter in the lower weight classes grabbed the attention of the boxing world.

Camacho was more than flash or words, he was an electrifying boxer who stood out in the 1980s, an era dominated by the “Four Kings” Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard. Oh, and also a guy named Mike Tyson.

The fast-talking Camacho was a phenomenal fighter who swept aside opponents with his blinding speed and shocking power. It was against Los Angeles-based fighters like Refugio Rojas and Louie Loy that I first read about his exploits. Both were knocked out.

A third Southern California fighter John “Huero” Montes was thought to be the one to give Camacho a real challenge. The fight was televised to a national audience in February 1983. At the time I was watching it on a tiny black and white television and at 1:13 into the first round Camacho unleashed one of those lethal uppercuts and Montes was out-for-the-count.

Camacho arrived that day.

From that point on few could withstand the speedy southpaw’s blinding charges. Six months later he stopped Mexico’s “Bazooka” Limon to win the vacant super featherweight title.

One fighter who heard the final bell was Freddie Roach who could take a punch and knew a thing or two about fighting southpaws.

“I liked fighting southpaws,” said Roach via telephone. “My dad taught me early to keep my foot on the outside and lead with right hands.”

Roach had never lost to a southpaw. The winner that day between Camacho and Roach in Sacramento, on December 1985, was supposedly going to fight Puerto Rico’s heavy-handed Edwin Rosario.

Using his surefire method of fighting southpaws, Roach managed a knockdown of Camacho with the help of his foot. But it was not enough.

“He was very difficult. Lot of people raved about how fast his speed was. You didn’t really realize until you got into the ring with him,” said Roach. “I wasn’t the slowest, but wasn’t the fastest. I just couldn’t keep up.”

Despite using roughhouse tactics against the lefty speedster, Roach said that Camacho invited him to dinner after the fight.

That pretty much explains Camacho, a talented and big-hearted guy.

Last Stages

The last time I ran into Camacho was at the Pechanga Resort and Casino when he and Mia St. John were about to fight on the same boxing card in 2009. He was much heavier but still able to defeat middleweights.

How good was Camacho?

He defeated two of the Four Kings when he beat Roberto Duran twice and stopped Sugar Ray Leonard by knockout when they fought in 1997. Yes, Leonard was 41 and had not fought in six years, but this was Sugar Ray Leonard.

“I didn’t think he would ever beat Leonard,” said Roach.

Neither did Leonard.

“I just felt that I was a bigger man. I was smarter, stronger, all those things, but the first time he threw a punch, it was like, Pow! And I said, ‘Wow, that hurt,’” said Leonard about their encounter. “I tried the best I could to just go the distance. When he was at his best, he was a thing of beauty.”

What I remember after Camacho beat Leonard was how sincerely apologetic he was after the victory. He could talk the talk and walk the walk but inside he remained the kid from Harlem who was given extraordinary talent. And he was humbled by it.

Roach remembers their dinner together after their fight.

“That night he took me out to dinner with his friends and said you fought a good fight,” said Roach adding that Camacho was a very likeable guy. “I saw him along the way in his career.”

Roach, who would later train another astoundingly fast southpaw named Manny Pacquiao, said he never fought anyone again as talented as Camacho.

“You hear rumors of drug problems and training problems. But when he fought me, he was in for 10 and I tried every trick in the book but it didn’t work. He was in a higher class than I was,” Roach said. “He was one of the best fighters in the world.”

Don’t miss this Showtime documentary next week.

Jacobs and Rosado

Speaking of Roach, the famous trainer will be working the corner of Gabe Rosado (25-12-1, 14 KOs) when he meets Daniel Jacobs (36-3, 30 KOs) on Friday, Nov. 27, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Florida. DAZN will stream the Matchroom Boxing card.

It’s Philly versus Brooklyn.

Rosado has long proven to be a real professional who keeps adding elements to his fight game. Paired with Roach he has further developed under the guidance of the Southern California-based trainer. Plus, Rosado can plain fight.

Jacobs, a former world champion, has proven to be an elite middleweight and looks just as comfortable as a super middleweight.

Expect the kind of prize fight they used to show in the Golden Age of boxing in the 1950s when you had guys like Johnny Saxton fighting Denny Moyer. It should be that kind of battle of wits and skill. I’m looking forward to it.

Photo: Hector Camacho, David Avila, and Mia St. John. Photo credit: Al Applerose

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