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Fast Results from the ‘Bubble’: Herring Retains His Title in a Messy Fight

Arne K. Lang

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Bob Arum’s Top Rank organization, which has done more than any other promotional group to keep boxing alive during these challenging times, was back at their summer home in the MGM Grand “Bubble” tonight with the 15th installment of their 2020 Summer Series. And for the third straight Saturday, the main event was a title fight. Risking his belt was WBO 130-pound title-holder Jamel Herring against Jonathan Oquendo.

An ex-Marine and former Olympian, Herring, 34, was making the second defense of the title he won from Masayuki Ito and when the smoke cleared, he retained his belt when his Puerto Rican adversary was disqualified after the bell ending the eighth round.

The first two rounds were marred by a lot of clinching, a portent of what would follow. Oquendo went down twice in the second round and again in the sixth for what referee Tony Weeks deemed to be slips. Herring knocked him down legitimately in the third with a clean uppercut but Oquendo wasn’t seriously hurt.

In round five, Herring suffered a cut over his right eye from a head butt that Weeks thought was intentional. He deducted a point from Oquendo.

When the blood started flowing more copiously in the eighth round, Herring packed it in. His vision was definitely compromised.

That led to a long conversation between Weeks and the Nevada Commission which determined that since the cut was intentional, the official verdict would be a win for Herring by disqualification. A DQ between rounds, needless to say, is highly unusual, but the bottom line is that Herring (22-2) retains his title and Oquendo (31-7) may well be called on the carpet at the next NSAC meeting.

Jamel Herring’s next title defense is expected to come against Carl Frampton.

Co-Feature

Omaha super middleweight Stephen Nelson, a stablemate of Terence Crawford, advanced to 17-0 (14) with a sixth-round stoppage of Toledo’s DeAndre Ware (13-3-2). Nelson overcame two bad cuts around his left eye, the first coming in round two and the second in round five, both the result of accidental head butts. There were no knockdowns, but Ware was rocked twice and was on unsteady legs when referee Jay Nady stopped it. The official time was 2:24.

Although DeAndre Ware lost tonight, he made many new friends during his Vegas stay with his actions at yesterday’s weigh-in when he came to the rescue of Pete Susens. The popular 63-year-old Susens, a long-time Top Rank employee who earned his spurs as a twenty-something gadabout on the Midwestern boxing circuit, suffered a heart attack and Ware, a Toledo firefighter, stepped in and performed chest compressions that may have saved his life.

The good news is that Susens was alert when he was transported to the hospital.

Other Bouts

Jared Anderson, the youngest, the busiest (and the best) of Top Rank’s young heavyweight prospects, scored his sixth knockout in as many tries with a fourth-round stoppage of Rodney Hernandez (13-10-2). Hernandez didn’t appear badly hurt when Anderson put him on the canvas with a left-right combination, but the fight had been one-sided to that point and there really was no point in continuing.

San Antonio mighty-mite Jesse Rodriguez demolished Puerto Rico’s Janiel Rivera, scoring three knockdowns before the bout was halted at the 2:03 mark of the opening round. The 20-year-old Rodriguez, the half-brother of new WBA 115-pound champion Joshua Franco, improved to 12-0 (8). It was the fifth straight loss for Rivera (18-7-3).

In what has to be considered an upset, 36-year-old San Antonio welterweight Benjamin Whitaker outworked previously unbeaten D’Andre Smith to win a six-round unanimous decision. Whitaker improved to 14-4 and evened his record at the MGM Bubble to 1-1. The scores were 59-55 and 60-54 twice.

Smith, who hails from Decatur, Georgia, lost for the first time in nine starts. All three judges for this fight were women which may have set a record.

Ruben Cervera, a 23-year-old Columbian super featherweight, blasted out New Orleans Rennard Oliver in the second round. A hard right hand did the trick and Cervera snuck in another before referee Russell Mora waived it off at the 1:42 mark. Cervera improved to 13-2 with his 11th knockout. Oliver fell to 7-3-3.

Fort Worth super featherweight Edward Vazquez overcame a knockdown in the second round to stay undefeated with a unanimous decision over LA’s Adam Ochoa. The judges favored Vazquez (8-0, 1 KO) by scores of 57-56 and 58-55 twice. Ochoa (11-2) entered the contest riding a nine-fight winning streak.

In the opener, 19-year-old Philadelphia featherweight Rashiem Jefferson Jr. improved to 2-0 with a four-round unanimous decision over LA’ Jose Martinez (2-2). The scores were 39-37 And 40-36 twice.

Jefferson Jr, a southpaw, is a second-generation boxer and appears to have a big upside. His father of the same name had a promising pro career aborted by an injury suffered in a motorcycle accident.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

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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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