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Avila Perspective. Chap. 107: El Flaco, the Charlo twins and More

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Avila Perspective. Chap. 107: El Flaco, the Charlo twins and More

LOS ANGELES-Middleweights and light middleweights reigned supreme last week.

Ukrainian super welterweight Serhii Bohachuk led the way with a convincing performance in Merida, Mexico last Friday where he defeated Alejandro Davila by technical knockout.

It rained throughout the fight and Bohachuk rained blows just as feverishly to score his 18th consecutive knockout in 18 pro fights.

Can anyone stop El Flaco?

The Ukrainian super welterweight who was nicknamed “El Flaco” because of his thin frame, used his superior boxing skills to out-battle determined Mexican fighter Davila and force that fighter’s corner to end the fight on a slippery canvas.

Though no knockdowns were scored it was a smart move by Davila’s Mexican trainers. He was getting battered.

“Alejandro Davila was a really tough fighter. He didn’t want to quit,” said Tom Loeffler head of 360 Promotions that promotes Bohachuk. “His trainers were arguing with him and he didn’t want to stop. But Serhii had hurt him a lot. It was a good decision on their part.”

Bohachuk, 25, a thinly framed and long-armed 154-pounder, combines tireless and precise punching mixed with experience gained in more than 100 amateur fights. Plus, he has an acute sense of vision and the ability to see incoming fire.

“My style is Mexican style,” said Bohachuk on Thursday at a press conference in Los Angeles. “That’s how I like to fight.”

This last fight was of particular concern because it was Bohachuk’s first with new trainer Manny Robles Jr. after years with Abel Sanchez.

Before Robles accepted the new fighter as a pupil, he reached out to the former trainer Sanchez. Both conversed about the situation and Robles said Sanchez gave him his blessing.

Moving from one trainer known for teaching an aggressive style of fighting to another who practices a slightly more defensive flavor can have consequences. One important factor is the fighter’s work habits.

“He’s disciplined. He has integrity,” said Robles when describing Bohachuk. “Style-wise we’re more about controlled aggression. And learning how to fight backwards.”

Robles said he’s learned that even the most aggressive punchers need to learn how to fight going in reverse. Though it didn’t occur in this last fight, Bohachuk was prepared.

So how good is Bohachuk?

It’s difficult to argue against 18 consecutive knockout wins. It’s not like he’s facing the Charlo brothers. But is he good enough to compete with fighters near that caliber?

Against Davila, who had only tasted defeat once before against Canada’s Mikael Zewski, the slender Ukrainian showed a patient approach against the ultra-aggressive Mexican fighter who attacked like a souped-up windmill.

It was a telling performance.

Bohachuk looked like a contender with his careful but determined movement. He seemed to be able to watch the incoming fire and adjust smoothly without panicking. Slowly he began busting blows at whatever openings he saw. He never over-punched and with the TKO, he triumphed in his first defense of his WBC Continental Americas super welterweight title.

Looks like Loeffler (pictured in the red shirt) has another champion on the rise.

Charlos

Speaking of champions, the brothers Jermell and Jermall Charlo shared a Showtime pay-per-view fight card last Saturday and both defended their world titles successfully.

For years I’ve witnessed the rise of the Charlo brothers from their appearances on Golden Boy cards to their current performances with Premier Boxing Champions. Though each has a world title, I did not think they were ready for the monsters of their divisions: guys like Gennady Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs or Saul Alvarez.

Well, now they are more than ready.

Jermell Charlo, the WBC super welterweight titlist, added the WBA and IBF titles to his waist with an impressive performance. Yes, he knocked out Jeison Rosario with a solar plexus punch, but more than that, he showed an intelligent approach in dissecting the dangerous Dominican fighter.

Both brothers have always shown athleticism and skill, but their ring IQ has risen dramatically and they are at the top of the peak now.

Jermall Charlo did exactly what I thought he would do and skillfully defeated a contender who had tested both Golovkin and Jacobs.

It’s on to better things for the Charlos brothers.

Saturday Night Fights

A fan-less Los Angeles fight card at Microsoft Theater features another set of twins in the brothers Barrientes. The Premier Boxing Champions fight card will be shown on Fox Sports 1 on Saturday, Oct. 3, at 5 p.m. PT.

The main event showcases welterweights Paul Kroll (7-0, 6 KOs) versus Lucas Santamaria (11-1-1) in a 10-round fight.

Kroll fights out of Philadelphia and that almost always means he’s a fighter. A real fighter and not a slapper and holder. He meets Orange County’s Santamaria who upset Mykal Fox a month ago. Both guys can fight inside and that means lots of action.

It should be a very good fight.

In the preliminaries Angel Barrientes (2-0) meets Fernando De Anda (2-3) in a six round super bantamweight match. And Chavez Barrientes (2-0) meets Ivan Varela (3-2) in a six round featherweight fight. The Barrientes’ hail from Las Vegas, Nevada and they are pretty tall for their weight class at 5’10 in height.

“Me and my brother train together every day. We really learn well off each other. We’ve been running up at Mt. Charleston to help us with beast level conditioning. I have remained fight-ready all of quarantine. We are ready and excited to get into the ring and show the world what we are all about,” said Chavez Barrientes.

Super Lightweights

A battle between super lightweight contenders highlights the Top Rank boxing card on Saturday night Oct. 3, in Las Vegas. ESPN+ will stream the fight card at 7:30 p.m. PT.

Jose “Chon” Zepeda (32-2, 25 KOs) meets Ivan Baranchyk (20-1, 13 KOs) at the MGM Grand Bubble for a vacant title and more importantly a place supposedly in the front of line for the super lightweight world title.

It’s been known that current WBC and WBO titlist Jose Carlos Ramirez will be facing IBF titlist Josh Taylor in a unification clash. He has already decided to move up in weight whether he wins or loses.

For the past two years Zepeda has claimed he beat Ramirez when they fought in February 2019. He will need total concentration against the Belarussian Baranchyk who promises a knockout of the Mexican fighter.

Baranchyk has only one loss and that was against Taylor in Scotland a year ago. It went the entire 12 rounds.

The card also features some solid prospects including undefeated Gabriel Flores a flashy combination puncher and Duke Ragan an amateur standout in separate fights.

Sunday Morning in England

Tall undefeated light heavyweights are the flavor of the day for a Sunday morning boxing card from Milton Keynes, England, a town located about 50 miles from London. DAZN will stream the Sunday event beginning at 11 a.m. Pacific Time.

Croatia’s Marko Calic (11-0, 6 KOs) stands three inches above six feet in height and for a 175-pounder that is extremely tall.

Ghanaian-born Joshua Buatsi (12-0, 10 KOs) is one inch shorter than Calic but hits harder. We shall see who wins the battle of the tall light heavyweights. Buatsi knocked out Mexico’s Marco Periban and that’s not an easy feat.

The co-main event pits Chantelle Cameron (12-0) versus Brazil’s Adriana Dos Santos (6-0) in a 10-round bout for the vacant WBC female super lightweight world title.

“It’s a short career so I don’t want to be wasting my time, especially with everything that has happened this year,” said Cameron, 29, who fights out of Northampton, England. “I’m 12-0 but I feel like I’ve been waiting a long time for this opportunity. I’m not looking past Adriana at all.”

Photo credit: Al Applerose

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel 

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Johnny Famechon was a Hero in Australia Where Willie Pep Had a Bad Night

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Willie Pep was good at boxing. He wasn’t so good at math. Ah, but hold the phone; we are getting ahead of ourselves. This isn’t a story about Willie Pep, but about former world featherweight champion Johnny Famechon who passed away last Thursday, Aug. 4, in Melbourne, Australia, at age 77.

Famechon was five years old when his parents left his birthplace in Paris and settled in Melbourne. He came to the fore in an era when boxing was still a mainstream sport and home-grown champions were national idols. The locals turned out in droves for the parade in Johnny’s honor when he returned to Melbourne after taking the featherweight crown from the Cuban-born Spaniard Jose Legra in a big upset at London’s Prince Albert Hall.

HeraldSun

Famechon’s Welcome Home Parade

Famechon’s first title defense came against Japan’s Fighting Harada. They met in Sydney, Australia, on July 28, 1969.

At age 26, Harada was a battle-tested veteran. He previously held world titles at flyweight and bantamweight and would be remembered as the only man to defeat the great Brazilian boxer Eder Jofre, a feat he accomplished not once, but twice.

Only two boxers in history – Bob Fitzsimmons and Henry Armstrong – had won world titles in three of the eight classic weight divisions. Harada, who entered the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1995, was bidding to become the third.

Team Harada insisted on a neutral referee. The British promoters chose Willie Pep. A legend in the sport, Pep had previously shared a ring with another Famechon, having out-pointed Johnny’s uncle Ray Famechon in a featherweight title defense at Madison Square Garden in 1950.

Some thought that Pep would favor Fighting Harada. American referees put a higher premium on aggression than did their foreign counterparts and Harada was a little buzzsaw who rarely took a backward step. But others thought that Pep’s selection favored Famechon, an elusive counterpuncher with whom the Connecticut “Will-‘o-Wisp” could identify; their styles were similar.

Pep had been the third man in the ring for four previous title fights, three in Jamaica and one in Brazil. But this fight would be different. He would be the sole arbiter. If the fight went the full 15 rounds, Willie Pep would be the judge and jury.

During the bout, Famechon scored one knockdown, sending Harada to the canvas in round five, but Harada scored three, knocking Famechon down in rounds two, 11, and 14. The last of the three knockdowns was the harshest, but Famechon made it to the final bell.

The fight ended in a clinch. Immediately upon separating the fighters, Pep raised both of their hands, a signal that the fight was a draw.

Fighting Harada’s handlers were outraged and demanded to see the scorecard. A policeman at ringside was empowered to give it a look-over (Australia had no boxing commission). What the policeman found was that there was indeed a discrepancy. However, it was the opposite of what Team Harada anticipated!

The fight was scored on the antiquated system whereby the winner of a round was awarded five points and the loser four points or less. In the case of an even round, both fighters got five points.

After 13 rounds, Fighting Harada had amassed 59 points on Pep’s card. He won the 14th round, giving him an aggregate total of 64 points. But when Pep added up the numbers “59” and “5” in the column where he kept the aggregate total, he came up with “65.”

Oops.

When Pep signaled that the fight was a draw, people stormed the ring from all sides. Newspaper reports said the belligerents were about evenly divided. Famechon, the Aussie, was the crowd favorite, but Fighting Harada was well-backed in the betting markets, a very big industry in Australia. Many were even angrier when Famechon was summoned back to the ring to have his hand raised.

The Famechon-Harada fight aired live on Japanese television. In Japan, there was a great outpouring of outrage. Pep had been instructed to score a round 5-4 if the round was narrow and 5-3 if there was a clear-cut winner. Despite the knockdowns, Pep scored every round 5-4 or 5-5. In the revised tally, he had Famechon winning 6-5-4 in rounds.

“Harada loses to referee” was the headline in Japan’s leading sports daily. Willie Pep made no friends in Australia either. There were shouts of “Yankee go home” as he left the ring.

Famechon and Harada met again five months later in Tokyo. One would assume that Fighting Harada proved superior and got a fair shake, winning the third title denied him in Sydney. But don’t assume.

Harada was well ahead after ten rounds but faded. On the deck in round 10, Famachon returned the favor three rounds later, knocking Harada down hard with a perfectly placed left hook. Harada was in dire straights when he came out for round 14 and Famechon put him away.

Harada never fought again and Famechon left the sport six months later after losing his crown to Vicente Saldivar. Johnny was only 25 years old, but had crammed 67 fights into a nine-year pro career and said enough is enough.

Famechon’s post-boxing life took a tragic turn in 1991 when he was hit by a car while out jogging on a Sydney highway. He spent several weeks in a coma and several years in a wheelchair but eventually recovered most of his motor skills and regained his speech to the point where he could serve as a boxing color commentator on television. In 2018, a larger-than- life statue of Famechon was unveiled at a public park in the Melbourne suburb of Frankston where he was a longtime resident.

For the record, Johnny Famechon finished his career with a record of 56-5-6 with 20 KOs. We here at The Sweet Science send our condolences to his loved ones.

Arne K. Lang’s latest book, titled “George Dixon, Terry McGovern and the Culture of Boxing in America, 1890-1910,” will shortly roll off the press. The book, published by McFarland, can be pre-ordered directly from the publisher (https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/clashof-the-little-giants) or via Amazon.

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Fast Results from Fort Worth Where Vergil Ortiz Jr Won His 19th Straight by KO

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In a match pushed back from March 19, Vergil Ortiz Jr moved one step closer to a mega-fight with Terence “Bud” Crawford or Errol Spence Jr or Boots Ennis with a ninth-round stoppage of England’s feather-fisted Michael McKinson. The end came 20 seconds into round nine when McKinson appeared to injure his knee as he fell to the canvas, an apparent residue of the body punch that put him on the deck late in the previous stanza. To that point, Ortiz had seemingly won every round.

It was the 19th win inside the distance in as many opportunities for Ortiz who resides in nearby Grand Prairie and was making his first start with new trainer Manny Robles. McKinson was undefeated heading in, but had scored only two knockouts while building his record to 22-0.

Ortiz, ranked #1 at welterweight by the WBA and the WBO, pulled out of the March 19 bout after being diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a muscle disorder associated with over-training.

Ortiz’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, says that Ortiz will fight the winner of Errol Spence vs Terence Crawford next assuming that the fight gets made, and if doesn’t get made, Ortiz’s next fight will be with one or the other. The WBA, which stamped tonight’s fight an eliminator, may push to have Ortiz fight their secondary title-holder, Eimantas Stanionis.

Co-Feature

Houston’s Marlen Esparza (13-1, 1 KO) successfully defended her WBA/WBC world flyweight title with a unanimous decision over plucky 4’11 ½” Venezuelan southpaw Eva Guzman who had won 14 straight coming in, albeit against soft opposition. The judges had it 98-92 and 99-91 twice.

Guzman (19-2-1) was game, but just didn’t have the physical tools to overcome Esparza whose lone defeat came at the hands of talented Seneisa Estrada.

Other Fights of Note

In a 10-round match contested at the catchweight of 150 pounds, Blair “The Flair” Cobbs rebounded from his first defeat with a career-best performance, a wide decision over former WBO 140-pound world titlist Maurice Hooker. It was the second straight loss for Hooker who returned to the ring after a 17-month hiatus and came out flat. Cobbs put him on the canvas in the opening frame with a combination and decked him twice more with straight lefts in round two.

Things got somewhat dicey for Cobbs in round five when he suffered a bad gash on his forehead from an accidental head butt, but Hooker, who had stablemate Bud Crawford in his corner, hesitated to let his hands go and couldn’t reverse the tide. The judges had it 96-91 and 97-90 twice for the flamboyant Cobbs who improved to 16-1-1 (10). Hooker, a consensus 5/2 favorite, lost for the third time in his last five starts and slumped to 27-3-3.

In the opener to the main portion of the DAZN card, Uzbekistan’s Bektimir Melikuziev (10-1, 8 KOs), a super middleweight growing into a light heavyweight, dominated and stopped overmatched Sladan Janjanin. Melikuziev put Janjanin down with a body punch in the opening minute of the fight and scored two more knockdowns before the bout was halted at the 2:18 mark of round three.

This was Melikuziev’s third fight back after his shocking one-punch annihilation by Gabriel Rosado. Janjanin, a well-traveled Bosnian who fought three weeks ago in Massachusetts, declined to 32-12 and was stopped for the eighth time.

Also

Chicago welterweight Alex Martin (18-4, 6 KOs) overcame a first-round knockdown to win a unanimous decision over 38-year-old Philadelphia journeyman Henry Lundy. The judges had it an unexpectedly wide 98-91, 97-92, 97-92.

Martin was coming off a points loss to McKinson and this bout was his reward for taking that fight on short notice. Lundy (31-11-1) has lost five of his last seven.

Floyd “Austin Kid” Schofield, a lightweight who appears to have a big upside, advanced to 11-0 (9 KOs) at the expense of Mexican trial horse Rodrigo Guerrero whose corner wisely pulled him out after five one-sided rounds. It was the ninth straight loss for Guerrero (26-15).

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Conlan Wins His Belfast Homecoming; Breezes Past Lackadaisical Marriaga

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“The Return of the Mick” was the label attached to tonight’s show at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The reference was to local fan favorite Michael “Mick” Conlan who returned to his hometown in hopes of jump-starting his career after suffering his first pro loss in a brutal encounter with Leigh Wood.

In that bout, a strong “Fight of the Year contender, Conlan was narrowly ahead on all three cards heading into the 12th and final round when the roof fell in. Wood, who was making the first defense of his WBA world featherweight title on his home turf in Nottingham, knocked the favored Conlan unconscious and clear out of the ring.

This was the sort of fight that can shorten a man’s career. Hence the intrigue in Conlan’s homecoming fight tonight against Miguel Marriaga. On paper, the Colombian, a three-time world title challenger, was a stern test considering the circumstances.

To the contrary, Marriaga had no fire in his belly until the final round when he hit Conlan with a shot that buckled his knees. But, by then Conlan was so far ahead without overly exerting himself that there was virtually no chance of another meltdown.

While Conlan won lopsidedly, the scores – 99-89 and 99-88 twice – were somewhat misleading. True, “Mick” had Marriaga on the deck in rounds 7, 8, and 9, but the punches that put him there did not look particularly hard.

Conlan, 30, improved to 17-1 (8). Marriaga, 35, declined to 30-6.

After the fight, Conlan expressed the hope that Leigh Wood would give him a rematch.

Other Bouts of Note

In an entertaining 10-round welterweight scrap that could have gone either way, Belfast’s Tyrone McKenna (23-3-1, 6 KOs) rebounded from his defeat in Dubai to Regis Prograis (TKO by 6) with a hard-fought unanimous decision over 33-year-old Welshman Chris Jenkins (23-6-3). The judges favored the local fighter by scores of 97-94 and 96-95 twice.

Jenkins, a former British and Commonwealth title-holder, had the best of the early going, working the body effectively while frequently finding a home for his uppercut, but he could not sustain his advantage.

Thirty-four-year-old Belfast super middleweight Padraig McCrory who got a late start in boxing, scored the most important win of his career with a fifth-round stoppage of Marco Antonio Periban, a former world title challenger. McCrory had Periban on the deck three times – once in the second and twice in the fifth – before the bout was halted at the 2:14 mark of round five.

It was the fourth straight win inside the distance for McCrory who improved to 14-0 (8 KOs). Mexico’s Periban, who returned to the sport in April after missing all of 2020 and 2021, fell to 26-6-1.

Highly-touted welterweight Paddy Donovan improved to 9-0 (6) with an 8-round unanimous decision over Yorkshireman Tom Hall (10-3). The referee scored every round for Donovan, an Irish Traveler trained by Tyson Fury’s bosom buddy Andy Lee, the former world middleweight title-holder.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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