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The Top Ten Strawweights of the Decade: 2010-2019

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The Top Ten Strawweights of the Decade: 2010-2019

The tragedy of this list, comprised of the best 105lb fighters from the past decade, is that numbers one and two share an era, a home country, a weight division, but due to promotional issues, will never meet. Modern boxing in a nutshell we see two fighters who represent the most natural sporting opposition imaginable for one another who don’t need each other, each milking an alphabet strap for their earnings.

Rant over: this list is also comprised of men who fought in some of the very best fights of the decade, against one another. The smallest division of all, the combat it produces is perennially underrated by fans and writers alike. Not by you though, perhaps, and certainly not by me.

One more time then: all rankings are by TBRB, except prior to their founding, all rankings between January of 2010 and October of 2012 are by Ring.

For those of you who have read this series from the first article to the last: I thank you.

10 – Katsunari Takayama

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 8-5 Ranked For: 60% of the decade

Katsunari Takayama seemed likely to place higher at the beginning of this process, but in reality, he lost most of the big fights in this 105lb decade. Often, they were worthy defeats against class operators but the disaster he suffered against Mateo Handig in October of 2012, for all that it was a close run, seemed to end his time at the top. Rather typically of boxing, Takayama came blasting back with the single best performance of his war-torn career, against the number one ranked Mario Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a man we will learn more about below, but it is enough to state here that he was the finest puncher of the strawweight decade, a puncher who was also armed with an iron jaw. For all his limitations, this was not a fighter Takayama would necessarily have expected to beat, or even meet after back-to-back losses against Handig and Nkosinathi Joyi, but that was the type of fighter Takayama was.

He was superb against Rodriguez, boxing as though he had won his last two fights, fighting hard when he needed to, boxing in a tight circle and prioritizing the jab after he was dropped in the third round by a savage Rodriguez hook. Never entirely out of danger, he nonetheless dominated exchanges with a buzzing straight-armed 1-2, swarming volume to body and head, varied movement, sometimes coming all the way out, sometimes tightening the circle, sometimes standing toe-to-toe and seeking to slip. It was a quality performance against a dangerous fighter on foreign soil.

There is so much to admire about Takayama. He was only in good or great fights, he had a strong jaw, he travelled, and he would fight anyone. All of that said, Takayama lost almost every single one of his significant fights at the poundage during the decade. Joyi beat him clean, Francisco Rodriguez Jr. received the decision in their wonder-match and although it could have gone either way, the decision was reasonable; Jose Argumedo, who defeated him on a technical decision in 2015 came close to taking his slot here.

In the end his victory over world’s number one Rodriguez is just enough, in combination with his being ranked for 60% of the decade and all those wonderful fights he gifted us, to grant him the low spot.

09 – Kazuto Ioka

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 22-2 Ranked For: 12% of the decade

My memory of Kazuto Ioka was false. I thought of him as a dominant 105lb fighter who would make a mark on the top ten with ease, perhaps even a candidate for a top five spot. A close look has seen him the first locked-in inclusion for the decadal top ten but nearer the #11 spot than #5.

In short, he has just a single win of real note and a single supplementary win that matters, the former over Akira Yaegashi in what appears on paper to be something of a generational contest. In fairness, the two men delivered, Ioka inflicting brutal punishment on the fearless Yaegashi who continued to fire back long after blindness must have overtaken corners of his vision. Grotesquely swollen he fought so hard as to make the contest razor-thin in scoring, so close as to make one wonder as to what those scorecards might have looked like had Yaegashi not been marked-up so badly. Such speculation is not helpful however, nor does it take into account the mercilessness and precision with which Ioka worked Yaegashi’s wounds, nor the indelible composure he wielded as his opponent’s face ballooned. The decision may have been narrow, but it is difficult to argue with.

Ten months earlier, he had scored a victory over Juan Hernandez Navarrete. Navarrete’s name is not one that echoes through eternity, but he scored a narrow, debatable win over Moises Fuentes, a fighter who would come to matter. That match is barely enough, in combination with his win over a pre-prime Yaegashi, to slip Ioka in ahead of Takayama.

08 – Mario Rodriguez

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 14-13-4 Ranked For: 22% of the decade

Mario Rodriguez had a disastrous decade, but his spell at 105lbs was not a part of that failure. Beaten from pillar to post at 108lbs, even by Pedro Guevara with whom he fought on even terms at 105lbs, where his paper record was a much more respectable 6-2-3. The losses, to Katsunari Takayama and Donnie Nietes (who did not remain in the division long enough to be considered for this list), hardly hurt him and the wins include some impressive supplementary names. The big win though, and the one that grabs him the number eight spot, is over preeminent minimumweight Nkosinathi Joyi, twenty-nine years old and in his absolute prime.

Joyi was coming off a career’s best win over Takayama when Rodriguez welcomed him to his native Mexico in September of 2012. A significant underdog, Rodriguez looked it early; slow, static in the feet, little dips of the head sparing him the absolute worst of Joyi’s attentions but in essence he seemed a knockout waiting to happen.

In the second, Rodriguez put his head on Joyi’s chest and began to throw some hard punches. Joyi outboxed him once more but Rodriguez had his blueprint in hand. Joyi continued to beat him brutally, especially to the body, but Rodriguez never threw the yolk. In the fifth, he found Joyi with punches and the referee incorrectly ruled a knockdown a slip. After dominating, Joyi had found trouble.

Mario’s secret was that he was the rarest of things: a 105lb puncher, a legitimate big hitter.  Armando Vazquez ditched in four, future 108lb Gilberto Keb Baas dusted in five, lesser fighters dispatched in less time. In essence, Rodriguez, never stopped aside from his muddled debut, was equal to Joyi’s punches and Joyi, the far more established fighter, could not live with Mario’s. In the seventh, Rodriguez popped Joyi on the chin with an uppercut, a left up around the ear, a similar scuffed right and Rodriguez had beaten Joyi and locked himself in to this list.

07 – Francisco Rodriguez Jr.

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 33-4-1 Ranked For: 6% of the decade

Francisco Rodriguez Junior was ranked at 105lbs for just a few short months between January of 2010 and the end of 2019, barely legible as far as this list is concerned. During those weeks, he did two things that mattered: defeated number six contender Merlito Sabillo by tenth round stoppage and won the fight of the decade, at any weight, against number two contender Katsunari Takayama.

Sabillo was first, in March of 2014 and although brave, he was outgunned, as much due to Francisco’s own granite chin as his withering body attack. He dropped and handled Sabillo, then worked him over into the tenth, when Sabillo’s corner did the right thing and pulled their man.

Rodriguez had summitted and the timing could hardly have been better. Four months later he stepped in with Takayama and the result was fire. There is no way that this fight can be described in several paragraphs here and I will not even try. If you have seen, you know.  If you have not, stop reading this and type Francisco Rodriguez Jnr. vs Katsunari Takayama into your search bar.

What Rodriguez shows is elite heart, elite chin, elite workrate and fine punching. Those attributes would remain when he departed 105lbs for 115lbs.  In truth, he was never a natural 105lb fighter and spread himself too thin to rank any higher here. Still, his 2014 was splendid and it is impossible to imagine this list without him.

06 – Byron Rojas

Peak Ranking: 2 Record for the Decade: 27-4-3 Ranked For: 47% of the decade

Byron Rojas is one of the bravest and most underestimated road warriors in all of boxing. In May of 2016 he travelled from his native Nicaragua to South Africa to face the superb Hekkie Budler in his own back yard. All heart and charge, Rojas put his head down and threw his gloves out, repeatedly, without cease, for the twelve rounds that followed. Budler, clearly perturbed, had a long night and despite doing the cleaner punching and being the only one of the two to engage in the rudiments of upper body movement, was clearly behind after six rounds.

Budler then made the sort of gorgeous adjustment that only an experienced champion can, moving, instead of away, in to Rojas, physically trying to push him back by hitting to the body. It made for a fascinating ninth round, clearly won by the South African. In the tenth, Rojas made his own adjustment, dropping his guard and throwing violent meathooks at Budler who suddenly wanted no part of the inside. Rojas twice hurt his man in that round and although the eleventh and twelfth were close, had clearly done enough. Budler tied the belt around Rojas’s waist himself.

Having defeated the third best strawweight of his generation, Rojas set sail, in his very next fight, to meet the best, Thammanoon Niyomtrong. Rojas lost that fight – narrowly – and a 2018 rematch more definitively. Being honest though, those losing efforts, on the road, probably enhance his standing here just a tiny bit. It is a difference-maker though. Rojas was ranked at 105lbs for nearly half the decade, true, and we see some of the gatekeeper types that appear often in discussing the men on this list – Julio Mendoza, Daniel Mendoza – but overall he probably doesn’t have the flat-out win resume for the spot. Still, as a man, he was that and more.

05 – Moises Fuentes

Peak Ranking: 3 Record for the Decade: 16-6-1 Ranked For: 18% of the decade

Moises Fuentes flirted with these lists at heavier poundage, but he was never going to break on through. At 105lbs, he has cracked the top five – can it be justified?

Two key fights barrel Fuentes into the upper echelons of this list and neither one is to be missed. In 2011, coming off a defeat and one more away from gatekeeper status, Fuentes stepped in with #3 contender and tough Raul Garcia. The two staged a war, exchanging knockdowns and violence throughout. Fuentes took a close decision in a fight that could have gone either way.

This positioned him beautifully for the fight that every minimumweight wanted against the descending Don of the 105lb division, Ivan Calderon. Calderon, fresh from his brutalization at the hands of Giovani Segura up at 108lbs, was returning to reclaim what at this point seemed his birth-right. Fuentes’s name went into the hat and was drawn; he was the alphabet champion destined to pass Calderon back his gold.

Except he wasn’t. Now, there is no dispute about this: Calderon was not what he was. I covered the fight at the time and wrote that “His legs seemed less and less able to carry him for twelve rounds. Something that had seemed easy in 2008 now had the appearance of being difficult for him… The creeping sense that his legs were beginning to betray him had come to fruition. There would be no Ali-like second career”. For all that this was true, Fuentes had begun his work, the work of a fighter, even as he ceded early rounds. Fuentes was chopping off the ring, measuring the speed, measuring his guns against Calderon’s defences.

In the fourth, he tracked Calderon down to a corner and began the steady and sad process of tearing him apart. Calderon crumbled in just five.

I took this personally at the time, describing it as “the saddest sight to see in fights, the metaphorical equivalent of watching a Ferrari Italia F458 being driven off a cliff” but watching it for this series I was in the main just impressed by Fuentes. Viewed remote from the incident it is hard not to be given Fuentes’s ruthless domination of a legitimate great at the poundage. He deserves his credit, and he gets it here, decadal top five at the poundage.

04 – Nkosinathi Joyi

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 9-5-1 Ranked For: 25% of the decade

Nkosinathi Joyi stormed out of the 00s and in to the 10s the world’s premier minimumweight and proved it in his very first fight of the decade against the excellent Raul Garcia, who he thrashed. In his next fight he matched Katsunari Takayama but a clash of heads caused the fight to be called off and a no contest rendered. The immediate rematch was Joyi’s finest performance.

He did as fine a job as has been done in tracking Takayama down, and Takayama did try hard to keep him at arm’s length. In the fourth Joyi just outwalked him and lashed him with southpaw left hands to the face; in the ninth, too much showboating saw Takayama caught in the corner and punished.  In between, Takayama had his occasional, surging moments but even in the rounds he lost, it felt that Joyi was not far away from retaining control.

A legitimate puncher, Joyi was consistently excellent at finding range and persisting in that range.  Expert balance and technical footwork capable of mining that balance for maximum returns meant that once he had found the range, he was expert in maintaining it. Combined with a vicious body attack, it can be readily understood why this combination should be so difficult for a fighter like Takayama.

All that skill though was not enough to hide a certain fragility which, as we have seen, cost him against Mario Rodriguez. Another loss, this one narrow and on the cards against Hekkie Budler, sent him scurrying for 108lbs where he was repeatedly beaten up and stopped. Returning to 105lbs, he was clearly outpointed in a confused performance against Simpiwe Konkco. It seemed all but over for him.

Then something wonderful and strange happened. Two weeks before the end of the decade, Joyi was fed to the number six contender, Filipino Joey Canoy, and in a wonderful return to form, Joyi batted him unmercifully for twelve rounds. The only version of this fight I could track down was a video taken in a South African front room of a television broadcasting the fight (I’d like to thank the gentleman in question, who can at one point be overheard on the telephone), but nevertheless, it can be seen that Joyi looks himself, for all that it was a slower version. Canoy was firmly outclassed, stuck on the end of the Joyi jab and battered throughout by beltline work, underlining Joyi’s status as the finest bodypuncher of the divisional decade.

This victory enhances his standing considerably. How could it not? Once again ranked in the divisional top ten by the TBRB, he is nowhere near as deadly nor as respected he was in 2010, but at thirty-seven years of age he’s holding on, and with a strap to defend, he may just make his mark once more in the third decade of his prestigious career.

03 – Hekkie Budler

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 18-4 Ranked For: 51% of the decade

Hekkie Budler, a legend in his native South Africa, boxes with a catch-as-catch-can style that I thoroughly enjoy. Against number nine contender Michael Landero, Budler attacked directly, invaded the pocket and out-fought him for a near shut out. Against number ten contender Chaozhong Xiong, Budler stopped well short of a shutout, losing the first and dropped heavily in the second, trapped on the end of a fulsome left hook at a perfect angle from his jaw. Seriously hurt, he was lucky to escape the round.

Budler’s skill is in adaptations though and he spent the rest of the fight controlling the distance.  Punishing Xiong for each transgression, he slowed the fight way down, taking the explosive start and making it something infinitely duller but easier to control. Xiong was reduced to launching forayed attacks from distance and sucking up what Budler had to give him in the meantime. By the fight’s end I was impressed but also nodding off.

Budler tended towards thrills though with a chin good enough to hold heavy shots and an engine good enough to run a busy fight plan against all-comers should he chose to do so. In “The Mega Fight” as it was billed in South Africa, Budler received a record payday to match fellow South African hero Nkosinathi Joyi and their fight was an excellent one. Guilty of shoe-shining early, Budler was behind in my card going into the second half of the fight but a grandstand finish saw him nip home by a smidge to win the most important fight of his career.

Losses to Gideon Buthelezi and Byron Rojas put the brakes on him just a little bit and it’s worth noting that Xiong is likely the second best win of his career, a rather unimpressive one; nevertheless, Budler was certainly in the running for the #2 spot.

02 – Wanheng Menayothin

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 42-0 Ranked For: 83% of the decade

Wanheng Menayothin, also known as Chayaphon Moonsri, ran across some unexpected and much deserved fame recently for overhauling Floyd Mayweather’s 50-0. Wanheng currently stands 54-0, undefeated but a different kind of undefeated; the kind that sees a fighter boxing to put food on the table in the literal, rather than that the figurative sense.

Wanheng is heralded and has been ranked for 83% of the decade; he is the most famous minimumweight since Calderon – and here he is, at #2 instead of #1. You are owed an explanation.  Here it is:

Wanheng hasn’t fought anyone that good. I don’t mean this in the sense the word is normally used, that he has dominated a weak era (he hasn’t, and it isn’t), I mean he hasn’t fought anyone that good.  The best fighter he has met may have been then number six contender Oswaldo Novo. Wanheng has done no business in the top five in the weight class he is said to have dominated. This means he hasn’t dominated it.

He crushed Novo, closing and battering him with an endless fuselage of punches that speaks of the hunger that continues to drive him at thirty-five. It is also true, though, that Novo has not won a single fight since he met Wanheng and included among the many losses he has endured is one to Saul Juarez. Juarez, then, is perhaps the best fighter Wanheng has beaten? He also met Wanheng in 2016 and Juarez, who I feel has been a little underrated, took Wanheng the distance.  It was a tough fight, but one clearly won by Wanheng although Juarez, too, has been living a loser’s nightmare since that contest.

And it is hard beyond that to dig up contenders for a number one foe for Wanheng. Florante Condes has a certain doughy appeal, Pedro Taduran has looked decent since his loss to Wanheng, but beyond that, Wanheng’s 54-0 is comprised mostly of men any competent fighter would be expected to beat.

Wanheng is certainly that. He is disciplined, strong, brings good pressure and is armed with a very decent range of punches. The first real test of his career, should he have one, still lies ahead of him, and that means #2 is the absolute roof for him.

01 – Thammanoon Niyomtrong

Peak Ranking: 1 Record for the Decade: 20-0 Ranked For: 52% of the decade

Thammanoon Niyomtrong, also known as Knockout CP Freshmart (don’t ask) is unassailable in his position as the highest rated strawweight of the decade. It is not close; it is not debatable, there is no argument. The Thai (pictured) is the most accomplished 105lb fighter of the decade.

When he was but 12-0 he matched Carlos Buitrago, a fighter, for me, who is more dangerous than anyone Wanheng Menayothin has met in his celebrated fifty-four fights. It was also, for my money, the closest the undefeated Niyomtrong has come to defeat. The bones of his style were already firmly established; careful swarming, accompanied by very hard punches in ones, twos and threes in a clear adoption of drills, but also an opportunist’s eye for a winging punch. Moving across him is foolish and moving into him dangerous. At 12-0 though, he was inexperienced at pacing himself and had yet to complete the twelve-round distance. After thoroughly dominating the first half of the fight he suffered a dramatic fade late, missing often, holding intermittently. He scraped home by a single round on all three official cards (and mine).

Niyomtrong had escaped, barely, in a tough, difficult fight against the number six contender. The man he is: he rematched Buitrago eighteen months later and thrashed him. On my card, he lost only two rounds, stamina and economy worthy additions to his fighting arsenal. Noteworthy also is that between these two fights, Niyomtrong found time to meet with another undefeated ranked fighter, Alexis Diaz. Diaz, arguably as dangerous as anyone Wanheng met, deployed a hurtful beltline attack in the first which Niyomtrong lost, something that is not unusual for him. In the second though, he began launching his unusual array of one-twos, a fascinating collection of punches which take a standard pressure-stalk and render it something more thoughtful and difficult; Diaz was cracked in the fourth but was essentially tortured throughout the second and third.

I would argue that in these short months Niyomtrong had already overhauled Wanheng’s 105lb career, or the acute end of it anyway. Post Buitrago, though, Niyomtrong stepped into a new class.  His foil for the second phase of the decade would be Byron Rojas, Rojas at his best, straight off his victory over Hekkie Budler. Rojas was brutal with Niyomtrong, fouling him with his shoulders, pushing at Niyomtrong’s cut eye with the top of his head, butting him. A liberal referee allowed Rojas to continue with his fierce work throughout the second half of the fight uninterrupted, but Niyomtrong was not so kind. All the while he was dolling out hurtful punches, including a peach of a lead left uppercut. The fight was close, but Niyomotrong was a narrow winner.  Narrow, as we have seen, is not good enough for this fighter, so he once again provided a rematch for a fighter who had troubled him and once again beat him more widely on the second occasion.

Xiong Zhao Zhong played the part of Diaz during this second phase, another fight Niyomtrong, still just thirty, won widely.

Niyomtrong has outstripped his countryman Wanheng on every metric I use to measure fighters bar the number of fights he has had and the number of fights he has won, but the clear gulf in quality of opposition bested makes him the clear choice. He is also the final divisional number one we will encounter – with just the decadal pound-for-pound list to be revealed.

The other lists:

Heavyweight

Cruiserweight

Light-Heavyweight

Super-Middleweight

Middleweight

Light-Middleweight

Welterweight

Light-Welterweight

Lightweight

Super-Featherweight

Featherweight

Super-Bantamweight

Bantamweight

Super-Flyweight

Flyweight

Light-Flyweight

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In a Shocker, Ryan Garcia Confounds the Experts and Upsets Devin Haney

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Its good to be crazy. Like a fox.

Ryan “KingRy” Garcia knocked down WBC super lightweight titlist Devin Haney three times to remind everyone of his fighting abilities in winning by majority decision on Saturday.

“I just knew what I could do,” Garcia said.

Fans will not forget the lanky kid from Victorville, California now.

Garcia (25-1, 20 KOs) fooled everyone in playing crazy weeks before the fight, then showed shocking power to hand Haney (30-1, 15 KOs) his first loss as a professional at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Haney’s WBC super lightweight title was not at stake for Garcia because he weighed three pounds over the limit.

After Garcia seemingly acting out of control on social media, Haney’s guard must have slipped in the first round during the first few seconds as Garcia connected with that hellish left hook and Haney, with a look of shock in his eyes, almost went down. He barely survived the first round.

“He caught me with it,” said Haney.

During the next few rounds, Haney proceeded to advance toward Garcia seemingly fully aware of the lethal left hook. He used feints and rights to score with a busier approach as Garcia seemed cocked and ready to counter with a left hook.

In the fourth round it seemed Haney was confident he had regained control of the fight, but every time he opened up with more than a two-punch combination Garcia reminded him whose hands were faster and more dangerous.

Though Garcia seldom jabbed he seemed bent on looking for the right moment to unleash his deadly left hook. And every time the Southern California fighter opened up with a combination he scored and Haney dare not exchange.

A few times Haney smiled as if signifying he escaped.

In the seventh round Haney looked to punish Garcia’s body and instead was met with a three-punch combination included a left hook to the chin and down went Haney slumped on the ground. He managed to beat the count and as soon as Garcia came within reach Haney wrapped his arms around him with a python grip. Despite the warnings by referee Harvey Dock, the fallen fighter would not release and Garcia impatiently fired a weak punch during the break. The referee deducted a point from Garcia though he could have deducted a point from Haney for not obeying his instructions to release his hold. Haney actually went down three times in the round but only one was counted by the referee.

From that point on Haney was very cautious but still looking to win by decision.

Though Garcia kept using a shoulder-roll defense that left his body exposed, he would retaliate with three and four punch combinations that usually Haney could defend against other fighters.. But Garcia’s blazing combinations were too fast to defend.

In the 10th round Haney looked to attack and was countered by Garcia’s right and a blinding left hook to the chin and another two blows that sent the former undisputed lightweight champion to the floor again.

It didn’t look good for Haney to survive.

Garcia walked into the 11th round still composed and never out-of-control He dared Haney to exchange and when within striking distance Garcia unleashed another lightning combination and down went Haney again with a defeated look.

Both fighters had fought each other as amateurs six times so there were no surprises between them. But Garcia’s power and speed were superior and that was the difference in a professional fight.

In the final round both were cautious with Garcia’s combination punching proving too dangerous for Haney to open up. Garcia celebrated early as the round ended confident of victory.

After 12 rounds Garcia was seen the victor by majority decision 112-112, 114-110, 115-109.

“You really thought I was crazy,” Garcia told the interviewer and the crowd. “You guys hated on me.”

Other Bouts

Arnold Barboza (30-0) won a curious split decision victory over United Kingdom’s Sean McComb (18-2) in a 10-round super lightweight fight. McComb’s long reach and busy southpaw style gave Barboza trouble. But he managed to win the fight though the crowd was not pleased.

Bektemir Melikuziev (14-1, 10 KOs) defeated France’s Pierre Dibombe (22-1-1) by technical decision after eight rounds due to a cut on his eye from an accidental head butt. It was a very competitive super middleweight fight.

Costa Rica’s David Jimenez (16-1, 11 KOs) outworked John “Scrappy Ramirez (13-1, 9 KOs) in a 12-round scrap to upset the Los Angeles based fighter. After a few close rounds Jimenez simply bullied his way inside and forced Ramirez against the ropes and unloaded his guns.

After 12 rounds two judges saw it 117-111 and 116-114 all for Jimenez.

“I’m a hard-working man from Cartago I come from nothing,” said Jimenez. “My corner told me I had to work inside.”

Charles Conwell (19-0, 14 KOs) stepped on the gas early with vicious body shots and uppercuts and blasted through the resilient Nathaniel Gallimore (22-8-1, 17 KOs) for several rounds. After a brutal fifth and sixth round the referee halted the one-side beating in favor of Conwell who was fighting for the first time under the Golden Boy banner.

Another winner was Sergiy Derevyanchenko (15-5) by decision over Vaughn Alexander (18-11-1) in a super middleweight match.

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Haney and Garcia: Bipolar Opposites

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Haney and Garcia: Bipolar Opposites

One young man flew halfway around the world to take on a world champion in his own living room; not once, but twice. The other young man quit prior to one fight, and then again during another one.

The first guy mentioned is an obedient son of an ultra-streetwise father.  The type of parent where, if he doesn’t know the answer (and more times than not he most likely does), he will know where to find it. The second guy doesn’t appear to have that quality guidance scenario going on for him, which is probably for the best, because he believes he has all the answers.

The first guy is on record as saying he wants to go down in boxing history as an all-time great.  The other guy?  He decided not to continue in a fight while he was still sporting an undefeated record.  You may think to yourself if there was ever a time to soldier through, right?

Then yesterday, that same guy missed making weight by 3.2 pounds, and seemed to be more than fine with it, to the point where he actually appeared to be quite pleased with himself.

If you haven’t heard, Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia are going to share a boxing ring in a twelve round go for God knows what will be at stake by the time they actually punch off.  The fact that no one from Garcia’s team has stepped in and rescued him from these unfolding events, his own personal well-being, and/or not to mention Devin Haney is, well, troubling in and of itself.

Back in the amateur days, the record shows they split six fights.  They were boys back then, so it means zero.  If anything, you’d want to be the older of the two, and Ryan had over a three-month age advantage.  If you’ve only been on the planet for a total of 120 months or so, every extra month could be a big enough difference in strength and development. Now as world class professionals in their prime?  That’s different.  Younger is always better.  Devin is that guy.

Haney and Garcia fought six times for free but will fight only once as professionals.  Then one of them will continue with their march for historic greatness, while the other will head back to Kamp Krazy, where he’s the current Mayor.

It’s never smart to lay 8-1, 9-1 in boxing.  And if you see taking Garcia as a value bet with +500 to +600 and beyond, you don’t understand value and you evidently don’t like money.

There is, however, a wagering opportunity here.

Total Rounds:  Fight doesn’t go 10.5 rounds.

Take anything over +125.  It’s worth a unit on a scale of 5.  Logically, there are a lot of ways to cash this ticket: legitimate victory, meltdown, catching lightning in a bottle, etc.  Or simply the exiting stage left of a guy who may be already plotting his next career move.

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In a Massive Upset, Dakota Linger TKOs Kurt Scoby on a Friday Night in Atlanta

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Although it was an 8-rounder on a show with two “tens,” Kurt Scoby’s match with Dakota Linger was accorded main event status on tonight’s card at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta. This had everything to do with Scoby (pronounced Scooby), a former record-setting college running back who was considered one of the brightest prospects in the 140-pound weight class. “[Scoby] works harder than almost anyone I’ve ever seen,” said veteran New York promoter Lou DIBella in a conversation with Keith Idec. “But he’s literally getting better after every fight and he’s got the hammer of Thor, man. He can punch through walls.”

The Duarte, California product who has relocated to Brooklyn and trains at Gleason’s Gym, was undefeated (13-0) heading in and was expected to make Linger his ninth straight knockout victim. But Linger, a 29-year-old Buckhannon, West Virginia policemen whose first ring engagements were in Toughman competitions, wasn’t intimidated by Scoby’s press clippings or by Scoby’s bodybuilder physique.

Linger, who improved to 14-6-3 with his tenth win inside the distance, took the fight right to Scoby and repeatedly found a home for his overhand right. In the sixth round, after Linger strafed the ever-retreating Scoby with a barrage of punches, referee Malik Walid determined that he had seen enough and waived it off. The decision seemed a tad premature, but neither Scoby nor his cornermen offered anything in the way of a protest.

Tournament results

In the first installment of an 8-man super welterweight tournament, Brandon Adams returned to boxing after his second three-year layoff and showed no ring rust whatsoever. Adams, a 34-year-old family-man who grew up in the Watts district of LA, dismissed Ismael Villareal with a wicked punch to the liver in the waning seconds of round three. The official time was 2:59.

A former wold title challenger, Adams who improved to 23-3 (16 KOs), has become the king of boxing tournaments. He first attracted notice in 2018 when he won the fifth edition of “The Contender” series, scoring a wide 10-round decision over Shane Mosley Jr in the championship round.

Villareal, a second-generation prizefighter from the Bronx whose dad fought the likes of Hector Camacho, declined to 13-3.

Adams next opponent will be Francisco Veron who will bring a record of 14-0-1 (10).

In an energetic 10-rounder, Veron, a Florida-based Argentine with a strong amateur pedigree, scored a unanimous decision over Mexico-born, LA southpaw Angel Ruiz (18-3-1). The judges had it 100-90, 99-91, and 96-94.

Ruiz certainly had his moments, but Veron launched and landed many more punches despite fighting the last six rounds with a damaged eye.

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