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Carbajal vs ‘Chiquita’ Gonzalez was Magical. Can Estrada vs Roman Gonzalez Measure Up?

Bernard Fernandez

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On this day twenty-eight years ago, mighty-mites Michael Carbajal and Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez engaged in a fight for the ages at the Las Vegas Hilton. It was the opening chapter of a trilogy. Oddly, tonight’s eagerly-anticipated rematch between mighty-mites Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez is bubbling forth on the same day in the same month. This struck us as the perfect time to re-visit Bernard Fernandez’s look-back at that stupendous battle in 1993. His story ran in these pages on March 12, 2018 under the title, “25 Years Ago, Carbajal-Gonzalez I Made Ounce-for-Ounce Magic.” Here it is, a TSS CLASSIC…

Pound-for-pound? How about ounce-for-ounce? On March 13, 1993, two exceptionally talented and courageous light flyweights, Michael “Little Hands of Stone” Carbajal and Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez – with a combined weight of 214½ pounds, or a quarter-pound less than WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder came in at for his most recent defense against Luis Ortiz – demonstrated that a really big fight need not require the participation of even moderately large men.

In adding Gonzalez’s WBC 108-pound title to the IBF strap he already possessed, Carbajal roared back from knockdowns in the second (not exactly flash, but close) and fifth (he was legitimately buzzed) rounds to drop the even tinier (5-foot-1 to the winner’s 5-6) Mexican standout with a textbook-perfect left hook in the seventh round in the Showtime-televised bout at the Las Vegas Hilton. Chiquita, who was leading by four points on all three official scorecards at the time, collapsed onto his right shoulder before rolling over onto his back, where he was counted out by referee Mills Lane. The elapsed time was 2 minutes, 59 seconds.

“I knew that if I knocked him down he wouldn’t get back up,” a jubilant Carbajal told Showtime commentator Al Bernstein minutes after he had struck the decisive blow. “The way he went down, I knew he wasn’t going to get up.”

Carbajal’s confidence, if indeed he was as sure of the eventual outcome as he professed, was not universally shared. Although Gonzalez suffered a nasty cut above his left eye in the third round, a gash that would continue to worsen with each succeeding round, the switch-hitting whirlwind – ostensibly an orthodox fighter, he switched to and from a southpaw stance early and often – succeeded at taking the fight right to Carbajal, where he frequently got the better of the furious inside exchanges. Had Gonzalez not been stopped at some point because of the severity of the cut, he might have put himself beyond reach of a Carbajal victory on points had he just continued to do what he had been doing from the opening bell.

“One of the main differences here is simple: Carbajal is not hurting Gonzalez with his big power punches,” Bernstein noted as the seventh round began. “Gonzalez is hurting him.” But Chiquita, who had been advised by his trainer, Justo Sanchez, before the fateful seventh stanza that Carbajal was “very tired” and primed to be taken out, soon was reintroduced to an immutable truth of boxing: some fighters, like wild animals, are most dangerous when their back is against the wall. Michael Carbajal, like Matthew Saad Muhammad, Arturo Gatti and any number of others who consistently found a way to escape the danger zone as often as they found themselves in it, proved that night that he was a card-carrying member of the club.

It wasn’t very long after hostilities commenced that the seemingly reasonable fight plan laid out by Carbajal’s older brother and trainer, Danny – lots of movement and extensive use of the jab – was scrapped, the result of Gonzalez’s incessant pressure, effective and borderline illegal body attack (he twice was warned by Lane for low blows) and, truth be told, Michael’s own determination to stand and trade.

“They don’t want Carbajal on the inside all the time with Gonzalez … I don’t care how many times they tell Carbajal to jab in this fight, I don’t know that he’s going to do it,” Bernstein opined. “I think he wants to slug it out with Gonzalez, and I think he’s going to do it no matter what.”

Not that punch statistics are the most accurate gauge of any fight’s ebb and flow, but CompuBox statistics substantiated what everyone in the arena and in the Showtime viewing audience already knew. This opening act of a soon-to-be-legendary trilogy was an instant classic, one for the record books and memory banks, with Gonzalez landing 206 of 456 for an exceptionally high 45 percent accuracy rate while Carbajal connecting on 167 of 326, an even higher 51 percent. Had Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa gone at it with comparable physical dimensions, this would have been the result.

Not surprisingly, The Ring named Carbajal-Gonzalez as its 1993 Fight of the Year. The epic clash might have won the magazine’s triple crown, had it also garnered nods as Knockout of the Year and the sensational fifth as Round of the Year. Those designations, respectively, instead went to Gerald McClellan’s fifth-round stoppage of Julian Jackson and the second round of the Terry Norris-Troy Waters fight. But the repercussions of Carbajal-Gonzalez I would be felt for years to come, on several levels.

Perhaps most notably and most fittingly, Carbajal (who posted a 49-4 career record that included 33 knockouts) and Gonzalez (42-3, 31 KOs), who won the succeeding segments of their rivalry on split and majority decisions, each were inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on June 5, 2006. Theirs was a three-act passion play that was a replication in miniature of Johansson-Patterson, Ali-Frazier, Bowe-Holyfield and Gatti-Ward, and it offered conclusive proof that jockey-sized fighters could cut it at the box office in the United States, a vast, mostly unexplored frontier that previously had not been welcoming to them. Carbajal-Gonzalez II became the first fight in which men their size earned seven-figure purses, and the fact it happened on American soil (on Feb. 19, 1994, in Inglewood, Calif.) made the achievement all the more significant.

But the milestones they achieved, separately and in tandem, owed in no small part to another little guy, former WBA bantamweight champ Richie Sandoval, being insistent that his boss, Top Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum, take a flier on Carbajal, the Phoenix, Ariz., resident who was a silver medalist for the U.S. at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Despite his status as an Olympic medalist (Carbajal should have come home with a gold, failing to do so only because of a scandalously unfair decision that went to Bulgaria’s Ivalio Hristov in the final), no major U.S. promoter viewed Carbajal as a potential valuable addition to his stable. The old adage that good things come in small packages might refer to rings, but not the kind that are roped off and occupied by two fighters and a referee.

“When Richie Sandoval brought Michael to my office, I thought he was out of his mind,” Arum said in May 2006 prior to Carbajal’s induction into the IBHOF. “I had seen Michael in the Olympics, but he was, like, 106 pounds. What the hell were we going to do with someone that little? But there was something about Michael that intrigued Richie, and he pleaded for me to take Michael on.

“The more I listened to Richie make his case, the more I came around. Finally, I said, `I don’t know if we can make this work, but what the heck, I’m going to give it a try.’”

It was a leap not only of faith, but of hope and charity. American fight fans have always been infatuated with heavyweights, and their enthusiasm for any division south of lightweight has tended to drop off precipitously. Carbajal could fight all right, but, physically, he was what he was. There was no way he could eat, stretch or contort himself into something bigger, if not necessarily better.

“The first fight we put him into was a four-rounder, in Atlantic City, against this kid, Will Grigsby, who went on to win a world championship and probably was the second-best 108-pounder in the United States,” Arum recalled. “Some matchmaking, huh? But we didn’t know what to do with a 108-pound fighter. We had never handled anyone that small before.

“But gradually we worked our way into it. I remember one night in Phoenix when (heavyweight) Tommy Morrison was on the card with Carbajal. This casino executive, who shall remain forever nameless, came to the fight to check out Morrison. He was sitting right near me and he said, when they introduced the Carbajal fight, `You ought to be ashamed of yourself, promoting midgets.’ I’ll never forget that.”

Arum was right; it was difficult finding quality opponents for American fighters Carbajal’s size. But, as Arum noted 13 years ago, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way. There are a lot of great Thai fighters, Filipino fighters, Japanese fighters and Mexican fighters at 108 pounds. We found them. And, of course, Chiquita came later.”

Perhaps, because of the Michael Carbajal experiment that paid major dividends, Top Rank has continued to plumb the lower weight classes, from which it imported such precious gems of more recent vintage as Manny Pacquiao and Vasiliy Lomachenko. Many credible pound-for-pound lists nowadays include super flyweight titlists Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (WBC) and Naoya Inoue (WBO), with Thailand’s Sor Rungvisai establishing himself with U.S. audiences on the basis of his two victories over Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and another over Juan Francisco Estrada.

Given the trend that he helped create, you’d think that Carbajal, now 50, would be basking in the glow of his status as a Hall of Fame pioneer. But not every mostly happy story has a feel-good ending, and the “Little Hands of Stone” story serves as a cautionary tale of what can happen when a fighter places too much trust in the wrong person.

Most of the $7 million Carbajal earned during his professional career is gone, siphoned by the very man he so often credited with facilitating his success. Older brother Danny Carbajal was released from an Arizona prison in August 2011 after serving 3½ years for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement and property accounts from his estranged (and then murdered) wife, Sally. Although there was insufficient evidence to convict him of the 2005 murders of Sally and her then-boyfriend Gerry Best, Danny’s greed led him not only to rip off Michael for millions, but to order the eviction of their mother from a house whose deed was in Danny’s name.

“He fooled me more than anybody,” Michael said of the love and trust he once unwaveringly gave to a brother who proved undeserving of such devotion.

But nothing and no one can take away Michael Carbajal’s legacy, or the doors he helped open for little fighters with big talent, or the night when he went to hell and back with Chiquita Gonzalez and had the satisfaction of having his hand raised.

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Top 12 New England Boxing Ratings as of July 2021

Jeffrey Freeman

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For the sake of these regionalized rankings, the New England region officially consists of Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. And I know I don’t have to remind TSS readers that the glory days of Willie Pep and world title fights at the old Boston Garden are over.

It’s now 2021.

New England boxing boasts only one current world champion to crow about and no top contenders to get too excited about. The championship run of New Haven’s Chad Dawson and the championship aspirations of Worcester’s Edwin Rodriquez are presently a thing of the past.

What we have here now are mostly youngish prospects and a few potential contenders with a mix of would-be Micky Ward types scattered throughout. What follows are the twelve best and most accomplished New England boxers in all weight classes from the above mentioned states.

Top 12 New England Ratings:

1. Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade, Providence, Rhode Island: The current WBO middleweight champion was recently made to look like a fool after crashing a Canelo Alvarez post-fight presser to declare his fandom and be accused of fighting “no body man” by a smirking Alvarez.

The 33-year-old Andrade is 30-0 (18) and desperate for a payday! Since winning the vacant WBO 160- pound strap in 2018 at the Boston Garden with a boring decision over Walter Kautondokwa, Andrade has beaten four B-level boxers, stopping only one of them with some help from the referee. Eddie Hearn is a good promoter but even he can’t make us like Boo-Boo.

2. Rashidi Ellis, Lynn Massachusetts: The speedy younger brother of Akeem, “Speedy” Rashidi is 23-0 (14) at welterweight and is rated #23 at 147 by BoxRec. Ellis, 28, went pro in Boston in 2013 and fought there three more times before taking his act on the road, fighting frequently in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Ellis has not fought since a 12-round unanimous decision over undefeated Alexis Rocha in 2020. The win earned Speedy Rashidi a minor title.

Promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy, Ellis’ win over Rocha came as a surprise as Rocha was an undefeated GBP prospect beaten by Ellis in his own California backyard.

3. Mark DeLuca, Whitman, Massachusetts: At 33, the “Bazooka” is the most battle-hardened fighter on this list at 27-2 with 15 knockouts. DeLuca avenged the first loss of his career, decisioning Walter Wright at the Boston Garden in 2018. In 2020, he travelled to Sheffield, U.K. for a Matchroom match-up with Kell Brook. DeLuca was knocked out in 7 one-sided rounds.

Despite the setback, DeLuca stayed active in 2020 with two wins late in the year. DeLuca went to Tijuana last February to pick up a win and he’s scheduled to face Charles Conwell in Cleveland next month. Conwell, 15-0 with 11 knockouts, fatally defeated Patrick Day in 2019.

4. Ronald Ellis, Lynn, Massachusetts: AKA Akeem, this 31-year-old super middleweight has been a professional since 2011. In that ten year period, Ellis battled his way up to big fight opportunities, winning some, losing some—and drawing in others. Ellis dropped a Showtime televised decision to DeAndre Ware in 2019 before rebounding that same year to decision Immanuwel Aleem in Brooklyn, NY. Ellis will fight anywhere and he always comes to win.

In 2020, Ellis got a win over veteran Matt Korobov when the Russian broke his ankle and was unable to continue in the bout at Mohegan Sun Casino in CT. Ellis was then stopped last March in 11 rounds by David Benavidez at the same venue. Ellis is now 18-2-2 with 12 knockouts.

The Ellis brothers’ younger sister Rashida is boxing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for Team USA at 60 kg. With a 45-16 record in 61 bouts, the 26-year-old is determined to win a Gold medal.

5. “Marvelous” Mykquan Williams, Hartford, Connecticut: This 23-year-old welterweight is signed to DiBella Entertainment and is managed by Jackie Kallen. At 16-0-1 with 7 knockouts, Williams broke his pandemic-induced inactivity last January at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut with a 10-round unanimous decision over undefeated (15-0) Yeis Gabriel Solano on Showtime.

In his final bout of 2019, before missing all of 2020, Williams was held to an 8-round draw in Brooklyn by a southpaw spoiler named Tre’Sean Wiggins. A recent automobile accident resulted in a broken wrist, thus “Marvelous” Mykquan will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

6. Toka Kahn Clary, Providence, Rhode Island: Once a highly touted local prospect, the professional reality of Toka Khan, 29, is clear. At 28-3, this southpaw featherweight has been knocked out by a nobody and beaten by decision twice when he stepped up to world level.

In 2020, Khan was beaten by Shakur Stevenson in Las Vegas, losing every round on all cards. In 2018, he was outclassed at the Boston Garden by British world title challenger Kid Galahad.

7. Kendrick Ball Jr., Worcester, Massachusetts: The now 28-year-old super middleweight mostly flew under the radar while fighting for Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment and Sports (CES) on Mr. B’s Twin River, Rhode Island undercards. After a win here, a draw there, and a loss there later, the tall Ball (6’ 2”) won twice in 2020 (and in 2019) before decisioning veteran Bryan Vera last April in Derry, New Hampshire on a Granite Chin promoted show.

Ball, 16-1-2 (11) is scheduled to main event the CES card scheduled for August 7 in Springfield, Massachusetts at the recently reopened MGM casino venue in the western part of the state.

8. Greg Vendetti, Stoneham, Massachusetts: The Murphys Boxing promoted “Villain” Vendetti (now 31) is a come-forward fighter who earned his chops on the local scene before stepping up and into the international fray with mixed results. A 2018 win over Yoshihiro Kamegai in California was followed by a devastating second-round knockout loss to Michel Soro in France.

Vendetti regrouped with a pair of local decision wins in 2019 before going back to California for a 2020 shot at Erislandy Lara’s two junior middleweight titles. Vendetti, now 22-4-1 (12), dropped a wide 12-round unanimous decision to the very defensively oriented Cuban freedom fighter.

9. Cassius Chaney, New London, Connecticut: This 34-year-old super-sized heavyweight got a late start in boxing in 2015 after relocating from Baltimore to Connecticut and switching sports. At six foot six, Chaney played basketball in college. In boxing, Chaney is undefeated at 20-0 with 14 KOs and he is Greg Page huge! His afro is even bigger. According to his bio on the Main Events website, Chaney boasts an 85-inch reach and was named after Cassius Clay. With a degree in sports management, he’s a stinker and a thinker! Still, despite being named after the GOAT, this Cassius is still in 8-rounders and hasn’t fought anyone expected to challenge him.

Chaney won four times in 2019, twice in 2020 and he is scheduled to fight on the Rivera Promotions show (New England’s Future VII) on August 14 at the Worcester Palladium.

worcester

10. Richard “Popeye” Rivera, Hartford, Connecticut: The most charismatic fighter on this list, Rivera is a free-swinging cruiserweight who gladly plays the part of Popeye The Sailor Man, bringing a pipe to the ring and singing the trademarked “Toot Toot” jingle. After blasting out “Vermont Bully” Kevin Cobbs in 2018, Rivera has been extremely active, winning four more times that year, seven more times in 2019 and twice in 2020. Rivera won another stay-busy fight last February in Orlando, Florida, a first-round knockout of some Mexican punching bag.

At 19-0 with 14 knockouts, Rivera is back in action on next month’s (August 14) RPE promoted show in Worcester, Massachusetts at the Palladium where he made his pro debut back in 2017.

11. Jamaine Ortiz, Worcester, Massachusetts: This Jimmy Burchfield promoted lightweight is 14-0-1 (8). Last April, he showed great promise on a Top Rank promoted show in Florida, drawing in 8 with undefeated (14-0-2) TR prospect Joseph Adorno. Many ringsiders felt that Ortiz, 25, deserved to get the win and that Adorno was fortunate to keep his unbeaten record.

12. Irvin Gonzalez, Worcester, Massachusetts: Now 14-3 with 11 knockouts, the losses are starting to pile up for this once highly regarded featherweight prospect. Before losing his “0” by knockout in 2019 to journeyman Elijah Pierce at Foxwoods Casino, there was talk of Gonzalez being signed by Evander Holyfield’s upstart promotional company. Three months later, Gonzalez lost again at Foxwoods, this time a wide 10-round decision loss to Toka Khan.

Gonzalez also lost his most recent fight, an 8-round split decision loss to Texas tough-guy Edward Vazquez in Los Angeles on a Jimmy Burchfield promoted show in November of 2020.

Irvin is still only 25, he can build back better.

KO’s Honorable Mentions: Chris Traietti (cruiserweight, Quincy, MA), Ryan Kielczweski (lightweight, Quincy, MA) and Brandon “The Cannon” Berry (welterweight, West Forks, Maine).

The 35-year-old Traietti is more promoter than active fighter these days but he still laces up the gloves on his own Granite Chin Promotions shows and he sports a 30-4 (24) record. He was beaten by Lowell’s Joey McCreedy, Worcester’s Edwin Rodriguez and by Mike Lee in Chicago.

Known as the “Polish Prince” in the ring, Kielczweski turned pro in 2008 and racked up a 22-0 record before his first decision loss in 2015 to Danny Aquino. Momentum killing decision losses to Miquel Flores, Frank De Alba, Tommy Coyle, and Gabriel Flores have stalled his career at 35.

All of which brings us to Maine’s Brandon Berry. A short little welterweight with no reach and little in the way of technique, Berry gets by on pure heart. The 33-year-old is now 22-5-2 (15) and has both fought and promoted himself to 9 straight victories since a pair of losses in 2018.

Berry now fights for the memory of best friend Joel Bishop, a fellow boxer who died on Berry’s wedding night in 2017. Berry has overcome personal tragedy, humiliating losses in the ring and a shoulder injury requiring surgery to carve out a respectable professional boxing career.

*** As noted above there are a few New England shows scheduled that local live fans should know about. Next Saturday night on July 31, Vertex Promotions has a club show scheduled in Dedham, MA featuring several novice local pros in action. Then on August 7 in Springfield, MA, CES is putting on a show at the MGM Springfield with Kendrick Ball Jr. in the main event.

Promoter Jose Antonio Rivera (the former WBA junior middleweight champion) is then back at the Palladium in Worcester, MA on August 14 with “New England’s Future VII” featuring the return of the popular “Popeye” Rivera. And on August 28 in Derry, NH, Chris Traietti’s Granite Chin promotions returns for what Chris calls an “invitational elite class boxing tournament.”

Boxing Writer Jeffrey Freeman grew up in the City of Champions, Brockton, Massachusetts from 1973 to 1987, during the Marvelous career of Marvin Hagler. JFree then lived in Lowell, Mass during the best years of Irish Micky Ward’s illustrious career. A former member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a Bernie Award Winner in the Category of Feature Story Under 1500 Words. Freeman covers boxing for The Sweet Science in New England.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: The WBA’s 50-Year-Old Cruiserweight Contender and More

Arne K. Lang

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Boxing Odds and Ends: The WBA’s 50-Year-Old Cruiserweight Contender and More

Boxing’s seniors tour continues on Sept. 11 when Oscar De La Hoya returns to the ring after an absence of almost 13 years to fight former MMA star Vitor Belfort. The bout is scheduled for eight two-minute rounds and will count against De La Hoya’s professional boxing record which currently stands at 39-6 (30). More details will be revealed tomorrow at a Los Angeles press conference.

De La Hoya turned 48 in February. If he is looking for inspiration, he need look no further back than this past Saturday where cruiserweight Firat Arslan continued his ascent toward yet another world title shot with a fourth-round stoppage of Argentina’s Ruben Eduardo Acosta. Arslan is older than Oscar, he’s 50!

The match took place in Goeppingen, Germany, before a small gathering in Firat Arslan’s gym. It was sanctioned by the WBA for an “international” belt. A southpaw of Turkish descent, Arslan (pictured on the right) entered the contest ranked #5 by the repugnant organization and will presumably move up a notch.

Arslan is in his 24th year as a pro. His signature win was a 12-round decision over Virgil Hill in 2007. Hill was then 43 years old. Coincidentally, the man that Arslan just defeated was also 43.

The victory over Hill, a future Hall of Famer, earned Arslan a world cruiserweight title. He lost it to Guillermo Jones after one successful defense and would come up short in three other stabs at a world cruiserweight title, losing to Marco Huck twice and to Yoan Pablo Hernandez.

One doesn’t know if Ruben Eduardo Acosta turned up in Germany intent on rendering an honest effort. He went down three times from body shots and was counted out on his last trip to the mat. But the Argentine sported a decent record (38-17-5) and had gone seven years without being stopped, a pocket of 17 fights.

There’s an obvious difference between Arslan and De La Hoya. Arslan was out of the ring for 21 months after losing his title to Jones, but has otherwise maintained a steady schedule. His weight has never ballooned between fights and he has the physique of a man twenty years younger. De La Hoya has led a sedentary life since leaving the ring and is effectively starting over. He figures to weigh about 170 for Vitor Belfort which would be 25 pounds more than he carried for his last fight against Manny Pacquiao.

De La Hoya vs. Belfort is being promoted by Triller and will air on FITE. Triller and FITE are also collaborating on the Aug. 3 event at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden. The headline attraction of what will supposedly be a 10-fight card finds heavyweight contender Michael “The Bounty” Hunter taking on former amateur rival Mike “White Delight” Wilson.

Those attending the event who are over the age of 15 must provide proof of full vaccination or a negative test result within the previous 72 hours. Despite this potential deal-breaker, tickets purportedly disappeared fast, portending a complete sell-out.

Of course, there’s more to the event than boxing. Local rap groups DIPSET and THE LOX will battle it out in a competition ballyhooed as iconic in the promotional literature.

—-

A more compelling fight takes place in North London on Sept. 25 when IBF/WBO/WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua defends his belts against former unified cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk. It will be the first boxing event at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium which opened in April of 2019. Built for the Tottenham Hotspurs, a Premier League soccer club, the stadium was also conceptualized with an eye toward housing an NFL team.

The soccer pitch is retractable. Underneath is an artificial turf for American football. Having the football field at a lower level than the soccer pitch will allow spectators in the first row to see over the heads of football players and coaches standing on the sideline. In soccer, the front row can be closer to the playing field because soccer players sit on chairs when they are not in the game. Moreover, the stadium has a separate entrance dedicated to NFL events and the press sections for American football and for soccer are configured differently.

Pro football fans in the U.S. tuning in on television will be get a bird’s eye view of the new stadium on Oct. 10 and again Oct. 17 when the NFL plays games in London, renewing a tradition that was interrupted last year by Covid-19. The NFL recently signed a 10-year deal with the landlord of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

For the record, the Oct. 10 game features the Falcons against the Jets. On Oct. 17, it’s the Jaguars against the Dolphins. Both games will start at 9:30 am ET, 6:30 am PT. Football fans on the West Coast are advised to set their alarm clocks.

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Fast Results from London: Massive Heavyweight Joe Joyce Keeps on Rolling

Arne K. Lang

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Ponderous but formidable Joe Joyce moved one step closer to a title fight tonight at the Wembley Arena with a sixth-round stoppage of Carlos Takam. Carrying 264 pounds on a six-foot-six frame, the 2014 Olympic silver medalist was simply too big for his 40-year-old French-Cameroonian adversary.

In his previous bout, Joyce methodically dismantled favored Daniel Dubois with a steady dose of his thudding right jab. Dubois quit in the 10th round with a busted eye socket. Tonight’s fight followed a somewhat similar pattern.

Takam landed some good shots in the first two rounds as Joyce was slow to find his rhythm, but Joyce stuck to his game plan which was to wear him down and Takam’s punches gradually lost steam in the face of Joyce’s constant pressure.

Early in round six, Joyce rocked Takam with a big right hand and didn’t let him off the hook. Takam protested when the referee indicated that he had seen enough and the stoppage did strike many as premature, but the handwriting was on the wall for the veteran who declined to 39-6-1. The official time was 0:49.

Joyce is of Scotch-Irish and Nigerian descent. College educated with a degree in fine arts, he acknowledges that he has no great passion for the sport of boxing and is in it for the financial rewards, not the glory. At age 35, he isn’t going to get any better, but he appears to have a rock-solid chin and his nickname, Juggernaut, is quite fitting.

Joyce entered the bout ranked #2 by the WBO, a notch below Oleksandr Usyk who challenges title-holder Anthony Joshua on Sept. 25.

Other Bouts of Note

Ekow Essuman, a 32-year-old Nottingham man, born in Botswana, unseated British and Commonwealth welterweight champion Chris Jenkins, winning on an eighth-round stoppage. A hard right hook followed by a flurry of punches forced the referee to waive it off. The official time was 0:53.

Essuman, who was favored in the 3/1 range, improved to 15-0 with his sixth win inside the distance. A Welshman, Jenkins (22-4-3) was making the fourth defense of his domestic title.

London super welterweight Hamzah Sheeraz, who has been training at the Ten Goose Gym in Van Nuys, California, improved to 13-0 (9 KOs) with a fifth-round stoppage of Spain’s Ezequiel Gurria (15-2). Gurria was down twice in the fifth round before the bout was halted at the 2:23 mark.

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