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Every Joe Gans Lightweight Title Fight – Part 5: Kid McPartland

Matt McGrain

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The black champion walked to his corner at once and began preparations for departure while McPartland was still struggling against fate on the floor. – The New York Evening World, October 14, 1902.

The story of Joe Gans and Kid McPartland goes all the way back to November of 1898 and the time of their first fight, in New York. It was McPartland, then, who was labelled the fighter with perhaps the greatest left-hand in the sport and it was Gans, odd to read, who was a local attraction, a genius according to his Baltimore boosters but unproven to the wider world.

How times had changed.

But in 1898 it was McPartland who held the left, and it was McPartland who began as the favourite.  This was something of a graduation night for Gans and two things fascinate above all others. The first is how well Gans, or perhaps the wily Al Herford, had McPartland scouted, and the second is how beautifully Gans put that scouting to work. The first of these is no small matter; Gans had observed McPartland from ringside but he had not film to study, no long hours of analysis. Still, for the most part, Gans reduced the McPartland’s celebrated left to something of a liability.

Gans boxed McPartland carefully, in a way that a ringsider at the Rufe Turner fight would have recognised. His essential strategy for a fighter that he finds dangerous is to handle them like they are deadly while simultaneously dominating them with accuracy and timing, and the first McPartland fight was such a contest. Gans spent the early rounds “fiddling” in the lexicon of 1898, “feeling his man out” to you and me. By the third what was notable was the ease with which Gans was parrying and blocking the left while having joy with his own. McPartland was sending in grazing left-hands or bodyshots while Gans repeatedly rattled McPartland’s teeth, literally, decades before the advent of the gumshield.

The price for his isolation of the McPartland left was his sucking up the occasional right, but Gans knew enough to know he could hold those punches without issue. When McPartland tried to change the pattern by rushing Gans, Gans was prepared for this too and lifted his man with uppercuts. Once his dominance was established, which was clear some time around the thirteenth round, he began fighting two-handed and with more abandon. It was late in the contest before McPartland was able to score a meaningful left, but he did so in the nineteenth round and for a moment it seemed he might save himself, but it was the Kid, not Gans who visited the canvas, dropped by a left-hand, of course, in the twenty-fourth round. Gans “escaped with little punishment” according to The Brooklyn Eagle, an opinion shared by The New York Sun.

Mid-career Bernard Hopkins is the fighter who comes to mind when reading about 1800s Gans.  Brilliant at turning his opponent’s strength to a weakness and countering what is best in him, he seems first and foremost a general but lacking, perhaps, the vicious streak that would have allowed him to definitively conquer the better men he faced. Keep in mind the terrible battles Elbows McFadden forced upon Gans in the 1800s but that come the 1900s, Elbows could not live with his old foe. Now, McPartland returned to the fore, hoping, perhaps, his own experiences from the 1800s might help him.

That hope, such as it was, lay perhaps in his second fight with Gans, staged in 1899. A short-form fight over six, it reads suspiciously like the first six of their 1898 contest, much careful sparring early giving way to Gans offence at the end of the fifth, but no more was to be learned and the fight is generally reported a draw. A second fight over the shorter distance delivered the same result.  McPartland, then, had information to hand with which to build his own plan.

The earlier incarnation of Gans was fought on even terms and forced to quit against Erne; the championship version destroyed him in one. The earlier incarnation of Gans was stretched to the absolute limit by Elbows McFadden; the championship version destroyed him in three. The earlier incarnation of Gans out-thought McPartland but was forced to traverse the distance against a dangerous fighter. What would the championship version make of him?

The fight was slated for October 6 and McPartland, at the end of September, brimmed with confidence.

“I am leaving nothing to chance,” he told reporters after training. “I have met Gans before…and I always managed to keep him busy. I know the coon’s [sic] style pretty well and I really believe I can do more with him than any other lightweight.”

“McPartland appears extremely confident,” reported The Buffalo Courier. “If confidence, condition, shiftiness and a dangerous punch cut a figure (and they usually do), McPartland will give a good account of himself.”

Certainly, his training camp seemed fit for purpose. McPartland often boxed three men a day, including the big, rough lightweight prospect Warren Zurbrick. “The more the merrier,” McPartland offered. “I shall be ready for all comers.” McPartland’s camp was an open book for fighters, all of whom were welcome to spar with him.

The truth of McPartland’s history shows a spotty attitude to training, “in and out” as the parlance of the day would have it. At the end of September 1902 though, McPartland was in crisp shape. The reason for this was McPartland’s membership in Kid Carter’s camp. Kid Carter was a middleweight contender of the era who had failed two weeks prior in an attempt at Tommy Ryan’s championship.  The camp, described as a “siege” by one paper was a strict one and one that saw not just Carter but McPartland, too, trained to the absolute quill. McPartland rolled out of that camp and into preparation for his own crack at the world championship.

“Boxing with such big fellows as Kid Carter has done me a heap of good,” he said. “I feel stronger than ever and men of my own weight feel weak and light in front of me…I think I am better now than ever before.”

Five-thousand tickets went on sale on noon of the twenty-ninth of September; around this time rumour emerged of Kid McPartland developing a system specifically designed to offset the Gans left, much as Gans did to McPartland in 1898. Whether or not this story was a red herring is unknown, but it is a fascinating wrinkle. McPartland’s condition though seemed, for the moment, beyond reproach, The Buffalo Evening News making a fit McPartland “about the only man in the country today outside of Erne who has a possible chance to beat [Gans].”

It is interesting that the article excludes Jimmy Britt, who was in the picture to be matched with Gans at around this time but for hand-trouble. These injuries were the pugilist’s bane in a time of small gloves with minimal padding and was the reason so many six-round non-title fights were settled more peacefully, “exhibitions” only as was the accordance with law in many states. Fighters could not afford to put themselves forth to the full in every fight, especially not when they were fighting two, four, even more times in one month. Care had to be taken in sparring and fighting alike – training to the point of absolute peak only to break one’s hand in the first round after throwing an ill-advised left-hook was, I imagine, a special kind of misery.

Gans was not immune. On October fourth, the fight was postponed for one week. The announcement was odd. Herford, who was due to arrive with Gans in Buffalo the next day prior to travelling up to Fort Erie in time for the fight two days later, instead wired the International Club with news that Gans had “sprained his hand” and “would not take any chances until it was strong.” Sixty hours from weigh in, this was a blow, not least to McPartland who felt himself ready. The blow was perhaps softened by the $200 forfeit he was able to collect but according to the Buffalo Illustrated Times he “almost cried” when told the fight was off.

Now scheduled for the thirteenth, just one week later, the usual speculation began to circulate regarding Joe’s conduct; had he trained properly? Could he make weight? Was the injury real, or a fabrication? No answers were forthcoming from the Gans camp who were used to such accusations, but it was announced that the champion would now be arriving in Buffalo on the ninth. McPartland sulked, and crossed into Canada to be weighed, a necessity if he wished to collect his money. Sure enough, the challenger hit 134lbs. His face apparently “drawn and pinched,” The Buffalo Enquirer also reported that McPartland “never looked better in his life.” Tight at the weight but clearly ready to fight, he was not in the best of moods.

“Of course I claimed Herford’s forfeit,” he snapped. “I would not give him a penny if I could help it.  He has been telling the same tales of me being afraid of Gans that he did about Frank Erne.  [Training] was hard work and I will have to do the whole thing over again. Then it makes a man nervous. I am not afraid of the result of the battle. Gans knows that I have no fear of him. I never saw the negro I feared.”

Gans maintained his silence. Herford went to the trouble of telephoning The Courier to tell them that he planned to instruct Gans to give McPartland “an extra good beating” for these remarks.

Herford’s loyalty to Gans was mirrored in that of Gans to Herford, and this despite some allegedly shady dealings. Herford’s qualifications for handling a fighter as peerless as Gans were equally shady, his background that of a restaurant manager and gambler, not a boxing man. Showbusiness is showbusiness as the saying goes, however, and the two seemed to come to some sort of accord whereby Gans did all the work and Herford counted the money – and did all the talking.

“I had a hard time getting Gans where he is,” Herford once told assembled Baltimore reporters, overlooking, one might argue, Joe’s own role in his triumph. “I tell you boys it is a pretty tough job getting a colored boxer up to the top of the ladder these days. Of course some may say, look at Tom O’Rourke. Did he not make George Dixon the champion?”

It is unrecorded as to whether or not any of those assembled pointed out to Herford that Dixon, himself, was the man most responsible.

Gans and Herford arrived in Buffalo the day before the fight and seem to have set down in Buffalo for mere minutes before heading straight for Fort Erie and The American Hotel. “[Gans] looked to be in superb condition,” reported The Courier, which apparently caught a glimpse of the champion.  Speaking briefly, Gans reported that his hand was ready and that he was too. He covered a reported twelve miles along the Canadian shore, “finishing as if he had been out for a short walk.”

Charley White was the other big arrival, the perennial championship referee having travelled from New York. Nor was he alone; many New Yorkers had travelled with him having secured tickets for the fight.

McPartland, who had finished his training the day before and tipped the beam at just under 134lbs, took his rest and waited. He weighed in at 3pm on the day of the fight weighing just under 135lbs; Gans followed him to the scales and matched the number but it was noted that he looked the bigger man. This was a problem for McPartland, for his plan to nullify the Gans offence called for him to impose himself upon Gans physically.

“Stretching…the rules to their utmost,” reported the Buffalo Morning Express, “McPartland tried his best to get Gans into a mauling, waltzing match.”

Gans has seen this before however, and from McPartland himself no less. He remained patient and he remained distant where it was possible. He also began to look for the right-hand, a change from his first fight with McPartland where he seemed to favour the left. Meanwhile, when it came to McPartland’s ranged efforts, Gans’ defence was more devastating than ever.

“McPartland did not land over eight solid blows during the entire time of the bout,” wrote The Buffalo Evening Times. “Gans smothering most of his leads before they were fairly started.”

While he smothered McPartland’s shots, Gans waited and that cost him the occasional left to the body. Some combination of McPartland’s grappling and Joe’s maneuvering caused Gans to slip in the second. In the third, Gans changed up and returned McPartland’s pressure but continued to block what McPartland returned with consummate ease. The fight so far had been defined by the “pretty blocking and shifty footwork” described by The Enquirer but Gans now changed it up.

McPartland “put forward a very fair effort” as The Evening World saw it, “but the effort to make weight had evidently told heavily on his frame…Cool, collected, holding himself in reserve form the first gong [Gans] stealthily pursued [McPartland] from corner to corner, never venturing to dangerous depths and unerringly grasping the occasional opportunities left open for him.”

As he stalked, he lashed McPartland’s body and although McPartland was able to block many of these shots, he left himself wide open for Gans right hand to the jaw which dropped him for an eight count close to the end of the third. McPartland, at least, had not showed fear in the opener but by the third he was on the run, Gans in cautious, tempered, stalking pursuit.

McPartland clinched his way through the fourth and in the fifth was reduced to remaining at distance but trying to time his rushes to get inside the Gans artillery while avoiding or blocking punches. Such strategy is doomed to failure in a four round smoker but against a great champion in his prime it spells the end. Gans literally “went over to McPartland’s corner” at bell and began hitting him. Almost every report of the fight describes the economy of risk with which Gans boxed but you can tell he has smelled the blood in the fifth; his approach seems intemperate for the first time, and McPartland was not so far gone as to miss the chance and “put left on face” [sic] according to The Enquirer’s round-by-round; then Gans rushed.

The end, when it came, was sudden but layered. Gans had spent the fight hitting to the body to open up a pathway for the right hand to the head. Here, he feinted with a right hand to the jaw and “McPartland, falling into the trap, raised his guard to the blow.”

The Courier continues the tale:

“In precisely the same manner that Bob Fitzsimmons won his famous battle from Jim Corbett,” it reported, “Joe Gans, the lightweight champion, knocked out Kid McPartland. The final blow…was a terrific left-handed drive to the solar plexus.”

The final punch is reported in much detail and is worth quoting in full that the reader may clearly understand the technique.

“In delivering the blow Gans shifted his position so as to bring his right leg in front of him, sending home his blow with full force simultaneously with the shift.”

The shift, a pivot, or switch, depending upon the era, was a much-admired technique perfected by Fitzsimmons and then Stanley Ketchel, here executed by Joe Gans. McPartland was immediately floored and “writhed in agony” as Gans coolly returned to his corner and prepared to depart the ring. He did not even look towards the shape snatching wildly for breath in a crumpled heap on the canvas.

“My punch,” McPartland wept, no less, once recovered. “He got there first!”

“He’s improved,” he offered later. “He’s a hard man to reach. He got me with just the same smash I was trying to put on him.”

Gans seemed please. He spoke at length to the press, not something he went out of his way to do, often preferring to speak through Herford.

“McPartland found me a different proposition tonight to what I was when we last fought. He gave me a good go tonight until I finally got him properly gauged. He is a shifty fellow and has a good defense and a wicked blow with that left. I knew I would beat him and figured that he would go out when I landed the first square blow. I thought it would be a jaw punch but he was too foxy, and I had to try the solar plexus on him.”

Joe’s plans were a matter of much interest but here Gans did hand over to Herford, who announced that Gans would travel down to Lancaster in Pennsylvania to face no less a figure that Dave Holly.  Holly was inconsistent, but a serious proposition, especially the day after a title fight. Undefeated in twenty-nine fights he perhaps had plans on making Gans the thirtieth and therefore gaining himself a title shot. Those plans did not come to fruition; Gans dropped him four times as Holly became the latest elite pugilist to turn in a performance laced with fear.

This seems now beyond belief, but The Baltimore Sun was clear: “Holley [sic] made almost no effort to fight, confining his work to running around the ring out of the champion’s reach and clinching.”

“Gentlemen,” Gans addressed the crowd afterwards. “If the management will get a good man to meet me here, I will try and give you a better exhibition.”

“While disappointed in not scoring a knockout,” The Sun continued, “Gans took the fight almost in the nature of a joke.”

Holly would finish his career credited with victories over the like of Rufe Turner, Jack Blackburn and the all-time great Joe Walcott.

“That Gans is the superior of all the lightweights, there is no doubt,” concluded The Times. “He is the exponent of all that is clever, and though his gameness has been often questioned he must be given credit for being about the best the world has ever produced in the lightweight division.”

Before he was finished, Gans would prove himself as game as any pugilist who had ever stepped onto an ill-stretched canvas and scraped his carefully scarred leather soles in resin.

This series was written with the support of boxing historian and Joe Gans expert Sergei Yurchenko. His work can be found here: http://senya13.blogspot.com/

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USA Olympic Boxing Team Sputters After a Strong Start

Arne K. Lang

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USA Olympic Boxing Team Sputters After a Strong Start

Boxers from the United States were collectively 6-1 during the first four days of competition at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics. The only boxer that failed to advance was women’s featherweight Yarisel Ramirez. A late addition to the U.S. squad and the youngest member of the 10-person team, the 21-year-old Ramirez, born in Cuba and raised in Las Vegas, lost a unanimous decision to Croatia’s Nikolina Cacic.

Middleweight Troy Isley (Alexandria, Virginia) turned away the well-seasoned Belarussian Vitali Bandarenka in his first bout, but came up short in his second, losing a split decision to Russia’s Gleb Bakshi, the #2 seed. Likewise, Ginny Fuchs (Houston, TX) won her first bout, but couldn’t get past the second hurdle. The 33-year-old LSU grad was defeated by veteran Bulgarian campaigner Stoyka Krasteva.

Middleweight Naomi Graham (Fayetteville, NC) saw her first action on Wednesday and was eliminated by Russia’s Zemfira Magomedaliev who prevailed on a split decision. Cincinnati featherweight Duke Ragan, who overcame France’s Samuel Kristohurry in his first bout, was more fortunate. Ragan got over the second hump with a unanimous decision over Kazakhstan’s Serik Temirzhanov. That sets up a date on Sunday with Northern Ireland’s well-regarded Kurt Walker. The winner is assured of at least a bronze medal.

Toledo welterweight Oshae Jones scored a split decision over Mexico’s Brienda Cruz and now faces Maria Moronta of the Dominican Republic. The match goes tomorrow (Friday, July 30) with a scheduled start time of 5:03 am EST. Lynn, Massachusetts lightweight Rashida Ellis, who like Jones is a member of a prominent boxing family, makes her Olympic debut tomorrow and she’s matched tough. Her opponent, Caroline Dubois, who sports a 36-2 record, is the sister of the fearsome British heavyweight Daniel Dubois.

With two wins under his belt, 22-year-old Cleveland welterweight Delante “Tiger” Johnson is the most advanced member of the U.S. team, but one suspects that he is living on borrowed time. He vaulted into the quarterfinals with wins over Argentina’s Brian Arregui and Kazakhstan’s Ablaikhan Zhussupov, winning both by split decision. Up next for Johnson is Cuba’s 303-fight veteran Roniel Iglesias, a two-time Olympian who won gold at the 2012 Games in London.

Norfolk, Virginia lightweight Keyshawn Davis, the most ballyhooed member of the U.S. team, won his opening round bout against Enrico La Cruz of the Netherlands and is now set to renew acquaintances with Sofiane Oumiha of France who he defeated in a 2019 tournament in Russia. Oumiha defeated Teofimo Lopez and former IBF world flyweight champion Amnat Ruenroeng en route to a berth in the finals at the 2016 Olympiad in Rio.

Super heavyweight Richard Torrez Jr (Tulare, CA) was the only male boxer in the U.S. contingent to be seeded. The team’s captain, Torrez was given the #3 seed in a division with a clear-cut favorite in Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov.

Torrez rolled into the quarterfinals with a one-sided decision over Algeria’s Chaouib Bouloudinats. He now faces Dainier Pero, a 21-year-old Cuban who was awarded a split decision over Torrez at a 2019 tournament in Lima, Peru. The last U.S. super heavyweight to medal was Riddick Bowe who settled for silver after being stopped by Lennox Lewis at Seoul in 1988.

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The Agony of Defeat

Ted Sares

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The Agony of Defeat

Bad decisions are as much a part of boxing as enswell, but reactions from the losers vary widely.

The look on Roberto Duran’s face wasn’t agony, but it was something pretty close when the judges ruled against him in his 1996 bout with Hector Camacho. The crowd booed when the scores were announced: 115-113, 116-113, and an unbelievable 117-111, all for the “Macho” man. In the eyes of many, the well-conditioned Duran had controlled the fight since round five.

When George Foreman was robbed in his 1997 fight with Shannon Briggs, he simply left the ring and retired while the crowd screamed Bull****! Bull****! Bull****!

The same happened when Dave Tiberi was robbed in his infamous 1992 fight with James Toney at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Tiberi simply walked away in disgust and never boxed again. Widely considered one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history, this one prompted a federal investigation. Donald Trump’s disgust was such that he reportedly banned boxing in all of his casinos for six months.

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“To be able to fight the number one person in the world [Toney], during his heyday, and in my heart of hearts, knowing that I did everything I had to do to be able to win the world championship, I’m at peace.” — Dave Tiberi

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Toney himself got a taste of it in the first of his two fights with Samuel Peter. Visibly and pleasantly surprised by the result. Peter literally ran to his dressing room to celebrate, while Toney stood in his corner seemingly in shock with his hands on the ropes and his face looking down in disbelief at the SD loss. He would never be quite the same.

Paul Williams “win” over Erislandy Lara was such a rank decision that all three judges were suspended. Similar to Dave Tiberi, Lara did not make a big fuss though his boxing stock went up.

This writer scored the 2007 fight between Jose Armando Santa Cruz and Joel Casamayor 119-109 in favor of Santa Cruz and many sitting at ringside had it the same way. When the bell rang ending the fight, Casamayor was lifted up as the anticipated winner. “I thought ‘Oh Oh,’ said Jim Lampley, “the crowd seems a little nonplussed that someone would lift Casamayor as if he won.”

In fact, the crowd booed loudly in disbelief when the decision by the relatively inexperienced judges went in favor of Casamayor. Frank Lombardi and Ron McNair scored it 114-113 for the Cuban while Tony Paolillo scored it 114-113 for Santa Cruz. Again, cries of Bull**** Bull**** Bull**** rained down.

“Just when you think you have seen everything– every bizarre decision — something like this happens,” said Lampley. Harold Lederman chimed in: “That’s a tough decision to explain. It was dreadful. I wish I had a stronger word.” Max Kellerman added, “That’s just not a bad decision; that’s an outright robbery.”

However, they all witnessed it again when Tim Bradley “beat “Manny Pacquiao in 2012. That one should be expunged.

Tapia vs Ayala

 In 1999, in his 49th professional fight, Johnny Tapia suffered his first loss, losing a decision and the WBA title to Paulie Ayala in The Ring magazine’s “Fight of the Year.” Later that year, the tightly wound Tapia attempted suicide and required hospitalization.

 The following year, Ayala defeated Tapia again in another wild and hellacious fight. Early on, Tapia wobbled Ayala after which the two traded bombs. Johnny appeared to be in control but he was taking his share of Ayala ‘s incoming and sharp blows. After twelve rounds, Tapia was lifted up by his cornermen and had no doubt (in his mind) that he had won. But when Ayala was once again declared the winner by unanimous decision, Tapia became enraged and a look of pure agony appeared on his face. That look said it all; it was indelible. And it might well have been the precursor to more demonic issues down the line.

“We all have our demons…But Johnny had them to an extent that’s almost impossible to believe. He was fighting addiction. He was fighting mental illness. He spent years in jail…”  Lou DiBella

For the losers, this was all about the pain of knowing—correctly or not— that you won but realizing you hadn’t.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

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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.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

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