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The Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame Welcomes the Classes of 2020/2021

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 Las Vegas welcomes the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame when it hosts the 2020 and 2021 inductees to its honor roll on Saturday Aug. 14, at the Orleans Casino and Resort.

Because of the pandemic, last year’s ceremony was not held but will be included with this year’s class in Las Vegas.  Here are the newest members:

Class of 2020

Michele Aboro (21-0, 12 KOs) – Though British by birth, she fought primarily in Germany because women’s boxing was not accepted in the United Kingdom in her era. Between 1995 and 2001 the super bantamweight remained undefeated despite facing fellow Hall of Fame fighters such as Kelsey Jeffries and Daisy Lang.

Sharon Anyos (14-3, 4 KOs) – Australia’s “Wild Thing” fought between 1998 and 2007.During those years she engaged against heavy duty competition including fellow inductees Lisa Brown and Jojo Wyman and the great Jane Couch. I personally witnessed two fights including a savage fight against Wyman in Rancho Cucamonga 21 years ago. Interesting side note: the promoter ran away with the ticket money.

Lisa Brown (20-6-3, 6 KOs) – Canada’s “Bad News” Brown was a southpaw technician in the super bantamweight division between 2000 and 2013. A very strong fighter who traveled to Panama, Mexico, South Korea and other parts of the world. Among those she battled were Jackie Nava, Ana Julaton and Karen Martin. I personally remember a torrid battle she had with Jeri Sitzes to win the IFBA title in 2008 at Pechanga Casino in Temecula, California.

Graciela Casillas (7-0-1, 3 KOs) – A native Californian she fought between 1979 and 1986 when professional female boxing was rare but slowly growing. In just her second fight engaged in a 10-round fight versus Debbie Kauffman in San Antonio, Texas. Casillas fought four times in Nevada and only twice in Los Angeles. Established a reputation as a fierce fighter.

Jaime Clampitt (22-5-2, 7 KOs) – A Canadian by birth, Clampitt recently fought but started her fistic career back in 2000. Among those she faced were Eliza Olson, Jane Couch, Mia St. John and Holly Holm to name a few. Most of her bouts took place in the lightweight division.

Melinda Cooper (23-2, 11 KOs) – A native Las Vegas fighter, “La Maravilla” Cooper was one of the first women to develop under the amateur boxing program and fought between 2002 to 2014. Was a fearless flyweight and bantamweight fighter with speed and power, willing to fight in Mexico, France and Costa Rica. Among those she battled were Jeri Sitzes, Anissa Zamarron, Donna Biggers, Ada Velez and Celina Salazar. Few were as physically talented and skilled as Melinda Cooper. She was a big attraction.

Isra Girgrah (28-3-2, 11 KOs) – Fought out of her home state Maryland as a super featherweight between 1995 and 2004. Among those she faced in the boxing ring were Christy Martin, Brit Van Buskirk, Tracy Bird, Laura Serrano and Melissa Del Valle. All were exceptional fighters during that era.

Kelsey Jeffries (41-11-2) – The native Californian was known as the “Road Warrior” and between 1999 and 2014 fought more than 50 times in the super bantamweight and featherweight class. Among those she battled were Layla McCarter, Laura Serrano, Melissa Hernandez, Jackie Nava, Jojo Wyman and Alicia Ashley to name a few. Very well-loved fighter.

Valerie Mahfood (19-14-4, 9 KOs) – The Texas tough pugilist fought in the golden era of the light heavyweights between 1997 and 2008 and was smack in the middle of several top battles. Among those she fought were Ann Wolfe and Laila Ali including a knockout win over Wolfe. Mahfood might have been dominant in the division if not for those two giants in women’s boxing. Still, she held her own in every fight.

Mary Ortega (32-6-2, 9 KOs) – Born and raised in Kansas City she fought a who’s who of opposition from flyweight to super featherweight from 1997 to 2014. Among those she battled were Elena “Baby Doll” Reid, Ada Velez, Susi Kentikian and Hollie Dunaway.

Mary Ann Owen – is a world-famous photographer based in Las Vegas who has chronicled women’s boxing and men’s boxing for more than 30 years. Few female fights took place without her recording the fights for posterity. She also published a book on women’s boxing that has become one of three essential books on the female prizefighting world.

Shelley Williams – A Los Angeles native, entered the world of boxing while working with high powered attorney Robert Shapiro. From then on Williams worked as a publicist, journalist, consultant, matchmaker and all things boxing. Among those she assisted were the late Eddie Futch, Michael Dokes, Ken Norton and Leon Spinks. She was also a commissioner with the International Female Boxing Association.

Class of 2021

Alicia Ashley (24-12-1) – Known as “Slick” she was a speedy southpaw fighter from Brooklyn who fought from 1999 to 2018. Her very last fight took place three years ago in a world title fight against current champion Dina Thorslund in Denmark. Even at age 51 she gave the Danish fighter one of her closest fights. Ashley has fought all over the world and held world titles in the bantamweight and super bantamweight divisions.

Kathy Collins (14-2-4, 3 KOs) – A New York based fighter known as “Wildcat” Collins battled between 1995 and 2001. Her last bout was a war with legendary Christy Martin that she lost by majority decision at Madison Square Garden. Though her career was not very long she was a popular attraction at Atlantic City. She fought 10 times at the casino city and twice at Madison Square Garden. She was a real crowd pleaser.

Roy Englebrecht – a Southern California-based promoter for more than 30 years and a strong supporter for women’s prizefighting. When other promoters ignored female boxing Englebrecht was the only promoter who believed in the sport’s future. He doubled down on women’s boxing and staged numerous world title fights mostly in the Orange County area. Many fighters like Mia St. John, Bridgett “Baby Doll” Riley, Crystal Morales and Para Draine fought on his boxing cards which continue to flourish.

Gina Guidi (16-1-1, 6 KOs) – A California native known as “Boom Boom” Guidi she fought between 1995 and 2001 in the welterweight and super welterweight divisions. Among those she faced were Brit Van Buskirk, Mary Ann Almager and Trina Ortegon. In her very last fight she captured the WIBA title.

Bonnie Mann (13-9, 6 KOs) – has long been an advocate for women’s prizefighting first as a fighter and now as a trainer and promoter. Her fighting career began in 2002 and ended in 2010 with bouts against Holly Holm, Yvonne Reis and Ann Saccurato. Mann now works as a general manager at a boxing gym in Elmira, New York and also serves as a motivational speaker for youth.

Anne Sophie Mathis (27-4-1, 23 KOs) – A native of France the tall welterweight fought between 1995 and 2016 and was famous for her knockout power. Among those she victimized were Holly Holm, Ana Pascal, and Jane Couch. Mathis could hit like a piledriver and won world titles in the super lightweight and welterweight divisions. She was feared for her knockout punch throughout her career.

Ina Menzer (31-1, 11 KOs) – Though a native of Kazakhstan she fought almost entirely in Germany between 2004 and 2013 in the featherweight division. Among those she battled were Fatuma Zarika, Yazmin Rivas, Esther Schouten, and Ramona Kuehne. Her only loss was against American fighter Jeannine Garside. She held featherweight world titles from 2005 until she retired in 2013.

Natascha Ragosina (22-0, 13 KOs) – A tall middleweight from Russia who fought most of her professional career in Germany between 2004 and 2009, which in women’s boxing was the dead era. Germany was one of the few countries that staged women’s prizefighting but during that span of time, even Germany was hard-pressed to promote lucrative fight cards. Ragosina never lost a fight despite fighting tough opposition such as Valerie Mahfood, Yvonne Reis, Dakota Stone and Akondaye Fountain.

Marischa Sjauw (22-6-1, 7 KOs) – “La Matadora” fought out of the Netherlands between 1993 and 2004. Most of her bouts were held in the lightweight to welterweight division against American and European fighters. Among those she faced were Anne Sophie Mathis, Kathy Collins, Jane Couch and Isra Girgrah.

Carol Steindler – Based in Los Angeles she was the last owner of the world famous Main Street Gym and the daughter of world class trainer Howie Steindler. Many of the best fighters in history trained at the Main Street Gym including Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Roberto Duran, Manuel Ortiz, Alberto Davila, Lil Indian Red Lopez, and Jack Johnson. The movie Rocky was filmed at the location. As the daughter of Howie she was right in the middle of the boxing world.

Dora Webber (6-6-3) – Based in Paterson, New Jersey she was known as Dora the Destroyer and fought from 1983 to 1999. Among those she faced were Lucia Rijker, Christy Martin, Jane Couch and Gina Guidi. One of the pioneers of women’s boxing willing to perform against anyone. She even flew overseas to Moscow where she battled Zulfia Kutdyusova in 1997.

Jojo Wyman (11-9-1) – Fought out of Los Angeles and battled against the best of her era between 1999 and 2003. Perhaps her best showing was against Mexico’s great Laura Serrano whom she defeated in 2003 at the famous Playboy Mansion. During that event many future NBA basketball greats such as Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony were in attendance before they played their first pro game.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: A Travesty of a Heavyweight ‘Title Fight’ and More

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It’s official. On Wednesday, Feb. 22, a formal press conference was held in Sofia, Bulgaria, to announce the forthcoming fight between Mahmoud Charr, formerly known as Manuel Charr, and Kubrat Pulev. They will meet in Bulgaria’s capital city on March 30 at a 12,000-seat arena.

Charr vs Kubrat bears the imprimatur of a world heavyweight title fight (WBA version). Charr is considered the champion, notwithstanding the fact that others have held the title since he first laid claim to it more than six years ago.

The WBA, as we know, recognizes two champions in some weight classes, a “super” champion and a “regular” champion. The “super” designation was created in 2000. It was designed to segregate title-holders into levels of accomplishment. In theory, a “super” champion has made five successful defenses and is recognized as a world title-holder by at least one of the three other major sanctioning bodies. “Super” champions are allowed certain liberties with respect to mandatory title defenses.

The bifurcation was greeted with hoots of derision. The Panama-based WBA trivialized the sport.

Mahmoud Charr

Mahmoud Charr was born in Beirut but has resided in Germany since he was a little boy. He won the vacant title with a 12-round decision over unexceptional Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany.  It was a close fight. TSS ringside correspondent Phil Woolever had Ustinov winning 7 rounds to 5, but conceded that the verdict could not be called an injustice.

The title that Charr won was vacated by Ruslan Chagaev who won the belt from Fres Oquendo, lost it to Lucas Browne, and got it back by decree when Browne’s post-fight urine tests showed evidence of banned substances. But Chagaev never fought again. His fight with Browne was his last.

Charr’s first defense was to come against Fres Oquendo. Slated for March 23, 2019 in Cologne after being pushed back from September of the previous year, the match never came to fruition when Charr tested positive for two banned substances. Things get really muddled from here with Charr pushed to the sideline by legal battles complicated by Don King’s shenanigans. King arranged a fight in Florida between Charr and his fighter Trevor Bryan and succeeded in getting Bryan the WBA belt when Charr was unable to get a visa. The belt is vacant again after Bryan was knocked out by Daniel Dubois who, in turn, was knocked out by “super” champion Oleksandr Usyk.

There are more threads to this saga but let’s not go there. Suffice it to say that after defeating Ustinov, Charr was out of action for the next three-and-a-half years. He’s had only three fights since 2017 and to say that his opponents were men of low repute would be giving them the best of it. In his most recent assignment, in December of 2022, he scored a second-round stoppage over 46-year-old Swiss-Albanian slug Nuri Seferi. That brought his record to 34-4 (20). He has been stopped three times, most recently in 2015 when he was halted in five frames by future cruiserweight champion Maris Briedis.

Kubrat Pulev

Kubrat Pulev will have the home field advantage in Sofia. Charr will have youth on his side. He’s 39; Pulev is 42.

Pulev sports a 30-3 record. The losses came at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko (L KO 5), Anthony Joshua (L KO 9), and Derek Chisora (L SD 12). He last fought in December at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa, CA, where he won a lopsided decision over Polish journeyman Andrzej Wawrzyk.

In a previous engagement here at the Hangar, a concert hall that seats a shade over 3,000, he TKOed Bogdan Dinu. That bout is remembered mostly for what happened after it ended. In an incident that went viral on social media, Pulev surprised Jennifer Ravalo, a self-styled journalist, with a kiss on the lips. That animated women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred and led to an 8-page spread in Playboy (of Ravalo, not Allred). The California State Athletic Commission fined and suspended Pulev and mandated that he undergo sexual harassment training. The suspension lasted 120 days.

The match between Charr and Pulev, says a blurb about it, is an “eagerly anticipated” clash between “two evergreen living legends.” We will let you provide the punchline, The winner is expected to fight Martin Bakole who was knocked out by Michael Hunter.

Jake Paul

Jake Paul, the enfant terrible of prizefighting, returns this Saturday on a card in San Juan, Puerto Rico, that will air on DAZN. Paul, a so-called influencer who brought his big social media following with him when he took up fisticuffing, is coming off a first-round stoppage of Andre August, a no-name fighter from Texas. Saturday’s sacrificial lamb is a fellow from Dickinson, North Dakota (by way of Benicia, California) named Ryan Bourland.

Bourland, who is reportedly 35 years old but looks older, scored his signature win in 2018 when he avenged a previous defeat with a 10-round majority decision over Jose Hernandez. He has fought only one since then, TKOing a fighter with a losing record in a 6-rounder at a lodge on a remote Indian reservation in North Dakota. That improved his ledger to 17-2 (6 KOs).

Regarding Jake Paul, Thomas Hauser once wrote that he’s worked hard to become a better boxer and is “certainly better than a Golden Gloves novice.” There was a time when this reporter, perhaps naively, thought that Jake had the potential to become a legitimate top-15 cruiserweight, but his recent choice of opponents suggests that he is comfortable just spinning his wheels.

His bout with Bourland will play second fiddle to Amanda Serrano’s featherweight title defense against Germany’s Nina Meinke (18-3, 4 KOs). Although Amanda has a lot of mileage on her odometer, she is expected to have little difficulty with Meinke. In another bout of note, Puerto Rican campaigners Jonathan Gonzalez (27-3-1, 14 KOs) and Rene Santiago (12-3, 9 KOs) will meet in a 12-rounder with Gonzalez’s WBO light flyweight title at stake.

—-

Let’s conclude this write-up on an upbeat note. Hall of Fame boxing writer Bernard Fernandez, a frequent TSS contributor, informs us that his fifth and presumably final anthology is nearing completion with a likely release date of April or May. “Championship Rounds, Round 5” includes a foreword by Gerry Cooney and has drawn glowing reviews from the likes of Dave Kindred and Dr. Gordon Marino who both had an early peek at the manuscript. Kindred, a renowned sportswriter and author, was the subject of a 2021 piece on “60 Minutes.” Marino, a Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, has written extensively about boxing for the Wall Street Journal.

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Results from Orlando where Berlanga KOed McCrory in a Possible Prelude to Canelo

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Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom organization was at the Caribe Royale tonight, a non-gaming resort near Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Unbeaten super middleweights Edgar Berlanga and Padraig McCrory squared off in the main event.

The fight started slow, but it soon became apparent that McCrory, a 35-year-old father of three from Belfast, Northern Ireland, was a domestic-level fighter, notwithstanding his undefeated (18-0) record. Berlanga, whose last five fights had gone the distance, roughed him up with some dirty tactics before taking him out in the sixth round with a crunching right hand that sent the Irishman face-first to the canvas. As McCrory pulled himself upright on rubbery legs, the towel flew in from his corner. The official time was 2:44.

As well-documented, Berlanga opened his pro career with 16 consecutive first-round knockouts. Nonetheless, he was let go by Top Rank in what purportedly was an amicable divorce. This was his second fight under the Matchroom banner. Eddie Hearn signed him with an eye on scoring a big-money match with Canelo Alvarez. The red-headed Mexican superstar is committed to returning to the ring in May on Cinco de Mayo weekend in Las Vegas, but hasn’t yet locked in an opponent.

If Berlanga gets the nod, he would be a heavy underdog, but the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico angle (coupled with Berlanga’s new-found reputation as a dirty fighter) would make it an easy sell.

Co-Feature

In only his third professional fight, Cuban defector Andy Cruz was bumped into the co-feature. That was in recognition of his amateur pedigree. Among his accomplishments, he was 4-0 vs. Keyshawn Davis with the last win coming in the gold medal round of the Tokyo Olympics.

Cruz, 28, was expected to win as he pleased against his Mexican opponent, Bryan Zamarripa, and he did win all 10 rounds on all three scorecards, but in common with many great Cuban amateurs, he seemed to lack something in the power department. Zamarripa was 14-2 heading in.

Other Bouts of Note

In a 12-round welterweight contest that was devoid of drama, Uzbekistan native Shakhram Giyasov, an Olympic silver medalist who has lost precious few rounds as a pro, won a lopsided technical decision over well-recycled 34-year-old Mexican Pablo Cesar Cano.

Giyasov (15-0, 9 KOs) sent Cano (35-9-1) to the canvas in the third round with a body punch. At the end of round 11, as their feet were tangled, he pushed Cano to the canvas and the Mexican ostensibly suffered a broken ankle when he fell. That sent the bout to the scorecards where the decision (109-99 x3) was a formality. With the victory, Giyasov earned a shot at WBA belt-holder Eimantas Stanionis.

The 12-round bantamweight match between Antonio Vargas and Jonathan Rodriguez, two fighters of Puerto Rican descent, was framed as a WBA bantamweight title eliminator. Rodriguez, the underdog, floored Vargas in the opening stanza. He had scored a stunning first-round knockout of 27-1 Khalid Yafai in his previous start and it appeared that another upset was brewing. But the match quickly turned one-sided in favor of Vargas who put Rodriguez on the canvas in the very next frame (and had two points deducted for hitting him after the bell) and then put him down again at the end of round seven with a sweeping left hook after which Rodriguez’s corner properly pulled him out.

Vargas, a 2016 Olympian who had home field advantage in Florida, improved to 18-1 (10 KOs) and became the mandatory opponent for Takuma Inoue who won earlier today in Tokyo. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s Rodriguez declined to 17-2-1.

The opening bout on the TV portion of the card was a 10-round flyweight affair that looked like a runaway for showboating Yankiel Rivera until gritty Andy Dominguez made things interesting.

Rivera, who improved to 5-0 (2), was Puerto Rico’s lone representative in the Tokyo Olympics. In Mexico-born Andy Dominguez, he was fighting a former three-time New York City Golden Gloves champion who was also unbeaten (10-0 heading in). Rivera dominated the match but was caught napping in round nine and Dominguez, although all busted-up, hurt him and almost put him down. That was most lopsided round of the fight, but also the only round that Dominguez won in the eyes of the judges.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom

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Junto Nakatani Turns in Another Masterclass on Saturday’s Tripleheader in Tokyo

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In a rather odd juxtaposition, several of boxing’s best little men were on display today at Japan’s National Sumo Arena in Tokyo. The best of the lot, Junto Nakatani, improved to 27-0 (20 KOs) while tearing away the WBC world bantamweight title from Tijuana’s Alexandro Santiago (28-4-5) who was making the first defense of the title he won in Las Vegas in May when he upset Nonito Donaire.

It was a one-sided beatdown. Nakatani, who had a 5-inch height advantage, won every round before ending the contest in the sixth. The end came at the 1:12 mark when Nakatani terminated the affair with his second knockdown. The first came earlier in the round, the result of a straight left hand. The finisher was a big right hook.

With the victory, Nakatani became a world title-holder in a third weight class. He’s an outstanding talent, worthy of pound-for-pound consideration, and would be favored in a unification fight with Takuma Inoue.

Inoue, the younger brother of pound-for-pound king Naoya “Monster” Inoue, did his part to bring the match to fruition with a ninth-round stoppage of Filipino veteran Jerwin Ancajas in the main event. Inoue (19-1, 5 KOs) was making the first defense of the WBA diadem he won with a wide decision over Venezuela’s mildewed Liborio Solis. That title was conveniently vacated by Takuma’s renowned brother.

This figured to be the most competitive match on the card and Ancajas (34-4-2) had his moments before Inoue ended the contest at the 0:44 mark of round nine with a four-punch combination climaxed by a shot to the liver. Heading in, Ancajas, who had a long title reign at 115, was 9-2-1 in world title fights and hadn’t previously been stopped.

In the first of the three title fights, 29-year-old Kosei Tanaka became a four-weight belt-holder in record time with a unanimous decision over Mexicali’s stubborn but out-classed Christian Bacasegua “Rocky” Rangel. At stake was the vacant WBO junior bantamweight title.

Tanaka, who previously held belts at 105, 108, and 112, started slow but the outcome was never in doubt after he knocked “Rocky” to the canvas in the eighth frame. The judges had it 119-108, 117-110, and 116-111. With the victory, Tanaka improved to 20-1 (11). In his only defeat, he was stopped by countryman Kazuto Ioka. He hunkers for a rematch but, if it happens, he might wish that it hadn’t. Ioka is long in the tooth – he turns 35 next month – but is very good and shows no signs of slowing down. Rangel (22-5-2) had won nine straight heading in, but against questionable opposition and was making his first start outside Mexico.

The Teiken Promotions card was presented in association with Top Rank and aired in the U.S. on ESPN+.

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