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

David A. Avila

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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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Reconfiguring the Championship Rounds: What if There’d Been 3 More or 3 Less?

Jeffrey Freeman

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The true championship distance is 15 rounds insisted Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini when pressed about it. “I have a problem with guys who only had to go 12 and got into the Boxing Hall of Fame before guys who went 15. I lost against Alexis Arguello and Livingstone Bramble,” he said, “(but) I was winning after 12. So if it’s only 12 rounds, I’m undefeated! What would they say now if I beat those legends?”

Good question Good Son.

They’d say that Arguello folded you to a knee with a perfectly timed right cross at the very end of the 12th round and that had it been correctly ruled a knockdown, you’d have lost a 12-round decision to the defending WBC champion. They’d also say that Bramble got you in the rematch.

Still, the former lightweight champion from Youngstown, Ohio makes a fan friendly point that goes to the hypothetical heart of the ‘12 versus 15 rounds’ debate. How would boxing history be viewed differently if certain 15-round fights had been scheduled for 12 rounds and vice-versa?

Let’s look at 10 such fights and ask, what if?

Joe Louis KO 13 Billy Conn, 1941: Famously, the undersized underdog title challenger was ahead on two judges’ scorecards after 12 rounds and even on the third. If title bouts in the 40’s were 12-round affairs, the “Pittsburg Kid” might have danced off with Joe’s heavyweight championship of the world but no, he found out that you can run—but you cannot hide. Louis knocked Conn out in the 13th round and then again in the 8th round of their 1946 rematch.

Would three more rounds have made any difference for Anthony Joshua against Oleksander Usyk last Saturday in Tottenham, U.K.? Far behind on two of three scorecards after 12, the real question is would AJ have had the stamina to go 15 and/or would Usyk have stopped him?

Rocky Marciano KO 13 Jersey Joe Walcott, 1952: Arguably the most important of all “come from behind” knockouts, the determined challenger from Brockton, Mass was down on all three judges’ scorecards after 12 rounds were complete in Philadelphia but unfortunately for Walcott, this was still the era of 15-round world title fights. What if Marciano-Walcott was only scheduled for 12 rounds? Rocky either loses a unanimous decision and never becomes world heavyweight champion or he adjusts to the shorter distance and gets Walcott out of there sooner like he did in the rematch, blowing Walcott away in just 2 minutes and 25 seconds.

Mike Weaver KO 15 John Tate, 1980: As WBA heavyweight champion, John Tate knew nothing of 12- round title fights. He beat Gerrie Coetzee via 15-round decision to claim the vacant title and his first defense against Mike Weaver was scheduled for 15. Knowing he was behind on the cards and that he stood no chance of winning the title by decision, “Hercules” Weaver flattened Tate in the 15th and final round for a memorable come from behind KO. What if this particular bout was scheduled for 12 rounds? Tate would have probably retained his title by decision and possibly gone on to defend against Muhammad Ali. It might’ve been Tate who put the final touches on Ali and retired him for good. Instead it was Trevor Berbick who did the job.

Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns I & II, 1981—1989: When these welterweight champions first faced off in 1981, 15-round world title fights were still very much the norm in boxing. Ahead on points after 12 rounds, Hearns gave up the lead (and the superfight) by collapsing in the “true” championship rounds. Score it a TKO 14 for Sugar Ray Leonard. In the sequel eight years later, 12-round title fights were the new normal. Sugar Ray sure needed those three rounds back! If he’d had them, he might have chased a badly tiring Hearns out of the ring again for another “championship rounds” stoppage, instead he was saved by a Vegas draw while Hearns was arguably saved by the bell to end their rematch’s 12th and final round. The what if’s abound! In an alternate boxing universe, Hearns beat Leonard by decision in 1981 then gets knocked out in the 14th round of their 1989 rematch. What would they say now Ray?

Ray Mancini KO 14 Deuk Koo Kim, 1982: Widely credited with being the catalyst for the abolition of 15 round fights in boxing, Mancini-Kim was a “ring death” played out on national television. What if this WBA lightweight title fight was instead a 12-rounder? Mancini would still have kept his championship but perhaps Kim would still be alive. The worst of the abuse Kim absorbed from “Boom Boom” came in the 13th and 14th rounds of their “kill or be killed” war.

What if nobody had to die that day?

Marvin Hagler UD 15 Roberto Duran, 1983: After 12 close rounds in Vegas, the late great “Marvelous One” was down by enough points on the judges’ scorecards that had it gone to their totals after 12 rather than 15, Duran would have been declared new world middleweight champion, a feat he pulled off six years later in 1989 when he decisioned Iran Barkley over 12 to win the WBC middleweight title. Hagler got busy in the championship rounds to hold off the attempted coup and earn a ‘much closer than it should’ve been’ 15-round unanimous decision.

What if they’d robbed Hagler in a 12-rounder against Duran? My guess is that Hagler would’ve retired in 1984 and left Sugar Ray to wonder what might have happened if they’d ever fought.

Sugar Ray Leonard SD 12 Marvin Hagler, 1987: Of the many concessions made by Hagler to make the Superfight with Sugar Ray happen was an agreement to go 12 not 15 rounds. Both were experienced 15- round fighters but as the active, defending champion, it was Hagler who was more “tuned-in” for 15 rounders than his comebacking challenger. Could a tiring Leonard have gone three more rounds? He won the 10th and 11th but then gave away the 12th. Could Hagler have rallied in the “championship rounds” as he did against Duran four years prior? The thought of three more rounds excites me in a way the prospect of the fight itself once did.

But unfortunately, it’ll never happen.

Julio Cesar Chavez TKO 12 Meldrick Taylor, 1990: There was so much at stake when these two undefeated junior welterweight champions clashed that it should have been scheduled for 15. This was the best fighting the best. We all know what happened. Chavez was being given a boxing lesson by a brave Philly fighter but it hardly mattered because the beating he was laying on Taylor could no longer be ignored, even by the HBO crew who tried their gosh darndest. With 2 seconds left in a 12-round fight in which Taylor was way ahead (!) on two of three scorecards, referee Richard Steele cut through the ‘what if’s’ by stopping the fight with a badly busted up Taylor out on his feet after getting up from a dramatic knockdown in the bout’s final ten seconds.

What if Steele had let Meldrick go on knowing there were three more rounds scheduled and this was an elite unification match? Could Taylor hold on to his “lead” and finish the fight? I doubt it.

Sergio Martinez UD 12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., 2012: For ten rounds, the defending world middleweight champion was toying with the son of a legend. It was fun to watch. Then as if animated by performance enhancing DNA, Chavez Jr. almost duplicated the famous feat of his father. Hurting Martinez in the 11th and dropping him hard in the 12th, Chavez Jr. attacked like a manchild possessed. Martinez got up, punched back, and the final bell rang. What if there were three more rounds to go? Would Martinez have still survived the bigger man? We’ll never know. For Chavez the father and Chavez the son, the mas importante championship round was the 12th.

What’s the hook that connects Martinez-Chavez Jr. to Marciano-Walcott? It’s the late WBC President José Sulaimán. The familial godfather of Chavez Jr., Sulaimán came to Brockton in 2012 in the wake of the Martinez-Chavez fight to christen the new Rocky Marciano statue and to comment on the WBC middleweight title bout, telling me he believed it was well scored.

Now let me shock you.

After being mugged at Madison Square Garden in 2014 by Miguel Cotto, “Maravilla” Martinez retired to the land of misfit toys. You know that part. But did you also know that he fought twice last year and once last weekend against Brian Rose, winning all three? He looks good for 46!

What if Golovkin-Martinez finally happens?

And what does Boxing Hall of Famer “Good Son” Ray Mancini really think about the change from his era’s 15-rounders to today’s 12-round title fights? Was it all because he “killed” Kim?

“That was a TV decision not a medical decision. They wanted 12-round fights so they had an opening and a closing if the fight went the distance so it wouldn’t go over into the local newscast. Once people understand that, then they’ll understand why it’s 12 rounds now. I’ve talked to neurologists and brain surgeons. I’ve found out there is no proof that more damage is done in the last three rounds as opposed to the first 12. There have been fatalities in 12 round fights too.”

Will 10-round title fights be next?

Chavez Jr / Martinez photo credit: Naoki Fukuda

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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The Hauser Report: Oleksandr Usyk Upsets the Applecart

Thomas Hauser

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On Saturday night, Oleksandr Usyk won a unanimous decision over Anthony Joshua at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London to claim the WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight titles. With that victory, Usyk follows in the footsteps of Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko to become the third heavyweight beltholder from Ukraine.

Joshua has an elegance about him. Unlike some heavyweights at the top of today’s class, he seems rational and sincere when he speaks. “The world is cruel,” he told Sky Sports a year ago. “You’ve got to have a thick skin. One minute you’re on top of the world, and the next minute you’re not. That’s the name of the game we’re in.”

“AJ” has accomplished a lot in the past ten years. He won a gold medal in the super-heavyweight division at the 2012 London Olympics, became enormously popular in his homeland, and has earned tens of millions of dollars fighting. What he hasn’t done is prove himself to be a great fighter. The promise that seemed to be there after he climbed off the canvas to beat Wladimir Klitschko in an enthralling spectacle before 90,000 screaming fans at Wembley Stadium in 2017 never fully blossomed.

The Klitschko fight changed Joshua. Instead of gaining confidence from walking through fire and prevailing, he seemed to be a more tentative and vulnerable fighter afterward. Less-than-scintillating victories over Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker, and Alexander Povetkin followed. Then promoter Eddie Hearn brought Joshua to America to showcase him at Madison Square Garden against the corpulent Andy Ruiz. Shockingly, Ruiz knocked AJ down four times and stopped him in seven rounds.

Six months later in Saudi Arabia, Joshua gained a measure of revenge when he outboxed a grossly-out-of-shape Ruiz to reclaim his belts. But AJ hardly looked like a conqueror. A good jab doesn’t just score points and keep an opponent at bay. It cuts; it hurts; it shakes up the opponent. Against Ruiz the second time around, Joshua threw a stay-away-from-me jab all night. As Jimmy Tobin wrote, it was as though he’d been transformed “from wild boar to truffle pig.”

A cautiously-fought victory over Kubrat Pulev followed. “It’s easy to watch on YouTube and be confident,” Joshua said afterward. “Easy to watch from the outside. But when you’re in front of someone, actually in the ring, it’s a completely different ballgame.”

Usyk, like Joshua, won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics (Oleksandr’s was in the heavyweight division). He’d distinguished himself in the professional ranks by unifying the cruiserweight titles and had become the mandatory challenger for AJ’s IBF belt by virtue of lackluster victories over Chazz Witherspoon and Dereck Chisora.

Joshua was a 5-to-2 betting favorite. Usyk is a tricky southpaw with a 18-0 (13 KOs) professional record. But AJ has heavy hands and a devastating uppercut. Twenty-two of his 24 victories had come by knockout. His chin is suspect but Oleksandr was deemed ill-equipped to exploit that vulnerability. All one had to do was watch Usyk struggle against Witherspoon and Chisora to conclude that AJ was too big a mountain for him to climb. There’s a reason that there are weight classes in boxing.

At the weigh-in, Joshua was twenty pounds heavier than Usyk. It was, one observer opined, “a fight between a heavyweight and a wanna-be heavyweight.” The greatest threat to Joshua seemed to be Joshua.

One day before the bout, AJ was asked what would be next on his schedule after fighting Usyk. The assumption was that his next opponent would be the winner of Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder (who are scheduled to fight on October 9).

“I’ve got a rematch clause if the worst happens,” Joshua answered. “So, if I lose, I’m fighting Usyk again; the undisputed gets put on hold. If I win, I’ll fight either one of them. If Fury wins, I’ll fight Fury. If Wilder wins, I’ll fight Wilder.”

That answer was remarkable. Fighters often hype their opponent to build a promotion. But the phrase “if I lose” rarely escapes their lips.

On fight night, the atmosphere was electric. The 65,000-seat Tottenham Hotspur Stadium had been sold out within twenty-four hours of tickets going on sale.

On DAZN’s televised undercard, Florian Marku won a split decision over Maxim Prodan. Then Callum Smith scored a scary one-punch knockout of Lenin Castillo. Next up, Sonni Martinez (a 2-and-4 fighter whose victories had come against fighters with 4 wins in 20 fights) exposed Campbell Hatton’s deficiencies as a fighter and also Marcus McDonnell’s deficiencies as a referee and judge. McDonnell’s 58-57 scorecard (he was the sole arbiter) in Hatton’s favor was disgusting. After that, Lawrence Okolie predictably knocked out an overmatched Dilan Prasovic in three rounds.

Joshua seemed to enjoy the fireworks and blaring music that accompanied his ring walk. It had been a long time since he’d fought before a large roaring crowd in England. The stage was set. Then the fight started.

For Joshua loyalists, the contest was akin to opening a beautifully-wrapped present on Christmas morning and finding bath towels inside instead of a much-desired stylish coat.

Usyk began cautiously, moving around the ring, throwing jabs like a pesky fly. AJ looked clumsy and a bit befuddled. Oleksandr’s southpaw style was giving him trouble. The proceedings brought to mind the advice that trainer Emanuel Steward gave to Lennox Lewis on the night that Lewis fought Ray Mercer. The plan that night had been for Lennox to outbox Mercer. Except the plan wasn’t working. In the middle rounds, sensing that the fight was slipping away, Steward told Lewis, “Just f***ing fight him.” Lennox did as instructed and won a narrow decision.

Rob McCracken (Joshua’s trainer) should have given AJ the same advice. When AJ went to Usyk’s body (which was hittable), he seemed to hurt him. But he didn’t do it often enough. Instead of trading with Usyk, for most of the night Joshua seemed reluctant to let his hands go and looked less interested in hitting than concerned about getting hit.

Joshua came on a bit in the middle rounds but then relinquished control again. He needed to impose his size and strength on Usyk but didn’t. He didn’t fight like a heavyweight champion is supposed to fight.

As the bout progressed, Usyk suffered cuts above and below his right eye. AJ’s nose was bloodied and there was a pronounced swelling beneath his right eye.

Usyk fought the final two rounds as though he needed them to win. Joshua fought the final two rounds like a beaten fighter and was in trouble at the final bell.

Give the judges credit for honest scoring. Their 117-112, 116-112, 115-113 scorecards were on the mark.

“This was the biggest fight in my career, but it wasn’t the hardest,” Usyk said afterward. “There were a couple of moments where Anthony pushed me hard but nothing special.”

So much for the megafight between Joshua and the winner of Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder. If the scenario that unfolded in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday night seemed similar to Joshua-Ruiz I upending the planned megafight between Joshua and Wilder two years ago, that’s because it was.

The loss to Ruiz raised questions about Joshua. Joshua-Usyk answered them. AJ is a good heavyweight, not a great one.

Photo credit: Mark Robinson / Matchroom

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His next book – Broken Dreams: Another Year Inside Boxing – will be published in October by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. In 2019, Hauser was selected for boxing’s highest honor – induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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Adelaida Ruiz Grabs WBC Silver Title in Pico Rivera and More

David A. Avila

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Adelaida Ruiz Grabs WBC Silver Title in Pico Rivera and More

Finally.

Adelaida “La Cobra” Ruiz grabbed the WBC Silver super flyweight title with an emphatic beating of veteran Mexican fighter Nancy Franco by late stoppage on Saturday night.

After waiting for most of her adult life to win a title, Ruiz (10-0-1, 5 KOs) showed off her superiority with a nonstop barrage of blows to power pass Franco (19-15-2) in front of more than 1,400 fans at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena in Pico Rivera.

Six months ago, Ruiz thought she had an opportunity to win a title against Sonia Osorio, but a clash of heads early in the fight forced a stoppage due to an ugly cut. That fight ended in the second round in a technical draw according to WBC rules.

No cuts this time.

Ruiz flashed those quick three-punch combinations and whenever Franco returned fire it was never enough. Round after round the Los Angeles fighter who could not fight for 10 years due to parenting duties caring for three children, would batter Franco to show off the ability to slip or move just out of range.

In the eighth round Ruiz did not stop after her regular three-punch combinations and delivered an intense six-punch blast of fire that had Franco reeling. It looked like the end was coming soon but the Mexican fighter survived.

Franco was not so lucky in the ninth round. Ruiz continued the assault with a nonstop barrage and Franco tried to reciprocate, but it was not an even exchange. The pure savagery of the attack by the L.A. fighter forced referee Raul Caiz Jr. to inch closer and when a blow connected flush the experienced referee stepped in and stopped the assault at 1:20 of the ninth round.

Ruiz finally could claim a title.

It was a good stoppage especially after the boxing world lost a young fighter several weeks ago named Jeanette Zacarias Zarate. She was only 18 and was unable to succumb to injuries in the prize ring. During intermission a moment of silence was given in honor of the Mexican fighter.

Maricela Wins

Maricela Cornejo (14-5, 5 KOs) returned to action with a six-round decision win over Florida’s gritty Miranda Barber (2-3) who recently fought and won by first round knockout in New York three weeks ago. Not this time.

Cornejo continues to add new elements to her game. In front of a supportive audience the Mexican-American fighter was rarely in trouble against Barber who never slowed down her attack. Though Cornejo connected often, Barber only increased her attack whenever hit with a big blow. But it was never enough against the seasoned Cornejo.

The middleweight contender looked calm and professional throughout the six round fight that pleased the loud audience that included boxing great Claressa Shields sitting a few rows away from the ring. A match between the two has been talked about ever since Shields entered the professional scene in 2016 after her second Olympic gold medal win. This could be a future battle soon. Cornejo has shown that she can drop down to 154 where Shields currently dominates.

Other Bouts

Rudy Garcia (12-0) had little trouble against Mexico’s Ronaldo Solis (4-2-1) in a winning a decision after six one-sided rounds of a featherweight clash.

Ernesto Mercado (2-0) won by stoppage in the first round after Osmel Mayorga (2-2) was floored and unable to continue after the first round of a super lightweight fight.

Tenichtitlan Nava (8-2-1) and Adrian Leyva (2-2-1) were evenly matched featherweights and it ended in a split draw.

Tyrell Washington (4-0) continued his undefeated streak with a win by unanimous decision over Rodrigo Solis (4-8-1) after six rounds in a welterweight bout.

Japhethlee Llamido (5-0) defeated Victor Saravia (1-2) by unanimous decision in a fight that was competitive in each round. Llamido was a former sparring partner for Japan’s Naoya “Monster” Inoue.

Other winners were Carlos Rodriguez (1-0) and Alejandro Reyes (4-0).

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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