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The Roles Have Changed for Caleb Plant Who Isn’t Intimidated by Canelo Alvarez

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The Roles Have Changed for Caleb Plant Who Isn’t Intimidated by Canelo Alvarez

It seems highly unlikely, almost impossible even, for anyone to see certain parallels between Canelo Alvarez, widely considered to be the finest pound-for-pound boxer in the world, and Mike Lee, described by one veteran observer as a “glorified club fighter” who rose faster and higher than his skill level suggested because of an unusual background that for a time made him something of a media darling.

Not that he has said it in so many words, but it does seem possible that Caleb “Sweet Hands” Plant (21-0, 12KOs), who takes on the heavily favored Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) for the undisputed super middleweight championship of the world Saturday night at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, and who brutally dismissed Lee in an IBF title bout nearly 28 months ago, will draw from the same motivational bubbling well of dislike to achieve the desired result. The only difference is that this time, it is Plant who will be cast in the role of would-be usurper Lee. In some people’s eyes, anyway.

Alvarez’s WBC, WBO, WBA (super) 168-pound belts will be on the line in the PBC on Showtime Pay Per View telecast, as well as Plant’s IBF strap.

Plant, a 29-year-old native of the small town of Ashland, Tenn., who now resides in Las Vegas, considers himself the best super middleweight fighter on the planet, but it is an assertion that can’t and won’t be verified until the 10-to-1 longshot does what no one other than the great Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been able to do, which is to hang a defeat on the hugely popular Mexican national hero.  Becoming the first man to hold all four belts in his weight class from the most widely recognized sanctioning bodies should be ample enough reason for both parties to put forth their best effort on fight night, but Plant, not surprisingly, had been nursing a spark of resentment that he has since fanned into a raging bonfire.

It began when negotiations to stage the fight on its originally proposed date, Sept. 18, broke down over contractual issues. Alvarez then seemed set on arranging a fight with WBA (super) light heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol, but that, too, was scrapped and the Alvarez camp circled back toward Plant. But while an accord was finally reached, hard feelings on both sides had intensified, with Plant and his support crew accusing Canelo and his handlers of not only being difficult at the bargaining table, but of downplaying a history of cheating, a reference to Alvarez having served a six-month suspension in 2018 for testing positive for clenbuterol, a banned substance.

Of the protracted wrangling, Plant said, “We tried to sit down with them. They told me what I would get paid, the opportunity that I had in front of me and I said, `Yeah.’ There wasn’t much haggle room on my end. The opportunity was presented to me, I took it, I wanted it. But they came back asking for even more.  I can’t speak for their side for why things fell apart, but it had nothing to do with me. My side had been signed for weeks. When it fell apart, I just tried to be focused on the only thing that I could be in control of, which is making sure I was staying in the gym and doing what I was supposed to be doing. That way, if they came back around or not, I’d still be ready to fight whomever.”

And the charge of being a PEDs abuser Plant leveled at Canelo?

“I haven’t made any false allegations,” Plant said. “Everything I’ve said is factual. Whether he likes it or not, the facts are the facts. Maybe that’s what’s gotten under his skin, because he knows it’s true.”

The potential for some sort of premature skirmish was realized at a Sept. 21 press conference when Alvarez and Plan got nose-to-nose for the obligatory photo-op staredown, which resulted in a brief scuffle which Alvarez initiated with a hard shove to Plant’s chest. Plant came away with a cut below his right eye.

“This is new for me,” Canelo, who in most instances pays at least complimentary lip service to the guy he is about to fight, said later. “I’ve never had as much bad blood with an opponent as this one. Yes, this is the most animosity that I’ve had heading into a big prizefight.”

Ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr., who had an up-close-and-personal view of what went down, told me “It does seem that things can get out of hand more now at press conferences and weigh-ins. Staredowns, even intense ones, don’t have to lead to physical confrontations. I’m always pleased when the fighters shake hands and hug after the photos are taken. Boxing is a sport and you’re not supposed to let your focus or emotions out of control then.

“There’s so much of this now. And let’s be honest; it does sell tickets if something outlandish takes place. With Canelo and Plant, ticket sales definitely went up after that happened. But I don’t feel that was forced or staged. There was a lot of tension going on then, words were exchanged and it just got out of hand. So, yeah, it sure felt real.”

Not that the lead-up to Plant-Lee prior to their July 20, 2019, bout, the first defense of the IBF belt Plant had won on a 12-round unanimous decision over Venezuela’s Jose Uzcategui six months earlier, was any less confrontational on the part of the obviously miffed champion. To Plant’s way of thinking, Lee was a manufactured contender who, after logging 21 victorious bouts as a light heavyweight against middling opposition, was awarded a title shot in his first pro outing as a super middle because he was portrayed as unique because of factors that had little or nothing to do with the difficult road trod by most up-by-their-bootstraps fighters. An all-conference linebacker at his parochial high school, Lee began his college career at the University of Missouri before transferring to Notre Dame as a sophomore. While there, he won three consecutive Bengal Bouts intramural championships in addition to graduating with a 3.8 grade-point average in business. He reportedly had job offers from Wall Street which he put on hold to try his hand at boxing, in which he must have seemed like a wayward adventurer temporarily traipsing through a rough trade largely populated by rough customers like Plant.

The media, of course, was quickly drawn to the improbable tale of the personable, well-educated son of privilege who had spent part of his senior year at Notre Dame in Bangladesh, where he taught English and mathematics in addition to raising more than $100,000 that went toward the building of schools and health-care facilities in the Third-World country.

If anything could transform Lee into a prepackaged star upon his return to the U.S., it was the always-whirling Top Rank hype machine. After signing with TR founder Bob Arum, Lee compiled an 11-0 record before his contract expired, but even then he continued to remain firmly in the public eye as the result of his being one of several sports-world endorsers of the Subway sandwich-shop chain, a group that then included, among others, NFL stars Michael Strahan, Ndamukong Suh and fellow Notre Dame alum Justin Tuck, Olympic swimming gold medalist Michael Stewart, baseball slugger Ryan Howard, NBA standout Tony Parker and NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. He even was featured in a Subway ad that was seen by tens of millions of television viewers during Super Bowl Sunday in 2013.

In comparison to Subway’s other lineup of star pitchmen, Lee, who to that point had accomplished little of note, must have seemed famous mostly for being famous. In short order grumblers, Plant among them, intimidated that Lee had come onto the scene from Notre Dame’s Golden Dome with a silver spoon of caviar stuck in his mouth. The prevailing opinion was that boxing was his hobby, not his vocation, and he would step away from it whenever he decided it finally was time for him to take advantage of his degree, put on expensively tailored suits and head to work every morning carrying an expensive leather briefcase rather than a gym bag.

For his part, Lee tried to depict himself as much the same as other fighters. Yeah, his family had become well-off in monetary terms, but it had not always been so. And he said his paved and seemingly obstacle-free path to success had been marked by years of debilitating pain. His progress in boxing, he noted, was dramatically slowed when he began suffering constant back and joint pain. Eventually he was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease known as ankylosing spondylitis.

“I was told that I would never box again,” Lee said. “That really infuriated me because every time someone tells me I can’t do something, I want to do it twice. Doctors are smart and know what they are doing. I knew, though, that they didn’t know what I had in my heart and I was a different human being. I told them they were wrong, and I would figure it out and get back in the ring.”

Eighteen months later, in April 2014, Lee stopped Peter Lewis in six rounds, the start of a 10-fight win streak that got him his shot at Plant.

At the final prefight press conference, Plant listened to Lee’s tales of being an everyman who had had endured much in pursuing his boxing dream, and then it was the champion’s turn to speak. He immediately made it clear that he was not impressed by anything he had heard. Plant was dedicating the Lee fight to the memory of his late daughter, Alia, who died at 19 months old of an unknown illness which caused seizures, as well as to his mother, Beth Plant, who was shot and killed by a police officer for allegedly brandishing a knife in March 2019. Basically, he was saying, `OK, you just put your headaches and various aches and pain into the pot, so now I’m raising you two deaths in my immediate family.’

“You may have a financial degree, but in boxing I have a Ph.D.,” Plant, addressing Lee, said at the final press conference. “And that’s something you don’t know anything about.

“I’ve been doing this for 18 years straight – no breaks, no distractions and no Plan B. I commend you for doing this, but there’s no college degree for me. No high school sports, no acting gigs, no Subway commercials. Just boxing day in, day out, rain, sleet or snow.”

The fight, what there was of it, went as most had expected. Plant floored the overmatched Lee three times officially (four if you include another trip to the canvas perhaps incorrectly ruled a slip by referee Robert Byrd), the last knockdown convincing Byrd there was no need to proceed further. The end came after an elapsed time of one minute, 29 seconds into round three.

Mike Lee has not fought since.

So now Caleb Plant, the honest workman, is back at the same old stand, except that the guy in the other corner on Saturday night is so much more like him than Lee had been. Canelo Alvarez, now 31, turned pro at 15 and also came up the hard way, beating grown men with boundless talent and determination. Maybe he wasn’t always this dominant, but he had the potential to be so, and he would someday fulfill his destiny because boxing is not and never has been a hobby for him. He is who and what he is because he took his considerable skills and honed them to a razor’s edge, which he is again intent on displaying against someone with a like mindset.

“The media’s job is to make (Canelo) seem unbeatable,” Plant said. “That’s what they’re doing. But anyone who knows boxing and has seen him in with some of these high-level fighters – I’m talking about Triple G (Gennadiy Golovikin), I’m talking about (Erislandy) Lara, even Austin Trout – know he was beatable in those fights. There are things those guys were able to capitalize on, and I feel I possess a lot of those same skills, except I’m a full-fledged super middleweight. I’m not a 154-pounder, I’m not a middleweight. I’ve been fighting at this weight for a really long time. There are things I feel like – I know – I can capitalize on. On Nov. 6, that’s what I plan on doing.”

Asked for his final thoughts on Mike Lee, Plant said it’s not enough to have the benefit of good publicity. No spin doctor can help anyone inside the ropes, where truth is always there to be seen for what it is. “Not only was the media building him up, he was building himself up,” Plant opined. “I wanted to show him he wasn’t the real deal, that I’m the real deal. But that’s not just for him; it goes for any fighter that gets in there with me. I feel that way against anybody that’s in front of me. When the bell rings, all the talk stops. Who’s going to impose his will on the other man?

“I plan on imposing my will on Canelo and becoming the undisputed super middleweight champion.”

Editor’s Note: Bernard Fernandez, named to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the Observer category with the class of 2020, was the recipient of numerous awards for writing excellence during his 28-year career as a sportswriter for the Philadelphia Daily News. Fernandez’s first book, “Championship Rounds,” a compendium of previously published material, was released in May of last year. The sequel, “Championship Rounds, Vol. 2,” with a foreword by Jim Lampley, arrives this fall. The book, published in paperback, can be ordered through Amazon.com and other book-selling websites and outlets.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

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Australia’s Liam Paro Aims to Steal the Show on the Haney-Prograis Card

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These are heady days for the sport of professional boxing in Australia. Cruiserweight Jai Opetaia is the best fighter in his weight class. Tim Tszyu is a major star in the Land Down Under and his younger brother Nikita is lapping at his heels. Then there’s undefeated super lightweight Liam Paro, 27, whose profile will grow immensely if he can get past Cleveland’s Montana Love when they meet on Dec. 9 in San Francisco at the home of the Golden State Warriors. It’s a 12-rounder that will serve as the chief supporting bout to the showdown between Devin Haney and Regis Prograis.

Forget the fact that Matchroom honcho Eddie Hearn has seen fit to dress up this fight with some frivolous title; this is a good match-up. An undefeated southpaw, Liam Paro (23-0, 14 KOs) is coming off the best win of his career. Montana Love (18-1-1, 9 KOs) would likely be undefeated too if not for a bizarre disqualification in his most recent bout. He too is a southpaw.

Paro turned heads in is his last outing when he scored a brutal, one-punch, opening-round knockout of countryman Brock Jarvis. Paro was favored, bur Jarvis, a disciple of Jeff Fenech, Australia’ most famous living boxer, was accorded the better chance of ending the bout with one punch.

Paro vs. Jarvis, staged in October of last year in South Brisbane, marked Matchroom’s first foray into Australia. Paro has had two fights fall out in the interim. The British Boxing Board of Control pulled Paro out of a March 11, 2003 match in Liverpool, England with Robbie Davies Jr. when a routine but mandatory scan showed evidence of a facial fracture. Three months later, Paro was forced to withdraw from a title fight with WBA 140-pound belt-holder Regis Prograis because both of his Achilles tendons were inflamed, compromising his mobility.

The facial fracture, insists Paro, was a false positive; the test was defective. As for the Achilles issue, that’s cleared up. “It’s in my rear-view mirror,” he says.

Paro was raised in the city of Mackay which is near the Coral Sea coast of Queensland. His ancestors migrated here from Italy to work in the sugarcane fields. Unlike so many other dads, his father Errol, a welder in the steel industry, has no boxing background and isn’t directly involved in preparing his son for a fight. Errol is with his son in Las Vegas at the moment (Errol’s first visit to Sin City) and will be there with several other family members to cheer on Liam when he resumes his career in San Francisco on Dec. 9.

When healthy, Liam Paro can usually be found training at the Top Rank Gym in Las Vegas. The boxing infrastructure of the Southern Nevada city draws prizefighters from around the world. He has sparred extensively with Jamel Herring and has boxed with the likes of Shakur Stevenson and Devin Haney. Practicing his craft with fighters of that caliber may give him an edge when he touches gloves with Montana Love.

Montana Love

Montana Love came to the fore in August of 2021 when he stepped up in class and upset Russian tough guy Ivan Baranchyk on a Jake Paul promotion in Cleveland. Baranchyk’s handlers stopped the one-sided affair after seven rounds. Five weeks later, Love signed with Matchroom.

Montana Love

Montana Love

What followed was a third-round blast-out of 29-1 Carlos Diaz followed by a hard-earned 12-round decision over Gabriel Gollaz Valenzuela and then a match with Australia’s Steve Spark which marked Love’s debut as a top-of-the-marquee attraction in his hometown.

The fight between Love and Spark was even on two scorecards after five rounds. In the sixth, shortly after a clash of heads left Love with a bad cut over his left eye, Love pushed Spark out of the ring and was immediately disqualified by referee David Fields. It was a controversial call; a “terrible call” in the words of Eddie Hearn. For the record, after flipping over the top strand of rope, Spark landed on his feet and was fit to continue.

A 28-year-old father of three, Love has always had the vibe of a hungry fighter, a residue of the adversity he has had to overcome. His father died when he was three years old and his mother was only 38 when she passed away from colon cancer. In 2015, as his career was just getting started, he was remanded to prison on theft- and drug-related charges and served 16 months.

It’s rather ironic that Love will be facing an Australian opponent on American soil in back-to-back fights. Needless to say, he hopes that the second installment will go better than the first.

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The Murder of Samuel Teah Calls to Mind Other Boxers Who Were Homicide Victims

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There will be a boxing show this Friday at Philadelphia’s 2300 Arena, a low-budget card featuring the return of former IBF 130-pound world title-holder Tevin Farmer. During the event, there will assuredly be a somber moment when those in attendance stand and silently pay homage to Samuel Teah as the timekeeper tolls the traditional 10-bell farewell. Teah passed away last week on Black Friday, Nov. 24, another victim of America’s epidemic of gun violence. He was 36 years old.

Teah was shot in the mid-afternoon during an altercation that spilled onto the sidewalk of a street in Wilmington, Delaware, and died at a Wilmington hospital. As of this writing, there’s been no arrest, but the shooting was apparently not random. A bus driver for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority, Teah was purportedly in Wilmington (roughly 35 miles from his home in Philadelphia) to visit the mother of his child.

Samuel Teah fought as recently as this past May when he suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of journeyman Andrew Rodgers at a show in Pennsylvania’s Newton Township, reducing his record to 19-5-1. Two months earlier he had spoiled the undefeated record of Enriko Gogokhia, an Egis Klimas fighter (think Oleksandr Usyk and Vasily Lomachenko) on a card in Ontario, California. This embellished his reputation as a spoiler. Earlier in his career, he had spoiled the undefeated record of O’Shaquie Foster, winning an 8-round unanimous decision over the man that currently reigns as the WBC world super featherweight champion.

What made Teah’s death more tragic, if that were possible, were all the tragedies that he had overcome. He was born in Liberia when that country was embroiled in a civil war. The family escaped to a refugee camp in Ghana and eventually reached the United States, settling first in New York and then Philadelphia. On the day after Christmas in 2008, when Teah was 21 and working at a Home Depot, he lost six members of his family in a fire that swept his mother’s West Philadelphia duplex after a kerosene heater exploded.

For some, Teah’s violent death may call to mind the murder of another Philadelphia boxer, Tyrone Everett.

That’s an awkward comparison.

Tyrone Everett was a world-class fighter. Six months before he was shot dead by his girlfriend in May of 1977, Everett, then 34-0, lost a 15-round split decision to Puerto Rico’s Alfredo Escalera in a failed bid to win Escalera’s WBC junior lightweight title, a decision so rancid that it stands among the worst decisions of all time. Moreover, the circumstances of Everett’s murder were sordid. His girlfriend, no stranger to the police, fatally shot him after finding him with a transvestite and there was heroin in the apartment they shared. (Editor’s note: For more on this incident, check out the new book by TSS contributor Sean Nam: “Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, Fixed Fights, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing” available on Amazon).

Samuel Teah was no Tyrone Everett. A man of deep faith, Sam’s positive attitude, despite all his tribulations, was infectious. “Everyone liked Teah,” said prominent Philadelphia sports journalist Joe Santoliquito who, upon hearing of Teah’s death, tweeted, “he will always have a special place in my heart.”

While the circumstances are different in every case, Teah joins a long list of boxers who met a violent death. If we limit the list to fighters who were still active at the time of their passing, here are four that jump immediately to mind.

Stanley Ketchel

The fabled Michigan Assassin, Ketchel met his maker on Oct. 15, 1910, at a ranch in Conway, Missouri. In the immortal words of John Lardner, “Stanley Ketchel was twenty-four years old when he was fatally shot in the back by the common-law husband of the lady who was cooking his breakfast.”

Battling Siki

Famed for knocking out Georges Carpentier when the “Orchid Man” held the world light heavyweight title, Siki was only 28 years old when he was gunned down in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan on Dec. 15, 1925, but by then the Senegal-born Frenchman had already degenerated into a trial horse. Siki’s body was found in the middle of the street with two bullets in his back fired at close range by an assailant, never identified, who was thought to be avenging a beating he suffered at one of the speakeasies that Siki was known to frequent.

Oscar Bonavena

At age 33, Oscar Bonavena was still an active boxer when he was gunned down on May 22, 1976, on the outskirts of Reno, Nevada, at the front gate of the infamous Mustang Ranch, a legal brothel. Bonavena had come up short in his biggest fights, losing a 15-round decision to Joe Frazier and losing by TKO in the 15th round to Muhammad Ali, but the rugged Argentine was still a major player in the heavyweight division.

The shooter was a bodyguard for the brothel’s owner Joe Conforte, and rumor has that Conforte was the de facto triggerman, having Bonavena assassinated because the boxer was having an affair with Conforte’s 59-year-old wife Sally who was also Bonavena’s manager of record at this point in the boxer’s career. The story about it spawned “Love Shack,” a 2010 movie that despite a seemingly can’t-miss storyline and a formidable cast (Joe Pesci played Joe and Helen Mirren played Sally) proved to be a box-office dud.

Vernon Forrest

While all homicides are tragic, some are more distressing than others and the death of Vernon Forrest on July 25, 2009, was particularly gut-wrenching. Forrest was shot twice in the back by would-be robbers with whom he exchanged gunfire on July 25, 2009 at a gas station in Atlanta.

Forget the fact that Forrest was a two-division title-holder who had regained the WBC world super welterweight title in his most recent fight with a lopsided decision over Sergio Mora. Few in the sport were as widely admired. His philanthropic work included establishing group homes in Atlanta for the mentally disabled. His death came just two weeks after the death of Arturo Gatti who left the sport following a loss by TKO to Alfonso Gomez in July of 2007 and died under suspicious circumstances at age 37 at a hotel in Brazil.

We here at The Sweet Science send our condolences to Samuel Teah’s family and loved ones. May he rest in peace.

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Benavidez Dismantles Andrade: Will Canelo Be Next?

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SHOWTIME aired its final pay-per-view event tonight with a show that aired from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The four-fight PPV card included world title fights in the 140 and 130-pound divisions, plus an interim title fight at 168 and the return of former two-division title-holder Jarmall Charlo. The interim title fight was a battle of unbeatens between David Benavidez and Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade and that was the featured attraction.

Benavidez, 26, is big for the weight class and lived up to his new nickname, “El Monstro.” He had too much firepower for the 35-year-old Andrade, a 2008 Beijing Olympian who began his pro career at 154 and had won world titles in two lower weight classes. His big moment came in the waning seconds of round four when he knocked Andrade to his knees with a sweeping right hand. The fight turned brutally one-sided at that point although one of the judges had Benavidez ahead by only one point when the sixth round ended. But there would be no seventh round. Andrade’s corner wisely stopped the fight.

A consensus 7/2 favorite in man-to-man betting, Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs) began his pro career in Mexico at age 16. In his post-fight interview, he called out Canelo Alvarez while brashly predicting that he would be a legend before he left the sport (and you’ll get no argument from this corner). It was the first pro loss for Andrade (32-1).

Co-Feature

Jermall Charlo returned to the ring after a 29-month absence and scored a lopsided 10-round decision over Jose Benavidez Jr. The judges had it 100-90, 99-91, and 98-92.

This bout was slated for the catch-weight of 163 pounds. Charlo came in overweight (166.4) but the match went ahead. Benavides Jr, a world title challenger during his days as a welterweight, had his moments, but was outclassed by Charlo who advanced his record to 33-0 (22). Benavidez falls to 28-3-1.

Matias-Ergashev

In what shaped up as the most action-packed fight of the night, 31-year-old Puerto Rican Subriel Matias retained his IBF 140-pound title, battering Shohjahon Ergashev into submission in a match that was halted by Ergashev’s corner two seconds into the sixth round. The heavy-handed Ergashev, who was undefeated heading in, dominated the first round-and-a-half, but Matias (20-1, 20 KOs) gradually wore him down.

Matias, who avenged his lone defeat to Petros Ananyan with a dominant showing in the rematch, had become something of a forgotten man in the talent-rich 140-pound weight class, but tonight he showed that he belongs among the elite in the division. It was the first pro loss for Egrashev (23-1, 20 KOs), a southpaw from Uzbekistan who fights out of Detroit and had SugarHill Steward (formally Javan “Sugar” Hill) in his corner.

Garcia-Roach

In the pay-per-view opener, Lamont Roach (24-1-1, 9 KOs) wrested the WBA 130-pound title from Hector Garcia (16-2) with a well-earned split decision. The judges had it 116-111 and 144-113 for Roach with the dissenter favoring Garcia 114-113.

A 32-year-old Dominican southpaw, Garcia was making the first defense of the title he won from Roger Gutierrez, a belt he was allowed to keep after moving up to lightweight to challenge Gervonta Davis, a bout he lost on a ninth-round stoppage. Roach, an underdog in the betting making his first start in 16 months, had come up short in a previous world title fight, losing a decision to Jamel Herring in 2019.

Roach was trailing on two of the scorecards through 10 rounds in what had been a ho-hum fight. But he cranked up the juice in the homestretch, rocking Garcia in the 11th and flooring him with a right hook in the final stanza. Take away that knockdown (an illegal punch as it landed behind Roach’s head), and Garcia would have retained his belt with a draw.

Non-PPV

In his first start at 140 pounds, Puerto Rico’s Michel Rivera rebounded from his first pro loss (a wide decision at the hands of Frank Martin) with a unanimous 10-round decision over Sergey Lipinets. The judges had it 96-94 and 97-93 twice. Rivera, who improved to 25-1 (14) patterns his style and his persona after Muhammad Ali with whom he bears a strong facial resemblance.

It was the first fight in 16 months for the 34-year-old Lipinets (17-3-1), from SoCal via Kazakhstan. He rarely took a backward step but it wasn’t effective aggression.

In the opener on Showtime’s YouTube channel. 21-year-old super welterweight Vito Mielnicki Jr, now trained by Ronnie Shields, scored the best win of his career, advancing to 16-1 (11 KOs). The pride of Vineland, NJ, Mielnicki had Alexis Salazar on the canvas three times before the match was halted at the 2:27 mark of the opening stanza. Guadalajara’s Salazar (25-6) had been stopped only once previously.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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