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Ryan Garcia and Emmanuel Tagoe Battle for Elite Status

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When you look at Ryan “KingRy” Garcia you see all the ingredients of a mega star in the making, just not those of a prizefighter.

Hunched back, slightly tilted nose, missing teeth or slovenly look are not things one can check off the list of Garcia.

Hollywood stardom is more his calling say critics, not world of boxing.

Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) aims to disprove all those naysayers when he meets Ghana’s Emmanuel Tagoe (32-1, 15 KOs) on Saturday April 9, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. DAZN will stream the stacked Golden Boy Promotions card.

More than 15 months have passed since Garcia traded calculating blows with England’s Luke Campbell at another part of Texas. In that fight he was floored for the first time in his pro career and he immediately got up.

That knockdown could be the spark that leads the Southern California product to the top.

So far Garcia has fought the B+ fighters in the boxing universe where fighters are missing a key element or two such as a knockout punch, speed, endurance, strength, strategy or heart. Some fighters can lack one or two of these elements and still be a world champion. The A class fighters possess almost all these necessary pugilistic ingredients.

Tagoe insists he’s an A class fighter that only needs a chance to prove his talent.

“Nobody wants to fight me,” said Tagoe when he was in Los Angeles. “This is my opportunity to prove myself.”

In Tagoe’s very first pro fight at age 15, he stumbled and lost to another Ghanian fighter, Lante Addy, making his pro debut. After that loss by decision, he’s yet to lose again despite fighting for 18 more years.

“I see this fight as an opportunity for me,” said Tagoe who is promoted by DiBella Entertainment. “Now everybody will know me.”

Millions of people know Garcia on social media platforms, 8 million on Instagram alone. Since fighting professionally in the U.S. the Victorville, Calif. prizefighter with movie star looks has caught the eye of female fans, and his lightning-fast fists caught the eye of male boxing fans.

For various reasons Garcia has been unable to perform in the prize ring since beating Campbell at Dallas, Texas on January 2021. And since that time many changes have taken place including switching boxing trainers and gyms. No longer with Eddy Reynoso at San Diego, a move to Van Nuys, California has Garcia working under the tutelage of famed trainer Joe Goossen.

Anybody involved in the boxing game knows the Goossens. The name signifies boxing royalty, family loyalty and is responsible for bringing some of the best fighters ever seen in Southern California.

Goossen seems almost giddy with restraint.

“I’ve worked with world champions that had far less talent than Ryan,” said Goossen who mentored Diego Corrales, Joel Casamayor, Rafael Ruelas, Gabe Ruelas and Michael Nunn among many others.

Garcia comes from a tight-knit family that was always around boxing since he was a pre-teen. His younger brother Sean Garcia also boxed in the amateurs and his sisters followed both their brothers’ journeys from amateurs to pros. Boxing has been intertwined in their lives for decades.

Since arriving on the professional fight scene the lanky, dimpled fighter has blazed his way to stardom with dazzling highlight film knockouts that needed to be seen in slow-motion to be appreciated.

While training with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez he seemed to learn or acquire more restraint in talking about his foes, but when the time arrives the cloak of silence is ripped off and his words flow freely. It’s almost like being able to finally take a breath after being under water.

“I know he has been saying that facing me will be easy. But I can say one thing, my job is to not make his life easy in that ring. Fans should be ready to see me give this fight everything I got. If he can take a shot, it will be a good fight. If he can’t, he will be out of there very quick,” Garcia said with frankness.

On Saturday both Garcia and Tagoe seek to prove they belong among the A class fighters of the world.

“I can’t wait for Saturday. I’m going to show everyone,” said Tagoe.

“I just love to fight and just be better than the person in front of me,” said Garcia.

It’s the main event on a strong card.

World title Fight

In the co-main event WBA flyweight world titlist Naoko Fujioka fights WBC flyweight world titlist Marlen Esparza in a unification battle that also gives the winner the Ring Magazine championship.

If you know anything about women’s championship fights, they always seem to live up to expectations. The one drawback is that they are two-minute rounds, not three-minute rounds like the men.

Fujioka (19-2-1, 7 Kos) has won world titles in five different weight divisions including wins over Mariana “Barby” Juarez, Yokasta Valle and Shindo Go. She’s long been one of the best female fighters in the world.

“I’m so excited for this fight. It doesn’t matter to me that I’m in her hometown. I wanted to get a bigger name. I am here to represent Japan,” said Fujioka.

Esparza (11-1) has fought since childhood and earned a bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics and has proven to be fearless as a professional with wins over Ibeth Zamora and Anabel Ortiz. This fight with Fujioka once again proves that fearlessness.

“I’m going to put on a show, it’s going to be a good night,” said Esparza.

Gabe and Shane

Super middleweights Gabe Rosado (26-14-1, 15 KOs) and Shane Mosley Jr. (17-4, 10 KOs) are set to battle 10 rounds.

Rosado has become a fan favorite with his ability to wreck plans of young contenders with his array of skills and experience.

Mosley, the son of the great “Sugar” Shane Mosley, has risen to contender status with a toughness and grit that his dad possessed. Can he out-tough Rosado?

Photo credit: Tom Hogan / Hogan Photos / Golden Boy Promotions

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R.I.P. Les Bonano (1943-2022), Linchpin of Boxing in New Orleans

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Les Bonano, a fixture on the New Orleans area boxing scene for 50 years, passed away on Saturday night, May 21, at his home in Slidell, Louisiana, surrounded by his wife of 60 years, Mary, his four children and his eight grandchildren. Bonano, who had been in and out of the hospital in recent months with kidney problems, was 79 years old.

Bonano joined the New Orleans Police Department in 1965 and patrolled the French Quarter, one of America’s most harrowing beats. In 1974, while working for the New Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Department, he was charged with starting an intramural sports program to relieve tensions at the parish prison. He began with basketball and then added boxing. Somewhat later, he opened a gym and took to training, managing, and promoting fighters. He retired from law enforcement in 1981 to give boxing his full attention.

Bonano was poised to seize the moment when neighboring Mississippi legalized gambling in 1990. He carved out arrangements with Gulf Coast casino resorts in Biloxi and Bay St. Louis to keep his fighters’ busy. Many of the shows that he facilitated were mid-week shows that aired on the old USA cable network.

Bonano never had the satisfaction of managing a world champion, but he came awful close with Melvin Paul who lost a controversial decision to Charlie “Cho Choo” Brown in the inaugural IBF lightweight title fight. Others in Bonano’s stable who went on to compete for world titles include Jerry Celestine, Anthony Stephens, and John Duplessis. Celestine, a light heavyweight who fought Michael Spinks, was an alumnus of Bonano’s prison program.

More recently, Bonano promoted Jonathan Guidry, the Dulac, LA heavyweight who made a surprisingly strong showing against WBA (secondary) title-holder Trevor Bryan on a Don King promotion in Warren, Ohio.

In July of last year, Les Bonano was formally inducted into the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame with the class of 2021. “He is perhaps the final ruler of what remains of a fraying and depleted boxing kingdom in the formerly great fight city of New Orleans,” wrote Hall of Fame boxing writer Bernard Fernandez, a New Orleans native, in a tribute that ran on these pages.

We here at The Sweet Science send our condolences to the Bonano family. May he rest in peace.

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What’s Next for David Benavidez?

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What’s Next for David Benavidez?

POST-FIGHT REPORT BY TSS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT NORM FRAUENHEIM —

GLENDALE, AZ – Forget Canelo Alvarez.

That, at least, was the message from David Benavidez and his promoter late Saturday after he demolished David Lemieux in front of a roaring crowd at Gila River Arena in a Showtime-televised rout.

Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) has been talking about a super-middleweight showdown with Canelo for the last couple of years. His victory, a third-round stoppage of Lemieux, put him first in line for a shot at the World Boxing Council’s version of the 168-pound title, still held by Canelo

But that talk stopped. Canelo who?

It sounded as if Benavidez, the WBC’s interim champion, was ready to shut that door and move on, possibly to Caleb Plant or Jermall Charlo or David Morrell. He never mentioned Canelo during a post-fight news conference a couple of hours after bulldozing Lemieux, a former middleweight champion who was overmatched in every way.

“Plant, Charlo, Morrell, maybe we can put together a fight against one of those guys later in the year,’’ said Benavidez, who drew an estimated crowd of nearly 10,000 for the second straight time in an Arizona arena near his old neighborhood in Phoenix.

The question is whether Plant, or Charlo, or Morrell would be willing to face Benavidez. Lemieux was smaller and older. Still, it was scary to witness the beatdown delivered by Benavidez, who grew up about seven miles from Gila River, a National Hockey League Arena.

Benavidez, 25 and still a couple years from his prime, seemingly did it all. He started with body punches. At the end of the first round, he landed a lethal upper-cut, the first in what would prove to be an overwhelming storm. In the second, he knocked Lemieux through the ropes, leaving the Canadian bloodied, dazed and defenseless. At 1:31 of the third it was over. Lemieux (43-5. 36 KOs) did not attend the post-fight news conference. He was taken to a nearby hospital in Glendale.

“He’s a good fighter, a courageous fighter,’’ Benavidez said. “He did what those others wouldn’t do. He fought me.’’

Unlike Benavidez, his promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz mentioned Canelo, who is coming off a stunning loss to light-heavyweight Dimitry Bivol.

“Please, you guys need to quit asking about Canelo,’’ Lewkowicz told a room full of reporters. “We’re looking at three guys. We think we can put together a fight with Charlo, or Plant, or Morrell. But Canelo won’t fight David.

“He’ll never fight the world’s best super-middleweight.’’

Photo credit: Esther Lin / SHOWTIME

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The Middleweight Division has a New Star in Janibek Alimkhanuly

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Step aside, GGG. Kazakhstan has a new fistic hero and his name is Janibek Alimkhanuly. Tonight, at Resorts World in Las Vegas, Janibek (he usually goes by his first name) destroyed Britain’s intrepid Danny Dignum inside two rounds, scoring two knockdowns, the second of which, a five-punch combination climaxed by a short uppercut, left Dignum unconscious. Referee Tony Weeks waived the fight off immediately. The official time was 2:11 of round two.

With the victory, Janibek (12-0, 8 KOs) becomes the interim WBO middleweight champion. The belt is currently held by Demetrius Andrade who is expected to move to 168, opening the door for the 29-year-old Kazakh southpaw to become “full-fledged.”

Although he held the WBO European middleweight title and was undefeated (14-0-1) coming in, Dignum wasn’t expected to provide much opposition. Janibek was stepping down in class after stopping former title-holders Rob Brant and Hassan D’Dam D’Jikam in his previous two fights.

Janibek’s trainer Buddy McGirt doesn’t believe that there is a middleweight on the planet who can hold his own with Janibek (no, not even undefeated Jermall Charlo!) and based on tonight’s performance, it would be hard to argue.

Co-Feature

In the co-feature, youth was served as Jamaine Ortiz, the younger man by 10 years, won a unanimous 10-round decision over former WBO super featherweight champion Jamel Herring. The judges had it 96-94 and 97-93 twice.

Ortiz, from Worcester, Massachusetts, did his best work late in the fight as Herring’s workload declined. The bout was marred by several accidental clashes of heads with Herring getting the worst of it on each occasion.

“I could have done a lot better,” said Ortiz (16-0-1, 8 KOs) after winning the most high-profile fight of his career. Herring, who was making his first start with trainer Manny Robles, fell to 23-4 and hinted that he may retire.

Other Bouts of Note

The opener on ESPN’s main platform showcased Cleveland welterweight Delante “Tiger” Johnson, a 2020 Olympian, who advanced to 4-0 (3) with a third-round stoppage of Argentina’s Agustin Kucharski (8-5-1).

Johnson had Kucharski on the canvas twice in the first minute of the third round, both the result of counter right hands. Kucharski, who was making his U.S. debut and hadn’t previously been stopped, twisted around as he fell the second time and the white towel flew out from his corner. The official time was 0:54.

Glendale, CA featherweight Adam Lopez (16-3, 6 KOs) overcame a pair of knockdowns to win a unanimous 8-round decision over William Encarnacion. The judges had it 76-74 and 77-74 twice.

Lopez, 26, is one of two fighting sons of the late Hector “Torero” Lopez, a former two-time world title challenger who developed a big following in LA in the 1990s. Encarnacion who represented the Dominican Republic in the 2012 Olympics, lost for the third time in 22 starts.

Former WBO super bantamweight champion Jessie Magdaleno returned to the ring after an absence of almost two full years and whitewashed Mexico’s Edy Valencia in an 8-round featherweight contest, winning by 80-72 across the board. Las Vegas’ Magdaleno improved to 29-1 (4-0 since losing his belt to Isaac Dogboe). Valencia declined to 19-7-6.

Cincinnati featherweight Duke Ragan, a silver medalist in Tokyo improved to 6-0 with his fifth straight win by decision, a four-round whitewash of South Carolina’s Victorino Gonzalez (5-3).

In the ESPN+ opener, undefeated Chicago lightweight Giovanni Cabrera (20-0, KOs) won a unanimous 8-round decision over 34-year-old Argentine import Elias Araujo (21-5). The judges saw it 79-72, 77-74, and 75-73. There were no knockdowns, but Araujo lost a point for holding.

Cabrera lacks a hard punch which diminishes his upside, but he’s a stylish southpaw who has elevated his game since hooking up with Freddie Roach.

Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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