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Avila Perspective, Chap 183: Josesito Lopez and More Boxing Notes

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When Josesito Lopez bumps gloves with Cody Crowley before engaging in their expected slugfest, no titles will be given to the winner nor promises of a future world championship bid.

It’s simply fighter versus fighter.

Canada’s Crowley (20-0) faces Southern California’s Lopez (38-8) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Saturday April 16, knowing full well that their welterweight clash on Showtime pay-per-view will set the table for the night. Action is expected and action is almost guaranteed.

It’s not the main event, but one of those matchups devised by some evil genius to assure that fans are not left with a bitter taste should the main event between Errol Spence Jr. and Yordenis Ugas fall flat.

Consider it done.

Whenever Lopez (pictured) enters the prize ring the fighter known as “Riverside Rocky” – a nickname given by master PR man Bill Caplan – proceeds to excite or surprise fans with some kind of momentous event.

Lopez, 37, is one of the longest active fighters in the sport. He laced up for the first time in February 2003. I remember seeing the skinny former cross-country runner from Rubidoux High making his pro debut at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He was not expected to win by the promoter Top Rank that night, but won by knockout.

That debut win describes Lopez’s career.

For 19 years Lopez has been facing opposition that he was not expected to defeat and would emerge victorious. Riverside Rocky indeed.

Lopez was given that moniker after defeating Victor Ortiz who had just lost his welterweight world title to Floyd Mayweather. It was expected that Ortiz would handily defeat Lopez at the Staples Center but the Riverside fighter shocked fans with a stoppage by breaking Ortiz’s jaw.

After that win Lopez was tossed in against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in a super welterweight fight. For a few rounds he hung in there but was obviously overmatched against the bigger and stronger foe.

Promoters felt sorry for sacrificing Lopez to Canelo, so they decided to give him an easier fight. Next up was Marcos Maidana. This is not a joke. Lopez went from Victor Ortiz to Canelo Alvarez to Marcos Maidana.

For five rounds Lopez was out-fighting Maidana at the old Home Depot Center until the Argentine bomber connected with one of his bludgeoning sledgehammers. At the time, Maidana was not well known and nearly 8,000 Lopez supporters filled the stands. The win over Lopez set the stage for Maidana’s two fights with Floyd Mayweather.

That’s been Lopez stamp on the boxing game. Somehow, he’s always right in the middle of things.

Now Lopez faces 29-year-old Crowley a hardnosed fighter based in Las Vegas who hasn’t been given easy tests but passed with ease. The Canadian was last seen beating up Uzbekistan’s undefeated Kudratillo Abdukakhorov at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif.

Sound familiar?

Crowley and Lopez are two of a kind. They fight and don’t care who is in front of them. Expect a rumble of epic proportions.

Of course, the main event features Errol Spence Jr. against Yordenis Ugas in what should be an interesting battle in the welterweight unification clash. Ugas defeated the great Manny Pacquiao for the WBA version back in August. Pacquiao announced his retirement soon after the fight.

Early in England

Undefeated welterweight Conor Benn versus Chris Van Heerden headlines the Matchroom Boxing card on Saturday April 16, at Manchester, England. DAZN will stream the card at 11 a.m. (Pacific Time).

Every time Benn enters the ring, he visibly improves his fight game. In his last outing the son of Nigel Benn crushed former champion Chris Algieri in the fourth round. It was the kind of Mike Tyson outcome that convinces viewers and fans to pay attention.

Also, WBC super featherweight titlist Alycia “The Bomb” Baumgardner makes the first defense of her title against Argentina’s Edith Matthysse who did not make weight so cannot win the title.

America’s Baumgardner captured the belt when she knocked out Terri Harper in the fourth round with a single right.

Fights to Watch

Sat. 11 a.m. DAZN Conor Benn (20-0) vs Chris Van Heerden (28-2-1); Alycia Baumgardner (11-1) vs Edith Matthysse (17-11-1).

Sat. 6 p.m. Showtime ppv Errol Spence Jr. (27-0) vs Yordenis Ugas (27-4); Cody Crowley (20-0) vs Josesito Lopez (38-8); Isaac Cruz (22-2-1) vs Yuri Gamboa (30-4).

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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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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