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‘KO’ Rates the Top 12 Boxers from New England

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As the New England correspondent for The Sweet Science boxing website, it again falls upon me to produce an annual accounting of the top-rated professional boxers from Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont. Last year’s New England ratings were topped by Ocean State middleweight Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade.

Andrade continues to hold on to the top spot in 2022 but for how much longer? The now former WBO middleweight champion has given up his belt (and his promoter Eddie Hearn) after an uninspiring three-year title reign failed to produce any marquee matchups for Andrade at 160 lbs.

Jermall Charlo recently called out Andrade but we all know “Boo Boo” doesn’t want that smoke.

The biggest mover in these ratings is Jamaine Ortiz, the undefeated lightweight “Technician” from Worcester, Mass. Rated in my number eleven spot last year, Ortiz (pictured on the left against Nahir Albright) is now second only to Andrade in New England and he is a legitimate world rated contender on the verge of a title shot.

Top Rank has confirmed that Ortiz will face Vasyl Lomachenko later this year, likely in New York on Oct. 29. Ortiz previously sparred with “The Matrix” and aims to upset the defensive wizard.

KO’s Top 12 New England Ratings

1. Demetrius Andrade, Providence, Rhode Island: Now 34 years of age, time is becoming a factor for the former WBO middleweight champion. Big fights at moneyweight didn’t happen and Andrade is poised to move up to super-middleweight where he will chase after Canelo after meeting the unheralded Zach Parker in an interim title fight.

The tricky southpaw was supposed to fight Parker last May in the U.K. but the bout was scrapped when Andrade pulled out with a questionable shoulder injury.

No longer promoted by Eddie Hearn, Andrade (now 31-0 with 19 knockouts) has not fought since November of last year when he made his final defense of the WBO middleweight title, annihilating Jason Quigley in two very mismatched rounds in Manchester, New Hampshire. Andrade was actually upstaged on that night by another fighter from Providence—unified female super lightweight champion Kali Reis.

2. Jamaine Ortiz, Worcester, Massachusetts: What a difference a year makes. Ortiz has fought and won twice in 2022; beating Nahir Albright for the NABF lightweight title last February and then unanimously decisioning former world champion Jamel Herring last May in Las Vegas.

Now 16-0-1 with 8 knockouts, Ortiz is New England’s most promising up-and-comer. He’ll be a big underdog against Lomachenko but if he wins, the winner of Haney-Kambosos 2 awaits him.

3. Richard Rivera, Hartford, Connecticut: Another big mover in these New England ratings is 21-1 cruiserweight “Popeye” Rivera. The stick-and-move specialist looked great on the Uysk-AJ undercard battling Badou Jack to a hard-luck split-decision loss over ten rounds.

Rivera showed a very good chin, nifty boxing skills, and a faithful determination to his craft.

Promoted by Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing, the 31-year-old Rivera vows to become a world champion. After the Jack debacle in Saudi Arabia, Rivera put the boxing world on notice. “I’m a force to be reckoned with,” he said.

(A couple days after the Jack disappointment, I followed up with Rivera to find out what’s next. “I’m filing an appeal,” he told me. “I’m not sure what will come of it but I definitely want a rematch on US soil. Whether or not I get the rematch, I’ll be training and waiting for any opportunity that comes my way.”) Rivera has 16 knockouts on his record.

4. Rashidi Ellis, Lynn, Massachusetts: The 29-year-old “Speedy” Rashidi is now 24-0 (15) after a 2022 move to junior middleweight where he stopped Jose Maruffo in one round in Texas.

Ellis’ career appears to be slowing down even if he isn’t. Inactivity has been costly for Ellis. Sister Rashida competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and she looks ahead to 2024 in Paris.

5. Kendrick Ball Jr., Worcester, Massachusetts: The 19-1-2 (12) Ball has bounced around the New England boxing scene since turning pro in 2016. He won a stay-busy fight last July on a Rivera Promotions show in Worcester, Mass. Ball can box a little and he did beat Bryan Vera.

At 29, Ball Jr. now competes as a light heavyweight. A 2021 TKO loss to Mike Guy in Springfield, Mass was changed to a NC when Guy tested positive for anabolic steroids.

6. Mykquan Williams, Hartford, Connecticut: After a 2021 automobile accident in which he broke his wrist, “Marvelous” Mykquan has won twice in 2022 to keep alive his status as the region’s top overall prospect. Now 18-0-1 (8) as a super-lightweight, it’s time for Lou DiBella and Jackie Kallen to introduce their undefeated fighter to bigger audiences and to better opponents.

7. Ronald Ellis, Lynn, Massachusetts: After upsetting Matt Korobov in 2020, “Akeem” Ellis has gone 0-2 against David Benavidez and Christian Mbilli. Ellis was stopped by Benavidez and then shut out on the scorecards against the unknown Mbilli. Ronald is yet to compete in 2022.

The elder Ellis brother is 18-3-2 with 12 knockouts. He made his pro debut way back in 2011.

8. Cassius Chaney, New London, Connecticut: This 35-year-old heavyweight lost for the first time as a pro last December, dropping an 8-round split decision to undefeated George Arias in New York. Chaney bounced back with a recent win at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut but here’s the skinny on the super-sized Chaney: he lacks passion in his profession and he paws with his punches. The big man is 22-1 (15) but it’s hard to see him making a splash at the world level.

9. William Foster III, New Haven, Connecticut: Known as the “Silent Assassin” due to his quiet demeanor, this 15-0 super featherweight is still in 8-rounders but not for long. Foster defeated two tough cookies on their own turf in 2022. Last January he beat undefeated Edwin De Los Santos in the Dominican Republic and in March he beat Philly fighter Avery Sparrow in Philly.

His older brother Charles Foster, 32, is an undefeated light heavyweight with a 21-0 (11) record. The heavier Foster holds victories over Denis Grachev and “Iron Magik” Alvin Varmall Jr.

10. Mark DeLuca, Whitman, Massachusetts: Now 28-3 after an upset loss (UD8) in 2022 to Edward Ulloa Diaz in the Dominican Republic, “Bazooka” DeLuca is now 34 and on the slide. The 2020 TKO loss to Kell Brook will probably be the biggest highlight of DeLuca’s pro career.

11. Greg Vendetti, Stoneham, Massachusetts: Following his 2020 unanimous decision defeat at the hands of Erislandy Lara, the junior middleweight “Villain” Vendetti has almost all but fallen off the map. Vendetti beat Jimmy Williams last year in Hartford to improve his record to 23-4-1 (12).

12. Brandon Berry, West Forks, Maine: Unranked in these New England ratings last year, Berry enters after picking up a UBO title at super-welterweight by stopping previously unbeaten Juan Manuel Witt (33-0-2) with a well placed sixth-round body punch last June. Perpetually on the comeback trail from adversity, Berry added another loss to his ledger in 2021 after a decision defeat in NH to journeyman Travis Castellon. “The Cannon” is now 24-6-2 with 17 knockouts.

Honorable Mentions: Tramaine “The Mighty Midget” Williams (New Haven, Connecticut), Francis “Frank The Tank” Hogan (Weymouth, Massachusetts), and Mike “Bad Man” O’Han Jr. (Holbrook, Massachusetts).

Williams is a 20-1 (6) super bantamweight southpaw with a great nickname. Standing just 5 foot 4, Williams flies under a lot of radars. In 2020, he challenged Angelo Leo for the vacant WBO super bantamweight title, dropping a 12-round unanimous decision. He’s only fought once since.

Hogan is 12-0 (11) as a tall middleweight and he just knocked out Cleotis Pendarvis in four at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. Only 21, Hogan is one of Jimmy Burchfield’s best young fighters.

Standing 6 foot 2, I’ve heard Hogan compared to former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik.

O’Han is following in the footsteps of his father who also fought professionally. Very active since debuting in 2017, O’Han is a 16-1 (9) club show welterweight. Papa O’Han was active in the region’s club show scene from 1983 to 1995 going 14-6-2 (11) as the original “Bad Man” O’Han.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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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Artur Beterbiev: “I’d prefer to fight Bivol because he has the one thing I need”

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Russian Artur Beterbiev, triple champion of the 175-pound division, is the only current world champion who, thanks to the enormous power he wields in his fists, has won all his fights inside the distance.

Beterbiev has 18 victories by way of chloroform since he debuted as a professional fighter in June 2013 when he anesthetized retired American, Christian Cruz, in the tenth round at the Bell Center in Montreal where Beterbiev currently resides.

Beterbiev, who turned thirty-eight last Saturday, will defend his WBC, IBF, and WBO titles against Brit Anthony “The Beast from the East” Yarde (23-2, 22 KOs) on Saturday, January 28th at the OVO Arena in London.

Beterbiev obtained the WBO belt on June 18th this past year when he defeated American Joe Smith (28-4, 22 KOs) in the second round at Madison Square Garden. This was Smith’s second defense of the belt.

Earlier, in November 2017, Beterbiev won the vacant IBF belt after defeating German Enrico Koelling (28-5, 9 KOs) by knockout in the twelfth round in Fresno, California.

Two years later, Beterbiev seized the WBC belt from Ukrainian Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) in Philadelphia. Three knockdowns in the tenth round forced referee Gary Rosato to stop the lopsided bout with 11 seconds remaining in the round.  Beterbiev maintains that although his intention is to win each fight, in no way does he want to harm his rival and that his greatest wish is for both of them to leave the ring healthy.

Referring to his upcoming matchup, Beterbiev told BoxingScene that “after the fight, I just hope he (Yarde) is okay.”

He acknowledged that he does not know much about the British boxer, although he has watched several of his fights: “He’s a good fighter, has good experience as a professional and he’s a boxer. He’s dangerous so I have to prepare for this fight like I always do.”

Beterbiev said that his main motivation is to successfully defend the three belts he owns and that is why he will try to be one hundred percent ready and then it will be evident who is the better fighter.

Regarding his knockout streak, Beterbiev emphatically denied that he enjoys knocking out his opponents: “No. There’s no pleasure in it. I just hope everything is OK with them. I just want to do good boxing, not hit people.”

Beterbiev smiles enigmatically and stares at the horizon when they ask him to what he attributes the strength of his fists to. “I know for sure, 1000 percent, that the secret to my power is somewhere in my boxing gym but I don’t know exactly where,” he adds. “I don’t know which exercise or bag gave me this secret. I don’t know where it comes from. I wasn’t always like this either, it has come from working every day. But really my dream is to be a good boxer one day.”

Aside from the upcoming fight with Yarde, Beterbiev acknowledges in each interview that his goal is to be the undisputed champion of the division, which means facing (and defeating) the undefeated Russian Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs), who holds the WBA light heavyweight super championship belt.

“I need Bivol,” Beterbiev admits. “I’d prefer to fight Bivol because he has the one thing I need. I hope I fight him in 2023 but the hold-up is not from my side, it’s from their side. In the last three years he always says he will fight me next but in this time we’ve done unification fights against Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Joe Smith. We’ve done that whereas he has just been talking about it.

Beterbiev recalled that he was with Bivol on the Russian national team where they were amateurs. “I knew him then, but he is younger than me. We haven’t talked for 10 years now. He was 75kg back then, too small for me. We were never friends.”

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Alvarez in Spanish.

 Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: A New Foe for Broner and an Intriguing Heavyweight Match-up

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Boxing Odds and Ends: A New Foe for Broner and an Intriguing Heavyweight Match-up

BLK Prime’s inaugural venture went off without a hitch. An announced crowd of 14,630 turned out in Omaha to watch native son Terence Crawford dismantle David Avanesyan. BLK Prime’s second promotion, slated for Feb. 25 at a 5,000-seat venue in Atlanta, has been messy from the get-go. The executives at the fledgling company, based in Hayward, California, are learning to their dismay that the sport of professional boxing is governed by Murphy’s Law: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

Adrien Broner’s nickname is “The Problem” (how perfect!) but the problem isn’t him but finding a suitable opponent for the former four-division title holder who purportedly signed a three-fight deal with BLK Prime that will pay him an absurd $10 million. As reported in a story that ran on these pages last week, Broner’s original opponent Ivan Redkach pulled out and was replaced by Hank Lundy. Today (Tuesday, Jan. 24) it was revealed that Lundy was also off the card and would be replaced by Michael Williams Jr.

Prior to being lopped off the card, it was reported that Hank Lundy had been suspended by the California Athletic Commission for failing to honor his contract to fight up-and-comer Ernesto Mercado (8-0, 8 KOs) on Feb. 4. The match was to be an 8-rounder in Ontario, California. According to prominent boxing writer Jake Donovan, Lundy provided paperwork to the California commission showing that he was unable to keep his commitment because of a cut he suffered in sparring.

Some state athletic commissions automatically honor a suspension handed down in another jurisdiction. Other commissions evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis. It’s a fair guess that had Lundy kept quiet about the (alleged) injury, the Georgia commission would have allowed the Broner-Lundy match to go forward. Regardless, he’s out and, barring more upheaval, Broner (pictured) will be touching gloves with Michael Williams Jr.

The son of an Army veteran who serves as his chief trainer, Williams Jr, 23, was born in Fort Riley, Kansas, and grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina, home to Fort Bragg. As a pro, he’s 20-1 with 13 KOs but those 20 wins came against a motley bunch of opponents and he failed miserably on the one occasion that he stepped up in class. On Dec. 11, 2021, he was stopped in four rounds by fellow unbeaten John Bauza on a Top Rank card at Madison Square Garden. Williams suffered five knockdowns before the match was halted. “He’s got a lot to work on. There are some glaring issues here,” said ringside TV commentator Andre Ward.

Although the Fayetteville area has long had a reputation as pugilistic feed lot (a place where boxers go to fatten up their records), the feeling is that Williams may have been awed by his surroundings that night in the Big Apple, hence his poor showing. During the early portion of his career, he was co-trained by Roy Jones Jr who reportedly hooked up with the young junior welterweight after witnessing him bully a bunch of ex-cons while sparring at a gym in New Orleans.

Does he have the tools to make things interesting against Adrien Broner? Likely not, but Broner tends to fight down to his level of competition, so it wouldn’t surprise us if Williams wins a few rounds.

Heavyweights at the Crossroads

SHOWTIME drops anchor in San Antonio on Feb. 11 with a card headlined by a match between Rey Vargas and O’Shaquie Foster. They will compete for the WBC 130-pound world title vacated by Shakur Stevenson.

Truth be told, this isn’t a contest that gets our juices flowing. The undefeated Vargas, who has won world titles at 122 and 127, is a solid technician but doesn’t fight with pizzazz. He hasn’t won a fight inside the distance since 2016. Foster is on a nice roll – he’s won nine straight, advancing his record to 19-2 — but likewise lacks charisma.

The pay-per-view opener, however, seized our interest. It’s that very rare contest between two rising heavyweights at the same juncture of their respective careers. On paper there’s little to choose between Viktor Faust (11-0, 7 KOs) and Lenier Pero (8-0, 5 KOs). Both are the same age (30), are roughly the same size (in the six-foot-five and 240-pound range) and were outstanding amateurs.

Faust

Viktor Faust, aka Viktor Vykhryst, is from the Ukraine. In 2017, he won the European amateur title, defeating future Olympian Frazer Clarke in the finals. He turned pro in 2020, spurning an opportunity to represent Ukraine in the Tokyo Olympics.

Faust, says prospect watcher Matt Andrzejewski, is extremely fluid for his size and his hand speed is well above average. He also has one-punch knockout power as he demonstrated in his third pro fight when he starched the Spaniard, Gabriel Enguema. However, his most recent fight on U.S. soil, a match in Hollywood, Florida, against Iago kiladze, left many questions unanswered.

This was a wild and wooly affair that ended in the second minute of the second round. Kiladze was down three times and Faust twice during the tumult. Because Kiladze was on the small size for a heavyweight, one was left wondering whether Faust could have weathered the storm if he were matched against a bigger man.

Since that scuffle, Faust has added two more wins to his ledger, comfortable 8-round decisions over 40-something gatekeepers Kevin Johnson and Franklin Lawrence.

Pero

Lenier Pero, a Cuban defector, was never an Olympian, but had a more extensive amateur career. He was 9-3 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing but what really stands out is that he was 5-1 against countryman Frank Sanchez who has made great headway as a pro since leaving Cuba in 2017 and is currently ranked #3 by the WBC and #2 by the WBO.

Although the amateur careers of Faust and Pero overlapped, their paths never crossed. However, Faust did fight Lenier’s younger brother Dainier Pero who is currently 2-0 as a pro and may actually be a better prospect than his sibling. Faust and Dainier Pero met in 2018 at a tournament in the Ukraine and the Cuban won a close decision.

Perhaps that’s an omen. Regardless, Lenier Pero looks like the right side in what has the earmarks of an entertaining shootout.

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David Benavidez and Caleb Plant Both Want ‘Canelo’ Álvarez

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American Fighter David Benavidez has been in constant pursuit of an opportunity to face Canelo Álvarez and, until now, it has been an unrealizable dream. For his compatriot Caleb Plant, his match up with Canelo in 2021 resulted in a resounding loss.

For several years, Benavidez has been trying to cross gloves with Mexican star Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs), who has avoided facing him despite receiving countless criticisms from boxing fans.

Undefeated in the ranks, everything indicates that today Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) is closer than ever to finally matching up against Canelo, the current holder of the four most prestigious super middleweight titles in boxing: WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO.

Previously, by order of the WBC, Benavidez faced Canadian David Lemieux (43-5, 36 KOs), to whom he applied chloroform in the third round in Glendale, Arizona, where the winner conquered the Interim title of that sanctioning body.

After the victory, the WBC declared that Benavidez had the obligation to collide with Caleb Plant (22-1, 13 KOs), who was ranked the number one contender by both the WBA and the WBO and third by the IBF.

According to Mauricio Sulaimán, president of the WBC, the winner between Benavidez and Plant becomes the mandatory challenger for Canelo in a battle for that organization’s belt.

However, the future seems quite complicated for the winner between Benavidez and Plant, since Canelo is currently in negotiations with British southpaw John Ryder (32-5, 18 KOs) to fight in May and, subsequently, in September, to carry out the rematch against Russian Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs), who defeated him unanimously on May 7 of last year at the T-Mobile Arena where the European retained the WBA light heavyweight belt.

Benavidez has been outspoken about Canelo’s refusal to face him: He (Canelo) knows I’m the biggest threat at 168.” Benavidez stressed the fact that Canelo avoids him because he knows that if he accepts the fight, the same thing will happen to him as against Dmitry Bivol, an adversary who is also larger and equally as strong as the Mexican redhead.

Despite the efforts and multiple statements by Benavidez (also by José Benavidez Sr, his father and trainer), Canelo has always chosen other adversaries with the excuse that Benavidez has not fought any elite rivals that would make him worthy of the opportunity.

CALEB PLANT WANTS REVENGE AGAINST CANELO

“That wasn’t my best camp going into that fight,” said Plant about last year’s battle with Canelo, “but, regardless, that’s not the reason I lost. I lost because I got caught with a great shot and I got stopped.” Plant was clear about wanting to meet Canelo in the ring again. “I want a rematch with Canelo. If I have to pick up every last top super middleweight in the division to get to that, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Canelo’s victory against Plant at the T-Mobile Arena in November 2021 made him the first boxer from Latin America with the four most important titles, in any weight category. But six months later, in May of last year, Álvarez suffered the second setback of his career, losing unanimously to Bivol who retained his WBA “super” title belt at 175 pounds.

Four years ago, on January 13, 2019, Plant won the IBF belt, unanimously defeating Venezuelan José Uzcátegui (32-5, 27 KOs) at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Uzcátegui went to the canvas in both the second and fourth rounds. Plant lost the IBF title in the unification match against Canelo, a title that Plant had defended three times prior.

Mauricio Sulaimán confirmed to several media outlets that the winner of the upcoming battle between Benavidez and Plant will be the mandatory challenger for Canelo’s WBC super-middleweight title. Per ESPN’s Mike Coppinger, Benavidez vs Plant will take place on March 25th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Alvarez in Spanish.

 Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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