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Avila Perspective, Chap. 207: Boxing Showdowns in London, Melbourne and Brooklyn

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Expect a very long Saturday of boxing.

It’s showdown time with several of the best female fighters on the planet clashing in unification matches in London, England this Saturday, Oct. 15. ESPN+ and Sky will stream the fight 11:30 a.m. PT/2:30 p.m. ET.

If words match action, then expect Claressa Shields (12-0, 2 KOs) and Savannah Marshall (12-0, 10 KOs) in their middleweight contest for undisputed status to provide an eyeful at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday afternoon.

Not to be outdone, the super featherweight unification match between Mikaela Mayer (17-0, 5 KOs) and Alycia Baumgardner takes (12-1, 7 KOs) a backseat to no one in their fight on the same card.

These two women have been trading verbal grenades through social media and now in person. Both can fight and fan expectations are high. (That’s Mayer on the left; Baumgardner on the right.)

ESPN+ will stream the all-female fight card that includes about seven other bouts.

It should be loud and full at the London arena. The United Kingdom has shown that its fans are great supporters of women’s prizefighting. Though that nation was late to the female boxing party, they are now accepting women’s boxing with open arms and pocketbooks.

Top Rank promotes Mayer who began as a teen in the tough and competitive amateur circles in Southern California. After several years she made the US Olympic boxing team and performed well. She then signed with Top Rank and has quickly acquired professional fight skills and a few world title belts as a super featherweight.

Mayer has speed, height and can fight outside or inside as she displayed against France’s Maiva Hamadouche last year in Las Vegas. It was the Fight of the Year in women’s boxing.

Matchroom Boxing promotes Baumgardner who also began as a teen in the amateur boxing program. She also wrestled in high school and has a good sense of balance and power.

Baumgardner’s attributes are more suited for pros than amateurs and it all came together against Terri Harper a year ago. A one-punch knockout rendered the tall British fighter unconscious on her feet. It was the Knockout of the Year in 2021.

The two super featherweights have been warring on social media for years now. Finally, they meet in the prize ring. Who will win?

“I’ve said from the beginning I want to be undisputed,” said Mayer. “I’ve pushed for this fight.”

Baumgardner expects a knockout win.

“My confidence is triggered by her,” said Baumgardner of Mayer. “We’re fighting for unification come Saturday night.”

The middleweight clash between Shields and Marshall has an even longer history. They fought each other as amateurs 10 years ago and the British fighter won. It remains the only loss for Shields in her boxing career.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist and undisputed middleweight and super welterweight world champion Shields doesn’t like any loss hanging over her head like a Sword of Damocles.

Marshall has knocked out nearly every foe she’s faces as a pro and thinks she can do the same to Shields. She grabbed the vacant WBO title and wants the others that Shields still holds.

Shields wants that title back and revenge.

“I know what I’m capable and I know what I am going to do on Saturday night,” said Shields. “We’re going to let her do whatever she wants to do and I’m going to adapt and do whatever I have to do.”

Marshall believes she will beat Shields again.

“I believe I am the better boxer,” said Marshall. “I’m just itching to get in there now.”

The remainder of the boxing card is filled with highly qualified prospects and contenders including Ginny Fuchs, Caroline DuBois, Sarah Liegmann among others.

Because of the time difference American viewers will watch the card starting in the morning or afternoon depending on where they live.

Top Rank has two fight cards in different points of the globe: Australia and Great Britain.

“We’re everywhere,” said Todd DuBoef, president of Top Rank while in London.

Melbourne Rematch

In a rematch Devin Haney (28-0, 15 KOs) defends his undisputed lightweight world championship against former holder George Kambosos (20-1, 10 KOs) on Sunday, Oct. 16. The Top Rank and DiBella Entertainment card will appear on ESPN+ on Saturday, Oct. 15, in America and Europe because of the time difference.

They met four months ago in the outdoor Marvel Stadium in Melbourne. They are back again in the rematch but this time at Rod Laver Arena in the same city.

“I’m going to go in there and do what I’m going to do regardless. No matter what referee is in there, no matter where the fight is at, it doesn’t matter,” said Haney.

Kambosos wants the titles back.

“I love when they doubt me. I love when they think I have no chance. That’s OK. We’ll prove them wrong once again,” said Kambosos.

Also on the card are the Moloney brothers Jason and Andrew. Plus, a female bout pits Cherneka Johnson (14-1) against former bantamweight world titlist Susie Ramadan (29-3) fighting for the vacant IBF super bantamweight world title.

Brooklyn and Wilder

It’s the return of Deontay Wilder and the former heavyweight titlist does not have an easy fight against Robert Helenius. Or does he?

Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs) meets Finland’s Helenius (31-3, 20 KOs) “the Nordic Nightmare” on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The PBC card will be shown on FOX pay-per-view.

It’s been a year since Wilder last fought and was stopped by Tyson Fury in a rousing 11 rounds of back-and-forth heavyweight action. Whenever Wilder fights you are going to get your money’s worth of action. Somebody is going down.

“One thing about Robert (Helenius) is he has a warrior’s heart and I have a warrior’s heart as well,” said Wilder of his former sparring partner.

In the co-main event former world titlist Caleb Plant (21-1, 10 KOs) returns to the ring and meets Anthony Dirrell (34-2-2, 25 KOs) who fought on the same fight card a year ago. That’s when Plant lost to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in Las Vegas. Dirrell won that night with a sensational uppercut knockout win.

“I’m a go in there and whip his ass, as simple as that,” said Dirrell during the press conference.

The two super middleweights do not appear to have a kinship.

“This aint a therapy session. I could care less about emotions,” Plant said.

Also on the card is the fast-rising Gary Antonio Russell (19-0, 12 KOs) facing Emmanuel Rodriguez (20-2, 13 KOs) in a bantamweight match set for 12 rounds.

Fights to Watch (all times Pacific Time)

Sat. ESPN+ 11:30 a.m. Claressa Shields (12-0) vs Savannah Marshall (12-0); Mikaela Mayer (17-0) vs Alycia Baumgardner (12-1).

Sat. FOX ppv 6 p.m. Deontay Wilder (42-2-1) vs Robert Helenius (31-3); Caleb Plant (21-1) vs Anthony Dirrell (34-2-2); Gary Antonio Russell (19-0) vs Emmanuel Rodriguez (20-2).

Sat. ESPN 7:30 p.m. Devin Haney (28-0) vs George Kambosos (20-1); Jason Moloney (24-2) vs Nawaphon Kaikanha (56-1-1); Andrew Moloney (24-2) vs Norbelto Jimenez (31-9-6).

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Garcia Promotions’ Event in San Bernardino was a Showcase for Saul Rodriguez

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SAN BERNARDINO-Saul “Neno” Rodriguez, out of action for nearly three years, returned to the prize ring on Saturday in San Bernardino at the Club Event Center in a Garcia Promotions event. San Bernardino is in the Inland Empire which is two counties just east of Los Angeles.

Riverside’s Rodriguez (24-1-1) weighed much more than the designated weight and his match with Mexico’s Juan Meza Angulo was demoted to an exhibition because of the weight disparity. Despite wearing head gear, the popular Riverside fighter was able to stop Angulo (6-1) in his first fight since February 28, 2020.

Though Rodriguez looked slightly over-weight as a super lightweight, it didn’t dampen his sharp punching skills. He immediately caught Meza with a well-timed overhand right. Luckily, Rodriguez didn’t put muscle on it. The fight proceeded.

Because of inactivity, Rodriguez seemed to relish getting back to work. He moved around and tried different combinations. Everything seemed to be working in his favor. But Meza countered a left by Rodriguez with a strong right. It proved the popular Riverside fighter needs work on bringing back his left quickly.

After Meza connected things got serious.

Rodriguez immediately opened the third round at a quicker tempo and seemed intent on changing from a wait-and-see attitude to one of bad intentions. Meza didn’t notice the change and looked to catch Rodriguez with a combo and instead was caught with a monster counter-right. Down went Meza with a thud. The fight was stopped.

Fans, many of them wearing Team Neno t-shirts, were deliriously happy to see Rodriguez back in action.

In the co-main event, San Bernardino’s Leo Ruiz clashed with granite-chinned Cameron Krael.

Ruiz (11-0, 7 KOs) unloaded horrific bombs on Krael (19-25-3) who calmly kept his gloves covering his head and although some managed to connect flush, nothing fazed the Las Vegas fighter.

Round after round Ruiz unloaded on Krael only to quickly realize that attempting a knockout was futile. The reputation of Krael’s chin was correct and no need to break a knuckle trying to score a knockout. Instead, Ruiz went six rounds and won every one to take a win by unanimous decision by scores of 60-54 on all three cards.

Other Bouts

Gabe Muratalla (9-0) knocked out Michael Nielsen (6-3) with a four-punch combination in the third round of a bantamweight fight. Body shots dropped Nielsen in the second round.

Ventura’s Jose Delgado (10-1-4), a southpaw, overcome a sluggish start with body shots to defeat San Bernardino’s Jesus Beltran (6-3-1) by majority decision after four rounds in a lightweight fight.

Riverside’s Victor Pelayo (2-0) defeated Milwaukee’s D’Angelo Hopgood (2-1) by decision after four rounds in a very close super bantamweight match. Both fighters showed solid fundamentals in a fight that could have easily been scored a draw. Pelayo won by decision 39-37 on all cards.

Riverside’s Jose Rodriguez (2-0) stopped Henry Mendez (0-9-2) in the fourth round of a super welterweight bout. Mendez was deducted a point in the second round for incessant holding after numerous warnings.

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Alexis Rocha KOs Brave but Overmatched George Ashie on DAZN.

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Golden Boy Promotions’ potted their first offering of 2023 at the recently opened YouTube Theater, a 6,000-seat venue situated inside the stadium built to house LA’s two NFL franchises. The main event was a scheduled 12-round welterweight match between Alexis Rocha, a southpaw from nearby Santa Ana and George Ashie, a 38-year-old Ghanaian making his U.S. debut. Ashie was a late substitute for Anthony Young who reportedly suffered a nose injury in training. The match and supporting bouts were live-streamed on DAZN.

Ashie, who was fighting above his normal weight class and carried a career-high 146 pounds, was brave but out-gunned. Rocha knocked him down in the third frame with a right hook and hurt him several more times as the fight progressed although Ashie never stopped trying. In round six, an accidental clash of heads left Rocha with a nasty cut on his left eyebrow. He fought with more urgency after this incident and knocked Ashie out cold in the next round. The official time was 2:08 of round seven.

It was the fifth straight win for Rocha who improved his ledger to 22-1 (14 KOs). After the bout, he expressed an interest in fighting Terence Crawford. Ashie fell to 33-6-1 (25).

Other Bouts of Note

Floyd “Austin Kid” Schofield, a precocious 20-year-old lightweight, had Albert Mercado on the canvas in the second round but was unable to put him away despite hurting him multiple times and went 10 rounds for the first time in his young career.

Schofield, the 2022 TSS Prospect of the Year, improved to 13-0 (11), winning 100-89 on all three cards. Mercado, a 35-year-old Connecticut-born Puerto Rican, declined to 17-5-1 but retained his distinction of having never stopped.

Super middleweight Bektemir Melikuziev, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist for Uzbekistan who lives and trains in Indio, California, overpowered San Diego’s Ulises Sierra who was on the deck twice from body punches before the fight was waived off at the 2:59 mark of round three. It was the fourth straight victory for Melikuziev (11-1, 9 KOs) after suffering a stunning one-punch knockout at the hands of seemingly shopworn Gabriel Rosado with whom he is pursuing a rematch. Sierra was 17-2-2 heading in with eight of his wins coming in Mexico.

In a match framed as a WBO minimumweight title eliminator, Oscar Collazo (6-0, 4 KOs) scored an impressive fifth-round stoppage of Yudel Reyes. Collazo knocked Reyes down twice in the fifth round, the second with a vicious right hand that put Reyes down so hard that the referee didn’t bother to count. The official time was 2:59 of round five.

In theory, Collazo’s next fight will come against the Filipino Melvin Jerusalem who won the title earlier this month with a second-round stoppage of Masataka Taniguchi in Osaka. Reyes, a 26-year-old Mexican making his U.S. debut, declined to 15-2.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Artur Beterbiev TKOs Anthony Yarde in a London Firefight

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The presumption, echoed by ESPN boxing commentator Bernardo Osuna, was that tonight’s bout at Wembley Arena in London between Artur Beterbiev and Anthony Yarde would be explosive and entertaining for as long as it lasted. That proved to be true and when the smoke cleared, Beterbiev, the rugged Montreal-based Russian had retained his three light heavyweight title belts and had added another knockout to his ledger, his nineteenth as a pro in as many opportunities.

Both men landed hard shots during the fight and both were marked up at the finish. Yarde had a cut under his right eye and Beterbiev had a cut on his left eyelid.

A chopping right hand from Beterbiev late in the first minute of the eighth round marked the beginning of the end for Yarde, the muscular 31-year-old Londoner who entered the contest sporting a record of 23-2 with 22 knockouts. The punch sent him reeling backward toward his corner where he landed on his knees. He beat the count, but turned toward his corner rather than referee Steve Gray.

Gray let the bout continue, but Beterbiev pressed his advantage and after a few more unanswered punches Yarde’s trainer Tunde Ajayi stepped up on the ring apron and summoned Gray to stop it. The official time was 2:01 of round eight.

Beterbiev hasn’t lost since losing a decision to amateur nemesis Oleksandr Usyk in the quarter finals of the 2012 London Olympics. At age 38, he shows no signs of slowing down.

In his post-fight interview, the self-effacing Russian said, “I hope some day I will be a good boxer,” and acknowledged that he would welcome a unification fight with fellow Russian Dmitry Bivol, the WBA title-holder.

WBA Title Fight

In a bout that was in theory the co-feature but went off during the earlier portion of the ESPN+ livestream, Artem Dalakian (21-0, 15 KOs) retained his WBA world flyweight title with a unanimous and somewhat controversial 12-round unanimous decision over Costa Rica’s David Jimenez (12-1). The judges had it 116-112 and 115-113 twice.

An Azerbaijan-born Ukrainian, Dalakian was making the sixth defense of the title he won in 2018 with a 12-round decision over Brian Viloria in Los Angeles in his lone previous appearance at a venue in the English-speaking world. His five title defenses were in Kiev. Jimenez was coming off a 12-round majority decision over Ricardo Sandoval in what ranked as one of the bigger upsets of 2021.

A Split for the Itauma Brothers

Promoter Frank Warren’s newest signee, 18-year-old heavyweight Moses Itauma, made a big splash in his pro debut, blasting out Czechoslovakia’s Marcel Bode (2-2) in 23 seconds. Moses and his older brother Karol Itauma are sons of a British citizen of Nigerian ancestry and a Slovakian mother.

In a shocking upset, Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna, a 36-year-old Argentine who had lost six of his previous eight fights, forged a fifth-round stoppage of well-touted Karol Itauma who was 9-0 (7 KOs) as a pro coming in. Itauma ate numerous straight right hands before a straight right hand knocked him down for the count. The official time was 1:04 of round five. Maderna improved to 29-10 (11).

Also

The Frankham cousins, super welterweight Joshua and super featherweight Charles, improved their ledgers to 7-0 with 6-round shutouts over their respective opponents. The cousins are grandsons of John “Gypsy Johnny” Frankham, a former British light heavyweight champion.

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