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Notes and Nuggets from Thomas Hauser

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Notes and Nuggets from Thomas Hauser

Do you think it would be fun to be a ring announcer?

If you don’t like waiting in airports, taking dozens of flights a year, and living out of hotel rooms, think again.

David Diamante lives in New York City. This was his travel itinerary for 2022:

New York – Atlanta – New York

New York – San Diego – New York

New York – London – Nottingham – London – New York

New York – Manchester – Leeds – Manchester – Barcelona – Ibiza – Marseille – Barcelona – Manchester – Milan – Verbania – Milan – New York

New York – Las Vegas – New York

New York – Milan – Florence – London – Bilbao – London – New York

New York – London – Cardiff – London – Houston – Guadalajara – New York

New York – San Antonio – New York

New York – London – New York

New York – London – Sheffield – London – New York

New York – Saudi Arabia (Jeddah) – Qatar (Doha) – New York

New York – Mexico City – Sonora – Mexico City – New York

New York- Las Vegas – New York

New York – London – Nottingham – London – Mexico City – New York

New York – London – New York

New York – Mexico City – New York

New York- London – New York

New York – Abu Dhabi – New York

New York – Cleveland – New York

New York – London – New York

New York – Phoenix – New York

New York – London – Leeds – London –

So . . . what does Diamante do with his time off?

Among other things, he goes to fights. Four days before Christmas, he was at Sony Hall in Times Square where Larry Goldberg was promoting a club fight show.

In the opening bout, Alejandro Luis Silva (19-0-1, 14 KOs) squared off against Issah Samir (19-1, 16 KOs, 1 KO by) in an 8-round middleweight contest. The fighters’ records were deceiving. Samir is 38 years old. It has been forty months since his hand was raised in victory. Silva dropped him with a body shot in round one, and Issah showed no interest in getting up.

That was followed by Anthony Sims Jr. (22-1, 20 KOs) vs. Anthony Todd (14-6, 8 KOs, 2 KOs by) – eight rounds, middleweights. Sims won an 80-72, 80-72, 79-73 decision in a fight that was evocative of a sparring session.

Next up; female junior-bantamweights, Sulem Urbina (13-2-1, 2 KOs) vs. Indeya Smith (5-6-2, 1 KO). Smith has little form and less power. But she kept moving forward, throwing punches. And Urbina didn’t know how to deal with her. Smith won a 79-73, 79-73, 77-75 decision.

Bout number four showcased club fights at their best. Nadim Salloum (9-1, 4 KOs) took on Decarlo Perez (19-6-1, 6 KOs, 3 KOs by) in an eight-round super-middleweight bout.

“The skill level might not be high,” Diamante noted. “But it’s a real fight, a lot of action with two tough guys giving it everything they have. I love fights like this.”

Then things turned sour.

Perez won the fight. At least, that’s how it appeared to most knowledgeable observers at ringside. But the New York State Athletic Commission is known for erratic scoring that often favors the house fighter. And Salloum (a prolific ticket seller) was the house fighter. Judge John McKaie’s scorecard was read first –  a 76-76 draw. Then the other two judges were heard from – a gift-wrapped 78-74 (Tony Lundy) and 77-75 (Marcel Varela) for Salloum. Perez got a lump of coal for Christmas.

The final bout showcased flyweight Andy Dominguez (8-0, 6 KOs) against Marvin Solano (24-7, 8 KOs, 2 KOs by). Dominguez has charisma and is a legitimate prospect. But he didn’t go to the body often enough and missed badly with wild right hands throughout the fight en route to a 78-73, 78-73, 76-75 triumph.

“Andy can afford to be wild with an opponent like this,” Diamante observed. “But not when he moves up in class and fights better fighters.”

And how did David feel about the evening?

“I love club shows,” Diamante offered. “Fighters leave the amateurs and this is where the next leg of their journey begins. The headgear comes off. The lights get brighter. The gloves get smaller. For me, club shows like this are the heart and soul of boxing. And I love the vibe. It’s rare for me now to be at a show where I’m not working. But on a night like tonight, I can relax, schmooze with boxing people, and hang out with friends. This is all love for me. Hats off to Larry Goldberg for promoting this show.

*         *         *

In an October 21 article posted on this site, I criticized a decision by the Nevada Athletic Commission to categorize slap fighting as unarmed combat that will be allowed when conducted pursuant to rules and regulations promulgated by the State of Nevada and overseen by the commission. A critique of slap fighting is contained in that article.

On November 16, the NAC granted a license to Power Slap to promote slap fighting in Nevada. Also on November 16, the commission approved rules for slap fighting that appear to have been written by Power Slap.

These rules provide for weight classes for men and women. A competitor can win by knockout, technical knockout, or a decision (rendered by three judges). Fights will be scheduled for three-to-five rounds with a round consisting of one blow to the head inflicted by each competitor. Each round will be scored on a 10-point must system with points being determined by the striker’s effectiveness, the defender’s reaction, and the recovery time needed after taking a hit. Fouls can be called on strikers for clubbing, stepping, illegal wind-up, and delay. Strikers will be required to state in advance which hand they will be using and how long it will take for the slap to be delivered. A striker will be penalized if he deviates from this declaration. Fouls will be called against recipients of blows to the head for flinching, blocking, or delay. Penalties can result in a warning, points deduction, ordering a re-strike, the loss of a strike, or disqualification. The striker will have thirty seconds to deliver each slap. The recipient will have thirty seconds for recovery. A coin toss will determine who throws the first slap.

Striking first is an advantage because it weakens the opponent. But if first strikes are rotated, it will mean that combatants are hit with back-to-back blows to the head against which there is no defense. And these blows will be delivered while the effects of the previous blow are still being felt.

There’s a lot to criticize in the commission process. But the low point at the November 16 meeting came when NAC chairman Stephen Cloobeck asked UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell (one of the primary owners of Power Slap), “You will make sure no one dies?”

“That is priority 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10,” Campbell responded. “That goes without saying.”

“You will make sure that no one has severe brain injuries going forward?” Cloobeck said in the manner of a pitcher lobbing a slow pitch down the middle of the plate.

“That’s correct,” Campbell answered. “Honestly, one of the reasons we tested this was to really understand firsthand in person the health and safety aspect of the sport.”

That’s utter nonsense. No one can guarantee that a combat sport participant won’t be killed or suffer brain damage as a consequence of fighting. Either Cloobeck knows that or he knows virtually nothing about the industry that he’s charged with overseeing other than the fact that people hit each other in the head and he gets free tickets for the fights.

I might add here that it would be interesting to see Power Slap’s contracts with combatants. An educated guess is that, despite Campbell’s assurances to the commission, Power Slap’s contracts require combatants to acknowledge the risk of severe injury (including brain damage) and death as a consequence of participating in Power Slap events and further require combatants to waive any claim they might have against Power Slap for damages re same.

Power Slap plans to air eight shows on TBS starting in January, hoping to give its new league the same sort of boost that The Ultimate Fighter on Spike gave UFC. The outtakes from the TBS show are more likely to be more revealing with regard to medical issues than the footage that the public and regulators are allowed to see. Do we really expect that, if Slap League or the commission doctors bungle a medical call, the public will be told about it?

It takes a while for chronic brain damage to manifest itself in fighters. But if a Power Slap competitor goes into a coma after being battered with multiple head blows that he was forbidden by the rules to defend against, maybe even NAC chairman Stephen Cloobeck will take notice of it.

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His most recent book – In the Inner Sanctum: Behind the Scenes at Big Fights – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. In 2019, Hauser was selected for boxing’s highest honor – induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

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Bazinyan Improves to 29-0, but Gollaz and Gaumont Steal the Show in Montreal

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Super middleweight Erik Bazinyan, ranked #3 by the WBA and the WB0 and #4 by the WBC, advanced his record to 29-0 (21) on Thursday night at the Casino de Montreal with a hard-earned majority decision over Alantex Fox. The judges had it 95-95 and 98-92 twice.

A member of the National Team in Armenia before moving with his parents to Quebec at age 16, Bazinyan was moving up in class while making the first defense of two North American titles. In Fox, one of two fighting brothers from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, he was meeting a 12-year pro who brought a 28-3-1 record.

The fight was messy at times as was often the case with the six-foot-four Fox who tends to tie up his opponents when they happen to borrow inside his long arms. The fight was fairly even through the first six frames, but Bazinyan forged ahead as Fox’s workrate declined.

There were two brutal upsets on the undercard, both of which ended in the opening round.

In a super lightweight match slated for 10, Guadalajara’s Gabriel Gollaz, who was billed for this fight under his mother’s maiden name, Valenzuela, solidified his reputation as a treacherous spoiler with a first round blast-out of Yves Ulysse Jr. The Mexican, who improved to 26-3-1 with his 16th knockout, caught Ulysses leaning in and crumpled him with a brutal uppercut. Ulysse, who hadn’t previously been stopped, appeared to suffer a leg injury as he fell and was carried from the ring.

In 2021, Gollaz went to London and upset former British Commonwealth champion Robbie Davies Jr. More recently, he came within a shade of upsetting Matchroom signee Montana Love, losing a 12-round decision.

A 34-year-old Montreal native of Haitian ancestry, Ulysse (22-3) was considered a bright prospect after taking Cletus Seldin to school in 2017. After tonight’s match, which lasted all of 52 seconds, he indicated that he would retire.

Another Mexican import, middleweight Carlos Gallego, wasn’t as fortunate. Gallego, 8-4 heading in, was knocked out in the opening round by local fan favorite Alexandre Gaumont (7-0, 5 KOs).

Gaumont forced the stoppage with a barrage of punches after snapping Gallego’s head back with a vicious uppercut. Gallego tried to rise and then fell back to his knees as the bout was being waived off. The official time was 2:26.

Gaumont, 27, knocked out 12 of his 21 opponents as an amateur. He bears watching.

Presented by Camille Estephan’s Eye of the Tiger Promotions, tonight’s card aired in the U.S. on ESPN+.

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Alycia Baumgardner vs Elhem Mekhaled: Female Splendor at MSG 

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Alycia Baumgardner vs Elhem Mekhaled: Female Splendor at MSG

Two bouts between women, which will turn the winners into undisputed champions in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions, will create an electrifying atmosphere this Saturday, February 4th at Madison Square Garden.

In the duel between the two southpaws, Puerto Rican Amanda Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KOs), based in Brooklyn), will defend her 126-pound WBC, IBF and WBO titles, while Mexican Erika Cruz (15-1, 3 KOs) will defend her WBA title.

Also, of great interest will be the fight between American Baumgardner (13-1, 7 KOs), 130-pound WBC, IBF and WBO champion and her opponent, French challenger Elhem Mekhaled (15-1, 3 KOs), who will try to snatch Baumgardner’s titles and get the vacant WBA title, which belonged to the undefeated Korean Choi Hyun-Mi (20-1, 5 KOs).

Choi, who was born in Pyongyang, North Korea but left the country with her family at the age of 14 and settled in Seoul, South Korea, was declared “Champion in Recess”, as she suffers from a medical condition that prevents her from fighting. Once she fully recovers, she will have the possibility of facing, as a mandatory challenger, the winner between Baumgardner and Mekhaled.

For Baumgardner, who was born 28 years ago in Ohio, but now lives and trains in Michigan, the fight in New York will once again allow her to showcase her skills in the United States after three consecutive fights in the United Kingdom.

In her most recent bout, Baumgardner defeated her compatriot Mikaela Mayer (17-1, 5 KOs) in a difficult brawl, from whom she snatched the IBF and WBO belts, while retaining the WBC belt. The bout was October 15th of last year at the O2 Arena in London. Two of the officials, Steve Gray and John Latham, scored the fight 96-95 in favor of Baumgardner, but Terry O’Connor saw it 97-93 for Mayer.

Four days later, Choi unanimously defeated Canada’s Vanessa Bradford (6-4-2, 0 KOs) in Seoul, earning the Asian her ninth successful defense of the WBA super featherweight crown, which she has held since May 2014, when she anesthetized the now retired Thai, Siriwan Thongmanit.

The following month, in November, the WBA ordered Choi to defend her belt in a mandatory duel against Baumgardner, making the winner the undisputed queen of 130 pounds.

ELHEM MEKHALED FILLS THE VACANCY OF SOUTH KOREAN CHOI

To fill the vacancy of the South Korean Choi, the IBF Committee awarded the position to Mekhaled who ranks third in the women’s 130-pound rankings.

Former interim WBC titleholder, Mekhaled, 31 years old and born in Paris, has recently lost by unanimous decision to Belgian Delfine Persoon (47-3, 19 KOs) at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi where they disputed the vacant WBC silver belt.

The duel against Baumgardner not only allows Mekhaled to debut in the United States, but also provides her the opportunity to become the undisputed champion at 130 pounds.

Mekhaled emphasized that the February 4th event has great significance for women fighters and that this is a sign that the discipline is growing, with more and more fight cards in which women exhibit the leading role.

The French boxer said that after winning the interim title in 2015, she waited a long time for the opportunity to fight for the regular belt, but unfortunately it never materialized.

Mekhaled explained that after a long period of focusing on her personal life and not really training, she accepted the duel with Delfine Persoon with only two weeks of preparation, which led to the setback against the Belgian boxer.

“Since my WBC interim 2019 title, I’ve been waiting for this moment,” said Mekhaled. “Maybe fate has played well; instead of one belt, they’re all on the line. I am super excited to fight on February 4th at the legendary MSG in New York. God knows how determined I am! It’s my time to shine. Thank you to my advisor Sarah Fina.”

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Álvarez in Spanish.

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

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How good is Jake Paul? Shane Mosley’s Answer May Surprise You

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Few celebrities in the world today are as polarizing as Jake Paul. The 26-year-old Cleveland native who fights Tommy Fury in an 8-round match on Feb. 26 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has fervent fans and equally fervent detractors. To long-time aficionados of boxing, especially those born before the arrival of the internet, Jake Paul and his ilk are widely looked upon as a scourge.

Paul first entered the squared circle on Aug. 25, 2018, at the Manchester Arena in England. He fought fellow YouTube star Deji Olatunji in the co-feature to a match between their respective older brothers, Logan Paul and the “influencer” known as KSI. The combatants promoted the event on their social media platforms

These were exhibitions fought with headgear. Jake Paul stopped Olatunji whose corner pulled him out after five rounds. However, the results wouldn’t appear on boxrec, the sport’s official record-keeper.

No serious boxing fan paid this curious event any heed, but the folks that profit from the sport without taking any punches stood up and took notice. The on-site gate reportedly exceeded $3 million. The event reportedly generated 1.3 million pay-per-view buys worldwide (youtube charged $10 a pop) with nearly as many beholders catching a free ride on a pirate stream. A new era was born, or at least a new sub-set of a heretofore calcified sport.

Jake Paul had his first professional fight on Jan. 30, 2020, in Miami. In the opposite corner was a British social media personality of Saudi Arabian lineage who took the name AnEsonGib. Paul stopped him in the opening round.

Paul fought once more that year, knocking out former NBA star Nate Robinson, and three times in 2021, opposing Ben Askren and then Tyron Woodley twice. Askren and Woodley were former MMA champions who had fabled careers as U.S. collegiate wrestlers, but both were newcomers to boxing.

According to Forbes, Jake Paul made $31 million from boxing in 2021. And therein lies the rub. While thousands of would-be future champions, many with deep amateur backgrounds, toiled away in boxing gyms honing their craft while hoping to attract the eye of an important promoter, a guy like Jake Paul came along and jumped the queue. It just ain’t fair.

In preparation for his pro debut against AnEson Gib, Paul spent time in Big Bear, California, training at the compound of Shane Mosley. A first ballot Hall of Famer (class of 2020), Mr. Mosley needs no introduction to readers of this web site. And when he says that Jake Paul is legit, one is inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

“I taught him the fundamentals,” says Mosley, “but Jake was a good listener and a hard worker. He’s a good athlete and he has a boxer’s mentality. We took him down the street to Abel Sanchez’s gym and had him spar with real professional fighters. He would spar with anybody and when he got caught with a hard punch he wouldn’t back down. He loves the sport and he relished the competition.”

Mosley stops short of saying that Jake Paul could hold his own with Canelo Alvarez – Paul preposterously called out Canelo after out-pointing 47-year-old MMA legend Anderson Silva in his most recent fight – but with so many titles up for grabs in this balkanized sport, it wouldn’t   surprise Mosely if the self-styled “Problem Child” latched hold of one before this phase of his life was over.

A three-time national amateur champion and a world champion at 135, 147, and 154 pounds as a pro, Shane Mosley put Pomona, California on the boxing map. He represented that city in LA county throughout his illustrious career. His son of the same name was born there.

Mosley fought twice in his hometown as he was coming up the ladder and will be back there again on Feb. 18 when Shane Mosley Jr appears on the undercard of a Golden Boy Promotions card at Pomona’s historic Fox Theater. It’s not official yet so we won’t divulge the name of Shane’s opponent, but the main event will pit Luis Nery against Azat Hovhannisyan in a WBC Super Bantamweight Eliminator, a match that shapes up as an entertaining skirmish as both have fan-friendly styles.

Shane Mosley Jr Sr

Shane Mosley Jr & Sr

Shane Mosley Jr, who turned 31 in December, will never replicate his father’s fistic accomplishments; his dad set the bar too high. But the younger Mosley is a solid pro who is on a pretty nice roll, having won five of his last six since losing a 10-round decision to Brandon Adams in the finals of season 5 of The Contender series. In his last outing, he out-slicked rugged Gabriel Rosado to win a regional super middleweight title.

The elder Mosley has been working with his son at Bones Adams gym in Las Vegas and will be in junior’s corner on Feb. 18. It will be a double-homecoming for Pomona’s favorite sons.

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Arne K. Lang’s third boxing book, titled “George Dixon, Terry McGovern and the Culture of Boxing in America, 1890-1910,” has rolled off the press. Published by McFarland, the book can be ordered directly from the publisher or via Amazon.

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