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A Flurry of Interesting Fights on Friday feeds Into a Soft Saturday Slate

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It’s rare when the Friday boxing slate is stronger than the Saturday schedule, but that’s the case this weekend. There are no world title fights on either day, but some interesting offerings that warrant a closer look.

York Hall in gritty East London, which might be described as the nerve center of British boxing, has been holding fights since the 1950s. Friday’s offering, a Queensberry Promotions (Frank Warren) event, stands as one of the better cards staged at the intimate, 1,200-seat venue. Topping the marquee is a 12-round fight between Dennis “The Menace” McCann and the noted spoiler Ionut Baluta, his longtime sparring partner.

McCann, an Irish Traveler who took up boxing at age 11 after dropping out of school, was Matt McGrain’s 2020 British Prospect of the Year. McCann “seems as though he belongs in another era,” wrote McGrain. “From the period, parochial nickname, to the absence of an amateur career, to the haircut that would look just fine on Billy Conn, McCann has the feel of a throwback.”

Dennis the Menace was 19 years old and had eight pro fights under his belt when McGrain wrote those words. Nowadays, he’s 14-0 (8 KOs) but his appearance hasn’t changed. He still has the aura of someone who walked off the cover of a teenage fan magazine from the 1950s, more Pat Boone than Elvis Presley.

McCann

McCann

McCann, 22, has never fought beyond eight rounds. In the 29-year-old Baluta, a U.K.-based Romanian, he is meeting someone who lacks a big punch but has never been stopped. Baluta (16-4, 3 KOs) went 12 competitive rounds with Michael Conlan at this venue in 2021, earning a draw on one of the scorecards.

In the co-feature, Scotland’s Nathaniel Collins (12-0, 6 KOs) opposes Raza Hamza (17-1-1, 7 KOs). A 29-year-old southpaw who enters the contest in good form — four of his last five wins have come inside the distance — Collins will be defending his BBBofC featherweight title.

Atlanta

On this side of the pond, the most attractive of the Friday cards will be staged in Atlanta at an intimate basketball stadium. It’s a card with a “ShoBox”-feel. The participants in the three featured bouts, all 8-rounders, are collectively 83-3-1.

The fighter with the biggest upside, it says here, is super lightweight Kurt Scoby (12-0, 10 KOs). In his college days at Azusa Pacific University in the LA-area, Scoby (pronounced Scooby) was a record-setting football running back.  Back then, he carried about 200 pounds on his five-foot-eight frame. Now he weighs 140 when fighting trim, but he hits like a heavyweight as his former opponents can attest. None of the last seven lasted beyond the second round.

Scoby’s opponent, southpaw Narciso Carmona (11-0-1, 6 KOs), is a 25-year-old Spaniard.

What figures to be the most competitive match on the card is the super middleweight contest between Money Powell IV (13-1, 8 KOs), a fighter with a strong amateur pedigree, and Colorado’s Shawn McCalman (13-0, 7 KOs) who delivered a smashing performance in his last start, scoring a third-round TKO on a PBC card in Minneapolis. A workout partner of Terence Crawford, McCalman, 29, is managed by former Main Events matchmaker Jolene Mizzone who is now flying solo.

Another 8-rounder pits North Carolina’s Javon Campbell (12-1, 10 KOs) against Venezuela’s Lorenzo Parra (22-1, 17 KOs). And in 4-round featherweight match of note, 22-year-old Hawaiian southpaw Asa Stevens (4-0, 2 KOs) will showcase his talent against Milwaukee’s D’Angelo Hopgood (2-1). A 2019 National Golden Gloves champion, Stevens is managed by David McWater who also handles Money Powell IV.

The Atlanta show is listed on Friday’s DAZN schedule.

Argentina

There are no world title fights this weekend, but a Friday show in Buenos Aires features a fighter on the cusp of a world title shot. Gustavo Lemos, ranked #1 by the IBF at lightweight, opposes countryman Javier Jose Clavero at historic Luna Park. This is a “stay busy” fight for the undefeated (28-0, 18 KOs) Lemos. Clavero (30-10-2, 7 KOs is 3-5-2 in his last ten and coming off back-to-back draws against opponents who were collectively 15-68-11.

Lemos likes to fight off his front foot. His style has been compared with Jeff Fenech. In his last outing, Lemos brutalized former IBF world featherweight champion Lee Selby of Wales en route to a fifth-round stoppage. Selby hadn’t previously been stopped. Prominent Argentine boxing scribe Diego Morilla, writing from ringside, called it “an epic performance.”

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Skavynskyi and Bustillos Win on a MarvNation Card in Long Beach

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Skavynskyi and Bustillos Win on a MarvNation Card in Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Ca.-A cool autumn night saw welterweights and minimumweights share main events for a MarvNation fight card on Saturday.

Ukraine’s Eduard Skavynskyi (15-0, 7 KOs) experienced a tangled mess against the awkward Alejandro Frias (14-10-2) but won by decision after eight rounds in a welterweight contest at the indoor furnace called the Thunder Studios.

It was hot in there for the more than 600 people inside.

Skavynskyi probably never fought someone like Mexico’s Frias whose style was the opposite of the Ukrainian’s fundamentally sound one-two style. But round after round the rough edges became more familiar.

Neither fighter was ever damaged but all three judges saw Skavynskyi the winner by unanimous decision 79-73 on all three cards. The Ukrainian fighter trains in Ventura.

Bustillo Wins Rematch

Applerose2

In the female main event Las Vegas’ Yadira Bustillos (8-1) stepped into a rematch with Karen Lindenmuth (5-2) and immediately proved the lessons learned from their first encounter.

Bustillos connected solidly with an overhand right and staggered Lindenmuth but never came close to putting the pressure fighter down. Still, Bustillos kept turning the hard rushing Lindenmuth and snapping her head with overhand rights and check left hooks.

Lindenmuth usually overwhelms most opponents with a smothering attack that causes panic. But not against Bustillos who seemed quite comfortable all eight rounds in slipping blows and countering back.

After eight rounds all three judges scored the contest for Bustillos 78-74 and 80-72 twice. Body shots were especially effective for the Las Vegas fighter in the fifth round. Bustillos competes in the same division as IBF/WBO title-holder Yokasta Valle.

Other Bouts

In a middleweight clash, undefeated Victorville’s Andrew Buchanan (3-0-1) used effective combination punching to defeat Mexico’s Fredy Vargas (2-1-1) after six rounds. Two judges scored it 59-55 and a third 60-54 for Buchanan. No knockdowns were scored.

A super lightweight match saw Sergio Aldana win his pro debut by decision after four rounds versus Gerardo Fuentes (2-9-1).

Photos credit: Al Applerose

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Tedious Fights and a Controversial Draw Smudge the Matchroom Boxing Card in Orlando

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Matchroom Boxing was at the sprawling Royale Caribe Resort Hotel in Orlando, Florida tonight with a card that aired on DAZN. The main event was a ho-hum affair between super lightweights Richardson Hitchins and Jose Zepeda.

SoCal’s Zepeda has been in some wars in the past, notably his savage tussle with Ivan Baranchyk, but tonight he brought little to the table and was outclassed by the lanky Hitchins who won all 12 rounds on two of the cards and 11 rounds on the other.  There were no knockdowns, but Zepeda suffered a cut on his forehead in round seven that was deemed to be the product of an accidental head butt and another clash in round ten forced a respite in the action although Hitchins suffered no apparent damage.

It was the sort of fight where each round was pretty much a carbon of the round preceding it. Brooklyn’s Hitchins, who improved to 17-0 (7), was content to pepper Zepeda with his jab, and the 34-year-old SoCal southpaw, who brought a 37-3 record, was never able to penetrate his defense and land anything meaningful.

Hitchins signed with Floyd Mayweather Jr’s promotional outfit coming out of the amateur ranks and his style is reminiscent in ways of his former mentor. Like Mayweather, he loses very few rounds. In his precious engagement, he pitched a shutout over previously undefeated John Bauza.

Co-Feature

In the co-feature, Conor Benn returned to the ring after an absence of 17 months and won a unanimous decision over Mexico’s Rodolfo Orozco. It wasn’t a bad showing by Benn who showed decent boxing skills, but more was expected of him after his name had been bandied about so often in the media. Two of the judges had it 99-91 and the other 96-94.

Benn (22-0, 14 KOs) was a late addition to the card although one suspects that promoter Eddie Hearn purposely kept him under wraps until the week of the fight so as not to deflect the spotlight from the other matches on his show. Benn lost a lucrative date with Chris Eubank Jr when he was suspended by the BBBofC when evidence of a banned substance was found in his system and it’s understood that Hearn has designs on re-igniting the match-up with an eye on a date in December. For tonight’s fight, Benn carried a career-high 153 ½ pounds. Mexico’s Orozco, who was making his first appearance in a U.S. ring, declined to 32-4-3.

Other Bouts of Note

The welterweight title fight between WBA/WBC title-holder Jessica McCaskill (15-3-1) and WBO title-holder Sandy Ryan (6-1-1) ended in a draw and the ladies’ retain their respective titles. Ryan worked the body effectively and the general feeling was that she got a raw deal, a sentiment shared by the crowd which booed the decision. There was a switch of favorites in the betting with the late money seemingly all on the Englishwoman who at age 30 was the younger boxer by nine years.

The judges had it 96-94 Ryan, 96-95, and a vilified 97-93 for Chicago’s McCaskill.

In the opener of the main DAZN stream, Houston middleweight Austin “Ammo” Williams, 27, improved to 15-0 (10) with a 10-round unanimous decision over 39-year-old Toronto veteran Steve Rolls (22-3). All three judges had it 97-93. Rolls has been stopped only once, that by Gennady Golovkin.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom Boxing

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Zhilei Zhang KOs Joe Joyce; Calls Out Tyson Fury

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Joe Joyce activated his rematch clause after being stopped in the sixth frame by Zhilei Zhang in their first meeting. In hindsight, he may wish that he hadn’t. Tonight at London’s Wembley Stadium, Zhang stopped him again and far more conclusively than in their first encounter.

In the first meeting, Zhang, a southpaw, found a steady home for his stiff left jab. Targeting Joyce’s right eye, he eventually damaged the optic to where the ring doctor wouldn’t let Joyce continue. At the end, the fight was close on the cards and Joyce was confident that he would have pulled away if not for the issue with his eye.

In the rematch tonight, Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs) closed the curtain with his right hand. A thunderous right hook on the heels of a straight left pitched Joyce to the canvas where he landed face first. He appeared to beat the count by a whisker, but was seriously dazed and referee Steve Gray properly waived it off. The official time was 3:07 of round three.

Zhang, who lived up to his nickname, “Big Bang,” was credited with landing 29 power punches compared with only six for Joyce (15-2) who came in 25 pounds heavier than in their first meeting while still looking properly conditioned. One would be inclined to say that age finally caught with the “Juggernaut” who turned 38 since their last encounter, but Zhang, 40, is actually the older man. In his post-fight interview in the ring, the New Jersey resident, a two-time Olympian for China, when asked who he wanted to fight next, turned to the audience and said, “Do you want to see me shut Tyson Fury up?”

He meant it as a rhetorical question.

Semi-Windup

Light heavyweight Anthony Yarde was matched soft against late sub Jorge Silva, a 40-year-old Portuguese journeyman, and barely broke a sweat while scoring a second-round stoppage. Yarde backed Silva against a corner post and put him on the deck with a short right hand. Silva’s body language indicated that he had no interest in continuing and the referee accommodated him. The official time was 2:07 of round two.

A 30-year-old Londoner, Yarde (24-3, 23 KOs) was making his first start since being stopped in eight rounds by Artur Beterbiev in a bout that Yarde was winning on two of the scorecards. Silva, a late replacement for 19-3-1 Ricky Summers, falls to 22-9.

Also

Former leading super middleweight contender Zach Parker (23-1, 17 KOs) returned to the ring in a “shake-off-the-rust” fight against 40-year-old Frenchman Khalid Graidia and performed as expected. Graidia’s corner pulled him out after seven one-sided rounds.

In his previous fight, Parker was matched against John Ryder who he was favored to beat. The carrot for the winner was a lucrative date with Canelo Alvarez. Unfortunately for Parker, he suffered a broken hand and was unable to continue after four frames. Tonight, he carried 174 pounds, a hint that he plans to compete as a light heavyweight going forward. Indeed, he has expressed an interest in fighting Anthony Yarde. Graidia declined to 10-13-4.

The Zhang-Joyce and Yarde-Silva fights were live-streamed in the U.S. on ESPN+.

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