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Imagining Famous People as Prizefighters: Check Out Our Latest TSS Survey

Ted Sares

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In our latest quarterly survey, we asked our respondents this question: “What famous person — living or dead — could have been a successful boxer AND WHY?” The person picked could be a statesman, gangster, movie or TV star, business tycoon, or whatever, just so long as he or she was famous. More than 30 boxing notables weighed in with a selection. As is our custom, we have listed the respondents in alphabetical order.

JAMES AMATO-collector, author, writer, historian: For me it is Charles Bronson. You could see from his build he was dedicated to training. He also seemed to have that essential “killer instinct.” I think he would have been a rough customer. Honorable mentions to Robert DeNiro and Ryan O’Neal.

MATT ANDRZEJEWSKI-TSS writer: LeBron James. He is arguably the greatest athlete of our generation and could have succeeded at any sport he desired. If he had solely focused on boxing, who knows, there may never have been a Klitschko era in the heavyweight division.

DAVID AVILA-TSS West Coast Bureau Chief: I’d go with Ron Artest, now known as Metta World Peace. He seemed to relish the boxing game and recently trained and managed a fighter. As a player he was quick on the trigger and just a pretty good athlete.

BOB BENOIT-referee, judge, former fighter, founder of MA State Trooper Boxing Team: Robert DeNiro. I base my opinion on his hard work in training for the movie that showcased the life of Jake LaMotta. He worked his balls off to fill the part.

TRACY CALLIS-eminent boxing historian: I don’t know how well Sean Hannity, radio and TV talk show host, would do as a boxer, but he sure talks a lot about his MMA training and what he would do in certain circumstances (i.e., he would do such and such, wouldn’t take this, wouldn’t take that, etc.). It would be interesting to see what he really could do.

ANTHONY M. CARDINALE Esq.-famous defense attorney, boxing manager, advisor: I can think of only one guy, John Gotti. I was told by Tommy Gallagher, one of boxing’s good guys and a colorful character, that he would have been a great boxer but for that accident when he was a teenager that caused an injury to the toes on one foot that forced him to stop. He and Gotti grew up together in the same hardscrabble neighborhood in New York.

GUY CASALE-former fighter, retired detective: I believe Paul Newman would have been a successful boxer! His portrayal of Rocky Graziano in “Somebody Up There Likes Me” captured Rocky’s exact style. Moreover, Newman also demonstrated his athletic ability in other movies like “Slap Shot” where he portrayed a hockey player.

JILL DIAMOND-International Secretary, WBC: James Brown: Godfather of Soul. Hungry, agile, charismatic. Papa’s got a brand new bag!

BERNARD FERNANDEZTSS mainstay, lifetime Member of the BWAA, 2020 IBHOF inductee: I’ve always thought that tennis great Jimmy Connors played his sport like an Arturo Gatti-type fighter. He was pugnacious and played each point as if his life depended on it. I liked the way he hit the ball hard and flat, going for winners instead of playing a patient long game, waiting for his opponent to make an error. I could also go with tough-guy actor Stacey Keach who portrayed a worn-out fighter in “Fat City.” It helps that I thought he threw punches with correct form.

JERRY FITCH-writer, author, historian: Size and strength does not often translate to boxing skills. Few of those big tough guys could take a punch or had the coordination to succeed as a boxer. But one athlete that stood an excellent chance was former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown. Brown was a freak with a rare mixture of strength, speed, balance and toughness. The fact he never missed a game is testament to his toughness. During his career the opponents game plan always focused on Jim. He was gang tackled, punched, kicked, called names, had his eyes gouged and yet nobody ever really stopped him. Although most of his stats have long been surpassed (he only played nine years), his 5.2 average per carry and 104.3 yards per game numbers still rule. At Syracuse he earned ten varsity letters in football, lacrosse, track and field, and basketball. He is often called the greatest lacrosse player ever. Many call him the greatest athlete ever. He may very well have been –with the proper training — a very good boxer. I wouldn’t have bet against him.

JEFFREY FREEMAN-TSS writer: Boston Bruins Captain Zdeno Charo would’ve been a great fighter because he is a great fighter. The nearly seven-foot-tall defenseman is a feared enforcer ready to drop the gloves and battle on a moment’s notice. And “Z” deals out all that fear and intimidation while balancing on a sheet of ice. I can recall hearing that some of the Detroit Red Wings used to train boxing at KRONK gym. If Zdeno Chara had some formal training he’d surely beat Deontay Wilder.

CLARENCE GEORGE-boxing writer, historian: Matinée idol Errol Flynn athletically leaps to mind. He was a natural, as is made clear by the way he moves about the ring in his portrayal of Gentleman Jim Corbett in “Gentleman Jim” (1942). Mushy Callahan helped prepare him for the role, true, but Flynn had been a gifted boxer going back to at least his young manhood.

LEE GROVES-writer, author and man behind CompuBox: The first name that came to mind was Michael Jordan. At 6-feet-6 inches, he would have fit in nicely with today’s super-sized heavyweights and he boasted that enviable blend of elite athletic talent, a ferocious pursuit of perfection, a matchless mean streak and the ability to rise to the most pressurized situations. He would not have tolerated anything but the very best, either from himself or from those around him.

HENRY HASCUP-historian; President of the NJ Boxing Hall of Fame: Pele. He had everything a boxer needed. His endurance was outstanding, his footwork was second to none, his head movement was out of this world and I would bet his hands were as well!

DR. STUART KIRSCHENBAUMformer head of the Michigan Boxing Commission: Hockey is the only professional sport other than boxing in which fighting is allowed. In the 1980’s and 90’s Detroit Red Wings player Bob Probert was legendary for his fights. In fact, VHS tapes of collections of his best fights were best sellers. In boxing fighters take caution to tape their hands and must wear gloves…more so to protect their hands rather than the opponent’s face. In hockey when they fight they drop their gloves and hit anything they can including the hard helmet. I guess not much different than Hearns did hitting Hagler’s hard head. Probert being the most feared enforcer in hockey sought the help of legendary boxing trainer Emanuel Steward at the world famous Kronk Gym in Detroit…just a stone’s throw from the Joe Louis Arena. Emanuel had the reputation of training others other than boxers…such as actor Wesley Snipes and rapper Marshall Mathers better known as Eminem. Probert was a constant fixture at Kronk and learned the finer points of boxing from the great Emanuel Steward. Probert truly could have made the transition in Steward’s opinion and who to better know than Emanuel.

JIM LAMPLEY-linchpin of the HBO Boxing announcing team; 2015 IBHOF inductee: Mikhail Baryshnikov, universally hailed in his world as one of history’s greatest dancers, probably could have been a successful boxer. He had the self-assurance and the awareness to become a star in multiple cultures. He had athletic grace and fiercely practiced hand and foot skills. And most likely he had hardship early and the insatiable drive that often proceeds from that. Even if he had no power at all, Baryshnikov would win fights simply by being Baryshnikov.

ARNE LANG-TSS editor-in-chief, author, historian: Fiorello LaGuardia, the three-term mayor of New York City (1934-1945) was a feisty little SOB. He certainly had the temperament to be a prizefighter. As the son of an Italian immigrant father and a Jewish mother, he would have undoubtedly been a big draw and he would have fed off the audience, ramping up his game. Plus, he had a name that rolled off the tongue and a cool nickname, and me – being an erstwhile club show ring announcer – would have loved to go back in time and get to introduce him: Fighting out of the blue corner, Fee-or-Ellll-O the Little Flowerrrrrr (pause) La Guardia.

RON LIPTON-NY and NJ Boxing Halls of Fame, writer, former fighter, retired police officer, pro referee: It would have to be Charles Bronson who maintained his physique and athleticism as displayed at age 54 in “Hard Times.” Jimmy Cagney also excelled in boxing and judo and would have made a decent fighter. Honorable mention would be Burt Lancaster who once punched former pro fighter Jack Palance so hard in the stomach he threw up. This happened on the set of “The Professionals” after Palance punched Lancaster in the arm. The gangster John “Sonny” Franzese, the TV actor powerful Leo Gordon as a 200lb cruiserweight, and politician Teddy Roosevelt come to mind as well.

ADEYINKA MAKINDE-author, UK barrister, contributor to The Cambridge Companion to Boxing: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, President of the Russian Federation. Putin, a practitioner of the sport of judo, has a combination of ruggedness and the calculating mind of a chess player, the raw attributes required for an involvement in any form of combat sports including boxing.

DAVID MARTINEZboxing historian / dmboxing.com: Here are three candidates: Charles Bronson, Nick Nolte, and Ryan O’Neal. But the question requires one, so it’s Ryan O’Neal. He was an outstanding amateur and competed in two Los Angeles Golden Gloves tournaments.  He had his own pro fighter, top welterweight Hedgemon Lewis. He was outstanding in the movie “The Main Event” with Barbra Streisand. With 100 percent focus and proper training, he would rise in boxing. I have seen short fight footage of him, a southpaw with promise and ring generalship.

ROBERT MLADINICH-former fighter, writer, author, actor, producer, retired detective, private investigator: Don’t laugh but my answer is Woody Allen. Check him out on You Tube boxing a kangaroo on an old variety show. He’s quick on his feet, has fast hands, and can throw a good punch. I see him as an effective but dull distance fighter. Also, Daniel Day-Lewis. He can do anything well if he puts his mind to it. He was sensational in “The Boxer.”

ERNEST MORALES (aka GINO FEBUS)-former fighter, writer, historian: There’s something about Harvey Keitel that suggests he could have been a Mickey Ward type. His gutsy demeaner and stone-cold piercing looks in movies such as “Cop Land” and “The Irishman”, for example, and his interviews.

 JOE PASQUALE-elite boxing judge: Ryan O’Neal in shape. Great power in either hand, great chin and quick reflexes

CLIFF ROLD-managing editor of Boxing Scene, writer, historian: Allen Iverson has the sort of athleticism, footwork, physical grit and explosiveness that probably would have translated well into boxing. He was generally good at every sport he tried.

FRED ROMANO-author, historian, and former ESPN researcher: Billy Martin, former player and manager of the New York Yankees. He was scrappy, as they used to say. Also had a big chip on his shoulder. I think he would come to fight, not dance. Might have made an entertaining lightweight or welterweight if he could cultivate discipline to match his intensity.

DANA ROSENBLATT-former world middleweight champion, commentator: If Dolph Lundgren counts as a famous person, then my vote goes to him. Not only did he have the physicality to potentially become a professional boxer, his intelligence is off the charts. Last time I checked, smarts means a lot as far as who wins in the ring. Read up on this guy. Lundgren may not be the most famous actor at the moment, however nobody can say “Ivan Drago who?” that was born before 1975. Great athlete and even greater mind.

TED SARES-TSS writer, historian: Charles Buchinsky, aka Bronson, grew up in a hardscrabble coal mining region of Pennsylvania amidst extreme poverty, was the 11th of 15 children, and later was a decorated combat veteran of World War Two. Film critic Stephen Hunter said that “Bronson ‘oozed male life-force, stoic toughness, capability, strength.’ and “always projected the charisma of ambiguity…” this background and an extraordinary and well-honed physique would have given him a solid platform for boxing. Serena Williams would be my next choice.

ICEMAN JOHN SCULLY-manager, trainer, commentator, writer, historian, former light heavyweight world title challenger: I’ve never been one to believe that anyone could be a great boxer just because they were great in some other endeavor. Someone will see a great football player with speed and athleticism and take that to mean that they could also have been a great boxer. But there are too many intangibles. You could take the greatest athlete on Earth who is fearless on a football field or a basketball court but he gets in a boxing ring, gets his nose broken sparring, and never comes back. This is not for everybody. And you will never know until you actually get in there under extreme conditions if you can succeed. In many, many cases the most successful boxers are not the ones that those around him thought would be before they got in there.

ALAN SWYER- film producer, historian, director of the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame: The music world’s gain was the boxing community’s loss when James Brown’s amateur ring career was cut short because of a leg injury. But given his moves on-stage, his explosiveness, and his remarkable stamina, I can’t see how anyone in his weight class could have stood up to him.

RICK TORSNEY-boxing official, former fighter:  Charles Bronson. Born in a PA coal mining town, the eleventh of fifteen siblings. His father died when Charles was ten and he went to work in the mines where he earned one dollar per ton of coal mined. His family was so poor that they sometimes had no food and he had to wear his sisters’ clothes. He worked in the mines until WWII when he joined the Army Air Force, where he served as a aerial gunner on a B29 Superfortress. He flew 25 mission over Japanese occupied Islands and he was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat. Throughout the history of the sport, hungry fighters have been the best fighters. Bronson looked the part of a boxer and literally fought for his life during the war.

BOB TREIGER-writer, historian: Herschel Walker. This may be cheating because he did some MMA fighting. Walker had that rare combination of speed and power to go with his incredible athleticism and explosiveness. I don’t think he was ever less than 100-percent in great shape. Walker had to be disciplined as well. All that adds up to a successful boxer. If he’s not eligible because he did some MMA fighting, I’ll go with actor Charles Bronson because he was a tough SOB.

PETER WOOD- writer, author, former fighter:

Every mornin’ at the mine you could see him arrive
He stood six-foot-six and weighed two-forty-five
Kinda broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip
And everybody knew ya didn’t give no lip to big John
(Big John, big John)
Big bad John (big John)

Nobody seemed to know where John called home
He just drifted into town and stayed all alone
He didn’t say much, kinda quiet and shy
And if you spoke at all, you just said hi to Big John

{Big Bad John died prematurely.)

Now, they never reopened that worthless pit
They just placed a marble stand in front of it
These few words are written on that stand
At the bottom of this mine lies a big, big man
Big John

A bit like Sonny Liston

OBSERVATIONS: Charles Bronson (pictured in a still from the movie “Hard Times”) led the pack with SIX mentions. Ryan O’Neal came in second with multiple mentions.

If I had to pick one that stands out, it would be Henry Hascup’s selection of Pele, though Jim Lampley’s choice of Mikhail Baryshnikov is intriguing as is Adeyinka Makinde’s selection of Vladimir Putin.

Iceman John Scully took a contrary perspective and makes a solid case.

Thanks to all.

Ted Sares can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

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A Fistful of Murder: The Fights and Crimes of Carlos Monzon

Thomas Hauser

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Book Review by Thomas Hauser — Carlos Monzon was born into extreme poverty in Argentina on August 7, 1942. He was mean, violent, surly, brutal, arrogant, occasionally charming, handsome with a smoldering sensuality, and remorseless. His life was marked by street fighting, drunken behavior, domestic violence, and more than forty arrests. In the midst of it all, he found boxing.

Monzon’s story is told by Don Stradley in A Fistful of Murder: The Fights and Crimes of Carlos Monzon. It’s the latest in a series of short books from Hamilcar Publications published under the imprint Hamilcar Noir that deal with boxers whose lives were marked and often terminated by violent crime. Told in 128 pages, the story moves at a brisk pace.

Monzon had one hundred professional fights in a career that began in 1962. He reigned as middleweight champion from 1970 until his retirement in 1977 and was honored as the 1972 “Fighter of the Year” by the Boxing Writers Association of America. All told, he compiled an 87-3-9 (59 KOs) record with 1 no contest. The three losses came during the first two years of his career when he was a novice.

Monzon was a big, strong, tough fighter with a good chin and a basic skill set: stand tall, throw a sharp jab, and follow with a hard right behind it. Mark Kram described him as “a perfectly shaped middleweight, tall with long arms and with style running through every sinew up to his dramatic Belmondo face.”

By contrast, British boxing commentator Reg Gutteridge described Monzon as having “little ring grace” and added “he clubs as if wearing a Roman cestus on his fist.”

Those who question Monzon’s greatness point to the fact that the best of the fighters he beat were past their prime (e.g. Nino Benvenuti) or past their prime and naturally smaller men (e.g. Emile Griffith and Jose Napoles). Monzon was also held to a draw by Benny Briscoe before besting Briscoe on a close decision in a rematch. And he only narrowly defeated Rodrigo Valdez in the last two fights of his ring career.

But as Stradley writes, “A strange thing happened to Monzon in retirement. He became a better fighter. The boxer who had often been dismissed as a classless thug was now revered as an all-time great. During the next decade when lists were made of the top middleweights or of great championship reigns, Monzon’s name would always be near the top.”

How good was Monzon?

Hall of Fame matchmaker Bruce Trampler says that he would have been competitive with any middleweight in any era. More significantly, in 2007, I had a conversation with Bernard Hopkins in which I asked Bernard to speculate as to how he would have fared in the ring against Sugar Ray Robinson, Marvin Hagler, and Monzon. Hopkins’ answer is instructive:

“Sugar Ray Robinson at 147 pounds was close to perfect,” Bernard said. “But at middleweight, he was beatable. I would have fought Ray Robinson in close and not given him room to do his thing. He’d make me pay a physical price. But at middleweight, I think I’d wear him down and win. Me and Marvin Hagler would have been a war. We’d both be in the hospital afterward with straws in our mouth. We’d destroy each other. My game-plan would be, rough him up, box, rough him up, box. You wouldn’t use judges for that fight. You’d go by the doctors’ reports. Carlos Monzon? I could lose that fight. Monzon was tall, rangy, did everything right. I see myself losing that fight more than winning it.”

Stradley’s recounting of Monzon’s ring career is largely pro forma. The more compelling portions of the book lie in the portrait he paints of Monzon’s personal life.

Monzon had virtually no formal education and was close to illiterate. At age 19, he married 15-year-old Mercedes Beatriz Garcia. The newly-wed couple lived with her family in a two-room shack where they slept on a mattress on the floor.

“In many ways,” Stradley writes, “Monzon was the typical wife abuser. He was obsessed with control; he had an evil temper; he drank too much.” In 1973, Mercedes shot her husband in the arm and shoulder after a quarrel between them.

Monzon’s pattern of physically abusing women, assaulting people in public, reckless driving, and other anti-social acts was a constant in his life before, during, and after his championship reign. But as his fame grew, so did his following.

“Monzon,” Stradley notes, “didn’t look like other fighters of the day. He was photographed to look like a stylish Latin pop star, usually in a long leather coat, with plenty of gold jewelry. Argentina’s El Grafico [a popular magazine] treated Monzon like a model, featuring him in regular photo spreads.”

In 1974, while married to Mercedes, Monzon met Susana Gimenez (a popular actress and talk show host). Soon, they were involved in a torrid affair that lasted for four years. At one point, Mercedes complained to her husband about Susana and he punched her in the face, breaking the superciliary arch above her eye. Monzon was arrested and avoided a prison term by pleading temporary insanity. A divorce followed.

Susana’s film credits included adult-oriented comedies. In Stradley’s words, “Monzon had abandoned the mother of his children for a slutty clown. It didn’t help that her sartorial sense ran towards pink denim.”

Even so, Stradley recounts, “Monzon and Susana were now the most photographed twosome in Argentina. Journalist Alfredo Serra estimated they appeared on more than three hundred magazine covers, describing the pair as combining ‘the strength, beauty, fame and glamour of the world in a single couple.'”

During his championship reign, Monzon parleyed his fame as a fighter into several film roles. Then he retired; his relationship with Susana ended; and he met Alicia Muniz Calatayud.

Alicia had worked as a model and belly dancer in addition to once managing a hair salon. She and Monzon married in Miami because his divorce from Mercedes wasn’t recognized under Argentine law. They lived together from May 1979 through August 1986 and again during a brief reconciliation in 1987. On several occasions, Alicia filed complaints with the police alleging that Monzon had beaten her.

By 1988, Stradley writes, “Monzon was still famous but no longer important. Most of the time he was drunk.”

On February 14, 1988, during a weekend they were spending together, Monzon murdered his estranged wife.

“Here’s what probably happened,” Stradley posits. “When Alicia came for the weekend, she reminded him that he was late with his monthly payments [for child support]. They returned from their night out, a night where they’d been unfriendly to each other and a witness had seen Monzon hitting Alicia. At some point before 6 a.m., she said something that made the dynamite in his head go off.”

Monzon told conflicting stories after Alicia’s death, all of which centered on the claim that she’d accidentally fallen over a balcony railing during an argument between them. Then an autopsy report revealed that Alicia had been strangled to death.

“Medical examiners,” Stradley recounts, “estimated thirty-five pounds of pressure or more had been applied to Alicia’s throat. Strangling only requires eleven pounds. They estimated it had been done with a two-fingered grip, probably thumb and forefinger in a kind of one-handed death clamp. It takes only twenty seconds or so to strangle someone into unconsciousness. The damage to Alicia’s throat would take much longer. It wasn’t done by accident or in the heat of the moment. It took a few minutes of full-on rage. Alicia had been strangled long after she had passed out. It’s also rare that a strangling victim has visible marks on the neck or throat. The imprints on Alicia were clear and deep, as if someone had tried to squeeze her head off at the neck. He dumped her body over the balcony to make it look like she’d fallen.”

Monzon was charged with murder. The trial was broadcast live on radio throughout Argentina. Monzon testified that he and Alicia had argued about money and admitted that he had slapped her. “I have hit women on other occasions and nothing happened to any of them,” he told the court. “I hit all of my women except one. My mother.”

A three-judge panel found Monzon guilty of murder. He was sentenced to eleven years in prison with the possibility of time off for good behavior.

By 1993, Monzon was allowed to spend daytime hours and weekends outside of prison. On Sunday, January 8, 1995, after attending a barbeque, he was behind the wheel of a car, probably drunk and definitely speeding.

“By the rules of his furlough agreement,” Stradley writes, “he had to be back at the Las Flores prison by 8 p.m. He didn’t want to risk being late. He only had a short time left to serve on his sentence and didn’t want any infractions on his record. So he drove fast. He’d always been a terrible driver. Being in prison hadn’t made him any better at it.”

While speeding back to the prison, Monzon lost control of the vehicle which turned over multiple times, killing him instantly. Two other passengers also died in the accident. He was 52 years old.

After Monzon’s death, his body lay in state at City Hall in his hometown of Santa Fe. An estimated ten thousand people filed past it. Twenty thousand more lined the route to the Municipal Cemetery while six thousand mourners waited at the cemetery entrance.

Argentine president Carlos Menem told the nation. “Remember Carlos Monzon as a champion, not as a man jailed for murder.” But Argentinian journalist and political commentator Bernardo Neustadt took a contrary view, declaring, “We are a macho society that idolizes a man who beats or violates a woman; a macho society that taught Monzon to dress up, to speak a bit better, but didn’t teach him to think; a macho society that wasn’t horrified when Monzon said he beat all his women.”

Thomas Hauser’s email address is thomashauserwriter@gmail.com. His next book – Staredown: Another Year Inside Boxing – will be published by the University of Arkansas Press this autumn. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism. He will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame with the Class of 2020.

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Lipinets and Clayton Battle to a Draw at the Mohegan Sun

Arne K. Lang

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Tonight’s PBC show at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino, billed as a “Showtime Special Edition,” was to feature Sergey Lipinets against Kudratillo Abdukakhorov in the main event. That match-up would have pit fighters born in neighboring countries in Central Asia, the first major fight of its kind on American soil, but Uzbekistan’s Abdukakhorov had visa problems and a Canadian filled the breach.

Custio Clayton, whose 18-0 record was suspect because he had done all his fighting in Eastern Canada, proved to be more than just a worthy opponent. The 33-year-old ex-Olympian from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia held Lipinets (now 16-1-1) to a draw and the general feeling was that he had done just enough to edge it out. Don Trella scored the 12-round welterweight bout for him (115-113), but Trella’s counterparts Glen Feldman and Tom Schreck both had it even at 114 apiece.

Conspicuously bigger than Lipinets – to the eyes if not on the scale – Clayton did his best work in the late rounds. Lipinets, briefly the IBF world 140-pound title-holder (he lost the belt to Mikey Garcia; no shame there) is something of a one-dimensional fighter and as the rounds wore on he connected with fewer punches on the more multi-dimensional Canadian.

In theory, the winner would have been in line for a match with Errol Spence.

Martinez-Marrero

Prior to tonight, Sacramento junior lightweight Xavier Martinez had never fought beyond the eighth round and tonight it appeared that he wouldn’t see the ninth. He was on the deck twice in round eight and nearly didn’t make it to the bell. But he lasted the full 12 to win a well-earned unanimous decision over Claudio Marrero

Marrero, a 31-year-old southpaw from Santo Domingo, DR, was well behind on the scorecards when he caught Martinez with a big right hook shortly after the start of the eighth round. He pressed his advantage and knocked him down again with a flurry of punches. But Martinez recuperated and prevailed on scores of 115-111, 114-112, and 114-112 to keep his undefeated record intact, advancing to 16-0.

This was quite a departure from Martinez’s previous bout when he knocked out his opponent in 21 seconds. Marrero (24-5) lost for the fourth time in his last five outings. The match was billed as a WBA 130-pound title eliminator.

Matias-Hawkins

The TV opener was a 10-round junior lightweight contest between Malik Hawkins and Subriel Matias. Hawkins, a former National Golden Gloves champion from the same Baltimore gym that produced Gervonta Davis, came in undefeated (18-0). Puerto Rico’s Matias, who opened his career with 15 straight knockouts, was looking to rebound from his first defeat, having lost a 10-round decision to Petros Ananyan on the Wilder-Fury II undercard.

Matias’s bout with Ananyan was his first start since his match will ill-fated Maxim Dadashev. The Dadashev tragedy may have preyed on his mind, but according to his promoter Juan Orengo, he was lax in his training for Ananyan. Whatever the case, Matias rebounded from that defeat tonight, saddling Hawkins with his first pro loss.

Matias forged ahead in the sixth, knocking Hawkins to his knees and then pursuing him around the ring to apply the finisher. Hawkins survived the onslaught but had no argument when he was pulled out by the ring physician before the next frame.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Juan Francisco Estrada KOs Carlos Cuadras; Chocolatito Wins Too

David A. Avila

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WBC super flyweight world titlist Juan Francisco Estrada led a triumvirate of world title fights with a sizzling knockout victory over Mexican rival Carlos Cuadras to retain the world title and set up a future clash with former foe Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez who won his bout in the co-feature.

In front of a small Mexico City crowd Estrada (41-3, 28 KOs) proved he could defeat Cuadras (39-4-1, 27 KOs) again and did it emphatically to retain his title by knockout. There was no squabbling about scorecards in this clash like their first encounter in 2017 that ended with Estrada by decision.

It did not begin well for Estrada who endured Cuadras imposing his strength and speed behind a very strong left jab in the first three rounds. And then a sneaky right uppercut followed by a left hook sent Estrada down for the count in the third round.

But that only proved to be a spark for the fighter known as “El Gallo.”

Estrada realized he was falling behind, especially after the knockdown. Instead of counter-punching, the boxer from Sonora, Mexico began moving forward and became an aggressor. The dynamics of the fight changed suddenly.

Cuadras was hurt by a body shot in the sixth round and spent most of his time looking to avoid more contact. Estrada was in full control.

Despite the change in momentum no round was easy for either Mexican pugilist. Both exchanged freely always looking to end the fight with a big blow. Though each were hurt at times, neither showed signs of relenting.

From the eighth through the 10th round Cuadras seemed to find a second wind, or maybe it was desperation. The Mexico City native known as “Principe” fought possessed and managed to swing the momentum back toward his way for maybe two of those rounds.

In the 11th round both exchanged blows and Estrada connected with a left and right and down went Cuadras. The former world champion got up and was then floored with a counter right cross. He got up again a little shaky and Estrada attacked with a four-punch combination that forced referee Lupe Garcia to stop the fight for a technical knockout at 2:22 of the round.

Estrada retained the WBC super flyweight world title and will now meet Chocolatito.

Chocolatito

Nicaragua’s Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (50-2, 41 KOs) proved that an opponent like Mexico’s Israel Gonzalez (25-3) can be faster, taller, longer and younger but the Nicaraguan will find a way to beat you. He did that with a convincing unanimous decision win after 12 rounds to retain the WBA super flyweight world title.

Chocolatito will now probably meet Juan Francisco Estrada for a long-expected rematch. In their first encounter back in 2012, the Nicaraguan won by decision in Los Angeles.

Chocolatito looked dominant in his ability to deflect the speedy combinations by the young Mexican fighter Gonzalez. Nothing worked against the Nicaraguan who skillfully manipulated his way through barrage after barrage and connected inside with body shots and uppercuts.

It was a masterful performance.

JC Martinez

Mexico City’s Julio Cesar Martinez (17-1, 13 KOs) was defending his WBC flyweight world title against Moises Calleros (33-10-1) a virtual bantamweight weighing more than 7 pounds over the 112-pound flyweight limit. Even the extra weight could not help him.

In the first round, Martinez exploded with a blistering three-punch combination the sent Calleros to the floor dazed and confused. He beat the count and survived the round.

The second round wasn’t too kind for Calleros who became the punching bag for the quick-fisted Martinez who opened up with a nine-punch salvo that forced the referee Cesar Castanon to end the slaughter at 2:42 of the second round.

Other Bouts

Diego Pacheco (10-0, 8 KOs) used his height and reach to score a knockout with a snapping right uppercut to the chin of Mexico’s Juan Mendez (12-3-2) in a super middleweight fight. The end came at 2:02 of the second round with Mexican referee Rafael Saldana stopping the fight at the perfect moment.

Austin “Ammo” Williams (6-0, 5 KOs) powered through Esau Herrera (19-12-1) with body shots and combination punches to win by knockout in a middleweight battle. The end came at 1:36 of the fifth round.

Otha Jones III (5-0-1, 2 KOs) and Mexico City fighter Kevin Montiel (6-0-1) fought to a split draw after six rounds in a super featherweight clash. Both fighters started quickly with Jones having good rounds in the middle portion of the six-round fight, but he tired and allowed Montiel to rally from behind. The scores were split with 58-56 for Jones, 58-56 for Montiel and 57-57.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom

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