Thursday, February 25, 2021

Alvarez-Yildirim Preview

 

The year 2020 in the Boxing world came to a close with the return of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez as he dethroned previously undefeated WBA Super-Middleweight world champion Callum Smith on December 18th in San Antonio, TX winning both Smith’s WBA crown as well as the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) world championship in the 168lb. Super-Middleweight division. Of course, much of the latter part of last year centered on the battle that Alvarez had with both his former promoter Oscar De La Hoya as well as his broadcaster DAZN, who has broadcast his bouts since signing with them in 2018. While all the circumstances of the now settled dispute were covered by this observer prior to Alvarez’ bout with Smith, the renewed relationship at least between Alvarez and DAZN has shown that impasses in the sport of Boxing can be resolved if parties are willing to work together. It has also resulted in a relatively quick turnaround as Alvarez will return to the ring on February 27th when he faces current WBC number one contender Avni Yildirim at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, FL.

 

In some ways, the Alvarez-Yildirim bout, which will be broadcast on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN, is refreshing. It is important to remember that Alvarez is regarded by many as Boxing’s current top draw and in the recent era of the sport fighters who hold such distinction are not always active in the sense of competing every couple months as opposed to once or twice in a calendar year both due to their standing in the sport as well as the economics that are involved.

 

Alvarez for his part has said that he wants to compete multiple times this year. While some may say that this is due to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic and the fact that both due to the circumstances of the crisis as well as the situation that developed late last year between Alvarez, his former promoter, and DAZN that he is looking to regain time in the ring that he lost in 2020, it was not uncommon for the top fighters in the sport to compete regularly during a calendar year in between fights that most would consider marquee attractions many years ago. An argument should be made that it wasn’t until the economics for the elite level fighters in the sport improved that Boxing’s marquee stars chose to reduce their overall activity in the ring during a twelve month period. Although there are other factors that obviously can contribute to a fighter’s inactivity regardless of their standing in the sport, the economics that are involved in the top fighters of the sport often competing for millions and millions of dollars each time they enter the ring cannot be ignored.

 

By choosing to not only fulfill his mandatory obligation as far as the WBC’s concern, but also intending to compete more frequently during 2021, it will not only be a benefit to Alvarez himself, but more importantly will also benefit Boxing and it’s fans who have clamored for Boxing’s top attractions to compete more frequently. It is also an arguable point that in terms of the business side of the sport, it will benefit both Alvarez and DAZN as they continue their working relationship after a bump in the road.

 

In Avni Yildirim, Alvarez will face a veteran of twenty-three fights who is also a former world title challenger that will be challenging for a world championship for the third time in his career. Yildirim has twenty-one victories in those twenty-three professional bouts, but what some who have been critical of this fight had planned to as a red flag is in his two losses, Yildirim lost to two of the best fighters he has fought in Chris Eubank Jr. and Anthony Dirrell. The two previous world championship bouts in Yildirim’s career. An additional criticism some have pointed out is that Yildirim was named the WBC’s mandatory challenger, despite the fact that he lost his last fight to Dirrell in February 2019.

 

The political issues that often plague the sport notwithstanding, the more pressing question at least in my mind as this fight approaches is what effect will over two years of inactivity have on Yildirim as he prepares to face a fighter regarded by many of the top fighter in the entire sport. While this does have an appearance at least to some casual Boxing fans as merely a “Stay Busy” fight for Alvarez, there is always a danger.

 

A danger in a marquee star potentially looking past the opponent standing across the ring from them and towards more lucrative opportunities. It is common knowledge that Alvarez has a unification bout lined up for May of this year against undefeated WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders. As someone who prides himself on being an “Old School” Boxing aficionado, this does have the potential to not go as planned as has been the case throughout the history of the sport when a marquee fighter takes a fight in between marquee attractions. While this does not always occur, there is the danger and if Alvarez is not prepared, this could be an ideal scenario for Avni Yildirim to pull off a surprise.

 

One may look no further than what happened in June 2019 when then undefeated unified IBF/WBA/WBO/IBO Heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua entered the ring for his United States debut to defend his title in Madison Square Garden against top contender Andy Ruiz, who took the fight on short notice, as to what can happen when a fighter is treated with little regard and the fight is viewed by some as a mere afterthought. Ruiz stopped Joshua to become a world champion. While there are certainly other examples throughout Boxing history of a fighter upsetting the Apple card, that is perhaps the most recent example. Although Joshua defeated Ruiz in a rematch in December of that year, the potential of a fight for the Undisputed Heavyweight championship of the world was for a time halted for Anthony Joshua.

 

How can Avni Yildirim pull off an upset in this fight? Yildirim is not known as a fighter with punching power having scored twelve knockouts in his twenty-one career wins, but it is crucial that he find a way to get Alvarez’ respect early. In his last bout, Alvarez battered Callum Smith for the majority of twelve rounds, despite Smith having a significant height and reach advantage over him. Simply put, Smith was not able to make use of his physical advantages nor was he able to land anything that would discourage Alvarez from coming forward and controlling the tempo of the combat. 

 

While Yildirim will have a three inch height advantage over the 5’8 Alvarez, Callum Smith stands 6’3 and the mere aspect of height will not be enough to combat Alvarez. Yildirim needs to find a way to set the tempo of the fight from the outset and make Alvarez uncomfortable in order to have success in this bout. The one thing that could be a confidence booster for Yildirim and his supporters is that he has only been knocked out once and that was against Chris Eubank Jr. in October 2017. Yildirim’s loss to Anthony Dirrell came as a result of a technical decision as the bout was stopped in the tenth round due to a cut over Dirrell’s right eye that was caused by an accidental clash of heads earlier in the bout. Although some may say that Alvarez has simply faced a higher caliber of opposition overall, it can be a confidence boost to a fighter being viewed as a mere opponent going into a fight like this.

 

Although it is safe to assume that the odds will be heavily and Alvarez’ favor come fight time, there is always the element of the unknown and it will largely fall upon Avni Yildirim to show that this will be more than a “Stay Busy” fight for Alvarez. We will see what happens in Miami on February 27th.

 

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

 

Alvarez vs. Yildirim takes place on Saturday, February 27th at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, FL. The entire card can be seen globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN (Excluding Mexico) beginning at 7PM ET/4PM PT (U.S. Time). For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices/platforms/Smart TVs, availability around the world, and to subscribe please visit: www.DAZN.com.

 

In Mexico, the card can be seen on TV Azteca 7 beginning at 9PM Local Time. For more information about TV Azteca please visit: www.tvazteca.com.

 

The Boxing Truth®️ is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

 

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison

 

 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

February 20, 2021 Boxing Thoughts

 

While much of the focus of the Boxing world on Saturday, February 20, 2021 centered on the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, NV for the highly anticipated battle for the WBC Jr. Lightweight world championship between champion Miguel Berchelt and undefeated former WBO Featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez, a bout that was thought to be a Fight of the Year candidate, which will be discussed later in this column, this day in Boxing also saw two fighters return to action.

 

This observer is speaking of course of a card that took place at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT, which was promoted under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner. While this event was also notable for the Jr. Welterweight debut of former IBF Lightweight world champion Robert Easter Jr. in scoring a twelve round unanimous decision over Ryan Martin, the card was highlighted by two fighters returning to competition after lengthy absences. First to make a return was former multi-time Heavyweight world title challenger Dominic Breazeale, who faced top Heavyweight contender Otto Wallin in a twelve round bout.

 

As some might recall, Breazeale last fought against then WBC Heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder in May 2019. A bout where Breazeale was knocked out in the first round. Perhaps due to both what happened to him in that fight as well as the ongoing global COVID-19 epidemic, Breazeale had been out of the ring for nearly two years. In Otto Wallin, Breazeale faced a legitimate test in his first fight back from a lengthy layoff. Some may recall arguably the performance that put Wallin on the map of top Heavyweight contenders when he put forth a very difficult fight against undefeated Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury during a period of time where Fury was in between his first and what eventually became his second reign as a recognized world champion in the division when Wallin met him in September 2019. Wallin would lose a twelve round unanimous decision to Fury on that night, the lone defeat in Wallin’a career, but Wallin’s performance in which he badly cut Fury over the right eye that required forty-seven stitches to close after the fight, firmly established him as a force in the division.

 

The question going into this fight was simple, what effect did both Breazeale’s knockout loss at the hands of Deontay Wilder as well as the lengthy stretch of inactivity have on him. Perhaps another question some might have asked was whether or not Breazeale would be ready for a fighter of Wallin’s caliber coming off of that layoff.

 

What occurred when the two Heavyweights squared off can be best described as a Boxing match where the primary difference was one fighter’s tentativeness to let his hands go. This fighter was Dominic Breazeale. Although Breazeale’s pace would increase in the later rounds, he simply let the fight get away from him and Wallin’s greater activity and counter punching were the story of the fight as he would box his way to a convincing unanimous decision victory. 

 

Whether or not Breazeale’s hesitation to let his hands go throughout the fight was a reaction to what happened to him against Deontay Wilder, the length of inactivity, or a combination of both, the outcome of this bout was more a case of what he was unable to do as much as it was what Wallin was able to accomplish. The key for Breazeale will be to increase his activity both in terms of fighting more frequently as well as his punch output in future bouts. For Otto Wallin, this victory will likely put him in the mix to face either Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua, the division’s two world champions once their rumored two-bout series, which will determine an undisputed world champion in the division runs its course.

 

The second fighter to return to action on the February 20th card at the Mohegan Sun was former four-division world champion Adrien Broner. Broner, who has become known for his struggles outside of the ring as much as he is known for his success and setbacks inside the ring in recent times, was like Breazeale, returning from a lengthy absence having last fought in a twelve round unanimous decision loss to future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao in January 2019. 

 

After two years out of competition and setbacks outside of the ring, Broner returned to the ring against undefeated Jovonie Santiago in the Welterweight division. This bout had an appearance on the surface of one that would allow Broner to get back in the win column against a largely unknown fighter. In Santiago’s fifteen previous bouts however, he did have one notable win in the form of former WBO Jr. Welterweight world champion DeMarcus Corely, who Santiago scored a unanimous decision over in 2017. Despite the victory over Corely, most would say Corely, who will be competing under Bareknuckle Boxing rules on a Bareknuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) card in March, was several years removed from when he was regarded as one of the best fighters in the sport in the early 2000’s.

 

Santiago would make a good account of himself against Broner however, in a fight between the more active fighter in Santiago and the more accurate fighter in Broner. What was particularly impressive about Santiago’s approach and overall offensive output in this fight was how he put an emphasis on landing to Broner’s body consistently throughout. Although Adrien Broner has not been known as an offense-first fighter, particularly as he has moved up in weight from the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight division, he showed he still had the timing and accuracy particularly in his ability to counter punch when he did let his hands go in this fight.

 

While the bout between Broner and Santiago, much like the Breazeale-Wallin bout that preceded it did not offer much in the way of highlights, it was competitive and ultimately saw Broner win a controversial unanimous decision. What made the outcome of the fight “Controversial?” The simple answer was the overall activity of Santiago offensively in landing 207 of 697 total punches compared to Broner’s 98 of 338 total punches according to CompuBox

 

Although the three official judges are the only ones who can speak for what they based their scoring on, this observer felt that Santiago was too active throughout the entire fight to not get the decision victory. A few aspects that one should consider is even though yours truly remains firm in my stance that Jovonie Santiago did enough to win this fight based both on what I saw with my own eyes as well as the statistical evidence that seems to support this stance, such statistics are not available to the three official judges as they score a bout nor are such statistics used as criteria in determining a winner of a bout that goes the distance. The statistics do more often than not however, serve as an accurate illustration of what occurs during a fight.

 

While I do not want to question the judges decision, I will simply say I feel differently. Despite the loss, Santiago will likely get another opportunity against a contender in the division based off of this performance. Adrien Broner meanwhile still has the name recognition to secure lucrative opportunities going forward. This victory for Broner however, will likely not quell the criticism he has faced in his career. The bout against Santiago did succeed in helping Broner work off ring rust and the key for him going forward even as the times remain uncertain due to COVID-19 will be to try and be as active as possible.

 

Now we come to what was to date the most anticipated bout of 2021, the WBC Jr. Lightweight world championship bout between Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez. This was the kind of encounter the Boxing world thrives on. Two world champions with one having gone up in weight to challenge the other for his crown. When you throw in both Berchelt and Valdez had crowd pleasing styles, this had all the ingredients of a memorable battle.

 

While some had pointed out similarities between this fight and several other memorable battles between Mexican warriors as both Berchelt and Valdez are, I found myself thinking of what type of fight this would be rather than drawing comparisons to battles of yesteryear. In terms of punching power, I felt the edge would go to the champion Berchelt based largely on his having a career knockout performance of over 83% in his thirty-seven win, thirty-eight bout professional career. In contrast to Berchelt, I felt if Valdez, who entered unbeaten in twenty-eight previous bouts with a slightly lower career knockout percentage of nearly 80% could get the fight into the middle and late rounds, the advantage would be on his side.

 

The primary reason I felt this way was in keeping in mind that Valdez had only fought two times since relinquishing his WBO Featherweight world championship to move up in weight to the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight division. Although success had followed Valdez up from the 126lb. Featherweight division, he had not faced a fighter with the type of punching power Miguel Berchelt is known for and on this basis, I thought Valdez might look to out box Berchelt and possibly get a stoppage late in the fight if he were able to withstand Berchelt’s power.

 

Sometimes no matter how many fights one sees or in my case, covers as a writer/journalist and Boxing historian, what can happen inside the ring can leave you surprised when all is said and done. What stood out to me early on was not only Valdez’ ability to out box Berchelt as I felt would be his strategy at least early in the fight, but it seemed as though he had more steam on his punches than the naturally bigger fighter Berchelt. Something I frankly did not anticipate. 

 

Valdez was almost systematic in his approach early and what was developing into a masterful Boxing performance quickly evolved as Valdez would show he could do a bit of everything that often makes up a great fighter. A left hook to the temple of Berchelt in round four staggered the champion. Valdez had now not only established that he could out box the champion, who was a significant betting favorite going into the fight, but he could also hurt him. The effects of the left hook as well as Valdez’ follow-up offense resulted in a technical knockdown as another left hook staggered Berchelt into the ropes in the closing seconds of the round and it was ruled that the ropes held him up. The fight would continue.

 

An aspect of Valdez’ performance that might be overlooked, particularly amongst casual Boxing fans, is how solid he was defensively as well as what he was able to do offensively. Following the knockdown in round four, Berchelt attempted to step up his pace and aggression by trying to walk Valdez down. This approach by the champion had little success as Valdez was able to use lateral movement to evade the majority of Berchelt’s offense. While Valdez had clearly built a big lead in my eyes through eight rounds, I wondered whether or not the constant movement would eventually lead to fatigue, which is always a danger against a fighter who has punching power as Berchelt has. 

 

In round nine, a combination highlighted by a right uppercut from Valdez sent Berchelt down for the second time in the fight. At this stage in the bout, I felt the fight could have and perhaps should have been stopped. Although no one should ever take anything away from the heart fighters show while in battle, this was a case where I felt the contest had been decided and outside of a puncher’s chance, there was no way for Miguel Berchelt to turn things around on the scorecards. It was also evident that gradually the champion was suffering a beating.

 

What occurred in round ten was exciting, thrilling, and quite scary. A perfectly timed counter left hook to the head from Valdez on a charging Berchelt knocked the champion out cold in the closing seconds of round ten. To his credit, Referee Russell Mora immediately stopped the fight. Berchelt was down for several minutes before leaving the ring under his own power and then being taken to a local hospital for observation.

 

What was no doubt a front runner for “Knockout of the Year” as exciting as it was, was one that should not have occurred in this observer’s eyes. While some may say they disagree with my point of view, the sport has dealt with many tragedies over the years and while I will not go through the list out of respect for the reader as well as time constraints, a commonality of many of those tragedies were fights being allowed to go on longer than they should have as more often than not the fighter who was knocked out had sustained a prolonged beating before the knockout occurred, not unlike what happened here in this fight. 

 

In fairness, Referee Russell Mora did tell Berchelt after the first knockdown in round four that he needed to show him something and following the second knockdown in round nine, he did go to Berchelt’s corner between rounds nine and ten and informed the corner that he would not allow Berchelt to continue taking punishment. Mora’s decision to stop the fight following the third knockdown in which Berchelt was out cold before he hit the canvas was the appropriate call. One may wonder as I do however, as to why Mora did not stop the fight sooner.

 

Fortunately, this story does have a happy ending as Berchelt was released from the hospital the day after the fight with no serious damage. One does have to wonder what the long-term effects of suffering that type of knockout will have on Berchelt if he chooses to return to the ring down the line.

 

For Oscar Valdez, the sky may indeed be the limit after scoring the biggest victory of his career in becoming a two-division world champion. What should also not be overlooked is Valdez also showed he is a humble champion after the fight in stopping his celebration, waiting to see if Berchelt was okay, and then showing respect to the former champion in an exchange of words and embracing Berchelt. A true display of “Class” between two great fighters that this observer hopes will be remembered along with the dramatic way this fight came to an end. 

 

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.

 

The Boxing Truth®️ is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

 

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter:www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

2/21/2021 3-2-1 Boxing Results From Corona, CA

 

Undefeated Jr. Middleweight prospect Richard Brewart scored a six round split decision over previously unbeaten Nathan Weston on Sunday Night at Omega Products International in Corona, CA. The bout, which headlined a 3-2-1 Boxing card promoted by Thompson Boxing saw Brewart get dropped with a short left hook to the jaw in round one. Brewart was able to get up and the fight continued. Although Weston had an edge in hand speed and was effective in countering Brewart with hooks and right hands throughout the fight, as the bout progressed, his overall activity gradually declined. 

 

This created an opportunity for Brewart to make up ground on the scorecards by being the more active of the two fighters offensively. At the conclusion of the six round bout, Brewart had made up enough ground to earn the nod of two of three official judges giving him the split decision victory. Official scores were 57-56 (Weston), and 58-55 (On two scorecards in favor of Brewart). Richard Brewart advances to 9-0, with 4 Knockouts. Nathan Weston falls to 6-1-2, with 3 Knockouts.

 

Also on this card:

 

Undefeated Featherweight Katsuma Akitsugi scored a six round split decision over previously unbeaten Arnold Dinong. A very close and competitive fight from start to finish, it was Akitsugi’s effective counter punching, quick hands, and lateral movement that ultimately earned him the nod of two of three official judges. Official scores were 58-56 (Split between Akitsugi and Dinong on two scorecards), and 59-55 (Akitsugi). Katsuma Akitsugi advances to 5-0, with 1 Knockout. Arnold Dinong falls to 7-1, with 1 Knockout.

 

Middleweight Nelson Oliva began the evening by scoring a second round stoppage of veteran Uriel Gonzalez. In his professional debut, Oliva quickly scored a knockdown of Gonzalez in the opening seconds of the fight with a left hand. It was quickly evident that Oliva was the stronger of the two fighters as he kept Gonzalez on the defensive. Late in round one, Oliva dropped Gonzalez for a second time with a combination of body shots. The punishment continued in the second round until the fight was stopped. Nelson Oliva advances to 1-0, with 1 Knockout. Uriel Gonzalez falls to 5-7-1, with 5 Knockouts.

 

This card, which was the first 3-2-1 Boxing card for Thompson Boxing in 2021 gave a look at four rising prospects, and one fighter making his professional debut. One might say that the two fights that went the distance on this card could have gone either way. From a Boxing traditionalist point of view, I feel the Brewart-Weston and Akitsugi-Dinong bouts were close and competitive enough to warrant rematches. It should not be overlooked however, that these two fights will serve the development of all four fighters well regardless of one’s perspective regarding the results. For the winners, they will be able to look back on these bouts and see what they can improve on in the gym that might make a rematch more convincing in their favor. On the opposite side of the equation, the two fighters who did not get their hands raised will also be able to review these fights and work on what ended up working against them in these bouts.

 

While no fighter likes to come out on the losing end of close fights or on the losing end period, such fights often serve as a tool that fighters and their respective teams will be able to work on and hopefully improve. Similarly, fighters who come out on the winning end of the equation often will want to remove any doubts they or fans might have simply because a fight might have been too close to call. No matter what side a fighter happens to be on, the greatest benefit for all is the experience they will gain, which will only help them going forward.

 

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

 

The Boxing Truth®️ is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

 

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter:www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison

 

 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Avanesyan Stops Kelly In 6 To Retain European Welterweight Championship

 

European Welterweight champion David Avanesyan scored a sixth round stoppage of previously undefeated Josh Kelly to retain his title on Saturday night at the Wembley Arena in London, England. What was the third defense of his European crown saw Avanesyan start slow and get rocked by a left hook to the head from Kelly in the second round. It was also in that round that Kelly would be cut on the side of the head by an accidental elbow as the two fighters were being separated along the ropes.

 

As the fight progressed, Avanesyan gradually stepped up his offense and began landing combinations and eventually turned the ebb and flow of the combat in his favor. In round five, Kelly was cut over the right eye as a result of an accidental clash of heads. The champion would take advantage of his opening in round six when he connected with a combination of hooks to the body, followed by offense to the head that forced Kelly’s gloves to touch the canvas resulting in a knockdown. Sensing he had his opponent in trouble, Avanesyan went in for the finish and after a follow-up combination Kelly’s corner threw in the towel as he went down for the second time. Official time of the stoppage was 2:15 of round six. David Avanesyan advances to 27-3-1, with 15 Knockouts. Josh Kelly falls to 10-1-1, with 6 Knockouts.

 

Also on this card:

 

Unbeaten Welterweight prospect Florian Marku scored an eighth round stoppage over previously undefeated Rylan Charlton. Charlton applied consistent pressure from the outset and it quickly became a battle of the quicker hands of Marku against the pressure and power of Charlton. Charlton dropped Marku with a left hook to the head in round six, but Marku was able to get up and gradually his counter punches and combination punches began to have an effect on Charlton. In round eight a combination from Marku stunned Charlton and set off a barrage of unanswered punches that forced Charlton’s corner to throw the towel in to prevent their fighter from further punishment. Official time of the stoppage was 2:18 of round eight. Florian Marku advances to 8-0-1, with 6 Knockouts. Rylan Charlton falls to 6-1-1, with 3 Knockouts.

 

Jr. Welterweight Gabriel Valenzuela scored a hard-fought ten round majority decision over Robbie Davies. At times an ugly and rough fight where both fighters were warned throughout for fouls, Valenzuela’s effective aggression and harder blows were the story of the fight. While Davies was able to keep it competitive throughout, Valenzuela’s harder punches, particularly with his right hand ultimately swayed the judges. Valenzuela scored a knockdown of Davies in round three with a right hand in round three, but was penalized a point in round four for hitting on the break. Valenzuela had an exhausted Davies in trouble in the tenth and final round, but he was able to make it to the final bell. The ground Davies was able to make up in the middle rounds would not be enough as two of three official judges scored the bout in favor of Valenzuela. Official scores were 94-94 (Even), and 96-95 (On two scorecards). Gabriel Valenzuela advances to 23-2-1, with 13 Knockouts. Robbie Davies falls to 20-3, with 13 Knockouts.

 

Heavyweight Johnny Fisher successfully made his professional debut by stopping veteran Matt Gordon in the first round. Fisher faced no resistance from Gordon. A combination of punches staggered Gordon into the ropes midway through the round and it was ruled that the ropes kept him from going down making it a knockdown. The battering continued and moments later, a combination sent Gordon down for a second time. Gordon got up on very wobbly legs and the bout was promptly stopped by Referee Ian John Lewis. Official time of the stoppage was 2:29 of round one. Johnny Fisher advances to 1-0, with 1 Knockout. Matt Gordon falls to 2-6-1, with 0 Knockouts.

 

Featherweight contender Jordan Gill began the evening by scoring a ten round unanimous decision over former world title challenger Cesar Juarez. Gill was very effective throughout the fight using lateral movement and combination punching to evade the constant pressure of Juarez. As the fight progressed however, Juarez was able to have success in spots. The highlight for Juarez came in round five when he was able to corner Gill in his corner and unleashed a flurry of offense to the body and the head of Gill. Gill was able to withstand the barrage and minimize Juarez’ opportunities the rest of the way to earn the decision victory. Official scores were 98-92, 98-93, and 96-94 all in favor of Jordan Gill. Jordan Gill advances to 26-1, with 7 Knockouts. Cesar Juarez falls to 25-10, with 19 Knockouts.

 

David Avanesyan’s successful defense of his European championship, his fourth consecutive victory as well as his fourth consecutive knockout should put the native of Tabynskoe, Russia in the discussion of potential world title challengers in the 147lb. Welterweight division. Avanesyan, who previously held interim/regular champion status in the World Boxing Association’s (WBA) ratings at Welterweight in his career has certainly made an argument for himself to be a challenger to one of the world champions in the near future. Meanwhile, Josh Kelly has nothing to be ashamed of and with only twelve professional bouts in his career, it will be what he can learn from his first professional loss that will likely determine how soon he will be in contention for the European Welterweight championship again. For the moment, Kelly should take time to recover from this loss then go back to the drawing board.

 

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

 

The Boxing Truth®️ is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved. 

 

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison

 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Gwynne Stops McComb In 7 To Win Commonwealth Lightweight Championship

 

In a battle for the vacant Commonwealth Lightweight championship Gavin Gwynne scored a seventh round stoppage over previously unbeaten Sean McComb on Friday night at the Whites Hotel in Bolton, England. What was a fight fought at a very high pace from the outset, the two fighters engaged in near non-stop combat. Gwynne had the most success in being able to force McComb to fight on the inside and never really allowed him much space to get breathing room between himself and Gwynne.

 

A rarity for the sport of Boxing occurred in round five when Gwynne was hit with an accidental elbow as he bent down to avoid one of McComb’s punches, which opened a deep gash on the back of Gwynne’s head that subsequently resulted in a stream of blood going directly down Gwynne’s back. Despite the wound, Gwynne continued to pressure McComb and by round six was starting to get the better of the action. The constant pace of the fight eventually wore McComb down and late in round seven perhaps out of fatigue, McComb turned his back as Gwynne pressed forward resulting in Referee Steve Gray stopping the fight. Official time of the stoppage was 2:07 of round seven. Gavin Gwynne advances to 13-2, with 3 Knockouts. Sean McComb falls to 11-1, with 5 Knockouts.

 

Also on this card:

 

A bout for the vacant English Welterweight title saw Samuel Antwi score a sixth round stoppage of Darren Tetley. Antwi used an unorthodox style to throw punches at odd angles from the outset. The awkwardness of Antwi’s style created openings, which led to a knockdown of Tetley with a knockdown in round one with a right hook to the body. Antwi continued to throw shots at odd angles as the fight progressed that kept Tetley on the defensive. Late in round six, Antwi dropped Tetley for a second time with another body shot. Tetley did get up from the knockdown and the fight was allowed to continue. Seconds later, Antwi connected with a flush right hand to the head that convinced Referee Michael Alexander to stop the fight with three seconds remaining in the round. Official time of the stoppage was 2:57 of round six. Samuel Antwi advances to 13-1, with 6 Knockouts. Darren Tetley falls to 20-2, with 9 Knockouts.

 

In a battle for the British regional Southern Area Jr. Lightweight title Daniel Carr remained unbeaten by scoring a ten round decision over previously unbeaten Dean Dodge to retain his title. Carr dictated the pace early using lateral movement and combination punching to carry momentum in the first half of the fight. As the fight progressed however, Dodge was able to have periodic moments landing hard hooks with both hands to the head of Carr. Although Dodge seemed to have an edge in terms of punching power, he was unable to sustain momentum and this allowed Carr to get a second wind and regain control of the fight down the stretch to earn the decision victory. Referee Howard Foster scored the bout 97-93 in favor of Carr. Daniel Carr advances to 12-0-1, with 4 Knockouts. Dean Dodge falls to 9-1-1, with 3 Knockouts.

 

Unbeaten Welterweight Pierce O'Leary outworked veteran Irvin Magno to earn a six round decision. As all non-title bouts that do not have an impact on regional or world rankings in the United Kingdom are scored by the Referee officiating a bout, Referee Steve Gray scored the fight 59-55 in O'Leary’s favor. Pierce O'Leary advances to 6-0, with 2 Knockouts. Irvin Magno falls to 5-4-1, with 1 Knockout.

 

Rising Welterweight prospect Paddy Donovan remained unbeaten by scoring a fourth round stoppage of veteran Siar Ozgul. Donovan used his size and strength advantage to dictate the combat from the opening bell, controlling distance and using his reach to batter Ozgul with a variety of offense. Gradually an accumulation of punishment from Donovan’s hooks, uppercuts, and right hands caused a bloody nose on Ozgul and after four relatively one-sided rounds, Ozgul’s corner stopped the fight after four rounds to prevent their fighter from further punishment. Paddy Donovan advances to 6-0, with 4 Knockouts. Siar Ozgul falls to 15-6, with 3 Knockouts.

 

Undefeated Jr. Lightweight prospect Mark McKeown scored a devastating second round knockout over previously unbeaten Brad Daws. Both fighters exchanged heavy shots in the opening round with neither really being able to gain an advantage. This changed quickly in round two when McKeown connected with two jabs followed by an overhand right that sent Daws down hard on the canvas. Daws was able to get to his feet, but McKeown would not let him off the hook, pressing forward and dropping Daws with another right hand. Referee Steve Gray waved the count and immediately stopped the fight. Official time of the stoppage was :14 of round two. Mark McKeown advances to 4-0, with 2 Knockouts. Brad Daws falls to 6-1, with 2 Knockouts.

 

 

Unbeaten Welterweight Elliot Whale scored a six round decision over previously unbeaten Jamie Stewart. Referee Howard Foster scored the bout 59-55 in Whale’s favor. Elliot Whale advances to 4-0, with 1 Knockout. Jamie Stewart falls to 2-0-1, with 0 Knockouts.

 

 

Middleweight Mohammed Sameer began the evening by scoring the second win of his career in winning a four round decision over Kearon Thomas. Referee Steve Gray scored the bout 40-36 in Sameer’s favor. Mohammed Sameer advances to 2-0, with 1 Knockout. Kearon Thomas falls to 1-10-1, with 1 Knockout.

This card, which was promoted by MTK Global provided a look at several prospects at varying stages of their respective careers while also showing a bit of the structure that many fighters on the British/United Kingdom Boxing scene go through as they hope to enter the British championship rankings before settling their sights on potential European championship challenges and world championship contention. Although the world as a whole is still very much dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 global epidemic, this card along with several others that have been staged in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, continues to show progress and hopefully, will continue to restore opportunities for fighters on all levels of the sport that were halted due to the COVID-19 crisis.

 

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

 

The Boxing Truth®️ is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

 

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter:www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison

 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

ShoBox 2/17/2021 Results From Uncasville, CT

 

In a battle of undefeated Welterweight prospects, Janelson Figueroa Bocachica scored a hard-fought ten round majority decision over previously unbeaten Mark Reyes Jr. on Wednesday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. The bout, which was the main event of the latest edition of Showtime Sports’ popular ShoBox: The New Generation series saw both men willing to exchange heavy punches from the outset. While it appeared for a time that it was unlikely that the fight would go the distance due to the pace and blows each fighter landed, the reality became that it was a closely fought battle where neither man was able to sustain momentum for significant periods of time. Both however, were able to have their share of moments in landing hard hooks on each other throughout. 

 

Perhaps a sign of each fighter’s frustration began to show as the fight progressed as the two men periodically exchanged words and both were warned periodically for questionable tactics by Referee Danny Schiavone. What was a competitive fight from start to finish saw Figueroa Bocachica get the nod of two of three official judges making him the winner by majority decision. Official scores were: 95-95, (Even), and 97-93, 96-94 in favor of Figueroa Bocachica. Janelson Figueroa Bocachica advances to 17-0, with 11 Knockouts. Mark Reyes Jr. falls to 14-1, with 12 Knockouts.

 

Also on this card:

 

Unbeaten Super-Middleweight prospect Vladimir Shishkin scored a workmanlike ten round unanimous decision over Sena Agbeko. Despite being cut above the right eye in the second round from a right hand from Agbeko, Shishkin consistently forced the action over the ten round bout, consistently had Agbeko backing up, and did not seem affected by Agbeko’s punches excluding the cut that gradually worsened as the fight progressed, but ultimately did not become a factor in the outcome of the fight. Official scores were: 98-92, and 100-90 (On two scorecards) in favor of Shishkin. Vladimir Shishkin advances to 12-0, with 7 Knockouts. Sena Agbeko falls to 23-2, with 18 Knockouts.

 

 

Lightweight Abraham Montoya scored a hard fought eight round majority decision over previously undefeated Alejandro Guerrero. In a fight fought at an extremely high pace from start to finish. Montoya pounded out the decision victory throwing over one thousand total punches in the eight round bout that saw plenty of back and forth action with Montoya outworking Guerrero as the fight progressed. Official scores were 76-76 (Even), and 79-73, 77-75 in favor of Montoya. Abraham Montoya advances to 20-2-1, with 14 Knockouts. Alejandro Guerrero falls to 12-1, with 9 Knockouts.

 

Unbeaten Super-Middleweight prospect Timur Kerefov scored a first round knockout of previously undefeated Fernando Farias. A hook to the body brought an end to the fight at 2:32 of round one. Timur Kerefov advances to 10-0, with 5 Knockouts. Fernando Farias falls to 10-1-2, with 4 Knockouts.

 

Overall, this edition of ShoBox, which was promoted by Salita Promotions left a bit of unanswered questions in two of the four bouts as one might argue that both the Montoya-Guerrero and Figueroa Bocachica-Reyes bouts could have gone either way and both bouts are likely to see rematches at some point due to how competitive each fight was. Two fights that will join the long list of competitive battles to have aired throughout the twenty-year history of the ShoBox: The New Generation series and it would not surprise this observer to see the potential rematches showcased on a future installment of the series.

 

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

 

The Boxing Truth®️ is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

 

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison

 

 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Comeback of Richard Commey


Originally, the premise of this column was to concern the fallout of the anticipated clash for the vacant WBO Light-Heavyweight world championship between top contenders Joe Smith Jr. and Maxim Vlasov, which was to take place on February 13th at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, NV. As we seem to be reminded on a daily basis however, the sport of Boxing is one that is truly unpredictable. A statement that carries even more significance in the midst of the ongoing global COVID-19 epidemic. Unfortunately, it was revealed as covered here on The Boxing Truth®️ last week, that Maxim Vlasov had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus just days before the scheduled twelve round world championship bout and that would subsequently force the fight between he and Smith to be postponed. 

 

While this subsequently took the main event of the scheduled card out of the equation, the fight that stepped into the main event position also carried an interesting storyline. This observer is of course speaking of the story of former IBF Lightweight world champion Richard Commey. As some may recall, the thirty-three year old Commey won the IBF world championship in the 135lb. Lightweight division in February 2019 with a third round knockout over Isa Chaniev. Commey successfully defended the title once over former world champion Ray Beltran in June of that year via twelve round unanimous decision. This was the set up for his title defense against the unbeaten “Knockout Artist “ Teofimo Lopez in December 2019. Commey saw his title reign come to an end in that fight being dropped with a flush right hook in the second round and subsequently finished with a follow-up barrage.

 

The third loss for Commey in thirty-one career bouts was the first time he had been stopped in his career. Although a fighter suffering a knockout loss in the sudden way that Commey did against Lopez can create a bit of a misconception amongst particularly casual Boxing fans as to how good a fighter might be, in reality, the sudden ending of that fight was a case of a world champion simply getting caught and it could have easily been a reverse scenario. Sometimes all a fighter needs is one punch and on that night it was Lopez who was able to land it.

 

Under circumstances where the sport is able to operate normally, it would be logical to question how long it would be before Commey would return to the ring. While there are some fighters who will look to rush back into the ring quicker than others after suffering a knockout loss, an argument should be made that in the case of Richard Commey, one year of inactivity due largely to the COVID-19  crisis provided him the appropriate time to recover fully from that loss. 

 

The question going into Commey’s bout against Jackson Marinez in my eyes was not whether there would be a difference in Commey physically, but if he would be tentative and not as willing to engage in exchanges of offense. What I mean by this is Commey did get caught by one punch in his fight against Teofimo Lopez and even though the knockout did not come as a result of him suffering prolonged punishment over a period of time, it can still create a scenario where a fighter might be more cautious after suffering a knockout than they were prior. The other term that is often used to describe this under those kind of circumstances is whether the fight will be “Gun Shy” and not as willing to let their hands go as they might have been before.

 

In Jackson Marinez, Commey faced a fighter who was a veteran of twenty professional bouts coming into the fight with a record of 19-1, with 7 Knockouts. While this statistic gave the former world champion an edge in terms of overall experience as he entered the ring with a record of 29-3, with 27 Knockouts, one aspect of Marinez’ record that stood out to me was that he had a career knockout percentage of just over 30% compared to Commey’s over 80%. Although this indicated that Marinez was not a fighter known for punching power as evidenced in his only having seven knockouts in his nineteen career wins, it gave an indication in my view that the intention beyond looking for a confidence boost for Commey, was also to try and get some rounds in. After all, in addition to his coming off of a knockout loss, Commey was also coming off over a year of inactivity and one could argue that it is just as important or perhaps more important for a fighter to work off what is known as “Ring Rust” from a long stretch of inactivity as it is for a fighter to hopefully return to their winning ways following a loss.

 

While the question of whether Commey would be tentative early on in this fight was answered almost immediately upon the bout beginning with a definitive no as he looked to apply pressure on Marinez, Marinez was elusive and showed early that he could make the former champion miss. As the fight progressed, Marinez continued to use lateral movement to try and evade Commey as he pressed forward, but gradually Commey’s power began to show itself and he began landing punches including hooks and right hands with more consistency.

 

Although Marinez had an edge in lateral movement and seemingly in hand speed, he could not land anything to discourage Commey from coming forward. In simple terms, he could not get the respect of the former world champion. This in addition Commey’s punching power set the stage for the conclusion of the fight in round six. 

 

Commey’s aggression had only continued to increase as this fight progressed and the sixth round world be no different as he increasingly found openings to land his right hand to the head of Marinez. It was a right hand while Marinez was against the ropes that would send Marinez down late in the round. Marinez showed his heart by getting up from the knockdown, but with his opponent badly hurt, Commey pressed forward landing another flush right hand to the head sending Marinez down and out on the canvas.

 

At the end of the day, this fight was able to accomplish both the task of getting the “Ring Rust” off as well as provide the type of confidence restoring victory for Commey that should put him right back in the mix amongst the top fighters in the 135lb. Lightweight division. One such fighter who was there in attendance at the MGM Grand Conference Center to support Richard Commey was the man who took the IBF world championship from him. A man who is now the Undisputed world champion in the Lightweight division. Teofimo Lopez.

 

While it is certainly possible that there might be a potential rematch between Lopez and Commey down the line, Lopez himself said shortly after he beat Commey to become a world champion that the roles could have easily been reversed and showed his respect for Commey in the process. In a highly competitive Lightweight division where anyone could realistically vie for the position Lopez currently holds, it is refreshing to see fighters show each other the respect all fighters deserve for the risk they all take each and every time they step into the ring to compete. Boxing may not always be benefited by acts of “Class” like the type shown between Richard Commey and Teofimo Lopez and may unfortunately garner more attention for the negatives of the sport, but the respect shown between these two one time and perhaps future opponents is something all involved in Boxing can learn from.

 

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

 

The Boxing Truth®️ is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

 

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter:www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison

 

 

  

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Diaz And Rakhimov Fight To Majority Draw In Indio, CA

 

In a battle for the vacant International Boxing Federation (IBF) World Jr. Lightweight championship, former champion Joseph Diaz and undefeated contender Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov fought to a highly competitive twelve round majority draw on Saturday night at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio, CA. Diaz, who was the IBF world champion prior to the bout, lost his crown on the weight scale  on the day prior to the fight due to coming in nearly four pounds over the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight limit. This created a scenario where the championship was only on the line for Rakhimov, who came in under the Jr. Lightweight limit. 

 

For twelve rounds, the two fighters engaged in a tactical, but entertaining battle that saw the ebb and flow of the combat shift several times throughout. Diaz was most effective during periods where he took the initiative and got his punches off first. This was not a consistent pattern throughout the fight however, as Rakhimov had several rounds where he was able to keep the former world champion on the defensive and land combinations highlighted by some effective body work. Diaz was able to seemingly regain the momentum in the late rounds and at the conclusion of the twelve round world championship bout the near even combat that took place in the ring resulted in a majority draw on the official scorecards as two of three official judges scored the fight identically 114-114, while the third judge felt Diaz had done enough to win by a narrow margin of seven rounds to five or 115-113 in points. The draw leaves the IBF world championship at 130lbs. vacant. Joseph Diaz advances to 31-1-1, with 15 Knockouts. Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov advances to 15-0-1, with 12 Knockouts.

 

 

Also On This Card:

 

Undefeated Jr. Middleweight contender Brian Castano successfully made the transition from top contender to world champion by scoring a dominant twelve round unanimous decision over WBO Jr. Middleweight world champion Patrick Teixeira to win the world championship. Castano applied nearly relentless pressure on Teixeira from the opening bell and never really allowed the champion the space to get himself into a consistent rhythm as he outworked and out fought Teixeira over the twelve round distance to earn a convincing unanimous decision and the WBO crown. Official scores were 120-108, 119-109, and 117-111 all in favor of Brian Castano. Brian Castano advances to 17-0-1, with 12 Knockouts. Patrick Teixeira falls to 31-2, with 22 Knockouts.

 

Super-Middleweight Shane Mosley Jr. scored a fifth round stoppage over a very “Game” Cristian Olivas. Mosley was very tactical in his approach Boxing behind a consistent jab, using lateral movement, and mixing his offense to the head and body. It was the work Mosley did with his jab that caused accumulated swelling of Olivas’ right eye and this is what ultimately led to the fight being stopped at the end of round five as Olivas’ right eye was nearly swollen shut. Shane Mosley Jr. advances to 17-3, with 10 Knockouts. Cristian Olivas falls to 20-8, with 17 Knockouts.

 

Jr. Featherweight contender Ronny Rios scored a lopsided ten round unanimous decision over Oscar Negrete. The story of this fight was Rios’ poise and consistency in knowing when to let his hands go as well as making his work to Negrete’s body the focal point of his offense as he outworked Negrete over ten rounds to earn the unanimous decision victory. Official scores were: 100-90, (On two scorecards) and 99-91 in favor of Ronny Rios. Ronny Rios advances to 33-3, with 16 Knockouts. Oscar Negrete falls to 19-3-2, with 7 Knockouts. 

 

Unbeaten Light-Heavyweight prospect Bektemir Melikuziev scored a third round stoppage over Morgan Fitch. Melikuziev systematically broke Fitch down with steady pressure and power punches. Melikuziev was credited with a knockdown in round three when his glove seemed to touch the canvas. This was followed by Fitch going down a second time from what appeared to be a low blow, but the fight was stopped by Referee Jack Reiss as Fitch seemed to not want to continue. Official time of the stoppage was 2:08 of round three. Bektemir Melikuziev advances to 7-0, with 6 Knockouts. Morgan Fitch falls to 19-5-1, with 8 Knockouts.

 

Lightweight Dalis Kaleiopu successfully made his professional debut by scoring a thir round knockout over Eduardo Sanchez. Official time of the stoppage was was :48 of round three. Dalis Kaleiopu advances to 1-0, with 1 Knockout. Eduardo Sanchez falls to 2-4, with 0 Knockouts.

 

Featherweight Azat Hovhannisyan scored an eighth round stoppage of Enrique Bernache. Official time of the stoppage was :35 of round eight. Azat Hovhannisyan advances to 19-3, with 16 Knockouts. Enrique Bernache falls to 24-13, with 14 Knockouts.

 

Undefeated Featherweight Victor Morales remained unbeaten by scoring an eight round unanimous decision over Rodrigo Guerrero. Official scores were: 80-72 (On all three official scorecards) in favor of Victor Morales. Victor Morales advances to 14-0, with 7 Knockouts. Rodrigo Guerrero falls to 26-10-2, with 16 Knockouts.

 

The main takeaway from this card, which was promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, in this observer’s eyes is there will likely be s second chapter to the story of Joseph Diaz and Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov after such a closely fought battle that neither fighter emerged as standing out clearly from the other. Perhaps a question that should be asked is whether this fight might take place in the 135lb. Lightweight division given the difficulty Diaz had in making weight for this fight, whether Diaz will want to attempt to make 130lbs. again to attempt to regain his championship, or even perhaps if former champion Tevin Farmer, who Diaz beat for the IBF world championship in one of the best fights of 2020 might enter the equation if Diaz chooses to enter the Lightweight division going forward.

 

As Boxing continues to deal with the ongoing global COVID-19 epidemic, it is uncertain as to how quickly this question might be answered and how long the IBF Jr. Lightweight world championship will remain vacated. Despite the ongoing circumstances, there remains no shortage of compelling stories for Boxing fans to keep an eye on as 2021 progresses. This story is certainly among them.

 

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

 

The Boxing Truth®️ is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

 

Follow Beau Denison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Beau_Denison