Saturday, February 26, 2022

Will The Risk For DAZN Pay Off?

 Longtime readers know that a recurring theme for this observer has been the overpriced and undervalued model that is pay-per-view and how more often than not it is a model that does not serve in the best interest of Boxing and the fans who support the sport in good times and bad. While Boxing remains one of the few sports that relies heavily on such a structure, often referred to as paywalls, it has been my contention going back decades that something needs to change.

 

In recent years, readers have seen this observer’s coverage at an extensive pace of the move not just of the sport of Boxing, but one might argue of entertainment and all of sports as a whole away from traditional television distribution including cable/satellite telco providers, and toward over the top (OTT) digital distribution or in more simple terms streaming over the internet. As this gradual push has continued over several years and continues in present day, among those streaming networks that have emerged on the sports end of things that has made a significant impact in the Boxing world is digital subscription streaming network DAZN. A network that launched internationally in 2015, before making its debut here in the United States in 2018, ironically announcing their launch in the weeks that followed the launch of premium cable sports network ESPN launching it’s first direct to consumer streaming network ESPN+ in April of that year.

 

Much like ESPN+, DAZN would launch with Boxing largely as its centerpiece in America, but unlike it’s counterpart, did so by boldly marketing itself as a pay-per-view alternative even going so far as to produce commercials proclaiming the pay-per-view model to be dead. Although readers know that I have to this point been supportive of this push for the reasons being that the pay-per-view model went from a reasonably priced one many decades ago, to now regularly beginning at an $70 starting price in more recent years. While some have questioned whether or not I have/had a motive for speaking up and being so vocal in my support of subscription-based streaming options as compared to the pay-per-view model, it is important for me once more to state for the record that I do not currently work for or write for any other outlet or network outside of the outlet that yours truly owns and operates The Boxing Truth®.

 

Although some were quick to question why I would be so vocal in pointing out the benefits of a subscription-based model both for the consumer as well as for the sport of Boxing, the reality is, I have no vested interests or biases in regard to such a model. Like many consumers, I too know what it feels like to feel the financial pinch that occurs from paying an often expensive fee to watch and in my case, cover the sport of Boxing. As such, my stance comes from being able to relate to the consumer as well as seeing how such a model has been hurtful to a sport that I have loved all my life and have subsequently spent most of my life covering. If there is a vested interest for me, it is to see the sport of Boxing grow and for it to be exposed to as many eyes as possible because the fact of the matter is, without grow, any sport becomes stagnant and as we continue to see with dwindling pay-per-view buy figures, something needs to change.

 

Although my stance has not and will not change based on continuing mounting evidence that the pay-per-view model is not the tried and true revenue generator for those within the sport that rely on it rather than investing in advertising/marketing and promotion of the Boxing events or looking to reasonable subscription options for consumers that they could use to generate revenue, nor is it the valuable commodity for consumers that it once was many years ago, I  was not surprised to see the announcement on Friday, February 25th that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez would be returning to DAZN for a two-fight deal beginning on May 7th when the current Undisputed Super-Middleweight champion will move up once again to the 175lb. Light-Heavyweight division to challenge undefeated WBA world champion Dmitry Bivol. I was unfortunately also not surprised that Alvarez’ return to the network will coincide with the debut of DAZN’s new Pay-Per-View concept, which not surprisingly will accompany an additional fee for current subscribers as well as an increased fee for non-subscribers.

 

While I do not want to spend a great deal of time rehashing what was announced as readers are more than welcome to read the press release that was made available shortly after it was received by this observer, it is important for me to state clearly, what I will say going forward will not be an attempt by me to bash a network/platform that I feel has done a great deal for the sport since it’s launch here in the United States with Boxing as it’s centerpiece attraction. Nor will this be a rant by someone who claims to be a Boxing writer/journalist, but spends time engaging with fans of the sport on social media in a manner that does little to help the Boxing or themselves as credible sources. 

 

What I will do however, is ask a simple question, which obviously will not be answered within the context of this column. Will the risk pay off for DAZN? A risk in that they are essentially now at least on what they insist will be a limited basis, venturing into a pay-per-view realm where many of their competition’s events including Alvarez’ last fight, his full unification of the Super-Middleweight division by stopping previously undefeated IBF world champion Caleb Plant, significantly failed to reach expectations.

 

Now, some might assume that Alvarez’ bouts previous to that encounter with Plant that was produced by Showtime Pay-Per-View here in the United States, in which he fought on cards that were carried by DAZN were not available outside of having a DAZN subscription. This is half true as some cable/satellite providers chose to carry Alvarez’ previous three bouts prior to the Plant fight on a pay-per-view basis at similar price points as the industry standard, but with the addition of trial subscriptions to DAZN’s network with purchase. While this was clearly done as a way to market the network to non-subscribers who have cable/satellite television, the difference now is, current subscribers will also be asked to pay a pay-per-view fee to watch select events beginning with Bivol-Alvarez through the DAZN streaming app.

 

In the interest of honesty with the reader, who may not be a current DAZN subscriber, the current monthly fee for a DAZN subscription is $19.99, while an annual yearly subscription is currently $99 per year. It is also worth noting that in the same press release announcing Bivol-Alvarez, the network also in addition to announcing it’s implementation of a selective pay-per-view model, also announced that subscription rates will also soon increase to $149.99 for a yearly annual subscription. This is not the first time that DAZN has increased it’s subscription rates here in the U.S., but while some may be voicing outrage and may be expressing their anger through social media and/or making threats to cancel subscriptions in response, I as someone who covers the sport of Boxing had a more curious point of view.

 

As some may know, the practice of acquiring sports rights here in the United States if you are a television network, whether on traditional platforms or digital streaming can be an expensive pastime. While currently the main selling point of DAZN here in America is it’s Boxing content as well as it’s other international sports, which they hold rights to stream in the U.S., in many international countries in which DAZN is available, there is a wide variety of sports content available with a subscription including, but not limited to Major League Baseball’s (MLB) out of market streaming package, the NHL’s similarly structured streaming package, and finally, the NFL’s popular, but expensive Sunday Ticket offering, which is soon to go on the open market following the expiration of it’s longtime exclusive agreement with satellite TV provider DIRECTV here in the U.S.

 

Obviously, I am not on the inside along with those who work for DAZN, but it is not far fetched to think that an increase in the annual subscription fee could be a precursor to the network being able to extend their existing agreements for some of the major team sports leagues here in America, if they are available to be covered in the U.S. market. While that is a much wider possibility that goes well beyond Boxing, I will return to my original question. Will the risk payoff?

 

One should keep in mind that DAZN, like virtually all businesses was impacted by the circumstances of the ongoing global COVID-19 epidemic and even though they have remained strong, they did lose significant finances in the early stages of the epidemic. Although some may view that as merely an excuse, it unfortunately is not and like many businesses, they have had to adapt. What the risk I’m referring to is, is one that essentially does away with their main marketing pitch of “Pay-Per-View quality Boxing without the pain of Pay-Per-View prices.” Even if this is done on a very selective basis, once or twice in a calendar year or once per fiscal quarter, it is a risky move by a network that for all the good it has brought to Boxing, is still relatively new here in America even going on four years of it being available.

 

One way this could be successful is for the network to reduce the pay-per-view fee significantly for existing subscribers. Currently as of this writing, current subscribers will be asked to pay $59.99 to watch the Bivol-Alvarez card on May 7th. When one factors in that at the current price for an annual subscription, which will change for new subscribers shortly before the scheduled bout, is currently just shy of a $40 difference, it is not hard to envision the idea that some subscribers, particularly those who saw DAZN as the “Pay-Per-View Alternative” as it has been marketed to be, who would otherwise be priced out due to inflated pay-per-view prices, would be turned off by paying a reasonably steep fee on top of paying either a monthly or annual subscription fee for access to just one Boxing event. While keeping in mind once again that I am not on the inside and do not work for the network, perhaps a fee of $25-$30 would be more reasonable for some rather than a price that while slightly reduced for current subscribers, is more in line with inflated fees that one is asked to pay via pay-per-view on an all too frequent basis outside of the subscription-based model.

 

Perhaps the key here will be what DAZN means by utilizing pay-per-view on a selective basis. Will this be used for the legitimate “Big Fights?” The type of fights where everyone from the hardcore enthusiast to the most casual of fans will want to see and talk about? Or, will this be a vehicle to entice fighters who have been conditioned to believe that the pay-per-view model is where they will be able to make significant money beyond whatever their purse might be for a given fight? After all, prior to his initial agreement with DAZN in 2018, Saul Alvarez was Boxing’s top pay-per-view draw. While if one is truly objective, that fact cannot be ignored, Alvarez’ brief venture back into pay-per-view under the Showtime banner, while more successful compared to many pay-per-view events before and since, still did not perform up to expectations, despite Alvarez’ standing as the top marquee draw in the sport.

 

Although some might have a very narrow view that Boxing has somehow lost it’s appeal and is on a decline, this observer feels it is a two-tier issue. One the price points of pay-per-view are no longer a value to the consumer as more often than not, for a fee that usually begins between $60-$80, a consumer will only see anywhere between three to five fights on a full card of between eight or ten bouts in some cases. The second part of the problem is the mere frequency of pay-per-view events within a narrow period of time, which can be more and more expensive for a Boxing enthusiast to watch every card that is available via pay-per-view.

 

It is indeed true unfortunately that the days where marquee Boxing events were sold on an affordable basis on pay-per-view for fees under $30 are gone here in the United States. Unfortunately, even as an epidemic continues as well as an economic recession as a result has occurred, we as a sport are no closer to solving the pay-per-view conundrum that has done little to benefit Boxing.

 

While some are likely expecting me as someone who has called for either the end of the pay-per-view model or a significant revamp to be more economically reasonable for consumers to publicly bash DAZN and even ESPN who have occasionally used ESPN+ to sell pay-per-view Boxing events with underwhelming results. I will not do that because quite frankly, I think this could be a way for the network to test the waters to ensure that the strategy they have had up to this point is indeed effective.

 

 

A friendly warning to those who work for DAZN from someone who truly has Boxing’s best interest at heart. With now three pay-per-view events being scheduled between April 16th and ending with the May 7th Bivol-Alvarez event, with the latter being the most affordable of the three (At least if you are a current DAZN subscriber), maybe those at the network should consider when and where to place these “Special Events” on a calendar to ensure the best returns possible, even if it is for them a once or twice a year option as they have claimed. The challenge for the network now is to distinguish what makes these events more “Special” as compared to what has been offered to DAZN subscribers up to now, which has been a great value. If however, those at the network think the solution will be to eventually decrease the value of Boxing cards that are available as part of a DAZN subscription in the thinking that it will increase buy figures for pay-per-view cards in a market where pay-per-view has been failing at a consistent pace, they might be in for a not so pleasant surprise in the form of subscribers that may well revolt regardless of who might be at the top of the card for their “Special Big Fight Events.” Unfortunately, once the concept of value is removed, regardless of the reasoning, it is not necessarily easy for any subscription-based business to maintain their subscriber base.

 

For now, as I often have in recent times, I am taking the “Wait And See” approach, but it is my hope that if the numbers are not significantly successful, that unlike other networks that have continued relying on the pay-per-view model, despite returns not being favorable to even reach the break even point, that those in positions to make decisions for DAZN will stick with what has worked for them rather than to risk alienating their existing subscriber base. Unfortunately, no matter what a Boxing promoter might claim as a “Bigger Picture” and what they see as “Beneficial To The Fans of Boxing” or at least that might be how they will try to sell things, or how a network executive may choose to try and spin things, the only “Big Picture” that will mean anything at the end of the day for DAZN will be an eroding subscriber base. For a network that has been a credit to the sport of Boxing, that would be a true shame.

 

“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 25, 2022

The World Cup Boxing Series: Boxing’s Newest Tournament Concept

 

The sport of Boxing is no stranger to tournament style competition. While many likely associate the idea of Boxing being contested under tournament style formats with the amateur ranks with several tournaments taking place yearly and of course, Olympic competition occurring every four years, the professional side of the sport has seen its share of tournament concepts as well. While many of these tournaments have served a purpose of unifying world championships in a given weight division, often accompanied by significant elements of hype by the respective promoters and television networks involved, there have also been reality television style competitions such as The Contender and The Next Great Champ series that did serve as a way to introduce several fighters to a more casual audience and in the case of Sergio Mora, the winner of The Contender's first season, an eventual world champion, who since retirement has gone on to become one of the sport's respected expert commentators.

 

At last year's annual World Boxing Council (WBC) convention a new unique tournament concept was introduced known as The World Cup Boxing Series (WCBS), which would consist of a mini tournament concept with four fighters being selected to compete in two bouts with the winners of those two fights meeting in the tournament final. While those of us who grew up in the New York area of the United States as this observer did, likely associate the WCBS abbreviation that this tournament coincidentally has, with the call letters of both the ViacomCBS owned television and radio networks of the same abbreviation based in New York City, this tournament concept is unique in that it offers a straight-forward approach that in theory, would not have a long, drawn-out process to complete and would hopefully be absent of any complications and turmoil that has often reared it’s head in previous tournament concepts.

 

The debut of the World Cup Boxing Series tournament would/will take place in the talent-deep 135lb. Lightweight division with the winner of the two bouts earning the WBC's Latino Lightweight championship. Although some will likely criticize the WBC, at times justifiably for its practice of developing and awarding championship belts of various labels and distinctions, while the WBC Latino championship is one that can get lost in the mix of the various regional championships that are associated with the sanctioning organization, the bigger aspect is that the winner of this tournament will likely be moved up in the WBC's world Lightweight rankings.

 

On February 24th, the debut of the World Cup Boxing Series began in Obregon, Sonora, MX. In the first semi-final bout, Isai Hernandez faced Irving Castillo. An important thing to keep in mind in addition to both of these tournament bouts being scheduled for eight rounds is that all four of these fighters who were selected to participate in this tournament are at the prospect level of the sport, which gives this tournament concept a real sense of it being a development tool to gage talent that may be on the verge of contender status and/or fighters that have not been able to benefit from television exposure before. Not unlike a concept premium sports cable network ESPN in some ways pioneered when they began broadcasting the sport in 1980 and awarded ESPN branded championship belts to the winners of tournaments they held on their network featuring fighters who at that time were at similar stages as the four fighters competing in this tournament being promoted by soon to be inducted Hall of Famer Roy Jones' RJJ Boxing, who’s events are streamed on the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) MMA promotion's digital subscription-based combat sports network UFC Fight Pass.

 

The Hernandez-Castillo bout saw Castillo begin the fight by using his 5’5 frame to keep the 5’2 Hernandez at distance where the shorter Hernandez had trouble getting his punches off due to being kept on the outside. As the fight progressed, Hernandez was able to force the combat on the inside. This resulted in an at times ugly fight to watch as both fighters had periods of effectiveness, but neither of them were able to stand out clearly from the other, which can be attributed to the height difference between the two and a bad clashing of styles. Ultimately, Castillo was able to get the nod of two of three official judges in earning an eight round majority decision to move on to the final of the tournament.

 

As for who Irving Castillo will be facing in the final, coincidentally, the main event of the card in Sonora, MX, featured the second semi-final bout between Luis Torres and Rodolfo Flores. From the opening bell Torres stalked Flores with an almost systematic confidence. The difference in punching power also appeared early on as Torres frequently knocked Flores off balance when he would land cleaning. To his credit, Flores had a fighter’s instinct and tried to fight back and impose his will on Torres. What resulted in the second round however, was Flores becoming over aggressive and being knocked down with a short right hook to the head. Torres would score a second knockdown of Flores in round three with a flurry of punches, but then would be deducted a point moments later when he threw Flores to the canvas as he attempted to finish the fight after Flores had gotten up from the second knockdown. A point deduction that would prove to be insignificant as Torres would continue his attack and ultimately be able to force a stoppage of the fight in the fourth round. 

 

This now sets up the finals between Luis Torres and Irving Castillo, which will tentatively take place on June 2nd on another RJJ Boxing promoted card. If everything goes as planned, which unfortunately due to a variety of circumstances including, but not limited to an ongoing global epidemic is never a sure thing, it will be interesting to see what will be next for the World Cup Boxing Series after this inaugural Lightweight tournament.

 

“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

 

 

Pound-for-Pound Superstar Canelo Alvarez’s Next Two Fights On DAZN

 Press Release: By DAZN – New York – February 25: Pound-for-pound superstar Canelo Alvarez (57-1-2, 30 KOs) has signed a new two-fight deal with Matchroom Boxing and DAZN. The first fight will see boxing’s biggest attraction step up in weight to take on Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs) in a bid for the WBA light-heavyweight title from Las Vegas on May 7. The second fight in the two-fight deal is set for September.

Credit: DAZN

 

The May 7 blockbuster will be available to subscribers around the world on DAZN, excluding Latin America and Mexico. In the U.S. & Canada, the event will be offered exclusively on DAZN Pay-Per View (PPV) - newly introduced for very select events to come - and priced at $59.99 for current subscribers and $79.99 for new subscribers (inclusive of a one-month subscription to DAZN). 

 

Canelo Alvarez claimed the IBF Super-Middleweight strap last time out against a tough Caleb Plant, becoming the first boxer ever to become undisputed champion at Super-Middleweight. Prior to that, the Mexican star picked up the WBA, WBC, WBO and The Ring Magazine Super-Middleweight titles against Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders respectively, all within a year to make history and cement his spot as the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world, a memorable period that saw the 31 year old bag numerous fighter of the year awards including ESPN, Sports Illustrated and Ring Magazine.

 

Dmitry Bivol has been flawless in the paid ranks and now bags the blockbuster showdown he’s been craving in the form of boxing’s pound-for-pound king Canelo. Bivol picked up the WBA Light-Heavyweight title in 2016 and has defended it an impressive ten times already to become of the best active Light-Heavyweight fighters in the world.

 

“We’re delighted to continue growing our long-term partnership with Canelo, beginning with a spectacular fight between the pound-for-pound king and a very tough and determined champ in Dmitry Bivol,” said Ed Breeze, DAZN EVP, Rights. “Both fighters were eager for this battle, and we’re thrilled to make it happen around the world on DAZN as well as in the U.S. & Canada by way of the introduction of DAZN PPV. It’s a truly mega matchup and we look forward to broadcasting it to fight fans all over the globe.” 

 

“It is an absolutely honour to announce a multi fight promotional deal with the pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez. Canelo transcends boxing and is the biggest star in the sport and we look forward to promoting some historic nights in 2022 live on DAZN PPV,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “First up, Saul takes on yet another champion, this time in the shape of fearsome undefeated WBA Light-Heavyweight king Dmitry Bivol. Fans can expect a thrilling all-action match up and we look forward the pair coming face to face in San Diego next Wednesday.

 

Canelo Alvarez said: "I am very happy with this fight against Dmitry Bivol. It is another great challenge for me and my career -- especially as I go up in weight and face an exceptional light heavyweight champion like Bivol."

 

“I am also very excited that we have this fight slated for Cinco De Mayo Weekend -- May 7 -- for all the fans to enjoy. We will be ready, like we always are."

 

“I always only wanted to fight the best! I believe that the rest of my goals will begin materialize on May 7th!” said Dmitry Bivol.   

 

Andrei Ryabinskiy, World of Boxing president said: “Bivol vs Canelo, this is going to be a very competitive and interesting fight. I am very glad that we were able to make this happen, for Dmitry this is a big chance!”     

 

Bivol’s manager, Vadim Kornilov, said: “This will be a great night of boxing where two of the best collide for the highest recognition in the sport! The victor on May 7th will go on to become the biggest name in boxing for many more years to come!”

 

2022 – At A Glance

Aside from the May 7 event, DAZN’s schedule for U.S. subscribers in 2022 is strong as ever, including the below with dozens more still to come:

 

  • February 5: Carlos Cuadras vs. Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez (Winner)

 

  • February 12: Daniel Jacobs vs. John Ryder (Winner)

 

  • February 19: Jaime Munguía (Winner) vs. D’Mitrius Ballard 

 

  • February 27: Lawrence Okolie vs. Michal Cieslak

 

  • March 5:  Chocolatito vs. Julio Cesar Martinez

 

  • March 12: Leigh Wood vs. Michael Conlan 

 

  • March 19: Vergil Ortiz Jr. vs. Michael McKinson 

 

  • March 26: Kiko Martinez vs. Josh Warrington II 

 

  • April 9: Ryan Garcia vs. Emmanuel Tagoe

 

  • April 30: Katie Taylor vs. Amanda Serrano 

 

  • May 7: Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol (Live Exclusively on DAZN PPV)

 

The May 7 Canelo vs. Bivol mega matchup will be on DAZN PPV in the U.S., marking the first of very occasional events to come that will be sparingly offered to fight fans on top of a DAZN subscription. This event is priced at $59.99 for current subscribers on the app and $79.99 for new subscribers (inclusive of one month’s subscription to DAZN).

 

The DAZN subscription in the U.S. is currently priced at $19.99 a month or just $99.99 for an entire year (which equates to only $8.33 per month). At this unrivalled value, existing subscribers will continue to enjoy a stacked boxing schedule of at least 50 top-tier fight nights annually, discounted PPV events, and an ever-growing slate of DAZN Originals including many of the most fascinating stories and figures in boxing. 

 

New subscribers to DAZN in the U.S. can continue to take advantage of the current annual subscription cost of $99.99 until May 2. Those signing up for an annual subscription after May 2 will be charged the new annual price of $149.99 (which still just equates to only $12.50 per month). Existing subscribers will be grandfathered in at their current $99.99 annual subscription cost for at least one year.

 

Material and Photo Courtesy of: DAZN Used with permission.

 

For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices/platforms/Smart TVs, availability around the world, local start times in your area, and to subscribe please visit: www.DAZN.com.

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

 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Texas Heavyweight Looks To Deliver In 2022

 Press Release: February 24, 2022 By Brandon Countee – Austin native and Heavyweight boxer Blair Anderson looks to notch the first win of his professional career in the first part of the year. Anderson currently sits with a 0-1 record with his first bout ending in less than a minute in Dallas, Texas. “I should have turned it down, but I didn’t,” Anderson states about the bout. “We put in the training, sparring, and all that. I was all nervous about my first fight, but I thought I was ready. We get to Dallas, and I'm told immediately the opponent pulled out and I ended up fighting a sparring partner. We thought about pulling out but went ahead. I had a guy in the ring who knew my weaknesses and did what he had to do. I got to accept that.” Blaire understands that in sports you either win or lose. Before transitioning to boxing, Anderson played basketball at Blinn College. So, he intends to treat his career not as an individual but as a team initiative. “I got me a good team at management and my trainer, and I have made some changes to learn and grow from 2021.” says Blair.

Credit: Brandon Countee

 

I look like a boxing champion. I am 6’4, handsome, and in great shape and I just need to start my path in 2022. I am a competitor and grew up being one. I got six siblings and played basketball, so I understand that it is not only you out there. I know what it's like to win and what it is like to lose. Not winning sucks, not winning hurts. I am going to move on, and that first bout is a learning experience for the boxing business. It was a surprise. There will be no more surprises.”

 

Material and Photo Courtesy of: Brandon Countee Used with permission.

 

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

 

Jabs And Observations: February 2022

 A new feature here on The Boxing Truth® Jabs And Observations that was introduced in the month of January that will hopefully become a regular fixture of the rotation of content offered to readers as well as in an effort to cover more ground by this observer in regard to the events and happenings in the world of Boxing. Following the feature’s first installment last month, the time has come for the February 2022 edition. While there has been plenty that has gone on outside of the Boxing ring over the last several weeks that will be touched upon later in this month's Jabs And Observations, the February installment should begin with what has happened inside the ring. To be more specific, some of the events that took place over February 18th and 19th around the Boxing world.

 

Obviously, one that is knowledgeable in regard to the sport of Boxing knows that it is a sport that truly operates twenty-four hours a day, three-hundred sixty-five days a year both in and out of the ring. As such, it can be a difficult task to keep track of and watch everything that goes on even as advances in technology in the streaming realm have greatly improved access to the sport. In honesty with the reader, it is one reason why features such as this have become necessary for yours truly to pen as even though my commitment to covering the sport is a true 24/7 passion for me, I am after all only one person and, despite my dedication, even I will not be able to cover all the fights and events that take place throughout the sport as they occur. Such was the case over this two day period as while I was covering a six bout Boxing card that was promoted by Thompson Boxing Promotions that took place on February 18th in Ontario, CA, other events were occurring throughout the sport.

 

First among those Boxing cards that will be covered as part of this month's edition of Jabs And Observations took place in Orlando, FL on February 18th where premium cable network Showtime presented its latest installment of its popular ShoBox: The New Generation series. A series that has long been a platform for rising prospects to take steps towards world title contention, the most recent edition of the series was no exception.

 

The main event saw undefeated rising Lightweight prospect Jamaine Ortiz score a dominant ten round unanimous decision over Nahir Albright. In what was Ortiz’ sixteenth bout as a professional, he displayed hand speed, timing, elusiveness, and solid counter punching to out work Albright over ten rounds to earn the unanimous decision victory and along with it, the vacant North American Boxing Federation (NABF) Lightweight championship.

 

The 135lb. Lightweight division has historically been one of the most competitive in the entire sport due simply to the depth of talent that consistently occupies the division. As most Boxing fans know, the division recently saw a shake up in undefeated George Kambosos upsetting previously undefeated Undisputed Lightweight world champion Tiofimo Lopez late last year to win the title. Since then, there has certainly been no shortage of potential opponents for the champion's first title defense that is expected to occur sometime in 2022. Although Jamaine Ortiz may not be quite at the point where buzz begins to stir of him being a potential opponent for Kambosos or whomever the champion might be down the road, he has certainly put himself out there as a fighter to watch and his having won an NABF title will likely help him progress forward towards a potential world title shot down the line given its affiliation with the World Boxing Council (WBC), who have similar affiliations with other regional sanctioning organizations both here in the United States as well as around the world.

 

The co-main event of this edition of ShoBox saw what was in my estimation an equally dominant performance, but a bout that ended up being overshadowed by controversial scoring. Yours truly is referring to the encounter between Welterweight prospects Marquis Taylor and Paul Kroll. An eight round bout that was the first time in my recollection that I had seen either fighter compete. A fight that can beat be described as one fighter showcasing what turned out to be a superior skillset mixing hand speed and punching power simply besting the other who seemed a step behind, Taylor effectively out boxed a very “Game” Kroll over the course of the eight round bout in what had all the appearance of a clear decision victory in Taylor’s favor.

 

In Boxing however, sometimes things are not always as they appear. Despite the appearance of Taylor earning a victory that should have put him on the radar, only one official judge scored the bout widely in his favor, while a second judge scored the bout by two points in favor of Kroll, which led to the third and deciding judge to render an even scorecard resulting in the bout being declared a majority draw.

 

One does not have to dive too deep into history to know that controversial scoring is unfortunately something that at times comes with the territory not just in Boxing, but all of combat sports. While over the many years I have covered Boxing as well as other combat sports on occasion, I have become used to providing readers with an analysis of how fights are scored and the criteria that is used as part of that process, more recently as was the case with the recent Super-Middleweight encounter between Daniel Jacobs and John Ryder, such analysis is not necessarily warranted beyond sharing my point of view that I simply disagreed with the official decision. The silver lining is that both Taylor and Kroll are relatively young in their respective careers and it is probably beneficial for both that this decision did not occur on a bigger stage and/or one where there was more at stake in terms of financially as well as in the Welterweight division's rankings. As such, it is also not hard to envision that these two fighters could meet again down the line.

 

February 19th was a day in the sport where there was one premise that could arguably apply to three notable bouts that took place across the globe. Former world champions looking to provide a strong argument for themselves towards another world title shot. First to enter the ring that day was former three-division world champion Jorge Linares, who faced rising Lightweight contender Zaur Abdullaev in Ekaterinburg, Russia.

 

Despite having a significant experience advantage over Abdullaev both in terms of world championship experience as well as overall experience inside the ring, the thirty-six year old Linares was coming into this fight off of a loss to undefeated top Lightweight contender Devin Haney in May of last year. Although Linares became the first fighter to legitimately hurt Haney in the tenth round of a competitive fight, he appeared to be on the decline of a fine career going into this fight against a fighter in Abdullaev, who appears to be on the rise. While the story of an aging former champion stepping in against a rising contender is one that is as old as the sport itself, the key going into this fight in my eyes was what Linares would have left at this stage of his career as he no doubt looked to this encounter as a way to springboard himself back into the world championship picture in the extremely talent deep 135lb. Lightweight division.

 

In contrast to Linares, twenty-seven year old Abdullaev was competing in his sixteenth professional bout compared to Linares’ fifty-fourth. As such, it was logical to ask what effect, if any would the difference in experience have on Abdullaev, even though he had the advantage in terms of youth and as well as fighting in his hometown were in his favor.

 

A significant portion of this fight was controlled by Linares’ ability to keep Abdullaev at distance with his jab. While the two fighters were in relatively close proximity to engage with each other on a consistent basis, Linares being able to keep Abdullaev on the end of his jab as well as regularly throwing left hooks to the body as part of combinations he threw off of his jab was the story of the fight for a lengthy period of time. Although Abdullaev had success attacking in spurts, he was not successful in being able to apply pressure on Linares and back him up against the ropes consistently. When Abdullaev connected with punches however, the difference in power was to his advantage.

 

Over the course of the second half of the scheduled twelve round bout, Abdullaev’s punching power began to gradually close the gap between himself and Linares. This was particularly evident in rounds eight and nine when combinations to the head as well as some effective work to Linares’ body appeared to hurt the former three-division world champion. While this could have also been attributed in part to fatigue as the fight was fought at a relatively quick pace, the momentum started to shift to Abdullaev at this stage in the fight.

 

As Abdullaev was able to increase his pressure of Linares in the latter stages of the bout and what worked well for Linares throughout most of the fight began to decrease, I started to wonder whether or not what appeared to be a significant lead that Linares was able to build would be enough to get him over the finish line if the fight were to go its full twelve round distance. After all, it was only two weeks ago that John Ryder was able to pull off what many would consider an upset over former IBF Middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs in a fight that was not unlike this one in terms of how it was fought. Any questions that I might have had developing in my mind about what the potential scoring of the bout might have been at the conclusion of the bout, did not need to be asked. For it was in the twelfth and final round that Abdullaev would catch up with Linares, dropping the former world champion with a left hook to the jaw that sent him down to the canvas. Abdullaev would follow that knockdown by scoring a second knockdown moments later with another left hook to the jaw. A clearly hurt Linares got up for a second time showing his mettle, but he had no answer to keep Abdullaev off of him and after a follow-up barrage with Linares up against the ropes, the fight was promptly stopped.

 

Although the way Zaur Abdullaev was able to break Jorge Linares down to score a stoppage late in the fight was impressive and will likely move him into the discussion of potential world title challengers for current Undisputed Lightweight world champion George Kambosos, the obvious question coming out of this fight is what does the future look like for Jorge Linares? It should not be overlooked or dismissed that by all accounts Jorge Linares was in this fight right until the moment where Abdullaev was able to catch him and put him away.

 

While it was a highly competitive fight fought at a quick pace and the aspect of fatigue should also not be dismissed, what should also not be overlooked is Jorge Linares has been through several grueling fights over the course of his eighteen year professional career. With six of his seven losses in fifty-four career fights having come via stoppage, some may say that at this point Linares should consider retirement. Ultimately, that is a decision that he and he alone will have to make, but for now perhaps a rest and some time to reflect is what Linares needs before deciding what he wants to do next.

 

Two fighters who were idle for lengthy periods of time due in part to the ongoing global COVID-19 epidemic that have circled each other for years for a potential showdown in the Boxing hotbed of the United Kingdom are former world champions Kell Brook and Amir Khan. A potential showdown between the two often discussed, much anticipated, but ultimately one that many people felt was past it’s due date by the time the two fighters met at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England to finally settle what had turned into a bitter rivalry between the two former world champions.

 

Much as was the case with Jorge Linares, both Brook and Khan had the ultimate goal of getting back into position to challenge for a world championship. Quite frankly, even as seasoned as yours truly is in regard to covering the sport and having seen just about everything one can see take place inside of a Boxing ring, at least until the next unforeseen occurrence, I did not know what to expect from this fight as I like a lot of people within the sport questioned if it was too little, too late to make this fight a reality.

 

Of course, the concept of letting a fight sit on a backburner for lengthy periods of time is one that promoters throughout Boxing history have used to their advantage, which unfortunately leads to underwhelming returns when a fight like this happens and almost always is not a fight that benefits the sport. As such, I decided to take a “Wait And See” approach to this fight as both Brook and Khan have suffered severe knockouts in their careers and, despite the credentials each man brought into the ring, I wondered what we were likely to see between two fighters, whose best years may indeed be behind them.

 

To my surprise, the bout turned out to be more exciting than I had anticipated with both fighters seemingly being willing to stand and go toe to toe from the opening bell. While this was competitive for a brief time, it did not take long before the harder punches of Brook began to take effect as the bout quickly evolved from a toe to toe battle to frankly a one-sided beating as the taller and stronger Brook stalked Khan and administered significant punishment that as the fight progressed. This resulted in Khan gradually throwing less and less punches and being in what is often referred to throughout all combat sports as “Survival Mode.” As the punishment continued with little to nothing coming back from Khan, the fight was stopped in the sixth round. Although Khan was not knocked off his feet, the stoppage of this fight was the appropriate call to make as it could have developed into a serious situation from one fighter being allowed to take punishment that they should not be allowed to take. While some of the tragedies that have occurred throughout the sport’s history are accidental, more often than not, tragedies occur when fights are allowed to continue past when they should be stopped.

 

Fortunately for Amir Khan, good judgment was implemented by Referee Victor Loughlin and Khan was able to leave the ring before possibly suffering a serious injury. Even though some may be tempted to say that Kell Brook is right back in the mix off of this victory, I feel it is appropriate to say that he simply did what he needed to do and will wait to see what he decides to do coming out of this fight before I offer a further comment because frankly, there is not much one can say about a fight that evolved within a round into a one-sided beating. There is not much analysis one can offer nor is there much that can be said to speculate about the victor’s future plans. The one thing that can be said however, is perhaps Amir Khan should consider retirement with all of his faculties intact before he gets seriously hurt.

 

 

This leads us to the final fight that will be covered in this month’s edition of Jabs and Observations that featured a former world champion that is perhaps most likely to fight for a world championship than the aforementioned previous three former world champions. I am speaking of undefeated former WBO Jr. Middleweight world champion Jaime Munguia, who returned to the ring also on February 19th to face fellow undefeated contender D'Mitrius Ballard in a Middleweight bout in Munguia’s hometown of Tijuana, MX. This was a fight that was actually scheduled to take place twice over the last year, but was changed due to Ballard suffering injuries while training for the bout. This resulted in Munguia scoring victories over Kamil Szeremeta and Gabriel Rosado respectively even though Ballard did return to action in scoring a ten round decision over Paul Valenzuela on the undercard of Munguia’s fight with Rosado last November.

 

In what was Munguia’s fifth bout as a 160lb. Middleweight, the third time proved to be the charm as Ballard finally got his chance against one of Boxing’s hottest rising stars. Unfortunately for Ballard, a native of Temple Hills, MD, his first chance on a marquee stage in the sport did not go well. Although Ballard started off well in the first two rounds of the fight and was able to hold his own as well as have moments of success occasionally, Munguia, a fighter known for his punching power made that power known beginning in the second round when he was able to land a left hook that appeared to land on the temple of Ballard and momentarily stunned him. In round three, the two fighters engaged in some heated exchanges of offense with Munguia getting the better of the action. It would be midway through the round when Munguia would catch Ballard with a lunging, but flush left hook to the chin that set off a barrage of punches and sent Ballard down on his stomach on the canvas.

 

Ballard was very “Game” in being able to beat the count, but appeared as though he was disoriented and seemed to look to his corner. As Ballard was able to beat the count and allowed to continue, Munguia pressed forward with a barrage of unanswered punches that forced the fight to be stopped. After what ended up being a tougher fight than some had expected against Gabriel Rosado last November, Munguia showed in this fight that he does still have the punching power at 160lbs. to end fights quickly if the opportunity arises as he had done as a 154lb. Jr. Middleweight.

 

As for what is next for Jaime Munguia, it should be noted that he looked as if he struggled to make the 160lb. Middleweight limit for this fight against D'Mitrius Ballard. Munguia is currently rated number one in the world by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) in the Middleweight division. The current WBO champion, Demetrius Andrade, appears to be eying a move up to the 168lb. Super-Middleweight division to hopefully entice a potential showdown against current Undisputed world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. In perhaps an unintentional segue on this observer’s part, much of the big story that has occurred outside of the ring in recent weeks has centered squarely on Alvarez and a possible two-bout agreement with promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, Andrade’s current promoter, which would see Alvarez return to digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN for two fights against undefeated WBA Light-Heavyweight world champion Dmitry Bivol in a temporary return to the 175lb. Light-Heavyweight division where he held the WBO world champion in 2019, and if he were successful, a long awaited third encounter between Alvarez and two-time Middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin, who would subsequently move up eight pounds to challenge Alvarez for his Undisputed Super-Middleweight world championship.

 

While nothing has been announced as of this writing, it does not come as a surprise to yours truly that Alvarez would return to a broadcast platform in DAZN that has broadcast most of his bouts dating back to an initial $365 million agreement between the network, himself, and his then promoter Oscar De La Hoya. Although the business relationship between Alvarez and De La Hoya eventually soured and led to a lawsuit between Alvarez, the promoter, and the network, which resulted in the dissolving of that agreement, Alvarez remained with the network on a fight by fight basis for three more bouts before venturing to the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner for his completion of the unification process for his bout with then IBF Super-Middleweight world champion Caleb Plant last year.  While that bout, which was broadcast on Showtime Pay-Per-View here in the United States did better compared to what several other pay-per-view events before or since have done in terms of buys, and that can be attributed directly to Alvarez’ status as the top marquee draw in the sport, it is not surprising to see that he would return to a platform in DAZN where he is likely to make more money on a guaranteed basis compared to the pay-per-view model, as well as renewing a relationship with Hearn, who he developed a solid working relationship with in the aftermath of his split from De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions. It is also worth noting that the well-publicized lawsuit between Alvarez, De La Hoya, and DAZN, likely had it’s roots between tensions between Alvarez and De La Hoya rather than with Alvarez and the network.

 

What this could all mean for a fighter in Munguia’s position being promoted by De La Hoya, who also recently extended his broadcast agreement with DAZN could be two potential opportunities. The first would be the possibility of fighting for the vacated WBO Middleweight world championship should Demetrius Andrade vacate and move up to 168lbs. to chase a fight with Alvarez. Option two, would be if he cannot make the 160lb. Middleweight limit any longer, that Munguia himself would move up to 168lbs. where a potential fight with Alvarez or perhaps Gennady Golovkin if he chooses to stay at Super-Middleweight, assuming the third fight against Alvarez comes to fruition, would be a significant draw and would each probably sell out a soccer stadium in Mexico. In short, there are no shortage of opportunities for Alvarez against fighters currently aligned with either Eddie Hearn, Oscar De La Hoya, and DAZN and if Alvarez were to remain with the network beyond the rumored two-fight deal, there would also be no shortage of opportunity for those fighters who are looking to secure a fight with Alvarez and might lead to a mass exodus of top contenders and world champions in the 160lb. Middleweight division as there are always fighters who regardless of promotional ties, or network affiliation, are always looking for greener pastures.

 

It may simply or perhaps not so simply depending on one’s perspective, come down to whether or not Alvarez and De La Hoya are willing to put their differences aside if a potential fight is available for Munguia and whether fighters who are competing under the PBC promotional banner and on different networks will seek bouts with Alvarez. Even if it means doing so outside of their promotional banner, which unfortunately, rival promoters have shown in the past to put their interests ahead of the fighters they represent. The bottom line folks is the circumstances of what Saul Alvarez does next will continue to dominate the Boxing landscape and news cycle at least until something is formally announced and fighters in three weight divisions from Middleweight to Light-Heavyweight are all waiting to see what he will do. Although it is a cliché, the only advice this observer can offer to his readers is “Stay Tuned.”

 

“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

 

 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

PROBELLUM AND LOU DIBELLA ANNOUNCE LANDMARK DEAL

 

Press Release: By Probellum – LOS ANGELES, FEBRUARY 22 – Probellum is thrilled to announce a major strategic partnership with Boxing Hall of Fame promoter Lou DiBella and his company DiBella Entertainment. 

Credit: Probellum

 

The strategic partnership will see Probellum, a global promotion and media company that launched last year, and the legendary DiBella collaborate on a number of fronts in a bid to further their shared vision of advancing the sport of boxing.

 

This will include co-promotional activities around key fighters in the DiBella Entertainment stable, support for grassroots boxing in the United States, and the continued growth of Probellum’s international network of co-promotional partners.

 

“Today is a landmark day for Probellum. I am delighted to be able to formally announce our strategic partnership deal with the great Lou DiBella,” said Richard Schaefer, President of Probellum.

 

“Lou and I have known and worked together for many years and his influence and reputation in boxing needs little explanation.

 

“He has led great change in the past and alongside the excellent team we are building at Probellum, I have every confidence that we will be able to create a new era for our sport.”

 

“Boxing has to change. For too long, self-interest and politics have got in the way of what the fighters and the fans really want – the best against the best, in locations all around the world,” added Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment.

 

“I have been very vocal about the need to transform our sport and I am so pleased to have found people who share that vision and are taking significant steps to make it a reality.

 

“Probellum is the only business in the market with the vision and strategy to disrupt boxing’s status quo on a truly global scale and I didn’t hesitate to begin collaborating when they called. Change is coming and we’re ready to go.”

 

DiBella was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2020 after decades of being one of the most influential figures in boxing, including being the driving force of HBO’s boxing coverage for 11 years as the network’s Senior Vice President in Charge of Programming.

 

In the role, DiBella was the man behind the widely acclaimed Boxing After Dark series before going on to launch DiBella Entertainment and becoming one of boxing’s most important promoters, guiding the careers of a hugely impressive list of world champions, which includes Bernard Hopkins, Sergio Martinez and Jermain Taylor.

 

Probellum was founded in September 2021 and has become the fastest-growing brand in the sport, making its intentions clear with a raft of top-level fighter signings including  Nonito Donaire, Regis Prograis, Estelle Mossely and Donnie Nietes and multiple co-promotional deals across the globe.

 

“Since launch, we have surpassed even our most ambitious expectations in relation to the quality and breadth of the fighters and international co-promotional deals we’ve signed, but today is a game-changing moment for Probellum and the wider boxing industry,” added Harrison Whitman, Chief Strategy and Legal Office at Probellum.

 

“Forming this strategic relationship with Lou is going to help bring about important change to the sport and provide fans and fighters with more opportunities for great fights.”

 

For ticket news, live news and updates, be sure to follow Probellum on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. 

 

About Probellum

 

Launched in September 2021, Probellum is a global boxing promotion and media company, and the fastest-growing brand in the sport.

 

Probellum’s elite stable includes Nonito Donaire, Regis Prograis, Estelle Mossely, Lee McGregor, Donnie Nietes, Troy Williamson, Dina Thorslund, Muhammad Waseem, O’Shaquie Foster, Will Cawley, Mark Dickinson and Pat and Luke McCormack. 

 

Since launching, Probellum has signed co-promotional partnerships with some of the biggest promoters globally, including Wasserman (Germany), Universum (Germany), GYM (Canada), Maravilla Box (Spain), Team Ellis (Australia), Titov Boxing Promotions (Russia), Volcano Boxing (El Salvador), BXSTRS Promotions (Mexico), PR Best (Puerto Rico) Glozier Boxing (New Zealand), Box Office Sports (Ghana) and LNK Boxing (Latvia).

 

Probellum hosted its inaugural event at Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena in December 2021 and returns to Middle East in March for a double-header.

 

Probellum Evolution takes place at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on March 18 and 19, with both shows topped by world title fights. 

 

Material and Photo Courtesy of: Probellum Used with permission.

 

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

 

 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Jackson England Ready For Step Up Clash With Paul Fleming On Inaugural Stan Sports PPV


Press Release: February 22, 2022 By Dragon Fire Boxing – Highly touted Western Australian Jackson England is set for the biggest night of his career, as he steps up in class against Australian standout Paul Fleming. 

Credit: Dragon Fire Boxing

 

England has been mostly punch-perfect as a professional, with his recent contests resulting in him winning silverware and gaining ratings in the WBC and IBO respectively.

 

The Perth native now takes a career step up against Fleming over 10 rounds, and the likable all-action featherweight opened up on his clash with Fleming.

 

England said, "This is what dreams are made of. The first PPV event on Stan Sports at the ICC Arena in Sydney and sharing a card with the likes of Sonny Bill Williams. This is what I got into boxing for.

 

"I have to say a massive thank you to my manager Tony Tolj and Green Machine Promotions for putting me on in such a great fight with Paul Fleming. Fleming is a great fighter and all the respect to him for giving me this opportunity.

 

"Paul has been around forever, this is a real test for me, but I think my youth and my athletism give me the edge in this fight. As the fight goes on I know I'll get stronger and this will be the key."

 

England is guided by Australian boxing mastermind Tony Tolj, and the Dragon Fire Boxing chief weighed in on his charge's chances against the experienced Fleming.

 

Tolj said, "This is a great fight for Australian boxing fans, and thank you to Green Machine Promotions for putting this fight on this great event.

 

"Jackson has looked great in his last few fights and is ready for a step up, and I think this is a better chance than ever to get rated in the WBA IBF, WBC & WBO, so why not.

 

"Boxing is all about taking calculated risks and this is what this is. Fleming is a class act and I have nothing but respect for him, I just think this could be Jackson's time to shine."

 

Material and Photo Courtesy of: Dragon Fire Boxing Used with permission.

 

For more information about Dragon Fire Boxing please visit Dragon Fire Boxing’s official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DragonFireBoxing.

 

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

Friday, February 18, 2022

Torres KO’s Mino In 6

 

Undefeated Lightweight prospect Ruben Torres scored an impressive sixth round knockout over veteran Cristian Mino on Friday night at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, CA. Torres simply took his time in a fight that had the appearance as though it would go the distance. By utilizing his reach to keep the shorter Mino at distance, Torres was able to pick his shots. As the fight progressed, the punches Torres was able to land were gradually having an effect on Mino. In round six a beautiful left hook to the body followed by a right hand to the head sent Mino down. Mino showed his mettle by getting up from the knockdown, but moments later, a left hook to the solar plexus sent Mino down in significant pain. The bout was immediately stopped. Official time of the stoppage was 1:37 of round six. Ruben Torres advances to 18-0, with 15 Knockouts.  Cristian Mino falls to 20-5-2, with 15 Knockouts.

 

Also on this card:

 

In a Featherweight rematch from a fight in 2018, Horacio Garcia avenged his split decision loss to Isaac Zarate, by scoring a convincing eight round majority decision in the second encounter. What was Garcia’s first fight since that loss to Zarate nearly four years ago, the rematch followed one pattern. Garcia using his taller 5’8 frame to systematically walk the 5’5 Zarate down and out work him with offense to the body and head. While there was nothing that changed the pattern of this bout and Garcia appeared to be clearly dominant in the fight even cutting Zarate over the right eye in the final round, one of the three official judges scored the fight even, where the remaining two judges scored the fight widely in Garcia’s favor. Official scores were: 80-72, 79-73, and 76-76 (Even) giving Garcia the split decision victory. Horacio Garcia advances to 35-5-1, with 25 Knockouts. Isaac Zarate falls to 16-6-4, with 2 Knockouts.

 

 An entertaining Welterweight bout saw Luis Lopez survive a stern test in scoring a six round majority decision over Cristian Dominguez. Dominguez almost immediately showed he came to fight as a short right hook buckled the legs of Lopez in the opening round followed by a flush left hook to the head that sent Lopez down. Lopez was able to get up from the knockdown, but late in the first round, Dominguez would drop him hard for a second time, this time with a wide right hook to the head. Lopez was able to survive the round. Round two saw Lopez willing to engage in a toe to toe war with Dominguez and as the fight progressed, he was able to gradually implement an attack to Dominguez’ body. It was this approach and consistent attack that allowed Lopez to work his way back into the fight and ultimately pound out a hard fought majority decision victory. Official scores were: 57-55, (On two scorecards) and 56-56 (Even) resulting in Lopez getting the win. Luis Lopez advances to 10-1-1, with 4 Knockouts. Cristian Dominguez falls to 11-4, with 6 Knockouts.

 

Undefeated Featherweight Japhethlee Llamido scored a six round unanimous decision over Erick Benitez. A fight where both fighters seemed to have trouble finding their rhythm, Llamido got the better of the action in most of the rounds. In round five, Llamido scored a knockdown of Benitez with a short right hand and went on to earn the decision victory. Official scores were: 59-54, (On two scorecards) and 58-55 in favor of Llamido. Japhethlee Llamido advances to 6-0, with 2 Knockouts. Erick Benitez falls to 2-3, with 1 Knockout.

 

 A battle of unbeaten Jr. Featherweights saw Sean Brewer scored a first round knockout over previously undefeated Ivan Zarate. Brewer stunned Zarate with a right hook and had him cornered. Zarate tried to move his head and did manage to avoid some of Brewer’s follow up barrage, but it would be a combination of right hooks to the jaw that sent Zarate down on the canvas. The bout was stopped immediately. Zarate remained on his back for a few minutes following the stoppage, but did leave the ring under his own power. Official time of the stoppage was 2:50 of round one. Sean Brewer advances to 2-0, with 1 Knockout. Ivan Zarate falls to 3-1, with 1 Knockout.

 

Unbeaten Heavyweight Oscar Torrez began the evening by scoring a four round unanimous decision over veteran Daniel Najera. In what was the first fight for Torrez in nearly three years, he simply went through the motions against a very “Game” Najera. A highlight came in the fourth and final round when Torrez staggered Najera with a left hook that sent him on the defensive against the ropes. Despite appearing as though Torrez was on the verge of a stoppage, Najera was able to hang in there and go the distance. All three official judges scored the bout 40-36 in favor of Torrez giving him the decision victory. Oscar Torrez advances to 8-0, with 4 Knockouts. Daniel Najera falls to 9-7-1, with 4 Knockouts.

 

The eighteenth victory in the career of Ruben Torres, one of promoter Ken Thompson of Thompson Boxing’s hottest prospects, earned him the United States Boxing Council (USBC) Lightweight championship. While the USBC is a regional championship, it’s affiliation with the World Boxing Council (WBC) will likely mean that Torres will see himself positioned in the top twenty-five world rated contenders when the WBC next updates it’s Lightweight rankings.

 

Following a lengthy stretch where Thompson Boxing staged shows in fanless environments due to the ongoing global COVID-19 epidemic, this card took place in an atmosphere that many promoters around the world should truly now appreciate as the epidemic unfortunately continues, an atmosphere featuring an enthusiastic crowd.  As Thompson Boxing continues to develop prospects, the future will hopefully be bright both for the promoter as well as the fighters they represent. For Ruben Torres, 2022 just may be the year where he can progress from highly touted prospect to contender with the aim of challenging for a world championship. While anything can happen in the sport of Boxing, it is certainly not hard to see why many in the sport are looking at Torres as potentially the next world champion to box under the Thompson Boxing promotional banner. We will see what the future holds for this fighter on the rise as 2022 progresses.

 

“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 17, 2022

Jacobs-Ryder: Controversy Or Appropriate Decision?

 

Anyone who covers the sport of Boxing and to be more specific those who specialize in penning columns on a variety of subjects including previews and post-fight analysis can likely relate to the uniqueness of one's creative process. For yours truly, there are times when a basic concept will start to form in my mind of what I will be writing in a forthcoming column at several times. Times which can be the practice of me sitting at my desk and staring at the dreaded blank page waiting for inspiration to strike, or in the context of current technology, being able to pick up my cell phone or a tablet at any time when an idea/concept comes to mind. There are even times when I will start forming an idea in my mind as I cover a fight thinking with each passing round that the forming concept will indeed be what I end up going with when all is said and done.

 

In some instances however, a concept that forms in the mind that seems by all accounts to be supported by what one is seeing with their eyes as a bout occurs, can take a surprising and one might say drastic turn that results in a general concept being completely done away with. Such an instance occurred for this observer during the February 12th Super-Middleweight bout between former IBF Middleweight world champion Daniel Jacobs and former world title challenger and longtime Middleweight and Super-Middleweight contender John Ryder, which took place at the Alexandria Palace in London, England.

 

A bout that had the premise of two fighters, one a former world champion, the other a longtime contender that were each at a “Crossroads.” An obvious storyline that accompanied this encounter at least in the eyes of some was that it could well have been a scenario where the fighter who did not emerge victorious could see their career come to an end.

 

As those who read the preview column penned by yours truly, which was released here on The Boxing Truth® on the eve of the fight, I did not necessarily share the point of view that a loss for either fighter in this fight would necessarily mean the end of the road for them. This was due largely to the current landscape of the 168lb. Super-Middleweight division being in a state of flux as current undisputed world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez plots his next move, which may see him move up in weight and potentially open up significant opportunities for contenders if he were to vacate the respective world championships that currently comprise the Undisputed Super-Middleweight world championship.

 

There was however, one wrinkle in the equation that I briefly made reference to prior to this bout that could not and was not overlooked by yours truly. The fact that for the first time as a professional, Daniel Jacobs, a native of Brooklyn, NY would be fighting in an atmosphere that is not the easiest to prepare for. An atmosphere truly unique throughout all combat sports. For the first time, Jacobs would be fighting in front of a British Boxing crowd.

 

Those who are familiar with the Boxing and by extension the combat sports scene throughout the United Kingdom will likely agree with this observer that there truly is nothing like the atmosphere that fans throughout the United Kingdom provides. From true enthusiasm to extremely vocal support, which often includes elements of chanting and singing both before and during the course of a fight, more than a few fighters who had traveled to the U.K. have found it difficult to adjust to such an atmosphere, even someone as experienced as Jacobs.

 

Why was this of such interest? For the simple reason that Jacobs would be fighting a boxer in Ryder, who is from London. This essentially meant that Jacobs would be walking into what for all intents and purposes, was the Boxing equivalent of a lion’s den. To his credit however, the former world champion did not appear awed by the circumstances and for much of the first six rounds of this fight was able to do something that many fighters who have traveled to the United Kingdom to compete have found difficult to accomplish. Jacobs was able to implement an approach and strategy that seemingly brought an enthusiastic crowd down to relative calm. By implementing a measured offensive approach, which had an emphasis on movement, using his jab, and counter punching, Jacobs seemed to clearly win the first half of the scheduled twelve round bout where the consensus was that the pace he set forth was allowing him to control the combat and generally get the better of the action during periodic exchanges where John Ryder simply had trouble getting into a rhythm and getting his punches off consistently. While not necessarily the most crowd pleasing fight to watch during this stage of the bout, Jacobs did what he needed to do and was clearly ahead on my scorecard as the fight moved into the seventh round.

 

As that round began, the start of the second half of the fight, I felt that the material that I would be writing post-fight would center on Jacobs putting forth a workmanlike performance in a bout that barring something dramatic, had all the appearance of a fight that would likely be scored wide in favor of Jacobs if it went the distance. What did happen may not have been dramatic, but it did certainly create a debate. It was over the remaining six rounds that John Ryder was able to put together a rally and, in the process, bring the crowd back into the fight. In contrast to how the first six rounds were fought with Jacobs being able to largely keep Ryder at distance with his jab and being able to use movement to maintain that distance, from round seven on, Ryder was able to force the combat on the inside and once in close, he was very effective in being able to land to the body and head of Jacobs.

 

Part of the reason why Ryder was able to be as successful as he was during this stage of the fight was Jacobs got away from throwing his jab as consistently as he had done in the first six rounds of the fight. This along with also not using his legs to establish distance between himself and his opponent, created the opportunity that Ryder needed to get himself into the fight. It was also at this point in the bout that There’s combinations to the body and head appeared more effective than what offense Jacobs was able to put forth.

 

Clearly at this point, any idea that was forming of penning a column centering on a workmanlike performance by Jacobs had left my mind and a simple yet complex question depending on one’s perspective came to mind in the latter stages of the twelve round bout. Would the rally that Ryder was able to put together in winning several of the remaining six rounds be enough to pull out a victory?

 

 

It was indisputable that the momentum had shifted to Ryder in the second half of the fight. From my perspective however, Ryder was not able to do enough over the first six rounds to sway how I scored the fight. At the conclusion of the bout, I arrived with a score of eight rounds to four or 116-112 in points in favor of Jacobs. This was based largely on what he was able to do over the first six rounds of the fight in being able to control the tempo of the combat and quietly build a lead. I also felt that Jacobs was able to eek out two of the final three rounds as he was able to get his jab working again and gain slight separation between himself and Ryder in what were close rounds to score. While I felt Ryder still had the momentum in his favor due to the pressure he was able to apply and the work he was able to do on the inside, he needed to score a knockdown or two to have been able to change the result of my scorecard.

 

The view of this observer not withstanding, I was not surprised to see a split decision rendered at the end of this fight. When one views a fight round by round as is how Boxing on every level of the sport is supposed to be viewed and in this case, views the fight in a first half/second half context, it was not hard to understand that the potential for a close fight was there where opinions could vary. Although ultimately John Ryder would be declared the winner on two official scorecards resulting in the biggest victory of his career, I simply felt he did not do enough to win the fight and to be more specific, he ran out of time in terms of rounds without being able to score knockdowns to have been able to change how I scored the bout.

 

While this is simply one Boxing journalist’s/historian’s perspective, in the days since the bout took place, there have been a mix of opinions ranging from those who felt Ryder was able to do enough to win it, to those who accused the judges of bias in calling it a “Hometown Decision.” While it is not uncommon to see such opinions and accusations expressed in an era where social media provides all a platform to share their views, whether those views have credibility or not, I can only speak for myself. As someone who has spent most of his life writing about and covering Boxing and by extension combat sports and is proud to call himself a Boxing lifer, I have seen countless decisions on every level the sport has to offer, amateur, professional, traditional, and bareknuckle that I did not agree with. Does that necessarily mean that a decision that I personally felt should have gone the other way means that there is something unethical or a potential conspiracy having taken place? Obviously, the answer is a matter of opinion and will vary from person to person and fight by fight.

 

In this case, I do not see John Ryder’s victory over Daniel Jacobs as controversial in nature nor based on the fact that I scored the fight unofficially for Jacobs do I feel the decision rendered was appropriate. At the end of the day, judges like the rest of us are all human and as such, it comes down to one’s perspective and a matter of opinion as to who wins a fight that goes the distance. A rematch however, would be appropriate.

 

“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