Fight Report – Amanda Serrano vs Erika Cruz/ Alicia Baumgardner vs Elhem Mekhaled by King P

It is great to be back at Madison Square Garden for boxing. Always a joy to be in the building to watch fights. Especially the Hulu Theater, which always has a great atmosphere. Last time I came here was for the Teofimo Lopez vs George Kambosos card. That was amazing, so I was just waiting to see what was in store for us tonight. Traveling to MSG is never a hassle coming from the Bronx but making the trip in the cold (15 degrees) is never fun. I got through it and made it into The Garden early so I can be ready for all the fights. I knew I was in for a good night when I realized there was already a good-sized crowd early. The Puerto Ricans early made their way into MSG, and they were making themselves known. Puerto Ricans headlined the early fights. The card kicked off with Yankiel Rivera fighting Fernando Diaz, who showed some toughness and determination. But Rivera was just of a higher pedigree, and he showed it. Aaron Aponte fought Joshua David Rivera. Aponte cruised to an easy victory; he looked exceptionally good. Look forward to seeing him more in the future. At this point, the fans were playfully going at it too. The Mexico vs PR rivalry is always a fun one to watch. Next up, Harley Mederos faced off against Julio Madera. Harley is a local talent, so the NY crowd was fully behind him. And they were incredibly happy as he dominated Madera, capping it off with a KO in the sixth round.

After this, it was time for the female fights to start rolling in. Shadasia Green kicked it off against Elin Cederroos. Green has a lot of hype surrounding her, so I was interested in seeing how she performed. Elin had some success early on with the jab and was able to walk down Green. But then in the 3rd, Green unloaded a big right which dropped Cederroos. Elin was able to recover and get back to boxing, but she couldn’t avoid the right. Anytime she was hit with it, it shook up her whole body. Green’s punching power was super legit, thudding punches you could hear all across the arena. Shadasia finally put a stop to things in the sixth round, when she delivered another monstrous right to Elin. The referee had no choice but to stop the fight. Shadasia is a monstrous puncher, and I feel bad for anyone who tries to stand and trade with her. Next up was Ramla Ali, who was fighting Avril Mathie. It’s hard to follow up a Shadasia Green fight in terms of intensity and excitement, so I felt for Ramla. She does not have much as far as power goes. But that’s all you can say, as she has everything in his arsenal. Great footwork, speed, timing, and combinations. Ali is a supremely skilled fighter and showed her level in this fight. Dominant win by Ali. After that fight was Skye Nicolson who was facing off against Tania Alvarez. Skye Nicolson did her best to endear herself to the NY crowd, rocking a Knicks jersey to the ring. She is a fighter that has a lot of male fans, as she is very aesthetically pleasing to look at. This fight, however, was anything but that. Tania Alvarez decided to just come forward face and chin out, just to be tagged over and over. Skye kept throwing wide left hooks, many of them not landing clean. They kept getting tangled up, with the ref constantly breaking things up. It was an ugly fight that went the distance, and Skye left as the victor on all scorecards. Let’s hope for a better fight next time around.

By this time, Hulu was PACKED! Not a single empty seat in the house. Next up was Richardson Hitchins vs John Bauza. This was the fight that the crowd was split for. Bauza got cheered heavily by the Puerto Rican and Jersey crowd. The local kid Hitchins came into some boos but received loud cheers as well. The first round Bauza came out aggressive, throwing wide looping shots and trying to pressure Hitchins. But Hitchins was calm, relaxed, and able to box well. He sat back and countered when the openings were there. Bauza got dropped at the end of the first round, but it was a very questionable knockdown. 2nd and 3rd round, Hitchins started to pick off Bauza even more, and in the fourth round he legitimately dropped Bauza. After the fifth round, levels were clearly shown and Bauza had absolutely nothing for Hitchins. It was a beating, and Bauza got hurt multiple times. Hitchins could have finished him if he were more aggressive. Even then, I am still surprised Bauza’s corner did not stop it. The final score read 100-88 on all cards. Hitchins had a dominant performance, and this could be the fight that starts his rise to superstardom. People are already starting to put him on the level of guys like Haney and Stevenson in terms of talent. That remains to be seen. Look forward to seeing his next couple fights.

Next up, we finally approached the co-main. Alycia Baumgardner vs Elhem Mekhaled for the Undisputed 130 championship. Baumgardner came out to a huge ovation. The crowd loved her. The fight started out slow in the first round, but by the second both fighters were trading. In the third round both fighters continued trading, until Alycia landed a big right hand that dropped Mekhaled. Baumgardner jumped on her and was able to get a second down. Mekhaled was out on her feet but managed to survive the rest of the round. They continued to trade shots, but Baumgardner was clearly getting the better end of Mekhaled. Her shots are heavier/more meaningful. By the eighth round, Baumgardner started to tire out. She was still active and landing, but her punches lost a lot of steam. Mekhaled started to rally, but ultimately it was not enough. Baumgarnder won a wide unanimous decision and is now the undisputed champion at 130.

And now, we have reached the main event. Amanda Serrano vs Erika Cruz for the undisputed championship at 126. Erika Cruz came out and received a surprisingly nice ovation. Amanda Serrano came in through the crowd like AEW’s Jon Moxley, and the crowd ate it up. Round one began, and the action started early. Erika Cruz was pressuring Serrano and throwing wide combinations with her feet never set. She was landing a lot of those punches though. Serrano was getting tagged more often than usual, which was an interesting observation. The action picked up more, until the fighters clashed heads. Erika Cruz had a deep cut open up over her forehead. Her corner did an excellent job working on the cut, but every round it would open up again as she was hit. It was evident the cut was affecting her, as she kept pawing at it every round. By Round 6, Serrano had picked up the pace, increasing her output and even hurting Cruz a couple of times. Erika kept pushing forward though, trying to outwork Serrano. She threw more punches, but Serrano was landing the cleaner and more eye-catching shots. After 10 rounds of great action, the judges gave it to Serrano by unanimous decision. The crowd showed their delight, and exploded after the fight when the announcement was made Amanda Serrano vs Katie Taylor. The rematch has been officially set for May 20, in Ireland. Katie Taylor was invited to the ring and was booed out of the building. Both fighters are ready, and the fans are ready for this fight. I am ready for this fight, and I know the event will live up to the hype. Just like this card did.

Fight Report – Efe Ajagba vs Stephan Shaw / Jonnie Rice vs Guido Vianello by Patscorpio

It’s great being back at one of my favorite venues to catch boxing: Turning Stone Resort Casino. The drive through upstate NY is an exercise in patience outside of stopping at Roy Rogers. The scenery is dull and repetitive and there are miles between exits and I do mean miles. A 4.5-hour drive from my home in Massachusetts. Thankfully it was on a holiday weekend, so it is like stars aligned. I needed to be at this card. It was my first one in 13 months I was not able to make it to any in 2022 due to so many things going on. I love being there from the first fight to the last fight.

First fight didn’t even have a chance to get out of the opening round when Dante Benjamin Jr scored a brutal first round knockout of the undefeated Emmanuel Austin. I guess when you are hungry you are hungry. Hoping it’s a sign of things to come. Next up was top undefeated prospect Bruce Shu Shu Carrington vs Juan Antonio Lopez. Shu Shu has been nothing but workmanlike going 6 rounds with Lopez who showed he was ultra-tough hanging in with him. There are levels to this boxing game, but Lopez can at least hang his head high that he didn’t come to lay down. Next up is the TR debut of Brian Norman Jr. He clearly was looking for the highlight reel 1st round KO because he came out of the corner with fire in his eyes. He didn’t even sit down on his stool after the first round. Coria weathered that storm and started making the fight interesting for the undefeated Norman. Round 5 Coria is emboldened and is taking it to Norman landing some combinations clean. By the 8th round, Norman seems to be fading and getting caught more and more. Norman managed to score the first KD of the fight following a brutal assault on the ropes. It was a good scrap. Norman won comfortably on one card, but the other 2 scores were close even with the KD he scored.

The local favorite Bryce Mills had the loudest reaction of all the preliminary bouts in which he won a competitive but easy decision. Haven Brady though had a harder time finding anyone to cheer for him. He too would go the distance but not without some hard moments here and there. The last fight on the prelims between Adam Lopez and Abraham Nova on paper is a fun fight. After a feeling out type round in round 1, you can both men warmed into the fight. Lopez in particular found the mark with nice left hooks and right hands. Trading punches did eventually put Lopez down for the first time. The ref also called a questionable knockdown on Lopez in which it seemed that Nova pushed Lopez down to the canvas. They continue to fight nip and tuck until the final round where both decided to let it all hang out trading withering shots. Lopez was on the verge of possibly going down at the final bell.

The co-feature saw one of Top Rank HW prospects, Guido Vianello, going against upset minded Jonnie Rice. First round it seemed like both men were trying to find left hooks and right hands on each

other. Unfortunately, the action didn’t pick up like it should. Vianello was the aggressor for sure. Jonnie had been landing the right hands gradually. One of them opened up a very deep cut over Vianello’s eye. The cut got worse as the fight went on until the ring doctor stopped it. The ref, Benjy Esteves, originally was going to say it was headbutt when it was clear as day the punch caused. Lou DiBella and the commission made him do an instant replay which was great so a robbery couldn’t take place. At the time of stoppage, Vianello was up on all cards. So, congrats to Jonnie Rice on taking another zero of an undefeated prospect’s record.

Now we are at the main event with Efe Ajagba vs Stephan Shaw. Efe moving forward letting the jab go and establishing. Shaw followed suit but his hands were not as busy. Not a lot of separation in the first couple of rounds with each man having their moments. Not enough action for the crowd either as the boobirds come out again. Efe had been impressive sticking to his game plan. Shaw was definitely on the verge of losing a clear decision and needing a KO. In the 10th round, he should have been showing urgency but nothing. Efe Ajagba would win a UD with scores of 96-94 on all 3 cards. Although it was great to be at a live event, the heavyweights did not exactly light it up like we all thought. I made it for up by talking to some of fighters and trainers later as well as have a little fun at the blackjack table. See you at the next fights!!!

Lopez vs Kambosos Jr. Nov 27th 2021 Fight Report by King P

It’s great to be back at The World’s Most Famous Arena. Love going here to watch fights, and it’s even better to come here to cover a fight. Tonight, The Hulu Theatre is hosting the long-awaited return of WBA/IBF/WBO Lightweight Champion Teofimo Lopez, as he (finally) defends his belts against his mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. I came in lowkey hoping for a fire fight to make up for long wait. Man, oh man, was I shocked at the outcome.

Got there early so I was able to catch all the fights, including the non-televised portion. First fight was the pro debut of Anthony Herrera as he took on Jonathan Tejada (also debuting). Fight lasted 2 rounds, but it was fun while it lasted. Both guys were throwing punches. Questionable stoppage in my eyes, but Herrera looked good.  Christina Cruz vs Marygueen Vellinga. Cruz looked sharp, had fast hands, and good pop. Easy win (60-54 x2, 59-55).  After that was Ramla Ali vs Isela Vera. I was very impressed with Ali. Looked very sharp and had a nice jab. She has some real skills, Vera had nothing for her. Ali won by an easy UD (40-36 on all cards). I look forward to seeing her fight in the future.

Afterwards the televised portion of the card started, and the seats were starting to fill up. First fight on the main card was Zhilei Zhang vs Craig Lewis. Zhang looked very poor in his last fight out against Jerry Forrest, which ended in a majority draw. So, I was curious to see how he would look this time around. Zhang looked much sharper against Lewis, hurting him multiple times. Had him dancing and got him out early. Much better performance, but there’s still a ton of room for improvement for Zhang. He’s not nearly ready for any of the better competition at Heavyweight. Despite having a size advantage, he’ll get hurt if he steps up at this time. 

      Next fight was young Raymond Ford taking on Felix Caraballo. It was a good scrap. Ford was pushed against the ropes and Caraballo hit him with a couple shots (not all landed). The Puerto Rican crowd was cheering loud for every punch he lands (or didn’t land). Ford landed the harder punches though, albeit sloppy at times. Ford has a nasty habit of going back to the ropes, and he ends up getting caught every time. He needs to stop that because it won’t serve him well as he steps ups in competition. He was able to get the late stoppage (8th round TKO), as Caraballo was spent. However, there were a lot of questions unanswered. Ford is young and has a lot of potential, but he needs to work on some things going forward. Hopefully this fight will be good for his development. A lot remains to be seen.

      The co main event was Azinga Fuzile vs. Kenichi Ogawa, for the Vacant IBF Super Featherweight title. Ogawa was giving Fuzile tons of trouble early. His jab was working effectively, while Fuzile was lunging in with wide hooks that are off the mark. Ogawa was the effective aggressor. Fuzile was put down in the 6th with a big shot, and he looked ready to go. Shocked he survived the round. Fuzile looked like a complete mess as the fight progressed. Beat up, cut, broken nose. Was dropped 2 more times in the 12th, effectively putting an end to any chance he had at winning the fight. Hard fight, but a clear UD win by Ogawa who is now the new IBF Champion at 130 (115-110 2x, 114-111). PS – This fight was what we should have gotten with Casimero vs Rigondeaux LOL.

And now, it’s time for the main event. Teofimo Lopez vs George Kambosos Jr is ready to begin. By this time, the Hulu was completely packed. Not an empty seat in the crowd. They were all rocking with Teo. Every time they should Lopez on the big screen, the crowd let off a loud roar in unison. When Kambosos was shown on screen, he received a barrage of boos. It got even louder in both cheers and boos as both fighters made their ring entrance and were introduced in the ring. But finally, the bell rings. As soon as it rang, Teo comes out swinging. Looking to end the fight early but is very wild in his approach. Kambosos hits Lopez with a counter right towards the end of the round and drops him for his troubles. Crowd turned shocked. And it only got worse. Kambosos was setting Teo up with counters and circling in and out before Lopez had time to plant his feet and hit him with his right hand. He took Lopez’s shots well when they did land. Teo was clearly frustrated and getting boxed up. It’s like he had no gameplan at all. Wasn’t setting anything up, just aggressively trying to land a hard punch to get Kambosos out of there (to no avail). Teo was however able to put together some shots at the end of the 8th to trouble Kambosos. Then starting in the 9th, the tide started turning with Teo putting together offense to trouble Kambosos. Then in the 10th… BOOM!!! Down goes Kambosos! He was hurt bad and on wobbly legs, but still managed to survive as Teo punched himself out. It became a war of attrition, with Lopez’s face all messed up. Kambosos rebounds in the 11th and does well in the 12th. When the bell rang, everybody stood up and cheered. We had a Fight of The Year on our hands here, something very few people expected.

      It’s time to go to the scorecards, and there’s a long wait. Me being the boxing fan that I am, knows some controversy is brewing. I’m sitting here waiting for the cards to be read when it was announced there was a split decision. Everyone let out a big “oooooh”. First scorecard was 115-111 in favor of Kambosos. 2nd scorecard was 114-113 in favor of Lopez. 3rd and final scorecard were 115-112 to the winner… still undefeated… AND THE NEW!!! George Kambosos was awarded the split decision and is now the Unified WBA/IBF/WBO Lightweight champion. Crowd booed like crazy at the decision even though the right man in my opinion. The funny part was that when David Diamante said “and still undefeated” the crowd cheered loudly because they thought Teofimo won. Either they didn’t know/forgot Kambosos was also undefeated, or they just heard the “and still” part LOL. Either way, I felt the right man won. I personally had it 115-112 for Kambosos. Afterwards Kambosos gave a good account of himself outside of the ring, taking a shot at the “4 Kings” label the media has been pushing for the Lightweight division, and calling himself “The Emperor” of 135. The crowd cheered and laughed when he said that. Teofimo in turn, went on a rant about how he really won the fight and that he won 10 rounds. The crowd showered him with boos.

      All in all, it was a great event that ended with arguably the best fight of 2021. The Lightweight division was turned upside down. We’ll see how things shake up in 2022.

Haney vs Diaz Dec 4th 2021 Fight Report by Patscorpio

Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom or Melina Pizano/Matchroom

It’s always been a dream to cover a fight in Las Vegas and be able to watch a fight in Las Vegas.  I was able to kill 2 birds with one stone.  In the house at MGM Grand Arena for the Devin Haney vs Joseph “JoJo” Diaz fight.  As most people know the lightweight division was turned on its ear last week when the lineal, unified lightweight champion and arguable p4p top 5 Teofimo Lopez was upset by IBF mandatory George Kambosos Jr in NYC.  Kambosos had expressed vehemently that he would like his maiden title defense to be in Australia.  He was also interested in fighting Devin Haney to settle the undisputed argument that has been raging since September of 2020.   This subsequently increased the stakes for the main event. 

Getting there early I was able to catch the beginning of the YouTube portion where the opening fight was Ricardo “El Nino” Sandoval vs Carlos Buitrago.  In a back and forth but one-sided scrap, “El Nino” scored the 7th round TKO when the ref determined that Buitrago was starting to take too much punishment. Second fight was Amari Jones vs Timothy Lee.  A beautiful counter uppercut from Jones scored a KD in round 1.  Amari had quite the reaction coming out.  His cheering section was extremely loud during the whole fight.  By round 5 it looks like Jones had beaten the fight out of Lee and was extremely close in stopping him. Lee got out of that round but could not survive round 6.  With 20 seconds to go, Lee was taking a battering forcing the ref to stop the fight for Jones.  Third fight was Alexis Espino vs Rodolfo Gomez Jr.  Espino bloodied the nose of Gomez in round 1. Outside of that it was competitive fight.  One thing for sure both guys need better head movement. By the end of the fight, they were throwing and landing combinations with bad intentions.  I personally thought Espino pulled it out, but the judges saw it different.  2 judges saw it 76-76 with the one winning card for Gomez 77-75.  I was surprised it was a majority draw to be honest.  In the final bout of the YouTube portion, Ammo Williams scored a controversial stoppage over Quantavious Cash.  In round 2, Ammo hit with Cash with a huge shot which made Cash reach out to hold.  The ref however stopped the fight just as both fighters tumbled to the canvas.   Not even a count or a chance for both fighters to get to their feet.  It felt like too quick of a stoppage.

The main card starts off with Marc Castro vs Ronaldo Solis.  It was all Castro who scored a knockdown in round 1 and closed the show in round 2 with a thunderous right hand that had Solis slowly slide down the ropes.  The ref wisely waved that fight off.  Up next was Filip Hrgovic vs. Emir Ahmatovic.  Hrgovic getting hit a lot of punches he could be avoiding but he dropped Ahmatovic twice in round 2. Unfortunately, Ahmatovic didn’t escape the next round.  Hrgovic cornered and let off a combination that dropped him down to one knee.  The ref waved it off.  The next fight is an undisputed title defense as Jessica McCaskill defends her belts against late replacement Kandi Wyatt.  First 2 rounds had a mean ebb and flow.  First round it was McCaskill making a fast start, 2nd round it was Wyatt battling back.  After that it was McCaskill landed the heavier blows.  Wyatt has a ridiculous chin to not drop from those shots.  The ref finally saw enough after a combination in the opening of 8th round stopping the fight for McCaskill.  The co-main of the evening is newly signed Matchroom contender Montana Love vs Carlos Diaz.  I had no idea beforehand Love blew weight by 4 lbs.  Well, the extra weight seems to give Love a little bit more pop in his punches. Diaz would be down 3 times in the second round.  3rd round would be the end as the ref thought Diaz was taking too much punishment and stopped it. 

The main event had the arena on edge.  JoJo Diaz came into an insane reaction while Devin got booed out of the building.  That was incredibly wild seeing as Haney was the hometown fighter.  So, a motive for chip on the shoulder was already established. The early rounds see Haney being surgical with his shots while JoJo not offering much of resistance.  Any big swing by JoJo got a loud reaction from the crowd.  Both then started to invest in body work with the only noticeable sign was the fact that Haney’s mouth was wide open.  Diaz in round 4 has a real interest in making this into a dogfight.  He slammed him to the canvas and came alive by landing sharp punches to the body and head. Mid rounds were or more less controlled by JoJo Diaz who was able to land his overhand punches for Haney’s shoulder roll defense and picking off Haney’s punches with a tight high guard.   In round 9, they got a two-way warning from referee Russell Mora to keep it clean.  It was kind of a momentum killer when Haney was landing lead right hands on Diaz. Diaz took advantage afterwards to land right hooks to the body and head.   One can imagine how much more both men can take from each other.  Don’t get me wrong It’s a very competitive fight.  You can feel the fight is far from over.  I just couldn’t get over how shaky I thought Haney looked at times.  In round 12, Diaz made a final stand, but Haney showed the absolute dog in him.  He matched Diaz in output coupled with his superior hand speed until the final bell.  It was an extraordinary fight with the judges scoring it 117-111 x2 and 116-112 for Devin Haney.  The lightweight division is on fire, but one thing is for sure.  All the top lightweights are vulnerable in their own ways.  Made more poignant during the media scrum afterwards in which Devin Haney mentioned he doesn’t have too many fights left at 135.  I couldn’t agree more as I think him trying to cut down to keep his belt is slowly starting to physically affect him.  Hopefully an undisputed fight for all the belts happens sooner rather than later.

Andrade vs Quigley Nov 19th 2021 Fight Report by Patscorpio

It’s been 23 months since my last media assignment but it’s great to be back.  Matchroom Boxing decided to make its annual trip back to the Northeast.  The destination – SNHU Arena in Manchester, NH.  The main event – WBO Middleweight Champion Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade makes his 5th defense against contender Jason Quigley.  Promoter Eddie Hearn would also load the card up with 3 other world title fights.  A rare world title quadruple header in New Hampshire.  Apparently, there hasn’t been a world title fight in this state since 1904!!!  Something long overdue indeed!!!  How could I not go?  I live 45 mins from the venue in nearby Massachusetts.  It was a no brainer.  The first fight was highly touted prospect Khalil Mack taking on Aaron Casper.  Watching this fight Coe looked listless against Casper who put on a spirited effort.  The effort was enough for him to get a majority draw.  The lone non-draw score, 39-37, went to Coe.  Thomas O’Toole would score a brutal 1st round knockout over Mark Malone.  Nelson “Chino” Perez vs Raymundo Rios was largely one sided.  Knockdowns in the 1st and 2nd rounds each by “Chino” on Perez.  Surprisingly this would go the distance with Perez winning a unanimous decision with identical scores of 40-34.  The last fight of the YouTube portion would see Demsey McKean take on Don Haynesworth.  After a couple of uneventful rounds, McKean came to life and started to apply pressure on Haynesworth.  By the 5th round, it looked like the fight would be on the verge of stoppage.  How Haynesworth stayed on his feet taking the beating he was taking was beyond me.  A final barrage in round 6 from Demean forced the ref to stop the fight with Haynesworth laying helplessly on the ropes.

Credit::; Ed Mullholland/Matchroom

The opening bout of the main card is a women’s fight between WBA super lightweight champion Kali Reis versus Jessica Camara.  The fight is also sanctioned for the vacant WBO belt as well.  Reis’s entrance was unique.  It got a segment of the crowd hype.  The fight was plenty of ebb and flow with a fair amount of blood.  Camara has no career KO’s.  Can’t figure out how this is the case.  She was rocking Reis pretty good especially with the left hook.  She came to fight.  Reis was no slouch with her punches giving it as good as she gets.  The amount of bombs these 2 are throwing and landing is incredible.   The final round was one for the ages as Reis was hitting her with right hands that had Camara on the verge of going down.  Scores: Dave DeJonge 95-94 Camara, Tom Schreck 97-93 Reis, and Martha Tremblay 97-93 for Reis.  A split decision win for Reis who wins 2 belts and earned a date with Chantelle Cameron next.  However, for being the local favorite, the crowd was booing Reis.  The crowd clearly felt Camara won.

Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Second bout featured unified WBA/IBF Super bantamweight champion MJ Akhmadaliev vs late substitute opponent Jose Velasquez.  Akmadaliev really came into the ring to Michael Jackson Black or White.  Very disarming I have to say lol.  At first it looked like a first round exit was coming for Velasquez as he just caught punches without throwing.  I guess he needed to feel some punches to get warmed up.  One thing is for sure Akhmadaliev is very heavy handed.  Showing excellent lateral movement and combination punching.  Velasquez has really made no adjustments outside of fighting harder.  As the fight went on the defense of Akhmadaliev began to get leaky and Velasquez started tagging him more frequently.  Too cleanly for my liking.  Akhmadaliev had also been getting dirtier.  From holding Velasquez down to butting him down to the canvas with his shoulder.  Add in the low blows which lead to repeated warnings from the ref.  Velasquez was still not being dissuaded.  It was good ebb and flow to end the fight.  Velasquez with the flipping and pushups afterwards to the enjoyment of the crowd.  All 3 judges would turn in scores of 119-109 in favor of the champion Akmadaliev.

Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Co main of the evening WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez vs McWilliams Arroyo.  Man, they did not waste any time in the opening round.  They both traded knockdowns to start it off.   A definite round of the year candidate.  2nd round a still shaky Arroyo is running into the impressive offensive arsenal from Martinez and got dropped.  An intentional headbutt would bring an unfortunate end to a fight that was warming up.  The ringside physician called off the fight.  Since it didn’t go 4 rounds, the fight was officially declared a no decision.  The main event though had a lot of energy.  Cape Verdean and Irish flags waving all around.  The Irish contingent were going crazy for Quigley making his entrance to the ring.  After some tentative moments, Andrade scores a KD in round 1.  Quigley was looking badly shook up.  Round 2 was no better for him.  2 more vicious knockdowns and the referee waved it off, leaving Andrade with a successful 5th title defense.  Afterwards, he got on the mic and reiterated that he was ready for any challenge from anybody especially Jermall Charlo.  Quigley had to go to the hospital afterwards due to a broken jaw.   It was great to be back at a live fight again.  I missed it so much during the pandemic.  Thumbs up to Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing for an entertaining night of boxing.

The Adventures of Bob and Todd by Patscorpio

Disclaimer – This is a harmless parody that is not meant to be taken seriously.  It does not reflect the true thoughts of Ring Gang Radio, who respects and admires the accomplishments of all major players in the boxing world.

Intro – “Founder Bob” and “President Todd” are trying to stage a fight between WBO Super Featherweight Champion Jamel Herring and Interim champion Shakur Stevenson but find themselves running into some problems.

Bob – Gotdammit!!!

Todd – What is it Sir?

Bob – Fucking MSG!!!! They won’t host Herring vs Tupac.

Todd – Tupac?

Bob – That Olympic kid from Jersey…Shakur, is it?

Todd – You mean Shakur Stevenson.

Bob – Tupac…. Shakur. Whatever…. I can’t book him at MSG.  They say he needs to fight someone that has a chance of beating of him.  Someone that can knock him out.

Todd – Well Jamel Herring did KO Carl Frampton earlier this year.

Bob – Yeah?!! and I knocked out Jimmy Brown on the set of “Dirty Dozen” in 66.  That’s why he retired from football you know.

Todd – What?

Bob – You’re not the only one that can say outlandish things Todd.  Anyways cut the bullshit.  What’s a place that has a big population of Neg….err…Bla…err…. African Americans?

Todd – I don’t know sir.  I would have thought that both men coming from the tri state area we can look elsewhere.

Bob – *mimicking* We can look elsewhere.  You’re useless Todd!!!  Wait I know a place!!!!

Todd – Where?

Bob – What’s that city that Ali fought in? The first fight from exile where he faced that bleeding mick Quarry?

Todd – Atlanta?

Bob – Yes!!!! Atlanta!!!! That was a fun city.  They were all out with their loud clothes and big puffy fros and foxy mamas.  I had my first piece of brown sugar there if you know what I mean?

Todd – Yes sir

Bob – Contact the guys at the stadiums where the Falcons and Hawks play.  See if they have open dates available.  Tell them we are delivering champions…not like they know anything about that.

Bob and Todd both laugh – “HAHAHAHAHA!!!”

Bob – After that I need you to call Paco and tell him to call off the purse bid.  If I don’t, Don King might try to take this fight from me.

Todd – Mr. King is irrelevant sir.  He has no fighters.

Bob – You’re gotdamn right he’s irrelevant!! But I need that bid called off.

Todd – Yes sir

Bob – and tell him he reaaaallllllly owes me for this staging this fight.

Todd – What does he owe?

Bob – The WBO Middleweight Title. I want it.

Todd – The WBO Middleweight Title?

Bob – Is there an echo in here? Yes, the fucking belt.  I signed Ali’s grandkid to Top Rank.  Tell you the truth I’ve never seen him fight but he’s an Ali.  I want to make him a champion within his first 5 fights.

Todd – Sir we could just get the belt off Murata?

Bob – Todd do I own the fucking WBA?  Plus, if I job him his people might release more Covid to our country.

Todd – He’s Japanese not Chinese.

Bob – THEY ARE ALL THE SAME TO ME!!! Just tell Paco I want that belt back. He knows what to do.  That smug English toffee Hearn isn’t doing anything with that Rhode Island kid Andrade anyways.  I bet you I will find him some opponents.

Todd – Yes sir

Bob – Good……. what was I just talking about?

Todd – *sigh*

The Career Mode Glitch

Let’s take a little trip down memory lane.  Its 2011 and you’re a hardcore boxing fan probably still in your twenties.  It’s the weekend and boxing After Dark on HBO just ended.  The fights weren’t great, but they weren’t bad either.  You don’t have to work the next day, so you don’t have to go to bed any time soon.  These are simpler times my friend.  Boxing is over, but that blood lust for compelling fights is still nagging at you.  Before you know it, you’re turning on your PS3 or Xbox gaming console. 

If you were a boxing fan during this era that indulged in video games, you knew there was only one game that could quench your thirst for more boxing.  This masterpiece was Fight Night Champion, the last great boxing video game to exist in the free world.  It goes without saying that this game is already in your system so once it’s fired up you proceed to get that boxing monkey off your back.  You start out playing a few bullshit random matches before finally loading up the highly coveted career mode.  Career Mode was everyone’s little pet project in Fight Night Champion.  You created your boxer and controlled his attributes, training, and career trajectory. 

Now you’ve had steady progression with your created boxer’s career and see that a title shot is only a few fights away.  You’re faced with a few options.  You can take the slightly more challenging step-up fight that would prepare you for the champion or you can take the same type of fight that’s gotten you to this position.  You won’t improve your stats much, but the odds are in your favor and another win won’t hurt. It’s getting late and you’re starting to get a little sleepy, but you don’t want to shut the game off just yet.  With that in mind, you don’t want the stress of having a tough fight now, so you go for the easy match up. 

You start out dominating the infamous “Jobber Magee”, but for some reason you can’t put him away like all the others in the past.  He weathers the early storm and manages to land a punch that causes a bad cut on your eye. The blood seems to reinvigorate your opponent and he begins to increase the pressure.  Now you’re thinking to yourself that you should have just taken the tougher fight if it was going to be this much trouble.  Your early onslaught has your stamina looking funny in the light and before you know it, Jobber Magee lands a heavy shot that sits you down on the canvas.  You try to get up, but its no use.  Your head is cloudy, and you have noodle legs.  The ref counts you out and the rest is history.  You’re the latest victim of the Career Mode Glitch. 

Fast forward to the present and you’ll see art imitate life more often than it should.  Boxers allow themselves to spoil on the vine, by facing sub par competition as soon as they’re on the verge of being world class.  Challenging character-building fights are scoffed at an ignored for easier opposition.  To be fair, not every boxer operates this way, but its certainly becoming the majority.  Super fights die on the negotiation table and potential meaningful fights fall to the wayside due to cannon fodder fighting above their level causing upsets.  As a boxer you should always want to improve and take fights that can add to your foundation or legacy.  Hoping to get rewarded while on the path of least resistance can come back to haunt you.  There are no shortcuts in boxing and sitting on your lead whether in a fight or in the rankings can be detrimental to the result you seek. 

Unlike Fight Night Champion, real life boxing has certain consequences.  You can get injured or seriously hurt.  Certain performances will catapult you to the top of the world while some will make you plummet to the nether realm of boxing social media.  It’s better to face these boxing challenges with pride and determination than to prolong the inevitable hoping to build your confidence with inferior opponents.  Cherry picking competition and fighting infrequently are a recipe for disaster.  These career journeymen know what’s at stake and one good performance on a night where you have a bad performance can be the difference in propelling or stagnating your career.  Father Time is undefeated, but the Career Mode Glitch will always be the biggest risk a boxer takes before Father Time get a chance to lace up his gloves.  Proceed wisely.

Written by Shutterworth for Ring Gang Radio.

Miami Fight Night: Jan, 30th 2020 Fight Report by Shutterworth

Outside of the arena

Boxing’s most stacked card so far for the year 2020 made it’s way to South Florida to ride the Super Bowl wave. The good folks over at Matchroom Boxing and DAZN aired three world title fights on a Thursday night which is highly unheard of in the states. Usually Patscorpio is our media guy for these events, but due to the rare occasion of South Florida getting a big fight, I took it upon myself to get my feet wet. Yes, my first Ring Gang Radio fight card as a member of the press was an interesting one.

In order to beat traffic, I arrived at the location around 2:45 pm which was pretty early. This would give me enough time to get situated and scope out the scenery which consisted of dirt fields and construction vehicles. I soon learned that the arena hosting the fights was built in 2 weeks specifically for this event and the Lady Gaga concert this Saturday. Media check in was set for 4pm, but was constantly being pushed back due to the lack of available seating space. This came to no surprise, since this arena didn’t seem like it was built to hold any type of combat sport. From the outside it looked big, but not big enough for three world title bouts in a fight starved city like Miami.

There wasn’t much to do except for stand around and mingle with other media members and guess the cause for delays. Check in went from 4pm to 4:45, to 5:00pm. The first bout was pushed back from 5:00pm to 5:30pm which is around the time we eventually got credentialed. From there we had to walk almost a quarter mile to the arena since the media tent was set up outside and far as hell.

The long trek to the arena after getting our credentials.

It goes without saying, that I ended up missing the first couple of fights. Once inside the arena which felt like the inside of a club, it was a game of musical chairs. Media kept being moved around the arena like a bad foster kid. It wasn’t until Amanda Serrano’s fight with Simone Da Silva that was able to find a decent spot to sit.

Finding a decent seat was like reading Where’s Waldo.

Serrano made short work of her opponent. She walked through some decent counter left hooks before eventually overwhelming Da Silva with power shots. After this fight, the media was forced to move again. Seating was getting very limited and space to stand and watch the fight was almost mission impossible. For that reason I couldn’t fully enjoy Austin William’s quick destruction Donald Sanchez. More people were starting to arrive in the arena, but it wasn’t quite full yet. The Anthony Sims Jr. vs Roamer Alexis Angulo fight was next and damn near put me to sleep while standing up. Very skittish and flat performance from Sims Jr who seemed afraid to engage or do anything offensively meaningful. Angulo didn’t impress either, but he made the fight and pressed when Sims relented. Angulo went on to win a split decision and keep his Latino title belt. Alexis Espino would wake everyone up again with is check hook stoppage of a very game Vincent Baccus. This was the excitement everyone was looking for.

Roman vs Akhmadaliev

The televised card portion of the card started shortly after and things got off to a great start between unified Jr Featherweight champion Daniel Roman and hungry challenger Murodjon Akhamdaliev. The arena really started to get crowded around this time. Roman seemed to get off to a slow start as he fought behind Akhamadliev’s movement and unpredictably explosive offense. It wasn’t until 4th round where Roman started to find his groove a bit and get his own offense going. From then one, fans were treated to some violent exchanges that would push both men backwards. Although but boxers where cut and bruised, Roman seemed to be more effected by the punishment than MJ who never looked discouraged. Roman would hesitate to jab or move his hands in key moments. This proved to be fatal as he ended up losing his WBA and IBF world titles via split decision. It was close competitive fight that some felt could have been a draw, but I felt the right man edged it out. Akhamadaliev became the new unified champ. It was the first time I ever saw titles change hands at a boxing event. This was also the 2nd upset of the night.

That theme would continue during the grudge match between Tevin Farmer and Joseph Diaz. Both fighters came out strong. Farmer ended up hurting his hand in the 1st round and in the 2nd round Jojo was the victim of a nasty cut from an accidental headbutt. This wasn’t enough to stop Diaz who was determined to win a world title on his 3rd attempt. He punched in combination frequently causing Farmer to get overly defensive an eat hard shots that would tax his evasive skills. In addition, he tired Farmer out with a good body shots to the pit of the stomach. Farmer would land on occasion, especially during exchanges, but he never seemed able to mount enough offense to win rounds or control the fight. Any time he would clinch, Diaz made sure to rip shots on the inside before breaking. Jojo would eventually win the IBF Jr. Lightweight title in convincing fashion. Farmer who won their previous twitter battles, fell short where it counted most. He aims for a rematch this year.

The co feature between Youtubers Jake Paul and AnEsonGib was next, but not before a performance from NLE Choppa who’s act consisted of yelling adlibs while a couple of his songs blared over the speakers. By now, the audience reached its peak capacity. Everyone was eagerly anticipating the Paul vs Gib fight and the atmosphere from the previous entertaining bouts helped with that. The build up to the fight lasted longer than the actual fight itself. Paul who the crowd seemed to be against stopped Gib with a pretty decent right hand in the very first round. Fans also received a little verbal back and forth between Jake Paul’s family nemesis KSI afterward. Don’t be surprised if we get this fight next.

A decent amount of the crowd left before Demetrius Andrade got to defend his WBO middleweight title against Luke Keeler in the main event. This fight was always unnecessary for this event, but I digress. Andarde came out strong dropping Keeler with his first hard punch of the fight. Everybody expected a stoppage shortly after, but somehow Andrade ran into the same problems as before when it comes to finishing off over matched opponents. By the time the six round came, most of the fans had left and when Andrade finally did finish off Keeler in the 9th, even more people had left. All in all, a pretty good night of boxing with a few hiccups, but nothing entirely awful.

Hopefully this won’t be the last time Matchroom Boxing does an event down here. This was a learning experience to build from. South Florida is a great spot for quality boxing.

12/21/2019 Post Fight Report – Terence Crawford vs Egidijus Kavaliauskas

            Madison Square Garden – one of the true meccas of boxing.  Now I’ve been to MSG to see various sports events since 2001, but the fact I would be covering a fight there for the first time was kind of surreal to me.  It would also be the latest stage for WBO Welterweight Champion of the World Terence “Bud” Crawford making a title defense against Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas.  In the lead up to this fight, it was taking a hit by critics alike.  The biggest criticism it seems came from the choice of opponent. “Mean Machine” is a very competent boxer on top of being undefeated.  However in his last fight out, he would fight to a majority draw against noted 147 spoiler Ray Robinson.  This was enough to raise some eyebrows.  The other big criticism was the fact on the undercard there was a fight that was getting major attention:  Teofimo Lopez vs Richard Commey for the IBF Lightweight title.  Most people thought that should have been the main event or on its own separate card.  To sum, negativity was the unfortunate theme of this promotion.  The ESPN+ portion of the undercard was fairly entertaining.  I was, in particular, surprised to see Mickey Bey facing and losing to George Kambosos.   That was very random to me.

(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/ Top Rank)

The main (regular ESPN) portion of the card would start off with rematch from the 2016 Olympics.  Michael Conlan(12-0 7 KO’s) vs Vladimir Nikitin (3-0 0 KO’s).  In their Olympic meeting, Nikitin would win a controversial decision over Conlan.  Conlan would have a now infamous meltdown as this would be the catalyst for leaving the amateur ranks.  Now I was kind of neutral about this fight happening since Nikitin only had 3 pro fights.  But I think I understand why they made it.  The fact that Top Rank had one of its most lauded signings, Robeisy Ramirez, get upset in his first fight might be the reason they decided to strike when the iron is hot.  The fight itself wasn’t really exciting in the first half of the fight outside of the slip in round 3 by Nikitin.  The second half of the fight heated up with Nikitin putting pressure on Conlan trying to land the overhand right to supplement the body.  Conlan was absolutely lacing with Nikitin with power shots from outside, but Nikitin did not go anywhere.   In the 8th round, Conlan did briefly manage to have Nikitin in trouble but weathered the storm.  They slugged it out all the way to the final bell.   Personally I had the fight 96-94 in favor of Conlan.  The actual scores (100-90, 99-91, 98-92) I thought were very wide and did not reflect the fight.  The 100-90 score in my opinion showed wildly incompetent judging.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a rematch in the future if the stakes are higher and both fighters build up their profiles even more.

(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/ Top Rank)

The co-main event was the fight everybody was anticipating the most.  Teofimo Lopez (14-0 11 KO’s) going for his first title shot against IBF Lightweight champion Richard Commey (29-2 26 KO’s). On paper, this had all the makings of a fight of the year candidate.  Explosive punchers who could land and end a fight at any given time.  The energy in the arena was buzzing loudly by this point.  I think everyone was anticipating this fight going some rounds.  Unfortunately the fight would terminate suddenly in round 2.  After a feeling out type opening round where Commey landed the more effective shots, he was dropped by a hard right cross counter by Lopez.  Commey was all over the place trying to regain his bearings.  Lopez, seeing how badly hurt Commey was, jumped on him and rained down blows upon blows. The ref definitely gave Commey all the chances in the world.  Instead of getting on his bike and/or trying to hold, Commey just went back into the ropes.  Lopez did not let up on the assault forcing the ref to stop the fight.   A redemption of sorts for Lopez, who did not look like himself in his previous fight among rumors of family issues.  Commey was in the corner almost inconsolable and near tears.  The newly crowned IBF Lightweight champion has a lucrative unification fight with Vasyl Lomachenko waiting for him sometime in 2020.

(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/ Top Rank)

            The main event of the evening, Terence Crawford (35-0 27 KO’s) vs Egidijus Kavaliauskas (20-0-1 17 KO’s) definitely had a buzz going on around the arena.  Say what you want about Crawford but he is a very solid fanbase and he does draw.  The crowd did go wild for him when he came out.  In contrast, Mean Machine definitely got some very noticeable boos.  But when the bell rang to start the fight that changed.  Crawford, known for switching stances during bout, uncharacteristically started off southpaw.  He kept Kavaliauskas on his toes and hesitant to throw within the first 2 rounds.  In round 3, Kavaliauskas broke through with a whistling right hand that buckled Crawford and sent him to the canvas.  To the surprise of everyone, the ref ruled that it was a slip. Emboldened by the result of that right hand, Kavaliauskas gained more confidence and went right after Crawford.  His right hand was finding the mark more often than not.  Within a couple of rounds, you can see swelling developing around Crawford’s right eye.  This was becoming a true dog fight that no one expected.  In round 7, the first official knockdown was scored by Crawford where his right hand sent Kavaliauskas down to one knee.  Crawford proceeded to keep his foot on the gas and hammered Kavaliauskas in the 8th round, buckling him with huge right hands and a right uppercut.  In the 9th round, Crawford dropped Kavaliauskas 2 more times. The uppercut finding its mark on a fading Kavaliauskas.  The ref would immediately wave the fight off after a right hook sent Kavaliauskas down to a knee.  An unexpected and entertaining gut check for Terence Crawford who retains his title and keeps his name alive in the conversation of the best welterweights of in boxing today.   One thing I did think was becoming an actual issue was I think Crawford might be reaching the point of “spoiling on the vine”. Mean Machine is a good fighter but not expected to trouble an elite fighter like Crawford.  I hope sooner than later, we see Crawford in a fight that we can get up for before total spoilage occurs that ruins some attractive matchups for him.

Written by Patscorpio

10/18/19 Artur Beterbiev vs Oleksandr Gvozdyk Fight Report

Last weekend was a treat to be able to spend some time in one of my favorite cities in the world, Philadelphia, to catch the unification bout between Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Artur Beterbiev.  Not only were their respective WBC and IBF light heavyweight titles on the line, but the lineal one as well.   The trip started late Thursday night.  I had a loaner at the time as my new car was being prepped for me to pick up next week.  So I didn’t drive myself down.  Instead I took a bus from Boston, a Megabus to be specific.  I learned some lessons.  Number 1 – Don’t assume you are the only one that takes late night trips.  Number 2 – If you don’t get a numbered, assigned seat on a Megabus, you are rolling the dice on your comfort.  Number 3 – A Megabus will sometimes make multiple stops before your destination.    Number 4 – Do not do third party reservations for a Megabus.  The Megabus I took was packed at 11:45 pm.  The non-numbered assigned seats were a little tighter than I expected.  I’m a 6’3 ½” 240 pound man having to be scrunched up next to someone for 7 hours.  My knees were screaming at me the whole way.  Outside of that it was a smooth trip.  Got there and took an Uber to my cousin’s house, who lived 10 minutes from the where it was being held, Liacouras Center.  North Philadelphia is an interesting place.  Not the nicest part to walk around without being on alert, but the cheesesteaks were on point.  Anyways crashed at my cousin’s place after eating and caught up on sleep throughout the afternoon. I woke up at 2 pm and by 4 pm was out the door on my way.

I arrived at the Liacouras Center after making a stop at a nearby craft beer for some short rib nachos and an interesting almost 17 % ABV beer.  Picked up my credential at the media entrance and made my way to the floor to where the media section was located.  I got there just in time to see the first fight of the whole card.  One thing that I like about the Top Rank undercards, if you get a lot of action to “whet your appetite” before the main fights.  Michael Seals didn’t waste any time in dispatching overmatch Elio Trosch in only 1 round.  Josue Vargas is in a tough scrap with Johnny Rodriguez and won this on all 3 cards 80-72.  The scores did not mirror how tough this fight really was.  Jeremy Adorno showing his class against Misael Reyes winning a 38-37 and 40-35 x 2 decision.  Julian Rodriguez vs Leonardo Doronio is not the most exciting affair outside of a few rounds, but still ended in the 6th and final round won by Rodriguez.  Joseph Adorno ended up brutally dropping Damian Sosa in round 2 into the second ropes.  The ref waived it off immediately.  Sonny Conto was the overwhelming dispatching Steven Lyons in anticlimactic fashion after Lyons stayed on his stool for Round 2.

(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank)

                Finally it was time for the televised portion of the card.  The co-main featured former WBA Welterweight Champion Luis Collazo against up and coming prospect Kudratillo Abdukakhorov. Very interesting name to pronounce never mind type and spell out. 2 things that I noticed off the bat.  Collazo has a very noticeable size advantage and was walking down the younger challenger.  This is the Collazo I remember watching all those years ago.  Abdukakhorov was landing a lot of clean punches but it didn’t seem like it had any real effect on Collazo.  The ebb and flow slightly changed when around round 6, Collazo ending up hurting his hand.  He wasn’t throwing as much but continued to still walk Abdukakhorov down.  Going into the 10th and final round, I felt the fight was close.  Unfortunately it would not come to a satisfying conclusion.  A headbutt opened up a nasty cut on Collazo and had him very unsteady of his legs.  So they went to the scorecards for a technical decision.  Kudratillo Abdukakhorov is declared the winner by the scores 99-91, 97-93, and 98-93.  I honestly did not see any of these scores in this fight at all.  The crowd also did not agree with it either.  I thought Collazo did enough to win a decision here.  Nevertheless Kudratillo Abdukakhorov is now the newest mandatory for Errol Spence.  I honestly don’t think he is ready for Spence, that fight may be ugly to watch.

(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank)                

Finally, the main event that we have all been waiting for: Artur Beterbiev vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk. There was a heavy Ukrainian contingent at Liacouras Center.  They weren’t really obnoxious, outside of the playing of the 3 national anthems, but they were LOUD!!!!  Beterbiev was the de facto villain of the fight.  The boos for him were pretty loud as he walked to the ring stoically.  In contrast, I thought my ear drums were going to pop when Gvozdyk came out.  It seemed like the whole arena was behind him.  There was good solid action to start off the fight.  A surprising knockdown by Beterbiev to start off although it was late rescinded by the commission via instant replay.  The Ukrainian contingent are extremely riled up by this point.  Competitive first half where Gvozdyk seemed more jittery than usual.  Beterbiev’s power clearly making a difference on whatever plan the WBC champion had in store.  Gvozdyk landed enough jabs and right hands on Beterbiev to visibly mark up his face but was neglected to go the body.  Beterbiev was more than willing to walk through fire to land his.  By the 8th round, the tide seemed to be turning for good as Gvozdyk seemed to be breaking down from the pressure that Beterbiev brought on him.  9th round you can sense the end was near as a couple of hard rights had Gvozdyk backing in trouble and hanging on.  Teddy Atlas was going crazy in the corner as usual screaming at Gvozdyk to try to rally him Filled with confidence entering round 10, Beterbiev closed the show scoring 3 knockdowns to force the ref to stop the fight.  With this win, Beterbiev not only unified 2 light heavyweight belts but also picked up the lineal distinction.  A career best victory for a fighter who had been battling promoter issues for the majority of his prime and a new fight of the year candidate for 2019.

Fight Report brought to you by Patscorpio

Boxing and Brand Loyalty Don’t Mix

Although still a niche sport, boxing has grown tremendously in the past several years.  This is partly due to the emergence of digital platforms such as DAZN an ESPN Plus that feature prominent boxers from around the world plying their trade.  For the promotional entities that lack digital platforms to show new fights (PBC), they still have a firm grasp on the television networks and pay per view model for boxing.  Everyone is getting in where they fit it in so to speak, without any clear advantage over the other.  None of these promotional companies are perfect and each one still seems to find a way to not make certain good fights happen, but that’s a story for another article.  Boxing fans are left with three major boxing platforms competing to deliver the best product. 

Normally this would be looked at as a good thing, but somehow someway some boxing fans took it upon themselves to join the “Great Promoter War”.   Instead of enjoying the fact that three different companies are competing to bring them bouts, they openly profess their brand loyalty while only supporting that company’s schedule and boxers.  As a hardcore boxing fan, you would think that feat is impossible, but here we are.  A true hardcore fan that loves boxing and wants to see the best fight the best consistently, will hold each promotional company to the same standard.  They wouldn’t shower praise on mismatches that line the pockets of boxers regardless of the promotional company. The sport loses, once fans start accepting the bare minimum from some promoters while ignoring better effort from others.  Once this happens, there’s no initiative to put out better cards. 

Unless you work for one of the big three boxing platforms, you shouldn’t care about brand loyalty.  Boxing fans worry too much about the business of boxing and not the sport of boxing.  This isn’t entirely the fan’s fault since they reflect the sport’s progression which has been more about business than actual fighting.  You would think a few cooking shows were in the works with the amount of times you’ll hear the word marinate when potential fights are discussed.  With super fights taking forever to happen to the point where they don’t even happen at all, it’s no surprise that some boxing fan’s interest would shift towards the business side of the sport.  It’s only natural to want to find out why some of these big fights aren’t happening.  Unfortunately, once some go down this path, they change for the worse.  Some fans align themselves with certain boxing platforms as if they’re expecting a royalty check and a pat on the head. 

Brand loyalty is no longer a trend with just fans.  It has also crept into some of the independent boxing media and Youtube channels.  People are picking and choosing what to cover in a sport that is already a niche activity.  How can boxing grow an attract new fans if it’s treated like a product and not a sport?  Brand loyalty might give you access to certain fighters an event once your media platform reaches a certain level, but it’s a double-edged sword.  Usually those that engage in this method must abandon one side of the sport to bring light to another. 

No matter how you cut it, there’s no upside to brand loyalty in boxing.  True boxing fans are fans of the sport and want to see it prosper in its entirety, not just a few boxers or promoters.  Furthermore, boxing is too big to just limit yourself to only supporting certain boxers and platforms.  Boxers and promoters come and go, but the sport will always remain.  HBO cut boxing from its network last year.  I’m sure the fans of that programming are still around watching boxing somewhere.  Boxing has always been the theater of the unexpected, but brand loyalty is something nobody should expect.  Real fans just expect to see boxing at its best, no matter who presents it.

Written by Shutterworth for Ring Gang Radio

7/13/2019 Prudential Center: Greer Jr vs Potapov / Stevenson vs Guevara – Fight Report

Last weekend,  I went to the great city of Newark, New Jersey to take in the Top Rank card at Prudential Center which was headlined by a doubleheader.  In an IBF 118 eliminator co main event, Joshua Greer faced Nikolai Potapov. In the main event was hometown hero Shakur Stevenson facing Alberto Guevara.  The untelevised undercard was a joy to watch with several Top Rank prospects on the card.

In the opener local favorite Joseph Adorno overwhelmed Adriano Ramirez in only 2 rounds.  Vijender Singh had the crowd going “Ooh!!” scoring a brutal 4th TKO over Mike Snider.  The ref stopped Snider, who was cowered in his corner taking repeated right hands to the head.  John Bauza and Angel Sarinara put on a spectacular slugfest that went the distance with Bauza winning the decision.  Julian Rodriguez after a 22-month layoff got rid of Hevinson Herrera in the opening round.  The knockout combination was thrown so swiftly if you blinked you would have missed it.  Top Rank would have a star making debut as Vito Mielnicki making his pro debut at.  The local fan support for Vito was crazy.  The crowd would also go crazy at the knockout of Tamarcus Smith.   A highlight reel knockout if I ever saw one.  It made the ESPN Sportscenter top 10 sports plays segment.  In the final undercard fight, Josue Vargas would score a 7th round TKO over a game Manuel Lopez with a barrage of uppercuts and right hands on the ropes.

(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank)

The main televised card opened with Joshua Greer Jr vs Nikolai Potapov with winner taking on the winner of the WBSS 140 final between Nonito Donaire and Naoya Inoue later this year.  The undercard was a pretty lively affair which the crowd had got accustomed to. This fight was anything but that and the crowd throughout the fight voiced its displeasure.  It was a very slow-paced fight in the early going with both men feeling each other and going on the defensive.  The action picked up in the middle rounds, particularly in the 5th and 6th rounds after some incessant booing from the crowd.  Greer, who had knocked out 7 of his last 8 opponents, looked very tentative but did hit Potapov with consistent body shots.  The fight still remained close going into the later rounds although neither appeared to have a sense of urgency.  When the final bell rang, the feeling was Potapov did more than enough to win the fight.  Judges said otherwise as Greer won an unpopular majority decision with scores of 116-112, 115-113, and 114-114.  Potapov and his promoter Dmitry Salita in the post-fight interview said they would appeal the decision, which they felt was unjust.

(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank)

The main event, Stevenson vs Guevara, was a fight that almost never came to pass. Guevara was the third schedule opponent since the card was first announced.  Shakur had previously been signed to fight undefeated Hairon Soccaras and then Franklin Manzanilla but they both would pull out of the fight for differing reasons.  The fight ended being nothing but a showcase to the Newark crowd who cheered loudly for their hometown son.  Guevara was never in the fight at all.  He shied away from the action and fought negative.  When Shakur decided to increase the pressure, Guevara melted instantly.  2 knockdowns in the second round and 1 knockdown in round 3.  The last knockdown the ref would issue the full 10 count while Guevara pretended he wanted to continue on. In the post-fight interview, Shakur called out all the current featherweight champions, excluding Gary Russell Jr.

Written by Patscorpio for Ring Gang Radio

6/29/2019 Dunkin Donuts Center: Demetrius Andrade vs Maciej Sulecki Fight Report

As a resident of New England, it’s always a treat when there are notable boxing cards that are held in my area.  By that I mean I can attend a card and come home immediately afterwards.  Not that I don’t like travel overnight  to go see fights because I do.  It is a hobby of mine that I cherish.  However, there are times where I’d like to drive less than 2 hours and not worry about staying overnight, making accommodations, or schedule a flight.  Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the latest Matchroom Boxing offering with the main event of Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade defending his WBO Middleweight Title against top contender Maciej Sulecki.  It was being held at the Dunkin Donuts Center, affectionately called “The Dunk”, in Providence RI.  Providence being only an hour drive from my home.  On top of that, it was Providence’s first world title fight in 28 years.  The last time was when Vinny Paz defeated Gilbert Dele for the WBA super welterweight championship. Judging by the near sellout by looking at seating map on Ticketmaster, the city was more than ready for some world championship boxing.

                The untelevised and televised undercard was lively.  Local favorite Shelly Vincent won her final career fight against Simone Da Silva in a spirited battle and then announced her retirement.  That was bookended by 2 fights that ended in 1st round knockouts.  Young prospect Otha Jones III hammered out a competitive 6 round decision over Matias Arriagada.  Local favorite Mark Deluca would win a 10-round decision over Brandon Brewer in a fantastic fight.   It was a treat for most of the crowd who managed to get in the building early to catch the action.

                The main card started off with Norbelto Jimenez entering the ring for his second attempt at a world title against Kal Yafai, the WBA Super Flyweight champion.  The Dominican contingent in the audience were voicing loudly their support towards Jimenez.  Kal in contrast got a stronger than expected negative reaction from the crowd which I found amusing.  The fight itself was rough to watch at times for half of the fight.  Forearms, low blows, clashing of heads.  In the later rounds both fighters got into a groove and were landing big shots on each other.  You could feel the urgency in both fighters as they were winging hooks to the body and head.  Yafai would score the lone knockdown in the 12th round although it did look like a slip.  But the knockdown solidified the win for Yafai with scores of 117-109, 119-107, and 118-108. In the post-fight interview, as boos rained down from the crowd, Yafai stated his desire to pursue a big fight with Sor Rungvisai and the other super flyweight champions. 

                The co-main event would see former WBO Heavyweight Champion Joseph Parker face off against former world title challenger Alex Leapai.  Leapai was a replacement for original opponent Eric Molina. The fight started off spirited enough with both fighters throwing bombs at each other in the opening round. I’m thinking this fight is not going to last that long at this pace,  But by the 4th round, both fighters seem to have gassed out.  For the rest of the fight, short bursts of offense was the theme.  The fight was stopped in the 10th round when the ref deemed that Leapai was taking too much punishment.  It had similarities to the stoppage Guillermo Rigondeaux scored against Julio Ceja where it was competitive and not exactly the right moment where it should have been stopped.  But that is my personal opinion.

The main event had the crowd more than ready for the fight.  The reaction both Andrade and Sulecki received during their walkout was nothing short of electric.  Andrade came out with fire in his eyes.  You can see the intensity all over his face.  That first round was one for the ages.  When Andrade scored the lone knockdown of the bout in there, the response was deafening.  I thought my eardrums were going to pop out of my head.  After a couple more rounds of aggressiveness, Andrade settled down and boxed more.  Sulecki, after the knockdown, looked a little shell shocked and didn’t press the action all that much in the mid rounds.  Andrade started getting a little wild and inaccurate.  Showboating like a prime Sugar Ray Leonard used to do.  Sulecki in the later rounds would try to force the action.  Lunging in with a head of steam hoping to land that one big shot to turn things around. But it was too little too late.   The fight would end up going the distance with Andrade retaining this title by UD with scores of 120-107 x3.  At the post fight conference Andrade would emphatically express his desire to fight either Gennadiy Golovkin or Saul Canelo Alvarez next.

Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA 

Written by Patscorpio for Ring Gang Radio

The Death of the Super-Fight

The Death of the Super-fight.

Once upon a time in boxing, the biggest fights were usually the best fights.  Therefore, creating the term super-fight which usually consisted of a bout between two highly touted boxers that were sitting at the top of the sport.  Super-fights were usually regulated to pay per view since they would garner the attention from casual fans of the sport along with the hardcore following.  These big anticipated match ups were good for the sport because it allowed boxing to have its moment in the sun no matter what other sport seasons are active during the time.  Everybody enjoys a good super-fight every now and then, especially when the fight lives up to the hype.  Unfortunately, true super -fights are few and far on the horizon due to the ever-changing nature of boxing and its participants.  Super-fights stopped feeling super a long time ago. 

The real super-fight takes place long before the boxers enter the ring.  It’s usually fought out through social media posts and interviews where both sides try to agree to terms to make said fight happen.  With the rate boxing operates nowadays, this can take anywhere from six months to six years and this is if the fight happens.  During this tumultuous time, good boxing cards are often overlooked because the focus is on the alleged super-fight that everyone wants to see.  Boxing has a way of ignoring the present for a potential that might not come.  This is just another boxing casualty brought on by the wait for the super-fight. 

Boxing fans have been conditioned to accept and be happy with the better late than never mantra when it comes to super-fights.  Fans eagerly waited for Mayweather versus Pacquiao only to finally have the fight take place when both were past their physical best.  What’s worse is that a fight of that magnitude didn’t receive a nationwide press tour or any major press conference that was open to the public.  Super-fights are supposed to be engaging.  Everything was done away from the fans, even though the fan interest is what kept the fight alive for so long.  The final kicker is both future hall of famers gave pedestrian performances that weren’t inspiring or memorable at all.  The mother of all super-fights was a dud and didn’t elevate the sport one bit.  I might be a little spoiled or old fashioned, but I expect super performances in super fights.  Don’t talk trash for years and then mail it in during the fight.  People don’t pay super-fight prices for pay per view to watch some regular ass fight. 

Effort alone does not make a super-fight.  The officiating and judging play a role as well, sometimes too big of a role.  There’s been too many instances where the energy from the super fight is erased immediately due to bad judging.  Canelo Alvarez versus Gennady Golovkin 1 is a recent example.  For a super-fight it was decent in terms of ring action, but the bad scoring kept from elevating the event.  The conclusive result that everyone wanted would have to wait another year and by that time the energy and fight narrative changed.  The rematch was a much better fight, but the scoring was the same travesty we experienced before.  Once again, boxing ignored the present to flirt with the potential future.  Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury is another super-fight that was decent but left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth because of the bad judging.  What’s the point of a super-fight if the bigger star gets the benefit of the doubt or clout whenever the going gets a little rough for them? 

Boxing is supposed to be the theater of the unexpected.  At this point, it’s becoming too easy to predict a draw or controversial decision loss for the B- side of the promotion.  There’s nothing super about that at all.  I wasn’t surprised when Canelo’s recent big unification fight with Daniel Jacobs failed to gain any buzz leading up to it.  It’s hard to anticipate something that you already know will happen.  Canelo by decision, no matter how competitive the fight is, will always be the safest bet in boxing.  With that said, Canelo fought like that as well, and the little effort he showed in the earlier rounds decreased even more later in the fight when Jacobs finally decided to attack.  This was supposed to be a super-fight, but fans were only treated to roughly 4 rounds of solid action.  Wilder finds himself in a similar situation as Canelo due to the lack luster buzz of his upcoming fight with Dominic Breazeale.   Fans know that if Wilder doesn’t ko his opponent, he’ll probably still get the win because of his potential fight with Anthony Joshua or a Tyson Fury rematch is out there waiting.  The solid title defense he has with Breazeale is getting overlooked for a potential Joshua or Fury bout that may not come. 

Super-fights used to be the pinnacle of the sport, but now they have become a hinderance due to never ending negotiations, boxers giving pedestrian efforts in the ring, and bad judging.  If these 3 things don’t get corrected, we might as well move away from calling certain bouts super fights.  Super-fights are like unicorns and dinosaurs now.  It’d be cool to see one, but you’ll be fine if you don’t.  Plenty of other interesting animals out there in the world that we can appreciate. 

Written by Shutterworth for RingGangRadio

3/9/2019 Turning Stone Casino: Dmitry Bivol vs Joe Smith Jr Fight Report

Once again I took myself on the road to upstate New York.  A 4+ hour drive to one of my favorite venues as of late, Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY. Catch a Matchroom Boxing USA card headlined by 2 spectacular title fights on paper.  In the main event Dmitry Bivol would defend his WBA Light Heavyweight title against Joe Smith Jr.  In the co-main event Maurice Hooker would defend his WBO Super Lightweight title against Mikkel LesPierre.  Opening up the main card was Callum Johnson vs Sean Monaghan.

            Before the main card would start, we were treated to an undercard of talented young prospects.  This is the one part that I really enjoy about Matchroom Boxing cards.  They give them a platform to show and prove and impress.  Nikita Ababiy made quick work of his opponent.  Former amateur standout Otha Jones III made his debut and got into a war with Giorgi Gelashvili, which he won by decision.  Sergey Kuzmin got a stern test/gut check from veteran Joe Dawejko winning a very close majority decision.  The highlight of this undercard was former amateur standout Ismail Mardrimov.  Fighting in his second pro fight, he brutally knocked Frank Rojas out cold.  The finishing sequence was so violent,I thought I witnessed a fatality.  Rojas was unconscious all through being removed via stretcher.  Good news was Rojas eventually snapped out of it later on.  Madrimov then got on the mic and said he wanted to face Jaime Munguia before he moves to 160.

            The main portion of the card started off with a quick 3 round demolition job on Sean Monaghan courtesy of Callum Johnson.  Monaghan never seemed to be in the fight.  The second round produced 2 knockdowns. On him   Bloodied and battered, the ref would have seen fit to end the fight after that round.  But Sean’s corner let him out and he was finished in short.  Very good win for Johnson, who I am sure will be gunning for the 175 elite in the very near future.  For Monaghan, it looks like he may have to look into retiring once again.  He had originally uttered retirement following his last fight, a loss to Sullivan Barrera.  He still had an itch that needed to be scratched unfortunately.

            The co-main event between Maurice Hooker and Mikkel LesPierre was a spirited affair, although a little one sided.  Hooker was more than content to box on the outside using a jab and lead right hands.  There was also a blown knockdown call on LesPierre in round 5 but that was ruled a slip even though I saw a punch connect.   In round 8, LesPierre found himself officially on the canvas courtesy of an overhand right and a left to the body.  Honestly I thought the fight was over at that point, but Les Pierre got up and proceeded to take it to the champion.  Hooker never really made an effort to put him away again but was content to just boxing him up until the final bell.  The 3 judges scored the fight 120-107, 119-108, and 118-109 all for the champion Maurice Hooker.  It didn’t seem that the struggle that Hooker making weight didn’t affect him at all.  In the post-fight interview mentioned that he wanted any of 140 lb champions in the near future.

            The main event between Dmitry Bivol and Joe Smith Jr on paper I thought it would be competitive back and forth fight.  There was a clear level shown that night in the ring.  Bivol kept Smith Jr. at a distance with a beautiful jab.  When Smith Jr. found his way, Bivol would quickly smother him and land body shots. Joe tried being aggressive but more often than not, it got him into trouble.   Especially in the 7th and final rounds, he was visibly hurt by Bivol.  Not to say Joe didn’t have any moments in the fight.  In the waning moments of the 10th round, he landed an overhand right hand that had Bivol out on his feet near the ropes and walking very uncertainly.  Had Joe had 20 more seconds, he very well could have ended the fight there.  He unfortunately was not able to capitalize on it.  Bivol would go on to win a unanimous decision (119-109, 119-109, and 118-110).  Post-fight interview, Bivol expressed a desire to drop down and face WBA 168 kingpin Callum Smith. Personally I would like Bivol to try to make a fight with his fellow 175 champions, but time will tell.

Written by Patscorpio for

To Showcase or Not Showcase.

Over the past year, televised boxing has expanded beyond traditional viewing methods.  Digital streaming just happens to be the latest platform that the sport of boxing has conquered.  Boxing fans on the go can now whip out their phone, tablet, or laptop and load up an app to watch boxing.  Once you add up all the free, cable, and premium networks that broadcast boxing on top of the digital streaming services, boxing fans seem to be making out pretty good.  Well, looks can be deceiving if you value quality over quantity.

            With the untimely death of HBO boxing and the rise of digital streaming, the sport has split itself into several major factions.  You have PBC which is backed by Showtime and Fox.  They probably have the biggest number of star fighters in their roster.  Next is Goldenboy and Matchroom who have boxing’s biggest superstars in Canelo Alvarez and Anthony Joshua in their stables.  This provides huge potential staying power for DAZN (the new digital streaming platform that airs their fights) Last but not least, Top Rank holds a firm position with the ESPN network and its digital streaming accomplice ESPN Plus.  Their stable is top heavy with pound for pound champions Vasyl Lomachenko and Terence Crawford.  From the look of things, each major promotional entity involved has enough resources to make the fights that will elevate the sport.  If this is the case, why are we getting all these showcase bouts. 

            Now for those who are new to the sport of boxing, a showcase bout is a fight where the perceived A side is favored to win and most likely win big, thus showcasing their talent and skill level on the big stage.  Traditionally showcase bouts came in the form of tune ups designated for inactive fighters looking to work off some rust before taking a tougher challenge, but over recent years showcase bouts started becoming accepted as legit main event headliners for boxing cards.  To make matters worse, most boxers are on a one or two fight a year schedule so more than likely they’ll be using one of those dates as a showcase bout.  Now multiply that routine with the amount of A side boxing stars in each major promotional stable and fans are left with the dilemma of having to choose between competitively matched cards or star boxers shaking off some rust whenever multiple boxing cards get aired on the same night or overlap. 

            Boxing is elevated by its biggest stars participating in fights that the fans want to see.  When that starts happening less, the attention is now diverted to just seeing an actual good fight regardless of the star power or lack thereof.  Everyone likes a winner, but even that gets stale once we see that the actual winning is never in doubt.  Boxing is supposed to be the theater of the unexpected, but its hard to stage drama an unpredictability around a concept that will most likely lead to only one result.  When you factor in the bad judging and how certain superstars can’t lose a decision no matter what, the chances of an upset or something dramatic happening go down even more.               Showcase fights aren’t necessarily a bad thing given the circumstance.  A showcase bout for a boxer who is coming from a long stretch of inactivity due to an injury is easier to accept than a guy who routinely fights once a year against mid-tier opposition deciding to fight an even lesser threat for his annual fight.  That type of behavior does nothing for the sport but disrespect the less fortunate boxers that work just as hard but get less exposure.  Boxing can do without the oversaturation of showcase fights.  Stars should be fighting each other or at least the next best available contender.  You’ll have divisions loaded with talent having showcase fights instead of fighting each other.  Whole televised cards are built around this concept and now that all the major promotional companies have regulated themselves to mostly in house cards, you can expect this trend to continue to grow.

Written by Shutterworth

for RingGangRadio

1/19/2019 – Turning Stone Resort Casino: Bryant Jennings vs Oscar Rivas

Last Friday was a rarity of some sorts in which there were 2 notable boxing cards airing back to back that night.  Being the huge boxing fan that I am, having options like this warms my heart.  I also felt that it was time to go and catch a card live.  It has been 3 months since I last did so in Boston for Demetrius Andrade vs Walter Kautondokwa.  Top Rank was holding an event at Turning Stone Resort Casino that would be airing on ESPN+.  The main event was Bryant Jennings vs Oscar Rivas for the NABF Heavyweight Title.  Always a fan of watching the Heavyweights go to work so that is always an incentive.  Plus I’ve never been to Turning Stone, which has turned into quite the boxing hotbed in the last few years.  So I decided that I would take a personal day to drive 4.5 hours from my home in Massachusetts to Verona NY.  The drive itself was pretty straightforward although the scenery was low-key depressing with all the snow and rural landmarks along the highway.  I checked into my accommodations, had a quick bite, and took a 2 hour nap before heading out to the casino. 

A shot of an exchange between Jason Sosa and Marcos Delgadillo

(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank)

                Parking was very ample and free, as par for most casinos I’ve been to.  The event center was pretty nice.   I went into one of the media rooms to pick up my credential for the evening, talked to some of the other members, and then headed out to ringside to set up in the front row.  The undercard before the main card was pretty entertaining.  Carlos Adames and Fazliddin Gaibnazarov scored impressive stoppages.  Vikas Krishnan made an impressive debut and Robson Conceicao put in a dominating performance over the distance.  However the highlight of the undercard was between former WBA Super Featherweight Jason Sosa and journeyman Marcos Delgadillo.  It’s funny on where you might catch a Fight of the Year candidate sometimes.  This was a phone booth type of war where both fighters would visit the canvas once.  The scores were a little bit too wide for my liking for Sosa (97-91, 97-91, and 96-92) but it didn’t take away from how the great the fight was.  Also a lesson in this is to never judge a fighter by their record.  You may miss the big picture.  Delgadillo (17-19-2, 9 KOs)   I am positive will be a tough night’s work for anybody.  That is real talk.  Thankfully ESPN+ aired it so if you have the subscription or if you see on it YouTube, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Shakur Stevenson landing a left hand against Jessie Rosales

(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank)

The main card opened with Shakur Stevenson facing Jessie Rosales.  From the opening bell it was all Stevenson.  One thing I noticed in this fight from past performances is Shakur seems to be growing into his body and he is planting his feet more to deliver more power into his shots.  He boxed beautifully in the first round and then turned it up in the next 3 rounds.  Rosales was visibly hurt and shook up from those punches.  Finally in the 4th round, Stevenson lands a beautiful short inside left hand and down went Rosales.  Rosales got to his feet but the referee decided that he had enough for the night. With that win, Shakur Stevenson improved 10-0-0 with 6 KO’s.  In the post-fight interview, he expressed interest in a fight with current IBF Featherweight Champion Josh Warrington.

Oscar Rivas trapping Bryant Jennings on the ropes

(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank)                 Bryant Jennings vs Oscar Rivas kind of took me by surprise.  Not with the action and how it played out in the ring but for the fact Rivas was fighting in America.  If you look at Rivas’s record, all but one of his fights took place in Canada.  The reason for it is because commissions have not licensed Rivas in the United Stated due to reported eye issues.  So, for the fact he was licensed in NY of all places was a shock to me.  I had read and heard plenty of Oscar Rivas but have not seen him fight so I anticipated on what he could do against a seasoned veteran like Bryant Jennings.  The fight itself was a tense chess match.  There wasn’t a whole lot of action but you could feel the intensity in the ring.  Many of those rounds were incredibly difficult to score because of it.  The finish in the final round was nothing short of sudden and explosive.  Rivas ended up throwing a series of hard right hands that knocked Jennings down to the canvas.  Jennings got up shaky and tried to move to clear his head, but Rivas was on him.  A flurry of punches by Rivas left Jennings almost defenseless as the referee stopped the fight.  At the time of stoppage, judges had Rivas up on 2 cards (106-103 and 105-104) with Jennings up on the last card 106-103.  It was a great victory for Oscar Rivas (now 26-0-0 with 18 KO’s) who finds himself as a new player in the heavyweight/world title scene.  For Bryant Jennings (24-3, 14 KOs) it was an unfortunate setback and he acknowledged as such with the simple phrase “It is what it is”.

Written by PatScorpio for Ring Gang Radio

published on 1/21/2019

The Draw is the New Robbery

There once was a time in boxing where a draw meant that two fighters strengths canceled each other out and both roughly won the same number of rounds leading up to the decision.  Then there were the rare times when a fight was so damn good, that the consensus was that nobody deserved to lose, and both combatants would be awarded a draw.  Either way, draw verdicts in boxing came unexpectedly and infrequently.  Nowadays, it seems like we get a draw in every other big fight that takes place.  This wouldn’t be a problem if these fights were extremely close and competitive, but most of the recent bouts in boxing that were scored draws had clear winners.  The draw was given to lessen the blow of the robbery committed against the real winner while the loser leaves virtually unscathed with an undefeated record and glossy stature in the sport still intact. 

Let’s go back to 2017 where two high profile fights ended up in a draw.  Badou Jack fought James DeGale for all the marbles at super middleweight in one of the better match ups of the year.  After surviving an early knockdown, Jack battled back to take control and did just that during the 2nd half of the fight, dropping DeGale in the process.  Unfortunately, Jack’s effective body punching and pressure boxing that reduced DeGale to sporadic offense and aimless movement wasn’t enough to win officially, even though most observers scored it for him.  Gennady Golovkin would fall victim to the same draw robbery scenario later that year when he didn’t get the nod for effectively coming forward and out-boxing Canelo Alvarez over the course of 12 rounds.  DeGale and Canelo were allowed to lose without officially losing, while Jack and Golovkin were allowed to win without officially winning which is a travesty in itself since hard working fighters are being robbed of their moment at the mountaintop. 

This trend carried on to 2018 where we saw three more draws happen in major fights (Broner/Vargas, Stevenson/Jack, and Wilder/Fury).  Broner and Vargas fit the mode of what fans are used to seeing when draws happen in boxing.  Vargas controlled the first half of the bout with his volume punching and Broner turned it up in the 2nd half with his accurate counter punching.  Neither guy dominated the other, nor could they ever get it going offensively once the other was in their groove.  Their strengths neutralized each other.  Broner’s talent couldn’t overcome Vargas’s work rate and vice versa.  A different type of fight broke out between then lineal light heavyweight champ Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack but yielded the same draw result.  Stevenson controlled and clearly won the first half of the bout due to Jack not really doing much since his game plan was to turn it up late once the older Stevenson grew tired.  The plan seemed to be working until Stevenson ended up hurting Jack late with a body shot, thus taking a much-needed late round in the fight.  Fight was probably one of the easiest 115 to 113 types of bout to score, but fans tend to put more emphasis on rounds that are won bigger, so Stevenson’s early fight dominance gets overshadowed by Jack’s 2nd half rally.  Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury was another major fight that had a clear winner, but amazingly ended up in another controversial draw.  Despite Wilder scoring two big knockdowns, he was soundly out-boxed by Fury for at least 80 percent of the fight.  Tyson Fury was robbed of one of the greatest sports comebacks of all time due to oversaturation of draws in boxing. 

That’s five draws in less than 2 years.  That’s ridiculous once you consider the competitiveness of the fights in question.  A draw went from happening every now and then to becoming a common occurrence in the most convenient of times.  When future super fights are hanging in the balance or a promising star needs to stay undefeated, you can always rely on the faithful draw verdict.  Boxing being known as the theater of the unexpected, will become a thing of the past if every major fight keeps ending in a draw.   There’s too many draws happening in boxing once you start expecting them.     

Written by Shutterworth for Ring Gang Radio

A Tale of Two Fights

A new take on the age old argument in boxing about taking the title away from the champion in order to win the belt.  Written by Shutterworth

A Tale of Two Fights

This world we live in is filled with extremes and opposites and boxing deeply reflects that. One of the oldest sayings in the sport of boxing is that you must take the title away from the defending champion if you want to win. I know there’s some who disagree with this premise since it can subtly imply that you’re giving the champion the benefit of the doubt during close rounds. Another interpretation of the old saying is that boxing your opponent simply isn’t good enough. Those that agree with the old saying probably imagine the contender climbing the summit of his strength in a Rocky like performance to batter the champion defenseless in a title winning effort. Of course, that epic visual looks a lot more dramatic than someone calmly boxing on his backfoot without a care in the world. Although both sides have an argument, neither can come to a common ground for this ageless debate.

I feel the true answer to this passionate subject lies somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. When you break down the two major strengths of each ideology you’re left with composure and effort. The spirit of the underdog is composure. Knowing how to stick to your game plan amidst adversity is to believe in your boxing. You understand that if you work behind your jab, that more opportunities will come. Winning the title is only a matter of time. Those that disagree with the whole you must take the title away from the champ saying would probably agree with my composure breakdown. On the other hand, we have effort which is the foundation of every action including fighting. Those famous boxing movie scenes where the underdog beats the odds all have one thing in common. Each fighter exerts herculean effort in their performance. We might overlook the inner composure the boxer is showing while implementing their strategy because we’re too busy being impressed by their grit and determination. Sometimes we might give the lack of skill a subconscious pass due to seeing effort and hustle become successful. Composure resides on the boxing side of the spectrum while effort lies on the fighting side of the spectrum. Most boxing fans due to their individual preference, subconsciously choose a side of the spectrum and proceed to view a championship fight in that way.

There shouldn’t be a separation between composure an effort. Both are at their best when they reinforce the other. Sound boxing is nice on its own, but if the effort behind the approach is passive, you’re going to end up not getting the most out of your skills. Too often have we seen a skilled challenger let a fight that was up for grabs go to the champion because they failed to take the initiative and attack more. Good effort can be impressive, but the notion wears off if there aren’t enough skills to back that effort. I’m positive the reader has seen a fight where the challenger hurls haymaker after haymaker for twelve rounds in a valiant effort that was unfortunately void of any adjustment which would have made those wild punches land more effectively. With all the pressure that comes along with preparing for a world title shot, is it too much to ask of a boxer, to expect them to stay composed during adversity while giving maximum effort in the implementation of their strategy?

Boxing is a battle of doubles. There are two boxers along with two opposing strategies fueled by two different ideologies. With that said, there should only be one way you should view the fight. That view is the one that sees which boxer displays the better more consistent combination of composure an effort. The champion doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt for not looking too bad and the challenger doesn’t get rewarded for having a few bright moments. There’s no preconceived notions of what each boxer should do to fulfill your personal preference. Its just two boxers fighting for their own truths.

Written by Shutterworth the Goat Artist

published on on November 28, 2018