Thursday, April 30, 2009

British Scene Weekend Preview

While American boxing fans will have to make do with a less than impressive undercard as they await this Saturday night's main event between Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquaio, British fans will have a little more to look forward to.

Dave Oakes previews the full slate of bouts airing from Sunderland before Sky Box Office shifts its attention to the big show in Las Vegas.

Friday April 17

Hatton Undercard - The British Leg (SKY Box Office)

By Dave Oakes

Before the big fight starts in Vegas, there’ll be an opportunity for two of Britain’s most popular fighters to keep busy and increase their fan base on a jam-packed card from the Crowntree Leisure Centre, Sunderland, England.

Jamie Moore makes the second defence of his European title against perennial letdown Roman Dzuman. Moore starts as the hot favourite against a fighter who hasn’t won in his last four fights and always seems to find a way of losing in the big fights.

Dzuman, a natural welterweight, is looking more vulnerable these days up at light-middleweight having been stopped in his past two fights, including last time out when he was destroyed by Alexander Abraham in six one-sided rounds.

Moore will be hoping for a similar outcome on Saturday night. He’ll be looking to put on a classy show of intelligent pressure boxing to impress the huge PPV numbers expected. I can see Dzuman trying his best in the first couple of rounds before accepting his fate and being stopped sometime between rounds four and six.

Sharing top billing is European champion Rendall Munroe, who makes his PPV debut when he challenges for the Commonwealth super-bantamweight title against tough Ghanaian Isaac Nettey. Nettey is officially 3-2-1 (although it's safe to say he's had more bouts than that) in his career but can fight a bit and is as tough as old boots.

Munroe is a fast improving boxer. He’s come back well from his only career defeat against Andy Morris three years ago, when he lost on points in a British title shot at featherweight. The move down to super-bantamweight proved to be the making of him; he’s massive for the weight, carries reasonable power in both hands and can trade inside as well as box on the outside.

He’s closing in on a world title fight and has been calling out Bernard Dunne ever since the Irishman produced the performance of his career to stop Ricardo Cordoba last month. Munroe is unfortunate to be in one of the strongest divisions in boxing, it would have been much easier for him to win a world title if he’d been a natural featherweight. He may still be tempted to try his luck at 126lbs rather than take on the impressive trio of Israel Vasquez, Juan Manuel Lopez and Celestino Caballero.

Nettey won’t be a threat to Munroe but he’ll make him work hard early on and will be as brave as a lion when Munroe starts to pick up the pace from the fourth round onwards. I think Munroe will be too big, too fast and far too good for Nettey to cope with for the full twelve rounds and will stop him around the eighth round.

On the undercard…

Danny Williams and John McDermott meet again in a rematch of their putrid twelve round sleep-inducing fight of last year. Williams prevailed last time by a controversial majority points decision and McDermott has been crying about it ever since. He will finally get the chance to avenge that decision, although I’m not too sure whether he will. It all depends on which Danny Williams turns up. If he turns up weighing less than 260lbs, then he has to be considered the favourite. If he wobbles in above 260lbs, then anything could happen. The only thing guaranteed is another tedious fight between two overweight boxers that will test the resolve of every fan watching.

Olympic Bronze medallist Tony Jeffries makes his second outing in the paid ranks against a yet to be named opponent. Jeffries will be hoping for an impressive performance in front of his hometown fans.

There are also two crossroads fights on the bill, with Thomas McDonagh taking on Sam Webb and Gary Woolcombe fighting Andrew Facey. The losers of those fights will have nowhere to go in their career, whilst the winners will be looking to take a step towards a British title fight.

e-mail Dave Oakes

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mark's Top 40 at 40: (12-10)

Mark Lyons is back with the latest installment of his top 40 list. For those not up to speed with Mark's list, he's turning 40 this year and is counting down his 40 favorite fighters in honor of that milestone.

Today, Mark's counting down numbers 12,11 and 10.

12. Earnie Shavers

Career Record: 74-14-1 (68)

Three Favorite Fights: Ken Norton KO1, Muhammad Ali LUD15, Larry Holmes LTKO11

Kill or be killed, show me a boring Shavers fight, I double dog dare you! The Roy Williams fight is the epitome of that. Completely out of gas and taking a pounding, Earnie was nearly dead in the corner, took a standing eight and roared back to stop Williams when he was so spent he could barely hold up his arms. That was Earnie in a nutshell, vulnerable and violently destructive all at once.

He came along at the wrong time to wear the heavyweight crown. If only he was around today to drop a right hand missile on Wlad's chin. Want to know how that would turn out? Shavers KO1

The right hands he landed on Ali in the second round and on Holmes in the seventh round of the rematch are two of the hardest punches I have ever seen in my life. It's a testament to the toughness and brilliance of those fighters, that Shavers doesn't hold KO victories over two of the greatest fighters who ever lived.

My first live fight was an aging Earnie against George Chaplin. As much as I love George, I was pulling for the Black Destroyer. Another first for me, was the quarter I won from my father on Shavers/Norton, my first bet.

I'll also never forget Earnie's absolute wars with Mercado and Cobb when he was a shell of himself.

You could count on two things in any Earnie Shavers fight - pain and excitement. Today's heavyweight division lacks the second and the only pain is enduring the man love on your television screen. Everyone wants another Ali, Tyson or Foreman to save the division. Give me another Shavers to knock these clowns out in brutal fashion and bring his shield into the ring, win or lose.

11. Michael Spinks

Career Record: 31-1 (21)

Three Favorite Fights: Larry Holmes II SD15, Yacqui Lopez TKO7, Marvin Johnson KO4

The 76 Olympics was my introduction into the addictive world of Boxing. And this was arguably the best fighter that games produced. Very few fighters in history accomplished as much in so few fights. The Spinks Jinx was always cocked behind his brilliant jab and it didn't take many of them to turn out your lights.

Michael had every conceivable punch you could want. The left uppercut that starched Marvin johnson is something you wont see anytime soon. He came along at a time when the light heavyweight division was loaded with established bad asses and Michael handled them all. Qawi and Mustapha Muhammad were beaten easily as Spinks put his versatility on full display by completely out boxing both of them. Only Eddie Davis was able to run Michael as a light heavyweight and he honestly was deprived of one of histories biggest upsets by poor judging.

When Michael moved up to heavyweight, he totally switched gears and started bouncing in and out from absurd angles. There was always a bit of awkwardness to his game, but he was pretty straight up at 175.

While the initial and much deserved victory over Holmes was his crowning ring achievement, I prefer the rematch. Yes, the decision was controversial, but it was an excellent and overlooked fight. Holmes came out blazing and easily won the first 6 rounds, I gave him the next two closer and then Spinks grit his teeth, slapped his nuts on the ring floor and went to war with Larry Holmes. In my eyes, Michael won the last seven rounds and the fourteenth was sheer brilliance. This game is about more than winning and losing, and while Larry shaded that fight on my card, Spinks showed the guts and heart of an all time great.

From there it was all pretty much icing on one hell of a boxing cake. I must mention the 85 out of 93 power shots he landed in less than 3 minutes while he completely dismantled Gerry Cooney. Compubox sucks and they talk about records, but smashing a man at near 100% connect rate over nearly 100 punches is nasty shit.

At the end, his knees gave out and he got smoked by Tyson. It's a shame most people remember that Michael Spinks, because he would be hell on any light heavyweight in history. Moore, Foster, Charles, etc... the Spinks jinx is right there with all of them and he was a better fighter than Mike Tyson could ever dream of being.

10. Howard Davis, Jr.

Career Record: 36-6-1 (14)

Three favorite Fights: Vilomar Fernandez UD12, Meldrick Taylor D10 & Edwin Rosario LSD12

Howard was far from the most exciting fighter on my list, nor was he the most accomplished, but he was the guy a 7yr old boy was emulating when he made his dad throw on gloves and box with him during the 76 Olympics. I had the pleasure of meeting Howard a few years ago and he was as nice a guy as you could ever meet. He seemed genuinely touched and proud to talk to someone that loved him that much.

He was the fastest fighter I have ever seen. People talk about blown potential and I think it was more of a fighter with the perfect amateur style who was rushed a bit in the pro's to obtain what seemed like inevitable stardom.

Jim Watt was a tough guy. Not spectacular, but nobody was going to have an easy night with him. It's a lot to ask of a guy in his 14th fight to invade Scotland and take the belt from a grizzled veteran like Watt. Howard had the tools, but he just wasn't ready yet, and I think that result could have been different a few years later.

Four years later, almost to the day, he was ready when he went to San Juan to face budding superstar Edwin Rosario. That was Howard's time and his finest moments in a professional ring. He was brilliant throughout, save for an early knockdown and a heart breaking last second knockdown that cost him his long awaited championship glory. To this day, that is one of my most depressing boxing memories. Everything was right there in his hands. I honestly think he deserved the decision anyway, but that knockdown made it closer than it needed to be. Rosario never hurt him and was befuddled for most of the night.

Davis didn't have a punch or a particularly sturdy chin. But he had tremendous skills and talent. Enough to draw with Meldrick Taylor late in his career.

In a pure boxing match, he could go with the best of them. He is this high from my childhood and from how important amateur boxing used to be. He never achieved professional glory, but he was the greatest fighter on one of the greatest Olympic teams in history. That has to be worth something.

If you haven't done so already, make sure to check out Mark's previous entries: Intro, 40-36, 35-31, 30-26, 25-21, 20-16, 15-13.

e-mail Mark Lyons
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Manny Pacquiao vs Ricky Hatton Preview

Jeff Pryor takes a look at this Saturday night's mega-fight between Filipino Manny Pacquaio and Britain's Ricky Hatton.

Photos © Ray Kasprowicz

The other day I was talking to a young Filipino woman, recently home from a visit to see her mother, who still lives among the islands of the Philippines. Inevitably I asked her if she was a fan of Manny Pacquiao, and inevitably she said she was, though not like her mother and everyone else who lives in the country. She didn't tell me anything you haven't heard before, mentioning how things shutdown when he fights and that no one is out and about. However, I perceived a reservation in her.

What I sensed, talking to this young lady, perhaps in her mid thirties, while she told me, in what would seem to be almost an understatement, that "he is almost like an icon there", was that she didn't entirely understand the phenomena of Pacquiao's massive appeal in her homeland. The reason, I would guess, is that she has been Americanized, for lack of a better term. Living in New York, and all it's diverse accouterments adds to you as a person, just as it strips away some of your personal regional or cultural identification.

To Filipinos, I believe that in addition to his affable personality and talents in the ring, Pacquiao embodies what is considered a model countryman. Religious, humble and hardworking, Pacquiao takes these attributes that most among the islands aspire to, and combines them with a hard luck story that so many there can relate to.

The parallel is that in boxing, Manny Pacquiao embodies what we as fans wish all our pugilistic stars were. Fast and flashy, powerful and explosive, a fighter through and through, but also someone who seems like a genuinely good guy you can root for.

Across the ring from him this Saturday night is a similar man, who like Pacquiao is emblematic of his U.K. compatriots. Blue collar, plain spoken and cheeky (in more ways than one if you caught the first episode of 24/7), you'd have no trouble envisioning Ricky Hatton atop a stool at a pub in Manchester easily chatting with anyone who happened to lighten the load alongside of him.

Inside the ring his toughness and tenacity, will and withering attacks, combined with his good humor make him another nice guy who fans can easily get behind.

The question becomes; if nice guys finish last, which of these two likable lugs will create some ill will in the ring?

Niceties aside, both gentleman do their business with a killer's attributes that bely their rosy personalities. Though he finds it somewhere under that boyish grin and quite spoken demeanor, Pacquiao's intensity and warrior attitude seems to come in the form of focus and slow burn ferocity.

Hatton seems to have genuine angst that he channels for his fights and the wisecracks and jokes die out like a an amateur night stand up routine as he enters the squared circle, grim and determined. Hatton like a caged beast, Pacquiao like a cagey hunter.

Each is a hurting machine.

Which machine is finely tuned and ready to spit out fire from bell to bell?...

As the song says, "There's only one Ricky Hatton", though he may wish there were a few more to help him try and corral the darting whirlwind that is Manny Pacquiao. The foot speed and movement of the Filipino, along with how Hatton adjusts to it, is probably the key to this matchup when all is said and done. Before we get into that I think the bouts that frame this matchup also provide a vital clue to which man is truly at the height of their game.

Last time we saw Ricky Hatton he was on his way to dominating Paulie Malignaggi in a largely uneventful bout which had Malignaggi's corner throwing in the towel after eleven one sided rounds. Hatton performed well and seemed to mix in a little more skill under the tutelage of Floyd Mayweather Sr.

Though the pride of Manchester seemed improved from his uninspiring and almost disasterous performance against Juan Lazacano earlier in the year, he also appeared to only have to deal with a diminished Malignaggi. This Malignaggi was one who threw markedly less punches than in his successful bouts, one who seemed too uptight to fight over the first half and content to survive down the home stretch. In short, a Paulie Malignaggi whose brief rise had already begun to be eclipsed by successive lackluster performances against Herman Ngoudjo, the rematch with Lovemore N'Dou and finally culminating in his listless performance against Ricky N'Hatton... er, Hatton. The question is, how much of the performance was a rejuvenated Ricky Hatton and how much was a dejuvenated Malignaggi (that's right, I just used a morphological pseudoword).

Last time we saw Manny Pacquaio in the ring he was on his way to dominating Oscar De La Hoya in a largely uneventful bout which had De La Hoya's corner throwing in the towel after eight one sided rounds. Pacquiao performed well and seemed to mix in a little more skill under the tutelage of Freddy Roach.

The real story was that thirty eight of Pacquio's then fifty two fights had been fought at a weight of 122lbs or lower and there he was fighting an A-lister at 147lbs. On that evening back in December Oscar had no answers for Pacquiao's withering onslaught, but, was it due to the questions Pacquio was posing or due to the inevitable slide that the Golden Boy has been staving off these last few years. Pacquiao looked every bit as amazing, as De La Hoya looked dead and drawn. So when dolling out credit, one is cautious in heaping it on Pacquiao too liberally. His last win over Marquez was ten pounds lighter and debatable, his victory over Diaz dominating, but assured and his win over De La Hoya was astounding, but augmented, by father time.

When the bell rings it's a fresh start for both. While the signposts of their earlier fights point the direction, neither will win or lose based on what's come before, only on what is in their paths on the night they are face to face, punch for punch.

I would expect Hatton and Pacquiao to provide freewheeling action early, but over the first several rounds, as Hatton realizes that Pacquiao's foot speed is his real barrier to winning, he will fall into the familiar Hitman pattern of jumping in with a punch or two and then clinching and grappling, looking to manhandle the presumed smaller man. As it happens Manny stands 5'6" to Ricky's 5'7", and enjoys a two inch reach advantage over the Brit. Contrary to conventional wisdom on this one, I'm not so sure size matters.

If Pacquiao's elite stretch at 126-147 has proven anything, it's that he is adaptable to master brawlers, master boxers, and everything in between, and I'd imagine that after a round or two of wrestling, Pacquiao will crank up the movement, and begin strafing Hatton as he comes in, elusively darting away after popping his foe in the beer chute.

While I think ultimately Pacquiao makes Hatton fight on his terms, no doubt Hatton will have his moments, and his toughness, grit and determination will offer him opportunities to change the fight, perhaps with a withering body attack.

I suspect there is a small weakness in Pacquiao, that like a fissure in a glacier, is easily bypassed in the grand scheme of things, and is rarely stumbled upon, but exists none the less, there waiting for the right set of circumstances to claim it's victim; it is a cap on his tolerance for pain. Early in his career he succumbed against lesser opponents, he writhed on the stool against Morales as they tended his gashed eye and when Barrera sucker punched him in the 11th round of their rematch, Pacquiao slumped against the ropes stunned and hurt as a point was taken from his opponent, small examples, but an opening nonetheless for the punishing punches of Ricky Hatton.

Each man has strengths and weaknesses that you could argue offset or set them apart. The long and short of it is this; 50-50 sounds about right.

A fog of vague uncertainty lingers over both fighters due to their previous opponents liabilities. The size differential hangs there too, as does the question of speed, both hand and foot. Whether Hatton's new trainer will make the brawler a boxing brutalizer or will Pacquiao's continual refinement raise him to a soaring new level.

In a fight with so many variables, unanswered questions and unknowable circumstances the only thing we can say for sure is that the intrigue for such a bout is enormous.

One of the best moments in any anticipated fight is that fleeting moment just after the opening bell sounds and the two men walk out to meet each other. In the viewer who has envisioned the matchup, speculated on it's outcome and imagined the best possibilities and promise of something to remember, there is a distinct feeling as this moment passes and the initial volleys are thrown; Finally... we shall know what this is, and who the better of the two will be proven to be.

It is in that moment that a fight passes forever more from what might be, to what is. By the end, the tally is rung up, our sports history logs another entry and for now the questions are answered.

Two nice guys, two proud nations and a thousand questions meet in the center of the ring Saturday night.

e-mail Jeff Pryor
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Monday, April 27, 2009

British Scene Weekend Recap

There were two title fights in the UK this past weekend. On Friday in Wolverhampton, Don Broadhurst put his Commonwealth super-flyweight title on the line against Ghanaian Asamoah Wilson. The following night, young Scotsman Paul Appleby traveled to challenger Martin Lindsay's hometown of Belfast to defend his British featherweight crown.

Dave Oakes and Matt Chudley have all the details.

Friday April 24

Broadhurst Retains Title

By Dave Oakes

Don Broadhurst made a successful defence of his Commonwealth super-flyweight title on Saturday night after stopping the woefully inept Asamoah Wilson in the sixth round.

Broadhurst made a sloppy start to the fight and was made to pay towards the end of the first round when Wilson landed a wide left hook that sent blood streaming from Broadhurst’s nose. Despite this success Wilson looked completely out of his depth and it was clear to everyone in attendance that he was nothing more than a complete novice and had no place in the ring fighting for a championship belt.

With blood running freely from his nose, Broadhurst seemed to come out more focused at the start of the second. He opened up with a blistering body attack that seemed to unsettle the challenger and followed it up with a couple of whipping hooks to the chin that had Wilson trying desperately to move out of range.

It was a rather one-sided fight from then on; to be fair, it was from the start but became even more so after the second round. The fight settled into a routine of Broadhurst teeing off at will to body and head, and Wilson moving around like a new born foal on a wet barn floor.

Wilson only landed one telling blow after the first round; it was another wide left hook that crashed against Broadhurst’s chin at the end of the fourth, but it was a short-lived moment of success for the Ghanaian. Broadhurst simply shook it off and returned to his corner seemingly unfazed by the shot. It may have had more of an effect if it had been a shorter punch instead of the ridiculously wide unorthodox windmill shot that Wilson seemed keen on throwing.

When Broadhurst hurt Wilson at the end of the fifth with an overhand right, you could sense the end was nigh. It certainly was, Broadhurst piled on the pressure throughout the sixth round and after a sustained body assault left Wilson wilting, his trainer threw the towel in to save him from further punishment.

Broadhurst moves to 11-0 (3KO). Hopefully we’ll now see him taking a step up in class. It’d be a shame if such a talented fighter fails to get the fights needed to help him improve before he gets a world title shot.

On the undercard...

Two prospects on the undercard struggled to victories. Darren McDermott looked unfocused and slow against tough journeyman Jamie Ambler. McDermott won on points but must improve if he’s to stand any chance of beating Darren Barker when they face off next month.

Jamie Cox made hard work of Mark Lloyd by getting involved in an ugly brawl. He could have made life easier for himself by using his skill but looked rash in trying to impress his fans. He also landed numerous low blows, head butts and made a stamping gesture after Lloyd had slipped to the canvas.

He can count himself very lucky that he didn’t get disqualified, with the referee only deducting a point after one of the head butts. Cox was surprisingly behind on the referees scorecard going into the final round but turned things around by pummelling Lloyd against the ropes until the referee jumped in to stop it. Cox called out British champion Kell Brook after the fight; I think he should be more concerned about learning how to control himself and pace a fight before he thinks of fighting someone of Brook’s calibre. If he fights Brook in the same manner he fought Lloyd, he’ll get knocked out very early.

e-mail Dave Oakes

Saturday April 25

Lindsay Wins Featherweight Title

By Matt Chudley

Hometown hero Martin Lindsay claimed the British featherweight title in halting Paul Appleby at a packed out Ulster Hall in Belfast on Saturday. The end came at 2:36 of the 6th round, after the older but less experienced Lindsay had punished the reckless young Scot with his superior timing and accuracy.

Appleby, attempting to make the 2nd defense of the title he won last year, made a sluggish start to the contest, failing to even find arms and gloves with many of his punches. Meanwhile the fired up challenger, spurred on by a full house of partisan supporters made an uncharacteristically aggressive start to the fight, showing enough pop in his punches to earn the respect of the champion.

Late in the 2nd and throughout the 3rd, Appleby tried to use his size, strength and possibly some dirty tactics to gain a foothold in the fight. Leaning and shoving his opponent in addition to holding and hitting drew unfavourable chants from the home support but allowed Appleby to get in a few decent body shots.

Lindsay momentarily seemed to hurt Appleby on the ropes in the 4th with a two fisted flurry but the plucky Scot covered up and then eagerly answered back. Undeterred, the now heavily marked-up Appleby continued to march forward in the face of some accurate counter-punching from the Belfast man

In the 6th after first being caught with a significant right hand, Appleby walked into Lindsay’s much-vaunted left hook. The punch landed flush, and left the game but bloodied title holder disorientated and looking to hold on. After getting separation from referee Howard Foster, Lindsay went straight back to work in punishing the Edinburgh native with a barrage of unanswered punches until Foster was given little choice but to step in.

With age on his side, the loss will serve as an important learning experience for Appleby, who at 21 was the youngest ever fighter to hold the British featherweight title. He now knows that physical advantages alone cannot be relied upon to overcome quality opponents.

While he may have to wait to find out his next opponent, Martin Lindsay can look forward to moving to the bigger cross town Kings Hall after demonstrating that both his talents and drawing power merit it.

On the undercard…

Ryan Rhodes stopped undersized Hungarian Janos Petrovics after dropping him twice, with the second knockdown prompting a halt to the fight after 7 lackluster rounds.

Petvovics’1-0 countryman Sandor Polgar appeared out of his depth against 3-0 George Groves. Polgar was put down with a right hook in the opening seconds, and Groves finished the job shortly afterward.

Troubled former footballer Curtis Woodhouse found himself on the losing end of a controversial 6 round decision to 9-14-1 Jay Morris. Woodhouse was almost joined in losing his 0 by an overweight and unfocused Michael Maguire who received a fortunate 39-38 nod over the 6-5-1 James Ancliff.

e-mail Matt Chudley
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Sunday, April 26, 2009

JuanMa Keeps Getting Better

Michael Nelson gives his thoughts on the performance of Juan Manuel Lopez in his victory over Gerry Penalosa this past Saturday night.

Juan Manuel Lopez passed the second big test of his career Saturday night. Thoroughly answering many of the remaining questions left about his game, he overwhelmed the durable Gerry Penalosa and left trainer Freddie Roach with little choice but to call an end to the fight after the 9th round.

JuanMa had blown out the vast majority of his opponents before Penalosa within four rounds. Against the only man he couldn't run over, Hugo Dianzo in August 2007, he showed vulnerabilities that young fighters tend to have by slowing down late in the fight and not paying much attention to Dianzo's body.

He came much more prepared for Gerry Penalosa. Displaying incredible conditioning, he swamped the 36 year old with power punches while remaining responsible defensively, picking off or slipping most of Penalosa's counters. With the bigger, stronger Lopez working every minute of every round, Penalosa was never able to back him off. Worst, the deep waters Gerry and Freddie were hoping for never arrived. Lopez hardly took a deep breath during the action.

Even more impressive was the variety of punches Lopez threw. Understanding that Penalosa's guard would catch most of the blows directed at his head, Lopez was determined to rip the body. Also understanding that Penalosa likes to get low and duck under his opponent's punches, Lopez wasn't nearly as reliant on the right hook as he was in previous fights. He handcuffed Penalosa's head movement by consistently shooting the uppercut underneath. Trainer Alex Caraballo came up with a great game plan, and Lopez executed it with perfection.

Perhaps the only scantron bubble left unmarked pertains to how fast Lopez will escalate up the pound-for-pound ratings. Right now, it seems to be more of a matter of when than if. With the violence of the Israel Vasquez-Rafael Marquez trilogy taking a huge chunk out of the careers of both men, I'm not sure who at 122 pounds would threaten to beat the 25 year old phenom. Celestino Caballero is on quite a run and may be the man with the tools to test Lopez' whiskers. But with Celestino's leaky defense, it's hard to favor him in a shootout.

Meanwhile, a word must be said about Gerry Penalosa. Clearly outgunned throughout the fight, Gerry could have easily gone into survival mode and dropped a lopsided decision instead of having a TKO by 9 on his record.

But Penalosa has never been about just surviving. Regardless of who he's up against and where the fight is taking place, he believes he can win and he does his damndest to make that belief into reality. So while it's likely he'll fall just short of the Hall of Fame, Gerry's a special fighter who has had some tremendous performances during his 20 year career.

Freddie Roach did the right thing in pulling him out. He knows his fighter. He knows that the word 'quit' won't be found in Penalosa's vocabulary. Someone needed to do what was best, and look out for the interests of the remainder of Penalosa's career, and more importantly, his life beyond boxing.

As often happens in boxing, a young man shined brightest at the behest of an older man's fading glimmer. But neither fighter's performance last night will soon be forgotten.

e-mail Michael Nelson
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Carl Froch And The Fun At 168

By Lee Payton

Photos © Justin McKie

Carl Froch, a hard-nosed boxer/puncher from Great Britain, established himself not only as one of the very best super middleweights in the world, but also as one of boxing's most exciting fighters, after getting up off the deck to score a thrilling 12th round knockout of former middleweight Champion, Jermain Taylor.

At the very least, it shouldn't be too hard for Froch to find a big time British TV deal for his next fight. Whether people like his brashness or not, he's one of the main players at 168 lbs, where there is certainly no shortage of interesting opponents. For my money, it's the best division in boxing top to bottom, in terms of potential fireworks.

While Froch was willing to come to America to take on the former middleweight Champion, you have to expect more support from fans back home after last night's display of guts. A large British fan base provides him with significant bargaining leverage, as well as incentive for opponents to sign the dotted line, in order to get the big bucks.

If his style doesn't guarantee that Carl Froch will never be in a bad fight, his weight class seals the deal. Sure, he's not the most polished pug in the world, but he doesn't make it easy for anyone. So how would he fair against the rest of the significant players?

Though he hasn't fought anyone of note in awhile because of some nasty managerial issues, Mikkel Kessler is still seen by many as the cream of the crop, based on past work, which includes a shutout of Andrade and a spirited effort (with a busted right mitt) against then champion, Joe Calzaghe.

Kessler is class, no doubt, but not even he is impervious to The Cobra's venom. While I would personally favour the Dane to win a decision, it wouldn't be the kind of outclassing that one might suspect given Froch's penchant for eating clean bombs with hands held low.

I think Kessler is most comfortable shooting short 1-2's at a certain range, preferably with an oncoming target, and is considerably less potent on the far outside and deep inside. Froch has shown the ability to close the distance rather quickly with jerky movements. He could be some trouble going in and out with his late energy. He'd make Kessler earn it.

Lucien Bute is a difficult style match-up for anyone. Tall, quick, disciplined southpaws who can move and counter usually are. While he seems to have all the tools to get the job done rather easily, can he take one of those clean rights hands on the button? And how will he react when Froch is still there, trying to take his head off in the last quarter of the fight?

The green belt sanctioning body says that youngsters Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell, both 18-0, deserve a shot in the very near future. Both are very talented, and carry some impressive physical gifts into the ring, but in my opinion, neither is ready for the type of pain and suffering they'd need to endure in order to win. Froch would hit them in places they've never been touched before and force them to answer questions they're probably not prepared for. Not yet.

How brutal would fights with Librado Andrade or Sakio Bika be? Even the most hard edged fight fan would have to shield his eyes.

Maybe the most attractive option out there at the moment is Allan Green, who showed an interest during his post-fight interview. Now that's a can't-miss brawl! I've never been all that high on Green, but his offense is nasty, and I believe what I have heard about his physical issues in the past. With the way these guys hit and get hit, it's a fight that could feature many sudden (and violent) changes of fortune.

And of course there's always the rematch with Taylor, which is something of a natural considering the money involved, the patchy scoring and the unforgettable finish.

Whatever happens next, you won't wanna miss it.

e-mail Lee Payton
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Night Fights Live Blog

We're trying something new tonight at The Boxing Bulletin. We're going to do some live blogging. We'll be following along with both cards, starting with the Showtime broadcast at 9 PM EST, and switching over to the HBO show after Froch/Taylor finishes.

Coverage will start at 9 PM EST.

I'll be commenting throughout the evening, and will definitely remark on all the key events, but it won't be a truly comprehensive blow by blow coverage. If you're looking for that, I recommend checking out Bad Left Hook's live blog. Those guys do an excellent job every week.

9:04...We're under way. Gus Johnson and Al Bernstein are handling the duties for Showtime.

9:08... Carlos DeLeon Jr and Allan Green are both in the ring. Jimmy Lennon Jr. has the intros.

9:11... We're underway. Al Bernstein mentions how important the early part of the bout will be for DeLeon, as he's making a big jump up in class.

Decent opening round. Green landed a really nice combo with about 20 seconds left, and there was some good action to close the round, with both guys ripping shots.

9:15... DeLeon certainly didn't look out of his depth in the first round. Green won it, but the action was competitive. And just as I say that, Green lands a huge left hook, sending DeLeon crashing to the canvas. He's up at 6. Doesn't look too fresh, but chooses to get back in there and start trading... and he's down again. 1:40 still left in the round. DeLeon is in big trouble, and down he goes. He doesn't have his legs, but he's back in there. 1:10 still to go in the round. DeLeon is down again. That's it.

9:21... The time of the stoppage was 1:06 of the 2nd round.

DeLeon never really had his legs after the first knockdown. He jumped back in right away and landed a left hook, but immediately got caught again with a hook, and sent back towards the ropes before he went down again.

9:22... Green tells Jim Gray that he wants the winner of Froch/Taylor next.

On the first knockdown: Green says that DeLeon kept throwing a long left jab to the body, and he kept countering with his right hand, and was just waiting for DeLeon to get a little brave, so he could open up with the hook.

9:24... Green's picking Froch to win the main-event.

9:32... Showtime's filling some time at the moment with highlights from last night's Shobox card.

9:38... Bernstein's going over the "Keys to victory".

For JT, it's - use the jab, no rounds off and land the right. "Froch can be hit with right hands, and Taylor will need to land it early and often."

For Froch, the keys are - keep the left up, don't lunge and land the uppercut. "Froch has fight ending power in his uppercuts, and he can deliver that punch with both hands... and since Kelly Pavlik used the uppercut well against Taylor on the inside, expect to see this tonight from Froch."

9:47 Taylor starts with a big right over the top. Very crisp jabs and a few other right hands over the jab. They've worked on that in camp obviously. Froch finds his way a little in the middle of the round. Cute hook by Taylor ends the round. Taylor's round.

9:54.. Round 2 could have gone either way though I though Froch got more of what he wanted. Both are lining each other up. Mostly a battle of jabs, though they exchanged wildly to end it.

9:58... Great 3rd round. Taylor caught Froch with a huge right hand, only for Froch to come right back. A little later on, with about 45 seconds left, Taylor hurt Froch and put him down with a right. Froch was clearly buzzed, but got up and got right back in there. Great stuff.

10:02... Froch is okay after the rough ending to the 4th round, and the action was a bit more cautious in the 4th. Froch is getting a chewing out from his trainer.

Press row has Taylor up 40-35, 39-36 and 39-36.

10:06... Taylor landed a really nice left hook to the body about 45 seconds in the round. Froch is showing quite a bit of respect here. Taylor meanwhile is looking very comfortable. He just slipped a right, and tied Froch up in close. Taylor was just warned after a left hook that landed around the belt-line.

10:10... Froch opens up the 6th trying to work the jab. Soemething he hasn't done enough of. Froch just landed a thudding right hand that backed up Taylor for a second, but he took it well given how clean it looked. Now Froch getting a little more aggressive. Tainer Rob McCracken told Froch to throw 1-2's between rounds, and it's working for him here.

Better from Froch in the 6th, although Taylor had a good flurry to finish it.

10:14... Gus Johnson comments on Taylor's defense being excellent. It has been good, and he's looked fairly comfortable when under attack. Froch is now starting to put a bit of pressure on, but JT manages though to keep working his jab, and not let Froch load up too much.

Interesting 7th round. Froch was the more aggressive of the two, but Taylor landed some nice clean jabs.

10:17... Froch is starting to find the range here in the 8th with his right hand. Taylor's not really letting his hands go at the moment. Bernstein comments that JT looks like he's trying to buy some time here. Taylor is using the ring here, backing away.

After Froch controlled the first 2:50 of the round, Taylor had an excellent flurry at the end. He caught Froch with a couple really nice clean shots, and I think wobbled him a bit. McCracken isn't pleased.

10:19... The big punch from JT at the end was a left uppercut. Landed flush and shook Froch.

10:20... Bernstein is saying that Froch should stick to the 1-2's. They've been what's working for him.

10:22... Froch is moving forward here, while Taylor is using his jab to keep a comfortable distance. Round 9 has been a close one. JT's in retreat, but Froch is only cautiously attacking and not landing anything of note, while JT catches him with the occasional counter.

Press Row has it 87-83, 86-85 and 86-84 for Taylor.

10:26... Froch comes out aggressively in the 10th and has some success. Froch firing off some 1-2's. 1:30 into the round and JT hasn't really let his hands go at all. JT is giving ground here. Froch continues to press and he's landing. JT occasionally opens up with something flashy.

Good round for Froch.

10:27... The scores are tightening on press-row...96-93, 95-95 and 95-94.

10:30... Froch is fighting like he knows he needs these final 2 rounds to have a chance. JT being very cautious. Froch lands a looping right hand on the side of Taylor's head. JT loads up and misses with a big uppercut. Froch has been open for that when he lunges in. JT misses with a right and eats an uppercut and holds on. Froch is having things mostly his way here, and then suddenly JT opens up with some combos and catches Froch clean. Froch digs back though. Exciting action here. Froch lands a hard right hand. Froch with an uppercut. Still a minute left in the round. Froch eats a hard right, but fires right back. They are trading power shots. Taylor with a right hand over the top. Exciting stuff here. Froch forces Taylor into the corner.

Hell of a round. Great stuff!

10:31... Press row has it a draw right now. 1-1-1. Bernstein has Taylor up by 2.

10:34... Froch coming forward. JT looking to counter, and he does with a huge right hand that sends sweat flying. Froch roars back though. This is really exciting stuff. Froch has opened up, and JT has hung in there and met him head on. 2:00 minutes left. Froch with a jab and a huge right hand! Taylor is in trouble. Froch chases him! Taylor backs off and holds on. 1:30 left. Taylor was badly hurt and is still in trouble. Froch comes forward trying to finish. Does Froch have enough left. He's pouring it on. JT backs into the corner and he's in big trouble. He's wobbling backwards and eats another big shot, but he somehow throws back! Wow. Froch pours it on and JT is down. 30 seconds left. He's up at 8. He's a little unsteady. He's allowed to continued. He's in bad shape. Froch trying to finish. JT's done. It's over! Wow! One of the greatest finishes you'll ever see. What a fight!

10:35... JT is getting checked out by the doctor. He took some big punishment there, and really dug deep to stay on his feet as long as he could. Really ballsy effort.

10:36... Taylor is on his feet (he was on his feet at the time of the stoppage, but was sitting down while being examimed). He's okay. Absolutely stunning. Showtime are showing the replay, and the camera's on Taylor sitting on the floor in the corner with 25 seconds left. There's no way it looks like he can get up. But he does, and he desperately tries to fight on.

10:37... I need to catch my breath.

10:38... According to Gus Johnson, if Taylor would have managed to finish the fight, he would have won on the cards. The time of the stoppage was 2:46.

10:40... Froch is talking with Jim Gray. "I needed a big round and I got it."

10:42... Froch says he'll definitely give Taylor a rematch. Taylor wants it. No surprise there. I think we'd all love to see it.

10:45... Jim Gray is asking referee Michael Ortega why he didn't let the fight go. Given the state Taylor was in, this seems like a bizarre question. There was still 15 seconds left, and Taylor's hands had dropped. He was clearly done. I don't think it's even debatable. To his credit, Taylor had no issues with Ortega's decision.

10:47... The judges cards at the time of the stoppage where 106-102 twice for Taylor and 106-102 for Froch on the other card.

Off to HBO!

10:49... Just in time to hear Harold Lederman going over the rules. Lopez has a 3 pound advantage, as he'd hydrated back up to 131 while Penalosa is at 128.

10:54... The fighters are in the ring, and Michael Buffer is doing the intros.

10:57... Final instructions have been given, and we're seconds away from getting underway.

11:01... Lopez is edging forward a little, while Penalosa appears very composed as he looks to counter. Penalosa manages to tie Lopez up and the youngster whacks him in the body for his troubles. Lopez is warned for a left hand that landed on the hip. Penalosa is managing to slip most of Lopez' stuff upstairs, but he's digging the occasional nice shot downstairs.

Interesting opening round. Penalosa stood his ground over the final 20 seconds and didn't take the worst of it.

11:05... We're into round 2. Something new for JuanMa given his recent history. Lopez coming forward, firing heavy looking combos. He's also following up by digging downstairs, while Penalosa attempts to duck and dodge before firing back. Every once in awhile, Penalosa comes back with a flurry, but he's mostly on the defensive. Lopez just looks like the stronger man whenever they exchange, and he's really letting his hands go nicely. I might be wrong, but I think some of those shots downstairs will have Penalosa in a bad way before long.

11:06... Harold has it 2-0 for Lopez.

11:09... Lopez comes right out putting the pressure on. Firing the jab, following it up with hooks, up and down. Penalosa digs downstairs with his own body shot, and jumps in with a combo. He's countering nicely in spots, but he's getting banged around a bit in the process. JuanMa just keeps pushing forward. Gerry's now standing his ground more, and he's bouncing a little, but Lopez comes firing back and pushes him back. He's throwing some really nice little shots inside. Penalosa trying to rip back now, as they slug it out at the end of the 3rd.

11:10... HBO shows a graphic indicating the body work Lopez has been hammering Penalosa with. Harold has it 3-0.

11:11... Harold comments that Penalosa is fighting the wrong fight when he bangs in the middle of the ring. Not sure what options he has. He's going to get run over if he just backs up. He needs to do something to keep JuanMa honest.

11:13... Lopez now forcing Penalosa from one side of the ring to the other, as the older man is again in retreat. Kellerman comments on JuanMa's accuracy and patience. He's banging Penalosa along the ropes here. Gerry tries to counter back.

11:14... Lopez is averaging 101 punches thrown per round. Many of them of the hurtful variety.

11:17... Gerry's doing his best here to keep Lopez at bay. He's got his guard up, elbows tucked, moving his head, sticking the jab and countering when he can. But he doesn't have the firepower and Lopez just keep pushing forward, digging in with a variety of hard shots thrown in combination. They exchange right hands, and Lopez lands with more authority and he pushes Penalosa back into the ropes. Penalosa fires back, and JuanMa comes back and keeps firing. High quality stuff.

11:18... Harold has it 5-0.

11:21... Lopez comes right out, moving forward, letting his hands go. Penalosa moving from side to side, trying to keep Lopez at bay, but the pressure is relentless. It's a controlled pressure. Steady, with lots of body work mixed in. Lopez just digging hard shots in here. Penalosa trying to fire back, but he's getting the worst of it. He's looking like he's in a bit of trouble. Lopez presses forward. Hooks to the body. Heavy shots upstairs. Penalosa is on the ropes here. He tries to fire back, but Lopez with his head down, just keeping banging away. Not sure how much longer Penalosa can take this. Lopez again bangs hard to the body, and Penalosa backs into the ropes. Gerry gets away from the ropes, but Lopez follows him and keeps up the pressure.

Roach tells Penalosa in the corner he's getting hit too much. You've got to feel that another round like that and Freddie might call this off.

11:25... Every once in awhile, Penalosa lands a nice clean counter, but it's not making a dent on Lopez, who keeps pushing forward. Lopez chases Penalosa into the corner and continues his assault. Gerry slips out of there, but JuanMa's on him right away. Penalosa fires off a nice combo, but JuanMa forces him backwards again. There's really nothing Penalosa can do. He's showing guts, but I can't see this lasting too much longer. Lopez is just landing some heavy shots, but Penalosa fires back. "The fact that Penalosa is having his moments here is unfathomable," says Kellerman.

11:26... Lopez asked his corner if he was winning after that round. That's a real testament to the gutsy display Penalosa's giving here.

11:29... Lopez continues to press. Hooks to the body, and some uppercuts. Penalosa has his back to the ropes. Lopez is drilling him with some hard shots, but Penalosa rips a counter right. He's having success with those. Gerry's now managing to keep the action in the center of the ring for a bit, only to get forced back again. Lopez is digging with some uppercuts, while Gerry flurries back. Good action here.

"Gerry Penalosa is not human, I can't believe what I'm seeing." - Kellerman

11:29... Roach is thinking about stopping this. He's going to give Gerry one more round.

11:30... Harold has it 8-0.

11:33... Lopez comes out banging some more power shots in while pressing forward. Gerry gets backed into the corner, but slips away. Lopez never lets up though. It's just constant pressure. He pushes Gerry into the ropes again. Bob Papa comments that Lopez has lost a little of his technique. The action is a little bit slower here, but JuanMa then turns it up with about 20 seconds to go, and they exchange bombs. Penalosa got his own in there. Interesting decision Roach will have here, because Gerry had one of his better rounds.

That's it. Roach has called an end to it.

11:35... Good move from Roach. Really gutsy effort from Gerry Penalosa, but he wasn't going to win and he was taking too much punishment.

11:38... Max Kellerman asks Lopez why he asked his corner after the 6th if he was winning. Through the translator..."Because every time I fight, I always ask for guidance from the corner." Kellerman presses to ask if Lopez felt Penalosa's power? "Definitely, his right hook is his most powerful punch and several times he did get me."

11:39... Lopez mentions Marquez and Vasquez as opponents he'd like to face, although he admits he won't stay at 122 much longer.

11:41... Bob Papa says that Gerry Penalosa received a huge ovation from the crowd for his efforts.

11:42... Alright, that's it for tonight. Hope you enjoyed the debut of The Boxing Bulletin's live blog coverage. We'll be back next week for Pacquaio/Hatton.

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Antonio Escalante = Can't-Miss TV

Michael Nelson gives his thoughts on last night's FNF show.

KO artist Antonio Escalante is quickly becoming can't-miss TV.

His violent clash with Jose Andres Hernandez in January 2006 was one of the best fights of the last decade. His TKO loss to Mauricio Pastrana in 2007, in which he punched himself out trying to finish Pastrana in the early rounds and got knocked cold late by a vicious right hand, was also a memorable fight. In 2008, he finished David Martinez and once promising prospect Mike Oliver within the third round in consecutive bouts.

He continued his third round knockout streak Friday night against Gary Stark Jr., a brash 29 year old from New York.

Perhaps a little too brash. Stark Jr. can be seen here on Youtube saying "I haven't seen his tapes, I don't know his name, I don't give a shit" in response to a question about who he was going to be fighting. You can be sure he knows his name now, as he got real familiar with the power of Escalante's left hook.

If Antonio keeps starching guys early, the rest of the boxing world will soon know his name as well.

On the undercard, American heavyweight Deontay Wilder, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, knocked out Joseph Rabotte in the first round. Rabotte had already been KO'd five times out of his eight fights, so we learned next to nothing about the potential Wilder may have on the professional level. He's tall and he has a quick right hand though, so I'm interested in what he'd do against a live body.

154 pounder Daniel Jacobs followed Wilder's knockout with a KO of his own against Jose Varela. It was in Jacobs' best interest to finish things early as he was penciled in to replace James Kirkland on the undercard of Pacquiao-Hatton next weekend if he looked impressive. He did just that, placing a laser right hand to the tip of Varela's jaw in the 2nd round, separating him from his senses.

Now 15-0 with 14 knockouts, Jacobs is a prospect to watch.

Speaking of padded records, Koji Sato is 14-0 with 13 knockouts, but I don't give him much of a chance against Felix Sturm today in Germany. He's slow and doesn't have much in the way of defense. While it's possible he can catch Sturm with something big, I wouldn't bet money on it. Sturm has improved quite a bit since his 2007 draw with Randy Griffin.

e-mail Michael Nelson
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Friday, April 24, 2009

Juan Manuel Lopez vs Gerry Penalosa Predictions

TKO1, KO1, TKO1, TKO3, TKO2. The destructive path of the explosive Juan Manuel Lopez looks to add another victim tomorrow night, but Gerry Penalosa promises not to go down easy. In a pro-career dating back to 1989, the crafty Filipino has yet to be stopped. No doubt he'll give the youngster some quality rounds, but can the 36 year old veteran win?

The Boxing Bulletin writers give their thoughts on how this compelling battle of southpaws will play out.

Penalosa is getting up there in age and weight. I think the veteran will teach JuanMa a thing or two in there and win a few rounds. But the younger and bigger man takes a clear decision, 8-4 or 9-3.- Mark Lyons

Penalosa against Juan Manuel Lopez is another difficult fight to call. Because of the short nature of Lopez' fights, we don't know much about how he'll handle a guy who can neutralize his right hook. He may become lost if his hook is taken away, or he may expose wrinkles in his game we haven't seen yet.

Although a Lopez knockout wouldn't shock me, I think Penalosa sees 12. Lopez is a bit unseasoned for my tastes to see him outboxing a vet like Gerry, and too economical to outwork him. Since the fight's in Puerto Rico, I'm not sure if Penalosa gets a close decision, but I see him winning in the eyes of most observers. - Michael Nelson

Lopez-Penalosa is an interesting fight. I agree with Mark that Penalosa will teach Lopez a thing or two in this fight but I can't see Penalosa lasting the full twelve rounds against a quick young fighter with a huge punch. I see Lopez stopping him in the 5th or 6th round after a fairly even fight up until that point. - Dave Oakes

Penalosa is good enough to answer some of the questions surrounding the young sensation from Puerto Rico, but I expect Lopez to win a wide decision. If he shines, I'll be impressed. - Lee Payton

I'm going with youth and power here. While Lopez hasn't really been tested by a boxer of Penalosa's caliber, I think he's talented enough to win this impressively. He moves well, keeps his hands up and puts his punches together nicely - all things that make countering his aggressiveness easier said than done. - Andrew Fruman

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Carl Froch vs Jermain Taylor Predictions

Can Little Rock's Jermain Taylor take another step towards restoring his once lofty status in the boxing world, or will Britain's Carl Froch prove to be too strong for the former middleweight champ?

The Boxing Bulletin writers weigh-in with their picks for tomorrow night's super-middleweight clash.

I think Froch/Taylor is a potential FOTY. I like Froch's activity and toughness while Taylor probably has the edge in speed. As much as I hate to predict a dubious decision, that's what I see coming. The fight will have high action and both will have many moments, but I think Taylor gets a SD in a fight that most thought Froch won. - Mark Lyons

Froch-Taylor is a tough fight to call. Taylor will probably land more jabs, but Froch should be able to hold his own in a jabbing contest, as he controlled Jean Pascal with his upjab for long stretches of their fight. Otherwise, Froch has the edge in power and I think will land the more significant blows.

In the end, Taylor's stamina issues might be too much to overcome in a tough fight and I'm not sure he can handle heat from a hard hitting super middleweight. I see Froch taking him out in the final three rounds. - Michael Nelson

I've never rated Taylor and don't believe he's got anything to worry Froch. Taylor can jab and throw a straight right well but he hasn't got the best of chins, isn't a big puncher and hasn't got a fighters mentality. Froch is the hungrier fighter, one who's willing to walk through fire to land his own punches. I can see Froch starting cautiously before picking up the pace and stopping Taylor around the 8th round. - Dave Oakes

I see Froch making an impressive big time debut in the US with a knockout of Taylor, who doesn't have the defense or chin to deal with the incoming. And when it comes down to it, I think the man from Nottingham is just more of a natural fighter. Froch KO6. - Lee Payton

As Lee mentioned, Froch is more of a natural fighter, and I feel the pace and intensity of the bout will bring that edge out. While the style match-up isn't similar to the Bradley/Holt scrap from earlier this month, I think in much the same way Holt came undone in the face of Bradley's tenacity, the same thing will happen here. - Andrew Fruman

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

British Scene Weekend Preview

While the big story in British boxing this weekend is the showdown between Carl Froch and Jermain Taylor, there are also two local televised shows happening in the UK this weekend.

Dave Oakes previews Sky's Friday night show, featuring Don Broadhurst's defense of his Commonwealth super-flyweight title against Ghana's Asamoah Wilson. The following night, Setanta features the British featherweight title clash between champion Paul Appleby and challenger, Martin Lindsay. Matt Chudley has the preview for that one.

Friday April 24

Don Broadhurst vs Asamoah Wilson (Sky)

By Dave Oakes

Don Broadhurst makes the second defence of his Commonwealth super-flyweight title on Friday night at the Civic Centre, Wolverhampton, England.

His opponent, Asamoah Wilson, has got this title chance after a not so impressive start to his career - he’s lost all three of his fights, one by knockout. I've no idea how a boxer with such a paltry record can get a title shot, but when you consider that Broadhurst won the title against a fighter with an official record of only 1-1-1 and made his first defence against a fighter with a verified ledger of only 2-0, it doesn't really come as a surprise.

I should point out that Wilson claims his record is 12-3-2, but there’s little solid evidence to back his claim up. Wilson is a complete unknown to everyone outside of his hometown and I've got a feeling that not many people in Accra know who he is either.

Hopefully, he'll be able to take the talented Broadhurst a few rounds and make the young Brit work hard for a victory. Broadhurst is a fast stylist with the ability to win a world title but he needs a lot of learning fights to progress to that level. I just hope he steps up the level of competition after this fight.

Darren McDermott takes a warm up fight against journeyman Jamie Ambler on the undercard as he prepares for his much anticipated fight with Darren Barker. Hot prospect Jamie Cox continues his career with a good little test against Mark Lloyd.

e-mail Dave Oakes

Saturday April 25

Paul Appleby vs Martin Lindsay (Setanta)

By Matt Chudley

In an exciting clash of rising prospects Paul Appleby defends his British Featherweight title against fellow unbeaten Martin Lindsay on Setanta Sports this Saturday. The 14-0 Appleby will travel to the Ulster Hall in Linday's hometown of Belfast after Hayemaker promotions ponied up a sizeable offer to entice the young Tommy Gilmour fighter across the Irish sea. Lindsay, who had previously moved over to Canada to try and furthur his career was pursued aggressively by Adam Booth and Dave Coldwell and became an early addition to the Hayemaker stable.

Although he may be the younger man by five years Appleby has the greater experience in the professional ring having faced the now Commonwealth Champion and scourge of several prospects, John Simpson in addition to former world title challenger Esham Pickering. Appleby has also recieved a high level of competition in the gym, sparring with fellow Edinburgh native and former WBO super-featherweight champ Alex Arthur from the age of 16 and locking horns with current 122lb king Israel Vasquez on a trip to the gyms of southern california.

Lindsay's career best win to date came against the now free falling Derry Mathews in a British title eliminator. Arguably needing a knock out, Lindsay ended the lanky scouser's night with a picture perfect left hook in the 9th round.

Appleby's size, power and higher level of competition make him the favourite in this one but accomplished amateur and skillful counter-puncher Lindsay is more than capable of punishing any reckless assaults from the younger man.

The undercard features blue-chip Hayemaker prospects George Groves and Michael Maguire as well as stay busy fights for British light-middle champ Ryan Rhodes and former premiership footballer Curtis Woodhouse.

Viewed by many as the best prospect in the UK, George Groves returns to action after a one round stoppage of the 19-5-2 Paul Samuels in only his 3rd pro fight. Having got the better of James DeGale in their amatuer head to head the West London fighter felt unlucky not to be at the 2008 Olympics but appears much more suited to the pro game than Gold Medalist DeGale, with his aggresive sharp punching style.

e-mail Matt Chudley
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jermain Taylor Still Searching For Respect

Boxing fans are a hard to please bunch. Former middleweight champion Jermain Taylor can certainly attest to that. Michael Nelson takes a look at the 168 pound contender's ongoing struggle for respect.

Photo © Marty Rosengarten /

On the night of May 19th, 2007, Jermain Taylor's body of work was mostly buried in sand. The boxing gods were restless and passerbys were tossing stones at his head.

He had just been handed a lackluster and disputed decision over Cory Spinks. It was his third fight after a pair of disputed victories over Bernard Hopkins and his second after a disputed draw with Winky Wright. He was the most disputed undisputed champion in recent memory. Adding insult to injury, The Ring dropped him from their pound-for-pound ratings, which was rarely done to a fighter who had continued to 'win'.

Even more grating was the trend that jumped out at anyone who took a cursory look over his overall resume. Already with an astounding lack of natural middleweights and anyone who can punch, Jermain pushed boxing fans to their limit by fighting a trio of boxers - Winky Wright, Kassim Ouma, and Cory Spinks - who were notorious for their lack of knockout power.

But after Kelly Pavlik stopped Edison Miranda - Taylor's designated boogie man by boxing scribes and bloggers - on the same card of Taylor's disappointing performance against Spinks, Jermain finally stepped up to the plate and agreed to a fight a man as big as him with a decisive edge in power. The two fighters would square off on September 29, 2007.

Taylor gave a gutsy effort on his way to being brutally stopped in the 7th round. He didn't show much improvement from previous fights, though, constantly finding himself on the ropes or in the corner because he lacked the footwork to spin or side-step an aggressive opponent.

After the loss, many, including me, thought he would bypass the rematch clause and resume his tour of Down Comforter fisted opposition for at least another year or two.

What happened next was pretty impressive.

Not only did he take the rematch, but he dropped well-respected trainer Emmanuel Steward to replace him with Ozell Nelson, the man who developed Taylor into a world-class fighter during Taylor's amateur days. Then, in the rematch, he showed the type of improvement rarely seen from a pugilist who had been fighting since the age of 13. His footwork and defense were leaps and bounds better than what he showed in the first fight, as he managed to stay off the ropes and avoid getting hit by most of the powerful blows Pavlik threw at him. Mainly because he couldn't avoid Kelly's rangy jab, he lost a close decision, but gained back much of the respect that had been adrift for years.

In his comeback fight last November, he nearly whitewashed Jeff Lacy. To be sure, Lacy is clearly on the downside of his career. But at least Jeff still has a few rocks in his gloves, which is more than can be said about the vast majority of Taylor's opponents pre-Pavlik.

With his upcoming fight against Carl Froch, who is 24-0 with 19 knockouts, the image of Taylor targeting fighters that don't present a legitimate KO threat is quickly fading. His previous three bouts, along with his willingness to face a relatively unknown and dangerous boxer from across the sea, shows that he's serious about his career. A distinction that was in question two years ago.

He has dug himself out of the sand. His road towards the ascent back into pound-for-pound lists, and tasting the nectar of universal approval, begins Saturday night.

e-mail Michael Nelson
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Juan Manuel Lopez vs Gerry Penalosa Preview

Michael Nelson previews this Saturday's intriguing HBO Boxing After Dark main-event between Juan Manuel Lopez and Gerry Penalosa.

Photo © Marty Rosengarten /

Puerto Rican heritage isn't the only thing Felix Trinidad and Juan Manuel Lopez have in common.

Trinidad's left hook terrorized the Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight divisions during his reign. Thrown with the power to discombobulate his opponent at any moment during a fight, it was perhaps the most feared punch in boxing.Southpaw JuanMa Lopez' right hook is quickly gaining a similar reputation. He has finished his last three opponents with it inside the first round, including Ponce De Leon, a man notoriously hard to hurt.

But like Trinidad, while Lopez has a great deal of talent, he has apparent vulnerabilities that are covered up by the deadly efficiency of his money punch. He head hunts a bit too much. He doesn't have much of an uppercut. And his left hand is more often than not simply used as a diversion to set up his right hook. Sum it up and it'll be very interesting to see how he deals with an elite defensive fighter.

Enter Gerry Penalosa.

Never stopped in 62 fights, Penalosa's six losses have all been close or controversial. Recently, the 36 year old took Ponce De Leon to school for long stretches of their bout, only to be rewarded with miserable scorecards that suggested he got dominated.

No matter. He bounced back with a surprising come-from-behind knockout victory over the talented and rangy Jhonny Gonzales. Far from a fluke shot, he slipped Gonzales' long right hand and expertly placed a left on Jhonny's liver before he could regain position. Gonzales took a step back and dropped to a knee, paralyzed with pain. KO 7.

The main ingredient behind Penalosa's success is his defensive acumen; he deflects or slips the vast majority of punches thrown in his direction, particularly at his head. Always calm and never changing expression, Gerry's style is like Winky Wright's without the monstrous forearms - making him susceptible to being outworked as well as providing openings for a dedicated body attack.

Lopez, also a calm operator who's fairly economical with his punch output, will have to deviate from his usual game plan if he wants to outwork Penalosa or consistently rake his body. Otherwise, it could be a long night for the 25 year old Phenom.

It should be noted that Gerry has shown vulnerabilities against fellow southpaws in his younger days, as he has been hurt or dropped by the right hook in previous fights. Gerry got staggered by a Hiroshi Kawashima hook in his 1997 WBC Super Featherweight title winning effort, and suffered a first round knock down as a result of getting nailed with a right hook from Young-Joo Cho a few fights later. Although those bouts took place more than a decade ago when Penalosa was far less seasoned, he can ill afford to make similar mistakes against JuanMa Lopez. Look for him to circle away from Lopez' right hand for the majority of the night.

Lopez can firmly entrench himself as one of the top 3 young talents in the sport with a spectacular victory over a well respected boxer like Penalosa. Likewise, Penalosa can make an intriguing argument for Canastota recognition if he overcomes Lopez' size and youth to stymie the meteoric rise of a potential pound-for-pound player. There's a uniquely wide range of possibilities - neither a quick Lopez knockout or a comfortable Penalosa decision would shock me.

The only thing clear about this fight is that it's a must-see. If you're watching the competing Showtime card, make sure to set your DVR or VCR. You don't want to miss this one.

e-mail Michael Nelson
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Carl Froch: Taylor Made for TV?

Strangely enough, the much anticipated super-middleweight bout between Carl Froch and Jermain Taylor will only be available to British boxing fans via online pay-per-view.

Dave Crellin gives his take on Carl Froch and examines just why the entertaining Nottingham fighter is being slighted by UK television broadcasters.

Photos © Justin McKie

At the World Amateur Boxing Championships of 2001, David Haye and Carl Froch won England’s first ever medals, both silver. They both turned pro shortly afterwards and have gone on to world championship professional careers using a hands-down, strong-punching style. But the impression they’re making on the British public is markedly different.

Haye was operating in a relatively unknown division before moving to heavyweight, globally notoriously understaffed with quality performers and domestically dominated by the mediocre merry-go-round of Williams, Harrison, Skelton and Sprott with a few others thrown in for good measure. It’s not that exciting. On top of which, Haye has based himself in Cyprus for a while now, hardly the Ricky Hatton way of maximising your home fan base.

But Haye’s talent for self-promotion sees his upcoming fight with Wladimir Klitschko as being the most talked-about in the country while Froch’s defence of his WBC super middleweight belt against Jermain Taylor isn’t even being carried on any British television channel. Why? Well, Haye’s looks certainly help – he wears the playboy image well while Froch, athlete though he is, is no oil painting, sporting a nose which is, for a man who’s been getting into boxing rings for two decades, frankly astounding. But if the British boxing public were so aesthetically demanding it’s hard to understand how Hatton can draw 30,000 Mancunians to Las Vegas.

Style-wise, it’s hard to think of a dull Froch bout. He’s won all of 24, the majority by knockout and even when the judges are called into use it’s no indication of a lull in the action – in decisioning Jean Pascal last time out the two produced a late candidate for 2008’s fight of the year. Amazingly, Setanta, Sky and ITV all decided not to bid for the fight. Instead it will be streamed over the web on a dedicated site: some consolation for Froch’s British fans but hardly the way to maximise the fan base of a man who, although still fresh, is now on the old side of 30.

This is the nub of the Froch enigma. He’s certainly no shrinking violet. He’s been brashly confident in his own abilities since his amateur days and he’s happy to let anybody know it. He’s been calling out Joe Calzaghe for years and in spite of the Welshman’s now-legendary status in Britain it would be a hell of a contest. But that fight has never materialised and while Haye has managed to taunt and tempt Klitschko into the ring (in the absence of the next aging or overweight B-grade challenger) Froch hasn’t been able to secure the fight that would cement him in the identity of the British public. Instead he has boisterous home-town support in Nottingham and the appreciation of the cognoscenti. Beyond that, vague name recognition is as far as it goes.

Maybe it’s an indictment of the value of a world amateur medal. If we compare recent British boxing medallists, Frankie Gavin’s world gold is secondary in the mind of the ticket buyer to his dashed hype at the Olympics, when he failed to make weight. Amir Khan’s medal at the 2004 Olympics was the same colour as Froch’s at the worlds, but Khan quickly attracted serious endorsement and is being built into a pay-per-view star. Froch is in the same league of talent as these two and has the bonus of a world championship belt in a famously Brit-friendly division.

So maybe he just never had the kick-start to his career that he needed. Which makes it all the more annoying that, by turning out impressive performance after impressive performance, he is consistently putting on shows which would be perfect introductions to one of the more exciting fighters operating at world championship level. Maybe, with the BBC being stung from paying over the odds for Audley Harrison and ITV having invested in Amir Khan to make him into a PPV name for SKY, the domestic channels are wary of the sport and of a guy who, in spite of an apparently sturdy set of whiskers, does leave himself bum-tighteningly open. Frank Warren is firmly ensconced with SKY which leaves Setanta. And if they don’t want it…

All this means Froch is mooting a move to the US should his defence against Taylor be successful. It would be a shame for the Brits but a boon for the US fight scene – Froch is a genuinely exciting fighter with power which, at 168 pounds, is a rare commodity. The combination of strength and work rate should make him the favourite to beat Taylor and move on to the likes of Bute and Kessler, appetising match-ups in different ways. Either way, his abilities are beyond question. Just ask him.

By Dave Crellin
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Monday, April 20, 2009

British Scene Weekend Recap

Dave Oakes recaps all the action from this weekend's British super-bantamweight title bout between Jason Booth and Mark Moran.

Friday April 17

Booth Too Smooth For Moran

By Dave Oakes

Jason Booth became the new British super-bantamweight champion on Friday night after defeating Mark Moran at the Indoor Sports Centre, Leigh, England.

Booth took his time in the first couple of rounds, being content to pick his punches and move out of range before Moran had the chance to land anything of note. Moran was struggling to catch Booth clean and was wasting a lot of energy punching arms and missing wildly.

Booth picked the pace up in the third and was starting to catch Moran with some hurtful looking hooks to body and head. Moran tried in vain to land something meaningful to help him get a foothold in the fight but failed to do so and was looking seriously out of his depth at championship level.

The fourth and fifth were big rounds for Booth as he continued to up the pace against a tiring Moran. Moran’s stamina and strength were thought to be his main advantages over Booth coming into this fight but these two rounds showed that wasn’t the case as he struggled to keep pace with the man four years his senior. He was continually getting backed up and was being caught with quick punches whenever he came forward.

The end came in the sixth after an accidental head clash opened up a huge cut above Moran’s left eye. Booth had started the round quick and was teeing off on Moran when the end came. Moran complained bitterly, but in truth, it saved him from taking further punishment with a stoppage for Booth looking like a serious possibility.

Booth seems to be enjoying an Indian summer to his career after going through a difficult spell a couple of years back due to alcohol addiction. He’ll now be looking to finally win the European title that has evaded him three times so far in his career. He has options from flyweight to super-bantamweight and will be looking at fights against the likes of Malik Bouziane and Lee Haskins.

e-mail Dave Oakes
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Photo Gallery: John O'Donnell vs Craig Watson; Lenny Daws vs Pete McDonagh

There were two titles at stake on Saturday April 11, at the York Hall in Bethnal Green.

In the main-event, Craig Watson put his Commonwealth welterweight crown on the line against challenger John O'Donnell in a battle of southpaws, while Lenny Daws and Pete McDonagh contested the vacant English light-welterweight title on the undercard.

Photographer Justin McKie was ringside to capture all the action from both exciting bouts.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

Craig Watson vs John O'Donnell

The challenger, John O'Donnell makes his way to the ring. O'Donnell, fighting with plenty of hometown support enters the contest on a 5 fight winning streak and an overall record of 20 wins against only 1 defeat.

The Commonwealth welterweight champion Craig Watson, enters the ring ready to make the second defense of the title he won from Ali Nuumbembe in December of 2007. The crafty Manchester fighter comes in with a record of 12 wins and only 2 defeats.

The champion started well, and had the edge in the early rounds.

O'Donnell came on strong during the mid-rounds. Here he catches Watson with a right hook.

One of the many good exchanges during the grueling bout. O'Donnell fires a hook to the midsection, as Watson follows through with a left.

Desperate to hang onto his crown, the tired champion digs deep and finds a home for his left hand. With the battle winding down, it's anyone's fight.

The last few rounds were very tightly contested. Needing to win the final frame, and spurred on by the hometown crowd, the challenger lands a sharp uppercut.

Referee Victor Loughlin raises the hand of the winner, as an elated Mick Hennessy looks on. The disappointment on the Watson side is clear. The scores were extremely close. Judge John Keane had Watson in front 116-113, while Judges James Davies and Dave Parris both had it 115-114 for O'Donnell.

The new champion shows off his belt, before celebrating with his fans.

Lenny Daws vs Pete McDonagh

Pete McDonagh gets warmed up on the pads. The Bermondsey fighter has been on a good run lately, with 6 wins in his last 8 fights. In his most recent bout, he earned a decision over the previously unbeaten Lee Purdy.

Lightening Lenny Daws, a regular at York Hall comes into the bout with only 1 defeat in 20 professional contests. The Morden fighter, who once held the British 140 pound crown, drew with Nigel Wright in his previous attempt to win the English title.

McDonagh started the bout very well and took the first couple of rounds. Here he catches Daws with a hard right hand.

The action was intense, as both fighters were more than willing to come forward and mix it up.

After getting off to a slow start, Daws found his footing and turned up the intensity. Here he pounds home a right hand between McDonagh's guard.

As the bout wore on, Daws proved a little bit too strong for McDonagh, but the action was competitive all the way through.

It's over. After 10 tough action packed rounds, Daws has his hand raised by referee John Keane. Keane's score was 97-94.

The new champion proudly shows off the hard earned prize.

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