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Boxing Insider Notebook: Bunch, Cohen, Castandeda, Barrera, and more…

Compiled By: William Holmes

The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of December 24th to December 31st; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.

Kendo “Tremendo” Castaneda Preparing for Graduation to Contender Status

Texas super lightweight Kendo “Tremendo” Castaneda (17-0, 8 KOs) will risk his perfect pro record against Yomar “The Magic” Alamo (17-0-1, 12 KOs) in a rare showdown between undefeated prospects on February 28, live on Boxeo Telemundo, starting at 11:30 p.m. ET / 8:30 p.m. PT, from Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida. 

The 26-year-old Castaneda will challenge Alamo, the reigning North American Boxing Organization (NABO) super lightweight champion, in the 10-round main event. 

Alamo vs. Castaneda is co-promoted by All-Star Boxing, which promotes Alamo and the event, and Castaneda’s promoter, Roy Jones Jr. (RJJ) Boxing Promotions. 

“This fight is a testimony of what can happen when two companies work together to make the best fights possible.” Veltre said. “Yomarversus Kendo is a great match-up and exactly what the sport of boxing needs.”

The irony of Alamo vs. Castaneda is that a fighter from the city of San Antonio, home of the historically famous Alamo, will be fighting an opponent named Alamo.

“When I first saw his name,” the outspoken Castaneda said, “I thought to myself that he was in for what The Alamo is really all about, only a one-on-one war, and The Alamo is coming to him. I’m going to take it slow and let the good times roll.

“He’s undefeated, the same as me. He has a higher knockout ratio than me, but he hasn’t fought the caliber opponents than I have. I’ve been in tough. I was thrown into the fire from the start. I took over my state and now I’m in the stable of a big name, Roy Jones Jr.  I’m the only ‘Tremendo’, though.”

Alamo, fighting out of Puerto Rico, is the former World Boxing Council (WBC) Youth World and FECARBOX super lightweight champion, who has made three successful NABO title defenses. The 24-year-old knockout artist will be headlining his fourth straight fight at Osceola Heritage Park.

“Alamo is a boxer-puncher who likes to stick and move,” Castaneda added. ”But he’s on his back foot too much, fighting in reverse, and he’s never fought anybody applying pressure like me. This is going to be a win for me. He’s going to try and out-box me, but I can box and punch the whole fight. This guy fights backwards. It’s going to be the same result as my fight with ‘Stan The Man’ (Martyniouk).”

Castaneda captured the vacant North American Boxing Association (NABA) crown a year ago, taking a 10-round decision from previously undefeated Gilbert Venegas, Jr. (10-0), and followed that with an impressive 10-round unanimous decision over Dominican veteran Eudy Berbardo (24-3).  

This past October in Reno, Nevada, Castaneda stopped Stan Martyniouk (20-3) in the sixth round, after which he was installed by the World Boxing Organization as its No. 15 rated super lightweight in the world.  

WBO No. 8 ranked Alamo is coming off the lone blemish on his pro record, a draw with Antonio Moran (24-4-1). 

Castaneda has always delivered, in an out of the thing. He’s a part-time employee of FedX, starting work at 3 a.m. as a pre-loader. “Santa was coming. It’s peak season and we’ve been getting slammed,” Castaneda reported. “I look at my job as an advantage. Other fighters may wake up at 4 in the morning to start training. My workout starts at work. I go from work to the gym to train, or sometimes I mix it up and go home to sleep, and then train at 5 (p.m.). 

Alamo vs. Castaneda has world title implications for the winner, possibly as early as late 2020, in addition to showcasing two fan-friendly fighters on television. 

“This is the biggest fight of my career,” Castaneda concluded. “It’s two undefeated fighters, champion versus champion, Puerto Rico versus Mexico, and airing on Telemundo is huge. I’m going to make my mark in this fight. I’m going to put on a show and knock this guy’s brains out.”

Sullivan Barrera is a Promotional Free Agent, Wants Marcus Browne Next

Sullivan Barrera is 100% healthy and ready to return to the ring.

The former Cuban amateur standout has fought through a torn labrum and rotator cuff the past few years but is now 100% healed after having surgery over the summer and is looking to make a final run in the light heavyweight division. 

“He had surgery to repair his rotator cuff and torn labrum in August.  He has been back in the gym working and is ready to go.  He is a promotional free agent so he can fight with anyone,” said his manager Luis Molina. “Marcus Browne is coming off of a loss and so is Sully. This next fight will be a make or break fight for Sully and Browne needs to get back in the mix too so I think it would be a perfect fight for both of them.”

Barrera has fought several of the top names at 175. Fighters such as Andre Ward, Dmitry Bivol, Joe Smith Jr. and Jesse Hart are all on his resume.  While he hasn’t won all of his big fights, he is a proven television friendly action fighter.

With his shoulder fully healed, Barrera believes that he will prove that he still has a lot left in the tank. A lot of critics have written him off and he is using that negativity to fuel his comeback.

“A lot of people say I am too old but I know what I can do. I wasn’t 100% the past few fights.  People haven’t seen the best Sully B in a long time.  I just need one more chance to step in the ring and prove it.  If I am so old and past it then I am sure Browne’s people will have no problem making the fight,” said Barrera.

Shinard Bunch: The Role Model in the Making that Trenton Needs

It was about 18 months ago when Shinard Bunch held his 17-year-old friend, a local camp counselor and youth mentor, Tashaughn“Yungsta” [sic] Robinson in his arms, encouraging him to breathe and stop talking, but Robinson died bleeding from a gunshot wound in Bunch’s front yard.  The drive-by shooting, never solved, was one of a handful of killings Bunch has witnessed over the years in Trenton, the murder capital of New Jersey. 

Bunch, a 20-year-old professional boxer, has become numb to the violence that plagues his city, where he has lived since he was 13.  He now focuses on becoming a world champion, a dream Bunch feels he’s not entitled to have, coming from Trenton.  

“I want to be great,” said Bunch, who fights January 11 at the Hard Rock Hotel Casino in Atlantic City.  “I can’t say my goal is to become a world champion, or anything really spectacular. Where we come from, we don’t make it that far.  You never heard about somebody from Trenton doing something like this.” 

Well, except maybe Ike Williams. 

A bridge in Trenton is emblazoned with the words “TRENTON MAKES THE WORLD TAKES.” This sentiment perfectly describes Williams’ career.  One of the greatest fighters of all-time, Williams was managed by the mob and hardly saw a penny for several defenses he made of his World Lightweight Championship in the 1940s.  Bunch is determined not to allow the world to take from him as it did from Williams. 

Bunch’s mother, Quwannia Bunch, believed her son would be a star even before he was born. Upon his birth in Queens, NY, Bunch was named Shinard Charles Showtime Bunch by his mom. 

“She always said she knew I was going to be a star,” said Bunch, whose birth certificate and calls to his mother would prove to new friends that he was being truthful about his name. 

Now he goes by “Scraap,” [sic] a nickname given to him by Corey, his stepfather.  Bunch’s father, also named Shinard, recently was released from prison, where he’d landed on attempted murder charges in New York.  Quwannia married Corey when Bunch was 2 years old.  

Corey treated Bunch’s siblings like his own children, and eventually gave Bunch another brother and sister.  

“My parents don’t play,” remembered Bunch.  Good grades and good behavior were expected from their son.

Bunch began boxing at the New York City PAL when he was only 5 years old. His mother had bought him a Muhammad Ali DVD, and the young boy was hooked.  He followed his cousin to the gym and never left.

Bunch’s mother has had a profound impact on his career.  She worked extremely hard to keep food on the table, first as a nurse and then as a security guard at a homeless shelter, sometimes going without food so her children could eat.   Bunch is reverent of the sacrifices she made so that he could eat, wear nice clothes, and fight. She was ringside for his first loss, 30 fights into his amateur career. Bunch didn’t take the loss well and considered quitting the sport. 

“She gave it to me that day,” Bunch said, laughing.  “I acted a fool. I wanted to quit. I told her I’m not boxing. She sat me down and said,  ‘At the end of the day this is what you chose to do so with that there’s always wins and losses in life, but you always gotta take a loss like you take a win.  It’s right back to the drawing board. You mad because you got your ass kicked once? You kicked thirty asses before that–are you serious?’ My family is honestly why I’m at where I’m at.  My mom always pushing me. My little brother Corey is my biggest fan.”

In 2016, Bunch was on the USA national team with Errol Spence and Shakur Stevenson.  He was ready to make the Olympic team, but had a lot on his mind. He was 17, and his girlfriend recently revealed she was pregnant.  His father had come back into his life and Bunch was talking to him regularly. His grandmother had just died and his mother was struggling.

Bunch decided to wait until the 2020 Olympics, but waiting became tiresome and he hit the pro circuit, debuting last April with a first-round knockout.  On hand for that fight would be his stepfather Corey, and his mother and father, who had reconciled and moved back to New York. 

Bunch stayed in Trenton, where he knew his success could make an impact. 

One of Bunch’s major gripes with Trenton is the lack of mentors and father figures in the community.  It’s something he says has kept him out of trouble, despite living within a razor’s edge of drug and gun violence.  

“Corey is my dad,” said Bunch.  “He’s my support system. He taught me everything I know–how to be a man, how to look at stuff, how to approach stuff, literally everything.  When he found out I was going to be a father, he was angry but sat me down for a very long talk. He said, ‘Listen, you sat there and did what you did and now you gotta man up to it. This is what you’re gonna do.’  He molded me to be great, and to always remember who I am. The only person that can be myself is me.” 

People who know that Corey isn’t Bunch’s biological father say Bunch resembles his stepfather in his mannerisms and character.  For Bunch, that’s a compliment.  

Bunch is working to be a role model to Trenton’s children:  “Trenton is small, only 7 miles from one end of town to another.  There are just not enough role models. I try to be a role model for the kids in and out of the gym. I go to schools and speak–anything I can do.”

He blames the rampant drug problems in the 1970s and ’80s for some of the city’s woes, and the lack of leaders in the community. “We’re ’90s kids,” he said. “Our generation is better, but there’s still problems.” 

A win on ESPN+ on January 11 would give him new opportunities to talk about with the youth in Trenton.  “Every fight is big, but this is just another level,” said Bunch.

“He was 2-0, and then we were offered the Paul Kroll fight last August,” said Bunch’s manager, J Russell Peltz. “Kroll was 4-0. You don’t usually have two undefeated prospects fighting each other that early in their careers.” Bunch lost, but gave Kroll, who is one of the hottest prospects in the country, a tough fight. “His promoter, NedalAbuhamoud and I realized we have a good prospect on our hands,” continued Peltz. “We wouldn’t have known that if he just knocked out another opponent. After that fight, I got excited.”

Bunch, his girlfriend and 2 children still live with Corey in Trenton. The fighter has no plans to leave Trenton as his career advances, and believes he can do good.  

“We need more leaders, and more role models in Trenton,” said Bunch.  “We need more Coreys and Yungstas.”  After Jan. 11, win or lose, Bunch will return to Trenton.  It’s a good thing, because Trenton needs more Shinard Bunches. 

Split-T Management Adds Brian Cohen to Company

Split-T Management is pleased to announce the addition of manager Brian Cohen to the top Management company.

Cohen of Philadelphia will bring his stable of fighters to Split-T Management and will work very closely with CEO Dave McWaterin the management and development of approximately 14 fighters.

Cohen manages current world champions Alicia Napoleon Espinosa and Mary McGee.

Cohen will join McWater along with Tim VanNewHouse and Joe Quiambao in the Split-T Management company.

The 43-year old Cohen has been around boxing his whole life as he received an early indoctrination into the sport from his father, Ivan Cohen, who managed former world junior middleweight champion Buster Drayton.  Cohen then embarked in a successful fighting career that saw him go 15-2 as a professional.  He then transitioned into managing professional fighters, where he became the preeminent female boxing manager in the world with his Empire Management stable.

“I’m trying to build an all-star team of boxing people at Split-T, and it seemed impossible to do that without adding Brian.Beyond being the foremost expert today on women’s boxing, he’s an accomplished fighter, a trainer, a cut man, you name it, and most importantly he’s a good person,” said McWater.

“This is a very unique situation for me.  Dave McWater is a very intelligent guy, and I  have known him a long time,” said Cohen.  “Dave is from New York, and I do a lot of business in New York, so we seem to run into each other everywhere.  Dave wants to get more into women’s boxing, and we started talking. Split-T Management has a lot of terrific fighters, and I feel I can be an asset because of my experience doing different things in the sport.  I can scout talent, work corners, train fighters in the gym, do strength and condition and help with nutrition.  I look forward working with Split-T Management.”

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