Boxing Insider Notebook: Jackie Kallen, Vergil Ortiz, Jimmy Thunder, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of February 11th to February 18th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Banner Promotions Releases Statement on Passing of Jimmy Thunder
Banner Promotions has issued the following statement on the passing of it’s former fighter, heavyweight Jimmy Thunder, who passed away on Wednesday due to complications of a brian tumor at age 54 in New Zealand.
“My heartfelt condolences go out to Jimmy’s family. I was saddened to hear that Jimmy passed away,” said Artie Pelullo, President of Banner Promotions. “He was a real good guy and true professional. It was my pleasure to be associated with Jimmy. He was a good fighter who gave the fans a lot of exciting fights when we promoted him, especially on the Tuesday Night Fights series on USA Network, where he had one of the fastest knockouts in boxing history when he knocked out Crawford Grimsley in 13 seconds. It’s always sad to see someone pass away at a young age.”
Included in Thunder’s record that read 35-14 with 28 knockouts were wins over three former heavyweight champions, Tony Tubbs, Trevor Berbick and Tim Witherspoon.
Vergil Ortiz to Headline Stacked Card Against Samuel Vargas
The most dominant rising force in the welterweight division returns to the ring as Vergil Ortiz Jr. (15-0, 15 KOs) defends his WBA Gold Welterweight Title against Samuel Vargas (31-5-2, 14 KOs) in a 12-round main event. Ortiz Jr. will headline a stacked card in his adoptive home of Southern California that will also feature Pablo Cesar “El Demoledor” Cano, Azat “Crazy A” Hovhannisyan, Rashidi “Speedy” Ellis, Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada and more! The event will take place Saturday, March 28 at the “Fabulous” Forum in Inglewood, Calif. and will be streamed live exclusively on DAZN.
Ticket information for the event will be announced shortly.
“When people think of the future of the welterweight division, one name stands out, and that’s Vergil Ortiz Jr.,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO at Golden Boy. “Simply put, this kid is special. His talent, speed and power set him apart from any other fighter who is moving up the 147-pound rankings. Don’t miss another spectacular knockout performance at the Forum or live on DAZN!”
Since debuting as a professional in 2016, Ortiz Jr. has knocked out every opponent in sight. The native of Grand Prairie, Texas, who has roots in Michoacan, Mexico, will participate in his first fight of the year after stopping Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera, Antonio “Relentless” Orozco and Brad “King” Solomon in a spectacular 2019. The 21-year-old knockout artist plans to do the same in 2020, but Vargas stands in his way.
“I’m excited to be returning against Samuel Vargas,” said Vergil Ortiz Jr. “He’s a tough fighter with a lot of experience, so I know that my talent and skills are going to be put to a tough test. I’m also happy to be fighting in Los Angeles at such a historic venue where many legends in the sport have fought. I love this city, and I love the people here, so I’m going to work very hard to perform to the best of my abilities on March 28.”
Vargas is recognized as one of the toughest challenges in any division. The 30-year-old native of Bogota, Colombia has faced a who’s who of welterweight boxers, including Amir “King” Khan, Luis Collazo, Danny “Swift” Garcia and Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. Vargas plans to engage Ortiz Jr. in a war, something he has yet to encounter.
“Throughout my career, I have always taken the challenges that other fighters in the division don’t want, and that’s exactly what I’m doing again,” said Samuel Vargas. “Vergil Ortiz Jr. is one of the brightest young stars in boxing, but he hasn’t had to go through a war yet. I’ve shown that I’m willing to go through hell in that ring, so if Ortiz is everything he’s hyped up to be, he better be on point March 28 because I know I will.”
In the co-main event, Pablo Cesar “El Demoledor” Cano (33-7-1, 23 KOs) will put his WBC International Silver Super Lightweight Title on the line against Michael “The Artist” Perez (25-3-2, 11 KOs) of Newark, N.J. in a 12-round fight.
Azat “Crazy A” Hovhannisyan (18-3, 15 KOs) will fight for the vacant WBA Interim Super Bantamweight Championship against Jose Sanmartin (30-5-1, 20 KOs) of Barranquilla, Colombia in 12-round clash.
Welterweight contender Rashidi “Speedy” Ellis (22-0, 14 KOs) of Lynn, Mass. will defend his WBA Continental Americas Welterweight Title against Sergio Ortega (21-2, 15 KOs) of Mexicali, Mexico in a 10-rounder.
Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada (18-0, 7 KOs) of East Los Angeles, Calif. will make the first defense of her WBA Interim Flyweight Title in a 10-round battle.
Christopher Pearson (17-2, 12 KOs) of Tortwood, Ohio will participate in a 10-round middleweight bout.
Raul “Cougar” Curiel (8-0, 6 KOs) of Tampico, Mexico will face Steve “Manos de Oro” Villalobos (8-0, 6 KOs) of Mount Vernon, Wash. in a 10-round welterweight clash between two young prospects.
Irish prospect Aaron “Silencer” McKenna (10-0, 6 KOs) will return in an eight-round super welterweight clash.
Chris “Milly” Ousley (12-0, 9 KOs) of Chicago will open the night in an eight-round middleweight battle against Jarvis Williams (8-2-1, 5 KOs) of St. Louis.
Star Boxing’s Catskills Clash III Set for April 17th at Resorts World Catskills
Star Boxing is pleased to announce its return of “Catskills Clash III” to the majestic Resorts World Catskills Casino Resort in Monticello, New York on April 17.
The Catskills have an undeniable claim to boxing greatness. Decades of fighters have called the Catskills their temporary home, to train for upcoming championship fights. The hollowed boxing grounds of Sullivan County have been sacred territory since the golden age of boxing, established by the likes of Marciano, Tyson and Ali. As of late, that reputation has carried over to the new, fully integrated casino as Star Boxing delivered two hugely success events there in 2019.
Star Boxing’s “Catskills Clash” series returns to the Resorts WorldRW Epicenter, continuing theits own legacy of boxing in the region. Fully prepared to pick up where it left off last September, “Catskills Clash” III is set to be an evening of thrilling, action packed fights. In Catskills Clash I & II, Star Boxing featured rising talent including five title fights, big time knockouts and immense boxing skill. On April 17, fans can expect another outstanding experience.
Star Boxing CEO JOE DEGUARDIA is excited to be back at Resorts World Catskills, “The Catskills and boxing go hand in hand, and we are proud to be a part of that continued legacy. The fights at Resorts World Catskills have been great and fans love that they can see the fights and afterwards walk out to NYC’s closest fully integrated casino. April 17 will yet again feature fan-pleasing fights on a thrilling show with top talent, rising stars, and title bouts.”
Kim Clavel vs. Esmeralda Moreno on March 21st in Montreal
Dooly’s Boxing Series, presented by Mise-O-Jeu, in association with Videotron, is back at the Cabaret du Casino de Montréal in 2020 with five entertaining events on March 21, May 2, June 6, October 24 and December 12.
North American Boxing Federation (NABF) light flyweight champion Kim Clavel (11-0, 2 KOs) will be the main star of this series, and on March 21 she will make her Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM) debut. Clavel will defend her title in the 10-round main event against her Mexican challenger, former world champion Esmeralda Moreno (35-12-2, 11 KOs).
Moreno is a two-time World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight World champion, reigning from 2012-2013 and again in 2017. She is 3-4-1 in world championship fights and currently ranked at No. 2 according to the independent website BoxRec.com. The charismatic Clavel will face the toughest test of her pro career in her GYM debut.
“Kim Clavel and her team are tremendously ambitious and confident by accepting this challenge,” GYM president Yvon Michel said. “Moreno is part of the elite fighters in her division, holding WBC champion Yesenia Gomez to a draw and losing to a majority decision in a pair of 2018 clashes. After March 21, we will know where Kim rates among the brightest prospects in her division. “
A very well-known and popular figure at the Casino de Montréal, undefeated light heavyeight Terry Osias (9-0, 4 KOs) of Longueuil, will be in his 10th pro fight, all held at the Casino de Montréal, which is a unique phenomenon in Quebec. His opponent will be former Bolivia National Champion Javier Saucedo (7-3-1, 6 KOs) in an 8-round bout.
Welterweight Marie-Pier Houle (2-0-1, 1 KO) of Terrebonne, will be in her first career 6-round fight, against Mexican Claudia Rangel (2-2, 0 KOs). Marie-Pier fought a furious fight against Linda Dostalkova at the Videotron Centre in her last outing, which ended in a draw.
This Casino event will mark the start of an association with Ontario promoter Lee Baxter. For the entire 2020 series at the Casino de Montréal, GYM and Lee Baxter Promotions will be co-promoters of popular Montreal prospect Mazlum Akdeniz (11-0, 6 KOs). The light welterweight Quebecer will not be in unknown territory since he has already fought six fights on GYM cards. His opponent in the 8-round match is left-hander Lavisas Williams (9-1-1, 3 KOs) of from Rochester NY.
In other bouts, Ontario light heavyweight Kane Heron (16-0-1, 7 KOs) will face Alejandre Meneses (12-4, 6 KOs) in an 8-rounder. Light heavyweight Simon Pierre Adde (7-1, 3KO), a Frenchman who lives in Los Angeles, will meet undefeated Italian Stivven Dredhaj (5-0, 2 KOs) in a 6-round fight. In a pair of 4-round confrontation the Stéphane Larouche protégé, super lightweight Abed El-Safadi (3-0, 0 KOs) will tangle with Jakub Laskowski (1-0-1, 1 KO) of Poland, and a show opener for Diizon Belfon (2-0, 2 KOs) of LaSalle, an associate of the famed Grant brothers, who will try for another knockout against his Greek foe, Alexandros Kirsanidis (1-0, 1 KO).
All this action will take place in the warm and unique atmosphere of the prestigious Cabaret of the Casino de Montréal, where the proximity of the ring and the fighters provides a perspective and sensations that are found nowhere else. The fights will start at noon, so it’s a good opportunity to come have lunch with us, while watching spectacular and emotional fights on the first day of spring.
Jackie Kallen Predicts Unbeaten Mykquan Williams Will Be Her Sixth World Champion
Women’s pioneer Jackie Kallen, the first and arguably most successful female manager in the boxing history, strongly believes unbeaten 21-year-old “Marvelous” Mykquan Williams (15-0-1, 7 KOs) will develop into her sixth world champion.
Williams, fighting out of East Hartford, CT, is the reigning the World Boxing Council (WBC) United States super lightweight champion.
“Mykey has a lot of the qualities as some of the greats in boxing,” Kallen said. “He has some of the flash and speed of fighters like Ray Leonard, and the training habits and dedication of Thomas Hearns and Mike Tyson. He also has a killer smile and good looks like Hector Camacho, Sr.
“Mykey can go all the way to a world title. He has the speed, attitude, and heart, along with exceptional boxing ability. He has been groomed perfectly by his trainer, Paul Cichon, who has kept Mykey true to his style, working hard to perfect his skill. Mykey trains hard, eats right, and takes the game seriously.”
“Jackie’s very experienced and knowledgeable in boxing,” Williams remarked. “She’s worked with some great, world-class fighters, so she knows the route to take for me to get there.”
Cichon added, “I sought out Jackie as our manager because of her love for the sports, as well as the knowledge of that she brings to the table. She’s very well respected, as she certainly deserves to be.”
Boxing has dramatically changed since Kallen covered her first fight for a Detroit daily newspaper in 1978. The card showcased Hearns and Mickey Goodwin. She became an instant fan and wrote about boxing on a regular basis. A legendary trainer/manager based in Detroit, Emanuel Steward, hired her as a publicist for his famed Kronk Gym. Some of her best friends to this day are fighters who she worked with back then. She and Hearns still get together.
After serving as Kronk’s publicist for a decade, Kallen decided to branch out and she started managing fighters. Her first client was heavyweight Bobby Hitz, who today is a successful promoter and restaurateur in Chicago. She went on to manage a group of Who’s Who fighters, including world champions James Toney, Bronco McKart,Tom “Boom Boom” Johnson, Pinklon Thomas and Nonito Donaire.
Kallen, who overcame sexism in the boxing industry, is best known, perhaps, for her working relationship with Toney, largely because her life during that period was the inspiration for the popular 2004 movie, Against the Ropes, starring Meg Ryan as Kallen.
“Boxing today is a totally different animal,” she explained. “That’s not to say it’s better or worse, just different. There used to be more gyms in every city, heavy amateur programs, lots of shows on television networks, and enough local club shows to keep a young fighter active. I had guys back then who fought 8 to 10 times a year, which, of course, is almost impossible in 2020.
“There wasn’t as much information available on opponents either. If you were lucky, you could buy a tape. If the fighter hadn’t been on television, though, you were out of luck. There was no Internet, so there was nothing like BoxRec to check opponents’ records. You just had to believe the matchmaker. I had fighters expecting to fight a 14-4 guy who found out at the weigh in that he was actually 16-0.”
Boxing, likely the second-oldest profession, has continued to survive, albeit often on a roller-coaster ride.
“Today’s fighters are not as quick to fight each other as they were in the days of Hearns/Hagler/Leonard/Duran,” Kallen noted. “Back then, fighters wanted to really fight to be the best they could be. I see fighters today being more analytical and taking less chances.
“There are also more sanctioning organizations today. Back then it was most the WBA, WBC and IBF. Not to mention there was never one person who managed dozens and dozens of boxers at the same time. The game has definitely changed!” Kallen, though is still heavily invested in the sport she loves. Confident Williams will be her next world champion, her dream is to be inducted into the Hall of Fame with Toney