Vergil Ortiz and Antonio Orozco Are Ready to Battle
By: Sean Crose
“I want to thank Golden Boy and Eric Gomez;” says welterweight contender and rising Golden Boy Promotions star Vergil Ortiz. “He was the first guy to discover me when I was an amateur and gave me this opportunity, and I’m just really grateful for it.” The hard hitting 13-0 Ortiz has won all his bouts by knockout, proving himself a valuable asset to his promoter. This Saturday night he’ll be facing the 28-1 Antonio Orozco in a scheduled 12 round affair which will be aired live on DAZN from the Theater at Grand Prairie, Texas. Orozco is no one’s easy out, which means the fight can certainly prove to be interesting.
“We know the tremendous fighter that Vergil Ortiz is,” Orozco says, “and everyone knows my style of fighting. This is going to be a fight you don’t want to miss. It’s a great opportunity, putting us both towards that world title shot again, and I’m looking for to that victory on Saturday.” For Ortiz, this means a chance to make his mark as future star in the starstruck welterweight division. For Orozco, it means a chance to do what others have been doing in boxing lately – surprising people. Count an Orozco win to be up there with Ruiz-Joshua and Pascal-Browne as one of the bigger upsets of the year.
Ortiz, however, makes it clear that he’s grounded in his rise up the division and that he takes his opponent this weekend very seriously. “I think everything has been said already,” he claims. “I’m not here to mess around. Golden Boy has given me some tough fights and I have passed them with flying colors, even though I’m color blind. Orozco is a very tough opponent, I’m not taking him lightly at all.”
Ortiz also speaks highly of Orozco, opting out of the shallow trash talk that sometimes comes with the fight game.
“He deserves all the respect in the world,” says Ortiz, “especially on that ring. It’s sink or swim…good thing I’m a good swimmer. I’m just looking forward to seeing those familiar faces in the audience. Best of luck to Orozco. This isn’t personal, we are here to support our families.”
DAZN will also feature a bantamweight battle on Saturday evening which is well worth noting, for the 15-1-1 Joshua Franco will engage in his third, that’s third, battle with the 10-2-1 Oscar Nagrete. Franco won their last battle by split decision. The first fight between these two ended in a draw. In short, there’s much to like about this matter of unfinished business. “ I think I won the first one,” says Franco. “I won the second one, and this time is even going to be worse for him.” Nagrete, of course, sees things differently. “I fought two exciting fights in the past,” he says. “Those two fights were very good fights, emotional fights, where I felt like I won, and most people have told me that I won. I’m here to prove that I won and show that I am the true champion.”
“I hope Joshua Franco is prepared,” he adds, “and I hope that this time, he comes to fight and not to run.”
Devin Haney vs. Antonio Moran Fight Preview
By: Oliver McManus
Bluechip lightweight prospect Devin Haney will look to record his 22nd professional win this weekend when he takes on Antonio Moran (24-3) over ten rounds in defense of his WBC International title. The fight tops Matchroom Boxing USA’s card at MGM National Harbor in Maryland that features Jessica McCaskill vs Anahi Esther Sanchez (WBC and WBA world title fight), Michael Hunter vs Fabio Maldonado (WBA International) and Filip Hrgovic vs Gregory Corbin (WBC International) in support.
Haney tops the bill for his first career fight in Maryland and his first bout since linking up with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom. The talented 20 year old has been making waves Stateside for a while now thanks to the maturity he’s shown in spite of his youth: debuting when he was just 17. In the four following years he has notched up 21 victories, 13 inside the distance, and really made a statement last May with a victory over Mason Menard.
Showcasing his full arsenal of tricks, the youngster immediately hit his stride with his rear right leg keeping Haney on top from distance – circumnavigating the ring in compass-like fashion which he complimented with a flash jab to the midriff and occasional switch-hitting. This was, arguably, the first occasion in which Haney was able to produce a peerless performance in which everything seemed to flow with him previously being quite predictable once hitting any sort of rhythm.
Moran will be hoping that habits of old creep back into the technique of Haney in order for the Mexican to impose a gameplan of his own. The 26 year old goes into the contest having fallen short on three previous occasions – twice in contentious circumstances back in Mexico – and will best be remembered for a gritty contest with Jose Pedraza last June. A perennial Latino champion with varying governing bodies, this is an opportunity for Moran to push past those regional fizzy belts and gain a meaningful scalp to his CV.
The Mexico City resident leads with a pawing jab from a sturdily straight posture and takes a while to warm up into contests but has found success when loosening up and letting the left hand throw wildly towards the body. Despite rattling seventeen victories by way of knockout, I’d say Moran is not your typical ‘Mexican’ fighter in terms of throwing the kitchen sink into a contest with constant aggression with his knockout power countered, really, with a methodical start to proceedings.
Victory is firmly expected for his Californian adversary but we’ve seen from recent fights that you can never rule out a Mexican fighter – it should be a rite of passage for any prospect to face a Mexican through the developmental phase of their career. Haney could be in a real learning fight, he could be dictating traffic from the off and cruise to victory but it’ll certainly be a good measure of how the young man can adapt to those in front of him. Predictability won’t wash come Saturday night.
Jessica McCaskill (6-2) and Anahi Esther Sanchez (19-3) provide the world title action on the Maryland bill with the two fighters seeking to unify their super lightweight belts. McCaskill enters the contest having claimed the WBC version in October with a routine points victory over Erica Anabella Farias whilst Sanchez is the WBA ruler after knocking out Diana Ayala inside a round last April.
Despite her inactivity Sanchez edges this contest, going in, thanks to her wealth of experience that has seen her win or challenge for world titles in three different weight divisions. The South American hits hard and is one of those fighters that is routinely getting the business done within the shorter two-minute rounds. A rough fighter who loves ‘getting involved’ – she can fall into a rhythm of clinching after landing a flurry of punches – Sanchez rolls with her shots and lands with consistent pressure. McCaskill, seven years the older fighter, is not a big underdog by any stretch of the imagination and has developed plenty since her debut in August 2015. She’s been blighted by a lack of regular action but has looked comfortable in her career to date. A real trope of her style is that she leads with her head when throwing her jab, not in a dangerous manner but, dropping it a good six inches which in turn takes her eye off the target.
Michael Hunter (16-1) and Filip Hrgovic (7-0) are the bruising heavyweights looking to add the knockout gloss to the card. Hunter looks to continue his momentum from the back end of 2018 – a year in which he knocked out Iago Kiladze, Martin Bakole and Alexander Ustinov – by defending his WBA International strap against Fabio Maldonado. The explosive 30 year old established himself as a surprise heavyweight contender and victory over Maldonado should be routine; the main question is whether Hunter can get rid of the former UFC fighter before the ten rounds are up. Maldonado (26-2) has proven himself to be incredulously negative in his two previous ‘step-ups’ with a reluctance to engage so it could be a long old night as far as Hunter is concerned.
Hrgovic faces an equally drab and dour competitor in the former of Gregory Corbin (15-1): the Dallas fighter being best known for repeatedly punching ‘King’ Charles Martin in the crown jewels. Hrgovic has strolled his way to an unbeaten seven fight career, even dropping the notably durable Kevin Johnson in his last fight. The 26 year old has been signed to a co-promotional agreement with Matchroom and Team Sauerland that guarantees him exposure on both sides of the Atlantic and he’s already proving to be one of the star-signings from the 2016 Olympians. Between the heavyweight contests this is most likely to end prematurely; Hrgovic knockout or Corbin disqualification, that’s still up for debate.
Did Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran Duck Colombia’s Antonio “Kid Pambele” Cervantes?
By: Ken Hissner
The boxing world knew that both Roberto “Hands of Stone” and Antonio “Kid Pambele” Cervantes would be IBHOF inductees someday and they were right.
Duran ruled the lightweights after his defeat of Scotland’s Ken Buchanan on June 26th 1972 at Madison Square Garden. He was 31-0 when he suffered his first loss that to Puerto Rico’s Esteban “Vita” DeJesus, 31-1 (only loss to Antonio Gomez), at Madison Square Garden in a super lightweight match. Duran was knocked down in the first round and lost by scores of 5-4, 6-3 and 6-2.
DeJesus would drop down to lightweight and win the NABF title from Ray Lampkin, 19-0-1, in his next fight. It took until March 16th 1974 in Panama City to get his rematch with Duran and got knocked out in the 11th round. Like in their first match Duran was knocked down in the first round. Duran would sometimes get up to 200 pounds between fights. By then DeJesus was 42-1 and Duran 41-1.
Duran would win 4 non-title bouts coming in at 139 three times and 140 once. In December of 1974 Duran in a title defense scored a first round knockout over Japan’s lightweight champion Masataka Takayama, 21-5-1. In March of 1975 in his next defense it was his turn to defeat Lampkin, 29-3-1, stopping him in the 14th round. Lampkin’s was rushed to a hospital afterwards.
Duran won four more non-title bouts before defending against Mexico’s champion Leoncio Ortiz, 30-5-2, knocking him out at 2:30 of the 15th and final round. In his next fight he defeated former WBA Super lightweight champion Saoul Mamby, 18-8. Just 19 days later he was in Erie, PA, dropping 6 pounds and defeating the local boxer Lou Bizzaro, 22-0, knocking him out in the 14th round.
In October Duran scored a 1st round knockout over Alvaro Rojas, 15-7, of Costa Rica. In January of 1977 he knocked out Vilomar Fernandez, 19-5-1, in the 13th round. Two more non-title wins and in Philadelphia in September in a “grudge match” he defeated Edwin Viruet, 22-2, over 15 rounds. This writer got a picture with him prior to the fight. I have never seen anyone skip rope better than Duran.
Next up would be his final defense at lightweight in a “rubber match” with DeJesus, 52-3, stopping him in the 12th round at Caesers Palace in Las Vegas also capturing the WBC title in addition to keeping his WBA title.
Duran would go onto win 8 non-title bouts coming in as high as 151 in one of them. In June of 1980 he won the WBC World welterweight title from “Sugar” Ray Leonard, 27-1, at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Canada. In the rematch in November came the humiliating loss to Leonard at the Superdome in New Orleans quitting in the 8th round.
Duran would go 4-2 before winning the WBA Super welterweight title stopping Davey Moore, 12-0, for his title in the 8th round in June of 1983. In his next fight he stepped in with WBA, WBC & IBF Middleweight champion “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, 57-2-2, losing a close 15 round decision by scores of 144-142, 146-145 and 144-143.
In Duran’s next fight in June of 1984 he suffered a devastating loss to former welter and super welter champion Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns, 38-1, in the second round. In February of 1989 he would win the WBC Middleweight title that Iran “The Blade” Barkley, 25-4, held by split decision at the Convention Hall, in Atlantic City, NJ. He had Barkley down in the 11th round. He would end up his career in July of 2001 with a record of 103-16 with 70 by stoppage at age 50.
Now let’s look at Cervantes. In December of 1981 he got his first title shot against Argentina’s Nicolino “El Intocable” Loche, 103-2-14, losing every round for the WBA World super lightweight title. In October of 1972 Cervantes would win the same title from Panama’s Alfonso Fraser, 30-4-1, at Panama City with a 10th round knockout. It was just four months after Duran defeated Buchanan. That’s about as close as they met.
In Cervantes next fight and first defense he won a split decision in San Juan, Puerto Rico, over Josue Marquez, 26-5-1. Just a month later, he got his revenge defeating Loche, 110-3-14, who couldn’t come out for the 10th round due to a cut. Just two months later he gave Fraser a rematch, 31-5-6, stopping him in the 5th round.
In September of 1973 Cervantes was home in Bogota, Colombia, stopping Argentina’s Carlos Maria Gimenez, 72-2-3, in the 5th round. On December 5th he was back in Panama stopping Japan’s Lion Furuyama, 30-5-2, over 15 rounds. Just two days prior to this in Panama Duran was winning a non-title bout knocking out Tony Garcia, 13-2-4.
Cervantes would win three more title defenses starting with Chang-Kil Lee, 22-1, with a 6th round knockout in March of 1974. In July he would knockout in 2 rounds Victor Ortiz, 25-6. In October in Japan he would knockout Shinichi Kadota, 35-7, in 8 rounds.
In May of 1975 it was Cervantes’ time to meet DeJesus, 45-2, knocking him down in the 1st, 12th and 15th rounds winning a lopsided decision in Panama. In November back in Panama he would stop Australia’s Hector Thompson, 55-4-2 in the 7th round. Duran the following month was in Puerto Rico defending against Mexico’s Ortiz. Cervantes was 5-0 in Panama and maybe that is why Duran never challenged him with either he or his people seeing how good Cervantes was.
In March of 1976 Cervantes in his eleventh title defense would lose his title to 17 year-old Wilfred Benitez, 25-0, by split decision in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Cervantes never got a return match. In January of 1982 Benitez then the WBC World Super champion would defeat Duran. After five wins Cervantes would get another shot at the vacant WBA title in June of 1977 in a rematch with Gimenez, 98-8-4, stopping him in the 4th round.
After a pair of title defenses Cervantes would go to South Africa and stop Norman Sekgapane, 51-6-1, in the 9th round. He had another three defenses including two against Miguel Montilla, 33-4-3, stopping him in the second one. In between those two defenses he was in South Korea defeating Kwang Min Kim, 15-0-1, by split decision. That gave Cervantes sixteen defenses.
Next up in August of 1980 for Cervantes would be future Hall of Famer Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor, 24-0, stopping Cervantes in the fourth round at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum. The hanger-on’s swarmed Pryor to the point he couldn’t get interviewed. Cervantes would go onto win his next four fights before losing his final one in December of 1983. His final record was 93-12-3 (45), while Duran ended up 103-16 70). Both would become IBHOF inductees. What a fight that would have been if they ever met. Duran vacated his lightweight title in January of 1979 after defeating DeJesus in their third fight. He would “skip” super lightweight and go onto welterweight eventually winning that title, the super welter and middleweight titles. He never challenged Cervantes for the super lightweight title. What a match that would be between Cervantes and Duran.
Three Warriors get the Call to Boxing Hall of Fame
Three Warriors get the Call to Boxing Hall of Fame
By: Matthew N. Becher
Yesterday afternoon it was announced that 3 fighters would be inducted into next year’s class of the Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. It was a very fitting class, since the three boxers were all known for being true warriors to the sport. Evander Holyfield, Marco Antonio Barrera and Johnny Tapia would be fitting to lead any class alone, but together, they make up one of the most “Tough as Nails” groups that you could put together.
Marco Antonio Barrera (67-7 44KO): The “Baby Faced Assassin” is and forever will be one of the greatest fighters to come out of the country of Mexico. Barrera was a three division world champion winning his first title against Daniel Jimenez in 1995. He would rule the super bantamweight division for most of the next decade, which included his most famous fight, against Erik Morales in 2000 to unify the division. Barrera loss the first of three to Morales, which became one of the greatest trilogies in boxing history and would solidify him as one of boxing’s toughest. He was also the man to snatch away the “0” from Prince Naseem Hamed, a fight that stunned the world, but not the fans that follow the sport closely. The flashy Hamed fought once more after he took the beating from Barrera then retired. Barrera went on to beat fellow Hall of Famer Johnny Tapia in 2002 and was knocked out for the only time of his career against the great Manny Pacquiao. Barrera has come a long way from the 15 year old who turned pro in 1989 to one of the greatest Mexican fighters ever.
Johnny Tapia (59-5-2 30KO): Nothing written can do justice to the life that “Mi Vida Loca”, Johnny Tapia’s story tells. Born into extreme Poverty in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1967. The most poignant of ways to describe Johnny’s life can be taken from a passage in his Autobiography, Mi Vida Loca: The Crazy Life of Johnny Tapia, Tapia wrote: “My name is Johnny Lee Tapia. I was born on Friday the 13th. A Friday in February of 1967. To this day I don’t know if that makes me lucky or unlucky. When I was eight I saw my mother murdered. I never knew my father. He was murdered before I was born. I was raised as a pit bull.
Raised to fight to the death. Four times I was declared dead. Four times they wanted to pull life support. And many more times I came close to dying. But I have lived and had it all. I have been wealthy and lost it all. I have been famous and infamous. Five times I was world champion. You tell me. Am I lucky or unlucky?”
Tapia came from a struggle that no person should ever have to, and he used his fists as a way of expressing his anger and hate. He was never the most beautiful of fighter, but he was tougher than anyone you would ever want to face.
He was a fan favourite and multiple world champion. Unfortunately Tapia faced many out of the ring problems with drugs and criminal charges. Unfortunate to all, this Induction will be done posthumously as Johnny Tapia died in May of 2012 of Heart Failure, he was 45.
Evander Holyfield (44-10-2 29KO): Many thought this day would never come, since Holyfield just wouldn’t stop fighting. Eventually he hung up the gloves in 2011 after Knocking out Brian Nielsen in Denmark. “The Real Deal” is one of the biggest names of his era. Holyfield was a member of the famed 1984 US Boxing team, where he won the Bronze medal (though he was unjustly disqualified in a controversial call). Holyfield then turned pro that same year and became the WBA World Cruiserweight champ in only his 12th fight, against Dwight Muhammad Qawi.
Holyfield would go on to become the Unified WBC/WBA/IBF Cruiserweight champ by 1988 before announcing he would move up to the Heavyweight division. Many thought that Holyfield, as good as he was, stood no shot against the bigger men, but he ran through the gauntlet of fighters and in two years became the Lineal, Undisputed Heavyweight champion in 1990 by knocking out James “Buster” Douglas. He would defend his titles against George Foreman, Bert Cooper, & Larry Holmes until engaging in one of his three thrilling fights against his rival Riddick Bowe. Bowe would win the first and third fights, but Holyfield took the second, leaving the only blemish on Bowes near perfect record. Holyfield was not finished there, as he then would go on to win the Heavyweight title against Mike Tyson in 1996 and defeat Tyson again in 1997, in a fight in which Tyson would bite part of Holyfield’s ear clean off.
Holyfield was a Heavyweight champion on four different occasions, Fighter of the year 3 times, ranked as the greatest Cruiserweight of all time and one of the top ten heavyweights ever. The man is a living legend and a true warrior of the sport.