Greg Vendetti: Determined to Send a Message to the Boxing World in Friday’s Bout
By: Paul Yates
Last December, Massachusetts’s Greg Vendetti flew to Paris to fight hard-hitting Michel Soro in a bout between two WBA world rated super-welterweights. Vendetti entered the ring on a lengthy winning streak and had serious prospects for a shot at his division’s world championship. But within two rounds, he exited the ring cracked, battered, and knocked out by Soro. The devastating loss cost Vendetti his world rating and sent him reeling back to New England’s club fighting circuit. It also raised questions about his future.
Friday night Vendetti faces New Jersey’s Michael Anderson, a lightly regarded but experienced boxer with a 17-2-1 record, in a scheduled 12 round bout at Everett’s Encore Casino. New England boxing insiders will be focused intensely on Vendetti, looking for clues about how the Soro debacle may have affected his self-confidence.
Photo Credit: Joe Gallo
At today’s weigh-in, Vendetti and his team gave no indication of feeling daunted by the Paris disaster. The fighter himself looked lean, imperterbed and bright-eyed as he addressed the media from the dais, speaking optimistically about putting together another winning streak. Vendetti’s team reinforced his air of self-confidence, expressing themselves with vigor and ambition on the subject of their boxer’s next career moves.
Sean Sullivan, vice president at Murphy’s Boxing, insists that Vendetti’s ego shows no ill effects from the Soro bout. “I was with Greg in the locker room after that fight,” he explained. “Greg was strong, very upbeat. He was already focused on rebounding in his next fight. Greg’s an old school fighter, all blood and guts.”
However Sullivan added that Murphy’s Boxing will eventually move Vendetti down a weight class, to the 147 lb welterweight division rather than super-welterweight, which has a weight limit of 154 lbs. “Greg’s shorter than most guys that he fights, so he’s at a disadvantage. But we really think he can be a force at welterweight. He’ll carry his power downward to that weight class.”
Currently 21-3-1 with 12 knockouts, Vendetti is a stocky, heavily muscled fighter who boxes out of a crouch, swarming opponents with sweeping hooks and overhand rights. His infighting strategy makes sense given that he stands only 5’6”. But Vendetti can box and counterpunch a bit too, moving laterally on his feet when necessary and unleashing rapid-fire combinations at medium distance when he needs to use wits rather than brawn. The Stoneham native has proven these skills against formidable opposition too.
Vendetti scored his biggest career win last year when he soundly outfought Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai, a notoriously durable, hard-hitting fighter who had scored 24 knockouts in compiling a 27-4-2 record. Vendetti’s victory was all the more impressive given that Kamegai had previously stood toe to toe for 12 rounds in a losing effort against the ferocious Miguel Cotto in a WBO super-welterweight world title fight. But to fulfill Sullivan’s goal of penetrating the upper-reaches the 147 lbs division, Vendetti will need to fight up to the ability level he demonstrated against Kamegai. That expectation, no doubt, puts more mental pressure on Vendetti.
The outcome of Friday’s fight is not in question. Although Anderson enjoys considerable height and reach advantages (the New Jersey fighter looked at least four inches taller at the weigh-in), at aged 38, he is nine years older than Vendetti. More tellingly, Anderson has rarely fought boxers with winning records, something Vendetti has done routinely. But the near certainty of victory does little to ease the psychological pressure Vendetti presumably faces. That is because Vendetti must win impressively in order to recertify his credibility with the power brokers who call the shots on pro boxing’s world class stage.
According to trainer Joey Ricciardi, Vendetti will definitely get the job done properly. “Right now, Greg’s confidence is sky high,” said Ricciardi. “For this fight, he trained harder, he put a little extra work in every day. Greg’s not doing that to prove anything to himself. He wants to prove something to the world.”
Friday’s match is for the vacant International Boxing Association super-welterweight title, a belt not held in high regard in pro boxing circles. But if Vendetti wins impressively, he will have accomplished something more important, which is to have proven that he is once again ready to face the world’s leading contenders.
UFC Fight Night 150: Greg Hardy Victorious in Controversial Win
By: Jesse Donathan
If I could give Greg Hardy one piece of advice, it would be to remember that, “he’s under a microscope” and that, “he needs to understand that.” The prophetic words of Cowboys COO Stephen Jones concerning the former NFL standout as reported by NFL.com writer Dan Hanzus in his May 4, 2015 piece “Cowboys respond to insensitive Greg Hardy tweet.” Short sighted at best, the insensitive tweet was small potatoes compared to the charges Hardy was initially found guilty of but which were later dropped upon appeal in which he was accused of assaulting an ex-girlfriend.
With the social stigma attached to violent crimes against women, Greg Hardy is fighting an uphill battle in both the eye of public and through the mixed martial arts media, some of whom have little issue in attempting to influence public perception with every conceivable Jedi mind trick at their disposal. From those calling for lowkey resistance to Hardy’s new found professional mixed martial arts career to those completely snubbing altogether, Hardy no shortage of detractors. Indeed, according to some, Greg Hardy is in fact the droid that the stormtroopers are looking for.
This kind of notoriety is money in the bank and a small slice of heaven to those in the combat sports entertainment industry who find themselves with a diamond in the rough with Greg Hardy. A fighter that fans love to hate, instead of turning off their televisions and refusing to watch a UFC fight, fans are actively lining up to hate Greg Hardy and its generating big business for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
In an April 28, 2019 mmafighting.com article titled, “Dana White critical of Greg Hardy’s opponent Dmitrii Smoliakov: ‘That was weird’” author Alexander K. Lee writes that, “At a glance, it looked like Dmitrii Smoliakov wanted nothing to do with Greg Hardy. And Dana White saw the same thing everyone else saw.” The fight was noticeably weird from my perspective too; it appeared as if “The Lifeguard” Smoliakov had been brought in to rescue Greg Hardy’s career.
With a 4-1 record overall, (0-1 UFC) coming into Saturday night’s fight with former training partner Smoliakov, it was a seemingly must win fight for Hardy who had no shortage of fans and pundits alike questioning whether he even belongs in the UFC, much less in the co-main event for the second straight fight in a row. With Hardy having lost his inaugural UFC fight to Allen Crowder by disqualification (illegal knee), the sharks have been circling in nailing Hardy to the cross and demanding his departure from the worlds premiere mixed martial arts organization.
Interestingly enough, Smoliakov last fought in the UFC in January of 2017, losing to Cyril Asker by TKO before being cut from the promotion. Smoliakov last fought in January of this year for AC-Aslan Challenge in Russia, defeating Evgeniy Bova by submission before being re-signed by the UFC and immediately fighting in the controversial co-main event at UFC Fight Night 150 on ESPN+ Saturday night.
By reading the play-by-plays at some of these mixed martial arts media outlets you would never know there was anything out of the ordinary about the fight. But for those of us who actually tuned in, the fight was remarkable for its awkwardness. Smoliakov appeared unwilling or unable to engage, half heartedly rushing in for takedowns which were easily stopped by Hardy and the Russian seemingly put up little resistance once the fight hit the mat, content to take punches until the referee waived off the fight. Weird is one way to put it, questionable and disappointing would be another. For those who were hoping to see Hardy tested, they ultimately walked away empty-handed Saturday night as Hardy crushed another can on his way to UFC infamy.
The mmafighting.com article would go on to quote the UFC President as stating, “You guys know, I’ve been doing this for 20 years, we don’t do set-up fights for anybody. And if I was a fan and probably some of the media, the way some of the media acts, I would think that was.”
“Hardy doesn’t make fights, me and my guys do,” said White. “I don’t know who the (expletive) that guy beat in nine fights, but I’d like to see the nine guys he beat. That was weird.” A “set-up fight” is a term I am unfamiliar with, which of course leaves me with a window into the unknown where I am forced to rest upon my laurels in order to make sense of this new age term.
In other circles of the universe, a set-up is defined as, “the way in which something, especially an organization or equipment, is organized, planned, or arranged.” Another way to define a set-up according to google is, “a scheme or trick intended to incriminate or deceive someone.” In searching for some kind of framework to liken these definitions to the sports entertainment world, according to the onlineworldofwrestling.com wrestling database of dictionary terms a “work” is defined as the word, “used to describe aspects of events of the business that aren’t real.”
The 2016 investigative report by journalist Benjamin Best titled, “Dirty Game – The Dark Side of Sports” gives great insight into the anatomy of the fight game. Former Leon Spinks boxing manager Charles Farrell went on to describe how the sports entertainment industry works behind the curtain, stating, “You fix fights to make betting money. You fix fights to get a fighter a championship. You fix fights to maneuver a fighter up the ranks toward a championship fight.” According to Farrell, “You fix fights to win, in order, again, to position someone strategically. You fix fights to lose, in order to get paid and in order to make, you know, betting coups. The way you fix fights varies greatly.”
Whatever you want to call the Hardy fight, whether it’s a set-up fight or weird, one thing is for sure; that is the fans were left scratching their heads and wanting more. The “Just Bleed God” is very unhappy as the tomato cans left at the alter of sacrifice have proven to be cheap, generic versions of the real thing. If the UFC thinks they are going to sell the public a product with a subpar tomato sauce, they have another thing coming.
The UFC can only keep opening up cheap, watered down tomato cans for so long before the public refuses to buy what they’re selling anymore. I would like to see Greg Hardy take a step up in competition, he clearly isn’t ready for the top ten yet, but putting him in there with a fighter who has a pulse would be why we are tuning into Greg Hardy’s fights to begin with. Anyone can beat a corpse up, let’s see how Hardy does when he’s tested with an opponent who has a pulse.
UFC Fight Night 150 on ESPN+ Preview
By: Jesse Donathan
UFC Fight Night 150 airs Saturday night at the BB&T Center Saturday, April 27, 2019 on ESPN+. The main event will feature submission grappling ace and perennial middleweight contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza versus Jack Hermansson. But once again, it’s the co-main event that is getting everyone’s attention. The controversial former NFL star Greg Hardy is set to face “The Lifeguard” Dmitrii Smoliakov of Russia in a heavyweight showdown.
Prize fighters today are the modern equivalent to the ancient Roman gladiators. An easy conclusion to come to considering the mixed martial art promotion once utilized a UFC gladiator in its opening volley. While the sports entertainment industry does a wonderful job of turning otherwise rough men into heroes through carefully crafted match ups and marketing, if these individuals plied their trade anywhere else but the ring or cage, they would be facing felony assault charges.
“Most gladiators were prisoners of war, slaves bought for the purpose, or criminals condemned to serve in the schools,” according to a University of Chicago essay titled “The Roman Gladiator.” Role models they were not, though their exploits then and now can easily turn ordinary men into larger than life super heroes.
Mixed martial arts fans have long hypothesized what the sport of MMA would look like with “A-level athletes” competing against the world’s best mixed martial artists. Top of the food chain individuals. The professional athletes of the NBA and NFL. The Lebron James’s, Bob Probert’s and Brian Urlacher’s of the world. Enter former NFL standout Greg Hardy, who is by most people’s definition an exceptional athlete. Unfortunately for him, he is also an exceptional athlete with quite a bit of baggage. In an April 17, 2018 article for Sherdog.com, “Opinion: Greg Hardy Need Not Apply,” author Ben Duffy pulled no punches with his thoughts on former NFL player Greg Hardy’s place in mixed martial arts:
“So nobody can accuse me of being vague here, I will say this as plainly as I can: Hardy should not be fighting professionally at all, and the decision makers at the UFC should be ashamed of themselves for even entertaining the possibility of signing him.”
Duffy would go on to cite Hardy’s July 2014 conviction for domestic violence, in which Hardy was summarily sentenced to 18 months’ worth of probation. Hardy’s attorneys appealed the conviction, the charges dropped all together when the victim failed to appear before the court. “Hardy was, in the legal sense at least, in the clear,” the author would go on to write.
Also cited as reasons for Duffy’s belief Hardy does not belong in mixed martial arts is the All-Pro lineman’s 2016 arrest for cocaine, Hardy’s poorly thought out behavior on social media which not surprisingly caught the attention of all the wrong people as well Hardy’s alleged poor behavior in the locker room.
“Mixed martial arts are thinly regulated violence,” writes Duffy. Going on to describe some of the ingredients that go into making the fight culture, Duffy would go on to remark that mixed martial arts, “will always attract its share of misfits, miscreants and antisocial head cases – the exact type of people who might find violence for pay an attractive proposition.”
It’s easy to confuse these athletes with super heroes, their acts of athletic achievement celebrated the globe over no matter the sport, transcending cultures. But it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock ‘n’ roll and getting punched in the face isn’t exactly an award most people are standing in line to receive.
If Greg Hardy wants to fight, let the man fight. I believe Greg Hardy deserves a second chance and if history is any indicator, he will get the benefit of the doubt because he is a compelling athlete with a lot left to offer. Hardy can redeem himself; he can turn this ship around and still become the great athlete that he was destined to be before some dreadfully bad decisions threw a wrench in his spokes.
Getting punched in the mouth for money isn’t a reward reserved for only the best among us. Fighting isn’t for everyone, taking a trip behind the woodshed isn’t my idea of paradise. “This is the hurt business. And in the hurt business people get hurt,” to quote legendary mixed martial arts referee Big John McCarthy.
Greg Hardy isn’t campaigning for Attorney General of Minnesota here, he is vying for a spot on the stretcher. And I get it, Greg Hardy has a history of abuse, by some peoples accounts he is not a very nice guy. But I am having a rather hard time accepting the notion that because of these facts he doesn’t deserve to be a tomato can and punching bag in the ring or cage.
On the contrary, that is exactly where Greg Hardy belongs no matter how you want to slice it. Greg Hardy is allegedly guilty of assaulting those who could not defend themselves? Great, stick him in the cage with those who can defend themselves then.
While it’s easy to watch inspirational fighter highlights on YouTube and come away dreaming to be like Kazushi Sakuraba, its another story altogether to be in that ring or cage with another trained killer. Its one thing to dream, its another to have to deal with “The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva. Getting taken behind the woodshed is not a fortunate turn of events, catching a beat down may look easy on television but it’s hardly a winning proposition in the game of life.
Before there was a Greg Hardy, there was Mike Tyson. A special athlete with a checkered past, convicted of a heinous crime against women and shunned by the combat sport community. Like Hardy’s plight with the NFL, so too was Tyson exiled from boxing. And through it all, “Iron” Mike Tyson found a way to persevere. To overcome. To quote a new age proverb, “the one who doesn’t fall, doesn’t stand up.” There is an ebb and flow to life. When the tide comes in, everything is great. But when it recedes, the barren wasteland left in its wake can be a depressive sight to behold.
In a March 27, 1992 article for the New York Times, “Tyson Gets 6-Year Prison Term for Rape Conviction in Indiana,” author E.R. Shipp wrote:
“Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight champion who was convicted of rape last month, was sentenced to 10 years in prison today. But the judge suspended the last four years, meaning he will spend no more than six years behind bars.”
“The sentence he received today seemed designed to provide punishment and offer him a chance to turn his life around,” Shipp wrote. Today, approaching thirty years since Tyson was convicted and sentenced to prison “Iron” Mike has did precisely that, turned his life around. A true boxing and cultural icon, Tyson is seen regularly on television and social media, even enjoying his own cartoon “Mike Tyson’s Mysteries” on the Adult Swim network.
Today, Mike Tyson is a legend and a hero. Which should leave Greg Hardy with some hope that if “Iron” Mike Tyson can turn that ship around, then maybe he can too? In this sport, you’re either a can or a can crusher. And regardless if Hardy deserves to be in the UFC or not, I think it is going to be interesting to find out exactly what the former NFL standout has left to offer. I’m all for giving Greg Hardy a second chance, lets see if he can make the most of it.
Here We Go Again with Two Fights in Philly on same Night May 11th
By: Ken Hissner
We all know there are at least 1500-3000 boxing fans that will attend a boxing event in Philly. Two 1000-1500 facilities can be filled on a given night there. On April 28th the Peltz Boxing promotion at a 5,000 seat facility with a co-feature in itself that would fill one of these small venues like SugarHouse Casino or 2300 Arena, will they fill the Liacouras Center on the Temple University facility?
On December 1st of 2017 Boxing Director Greg Sirb “made the decision” to have two events in Philly on the same night. The writers were wondering “which one should I cover?” I told Marshall Kauffman who was promoting at the 2300 Arena “wherever Christian Carto fights I will be there” knowing both his King’s Promotions and Manny Rivera’s Hard Hitting Promotions who was at the SugarHouse Casino have had Carto on their events. He came back and knowing Carto would be at the SugarHouse said “I’m having “Boots” Ennis on my show, whom I feel is the best prospect out of Philly since 1984 Olympian Meldrick Taylor, I told him it didn’t make a difference. For “Boots” can finish an opponent within 3 minutes whereas Carto wares them down with his boxing ability until he lowers the boom on them while “Boots” is in a hurry to get it over with. So I’d rather see 5-8 rounds of Carto than 3 minutes of Boots even though the latter is a more skilled boxer in my opinion and Carto a more exciting one. Obviously that night I went to the SugarHouse Casino to see Carto.
Now, Hard Hitting co-promoting with Greg Cohen Promotions will be at the 2300 Arena that can’t compare with the SugarHouse Casino for parking or a better area. One of my concerns is that the promoter’s show I don’t go to will not be pleased with me though going to the better overall show comes first. Of course Sirb will be at the 2300 Arena since Showtime will be there and that is also a concern to rather be at the show he isn’t.
Hard Hitting has only had one bad show while having the reputation of competitive fights. Not that King’s doesn’t have competitive shows because they do. Both promotions have good competitive matchmaking.
Both events have out of town main events which will not be known to the average fan. Having just finished an article today on Mykal Fox who will be in the main event at SugarHouse and ring announcer Alex Barbosa “making a comeback” there will influence me, Jeremy Cuevas and David Murray will be at the 2300 Arena which also interests me. Both main events should give the main boxer in Devin Haney and Mykal Fox a challenge if not more.
I’m sure Philadelphia area PA commissioner Rudy Battles doesn’t know about the double in one night show like he didn’t about the December 1st event until I contacted him, why does he allow Sirb to make these decisions knowing he (Battles) doesn’t approve of this? Sirb hates the Press, especially this writer, so he could care less how we feel.
In the meantime Carto will be on the Peltz Boxing show April 28th and who knows where “Boots” will show up after winning his 19th fight in 24 months Saturday in Va? Of Course Chris Middendorf who has promoted his fights along with manager Cameron Dunkin make those decisions. With 2300 Arena having 6 fights and SugarHouse having 7 fights it allows either to add one more fight. If “Boots” ends up anywhere it will probably be the 2300 Arena though the chances of being on Showtime considering the undercard would be of interest since he probably would have his fight shown. But then Middendorf’s Victory Promotions may do a show of their own since Middendorf has just informed this writer “it’s time to step up the competition and get “Boots” into the ratings”. It may not be long before he steals the spotlight from former champion Danny “Swift” Garcia or stable mate “The New” Ray Robinson. But that’s another one of those “wait and see moments!”
Writer’s Nightmare on December 1st in Philly with Two Shows Scheduled
By: Ken Hissner
The Philly based writers like this one are quite upset with what Boxing Director Greg Sirb with the Pennsylvania Boxing Commission has permitted. Both promoters Marshall Kauffman of King’s Promotions and Manny River of Hard Hitting Promotions have no problem with it for both may sell out which Hard Hitting has done at all Sugar House promotions and King’s is the busiest promoter in Pennsylvania at this time. Whoever scheduled that date first should be the only promoter working that night. Why not have one on Friday and the other on Saturday of that week?
BUT, the writers who choose one show will probably be in the “doghouse” of the other promoter. Both shows look good. Christian Carto 12-0 (11) is on the Hard Hitting show and Jaron “Boots” Ennis, 16-0 (14), was just got added to the King’s Promotion’s show. Both are the two most popular and skilled young talents in the state and possibly the country.
This writer contacted the “Right to Know” Department in Harrisburg, PA, wanting an answer to such a thing happening in the same city. No results as of yet which is no surprise. Then, called Boxing Commissioner Rudy Battle who didn’t seem to know about this move by Sirb but I could hear in his voice he wasn’t for it and said he would to contact Sirb about it. It will do no good since Sirb runs the commission.
There are fans of boxers on both cards who also will be shortchanged. On the King’s show a good boxer in Tyrone Brunson is fighting a no name that lost to Kermit Cintron a year ago. Brandon Robinson against Christopher Brooker will be a possible barn burner. Joe Hanks, 21-2, is fighting one of those North Carolina boy’s with a 7-0-1 record. Popular Omar Douglas out of DE is looking to bounce back from his back to back losses though he got shortchanged in the last one. Another favorite DE fighter Kyrone Davis who trains in Philly is in with a 19-12 guy but who lost his last 5 of 6 fights. The rest are young boxers with 1 or less fights.
Hard Hitting has no opponents yet but has popular Joey Dawejko on top and rumors are he might be fighting for a minor title. There are 4 Spanish well known ticket sellers on the undercard in Branden Pizarro, 8-0, Jeremy Cuevas, 5-0, Angel Pizarro, 3-0 and Gadwin Rosa, 4-0. In addition former top amateur heavyweight Darmani Rock is making his Philly debut at 9-0. With just over 3 weeks to go Hard Hitting has to come up with opponents for a comparison.
Since Sirb, I admit is hard working though always has a good assistant and overworks his officials along with bringing in out of state one’s looks down on the press, especially this writer, and he could care less if we are shortchanged. My memory doesn’t come up with the last time this happened in Philly. Sirb has already allowed this writer to be removed from a Joe Hand Promotions weigh-in and threatened to ban me from ringside for reminding him of it at the next scheduled show. Like the phrase from a Jack Nicholson movie I can say “you can’t stand the truth!” That goes to all who read my articles and show results!