Tag Archives: ireland

Katie Taylor’s Remarkable Year


by B.A. Cass

After beating Jessica McCaskill, Katie Taylor was criticized by Mike Costello and Steve Bruce of the BBC for what they viewed as a spotty performance. They were both unimpressed by her defensive skills and felt that she lacked ring intelligence.

The worst round for Taylor in her fight against McCaskill was the sixth. In that round, McCaskill landed a jab to the face that seemed to make Taylor wobble in place. It shouldn’t surprise anyone when a boxer gets hit in the face. But for a second, it looked like McCaskill might just stagger the great Irish Olympian and perhaps end up surprising the world.

However, McCaskill was unable to capitalize on her single moment of dominance. And what Taylor’s critics missed in this exchange is how Taylor was able to recover. Deftly slipping McCaskill’s subsequent punches, Taylor quickly moved out of range.

No one with any sense would argue that Taylor’s performance against McCaskill was flawless, but we must remember that this was her sixth fight of 2017. Since her professional debut just thirteen months ago, Taylor has fought a total of eight times, for a total of 52 rounds. Taylor’s second professional fight took place just three weeks after her first. The longest span of time between fights was three months.

Having forced Jasmine Clarkson, a younger fighter by nine years, to retire after just the third round, Taylor went onto to face the more professionally accomplished Anahi Esther Sanchez. After flooring Sanchez in the second round, Taylor defeated Sanchez by UD, a win that made Taylor the WBA World Lightweight Champion.

Taylor admitted that she got a bit wild in her recent fights, abandoning her hit-and-move strategy to engage with opponents at close range. Although never letting her heart reign too much, Taylor fights with passion. She steps into the ring to fight, not just to win by points.

As an amateur, Taylor was known for her hand speed, but her power has come as a surprise to many. Perhaps that’s because she doesn’t talk or look like a fighter. Outside of the ring, Taylor has a gentle manner and resembles one of those cartoons with pin dot eyes, a look that makes her seem far too innocent to be dangerous.

But we’ve seen her overwhelm her opponents in the ring, and there is no doubt she can fight. If the worst that can be said of Taylor is that she has some room for improvement, then it’s fair to say that she’s had a remarkable year.

Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch

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Frampton, Tete, and Ancajas Win in Belfast


By: Oliver McManus

11,000 Irish fans packed into the SSE Arena, Belfast, for an enthralling night of World Championship boxing courtesy of Frank Warren – with Zolani Tete, Jamie Conlan, Paddy Barnes and Carl Frampton on the card it’s hard to tell who the main headlining act was but, boy , was it a brilliant night in Belfast.

The returning Jackal was in his first bout under MTK-management and in his new promotional agreement with Frank Warren and his homecoming featherweight (technically catchweight; 1lb above the featherweight limit) contest was against, Mexican, Horacio Garcia – a 33-3 fighter looking to cause a major upset.

Coming off the back of a majority-decision loss against Leo Santa Cruz (the rematch to their first bout that Frampton one), Frampton was hoping to get back into World Title contention with a convincing win over his 27 year old opponent whereas Violento was seeking to propel his name into the spotlight.

A two-weight World Champion, it’s in the balance as to whether Frampton continues in the featherweight division or jumps up to Super-Feather in an attempt to become Northern Ireland’s first ever three-weight world champion – first though, he’d need to get through Horacio Garcia.

There was a reception befitting royalty that greated Frampton to the ring for his 25th fight – his 24 previously yielding just the single loss – and both fighters entered the contest at 9st 1lb with Garcia possessing the 3inch reach advantage.

With 10 rounds scheduled The Jackal was looking to put to work the old adage that you don’t get paid for overtime and finish his opponent in emphatic fashion.

Taking to the centre of the ring Frampton, the shorter fighter, eased himself into the round before landing with a crouched left hook to signal his intent to both his opponent and the capacity crowd in the SSE Arena.

Starting off on the back foot – but without Garcia pressing anything of note – he appeared to be measuring out his opponent before swinging with quality shots round the guard of Garcia, slamming in the right hand to the cheek with split-second timing.

Fast, fleeting, footwork combined with lucid upper-body movement saw him evade the infrequent jabs coming his way, much to the delight of the crowd.

Packing a real crisp jab, The Jackal kept it popping into the body of Violento to distract from the overhand left that landed with alarming regularity to the Mexican’s head. Garcia failed to land anything without coming forward and, when he did, Frampton hit back by leaping onto the front foot and lading with sharp combinations to the inside body.

Looking confident yet not cocky, Frampton really was moving through the motions during the opening stanza of the bout with a high tempo forcing his 36-fight opponent into sloppy mistakes, slipping back onto the ropes and inviting the pressure from Frampton.

Opening up in the third by leaving his left hand hanging in front of Garcia’s face, the EU Amateur silver medallist, landed a cracking shot in the middle of the round to snap the neck back of his 27 year old opponent.

Despite all the artillery coming the Mexican’s way he seemed undeterred from staying true to his fighting style, keeping a high guard whilst occasionally dropping down to throw body shots at Frampton.

A durable fighter his three defeats have all been on points with one of them avenged a mere two months later and his 24 knockout victories out of 33 show that he’s not to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Wild, swinging, left hands started off his 4th round as Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez sat front row cheering his fellow national on and he landed his first shot of note about 45 seconds into the round with a firm right hook to the body, swiftly followed with further clubbing shots to head and body.

Frampton decided to stay and trade with his opponent, holding his feet in a style which probably favoured the Mexican but nonetheless the Jackal was determined to go toe-to-toe with his opponent.

Garcia landed with consistency and pushed the two-weight champion onto the ropes, firing in with slamming shots to both sides of the Irishman before the tables turned and Frampton shimmied his way back to the centre with a stylish flurry to the head, backing Garcia away.

Into the second half of the fight we went and it seemed to follow a similar script to the first with Frampton staying in control, working on that straight right followed by blindside left which was deployed to significant effect. Garcia would continue to fire back occasionally with a shot to remind the blue, white and gold wearing fighter of his presence but you’d be hard pushed to suggest he was troubling the pre-fight favorite.

A minor cut emerged to the side of Frampton’s right eye but nothing worthy of anything other than a brief mention and Garcia seemed to gain confidence from this, taking the sixth round with eye-catching flurries to the body before taking a ramrod right hook flush to the temple, shrugging it off.

The 7th round saw drama abound as The Jackal was floored in what was a blatant slip but Victor Loughlin counted it as a knockdown, getting up off the canvas he seemed bitter and enraged, throwing leather Garcia’s way with scant regard for the consequences. 10-8 for Garcia, presumably, the fight was in the balance.

For a fight of this nature to be overshadowed by a display of sub-par refereeing of this magnitude would be unjust and Frampton set out with a point to prove in the 8th, going back to basics but slipping in almost the exact same spot again. He stayed on his feet and stood square in front of the Mexican, landing solid right hands to the body of the granite Garcia.

The fatiguing face of Frampton painted a thousand words that preferably wouldn’t be uttered come the final bell but his work-rate and punch-quality was looking like enough to secure him victory in his first fight since January.

Frampton’s footwear saw him come unstuck for a third time in the fight, slipping again, but with only one of those slips counting as a knockdown it was a rectifiable issue; Garcia proved to be the aggressor in the final two rounds, throwing all sorts of shots at his opponent in order to get ahead on the judges’ scorecards.

Whilst The Jackal seemed to gas, he kept throwing back in what was proving to be a real knife-edge fight; the Irishman dominating the opening rounds with the Mexican coming on strongly in the final four, causing significant problems for the expected winner
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Come the final bell there was a tangible sense of trepidation in the crowd as we went to the scorecards – 98-93, 97-93, 96-93 ; Carl Frampton beat Horacio Garcia in what has to be one of the greatest non-title fights you will ever see, guts, grit, glory, THE LOT.

Jamie Conlan, the pride of Belfast, featured in his 20th professional fight as he took on Jerwin Ancajas for the IBF World Super Flyweight title – coming in as the long-odds challenger, Conlan was confident in his game plan against the cagey Filipino champion.

Ancajas has the odd notoriety of being one of the most avoided champions in all of world boxing – despite the fact everyone wants his belt – and 13 knockouts out of his last 14 goes some way to demonstrating just why that is.

The 27-1 man looked to make his third defence of the IBF title he took off McJoe Arroyo back in September 2016 and, in The Mexican, he was facing quite possibly his most gung-ho fighter in the whole of his career.

Conlan was relishing this opportunity on the world stage and refused to let Ancajas’ reputation faze him during the build-up, insisting instead that the packed SSE Arena would be enough to see him over the line.

Fighting his first southpaw opponent in 5 years, the 31 year old seemed to struggle to adapt to the style of Pretty Boy and looked quite uncomfortable in the opening stages of the first round with Ancajas staying at length and prompting Conlan to open himself up if he wanted to land shots of any real meaning.

Unexpectedly after 90 seconds in the first round the Irishman shot down to the canvas with everyone in the arena bemused – no shots came in as he fell but as he got up it appeared to be something wrong with the lead leg.

The crowd voiced their support to create a spine-tingling atmosphere that carried Conlan to his corner – a 10-8 round certainly not the start they would have been hoping for.

Ancajas, wearing the red and white shorts, stuck to his deliberately cagey blueprint but failed to land any significant punches to trouble the maiden title challenger. Attempted roughhouse from the Filipino drew the ire of, referee, Steve Gray and caused a cut to the left-eye of The Mexican, prompting a stream of blood to gush to his eye.

The 6-time All-Ireland champion (junior and senior) doesn’t have quitting in his vocabulary, however, and mustered up the spirit to draw him his corner and attempt to bring himself back into the fight.

Patient, probing jabs provided little threat to Conlan but a straight right hand lead followed by a power left had the challenger rattled. A body shot sent him stumbling back but typical flamboyance saw him wave the attack on.

Body shot after body shot had him tucking up, curling into a ball almost. Three successive right hands to the body followed flush by a left to the livers dropped Jamie for the second time in the fight.

Momentum firmly in the defending champion’s corner, Pretty Boy know where to target and looked to exploit it as the fight entered the second third of the fight. Big right hands winded Conlan, the Filipino had him against the ropes and landed dozens of sharp, sustained punches to the body, inflicting maximum physical and psychological damage to the ever fatiguing Irishman.

Down in the last 15 seconds of the round as a result of yet more body shots, a fist punched the canvas in frustration at the quality of fighter he was facing – Ancajas proving to be a class above but Conlan giving it his all.

Finding spirit from no conceivable place, success was found with punches evading the guard of Ancajas but ultimately being nothing other than sighting shots as opposed to anything packing power.

A point was deducted from the champion in the fifth round as he floored the black-and-gold wearing Irishman thanks to a third low-blow of the fight, if anything was to be the point at which Conlan got back into the fight then surely this would be it.

Jabs aplenty found themselves rammed right down the throat of Conlan before he went down for a fourth time thanks to, in truth, a relatively nothing punch but when fatigue sets in, it’s a killer. Despite getting up and protesting the legality of the shot, the fight was ultimately waved off with the challenger looking dazed and distraught.

Although unlucky to be stopped by a punch which replays showed to be to the back of the head, he was exhausted and didn’t realistically look like winning the fight so perhaps it was a case of pulling him out before any major damage had been caused.

If bravery won you world titles then Conlan would have bags of them but, unfortunately for him, the fight went to Jerwin Ancajas owing to a 6th round knockout that took him to 28-1, stamping his mark as, arguably, the number one super-flyweight in the world.

Paddy Barnes’ defence of his WBO European title failed to materialize and instead the flyweight fighter fought Eliecer Quezada (21-6) from Nicaragua for the WBO Inter-Continental title.

Looking to his extend his record to 5-0, The Leprechaun knew he’d have to put in a better performance than the one he showed against Juan Hinostroza – a fight in which he admits he was less than impressive – if he were to get past the much underrated 26 year old in the opposing corner.

Scheduled for 10 rounds Quezada looked light on his feet despite being the heavier of the two fighters – weighing in 2.5lbs over the flyweight limit – bouncing around the ring with the first minute seeing very little in way of punches landed.

The taller, rangier fighter kept Barnes at bay for much of the first round with a constant switch from southpaw to orthodox stance but Quezada lay open to the faster hands, as opposed to feet, of his opponent who connected with successive flurries of jabs to the body.
Just as the bell came in to signal the end of the first round a clash of heads between the boxers left the Nicaraguan biting the inside of his mouth and holding his mouth guard but, other than that, no damage caused.

A somewhat stop-start round followed with Barnes attempting to suss out the experienced man opposite him but keeping busy with adept footwork before rocking Quezada with a good right hand; the legs wobbled and The Leprechaun pounced on the opportunity to land hard with speed and accuracy to fatigue the former WBA Fedecentro Light Flyweight champion.

In the final 15 seconds of the round, a short chopping right hand came cascading into the cheek of Quezada as Barnes recorded his first professional knockdown, the fighter made the count rather laboriously but started the next round looking groggy.

And the Irish Olympic and Commonwealth medallist showed his full range of capabilities as he stood in the middle of the ring trading with his man, reigning shots in with a degree of controlled recklessness; unsteady legs set in for Quezada in the concluding 30 seconds of round three but despite this landed a successful right hand of his own that kept Barnes in check.

Square feet and punching fresh air sapped the energy out of the travelling fighter as the Belfast man maintained his patience in waiting for a natural opening as opposed to forcing the cause. Both fighters took a relative breather in the fourth round but it was Barnes who maintained in control of the bout before unleashing some passionate punches towards the backend.

A performance that appeared exponentially more mature than any we’d previously seen, this fifth professional fight seemed to be an opportunity to showcase his skills for a potential world title challenge but in the middle round he was given his last warning for a low-blow, although a minor infringement it must be said.

Following that the Nicaraguan connected with his best shots of the fight, leaning in with his whole body and jumping into some shots with real venom – a good spell of sustained pressure saw Quezada land with headshots and garner a foothold in the fight, was momentum shifting in his favour?

A rallying Quezada managed to survive a furious onslaught of punches from his opponent four years older than him but the agony on his face was plain to see as Barnes managed to regain his composure and landed a sensational left hook cracking the ribs of the Nicaraguan.

Sinking to the canvas in a manner more like he’d been shot by a sniper, the writing was on the wall as he hit the floor for the second time in the fight. Set up by a left hook to the head, the quick change down to the body proved to be the end of the fight as, referee, Steve Grey counted out The Huricane in the 6th round as Paddy Barnes recorded his first ever knockout from his 5-0 record.

An ever burgeoning army of fans, the WBO Inter-Continental Flyweight title and a Top 10 ranking for The Leprechaun, it’s fair to say the future is looking pretty bright for this amateur-turned-pro sensation.

In the other World Title bout on the show, Zolani Tete was defending his WBO Bantamweight title against Siboniso Gonya and during the build-up had vowed to give his fellow South African a maximum of four rounds before knocking him out.

At 25-3, the two-weight World Champion went into the ring, on the back of a Unanimous Decision win against Arthur Villanueva, at 8st 5.5lbs whilst the challenger, who’s last win was against Immanuel Naidjala, was slightly lighter weighing in at 8st 4lbs.

On paper Tete was the heavy favourite, possessing the greater knockout power with 20 of 25 victories finishing early as well as a 3inch reach advantage to help dictate the pace of the bout.

Looking for a unification scrap with Ryan Burnett, Tete wasted no time in storming out of the blocks, leaping into the centre of the canvas. Gonya had no time to settle himself into any sort of game plan and Tete landed a flush right hook around he guard to the chin of the challenger on the six second mark.

Down went Gonya in what initially looked like a flash knockdown and, indeed, Phil Edwards began the count before the sudden realisation that the, previously, 11-1 fighter was out cold upon impact; the fight was waved off and concern grew as to the welfare of the KwaZulu-Natal resident who laid motionless for about 40 seconds.

Having displayed such explosive, raw, ability in the short 11 seconds that this fight lived it’s clear to see why Tete remains such an avoided boxer with very few men willing to get into the ring with such a risky fighter who can turn it on in an instant.

Subject to confirmation, the one-fight punch goes down in history as the shortest (in terms of time) World title fight of all time and Zolani Last Born Tete moved to 26-3 before remaining humble in his post-fight interview, even in his call-out of Burnett, as he sets up a potential Bantamweight unification showdown in 2018.

An honourable mention for Jono Carroll who was given a late setback when Declan Geraghty pulled out of their rematch and, instead, he fought (15-4) Humberto de Santiago for the IBF Inter-Continental Super Featherweight title.

Keeping the pressure high from the beginning it was an absolute brawl from Carroll who was twice warned for low blows but went for the kill as soon as the first bell went and a gritty, gutsy, display earned himself only his second ever professional knockout victory to move to 15-0 courtesy of a 3rd round stoppage.

Also on the card former ABA Champion Alex Dickinson looked lacklustre as he advanced to 3-0 in the heavyweight division thanks to an scrappy points decision against, a journeyman who came to trade, Milen Paunov to make it 3 knockouts from 3 fights; Marco McCullogh beat Josh Baillie (5-3) in his first fight since losing in a British title fight against Ryan Walsh as the featherweight made it 18 and 4; and cruiserweight up-and-comer Tommy McCarthy successfully broke down Blaise Mendouo over 6 rounds to improve his record to 11-1.

A brilliant Belfast barnstormer filled with pure boxing beauty saw 11,000 Irish fans singing loud and proud at the return of an Irish hero, the birth of another and one brave brother who gave it all but came up just short.

Conlan will come back stronger though, don’t doubt that and Ireland is THE place to watch going into 2018 – Frampton, Barnes, both Conlan’s and, of course, the potential for a unification between Zolani Tete and Ryan Burnett.

No-one does it better than the Irish, why did we ever doubt it?

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BoxNation World Championship Boxing Preview: The Return of Carl Frampton


By: Oliver McManus

Boxing returns to Belfast in a couple of weeks’ time with Carl Frampton returning to the ring for his first fight in Northern Ireland since February 2015.

With two World Title fights on the bill, it’s hard to decipher who the real headline act is but a cracking night of action is guaranteed on Saturday 18th. Promoted by Frank Warren and live on BT Sport & BoxNation, the card features Zolani Tete, Jamie Conlan, Paddy Barnes, Darryll Williams and, of course, The Jackal himself.

Jerwin Ancajas defends his IBF World Super Flyweight against, Belfast’s own, Jamie Conlan; Ancajas has been steadily building up his profile in the Asian hemisphere, having captured the title back in September last year against McJoe Arroyo – since then he’s made two defences against Jose Alfredo Rodriguez and Teiru Kinoshita, to move his record 27-1-1.

Jamie Conlan will be in his first fight for 8 months, his last runout saw him take the vacant WBC International Silver title to move him up to 4th in the IBF Rankings and 3rd with the WBO. 19 and 0 with 11 knockouts, Conlan has already won the Commonwealth Super Flyweight Title as well as an array of Continental belts but gets his first World Title shot at the age of 31.

Conlan will be facing his first southpaw since, journeyman, Elemir Rafael way back in January 2012 so he could find it tricky to deal with Ancajas’ cagey nature in the opening rounds but will look to get on the front foot quickly, establishing his open stature and giving room for his sharp, snappy, right hand.

Ancajas, known as Pretty Boy, has built a growing reputation based on a patient fighting blueprint with deceptive knockout power. With a strong, powerful, right hand jab, he’s capable of keeping his opponent at length before turning on the fast, flashy, footwork to throw a trademark left hand hook.

His movement is unquestionably better than Conlan who has often been criticised for being “flat-footed”, and Ancajas’ lucid body movement could prompt flush air-shots from The Mexican.

Nonetheless Conlan always comes ready for a scrap, a brawl, and is never afraid to just let shots fly if he feels the heat start to crank up – home advantage is nothing to be sniffed and with 11,000 Irish fans roaring him on, you could do worse than put your money on the 11/4 priced amateur legend.

Carl Frampton is next up, he’ll be facing Horacio Garcia – a fringe fighter from Mexico, with a 33-3-1 record. Scheduled for 10 rounds, this will be the 30 year old’s first bout since his majority decision loss against Leo Santa Cruz in their second encounter.

With Frampton’s previous fight cancelled after his opponent, Andreas Gutierrez, suffered facial cuts and broken teeth the night before their clash, this will be his first bout under MTK management and with promoter Frank Warren.
Although The Jackal, with a record of 23-1, narrowly missed the weight for that postponed battle, he’s decided to stay at the Featherweight division and a convincing win against the 27 year old Mexican could set him up for an instant return to World level and, indeed, a tantalising trilogy with Santa Cruz.

Horacio Garcia seems an uninspired choice of opponent given that he’s never competed at anything higher than regional level – he’s challenged twice for NABF titles but never taken home the belt. Consider that less than 4 months ago he was outboxed over 8 rounds by Diuhl Olguin (at the time 11-6-3) and it’s clear that Garcia is already on the downward slide.

Carl Frampton will be looking to go through the motions once more and shake off any ring rust that he may be suffering; having reduced his sparring workload by ½ in order to prevent lasting brain injuries, any competitive rounds under his belt will always be useful but the 2-time World Champion will want to utilise his fast, flying hands, to make a statement to the rest of the division.

Having already conquered the Featherweight and Super Bantamweight divisions, should Frampton come through this with ease and go on to avenge his sole loss, we could see him attempt to become Northern Ireland’s first ever three-weight World Champion and capture the crown of the Super Featherweight division.

Also on the card is the WBO World Bantamweight Title fight between, the champion, Zolani Tete and, challenger, Siboniso Gonya; Tete was installed as champion following Shohei Omori’s transition to Super Bantamweight, having already captured the interim title against Arthur Villanueva in April this year.

Born in South Africa but fighting in the United Kingdom, Last Born has quickly been adopted by the city of Liverpool as one of their own – in no part hindered by his explosive power and all-round cheeky nature.

Fighting from a southpaw stance, Tete has been with Frank Warren since March 2015 and has been described as a “modern day road warrior”. With a come-forward style, the two-time World Champion has a fast fighting nature and utilises two quick straight jabs before unleashing a sharp under-hand hook.

Not one to be involved in boring, slow fights, Tete has on occasion literally jumped around the ring and is as evasive as he is powerful with opponents finding it near on impossible to connect with any real power shots – from his 25-3 record, the Eastern Cape fighter has suffered just one knockout defeat, to Moruti Mthalane in the 5th round way back 7 years ago.

Since then his jaw has more than improved to the point where he is, in my opinion, the number one bantamweight in the world.

Siboniso Gonya, on the other hand, is a relative novice to the fighting world with a mere 12 professional fights consisting of 11 wins a singular loss – incurred against Thabo Siswane, a point’s decision against the overwhelming favourite.

Since that defeat 4 years ago, Gonya has fought for, and defended, the WBA Pan African Bantamweight Title on 3 occasions with the two defences coming by way of knockout. His last fight came in April against, former World Title challenger, Immanuel Naidjala and having overcame the roaring away crowd in Namibia, Gonya took a unanimous decision over The Prince to prove his pedigree.

And that’s the thing because despite the fact literally no-one will have heard of Siboniso Gonya before, he is a very good fighter who’s definitely worth of a shot at Tete’s title; the fact it’s going to domestic dustup only adds to the intrigue and Gonya is going to throw some shots in the early stages before, I suspect, eventually falling fowl to Zolani Tete’s superior power and movement.

Also on the card and getting an honourable mention is Darryll Williams (16-0) who defends his English Super-Middleweight title against Birmingham’s Lennox Clarke (15-0-1), having come through to sensational fights with Jahmaine Smyle in April & July of this year. Clarke is 18 months younger at 26 but has no real names on his record thus far – although both men share a 1st round knockout over Richard Horton – despite that though, this fight feels like a 50-50 because both men will be giving it there all. A real burner in Belfast, bring it on!

Paddy Barnes features in his 5th professional fight, he’ll be attempting to gain his first ever knockout against an as-yet unnamed opponent slated for his first defence of the WBO European Flyweight title that he won against Silvio Olteanu back in June. By his own admission, his last outing against Juan Hinostroza was not a vintage performance from the Olympic bronze medallist and The Leprechaun will be looking to shake off some rustiness before building to a potential World Title shot towards the back end of 2018.

A thrilling card that promises not to disappoint, the SSE Arena is going to be absolutely bouncing come Saturday 18th with 11,000 Irishman cheering on their hero Carl Frampton as well as revelling in two, top-class world title clashes.

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Conlon Wins Pro Debut As McGregor Proclaims He’ll Take Over Boxing


Conlon Wins Pro Debut As McGregor Proclaims He’ll Take Over Boxing
By: Sean Crose

Super bantamweight Michael Conlon had quite a pro debut for himself on Friday night in New York. Entering the ring in grand Irish fashion while being accompanied by MMA star Conor McGregor (who, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN, started screaming at some point during the evening about how he was going to take over boxing), the Belfast native was treated to a hero’s welcome at the Theater in Madison Square Garden. The wildly pro Conlon crowd cheered as if he was battling in his native Ireland rather than on the eastern American seaboard. His opponent? Tim Ibarra, an unknown with a record of 4-4. People weren’t at the Garden to see an epic match. They were there to watch a decorated amateur with a promising future make his first foray into the pro ranks.

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Conlon instigated the action with one/two, jab/right hand combinations. Ibarra, however, didn’t offer much in the way of a challenge. Conlon looked sharper in the second and was was clearly determined to impress in his first big league bout. He was somewhat slower than one might expect, and perhaps his timing was a bit off, but the guy was dominating nonetheless. What’s more, Conlon showed as the fight entered the first half of the third round that he could do some damage to the body.

That damage gave way to head shots that Conlon started landing throughout the course of the third with alarming frequency. With just over a minute to go in the round, Benjy Estevez, the referee, stepped in and halted the bout. Ibarra had, simply put, become a punching bag. Conlon jumped on the ropes and spread out his arms as if he had just won a world title…and the crowd ate it up. So, how was this well regarded prospects’ debut? Not bad. Conlon showed he could hit – though it took him a bit of whaling on a man who wasn’t really fighting back to get the job done.

Conlon also showed determination, which is of primary importance. Here was a fighter who clearly wanted to put the world on notice. And as a potential money earner, Conlon certainly did just that. The man is bold, he’s Irish and he’s not without talent. That, as his friend McGregor could tell anyone, is catnip to contemporary American audiences. Still, Conlon certainly didn’t appear to be breathtakingly impressive in a professional fight. It’s a tall order to be breathtakingly impressive, though. Only a rarefied few can reek of greatness their first time out. And besides, time is on Conlon’s side – along with some big name support. Time, however, will also tell if the hype surrounding the man is legitimate.

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The Pride of Ireland: Michael Conlan


The Pride of Ireland: Michael Conlan
By: Francisco Martinez

St. Patrick’s Day only comes once a year and this year you can bank on it that Michael Conlan’s debut will be one not to forget as the start of a promising career officially begins. Michael, or Mick, Micky as some call him enjoyed his 1st U.S. media day in Los Angeles, California but definitely not new to this media attention “I’m used to it. I like it. It’s just natural for me. It’s another part of the game and you got to enjoy what you do”

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With an estimate of 2 thousand family, friends, fans and supporters making the trip for Michael Conlan’s massive debut in the Theater at the Madison Square Garden this is what Conlan says they can expect from his pro debut “I’m gonna give them some entertainment. Some excitement and a happy ending and a nice party after” making it sound more like a concert than a boxing fight as the charismatic Conlan plans to treat his family and friends to an unforgettable March 17th Top Rank promotions show in New York.

Not even 1 fight into their careers, Michael Conlan & Shakur Stevenson already seem to be in a crash course to a mega showdown as promoter, the legendary Bob Arum is aiming for with his two new young guns who became part of Arum’s young stable additions to the likes of WBO 126lbs champion Oscar Valdez, WBO 122lbs champion Jessie Magdaleno, who both Conlan and Stevenson have sparred and WBO 168lbs champion Gilberto Zurdo Ramirez. BoxingInsider picked the brains of both Conlan & Stevenson just to see where they stand on this little rivalry that has been sparked by their promoter Bob Arum.

“I feel like me and Michael Conlan have some unfinished business that we didn’t get to handle in Brazil so, Michael Conlan is a great fighter and I like his style. I love his boxing style he a technician also and the fans are gonna want to see that, so…” says the young enthusiastic 2016 Olympic silver medalist, Shakur Stevenson. Kind but competitive words of his rival Michael Conlan who replied by saying “He’s a nice respectful kid. It’s a potential fight and I’m happy with that. That’s good for me down the line that’s a money fight. Everybody is in this business to make money so that’s a fight I would want. I rate him as a fighter and he’s a real good fighter. Very skillful so, it’s a fight that I really want and I’m really happy he signed with Top Rank so it’s possible for a future fight”

Conlan goes on to systematically break down Stevenson’s style “He’s very defensive. He’s a box fighter. More defensive very up right, shoulder roll kind of stance but I’m sure, I’m confident that I would have beat him in the Olympics. I’m confident I’ll beat him now. I’m confident I’ll beat him in the future so no matter what happens I’ll be ready when the time comes. I got the best team around me. The best management team, the best promotional team and the best coaching team so I have nothing to fear. I’m ready for anyone so bring it on”

In regards to St. Patrick’s Day being an Irish exclusive holiday and time of celebration it’s a no brainer that his debut will benefit from this Irish contingency as Michael Conlan would like to make this date an annual date in his career a lot like when Floyd Mayweather Jr. took over the Mexican dates of May & September. Dates that now belong to Saul Canelo Alvarez. Conlan says “I want to hold St. Patrick’s Day in the Garden every single year. That’s what I want, I want that to be my day and this is the start of it and it will continue. I feel it’s probably the best day in the year to fight in the Garden and maybe 2 years, 3 years time we’ll be fighting in the big Garden and that’s my aim. I want to sell it out in a world title”

Most should be informed by now that Michael Conlan has the co-sign of the great MMA fighter and fellow Irish countryman in Conor McGregor who will walk him out for his pro debut upon the request of Conlan who McGregor was kind enough to accommodate for his wishes. Conlan first came across McGregor by helping him select sparring for one of his fights with Nate Diaz. Now if we dig a little deeper into this friendship between Conlan & McGregor we’ll find a little truth to the so much talked about dream showdown between McGregor and Mayweather.

A fight that has grasp the attention of both sports and Mayweather who’s really pushing for this fight as he sees some serious dollar signs at the end of this tunnel. Perhaps a bigger pay day than a rematch with Manny Pacquiao and a bigger pay day than the actual 1st fight with Pacquiao which netted Mayweather something along the lines of $300 million. Even though some are critical of this possible circus act that will surely entertain we’re not sure how much this fight is really possible. However rumors as of late say the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas has been put on hold which only makes this dream scenario a more concrete one than ever before.

Michael Conlan shares a little insight as to who Conor McGregor is as a person and a little on how McGregor feels about a potential bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. “He’s a guy who believes in his ability and if he gets the Mayweather fight 100% he believes he’ll win” as for possibly helping McGregor prepare for a fight inside of the ring other than the octagon Conlan said he wouldn’t sparr him “He’s too big. He’s like 170lbs at the minute or 180lbs. He’s a big man. His hands are like two sizes bigger than mine”

Michael Conlan previewed his speed, power & skills in front of dozens of media members and from what we saw the talent level in him is an extraordinary one. Great chemistry with trainer Manny Robles. Both being fond of each other as they competed in the World Boxing Series a few years back and managed to catch each other’s attention with their respective abilities as trainer and fighter. Fast forward a few years later now both a team and one that will surely be a great hit and formula for great success in boxing.

Tune in March 17th live in the Theater at the Madison Square Garden in New York, St. Patrick’s Day for the massive debut of this young future legend, the pride of Ireland, Michael Conlan.

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Michael Conlan: Luck of the Irish


Michael Conlan: Luck of the Irish
By: Francisco Martinez

Bronze medalist and 2x Olympian amateur standout Michael Conlan debuts March 17th in New York at the Madison Square Garden on a Friday that so happens to land on a St. Patrick’s Day but this time around as we tap into our inner Irishman and drink a pint or two we will be treated to a memorable Top Rank promotions event. Headlined by the young lad Conlan who many remember from this past year’s 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro where Conlan was favored to bring back gold to his home country of Belfast, Northern Ireland but instead the young Irish hopeful saw his dreams of Olympic gold shattered in what he felt was a decision influenced by AIBA corruption.

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Now the highly touted Top Rank promotions signee sets his eyes on a road to a different kind of gold. A world title that former pugilist and now Conlan’s manager Matthew Macklin expects from his young eccentric fighter “I think Michael will go all the way. Guaranteed he’d be world champion. He’s a special talent and I think by the people at Top Rank he’ll be maneuvered into a PPV star” high expectations not just from his manager but his brother as well, current WBO Inter-Continental 115lbs champ Jamie Conlan “I get more nervous for him than when I fight myself. It’s because it’s outta my control. I do believe he is the best fighter in the world. He was the best amateur in the world. He’s just now coming, he’s a rookie in the pros but he’s come to the right man who’s gonna bring him along perfectly. I believe in Manny (Robles) and what I’ve learned in these 3 weeks or more, over 3 weeks of being out here (in Los Angeles) in their environment is that he certainly in the right hands. In really good hands with Manny who’s not gonna rush him. He is building him along perfectly and slowly but surely will mature him into a world champion”

Being about 5 thousand miles away from home Michael Conlan is not too far from his comfort zone having been joined by fellow lads in brother Jamie Conlan, Tyrone McKenna & 2 time Olympic bronze medalist Paddy Barnes who are set to fight on February 18th along with his fiancé & daughter who are key to his journey as a fighter “It’s great having them here it does make me feel at home…my fiancé & daughter are here and for me that’s very important. I don’t think I would be able to be on this journey without them. Having them here it’s very important to me”

BoxingInsider.com: “Being from Ireland how have you adapted now here in California? How do you take to the change? The Culture?”

Michael Conlan: “Its great. I think since I’ve started working with Manny since November, when we got together I think it was instant. A great connection right away. It usually takes me a long time to get used to a new coach but with Manny I was ready. The first day I was in the gym I felt we were used to each other already so that was great for me. The lifestyle out here you can’t beat it. It’s the sun. Once you wake up to the sunny weather it’s a lot easier than when you are in Ireland waking up to rain everyday or else a cold morning. So when you wake up to the sun you’re always gonna be happy so I’m happy to be here”

BoxingInsider.com: “Manny do you feel the same about the connection with Michael?”

Manny Robles: “Absolutely, absolutely. He’s a kid that is humble. Very important in a individual. This kid is a good kid. We’re dealing with a good boxer but more important than anything else more important than dealing with a good boxer is we’re dealing with a good human being. It’s always nice to be around talent of course. Talented fighters like Michael but now that I’ve had a chance to meet his dad (who came from Ireland) I can understand why he’s such a good kid. His dad has done a great job raising him and keeping him grounded. That’s the most important thing. Everything else, the talent is extra”

Michael Conlan: “Fighting is (the) fun time. This is (the) hard work. Fighting is where we go and have fun and we do what we have practiced. What we put into practice and we get the victory we’ll enjoy it. Unlike when you gotta wake up and your body is in pain and you come in here and Manny beats the shit outta you on the pads. That’s the hard work. That’s where it all stems from you know. When you have a good coach like him pushing you every single day what more do you want?”

After a controversial decision in Rio 2016 that shattered his dreams of Olympic gold Michael Conlan expressed his even more controversial thoughts & emotions regarding the judges questionable decision by calling them “cheats” & “cheating bastards” which only made matters worse as the AIBA in return hitting him with a hefty fine of €9,300 euros. These past Olympics also saw the removable of a combined 36 referees & judges pending an internal investigation that lasted about a 4 month period . Having had his differences with AIBA Conlan had this to say about the final results of the AIBA investigation claiming no foul play.

“I think it’s shit to be honest. I think it’s bullshit because the judges are still sacked. They’re not coming back. I think they have found something but they don’t want to admit wrong doing cause it opens up, it kind of ruins it for everybody”

For those casual boxing fans who don’t know Michael Conlan’s style or have never seen him fight manager Matthew Macklin describes him as a complete fighter as he goes on to say “I think he’s a pretty complete fighter. He can box, that’s probably his best attribute he’s a really good boxer. He’s really smart. He’s tall for his weight. He hits quite hard but he can also sit in the pocket and fight in the inside and his experience and his self belief. He really believes in himself which is key. He really, really does believe in himself and he’s backed it up. He’s a bronze medalist as a 20 year old in the Olympics. He was commonwealth (games) gold medalist. European (amateur championships) gold medalist and best boxer of the tournament, world amateur champion. He should’ve won the gold medal, we believe in Rio. He lost out in the quarter finals to a very, very bad decision. So his international experience is 2nd to none and he has the right team around him. He’s got a great stable here at the rock gym (in Carson, CA) great sparring, Oscar Valdez (WBO 126lbs champion) Jessie Magdaleno (WBO 122lbs champion) just to name 2. I think everything is going right for him”

There’s high expectations from everyone in Michael Conlan’s team as a whole but it also seems the young lad has gotten the stamp of approval by fellow Irishman UFC PPV star Conor McGregor who promised to carry the Irish flag upon walking him out into the ring for his massive debut. With all this going into Conlan’s pro debut it can only make you anticipate what future plans legendary promoter Bob Arum may have for Conlan given the huge success Arum has had not just with Mexican & American fighters but foreign pugilists as well having produce Manny Pacquiao one of boxing’s biggest PPV stars and Vasyl Lomachenko considered my many to be pound for pound the best fighter alive today. Tune in March 17th St. Patrick’s Day in Manhattan, New York at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, the Mecca Of Boxing for Michael Conlan’s debut set to be Televised on UniMas.

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Why Carl Frampton Is Not My Fighter Of The Year


Why Carl Frampton Is Not My Fighter Of The Year
By: Sean Crose

Okay, first things first – there’s something a bit misleading about the title of this article. The truth is that I don’t have a FIGHTER OF THE YEAR, per se. Indeed, you won’t find me listing the greatest fights, fighters, knockouts, and whatever else here at Boxing Insider. Not that I mind writers bestowing such honors. To the contrary, I often find the whole exercise fascinating. Again, though, you won’t see me engaging in it here – at least not this year. Still, I don’t feel Carl Frampton is worthy of the honor anywhere – even though I like the guy.

Photo Credit: Andy Samuelson/Premier Boxing Champions

There’s no doubt the Irishman has had a hell of a year for himself. First, he defeated Scott Quigg for various superbantmweight titles last winter. Then , in a terrific display, the 22-0 slugger went on to defeat fellow undefeated pugilist – and WBA super world featherweight champion – Leo Santa Cruz under the bright lights of Brooklyn. Furthermore, Frampton is now set to face off against Santa Cruz again, this time in Vegas, next month. And, as a cherry to place atop the sundae, Frampton also comes across as a polite and likeable guy. To be sure, there isn’t much not to like.

Still, I can’t think of Frampton without the name of one Guillermo Rigondeaux popping into my head. To be sure, Frampton and superbantamweight Rigondeaux now operate at different weight classes. That wasn’t always the case, though. Indeed, there has been interest in having the two men meet over the years. Sadly, however, team Frampton clearly wants nothing to do with the Cuban stylist. Indeed, Sky Sports quoted Frampton’s manager, Barry McGuigan, last March referring to Guillermo as “negative.” Uh-huh. “What do we gain by fighting him?” McGuigan asked.

Perhaps not much more than a loss, Barry. Rigondeaux is exceedingly skilled, after all. Still, ducking one of the world’s top talents shouldn’t be taken lightly. Yes, Rigondeaux can be boring and no he hasn’t endeared himself to a strong fan base. What’s more, Rigondeaux may cause Frampton to lose out on future pay days, should he make Frampton look bad. Make no mistake about it, avoiding Rigondeaux is understandable, especially when one is repeatedly willing to face the likes of Santa Cruz, as Frampton is. Yet there are consequences for such actions, as well. At least there should be.

There’s no doubt that Frampton is an impressive talent. It should not be forgotten, however, that he has avoided a perhaps even greater talent on his way to earning accolades.

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Olympic Stunner: Ireland’s Barnes Falls To Spain’s Heredia


Olympic Stunner: Ireland’s Barnes Falls To Spain’s Heredia
By: Sean Crose

During last week’s opening Olympic ceremony in Rio, Ireland’s Paddy Barnes carried his nation’s flag. On Monday the 29 year old was figuratively sent packing when he lost a split decision to Spain’s 20 year old Samuel Carmona Heredia. A close fight, it was ultimately settled in the third and final round by Heredia’s slippery skill. Needless to say, fans of Olympic boxing were treated to a major upset. For, popular and experienced, Barnes was looking for a third medal after earning the Bronze in both China and England. Sadly for the Irishman, however, it simply wasn’t mean to be this time around.

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The media, which likes to use the same words and phrases in different outlets (so much for individuality) have taken hold of the word “shock” to describe Barnes’ fall to earth. Was Barnes’ himself shocked, however? Truly, it appears a dark truth occurred to the Belfast fighter during the bout. “To be honest, I felt good getting into the ring today,” the Independent quotes Barnes as saying after the loss. “But, to be honest with you, at the end of that first round, my energy was completely gone.” Still, the man made it clear he felt terrible after the loss.

“I’m absolutely devastated,” he admitted, claiming he had been “the favorite for gold.” Yet the light flyweight still had a final, devastating comment to add. “Just as well I got beaten,” he said, “because I would have been embarrassed next week.” A harsh assessment to be sure, but perhaps an honest one from a man who clearly claimed to have weight issues. That doesn’t take anything away from Spain’s Heredia, however. One doesn’t simply stun the world in a boxing match because one fighter has issues. It takes two, after all, to create an upset of such magnitude.

Needless to say, social media was ablaze after the fight.

“Anyway,” fellow Irish boxer Michael Conlon tweeted, “Paddy Barnes is a Legend of Irish sport and always will be! Done a lot more for Ireland than most ever will! #UpBarnes #Legend”

“Absolutely gutted for my mate @paddyb_ireland,” tweeted Irish star Carl Frampton.”I know how much he wanted that and how much he’s put in to these Olympics. Still a hero”

If there’s one fact that’s plainly obvious this week it’s that boxing will be more than a series of staid formalities at this year’s Olympics. Although Barnes’ loss is clearly hard on both he and his fans, some intrigue has now been injected into the ring in Rio. The unexpected, in short, has happened.

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After A Brilliant Victory, Frampton Publicly Declares He’ll Keep Avoiding Rigondeaux


After A Brilliant Victory, Frampton Publicly Declares He’ll Keep Avoiding Rigondeaux
By: Sean Crose

Why, Carl Frampton, why?

You looked so good on Saturday night against Leo Santa Cruz! Indeed, you looked brilliant. Sure enough, I said aloud that I thought you might be able to actually beat Guillermo Rigondeaux if you two should some way, somehow, get around to actually fighting. You made it clear after beating Santa Cruz convincingly that you still wouldn’t be facing Rigo, however…you just wouldn’t. Fair enough, but make no mistake about it, this avoidance of a gifted foe will follow you around. Count on it.

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For while the internet makes life easier for people, it also makes for longer memories. There will always be a tweet or post out there to remind people that you avoided the best competition available. In short, people won’t forget. Perhaps you don’t care. You indicated after the Santa Cruz fight that you’ve got a family to support, after all, and that you need to focus on money. Again, fair enough, but just remember that you’re making a lot more than the average boxing fan right now. A lot more. You’ve also got the looks and personality to have a successful career around the fight game after you retire – so long, of course, as you keep your brains about you.

Oh, and claiming you don’t want to fight Rigo because the match will be boring is lame. Honestly, it sounds like a cop out. Saying, as you did, that you “would fight anyone,” except that you “want to be involved in exciting fights,” smells, frankly, like a duck. Sure, Rigo can be boring. Really boring. Every honest person can admit as much – but he’s in your general weight realm and most think he’s better than you. Although that puts you in a sticky position, it is what it is.

Look, there’s a lot to like about you, Carl Frampton. You’re a gentleman and you’re a hell of a fighter – two things boxing always needs. There’s no doubt you’re physically brave, but it looks like you’ve got a world class case of career fear, even now, during what may well be your crowning ring achievement. And while it’s true there’s good reason for you to have that uneasiness, you’re a professional boxer and professional boxers don’t look good when they obviously avoid tough competition. That’s even true in this day and age.

Again, it’s easy to sympathize with you on this, Carl. For Rigo is indeed the ultimate high risk, low reward opponent. You’re an athlete, however, and an athlete who avoids a legitimate challenge tarnishes his legacy. And that’s something to think about.

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Replace UFC’s Conor McGregor with Reptile & Floyd Mayweather Match Gets Interesting


Replace UFC’s Conor McGregor with Reptile & Floyd Mayweather Match Gets Interesting
By Ivan G. Goldman

Floyd Mayweather in a cross-sport showdown with MMA scrapper Conor McGregor? Nah, I’ve got something better. Why doesn’t Floyd wrestle an alligator?

Gators, being lizards, are pretty dumb and you could probably find one who’d settle for only 30 or 40 percent of the pay-per-view money. And as my colleague Matthew Becher pointed out to me in an email, if Floyd gets himself a Chinese alligator it would have even more trouble reading all those contract clauses.

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Also, Chinese alligators, I’m told, weigh about 80 pounds while U.S. gators can get up to 500 – quite a lot for any welterweight to handle.

Whatever gator you choose, the match puts Floyd back on the sports pages where he wants to be and also a little change in the pocket of his advisor Al Haymon, who’s besieged with legal fees while his grand idea of a PBC empire collapses all around him.

Not that I’m praying for a PBC collapse. I like the PBC. I look upon it as a Robin Hood-tinged organization that takes money from the fat-cat investors of investment colossus Waddell & Reed and distributes a lot of it among prizefighters and their teams (with a nice little slice going to boxing godfather Haymon). But I digress.

Apparently some media agitator named Colin Cowherd has announced that his sources indicate Mayweather-McGregor is all set for September. His sources are so dug in and important that he labels them as “intel.” And an MMA site says rumors of the match – this is an exact quote now – are “running rampant.” Wow.

Clearly these MMA folks have never tried to get Mayweather to sign a contract. They’re in for quite an experience. But I say let’s put a stop to this madness while we consider the benefits of substituting a gator for McGregor. McGregor, my Wikipedia intel informs me, is a UFC champion from Ireland who’s a big, trash-talking draw and has never defended his featherweight title.

And apparently he’s smart enough to know that his income might rise astronomically if he could get the retired Mayweather into a ring or cage or something, Mayweather being, of course, the best-paid fighter of all time, a guy who earned some $400 million to defeat Manny Pacquiao in a dull contest the world looked forward to for years. Not that the world wanted the contest to be dull. But let’s not get into that again.

The proposed McGregor match would apparently be fought under prizefighting rules, making him a goner. Mayweather reportedly said once that MMA is a sport for white boys who couldn’t make it in boxing, but I will not comment on this beautifully crafted thought. McGregor isn’t the first MMA champion to offer a circus challenge to Mayweather. So did Ronda Rousey before she got knocked out by Holly Holm.

Superbly skilled prizefighter James Toney, aging and down on his luck, entered a cage against Randy Couture and lost toot sweet under MMA rules.

Muhammad Ali once opposed a Japanese wrestler named Antonio Anoki and Anoki spent much of the night scuttling around the canvas like a turtle on his back and kicking at Ali’s legs. Ali circled him and didn’t throw a punch until round seven. The event went the distance of 15 rounds, was called a draw and was one of the biggest entertainment duds of the 20th century.

Boxing is a special sport, as is MMA, and trying to mix them gets you into all sorts of quandaries about rules and such. It’s like trying to blend football and baseball.

Which is another reason I prefer an alligator. An alligator doesn’t give you any arguments. It doesn’t even care who enters the ring first, though it may demand some kind of national anthem. But these details are easily ironed out – as long as the gator doesn’t bite off more than he can chew.

Ivan G. Goldman’s 5th novel The Debtor Class is a ‘gripping …triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. A future cult classic with ‘howlingly funny dialogue,’ says Booklist. Available from Permanent Press wherever fine books are sold. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author.

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Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Pedraza vs. Smith, Hyland vs. Russell


Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Pedraza vs. Smith, Hyland vs. Russell
By: William Holmes

On Saturday night the Foxwoods Resort Casino will televised two world title fights live on Showtime as Gary Russell Jr. defends his WBC Featherweight Title against Patrick Hyland in the main event of the evening and Jose Pedraza defends his IBF Junior Lightweight Title against Stephen Smith.

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Other noted boxers will appear on the undercard including Antonio Russell in the bantamweight division as well as former light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson facing Cornelius White. Only two fights are currently scheduled to be televised on Showtime, but highlights of the undercard may be shown.

The following is a preview of both the televised championship fights.

Jose Pedraza (21-0) vs. Stephen Smith (23-1); IBF Junior Lightweight Title

Jose “The Sniper” Pedraza had some considerable hype when he turned a professional for he represented Puerto Rico in the 2008 Summer Olympics and medaled in several international events. He is the current IBF Junior Lightweight title holder and has a significant edge in amateur experience over his opponent Stephen Smith, despite the fact Smith won the gold medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games as an amateur.

Neither boxer is known for their power, as Pedraza has twelve knockouts on his record while Smith has thirteen. Pedraza is four years younger than Smith at twenty six years old. He will also have about a two inch height advantage as well as a four and a half inch reach advantage.

Smith has never fought outside of the United Kingdom and Saturday will be his first fight in the United States. Smith’s resume is lacking in big name victories, and his biggest wins to date were over Devis Boschiero, Mauricio Munoz, and Gary Buckland. Smith’s lone loss was by TKO to Lee Selby back in 2011.

Pedraza’s last victory was against Edner Cherry which he won by split decision. Other notable victories include Andrey Klimov, Michael Farenas, and Sergio Reyes.

This is a bout that Pedraza should win, quite easily. However, Pedraza has shown that he may have difficulty against crafty veterans as was evident in his bout against Edner Cherry. Unfortunately for Smith, he does not appear to have the power to catch Pedraza by surprise and he was stopped the last time he faced a big name opponent.

Gary Russell Jr. (26-1) vs. Patrick Hyland (31-1); WBC Featherweight Title

Gary Russell Jr. has a reputation for fighting boxers that are way overmatched, and Saturday night appears to be another fight that he should win easily.

Patrick Hyland is one half of the Hyland brothers and is more famous for his previous management deal with Snooki of MTV’s the Real World than for his actual boxing ability. Patrick was the better of the two Hyland brothers, but it appears he no longer has a working relationship with Snooki.

Both Hyland and Russell have fifteen knockouts on their resume. Hyland will have a significant height advantage as he is three and a half inches taller than Russell. Russell, however, is five years younger than Hyland.

Russell also holds an edge over Hyland in amateur experience. Russell qualified for the United States in the 2008 Olympics but failed to compete due to missing weight.

Despite the fact Russell has a reputation for fighting inferior opponents, he has a vastly better resume than Hyland. He has defeated the likes of Jhonny Gonzalez, Christopher Martin, Vyacheslav Gusev, and Christopher Perez. His lone loss was the current world champion and amateur standout Vasyl Lomachenko. Russell has two stoppage wins in his past five fights.

Hyland’s only notable victories came against Emmanuel Lucero and Frankie Arhculetta. His lone loss was to Javier Fortuna in 2012.

Hyland is the type of opponent that Russell should dispatch of easily. Russell does have problems when he’s facing someone that can match him in hand speed as was evident in his bout with Lomachenko, but Hyland will be outmatched in hand speed.

This is a bout that Russell should look incredible in, and it’s hard to envision a scenario where Hyland pulls off the upset.

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