By: Hans Themistode
The Jr Welterweight division is about as ruthless a weight class that you will find within the entire sport of boxing.
Just think, former champions Kiryl Relikh and Ivan Baranchyk are essentially afterthoughts. It isn’t because they aren’t great fighters, but it’s more so because of the talent pool that currently lies within the division.
With title holders Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor considered the best that the weight class has to offer, another pair of former champions are in need for a big win of their own.
Maurice Hooker and Regis Prograis are still recognized amongst the elite of the division. However, they came up short in their respective unification matchups. Now, with no other viable options, they have looked towards a matchup against one another.
Both men have made it a tendency to mention the other whenever the cameras are rolling. Knockout threats and “easy work” statements have been the theme of both fighters when regarding the other. Well now, it’s officially time to shut up and fight.
Terms for a contest between the pair has officially been agreed upon to take place on April 17th, at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
The Maryland based card won’t simply revolve around the main event as the supporting bout will be just as interesting.
Javier Fortuna, who once held titles at both the Featherweight and Jr Lightweight divisions will look to become a three division world champion when he takes on Luke Campbell for the vacant WBC title.
Since a contest against Adrian Granados which resulted in a no contest, Fortuna has gone on to win two straight contests. Campbell on other hand, represents the complete opposite as his career has fallen short of exceptions.
It’s safe to say that after winning gold in the 2012 Olympics, more was expected of Campbell. His career has been solid but not spectacular. He was given the first loss of his career back in 2015, surprisingly at the hands of Yvan Mendy. Campbell would avenge that loss three years later but questions still remained. In his two title challenges, he has come up woefully short against Jorge Linares and Vasiliy Lomachenko. The latter took place at the end of August in 2019.
For Campbell, he’ll be hoping that the third time’s the charm.
Regardless of who wins between Fortuna and Campbell, the winner could be forced to take on WBC champion in recess Devin Haney, who was stripped of the title due to a shoulder injury. Provided everything checks out from a health standpoint, and also that Haney doesn’t elect to move up in weight, the winner of this title could see their title reigns cut short if the highly touted Haney returns back to form.
By Rich Lopez
It was an action packed night at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The event was part of Premier Boxing Champions and it was televised on Fox Sports 1. All four fights that were televised produced fireworks and none of the fights went to distance.
The main event was in the junior middleweight division. Brian Castano (15-0-1, 11 KO’s) of Argentina, defeated Wale Omotoso (28-4, 22 KO’s) of Nigeria, by a 5th round TKO. This was a result due to a shoulder injury sustained by Omotoso. However, Castano was very impressive last night and he overwhelmed Omotoso. Round one was a feel out round for both fighters. Castano was more in control of the round but using an effective jab to back up Omotoso for most of the round. The action picked up in round two and Castano was in charge. He continued to back up Omotoso with his sharp left jab. This time Castano was putting his combinations together well. He was starting to land his right hand and he was landing some good body shots as well. In round three, Castano continued the assault and hammered away at Omotoso. Castano was reeling off right hands and landing left hooks to the chin of Omotoso. The durable Omotoso was taking it and was fighting back, but he was also taking a lot of damage. In round four, Omotoso fought a little better as he was boxing and moving well, but it was not enough to win the round. As round five started, Omotoso seemed to hurt his left shoulder. Castano sensing that Omotoso was hurt, still kept the pressure on by landing hard right hands. At the end of the round, Omotoso could no longer continue the fight due his hurt shoulder. Castano was awarded a TKO victory at 3:00 of round number five. Wale Omotoso, who goes by the nickname “Lucky Boy,” was not so lucky in this fight. With the victory, we can see Castano against the other top junior middleweights of the division. In the post-fight interview, Castano said he is ready for anyone.
Photo Credit: Javier Fortuna Twitter Account
The co-feature was in the lightweight division. Javier Fortuna (34-2-1, 24 KO’s) of the Dominican Republic, was also impressive last night. He blasted out Jesus Andres Cuellar (29-3, 22 KO’s) of Argentina in two rounds in a slug fest. In the opening round, Cuellar wasted no time and charged at Fortuna. Both southpaw fighters exchanged punches and went toe to toe. Towards the end of the round, Fortuna with his back against the ropes, landed a right hook that sent Cuellar flying on his back. Cuellar got up and was seriously hurt but was able to finish the round. In round two, Cuellar who only knows how to come forward, tried to bully Fortuna again. Fortuna was quicker and beat Cuellar to the punch. Once again with Fortuna against the ropes, he landed a straight left hand followed by a right hook to drop Cuellar again. Cuellar did get up but he was in really bad shape. Fortuna went for the finish landing power shots which prompted the referee to stop the fight. Fortuna scored the TKO at 2:01 of the second round. With the victory, Fortuna remains a force in the lightweight division. For Cuellar, it might be best to try to go back down in weight as he has been unsuccessful in the lightweight divisions.
In a bout before the co-feature, we got to see undefeated David Morrell Jr. (1-0, 1 KO) of Cuba, face off with Quinton Rankin (15-6-2, 12 KO’s) of Charlotte, NC. The fight was in the light heavyweight division scheduled for eight rounds. This was a big test for the Cuban standout but he made the fight look easy. The 21 year old Morrell started off fast. In round one, Morrell landed a nice right hand to the body that dropped Rankin. Rankin got up and Morrell went back to work. In round two, Morrell landed a straight left hand that wobbled Rankin. Morell then came underneath with crushing left uppercut that dropped Rankin again. The referee immediately stopped the fight. Morrell scored his second knockout at 1:01 of the 2nd round. Morell is starting off fast in his professional career as he was an outstanding amateur fighter. We will continue to see his progress in upcoming fights.
In the opening bout of the PBC telecast, Ryan “Cowboy” Karl (17-2, 11 KO’s) of Milano, TX, faced off with Bergman Aguilar (15-5-1, 5 KO’s) of Costa Rica. The fight was scheduled for ten rounds in the welterweight division. In round one, Aguilar came after Karl and both fighters started trading punches. As Karl was backing up Aguilar, Aguilar caught Karl with right hand and dropped him. Karl got up and the fighters started to trade punches. In round two, Karl had a better round. He backed up Aguilar for most of the round hammering Aguilar to the body. You can tell the body shots were wearing out Aguilar. In round three, Karl dropped Aguilar with a low blow. As the action continued, Karl stayed busy working the body of Aguilar. Karl continued his attack in round four. At the end of round four, Aguilar looked more tired. Karl remained in control of the fight in round five and continued to back up Aguilar. At the end of round five, Aguilar could not continue the fight due to a broken left hand. It was relieved that perhaps he broke his left hand in the 1st round after landing a hard jab on Karl in the replay. Karl was awarded a TKO victory at 3:00 in round five. This was Karl’s 3rd straight knockout.
By Rich Lopez
Fight fans will be treated with a lot of boxing action this weekend. Mostly everyone’s attention will be focused on the Canelo vs Kovalev fight in Las Vegas. Another action packed card will happen this weekend and it will take place at MGC National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Former lightweight title challenger and former super featherweight champion Javier Fortuna will be back in action. Also undefeated former super welterweight champion Brian Castano will be the co-feature of the night. The fights will be televised on Fox Sports as part of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC).
In the main event, Javier Fortuna will face off with Jesus Andres Cuellar for the vacant WBC Continental Americas Lightweight Title in a ten rounder.
Javier Fortuna (34-2-1, 23 KO’s) of the Dominican Republic, is seeking a major title shot in the lightweight division. The 30 year old southpaw had good runs in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions. Back in 2015, he won the vacant WBA Super Featherweight title against Bryan Vasquez. Fortuna lost his title against Jason Sosa the following year in 2016. Last year, Fortuna faced off with Robert Easter Jr for the IBF Lightweight title and lost a very close decision in a tough battle. Fortuna then moved up to the junior welterweight division and challenged Adrian Granados. That fight ended up in a no decision in bizarre circumstances as Fortuna fell out of the ring in the fourth round and could no longer continue. This year has been a better start for Fortuna, as he defeated Sharif Bogere in February by unanimous decision. Overall Fortuna has beaten many tough opponents. Even in his losses, he gave his opponents tough battles.
Jesus Andres Cuellar (29-3, 22 KO’s) of Argentina, will be looking to make a statement with a big win over Fortuna.
Cuellar, who is also a southpaw, was a terror in the featherweight division from 2013-2015. He had dominating victories over Claudio Marrero and Rico Ramos. That was followed up by knockout victories over Juan Manuel Lopez and Vic Darchinyan. The Darchinyan fight earned him the WBA Featherweight title. His title reign was short lived, as he lost by split decision to Abner Mares in 2016. After a two year layoff, Cuellar came back last year and moved up to super featherweight. He got a title shot against Gervonta Davis but was stopped in the 3rd round. Cuellar has had a good start this year with a knockout win over Carlos Padilla to bounce back from his loss.
This will be Cuellar’s second fight at lightweight and he will face one of the top lightweights in Fortuna. This should be a fan friendly fight, as both fighters provide action fights. Cuellar will come forward as usual in his aggressive style looking for the knockout and Fortuna will be the counter puncher. I believe Fortuna will win the fight by unanimous decision due to his quick hands and speed.
In the co-feature, another Argentine fighter will be in action, as Brian Castano will face off with the tough Wale Omotoso in a ten round super welterweight special attraction. Brian Castano (15-0-1, 11 KO’s) of Argentina, wants another title shot. Castano made a splash in the boxing scene last year when he won the WBA Interim Super Welterweight title against Emmanuel DeJesus in 2016. However it was his fight against Erislandy Lara earlier this year that showed what he was really about. In an exciting fight against one of the best fighters in the super welterweight division, Castano took Lara to distance and the fight ended in a split draw. Castano ended up vacating his WBA title over a contract dispute but hopes to land another title shot soon. Wale Omotoso (28-4, 22 KO’s) of Nigeria, will look to spoil Castano’s plans.
Omotoso is a strong fighter and has only lost to unbeaten fighters in which he took them all to distance. Omotoso’s last fight was almost three months ago and he looked great. He knocked out the hard punching Curtis Stevens, but we know Stevens has seen his best days. Omotoso should be a stiff test for Castano and we expect another good fight as well. I see Castano winning this fight but given Omotoso’s chin, I believe Castano will win by unanimous decision.
By: Ken Hissner
At the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, NY, Saturday over Showtime Boxing and PBC, two IBF World champions were featured and promoted by DiBella Entertainment.
IBF Welterweight champion and former Olympian southpaw “The Truth” Errol Spence, Jr., 23-0 (20), of Dallas, TX, stopped former IBF World, WBA Super World Super Lightweight champion and WBA Super World welterweight champion now No. 5 contender Lamont “Havoc” Peterson, 35-4-1 (17), of D.C., who was returning after an eleven month of inactivity, at the end of the seventh round.
Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing Twitter Account
In the first round after half a minute Spence landed a chopping left hand to the chin of Peterson. Spence goes to the body and head with Peterson standing right in front of him defense minded. It was a lopsided round for Spence. In the second round Peterson countered a right hook by Spence to a left to the body. Spence landed a 3-punch combination hurting Peterson with a minute left in the round. Peterson landed his best punch of the round a left hook to the head of Spence with half a minute left in the round.
In the third round Spence started with a right hook and overhand left to the chin of Peterson. Spence continues landing good body shots. Peterson landed left hooks to the head of Spence who complained they were behind the head. Just prior to the bell Spence landed a straight left to the head of Peterson who countered with a left hook to the head of Spence. In the fourth round top Referee Harvey Dock warned Spence of landing a low blow. Peterson and Spence take turns being the aggressor. Spence kept using combinations well. Peterson landed a good right hand countered by a Spence left.
In the fifth round Peterson came charging out landing several punches hand from Spence to the side of the head dropped Peterson. Under a minute left in the round and Spence landed half a dozen punches without return from Peterson. The last 30 seconds both boxers went at it throwing punches.
In the sixth round a lead left from Peterson landed through the defense of Peterson. Spence landed a 3-punch combination. Peterson’s best punch has been a left hook. Peterson started back pedaling for the first time in the fight with a minute left. Peterson’s left eye under the eye brow started swelling. His corner took a good look and didn’t like what they were seeing. The ring physician came in to take a look at that eye.
In the seventh round Spence came out looking for a knockout landing many more punches than the back pedaling Peterson. It was a big round for Spence. The corner of Peterson stopped the fight before the round started in the eighth round.
Julie Lederman, Don Trella and Steve Weisfeld were the judges. This writer had it 70-62 at the end.
“I want to thank Lamont Peterson for taking this fight while others turned it down. He is a tough fighter who still wanted to continue at the end. You are going to see an improved fighter every time I enter the ring. Keith Thurman has to get in there with me,” said Spence. “I don’t question my trainer (Barry Hunter) when he stopped the fight. Spence is the best fighter I have met,” said Peterson.
IBF Lightweight champion Robert Easter, Jr., 21-0 (14), of Toledo, OH, defeated the former WBA Super Featherweight champion and now No. 13 contender southpaw Dominican Javier “El Abejon” Fortuna, 31-2-1 ??? of Braintree, MASS, by split decision in a non-title bout due to Fortuna being over weight.
In the first round used his height advantage using an effective jab and lead right hands to the chin of Fortuna. At the halfway mark Fortuna missed three punches but landed the fourth with a left uppercut to the chin of Easter. In the second round Fortuna held Easter behind the neck while hitting with the left hand three times. Referee Ricky Gonzalez was yelling “stop, stop, stop” instead of getting in quick enough to break them up. Shortly later with Easter‘s head through the ropes Fortuna hit him which cost him a point by Referee Gonzalez who once again got there too late. Easter kept the pressure on Fortuna backing him into the corner landed a good left hook.
In the third round Easter backed Fortuna into the ropes landing a solid right to the chin of Fortuna. Fortuna came back landing solid left hands and roughing up Easter in a close round. In the fourth round it was another close one with Easter pulling it out while Fortuna does too much holding. In the fifth round Easter had Fortuna against the ropes landing a flurry of punches primarily left hooks to the head.
In the sixth round Fortuna did a step around landing a good right hook to the head of Easter. Fortuna continues his dirty tactics of holding and pulling down Easter’s head then leaning on him. Easter landed a long right hand to the chin but Fortuna landed a counter left hand to the chin rocking Easter.
In the seventh round both boxers were talking to one another to “come on!” Easter clearly took the round. In the eighth round Easter used his jab and reach more than at anytime in the fight keeping Fortuna at bay. It was a big round for Easter.
In the ninth round Easter continued out working Fortuna. Easter landing nice lead jabs to the chin of Fortuna. When Easter comes in low that is when Fortuna pulls his head down and ties him up. In the tenth round both let loose with punches at the start of the round unlike previously in the bout. Fortuna lands a good body shot which there was very little of during the fight by both boxers. While on the ropes it was Fortuna out working Easter right up until the bell.
In the eleventh round it continued to have Fortuna on the ropes but landing well. Coming in over weight may be the reason for the back pedaling Fortuna to spend so much time on the ropes. Fortuna came forward and landed a combination that seemed to surprise Easter. Both had words at the bell. Fortuna may have pulled out the round.
In the twelfth and final round inside of the first round Easter rocked Fortuna with a left hook to the chin. Halfway through the final round Fortuna is back pedaling instead of throwing punches. Fortuna continues to come in roughing up Easter inside. Whenever Easter comes in low he gets tied up. Referee Gonzalez warned him about coming in with his head.
Judge Glenn Feldman scored it 114-113 for Easter, John McKaie 114-113 for Fortuna and Kevin Morgan 115-112 for Easter. This writer had it 116-111 Easter.
The best Ring Announcer in the business “It’s Showtime” Jimmy Lennon, Jr. did his usual great job. Fortuna did much too much holding to have won the fight. For some reason Showtime announced future fights on their network along with two of them that have been cancelled in the Danny Garcia fight and the Mikey Garcia fight with their opponents pulling out with injuries.
Light Heavyweight southpaw “Sir” Marcus Browne, 21-0 (15), of Staten Island, NY, stopped Francy Ntetu, 17-2 (4), of Congo and CAN, at 2:15 of the first round.
Heavyweight Adam Kownacki, 17-0 (14), of Lomza, POL, and Brooklyn, NY, stopped Iago Kiladze, 26-2 (18), of Sachkere, GEO, at 2:48 of the sixth round.
Anthony Peterson, 38-1 (24), of Memphis, TN, shut out Columbia’s Louis Eduardo Florez, 23-9 (19) over 10 rounds.
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions will televise one of the first big fights of 2018 on the Showtime Network.
Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. will defend his IBF Welterweight Title against the entertaining and always tough Lamont Peterson in the main event of the night. The co-main event will be between Robert Easter Jr. and Javier Fortuna for the IBF Lightweight Title.
Photo Credit: Tom Casino/Showtime
Errol Spence has been calling out all the top welterweights and Lamont Peterson is one of the few to answer his call. A victory for either could lead to a welterweight unification fight with Keith Thurman.
The following is a preview of both televised world title bouts.
Robert Easter Jr. (20-0) vs. Javier Fortuna (33-1-1); IBF Lightweight Title
This bout was supposed to be for the IBF Lightweight Title, but Javier Fortuna came in at 136.8lbs during the weigh ins and had two hours to lose the two pounds for fight for the belt. It appeared unlikely that he will make it.
Easter is twenty six years old and two years younger than Fortuna. He will also have a very large five inch height advantage and a seven and a half inch reach advantage.
Both boxers had a successful amateur career, but Easter was able to become an Olympic alternate for the United States in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Fortuna has the edge in power. He has stopped twenty three of his opponents while Robert Easter only stopped fourteen of his opponents. Easter has been fairly active and fought twice in 2017 and twice in 2016. Fortuna was able to fight twice in 2017 and three times in 2016.
Fortuna has spent most of his career fighting in the super featherweight division so size will be an issue for him. His lone loss was a shocking TKO loss to Jason Sosa in Beijing in June of 2016. He has defeated the likes of Omar Douglas, Marlyn Cabrera, Carlos Velasquez, Bryan Vasquez, Patrick Hyland, Yuandale Evans, and Abner Cotto.
Easter has never tasted defeat as a professional but won a close bout against Denis Shafikov in his last bout. He has defeated the likes of Luis Cruz, Richard Commey, Argenis Mendez, and Juan Solis.
The fact that Fortuna failed to make weight his first time on the scale is concerning, especially since he’s used to competing at a lighter weight class. Robert Easter’s size and reach advantage will be too much for Fortuna to overcome.
Errol Spence Jr. (22-0) vs. Lamont Peterson (35-3-1); IBF Welterweight Title
Errol “The Truth” Spence is one of the welterweight division’s biggest stars. Many consider him to be the next kingpin of the division post Pacquiao and Mayweather. His opponent, Lamont Peterson, is always in a good fight but this may be his last chance at a world title.
Spence is in the middle of his athletic prime at twenty seven and is six years older than Lamont Peterson. They have the same reach and Spence will have a slight one inch reach advantage on Peterson.
Spence has the edge in power and speed. He has stopped nineteen of his opponents, and is currently riding a nine fight stoppage streak. Peterson has only stopped seventeen of his opponents, and only one stoppage victory in his past five fights.
Peterson was a national golden gloves champion and experienced moderate success on the world stage as an amateur. Spence was also a national golden gloves champion, but he also was a member of the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Spence has looked sensational recently, but only competed once in 2017 and twice in 2016. He has defeated the likes of Kell Brook, Leonard Bundu, Chris Algieri, Chris Van Heerden, Phil Lo Greco, and Ronald Cruz.
Peterson has not been so active and fought once in 2017 and twice in 2015. He has defeated the likes of David Avanesyan, Felix Diaz, Dierry Jean, Kendall Holt, and Amir Khan. His losses were to Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, and Timothy Bradley Jr.
Peterson’s biggest issue is his consistency. When he’s aggressive to the body he looks, at times, unstoppable. But as evident in his fight with Danny Garcia, he can be a slow starter and that often hurts him on the scorecards.
Peterson was impressed with Spence’s victory against Kell Brook. “”Errol even taking the Kell Brook fight was impressive to me. Most guys in his position take their time leading up to the first title shot, but he ended up fighting someone in his prime in his country. To will himself to that win was very impressive.”
Spence has looked untouchable and was very impressive in his fight against Kell Brook, in Kell Brook’s backyard.
Even Spence appears to know Peterson is a real challenge. He stated, “”I think it’s going to turn into a war. A lot of people have thought this would be an easy fight for me. But if you follow Lamont Peterson, you know this will be tough. He’s always in great shape and has a lot of skills. IT might be a dog fight and that’s what I wanted. He’s the guy who wanted to fight and I said of course. It’s going to be a rugged fight. Later on in the fights, he always gets rough and stands toe-to-toe.”
Even if Peterson is fighting at his best for all twelve rounds, it’s hard to imagine him beating Errol Spence.
By: Eric Lunger
As the final wrapping paper gets cleaned up from under the tree, and as we collectively vow – in varying degrees of enthusiasm and conviction — to get back to sensible eating and exercise, it’s time to take a glance ahead at the upcoming year in boxing, and count down the top five fighters to keep an eye on. This is a pretty eclectic list, and no doubt you have your own picks; I’d love to read which boxers you are watching for 2018 in the comments below.
Photo Credit: WBSS
Joseph Parker (Heavyweight). The Kiwi WBO champion had a great 2017, defending his newly-won belt twice. In May, he took care of business against Razvan Cojanu, a late-minute replacement in a not-so spectacular bout, but in September, Parker traveled to Manchester, UK, to take on the talented contender Hughie Fury. Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) answered a lot of questions that night, and won over some critics. Still, there are some commentators who feel that Parker is the odd man out in the top tier of the division, that he doesn’t really belong in the same rarified air as Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, and Tyson Fury. But with his power, his hand speed, and most importantly, his meteoric learning curve each and every outing, Parker can be a real spoiler in the division. Will he get a shot at AJ in 2018? That is tough to envision, given Team Joshua’s current aversion to risk, but as the WBO Champion, unification of the belts has to go through Parker at some point.
Oleksandr Usyk (Cruiserweight). Usyk (13-0, 11 KOs) fought on the same Olympic team as Vasyl Lomachenko, training with Lomachenko’s father, and it shows in Usyk’s footwork and use of angles. Already WBO world champion, the Ukrainian southpaw is in the semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series Cruiserweight tournament, slated to take on undefeated WBC champion Mairis Breidis in Riga, Latvia, on January 27. Supremely confident, Usyk is one of those few European amateurs who understands that the professional game is about more than just scoring points; a fighter needs to be exciting to watch if he wants to build his fan base. With knockout artist Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos in the other semi-final in February, the WBSS tournament is exciting and dynamic, and Usyk has to be the favorite to unify all the belts and lift the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
Javier Fortuna (Lightweight) A southpaw from the Dominican Republic and former WBA World champion at junior lightweight, Fortuna (33-1-1, 23 KOs) has an important title shot this coming January against undefeated IBF lightweight champion Robert Easter, Jr. Fortuna is an underdog in this fight, to be sure, but the matchup will be competitive and entertaining. The Dominican standout is a risk-taker, and he can get caught. But he is also brilliant to watch, especially when he makes intuitive adjustments in the ring or decides to ramp up the performance aspect of his game. This will be no easy tune-up for Easter, and Fortuna should not be overlooked as a potential upset of the year.
Danny Garcia (Welterweight). Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) has always been one of my favorite fighters. A guy with deep Philly roots, he’s had tough battles with the likes of Amir Khan, Zab Judah, Lucas Matthysse, Paulie Malignaggi, and Keith Thurman. Danny is an accurate counterpuncher whose risky style is based on one of the most dominant left hooks in the game. The split decision loss to Thurman last March had to be a bitter pill for the proud Garcia to swallow. How does a fighter who has accomplished so much in the sport find the motivation to rebound from a loss like that? We will find out where Garcia is mentally and physically this February 17 as he takes on Brandon Rios (34-3, 25 KOs) in a twelve-round welterweight clash.
Vasyl Lomachenko (Junior Lightweight). Obviously, the slick Ukrainian southpaw is on top of the boxing world right now, and is a factor in everyone’s pound-for-pound discussion, but the real unknown for Lomachenko in 2018 is: whom should he fight next? Who will give him a challenge? Who will draw a big audience? Miguel Berchelt (32-1 28 KOs), who holds the WBC belt, seems like the logical next opponent for “HiTech,” but a case can certainly be made for Francisco Vargas (24-1-2, 17 KOs) or even Gervonta Davis (19-0, 18 KOs). There has also been significant social media chatter about Lomachenko moving up to 135 to fight Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs), and what a fight that would be. Unfortunately, for now, Garcia has moved to junior welterweight to face Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) for the IBF title. Regardless, Lomachenko remains a fighter to watch in 2018.
PBC Card in Philadelphia had its Ups and Downs
By Eric Lunger
I happened to attend the Danny Garcia vs. Samuel Vargas PBC event Saturday night in Philadelphia. The experience was a pleasure all around, except, unfortunately, for the main event. I’ll get to that in a moment, but first I’ll offer a few observations about watching live boxing in Philadelphia. First off, the Liacouras Center is a wonderful venue; parking, access, concessions, the arena staff – everything was top-notch. And the arena feels small and big at the same time: when seated close to the ring, the blazing lights make you feel like the ring dominates the whole building; but if you wander up to the upper decks, you can sit by yourself in the massive bank of seats looking down on the spectacle. I did so for Garcia’s ring walk, and watching his massive entourage snake its way to the ring between the crowd-control barriers was like watching an ill-intentioned dragon slither out of a burrow.
The crowd was an interesting mix of folks from almost all walks of life. I was surprised and pleased by the congenial and carnival-like atmosphere. Everyone was courteous, in a cheerful mood, and there was a sense of camaraderie in the building, like, “Hey, we’re all here for fight night!” Not the usual Philly sports crowd – I’ve been to a Flyers game where they booed the Zamboni driver. There were well-dressed folks; there were folks in jeans and sweatshirts. There were couples out for date night. It was also very much a home-town night, in so far as the promoters had a done a nice job matching local prospects against good, but not world class opponents. Omar Douglas, from Wilmington, DE, and Jarrett Hurd, from Maryland, were loudly supported by their traveling fans.
There are some interesting things about watching boxing live, as opposed to on TV. First thing I noticed was how tense the crowd was during the bouts. A boxing crowd goes from tense quiet to an explosion of sound in split-second. A good shot or big punch is immediately punctuated by a crowd reaction. But most of the time, the crowd is tensely observing the action, with occasional members yelling instructions to the fighters, which I doubt they hear. A corollary of the relative quiet is that the punches are audible. A “thudding” punch is not just a cliché – its real. Second thing I noticed was that I didn’t miss having TV commentators interpret the fight for me. I had to really focus on what was going on in the ring and I had to rely on my own interpretation of who won that round, or why so-and-so stopped using his jab, or where a certain fighter’s strength lay. It made for a much more immersive and active experience.
Watching boxing live also underscores how dangerous boxing really is, and why defensive boxing is such an art. The punches are fast, accurate, and hard. Javier Fortuna in the first round of the first televised undercard made one error, and Omar Douglas caught him with a brutal hook inside: Fortuna went down like he had been shot in the head. From then on, Fortuna fought from the outside, boxed, jabbed, moved, and never again got in range of that short hook. That bout developed, after the first round knock down, into a classic battle between a come-forward puncher (Douglas) and a dancing, southpaw boxer (Fortuna). Fortuna edged out Douglas on the cards and the crowd was not happy with the decision, though I think it was correct.
The second undercard was entertaining and compelling as well, but for other reasons. Jarrett Hurd is a talented and fundamentally trained boxer with a complete skill set. He is also a big super welterweight – keep you eye on him in the future. His opponent, a very tough and very professional Jo Jo Dan, took a lot of punishment, landed a number of his own shots, but didn’t have the power at this weight to do damage. Hurd was patient, methodical, and precise, landing increasing damaging blows through Dan’s defense. The referee called off the bout at the right time, as Dan took more damage without returning fire.
I wish I could say something positive about the main event, as I think the Garcia camp has taken enough abuse in the media, but Samuel Vargas (nothing against him personally) was a gross mismatch. The fact that he lasted seven rounds testifies to his toughness, if nothing else. Garcia blasted him at will. The partisan Garcia fans loved it, but it was lesser end to a better undercard. It was a shame because the Liacouras Center is a great venue to watch boxing, and the undercard deserved a better main event.
Sosa Dared to Believe
By: Ben Underwood
The site was Beijing ,China , the favourite was Javier Fortuna and the script was ripped apart by Jason Sosa. Although Sosa seemed alarmingly easy to hit and Fortuna was hiding behind his Mayweather- esque front shoulder, it was Sosa who seemed to want it more as he moved forward and put pressure on the relaxed Fortuna from the first bell.
Southpaw Javier seemed to fight with the attitude that he only needed to turn up to win for the first two rounds ,while Sosa was making the most of the opportunity with wild swings and catching Fortuna with the left hook as the latter tried to back off. The WBA Super Featherweight champion suddenly woke up and let his hands go, landing a clubbing right at the end of the second but it was a belated attempt and the bell provided a get out of jail free card for Jason (19-1-4,15 KO’s).
El canito was showing great head movement but it was Fortuna who was taking over and landed a great burst of punches in the fourth making his crude and lunging opponent think. It only seemed a matter of time before Javier (29-0-1,21 KO’s going in) would get to his man and in the fifth, landed a great left hand that he set up from a distracting right hook and felled the brave Sosa that didn’t seem to hurt him too badly. The underdog got up and brushed himself off and immediately set about his work.
By the seventh round Sosa had his best round so far catching Fortuna with straight rights and left hooks, with Fortuna with his jerky movements was looking for that one shot to win in style, this ultimately cost him the round. The contest caught fire in round nine as Fortuna looked to finish Sosa,but after going the distance with Nicholas Walters It seemed that the champion underestimated the toughness of Sosa, as he took all that fortuna could deliver and looked very composed under pressure.By the end of the round both men were exchanging with Javier landing left and rights to Sosa’s head while El canito was landing to both body and head.
The fight was close at this point and by the tenth it was Sosa who ,with his relentless pressure caught Fortuna with a right to the body and a straight right to the head which had Fortuna in all kinds of bother as he went down from a straight right hand. The drama was coming in thick and fast as Javier spat his gumshield to buy some time and the third man in the ring took a point for his troubles. Fortuna looked desperate as he tried to let his hands go and was getting caught in the process by left hooks from Sosa, and by the end of the 10th they were both on the floor as Fortuna did an MMA take down to end the action packed round.
It was the relentless pressure that Fortuna could not get to grips with and right after slashing right were landing and without warning a massive left hook detonated of the jaw of the Dominican Republic native and he fell to the floor. Although he got up he was clearly unsteady as he tried to con Raul Caiz jr ,but the referee made the right decision to wave the fight off and allow Javier Fortuna to fight another night.
Fortuna was making his second defence of the WBA title that he won from Bryan Vasquez and was expected to win. The determination of Sosa is something that cannot be taught in any gym around the world and serves as a testiment to Jason Sosa as he becomes the new WBA Super featherweight champion of the world.