Gervonta Davis Stops Gamboa; Jean Pascal Upsets Jack
By: Sean Crose
Atlanta’s State Farm Arena hosted a Premiere Boxing Champions card on Saturday featuring a scheduled 12 rounder between rising star Gervonta “Tank” Davis and skillful veteran Yuriorkis Gamboa. At stake was the WBA lightweight title. The first fight on the card was a scheduled 10 round affair between Lionell Thompson, 21-5, and the 29-3-0 Jose Uzcategui.Thompson was able to drop his man in the first. The second and third saw Thompson, who was the considerably shorter man, engage in a disciplined fight.The referee took a point away from Thompson in the fourth.
The fifth saw Uzcategui fight in a kind of ineffective lull. The sixth didn’t offer much in the way of excitement, though Thompson controlled the tempo. Uzcategui pursued his man in the seventh, as he had the entire fight up until that point, though perhaps more effectively than he had previously. Thompson landed hard and well in the eighth, though Uzcategui was somewhat impressive in the ninth. Thompson, however, appreared to take the tenth, as well as a unanimous decision win.
The next match was a WBA light heavyweight championship bout between defending champ Jean Pascal, 34-6-1, and the popular Badu Jack, 22-2-3. The first round was a rather entertaining affair, though Pascal may have edged it. Pascal went on to fire effectively in the second. Pascal’s jab worked well in the third, though Jack was able to land well on his man. Jack hurt his man in the fourth…but Pascal was able to drop Jack later in the round. Jack got up and was arguably saved by the bell.
Jack held strong in the fifth, but Pascal landed ferociously throughout. Jack arguably looked better in the seventh, while the eighth was close…and quite exciting. Both men traded well in the ninth. The tenth was.. again…a close affair. Jack pushed the action in the eleventh. The last round saw Jack send his man to the mat. Pascal got up and Jack unleashed thunder. Jack held on strong, denying Jack the knockout. Pascal ended up swinging hard at the bell.
Pascal walked out with a split decision win.
It was time for the main event. Tank Davis, 22-0, walked into the ring a rising star. Gamboa, 30-2, was seen as a talented, effective fighter who was nontheless past his prime, a man with something to prove. Davis’ highly impressive precision told the story in the first. Davis dropped Gamboa in the second. Gamboa got up, but his leg appeared hurt.
In the third, Showtime’s Paulie Malignaggi claimed Gamboa’s shoe was broken. Ironically, Gamboa had a better round. Davis did good work in the fourth. Davis then landed some explosive shots in the fifth…yet Gamboa didn’t get finished off. Needless to say, Davis dominated the sixth.
With his foot no longer appearing to bother him, Gamboa tried to put his punches together in the seventh. He may have won the round. Davis sent his man to the mat at the end of the eighth. Gamboa was able to beat the count. Gamboa then held his way through the ninth. Both men landed well in the tenth. Tellingly, Davis looked exhausted. Gamboa held in the eleventh, while Davis appeared gassed until the final seconds of the round.
Davis came out guns blazing in the 12th, and was able to drop his man once more. The referee stopped the fight.
OH Canada: Light Heavyweight Champion Jean Pascal Jokingly Suggests Wall May Be Needed Between the USA and its Hot Sporting Neighbor To the North
By: Johnny Walker
WBA light-heavyweight champion Jean Pascal (34-6-1 20 K0s) of Laval, Quebec, has been one of boxing’s most durable warriors for the last decade and a fine representative of Canadian boxing.
And while training over the holidays in Atlanta, Georgia for his upcoming title fight Saturday night at the State Farm Arena with Badou Jack (22-2-3 15 KOs) of Sweden, Pascal’s mind has been on his homeland in the Great White North.
Canada enjoyed one of its greatest years in international sport in 2019, including a title win for the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and the US Open women’s title in tennis being captured by Toronto teenager Bianca Andreescu.
Pascal, 37, also had a part in this Canadian wave of sporting success when he upset Marcus Browne in Brooklyn back in August to become a light-heavyweight champion once again.
And, with his typically playful sense of humor, Pascal says he is hoping to continue the golden flow of Canadian success when he steps in the ring with former light-heavyweight champion in Jack on Saturday night.
In an online interview, Pascal has gone so far as to needle the current US President Donald Trump for his obsession with erecting a “wall” between Mexico and the USA so as to keep immigrants out.
Pascal says he disproves of Trump’s long planned USA/Mexico wall, and jokes that Canada may instead need a wall constructed between it and the United States instead in order to keep Americans out, as the Great White North looks to continue its run of sporting and even pop cultural dominance.
“Hey listen, I don’t like Donald Trump trying to build a wall between Mexico and the US,” Pascal explains.
“I really don’t know why [Trump wants that], because the Mexican people are very nice people.”
“[Trump] should build a wall between Canada and the US [instead], because Canada, we winning everything this year,” Pascal continues.
“We got the best rapper in the game, Drake, we are NBA champions with the Raptors, we even are the tennis US Open winner with Bianca Andreescu, and the [WBA light-heavyweight ] belt is gonna stay up North where it belongs, in Canada,” Pascal jibes.
“So Donald Trump, build a wall between Canada and the US, not between the US and Mexico!”
Jean Pascal versus Badou Jack is the co-featured event as two-time Super Featherweight World Champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis taking on former unified Featherweight World Champion Yuriorkis Gamboa for the WBA Lightweight Title
Jean Pascal: Old Dog New Tricks
By: Hans Themistode
Jean Pascal has never been viewed as a stepping stone. This past Saturday night on August 3rd, at the Barclay Center, he was treated as such.
Marcus Browne was the young, undefeated Light Heavyweight who also held the WBA interim title. He had it all. Power, speed and a ton of skill. He proved he was more than just potential with a dominant showing against Badou Jack in his previous contest. In that matchup, Browne really took it to the former two division world champion.
Browne seemed perfectly set up. He was supposed to steamroll past Pascal, and line himself up with the upper echelon of the division.
Pascal (34-6-1, 20 KOs) had other plans.
The 36 year old Haitian born fighter showed that he isn’t at the end of his career just yet.
By now you’ve seen it. Browne dominating the action for the majority of the contest but getting dropped in the fourth and twice more in the seventh. The eighth round saw the contest end earlier then what everyone was hoping for as a clash of heads forced the premature ending.
Pascal won a close but unanimous decision on the scorecards that night, but he did more than just that. He greatly enhanced his hall of fame chances.
Pascal? A hall of famer? You better believe it.
In a career that has lasted nearly 15 years, Pascal has fought everyone. He has come up short a number of times in notable fights such as when he took on Carl Froch in 2008. A 2011 loss to Bernard Hopkins was another stain on his resume. Although it is important to note that he did manage to get a draw with Hopkins in the bout preceding his defeat.
Losses at the hands of Dmitry Bivol and Sergey Kovalev were noncompetitive. The latter resulting in back to back stoppages for the first and only time in his career. In short, Pascal isn’t perfect, but he is the ultimate warrior.
His losses are well known but so are his wins. His 2010 technical decision win against then undefeated Chad Dawson was an eye catching performance. The well known and hard hitting Lucian Bute also fell by the wayside when the two fought in 2014. Yunieski Gonzalez, who may not be well known to casual boxing fans, but was a true up and coming force in the division back in 2015. Pascal put an end to that hype train as well.
Fast forward to 2019, and fresh off a lopsided loss at the hands of WBA title holder Dmitry Bivol, Pascal seemed like easy pickings for Browne. The former multiple time champion gave a warning to Browne and his naysayers during the build up of the contest.
“Everybody thinks I am washed up,” said Pascal. “You guys will see that I am not done yet. I have plenty left in the tank. Marcus Browne will not beat me.”
We all laughed it off.
No one is laughing now.
It is hard to determine just how much longer Pascal will remain in the sport of boxing but one thing is clear, for as long as he is here, he will continue to be a force in the division.
PBC on FOX Doubleheader: Kownacki, Browne Meet Notable Opponents
By: Robert Aaron Contreras
On Saturday, August 3, PBC on FOX was due for a tripleheader from the Barclays Centers in Brooklyn, New York where a trio of big names would have carefully matched opponents in front of them.
Now with former welterweight champion Andre Berto out, Adam Kownacki, who takes on Chris Arreola, and light heavyweight beltholder Marcus Browne, fighting Jean Pascal, are bolstering the bill on their own.
The FOX broadcast begins at 8 p.m. ET.
Adam Kownacki vs. Chris Arreola
Kownacki is more than familiar with the Barclays Center, having been born in Poland but becoming a man in Brooklyn. He competed there eight times on his way to this pivotal moment, his first headliner on such a grand stage.
And despite no championship belt on the line, his hometown backing puts him and Arreola in the main event.
The 30-year-old Kownacki (19-0, 15 KO) is a banger, always looking to string together chippy punches from every angle. His appearance earned him the nickname Babyface. He has compiled a nice resume, one of B-level talent like Artur Szpilka and a former beltholder in Charles Martin, putting him in line to take a crack at the world level sooner rather than later. In January of this year, he jumped Gerald Washington—again on primetime FOX.
The Polish puncher took out Washington in under four minutes. Quicker work than even Deontay Wilder had with Washington. Kownacki could beat Wilder’s KO mark again if he takes Arreola (38-5-1, 33 KO) out in less than eight rounds.
Arreola, 38, took a lumping from Wilder, who injured his dominate hand, and didn’t make it out of the corner for the ninth period. It was title opportunities like that that make Arreola
arguably Kownacki’s most notable opponent, even if that doesn’t mean the best.
Arreola is back mainstream TV for reasons that are hard to understand outside of simply being a heavyweight. One who used to have a good chin. But one that can punch a little and fights in the same mold as his younger counterpart.
He has never shied away from the spotlight. His is a spotty record since being promoted as possible the man to claim that notional title of first Mexican heavyweight champion before being easily stamped out by Vitali Klitschko. He relied on that heritage and slapdash soundbites to keep him in business and eventually a mainstay with the PBC.
Marcus Browne vs. Jean Pascal
WBA champion Marcus Browne (23-0, 16 KO) is one of a quartet of remarkably talented light heavyweight champions. With Artur Beterbiev scheduled to unify two belts with Gvozdyk, the American of the bunch it could be said is fighting them as much as he is Jean Pascal (33-6-1, 20 KO), to the extent tat as they are all compared against each other for recognition of the true 175-pound kingpin.
Pascal, 36, was once the lineal light heavyweight ruler. That was a decade ago. Still in the Year of Our Lord 2019 this weekend will mark the second consecutive world title challenge for Pascal, of Canada. Despite falling way short against an operator like Dmitry Bivol, the respected former champ has the pull and reputation to remain relevant in the title picture.
Browne, Staten Island’s own, was on big promoter’s wishlist coming out of the London Olympics. He has spent time with Golden Boy Promotions and like many other East Coast talent thriving under Lou DiBella for a stint. Browne’s highlight being a first-round knockout of longstanding gatekeeper Gabriel Campillo
Fighting out of New York, Browne signed with Golden Boy out of the London Olympics. But soon like most east coast fighters, he thrived under Lou Dibella. The highlight being a first-round thumping of longstanding gatekeeper Gabriel Campilloin 2015. But a fickle decision over puncher Radivoje Kalajdzic that left a sour taste in the mouth of fight fans who then became ready to scrutinize Browne as an overhyped prospect. His reoccurring legal trouble were no help.
Browne eventually stomped Thomas Williams Jr. in six rounds as well as the previously undefeated Sean Monagham, also of New York. Now campaigning with Al Haymon’s crew, Browne can boast an incredible win over Badou Jack, a star-making unanimous decision victory.
Still undefeated and untouched, Browne can only hurt himself this weekend. No matter how ferociously he takes out a reputable veteran like Pascal, the Canadian is a shell of his former self—hardly throwing punches these days. The matchup pales in comparison to a delectable unification like Beterbiev-Gvozdyk.
Browne should keep an eye out on the winner.
PBC on FS1 Results: Pascal Defeats Elbiali and Retires
By: Ken Hissner
At the Hialeah Park Racing & Casino in Hialeah, FL, on Friday night, promoter Leon Margules of Warrior Boxing over USA Fox Sports 1 presented a triple header.
In the main event light heavyweight Egyptian Ahmed Elbiali, 16-1 (13), of Miami, FL, suffered his first loss as former world champion Haitian Jean Pascal, 32-5-1 (19), of Quebec, CAN, ended his career with a win at 2:06 of the sixth round.
Photo Credit: Douglas DeFelice / Premier Boxing Champions
In the first round after twenty seconds Elbiali landed a left hook to the chin of Pascal rocking him. He went after Pascal who countered with a left hook to the head of Elbiali. Pascal finished the final minute strong with left hooks to the head of Elbiali. In the second round Pascal was swinging wildly mostly with left hooks. Elbiali landed his share of rights to the head. Pascal ended the round with a flurry of punches to the head of Elbiali.
In the third round both fighters mixed it up well taking turns getting the better of it. Pascal would throw and land punches then hold too much. In the fourth round just under a minute into the round the slugfest continued with both fighters landing bombs. Referee Tellis Ashimentos warned Pascal to stop holding. A big left hook by Pascal to the chin of Elbiali was the highlight of the round.
In the fifth round both fighters landed right hands to the head at the same time. With a minute remaining in the round Pascal was overwhelming Elbiali. Both fighters looked exhausted at the end of the round. In the sixth round Pascal turned up the heat over the much younger Elbiali driving him into a corner landing a dozen punches causing Elbiali’s corner to throw in the towel forcing referee Telis Assimenios ending the fight.
Returning after a fourteen month layoff welterweight southpaw Bryant “Goodfella” Perrella, 15-1 (13), of Ft. Myers, FL, wona lopsided decision over southpaw Alex “Chi-Town Heat” Martin, 13-3 (5), over 8 rounds with a first round knockdown.
In round one Perella was the aggressor outworking Martin. With less than half a minute left in the round a vicious right hook from Perella on the chin of Martin dropped him. Referee Andrew Glen gave him the 8 count. Martin held on to get through the round. In the second round Perella continued to walk through Martin who was on the defense for the most part.
In the third round Perella continued to push Martin around the ring. Martin waited until the final ten seconds to land a combination to the head of Perella. In the fourth round Martin worked his way back into the fight with right hooks to the head and body.
In the fifth round Perella was on the offense backing up Martin. With less than a minute left in the round a Perella right hook to the head stunned Martin. In the sixth round Perella continued to outwork Martin. Halfway thru the round Perella landed half a dozen punches that were unanswered by Martin.
In the seventh round Perella continued to dominate Martin. With a minute left in the round Martin landed a rare combination to the head of Perella. In the eighth and final round Perella dominated the first half of the round while Martin came back landing well but too little too late.
Judges scores Green and Ray 79-72 with Ross 77-74, this writer 78-73.
In the co-main event returning after a year off heavyweight Cuban southpaw Louis “King Kong” Ortiz, 28-0 (24), of Miami, FL, knocked out Daniel “The Mountain” Martz, 16-6-1 (13), of Clarksburg, WV, at 0:43 of the second round.
From ringside WBC champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder got into the ring telling Ortiz “you better be in shape because I am going to knock you out!”
In the first round it was all Ortiz. With less than twenty seconds left several body shots while inside dropped a defensive Martz. In the second round a crushing left on the chin of Martz and down he went and out. Referee Sam Burgos didn’t count but just waved it off.
Featherweight Stephen ”Cool Boy Steph” Fulton, 12-0 (5), of West Philadelphia, PA, scored a majority decision over Adam “Blunose” Lopez, 8-1 (3), of Glendale, CA, over 8 rounds.
In the first round both were trading jabs until Lopez landed a 3-punch combination. Lopez gets Fulton in a corner and lands half a dozen punches before Fulton spun out and landed several punches of his own. With half a minute left in the round Fulton landed his best punch of the round a lead right hand to the chin of Lopez. In the second round half a minute in Lopez landed a power punch right to the head of Fulton. With a minute left in the round Fulton landed a big right to the chin of Lopez. Lopez would come back and rock Fulton with seconds to go in the round with a big right to the head.
In the third round Lopez landed several good shots driving a countering Fulton into the ropes. Lopez landed over a half dozen punches to a hands held high Fulton who was against the ropes. With under a minute left in the round Fulton landed a solid left hook to the head of Lopez drawing blood from the nose of Lopez. In the fourth round the blood from the nose of Lopez is flowing. Fulton countered much better in the round outworking Lopez for the most part. Lopez seemed to have some trouble breathing due to the nose bleed.
In the fifth round in the middle of the ring after Fulton becoming the aggressor for the first half of the round Lopez landed several good uppercuts with both hands to the chin of Fulton. Under a minute left in the round Fulton landed a good right to the chin of Lopez. The jab of Fulton is giving Lopez trouble. In the sixth round Lopez turned to southpaw again becoming the aggressor. With a minute to go in the round Fulton takes the lead landing straight rights to the head of Lopez making him go back to orthodox. In the final twenty seconds Fulton drops his hands scoring well but at the bell he got his second warning from the referee Assimenios for a low blow.
In the seventh round both boxers are slugging it out. Halfway through the round Fulton continues to show his better hand speed while Lopez works on the body when inside. In a close round Fulton seemed to have a slight edge. In the eighth and final round Lopez lands a double left hook to the chin of Fulton. Lopez got a warning for a low blow. Lopez was scoring well but walked into a Fulton left hook to the head. Just under a minute Lopez landed a good right to the head of Fulton. Lopez’s trainer former champion Buddy McGirt was screaming to let his hands go. The corner of Fulton was Hamaz Muhammad and assistant Naziim Richardson.
Judges scores were Rupert 76-76, Ross 78-74 and Young 77-75 with this writer having it 76-76.
Showtime World Championship Results: Adonis Stevenson Blitzes Past Fonfara, Alvarez Defeats Pascal
Showtime World Championship Results: Adonis Stevenson Blitzes Past Fonfara, Alvarez Defeats Pascal
By: William Holmes
Reigning WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Jean Pascal fought again in the familiar confines of the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada as he defended his title against an opponent he had difficulty with before, Polish light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara.
The opening bout of the evening was between former lineal light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal (31-4-1) and the undefeated prospect Eleider Alvarez (22-0). Despite Pascal’s recent losses, he still remains a popular boxer in Canada.
Alvarez, the taller fighter, took the center of the ring in the opening round and was sharp with his jab and the more aggressive boxer early. Pascal rallied late in the first round with some good shots to the body and may have stolen that round.
Alvarez’s straight right hand forced Pascal to clinch in the second round and was able to land some hard uppercuts. His aggressiveness continued into the third round which featured a fierce exchange between both boxers as the round ended.
Pascal was warned for punching after the break in the fourth round as Alvarez’s sharp jab was forcing Pascal to hold on often. Alvarez’s jab continued to be effective in the fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds and were noticeable effecting Jean Pascal.
Pascal was able to land some good flurries in the eighth round including two right hooks to the temple and a double left hook. But Alvarez retook control in the ninth round and landed two head snapping right uppercuts that had Pascal hurt.
Pascal may have stolen the tenth and eleventh rounds with late flurries near the end of the rounds, but in the final round Alvarez looked like the fresher fighter and was able to close out the bout strong.
The final scores were 114-114, 117-111 and 116-112 for Eleider Alvarez.
The main event of the night was between WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Adonis Stevenson (28-1) and Andrzej Fonfara (29-4).
Fonfara started off aggressively and was coming at Stevenson with his jab, but his momentum was short lived. Stevenson landed his straight left and followed it up with a clubbing straight left that sent Fonfara down to the mat. Fonfara was able to get back to his feet, but Stevenson swarmed on Fonfara and landed several hard straight left hands that had Fonfara hurt. Stevenson was unloading on Fonfara by the corner as the opening round came to an end.
Stevenson landed several hard straight left hands to open up the second round and he had Fonfara backing up and not throwing many punches back towards Stevenson’s way. Virgil Hunter then stepped on the apron to stop the fight before his boxer would take any additional damage.
Adonis Stevenson destroys Andrzej Fonfara by TKO at 0:28 of the second round.
Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Adonis Stevenson vs. Andrzej Fonfara, Jean Pascal vs. Eleider Alvarez
Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Adonis Stevenson vs. Andrzej Fonfara, Jean Pascal vs. Eleider Alvarez
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada Adonis Stevenson will take on Andrzej Fonfara for Adonis Stevenson’s WBC Light Heavyweight
Title in the main event of World Championship Boxing on Showtime.
Former world champion Jean Pascal will be the lead fight of the undercard as he takes on undefeated contender Eleider Alvarez.
Two other light heavyweight stalwarts, Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward, will meet in a few weeks on HBO Pay Per View. It seems logical that the winner of Saturday’s Stevenson and Fonfara bout will likely face the winner of the pay per view bout between Kovalev and Ward, at least it should happen for boxing fans worldwide.
The following is a preview of Saturday’s card.
Jean Pascal (31-4-1) vs. Eleider Alvarez (22-0); Light Heavyweight
Eleider Alvarez is an intriguing prospect with a successful amateur background that includes competing in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Pascal is an ex-champion that has faced some legends in the sport. He also had a successful amateur background and won the Canadian Amateur Championships seven times and competed in the 2004 Summer Olympics.
Alvarez will have about an inch and a half height advantage as well as a three and a half inch reach advantage. They’re both nearing the end of their primes, with Pascal being thirty four years old and Alvarez being thirty three years old.
Pascal has defeated the likes of Ricardo Ramallo, Yunieski Gonzalez, Lucian Bute, George Blades, Chad Dawson, and Adrian Diaconu. His losses have come to Carl Froch, Bernard Hopkins, and Sergey Kovalev twice.
Alvarez opened up a lot of eyes with his knockout in his last bout against Lucian Bute. He has also defeated the likes of Robert Berridge, Isaac Chilemba, Ryno Liebenberg, and Edison Miranda. Alvarez has never tasted defeated.
Both boxers have average power, Pascal has stopped eighteen of his opponents while Alvarez has stopped eleven of his opponents.
Alvarez is an intriguing prospect, he’s undefeated with a deep amateur background but older than the age most people would consider someone to be a prospect. But his career trajectory is on the upswing, while Pascal’s appears to be on the downswing. For that reason this writer has to give the edge to Alvarez.
Adonis Stevenson (28-1) vs. Andrzej Fonfara (29-4); WBC Light Heavyweight Title
This bout is a rematch of their bout in May of 2014 that saw Stevenson win a close and tightly contested decision.
Since that bout Stevenson has gone on a tear, including winning three of his past four fights by stoppage. Fonfara was knocked out viciously and quickly by Joe Smith Jr., but was able to bounce back from that by defeating former world champion Chad Dawson.
Both boxers had moderate success as an amateur. Stevenson won the Canadian National Championship in 2005 and 2006. Fonfara competed regularly on the European circuit. Neither boxer competed in the Olympics.
Stevenson has considerable power and has stopped twenty three of his opponents. Fonfara has seventeen stoppage victories. Both boxers have at times been stopped. Stevenson was stopped by Darnell Boone while Fonfara was stopped twice.
Stevenson has defeated the likes of Thomas Williams Jr., Tommy Karpency, Sakio Bika, Dmitry Sukhotskiy, Andrzej Fonfara, Tony Bellew, Tavoris Cloud, Chad Dawson, and Donovan George. Fonfara has defeated the likes of Chad Dawson, Nathan Cleverly, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Gabriel Campillo, Tommy Karpency and Glen Johnson.
Stevenson started late as a professional but is currently thirty nine years old. Fonfara is ten years younger at the age of twenty nine. Stevenson will be giving up a three and a half inch height advantage. They have the same reach.
Their first bout was close, but Fonfara is coming off a knockout loss. If this bout goes the distance Fonfara has a chance at winning as stamina favors him. But this writer believes Stevenson will walk away the victor and hopefully chase after the winner of Ward and Kovalev.
Dichotomy of Light and Dark
Dichotomy of Light and Dark
By: James Cullinane
On Saturday night, June 11th, at promptly 6 p.m., Orlando-based boxer, Jean Carlos Rivera, made his Madison Square Garden boxing debut.
Rivera’s was the first bout on a busy Garden card that night, a card headlined by up-and-coming superstar, Vasyl Lomachenko. As is the norm when bigger names than yours are on the marquee, there were more empty seats than not at the opening bell. For the lucky few that were in attendance, and those, like myself, watching the live stream on TopRank.tv, Rivera rewarded our patronage with something special.
An undefeated, Puerto Rican, boxing prospect, Rivera began the six-rounder by establishing a lightning fast jab to keep his opponent off balance. As the rounds progressed, Rivera’s boxing skills were on full display, culminating in a thunderous, right that dropped his opponent thirty seconds into the final round. The dazed opponent valiantly rose to his feet to beat the count, but Rivera calmly stalked him into the ropes, landing several more hard blows before the referee mercifully waved the fight off.
It was by far the biggest fight of Rivera’s burgeoning career and, to date, his best. He dominated from start to finish, displaying the skill and strength that have those in the know whispering of a future world champion, some even comparing him to a young, Miguel Cotto.
As one who trains at the same Orlando boxing gym with Rivera, I went to bed Saturday night thrilled about his victory, thrilled about his future and eager to talk with him in the gym next week when he would officially put New York behind him and begin training for his next fight.
When I woke early Sunday morning, my joy for Rivera was shattered, replaced with unmitigated sadness as I began hearing about the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub; a sadness that morphed into numbed emptiness as the scope of the horrific event gradually came into focus.
Even as I sit here now, a full day and a half after this unfathomable tragedy, my mind is overwhelmed. I find myself thinking how terrified those clubgoers must have been once they realized what was happening. I think about the victims – the dead, the wounded, the traumatized survivors who fled for their lives. I think about the friends and families, unable to even remotely imagine their pain.
What I want to think about is Rivera’s debut in Madison Square Garden, how he felt stepping into that famed venue where the shadows of so many boxing greats still linger. I want to think about his future and how his dedication and devotion to the craft of boxing, the hours of training he puts in every day, is finally beginning to pay off. I want to contrast the darkness that has fallen over my city with the brightness of a young, Latino man who is doing things the right way to build a better life for himself and his family; a young man who one day will make all Orlandoans proud.
But I can’t do that right now. The sadness. The madness. It is too overwhelming; too senseless. For now, the darkness is stronger than the light.