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Brandun Lee Easily Scores A Third Round TKO Over Camilo Prieto
By: Rich Lopez
It was indeed a Friday the 13th for Shobox which took place at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota. That’s only because there were no spectators in attendance due to the Coronavirus disease. Still, the show moved forward for the viewing TV audience only. Four fights were televised and overall it was a good night of boxing.
In the main event, Brandun Lee (19-0, 17 KO’s) scored a third round TKO over Camilo Prieto (15-3, 9 KO’s) in a super lightweight bout. In round one, both fighters were feeling each other out. Towards the end of the round, Lee took charge and landed two straight right hands on the head of Prieto that were the most significant punches in the round. In round two, Lee continued to stay busy and come forward. He landed right hands and left hooks on the head of Prieto that was causing damage. Prieto was not doing anything or firing back any punches in return. In round three, Lee came out firing power right hands that landed on the head of Prieto. Prieto just tried to survive with his guard up. Lee threw combinations to the head and body that stunned Prieto. Lee then threw a barrage power shots at Prieto which prompted the referee to stop the fight. Lee scored a TKO in round three with a time of 2:34. As the other fights on the telecast went to distance, Lee turned up the notch and got the stoppage in the fight. Lee looked good once again and hopefully next time we will see him against a higher caliber fighter. Either way Lee was the big winner of the night. He got more exposure to TV audiences as all other US boxing cards were cancelled this weekend and many more will going forward.
In the co-feature, Brian Norman, Jr (17-0, 14 KO’s) won a seventh round technical decision over Flavio Rodriguez (9-2-1, 7 KO’s) in a welterweight bout. In round one, both fighters started out fast with Norman getting the better of the exchanges. He landed quick punches to the head and body of Rodriguez. In round two, both fighters traded shots in the middle of the ring. It was a very close round with Norman getting a slight edge. In round three, both fighters were fighting in close quarters once again with Norman seemingly getting the edge. In round four, both fighters were competitive in another close round. In round five, Rodriguez landed the better punches with effective shots to the head and body of Norman. In round six, Norman put the pressure and pushed Rodriguez to the ropes. Both men traded punches on the inside with Norman outworking Rodriguez. In round seven, both fighters collided heads which caused a cut on the forehead of Rodriguez. The fight was called off at 57 seconds of the seventh round and went to the scorecards. The scores were 69-64, 68-65 (twice) for Brian Norman, Jr. Norman looked good and was forced to go more rounds this time against a tougher opponent.
In an action packed lightweight bout, Alejandro Guerrero (12-0, 9 KO’s) won a hard fought eight round majority decision over Jose Angulo (12-2, 5 KO’s). In the opening round, Angulo showed quick hands and landed body shots on Guerrero. Round two was a better round for Guerrero. He applied pressure and landed right hands to the head of Angulo. However, Angulo came back and exchanged punches with Guerrero. In round three, Angulo kept the fight in the middle of the ring and outworked Guerrero. He landed straight punches to the head and body of Guerrero. In round four, Guerrero spent most of the round moving around and backing up. Angulo had an effective round moving forward and staying busy. In round five, Angulo had another good round. He boxed well and used his left jab effectively. Angulo also displayed good side to side movement. In round six, Guerrero landed a right hand that stunned Angulo. Both fighters traded shots on the inside and it was a very close round. In round seven, Angulo boxed well as he continued to work the body of Guerrero. Towards the end of the round, Guerrero landed straight right hands to the head of Angulo that hurt him. Guerrero finished out the round strong. In the final round, both fighters exchanged punches in the middle of the ring. Angulo was more tired and Guerrero landed hook shots to the head of Angulo that stunned him. Guerrero went for the knockout but Angulo hung in there and made it to the final bell. The final scores were 76-76, 79-73, 78-74 for Guerrero by majority decision. Guerrero won but it was a tougher fight than he expected.
The opening bout of the card was also entertaining and a battle of unbeaten featherweights. Aram Avagyan (10-0-1, 4 KO’s) won a tough eight round majority decision over Dagoberto Aguero (15-1, 10 KO’s). In the first round, Avagyan started the round strong by establishing a quick jab. In an exchange between the two fighters, Aguero landed a right hand on the chin of Avagyan that dropped him. Avagyan managed to get up and Aguero finished the round strong landing hooks to the body of Avagyan. In round two, Avagyan came out strong again and both fighters exchanged blows. Aguero landed a straight right hand to the chin of Avagyan that floored him once again. Avagyan got up and was able to recover. The fight then turned around. In round three, Avagyan made a comeback. He finished the round strong with landing body punches on Aguero. In round four, Avagyan kept a busy work rate and outworked Aguero. Avagyan did a good job landing body shots on Aguero throughout the round. In round five, Avagyan continued to outwork Aguero. In round six, Aguero came back and landed some good right hands on Avagyan but Avagyan still outworked him. In round seven, Aguero was noticeably tired and kept holding. Avagyan poured on the pressure on Aguero. Avagyan landed a right hand to the chin that hurt Aguero. Aguero stumbled and dropped down on his knee but the referee didn’t call it a knockdown. In the final round, Avagyan continued the pressure. Aguero landed a flurry of punches that landed on Avagyan but that was his only moment. Avagyan still out landed Aguero. The final scores were 75-75, 76-74, 77-74 for Avagyan by majority decision. A good comeback for Avagyan who tasted the canvas twice in the fight but managed to fight his way back to earn a decision.
Rising Prospect Brandun Lee Headlines a Quadruple-Header on Shobox
By: Rich Lopez
Shobox has been on a busy schedule so far for 2020 and the show keeps rolling this Friday. Shobox will be at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota and will showcase a full card of undefeated prospects. Four fights will be on tap with rising prospect Brandun Lee headlining the card.
In the main event, super lightweight Brandun Lee (18-0, 16 KO’s) of La Quinta, California, will be making his second appearance on Shobox. As he is the headliner on the card, Lee will be looking to make a lasting impression for the fans in attendance and TV audiences. Lee, who is of Korean and Mexican decent, started boxing at the young age of eight. He had a successful amateur career with a reported record of 195-5. He started his professional career in 2017 and has been on the road defeating opponents in different states. He even has fought in Mexico three times. Audiences got a glimpse of Lee on his Shobox debut last year. He stopped Milton Arauz (10-2-1, 5 KO’s) in the second round by spectacular fashion. A quick left jab followed by a hard right hand from Lee put Arauz out. To start the New Year, Lee scored a first round TKO over Miguel Zamudio (44-16-1, 27 KO’s) in January. Lee possesses quick hands combined with punching power. He has stoppages in his last nine bouts. He will look to add another one on Friday. Lee will be fighting Camilo Prieto (15-2, 9 KO’s) of Miami, Florida. Prieto is unknown and has been mainly fighting in the Dominican Republic and Columbia. His only two blemishes have gone to distance. Prieto will be fighting for the first time in the US and he will have a chance to try to pull the upset.
In the co-feature, another young prospect will be in action. Welterweight Brian “The Assassin II” Norman Jr (16-0, 14 KO’s) of Atlanta, Georgia, is making his Shobox debut and will be looking to steal the show. Norman got his start in his professional career in 2018 at the young age of seventeen. Norman has been mainly fighting out of Mexico against competition that has not been so steep. So far he has shown very quick hands and power. On paper, Norman will fight his toughest opponent up to date. His opponent will be Flavio Rodriguez (9-1-1, 7 KO’s) of Los Angeles, California. Rodriguez is twenty nine years old and he does not have many fights under his belt. He will have to make the most of his opportunity to try to upset the younger Norman.
Also on the card will be undefeated lightweight Alejandro “Pork Chop” Guerrero (11-0, 9 KO’s) of Dallas, Texas. This top amateur fighter is another top prospect to look out for and he has sparred with the likes of Mikey Garcia. Guerrero is also a big puncher who will be looking for a knockout as well. The twenty one year old will be making his Shobox debut against Jose Angulo (12-1, 5 KO’s) of Ecuador. Angulo will serve as Guerrero’s toughest test.
Also on the card, there will be a battle of unbeaten fighters. It will be a lightweight battle between Aram Avagyan (9-0-1, 4 KO’s) of Armenia and Dagoberto Aguero (17-0, 11 KO’s) of the Dominican Republic. This opening bout can be the most competitive fight on the card.
Mike Lee Is Leaving No Stone Unturned
By: Hans Themistode
There are those who prepare themselves for their big moments, and there are those who take things to the next level.
For boxers, preparing for a contest is a rigorous regiment. Often times it includes hitting the heavy bag, working on footwork and of course sparring. Although this is considered the most important in terms of preparation, it isn’t the only thing.
Eating habits, controlling your weight, recovery and dieting are all just as important. For undefeated Super Middleweight contender Mike Lee, he sees the value of not just working on his fundamentals but also the nutritional side of things as well. On July 20th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, Lee will be put to the ultimate test when he takes on fellow undefeated fighter, and current IBF belt holder Caleb Plant.
There is a reason why Plant (18-0, 10 KOs) is nicknamed “Sweet Hands”. His ability to outbox his opponents is second to none in the division. He also possesses very underrated power as he had it on full display in his last contest against former champion Jose Uzcategui. Plant was viewed as having no chance going into that contest. Not only did Plant unseat the former champion, but he did so in dominant fashion, dropping his man twice and winning a wide decision on the judges scorecards.
Lee is well aware of the abilities of Plant and has left no stone unturned in his preparation.
The former college all-conference linebacker was never supposed to be in this position. After attending Benet Academy in Lisle, Illinois, Lee transferred to the university of Notre Dame in 2006 and graduated with a degree in finance. The world was officially his oyster as he was offered a job on Wall Street shortly after his graduation.
Not only did Lee turn it down, but he also turned to boxing. Although he was mostly known as a football player, Lee was no stranger to boxing as he won the 2009 Chicago Golden Gloves. His pro career has started off stellar. A record consisting of 21 wins with no losses would suggest that Lee has found his home in the ring.
For as successful as Lee has been in his short career, he decided to take things up a notch with his biggest showdown coming just days away.
Cal State Fullerton University performance expert Andy Galpin has worked with Lee in order to enhance his performance and fitness for his upcoming title fight. For Lee, coming from the Light Heavyweight division down to the Super Middleweight class can prove to be a difficult transition, but one that he is having no problem adjusting too.
“Andy has helped me physically and mentally with this fight. I have never fought at 168 so going down one weight class can be difficult if you are not properly prepared,” says Lee. “When I selected Andy, I was looking for his expertise on the human body and physical performance.”
According to Lee, his new found partnership with Lee is working wonders for him and his development as a fighter.
“Andy has helped me cut the weight while feeling strong and fast. His approach from nutrition, supplements, training regiments, and recovery modalities has been incredible,” adds Lee. “He is one of the best in the world for a reason and it shows in his work and results of his athletes.”
It might seem like an unconventional training method, but Galpin’s results speak for themselves as he has worked with some of the best athletes in the world such as 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist in women’s freestyle wrestling, Helen Maroulis. He has also most notably helped trained arguably the most popular Mixed Martial Arts fighter in the world, in Conor McGregor.
The science behind Lee’s training methods are impressive. Bringing in world renowned sports performance expert Andy Galpin should pay dividends. With that being said however, Galpin won’t be able to help Lee once he enters that squared circle. Lee will be facing one of, if not the very best fighter in the entire Super Middleweight division. With or without Galpins help, it will be a difficult task come fight night.
Top Rank Publicist Lee Samuels Inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame
By: Rich Mancuso
Lee Samuels tells family, friends, and colleagues that a boxing publicist does not deserve recognition. As the lead publicist for Top Rank Boxing for 38 years, he has worked with the greats and witnessed some of the greatest championship fights. Sunday afternoon in the small town of Canastota New York, the newest inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame took it all in.
“Really, I am so thankful to be here, he said. “But I still don’t know how I got here. The fighters belong here.”
He was there with longtime promoter Don Elbaum, former champions Donald Curry, James “Buddy” McGirt, and with Teddy Atlas, the longtime trainer and former ESPN boxing analyst. They were also inducted as part of the class of 2019 as voted by members of the Boxing Writers Association and a committee.
Those who look at good guys in the sport said it was time for Lee Samuels to get the recognition. By all means this is the highest honor, the Hall of Fame, one of three publicists enshrined with Murray Goodman and Irving Rudd.
The first person that Lee Samuels reported to, after Bob Arum the Hall of Fame promoter hired him, was Irving Rudd. It has been a boxing journey many years later. On the same podium was a previous Hall of Fame inductee, Marvin Hagler, the first major assignment that Samuels handled as a publicist for his fight camp.
Arum hired Samuels in 1983 as the publicist when ESPN launched a venture with the new “Thursday Night Boxing Series.”
Now, many years later, the boxing business and the role of a publicist has changed. Top Rank as a company places a major emphasis on social media. Earlier this year, Samuels was reassigned to another role as Boxing Coordinator for Top Rank. He works side-by-side with the contenders and champions.
Samuels is still employed. He is thankful for that and continues with that heavy schedule of traveling with the hectic Top Rank calendar of events. He has accepted the change as to how boxing is covered. The South New Jersey native started this journey in 1964, Sports Editor with the Pennsville Progress in South Jersey. More newspapers followed, freelance work, and then Top Rank, all of this prior to serving in the U.S. National Guard for six years as a tank driver.
“I still have a job,” Samuels says.
Now at Top Rank events, Lee Samuels resembles that ambassador. They come over and say hello and that includes yours truly and some of the old school journalists.
He travels out of town with the staff at Top Rank. Usually that involves arriving six days before fight night and assuring that fighters are where they have to be for pre fight meetings with ESPN personnel, the final press conference, and the weight-in which has become a production.
Top Rank promotes more than 57 shows a year with their lucrative and extended deal with ESPN in this new wave of streaming fights to the fans. With their extended ESPN contract, there are more shows shown worldwide on the ESPN streaming Network.
“I’m honored to be in this group with all these great fighters and boxing figures,” he said. “Tell you the truth, I wasn’t expecting this to be such a huge event and they do a great job here.”
And this was the second Hall of Fame induction. Late last year, Samuels was one of many of the new inductees into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame. There is so much detail and one minute may not be sufficient. Samuels, though, after all these years in boxing is not one for the spotlight. Awards come and go and he is the last to expect one.
“So many friends over the years,” Samuels said. Top Rank has become his second family over the years.
The awards and recognition are deserved. He has traveled the globe and been at ringside for one super fight to another including that Mayweather-Pacquiao bout that reportedly is the richest fight on record.
Lee Samuels smiles and thanks each and everyone for their kind words. He was recognized twice with awards from the Boxing Writers Association. However, the biggest award is arriving home safe and being with his beloved wife, Mary.
Recently, he wrote a chronology about his journey and published it for his family.
He says, “From that very moment Mary Margaret and me and our dear family have been on an astounding journey.”
Yes, it has been a journey and highlighted at the Boxing Hall of Fame. Lee Samuels for weeks said, “ why me? The record speaks for itself and now those doors to the Hall of Fame are open for him along with the other greats of boxing.
Congratulations from this longtime colleague and others at Boxing Insider. See you at ringside!
Comment: [email protected] [email protected] Facebook.com/ Rich Mancuso
Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman and Caleb Plant vs. Mike Lee Los Angeles Press Conference Quotes
Eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao and unbeaten welterweight world champion Keith Thurman, plus unbeaten super middleweight champion Caleb Plant and unbeaten Mike Lee,squared-off for the second day in a row Wednesday, this time at a Los Angeles press conference as they previewed their respective showdowns taking place Saturday July 20 presented by Premier Boxing Champions and FOX Sports from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao and Thurman will battle in a welterweight world title attraction that headlines a PBC on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View event beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. Plant will make the first defense of his title against the unbeaten Lee in the main event of FOX PBC Fight Night and on FOX Deportes preceding the Pay-Per-View and beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by MP Promotions, Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased online through AXS.com, charge by phone at 866-740-7711 or in person at any MGM Resorts International box office. Plant vs. Lee is presented by TGB Promotions and Sweethands Promotions.
Here is what the fighters had to say Wednesday from The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles:
“It’s easy for my opponents to talk before the fight, and I’m used to everything they say. But when we get to the ring, it changes, and it will change on July 20.
“I chose Keith Thurman because he’s a great fighter, he’s undefeated and because we can give a good fight to the fans. I want to make the fans happy on that night and show that I can still go toe-to-toe with any opponent.
“He said he’s young, but we’ll see who looks young in the ring on July 20. I’m going to let my fists say everything for me.
“We will work hard in training camp like always for this fight. We’re not going to take Keith Thurman lightly or underestimate him. He’s a world champion. I’m thankful for what he’s been saying, because it’s giving me motivation to prove that at 40-years-old, I feel 29.
“Keith Thurman is aggressive and throws a lot of punches. I’m hoping on July 20 he will follow through with what he says and fight toe-to-toe with me.
“The fans need to watch this fight because it’s a once in a lifetime fight. It’s going to be a Fight of the Year and full of action from start to finish. I’m ready to get it on July 20.
“Most of my opponents are bigger than me and I beat them all. When we get into the ring, it doesn’t matter. This has happened before and it will happen again against Thurman.
“My experience will be very important for this fight. It’s going to be useful against an undefeated fighter. I’m going to give him the experience of losing for the first time.
“I’m still having fun and enjoying the sport. I’m excited to go straight to the gym after this and start focusing on training for the fight.”
“It’s a blessing to be on this stage and have a fight of this magnitude. I’m an all-American fighter, an all-American champion and come July 20, I’m going to stay champion.
“Manny is a world class fighter. He’s a gentleman inside and outside of the ring. I look forward to trading punches with a living legend. But one thing’s for sure, he’s not walking away with my title.
“All Manny does is hop around in the ring. I’m not going to lose to a bunny rabbit. He’s not Tupac, but he does a little hip hop and he’s not going to stop until he gets dropped.
“Manny is a world class fighter, not a world class boxer. I’m going to trip him up in the ring and he won’t know what direction to turn to. I know who I am as a fighter, and it will be proven come July 20.
“I’m destroying the legend of Manny Pacquiao. His legacy ends on July 20 and mine begins. He’s an inspiration to many people throughout the world and everyone respects him, but I’m respectfully going to finish him.
“This is a big fight as far as the stage goes, but it’s a big fight against a little guy. He’s a veteran and I’ve dismantled veterans in the past. I believe I would have destroyed Manny Pacquiao five years ago. I’ve always been ready for this fight. He’s never fought someone like me with this kind of lateral movement, speed and power. I’m coming for him.
“I was in the gym four weeks ago starting some preparations. I wanted to get the ball rolling and use the momentum from my last training camp for this opportunity. Who better to showcase my skills and talent against than Manny Pacquiao? He chose me because it will be a guaranteed action fight.
“I think this is one of the best Manny Pacquiao fights in a long time. I’m going to bring it. Pacquiao did not get reminded in his last fight what it feels like to be up against a real champion. I’m the youngest, fastest, hungriest fighter that he’s ever been in the ring with. July 20, it’s the ‘Keith Thurman show’.”
“I never consider myself the A-side because my history says that I shouldn’t even be here. As beautiful as the belt is, it’s about more to me than that. It’s about legacy for me. I’ve been carrying myself as a world champion since the day I started this journey, so this is nothing new to me.
“I’m the whole package. I have speed, I have footwork, I have power, I have the heart and the will to win. Until you find someone else who’s all that, I’m going to keep having my hand raised.
“Where I’m from, there’s confrontation every day. This is nothing new to me. There are times I was told that I wouldn’t make it. Nobody paved the way for me like I’m from New York or Los Angeles. I paved my own way.
“Mike Lee is in uncharted territory. I’m curious on how he plans on beating me. Does he plan on roughing me up and trying to knock me out like my last opponent? Can he do that better than Jose Uzcategui? Is he going to try to outbox me with his hand and foot speed? Because there’s no person from 160 to 175 who could do that.
“I’ve been committed to the same thing for the last 18 years straight. Rain, sleet or snow, I stayed committed. I’m bred for this. I was created for this. It’s the only thing I’ve done my whole life. On July 20, I’ll be keeping the thing that I’ve worked my whole entire life for.
“At every decision that has to be made, you can go left or you can go right. From the genesis of my being, every time it was the moment to make a tough decision, I went the same way. Because I do not bend or fold for anything. No matter what’s tossed my way, this journey must go on for me. He said he has nothing to lose, but I have everything to lose.
“All the motivational videos that he watches and books that he reads, I’m the very essence and meaning of that. I’m the pinnacle of all those things he’s studied. You can’t learn mental fortitude in a book. Those things are earned, they’re not learned.”
“This is a dream come true for me. I’ve been through so much and there were days where I thought my dream was over. I’ve chased this since I was eight-years-old and I’m thankful for this chance to go after a dream that others thought I couldn’t reach.
“The beauty of this sport is that it’s only me and Caleb in there. Everyone else can only talk. I’ve been in the ring through adversity and stuck it out, because that’s the kind of person I am. I know that if I come on July 20 as the best Mike Lee possible, that I can win.
“I’ve been in the gym working every day. Doctors told me at one point that I wouldn’t fight again, but I’m still standing right here. I pushed through my pain to get here.
“I’m excited to be here in Los Angles, where we hold training camp. I’m bringing the belt back to Chicago, but Los Angeles is a second home to me.
“Today is the culmination of years of sacrifice, hard work and discipline. I’m undefeated for a reason but I feel people underestimate me and I like that. I’ve been underestimated my whole career. I’ve thrived off people say I couldn’t do it.
“I respect Caleb Plant. He’s the champion for a reason and I respect any fighter who can step into that ring. You have to be a different kind of animal to do that in front of all those people, and I am that animal.
“I’m coming with power, strength, speed and I’m going to give it everything I have. I’m going to become the new IBF Super Middleweight World Champion.”
RICHARD STURM, President of Las Vegas Live Entertainment & Sports
“I’d like to welcome back Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman, two of the world’s best fighters, back to Las Vegas and MGM Grand. Manny returns to the ring at MGM Grand following his convincing win in January while Keith will fight in Las Vegas for the first time in four years, looking to remain undefeated.
“We’re truly excited to be hosting this sensational event at MGM Grand and we look forward to seeing everybody in July.”
BILL WANGER, Executive Vice President of Programming, Research & Content Strategy for FOX Sports
“Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman is a living legend, versus a legend in the making. We’re excited to deliver an unprecedented night of boxing on July 20 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“Manny is one of boxing’s biggest stars. Keith Thurman is an undefeated world champion and a huge ratings draw. We’re excited to bring viewers inside the ropes and up close to the action on fight night, and produce extensive behind the scenes preview programming that will air across the FOX networks.
“FOX Sports is thrilled to have a battle on July 20 with such a compelling storyline to kick off a great night of championship boxing with the IBF champion Caleb Plant against the undefeated Mike Lee.
“In January, Caleb Plant headlined the most-watched boxing event ever on FS1. Now he’s fighting on the FOX network for the first time as the main event. At FOX Sports, big events that capture America’s attention are in our DNA. This fight certainly fits that bill.
“Our goal with the PBC deal is to build these fighters into household names, and we’re well on our way. We expect a great show on July 20 in Las Vegas.”
Fight Lit Book Review: Fighter by Andy Lee
By: Stephanie Kent
Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Fighter-Andy-Lee/dp/0717183440
Book Review: Fighter by Andy Lee
When Andy Lee announced his retirement in early 2018, he was asked how he’d like to be remembered. “An an honest boxer,” came his reply. “A fighter’s personality reflects in their boxing style, and if nothing else I was honest.” It seems the adage extends to a fighter’s memoir, too. Lee’s autobiography Fighter, written with Niall Kelly, is a candid reflection on a life in the sweet science.
Glossy pages of the book show photographs of Andy’s life and career, and the chubby youngster pictured is almost unrecognizable from the 6’2”, lanky world champion he will become. Born to Irish Traveller parents in London, Lee’s boxing story begins from play fighting (and bloody, not-so-playful fighting) with his brothers. At age eight, he begins training at Repton Boxing Club. Lee had his hand raised often, even as a young boxer. “As a kid, I never wanted to be a world champion,” Lee writes. “I just didn’t want to let anybody down.” Quickly, we see his evolution from kid brother trying to keep up, into a talented, hungry athlete.
Andy’s family move to Limerick finds him on the receiving end of schoolyard bullying, loneliness. He finds an identity in boxing: “It became a part of who I am,” he writes. “The thing that made me distinctive, the thing I told people about myself.”
As he continues to add to an already impressive amateur resume, we see Andy’s account of the phone call that changed the course of his career. Famed champion-maker Emanuel Steward hears of Lee’s recent tournament victory and calls the teenager at home with a proposal: come train with him at Detroit’s Kronk Gym and sign a professional contract. Young and unsavvy in business, Lee respectfully declines, citing his focus on the upcoming Olympic Games in Athens.
Following a devastating, medalless Olympic defeat to Alfredo Angulo, Andy begins to imagine what’s next. Courted by the Irish national team and American investors, Lee reflects (not for the last time) on how to make impossible business decisions with a boxing career. At this early stage, he’s built a team of trusted friends and advisors, and takes a leap of faith. As the Limerick chapters come to an end, we find Andy in Detroit, with Steward’s sights set on making him a world champion.
The Detroit section of the book reads how it must have felt to experience: a quick rollercoaster with too many twists and unseen obstacles to count. Andy acclimates quickly to his life at Kronk Gym; he moves into Emanuel Steward’s home and the relationship with his new coach quickly evolves into something that resembles a familial love and respectful mentorship.
We see Andy’s full, but sometimes lonely life in Detroit. We see his boxing sharpen. We see training camps and fights and victories and opportunities… and then we see his first loss. The devastating play-by-play of defeat by Brian Vera reads like it’s been on repeat in Andy’s mind ever since. Throughout Fighter, the authors dive deep into each loss… like any good champion, Andy obsesses over them, tries to pinpoint where he went wrong. These chapters don’t read like excuses, but rather, a thorough account of how to avoid the same mistakes in future battles. As Lee prepares for a comeback, we see him navigate the business of boxing and the treacherous management of an athlete’s career; there’s an omnipresent pressure from Lee’s investors trying to get their money’s worth.
Losses in Fighter aren’t limited to boxing matches; Lee recounts family and close friends who pass away during his career, including the death of longtime trainer Emanuel Steward. The Detroit section of the book ends with Andy sad, grateful, and at yet another decision point: who will he train with in the next chapter of his career?
In London, he sets up with trainer Adam Booth and after a short adjustment period, the new team launches into what will become the final fights of Lee’s professional boxing career. Quickly, we find Andy center ring at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, as he prepares to fight Matt Korobov for the WBO middleweight title. Lee wins in a sixth round stoppage. The chapter is a thrilling account of what it’s like to realize a lifelong dream.
True to Irish literary tradition, Fighter is lyrical and thoughtful; the book is about so much more than it seems on the surface. It’s an enjoyable read because it’s the tale of an underdog fighting his way to the top… but it’s also an inside look at how modern boxing works, the business of it all.
Fighter reinforces what many fight fans already know about Andy Lee: he’s likeable (what’s not to love about a bloke who wears track pants to a concert, surrounded by tuxedos?) and his humility is unmatched (“One punch won it for me tonight, and one punch could end it all just as quickly the next time”). There’s a kindness in the way Lee speaks of his sport and fellow athletes, but this doesn’t detract from his ferocity or commitment to it. On the final pages, we’re left with the sense that his work ethic is somehow contagious; above all, Fighter is the kind of book that makes you want to work harder, to master your craft, whatever it may be.
More Book Reviews
Boxing Insider Interview with Lee Eaton
By: Oliver McManus
“One of my really good mates died in 2012 and I remember that the last conversation we had was about going to see John Wayne Hibbert fight in Doncaster against Tommy Coward. I’ve always been a big boxing fan, that’s obvious, but I thought I’d do a charity boxing show in his memory. We sold it out, about 800 tickets, and raised £10,000 for charity. Went away from that and, to be honest, thought ‘hold up, if I can raise £10,000 for charity, why can’t I raise it for myself’. Obviously I’m not doing that yet but the basis is the same.”
The voice at the end of the phone was Lee Eaton, the face of MTK Global’s promotional arm, his route into promotion was not conventional and, by his own admissions, almost accidental. You could say it was a lucky break but there was nothing lucky about the initial circumstances that have led him to where he is.
Fortunate enough to have, management giants, MTK Global behind him, Lee doesn’t hide that his life has been made easier by their presence,
“When you have got a team like MTK behind you it makes it a lot easier. I have started from scratch, like most of us do, building the contacts but MTK put you on a different platform. It has surprised me how far we’ve come as a team, it’s not just me, but I believe we have come very far in the last two years. MTK, or MGM as it was, were big before I was around so that’s helped a lot.
I wouldn’t say we’ve got any direct competitors (on the promotional scene) because we’re doing our thing and have our own market. In the South, I would say it’s me and Steve Goodwin who are doing the biggest and best shows, doing the most as well. Don’t get me wrong, across the country, Stefy Bull, Carl Greaves, Errol Johnson for BCB, everyone is on the same sort of level and bringing their own thing. They’d probably agree, though, we are different and target different areas. MTK, I believe, do things a bit different. ”
A case in point, that Lee spoke strongly about, was their repeated desire for in-house fights to take place. Of course this occurs throughout various promotions but Eaton felt that MTK were at the forefront of this,
“Why give other fighters our opportunities when we’ve got plenty of my guys who deserve that opportunity. That’s the way we view it we’d rather give our own fighters the opportunities to further their career. We don’t force them into it, if they don’t fancy it, they don’t fancy it. I’d rather see two MTK fighters headlining a show than MTK vs someone else. They know, win or lose, we’ll take care of them afterwards so why wouldn’t you want that opportunity for your own fighters?”.
Conversation quickly moved onto plans for 2019, in particular the 24 ‘Premium Fight Night’s’ streamed live on iFL. Despite some noteworthy figures suggesting the streaming model could negatively impact on fighter finances, Eaton insisted the agreement is beneficial.
“It’s brilliant, it’s great for MTK Global. 24 shows we’re officially doing, from February 22nd we’re doing six weekends in a row, two week break, then four in a row again. It’s non-stop, I think we might push past 24 and head towards 30. Ever since I’ve started with MTK we’ve provided live coverage of some sort. People say it affects ticket sales, sometimes it does, but we still sell out. We sold out our first show at York Hall and people know that there is nothing like going to the show, in person, being in the crowd. From our perspective they are different markets and being able to stream live is fantastic, especially being able to build off the existing iFL audience.”
With three shows officially announced, thus far, but plans and fights in place until the middle of May, Eaton will promote more than his fair share of contests but March 9th is a card, as he told me, could “steal the show”.
“Michael McKinson vs Ryan Kelly is going to be a cracker, the easiest fight I’ve ever made. It was two phone calls and both guys jumped at it. We’ve got some really good contests, though, Sakyi vs Hill is another cracker. Welterweight’s are booming and I believe Michael McKinson is going to make a big, big statement this year. He’s seriously talented, I didn’t quite appreciate it until I saw him in with McNess. Sakyi was never meant to win that fight against Siar Ozgul, he did in dramatic circumstances, and now we’re guiding his career.”
The mention of Siar Ozgul proved a nice segue into discussing Eaton’s day-to-day role – matchmaking – and in particular I asked him about Ozgul’s fight against Viktor Postol. That particular bout was subject to a barrage of criticism but Lee explained to me why he felt the response was disproportionate,
“Look we got a phone call and Siar immediately said yes, he didn’t want to know about the money, he said ‘I fight, I win’. Then it’s our job to sort out a suitable purse and get the fight on, Siar was over the moon with what he got, everyone thought he’d get stopped but he want 10 rounds and didn’t look out of place. He’ll be back February 22nd, might get the winner of Sakyi vs Hill, we might go bigger.
There was huge criticism, a big backlash, people criticised me for accepting the fight. I’d never put a fighter in a situation where I think they’d get unnecessarily hurt. I knew how tough Siar was and is, if he got stopped he wouldn’t have got hurt because he’s tough enough to take a punch.”
Ozgul returns on February 22nd, at York Hall, and on that card is Sultan Zaurbek, a Kazakh fighter promoted by MTK. Thinking out loud, I suggested to the promoter that I’d been more impressed with Saurbek than, his hype-laden compatriot, Daniyar Yeleussinov.
“Yeah, him and Nurtas Azhbenov are great, great fighters. I’m in a group chat and we speak daily, they’re great kids and it’s a pleasure to work with them. I agree on Yeleusisnov, he’s not been all that but I don’t doubt he’ll transition well as time goes on, Sultan is one that I think will get people talking this year. I know he impressed on the Matchroom Monte Carlo show and 2019 will be great for him. No-one gets any special treatment, regardless of pedigree, they’re all treated the same and we’ll look after them the same. For me, though, keep an eye on Sultan this year.”
The day to day difficulties that the London man has to deal with are ones of matchmaking, trying to find the right guys for Sultan and the rest of his prospects is, by admission, one that takes up most of his time.
“You get these kids who say ‘I’ll fight him, I’ll fight anyone’ and you offer them a fight, they’ll make an excuse. The main issue I have these days is actually trainers, they’re more protective of the ‘0’s’ than the actual boxers. With Josh Adewale, we were putting opponents in, after the original pulled out, and they were getting okayed by Josh but they were getting sent back by the board of control. Then we had a couple approved, terms agreed, the fighters pulled out. All this on the week of the show. I had this last year with Joe Sherriff, I think it was four opponents pulled out and I was still trying to find him names on the Friday.
We have deadlines, you have to have paperwork at the board by 16.00 two days beforehand, to bring in a foreign boxer. It is horrible having to say that to one of my guys, that we can’t get them a fight, after all that training. Worst part of the job, it’s horrible”.
With each passing show comes a renewed hiccup, such is the inevitable nature of boxing, and with Lee estimating he spends 75% of his weekends on the road, it was a poignant reminder of how much of a bedrock his family is.
“I don’t need recognition, I’m happy doing the job that I love.The missus hates boxing, she used to come with me, but I think I’ve turned her off it. She comes to some of my shows but, other than that, I think her and boxing is a relationship that’s over. My little boy and my missus are my world, nothing compares. He’s my miracle kid, four years old. It’s always good to remember what matters in life and they keep me grounded.”
Dee Lee Promotions to Bring Live Boxing to Delaware on Saturday
By: Ken Hissner
Diane Fischer’s Dee Lee Promotions keeps Delaware boxing alive at the Hockessin PAL Center Saturday night with a 10 bout card. The matchmaker is Nick Tiberi.
In the Main Event Cruiserweight Lamont “The Problem Solver” Singletary, 9-2 (6), of Dover, DE, takes on Demetrius Banks, 9-5 (4), of Detroit, MI, 6 rounds.
In the co-feature southpaw Derrick “Take It to The Bank” Webster, 27-1 (14), of Glassboro, NJ, takes on Milton “El Misil” Nunez, 35-19-1 (31), of Barranquilla, Colombia, 8 rounds.
Super Lightweight “Jolt N” Joey Tiberi, Jr., 15-3 (8), of Bear, DE, takes on Francisco “El Mono” Medel, 12-14 (8), of Urapan, MEX, 6 rounds.
Super Middleweight Schmelle “The Real Deal” Baldwin, 1-0 (0), of Newark, DE, takes on Lashwanda Ellis, 0-1, of Wilson, NC, 4 rounds. Welterweight Vincent “Hollywood” Kirkley, of New Castle, DE, makes his debut taking on Tavares Owens, 0-6, Rocky Mountain, NC, 4 rounds.
Light Heavyweight Maurice “The War Time” Horne, 2-0 (2), of Middletown, DE, takes on Rahim Diggins, from Philadelphia making his debut, 4 rounds. Super Lightweight Justin Riley, Hockessin, DE, making his debut takes on Tyrone Shelton, of Wilmington, DE, making his debut, 4 rounds. Welterweight Emmanuel “The Feorican” Rodriguez, of Selbyville, DE, makes his debut taking on Eric Dean, 0-4, of Warren, OH, 4 rounds.
Welterweight Nigel Fennell, of Richmond, VA, makes his debut, taking on Antonio Allen, 0-8-1, of Philadelphia, 4 rounds. Welterweight Michael “The Hammer” Crain, 2-3 (1), of Smyrna, DE, takes on Dontre King, 7-19-2 (3), of Cambridge, MD, 4 rounds.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Trout, Shields, Lee, Hammer, Fury, Smith, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of May 29th to June 5th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Austin Trout Twitter Account/Chris Farina
Austin Trout Training Camp Notes
Austin Trout (31-4, 17 KOs), the former super welterweight world champion, is headed to Los Angeles today to meet current WBC Super Welterweight world champion Jermell Charlo inside the ring this Saturday, June 9 live on SHOWTIME from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast begins at 10 p.m. ET/PT and is headlined by the featherweight world championship rematch between Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares.
In Trout’s words, this fight is finishing the mission. Spiritually centered and in his prime physical condition, it is, in his own words, his time.
“People are underestimating me and overlooking me,” said Trout. “I earned and continue to earn respect in this sport and my competition can choose to ignore it or acknowledge it. I’ve beaten champions and taken titles. I’ve lost in controversial decisions to champions like Canelo. This is my time. Don’t underestimate the power I bring to boxing as well as the international competitors I’ve already stepped into the ring against and beaten.”
After his October fight against Jarrett Hurd and February’s unanimous decision victory over Juan De Angel, this WBC title bout, in Trout’s words, is the fight that no one saw coming.
“The Hurd fight was the danger fight,” he said of his October 2017 match. “It was part of the process of knocking out the ring rust, and De Angel was part of that as well. Everything I do or don’t do is circumstantial. Because of the layoffs, it’s been challenging; now I’m back on track timing wise and I plan on changing boxing’s plans for me. I’m not sitting back and waiting.
“I started boxing as a kid to stand up for people that were being disrespected, and as an adult I continue to do that in the ring.”
A long time top ten and former #2 in the 154-pound division by Ring magazine, Trout will be once against be working with D.C. based world champion trainer Barry Hunter, to whom his longtime cornerman, Louie Burke, worked as an assistant.
“We are calling this fight ‘finishing the mission.’ I’m squarely in a dangerous division that’s full of talent. It’s one of the top divisions in my opinion. Everyone’s a killer including myself. It has the perfect balance of speed and power. This is where I excel, plus I have the brain.”
Showtime to Live Stream Tyson Fury Return
SHOWTIME Sports has secured the U.S. rights to stream the long-awaited return of former heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury, who will face Sefer Seferi in a 10-round heavyweight bout Saturday, June 9 from Manchester Arena. SHOWTIME BOXING INTERNATIONAL® will stream live exclusively to U.S. audiences on the SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook page and SHOWTIME Sports YouTube Channel beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT.
In the opening bout, local hero Terry Flanagan (33-0, 13 KO’s) will look to become a two-division world champion when he clashes with unbeaten American Maurice Hooker (23-0-3, 16 KO’s) for the vacant WBO Junior Welterweight crown. This will be the fourth live streaming boxing event this year on SHOWTIME Sports social media platforms.
Live coverage for the Frank Warren promoted event will be provided by BT Sport and BoxNation with U.K. sportscasters John Rawling providing the blow-by-blow and Richie Woodhall the analysis. Boxing broadcaster Ray Flores and analyst Chris Mannix will deliver pre-fight and post-fight analysis from Staples Center in Los Angeles for the SHOWTIME Sports audience.
The live stream of Fury vs. Seferi will precede that evening’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® doubleheader that features WBA Featherweight World Champion Leo Santa Cruz in a rematch against fellow three-division world champion Abner Mares live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed in the West Coast) from Staples Center. In the co-feature, Jermell Charlo will face Austin Trout for the WBC Super Welterweight World Championship.
Fury (25-0, 18 KOs), a former WBA, WBO and IBF Heavyweight World Champion will end a two-years-and-seven-months exile from the sport on June 9. Fury has been inactive since outpointing Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf in November 2015 due to an injury, personal problems and a doping ban.
“I’m the fittest I’ve ever been,” said Fury, who has teamed up with new trainer Ben Davison. “Timing, reflexes, everything is better than it’s ever been. I kid you not. I’m 29 years old, coming into the prime of my life, I’m stronger and faster, holding more muscle mass than ever. I’m more confident looking at the competition.”
Albania’s Seferi (23-1, 21 KOs) is a 39-year-old Switzerland-based cruiserweight who is stepping up in weight and opposition when he faces the 6-foot-9 Fury. Seferi’s sole loss came in 2016 in a heavyweight bout against now-secondary WBA heavyweight champ Manuel Charr.
“This is going to be a hard fight for Fury,” said Seferi. “Two-and-a-half years out of the ring is a long time and nobody knows if he is still the same fighter that dethroned Wladimir Klitschko.”
Flanagan, the first Englishman to earn a lightweight world title, will seek to capture a title in a second weight class just days away from his 29th birthday. Hooker, a southpaw from Dallas, Texas and ShoBox alum, has been training with Terence Crawford. Hooker will look to follow in the footsteps of fellow Dallas resident Errol Spence Jr., who went to Kell Brook’s hometown of Sheffield, England to capture his first world championship.
Christina Hammer vs. Tori Nelson Added to June 22nd Claressa Shields Card
The women’s middleweight world championship between unified WBC and WBO titlist Christina Hammer and former world champion Tori Nelson has been added to the June 22 SHOWTIME telecast from Masonic Temple in Detroit.
In the main event, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and unified 168-pound champion Claressa Shields will attempt to become a two-division champion when she faces unified 154-pound titleholder Hanna Gabriels for the vacant IBF and WBA Middleweight World Championships.
With the addition of Hammer vs. Nelson to the June 22 SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION (10 p.m. ET/PT) telecast, all four women’s middleweight world titles will be at stake in separate bouts featuring two of the consensus top 10 pound-for-pound women in the world.
The winners of Shields vs. Gabriels and Hammer vs. Nelson will meet this fall on SHOWTIME to determine the undisputed women’s middleweight world champion.
Hammer (22-0, 10 KOs), of Dortmund, Germany, has dominated the women’s middleweight division for nearly eight years, losing just a handful of rounds in her reign as champion at 160 pounds. The 27-year-old, who will make her U.S. debut on June 22, won the WBO title in 2010 then became unified champion in 2016 with a win over defending WBC champion Kali Reis.
Nelson (17-1-3, 2 KOs) won a middleweight world championship in 2011 and owns wins over previously unbeaten Alicia Napoleon, Mia St. John, and Reis, who recently floored women’s welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus. The native of Ashburn, Va., suffered her first loss in a spirited decision to Shields this January on SHOWTIME in what was the toughest test of Shields’ young career.
“Now that I’m added to the TV portion of the card it gives me even more motivation to prove to the U.S. audience that I’m the best female fighter in the world,” Hammer said. “My plan is to do something that Claressa Shields couldn’t do – knock out Tori Nelson. Once I take care of business with Nelson, my goal is to fight the winner of Shields vs. Gabriels to become the undisputed women’s middleweight world champion.”
“Christina Hammer can’t bring anything I haven’t seen before,” Nelson said. “I’ve beaten Kali Reis, Mia St. John, Alicia Napoleon. I went the distance with Claressa Shields and I plan on beating Hammer on June 22 to earn my shot at revenge against Shields. This is my chance and I don’t plan to let it slip away.”
“Adding Hammer vs. Nelson to the card was the right move as we collectively work to elevate the status of women’s boxing at the highest level,” said Gordon Hall, Executive Producer of SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION. “The June 22 telecast now features two of the best pound-for-pound female fighters – Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer – in what will be our eighth presentation of women’s boxing since 2016. All four of the world titles in the women’s middleweight division are at stake on June 22 with the goal of the winners meeting this fall to determine an undisputed middleweight champion.”
“I am honored to promote this historic night of boxing on SHOWTIME in the championship city of Detroit,” said promoter Dmitriy Salita. “I believe these fights are in line with the best and most competitive matchups in the history of women’s boxing. All four of these fighters are coming from different parts of the globe to win a world title and show they are the best. It will be an exciting and explosive night of boxing from beginning to end for the fans attending the fight at the Detroit Masonic Temple and for those watching the fight live on SHOWTIME.”
Joe Smith Jr. to Face Melvin Russell on June 30th
JOE SMITH JR. (23-2 18KO’s) makes his much anticipated return to the ring on June 30th at Mohegan Sun Arena, in Uncasville, Connecticut. STAR BOXING’S “SLUGFEST at the SUN” is set to be one of boxing’s best cards thus far in 2018.
Already announced as the co-feature bout, highlights Rhode Island Native American warrior, KALI REIS (13-7-1 4KO’s) pitted against Hungarian , SZLIVIA SZABADOS (17-11 8KO’s). Kali is coming off of a historic power punching performance against undisputed champion Cecilia Braekhus, in the first female bout featured on HBO. Kali thrilled fans around the world in that fight, and promises the same action at Mohegan Sun on June 30th.
As a union laborer for Local 66 on Long Island, JOE SMITH JR. earned the title of the peoples champion when he burst onto the boxing scene in 2016. Working with a sledgehammer by day, and training by night, Smith Jr. defines hard work and determination.
The rise of Smith Jr. began when he took on, top rated light heavyweight, ANDRZEJ FONFARA on NBC in Chicago. As a 20-1 underdog, Smith Jr. destroyed Fonfara in the first round, knocking down the mighty Pole twice, before the referee called a stop to the onslaught. Later that year, Smith Jr. knocked legend, BERNARD HOPKINS on HBO, clear out of the ring, becoming the first person to ever KO the former multi-division world champion.
In the main event of Star Boxing’s “SLUGFEST at the SUN,” “THE BEAST” JOE SMITH JR. will be facing Kentucky’s MELVIN RUSSELL (11-4-2 7KO’S). The tough Kentuckian, who goes by the moniker “The Romantic Redneck,” has been in all out brawls with undefeated prospect Mike Wilson (then, 17-0 8KO’s) and world-title challenger Edwin Rodriguez (then, 28-2 20KO’s). Russell has proven the ability to go deep into fights, while still using a come forward offense. Fighting behind his jab, Russell will look to keep his distance from “THE BEAST” Joe Smith Jr., attempting to avoid his devastating power.
Smith Jr. returns to the ring after an eleven month layoff due to a broken jaw suffered in the second-round of his HBO fight against Sullivan Barrera last July. Smith Jr. said this about his June 30th return, “I am as confident and stronger than ever. I am ready to reclaim my position as one of the best light heavyweights in the world. Thank you all for the love and support over the past few years. I am ready to show the boxing world why I am the beast from the east.”
Star Boxing CEO, JOE DEGUARDIA, had this to say about June 30th, “Everyone in boxing has been anticipating the return of the “Common Man,” Joe Smith Jr.. He truly became the champion of the people, and is ready to get back in the ring on June 30th, to reclaim his position on top of the light heavyweight division.”
Mike Lee Inching Closer to Title Shot
There might not be a more well-rounded fighter on the planet.
Mike Lee (20-0, 11 KOs), who takes on Jose Hernandez (19-3-1, 9 KOs) this Friday night for the WBO Junior World Light Heavyweight World Title at The Allstate Arena in Chicago, brings all the intangibles that one would want in a professional athlete.
The card will be broadcast live on CBS Spots Network (9 PM ET) with an all-star announce team of International Boxing Hall of Famer Barry Tompkins and renowned Teddy Atlas.
Lee has not taken the route that most fighters take to get to the door of competing for a world title.
There isn’t the big name promoter. In fact there is no promoter at all. In a day when most fighters are afraid to test themselves, Lee’s last five opponents (Including Hernandez) have a combined record of 78-10-5.
Does Lee, take a vacation or just relax between fight? No he doesn’t, you have just as much chance to see Lee talking to major corporations or being a national spokesperson for a major company as you do as seeing him raising money for cancer stricken children.
Lee also brings a heart and determination into the ring as he battled and overcame autoimmune disease.
“Training camp in Los Angeles has been great. We had a good camp, I am 20-0 for a reason,” said Lee.
“I am not looking past Hernandez, but my dream is to win a a world championship one day. June 8th is a step towards that. I have everything in my body and mind towards that, and when I am determined, I am very difficult to beat.”
When Lee talks about what motivated to speak to companies around the country, it was that illness that almost derailed his career that came to mind.
“My career was almost taken away with autoimmune disease, and I wanted to tell my story. I have been lucky to speak to people and give techniques of visualization and mindset.”
“I am excited to fight in my hometown with a great crowd. I love fighting in a bigger venue which is a phenomenal arena. I have waited for this moment, and I can’t wait for Friday night.”
When WBO number-3 ranked light heavyweight contender Mike Lee (20-0, 11 KOs) takes on Jose Hernandez (19-3-1, 9 KOs) this Friday night at The Allstate Arena in Chicago. The card will be broadcast live on CBS Spots Network (9 PM ET) with an all-star announce team of International Boxing Hall of Famer Barry Tompkins and renowned Teddy Atlas.
Warrington Wins Close Decisions Against Selby
By: Sean Crose
In the raucous cauldron of Elland Road, hometown favourite, Josh Warrington became the new IBF featherweight champion, and Leeds’ first boxing world champion after earning a split decision over ‘Lighting’ Lee Selby.
From the first bell the crowd bayed for blood, and that’s exactly what they got as, within the first two rounds Lee Selby sustained a cut to his left eye, from what the crowd presumed to be a head clash, though it didn’t seem to deter the Welsh champion from taking the centre of the ring.
Photo Credit: BoxNation Twitter Account
Selby was fighting well from distance through 4 but seemed unable to react when Warrington rushed in and fired off combinations that threw the Welshman off his stride. By the 5th round, Selby’s face was streaming with blood, but the heavily favoured Warrington crowd were loving it, as Josh landed the crowd-pleasing punches, and began to gather momentum both psychologically and physically.
Into the middle rounds, and Warrington began to dominate, but the question remained over whether the Leeds native had the power to take Selby out. The IBF champion seemed so unable to avoid Warrington’s hooks. Time and time again ‘Lighting’ Lee looked dominant from a distance but as soon as Josh piled on the pressure, there was nowhere to hide for the Welshman as he struggled to dodge the attack coming his way.
The championship rounds were upon us in what seemed like fleeting moments, this was a featherweight classic, as both fighters seemed to be going hell for leather through rounds 9 & 10. By now, Selby’s right eye was cut along with his left.
In some cases, a boxer’s face post-fight doesn’t adequately tell the story, in this case however, it probably did. Warrington began to take control over ‘Lightening’ Lee through 10, 11 & 12, though not without a fight from Selby, but it proved not enough.
The scorecards came back as, 113-115 Selby, 116-112, 115-113 Warrington, and a new featherweight champion was crowned.
Selby understandably made a quick exit from the stadium post-fight, but Warrington was more than happy to talk about tonight’s bout, and the battles to come,
‘I’ve been doubted for a very long time…I’ve always been confident throughout the build-up of this fight. Press conferences, open workouts, I’ve always massively believed I’ve had this fight won…As soon as I got into the venue tonight, it all lifted.’
‘I was doubted at English level, I was doubted at British level…I haven’t got punching power, I haven’t got the speed, I haven’t got the boxing intelligence, but I’ve just out boxed and outfought and outsmarted a brilliant champion in Lee Selby.’
When asked about future fights, the new IBF champion wasn’t shy in mentioning Frampton in his plans,
‘Carl Frampton keeps on getting mentioned but Windsor Park might be a little bit too soon. I wouldn’t mind going back to the (First Direct) Arena and defend this baby, and then possibly see about fighting Carl after that.’
Jack Catterall vs Christopher Sebire
In what would’ve been the headline act of the undercard, if it hadn’t of ended so early, Jack Catterall continued his momentum by earning a technical knockout over Christopher Sebire.
Sebire weighed 2lbs over the limit going into the bout, but it made no difference to ‘El Gato’ as he went in for the kill as the first bell tolled. The Frenchman was knocked down by a precise left-hand straight from Catterall, and he stayed down from then on. Sebire complained of an injured shoulder, but even if true, he wanted nothing to do with the British super lightweight.
Catterall now moves on to bigger and better fights. Domestically, many fans are calling for an Ohara Davies vs ‘El Gato’ matchup, which would see how far Catterall is from the best of the British super lightweights, Josh Taylor.
Nicola Adams vs Soledad del Valle Frias
In her first scheduled 10-rounder, Nicola Adams made lightwork of three-time world title challenger, and now, 13-12-4, Soledad del Valle Frias.
As expected, Nicola dominated from the first bell and looked to impress her home crowd of Leeds fans immediately, though her body shot KO came just before the end of the 1st round and left a number of the crowd confused as to whether the fight had ended or not.
It turned out it had, as the referee waved away Valle Frias, and opened the door for Adams to challenge the likes of current super flyweight champions, Linda Luca, Guadalupe Guzman, Debora Dionicius, or the German based, Raja Amasheh.
Lee Selby vs. Josh Warrington Preview
By: Ste Rowen
Over the next three weeks, 3 of the 4 featherweight champions of the world defend their IBF, WBC and WBA belts. First to take to the ring will be IBF champion, Lee Selby, who stakes his IBF strap against Josh Warrington in a long awaited domestic clash.
The two will meet on Warrington’s home turf, and dream venue in Leeds’ Elland Road stadium. It’s a matchup that’s been long in the making, even before the two boxers moved over to Frank Warren’s, Queensberry Promotions from Matchroom, and in the ‘Face to Face’ programme which brought the two together to discuss prefight, Warrington said the rivalry stemmed from Selby’s disrespect towards the Leeds native,
Photo Credit: Frank Warren Twitter Account
‘In the early days, when the rivalry was building we shook hands and you seemed a bit timid about wanting to shake hands. I respected you from that day because you’d achieved everything. You did nothing from then on but downplayed my achievements…There’s been times when you’ve said, ‘Easy work. I’ll knock him out. Not on my level’ You’ve changed your opinion many times.’
Selby, 26-1 (9KOs) drew on his time when the two fighters were under the same promotional banner,
‘Your promoter at the time bought the titles off me in order to build you up in front of your crowd, otherwise you wouldn’t have had the Commonwealth title…Built you up ready for me to knock you out.’
The Welshman was last out in December on the James Degale vs Caleb Truax undercard when he dominated the previously unbeaten Eduardo Ramirez to a clear unanimous decision. That was Lee’s 4th defence of the world title he won back in 2015 after scoring an 8th round technical decision win over Evgeny Gradovich, a bout he was clearly ahead in before the head clash which ended the fight.
Since then, Selby’s fought away from home, and at Wembley stadium, so he’s not afraid of the hostile environment he’s expected to walk into on the night,
At the press conference earlier this week he said,
‘I should be ready to defend my world title anywhere in the world so it’s only 5 hours up the road from where I live. It’s not so much of a lion’s den…It’s just another defence.’
‘I treat every opponent the same. I don’t train for a certain style or opponent… The guys in Leeds want you to win, but the whole country is backing me.’
Warrington, 26-0 (6KOs) hasn’t fought since October, when he stopped 18-0-2, Dennis Ceylan in the 10th round and the man from Leeds has built a strong record, collecting some solid names, including victories over Rendall Munroe, Patrick Hyland and everyone’s favourite Spanish boxer, Kiko Martinez. Warrington, like at most events in the build for this featherweight world title clash, was once again in buoyant mood,
‘Last few months I’ve really put my body through hell…After all the talk of me and Lee fighting it’s come down to this camp and I’m gonna give it everything…I feel like this is meant to be…It’s come around how I always planned it.
‘There’s no need for anymore talking. On Saturday I get to punch you in the face… There’s no way you can or will be able to prepare for what you’re gonna expect on Saturday night.
Both fighters know that it’s not just a world title on the line on Saturday. Carl Frampton is still looking for someone to fight at Windsor Park in August, and this weekend’s winner is expected to be the opponent. But, with WBC champ, Gary Russell Jr facing off against the unbeaten Golden Boy prospect, Joel Diaz also on Saturday; the rematch of Santa Cruz vs Abner Mares in three weeks’ time, and Oscar Valdez making a steady return from injury since his defence against Scott Quigg two months ago, there’s plenty of options for the man who has his hand raised on the 19th in Leeds.
On the undercard…
Jack Catterall vs Mohammed Kani
The top of Saturday night’s undercard sees Jack Catterall 20-0 (11KOs) come up against 14-1 (0KOs) Mohammed Kani, to defend his WBO Inter-Continental super lightweight belt. Catterall had an impressive 2017 which included a 12-round decision victory over Tyrone Nurse to earn the British title, and he has already fought once this year, knocking out the journeyman’s journeyman, Kevin Macauley 15-163-12, with a body 1st round body shot.
His opponent, Mohammed Kani, also a southpaw, will be fighting outside of France or Monaco, for the first time in his pro career, a career that faltered slightly when he dropped an 8-round decision to fellow Frenchman Laid Douadi 14-0-1.
Speaking to ‘British Boxers’, Warrington didn’t seem to concerned with his opponent,
‘I’ve had a lot of southpaw sparring and orthodox so it’s not an issue. I know I’ve prepared for this fight no matter who they put in front of us so, I’m confident of putting another loss on his record on Saturday.’
Nicola Adams vs Soledad del Valle Frias
Two-time Olympic gold medallist, Nicola Adams will fight in her first schedule 10-round bout, in just her 4th fight when she takes on 13-11-4, Soledad del Valle Frias a former three-time world title challenger.
Adams, so far has only gone as far as 4 rounds and although she’s taken on a relative veteran of the female boxing scene, Nicola is just taking it as any other fight. Speaking to BBC she said,
‘This is another step up for me on my professional journey to a professional world title…My camp has gone perfectly and I can’t wait to fight in a football stadium for the first time.
Ohara Davies vs Christopher Sebire
Ohara Davies makes his first return to the ring since linking up with Frank Warren, after cutting ties with Matchroom at the end of last year.
Davies, 16-1 (13KOs) is schedule to fight the unbeaten, Josh Leather, 13-0 next month, so Saturday’s bout is expected to be a keep busy exhibition for ‘Two Tanks’. His opponent Frenchman, Christopher Sebire 26-10-1 (9KOs) is fighting in Britain for the second consecutive time, losing a 10-round decision to 20-1, Paul Kamanga back in November.
Rising To The Occasion: Maurice Lee
By: Sean Crose
Some people have tough backgrounds. Others have backgrounds so searing, it’s a wonder they’ve survived, much less prospered. Count Maurice Lee as being among the ranks of that second category. Aside from Manny Pacquiao, and perhaps Gennady Golovkin, this writer has never spoken to someone with such a challenging back story. A 7-1 southpaw from the Floyd Mayweather stable of fighters, Lee’s is nothing if not a story of perseverance. Growing up in California, the super lightweight was largely raised without the presence of a father, as his father was incarcerated. Lee’s mother also had stays in correctional institutions.
As for Lee, the young man found himself street fighting at the age of five so that adults could cash in on the winnings. Then, at the age of eleven, the pre-teen was shot seven times – once in the head. “I still have a bullet fragment in my head,” he tells me. Lee’s brother, who was with him at the time, was also shot. “I had to carry him home,” Lee says of the incident. And yet here Lee is, ready to face Joel Guevara on the undercard of the Ishe Smith – Tony Harrison card, which will be aired live on Bounce TV from Vegas this Friday night.
“I’ve had a very, very hard life,” Lee admits. Through faith, however, the man claims he was able to rise above the circumstances which could have destroyed him. “I felt that was God,” he says of his survival. “I give all glory to God.” Adhering to the adage that God helps those who help themselves, the fighter literally entered into the Mayweather universe unexpectedly several years back. “I just drove to Vegas and knocked at the door and said I’m here to spar Floyd Mayweather,” he says.
Rather than slam the door in his face, the crew at the Mayweather Gym had Lee spar one fighter after another. Then, convinced he was the right man for the job, team Mayweather had Lee spar Floyd himself – in preparation for the superfight with Manny Pacquiao, no less. Afterwards, Lee actually found himself a part of the famed Mayweather stable of fighters. “Man, he just showed me I’m on the right path,” Lee says of Floyd.
Describing the experience of being part of team Mayweather as “a blessing,” Lee points out how he’s been given quite the opportunity. “You’re constantly reminded what you can do with the sport through your promoter,” he says. So, does he see Mayweather himself much these days? “I saw him on his birthday,” says Lee, “and went to his house and hung out.” Lee makes it clear, though, that high living isn’t the only thing Mayweather is about.
“He goes in the zone,” Lee states, recalling Mayweather in training. Indeed, Lee describes the Mayweather training camp as “consistent,” and makes it clear that the words “hard work” were far from a throwaway line for the media. “He works out 2-3 times,” he says of his mentor. “The intensity of his training,” Lee claims, is notable. Lee also puts to rest a rumor that Mayweather took his last fight lightly, due to the nature of the competition. “For McGregor,” Lee claims. “He trained just as hard as he did for Pacquiao.” Something that proved unfortunate for the UFC star.
Lee openly admits that he himself hasn’t shown Mayweather’s dedication in the past, a fact that was highlighted by his last fight, a late 2016 unanimous decision loss to Cameron Krael. Lee, though, states that he learned his lesson. “I know that the only person that beat me was me,” he claims. “That’s what happened to me the last time.” It’s a mistake Lee doesn’t plan on making again. “I’m excited,” he says of his return. “I’m happy to be back in the ring.”
“My main focus is this Friday,” he says. “We’re focused on Friday.” At the moment, the Mayweather protégé is being trained by Jerry Rosenberg. It’s a union Lee is quite happy with. “We’ve been working really well,” he claims. “Great chemistry.” Lee also points out that: “I sparred a lot of middleweights for this fight.” With that in mind, Lee, who will be fighting above super lightweight on Friday night, doesn’t plan on staying out of the division. “After Friday,” he claims, “I will go back to 140.” With a renewed sense of focus and a career plan in place, Lee appears to be back on track after a spiritual detour. “My faith is back,” he adds.
So, it appears, is the man’s confidence. The fighter who was unafraid to knock on the Mayweather door is now eager to fulfill his career promise. “Obviously, I’ve had to work tremendously hard,” he says, “and believe in myself.” How great is that self-belief? If he could fight anyone throughout history, Lee says it would be Roberto Duran. “I would want to test my heart,” he says, knowing that Duran would happily provide such a test. Lee also has a new outlet through which he can practice his self belief. “My daughter was just born February 21st of this year,” he says. Parenting, like fighting, requires a sound outlook.
When asked what final words he would like to say in the interview, Lee suggests people “keep God first…anything is possible through Jesus Christ.” Like other fighters of faith (Manny Pacquiao and George Foreman come immediately to mind) Lee is able to find motivation through his beliefs. And he intends for that motivation to drive him to victory this Friday night in Vegas.
Showtime World Championship Boxing Results Caleb Truax Defeats Heavy Favorite James DeGale
By: Ste Rowen
James DeGale v Caleb Truax
It was supposed to be a challenging homecoming, not a do-or-die war, but the fight that should’ve propelled James ‘Chunky DeGale into unification fights in 2018 has left him beltless and wondering what’s next. American and one-time challenger for the WBA ‘Regular’ middleweight belt, Caleb ‘Golden’ Truax is the new IBF super middleweight champion of the world, and there can be no complaints against that.
Photo Credit: Sky Sports Boxing
It was DeGale’s first defence on home soil of the belt he won back in 2015 and from the first bell he seemed to be taking a more measured approach until he unleashed a flurry of left hooks, a notable weakness of Truax’s, and left his opponent stunned but not down. Truax did well to recover from that attack and continued into the second.
Caleb brought the fight to the champion from then on, as DeGale began to load up on left hands. The American won the round to even the scorecards going into the third. Through rounds three and four, a stiff jab from the American forced DeGale further and further back and allowed Truax to dictate how the fight would play out.
The fifth was a massive round for ‘Golden’ as he continued to pummel the IBF champ unanswered, with huge right uppercuts and straights. A brief rally at the end of the round from DeGale gave the impression to the home crowd that he was still in the fight.
The middle rounds saw the 2008 Olympic champion adopt a more stick and move style, but it wasn’t enough to keep Truax from coming forward without fear. The final three rounds were nip and tuck as DeGale began to employ a little of the darks arts with the forceful use of head and elbow. His little spurts of activity may have geed the crowd up but they would prove ineffective.
In the middle of the final round Truax lifted his arms in triumph, received mainly by cheers from a crowd that booed him into the ring. He’d won the hearts of the fans inside London’s Copper Box Arena, and with it the red strap that propels him into potentially huge fights in 2018.
The final scorecards came back as 114-114 and 115-112, 116-112 for the American. It was testament to Truax’s performance that when the 114-114 card was announced, it was met by boos. The crowd sensed another terrible 2017 scorecard but thankfully the right man won and a new champion was crowned.
Caleb Truax, now America’s second middleweight champion along with David Benavidez.
The Undercard highlights…
Lee Selby v Eduardo Ramirez
IBF Featherweight Champion, Lee Selby claimed a dominant points decision victory over Mexican challenger, Eduardo Ramirez to solidify his status as one of the best featherweights in the world.
The Welshman was fighting with style early on, whereas Ramirez was seemingly looking for the home run as he swung and swung, but never hit anything significant. Through the early rounds Selby showed his class. The southpaw in Ramirez did it’s best to show some essence of movement, but Selby’s jab was king through three.
Into four Selby began to take one to land two, frequently throwing combinations of hooks to be met by the occasional power shot response from the Mexican. More of the same followed through to round eight as Lee continued to dominate, but he was clearly looking to impress, made obvious by a number of wayward big left hands.
Despite a brief scare in the eleventh, as the Mexican rallied and landed a heavy left that gave Selby something to think about; the final five rounds saw Lee Selby do what Lee Selby does best. With a little more nastiness in the punches compared to previous fights, he established himself behind a dominant jab and chipped away at Ramirez’s remaining defences with consistent straight punches.
The final twelve round scorecards came back as 118-110, 119-109, 116-112.
Selby will now hopefully move onto a big 2018, with potential opponents such as, Josh Warrington, Scott Quigg, Carl Frampton and fellow belt holders, Gary Russell Jr, Oscar Valdez and Leo Santa Cruz.
Anthony Yarde v Nikola Sjekloca
Anthony Yarde became the first man to stop Nikola Sjekloca, as rising light heavyweight star, ‘The Beast’, earnt his fourteenth victory, and twelth straight knockout.
Yarde seemed to be precision personified, but it wasn’t a walkover. A man who has never been stopped is a man who wants to keep that record, but Yarde’s heavy hits only got heavier as he knocked down Sjekloca for the first time in the second round.
Sjekloca came with a reply at the start of round three, but again Yarde’s superior punches and the rate he was landing, kept the London native well on top.
At the start of the fourth Yarde landed big hit after big hit before knocking the Montenegrin down again, and then once more after continuous power punches and the referee stopped the fight with a brave Nikola still on his feet.
Yarde now 14-0 (13KOs) will surely be expecting the biggest fight of his career so far in 2018, a bout for the British light heavyweight title.
Daniel Dubois v Dorian Darch
Daniel Dubois made lightwork of one of Britain’s favourite heavyweight gate keepers in Dorian Darch, achieving his sixth consecutive knockout victory. But Darch didn’t come to lie down. Nearing the end of the first round, Dubois brought the firepower and knocked down his latest foe for the first time. Dorian survived, but not for long.
At the start of the second Dubois picked up where he left off and fired an assault on Darch, knocking him down three times in brutal fashion before the referee ended the fight and Dubois claimed his latest knockout victory. His record now stands at 6-0 (6KOS).
It’s a brave man that steps in with him next.
Joe Mullender v Lee Churcher
In a fantastic give-and-take fight between 10-2, Joe Mullender and 12-3-1, Lee Churcher, Mullender came out the victor, knocking Churcher down twice in round five and then again in the eighth and eleventh, when the referee waved the bout off and Joe Mullender became the new IBF East/West Europe Middleweight Champion.
Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: DeGale vs. Truax, Selby vs. Ramirez
By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night, James ‘Chunky’ DeGale headlines a card crammed with current and future British boxing stars at the Copper Box Arena in London.
The IBF champion, 23-1-1 (14KOs) is returning to the ring for the first time since his super middleweight unification attempt vs Badou Jack back in January this year, that ultimately ended in a draw but set the ball rolling for a fantastic year in the sport.
Photo Credit: Box Nation Twitter
Since then, DeGale has been held back by a shoulder injury that ruled him out of competing in the World Boxing Super Series, which resumes for the semi-finals in February next year.
It’ll be just DeGale’s fourth defence of the belt he won back in May 2015 after a unanimous decision victory over Andre Dirrell, and his first fight on home soil since he defeated Marco Antonio Periban on the undercard of Bellew v Cleverly in 2014. Since then the 2008 Olympic gold medallist has racked up decision victories over Lucien Bute, Rogelio ‘Porky’ Medina, and the aforementioned draw with now light heavyweight contender, Badou Jack.
His opponent, Caleb ‘Golden’ Truax, 28-3-2 (18KOs), has fought for a version of the world titles once before when he took on then WBA ‘Regular’ middleweight champion, Daniel Jacobs in 2015. Truax was being soundly beaten even before the twelth-round of that fight when, with 1:24 left on the clock Jacobs landed a right hand sending the Minnesota native sprawling into the ropes. The referee gave Truax the mandatory eight-count but after being allowed to carry on, Jacobs continued to fire off massive, unanswered rights and the referee put an end to the fight with Truax still on his feet.
Caleb attempted to bounce back when he returned ten months later to beat Melvin Betancourt via fourth-round TKO, and then took on Anthony Dirrell in April 2016, but he was simultaneously put on the canvas for the first time, and beaten for a third by the former WBC champion who took just 1:30 of the first round to drop Truax, and then again, his weakness for the right straight showed as Dirrell dropped him again and the referee stopped the fight.
Since then, ‘Golden’ has picked up two fairly routine stoppage victories over 5-15-0, Zachariah Kelley, and American middleweight, KeAndrae Leatherwood.
Caleb was no doubt surprised to get the offer of another world title shot in the form of James DeGale.
Speaking to the BBC about the challenger for his belt ‘Chunky’ said, “Truax is a good fighter, I’m not saying he’s a world beater… He dropped Jermaine Taylor when Jermaine Taylor was hot so he’s mixed it at a good level but he’s always just missed out… So, he’s no mug but this is the perfect opponent where I can look fantastic.”
DeGale also said this week he’s targeting another unification fight, this time with the recently crowned WBC champion, David Benavidez.
Co-main on the night will be IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby who is returning to the ring for the third time this year. He faces Eduardo Ramirez, 20-0-3, in his fifth fight since winning the IBF title from Evgeny Gradovich back in 2015. Last time out ‘The Welsh Mayweather’ fought Jonathon Victor Barros on the Eubank v Abraham undercard, dropping Barros in the twelth en route to a clear unanimous decision.
It’s not a dissimilar setup as Carl Frampton’s recent decision win against Horacio Garcia; the bout is seemingly the gateway to the super fights of 2018 against the likes of Leo Santa Cruz, Oscar Valdez, Gary Russell Jr and of course, former WBA Featherweight champion, Frampton.
In an interview from FrankWarren.com, Selby said, ‘Ramirez is a young, hungry Mexican who comes from a very good stable… He’s an undefeated southpaw and highly ranked by the IBF (11th). From clips I’ve seen, Eduardo’s a similar height as myself, if not taller, so I’ll not enjoy the advantages… My record shows I can always make the adjustments needed to win. I’m confident that my class will prevail’
His Mexican opponents’ most recent outing was a controversial draw in Vegas, with unbeaten, Leduan Barthelmy. Ramirez was viewed by most as doing more than enough to grant him the win, but Vegas was Vegas and handed Ramirez a third draw in his twenty-three-fight pro career. This will be Eduardo’s first scheduled twelve-round bout with his longest fight also being the ten-rounder mentioned above. The southpaw should not be an easy touch for Selby, the Welshman will need to box smart early when Ramirez attempts to fire off quick combinations of hooks and big overhand lefts. Experience could be key for Selby who’s been the twelve-round distance six times, three as a world champion.
Hot prospects, Light Heavyweight Anthony Yarde and ‘Dynamite’ Daniel Dubois will also feature on the card.
13-0-0 (12KOs), Anthony Yarde has been busy this year knocking out all four of his 2017 opponents, most recently scoring a third-round stoppage against former super middleweight contender, Robert Nemesapati, now 25-7-0.
He takes on never before stopped, Nicola Sjekloca, 32-4-1 (11KOs), who’s previous opponents include Callum Smith, Arthur Abraham and current WBA ‘Regular’ Super Middleweight champion, Tyron Zeuge. It’s certainly a step up though for Yarde. In his last fight in March, the Montenegrin went the twelve-round distance in a split decision draw to former WBO super middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz.
The only criticism to level against the light heavyweight prospect so far is the quality of opponent he’s come up against, even as early as it is in his career. Some would argue, you can only beat what’s put in front of you and ‘The Beast’ has certainly done so, showing speed, timing and a keen eye for the stoppage. It will be Yarde’s second scheduled twelve round fight; the furthest he’s gone so far is four when he was taken the distance by Latvian, Stanislavs Makarenko in the Englishman’s second pro bout.
Twenty-year-old heavyweight Dubois, 5-0-0 (5KOs) takes on 12-5-1 (1KO), Dorian Darch. Dubois has made an explosive start to his professional career but much like Yarde, is now being encouraged by fans to hurry along his early progress and the young Brit’s promoter obviously feels the same. Frank Warren is reportedly trying to get the British Board of Control to lower the age limit a fighter must be to challenge for the British heavyweight belt, currently set at twenty-one. Daniel’s 21st birthday is in September next year.
Unbeaten Heavyweight Lee “Italian Stallion” Canalito“ The Way It Happened..
Unbeaten Heavyweight Lee “Italian Stallion” Canalito“ The Way It Happened..
By: Ken Hissner
This writer remembers seeing Lee “Italian Stallion” Canalito fight in a couple of his twenty-one fights if memory serves me right. Good looking studd, physically fit and had Angelo Dundee in his corner.
Canalito was a lineman at Sterling H.S. in Houston, TX, and was on Parade magazine’s annual All-America H.S. Football Team in 1971. He played defensive tackle at the University of Houston for two seasons before his college football career was derailed by a knee injury. His coach Bill Yeoman at Houston said “if Lee Canalito had two good legs he would have been the best defensive college football player ever in college football.”
Canalito won the Houston Golden Gloves with only seven amateur fights. He was trained by Angelo Dundee from 1977 to 1981 when Richie Giachetti took over until 1987 when Canalito retired from boxing with a 21-0 record with 19 knockouts.
In 1978 Sylvester Stallone cast Canalito, who had never acted, to co-star in the 1978 movie Paradise Alley, which Stallone wrote and directed. He would appear in 1988 in The Glass Jungle and in 1990 in the Emperor of the Bronx. He also appeared on Magnum P.I. in their third season. He was managed by Texas millionaire Hugh Benbow and later by Stallonewhen he was 8-0 while trained by Richie Giachetti.
Canalito debuted in January of 1977 on the undercard of a Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran lightweight title defense at the Fontainbleau Hotel, in Miami Beach, FL, posting a knockout in two rounds. It would be his first of four bouts in the Sunshine State during his career. He stopped the first three opponents within two rounds before meeting then prospect Greg Sorrentino, 7-1-1, in St. Louis, MO, in May of 1977 winning a four round decision.
In 1978 starting a movie career kept him inactive for 19 months until returning to the ring in December of 1978 at the Convention Center in Miami Beach posting a first round knockout. In 1979 after scoring a first round knockout in FL, a month later he met veteran Charley Polite, 18-36-3, knocking him out in 6 rounds in Savannah, GA. He wouldn’t fight again for eight months returning at Madison Square Garden stopping Dennis Jordan, 13-7, in four rounds.
Canalito would be inactive for twenty months returning to the ring in July of 1982 scoring a third round stoppage in Atlantic City. Just eighteen days later he took on veteran southpaw Vic Brown, 29-29, and scored a first round knockout in Niles, OH. A week after that he stopped Luis Acosta, 15-5, in the first round in West Palm Beach, FL. That’s three stoppages in twenty-five days.
It would be just short of a year when Canalito returned to the ring in July of 1983 posting a first round knockout and an eight round decision over veteran James Dixon, 15-29-2, both in Atlantic City. Dixon seemed more concerned on survival than winning. Nine months later he would fight in his home city of Houston for the first time in 1984 posting three stoppages that year all in Texas.
In March of 1985 Canalito stopped Lou Benson, Jr., 15-8-2, in Atlantic City and six months later in the same Sands Casino stop Steve Zouski, 24-8, in seven rounds. In 1986 he returned to Houston scoring a seventh round knockout and eight months later stopping Dan Ramsey, 6-3, in the first round in Las Vegas.
Ten months later Canalito would end his career with a first round stoppage over Mike Jones, 4-1, in Houston in September of 1987. As you can see having only twenty-one fights over ten years meant he was a part-time boxer but had an impressive record.He was 6:05 with a high weight of 269 and a low of 239.
Canalito had five fights each in New Jersey and Texas along with four in Florida. If he would have been a full-time boxer this writer is sure he would have been a contender as he was No. 9 in the world then and a title challenger today. Upon retiring as a boxer he opened up the Lee CanalitoVIP Boxing Gym in Houston.He has provided inter-city HISD elementary, junior and senior high school after school boxing and fitness programs.
“He retired from football and was just starting to box when I met him. Great guy and a fun guy,” said Termite Watkins.
KEN HISSNER: After your football career came to an end at Univ. of Houston is that when you turned to boxing and if not when?
LEE CANALITO: Came along with a friend who was competing in the Golden Gloves. Won novice and open went to Nationals and won 2 fights and hurt my hand and had to withdraw.
KEN HISSNER: Your trainer Angelo Dundee I’m sure was high on you. When did you switch over to Richie Giachetti?
LEE CANALITO: Angelo saw me in the Gloves and contacted me. He was the best one to communicate with me. He never yelled but the rest of the trainers did and I didn’t need that. I had 8 fights and we parted in a good way. When Stallone took over as my manager that is when he brought Richie in to train me.
KEN HISSNER: How was your fight with Greg Sorrentino?
LEE CANALITO: I had a swollen knee but took the fight and he was hard to hit. I only had a couple days of sparring.I felt I won and was in charge.
KEN HISSNER: After having 4 fights in your initial start in 1977 you had a 19 month gap until your next fight the end of 1978. What happened?
LEE CANALITO: A fight with Gerry Cooney fell through when they didn’t accept the offer.
KEN HISSNER: In 1982 your wins over Vic Brown and Luis Acosta were good wins. A win over James Dixon in 1983 was another good win. 1984 was a 2-0 nothing year and 1985 you came up with another good pair of wins. Did your acting career take away from your boxing career?
LEE CANALITO: Acosta fight he had many fans there. Dixon did nothing but run.
KEN HISSNER: Your last two fights were good wins. What made you finally retire from boxing?
LEE CANALITO: I lost interest. There were too many fights falling through and too many broken promises.
KEN HISSNER: I know you opened a gym called Lee Canalito V.I.P.Gym. How is that? I’m sure you probably had more non-boxers than boxers in order to make any money doing it.
LEE CANALITO: Most favorite thing is holding pads especially with kids. When you work with non-boxers you get paid regularly unlike you do with boxers.
KEN HISSNER: Any funny stories you can talk about?
LEE CANALITO: When I was with Angelo in Miami Ali was there. In the dressing room he said let’s do this for the reporters out in the gym. He started banging on the lockers and yelling “I’m the Greatest”. He told me to go out and shadow box like we are mad with each other. We did just that and he was yelling and then stopped. He was one of the funniest people. I thought he was the best heavyweight of all time and I was glad to have sparred with him several times. I also sparred with Riddick Bowe and Tyrell Biggs and I felt I held my own. I’m not saying it in a bragging way.
KEN HISSNER: What was your feeling prior to waiting for the opening bell of a fight?
LEE CANALITO: I sized the opponent up and when we started boxing I showed him respect but when you get hit you react. I believe you should treat people with respect.
KEN HISSNER: Lee do you attend a church?
LEE CANALITO: Yes I do and I believe strongly in God. I attend St. Mary Queen Catholic church as often as I can.
KEN HISSNER: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer questions and wish you all the success in the world in the future.
LEE CANALITO: It was my pleasure talking to you Ken.