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HBO Boxing After Dark Preview: Francisco Vargas vs. Miguel Berchelt, Takashi Miura vs. Mickey Roman


HBO Boxing After Dark Preview: Francisco Vargas vs. Miguel Berchelt, Takashi Miura vs. Mickey Roman
By: William Holmes

On Saturday night HBO will present two fights on their Boxing After Dark Series to run against the Showtime card that features a rematch between Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton.

Saturday’s card will feature two bouts in the Super Featherweight Division live from the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. Golden Boy Promotions will be the lead promoter on this event.

The two bouts on the card will be a WBC Junior Lightweight Title fight between Francisco Vargas and challenger Miguel Berchelt. The co-main event of the evening will be between Takashi Miura and Miguel “Mickey” Roman in a WBC Junior Lightweight Title eliminator.

The following is a preview of both televised bouts.

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Takashi Miura (30-3-2) vs. Mickey Roman (56-11); Junior Lightweight

This should be a fan friendly fight and both boxers are known for their power. The winner of this bout will likely face the winner of the main event in the near future.

Miura has twenty three stoppage wins and two stoppage losses. Roman has been on a tear recently and has forty three stoppage wins and only one stoppage loss, including six straight wins by stoppage. However, Roman did not experience a lot of success early on in his career as evident in his eleven total losses.

Miura will be one year older than Roman, and will also be about an inch and a half taller. Miura is a southpaw and Roman fights out of an orthodox stance so we have a fight that will likely feature numerous clashing of heads.

Roman, who hasn’t lost since 2012, has defeated the likes of Edgar Puerta, Daniel Ponce De Leon, and Juan Carlos Salgado. However, he usually loses when he takes a step up in competition and has lost to the likes of Antonio DeMarco, Jonathan Victor Barros, Miguel Beltran, Antonio Escalante, Fernando Beltran, Javier Fortuna and other less descript opponents.

Miura has losses to Francisco Vargas, Takashi Uchiyama, and Yusuke Kobori. He has defeated the likes of Billy Dib, Edgar Puerta, Sergio Thompson, Gamaliel Diaz, and Yoshimitsu Yashiro.

At first glance this looks like a fight that Miura should win easily, but you can’t discount the success that Roman has had recently and his current string of stoppage victories. Miura should still be considered the favorite, but Roman will make it a tough decision for him to win.

Francisco Vargas (23-0) vs. Miguel Berchelt (30-1); WBC Junior Lightweight Title

This has the potential to be a barn burner and an early candidate for fight of the year.

Vargas, the current WBC Junior Lightweight Champion, is coming off of a majority draw in a crowd pleasing fight with the rugged Orlando Salido. Vargas only fought once in 2016 and twice in 2015, but he made his first fight in 2017 a tough one.
Vargas has a deep amateur background and represented Mexico in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Berchelt is a three time Mexican National Boxing Champion as an amateur.

They both have power in their hands. Berchelt has twenty seven stoppage wins and his past four fights have come by stoppage. Vargas has seventeen stoppage victories and three of his past four fights resulted in a stoppage win.

Berchelt will be seven years younger than Vargas on fight night and will also have a one inch height advantage and about a two inch reach advantage. Berchelt has also been more active than Vargas, he fought twice in 2016 and four times in 2015.

The difference between Vargas and Berchelt becomes most evident when comparing their professional resumes. Saturday will only be Berchelt’s second fight outside of Mexico as a professional. His notable victories include Suriya Tatakhun, Sergio Puente, Rene Gonzalez, and Oliver Flores. His lone loss was to Luis Eduardo Florez.

Vargas has defeated the likes of Takashi Miura, Will Tomlinson, Juan Manuel Lopez, Abner Cotto, Jerry Belmontes, and Brandon Bennett.

This is an interesting matchup, especially since Berchelt has some heavy power in his hands and is a three time Mexican National Champion that has very limited exposure to the American audience. But, Vargas is the better tested fighter and is still in the midst of his prime.

It’s possible that Vargas will be overlooking Berchelt and will be looking forward to his rematch with Orlando Salido, but it appears unlikely that Berchelt will walk away with an upset victory.

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Gatti vs. Gomez: The Thunder’s Last Rumble


Gatti vs. Gomez: The Thunder’s Last Rumble
By: Ron Scarfone

In June 2003, Arturo “Thunder” Gatti and “Irish” Micky Ward completed their trilogy of three consecutive fights. Ward won by majority decision in the first fight. Gatti won the second and third fights by unanimous decision. The first and third fights won Fight of the Year honors. Ward announced his retirement after their third fight. However, Gatti remained active and won the vacant WBC super lightweight title which has a 140 pound weight limit.

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Gatti successfully defended his title twice, but lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in his third title defense. For his next fight, Gatti moved up to the welterweight division and won the vacant International Boxing Association (IBA) welterweight title, but lost to Carlos Baldomir in his first title defense. Baldomir was the WBC welterweight champion, so his title was also at stake. Baldomir retained his WBC title and obtained the IBA title after defeating Gatti by TKO. Gatti was knocked down twice in the ninth round and the fight was stopped. Gatti was IBF super featherweight champion and WBC super lightweight champion in his career. Once Gatti moved up to welterweight, he could only win the lightly regarded IBA welterweight title. Nearly a year after Gatti fought Baldomir, Gatti was scheduled to fight Alfonso Gomez on July 14, 2007. This was a non-title bout in the welterweight division. Gomez is best known for being a contestant on the first season of The Contender television show.

At the time, I was working for the original Boxing Tribune website as an editor, writer, and videographer. The owner of the website asked me if I would make a video of Gatti training in Pompano Beach, Florida at Sultan Ibragimov’s gym. Ibragimov was the WBO heavyweight champion and had won the title in June 2007 against Shannon Briggs. I did get to meet Ibragimov a few months later and record his workout on video when he was preparing for his first title defense against Evander Holyfield. When I previously made videos of boxers in training, I just asked the boxer, his trainer, or his manager if I was allowed to. I found out that Micky Ward was training Gatti for this fight. Ward and Gatti were friends after their famous trilogy of fights. I was able to obtain Ward’s phone number and called him. I asked Ward if he would allow me to bring my digital camera and make a video of Gatti training. Ward told me that it would be okay with him if Gatti’s promoter said it was okay. I then called Main Events which was the promotional company for the fight and Gatti’s promoter. I talked to a woman and I assume it was Main Events promoter Kathy Duva, but I didn’t ask. I just asked if I could have permission to make a video of Gatti. She said if it was okay with Ward, then it would be okay. I told her that Ward said it was okay if Main Events said it was okay. She reiterated that if Ward said it is okay, then it is okay. Neither Ward nor Main Events wanted to make the final decision. I decided that I would go to the gym and tell Ward that they said it was okay, but not refer to who “they” are.

I knew what time the training was supposed to begin, but arrived at the gym earlier before anyone else. The gym was in a warehouse next to other warehouses of the same building. I assumed that Ibragimov and the other businesses there were paying rent. I saw a car park in front of the gym. Ward got out of the car and someone else did too. I stared at this person because I remembered that I saw him before, but I forgot who he was and where I saw him. He looked at me watching him, so I approached him. “You look familiar,” I said. “I’m Jeff Fraza,” he replied. I immediately remembered where I saw him before. Fraza was a contestant on the first season of The Contender television show in 2005. Gomez was also on the show during that time. “What are you doing here?” I asked. “I’m Arturo’s sparring partner,” Fraza said. Is it possible that Fraza was chosen as a sparring partner because of being on The Contender show? Did he have some inside information about Gomez? That probably was not the reason. Fraza was on the show only briefly and had to leave early due to having chicken pox. However, Fraza did return for the second season of The Contender in 2006. I believe Fraza was chosen to be Gatti’s sparring partner because he was a friend of Ward. Both Ward and Fraza were from the state of Massachusetts.

An African-American man was overseeing Ibragimov’s gym and he came to unlock the door. It was a small gym, but it had a ring and a speed bag. A large teardrop punching bag was suspended over the center of the ring. It looked like a wrecking ball. This type of bag can be used for punching and kicking. Gatti arrived shortly after the gym was opened. I took my digital camera out of my bag and talked to Ward. “They said it was okay,” I said. “Okay,” Ward said. Gatti put on a sweat suit. This is also known as a sauna suit. It helps athletes to lose water weight and also to increase their metabolic rate which stimulates the body to burn more fat. Gatti began jumping rope while wearing the sweat suit, so I recorded Gatti on video. Ward saw me and told me not to record while Gatti was wearing the sweat suit.

Obviously, Ward did not want Gomez to know that Gatti was having trouble making weight. I deleted the video and waited until Gatti removed the sweat suit. After several minutes of Gatti jumping rope, he removed the sweat suit and then he resumed jumping rope. I began recording the video of Gatti using the jump rope for a few minutes. Gatti then entered the ring. Gatti punched the large teardrop bag which was hovering over the ring. One time though, Gatti did a front kick to the bottom of the bag. Ward jokingly said “UFC” and then the African-American man also jokingly said “K-1.” K-1 combines martial arts such as karate, kung fu, taekwondo, Muay Thai, and kickboxing. K-1 fights take place in a ring and the fighters wear gloves similar to boxing gloves.

After Gatti was finished punching the teardrop bag, Ward entered the ring and put on focus mitts. It was interesting to see Gatti and Ward in the ring together again, but not as opponents of each other. Gatti punched the focus mitts worn by Ward. After this part of the training, Gatti punched the speed bag. I stood near Gatti and recorded him with my camera as he was training with the speed bag for a few rounds. Gatti briefly glanced at me while he was punching the speed bag and then he focused his attention on the bag. Gatti still had more training to do after this session. I was wondering when he was going to spar Fraza and if I could record that on video. Apparently, Gatti was going to spar Fraza later in the day. Nevertheless, Gatti did not want me to record him sparring Fraza. This was understandable, especially because he did not want to reveal any strategy before his upcoming fight against Gomez.

However, Gatti did offer to let me record him doing weight training at another gym. I politely declined because I was eager to edit the footage I already had. As I predicted, Gatti’s training video was very popular with boxing fans and the original Boxing Tribune website got a lot more views as a result. The website no longer exists, so the video is not available for the public to view.

I did not think Gatti’s fight against Gomez would be his last fight, but I did not expect Gatti to win. His training session was not grueling and he was wearing a sweat suit for part of the training in order to lose weight. If he was having trouble making weight, then that could affect his strength and punching power in the fight. Also, Gatti’s performance in his previous fight was a sign that Gatti’s skills were in decline. When Gatti was knocked down twice and lost to Baldomir who had nine losses on his record, that was reason to believe that Gatti was not as good at welterweight. The loss to Baldomir was only a year before his fight against Gomez. Gomez was not an elite boxer, but he had skills and only had three losses on his record which were all close losses by unanimous decision. Furthermore, Gomez was a super welterweight in his previous few fights before facing Gatti. Gomez was coming down to welterweight for this fight, but Gomez was a welterweight earlier in his career and seemed to do equally well in both weight classes and even fought at middleweight a few times when he was on the first season of The Contender. Gatti was at a disadvantage against an opponent like Gomez who had the versatility to fight at different weight classes. Gomez was also about eight years younger than Gatti who was 35 years old which is not very old for an athlete, but he did have a lot of brutal fights in his career which aged him.
The Tale of the Tape revealed that both Gatti and Gomez had the same arm length at 25 inches. Their heights were similar with Gatti at 5’8” and Gomez at 5’9”. The fight was televised on HBO. It was scheduled for ten rounds. The fight was in Atlantic City, New Jersey which is the state where Gatti lived. Of course, most of the audience wanted Gatti to win. HBO gave Gatti his choice among a few possible opponents and Gatti ultimately chose Gomez because he was viewed as beatable. Essentially, Gomez was handpicked. It turned out to be a bad decision for the reasons that I stated. After Gatti’s fight against Baldomir, Gatti was inactive for nearly one year. It was 356 days which was the longest inactivity of his career. Ring announcer Michael Buffer did not even say Gatti’s nickname “Thunder” when introducing Gatti. It was as if Gatti no longer had thunderous power in his punches. Instead, Buffer extended the o in Gatti’s first name Arturo for as long as humanly possible: “Arturoooooooooooooooooooooooo Gatti!”

In the first round, Gomez’s punches were more precise than Gatti’s. It was apparent that Gomez was bigger than Gatti even though they weighed about the same for the weigh-in. Gomez was counterpunching better than Gatti. As a result, Gomez landed some hard punches to Gatti’s head. Gatti did better in round two, but Gomez still probably won the round. Ward was in Gatti’s corner giving advice to Gatti during the break between the rounds. After round three, Ward told Gatti that he needed to throw more punches and combinations as well as use his speed. Harold Lederman of HBO unofficially scored the fight 30-27 in favor of Gomez for rounds one through three. In round four, Gomez continued his dominance landing hard left jabs, left hooks, and straight rights. After round five, Ward warned Gatti about Gomez’s right hand and for Gatti to keep his left hand up for defense. In round six, Gomez still was able to connect with the right hand. Lederman scored the sixth round in favor of Gatti which was a surprise to me. I thought that Gomez won the round. In round seven, Gomez landed a double right hand to the head that hurt Gatti. Gatti was being pummeled against the ropes. Gatti managed to remain standing. Gatti was then standing in one of the ring corners. Gatti and Gomez exchanged left jabs to each other’s head, but Gomez countered and landed a strong right hand to the head that floored Gatti immediately. Larry Hazzard entered the ring and waved his hands while the referee was counting. Then, the referee waved his hands after seeing Hazzard do this. Hazzard was the commissioner of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. Gatti was cut on the lip as a result of the knockout punch. The time of stoppage was 2:12 of round seven. Gomez won by TKO. Gomez landed 46% of his punches. Gatti landed only 21% of his punches. Gomez landed 216 punches and Gatti landed 74 punches. Gatti said after the fight that Gomez was stronger and the bigger man. Gatti also said that he is different when fighting at 140 pounds compared to 147 pounds, but he can no longer make the 140 pound weight limit. Gatti announced his retirement because he did not want to continue fighting at 147 pounds.

It was ironic that I found out about Gatti’s death while I was at a boxing event. On July 11, 2009, I was at the IBF bantamweight title fight between Vic Darchinyan and Joseph Agbeko. The fight was in Sunrise, Florida and Don King was promoting the event. I had a press credential, but there were a lot of journalists there. The original Boxing Tribune website was gone. I was sending articles to East Side Boxing. I was sitting behind other journalists and noticed a laptop screen of a writer. He was reading an article on a website and this was the title of it: Arturo Gatti Found Dead. I was stunned and saddened at the same time. How? Why? Gatti was 37 years old. Gatti was on his second honeymoon with his wife and baby in Brazil. Gatti was found dead in an apartment. Blood stains were on his neck and back of his head. Initially, the police in Brazil charged Gatti’s 23-year-old wife Amanda Rodrigues with Gatti’s murder. Police stated that Rodrigues used her purse strap to choke Gatti. Rodrigues’ purse was found stained with blood. However, Brazilian police ultimately concluded that Gatti committed suicide by using his wife’s purse strap to hang himself. The police made this conclusion after the coroner’s report was released. Gatti’s friends and family did not believe that Gatti would do such a thing. Private investigators from the United States who were hired by friends of Gatti concluded that Gatti had been killed by being hit from behind and then strangled. Rodrigues claimed that she was innocent and she was released from jail because the Brazilian authorities no longer considered her a suspect. I believe that Gatti was murdered.

I still think about the fact that I met Gatti just two years before his death in 2009. His sparring partner Jeff Fraza died in 2012 as a result of being hit by an empty train on commuter tracks in Massachusetts. It was reported that Fraza was walking on railroad tracks and appeared to be talking on a cellphone. Police said that the train was travelling at 35 miles per hour. Gatti’s record was 40-9, 31 KOs. He was a world champion in two weight classes by defeating Tracy Harris Patterson for the IBF super featherweight title in 1995 and Gianluca Branco for the WBC super lightweight title in 2004. Gatti was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2013. There was debate by boxing fans as to whether Gatti deserved to be inducted. He would still be remembered even if he had not been inducted. Gatti was in four fights that won Fight of the Year honors and that is one of the main reasons why he was inducted. Gatti always wanted to give fans their money’s worth and was known as The Human Highlight Reel. Gatti’s fight against Gomez was the last time the “Thunder” rumbled and it was his last rumble. It would have been great if Gatti was alive to accept and see his induction into the Hall of Fame. Because of his tumultuous marriage and his untimely death, Gatti was not able to enjoy his retirement and his family and friends miss him. I am sure that the friends and family of Fraza miss him too. Rest in peace Arturo Gatti and Jeff Fraza.

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PBC on Spike Results: Barthelemy Defeats Bey by Split Decision, Rodriguez Decisions Guevara


PBC on Spike Results: Barthelemy Defeats Bey by Split Decision, Rodriguez Decisions Guevara
By: William Holmes

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida was the host site for tonight’s Premier Boxing Champions Card on Spike TV.

Mayweather Promotions in association with King’s Promotions and Panther Promotions put on tonight’s card.

Weigh In_Presser_Stephanie Trapp  _ Mayweather Promotions _ Premier Boxing Champions
Photo Credit: Stephanie Trapp/Mayweather Promotions/Premier Boxing Champions

The opening bout of the night was between Puerto Rican boxer Emmanuel Rodriguez (14-0) and Mexican fight Alberto “Metro” Guevara (24-2) in the bantamweight division.

Both boxers fought out of an orthodox stance Guevara attacked the body and had moderate success with his double left hook combination. Rodriguez was accurate with his straight right hand early on and was able to stagger Guevara with a left hook near the end of the round.

Guevara had a decent second round and out threw Rodriguez, but Rodriguez had the stronger shots and even took the body attacks of Guevara well.

Rodriguez picked up his pace in the third round and his left hook was stinging Guevara, and his counter punching continued to improve in the fourth and fifth rounds. The area near Guevara’s left eye was cut in the fifth round from a head butt and the blood appeared to bother him throughout the fight.

Rodriguez’s jab and pressure was just too much for Guevara to handle. Guevara was able to land some combinations, but he didn’t have the power to hurt Rodriguez, while Rodriguez’s straight right hand was able to effectively slow down and neutralize Guevara.

The final scores were 99-91, 100-90, and 99-91 for Rodriguez.

The second bout of the night was between middleweights Caleb Plant (12-0) and Carlos Galvan (12-4-1) in a short six round fight.

Plant has some moderate hype behind his name, and he looked in control in the opening round and looked like the bigger fighter inside the ring.

Plant however was in the ring with someone who never defeated an opponent with a winning record. Plant briefly had an offensive burst in the second round and did a lot of show boating after dodging punches in the third round, but some in the crowd started to boo his defensive style inside the ring.

Plant surprised everyone with a hard left hook to the body out of nowhere in the fourth round that sent Galvan to the mat for a full ten count.

Caleb Plant wins by knockout at 1:24 of the fourth round.

The main event of the evening was between Rances “Kid Blast” Barthelemy (24-0) and Mickey Bey (22-1-1) for the IBF Lightweight Title.

Both boxers fought out of a conventional stance and Barthelemy established himself as the aggressor early on and attacked the body of Bey.

Barthelemy continued to control the bout in the second round and his reach was appearing to give Bey problems, until a head butt occurred in the second round that forced Barthelemy to fall to his knee. The referee, incorrectly, ruled it a knockdown.

The knockdown seemed to awaken Rances Barthelemy and he was extremely aggressive in the third and fourth rounds and pounded the body of Bey and kept his opponent moving backwards.

Bey was able to take control of the fifth round by sticking to his jab and popping and moving before Barthelemy could trap him. The sixth round could have gone either way, but Barthelemy was the aggressor.

Barthelemy did a good job at catching the punches Bey in the seventh round and was able to work around the jab of Bey. Barthelemy came on strong at the end of the eighth round and got his Cuban supporters in the crowd on it’s feet.

By the ninth round Bey was falling badly behind on the cards and by the championship rounds he needed a knockout to win.

That knockout didn’t come, and Bey was simply outworked by Barthelemy for the remainder of the fight.

The final scores were 117-110 Barthelemy, 117-110 Bey, and 116-111 Barthelemy.

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