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Update on Boxers from the 2012 Olympics


By: Oliver McManus

Whilst flicking through an array of Wikipedia pages in my boredom last week I found myself repeatedly coming back to the Boxing at the 2012 Summer Olympics article with disbelief at the sheer plethora of talent across the weight divisions. It’s one thing to be a world class amateur but it’s another to be a cracking professional fighter so, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the star fighter from each weight category from London 2012;

Light Flyweight – Zou Shiming

The gold medalist from 2012 in the light fly division, Zou Shiming turned professional shortly after at the ripe old age of 32 but with the backing of, top dog, Bob Arum he always looked destined to crack the big time.
And so he did as the 5ft 4in won his first title, the WBO International flyweight, in his fifth bout with thanks to a wide points decision over Luis de la Rosa before a name-making clash with Prasitsak Phaprom secured the Chinese sensation a world title shot against Amnat Ruenrong.

In this fight, and in his fight with Sho Kimura (for the WBO World title last July), his power at the weight class was clear to show and Ruenrong was dropped early in the second to prove this factor; whilst not in possession of knockout punch power, his combination of awkward foot movement and repetitive jabs ensures he’s a nightmare for all he comes across.

Unfortunately his susceptible chin has also shone through as he lost a unanimous decision to Ruenrong, before going on a three fight winning streak, and was knocked out by Kimura when leading on the scorecards.
Shiming will go down in memory due to fears he lost his eyesight in that fight with Kimura but, despite that, he’ll still have a place in the record books as world champion – in thanks to a 2nd win over Phaprom in 2016 for the WBO belt – so that’s, very much, mission accomplished.

Flyweight – Michael Conlan

2012’s flyweight champion Robeisy Ramirez, from Cuba, rather inevitably never turned professional but the silver medallist, Nyambayaryn Togstsogt, and two bronze medallists, Misha Aloyan and Michael Conlan, have all made unbeaten starts to their pro career.

By way of Aloyan having a failed drugs test on his record and being unimpressive in his last two bouts as well as Togstsogt only have two fights last year, we arrive with Michael Conlan as our stand-out professional.
Conlan, himself, went on to win a gold medal at the World Championships in 2015 and was famously eliminated via a controversial loss to Vladimir Nikitin, in which he accused the officials of amateur boxing of corruption, in Rio 2016. Following that he turned professional with Top Rank and Bob Arum, making his professional debut on the 17th March 2017 – St Patricks Day!

Since then he’s fought five times – never against an opponent with a losing record – and immediately impressed with three consecutive third round knockouts, including on the undercard of Pacquiao-Horn in Australia.

Fighting in the featherweight division, Conlan has recently changed trainers to link-up with Adam Booth, in the United Kingdom but will still be fighting on US soil and admits he’s ready to make a big splash in 2018 with his fast handwork and evasive footwork looking likely to earn him a title shot of some variety before the year is out.

Bantamweight – Luke Campbell

The lightest British fighter to win gold at their home games of 2012, Luke Campbell looked most impressive during the semi-finals when he outpointed, skilful Japanese, Satoshi Shimizu before comfortably winning the gold medal against John Joe Nevin from Ireland.

As is the case for most fighters, what with amateur and professional weight classes being quite vastly different, Campbell competes in the lightweight division and, since turning pro in the middle of 2013, has notched up 17 wins and 2 losses.

First making a statement in his home town of Hull, Campbell clinically stopped local rival Tommy Coyle within 10 rounds back in 2015 to secure the WBC International title and did so by way of 4 knockdowns that showcased his all-round ability as a fighter but, particularly, the punishing left-hand hook to the body that he’s utilized with great effect throughout his career.

Since then he dropped a surprise split-decision loss to Yvan Mendy but has rebuilt his reputation with thanks to wins against Argenis Mendez, Derry Matthews, Jairo Lopez and Darleys Perez to earn himself a number one ranking.
And thanks to that he found himself in the ring with, future Hall of Famer, Jorge Linares at the back end of September last year in a fight which many ruled him out of. For the WBA Lightweight title, Campbell was dropped in the 2nd round before showing heart and guts galore to provide Linares with his toughest challenge of his career but ultimately came up just short with the Venezuelan winning 115-112, 114-113, 115-113 on the scorecards.

Nonetheless with talks swirling around a fight with Vasyl Lomachenko in the future, the future is looking more than bright for the British super-star.

Lightweight – Vasyl Lomachenko

And talking of Vasyl Lomachenko let’s turn our attentions to the Ukrainian. Hmm, I wonder what happened to him following the Olympics in London?

Congratulations if you detected the sarcasm because the amateur stand-out, can we stress STAND OUT, has only gone and already staked his claim as one of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers of ALL time with a mere 11 fights under his belt.

Already a two-weight world champion, Lomachenko signed with Top Rank in 2013 and went straight into the big time with a world title fight in only his second bout. Against Orlando Salido, Loma would make history if he won the title in only his second pro fight, his Mexican opponent weighed in 2lbs over weight and rehydrated to 21lbs over the limit come fight night.

Uncharacteristically from Lomachenko he tended to shy away from engaging with Salido for much of the fight and despite the fact the bout was marred by an incredible amount of low blows, he failed to make history by way of a, shockingly controversial, split decision.

Following that, though, there’s been no looking back as he comfortably nullified Gary Russell Jr to claim the WBO Featherweight title, defending it twice, before jumping up to Super Feather where he’s consistently made world class fighters look ordinary – Roman Martinez, Nicholas Walters, Jason Sosa, Miguel Marriaga and Guillermo Rigondeaux all succumbing to his incredible timing and shot-placement.

Still only 30 and already a two-weight world champion, the sport is firmly in the hand of Vasyl Lomachenko and, to be frank, it’s up to him how great he wants to be.

Light Welterweight – SPLIT DECISION

Now this is where things get very tricky because of the four medallists at London 2012 – Roniel Igelsias, Denys Berinchyk, Vincenzo Mangiacapre and Uranchimegiin Monkh-Erdene – all can lay claim to being sensational within their amateur careers but only Berinchyk turned pro and has looked fairly lacklustre in moving to 6-0 since.

Looking deeper down the fighters then there’s a range of fighters that have turned pro and had relative success within in the paid ranks but I feel it’s wrong to pick any of them given that they didn’t particularly impress over the course of the Olympics.

As a result we’ll just rattle through some of those that have since turned pro;

Daniyar Yeleussinov – won gold at Rio 2016 and beat Josh Kelly on the way, recently signed a professional contract with Eddie Hearn.

Jeff Horn – fell at the Quarter-Finals of 2012 but has since caused an international furore thanks to his unanimous decision against Pacquiao last July.

Anthony Yigit – the European super-lightweight champion turned professional in 2013 and has since gone 22 fights unbeaten. Will be looking to challenge for a world title this year.

Welterweight – Majority Draw; Taras Shelestyuk and Custio Clayton

Truth be told the welterweight division threw up the same issue with Taras Shelestyuk the only medallist to cause much of a stir in the professional game.

Trained by the legendary Freddie Roach, the Ukrainian first took a step up after 13 fights when he displayed his plethora of impressive footwork skills to outmanoeuvre and out-point, 26-1, Aslanbek Kozaev to win international versions of the WBA and WBO welterweight titles.

Since then he’s been infrequent in the ring with only 3 fights over the following 27 months but has continued to look impressive whenever we’ve seen him fight.

As a result of that lack of regularity I’ve decided to include Custio Clayton, six-time Canadian amateur champion, because for me he’s been the best of all the welterweight fighters to turn professional in moving to 13 and 0 since turning pro in 2014.

His last fight against Cristian Coria came on the undercard of Saunders-Lemieux and was broadcast on both HBO and BT Sport, Clayton demolished Coria winning on all three card by margins of 100-88, 100-88, 100-88 with the Canadian making Coria pay thanks to sublime footwork and punch-perfect combinations.

Middleweight – Ryota Murata

Yet another Top Rank amateur-turn-professional, Ryota Murta claimed Japan’s first ever boxing medal outside of the bantam and flyweight division by claiming gold at 2012.

Murata was embroiled in controversy with the Japanese Boxing federation at the beginning of his career but that failed to put him off his natural game with his key strength being pushing the opponent back onto the ropes before unloading with successive right-left hand jabs to the body and head.

In May of last year he faced Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam for the WBA ‘Regular’ Middleweight title and despite many thinking Murata comfortably won the bout he was victim to a surprise split-decision in which he won 117-110 on one card but lost by 5 and 3 rounds, respectively, on the others.

Since then he has had the rematch with N’Jikam where he managed to comfortably prove his superiority in forcing the Frenchman to retire after the 7th round after being unable to answer Murata’s barrage of high-pace combination shots.

Next up for Murata is a clash with Emanuele Felice Blandamura but it’s hard to imagine he’ll be taken seriously as a world champion until he takes on either the winner of GGG/Canelo (who’ll have the WBA Super belt) or Billy Joe Saunders (the WBO champion).

Light Heavyweight – Oleksandr Gvozdyk

Into the light heavyweight division we go where we find Oleksandr Gvozdyk, a 6ft 2in Ukrainian with an imposing 76inch reach, who won the bronze medal at 2012.

Gvozdyk turned pro in 2014 – yet another Olympian who signed for Top Rank – and made his debut on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley 2. Since then The Nail has moved up the rankings rapidly with crushing knockout after crushing knockout.

In 2016 he took on, former world title challenger, Isaac Chilemba as he defended his NABF Light Heavyweight title. In what was an obvious step up for the, then, 29 year old, Gvozdyk made good use of left jab to keep the Malawian challenger at bay and displayed obvious athletic prowess in navigating the full range of the ring.

Flowing combinations at the ropes followed by swinging over hand punches showed what he’s all about and really enhanced his standing on the world stage. One of the most under-rated light heavy’s in the business, Gvozdyk is by rights in the Top 10 worldwide but has seemingly gone under the radar with very little hype surrounding the behemoth of a man.

14 wins, 12 knockouts is enough to send shivers down even the bravest of spines (if a spine can, indeed, be brave) but when he faces Medhi Amar for the interim WBC World Light Heavyweight title on the 17th March he’ll be looking to make a chilling statement.

Heavyweight – Oleksandr Usyk

We move from one Ukrainian to another, from one Oleksandr to another! Usyk this time was yet another empirical amateur, winning gold at London 2012 as well as the 2011 World Championships and 2008 European Championships.

On his way to the 2012 Gold Usyk beat, current light-heavyweight world champion, Artur Beterbiev, Tervel Pulev (Kubrat Pulev’s younger brother) and amateur legend Clemente Russo.

Such was the stir he caused that K2 Promotions, the Klitschko brother’s promotional arm, snapped him up and set about moving him swiftly up the ranks with Usky going from his debut in November 2013 to WBO Inter-Continental champion by October the following year.

Retaining that title on four further occasions, Usyk gained a world title shot against Krzysztof Glowacki in September 2016, Usyk’s first fight in nearly 12 months, and Glowacki was widely expected to get the better of the still, relatively, unknown Ukrainian.

Expectation is often different to reality and so it proved as he shattered the pre-fight predictions with a convincing points victory that really launched his name into stardom.

Two defences against Thabiso Mchunu and Michael Hunter, both in America, helped build his name and profile across the pond before the World Boxing Super Series came along in a bid to crown one unified cruiserweight champion.

Against Marco Huck, the former cruiserweight kingpin who defended his title on 16 occasions, Usyk blasted Huck into a shell of his former being before going toe-to-toe in an incredible unification clash with Mairis Briedis which did show chinks in the armour of the formidable Ukrainian but also showed just how tough and resolute a fighter he was.
The final awaits, the world awaits, 11th May in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, could be the crowning of his career as he seeks to become undisputed cruiserweight champion against Murat Gassiev for all the belts.

Super Heavyweight – Anthony Joshua

Great Britain’s poster boy of boxing Anthony Joshua was, arguably, fortunate to edge the decision during his gold medal match against Roberto Cammarelle but looked more than impressive when beating Zhilei Zhang and Erislandy Savon so it was no surprise to see him immediately signed by Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing.

All eyes of the boxing world were immediately on him with everyone wanting to know whether he’d be the next Lennox Lewis or the next Audley Harrison and, as we’ve now come to know, he was no Harrison!

Fighting an unknown but unbeaten Italian, Emanuele Leo, for his pro debut, Joshua lit up The O2 Arena with bouncing footwork and an imposing jab that already put the world on notice. Unloading with that trademark reaching right hand he finished off Leo in the first round to set up a run of 20 wins and 20 knockouts.

Against Kevin Johnson he made a statement by becoming the first boxer to stop the well-respected American and defend his WBC International title first won against Denis Bakhtov. Since then he was involved in a tempestuous grudge match with Dillian Whyte before being called out by “The King” Charles Martin who was promptly dispatched with in a humiliating two rounds.

With that victory came the IBF Heavyweight world title and Joshua’s mind has been on nothing but unification since – he’s had to be patient with wins against Dominic Brezeale and Eric Molina preceding a clash with Wladimir Klitschko for the IBF, WBA and IBO titles.

In a real changing of the guard fight Joshua hit the canvas for the first time in his career and was trailing on points but showed the true fighting spirit of a champion to stop Klitschko in the 11th round. Takam followed, stopped in the 10th and now AJ has the opportunity to cement his legacy by adding the WBO strap to his burgeoning collection when he faces Joseph Parker on the 31st March.

Women’s flyweight – Nicola Adams

Nicola Adams made history as the first ever women’s boxing champion when she won flyweight gold in front of her home crowd and defended her title at Rio 2016 to complete an unprecedented Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European quadruple.

With interest abound from pretty much every promoter both in the UK and America, Adams signed with Frank Warren at the beginning of 2017 and has impressed thus far in her three professional bouts. She kicks of 2018 in Leeds on May 19th and will be looking to win a world title this year.

Women’s lightweight – Katie Taylor

A star studded amateur who won five consecutive world championship golds, six European golds, five European Union goals as well as Olympic glory in 2012, Katie Taylor is widely regarded as one of the greatest Irish sports start of her generation.

Signing as a professional with Eddie Hearn in 2016, the high tempo Irish sensation made her debut at Wembley stadium and won her first professional world title on the undercard of Anthony Joshua-Carlos Takam after comfortably beating Anahi Sanchez.

Following that she topped the bill at York Hall in defending her title against Jessica McCaskill and will look to make her name in the US when she seeks to unify her WBA title with the IBF version of, Argentine, Victoria Bustos.

Middleweight – Claressa Shields

If winning a gold medal aged 17 wasn’t enough then how about defending that title four years later AND winning every major championship in between? Sounds pretty good but that doesn’t even scratch the surface for Claressa Shields.

Since turning pro in 2016 she’s become the first women’s headliner on a US premium network card, appearing on Showtime and has won both the WBC and IBF Super middleweight title in only her 4th professional fight before defending against, US legend, Tori Nelson.

So it’s been a fast journey to the top, it’s fair to say – she’s a double world champion in the professional ranks, double Olympic & World champion in the amateurs, she’s headlining shows on major networks and she’s still only 22!
This is the future of women’s boxing, right here. I’ll go even further, Claressa Shields is THE future of boxing. Period.

And that, therefore, concludes, our look back at the class of 2012 and I think it’s fair to see, we weren’t half blessed with some talent, were we?

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Top Amateur Tim Dement Was a Member of the 1972 Olympic Team


By: Ken Hissner

As Tim Dement tells the story, I was 12 when his older brother Steve got arrested with a group of other teenagers for fighting in the streets. After going to court my father asked Steve what it was going to take to keep him out of trouble? Steve answered “I just like to fight!” So my father heard about Irish McNeels Sports for Boxing Boy’s Club and brought Steve there to do his fighting in the ring instead of the streets.

I just tagged along with my brother and learned to box just watching others and listening to out Coach teaching the basics about straight punching. Coach J S “Irish” McNeel who we called “Mr. Mac” was something special, an Old School Boxer who never had an amateur fight. He began boxing professional during the depression and literally boxed to put food on the table. Mr. Mac had a positive impact on thousands and his motto was “if I can help one boy become a good man then I have been paid in full my friend!”

I wanted to make Mr. Mac proud of me and become a good boxer. I trained for a full year before I had my first bout at 85 pounds (Paperweight Division) and lost. In 1971 at 16 years of age I was old enough to fight in the Open Division which meant I would be fighting adults. I won the Southern AAU tournament and went to the National’s in New Orleans at 106 and fought four times in three days losing in the finals to Gary Griffin of New Orleans.

About a month later I was invited to participate in the Pan Am Trials at Ft. Bragg, NC. I never understood why I was invited at 16, and then winning in the finals over Griffin was told I had to be 17 to go to the Pan Am Games. However I was allowed to go train with the Pan Am team then go on tour with the USA Boxing Team to compete in Poland, the England and Germany. 1971 was a good year for me. I beat two Polish champions and one being 31 years old. Both of those were televised in Poland and for the time they treated me like a Rock Star.

Our team toured the concentration camp and became shockingly aware of the Cruelty of Mankind and the freedoms we take for granted. The USA Boxing Team then went to London against the British and there I was told I was too young to box and my British opponent was 21. Then we went to Germany but they didn’t have a light flyweight for me to fight. Later that year in 1971 I was invited to box with the USA Team against the Romanian team at the Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, WI. Mr. Mac got to go with me and I won my fight and I was very happy about my first year in boxing in the Open Division. I was first runner-up at the National AAU, won the Pan Am Trials and won my first three International bouts.
In 1972 I fought two times in the Soviet Union losing both by decision then fought in every tournament I could trying to qualify for the 1972 Olympic Trials. I started out at 106 pounds and 5:10 tall lost to Davey Armstrong at the AAU Nationals in Las Vegas. So I moved up to 119 pounds and lost the Eastern Trials to Michael Johnson. So at this point it was over no way making it to the Olympics except one way, pray. So I continued to train hard and pray believing that all things are possible. I was weighing about 130 pounds two weeks before the Olympic Trials were to begin when I got a call from the US Air Force boxing coach who my brother Steve, Nick Wells and Jesse Valdez were boxing at the same time. He told me if I could make 112 I could fight in the Olympic Trials as an unattached boxer because they had an opening spot in the Flyweight division. I told him I can make 112 pounds. It was obvious there was an opening because of Bobby Lee Hunter. Nobody wanted to fight Bobby Lee Hunter but me. Hunter was a knockout artist which was unusual for a flyweight. I had watched Hunter knockout this guy at the Pan Am Trials before the ringing of the bell of the first round had left the air and a Bronze Medalist at the Pan Am Games. I had sparred Hunter a couple of times during the training camp in 1971. I had the reach on Hunter and stayed away from him the whole time. I knew I could beat him if I boxed the way I was taught.
At the Olympic Trials my first bout was against Bobby Lee Hunter and I was considered the biggest underdog ever at this moment in time. I was told they had a basket at ringside to catch my head, when it got knocked off. Anyway watch it on www.youtube.com with Howard Cosell saying I gave him a boxing lesson. Next fight I beat Greg Lewis (2-time National Golden Gloves Champ) who could beat anybody but Hunter. Then I beat Ricky Dean a tough fighter from the Navy. Beating Bobby Lee Hunter made me famous for a moment because he was famous/infamous for a moment. Being incarcerated for manslaughter brought Bobby much attention. Since it appeared Bobby was the best Flyweight in the USA had that he was headed to Munich. The controversy became national and international was it good for an inmate for manslaughter to be let out of prison to represent our country at the Olympics? They were in the process of making a movie about Bobby Lee Hunter during his quest for the Olympics starting before the Pan Am Games. However with me beating Hunter ended one international conflict. See Sports Illustrated article where swimmer where Mark Spitz sees me at the Olympic Village and tells a reporter that he ought to kiss me for resolving that situation.

I was told Bobby Lee Hunter was invited to fight me again in the final box-off at West Point and he refused. I told them not to ask him again, lol. Anyway they got another boxer from Denver that I had fought the year before at the National AAU named Jesse Trujillo. We were the same built, tall and skinny except he was southpaw. We hadn’t spoken to each other since our last fight in the locker room in New Orleans where I approached him after the fight to apologize for the referee stopping our fight because I knew I hadn’t hurt him. I had come out in the first round threw a flurry of fast punches and the referee stopped the fight. I was telling him I was sorry the referee stopped the fight and Jesse wanted to fight me in the dressing room. I walked away from it until now. See the fight on www.youtube.com with Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali commentating. See the smile on my face when God had answered my prayer and I was on my way. It was a miracle to Munich. Before we left the states an eye exam revealed that I had a torn retina in my right eye but allowed to compete because I wasn’t having any visual problems at the time. Jesse Owens and VP Spiro Agnew were the guest speakers at our banquet with all the US Olympians in Washington DC. Jesse Valdez and I were roommates in the Olympic Village and we were friends. It was a great experience to walk among the best athletes in the World. The Olympic spirit was flowing with excitement.
Now I’m 17 years old and my prayer was to participate in the 1972 Olympics. That was the biggest thing I could ask for, so when the bell rang for the first round of my first fight the rest was all gravy. Ali Garbi from Tunisia was my first opponent in Munich (see it on www.youtube.com). He was game but made to order for an easy win. He was real short with real short arms. All I needed to do was relax and let him choose the way I was going to beat him. Relaxed yet focused on distance. Then, allowing your reflexes to respond whenever he was in range to keep him on the end of my jab. Sweet victory, my cup is overflowing.
The next opponent was from Cali Colombia, South America named Calixto Perez. He reminded me of Bobby Lee Hunter but on steroids. With the first punch he landed in the first round was a hard left hook to the right side of my head and when the stars dissipated there remained a dark cloud in the middle of my vision of my right eye. The cloud bounced around like a bouncing ball between me and my opponent. Until now, I had forgotten about being told I had a torn retina. I did not tell my Olympic coach Bobby Lewis when I returned to my corner seeing this dark cloud in my right eye. Round two and three are on www.youtube.com and if you watch it you will see me taking a whipping. However my new prayer was answered when the last bell rang and I was on my feet. I wondered later him being from Cali, Colombia if he chewed cocoa leaves before the fight because I didn’t faze him.

Oh yeah, I wanted to mention after my first bout Howard Cosell with ABC Wild World of Sports asked if I wanted to watch my first fight that I had just won. Yes sir, as we walked out of a side door of the venue and got in the back seat of a long white limo. Howard lit up a cigar and we went to the ABC studio building and walked in the back door. I heard Howard ask someone “play little Timmy’s fight back for him to see. What fun it was.

After losing the second fight I was free to enjoy the games which I went about doing, playing chess, ping pong, arcade games with foreigners inside the Olympic Village. I went to track and field, swimming and gymnastics watching Olga Corbett, etc. I was enjoying eating also. This particular evening I was taken out on the town in Munich by two press guys that wined and dined me until the early morning hours. They dropped me off at the entrance of the Olympic Village. I had drank much of that German beer and not thinking real clear walking in the dark toward my apartment I observed some yellow do not cross Police tape blocking the walkway but I saw nobody else in site. So I went another way to our Boxer’s apartment. I woke Jesse up telling him that something was going on and it wasn’t good. I went to bed not knowing the PLO terrorist had infiltrated the village and busted in the Israel Wrestling Teams apartment and were torturing some athletes while holding them hostage and demanding the release of some terrorist already in jail or they were going to set off a bomb in the village.

Later that morning I met up with this gentleman that had been a German Flying Ace that I had met the year before when the US team had boxed in Germany. While waiting for him to pick me up in the front of the Olympic Village a parade of German Military vehicles with open bed trucks full with German soldiers and soldiers on motorcycles all began driving into and setting up a perimeter around the village. My friend arrived and picked me up. I found out more what was going on as he was translating what we heard on his radio. When I got back to the Olympic Village things were different. Now it was a wait and see thing. The terrorists set demands and gave deadlines. As each deadline would approach we boxers walked out on our balcony looking towards the Israel Wrestling Teams apartment watching for an explosion. I was able to get where I could see the guy with the hat and sunglasses talking with the negotiators on the balcony.
During this Hostage situation inside the Olympic Village the Games continued only to stop one day for a memorial service after the standoff concluded at the airport with all Israeli hostages killed. The Olympic spirit was why the Olympic Games continued. “You stop wars to participate in Olympic Games, not to stop the Olympic Games to go to War!” Boxers Reggie Jones and Jesse Valdez got robbed big time by Communist block judges.

After the 1972 Olympics I returned home to the Grand Opening of the new Irish McNeels Sports for Boys Boxing Club on the fairgrounds in Shreveport, La. It was awesome with a dormitory, kitchen, showers, boxing equipment and 20×20 boxing ring in the center. The gym was built by volunteers and monies raised by my father George Dement and other supporters. I lost in the 1973 National Golden Gloves to Mike Hess.

I had several eye surgeries and stopped boxing. I got married at 17 mid-term my senior year at Bossier High School and worked in the kitchen of the Holiday Inn that my father managed. At 18 I was a car salesman. In 1975 at 20 years of age I got in law enforce. I always had an interest because my grandfather (Steve Norris) was a law enforcement legend in these parts. I again found myself too young. This time it was too young to carry a gun. You had to be 21 to carry a gun as a Bossier City policeman but only 18 to be a Bossier Parrish Deputy. So the Mayor Cathey contacted Sherriff Willie Waggoner and agreed to pay each half my salary. Most of my enforcement was in the Juvenile Division. When I first started I wasn’t much older than these juveniles. I worked with three experienced men who were busy investigating serious child abuse cases and little time to track down runaways. So they handed me this long metal box, stacked full of index cards with a small photo and Personal info, all runaways that they hadn’t cleared up. They said “here, find them”. So I did find them and had a great time. Then I got involved with Child Abuse. Again another wakeup call about the Cruelty of Mankind. I got passionate about my job and made it a career.

Back to boxing, after eye surgery had healed I boxed some more off and on. Then in 1980 I was 25 years old married with two children and decided to make a comeback and hopes of competing in Olympics in Russia. I was fighting at 135 pounds now on my third comeback. My opponent had a “loaded boxing glove” with two finger brass knuckles inside his right hand glove. By the middle of the last round the metal had cut its way through the padding of the glove then he hit me in the face with a right hand that sliced a large cut over my left eye and at the same time split my nose down the middle and knocking my nose off my face. A person at ringside said, it looked like my nose got hit with high voltage electricity.

At the moment the referee stopped the fight and I raised his hand in congratulations before leaving for the hospital…not knowing what had just happened later when they recovered his boxing gloves when he had gone outside the building to remove they found the tares from the inside to the outside. Again I was reminded of the Cruelty of Mankind. That fight was just an amateur bout, not for a championship or money. This dirty fighter did what he did (which could have killed me) just to say he had beat an Olympian.

Well, that put a stop to my boxing and we boycotted those Olympics anyway. I contemplated killing this guy as payback and had several volunteers to assist. However I choose to forgive him after reading in the Bible that I would be forgiven in the same measure as I forgave others. So I cut myself some slack by doing so…so to speak. Later in the early 1980’s I was selected to be what they called to be an Athletes Rep. USA/ABF Olympic committee. It involved going to national and international boxing events sometimes coaching and hanging with the fighters. I was assistant coach on two trips once in Russia and another to Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Estimate of amateur bouts 120 and lost 20.

My son Jacob Dement is a coach at Dement Brothers at Old School Boxing in Bossier City (see it on Facebook) and my nephew Steve Dement coaches a gym in Augusta, GA, called Dement Brothers Fighting Systems which is boxing and MMA on Facebook also. I’ve been retired from law enforcement about 12 years and live on our family cattle farm in Desoto Parish, La.

More Boxing History

Jesse Valdez from the 1972 Olympics Was a Special Boxer


By: Ken Hissner

It was the summer of 1972 when this writer was watching the Olympic boxing from Munich, Germany. Who would know that the USA team would only win a total of 4 medal’s one being a Gold and three Bronze medals?

The one boxer on this team I always wanted to talk to was a Bronze medal winner Jesse Valdez out of Houston, TX. I started writing ten years ago and during that time I tried making contact with him but never was able to. Finally a week or so ago I saw an article by Rick Wright a Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer in New Mexico entitled “Boxing star Valdez still counting his blessings”. I was able to contact him and he gave me Jesse’s phone number and I took it from there.

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“The Lord gave me a gift,” said Valdez. His first coach was Charles Cord.

There was one Gold medal winner on the 1972 team and it was “Sugar” Ray Seales from the Tacoma Boy’s Club that Joe Clough was coach. Seales would go into the professional ranks and end up with a 57-8-3 record with 34 knockouts.

Also on the team gaining a Bronze medal was future two-time world light heavyweight champion Marvin Johnson, 43-6 (35).I contacted him and he said “why would you want to do a story on me?” I said “you were an Olympian and a two-time world champion”. He agreed to do a story. I love it when they are as humble as Marvin was.

Another Bronze medal winner was Ricardo Carreras, of NY, representing the Air Force. After failing to make the 1976 Olympic teamhe turned professional in 1978 and went 2-0 (2).

Three other team members of the eleven turned professional who were Duane Bobick, of the Navy, 48-4 (42) who I did a story on, Reggie Jones, 16-9-1 (8), of the Marines, Louis Self, 3-2 (2), of the Air Force and Davey Lee Armstrong, 24-3 (6) who was also a team member of the 1976 team that I did a story on him and teammates.

Not turning professional were Raymond Russell, of the Marines, Louis Busceme, Louis Self of the Air Force and Tim Dement. “I love Jesse Valdez,” said Dement. Getting back to the other boxer representing the Air Force was Valdez who was the one boxer that stood out to this writer. My two favorite Olympians of all time were him and Chuck Walker from the 1976 team.

Walker said of Valdez: I was one of those glued to the TV in 1972 watching boxing in the Olympics at Munich. Everybody knows Jesse was THE guy. He was the darling that year. I was 14 and just started boxing. He was one of my early heroes. Never noted at all for power but could that guy box, very slick, clever and effective. I believe he won the Bronze but should have won the Gold. I got to know Jesse well when he was the assistant coach at the 1975 Pan Am Games in Mexico City. We (team) trained in Durango, Colorado for several weeks, then got outfitted in Dallas and then onto MC. Jesse was a great pal and coach. He related well with the guys since he was more our age. I remember one time we were riding a taxi to the coliseum for the fights. I was fighting and Michael Dokes was fighting that night. Jesse was trying to find a radio station in English and finally happened on a song by Barbara Streisand. Dokes acted like that was pure anathema and went for the dial. Jesse slapped his hand away and said “Look man….we finally found something in English. Let it be. You’re not going to find any soul music in this city. Dokes said “I don’t know what’s worse….no music at all or Barbara Streisand!!!” Jesse and I used to walk around the Pan Am village together just out of boredom. We went to a few musical acts just outside the pavilion on the grounds. Often we had lunch together in the big cafeteria. Jesse was the one that took me to the USA medical building in the village when I got my lip split by Clinton Jackson in a freak accident in sparring. He looked out for us because he had been there and knew what it was like. He knew it was a tough business and he tried to make it less so.

Valdez was also instrumental in calming what could have been a horrible situation when Tommy Sullivan won 100 bucks from Michael Dokes betting on pinball in the game room. Tempers flared and the two almost went together for real, but Jesse talked them out of it. Later that night 100 bucks came up missing from Tommy’s locker. Jesse, along with “Sugar” Ray suggested to the other fighters that we all put in a few bucks to get Tommy paid back. And then again the situation was controlled. I haven’t talked to Jesse in probably 35 years but have thought of him often and I’m glad to hear he’s doing well. If you talk to him give him my best and tell him I’ve had Burton Gilliam (from Dallas, TX) in several of my movies. Burton and Jesse fought several times back in the amateurs.

Valdez said he had about 200 fights but never kept track of his record. It was in 1964 that the then 16 year old Houston native won the National AAU welterweight championship upsetting Olympic Bronze medalist Quincy Daniels of the 1960 Olympics. Valdez would qualify for the 1964 Olympic team as an alternate. In that same year he toured as a member of the US team in Africa.

In 1967 Valdez won a Bronze medal at the Pan-American Games and was also the Golden Gloves champion. In 1970 he won the National AAU light middleweight title. In 1972 he won the Golden Gloves again and qualified for the US national team by defeating future world light heavyweight champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. “He cold cocked me and dropped me to a knee in the first round. I would return the favor in either the first or second round,” said Valdez.

At the Olympics in 1972 Valdez defeated KolmanKalipe (Togo) 5-0, Carlos Burga (Peru) 4-1 which I thought was a tougher fight than with the Cuban but Valdez disagreed, David Jackson (Uganda) 4-1, Anatoly Khohlov (Soviet Union) 5-0, before losing in the semi-finals to Emilio Correa (Cuba) 3-2. This writer thought Valdez won without any doubt.Correra also won the 1971 Pan-American Games and participated in the 1976 Olympics.

Valdez was in the Air Force never turning professional but even fought until 1980 at age 32 as an amateur. Junior Robles had him box on an amateur show against a Marine who outweighed Valdez by 40 pounds. “When I saw how big he was I moved and boxed him,” said Valdez. Robles also had him compete for the CA state amateur title in Sacramento where Valdez came out victorious.

“He gives boxing a good name because he was so kind hearted yet capable of destroying his opponents while staying calmly in control. Good manners are special and Jesse is someone worth writing about. Many years after the 1972 Olympics Jesse told me something to the effect that, I made an impression on him seeing me reading my Bible when we were teammates. What a great guy my brother Jesse is….he loves our Lord,” said Tim Dement. (1972 Olympian at 112)

“I heard about him before I met him. He was like a legend. Everybody talked about Jesse. In 1967 or 1968 I saw him fight Joe Cokes, brother of world champion Curtis Cokes whom he out boxed.He was a gentleman, smart and a classy fighter. I was in the Air Force five years and knew him for about three years. Jesse touched a lot of boxers lives in a very positive way. He is a good friend, mentor and was an inspiration to me. I was proud to be his teammate. When he boxed he was sweet, hard to hit and he could punch…..hard. Jesse coached all the 1972 USAF boxing team in the National AAU,” said Nick Wells.

Valdez was asked to go to Poland on the USA team by Robles whose father had a gym that Valdez was helping with the kids. “The Holy Spirit said why do you need to go. Also veteran USA team official Bob Surkant who was a father figure to me advised me not to go. So I told Robles I wasn’t making the trip. I almost fought Robles at the 1964 Olympic Trials,” said Valdez. Other boxers who claimed to be asked but didn’t make the trip were Jimmy Clark, Marvis Frazier, Bobby Czyz, Robert Hines and Davey Armstrong. The plane went down in Warsaw, Poland, killing all 87 aboard which included Robles.

“My wife Jackie and I got down on our knees and prayed thanking God that I didn’t go. My whole life changed after that, my faith became my way of living,” said Valdez When he told me they were living in San Diego I told him we had a Calvary Chapelchurch there (Harvest Christian Fellowship) where Mike MacIntoshwas the pastor. Valdez couldn’t believe it for he attended that same church. Pastor Chuck Smith was the founder of Calvary Chapel. I’ve attended three of their churches on a week-end in 1989 after starting in Philadelphia. He and his wife Jackie (originally from Buffalo, NY) now attend a Calvary Chapel church in Albuquerque where Skip Heitzig is the pastor. They have two sons James (42) and Jeremy (40).

“My oldest brother (Steve) was on the Air Force team with Jesse and we met at numerous tournaments and went overseas together. He was the greatest amateur of all-time. He could beat you many different ways. I was in awe of him. We were roommates at the Olympics. He met my family. He was like a brother and really humble. He came back from Italy and gave a picture of him and the Pope to my father. He was someone you looked up to and wanted to be like. He was a real role model,” said Tim Dement. (1972 Olympian)

Valdez told me “in 1972 I would spar with 156 pound team member Reggie Jones and I felt he stayed that heavy to avoid meeting me in the Olympic trials,” said Valdez.He said he worked with the Spinks brothers in 1976 and almost had to bring them home.

After leaving the Air Force, Valdez became a TV cameraman, first in Houston and then to San Diego. I told him I had notes that in 1974 he worked on the prison siege at the Huntsville, TX, State Prison. “I was sent to Huntsville where 5 prisoners were holding 5 guards as hostages,with (now well-known writer) Cal Thomas who was the reporter,” said Valdez. In 1976 Valdez working with the Spinks brothers and almost had to take them home.

In 1979 I was in Philadelphia at the Joe Frazier Gym where “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Marvin Stinson (1976 Olympic Alternate) and Leonard’s cousin O’Dell would be fighting in Philadelphia. The name Valdez came up and one of them informed me he was the one who started the bowing to the four corners prior to his fight. “I think I saluted but Correa did bow after that to the four corners. I would also go to my opponent’s corner after the fight before then returning to my corner,” said Valdez.

“Jesse Valdez, David Martinez and Mark Tessman were (boxers) who I wanted to be like,” said Termite Watkins. I got an email from him due to contacting the Texan boxers I had articles with and all Christians. Termite was 61-5-2 (42), and from Houston who fought for the WBC super lightweight title. He has a book called “Termite” about his experiences in Iraq as a pest control exterminator which is well worth reading. He’s a great friend and one of the most genuine and humble boxers I ever met. I’m honored to call him my friend today. We keep in touch on the phone. He may be the greatest amateur fighter I ever saw.

Valdez was kind enough to answer some questions.

KEN HISSNER: The first time I saw you was in the 1972 Olympics and was immediately impressed with your style of boxing. Was your coach Charles Cord responsible for that?

JESSE VALDEZ: In the long run I would say yes. I had him as my coach at a younger age.

KEN HISSNER: You winning the National AAU championship at 16 in 1964 defeating Quincey Daniels who was on the 1960 team did that qualify you as an alternate for that Olympic team?

JESSE VALDEZ: I lost to Maurice Trilot of the Marines and was an alternate.

KEN HISSNER: Did you get involved with making the 1968 Olympic team?

JESSE VALDEZ: I lost to Armando Muniz in the finals.

KEN HISSNER: What period of time were you in the Air Force?

JESSE VALDEZ: 1969-1972

KEN HISSNER: In 1972 you defeated Eddie Gregory (Eddie Mustafa Muhammad later) to qualify for the Olympic team. Was defeating him and Daniels two of your biggest wins prior to going to the Olympics?

JESSE VALDEZ: If I win I win but never think of who I fought.

KEN HISSNER: Were you still pretty active from 1972 to 1980 between your coaching at the 1975 Pan Am Games and still having some fights?

JESSE VALDEZ: I was an assistant at the 1975 Pan Am Games.

KEN HISSNER: Do you still stay in touch with any of your 1972 team members or have any re-unions?

JESSE VALDEZ: I don’t really except “Sugar” Ray Seales.

KEN HISSNER: Getting ripped off in the 1972 Olympics against the Cuban was that a deciding factor in not turning professional?

JESSE VALDEZ: I had two offers. One was to stay in Air Force as the boxing coach and from Bill Daniels owner of the Denver Rockets.

KEN HISSNER: How did the terrorist attack at the Olympics in Munich affect you and your teammates?

JESSE VALDEZ: We heard the gunfire. It was quite alarming.

KEN HISSNER: Not going to Poland in 1980 when their plane went down killing all aboard did that end your boxing career?

JESSE VALDEZ: It totally did. I was 35 at the time and figured at that age I was too old. Junior Robles convinced me to go but I changed my mind. He was among those killed on the airplane.

KEN HISSNER: I know you go back to Houston for some of the Golden Gloves tourneys. Are you completely out of training boxers now?

JESSE VALDEZ: Unless you’ve been in the ring it is hard to teach someone to box.

KEN HISSNER: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer questions and I have to tell you it is so rewarding to finally catch up to you.

JESSE VALDEZ: It was nice going back in time with you.

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​HBO Showcases the Ukrainian Olympic Squad


​HBO Showcases the Ukrainian Olympic Squad
​By: Eric Lunger

​There is an ideal narrative arc in the career of a professional boxer: prospect to contender to champion. Normally, the prospect period is spent in dreary isolation, training hard and fighting four or six round undercard bouts in front of mostly empty venues. Every one of these bouts is treacherous, because the other prospect across the ring has the same desperate desire to advance. One mistake can be terrible, a KO loss on the record. But after years of hard work, sacrifice, and honing of the craft, the prospect gains a shot at a title. He becomes a contender.

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​This narrative has been interrupted recently by the influx of highly-skilled, mostly Eastern European, amateurs.

Instead of a long prospect period, these fighters have spent years in the international amateur system. We are talking about fighters like Gennady Golovkin, Artur Beterbiev, and featured last weekend on HBO Championship Boxing, the Ukrainian trio of Oleksandr Usyk, Oleksandr Gvosdyk, and Vasyl Lomachenko. Usyk won the WBO World cruiserweight belt after only nine pro fights, while Lomachenko became a two-weight class World champ in only seven pro tilts.

​Is there some “amateur” style or “European” style that these fighters bring to the table? Golovkin has shed that style, consciously pursuing an aggressive, body attack and combination “Mexican” style. While Lomachenko and Usyk certainly exhibit an “amateur” style, there is more too it than a simple and one-dimensional label. Both guys are southpaws for one, and both have received significant training from Anatoly Lomachenko, Vasyl’s father and trainer.

You can see it in the quick footwork of both fighters, and, for example, in that signature side-step to the right, where suddenly they are in position to throw a punishing, but short, left hook from an angle that their opponent is not expecting. It is no coincidence that both men have perfected that move.

​Usyk’s win over Michael Hunter on Saturday night showcased the Ukrainian’s considerable skills. Hunter too has a strong amateur background, having fought in the London Olympic games. And Hunter was not in the ring as a mere opponent; he came to fight and he came to win.

While the unanimous scores were wide (117-110 across the board), I was impressed with Hunter’s learning curve during the fight, his poise, and his incredible courage. Until the twelfth round, when Usyk was clearly looking for a KO, I thought Hunter fought well even while losing rounds. As the twelfth round ended, I was full of admiration for Usyk’s skills, but in my heart I was cheering for Hunter.

​As much as I enjoyed watching all three Ukrainians on Saturday night, I’m equally glad that boxing is a big tent with room for all different styles. What if a Lomachenko vs. Mikey Garcia fight came to fruition? That would be a potential fight of the year, in my view.

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Misael Rodriguez: Olympian Bronze Medalist In Search Of Gold In Pros


Misael Rodriguez: Olympian Bronze Medalist In Search Of Gold In Pros
By: Francisco Martinez

RingStar Sports, the Richard Schaefer jumpstart brand filled with 2016 Olympians including Mexican Bronze Medalist Misael Rodriguez who made is anticipated professional debut this past Sunday, yes, Sunday. In a stacked card with debuts of stable mates Carlos Balderas, Money Powell and Eimantas Stanionis at the Novo in downtown L.A. all successful debuts as all were pinned with strong competition for their debuts.

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BoxingInsider caught up with Misael Rodriguez and asked him about his professional debut which was under the scrutiny of 4 time world champion, manager Abner Mares and trainer Robert Garcia, 2012 Boxing Writers Association of American trainer of the year. Early into the fight Misael found himself feeling the pro punches as his opponent landed clean but Misael showed the ability to take them comfortably and return fire to gain the upper hand after the second round managing to work soundly and take home a unanimous decision for his pro debut in front of his supporters.

“It was good, I felt good, I felt strong. My rival was a little tough but we kept working and in the end we won the fight unanimously” goes on to admit that the punches as professional are a tad bit harder “Yeah it reflects on my nose as it’s the first time I’ve bleed do to the punches being a little harder but we took them and had a real good close toward the end” Misael says of his pro debut.

Misael Rodriguez calls his partnership with Robert Garcia a “dream” as an amateur he always liked Robert’s style and admired the way his fighters would go about their business in the ring so paring up with him was a no brained and rather easy being that his manager, Abner Mares is now training in Riverside, California where the famed and private Robert Garcia Boxing Academy resides after a long term run and originating in Oxnard Robert decided to move things across town.

“It feels good to train with Robert. Even before being an Olympian I liked the style in which he trained and I thought it would be great with mine and now that dream is a reality working with him” Eduardo Garcia, father of Robert who guided him to a world title along with Fernando Vargas likes what he sees in Misael “A lot is expected of him one reason is for what he showed in the Olympics that he’s capable of doing” Eduardo Garcia also expressed how he was impressed with his ability to learn the professional things in technique at a fast rate.

Robert Garcia feels that Misael has the qualities to be a world champion with a little bit of hard work. Misael not being the fastest or strongest fighter in the Olympics but manager Abner Mares says that’s part of the reason he caught his attention do to his hard work ethic. Something important in a young fighter and something necessary in the pros as there is no shortcuts. As for Abner and Robert’s thoughts on Misael’s pro debut he said they told him “It was a good fight. Good performance. These fights make for experience and I also see it like that. It wasn’t an easy rival but we came out with the victory”

Don’t forget to visit www.BoxingInsider.com to keep updated on the latest and breaking news.

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Oscar Valdez: The New Generation of Mexican Boxing


Oscar Valdez: The New Generation of Mexican Boxing
By: Francisco Martinez

April 22nd WBO 122lbs champion Oscar Valdez is set to defend his title for the second time as he headlines his first PPV trough Top Rank promotions. An opportunity Oscar Valdez is more than excited for “Right now I’m living the dream. I dream about these moments, being a main event, on great cards, I’m living it right now so I’m enjoying the ride. I’m doing everything with passion, letting everything go on it’s own” and in return everything is going right for the 2 time Mexican Olympian.

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Colombian Miguel Marriaga is the rival who that will meet Oscar Valdez in the other end of the ring in Carson, California at the StubHub Center a venue known for fan friendly match ups and spoilers, potential upsets of the year. Which is what Marriaga is aiming for come this 22nd of April. Having shared the ring with former 126lbs king Nicholas Walters, Marriaga feels that kind of experience with that level of opposition gives him the upper hand over the young fast & powerful Valdez who doesn’t care much for the quality of opposition Marriaga has faced.

“I feel good in the gym. I feel good that I’m doing my work. The people around me they got faith in me and that’s all that matters. I’m a family guy and that’s the most important thing to me to worry about my family and not other people’s opinions about me. Do my job in the gym and do my best to win every fight” direct but humble words from the young 126lbs phenom.

Oscar Valdez has great talent and a very humble approach to when speaking about his position as arguably the best 126lbs fighter today but also spoke his mind at the podium when addressing the media during the official press conference to announce the April 22nd Top Rank PPV triple header “My trainer Manny (Robles) & Edgar Jasso we put in the time and I haven’t seen a manager like Frank (Espinoza) that goes to the gym everyday or Frankie, to see how their boxers are doing so that means a lot to me. We’re not only a team we’re a family. Working with Jessie Magdaleno and also seeing Zurdo Ramirez in the gym we all help each other out. We’re a great team. We know that we’re the face off Mexican boxing right now so we gotta take that very seriously so we work hard, help each other out and we get the job done at the fights”

No doubt on paper Miguel Marriaga looks to be the toughest test for Oscar Valdez to date however Valdez has his own beliefs as to how he approaches not just this fight in particular but all his 21 previous fights leading to this exact one “Like Manny (Robles) says, every fight is more important than the last one. Marriaga, he’s no easy opponent, they don’t exists, an easy opponent. Marriaga, he’s a strong, strong fighter, has a lot of experience inside the ring so I know it’s gonna be a tough fight but that’s why we train hard in the gym so we can win these fights”

Trainer Manny Robles adds this to the conversation “For those people who don’t know Marriaga, Marriaga is a great fighter, he’s a solid fighter, solid contender. This guy can crack, he can come forward. The match up itself is great. Styles make fights, this is a great match up. This is a fight the public should not miss. It’s gonna be a great night of boxing” styles do make fights and this match up is a evenly matched up bout and even better that the venue itself really helps make this fight that much more intriguing being that the StubHub Center is known for its action packed fights and electric atmosphere that can make both rivals more aggressive and abandon their game plans. Just something about the warrior like chemistry the StubHub Center has deeply rooted in it.

In this Top Rank promotions triple header fans will also get Jessie Magdaleno who’s defending his 122lbs WBO title against Brazilian Adielson Dos Santos who’s coming in with 2 consecutive knockouts to a total of 14 K.O.’s in 20 professional fights. Also on the card Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez who is the 168lbs WBO title holder who is matched up with Max Bursak a 38 fight professional from the Ukraine along with the debut of 2016 American Olympian silver medalist Shakur Stevenson who’s hope to bring a knockout and leave with a few of those loyal Mexican fans that will be in attendance at the StubHub Center.

So don’t miss it April 22nd Top Rank promotions PPV triple header live at the StubHub Center that’ll bring you a glimpse of the next generation of Mexican boxing.

Follow all coverage of the fight via #TopRankBoxing

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The Pride of Ireland: Michael Conlan


The Pride of Ireland: Michael Conlan
By: Francisco Martinez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When the Man Gaydarek Gaydarbekov Beat the Man “GGG” 2004!


WHEN THE MAN “GAYDARBEKOV” BEAT THE MAN “GGG” 2004!
By: Ken Hissner

In the mind of many boxing fans including this writer Gennady “GGG” Golovkin the WBC, WBA and IBF world middleweight champion is the best p4p boxer in the world today!

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I once did an article on who was in that 2004 Olympics which in the middleweight division it included Jean Pascal, Hassan Ndam Njikam, Karoly Balzsay, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Russian Gaydarek Gaydarbekov. Gaydarbekov in the 2000 Olympics defeated Utkirbek Haydarov of UZB, Eromosele Albert (NIG), Jeff Lacey (USA) and Zsolt Erdei (HUN) before losing in the finals to Cuban Jorge Gutierrez 17-15. Lacey, Ndam Njikam, Balzsay, Pascal and Erdei would go onto win professional world titles.

In the 1998 Goodwill Games Gaydarbekov defeated Jermain Taylor. He would return in the 2004 Olympics like earlier mentioned. His style was typical amateur by landing many light jabs scoring a point with each one and an occasional right and move around the ring trying not to be hit. He never turned professional and would not have been a good one if he did.

After Gaydarbekov defeated boxers from the Philippines, UZB, Cameroon, Thailand and in the finals a boxer from KAZ. In the other bracket was GGG who had defeated boxers from Pakistan, Egypt and the USA’s Andre Dirrell before gaining a Silver Medal in losing in the finals. In his past amateur bouts in 2000 he defeated boxers from China, Germany, Sweden, Russia and Cuba to win the Junior World championship. 2001 East Asian Games win Gold defeating boxers from South Korea, China and Australia’s Daniel Geale future IBF world champion. In 2002 defeating boxers from AZE, CAM, Russia and Cuba in the Asian Games. In 2002 winning Silver in the Asian Games defeating boxers from AFG, Qatar, So KOR and Thailand. In the 2003 World championship defeating Matt Korobov of RUS, Andy Lee of IRE a future pro world champion, Lucian Bute of ROM a future pro world champion, Yordanis Despaigne of Cuba and Oleg Mashkin of the UKR. In the 2005 World Cup won a Bronze after defeating boxers from GEO, ALG and Yordanis Despaigne of Cuba. In the 2005 World Championships defeat a Serb before losing to an Egyptian who never turned pro. Ending up 345-5 but may have had at least 8 losses. Not bad out of over 350 fights.

So when the finals came in the 2004 Olympics two of the best amateur boxers in the world would meet.

1999, 2001 and 2002 Gaydarbekov would be the Russian champion. He is now 40 years-old.

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Michael Conlan: Luck of the Irish


Michael Conlan: Luck of the Irish
By: Francisco Martinez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Philly’s Jesse Hart a No. 1 WBO Super Middleweight Contender Awaiting His Turn at Title Fight!


Philly’s Jesse Hart No. 1 WBO Super Middleweight Contender Awaiting His Turn at Title Fight!
By: Ken Hissner

The No. 1 WBO Super Middleweight contender Jesse “Hard Work” Hart, 21-0 (17), comes from a boxing blood line following in his father Eugene “Cyclone” Harts, 30-9-1 (28) legacy in Philadelphia! The elder Hart won his first nineteen bouts by knockout! In his twenty-second fight he fought Denny Moyer and both fell out of the ring and ruled a No Contest in 6 rounds. Moyer was knocked down in the first round.

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When the son of the “Cyclone” turned professional in June of 2012 the concern of this writer was he would try to top that knockout record of his father instead of using all of his boxing skills. His knockout streak was stopped after his fourth fight fortunately. In a rematch he stopped that opponent. He has worked his way to rankings in the WBA No. 10, IBF No. 5 and WBC No. 13 besides the top ranking in the WBO a title held by Mexico’s Gilbert “Zurdo” Ramirez, 30-0 (24), who won the title in April of 2016 winning all twelve rounds over champion Arthur Abraham, 44-4 in Las Vegas, NV.
Southpaw Ramirez has not defended his title going on a year. He recently suffered a hand injury and was to fight on the Pacquaio-Horn card per Top Rank Promotions who represents both Ramirez and Hart. Ramirez didn’t fight in the US until 2013. His last eight bouts have been in the US except for one in China winning the NABF title over Australian Junior Talipeau in 2014. Winning the North American Boxing Federation title against an Australian in China? Go figure!

Hart won the 2011 Golden Gloves title qualifying him for the 2012 Olympic Team. He went to Europe and lost in quarter finals. So upon his return in the Boxing Trials he won his first four matches before meeting Terrell Gausha whom he lost to in the 2009 GG finals by DQ in the 3rd round. The bout in the 2012 Trials ended 10-10, 34-34 count back with Gausha getting the 3-2 vote from the officials. Gausha would win his first bout in the 2012 Olympics in London before losing his next bout against a boxer from India. It is this writers opinion at 6:03 Hart would have been a better choice of the voters to represent the USA team. Gausha is out of Cleveland, OH, and 16-0 (9) as a professional.
In the Trials Hart defeated four boxers who are all now professionals. First Chris Pearson, 14-1 (10), of Trotwood, OH, d’Mitrius Ballard, 15-0 (11), of Temple Hills, MD, Antonine Douglas, 19-1-1 (13), Burke, VA, and Luis Arias, 16-0 (8), Milwaukee, WI, who holds the USBA middleweight title. That is quite a line-up of boxers Hart had defeated to get to the finals.

Hart was 85-11 as an amateur wining the US Nationals and as before mentioned the National Golden Gloves titles in 2011. He is 27 and has fought in his hometown three times. He only had two fights in 2016 due to a hand injury. In his last fight he stopped Andrew Hernandez, 16-4-1, winning the vacant NABF super middleweight title and defending his USBA title. Hernandez had a six fight winning streak stopped including a win over Russian Arif Magomedov, 17-0. That title he won in May of 2015 stopping Mike Jimenez, 17-0, in Las Vegas, NV. He defended the title in September of 2015 defeating the son of Hall of Fame boxer Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor, Aaron Pryor, Jr., 19-8-1, by stoppage in Las Vegas. Hart has fought in Las Vegas seven times. He has fought in Atlantic City, NJ, six times,

Hart was signed to a manager’s contract in July of 2014 with Dave Price and promotional contract with “Doc” Nowicki and Top Rank. They also have Derrick “Take it to the Bank” Webster, 22-1 (11), of Glassboro, NJ. His record was 38-2 in the amateurs losing to Hart twice.

Through Dave Price and Doc Nowicki this writer was able to get Hart to answer the following questions:

KEN HISSNER: I’ve known you for some time. The first time I saw you box is when you defeated Derrick Webster in an amateur tournament in Philly. I also saw you in New York win against a team from China. I believe your father and Fred Jenkins, Sr. train you now. Didn’t Chip Hart train you for a time in the amateurs?

JESSE HART: Yes my brother did train me for some time. I then went to Northern Michigan where I trained with Al Mitchell at the Olympic Development Center.

KEN HISSNER: I knew you spent time at the Northern Michigan University under Philadelphia’s Al Mitchell. How was it living away from home?

JESSE HART: Living away from was good in the sense it was like being in camp full time. I didn’t have the distraction of the street life and all it brings.

KEN HISSNER: I believe you divide your training between two gyms in Philly, the ABC Rec Center and Joe Hand’s Gym. Do you go away to a training camp for a bout and if yes where?

JESSE HART: Yes I train between ABC with Fred Jenkins and at Joe Hand’s with Danny Davis. Both trainers bring a uniqueness to their approach. Fred is an old school technician and disciplined boxing trainer but Danny brings his own style of modern pad work, strength work and he is an excellent wrapper of hands. I generally hold my camps at home but I have had camps where I physically left my home and stayed off site, trained at Joe Hand’s or ABC and then returned with my team to a selected location.

KEN HISSNER: What were your feelings when you fought Terrell Gausha in the Olympic Trials to a 10-10 decision and were not chosen for the 2012 USA Olympic team?

JESSE HART: It wasn’t that I wasn’t chosen or selected to represent the USA Team. I beat everyone in the double elimination Olympic Box-Off. That means I had to beat everybody and then fight the winner of the loser’s bracket and then beat him again. I did just that but after qualifying in the first of three tournaments overseas I was told that for the first time ever the USA Boxing would conduct something called the Re-Load. Basically then combined the national tournament with another box-off and I lost a tie breaker to Terrell. He then qualified in a second qualifier but keep in mind the top four in the division had already moved on. That left a bitter taste in my mouth but it doesn’t break you it makes you stronger

KEN HISSNER: I know you had a hand injury operated on. How is that hand at this time?

JESSE HART: My hand is 100%. I have a great surgeon who did a great job and I have fought since then with no problems.

KEN HISSNER: You are ranked No. 1 in the WBO. Have you seen the WBO champion Ramirez and if yes what is your opinion of him?

JESSE HART: Ramirez is a good fighter maybe even very good but he hasn’t fought the likes of Jesse Hart. I love that fight for Top rank, my fans and my team. That’s when the world will see that I am a bonafide super star.

KEN HISSNER: Do you have a time table when you want to fight for the WBO title if not now?

JESSE HART: I wanted to fight Ramirez in January of 2017. My management team contacted me and told me it should happen and I was hurt it didn’t but not really surprised. Ramirez wants to hold onto that title as long as he can.

KEN HISSNER: In your last seven fights only Dashon Johnson has gone the distance with you in Philly. There was talk of a rematch. Is that still in the works?

JESSE HART: Dashon Johnson was a good tough opponent and it goes to show you that when people fight Jesse Hart they train like they never done before. He came to fight, fought and lost. He gave it all against the champ and came up short. This Isn’t Rocky or the movie creed. You have to earn your shots at the champ. I don’t know maybe if his real name was Mayweather or Ward we could build another fight around that.

KEN HISSNER: WBC champion Badou Jack after drawing with IBF champion James DeGale vacated his title to move up to light heavyweight. Did you see the fight and if you did being ranked No. 5 in the IBF would you like to fight DeGale for his title?

JESSE HART: I would love to fight DeGale. Man I really wanted to fight Jack but he moved up. Anyone at 168lbs can get it and once I run through this super middleweight division who knows.

KEN HISSNER: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you.

JESSE HART: I would like to thank all the fans, Bob Arum, Top Rank, my management team Doc Nowicki and Dave Price and Team Hart: Cyclone, Fred Jenkins, Danny Davis, Hundew McDonald and slick Rick.

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Boxing Insider Notebook: Mayweather, Golovkin, Cuadras, Fonfara, Olympics, and more…


Boxing Insider Notebook: Mayweather, Golovkin, Cuadras, Fonfara, Olympics, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes

The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of January 24th to January 31st, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.

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Olympian Richard Hitchins Signs with Mayweather Promotions

Richard Hitchins fought for Haiti at the 2016 Rio Olympics and has recently signed a deal with Mayweather Promotions.

Hitchins will make his debut on March 4th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. He will compete in the junior welterweight division. He will be on the undercard of the Thurman vs. Garcia bout.

Carlos Cuadras vs. David Carmona Added to Golovkin vs. Jacobs HBO PPV Telecast

Former World Boxing Council (WBC) Super Flyweight Champion CARLOS “PRINCIPE” CUADRAS, (35-1-1, 27 KO’s) of Mexico City, Mexico returns to battle against cross-town rival and Former World Title Challenger DAVID “SEVERO” CARMONA, (20-3-5, 8 KO’s), also of Mexico City, Mexico, on Saturday, March 18 at The Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden.

Cuadras vs. Carmona, scheduled for ten rounds, will be featured on the televised undercard of the World Middleweight Championship between Unified Middleweight World Champion GENNADY “GGG” GOLOVKIN, (36-0-0, 33 KO’s) and WBA Middleweight World Champion and Mandatory Challenger DANIEL “THE MIRACLE MAN” JACOBS, (32-1, 29 KO’s). The event will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.

“I wanted a rematch with Roman Gonzalez but right now my sole focus is on Carmona, we’ve known each other for many years and there is a true rivalry between us,” said Cuadras. “I’m looking forward to settling it in the ring at Madison Square Garden, the home of so many classic battles and in front of the great Mexican boxing fans in New York City and those watching on HBO Pay-Per-View.”

Said Carmona, “Carlos has accomplished a great deal in boxing, being a former world champion and undefeated for many years. However, my time is now and I look forward to being victorious on March 18.”
“We’re very excited to add this all-Mexican battle between Carlos Cuadras and David Carmona to an already outstanding boxing event,” said TOM LOEFFLER, Managing Director of K2 PROMOTIONS. “Cuadras is coming off one of the best fights of 2016 in his world title fight with “Chocolatito” last September on HBO and Carmona is looking to prove he’s worthy of another world title opportunity.”

“Carlos was one of the true breakout stars in boxing last year in his valiant performance against ‘Chocolatito’. We’ve gotten a tremendous response to our showcasing of the lighter weights at our events from boxing fans and the media and we’re very excited to have these two super flyweight battles on the televised undercard.”

“Adding this third bout to the March 18 event continues our commitment to boxing fans in the arena and those watching on HBO Pay-Per-View that we will provide maximum value at our events. Tickets for Madison Square Garden are selling fast and we look forward to another outstanding event on March 18.”
On September 10, 2016, then undefeated WBC Super Flyweight World Champion Cuadras and three-division world champion ROMAN “CHOCOLATITO” GONZALEZ waged war in a 2016 “Fight of the Year” candidate in front of a huge crowd at The Fabulous Forum and telecast on HBO.

After twelve epic rounds of world class action, the 28-year-old Cuadras lost a very close decision to Gonzalez in a battle that had the Mexican and Nicaraguan partisan crowds on their feet cheering throughout.

Carmona is returning to the ring following the toughest test of his seven-year professional career. On May 8, 2016, the 25-year-old Carmona traveled to Tokyo, Japan to challenge undefeated WBO Super Flyweight Champion NAOYA INOUE. Following twelve action packed rounds, Carmona came up short on the judges’ scorecards but validated his standing among the best in the division.

Sampson Lewkowicz Issues Challenge to World’s Top Super Middleweights on Behalf of Boxing Prodigy David Benavidez: Fight My Fighter

Promoter Sampson Lewkowicz is issuing a challenge to the world’s top super middleweights: Help his fighter, David “El Bandera Roja/Red Flag” Benavidez, become the youngest 168-lb champion in boxing history by fighting him.

“He is on a course to smash the old record,” said Lewkowicz of Benavidez, but I need a top-10 contender or a world champion to fight him. He’ll take on anyone in the world.”

Phoenix, Arizona’s Benavidez (17-0, 16 KOs), who did his usual steamroll over opponents last Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (this time over Uzbekistan’s Shareli Mamajonov in less than two brutal rounds), is only 20 years old. The youngest super middleweight champion in history was Darin Van Horn, who was 22 years, 8 months and 11 days old when he beat Robert Hines by a 12-round unanimous decision for the IBF Junior Middleweight Championship on February 5, 1989.

“Promoters don’t want their fighters to fight him,” continued Lewkowicz. “He can’t move up the ratings or make boxing history if promoters are too worried about their investments to let their fighters face him. I need the promoters behind the top 10 contenders in the division to step up and see if their fighters can stop his rise. They can’t. But I need them to try.”

Benavidez is currently rated WBC #14, WBA #7, IBF #13.

“If you are reading this and you promote any super middleweight fighter who has a top-10 ranking or is world champion, call me. We will fight. We hear from opponents looking to get paid for getting knocked out, but never anyone with a top-10 rating. This is your challenge. Call me and let’s get it on. Help my fighter become part of boxing history.”

Fred Jenkins and Roque Zapata Have Statements to Make in March 10th Battle in Philly

Fred Jenkins, Jr., who has labored in anonymity for six years as a pro, and Roque Zapata, a virtual unknown who upset the apple cart two months ago in Philadelphia, collide March 10 at the 2300 Arena in a six-round junior middleweight fight with career implications for each man.

Topping the nine-bout card is an eight-round all-Philadelphia lightweight contest between Anthony Burgin and Avery Sparrow. First fight begins at 7.30 pm.

Jenkins, 30, turned pro in early in 2011. He has compiled a 10-3 record with 3 K0s. His biggest win came in 2014 when he knocked out Jeremy Trussell, of Baltimore, MD, in two rounds at the 2300 Arena. Trussell was 8-1-1 at the time.

In his last fight Oct. 14 in the same ring, Jenkins outpointed Ibrihim Shabazz, of Newark, NJ, over four rounds. He also has beaten James Robinson, of York, PA, and he lost to undefeated fighters: Jeff Lentz, of Lanoka Harbor, NJ, and Ismael Garcia, of Vineland, NJ. He has been stopped once.

“I had about 50 amateur fights,” said Jenkins (left), who is 5-foot-7. “The heaviest I ever was in the amateurs was 215 pounds, but there were times around 2008 or 2009 when I was not training that I went up to 275.”

When he turned pro in 2011, Jenkins was as heavy as 174.

“I was working back then and I didn’t have a lot of time to train,” Jenkins said. “I worked for a railroad company in King of Prussia (PA) and my job was to drive people to and from work. I also worked for a paratransit company, driving elderly people and disabled people. Sometimes I was in the gym and sometimes not. I was taking fights at heavier weights “

Jenkins was in the house Dec. 2 when Zapata out-pointed Isaiah Wise.

“Zapata throws a lot of punches and he simply tries to outwork you,” Jenkins said. “But when I start banging him in the body and going to his ribs, I don’t think he’ll be throwing that many punches afterward. He’s also smaller than I am (5-foot-6 compared to 5-foot-7) and that doesn’t happen too often with me. I’m coming to win and I’m going to do everything I can to get there.” Jenkins is managed and trained by his dad, Fred Jenkins, Sr., a member of the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame.

Zapata (right), 21, of Culpeper, VA, traveled to the 2300 Arena on Dec. 2 and upset previously unbeaten (3-0) Wise, of Philadelphia, in what could have been the most action-packed four rounds of 2016 locally.
A pro less than one year, Zapata squeezed all six fights (2-1-3 record) into 2016, fighting opponents with good records, mostly in their backyards. He has boxed once in Virginia, five times in Pennsylvania and he also upset then-unbeaten (5-0) Dan Karpency, of Adah, PA, over four rounds last April in Washington, PA.

Zapata’s only setback was via six-round decision to unbeaten (6-0) Amonte Eberhardt, also in Washington, PA.

“I came into Philly on December 2 as an outcast and that night all I wanted was the respect of the Philly fans,” Zapata said. “I knew I had to prove to myself and to the Philly fans that I belong there with the hometown guys. I’m going to bring it every time. I feel I have not got the respect of the Philly fans, so that being said, on March 10 I am going to fight Fred Jenkins and I’m gonna do my absolute best to show the fans that I’m not a bum looking for paycheck but that I was born to do this and be the best at it.

“My career progress I would say is good even though I have one loss and three draws. All my fights were tough. Amonte Eberhardt is the only guy who beat me and I took that fight on one day’s notice and I had to cut 13 pounds and I fought six hard rounds even though I was dehydrated. This is no excuse but I believe if I had an eight-week camp (it would have been different). I was robbed in those three draws. I have watched them over and over and I cannot believe how the judges scored the way they did but that’s what happens when you fight hometown guys sometimes, but life goes on.

“Returning to Philadelphia to fight on a great card with good upcoming prospects is amazing.”

Andrzej Fonfara Adds Pilates to Training Regimen

Light heavyweight contender, Andrzej Fonfara (28-, 16 KOs), has entered the world of Pilates as he plans to take his career to new heights. Born in Poland and training in Bay Area, CA, with coach Virgil Hunter, Fonfara believes his Pilates regimen will improve his boxing career on many different levels.

“I just started doing Pilates as part of my workout routine.” said former world title challenger Andrzej Fonfara. “I felt I needed to do something different in my boxing training and Pilates fit right in. The workouts are very challenging. My stamina and balance feels better. Overall I feel like a new fighter. I know I have what it takes to get back on top. My goal is to get back in the win column and continue my march toward a world championship.”

Right now, negotiations are being discussed for his next fight. Look for Fonfara to return to the ring in March, most likely against a top contender. Right now Fonfara is currently ranked WBC #8.

AIBA Special Investigation Committee Statement on 2016 Rio Olympics

The AIBA Special Investigation Committee (SIC), consisting of experts from its Refereeing and Judging (R&J), Technical and Rules, as well as Disciplinary Commissions, has concluded its investigation into the practices and procedures of officials during the Rio 2016 Olympic Boxing Tournament. The SIC’s recommendations for improvements to R&J structure for the Tokyo 2020 Cycle are already being put in place.

The investigation ordered by AIBA President Dr Ching-Kuo Wu after a small number of decisions at Rio 2016 came under scrutiny and serious allegations were made against AIBA officials, has been concluded. Starting in mid-September, the full investigation took place in two phases across four months, with over 50 interviews conducted during that time.

The key findings indicate that, due to a lack of proper procedural norms, a concentration of decision-making power and the assigning of roles assumed by former senior management that had a detrimental impact on in-competition best practice. Whilst the Special Investigation found no active interference in the results, AIBA moved quickly to identify those involved and took the necessary steps to ensure its officials will no longer become scapegoats for close decisions which are an inherent aspect of the sport.

“AIBA defends the integrity of its expert R&Js who operate in difficult, subjective circumstances, but we have shown that we are also not afraid of making difficult decisions for the good of boxing. An unwelcome axis of influence and sole decision-making had been created and used by former Senior Management that led to a lack of due process being carried out. We moved immediately to re-empower our commissions and use their expertise in order to decentralise the decision-making and re-establish our procedures.

Whilst there is no evidence that this had a direct influence on results in Rio, if best practice is not followed 100% of the time by our officials and R&Js, that is unacceptable. The SIC have conducted a thorough investigation and many of their recommendations, including the disbanding of the 5-star R&J structure and placing control of the FOP back in the hands of the Tournament Supervisor, have already been put into place. These actions will ensure even greater consistency and transparency in our officiating as we head into the new Olympic Cycle.” said AIBA President Dr Ching-Kuo Wu.

Potentially damaging influences removed

The report shows that the actions AIBA has taken since the Rio 2016 Olympic Boxing Tournament, and the organisation’s current positive steps, are justified. Following the removal of these mechanisms that threatened the integrity of the organisation, the SIC also found unprofessional relationships within AIBA had created an atmosphere of collusion between senior management and the Five-Star R&Js that undermined the organisation and had a negative impact on its operating efficiency.

Recommendations already being implemented

The overriding goal of the SIC investigation, to provide recommendations that will help create a reorganised structure for R&Js and ensure the correct safeguards are in place, have already been realised. The Five-star R&J system has been disbanded with the unanimous agreement of the R&J Commission. Improvements to the in-competition administration of officials have already been trialled and approved for AOB tournaments in 2017 after being successfully trial run at the Youth World Championships in St Petersburg in November 2016.

The R&J Draw Commission has been removed and an automated Swiss Timing system will assign officials to matches, with all five Judges’ scorecards now used to determine the winner of a bout. Changes to the Field of Play will now give R&Js the best possible environment in which to operate and be evaluated, while the Executive Director, or any AIBA staff member, will no longer have any role in the FOP. There is no evidence that the reallocation of medal rankings is required for Rio 2016, but AIBA will be researching the feasibility of processes for the appeal of decisions in the future.

Education and training

In order to move forward, and to prevent AIBA becoming a scapegoat for unpopular decisions in the future, a broad education programme will be undertaken involving boxers, coaches, officials and fans alike, to instil a greater understanding of scoring and give a strong reminder of the importance of sportsmanship, respect and fair play values. It is essential that the entire boxing community is more in tune with the parameters within which the R&Js work, in order to better understand their decisions. The subjectivity of scoring is part of what makes the sport unique, and the nature of the contest means that strong opinions are formed by teams and fans, but that should not impact negatively on the integrity of the officials.

Reintegration of Rio 2016 officials

AIBA reiterates that while the decision to stand down all 36 R&Js that were officiating at Rio 2016 was necessary until the SIC investigation had been concluded, as a preventive measure, it was in no way an indication of their wrongdoing. The reintegration process of those officials into the new-look R&J structure will now begin on a case by case basis, and an extensive series of courses and workshops is being implemented to grow and enhance the pool of first-class officials around the world.

AIBA has taken important steps for the sake of boxing and is determined to learn from the past in order to build positive, enduring legacies for the sport. AIBA Ethics Commission Chair has received the mandate to analyse recent issues and the general organisation of the Association, with the objective to propose operational and governance reforms to the President and the Executive Committee. The organisation stands more united than ever as witnessed in the last Extraordinary Congress held in Montreux, but will continue to tackle any incident of impropriety that dishonours it or the sport with the utmost severity, and repeats its commitment to ensuring the values of fair play and transparency are upheld at all times by the entire AIBA Family, its staff and stakeholders.

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Philadelphia Produced 12 Olympians Since 1920!


Philadelphia Produced 12 Olympians Since 1920!
By: Ken Hissner

The first Philadelphia Olympians were in 1920 when 3 made the USA team. There was Sid Loog at 160, William Clark at 147 and Earl Hartman at 118. None came back with a medal from Antwerp, Netherlands.
In 1928 Ray Gatsby was at 126 in Antwerp, Netherlands. No medal.

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Photo Credit: Phillyboxinghistory.com

Frankie Sodano was at 112 in the 1948 Olympics in the UK. No medal. Sodano was the first to turn professional and had a very good career going 49-8-1 with 22 knockouts.

It took some time until “Smokin” Joe Frazier brought home the first Gold Medal in 1964 in Tokyo. He had lost in the Olympic Trials to Buster Mathis who broke his hand allowing Frazier to replace him. He would go onto become the heavyweight champion of the world finishing with a 32-4-1 record with 27 knockouts.

In 1968 James Wallington won a Bronze Medal at 141 in Mexico City. The previous year he won the Gold Medal at the Pan American Games in 1967 held in Winnipeg, CAN. He would end up his career at 79-3 winning 3 titles each from 1966 to 1968 in the AAU, Golden Gloves and inter-service tournaments. He was a career serviceman in the US Army passing away at 43.

In 1984 Tyrell Biggs at Super heavyweight and Meldrick Taylor at 126 both won Gold Medals in Los Angeles. Biggs would go onto fight for the world title and finished with a record 30-10 with 20 knockouts. Taylor would become world champion of the IBF at 140 and WBA champion at 147. He finished with a record 38-8-1 with 20 knockouts.

In 1996 David “American Dream” won the Gold Medal at 154 at Atlanta, Georgia. He would go onto become the WBA 154 world champion. He finished at 17-2 with 7 knockouts. Also in the same Olympics was Zahir “Z-Man” Raheem at 119 who would later turn professional and finish up at 35-3 with 21 knockouts. No medal.

In 2004 Olympics at Athens, Greece, Rock Allen represented the USA at 141. He won numerous amateur titles and turned professional posting a 15-0 record with 7 knockouts before a car accident ended his career. No medal.

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Claressa “T-Rex” Shields the Greatest Amateur Female Boxer Turning Professional November 19th Under Kovalev and Ward!


Claressa “T-Rex” Shields the Greatest Amateur Female Boxer Turning Professional November 19th Under Kovalev and Ward!
By: Ken Hissner

The two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa “T-Rex” Shields will be turning professional on November 19th on the undercard of Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward against pro debuting Franchon Crews, of Baltimore, MD, an eight-time USA National Boxing champion who lost in the 2015 Olympics Trials at light heavyweight. They fought in February of 2012 Olympic Trials when Crews was No. 1 with Shields winning 31-19 and 16 at the time. Shields should not be lost in the crowd of 10 bouts scheduled at the T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas, NV.

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The 21 year-old Shields will be moving up from middleweight to super middleweight. Now living in southern FL and training at Boca Raton, FL, after living her whole life in Flint, MI, she had a 77-1 record in the amateurs only losing in 2012 World amateur championships in China. She would go onto win the 2014 and 2016 World amateur championships. She won her first Olympic Gold Medal in London, England, defeating opponents from Sweden, Kazakhstan and Russia. In 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, she won her second Olympic Gold Medal defeating opponents 3-0 from Russia, Kazakhstan and Netherlands.

Shields also won the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada defeating opponents from Brazil, Argentina and Dominican Republic all by scores of 3-0. She is only the third female boxer to be on the cover of Ring Magazine in their December 2016 edition.

Shields is well represented by co-managers Mark Taffet and Jamie Fritz. Taffet who spent 25 years with HBO Sports and running HBOPPV since their inception in 1991, started his own company Mark Taffet Media leaving HBO in January 2016. Co-manager Fritz is president of Fritz Martin Management out of Las Vegas, NV, an Athlete Rep firm. Her trainer will be Leon Lawson who trained the Dirrell brothers, Andre the Olympic Bronze medalist in 2004 and Anthony the former WBC World super middleweight champion.

“Claressa has incredibly broad shoulders and understands the responsibility that comes with her talent and her quest to lead the resurgence of women’s boxing. She is wise well beyond her 21 years. She believes the way to make a statement is to take on the best and show that women’s boxing is competitive, serious, talent-filled and entertaining,” said Mark Taffet.

It’s this writer’s hope that the American people and those non-American fight fans get behind the two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner Claressa Shields.

“She has a one-fight deal with Roc Nation for November 19th. She has not signed a multi-fight deal with any promoter. Claressa and her management team have had discussions with a number of promoters and will assess the alternatives which best fit her strategic goals following her November 19 professional debut,” said Mark Taffet.

Shields once mentioned signing with Al Haymon or Golden Boy Promotions. Roc Nation has a one fight deal ahead of everyone.

“Claressa arrives in Las Vegas on Monday and will be participating in a full array of fight week media activities. Hers will be the highest profile and most media-intensive female professional boxing debut ever,” said Mark Taffet.

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1964 Olympic Gold Medalist Valeri Popenchenko


1964 Olympic Gold Medalist Valeri Popenchenko
By: Ken Hissner

Known as Mr. Knockout!

In a recent visit to the office of neurologist Igor Porotov I asked if he was Russian? He said he was so I asked him if he ever heard of Nikolai Valuev and he said he did. He then asked me “have you ever heard of Valeri Popenchenko?” I said I didn’t but when he handed me Wikipedia of Popenchenko the 1964 Gold Medalist in the middleweight division I really found myself interested.

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Popenchenko took up boxing at the age of 11 in 1948. By 1959 he was more interested in track & field. Eventually being a natural athlete he was asked to return to boxing which he did. In 1959 he won his first Soviet title. He came in second in 1960, but reclaimed the title in 1961 through 1965. He retired in 1965 and was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labour.

In 1968 Popenchenko graduated from the Leningrad Military Higher School of the Border Service and from 1970 until his death worked as a head of physical culture department of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University. I guess I should get back to his winning a Gold Medal at the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 1964.

Popenchenko had a record of 200-13 winning the Gold in 1964 and being voted the Val Barker Trophy, becoming the only soviet boxer to receive the honor as the best boxer in the Olympics. He had won the 1963 Moscow European Amateur Championships and the 1965 Berlin Championships.

Let’s take a look at the Olympians that year who were Gold Medalists like “Smokin” Joe Frazier who would become the heavyweight champion of the world. At flyweight Fernando Atzori of Italy would go onto win the European Flyweight title as a pro and finish up at 44-6-2.

Bantamweight champ was Takao Sakurai of Japan had a record of 138-13 and went onto finish with a 30-2 record as a pro only losing to Lionel Rose in a world title fight and stopped by Ruben Olivares. Nothing to be ashamed of. At featherweight was Stanislaw Stepashkin of the Soviet Union who finished at 193-11. At that time Communist countries like the Soviet Union and Poland were not permitted to turn professional.

The lightweight champion was Jozef Grudzien of Poland who then went on to win the Silver Medal in the 1968 Olympics with one of his wins over Ronnie Harris 4-1 of the USA. At light welterweight was another Pole Jerzy Kulej who was a two-time Gold Medalist also winning in 1968 in Mexico City defeating a Cuban. In 1964 he defeated a Soviet Union opponent. His amateur record was 317-25-6.

The welterweight was Marian Kasprzyk of Poland who in 1960 was a Bronze Medalist. He suffered an injury in the semi-final and couldn’t compete. In 1964 he broke his thumb in the first round of the final. The light middleweight was Boris Lagutin of the Soviet Union who in 1960 won a Bronze Medal, and win back to back Gold Medals in 1964 and 1968. He finished at 241-11. At light heavyweight was Cosimo Pinto of Italy who would not go onto a professional career. In 1967 he was a Bronze Medal at the European championships. He was the Italian champion in 1965 and 1967.

Valeri Popenchenko won the Val Barker award and out performed this fine group of boxers.

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Rio 2016 Boxing Recap


Rio 2016 Boxing Recap
By: Matthew N. Becher

All the medals have been awarded and the Rio Olympics have finally come to a close with last night’s ceremonies. In the Boxing division a lot of great fights took place, future world champions got to display their talents to the masses and controversy still reared its ugly head as it always does in this sport. Here were some of the highs and lows of what took place in the past 2 weeks.

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USA captures 3 medals:
The US team won more boxing medals then it has in over a decade. Nico Hernandez was able to win a Bronze medal to start off the pace. Shakur Stevenson lost a heartbreaking split decision to Cuban, and now two time Olympic Gold Medalist, Robeisy Ramirez. Stevenson was awarded a Silver medal and will now most likely look to turn professional. And rounding out the Americans that medaled, the Golden Girl, Claressa Shields took home the gold medal for the second time in two Olympics.

Uzbekistan ruled the podium:
The country of Uzbekistan took home 7 medals in all (3 Golds, 2 Silvers & 2 Bronze). They were represented from the smaller fighters to the bigger, and have now officially cemented their name onto the international scene with the showing in these games.
Hasanboy Dusmatov, the Light Flyweight Gold Medalist, was awarded the Val Barker trophy for the most outstanding male competitor. Dusmatov is also the first of the amateurs competing in this year’s Olympics to sign a professional contract. (He has signed on with South African Promoter Rodney Berman’s Golden Gloves)

The Pro’s couldn’t cut it:
In a year that eliminated the head gear, the International Boxing Federation also allowed Professional fighters to compete with the Amateurs for the first time. This was a hot topic throughout the boxing world, with many seeing it an unfair advantage to let a seasoned veteran compete with amateur fighters. It turned out to be a non-topic. As most amateurs were not threatened by the professionals being allowed to compete, they proved themselves right. The two most well-known pros that turned out for the games, Hassan N’Daam of France and former world champion Amnat Ruenroeng could not get passed the first round and the round of 16 respectively. The amateur style was not to their ability and both will now have a difficult time with backlash in their pro careers.

Allegations of Fixed matches, again:
In the history of the games match fixing has been the black eye of the sport. The fights of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Roy Jones are two of the most famous that have ever taken place, and this year saw a few too many fights that seemed to follow suit.

AIBA was forced to take a look at fights that many felt were clearly swayed by dishonest referees and/or judges. AIBA issued a statement that agreed that some negligence may have played a role, but that no evidence could be found in the ‘fixing’ of fights. Several Judges and Referees were excused from the games early (though they were not named) and AIBA did not overturn any of the results. It is a very difficult process to manage the amateur boxing officials, but more thought and efforts need to go into the games. It seems that this happens in every Olympics now, and it is hurting the sport in a great deal.

Claressa Shields becomes history:
Claressa Shields is only 21 and may be the best female boxer on the planet. She capped off her time in Rio, the same way she did in London, with a Gold Medal. Shields became the first US boxer, Male or Female to win two gold medals. She was also awarded the Val Barker trophy for the Most Outstanding Female boxer in the games.

Shields right now is at the top of her sport and has options. She can show up again and go for the three peat, which only 3 boxers have ever done before. Or she can turn pro and try and weave her way through the Female boxing scene, which has historically not been so rewarding to its fighters.
Either way, she is a very bright star in the sport and she will be at the top for a long time.

See you all in four years, 2020, when Tokyo plays host.

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