Don’t Tell Robert “Tito” Manzanarez 15 is Too Young to Turn Pro!
Don’t Tell Robert “Tito” Manzanarez 15 is Too Young to Turn Pro!
By: Ken Hissner
It was 3 months past his 15th birthday when Phoenix, AZ, born (2/17/94) Robert “Tito” Manzanarez turned professional in Los Mochis, Mexico, when he stopped Jose Rosario Lopez in 0:32. At 5:07 he only weighed 110¾ and scored another win just some 8 days later weighing 123¾ but returning to his flyweight weight some 4 weeks later in his third bout.
Manzanarez was 9-0 in 2010 in 4 round bouts. In 2011 he was 7-0 in all 6 round bouts. In July of 2011 he faced his first opponent with a winning record in Cristian Aguilar, 5-1, scoring a first round knockout which was his eleventh bout weighing 122. It was his second scheduled 6 round bout.
Two fights later Manzanarez defeated Edgar Alfredo Martinez, 6-1, over 6 rounds. He would go onto score 8 straight stoppages after this fight before suffering his first career loss to Alejandro Barrera, 21-11, by stoppage in the 4th round of a scheduled 6 round bout. He would defeat 13 straight winning record opponents after this up until his most recent bout including reversing his loss on November 17th in 2012. He was 5-1 in 2012. He had his first scheduled 8 round bout in June of 2012.
In February of 2013 Manzanarez would be back in the ring starting a 6 straight stoppage wins including a third round knockout over Barrera in a re-match on November 16th 2013. In May of 2013 he had his first scheduled 10 round bout in May and going just 4-0 in 2013. In 2014 he also went 4-0.
In August of 2014 Manzanarez faced Ricardo Castillo, 40-11-1, who in 2009 fought for the IBF World featherweight title which ended in a TD3 and Castillo never got a rematch. Manzanarez stopped Castillo in the third round. In his next bout he won a 10 round decision over Hector Velazquez, 56-23-3, in December.
In 2015 Manzanarez only had 3 bouts with 2 by stoppage. He would come in at 140 in one of these bouts which has been his highest weight as of yet. In 2016 he returned some 4 months later in a bout scheduled for 6 rounds. He knocked out Carlos Joan Jacobs, 20-11-1, in the second round. In his previous bout he turned 21. It would be his only bout in 2016.
It would be another 11 months before Manzanarez would fight again and his first bout outside of Mexico, in the US. On February 17th of 2017 he scored a 4th round knockout with a body shot in a scheduled 8 round bout over former super featherweight champion Gamaliel Diaz, 40-15-3, at the Belasco Theater, in Los Angeles, CA.
Manzanarez 35-1 (28), on May 18th defeated Erick Daniel Martinez, 13-7-1 (7), over 8 rounds at the Casino Del Sol in Tucson, AZ, his home state for the first time since turning professional after 7 years of fighting. At 22 he is a name to watch!
Don’t Call It A Comeback: Boxing Insider Interview with Yuandale ‘Money Shot’ Evans
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK: BOXING INSIDER INTERVIEW WITH YUANDALE ‘MONEY SHOT’ EVANS
By: John Freund
Yuandale Evans has fought 20 pro fights and maintains an impressive 19-1 record, but his toughest fight came outside of the ring as he battled his own promoters for years in what has sadly become an all-too-common storyline in professional boxing: The never-ending contractual dispute. Evans fought only twice in 5 years during the prime of his career, yet somehow maintained the mental and emotional fortitude necessary to remain in peak fighting condition. And just when he was about to call it quits, the Boxing Gods came calling in the form of a short-notice fight against former World Champion, Billel Dib… on a Lou DiBella card, no less! Evans made the most of his opportunity, scoring a hard-fought unanimous decision upset. We talked with Evans about his trials and tribulations, the long hard road to success, and what lies ahead for the man they call ‘Money Shot.’
Tell me about your background. Why did you get into boxing?
When I got into boxing, I was only 10. I have a younger brother who started boxing a year before the age amateur boxers are supposed to start fighting. So I was supporting him and traveling with him a lot, and I took a liking to it. Before that I was a straight-A student. I was into arts, drawing, coloring, computers – definitely computers – that’s one of the things I went to college for, computer engineering. I was always a laid-back, people-person. I didn’t know I could fight, because I never got into fights.
So what was that 1st fight like? A lot of butterflies?
Without the head gear and with the smaller gloves, I felt like a bird let out of a cage – like I could do anything I wanted – that I could hit, that I couldn’t be touched. And it was a lot easier for me, being that I have a pro-style, I’m a big puncher. I definitely was nervous – my debut was on HBO in Biloxi, Mississippi, on a Roy Jones Jr. undercard. So I was definitely nervous being that it was going to be televised.
After a promising start to your career, you suffered a 1st round KO in your only loss to a very tough opponent, Javier Fortuna. What happened in that fight?
Both of us being southpaws, I went up and he went over. He landed with a lot of power, and my gloves touched the mat, but the ref didn’t say anything! He didn’t call it a knockdown. I was a little confused by that, and I was hurt too. I had never been hurt before in my entire life! But oh man, I was hurt… and he rushed me with a bunch of punches and he pinned me on the ropes. My corner didn’t tell me to hold, and I had never had that experience before, so instead of grabbing and holding, or moving out of there, I continued to fight. It was just a case of me never being in that type of situation before, and not really knowing what to do.
After that fight, you had a 39-month layoff between 2012 and 2015 due to contractual issues with various promoters. What was that time like for you?
It was one of the worst times of my life. I had started going back to college, so I started getting in debt with student loans. And my team stopped believe in me. I actually left my trainer that I had been with since I was 10. I was really upset because I felt like I couldn’t get to where I should go or where I should be, but at the same time, I feel like I had to go through all that to become the man I am today.
How do you stay mentally motivated during those lean years?
I’ve always been mentally motivated. I’ve never had male role models, so I’ve always motivated myself to do better. I just decided to put in the work. I started getting back in the gym, getting in tip-top shape. I was at training camps, I was sparring everybody who was winning and fighting – every top guy. And everyone was promising me things, saying, “hey, we didn’t know you were still in the game, we’re going to get you signed.” It was basically all just to keep me in training camp, to get their guys more work.
Did you ever think of quitting?
Oh definitely (laughs). Right before DiBella called me, I was telling my fiancé, “I’m done with this.” I was at a point where I’m either going to work a job and go back to school, or I’m going to box. And being a boxer wasn’t paying the bills. I kept leaving jobs to go to training camp and to go to the gym and train for fights that I was getting called for.
Were you still getting a lot of calls?
Oh yeah, we were getting calls. It could be a guy that’s 100-0, and we’d say, “yeah, we’ll fight him.” They’d say ‘okay,’ and they’d give us a BS purse. We’d say, “yeah, we’ll take it anyway, we just want to get on TV.” And then a week or two down the line, they’d call and say, ‘Ohhh, Evans is too tough. We don’t want that type of fighter, we’re looking for a lower caliber fighter.’
Your last fight was your first in 1.5 years, and you took it on short notice – 1 month after you proposed to your fiancé – to face an extremely tough Billel Dib. Going into that fight, Dib was ranked #6 by the WBO. Not to mention he is the bigger guy, and you were jumping up in weight. How did you prepare for all of that?
I had 5 sparring partners. I sparred 2 junior welterweights, and 1 middleweight. I was doing resistance sparring with those guys – what that is, is no break/no bell, 4/4/4. I started swimming. I was dieting. I started running like 7 miles every other day. And I was doing the sprint-and-run workout that Adrian Broner taught me when I was in training camp with him. This was also the first time I actually watched one of my opponent’s fight videos. He fights tall, so I actually thought he was a lot taller (laughs)… I had a 6-foot sparring partner!
You scored a tough UD win, which has given you a lot of attention. What are your hopes for the future now that you have a spotlight on you?
I’m looking for titles, man. I’m back down at 126, and I’m looking for title fights at 126 – I’m looking to take that division over. I want to at least fight 2 more times this year, before the year is out. I’m looking for those big names.
What advice do you have for young fighters looking to sign with promoters? What should they look out for and be aware of?
My advice, for one: never give up. Even when it gets bad, even when it gets rough, even when you lose your first fight – never give up. Adversity should fuel your fire, it should make you want to go harder. Keep your focus, be level-headed, and just keep going and keep driving. As far as with the promoters and managers, it’s political. If you’re a money-maker, they’re gonna deal with you. If you’re not a money-maker, you have to become one… you have to become TV material. My approach is: be polite, be a gentleman, and be somebody that can kick ass too.
You were successful after two very long layoffs in your career. What advice do you have to any fighter looking to make a comeback after a long layoff?
My advice would be to stay in the gym. Stay mentally and physically in shape. Make sure your body can go those rounds. Dieting – I’m a small guy, I’m not a big eater anyway, so I can’t really give a dieting suggestion. I just stayed ready and I did a lot of sparring. I did 12 or 15 rounds just to be prepared. I sparred with junior welterweights and a middleweight to make sure I could take their punches. Just keep going hard and keep in shape and keep training.
Besides Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson, who’s the greatest boxer of all time?
Roberto Duran. I met him when I fought out in Vegas on B-hop and Roy Jones’ card. I got a pic too. He’s a great guy. He looks like a giant Super Mario brother (laughs).
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, and congrats on getting engaged – when’s the big day?
We’ve got the month – not the official date. September of next year, Cancun.
Great. Hopefully you’ll be a champion by then…
Hopefully I’ll be more than 1 by then!
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.
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.
The Lasting Stain of Pros in the Olympics
The Lasting Stain of Pros in the Olympics
By: Brandon Bernica
When the International Boxing Association ruled that professional boxers would be eligible to compete in this year’s Olympics, Hassan N’Dam’s dreams of winning gold could not be closer. A former world title challenger in the pro ranks, N’Dam chose to try his hand in Rio despite overwhelming opposition to the decision. Yet on the dawn of the games beginning, N’Dam’s hopes crashed down hard after a loss to Brazil’s Michel Borges kicked him out of the tournament early.
N’Dam’s exit hits home for the people of his native Cameroon. But from a broader perspective, his loss signifies the risks inherent in this new professional Olympian trend. This troubling curveball in the Olympic ranks threatens to jeopardize professional fighters’ careers as they stoop down to disrupt amateur boxing in the process.
The Olympics have long been the pinnacle of amateur boxing. Mystique infiltrates the event as young fighters from across the globe fight for the last time before they enter the murky waters of professional boxing. Instead of fighting for a new contract or a high-grade endorsement, these boxers fight for no more than their nation’s honor. Having fighters tainted by the pro game enter this fray runs the risk of devaluing gold medals into nothing more than trophies on a mantelpiece. Gold medals should be symbols of national victory, not tokens of individualistic success.
Of course, the danger most critics note about professional boxers entering the Olympics is the potential of harmful mismatches. Yes, N’Dam lost to an amateur, but imagine if the characters in this story were different. What if power-punching Gennady Golovkin entered and faced some overpowered 17-year old kid? The potential for career-altering injury would be much higher in an already scary sport. Young fighters grow and make mistakes in the amateurs without the fear of long, punishing rounds. Adding strong pros and fighting without headgear make the Olympics a hotbed for waiting disaster.
Yet for pros, forgoing their careers in search of Olympic glory doesn’t come without a price. Let’s take N’Dam as an example. Due to a new regulation by the WBC, N’Dam cannot fight for their belt for two years because he fought in the Olympics, even if he rises in their rankings. This decreases the chances that N’Dam lands lucrative, momentous fights in the coming years. In the future, expect more boxing organizations to take stands against this trend in hopes of preserving the quality of the amateur and professional sides. Most of boxing stringently opposes the new Olympics rules, so N’Dam may face ridicule and bias against him for his decision. In a sport where bias plays a massive role, this hurts.
Boxing needs to be tough on these professionals who choose to enter an amateur competition. Yes, I get it, there is a lot of positives in being an Olympian. But those positives don’t outweigh the negatives. Year after year, we watch as bad judging persists, promoters continue to run shady operations, and fighter safety remains dead as a topic of conversation. We can’t sit idly by and watch boxing’s own notorious reputation become its reality. The official Olympic committee needs to oversee its boxing section with more care. Fighters need to be suspended and educated for entertaining this risky business. It’s a slippery slope that, if not regulated, could drive boxing’s credibility deeper and deeper into the ground.
In no other sport do professionals fight amateurs. Period. Clear distinctions are drawn between the two ranks for obvious reasons. Yet because of short-sighted motives, these lines in the sand are more blurred than ever. Both professional and amateur boxing involve vastly different incentives, rules, and talent-levels. N’Dam’s loss showcases boxing’s parity at the expense of a trend that could eventually turn lethal. Everyone involves deserves better than for gold medals to be awarded because professionals find it convenient to take advantage of comically awful rules.
AIBA to allow pro’s in the 2016 Olympic games, Fair or Foul?
AIBA to allow pro’s in the 2016 Olympic games, Fair or Foul?
By: Matthew Becher
Last month a vote took place with AIBA (Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur or International Boxing Association) in which 84 out of its 88 federations agreed to allow professional boxers to participate in the upcoming summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. This will be the first time that professional boxers will be allowed to compete in a, regularly, amateur event and against other amateur participants. This brings up many questions of why this has been changed so close to the actual events and why a mixing of pro’s and novices would be thought to be Okay to do.
The reasoning for AIBA to allow professional athletes and amateurs to compete with one another is to “increase the amount of competitive boxers”, having amateurs step up their competition can only make them better. What then happens to amateur boxing? Under this new model, the true amateur boxer, who has gone through years of tournaments and trials just to make it to the Olympics will be able to retain their amateur status, but why would they? If you are already going to end up fighting grown men and paid prize fighters in the biggest stage that an amateur can achieve, why not just become a pro as early as possible, get paid yourself. An amateur trying to make an Olympic team goes through a very intense and grueling process to just qualify for an Olympic games. It only comes around every four years, and within those four years, you are traveling, training and for most of these youngsters, still going to school. If you could sign with a promoter, make money fighting and still be able to be able to fight in an “amateur” styled tournament, why stay in a dorm room with other amateurs?
What happens to the great amateur programs of the world, namely the Cubans and Russians? We see so many great professional Cuban and Ex-Soviet country fighters right now, and the main reason why they are so dominant is because they are from Socialist countries, that have extremely disciplined amateur programs. They are paid, not always handsomely, and are only allowed to fight in amateur style tournaments. This, in most people’s opinions, engrains the trades of the sport into them so well, they become second nature. If a fighters has 300+ amateur fights, then they know when to jab and when to duck. It becomes like breathing, it is instilled. They biggest highlight for these men, especially the Cubans, who are technically never allowed to turn pro (unless they defect from their native country) is winning an Olympic Gold, some even do it multiple times. If pro fighters can just get in there with the amateurs, what would happen to these dominant boxing countries?
Safety also has to be an issue. This year, AIBA has also decided to go back to the days of no head gear. This is an issue all in itself, and does seem to have some great benefits, but does it when we start putting 18yr old kids in the ring with say 30+ year old men, some who are current or former world champions. Watching fighters like Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, or Artur Beterbiev knockout other professionals in 1 round is one thing, but how does that play out when they put that kind of power on a novice? Many amateurs seem to have no problem with this happening, but we suspect that as bravado. You cannot expect an amateur, who may have sparred with pros in the past, to be able to take that type of power. Sparring with headgear is one thing, a real fight is completely different.
What does AIBA look to get out of this? Is it higher ratings, since Boxing may be on the docket to drop as an Olympic sport in the future? Do they want bigger Knockouts? Most amateur fights go to decisions and work on a point system, does getting rid of Headgear and adding professionals increase viewership and knockdowns? Do they want Stars now, instead of building them up like it used to with Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali, Oscar De la Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Vasyl Lomachenko, George Foreman, Guillermo Rigondeaux, and the list can go on and on.
Some boxers have showed interest in actually participating in this. Manny Pacquiao has said he would see how it would balance with his new Senatorial duties. Amir Khan has shown interest in participating for his parent’s homeland of Pakistan. Light Heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev looks to be making his way to Rio. Other boxers have spoken out about it, speaking about its safety issues. The World Boxing Council has even put out a warning, that any professional boxers who do decide to participate in the Olympics will be banned from their rankings for two years. It is a debate that is going on right now, and both sides are making good points to their arguments. Should professionals be allowed to compete in the Olympics, they do in Golf, Basketball, Tennis, Hockey….but those guys aren’t getting punched by fully developed, trained, fighters.