Prospect Watch: Bantamweight, Super Bantamweight, and Featherweight
By: Oliver McManus
With boxing on hold for the foreseeable future, at least in the form we know it, Boxing Insider is taking a look at top prospects to keep an eye on when the sport returns. The five names below cover bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight: they all, naturally, have different ceilings to their ability but, most importantly, they all pack some entertaining punch!
As with last week we will start proceedings with a sumptuous Uzbek talent. Shakhobidin Zoirov is another pearl from the far-flung country with Gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2019 World Championships in Yekaterinburg. Both those triumphs came at 52kg and southpaw now competes in the slightly heavier bantamweight division (53.5kg). Having debuted in April last year, Zoirov made light work of Anthony Holt (5-4-1): a slam-dunk straight left hand inside of 20 seconds and that was that. Since then he’s moved to 3-0 in equally breezy fashion.
Elie Konki, as it stands, is one of the more advanced fighters on this list, to date, having captured the EBU-EU bantamweight title in December. The Frenchman, a Rio 2016 competitor, first caught my attention with a real nip-and-tuck encounter against Benedikt Croze for the French bantamweight title in 2018. In that fight he was forced to work under pressure but looked comfortable on the back-foot and dug deep to grind the win. Since then the 28 year old defended his title, with relative comfort, on three occasions and hand Sebastian Perez (12-0-1 at the time) his first loss to claim the EU strap.
Comparisons between Dennis McCann and Naseem Hamed are as frequent as rainfall in Quibdo, Colombia (the world’s rainiest city, in case you didn’t work it out). There are undeniable similarities and the influence is clear: whilst McCann has some polishing work to do you wouldn’t expect anything less from a 19 year old prodigy. Guided by Frank Warren, you can be assured that he’ll take the right steps at the right time and he’s already tested the durability of four of his six opponents. Despite facing journeymen, again to be expected, he does so in an eye catching manner that ensures they leave the ring wondering just what they’d been up against.
Another southpaw making the list is 21 year old Raymond Ford who has looked every bit as ‘Savage’ as his nickname would suggest. A 2018 U.S Golden Gloves champion there was significant clamour for his signature on a promotional contract and it was Eddie Hearn who secured it. Part of a new dawn with Matchroom USA the, once, Olympic contender has really settled in the paid ranks with five wins inside nine months of his pro debut. That included a four round pasting of, noticeably teak tough, Aleksandrs Birkenbergs and two well worked stoppages in Phoenix and Providence. Don’t sleep on him because Raymond Ford looks cut out for the very top.
Musashi Mori is yet another young fighter coming out of Japan that looks like a superstar in the making. One bonus, you could say, of boxing in Japan is that, almost certainly, by the time you’re ready to burst onto the world scene you remain very much a hidden gem. Mori is one such name having already worked his way up the WBO rankings by way of their Asia-Pacific featherweight belt. At 20 years of age and 11-0 since his debut in December 2016 the southpaw is consistently maturing in the ring. The word coming out of Japan, at the start of the year anyway, was that he would contest a bona-fide world title in 2020 and, whilst that may well be on hold, the ambition certainly isn’t.
Prospect Watch: Super Featherweight, Lightweight, and Super Lightweight
By: Oliver McManus
As boxing returns to our screens gradually it seems appropriate to highlight a handful of fighters from across the weight classes worth keeping an eye on. The four names below cover super featherweight, lightweight and super lightweight: they all, naturally, have different ceilings to their ability but they are fighters we believe will provide plenty of much-needed entertainment.
Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov is already an established name at 130lbs having been a professional since December 2015. The talented Tajik fighter was pushed early on his career into regional belts but has blossomed in earnest over the past two years. Since being based in Ekaterinburg, Russia, the diminutive figure has racked up a series of impressive wins in defence of his WBC International title. As a combative southpaw Yaqubov frequently pops up with the jab to draw a counter before rolling under his opponent’s punch: a very fan friendly style of fighting.
From Russia, albeit via Tajikistan, with love to the streets of Toledo, Ohio. Otha Jones III is on a mission, alongside close friend Charles Conwell, to better his beloved city. Formerly a distinguished wrestler, Jones turned professional with Matchroom USA possessing a record of 283-13 and 21 national championships: all before the age of 19. Five pro fights in his first year saw Jones box in Verona, Bethnal Green, Providence, Chicago and Miami. Trained in-house by his father (Otha II) and brother (Roshawn) his success really is a family affair. Highlight of his career so far must be a brutal beatdown of Michael Horabin, dropping him twice, before the fight was called off inside two minutes.
Back to Europe and Artem Harutyunyan is busy making a name for himself at super lightweight. Having picked up Germany’s only boxing medal at Rio 2016, Harutyunyan turned professional after missing out on a medal when Germany hosted the World Championships in 2017. Since then he has been kept busy, often alongside his brother Robert, but has proven his pedigree in edging his nose ahead. The Original showcased his skills impressively in July to stop Miguel Cesario Antin in the fifth round when, in truth, Antin took a pasting from almost from the off.
Eight years younger than Harutyunyan is Danish southpaw Oliver Meng. Born in Gedser, a small town with a population of less than 1,000, Meng is as frosty cool in the ring as his surroundings. Boxing out of the Danish Fight Night stable, headed up by Brian Nielsen, the 21 year old is in good company as he looks to bring big time boxing back to the Nordic region. An IBF youth champion since January 2019, Meng dispatched of a wobbly Maono Ally with some flamboyance. The confident used his loose limbs to pepper Ally across the ring and worked the body well.
Peter Dobson is Building Himself into a Champion
By: Hans Themistode
Sell dugs or become a pro athlete? Those are typically the choices for a young kid growing up in the Bronx section of New York. This is particularly true if you are a young man of color.
For professional boxer Peter Dobson, he has heard this narrative his entire life.
“When I was coming up I actually wanted to be a drug dealer,” said Dobson. “I used to think that was the coolest thing ever. A lot of older people used to tell me negative things all the time so I always kind of thought that I’m either going to have to make it as an athlete or I would end up being a drug dealer.”
Photo Credit: Henry Deleon
To Dobson’s credit, he made the right choice. As a professional fighter he has managed to amass a record of 11 wins with 7 of them coming via stoppage in the welterweight division. It seems like his master plan is coming all together doesn’t it? Well, not exactly. Boxing was never supposed to be apart of his future. Instead of dominating foes in the ring, he dreamed of doing destroying his competition on the basketball court.
“I used to play basketball a lot. I played AAU ball for the New York Gauchos. Before boxing that was really my first love.”
For those who are unfamiliar with the New York Gauchos, they should do their research. Only the best of the best in the New York area have played for this team including former NBA players Stephon Marbury, Mark Jackson, Rod Strickland and countless others. Dobson, like many other troubled youth in this area, may have been talented enough to see his dreams come true but didn’t place enough emphasis on the work that needed to be done in the classroom.
“In school I would fail most of my classes so I wasn’t able to stay on the team. I would also get into a lot of fights. Once I wasn’t able to stay on the team it just got worse for me. I used to either slap someone or get into a fight every other day.”
Being a product of your environment seems like the appropriate diagnostic for Dobson. When you delve into his story however, it actually goes deeper than that. He wasn’t just emulating what he had grown accustomed to seeing in his neighborhood, but his behavior was actually engrained in his very DNA.
“My dad was pretty well known in the Bronx. He passed away when I was only a week old but people would always tell me about how he really struck fear in a lot of people. Plenty of guys started telling me that we have the same personality. For me, I didn’t really want to take that as a compliment because I knew exactly where that would lead me.”
A change in his personality is what Dobson wanted and it is exactly what he accomplished. He was still a young kid with a lot of anger and with no basketball to channel that anger, Dobson turned his sights towards the boxing ring.
“I first got into boxing when I was 16 years old. My aunt had a gym by her house so me and my cousin decided to start going to the gym. A whole bunch of my friends started with me but they all quit and I’m the only one who kept going. I really enjoyed it until the gym that I normally went to closed down. From there I wasn’t sure what to do. There were a few gyms that weren’t too far but a lot of them were dirty and I just didn’t like the vibe that I was getting in there.”
For a boxer, a gym is almost an extension of his home. Finding the best gym that he could took a bit of time. It seemed as though Dobson would have to settle for a raggedy gym but instead, he found one that was perfectly suited for him.
Hard-Work-Work is the phrase associated with South Box, a gym which is ran by former amateur standout boxer Eric Kelly and located at 2413, Third Avenue in the Bronx. What does it mean exactly? That’s simple.
Photo Credit: Henry Deleon
Hard work works and will yield desired results. If you aren’t ready to work hard then this isn’t the gym for you.
The slogan was a mirror image of how Dobson viewed himself. He was ready to put in all of the work necessary to achieve his goals.
“It’s been a bit of a blessing that my old gym closed down because South Box has been great to me. Just the atmosphere and work I’m able to get down there is perfect for me. I love it in there but what makes the gym even better for me is Eric Kelly. It’s defiently the hottest gym in the Bronx.”
The relationship Dobson has developed with Kelly has turned into something that goes far beyond just boxing.
“I’m usually a loner at heart but with Kelly he’s been my guy since day one. As soon as I met him it felt like we knew each other for a while, he was just a real cool guy. He shows me a lot of love. He’s almost like a big brother to me.”
With his new home at South Box, Dobson has had himself a great start to his boxing career. As an amateur he won the Golden Gloves tournament and a slew of other competitions along the way. His professional career is off to a spotless start after 11 pro fights as well.
It might seem early, but Dobson wants his crack at a title soon. Many of you may look at his record and decide that he is a bit too inexperienced to jump in the ring with the best at the Welterweight Division but Dobson would disagree with you.
“I want to be a world champion after a few more fights. Maybe four or five. I know that I can compete with anyone right now. Everyone has always told me that I have the talent but my problem has always been my conditioning. I’ve worked really hard at that flaw and I believe that my conditioning is at an elite level now. I know the Welterweight division is possibly the best in boxing but I want to show that I belong. I’ve sparred Jaron Ennis, Erickson Lubin and a bunch of other top notch guys and I’ve held may own. People don’t realize that I have more experience than what my record says. I’ve gotten the chance to train at the TMT gym in Vegas and at Freddie Roach’s gym also so I’ve been everywhere. All I need is an opportunity.”
Dobson fully understands that he will have to continue to work hard for his chance to show what he can do on the big stage. If it was up to him however, he would love to jump in the ring against one big name fighter in particular right now.
“I want to fight Adrien Broner. That’s who I want the most. We sparred at Mayweather’s gym a few years ago and everybody saw that I was doing well. It was some really good sparring but what got me upset is that he put up clips on instagram of him hitting me and didn’t show any of the work that I was doing. He made it seem like he was just beating me up in the gym so yeah Adrien is number one on my list.”
Many young fighters wouldn’t call out a four division world champion in Adrien Broner, but the confidence that Dobson has in himself will never waver. He has been like this his entire life.
What exactly motivates and pushes him to attempt to be great? Fear and joy.
“Every time I go into the ring I’m scared but it just makes me fight harder. The fear that I have keeps me motivated but so does my son Eli. Before I had him I didn’t think I could get any more motivated but once he was born my desire to be great and my motivation has gone through the roof.”
It isn’t just his baby being born that keeps Dobson motivated. Even after so many years, he still remembers every bad word that everyone had to say about him when he was growing up. Proving the doubters wrong who believed that he wouldn’t amount to anything has pushed Dobson, but it has also shown him what he wants to do for the next generation.
“A lot of people told me that I wouldn’t amount to anything. I didn’t really have anybody to point me in a different direction. I want to be that person to show the younger generation the right path. Becoming a world champion and making a lot of money is important to me but so is inspiring the youth and showing them that they can do whatever that they want to do in life.”
Keep An Eye On 17 Year Old Vito Mielnicki Jr
By: Hans Themistode
The sport of boxing is always in search for its next big star. This past Saturday night on July 13th, at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, it may have found exactly who it was looking for.
Vito Mielnicki Jr. stole the show on the same card that featured another rising star in the making in Shakur Stevenson. Mielnicki made a sensational pro debut as he scored a jaw dropping first round knockout against Tamarcus Smith.
Smith, admittingly enough, has only two wins in his career with three losses. So why exactly is the sports world buzzing from what Mielnicki did on Saturday night? With his win, he became the youngest professional boxer in the sport of New Jersey, at just 17 years of age.
It wasn’t just that he scored a knockout win, but it was how he pulled it off. It was a right hand that was the last punch of a three hit combination that had his man down and out.
The 17 year old nicknamed, “White Magic” showed exactly why there has been so much hype surrounding him. As for his emotions after the contest, he was ecstatic about the win.
“It was exactly how I envisioned it. With the crowd and everything, it made it a lot more electric,” recalled Mielnicki. “I worked for this my whole life, and I knew everything was going to payoff tonight.”
For those who are wondering why isn’t this young kid at home doing homework and studying. It’s because he is currently on Summer vacation. It’s safe to say he’s enjoying every bit of it.
“I go back to school in September. I will consult with my manager Anthony Catanzaro and see what the best fit is for me in terms of a promoter and platform.”
With a performance like that, he is sure to have a line a mile long, as potential promoters will be clamoring to get their hands on him. Calling him a star might be a tad too early, but he just might end up being something special.
John Bauza is Confident He is the Next Boxing Star to Come Out of Puerto Rico
By: Bryant Romero
Talented young prospect John Bauza is very confident he is the next exciting young fighter to come out of Puerto Rico. With the recent retirement of Miguel Cotto, the island is searching for the next big talent that has the potential to become a star in the U.S. with the ability to fill out arenas in the east coast during the most important days of Puerto Rican boxing, which is during the Puerto Rican day Parade festivities every June. There is now only 1 current world champion from the Island, but John Bauza (9-0, 5 KOs) disagrees with the concern the boxing fans have with the current state of Puerto Rican boxing.
“There’s a lot talent coming out of Puerto Rico, but some of them (fighters) still have that old style,” Bauza said.
Photo Credit: John Bauza Twitter Account
“Everyday boxing change and a lot of Puerto Ricans still have the old style. There are a lot of good fighters and there are still a lot of them that still have that old school style.
“But I’m one of the best prospects to come out of Puerto Rico,” he told me.
The 20-year-old from Puerto Rico who now resides in North Bergen, New Jersey, always knew since he was a child that he would become a professional prize fighter.
“I always wanted to do it. I wanted to turn professional since I was 15,” Bauza said. “But here in the United States you can’t be a professional until you’re 18, but I was ready to go since I was 15, 16 already,” he told me.
John was first influenced to box by his father Juan Bauza who himself was an amateur boxer during his younger days. John would go on to have a successful amateur career, winning many accolades and becoming the No.1 ranked amateur boxer at 141 pounds in the United States.
Now that he’s two years into his professional career, I asked how would he describe his boxing style to the fans that have yet to see him and what has been the biggest difference between the amateurs and the professionals?
“My style comes from a bunch of different fighters. I like Roy Jones, I like Mayweather. I have a style that’s mixed from a bunch of different boxers.
“The biggest difference is that in the amateurs I used to fight more aggressive and throw more punches because that’s the amateur style,” Bauza explained. “But when you go pro, you have to be more patient and have a more relaxed fight because there are more rounds.”
Bauza is currently signed to Roc Nation sports as he returns to the ring this Friday at the Birchwood Manor in Whippany, New Jersey where he will take on Hugo Padilla (5-13, 2 KOs) of Mexico. John is a fighter that likes to study his opponents and he’s very well aware of what Padilla will bring to the table come fight night.
“I’m looking to box him because he’s a fighter that comes forward all the time and he also a tough fighter,” Bauza said.
“He’s not a fighter you’re going to hit and he loses focus. The Mexicans they come to fight, they go to war, so I’m looking to just box him because I know he just comes forward and he just wanna fight.
“So I’m just going to box him. If I can get the knockout, I get the knockout, but I’m just looking to win and outbox him,” he said.
If all goes well this Friday in Whippany, Bauza sees himself knocking on the championship door much sooner rather than later and he also has the ambition to not only become a world champion, but to pick up straps in multiple divisions.
“I see myself as champion in maybe a year or year in a half,” he said. “My manager tells me that I have to learn a couple of more things. Be more patient, I just turned 20 in April and he just told me to wait a little more so I can get more experience.
“I’m looking to be a champion in maybe 4 or 5 divisions,” Bauza said.
You can contact and follow Bryant Romero on Twitter @BoxingTruth88
Frank Warren’s Under the Radar Prospects
By: Oliver McManus
Hall of Fame boxing promoter Frank Warren inked a new 5 year deal with broadcaster BT Sport this week, bringing the likes of Tyson Fury, Billy Joe Saunders and Terry Flanagan to an audience in excess of 7million viewers and to celebrate the agreement, with 5 being the magic number, we take a look at five of the best under-the-radar fighters under the tutelage of Mr Frank Warren.
Josh Leather – Super Lightweight
We’ll start off with the first of two Leather brothers making their mark on the British boxing scene and Josh Leather, at 13-0, has already made sizeable waves boxing out of Imran Naeem’s gym up in Stockton.
A prodigious amateur talent, Josh made the move into the paid ranks back in 2013 with the backing of Warren from the beginning – quickly repaying the promoter’s faith with a full arsenal of attacking grit and flashy punches.
Last year proved to be the making of the Guisborough-born sharp-shooter as a sixth round TKO against Philip Sutcliffe Jnr on the undercard of Josh Warrington – Kiko Martinez, earned him the IBF Inter-Continental title and wide plaudits from those within the game.
The attention of the wider public would come in Newcastle, in November, with a ferocious battle against Glenn Foot that could easily have won Fight of the Year, whilst the scorecards were questioned by some, Leather showed heart to get back up from a rocking shot in the 2nd before rallying with relentless pressure in the final quarter to earn him the points victory.
2018 will prove to be a big year for Leather as boxing looks to make a big bang up North and Josh will certainly be part of the revival – a rematch with Foot is on the cards but, regardless, he’ll be in cracking fights all over the place.
Tamuka Mucha – Welterweight
A new signing for 2018, it will be interesting to see what route Frank Warren and Tamuka Mucha go down after a scheduled fight with John O’Donnell was beset with injuries and postponed no less than three occasions.
With 17 fights under his belt – 16 victories – since turning pro in 2012, Mucha is certainly at the point in his career where he’s capable of a step-up, the Zimbabwe-born, Berkshire-resident, has already proven himself at a domestic level by knocking out Erick Ochieng in the 6th round – not an easy feat – before outpointing Tommy Tear (11-0) 99-93 in February 2016 to cement his reputation as one to watch.
Since then Mucha has stayed active and kept on improving – particularly with a nice victory over Paddy Gallagher towards the back-end of ’16 – but 2017 proved to be a frustrating period in Mucha’s boxing career.
A narrow points loss (57-56) to Serge Ambomo who, now, comes with the “can bang” warning label set him back a step before the tumultuous nature of THAT clash against John O’Donnell left Mucha in limbo.
This year will be about shaking off those cobwebs, getting back in the ring and doing what he does best – THROW BOMBS!
Harvey Horn – Flyweight
Harvey Horn brings into the professional game a quite prestigious amateur career, despite still being just 22!
The former World Series of Boxing representative, Horn hails a strong fan-base with a 300-strong army attending his first home WSB bout, with standout honours including the U22 European Championship and a WSB victory over Nico Hernandez (2016 Rio Bronze medallist).
A technical fighter who thrives on taking his opponents past their comfort zones and into the later rounds, Horn pulled off two victories in as many months between December and February by beating Denis and Patrik Bartos (no relation).
5ft2 and a southpaw, the flyweight holds all the aces when it comes to style with the young London fighter having advanced significantly under the guidance of Mark Tibbs; what has proven to be most appealing on the eye, perhaps, is his fighting stance.
Sounds a weird thing to notice but it’s always nice to see a youngster take to the centre of the ring and execute their own game-plan to perfection – I remember watching an amateur bout of his against Serge Neumann a couple years ago on YouTube and being impressed with his constant work-rate and willingness to step back for a second before landing the punch, instead of rushing.
2 and 0 as a pro, Horn has the poisoned chalice of being an imperious European talent in one of the lighter weight classes, meaning match-making will always be a nightmare, but what a fighter!
Joe Maphosa – Flyweight
Another one of those tricky flyweights is Joe Maphosa, slightly taller than Horn at 5ft4, who has maintained an exquisitely regular profile in the boxing ring with six professional fights since his debut in May 2017.
Snapped up by Warren straightaway, Maphosa has kept busy by boxing on various undercards, and has continually built up experience with four consecutive points victories – 16 rounds of vital learning for the 24 year old – with the flyweight having not lost a single round.
Again, a GB amateur squad member and WSB fighter, Maphosa has the requisite amateur experience to warrant an expedited journey up the pro ranks and the determination to reach the top is far from lacking.
Indeed the star is capable of fighting at fly and super-fly, with a delightful patience ensuring he’d be a challenge to all who enter the ring with him – a strong front foot, followed up by combinations of hooks to the body seem to be his trademark move and it was nice to see Joe turn up the heat in the fourth round of his last bout and secure the stoppage.
I think it’s safe to say Smokin Joe is on track to catch fire any time soon…
Jordan Thompson – Cruiserweight
Transitioning from the tennis court to the boxing ring certainly doesn’t sound easy but it’s a switch Jordan ‘Troublesome’ Thompson has made with relative ease – when aged 16, Thompson was in the Top 10 of British tennis but has said he “wasn’t accepted”. Well tennis’ loss is boxing’s gain, so I’m not complaining!
Eight years later, the muscular physique of Thompson has seen him home with an unbeaten ledger of eight victories and six knockouts.
The early stages of his professional career saw him drop all of his first three opponents before further punishment would see the referee wave off the contests – a troublesome right hand was earning a reputation to be feared.
Three fights in 2017 saw Thompson scheduled for 10 rounds before stopping Michael Pareo in the first round – it was a scintillating performance from the Manchester-man that saw him drop his Belgian counterpart on three occasions and showcase his power to full effect.
Mild mannered, Thompson always comes across as relaxed and calm when out of the ring and often looks relaxed in it too – tougher challenges will surely come in 2018 for the cruiser prospect but you’d back him to deal with them in his stride, as well.
And there we are with our top five boxers to keep an eye on from Frank Warren’s stable and with that five year BT Sport deal, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to keep an eye out on these guys as they make their journey to the top!
Mykal Fox Turns Losing Amateur Record into a 16-0 as a Pro
By: Ken Hissner
In covering a Marshall Kauffman King’s Promotions show Friday night at the Bethlehem Sands Event Center I met Mykal Fox and unbeaten 6:03½ Super Lightweight with a 16-0 (4), record who will be the Main Event May 11th at the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia. King’s Promotions will promote this while in another part of Philadelphia the Boxing Director Greg Sirb did it again! Greg Cohen Promotions and Hard Hitting Promotions will be at the 2300 Arena in South Philly via Showtime with David Haney against Mason Menard in the Main Event. Sirb approved of two shows December 1st at the same two facilities. That was a “writer’s nightmare” because you get one of the promoters upset if you don’t go to their show.
Getting back to Fox he told me “I was 40-60 in the amateurs”. I asked if he meant 40-6? He repeated 40-60. “I wasn’t that dedicated,” he said. No kidding! But, what a turn around. He has another brother that also boxes.
“My dad Troy is my trainer. My brother Alantez (“Sly Aza, 23-1-1 (11), middleweight). Reggie Brown is my cut man,” said Fox. I knew about his brother who has had a good career so far. He lost for the first time in his last fight to Demitrius Andrade, 24-0, in November of 2017, but had him down in the 7th round.
“My brother always was my biggest supporter and my best training partner. We push each other regularly,” said Fox. His brother is 26 while the younger brother is 22. Mykal turned pro in April of 2014 while his older brother turned pro July of 2010. It wasn’t until July 18th in 2015 that they fought on the same show with his brother scoring a 1st round KO and Mykal winning a 6 round decision. It’s been the only time on the same card.
I asked him about some of his tougher opponents.
“Claudinei Lucerda, 16-13-1, who actually fought at 154 and dropped to 140 but his punching power came with him. In the first round he hit me with some hard body shots. Tre’Sean Wiggins, 7-2, was another power puncher but he also had very quick hands.
Alejandro Reyes, 11-3-1, was another. I went up a weight class to face him. He was an aggressive action fighter true to Mexican style. Ricardo Garcia, 14-1, was an awkward fighter and I know I lost the first two rounds against him,” said Fox.
In Fox’s first three years he fought a total of four fights each year. In 2017 he only had three fights. He has one fight this year and the other on May 11th scheduled. Kauffman will keep him busy. On his November 21st fight he won the vacant Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) All America Welterweight title though only weighing 143 which has been his highest weight so far when he defeated Manuel Alejandro Reyes.
Fox will have a tough opponent in his May bout in Anthony Mercado, 11-3 (10), from Arecibo, PR. He won his first 7 fight by KO and followed with three more wins. Then dropped two bouts before winning his most recent one in March when his opponent Tyrone Crawly, Jr., 7-0, hurt his hand and couldn’t come out after 3 rounds.
Fox’s first 10 fights were in Ft. Washington or Washington, MD. On June 28th of 2016 he finally fought out of MD at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center winning all six rounds over Jose M. Valderrama, 5-13. He returned to this facility in November defeated Reyes over 10 rounds and in February defeating Garcia over 8 rounds.
In Fox’s debut he defeated David Ruiz who was also in his debut. In his 5th fight he was in his first 6 rounder defeating Luis Rodriguez, 3-1. He has also defeated Juan Carlos Castillo, 4-2, Adam Mate, 18-6, Sommer Martin, 5-2, Juan Rodriguez, 6-5-1, and Daniel Sostre, 13-12-1, among those opponents with winning records.
It looks like the younger Fox has a bright future though not a real good puncher. But, with that height advantage he should be able to out box his opponents. Mercado will be a good test on May 11th at the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia.
Philly’s Avery Sparrow is a Return to Old Philly Boxing
By: Ken Hissner
Philly’s Avery Sparrow puts all his trust in his promoter IBHOF promoter/matchmaker J Russell Peltz. He is currently No. 14 in the WBO ratings due to a victory over previous No. 5 Jose Lopez.
This is what Peltz had to say about his fighter when he was introduced first while fighting an opponent from Nogales, Mexico on the first pro show at Parx Casino in Bensalem, PA, on March 9th.
“When I mentioned this to Brittany Rogers who coordinated the smoothly run show, she remarked “since when did J Russell Peltz care about such things as who enters the ring first?” Never once did Sparrow mention it to me later that shows he has bought into the Peltz Boxing system for which we need a name. You’ve heard of the West Coast offense in football and the Triangle in basketball, but we need a name for the Peltz Boxing system. Something like, as Michelle Rosado coined last week: “If you want a tune-up, go to Midas!”
Avery Sparrow never said one word about being introduced first. He never moaned that he was making substantially less money for March 9th than he made for November 30th when he upset Jose Lopez, the No. 5 ranked WBO junior lightweight contender in the world, on ESPN. He never argued that Jesus Serrano, 17-4-2, was not exactly “a walk in the park type of opponent”. He never threatened to pull out when he was 8 pounds over the contract weight 48 hours before the weigh-in. He simply went out there and destroyed a credible opponent in less than 2 rounds to secure his rating with the WBO and hopefully open the eyes of the other ranking organizations.
I cannot sit here and tell you that Avery Marcus Sparrow will win the world title but I can tell you that after 49 years in this sometimes wonderful, sometimes rancid business of professional boxing, I am grateful that he believes in me as much as I believe in him. I’m not going to worry if, when the money comes in, that some moron on the street will fill his head with negative thoughts about me. That’s part of the business, but as I head to the top of the stretch of my career, I am enjoying the ride.
Sparrow is 10-1 (4) and turned 24 in January. He turned professional in July of 2014 winning his first 4 fight, 2 by stoppage, before losing for the only time in his career so far by DQ in the 6th and final round to Jerome Rodriguez, 6-3-3, in October of 2015. He came back in March of 2016 to score a first round knockout in Dubai Night Life in Charlotte, NC.
Sparrow didn’t fight again until March of 2017 when he was pitted against one time Philly prospect Anthony Burgin, 10-2, when he won an 8 round split decision. In June he was up in The Sands in Bethlehem, PA, defeating Isaelin Florian, 6-0, of the DR and Reading, PA. In September he was put in with another 6-0 boxer named Joey Laviolette from Nova Scotia, Canada who he defeated by majority decision in 8 rounds. Two months later he defeated Lopez, who was 19-1-1 (14), at the MGM National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, MD. This put him into the WBO Super Featherweight ratings.
In December of 2015 Peltz took Camden’s Jason Sosa who was 18-1-3, on a trip to a world championship. Sosa only had one 10 round bout prior to this. Sosa was pitted with Nicholas Walters the WBA World Super Featherweight champion who Sosa drew with in a non-title bout. In his next fight in June of 2016 Sosa defeated Javier Fortuna in Beijing, China, for the world title that Walters had given up.
Will Peltz lead Avery Sparrow to a world super featherweight title the same way? Only time will tell!
From Worcester to the World: The Kendrick Ball Story
From Worcester to the World: The Kendrick Ball Story
By: Ben Sutherland
It’s the February 4th, 2017. Kendrick Ball Jr swaggers to the ring. Awaiting him is Massachusetts prospect, Patrick Leal. The opening bell goes and Ball advances straight towards him, immediately catching him with a jab. Leal starts backing up, desperately swerving Ball’s bombardment of punches. It isn’t long before Ball catches him with a body shot. Leal drops to the canvas, clearly in some discomfort. After just 27 seconds of round 1, the referee stops the fight.
The demolition that just occurred makes it clear to everyone in the room that Kendrick Ball Jr can go all the way.
Ball turned pro last year, signing with promoter Jimmy Burchfield and Classic Entertainment Sports. Ever since he watched his friend and fellow pro boxer, Khiary Gray, sign with CES and have great success, he knew that it was the promotional company for him. Despite signing with Burchfield and CES, he is still desperate to prove he is worth the investment, “I want to work harder and show CES that I have more to bring to the table than they have seen in my 3 fights so far” says Ball.
Since turning pro, he has moved quickly through his first 9 fights and remains undefeated with 7 wins, 5 of which came by way of knockout. Most recently, Ball won a unanimous decision against Godson Noel on the 9th of June at the Twin River Events Center. “That was my biggest accomplishment so far as a pro” said the 24 year old. “My other tough fights I had against undefeated guys were draws” he says, “beating a guy who was 6-0 was a great feeling”.
Kendrick Ball Sr was always wanted his son, Kendrick Ball Jr, to get into boxing and so started him early. He began by working him out on the mitts around their house. Soon enough a young Kendrick Ball Jr was sparring at the local Worcester boys and girls club.
Ball’s amateur career got off to a slow start, losing his first nine fights. It was perhaps hard to see the unbeaten professional fighter that would eventually be sculpted out. Clearly, Ball needed to significantly increase how much he was training. Some additional conditioning was all that was required to reveal Ball’s underlying talent and he went from strength to strength during the last two years of his amateur career. He quickly became one of the most promising amateurs in New England, winning the Rocky Marciano tournament as well as New England’s and Western Mass Golden Gloves. A narrow defeat to the Olympic alternate was evidence enough that Ball had strong prospects in the professional ranks.
Kendrick Ball Jr is newly emerged onto the pro scene, but he’s here to stay. For now, he is just focused on improving “I’m a hard working fighter that just wants to get better” he says modestly. But sooner or later, if you carry on improving and improving, you find yourself at the top. Ball is very open about his goals, “my ultimate goal is to work my way up and grab a world title while I’m there” he says.
A graduate of Worcester Technical High School, Ball knows how much the next generation matters. The allure of the money and fame that comes with the fight game is appealing but, Ball recognizes the importance of giving back saying “I just want to be a role model for the upcoming fighters and kids”.
Kendrick Ball Jr hasn’t been pro for very long, but he has already made a significant impact. He’s has a great training set up and is being managed by one of the best promotional teams in the United States. He’s fast, he’s flashy, he’s powerful, he’s marketable, he oozes potential and he is just getting started.
Ball’s next fight is penciled in for September 16th this year with the opponent currently being unknown.
The boxing fans of Worcester surely can’t help but ponder the potential stardom of Ball. He is has world champion written all over him and undoubtedly one day he can bring a world championship strap back to his hometown.
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.
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