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Angel Alejandro: Boxing’s Versace


By: Sean Crose

It’s late at night in New York City, around two am. A product of the mean streets of the Big Apple, one who has risen above and beyond the pitfalls of youth, is hard at work. A long married father of two, the professional toils away at his craft, knowing full well that timeliness is imperative. Indeed, he pushes along until the sun comes up. Then he races to send his work off, post haste. The man’s name is Angel Alejandro, and he has just designed and delivered a pair of custom made boxing trunks that will appear in the highly successful and acclaimed movie, Creed.

Now fifty, Alejandro is the most unique of boxing’s success stories. A troubled youth, he found salvation in the gym. He might not have reached Olympian heights in the ring, but his love of the sweet science, combined with a unique fashion sense, have proven to have paid off handsomely. “I was in and out of trouble as a kid,” says Alejandro. Boxing, though, proved his salvation. The sport, however, isn’t generally the most lucrative endeavor. Moving on from a fighter to the owner of a local gym was no easy task.

“Gyms don’t pay the bills,” he says frankly. Yet the New Yorker also adds that he’s “always been business minded.” On top of that, Alejandro says he was “always into designing.” Hence, an idea occurred. “Six years ago, seven years ago maybe,” Alejandro started making outfits for fighters. “All of the sudden,” Alejandro explains, “it became a business.” Needless to say, business is booming right now. “I can’t take any more orders until the end of June,” he tells me during our conversation in early May.

A quick note about Alejandro – he’s an exceedingly interesting guy to talk to. A classic New Yorker, the man can tell enough interesting true life anecdotes to fill a book, much less an article, making it difficult for a fight writer to know which stories to employ. There’s his recent experience, for instance, of making a custom made suit for Native American Kali Reis, in which he enlisted the services of the premiere Native American designer in the country. He ended up using authentic fabric from Reis’ tribe. “We got online and stared calling Native American dressmakers,” he says.

Then, of course, there’s the story behind Alejandro’s Roberto Clemente jacket, which was made exclusively for Cindy Serrano (“You open up the sleeves and the gloves come out”) Then there’s the work he’s done for Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller. And Heather “The Heat” Hardy. And Hank Lundy. Perhaps the most interesting of the stories Alejandro has to recall, however, is the one involving “King” Gabe Rosado.

“King Gabe Rosado got us into the Creed movie,” he says. ” I’m fighting Lemiuex,’” Alejandro recalls Rosado telling him. “’I want to do Apollo Creed because they’re thinking of doing the movie Creed.” Alejandro obliged, offering his own take on the red, white, and blue trunks made famous in the Rocky films. Rosado ended up acting in Creed…and he did at least some of it wearing trunks made by Alejandro’s company, Double A Boxing. Alejandro was floored. “Rocky made me want to get into boxing,” he recalls.

There was one strange condition for Alejandro before he fully went Hollywood, though – Rosado’s suit in the film couldn’t outshine the star’s. “I thought it was nice,” Alejandro recalls of his finished product that appeared onscreen, “but it’s not what we do.” Not that the man isn’t grateful for being a part of the Rocky universe. “That was unbelievable,” he says fondly.

Beneath Alejandro’s colorful conversationalist is a serious artist. One doesn’t achieve what the guy has without knowing one’s business. And Alejandro knows fashion as well as the next high end designer. He speaks expertly of things like varieties of fabric and leather and rhinestones and sequin the way a master painter speaks of things like oil, canvas, lighting, and watercolors. In short, the man is a master craftsman who wants his imagination to match his artistic ambition. “You’re always trying to outdo yourself,” he tells me. It’s the sort of thing a musician or a literary novelist might say.

Yet Alejandro is also a businessman, and as such knows how important it is to please the customer. Alejandro claims that timeliness is of extreme importance with fighters, that the clothing must be delivered before the week of the fight. Understanding that fighters tend to be good people, Alejandro notes that “a good fighter has to turn something on in himself to make him mean.”

That transition tends to come just before a match. The last thing a fighter needs at that time is to wonder where his or her trunks are. “They’ll get a box in the door the week before the fight,” he says. Overall, Alejandro wants to make the entire process as pleasurable as possible for his clients. “It’s like getting a custom suit somewhere,” he states. “We try to make it an experience,” he says, speaking of the fitting process. Such dedication to craft has earned Alejandro and his employees the title of “The boxing Vercases.”

Alejandro isn’t interested in leaving the past behind, however. He still operates his gym, not because it earns him a ton of money, but because he remembers what boxing did for him. “I remember what the gym did for me growing up,” he states. “I don’t know where I’d be,” without it. As for Double A Boxing, it’s had to move to a more accommodating location for clients, Harlem’s famous 125th Street.

“It’s shocking,” the designer says of his success. “When you love what you do, you do it well.”

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Anthony Crolla vs. Jorge Linares Lightweight Title Fight Preview


Anthony Crolla vs. Jorge Linares Lightweight Title Fight Preview
By: William Holmes

On Saturday night, Anthony “Million Dollar” Crolla will face Jorge “El Nino de Oro” Linares at the Manchester Arena live at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. This bout will be televised live on AWE, A Wealth of Entertainment, and will also be shown live on the internet at www.klowedtv.com.

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Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Boxing

This bout will be a unification bout in the lightweight division and will be for the WBA, WBC Diamond, and the vacant Ring Magazine Lightweight Championship.

The light heavyweight commonwealth title will be on the line on the undercard and will be between Callum Johnson and Willbeforce Shihepo. Additionally, Isaac Lowe will defend his commonwealth featherweight title against Tshifhiwa Munyai.

The following is a preview of the main event of the night.

Anthony Crolla (31-4-3) vs. Jorge Linares (40-3); WBA Lightweight Title

This is a matchup between the two top rated boxers in the lightweight division, a division that is quite frankly lacking in big time names.

Linares was once considered a future pound for pound star, but three losses by stoppage have since hurt his value. However, he’s still considered to be the best boxer by many in the lightweight division and is a three division champion.

Linares is thirty one years old and is two years older than Crolla. Linares will be giving up a half inch in height to Crolla, but has a two inch reach advantage. Linares has traveled the world to fight and has fought in locations such as Japan, Venezuela, Mexico, the United States, and England. Crolla has only fought once in the United States and has spent most of his career fighting in England.

Crolla will be fighting in front of a friendly crowd in Manchester, and this is a fact that does not escape Linares.

“I love fighting in my opponent’s back yard with all the noise that comes with it from their fans,” said Linares. “The supporters cannot get in the ring with their fighter, it’s just me and him.”

Linares won several tournaments as an amateur on the national level in Venezuela, but did not win any medals in any major international tournaments such as the world amateur championships or the Olympics. Crolla doesn’t have the amateur success of Linares, and he seems to recognize the technical prowess of Linares.

Crolla stated, “I rate Linares very highly, he’s technically brilliant. Everyone in the gym loves to watch him fight, and he’s the kind of fighter young kids should watch.” He went on further to state, “He likes to fight at his pace and I can’t allow that. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ve got to take advantage of some weaknesses that I think I’ve seen there. I’m confident I can do that.”

Linares’ one glaring weakness is his chin. He has three losses and they have all come by KO or TKO. His losses were to Sergio Thompson, Antonio DeMarco, and an upset of the year loss to Juan Carlos Salgado. He has notable victories over the likes of Kevin Mitchell, Nihito Arakawa, Francisco Contreras, and Rocky Juarez. However, Linares has won six fights in a row and four of his past five victories have come by way of stoppage.

Crolla has four losses on his record but only one knockout loss. His losses were to Gary Sykes (twice), Derry Matthews, and Youssef Al Hamidi. He holds victories over Ismael Barroso, Darleys Perez, John Murray, and Gavin Rees.

Crolla doesn’t have the stoppage power that Linares has. Linares has stopped twenty seven of his opponents while Crolla has only stopped thirteen. Both boxers have been very active recently. Crolla fought three times in 2014, twice in 2015, and once in 2016. Linares fought twice in 2015 and three times in 2014.

If Crolla was known for his power he’d have a good chance at pulling off the upset victory. However, he is not known for stopping his opponents and he will be in the ring with a very skilled, technical boxer. If Linares’ chin can hold up, he should win a wide decision victory. But he may want to go for the stoppage since he’s fighting in Crolla’s backyard.

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Potential Thurman-Garcia Bout Raises Interesting Questions


Potential Thurman-Garcia Bout Raises Interesting Questions
By: Sean Crose

Word is out – via RingTV.com – that Showtime honcho Stephen Espinoza is hoping that Danny Garcia will face Keith Thurman in a high end matchup early next year. Think of it as a welterweight unification of sorts…one that will eventually make its way around…. maybe. The truth is that there’s something frustrating about having to wait roughly six months for a fight that could realistically go down in around twelve weeks or so (though – in fairness – Thurman is said to have received damage from cuts recently – presumably from his bout with Shawn Porter). Fans can be accused of being over-eager, immature, or simply clueless as to the reality of things, but there’s no denying most anyone who follows boxing would like to see a Garcia-Thurman bout sooner rather than later.

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After all, these are two undefeated pros who may well be entering their primes, fighters who bring quality resumes and real excitement to their bouts. To be made to wait, only to find out the fight may never happen at all, is truly frustrating. It’s also indicative of why boxing isn’t as popular as it could be – never mind used to be. People simply like things in a timely manner. It’s not impatience. To the contrary, it’s the expectation of professionalism on behalf of promoters, managers, networks and fighters. The fact that the UFC now delivers major card after major card only serves to make boxing look less than functional in contrast.

Then again, perhaps it isn’t boxing that’s making the big mistake here. Take the UFCs two biggest stars of the past year. Ronda Rousey was said to be the toughest fighter on the planet. What’s more, there was the feeling that if one didn’t agree with that ridiculous assertion then one was somehow a chauvinist (talk about brilliant marketing!). Yet Rousey ended up getting beat in her 13th fight – not just badly, savagely – roughly three months after her previous bout.

Then, of course, there was Conor McGregor, the mouthy Irishman who bullied his way to an impressive record and much fame. Fellow UFC fighter Nate Diaz claimed McGregor was given special treatment by the organization, but no one wanted to listen – until, of course Diaz gave McGregor a real beatdown last March – roughly three months after McGregor’s previous bout. The point to all this? That perhaps the UFC does a better job with its own brand than it does with the brands of its individual fighters, which is something to think about.

Say what you will about guru Al Haymon, there’s little doubt he makes sure his top fighters are well paid. Just how much, one may wonder, did McGregor and Rousey really earn from fighting so frequently in the past twelve months? Probably nowhere near what boxing’s top fighter, Floyd Mayweather, made in the twelve months previous to those. Boxing fans are mad that they’re made to wait. Yet will either Rousey or McGregor ultimately have as successful career as Mayweather? Or Pacquiao? Or Thurman? Or Garcia?

It’s hard to tell, really. And that’s rather telling in and of itself.

Even though it’s frustrating not seeing fights like Thurman-Porter and GGG-Canelo arrive in a timely manner, none of those four guys risk ultimately becoming flashes in a very large pan. Still, couldn’t things speed up a little so long as a fighter’s individual health isn’t on the line? Boxing is largely a consumer based business, after all…and, generally speaking, the customer has some legitimate complaints right now.

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Canelo Giving Up WBC Belt


Canelo Giving Up WBC Belt
By: Sean Crose

That which many had feared has come true. Canelo Alvarez is giving up his WBC belt rather, presumably, than make a deal within the next few days to face Gennady Golovkin in a championship fight this fall. Although there were probably countless analysts out there predicting as much, there had been a glimmer of hope lately that a Canelo-GGG superbout would indeed soon be made for September. Negotiations between team Canelo and team GGG had begun, after all. Not only that, but there was a seriousness to the maneuvering that could be found in the lack of information sent out to the media. The hope, however, appears to have been short lived.

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Dan Rafael of ESPN reported that Alvarez “announced today that he has vacated the WBC middleweight title but still wants to fight GGG.” Needless to say, Rafael also reported that “GGG will become the WBC’s titleholder with his interim tag being removed.” Sure enough, both parties had until next week to come up with an agreement or the potential fight would have gone to purse bid, something Canelo’s team clearly didn’t want to have happen. Canelo is the most lucrative fighter in the world at the moment, and a purse bid would have possibly turned out less lucrative for he and his team.

Let’s face it, this is major news indeed. It’s rare that a fighter gives up a belt in the face of a potential fight. To be sure, Canelo wishes to save face. “I will fight ‘GGG,’ and I will beat ‘GGG,’” Canelo claimed in a statement, “but I will not be forced into the ring by artificial deadlines.” Whether or not this will help the Mexican slugger, who recently demolished Amir Khan, save face remains to be seen. Again, it’s not often that a fighter gives up a title under such circumstances. Riddick Bowe comes to mind – and that’s about it.

As for Golovkin, he is now the WBC world middleweight champion, as opposed to its interim champion. His team also is making it clear that they still want to fight Canelo. Indeed, there appears to be no bashing of Alvarez on the part of GGG’s promoter Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions. Clearly, team Golovkin still wants this fight to happen. And why not? It remains the biggest throwdown in the sport. As for Oscar De La Hoya, Canelo’s promoter, he’s clearly sticking by his man, stating Canelo “is eager to get in the ring with ‘GGG’ to show the world that he is also the best pound for pound fighter in the sport, but we won’t negotiate under a false deadline.”

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