By: Patrick Mascoe
Anytime you create a list like this you are really just asking for an argument. So let me apologize right now. Judging fighters from different eras is extremely difficult and highly subjective. For example, I have only seen two of the fighters on this list fight in the ring. The others fought well before I was ever conceived and are known, not from what I have witnessed but from what I have read regarding the history of boxing. It can also be argued that most of Canada’s greatest boxers are not even Canadian. So, for the purpose of this list, the definition of a Canadian boxer is anyone who was born in Canada or moved to Canada at a young age and has called Canada home. This means one of two things: Canada as a nation has not produced a lot of home grown talent or Canada is a land of opportunity for those who wish to pursue a career in boxing. Let’s go with the second option.
If you are a Canadian reading this list, you will notice one glaring omission. George Chuvalo, who is easily Canada’s most famous boxer, was not necessarily one of our greatest boxers. Chuvalo twice challenged for the heavyweight title but lost both times by decision. In 93 professional fights, Chuvalo was never knocked down and that includes fighting the likes of Muhammad Ali (twice), George Forman, Joe Frazier, Cleveland Williams, Jimmy Ellis, and Buster Mathis. What keeps George Chuvalo off this list, and makes him an honourable mention, is that unlike all the other fighters on this list, he was never inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. However, any man who went fifteen rounds with Muhammad Ali and then bragged, “When it was all over, he was the guy who went to the hospital because he was pissing blood. Me? I went dancing with my wife” deserves to be mentioned when talking about Canadian boxers.
Without further ado, here is my countdown of Canada’s 5 greatest boxers of all-time:
5. Arturo Gatti (1972- 2009): Arturo Gatti was born in Cassino, Italy, but moved to Montreal as a child and eventually competed as a member of Canada’s National Boxing Team before deciding to turn pro. Gatti was known as a blood and guts fighter who possessed power in both hands. He was also extremely resilient and absorbed incredible amounts of punishment before coming back and winning fights he had no right to win. To say that he had a fan-friendly style is an understatement. Gatti was not great in the traditional sense. He did not have Pernell Whittaker’s defence. He did not have Ali’s speed. Nor did he have Mayweather’s technical skill. What he had was a warrior’s spirit and an entertaining style that made fans love him. He was a fearless all-action fighter. He held the IBF Jr. Lightweight Title from 1995-1998 and the WBC Super Lightweight Title from 2004-2005. He retired with a record of 40-9. Gatti was involved in the Ring’s “Fight of the Year” on four different occasions. Arturo Gatti may very well have been the most exciting fighter of his generation.
4. Jimmy McLarnin (1907 – 2004): McLarnin was born in Ireland and moved to Canada at the age of three. He took up boxing at the age of ten. Three years later he caught the eye of a former professional boxer named Charles Foster who believed McLarnin would one day be a world champion. McLarnin started his professional career fighting in Vancouver but was dissatisfied by the low pay and decided to pursue his craft in the United States. His youthful appearance was a hindrance, so he had to lie about his age. However, once in the ring there was no mistaking his power. It was for that reason he was known as the “Baby-faced Assassin.”
In 1928, he had a title shot against world lightweight champion, Sammy Mandell, but lost the fight by decision. Despite the fact that he beat Mandell twice in the following two years, as well as knocking out Benny Leonard, one of the greatest fighters of all-time, he was made to wait five years before getting another shot at the title. This time, when his opportunity came, he made the most of it by knocking out Young Corbett III in the first round to win the world welterweight title. He would lose his title to Barney Ross, then win it back again in a rematch, only to lose it again in their third match. Unlike many boxers of that era, McLarnin decided to retire while still at the top of his game. In his final two fights, he defeated hall of famers Tony Canzoneri and Lou Ambers. Despite many generous offers, McLarnin refused to come out of retirement. He certainly didn’t need the money as he had invested wisely and was a very wealthy man.
3. Tommy Burns (1881 – 1955): Tommy Burns is the only Canadian-born boxer to ever hold the world heavyweight title. He was born in Hanover, Ontario in 1881. Burns was an extremely small heavyweight, standing only 5 ft. 7 in. tall and weighing 175 pounds. In 1906, Burns was a 2 to 1 underdog when he faced heavyweight champion Marvin Hart. Not only did Burns win the heavyweight title, he went on to defend it eleven times.
Tommy Burns was a man well ahead of his time. Historically, his legacy should be far greater than it is. He is known as the boxer who was defeated by Jack Johnson, who became the first fighter of African descent to win the heavyweight title. As much as history recognizes Johnson’s feat, Burns also deserves a great deal of credit, as he was the first white boxer willing to put the heavyweight title on the line against a fighter of colour. At a time when boxing was almost completely divisive and no white fighter wanted anything to do with Jack Johnson, Tommy Burns had fought half a dozen bouts versus black boxers. He hired and worked out with black sparring partners, and was married for a time to a black woman. He claimed that he would defend his title against all comers and that no one was barred. “I propose to be the champion of the world. If I am not the best man in the heavyweight division then I don’t want the title.” Without this attitude of inclusion, Jack Johnson might not have been given the chance to make history. Johnson said as much in 1909, when he addressed an audience in Vancouver, saying that Burns deserved credit for being the only white heavyweight fighter willing to give a black man a chance to fight for the title.
Although Tommy Burns retired from boxing a wealthy man, he lost everything in the Stock Market Crash of 1929. He ended his career taking jobs as an insurance salesman and security guard. He died at the age of 73 of a heart attack.
2. Samuel Langford (1883 – 1956): According to ESPN, Sam Langford was the “Greatest Fighter Nobody Knows.” Born in Weymouth Falls, Nova Scotia, Canada, Langford started his pro career fighting out of Boston. This explains why he was known as the Boston Bonecrusher, the Boston Terror, and the infamous Boston Tar Baby. Despite standing only 5 ft. 7 ½ in., Langford fought from lightweight to heavyweight. Even though he always gave up either height or weight, he only lost 29 times out of an alleged 300 professional fights. The legendary, Jack Dempsey, once described Samual Langford as the greatest fighter we ever had.
One year after turning professional, Langford defeated World Lightweight Champion Joe Gans in a 15-round non-title fight. On April 26th, 1906 Langford fought future World Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson. Langford gave up 30 pounds to Johnson and lost a 15-round decision. Apparently, Langford showed enough skill in that first fight to make sure that there would never be a rematch. Throughout his career, Johnson repeatedly refused to fight Langford, even though he was considered by many to be Johnson’s most dangerous challenger. Battling Jim Johnson, a man Langford had beaten nine times and had never lost to, was given a title shot against Jack Johnson, while Langford was left waiting. Langford never did get a rematch against Jack Johnson. When Jack Johnson, the baddest man on the planet, avoids you like the plague, then you know you possess greatness.
1. Lennox Lewis (1965 – Present): Lewis was born in London, England and moved to Canada at the age of 12. He represented Canada at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, winning a gold medal. He defeated Riddick Bowe in the final. After winning his first 22 professional fights, he was once again slated to fight Bowe, this time for his WBC Heavyweight Title. Rather than face Lewis, Bowe vacated the title and Lewis was declared the new champion. After defending his title three times, he suffered an upset loss to Oliver McCall. On February 7th 1997, Lewis got his revenge by stopping McCall in the fifth round and regaining the WBC Title.
On March 13th, 1999, Lewis faced WBA and IBF Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield. Lewis clearly won the match, out landing Holyfield 348 to 130, but somehow the match was declared a draw. A rematch was immediately ordered and this time the judges saw what everyone else in attendance saw – a clear unanimous decision victory for Lewis. He defended his titles three more times before again being upset by an underdog named Hasim Rahman. He fought Rahman again in an immediate rematch and won back his titles by way of 5th round knockout. He fought twice more after that, knocking out International Boxing Hall of Fame fighters Mike Tyson in 8 rounds and Vitali Klitschko in 6 rounds. Lennox Lewis retired with a 41-2-1 record and rebounded to defeat the only two men to ever beat him. Lewis, along with Ingemar Johansson and Rocky Marciano, are the only world heavyweight champions to retire with victories over every man they ever faced as a professional.
By: William Holmes
Amir Khan (33-4) returned to the ring tonight at the Arena in Birmingham, England to face veteran welterweight Samuel Vargas (29-3-2) in the welterweight division.
This was Khan’s first fight with on DAZN and is one of their more marketable stars. DAZN made this fight available for free on their social media networks.
Photo Credit: DAZN USA Twitter Account
Khan, a strong favorite, showed no signs of a slow down in the opening rounds by pressing the action and using his superior speed.
Khan was doing well at keeping a safe distance and even sent Vargas down in the second from a combination that ended with a right han, but Vargas was able to land a straight right to the temple that sent Khan crashing to the mat after recovering from the knockdown.
Khan was able to recover, and went back to fighting at a safe distance and utilizing his quick combinations. Vargas was able to land a few good shots to test Khan’s chin, but Khan was able to withstand his power.
Amir Khan had Vargas bloodied by the fifth round and appeared to be close to knocking Vargas down. Vargas did have his moments, including momentarily stunning Khan in the tenth round and strong 11th round rally.
The final scores were 119-108, 119-109, 118-110 for Amir Khan.
Khan has bigger prizes on his mind, and noted that he’d like to face either Kell Brook or Manny Pacquiao next. The fight with Kell Brook should be easier for Eddie Hearn to make, but a fight with Manny Pacquiao would also be an entertaining fight.
By: Ste Rowen
At Arena Birmingham this Saturday night, Amir Khan takes on Samuel Vargas in a 12-round contest that will surely propel the winner to a shot at the biggest names in the welterweight division.
Since May 2016, the former unified super-lightweight world champion, has spent just shy of 40 seconds in the ring. On his first return to the ring since being wiped out by ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, Amir Khan stepped between the ropes in March to decimate an overawed and overmatched, Phil Lo Greco in the 1st round.
‘‘I didn’t get a chance to show everyone what I had been working on during my time out, against Lo Greco.’’ Said Khan, 32-4 (20KOs), speaking to his promoter Matchroom last month. ‘‘But you saw the punch power, accuracy, speed and timing, and you’ll see it again against Vargas. I always make it exciting.’’
Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account
Post-fight in April, Amir mentioned the likes of Adrien Broner as a potential next opponent but whilst Broner is otherwise engaged – trying to get Burger King employees to quit on the spot – Khan, and promoter Eddie Hearn, moved to make the Sam Vargas bout, and keep a historically inactive fighter in Amir busy, before an expected massive welterweight showdown with any of the division’s big names.
‘‘This will take me to the bigger and better fights, and that’s with no disrespect to Sammy. He’s going to come to win. He knows by beating me it propels him on to a whole new level…Vargas is a very tough and well-schooled fighter but if he wants to fight on the inside, I’ll be more than ready for it.’’
‘‘There’re big fights in the pipeline but I can’t afford to look that far ahead. Vargas has my full attention.’’
Colombian, Vargas was on a hot streak of four consecutive victories, since his stoppage loss to Danny Garcia in 2016, until he ran into Mauro Godoy two months ago. At Ontario’s Scotiabank Convention Centre, the two South Americans fought out a tit-for-tat majority draw, which did very little to wow the crowd.
The Canadian resident isn’t exactly renowned for his power, but his KO record isn’t holding him back from laying out to the 2004 Olympic silver medallist, exactly how dangerous of an opponent he will be,
‘‘If I touch him on the chin, he’s going down. That’s a guarantee…He’s been stopped really badly a couple of times, so we know it’s always there and we have 36 minutes to do it…Your body can only take so much before it gives out. Maybe this is the fight for him.’’
As mentioned earlier, Vargas, 29-3-2 (14KOs), isn’t a complete stranger to sharing the ring with the biggest talent. The current WBA-NABA champion has stepped in, and lost to WBC champ at the time, Danny Garcia – going 3 rounds further than Saturday night’s opponent could handle against the Philadelphian – and the 2015 tussle with a 15-0, Errol Spence.
‘‘I’ve been in there with the best. Obviously, I didn’t get the results that I wanted but those defeats have been my biggest lessons…I’m just a regular guy that decided not to quit and not give up, to get up and to keep on going. And here I am.’’
‘‘This is all or nothing for me.’’
This fight will also be Bolton native, Khan’s second under the tutelage of Joe Goosen. Hopefully fans get to see a little more of what the legendary trainer has been teaching him this time round.
Saturday night’s card also includes a number of domestic favourites including;
Current British middleweight champion, Jason Welborn will once again face-off against Tommy Langford, the man he took the Lonsdale belt from back in May, with a 12-round split decision.
British lightweight champion, Lewis Ritson is scheduled for a 10-round stay busy fight against Nicaraguan, Oscar Amador, 10-7 (1KO). The Newcastle native, 16-0 (10KOs), is already set to headline a card in his hometown on the 13th October, where he’ll come up against Belgian, Francesco Patera, 19-3 (7KOs), for the EBU European 135lb title.
2014 Commonwealth gold medallist at 69kg, Scott Fitzgerald, 10-0 (7KOs), takes on southpaw, Craig Morris, 10-1 (3KOs).
Sam ‘The Savage’ Eggington enters the ring for the 3rd time in 2018 when he takes on Tanzanian, Hassan Mwakinyo, 11-2 (7KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder. Eggington, 23-4 (15KOs) is currently 15th in the WBC’s junior middleweight rankings.
The Midlands Area junior middleweight champion, Ryan Kelly, 11-1 (5KOs), defends his strap for the first time, against the unbeaten Kelcie Ball, 9-0 (2KOs).
Boxing Insider Notebook: Pacquiao, Helenius, Alvarez, Chavez, Chisora, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of March 28th to April 4th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Pacquiao to Possibly Face Jeff Horn
Bob Arum recently stated that Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn may face each other in the summer after Pacquiao abandoned the planned fight to pursue a showdown with Amir Khan.
This fight is being discussed to take place in Australia, but no set date or venue has been established.
Arum is currently working on finalizing the deal, but nothing has been set in stone yet.
Helenius and Chisora Ready to Renew Rivalry
Robert Helenius (24-1, 15 KOs) and Dereck Chisora (26-7, 18 KOs) came face-to-face for the first time since their controversial December 2011 showdown today at the Hotel Kamp in Helsinki, Finland as they prepare to renew their rivalry on May 27.
Helenius was awarded a split decision victory in their first bout, despite many people believing the British boxer did enough to win. Chisora now has the chance to settle the score when they return to the Hartwall Arena to contest the WBC Silver World Heavyweight title in a hotly anticipated rematch.
Chisora is coming off the back of another contentious decision in a ‘fight of the year’ contender versus countryman Dillian Whyte, while Helenius has scored back-to-back knockout victories against Konstantin Airich and Gonzalo Omar Basile.
‘’I don’t think Robert took me seriously last time,’’ said Chisora. ‘’But this time he will need to train harder than ever. I’m going to take him to places he has never been before, and I’m going to stop him. I’m not playing around. This guy is in trouble. When I come back to Helsinki, I’m going to be in war mode.”
‘’I’m looking forward to this fight,’’ said Helenius. ‘’Dereck is a tough fighter and I think we will put on a great show for the fans. My hand was raised after our first fight and I can’t see any other outcome this time. This is a big opportunity for me. A victory will bring me closer to a World title fight, and that is my goal.’’
‘’This is going to be the biggest fight on Finnish soil in recent history,’’ said promoter Nisse Sauerland. ‘’It’s a fight that’s been six years in the making, and we’re delighted to be back in Helsinki and back at the Hartwall Arena.’’
Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. Coming Live to the Big Screen on May 6th
Cinemas across the U.S. will play host to a Cinco de Mayo weekend mega-fight with a pulse-pounding live broadcast event featuring two of Mexico’s finest boxers: “Canelo Álvarez vs. Julio César Chávez, Jr.” in a historic showdown that will rival the biggest fights in Mexico’s rich boxing history. Two-division world champion Canelo Álvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) will square off against former WBC World Middleweight Champion Julio César Chávez, Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KOs) in a 12-round battle.
Presented by Fathom Events and Golden Boy Promotions, the one-day cinema broadcast is set for Saturday, May 6 at 6:00 p.m. PT / 7:00 p.m. MT / 8:00 p.m. CT / 9:00 p.m. ET, live from the sold-out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In addition to catching all the in-ring action up close and personal, event attendees will receive an exclusive commemorative fight mini-poster.
Tickets for “Canelo Álvarez vs. Julio César Chávez, Jr.” can be purchased beginning Friday, April 7, 2017 online by visiting www.FathomEvents.com or at participating theater box offices. Fans throughout the U.S. will be able to enjoy the event in select movie theaters through Fathom’s Digital Broadcast Network (DBN). A complete list of theater locations will be available April 7 on the Fathom Event’s website (theaters and participants are subject to change).
On May 5, 2016, Álvarez celebrated T-Mobile Arena’s first boxing event with a knockout of Amir “King” Khan. Álvarez last fought on September 17, 2016, knocking out the previously undefeated WBO junior middleweight champion Liam Smith. Chávez, Jr. was last in action on December 10, 2016, when he secured a unanimous decision victory over highly-regarded German fighter Dominik Britsch.
Álvarez says, “Julio César Chávez, Sr. is one of the best, if not the best fighter in history. I grew up watching him and learned a lot from him, but that won’t have any influence when I fight his son… I want to remind you that when two Mexican fighters face-off, a spectacular show is guaranteed, and I can assure you that May 6 will be no exception.”
“This is going to be a tough fight. Every fight is important, and this one especially because it is between two Mexicans fighting each other for the glory,” Julio César Chávez, Jr. said. “I’m going to win, but my country will too, because this is the fight that boxing needs.”
Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions said, “Mexican boxing is the best, and when you have these two top boxers who want to give the best to the fans, we couldn’t pass it up. Canelo, the biggest boxing star, will take on not only a former world champion in Julio César Chávez, Jr., but the son of the biggest star in the history of boxing in Mexico.”
“There’s nothing like seeing these warriors – Canelo Álvarez and Julio César Chávez, Jr. – do battle, larger than life, on the big screen,” John Rubey, CEO of Fathom Events said. “It’s like having a real ring-side experience in your local cinema surrounded by other fans!”
Samuel Clarkson Laser-Focused on Interim WBA World Title Fight
A laser-focused Samuel “Main Event” Clarkson (19-3, 11 KOs) will step onto the world stage on Friday, April 14, as the Uprising Promotions light heavyweight faces unbeaten prospect Dmitry Bivol (9-0, 7 KOs) for the Interim WBA World Championship. The bout will serve as the feature attraction of ShoBox: The Next Generation, with the fight taking place at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C.
“Preparation for this fight has been awesome. I’m ready, and I’m excited,” said Clarkson, who moved his training camp to New York for this bout. “I will definitely owe this victory to New York City and of course Uprising Promotions, Ronson Frank and my dad. This was a very hard camp, but it has made me mentally become a stronger person. Physically, I’m definitely a stronger person. Going through life from this day forward, I’m just a different person.”
A Texas native, Clarkson and his father/head trainer, Samuel, Sr., opted to move this camp to New York where Uprising Promotions President Ronson Frank has been able to secure sparring with many of the top prospects in the region.
“Preparation in New York has been awesome,” Clarkson continued. “I’m not taking anything away from my people in Dallas, but I came out here and got exactly what I wanted. I stepped out of my comfort zone, and we’re ready for war now. All the hard work is just about done.”
Clarkson has gone unbeaten since joining Uprising Promotions and is currently riding a nine-bout winning streak. Among those victories included a decision over former world title challenger Cedric Agnew and knockouts of highly touted prospects Jerry Odom and Lavarn Harvell on ShoBox. The 26-year-old pugilist has been continually improving and showing significant growth since signing with Uprising Promotions in 2015, and a newfound dedication to his craft now leads him into the biggest opportunity of his professional career on April 14.
“Coming here and being out of our comfort zone has been great for two key reasons,” said Samuel Clarkson, Sr., who has worked alongside his son throughout his amateur and professional campaigns. “For one, this has enabled Samuel to fully prepare mentally. Two, the quality of sparring we have gotten has been tremendous. We have sparred with some top quality guys here in New York. Being embraced by all of these highly skilled fighters in New York has just made this whole thing a great experience. We’re really thankful to have this opportunity.”
Uprising Promotions President Ronson Frank, who initially started the promotion in 2013 to help himself get fights as an undefeated light heavyweight prospect, has aggressively build the foundation for his company over the past four years and feels very confident as its lead stablemate heads into this world title opportunity.
“Camp has been great, and everything has gone very smoothly,” said Frank. “We have a nice, strong game plan, and we have put in all of the preparation necessary to be ready for a fight like this. We are good to go and can’t wait until the fight.”
Standing opposite Clarkson on April 14 will be Bivol, who had an extensive amateur career that he finished off with a record of 285-15. The 26-year-old won the Interim WBA Light Heavyweight Title last May in Moscow with a unanimous decision over previously undefeated Felix Valera.
“We have some tricks up our sleeves,” Clarkson concluded. “Fans are definitely going to see an amazing fight. Anybody who knows me, you know I’m going for the knockout. If it shows up early, we’re taking it. If it’s later in the rounds, then that’s where we’ll take it. I’m just coming, and I’m going to be vicious. I’m always aggressive. I’m not afraid of this guy, so people are going to see a really exciting fight from bell to bell.”
Diego De La Hoya to Headline Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN on May 18th
Looking to continue his meteoric rise up the Super Bantamweight division, undefeated WBC Youth World Champion Diego De La Hoya (17-0, 9 KOs) will headline the Thursday, May 18 edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN in a 10-round battle against crafty veteran Erik Ruiz (16-6-1, 6 KOs) at Casino Del Sol Resort in Tucson, Arizona and televised on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes starting at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST.
“I’m excited and thankful to be headlining Golden Boy Promotions’ new venture with ESPN in Tucson!” said Diego De La Hoya. “I have a tough opponent in Erik Ruiz, but I’ll be more than ready for him! I know ESPN is expecting great matchups from Golden Boy, and this fight is no exception!”
“I am thrilled to be getting the opportunity to fight Diego De La Hoya,” said Erik Ruiz. “I’ve had many ups and
downs in my career and I know a win against Diego can help erase some of those bumps. This fight has given me a renewed motivation. Only in boxing can one win change your life and a win against De La Hoya can change mine for the better. This will be a great fight for the fans!”
“We are thrilled to be adding Casino Del Sol Resort as one of our designated ESPN stops as an effort to ensure that fight fans around the country have the opportunity to see top talent give all they have in the ring,” said Golden Boy Promotions Chairman and CEO Oscar De La Hoya. “Diego is a natural in the ring and he’ll do anything to make sure he takes back home that belt. On the other hand, Erik Ruiz will look to vindicate himself, and will not hold back on Diego.”
US Olympian Nico Hernandez Building Wichita into a Fight Town
Last Saturday night at Kansas Star Arena in nearby Mulvane, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Nico Hernandez planted a seed in hopes of growing Wichita into a fight town, as world champions Terence Crawford and Deontay Wilder have already accomplished in the respective hometowns, Omaha (NE) and Birmingham (AL).
More than 3,100 fans purchased tickets Hernandez’ successfully professional debut, stopping Pat Gutierrez in the fourth round. To put that attendance figure in its proper perspective, Wichita has a population of less than 400,000 and in this hoop-crazed state, the appropriately named “KO Night Boxing: History Begins” went head-to-head with the popular Kansas Jayhawks quintet playing on national television in the Elite Eight of the NCAA college basketball championship, as well as The Wichita Force playing at home in indoor football.
The 21-year-old Hernandez is practically a sports franchise in Wichita, second only to the Wichita State University (WSU) men’s basketball team. The city turned out in force at a parade honoring Hernandez upon his return home from the Olympics and WSU awarded him an open-ended four-year college scholarship.
“The show was a huge success and Nico, as a pro fighter, produced a more complete body of work than we had expected,” Hernandez’ promoter John Andersen (KO Night Boxing) said. “I was very impressed. His amateur background converted to an even better pro style. It really showed his potential and that’s one of the primary reasons we signed him. We really believed in Nico. He is the only fighter we have signed, right now; Nico is our stable! We see things from a different angle than big-time promoters. We understood that he’s a hometown hero, so we had him headline at home his pro debut on national television (CBS Sports Network). We produce our shows on television and we enjoy telling stories like Nico’s. We’d like to come right back to Wichita with Nico fighting in June.”
Lifelong Kansas Sean Wheelock, a non-paid member of the Kansas Athletic Commission that oversees boxing, in addition to calling last Saturday’s fights as a member of the KO Night Boxing announcing team on CBS Sports Network, has a unique perspective on the significance of last Saturday evening’s in terms of local boxing history.
“It was huge for Kansas boxing,” Wheelock explained, “the biggest show in this state since the Tommy Morrison Era (early-to-mid 1990’s). Morrison was an adopted son, though. Nico was born here and he has a deep investment in the Wichita community. Drawing 3000-plus for his pro debut, in a non-boxing market, was phenomenal and he has the potential to do what Crawford has done in Omaha and Wilder in Birmingham. Boxing has strong roots in Kansas and across the Midwest, but MMA has taken over and lately, most boxing in Kansas has been on hybrid shows with MMA and kickboxing.
“Fans were loudly chanting, ‘Nico’ and ‘316’ (Wichita’s area code) before, during and after his fight. I’ve never heard fans chanting for a city like they did, ‘Wichita’, for an individual athlete. And they were also chanting ‘USA’. As a native Kansas, I’m proud that this state has become more ethnically and culturally diverse with more Hispanics living in Wichita. Nico is engaged in the Hispanic community and he is a fantastic kid, too. Because of his personality and fighting style, he can draw locally from Wichita, throughout all of Kansas, and nationally among Hispanics and Americans across the country because of his accomplishment in the Olympics.”
Hernandez is also fighting in one of the hottest divisions in boxing — 115-pound junior bantamweight/super flyweight — showcasing name fighters such as Naoya Inoue, Roman Gonzalez, Carlos Cuadras, Juan Francisco Estrada and recent addition Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Conspicuously absent, however, are top 20 ranked American fighters in this weight class, excluding 36-year-old Brian Viloria, the four-time, two-division (junior flyweight and flyweight) world champion. The opportunity is right there for Hernandez to quickly establish himself as the preeminent American boxer in this weight class.
“There’s no reason for Nico to fight outside of Wichita for a couple of years as he develops,” Andersen noted. “I feel that he can win a regional title next year. Our goal is to have him in a world title fight position within three years. Our goal is to get him 13 to 15 fights and then promote a super fight in Wichita. He started out in a six-round fight. I think he’ll only have a couple more and then move up to eight-round bouts.
“Nico doesn’t waste a lot of punches, so the number of scheduled rounds won’t be a problem for him. Another fighter would have punched himself out in two rounds, fighting at home in front of a crowed like he had supporting him, but Nico showed tremendous poise, settling down and putting his punches together very well. He didn’t chase Gutierrez, he effectively cut off the ring, and his powerful body attack was something he didn’t do as an amateur. We wanted to see how he reacted to resistance and he passed that test with flying colors.”
Andersen noted that his company has promoted several successful shows, noting the big difference is last weekend’s show featured a world-class fighter in Hernandez. “Making the Olympics was a big deal for Nico,” Andersen added, “whether he medaled or not. Nico is to us what Manny Pacquiao is to Top Rank, ‘Canelo’ Alvarez to Golden Boy. We’re lucky to start out with a fighter like Nico. Fighting in Wichita was risk for everybody but it’s already paying dividends.
“We know who and what we are as a promotional company. Nico is our top priority, our only fighter right now, and now we have a great opportunity to build off last weekend’s success. We give Nico all the attention he deserves and he’s going to take advantage of this situation. And we also discovered that there’s some other talented boxers in this market. Whit Hayden did a wonderful job making very competitive fights. That’s his history, he never has blowouts. Whit is one of the most knowledgeable people I know in boxing. He’s the perfect matchmaker to guide Nico’s career, along with Nico’s father (head trainer) Lewis Hernandez, who we work closely with in many ways, in and out of the ring.”
PBC Card in Philadelphia had its Ups and Downs
By Eric Lunger
I happened to attend the Danny Garcia vs. Samuel Vargas PBC event Saturday night in Philadelphia. The experience was a pleasure all around, except, unfortunately, for the main event. I’ll get to that in a moment, but first I’ll offer a few observations about watching live boxing in Philadelphia. First off, the Liacouras Center is a wonderful venue; parking, access, concessions, the arena staff – everything was top-notch. And the arena feels small and big at the same time: when seated close to the ring, the blazing lights make you feel like the ring dominates the whole building; but if you wander up to the upper decks, you can sit by yourself in the massive bank of seats looking down on the spectacle. I did so for Garcia’s ring walk, and watching his massive entourage snake its way to the ring between the crowd-control barriers was like watching an ill-intentioned dragon slither out of a burrow.
The crowd was an interesting mix of folks from almost all walks of life. I was surprised and pleased by the congenial and carnival-like atmosphere. Everyone was courteous, in a cheerful mood, and there was a sense of camaraderie in the building, like, “Hey, we’re all here for fight night!” Not the usual Philly sports crowd – I’ve been to a Flyers game where they booed the Zamboni driver. There were well-dressed folks; there were folks in jeans and sweatshirts. There were couples out for date night. It was also very much a home-town night, in so far as the promoters had a done a nice job matching local prospects against good, but not world class opponents. Omar Douglas, from Wilmington, DE, and Jarrett Hurd, from Maryland, were loudly supported by their traveling fans.
There are some interesting things about watching boxing live, as opposed to on TV. First thing I noticed was how tense the crowd was during the bouts. A boxing crowd goes from tense quiet to an explosion of sound in split-second. A good shot or big punch is immediately punctuated by a crowd reaction. But most of the time, the crowd is tensely observing the action, with occasional members yelling instructions to the fighters, which I doubt they hear. A corollary of the relative quiet is that the punches are audible. A “thudding” punch is not just a cliché – its real. Second thing I noticed was that I didn’t miss having TV commentators interpret the fight for me. I had to really focus on what was going on in the ring and I had to rely on my own interpretation of who won that round, or why so-and-so stopped using his jab, or where a certain fighter’s strength lay. It made for a much more immersive and active experience.
Watching boxing live also underscores how dangerous boxing really is, and why defensive boxing is such an art. The punches are fast, accurate, and hard. Javier Fortuna in the first round of the first televised undercard made one error, and Omar Douglas caught him with a brutal hook inside: Fortuna went down like he had been shot in the head. From then on, Fortuna fought from the outside, boxed, jabbed, moved, and never again got in range of that short hook. That bout developed, after the first round knock down, into a classic battle between a come-forward puncher (Douglas) and a dancing, southpaw boxer (Fortuna). Fortuna edged out Douglas on the cards and the crowd was not happy with the decision, though I think it was correct.
The second undercard was entertaining and compelling as well, but for other reasons. Jarrett Hurd is a talented and fundamentally trained boxer with a complete skill set. He is also a big super welterweight – keep you eye on him in the future. His opponent, a very tough and very professional Jo Jo Dan, took a lot of punishment, landed a number of his own shots, but didn’t have the power at this weight to do damage. Hurd was patient, methodical, and precise, landing increasing damaging blows through Dan’s defense. The referee called off the bout at the right time, as Dan took more damage without returning fire.
I wish I could say something positive about the main event, as I think the Garcia camp has taken enough abuse in the media, but Samuel Vargas (nothing against him personally) was a gross mismatch. The fact that he lasted seven rounds testifies to his toughness, if nothing else. Garcia blasted him at will. The partisan Garcia fans loved it, but it was lesser end to a better undercard. It was a shame because the Liacouras Center is a great venue to watch boxing, and the undercard deserved a better main event.
Danny “Swift” Garcia stops Samuel Vargas in Philly Saturday!
By: Ken Hissner
Premier Boxing Champions and Kings Promotions came to the beautiful Temple Universities Liacouras Center in North Philadelphia Saturday night over SPIKE TV.
WBC Welterweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia, 33-0 (19), made a return to his city in Philadelphia with a non-title fight stopping game Colombian Samuel Vargas, 25-3-1 (13), now out of Canada in the seventh round. While Angel Garcia the father-trainer of Garcia will be in one corner and Philly’s Billy Briscoe will be in the corner of Vargas.
The arena was packed with Garcia fans at the Liacouras Center in North Philly. Keith Thurman the WBA champion got into the ring and they went face to face yelling what each is going to do in March when they meet to unify two titles.
In the Main Event WBC Welterweight Champion Danny “Swift” Garcia, 33-0 (19), of Philly, stopped Colombian Samuel Vargas, 25-3-1 (13), of Canada in the seventh round having Vargas defensless.
In the first round Garcia landed an overhand right to the head of Vargas letting him know the power he has. In the second round an overhand right by Garcia dropped Vargas who did a backwards somersault. In the third round Garcia rocked Vargas on two occasions with overhand rights to the head. In the fourth round Garcia had his way but Vargas had one of his better rounds. In the fifth round Garcia went to the body of Vargas then the head. In the sixth round Garcia knew with Keith Thurman working with Spike TV he had to close the show. In the seventh round Garcia came out looking to end things as he had the head of Vargas bouncing back and forth before referee Gary Rosato stepped in to prevent anymore punishment to Vargas.
Jarrett “Swift” Hurd, 19-0 (13), Accokeek, MD, stopped Romanian southpaw Jo Jo Dan, 35-4 (18), Montreal, CAN, when his corner stopped it at 1:06 in the sixth round.
In the opening round Dan seemed to have an edge with little in return from Hurd who opened up having Dan out on his feet with speed a hand. In the second round Dan got back in the fight well staying inside with Hurd. In the third round a very low blow from Hurd dropped Dan. Referee Benjy Esteves, Jr. gave him a well deserved 5 minute rest. In the fourth round it was back and fourth with the shorter Dan. In the fifth round things continue to go back and forth. It seems until Hurd gets hit he doesn’t do much.
In the sixth round Hurd had Dan in serious trouble when Dan’s corner threw in the towel at 1:06 of the round.
Omar “Super O” Douglas, 17-1 (12), Wilmington, DE, lost in a foul filled bout to Dominican Javier “El Abejon” Fortuna, 31-1-1 (22), Braintree, MASS, over 10 rounds. Fans didn’t like it.
In a feeling out round it all of a sudden came alive with Fortuna rocking Douglas. It may have spurred him on because he came back and dropped Fortuna with a left hook to the head. In the second round it was close but Fortuna’s southpaw jab seemed to keep Douglas at bay. In the third round the hand speed of Fortuna is keeping Douglas from coming forward. In the fourth round with his hands low from the start Fortuna uses both his hand and foot speed to good use. When Douglas gets inside Fortuna ties him up. In the fifth round it was jab and grab on the part of Fortuna as he frustrates Douglas.
In the sixth round referee Clark warned Fortuna several times for infractions yet hasn’t taken a point from him. Douglas keeps chasing him to no avail. In the seventh round it continues to be more holding by Fortuna than punching but Douglas is having a hard time landing a solid punch. In the eighth round Douglas had a better round though Fortuna landed the best punch with a left to the chin. In the ninth round the referee Clark continues to allow Fortuna to jab and grab and refuses to take a point away. Fortuna has fought a smart fight but the fans showed their displeasure. In the tenth and final round it turned out to be the best exchange of the fight before Fortuna went back to his old tactics. Douglas keeps missing his left hook over the head of Fortuna.
Scores were Schreck 96-94, Lundy 96-93 and LaRosa 95-94. This writer had it 97-92.
Middleweight Kyrone “Shut It Down” Davis, 11-1 (5), of Wilmington, DE, stopped Carlos Gabriel Ozan, 12-2 (4), of Mendoza, ARG, at 0:41 of the third round with an impressive showing.
In the first round Davis controlled the pace. He was landing good uppercuts inside to the body. A combination had Ozan holding on with Davis throwing him down. The referee Esteves ruled it a knockdown. In the second round Davis was slipping punches and landing very effective to both body and head of Ozan who was hurt on several occasions. He doesn’t seem to have enough power to hurt Davis. Davis started it off with a body shot to the midsection followed up with a left hook to the head and as Ozan was going down Davis landed another four punches putting Ozan to the canvas face first. He beat the count of referee Esteves but kept falling backwards into the ropes as referee Esteves wisely called a halt. “I have dedicated this fight to the rest of my career after my last showing. I spent seven months in camp that was good in every aspect“, said Davis.
Super lightweight Milton “El Santo” Santiago, 16-0 (3), of Philly, won a decision over Claudio Rosendo Tapia, 28-17-4 (13), of Mendoza, ARG, over 8 rounds.
In the first round Santiago was landing more punches using his left well to the body and head. Tapia holds his own inside. In the second round Tapia got more offensive backing Santiago up. It was a close round though Santiago seemed to pull it out. In the third round both boxers had their moments. At the end it looked like Tapia may have slipped unless a right by Santiago did it. In the fourth round it was more of the same with Santiago holding a solid lead through 4 rounds.
In the fifth round Santiago rocked Tapia with a combination to the head putting him into the ropes. In the sixth round Santiago rocked Tapia with two consecutive rights to the head. Near the end of the round Santiago went southpaw without landing anything. In the seventh round Santiago not being a puncher is landing with nice combinations. Tapia in the last part of the round was landing punch for punch with Santiago. In the eighth and final round Santiago is loading up landing rights to the head looking for one of his rare knockouts. The rest of the round ended with both giving it up.
All 3 judges and this writer had it 80-72. Clark was the referee.
Super featherweight Antonio Dubose, 8-2-1 (2), of Philly, lost a majority decision to Titus Williams, 7-0 (2), of Elmont, Long Island, NY, over 6 rounds. The fans were not happy with the decision.
Judges Portajk 57-57, Anthony Lundy 59-55 and LaRosa 58-56. This writer had it 57-57.
In the first round Williams showed a very fast jab as Dubose goes after him. On several inside exchanges Dubose came out on top but the quickness of Willams is obvious most effective. In the second round Dubose rocked William with a combination to the head. Near the end of the round Williams knocked Dubose back with a left hook but Dubose came right back landing a combination at the bell. In the third round Dubose was finding the mark rocking Williams with overhand rights to the head.
In the fourth round both fighters had their moments. As long as Dubose was going forward he was fine. When he hurt Williams he was being held. When Dubose set back he got out boxed by Williams. In the fifth round it was close but Dubose seemed to edge out the round. In the sixth and final round with the fight very close both need this round. Williams continues to use his speed while Dubose loads up for heavier punches. By the time the bell sounded Williams may have had the edge.
In a swing bout bantamweight Christian Carto, 5-0 (5), of Philly, stopped Leonardo Reyes, 4-11-1 (1), Tijuana, MEX, at 2:17 of the second round.
In the first round it was Carto pressing Reyes with a quick jab and a follow-up straight right to the head. In the second round a straight right from Carto to the head of Reyes floored him. Upon getting up Reyes was greeted with a barrage of punches from Carto before referee Esteves wisely called a halt.
Super featherweight Thomas “T.J.” Velasquez, 6-0 (4), of Philly, easily defeated Raul “El Ciclon De” Chirino, 8-4 (4), of Miami, FL, over 4 rounds.
In the first round it was all Velasquez going mostly to the head and some to the body of Chirino who spent the round on defense. In round two it was more of the same with less punches thrown by Velasquez with Chirino not doing much on the offense. In the third round Velasquez had Chirino hurt time and again. In the fourth and final round Velasquez is looking for the knockout
Lightweight Jeffrey Torres, 2-0 (1), of Philly easily defeated Joseph Serrano, 0-1 (0), of Philly, over 4 rounds.
Torres went right after Serrano landing many rights to the head of Serrano rocking him on several occasions. Just before the bell Torres dropped Serrano with a right to the head in Serrano’s corner. In the second round Torres continued chasing Serrano and almost hitting him at will. In the third round Serrano was able to land a couple of counters but Torres otherwise took the round. In the fourth and final round Serrano was having his best round countering but Torres would get the rights to the head in having Serrano out on his feet.
Scores were 40-36 twice and 40-34 with this writer having it 40-35. Referee was Clark. The question was did the first round knockdown get overruled? The press is so far back we are almost outside.
The Questionable Career Path of Danny Garcia
By: William Holmes
On September 14th, 2014 Danny Garcia scored one of the biggest wins of his career when he defeated the hard hitting Argentinean Lucas Matthysse by decision to retain his WBA and WBC Super Lightweight World Championship.
Garcia’s biggest win prior to this fight was a stunning knockout over a two loss Amir Khan. The sky was the limit for the Philadelphia prize fighter and many considered him to be the best boxer in the junior welterweight division and Philadelphia’s best world champion since Bernard Hopkins. His other big victories were over faded veterans such as Erik Morales and Zab Judah, but those types of fights were to be expected for a rising boxing superstar trying to establish a name for himself.
However, Garcia’s path to stardom has sputtered since that fight and the opportunities to grow his fan base have largely been ignored or have failed.
Garcia’s first fight after his win against Matthysse took place in Puerto Rico against Mauricio Herrera, an opponent with three losses that many felt Garcia should beat easily. It was thought that Garcia, a Philadelphia native with Puerto Rican decent, would gain more fans by fighting in Puerto Rico and winning impressively. Unfortunately for Garcia and his handlers, he looked lackluster in this bout and squeaked out a decision in a fight that many felt he lost. Herrera threw more punches, landed more punches, and landed them at a higher percentage than Garcia, but somehow still lost the decision.
Garcia failed to capitalize on the momentum from his major victory over Lucas Matthysse.
Five months after that bout Danny Garcia knocked out Rod Salka, a blown up lightweight that was one win removed from a loss against the unheralded Ricardo Alvarez, and who had two other losses to an aged Dorin Spivey and another unknown Guillermo Sanchez. Even though the knockout of Salka was highlight reel material, Garcia and his handlers are still mocked for selling that terrible mismatch to the public.
His next bout was against the always exciting Lamont Peterson in Brooklyn, New York. This was one of Garcia’s most exciting fights, but it was another fight that many felt he lost. Peterson came on strong at the end and looked like the fresher fighter, while Garcia’s face was badly bruised and swollen.
Garcia’s handlers had him fight in Brooklyn several times in order to build up his popularity with the Puerto Rican fan base that resided there, and he was beginning to develop a large following in Brooklyn. But Garcia heard a sound that was foreign to him in Brooklyn when the scorecards were read in his favor after his bout with Peterson…
Danny Garcia heard boos from the Brooklyn crowd.
Garcia had a plethora of good fights that could have been made in the junior welterweight division after his questionable win over Peterson. Adrien Broner also fought for Premier Boxing Champions and would have been a good choice as an opponent. Cross promotional foes such as Terence Crawford or even Timothy Bradley would have made fight fans salivate at thoughts of that matchup.
Even the legendary Manny Pacquiao was brought up by many in boxing circles as a possible future foe for Danny Garcia.
Instead, Garcia chose to fight a six loss Paulie Malignaggi, an excellent talker and great boxing commentator, but he was coming off of a devastating TKO loss to Shawn Porter. Garcia won that bout, but it did nothing to elevate his career.
Even though good options remained for Danny Garcia at the junior welterweight division, he bumped up in weight and took on Robert Guerrero, a man that previously held a featherweight title and had only won two of his previous four fights. One of those wins included a split decision victory over the unheralded Aaron Martinez in a bout that many thought he lost.
Garcia won the fight with Guerrero, but Guerrero went on to lose his next bout to David Peralta, a boxer who’s full time job was that of a cab driver in Argentina.
But despite all of these missteps and uninspiring victories by Danny Garcia, his biggest misstep was announced this week.
Danny Garcia, despite being a WBC Welterweight World Champion, will take part in a tune up fight against Samuel Vargas.
Who’s Samuel Vargas? That’s a good question, because he’s not well known. He played the role of punching bag to Errol Spence Jr. in April of 2015. The same Errol Spence that Danny Garcia said wasn’t ready for him, because Errol Spence had to prove himself to get big names in the ring.
Samuel Vargas’ other loss was to Pablo Munguia. Pablo Munguia has lost six of his past seven bouts, and has been stopped in over half of his eleven losses.
Samuel Vargas has done nothing to prove he belongs in the ring with Danny Garcia.
What’s even more outrageous about this fight is its timing. Boxing is struggling to find and grow new fans, and this is evident in the noticeable decrease in number of boxing gyms nationwide and the lack of boxing on US television in the month of October.
Danny Garcia is a Philadelphia fighter, and Philadelphia is a major player in the sport of boxing. Garcia has not fought in Philadelphia since 2010, and at first glance one would think that letting Garcia fight in front of his home town is a good idea.
Except for there’s another Philadelphia fighter fighting on November 12th, and he holds the UFC Lightweight Title. He’s also fighting the world’s most popular MMA fighter in Connor McGregor, for the first UFC card ever in the media capital of the world, New York City.
There’s no overlap of fans in boxing and MMA amongst the older generations, but you’d be foolish to think an overlap doesn’t exist in the coveted younger demographics. Fight fans under the age of thirty five that live in Philadelphia would pay attention to Danny Garcia fighting in their city on most nights, but not on a night that Eddie Alvarez is fighting McGregor.
You’d also be foolish to think the Philadelphia media won’t cover a local native like Eddie Alvarez taking on the biggest name in the UFC over a bout between Danny Garcia and an unknown in boxing like Samuel Vargas.
That fact alone, defeats the purpose of having Danny Garcia fight in his hometown.
I’m sure the promoters will stack the card with local fighters in an effort to get the local gyms to pack the Liacouras Center at Temple University to make it seem like it’s a triumphant homecoming for Danny Garcia.
But the majority of fight fans in Philadelphia will have their eyes on New York.
Win or lose, this fight for Danny Garcia is already a failure, and just another questionable decision in Danny Garcia’s career.