Deontay Wilder’s Manager Shelly Finkel Feels Anthony Joshua is Dodging the Fight
By: Bryant Romero
Deontay Wilder’s manager Shelly Finkel revealed to the boxing press at the Wilder vs Ortiz post fight press conference that he’s not heard back from promoter Eddie Hearn who represents Anthony Joshua since last November when it comes to further discussions about a potential Joshua vs Wilder fight. Finkel also revealed that no negotiations have ever taken place between the two parties and strongly feels that Joshua and his team are dodging the fight for at least the immediate future. Eddie Hearn has since responded to these claims, and expressed that the reason he stop discussions with Wilder’s team is because of Wilder’s public demand for a 50/50 split and also says that Wilder’s team have never made an attempt or contacted him for a potential Joshua fight.
No matter who’s at fault for the delay of the Joshua vs. Wilder fight, most sane boxing fans don’t care about the back and forth disagreements between fighters handlers. They only want to see the fight at a reasonable time frame when both fighters are still arguably at their peak of their careers. And that is where the focus should be going forward for the teams of both fighters in figuring out the best time to put this fight together. Promoter Eddie Hearn has expressed in numerous interviews that the end of 2018 could be the natural fit for this fight to occur and he may be right.
Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) has never fought in America and if he defeats Joseph Parker later this month to unify three of the four heavyweight straps, there are plans already in place for Joshua to perhaps makes his U.S. debut at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn possibly against Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (20-0-1, 18 KOs). However, the issue with this potential bout is that it sounds a lot like a HBO fight, which could mean Joshua is potentially going to change U.S. broadcasters in the near future.
Joshua switching from Showtime to HBO could further complicate matters in getting a deal done, but the most likely destination of a potential Joshua vs Wilder fight would be in Las Vegas. So it would make sense for Joshua to test out the American market and see what numbers he produces in America prior to a fight with Wilder.
The reality is the boxing world wants to see this fight and Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) did his part in building this fight by taking on the one of the most dangerous contenders in the heavyweight division and defeating Luis “King Kong” Ortiz (28-1, 24 KOs) by 10th rd stoppage in Brooklyn this past Saturday night.
Wilder didn’t’ show great boxing skills, was quite vulnerable throughout the contest, but showed heart, great recovery powers, athleticism, and the ability to close the show when he has his opponent hurt.
Wilder is a threat in the heavyweight division not because of his limited boxing skills, but because of his desire to prove he is the best, his will to win, god gifted athleticism, and one punch knockout power in his right hand. Joshua vs Wilder is finally ripe and ready and it should take place by at least the end of this year, while both are still arguably at the peak of their careers.
Broadway Boxing at Foxwoods Results: Niall Kennedy wins controversial decision
by B.A. Cass
By the time the main event began at just after 11 PM, the crowd at the Foxwood’s Fox Theater had already thinned out. It had been a long night. They had already seen Ireland’s Raymond Moylette win a split decision over Donte Bryant. Next came the pro debuts of Nicholas DeQuattro and Timothy Wheeler. This brief clash made me wonder if both men had prepared for the fight by wearing fake antlers because came at each other headfirst, like woodland beasts. When DeQuattro, a Rhode Island native, scored a second-round knockout, the local crowd got to its feet, and it was hard not to be swept up by their emotion.
Photo Credit: Ed Diller / DiBella Entertianment
The fight between Adrian Sosa and Francisco Medel was a clear mismatch. Medel walked to the ring draped in an old brown towel. Perhaps it had sentimental value, but it made it seem, right from the start, that he was a poor man come for a paycheck. And he looked vastly out of shape when compared to Sosa, who won via a third-round stoppage by the judge. Sosa, a bit of a showboat, could be seen weaving close to the camera before the fight began and did the same to intimidate his opponent when the judge had them touch gloves. After the fight, Sosa donned a ridiculous robe. He then asked for the microphone and awkwardly thanked Lou DiBella for the chance to prove himself. It’s odd to see the sycophantic so closely paired with the egomaniacal, but Sosa had both on display Friday night.
Next came Ievgen Khytrov vs. Derrick Findley, a man who has lost by decision to some decent talent. Derrick tired towards the end, but the younger Khytrov had to exert himself to score a win by UD. Derrick is one of those journeymen who constantly loses and who, at the same time, never quite meets defeat. He deserves respect for that, at the very least.
The most exciting part of the undercard was seeing19-year-old “Marvelous” Mykquan Williams in his face-off against Evincii Dixon. Mykquan’s arms and short dreads twitched as he set up shot after shot. Reminiscent of a young Andre Ward in the way he goes to the body and how is always looking for a way in, Mykquan is a cerebral fighter who doesn’t lack for power or speed. He’s a boxer to follow
The real event of the evening, the fight that the majority of the people had come to see, was Shelley Vincent vs. Angel Gladney. Twelve out of the fifteen people I spoke with said they were there to root for Vincent. Women, men, children—so many people had come to see this five-foot tall, fast-talking boxer get back in the ring with a fighter she had faced earlier in her career. “We were both 118 then. We ain’t 118 anymore,” Vincent told me a week before the fight, laughing. “We’re fighting at 130 now. That’s the weight she could make. It’s way too big for me, but coming off the injury and not being able to train for the two months, it ended up being perfect.”
Vincent was supposed to return to the ring this past June, but she had to back out of the fight due to a car accident that left her with a severe concussion and a ruptured eardrum. And it appeared the time away had affected her, as the first round started off slowly. The crowd was quiet until a singular voice rang out clear above the mumblings: “Tear her a new asshole, Shelly!” Laughter broke out in certain parts of the room. But Vincent seemed to be stalling. She looked to the judge to see if he would make a call against Gladney. He did nothing, and Vincent stomped her foot twice, making the ring shake. “Just box!” Pete Manfredo Sr., Vincent’s trainer, called out. It’s not often you witness fighters yell across the ring to their trainers during a fight, but the always outspoken, always entertaining Vincent did. “She stepped on my foot,” she yelled defensively.
Shelly’s head just didn’t seem to be in the fight. She wasn’t engaging with Gladney. And worse, later in the round, she dropped her hands and stared down the judge as if it to intimidate him into making some kind of call against Gladney. That’s when Jen Salinas, a mother of four who knows how to deal with misbehavior, yelled out, “Focus, Shelley.”
Salinas knows Vincent as few do. They have been sparring partners, lovers, and, though the needs of career and family have separated them physically, they remain deeply connected and always work each other’s corners. Salinas’s words seemed to do the trick. Vincent emerged from that hesitant first round to become the dominant force in the ring, controlling the pace of the fight in her characteristic fashion, which is to say relentlessly. She might have finished Gladney off in the fourth round, if not for the sound of that two-minute bell. Gladney got through it, but the fight was never hers after that.
The main event was an evenly matched fight between Alexis Santos and Niall “Boom Boom” Kennedy. “That’s beu-ti-ful,” Kennedy’s countrymen kept screaming in their Irish brogue, no matter whether Boom Boom landed a punch or got hit. “That’s it! Get’m, Boom Boom!” At one point, Foxwoods security—men and women in cheap, oversized red sports jackets—had to prevent a small Irish contingent from approaching the ring after a vicious exchange between the two fighters. It was at this point that Santos looked back at the belligerent young Irishmen with a worried expression. The hostile, vocal opposition seemed to affect his performance negatively. Santos’ supporters, hailing mostly from the Lawrence area, were vocal though not quite as exuberant as Kennedy’s—at least not until the referee deducted a point from Santos for what he ruled a low blow. The referee also failed to acknowledge the fact that, in the last round, Boom Boom remained standing only with the aid of the ropes. That said, Boom Boom looked like the more collected, focused fighter throughout and because of it, he got a split decision win.
After the fight, when Boom Boom was being interviewed in the ring, the big man mentioned something about how his coach kept setting goalposts and how he kept surpassing them—the kind of forgettable phrase that you hear all too often from athletes. I couldn’t help but think how much more exciting it would be to see Shelly Vincent up there talking in front of the cameras. I’ve never heard her say a commonplace thing yet. She is fiercely intelligent, as aggressive and as wild with her words that she is with her fists. The next time I see her fight, I hope she’ll be the main event.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch
The Real Fight of 2016
by B.A. Cass
The fight between Francisco Vargas and Orlando Salido, which seemed to be just about everyone’s pick for 2016 fight of the year, was certainly a good fight. But thirty seconds into Round One and the two men were already in their first clinch, something that turned into a bizarre twirl. A minute later, Vargas was walking Salido back as if they were partners in an intermediate ballroom dance class. Yes, there were moments of intense onslaught by both men, and yes, the majority of the fight was brutal and entertaining. However, it was nowhere near as thrilling as the best fights of the past.
Over the week I watched nineteen fights, both female and male, from 2016. I had originally intended to watch twenty-four, but five of the female fights were not available online. (Click this link to get the full list of the fights I watched: http://bit.ly/2x65wKk.) I had two criteria for judging these matches. The first was that the opponents had to be well matched, meaning no early round knockouts or clear domination. The second was that that the fight had to be thrilling from beginning to end. This, unfortunately, disqualified Amanda Serrano, who KO’d Olivia Gerula in the first round of their fight. And while it was a pleasure watch the skilled Jelena Mrdjenovic, she was the more talented fighter in both her fights that I watched. On the male side, I was impressed by all of what I saw except by the Dillian Whyte vs. Dereck Chisora fight, which seemed to me just like two really big guys punching each other in slow-motion.
And while I was deeply impressed by the Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santo Cruz bout (I gave it runner up), one fight stood out from all the rest. And that’s Heather Hardy vs. Shelly Vincent, my pick for “2016 Fight of the Year.”
The public animosity between these two fighters has been well-documented. Vincent spent years trying to secure a fight with Hardy, going so far as to show up at Hardy’s fights to taunt and ridicule her. Their fans exchanged vicious words. Hardy’s mother may have even been involved in a physical altercation with Vincent at The Roseland Ballroom, though that has not been confirmed. In other words, this was the real deal, an epic fight three years in the making.
But put aside all that, and put aside the historic nature of the fight. (It was the first female boxing match televised in the US in over 20 years.) In fact, put aside everything and anything that didn’t take place in the ring that night at Coney Island’s Ford Amphitheater because it was, from beginning to end, a spectacular fight. There was no clinching, not a single moment when either fighter tried to save energy. Hardy and Vincent simply gave everything they had from the first bell to the last.
The New York based Hardy won by split-decision, which didn’t surprise Vincent, who had traveled from Providence to take the fight. “It being in New York, I knew from the gate that unless I knocked her out, I wasn’t going to get a W over there,” Vincent recently told me. “I had it six rounds to four. And two rounds she beat me. I admit that. She beat me those two rounds. But clearly I dominated. I kept moving forward.”
Devon Cormack, Hardy’s trainer, obviously doesn’t agree with Vincent’s analysis: “At no point did I feel Heather was losing the fight,” he told me over the phone. “She made the adjustments as the fight went on, more than Shelly did.” Still, Cormack acknowledges that it was close. “It wasn’t a perfect thing having a split decision, but I didn’t think it was that far removed, which is why I thought it made for an excellent fight.”
Vincent’s trainer, Pete Manfredo Sr., can’t figure out why there hasn’t been a rematch. All he knows is that it should have been done already. “It was the fight of the night, and it even had Errol Spence on the card that night. I thought Vincent/Hardy was a much better fight for the crowd, even the television crowd.”
Let’s be honest, though: if a rivalry like this occurred between two male boxers and their much-anticipated, widely-viewed fight ended in a close, split-decision win, the rematch would have already happened.
Still, Hardy remains hopeful for the future of women’s boxing. “If you put Holly Holm with someone like a Katie Taylor, or one with Cecilia Brækhus, that would be a huge money fight—maybe not in America but it would be a huge money fight because so much of the country follows MMA. Even when I had my first MMA fight, I got tens of thousands of new followers. I was on the MMA radio show with Ariel Hawani and like a hundred people had tweeted it out. And so the more public demand, the more popular it gets, the easier it will be.”
Let’s hope Hardy is right. Let’s hope that the gods of the boxing world come together and align the stars to make this rematch happen. In the meantime, you can see Shelly Vincent fight in person at the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino on September 15th. (Buy your tickets here: http://bit.ly/ShellyVincent). And, though her opponent has yet to be announced, Heather Hardy is set to return for her second Bellator fight on October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch
Female Fighters Bring Some Much Needed Excitement To The Sport Of Boxing
Female Fighters Bring Some Much Needed Excitement To The Sport Of Boxing
By: Sean Crose
I had the pleasure of watching one of the best televised fights of the year this weekend. It went down at Coney Island and unfortunately was relegated to the NBC Sports Network. That’s too bad, because the brawl I witnessed between featherweights Heather Hardy and Shelly Vincent was an all-out war, comparable in action to the much applauded Conor McGregor – Nate Diaz UFC match a day earlier. Watching the tide perpetually change between Hardy and Vincent this weekend, I kept thinking how ridiculous it is for people to claim boxing is dead. For what went on at Coney Island was, for lack of a more academic term, terrific stuff.
Truth be told, I’m not even sure who I think really won – though the decision went to Hardy. Looks like I’ll have to watch it again. In the meantime, let me bring up another female fighter who deserves all kinds of praise now that the Rio Olympics have come and gone. For America’s Claressa Shields has now won not one, but two Olympic gold medals. What’s more, she’s the first American boxer, male or female, to ever do so. After being adorned with her second gold in Rio, Shields took the first gold medal she won out of her pocket (she got that one in London back in 2012) and placed it on her shoulders along with her newest hard earned prize.
There she was, an American boxer, standing on the podium with not one, but two gold medals around her neck. If that doesn’t tell fight fans something, I’m not sure what does. Truth be told, female boxers have essentially told us fans these past few days that things aren’t always as bad as they seem. While it appears that many – though certainly not all – male boxers have taken to playing it safe, their female counterparts appear to be daring to be great.
Back to Sunday evening. Engaging with “Boxing Twitter” while watching the Hardy-Vincent bout, I noticed fight followers doing something they aren’t generally apt to do – publicly show their appreciation for the combatants. The typical online snideness seemed to have vanished as Hardy and Vincent traded one shot after another. All that was left was a sense of “wow, this is a great match.” Someone even wondered in one hundred and forty characters why women fighters aren’t getting more exposure in the fight world right now.
It was a good question. The sport really needs competitors like Shields, Vincent and Hardy. After all, action, and gold medals, go a long way.