After two years of talking, the wait is almost over and Vanes Martirosyan will finally fight Cuban star Erislandy Lara. Two highly-ranked junior middleweight contenders, Lara and Martirosyan will put everything on the line in a 12 round WBC super welterweight world title elimination fight that will headline the Saturday, November 10 edition of HBO Boxing After Dark at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. from the Lafite Ballroom at Wynn, Las Vegas.
“The fight is almost here and the fans are in for a great night of action,” said the number one rated WBC contender who has wanted to corner the trash-talking Martirosyan in the ring since 2010. “My goal is to punish Vanes in this fight because he’s been talking so much trash. This fight has been a long time in coming and I’m going to make him pay for his disrespect.
“I’m extremely focused and mentally prepared to give fans a great performance on November 10,” continued Lara. “I’ve worked hard my entire life to get into position to fight for a world championship and Martirosyan stands in my way. Like all Cuban fighters, we bring a lot of heart and soul into the ring and this fight will be no different. I’m coming to establish myself as the best super welterweight in the world.
“This fight is dedicated to all those who are suffering and have lost their lives to Hurricane Sandy including the 11 Cubans who were killed by the storm,” continued Lara. “My prayers go out to all of their families. God Bless!”
Oscar de la Hoya said: “I’m excited to see Lara show his skills on November 10th against Martirosyan. This fight has been a long time coming and we’re excited it is finally happening. I have full confidence that Lara will come out victorious and make a statement that he is a force in the 154 pound weight class.”
Lara’s manager Luis DeCubas Jr added: “Lara and Martirosyan are two of the top fighters at 154 pounds. I can guarantee they will put on a great show for everyone watching on HBO. Lara is ready to show the world he’s the best fighter in the division. The winner of this fight will be in a great position and that will be Erislandy Lara!”
A decorated member of the renowned Cuban amateur boxing program, 29-year-old Erislandy Lara (17-1-1, 11ko) is one of the most respected-and avoided-fighters in the world today.
In 2011, Lara was on the short end of one of boxing’s most controversial decisions in a July 2011 loss against Paul Williams after which all three judges were suspended indefinitely. Undeterred, the slick and powerful southpaw rebounded in 2012 with a 94 second technical knockout win over Ronald Hearns and a ten-round decision victory over Freddy Hernandez.
Now he looks forward to his upcoming November 10 title elimination bout against number two rated WBC super welterweight contender Vanes Martirosyan (32-0, 20ko), a 26-year-old Californian who is coming off of a third round technical knockout win over Troy Lowry in February.
Alan Dawson – London
Questionable judging has long dogged boxing. It is almost common to see at least one high-profile contentious decision a month; one that arouses the ire of the defeated fighter, the boxing industry and fight fans in general. Last weekend was no different as Steve Cunningham and Gabriel Campillo were dubiously out-pointed by Yoan Pablo Hernandez and Karo Murat. On The Beak caught up with renowned boxing judge Harold Lederman to debate the issue of reform.
In an official capacity, Lederman has provided the scoring for world title fights involving Vitali Klitschko, Marco Antonio Barrera, Nigel Benn, Evander Holyfield, Julio Cesar Chavez, Larry Holmes, Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali. In 1999 he retired yet continues to work for HBO where, for over 575 televised prizefights, he has broadcast his score and take on the night’s action speaking in his distinctive New York accent that was made to air.
What are the main things Lederman, an experienced amateur and professional judge, looks for in any fight?
“You want to see who landed the clean punches – that’s 90 percent of scoring,” he said, concisely. “If you can punch you have an advantage over a boxer. Paul Malignaggi is a boxer, Yuri Foreman is a boxer… they have to win decisively and not get hit to win a fight against a guy who is a big banger. You want to see who is the more effective aggressor, who showed better ring generalship and defence, who blocks more punches and who slips more punches, but clean punching is 90 percent.”
Easy to talk to, I got the impression that Harold could have chatted boxing all night with me. A clear lover of the sport, Lederman had no qualms on providing me with an education on why it is not the judging system that needs to be reformed but, rather, the actual appointment of scorers at ringside.
“I don’t see how much more they can do, except… it’s the appointment of officials that is very important,” the World Boxing Hall of Fame inductee said exclusively to On The Beak. “When you have a high profile fight whether that’s Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury or Victor Ortiz and Floyd Mayweather, you take the best three judges. In boxing, they do the opposite! They sometimes have inexperienced guys [at world championship fights].
“They need to be more careful about who you put in. You can give new guys a chance but you have to work your way up. Inexperience can lead to bad decisions. If they watch the appointments more carefully, they’re made because the sanctioning bodies [WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO] want to use their people. With high profile fights, like Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye, you have the three best judges regardless of sanctioning bodies they are affiliated with and that’s the end of the story. Controversial fights are scored because of the appointments.”
Controversial scoring is not exclusive to one country. While Cunningham and Campillo appeared to be duped out of a deserved win in Germany, there have been just as questionable decisions scored in England (Obodai Sai versus Jamie Cox), Northern Ireland (Breidis Prescott against Paul McCloskey) and the United States (Lucas Matthysse versus Devon Alexander and, most infamously of late, Erislandy Lara against Paul Williams).
Key – Total punches landed/thrown per round. Source: Compubox
|Total Punches||Jabs||Power Punches|
Key – Final Compubox stats.
In each of those cases, it was the home fighter who benefited from the decision. I asked Harold whether factors such as crowd noise can affect the judging: “Let me tell you something… judges are human,” he said. “There’s no doubt that judges hear the crowd. Any judge that says they don’t hear it – they’re lying!
“You’re always going to hear the yelling and the screaming, it’s close, they might lean toward the home name… it’s part of the game. Judges try like heck to be honest but the truth of the matter is you’re always subject to what’s going on in the background and it may take some effect but will they effect the judge to make a really bad decision, you follow what I’m saying? [Regardless of the noise level it] shouldn’t sway the judging from making a good decision to a bad decision.”
In the cases of the aforementioned contests, despite winning by a tight or sometimes just an inaccurate score, the victor is elevated to a healthy position in the global rankings while the recorded loser has to go back to a position where they are, effectively, pushed back one year, perhaps two. In that space of time they have to take a fight, two fights, maybe three, taking 200, 400 or 600 clean punches in the face or body in order to get back to the position they were in – that high profile fight.
The fact that incompetent judging can send a fighter through an unnecessary physically grueling schedule is one of the main catalysts for the calls of reform and, with the rise of technology, scoring systems like Compubox have become increasingly popular as a way of determining who was the more effective puncher in terms of punches thrown, landed and accuracy – but not in terms of damage.
“Let me tell you something… HBO uses Compubox,” began Lederman in response to whether boxing would miss the human element of judging if it was replaced with technology. “It’s fun for fans watching the fight at home but it shouldn’t effect the scoring of the fight.
“Paul Williams is gonna throw 100 punches every round but the question is: do his punches really mean that much? Do they do that much damage? Against Lara without question, anyone at ringside or at home could tell that Lara was landing the cleaner, more effective and the more solid shots. He did more damage for nine out of the 12 rounds and, at the end of the day, that’s what you’re there to judge – who hurt who more in that round? And that’s who you give the score to.
“Compubox systems are fun but their statistic doesn’t necessarily provide you with who won that round,” warned Lederman.
“I don’t see Compubox numbers until the start of the next round,” added Harold. “It’s a tremendous addition to the sport, though. Everyone can appreciate them but, you gotta remember, the guys who count the punches are subject to the same thing the judges are. The ref may get in the way and the guy might have his back to you. The aggressor… you can’t count what you can’t see. You have to take that into consideration. Compubox is really good but it shouldn’t replace the judge.”
Harold was equally opposed to a compromise of two human judges and a computer: “I like what we have now,” he maintained. “Three human judges.”
He concluded: “The situation is… the way we have it now is the best way.”
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Following Andre Berto‘s thumping world championship win over erstwhile IBF welterweight titlist Jan Zaveck in Biloxi, Mississippi on Saturday, September 3, HBO broadcaster, journalist and boxing analyst Max Kellerman offered his stance on the criticism that is oft leveled against fighters represented by Al Haymon and the power that he has at HBO Sports. Kellerman claimed it is unfair to target the fighters in question.
“There is a character in this story – you heard the name of Al Haymon mentioned with both victorious fighters,” Kellerman explained to viewers of HBO Sports at the weekend following the triumphs of Berto and Gary Russell Jr over their respective opponents Zaveck and Leonilo Miranda.
“Al Haymon is a manager, an adviser… a power broker in boxing and there’s a backlash I think, at times, against Al Haymon fighters because he seems to wield an influence that is out of proportion with others in boxing.
“He’s able to get one of his fighters [Russell Jr] an eight round fight, practically unheard of on HBO, against an over-matched opponent [Miranda]. It was a fight that usually wouldn’t have been seen on HBO. Andre Berto – for years – had been criticised for not fighting top opposition and hand-picking… Andre Berto is not hand-picking, he’ll fight anyone, that’s the people around Andre Berto being careful. And so there has been a backlash against Haymon fighters which is deserved in one way but in another way is kinda unfair to the fighters.”
Kellerman then turned to the specific performances that each fighter produced. Russell Jr (18-0-0, 10ko) showcased phenomenal hand-speed and combination-work to win every round against Miranda, the only thing lacking from his bout was the stoppage. Berto (28-1-0, 22ko), meanwhile, engaged in a brutal affair that saw both fighters cut, marked-up and bruised by the time the fifth round had closed and a corner stoppage ensured the Floridian fighter leave Biloxi with the IBF version of the championship at 147lbs.
“We saw two different kinds of fights on HBO,” mused Kellerman. “We saw an exhibition from a brilliant young fighter in Gary Russell Jr who may be too good to be tested by anyone except for the elite – we don’t know until he fights ten or twelve rounds against better opposition.
“And then we saw a fighter who may not ever crack the very top of the pound-for-pound lists; Andre Berto, unless those pound-for-pound lists are for the most exciting fighters in the sport which, it seems, he’s developing into.
“He has not been able to connect with an American fight crowd for various reasons but I don’t think those reasons will any longer include – not that they ever should have – the quality of fights he puts on because Berto is a fun fighter to watch.”
Alan Dawson – London
American Boxing standout Gary Russell lived up to his reputation as one to watch as his swift fists, stinging eight-punch combinations and unrelenting aggression overcame overmatched Mexican featherweight Leonilo Miranda in a non-title, eight round contest at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Mississippi on Saturday, September 3. Russell outworked Miranda by a four to one ratio and landed 45 percent of his punches.
Judges verdict: Unanimous decision to Gary Russell.
The headlining bout on the Mississippi card was dubbed the Battle in Biloxi but the chief support on the televised undercard, between Russell and Miranda was a battle of two kinds: between southpaws and of the jab. Russell, though, did not take long to declare his superiority as both his hand speed and combination work had Miranda backing up. Moments later, he caught the Mexican with uppercuts, hooks and straights.
In round two, it was clear Russell could panic his opponent when he trapped him against the ropes. In his attempt to score points, Miranda would dart into the inside, launch three-punch combos and motion back to the outside, however, Russell landed textbook double portside jabs. The left cross that was introduced by his right hand jab was also forceful.
Miranda had stopped 30 of the 35 opponents who he had fought prior to Russell but any power he had left the American unaffected. He simply didn’t respect it as he boxed his own, technically-classy, game. Miranda raised his guard and kept it stiff in order to prevent Russell’s shots sneaking through. But, when it came to offence, the 28-year-old from Sonora offered very little.
It took little time for Russell, in green trunks with white trim, to get to work in the fourth round as he pinned Miranda against the turnbuckle and bombarded the body. To compound Miranda’s problems, Russell moved into a higher gear as he enhanced his power and begin flurrying in six to eight punch combos. Each of the moves were all introduced with the jab and included bodywork.
In round five, Russell again punched in bunches and rose cheers from the Gulf of Mexico audience by stringing together eight punches in a matter of seconds in a single move. When Miranda attempted to crowd Russell, the American would simply pick his shots, land jabs and coast to a ten score. Miranda seemed loathe to let his fists go with the venom that his record warranted.
Russell almost secured a stoppage win when he pummeled Miranda with relentless shots without reply in the opening minute of the sixth round. Miranda was caught on the ropes, the referee took a closer look but the Mexican eventually moved away from the danger zone after taking countless shots. A cut had opened near Miranda’s right eye and Russell saw the round out with three-punch combos. Miranda returned to his blue corner breathing heavily and was blatantly deflated.
Russell forced Miranda’s head back with authoritative jabs in the seventh round. Russell sent a right hook to Miranda’s body and followed that up by locating his chin with his left fist. Russell was effectively toying with Miranda in what could have been a glorified sparring session as he was not marked, not cut, parried Miranda’s weakened shots with ease and flurried whenever he desired. He had the control… the ring was his.
Miranda planted his feet at the beginning of the eighth and final round as he covered up while Russell peppered him with a six-punch combo. Miranda attempted to throw back, but he had so little left in the tank that they had little snap to them and were easily blocked by Russell’s forearms. Russell, in contrast, was well conditioned and could have gone on to box a ten-rounder. Russell finished the round, and the contest, with Miranda pinned against the ropes taking relentless shots all over his body.
It was a dominant and impressive performance from Russell who had showcased exceptional talent and promise against Miranda, the only thing lacking was the knockout, however, the win was so good, his combination-work so awesome that it need not matter. With the win, Russell’s record was enhanced to 18-0-0, 10ko while Miranda’s resume had a further blemish on it – 32-4-0, 30ko.
Alan Dawson – London
Thomas Oosthuizen boxed terrifically on alien terrain for the first time in his fledgling professional career as the South African’s unrelenting aggression, sustained body-attack and combination-punching oversaw Aaron Pryor Jr at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Mississippi on Saturday, September 3. Oosthuizen preserved his undefeated record, maintained his IBO championship and looked a tremendous prospect in a super middleweight division saturated with top talent.
Judges verdict: 117-111, 117-111, 117-111, unanimous decision to Oosthuizen.
Pryor Jr represented Oosthuizen’s most difficult examination in his 16-professional fights as, even though he was the champion of the IBO belt, he had not been matched with well-ranked contenders in the super middleweight division. Both men register 6’4 and so Pryor Jr was also Oosthuizen’s tallest opponent to date.
Oosthuizen jabbed to both the head and the body in the opening stanza and duped Pryor Jr sufficiently with his portside stance. In the first minute of the second round, Oosthuizen clouted Pryor Jr with heavy leather. He slipped a right hand from Pryor Jr and countered with a looping left which flung the American off-balance and into defence-mode.
Tommy Gun shot piercing blows to Aaron’s body as he grew in confidence having damaged his adversary’s armour. Oosthuizen’s punch variety was also on display as he landed jabs, left hands and uppercuts.
Pyror Jr scored with an accurate three-punch move in the opening minute of the third round, however, Oosthuizen’s feint of head and general bodily rhythm set up a punishing return blow as he landed a left hand flush on Pryor Jr’s face.
One of the greatest weapons an orthodox fighter can call upon when boxing a southpaw is the right cross, yet it was not one Pryor Jr used enough as he predominantly boxed backwards – the forward motions largely made by the visiting fighter who took his game out of South Africa for the first time in his career.
In the fourth round, Oosthuizen used good movement to back away from any Pryor Jr attack. It was Oosthuizen who controlled the distance, and fought from the range that he wanted to, even though Pryor Jr’s wingspan exceeded Oosthuizen’s by a minimum of six inches.
Oosthuizen doubled-up on his overhand left by the end of the second minute of the round and, when he sought to take the fight to the inside, Pryor Jr either pushed his opponent back or clinched. Oosthuizen finished the round with an eye-catching six-punch flurry.
Pryor Jr followed the instruction from his corner and began to utilise his jab more often in the fifth round, however, every time he landed one, he’d take two shots in return as the fast hands and accuracy of Oosthuizen punished him. Despite coming off second best in each and all of early rounds, Pryor Jr remained game.
Pryor Jr, breathing heavy, had his best minute of the fight at the start of the sixth as he landed the right hand and also scored with a one-two punch combo. Oosthuizen produced good defensive blocking by adopting a Philly-shell in order to thwart a rallied Pryor Jr’s onslaught. With 30 seconds remaining on the round clock, Oosthuizen powered a left cross upstairs.
Oosthuizen began the seventh round with a jab, left cross and right hook combination. And, to his credit, also started throwing shots from awkward low angles, with his right in particular.
Pryor Jr found success with his overhand right which he landed twice in the middle of the round. The right hand began to land more often as Oosthuizen almost became defenceless against the shot. Thomas, though, began targeting the body – most likely because he was aware that Pryor Jr was becoming increasingly fatigued.
Oosthuizen sent left hands crashing into Pryor Jr’s midsection in the eighth round while Aaron tied up with more regularity and his jab became half-hearted. Pryor Jr danced around the periphery of the ring in order to escape Oosthuizen’s unrelenting attack.
Oosthuizen opened round nine by jabbing Pryor Jr’s body. When he shot low, though, he opened up his head and Pryor Jr was able to tag his braincase. Oosthuizen forced a slowing Pryor Jr into a neutral corner as he continued the body-attack and left cross to the head. Midway through the round, Oosthuizen chased Pryor Jr around the ring. In the final minute, the two went toe-to-toe briefly as they exchanged power shots. Before long, Pryor Jr again clinched. Oosthuizen returned to his corner with a bloodied nose.
Pryor Jr started the tenth well and landed a decent hook. By the final minute it was Pryor Jr who had reversed the action as he forced Oosthuizen onto the back-foot for near enough the first time in the contest. The reigning IBO titlist, though, finished the round well. A jab and overhand right opened up an angry cut on the right brow of Oosthuizen.
The composure that had been synonymous with Oosthuizen’s game had been taken away from him in the penultimate round and it may well have been the cut that had given him concern. When on the inside, Oosthuizen caught Pryor Jr with a half cross but Aaron finally controlled the distance and used his reach well to go to work on Oosthuizen’s cut.
In the final round, Oosthuizen may have been bleeding and swollen but he had controlled the fight for the majority of the contest, looked superior with his combination punching and body-attack and only needed to see the twelfth round out in order to secure a decision. Oosthuizen’s condition wasn’t in question as, despite boxing for over half an hour, he still had enough intuition to execute sterling head movement that evaded Pryor Jr’s head-focused offence. Like he had done in the majority of the rounds, Oosthuizen finished strongly as he landed flurries.
The victory for Oosthuizen was just and he rose to 16-0-1, 11ko, however, even in defeat Pryor Jr produced an honest performance. The 33-year-old, though, found his groove too late and saw his record drop to 16-3-0, 11ko.
Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
American southpaw Robert Guerrero is gunning for a world title in his third weight division as he attempts to strap the WBA super lightweight world championship belt around on his waist on Saturday, August 27 when he takes on headhunting Argentine Marcos Maidana. Guerrero has labeled himself a “throwback fighter” due to his desire to challenge the elite in any division between lightweight (135lbs) and welterweight (147lbs).
“All I do is go out there and fight those who are willing to step in the ring with me,” Guerrero, who already has a dominant win over game lightweight gatekeeper Michael Katsidis this year, told Boxing Talk. “Competing and winning world titles in multiple divisions is something I don’t see many fighters doing, if I keep winning, no one can take that away from me,” added the 28-year-old who fights at the super lightweight cut-off of 140lbs for the first time in his career at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.
A two-weight world champion having won major honours as both a featherweight and super featherweight, Guerrero (28-1-1, 18ko) began attracting plaudits as a pound-for-pound player due to his ability to add interim belts at lightweight to his locker.
“The cream always rises to the top and sooner or later everyone will have to accept what I’ve accomplished,” said the man dubbed The Ghost. “I feel I have the skills to compete with anyone at super lightweight and welterweight. I have a big frame and one of the best nutritionist in boxing – Bob Santos. He knows my body and can keep my weight right there with everyone.”
Guerrero leaves a lightweight division saturated with talent in order to pursue fights at super lightweight, however, he claimed to Fight Hype that although “there was business to take care of at 135lbs” there was “nobody” there who “wanted [to do] business with him.”
He continued: “I was also looking for that big fight out there. At 140lbs and 147… that’s where the fights are.”
When probed as to whether he was looking to emulate fighters like Paul Williams, who fluctuated between welterweight and middleweight depending on where the next available fight was, Guerrero responded by saying he must first not become complacent over his most immediate task – dismantling Maidana.
“I’ll just take care of business on the 27th and see what happens from there. If the opportunity presents itself at 147, I’m taking it. I’m excited to be right in the mix and be one of the top elite fighters. It’s nice, not just for myself, but for the fans.”
Guerrero also was swift to add that he would not rule out returning to lightweight should a match-up with one of the world champions of the division materialise. He said: “If the fight [with Juan Manuel Marquez] comes up, hey, let’s do it. I don’t blame him for taking the [Manny] Pacquiao fight.
“He was being cautious because he might get the Pacquiao fight so I don’t blame him. If it presents itself later, let’s do it. I’m one of those throwback fighters where I want to fight the best to be the best. That’s what I’m looking for. That’s why I went up to 140 to fight Maidana.”