Alan Dawson – London
The spirit of the late Emanuel Steward was evident at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City this evening as his long-time Kronk Gym heavyweight pupil Johnathon Banks secured a jaw-dropping second round knockout over highly-heralded HBO-product Seth Mitchell. On Saturday, November 17, Banks dropped Mitchell three times, won the vacant WBC international title, propelled himself into a final eliminator and punctuated a month that saw him guide Wladimir Klitschko to victory over Mariusz Wach last weekend.
Official verdict: Banks by 2nd Rd KO.
As early as the opening round there were considerable gaps in terms of physicality; namely, Mitchell (25-1-1, 19ko) appeared to have it and Banks (29-1-1, 19ko) didn’t. Midway through the stanza, Mitchell believed he had Banks hurt with a series of thudding shots (with a hook doing the most damage) but Banks showed a great rate of recovery – something one would expect from a fighter who has regularly served as a sparring partner for unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Mitchell attempted to start the second round like he finished the first, rushed in but abandoned defence and leaked jabs from Banks. A strong body shot from Mitchell set up a shocking turn of events as Banks retreated to the ropes, inviting his opponent into a trap, landed a counter combination that left the former Michigan linebacker down on the floor and receiving a count. Dazed and confused, Mitchell made it to his feet but when boxing resumed he fought, rather than looked to survive the round. Banks’s overhand rights were Mitchell’s undoing and Seth slumped hard to the canvas. Again, he rose to his feet but an overhand right dropped Mitchell a third time and the referee waved the bout off, providing Banks with a stunning smash-and-grab upset victory.
“The role of Emanuel Steward played into my life, fighting is my life,” said Banks to HBO after his win. “I want to dedicate this to him because the man loved knockouts and we’re going to miss him.
“I knew I had a very strong and determined guy in front of me. He got a go get em mentality. I felt when I hit him, I hurt him and he didn’t hold like he should have. He grabbed my waist and didn’t tie up my arms. All that’s running through my head is the momentum I got but I’m so thankful for Emanuel Steward, he taught me everything about boxing.”
Photo credit: Michaelsterlingeaton.com
Unified (WBA, WBO, IBF, IBO) heavyweight world championship challenger Mariusz Wach has height, reach and weight advantages over defending champion Wladimir Klitschko at the 02 World Arena in Hamburg, Germany on Saturday, November 10 as the unheralded Pole scaled in at 251lbs to Klitschko’s 247lbs during the official weigh-in earlier today. Wach is almost two clear inches taller than his adversary and has a one inch greater wingspan, also.
On The Beak – Admin
Based on his last five fights, super middleweight contender Adonis Stevenson (18-1-0, 15ko) is beginning to live up to his nickname, Superman. Stevenson, his promoter, Yvon Michel, as well as his Hall of Fame manager/trainer, Emanuel Steward, believe he’s ready to fight any of the 168-pound top ten fighters/champions having already slayed Noe Gonzalez, Jesus Gonzales and Aaron Pryor Jr in his three most recent outings.
Stevenson’s display case is even threatening to collapse from the added weight of all his stored title belts: (reigning) WBC Silver, IBF Inter-Continental, NABA, NABO, plus the WBC International, WBC Continental Americas, and Canadian straps Adonis formerly held.
All he’s missing now is a world title belt, something he hopes to acquire this year, given a legitimate shot to challenge. Superman is qualified to fight any of the world super middleweight champions as a world-rated contender in each of the four major governing bodies: number two with the IBF, three with the WBC and seven with both the WBA and WBO.
The dream match for the Haitian-born Stevenson, who lives in the Montreal of Longueuill, is, of course, a showdown in Montreal with IBF champion Lucian Bute but the long-reigning world titlist is making a defense on May 26 against Carl Froch. Super WBA and WBC champion Andre Ward is practically locked into a fight with WBC light heavyweight title-holder Chad Dawson, likely in September.
“My goal is to become world champion,” Stevenson said. “I don’t care who I fight for the world title… Bute, Ward or any world champion. I want to prove that I’m the best super middleweight in the world. I have the best trainer in the world, Manny Steward, and he’s trained me to be much more than just a big puncher.
“I’ve improved a lot since I’ve been with him and I’m using my speed and movement to become more of a complete fighter. If none of the world champions are willing to fight me, I’ll continue improving, fighting top ten opponents, hopefully in a title eliminator, until I become a mandatory challenger.”
Michel added: “Adonis Stevenson has proven that he’s one of the best super middleweights in the world. He’s better than ever since he teamed up with Manny. We know that he’s ready for anybody and is the most deserving contender.
“If the WBC is seeking a replace for injured number one rated Anthony Dirrell, ‘Superman’ is ready to fight in a title eliminator against anybody. It’s only matter of time before ‘Superman’ adds a world title to his belt collection.”
On The Beak – Admin
Irish Kronk middleweight star, Andy Lee (28-1-0, 20ko) is seeking a world title shot against WBC middleweight world champion, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (45-0-1, 31ko) on June 16 at the Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas. The hungry fighter is presently listed in the top five of three of the four major world sanctioning bodies and following a 13 fight winning streak feels he has paid his dues to challenge for a world title on June 16.
In the last six months Lee has seen boxers like Martin Murray, Darren Barker, Matthew Macklin, Peter Manfredo Jr and Marco Antonio Rubio all challenge for world titles and the Irishman now wants his chance. Following Julio Cesar Chavez Jr’s successful second title defence of his WBC belt against Marco Antonio Rubio on February 4, Andy Lee was in the frame to fight Chavez Jr in June.
Team Lee, Chavez Jr’s US promoter Top Rank CEO Bob Arum and HBO Boxing all agreed to the fight in principle. Then during February, Team Chavez changed their minds on Lee as an opponent as the reason being was that they were alleged to be reluctant for Chavez Jr to fight Lee because of his southpaw style.
Team Lee is clear they want the fight and think the fight makes good sporting and business sense for all parties. They feel for a world champion with nearly 50 fights not wanting to fight a challenger because of his southpaw style is a pretty lame excuse at this level of the sport.
Lee commented: “I would relish the opportunity to fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for the WBC title on June 16. I’m ready and available, let’s make the fight. It would be a tough fight but I believe I have the skills to beat him and end his reign as champion. The Irish and Mexican people like a good fight, so let’s get it on.”
When Chavez Jr fought Sebastian Zbik for the world title on June 4, 2011, it successfully drew 1.5 million viewers on HBO and, with over 40 million people in the US of Irish descent, a Chavez Jr v Lee title bout has the potential to boost these viewing figures significantly and generate substantial revenue for fighters, promoters and broadcasters.
Lee’s manager and trainer Emanuel Steward commented: “Andy has established himself has an entertaining fighter in America and Europe. I think a fight between Andy and Julio would be a great fight; they are two young fighters burning with ambition and have a track record of being in exciting fights. Andy is the most prominent and visible middleweight contender resident in the United States at this time; it makes good sporting and business sense for HBO and promoters to make the fight between Andy and Julio.”
Team Lee is confident that a deal can be made with Top Rank, Team Chavez and HBO soon if Top Rank want to re-engage in discussions. There are no other opponents out there for Chavez Jr. to fight that have the credentials that Andy Lee brings to the table. Lee commented: “I have been patiently waiting for my opportunity and now that the dust has settle in the first quarter of 2012 there should be different options emerging for me to challenge for a world title. I strongly feel I deserve my shot. I have worked hard in the last six years and with dedication and perseverance got myself positioned as a legitimate world title contender.
I now have my sights fixed on fighting not just Julio Cesar Chavez Jr but also other champions such as Sergio Martinez, Daniel Geale or Felix Sturm. I am gunning for all of them. I am looking to square off with any one of those guys in the ring within the next three to six months. I am a prize-fighter, that is what I do for a living and why I came to America. I am driven by the ambition to be successful in my career and become world champion. I take that task very seriously; I have dedicated my life to boxing and made a lot of sacrifices.”
Emanuel Steward believes his fighter has all the tools to become world champion. Steward commented: “Andy came to the Kronk Gym, Detroit six years ago following a successful amateur career, an U19 World Silver Medalist in 2002 and Athens Olympian in 2004. He has had almost 30 fights as a pro, he is at the top of the world rankings and at the age of 27 he is in the prime of his life. Andy has earned his place to challenge for a world title. He is an exciting fighter who can box, fight in the trenches and can bang with either hand.
“We are primed and ready to fight for a world title when the opportunity arises.”
Lee’s other world championship targets are:
Sergio Martinez – WBC Diamond champion and The Ring magazine world champion
A fight with Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28ko) could prove straight forward to book as both fighters share the same promoter (DiBella Entertainment Inc.). Martinez, from Buenos Aires, Argentina turned 37-years-old on February 21, 2012 and despite the years on the clock, is a phenomenal athlete. The Argentine is a slick and skilful counter-puncher who can punch effectively and has impressively produced four knockout victories in his last four fights against Paul Williams, Serhiy Dzinziruk, Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin.
Lee believes his youth, physical size, aggressive technical boxing style and power can beat Martinez.
Daniel Geale – IBF world champion
Daniel Geale (27-1-0, 15ko) became IBF Champion on May 7, 2011 with a split points decision win over Germany’s Sebastian Sylvester and since then has successful defended his title twice, most recently on March 7 against Osumanu Adama. Geale from New South Wales, Australia is a very skilful technical boxer, with a good work ethic, but limited power. Geale’s handlers recently declared their goal of taking Geale to America this year. Gary Shaw, Geale’s US promoter, could make a match with Lee and for the fight to be broadcast by HBO Boxing or Showtime.
Lee fancies his chances in a fight against the 31-year-old Geale and feels he has the strength, power and ring craft to beat him.
Felix Sturm – ‘Super’ WBA world champion
The 33-year-old German; Felix Sturm (36-2-2, 15ko) has had 11 successful title defences of his WBA belt since winning it on April 28, 2007 against Spain’s Javier Castillejo. Sturm has a great jab, good defence and is a strategic thinking fighter who knows how to devise a plan to win a fight.
Not a power puncher, he is an experienced fighter and now promotes himself to sell-out venues in Germany. With some recent lacklustre defences, time is running out for Sturm and it is only a matter of time before he gets beaten. Sturm is a faded fighter, covering up in most of the rounds and fighting only in spurts of action. Sturm’s next fight will be on April 13, 2012 against Sebastian Zbik.
Lee is no stranger to Germany having fought there on the Klitschko Shows several times and would be up for traveling to Germany to fight Sturm or for the German to go to Ireland or America for the fight.
On The Beak – Admin
Andy Lee, Irish Kronk middleweight contender, will headline a ‘Pre-St Patrick’s Day Brawl Boxing Event’ this Saturday evening, March 10 at the Suburban Collection Showpiece in Novi, Michigan. The event is promoted by Emanuel Steward, Kronk Boxing and will see Lee (27-1-0, 19ko) defend his NABA middleweight championship title against the durable Mexican; Saul Duran (40-19-2, 33ko).
The 160lber, presently ranked number two by the WBA and WBO rankings, views this bout as a ‘stay busy fight’ as he waits for his opportunity to challenge for a world title later this year. The event takes place six years to the day when the Irishman first made his pro debut at the famous Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on March 10, 2006.
Lee commented: “It is important that I stay active to maintain my ring fitness and sharpness. Training has gone well and I am now looking forward to defending my NABA belt.”
The main event will be supported by a crop of young Kronk stars including Tony Harrison, LeAndre White, Jacob Bonas, Ernie Garza and Wade Tolle Jr.
International Boxing Hall of Fame manager and trainer, Emanuel Steward proudly stated: “I am very excited about the event; this is the most talented group of youngsters I have had since the days of Tommy Hearns, Hilmer Kenty, Mickey Goodwin, Milton McCrory and Jimmy Paul.”
Live Streaming of the Andy Lee v Saul Duran headlining fight can be purchased here.
The Suburban Collection Showplace is located at 46100 Grand River Avenue, between Novi and Beck Roads. The doors open at 7:30 pm; with the event beginning at 8:30 pm.
Tickets may be purchased here or by calling (248) 924-5775.
Words: Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Pictures: Michael Sterling Eaton/KMG/Klitschko
Jean-Marc Mormeck‘s shot at the unified heavyweight championship may have been unlikely, but the Frenchman’s motivation is clear… the former two-time cruiserweight king wants to become the first from his country to rule boxing’s no-limit weight class, however, the current holder of the ‘Super’ WBA/WBO/IBF/IBO/The Ring magazine belts; Wladimir Klitschko, has been preparing with this in mind ahead of their duel on March 3 in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Klitschko (56-3-0, 49ko): “Jean-Marc Mormeck has a major goal: To became the first world heavyweight champion from France. He is very experienced and also has had a lot of title fights in his career. His size makes it even more difficult for me to hit him. I will do anything to make sure to keep the belts that I have been unifying in the last years.”
Mormeck (36-4-0, 22ko): “I have an iron will and will break Wladimir Klitschko mentally. I am not afraid of anybody and I am sure that I will beat Klitschko and take his belts.”
(Video embedded above credit – YouTube, KlitschkoChannel)
Klitschko – 244.75lbs
Mormeck – 215.1lbs
(Video embedded above credit – YouTube, KlitschkoChannel)
Ibrahim Harb – Birmingham
Middleweight contender Andy Lee, a 27-year-old Irishman who was born in London but operates out of Detroit, Michigan, has vowed to wrap a world championship belt around his waist in 2012, proclaiming this year to be his. Trainer Emanuel Steward, who owns the renowned Kronk Gym, has long had high praise for one of his premier prizefighters, labeling Lee the “most prominent and visible 160lber in the United States”.
“I am 28 this June with nearly 30 fights under my belt. I have grown as a fighter and I am now ready and prepared to challenge for and win a world title,” said Lee (27-1-0, 19ko). “It is every boxer’s ambition to be a world champion and I believe this is my year.
“I have positioned myself nicely in the world ratings as a legitimate world title contender. In boxing, what you want, what you deserve and what you get are all different things. Boxing is a business as well as a sport and sometimes things come down to timing and being in the right place at the right time. I believe I am at that juncture in my career and I am more than ready for a title shot.”
He continued: “After my fight on March 17, I want to move up the WBC ratings and capture the number one spot as the mandatory challenger to the WBC title. I would relish the opportunity to fight [Sergio] Martinez, [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr, [Marco Antonio] Rubio, [Matthew] Macklin or [Daniel] Geale in a championship fight. I have the skills and power to beat any of them.”
Indeed, Lee’s skillset is not in question. The technically-savvy southpaw enjoyed a masterful 2011 in which he overcame Craig McEwan in a thrilling fight dubbed ‘Celtic War’ on the Martinez versus Serhiy Dzinziruk undercard in Connecticut in March. It was Lee’s debut performance under Lou DiBella’s promotional banner and the boxer-puncher did not disappoint as he secured a stunning tenth round technical knockout.
Lee followed that victory up with a shut-out ten round decision win over Alex Bunema in May, before avenging his sole defeat – to Brian Vera – in another one-sided victory, at the Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, in October. Lee is now ranked sixth by the WBC, third with the WBA and first with the WBO and, should he – as is expected – seal victory on St Patrick’s Day, on another Martinez undercard than a shot at Macklin or Sergio will presumably follow at the year’s end as all three pugilists share the same representative; DiBella.
His coach, Steward, believes that his fighter not only has the talent that warrants a world title shot, but also possesses the marketability to guarantee lucrative earnings for the broadcaster: “Andy is presently the most prominent and visible middleweight contender resident in the United States at this time; it makes good sporting and business sense for the television executives, promoters and sanctioning bodies to stage an Andy Lee world title fight in 2012.
“Andy is in the prime of his life and given the opportunity will give champions like Sergio Martinez and Julio Chavez Jr all the trouble they want. He is a superior technical boxer who can punch with both hands. No matter what fight Andy Lee is in he has the fans on the edge of their seats.”
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
Burgeoning super welterweight prospect Tony Harrison, a 21-year-old from Detroit, Michigan, returns to the ring on January 13, 2012 at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California against a yet-to-be-determined opponent. Harrison, despite his inexperience as a four-fight professional, is fast gaining a reputation due to his headhunting style, knockout knack and his renowned trainer of superstar boxers.
Legendary trainer Emanuel Steward (pictured above) and owner of the famous Kronk Gym boxing production line in Detroit, takes a number of his fighters to the West Coast in the opening month of the new year in order to set a precedent for 2012: provide exciting fights.
Steward has nurtured the talent of Harrison (4-0-0, 4ko) throughout 2011. His fledgling made all four of his pro bouts in that year, thrice in July alone and even made his debut on one of the biggest fistic main events of the year – on stablemate Wladimir Klitschko’s heavyweight unification bill with David Haye at the Imtech Arena in Hamburg, Germany.
Harrison has knocked all four of his opponents out in the opening round. His all-action, risk-laden and heavy-handed approach has been the catalyst for comparisons to one of Steward’s most successful prizefighters; Thomas Hearns, and both pupil and teacher are eager to continue that acclaim.
On the January card in California, Steward said: “I am honoured to be working with a world class venue Like Pechanga and look forward to bringing to the fans a great night of boxing.”
Elsewhere on the card, Dominic Salcido (18-3-0, 9ko) takes part in a ten round super featherweight fight. Salcido will be hoping to bounceback following a lengthy absence and a majority decision defeat to Eloy Perez for the WBO NABO title in October, 2010.
Top female boxer Kaliesha West (14-1-0, 4ko) – the WBO bantamweight world champion – also participates on the bill, in a fight slated for ten twos.
Related article: Video: Left hooks prove useful for Perez who disposes of Terry
Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Saturday, December 17‘s Super Six World Boxing Classic final, contested in Atlantic City between two super middleweight world titlists – Andre Ward, a champion with the WBA and Carl Froch, of the WBC – is perceived to be a true pick’em fight amongst fans of the sport of boxing and key members of the boxing industry think no differently as, amongst a panel of six experts, three went for the American fighter Ward whilst the other three opted for Froch.
“It’s a close fight,” said Glen Johnson (51-16-2, 35ko), a semifinalist of the tournament who was eliminated by Froch (28-1-0, 20ko) due to succumbing to a decision defeat, however, the Jamaican dubbed the Road Warrior due to his inclination to take on anyone, anywhere, believes venturing into the Boardwalk Hall as the ‘away’ fighter could work against Froch and therefore believes Ward (24-0-0, 13ko) will have the advantage: “I will have to go with the American because the fight is in America and I would assume that he would get the benefit of the doubt.”
Johnson sustained two defeats on the spin as, following on from his loss to Froch earlier in the year, he took on Lucian Bute – the consensus number one 168lb operator who never took part in the Super Six competition. Bute (30-0-0, 24ko) won a shut-out victory against Johnson in Canada and went against his opinion by siding with Froch: “It’s going to be a nice, spectacular and close fight.
“The question is: how Andre Ward will cope with the strength and the power of Carl Froch? If he’s able to handle it, I think he’s got the ability and the boxing movement and I’d go with him. But, let’s see first how he will react when he gets hit by Carl Froch.”
Andre Dirrell (19-1-0, 13ko), a group stage competitor who withdrew citing neurological problems following a disqualification win against Arthur Abraham, boxed Froch in the opening bout but believes his fellow Olympian and fellow American will out-pounce the Cobra: “I got Ward,” he told Esnewsreporting.com. “That’s not being biased against Froch, because he’s a hell of a fighter. But when it comes to ring smarts and tactics, Andre Ward has that department. Froch will come with determination and will, but at the end of the day, it won’t be enough.”
Gritty Danish hard-man Mikkel Kessler (44-2-0, 33ko) who, like Dirrell, boxed Froch in the tournament yet, unlike Dirrell, defeated the Englishman, believes it will be Froch who beats Ward to take the Super Six trophy despite being beaten himself by the Oakland boxer-puncher in the 11th round of their dust-up in 2009.
“I would say that Carl Froch is a very strong fighter and he wants to fight with you,” said the 32-year-old – who challenges for the WBO version of the super middleweight crown in April, 2012, against Robert Stieglitz in Copenhagen, Denmark – whilst a guest on the On The Ropes boxing radio show.
“He wants to stand toe-to-toe and he wants to fight. I like those boxers. Andre Ward, he’s a sneaky guy! He wants to have it his way, always on his home field, and he’s a different fighter. He wants to ruin a fight instead of fighting. He’s a fast fighter. Froch is maybe not as fast, but he’s good mentally in the ring. He’s strong and as you saw against Glen Johnson, he’s getting stronger I think. It’s going to be a great fight and if Carl reads his homework well, I see him as the Super Six winner.”
Five-time Trainer of the Year Freddie Roach, who owns the Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood that is home to fighters such as Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr also talked to On The Ropes regarding the ground-breaking Super Six but counters Kessler’s notion: “I picked Andre to win that tournament from the beginning. He’s a great boxer. I think he’s a much better boxer than given credit for. Froch has really looked good though. He’s game and he comes to fight. I think it’s a very good fight, but I picked Ward to be the winner of that tournament and I still stand by that.”
Finally comes the viewpoint of Anglophile trainer Emanuel Steward, who has coached British talent such as Lennox Lewis and Prince Naseem Hamed, and owns the famous Kronk Gym in Detroit. He believes Froch has the mental capacity required to take the win and the tournament.
Speaking to the Telegraph, he said: “You cannot underestimate [Froch's] talent. A real tough man, and he’s starting to polish his skills now. In the beginning, I never thought he would do anything.”
He continued by appraising Ward: “Ward doesn’t beat people, he knows how to win decisions. They are trying to make him a star but he isn’t there yet. Froch is mentally stronger, and should go out there and hurt Ward.
“Froch is like Dennis Andries. He doesn’t know how limited he is. But he can get right up there in the pound for pound rankings. That’s what is good for him, but I do also think his boxing skills are improving, and we are seeing that fight by fight.”
Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Miguel Cotto avenged the first defeat on his record by trouncing tough Mexican hombre Antonio Margarito and now the Puerto Rican intends on rectifying his only other blemish by pursuing a rematch with fist-swinging Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao. Cotto’s former trainer, Emanuel Steward, believes it would be a tough match for Pacman but there are “bigger fish to fry” according to Pacquiao’s coach Freddie Roach.
“I have no doubt about it [that I would beat Pacquiao in a rematch],” said Cotto (37-2-0, 30ko) to Primera Hora‘s Esteban Pagan. “With the right encouragement and with the people that are now in my team, we have no doubt about that.”
Pacquiao v Cotto I was a 2009 welterweight contest fought at a 144lb catchweight. Reigning WBO titlist Cotto had bounced back from what was then his only defeat, against Margarito, by stopping Michael Jennings prior to edging Joshua Clottey. Pacquiao was arguably at the tail-end of the zenith of his powers and brutally annihilated the Puerto Rican, stopping him in the final round.
Since then, Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38ko) has appeared to have declined, particularly in the current calendar year where he laboured to victory over Shane Mosley and then, most recently, struggled to overcome Juan Manuel Marquez in the third installment of their pugilistic saga, obtaining an unconvincing points victory.
As Cotto is coming off the back of such a masterclass, a second go at Pacquiao – despite the way the first fight panned out – could bear fruit to an alternative result, something not lost on Cotto’s former head cornerman Steward, who told the Examiner: “(Cotto) is boxing better and not keeping his head down so much. Now that he’s not having to kill himself to make weight, if they [Miguel and Manny] fought at the proper weight, about 150 or more, I think he has a good chance.”
He continued: “I think it would be a rough fight… It would be a tough fight for Manny.”
Pacquiao, though, is spoiled for choices for his next opponent. There is the highly-lucrative, eagerly-anticipated and mouthwatering prospect of meeting fellow top two pound-for-pound boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr on May 5, 2012, a back-up plan to potentially be aligned with Marquez for a fourth time or even fighting undefeated American Timothy Bradley, a world champion at super lightweight who Bob Arum’s promotional firm Top Rank Boxing acquired earlier in the year.
Freddie Roach perhaps bears these candidates in mind when he mentioned that “there are bigger fish to fry” for his premier charge as he and Cotto “have already fought”.
For Roach, there has been one fighter who he has long wanted Pacquiao to box and that is Mayweather Jr.
Related article: Cotto avenges his first loss by teekayoing teak tough Margarito