The ring girls that have been accompanying the Top Rank promotion and the headlining fighters – Nonito Donaire vs Vic Darchinyan – around the press conferences and official weigh-in for this Saturday’s televised three-bout card are a knock-out, as this photograph below the fold is testament to…
Words: Tommy Barber – London
Photos: Chris Farina – Top Rank
It may not have satisfied the blood-thirst of fight fans still enjoying highlights of the two frontrunning candidates for fight of the year – Mike Alvarado vs Brandon Rios II and Timothy Bradley vs Ruslan Provodnikov – but Guillermo Rigondeaux‘s ability to outpoint Nonito Donaire last Saturday, April 13 provided a fine demonstration of the sweet science in action. Below, are the three photos that sum up the night’s work for the finely-skilled Cuban wizard.
Donaire had the fanbase, the punching power, the stature in the game to attract accolades naming him the heir to the throne vacated by countryman Manny Pacquiao but all that mattered not against Rigondeaux who used a combination of timing, maneuverability, ring smarts and defensive nous to frustrate and perplex one of the most heavily-promoted Top Rank-backed boxers.
According to punch stats released by HBO during their broadcast, Rigondeaux threw 396 shots and found success 33 percent of the time to land 129 times. All these statistics are greater than Nonito’s numbers who threw 352, landed 82 times to create a 23 percent success rate.
Compubox stats reveal a similar pattern and point to Rigondeaux being the far more effective fighter. Guillermo outlanded Donaire in an astonishing 11 rounds, with only the 10th round – where Rigondeaux suffered a knockdown – being the one Donaire was most successful in.
Donaire refused to accept defeat post-fight and between himself and promoter Bob Arum, a move north, to the 126lb division, looks likely. The excuses, though, perhaps discredit what is and should always be, a tactically astute victory for an athlete who made just his 12th appearance in the professional circuit. Rigondeaux linked up with his former amateur coach Pedro Diaz for his night in New York and the two, pictured below, stuck to a winning game-plan throughout the contest.
Words: Alan Dawson; Photos: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Heralded Chinese junior flyweight, Zou Shiming, a two-time Olympic gold winner and three-time World Amateur Champion, scaled in at 111lb earlier today, Friday, ahead of his pro debut examination against Eleazar Valenzuela, who weighed 111.6lb.
Words: Alan Dawson; Photos: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Amateur standout Zou Shiming has left a lasting impression on five-time Futch-Condon award winning coach Freddie Roach that the trainer believes Shiming – a 31-year-old who makes his professional boxing debut at junior flyweight against Eleazar Valenzuela at the Cotai Arena in Macao, China on Saturday, April 6 – could be a world champion inside one year.
Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Unbeaten junior welterweight Mike Alvarado once again showed that he is fast-emerging as one of the most entertaining boxers regardless of division as he and opponent Mauricio Herrera engaged in a hit-and-get-hit spectacle at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, April 14. Alvarado trumped Herrera by way of unanimous decision, while Mercito Gesta shut out and knocked out Oscar Cuero on an undercard segment.
Official verdict: Alvarado wins unanimous decision (99-91, 97-93, 96-94).
Herrera did his best to dictate the early tempo of the bout, marching out for the first round and forcing Alvarado to follow his orders as he crouched low and, with good leverage, slammed hook shots to the side of the body followed by crisp lefts to the temple. Herrera, who had a strong victory over Mike Dallas Jr combined with the fame of having taken away Ruslan Provodnikov’s zero prior to the Alvarado duel, fought with unrelenting pressure into the second as he bravely duked it out with a fighter renowned for his punching ability.
In the third round, Mile High Mike – a Denver native – found his range and enjoyed good success when he had his opponent trapped, mainly against the ropes, which allowed him to peel off power punch after power punch, however, he did not have it all his own way as he had to keep his gloves up to protect himself at all times… Herrera fought like he had Duracell batteries in his rotator cuffs as he put together four and five punch combinations.
There were seldom breaks in the all action slobberknocker and, in the fourth, Alvarado trapped Herrera back onto the ropes like he had done in the third. This time, though, whenever Herrera attempted to fight his way out of trouble, Alvarado would clobber him with heavy hands. For Herrera, the hook was his amigo while American 140lber Alvarado’s bestie was the uppercut.
As the contest reached it’s midway point, it became clear that the competitive fight would be won on what the three ringside judges preferred in a prizefighter… Herrera had the activity, the punch-output, the work-rate, but it was Alvarado who had the effective aggression, the power and the obvious physical advantages. It was Alvarado, though, who had the edge during the final straight as it was his conditioning and Herrera’s waning that was the primary difference-maker.
Herrera’s speed of hand slowed, his body movement lost intuition and he was unable to see what Alvarado was throwing and where it was coming from as his eye closed from considerable swelling. For any judge who was in doubt as to where the decision should be heading, rounds eight and nine were – in particular – telling, as Alvarado was dominant. The best, though, was saved for last as in the tenth round both pugs traded slugs in the centre of the ring. The decision was, rightly, unanimous as Alvarado had his arm raised upon completion of the contest while Herrera’s face looked painfully swollen and markedly different from the victor.
In triumph, Alvarado rose to 33-0-0, 23ko while Herrera dropped down to 18-2-0, 7ko.
Elsewhere on the Brandon Rios versus Richard Abril undercard, was a further appearance from Filipino hotshot Mercito Gesta, who boxed maturely and near flawlessly as he recorded a shut-out teekayo win in the eighth.
Official verdict: Gesta wins by way of eighth round technical knockout.
Despite a slow start, Gesta boxed like the boss, flurrying with body shots late in round one to nab the ten score and edge Oscar Cuero. A fighter with little amateur experience to speak of as he was primarily consumed with the muay thai discipline, Gesta had shown good technique in the opener but got complacent in round two, allowed Cuero to gain an upper hand, but beat the advantage out of Gesta by finishing well, throwing bombing left hands straight through the middle and rocketing uppercuts toward the chin.
Even though Gesta was not perturbed nor troubled by any aspect of Cuero’s game, his head cornerman – Vincent Parra – implored his trainer to make a greater impression on the Las Vegas bill broadcast by broadcasting behemoth HBO. Mandalay Bay crowds and pay-per-view purchasing fans relish one type of victory; the knockout, and Gesta sought to soften Cuero up for a stoppage by bombarding him with blows to the barrel.
Gesta landed the uppercut again in the fifth, but his guard had holes in as it leaked punches with Cuero punching through it. The aggressor and ring general, Gesta was awarded a further point advantage as Cuero had one deducted due to repeated holding and turning Gesta. When Cuero looked his best, he was fighting with sustained pressure, forcing his opponents to either retreat or wilt, however, Oscar – the 26-year-old opponent from Colombia – was too depleted of energy to fight this way for the majority of a round, let alone the entirety of a fight.
Cuero was down in the seventh, taking a count of nine having been dropped following an accumulation of shots to the body. When he returned to his feet, he clinched, wrestled both himself and Gesta to the floor and bought some vital time. At the round’s end, Gesta engaged in kidology after Cuero landed a hat-trick of power shots. Down again in the eighth, Cuero was deemed to be in no fit state to continue and the Filipino prospect secured an eighth round technical knockout.
With the convincing win, Gesta jumped to 25-0-1, 13ko. Cuerro fell to 15-8-0, 12ko.
On The Beak – Admin
Three weight world champion Juan Manuel Marquez, 38, takes on unheralded Ukrainian 140lber Serhiy Fedchenko (30-1-0, 13ko) for the interim WBO junior welterweight world championship title on Saturday, April 14 at the New Mexico City Arena, Mexico City and, at the weigh-in yesterday, both fighters registered identical weights – 140lbs. JuanMa (53-6-1, 39ko) looked cut and powerful at the weight, while The Professor appeared athletic.
Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Undefeated Oxnard power-hitter Brandon Rios failed to make weight on Friday, April 13 as he scaled in at 137lbs – two pounds heavier than the mandatory 135lb lightweight limit – and will consequently be denied a shot at the WBA‘s interim belt and the $50,000 bonus that promotional giants Top Rank had earmarked for the victor in the Rios versus Richard Abril bout on Saturday evening at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas.
It is not the first time Rios (29-0-0, 22ko) has struggled to make weight as, in his most recent fight, he lost his world title on the scales when he recorded a 135.5lb weight for his voluntary defence against England’s slugger; John Murray. Despite claiming a late knockout victory, Rios lacked the crushing vigour that had typified his championship performances against Miguel Acosta and Urbano Antillon.
Remaining unbeaten but losing his belt inspired Rios to enlist the services of a nutritionist/conditioner, Cecilio Flores, who altered Bam Bam’s dietary plan and exercising: “It was the best decision I ever made,” Rios explained at a press conference this week, adding: “I feel so much more energetic and powerful and I’m not missing meals.” However, the moves were not enough to keep Rios at lightweight and a move north, to super lightweight (140lbs) must now be imminent.
The show, though, will still go on with only Abril (17-2-1, 8ko) eligible for the belt and the Benjamins yet the prickly rivalry between the pair has provided Brandon with ample motivation: “I’m not letting this unknown come in and ruin eight years of hard work I put into building my professional boxing career,” the 25-year-old said recently.
The Abril – Rios showdown is to be broadcast on HBO who are offering a split-site pay-per-view with Mexican ring legend Juan Manuel Marquez (53-6-1, 39ko) and Serhiy Fedchenko competing for the interim WBO junior welterweight world championship in the main event.
Marquez, 38, will – in an act that belies his veteran years – be an active boxer in 2012 as he also has July 14 date ready for a dust-up with a yet to be determined opponent at the impressive Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Rios is regarded to be a prime candidate to challenge Marquez should he, as expected, oversee Abril.
“Juan Manuel Márquez and I have a lot of options in 2012 and a lot of opportunities,” he commented. “I think this could be a career year for either of us. One of us could end up as the Fighter of the Year.”
Promising a fan-friendly fight, Rios made the proclamation that his fisticuffs with Abril will be “an action fight.”
He concluded: “I will make absolutely sure Abril sees some real action. April stepped up when he put his hands on me at the Miami press conference. Now after our fight he will return to the dark shadows where he really belongs.”
Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
WBO featherweight world title challenger Juan Manuel Lopez may be gearing toward regaining his former championship belt when he clashes with current holder Orlando Salido later this evening, March 10, at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, but the Puerto Rican has praised the two main undercard fighters as the winners of the two co-headlining bouts could collide later this year.
“Saturday is a great card with a lot of good prospects,” said headline act Lopez, a former two-weight world champion having won full honours at super bantamweight and featherweight, commands a powerful punch but came unstuck for the first time as a professional prizefighter last year, when Salido scalped him in the eighth round.
Since suffering his sole defeat, Lopez bounced back at the expense of Mike Oliver, boosting his own knockout ratio by slaying the American boxer-mover inside two rounds. Salido, meanwhile, made two successful defences of the WBO strap that Lopez (31-1-0, 28ko) had previously adorned.
While Lopez and Salido (35-11-2, 23ko) represents a highly-anticipated rematch between two premier 126lbers, they both campaign in a division saturated with talent… one of those talents, an undefeated Oxnard pugilist who is a cerebral fighter, is Miguel ‘Mikey’ Garcia, who takes on Bernabe Concepcion with the winner expected to challenge the winner of Lopez versus Salido.
Lopez remarked: “Garcia and Concepcion is a really good fight and I’m glad that it will be on Showtime, along with mine. Mikey is one of the most intelligent fighters around. He has great ability. And Bernabe is a tough guy. He dropped me in our fight a couple of years ago so I know.”
On the task ahead Garcia (27-0-0, 23ko), who is on the cusp of becoming a challenger of a major championship himself, commented: “My fight with Concepcion is a tough fight, a dangerous fight and it means everything to me.
“If I want my title shot, I need to win. There has been talk about me fighting the winner of Lopez and Salido. I want my chance. I hope to fight the winner of Saturday night’s fight for the belt before the end of the year. I’ve put in a lot of hard work because the fight is so important to me.”
Standing in Mikey’s way, is Concepcion (29-5-1, 15ko), a Filipino 24-year-old who, as the fight’s underdog, will no doubt be buoyed by his compatriot Sonny Boy Jaro’s shock victory over long-reigning Thai fighter Pongsaklek Wonjongkam last week: “I’m excited for fight night on Saturday against Garcia,” he said.
“I came to Puerto Rico once before [in July 2010, to fight Lopez. He was teekayoed in two rounds, the only time he has been defeated by stoppage]. Thank you to the promoters and all the fans for having me back but I hope for a different result this time.”
Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Orlando Salido (37-11-2, 25ko) defends his WBO featherweight world championship on Saturday, March 10 in his opponent, Juan Manuel Lopez‘s backyard inside the hostile Coliseo Roberto Clemente in the San Juan region of Puerto Rico. The Mexican, however, is unperturbed at the prospect of re-entering the lion’s den as he is buoyed from his 2011 upset victory over JuanMa (31-1-0, 28ko).
Aside from rounds three and seven, Salido was dominant over the course of eight rounds during his first meeting with Lopez at the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez, Bayamon, last year. Salido’s authority was underlined with the seeming ease in which he was able to work his way around Lopez’s portside posturing and land his overhand right – a southpaw’s nemesis punch.
It was perhaps Lopez’s desire to enhance his extraordinary knockout percentage that backfired. He was dropped in the fifth and stopped on his feet in the eighth and, when the rematch was announced, the 28-year-old spoke of the first fight as a learning curve and declared his intention to box Salido. However, that tactic may have fallen by the wayside as he now wants to go to war.
If the do-over mirrored the first duel then Salido would be favoured to repeat his victory. He said: “Entering the first fight, I had some doubts but now I have beaten JuanMa, I know I can beat him again. I am 1,000 percent sure I can win. I’ve been in the gym preparing and I know what to expect.”
Despite earning champion status and making two successful defences of the belt (against Kenichi Yamaguchi and Weng Haya), Salido still believes he “has something to prove.” He added: “In the ring, we have a score to settle.”
Addressing his rival, JuanMa riposted: “Orlando, you had a good night last year – but I want my title back. I let you wear the belt for 11 months but I’m bringing it back to where it belongs on Saturday.
“I have had a great preparation for this fight and I’m very confident. I never gave excuses about my last fight with Salido. He won. He knocked me out, fine. I don’t make excuses; I fight. If the ref didn’t stop the fight when he did last time, I’d still be fighting.”
On The Beak – Admin
Kronk Irish middleweight star, Andy Lee (27-1-0, 19ko) is ready and available to fight WBC middleweight world champion, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (45-0-1, 31ko) on June 2 or 16. Following Chavez Jr’s second successful defence of his WBC title against Marco Antonio Rubio in San Antonio on February 4, Team Lee, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum and HBO Boxing agreed in principle to the Chavez Jr versus Lee fight.
In the past few days Team Lee has been made aware that Team Chavez is reluctant for Chavez Jr to face Lee due the Irishman’s southpaw style. Team Lee strongly believes their fighter has earned his place to challenge Chavez Jr for his WBC belt.
Lee is highly ranked in the middleweight division and is currently positioned as the WBA’s number two and WBO number two prizefighter in world boxing at 160lbs. In recent months, the Kronk Gym fighter has also been knocking on the door of other world title shots, but was bitterly disappointed when he failed to secures title challenges with WBC diamond champion, Sergio Martinez on March 17 and Super WBA titlist, Felix Sturm on April 13.
The Chavez Jr versus Lee fight is a war the boxing public are intrigued to see as it pits two young fighters doing battle for a prestigious belt. This an opportunity for promoters and tv executives to rejuvenate the sport of boxing and showcase two exciting and entertaining young Mexican and Irish warriors that are popular with the US television audience.
The Irishman’s last two impressive performances live on HBO made an emphatic statement that he has the skills and attributes necessary to challenge and win a world title, 1: a barnstorming tenth round knock out victory over formerly unbeaten world ranked Craig McEwan on March 12, 2011 and 2: a boxing master-class performance against the durable Brian Vera on October 1, 2011.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was born with boxing in his blood and has followed in the footsteps of his legendary father Julio Cesar Chavez Sr, a six-time world champion in three weight divisions. After only two amateur bouts, Julio turned pro at the age of 17 on September 26, 2003 in Culiacan, Sinalao, Mexico.
Since then, the Mexican warrior’s US promoter, Top Rank has astutely promoted and guided their protege over the last eight years to become a world champion and box office attraction at the age of 26.
Andy Lee followed a different path in boxing; he had a successful amateur career lacing up his gloves at the age of 11 to go on to win a host of Irish national titles, multinational tournaments, a silver medal in the world under-19s in 2002, a European bronze senior medal in 2003 and was a 2004 Irish Olympian.
Since Lee’s pro debut at the famous Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on March 10, 2006, Emanuel Steward has nurtured and honed the boxing skills of his pupil and carefully chartered a pathway for his fighter to become a world title champion.
Lee commented from Detroit today: “I would now relish the opportunity to fight for a world title. A title shot against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr would be a challenge I would rise to. It is every boxer’s ambition to be a world champion. I would love to fight Julio for the WBC title on June 2 or 16… it would be a tough fight but I believe I have the skills to beat him. The Irish and Mexican people like a good fight, so let’s get it on.”
The Chavez Jr versus Zbik world title bout on June 4, 2011 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.
Steward, presently in Waldimir Klitschko’s training camp commented: “Andy has established himself as 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 are confident that if Top Rank and Team Chavez are up to conclude discussions and negotiations for the fight, that a deal can be done and dusted over the next few days.