Canelo Alvarez photo by Anna John for StiffJab.com
by Gautham Nagesh
This should be a terrific weekend for boxing fans, especially those from around these parts. The main event is Saturday night’s Showtime Pay Per View card headlined by Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (above) vs. Alfredo “el Perro” Angulo, but there are some fights of local interest on Friday Night.
We’ll be heading down to Rosecroft Raceway later to catch a Keystone Boxing show headlined by Mike Reed (below) vs. Bilal Mahasin in a matchup of unbeatens at 140 lbs. Finally, local welterweight Dusty Hernandez-Harrison will be back on ESPN Friday Night Fights as the opening bout tonight against Michael Balasi.
Read on for full preview and predictions:
Tony Jeter photo by Trey Pollard for StiffJab.com
by Anna John
It’s the end of the week and that means it’s time for the Eight Count, our weekly roundup of boxing and MMA stories that we’re talking about here at Stiff Jab’s luxurious headquarters.
This week’s edition has an international flavor, and it tastes better than sriracha. Yeah, I said it. That hot sauce sucks. Forget controversial statements, let’s get ready to tumble!
1) Many young fighters come from rough backgrounds, so a boxer raised in foster care isn’t particularly novel— but a boxer whose father was murdered by the Taliban is. AJ Faizy escaped Afghanistan at 14 and was aged out of foster care in England by 18. He would have been homeless if not for his trainer, who has this to say about Faizy:
"He had nowhere to go and was just sat on a wall with six bags around him when I picked him up…He’s a right good lad; really pleasant and appreciative. He’s at college, a volunteer at Age UK, and I just wish I had another 10 boxers like him. He’s also got the right mind-set for boxing, he’s a very tough kid. Boxing-wise, there’s still a lot to learn but he’s got a big heart, he can bang and he’s in your face all the time."
2) A much sadder tale out of South Africa, where professional MMA fighter Booto Guylain died after getting elbowed in the head during a match:
"He is the second pro MMA fighter to die in the last six months, with Brazilian Leandro Souza passing in Sept. due to organ stress suffered during his pre-fight weight cut. And he is the third fighter to die directly from injuries suffered during a bout. Michael Kirkham, 30, and Sam Vasquez, 35, passed from cerebral hemorrhages in 2010 and 2007."
3) Former world champion Antonio Tarver was arrested over the weekend during a traffic stop in Florida:
"Tarver, who lives in the Tampa Bay area, was named in a criminal complaint filed in Las Vegas alleging that he failed to repay three casino loans totaling $200,000 obtained in July 2012 at the posh Wynn Las Vegas resort. Nevada treats written casino IOUs, known as markers, like fraudulent bad checks."
4) In far more entertaining news, we may have finally discovered the fighter who could pummel pound-for-pound champ Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr.— but it’s probably not anyone you’d think of:
by Anna John
Details have started emerging regarding Manny Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley II—Electric Boogaloo. Stand up and put your hand over your heart for singer Ashanti, who has been summoned all the way from the year 2002 to sing the national anthem for the highly-anticipated HBO Pay Per View event that’s going down on April 12th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas, the Grammy award-winning singer whose eponymous debut album outsold Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill’s respective debuts in April of 2002 actually has familial ties to the Sweet Science. She will be rooting for Manny Pacquiao, according to a release from Pacquiao promoter Top Rank.
"I’m such a huge fan of Manny Pacquiao! I have family in the boxing business — Howard Davis, Jr. and Dyah Davis,” Ashanti said.
Pacquiao, who has been known to rock a mic himself, personally asked Ashanti to serenade the millions who will be tuning in after the two found themselves seated together recently at Madison Square Garden.
Sergio Martinez photo by Anna John for StiffJab.com
by Gautham Nagesh
You’ve read this elsewhere, but we don’t like to report that a fight will happen until the contracts are signed. Because even then, it’s at best 70-30 that the fight will actually happen. But it looks like New York fight fans have reason to celebrate, thanks to the latest news from Top Rank.
Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (above) will defend his title on June 7th at Madison Square Garden against Puerto Rican superstar Miguel Cotto. Martinez has looked a bit old of late, but he remains one of the sport’s proudest and most gallant champions. Cotto will be the underdog, but also the overwhelming crowd favorite. Let there be no doubt: New York loves Miguel Cotto. If the fight is close, that could be the difference.
Photos by Chris Farina for Top Rank
by Gautham Nagesh
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (above) was not raised as a fighter, and he doesn’t always behave like one. But the son of el Gran Campeon is a fighter nonetheless, and the ultimate argument for nature over nurture.
A focused, lively Chavez Jr. battered the game Brian Vera to win their super middleweight rematch convincingly in San Antonio on HBO Saturday Night. Chavez Jr. looked like a different fighter after making weight and preparing properly for the first time in recent memory. This version of Chavez Jr. was too big and too strong for Vera, blasting him with hard right hands for most of the fight.
The final result was a unanimous decision for Chavez Jr. Stiff Jab scored the fight 116-111 for Chavez Jr. Vera had his moments, since Chavez Jr. remains extremely hittable despite improved head movement. But Junior was the harder puncher, and used his jab to keep the fight outside for most of the rounds. Vera did better when things moved in close, but Chavez adjusted and scored with hard body shots up close. In the end Chavez was just too talented for Vera (below), a limited brawler with heart to spare.
Photos by Tom Casino for Showtime
by Gautham Nagesh
It was another excellent Friday night for boxing fans, as both Showtime and ESPN delivered entertaining shows with competitive fights. ShoBox was the standout on this night, with one surprise knockout and another near-upset in three fights featuring unbeaten prospects. Friday Night Fights was not nearly as action-packed, but ESPN deserves credit for experimenting with the tournament format and finding some intriguing unknowns to take part.
Detroit’s J’Leon Love (above) dominated “Mr. Providence” Vladine Biosse for nine and a half rounds before the referee mercifully stopped the carnage at Turning Stone Casino in Upstate New York on Showtime. It was mostly easy work for Love. Both fighters were cut, and Biosse was still standing at the time of the stoppage, but he had taken a lot of punishment. Overall, Love was more competent than dynamic, and must avoid complacency by stepping up his competition.
North Carolina veteran Derek Edwards shocked Badou Jack in the co-feature, hurting the Swedish-Gambian import early in the first round with a sharp right hand (below) and finishing him soon afterward. Detroit’s Lanardo Tyner almost scored the upset in the opening bout, flooring unbeaten Dayton junior middleweight Chris Pearson in the sixth round of scheduled eight. But Pearson was saved by the bell and managed to squeak by with a split decision, thanks to some extremely questionable scoring.
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by Dr. Octagon J.D.
UFC Fight Night 37 started at the ungodly hour of 6am, but I did roll out of bed in time to catch the main card.
In the main event, Dong Hyun Kim scored a highlight-reel stoppage of John Hathaway in the third round. Kim has the early striking advantage and landed at will on Hathaway, who didn’t seem to have any interest in putting his hands up. In the third round, Hathaway went in for an elbow, while Kim dodged and landed a cracking spinning elbow to Hathaway’s head. The shot ended the fight without any question, as Hathaway lay motionless on the mat.
Stun Gun used to use judo to stifle opponents, until his last fight against Erick Silva. Kim’s much improved striking and excellent grappling now make him a tough test for anyone in the UFC. He hasn’t had a definitive loss in the Octagon since he was knocked out by Carlos Condit. He also lost to Demian Maia, but it was more of a freak injury than anything else.
For his part, Silva needed just 51 seconds to stop Takenori Sato with a massive left hand KO.
In The Ultimate Fighter China finale, Zhang Lipang “defeated” Wang Sai by split decision. We had it 29-28 for Sai.
In other action, Matt Mitrione defeated Shawn Jordan by KO with a last minute flurry at the end of round one. Hatsu Hioki defeated Ivan Menjivar by unanimous decision, it was 29-28 on all the cards.
by Anna John
Is it already Friday? So it is. Here’s what we’re reading at Stiff Jab headquarters:
1) This story about the first “cutwoman” in The UFC is well-worth a read. After eight years of preparation, research, and unpaid practice, Swayze Valentine participated in UFC 170 in Las Vegas. Her journey to the octagon hasn’t been easy:
"Then there were the struggles of being a woman in a man’s sport. Valentine said she has been physically assaulted by a manager, not let in the cage by security guards and banished from dressing rooms by fighters."
2) Many fight fans and boxers are on Twitter, and most wish for the magic blue check mark. The latest to be verified? None other than Muhammad Ali, who chose the 50th anniversary of his fight with Sonny Liston to tweet:
"I shook up the world against Liston, now 50 years later I’m taking it to Twitter."
Note: any tweet hashtagged “#AliTweet” is from the man himself. What are you waiting for— follow him already!
3) The Nevada Athletic Commission voted Thursday to ban testosterone replacement therapy, commonly known as “TRT”. Many in the sport (including Doc Octagon) felt that fighters were getting over by claiming they needed TRT due to their low testosterone levels.
"There is also a prevailing opinion in the medical world, testified to by commission doctors at Thursday’s meeting, that many cases of low testosterone in fighters were caused by prior use of performance-enhancing drugs."
Bernard Hopkins photo by Hogan Photos for Golden Boy
by Gautham Nagesh
If there was any doubt that Washington, D.C. is a fight town once again, Golden Boy Promotions has put it firmly to rest. Legendary Philadelphia light heavyweight Bernard Hopkins announced recently that he will fight in Washington for the first time in 15 years on April 19th at D.C. Armory. The main event will feature Hopkins against Kazakh contender Beibut Shumenov and will be televised on Showtime.
A partner in Golden Boy, the 49-year-old Hopkins will be the brightest star to fight in Washington since a faded Mike Tyson lost his final bout to Kevin McBride at the then-MCI Center in 2005. The co-feature could feature Peter Quillin or local featherweight Gary Russell Jr. in his biggest fight to date against Jhonny Gonzalez. Either fight would make this the biggest card in Washington since Lamont Peterson vs. Amir Khan in December 2011.
BHop has history in the DMV; he lost to Roy Jones Jr. at RFK Stadium in 1993 and later defended his middleweight title in the area three times, the last against Robert Allen in 1999 at Washington Convention Center. Hopkins told ESPN’s Dan Rafael that it was the reception he received in D.C. while promoting Peterson’s win over Dierry Jean last month (below) that convinced him to bring his next fight down I-95.
Photo by Tom Casino for Showtime
"When I was in Washington (on Jan. 25) promoting the Lamont Peterson (junior welterweight title) fight at the Armory, the people there showed me a lot of love and respect," Hopkins told ESPN. "I got mad respect for the fans there and they got mad respect for me in D.C. Fighting in D.C. is like fighting in Philly as far as I’m concerned. It will definitely be a Bernard Hopkins house and I will give them something to cheer about."
by Raquel Ruiz
LAS VEGAS—It wasn’t love at the first sight.
UFC 170 at the Mandalay Center in Las Vegas on Saturday night was a disappointing first date. The best thing I can say about my inaugural experience covering mixed martial arts: I’m open to giving my new lover a second chance.
To me, Vegas is the most plastic representation of the society lost in consumerism, addiction and ostentation. But in love and war, anything goes. I came to this insufferable city to cover a spectacle that has intrigued me for a long time. I came with a purpose, and a love for contact sports. How could I not be intrigued? Since The UFC began staging women’s fights last year, it has quickly become the biggest platform for female combat sports.
Unfortunately, my opening night was not charming. It’s like kissing an attractive man for the first time and not feeling the butterflies in your tummy as expected. Still, you usually arrange a second date, just to see if the “galan” was just really nervous and can do better the second time. So, to be fair, I will give UFC a second date.
UFC 170 promised to be a solid card, with the stellar fight being the women’s bantamweight championship in the main event. So real responsibility weighed on the shoulders of the Queen on the Octagon, Ronda Rousey(top), on Saturday night. She delivered, stopping Sara McMann in the first round with strikes to win by TKO.
Vyacheslav Glazkov photo by Main Events
by Sarah Deming
BROOKLYN, N.Y.—How do you sell the quiet skill of a Ukrainian heavyweight to American fight fans?
The anxiety of this question seemed to hang in the air of Underground Boxing as Vyacheslav “Czar” Glazkov began his media workout. Everything about the 29-year-old, from his crewcut to his trunks to his musculature, bespoke function over flash.
On March 15, Glazkov will face former world champion Tomasz Adamek at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Glazkov and team hope this will be the final hurdle before a shot at heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. It is an intriguing match. The 37-year-old Adamek is post-peak, but he only has two losses. Glazkov, a 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, is bigger and fresher, but he looked less than stellar in a disputed draw last year with Malik Scott.
The misleadingly named Underground Boxing occupies the sunny third floor of a storefront in Sheepshead Bay. Its floors are covered with rubber tiles that mandate the removal of high heeled shoes. All the ladies in stocking feet contributed to the feeling of being at some kind of intimate Russian family party rather than a press event. The affable proprietor Ilya Mesishchev circulated among the guests, making introductions and pointing out his wall of trophies.
Glazkov bullied the heavy bag for a while then went in the ring to work pads with trainer Eduard Menchakov. The two men have known each other for 20 years.
“He started boxing when he was ten,” Menchakov told me through an interpreter. “His father was with him everywhere.”
Photo by Joel Richardson for The Washington Post
by Aaron Tallent special to Stiff Jab
Let’s face it: the Fight Game walks the fine line between goodness and corruption.
The good is that young men have an opportunity to learn discipline they would often not find elsewhere. For that to work, the people providing the chance need to have their heart in the right place. They need to be people like Jim Finley. Sadly, we have already forgotten just how special Finley and his boxing gym truly were.
Finley, who died of congestive heart failure on January 28, ran the legendary Finley’s Boxing Gym from 1960 to 2001. The gym was over his auto repair shop on 518 10th Street, which sat in an alley running between 9th and 10th Streets in Northeast D.C. So low key was the gym that I lived at the entrance of that alley for two years after it closed, yet had no idea it ever existed.
Floyd Mayweather photo by Anna John for StiffJab.com
by Gautham Nagesh
On Monday Golden Boy and Mayweather Promotions made official what we had long expected: Floyd Mayweather Jr. will return on May 3rd against Argentine knockout artist Marcos Maidana on Showtime Pay Per View. The 12-round unification bout marks Mayweather’s return to the welterweight division, after earning the true junior middleweight championship of the world by dominating Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in his last fight.
The fight will most likely take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, but their remains the tantalizing possibility of a late push from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It’s unlikely the bout will generate the same excitement as Mayweather-Alvarez, because Maidana is mostly a known quantity, and not in the same class as Floyd. But the Argentine has showed new life of late, and might be the hardest-punching welterweight Floyd has fought to date.
As such, Maidana has at least a puncher’s chance, though we wouldn’t be lining up to bet for anyone but Floyd in this fight.
“Marcos Maidana’s last performance immediately brought him to my attention,” Mayweather said on Monday, his 37th birthday. “He is an extremely skilled fighter who brings knockout danger to the ring. I think this is a great fight for me and he deserves the opportunity to see if he can do what 45 others have tried to do before him – beat me.”