Category Archives: Articles by Darryn Albert

Just How Good Can Taishan Dong Be?

Photo by Jessica Rosales

Photo by Jessica Rosales

By Darryn Albert –

Some of the greatest heavyweight fighters of all-time were mammoths of men.  Joe Louis was 6’1″ and 197 pounds.  Sonny Liston clocked in at 6’1″, 214.  Muhammad Ali was a mean 6’3″, 210.  George Foreman measured up 6’3″ and 217 pounds.  Lennox Lewis was 6’4″, 220.  And in more modern times, the Klitschko brothers are in the range of 6’7″ and 245 pounds apiece.  All of these great fighters were larger than life figures, giants among us.  They carried a certain aura, a certain command of the room that made them these imposing, almost mythically so, both in and out of the ring.  But what if I were to tell you that there’s a man coming up in the heavyweight division that would dwarf all those legendary fighters.  Ladies and gentlemen, meet Taishan Dong.

By now, you or may not have heard about Dong, the Chinese fighter heralded by some as the next big thing in the heavyweight division (no pun intended).  He tips the scales at a staggering 7 feet and 287 pounds.  Wow.  Go back and read those measurements again.  And let it sink in.  I’ll wait……………………(twiddles thumbs)…………………………..Has it sunk in yet? Good.  Because the sport of boxing has never seen anything quite like Dong.  The 26-year old fighter hails from the province of Gansu in China and even if he’s had but one professional fight, the hype surrounding him is enormous, perhaps based on sheer size and potential alone.  You think about all of the advantages a fighter like him would have on paper.  Reach advantage (84″ in case you’re wondering).  Punching power.  Physical intimidation.  Ability to withstand blows.  It’s astounding really.  And if Dong is able to hone his considerable physical gifts and turn himself into a devastating fighter? Well they just might have to fold professional boxing all together.

Now there’s not a lot of video of Dong available on the Internet to scrutinize mostly because he’s only fought professionally once (a 2nd round TKO of one Alex Rozman of San Francisco) but from that fight alone, you can see a ton of potential.  Dong isn’t as immobile as you might think and actually exhibited modest footwork and movement around the ring, especially for a man of his size.  He has a destructive right jab capable of sending an opponent to the canvass if it connects (which it actually did against Rozman).  He’s blessed with good instincts and knows how to counter-punch (though a lot of his counter shots didn’t actually connect).  Dong also isn’t a timid fighter as he was often the first to initiate his attack.  He maintains his ground in the ring and is able to use his size to his advantage and bully opponents.  One can definitely see a lot of promise in Taishan Dong.

However, like with any young, raw fighter, Dong has a lot of things to work on.  His offensive attack isn’t the most impressive: his arsenal so far is mostly basic 1-2 combos and hooks as he relies more on punching power than actually boxing an opponent.  Some of his punches are slow and predictable and he also didn’t exhibit much head movement, leaving himself more susceptible to shots upstairs than I would have liked (though in his defense, he might be better off focusing on offense since opponents will have a hard time punching up to reach his head area without tiring).  He had a tendency to get flustered when his opponent threw, turning his head away in an attempt to get out of the line of fire and trying to parry opposing blows with an open palm, two habits experienced fighters would exploit to death.  Also, while his footwork is decent for a man his size, it’s obviously not one of his strengths since he has to carry that frame around the ring.  Additionally, I’d worry about his stamina and ability to go into later rounds since this fight only went 2 rounds and he seems like he would tire easily.

All in all, Dong might be the prototypical high-risk, high-reward fighter.  His upside is enormous (literally and figuratively) and size alone could take this guy very far.  However, he’s still incredibly raw, has some inherent flaws, and his sample size is too small to pass final judgement from.  If I had to take a guess, it’s that Dong will have a high floor in terms of potential thanks to the sheer physical advantages he’ll have against virtually any opponent who gets into the ring with him.  But I don’t think he will be a gamechanger in the heavyweight division because once he starts running into established talent that doesn’t get easily intimidated and keeps the fight a methodical one in the center of the ring, he will no longer able to rely on his size to bully opponents and will be forced to box (something I’m not all that sure he can do yet).  My first instinct when I first heard about Dong was that a guy like Stiverne or Deontay Wilder would destroy him.  And after watching him fight, I still think that’s true.  But with a little hard work and a lot of hours in the gym honing his technique, Taishan Dong just might prove me wrong and live up to all this hype that he’s generating.  Only one thing’s for sure and that’s that I’ll definitely be watching Taishan Dong the next time he steps into the ring.  And you should too.

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 19, 2014 in Articles by Darryn Albert


Tags: ,

Glendale Fight Night Does Not Disappoint

By Darryn Albert





The sweet science returned to the City of Glendale, California over the weekend in style.  After a 62-year municipal ban that barred the sport of boxing from the entire Glendale community, Glendale Fight Night took place on Saturday night at the Glendale Civic Auditorium.   The 5th such professional boxing show since the ban was lifted, the event featured 10 bouts of hard-nosed, in your face action as the fighters made up for what they lacked in name recognition with heart and tenacity.  The card was promoted by Art of Boxing Promotions in conjunction with Bash Boxing and Top Rank and it definitely gave a sold-out audience its money’s worth.  


One of the first fights of the evening was a 6 round welterweight affair as Mesa, Arizona native Saul Benitez was defeated in a unanimous decision by the Liverpudlian Liam Vaughn.  Vaughn, a protégé of famed trainer Freddie Roach (who was in attendance in Vaughn’s corner for the fight), picked his spots to perfection and picked apart his often wild opponent.  Benitez was the more offensive fighter and tried to strike first by going low on the Brit but Vaughn, a defensive master, waited for Benitez to open himself up, then tagged him with well-timed counter punches.  The fight featured many exciting exchanges in the middle of the ring but in the end, it was Vaughn’s combos and counters that bested Benitez’s hooks and uppercuts.  Vaughn was the more poised fighter, standing his ground and blocking several of Benitez’s shots with his gloves and his arms.  He developed a nice 4 punch L-R-L-R combo that he was able to get off with regularity thanks in a large part of the aimlessness of Benitez’s jabs which allowed Vaughn to keep close.  When the bell sounded at the end of the 4th and final round, two judges had it a clean sweep at 40-36, and one judge had it 39-37 all for the winner by unanimous decision: Liam Vaughn.  Vaughn improved to 9-2 while Benitez suffered his 6th professional defeat, falling to 3-6-1.  


Another one of the evening’s exciting fights featured a battle of Luises as Luis Diaz of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico battled Luis Sedano of Duarte, California in a 4 round lightweight bout.  Sedano was in attack mode from the get go as he relentlessly pursued his opponent around the ring from the opening bell.  However, that strategy worked against him in the first round as Diaz, who could pass as a Carlos Boozer doppelganger, used Sedano’s own aggression against him and floored him with a picture-perfect counter.  Credit to Sedano though as he didn’t alter his gameplan after touching the canvass.  Refusing to be intimidated even after get knocked down, Sedano came back and won the last 3 rounds as he set the pace with his left jab and found the soft-spots in Diaz’s defense.  Sedano snapped Diaz’s head back a couple of times and made him eat a ton of hard combination shots.  He stayed aggressive while Diaz was the one who became flustered, finding himself with his back to the ropes and even switching his own stances recklessly.  The crowd admired Sedano’s heart and got behind him chanting his nickname “Smokey! Smokey! Smokey!”  His head movement got better as the fight progressed and it was just an all-around great comeback performance.  Sedano wound up taking this one by unanimous decision as the 3 judges scored the fight 38-37, 38-37, and 38-36 in his favor as he picked up his 3rd professional victory as he jumped to 3-0 and Diaz fell to 1-1.


The main event of the evening pitted knockout artist Jose Felix Jr. against journeyman Alejandro Rodriguez.  The 8 round super featherweight bout was another good one as Felix Jr. impressed with his bounce and footwork while Rodriguez also impressed with his willingness to stand toe-to-toe with his opponent.  It soon became clear, however, who was the better fighter as Felix Jr. bounced and pounced all over Rodriguez who kept his hands up but left enough a gap between them for Felix Jr. to pound his head.  Felix Jr. seemed to have outshot his opponent by at least a 3:1 ratio as they were really fighting his fight.  Felix Jr. would tag, tag, tag, then reset as Rodriguez would just take it.  When Rodriguez did attack, his punches were robotic and could be seen from a mile away.  Meanwhile, his jabs often drew nothing but air while Felix Jr. tagged and countered and tagged and countered him to death.  In the 3rd and 4th rounds, Rodriguez began bleeding profusely from his nose/mouth area and maybe the sight of his own blood invigorated him as he came back to win Round 4 with a burst of aggression that got Felix Jr. on the ropes.  But it was short-lived as Felix Jr. soon began landing with the same accuracy and devastation that characterized his entire evening.  The fight ended prematurely, however, as Rodriguez appeared to injure his arm in the 6th round, forcing the referee to stop the fight.  Later reports claimed that Rodriguez had broken a finger or an arm and it was an anti-climactic ending to what was an otherwise brilliant fight.  Felix Jr. officially claimed the victory by TKO, his 27th for an improvement to 27-2-1 as Rodriguez suffered his 15th defeat to fall to 21-15.


One final fight had a battle of undefeateds squaring off as San Antonio native Benjamin Whitaker got in the ring with Lithuanian fighter Egidijus Kavaliauskas.  On paper, the 6 round welterweight contest seemed to be a balanced fight but it turned out to be one of the more lopsided ones of the evening.  Whitaker, nicknamed “The Blaxican” looked wobbly and off-balance the entire fight.  He looked ready to fall over when he was the one attacking and his footing looked even more unstable when Kavaliauskas tagged him.  Whitaker bounced off the ropes wildly the entire fight and often clung and clinched to his opponent to prevent himself from falling.  He had absolutely no jab and either tried to dodge or absorb all of Kavaliauskas’ punches rather than countering.  Whitaker stuck to almost entirely left hooks and towards the end, his approach could be summed up somewhere along the lines of “hang on for dear life” or “run for the hills.”  Kavaliauskas, a Robert Garcia fighter, didn’t have much of a right hand himself but he timed Whitaker well and drew blood on him by the middle rounds.  Kavaliasukas’ overhand rights were the single best punch of the fight and he knocked down Whitaker once in the 3rd round and twice in the 5th round, the latter of which Whitaker could not get up from.  The KO put an exclamation point on Kavaliauskas’ evening as he moved to 7-0.  Whitaker suffered his first professional defeat and dropped to 7-1.


All in all, it was a wildly entertaining evening at the Glendale Civic Auditorium.  The fighters put on a great show for the fans and the energy level was on full blast the entire evening.  Boxing is back in black in the City of Glendale and we can look forward to a lot of high-octane ringcraft in the city for many years to come.  Score this one a unanimous decision victory for boxing fans everywhere.  



Leave a comment

Posted by on August 13, 2014 in Articles by Darryn Albert


Golovkin Dominates Geale, Scores Round 3 TKO

By Darryn Albert


Photo by Ray Flores

Photo by Ray Flores


Middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin made quick work of challenger Daniel Geale on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, successfully defending his title once again, this time in just 3 rounds. It was a dominating performance for the Kazakh superstar Golovkin (30-0, 27 KOs) as he bulldozed right through the Australian Geale.

A former middleweight titleholder himself, Geale (30-3, 16 KOs) came out wild and shaky and never really seemed to challenge Golovkin, who was methodical and devastating all night. Golovkin, nicknamed GGG, floored Geale once in the second round, then sealed the deal with a crushing right hand at just past the 2 minutes, 35 seconds mark of the third round that sent Geale sprawling to the canvass. Geale got up but was wobbling pretty badly, prompting referee Michael Ortega to stop the fight.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the knockout blow by Golovkin was that it was actually a counter punch thrown in response to straight right hand by Geale that landed near-flush. That was the theme of the evening for Golovkin: responding to Geale’s unsteadiness with precision, efficiency, and destruction.

Golovkin set the tone early with his right jab in a 4 minute first round, though Geale looked good in the early going as well with counters and combinations. The second round is where Golovkin really started turning up the heat, answering with some combinations of his own and pinning Geale on the ropes and firing away. After touching the canvass in the 2nd round, Geale seemed to change his approach to a more conservative one and any hint of aggressiveness from early on quickly disappeared. Geale began moving all around the ring, moving his head wildly, and even appearing to taunt Golovkin at one point, but it was nervous energy at best as he actually seemed quite rattled. Golovkin then stopped Geale shortly thereafter.

It was a clinic for Golovkin as he showed on Saturday night that he’s one of the best in the business at picking his spots and controlling the tempo of a fight. Geale fought his fight all night long and Golovkin provided a nice juxtaposition to Geale’s nervous movement with calm, precise motions.

The final Compubox stats had Golovkin landing 56 of 191 punches (29%) and Geale landing 40 of 140 punches (29%).

The post-fight interview with Max Kellerman was a good one as Golovkin was humble and thanked both Geale and the fans for the opportunity. Golovkin also talked about his style of fighting, one which Kellerman fittingly dubbed “Search and Destroy,” to which Golovkin added that he embodied the Mexican style of aggressiveness and action-seeking as well. Golovkin also provided the quote of the evening telling the fans “You need an amazing show? Just call me!!!”

But perhaps the highlight of the interview was when Kellerman asked Golovkin what his future plans were and which opponent he would like to face next. To that, Golovkin responded that he was focused on 160 and wanted the unification fight. He mentioned “Kid Chocolate” Peter Quillin as well as Sam Soliman. But he made it clear that his next preferred opponent is none other than the one and only Miguel Cotto. Golovkin essentially called out Cotto and made every indication that Cotto is the man he wants next, which would make for quite the quality fight, to say the least.

At the end of the day, it was just another dominating performance by the rising Golovkin, but this one occurring in his debut in a main arena. Daniel Geale was supposed to be his stiffest test yet but Golovkin turned him into nothing more than a statistic: 17th straight opponent knocked out. We’ll see if the Cotto fight happens, but one thing is for sure: Gennady Golovkin is the real deal and he won’t stop until he annihilates anyone and everyone who stands in his way.


Leave a comment

Posted by on July 28, 2014 in Articles by Darryn Albert