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Tag Archives: HBO Boxing

Could Kovalev be the first to crush Hopkins?

Photo by Gene Blevins

Photo by Gene Blevins

No one in boxing today has a more fitting moniker than “The Crusher” Kovalev. Sweet science old adage to hit and not get hit is not his philosophy. The man goes into the ring with one thing on his mind – to crush you. If you don’t believe me just ask some of his latest victims like former champ Nathan Cleverly or Ismayl Sillah. Sergey “The Crusher” Kovalev didn’t just beat them up; he crushed them and their respective careers into pieces.

” This is boxing,” said Kovalev on Thursday during a media day at Big Bear, California designed to promote November 8th light heavyweight unification bout with Bernard Hopkins:” It’s not running, it’s not swimming, it’s fighting.” But what really stuck in my mind was what Sergey said on HBO prior to his fight with Blake Caparello. To paraphrase it Kovalev said that he sacrificed and worked really hard in preparation for the fight and now somebody is going to have to pay for it.

Please, do not be confused by his angelic smile, this is a threat of extreme violence which was promptly delivered on poor Blake Caparello in the second round of their recent encounter. Perhaps boxing saved society from yet another violent felon. Wait, just because a man has an edge doesn’t mean he has violent tendencies. Why do I say that? My first encounter with Kovalev’s actions in the ring convinced me of that.

It was about three years ago at the famed Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. In the second stanza Kovalev’s glancing body blow rendered his opponent Grover Young unconscious. The fight was stopped. Visibly upset Sergey was running around the ring and yelling obscenities in Russian and egging his opponent to get up and fight like a man.” This is not a prize fight. This guy will gladly fight for free,” I thought.

Crusher also talked to Ismayl Sillah in the ring, while administering a violent beat down. He begged former amateur stand out from Ukraine to get up after a knock down, so that he could kick his ass. Even the fight with Roman Simakov that took place in December of 2011 in Russia did not change Kovalev’s attitude and violence in the ring. This fight was not widely publicized by American media because it took place in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Kovalev brutalized his opponent for seven rounds until the fight was stopped and Simakov was taken out of the ring on the stretcher and taken to a hospital. Roman Simakov never regained consciousness and passed away a few days later. Kovalev did express his sincere remorse…

Tragedies like that usually adversely affect boxer’s careers. I can think of a few recent examples. Jesus Chavez was never the same after Lavender Johnson expired following their vicious battle. Robert’s cousin, Javier Garcia needed physiological counseling after his fatal six rounder with Jackson Bussell. Javier was never the same after that.

This has not been the case for Sergey Kovalev. He continues to crush his opponents like a wrecking ball on the construction site. Next in his way is a doctor of sweet science, an ageless wonder, Bernard Hopkins. Despite of his advanced age of 49, Hopkins opined that he eats guys like Kovalev for breakfast and he has history to back it up. Veteran Hopkins has tasted defeat a few times throughout his hall of fame career. He has been beat, but never beaten up, just out boxed or out pointed. Could Crusher be the first to do it? And if so, what is the strategy?

“I don’t have any strategy,” said Kovalev whose wife Natalia is expecting to have their first baby, any day now:” I just go into the fight. What will happen will happen. I am not scared to lose; I’m not scared to win. This is a sport. But Hopkins is a legend. He is the professor of boxing. He’s a very proud man as a boxer. He’s very smart, he’s very technical. It will be very difficult to fight him and for me it will be very big test. I’m ready for any test in my life.”

Their twelve round unification championship fight will be televised by HBO live from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. History will be made, one way or another.

 

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Marquez puts on a boxing clinic at his Forum return against Alvarado

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Los Angeles- Mexican ring legend Juan Manuel Marquez promised a war on Saturday night against Mike Alvarado at the newly revamped Fabulous Great Western Forum. Instead mostly pro Marquez crowd at the arena got the master boxing class by one of the best in the business interlaced with occasional fireworks. Forty years old Juan Manuel Marquez (56-7-1,40K KO’S) showed no signs of aging and marked his return to the Forum with a brilliant display of boxing skills and will. All three judges had Marquez the winner by a wide margin. Max DeLuca and Julie letterman scored 117-109. Robert Byrd 119-108.

“I wanted to give public here a gift “said Marquez after the fight:” A gift that signifies the history of this event. A gift for the fans. As I said before age doesn’t matter.”

 

 

Turning back the clock of his younger days at the Forum Marquez attacked early and dominated the first round as the crowd cheered him on. Alvarado (34-3,23KO’S) did not start throwing punches till the end of the round. Marquez won the second with activity and by simply being an aggressor. What is Alvarado waiting for? We got the answer to that question in the third as every time Mike attacked and missed he got countered by the best counterpuncher in the business. Master boxing class continued in the fourth as Marquez fired beautiful combinations as accurate as snipers bullets never forgetting to go to the body. Alvarado tried to be more aggressive in the fifth which only played in the hands of Marquez who continued to counter with blistering combinations. Slower than usual sixth stanza culminated in the firefight late. Master boxing clinic continued in the seventh as Master boxer fired vicious combination on bewildered Alvarado.

Marquez scored a spectacular right hand knock down at the tail end of the eighth which sent Mike through the ropes and almost out of the ring. Alvarado was saved by the bell.” Mile High” Mike returned a favor and dropped Marquez early in the ninth with a hard right. It only inspired Juan Manuel to fight harder and initiate the most vicious exchanges in the fight. Alvarado’s face looked a bloody mess at the beginning of the tenth, the round Marquez dominated landing powerful combinations. Marquez’s glove almost touched the canvas from Alvarado’s punch, but referee Pat Russell made a correct no call. Juan Manuel closed the show the same way he opened it with a beautiful combination as the crowd roared in appreciation.

Prior to this bout Marquez stated repeatedly that his goal was to make history and to become the first Mexican fighter to win five championship titles in as many weight categories. To achieve that goal Juan Manuel Marquez has to fight newly crowned welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao. Are we to expect Marquez Pacquiao v?

“We will relax. I don’t know at the moment,” said Marquez who previously stated that his business with Pacquiao was finished:” But any decision that I make will be good for me, my family and all the Mexican fans.”

 

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Professional Boxing

 

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How many wars does a fighter have in him?

Marquez faces Mike Alvarado

Marquez faces Mike Alvarado

 

That is the question that should be posed to both warriors Mexico City’s Juan Manuel Marquez(55-7-1,40KO’S) and Denver’s Mike Alvarado(34-2,23KO’S) who are set to face off in the ring this Saturday, May 17th at the newly revamped, Fabulous Great Western Forum in Los Angeles. Scheduled for twelve rounds welterweight scrap contracted at a catch weight of 144 pounds will be televised live by HBO.

Conventional wisdom says thirty three years old Mike Alvarado, seven year junior of his opponent, is a fresher fighter. He is younger, taller, stronger, less shop warn warrior. Or is he? Last five fights involving Mike Alvarado have been bloody, brutal wars. Gory and battered” Mile High” Mike scored a come from behind knock out in a violent blood bath with Breidis Prescott in Las Vegas at the tail end of 2011. He then won a war of attrition over skillful Mauricio Herrera in April of 2012. Two savage brawls with Brandon Rios followed. Alvarado was knocked out in the first one in October of 2012 in Los Angeles , but came back to win the second one by decision in March of 2013 in Las Vegas. Last time out in October of 2013 at home in Denver , Colorado, Alvarado was destroyed by Siberian Rocky, Ruslan Provodnikov in a kind of fight that ends careers. Team Alvarado contends that there were too many distractions for Mike fighting at home, but this time training in Los Angeles for ring great Juan Manuel Marquez would be completely different story.

“I took a couple of month to put that fight behind me,” admitted Alvarado during telephone conference on Tuesday:” Knowing that it was in my hometown, in front of all my people and my family. It was tougher mentally, but physically I am fine- I got past it. I just focused on my health and it was good. Then I began to focus on which was going to be next.”

 

Next is Mexican ring legend, “Dynamita” Juan Manuel Marquez who is not a stranger to wars in the ring.

How about a twelve round war with Agapito Sanchez right here at the Great Western Forum in 1997 or a first real loss of his professional career to Freddie Norwood in 1999 in Las Vegas. My personal favorite is a first battle with Manny Pacquiao in 2004. Down three times in a first round with bloody broken nose and a bewildered look on his face regal Mexican warrior got up and fought back leaving everything he had in the ring that night to earn a draw on the judges’ scorecards. Who can forget surprisingly savage slugfest with Cuban sensation Joel Casamayor in 2008 in Las Vegas? Marquez scored a spectacular 11th round knockout and had the crowd at Mandalay Bay in uproar. Another memorable battle took place in 2009 in Houston, Texas. I was ringside to witness younger, stronger, bigger “Baby Bull” Diaz seemingly overwhelm Marquez early in the fight. Juanma regrouped, adjusted and knocked out young Juan Diaz as the stunned knowledgeable boxing crowd wailed in appreciation. Manny of fans couldn’t go to sleep that night thinking and talking about crimson battle they witnessed. Three other fights with Pacquiao are definitely worth mentioning. Those were the kind of wars that would take a lot out of ordinary fighter. Especially the last one where busted up and gory Marquez, seemingly ready to be finished by his longtime rival, landed a right hand that ended the night for Pacquiao and reverberated through the arena and the rest of the boxing world. Like a fine wine forty year old Juan Manuel seems to get better with age.

 

Marquez however, lost his last fight to Timothy Bradley, but it was more of a boxing match than a bloody war. Both Alvarado and Marquez desperately need a win on Saturday night. “Yes, this fight is important for the two fighters, “said Marquez during telephone conference on Tuesday:” Because Mike Alvarado lost his last fight and I lost my last fight and he wants to win and I want to win and this fight is great for the two fighters. He likes to fight and I like to fight so that’s what makes a great fight.”

Great fighters make a great fight. Both of these warriors have been in a lot of great fights. But remaining question: “How many wars does a fighter have in him?” will be answered on Saturday night.

 

 

Marquez faces Mike Alvarado

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Professional Boxing

 

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Could the third time be a charm for Ray Beltran?

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Most fighters learn their craft in the amateurs and perfect it as professionals. Others like Chavez Jr and Canelo Alvarez take the route less travelled and learn on the job. Thirty two year old Raymundo Beltran (28-6-1,17KO’S), of on the job training variety perfected his craft by being a sparring partner of ring great, Manny Pacquiao. Pacman is currently preparing for the April 12th rematch with Tim Bradley.

“They don’t need me right now because of styles,” said Beltran when I asked him about working with Pacquiao:” May be they will call me later. Anyways, right now we focus on my fight. If they call me it would be great. Even if I fight with Manny, southpaw, still it is top level to get me ready.”

Beltran’s next fight could be the most important one of his professional career. He is to challenge former super featherweight champion from Puerto Rico, Roman Martinez (27-2-2,16KO’S) for vacant WBO lightweight crown. “April 12th in Vegas,” exclaimed Beltran:” On Manny Pacquiao and Bradley undercard.” Twelve rounds contest will be televised live by HBO PPV from MGM’s Grand Garden Arena.

This will be Beltran’s third bid for a title. Considering his age it might be his last. He failed his first attempt at vacant WBO belt in May of 2011 to Sharif Bogere via unanimous but controversial decision. Ray’s second attempt took him to Scotland where he fought a local champ Ricky Burns in September of 2013. It ended in a controversial split decision draw.

“Its politics,” explained Beltran:”You know how it is. You know the business. To me what really matters is that everybody saw the fight, everybody saw that I won. It was a good performance by me.” Despite a good performance the much coveted belt eluded rugged warrior from Sinaloa, Mexico. What can he do to ensure success in his third attempt?

“I have to work harder to do better,” continued Beltran:”I am happy right now because I have another fight. So I am positive. I leave the past in the past and I move on. The plan is to finish earlier than what it’s scheduled for, but at the same time be smart and don’t be too crazy.”

Raymundo Beltran is no longer just a sparring partner. When I caught up to him last Friday at the Wildcard West in Santa Monica he was getting his hands wrapped for a spirited sparring session with former champion Stevie Forbes. And he had his own fans there like HBO’s “ Ray Donovan’s” Live Schreiber, who is also a voice  behind acclaimed HBO documentary “ 24/7”

“ We do the sparring session hard,” said Beltran:” They demand a lot from me. We have nothing but first class sparring.” In fact the kind of sparring Raymundo Beltran gets these days would be the envy for most fighters around the world.” I’ve been sparring with Vicente Escobedo. He helped me last week,” continued Beltran:” Steve Forbes, great sparring. We get real champions, real contenders.”

Raymundo Beltran evolved into a highly rated contender, well known for his physicality, conditioning and getting stronger in the later rounds. “ I got the best strength and conditioning coach in Rob Garcia,” explained Beltran: ”He trained Oscar De La Hoya for eight years. He is in charge of keeping me in great shape.” Judging by the intensity of the sparring session Rob Garcia is doing a great job with Raymundo whose three beautiful kids and a wife were also on hand to observe the training. “ That’s the reason why I fight, my kids,” said Beltran:” My motivation is them. I do my best and I train really hard to put on a good show.” His April 12th showdown with Roman Martinez might just still the show.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2014 in Professional Boxing

 

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Could Lomachenko continue his winning ways in the pros?

 

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Amateur stand out from Ukraine Vasyl Lomachenko is scheduled to fight Orlando Salido for WBO featherweight title on March 1st at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. HBO will televise this event live. What is so intriguing about it is that it is only Lomachenko’s second professional fight. When asked if he was surprised about getting a title fight so quickly Vasyl said:” Yes, because I was aiming to do it in my first fight. I am surprised it is in the second.” Every joke has an element of truth to it and so is this one. Lomachenko’ s manager Egis Klimas shared that when highly coveted by promoters, two times Olympic gold medalist met Top Rank’s boss Bob Arum they didn’t talk about money. When asked by Hall of Fame promoter what he wanted, Vasyl said a title fight. Veteran promoter, Arum quickly came up with a solution. He suggested Lomachenko fight a ten rounder first on the undercard of a title fight between Salido and Cruz. Should everything go according to the script Vasyl was promised a title fight with the winner.

“ Where do I sign,” said Lomachenko who shined in his professional debut stopping veteran Mexican fighter Jose Ramirez in the fourth round with a well-placed body shot.

And so here we are. Orlando Salido is a battle tested veteran champion who has wrecked a few careers on his way. Would he be too much too soon for an amateur star whose longest fight up to date was a five rounder during World Series of Boxing Championships. Experts believe there is a huge difference between amateur and professional boxing. But not Vasyl.” Perhaps physical preparation plays the major role, the conditioning to get into later rounds, “said Lomachenko:” Everything else is pretty much the same.”

Vasyl was first in the boxing ring at the age of four and he knew he was destined for greatness at an early age.” As I remember it I was about 6 or 7 years old, I was already attending first grade,” reminisced Lomachenko:” I asked my father then what would be better to win world championship or Olympic Games. And my father replied that of course Olympic champion is more prestigious, because it only happens once every four years. Ok then I said, I will become an Olympic champion. After that moment I was seriously dedicated to boxing.” Vasyl did not disappoint his father Anatoly a well-respected trainer who put together national Ukrainian boxing Olympic team. He won an Olympic Gold twice; as a featherweight in 2008 and as lightweight in 2012. Aside from a Gold medal Vasyl Lomachenko was awarded Val Barker trophy as the most outstanding boxer of 2008 Olympics in Beijing China.

Finishing his incredible amateur career with a record of 396-1, Lomachenko has probably seen any kind of style in the ring and is five to one favorite to beat current champion on March 1st. But what kind of danger does Salido presents?

“When I come out to fight I see every opponent as danger,” said Lomachenko:” I take each foe equally seriously. This fight of course is no exception. I spar with two Mexicans with the same body type and weight that resemble Salido. That’s all I can tell you about this.”

Despite the unrest in Ukraine, Lomachenko seems focused on the task at hand. When asked about it Vasyl said: “Sports and politics don’t mix. I am sure you’ve heard that about hundred people are dead and of course it doesn’t leave me unfazed, of course I feel unhappy about  what is going on in my country. But what are you going to do. I don’t know anything about politics. So I can’t side with either side, but the fact that a lot of people are dying is not right.” Vasyl told me that he knows heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko personally and  admires his efforts in Ukraine, but his focus right now is solely on a fight at hand and so far everything is going according to team’s plan.

Surprisingly, Klitschko brothers are not Vasyl’s boxing heroes.” When I was a kid and started to understand boxing my hero was Mike Tyson,” said Lomachenko: “When I was around 9 or 10 Roy Jones became a star and my attention was turned to him.” If you haven’t seen young Ukrainian star in the ring, erroneously he is a combination of speed and athleticism of Roy Jones and power of Mike Tyson. But when I asked him to compare winning an Olympic gold to winning a professional world title, Vasyl smiled and said:” I haven’t won yet; therefore it is difficult to judge now. Probably after March 1st I will be able to answer this question objectively.”

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2014 in Professional Boxing

 

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