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Friday, 10 June 2016

Tyson Returns to the Ring

 Tyson Returns to the Ring
"The last thing I ever thought I'd be doing would be returning to boxing as a promoter.”

Mike Tyson’s last appearance in the gloved game was in 2005. After seven years he is ready to return to the ring—not as a combatant but as a promoter.

Tyson, who will be following the lead of Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali and other champs turned promoters, confided, “The last thing I ever thought I’d be doing would be returning to boxing as a promoter. But these two great businessmen approached me and I loved their ideas. I’m going to be very hands-on, personally checking on the conditioning and style of all our fighters.”

The first ballot Hall-of-Famer developed his craft in upstate New York and that is where he will cut his teeth as a promoter and president of Iron Mike Productions. Tyson’s inaugural show will be take place at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York on this week’s ESPN Friday Night Fights. The main event of the evening will pit IBF junior lightweight champion, Argenis Mendez (21-2, 11 KOs) against Arash Usmanee (20-1, 10 KOs).

In a recent conference call, Tyson asked what he might have absorbed about the business from the one time king of boxing promotions, Don King. Tyson explained that if he learned anything from his former promoter it would have been “how to manipulate my fighters and take advantage of them and tell them lies, and tell them I love them and the white man hates them and we’re [expletive] together, we’re brothers together, and everybody is against us.”

Pushed to reveal how he would be different from other boxing impresarios, Tyson went right to the point, “You will never hear one of my fighters say ‘Mike Tyson stole from me.’”

At the same time, Tyson announced that his future fistic trajectory would include training fighters. Once known as the baddest man on the planet for his pure concussive power, Tyson is also one of the most knowledgeable people on the planet about boxing technique. Indeed, whenever he talks about the x’s and o’s of the sport an unmistakable passion creeps into his voice.

Pressed as to whether he, as a trainer, would be like his legendary mentor, Cus D’Amato, Tyson laughed, “No, only about four percent of the fighters today have the discipline for someone like Cus. Most of them don’t even have the discipline to make weight for a fight.” The man who had wrecking balls for fists reckoned that most present day pugilists lack passion. Tyson was bell clear, “I want fighters who will be exciting, who have a burning desire to fight.”

A professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College, Gordon Marino writes on boxing for the Wall Street Journal. He is on the board and works with boxers at the Circle of Discipline in Minneapolis, as well as at the Basement Gym in Northfield, MN. You can follow him on Twitter at @GordonMarino.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Luis Collazo Wins On Fox Sports 1, But Neither Do Themselves Any Favors

We saw this coming: Ex-contender Luis Collazo heading up any televised card wasn't likely to produce a meaningful outcome, or a thrill a minute. And his win over Alan Sanchez Monday on Fox Sports went exactly as foretold. Despite what the fawning Fox Sports 1 commentary team of Paulie Malignaggi and Castle Chalice (the real name he goes by!) was telling us about Collazo again becoming a contender or the "great show" in San Antonio, none of it was true.

Some people liked Sanchez's chances coming in, part of which was about seeing something in him and part of which was Collazo being a 32-year-old still rebounding from a loss to Freddy Hernandez. Malignaggi found the loss defensible given that Collazo suffered a torn labrum; having not seen the fight, I can't say one way or the other. It's a bad-looking loss on his record, though, certainly worse than losing to Shane Mosley or Ricky Hatton or Andre Berto. Here's what he looked like to me after tonight: A "name" at welterweight who's back in the win column against two of three opponents who weren't pushovers, which includes Sanchez. Sanchez won two of the first four rounds on my card, mostly when he would throw a bunch of right crosses in a row or just generally stay busy. He couldn't keep it up for sufficient stretches to counter Collazo's body work, left hands, ring generalship and defense. I scored it 97-93 after giving Sanchez the 10th, like one judge had it and unlike two others who had it wider — 99-91 and 98-92. Collazo's name ought to get him another fight, and his style is tricky enough to throw an up-and-comer or rehabbing vet some trouble. His style can mesh well with particularly aggressive fighters, which wasn't the type he was facing Monday, so in that sense he didn't exactly help his case for a much bigger bout.

Bantamweight and ex-Olympian Rau'shee Warren scored four knockdowns against Omar Gonzalez but couldn't keep him down in a slight step up in Warren's competition, seeing as how Gonzalez had recently beaten ex-contender Raul Martinez. Warren has hand speed that puts him among the elite pros, and is showing more power than he did as an amateur, but the tradeoff is that he has become more hittable, which is something he'll have to fix going forward or he'll get knocked out. As for Martinez, he kicked off the show with some slugging against Daniel Quevedo, not that it was enough to make up for Martinez looking pretty faded or the non-action elsewhere on the card. He got the win after Quevedo quit in his corner for a 4th round stoppage.

Holland's Johnny Garcia to fight Saturday in Grand Rapids

Johnny Garcia began preparations for his next fight mere minutes after his last fight ended.

It was a trip to Fort Lauderdale, Fla, however, that suggested to Garcia that he needed more intensity in his training than he ever had before.

"I got invited to help a world champion fighter get ready for his next fight by being one of his sparring partners," Garcia said. "Mike Tyson has a training facility in Fort Lauderdale and I was sparring with Argenis Mendez from the Dominican Republic."

Mendez, a silver medalist at the junior world championships in 2004, lost his IBF junior lightweight title fight to Rances Barthelemy on Jan 4 in Minneapolis, but Garcia jokingly said "it wasn’t my fault."

On Saturday, Garcia (18-1, 11 KOs) will make his return to both the ring and to Grand Rapids as he fights Chicago’s Jermaine White (17-6) in a junior welterweight undercard fight. Hudsonville heavyweight Jordan Schimmel is the main attraction for this night of fighting.

Other probable boxers include: Purnell Gates (26 – 2, 15 KOs) from Grandville, Lane Staal (11-0-1, 5 KOs) from Canton and Vincent Jennings (3-0-1, 3 KOs) from Grand Rapids.

Garcia, a Holland native, said he plans to use the knowledge he gained from hanging out with Tyson, a former heavyweight world champion, and sparring with Mendez to add another win to his record.
"I want to show that my skill level is still rising," Garcia, 31, said. "Mendez is slick and crafty and I learned I have to be patient. I feed off the energy of the (home) crowd.

"I want to give them a show, but I know I can’t go out there and bullrush every opponent. The big punches will come."

White has lost his last three fights and has not been in the ring since Jan. 5, 2013 when his fight with Denver’s Robert Frankel was stopped due to an accidental head butt.

Garcia, however, is training for this fight as he has for every one of his previous 19 bouts — like it’s for a championship.

"I didn’t have a set schedule (in Fort Lauderdale), but I was working out hard the whole time I was down there," Garcia said. "I’m not looking past (White). I know I have a tough fight and a tough fighter in front of me."

Tickets for "Wintertime Warfare" are available at Pincushns in downtown Holland or at Holland Cakery ‘n Sweets, 11539 E. Lakewood Blvd. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the fight begins at 7 p.m.

Advance general admission tickets are $25, floor seats are $35. VIP tables are also available. Parking for the event is $7. Admission will rise $10 day of show.

Mendez, Usmanee battle to a 12-round draw on Tyson’s first fight card as a promoter

(AP) — Argenis Mendez and Arash Usmanee fought to a 12-round draw Friday night at the Turning Stone Resort Casino.

Mendez (21-2-1) retained his IBF junior lightweight belt in the marquee attraction of Mike Tyson’s first promotional fight card. Tyson, a member of the Boxing Hall of Fame, has organized an outfit called “Iron Mike Productions,” and his aim is to be a full-service agency for up-and-coming fighters, who can learn the sport, in and out of the ring, from one of the greatest.

Usmanee improved to 20-1-1 in the event, which was tabbed “Tyson Is Back!”

In another bout, Jesus Andres Cueller (23-1) outlasted previously undefeated Claudio Marrero (14-1, 11 KOs) to win the vacant World WBA interim featherweight championship.

Mendez retains after draw

Argenis Mendez retained his IBF featherweight title but only after a controversial draw with Arash Usmanne in New York.

Argenis Mendez (R) with training partner Matthew Hatton and trainer Lee Beard
Argenis Mendez (R) with training partner Matthew Hatton and trainer Lee Beard
Mendez, who is trained in Manchester by Lee Beard, appeared to call the shots in an entertaining fight as the Dominican utilized a 'hit and don't be hit' policy to good effect.

Challenger Usmanne was the aggressor, and the judges clearly favoured his approach while Mendez could be accused of sitting on the ropes for too long.

The champion, in his first defence, typically began slowly but was in charge by round five as he made the Canadian-based Afghan miss the target at will.

Usmanne appeared to run out of steam but still enjoyed his best moments late on, troubling Mendez in the 11th and 12th rounds.

However, it came as some surprise to those in attendance when a score of 115-113 for Usmanne and two tallies of 114-114 meant the result was a majority draw.

Mendez had talked before the fight of making one defence of the title he won by stopping Juan Carlos Salgado earlier this year before stepping up in weight, however a rematch could now be in the offing.

The bout was the main attraction as former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson made his promotional debut.

IBF super featherweight title: Argenis Mendez vs. Juan Carlos Salgado

Robert Easter Jr. stepping up to face former titlist Argenis Mendez

Blue-chip lightweight prospect Robert Easter Jr. will take on former junior lightweight world titleholder Argenis Mendez, the best opponent of his career, on April 1 at the DC Armory in Washington, D.C., Premier Boxing Champions announced on Monday.

Easter-Mendez, which will be either a 10- or 12-round fight, will serve as the co-feature for the previously announced main event: junior welterweight titleholder Adrien Broner (31-2, 23 KOs) in his first defense against Ashley Theophane (39-6-1, 11 KOs).

"I want a world title and this is another big step on my way towards that goal," Easter said at a Monday news conference in downtown Washington, D.C., that was run by Mayweather Promotions boss Floyd Mayweather. "To be able to do it on Adrien Broner's card just guarantees it's going to be a big night. I'm just ready to show off my skills and make a name for myself so that I can continue to grow in this sport."

Easter (16-0, 13 KOs), 25, of Toledo, Ohio, was a 2012 U.S. Olympic alternate and trains with Broner, his good friend.

Mendez (23-3-1, 12 KOs), 29, who is from the Dominican Republic and fights out of Brooklyn, New York, has won two fights in a row, including a decision against former lightweight titleholder Miguel Vazquez in October, since losing his 130-pound belt by unanimous decision to Rances Barthelemy in July 2014.

"I really like this matchup and I can't wait to get into the ring," Mendez said. "I'm a different fighter than two years ago when I lost to Rances Barthelemy. Easter is long and tall. He's a good fighter, but he hasn't fought anyone near my caliber and I think his style sets up well for me.

"It will be a good fight between two talented fighters. When the fans see Easter get counted out by the ref, don't think it's an April Fools joke. It will be the real thing."

The card will also include 21-year-old Baltimore lightweight prospect Gervonta Davis (14-0, 13 KOs), whom Mayweather regularly raves about, taking on Guillermo Avila (16-5, 13 KOs), 23, of Mexico, in a scheduled 10-round fight.

"I'm definitely excited to fight in D.C. This is where my first professional fight was," Davis said of a February 2013 fight at the Armory. "I have a great team, especially Floyd Mayweather, who has taken me in and taught me so much about boxing but also about everything outside of the ring. I'm blessed to have his support in my career.

"April 1, it's going to be an action-packed fight. I will be a world champion one day. You don't want to miss this one."

Said Mayweather: "Gervonta Davis is someone I look at like a son. I met him in 2014 and they said this is the next big thing. Broner brought him to my gym to let me see him work. He's a very explosive kid. He's exciting and he will be fighting for a world title soon after a couple more bouts."
Lightweight Anthony Peterson (36-1, 24 KOs), the younger brother of former junior welterweight titleholder Lamont Peterson, will also appear on the card in a scheduled 10-round fight against an opponent to be announced.

"This is my 38th fight, going for my 37th victory and fourth knockout in a row," Peterson, 30, of Washington, D.C., said. "Boxing isn't something you talk about, you just do it. That's what I'm going to do April 1. It's going down. I made my pro debut on a Roy Jones card, which was another big stage. So I'm very ready and blessed.

"I'm coming to give my hometown fans the knockout. Boxing is like jazz -- the better it is, the less it's appreciated. A knockout will get you praise. I'm targeting everybody in the division. I want a belt. The first one to step up, I'm going to take care of him."
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