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PRIOR to his light welterweight title fight against the great Julio Cesar Chavez, Greg Haugen famously dismissed his opponent’s record as being padded with wins “against Tijuana Taxi drivers that my mom could whip.”

On Saturday night, in Anaheim, California, Argentine David Emanuel Peralta brought a renewed sense of pride to fighting cabbies worldwide as he upset a returning Robert Guerrero in a fight that most people assessed as a deplorable mismatch prior to it taking place.

“I didn’t think I was prepared to fight at this level,” said Peralta after his surprising win. “But I clearly showed that I am.”

Peralta, who called the sport of boxing his “true love,” contemplated retirement as recently as two months ago. He was driving a taxi to make ends meet when he received a call to fly up to the States to essentially play stepping stone in Robert Guerrero’s renewed title aspirations.

Rolling over was not in his plans, however, as Peralta outboxed and roughed up the veteran former multi-division champion over the course of twelve rounds. The final scores were split 115-113 for each fighter, and 116-112 for Peralta.

In the early rounds, Peralta was jumpy and noticeably awkward. Guerrero immediately took advantage of his rival’s stiffness, landing strong lefts and heavy jabs that were noticeably more powerful than the initial punches thrown by the Argentine.

The southpaw stance favored by Guerrero did not seem to faze Peralta, himself a righty and, as he approached the middle rounds, Peralta had already begun to find angles and a comfortable distance from which to unleash his attack on Guerrero.

As Guerrero began to tire, and Peralta began to realize that he belonged in that ring with the former champion, the underdog found a home for his stealthy hooks over Guerrero’s guard. The more he landed on Guerrero, the more relaxed and confident he became, a fact that translated into results in the second half of the fight.

In the ninth round, Peralta landed a couple of thudding right hands that almost sent Guerrero to the canvas, had the corner not stopped the fall. The official did not make an official ruling but the exchange riled up the crowd and elevated Peralta’s confidence. He bullied “The Ghost” right back against the ropes once more and stunned him with a powerful right hook as the round was coming to a close.

By that point in the match, the momentum had clearly shifted and the fight became Peralta’s to lose. He finished strong in the final round with a two punch combination that rocked the former champion and walked through a vicious left hand from Guerrero that landed square between his gloves but failed to slow him down. It was the perfect way for the underdog to show the world that he belonged at that level and on that stage.

“I am well prepared,” said Peralta prior to the fight. “I came here to fight. I am prepared to go the distance. I am going to throw a lot of punches, move around and be ready to get the decision. This is the biggest fight of my career. It is very important. I have to go out there and put on a great show.”

He accomplished what he set out to do and can now return to his native country of Argentina to celebrate, by far, the biggest victory of his career. With Saturday night’s performance, one can also expect Premier Boxing Champions to fly him back up to North America to prove that it wasn’t all just a fluke.

 

 

August 27, 2016
August 27, 2016
Sergey Kovalev

Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports

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TICKETS for one of the most anticipated fight of the year go on sale to the public on Friday, September 2 at 11:00 a.m. PT. The Saturday, November 19 showdown between WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) and Two-Time World Champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) will crown one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Tickets start at $55 and are available on axs.com and the T-Mobile Arena box office.

Kovalev vs. Ward “Pound for Pound” is presented by Main Events, Roc Nation Sports, Krusher Promotions and Andre Ward Promotions and sponsored by the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. The championship event will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View® beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.

Kovalev, the Russian Wrecking Ball, 33, has been dominating boxing’s light heavyweight division with his aggressive, fan-friendly style since his breakout performance against then-unbeaten Nathan Cleverly in 2013. His rise to boxing stardom has been meteoric, as he has gone from an unknown fighter from Chelyabinsk, Russia to headlining HBO Pay-Per-View in just four years after signing with his first promoter, Main Events. Out of of Kovalev’s 30 career victories 26 have come by way of knockout. Additionally, he has entered into championship rounds only twice in his professional career. Kovalev has always sought to test himself against the best boxing has to offer; he wants to prove in the ring that he deserves that mantle.

Ward, 32, the last American man to win an Olympic Gold Medal in boxing (2004), reigned as the WBA Super Middleweight World Champion from 2009 to 2015 while fighting mostly out of his hometown, Oakland, CA. He announced his intention to move to up to the light heavyweight division in search of a bigger challenge in 2015, shortly after signing with his current promoter, Roc Nation Sports. He has been a top rated pound-for-pound fighter since 2011. Ward is seeking to assume his place and leave a legacy at the top of the sport.

Kovalev said, “I am very excited to finally get my chance to face Andre Ward on November 19. I want to face the best competition. I want to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Thank you to all of my fans and I hope everyone will come out and see this great fight on November 19 in Las Vegas.”

Ward responded, “I am excited, man. I am looking forward to it. I want to be the light heavyweight champion of the world… We will see you in November. I have been doing this for 22 years and if I am not ready to fight the best now then I will never be ready. I have been preparing for these moments since I been a kid. You got to respect Sergey for the way he has gotten to where he has gotten. He didn’t have any soft touches. He wasn’t protected. He wasn’t really pushed by the media. He is a guy who should get a lot more credit than he has. The winner of this fight could possibly be pound-for-pound #1.”

Main Events’ CEO, Kathy Duva, added, “There is no greater thrill for a boxing promoter than putting together a fight that the fans want to see. Sergey has always strived to be the best and face the best and on November 19 the new Pound-for-Pound king will be crowned. I think it is fitting that this fight is taking place in Las Vegas. Las Vegas has been home to many of the biggest and best fights, including both Taylor-Chavez I and De La Hoya-Trinidad. Now it will be the venue for the first Pound-For-Pound showdown of the new millennium. This should be a great night!”

Roc Nation President & Chief of Branding and Strategy, Michael Yormark, said, “From its inception, Roc Nation Sports Boxing has remained committed to promoting the biggest fights featuring the world’s best fighters. That is exactly what we have in Kovalev-Ward – a fight that transcends boxing, transcends sports, and enters the rarefied realm of seminal cultural events. On Nov. 19, on boxing’s most legendary stage, we will find out who the best boxer in the world truly is. It will be a clash of cultures, styles, strategies and personalities and we are proud to represent Andre and be a part of history.”

“This pound-for-pound battle between two great champions will be a sensational matchup at T-Mobile Arena,” said Richard Sturm, president of Entertainment and Sports for MGM Resorts International.  “We look forward to working with both Main Events and Roc Nation Sports on this championship event which should be one of the most anticipated fights of the year.”

August 27, 2016
August 27, 2016
Earnie Shavers

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HARDEST PUNCHER I FOUGHT

“TWO guys spring to mind in the late Ron Lyle, a very good friend of mine, and George Foreman. Lyle hit me the harder – the hardest I’ve ever been hit in my life! Lyle had a great right hand. We had a great fight [September 1975, a sixth-round stoppage for Lyle]. I had him down, he had me down. I’d say Lyle, Foreman and myself are the three hardest punchers in [heavyweight] history.”

TOUGHEST FIGHT I HAD

“THE toughest guy I fought was named Roy ‘Tiger’ Williams from Philadelphia [December 1976]. He was a big, strong guy and I had to fight him hard all night just to keep him from overwhelming me. He just kept coming and I finally knocked him out in the last 10 seconds of the 10th and last round. But before that he almost knocked me out. He took a great shot.”

BEST NIGHT OF MY CAREER

“THE best night of my boxing life was when I knocked out Jimmy Ellis in one round at Madison Square Garden in June 1973. That really opened things up for me. He was a former heavyweight champ and I handled him with ease and showed the world my power. I knocked him out with a right uppercut.”

WORST NIGHT

“THE second fight with Larry Holmes, when I challenged him for the [WBC] title [in September 1979]. I just could not get going that night, I don’t know why. Larry got me with a thumb in the eye, I think in the sixth, and that tore my retina. I got him down in the seventh, but he got up and I couldn’t finish him. He finally stopped me in the 11th. Larry had the great old-time trainers and they taught him all the tricks.”

Read: Larry Holmes: ‘Earnie Shavers hit harder than Mike Tyson’

BEST FIGHTER I SPARRED

“Larry Holmes. I hired him in 1973 to help me get ready for Jimmy Ellis. I’ve known Larry since he was 17 years old. I’d say we sparred a couple of hundred rounds. We went at it hard, each giving the other guy good work. Larry had a great left jab but was also very durable. The first time I sparred him, I knew he’d be world champ one day.”

HARDEST PART OF RETIREMENT

“Simple – there are no more big cheques to cash! Seriously, money was a big part of it, but I have no real regrets. I’m quite well off financially. At first I missed the spotlight, but now I still get enough attention and I’m grateful for all my fans. I had a great career and I think I did well.”

August 27, 2016
August 27, 2016
kohei_kono

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CURRENT WBA World super flyweight champion Kohei Kono (32-8-1, 13 KOs) will be defending his belt in a mandatory clash against the interim WBA champion at 115 pounds, Panamanian Luis Coencepcion (34-4, 24 KOs). The bout is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, August 31st at Ota-City General Gymnasium in Kono’s hometown of Tokyo, Japan.

“(Concepcion) is perhaps the most dangerous rival of my boxing career,” said Kono. “Win or lose, the fight will end by knockout.”

This will be Kono’s second consecutive defense at Ota-City following his memorable battle against countryman Koki Kameda. The fight was the first all-japanese world title bout staged in the United States.

They gained many fans in Chicago that night, engaging in frantic and often rough exchanges all night long. One knockdown, three point deductions and 1700 punches were logged by the fighters by the time the final bell rang.

It was a war that would have easily stolen the night had it not played opener to the brutal contest staged by Andrezj Fonfara and Nathan Cleverly.

For Concepcion, this will be his first fight outside of Latin America. He carries a power advantage into the fight and a game plan that he feels may help knock Kono off his perch.

“He is a great fighter and I respect him a lot,” said Concepcion. “The weakness of Kohei Kono is that he starts slowing down in the latter part of his fights. He gets careless and drops his guard.”

A win for Concepcion will be a career-defining victory for the Panamanian and will elevate him to full champion status with the WBA.

If Kono were to come out the victor, it may pave the way for a unification super-fight later this year against WBO Super flyweight champion, Naoya “The Monster” Inoue, one of boxing’s brightest rising stars. The battle would likely be held in Tokyo and draw massive national attention, as well as pique the interest of fight fans abroad.

August 27, 2016
August 27, 2016
Ishe Smith

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FORMER world champion Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith (28-8, 12 KOs) is locked in and focused on training camp as he prepares to headline Premier Boxing Champions: The Next Round on Bounce TV Friday, September 16 as he takes on once-beaten contender Frank “Notorious” Galarza (17-1, 11 KOs) from The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Televised coverage begins on Bounce TV at 9 p.m. ET/PT and features a super welterweight showdown between Domonique Dolton (17-0-1, 9 KOs) and Justin DeLoach (15-1, 8 KOs).

The Las Vegas-native will be fighting in his hometown for the 18th time in his career when he faces Galarza. A former 154-pound titlist, Smith looks to prove that he is still amongst the championship contenders in the division with a victory on September 16.

Here is what Smith had to say about training camp, his opponent and more:

How has this training camp been going and how does it compare to past camps?

“Pretty steady, we are taking things back to the basics and correcting a lot of errors. We are focused on fixing some things and working on a few new techniques. We are going back to school and fine tuning the details. It is so hard to compete at the highest level in boxing. The champion and contender level is very challenging. I have lost a couple of close fights at this level, and won a few at this level as well.

“This training camp has been good but more challenging than the past camps. I normally am the one calling the shots and taking control, but I have given all of that to my coaches and let them take the reins. I have been in this game for 16 years, 30 overall as both a professional and amateur. If I want to get where I need to be, I need to have the right team in place, and that is what I respect about my current team.”

What kind of skill set does your opponent bring and how do you prepare for it?

“I’m not wasting my time focusing on what Galarza does or what he has done to his opponents. My opponent is myself and executing the game plan that we put forth. A lot of people think this is a big step up for him and they usually get hungrier when given the opportunity, but I have been in there with other hungry young fighters. I am going to go out there and show him there are levels to this.”

If you can get past Galarza, who would you like to fight in the 154-pound division next?

“I am totally focusing on the opponent at hand. I would like to fight again this year if possible, but my main focus is Galarza. He is coming off of a loss, where he got stopped. I have been in there with everybody, and the guys I lost to were controversial decisions. I have been around the block so my main opponent on September 16 is myself. There are levels to this game and I am going to treat this fight at such.”

What does it mean to you to fight in front of your hometown fans in Las Vegas?

“Whenever I can fight in front of my family, friends, and loved ones, it means everything to me. I have never fought at the Cosmopolitan, but have been to fights there. Headlining a fight there adds another notch to my career.”

As one of the more experienced members of the Mayweather Promotions stable, have you taken on a mentor/leadership role with the young fighters in the gym?

“Most definitely. I am the oldest on the team, so if I feel like guys are doing things wrong or if I think they should be going right instead of left, I definitely let them know. I am an old soul. I may not hang out every day or want to do the things they like to do, but I still give them my advice.

“I hope that I help to motivate them. I want to prevent them from making some of the decisions I made that I then had to learn from. Some may think I’m being hard on them but you just have to take it as constructive criticism and keep learning.”

August 27, 2016
August 27, 2016
USA boxing

Action Images/Peter Cziborra

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USA Boxing’s 2016 Olympic medalists are the pride of their hometowns and two of them will receive honorary parades celebrating their Rio hardware over the weekend. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) enjoyed a huge welcome celebration upon touching down in Flint on Tuesday and events honoring the history maker have continued across the city. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) will be returning to his beloved hometown of Newark on Sunday in time for his parade in downtown Newark while bronze medalist Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas) will continue his victory lap around the city with his parade on Saturday.

Stevenson won a silver medal in the 2016 Olympic Games, the highest finish for a male American boxer since 2004. He entered the 2016 Olympic Games with a perfect 23-0 international record and dazzled in his opening two bouts, winning two unanimous decision victories to advance on to the semifinal round. The 19-year-old Newark native faced returning Olympic gold medallist Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba in the bantamweight finale and the two talented boxers engaged in one of the closest bouts of the 2016 Olympic Games. Ramirez pulled out the decision by one round on one judges’ scorecard to give Stevenson, the youngest boxer in his weight division, the Olympic silver medal. Following the hard fought bout, Stevenson showed his class and grace in acknowledging his opponent. His silver medal is the first for the United States since 2000 and the first Olympic medal for an American bantamweight since Clarence Vinson in the same Sydney Olympic Games.

Stevenson’s parade will begin at Noon on Sunday at Military Park and conclude with a presentation of A Key to the City from Newark Mayor Ras Baraka at 1 p.m. at City Hall.

The 19-year-old Olympic silver medalist is sponsored by Powerade, and is “Just a Kid” from Newark. The “Just a Kid” campaign reinforces a simple, but powerful truth: whether you’re one of the best professional athletes in the world or a teen grinding just to make varsity, we’re all Just a Kid from somewhere, full of big dreams and potential.

Hernandez set the tone for the U.S. Olympic boxing team in Brazil, reeling off three straight victories in his first Olympic Games. The light flyweight faced off with number two seed of Russia in his second bout but he wasn’t intimidated by his opponent’s resume or ranking. Hernandez defeated his Russian foe to advance on to the quarterfinal round with Ecuador. He kept the run going in his quarterfinal bout, clinching a spot on the medal stand with his third win of the tournament. The victory secured the first medal for an American male boxer since 2008 and the first piece of Olympic hardware for an American light flyweight since 1988. Hernandez’s improbable Olympic run ended in the semifinals in a highly competitive loss to eventual gold medalist Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan.

As the first Olympic medalist from Wichita since 1984, celebrations for Hernandez have been ongoing since his arrival home. Hernandez graced the cover of the Wichita Eagle and was met with a crowd of adoring fans at the airport. He will have his own parade as well on Saturday morning at 10 a.m., beginning at Nomar Square and concluding at North High School.

Fans and supporters in Newark and Wichita are encouraged to attend the hometown parades and celebrate the accomplishments of the two young boxers.

For the latest betting odds on the boxing click HERE

August 27, 2016
August 27, 2016
Michael Bentt

Action Images/Sportin Pictures/Chris Lobina

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A NOT-VERY-FUNNY thing happened to Tommy ‘The Duke’ Morrison on his way to a world heavyweight title fight against Lennox Lewis. He bumped into Michael Bentt and 93 seconds later, Morrison wasn’t fighting Lewis any more.

Born in London, Bentt spent his first six years living with an aunt in East Dulwich and the then travelled back and forth between Jamaica and New York, where his father was trying to set down roots.

His father’s cousin, George Bentt, was the last boxer Sugar Ray Robinson beat, while big brother Winston boxed Mike Tyson as an amateur. Michael was a three-time winner of the United States Amateur Boxing championships, was four times crowned New York Golden Gloves champion and won bronze at the 1986 World Amateurs.

He missed out on the Seoul Olympics after Ray Mercer handed him the seventh and eight losses of his 156-fight amateur career and had Emanuel Steward in his corner when he made his professional debut against Jerry Jones on an ESPN-screened show in February 1989.

Bentt, the can’t-miss prospect, was beaten inside a round.

“I was beyond depressed,” he said. “I was suicidal. I wanted to cover my head in shame every day.”

Bentt gave up boxing and went to work in a hospital in Detroit, cleaning implements. He returned to New York and met a friend for a run. Bentt said: “I came back to my car and there was something under my windscreen wiper. It read: ‘HEY CHAMP ESPN KO HA HA HA.’

“It was very painful and I never forget things like that.”

Bentt went back to work and tried to forget about boxing. Mickey Duff, the British manager and promoter, reminded him about his former career with a phone call asking him to spar unbeaten Gary Mason.

“I said: ‘No, of course not’,” said Bentt. “I was terrified. But I thought about it and decided to give being a sparring partner a shot.”

Bentt’s confidence was restored by their sparring sessions and he made a comeback that gathered momentum after he joined Stan Hoffman’s stable.

After back-to-back wins, Hoffman secured a crack at WBO champion Tommy Morrison. ‘The Duke’ had signed to challenge WBC champion Lennox Lewis for a $7.25m purse and decided he needed “experience for the bigger fights that lie ahead.”

He boxed Bentt in October 1989. Michael was an 11-fight novice and Riddick Bowe, a friend from their amateur days, said he “hoped he wouldn’t get hurt.”

Bentt was hurt early on but kept his defences tight, then counter-attacked to blast Morrison to his knees three times for a sensational stoppage in 93 seconds.

He made his first defence against Herbie Hide at Millwall Football Club – and the fight started ahead of schedule.

Bentt remembers: “I was wearing a Millwall hat at a press conference and he slapped it off my head. I thought the wind had blown it off, but I noticed Hide and the reporters sniggering, so I retaliated. It was a bad decision.”

Worse was to follow. Bentt was counted out in the seventh round and rushed to the Royal London Hospital “I remember eating pasta in a nice restaurant a few hours before the fight – and the next thing I remember is waking up in hospital,” he said. “I’ve watched the fight on YouTube, but it doesn’t trigger any memories.”

Consultant neurosurgeon John Sutcliffe diagnosed Bentt as suffering from “cumulative concussive damage to the brain”.

He spent 98 hours in a coma and apart from “a wobbly moment” on the plane journey home, says he made a full recovery.

Bentt became a journalist, a television commentator, a trainer, then an actor. “I took an acting class and fell in love with it,” he said. “It was just like boxing. You are naked in front of an audience.”

Bentt played Sonny Liston in the 2001 Will Smith movie Ali, has appeared in productions of Hamlet and Othello, and had regular work in the TV series Sons of Anarchy.

He also directed the play Kid Shamrock, written by Bobby Cassidy about his contender father Bobby Cassidy Snr and starring John Duddy, Mark Breland and Seamus McDonagh.

“It’s a tough play,” he said, “very moving and emotional, but they nailed it.”