Friday, October 11, 2019

Dmitry Bivol Needs Victory to Stay Relevant in 175-Pound Landscape

By Luis A. Cortes III

When WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (16-0) (11 KO’s) takes the ring tonight in Chicago to defend his title for the fifth time against Dominican power puncher Lenin Castillo (20-2-1) (15 KO’s).  He does so fully aware that in order to stay relevant in the mind of boxing fans, not only does he need a victory, but an impressive showing would go a long way to further his future goal of being the undisputed king of his division.  Before that goal can be released though, the landscape of the ultra-talent rich light heavyweight division is about to change with two major blockbuster fights scheduled to take place in the next couple of weeks.
  
First is the unification fight on ESPN next Friday night from Philadelphia between WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdk and the IBF champion Artur Beterbiev.  That fight is being viewed as a possible fight of the year candidate without a single punch having been thrown.  It’s truly a fight fan's dream matchup that should deliver pure action.  After that is the November 2nd historical showdown between current middleweight king Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev.  With these two huge fights taking place within weeks of each other, it must be hard pressed for the other champion Bivol to have to wait his turn at taking a crack at the other elite fighters.  Notice that his title defense tonight wasn’t mentioned in terms of mega fights that could alter the landscape of the division.

It wasn’t long ago, back in 2017, when Bivol first captured the title on HBO.  He was clearly being nurtured by the network and his handlers to be a future box office attraction.  At the time, Bivol’s promoters (World of Boxing) had a partnership with U.S. based promoter Main Events that afforded him the ability to have his fights broadcasted on HBO.  Main Events handled all things Bivol in the United States, which included him being featured in the main event fight in November of last year in Atlantic City.  With HBO getting out of the business of distributing fights just a month later, Bivol and his handlers at World of Boxing decided to move on and join Matchroom Boxing USA.  Since that time, Bivol has been featured once on DAZN, a title defense against blue collar contender Joe Smith Jr. 

It’s a far cry from the type of profile that Bivol was expecting to have at this point.  And it also didn’t help when a potential unification and mega fight with fellow Russian Sergey Kovalev never came to fruition after Kovalev was surprisingly stopped by Elider Alvarez in August of last year.  It’s the type of situation that would make any champion in his physical prime frustrated not to get the type of major fights that could cement his own legacy in the sport.  This is not lost on Bivol, who so far has remained level headed about the entire situation.

“I want to make my mark in boxing history and to do this you have to fight the best,” stated Bivol.  “Of course, I want to fight against the other champions but sometimes you cannot do it because they are busy, but we have good fights and I am happy with that.  The fight next weekend is a great one and I would love to face the winner, we will know more about my future after that fight.”  

Patience is a virtue right now for Bivol.  However, it’s clear through his words that the sand in that hour glass may be running out.  It also is clear that he wants his handlers to put him in line to face the other elite fighters since he is planning on being in attendance both next week and in Vegas on November 2nd.  During all the pre-fight interviews and conversations leading up to his title defense tonight.  Not much time was spent discussing his opponent.  Sometimes this is looked at as a bad thing, that a fighter is suffering from a lack of focus with the task at hand.  So far in his career, Bivol has been a consummate professional and nothing suggests that he isn’t aware that for him to have these opportunities it starts with being impressive in victory tonight.  After all, if he does come out victorious as expected tonight, and doesn’t automatically get a unification fight with the winner of next weekends mega unification fight, he has a plethora of worthy challengers to fight.  The light heavyweight division is one of the deepest in the sport, if not the deepest.  With elite fighters not only as champions, but also on the contender level.  

A victory tonight for Bivol will put him in line to fight all the contenders and unified champions to try and indeed make his mark in the sport.  His style of boxer-puncher also meshes well with any of these other fighters on the elite level, which means pure excitement for fans.  Although a victory in his fight tonight won’t contribute to the rapidly changing landscape of the division.  Bivol indeed needs to be victorious, since the only way the landscape changes tonight is if he truly has looked past his opponent and winds up losing in a major upset.





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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Big Drama Show as GGG Wins IBF Belt

By Luis A. Cortes III, Ringside

Yes, the old saying that a win in sports is indeed a win rang out more than ever for the newly crowned IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (40-1-1) (35 KO’s).  Ultimately that is the bottom line and most relevant detail that any prizefighter tends to worry about when a fight has concluded.  However, there is another saying that tends to accompany the previous sports cliché, and that is sometimes it’s not just if you win, but how you look doing it.  And it’s this second saying idiom that caught the attention of most ring side observers on Saturday night.  After twelve brutal rounds of back and forth action, it was indeed Golovkin’s hand raised in victory.  What was surprising is that for the first time in his career it was the effort of the other challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2) (10 KO’s) that grasped the hearts and minds of the crowd.

This notion was cemented when Golovkin started to address the crowd for his initial post fight interview moments after his name was announced as the victor.  Boo’s rained down from the capacity crowd inside of the “Mecca” of boxing Madison Square Garden.  Golovkin was clearly caught off guard by the reaction but handled it in stride by finishing his interview before both he and Derevyanchenko were escorted to a local hospital for precautionary measures.  The reaction steamed from the fact that most of the crowd believed that it was Derevyanchenko who had done enough in the close contested battle to earn the victory. 


Entering the fight, most of the narrative surrounding the fight dealt with the fact that Golovkin was frustrated with his inability to secure a third fight with reigning middleweight king Saul Alvarez.  Derevyanchenko was best known for his close decision loss to Danny Jacobs last year inside of the smaller adjacent theater at the Garden.  In the fight, Derevyanchenko pushed Jacobs to his limit and had moments in what turned out to be the first close decision loss in his first attempt to claim the IBF title. 


After Derevyanchenko was dropped by Golovkin in the first round, it looked as if this version of the drama show was set to make it a statement victory.  Derevyanchenko answered the ten count, and as he warmed up physically, started to find a rhythm that included landing powerful right hands that continuously rocked Golovkin’s head back.  As the round started to pass, despite a deep cut over the right eye of Derevyanchenko caused by a huge left hook from Golovkin, it was clear to both fighters that they were involved in serious combat.  With the fight reaching its conclusion, there was no shortage of drama as everyone inside of the arena rose to their feet in the final rounds, clearly aware that a single punch could alter the result. 


With all three judges scoring the fight in favor of Golovkin (scores were 115-112 twice and 114-113), it was Derevyanchenko that became the sentimental victor for his valiant effort.  Two factors could be the cause for the reaction of the crowd.  One is that he indeed looked even better on this night than he did just a year ago in the fight with Jacobs.  He clearly pushed Golovkin to the brink and even had him hurt in the middle rounds when he landed a vicious left hook to the body that caused Golovkin to move away and avoid further exchanges to escape the round. 


The other factor could simply be that while Derevyanchenko did put forth a great performance, Golovkin looked like a shell of the dominate middleweight that fans and observers had become accustomed to watching.  At the age of 37 and with a style of fighting that his former trainer famously dubbed “Mexican Style,”  Golovkin looked a bit sluggish at times during the contest.  During many of the rounds, it was Derevyanchenko that initiated the exchanges to start out the rounds.  Golovkin, at times, seemed to be content with waiting for his turn to take control of the round by making an offensive push.  Ironically, it would be the experience of Golovkin that would play a major role in the victory.


He understood when he was letting rounds slip away from his control.  It was at these moments that he would turn on the offense and willingly exchange with Derevyanchenko, landing the harder punches to either put the round into question or to win them.  What was noticeable was the fact that, unlike in the past with a prime Golovkin, this didn’t happen in every round.  There were rounds when the applied pressure and constant punching, but the pure work-rate of Derevyanchenko was too much for Golovkin to overcome and he simply lost them.  This is a credit to Derevyanchenko’s determination to be victorious just as much as the sands of time dripping towards the bottom of Golovkin’s career hour glass.


For the record, The Weigh-In had the fight scored 6 rounds to 6, but due to the knockdown in the first round the score wound up 114-113 in favor of Golovkin.  It was indeed a close fight with the result in question as everyone inside of the arena awaited the scores to be announced.  Once they were announced, it was understandable that many felt Derevyanchenko did enough to win.  What should be focused on as well was the great performance from both fighters regardless of whom you thought was the victor. 


With Golovkin now the winner of the IBF title, one must ask what’s next for the veteran champion?  Well, with the fighter he still clearly wants a third crack at Canelo, who next month will aim to capture a portion of the light heavyweight crown.  Canelo has made it clear that he has grown tired of the Golovkin narrative and has no interest in facing him for a third time soon. 


It became a bit dis-concerning that DAZN released a social media poll for fan interest regarding the next opponent for Golovkin and it didn’t include a Derevyanchenko rematch.  Alvarez’s response to what he witnessed was yet another reassurance from him that a third fight with Golovkin would result in all but a foregone conclusion in his favor.  He even went as far as saying that he would stop Golovkin this time around.  This leads me to believe that a possible third fight with Golovkin will depend on the result of Alvarez’s November attempt at history.  Meanwhile, if there is any rematch that fans deserve before a third fight between Golovkin and Alverez, its for round 13 to take place between Golovkin and Derevyanchenko.


Notes from Ringside at the Garden:


Not much of note took place during the fights on the undercard.  This fight card was a classic case of the promoter believing that everyone was going to get their money's worth from the main event.  That it was a can’t miss fight that would provide all the entertainment that the paying audience could handle.  This frame of thinking was confirmed since the crowd looked to be sparse in comparison to previous Golovkin fights at the Garden until it was time for the main event, and suddenly the arena was packed with a raucous crowd that was engaged from start to finish.  Why shouldn’t they have been, since it was in fact a can’t miss main event.


One notable highlight on the undercard was the first bout on the main television portion on DAZN.  Ivan Baranchyk (20-1) (13 KO’s) scored a mean fourth round stoppage of veteran Brooklyn native Gabriel Bracero (23-4-1) (6 KO’s).  Baranchyk was impressive in his dismantling of the veteran in such lethal fashion that his promoter Lou DiBella walked around ringside telling anyone that would listen that he would be a world champion soon.  When asked what was next for the challenger, DiBella stated “anyone that has the balls to get in the ring with him.  What a war a fight (WBC champion) (Jose) Ramirez and him would be?”






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Monday, October 7, 2019

WWE Hell In A Cell 2019


One of the most significant and eventful weeks that we’ve witnessed in several years in the world of professional wrestling culminated with WWE Hell In A Cell which emanated from Sacramento, CA this evening. First, the RAW season premiere saw the WWE’s flagship show debut a new commentary team and set with the return of a healthy dose of pyrotechnics. Next, Wednesday was the premier of AEW Dynamite on TNT which produced the highest rated show on the network in five years. Lastly, WWE Friday Night Smackdown! debuted on FOX with an electrifying opening featuring The People‘s Champ. Whether WWE wants to admit it or not, they’ve taken notice of AEW and were clearly pulling out all of the stops that their TV-PG rating would allow and Hell In A Cell could provide the perfect setting to continue to push the envelope. The card this evening featured eight bouts with four titles contested.

RAW Women’s Championship Hell In A Cell Match
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Sasha Banks
Winner: Becky Lynch via submission

No time was wasted introducing the brutality this evening as the main card immediately opened with a sadistic Hell In A Cell Match. In a very evenly contested match, Lynch was able to survive chair shots, being assaulted with a kendo stick, and having Sasha drive her through a table to overcome adversity and retain her title. The bout concluded with Lynch executing a top rope Beck-sploder suplex that landed Banks on a plethora of chairs. The Man then followed up with The Disarmer for the submission victory.

Tornado Tag Team Match
Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan & Luke Harper
Winners: Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns via pinfall

Harper and Rowan laid waste to Reigns and Bryan for the vast majority of this contest. Despite Rowan being driven through a table by Reigns late in the bout, Harper still seemed poised to solidify the victory for his team as he executed back to back Dragon Suplexes on Daniel Bryan. Harper could have easily gone for the pinfall but rather got greedy and attempted a third Dragon Suplex. Bryan was able to land on his feet and as Harper missed a follow-up clothesline, Reigns slipped back into the ring behind him and connected on a Superman Punch. This allowed Daniel Bryan to strike Harper with a running knee and Roman solidified the victory with the spear.

Randy Orton vs. Ali
Winner: Randy Orton via pinfall

This match came to fruition on the pre-show after a brief backstage confrontation and all I need to say is RKO Outta Nowhere - nice try Ali.

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs. The Kabuki Warriors (Kairi Sane & Asuka)
Winners: The Kabuki Warriors via pinfall

After being relatively forgotten for several months, Asuka and Kairi Sane ensured failure would not be an option. In the closing moments of the match, Asuka sprayed a cloud of green mist into the face of Nikki Cross as the referee was distracted. This allowed her to deliver a brutal kick to her head and score the pinfall victory crowning new champions.

Six-Man Tag Team Match
The OC (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson) vs. The Viking Raiders and Braun Strowman
Winners: The Viking Raiders and Braun Strowman via DQ

After weeks of feuding between The OC and the Viking Raiders, the men collectively known as War Machine previously, enlisted the assistance of Braun Strowman for this six man encounter. In the closing moments of this bout, The OC took advantage of the numbers game with the Viking Raiders subdued at ringside and proceeded to beat down The Monster Among Men to the point the referee elected to disqualify them.

King Corbin vs. Chad Gable
Winner: Chad Gable

After losing to Corbin in the finals of the King of the Ring tournament just a few weeks ago, he had been subjected to verbal jabs from the newly crowned king ever since setting up this bout tonight. Gable more than held his own in this contest with one of his most impressive moves being a roll through German suplex of the much taller Corbin. In the end, frustration got the better of Corbin as he retrieved his scepter from ringside and attempted to strike Gable. The referee put a stop to this by grabbing the scepter and as they struggled, Gable rolled up King Corbin for the pinfall victory.

Smackdown Women’s Championship
Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Winner: Charlotte Flair via submission

After Bayley drove Charlotte’s head into an exposed turnbuckle to defeat Charlotte at last month’s Clash of Champions, the two squared off again this evening once again with the title on the line. Unfortunately the crowd response in this bout was lacking until the closing moments when Charlotte Flair cinched in the Figure Eight for the submission victory marking the start of her record tenth title reign.

Universal Championship Hell In A Cell Match
Seth Rollins (c) vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
Winner: No contest

After Rollins successfully retained his title at Clash of Champions, he was assaulted by Wyatt on the stage and choked out with a Mandible Claw. Since then, Rollins has found himself terrorized time and time again by The Fiend setting up the main event this evening. An interesting dynamic to this match, aside from being contested in the Hell In A Cell, was the ambience of the arena as it was draped in red lighting for the duration of the match. After a significant level of brutality throughout the bout, Rollins had Wyatt laid out in the center of the ring and covered him with a ladder and a steel chair after several failed pinfall attempts. Rollins then went back under the ring and procured a sledgehammer. Before Rollins used it, the referee implored him not to proceed. Rollins disregarded the referee’s plea and drove the sledgehammer into the ladder leading the referee to call for the bell - in a no DQ match. As the arena was showered with boos from an enraged WWE Universe, the cell was raised and EMTs were called to the ring to tend to Wyatt. As Wyatt was placed on a board, Rollins went to grab him by the shirt only to be welcomed with a Mandible Claw. Wyatt then continued his assault on Rollins which concluded with a Sister Abigail to the exposed arena floor followed by another Mandible Claw that left Rollins bleeding from the mouth. Despite continued boos and chants of  “restart the match,” The Fiend made his exit from the arena as an unsettling and dissatisfied air consumed the arena.




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Friday, September 27, 2019

Drew Stone Interview

By Matt Ward

Check out my recent interview with producer, director, artist, and musician, Drew Stone! Stone is the executive producer of "Ali: Me Whee." 

You can stream the interview on both SoundCloud and iTunes:



"Ali: Me Whee" was shot in 1975 by Arny Stone and his crew in and around Ali's training camp in Deer Lake, PA and in Las Vegas. This documentary captures an incredible moment in time in Muhammad Ali’s life. At the peak of his career his love for kids and general philosophy of life shine thru with appearances by luminaries from the boxing and entertainment world. Highlights include his legendary 1975 commencement speech at Harvard University.

The 25 minute documentary was beautifully shot on 16 mm film, and features appearances by Muhammad Ali, Phyllis Diller, Jerry Lewis, Angelo Dundee, B.B. King, Drew “Bundini” Brown, Jim Brown, Walter Youngblood, Lloyd Wells, and Gene Kilroy.


On Tuesday, October 1, 2019, the world will have the opportunity to get an intimate look into the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali thanks to father and son filmmakers, Arny and Drew Stone.


After over 40 years Arny's son, Drew Stone, of New York based Stone films NYC, was the force behind bringing this precious artifact of boxing cinematic history back to the people. Drew painstakingly restored and reassembled the film from the original elements and has spent the last year screening it to audiences in New York, Philadelphia, Long Beach, and Atlantic City. The Stone Family want to thank and express gratitude to all the crew and personnel who worked on the film and to all independent film makers everywhere. In that spirit they feel that it’s the right time to make this documentary available to the public for streaming, free of charge, through the Stone Films NYC official YouTube page. (Subscribe today!)



The Stone Family: (Left to Right) Director/Producer Drew Stone, Director Arny Stone, and Director/Director of Photography Evan B. Stone


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Thursday, September 26, 2019

War at Parx - Peltz’s 50th - Ennis Returns

By Luis A. Cortes III

It’s true that when the unofficial end of summer takes place and Labor Day passes that the boxing schedule begins to turn up the heat for the fall.  This year has been no exception.  With so many ways for boxing fans to be plugged into the sport, and with so many different outlets distributing fight cards, it can be easy for fans to lose track or miss out on a specific fight, fighter, or all-around fight card that they were anticipating.  With that in mind, I thought I would take some time to give you a few quick reminders about a great fight that took place last Friday just outside of Philadelphia, along with some other key dates regarding boxing and the city of Brotherly Love.

War at Parx Casino (September 20th)

Joe Hand Promotions may best be known as the king of closed-circuit television on the east coast, especially in the Philadelphia area.  However, they do have a stable of fighters that they manage and have a ton of relationships that run deep into all areas of the sport.  As a result, fight fans in the Philadelphia area are treated to a handful of fight cards each year.  During the past two years, these shows have taken place at the Xcite Center located inside of Parx Casino.  Last Friday seemed to be an exciting local show that featured five fights.  There were some knockouts and a farewell to the always hard-working Jamaal Davis, a super middleweight from Philadelphia that never reached the likes of Madison Square Garden or the elite level, but always gave paying fans his best effort both in victory and defeat.  His loss in a six round fight marked the end of his career.

After four fights, the fourth being another quality victory by the recently signed to Lou Dibella Entertainment Jr. lightweight Joshafat Ortiz (7-0) (4 KO’s), Ortiz needed six rounds to out work and out box Anderw Bentley an awkward southpaw.  It was then time for the main event, featuring another local fighter signed to Lou Dibella, lightweight Stevie Ortiz.  What took place next after the bell sounded for round one was eight non-stop edge of your seat rounds of pure action.  Ortiz started out by taking a lead in the fight by out boxing his determined opponent Alejandro Salinas.  In the second round, Ortiz, thinking he had hurt Salinas, moved in for the kill but was greeted by a thunderous left hook from Salinas that floored Ortiz.  Clearly hurt, Ortiz was still shaking off the buzz from the knockdown in the prior round when he again started to establish control in the third, only to once again show his willingness to exchange power shots.         

When Ortiz landed on his back, being dropped this time by a right hand in the third round, it seemed like the fans were witnessing an upset win for Salinas.  Unlike the first knockdown where Ortiz was able to get up with a clear mind, this time he was clearly one more power shot away from being completely knocked out.  To his credit, Ortiz was aware of this fact and started to hold and move around the ring to avoid the nail in the coffin shot from Salinas.  Being down two rounds to one after three in an eight-round fight is not often hard to overcome, but with both of those rounds featuring knockdowns, Ortiz was down three points.

War back into the fight is what Ortiz needed to do and he did.  With his prospects of victory all but dead in the water, Ortiz changed the tide into him potentially regaining control of the action.  He did this by utilizing his boxing skills and a powerful overhand right that continued to connect from a distance to the side of Salinas’ head.  Over the next five rounds, fans got all types of continued drama in each round as both warriors struggled to assert themselves as the dominant fighter of each three-minute stanza.  They both got hurt or were stunned on numerous occasions.  There was no let-up in either fighter and both fighters swung for the fences as the ringside clapper went off to signify ten seconds remaining in the fight.  Fans rose to their feet and applauded both men for their effort, resourcefulness, determination, and mostly for the exciting entertainment they granted everyone lucky enough to witness their fight.  Ortiz would walk out of the ring the victor winning a majority decision with two judges scoring the fight 76-74 and the third having it even 75-75.  With the victory, Ortiz improves to 11-0 (3 KO’s), while the game Salinas dropped to 10-3 (9 KO’s).  This fight could easily be granted the honor of Philadelphia fight of the year for the almost completed 2019.


Peltz Promotions turns 50 

Next Friday night, October 4th, from the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia, the boxing community will be celebrating the golden anniversary of J. Russell Peltz’s involvement with the sport.  Peltz has been the king of boxing in Philadelphia and has a long and beautiful history with the sport, that at times in his life’s journey has played various roles.  It’s been his savior, a place of refuge, and his passion.  Along with whatever else he has needed it to be to survive.  Emily Pandelakis wrote a wonderful feature story that detailed all the ways that Peltz has impacted boxing history, as well as the ways boxing has impacted the history of Russell Peltz as a man.  Click here to read the piece, it was truly wonderfully done.

As for the actual night of action on October 4th, Michelle Rosado of Raging Babe has put together her second show at 2300 Arena to honor her mentor that will feature an eight-fight card.  Local fighters like Marcel “Celly” Rivers, Osnel Charles will be featured on the card, along with an appealing rematch between Isaiah Wise against Roque Zapata. Zapata gave Wise one of his losses.  The main event features a young prospect that has all the tools and natural ability to go far in the sport, as Victor Padilla fights for the second time this year after almost a two-year absence from the ring.  At the age of just twenty, time is still on his side.

Stay tuned for a feature article next week that will look at just how after 50 years in the sport, Russell Peltz feels about the business and the way things have changed since he first started promoting fights in 1969.  Tickets for the show are still available but are going fast.  Contact (215) 765-0922 to purchase your seats for this historic night.


Jaron Ennis returns 10/5 

One of the most talked about young contenders in the sport, Jaron “Boots” Ennis (23-0) (21 KO’s) returns to the ring on October 5th.  He will be featured as the co-feature of a Showtime Championship Boxing card.  In the main event, Claressa Shields will try to capture the WBO junior middleweight championship against Ivana Habazin.  This fight is a homecoming for Shields as it takes place in Flint, Michigan.  For Ennis, this is just his second fight in 2019, after being one of the most active prospects in the sport since turning professional in 2016.  His long lay-off was due to some issues from a managerial standpoint, but with all things cleared up, he continues to march forward to prove that he is indeed the future of the division and the sport.

Next week we will look at just what some of those issues were that kept him sidelined for the majority of 2019, why he feels that it hasn’t stopped his progression, and his answer to many critics who look at his record and feel that he has faced soft opposition to pad his record.  Stay tuned to The Weigh-In for continued coverage, along with a look at the unification welterweight fight between Erol Spence and Shawn Porter this Saturday night on Fox pay-per-view



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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Jaron "Boots" Ennis Interview

By Luis A. Cortes III

Check out my recent interview with Philadelphia's own Boots Ennis (23-0, 21 KOs)! 

You can stream the interview on both SoundCloud and iTunes:

Jaron "Boots" Ennis Interview with Luis Cortes on SoundCloud

Jaron "Boots" Ennis Interview with Luis Cortes on iTunes

Ennis returns to the ring on October 5, 2019 against Demian Daniel Fernandez (12-1) at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint, Michigan. This ten round welterweight contest will be featured on the same Showtime Boxing card as ten round title fight between Claressa Shields (9-0, 2 KOs) and Ivana Habazin (20-3, 7 KOs). 






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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Arny Stone Interview

By Matt Ward

Check out my recent interview with Academy Award winning director Arny Stone! Stone is the executive director of "Ali: Me Whee." 

You can stream the interview on both SoundCloud and iTunes:

Arny Stone Interview with Matt Ward on SoundCloud

Arny Stone Interview with Matt Ward on iTunes

"Ali: Me Whee" was shot in 1975 by Arny Stone and his crew in and around Ali's training camp in Deer Lake, PA and in Las Vegas. This documentary captures an incredible moment in time in Muhammad Ali’s life. At the peak of his career his love for kids and general philosophy of life shine thru with appearances by luminaries from the boxing and entertainment world. Highlights include his legendary 1975 commencement speech at Harvard University.

The 25 minute documentary was beautifully shot on 16 mm film, and features appearances by Muhammad Ali, Phyllis Diller, Jerry Lewis, Angelo Dundee, B.B. King, Drew “Bundini” Brown, Jim Brown, Walter Youngblood, Lloyd Wells, and Gene Kilroy.

On Tuesday, October 1, 2019, the world will have the opportunity to get an intimate look into the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali thanks to father and son filmmakers, Arny and Drew Stone.

After over 40 years Arny's son, Drew Stone, of New York based Stone films NYC, was the force behind bringing this precious artifact of boxing cinematic history back to the people. Drew painstakingly restored and reassembled the film from the original elements and has spent the last year screening it to audiences in New York, Philadelphia, Long Beach, and Atlantic City. The Stone Family want to thank and express gratitude to all the crew and personnel who worked on the film and to all independent film makers everywhere. In that spirit they feel that it’s the right time to make this documentary available to the public for streaming, free of charge, through the Stone Films NYC official YouTube page. (Subscribe today!)



The Stone Family: (Left to Right) Director/Producer Drew Stone, Director Arny Stone, and Director/Director of Photography Evan B. Stone



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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Ali: Me Whee Available to Stream October 1st

By Matt Ward

On Tuesday, October 1, 2019, the world will have the opportunity to get an intimate look into the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali thanks to father and son filmmakers, Arny and
 Drew Stone.

"Ali: Me Whee" was shot in 1975 by Arny Stone and his crew in and around Ali's training camp in Deer Lake, PA and in Las Vegas. This documentary captures an incredible moment in time in Muhammad Ali’s life. At the peak of his career his love for kids and general philosophy of life shine thru with appearances by luminaries from the boxing and entertainment world. Highlights include his legendary 1975 commencement speech at Harvard University.


The 25 minute documentary was beautifully shot on 16 mm film, and features appearances by Muhammad Ali, Phyllis Diller, Jerry Lewis, Angelo Dundee, B.B. King, Drew “Bundini” Brown, Jim Brown, Walter Youngblood, Lloyd Wells, and Gene Kilroy.

After over 40 years Arny's son, Drew Stone, of New York based Stone films NYC, was the force behind bringing this precious artifact of boxing cinematic history back to the people. Drew painstakingly restored and reassembled the film from the original elements and has spent the last year screening it to audiences in New York, Philadelphia, Long Beach, and Atlantic City. The Stone Family want to thank and express gratitude to all the crew and personnel who worked on the film and to all independent film makers everywhere. In that spirit they feel that it’s the right time to make this documentary available to the public for streaming, free of charge, through the Stone Films NYC official YouTube page. (Subscribe today!) 

The Weigh-In Team is proud to be a part of this iconic film release. In honor of the October 1st release of "Ali: Me Whee," The Weigh-In will post two interviews with the two men who had major impacts on the creation and release of this film, Arny and Drew Stone. On September 21st, our interview with Arny will be made available on SoundCloud and Apple iTunes. The following Friday, September 27th, our second interview with Drew will air on TWI's podcast streaming platforms. 

Stay tuned to The Weigh-In and Stone Films NYC to be a part of this historic boxing film event! 



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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Boxing prospects shine in Bethlehem

By Chris Mealey, Ringside

Formerly known as Sands,  boxing returned to the newly established  Wind Creek Bethlehem Casino, where another card of intense action was displayed. Over four months ago,  fight fans and those covering the sport had the pleasure of witnessing local talents, traveling warriors and even boxers making their debut at the same ring fought in this September 14th  card. The Weigh-In will breakdown each outcome, from first fight to the last, in what was another extraordinary night for the sport and it's spectators watching from Kings Boxing Promotions Facebook page. 

[Fight 1] KHAINELL WHEELER VS JUAN ZAPATA (Super Middleweight)

Wheeler is one of the boxers who made his pro debut in this arena four years ago, here at his hometown in Bethlehem. Wasting no time in his third professional bout, the pressure was dictated early and instantly. In the first round, blinding combinations put Zapata in a difficult spot, with nothing to answer with, forcing the referee to stop the bout under the two minute mark of the first round. Wheeler wins big In the first round to start off the night. Result: Wheeler win via TKO

[Fight 2] JOSE LOPEZ VS JERROD MINER (Bantamweight) ***

Jose Lopez defeated Jerrod Miner via unanimous decision in a four round bantamweight contest. 

[Fight 3] BRANDON MULLINS VS BRENT OREN (Middleweight)

Undefeated Mullins from Newark, Delaware opened up the fight with crisp outside fighting, finding much success with the jab early on.  Oren found his place on the back foot for brief moments after the first round, yet the thudding, quick and sudden body shots from Mullins would keep the second round close. On top of the potshots by Mullins, he has done everything with his arsenal  in this bout, winning most the rounds, causing Oren to start off the final round  strong and having his way with the needed power shots. The cool collected Brandon Mullins returned with his own power counterpunches and secured the round and fight,  winning the bout via unanimous decision (judges scored the bout 39-37 across the board).

[Fight 4]  RASHEED JOHNSON VS KASHON HUTCHINSON (Welterweight)

A fight at the 147 lb. weight class may have been the fight of the night, and the only way to describe the intense action from both fighters would be two men in a phone booth. Not the easiest fight for judges to score and after the first round, Johnson was landing accurate counters, potshots, looking really sharp before entering the halfway point of the six round contest. Hutchinson, had a dramatic return in round 4, by placing sensational power shots that left the spectators amazed, considering Johnson stayed on his feet.  The crowd was relatively silent when listening to the score cards and Kashon Hutchinson fought hard to win a unanimous decision with all three judges scoring the bout 58-56.

[Fight 5] MARTINO JULES VS MICHAEL STOUTE (Featherweight)

The ABO champion, undefeated Martino Jules, is another fighter who is no stranger to this venue in Bethlehem.  Always bringing the entourage of fellow Allentown fans, as well as  pleasing his viewers each time his steps into the ring, the first two rounds were slow paced, with slick generalship by Jules as Stoute continually chased and made solid effort to land his offense. The high caliber and diverse arsenal in Jules would be too much in the third round, as a blinding jab-straight combination floored Stoute, who was unable to get up for the count. This KO victory for Martino Jules was another one to remember and arguably the best performance of the night next to this following bout.

[Fight 6] JONATHAN TORRES VS KAYLIN WAITES (bantamweight)

The shortest fight of the night and also the most explosive finish. If there was a victory to match the Martino Jules bout, it would be the devastating first round KO from the hometown favorite, Torres. The fight started with Torres landing the hardest counters ever, which caused a knockdown over Waites (that was ruled a slip). Torres must have known he had his opponent hurt, because shortly after, he landed a ferocious combination to drop Waites again, which needed no count by the official in the ring. Superb first round KO victory for Torres as he elevates to 6-0.

[Fight 7] NICOLAS  HERNANDEZ  VS TERRANCE WILLIAMS (Super Welterweights)

Heart, guts, skills and basically a little bit of everything in this spectacular matchup. The only fight to match and maybe even top the Johnson- Hutchinson bout. Hernandez came out the first round with a high-guard, pursuing pressure and aiming to the gut downstairs with significant power. The energy in and out the ring was constantly changing, as the second round was close, but following on - the crowd witnessed Williams knocked down three different times, JUST to see him get back up and box at a phenomenal pace, not just surviving the rounds, but trying to win them back. The last round was Williams' best, as he closed in with his strongest combinations that appeared to have Nico hurt.  At the final bell, both fighters received huge applause and it was Nicolas Hernandez who earned the unanimous decision victory (76-74, 77-73 *twice).

[Fight 8] ERIK SPRING VS COURTNEY PENNINGTON (Super Welterweight)

Spring participated in what was considered 'fight of the night' back in May and found himself in a stern match where finding rhythm was not easy.  Pennington started off busy and full of pressure after the opening bell, continuously landing over hands to the body and up top. Spring showed incredible grit here, never going down all the way to end.  Result: Courtney wins via unanimous decision.

[Main Event] MYKAL FOX VS EUDY BERNARDO (Jr Welterweight)

It's no surprise that the main event of the evening would have it's work cut out in terms of matching all the bouts before hand. Particularly not a concerning issue for Mykal Fox, who would display pure dominance from round one all the way to round ten. The key to beating Bernardo was working off the jab, constantly working on the outside.  Result: Fox wins via unanimous decision (100-90 on all cards).

That wraps up yet another successful and beyond entertaining night of boxing.  Kings Promotions continues to dish out quality matches that The Weigh-In Team always looks forward to cover.




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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

PELTZ BOXING: A LIFE-LONG LOVE STORY

J Russell Peltz Celebrates Half Century in Boxing


PHILADELPHIA -- For 50 years, J Russell Peltz has lived and breathed boxing.  On October 4, he will celebrate his Golden Anniversary as a Philadelphia promoter with an eight-bout card titled “Blood, Sweat & 50 Years,” at the 2300 Arena.  Since Sept. 30, 1969, he’s been an institution in the city, providing a platform for hundreds, if not thousands of Philadelphia fighters to showcase their talent. He’s promoted over a thousand boxing events and over 40 world title bouts. For half a century, Peltz has ridden the roller coaster of small- and big-time boxing, with stops all over the world. 

Peltz’ love for boxing has outlived mentors, parents, a sister, a son and a marriage. It’s been the constant throughout the entirety of his adult life, and a refuge from guilt, sadness and loss.  It was the cane he used when he couldn’t stand, and the mountain from which he screamed his successes.  It has been an enduring passion and a safe, faceless pool where he could pour out an immense amount of love, out loud, and without guilt or fear of judgement. 

He has a savant-like ability to recall dates of fights, who was on every card, and what happened in every round.  He remembers detailed 40-year-old stories, fights, conversations and events like they happened yesterday.  

For his 14th birthday, his dad took him to his first fight and it was love at first bell. He knew he was going to be a part of the beautiful brutality of boxing. His mom refused to allow him to go to more fights; she didn’t want him to be part of “that element.”  He would lie and say he was out with friends or at parties, then go to the fights.  Eventually she relented, and his father took him to more fights.  He would abandon a burgeoning sports journalism career and promote his first event on Sept. 30, 1969. 

J Russell Peltz grew up in an upper middle-class family, moving from Philadelphia to the wealthy community of Bala Cynwyd on Philadelphia's Main Line when he entered third grade.  His father, Bernard Peltz, a plumber like his own dad, had expanded Peltz Plumbing to include heating and air-conditioning. By all measurements, his business was successful, catering to both residential repairs and large company and government installations. His father was beloved by his employees.

Peltz had a taste of the plumbing life over two summers in 1963 and '64 and was decidedly bad at it.  It was a disastrous endeavor for teenage Peltz, who was not mechanically inclined.  One error resulted in the destruction of several oil paintings belonging to a wealthy client, and a large bill for his father to foot. 

His father wasn’t much of a sports fan outside of boxing.  His father, Peltz’ grandfather, was an avid fan and worked for Western Union.  On fight nights, including during the Jack Dempsey vs. Gene Tunney fight in 1926 in Philadelphia, he would be ringside, gathering updates and copy and communicating them to the wire services.  

As Peltz tells it, his father, like many parents of kids who came of age in the 50s and 60s, was not expressive with his emotions.  “He was just not the kind of person,” Peltz began, then paused.  “Any more than I am, that could show it. My mom was the emotional, loving one.”

What shines through when conversing with Peltz, is how much his parents loved each other.  In a time where men were not supposed to cry, Peltz’s father, who he described as a “man’s man,” took care of his wife while she was sick for years with emphysema. “They were passionately in love,” said Peltz.  “Things became rocky later, especially when my mother became sick, but he always loved her.

“She was so weak he would have to cut her meat and pre-chew it, so she would be strong enough to chew the rest of it,” remembers Peltz. “He would do those things and you could see that he loved her.” 

After his mother passed away in 1975, Peltz found a box among her belongings: “When my mom died, I found a box of newspaper clippings of stories about me, some of which I’d never seen before. I knew she loved me.”

His father gave him an office to work from, and twice lent him money when Peltz needed a boost to get through a show or a bad year. If Peltz hadn’t been weighed down with remorse, he might have seen these gestures and support of his son’s boxing promoter career, of which he outwardly didn’t approve, as his father’s way of saying I love you. 

A rift developed in the family when Peltz married his first wife, a non-Jewish girl, in 1969, against the wishes of his parents.  This disagreement would color the remainder of their years together. 

At 72 years old, Peltz looks back over those years and sees a selfish, immature version of himself, who didn’t treat his parents all that well. “I never had a mature relationship with my parents,” Peltz would say more than once. “I have terrible regrets about that.” His uncle had told him that his decision to marry his first wife was killing his mother, and Peltz believed him.   The guilt is palpable as he describes his mother’s final days.  

The bitterness he had felt at his parents’ reaction to his marriage and their nagging “get a real job” attitude toward his chosen profession put space in between them. After both had passed, pride and resentment quickly gave way to guilt and regret.  

In the end, it was his sister's home and then his parents’ home he’d go to when his first marriage fell apart.  Every day he’d stop in and say hello to his father, who had built him an office over his plumbing company.  His family’s foundation, which had been built on silent love and commitment, proved unyielding throughout the years.

It wasn’t long after his mother’s death that he met the woman who would become his current wife--a former classmate at Lower Merion High School.  Peltz knew from their first date that he would marry Linda Sablosky. All the nagging feelings of doubt he had going into his first marriage were nowhere to be found.  For someone who sees himself as unemotional and unexpressive, the enormity of his love and devotion to Linda from that first date until this day is evident.  In four hours of interviews, it was when he spoke about Linda that he sounded the most fulfilled and uplifted. 

“Family is everything to Linda,” said Peltz.  "She brought together estranged cousins and other family members and she became very close to my father, calling him every day.

“If my mom had met Linda,” he continued, weeping softly, “she would have had a reason to live.”  

Linda fit effortlessly into his boxing world.  She would often attend events, traveling with Peltz.  “Linda is the kind of person who can exist in any world, in any atmosphere, and everybody loves her." Peltz said.  "It helped me in boxing.  People say, ‘How bad can he be? She married him!’

“Linda is never idle.  She can fill up 24 hours a day.  She’s the Queen of the Dollar Store.  She can’t stand sitting around doing nothing.  If Linda has 400 things to do and I only want to do 200 of them, she says I’m boring.”

The two would have two sons, Matthew and Daniel.   Matthew, the oldest, was interested in music and girls.  He was a ‘Deadhead,’ the moniker bestowed upon Grateful Dead fans, and traveled with them for a summer.  He eventually moved to Israel and became a Rabbi.  He  married and had four children.  

Daniel was the athlete, participating in various sports, including a short amateur boxing career that Peltz hid from Daniel’s mother for a short period of time. 

Peltz did his best to never miss a game.  “He was always there for me,” said Daniel.  “He traveled a lot, but he always made time for my sporting events. He didn’t miss a milestone.” 

Peltz and his wife lost Matthew to a drug overdose in 2017. He was only 38.  The pain in Peltz’ voice when he talks about the years they tried to save their son is heart-wrenching. Countless trips to rehab, broken promises and relapses litter the last years of their time together. He loved Matthew as hard and as completely as any parent could have, but the thief that is drug addiction took Matthew away from his parents, his brother and his children. 

At his son’s funeral Peltz told the story of a bidding scandal that rocked the plumbing industry in Philadelphia when he was a kid. The story had hit the newspapers, and when he was able to get his hands on the article, he read every word, looking for his dad’s name among those involved, hoping and praying it wasn’t there.  His voice cracks again as he retells it.  “When I got to the bottom of the story, it listed all those companies involved in the fix… and his name wasn’t in there. I felt so proud.of him.

“So it’s just that I knew that Bernie Peltz provided a hard day's work for a fair day's wage. Thirty years later, I came home from work one day and Linda hands me the phone.  Your son wants to talk to you.  I said ‘What’s up Matt.’  He said ‘Dad, how come when the sports writers write about boxing promoters, they always write bad things like they cheat the fighters, they steal their money, they pay off the judges and the referees, they fix the rankings… but whenever they write about you,” he paused and sniffed heavily as tears fell, "they always write nice things.  He finished by saying 'that’s so cool.' I didn’t realize it at the time but as the years went by I realized that my son felt the same way about me that I felt about my dad.” 

Peltz carries the weight of his Linda’s pain in addition to his own at the loss of their son.  “All Linda ever wanted was to be a mother. To be there when the kids came home from school,” Peltz recalled.  “That’s what made losing Matthew so devastating for her.  She questioned her ability as a mother.

“If Matthew had had any other mother,” Peltz said, his voice cracking with emotion, “he wouldn’t have made it to even 20.”  

Peltz finds comfort in his grandchildren.  “Pop Pop is very affectionate with the kids,” said Daniel, who has two daughters. “He has six grandchildren -- he loves them and they adore him.” 

Over the years, Peltz has brought many boxers into his inner circle, many of them becoming family.  Osnel Charles, who fights on October 4, asked Peltz to be the co-best man in his wedding. He spoke at many hall-of-fame inductions, weddings and funerals over the past half century. 

He talks about one of his more recent charges, Jason Sosa, with affection.  One of the highest points in his long career was witnessing underdog Sosa stop Javier Fortuna to win a world title in 2016 in Beijing, China.  

“When that fight was over we walked back to the hotel,” he remembered.  “Linda went up to the room because she was tired.  I went into a bar in the hotel. One of these really modern neon lit bars. I sat at that empty bar and I felt so on top of the world.  People back in the states are just getting the news and here I am in Beijing having a beer by myself and I felt so good.  You know why?  Mostly because at the time of my career that it happened.  To win a world title like that, in a foreign land, coming from behind off the canvas, with no shot to win except by knockout...with Linda screaming and crying and she jumped up because she loves Jason. It was just like so great. Such a wonderful feeling. One of the highlights of my career. It’s not number one but it’s like 1A.”

Number one, he added, was when his first charge, Bennie Briscoe, knocked out Tony Mundine in Paris in 1974: “That will always be number one. It was an eliminator. We were underdogs. It was my first trip to Europe and it was the biggest fight you could have without it being for the title. It was just such a wonderful night.” 

His protege, Raging Babe Michelle Rosado, who is promoting “Love, Sweat & 50 Years,” is one of many who see Peltz as a father figure.  His seven-year mentorship of Rosado will culminate in his passing the torch to his hardworking mentee.   “Leaders build leaders.  Because he doesn’t have an ego, and wasn’t inclined to protect his secrets at all costs like so many of his peers, he was able to mentor BAM [Brittany Rogers] and I and teach us the ropes.  I’m honored that he trusts me to continue his legacy.”  Peltz is known to brag about Rosado to his colleagues in the business.  When he talks about her, his tone alternates between that of a proud father and professional respect and admiration.  They may fight and scream but will always eventually reconcile like family so often does.

Peltz is ready to slow down after his 50th anniversary celebration.  The changes to the sport have worn thin his desire to keep going. “It’s not the sport I fell in love with,” he says.  “It’s not like it used to be.  Guys just wanted to fight.  If guys were within 10 pounds we had a fight.”  

On October 4, he will wind down his matchmaking career with the kind of card that he’s become known for in Philadelphia over the last 50 years.  Tough, Philly versus Philly toss-up matches.  The kind of card that drew him to boxing and kept him there for half a century. 

These relationships, the ones that Peltz has with Linda, Daniel and his grandchildren, with Michelle, with Osnel Charles, Bennie Briscoe, Jason Sosa and countless other boxers--these relationships don’t happen by accident.  They’re built on respect and on love. Love that isn’t screamed out loud, but is felt by actions.  Love that is disguised as feeling proud, or as the weight of guilt and regret.  A love that’s equal to or perhaps even more than that of his love for boxing.  Boxing will always be the place where Peltz can love out loud, but his legacy will forever be the quiet way he loved those he touched over the past 50 years.



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