Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Snips and Snipes with Eric Armit

By Eric Armit

It takes a lot to upset me but I am really disappointed. I have realized that everyone else has been mentioned as the next opponent for Saul Alvarez except me. I threw my hat into the ring but it seems it was just too much trouble to dig through the 999 other hats to find mine. What have I done wrong? How hard can it be to pick out an opponent who is no threat and cheap? I qualify on both of those criteria so came on “Canelo” make your choice before it become a bore and we lose interest in who you are going to face next.

Boy it has been a depressing couple of weeks. We have Mike Tyson talking about fighting; we have Oscar De La Hoya “training” for a fight. We have Floyd Mayweather Jr apparently ready to fight again and Michael Nunn at 47 appearing in a MMA exhibition and in the ultimate exhibition of hypocrisy we hear the poor WBA whinging that it is so very difficult to cut down the number of titles. That’s like some guy driving whilst using his mobile phone complain about the number accidents caused by people driving and using their mobile phone. If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. Here’s a hint WBA try to stop inventing more. That would be step in the right direction. Lock down madness rules, OK!

Jarrell Miller will hear his fate on 5 August when he is called in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission to explain his latest positive test. After his positive tests before the Anthony Joshua fight I was surprised Top Rank gave him another chance to save his career but Bob Arum has made it clear that Miller betrayed the trust they placed in him so even if his career is not over finding someone else to trust him is not going to be easy and if his career is over he only has himself to blame.

To be honest boxing does not need Miller. If there is one thing there is no shortage of it is heavyweights. Putting aside such as Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Dylan Whyte etc. there is a huge list of unbeaten heavyweights active right now. We have Joe Joyce, Daniel Dubois, Filip Hrgovic, Efe Ajagba, Tony Yoka, Agit Kabayel, Jermaine Franklin, Junior Fa, Frank Savage, Guido Vianello, Petar Milas, Cassius Chaney, Jared Anderson, Darmani Rock and Viktor Vykhryst all unbeaten so the future of heavyweight boxing is in safe hands.

Both Joyce and Dubois have matches coming up as they look towards one of the biggest heavyweight fights in the history of British boxing. In two Britain vs. Germany bouts Joyce faces Michael Wallisch on Saturday and Dubois takes on Erik Pfeifer on August 29. If they both come through those bouts then Joyce and Dubois are paired in a fight for the vacant European title with the winner mandated to fight Marco Huck. I can’t see the winner being interested in a Huck fight. Whilst there is plenty bubbling up at heavyweight with the talk of two or three fight series featuring any two of three from Fury, Joshua and Wilder and with Dillian overdue a chance those guys have a stranglehold on the four titles and boxers such as Joyce, Dubois and Oleg Usyk could find themselves still waiting for a title shot this time next year.

Boxing is slowly shaking off the effects of the COVID-19 virus. Top Rank has led the way. Golden Boy re-launches on Friday with Vergil Ortiz vs. Samuel Vargas in Indio. German promoters are continuing action there with a clash between Jack Culcay and unbeaten Abass Baraou set for 28 August in Berlin and Tyron Zeuge tackling Giovanni De Carolis on 27 November. Culcay vs. Baraou is a real 50/50 match. Another big fight will see Jeff Horn and Tim Tszyu exchanges punches in Brisbane on 26 August. There are signs all over that the sport is stirring. Queensberry staged the first show in Britain, Miguel Cotto has asked for clearance to stage a show in Puerto Rico on 22 August. Gyms are scheduled to reopen in South Africa on 1 September. European title fights featuring French fighters will see Samir Ziani making a voluntary defense of the super featherweight title against Alex Dilmaghani on 22 August in Redditch with the winner to face mandatory challenger Martin Joseph Ward and Maxime Beaussire challenging champion Matteo Signani in Caen on 10 October. There will be a show in Aarhus, Denmark on 19 September. It will be mainly amateur matches with on professional fight. There was a small show with spectators in attendance in Okinawa on Sunday and Oleg Usyk is reported to be staging his first promotion on 1 August.

Filipino Eumir Felix Marcial has been signed to a professional contract by Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions. He won a gold medal at the World Youth Championships and a silver medal at the World Championships and had qualified for the 2020 Olympics. He has reportedly received a $200,000 signing bonus and the intent is to still have him compete at the rescheduled Games as well as fight as a professional.

The last few weeks have seen some tragedies hit boxing. Three promising members of the Kazakh amateur team who had recently advanced from the Youth squad to the Senior level died in a car accident, and unbeaten American super welterweight Travell Mazion was killed in another car accident this one outside Austin, Texas. The 24-year-old Mazion was 17-0 and had won the NABF title in January. Javier Gonzalez was another unbeaten young fighter to pass away recently. The 21-year-old from Gomez Palacio was 15-0 and was ready to move up to eight rounds when cancer ended his young life.

Let’s hope the outcome is better for retired Nigerian heavyweight champion Ngozika Ekwelum who is fighting cancer of the bladder and is about to start another series of chemotherapy. He faced British heavyweights Billy Aird and John L Gardner in the UK in the 1970’s.

From a personal point of view I was so very sorry to learn of the death of Dickie Cole. Dickie was a great referee and was the head of the Texas Commission, but for me he was a much loved friend who was head of the WBC Ratings Committee when I was a member. Dickie would often attend the Ring Officials and leave me in charge of the Ratings. Later Dickie would catch up with me and say “Jose wants to see me-what have you done to the ratings I can’t leave you alone for a minute." He was such a lovely man and any time I met with him was a good day for me. My thoughts go out to his family. RIP Dickie, the world is a poorer place without you.

South Africa’s former WBA featherweight champion Simpiwe Vetyeka, who saw his career ended in 2018 when he was hit by a passing vehicle, has made a successful return as a trainer of amateur boxers and has already produced some local champions.

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Sunday, July 19, 2020

WWE Extreme Rules 2020

By Steve Ward

The latest pay-per-view installment of the Quarantine Era aired live from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida as we were presented with Extreme RulescorrectionThe Horror Show at Extreme Rules. Yes, you read that correctlythe WWE decided to rename the event by prefacing the normal Extreme Rules moniker with The Horror Show. While I understand this is likely tied to the main event where Bray Wyatt challenged Braun Strowman for the Universal Championship, this name certainly could open WWE up to some ridicule. For instance, if this show doesnt deliver, well, it will be considered a horror show - just not for the reason WWE intended. After last nights Impact Wrestling Slammiversary show saw the debuts/returns of Gallows & Anderson, Eric Young, EC3, Heath Slater, Alex Shelley, and Chris Sabin, WWE had a lot to live up to in the eyes of the less than casual fan. Tonights show featured six matches and was headlined with the aforementioned Wyatt Swamp Fight between Bray Wyatt and Universal Champion Braun Strowman.


Smackdown Tag Team Championship Tables Match

Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) (c)
Winners: Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura

An ongoing feud between these teams culminated this evening in a Tables Match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. Following a rather pedestrian match, the ending came in spectacular fashion. Two tables were stacked on top of each other outside the ring as Cesaro found himself jockeying for position with Kofi on the top turnbuckle. As it appeared that Kofi was going to escape disaster, Nakamura met them on the ring apron and delivered a brutal kick to Kingstons back. This allowed Cesaro to power bomb Kofi through both tables solidifying their victory.

Smackdown Womens Championship
Nikki Cross vs. Bayley (c)
Winner: Bayley via pinfall

Riding the heels of a 282 day stretch as the Smackdown Womens champion (and currently half of the Smackdown Womens Tag Team Champions with Sasha Banks), Bayley put the title on the line against the underrated Nikki Cross this evening. Bayley was in dire straits late in the bout after she received a neck breaker to the arena floor. After the women returned to the ring, Banks handed her Boss ring off to Bayley who viciously punched Cross in the stomach and followed it up with a face plant to retain her title.

MVP was scheduled to challenge Apollo Crews for the United States Championship, however, Crews failed a pre-match physical. The announce team cited this was from an injury sustained a month ago at the hands of MVPs cohort Bobby Lashley, however, one has to wonder if perhaps he entered the venue with a fever or other Coronavirus symptoms. Nonetheless, MVP proceeded to walk down to the ring, pick up the newly designed United States Championship, and proclaim himself the new champion by forfeit.

Eye for an Eye Match
Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins
Winner: Seth Rollins

This had to be one of the most ridiculous stipulations Ive ever heard ofat least when Abdullah the Butcher was electrocuted at the conclusion of the infamous Chamber of Horrors Match in WCW back in the early 90s, they made it appear somewhat realistic albeit comedic at the same time. Anyway, Rollins pressed Mysterios face into the corner of a ring stair allegedly inflicting an eye injury a few weeks back. That coupled with the ongoing inclusion of Reys son Dominic being targeted by the Monday Night Messiah, we have arrived at this match. The announce team actually said the winner would be declared by removing one of his opponents eyes - really??? This match was one of the worst Ive ever seen. The two men spent the majority of the bout trying to puncture out the others eyes with various tools, pens, and edges of ring stairs. The conclusion finally came after Rollins pressed Mysterios eye into the edge of a ring stair until after the referee put it, it was hanging out. Following this I personally hope the rumors are true that Reys contract is up because it would be nice to see such a legendary competitor used in a promotion like AEW where his talent would be respected and he would be utilized as something more than a sideshow attraction.

RAW Womens Championship
Asuka (c) w/ Kairi Sane vs. Sasha Banks w/ Bayley
Winner: No contest

In what was looking to be a nice recovery to the preceeding shit show of a match, a very competitive title bout ended in ludicrous fashion. As Banks stood with a title belt in hand poised to strike Asuka when she returned to her feet, Asuka sprung up and spewed the green mist - the only problem was Banks ducked and left the referee to receive the full brunt of it in his face. Bayley then proceeded to remove the referees shirt and put it on herself. After Banks took down Asuka and covered her, Bayley counted the pinfall and Sasha stole the title proclaiming herself champion.

WWE Championship
Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Winner: Drew McIntyre via pinfall

Ziggler found himself in this match after he promptly confronted the champ following his trade to RAW along with Bobby Roode for AJ Styles. Ziggler told McIntyre that he was owed a match based on their extensive history and that he would keep the stipulation for the contest a secret until the night of Extreme Rules. Before the bell rang, Ziggler announced that the match would be contested under extreme rulesfor him only. Ziggler also stated that if McIntyre were disqualified or counted out, he would also relinquish the title. Ziggler put forth a solid effort despite the fact he stacked the deck against McIntyre, however, the defending champ took everything he had and finally closed the contest with a brutal Claymore kick to successfully retain his title.

Universal Championship Wyatt Swamp Fight
Bray Wyatt vs. Braun Strowman (c)
Winner: Bray Wyatt???

After Wyatts attempts to awaken Strowmans dark side from his early days as a member of the Wyatt family to no avail, Bray revived his original cult leader persona in the fashion of Waylon Mercy. This set the stage for another cinematic pay per view main event in the form of a Wyatt Swamp Fight. Sadly, this did not come anywhere close to reaching the bar established by the Undertaker vs. AJ Styles clash at Wrestlemania - in fact it was just plain bad. The conclusion found Wyatt and Strowman fighting on a pier as Braun kicked Bray into the water thinking the fight was over. Next, a hand emerged from the water, grabbed Strowman by the throat, and dragged him into the swampy abyss. After the two struggled for a few moments, the face of The Fiend emerged from the water as the broadcast ended. Apparently, there was no winner - at least not in the traditional sense.


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Friday, July 10, 2020

Tony DeMarco's Living Room


Check out my latest boxing story on "Atlas Obscura": 

Tony DeMarco's Living Room


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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

This Past Week in Action with Eric Armit


Highlights:

-Filipino Mike Plania wins upset decision over WBO No 1 bantam Joshua Greer

-Giovani Santiago goes to 26-0 with debateable decision over Antonio DeMarco

-The Jose Pedraza vs. Mikkel LesPierre fight is called off after LesPierre’s manager tests positive for COV-19 on the day of the fight

-Gabriel Flores moves up for his first ten round fight and is 18-0 after outpointing Josec Ruiz

-WBO super bantam champion Emanuel Navarrete halts Uriel Lopez in non-title action for win No 28 by KO/TKO

-Edwin Palomares spring upset as he stops 25-2 Carlos Ornelas

June 16

Las Vegas, NV, USA: Super Bantam: Mike Plania (24-1 W PTS 10 Joshua Greer (22-2-1). Welter: Giovani Santillan (26-0) W PTS 10 Antonio DeMarco (33-9-1). Super Welter: Bobirzhan Mominov (11-0) W PTS 6 Cameron Krael(17-16)

Plania vs. Green

Filipino Plania gets a big win as he floors WBO No 1 bantam Greer twice on the way to a majority decision victory. Plania made a dream start putting Greer down with a left hook in the opening round. Greer survived the crisis and began to work his way into the fight from the second. Plania continued to be dangerous with his left hooks and he produced another in the sixth to score his second knockdown. Greer was not out of the fight and he began to eat into Plania’s lead as the Filipino tired over the late rounds. The stronger Greer clearly won the last three rounds but it was not enough to offset Plania’s early work and the two knockdowns. Scores a harsh 97-91, and 96-92 for Plania and 95-95. The 23-year-old “Magic” Plania makes it nine wins in a row since suffering his only defeat against former WBO champion Juan Carlos Payano in 2018. He was unrated before this one but that will change now and obviously a fight with WBO champion John Riel Casimero would be a dream match but Casimero has his eyes on a unification fight with Naoya Inoue. Greer had scored good wins over Nikolai Potapov and Antonio Nieves but this is a huge set back when a title fight had looked a certainty for him later this year or early next.

Santillan vs. DeMarco

Santillan maintains his 100% record but looks lucky to do so as he takes a razor-thin majority verdict. Santillan’s youth and strength were expected to prevail against former WBC light champion DeMarco who had been finding life tough. Santillan worked hard trying to force the fight against the older man but DeMarco’s experience showed. He was if anything busier than fellow-southpaw Santillan and more accurate with his work. Most of the rounds were close with neither fighter dominating and the punch stats showed little between them but DeMarco just seemed to have the edge. The judges saw it differently on scores of 96-94 twice for Santillan and 95-95. The 28-year-old “Gallo de Oro” from San Diego was facing his toughest test so far and if he takes away his lessons from this fight he could be challenging for a title by late 2021 or early 2022. At 34 DeMarco still has plenty to offer but his run of just two wins in his last eight fights put him in the “useful scalp for younger fighters to collect” category.

Mominov vs. Krael

The Kazaks march on. Mominov outworks and outpunches a useful Krael for a points victory. Mominov pressed the fight working behind a stiff jab and scoring well in the early rounds with short punches from both hands. Krael has a good chin and plenty of heart and weathered the early punishment to fight back hard over the closing rounds. Mominov was cut over his left eye and lost a point in the last round for a punch to the back of the head but it had no effect on the final result. Scores 58-55 twice and 57-56 for Mominov. The 28-year-old former World Military Champion is making steady progress. Hawaiian Krael is now 1-3 in his last 4 fights but the win in that run was over useful Ravshan Hudaynazarov.

June 18

Las Vegas, NV, USA: Super Light: Light Gabriel Flores (18-0) W PTS 10 Josec Ruiz (21-3-3)

Flores vs. Ruiz

When the manager of Trinidadian Mikkel LesPierre tested positive for COVID-19 on the morning of the fight with Jose Pedraza that bout was cancelled and Flores found himself topping the bill. The unbeaten prospect stepped up in style winning every round over Honduran Ruiz. After dominating the first round with some powerful jabs and good movement Flores put Ruiz down in the second with a left hook followed by a straight right. Ruiz made it to his feet and saw out the round and never again looked seriously hurt. Flores boxed for much of the fight on the back foot rattling Ruiz with counters. Ruiz tried hard to get inside to work on the body but the lateral movement and speed of Flores frustrated those attempts with Floes too slick to be caught. He plugged Ruiz with stiff jabs and hard rights and outpunched and outlanded the slower Latino all the way with only his lack of punching power (just six inside the distance wins) and the sturdy chin of Ruiz (just one loss by KO/TKO)  allowing the fight to go the distance. Scores 100-89 for Flores for all three judges. Still only 20) he signed pro with Top Rank at 16) Flores is an immense talent and is being sensibly matched. He could be a real title threat by 2022. Miami-based “Scorpion” Ruiz is flattered by his record as his opposition has been somewhat less than modest but he gave Flores some useful ring time.

Collard vs. Kaminsky

After winning only one of his first five fights Cassius Clay Collard has found some form and he took a deserved split decision over previously unbeaten Kaminsky. Collard made a strong start working well to head and body and soon had Kaminsky bleeding from the nose. Kaminsky worked the body trying to slow Collared but also suffered a cut over his left eye. He was countering well but lacked the power to keep a storming Collard out and although he made a strong finish it was not enough to overcome Collard’s early dominance. Scores 58-56 twice for Collard and 58-56 for Kaminsky. Collard is now 6-1 in his last 7 fights with four of those wins coming against unbeaten fighters albeit with modest records. Israeli Kaminsky, 19, “The Lion of Zion” was a silver medallist at the US Under-19 championships. He has plenty of time and now needs to take a deep breath and start again.

Mexico City, Mexico: Feather: Feather: Emanuel Navarrete (31-1) W TKO 6 Uriel Lopez (13-14-1). Edwin Palomares (13-3-1) W TKO 5 Carlos Ornelas (25-3)

Navarrete vs. Lopez

Navarrete gets a workout as he halts Lopez in six rounds. Navarrete was not putting a great deal into this early. He was content to use his longer reach to keep banging home jabs on the advancing Lopez. Navarrete was constantly changing guards and although not loading up on his punches he was keeping a high work rate. Lopez kept marching forward and had some success but not much. Lopez landed a cracking right to the chin in the fourth and that caused Navarrete to up his pace. He was spearing Lopez with long jabs and powerful hooks and uppercuts but to his credit Lopez kept marching into the hurt zone. A short left hook stopped Lopez in his tracks in the fifth and a series of shots from both hands dropped Lopez to his knees. He was up at eight and had to survive some fierce attacks to make it to the bell. In the sixth Navarrete handed out a brutal beating to a game Lopez who just kept soaking up the punishment and trying to punch back. The end came when Navarrete forced Lopez to the ropes and then buried a straight right to the body that saw Lopez fall to his knees. He made it to his feet but the referee just waived the fight off. The 28-year-old WBO super bantam champion gets win No 28 by KO/TKO and his twenty-sixth victory in a row. It is difficult to see who can match him at his weight or to see any big money fights in his division so by next year he will probably be trying unify the titles at featherweight. Lopez just a gutsy journeyman. 

Palomares vs. Ornelas

Palomares gets a career best win and springs a major upset as he halts Ornelas in five rounds. Ornelas started well scoring with his right jab and straight lefts. In the second Palomares, sporting pink hair, was getting past the jab and scoring with hooks and uppercuts inside and he dominated the action in the third with relentless attacks. Ornelas tried to turn things around with some lefts in the fourth but was soon on the retreat as Palomares banged home to head and body with both hands forcing Ornelas to hold. Ornelas simply surrender in the fifth. He dropped to one knee when under pressure and then started to rise only to go down on one knee again. He stood up at nine but the referee rightly stopped the fight. Palomares, 24, the Mexican featherweight champion, had put up a good performance in taking 21-0 Irving Turrubiartes to a split decision in his last fight but BoxRec had him 25 positions below Ornelas in their world ratings. Ornelas was rated in the world’s top 15 as he went 21-0 at the start of his career but is now 3-4 in his last 7 with all three losses by KO/TKO.

Arlamow, Poland: Super Middle: Robert Parzeczewski (25-1) W PTS 8 Sladan Janjanin (27-6). Feather: Kamil Laszczyk (28-0) W TKO 5 Piotr Gudel (10-5-1).Super Middle: Przemyslaw Gorgon (10-6-1) W PTS 6 Patryk Szymanski (20-4)

Parzeczewski vs. Janjanin

Pole Parzeczewski brutalises Bosnian Janjanin on the way to a wide unanimous decision. Parzeczewski scored a knockdown in the first, two in the second and one each in the third and fifth rounds. Despite this and a broken nose, Janjanin survived the eight rounds and did a “victory” dance at the end of the fight to celebrate going the distance. Parzeczewski was not taking this fight lightly and tried hard to get the much smaller and lighter Bosnian out of the fight but failed and also suffered an injury to his right hand. The scores were 80-67 for Parzeczewski on all three cards. He has useful wins over Dariusz Sek, Dmitri Chudinov and Patrick Mendy and is said to be facing experienced Canadian Ryan Ford in his next fight. Janjanin is 4-5 in his last nine fights including a points loss to Martin Murray in November.

Laszczyk vs. Gudel

No problem here for Laszczyk. His speed gave him a big edge and he rocked Gudel with a right to the head in the first round. Accurate jabs and some tasty left hooks gave Laszczyk the second round and he scored well with right hooks in the third. In the fourth a right to the head forced Gudel to drop to one knee. He made it to his feet and the bell saved him. Laszczyk ended it in the fifth flooring Gudel twice before the referee intervened. After nine years as a pro and with a 28-0 record the 29-year-old Pole has been fed a stream of soft-touch opponents and seems to be going nowhere-slowly. Now 3 losses in his last 4 fights for Gudel. 

Gorgon vs. Szymanski

Szymanski’s slide continues as he losses a split decision to a very ordinary Gorgon. Szymanski had much the better technique and used his skills to edge in front. He then seemed to lose his way and boxed very defensively looking to hold and smother Gorgon’s attacks. Gorgon finished strongly and a right to the head saw Szymanski take a knee in the last round. Scores 58-55 twice for Gorgon and 57-56 for Szymanski. Just very ordinary prelim fighter Gorgon was 3-3-1 in his previous 7 fights and should not have caused Szymanski any problems but after winning his first nineteen fights, including five victories in the USA Szymanski has fallen to 1-4 in his last 5 with three of those losses inside the distance. 

Fight of the week (Significance): Mike Plania’s win over WBO No 1 Joshua Greer has shaken up the WBO bantamweight ratings

Fight of the week (Entertainment): Plania vs. Greer was close and hard fought

Fighter of the week: Plania for beating WBO No 1 Greer with honourable mention to Gabriel Flores beating useful Josec Ruiz in his first ten round fight

Punch of the week: The right to the body from Emanuel Navarrete which finished Uriel Lopez

Upset of the week: Plania beating Greer was a surprise as was Edwin Palomares stopping 25-2 Carlos Ornelas

Prospect watch: No new names this week

Next Week’s Action:

Tuesday, June 23:

Las Vegas: Super Fly: Andrew Moloney (21-0) vs. Joshua Franco (16-1-2) (WBA super fly title): Feather: Chris Diaz (25-2) vs. Jason Sanchez (15-1). Light: Joseph Adorno (14-0-1) vs. Alexis del Bosque (17-5).

Thursday, June 25:

Las Vegas: Bantam: Jason Moloney (20-1) vs. Leonardo Baez (18-2). Light Abraham Nova) 18-0) vs., Avery Sparrow (10-1).

Friday, June 26:

Small shows in Tijuana and Haltom City, Texas.

Saturday, June 27: 

Shows in Brampton, Canada, Czech Republic, Wuppertal Germany, Mexico City, Moscow and South Korea.

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