Sunday, November 11, 2018

Raging Babe & Peltz Promotions Presents Valdez vs. Coria Preview

Raging Babe & Peltz Promotions will present us with Guerra de Gallos on Saturday, November 17th at Casino Del Sol’s AVA Amphitheater in Tucson, AZ. The intimate outdoor setting coupled with a stacked card of exciting young prospects should prove more than enough to satiate southern Arizona boxing head’s desire for an exciting night of fights. 

The nine fight card previously garnered attention because the original main event, Jensen Ramirez vs. Thomas Valdez, was scheduled for seven rounds-a first in the history of Arizona boxing. Unfortunately, Ramirez, a Tucson native, chipped a bone in his ankle while training for this fight and was subsequently replaced by Luis Coria, a resident of Oxnard, CA. The Super Featherweight bout between Valdez (17-3-2, 7 KOs) and Coria (9-1, 4 KOs) will now be scheduled for eight rounds and should still prove to be a more than competitive contest. Valdez enters this fight the winner of eight of his last ten contests, the other two being draws, and has not tasted defeat in five years. The 20-year-old Coria will enter this fight riding the coattails of a five fight win streak with his lone loss, a four round unanimous decision, coming back in October 2017. Another potentially significant point of interest for Coria is that this will mark the first time in his young career that he will enter a bout scheduled for more than six rounds.

The co-feature of this card will pit another Tucson native, Alfonso Olvera (10-5-1, 4 KOs), against Virgil Green (11-5, 4 KOs) in a bout that will be contested in the welterweight division. Olvera enters this bout having lost three of his previous five contests where he found himself on the wrong side of the judges' cards in each, with the most recent being his last fight against Wilberth Lopez back in July where he lost a tough luck split decision. Olvera last had his hand raised when he defeated Jesus Zazueta Anaya by unanimous decision in October 2017. Green on the other hand, has won three of his last five bouts, however, I should preface a couple things: First, Green lost his previous two fights, a ten round unanimous decision against Jonathan Chicas and a seventh round TKO versus Miguel Cruz. Secondly, the Chicas fight I just referenced….was in June of 2016, a significant two year layoff for the 30-year-old-so much so that still had him listed as “inactive” at the time this article was written. Nonetheless, this fight will have an interesting narrative, the hometown pugilist looking to right the ship doing battle with a fighter who will discover whether he still has the hunger to resume his career after a two year layoff.

Casino Del Sol should be prepared for an electric night of action! Tickets start at just $25 and can be purchased on the Casino Del Sol website.

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Friday, November 9, 2018

Kings Promotions Presents Live Boxing at the SugarHouse Casino Recap

Kings Promotions returned to SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia this evening with a six fight card, headlined by a bantamweight contest between Christian Carto (17-0, 11 KOs), Philadelphia, and Antonio Rodriguez (13-23-2, 6 KOs), Durango, Mexico. Carto, the hometown favorite, walked out to the ring in front of an enthusiastic crowd of supporters clang in orange Carto shirts that read, "Broad Street Bully," a homage to the Philadelphia Flyers hockey club. The "bully" put his skills on display through six rounds as he dominated the bout en route to his 17th professional victory.

Carto answered the opening bell by unloading an offensive onslaught on Rodriguez. In the final 30 seconds of the round, he backed Rodriguez up with a multi-punch combo, that was halted by the bell. Rodriguez swung wildly at the head and body of Carto in the second round, desperately hoping to counter the cleaner and more powerful Carto shots. Later in the round, to the crowd's delight, Carto tee'd off on Rodriguez with hard right hooks that pushed the Mexican veteran into the ropes. In the final ten seconds of the round, Carto sent Rodriguez crashing to the canvas with a left hand that found its mark on his body.

By the third round, Carto's go-to punch was the right hook, a punch that Rodriguez had difficulty defending himself against. In the fourth round, Carto punished Rodriguez with big right hands to the body. Rodriguez was warned for rabbit punches in the fifth round. Carto, clearly ahead on the cards, cruised through the sixth and final round. Midway through the round, he reminded Rodriguez he was still in a fight by snapping his head back with consecutive right hands. Rodriguez, hoping for a "last minute" knockout, viciously exchanged punches with Carto as the fight came to an end. All three judges scored the bout 60-53 in favor of Philly's own Christian Carto. 

The co-main event of the evening pitted welterweights Poindexter Knight (6-0, 3 KOs) against Travis Castellon (16-3-1, 12 KOs). This bout was the third time Castellon, a Fort Lauderdale native, fought against a fighter with a winning record, and it certainly showed. Early in the opening frame, a Knight left hook to the head stunned Castellon. He followed this big shot up with a left-right combo that staggered Castellon. At this point, referee Eric Dali pushed Knight away, and ushered the hurt Castellon into the corner. Castellon could not recover from the damage, and Dali waived off the fight at the 1:33 mark of the first round. 

James Martin (3-0), North Philadelphia, fought Denis Okoth (2-1-1, 1 KO), Kenya, in a battle of undefeated welterweights. Martin sent Okoth crashing to the canvas in the first round with a big left hook to the head. In the third round, Okoth had his revenge for the previous knockdown, by connecting with a hard left hand that sent Martin to the mat. The two men, not wanting to leave the decision in a close fight up to the judges, exchanged big shots as time winded down in the fourth and final round. All three judges scored the bout 38-36 in favor of Martin.

West Philadelphia's Frankie Trader (11-2-1, 3 KOs) fought Pablo Cupul (10-28, 5 KOs), San Diego, in a lightweight contest. Trader, who has not fought since 2014, shook off the ring rust in the opening frame by connecting with big right hands that found their mark on the head and body of Cupul. Later in the round, Trader, the faster fighter, landed a left hand to Cupul's body that made the more stationary fighter cringe. In the second round, Cupul was warned for rabbit punches. Trader, who had enough of Cupul by the second round, punished his opponent with a vicious multi-punch combo that ended the night for the veteran fighter from California. Eric Dali stopped the fight at 1:45 of the second round. 

Maurice Burke (1-0), Philadelphia, defeated Brandon Bey (0-1), the Bronx, by unanimous decision in a four round, middleweight contest. All three judges scored the contest 40-36 for Burke. 

Mark Dawson (5-0, 3 KOs), Philadelphia, won his fifth straight professional fight by way of unanimous decision over Chukka Willis (3-7, 2 KOs), Emporia, Kansas. The judges scored the bout 60-54 twice and 59-55 in favor of Dawson. 

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Kings Promotions Presents Live Boxing at the SugarHouse Casino Preview

Marshall Kauffman's Kings Promotions returns to the SugarHouse Casino on Friday, November 9th. The seven bout card, which features several familiar faces to the greater Philadelphia area boxing scene, is headlined by a six round, bantamweight contest between Philly prospect Christian Carto (16-0, 11 KOs) and Mexican veteran Antonio Rodriguez (13-22-2, 6 KOs). Carto, the 21-year-old orthodox fighter, is coming off of a unanimous decision victory over Javier Gallo in Atlantic City this summer. Rodriguez last fought and kayoed Carlos Apodaca on September 22nd. This will be the first of two scheduled bouts this month for the product of Durango, Mexico. 

Philadelphia's own Tyrone Crawley Jr. (7-1-1) returns to the ring for a rematch against Ricardo Garcia (14-3-1, 9 KOs) of the Dominican Republic. The two men last met on August 10th in a fight which ended in a draw. On Friday night, Crawley and Garcia will fight in an eight round, super lightweight contest. 

Philadelphia southpaw Poindexter Knight Jr. (5-0, 2 KOs) will square off against Florida native, Travis Castellon (16-2-1, 12 KOs) in a six round bout in the welterweight division. Knight, who has won his last three fights by unanimous decision, will fight his second straight career six round contest. Despite having 16 professional victories, 12 of which came by way of knockout, Castellon has never defeated an opponent with a winning record. In his last two ring appearances, Castellon was kayoed by opponents in Puerto Rico. 

The card also features a number of other talented, young, Philly fighters including, Frankie Trader (10-2-1, 2 KOs), Mark Dawson (4-0-1, 3 KOs), and James Martin (2-0).

The following bouts are also featured on the card: 

Frankie Trader (10-2-1, 2 KOs) vs. Pablo Capul (10-27, 5 KOs) - six  rounds, lightweights

James Martin (2-0) vs. Denis Okoth (2-0-1, 1 KO) - four rounds, welterweights

Maurice Burke (DEBUT) vs. Brandon Bey (DEBUT) - four rounds, junior welterweights

Mark Dawson (4-0-1, 3 KOs) vs. Chukka Willis (3-6, 2 KOs) - four rounds, welterweights

Tickets for this great night of boxing start at $50 and can be purchased on

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Eddie Hearn and his "band" Matchroom Boxing

Eddie Hearn and his band Matchroom Boxing are not the Beatles or The Rolling Stones, still his pugilistic British invasion resembles an inaugural rock tour of the USA. Things got started in early October in Middle America. A couple weeks’ later Boston, seven days after that “The Big Apple” New York City. All these nights featured championship fights and numerous world class boxers.

Excited boxing fans from around the five boroughs filled all the fifty six hundred seats in the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on October 27th. Whether their warrior won or lost every one of them departed knowing they got bang for their buck.

A stirring Main Event pitted former WBA Middleweight King Danny Jacobs, Brooklyn, against Ukrainian Sergiy Derevyanchenko, who now lives in Brooklyn, NY, for the vacant IBF Middleweight Championship of the world. Some people may have looked at this matchup as Jacobs being spoon fed a title. Derevyanchenko only had a dozen bouts entering the contest without much exposure. Insiders were whispering the outcome was a toss-up.

Wasting little time feeling each other out, lighting their fusses, both released bombs with Sergiy getting the better of the exchanges. Gaining momentum, Derevyanchenko had round one won when with seconds left an overhand right to the head from Jacobs,159.6 lbs., had the Ukrainian hitting the floor. Jacobs carries one hundred sixty pounds in a big way, his biceps look like they belong to a heavyweight. Leaving his corner for the second, Derevyanchenko, 159.4 lbs., showed no ill effects from his fall. Having mastered the art of cutting off the ring, Sergiy kept cornering or backing Jacobs against the ropes, scoring shots. Derevyanchenko continued hit Jacobs to body throughout. Offsetting the offensive in front of him, Jacobs bounced hard leather off his foes’ head. Ten rounds of oohs, aahs, and roaring cheers left the alacritous throng wanting to witness the championship sessions. Not disappointing the faithful, both soldiers willingly engaged in a slugfest for the final six minutes. Once the final second ticked off, the house cleared their lungs with a booming loud approval.

Sometimes a tenseness is felt when waiting to hear a decision in a close match. Those moments slow down the clock and each second feels longer than the last. At that moment, Ring Announcer Miguel Flores put the microphone close to his mouth “Ladies and Gentlemen……” and went on to announce Danny Jacobs as the new IBF middleweight king by split decision. Julie Lederman 114-113 Derevyanchenko overruled by Tom Schreck and Steve Weisfeld 115-112.

Following giving kudos to Derevyanchenko, Jacobs said “We absolutely want Canelo. It’s a fight the fans want. Now that I have the belt there will be more in the pudding for everyone.” With Canelo and Jacobs both connected to streaming sports network the DAZN this could be happen soon.

Even though Derevyanchenko lost, he has proven himself amongst the elite in the talent laden middleweight division. Suffering his first loss, Sergiy’s record is now 12-1 (10 KOs). With a new belt to hold up his pants Jacobs marches forward with a 35-2 (29 KOs} slate.

Lou DiBella’s DiBella Entertainment partnered with Matchroom to promote the show.

Negotiating a big dollar deal with DAZN to promote thirty two fights a year, Hearn has decided to enter the American market. 

-Frank Bartolini

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Friday, November 2, 2018

Primal MMA’s reprise event unfolds Saturday in New Jersey

Primal Fight Promotions returns to New Jersey this Saturday night (11/3) for its reprise MMA extravaganza, featuring the Main Event in which Josue “The Saiyan Prince” Del Rios (3-3) defends his lightweight title against Efren “The Mexicutioner” Escareno (5-1).

Del Rios, representing Rare Breed MMA of Bloomfield, in August defeated Brett Floyd by way of unanimous decision in Primal’s premiere at The Claridge-Atlantic City.

Indeed, it was his third consecutive win—a victory streak that followed, however, three consecutive losses (Read more about his amazing comeback in our article “Despite slowcareer start, MMA fighter comes out on top.”

Escareno, representing Lionheart Modern Martial Arts of South Amboy, similarly started his career with a debut loss, but is now on a five-bout win streak. He most recently fought in May on Dead Serious 29, defeating Andrew Smith by way of armbar in the second round.

The co-main event features light heavyweights Manny Morales (1-0)—who defeated Collin Charyszyn by way of unanimous decision at the Primal premiere—and newcomer Charlie Grab.

The event takes place at Pond Road Middle School in Robbinsville, NJ (Mercer County). Doors open at 6 p.m., with the first fight slated to begin at 7 p.m. Entry: $50 General Admission or $75 VIP. Tickets are available here

The remainder of the bout card, in reverse order, is as follows:

Lightweight Bout:
Joseph Musse vs. Amir Elbanna

Welterweight Bout:
James Ferren vs. Kyle Hannigan

Light Heavyweight Bout
Pete DiFabio vs. Connor Dixon

Super Cruiserweight Bout
Pete Mattocia vs. Ethan Burst

Welterweight Bout
Ismael Rios vs. Mike Goodlow


Jorge Betancourt vs. Chris Notte

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Snips and Snipes with Eric Armit

Difficult decision this week on who to vote for as my favourite man/people. The candidates are UFC President Dana White and the Board of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Difficult choice. White has to be a strong candidate for saying that if the Floyd Mayweather Jr vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov fight does come off it should be a UFC fight and not a boxing match. He is a candidate for making that statement and will do boxing a big favor if he sticks to that. Of course he can’t force it to be a UFC fight but hopefully his resistance to another boxing match will prove enough to end the speculation that this fight could take place. Mayweather is a genius inside the ring but hopefully, whilst no genius out of the ring still mart enough to realise he could be seriously injured in the cage and we will have dodged another farce. Go for it Dana.

The CAS has given Olympic boxing a lifeline by ordering the AIBA to allow Serik Konakbayev to be a candidate in this week’s presidential election. If interim president Gafur Rahimov had been the sole candidate there is every chance that the Olympic Committee would banish boxing from the Olympics. It is ridiculous that without this court action Rahimov, who is on the US  Department of the Treasury’s sanctions list “for providing material support “ to a criminal organisation would have lead such a high profile sports body.  You only have to look at the list of current world champions to see the important part Olympic competition has played. Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, Oleg Usyk, Artur Beterbiev, Demetrius Andrade, Gary Russell, Errol Spence, Vasyl Lomachenko, Isaac Dogboe, Khalid Yafai and Jose Pedraza were all Olympians. Of course there will still be amateur boxing even if the sport is not an Olympic sport but there must be a huge question over government support to boxing where the return in Olympic medals is a big factor in the support and sponsorship money given to the sport. My fear is that having been pig-headed enough to try to push Rahimov through as a sole candidate many AIBA delegates will react badly to having their plan foiled and vote Rahimov in just to thumb their noses at the CAS and the US Department of Treasury.

It is the next round of the WBSS super lights and bantams this weekend. The competition is already producing some great action and the Josh Taylor vs. Ryan Martin and Ryan Burnett vs. Nonito Donaire fights have the potential to be every bit as entertaining. The WBSS really is making a big impact and they are proving that the fights are more important than any title. With the WBSS in control of the various matches it is taking much of the decision making on who fights for what title and against whom out of the control of the sanctioning bodies but they all want to be associated with it so are playing along and basking in whatever glory comes out. All our own work? No none of your work Mr Sanctioning Body.

The next round of the WBSS cruiser tournament takes place in Chicago on 10 November. It will see the tournament favorite Mairis Breidis face Noel Gevor, or Noel Mikaeljin as he now seems to prefer to be known, and Krzys Glowacki against Maksim Vlasov. They are both very good fights between highly rated fighters. Breidis is No 1 with the WBC, and Vlasov No 2, the WBO have Glowacki No 2 and Vlasov No 5 the WBA have Vlasov No 2 and Glowacki No 3. The No 1 spot with the IBF is vacant with Andrew Tabiti who is already through to the semi-finals at No 3 and Glowacki No 7. Gevor’s only rating is No 14 with the WBC but then he is promoted by Sauerland promotions which explains his inclusion. Of course Yuniel Dorticos is also through to the semi-finals.

The elephant in the room is that on the same night in Manchester Oleg Usyk defends all four titles against Tony Bellew. Whoever wins that fight it is likely that all four titles will become vacant during the life of this WBSS tournament but until after the Usyk vs. Bellew and thee 10 November quarter-finals are over it won’t be clear who will be fighting for three of the four titles. It is impossible to know what is happening with the WBA. In their September ratings they showed Usyk as super champion, Beibut Shumenov as their secondary champion, and Arsen Goulamirian as their interim champion and Denis Lebedev as “champion in recess”. Their October ratings do not show Goulamirian at all and show Dorticos at No 1. I am not sure why Goulamirian has disappeared totally and I am also not sure how Lebedev can be “in recess” as he had a fight in September. It seems likely he will be reinstated and his fight with Mike Wilson on 24 November on a show in Monaco will be a title defence-of some title. Leave it to the WBA to screw things up at least in that they are reliable.

Apart from their headaches in the cruisers the WBA are still struggling to sort out the position on their secondary heavyweight title. Manuel Charr was to have defended the title against Fres Oquendo on 29 September but of course Charr tested positive for a banned substance. That ruled out Charr and as Oquendo rightly turned down a $500,000 offer to fight Jarrell Miller the WBA are still on the hook from the court case where they were ordered to give Oquendo a title fight. Oquendo has not fought for four years and the way it is going I can see him fighting for the title against Anthony Joshua’s grandson. That would be more like Super 88 than Super 8. No WBA title fight for Miller Instead he will fight Romanian Bogdan Dinu in Mulvane, Kansas on 17 November.

It is only natural that Daniel Jacobs should be calling out Saul Alvarez but the IBF may put a spoke in that wheel. Before the Serhiy Derevyanchenko fight Jacobs was rated behind Jack Culcay at No 3 so they may insist he fight Culcay before anyone else.

The Jeff Horn vs. Anthony Mundine fight in Brisbane on 30 November will be a huge fight for Australia. I am amazed by Mundine. At 43 he is still a force but what amazes me is that he started out as a super middle, moved up to middle, went down to super welter, fought Danny Green at cruiser and is now going to fight welterweight Jeff Horn at catchweight. He is a very controversial figure in Australia due to his strong stance on racial matters and he has said that he will not stand during the national anthem in Brisbane.

Juan Francisco will have a keep busy fight as he waits for a return shot at Srisaket. Estrada will face former WBC flyweight champion Sonny Boy Jaro. The Filipino scored a major upset when he beat Pongsaklek for the WBC title in 2012 but then lost three fights in a row including dropping the WBC title. He has won 10 of his 11 fights since then but at 36 and past his best he should pose no threat to Estrada.

The planned fight for the secondary WBA super welter title between the champion Brian Castano and former champion Erislandy Lara has been postponed until sometime early next year.

Two of Poland’s leading heavyweights, Artur Szpilka and Mariusz Wach will battle it out in Gliwice on 10 November. I don’t like the term “Crossroads” but the loser will find it hard to stay relevant if he loses here.  At 29 it is not quite so critical for Szpilka but at 38 time is running out for Wach.

There will an IBF eliminator in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 5 January to find a challenger for Errol Spence. The IBF No 1 spot vacant, No 2 Yordenis Ugas is lined up to challenge Shawn Porter for the WBC title in February and No 3 Jesse Vargas declined to fight an eliminator. The outcome is that Kuala Lumpur-based Uzbek Kudratillo Abdukakhorov the No 4 and Japan’s Keita Obara No 6 will fight each other to fill the No 1 spot. It seems that the Porter vs. Ugas fight will be on the same show as Spence vs. Mikey Garcia.

With Zolani Tete tied up in the WBSS bantam tournament the WBO are already looking to crown an interim champion. Ghanaian Duke Micah is rated No 1 by the WBO with Mexican Ricardo Espinoza No 2. Micah is a certainty but as yet it is not clear if Espinoza will accept the opportunity. If Isaac Dogboe retains his WBO super bantam title against Emanuel Navarrete in New York on 8 December, then with Micha’s title fight and Richard Commey now to meet Russian Isa Chaniev for the IBF light title relinquished by Mikey Garcia Ghana could have three world champion in the first half of 2019.

Plenty of good fights to come for the EBU tiles. From the lighter to the heavier a date is awaited for Andrew Selby’s challenge to Vicente Legrand for the flyweight title. Jeremy Parodi and Luca Rigoldi contest the vacant super bantam title on 17 November, on 14 November Samir Ziani and Juli Giner fight for the vacant super feather title, Francesco Patera, fresh from his upset victory over Lewis Ritson, will defend the lightweight title against Marvin Petit with purse bids due 19 November The super light title is vacant and Joe Hughes and Andrea Scarpa will fight for that on 30 November in Italy, Kerman Lejarraga defends the welterweight title against Frankie Gavin in Bilbao on 17 November, at super welter Sergio Garcia will be allowed a voluntary defence and then has to fight Zakaria Attou, negotiations are ongoing for Kamil Szeremeta to defend his title against Martin Murray, Robin Krasniqi has a voluntary defence of his light heavyweight title against Stefan Haertel on 17 November and if he wins he then has to defend against Juergen Brahmer. 

Cruiserweight champion Yves Ngabu is defending against Micki Nielsen no date yet for that one and finally if no agreement is reached purse bids are due 13 November for Agit Kabayel’s defence of the heavyweight title against Otto Wallin. Quite a schedule and some high quality fights.

Marcos Maidana is still scoring victories but in the courts not in the ring. The former WBA super light and welter champion sued his former manager claiming that he had defrauded Maidana of over $600,000. The court ruled that his manager had adulterated contracts, forged Maidana’s signature and collected money in the name of Maidana including a $175,000 signing on fee that Maidana should have received as signing on bonus from Universum Media. Whether Maidana will be able to recover the money is a different matter.

On the South African scene it was good to learn that Gideon Buthelezi was finally paid in full for his IBO title defence against Lucas Fernandez. However there is a lesson there that when you bend the rules even with the best of intentions it can rebound on you. This time not insisting on the promoter having the money instead of a promise from a sponsor for the money has ended happily but that has not always been the case in the past.

There was some controversy over Tommy Oosthuizen’s win over Thabiso Mchunu in September so they will fight each other again on a Rodney Berman show on 6 December. On the same show unbeaten Thulani Mbenge will be defending his IBO welterweight title against experienced former IBF lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez.

The Italian Boxing Hall of Fame was formally opened late last month. Nino Benvenuti, Patricio Oliva, Mauricio Stecca and the late Giovanni Parisi were the first inductees. They are unique in that they are the only Italian boxers to win both an Olympic gold medal and a world title. Parisi tragically died in an automobile accident in 2009 at the age of just 41. There have been so many great Italian boxers and boxers of Italian heritage it will interesting to see who else joins this famous four in the Hall.

Not such good news for Italians was the death last month of Piero Del Papa at the age of 80. Del Papa was Italian light heavyweight champion and twice held the European title. In his twelve year 62 fight career he fought Eddie Cotton, Mauro Mina, Carl Bobo Olsen, Giulio Rinaldi, Chic Calderwood, Tom Bogs, Gregorio Peralta, Rudi Lubbers and so many more. His only shot at a world title came in his 55th fight when he was knocked out in one round by Vicente Rondon for the WBA light heavy title. RIP Piero.

Piero Del Papa

Last month also saw the death of one of Kenya’s outstanding boxers in Richard Murunga. He put Kenya on the map when he came out of nowhere to win a bronze medal at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich where Kenya also won a silver and another bronze. He turned pro in 1974 and had a few fights in Europe for Mogen Palle. After he retired despite a spinal injury making him a paraplegic he played a big part in boxing in Kenyan as a trainer and later as a manager and founded the Kenyan Boxing Federation. RIP Richard.

Richard Murunga

Former world light heavy and cruiser champion Dariusz Michalczewski is entering the ranks of promoters. His first show will be a co-promotion with Erol Celan in Gdansk on 8 December. Michalczewski was 48-2 in his pro career winning his first 48 fights including 25 consecutive victories in WBO WBA and IBF title fights over two divisions.

Always expect the unexpected in boxing. After suffering his seventh loss in his last eight fights Georgian boxer Levan Shonia went back to his corner leaned over the ropes and punched his trainer. That was more than he had managed in six rounds against Spas Genov.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween Havoc 1991 - An Electrifying Retrospective

As I read my brother, Matt Ward’s, piece on WCW Halloween Havoc, I became immersed with an intoxicating sense of good ’ol pro wrestling nostalgia.  I sat there and said to myself, “Bah gawd (you know you just read that in Jim Ross’ voice), Halloween Havoc was a great pay per view concept.”  You’d be treated to a stage set with a Halloween motif (granted some years the presentation in the N64 classic WCW vs. NWO Revenge looked better), some cheesy yet very appropriate Halloween music, and even some backstage interviewers dressed for the occasion. There were even instances through the years when WCW would straight up terrify the audience as was the case with the Hollywood Hogan vs. The Warrior main event from the 1998 installment of the show…if you’ve seen it you know what I’m talking about.

Now before I continue, sure, WCW certainly had its faults and plenty of them (after all, they’d still be in business today if they didn’t) but at the same time you could always say two things about them: 1. They never had a shortage of top tier talent on their roster and 2. As outlandish or flat out ridiculous as their ideas may have been at times, they always made the attempt to put forth cutting edge match concepts. As one looks at the long history of Halloween Havoc, which ran from 1989 through 2000, there was no shortage of the aforementioned talent or match concepts. The star-studded events included such legendary performers as Sting, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Stunning Steve Austin, Diamond Dallas Page, Cactus Jack, and the list goes on and on while the match gimmicks ranged from a “Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal Match” to today’s focal point, “The Chamber of Horrors Match.”

Growing up in New Jersey, I didn’t have cable and therefore didn’t watch pay per views live. As Matt had mentioned, this left us at the mercy of our local Blockbuster or Easy Video to satiate our fix. Since WCW didn’t reach its peak until the inception of the NWO, older WCW pay-per-views were a bit more difficult to come by at these now archaic establishments (unless you live in Alaska). I remember back around 2003, I was perusing the sports entertainment selection offered by the Manahawkin, New Jersey Blockbuster Video as I stumbled across the rare gem known as WCW Halloween Havoc 1991. This event boasted the dreaded Chamber of Horrors Match, which despite its predominant billing, occurred first on the telecast.

This bout pitted two teams of four against each other inside of an ominous, weapon laden, steel cage. At this point you might be saying to yourself, “This just sounds like War Games.” Well hold on because shit’s about to get weird. Not only was there a random coffin in the cage that opened halfway through the match to release a masked gimp-like individual who just started attacking the competitors, but I haven’t yet shared with you how victory would be achieved. After the combatants fought for a few minutes, another mini-cage with an electric chair within it was lowered into the center of the ring. The goal was to trap a member of the other team in the “chair of torture,” while another member of your team flipped the massive, Dr. Frankenstein-like “fatal lever” affixed to the side of the cage thereby “electrocuting” the poor soul in the chair. Yes, all of what you just read is correct…tune in to the WWE Network if you don’t believe me.

The combatants of this match were a who’s who in sports entertainment so my guess is they were paid A LOT of money to engage in this match. Team number one was comprised of El Gigante, The Steiner Brothers, and Sting, while the members of team number two included Big Van Vader, Cactus Jack, Abdullah The Butcher, and The Diamond Studd (a young Scott Hall). This match met its conclusion as Abdullah The Butcher seemingly had Rick Steiner trapped in the chair while Cactus Jack climbed the cage wall to the “fatal lever” primed to electrocute him. Unbeknownst to the man from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, Rick Steiner got the upper hand on Abdullah The Butcher and strapped him into the “chair of torture.” In what ended up a comical, yet awe inspiring, spectacle, Cactus Jack pulled the lever which caused the lights to go out in the arena as sparks illuminated the ring and engulfed the “chair of torture,” while a bloodied Abdullah The Butcher gyrated in the chair. The sparks were so abundant, they even set the ring apron on fire temporarily….like I said this is 20 minutes of must see TV.

In case you’re curious of what the rest of the card was composed of, here you go:

P.N. News & Big Josh def. The Creatures

Bobby Eaton def. Terrence Taylor w/ Alexandra York (Terri Runnels)

Johnny B. Badd (Marc Mero) w/ Theodore Long def. Jimmy Garvin w/ Michael P.S. Hayes

WCW World Television Championship

Stunning Steve Austin (c) w/ Lady Blossom vs. Dustin Rhodes - Fought to a draw as they reached the time limit.

Bill Kazmaier def. Oz

-This was another must see moment of the event as Oz, who hailed from the Emerald City, was none other than Kevin Nash with a bleach blonde flat top squaring off with Bill Kazmaier of ESPN and World’s Stongest Man fame.

Van Hammer def. Doug Somers

WCW Light Heavyweight Championship

Brian Pillman def. Richard Morton w/ Alexandra York

The WCW Phantom def. The Z-Man

-While The Phantom was not unmasked during this contest, he did defeat The Z-Man with The Rude Awakening-I think you can figure this one out.

WCW World Tag Team Championship

The Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko) (c) def. The Patriots (Todd Champion & Firebreaker Chip)

Interview Segment

Eric Bischoff (dressed up as Count Dracula) interviewed Paul E. Dangerously w/ Madusa as he revealed the WCW Phantom to be Ravishing Rick Rude.

WCW World Heavyweight Championship

Lex Luger (c) w/ Harley Race & Mr. Hughes def. Ron Simmons w/ Dusty Rhodes

-Prior to this match, highlights of Ron Simmons at his alma mater, Florida State, completing football drills, lifting weights, and running bleachers was shown. As I watched, all I could think of was how appropriate it would have been if the song “Montage” from the movie Team America played in the background.

If you’re ever in the mood for a healthy dose of early 90’s pro wrestling entertainment complete with a ref wearing a helmet called the “refer-eye cam” (almost forgot that part), then you could certainly do worse than WCW Halloween Havoc 1991 available on demand on the WWE Network. 

Happy Halloween!!!

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Monday, October 29, 2018

HBO results: Daniel Jacobs defeats Sergiy Derevyanchenko

Luis Cortes' report from Daniel Jacobs vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko on Saturday night from the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden:

HBO results: Daniel Jacobs defeats Sergiy Derevyanchenko

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Sunday, October 28, 2018

WWE Evolution Recap

WWE emanated from the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York with their first ever pay-per-view comprised of all female competitors. This truly was a landmark event for the WWE who, despite the inclusion of women wrestlers for decades, have evolved to the point where the ladies have been afforded an ever growing spotlight with the company in recent years, no longer being utilized as valets or in bra and panty gimmick matches. WWE pooled together an impressive collection of talent for the event with only a couple glaring omissions such as Terri Runnels and Jacqueline. While I can certainly appreciate the women of WWE being given a well-deserved spot on this grand stage, I only had one gripe with the event. As much as I love the WWE, they sometimes present themselves like they are the only pro wrestling company on the planet and so much of what they do is unprecedented. 

While this was certainly the first all-woman pay-per-view in WWE history, it is certainly not the first time this concept has come to fruition. The Shimmer promotion, which has regularly worked with Ring of Honor since it’s inception in 2005, has a roster comprised exclusively of women and has produced pay-per-views, albeit iPPV. Additionally, many of you may recall the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling or GLOW founded back in 1986 which is the source material for the popular Netflix series. This was an all-female roster of sports entertainers that could be seen on national television on a weekly basis in the late eighties before pay-per-view became widespread. One could say the WWE did pay homage to this company, albeit in a very roundabout way, with the inclusion of WWE Hall of Famer Ivory on the show. Ivory was one of the original members of the GLOW promotion when she successfully auditioned in 1986 (Yes, you read that correctly… Ivory is now 56 and looks nowhere close to it) and became know as Tina Ferrari. It also appeared, quite regrettably, that this event did not sell well because the lighting on the audience appeared much darker than normal, which was a shame because this was a very entertaining event.

Trish Stratus & Lita vs. Mickie James & Alicia Fox
Winners: Trish Stratus & Lita

Mickie James was originally supposed to tag with Alexa Bliss, however, a last minute change was implemented as a result of an injury The Goddess sustained at a WWE Live event last weekend. This was a great match to open the show with as the two legends, Stratus and Lita, immediately got the crowd involved with “You still got it” chants. Their opponents presented an interesting dynamic to the match as well with Fox being the current longest tenured woman on the roster and James, who originally debuted as Trish’s stalkerish admirer. This bout saw it’s conclusion with a Lita-sault on both James and Fox followed by a Chick-kick on Mickie to seal the victory and leave the crowd "Stratusfied."

20-Woman Battle Royal
Winner: Nia Jax

The star studded battle royal held the coveted prize of a future women’s title shot on the line. Legends such as Alundra Blayze, Ivory, Michelle McCool, Molly Holly, and Torrie Wilson were included among the participants. I was most impressed with the showings by Michelle McCool, who displayed phenomenal conditioning, and WWE Hall of Famer, Ivory, who made it to the final five before she was eliminated by Asuka. The final four were Asuka, Nia Jax, Tamina Snuka, and Ember Moon. Asuka was the first to go as she was shockingly eliminated by Ember Moon. Moon then dumped Snuka over the top rope after she hit the Eclipse on her. This left us with Moon and “The Irresistible Force” Nia Jax as the final two combatants-or so we thought. As Moon and Jax struggled on the ring apron, Zelina Vega snuck up on the two and believed she dumped them over the top rope. As Vega prematurely celebrated, Nia Jax lifted her up over her head and launched her out of the ring. Jax then manhandled Ember Moon with a two handed choke slam and tossed her over the top rope for the victory.

Mae Young Classic Finals
Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai
Winner: Toni Storm

The culmination of the second annual Mae Young Classic arrived this evening as Japan’s Io Shirai squared off with 22-year-old British grappler Toni Storm. The conclusion of this bout arrived after Shirai went for broke with an Asai Moonsault only to be unceremoniously met with knees to her back. Storm quickly recovered and hit her finisher the Storm Zero, essentially a double under-hook sit-down powerbomb, for the pinfall victory.

Six Woman Tag Team Match
The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, and Liv Morgan) vs. Sasha Banks, Natalya, & Bayley
Winners: Sasha Banks, Natalya, & Bayley

The Riott Squad worked as a cohesive unit and dominated the majority of this match as they utilized several tandem offensive maneuvers and continued to keep a fresh person in the ring with regular tags. Natalya, however, was able to turn the tides as she broke Liv Morgan in half with a power bomb that was followed by a well executed Frogsplash by Banks for the victory.

NXT Women’s Championship
Kairi Sane (c) vs. Shayna Baszler
Winner: Shayna Baszler

Inaugural Mae Young Classic winner Kairi Sane squared off with Four Horsewomen member Shayna Baszler in a rematch of their battle at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. These proficient strikers put on a very entertaining match that ended in controversy. Two of the other Four Horsewomen were present at ringside and made their presence felt at the end of the match as they distracted Sane enough for Baszler to get the upper hand and lock in the dreaded Kirifuda Clutch. The referee called a stop to the action as it didn’t take long for Sane to lose consciousness. With the victory, The Queen of Spades became NXT Women’s Champion for an unprecedented second time.

Smackdown Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Winner: Becky Lynch

This match, a continuation of their ongoing feud, was contested as a Last Woman Standing Match. Becky has held the title since the Hell In A Cell pay-per-view last month when she was able to defeat Flair. The intensity of this match quickly progressed to another level as the ladies introduced several weapons into the match. Lynch and Flair even earned an ECW chant from the crowd as they supplied a moment of nostalgia when they stood outside of opposite sides of the ring and proceeded to throw chairs into the ring until there was a pile of roughly ten of them. Another highlight of the visceral carnage of this bout came when Becky was sprawled out across a table as Flair ascended to the top rope and broke Lynch and the table in half with a punishing Senton. As the action spilled out of the ring, Becky Lynch proceeded to one-up Flair as she laid Flair out on the German announce table, climbed a ladder she set next to it, and delivered a devastating leg drop from the top of it. This match reached it’s conclusion as Flair attempted to put the final nail in the metaphorical coffin of Becky’s title reign. With another table set up outside the ring and Becky Lynch laid upon it, seemingly in the final moments of her reign, Flair climbed to the top turnbuckle most likely to attempt a moonsault. Flair’s attempt was thwarted, however, as Becky intercepted her and power-bombed her from the top turnbuckle down through the table below. Flair was unable to answer the referee’s ten count as Becky Lynch retained her title.

RAW Women’s Championship
Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Nikki Bella
Winner: Ronda Rousey

The first few minutes of this bout left the impression that this could have been a squash match as Rousey put on a clinic of her judo abilities. This was short lived, however, as the numbers game quickly came to fruition. Brie Bella promptly established her presence as she helped her sister level the playing field and surprisingly turned this into a very competitive and entertaining contest. The end of this bout arrived as Rousey engaged Bella in a small package takedown from the top turnbuckle that she seamlessly transitioned into her armbar submission which Nikki frantically tapped out to.

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