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The Barclays Center: Shiny New Arena, Somewhat Shiny Dividends

(Photo © Tom Casino / SHOWTIME)
(Photo © Tom Casino / SHOWTIME)

By Jason Gonzalez at ringside


Brooklyn, NY - As always, Brooklyn is in the house. On Saturday, October 20, championship boxing returned to the borough of kings for the first time in over 80 years.

The Barclays Center a.k.a. “The New Ebbets Field” a.k.a. “The House that Jay-Z Built” played host to a card that featured five hometown boys plus Devon Alexander, Randall Bailey, Erik Morales and Danny Garcia.

But what would boxing be without any controversy? On Thursday, October 4, the Mexican legend and future Hall-of-Famer Morales tested positive for the banned substance of Clenbuterol. For those of you who may not know what Clenbuterol is, Maxboxing will play Wikipedia for a quick second. Clenbuterol is an antihistamine that helps with breathing. But just exactly how does an asthma bronchodilator equate to a performance-enhancing drug? It’s simple: in the late rounds of a tough fight, the fighter “juicing” is feeling refreshed thus having a second wind. In other words, it’s cheating. Word around press row was that Morales was using the substance to make weight. Clenbuterol is also a diuretic. And Morales failed to make weight against Garcia the first time. But who knows because one week later, on October 10, Morales tested positive again for the PED.


But in a strange twist of events, this past Wednesday, October 17, Morales tested negative. To say that Morales has had a rollercoaster week is an understatement. One must wonder what his mindset was coming into the fight. Just recently, Morales tweeted, “No need to worry about the psychological issue. I am very focused on the fight. I am a clean fighter.” Garcia has remained quiet on the topic. However, Garcia’s father had a whole lot to say but no one really cares what he thinks. He has a tendency to just babble about nonsense.

In the main event of the evening, unified world champion (WBA/WBC/The Ring magazine) Danny Garcia of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania treated all of the 11,112 in attendance to a treat in Brooklyn’s boxing inaugural party.

Garcia’s knockout streak continues; the havoc he is causing in the 140-pound division continues.

In the rematch, Garcia, now 25-0 (16), scored a devastating fourth round knockout over Morales, of Tijuana, Mexico, 52-9 (36), that left Morales spinning like a top.

“I showed him too much respect,” said Garcia. “I pressured him with the jab. After watching the first fight, you would have thought this fight would have been more of a war.”

It was a butt-whupping. Garcia starched Morales with a master-blaster of a left hook at the 1:23 mark of the round.

“My whole family is left-handed,” recalled the 24-year-old Garcia, “and that’s what I got him with. I want to fight the best. I fought [Amir] Khan; no one gave me a shot. You line them up; I take them out. The best knockouts are yet to come. I am more mature now. I have the belts; come get them. I was more aggressive this time around. My dad called it in the fifth but I got it in the fourth.”

As for Morales, it is obvious the end has come.

“This is my last fight in the U.S.,” proclaimed an extremely dejected Morales. “I love you all.”

Rumor has it that the 36-year-old Morales will fight a farewell fight in Tijuana.

In the co-feature bout of the evening, Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi, of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, retained his WBA welterweight crown after just barely getting past Pablo Cesar Cano in a split decision. Even if he lost, it wouldn’t have mattered. Cano wouldn’t have earned the belt. The contest was switched to a non-title affair after challenger Cano, 147 ¾, failed to make weight.

“He is stronger than I thought,” said Malignaggi. “I don’t know what was up with [Judge Glenn Feldman’s] card of 118-109 [in favor of Cano].”

Malignaggi, 146 ¼, upped his résumé to 32-4 (7), though touching the canvas in the 11th. However, the defending WBA welterweight champ was able to open up a bad cut over Cano’s left eye in the second round.

It was your typical Malignaggi fight up until he was knocked down. It was jab, jab, jab and straight right hand until Malignaggi took the straight right to the chin that floored him. Malignaggi got up and tried making it a brawl for the remainder of the round.

This marks the second time Malignaggi has been dropped, the other being against Miguel Cotto in 2006.

“Paulie caught me with a lot of elbows,” said Cano, the native of Tianepantia, Mexico, 25-2-1, (19). “Paulie has a lot experience but I have a lot more experience in heart. Listen to the crowd; they know who won the fight. Ask them. Even Paulie told me himself that I am a true Mexican warrior.”

After the 12th round, the scorecards read 114-113 (twice) for Malignaggi and 118-109 for Cano.

Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin of Manhattan, New York remained undefeated at 28-0 (20) while picking up the WBO middleweight championship after defeating Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, of Pantin, France, 27-1 (17).

“Brooklyn and New York was behind me,” said Quillin. “This was a historic event. I helped open up the Barclays Center.”

Quillin dropped N’Jikam six times. Yes, mi gente; that is not a typo. You read correctly, six times en route to a 12-round unanimous decision as Quillin claimed his first world championship. “I won the championship here in Brooklyn,” proclaimed a jubilant Quillin. “I want to be an inspiration to my fans. It takes a great fighter to come to my backyard to fight me.”

Quillin would drop N’Jikam twice in the fourth, twice in the sixth and two more times in the 12th. Scores read 115-107 across the board.

“I came from off the ground to the big stage,” said Quillin. “He is a tough guy with a big heart. I hit him; I dropped him and he kept getting up but I am living proof that hard work pays off.”

“The Lou” is on the map again. St. Louis, Missouri has another world champion who isn’t named Cory Spinks. Head trainer Kevin Cunningham now has his second two-division world champion as Devon Alexander “The Great” 146¾ , 24-1 (13), won a brutally awful 12-round unanimous decision over the reigning IBF titleholder, Randall “KO King” Bailey, that left those in attendance booing rather loudly.

“I know I can do way better,” said the 25-year-old Alexander. “He hit hard but I got a chin. I expected my work rate to be high, the only thing he has is a right hand. I was cautious; I had to be smart because he is a veteran.” 

The native of Miami, Florida, Bailey, proved he was a one-trick pony as he looked to land the straight right hand all night. But Alexander didn’t make the same mistakes Mike Jones did.

With the loss, Bailey drops to 43-8 (37). 

The southpaw Alexander employed a strategy consisting of doubling up on the jab, clinching and then landing a straight left hand but unlike most bouts featuring a southpaw against a conventional fighter, there weren’t many headbutts. Instead there was a lot of dancing. Alexander spun Bailey for a good portion of the bout.

At the end of the fight, the scorecards read 117-109, 116-110, and 115-111 in favor of Alexander. Throughout the course of the 12-round bout, Bailey managed to only land 45 punches. If you do the math, that averages out to a little less than four punches a round. I am guessing that this has to be a CompuBox record of some sort.

“[Alexander] was young and he was fast,” said Bailey. “He moved a lot. He moved a lot faster than I thought. I couldn’t get him to stand in front of me. I couldn’t get set and fight my fight.”

So much for being the knockout king.

Dmitriy “Star of David” Salita, 150, of Brooklyn, New York, improved to 35-1-1 (18) after earning a hard-fought, workman-like, six-round unanimous decision over Brandon Hoskins, 147¼, of Hannibal, Missouri. With the loss, Hoskins falls to 16-3-1 (8). The scorecards read 60-54 and 59-55 (twice) for Salita. Either this was a stay-busy fight or Salita has just regressed tremendously.

“I was happy to get the rounds in,” said the 30-year-old Salita. “Had it been an eight-rounder, I feel I would have made more of a statement.”

Brownsville, Brooklyn native Danny Jacobs was probably the biggest story of the night. The cancer survivor was returning to the squared circle for the first time since March 2011.

"I feel ecstatic; the mere fact that I was in that ring puts me on Cloud Nine,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs, 161¼, upped his record to 23-1 (20) after making quick work of Josh Luteran, 161¾, of Blue Springs, Missouri, now 13-2 (9). Jacobs put Luteran’s lights out with a picture-perfect left hook that landed flush, followed by another hook and a right uppercut which left Luteran unconscious at the 1:13 mark of the opening round.

“It’s an honor to be fighting here tonight,” said Jacobs. “Brooklyn produced the careers of Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Zab Judah, Mark Breland and many others. But unfortunately, those guys didn’t have this outlet to showcase their talent. I was, so I feel blessed.Jacobs plans to continue to fight the good fight out of the ring as he looks to help kayo cancer permanently.

“Go to dannyjacobsgetinthering.com,” he said. “Please support cancer research. Let’s stop childhood obesity and put an end to child bullying.”

Junior middleweight Eddie Gomez, 151, of the “Boogie-Down” Bronx, earned the eighth knockout of his career and improved to 11-0 after landing a murderous left hook, dropping Saul Benitez of Phoenix, Arizona, 1-3, for the count at the 1:23 mark of the second frame.

Former WBA welterweight champion Luis Collazo of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 146¾, earned the 32nd victory of his career after winning an eight-round unanimous decision over Steven Upsher Chambers of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The general consensus was that Collazo, 32-5 (16), was in a much tougher fight than what the scorecards indicated. Chambers, 24-2 (6), gave the Boricua (who was returning to the ring for first time since losing a unanimous decision to Freddy Hernandez) as stern a challenge as one would have originally thought. The southpaw Collazo employed his vast array of boxing skills while utilizing his right jab, while connecting with counter left hands, earning him a lot of points.

The scorecards read 80-72, 79-73 and 77-75. The second round provided a lot of back-and-forth action, so Judge Robin Taylor’s score of 77-75 may have been the most reasonable tally.

“It was an exciting fight; the fans enjoyed it,” said Collazo. “I was rusty early on, particularly in the first and second round. Afterwards, I got my rhythm then I took it from there. There were a lot of clashes of heads but he also caught me with some good shots. He never hurt me though.”

In terms of the fight being closer than what the scorecards suggested, Collazo opined, [Chambers] came to fight; he came to win,” said Collazo. “We stuck to the game plan. He is the kind of dude that can upset cats if you sleep on him.”

So what’s next for the former champ?

“I will get together with my team and Golden Boy and see what’s next,” said Collazo. “Whatever it is - whenever it is - I will be ready. I will be ready to get the sharpness back. I want Ricky Hatton next.”

In the opening bout of the evening, middleweight Boyd Melson, 155, of Brooklyn, New York, is now 10-1-1 (4) after fighting to a draw with Jason Thompson, 151, 5-6-2 (4), also from Brooklyn.

Melson survived a first round knockdown and then Melson dropped Thompson in the third with a big straight left hand. All three judges scored the bout identically at 56-56.

Jay Gon’s Ringside Tidbits

-  The turnout was a big disappointment, considering this was the first big boxing event in Brooklyn.

-  I was born in Brooklyn Hospital, which is less than half a mile from the Barclays Center. I also completed my bachelor’s degree at Long Island University the Brooklyn Campus, which is just a couple of blocks away from the Barclays.

-  No, Jay-Z was not in the building.

-  Overall, this was a bad marketing move on Golden Boy’s part. Although there may be a huge Puerto Rican and Mexican community in Brooklyn, a lot of them did not know who Danny Garcia or Pablo Cesar Cano was. These fighters should have been built up before fighting on the “big stage.” Garcia isn’t Felix Trinidad or Miguel Cotto and Cano isn’t Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.

-  This was a pretty silly card that made no sense to have in Brooklyn.

-  This has officially been the longest fight report I have ever written in my life!
 
Questions and comments can be sent to “Jay Gon” at jg51593n@pace.edu. You can also visit him at www.facebook.com/jason.gonzalez39 and follow him at www.twitter.com/jaygon15.
 
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