Vasquez Dominates Lartey

Pittsburgh Fight Night-0017 - Sammy Vasquez - Emmanuel Lartey

Sammy Vasquez put on a show for his hometown fans in Pittsburgh, winning a near-shutout 10-round unanimous decision (99-91 twice, 100-90) over Emmanuel Lartey in the main event of ShoBox: The New Generation on Friday, Feb. 20 from CONSUL Energy Center. 

Vasquez (18-0, 13 KOs) entered the bout seeking his 10th consecutive knockout against an opponent who hadn’t been knocked down before and had been in the ring with two U.S. Olympians.  The military veteran wasn’t able to finish Lartey (17-3, 8 KOs, 1 NC), but that was just about the only thing that didn’t go his way in a thoroughly impressive performance in which he landed 50 percent of his power shots. 

Vasquez started slow and was able to pick his shots in the early rounds, but he accelerated the tempo in the second half of the fight as Lartey appeared to slow down.  The hometown favorite did his best work with Lartey against the ropes and landed at will in the middle rounds.  Lartey seemed like he was ready to quit on his stool after the eighth, but he continued and Vasquez slowed his production in the final two rounds and cruised to the victory.

“I thought he was going down a few times but he hung in there,” Vasquez said.  “The jab was going well, but I made a couple of mistakes because I started feeling comfortable.  I knew he was hurt after the eighth and my corner told me to step off the gas a little bit and pick my punches more instead of just storming him.

“I thought he was going to quit a couple times on his stool.  He’s a tough guy – no one could knock him out. I couldn’t either.”

Lartey dropped his third fight to a top prospect after decision losses to Errol Spence Jr. and Felix Diaz.

“Sammy is a tough fighter,” Lartey said.  “He’s really strong. I did my best, but he was just too good.”

After the fight, ShoBox announcer Steve Farhood broke down Vasquez’s impressive game plan.

“It was a very controlled and intelligent performance by Vasquez, accelerating as the rounds progressed, dominating every round and controlling the action whether boxing, attacking or pinning Lartey against the ropes,” Farhood said.  “He showed a lot and he deserves the reputation he has as being one of the top young American welterweights.”

Pittsburgh Fight Night-0007 - Craig Baker

Craig Baker knocked out Humberto Savigne in a stunning upset, finishing the heralded former Cuban amateur with a highlight-reel TKO at 1:58 of the second round.

Savigne (12-2, 9 KOs, 1 NC), who had a huge size advantage and was the heavily favored fighter, landed a series of right hands in the first and looked like he could make it a quick night against the undefeated-yet-untested Baker.  But the Texan fought like an opponent who had nothing to lose against Savigne, an experienced veteran with over 400 amateur bouts under his belt.

Baker (16-0, 12 KOs) landed a few decent shots in the first and came out blazing in the second, throwing a high volume of punches with Savigne against the ropes.  Fighting in a small ring, Savigne had nowhere to go and continually ate shots on a suspect chin before falling face forward to the canvas.  Savigne got up, but he fell into the ropes and was clearly out on his feet, forcing the referee to halt the contest at 1:58.

“I hurt him in the first round and I could tell that his chin was weak, I could tell that I could finish him,” Baker said.  “In the second, I just smelled blood and I knew I had to go to work, I had to finish him.

 “Nobody gave me a chance going in, but I was the undefeated fighter and he wasn’t.  I worked too hard to come here and lose.  I just have to keep working.  You haven’t seen the last of me – this is a life changing moment.”

 The 36-year-old Savigne was clearly shocked after the fight.

 “He was the better man tonight,” Savigne said.  “I wasn’t expecting him to be as tough as he was.  I made a huge mistake in taking him lightly. This is something that I’ll learn from.  Now I’ll go back to the drawing board.  I’ll go back to the gym – I’ll keep working hard and I’ll be back.

 “In the first round, Baker hit me on the side of the ear and I lost equilibrium. I was completely dizzy. He hurt me with that shot.  He was the better man tonight.”

Pittsburgh Fight Night-0011 - Claudio Marrero - Orlando Rizo

Claudio Marrero won a dominating unanimous decision victory over Orlando Rizo in the opening bout of the telecast.  Marrero (18-1, 13 KOs) controlled the bout from the outset, knocking Rizo (18-6, 11 KOs) down four times en route to a convincing victory scored 78-71, 78-70, 80-68. 

Marrero was the more aggressive and effective fighter, landing 43 percent of power punches and 39 percent of his total punches.

“I was trying to set up the big shots so I could end the night,” Marrero said.  “It got away from me at times, but it was a good preparation for taking that step for a shot at a world title.

“I’m not disappointed I didn’t knock him out.  I underestimated his tenacity to get back up and stay in the fight and I need to work on my discipline so that doesn’t happen again.  I feel that I’m ready for a shot at a title whenever I get an opportunity.”

LIVE BOXING RETURNS TO CBS TELEVISION NETWORK WITH MULTI-YEAR VENTURE FROM CBS & SHOWTIME

CBS Sports and SHOWTIME Sports® have announced a multi-year joint venture to present live boxing on the CBS Television Network—the first of up to eight live events in 2015 will premiere on Saturday, April 4 at 3 p.m. ET on CBS.  Premier Boxing Champions on CBS will air in conjunction with marquee SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING events as part of a partnership that will cross-promote the live programs across multiple platforms. 

The first six weeks to begin this venture will feature two of the biggest names in the sport—Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and Adonis Stevenson—and bookend this year’s most anticipated boxing event, the SHOWTIME PPV® presentation of the undisputed pound-for-pound champion Floyd Mayweather.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Bryan Vera

Each live boxing event on CBS and SHOWTIME will be supported with short- and long-form shoulder programming that will air across multiple platforms including CBS, SHOWTIME and CBS Sports Network.  In addition, a significant marketing budget will be dedicated to promoting each of the live CBS broadcasts and each major SHOWTIME telecast with targeted advertising campaigns.

 “The Premier Boxing Champions series on CBS will help usher in a new era in the storied history of boxing,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President & General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports.  “With the support of our parent company, we are uniquely positioned for a three-tiered approach that includes live boxing broadcasts on America’s No. 1 network, the cable reach of CBS Sports Network and, of course, the premium television leader in boxing, SHOWTIME.  The benefit of elevating the sport across these platforms for all involved, including SHOWTIME, is immeasurable.”

The schedule of upcoming live boxing events on CBS and SHOWTIME is as follows:

SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING

On Saturday, March 28, SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING will present a doubleheader featuring a featherweight showdown between WBC champion Jhonny Gonzalez and top contender Gary Russell Jr., and a matchup of 154-pound contenders Jermell Charlo and Vanes Martirosyan.  The live SHOWTIME telecast will preview the following week’s April 4 CBS debut of Premier Boxing Champions. 

JGo

PREMIERE BOXING CHAMPIONS ON CBS

The CBS premiere on Saturday, April 4 (3 p.m. ET/Noon PT) will feature light heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson defending his WBC title against former super middleweight champ Sakio Bika.  In the co-feature, undefeated light heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev will face veteran former world champ Gabriel Campillo.  The CBS broadcast, with its national reach of more than 110 million households, will offer a broad platform to promote a major SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING event just two weeks later. 

Adonis

SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING

On Saturday, April 18, SHOWTIME presents the network debut of former world champion and Mexican superstar Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., as he takes on light heavyweight contender Andrzej Fonfara. 

PREMIERE BOXING CHAMPIONS ON CBS

On Saturday, May 9 Premier Boxing Champions returns to CBS for the second installment (4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT).  This broadcast will pit undefeated Omar Figueroa, who recently vacated his Lightweight World Championship to move up in weight to 140 pounds, against former champion Ricky Burns. 

 Omar Figueroa vs Daniel Estrada

The April 18 SHOWTIME telecast and the May 9 CBS broadcast will support—and be supported by—the May 2 SHOWTIME PPV event featuring the undefeated, world’s No. 1 ranked fighter, Floyd Mayweather.

Additional confirmed dates for Premier Boxing Champions on CBS include live broadcasts in June, July and September, with up to three remaining events on the 2015 calendar yet to be announced. The live boxing broadcasts on CBS, other than the aforementioned premiere, will be broadcast live at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT. 

The Premier Boxing Champions series was created for television by Haymon Sports. It is the first consistent series presentation of live boxing on CBS in 15 years.  The network aired a one-off live event featuring current WBC Super Bantamweight Champion Leo Santa Cruz in 2012.  Prior to that, the last live boxing on the network was in 1997 when then-middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins knocked out Glen Johnson.

 Live boxing was a staple on the network in the 1980s, consistently featuring future Hall of Famers Sugar Ray Leonard, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and others. Boxing’s history on CBS dates back to 1948 when the Pabst Blue Ribbon Bouts premiered featuring legendary blow-by-blow commentator Russ Hodges.

Sammy Vasquez: Pittsburgh-Tough

04

FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD 

Pittsburgh’s not a blue-collar town, it’s the blue-collar town, so it’s no surprise that since the Immaculate Reception in 1972, the holiest of local heroes have worn black and gold.

But there was a time the heroes were colored black and blue.

Before Franco Harris, Terry Bradshaw, and Mean Joe Greene transformed Pittsburgh from the Steel City into Title Town, the sporting scene was largely defined by boxing. Charley Burley was so good, he couldn’t get as much as a sniff of a title fight. Fritzie Zivic had a flattened nose that suggested the heavy bag occasionally punched back. And Billy Conn broke his hand not on the head of Joe Louis, but rather on that of his father-in-law.

They were tough guys who were easy to root for.

Judging by the substantial crowds he’s beginning to draw in Pittsburgh, unbeaten welterweight contender Sammy Vasquez could be the city’s next Chosen One. In today’s boxing world, it’s unusual for a young American boxer to secure a serious hometown following. For a while, Fernando Guerrero did so in Salisbury, Md. Mike Alvarado draws well in Denver—but that may be over now. And within the last year or so, Terence Crawford, now a world titlist, has won over all of Omaha.

There are precious few other examples.

Vasquez seems to have what’s needed. His back-story is rich: Serving in the National Guard, he survived a pair of tours in Iraq. And his boxing story is deep: As an amateur, he came close to making the 2012 Olympic team, and having turned pro one week before his 26th birthday, he’s been perfect, impressively defeating opposition that has recently included a couple of legitimate tests.

The 28-year-old Vasquez, 17-0, will fight for the second time on ShoBox: The New Generation when he faces Ghana’s Emmanuel Lartey at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Last April, Vasquez’s SHOWTIME debut was a brief one; he kayoed the previously unbeaten Juan Rodriguez Jr. in less than a round. This time, the southpaw, who can box with patience or attack with passion, will likely have to work a bit longer; fellow lefty Lartey’s never been stopped, having gone the distance with, among others, former Olympians Felix Diaz and Errol Spence.

What convinced me that Vasquez was made of the right stuff was an otherwise insignificant fight. In the first round of his February 2014 bout vs. Jamar Freeman, Vasquez stepped on the foot of the referee and twisted his ankle. No prob: He got taped up, resumed the fight, and scored a fifth-round stoppage as if nothing had happened.

The report card of a prospect cannot be fully filled out until he or she overcomes some type of adversity. Vasquez has already done so.

When you watch Vasquez, check out not only his technical skills and punching power, but also the buzz he creates. It’s too early to tell whether he’s championship-caliber. His star appeal, however, is already unmistakable.

On the televised portion of the card, Miami-based Cuban light heavyweight Humberto Savigne, who’s coming off consecutive second-round kayos of Jeff Lacy and Maxell Taylor, will meet unbeaten Texan Craig Baker.

It’s not really accurate to label Savigne a prospect because he’s 36 years old. But he’s had only 13 pro bouts. He’s worth a watch for a singular reason: He wields a destructive right hand.

Savigne has been calling out WBC 175-pound titlist Adonis Stevenson. To be considered for such a bout, he’ll need to look sensational against Baker.

Also televised will be a featherweight bout between a pair of southpaws, Dominican southpaw Claudio Marrero, 15-1, and Nicaraguan veteran Orlando Rizo, 18-5.

Marrero’s only loss came against top-10 contender Jesus Cuellar. Given his strong amateur pedigree and considerable talent, he’s a good bet to rebound strongly enough to eventually secure a shot at a world title.

Fighting The Good Fight

03

FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD 

Unbeaten welterweight prospect Sammy Vasquez, who will headline the Feb. 20 ShoBox: The New Generation telecast, served two tours in Iraq while a member of the National Guard.

Vasquez’s first tour began in 2005, and his second tour started in 2008.

Contrasting his 17 professional boxing battles in the USA to his 18 months in the Middle East, Vasquez said, “Here, maybe we get a black eye or a busted nose, but at the end of the night, we’re both going home.”

Vasquez is hardly alone; there have been countless fighters who have served in the military, whether before, during, or after their ring careers.

Here are some familiar names:

Barney Ross: Three-division world champ joined Marines during World War II. Insisted on serving overseas and proved heroic in battle at Guadalcanal, for which he was awarded Silver Star and honored by FDR.

Nigel Benn: Before winning world titles at middleweight and super middle, served in the British Army. He was stationed in Northern Ireland for 18 months during “The Troubles” conflict.

Georges Carpentier: This war hero was pilot in World War I. Awarded Croix de Guerre, ultimate military honor bestowed in France. Returned to the ring, and in 1921, he challenged heavyweight champ Jack Dempsey in boxing’s first million-dollar gate.

Leon Spinks: Dropped out of school in 10th grade and joined the Marines shortly after. He learned to box while enlisted. Won Olympic gold in 1976, and in his eighth pro bout, he dethroned heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali in ’78.

Max Schmeling: Germany’s former world heavyweight champ was drafted and served in an elite paratrooper division of Lutwaffe during World War II. Returned to ring after war.

Ken Norton: Future heavyweight titlist served in Marines from 1963 to ’67. He was a blue-chip prospect in several sports. Began boxing while enlisted.

Saoul Mamby: Future junior welter titlist served in Vietnam for, according to Mamby, “One year, six days, and four hours.” When asked if he saw combat, Mamby said, “Yeah, enough.”

Gene Tunney, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano (all heavyweight champions): Tunney fought in France during World War I; after being labeled draft dodger World War I, Dempsey enlisted during World War II and became commander in Coast Guard Reserves … Reigning titlist Louis served as sergeant through four years of service during World War II, boxing 96 exhibitions and donating entire purses of two title defenses … Marciano was stationed in Swansea, Wales, during World War II, where he ferried supplies to Normandy. The Rock began boxing career while in Army.

 

DEONTAY WILDER BRINGS THE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BACK TO AMERICA

Bermane Stiverne vs Deontay Wilder

And the new WBC Heavyweight World Champion….

America finally has its heavyweight world champion as Alabama’s Deontay Wilder dethroned defending champion Bermane Stiverne via unanimous decision (118-109, 119-108, 120-107) Saturday on SHOWTIME® from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs), who had never fought past the fourth round and had knocked out all 32 of his professional opponents, boxed brilliantly behind a stellar jab to become the first U.S.-born heavyweight champion in nearly a decade.  The towering 6-foot-7 Tuscaloosa native capitalized on his reach advantage, jabbing consistently to set up a powerful straight right.

Fighting on Hall of Famer Muhammad Ali’s 73rd birthday, Wilder became the first undefeated American heavyweight champion since Michael Moorer in 1994 and the first American champion since Shannon Briggs won the crown in 2006.

“I’m just excited and happy to bring this belt back to America,” Wilder said.  “It’s going to mean a lot. I think I answered a lot of questions tonight.  We knew we could go 12 rounds.  We knew we could take a punch.  We knew we could do it.”

Bermane Stiverne vs Deontay Wilder

Heading into the first heavyweight championship fight at MGM Grand since the infamous Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield ear bite in 1997, there were questions from boxing insiders if Wilder, who had never been truly tested, could handle the power of a true heavyweight and last in the later rounds.  But Wilder answered those questions with a disciplined game plan, landing more than double the total punches and throwing 420 jabs to Stiverne’s 139.

“When I saw he could take a great punch we knew we were in for the long run.  Twelve rounds is nothing.  I want to bring excitement back to the heavyweight division.  Whoever is ready, I’m ready.”

Stiverne (24-2-1, 21 KOs) was able to stagger Wilder with a few shots, but he did not throw enough jabs or cut off the ring effectively.  Wilder was allowed to circle the ring and pop his jab at will.  Stiverne landed just 39 jabs compared to Wilder’s 120.

“It wasn’t my night,” Stiverne said.  “I felt 100 percent before the fight but once I got in the ring I couldn’t cut the ring, I couldn’t move my head like I usually do.  What can I say?  Congrats to him.

“I knew I was trying to throw combos of four or five punches and I could only throw two of them.  I just felt like I was flat in the ring.  What I know I could do I didn’t do.  I just have to go back and learn from my mistakes and find out what happened tonight.”

WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion Leo Santa Cruz defended his crown for the fourth time with an eighth-round TKO of Jesus Ruiz and afterword called out fellow champions Abner Mares and Guillermo Rigondeaux in the co-feature of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING.

The early rounds were close and competitive and Ruiz, a heavy underdog, seemed to be a tougher test than he looked on paper.  But it was clear that Santa Cruz was landing the cleaner shaper punches.  The former bantamweight world champion landed some meaningful shots and had Ruiz in trouble in the seventh and, for the first time, it appeared that he could finish Ruiz.

Santa Cruz (29-0-1, 17 KOs) came out blazing in the eighth, landed a big right cross to kick off the round and continued to tee-off on the challenger.  In trouble against the ropes and not fighting back, referee Kenny Bayless jumped in and stopped the bout with Ruiz (32-6-5, 21 KOs) still on his feet at :29 of the eighth round.  The champion landed 43 percent of his total punches and nearly 50 percent of his power punches, while landing an impressive 73 power shots to the body.

“Like I expected, it was a war,” Santa Cruz said.  “He came prepared.  We hurt him and we didn’t let the chance go away.  We kept going after him and we stopped him.  I hurt him with the right hand.  I knew he was hurt so I went after him.  I knew Kenny Bayless would stop it because he wasn’t throwing punches.

“I want the best and I want to please the fans.  I want (Abner) Mares, I want (Guillermo) Rigondeaux. Hopefully our next fight is against one of the best.”

Ruiz, who only landed 22 percent of his total punches, disagreed with the stoppage.

“I want a rematch,” Ruiz said.  “I don’t feel they should have stopped the fight, but I have to accept it.  But I’m fine.  Look at me – I’m not cut. He didn’t even drop me.”

In the opening bout of the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast, undefeated super lightweight Amir Imam floored Fidel Maldonado Jr. four times and scored a fifth-round TKO in a brawl that featured five total knockdowns.

Maldonado was the busier fighter, but Imam floored the Albuquerque resident for the fourth time in his career with a short right just a moment before the bell rang to end the second.  Then, in an early candidate for Round of the Year that featured three knockdowns, Maldonado responded by knocking down Imam for the first time in his career 30 seconds into the third with a solid straight left.  Imam bounced back and sent Maldonado to the canvas with a huge right with 20 seconds left in the third and then again with a straight right as part of a vicious attack with less than 10 seconds left in the round.

The action continued and Imam (16-0, 14 KOs) floored Maldonado for the fourth time in the fight with a short right followed by a left hook just seconds before the bell to close the fifth.  Maldonado (19-3, 16 KOs) got up but was wobbling and referee Robert Byrd halted the contest at 2:59.  Imam’s power was the difference, landing 50 percent of his power shots.

“It was a tough knockdown, but champions get up and finish the fight hard and that’s what I did,” Imam said.  “I just had to stay composed and do what I had to do.  “I started timing him.  When I hit him with that good shot he was out.  I could see it.  That was the rope-a-dope.  I was swinging for the fences and that was it, baby.

“I’m ready for the title shot right now.  I just want to fight for the title.”

Four of the five knockdowns occurred with less than 30 seconds left in each round.  After the fight, Maldonado admitted that he simply failed to protect himself when the rounds were winding down.

“I just got caught with a couple of punches,” Maldonado said.  “He kept his composure and he came out with the W.  I just got caught.  I got lazy in there and he capitalized.  He was the better man tonight.  I got kind of bored at the end of the rounds and I paid for it.”

In the main event of SHOWTIME BOXING on SHO EXTREME, undefeated light heavyweight prospect Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (12-0, 10 KOs) kept his perfect record intact with a thoroughly convincing TKO victory of Garrett Wilson (13-9-1, 7 KOs).

Shabranskyy kept his distance and was very effective; landing 48 percent of his power shot and threw more than 60 punches in each round.  The Ukrainian prospect scored a knockdown with a right in the closing seconds of the second and another with a clean right in the final 10 seconds of the eighth, sending Wilson face first to the canvas.  Wilson beat the count but was saved by the bell as Shabranskyy unloaded more than a dozen consecutive punches.

The durable Wilson took a tremendous beating in the ninth and seemingly didn’t land a punch, forcing referee Jay Nady to stop the bout after the ninth upon suggestion of the ringside physician.

In the opening bout of the SHO EXTREME telecast, heavyweight Eric Molina (23-2, 17 KOs) defeated Raphael Zumbano (32-9-1, 25 KOs) via eighth round TKO in a one-sided affair.

Molina, who landed 76 percent of his power shots and more than 50 percent of his total punches, was connecting at will when referee Russell Mora halted the contest at 1:28 of the eighth.

 

 

A Birthday Like No Other

Ali  vs Norton                   boxing    1976

FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD 

A suggestion from a writer and broadcaster who’s been around too long to feign emotional detachment: Deontay Wilder, should you score the most meaningful win by an American heavyweight in an elephant’s memory, elevate yourself during your post-fight interview by acknowledging Muhammad Ali’s 73rd birthday.

For that matter, the same suggestion goes for Bermane Stiverne, should HE be victorious tonight.

What Ali has meant to heavyweight history, of course, pales in comparison to a much wider significance. It’s been 33 years since Ali last fought, but go see the movie “Selma,” which details a critical chapter in the civil rights movement … or fast-forward to a week ago and consider the overwhelming gathering of humanity on the streets of Paris in support of free speech.

What you can’t help but realize is that what Ali boldly and unapologetically stood for …and fought for … not only made him unique in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but keeps him relevant today.

Like millions of other baby-boomers, I grew up watching Muhammad Ali and the fights that made the world stop and watch in wonder: wins against Liston … and Frazier … and Foreman … and Norton … and all the others.

I was lucky enough to cover his last two fights, both of which turned out to be sad LOSSES.

Regardless, Ali is the best heavyweight of all-time. But what makes him “The Greatest” is only PARTLY explained by what he gave of himself in the ring.

Happy birthday, champ.

You’re gonna live forever.

Frazier Ellis Ali Louis Patterso

All-Time Longest Kayo Streaks

Deontay Wilder

FROM SHOWTIME BOXING ANALYST STEVE FARHOOD 

Deontay Wilder, who will challenge WBC Heavyweight World Champion Bermane Stiverne on Saturday night, has built the fourth-longest kayo streak in boxing history. A kayo of Stiverne will tie him for third on the all-time list.

The leaders:

1. Lamar Clark (heavyweight) 44 1958-’60

2. Billy Fox (light heavyweight) 36 1943-’47

3. Bob Allotey (bantamweight) 33 1957-’64

4. DEONTAY WILDER (heavyweight) 32 2008-present

4. Wilfredo Gomez (jr. featherweight) 32 1974-’81

6. Jose M. Urtain (heavyweight) 30 1968-’70

7. Alfonso Zamora (bantamweight) 29 1973-’77

7. Acelino Freitas (jr. light/lightweight) 29 1995-’01

9. Carlos Zarate (bantamweight) 28 1974-’78