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- 11/03/19--21:28: _The Rock, President...
- 11/05/19--13:08: _Dahlberg: Fans get ...
- 11/10/19--15:09: _The only thing that...
- 11/24/19--08:31: _Deontay Wilder stop...
- 12/02/19--14:24: _Donald Cerrone, UFC...
- 12/04/19--08:51: _Anthony Joshua out ...
- 12/04/19--10:46: _Bernard Hopkins, Sh...
- 12/05/19--06:40: _New dawn for boxing...
- 12/07/19--10:45: _Anthony Joshua vs. ...
- 12/08/19--08:54: _“Simplicity is geni...
- 11/03/19--21:28: The Rock, President Trump watch Jorge Masvidal win big at UFC 244
- 11/05/19--13:08: Dahlberg: Fans get played as boxing takes back seat to UFC
- 11/24/19--08:31: Deontay Wilder stops Luis Ortiz in heavyweight boxing title rematch
NEW YORK — President Donald Trump was on his feet for the main event as Jorge Masvidal defeated a bloodied Nate Diaz via TKO before the fourth round at UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson wrapped a crudely named, made-for-PPV baddest man in MMA title belt around Masvidal’s waist as nearly 20,000 fans howled in protest of the quick finish. Masvidal dominated the first three rounds and opened cuts above Diaz’s eyes that turned his face into a crimson mask. The assigned doctor for the New York State Athletic Commission stopped the fight just before the fourth round. Both fighters felt the bout should continue.
“I was hyped, I was ready to go,” Diaz said. “I come in here to fight. It’s not my fault the doctor stopped it. We’ll run it back, though.”
Johnson walked out holding the $50,000 Baddest Mother (Censored!) championship belt to a thunderous ovation as his WWE theme music hit. Trump, who became the first president to attend a UFC card, clapped for Johnson and stayed on his feet for the furious early rounds.
Masvidal charged at Diaz once the initial bell rang before he pulled up and smiled, a nod to his UFC-record 5-second KO of Ben Askren in his last fight. Trump and his adult sons stood as Masvidal took quick control and pounded on Diaz. Diaz had a gash open over his right eye, his face bloodied as he lay on his back trying to kick away Diaz.
The partisan crowd took turns chanting “Diaz!” and “Jorge!” and The Rock sat stone-faced, nodding at the biggest haymakers. Diaz staked his claim as the BMF — if the B stood for bloodiest — when he flexed for the crowd to end the second as blood poured down his face.
The doc wouldn’t let the fight go into a fourth and the 170-pound bout was over, though a BMF rematch could be on the horizon.
“Let me heal up and let’s go again,” Diaz said.
The president appeared pleased with the card, staying for the entire 4-plus hour show.
The packed house at the Garden stood and had their phones out, craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the president as he took his cageside seat. Trump smiled and waved to fans as AC/DC’s “Back in Black” was blasted over the speakers shortly before the start of the 10 p.m. event. Trump received a mixed reaction, though nothing quite as derisive as the boos and “Lock him up!” chants he received last week at the World Series.
Trump hugged boxing legend Roberto Duran as they posed for a picture and sat in the same row as UFC President Dana White. Trump is tight with White, a relationship that dates to UFC’s formative years before its rise into a billion dollar promotion. New Jersey was one of the first states that embraced UFC, and White credits cards at the Trump Taj Mahal for helping the company grow into a heavyweight in the sports world. White spoke at Trump’s request at the Republican National Convention and they are occasional dining partners.
Trump wore a suit and red tie, and sat with sons Donald Jr. and Eric, several congressional Republicans and sports personalities just out of range of potential blood splatter.
Trump Jr. tweeted White told the family, “it was the most electrifying entrance he seen in 25 years of doing this.” The Trump brothers sat cageside in August in New Jersey in support of Trump fan Colby Covington.
Taking a break from an impeachment inquiry, Trump could only hope the first fight of the pay-per-view wasn’t a sign of things to come — a devastating KO from the left.
He rose from his seat like the rest of the fans when Kevin Lee knocked out Gregor Gillespie with a left leg kick to the head. Gillespie bounced off the cage and lay motionless, out cold on the mat for a minute or so. Trump didn’t react as he watched the replay and applauded just like a regular fight fan when Gillespie finally came around and got to his corner. He did not appear to sing along to Darren Till’s “Sweet Caroline” walkout music.
Derrick Lewis won his heavyweight bout and gave Trump a shoutout from inside the cage, saying “I know everything ain’t going so good in the White House. You gotta turn that … around in 2020.”
Protesters outside MSG chanted “Danger, danger, there’s a Fascist in the White House,” over a bullhorn and held signs that read “Trump/Pence Out Now!” Once the fights started, there were no noticeable signs or sustained calls of support or protest for Trump. The only jabs were delivered inside the fenced-in, 4-foot octagon came from the fighters. Lewis was the only winner who mentioned Trump, and the crowd of nearly 20,000 seemed largely uninterested in him.
The Rock and the president overshadowed a wildly entertaining card that had the Garden rocking in nearly every bout.
The former WWE champ is the biggest box office star in Hollywood, with his “Jumanji” follow up out later this year. Johnson also announced his Seven Bucks Productions company is working on a biopic on retired MMA star Mark Kerr. Kerr won consecutive UFC heavyweight tournaments in the company’s infancy and later battled serious addiction issues. Johnson is set to star as the fighter known as the “Smashing Machine.”
LAS VEGAS — The ring was empty, boxing’s biggest attraction was taking a nap and fans who paid more than $1,000 a ticket to see Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev face off for the light heavyweight title were instead watching a UFC fight from New York on the big screens at the MGM Grand Garden arena.
There was plenty of time for those watching at home on DAZN to take a nap themselves. The fight wouldn’t start until 1:15 a.m. on the East Coast because the streaming service didn’t want to go head-to-head with a UFC event — even with a fighter so popular that DAZN signed him to a $365 million contract that seemed to defy the logic of boxing economics.
What that means to the future of boxing can be debated, as can DAZN’s role in that future. The sport has taken its lumps over the years, though DAZN is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in a gamble to televise some of its biggest fights.
But there’s no debating that the bow-down to UFC was not only an affront to paying fans, but an embarrassment to the sport itself.
“I absolutely see it as a slap in the fact to boxing and it was self-inflicted in a way,” said Stephen Espinoza, who heads boxing at the Showtime network. “No one forced this decision on the promoters or the broadcaster in this case. They just made an incredibly bad decision to delay the fight.”
If the decision was bad, the optics were even worse. Here was the television platform with designs to take over boxing delaying one of its biggest fights of the year simply because it was afraid of competing with UFC.
That meant the unsuspecting fans at the MGM Grand sitting and watching an empty ring much of the night. It meant boxing fans at home having to stay up watching mostly filler material until the fight finally ended after 2 a.m.
It should have meant an apology from DAZN for both. But inconveniencing fans is the norm in sports these days, and boxing is no exception.
Joseph Markowski, DAZN executive vice president for North America, argued that the company made the right decision for the future of boxing — at least as it pertains to his company.
“Ultimately, we saw a surge in both subscription signups and audience from the end of the UFC fight to the beginning of our fight,” Markowski said. “The bottom line was that more people watched Canelo because of that. And that was a good result for us.”
That may be true, though without seeing any numbers it’s hard to say for sure. Imagine, though, if the NBA had decided to delay the start of the Lakers-Clippers game on opening night because it went against Game 1 of the World Series.
Again, it didn’t have to happen. And it cheapens the product when boxing is seen as subservient to UFC when, in fact, both sports have audiences of their own that don’t overlap nearly as much as it might seem at first glance.
“We’re seeing the visibility and stature of some of sports’ biggest events depressed,” said Espinoza, whose network is a rival of DAZN and has lost some big fights to the service. “And that’s bad for all of us.”
Markowski declined to say how many new subscriptions were sold or how many fans are subscribers to the service, which offers an attractive alternative for fans turned off by the high price of boxing pay-per-views. Since its inception a few years ago, DAZN has refused to give out numbers on how many fans spend either $20 a month or $100 a year for the fights.
But it’s no secret the company needs viewer revenue after handing out big contracts to fighters like Alvarez, Anthony Joshua and Gennadiy Golovkin.
Still, it’s hard to imagine people at home pulling out credit cards at 1 a.m. to sign up. That’s especially true if they were UFC fans who had just spent $80 on a largely unsatisfactory card topped by a fight that featured a made-up belt held aloft by The Rock like it was a WWE event instead.
The puzzling decision to delay the fight came after a week that DAZN was touting its place in boxing and its lineup of fights over the next few months.
It’s an impressive schedule that includes the heavyweight title rematch between Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr., though fight fans again will have to check their clocks. The fight will be held in Saudi Arabia on Dec. 7 and with the time difference, fans in the U.S. will have to watch in the afternoon — not a prime time for drawing viewers — and the fight will go off against college football conference championships.
It doesn’t make sense for a service looking for subscribers. And once again it cheapens what should have been a huge fight.
In the end it’s DAZN’s money and the company can do what it wants.
But that doesn’t make it right for the paying fans who are getting played along the way.
Logan Paul and KSI promoted their first professional boxing match as if the fate of the earth depended on the outcome – as if the fight between the two YouTube stars would leave only one survivor. Paul and KSI each have 20 million subscribers on their respective channels. This is the second time they’ve boxed each other. The first, an amateur match, ended in a tie.
On Saturday, Paul and KSI, a 26-year-old British YouTuber whose real name is Olajide Olatunji, fought at Staples Center in Los Angeles in front of thousands of fans, boxing enthusiasts and YouTube celebrities. Despite their lack of experience and comparative skill, the pair was the main event of a night that included undercard matches between actual boxers.
On DAZN, the subscription sports streaming service that exclusively broadcast the match online, the commentary set the scene: “Six rounds, who’s the king of social media, we’re about to find out.” Paul, who uses “Maverick” as his nickname (it’s the branding on his YouTube merchandise) wore red, white and blue. KSI (“The Nightmare”) was in red and black.
KSI won in a split decision from the judges. Paul is mad about a point deduction he believes cost him the match, and he made gestures contesting the results on Saturday night.
But none of this really matters. Instead, Logan Paul vs. KSI was about generating as many views as possible, and turning those views into a crossover payday for a cohort of people from the once separate worlds of boxing and YouTube. Paul and KSI may be, after months of intense training, OK-ish boxers. They’re much better at figuring out ways to turn anything into content.
The first time KSI and Paul boxed, in 2018, more than 800,000 people paid $10 each to watch a live stream of the YouTubers fight each other for a sold-out crowd in Manchester, England. While DAZN declined to give The Washington Post details on the number of viewers for Saturday’s fight in Los Angeles, Joseph Markowski, executive vice president of DAZN North America, said in an emailed statement that they considered the fight a “big success” for them.
“The KSI vs. Logan Paul event generated a significant boost in subscriptions, caught the attention of mainstream media and introduced the sport of boxing to a completely new audience,” Markowski said. “Those were our goals at the outset and we are very pleased with the results.” Monthly subscriptions for DAZN cost $20.
Paul’s talent is in monetizing your attention. He became famous on Vine years ago for short, goofy, physical humor skits. When Vine shut down, he and his little brother, Jake Paul, migrated to YouTube, where they positioned themselves and their fans as rival clans (the “Logang” and the “Jake Paulers”) whose supremacy would be determined by views. It worked. Their views and subscribers skyrocketed in a matter of months, and they built loyal fan bases of young, merch-buying tweens.
The 24-year-old, who likes to call himself a former YouTuber now, picked up boxing in the aftermath of the worst professional decision he made: filming a dead body in a Japanese forest at the beginning of 2018 and turning the footage into fodder for his daily vlog, which is primarily watched by children and tweens. Paul lost access to YouTube’s more lucrative premium ads as a result and became the most hated YouTuber on the platform for a time. But hate is still attention, and Paul took the attention and turned it into something new.
In a half-hour documentary Paul made about himself and released in the lead-up to the match, the Japanese forest vlog is seen through the lens of how it emotionally affected Paul. The forest becomes his wilderness, merely the setting for the beginning of a redemption story.
Paul is lured out of the wilderness by a challenge from KSI, his rival and savior, as the British YouTuber celebrates besting YouTuber Joe Weller in the ring. The challenge leads to their first fight: both Paul brothers, Jake and Logan, against KSI and his little brother Deji Olatunji. In the documentary, Paul seems to argue that the work he put into becoming a good boxer is the equivalent of the emotional and ethical work one would expect the person who filmed someone’s body for clicks would undertake.
Paul used to hype his rivalry with his little brother to generate views. But to recover from vlogging a dead body, Paul instead found himself selling a rivalry with KSI. As they prepared for their match – and rematch – the two insulted each other in videos on their channels and held news conferences to promote the fights that devolved into deeply personal insults. All of that tension, they promised, would show up in their fights. In an interview with Business Insider before the fight, Paul spoke like a man whose life depended on the outcome. “I’m eating 80 pounds a day. I’m drinking the blood of cows, and I’m pushing a lot of weights in the air and putting them down,” he said. Somehow, he sounded simultaneously like a boxer in a movie and a parody of one.
When it was over, and Paul’s attempt at redemption by boxing fell short, he changed his tone. He didn’t like being mean to his opponent for months on end, he told KSI after the fight. “It’s all for show, it’s all to sell it.”
Online content doesn’t have to be good to go viral. Paul has found a way of making his work unavoidable in YouTube culture. Saturday’s fight is an indicator of how those who have already perfected the art of grabbing attention on YouTube will attempt to break out of the confines of the platform: Although YouTube culture might feel like another world to those outside it, some of the same tricks YouTubers use to keep their audience’s attention work outside of that world.
KSI said he was done boxing Paul after the match in Los Angeles ended. But Paul didn’t have the redemption arc he needed to finish the story he tells about himself. “You can do MMA,” KSI told Paul. “You should fight CM Punk, that would be pretty funny for you.”
LAS VEGAS — One rematch down, one to go for Deontay Wilder.
Wilder landed a vicious right hand to stop Luis Ortiz in the seventh round Saturday night to retain his heavyweight title and set up a lucrative rematch with Tyson Fury in February.
Wilder’s punch came out of nowhere in a fight he had done little in up until that time. It landed flush on the face of Ortiz, who crumpled to the canvas and was unable to get up at the count of 10.
The sudden ending came after a lackluster first six rounds in which Wilder did little. But the devastating power that has gotten him knockouts in all but two of his fights came through again.
“I finally found my measurement and I took the shot,” Wilder said. “I had to play around with him. I had to calculate certain moves.”
The fight was a rematch of a bout last year when Wilder stopped Ortiz on the 10th round. It set up a Feb. 23 fight against Fury that has already been signed.
Wilder fought cautiously for the first six rounds, finding himself in the hole on the cards of the three ringside judges. Two gave him just one of the six, while a third gave him two rounds. The Associated Press had Ortiz pitching a shutout.
Wilder began to pick up the pace in the seventh round, then caught Ortiz with the right hand that brought the fight to an end at 2:51 of the round.
“My intellect is very high in the ring and no one gives me credit,” Wilder said. “I think I buzzed him with a left hook earlier in the round and I took it from there.”
Ortiz (31-2) didn’t protest the ending, but said he thought he beat the count.
“I was clear headed when I hit the canvas” he said. “When I heard the referee say seven I was trying to get up but I guess the count went a little quicker than I thought.”
Wilder (42-0-1, 41 knockouts) displayed the massive power that has made him a force in the heavyweight division, but won no style points in winning the fight. He did little until the big punch that ended the fight, wary of the power that Ortiz showed when he hurt him in their first fight in March 2018.
Wilder made at least $3 million for the fight, but figures to make much more when he and Fury meet in a rematch of their fight a year ago that ended in a disputed draw. His win helped clarify the top of the heavyweight division, though, which will be sorted out further when Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. meet Dec. 7 in their title rematch in Saudi Arabia.
“Next we have Tyson Fury in the rematch,” Wilder said. “Then I want unification. I want one champion, one face and one heavyweight champion — Deontay Wilder.”
Wilder said before the fight that he would end it with a knockout, and he was a 4-1 favorite going in. Oddsmakers had made the over/under for the fight at seven full rounds, and Wilder’s right hand made winners of the under with just nine seconds to spare.
The 40-year-old Ortiz, who left Cuba to pursue a pro career, seemed to baffle Wilder with his southpaw style. He was also able to get off combinations quickly when Wilder punched first.
“Ortiz is one of the best in the world,” Wilder said. “You have to give him that.”
Donald Cerrone posted a booze-fueled photo to hype his anticipated fight against Conor McGregor: A bottle of Cerrone’s preferred cheap American-style beer vs. the Irish fighter’s own whiskey.
Cerrone has eschewed McGregor’s Proper No. Twelve whiskey, but the winningest fighter in UFC history finally takes his shot at the hard liquor’s founder in a January fight at least five years in the making. UFC fans have buzzed for years about the potential brouhaha between McGregor, the biggest star in the sport, and the hard-living fighter better known as “Cowboy.” Once the fight was announced last week, the prospect of some four-letter-word trash talking between two of the biggest mouths in the sport was dimmed — at least for now — when McGregor went on social media and wished Cerrone’s family a happy holiday. McGregor’s friendly acknowledgment came with a steely caveat, ” See you in 20/20 with bullseye vision.”
“This is the fight that everyone wants to see,” Cerrone said. “I don’t even know why we have to have a media tour. This fight is going to sell itself. He’s done a great job of promoting himself and becoming Conor McGregor.”
The 170-pound bout is set to headline UFC 246 on Jan. 18 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. McGregor will fight inside the octagon for only the second time in 38 months and the first time since he was choked out by Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018. Cerrone will continue to add to his legacy as MMA’s busiest fighter — he fought four times in 2019 (2-2) and holds the UFC career record for wins (23) and most finishes (16) in company history.
Cerrone doesn’t necessarily believe his grind-it-out schedule holds an advantage over McGregor’s elongated rest period.
“I don’t know if I believe in all that ring rust stuff,” Cerrone said. “I don’t know if that’s an actual thing. He’s very talented, won two world titles, went in there with Floyd Mayweather. I don’t think a year or a couple of years off is going to matter. Who the (heck) knows? I’m coming in full guns a blazing, man. My camp’s excited about this fight.”
His cowboy hat always on, Cerrone has grown into one of the more popular fighters in UFC with his fight anyone, any time style and who always seems up for a good time. The 36-year-old Cerrone (a +190 underdog) has done it all, except win a UFC championship. His method of cramming as many fights as he can into the shortest window has perhaps at times prevented the patience necessary needed to wait for a major title shot. Cerrone’s losses this year were to Tony Ferguson (on a 12-fight winning streak and set to fight Nurmagomedov) and Justin Gaethje (three straight wins and a regular fight of the night winner).
“I’m like my own worst enemy, for sure,” Cerrone said. “My coaches say all the time, don’t take that fight. I definitely could have had better opportunities if I was sitting and waiting. But I love it. I love chasing this crazy feeling.”
He waited out McGregor for what is expected to be the richest payday of his career. The seeds were planted when Cerrone first called out McGregor when they shared the UFC Fight Night card in January 2015. They shared a dais in 2015 to promote upcoming UFC cards and promptly took aim at each other. Cerrone continued through the years to pressure McGregor to kickstart his comeback and fight him.
“This fight was going to happen three or four times,” Cerrone said. “Everyone would get their hopes up and then it wouldn’t go through. It was like, yeah, right, it’s not going to happen. Then the contract came sliding across, and I was like, oh (wow), here it is.”
Cerrone is ready for a “fun as hell” fight night in a matchup that might have been more enticing two or three years ago. The fight has already seemingly become more about how McGregor will look in his return than what a win would mean for Cerrone’s career. But while McGregor has been caught up in a string of legal woes during his time off, Cerrone has remained in about an endless cycle of training.
“My wrestling is far superior,” Cerrone said Monday by phone on his way to a swim workout outside his training camp home of Albuquerque, New Mexico. “My pace, my cardio, I plan on really putting on the pressure.”
Cerrone signed a new mutli-fight deal as part of the McGregor bout and has no plans to slow down, no matter the outcome. He’s dabbled in acting and says he wants to put his UFC records far out of reach for the next generation of stars.
He trains at the BMF Ranch, part of another nickname that’s made him one of the more respected fighters inside the cage.
Up next, the fight of a lifetime.
“What I want to do is get all of America to back me like Ireland does him,” Cerrone said, laughing. “That’s what I want. If there’s a guy for America to stand behind, it’s the blue-collar, beer-drinking Cowboy. I think I’m the man.”
Anthony Joshua didn’t just lose three world heavyweight titles and an undefeated record when he was beaten by Andy Ruiz Jr. in one of boxing’s biggest upsets in a generation.
He lost his aura, his growing sense of invincibility.
So Joshua has had to reinvent himself, strip everything back and, in a sense, start all over.
That began by going back to his roots in Nigeria.
“Because of boxing, I’ve never had time to go there,” Joshua told The Associated Press of his first return in 17 years to the homeland of his parents and where he briefly went to boarding school at the age of 11. “In Nigeria, the people love you for you, not for what you have.”
At the lowest point of his professional career and with people starting to question him for the first time, Joshua needed time to reflect and to have a dose of reality. He visited Makoko, a slum just off mainland Lagos that is largely a floating community of wooden homes on swampland.
Joshua is adored there, and they mobbed their icon.
“It was good to see hope,” Joshua recalled. “Anyone that can bring hope to you, they appreciate it and they appreciate my journey so far. That’s what I liked. We’re on a journey.”
Joshua’s journey took an unexpected detour with that loss to Ruiz Jr. in June. But it may well be the making of him.
The Briton heads into the rematch in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday as something of a changed man. More humble, more accepting of vicissitudes of his sport, and eager to learn from his mistakes.
Joshua accepts there were plenty of them before the first fight in Madison Square Garden. He still won’t say exactly what went wrong that night in New York, but he acknowledges he “wasn’t prepared” for the challenge of Ruiz Jr. — a portly Mexican with a big heart, fast hands and unexpected power. Ruiz Jr., who stood in as a late replacement after Jarrell Miller failed multiple doping tests, knocked down Joshua four times before the fight was stopped in the seventh round, the defeated champion somewhat dazed and disheveled.
Joshua has ignored some calls to dispense with his long-time trainer, Rob McCracken — the pair go way back, to before Joshua won an Olympic gold medal at the 2012 London Games — but has changed his sparring partners, his routines, and his mentality.
“Last time when I lost, I understood why,” Joshua told the AP in a phone interview after arriving in Riyadh. “I took it like a man, I’d say. I took it like a champion should. Because I understood my mistakes. And I’ve changed them, I’ve rectified them.
“If anything wasn’t to go my way this time, I just have to say the man is better than me. He is a tricky customer but I think I’m a better fighter than him, even though I didn’t get the decision last time. I went straight back in. I didn’t say, ‘Ah, I need a warm-up fight.’ I knew where I went wrong. I know how to improve it, and I’ve done that.”
Time will tell, but there’s a sense Joshua is more comfortable in Saudi Arabia than he was in the bright lights of New York five months ago, when he was making his U.S. debut and, maybe, took his eye off the ball.
While retaining that chiseled physique that could not contrast more with Ruiz Jr.’s, Joshua looked slimmer and lighter during his public workouts in Riyadh this week.
And because he is having to prove himself all over again, Joshua said he compares this fight with the first of the 23 in his pro career.
“I have erased the old fight from my memory and I’m approaching it like I’m fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world, which I am. I’m not looking at it as a rematch,” Joshua said.
“Even though I’ve had a belt around my waist, I’ve always had that challenger mindset because even in my 15th fight, I challenged for the British title. The 16th (was for the) world title, defend, defend, challenge again, so it’s part and parcel of the game now. I’m used to the tough challenges.”
Another loss to Ruiz Jr. — in a fight with a reported $70 million purse and being televised by the DAZN streaming service — and there would be serious questions about Joshua, one of Britain’s most celebrated sportsmen and someone whose career trajectory was only heading one way until last summer. Fights with the likes of Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury would be further away then ever.
But he’s not thinking that way. He’s embracing taking boxing to a new audience, shrugging off the fact that the fight will take place in a kingdom where there are human-rights concerns, and is desperate to regain his IBF, WBA and WBO belts.
“Of course people doubt me,” Joshua said. “But the main thing is I’m still here. I’m not discouraged. That’s all I can say.”
CANASTOTA, N.Y. — Middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins, four-division champion Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico, three-division champ Shane Mosley and women’s star Christy Martin have been elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
This was the first year that women were on the ballot and Barbara Buttrick of England and Lucia Rijker of the Netherlands joined Martin in making history as the first female boxers elected. Buttrick was elected in the Trailblazers category, while Martin and Rijker were elected in the Modern category.
Also elected by members of the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians were promoters Lou DiBella and Kathy Duva in the Non-Participant category and journalists Bernard Fernandez and Thomas Hauser in the Observer category.
Posthumous honorees include lightweight champion Frank Erne in the Old Timer category, Paddy Ryan in the Pioneer category and promoter Dan Goossen in the Non-Participant category.
Nicknamed “The Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Martin, a native of West Virginia, began boxing on a dare in 1986 while still in college, entering and winning a “tough woman” contest. Although she graduated with honors from Concord College, Martin elected to pursue the sweet science and turned pro in 1989 while working as a substitute teacher in Tennessee.
Martin brought women’s boxing to the mainstream in the mid-1990s, becoming the first woman to sign a promotional contract with promoter Don King and landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated. She won the WBC super welterweight championship in 2009 and compiled a 49-7-3 record with 31 KOs in her career.
“I just wanted to be a fighter and fit into the world of boxing and this is a dream come true,” Martin said. “I’m always excited to come back to Canastota, but to come back this year will be very special.”
Hopkins holds the record for the most successful title defenses in middleweight boxing history at 20. He’ll join former middleweight champions Carlos Monzon, who successfully defended 14 times, and Marvelous Marvin Hagler, who defended 12 times, as a Hall of Famer on induction Sunday next June 14.
“I’m glad I’m entering the house of greatness past and present,” Hopkins said. “Thanks to boxing, I became a greater inspiration to the world.”
Mosley, known for his quick hand speed, beat Oscar De La Hoya twice during a pro career that produced a record of 49-10-1 with 41 KOs.
“I’m so happy and honored,” Mosley said. “I’ve worked my whole life for this. Even when I started as a kid at 8 years old I knew this is what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be. I have accomplished my goals to be one of the greats and go into the Hall of Fame, so this is a great honor.”
Buttrick, who began boxing in her native England, came to United States in the 1950s to box legally and won a world championship while breaking down barriers.
“This is wonderful news. It means a lot to me,” Buttrick said. “After I started out with everybody against me back in the 1940s, it is nice to be recognized.”
Rijker, the first licensed female boxer in her home country, was nicknamed “The Dutch Destroyer” and certainly lived up to the moniker. She made her pro debut in 1996, signed a promotional contract with Bob Arum’s Top Rank and won all 17 of her professional fights with 14 knockouts.
For Rijker, selection was an emotional moment.
“This is very moving,” she said. “As I entered normal life after boxing there is a memory of boxing that is in my heart and soul. There is really a strong connection I have to that era and I am really honored to be reminded of that time because sometimes there is a time in your life where everything comes together — mind, body and spirit — and definitely my boxing career aligned all three of them to be the best I could be on all levels. I’m very grateful for that and grateful to be recognized.”
The thick, sparkling ring on his right hand and the diamond-studded watch around his left wrist were indications of just how much life has changed for Andy Ruiz Jr. since he became world heavyweight champion.
It was another part of his attire that really stood out, however, when the portly Mexican came face to face with Anthony Joshua for one of the last times before their title rematch in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
For the final news conference ahead of the fight, Ruiz chose to wear a New York Knicks jersey — yet another reminder to Joshua of that fateful night at Madison Square Garden in June when he lost his three heavyweight belts in one of boxing’s biggest shocks in years.
“That’s where I got the first victory on June 1 and that’s why I brought it,” Ruiz said, referring to his jersey. “I wore it to remind myself, ‘I’m the champ.’”
And Ruiz has really made the most of his new status over the last five months. One of his first acts was to buy a car for his mother, Felicitas, and he also showed off his lavish new home in California, replete with its fountain and pool, on his social media accounts. He had an audience with Mexico’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and threw the ceremonial first pitch at a Los Angeles Dodgers game.
Basically doing things he could never have imagined when he used to mix cement for his father, Andres, as a youngster and, as recently as 2017, went a whole year without even fighting following a loss to Joseph Parker in his only previous world title bout. He was disregarded as a potential champion then, mocked for his flabby frame even though his fast hands and skills pointed to a boxer with talent.
Ruiz is at pains to point out, though, that he is simply enjoying his life and not taking his eye off the ball — something Joshua says he did before the first fight.
“There’s no way I’m going to let these belts go,” Ruiz said, looking at the WBO, WBA and IBF straps in front of him. “I’m going to die trying. It’s been a roller coaster but now I’ve finally made it all this way, there’s no way I’m going to let them go.”
Ruiz knows he will be up against a different Joshua this time around. A more focused and determined Joshua, who knows he is suddenly fighting to rescue his career after being knocked down four times before the seventh-round stoppage in New York.
The first ever heavyweight title fight in the Middle East, somewhat controversially arranged amid concerns over Saudi Arabia’s human-rights record, has been called the “Clash on the Dunes.” As for Joshua, he’s labeling it “Back to 16” — a reference to his 16th professional fight when he became world champion for the first time.
He says he is likely to weigh in on Friday at about 238 pounds (108 kilograms), which would be the lightest he has fought since 2014, and has been concentrating on sparring and the “sweet science of the sport” instead of bulking up and doing weights.
He has even grown his hair into an Afro, as if he was boxing “in the ‘70s.”
“I’m punching like a horse kicking back right now … loose and heavy, rhythm and flow,” said Joshua, adding that he “didn’t lose heart or any fire in my belly” after getting beaten by Ruiz for the first loss of his professional career.
“There’s no fear in my heart, no fear in my mind,” he said. “I was asked if this would be a special moment (to regain his belts). I said, ‘No.’ I know I belong there. It’s not special. When I regain those belts, I’m probably just going to keep cool and stay focused. It’s not a time to celebrate.”
The fight will take place in the Diriyah Arena, a purpose-built venue with a capacity of 15,000 spectators that has been built in six weeks and will be taken down within two days of the bout.
No stranger to hyperbole, Joshua’s ambitious promoter, Eddie Hearn, is comparing the occasion to the “Rumble in the Jungle” and the “Thrilla in Manila” — two famous heavyweight fights from the 1970s which were held in unlikely global locations. And he is calling it a “new dawn for the sport of boxing,” predicting many more high-profile fights in this part of the world. With Joshua earning as much as a reported $70 million and Ruiz reportedly $10 million, the attraction for fighters is obvious.
Joshua isn’t sure what type of atmosphere he’ll be fighting in, although it is unlikely to be anything like the raucous occasions he is used to in Britain. Not that he cares, given the precarious situation his career is in.
“I’m not here to put on a show,” Joshua said, sounding all business. “I’m here to win.”
Ruiz, reveling in his status as the first fighter of Mexican descent to win a heavyweight title, has no intention of letting that happen.
“I know AJ’s going to come with a different game plan, I know he is prepared and motivated,” he said. “That’s what gives me the motivation, the edge to be more cautious. I know he lost weight, is going to try to box me around. It’s my job to prevent that. I’m ready for whatever comes my way.”
Live updates, tweets, photos, analysis and more from the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. heavyweight boxing match in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia on Dec. 7, 2019.
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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Anthony Joshua jumped up and down in the ring with his massive entourage, celebrating being around $70 million richer and having three world heavyweight belts back in his possession.
For the British boxing superstar, it was well worth this controversial trip to Saudi Arabia.
In the first heavyweight title fight to be held in the Middle East, Joshua toyed with an out-of-shape Andy Ruiz Jr. over 12 unspectacular rounds to win a unanimous points decision, reclaim the WBA, WBO and IBF belts, and avenge a stunning upset by his Mexican-American opponent six months ago.
Joshua got his game plan spot on, using his lighter frame to outmaneuver Ruiz, relying on his longer reach to stay clear of trouble, and selecting his moments to go on the attack.
In the final seconds of a bout fought in the early hours of Sunday in a relatively cool 19 Celsius (66 F) for this part of the world, Joshua was almost running around the ring and Ruiz — exhausted and outfought — was planted in the middle, urging him to come closer.
“Sometimes simplicity is genius. I was outclassing the champion,” Joshua said.
“I am used to knocking people out, but last time I got hurt so I gave the man his credit. I said I would correct myself again.”
Two judges gave the fight to the Briton 119-110, and the other awarded it to him 119-109.
Ruiz put on 15 pounds since the first fight to weigh in at 283 pounds (128 kilograms), making him the second heaviest boxer to fight for a world heavyweight title. He said he hadn’t prepared hard enough for the rematch and got “boxed around.”
“The partying got the best of me,” Ruiz said of his brief time as champion, during which he also went on talk shows, had an audience with the Mexican president and bought new cars for himself and his parents.
“I didn’t prepare how I should have. I gained too much weight. I don’t want to give excuses, he won … If we do a third fight, you best believe I’m going to get in shape. I’ll be in the best shape of my life.”
Whether Joshua agrees to that remains to be seen. There is no rematch clause this time round and Ruiz, short with quick hands, is an awkward opponent.
Joshua proved he had another side to his boxing skills other than a big punch. His career is back on track, for sure, but his reputation might be sullied for other reasons.
The fight was played out to a backdrop of concerns that Saudi Arabia was using this and other big sporting events to divert attention from its human-rights violations. They include the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Joshua has shrugged off concerns that he was being used in what some, like human rights organization Amnesty International, called a “sportswashing” exercise, and he thanked Saudi Arabia for hosting the fight afterward.
Women who attended the fight at the outdoor, purpose-built, 15,000-capacity Diriyah Arena did not appear to be segregated, as they have been in sports stadiums in Saudi Arabia since being allowed into them for the first time last year.
Indeed, it felt just like any other venue once the action got underway, with a pro-Joshua crowd chanting the usual repertoire of songs about their fighter and jeering Ruiz. To make Joshua feel even more at home, there was a rare downpour of rain in the desert just before the fight and at times during the afternoon.
Ruiz knocked down Joshua four times on the way to a seventh-round win in New York in June that was regarded as one of the biggest upsets in the history of heavyweight boxing.
There was none of that drama in the rematch, with Ruiz rarely connecting cleanly with Joshua. When he did, it was with punches to the back of the head that earned him a ticking-off from the referee.
Ruiz finished the fight with blood across his face, having been caught with a right hook by Joshua in the first round.
There were straight lefts from Joshua in the fourth and ninth that rocked Ruiz back, and a right hook in the fifth that also hurt the deposed champion.
“I just wanted to put on a great boxing masterclass and also show the sweet science of this lovely sport. It’s about hitting and not getting hit,” Joshua said.
“Sometimes with certain fighters you have to box smarter. I understand what Andy brought to the table so I had to decapitate him in a different way.”