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The Greatest Prize in Sports 
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kenyan_cheena

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Post Re: The Greatest Prize in Sports
ESPN

Boxing


Updated: June 14, 2008 1.45 PM ET

Villaflor upsets Hernandez...
...and the apple cart


By Larry Holman
ESPN.com
Archive

Filipino lightweight Ben Villaflor stretched his perfect run of victories under the IBL banner to eleven earlier today in Manila, scoring an upset unanimous decision win over Mexico's former IBF junior-lightweight champion Hector Hernandez. Villaflor was making his first defense of the IBL championship he claimed back in January with a split decision win over Hernandez's compatriot Rafael Limon. Most of the experts believed that the more experienced and supposedly more talented Hernandez would dethrone him and set up a Mexican superfight between himself and Patricio Marquez, who is currently regarded as the official world lightweight champion. But someone forgot to tell Villaflor, or at least give him a copy of the script. In the most outstanding performance of his career, the 22 year-old floored Hernandez three times on the way to a comfortable decision win: 148-134, 144-138, 145-137.

Inspired by the hometown crowd, Villaflor dropped Hernandez with a jolting uppercut midway through the opening round, sending an ecstatic roar around Rizal Coliseum. He also sent Hernandez to the canvas with a body shot at the end of the 7th and a left hook late in round eight. Villaflor dominated for long stretches of the fight while Hernandez's only shining moments came in the 2nd and 10th stanzas. When it was all over, Villaflor had landed a fantastic 517 of 1,102 punches (46.9%), which according to the IBL statistics page on their website ranks 2nd behind welterweight champion Emile Griffith (522, vs Enrique Diaz in January) for the most punches landed in an IBL bout. Hernandez connected with 255 of 1,540 punches (16.6%), those numbers indicating the mastery of Villaflor's defense. Even so, both men's faces were showing swelling at the contest's conclusion, although Hernandez's was noticeably more severe.

The loss was just the second of Hernandez's career and came almost two years to the day since his first, a similarly unexpected defeat to Japan's Hiroshi Kobayashi in his IBL debut of June '06. In between the two losses he ran off a six-fight winning streak, with former IBL champion Enrique Bolanos, Japan's Teruki Nakata and London-based Ugandan Cornelius Boza-Edwards amongst his victims. Hernandez is now 34-2-2(24). Meanwhile, Villaflor (24-1(11)) remains one of just two fighters who were amongst the original 504 that took part in the league's initial tournaments back in 2006 and is still competing with them to have a perfect record in IBL bouts. The other is current world light-heavyweight champion Celestine Amakochi, who is 8-0 under the IBL banner. Villaflor's 11-0 run includes a stint as the inaugural Inter-Continental lightweight champion, a reign he rode all the way to January's world title shot.

Amakochi's perfect run might be the more impressive one, as the last four of his eight wins have been in world title fights, although Villaflor is, and will always remain, the only fighter to have won a regional IBL title and then a world title without losing a bout. He has now set himself up for the biggest fight of his career, a clash with Patricio Marquez on November 21 where he will not only be defending the IBL belt, but also attempting to capture the status of official world lightweight champion, a status that Marquez will be defending. It is a unique situation in the sport, akin to a unification bout where both fighters have something to lose while attempting to gain what their opponent has. Marquez is the one who actually has more on the line in this instance, but the important thing that the fight will achieve is to complete the goal of every single IBL champion in the nine weight classes contested in the league being the official world champion of the division also.

Larry Holman is ESPN.com's boxing writer.


Thu Nov 27, 2014 9:44 pm
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kenyan_cheena

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Post Re: The Greatest Prize in Sports
TheSweetScience.com

SATURDAY 21 JUNE 2008

Lenny Blaylock's live blog from the
Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey
*** IBL World Welterweight Championship bout ***


Blog commencement time: 21 June 2008, 8.30pm ET

Good evening, boxing fans! Welcome to all of you, from whichever corner of the world you're joining us, for our live blog of tonight's world welterweight championship showdown between Emile Griffith and James Ray. TheSweetScience.com is proud to be presenting this blog to you as part of our continuing coverage of the biggest fights in boxing, and tonight's could very well be one of the best of 2008. In his second reign as IBL world champion, Emile Griffith of the US Virgin Islands will make his first title defense against James Ray of St. Johns County, Florida. The title bid is the culmination of two years of near faultless performances for Ray, as the only loss he has suffered in IBL competition and his entire pro career was a controversial one against Japan's Shoji Ohashi in July '06 in the quarter-finals of the league's Challenger's tournament. Ray held a healthy points lead when the bout was stopped midway through the 8th and final round due to a cut on his right eyebrow.

Ohashi went on to win the Challenger's tournament but lost in his challenge to inaugural IBL champion Griffith in March '07. In the meantime, Ray ran off a streak of four wins to set up a rematch with Ohashi, which took place in August '07, and which the Florida native won by a convincing unanimous decision verdict to gain revenge and clinch a place in January's eliminator against Nigeria's Ademola Udeze. Ray was even more outstanding in that contest, where he also triumphed by a clear-cut unanimous decision. The 24 year-old Athens silver medallist brings a 19-1(11) record into tonight's stoush, which is easily the biggest moment of his young professional career to date. As a member of the "Florida Alliance" under the tutelage of Pensacola trainer Roy Jones, Ray also has a chance to become the second member of the stable to claim a world title, following on from former world heavyweight champion Terone Haynes.

Emile Griffith has been the standout welterweight under the IBL's banner. He became the league's first 147-pound world champion when the inaugural title fight in December '06 between himself and Mexico's Enrique Diaz ended in a 10th round disqualification. Diaz was leading the bout at the time, but a trio of rabbit punching violations proved to be his eventual downfall. After retaining the title against Ohashi in his first defense, Griffith showed what an outstanding talent he is when he recorded a unanimous decision victory over the IBL's then-middleweight world champion Koichi Wajima in a May '07 "superfight" which, although staged to benefit various charities, was one of the fights of the year. After a slow start, Griffith staged a remarkable rally in the bottom half of the bout to win by a narrow verdict. The win solidified Griffith's status as one of the top pound-for-pounders, not just in the IBL, but also in the entire sport.

The following August, Griffith was back to defending his world title in a rematch with Diaz. In another controversial outcome, it was Griffith who lost by disqualification on this occasion, one minute into the 15th and final round of an evenly-fought contest. Going into the last stanza, two judges had the defending champion leading by a single point while the other had it all even. With both men holding a DQ victory against each other, a rubber match was a no-brainer and it took place on January 26. On this occasion, Griffith traveled to Mexico and produced the performance of his career to take a comfortable unanimous decision win and regain the world championship. Each judge scored the bout identically, 147-138, giving Diaz just three of the fifteen rounds. The victory appears to have closed the book on the Griffith versus Diaz saga for now, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they meet again down the track.

And so this long-awaited clash, which could have easily eventuated fifteen months ago if not for a cut on Ray's eyebrow, has finally arrived. Griffith (33-2-1(23)) turned 31 in February and is in his prime, but could just find in his younger challenger one of the sternest tests of his career to date. Speaking earlier this week, he said he wouldn't have it any other way. Griffith praised Ray's efforts in rebounding from the early loss to Ohashi to run off a streak of six victories to earn his title shot. The truth of the matter is that if Ray had stumbled in any one of those six bouts, he would not be challenging for the title tonight. He clinched this matchup under the old IBL scheduling format, before the commencement of competition in the World Championship Conference, and that makes it an all the more impressive accomplishment.

As fight fans would be aware, Griffith versus Ray is not the only WCC contest on tonight's card. A quartet of Development League bouts kicked off the event during the afternoon, and a pair of high-quality WCC preliminaries were scheduled to follow, starting with the featherweight clash between 3rd-ranked Mexican Vicente Saldivar and Puerto Rico's Jose Molina, who is ranked at #5 in the division. There was also an intriguing middleweight stoush which concluded just before our blog kicked off, with New Jersey's Mickey Walker (ranked #2) stepping between the ropes against 7th-ranked former WBC welterweight titlist Jose Napoles, the Cuban-born, Miami-based slugger. Both bouts were entertaining in their own way and we've got about fifteen minutes to go until our main-eventers make their way into the arena, so I'll take that time to give you all a review of those earlier fights.

(to be continued)


Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:06 pm
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kenyan_cheena

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Post Re: The Greatest Prize in Sports
(continuation)

Coming off his January knockout loss to his arch rival and recently crowned world featherweight champion Salvador Sanchez, Vicente Saldivar was taking a big risk when he not only agreed to, but pursued a clash with multiple alphabet titlist Jose Molina, who defeated Japan's Nobuhiro Yokoyama in his February IBL debut. As it turned out, Molina was way too classy for Saldivar to handle, and the Puerto Rican was victorious by unanimous decision (117-111, 118-110, 117-111). while there were no knockdowns, Molina established his dominance early, sweeping the first five rounds on all three scorecards behind a piston-like left jab that continually frustrated the Athens gold medallist. Molina also cut Saldivar under the left eye with a booming straight right midway through the 5th, and while the wound never became serious, it simply added to Saldivar's beaten and bruised appearance at the fight's conclusion.

Saldivar has never been known for his defensive prowess, and Molina was able to tag him with alarming regularity, landing almost 65% of the punches he threw (315/489). By contrast, the Mexican was constantly thwarted in his attempts to strike a decisive blow, connecting with just 163 of 1,019 punches (16%). I do feel a deal of sympathy for Saldivar, because he was already in a difficult situation after the January loss to Sanchez, the second defeat his rival has inflicted upon him in the pro ranks. Saldivar's motivation for taking on Molina would have been the belief that Sanchez would dethrone Miguel Bautista when they clashed on June 7, which is exactly what happened. Saldivar (21-3(18)) knew he needed a big, big win over a top contender to not only retain his ranking, but convince the IBL that he was worthy of a third clash with Sanchez. All of that is out the window now and Molina (33-2-1(22)) will find himself ranked no lower than #3 come August 17 and the release of the updated WCC rankings.

I can say this with certainty because 4th-ranked Argentinian Sergio Palma takes on English #12 Charlie Beniston on the 19th of July, and nothing Palma does in that fight, against a much-lower ranked opponent to boot, is going to exceed Molina's efforts from earlier tonight. Molina's win also puts added pressure on former world champion Gilberto Vasquez, who fights Italy's Loris Stecca (ranked #8) on July 26. It's true to say that Molina could not have hoped for a better start to his IBL campaign, although we'll have to wait and see if it's enough to earn him a world title shot in stage three. Sanchez's camp appears to be leaning towards a Bautista rematch, which could almost be considered the "safer" option when compared to the alternatives of Vasquez, Molina and Palma. Sanchez is eager to see his hopes for a "superfight" with world lightweight champion Patricio Marquez become a reality, but they'll both have to be reigning champions going into the new year to be sure of that.

Like Saldivar, middleweight Mickey Walker was making his return to the ring after a stoppage loss in an eliminator at the start the year. Walker was TKO'd by Uganda's John Mugabi in five rounds, his second loss in three fights after being blitzed by Koichi Wajima in a March '07 world title challenge. With that in mind, the choice of the battle-hardened Jose Napoles as his opponent for tonight was probably not the wisest one. Napoles started his WCC campaign with a split decision win over Florida's Holman Williams, moving up one place in the rankings as a result. Against Walker, he started slow, rallied in the middle rounds and scored a big knockdown in the 11th to secure a majority decision win (115-112, 113-113, 114-112). Walker had seemingly arrested Napoles's momentum when he dropped him with a paralyzing body blow late in round nine, but Napoles somehow overcame it, made it to his feet at five, and ended the fight as the stronger combatant.

Napoles landed 323 of 798 punches (40.5%), Walker 221 of 927 (23.8%). Napoles improved his record to 31-2(25) while Walker fell to 16-3(12). While this loss was not as comprehensive as the ones against Wajima and Mugabi, the reality is that Walker is going to take a hit in the rankings, as Napoles will move above him, which probably means Walker will drop from #2 to perhaps #5 or #6, and Napoles will rise from #7 to, say, #4. Of course, other results from stage two are yet to rear their heads, so we really need to wait on those to be sure of how the rankings will look. Regardless, the momentum that Walker had following his December '06 KO of Rubin Carter in the Challenger's tournament final has now come to a dead stop. Three losses in four fights in the eighteen months since then is an alarming form line, and his trainer Jimmy Floyd needs to both go back to the drawing board and, to be perfectly blunt, select a "softer" opponent for him to end the year.

While Walker is going backwards, it can't be said with absolute certainty that Napoles has "set the world on fire" in his IBL tenure. A pair of tight victories against admittedly talented opposition is not quite as impressive as most observers were expecting from him, but I'm sure he won't be too concerned. The situation in the middleweight division as far as the title is concerned will become a bit clearer after next Saturday, when Les Darcy defends the title against John Mugabi in Sydney. But even if Darcy wins, he'll have to wait until the very end of stage two to find out who his final defense will be against. That's when former champion Koichi Wajima fights Montell Jackson, and a win there will secure the Japanese dynamo a title challenge in accordance with a promise made to him by IBL officials earlier this year. Darcy has already confirmed that he'll be moving to the 175-pound division in '09.

(to be continued)


Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:08 pm
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kenyan_cheena

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Post Re: The Greatest Prize in Sports
(continuation)

Okay, we've just been told that there's some kind of delay with either Ray or Griffith, not sure of the specifics. It's now 9pm, which was the advertised start time for tonight's main event. This is as good a time as any for me to go over the schedule for stage two of the WCC. Fight fans who have been following the situation would know that the IBL confirmed on Thursday that the schedule is now complete. The league released an updated schedule back on the 4th of June, and there were still thirty fighters at that time who had not arranged a stage two bout. Unsurprisingly, most of the fifteen fights are taking place in August, with a few in late July. There's a number of interesting matchups amongst them, such as the middleweight clash between former alphabet champions Mike McCallum and Freddie Steele and the Bowe-Ibeabuchi heavyweight stoush. In Jim Driscoll's case, he had no choice but to agree to fight Brian Mitchell, as there was no one else available.

Mexico's former two-time flyweight champion Candido Tellez has indicated that he intends to move up to bantamweight in '09, and so in order to retain his #6 flyweight ranking he's scheduled a clash with compatriot Adrian Hernandez. It's going to be the third meeting between the two following a 2004 WBO title fight that Tellez won and a September '06 IBL World Championship tournament semi-final bout, which ended as a draw. Hernandez will be looking at it as a chance to not only square the ledger, but also play havoc with Tellez's plans for 2009. A loss to Hernandez could see Tellez drop into the flyweight relegation zone, and if he's still there at the end of the 2008 season he won't be competing in the bantamweight WCC next year. So a fight that might not have been so interesting in other circumstances now has a lot riding on it.

Former light-heavyweight champion Harold Johnson is in a similar predicament to Tellez. He has stated that moving to the 200-pound division next year is something he's considered, but to do that he needs to stay out of the relegation zone. He's currently right on the edge at #9, and he'll be fighting 15th-ranked Argentinian Miguel Angel Cuello in August. It is a dangerous bout for Johnson, who is on a three-fight losing streak, as Cuello will see it as a big opportunity to make a move in the rankings and keep his hopes alive of staying in the WCC for '09. Elsewhere, welterweight contender Shoji Ohashi will be looking to build on his March win against Eric Bengtson when he steps in the ring against Meldrick Taylor. Of the five opponents Ohashi could choose from, Taylor is the most experienced and accomplished, if not the highest ranked. The Japanese fighter is hoping to arrange a clash with one of his fellow contenders to end the year.

With so many of the stage two fights scheduled to take place in August, there's bound to be a flow-on effect in stage three where a number of bouts will be scheduled for November. However, the situation should right itself with the bouts more evenly dispersed in stage one of 2009, following the ten week offseason. The lights have just dimmed in the arena, and HBO's pre-main event presentation has commenced on the big screen positioned on the Hall's stage, meaning the arrival of our combatants is only minutes away. I swear, I get goosebumps on my arms at this time of the evening, when the big fight has arrived. There's nothing like it in all of sports. The crowd goes crazy as the presentation comes to an end and the lights come back up for a few seconds. Here we go, folks! The lights dim once again, and a slow hip hop beat starts banging its way out of the arena speakers.

I'm not familiar with the song, but I'm sure by the crowd's reaction it signifies that James Ray and his entourage are making their way to the ring. I can't see them from my position here at ringside yet but it shouldn't be too long until they are stepping between the ropes. And here they are, led by former world heavyweight champion Terone Haynes, looking like the baddest security guard in the world in all black, with shades and a large bandana over his head like a pirate. Ray's cousin Elmer is there, of course, as is Romy Alvarez, Holman Williams and Elford Coles, and the corner crew led by trainer Roy Jones. Ray himself is in the middle of it all, and Haynes holds the top two ropes apart to allow his fellow stablemate and good friend to climb into the ring. Ray's wearing a silk robe that's predominantly black with red and white trim, the colours Jones's fighters have always worn a combination of.

The whole group is in the ring now, about a dozen in all. James Ray looks about as intense and focused as any fighter I've ever seen before a bout of this magnitude, sweat bubbling on his forehead and bald pate. He's prowling the ring like a caged tiger, impatient and eager to get started. Ray's music fades out and is replaced a few seconds later by the Bob Marley reggae classic "Get Up, Stand Up", which I have heard is one of Emile Griffith's favourite songs. The world champion is getting a hearty round of applause, as while he was born in Saint Thomas in the US Virgin Islands he makes his home in New York City, making this clash more or less a home game for him. And here he is with his team, all decked out in white with red trim in contrast to Ray's team. Griffith's group is half the size of Ray's, only himself and his three corner men, one of whom holds the IBL world championship belt aloft. There's a couple of others, one who appears to be his manager Bernie Betts, looking sharp in an Armani suit.

Griffith's countenance is cold and unreadable as he swaggers by Ray's corner, regarding his challenger with a resolute glare. Ray follows him with his eyes but doesn't react. He's uncharacteristically self-contained, calm and reserved. That look on his face is deadly serious. Michael Buffer now has microphone in hand and he announces that R&B legend and New Jersey native Regina Belle will be performing the Star Spangled Banner, and when she does it makes the hairs on my neck stand up. A wonderful rendition, and the lady looks resplendent in a white ankle length gown. We all know what's coming next, and the crowd becomes excited as Buffer starts his introduction with "From the world famous Boardwalk Hall of Atlantic City, New Jersey, Ladies and Gentlemen ... Let's Get Ready to Rumblllllllllllle!!!!" He's then silent for a full minute, waiting for the crowd to calm down before continuing.

Buffer states that the bout is scheduled for fifteen rounds, is sanctioned by the International Boxing League and for the "welterweight, championship ... of the world!" He introduces the judges, Harold Lederman of the United States, Manuel Gonzalez of Panama and Pat Russell of the United States, and referee Johnny Callas, before getting to the two combatants, who each receive a generous round of applause. Soon after, Callas is bringing them together in the middle of the ring for his final instructions, and the look on each man's face is something to behold. Ray is wearing black knee-length trunks with red and white tassels running up the side of each leg, JIMMY RAY stencilled in red on his waist band, while Griffith wears solid white with red trim, his surname stencilled in white on the red waist band. Callas tells both men to return to their corners, and come out fighting at the sound of the bell.

(to be continued)


Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:31 pm
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Post Re: The Greatest Prize in Sports
nice an update


Thu Mar 19, 2015 5:42 pm
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kenyan_cheena

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Post Re: The Greatest Prize in Sports
IBL & WORLD WELTERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP

WORLD CHAMPION: EMILE GRIFFITH (USA, 33-2-1(23))
vs
WCC RANK #1: JAMES RAY (USA, 19-1(11))


==========

ROUND 1

A wave of emotion and anticipation passes around the arena with the sound of the opening bell. Ray starts strongly, bobbing and weaving his way inside and letting his hands go, scoring with a left hook. He then fakes to the body and plants another hook flush on the chin, backing Griffith up. But the champion issues a stern retort, a crunching uppercut that snaps Ray's chin back. Ray circles, up on his toes, and as the round's midpoint passes he's flicking that lightning left jab out at Griffith. The champion unloads with another uppercut from in close and then sneaks a right cross and a stiff jab through Ray's defenses. An impressive middle minute for the champion. But Ray tees off with a flurry of lefts and rights, Griffith allowed him to step in on him and at least two of those punches landed cleanly. Griffith stays outside now, but as the round draws to a close Ray tracks him down and connects with a hard left-right salvo!

Blaylock's verdict:

A fantastic, willing opening to the contest! If that is a hint of what is to come we are in for a great night. Both men had their moments, but it was "Jimmy" Ray who had the better of the first and third minutes of the round, so he takes it.

My scorecard: Ray 10-9

**********

ROUND 2

Not a lot of action through the opening minute, with the combatants working from in close but not landing any telling blows. Griffith snuck in an uppercut and Ray connected with a short left to the body. Midway through the round and the champ splits a crisp jab through Ray's gloves and catches him square on the cheek, jolting Ray's head back. Griffith follows up with a booming straight right that has the challenger backpedalling. Griffith chases him and bounces a right cross off Ray's chin before digging a right hook into his ribs. My, I could feel that one from here! Ray is staying outside now and looks content to remain there until the bell. Griffith comes after him again, though, and lands another hard right cross, but Ray counters with an uppercut that stops the champion in his tracks and leads to a clinch, where they remain until the bell sounds.

Blaylock's verdict:

Griffith looked great in that round, taking it clearly with Ray's strong uppercut at its end not enough to change that. An excellent start from both men.

My scorecard: Griffith 10-9 (19-19 after Round 2)

**********

ROUND 3

Ray makes an outstanding start to the round, driving a left hook into Griffith's body before peppering him with a series of crisp jabs and then rocking the champion with a right cross! The challenger's fans howl their approval, and the round isn't even a minute old yet. Griffith answers well, though, planting a stiff right on Ray's nose and pounding away at his body before finishing off his rally with a left-right salvo to the head and an uppercut that snaps Ray's head back. What a response, and what a round! Griffith ties Ray up and they get a badly needed respite, but once they break Ray unloads a left hook that stuns the champion. Griffith wobbled a little bit there! Ray fires off a left-right salvo that misses, and Griffith moves inside and fires away with another big uppercut that sends the sweat flying. Ray is hurt and he ties Griffith up, Callas seperating them moments before the bell rings.

Blaylock's verdict:

My, Lord! What a fantastic round of boxing! Ray looked like he would run away with it early, but Griffith rallied and then they both landed some hard shots in the final minute. I'll have to score that one even, I think.

My scorecard: 10-10 (29-29 after Round 3)

**********

ROUND 4

Unsurprisingly, there's little action in the first minute, save for a right cross and stiff left jab from Griffith. But Ray quickly puts himself in the driver's seat with a scorching right cross and a flush uppercut that wobbles Griffith! His knee almost grazed the canvas and he's in trouble! But he ties Ray up and the moment passes, and then Griffith sneaks a short uppercut through the challenger's defenses from inside. Griffith keeps Ray at bay through the rest of the round with that stiff, piston-like jab, Ray doing little but bobbing and weaving and feinting to throw that right hand.

Blaylock's verdict:

Hmm, Griffith did more in the round but Ray landed its biggest punch, that uppercut which almost dropped the champion. Geezums, I think I'll give that one to Ray just based on the fact that he hurt Griffith without being hurt himself. The three men that count might see it differently, though.

My scorecard: Ray 10-9 (Ray 39-38 after Round 4)

**********

ROUND 5

James Ray is the busier man during the first minute, but doesn't land anything of real substance. Griffith is quick to square the ledger with an uppercut and a right cross, and then all of a sudden they're going toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring for the first time in the fight, exchanging power shots to the crowds delight, a battle of resolve and will! And Griffith looks to have gotten the better of it, and follows up with a left-right-left salvo, the second and third punches landing. Ray digs a left into Griffith's body and catches him with a right cross with about thirty seconds left. Griffith has noticeably slowed after that burst of activity in the stanza's middle third. Ray's got him trapped in a neutral corner and he wraps the challenger up, Callas having to pry them apart a few seconds later.

Blaylock's verdict:

Once again, a tough round to score, with both pugilists making a strong case for themselves. But if I'm going to be consistent, I have to give it to Griffith, as he landed the harder, more damaging shots, just as Ray did in the 4th.

My scorecard: Griffith 10-9 (48-48 after Round 5)

**********

(to be continued)


Tue Mar 24, 2015 10:56 pm
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Post Re: The Greatest Prize in Sports
(continuation)

ROUND 6

We enter the middle third of the fight, and I have to say I've been impressed by James Ray so far. He starts the 6th promisingly, rocking the champ with a right cross and a hard left hook to the body before the frame's a minute old. Griffith initiates a clinch and Ray's annoyed, holding his arms up and telling Callas to fix the situation. They circle each other for a little while and Griffith goes southpaw for a moment, firing a lead right at the challenger, which Ray avoids and then counters with a beautiful uppercut! My, that punch snapped Griffith's head back! The champion is staggered and Ray goes after him but can't land a clean shot, Griffith rolling with the punches before tying Ray up again. Callas seperates them and Ray unloads a left hook that crashes into Griffith's right cheek! What a round for the Florida native! Once again Griffith wraps him up, and they stay locked up until the round ends.

Blaylock's verdict:

A brilliant three minutes there for James Ray! The most dominant either fighter has been so far in the fight. Emile Griffith has a real test on his hands here.

My scorecard: Ray 10-9 (Ray 58-57 after Round 6)

**********

ROUND 7

James Ray picks up where he left off, connecting with a left jab/overhand right combo and then a perfectly timed lead right within thirty seconds of the bell. Griffith works the body effectively and then pumps that jab out at the challenger, keeping him at bay. Ray is bobbing and weaving and as the round approaches its midpoint he unloads a left hook that bounces off Griffith's temple, shaking the champion. Griffith smothers Ray with another clinch, and is warned by Callas about leading with his head. He better be careful because his only loss in the IBL to date came by DQ. Griffith sneaks a jab through Ray's defenses but misses with the straight right before Ray plugs him with another big right hand! His timing with that punch has been mostly impeccable tonight. And they're going toe-to-toe again now and Ray backs the champion up! He moves out of range now, seemingly content with his work in this round, but before it's over Griffith herds him into a neutral corner and flails away at his body, landing a couple of hard shots. The crowd applauds warmly.

Blaylock's verdict:

Another outstanding round for James Ray. The young man is in the driver's seat right now and for the first time in the fight, one of these combatants has a two-point lead on my unofficial scorecard.

My scorecard: Ray 10-9 (Ray 68-66 after Round 7)

**********

ROUND 8

The middle round of the fight has arrived, and after receiving a bit of a dressing down during the intermission Griffith comes out with renewed vigour. He plasters a left-right combo off Ray's chin, backing the challenger up, but Ray answers back by driving a left hook into Griffith's ribs. The champ connects with a right cross but once again Ray responds, sneaking an uppercut through Griffith's defenses and jolting his head back. And then Griffith connects with a right to the body! All this action and the round's only at its midpoint! Ray misses with a straight right and then moves out of range, the action slowing momentarily. The two-minute mark now, and Griffith bends to plant a jab into Ray's abdominals. Oh, another big uppercut from Ray! That brought a grimace to the champion's face! Now he glances a right cross off Griffith's jaw, and the champ fires back with a succession of jabs, although most of them miss. They're tied up now, and after Callas seperates them Ray unleashes a flurry, with one punch landing after the bell, to which Griffith unloads one of his own! And Callas has to step in and pry them apart! My, the crowd is loving this!

Blaylock's verdict:

These two warriors are producing something special here tonight! And that last round was perhaps too close to call, although Ray landed the biggest punches of it. Could be a huge round in the outcome if it goes the distance, depending on how the judges score it. Ahhh, I'll have to give it to Ray, but only just, due to those two uppercuts. That's three in a row for him now.

My scorecard: Ray 10-9 (Ray 78-75 after Round 8)

**********

ROUND 9

Oh, I looked away for a moment and Ray just landed a big left hook that staggered Griffith, just moments into the round! He wraps Ray up once again, gaining precious seconds to recover. Ray lands a right cross but there's not much on it, and Griffith goes to the body now, digging a left hook into Ray's ribs. Ray pawing with the jab, pushing one into Griffith's face. The champ not doing a whole lot in this round and that's a worry. The middle minute evaporates with nothing to show for it, but Ray winds up with an uppercut from outside that somehow connects! He scores with a left hook now and Griffith looks in bad shape! But the champ cranks up a left hook that lands, and Ray plants a straight right on his chin in retort. I can see a little bump under Griffith's left eye now. Must be all those beautiful right hands Ray has landed. Another superb round for the challenger.

Blaylock's verdict:

Are we seeing the making of a new superstar? Even if Ray does not go on to win this, I think we are. Emile Griffith looked all but unbeatable when he schooled Enrique Diaz in January, but now it appears he could be heading towards a similar defeat. James Ray has been simply brilliant during these last four rounds and Griffith is going to have to dig deep if he wants to retain his championship.

My scorecard: Ray 10-9 (Ray 88-84 after Round 9)

**********

ROUND 10

Griffith wearing a glum expression as he rises from his stool. Both men a bit cautious to start the round, exchanging some probing jabs. Oh, Griffith buries a left hook into Ray's ribs. That had to hurt! Ray fires back with a left hook of his own, but the champion buckles Ray's knees with a flurry of blows, at least three of them connecting! That's the first time since about round five that Ray's been backed up. He's looking a bit dazed right now. Griffith takes advantage, controlling the rest of the round behind crisp jabs and another left-right salvo. James Ray looks like he just wants to get back to his corner now and forget all about this round. Griffith is being cautious, but he's also making sure the judges can't possibly score this round against him, pumping that jab out into Ray's face. Even so, that bump under his left eye is getting worse.

Blaylock's verdict:

Great round from Griffith. If anything, at least he has stopped Ray's momentum for now, and given himself a chance to still get back into it. Ten rounds down, folks, and it really is anyone's fight, even though Ray is in a stronger position.

My scorecard: Griffith 10-9 (Ray 97-94 after Round 10)

**********

(to be continued)


Sun May 10, 2015 6:56 am
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kenyan_cheena

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Post Re: The Greatest Prize in Sports
(continuation)

ROUND 11

We are getting to the business end of this contest now. The 11th starts slow, but Griffith lands the first big punches, a left-right salvo that pushes Ray back into the ropes. And there now appears to be swelling around Ray's right eye, so both men are showing battle wounds. Griffith works the body and moves out of range, but soon after Ray tracks him down and lands a sharp combination, worsening the swelling under the champ's left eye. Griffith responds with a right cross, and as the round passes its midpoint Ray sticks a left hook into Griffith's ribcage. The world champion keeps pushing out that jab, making things tough for Ray, but he slips inside and fires off another left-right salvo. It's an even round to this point, but Griffith is busier during the final minute, landing a right cross and three stiff jabs. That could be an important passage when all is said and done.

Blaylock's verdict:

Wow, he's not the world champion for nothing. After seemingly being out of it, Emile Griffith has fought back in these last two rounds and he's reduced the gap to just two points, at least on my scorecard. We are in for an intriguing finish.

My scorecard: Griffith 10-9 (Ray 106-104 after Round 11)

**********

ROUND 12

If this was for an alphabet title these two combatants would be touching gloves right now, but as it is we've still got four rounds to go. Roy Jones was a bit agitated during the intermission, imploring Ray to dig deep and finish strong. Griffith is using something like guerilla tactics here, moving in and unloading a flurry of shots and then moving out of harm's way. That's usually Ray's gameplan, but the Florida native has noticeably slowed down in these last couple of rounds and is having trouble getting close to the champion. Even so, it's pretty close through the top half of the frame, with the highlight being a left-right combo from Ray, amongst a handful of punches he lands. That mouse under Griffith's right eye is becoming a concern and his corner crew's gonna have to deal with it. The champion catches Ray with an uppercut as he steps in, snapping his head back as the final seconds tick away.

Blaylock's verdict:

As they say, it ain't over 'til it's over and with Ray starting to fade I would be putting my money on the champion right now. Griffith has gone fifteen rounds in his last two outings, both against Enrique Diaz, while Ray is in his first fifteen-rounder. Both fighters look like they've been in a war, although some how neither has been cut.

My scorecard: Griffith 10-9 (Ray 115-114 after Round 12)

**********

ROUND 13

And we have arrived at what they used to call "The Championship Rounds"! These next eleven minutes will show us if James Ray is ready to take that next step yet. Oh, he rips a right hook to the body and Griffith grimaces in pain! The champion backpedals and when Ray comes in he smothers him and ties him up. Griffith appears distressed from that body shot. Callas seperates them and Ray goes southpaw, but misses with a lead right and straight left. Griffith bullies his way inside and lets his hands go, catching Ray with a left to the body. They're tangled up now, and Griffith is doing some effective work on the inside, landing a couple of sneaky uppercuts. Lord, these two men look to be just about spent, but Ray pierces a right cross over the top of Griffith's left and that punch hurt the champ! His legs buckled for a second. Griffith is blinking and pawing at the swelling under his left eye, which is at an alarming stage now.

Oh, my! Ray lands an uppercut and Griffith's head snaps backwards. What a punch! It's a miracle he's still standing. Into the final minute now and Griffith is keeping his distance, but he needs to do something or else this round belongs to James Ray. OH, MY! Ray is down! Ray is down! A left-right salvo caught him perfectly and the challenger slumps to the canvas! Unbelievable! Callas is up to four with the count and Ray is on one knee but struggling. He's up at eight and looking distraught, but the round is almost over. Griffith comes in for the kill and bangs a right cross off Ray's forehead! He's wobbling, but the bell sounds and the round is done! My, oh, my! The crowd are on their feet, they're going delirious right now! James Ray returns to his corner on unsteady legs, but Callas doesn't seem to be too worried about him.

Blaylock's verdict:

That, my fiends, is why they call them The Championship Rounds! An incredible rally from Emile Griffith there! A rally that may have just won him this fight. James Ray was on his way to winning the round, and if he did, he'd have a two-point lead on my scorecard with two rounds remaining. Instead, Griffith gets the vital knockdown and now leads by one point! Incredible! For the first time in the entire fight, I have him in front.

My scorecard: Griffith 10-8 (Griffith 124-123 after Round 13)

**********

ROUND 14

Wow, it was amazing watching the contrast in the two corners during the intermission, with Roy Jones and his team working frantically to patch their man up while Griffith's trainer Charlie Jenks was calm and collected as he gave the world champion his instructions. About twenty seconds into the round they exchange a flurry of blows, with Griffith coming out marginally better. Griffith pins Ray in a corner and catches him with a left jab/straight right combo, the challenger using what is left of his foot speed to get out of trouble. Ray shoves a jab out at Griffith but the champion ducks it and lands an uppercut on the chin, sending the sweat spraying off Ray's head! Once again Ray uses his legs to avoid any more punishment, and as Griffith comes at him he fires a jab down the pipe that jolts the champion's head back. Into the final minute now and Ray dips down and works the body, stinging Griffith with a left to the ribs. Neither fighter can land a telling blow through the rest of the round, but it's Ray who appears the more spry now.

Blaylock's verdict:

Damn it, that was a close one. I cannot imagine what the judges will do with that round. Part of me is saying to score it 10-10, but another part is saying that Griffith was a bit more effective with his power punches so he gets it. That's five rounds in a row for him now on my card, following on directly from Ray winning four in a row. What a fight.

My scorecard: Griffith 10-9 (Griffith 134-132 after Round 14)

**********

ROUND 15

So according to my card, the only way Ray can win this is by either knocking out the champ or knocking him down twice. They touch gloves and nod to each other, both men looking a mess around their eyes. The crowd applauds, many of them up on their feet. Ray needs to push the pace but the opening minute is uneventful, save for a stiff left from the challenger. They trade some hard shots to the crowd's delight, and when Ray connects with a big left hook, Griffith is in trouble. He retreats, Lord his left eye is an ugly mess now. Just past the midpoint and Griffith ties his man up, Ray pushing him off and getting back to work. But his body is betraying him as he misses with a left-right swinging for the fences play, and Griffith wraps him up again. The champion is exhausted now, more so than Ray, but he's determined to stay on his feet.

Griffith throws out a couple of jabs which miss, but the follow up right cross grazes the top of Ray's head. Ray is breathing heavy, and he unloads a wild right hand that Griffith ducks, the punch almost throwing Ray off his feet. The final seconds tick away and the crowd rise as one, cheering these two remarkable warriors and their outstanding performance. Griffith and Ray embrace in the middle of the ring, and there's a ton of mutual respect and admiration there, Griffith pounding Ray on the chest and on the head affectionately. My, my, my. Can you say "Fight of the Year"? I think I can. The corner crews are in the ring now attending to their charges, and soon after comes the traditional exchange of congratulations between the two camps. Jones and Jenks hug and shake hands and speak for a good minute before moving to the opposing corner to speak to their opposing fighters. This is the type of thing I love to see at the end of a bout. Respect and sportsmanship and admiration.

Blaylock's verdict:

Well, Ray definitely won that last round, but he couldn't knock Griffith down so if my scorecard is anything like the judges, Emile Griffith will be retaining the world championship. But only just. We'll find out the verdict in a few minutes from now, as Buffer and the IBL officials have now made their way into the ring.

My scorecard: Ray 10-9 (Griffith 143-142 after Round 15)

**********

(to be concluded!)


Sun May 10, 2015 7:00 am
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kenyan_cheena

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Post Re: The Greatest Prize in Sports
(conclusion)

The ring is filled now, with IBL officials and every member of each fighter's entourage, and management and security also. The league's president and vice-president James Molk and Michael Vincennes are in there, smiling from ear-to-ear after congratulating Griffith and Ray. There's not a bit of bad blood here, just total respect between the two camps. And now Michael Buffer looks to have been handed the official scorecards, so we are moments away from hearing the verdict. Judge Pat Russell has scored the bout 143-142 for James Ray, which brings a huge cheer from sections of the crowd. Manuel Gonzalez has scored it a 143-143 draw, and I can't say I have a complaint with either of those verdicts. Buffer pauses, clearly for dramatic effect...

Judge Harold Lederman has scored it 143 ... to 143. The result is a draw! The air goes out of the building momentarily, but soon the audience starts to applaud, realising it's probably the fairest verdict we could have had after such an amazing fight. Emile Griffith has retained the world welterweight championship and continued an amazing run of top quality fights in the IBL, where he is now 6-1-1. The two camps are congratulating each other again and neither of them seem upset about the verdict. What a remarkable performance from the younger man James Ray, to take a champion of Emile Griffith's caliber the distance and almost dethrone him. In fact, if not for that 13th round knockdown, James Ray would probably be being carried around the ring on the shoulders of Terone Haynes and Romy Alvarez right now. That is how close he came to winning this fight.

The punch totals are coming through on HBO's website. They say that Griffith landed 391 of 1,259 punches, which is a 31.1% accuracy rate, and Ray landed 326 of 854 (38.2%). Frankly, I'm a bit surprised by the difference in the punches thrown total. It did not seem that Griffith was that much more active, although he did throw a hell of a lot of left jabs tonight. The champion's record is now 33-2-2(23) while Ray's is 19-1-1(11), and I would think that even now you can bet with something close to 100% certainty that we'll be seeing a rematch come November. There's nothing to justify not having one, because James Ray came *this* close to winning the championship and he deserves another chance. Emile Griffith would already know this, even if he might be dead tired and exhausted right now.

The champion is being interviewed, already holding an icepack under his hideously swollen left eye, and from what I can hear he has called tonight's fight "the greatest challenge I've ever faced in a boxing ring", which is a huge compliment to James Ray. Griffith can't quite believe he has retained the world title, and when the question of a rematch is raised he simply says "Oh, definitely," but follows up by stating that it's the last thing on his mind right now, and it's going to stay that way for a while. He laughs and smiles and cracks a joke about being "tired to hell of these damn fifteen-rounders", which makes perfect sense as he's now fought in three of them consecutively. When James Molk comes into the interview, Griffith jokes with him about it, saying "This stuff was easier when I was defending that WBA belt three years ago in those twelve-rounders, Jimmy." Molk shakes his hand and speaks of his utter admiration for the man, and for James Ray also.

A few minutes later it's Ray who is being interviewed, and the young man is humble and somewhat lost for words. He knows he gave it his all, but he can't disguise his disappointment at coming up so narrowly short after such a gut-busting effort. His trainer Roy Jones speaks on his behalf when Ray starts getting a bit overwhelmed, the 24 year-old retreating to his corner and sitting on the stool with a towel over his head. Jones says how proud he is of the young man, that he could not have asked for more in such a huge fight, and his first world title bout at that. Jones calls Griffith a great champion and a credit to the sport of boxing, but does not hold back when he says this is only the beginning and James Ray will be back even better and more determined the next time they step in the ring against each other. The result is the latest of what have been a number of "near misses" for Jones's fighters in various situations, but it can hardly be classified as a failure.

The two camps are starting to leave the ring now, although many in the crowd are still here, probably to watch as Griffith, Ray and co. make their way back to the dressing rooms. As I ponder what we've just witnessed, I have to wonder whether the league will consider putting off any rematch between Griffith and Ray until the start of the 2009 season. When you consider that Griffith has now fought the massive total of 45 rounds in three bouts during the last ten months, asking him to defend the championship again in November seems a bit steep to me. Especially when you look at world junior-heavyweight champion Jeff Lampkin and realise he has only fought twice in the same time frame for a total of sixteen rounds, and isn't due to be back in the ring until October or November after his 2nd round kncokout of Tortsen May last month. True, it's not Lampkin's fault that Griffith's last three fights have all been fifteen rounders, but some common sense needs to be employed.

If the consensus is that the next title fight will be a rematch, then there's really no reason to hold it in November. The only reason to do so would be to stick to the league's rules of having the champion defend the belt twice in each season, but Griffith's last fight against Diaz took place on January 26 anyway, only a couple of weeks before the WCC kicked off. Surely that will be taken into account. Anyway, that's an issue which will no doubt be discussed in the coming days. For now, things are just about a wrap here at the Boardwalk Hall. It's been an amazing night of boxing, starting with our two preliminary WCC bouts, where Jose Molina defeated Vicente Saldivar in featherweight action before Jose Napoles was too good for Mickey Walker in their middleweight clash. And we could not have asked for a more action-packed, dramatic main event. It's a night those who were here will remember for a long time to come, as will I. For now, this is Lenny Blaylock for TheSweetScience.com saying good night from Atlantic City.

Blog ending time: 21 June 2008, 10.40pm ET

==========


Thu Jun 18, 2015 6:34 pm
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kenyan_cheena

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Post Re: The Greatest Prize in Sports
ESPN

Boxing


Larry Holman Blog

Norton's future unclear
following loss to Jackson

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 | Print Entry

Seventeen days have passed since Australia's Peter Jackson dethroned Ken Norton as the world heavyweight champion, and as yet there has been no word from Norton or his management as to the San Diego slugger's status going forward. Norton did not speak to reporters after the June 7 bout at the MGM Grand, as he was taken to hospital for observation after being floored twice and knocked out in the 11th round. Norton refused to speak to the gathered media when discharged from the hospital, or at McCarran International Airport when he flew back to San Diego the following Tuesday. He maintained his silence upon arrival in his hometown, and has barely left his two-storey mansion since. While the man himself has not made his feelings known, some of his acquaintances have, including former alphabet titlist James Toney. He gave a news crew that had set up camp outside Norton's home last week a piece of his mind.

"Ain't you people got anything better to do?" Toney apparently shouted at them as he left the property. "You need to leave this man be, you hear? Leave him be to heal and recover. He's hurting real bad right now, and having you people gathered outside his house like a pack of vultures ain't gonna help!"

Toney's anger was understandable, but he inadvertently gave the media an insight into just how deeply Norton has felt the defeat that Jackson inflicted upon him. It would be true to say that Jackson's win was more impressive than that of Terone Haynes when the Florida native claimed the inaugural IBL belt with an 8th round TKO of Norton in December '06. Norton finished that fight on his feet and actually dropped Haynes twice in the opening round. Haynes dominated the remaining rounds, but he was unable to send Norton to the canvas throughout the bout. By comparison, Jackson's knockout win was more comprehensive, and it could be that Norton is now seeing the writing on the wall. He displayed a confident disposition during the weeks leading into the clash, and stepped into the ring in perfect shape, but was outfought by Jackson for most of the contest, save for the opening frame and also the latter stages of round six, when he floored Jackson.

The International Boxing League has not commented publicly on the situation yet, and one would assume they'll give Norton as much time as he needs to confirm his future plans. It would be a considerable surprise if they were to decree that Jackson has to give Norton a rematch in stage three of the World Championship Conference, but what must be taken into account is the fact that Norton knocked Jackson down. This fact, and this fact alone, might be enough to convince the league that Norton deserves an immediate chance to reclaim the title. Of course, if Norton decides that he's done, or that he wants to go on hiatus through the rest of the year, it would make any decision by the IBL a mute point. Jackson has already said he's intent on fighting Haynes in his first defense, which in this observer's opinion seems a much more logical fight, if not the wisest choice for the longevity of Jackson's career.

Lytell one step closer to redemption

On Saturday night in Las Vegas, former world middleweight champion and top five pound-for-pounder Bert Lytell took a major step in his journey towards a rematch with Fulgencio Obelmejias when he claimed the WBA's 168-pound championship with a slim unanimous decision win over Houston's Michael Barrett. The bout was part of the second stage of promoter Tyrone Hillier's eight-man world super-middleweight championship tournament, but if you missed the news, it was probably because you were still in awe of the magnificent IBL world welterweight title fight between Emile Griffith and James Ray that took place in Atlantic City earlier in the evening. Lytell was on top of the world back in July 2006 when he knocked out Freddie Steele to become the undisputed world middleweight champion, adding Steele's IBF belt to his own WBC title.

The win should have been the start of a great run for Lytell, but instead everything came tumbling down in his very next fight. Without a warm-up bout at the new weight, Lytell moved up to super-middleweight and fought Obelmejias for the vacant WBC title in January '07. The Venezuelan decimated Lytell, flooring him seven times on the way to a dominant unanimous decision win. It humbled the San Jose slugger, and having already relinquished the IBF middleweight belt before fighting Obelmejias, he did the same with the WBC championship after the loss. Lytell returned to the ring last July against Mexico's Oscar Martinez, winning the fight by TKO in the 5th. Lytell's first fight in the super-middleweight championship tournament was a fantastic one against Scotland's Murray Sutherland in February, Lytell eeking out a split decision victory.

The win over Barrett, who was making his third title defense, was more convincing, although the scorecards of 115-114, 116-113 and 115-114 don't do justice to his performance. Regardless, Lytell (35-2(24)) is now a champion again, and if he can get through his first title defense in March unscathed (against a tournament opponent to be determined), he'll be one further victory away from winning the world super-middleweight championship, with that tournament-concluding clash to be in August '09 and most likely against Obelmejias, the current WBC champion who defends his title against Germany's Christian Fritz this Saturday night. Redemption is something that many people crave but often miss out on attaining. Bert Lytell could end up being one of the exceptions to that, and if he is able to emerge as the world super-middleweight champion it would complete a fantastic rise back to boxing's summit.

IBL suspends de la Cruz and
nine others on medical grounds


The International Boxing League announced on Monday that they had suspended the further participation of ten International Conference competitors on "medical grounds", effective immediately. Putting it more simply, the ten fighters have been getting knocked down or knocked out too often of late, and for the sake of their own health and safety, the league could not justify allowing them to continue competing. While the league will honor each man's contract through until its conclusion, whether that be this year or a subsequent year, they have been banned from competing in the remaining 2008 International Conference bouts they had been scheduled to appear in. Strangely, six of the ten fighters are from the junior-heavyweight division, but it was the dilemma of Filipino heavyweight Juan de la Cruz that appears to have led the organisation to take this action. de la Cruz's career has been in free fall for the better part of a year now.

After giving a brave account of himself in an unsuccessful Inter-Continental title challenge to Max Schmeling in April '07 and then knocking out Fred Fulton in June, de la Cruz's record stood at 9-2(8). He was one of many talented up-and-comers currently competing in the heavyweight division, but the IBL has admitted that they made a mistake in entering the inexperienced youngster in their WCC qualifying tournament. de la Cruz was drawn to take on the hard-hitting Nigerian Ike Ibeabuchi, in what many said was a dangerous mismatch. Ibeabuchi dropped de la Cruz three times on the way to a 6th round knockout in August. The Filipino's next fight came just two months later, where he was floored twice before being knocked out in round eight of an International Conference initial ranking bout against Leon Higgins, an opponent who, like Ibeabuchi, was much more experienced than he.

Those losses were a disappointing end to de la Cruz's year, but when competition in the IC got started, it only became worse for him. He was sent to the canvas an incredible seven times by Adam Brooks in his first fight, in March. Amazingly, the bout went the distance with Brooks winning a ridiculously lopsided unanimous decision verdict. Less than two months later, de la Cruz was back in action against the veteran Mike Weaver. He almost stopped the Californian in the opening round, but Weaver answered back superbly, flooring de la Cruz twice in round two and knocking him out late in the frame. Not only was it de la Cruz's fourth consecutive loss, it was also his third knockout defeat in the space of nine months. But what was even more alarming was de la Cruz's knockdown statistics: in the four defeats, he was sent to the canvas a total of fourteen times.

With his record now a horrid-looking 9-6, de la Cruz's career appears to be all but over, although the IBL have not conceded that. They believe the 24 year-old could still have a long and successful career, but that he needs a period of medical observation and time away from the sport. They have said in 2009 he will be entered in the Development League (where he should have been at the start of this year) rather than the International Conference. The junior-heavyweights who will also be suspended along with de la Cruz are Ravea Springs (floored nine times in his last two fights), Ezra Sellers (knocked out in his last three fights), Johnathon Banks (dropped twice in each of his last three fights), Andre Prophet (floored eleven times in his last four fights, and knocked out in the last three), Valery Brudov (dropped nine times in his last four fights and knocked out in three of them) and Troy Ross (floored seven times in his last three fights).

Others who will also be suspended are the flyweight Gabriel Bernal (knocked out in his last two fights and knocked down five times in them), lightweight Phillip N'dou (floored six times in his last two fights) and the welterweight Rene Arredondo (dropped six times in his last three fights and ten times in his last five fights). The league has confirmed that in order to avoid disrupting the remaining IC schedule, they are in the process of signing additional fighters to compete in place of the suspended competitors. They have also announced that they will be reviewing the structure of the International Conference for 2009 and beyond, with one possible change being that all competitors must have fought at least twenty professional bouts to be eligible to take part in it. The option of eight-round bouts rather than ten-rounders has also been raised, which would make sense considering that the schedule asks each competitor to fight once every eight weeks.


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