By Johnny Walker

Oliver “The Atomic Bull” McCall eked out a split decision over “Fast” Fres Oquendo at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, Tuesday night in a heavyweight fight that lacked sustained action and often seemed more like a glorified sparring session.

McCall, 45, of Martinsville, Virginia, a one-time WBC heavyweight champion, was busted for possession of cocaine in February of this year, and then came back to drop a unanimous decision to Timur Ibragimov in June. 

Oquendo, 37, of Chicago, Illinois, is heavyweight boxing’s hard-luck man, having lost very questionable decisions in the past to the likes of Chris Byrd and James Toney.

On this night, Oquendo’s bad luck dogged him once again. 

The fight was mostly marked by McCall plodding slowly forward and Oquendo parrying his advances and moving out of danger.  “Fast Fres” seemed to this writer to be getting the better of the action for most of the contest, landing cleaner and more frequent shots in a bout that mostly lacked any sense of rhythm.

McCall’s lurching forward movement often found him falling in too close to his opponent and unable to punch effectively.  He had a few moments of joy, however, such as in the 10th round when he cut Oquendo with a powerful left jab.  More often, he allowed himself to be tied up and negated. 

When the judges scores were announced, Oquendo’s worst fears were once again realized. 

Only judge Bill Ray (113-115) saw it remotely the way this writer did; judges Michael Pernick (115-113) and John Rupert (116-112) scored it for McCall.

The best action of the night, however, occured after the scores were read, when a brawl broke out in Oquendo’s very unhappy corner, which was incensed at their man’s continuing misfortune. 

Oquendo (32-7) himself stood in the ring with a look of disbelief on his face.

With the win, McCall (55-10) picked up the vacant IBF Inter-Continental heavyweight championship. 

Where either fighter goes from here—even in today’s relatively weak heavyweight division—is anybody’s guess.

Wladimir Klitschko (l) taunted Dereck Chisora with his belt collection

By Johnny Walker

Dereck “Del-Boy” Chisora of the United Kingdom raised the trash-talking stakes today when he called the trainer of IBF, IBO and WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine an “Uncle Tom” during a pre-fight press conference for their upcoming title tilt this Saturday in Mannheim, Germany.

The final presser for the fight was very contentious, with Chisora exhibiting a near-total lack of respect for the champion and his legendary trainer Emanuel Steward.

Klitschko taunted Chisora with the belts at one point: “It’s a nice belt, huh?” he said as he waved a championship strap in Chisora’s face.  “You’ve been dreaming about it, huh?  You can take and play with [the belts], I don’t care about it,” Klitschko continued dismissively.

Chisora responded with a blistering verbal attack on the imposing champ.

“You want to be like Muhammad Ali and all the rest, but you will never buy greatness, because you are not that great.  That’s why you’re stuck in Germany, that’s why the other countries don’t want to watch you.  You can’t get a fight in Vegas, no one will pay to watch you in Vegas, because you stink up the joint,” claimed Chisora during his vicious verbal tirade.

“I guess your [ideal] opponent is your ex-girlfriend, who can’t punch back,” a steaming but calm Klitschko countered. 

Chisora was given a suspended sentence in November for an assault on his ex-girlfriend.

Things deteriorated as Chisora tried to argue that his ex-girlfriend is better looking than the champion’s current one (actress Hayden Panettierre), who Chisora described as being “three feet tall.”

Chisora also made the aforementioned racial slur toward Manny Steward, implying with the “Uncle Tom” label that the trainer is a race traitor, working to help a white European fighter defeat black opponents.

Steward was understandably furious. 

“Chisora is a horrible person . . . [but] I don’t have to motivate Wladimir. Chisora already made him mad and showed no respect towards him,” said the Kronk boxing legend. 

Klitschko ended by offering a few choice words in German, drawing a hearty laugh from the reporters present while Chisora frowned. 

Klitschko then turned toward Chisora with his final comment on the proceedings:

“Learn the languages, buddy!”

 
 

Dimitrenko is anxious to get in the ring with Sosnowski

By Johnny Walker

Universum Boxing Promotions of Germany has posted an official video of their fighter Alexander “Sascha” Dimitrenko’s collapsing, which happened in the dressing room right before he was scheduled to enter the ring to defend his European heavyweight title against Polish challenger Albert Sosnowski on Saturday, Dec. 4 in Schwerin, Germany.

The video first shows Dimitrenko walking woozily around the dressing room, and then jumps to footage of him collapsed on the floor as other fighters and security people mill around the area.

Dimitrenko has undergone a series of tests at Helios Klinik in Schwerin and will be having more testing done this week in Hamburg, Germany.  At this time, the exact cause of Dimitrenko’s frightening collapse remains unknown. 

“I apologize to the fans in the arena and watching on television, but I hope I’m healthy again quickly and can take this fight. I would like to defend my title against Sosnowski as soon as possible,” Dimitrenko said in a statement.

According to Universum, Dimitrenko retains his title, with the fight due to be rescheduled in the near future, Dimitrenko’s health permitting.

Sascha Dimitrenko collapsed to the floor of his dressing room

By Johnny Walker

The scheduled fight for the European heavyweight title between defending champion Alexander “Sascha” Dimitrenko and challenger Albert Sosnowski at the Sport and Congress Center in Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, was cancelled tonight when Dimitrenko collapsed to the floor in the dressing room right before the bout.

Germany’s Sport 1 television network showed Dimitrenko sprawled on the floor in front of his chair, with his legs jammed under a nearby couch.  There was general confusion as to what had taken place, as other fighters on the card entered the area to rubberneck and then were ushered out by security.

Sosnowski, the Polish-born challenger now based in the UK, had lost last time out in a game effort against WBC heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko.  He was interviewed by Sport 1 after the cancellation, and was clearly chagrined at the unfortunate turn of events. 

“I’m disappointed … it was two months of training,” said Sosnowski. 

Sosnowski, who expressed concern for Dimitrenko’s health, went on to say that, according to his information, the Germany-based Ukrainian champ had become “nervous” as the fight neared and had experienced some kind of attack. 

Sport 1 cameras showed Dimitrenko being wheeled out of the Center on a stretcher and into an awaiting ambulance.

According to Sosnowski, it is not yet known if the bout will be rescheduled or cancelled altogether.

Jean Marc Mormeck narrowly defeated Timur Ibragimov of Uzbekistan by split decision in a back-and-forth WBA heavyweight boxing encounter tonight at the Halle Carpentier in Paris.

While not unwatchable, the fight was marred at times by too much holding, as both fighters tired going in to the later rounds.  Suffice it to say that neither of the recognized heavyweight champs Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko will be shaking in his boots after viewing this bout; nor will WBA paper champ David Haye.

Ibragimov, 35, the WBA’s #7 ranked challenger for Haye’s belt, started off well, however, using his size advantage (being 6’3″ tall compared to Mormeck’s 5’11”) to bully the smaller fighter and lean on him whenever the opportunity presented itself, and also fighting nicely behind the left jab, his overall style reminiscent of Wladimir Klitschko‘s usual modus operandi. 

The 38-year-old Mormeck, ranked #12 by the WBA, came out aggressive, bobbing and weaving in Joe Frazier-like fashion, but in rounds one and two Ibragimov kept him at bay with a snappy left jab and some nice combinations to the body.

The third round saw both men warming to the task, with Ibragimov landing a hard right cross to Mormeck’s head, and Mormeck, still moving well, finally getting inside the jab to land a hard left hook of his own.  This seemed to inspire Ibragimov, who answered with an aggressive round four, bulling Mormeck into the corners and landing some crisp combinations to the body.  Mormeck did connect with a hard overhand right near the end of the round, too infrequent an occurrence for him thus far.

Rounds five through seven saw Mormeck change the momentum of the fight.   The shorter man began landing solid left and right uppercuts to Ibragimov’s chin with regularity, as the Uzbek retreated to ropes.  Although Ibragimov had not been seriously hurt, the cumulative effect of the French fighter’s blows had him in disarray, and it seemed a stoppage win for Mormeck might be in sight.

The tide turned yet again in round eight, however.  With the Parisian crowd sensing that a stoppage was close, they began chanting “MOR-MECK, MOR-MECK,” and their fighter tried to respond.  Ibragimov, however, had other ideas, opening with a solid combination to the head and body and leaning heavily on the now tiring Frenchman.  Ibragimov’s strategy of working over Mormeck’s body finally began to pay off, with the latter man visibly wilting by the end of the round. 

The ninth was Mormeck’s last effective round.  Still looking gassed, he nevertheless rallied, with some Tyson-esque determination enabling him to again slip inside and stun Ibragimov with an uppercut.  

The pendulum swung back yet again to the Uzbek in the tenth: a hard right to Mormeck’s ribs saw the Frenchman visibly sag, and a hard right cross to his jaw had him reeling. 

With Ibragimov now coming on strong, French referee Jean-Louis Legland interestingly picked this time to stop the fight and deduct a point from him for hitting behind the head.  Undaunted, Ibragimov continued to press, ending the round with a hard right to Mormeck’s by-now bruised torso.

The last two rounds saw both fighters tiring, with Mormeck definitely showing his age as he appeared utterly exhausted in his corner before heading out for round twelve.  Amidst a lot of holding mostly initiated by Mormeck, Ibragimov continued his focused assault to the Frenchman’s body, finally moving upstairs to land a combo to the head as Mormeck waited for the final bell to sound.

This writer had it 115-113 Ibragimov, reduced to 114-113 with the point deduction.  Judge Juan Manuel Garcia Reyes saw it much the same way (113-115 ), but Erkki Meronen (116-112) and Steve Weisfeld (116-111) disagreed, giving Mormeck the split decision win as the crowd went wild and Ibragimov pondered his first loss in ten fights.

Mormeck wins the previously vacant WBA International Heavyweight title with this victory — but of course, that is not the title coveted by heavyweights with any degree of ambition.

Mormeck’s name has been tossed around as the next opponent for heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko after his upcoming bout with England’s Dereck Chisora, but based on this performance, one where he was often either eating the larger man’s left jab or getting pushed around by him, the 215-pound former cruiserweight champion would be in very tough against the Ukrainian star.   

Ibragimov, because of his larger frame and more defensive style, might actually fare a little better than Mormeck against Wladimir, but with this loss, that matchup now appears highly unlikely. 

Fans of the heavyweight division, then, can only hope this Saturday’s Alexander Dimitrenko – Albert Sosnowski matchup provides a bit more clarity as to who might ultimately provide a real challenge to the Klitschko brothers, as Mormeck – Ibragimov ultimately left things as muddled as ever.

Kelly Pavlik faces a new battle outside of the ropes.

By Johnny Walker 

Back in 2008, when middleweight champion Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik, 28, of Youngstown, Ohio, defeated ex-champ Jermain Taylor for the second time, his future prospects in boxing seemed limitless.

Pavlik was set to be boxing’s newest American superstar, a working class kid from small town USA made good. 

Soon he had his own line of Affliction t-shirts, and was looked upon by the boxing community in the US as a possible savior for the sport, someone who could elevate boxing from its current niche status back into the mainstream.  

Losses to Bernard Hopkins in 2008 and to Sergio Martinez earlier this year dimmed Pavlik’s star, however, and rumors began to circulate that all was not well in his personal life, although these rumors were constantly denied by those around Pavlik. 

When Pavlik pulled out of a fight with Brian Vera on the undercard of the recent Manny Pacquiao – Antonio Margarito contest, the chatter about Pavlik having a problem reached a deafening pitch.

Now comes the news that Pavlik has checked into the Betty Ford Center in California to deal with alcohol abuse issues. 

People around boxing, according to ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael, have known about Pavlik’s issues with the bottle for a long time.  “Pavlik’s drinking problems are widely known in boxing even though nobody on his team will say it publicly.  But it is a major problem,” Rafael said during an online chat on November 5. 

After all the denials, however, the latest word from Pavlik’s team that their fighter is not only in rehab, but may be done with boxing for good.

Apparently an 8-hour intervention-like “conversation” between Pavlik, his parents, and his wife, Samantha, led to the fighter’s decision to check himself into rehab.  According to Pavlik’s father, Mike, his son was unable to handle the fame that came with being the middleweight champion.

“I’m not complaining about him winning the title, but it was instant stardom after that and the demands on his life became so hard and so intense that he couldn’t deal with it,” the senior Pavlik told Yahoo Sports.  “Everywhere he went, everyone wanted to buy the champ a beer. He didn’t want to disappoint anyone or say no and it wound up causing him a pretty serious problem.”

Pavlik’s recent career trajectory is almost certainly linked to his alcohol problem: according to co-manager Cameron Dunkin, this is Pavlik’s second stint in rehab this year, the first being a two-week stay at Betty Ford shockingly only 10 days before he lost his WBC and WBO middleweight titles to Martinez.

Now, Pavlik plans to stay in rehab as long as it takes to correct his behavior.

“Three months, six months, whatever it takes, he’s going to do it,” said Dunkin, who also admitted, “I don’t know if he’ll ever fight again.”

Ruslan Chagaev (l), had all he could handle from Travis Walker

By Johnny Walker

Ruslan Chagaev of Uzbekistan, the mandatory contender for David Haye’s WBA heavyweight title, barely got by tough American journeyman Travis Walker Friday night in a fan-friendly, eight-round “tune-up” scrap in Hamburg, Germany.

Those who like to loudly bemoan the lack of back and forth action in today’s heavyweight division surely would have been silenced by the aggressive tactics of both Chagaev and Walker.  Chagaev, who has been talking up an upcoming 2011 contest with Britain’s controversial “Hayemaker,” had the most to lose coming in to this bout, and Walker did his best to take advantage of that.

Chagaev started well in rounds one and two, showing why he formerly held the belt that now resides around David Haye’s waist.  Showing fast hands and moving well, the southpaw Chagaev established a pattern of landing flush lead lefts to Walker’s face, and also backed up the American with some lightning fast combos.

Walker, as round two progressed, eventually started to get some rhythm going, and thudded a cracking uppercut into Chagaev’s sturdy chin in what would become a pattern of his own.

With Walker’s excitable and vociferous corner yelling for “right hands!” to the point of distraction in round three, it was Chagaev who landed a nifty uppercut of his own, followed by a flurry of lefts and rights.  Round four saw both fighters winging hard shots, most of which were blocked by gloves, with Chagaev again landing a thudding lead left near the end of the round.

The fifth round was one of the best in the fight: Walker came out aggressive, landing those “right hands” his corner had been begging for.  In what could be seen as an ominous sign for a future matchup with Haye, Chagaev proved vulnerable to repeated uppercuts, as Walker bullied the smaller man around the ring.  Yet another hard lead left from Chagaev only momentarily halted Walker’s progress, and both men flurried to end the round.

Rounds six and seven saw Chagaev, who looked a bit soft at 232, rapidly tiring from the fight’s hectic pace, while Walker got a second wind.  The superior upper body movement Chagaev displayed when handing giant Russian Nicolay Valuev his first loss (lifting the WBA title from him to boot) was now nowhere to be seen, and Walker took full advantage, muscling Chagaev into the corners and teeing off on him with hard shots.

The fight was very close (I had it dead even) heading into the last round, and Walker tried to keep up the pressure.  Chagaev, sensing that his title shot against Haye could be in jeopardy, started winging wild punches in the hope of taking Walker out.  Finally, both men were exhausted, having given the heavyweight division the kind of competitive fight it could use more of.

Chagaev, as the “hometown” favorite (he fights out of Germany), got the benefit of the doubt from the judges, who saw it 78-75, 77-75 and 77-76 in his favor (I scored it a draw).  Walker, however, gave a very good account of himself on this night.

The result now sets Chagaev up for a showdown with Haye . . . or does it? 

According to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, “I don’t see Haye going to Germany for that fight. He has the title and is much bigger in the UK than Chagaev is in Germany.”

“However,” Rafael continued, “I would be surprised if Chagaev is licensed in the UK because of his positive hepatitis tests. The medicals are tougher in the UK than Germany. That would make this a big mess.  It may have to go to a purse bid and if Chagaev’s side wins, it would probably be put in Germany, but I’d be surprised if Chagaev’s side won a purse bid if there was one.  Haye can bid much more because of the greater revenue he supplies from UK television.”

Stay tuned.

(www.streetbeatboxing.com)

“Just you and me pal!” 

By Johnny Walker

WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko has once again thrown down the gauntlet to his trash talking nemesis, WBA heavyweight king David Haye.

As controversy continues to swirl around the Hayemaker in the aftermath of last Saturday’s farcical title fight between Haye and the hapless Audley “A-Force” Harrison, Klitschko has offered to fight Haye next spring in a 50-50 deal, anywhere in the world where the fight makes the most financial sense.

“I hear about the great venue of Madison Square Garden for this fight,” Klitschko offered. “But I’m ready to fight in Germany, the United States or Great Britain.” 

“Wherever the most money is on the table,” he continued, “let’s fight in this place.”

Conventional wisdom as to which Klitschko brother would be the best bet for David Haye in terms of winning the fight has changed in the last few years.  Initially, it was thought Wladimir, because of his supposedly soft chin, would be more vulnerable than his iron-chinned older brother.

Then, after Vitali looked a bit jaded in fights with Kevin Johnson and Albert Sosnowski (even though he barely dropped a round in either bout), the thinking was that maybe he was finally slowing down, while Wlad, after annihilating top American contender Eddie Chambers, and then doing the same to ex-champion Samuel Peter, was firmly in his prime.

That was before Vitali hospitalized ex-champion Shannon Briggs, again giving boxing’s big thinkers pause—maybe the elder Klitschko brother is not quite over the hill after all?

At any rate, Klitschko manager Bernd Boente today made it clear that while either Klitschko brother is willing to consider fighting Haye in England, they are not about to let the WBA champion call all the shots.

“If England is where we can make the most money, then we’ll go there”, Boente told BoxingScene.com.  “But the fight will happen where we can make the most money. If Haye is going to tell us that it can only happen in England, then we will never agree to start negotiations. A negotiation is where everyone comes to the table with open minds and together they make a deal. But if he is going to start telling us what to do, the fight won’t happen.”

The Klitschkos are indeed champs—and it seems that they are not about to be treated as chumps.

By Johnny Walker

“Legitimizing every criticism ever made against him, the man known in the UK media as “Fraudley” and “A-Farce” took the money and ran, exiting the arena in a big hurry after doing a very good impression of a statue for three rounds.”

I wrote those words after watching Saturday’s WBA heavyweight title fight from Manchester, UK, between David Haye and Audley Harrison, not yet knowing of the furor that would erupt soon after the Haye won by stoppage in the third round.

Today, the UK media is buzzing with stories of possible unethical behavior by Haye and Harrison: Haye, for possibly carrying Harrison until the third round because of gambling wagers he, friends and family members had placed, and Harrison for his deer-in-the-headlights, shameful non-effort after weeks of confident pre-fight trash talking.

According to The Sun newspaper,  Haye told a reporter after the fight, “I had a lot of money on the third round as did my friends and family – so I didn’t want to let them down by doing it too early.”

This statement possibly answers the question of why Haye fought almost as negatively as the frozen, near-comatose Harrison did over the first two rounds, when referee Luis Pabon actually had to admonish the participants to stop staring at each other and feinting and to start trading punches.

Yet in the third round, with Harrison still doing almost nothing, Haye turned on the heat momentarily and easily finished off “A-Farce” in a way that suggested he could have done this at any time, including the first minute of the fight. 

Given all of Harrison’s confident talk about “fulfilling his destiny” leading up to the fight, his total lack of effort seemed mysterious.  Now, in light of Haye’s gambling admission, more suspicions are being raised, with some fans wondering if an arrangement of some kind between the two former (and future?) friends had been reached before the fight even began.  Some are calling for an investigation into the whole affair, which, if not illegal, certainly has the appearance of being unethical.

Haye is now attempting to walk back his original statement by claiming that he didn’t personally put any money on the fight, but the damage has been done.  Although the British Boxing Board of Control has decided not to punish Haye, the fighter’s reputation has been sullied by this debacle, perhaps in a karmic payback for the Hayemaker’s decision to fight such an unworthy opponent in the first place. 

While Haye chose once again to deride what he sees as the low-quality opposition of the legitimate heavyweight champions after Saturday’s fight, it is not an outlandish proposition to say that either Samuel Peter or Shannon Briggs, the two most recent opponents of heavyweight kings Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, respectively, would have knocked out Harrison long before Haye got around to it on Saturday.

As for Audley Harrison, there seems little doubt that he is finished: who would ever pay to see him fight again after such a dismal showing in the biggest match of his life?  However, the “take the money and run” approach for the hapless Harrison may have hit a snag: as outraged UK boxing fans cry “rip-off,” the British Boxing Board of Control is considering withholding Harrison’s purse, said to be in excess of 1 million British pounds — a lot of money for someone who landed one clean punch over 7 minutes and 53 seconds of (non) action before being stopped. 

Surely all of this turmoil is a far cry from the glories that David Haye himself along with many of his supporters envisioned two years ago, when the Hayemaker entered the heavyweight ranks for good.  Knocking out a man who refuses to fight is not likely to impress anyone outside of Haye’s immediate circle; add to that the appearance of unethical behavior linked to gambling, and Haye’s career trajectory looks to be rapidly headed south.

Haye is still insisting that the Klitschko brothers need him more than he needs them, but after the Harrison farce, and with Haye still tiresomely insisting that he will retire in a year’s time, that no longer seems to be the case (if it ever was).

In fact, a win over one or both Klitschkos may be the only thing that can save David Haye’s heavyweight career from being remembered more for what he didn’t do, than for what he actually accomplished

by Johnny Walker

David Haye successfully defended his WBA paper title today at the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester, UK,  with a third-round TKO stoppage of Audley “A-Force” Harrison. 

The fight made a mockery of Haye’s criticism, which he repeated again after the fight, that the legitimate heavyweight champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko fight “fat Americans” and “bums” who are supposedly beneath the Hayemaker’s own exceedingly high standards.

In reality, Harrison made the recent efforts of Shannon Briggs and Sam Peter against the Klitschkos look downright heroic in comparison with his own pitiful non-effort against Haye.

Harrison, who talked very big during the lead-up to this farce, came up small when it was time for action.  Legitimizing every criticism ever made against him, the man known in the UK media as “Fraudley” and “A-Farce” took the money and ran, exiting the arena in a big hurry after doing a very good impression of a statue for three rounds.

Haye, who had predicted a third-round KO, was content to do almost as little as Harrison for the first two rounds, both men staring at each other and feinting but exchanging very little in the way of actual punches.  Referee Luis Pabon actually admonished both men to start exchanging at one particularly static point in the fight, as the disgruntled fans in attendance rained down boos upon the ring. 

Haye made good on his prediction in the third round, as Harrison continued his frozen man impression.   A series of hard shots put Audley on the mat, though for some reason (as he surely didn’t want to fight) Harrison beat the count.  Haye then attacked him with another flurry and Pabon mercifully stopped one of the worst heavyweight title fights since … well, since Haye won the WBA title from Nikolay Valuev.

More entertaining than the (non) fight was the hyperbole dished out by the UK Sky Sports announcers.  Jim Watt, notorious in Britain for having called the Haye-Valuev fight for the Russian giant, seemed very eager to make amends for his past sins, raving about Haye’s win as if he had just knocked out a combination of Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson, rather than the anemic Fraudley Harrison.

The only thing funnier than Watt was Haye himself, preening and bigging himself up in the post-fight interview as angry boos still reverberated around the arena.  Pressed about his desire to make a fight with one or both of the Klitschkos happen, Haye finally promised the audience that “those fights will happen next year.” 

Of course, we’ve heard similar promises from the Hayemaker before. 

As for tonight’s fight, if Haye is truly serious about retiring in a year’s time, this was a tragic waste of his remaining time in the sport– and of the paying customers’ hard-earned money.