Boxing: Donovan George

CHICAGO -- There's a great line in "The Untouchables" when Malone is schooling Ness in the ways of creative police work, pressing him to up the ante to catch Capone and, if necessary, bring a gun to a knife fight.

"That's the Chicago way," Malone hisses.

Well, middleweight Donovan George brought a howitzer to the UIC Pavilion on Friday night -- his booming right hand -- and wasn't afraid to use it against David Lopez, who fought craftily for 10 rounds but certainly seemed outgunned throughout. George hummed straight and overhand rights upstairs that routinely landed flush and backed up Lopez, who peppered back with counter shots from time to time but with nothing resembling the same effect as George's shots.

Stunningly, the ringside judges didn't see it that way. With scores of 97-94 Lopez, 96-94 George and 95-95, the fight ended in a split draw.

As many would tell you, that's boxing's way.

It was a tough pill to swallow for George (24-3-2, 21 KOs), a local Chicago fighter who had promised to put on a show and made no secret of his intentions, all but ignoring his jab in search of a decisive power shot to put Lopez down early.

"I'm not the kind of guy who's going to sit here and talk bad about the judges," George said. "But I think they made a bad decision."

To his credit, Mexico's Lopez (41-13-1, 23 KOs) showed incredible resilience, eating all of George's best shots. When a flush overhand right to his mug bounced Lopez off the ropes in the middle of the third round, George tried to finish him. The crowd erupted as George swarmed Lopez with combinations and chased him when Lopez got on his bike.

But Lopez rode it out, survived the round and, in the fifth, turned in perhaps his own best round.

The fact that George threw such heavy artillery at Lopez and it didn't faze him seemed to frustrate George. He was less active in the middle rounds and his punches seemed to lose a bit of steam.

Still, he was landing the bigger, cleaner blows of the two men, and appeared to connect on more punches overall in the greater number of rounds. When George hammered home two more right hands with about 20 seconds left in the fight and made a last-ditch effort to finish Lopez rather than settle, there was no sense of anticipation left in the building. It looked for all the world like a clear decision for George. (ESPN.com scored it 98-92.)

"Lopez fought a good fight, and I'm not a crybaby," George said. "This is boxing, and it is what it is. I'm just gonna swallow my pride and go back in the gym."

In the co-main event, former welterweight titlist Kermit Cintron and Adrian Granados also fought to a split draw. But in this case, theirs was truly a fight that neither guy deserved to lose. After a fun-to-watch and hard-to-score action battle that gave a solid account of both fighters, the judges scored it 96-94 Granados, 97-93 Cintron, 95-95.

Cintron (33-5-2, 28 KOs) fought sluggish and slow at the outset, allowing Granados (11-2-1, 7 KOs) to duck and counter in the early rounds. But his activity and timing gradually improved, and Granados' face was bloodied by the fourth.

Granados' energy never wavered, though. He kept pressing Cintron and, even when he absorbed punishment, almost always answered back in kind. In the later rounds, Granados was worse for wear but still had a spark that Cintron lacked. Midway through the 10th, Granados was bouncing on his toes and grinning through his mouthpiece. He rushed Cintron, landing several flurries, and tried to wrestle out of a clinch when he seemed to have Cintron in trouble.

Although Granados couldn't land anything definitive before the final bell and likely was disappointed with the draw, the result certainly did more for his career than George's split draw did for his.

George, Lopez bring power to FNF

March, 21, 2013
3/21/13
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To move up in the world, former super middleweight contender Donovan George seems to understand he may first need to make a move down.

George is dropping to 160 pounds for Friday's fight at the UIC Pavilion in his hometown of Chicago, where he'll take on former world title challenger David Lopez in the 10-round main event in this week's edition of "Friday Night Fights."

Lopez (41-13-0, 23 KOs), of Mexico, will be seeking a win to catapult him toward another title opportunity, while George (24-3-1, 21 KOs) needs to firm up his status as a 160-pound contender. Both are big fighters who throw lots of heavy punches -- the kind of matchup that often leads to power-charged, all-action fights.

"I'm going to make a statement with this fight," George said. "Mr. Lopez has fought all the top guys, so when I beat him it'll be a message to the other middleweights in the world."

Lopez, 35, has lost just once in the past eight years -- and that defeat came in a decision against the still-unbeaten Austin Trout in a junior middleweight title bout in June 2011. In his one bout since, Lopez outpointed Julio Garcia in 10 rounds last May.

Before the Trout loss, Lopez had accumulated a streak of 16 consecutive victories, during which he took care of quality fighters such as Billy Lyell, Saul Roman and Michel Rosales. After rising to the top of one sanctioning body's rankings, Lopez earned and won an elimination bout.

"Donovan George has never fought anyone like me," Lopez said during the media conference to promote the fight. "Donovan, thank you for the opportunity and may God bless you. Let the best man win."

George, 28, is making a quick return following his February knockout of James Cook at the same UIC Pavilion where he'll face Lopez on Friday. A frontal and aggressive fighter, George helped put on several spectacular recent bouts: After waging (and losing) an all-out war with undefeated Edwin Rodríguez last March on the Sergio Martinez-Matthew Macklin undercard, George stopped Dionisio Miranda in August and then, in front of a full house at the Bell Centre in Montreal, suffered a 12th-round TKO after a frantic battle with Adonis Stevenson in a fight of the year candidate in October.

George and Lopez, who share a similar style, likely will turn the fight into a phone-booth brawl, with lots of exchanges at short distance. Lopez has a great overhand right and a steady jab that he could use to snuff George's aggressive attack. And then there's the southpaw riddle that George must solve: His most recent lost came at the hands of Stevenson, who, like Lopez, is a lefty.

In addition to the difficulties of the weight cut, George also will be giving away advantages in reach, height and experience. If he's intimidated, he doesn't show it. In a chat with ESPN.com's SportNation early this week, George acknowledged the deficits but also claimed that he'll be "the strongest man" on fight night, when he says he'll weigh nearly 180 pounds.

"I made a lot of sacrifices in preparing for this fight," George said.

In the co-main event, Adrian Granados (11-2-1, 7 KOs) will face former welterweight titlist Kermit Cintron (33-5-1, 28 KOs), who is coming off a 16-month layoff.

Granados, 23, a member of the 2008 Mexican Olympic team, is already a solid prospect -- one with four years of pro experience. Now living in Cicero, Ill., he has won his two most recent fights by knockout.

But in Cintron, he will be facing a 12-year veteran who has battled opponents such as Sergio Martinez, Antonio Margarito, Paul Williams, Carlos Molina and Alfredo Angulo. Another top fighter -- Canelo Alvarez -- stopped Cintron in his most recent bout, in November 2011.

The layoff has been a long one for the native Puerto Rican, and he will return at 147 pounds, a division at which Cintron hasn't fought since 2008. Still, much like George, he considers it an advantage even at an age when cutting weight typically becomes more difficult.

"I was never a 154-pounder," Cintron said, "and I was always fighting guys that weighed 175 pounds on fight night. I am a legitimate welterweight."

Stevenson batters George, lines up Froch

October, 13, 2012
10/13/12
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There's a point in every horror movie when the audience begins to question whether the villain is human after absorbing so much damage only to keep marching forward.

Donovan George had the fans in Montreal thinking the same exact thing after his ultra-gutsy effort in defeat against Quebec resident Adonis Stevenson in their super middleweight title eliminator Friday night at the Bell Centre.

Knocked down five times before referee Marlon B. Wright called a halt to the bout 55 seconds into the 12th round, George (23-3-1, 20 KOs) was never truly out of the fight and nearly stole the show from what became an impressive and thorough performance from Stevenson (19-1, 16 KOs).

"You a f------ warrior, man," Stevenson told an emotional George while the two fighters embraced after the bout. "Respect. Respect."

With the victory, Stevenson became the No. 1 contender for IBF titlist Carl Froch -- but he almost didn't get there, even in winning a wild thriller that was postponed twice in the past two months.

George, 27, didn't simply prove he could take a beating; the Chicago native was able to dramatically save himself from the verge of being stopped on multiple occasions to stun Stevenson with powerful right hands, each time nearly stealing the momentum of the bout.

Stevenson, a southpaw, built an early lead on the scorecards by working the body and landing a series of stinging left hands from multiple angles. He floored George twice in a dramatic fifth round, only to see George get off the ropes to hurt him with multiple right hands as the two fighters brawled until the bell.

George hit the canvas again in the sixth round on another body shot before running out of gas in the 12th round as Stevenson emptied the tank with combinations.

The victory allowed Stevenson, a native of Haiti, to seemingly make the leap from devastating puncher to legitimate contender at 168 pounds. With knockouts in his past nine victories -- including many of the highlight-reel variety -- Stevenson is surely a tough out for anyone in the division.

A potential date with Froch, who will defend his title against Yusaf Mack in England on Nov. 17, has the makings of pure excitement considering the way Stevenson has been able to mix hand speed and body punching with his dangerous left hand.

More important, it's also a fight that the 35-year-old Stevenson, a veteran of just 20 professional fights, could legitimately win.

Lemieux continues comeback with thrilling KO

Following back-to-back upset defeats, 23-year-old middleweight David Lemieux of Montreal continued his comeback with a knockout of the year candidate against Alvaro Gaona.

Lemieux (27-2, 26 KOs), a former prospect who suffered stunning defeats to Marco Antonio Rubio in April 2011 and Joachim Alcine last December, won his second straight bout by knockout.

After knocking down Gaona (11-2, 7 KOs), 27, of Mexico, with a straight right hand midway through the first round, Lemieux came back with a looping right hand and a textbook short left hook to knock his opponent cold at 2:48 of the opening round. Gaona, whose head bounced off the canvas twice upon impact, was able to walk off on his own power after the fight.

It's unclear whether Lemieux has what it takes to someday become the best fighter in his division. But with the kind of exciting power in both hands and style that originally created buzz throughout the sport, it almost doesn't matter. There will be plenty of fun fights for Lemieux to pick from as long as he keeps climbing the ladder back to contention.

From main event to major bout for Molina?

August, 16, 2012
8/16/12
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Carlos MolinaChris Cozzone/Fightwireimages.comA bit more exposure may be all that Carlos Molina needs to land a top-shelf opponent at 168 pounds.
In a year when so many fights are being postponed or scrapped, the silver lining is that cancellations help other deserving fighters gain much-needed TV exposure. And this week's "Friday Night Fights" season finale is a prime example.

With super middleweight contender Adonis Stevenson's hand injury scuttling a main event title eliminator against Donovan George, the co-feature was moved up, putting one of boxing's unsung heroes in the spotlight. In a 10-round junior middleweight bout, Mexico's Carlos Molina (19-5-2, 6 KOs), fighting out of Chicago, will face Cuba's Damian Frias (19-4-1, 10 KOs), currently living in Miami, in what could be viewed as karma working for Molina after a couple of years of hard work and uneven results.

Molina arrived on the scene in a scrappy 2005 draw with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and although he lost their rematch, Molina stood his ground and continued to mingle with the top dogs in the division. He dropped consecutive eight-rounders against unbeaten contenders Wayland Willingham and Mike Alvarado in his next two bouts, but then ripped off an 11-0-1 streak that was capped by a win over former welterweight titlist Kermit Cintron.

But even that run came with its share of tough luck. In a bout in which he was a late replacement, Molina drew with hot Cuban prospect Erislandy Lara despite most observers giving the nod to Molina after 10 rounds of back-and-forth action. And in March, following the Cintron bout, Molina turned in a solid effort against fellow contender James Kirkland but was dropped to the canvas at the bell to end the 10th round and was controversially disqualified when one of his cornermen entered the ring during the ensuing eight-count.

"I was doing what I trained to do, which was apply pressure, work his body and push him back," Molina said about the Kirkland fight. "I wanted to do a little bit of everything, and I did. I was not hurt in the 10th round. I was ready to fight the full 12."

His status as a professional opponent du jour and regular underdog doesn't bother Molina, especially after recently outperforming his most notable foes.

"Mentally, I take it as an advantage," Molina said. "When somebody says that you can't do this or you can't beat this guy, it makes you work harder to prove that you can. I like the way I did it, and I wouldn't change it for anything else."

In order to keep adding to his growing résumé, Molina will have to go through a less talented but highly motivated Frias. A converted southpaw and boxer-puncher with a decent record against quality opposition, Frias hopes to build on his most recent outing, last September's upset of Henry Crawford. It was Frias' third straight win following an 0-3-1 skid.

"I'm a learning pro," said Frias, the son of a former amateur fighter in Cuba. "I only had three amateur fights, but I got a good team -- head trainer John David Jackson, who was a southpaw just like me -- who I listen to. I don't just go out there and throw punches. Anybody can just throw punches, but skills win fights."

The co-main event will now feature Chicago's George (22-2-1, 19 KOs) against replacement Dionisio Miranda (21-7-2, 18 KOs), of Colombia, in a 10-rounder that will probably fail to match the intensity expected from the original bout with Stevenson. Still, it's a fight that could decide who stays in the conversation for significant fights at 168 pounds and who slips into trialhorse territory.

Coming off a loss to contender Edwin Rodriguez (and with a 2-2 mark over his past four outings), George -- who has an illustrious amateur background -- can begin working out of his rut against a proven contender in Miranda, a tough customer with a checkered past that includes victories over Sebastien Demers and Lajuan Simon mixed with defeats to Peter Quillin, Giovanny Lorenzo, Roman Karmazin, Renan St. Juste and, more recently, Avtandil Khurtsidze. That fight happened in mid-2011, so Miranda will have the double challenge of shaking off his ring rust and stepping in against a fighter who had earned the right to face one of the toughest super middleweights in the world.

"I have a really bad taste in my mouth from the last fight, so I am more motivated than ever now," George said. "We dropped the ball -- I didn't fight good and he didn't do his best, and we acknowledge that. We know we didn't do our best, so this is a chance, basically, for us to redeem ourselves. We're going to go out there and do the best we can, and go out fighting and get a big win."

With the winner slated to meet Stevenson later in the year, the only concern for George should be to stay healthy and finally make that fight happen. A win against Miranda isn't something he can take for granted, but he should be able to pull through to set up a Stevenson fight, with the winner finally getting a title shot, likely against England's Carl Froch.

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