Boxing: Erislandy Lara

Smith makes quick work of Davis

May, 3, 2014
May 3
12:24
AM ET
LAS VEGAS -- Ishe Smith may not have been fighting his opponent of choice on Friday night, but he took care of business just the same.

The former junior middleweight titlist saw his original bout with interim titlist Erislandy Lara called off when Lara accepted a July 12 pay-per-view date with Canelo Alvarez. If Smith, 35, was put off in any way, he took out his frustration on replacement opponent Ryan Davis at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Smith jumped out of the gate to hurt Davis, 35, in the opening round with power shots before dropping him on a hard left hook in Round 2. Davis (24-14-3, 9 KOs), who entered the bout having lost his last four and five of his last six, was counted out at 2:59.

The performance was about as exciting as you’ll see from Smith (26-6, 12 KOs), who has often faced criticism for his defensive style.

“I understand the sport. You have to be exciting and you have to be a little more aggressive,” Smith said. “I’ve never been hurt and I’ve never been down, so I decided to be more aggressive tonight.”

Smith became the first native of Las Vegas to win a world title when he scored an emotional victory over Cornelius Bundrage in February 2013 before losing his title in his next fight against Carlos Molina on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez undercard in September.

Despite losing out on the chance against Lara, Smith remains confident that a better opportunity will come his way.

“The good thing about having great promoters is that they can go out and make all of the deals,” said Smith, who believes Alvarez will defeat Lara. “As long as I deliver on my end, it’s on me. No excuses. This time is on me. If I take care of business, I know I can get a shot.”

Bey outlasts Herrera



Well ahead late in the fight, Mickey Bey found himself in a precarious and unfortunately familiar situation after being floored by Alan Herrera in Round 7.

But for Bey, a Las Vegas native, this would be no repeat of his final-round knockout loss to John Molina in July.

Bey (20-1-1, 10 KOs), who suffered a cut above his left eye in Round 9, outboxed Herrera throughout and recovered well from the late knockdown to claim a unanimous decision (97-92, 98-92 twice).

Mexico’s Herrera (32-6, 21 KOs), 24, who surprised Bey with a left hook to force the knockdown, was unable to capitalize. Bey, who boxed well and countered cleanly throughout, came back in Round 8 to hurt Herrera with a right hand.

“I was kind of off balance and he caught me with a good shot,” Bey said. “He was tough. But I perfected what we worked on in the gym.”

Bey, 30, put a handful of early rounds in the bank by jabbing to the body and opened up a cut below Herrera’s right eye with a left hook in Round 5.

Cuellar defends title



Jesus Cuellar was aggressive throughout and held off a typical late rally from Rico Ramos to defend his interim featherweight title.

Cuellar (24-1, 18 KOs) overcome a point deduction for rabbit punching in Round 8 to claim a unanimous decision by scores of 116-110, 117-109 and 114-112.

The 27-year-old southpaw from Argentina beat Ramos (23-4, 12 KOs), a former junior featherweight titlist, to the punch throughout and consistently backed him up to the ropes. Although Ramos stepped up his activity level in the closing rounds, it proved to be too little, too late.

Alvarez, Angulo kick off promotion

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
5:05
PM ET
Canelo Alvarez-Alfredo AnguloGene Blevins/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsCanelo Alvarez will face Alfredo Angulo, his first fight since his lopsided loss against Floyd Mayweather.

LOS ANGELES -- Canelo Alvarez kicked off the promotion for his impending return to the ring on Tuesday, going face to face with Alfredo Angulo, whom he’ll take on March 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The matchup will mark the former junior middleweight titleholder’s first fight since a deflating split-decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September -- Alvarez’s first defeat as a professional.

Why 'Perro' Angulo? Because he's a strong fighter who always comes forward, withstands punishment, someone who comes to fight.

-- Canelo Alvarez
"It was a great experience for me, a fight that taught me a lot, and that education is something that will serve me well in future fights," Alvarez said during Tuesday’s promotional event, held at an outdoor L.A. restaurant before a crowd of fans and media. “So I’m training with everything I’ve got to return this March 8.”

It’s an interesting pairing -- two Spanish-speaking, Mexican-born fighters spearheading a pay-per-view event (Angulo’s first as a headliner) in the U.S. But both fighters resonate with American fans, and the hard-core among them surely recognize that an Alvarez-Angulo fight likely will make for far better theater than Canelo’s matchup with Mayweather.

"Why ‘Perro’ Angulo?" Alvarez asked at Tuesday’s event. "Because he’s a strong fighter who always comes forward, withstands punishment, someone who comes to fight.”

Then, in a clear swipe at Mayweather: “Fans want to see a fight, not someone who runs all the time.”

Angulo (22-3, 18 KOs), who won an interim title at 154 pounds, has been through some wars -- especially recently. But although he is just 2-2 in his past four fights, he is by no means a soft touch. Even in defeats to Erislandy Lara (June) and James Kirkland (2011) during that stretch, he nearly finished each opponent more than once.

"It’s a very hard fight against a difficult rival,” Angulo said of the Alvarez fight. “I want to thank all my fans. They are the best."

In the undercard, relentless puncher Leo Santa Cruz (26-0-1, 15 KOs) will defend his junior featherweight title against Cristian Mijares (49-7-2, 24 KOs).

"It's going to be a war, and I’m ready to finish with my hand held high, beating a great champion such as Mijares," Santa Cruz said.

Also on the card, Carlos Molina (22-5-2, 6 KOs) will defend his junior middleweight title against prospect Jermall Charlo (17-0, 13 KOs), and burgeoning action fighter Omar Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs) will take on Canelo’s older brother, Ricardo Alvarez (23-2-3, 14 KOs) in a lightweight bout.

What's next for Canelo Alvarez?

September, 17, 2013
9/17/13
1:35
PM ET
The future of Canelo Alvarez might have a few more options compared to what might be in store for Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Golden Boy Promotions could have the right recipe to help Alvarez make a huge comeback with a competitive fight.

While the buzz about Mayweather's next challenge included facing Amir Khan at London's Wembley Stadium or Danny Garcia in Las Vegas, the options for Alvarez are quite interesting, including the possibility of pursuing another world title.

Alfredo Angulo, Erislandy Lara and Carlos Molina -- who became a junior middleweight titlist on Saturday after defeating Ishe Smith -- are at the top of Golden Boy's list to become Alvarez's next opponent in 2014.

Molina is the only one of the three candidates who is not promoted by Golden Boy, but a title defense against Alvarez is viable. Despite recently losing to Lara, the crowd-pleasing Angulo (22-3, 18 KOs) still belongs to the elite group at 154 pounds. He is a bit slower than Alvarez, but has more punching power, so it could be quite a competitive challenge for both fighters.

Lara (18-1-2, 12 KOs) got off the canvas twice to defeat Angulo in June, after Angulo could not continue after suffering an eye injury in the 10th round, but left a few doubts. The interim junior middleweight titlist from Cuba is an effective and elusive fighter.

Molina (22-5-2, 6 KOs) is not exactly a powerful puncher, but he can be a nightmare inside the ring. According to Mayweather, Molina would be a nice fit for Alvarez to show his boxing skills, something he wasn't able to do Saturday.

Victor Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 KOs) also might be another option, despite being out of action for more than a year. Ortiz was next-in-line to fight Alvarez last September, but a broken jaw suffered in a clash against Josesito Lopez in June 2012 scratched those plans.

Former junior middleweight titlists Cornelius Bundrage and Cory Spinks are also possible opponents who, despite their recent slumps, could generate an attractive fight for Showtime.

The Alvarez camp also may wait for the winner of the Miguel Cotto-Delvin Rodriguez bout, set for Oct. 5 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., due to Cotto's status as a promotional free agent.

What more could Angulo have given us?

June, 9, 2013
6/09/13
5:36
PM ET
Alfredo Angulo and Erislandy LaraTom Hogan/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsAlfredo Angulo had Erislandy Lara on the ropes before suffering an injury and calling it quits.

CARSON, Calif. -- Cus D'Amato once said, "When two men are fighting, what you're watching is more a contest of wills than of skills, with the stronger will usually overcoming the skill."

On Saturday night in Carson, Calif., Erislandy Lara's demonstrative advantage of skill over Alfredo Angulo only served to inflame Angulo's reserve of willpower. The elegance of Lara's skills simply weren't capable of removing Angulo's will from the equation of the fight. Then, in the fourth round, Angulo's fiendish efforts were rewarded when he dropped Lara, the first knockdown Lara has suffered as a professional. For the duration of the round, every fan in attendance stood to roar approval. Round after round, Angulo took even more risks, applying pressure and striving to close out the fight while eating enough leather to reconfigure his face. Again Angulo dropped Lara, yet the Cuban got off the deck to continue.

In the 10th round, Angulo ate nearly everything Lara threw at him in order to land something meaningful of his own. Then a crisp left hand from Lara struck the swelling over Angulo's eye. Angulo grimaced as another left followed, then another, and finally the referee called off the bout, fearing a broken orbital bone.

Boos. Beer tossed into the ring. "Tijuana style!" a writer next to me laughed. Everywhere you looked, aggrieved faces contorted in expressions of betrayal.

It was all a little incomprehensible to me. Everyone on hand had enjoyed a brilliant fight stopped only after one fighter's health was gravely in danger.

Boos?

Wait a minute. When exactly was enough enough? What was the expectation here?

Victor Ortiz quit against both of Saturday's headliners, Marcos Maidana and Josesito Lopez. Were those unreasonable decisions? In one of those fights, Ortiz's jaw was broken in two places. Should he have been booed for not fighting on with a broken jaw, as Muhammad Ali did against Ken Norton? Ali was praised for such courage. Oscar De La Hoya was fully capable of getting off his stool to continue against Manny Pacquiao, yet sensibly recognized the futility. Does he get a pass? At the time, his corner asked if he felt like continuing, and Oscar didn't launch much of a protest when it was suggested he not bother. Joe Frazier was legally blind in the only good eye he had left against Ali in the "Thrilla in Manilla." Was his trainer, Eddie Futch, right to call off the fight? Did Futch betray his fighter?

What about the most famous quitter in boxing history? Is Duran's "No Mas" a more defining moment in his career than his victory over Sugar Ray Leonard in their first fight? For many, it is. Mike Tyson notoriously looked for a way out against Evander Holyfield when it was clear Holyfield had his number. Suddenly, Tyson's cowardice in gnawing off Holyfield's ear overshadowed nearly everything he had accomplished as a fighter. Twice, Andrew Golota snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Riddick Bowe when he swung gratuitously low. His career never recovered.

So in boxing, when is it acceptable to quit? How much abuse is a fighter expected to endure before he can be allowed to show some concern for his own welfare? Anyone who has been around fighters knows they all share the same secret: They are more afraid of embarrassment and humiliation than injury. Do fans and writers use this fact against them in what we celebrate or criticize?

In the documentary "Facing Ali," nearly half the fighters involved required subtitles despite speaking English, their speech slurred by the physical toll of their ring lives. This was their reward for testing their furthermost physical and mental boundaries.

As Guillero Rigondeaux's recent near-shutout of 2012 ESPN.com fighter of the year Nonito Donaire demonstrated, the days of fans cheering Willie Pep for winning a round without throwing a punch are long over. Arturo Gatti's induction into the Boxing Hall of Fame is further testament of boxing giving fans what they clearly reserve their loudest cheers for: fighters who lay their lives on the line at every possible moment of every fight. The truth is, fighters have always done this. We just didn't used to boo the ones who committed the cardinal sin of trying to minimize some of the risk.

CHICAGO -- If Carlos Molina is a snake-bitten fighter, the only evidence that betrayed it Friday at the UIC Pavilion was a small cut near his right eye -- which he wore, along with a smile on his face, in a cramped locker room after his main event bout.

It was virtually the sum total of damage that Molina suffered -- on a head-butt, no less -- in a start-to-finish beatdown of former two-division titlist Cory Spinks. Ringside judges scored it 119-106 (twice) and 120-105 for Molina. ESPN.com had it 119-106 for Molina.

“He clinched me and he held me, he bought himself a little more time, but he should have given me a little more space,” Molina said of the butt.

It was that sort of fight for Molina (21-5-2, 6 KOs), who did what he could with what he had in front of him. Facing constant pressure from Molina, Spinks countered occasionally, but his stock answer seemed to be to clinch, drop his head or get on his bike. Molina had implied before the fight that he’d be gunning for a knockout, but Spinks did everything in his power not to comply.

“Of course you always want to put on a good show,” Molina said. “Fans love a good show, and I’m a No. 1 boxing fan, too. I’m not just a boxer -- I love boxing. So I try to put on a good show but at the same time come out with the victory.”

So Molina settled for the latter, delivering a withering body attack to take out the 34-year-old Spinks’ legs. He often led with shots downstairs, and he frequently chopped at Spinks’ hips and ribs in the clinch.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Molina and Cory Spinks
Tom Barnes/MPsportimages.comCarlos Molina didin't get the KO, but managed to punish Cory Spinks during 12 dominating rounds.
The work paid off in the second half of the fight as Spinks slowed down, and Molina added one adjustment that seemed to sap the last of Spinks’ spirit: In the eighth round, he began arcing uppercuts at Spinks’ chin when he would duck into his exaggerated crouch. There was little left for Spinks to do but hold on -- and in the ninth, he was docked a point for doing exactly that. A round later, a bent-over Spinks took a looping right hand across the mouth that punctuated another Molina combination, fell forward and dropped his gloves to the canvas for a knockdown.

“I was working that body,” Molina said, “and I felt him lose his breath a little bit, and then I came back with the right hand.”

Molina had endured a near-Shakespearean run of recent bad luck in the ring, but Friday’s bout proved to be more comic (in its ease) than tragic. Although he didn’t get the decisive ending he’d hoped for -- and the lack of finishing power, especially in a fight where Molina admitted to more aggressively seeking a knockout, has to be considered a mark against him -- he is rewarded a mandatory bout against the winner of the Feb. 23 title fight between Cornelius "K9" Bundrage and Ishe Smith.

After being on the south end of squirrely decisions against Erislandy Lara and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., not to mention a shady disqualification against James Kirkland, it seems a more-than-just reward.

In the featured bout, Jose Luis Castillo (64-11-1, 55 KOs) looked every one of his 39 years, dropping a clear decision to Antwone Smith (22-4-1, 12 KOs). Although Castillo hooked gamely to the body throughout the fight and even had Smith bleeding from the mouth in the later rounds, his legs had long since deserted him by then. A stationary target waving a token guard, he took jab after jab from Smith, who coasted 100-90, 98-92, 99-91.

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