Boxing: Gabriel Bracero

Bracero wants Garcia, or Zab-Paulie winner

November, 20, 2013
Sunset Park, Brooklyn, product Gabriel Bracero is pulsing with desire. The welterweight is coming off his career best win, and it is quite clear he feels he is in a preordained position, his time has come and the spoils of his toil and combat are soon to be his.

It remains to be seen, however, who he can fight to claim that pot of gold he desires so fiercely, the one that will make the pain of being a pugilist, and the sacrifice and the 4:30 a.m. wake-up calls to do roadwork, and the time spent away from family pursuing the belts and compensation worth it.

But the 32-year-old with a 24-1 record who beat ex-title challenger Dmitriy Salita (via UD10) in a "Best of Brooklyn" showdown Nov. 9 at the Aviator Complex in Marine Park, has some ideas.

"Danny Garcia or the winner of Malignaggi-Judah, those are the two that I am looking at," said the Puerto-Rican born Bracero, who fights for promoter Lou DiBella and is trained by Tommy Gallagher.

"I have no problem fighting at 140 where I am world-rated or at 147 where my last fight took place and I am also world-rated. I feel great at either weight, I just want my shot. I want the biggest fights out there, and at 140, that is Danny Garcia. He is the best in the division right now in my eyes, and to be the best, you have to beat the best. I have nothing but respect for him and it would be an honor to fight him."

Bracero talked more about Garcia, the 25-year-old Philly-Rican with a 27-0 mark. "He has been putting on great performances, two of which recently took place in my hometown of Brooklyn. We both have similar aggressive styles. We are both Puerto Rican. We each have a huge fan base. Hands down, this is a great fight. It wasn't long ago that Danny was in the same position that I am in now, waiting for his big shot. I am hungry and I am ready to go."

Garcia is on a short list of viable foes to fight Floyd Mayweather, though, so if the story line arcs in that direction, Bracero has a Plan B, as any smart pugilist does.

"If the bout with Danny can't be made, why not fight the winner of Paulie versus Zab?" he said. "We are all Brooklynites. We all have big fan bases. It would be a perfect fight for Brooklyn and a perfect fight for the Barclays Center. I just want my shot. I want to prove to the world that I am one of the best fighters in my division and if given the opportunity, I know that I will not disappoint."

Salita weighs options, including retirement

November, 11, 2013
Dmitriy Salita told me a few weeks before his welterweight clash with Gabriel Bracero that this was a put-up or shut-up fight for him.

If he didn't win, if he couldn't beat a Bracero-level fighter, then he'd have to seriously consider hanging up the gloves, Salita said.

So, after Salita got dropped by Bracero, and ate a load of left hooks, and dropped a unanimous decision in a Battle of Brooklyn tussle at the Aviator Complex in Marine Park on Saturday night, I reached out to the 31-year-old Ukrainian-born hitter, who lives in Flatbush. I wondered what he thought about the fight, the decision, and his future, or lack thereof, in the sweet science.

"I am grateful to my team and the fans that came out to show their support for boxing in Brooklyn and to Lou DiBella for putting the fight together," Salita told me.

"It took me a few rounds to find my rhythm, and as I said before the fight that going in my disadvantage was inactivity." Salita had lost gloved up for real on Oct. 20, 2012.

"I feel that Gabriel fought his fight, it was physical," continued the 35-2-1 boxer, who also promotes cards at the gym he owns in Gravesend. "I got two cuts, on the top and back of my head, from elbows. I have to watch the fight on tape to evaluate it. I remember that my knockdown was an off-balance shot and I tried to come back strong in that round to show that." Salita hit the deck off a left hook in round eight.

"I also thought I knocked Tito down but it was ruled a slip. I am going to look at the fight, take some time off to be with friends and family, and see where we go from here."

Bracero beats Salita in Brooklyn war

November, 10, 2013
NEW YORK -- Gabriel Bracero's left hook landed early, often and hard on Dmitriy Salita in the main event at the Aviator Complex in Marine Park, Brooklyn, on Saturday night. The judges got it right, bless them, and saw it 97-92, 99-90, 100-89, as Bracero picked up a regional welterweight belt.

Bracero also gets an extra bit of satisfaction, as this was an old-school-style turf war, with Sunset Park (Bracero-Town) gaining bragging rights over Flatbush (Salita-ville).

As solid as his showing was, Bracero's postfight chat with Steve Farhood, for airing on Lou DiBella's "Broadway Boxing" show, made perhaps an even greater impact.

"I changed my life around, and I deserve to have my story out there," said the 32-year-old Bracero, addressing the major-cable network suits, who would be in a position to OK a meaningful bout, maybe even a title shot, versus a big name at 140 or 147 pounds. "I have a story!" His trainer-mentor Tommy Gallagher looked on, beaming with pride.

And Bracero, indeed, has a story to tell. He went to prison for almost six years after getting pinched for attempted murder, getting out in 2009. "I have friends still in prison who are afraid to come out," Bracero said, indicating that many believe they won't be able to navigate a complicated and expensive world. "I'm their hope!"

Salita, age 31, entered at 35-1-1, while Bracero was 22-1. An unofficial decibel poll, by the way, told me that Bracero fans vastly outnumbered Salita fans in the hangar-style arena. Would that affect the contest at all, if and when someone needed a pick-me-up?

Bracero scored the best punch of the first round, a left hook, which buzzed Salita. "Tito!" chants, for Bracero, were heard, and a roar erupted when another stiff left hook landed clean on Salita. A leaping left hook in the third for Bracero had the crowd jazzed. Salita kept dropping his right and getting popped. He picked it up in spots, but his hands were slower all night, and his reflexes weren't as sharp as we've seen, as he got hit with leads many a time.

Bracero scored a knockdown in the eighth, off the left hook. Salita backed up Bracero some in the ninth, but he was cut under his left eye and then had another gash on his hairline by Round 10. We went to the cards and breathed heavily in relief when the judges got it right.

One wonders if we'll see Salita again; the fighter had told me that he would consider exiting the sport if he couldn't beat a Bracero-level boxer. Well, he couldn't. I'm assuming there will be some serious contemplation in Salita's mind in the days ahead.

Junior featherweight Heather Hardy (7-0) heard on the grapevine that foe Laura Gomez (4-4) was no pushover, no easy "W" ripe to be picked. The Gerritsen Beach native, fighting a stone's throw from her old digs -- she now lives in Williamsburg -- pressured Gomez and had the ringside doc stepping in and pulling the plug to save the green loser from excess punishment. The end came at 1:44 of Round 2.

Promoter DiBella, "Combustible Lou" as I refer to him fondly, came to the press table and ranted -- quite rightly, I thought -- about the scorecard that read 76-76 in the Charlie Ota-Mike Ruiz fight. "I don't know the name of the judge that scored that, but I never want her working on one of my shows again!" he said. "That fight could have been stopped." (The judge in question was Robin Taylor, for the record.)

Indeed, Japan-resident Ota is a 154-pounder on the rise. He served notice, with his aggression and discipline, that he is close to a title crack in the near-ish future. He landed hard and clean on Ruiz, a Freeport, N.Y., resident, and you wouldn't have blinked twice if around Round 6 the Ruiz corner had kept their man on his stool. Instead, it went eight, and Ota needed the two cards reading 78-74 and 77-75 to rise to 24-1-1.

After, DiBella said he can see a scenario where Ota gets one more win and then nails down a title crack. Demetrius Andrade, a new 154-pound belt holder, is a name DiBella mentioned for the Ota wish list.

Bracero-Salita tops packed Aviator card

November, 8, 2013
Gabriel Bracero and Dmitriy Salita both made weight on Friday for their Saturday clash at the Aviator Complex in Brooklyn, a welterweight faceoff, which will have Brooklyn bragging rights up for grabs. Bracero, the Sunset Park, Brooklyn native who fell in with the wrong crowd, then became the wrong crowd, but righted himself after a jail stint, was 145 pounds.

The Flatbush resident Salita, who had a disappointing early night against in his debut on the megastage, against Amir Khan (TKO1 loss), in 2009, and has struggled to clamber back for another crack, was 147 pounds.

Lou DiBella will promote the card topped by the 22-1 Bracero and the 35-1-1 Salita. I expect to see a high volume scrap in this ten rounder, a distance fight, which I see as up for grabs. Salita has had good work in camp, heading to Detroit to get some Kronk nurturing from "Sugar" Hill, Emanuel Steward's nephew. Bracero has stuck local, with trainer Tommy Gallagher. But the way he's been talking has me wondering if his eye of the tiger isn't a shade fiercer.

"Woods, I'm not the fighter I was a year, or even six months ago," he's said. "I WANT this."

He said he gets it that the promoters and the networks reward heavy-duty aggression, and he knows a mere win isn't enough. He is seeking to put a stamp on it, a violent one, one that will leave a buzz bubbling among watchers and on Twitter days after. That is the way, he realizes, that he can scramble up some notches in the rankings, and get the sort of opportunity Salita had against Khan.

I expect the Aviator to enjoy one of the biggest and most electric crowds for boxing it has seen. Heather Hardy, formerly of Gerritsen Beach, now living in Williamsburg, puts her 6-0 record on the line against 4-3 Mexican Laura Gomez. Also, Charlie Ota, who makes Japan his home-base, puts his 23-1-1 mark up against 17-7 Mike Ruiz of Freeport, N.Y. Another local, a kid who puts butts in seats, Joe Smith (12-1), gloves up against Lamont Williams. of Cali. Phenom Junior Younan has his pro debut, against Ken Schmitz of St. Louis, as well.

I think so much of the card I'm DVRing HBO's triple-header tomorrow, for the record.

Fight tips from the Amazing Kreskin (Pt. 3)

November, 8, 2013
Everyone in the room at the Friar's Club stops their chatting and looks up expectantly as Heather Hardy comes back into the room after spending a bit over 20 minutes with the Amazing Kreskin during a Tuesday afternoon session.

What did he do, we ask.

"He had me sit in a chair, with my eyes closed, and count to 50," said the 6-0 super bantamweight, days out from her Saturday bout at the Aviator Complex in Brooklyn, on a card promoted by Lou DiBella. "Then he asked me how long I thought that took. I said maybe five minutes. Kreskin said no, it was 18 minutes. I guess I was counting really, really slow," the Williamsburg, Brooklyn resident said, chuckling. Also, Kreskin had Hardy, in a trust exercise, fall back into his arms, she reported.

We all wondered if Hardy got anything from the session.

"He got me to relax, so I was thinking about only what's important," she continued. Hardy said that normally, fight week is super stressful. She is juggling ticket sales, and picturing competing, and raising her daughter and work--she trains people at Gleason's--and bills etc etc.

"Usually, I want to kill everybody the last three days before fight. I don't know if it's because I'm female or..," Hardy said. No, Gabe Bracero's trainer Tommy Gallagher said, all fighters get homicidal like that. He sounded open-minded about Kreskin's angle, and said it is beneficial to be able to adeptly block out intrusive thoughts, and negative popups in your brain.

Shemuel Pagan, a 3-0 135 pounder, comes back from his session and gives it a thumbs up. Kreskin's power of suggestion helped him relax, he said.

Bracero (22-1 with 4 KOs) said he was already on Kreskin's page. "The mental strength is already there," he said, knowing I'm mindful of the fact that he's turned his back on the seductive thug life, after spending almost six years in jail for attempted murder. After the session, Bracero, who headlines the Saturday show against Dmitriy Salita (35-1-1) said he was thankful for the opportunity, but, "I'm already that person."

Kreskin asked for contact info for the three boxers, hoping he could follow up with them, and continue to inject them with positive suggestions and follow their progress. "I believe that all three fighters are future champions, they have the capacity, they have the mindset to be," Kreskin said, to wrap up. "I wish we had in politics together some of the attitudes we have in some of the athletes today."

Fight tips from The Amazing Kreskin (Pt. 2)

November, 7, 2013
Heather HardySpencer Platt/Getty ImagesHeather Hardy has fought her way through some tough times outside the ring.
I am curious to see how two boxers, especially, react to the methods of mentalist The Amazing Kreskin, who was enlisted to interact with three of the fighters on the Lou DiBella promotion set to unfold Saturday night at the Aviator Complex in South Brooklyn.

I've known welterweight Gabriel Bracero for a few years. I can't picture Kreskin -- who in his intro session with the fighters Tuesday at the Friar's Club said he sought to bring out the best in people, summoning reserves of resilience or skills that have been present but perhaps dormant -- conjuring something out of Bracero that he hasn't been able to do himself.

Bracero went to prison for almost six years for attempted murder, and decided in the joint that he'd make something of himself, turn his back on his thuggish ways, and be a contributing member to society, not a menace. He's done that since getting out in 2009, becoming a decent family man who's not afraid to state his faith in a higher power ... so we shall see what Kreskin can bring to the table to help the Sunset Park native.

Super bantamweight Heather Hardy, whose star is on the rise as a ticket-seller and ring talent, could, perhaps, be a more malleable subject for Kreskin. She told me about some of the recent chapters in her life, and left me feeling admiration for her work ethic and doggedness in the face of repeated disappointments.

Hardy was living on Gerritsen Beach, the Brooklyn on-the-water community which got walloped by Sandy a year ago. Her 9-year-old daughter Annie listened and watched as the 6-0 Hardy recounted her storm story to me.

Heather and Annie walked over to Heather's mom's house, down the street from them, after her mom asked them to huddle together to wait out the storm. "At about 6 p.m., water started to come in her house," Hardy said. "Within 15 minutes, it was up to our knees. We couldn't open up the door to outside." I asked Annie what she was feeling at that time. "Kind of panicked," she admitted. Hardy had been hit with a gut punch just a month before, when a fire broke out at her apartment, the result of some electrical work being done on the residence. "So we were already basically homeless," she told me. "We lost our clothes, our furniture. We were staying at my mom's, and bouncing around."

The storm kept hammering away, and wiped out Gerritsen Beach pretty good. The Hardy crew got out, though, and tried to adapt. Annie went to live with relatives on Long Island, and Gleason's Gym owner Bruce Silverglade let Heather live at the gym for a spell. The community bonded and people stepped up to lend a helping hand. Hardy is lately feeling a degree of stability; she and Annie moved to Williamsburg, near Gleason's, in September, and that has been helpful for her sleeping habits, for sure. "I don't have to get up at 4:30 a.m. anymore," she said. Hardy trains people at Gleason's -- including Floyd Mayweathers' publicist, Kelly Swanson, who is fighting in a charity event next month; more on that to come -- and isn't unhappy to no longer be working six jobs, as she was in 2011.

She isn't yet at a place where she can box full-time to make her living, though, so she still has to grind. On Friday, the day of her weigh-in, she will be taking requests for tickets to her fight, and will try to cheerfully accommodate requests and sell the last few of the 150 she was allocated by the promoter. With headway yet to be made to get to the point where she can focus fully on fighting, Hardy has an open mind about Kreskin's methods.

In Part 3, we will learn what Kreskin does during the sessions with the fighters.

Fight tips from The Amazing Kreskin (Pt. 1)

November, 6, 2013
Gabriel Bracero, Shemuel Pagan and Heather Hardy are set to fight at the Aviator Complex in Brooklyn on Saturday night. Each boxer was in warrior mode already, on Tuesday, with game faces indicating that soon, it will be time for combat and all mental energies must be focused on the task.

On Tuesday afternoon, they each took some time out from physical and mental prep for their forthcoming tussles on the Lou DiBella card to hear out famed mentalist The Amazing Kreskin, who was asked by promoter DiBella to impart some of his motivational techniques and tips to the fighters.

"I grew up like so many millions of others watching Kreskin on the Tonight Show with Carson and pretty much everywhere else," DiBella told me. "I always thought he was truly amazing. When I was told that he is still performing and doing what he does, I jumped at the chance to have him work with three of my fighters."

Kreskin, a New Jersey native who had a TV show which ran for five seasons in the early 70s, frequently appeared on every prominent daytime and nighttime talk show, and continues to be a popular guest on programs ranging from The Jimmy Fallon Show to various offerings on Fox News, burst into a room at the Friars Club in Manhattan and made an immediate impact with his signature handshake.

Kreskin took the hand of each boxer, and shook it as if he was testing the connective tissue in their shoulder. His vigor, at age 78, was impressive, as was the aura of optimism. It looked to me like the boxer's were open to hearing what he had to say, and hopeful that they could derive an edge, even a slight one, that could aid them in their bouts on a card topped by a welterweight face-off between Bracero and Dmitriy Salita.

"On Saturday night, you'll be fighting against somebody else, but in reality, you're competing against yourself," Kreskin said to his rapt audience, which also included press agent Jules Feiler, a Friars Club member, Bracero's trainer and mentor Tommy Gallagher, Annie Wagner, Hardy's nine-year-old daughter, and Robert Pagan, Shemuel's father and trainer. The mentalist, who also offers his services to law enforcement to help solve crimes, explained that he didn't use hypnosis, which he doesn't believe is real, and stated that he'd offered to cut a $100,000 check to anyone proving it is. Gallagher immediately offered that he was in a trance at that moment, and asked to provide his address so the check could be sent. Kreskin, a seasoned entertainer used to parrying wiseacres in Vegas casino showrooms, slipped Gallaghers' launch and continued his set.

He wanted to meet each fighter, individually, "for maybe 22 minutes," and then follow up with them, again, before their bout, to maximize his impact on their performance. Check back later for the rest of our tale on Kreskin's session with Hardy, Pagan and Bracero.

Follow Woods on Twitter. He's more mental than mentalist, but anyway...

Bracero, Salita want to win impressively

October, 3, 2013
These sorts of fights should happen more, but don't, for various reasons. Money is probably top of the list why intra-borough, NYC-bragging-rights bouts like the Nov. 9 clash between 35-1-1 Dmitriy Salita of Flatbush and 22-1-1 Gabriel Bracero of Sunset Park don't occur but every so often.

Lou DiBella will stage the welterweight clash, which will unfold at the Aviator Complex in South Brooklyn, and will pay out of pocket decent money, the sort of checks that go to guy main eventers on ESPN's "Friday Night Fights." The joint should be sold out, as everyone who attended the Thursday presser at Marco Polo Ristorante in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn assured me, and will also feature DiBella boxers Heather Hardy, Shemuel Pagan, and debuting phenom Junior Younan, who is advised by James Prince, Andre Ward's advisor.

Bracero told me that he isn't interested in merely winning, but looking good, putting a conclusive stamp on the effort. "I've slacked off on knockouts because of my immaturity in the ring, a little too impatient, emotional, not planting when I'm throwing my punches. I've been working on all that stuff," said the 32-year-old boxer who is trained by Tommy Gallagher. "I'm going to punish Salita, and it's going to end in a KO."

Bracero, who has just four KOs to his credit, said he sparred with Salita two or three times in years past, and "it went good on my behalf." They've known each other since they were kids, but it doesn't seem like Bracero will go soft, as he struck me as being in a beast mode, a contained beast mode.

"We're two different people," he said, hinting that he owns a hunger to win that Salita doesn't. "I'm going to make a statement with my win. There's no ifs or buts. I have to make a statement. I have to make a statement for the promoters, for DiBella, for my team, for them to stay behind me."

Salita, age 31, told me that this is a must win for him. He said he respects Salita as a solid boxer, but...

But if he can't beat a Bracero, he can't continue to lobby for inclusion in the title talk with the A-grade guys at 147. "This is a high level crossroads fight," Salita told me. "After a win would come a world title opportunity, or something similar." And he agrees with Bracero, the manner in which he'd win is important. "I expect Gabe to come with it," he said. "I think it's going to be very spirited."

Bracero-Salita bout close

September, 26, 2013
A local grudge match is close to being finalized for Nov. 9 at the Aviation Complex in Brooklyn, pitting Brooklyners Gabriel Bracero and Dmitriy Salita against each other, a source tells NYFightBlog.

The card, which will feature the pro debut of Junior Younan, will be promoted by Lou DiBella.

Final monetary terms and max allowable weight are being finalized, the source said.

Sunset Park's Bracero (age 32), at 22-1, has been fighting at 140 pounds, while Flatbush resident Salita (age 31), with a 35-1 mark, fights at 147 pounds.

Salita-Bracero fight in the works

August, 28, 2013
You'd think New York's geography would spawn regular inter-borough grudge matches. That simply isn't the case. But two local welterweights, both Brooklyn guys, actually, are looking stir up the local waters with an intra-borough scrap. Dmitriy Salita, a former world title challenger based in Flatbush, and prospect-turned-contender Gabriel Bracero of Sunset Park have discussed getting it on on a local show.

A couple days ago, the junior welterweight Bracero (age 32; 22-0 with 4 KOs; last fought on April 4, beat Pavel Miranda UD8 at Roseland) took to Facebook to stir the pot about a Salita fight.

"I personally am willing to go up a weight class and do whatever it takes to make this fight happen," he wrote on Facebook. "Now Dmitry, stop over pricing urself with these promoters. No one is paying u big bucks. I'm willing to take less $$ than you in order to make this fight happen. Stop playing. I'm ready! This is a great fight for N.Y.C. and of course Brooklyn. You have a following in ur community as I do in my community, all here in Brooklyn. It would be a great fight for fans. Dmitry, I want to fight u, stop over pricing urself..Let's make this fight happen. You have my number, I'll be waiting for ur response."

I saw that, and reached out to Salita (age 32; 35-1-1 with 18 KOs; last fought in Oct. 2012, beat Brandon Hoskins via UD6 at Barclays Center). I asked if he's open to the fight, and wondered about the "over pricing" reference.

"Gabe called me out -- I'm ready to make it happen," Salita told me. He maintains his purse requests are reasonable, based on his past performance as a ticket-seller. He said that he sold $50,000 worth of seats for a planned bout against Hector Camacho Jr. on a Golden Boy card in February, which went down the drain when the whole Barclays Center show got pushed to April, because one of the headliners, Danny Garcia, was injured. "Truth be told I am just waiting for a real offer and would accept anything reasonable," Salita reiterated. "This fight is not about money for me.

"I know it's not an easy fight with Gabe but am interested in the opportunity and know it's an important match. I let Bracero's promoter Lou DiBella know that I am willing to work with them to make the fight happen. I'm just looking for a reasonable offer and I've I had some good conversations with DiBella. I think that we can make some good things happen at this stage of my career. I hope it can work out and look forward to working with my former promoter, DiBella."

Foreman wins, back to diaper duty

April, 5, 2013
Yuri Foreman got his second win after almost two years away from the ring, on Thursday evening in New York City at Roseland ballroom. On the card, promoted by Lou DiBella, Foreman boxed smartly and won a unanimous decision over six rounds against foe Gundrick King, from Alabam.

The three judges saw it 60-54 for Foreman, who rose to 30-2 (8 KOs) with the W. King slid to 18-10.

I wasn't able to attend, so I texted congrats to my Park Slope neighbor.

"You free for a quick chat?" I asked Foreman this morning. "A bit later," he responded, "I'm busy with the boys at the moment."

Love it.

Yuri and his wife Leyla welcomed a baby boy, little Elijah, into the world on Feb. 24. And here you have a fighter, the morning after a six round scrum, knee deep in diaper duty. Elijah's brother Lev, age 2, is also in the mix.


A DiBella welter, "Jo Jo" Ion Dan, rated No. 6 by the WBC, crept closer to a title shot with a UD8 win over Damian Frias.

Another Brooklyner, Gabriel Bracero of Sunset Park, also inched closer to a most meaningful scrap, with a UD8 win over Pavel Miranda.

His trainer Tommy Gallagher told NYFightblog that he's heard people are "looking at us to fight Mike Alvarado in Denver. It would be a good fight," Gallagher said of the possible faceoff against the man who won the interim WBO 140 pound crown against Brandon Rios on March 30. "Gabe will try, he'll bleed, it'd be a good fight."

We chatted in the early AM, but Gallagher didn't sound like he needed a drop of coffee to get jazzed about another one of his fighters, Ecuadorean heavyweight Ytalo Perea, who won his pro debut March 23 in Maryland.

"I've never see a fighter like the kid from Ecuador, 19 years old greatest ... puncher, he's a big Frazier or Marciano, no definition, this is the kid," he said. Expect to see Perea on a DiBella show in May, he said. "I have never been so ... excited, what a pure natural puncher. Since 1965 I've been in the gym business, I worked with Michael Dokes, Tim Witherspoon, Michael Bentt, Riddick Bowe a couple fights, Perea has more natural ability than I ever met. He hits the heavy bag, people stop to watch him."

Yuri Foreman fighting April 4

March, 21, 2013
It's now a new level of grind for Park Slope junior middleweight Yuri Foreman, who with wife Leyla welcomed baby boy Elijah into the world three weeks ago.

Foreman (29-2) has a fight set for April 4, against Gundrick King (18-9) at Roseland Ballroom in NYC.

I ran into Foreman's wife, Leyla, who chatted briefly before hustling back to be with son Lev and the newborn. "We are very busy," she said, and talked about the juggling act going on. Yuri is in the home stretch to become a rabbi, they are working on a book proposal and he is knee deep in training for his second fight since taking almost two years off from the ring.

Foreman tops a card promoted by Lou DiBella, also featuring Gabriel Bracero, Jo Jo Dan and Luis Orlando Del Valle.

Snow can't KO Ring 8 awards show

February, 11, 2013
First it was Sandy's wrath, and then Nemo left a calling card on the Tri-State Area, but Ring 8's awards gala could not be kept on the canvas. The event, which unfolded Sunday afternoon at Russo's on the Bay in Howard Beach, Queens, was originally set for Dec. 18, but Sandy impacted Russo's, so the event was shifted to February.

Ring 8, a veterans boxers association formed in 1954 which holds as its motto "Boxers Helping Boxers," puts on an annual bash and gives out awards to spotlight NY-area fighters and fight game people. An out-of-area bigwig will sometimes be flown in to make a splash, and this time around, future Hall of Famer Joe Calzaghe, an ex-cruiserweight champion, was all set to hop on plane and receive a Fighter of the Decade award.

And then Nemo showed up, dumping loads of snow on the region, and forcing the closing of JFK Airport. Ring 8 president Bob Duffy worked the phones, trying to find alternative flights, but Calzaghe had a TV appearance set up for Tuesday morning, and it just wasn't doable.

The show went on, though, and close to 400 people did show up. Duffy wasn't sure if his Fighter of the Year, Peter Quillin, was going to make it, but Kid Chocolate made a dramatic entrance and went to the dais to get his bauble. The WBO middleweight champion grew up in a humbling home environment and tasted homelessness as a teen after coming to New York to make his mark, so it was positive to hear another story of boxing doing some good, providing a platform for an at-risk youth to focus on a goal and be a productive role model.

I was fortunate enough to be named Writer of the Year and am not too cool to admit that I have looked at the award about 20 times since I received it, and smiled each time, out of pride. My wife, Jessica, said my speech was good, which I was happy about, considering I spoke soon after "Jersey Shore" alum Snooki, who is doing boxing promotion along with her father, Andy Polizzi.

My wife also liked that other awards winners -- like David Sears, Bob McGuire, Pat Russo, Dave Seip, Eddie Claudio, John Signorile, Ron McNair, Frankie Russo Jr., Floriano Pagliara, Adam Willet and Bobby Czyz -- kept speech short and sweet.

Thanks to Ring 8 for the award, and keeping the memories of some of the stellar fighters from decades past alive.

The NYFightBlog 2012 Boxer of the Year

December, 31, 2012
Boxing in New York picked up the pace in 2012. The new series at the Barclays Center took off, and the debut in October was a success. Having a focal point is an immense boost to the local scene, as young fighters can know that they have a stage ready for them when they're ready to rock. Madison Square Garden has taken notice and is getting more active booking fights cards, with a slate booked into the Theater Jan. 19. All these men can benefit from the amped-up buzz in NYC.

Ladies and gents, here is your 2012 NYC Top Ten Pound-For-Pound List.

1) PETER QUILLIN He has an XL personality and his boxing has been improving, fight by fight. No reason why Quillin shouldn't be a full-on star in 2013. The 29-year-old Manhattan resident retired Winky Wright in June, and then whacked Hassan N'Dam around, exiting the Barclays Center with the WBO middleweight belt, on Oct. 20. He is the NYFightBlog BOXER OF THE YEAR. (No. 3 last year)

2) PAULIE MALIGNAGGI Paulie escaped the Barclays Center with a W over young Mexican rumbler Pablo Cano on Oct. 20, and was looking forward to a career-best payday rematch against Ricky Hatton. Hatton's body didn't cooperate, and he was stopped in his return bout. So the 32-year-old Bensonhurst tactician is still hunting Plan B. We wonder -- and suspect he wonders -- if he has lost a quarter-step, or if he can return in his next bout in fine form, with peppy legs, a busy jab, the whole package. We're betting yes ... but just in case, he's been setting up business prospects and is doing a bangup job as an analyst for Showtime, so if he has lost a foot off his fastball, 2013 will find Malignaggi with options regardless. (No. 2 last year)

3) DANNY JACOBS Last year, he thought he would die. This year, Jacobs has been climbing his way up the middleweight ladder, and doing it with as much grace and charm as any pugilist out there. The Park Slope resident, age 25, looks to rise to 25-1 when he gloves up Feb. 9 at Barclays. He kicked cancer's ass, I suspect he will do the same a few times in the ring this year, and by the end of the year, he should be ready to tackle a titlist. I root for him -- sorry, just being honest. (No. 8 last year)

4) ARGENIS MENDEZ The Dominican-born Brooklyn resident won an IBF super featherweight title eliminator over Martin Honorio in July, so we can presume an opportunity will pop for the 20-2 hitter soon. He came up short against Juan Carlos Salgado for the vacant IBF super feather belt in 2011, but we're betting he gets over the title hump in 2013. At 26, he should be in his physical prime. (N0. 5 last year)

5) ZAB JUDAH The Brownsville native is 35, and we're tempted to say he's looking at his last chance when he meets junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia at Barclays in the headliner Feb. 9. But Judah is a name, and a character, and even if he can't get the better of the under-appreciated Philly hitter, Judah will continue to receive opportunities. He's been talking tough ahead of the Garcia bout, and dad is back in his corner, but we still recall the stinkbomb effort he turned in against Amir Khan in July 2011. Will Good Zab or Bad Zab show up at Barclays? (No. 7 last year)

6) JOSEPH AGBEKO Last year's No. 1 went 0-for-2012, as the Bronx based Ghanian didn't glove up once this year. He could have fallen off the list but he gets consideration for what he's done. The 28-2 32-year-old is slated to meet 34-8-1 Luis Melendez on Feb. 22, so he could rise again next year if he regains his step. (No. 1 last year)

6) JOAN GUZMAN The Dominican formerly known as Little Tyson tasted defeat for the first time, losing a technical decision to 17-0 Khabib Allakhverdiev on Nov. 30. At 36, it looks like Guzman (33-1-1) has lost a mile off his fastball. Can he transition to being a clever junkballer, or will he be off this list next year? (Guzman No. 4 last year)

7) PATRICK HYLAND The Irish transplant lost his 0, when Javier Fortuna beat him, with the interim WBA feather crown up for grabs, on Dec. 8, underneath Pacquiao-Marquez, but showed he belonged at that class. We suspect he will learn from the loss and might well come back stronger, secure in the knowledge that that sized stage is appropriate for him. And whatever happens, he can take this to his grave: he is the top boxer in the stable of MTV's Snooki. (Not rated last year)

8) LUIS COLLAZO The 32-5 Queens-based boxer looked sharper than I expected in a win against Steve Upsher Chambers on the first Barclays card. An ex welterweight champion, he's 31, has his head on straight, is freed from promotional entanglements (cough Don King cough) and is backed by Golden Boy, which has the pull to get him opportunities. It is up to him to keep winning, and 2013 could be the year he gets to wrap another belt around his waist. (No. 16 last year)

9) EDDIE GOMEZ The 20-year-old from the Bronx fought and won five times this year. He has confidence galore and perhaps the skills to match it. If he stays healthy, and doesn't let rising fame mess with his head, 2013 could be a breakthrough year for Gomez (12-0). We can see him headlining a ShoBox by the end of the year. (Not rated last year)

10) DMITRIY SALITA/HECTOR CAMACHO JR (TIE) These two will clash underneath Garcia-Judah at Barclays on Feb. 9. The winner gets this spot, the loser drops off. The 35-1 Salita, age 30, is slightly favored for the 152 or under contest, as the 34 year-old Camacho was knocked out cold in his last outing, by 12-1-1 Luis Grajeda in July. (Salita No. 20, Camacho No. 15 last year)

Honorable Mention: Sechew Powell (No. 10 last year), Joe Hanks (last year not rated), Seanie Monaghan (last year not rated), Will Rosinsky (last year not rated), Chris Algieri (last year not rated), Gabriel Bracero (last year No. 13)

Prospect Redkach is a KO specialist

December, 6, 2012
All due respect to the New Yorkers on Lou DiBella's Dec. 19 Roseland Ballroom card, guys like Queens' Will Rosinsky and Brooklyners Tito Bracero, Travis Peterkin, Zach Ochoa, Jarrell Miller and Mikkel Lespierre. But the one guy on that card who I'm perhaps most excited about, long-term, is Californian Ivan Redkach. That guy has heavy hands, dangerous hands, hands that separate men from their senses and leave them face-down on a canvas in the blink of an eye. In short, he has special power. The Ukrainian Redkach (12-0, 11 KOs) scored a TKO1 win over Tibor Brosch on Oct. 24 at Roseland on the last DiBella card.

He meets 11-8-2 Edward Valdez, a Dominican-born New Yorker, on this card.

The DBE-promoted Broadway Boxing card is being held as a benefit for Hurricane Sandy victims with all of the proceeds from the show to be donated to the American Red Cross. A silent auction will be held throughout the evening, with Lou DiBella donating items from his own extensive personal collection.

Tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling (800) 745-3000, or by calling the DiBella Entertainment office at (212) 947-2577. Tickets are priced at $125, $85, $65 and $45. Doors open at 6 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7 p.m.

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