* Andre Ward gets the last word on Sergey Kovalev

Last November I stopped by Head Strong Gym and the main topic of the day was the upcoming show-down between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward, a Unification Title fight with all of the Light-Heavyweight belts on the line (see my previous post). It was a Classic match up of the power punching Russian and the Master Boxer Ward. Most in the gym picked the Russian. The reason was his power, his trainer – former Middleweight Champion John David Jackson, and the belief that Ward was not the fighter he was, having moved up in weight, and been inactive in recent years.

I liked Andre and thought the difference was his body punching, overall skill and mental strength. The fight was excellent and could have gone either way. Kovalev took an early lead and scored a knockdown in the first round, I had it 5-1 Kovalev after six rounds.

Ward then took over, winning all remaining six rounds while landing often to the body. “The Krusher” faded as the fight wore on. At the bell, I had it 114-113 for Ward, as did all three judges. Many disagreed and stage was set for a re-match and this time we didn’t have to wait five years for it.

Again I picked Ward, thinking he had broke the code on the Russian. Everyone knows what happened next. Ward started round 1, like it was the 13th round, right where he left off. He took the lead and never looked back. The the infighting and body punching was the difference along with the supreme confidence of Ward. In the 8th round Ward chased Kovalev into a corner and delivered repeated body blows, the beaten Sergey bent over defenselessly – he had no answer for Andre. The referee stopped the fight. As he should have. The punches were fair, meaning on the belt and legal Kovalev by the way wore his trunks high, I think conceding that was his weakness is to the body.

The fact is that Ward had figured out Kovalev and beaten him physically and mentally. The now twice-beaten Kovalev, his mystic shattered has to rebuild and Andre Ward is now the #1 Pound for Pound Fighter in the world as well as the undisputed Light-Heavyweight Champion of the World. Andre Ward got the last word.

Written by: Al Iannacone Sr.

* Golovkin beats Jacobs – Chocolatito loses first fight and Title

Last Saturday night was a great night for boxing – all the fights were good ones, although they did not go as most expected. GGG did beat Daniel Jacobs, however it was by decision as Jacobs did not “Bring it” apparently Brownsville’s motto of Never Ran and Never Will, does not apply to the “Miracle Man” – I had the fight 115-112 and thought 116-111 was a fair score for Golovkin. All three Judges also had GGG winning, two by 115-112 and one by 114-113. BOX NEWS agreed as well. However, many did not and saw Jacobs getting it done. He did have a lot of advantages, youth, height and since he did not weigh in the day of the fight was over the limit by at least 20 pounds, So… if he had won, he would not have taken the IBF belt. One of the main things wrong with boxing today is that weigh-ins are the day BEFORE a fight, allowing the fighters to rehydrate and that is very dangerous. Figure it out folks, that is why they have weight classes to begin with.

A quick note on the Roman “Chocolatito” Martinez vs Sor Rungvisai. It was an excellent fight and unlike Jacobs he brought it. However, I do think they got this one wrong, I won’t say it was a robbery, it wasn’t. However, Chocolatito came back from a knock down and won the majority of the rounds down the stretch, while bleeding profusely due to three unintentional heady butts. Additionally Rungvisai barely threw a punch in the last round, while Chocolatito dominated and finished like a champion. A re-match is in the works, this may turn into a trilogy – or better. Till next time…

Al Iannacone Sr.

* GGG vs. Daniel Jacobs – World Middleweight Title Fight

Never ran, never will. That is the motto and always has been on the streets of Brownsville, a section of Brooklyn, New York. Those are mean streets and many famous and dangerous men came from them. Including the hitmen of Murder Inc, including Albert Anastasia, Meyer Lansky and boxers, the Original “Dead End” Kid Al “Bummy” Davis, Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Zab Judah just to name few and of course Daniel Jacobs.

That heritage is the reason why Daniels Jacobs (32-1, 29 Knockouts) who is fighting GGG (Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin) 36-0,33 Knockouts – has a chance tonight. He will not run and he will fight to win, GGG is from Kazakhstan and won the world amateur middleweight title in 2003 and a Silver Medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004. His amateur record was an incredible 345-5, so that makes him 381-5 going into the fight tonight.

Daniel Jacobs also had a prestigious amateur career winning four NY Golden Gloves Titles, and is also a Champion. In fact between the two of them they hold all five middleweight belts this fight is for the Unified Middleweight Title. Jacobs is called the “Miracle Man” and that is not because of anything he did in the ring, you see he is also a survivor of bone Cancer. yeah, he’s a tough kid.

The fight is on PPV tonight and will be at the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden, and it will be worth every penny. I think Jacobs will bring it – along with all of Brownsville, but GGG will be too much for him. GGG has power and the skill of 386 bouts behind him. I like Gennady in this one and within three rounds by knockout. It could be as good as the Hagler – Hearns fight of, can it be? 32 years ago… Don’t miss it tonight’s fight, if you do you will regret it.

Al Iannacone Sr.

* Lou Duva – Legendary Boxing Manager and Trainer dies at 94

Lou Duva passed away on Wednesday. The irony of the day did not escape me. 8 March 1971 was date of the “Fight of the Century” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in New York at Madison Square Garden. It is fitting that Lou left us on that day. There are many tributes and articles on him so I won’t repeat it all. Lou was born on 28 May 1922 and was involved with boxing his whole life, as a young man he boxed to help support his family during the Depression, he joined the U.S. Army and served during World War II as a Boxing Instructor in the South.In the late 1950- he started working corners, training ad managing. He was the Trainer or Manager for 19 World Champions, a list too long to name here – you can look it up.

Lou is from my home-town of Paterson, NJ. He knew Lou Costello (Abbott and Costello) and Rocky Marciano personally. He started “Main Events” who’s banner many of his champions fought under. Main Events promoted many cards at the Totowa Ice World (the former Gladiator Arena) in North Jersey. I attended many of those cards in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and saw great fights involving Rocky Lockridge, James “Hard Rock” Green, Chuck (Bayonne Brawler) Wepner, Scott Frank, Tony”El Torito” Ayala, Leo Randolph, Diego Rosario and Bobby Czyz.

Lou lived a full and relevant life and did a lot for Boxing and for Boxers. Rest in Peace Lou.

Al Iannacone Sr.

* A Great Night at the Fights

Last Saturday was a great night for Boxing. Danny (Swift) Garcia the defending Welterweight Champion fought Keith “One Time” Thurman. It was only the third time in forty years that Boxing was on regular TV. For those old enough to remember, there were big fights on most Saturdays back in the 70’s ad they went on in the early afternoon on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Those were indeed the days, I saw Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, George Foreman, Roberto Duran, Wilfredo Gomez, Sugar Ray Leonard, Wilfredo Benitez, Marvin Hagler, Matthew Saad Muhammad and so many others – on free tv.

Back to the fight, I picked Garcia to win. Always the underdog, he finds a way to win. He is a natural counter-puncher with good power and a very good chin. Going into that fight he was 33-0 with 19 knockouts. His opponent was also a Champion with a record of 27-0 with 22 knockouts. Keith has one punch power as his names indicates, he also has good movement and is very focused. I expected Danny to catch him with a counter as he has done so many times before, go to the body and wear him down – it didn’t happen, Keith alternated with smart boxing and power punches and pressed forward most of the way. He earned the decision. I thought it was 116-112. The judges had it 116-112 and 115-113 for a Thurman and 115-113 for Garcia. I was scared for a minute though, when Garcia appeared to be celebrating as someone signaled to him. That would have been a shame. Keith earned it. I lost a friendly wager on this fight with Chris Gordon the Gym Owner, the loser taking the winner to “Primi Piatti” an Italian Restaurant on Park Street in the Riverside Section of Jacksonville, if you haven’t been there, I recommend it highly.

There was a good fight on the undercard, a Middleweight go between Erickson “The Hammer” Lubin, 17-0 13 knock-outs (Orlando, Florida) vs. Jorge Cota, 25-2, 22 knock-outs (Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico). The Hammer’s power was on display with a spectacular knockout in the fourth round. He looks like a great prospect. My only problem with it was the commentators who went on and on about his age (he’s 21) and how he would be one of the youngest Champions in history. Anyone who knows even a little about boxing, knows that is Bull, give kid credit for an excellent win, but don’t make up a story line. If Premier Boxing needs knowledgeable commentators, just leave me a message below… By the way, here are just a few of the fighters who won titles at a young age; Wilfredo Benitez (17), Jose “Pipino” Cuevas (18), Tony Canzonari and Terry McGovern, both 19 – just to name a few. Till next time…

Al Iannacone Sr.

*Sparring and Talking Boxing at Headstrong Gym

Lots of good things happening at Headstrong Gym today. Chris Gordon’s Gym had a competitive 5 round sparring session between Joe Merrill a veteran of the gym who has his sights set on the Olympics while also discussing going pro with his manager. Joe’s sparring partner was Jabir Poough a promising young light-heavyweight. Chris and Sam Fuller a former Marine supervised the action. Joe was there to help prepare Jabir for the PAL tournament on 8 April and get some ring time in. Joe took him through his paces, while Jabir pressed the action. Jabir is strong,intense and motivated and looks to me like he has a future in the Ring.

While I was there we discussed the upcoming Welter-Weight Title fight between Danny “”Swift” Garcia and Keith “One Time”Thurman. This is going to be a good one and most likely will not go the distance. Both are Champions at the weight, both are undefeated and in their prime. Garcia is 33-0 with 19 knock-outs and Thurman is 27-0 with 22 knockouts. Most commentators are calling it a 50-50 fight. We talked about it at the gym, I like Garcia in that fight and by knockout, in the later rounds. Garcia is a methodical and steady fighter with good power and never loses his cool, he is always under-rated and is often the underdog even when he is the Champion. Thurman can win, he has one punch power, that’s why they call him One-Time, he also has good movement- . I think garcia goes to body wear’s out and knocks him out. Sam Fuller the Former Marine agrees and thinks the left hook does the damage. I agree. We’ll see. Don’t miss it, it is next Saturday 4 March on Fox.

Al Iannacone Sr.

*Another day at Headstrong Gym

I was at gym last Saturday and talked to Chris Gordon the gym owner and proprietor and Mike Diamant a trainer and regular at the gym. It is always great talking to them about Boxing or anything else.

I then watched a sparring session between a young pro that Chris Gordon says is “probably the best prospect in Jacksonville right now” his sparring partner was a Sailor off of the USS IWO JIMA which is home-ported at Naval Station Mayport. The young prospect’s name is Canton Miller Jr. (C.J.) who is 2-0 (1 KO) as a pro and campaigns as a Super Featherweight. His next figght is against Jamaine Ortiz (2-0) on February 4 at the Twin River Event Center in Lincoln, Rhode Island. The young Sailor he was sparring with was Donnel Childs who recently had his amateur debut. Donnel is married, with two kids. He is a Third Class Petty Officer (Fire Control Technician}. Both C.J. and Donnel are good kids and if they are examples of what boxing has to offer today, then we are doing just fine.

Also, before I close I wanted to give a shout out to Ryan Allen another young pro who I have known for about six years now. Ryan is a featherweight and is now 2-0-1 (1 KO) all three of his fights took place in Tijuana Mexico, but don’t let that fool you, he is Headstrong Boxer too. Well that’s all for now, till next time…

Al Iannacone Sr.

*Ward Decisions Kovalev in a Classic

In my last post I and the regulars at Headstrong Gym made predictions on the fight. Check it out if you haven’t already. I predicted Ward in a unanimous or close split decision and that is exactly how it went. Before Michael Buffer read off the judges cards, I told my sons Al and Dominick that it was 114-113 Ward. And that is the how all three judges had it. It was close one though and it certainly could have gone either way – only it didn’t. I think the difference was Ward’s in-fighting and body punching.

Kovalev started off strong with a 2nd round knock-down. I had the Russian up 5-1 after six rounds, with Andre winning the last six. Kovalev was disappointed of course and some did think he may have won by as much as 115-112. Not me. I saw Andre take control and refuse to lose.

It was a Classic. If you missed it, too bad for you. There is a re-match clause and I hope Andre gives Sergey the opportunity. Who do I think would win that one? Andre in another exciting fight but not as close. If it was a 15 round fight like in the good old days, I would have Andre stopping Sergey in the 14th round.

Written by Al Iannacone Sr.

*Sergey Kovalev Vs Andre Ward Predictions

I stopped by the gym today and we soon had a spirited discussion about the upcoming Kovalev Vs. Ward Title fight which is on Saturday 19 November at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Sergey “The Krusher” Kovalev from Kopeysk, Russia is 30-0-1 with 26 knock-outs and is the reigning WBO/WBA/IBF Light-Heavy Weight Champion. Andre (S.O.G) Ward is a former WBA and WBC Super Middleweight Champion and is 30-0-0 with 15 knock-outs. This is a battle of two excellent fighters, both are champions and both are at the of the top four Pound for Pound rankings.

So back to the discussion and the predictions; Kovalev is a power puncher and a better than average boxer.  Ward is a master boxer who does not have a lot of power. It is a Classic match-up. I think “S.O.G.” which means Son of God by the way wins this one. He did have a long lay-off and a couple of tune up fights where he was working off the ring rust, but I think he raises it to another level and beats Sergey by unanimous decision or an exciting and well earned split-decision.

Chris Gordon Headstrong Gym owner and proprietor is going for Kovalev, he thinks Ward is not the fighter he was and that the Krusher will wear him down – and knock him out or just pound him and win a unanimous decision.

Nate Campbell, former WBA/IBF/WBO World Light Weight Champion and trainer at the gym also is going for Kovalev, he says the difference is the trainer – former Middleweight Champion John David Jackson. He also thinks Sergey has too much power for Andre and is the better in-fighter.

Mike Diamant who I wrote an earlier story about (Father and Son) and is also a trainer  at Headstrong thinks thinks Andre is is too slick for Sergey. Which makes sense to me since most of these types of match ups go to the boxer.

Curt “The Hurt” Harper, a Jacksonville Heavyweight was there today and though he did not say who he thinks will win – I think he is leaning toward S.O.G.

Well there you have it – that’s what we think – what do you think? This will be a very good fight between two champions at or near their best which is how it should be. Don’t miss it.

Written by Al Iannacone Sr.

*My favorite Boxing quotes

Here are some of my favorite Boxing Quotes. Hope you like them. If you have any good ones send them to me and I will post them.

Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston in 1964 after knocking out Floyd Patterson in the first round for the second consecutive time was asked by a reporter “Do you think Floyd should fight again” the menacing and usually non verbal Liston responded “How do you tell a bird that he can’t fly?”

1970’s and 80’s perennial heavyweight journeyman and sometimes contender Scott Ledoux was asked at ringside when he realized he was becoming a better fighter. He said ” When I woke up in the morning and my hands were hurting instead of my head.”

Floyd Mayweather Jr. said ” You can play baseball, you can play basketball, you play football – you can’t play Boxing.”

And four more by the one and only Muhammad Ali:

“If you even dream of beating me you better wake up and apologize.”

“I am so mean I make medicine sick.”

“You can throw in the towel or you can use it to wipe off the sweat and keep going,”

“Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a Champion.”

Al Iannacone Sr.