The Boxing Diary

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Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Pandemonium @ The Palladium II

QUINCY, Mass. (October 31, 2023) – Old-time boxing returns Friday night, December 9, in Worcester (MA), as Granite Chin Promotions (GCP) presents “Pandemonium at the Palladium 2,” featuring a roster of legitimate fighters in real fights.

“Pandemonium at the Palladium 2” will be streamed live from the famed Palladium on GCP has also partnered with Project New Hope, a Worcester-based charity that supports veterans and their families.

Undefeated Denzel “Double Impact” Whitley (12-0, 7 KOs) and unbeaten Kenny “Lionheart” Larson (7-0-1, 5 KOs) will headline in the 10-round main event for the vacant Junior North American Boxing Federation (NABF) Welterweight Championship in a rebirth of a longtime Bay State rivalry.

Whitley, of Holyoke, represents Western, Massachusetts, Salem’s Larson is from Eastern, Mass. It’s also a fight between a legacy fighter, Whitley, who is trained by his father Derrick and uncle Darrin, who were solid pro fighters during the 1990s into the first decade of the 21st century; Larson is a throwback fighter who only asks who, where and when he’s fighting.

And Whitley and Larson, as rare as it may be among contemporary boxers, are unbeaten prospects fighting each other, which is a sure sign of old-time boxing.

“This is a critical fight for both fighters at this stage in their career,” GCP president Chris Traietti commented. “The winner moves on to legitimate prospect status, while whoever falls short will have to regroup and rebuild a little bit. It is about time these two guys finally get into the ring with each other and give local boxing fans an exciting main event. The styles of each guy contrast perfectly Denzel is more of a boxer, Kenny is a pressure fighter; this is a can’t-miss entertainment with the Junior NABF title on the line.”

Whitley is the reigning Massachusetts and United States Boxing Federation (USBF) Atlantic Welterweight Champion, although neither of his two regional titles will be on the line versus Larson.

Whitley vs. Larson was supposed to happen a few times, but they have not met in the ring yet. They are both anxious to take care of unfinished business on Dec. 9 in Worcester. This showdown will also mark the first scheduled 10-round fight for both combatants.

“I can’t say it (delay) will necessarily help me,” said Whitley, who was known as a notoriously slow starter until his most recent fight (August 18, 2023) at The Palladium, when he needed only 25-seconds to stop Hector Esnar Bobadilla. “I was ready before and now for this fight. It’s my first 10-round fight and I’ve gotten more rounds to be in my best shape. I’m on a belt run and want to add my third title. My style was to get in rounds to get the proper feel and adapt in the ring. My father and uncle have wanted me to start faster, and I did in my last fight.

“I don’t know much about my opponent. He likes to fight, I like that. We do have unfinished business and we’re finally getting that now. I need to get him out of the way and move on to the next fight. He comes forward, an old-fashioned fighter, and that will make for a good fight. When I capture this belt, I hope to move up in the rankings and it helps get me a big shot in a big venue against a big name.”

Larson, who was a 2016 New England Golden Gloves silver medalist, registered the most significant victory of his career last July when he won an eight-round split decision over highly respected Brandon Higgins (10-3). But he came back less than a month later to fight Alfred Raymond, which ended in a six-round split decision.”

“A relief,” Larson expressed his feelings about finally fighting Whitley. “This is what I want and I’m glad to get a chance to prove myself. (The delay) Helped me a little because of the experience I’ve gained. I know I wasn’t at my best, but I had just fought Higgins in the fight of my life. I didn’t get a rest to recover from the fight with Higgins. Since then, though, my mind frame was clear in training camp because I had a vacation after my last fight.

“Denzel has a good record. I’m looking to prove myself against the best. He’s the best…..right now. I’m going to fight my fight at my pace. I don’t care about fighting him in Worcester. My fans travel no matter where I fight. I’m a throwback who is a rough kid who can fight.”
Also fighting on the loaded “Pandemonium at the Palladium 2,” card is undefeated International Boxing Association (IBA) Americas Super Middleweight Champion Steve “The Savage” Sumpter (9-0, 7 KOs), who will face an opponent to be determined in the 10-round co-featured event. Sumpter, fighting out of Pittsfield (MA), is one of the hottest prospects in the Northeast, coming off an impressive performance against previously unbeaten James “Pitbull” Perkins (12-0-1, 9 KOs) by way of an eight-round majority decision in the main event this past August at The Palladium.

Also scheduled to be in action are a pair of Worcester fighters, light heavyweight Kendrick “Peppa” Ball, Jr. (21-1-3, 12 KOs) and super welterweight Khiary “Too Sharp” Gray (17-6, 13 KOs). Ball is a former New England Middleweight and WBC USA Super Middleweight Champion, who will be fighting in a 10-rounder for the vacant USBF title. Pitts will be in his first fight in two years.

Monday, October 30, 2023

2023 Santiago Pan American Games Result - Team USA 2-2

SANTIAGO, Chile -- Team USA went 2-2 yesterday on the final day of boxing at the 2023 Santiago Pan American Games to take two gold and two silver medals to go along with their two bronze medals earned during yesterday’s semifinals.

Featherweight Jahmal Harvey (Oxon Hill, Md.) began the day with what shaped up to be another classic United States versus Cuba final.

The 2021 World Champion saw the Cuban, Ivan Horta Rodriguez Del Rey, take a close 3-2 lead after the first round, but came back in the second round to take his own 3-2 decision, resulting in the duo being tied across all five judges’ cards before the final round.

The American rallied during the final three minutes, landing clean jabs to the body and head, as well as combinations to take the round, 5-0, and the overall unanimous decision victory and gold medal.
PAN AMERICAN GAMES GOLD MEDALIST JAHMAL HARVEY (second in from left) (Photo by Getty Images)
Harvey’s gold medal performance adds him to a list of other Team USA greats who won gold in the featherweight division at the Pan American Games, including Kelcie Banks and Bernard Taylor.

Super heavyweight Joshua Edwards (Houston, Texas) added the 2023 Pan American Games gold medalist to his resume with his walkover victory over Brazil’s Abner Teixeira Da Silva. Edwards's gold medal is just the second in USA Boxing history, joining Jason Estrada (2003) as the only two American super heavyweights to take gold at a Pan American Games.

Jennifer Lozano (Laredo, Texas) became the third straight female American to win a silver medal at the Pan American Games in the flyweight division, following in Marlen Esparza and Virginia Fuchs's footsteps, both from Texas as well. Lozano, who punched her ticket to next summer’s Olympic Games yesterday, fell short in capturing the gold medal by way of a unanimous decision against Brazil’s Caroline Barbosa De Almeida.

Morelle McCane (Cleveland, Ohio) was the final member of Team USA to box today, however, fell short in a 5-0 decision against Brazil’s Barbara Maria Dos Santos. McCane became the fifth straight boxer from Cleveland and the first female boxer from the city to qualify for the Olympics during these Games.

Jajaira Gonzalez (Glendora, Calif.) and Roscoe Hill (Spring, Texas) rounded out Team USA’s medal count, as each is leaving Santiago with bronze medals.

To relive all the action from this year’s Pan American Games, including photos, athlete stories, and moreclick here.

Finals Results

50 kg: Caroline Barbosa De Almeida/BRA dec. over Jennifer Lozano, Laredo, Texas/USA, 5-0 – silver medal.

57 kg: Jahmal Harvey, Oxon Hill, Md./USA, dec. over Ivan Horta Rodriguez Del Rey/CUB, 5-0 – gold medal.

66 kg: Barbara Maria Dos Santos/BRA dec. over Morelle McCane, Cleveland, Ohio/USA, 5-0 – silver medal.

92+ kg: Joshua Edwards, Houston, Texas/USA wins by walkover over Abner Teixeira Da Silva/BRA, WO – gold medal.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Manny Pacquiao off to Riyadh, KSA

Screengrab from Manny Pacquiao's Facebook account

Pambansang Kama-o, Manny Pacquiao posted on his Facebook account that he's "off to Saudi Arabia" with the hashtag #RiyadhSeason. Riyadh will be hosting the Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou heavyweight boxing exhibition fight this weekend.

Boxing reporter Kevin Iole tweeted earlier that the Riyadh organizer for the Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou's heavyweight exhibition fight will bring some of boxing's prominent personalities including Pacquiao, Mike Tyson, Duran, Morales, Big George, and several others. Mayweather might go too.

Wow! You know what? Riyadh is just 7 hour's drive from where I am based here in Kuwait. Applying visit visa to the kingdom become very easy online nowadays. A multiple-entry visit visa for one year will cost 30 Kuwaiti Dinars, around USD 97.

As a boxing fan, I'm very excited that big boxing match-ups are now being held on this side of the world. It gives me the option to at least watch any of these world title matches. 

My last ringside attendance was in 2015 in the Philippines at one of the now-defunct Pinoy-Pride Boxing series. It was headline by Donnie Nietes and Nonito Donaire Jr. fighting separate opponents in The Pinoy Pride 30 dubbed "D-Day". 

Monday, October 23, 2023

Giovani Santillan stops Alexis Rocha in Round 6

INGLEWOOD, CALIF. (October 21, 2023) – In an explosive main event, San Diego’s Giovani “Gallo de Oro” Santillan (32-0, 17 KOs) maintained his undefeated record and took home the NABO Welterweight Title from Santa Ana’s Alexis “Lex” Rocha (23-2, 15 KOs). Scheduled for 12-rounds, Santillan handed Rocha his first career loss via knockout, slowly breaking him down and sending Rocha to the mat twice in the fifth round. It was in the sixth round where Santillan used a flurry of right hooks and left uppercuts that finished the fight at 1:13. The fight night was presented in association with Top Rank, took place at the Kia Forum, and was broadcast on DAZN.
“I feel good. It was the outcome we were looking for. You never know how these types of fights will go,” said Giovani Santillan. “Alexis is a great fighter, and he’s tough. He got up twice and he's never been stopped before! It’s different with all these people here and when you’re the b-side. He brought all his fans and his supporters which makes boxing a great sport. 2024 is going to be a great year for me now with this performance.”

“I am sorry to all my fans,” said Alexis Rocha. “I will be back.”

Special guests for the night included Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions Oscar De La Hoya, Partner of Golden Boy Bernard Hopkins, Hall of Fame Trainer Freddie Roach, Current WBA World Champion Rolando “Rolly” Romero, Former four-time World Champion Mikey Garcia, Former World Champion Sergey Lipinets, and a number of current and former Golden Boy fighters including Former World Champion “Zurdo” Ramirez, Eric Priest, Jorge Chavez, Azat Hovhannisyan, John “Sugarcane” Cañas, Gabe Rosado, and Jousce Gonzalez.

In the co-main event, John “Scrappy” Ramirez (13-0, 9 KOs) won via fourth round knockout in a WBA Super Flyweight Title Eliminator against Ronal Batista (15-4, 9 KOs). Scheduled for 12-rounds, “Scrappy” handed out popcorn to his fans as he gave one of the night’s impressive performances. Batista went down in the fourth after a flurry of punches, Ramirez stopping the fight with a left hook to the body in the fourth.

“I was slow cooking him and I wanted to eat him. I eventually gave up and took him out,” said Scrappy Ramirez. “This was a result of staying focused and making the necessary adjustments."

Also on the DAZN broadcast in a 10-round flyweight fight that went the distance, Rialto’s Ricardo “El Niño” Sandoval (23-2, 16 KOs) secured a tight, unanimous decision victory against Victor Sandoval (37-4, 23 KOs). The toe-to-toe action featured the two flyweights exchanging heavy blows throughout the fight, however, “El Niño” was more effective. The judges scored the bout 97-93, 97-93, and 96-94.

In the night’s championship fight, the Coachella Valley’s Gabriela Fundora (12-0, 5 KOs) maintained her undefeated record and took home the IBF Flyweight Title in a match against Arely “Ametralladora” Muciño (32-4-2, 11 KOs) of Monterrey, Mexico. Scheduled for 10-rounds, Fundora used her long reach and jab and sent Muciño down twice in the fifth round. The corner waved the towel after seeing Muciño hurt and unable to keep up with Fundora at 1:18 in the fifth.

Opening the broadcast, Joeshon James (8-0-2, 5 KOs) of Sacramento, California pulled the upset, with a first-round knockout win at 2:52 against David “Dynamite” Stevens (13-1, 9 KOs). Stevens hit the mat twice, the referee calling the fight in the final seconds.

Opening fight night, highly decorated national champion of San Fernando, Iyana “Roxy” Verduzco (1-0) made a successful professional debut in a four-round lightweight fight against Clarice Morales (0-3-1) of Toledo, Ohio. The fight started with high impact action and had the crowd on their feet, Verduzco taking control of the fight from start to finish.