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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Press Conference: Zab Judah vs. Jose Armando Santa Cruz


On July 16th at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Zab "Super" Judah (38-6, 26 KO's) returns to face the durable Jose Armando Santa Cruz (28-4, 17 KO's) in a ten-round main event on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights". Judah, 32, will be coming off a 9 month layoff when he steps into the ring Friday night, but appears extremely confident moving back down to the junior welterweight division, a weight class where he only lost one time.

"I've taking a year off for Mayweather, a year off for Kostya Tszyu, and I've been off a year just relaxing," stated Judah. "I have a vision in the game that I want to finish up with, and I am going to finish as strong as I started."

Judah is 5-4 with 1 no contest in his last ten bouts. However, he only moved up to welterweight for the money, and was always considered a natural junior welterweight.

"My reason for going up to welterweight was Don King," declared Judah. "Don King said, 'You want to fight Cory Spinks?' I said yeah, yeah I want to do it. I could knock him out! When I won the title, there was no going back."

Judah added, "In the fights with Cotto and Clottey, they were bigger and stronger than me. I wanted to go back to the weight class where I felt comfortable competing. A fight with Mayweather or Pacquiao would be the only reason to go back to 147 lbs."

On the other hand, Santa Cruz, 29, is happy he does not have to make lightweight anymore.

"Making 135 lbs. was too much for me and I felt drained," said Santa Cruz. "I feel very good now. After this fight, I plan on moving up to welterweight."

Since suffering a 6th round knockout loss to Antonio Pitalua in 2008, Santa Cruz has won his last two bouts and attributes that to his father, Jose Santa Cruz Sr., being in his corner.

"My dad gets more out of me," acknowledged Santa Cruz. "He puts more pressure on me than other trainers. He gets mad if I don't do things right."

Santa Cruz believes Judah has really good speed, although he plans to smother Judah's punches and relentlessly attack his body.

"When I put pressure I cannot be reckless," said Santa Cruz. "I must avoid his punches."

This will be Santa Cruz's first fight in New Jersey, however, he did battle Joel Casamayor in 2007 at nearby Madison Square Garden, losing a twelve round split decision. Casamayor, a southpaw like Judah, presents a similar challenge to the Mexican warrior. Santa Cruz believes he has a plan to stop him.

"Both Casamayor and Judah are fast, but I believe Judah is faster," declared Santa Cruz. "I may switch to southpaw against him. I am going to see what will work better during the early rounds. I will apply a lot of pressure to his body."

Judah feels Santa Cruz is tough and is avoided by many fighters.

"A lot of fighters don't want to fight him," said Judah.

An impressive win for Judah could mean a possible fight in the near future against Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan or Devon Alexander. Yet, Judah is not in a rush and not looking past Santa Cruz.

"For 3 1/2 months I had a picture of Santa Cruz in my gym," said Judah. "I'm focused on him."

Judah did acknowledge that a fight against Alexander would be little harder to make than one with Bradley or Khan, because Alexander is promoted by Don King, who used to promote him. There are dates lined up in October and January at the Prudential Center for a possible title shot, which would air on HBO or Showtime.

"How I feel after this fight will dictate what comes next," confirmed Judah.

Judah added, "I've kayoed guys at 147 lbs. and 140 lbs. I bring excitement win, lose or draw."


Undercard Action

Undefeated welterweight prospect Alex Perez (11-0, 7 KO's) takes on tough veteran Edvan Dos Santos Barros (10-9-1, 7 KO's) in an 8 round bout.

In other welterweight action, Sadam Ali (7-0, 3 KO's) puts his undefeated record on the line against Julias Edmonds (7-7, 0 KO's) in a 6 round bout.

After suffering his 1st professional loss, Patrick Farrell (5-1, 3 KO's) will try to bounce back against Newton Kidd (7-7-1, 4 KO's) in a 6 round cruiserweight battle.

In a lightweight bout, Nicky Demarco (2-2, 2 KO's) faces Jose Guzman (5-7-1, 0 KO's) in a rematch. Previously, Guzman won a four-round majority decision. Their rematch is also scheduled for 4 rounds.

Light heavyweight Angel Concepcion (1-0, 0 KO's) will attempt to gain his second professional win against Shannon Anderson (4-1, 2 KO's) in a 4 round match-up.

Heavyweight Adam Kownacki (3-0, 3 KO's) seeks his 4th professional win by knockout when he squares off against Damon Clement (0-2, 0 KO's) in a scheduled four-rounder.

Tickets priced at $53, $78, $103 and $203 (ringside) can be purchased at Prudential Center Box Office, by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or by visiting www.prucenter.com

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Talking Boxing With ESPN's Brian Kenny


Born on October 18, 1963, Brian Kenny attended St. John's University and the New York Institute of Technology. Prior to joining ESPN, Kenny was Sports Director at WTZA-TV in Kingston, N.Y. for 11 years, where he won 11 New York State Broadcasters Association Awards, along with 5 Associated Press Awards for Journalistic Excellence. In 2005, Kenny was the recipient of the Sam Taub Award, given by the Boxing Writers Association of America to its Boxing Broadcaster of the Year.

Recently, I had the opportunity and distinct pleasure of interviewing Brian Kenny, ESPN's Studio Host of "Friday Night Fights". We discussed Zab Judah's next fight, Rafael Marquez' battles with Israel Vazquez, the "Super Six" tournament and much more; here are his thoughts:

Zab Judah returns to action July 16th on "Friday Night Fights" against Jose Armando Santa Cruz. If Judah wins, can he become a major factor again in the junior welterweight division?

I've always loved Zab, but it's rare for anyone to drop back to an old weight class and dominate. It's not as if Zab jumped up to a weight class that was beyond his frame - like Shane Mosley going to 154 lbs. There are a lot of young lions at 140, and I don't know if I'd favor Zab against Amir Khan or Devon Alexander. That, by the way, is not such a disrespectful thing - those are 2 of the most complete young stars in the sport.

After a magnificent trilogy, Rafael Marquez stopped Israel Vazquez quite easily in the 3rd round of their fourth fight. Did you expect Marquez to look so much sharper than Vazquez?

Rafael Marquez has long been one of my favorites. I was definitely surprised by the outcome. I had thought he had gotten the worst of it against Izzy in the 3rd fight, and I thought the whole trilogy sucked the life out of both men. Glad to see a great warrior have that pinpoint precision again, and glad both weren't crippled in the process - they do awful things to the other.

Miguel Cotto is a solid fighter, who fought valiantly in brutal knockout losses to Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao. Has Cotto sustained too much damage to be a force in the junior middleweight division?

I think Cotto is still a major player at welterweight and junior middleweight. I was ringside for his fight with Pacquiao, and he would've beaten most anyone in the world that night. He wasn't damaged walking in - he came in to WIN. It's just that he faced a total warrior, who was just too fast and too nasty. The first 3 rounds of that fight are an all-time great.

With the success of Showtime's "Super Six" tournament, do you see HBO following their footsteps, possibly staging a junior middleweight or junior welterweight tournament soon?

The Super Six tourney is fabulous. It's definitely sparked interest, but it takes so long, takes such cooperation, and is so difficult logistically, I don't see it taking hold. That said, I applaud those who put it together. There isn't a bad match-up in the bunch, but again, that takes its toll on the fighters.

Tomasz Adamek looked exceptional at cruiserweight, winning impressively versus O'Neil Bell, Steve Cunningham and Jonathon Banks. Now, Adamek has conquered Andrew Golota, Jason Estrada and Chris Arreola at heavyweight. How much of a chance do you give Adamek to defeat Vitali and/or Wladimir Klitschko?

Adamek has turned into a very good heavyweight. I did not expect it, but it speaks to where the division is right now that a light-heavyweight champ can jump up post-prime and start beating top ten heavies. Can he beat either Klitschko? No. And no one else can either.

Throughout the history of boxing, there have been some stellar, one-punch knockouts. Which one would you rank higher - "Sugar" Ray Robinson's sweeping left hook versus Gene Fulmer in their second fight in 1957, or Rocky Marciano's right hand blow to Joe Walcott's head in their first meeting in 1952? Is there another one you would personally rank higher than both of those examples?

The Rock's right hand is the best shot ever. Look back at those clips - Marciano ALWAYS found a way. Yes, he ruled a weak era, but looking through his fights, you realize you cannot dismiss him in the all-time debate. He may have hunted down Ali, or out-slugged a prime Joe Louis. Can't rule it out.

I would like to thank Brian Kenny again for taking time out of his extremely busy schedule and granting me this interview. When Brian Kenny is not hosting "Friday Night Fights", you can find him anchoring the 6 p.m. ET edition of Sportscenter, as well as hosting ESPN Radio's "Brian Kenny Show", which debuted in February 2009.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ward Cruises Past Green, Looks Ahead To Bout With Dirrell


 
Andre Ward (22-0, 13 KO's) used superior in-fighting to simply assault Allan Green (29-2, 20 KO's) for twelve rounds, winning 120-108 on all scorecards. With the victory, Ward retained his WBA super middleweight title.

Ward, 26, came out strong from the opening bell, and constantly was first with his shots. Ward never gave Green a chance to get off a jab, as he smothered his shots continuously throughout the fight.

In a slow-paced first round, both fighters tried to get into a rhythm and battled competitively in the clinches. After that, Green was never close to harming Ward. Ward dictated the action, hitting Green and then tying him up. Green managed to land a counter left hook toward the end of round two, although Ward responded swiftly with his own lunging left hook.

In round three, Ward got Green against the ropes and pounded him mercilessly with potent left hooks to the body. Ward took away any strength Green held inside of him, battering him with short, accurate punches for approximately two minutes.

Ward sustained his fierce offensive attack in close quarters during the fourth round, hammering Green with numerous left hooks. Then, Green tagged Ward with a flush left hook, but Ward absorbed it and wore down Green further as the round progressed.

Ward's overall physical strength was just too much for Green to overcome. As the fifth round came to a close, Ward connected with a solid straight right to Green's head.

In the sixth round, Ward and Green traded left hooks. Next, Ward staggered Green with a series of right hands to the head. Green could not back Ward up, which led to Ward peppering him with a multitude of crisp punches.

Green hardly landed any punches in the second half of the fight, and experienced some swelling above his left eye after round seven.

Ward momentarily hurt Green with a right-left combination in the beginning of round ten, and continued to impose his will on a mentally and physically beaten Green.

At times, it seemed Green was sitting back waiting to hit Ward with a counter punch. One of Green's problems was thinking he could counter someone, whom he quickly discovered, possessed much quicker reflexes and hand speed than he did.  Once Green realized he could not compete with Ward's speed, talent and keen instincts, he became a punching bag for the 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist. Another problem Green had was  fighting in close quarters, which was due in large part to Ward's first-rate boxing skills and a lack of mental toughness. When the fight got tough for Green, he just fizzled out and it enabled Ward to overwhelm him in every phase of the game.
Currently, the "Super Six" standings are as follows:
Andre Ward - 4 points (2-0)
Arthur Abraham - 3 points (1-1, 1 KO)
Carl Froch - 2 points (1-1)
Andre Dirrell - 2 points (1-1)
Mikkel Kessler - 2 points (1-1)
Allan Green - 0 points (0-1) *Replaced Jermain Taylor (0-1)*

GROUP STAGE 3

ANDRE DIRRELL vs. ANDRE WARD

CARL FROCH vs. ARTHUR ABRAHAM

MIKKEL KESSLER vs. ALLAN GREEN

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Undercard Announced for July 16th Judah – Santa Cruz, Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.


The undercard for the July 16th Zab “Super” Judah vs. Jose Armando Santa Cruz is shaping up to be a true boxing fan’s treat with abundant local flavor.

The main event featuring Zab Judah, Brooklyn, NY 38-6, 26 KO’s vs. Jose Armando Santa Cruz, Michoacán, Mexico, 28-4, 17 KO will be a 10 round junior welterweight crowd pleaser. Zab promised that the match up will be full of action and excitement and that he has a few surprises in store for the fans.

On the undercard, undefeated welterweight, Alex Perez of Newark, NJ, 11-0, 7 KO’s will bring exciting local action to Prudential Center as he takes on New York City’s, Vincent Arroyo, 10-1, 7 KO’s. These are two excellent welterweight prospects that have trouble getting matches and have decided to fight each other in a true crossroads fight. In his last bout, Arroyo upset Paterson’s Jeremy Bryan.

In his second appearance at Prudential Center, Brooklyn, NY’s, Sadam “Worldkid” Ali, 7-0, 3 KO’s, will defend his unblemished record when he takes on Philadelphia’s, Julius Edmonds, 7-7, in a 6 round welterweight battle. In his last fight at Pru Center Ali thrilled the large number of fans who came to cheer him by scoring a unanimous decision 4 round decision against Jason Thompson.

Patrick Farrell, 5-1, 3 KO’s of Jersey City always brings a big crowd of supportive, boisterous fans when he fights near his hometown.  He will fight a cruiserweight match against Newton “The Butcher” Kidd, Bronx, NY 7-7-1.

Polish fans will be pleased to see that a local “Pole” will also be featured on this card. Heavyweight, Adam Kownacki of Brooklyn, NY, 3-0, 3 KO’s, will try to keep the red and white spirit prevailing at “The Rock” as he takes on Damian Clement, of Dayton, Ohio.

Still craving more local flavor? Nicky DeMarco, 2-2, 2 KO’s, will draw his fans from Staten Island across the river to witness his 4 Round rematch against the Bronx’s Jose Guzman, 5-7-1, who intends to bring a boisterous contingency of his own. In their last meeting DeMarco lost a 4 round decision to Guzman.

Newark’s Angel Concepcion, 1-0, will try to better his record in front of his hometown crowd when he takes on Light Heavyweight, Shannon Anderson of Coatesville, PA, 4-1, 2KO’s.

Tickets priced at $53, $78, $103 and $203 (ringside) can be purchased at Prudential Center Box Office, by calling TicketMaster at 800-745-3000 or www.Prucenter.com.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fight Preview: Andre Ward vs. Allan Green

 Photos by Howard Schatz

Andre Ward is a rising star, who is undefeated (21-0, 13 KO’s) and by the end of the “Super Six” Tournament, may be regarded as the best super middleweight in the world. After a stellar amateur career where Ward won the Light Heavyweight Gold Medal at the 2004 Olympic Games, his decisive victory over Edison “Pantera” Miranda placed him among the elite super middleweight contenders. Then, Ward’s dominating performance over Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler, in which he captured the WBA Super Middleweight Championship, was his finest to date. He displayed phenomenal hand speed, ring generalship and precise combination punching. Ward has truly taken his skills to the next level, and is well on his way to reaching the summit of his craft.

On the other hand, Ward’s next opponent, Allan Green (29-1, 20 KO’s), is no pushover. Green enters the tournament as a substitute for Jermain Taylor, who withdrew from competition after suffering a devastating knockout loss at the hands of Germany’s Arthur Abraham. Green is a prominent replacement for Taylor. He possesses an excellent amateur background that includes winning the 2002 National Golden Gloves at light heavyweight. As a professional, Green’s most memorable victory was a crushing 1st round knockout versus previously unbeaten Jaidon Codrington on ShoBox. After that, Green won his next five bouts, which included victories against Anthony Bonsante (TKO 5) and Jerson Ravelo (TKO 8).

However, Green suffered a setback in his bout with Edison “Pantera” Miranda, losing a ten round unanimous decision. Green knocked Miranda down in the 8th round, but Miranda floored Green twice in the tenth. At times, Green looked lethargic and Miranda took full advantage, landing a multitude of well-timed overhand rights. Later on, Green was faced with even more adversity in the summer of 2007 when surgery was performed to remove the majority of his colon. After successful surgery, Green resumed his career and picked up where he left off before the loss to Miranda. Since suffering his only professional defeat, Green has won his last six fights, ending four of them by knockout. Green may have been overlooked when the participants were selected for the “Super Six” tournament, although he could be a major force in it now.

One of the keys to victory for Ward is the use of his overhand right. Green has a tendency to hold his left hand too low, which enables opponents to land the overhand right with remarkable accuracy. Miranda was able to greatly exploit this flaw in Green’s arsenal, and it is likely that with Ward’s sophisticated punching, he will be able to do the same.

Conversely, Green possesses significant power, swift hand speed and exceptional countering ability, especially with his left hook. After throwing his right, Ward needs to be extremely careful that Green does not immediately land his potent left hook. Green throws and lands clear-cut punches too, but he is not as fluid with his overall punch output compared to Ward. Look for Ward to utilize his superior lateral movement, as Green will patiently try to offset his attack.

Can Ward handle Green’s power? Will Green be able to throw enough power punches to increase his chances for a knockout? Green may have trouble landing a high percentage of his shots in this fight, although he absolutely owns the power to hurt Ward. In his past fights, Green has displayed the capability to easily finish an opponent after he hurts them, and holds a 67% knockout ratio to Ward’s 62%. Yet, Ward owns the skills to counteract Green’s offense with superb lateral movement, which decreases the likelihood that Green will be able to land meaningful combination punches.

Which fighter will be able to get off their punches first? If Green can establish a strong left jab, he can neutralize Ward’s foot speed. Ward is known to use his legs more to set up his offensive attack, but that does not necessarily indicate he can get in and out without absorbing crisp, accurate punches from Green.

Prediction: Andre Ward is a better boxer than Green, and I see him dictating the pace in the bout. That being said, I believe Green can and will hurt Ward at some point during the fight. How will Ward react when Green hits him? I think Ward can take a solid punch, and I don’t think Green will be able to land enough to win on points. Therefore, I think Green’s only way to win will be by a knockout.

Green has expressed enormous confidence coming into the bout, stating on the Leave-It-In-The-Ring radio show, “Nothing I’ve seen on Andre Ward worries me at all. He’s a good fighter; he’s smart, he’s slick, but so am I.”

Green added, “He’s a very smart fighter, very foxy, thinks a lot and reminds me of me when I was an amateur fighter without the power. I respect his fight game, but when it comes down to it, if I can do the same things you do, and better than you do it, or just as good as you do it, and I hit harder than you, than there’s a problem for you, not me.”

Conventional wisdom tells me to pick Andre Ward by a 12 round unanimous decision, but Green has me buying the hype. I feel he is in tremendous shape, and is exhibiting the exact confidence a fighter needs to win. I’ll go with the underdog and pick Allan Green by a 10th round TKO.

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