Archive for June, 2017

ROC Bottom

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

By William Trillo

As defined by “Rock Bottom”: A state of being wherein you feel as if you cannot sink any lower emotionally, psychologically, or physically.

As I walked into The Event Center at The Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on Saturday night to cover the ROC NATION promoted Ward vs. Kovalev rematch the only palpable buzz surrounding the event came from the busloads of EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival) attendees who were busy doing whatever it is they do at their event.

Outside of that there was not enough electricity coming from the event to charge a cell phone. That should have come as no surprise to me or anyone else as the weigh-in for the fight just the day before produced maybe a handful of interested fans.

Considering this was a highly anticipated rematch between two legitimate Top 10 Pound4Pound contenders it seemed odd a fight like this could fly so far under the radar. Only a few months earlier the fight promoted by Main Events produced a whole heck of a lot more interest.

ROC NATION took the reigns as lead promoter for this event Saturday night and for all intents and purposes it looked like they were driving this one right off a cliff.

Maybe things would get better once I got inside the arena.

They didn’t.

As I walked into the media room the first person I saw was our ace reporter Daniel Cloutier sitting at a table watching the fights on the media room TV. Cloutier informed me that his seat in the arena was all the way up at the top of the Event Center, visibility was negligible at best. This is how ROC NATION treated one of boxing’s best and longtime reporters. Cloutier flew in on Sunday from Montreal to cover the event and was one of the few whom covered all the events during fight week. His thanks from ROC NATION was the nose bleed seats. To add insult to injury was the fact that ROC NATION handed out premium media passes in mass quantities to their posse and their women, none of whom had any intention of reporting.

Apparently, their main reason for being there was to cheer for their fighter from media row, (highly frowned upon), and jeer and laugh at anyone who they deemed enemies. It was deplorable but it looked like ROC NATION not only approved but were joining in on the less than professional outbursts. Hear me loud and clear, whether you are a media member or not, cheering for your guy from media row is as bad as it gets. The media area was a circus. I am surprised any legitimate and working media member was able to get anything accomplished at all.

And hey, thanks for that awesome spread for dinner. Who did you have cater this affair? The Las Vegas County Jail Commissary? I am still trying to decide if those were burger patties or hockey pucks.

As to the show itself, when the PPV broadcast started the chirping of crickets and a smattering of fans was all those who were watching the broadcast could hear and see. The announced attendance was 10,592 but I am told by a reliable source that officially ticket sales barely broke the 1,000 mark. The remaining 9,000 who showed up moments before the main event were there courtesy of ROC NATION papering the house. I can’t wait to see the amount of PPV buys this dog generated.

The post fight press conference was abysmal. Jeers and laughter directed at Main Events came from those credentialed posse members who had no business being in attendance. And let me ask you this. When Kovalev’s manager Egis Klimis took the microphone why was it okay to mock his Eastern European accent out loud and poke fun at him? Had the shoe been on the other foot would it have been okay to run with some uneducated ghetto smack? I think not. I am sure anyone who attempted that would have been drug out of the room by his heels. Reverse racism is just as bad as claiming racism where it doesn’t exist at all, maybe worse. That is not opinion…that’s fact!

What is also fact is that this was as poorly orchestrated a promotion from top to bottom that has blown through Sin City in years.

There, I had to get that off my chest.

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Ward vs. Kovalev II: Borderline

Monday, June 19th, 2017

By William Trillo
Photo: David Spagnolo – Main Events

If there is one thing we know about Light Heavyweight Champion Andre Ward is that he knows how to win no matter what it takes. He has been called a dirty fighter by many at times. After his TKO victory over Sergey Kovalev many will say his tactics were right on the borderline. In fact that is how the low punches delivered by Ward on Kovalev’s belt line have been described, right on the borderline. Whether or not you think those punches were legal or not it’s clear those blows took Kovalev out of his game.

Numerous times thundering blows landed on Kovalev’s belt line and with each and every shot you could see Kovalev’s power and strength dwindling. No one including Kovalev will argue that fact.

The crushing right hand Ward landed in round eight was the beginning of the end and Ward jumped on Kovalev with body shots that forced Kovalev to take a seat on the ropes. Ref Tony Weeks had seen enough and waved the fight off at that point. It also can be argued Weeks stopped the fight too early, but that is merely hindsight now.

I think the telling moment was in the previous round when Kovalev turned his back on Ward looking to escape the onslaught.

Kovalev’s promoter Kathy Duva believes it’s those borderline shots that weakened her fighter and she plans on protesting the stoppage. The NSAC has already stated that all the blows were legal and it appears her protest will fall on deaf ears.

For Andre it looks like he is literally looking for bigger things ahead as he mentioned a jump to cruiserweight while his trainer Virgil Hunter suggested Ward could beat Heavyweight Champ Anthony Joshua. That could be a bit of a stretch.

It’s hard to tell where Kovalev will go from here.

Ward/Kovalev 2 will be argued for weeks to come but the fact remains Ward did what he had to in order to win.

“Borderline, Feels like I’m going to lose my mind” Madonna

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Boxing Troops Rally Around Injured Franco

Monday, June 12th, 2017

By William Trillo

Featherweight Daniel “Twitch” Franco suffered a severe brain injury in his match on Saturday night in Sioux City and had immediate emergency surgery to stop two brain bleeds. Along with his Father Al, Franco remains in the Iowa hospital under the watchful eye of medical specialists.

In the aftermath of the tragic event I have seen the boxing community step up like never before to rally around the fallen fighter. As I write this article the gofundme page set up on his behalf has generated over $20,000 worth of donations. The money will help with the costs of so many things we never think about until a time like this, hospital bills, hotel accommodations for his family to stay close by his side, travel expenses and the aftercare that Franco will need when he is released from the hospital.

I have had a chance to communicate with Franco’s father Al over the past days. Being there with his son but not being able to do anything to help is admittedly the toughest thing he has ever been through. Franco is very thankful for the outpouring of love and prayers that are coming their way.

I am asking everyone to keep those prayers coming as “Twitch” was taken back into surgery as he is bleeding in the brain again. Let’s all gather together and pray that the buildup in pressure will go down and the bleeding stops with this surgery.

It seems like just yesterday when we attended and videotaped a show in Pomona CA that the young Franco was fighting in his second professional fight. You could see even in his early career that Franco loved his sport and with his father close by his side in his corner they had a good career ahead of them.

That was early in 2011.

It’s mid-2017 now and Franco faces the toughest fight of his life and just like in all his other bouts, his Father Al is there in his corner right by his side. In times like these it’s difficult to express in mere words how to address these kinds of situations. I can tell you that the Franco’s are a well-respected and loved family in the boxing community here in California. They will have all our support during this chapter of their lives.

Please see the link below for Daniel’s gofundme page.

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The Lowest Common Denominator

Monday, June 5th, 2017

By William Trillo

As soon as Adonis Stevenson clubbed Andrzej Fonfara on the top of the head and virtually incapacitated the Polish fighter my immediate thought was to wonder if this is another in a growing line of fighters who have went to Virgil Hunter for help only to find themselves getting steamrolled into oblivion. It’s hard not to consider the facts when it comes to Amir Khan, Alfredo Angulo and now Fonfara. No one will argue their respective careers went south when they went to the training camp up north, (Northern California that is).

Hunter’s claim to fame has always been his association with Andre Ward and he has gravy trained that into some other high profile fighters corners. That is an indisputable fact. Now… there are plenty who say any trainer could have trained the naturally gifted Ward into Super Stardom but I will not go that far simply because I think the bond Hunter has with Ward is something special but…I am not convinced Hunter can take fighters like Angulo and Fonfara and turn them into anything noteworthy. Let the record speak for itself.

Just thinking out loud…Can someone explain to me why Fonfara would go into a rematch with Stevenson and go toe to toe with him from the opening bell? Seems to me the smart thing to do would be to stay outside, use your jab some, move a lot, clinch and grab after throwing punches…you know…kind of what Andre Ward does throughout the fight, in every fight. It’s as boring as hell and awful to watch but hey…Ward has taken that routine to the top. And by the way, it’s a hell of a lot safer than putting yourself in Superman’s wheelhouse and allowing him to bounce thunder off the top of your head.

In Hunters defense, I will say he made the right call in stopping the fight. Fonfara was finished before round one was over. Sending him out in round two at least gave the fighter a chance to redeem himself. But alas, it was clear in seconds his night was over. There was no need for it to continue.

I will be curious to see if there will be any fighters in the near future who will be so anxious to head to Oakland in search of Hunter’s tutelage. My guess is Virgil’s run as Flavor Of The Month is going to come to a grinding halt sooner rather than later.

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P.S. And if Hunter is all that then why did Team Ward reach out to Sergey Kovalev’s trainer John David Jackson to ask him if he would jump camps and help Ward in the rematch? Unless of course you just did it to try to muck up the chemistry in Camp Kovalev. Why else would you leak false rumors about Jackson reaching out to your side first?