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Monday, June 25, 2012

Wohlman Scheduled to Fight in July

Welterweight Zachary "Kid Yamaka" Wohlman is scheduled to step back into the ring on Thursday, July 12. As of now, he is scheduled to headline a Bash Boxing card of up-and-comers at the Florentine Gardens in Hollywood, California.

Wohlman (3-0, one KO) trains in Freddie Roach's Wildcard Gym in Hollywood. He won his last fight, which took place last March, by first round knockout. Wohlman has fought all three of his professional bouts in the Los Angeles area.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Nakash Fails to Make Weight, Out of Tourney

In a stunning development, Ran Nakash failed to make the cruiserweight limit in two attempts today and will not take part in the Super 8 Last Man Standing cruiserweight tournament to be held in South Africa over the coming months.

South African sources are reporting that Nakash left the premises after two failed attempts at weighing in at 200 pounds or less. He was given another shot, but declined to try to make weight. He had claimed he trained hard and asserted he was eager to win the three required matches to capture the tournament title, but the scales tell a different tale.

Nakash has often weighed over 200 pounds for his fights, but for his last two, the two biggest bouts of his career, he made weight. Before each of his previous five contests, he had weighed in over the cruiserweight limit. The Krav Maga expert stands only about 5'9", but is thick and muscular from his neck to his knees.

Since he had been able to make weight for his title shot against Marco Huck, a fight in which he took on only eight days notice, and against Derek Bryant this year, it seems Nakash simply did not take this fight as seriously as he did for the previous two.

This marks the third consecutive fight to be canceled after The Jewish Boxing Blog went through the trouble of posting a preview, dating back to last summer. Concerns over the existence of some kind of JBB jinx are growing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nakash-Muller Preview

Last Man Standing, an ambitious cruiserweight tournament promoted by Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves Promotions, starts this Saturday. In the first round, Ran Nakash will face Johnny Muller of South Africa at the Emperor's Palace in Muller's home country.

Nakash (26-1, 18 KOs) is the heavy favorite to win on Saturday and to take the entire tournament. Has the most experience and has fought the toughest competition. Nakash is the lone non-African and success in this tournament will likely increase his fan base within South Africa.

Nakash is a come-forward fighter who loves attacking his opponent's body. He possesses an iron chin. His weakness has been stamina. Against Victor Barragan in July of 2010, Nakash found going ten rounds to be difficult in a unanimous decision victory.

In his world title shot in 2011 against Marco Huck, stamina was Nakash's undoing. After a strong first seven rounds, with only the fifth clearly going to Huck, the Krav Maga instructor faded during the second half of the contest. Still, he deserved no worse than a draw, but instead received a lopsided unanimous decision loss in Huck's adopted country of Germany. In a unanimous decision victory over Derek Bryant this year, Nakash did not experience the same stamina issues as he had in the previous two bouts. The Bryant fight was only scheduled for eight rounds, however.

The good news for Nakash is the match against Muller is scheduled for eight rounds. Muller (10-1-2, 7 KOs) is a heavy underdog. He's fought as a heavyweight five times, but his last four have been at light heavyweight. In his sole loss, he was KOed against a rather nondescript man in this tournament. One draw was against a 7-7-1 fighter and the other was against a winless opponent. All of his fights have been in South Africa against local opposition.

Muller's only advantage is familiarity with his surroundings. He has fought at the Emperor's Palace nine times.

At this week's press conference, Nakash remarked, "I don’t know Johnny Muller at all, but I trained hard and it’s going to be a great fight." Nakash is hoping three wins in this tournament will lead to another title shot.

He explained, "After my fight against Huck, I haven't stopped dreaming about when my next title fight will come. It is all I think about every day. For me to fulfill that dream, I must win the Super 8, and that is exactly what I intend on doing."

The subsequent rounds are scheduled to take place on September 22 and November 10.

Read more about the competitors participating in the tournament.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Look Back: Jack Portney

In an effort to link the past with the present, The Jewish Boxing Blog will present monthly a short biography of notable former Jewish boxers.

Jack Portney was an internationally-known, world-rated welterweight during the inter-war period. But, despite his status, Portney never obtained a title fight because he was a southpaw. After he retired from the ring, Portney ran a successful sporting goods store.

Jack Portney was born in Horochow, Russia on June 27, 1910. His family moved to America when Jack was young, and he grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. As a young boy, he sold newspapers. By the time he was 16 years old, in 1926, he had begun a career in boxing. When his mother found out that Jack had turned to boxing, his brother Sam remembers, "My mother chased Jack with a broom."

Following a late night meal celebrating a victory in his third fight, his father felt indigestion, later had a heart attack, and died shortly thereafter. That tragedy furthered Jack's resolve to succeed in the sport of boxing. He was one of eight siblings. His large family depended on the income.

By 1929, Portney became a fan favorite in Baltimore. It was then he decided to marry his girlfriend, Berdie, who he affectionately called Butch. When Berdie's mother found out they had been dating, she slapped her daughter. When she learned her daughter had married a boxer, she fainted.

But Berdie was undeterred. She believed in Jack and helped her husband train. She was a strict disciplinarian and made sure Jack completed his road work. Berdie drove her husband all across the south to each of his fights. Before each fight, Berdie made sure she and Jack slept in separate rooms, locking her own.

Portney, standing 5'5", was nicknamed the Baltimore Buzz Saw because of his relentless offensive style. He had good power and a sturdy chin. By 1930, he had moved up from lightweight to welterweight after splitting a couple of decisions with former featherweight champion Kid Kaplan. He lost to former junior lightweight champion Benny Bass in 1933, but had amassed an impressive record by that point. Yet, he was always overlooked by the top fighters of the day, because they didn't want to take the risk of fighting Portney.

By 1934, Portney had become frustrated with not getting fights in America and found himself fighting successfully in Australia. He fought eight times in the Land Down Under and only lost once. That includes a win over former junior lightweight champion Tod Morgan. Throughout his time in Australia, he sent a letter to his wife every day. Forty years later, a visit by Jack and Berdie was big news in Australia. Their stop covered the sports pages.

Upon arriving back in America, Portney avenged his loss to Bass in 1935. But still, Portney could not get a title fight. He offered to fight Barney Ross for nothing, but Ross declined. Portney fought until 1938. BoxRec claims his record was 92-20-6 with 22 KOs (and 3-2 in newspaper decisions, where fights were not legally allowed to be decided on points, so newspapers gave their ruling the next day).

When Jack retired, he opened up several billiard parlors and a well-known sporting goods store in Baltimore. He spent his post-boxing career as a loving husband and family man, a successful businessman, and a world traveler with his wife. He died on February 11, 1991 in Baltimore after a bout with Alzheimer's.

"Jack Portney, 80, fighter and sports entrepreneur, dies." Baltimore Sun. February 13, 1991.
Olesker, Michael. "Samuel Portney keeps alive his brother's boxing legacy." Baltimore Sun. May 28, 2002.
Simon, Roger. "Fighter became 'prize husband' to one woman." Baltimore Sun. June 5, 1991.
Weiner, Deb. "The Golden Age of Jewish Boxing." Jewish Museum of Maryland: The Blog. February 1, 2011.
YouTube video with unnamed friend. "Jack Portney Jewish history."

Special thanks to Dr. Deb Weiner of the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Melson's Fight is Off

Junior middleweight Boyd Melson was looking to rebound from his first professional loss, a disputed decision to Delen Parsley, next Thursday against Enrique Gallegos. But an injury to Melson has caused that fight to be cancelled.

In the fight against Parsley, Melson (8-1, 4 KOs) knocked the lanky undefeated prospect off his feet multiple times, but still came up on the short end of the score cards after the scheduled eight rounds. Melson is looking to return from the fractured orbital bone at some point this summer.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Couple of Kid Yamaka Videos

Here are a couple of videos conducted by Elie Seckbach with Zac "Kid Yamaka" Wohlman.

In this first video, Wohlman discusses the possible clash between his mentor, Paulie Malignaggi, and his co-religionist, Dmitriy Salita. Wohlman explains, "I like that fight. I think Paulie [wins] hands down."

In this second video, Wohlman describes his experience being in jail and gives advice to Floyd Mayweather, whose three-month jail term commenced a few days ago. Wohlman declares, "Boxing saved my life."

Wohlman anticipates he'll fight against at the end of the month in California.

You can check out Elie Seckbach's site here.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Malignaggi Wants Salita

As reported by Mitch Abramson of BoxingScene.com, welterweight beltholder Paulie Malignaggi hopes to fight fellow Brooklynite Dmitriy Salita in his first defense on October 20 at the new Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York. He told reporters, "I think me and Dmitriy would be a huge event in Brooklyn."

Salita (33-1-1, 17 KOs) has won his last three fights. But they have come against journeymen and he hasn't been in the ring since April, 2011.

Salita's attorney, Kurt Emhoff, told Abramson about the negotiations thus far, "It's a fight both fighters want. Now, it's up to Golden Boy [Promotions, Malignaggi's promoter] if they want the fight."

That could be an issue for a few reasons. Some fans take a dim view of Salita's ability, dating back to his lackluster 2009 title challenge against Amir Khan. In these fans' minds, that loss confirmed their belief that he has built up his impressive record on soft competition. Salita's prolonged absence from the ring also hurts his stake as a credible opponent.

Malignaggi (31-4, 7 KOs) noted of Salita, "Hopefully, this summer he gets himself back into contention." Salita said himself that he hopes to fight this summer in order to shake off the rust before a potential bout with Malignaggi. The opponent will likely have to be a legitimate welterweight contender to convince Golden Boy to accept the fight with Malignaggi.

On The Colbert Report last week, Author Jack Hitt philosophized, "[F. Scott] Fitzgerald said that there are no second acts in America, but I would argue that there's nothing but second acts." With a win this summer, Dmitriy Salita certainly deserves one against Paulie Malignaggi in front of the hometown fans.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Boyd Melson's Cause

Here is a short video explaining what motivates junior middleweight Boyd Melson in fighting to find a cure for spinal cord injuries. Melson donates his boxing purses to cause.

Melson next fights at the Roseland Ballroom in New York, New York on June 14 against Enrique Gallegos.