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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chilemba Cruises to Victory over Saunders

Light heavyweight Isaac Chilemba controlled the action Saturday night at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut during his fight with journeyman Rayco Saunders. Chilemba won every round of the bout earning a unanimous decision victory thanks to three scores of 80-72.

Chilemba was originally scheduled to face two-time champion Zsolt Erdei on HBO, but Erdei backed out due to a cracked rib. That left Chilemba without an opponent until about a week out from fight night. With the win, Chilemba, who weighed 177 pounds, improves to 20-1-1 with 9 KOs. Saunders, who was 175, tumbles to 22-17-2 with 9 KOs.

In a just world, Chilemba's wide win over Saunders coupled with the misfortune of Erdei's injury would land Isaac another date on HBO in the near future against a top light heavyweight. That's exactly what he desires.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Wohlman Speaks on His Last Fight

Zachary "Kid Yamaka" Wohlman's last fight was stopped after the third round because of a head clash and cut that opened up on his forehead. A technical draw was ruled. Wohlman described to The Jewish Boxing Blog how the clash with his opponent, Jesus Vallejo, occurred, "I slipped inside his right hand, [and] since he was lunging forward, his head smacked right against mine." Wohlman needed 32 stitches.

The result has been hard for Wohlman to take. He reveals, "I'm pretty heartbroken about it. It's like being upset over getting rear ended. The fact is I'm completely powerless." It's especially frustrating because, as Wohlman says, "I was dismantling this opponent and using my skills. I had every round on the cards, he was bleeding from his nose, mouth etc."

But Zachary is astute enough to see the silver-lining. He notes, "Paulie [Malignaggi] explained to me when I was getting stitched up, that sometimes it's better to just get a wild guy out of there if he's hurt because the longer it goes on, the more chance there is for something crazy to happen (like a headbutt). So next time I see it's time for my opponent to go, I'm going to sit down [on my punches] and finish the job."

Though this is an aggravating bump in the road, it's evident that Wohlman, a thinking man's boxer, possesses a rare combination of confidence and humility. He knows the strength of his abilities in the ring. But he's willing to learn from those around him. That skill will coming in handy because he's surrounded by some of the best minds in boxing, including Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Wohlman on His Sparring Partners

Elie Seckbach interviewed Zachary Wohlman last week. Wohlman discussed sparring with the likes of Amir Khan and Paulie Malignaggi. He also talked about what it means to be a Jewish boxer. "It's cool...but at the end of the day, they've got two hands and two feet and they're going to punch you, it's all the same."

Wohlman, nicknamed "Kid Yamaka," is 4-0-1 and is coming off of a technical draw against Jesus Vallejao last Thursday due to a headbutt that stopped the fight before the start of the fourth round.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Melson Earns Tenth Win, Heyman Wins Too

Boyd Melson defeated Yolexcy Leiva by unanimous decision Saturday night at the Resorts World Casino in Queens, New York. Melson weighed in at 154.5 pounds and Leiva was 153. After knocking down Leiva with a right hook in the first, the southpaw Melson boxed his way to victory.

Melson controlled the bout throughout, winning with scores of 59-54 (twice) and 58-55. After the fight, Melson remarked, “I didn’t have such a battle against weight for this fight so I wasn’t fatigued.” Melson advances to 10-1 with four KOs and Leiva falls to 5-5 with four KOs. As always, Boyd  has donated his purse to Justadollarplease.org.

Max Heyman was also in action Saturday night. He faced Chris "Cold Steel" Thomas at Indian School in Santa Fe, New Mexico and won a unanimous decision. Heyman was 185.25 pounds while Thomas weighed in at 188.5 pounds fort the contest which featured three knockdowns. Heyman sent Thomas to the canvass twice while Heyman went down once. All three judges scored the bout 58-53 in favor of Heyman.

In the second round, Heyman, sporting a bald head, landed a left hook to the body that hurt Thomas badly. Thomas went down writhing in pain, but managed to beat the count. Thomas's knockdown came when he stepped on Heyman's foot in the third while connecting with a punch. Otherwise, Heyman, who works as a paramedic for the fire department in Albuquerque, controlled the action.

Heyman complained of an injured right hand after the bout. He broke his left hand in first fight with Mike Alderete in 2010. Last year, he was preparing to battle Gayrat Ahmedov when he broke the same hand.

With the win, "Mad" Max improves his record to 25-11-4 with 14 KOs. Thomas is now 17-17-2 with 14 KOs. Thomas has now won only one of his previous 15 bouts dating back to 2004. Heyman had been away from the ring for nearly 23 months and this marked only his fourth fight since 2007.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chilemba to Fight Rayco Saunders

Light heavyweight Isaac "Golden Boy" Chilemba is scheduled to fight Rayco "War" Saunders on September 29 at the Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut. Chilemba was originally scheduled to fight undefeated two-time champion Zsolt Erdei, but Erdei pulled out of the bout complaining of broken ribs.

Chilemba's clash with Erdei was supposed to be televised on HBO. When Erdei dropped out earlier this month, Chilemba was taken off of the televised portion of the card. For the next two weeks, Chilemba was left without an opponent as promoters scrambled to find a suitable replacement. Things looked bleak, because, frankly, Chilemba is too good. No qualified opponent was willing to fight the dangerous Malawi-native without a full training camp.

At that point, Chilemba told The Jewish Boxing Blog, "[I] hope it works out or I have had a costly 5 week vacation." Some vacation; Chilemba definitely wasn't relaxing on a beach. He trained day in and day out for those five weeks at the Hit Factory in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Thankfully, an opponent was found. Rayco Saunders (22-16-2, 9 KOs) likely won't pose much of a problem for Chilemba (19-1-1, 9 KOs). Saunders is a capable journeyman who has feasted on mediocre competition and consistently lost when he steps up.

But Saunders is tough. In his 16 losses, he has only been stopped once and that was back in 2003. In the past two years, he's gone the distance with prospect Ismayl Sillakh and world title challenger Edison Miranda. Saunders outpointed veteran Daniel Judah last year.

Chilemba, rated ninth in the world at light heavyweight according to The Ring, is coming off of an impressive decision victory over Miranda back in February.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Accidental Headbutt Stops Wohlman's Fight

Zachary Wohlman fought Jesus Vallejo last night hoping to maintain his perfect record. With the crowd at the Florentine Gardens in Hollywood, California on his side, Wohlman looked poised to capture victory once again.

But a nasty clash of heads opened a gash on Wohlman's forehead. The doctor advised referee Raul Caiz Sr. to stop the fight. The California State Athletic Commission has some rather interesting rules regarding accidental headbutts, which came into play on this night. In most places in the United States, an accidental headbutt before four rounds are completed results in a No Decision. In California, if the fourth round starts, the judges decide the winner, scoring the partial round. Since this fight never reached the start of the fourth, it's considered a technical draw.

So, this headbutt and resulting technical draw needlessly sullies Wohlman's record a bit. It is now 4-0-1 with one KO. Vallejo is 3-7-1 with three KOs. Wolman was 148.6 pounds for this fight and Vallejo was 148.4.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Kid Yamaka's Opponent for the 20th

Zachary "Kid Yamaka" Wohlman will be back in the ring next Thursday, September 20 at the Florentine Gardens in Hollywood, California.  Montana-resident Jesus Vallejo is the scheduled opponent for the four-round welterweight clash.

Wohlman (4-0, one KO) is accustomed to facing opponents on short notice. When asked about the challenge of not being able to prepare specifically for a particular opponent, Zac told The Jewish Boxing Blog, "Almost all of the sparring I get in the gym is with ex or current world champions. Freddie [Roach] and Eric [Brown] don't make it easy on me... I know that I've been training with the best, and I'm fundamentally sound."

Wohlman realizes that, at this stage of his career, he's the favorite heading into each match. But he's not over-confident. Since the guys he faces have nothing to lose, Wohlman notes, "They can be very dangerous. So as always [I] stay focused and stay sharp."

Vallejo, 29, has shown he can be dangerous. He won his first three fights by knockout. But he's lost his last seven and was stopped in five of them. Four of those knockout losses were in California or Nevada to quality prospects, a category in which Wohlman belongs.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Look Back: Mark Weinman

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.

Mark Weinman represents that effort better than anyone. A prospect who saw his career derailed over two decades ago, Weinman triumphantly returned to the ring at the age of 50 last week.

Weinman was born on August 5, 1962 and raised in Queens, New York. There, he developed a love for boxing along with his younger brother, David. Mark found success in the amateurs. He won the Spanish Golden Gloves and was a three-time Police Athletic League champion. In 1983, Weinman came up short against Dennis Milton in the New York Golden Gloves 156-pound final.

On November 21, 1985, Weinman, a junior middleweight, made his professional debut. It resulted in a second round stoppage victory over Ted Dancey in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Weinman, nicknamed the "Hebrew Hammer," saw his next four bouts also end inside the distance. All were victories.

On July 10, 1986, Weinman easily outpointed Eric Holland despite giving up six and a half pounds to his opponent. Holland was winless at the time, but would later win a minor world title at middleweight. In his next bout, Weinman cruised to a unanimous decision victory over another winless fighter.

The Hammer then returned to his power-punching ways. Charles Bullock (5-1 at the time) was stopped 1:23 into the fifth round by Weinman in January of 1987. Weinman improved to 8-0. His next two matches resulted in 5th round TKOs as well. Undefeated Dennis Dickerson was one of the victims. L.C. Robinson was knocked down twice in first round of his August 20, 1987 bout with Weinman before the fight was stopped. Bernie "Schoolboy" Friedkin, a popular Jewish fighter from years before, was a judge.

With his amateur pedigree and 11-0 record (nine KOs), Weinman looked the part of a future champion. Mark featured a devastating left hook to the body, his signature punch. He took a step up to fight undefeated Warren Williams in Las Vegas, Nevada. It marked the first time Weinman was to fight outside of New York or New Jersey. For the first time in his career, Mark lost. He was stopped in the seventh. The careers of both fighters then hit a downward spiral.

Weinman tried to get right back into the ring, but was stopped again two months later. He took time away from the sport until returning at middleweight against Kelvin Prather on September 20, 1991. He was stopped again.

Weinman then retired and became a trainer. One of his charges was heavyweight Richie Melito (27-1, 25 KOs), who he guided from the Parrot Gym in Queens, New York. He has continued to shape young men since.

But a year ago, Weinman had a revelation. It seemed he had more desire than some of his boxers. So, he planned a comeback. Mark claimed, "I feel fresh; I had only 14 pro fights, so I'm not shopworn. I can still punch like a mule. I have been training for this comeback since the summer of 2011 and have boxed over 500 rounds. My left hook is back and their are no weight problems anymore. My stamina feels great."

Last Friday, Weinman entered the ring as a combatant for the first time in 21 years. Lights beamed off his now-hairless head. He faced 36-year old veteran journeyman Elvi "El Burrito" Martinez. A mere 39 seconds into the second round, referee Frank Gentile waved off the fight. Weinman had gained some redemption with his first victory in 25 years.

After the bout, Mark explained, "I didn't like the way my career ended. I started out 11-0 as a pro with nine knockouts, but things didn't go well after that. I wanted to try it again." He is now 12-3 with 10 KOs.

Baker, Al. "There is a contender..." New York Daily News. March 5, 1995.
Folstad, Rick. "Return to ring a victorious one." Tamps Bay Online. September 8, 2012.
Nussbaum, James Ford. "50-year old makes boxing comeback after 21-year absence tomorrow." GP MEDIA-Galileo Productions, LLC blog. September 9, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Review of The Good Son: The Life of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini

The Good Son: The Life of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini
By: Mark Kriegel
Free Press, 2012
Available: September 18, 2012.

Mark Kriegel's The Good Son is a well-researched chronicle of the career of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini in the wider context of the contemporary boxing world, life in Youngstown, Ohio, and Mancini's family history. The book is more thought-provoking than it is riveting. Though Mancini became America's sweetheart by receiving punches to the face- a phenomenon few readers will have experienced- Kriegel does an effective job of making Mancini relatable. And since tragedies dot the pages, feeling Mancini's pain makes it a difficult book to get through in one sitting.

But that doesn't make it any less worth the effort. Initially, Ray Mancini's lone mission in life was to win the championship that had escaped the grasp of his dad, an engaging man who came so close until he won a Purple Heart for the injury in World War II that ended his boxing career. The relationship between father and son is one of mutual affection and redemption. Ray's character is portrayed with more depth in the tragic aftermath of his encounter with Duk Koo Kim. From that point on, Ray was a man clamoring to regain the unbridled adulation he received before that fateful fight.

Kriegel's accounts of the in-the-ring action are vivid and enjoyable. His descriptions of Mancini's battles with Alexis Arguello, Kim, and Livingstone Bramble aren't mired in unnecessary detail. Instead, Kriegel hits the necessary notes in order to give a clear picture of the events while pushing the story forward.

Jews in boxing play a peripheral role in this tale. Ray's father Lenny was trained by the legendary Ray Arcel. Bernie "Schoolboy" Friedkin was a stablemate. Lenny's team of Frankie Jacobs and Arcel hoped he would be another Jackie "Kid" Berg, who had been guided by the two sages.

As for Ray, Kenny "Bang Bang" Bogner was perennially mentioned as a prospective opponent. After the Kim fight, Mancini saw Bogner defeat Gonzalo Montellano. In the beginning of that bout, Mancini winced whenever Bogner landed, but by the end Ray was excited to take on Bogner as a foe.

Mancini was scheduled to face Bang Bang in South Africa in 1983 with Frank Sinatra prepared to give a concert as part of the show. Mancini had to back out because of a bizarre shoulder injury endured in sparring. They were slated to fight in 1984 as well. But Mancini sustained a cut in training and backed out of another fight with Bogner. A member of Mancini's team said, "The cut wasn't bad enough to stop that fight... We made it look a little worse than it was. Ray was going to get beat."

The Good Son is recommended reading for all boxing fans, students of Youngstown, and anyone who enjoys a good father-son story.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Erdei Pulls Out, Chilemba off HBO

Isaac Chilemba threw his heart and soul into training for what looked like his big break. He was to fight Zsolt Erdei, a former two-time world champion, on HBO, the preeminent network for boxing in the United States.

Last week, Erdei complained of a broken rib and the fight was called off. Chilemba's disappointment was palpable. He took to Twitter and acknowledged that the development "sucks." He continued, "[I] think my opponent is just scared."

Chilemba (19-1-1, 9 KOs) told the Jewish Boxing Blog that he is still scheduled to fight on September 29 at the Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut, but that he will no longer be on the HBO telecast. It is a truly unfortunately development for the "Golden Boy."

Chilemba has earned fans through a combination of proficient skills and uncanny determination. He has shown a rare willingness to fight the best, but in this harsh business of boxing, he'll have to wait for his next big opportunity. Isaac said that he'll have more details about his next fight shortly.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Netzer, Groenteman, and Brooks Update

It appears that Danny "Silent" Netzer's fight on September 8 against Brandon Cook is off. Cook will face 27 fight veteran Ferenc Zold instead. Netzer, a middleweight, is 3-1 with one knockout. Danny last fought on May 24, a unanimous decision win over Jose Luis Doviasa.

Barry Groenteman has a new opponent for his October 15 date at the Theater Carré in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Groenteman (7-5-1, two KOs) has been gunning for a rematch against Andrea Carbonello, a man he lost to in a disputed split decision back in March. But Carbonello has backed out of the proposed rematch.

The new opponent is Tarik Madni (16-4, zero KOs). Madni has a fight scheduled for September 15 against a a 1-14-1 fighter. Despite Madni's solid record, the 36-year old Belgian junior welterweight only has two wins against winning opponents. The bout with Barry is currently scheduled for ten rounds; Groenteman has never fought more than six.

Mike "Lefty" Brooks (8-0, 2 KOs) is planning on fighting on November 1 at the same location as his previous two bouts, the Plattduetsche Restaurant in New York. The lightweight body-punching extraordinaire has won two bouts since May after undergoing a seven month layoff. No opponent has been announced, yet. This contest is marked down for six rounds. Brooks went eight in his last fight.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Wohlman Returns September 20

Zachary "Kid Yamaka" Wohlman will be back in action on September 20. The 4-0 (one KO) welterweight will fight at the Florentine Gardens in Hollywood, California. All of his professional fights have occurred in the Los Angeles area.

Wohlman is a slick athletic boxer who works behind his jab. But he has shown a propensity to mix it up as well. He's trained by Freddie Roach and Eric Brown at the famous Wild Card Gym. Wohlman grew up often in trouble with the law and credits boxing with changing his life. He's a personable man who has fought in front of boisterous supporters throughout the first four fights of his career. He wears his hair slicked back and his heart on his sleeve, or perhaps more accurately, on his torso in the form of numerous tattoos.

Here is a profile of the throwback fighter in LA Weekly.