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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wohlman to Return March 14

Zachary Wohlman was prepared to face Shawn Wate last Friday at the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, California. He had made the necessary preparations to make weight for the welterweight bout. There was one problem at the weigh in.

"The doctor said my opponent was sick at the weigh in," Zac told The Jewish Boxing Blog, "Never seen something like that happen."

Wohlman (4-1-1, 1 KO) is now scheduled to fight on March 14 at the Florentine Gardens in Hollywood, California. His opponent in the four rounder is slated to be Lavelle Nichols (2-7-1, 1 KO). This bout will mark the first time Wohlman enters the ring after suffering his first career loss in November.

The man they call "Kid Yamaka" has assured his fans that he has learned from the loss and is prepared to get his boxing career back on its previous trajectory. He noted, "I'm fully focused and dedicated." In fact, he's in such good shape, Wohlman believes, "I think I may be able to make 140 in the near future."

Here's a video featuring Zac.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Salita-Camacho Fight Cancelled

Seemingly against the will of both fighters, the scheduled April 27 clash at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York between Dmitriy Salita and Hector Camacho Jr. has been cancelled. The two pugilists released a letter together:

BROOKLYN, NY (February 25, 2013) - Dear Friends, Fans and Boxing Community,

As all of you know, we were scheduled to fight each other February 9th, 2013, part of World Championship Boxing broadcast on Showtime from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Both of us were, and still very motivated to prepare ourselves for victory and give fans what they want. We worked hard in our respective training camps, did the miles on the road and put in countless rounds of sparring getting ready for this crossroads fight.

Due to circumstances beyond our control the show got postponed because of an injury sustained by main event fighter Danny Garcia. Golden Boy made a public statement that the whole card will get rescheduled to April 27th. While both of us were extremely disappointed we saw the light at the end of a three-month tunnel.

Sometimes in life, and too often in boxing, things do not hold true and the wrong thing can happen. This is one such moment. Either by mistake, or by design, contradictory stories have emerged to cancel our fight.

On Thursday, February 21st, Dan Rafael published a story on ESPN.COM stating that Camacho Jr pulled out of the fight. After hearing the news Mr. Camacho contacted Dan Rafael to let him know that no such withdrawal was ever made. He stated that the promoter told him that Dmitriy Salita pulled out due to the Jewish holiday of Passover, which was also false. Both fighters signed the contract and both still very much want the fight yet the fight is still canceled.

This is hurtful to the sport and unfair to the athletes. We put in the hard work and made a commitment to the promoter to put our life on hold to prepare and put on a show. As professional athletes we dedicate our lives and sacrificed many things including family to get us in the optimum condition to be at our best for the fans. Now we come to find out that the fight is cancelled and our dedication has gone to waste.

Our fight was to be the first New York City rivalry set to take place at the new Barclays Center. We are ready to put on a great fight for the fans on April 27th and ask them to continue to support us and for the promoter to honor our contract and our hard work.


Dmitriy Salita and Hector Camacho Jr.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Seldin Blasts Cuba

Welterweight Cletus "Da Hamma" Seldin kept his impressive knockout streak alive last night with a win over Jonathan Cuba at the Paramount Theatre in Huntington, New York. Seldin stopped his opponent in the third round moving his record to 11-0 and earning his ninth knockout. Cuba falls to 6-5-1 with 4 knockouts.

Seldin, who weighed 142.5 pounds for this fight, had the crowd behind him as he marched to the ring in his customary purple trunks. Cuba, who was 141 pounds, was valiant during the contest as blood began to trickle from above his left eye. But an overhand right, Da Hamma's signature punch, ended the night for Cuba in the third round.

Seldin now has stopped his last eight opponents. Five of them had a winning record going into their clash with Cletus. Six of the contests took place at the Paramount Theatre.

In other news, welterweight Zachary Wohlman (4-1-1, 1 KO) had a fight scheduled in California for Friday night, but the bout did not come to pass for unspecified reasons.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wohlman and Seldin Back in Action

Welterweights Zachary Wohlman and Cletus Seldin will be in the ring in separate bouts this weekend. Wohlman fights on Friday night while Seldin's scrap is on Saturday night.

Wohlman (4-1-1, 1 KO) is scheduled to face Shawn Wate (1-5-1) at the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in  Cabazon, California. This will be on the pre-televised undercard of the Showtime program ShoBox. This marks Wohlman's first fight since he suffered his lone career defeat in November to journeyman Alonso Loeza. This fight with Wate is scheduled for four rounds.

Seldin (10-0, 8 KOs) is in against Jonathan Cuba (6-4-1, 4 KOs) at the Paramount Theatre in Huntington, New York on Long Island. This is part of the pre-televised undercard of an event shown on NBC Sports. Cuba is perhaps best known for making a lewd self-pleasuring gesture after being knocked down in the third round of his fight against Christian Martinez on the undercard of Yuri Foreman-Miguel Cotto at Yankee Stadium in 2010. Seldin has won his last seven fights by way of knockout. This bout is scheduled for eight rounds.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Look Back: Benny Schwartz

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

Benny Schwartz was a two-time world title challenger. The bulk of his career took place during the 1920s when Jews were often seen inside the ring.

Benny Schwartz was born on May 4, 1903. He grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. To start his pugilistic career, Schwartz fought under the name Young Mendel, presumably to hide his fistic exploits from his mother.

Schwartz's boxing career got off to an inauspicious start. On January 22, 1920, Schwartz lost to Young Pal Moore of Baltimore. Schwartz won his next four fights before falling to Moore again. Schwartz then drew with Moore before beating him twice.

Schwartz was 29-5-6 when he faced Little Jeff Smith on May 8, 1922. Wearing dark trunks, Benny won by disqualification to take the Southern flyweight title. Schwartz put together a series of successful defenses before he faced Joe Lynch for the world bantamweight championship on November 24, 1922. At Memorial Hall in Springfield, Ohio, Joe Lynch knocked Benny Schwartz out in the fifth round.

Schwartz was considered to be an intellectual boxer. He didn't possess much pop and was criticized for refusing to brawl. But the perception of Schwartz changed after his second title fight. Schwartz returned to his winning ways following the Lynch debacle and earned a shot at the flyweight champion, Pancho Villa.

Schwartz, with his hair parted in the middle, and promoter Benny Franklin signed to fight Villa at the 5th Regiment Armory in Schwartz's hometown on October 12, 1923. Schwartz lost the 15 round decision, but earned respect. The Ring cooed, "[Benny] gained many friends by his willingness to mix it at all times and showed the local skeptics that he could take punishment without flinching."

Benny's career hit the skids after the loss to Villa. Including the title defeat, Schwartz would lose six out his his seven fights. One came at the hands of Little Jeff Smith for the Southern flyweight belt. Another was to former world champion Johnny Buff.

But Benny bounced back, showing incredible fortitude. He won 19 of his next 20 bouts, a span that ranged from 1924 until 1926. On January 3, 1927, Schwartz battled the bantamweight champion, Charley Phil Rosenberg, in a non-title affair. Rosenberg out-pointed his fellow Jewish battler in twelve rounds at the 104th Regiment Armory in Baltimore.

In 1927 and 1928, The Ring recognized Benny as a top 15 bantamweight in the world. But his stay near the top would not last long. Schwartz's boxing career meandered until 1933. The rest of it was mostly dotted with losses, including one to future world champion Panama Al Brown in 1928. Brown later defeated another Jew, Young Perez in 1937.

According to BoxRec, Schwartz's career record was 76-36-8 with six KOs. During his era, certain states, such as New Jersey, only recognized a victory if it came by way of knockout. So newspapers would help determine the winner. Schwartz was 10-2-1 in newspaper decisions. AinsworthSports.com rated Schwartz in the top 100 boxers in any weight class during the 1920s. He was ranked as the 85th best of the decade.

Benny Schwartz was inducted into the Maryland Boxing Hall of Fame in 1981. He lived until the age of 80 and died in 1984.

Scharf, Thomas. Baltimore's Boxing Legacy, 1893-2003. 2003.
"Schwartz, Benny." Jewsinsports.org.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chilemba in Training

Light heavyweight Isaac Chilemba reached out last week to The Jewish Boxing Blog via Twitter. He told The JBB that his preparation for his fight against world class opponent Tony Bellew, the biggest of his career, has been going extremely well.

Isaac said, "Training is great. Getting fit and stronger each and every day." The fight is scheduled for March 30 at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England. The winner should be in line for a title fight.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ahrens Wins Third Fight

Junior middleweight Danny Ahrens notched his first knockout in his third pro fight after stopping Andrew Patterson in the second round last Saturday at The Arena in Peterborough, England.

Wearing black trunks with a white Star of David over the left thigh, Ahrens came forward and unleashed combinations from the outset. Patterson decided to stop throwing combinations a few seconds after the fight began and allowed himself to be pushed to the ropes. Ahrens quelled what little attack Patterson did mount by alternately keeping a high guard and ducking the shots.

In the second round, Ahrens continued to batter his lesser opponent.  Patterson actually tried to throw back, which made referee Kieran McCann's stoppage at 1:17 in the second a little curious. Ahrens is now 3-0 with one KO and Patterson falls to 5-38-3 with 4 KOs.

Danny's aggressiveness, hard jab, and combination punching were his best attributes in this fight. But he was far too square while in punching range. Had he faced an opponent trying to win, that would have been a big issue. Ahrens also spent some of the fight as a southpaw despite his success in an orthodox stance. He wasn't as effective as a lefty.

His managerial team, led by Robert Waterman, is moving the 19 year old slowly, an understandable progression for a young kid with high hopes. The combined record at the time the Tel Aviv native met his first three opponents was 16-107-9, which is something less than stellar.

Ahrens is scheduled to get back into the ring on April 5 at Civic Hall in Grays, England.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Manly Art of Self-Defense in the Holy Land

Israeli boxers Ran Nakash and Danny Netzer spoke with The Jewish Boxing Blog in Nakash's gym in Tel Aviv this week. They discussed the state of Israeli boxing, some revelations from their past fights, and their futures.

The gym is located in the Azrieli section of Tel Aviv and is up a flight of stairs. From the street, it's a nondescript set of lights in a plain building that sits beneath the spectacularly sparking Azrieli Towers. Inside the gym, it's clean, furnished with a ring, dangling heavy bags, and a lot of open mat space. The gym was sparsely populated, but those present were incredibly dedicated men.

Both Nakash and Netzer lament the lack of interest in the sport in Israel. Netzer noted that both men have full time jobs. Nakash teaches krav maga and boxing at his gym and Netzer is the head instructor of krav maga for the Israel Defense Force, a position Nakash used to hold.

Both men said the financial support in Israel for boxing is not there. There's no big sponsor willing to back the boxers, so both men have had to pay their own ways throughout their careers. When asked why they do it, Ran matter-of-factly said, "I love to fight." For Netzer, he was invited to a bar mitzvah ceremony in Canada after his first fight and was treated with such admiration. Nakash hopes to stage a ten fight card at his gym on February 23, bring in 200 chairs, and promote the sport in the country.

We sat in Nakash's office, which was littered with pictures from the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia on the back wall. "Were you there?" Ran asked. I said no. He gasped wistfully and reminisced about the boisterous crowds that came out to support him there. Nakash sat behind his desk and leaned on his massive left arm. As he sat there, he was intimidating without trying to be. His neck was twice the size of my torso.

Nakash was eager to open up about the debacle in South Africa, his world championship fight against Marco Huck in 2011, and his future in the ring. Ran's promoter, Lou DiBella, told the boxer that he couldn't find any fights at cruiserweight because Americans don't find the division interesting; they're more concerned with heavyweights. So DiBella used his connections to force Nakash on a tournament in South Africa put on by promoter Rodney Berman. Nakash came into the first round of the tournament a half pound overweight. He said he believed he would have two hours to sweat it off. Instead, he was immediately disqualified. Nakash asserts that Berman never wanted Nakash in the tournament because he was foreign and the heavy favorite to win. "At least I got to see a safari," Ran said of the experience.

Against Huck, Nakash knew he wouldn't get the decision when it went to the cards because, in Germany, he understood he had to knockout the champ or suffer defeat. All Huck had to do was stay on his feet and retain the title. He was quite proud- after taking the fight a week in advance- to have lost a ton of weight and then go the distance with Huck.

Since his win over Derek Bryant- who he acknowledged was a slick southpaw and a tough guy- in January of 2012, Nakash has sparred with Alexander Povetkin as the latter prepared for Huck. He didn't feel Povetkin, a heavyweight beltholder, was stronger than himself. Ran had hoped to fight Huck at heavyweight but the German didn't want to grant a rematch. The Haifa native realizes he's short for a heavyweight, but believes he can compete with any boxer this side of a Klitschko.

Danny Netzer sat in a chair to my left and was more relatable and jovial. He often laughed with bemusement as he discussed his boxing career. He started boxing when he showed up to what he thought was a kick boxing meet in Europe until he arrived and there were only gloves available. So he became a boxer. Both Nakash and Netzer went into boxing because the money in kick boxing is terrible.

Netzer knew nothing about his first opponent Eric Roy, the Canadian middleweight titlist, before their match. When Danny saw Roy carry a belt into the ring before his first pro fight, he thought he was in for a rough night. "It's my first pro fight and I see this guy come into the ring with a belt. I said, Uh oh! What's going on here?" But Netzer won. His second opponent, Steven Tyner, outweighed Netzer by so much that Danny had to drink water before the weigh in just so the fight would be legal.

About his fight in Panama against Jose Luis Doviasa, Netzer said the experience "was crazy." He got to meet Roberto Duran. He said Panamanians just stand and trade punches. In that fight, Netzer thought the ref was too stern with him. In his sole loss, Netzer cited jetlag as the reason for his lackluster performance against Phil Rose. He had flown to North America from Israel twice in two weeks.

When asked about fighting an opponent on short notice, he aptly compared it to getting lost in a new city. It took me over an hour wondering around Tel Aviv searching for the Nakash Gym. "You have to figure it out," he said. Danny backed out of a fight last September due to a hand injury. When asked about the hand, he admitted, "It's a problem."

When we left the office, Netzer began shadow boxing. Nakash led me to the window, pointed and gave me vague directions back to the hotel. Then, he refocused and got back to the business of boxing.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Salita and Melson Fights Postponed Until April

After Danny Garcia suffered an injury in his preparation for his February 9 fight against Zab Judah. Since that was the main event of a Showtime-televised card, the entire show scheduled to take place at Barclays Center is postponed until April 27.

On that date, Dmitriy Salita is still slated to fight Hector Camacho Jr. in a ten round crossroads bout that will likely energize the career of the winner. Boyd Melson will face Joshua Snyder (9-8-1, 3 KOs). Snyder, from Maryland, has lost 5 of his previous 6 fights against decent competition, including the lanky Aaron Pryor Jr., the undefeated Matt Korobov, and the experienced Demetrius Hopkins.