Have news relating to Jewish boxers? Email the editor here!

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Alaverdian Back in Vegas Training, Wants to Fight Sunny Edwards

After securing a third round stoppage victory on May 7, super flyweight David Alaverdian took a brief vacation in Israel before returning this week to Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States to train. Alaverdian, 28, is 4-0 with three KOs.

A slick defender who isn't shy about attacking his opponents' body, Alaverdian fights primarily from the orthodox stance but can switch to southpaw at a moment's notice, a phenomenon that has become increasingly prevalent in boxing in recent years. One of his favorites fighters, Terence Crawford, has perfected the art of switching stances.

Speaking about the advantages of switching in the ring, David explained, "When you constantly switch, your opponent has to readjust. Things that he did to you before you switched may not work when you [switch stances]. Changing stances is a big factor for most fighters."

Thus far in his pro career, nothing much has worked for Alaverdian's opponents. He has dominated virtually every moment of his four prizefights. He has faced higher level competition in sparring however, and has noticed the advantages of switching stances in sparring and in the amateurs.

David has made no secret of his disdain for flyweight beltholder "Showtime" Sunny Edwards, who also switches stances. Edwards, a 25 year old hailing from London, England, is 16-0 with four KOs. He won his strap in April with a unanimous decision victory over Moruti Mthalane.

"I just don't like him," Alaverdian told Danny Flexen of SecondOuts back in March. "He's a complete idiot." Whenever queried about future opponents, Sunny Edwards is the one name David brings up.

When asked by The JBB when he'll be ready to face Edwards, Alaverdian confidently replied, "I feel like I'll be ready for him next month."

"The problem is I only have four fights, so it doesn't even make sense for him to fight me right now," he reasoned. "Nobody is going to be really interested in it."

"But when I build my record up," Alaverdian continued as a sly smile appeared across his face, "things will change."

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Kaminsky Off June 26 Card

Last month, David Kaminsky announced on Instagram his return the ring. He was set to fight on June 26 at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA on the undercard of Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Masoyoshi Nakatani, which will be broadcasted on ESPN+. However, Kaminsky seems to have been dropped from the card.

Kaminsky, a 20 year old Israeli-born southpaw who resides in California, is 6-1 with 3 KOs. He lost in his last fight, dropping a split decision to Clay Collard a year ago.

Earlier this month, Kaminsky cryptically expressed frustration on social media about Top Rank, the promotional company hosting the June 26 card in Las Vegas. Perhaps relatedly, Kaminsky is no longer listed in the "Fighters" section on the Top Rank website.

The JBB reached out to Kaminsky and Top Rank but received no response from either side.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Foreman Drops Unanimous Decision

Rabbi Yuri Foreman lost to Jimmy Williams by majority decision at the Buckhead Fight Club in Atlanta, Georgia. After punctuating the first round with a short right cross that wobbled Williams, Foreman was cut by his hairline in the third round. In the sixth, Williams knocked down Yuri twice.

Two judges scored the bout 77-73 for Williams while the third judge had the fight even at 75. Foreman, who tested positive for covid-19 in March falls to 35-4 with 10 KOs. Williams improves to 18-5-2 with 6 KOs.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Lazarev Wins

Lightweight Igor Lazarev defeated Marius Col at the International Casino Hotel in Varna, Bulgaria. Lazarev won by majority decision. Though the fight featured a few slow rounds, Lazarev's boxing skills were on full display. Col spent too much time with his hands in pockets searching for the perfect counter.

The opening round typified the term "feel-out round." Col, the 22 year old Moldovan, planted himself in center ring while Lazarev showed the jab. A toddler could have counted the number of landed punches in the first. A short right uppercut by the 35 year old Israeli likely won him the round.

The next three minutes were far more exciting. They began the round exchanging one-twos in the middle of the ring. Col might have gotten the better of those early moments, but from then on Lazarev attacked Col's body like a lion after a piece of meat. He touched the younger man's ribs with the right, but he ravaged the midsection with left hooks. Towards the end of the round, one such left hook to the body forced Col to gasp in agony.

Lazarev looked a bit tired during the one minute break, and the third was fought at a slower pace. Lazarev carried it with some more body shots and a few jabs. The body work clearly hurt Col who decided to return the favor and landed some rights to the body, after Igor had finished his punches but before he could retreat out of range.

Col decided to box in the fourth. He got the moving part right, but forgot to add the punching part. He almost never threw a jab the entire fight to his detriment. At one point in the fourth, Col had Lazarev trapped against the ropes. He threw a combo and connected with a left hook that Igor felt and didn't enjoy. But Igor had launched his own counter right which rocked Col. He flew backwards and spun around but didn't go down. In a bit of cruel irony referee Georgi Ivanov warned Col for turning his back as if he had a say in the matter.

Lazarev showed off his defensive skills in the final two rounds, but that exhibition came at the expense of his offense. Igor landed a right to the body and right uppercut early in the fifth and then spent much of the round expertly dodging Col's attack. It made for a slow period and one that could have gone either way. Col was more aggressive in the sixth. Igor coasted figuring he had the fight won and Col won the final round as a result.

Two judges scored the bout for Igor: 58-56, 58-57, and one had it even at 57. The JBB scored it 59-56, four rounds to one with one even, for Lazarev. The even card is not a terrible score because the first and fifth were close and Col won the sixth. A lesson for Lazarev is to close the show a bit tighter and not take the judges' scores for granted. Igor’s record is now 8-1 with 3 KOs. Col falls to 2-4.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Weights for Foreman-Williams, Lazarev-Col

Two Jewish boxers are fighting tomorrow, Saturday, June 19. Rabbi Yuri Foreman (35-3, 10 KOs) faces Jimmy Williams (17-5-2, 6 KOs) at the Buckhead Fight Club in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Both Foreman and Williams weighed in at 153.6 pounds. BoxRec has this junior middleweight bout listed as an eight-rounder. For more on this fight, check out Foreman to Face Jimmy Williams on June 19.

Igor Lazarev (7-1, 3 KOs) takes on Marius Col (2-3) at the International Hotel Casino and Tower Suites in Varna, Bulgaria. Lazarev weighed in at 134.9 pounds while Col came in at 133.4 pounds. BoxRec lists this lightweight fight as a six-rounder. For more on this fight check out Lazarev to Face Col on June 19.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Review of Augie's Secrets

Augie's Secrets: The Minneapolis Mob and the King of the Hennepin Strip
By: Neal Karlen
Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2013.

Karlen investigates the seedy side of Minneapolis during the first half of the twentieth century. Along side with a detailed history of Jewish Minnesota mob and corrupt local politicians is the narrative of Sammy "Augie" Ratner, Karlen's great uncle.

Augie is a diminutive and lovable yet buffoonish nightclub owner, an ex-boxer and bootlegger, who befriends local gangsters and sports stars alike. But Karlen surmises that Ratner's clownish schtick was a ploy. He shrewdly understood his best chance for survival was to be liked and trusted by everyone. And playing the fool was the best way to avoid making enemies.

Ratner as ex-pugilist is an important character feature in this tale, but the career details of the journeyman Jewish fighter merits barely a mention. A fellow Jewish boxer from Minnesota, Ernie Fliegel, makes an appearance. As does Jack Dempsey, the former heavyweight champion of the world, and friend of Augie's.

While this book doesn't focus on boxing, it highlights some other interesting subjects. If you're a fan of Jewish gangsters, particularly those in Minnesota, this book is for you. Kid Cann and Davie "The Jew" Berman garner their own chapters. Nationally known Jewish mob members such as Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegal take on less prominent roles in this story.

This book delves into Minneapolis history, particularly the relationship between local politicians and organized crime. And if Jewish gangsters from Minneapolis is your interest, this is the book for you!

Karlen also infuses his prose with numerous Yiddish phrases, which in other books can come across as forced or hokey, but is much appreciated here.

This book doesn't have much boxing, but it is an enlightening portrait of the Jewish mob in Minneapolis.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Lazarev to Face Col on June 19

Lightweight Igor Lazarev is scheduled to fight Marius Col on June 19 at the International Hotel Casino north of Varna on Bulgaria's eastern coast. This will be the 35 year old's first professional boxing match in the southeastern Balkan country.

Lazarev won his first six fights with an aggressive style and vicious body punches before he ran into Binali Shakhmandarov last September. After suffering a stoppage loss, Lazarev faced an overmatched opponent in his comeback fight last December. Col signifies a logical step up from Igor's December foe.

Col is a 22 year old from Moldova. He won his first two fights by pressuring his rivals. The tactic didn't work in his third fight. Against Evhenii Pylypchuk, Col kept eating shots as he pressed forward and wasn't able to land his favorite punch, a looping right hand.

After falling by decision to Pylypchuk in May of 2019, he moved up ten pounds from featherweight to lightweight. In his next contest, he changed his strategy and looked to counter more, but he dropped a decision to Kristian Bejko in December '19. Coincidentally, Bejko and Lazarev were scheduled to face last summer in Albania, but the show was shutdown at the last minute by authorities due to covid-19 restrictions.

Col was stopped for the first time in his career in his last fight. Leandro Xhelili is a common opponent; he stopped Col in the third round of their February 2020 bout. Lazrev beat a game Xhelili in September of 2019 by split decision.

Igor has also taken part in several contests in something called Xtreme Knock-Out MMA in which the combatants apparently box in an MMA-style octagon. He's 7-1 with 3 KOs in pro boxing while Col is 2-3 without a KO. This bout is slated for six rounds.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Ineffective Aggression

Aggression seems to be a defining characteristic of the modern United States. Today in America, you can get yelled at for wearing a mask in a crowded indoor venue, or you could receive a judgmental glare for not wearing a mask while attempting to enjoy some fresh air and solitude. The person yelling or glaring at you most likely cares not a whit for the scientific expertise of any notable independent virologists. And if, for some reason, a boxing judge scored your interaction, especially one from Texas, you would almost certainly receive nine points for the round regardless of any salient counterpoints you may have made.

Too often nuance is disregarded in favor of brute force these days. In the ring, merely throwing punches irrespective of whether your forays land can be enough to convince a judge you've made an articulate case to win the round. Loudmouths fill our screens and grab our attention far more than calculated examinations of policy or pugilism.

This is the context in which Yuri Foreman attempts his comeback. A former world champion and the greatest Jewish boxer of his his generation, Foreman is a ballet dancer in the ring, gracefully improvising in timely fashion. Instead of pliƩs, he punches. But he glides on his toes just the same.

The question is not whether, at 40, Yuri is too old to make noise in the 154 pound division. His skills, speed, and stamina remain intact. The question is whether the game has passed him by. He is James Baldwin, and boxing is Sean Hannity. Yuri's style requires a literary eye for the intricacies and subtleties that distinguish clean punching from ineffective aggression. Simply because an opponent is moving forward in a fight does not mean he isn't suffering for his ambition.

Foreman is 25-0 in fights that reach the final bell. Twenty four of those decisions came in 2015 or earlier. In his first fight in nearly four years, Foreman outboxed Jeremy Ramos over eight rounds. In an ominous omen, the Kentucky judges, channeling their Texas brethren, impossibly scored the bout a split decision. Two judges misunderstood their task and declared the comeback kid a winner by two measly points. The third astonishingly believed Ramos deserved a majority of the rounds.

I remember visiting a  friend of mine several years ago and trying to impress him with my musical taste. While sitting in the passenger seat of his car, I pretentiously popped in a Coltrane CD. After listening for a few minutes, my friend pressed the button to change the track. "I can't take any more of that horn," he declared. I'm no music expert, but my friend showed the same mindset it takes for a judge to score that fight for Ramos over Foreman last December.

Yuri's other job is a rabbi. A successful rabbi, of course, must be philosophical and thoughtful. They must listen and examine. When they speak, it is usually from a place of intense consideration. Most rabbis don't spew political catchphrases from the small end of a bullhorn. They wrestle with nuance. Yuri's rabbinical work and his form of boxing go hand-in-hand.

The beauty of Rabbi Foreman's  hit-and-don't-get-hit style of boxing is going the way of intelligent good-faith debate in the United States. In boxing, wild swings that end on elbows are given more credence than a well-timed jab that snaps in a scoring position. This shift will only serve to hurt the sport just as the lack of informed political conversation will weaken American democracy.

If we glorify ineffective aggression in boxing or political discourse, we begin to mistake fiction for fact. Whether it's determining if a punch landed or understanding the potency of covid-19 or determining exactly what happened on January 6 at the Capitol, some of us have lost the ability to do just that, separate fact from fiction. For the sake of Yuri Foreman's comeback, and the rest of us, let's hope more and more folks can tell the difference.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Dr. Stefi Cohen Wins Debut

Dr. Stefi Cohen stopped Haydee Zapa in the third round of their bout at Hotel Catalonia Malecon Center in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic last Friday. Cohen has her doctorate in physical therapy.

Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Cohen moved to Miami, Florida in the United States at the age of 17. In Venezuela, she was a successful soccer player. Once in the U.S. she found a new passion. She became a record-breaking world champion weightlifter.

At 28 years old, Cohen is taking on a new challenge. She told her Instagram followers, "I am genuinely just excited to be participating in a new sport."

Cohen came into her debut weighing 123.6 pounds while Zapa, a 25 year old Colombian, weighed in at 127. Stefi showed some nerves in the opening round, which was an extra thirty seconds long and featured a wardrobe malfunction on Zapa's part.

The second round was much better for Cohen though she had also won the first. She was at her best feinting, jabbing, and picking Zapa apart from the outside. When the two boxers entered into fire-fights, all technique went out the window.

Cohen landed some hard rights from the outside in the third. To her credit Zapa, who showed more heart than skill, was willing to trade shots. Cohen landed a couple hard rights as the two fighters swung away and the Colombian went down. Her coach rushed into the ring and, although she got up in time, her coach asked the referee to stop the fight.

Zapa (now 3-5, 2 KOs) was a good opponent for Cohen's debut. She had experience, toughness, and was willing to throw punches back, but she didn't have the proper technique or skill to cause Cohen much trouble.

After the fight, Cohen, who is now 1-0 with one KO, wrote on Instagram, "Excited the first one is out of the way and excited to keep building my record as a boxer." Her next fight is scheduled for September 18.