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Thursday, August 31, 2023

Mor Oknin to Face Pedro Rabia

Flyweight Mor Oknin is scheduled to face Pedro Rabia on Sunday, September 3 at Studio 3-33 in Mexico City, Mexico. The event is promoted by TT Boxing Promotions.

Oknin's record is up for debate. The Israeli won his first fight by knockout. He says he won his second fight a year and a half ago by TKO. The commission that oversees boxing in Agua Prieta, Mexico told BoxRec that he lost. Oknin says the commission screwed him over and took his money. He shared clips of the referee raising his hand after the fight. The promoter curiously posted video of every other fight that night except for Oknin's. They didn't answer a request from The Jewish Boxing Blog for video of the fight. Oknin also says he's five years younger than BoxRec has him listed.

Pedro Rabia is a 36 year old native of Mexico. He doesn't have the toughest nickname, "El Pillo." It means "Rascal," and thankfully not it's English cognate, "Pillow." His record is not good. He's 0-5 and has been stopped five times. He has gotten out of the first round once. Troublingly, BoxRec lists him as indefinitely suspended by the Comisión de Box y Lucha Libre del Estado de México.

This bout is scheduled for four rounds.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Preview of Seldin-Okine

Junior welterweight Cletus Seldin is scheduled to fight Patrick Okine on September 14 at Sony Hall in New York, New York, USA on a card promoted by BoxingInsider. Okine is a worthy opponent, but his style plays into Seldin's strengths.

Seldin (26-1, 22 KOs), who will turn 37 the week of the fight, is a twelve-year pro from Long Island, New York. Nicknamed the "Hebrew Hammer," Seldin is known for his wrecking ball overhand right. Cletus's weakness is that he has been outboxed before. In Seldin's lone loss, Yves Ulysse scored three knockdowns using a hit-and-don't-get hit style in 2017. In Da Hamma's most recent fight, William Silva spent some of the early rounds outboxing him before Cletus adjusted and scored a huge comeback KO in the seventh round of their 2021 fight.

Okine, who has spent half his life as a professional boxer, won't outbox Seldin. The 32 year old from Accra, Ghana is a dangerous come-forward banger. BoxRec lists his record as 20-5-2 with 17 KOs, but his TKO victory against journeyman John Oblitey Commey on December 23, 2020 hasn't been added to the site yet.

Nicknamed "Yaw Mallet," Okine often throws wide powerful punches with either hand. His overhand right is his best punch. He can counter with it, throw it off his jab, or lead with it when facing inexperienced opposition. His jab is usually a decoy, but he does have a nice left hook. As a shorter fighter, he doesn't really throw uppercuts, but he will attack the body. Okine's problem is both he and Seldin will look to land overhand rights, but Seldin is bigger, stronger, has a better chin, and his overhand right will get to the target faster.

Okine is a step below world level as a fighter, but he has world-level power. Though he lost a 2012 fight to future world champion Lee Selby by fifth round TKO, Okine managed to mark up both of Selby's eyes.

In 2018 against Jeremia Nakathila, a world class opponent, Okine landed some punishing overhand rights early. But the taller Nakathila soon took control of the fight by maintaining distance. After Yaw Mallet threw his wide shots, Nakathila effectively countered. The Ghanaian was knocked down in the second and fourth rounds, but referee Leslie Gross called both slips. Gross, however, didn't miss when Nakathila landed a hellacious combination that knocked Okine out of the ring and onto the concrete floor.

Okine doesn't have the best chin, but he has tremendous heart. Marching in a zombie-like state, he dragged himself back into the ring before the referee's count reached twenty. Thankfully, Gross stopped the fight anyway as Okine was in no condition to continue.

The Accra native looked flat in his fight against slick mover Patrick Ayi in 2019 and was lucky to come away with a split draw. After two wins in 2020, Okine received a shot in the third round from Jan Carlos Rivera this past March that was deemed low and their fight in Philadelphia was called a no contest. Upon review, the commission considered the blow legal and somewhat unfairly changed the result to a TKO victory for Rivera well after the fact. Against Rivera, Okine spent too much time covering up and was losing the fight.

Except for those fights against Ayi and Rivera, Yaw Mallet has an exciting style. If he doesn't go into a shell, Da Hamma and Yaw Mallet will bring fireworks.

Cletus's fight will stream live on BoxingInsider.com

Some Notes
Okine has been known to hitch his black and white striped trunks up to grandpa-level. Before the fight, Seldin's trainer should ask for clarification from the ref about the line of legality on Patrick's trunks to avoid another Usyk-Dubois controversy.

Okine likes to taunt opponents in the ring. So far, opponents haven't jumped on him while he's clowning.

Neither Seldin nor Okine lead with their head, but both are come-forward fighters, so headbutts are possible. Okine is shorter, so if there's a butt, his head may crash into Seldin's face.

Seldin is a fitness freak while Okine has faded in fights. This junior welterweight bout is scheduled for eight rounds, but the longer it goes, the more it favors Seldin. Whenever Cletus fights, however, a first round KO is always in play.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Cletus Seldin to Fight on September 14

Cletus Seldin is scheduled to fight Patrick Okine on Thursday, September 14 at Sony Hall in New York, New York, USA on a card promoted by BoxingInsider. Seldin (26-1, 22 KOs) will have endured a 23 month layoff when September 14 rolls around.

Seldin has had numerous fights scheduled and fall through for one reason or another since he stopped William Silva at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on October 16, 2021. Opponents have failed physicals while fights against name opponents Reshat Mati and Adrien Broner never materialized. Seldin and his promoter split ways earlier this year.

Okine (20-5-2, 17 KOs) is a 32 year old from Accra, Ghana. He has fought for the Ghanaian featherweight title, the WBO African super featherweight title, the Commonwealth featherweight title, and the NABA USA lightweight title. He lost all of them.

Okine is the naturally smaller man. He has fought only three junior welterweight opponents; all his other foes were lightweights or smaller. BoxRec lists him as 5'5", about two or three inches shorter than Seldin. Okine has faced some name opponent including former world champion Lee Selby, former minor beltholder Jeremia Nakathila, and Emmanuel Tagoe, who once took Ryan Garcia the distance. Okine lost to them all.

This bout is scheduled for eight rounds. A more in depth preview is forthcoming.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

David Kaminsky's Boxer Stabbed During Training

David Kaminsky and his charge, the rapper Blueface, were training at the Kaminsky Gym when a man interrupted the session and an altercation ensued.

Kaminsky (6-0-1) stepped between the man and Blueface in an attempt to calm the situation. According to video, a gloved-up Blueface seems to pop up around Kaminsky and sucker-punch the man. The video cuts out before the alleged stabbing. Paramedics arrived and took a man to the hospital with a stab wound, but they would not confirm the identity of the victim. The alleged assailant has been arrested.

The 22 year old Kaminsky has been training Blueface since 2021. David recently received his boxing manager's license in the state of California. He last fought in 2020. Last October, Kaminsky was scheduled to fight, but the California State Athletic Commission forced him to undergo surgery for a torn ACL before he could fight again in the state.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Mor Oknin Scheduled to Fight on September 3

Flyweight Mor Oknin is scheduled to fight in Mexico City, Mexico on September 3 as part of a TT Boxing Promotions event.

Oknin's record is controversial. There is no question that he won his first fight in 2021 by TKO. He says he won his second fight by TKO as well, and he shared some clips on social media. BoxRec lists that fight as a TKO loss. BoxRec only lists what the commission tells them and acknowledges that fake reports out of Mexico have been a problem for the site. Oknin says the local commission took his money and then screwed him over. He attempted to enlist the help of Juan Luis Castillo to get the result overturned, but as of now, it officially remains a loss.

Oddly, La Terraza Sport Bar, the venue for that second fight, shared all of the fights from that night on its Facebook page except for one: Oknin's fight.

In the meantime, Oknin has fought in several exhibition bouts in Israel since that last disputed pro bout. He has also had a couple of late cancellations. One opponent failed to make weight and last month an opponent pulled out at the last moment.

No opponent has yet been named for Oknin's next fight.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Willie Buff: Amateur Star, Professional Journeyman

Willie Buff was an outstanding amateur boxer who became a journeyman pro and stayed in the sport after retiring from the ring. He died young and now has unfortunately been largely forgotten.

Born in Russia's Pale of Settlement, likely in early 1903, William Buff came from a big family. His father Jacob was born in 1854 and his mother Mariam was three years younger. Both were in their 40s when Willie was born. Mariam had ten children, but sadly only six were alive by 1910. The family immigrated to Rochester, New York somewhere between 1905-1908.

While Willie went to school, his older siblings worked in Jacob's tailor shop. At some point during Willie's adolescence, his parents split up. By 1920, Jacob was a boarder at the Levin family's house. He was still a tailor and had not obtained citizenship. Meanwhile Mariam changed her name to Mary and lived with four of her kids including Willie. Mary was also not a citizen and couldn't read or write English. Seventeen year old Willie was unemployed while his mom and siblings worked as custom tailors in a clothing factory. Jacob listed his marital status as single while Mary claimed she was widowed.

Willie had fought in a few smokers when he took on Young Kauff of Montreal on June 14, 1920 on the undercard of a Kid Norfolk fight. According to the Democrat & Chronicle, Buff won the six-rounder by close decision. It's possible this opener was an amateur bout, or it was a pro fight later swept under the rug and forgotten, because Buff went on to have success as an amateur in the coming years.

By March of 1922, Buff became the amateur lightweight champion of Rochester. In October, Buff moved down to featherweight where he was knocked out in the first round by southpaw Willie Singer. Buff had tried to make the 118-pound bantamweight limit, but missed weight. He was allowed to fight in the featherweight division, but gave up too many pounds in the process.

By January 1923, Willie was dubbed the amateur featherweight champion of Western New York. In March, he won the Upper New York amateur featherweight title. In 1924 he won the same titles at lightweight. Beginning in 1924, Willie was often described as the AAU lightweight champion in the papers, but his title was limited to Upper New York. Fred Boylstein (who, despite the name, it seems was not Jewish) won the national amateur lightweight title that year and fought in the Paris Olympics where he captured the bronze medal.

The May 1924 issue of New York Central Lines Magazine (pg. 70) described Buff as a "member of the Olympic Team." This would begin a lifetime of Buff's fabricated association with the 1924 team.

In September of 1924, a Buffalo newspaper ran a headline that Buff would turn pro, but it didn't happen. He continued to find success in the amateur ranks despite suffering the occasional setback. In February of 1925, Buff was knocked unconscious by Tommy Lawson in a scary scene. It took him days to regain consciousness. A couple of days after he woke up, Buff was granted his boxing license in New York (pg. 184), but didn't fight for a while due to the knockout.

On July 2, Willie took part in what seemed like a pro bout. He was stopped at the Arena in Syracuse, New York by Jackie Brady in the fourth round. Buff soon resurfaced in Chicago and still kept his amateur status, fighting several times there. He last fought as an amateur in January of 1926. He aso earned work as a sparring partner for future lightweight world champion Sammy Mandell

He got a scheduled eight-rounder with future two-time welterweight champion Jackie Fields on February 24 at the Wilmington Bowl just outside of Los Angeles. Buff was highly touted in the L.A. papers for notching over 100 amateur wins. The so-called AAU lightweight champ was known for a jab that could do damage from range and for possessing quick hands, but he didn't have a good chin.

Fields had been an actual member of the 1924 U.S. Olympic team and won the gold medal in the featherweight division in Paris. But he had just suffered his first loss, a two-round drubbing at the right hand of Jimmy McLarnin back in November. At seventeen years old, Fields had briefly retired from the ring. Buff was his comeback fight and his first at 135 lbs. The winner of Fields-Buff was said to be in line to challenge Tod Morgan for the world junior lightweight championship, but it proved not to be true.

Fields knocked down Buff in the second round for a nine count and put out Willie's lights in the next round. An L.A. Times article the next day erroneous called him Willie Buck, but many other papers spelled his name correctly, probably to Willie's dismay. A week later, he took on Wildcat Evasco in Fresno in a six-round snooze-fest at the Civic Center. Fields was in attendance to watch Buff have a good second round, but otherwise, look dreadful. He had, of course, been out for the count just the week before.

BoxRec lists Willie Buff of New York with only two fights and Willie Buck of Chicago with two, too. They are the same person and many of his fights are missing from the record. Willie moved back to Chicago where he had several scraps over the next two years. Some of them are:

date unknown, fought Chick Miller of Chicago, result unknown
date unknown, lost to Paul Adducci
July 29 at Buda Club faced Johnny Zale, result unknown
date unknown, lost to Ramon Castillo (via BoxRec)


April 20 at Eagle Auditorium, in Galena, Illinois, fought Tony Rindone
May 10 same venue as above, fought Ben Peitman
July 24, fought Johnny Gregg of Gary, all three '28 results unknown.

For the two fights in Galena, Buff was billed as the "Olympic Champion." Rindone was billed as the "Champion of Little Italy" and Peitman was "Ghetto Star." Jewish heavyweight great Joe Choynski was the referee for the Peitman fight.

During the 1930s, Buff coached boxing on the Southside of Chicago. He married Estelle, a bookkeeper whose parents were from Lithuania. In 1935, the couple had a son named Wayne. Willie became a good golfer and competed at the amateur level, even winning a tournament in 1940. But the Great Depression hit him hard and he had trouble finding steady work. In 1940, he listed his occupation as physical director with a salary of $846, less than average at the time. He claimed he had been born in New York, just in case anyway questioned his citizenship. That same year, his father Jacob died at the age of 85.

Willie got some work as a referee here and there and when he made the papers he was the "Olympic world's champion of 1924." As the years ticked by, his old amateur accomplishments had improved astonishingly.

In 1944, Willie Buff died at the young age of 41. He was buried back in Rochester.

Monday, August 14, 2023

News and Notes

David Alaverdian is targeting a late September or early October date for his next fight. The 8-0-1 flyweight is back in Las Vegas training. He last fought on April 10.

Stefi Cohen (4-1-1) was recently asked who she would most like to fight. She answered that taking on Ring flyweight champion Marlen Esparza down the road would be fun.

Cletus Seldin worked with former foe, Eddie Gomez. Gomez posted a career record of 23-4 and last fought in 2019. Seldin and Gomez battled each other in the New York Golden Gloves over ten years ago.

Mikhael Ostroumov was seen working out in the Nakash Gym in Tel Aviv a couple of weeks ago. His career has been set back by a series of injuries and he's currently recovering from shoulder surgery. Ostroumov was able to use both arms effectively, which is good news for a possible return.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Tribute to Buddy McGirt: Hall of Famer Fought Mamby and Jacobs

Buddy McGirt is not only one of the best trainers in boxing, but he was one of the best boxers of his era. The Hall of Famer was a two-division world champion whose career lasted from 1982-1997. During his illustrious career, McGirt fought two memorable bouts against Jewish opponents, both at the Felt Forum. On September 25, 1986, he took on former world champion Saoul Mamby, and on August 27, 1989, he faced Commonwealth champion Gary Jacobs, the WBC's number one contender.

McGirt had just suffered his first loss as a pro in July of '86 to Frankie Warren before facing Mamby two months later. The future chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, Randy Gordon, a dear friend of McGirt's, called Buddy on the phone. McGirt recalled the conversation years later in an interview with Tris Dixon. McGirt remembered, "He said, 'Buddy, why would you take a fight like this?' I said, 'Randy, I'm going to beat him.'"

McGirt later told Ryan Songalia of The Ring, “I said to myself, 'I’m 22 years old, if I lose to a 39-year-old, I’m in the wrong business.'" But Buddy would come to see the Mamby fight as a turning point in his career.

He explained to Dixon, "The fight with him made me a better fighter. I think I needed something like that. To fight someone that would've only given me two or three rounds, I don't think it would've benefitted me in the long run."

In an interview with Anson Wainwright for a series in The Ring called "Best I Faced," McGirt named Mamby as his smartest opponent. "He was very tricky," McGirt remembered. "I hit him with a shot, a good right; I saw his legs buckle, and I’m going in for the kill. I thought I’d be the first one to stop him. When I threw a right hand, he slipped and hit me with a left hook to the liver. I’ve never in my life been hit like that to the liver. When we got into a clinch, he told me to slow my young ass down."

Buddy also respected Mamby's jab, "When Mamby jabbed, he had a sort of half open glove. It was just annoying. He could hit you from different angles because he had so much experience."

To Songalia he declared, "The win over Saoul Mamby turned me around as a fighter. Made me a totally different fighter, made me a better fighter."

McGirt won the ten-rounder by unanimous decision. A year and a half later, he captured his first world title, the IBF junior welterweight belt, by avenging his loss to Warren.
Buddy McGirt vs. Saoul Mamby

By the time Buddy McGirt faced Scotland's Gary Jacobs, he had lost the title to Meldrick Taylor a year earlier and had moved up a weight class to the 147-pound division. Jacobs held the Commonwealth and WBC International welterweight titles and was in line for a world title shot against Mark Breland.

Initially, Jacobs had been scheduled to face journeyman Tyrone Moore in a showcase bout. McGirt was scheduled to fight on September 14 against Gene Hatcher. But when lightweight champion Edwin Rosario hurt his hand training for a defense against Lupe Suarez, a new main event was needed for the August 27, 1989 card at the Felt Forum. Jacobs and McGirt each took the fight on one week's notice.

"It's good for me because I'm getting national exposure on American television," said the 23 year old Jacobs (25-1) at the time. "Buddy McGirt is a big name, but I don't know anything about him." Jacobs's manager Mike Barrett had picked McGirt as the opponent.

In an interview with Tris Dixon, McGirt (43-2-1) remembered, "I just went to training camp that Saturday and my manager called me Saturday night. I came from the movies, and he goes, 'Hey, they got a break in the card next week.' I said, 'Ok, what's up?' He goes, 'There's a kid named Gary Jacobs. I says, 'Yeah, I read about him in the paper today.' The New York Post had just did a story on him that day."

McGirt continued, "I said, 'What about him?' He says, 'Well, they're looking for somebody to fight him.' I says, 'Alright. I tell you what you do, make the contract at 148 and I'll see you in the gym tomorrow.'"

He concluded by telling his trainer Al Certo, "We will spar every day until Friday, and I'll be ready for him next week."

McGirt was asked the next day about getting ready for Jacobs's southpaw style on such short notice. "I'm a fighter," he answered. "I can adjust to anything."

By the day of the fight, Jacobs had learned more about his opponent. "McGirt's a world-class fighter," he said.  "Fighting him will give me more exposure. The fact that it's on national TV is a plus. I have been waiting for a world title fight, and a win over McGirt will help me achieve my goal a lot earlier."

A reporter reminded Gary that no one had fought and won more at the Felt Forum than Buddy McGirt. "His record at the Felt Forum will not be a disadvantage for me," Jacobs retorted. "I'm always fighting away from home. Many of my bouts have been in England. The British and Europeans know who Gary Jacobs is. Now the Americans will find out."
Gary Jacobs vs. Buddy McGirt

McGirt, who held a two-pound weight advantage, won a unanimous decision after bloodying Jacobs's nose in the fourth round.  "I think I'm best at 147," McGirt said per Wallace Matthews's reporting. "You can't look good against everybody you fight. If I fought at 140 today, I would have been a loser."

"I tried my best, but Buddy McGirt was just quicker off the mark today," said Jacobs, according to reporting by Bernard Fernandez. "I have no qualms about losing. I didn't disgrace myself."

Matthews reported Jacobs saying, "I have no qualms about taking the fight. I didn't disgrace myself. I consider myself a world-class fighter, and these are the fighters you have to fight. He was just a wee bit quicker than me."

"Buddy made the fight a little tougher than it should have been," McGirt's trainer Al Certo told Matthews. "When he boxed on the outside, he was all right, but when he stayed in close, he let Jacobs into the fight. That's where Jacobs is strong."

McGirt took the eighth round off. "I had to take a little breather," he said. "This guy was very rough and awkward."

"After the eighth round, I told Buddy to box on the outside," Certo said to Fernandez. ''When he stood in close, Jacobs made a fight of it. I said, 'Buddy, you're stronger on the outside, so just stay there.'"

According to Arlene Shulman, McGirt said of Jacobs, "He was moving his head a lot. He was very awkward."  McGirt explained, "Jacobs is a tough kid. I'm not surprised that he stayed on his feet. He was awkward, but considering I took the fight on such short notice, I did all right.''

"I tip my hat to Gary Jacobs," Certo added. "I understand he was in line for a shot at Breland, but he risked his rating to take a fight with the toughest welterweight in the division."

The trainer continued, "Our goal is a title fight. Buddy helped himself with this win. We're ready.''

"Mike Barrett could have picked anybody, but he picked Buddy McGirt," Jacobs lamented a couple of years later. "He was a brave manager, but I was glad to take it."

Jacobs declared, "The McGirt decision was little more than a minor setback on the road to my ultimate aim - the world title. I'll go back to New York for a rematch, which I'll win, and within two years the crown will be mine. I'm not scared of any of the three champions - Mark Breland (WBA), Marlon Starling (WBC) or Simon Brown (IBF)."

There would be no rematch. And McGirt got the first crack at a welterweight title. On November 29, 1991, McGirt lifted the IBF title from Simon Brown. He held it for a year and a half when Pernell Whitaker took the title in a close fight.

Jacobs could've had an easier path to a world title, but he refused to challenge for the WBO's version of the championship. At the time, the WBO was an upstart organization, not yet seen as a major sanctioning body. So Jacobs won the British and European welterweight titles on his way to challenging Whitaker for the crown in 1995. Jacobs gave a better-than-expected showing against the pound-for-pound king, but came up short in his lone world title bid.

Both Mamby and Jacobs made quite an impression on two-division world champion, Hall of Famer Buddy McGirt.

"Arena" Newsday. Aug. 22, 1989.
Ben-Tal, Danny. "The Goldsmith from Glasgow Rekinkles Forgotten memories." Jerusalem Post. Sep. 20, 1989.
Dixon, Tris. "#24 Buddy McGirt." Boxing Life Stories podcast. Feb. 24, 2021.
Fernandez, Bernard. "McGirt Provides Felt Forum with Perfect Send-Off." Philadelphia Daily News. Aug. 28, 1989.
Matthews, Wallace. "McGirt Wins After `Breather' Easily beats Jacobs after sluggish showing in 8th round." Newsday. Aug, 28, 1989.
"McGirt wins decision over Jacobs in substitute bout." Houston Chronicle. Aug. 28, 1989.
Shulman, Arlene. "McGrirt Outpoints Jacobs as Forum Shuts for Two Years." New York Times. Aug. 28, 1989.
Songalia, Ryan. "The Biddy McGirt Chronicles." The Ring.
The Associated Press. Scot Welcomes Chance at McGirt." Newsday. Aug. 27, 1989.
Wainwright, Anson. "Best I Faced: Buddy McGirt" The Ring.