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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Carolina Duer in Negotiations to Fight Laura Grzyb

On April 29, Carolina Duer dropped a disputed split decision to Gabriel Bouvier. The fight was for a trinket the WBC calls the "Silver Championship." Duer petitioned for an immediate rematch because of the controversial nature of the decision. The WBC agreed with Duer's request and in June ordered a rematch.

Bouvier apparently did not want to fight Duer again, and the WBC has, or will, strip her of her strap. The WBC now has ordered Duer and Laura Grzyb to complete negotiations by December 20 for a chance to fight for the vacant Ag belt.

The WBC's Silver belt is not as prestigious as its Interim belt, but more so than its International belt. It also shouldn't be confused with the organization's Diamond, Youth, Youth Intercontinental, Youth Silver, International Silver, Franchise, Eternal, or regional title belts. Fighters pay a sanctioning fee for the "honor" of wearing one of these tchotchkes. How else can WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman afford his expensive suits?

This is not to single out the WBC, which is the likely best of the sanctioning bodies. Of course, determining the best sanctioning body is like choosing your favorite covid symptom.

It's important to note, the fighters shouldn't be blamed for the proliferation of sanctioning body belts. They're just playing the game as it is. And regardless of the WBC's belt nonsense, Duer-Grzyb is a good fight.

Duer, a 45 year old from Argentina, is a two-division world champion. After the debatable defeat to Bouvier, she is now 20-7-2 with 6 KOs. Grzyb is a 28 year old from Poland. Her record is 10-0 with 3 KOs. She currently holds the European junior featherweight title and successfully defended it in October.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Lev Jackson Off Friday's Card

Southpaw lightweight Lev Jackson had been scheduled to fight on Friday at the Taj Park Convention Centre in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Jackson told The Jewish Boxing Blog that his opponent backed out and unfortunately, a replacement could not be found.

Jackson is 3-1-1 with one KO and one no contest. The 31 year old is an exciting all-action fighter.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Odelia Ben Ephraim Wins French Featherweight Title

Odelia "Thunder" Ben Ephraim captured the vacant French featherweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Lydie Bialic tonight at Palais des sports in Cahors, France. Ben Ephraim combined a high level of volume with a highly intelligent punch selection in an impressive performance.

The former sparring partners wasted little time before swapping punches. In the second round, Ben Ephraim dipped her left shoulder and connected with a left hook. By the next round, the 24 year old from Blagnac controlled the fight regardless of the range. At distance, she landed sneaky jabs and straight rights over the top of the shorter Bialic's guard. Bialic, a 23 year old from Auch, often loaded up on her shots and Ben Ephraim's well-timed jabs greatly disrupted Bialic's attack.

In close, the former amateur champion of Israel was just as good. She took half steps back and tagged a charging Bialic with short accurate shots. She slipped and blocked a lot of her opponent's forays. In the third round, a trickle of blood escaped Bialic's nose. The next round saw Ben Ephraim dip her left shoulder, but this time a right over the top found the target.

Bialic had a relatively better fifth, landing a couple of hard rights and finally initiating a body assault. She couldn't carry the momentum into the sixth round and took a beating. Bialic exhibited tremendous heart as she pressed forward throwing punches, but Ben Ephraim expertly maintained distance and her fists repeatedly found a friend in Bialic's face.

Odelia seemingly went for the knockout early in the seventh and when it didn't come, she returned to boxing. Late in the round, she pulled off a Mayweather-style pull-counter with a straight right. In the final period, Thunder unleashed a barrage while Bialic was trapped on the ropes and another five-punch combination in center ring..

Ben Ephraim won by scores of 79-73, 78-74, 78-74. She was ecstatic when her name was announced as the victor and jumped for joy. The Jewish Boxing Blog had it 79-73, giving Bialic only the first.

Odelia told The JBB that she was a little disappointed in her performance. She knew Bialic's style from their previous sparring sessions and developed a strategy just for her. The plan was to keep Bialic at range, but Ben Ephraim believes she only managed to effectively control distance in the later rounds. She had been working on changing angles, but didn't show that new wrinkle in the ring.  "It's crazy how you lose so much capacity and so much technique during a fight," she said. "You can be great during sparring, but once you step up into the ring for a fight you can lose a lot of skills."

One weakness of Odelia's performance is she landed very few body punches, which is unusual for her. "We worked a lot on body shots [in training]," she said. She felt Bialic's charging style and ability to get in close took that option away. The plan was to change angles in order to land more body shots, but it didn't pan out this time. Though Ben Ephraim was critical of herself, she showed tremendous skill and intelligence during a high-action fight.

Ben Ephraim hurt her hand early in camp and later twisted her left elbow while sparring, so she couldn't work on her jab for a few days, but she didn't feel any pain heading into the fight. Her record is now 5-2. She has yet to register a knockout, which of course is much more difficult with two-minute rounds. Bialic is now 2-3-1.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Ben Ephraim and Bialic Weigh-In

Odelia Ben Ephraim and Lydie Bialic weighed in ahead of their battle for the French featherweight title tomorrow at the Palais des sports in Cohors, France. Ben Ephraim came in at 125, a pound under the featherweight limit. Bialic was 122 pounds.

Ben Ephraim (4-2) has consistently made the featherweight limit. The lightest she has weighed in for a pro fight was 123.5 pounds. Bialic (2-2-1) has fought as a bantamweight and a junior featherweight. Her lightest weight was 116 pounds while her heaviest had been 120.5 pounds before today.

A key for Ben Ephraim is to avoid Bialic's looping shots. She may want to box from the outside more then usual instead of sitting in the pocket while throwing five and six punch combinations. For Bialic, a key is to use the jab as a weapon instead of just as a decoy and to go to the body early. That should set up her overhand shots in the middle and late rounds.

Click here for a preview of the fight.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Josh Feldman to Fight in December

Junior middleweight Josh Feldman is scheduled to fight Potego Ntsoane at Box Camp Booysens in Johannesburg, South Africa on December 9. This will be Feldman's second pro fight.

Last month, Feldman, a 19 year old southpaw from Cape Town, looked impressive in notching a unanimous decision victory over Mbulelo Aluvhani.

Ntsoane, from Johannesburg, is making his pro debut. He's had a couple of scheduled pro bouts fall through. He was scheduled to fight Feldman in July, but Feldman fell ill after a spider bite.

This bout is scheduled for four rounds.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The Tale of Long John Silver

Jack Silver participated in two of the biggest fights in California after the state legalized boxing, helping to enhance the sport's popularity on the Pacific Coast.

No Silver Spoon
Jacob Silverstein was born on August 16, 1903 and grew up in the Portola district of San Francisco, California. His father Morris, an immigrant from Vienna, was a tailor specializing in women's clothes. Jack was the sixth of eight children. His younger brother Joey also became a professional boxer.

At eight years old, Jack started hawking papers to help supplement his family's meager income. Newsboys typically had to fight to take control of a profitable corner, and many professional boxers of the era earned early fighting experience as newsboys. Silver first engaged in organized fighting during his two years in the Navy. He rapidly improved and captured the lightweight championship of the Pacific Fleet.

Quite a few pro boxers of the era got their start in the U.S. Navy. These Navy men, also known as gobs, often used easily identifiable noms de guerre. Fighting under the name Sailor Silver, Jack took on opponents such as Sailor Ashmore, Sailor Joe Fisher, and Sailor Wagner to name just a few.

In addition to the Navy, the other major factor that defined Silver's career was California's legal stance on boxing. In 1914, professional boxing essentially became illegal in the state. Four-round bouts were permitted and amateurs could receive small payments for their services. This period is know as the California's four-round era. Before there was Butterbean, "Long John" Silver was the king of the four-rounders.

Silver turned pro in 1922 and his popularity soon skyrocketed among San Francisco's boxing fans. Beginning in the winter of 1923, he spent twelve consecutive weeks headlining the main event at Dreamland Rink. As his legend grew, that number increased to 52 consecutive weeks. Silver almost certainly didn't reach that mark, but he had another seven-week streak that summer and his name graced the marquee the majority of Dreamland's weekly Friday shows that year.

At 5'9", Silver was a tall and rangy fighter. Besides the nod to his history as a gob and the literary reference to Treasure Island, his other nicknames were "The Human Lollipop, "The Human Bean Pole," and "The Hebrew Flash." A cerebral boxer who was often overly cautious, he was still a tremendous draw, acting a precursor to Floyd Mayweather Jr. After professional boxing was legalized in California again on January 1, 1925, Jack fought Joe Benjamin in a bout so big, it would be celebrated for decades.

Benny Leonard and Jack Silver (Blady, pg. 157)

The Joe Benjamin Fight
Joe Benjamin, another Jewish boxer popular in the Bay Area, was a ten-year pro when his fought Silver on February 23, 1925 at Recreation Park in San Francisco in a ten-round affair. Twenty thousands fans came out to watch Long John Silver fight "The Sheik of San Joaquin" in the first major fight since legalization. The winner would continue forward in a massive tournament to decide the lightweight champion of the world, a position which Benny Leonard had vacated the previous month.

Just before the fight began, a moment of silence was held for Sam Berger, the first ever Olympic heavyweight gold medalist and a fellow Jew who had died earlier that day. Benjamin wobbled Silver with a right in the first round and floored him in the third. Jack worked his way back into the fight, but Benjamin finished strong and took the decision. Jack felt he deserved no worse than a draw, but few agreed with him.

The fight would be remembered in California boxing circles for decades. In addition to Jack and Joe and Jack's little brother Joey, boxing luminaries such as Jackie Fields and Mushy Callahan attended the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the fight, which was seemingly remembered in the papers on February 23 every year.

The Mushy Callahan Fight
Silver took part in another huge fight a year and a half later. He had fought about twenty times since the Benjamin loss when he faced Mushy Callahan on July 5, 1926 at Ewing Field in San Francisco. Benjamin had fought only once after defeating Silver before he retired, so Silver was the hottest thing in the Northern California. Meanwhile, Callahan, also a Jewish ex-newsie, had become a big shot in Los Angeles. The fight between Silver and Callahan was billed as North vs. South.

On a cold and windy July day, 7,559 people watched Silver dismantle Callahan through a thick fog. It was a repeat of the Civil War except this time the North had little trouble. Silver dropped Callahan at the end of the first. Callahan, a two-to-one favorite, maybe won one round, the eighth, in a ten-round contest, but otherwise Silver made him look amateurish. Silver, the Pacific Coast lightweight titlist, looked like a genuine world title contender.

In the past, Long John had received criticism for clinching too much and fighting only in spurts. Against Callahan, he let his hands go, fighting every minute of every round. The win looked even better when on September 21, Callahan beat Pinky Mitchell to win the junior welterweight world championship.

Silver Lining
A week after Callahan won the title, Silver fought future two-time welterweight world champion Young Jack Thompson at the Olympic Auditorium in L.A. Thompson battered Silver, breaking his jaw. Silver's corner threw in the towel in the eighth to stop the carnage. It was Silver's first KO loss. Less than three months later, Silver fought another future two-time welterweight world champion, Jackie Fields. Fields pummeled Silver so thoroughly, referee Toby Irwin halted the bout in the fourth.

Following the disastrous fight against Fields, Silver fired his manager. He fought on until the beginning of 1930, but he was never the same. In retirement, Silver's life mirrored his one-time rival, Mushy Callahan. Jack moved to L.A. and became a stuntman in Hollywood. Like Callahan, he worked as a boxing instructor for movie stars, teaching Ronald Reagan and James Cagney the finer points of pugilism. Jack and his bride, Bess O'Connor, were married for 56 years. For 25 of them, he served as a respected boxing referee and judge. Like Callahan, Silver converted to Catholicism. On July 26, 1994, Jack died at the age of 90.

BoxRec lists Silver's record as 63-22-34. Author Ken Blady contends his record was actually 201-7-29. Regardless, many contemporaries acknowledge countless bad decisions went against Long John. No matter, numbers matter less than one's legacy. Silver served his country before raising boxing's popularity in California to new heights. And that's Jack's silver lining.

Blady, Ken. The Jewish Boxers' Hall of Fame. 1988.
Hank Kaplan Archives, Brooklyn College.
Oakland Tribune's coverage of the Callahan fight found in July 6, 1926 edition on page 29.
San Francisco Bulletin's coverage of Benjamin fight found in February 24, 1925 edition on page 17.
San Francisco Bulletin's coverage of the Callahan fight found in July 6, 1926 edition on page 13.

Friday, November 10, 2023

News & Notes

Joshua Feldman is scheduled to fight on December 9 at at Box Camp Booysens in Johannesburg, South Africa. The 19 year old southpaw junior middleweight from Cape Town, South Africa won his debut three weeks ago.

Sagiv Ismailov is scheduled to fight on December 23 in Chişinău, Moldova. The 21 year old super middleweight improved to 6-0 with a win under difficult circumstances last Saturday.

David Alaverdian announced on social media that he has been struggling with an undetermined virus since just before his last fight in April. After the fight David told The Jewish Boxing Blog that he had to stop training for five days either because of a virus or a flare-up of asthma. "I do feel like it's getting a little bit better," he said on Instagram.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Stefi Cohen in Camp, No Fight This Week

Dr. Stefanie Cohen had been scheduled to fight this Saturday at Thunder Studios in Long Beach, California, USA according to BoxRec. She won't fight on that card, but mentioned that she is currently in camp. On social media, she teased an upcoming announcement.

In September, Cohen traveled to Miami and briefly worked with her old trainer Dr. Pedro Diaz. She currently trains with Pedro Santiago. Stefi made the change when she moved from Miami, where Diaz is based, to Southern California.

Cohen is 4-1-1 as a boxer. She is a popular social media figure, powerlifting world record-holder, and entrepreneur.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Sagiv Ismailov Wins Under Difficult Circumstances

Sagiv Ismailov kept his undefeated record with a unanimous decision victory over Slavisa Simoneunovic at Werk 2 in Plettensburg, Germany last night. The 21 year old Ismailov shut out his opponent after enduring a challenging lead-up to his sixth professional fight.

As late as the week of the bout, Sagiv's team believed he only had "a small chance" to fight Saturday night. Ismailov, who completed his mandatory IDF service in August, last sparred on October 6. The next day, Hamas terrorists flooded southern Israel murdering 1,500 people and injuring thousands more. Terrorist attacks and bombings continued for days after the massacre. One attempt was stopped in the city of Ashdod where Sagiv trains.

In the aftermath of the massacre, Sagiv's training all but stopped. Hiding in bomb shelters to avoid rocket fire became the norm. Nevertheless, he was given an opportunity to fight in Germany, something he seriously considered since he had last competed in April.

His team asked the promoter not to announce to fight beforehand due to concerns about heightened antisemitism in the region. The promoter honored the team's request. Seemingly assured, Sagiv and his team felt it was worth traveling to Germany for the fight.

A sympathetic local advised Sagiv not to wear any identifiably Jewish symbols because of safety concerns. When asked, Ismailov and his team said they were from a European country as to not bring unwanted attention to the Israeli fighter. His trainer told The Jewish Boxing Blog, "We didn't want to fight anyone before we even got into the ring."

The weigh-in was scheduled during Shabbat, which Sagiv observes. The promoter graciously accommodated Ismailov, who came in at 169.8 pounds before Friday's sunset. Saturday night, the ring announcer did not name a hometown when introducing "Sergey Ismailov."

Sagiv was originally scheduled to face an inexperienced opponent from a nearby country, but the man didn't make the trip to Germany. A backup fighter also fell through, so the veteran Simoneunovic filled in. Simoneunovic, a 44 year old from Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, follows in the tradition of the great Jewish journeyman, Bruce "The Mouse" Strauss. Strauss would go hard for three rounds, run out of gas, and then find a soft spot on the canvas. A veteran of over a hundred fights, Simoneunovic typically throws big shots with bad intentions for a couple of rounds before retiring in the corner if things aren't going well. This was his eighteenth fight since the beginning of 2022.

With no sparring in the last month, minimal training, and an experienced opponent, Ismailov decided not to take chances. He boxed the entire fight, sweeping all four rounds on the three judges' cards.

Ismailov continuously peppered his opponent with jabs while moving around the ring. He kept his left low at times, which allowed Simoneunovic to connect with three overhand rights in the first round. Sagiv countered the third one with a quick straight right of his own. He landed a stiff 1-2 at the end of the second round.

Simoneunovic was scolded by the referee before the third for jumping the gun. The veteran smiled sheepishly on his way back to his corner. He landed a combination left hook to the body and an overhand right in the round, but Ismailov came back with a couple of stiff right uppercuts. He also briefly switched to the southpaw stance and landed a stiff jab.

As the fight went on, Sagiv improved defensively. He understood Simoneunovic's primary weapon was the overhand right and began to slip it. In the fourth, he moved in the pocket, changing angles, showing another wrinkle to his game. All three judges scored the bout 40-36.

Ismailov's record is now 6-0 with 2 KOs. He is next scheduled to fight on December 23 in Moldova. Slavisa "The Bosnian Bruce Strauss" Simoneunovic is now 41-68 with 33 KOs. He fights in two weeks.
photo credit: Stefan Burghaus