By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
BASN’s Boxing Notebook
NEW YORK — Elvir Muriqi proved why he should be considered one of the top light heavyweights in the division when he battled Antonio Tarver through 12 rounds last June. After six months of inactivity, Muriqi (35-4, 22 KOs) returned to the win column with a TKO stoppage of Jameel Wilson (13-12-3, 8 KOs).
Muriqi-Wilson was the main event of boxing promoter Joe DeGuardia’s “Punching at the Paradise” fight series at the Bronx Paradise Theater in New York City. The card also featured the return to former world champion Lou Del Valle.
“I’m very excited, how could you not be?” DeGuardia asked. “We had great fights, some exciting fights. Everybody fought their heart out. You have the excitement that the fans got. We had a sellout crowd, it’s just a perfect night of boxing.”
“That’s what we strive to do, create these ethnic excitement. We want people to comeback. I love the Paradise Theater. We’re developing a real venue, a throwback to the old days.”
Muriqi, frustrated that he didn’t receive an opportunity to avenge his close 12-round majority decision loss to Tarver last year, admitted that it was good that he came back and had a great time.
“To be honest, I had a good time,” Muriqi said. “I was just enjoying my time in there. If it went the distance, it went the distance. I didn’t care. I was just having a good time.”
Muriqi had too much for Wilson. Muriqi successfully put his punches to together in combinations and was very patient. Just when Wilson appeared to be durable enough to last the eight-round distance, a right hand from Muriqi staggered Wilson in the fourth round. Suddenly Wilson’s legs weren’t underneath him and Muriqi increased his punch output.
“I was putting my punches together,” Muriqi added. “He was blocking it earlier in the fight, but when I started landing my right hand the fight was over.”
Another solid shot from Muriqi left a nasty cut above Wilson’s right eyelid, as the bout was stopped at the 2:58 second mark.
DeGuardia, who promotes both Muriqi and Tarver, was very excited about both of his fighters are amongst the marquee players in the light heavyweight division.
Muriqi returned with a KO win and Tarver will challenge Clinton Woods for the IBF light heavyweight championship in April on Showtime in what should be a very significant fight.
“Every fight is significant. Antonio’s had a huge career, but tonight I want to focus on Elvir Muriqi,” DeGuardia added. “He did a great job here tonight. You take a look at him and he can fight anyone in the world. He’s really coming into his own; he’s only 28 years old. I see a really bright future for Elvir Muriqi.”
Del Valle Returns
Fighting for the first time in New York in nearly four years, former WBA light heavyweight champion Lou Del Valle (36-5-1, 22 KOs) won his first fight in almost three years. The 39 year-old New Yorker won a lackluster 8-round split decision against journeyman Newton Kidd (6-7-1, 4 KOs).
One judge scored the bout 78-74 for Del Valle, while another judge scored it 78-74 for Kidd. Del Valle was ahead 77-75 on the third and decisive scorecard; raising speculation as to whether Del Valle, at 39, has enough in the tank to press hard on the gas pedal for one last run.
“I was sluggish,” said Del Valle, who weighed in at 187 for his lowest weight in three years. “I took him lightly. I thought I should have knocked him out. He was so easy to hit.”
Del Valle was recognized for having a slick southpaw style. H was good at slipping punches and had a busy work rate. However, Del Valle wasn’t avoiding punches from Newton the way he did against Roy Jones, Jr. and Virgil Hill a decade ago.
Del Valle, however, continues to fight and remains competitive because he’s never been seriously hurt in a fight. Del Valle has never been KO’d and continues to fight hard.
Del Valle, however, should be careful that he’s not used as “an opponent” for the younger prospects coming up. Del Valle’s name still has value and would look every impressive on the resume of an upcoming prospect; similar to the way Tarver’ name added gloss to Muriqi’s track record.
Del Valle himself understands his situation and knows he needs to perform better and win more decisively the next time out.
“Next fight, I’ll be sharper,” Del Valle concluded. “I’m back for real. I came back to N.Y. to make a statement.”
Klitschko-Ibragimov, Unification Approaching
The IBF/WBO heavyweight championship unification bout between Wladimir Klitschko vs. Sultan Ibragimov is fast approaching. The bout will be the first heavyweight title unification bout in nine years when Evader Holyfield and Lennox Lewis fought the first of two unification bouts in 1999.
Coincidentally, Madison Square Garden, the site of the infamous draw of Holyfield-Lewis I, will be the location of Klitschko-Ibragimov. This will be the first heavyweight unification that will not involve either the WBA or WBC heavyweight titles and is also the first heavyweight unification involving the WBO championship.
Although many recognize Klitschko (49-3, 44 KOs) as “the man to beat” in the heavyweight class, the site of multiple title belts can often become frustrating for those that can only recognize one fighter as the heavyweight champion.
At least a Klitschko-Ibragimov fight will steer people in the right direction of having to identify one heavyweight with more than one belt. Thus far, all fingers are pointing to Klitschko, the IBF and unrecognized IBO champion.
The 6-foot-7, 245-pound fighter is strong, fast, and has good timing. Klitschko is also knocking out everyone in his path, as has an 89.7% career-victory by knockout percentage.
Nonetheless, Ibragimov (22-0-1, 17 KOs), the WBO champion, following wide decisions over Shannon Briggs and Evander Holyfield, is a southpaw with movement, a good left hand, and is a live underdog.
Notes of Interest
Super featherweight Monty Meza-Clay and junior middleweight Alfredo Angulo were showcased respectively on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights and Showtime’s hit series ShoBox: The New Generation.
The 26 year-old Clay (27-1, 18 KOs), fighting in his home state of Pennsylvania, earned an impressive TKO stoppage of former IBF featherweight champion, 27 year-old Erik Aiken (16-7-1, 12 KOs) at 39 seconds into the seventh round.
Clay, at 5-feet-2, was much shorter than the 5-foot-7 Aiken. Size didn’t matter, as the former world champion didn’t use his height and reach advantages. Aiken was flatfooted and allowed the much shorter Clay to outwork him on the inside and move him back. Clay was more determined and pressed Aiken (loser of three straight) with a barrage of punches for the KO in what was an exciting fight.
Angulo (12-0, 9 KOs), the unbeaten 25 year-old from California, knocked out the more experienced Ricardo Torres (22-1-1, 15 KOs) in the first round of what was supposed to have been the toughest fight of his career. The victory marked Angulo’s eighth straight by KO and second consecutive first round stoppage.