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The Avila Perspective, Chap. 24: Remembering Marty Denkin plus Upcoming Fights

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  • The Avila Perspective, Chap. 24: Remembering Marty Denkin plus Upcoming Fights

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    By David A. Avila

    Prizefighting in the state of California lost one of its senior members over the weekend as long-time referee and judge Marty Denkin passed away.

    It was fitting that Denkin’s departure took place before one of the biggest fights of the last three years. Announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. honored the late official at the heavyweight world championship between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury on Saturday. All paid their respects with a moment of silence and a 10-count.

    Denkin, 84, was a former Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy and though born in New York, spent most of his life in California. Boxing was thoroughly in his blood.

    Many who follow the boxing world knew Denkin as one of the long-serving officials of the California State Athletic Commission. He was the senior member and had served in many capacities including assistant executive officer in the Los Angeles office.

    Others remember Denkin for his parts in movies like Raging Bull, Rocky III and Rocky IV. Of course he played the part of a boxing referee and is known as the official who counted out Rocky Balboa after getting floored by Clubber Lang the role played by Mr. T.

    The last time I saw Denkin was just two weeks ago at a Thompson Boxing Promotions show in Ontario, Calif. He was wheeled to ringside by his daughter at the November 16 show. He had recently judged at a prior Thompson card in Ontario.

    Denkin loved boxing.

    He was always looking for ways to help the sport that at times can be rife with politics and sabotage. He had his supporters and opponents.

    The first time I actually spoke to Marty Denkin was at a CSAC meeting in downtown L.A. around 2000. I had been covering the sport as a boxing writer for about seven years and he walked up to me and told me matter-of-factly “I heard you’re a straight-shooter and want to talk to you about a few things.” He became my introduction into the governing portion of the boxing world. I told Mr. Denkin that I don’t take sides but merely write the facts. From that point on he would let me know about his views on judging and scoring a fight. We would often compare scores right after a fight. He would hand over his scorecard to the referee and then look my way and silently ask what score I had. We usually had the same scores.

    Once after a televised James Toney fight he was given a lot of criticism for his scoring. Any time Toney fought, especially in a close struggle, the Michigan prizefighter would display his high boxing IQ and score in ways that most ignore like hitting while being held. Denkin pointed this out after the fight and explained why he scored in favor of Toney. He willingly gave out his boxing wisdom.

    Pat Russell, one of the best referees of all time, said years ago he once allowed a brutal fight to continue and one of the participants was taken to the hospital. He visited the hospital to see the fallen boxer who would survive. But the event left him shaken and distraught that evening.

    “It was about four in the morning when I got a phone call and it was Marty Denkin,” said Russell, who retired as a referee a couple of years ago but still judges fights. “He told me that I had done everything right and not to worry.”

    Russell further explained that Denkin’s call truly helped him through the event and he sincerely appreciated the thoughtfulness by the act.

    “I never forgot it,” said Russell.

    The boxing community in California will never forget Marty Denkin.

    California Tsunami

    Three large fight cards are spread out across Southern California this Saturday. This is a sign of the times.

    Boxing is exploding.

    Golden Boy

    In the Coachella desert area Golden Boy Promotions stages a fight card led by Carlos “The Solution” Morales (17-3-3) who faces Nicaragua’s super tough Rene Alvarado (29-8) in the main event Saturday Dec. 8, at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio. For Morales this is a big test. Alvarado has become a genuine gatekeeper for the featherweight and super featherweight divisions. If you don’t have the goods, well, Alvarado will let you know.

    Two other rising prospects Joet Gonzalez and Hector Tanajara are also on the card in separate bouts.

    Tanajara (15-0, 5 KOs) has a tough lightweight matchup against Robert Manzanarez (36-2, 29 KOs) on the semi-main event. It’s rare when Tanajara, 21, fights someone taller than him and to make things more difficult Manzanarez is a southpaw. It’s a pick’em fight.

    The fight card can be seen free on Facebook Watch.

    360 Promotions

    The StubHub Center in Carson hosts the 360 Promotions card featuring elite three female bouts including the woman considered by many the pound for pound best Cecilia Braekhus.

    Braekhus (34-0) defends the WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF and IBO welterweight world titles against Poland’s Aleksandra Lopes-Magdziak (18-4-3) on Saturday Dec. 8. HBO will televise the showdown.

    Add undefeated Claressa Shields (7-0) fighting Germany’s Femke Hermans (9-1) and you have a pair of the best female fighters in the world.

    Expect to see many other great female fighters in attendance including Layla McCarter, Cyborg, Kali Reis, Christina Hammer, Jelena Mrdjenovich, and Laila Ali among others.

    The male portion of the card showcases Juan Francisco Estrada (37-3, 25 KOs) versus Victor Mendez (28-3-2, 20 KOs) in a super flyweight clash. Both fighters hail from Hermosillo, Mexico so they are familiar with each other. Estrada has long been one of the best fighters out of Mexico that many people do not know. He’s an all-around boxer and puncher. Elite stuff.

    Another female fight offered is Aussie Louisa “Bang Bang” Lawton (8-2) who always entertains with her go-for-broke style. She’s fighting local pugilist Lorraine Villalobos who despite only three pro bouts is talented.

    The StubHub always delivers great fights. Always. It seems to have a magic aura that produces memorable battles. All total there are nine bouts planned.

    Tickets are still available at

    Red Boxing

    In the city of Industry, Red Boxing International has a nine-bout fight card at Industry Hills Expo Center.

    The boxing card is filled with young prospects and features a heavyweight clash pitting Rodney Hernandez (11-7-2) against Nick Jones (7-1) in the main event. Hernandez upset LaRon Mitchell who was undefeated last June.

    For tickets and information call (323) 769-9696.

    Top Rank show in NYC

    WBO and WBA lightweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko (11-1) meets Puerto Rico’s Jose Pedraza (25-1) in the main event at The Theater in Madison Square Garden on Saturday Dec. 8. ESPN will televise.

    Lomachenko is fresh from a broken arm but is ready for his clash against Pedraza who vanquished Ray Beltran to get to this point.

    WBO super bantamweight titlist Isaac Dogboe (20-0) defends against Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete (25-1) who hasn’t fought top tier fighters yet.

    Another on the card is lightweight sensation Teofimo Lopez (10-0) fighting Mason Menard (34-3) for the vacant NABF lightweight title. This is Menard’s third shot at a regional title and he doesn’t get a break facing the talented Lopez.