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Avila Perspective, Chap. 190: Beterbiev vs. Smith, the Honda Center and More

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  • Avila Perspective, Chap. 190: Beterbiev vs. Smith, the Honda Center and More

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    By David A. Avila

    Madison Square Garden hosts yet another boxing showdown as Russia’s Artur Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) meets America’s Joe Smith (28-3, 22 KOs) in a light heavyweight championship unification match on Saturday, June 18. ESPN will televise the Top Rank card.

    Seems you have to be Russian to have a light heavyweight world title with Dmitry Bivol holding the WBA version.

    European fighters dominate the super middleweight, light heavyweight and cruiserweight divisions. They also don’t do too bad in the heavyweights.

    Beterbiev, 37, now fights out of Canada and has yet to hear the final bell in any of his professional fights. Everyone he has ever laid his mitts on was unconscious before the last bell sounded. He also has double Olympic credentials. Nobody calls out Beterbiev.

    Smith, 32, never fought in the Olympics but knows a thing or two about two-by-fours and construction. He’s Long Island blue collar all over and wearing a hard hat and using his hands are as natural as lacing up his construction boots. Nothing comes easy for Smith and that’s OK by him.

    So far, Smith continues to surprise experts with a survival instinct that can’t be taught. The New York fighter scraped by with two close wins over Russia’s Max Vlasov by majority decision and a split decision over Jesse Hart. Can he survive Beterbiev?

    Top Rank’s Bob Arum predicts a fight of the year candidate.

    “Joe Smith is a tremendous fighter. He has a big heart. He has a lot of skills and a lot of punching power. And what can I say about Artur Beterbiev? He really epitomizes the ferocity that light heavyweights have been known for,” said Arum.

    Honda Center

    Anaheim was target zero for middleweights last weekend as Mexico’s Jaime Munguia and England’s Jimmy Kelly battled and it’s come to my realization that the Honda Center has become one of the best secrets in prizefighting.

    Over the past three decades some historic events took place at the venue located on Katella Avenue that was formerly the Arrowhead Pond.

    One boxing card in 1995 featured Marco Antonio Barrera, Alejandro “Cobrita” Gonzalez, Jorge “Maromero” Paez, Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez and Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez. Three of those bouts were world title fights.

    It was October 1996 at the Honda Center that I saw a bloody contest between Julio Cesar Chavez and Joey Gamache. It was the Mexican great’s first fight after losing to Oscar De La Hoya by technical stoppage due to a large gash opened in the first round. Gamache helped re-open that same cut with a butt and chaos ensued. It was quickly quelled.

    Chavez won by knockout that night to appease his legion of fans who were still upset that he lost to De La Hoya.

    Let’s not forget the women or MMA.

    Ronda Rousey made her UFC splash at the Honda Center and the crowd was intense. Though MMA fights usually had a certain feel, when the blonde titan showed up it was more rock concert than fight as she delivered the win. Sitting on the floor were female boxers like Lucia Rijker and Mia St. John while Dodger pitcher Brad Penny sat front row.

    Certain venues have a tint of magic to them and the Honda Center ranks among them. They also have the friendliest staff in Southern California. Last week’s fight card featuring Mexico’s Jaime Munguia versus England’s Jimmy Kelly had that home entertainment feel that ended with a knockout climax.

    After the fight everyone headed to one of the local eateries. Fighters mingled with fans and CSAC officials waved welcome back to reporters and everyone shared beers and good food. Three hours passed quickly. Anaheim just had a good feel to it. Too bad the baseball team can’t say the same.

    Boxing in Anaheim just fits.

    Friday Fights in SoCal

    Bantamweight contender Saul “the Beast” Sanchez faces Eros Correa in the main event on Friday in Southern California.

    Sanchez (18-1, 11 KOs) meets Correa (11-1, 8 KOs) at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario on Friday June 17. The Thompson Boxing Promotions card will be streamed live on their web site

    “I’ve seen Correa fight a few times and he’s a good fighter, but I’ve been in the ring with much better competition, and I see myself dominating this fight,” said Sanchez who is ranked number 2 in the USA and top 20 internationally. “I know he’s coming to fight, so I’ll be fully ready to counter anything he brings to the ring. I just believe I’m better than him in all areas, especially my power. I don’t think this fight goes the distance.”

    Correa says this is a do or die fight.

    “This will be my first main event and I’m going to leave everything in the ring because I know a fight like this doesn’t come around often,” said Correa. “Thompson Boxing is giving me this golden opportunity and I’m going to make the most of it. I have plans to upset Sanchez in front of all his hometown fans and move to the next level of my career.”

    Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information call (714) 935-0900.

    Saturday Fights in SoCal

    Three separate boxing cards load up the SoCal schedule on Saturday, June 18.

    At noon, the WBC hosts their 6th annual amateur tournament. The finals take place on Saturday, June 18, at the Grinder,1060 Eastern Avenue in Los Angeles. Numerous amateur fights will take place. The event is free to the public.

    At 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, the Influencer Fight League’s IFL 3, called “Worlds Collide,” takes place at Fearless LA, 1611 S. Hope Street in downtown L.A. Numerous influencers will be participating. One fight of interest pits pro fighters Sylvia Figueroa versus Mykalina Medina.

    At 6 p.m., Elite Boxing Promotions and Red Boxing Promotions stage a lengthy boxing card at the Commerce Casino in Commerce, Calif. Several interesting fights include Brandon Cruz (8-2) vs Oscar Guerrero (5-0); Aida Satybaldinova (5-2-1) vs Jaica Pavilus (3-5-1); Jesus Arce (18-4) vs Leonardo Torres (10-15-1).

    Fights to Watch

    Fri. ESPN+ 6 p.m. Yulihan Luna (23-3-1) vs Jessica Gonzalez (8-5-2).

    Sat. ESPN 7 p.m. Artur Beterbiev (17-0) vs Joe Smith (28-3).