Photo Credit: Photos by Alex, Mark Ruddick Photography and Kylie Angel Photography
Saturday night at the Hamilton Convention Centre, Three Lions Promotions, in front of a full house, in their second Professional Boxing event in Canada…set the stage for Hamilton, Ontario, Canada native, Steven “The Piranha” Wilcox (17-2-1), to make his first defense of his WBA – NABA Super Lightweight Title. In dominant fashion, with his father and renowned trainer Bob Wilcox in his corner, alongside Ryan Grant of the famed Canadian Grant brother’s family, another renowned boxing coach himself. Steven Wilcox over the course of 10 rounds of high paced action, completely dismantled Mexican rival Oscar Arjona (now 13-6 after the loss). Wilcox had previously been on the short end of a disputed decision to Arjona in an 8 rounder in Mexico last December, in a rainy outdoor venue. In a fight that was so controversial, the official decision had actually been overturned more than once. Wilcox with his belt now on the line for the first time, his family, his hometown, NHL’ers and Canadian Boxing Legends and Superstars of the past and present on hand watching (including George Chuvalo, Marvin “The Weasel” Elkind, Billy “The Kid” Irwin, Donovan Boucher, Sandy Tsagouris, Fitz “The Whip” Vanderpool, Egerton Marcus, Asif Dar…) came out of the gate, looking to avenge a poor decision, that he along with many others, felt he was on the short end of. ..And Wilcox went out and did just that!
It was clear from the very first round that Wilcox, who was getting off first, and more often, was not only the quicker handed boxer. Steven Wilcox was also packing a lot more pop in his punches than Oscar Arjona. As the battle went on, this size, power and speed differential would become more and more evident. After an easy first round to score in favour of the Canadian, Arjona himself knew he had to step up his game, and he certainly tried to. The second round opened up with Arjona throwing more combinations, and landing more often than Wilcox. However Wilcox’s patience and ring savvy was also being rewarded, and as the round went on, it was the Steel Town Boxer who was inflicting the higher levels of damage with his counter punching, swift jabs, and combinations whenever he let his hands go in flurries. Not to be outdone, Steven Wilcox then upped the tempo once again in this tilt, even more in the 3rd round, and Wilcox set a pace that he never looked back on, winning every round of the bout in impressive fashion every step of the way. Steven Wilcox’s consistent pressure had Arjona wobbled at the end of the 6th round. “The Piranha” then dropped Arjona twice in a very short span in the 7th, and the fight looked like it was done. But credit to Oscar Arjona for truly being “Mexican Tough”, and just as his nickname “Elegante” would suggest, Arjona added his fair share of flash to this fight every chance he got. Wilcox was just so superior of a Pugilist though; he didn’t let Arjona get away with doing it very often, and at the end of the contest, Oscar was undoubtedly bested by “The Piranha”. After Arjona survived to the final bell, the referee’s all officially saw Steve Wilcox win every single round, as scores were 100-88 unanimously across the board. From ringside I scored the bout 100-89 with the second round even, and Wilcox earning 10 points in every single round of this rematch.
Steven Wilcox is also the Sports Ambassador for “Have a Heart Cayman Islands”, a charitable organization that partners with both local and international partners to sponsor and provide life saving heart surgery for children all over the world. Three Lions Promotions held a dinner, an auction and various other fund raising initiatives, with proceeds going to “Have a Heart Cayman Islands” at this event. Steven Wilcox additionally donated proceeds from his purse to the charity as well.
After the contest, Wilcox revealed that he had sustained a hand injury right around the second knockdown in the 7th round. Steven Wilcox with one hand injured, won all three of those final rounds, on all three official scorecards!
In the Co-Main event, in a bout many walked away from saying that it was the Fight of the Night, Hamilton’s own Kevin Higson (11-1) also got his chance at redemption in the form of a rematch with Mexican Boxer, Martin Islas (11-3). Islas had handed Higson his only loss of his career in October of last year, at this very same venue, at Three Lions Promotions’ inaugural event. ..And Kevin Higson didn’t waste any time getting ahead on the scorecards, this time around. As after a short spell of both Boxers jockeying for superior positioning, Higson opened the contest firing away with explosive shots at a heavy rate of fire. Islas after looking overwhelmed towards the end of the 1st round; started out the second round much more composed. He used tactical distancing and lateral movement of his own, to slow down the high connect percentage that Higson had been compiling earlier. But a relentless Kevin Higson wouldn’t stop letting his hands go, and as the round wore on, both Boxers landed punishing blows in the exchanges that ensued. After two rounds, I had the bout even on my score card, in this already hard fought battle. With six rounds still to go, Kevin Higson turned on the jets in the 3rd round, as the war between these two combatants, over the course of two bouts now, waged on. Both the effect of the impressive body work Higson was putting on display, (ala his trainer Billy “The Kid” Irwin who was in Higson’s corner along with Bob Wilcox) and the many power shots that Higson was mixing in, up top, appeared to be taking a toll on his Mexican counterpart. Who was now wearing the damage on his face, and looked to be slowing down at the halfway point of this fight. The fourth round, like a microcosm of this fight up to this point, was all give and go. A see-saw round where the action was initiated back and forth, just as the individual rounds had been going up to this point as well.
With the fans in attendance at the edges of their seats, the home-town Steel Town Boxer kicked it into another gear, a gear that Martin Islas just didn’t appear to have in his arsenal. It was all Higson in the 5th and 6th rounds that followed. Islas saw a high number of his punches missing their mark, and the ones that landed, didn’t have the power behind them that they initially had, that were previously keeping Higson honest. As a result, Higson began picking away at Islas, working him over even more with combinations that mixed up shots both upstairs, and down to the body. The durable Mexican Martin Islas mounted one last surge at Kevin Higson in the 7th round. But a very composed Higson regained control of the fight in the final round, punching his ticket to the victory on the official scorecards which read: 77-75 twice in favour of Kevin Higson, and 77-75 once in favour of Martin Islas. I scored the fight 78-75 in favour of Kevin Higson, with the fourth round being even. So even though the result of this closely fought contest was officially a split decision, the judges at the end of the day, regardless of what kind of action they preferred inside the ropes, I feel, got the decision correct in awarding Kevin Higson the well deserved win. Additionally with the victory, Higson was also able to avenge the only loss on his professional record. With “The Avengers” Wilcox and Higson, both picking up victories against opponents they had previously lost to, Boxing fans in Hamilton have a lot to be excited about looking forward. Especially considering the great poise and potential their athletes just demonstrated under pressure, while facing such adversity.
In a Heavyweight Tilt that right off the hop, had a David versus Goliath look to it. With 6’6, 225 plus pound giant, Mladen “Monster” Miljas (now 5-0, 5 KO’s) a Croatian native that’s now a long time resident of Mississauga, Ontario, who trains under a head coach to a number of past Canadian Champions, as well as current WIBA Super Bantamweight World Champion, Sandy “Lil Tyson” Tsagouris, in Billy Martin. Toeing the line opposite Carlos “Papi” Carreon (4-3) of Mexico, who literally appeared to be about a foot shorter, and looked like he was about the same weight as the “Monster”, only a much, much rounder 225 plus pounds, give or take. Surprisingly though, it was Carreon who tried to get the jump on the big man right away at the opening bell. “Papi” came out swinging punches in bunches that simply bounced off the chest of Miljas, as he looked down at his aggressive opposition, with a smile on his face. Miljas caught up to the awkwardly quick Mexican “little” Heavyweight in the first round, which ended with Carreon crashing down to the canvas, and then beating the count. A solid and well placed left hook from the “Monster” dropped Carreon again in the second round. Mladen Miljas then moved in for the kill, and ended the fight decisively dropping Carreon for the second time in the 2nd round, and the third time in the contest. The referee had seen enough, and waived off any further damage, while Carreon looked like he wasn’t going to be capable of making it up to his feet before the count anymore anyway.
Former Canadian Super Bantamweight Champion, David “Buzz” Grant (11-4), an Orangeville, Ontario native who now calls Hamilton home, with his father and trainer Jim Grant, along with Bob Wilcox in his corner; Stepped between the ropes for the second time, after an almost 7 year lay-off, to battle against Isidro “Texano” Toala (10-6-1) of Mexico. At almost 39 years old, “Buzz” Grant actually moved around the ring like he was the younger fighter in this match-up, even though Toala is the one 15 years younger and only 24 years of age. The contest started off as a bit of a typical chess match, with the two Boxers feeling out their respective ranges and distancing early on. By the second round, “Buzz” Grant was consistently picking off his opponent’s advances with his gloves very effectively, while landing his own punches with high accuracy, completely dictating the pace. After the cerebral attack that Grant used to ever so technically, completely control the 3rd and 4th rounds of this 6 rounder. It was evident to everyone on hand that Toala needed at least a knockdown to even get back into this fight. The tough Mexican “Texano” though, gave it everything he had down the stretch. Swinging wild punches from different angles at Grant, along with haymakers, combinations, and everything he had left in him, in spurts, in those the final two rounds. But “Buzz” Grant was way too well refined. His footwork was far superior, as Grant continuously set traps that Toala just kept walking into…and once the dust settled, “Buzz” Grant well deservedly picked up the unanimous decision. The official scorecards read: 60-54 twice and 59-55 once. I also awarded “Buzz” the advantage on my scorecard in every single round of this lightweight bout and had it 60-54.
“The Tribute”, a charitable night of Professional Boxing by Three Lions Promotions, on the second anniversary of the passing of “the Greatest of All Time”. Which paid tribute to Boxing Legend and humanitarian, Muhammad Ali, with the toughest man he every fought, according to the Legend himself, George Chuvalo there in person, paying homage and watching the action from ringside. With proceeds going to a very good cause in “Have a Heart Cayman Islands” started off their elegant and classy event with a pre-show that included an artful display of acrobatics, and even a fire show. But the opening fireworks didn’t stop there. In the first fight of the night, “The Brazilian Bomber” Mayron Vieira Zeferino (4-0) of Toronto, Ontario who boxes out of the well renowned, Grants MMA – Rival Boxing Gym, under the tutelage of Ryan Grant, faced off in the opening bout against previously undefeated Mexican Boxer, Abraham Juarez (4-1). With the way this fight started, once these two Boxers kicked off and let their hands go, you could see that neither fighter wanted this one to go the distance. It was Mayron Zeferino though, who was getting the better of the exchanges in the first round, as he landed long range bombs that had the crowd oohing and aahing. “The Brazilian Bomber” Zeferino, slipping punches and landing like a stealth bomber, then moved in on Juarez with an all out barrage in the 2nd round that dropped him clean. As soon as Juarez made it up to his feet, and the referee cleared him to continue, Zeferino pounced on his foe once again, and finished Abraham Juarez off with a flurry of punches in bunches, forcing the referee to halt the contest. Landing Mayron “The Brazilian Bomber” Zeferino the win via TKO in 2!
Cover Photo courtesy of: Photos by Alex
In the Main Event of the Three Lions Card in Tribute of Muhammad Ali, and George Chuvalo, with Chuvalo sitting at Ringside, inside the Hamilton Convention Centre, in Ontario, Canada, Saturday night…Home-Town Hamilton Boxer, Steven “The Piranha” Wilcox (17-2- 1) retained his WBA-NABA Super Lightweight Championship, in front of a jam packed and sold out audience, by way of unanimous decision over Oscar Arjona (13 – 6) of Mexico. Official scores were 100-88 on all three scorecards. Wilcox also avenged a controversial decision loss to Arjona, with the dominant shut-out victory.
In the Co-Main Event, Kevin Higson (11 – 1) of Hamilton, Ontario was victorious in his attempt to avenge the only blemish on his professional record, with a split decision over Mexico City’s, Martin Islas (11 -3). Official scores of the bout were 77-75 twice in favour of Higson, and 77-75 once in favor of Islas.
Also on the card, Mladen “Monster” Miljas of Mississauga, Ontario (5 – 0, 5KO’s) kept his knock-out streak intact and rolling, at 5 in a row to start his professional boxing career, with a T.K.O victory over Carlos Carreon (4 – 3) of Guadalajara, Mexico.
Orangeville, Ontario native “Buzz” Grant (11 – 4) who now resides in Hamilton, was near perfect in his unanimous decision win over Isidro Taola (10-6-1) of Mexico. The official scorecards after the contest read, 60-54 twice and 59-55 once.
And in the evening’s opening contest, in a battle of unbeaten Boxers, Mayron “The Brazilian Bomber” Zeferino (4 -0) of Toronto, Ontario, was just way too much for Abraham Juarez (4 -1) of Mexico. True to his name, Zeferino bombed away on Juarez in the second round, and with a flurry that followed a knockdown, the ref. was forced to stop the fight, and award the T.K.O. to the Toronto based Boxer Zeferino.
More news to follow…
In the ever changing World of Boxing, the clock never stops ticking. Just as time moves forward and old Champions fall, while new Champions rise…new Contenders are also born, and the circle of combatants inside the ring, much like the circle of life, remains in a constant state of motion, all the time. The best of the best though, somehow manage to stop time, even if only for a while, and the impact they leave behind, can create Legends that very well may last forever. It wasn’t that long ago that I touted Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez as the deserving King to the throne of the best of the best around. But sooner or later, either the best lose, or they retire, and unfortunately for Chocolatito, that loss came a lot sooner than expected. But that wasn’t the only major bout in the Boxing World that shook up the mix at the top of the talent pool recently. So let’s have a look at how I’ve got the Top 10 “Pound for Pound” Boxers around ranked, and why:
1.) “Canelo” Saul Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KO’s) who is set to fight “Triple G” Gennady Golovkin in September, has faced, defeated, and even destroyed, the kind of opposition to date that will undoubtedly already put him in the Boxing Hall of Fame. But Alvarez’s biggest test of his entire eleven year career (outside of Floyd Maywether of course) will be when he moves up again from Super Welterweight, where “Canelo” has dominated his opposition for so long, to Middleweight where Alvarez has already been a World Champion, and beaten the likes of Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan and Erislandy Lara, with Saul Alvarez now looking to add all four major Middleweight World Titles, to his already vast collection of golden world title belts, in one shot. His boxing skill and ring savvy in my opinion are actually underestimated, having only been outmatched by Floyd Mayweather since reaching the sport’s top ranks. And his experience is a factor that I think can be the biggest difference maker in the upcoming Super Fight with Golovkin as well…So much so that I’m actually picking Alvarez to beat Golovkin on September 16th for all four major Middleweight Titles. If that occurs, it will be the crowning achievement for the Pound for Pound King of the Boxing Ring! Truth is, whoever wins that fight can stake the truest claim of being the Pound for Pound best Boxer alive. No doubt…
2.) “GGG” – “Triple G” Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33 KO’s) was not at his most impressive best in his last bout against Daniel Jacobs. But credit Jacobs for being smart enough to use the weigh-in rules to his advantage, and for showing up ready to fight the Middleweight Division’s monster of a Champion. Golovkin though has shown throughout his career that he is the modern era’s quintessential power puncher, he’s a walking Knock-Out highlight reel, and he has added a bright spark to the sport of boxing that just can’t be ignored! Golovkin as mentioned will get his chance to prove that he currently is the best in the world, inside the 9th Marquis of Queensbury rules, in September when he puts all four major Middleweight Titles on the line, squaring off against “Canelo” Alvarez in a much anticipated showdown that almost already went down. All legal matters are out of the way, the date has been set, Ladies and Gentleman, get ready for a modern day “Super Fight” for all the marbles, between the two best Boxer’s in the business! This is what Boxing is supposed to be all about! The best fighting the best, so there’s no question who the Real Champion, really is!
3.) Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (31-0, 15 KO’s) after defeating Sergey Kovalev, could very easily have been recognized as the best boxer alive, pound for pound. But the landscape is always changing in the Boxing Universe, and New Challengers are always waiting for their shot. But before Andre Ward can expand across the Light Heavyweight Division and improve upon his already remarkable legacy, Ward now has some unfinished business to attend to with Kovalev in June. Both Boxer’s will know each other a lot better, which could potentially make for a much more explosive impact when these two meet inside the ring again. Ward though, found an answer to neutralize Kovalev’s punching power with superior body work in the first go ‘round, and I’m expecting Ward’s ring savvy to do much the same in the rematch!
4.) Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KO’s) is a power punching beast of a Knock Out Specialist and losing a closely contended decision to Andre Ward doesn’t change that in any way at all. Kovalev will get his shot at redemption in July, and after stopping 12 of his last 15 opponents, with his last 10 bouts all being world title fights…and his only career loss coming by way of a very, very close decision to Andre Ward, one can only expect to see the very best that the “Krusher” has to offer in his upcoming rematch! Will it be enough to defeat Andre Ward? Only time will tell…
5.) Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomanchenko (8-1, 6 KO’s) defies logic inside the ring, and it’s no surprise if to some having a Boxer with an 8-1 record on my Top 5 Pound for Pound list also in some ways defies logic… But this guy is that good! Lomanchenko moves like Neo from The Matrix slipping punches and setting up counters with unbelievable skill, movement, anticipation and accuracy. He hits hard, he has a formidable Ukrainian cranium with his solid chin, even though he’s harder to catch than the Boogie-man! Lomanchenko has been on every Boxing fan’s radar since he was an illustrious amateur with a 396-1 record and Two Olympic Gold Medals around his neck. Lomanchenko went from the Ams right into the deep end and world title contention immediately upon making the move to the Pros. He became a World Champion in his second attempt and only 3rd Professional bout, which is almost unheard of in the modern era. When Lomanchenko gets his chance to avenge his only loss, which is in the works currently, possibly taking place in August, I’m not only predicting a KO win for Lomanchenko, I’m actually expecting it! Lomanchenko is still early in his career at only 9 fights to his credit, and look for this next-gen superstar to unify world titles in multiple weight classes in the years to come!
6.) Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KO’s) is only this far down on my list because it’s almost like “Pac-Man” is on the shelf, waiting for one last Mega Fight…and in the meantime he’s still a World Champion with his next defense coming in Australia in July versus Jeff Horn (16-0-1, 11 KO’s). Hardly a Paquaio versus Mayweather, Marquez, De La Hoya, Mosley, Barrera, Morales, Cotto, Hatton or even Bradley fight now is it? Pacquiao however, is a bonafide boxing legend, no doubt about it, and I think there’s still more energy left in the Energizer Bunny that has been Manny Pacquiao inside the ring, for what seems like ages now. Pacquiao is still a very relevant name at the top of the Boxing Universe, and he definitely deserves to be in the Pound for Pound conversation. But I think there will be a lot more talk about Pacquiao once again, when his level of opposition improves, and he possibly even takes on someone on this list. Maybe even an old Pound for Pound King if one should decide to return to the sport of Boxing, and throw his hat back in the ring again!?!
7.) Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30 KO’s) is a three division World Champion and I expect we’ll soon see him picking up world titles in more divisions in the near future. His power in undeniable, he posses well refined boxing skills, and he comes from one of the smartest Boxing families in the game today! He had a bout of inactivity partly due to the business of boxing, but Garcia looks like he’s back and better than ever! Not yet the household name he likely will be and time will only tell if I’m right about Mikey Garcia, and how good he really is!
8.) Terence “Bud” Crawford (30-0, 21 KO’s) has been a World Champion for over three years, spanning across two divisions, and the level of opposition Crawford has left in his wake has been consistently amongst the best in the business. Terrance Crawford is also the top dog, nestled nicely between the lightweight and welterweight divisions. Meaning that Lightweights like Mikey Garcia, and Welterweights like Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman are all potential pound for pound showdowns available for Crawford in the near future! Whether it’s Garcia that moves up, or Crawford who makes the jump to welterweight, or even a catch weight somewhere in between…I expect we’ll see the name Terence Crawford in the bright lights, pitting him against some of the very best pound for pound Boxers around today, very soon!
9.) Guillermo “The Jackal” Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KO’s) turned Pro 8 years ago, after winning 2 Olympic Gold Medals, and 2 Amateur World Championships, racking up a record of 463-12 along the way. In only his 7th professional bout “The Jackal” became an Interim World Champion, and “Rigo” has been unstoppable as a full Super Bantamweight World Champion for 5 years straight now! Rigondeaux is a pure boxing talent, the epitome of Cuban excellence inside the ring. His defense is beyond outstanding and his counter-punching is even better. The only thing Rigondeaux is truly lacking right now is that super top level of opposition, to push his career and his legacy to the next level. There was that upset of “The Filipino Flash” Nonito Donaire back in 2013 which has been Rigondeaux’s crowning achievement to date. But with some great fights coming out of the featherweight division, and Lomanchenko making all kinds of noise at super featherweight…that pound for pound Mega Fight Rigondeaux is due, may be just around the corner.
10.) Keith “One Time” Thurman (28-0, 22 KO’s) has been on fire staking claim that he is the very best Welterweight in the World today! Thurman has been collecting gold belts like Pokemon, and he doesn’t look like he’ll be happy until he collects them all. Recently handing the ever formidable Danny Garcia his first loss, making Thurman the current owner of 2 out of the 4 major titles at Welterweight. A unification showdown with Manny Pacquiao looks like it may very well be in the cards in Thurman’s future. That or even a potential unification bout with the British Welterweight sensation Kell Brook, who holds the other major title at 147 pounds. However, “One Time” just underwent elbow surgery that is likely to keep this Champ out till the end of 2017. So Thurman’s legacy is going to have to wait until his return, before it gets the chance to reach the super stardom that “One Time” appears destined for. Again, only time will tell…
An honorable mention has to go out to Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19 KO’s), who recently finished Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round of their Heavyweight Title slugfest! Putting the Heavyweight division right back on the map in the sport of Boxing. However, a lot of questions remain at Heavyweight with Tyson Fury’s (25-0, 18 KO’s) future uncertain, and Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37 KO’s) also staking claim to the Heavyweight throne. The future of the Heavyweight Division now looks brighter and at the same time, more chaotic than it has in ages, and when the dust settles, whoever comes out on top will likely also move up the pound for pound rankings across the board. Especially with the excitement that these massive Boxer’s all bring to their venues, every single time they enter the ring!
Also an honorable mention is in order for Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (46-1, 38 KO’s) at the very least. I couldn’t very well put a Boxer who just lost to someone not even in consideration of being on this list, I mean not even close to being even a thought, anywhere inside the Top 10. With that being said, “Chocolatito” did not appear to be his usual ferocious self in his last bout, and who knows why that was? What I do know, is that Roman Gonzalez is a premier Boxer in the world today. His achievements inside the ring, winning a multitude of world titles over the span of 4 divisions, makes him more than worthy to crack this list. Who knows, maybe “Srisaket Sor Rungvisai” (Wisaksil Wangek) (43-4-1, 39 KO’s) just had Chocolatito’s number that night, or maybe he’s a lot better than his record depicts. Personally I doubt very much that lightning will strike in the same place twice, if these two were to clash again. I also believe that Roman Gonzalez will either defend his Bantamweight World Champion again, or pick up yet another World Title and put himself right back on this list where he belongs, sooner rather than later…and I doubt very much that Super Bantamweight is where the story will end for Chocolatito, as he’s only 29 years old with a lot of time potentially left in the tank…
Only time will tell.