Cunningham-Hernandez, Licina-Alekseev & Gutknecht-Uzelkov on Saturday

Things got hot today at the final press conference prior to the rematch between International Boxing Federation (IBF) Cruiserweight Champion Yoan Pablo Hernandez (25-1, 13 KOs) and Steve “USS” Cunningham (24-3, 12 KOs). “That is my belt, it is coming back to me,” Cunningham shouted during the face-off. “You better hug it tonight. I am the real champion. Nobody is going to help you this time. I live, eat, sleep boxing. Nobody ever helped me. No referee helped me up off the ground when I got knocked down. I am worried, I am worried for you! I am the real champ.”

After a controversial ending to the first fight, Cunningham is eager to set the record straight. Back in October, the 35-year-old American was knocked down in the first round but came back strong. Before the seventh round, the fight was stopped after headbutts had opened two cuts in Hernandez´ face. “It was the wrong decision to stop the fight,” Cunningham said. “All I ask for on Saturday is an equal playing field. Hernandez is a good fighter but I am better. I will prove that I am the best cruiserweight.”

Hernandez was unimpressed by Cunningham´s words. “That´s no problem for me. He is American and Americans talk a lot. We´re used to it. I look forward to the rematch. Cunningham is a top cruiserweight, a very strong opponent, but I deserved to win the first fight and I will beat him again. If there is any doubt left that I am better, I will erase all doubts on Saturday night.”

Hall of Fame Promoter Wilfried Sauerland expects a thrilling battle. “This is going to be a fantastic fight,” he said. “The first duel was very dramatic. I disagree with some of the things that happened. I thought that the count in the first round - when Cunningham went down - was too long. And I also disagree with the decision to stop the fight due to the cuts, I think they could have fought on. Now we look forward to a compelling rematch. Cunningham and Hernandez are the two best cruiserweights out there. We feel honored that, on top of the IBF belt, the RING belt will be at stake. It is going to be very, very interesting.”

In the co-featured main event, Enad Licina (21-3, 11 KOs) and Alexander Alekseev (22-2, 20 KOs) clash for the vacant European Cruiserweight Title, while European Light Heavyweight Champion Eduard Gutknecht (22-1, 9 KOs) defends his title against Vyacheslav Uzelkov (25-1, 16 KOs).

Watch the Hernandez-Cunningham face-to-face from the press conference on Team Sauerland´s facebook page,

Bam on Boxing

Trench Warfare
Let's face it! You need to know where you came from in order to know where you are going. I was taught to be myself, to be the best I could be. I have been given the opportunity to be a leader and to do something new different in Philadelphia boxing.

When I think of boxing I think of a gym before I think of a casino ballroom. I think of the Blue Horizon before I think of Atlantic City. I think blue collar before I think suits and ties.

My next boxing show will be a pro-am card on Friday evening, March 9, at the Front Street Gym (formerly known as John Hennelly Boys Club) at 2074 East Clearfield Street in Kensington, the only gym in the city that has been open every week for over 50 years. This venue has housed many wars over the years and it is so small that the fights seem like trench-warfare.

After talking with my father, Mike Rogers, as well as John Gallagher, of the Veteran Boxers Association (VBA) and Harrowgate Boys Club, and former teamster and current boxing manager Eddie Woods, I learned a lot more about this venue.

Gallagher told me that the John Hennelly Boys Club was established in the early 1960’s by Mickey Grandinetti and Billy Durkin. The carpenters union did most of the work in the gym. When they were working there a carpenter named John Hennelly died, but they went ahead with the work and named the gym after him.

Woods gave me more insight to the historic building. Back in the late 1950's early 1960's there was a boxing gym in Kensington above a Post Office. It was called the Nonpareil gym. The directors of that gym were told they had to shut it down and remove the ring. That same ring now sits in Front Street Gym. It was mentioned that the gym had conveyors, bailers and other equipment upstairs. The workers emptied it out and built the locker room and the office.

Nearly every well-known fighter from Philadelphia either boxed there, trained there, sparred there or came to watch amateur fights there. They include: Gypsy Joe Harris, Buster Drayton, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Jeff Chandler, Calvin Grove, Joe Frazier, Bennie Briscoe, Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, Willie “The Worm” Monroe, Ivan Robinson, Anthony Boyle, Mike Jones, Danny Garcia and on and on.

ESPN TV analyst and trainer Teddy Atlas once said: "I would not change a thing about the gym.” Stories are told that back then Von Clay, Joey Giardello, Dick Turner and Joe McIntyre sparred in that ring. Back then the fighters trained there and fought at The Cambria AC at Kensington and Somerset, which could seat 1,200 people.

A lot of fighters never made it big, but their dreams to succeed were born in that gym. The work ethic that they got from men like Grandinetti, John Mulvenna, Jack Costello, Mr. Ben and Charlie Sgrillo stayed with them.

Fighters are humble, secure and confident, whether rich or poor. I see it in people like Wade Hinnant, Robert “Bam Bam” Hines, Jimmy Deoria, Monty Sherrick, Richie Kates. History can blow your mind, this can be said over and over again, from the Juniper Street Gym to Frazier’s, Shuler’s, Back Alley, Joe Hand’s, Champs, Philly Rumblers, Philly Ramblers--any gym that has been in this city, or any city, the stories are the same the characters change.

The Blue Horizon hosted its first boxing venue was in 1961, one year before Hennelly’s (Front Street) got started. The Blue Horizon currently Is closed and we often hear people talking about it. Even if it did not sell every seat on every show, you still hear the stories about the Blue. We no longer have the Blue Horizon but we have memories. We don't have Connie Mack Stadium but we have memories. Frazier’s is gone but we have memories. We still have the Front Street Gym to make more memories.

The author is a Temple University graduate who is now a part of Peltz Boxing. Follow us on twitter @Peltzboxing and our intern @bamonboxing

Paris United triumph at Salle Wagram

Lausanne, Switzerland, 2 February 2012 - Perfect result for Paris United as they consolidate fourth place after defeating Beijing Dragons at the historic Salle Wagram in the heart of the French capital. In the mythical surroundings of this sensational venue and in front of a strong crowd that included many celebrities, the home team put on a strong performance for this Group B clash.

In the evening's opening Bantamweight contest, Paris United's Aleksandr Riscan bossed the first two rounds, setting the tone for proceedings by dominating the fight from the centre of the ring. The young Moldovan southpaw looked hungry for victory right from the off. Although his opponent Yuyu Du seemed more offensive in the third, Riscan kept up the high intensity, throwing several good combination punches before a stinging left hook to the body caught Du right in the kidney. The Beijing Dragons' 26-year-old never recovered with Riscan winning by KO to the applause of the crowd.

Franck Petitjean then showcased his skills against Zhengjia Deng and was solid throughout the bout as he stamped his authority on the Lightweight contest. Outmanoeuvring his opponent, the classy Frenchman extended his unbeaten record in the competition with a clever display to win and give Paris United a 2-0 lead in the match. When interviewed post-fight, southpaw Petitjean was positive about the result but stressed that he was looking forward to continuing his development within the team.

Making his debut for Paris United was Cameroon's 29-year-old Joseph Maluma as he faced Dongxu Shang in the Middleweight contest. Although tentative in the early exchanges, Maluma quickly grew in the fight, using an excellent high guard to defend himself against his taller opponent before pouncing with some deft punches. Maluma wowed the crowds by sending the Dragons' Shang to the canvas in the third with a hard straight right to the body then again in the fourth with another quality one straight to the Chinese's chin that sent his rival's mouth guard flying. The Paris United orthodox newcomer will have been delighted with his performance as his excellent points victory gave the home team an unassailable 3-0 lead in the tie.

Beijing Dragons will have been pleased with Jianzheng Wang's impressive victory over Maxime Pailleret, reducing the visiting team's deficit; however the night belonged to Paris United who won the match 4:1.

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Article posted on 02.02.2012

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