Freitas and Raheem make it look ugly at Foxwoods

By Alex Pierpaoli

originally posted at


HBO’s Boxing After Dark series returned to the airwaves the weekend with what seemed like an exciting match-up at Foxwoods Resort & Casino in Uncasville, CT.  On paper, Acelino Freitas versus Zahir Raheem looked like the classic style match-up of slugger versus boxer in the two principals but the result looked a lot more like classically bad fights like Mike Tyson versus Bonecrusher Smith or the third bout between Evander Holyfield and John Ruiz, which ironically, took place in the same room; Foxwoods Bingo Hall.  Freitas and Raheem fought to determine the Lightweight Champion and at the end of twelve rounds Freitas prevailed by split decision to the delight of the Brazilians on hand if not all of the boxing experts.


Despite an enthusiastic crowd full of fans and well-wishers, many of whom brought their own percussion instruments and flags, Brazilian Acelino Freitas and Philadelphia’s Zahir Raheem clutched, grabbed, shoved and grappled with each other for twelve close rounds which saw Freitas prevail by split decision.

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Ross vs. Ehikamnor-Contender Finale

Troy Ross defeats Ehinomen Ehikamenor in the Contender Season 4 Finale

By Alex Pierpaoli


On Wednesday night, Canadian Troy Ross defeated Ehinomen “Hollywood Hino” Ehikamenor by fouth round technical knockout at Foxwoods MGM Grand to claim The Contender Season 4 Championship.  Ross became the fourth champion crowned by the 11 week reality-TV-series based boxing tournament airing this season on Versus Network.  Ross and Ehikamenor had emerged in the top spots after the weekly box-offs on the series brought the competitors closer and closer to the finale card at Foxwoods.  Versus broadcast the Finale co-feature live from Foxwoods MGM in the first boxing event at the new MGM Grand Garden Arena.


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Taylor vs. Spinks SKD

Taylor versus Spinks-Something Kind of Different

By Alex Pierpaoli

originally published 4/3/07 on



It’s being billed as Border Battle which leads one to wonder whether that’s because the match-up is right on the border of being a legitimate challenge for the Middleweight King, or because the May 19th weekend is right on the border of the end of spring and the more traditional Memorial Day start of summer, or geographically speaking, Border Battle could refer to a sort of interstate rivalry between neighboring Arkansas, home of Jermain Taylor and Missouri, home of Cory Spinks.  Whatever logic is behind it, Jermain Taylor will defend his undisputed Middleweight Championship against arguably the best Junior Middleweight in the world, Cory Spinks on May 19th in Memphis, Tennessee.  Hoping to capitalize on the celebratory atmosphere in town that week co-promoters Lou DiBella and Don King have put the match-up together to coincide with the city’s “Memphis In May” festivities which include the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, also known worldwide as the Super Bowl of Swine.


In a media conference call last week Taylor’s promoter Lou DiBella ribbed his cohort Don King, Cory Spinks’ promoter, about the culinary contest taking place during fight week.


“The weekend of Taylor-Spinks is sure to be a festive atmosphere,” said DiBella.  “And I know that my co-promoter and good friend Mr. Don King would be very thrilled by that because as I told some members of the press, the only thing King knows more about than boxing is barbecue.”

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Tarver-Jones 3 preview

Tarver-Jones 3: How Great Is Roy Jones Jr?

By Alex Pierpaoli

originally published 10/1/05 on




Great fighters don’t usually get knocked out cold in back-to-back fights.  On the rare occasions when that has happened it has signaled the end of a career; if not to the fighter himself then to those around him that love him and want to see him enjoy his life after the prize ring.  For Roy Jones Jr. that life outside the ring ain’t so bad.  His Royness is a millionaire several times over, he’s a talented commentator for HBO and he’s in excellent physical and mental condition after a stellar ring career of over twenty years.


What more could Roy want?




For Roy Jones Jr. greatness beckons, and he knows it.  Not Hall of Fame quality career greatness, he has that.  I’m not going to split hairs about how McCallum was past his prime and Hopkins was nowhere near his when Roy beat them.  A win is a win and Roy has plenty spectacular ones over opponents of varying levels of competition in multiple weight classes.  Yes, I would put him in the Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible, but without an impressive victory tonight there is a level of greatness that Roy Jones will have never achieved.  Without a win tonight Roy Jones goes down in history as a sort of front runner champion similar to Mike Tyson.

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Gibbs vs. Pierre

Willie Gibbs rallies to stop Lenord Pierre in slugfest at Foxwoods

      By Alex Pierpaoli

originally published 3/13/06 on


On Friday night the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Casino became a battleground when middleweights Willie Gibbs and Lenord Pierre waged a twelve round war that left one man standing.  In a see-saw bout that thrilled the assembled crowd, Willie Gibbs of Philadelphia, endured the two-fisted attack of Lenord Pierre until round twelve when Gibbs dropped Pierre twice, prompting Referee Mike Ortega to stop the bout at 2:53 of the final round.  Going into the twelfth, Pierre led on two of the judges’ official cards but Gibbs’ come-from-behind victory rendered that fact moot in brutal fashion.  The victory gave Gibbs the USBA Middleweight belt, one he had tried to win on a previous trip to Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun, where Gibbs lost to Daniel Edouard in a thriller that saw both men hurt before Gibbs was stopped in round four.  Friday’s title winning victory all but erased those bitter memories for Team Gibbs as they savored a hard fought win over the gritty Lenord Pierre.


In the early going Willie Gibbs did damage with power punches and hurt Pierre in round one, but Gibbs had trouble connecting with more than one punch at a time.  Pierre pressured Gibbs relentlessly, working his body with powerful hooks to Gibbs’ hips and ribs.

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Wright vs. Soliman

Winky’s Wright on, but Sam Soliman wins the night

By Alex Pierpaoli

originally published 12/13/05 on


If December third’s less than thrilling Jermain Taylor-Bernard Hopkins rematch was for the Undisputed Middleweight Championship, then one week later Mohegan Sun held the All-Action version of that same 160 pound division when Winky Wright bested Sam Soliman over twelve rounds.  Billed as a title eliminator to determine the undisputed middleweight challenger, Sam Soliman was only the second 160 pounder that Ronald “Winky” Wright had ever faced in a career most consider qualifies him for the number two spot pound-for-pound in the sport; second only to Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather.  Wright, coming off his dominating victory over Felix Trinidad in May, looked to show his stuff and stay active versus the born and bred Australian, Sam Soliman.  Though battling a chest cold, Winky Wright used crafty boxing and superb defensive skills to turn back the spectacular effort put forth by the unheralded dynamo, Soliman.  The result was pure adrenaline for nearly five thousand fans at Uncasville, CT’s Mohegan Sun Arena on a week when the state was just feeling the icy grip of winter.


Entering the ring Sam Soliman looked almost orange in complexion, tanned no doubt by the Aussie sun, and at the opening bell he blazed out his corner with a fighting style that was downright nuclear in its intensity.  Hurling punches with both hands, Soliman banged shots against Wright with furtive starts and burst like a high-energy neutrino run amok.


Soliman swarmed Wright, attacking his body with wild hooks while Wright tried to establish the jab.  In the early going Wright had trouble keeping Soliman on the outside and in position for his jab that was sure to control the pace and set the tone of the beating to come.  But Winky Wright’s style is measured, methodical; and Soliman’s speedy volume offense kept Wright reacting to what was coming at him instead of setting down the foundation for his own assault.

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