In July of 1992, a reporter from the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Tim Parsons, came to Jay Rich’s makeshift boxing gym at the fitness center in the Tahoe Keys. He was doing a piece on the new location and boxing club in town that had three fighters: Jay Rich Jr., Arnulfo Bravo and Simon Ruvalcaba. Bravo and I had amateur bouts upcoming. When asked what the name of the gym was, Coach Rich on the spot called it “The Jab and Hook Boxing Club.”
In memory of that, and in memory to Jay Rich Sr., I have decided to call my new column for Tim Parsons’ website Tahoeonstage.com “Jabs and Hooks with Simon Ruvalcaba.” I will give my monthly takes on the fight game both boxing and MMA. I may poke jabs when needed and come with some unexpected predictions, but it will all be meant to stir up conversation. So sit back and enjoy this adventure that is about to kick off.
Well, it’s a great time to be a fight fan — especially if you’ve just been a casual boxing fan that lately has gotten more in depth into the sport. I’ve always been a believer that how goes the heavyweight division, so goes boxing. This weekend starts what should be the ultimate collision course to a unified heavyweight champion and the first high profile heavyweight battle we have had since Lennox Lewis vs. Evander Holyfield more than 15 years ago.
Undefeated American WBC heavyweight champion (39-0 with 38 knockouts) Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder faces unbeaten Cuban Luis Ortiz. Although it appears to be a great matchup on paper, I think Wilder is going to shine in this one and win quite handily by early to midround knockout or a lopsided and dominant decision victory.
On March 31, unbeaten WBA and IBF champion from England Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) fights WBO Champion Joseph Parker (24-0) of New Zealand. In a competitive fight where I see Joshua emerging in the later rounds to set up the USA vs. England collision course late this year or early 2019. If a Joshua-Wilder fight happens in the United Kingdom, they would sell out any arena with more than 100,000 fans easily. If in the United States, they would sell out any arena as well and make a killing on the pay-per-views. Either way, that is the much anticipated bout in boxing’s historically richest division.
Don’t forget the little guys
The year in boxing is off to a great start, especially in the last two weeks. We saw a veteran hard-luck lightweight Ray Beltran finally win a world title in Reno over Paulus Moses (photo above) in a back-and-forth fight on Feb. 10. In the United Kingdom, George Groves and Callum Smith advanced to the finals of the super middleweight tournament that will crown a unified super middleweight champion later this year. The Groves-Smith bout was set for June, but Groves suffered a shoulder injury in his victory over Chris Eubank Jr., which may delay the battle against Smith. Although I am big on the heavyweight division, HBO this past weekend had me clamouring for more little guys as they showcased three great flyweight (112 pounds) bouts. We also have the welterweight and junior middleweight divisions loaded with talent and all kinds of matchups can be made with the cream of the crop being Keith “One Time” Thurman, Errol Spence Jr. and Terrance Crawford, who is stepping up to the 147 pound division. Closely behind them are the likes of Danny Garcia, “Showtime” Shawn Porter, Jeff Horn and the aging legend Manny Pacquiao.
MMA currently not buzzing?
For much of the past few years at my workplace, there has been weekly chatter about MMA. I’ve noticed a bit of a drop off recently and I think the sport is in transition. Connor McGregor, after a record payday boxing match against Floyd Mayweather returned to the UFC with negotiating power, which is frowned upon in the MMA business. UFC President Dana White recently has stripped McGregor of his lightweight title due to inactivity. The sport’s biggest female star, Ronda Rousey, is now in the WWE and Rousey’s top nemesis, Cyborg, is searching for a suitable superstar to emerge before she ages too far past her prime. I think MMA right now is going through a change of talent and name recognition, and that new blood will soon emerge into the passion of the fans, l bringing more excitement and the water-cooler talk back into the sport.
All in all, if you’re a fan of the fight game it is a great time with so much potential, let’s just hope that fights actually do happen in a suitable time and the fans don’t walk away having lost their patience.
Thank you, Tim Parsons for a new outlet to share my thoughts and opinions. I can be followed on twitter @mister_boxing and on Facebook along with comments section here or on my features on Punchline.live under the “Simon Says” tab.
Please also tune in to the weekly “Punchline Fight Talk” Radio podcast with former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik and James Dominquez in which I make regular appearances. Tuesdays 2:30-4:30 p.m. Pacific time and Thursdays 2-4 p.m.
– Simon Ruvalcaba