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November 19, 2004
One retained his World Boxing Association belt and the other lost it in his first defense. Thats how the weekend went for Puerto Rican boxers John Ruiz and Manny Siaca, respectively.
Denmarks Mikkel Kessler scored an eighth-round TKO over Levittowns Siaca Friday night in Copenhagen, Denmark, to strip Siaca of his WBA super middleweight belt in his first defense out of the gate.
Meanwhile, WBA heavyweight champion John Ruiz (41-5-1) won an ugly unanimous decision over Polands Andrew Golota (38-5-1) Saturday night at New Yorks Madison Square Garden. Referee Randy Neumann threw Ruizs trainer, Norman "Stoney" Stone out of his corner in the eighth after Stone punched Golotas trainer and then threw a roll of tape at Neumann. Despite Ruizs routine of hit and grab, the judges scored it in Ruizs favor, 114-111, 113-112, 114-111.
"I thought I won the fight. He went down twice. I controlled the fight. I am confused here. I am upside down. I have no idea. I am going to watch the tape and see what is going on. This is very confusing to me. Maybe the judges were watching the fight outside the ring and not inside the ring," Golota told the media after the fight.
Meanwhile, Ruiz defended his tactics.
"After that first round, he was getting away with a lot of stuff. He could do whatever he wanted to and I had to be on my best behavior. After they threw out Stoney, that motivated me," Ruiz said. "Every fight is tough. Golota came to fight. I had to motivate myself and in the back of my mind, I knew I was behind. I knew I had to fight hard to get this win. I was focused and that is what I did to win the fight.
Ruiz said he would like a unification bout next.
In Denmark, Kessler (35-0, 27 KO) clearly dominated Siaca through seven rounds and Siaca did not come out of his corner for the eighth round.
"I was taking a lot of punches and my dad [trainer Manny Siaca] and my brother ordered the fight stopped," said Siaca, who was shaken, but not enough to quit the sport altogether. "He [Kessler] fought smart. I didnt have enough of strength. He won it fairly."
Siaca (18-5, 16 KO) has plans to meet with Don Kings matchmaker to determine his next step.
"A lot of people said I shouldnt have taken this fight, but I dont run away from anybody," said Siaca, taking a jab at the WBAs No. 1 challenger Mads Larsen, Kesslers stablemate at Palle Management.
Larsen was originally scheduled to fight Siaca Friday, however, he pulled out with an injury several months ago. Kessler, the WBCs International super middleweight belt-holder and No. 1 ranked WBC fighter, meanwhile, waved off a WBC mandatory fight versus Danny Green in Australia to take a shot at the WBA title on his home turf.
According to reports from Team Palles website, Kessler and Siaca were well-matched in the first round, with Siaca fighting a little defensively.
In the second round, Kessler did damage to Siaca with his jab and Siaca was backing up. The fourth round was the turning point, according to one eyewitness, Martin Vantijk.
"I pulled the teeth out of him when I finally caught him because he was backing up so much," Kessler told reporters after the fight. "Theres nothing worse than fighting a boxer who is not there when youre trying to catch him.
"The Puerto Rican never hit me hard," Kessler said. "In the fifth round I almost stopped him in the corner. But it was in the last seconds of the round and I was trying to be more conservative at the end of each round. He was much more defensive than me."
Siaca, who turns 29 on Nov. 21, was originally scheduled to defend versus the WBAs No. 1 challenger Mads Larsen, Kesslers stablemate at Palle Management. Larsen, however, pulled out with an injury and Kessler subsequently waved off a WBC mandatory fight versus Danny Green in Australia to take a shot at the WBA title on his home turf.
Siaca won the WBA title on his third attempt on May 5, 2004, defeating Australian Anthony Mundine in Mundines native Australia and having lost the first two title attempts to Byron Mitchell.
Kessler fought only once in his six-year career out of his home country, scoring a second-round knockout over Israel Ponce on March 4, 2000 in Las Vegas.
Siaca, who is under contract to Don King, has been up and down over the past three years, and has looked alternately convincing and fallible in the ring.
He captured Mundines WBA title via split decision (115-113, 115-113, 113-114), but sent the Australian to the canvas in the second round. Siaca lost the other two title attempts to Mitchell, the first on March 3, 2001, after being knocked out in the 12th and final round and the second six months later by split decision (112-114, 112-114, 115-112).
Manati is the place to be for winter league games
Manati, less than half an hour west of San Juan, is going to be the hot corner this winter league season. In its cozy Pedro Roman Melendez ballpark, which seats just 8,000, hinges the fate of the entire Puerto Rico Winter League.
If Jose "Tony" Valentin is successful in his bid to win over his hometown with winter ball, the league is back in business. So excited about the prospect of new fans was baseball commissioner Joaquin Monserrate Matienzo this week, that he even began to talk about expansion.
But lets not get ahead of ourselves. Manati has yet to play a home game as its opener was called due to a muddy field courtesy of a weeks worth of rain (the ballpark does not have artificial turf). Valentins wife, Ilka Diaz, had planned a spectacular show for the inaugural game versus the Carolina Gigantes, replete with the towns high school marching band and baton twirlers. Concession stands never before seen in winterball were open for business in the stadiums hallways selling everything from pizza to sandwiches, beer to candy. The place was sold out. By comparison, fewer than 600 fans turned out for opening night in Caguas (versus Santurce).
Gabrielle Paese is a sports reporter in San Juan. She was the 2000 recipient of the Overseas Press Club's Rafael Pont Flores Award for excellence in sports reporting. Comments or suggestions? Contact Gabrielle at email@example.com.
Her Column, Puerto Rico Sports Beat, appears weekly in the Puerto Rico Herald.