What figures to be a good day-night doubleheader of boxing on DAZN (which starts off with the clash between WBA featherweight titlist, Leigh Wood, and Maurcio Lara in the UK) concludes with the battle between Luis Nery and Azat Hovhannisyan at the Fox Theater in Pomona, California.
This bout is billed as a WBC super bantamweight eliminator.
Hovhannisyn is a fighter's fighter, the consummate pro. For years you'd see him at the Wild Card Boxing Club on Mondays, after having just fought that previous Friday at the Belasco Theater. He's the kind of boxer that would've fit in much better in a bygone era where fighters performed every few weeks.
"2019, September 5, I fight in a WBA elimination fight, three-and-a-half years I'm number one, but no title fight. It's very hard for me. Very hard," lamented Hovhannisyn at the Brickhouse Boxing Club in Los Angeles a couple of weeks back after his days training.
For him, the frustration doesn't just lie in not getting a title shot, but the stretch of time during the pandemic when he was dormant. "Every day I was training, one-and-a-half years, no fight date -- but every day training," said Hovhannisyan, who did not fight in 2020, twice the following year, and just once in 2022.
Hovhannisyan was certainly growing impatient with his situation, that saw guys like Ronnie Rios (who he had stopped in 2018) fight for the WBA title, while his own career stagnated. The boxing business isn't always fair, at times it's downright dirty.
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"I was very, very angry, but there were no solutions," he stated through his friend and adviser, Michael Grigorian. "I didn't know what I should be doing, so I just trained and stayed ready. There's nothing else I could do."
Like many other modern day boxers, Hovhannisyan, is relegated to fighting every so often. The days of boxers staying truly active are long gone. It's not so much about the willingness of the participants to truly hone their craft and earn a living, but the availability of television dates and network whims.
Which certainly grinds the gear of a guy who truly loves combat. There are fighters who look at this as a job, Hovhannisyan, looks at it as his calling. It's a shame because he is one of the most entertaining and fan-friendly fighters in the sport. 'Crazy A', is just that inside the ring with his frenetic, hard-hitting, two-fisted attack.
While he hates the business, he still loves the game. "Yes, of course,'' he said. But there was a realization that at age 34, that it would be best for him to actually hold him back in-between fights. In other words, when it came to sparring and things of that nature, less would be more.
His trainer, Julian Chua, explained to SNAC.com, "one of the big things is that this guy has a lot of experience against a lot of good fighters. He knows what he's doing, he doesn't need to be killing himself all the time. A lot of time fighters over-train. He understands that. This camp he feels his body is at 100-percent."
When undisputed bantamweight champion, Naoya Inoue, came to Los Angeles to train and spar a couple of months back, Hovhannisyan gained some notoriety in Japan for working with 'the Monster' and giving him solid work.
"I've cut back sparring quite a bit, he's fresh," explained Chua. "People leave it in the gym, too much."'
There was also a nagging injury to his right hand that has finally been worked on at the behest of the trainer.
There is no doubting the importance of this bout for Hovhannisyan at this stage of his career. He fought for the WBC 122 title back in 2018 against the difficult, Rey Vargas, losing a 12 round decision. It's been a long road back to even get to this point, where he can put himself in position for another shot at a major belt.
''It's been very frustrating because I love this sport, and seeing somebody who works so hard not getting the benefit, or any type of bump up, it's been very hard," said Grigorian, who has gotten a peak behind the curtain of the boxing industry. "It's been a very good learning lesson for anyone else entering the sport -- that it's not an easy way to make money."
This upcoming bout is a high quality match-up. Hovhannisyan is rated fourth in the division by Ring Magazine, while Nery is ranked sixth. The winner could be in a position to eventually fight the likes of Inoue (who has moved up to 122) or maybe unified champion, Stephen Fulton, who will face the highly regarded Japanese fighter in early May.
"I'm very happy for this fight, Nery's a good fighter, he's a smart, strong fighter. It's a very good fight," he says. "I have to do everything I can to win this fight, and I'm only focused on this particular fight."
Gervonta Davis has pled guilty on four counts related to a hit-and-run case from November 2020.
Sentencing is not till May 5, so he could still face Ryan Garcia on April 15 if a deal is consummated for that bout. Davis has another court hearing for later this month related to a domestic issue from late December.
It was announced by Matchroom Sports that they have acquired the services of Edgar Berlanga, who had been with Top Rank...The April 8 light flyweight unification tilt from Japan pitting Kenshiro Teraji versus Johnathan Gonzalez will be streamed on ESPN+....The Vergil Ortiz-Eimantas Stanionis bout has been rescheduled for April 29 in Arlington, Texas, at College Park Center on DAZN....I can be reached at email@example.com....