Convicted Artist Magazine

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Apr 16th
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Home Boxing

Boxing Editorials

OXNARD, A 20-YEAR FLOOD

OXNARD, A 20-YEAR FLOOD

Oxnard, California is a study in the boxing equivalent of the concept of “they tell two friends, and then they tell two friends, etc.”  A city that only 20 years ago was never a blip on the boxing map, now has more professional fighters per capita than any other U.S. city.  Local boxing prospect Erik Ruiz says, “There weren't any boxers I looked up to or even knew about that came out of Oxnard at that time. Growing up my brother would always watch Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. that was one of the fighters I looked up to.”  The Garcia family may be the catalyst for this rapid growth, and trainer Robert Garcia brought the city its first world champion, however it was another fighter out of that same gym that put the city on the scene.

Fernando Vargas’s career spanned 11 years as a pro, following an Olympic appearance.  He spent most of that time on television, and was the first to vocally praise his hometown of Oxnard.  He was your classic boxer’s story… single mother raised, tough neighborhood, but many people did not realize this reality existed in Ventura County, an hour northwest of Los Angeles.  South Central and East LA were the rise-from-the-ashes story people knew and understood.  Once it was made public knowledge that a tough lifestyle was breeding fighters in Oxnard, it seems the confidence of the local fighters soared.

Yet the Oxnard explosion would not come as a result of young local fighters.  It actually came in the form of transplants, who have made Oxnard home.  This happened in two ways.  Established champions like Sergio Martinez came to Oxnard.  The Middleweight champion did so in following his trainer Pablo Sarmiento, and this led not only to other Argentines, such as Marcos Maidana making the trip… but also Martinez’s former opponents, such as Kelly Pavlik.  The other way the stable of fighters grew was an almost “sister city” program with Garden City, Kansas.

As local fighter Herbert Acevedo puts it, “I grew up in Garden City, Kansas, and lived in the same neighborhood as Victor Ortiz. He is actually the one who told my dad to take me to the gym when I was 10 years old.  That’s when I first came to the sport of boxing. I really looked up to Brandon Rios and Victor Ortiz since I came out of the same gym and town as them. Seeing their accomplishments in this sport motivated me.”  Acevedo has a record of 11-1-6 KO’s.  His activity stagnated after his first 3 fights out of Kansas, yet he has been steadily busy since his move to Oxnard.

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BRADLEY STILL WORTHY OF RESPECT

BRADLEY STILL WORTHY OF RESPECT

Manny Pacquiao thoroughly outboxed and outfought Timothy Bradley last Saturday night.  It's actually the second time he has done so, in almost exactly the same way.  Where they go from here is more a prediction of egos and business politics than logic.  Pacquiao will likely take a 5th fight with Marquez, should the latter defeat Alvarado, while Bradley will be left to rebuild.  Many things have become clear after watching this match.
 
1) Pacquiao is still a notch above the rest.
Except Mayweather, he would be favored against most, and is still a top 5 P4P fighter.  Andre Ward deserves his number 2 spot, but after Bradley has twice been dominated, I think we can agree that Marquez simply has the correct style to trouble Pacquiao, but is not better than he (much like Fullmer over Robinson, or Norton over Ali).
 
2) Bradley's leg injuries are a result of Pacquiao's attack, nothing more.
For a man who has never injured anything below the waist in a match before, to suffer 3 leg injuries against one man in 24 rounds... it's clear that while Bradley's defense against Pacquiao is underrated, the positions he has to put himself in to avoid punches is what is causing his leg, ankle, calf, foot, etc to hurt.
 
3) Pacquaio is aging, but that still leaves a lot of room
A diminished Pacquiao is still a dangerous Pacquiao.  The fire looked to be back, and he mixed it well with intelligence. 

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REFS HOLD CAREERS, NOT JUST LIVES, IN THEIR HANDS, Part 1

REFS HOLD CAREERS, NOT JUST LIVES, IN THEIR HANDS, Part 1

Refereeing a fight is not easy work.  I do not envy those refs for what they have to tackle.  However, they hold not only the lives of fighters in their hands, but their careers as well.  Much stink is made when a fight is waved off too late, or not at all.  Surely everyone in the world is being blamed for Mago Abdullasamov's injuries against Mike Perez.
 
However, the career assassinations that take place because of an early stoppage can be drastically damaging.  I will approach this not only from the point of view of fighters who have been unjustly denied the opportunity to continue, but from those who were, and with the imagination of what might have been had they not been so lucky in the referee department.
 
Quick Stoppages

Mike Alvarado vs. Brandon Rios
Pat Russell is one of the classic quick trigger California refs.  Like Lou Moret, David Mendoza, either Raul Caiz, Jose Cobian, and others, he waves it off after so much as a stagger.  Alvarado was hurt in round 7, but on his feet, and fighting back when Russell waved it off.  Mile High Mike proved in his rematch with Rios that he could come back from being hurt.  Had he been able to notch that first win, maybe it would have been him being paid millions to lose to Pacquiao, instead of being potentially permanently destroyed by Provodnikov... for much less money.
 
John Molina vs. Antonio De Marco
Molina froze and forced referee Jack Reiss's hand, yet it was only 61 seconds into the bout, when Reiss called it off.  Had Reiss allowed Molina to continue, his natural ability as a strong finisher, capable of late-fight rallies would have come into play. 

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HEAVYWEIGHTS

HEAVYWEIGHTS

Make no mistake, heavyweights nowadays are sloppy.  They are missing key fundamentals.  They punch wide, seemingly all have questionable chins (except maybe Mike Perez, and Arreola), and frequently gas out later in fights.  Some of this is not their fault.  Most heavyweights nowadays did not take up the sport at age 7 like the old days.  Boxing, having long been deposed as a mainstream sport is not on the radar of most children as a viable sporting option.  Most of them pick it up later in life, after failure in another sport, such as basketball or football.  many times, the fighter in question has not started fighting until they are well into their 20s.

 The other problem is lack of trainer discipline.  Indeed, even in some cultures besides USA, fighters are getting sloppier.  There is also the aspect of not having to make weight, meaning many fighters show up in less than perfect shape, which affects what styles they are capable of using.  Even some of the most decorated amateur stars look less fluid than those of yesteryear.  While this new crop of heavyweights may be missing some of the well-trained movements, the recent battles of Tyson Fury, Amir Mansour vs. Steve Cunningham, and pretty much every fight involving Dereck Chisora and Cris Arreola let us know that this may be a blessing in disguise.

The more perfect Wladimir and Vitali were getting, the more boring their fights were becoming.  People marvel at the clinical work of men like Roy, Jones. Floyd Mayweather and Pernell Whittaker, but rarely were their fights scintillating.  These new sloppy heavyweights are providing wars, and Arreola-Stiverne is sure to deliver much more action than your average Klitschko defense as of late.  The sloppiness leads to the abandonment of jab, as well as dirty fighting, and clinchfests... so not all about it is good.  More often than not, however, as long as their is heart and power, we will still get our slugfests and high-light reel knockouts.  Even seasoned Cuban amateurs like Luis Ortiz and Mike Perez are not taking long to adjust to the bomb-throwing of today's pros.

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NETWORKS HURTING MORE THAN PROMOTERS

NETWORKS HURTING MORE THAN PROMOTERS

The shake-up of networks and promoters have created a wall of match-ups that are suddenly not happening.  For many years I lectured MMA fans that Dana White's monopoly was not good for that sport, and eventually it would create an equal opponent, except fights between promoters would never get made.  Well, all these years late, there are many small timers, and other big games have come and gone, but Dana White still stands atop the MMA world, with very few big fights gone unmade.  However, boxing has gotten so polarized, that the networks and managers are now the greater fear than even the promoters.

 We can see no promotional issue with Kovalev-Stevenson, however, once Al Haymon (a man legendary for sparing his fighters tough assignments) signed Adonis Stevenson, and moved him to Showtime, pretty much means Kovalev is off the table.  Even if Main Events and Yvon Michel can come to terms, HBO and Showtime would have to relinquish one of these men.  Fat chance.  We will now see Stevenson making big money to fight Pascal and the Hopkins-Shumenov winner.  He will likely will take a big money fight with Andre Ward, and lose his title that way.  Ward will then be saddled with the task of Kovalev, if someone hasn't already upset that plan in any way.  

Kovalev will probably take on the task of facing the fighters left behind by this network division: Despaigne, Oosthuizen, Brahmer, Maccarinelli, etc will all be dug up and shoved towards the Russian's deadly fists.  Sergei may have seen his first adversity in the ring last Saturday against Cedric Agnew, but it says something as to how dominant he has been lately, that it was still during a shutout performance.  Kovalev was hit low and cut over both eyes from headbutts.  However, Agnew had no intention of winning, and he still could not get out of the 7th round.  In the process, he was felled twice, to body and head, by jabs!  That is how hard this man hits.  

Stevenson may actually have superior offense, and even be able to match Kovalev's power.  Kovalev has a Froch-like gait and movement, with superior footwork.  Even as Agnew made his rare pushes forward with offense, the Russian was able to move back with surprising quickness. 

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APRIL BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 2

APRIL BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 2

Shawn Porter vs. Paul Malignaggi
One of the few boxing (not slugging) matches that I am really looking forward to.  Styles make fights, and while Porter had the right style for slower men like Diaz, and southpaws like Alexander, can he find a way to win, when he does not have the speed edge?  Will Malignaggi be able to adjust if Porter is boxing well early?  Will this fight even come off, given the fast turnaround required for mandatory Kell Brook?  I think it will happen (barring injury), and I look for Malignaggi to win a close MD in a boxing match that opens up late.
 
Peter Quillin vs. Lucas Koneczy
When everyone is already talking Quillin vs. Jacobs, it lets you know just how little we expect from Koneczy.  Quillin has been spoon fed the lower rungs of the middleweight division (and even fringe contenders at junior middle) throughout his brief title reign at 160, but that is not exactly his fault.  Golden Boy has very little to offer at 160, besides fellow Brooklynite Jacobs.  Basically, they had to kill time without threatening him too much, while Jacobs rebuilt after his comeback.  Koneczy is another safe task.  Quillin by late round TKO, after winning every round.
 
Wladimir Klitschko vs. Alex Leapai
Klitschko actually has real contenders to his throne now: Wilder, Stiverne, the winner of Fury-Chisora, etc.  He may have to wait for them to eliminate each other, but these mandatories against men like Leapai (who rightly earned a ranking with his win over overrated Boystov) and Pulev may take him a year or more to get through. 
 
Anthony Mundine vs. Joshua Clottey

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APRIL BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 1

APRIL BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 1

Timothy Bradley vs. Manny Pacquiao 2
This is the big one... lots of opinions... lots of possibilities.  How much of Pacquiao is left?  Has he recaptured the killer instinct?  Is Bradley at his peak?  Will he be more dangerous after the 2013 he had?  Will the judges try too hard to right a wrong by giving Pacquiao undeserved rounds?  This is a hard one to pick for me, but as there is every reason to think that Bradley will be better, and Pacquiao will be worse, I should pick Bradley.  There is also every reason for Arum to be stalling, as he is running out of opponents, and seems to not want to risk anyone against Provodnikov.  A trilogy is what he will go for.  Pacquiao by controversial decision, in a B+ action fight.
 
 
Beibut Shumenov vs. Bernard Hopkins
A unification is the only way Shumenov reenters the conversation.  It is also the only way Hopkins gets to lay claim to be more of a champion that killer Kovalev, or linear champ Stevenson.  The HBO/Showtime shutdown stops the unification of these, unless Stevenson jumps ship with Haymon, and Main Events refuses to play the game with Kovalev.  Either way, Shumenov is remarkably inexperienced for a several years pro... even if he is likely peaking.  he also fights in the perfect style for Hopkins.  Unless he gets old in one night, which at 49 is always a possibility, look for Hopkins to win a wide UD, in a fight about as exciting as the Murat match was... which was decent.
 
 
Raymundo Beltran vs. Roman Martinez
Beltran should have been the one anointed to lose his WBO belt to Terrance Crawford, but now it looks like he will have to win another match to earn that fight as a challenger.  Beltran beat Burns, only to be screwed with a draw.  Crawford beat Burns so wide they could not take it from him, and now Martinez has to rebound from his loss to Garcia

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GARCIA - HERRERA RECAP

GARCIA - HERRERA RECAP

Let's start with the reality... nobody looks good against Mauricio Herrera.  He did not fight like a fighter who knew he was going against a favored, iron-chinned champion in his backyard, for his title.  The Californian fought just hard enough to lose a close one.  I had it a draw, and would not have been upset either way, but you have to know the odds you are up against, and fight a more dominating style.  Perhaps a consolation title shot is in order against Peterson.  Herrera has certainly earned it, and it looks as if he may have scared Danny Garcia up a division anyway.  There is no way they are risking a rematch, even if Danny Garcia does stay at 140lbs.
 
While Juanma Lopez breathed new life in his career, and is in a division full of belts he can win, his career as a serious threat is still over.  He cannot take a shot anymore, and is only in the game because he can still deliver one.  Hence the jump to Golden Boy, where he won't run into any of the 126lb killers at Top Rank.  Mendez is ripe for the plucking, or maybe a venture into Japan, or a bout with a rising Abner Mares.  For De Leon, he still has fight left, but I would not take on Juanma again.
 
I also do not disagree with Luis Pabon's stoppage.  I am usually the first to say nearly every stoppage is early.. but the knockdown of Ponce was drastically harder than the one of Lopez, and he fell without much of a punch, seconds later.  Then he attempted to cover up, and was still nailed with the majority of the shots Juanma threw.  Yes, he threw back, but a fighter with Deleon's heart always will, with or without legs.  The criteria for stopping a fight is if a fighter can no longer defend himself effectively, and Ponce could not.

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MY FAVORITE UPPERCUTS

MY FAVORITE UPPERCUTS

It is one of the most important punches in boxing... yet often goes unnoticed.  Nary a combination that lasts more than 4 punches can or should be without one.  It is also responsible for some of the best highlight-reel KO's in the sport.  Yet, when was the last time the uppercut was listed as a fighter's best punch?  When was the last time a trainer mentioned it as part of a game-plan?  It happens all too rarely.  Here are a few of my favorite uppercut-related KO's.
 
Buster Douglas KO10 Mike Tyson
I know the fight did not technically end via the uppercut, and the dominance was more the result of the jab than any other punch, but the uppercut was the punch that Tyson used to nearly turn the fight around... with a knockdown in round 8.  It was also the punch that spelled doom for Tyson, two rounds later.  Douglas followed a flurry of pawing jabs, with a huge uppercut.  A brief combo later, and Tyson was down and out.  However, if any fight showed what an effective punch this could be for fighters of any height, this was it.  Tyson could also be on this list for his KO wins over Ribalta, Thomas, Ferguson, or Bruno... all wins helped in a big way by the uppercut.
 
Michael Carbajal KO7 Muangchai Kittikasem
It wouldn't be his biggest win, or even his biggest 7th round KO (Gonzalez), but when he repeatedly decked the Thai fighter to lift his IBF Junior Flyweight title, it was usually with the decisive blow being the left uppercut.  This was a previously unsung punch from right-handed fighters.  Carbajal was a rare huge puncher for the lighter weights, and could certainly do it with either hand.  It was this fight that let everyone know, however, that he could also do it from any angle.
 
Jeremy Williams KO1 Arthur Weathers
Ok, this fight is not well known, at least not for the punch that landed.  It was 10 second bout, with Williams rebounding from his loss to Larry Donald, in front of his hometown fans.  Williams problem was always his own chin, as well as dedication.  It was never his power.

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REVISIONIST HISTORIAN

REVISIONIST HISTORIAN

Corruption in boxing is there for one basic reason.. it works.  It is actually deeper than that in the ego-driven business world.  Control, greed, money, etc.  The shark-like atmosphere, and types of people drawn into such a tough business, etc. are all factors.. but lousy decisions and/or quick stoppages are often forgotten, while the result is remembered.  There are exceptions, such as Lewis-Holyfield 1, Chavez-Taylor 1, and Froch Groves 1.  In those cases, the controversy is more famous than the result, so the bad and/or corrupt decisions made by officials backfired.  However, in every case, a rematch was called for, meaning the true guilty (or suspected) parties made a lot of money on the controversy.

 In either sense, corruption works.  It does not drive away as many fans as it ultimately attracts, because controversy creates passion, and drama, which gets normally elitist print and media outlets to write about a sport they love to hate.  It actually creates attention.  Was Bradley-Pacquiao a match that needed to be fought a second time, even given what has happened to each man since?  Not likely.  There are, however, a few fights where controversy did not exist as a result of officials or promoters.  namely, the losing fighter and/or a few writers decided there was a controversy, and eventually we all bought it.  Here are 3 fights that actually were quite simple, yet were made complex by complaining, and marketing spin techniques.

Pacquiao-Marquez 1-3.
These were all close, legit wins for Pacquiao.  In the moment, few, if anyone outside of the Marquez camp thought these were lousy decisions, but Marquez has made this part of his modus operandi.  He also lost close decisions (still legit) to Chris John and Freddie Norwood. 

Hopkins-Calzaghe
Because Calzaghe retired unbeaten, and Hopkins has gone on to make even more history, people often point to this fight as the only one he may have lost.  actually, the only controversy in most people's eyes in the moment was the scorecard that found a way to have Hopkins ahead. 

Hagler-Leonard

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

Is it me, or is Mauricio Herrera a bad style match-up for Danny Garcia?  I know this should be an easy win for Garcia, but Herrera has good boxing skills, great stamina, and an iron chin.  Seems like Garcia would have picked a better foil for his Puerto Rico homecoming.
 
Speaking of Garcia's homecoming, aren't fighters most vulnerable when they return home for a stay-busy defense after one of their biggest wins?  From Nunn taking on Toney, to Martinez's near miss over Martin Murray... it seems that a letdown is almost always expected.  Squeeze in the hometown defense early on against optional opponents who offer nothing.  Don't try to do it against a spoiler, after you've been up for too many tough fights in a row.
 
Speaking of many tough fights in a row... I am not exactly excited by the potential opponents at 168 for Andre Ward, but if anyone has earned a break, it is he.  Oosthuizen is inactive, troubled, and not scintillating.  Gonzales is in his own camp.  Groves and Froch need each other.  Ditto Steiglitz and Abraham.  Hell... ditto Anthony Dirrell and Bika.  Taylor and Andre Dirrell don't seem interested in fighting, Pavlik is retired, Periban has been exposed twice, and Jack just got KO'd in 1 round.  Either Ward moves up, or a 160-lber moves up for him.  The winner of GGG-Chavez would be his natural next opponent, but there is no guarantee that fight would even come off.  In the meantime, Ward will either have to kill time, or take on a softie.  After the 2009-2012 he had, however, who cares?

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CANELO VS. ANGULO RECAP

CANELO VS. ANGULO RECAP

Ok, I will not be the first to say it, but Angulo looked slow, ponderous, and asleep.  Granted he is sometimes a slow starter, but there was always a crispness to his shots.  However, if one had to guess, 3 or 4 rounds in, which of the two had trouble making 154, nobody would have guessed Canelo.  His punches looked crisp, hard, and his movement and defense were very impressive.  This confirmed what many people had expected... Angulo was chosen to make Alvarez look good.

 Canelo has long had overrated power, and underrated defense.  The way he made Trout miss was particularly impressive, yet his own offense suffered, and in a fairly run state (unlike Texas), Canelo may have even been in trouble on the scorecards in that fight.  He needed a foil that would allow him to be the slick boxer.  To recapture the moves, and public's imagination, after being outboxed by Floyd Mayweather.  Angulo was that perfect dance partner, but no one expected the result to be this one-sided, round after round.  

Angulo barely started to wake up when Joe Cortez waved it off after one uppercut in round 10.  That marks the 5th consecutive stoppage win that Canelo has achieved via early referee trigger.  Lopez, Gomez, Cintron, and Rhodes also watched a referee wave their hands while clearly still alert.  This could be because of the loud thud with which Alvarez lands his shots, or because of how far these men were behind, or because of Golden Boy hinting to the refs to protect their investment.  Either way, he has not had a legit KO over a legit fighter since his one-punch crushing of Carlos Baldomir, which now appears to be the exception, rather than the rule.

 If he moves up to 160lbs, the KOs will need even more help.  Therefore, he needs to win via his defense and movement, which are underrated.  However, this fight tells us nothing about them.  Yes, he was dominant.  Yes, he was hardly touched. 

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WBC Super Bantamweight World Title Challenger Cristian Mijares Pre-Fight Interview

WBC Super Bantamweight World Title Challenger Cristian Mijares Pre-Fight Interview

We met up with Christian Minjares during his training camp as he prepares to challenge the WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion, Leo Santa Cruz.  Leo Santa Cruz vs. Cristian Mijares is the co-feature on the Canelo vs. Angulo card this Saturday Night March 8th, at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Mijares, a 32-year old and former three-time World Champion Southpaw is considered to be one of Mexico’s toughest fighters.  He holds a record of (49-7-2, 24 KO) and is 14-1 in his last 15 fights.  His only defeat came in a world title fight, a controversial split decision against Victor Terrazas for the vacant WBC Super Bantamweight World Title.

World Champion Leo "Terremoto" Santa Cruz is undefeated, 26-0, with 15 knockouts. Originally from Michoacán, Mexico, he now lives and trains in Los Angeles, CA.  Santa Cruz is recognized as one of the highest volume punchers in boxing today.  After knocking out the Super Bantamweight World Champion Victor Terrazas in August 2013, he now faces mandatory challenger Christian Minjares.

SA:  Cristian, your  loss against Victor Terrazas for the vacant WBC Super Bantamweight Title last year ended with a controversial split decision. What did you learn from this experience?

Cristian Mijares: I learned a lot from this. I believe that the judge’s decision taught me to be more active and focused in my next fight. Don’t leave it up to the judges, if there is a way to finish the fight it’s better to do it that way because as we saw in this fight, we were robbed and that’s not right.  We learned a great deal, therefore we won through this defeat. The people who did not believe in me discovered that Cristian Mijares is capable and will become a world champion again.

SA: What do you think is going to happen with your upcoming title fight against Leo Santa Cruz?

Cristian Mijares: It is going to be a very difficult fight. He is a very strong fighter, he is champion.  But my attitude is 100% with concentration and desire.  If God permits I will be world champion again on March 8th. I will win this fight! 

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MARCH BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 2

MARCH BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 2

Danny Garcia vs. Mauricio Herrera
Herrera has been a tough customer in the d140lb division for many years, even having a win over red-hot Ruslan Provodnikov.  Durable, and a slick boxer, he is a style that Garcia has not yet faced.  Two of the best chins in boxing are not likely to yield a stoppage... add to that the underrated defensive skills of both men.  However, Herrera has needed judges help in a few close ones, and he will not have that here.  Besides, Mauricio does one thing very well, Garcia does everything well.  Garcia by wide UD.
 
Deontay Wilder vs. Malik Scott
I am glad Scott gets another top contender, after his screw job loss to Chisora.  With how slowly his career progressed at first, he ahs no time to waste.  I am very glad Wilder is stepping up to  a fighter that should be undefeated.  However, the perceived weakness of Wilder's chin and stamina will not be tested here.  He gets outboxed, until he lands big, and even then, that is only if Malik is not shell shocked.  Wilder by TKO, probably in round 5 or 6.
 
Sergei Kovalev vs. Cedric Agnew
I am glad Kovalev has so captivated the public, that even a mismatch like this is an HBO headliner.  With Adonis' recent signing with Al Haymon, the Canadian titlist is being maneuvered away from the dangerous Russian, and towards easier fights with Hopkins, Froch, and the like.  Therefore, Kovalev has to make his own name, which he ahs done with no problems, thus far.  Not enough is known about Agnew, except that even if he has the skills to beat Sergei, he does not have the experience.  This fight goes like all the others.  Kovalev by KO inside of 4 rounds.
 
Juanma Lopez vs. Ponce DeLeon 2

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MARCH BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 1

MARCH BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 1

JC Chavez Jr vs. Brian Vera
Chavez Jr, like his father, wins a lot of dubious decisions.  Unlike his father, however, he seems content to fight immediate rematches, and always does better in them.  This should be no exception.  Vera may be motivated by the hometown crowd, but the judges and referee will be in Chavez' back pocket like always.  As the Andy Lee fight showed, Vera is rarely capable of being difficult two fights in a row, especially against a durable opponent.  It will be close again, but unlike the highway robbery that took place before, Chavez will win an undisputed 2-3 point decision.
 
Vasyl Lomchencko vs. Orlando Salido
This is a very difficult fight to call.  The odds-makers are buying into Lomachencko, hook, line, an d sinker.  However, one of the few guarantees in boxing, is that there are no guarantees fighting Salido.  Even if the Ukranian star is out-boxing Salido cleanly, he will likely not be able to stop him early, and Orlando will keep coming.  Will Vasyl be ready for that?  Too tough to call.  Both men are deadly bodypunchers, and a strong mind will overcome the Mexican's charges (Mikey Garcia for example).  I think win or lose, he will grow more in this fight than 100 of his amateur wins.  Lomachencko by tougher than expected UD.
 
Canelo Alvarez vs. Alfredo Angulo
Although this is not the fight that fans wanted Canelo to take, post-Mayweather, it is not an easy one.  Canelo has a 3 PPV fight schedule this year.  That means he needs to win the first two, so, they will not be calling out Martinez, Lara, or anyone else who is likely to beat him.  Angulo makes everyone fight going backwards, even men who slug in every other match.  This is the fight to showcase Angulo's toughness, and Canelo's boxing skills, and it is also the style against which Canelo shines the most.  Canelo by decision or late round TKO, after early fireworks make room for a boxing clinic.

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BOXCINO EXPOSURE

BOXCINO EXPOSURE

I remember being 21 years old and watching the first Boxcino tournament.  It is now remembered as the tourney that launched Acelino Freitas.  It is also the very same tournament that ruined his younger brother Luiz.  Putting in a young fighter with other young tough guys is not done nearly enough (note: there are NO Al Haymon fighters in Boxcino).  However, it does not come without risks.
 
After Luiz Freitas thoroughly out-boxed Juan Gerardo Cabrera, only to have the tough Argentine walk down his tough shots, and stop him late, the young Freitas never recovered.  Cabrera would go on to be wiped out in 2 rounds by Naseem Hamed.  Just looking at the prospects in the lightweight division, no one is jumping out yet as the big name, and most have losses already.  This is where the stars of tomorrow should come from.  We want to see battle tested fighters, who are amazing, yet vulnerable.
 
Boxcino is not the only place this is happening.  For all of his trash talking, Hank Lundy seems to always seek out dangerous opponents, and has not been trying to pad a record.  This is why he is routinely rewarded with TV exposure.  Amir Khan may have some embarrassing losses on his record, but it was a result of his being matched tough throughout his career.  In fact, only recently has he stepped back a bit in competition, and he is no better or worse in that case.  Some guys really need the risk of losing to bring out the winner within.  My only question is why is this an ESPN tournament, and not the network TV show.

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BOXING IS A BUSINESS

BOXING IS A BUSINESS

In the wake of the recent Floyd Mayweather poll debacle, its time to define what was really taking place there.  For those not in the know, Floyd Mayweather put out a recent poll question asking whom he should fight next.  The move was made to curb the backlash over the perceived opponent being the undeserving Amir Khan.  Khan won some polls, lost others, and now there is controversy that is was all a hoax.  Mayweather has made a career of doing things his own way, and being very successful at it.  However, this move may have backfired a bit.
 
Bob Arum is from the old guard... fighters are indentured servants to him, and they should do their jobs, and fight.  The trouble with this, is with the recent inventions of social media, and the very public way in which all business is done, nowadays, is that the fans and fighters are now privy to details that would not have otherwise been made public.  This does not mean that deals are not still done in silence.
 
Al Haymon has managed to make his entire presence a huge one, from a virtually invisible platform.  The downside to everyone knowing your business is they see all the inner workings, and can create doubt and bad PR for you.  The upside is that you have the chance to adjust, relate, and have instant feedback from the market you are trying to get dollars from.  The younger promotional outlets, rather than be frustrated by this change, are attempting to break it.  Yet, to do so, opens them up to ridicule, and an agenda that does not care about their bottom line.
 
Fight fans have every right to not care about anyone's individual pocketbook.  This is especially true of promoters, who are often rich men before they enter boxing, and their insistence on making fights the public don't want is met with disdain. 
 

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INTERVIEW WITH DEON ELAM

INTERVIEW WITH DEON ELAM

Convicted Artist Lead Writer Chris Strait spoke with Deon "The Natural" Elam, a Los Angeles cruiserweight who appeared on the Contender TV series.  That was many years ago, and after many layoffs due to personal and managerial issues, he finally has his team complete, and is ready to make a run in the 200lb division.  Elam fights in a 6-rounder in the February 6 card at Florentine Gardens in Hollywood.
 
CS: Where are you from originally?
 
Deon Elam: I was born in South Central Los Angeles, but I grew up and still live in the San Fernando Valley.
 
CS: How did you get into boxing?
 
Deon Elam: I had a friend who boxed, and we were watching fights one day, and he asked me to come work and spar with him in the gym.  That started it.. I just kept on going every day after that.
 
CS: And what was your amateur record/accomplishments?

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HOMETOWN FIGHTS WE HAVE LOST

HOMETOWN FIGHTS WE HAVE LOST

After Victor Ortiz lost his 3rd straight fight, and not exactly in heroic fashion, it would appear the career of the Kansas-born Californian is at an end.  This gets even sadder when you consider that the small town of Garden City, Kansas is also saying good bye to the serious career of it's other native son, Brandon Rios.  Both men have made a lot of noise in boxing for the last several years, but Rios was out-boxed by Abril, Alvarado, and Pacquiao, and seems to be through as a serious player.  Ortiz followed up a fight of the year candidate, and a WBC Welterweight title-winning effort against Andre Berto, with three straight stoppage losses.
 
Don't get me wrong, Rios made a ton of money, and his lone victory in recent years was a fight-of-the-year match, as well.  Ortiz also cashed-in like no other frequent loser in boxing history, with Mayweather and 'Dancing with the Stars'.  Yet, it appears these two exciting fighters will never meet in the ring.  Sad really, as boxing often relies on the marketing of the big city audience: LA, NYC, and Vegas... but to rely on it when it is not necessary is foolish, and this is a big fight for a small region, that every fight fan would have wanted.  We have also lost a couple of other similar fights.. all because of the familiar enemy of boxing politics.  Rios is Top Rank, while Ortiz is Golden Boy... need I say more?
 
Vernon Forrest and Paul Williams were from towns 30 minutes apart from each other, and for a time, they were the number 1 and 2 junior middleweights in the world.  Style-wise, they would have made for a very intriguing match-up, and could have sold out any venue in the Augusta area.  Yet, this fight never happened, and now due to Williams paralysis, and Forrest's death, it never will.  Why?  Because Al Haymon had a policy of not matching his fighters together.  He has relaxed that a bit, now that he manages so many.  However, he should not be forgiven so soon for costing those men, and the fans, dearly with such an egomaniacal stance.

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Courage Tshabalala Interview

Courage Tshabalala Interview

ConvictedArtist.com Lead Writer Chris Strait spoke with former heavyweight contender Courage Tshabalala, whose journey as a fighter took him from South Africa to headlining TV cards in the USA.  For the last decade and a half, he has been training his own fighters, after learning from many of the great trainers.

CS: Where did you grow up, and what led you into boxing?

Courage Tshabalala: I am from Johannesburg, and I was not a kid who could naturally fight, so I got picked on.  I wanted to learn to fight, and many of my cousins fought, so I went into boxing.  (His cousin Ginger Tshabalala was a world ranked light heavyweight, until he was murdered in 1995).

CS: Many fighters come to the USA from South Africa, and they keep going back and forth, like Corrie Sanders, Isaac Hlatswayo, Thomas Oosthuizen, etc.  but you are one of the few who stayed, and the whole second half of your career was here.  Why was that?

Courage Tshabalala: Well, I was in Lou Duva's camp, and there were so many great fighters.. I was working with Ray Mercer, Roy Jones, Al Cole, it just made sense to stay here.. plus every time I would go home, I would gain 20 lbs (laughs).  Many of the African fighters that come here are very strong, but their technique and skill level is just not the same.  There are exceptions like Azumah Nelson, Brian Mitchell, but mostly it is much better here.

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Zachary Wohlman Interview: "There's no substitute for experience in this sport, prize fighting is no joke!"

Zachary Wohlman Interview:

ConvictedArtist.com Lead Writer Chris Strait spoke with young prospect Zachary Wohlman to discuss how his young career has progressed since we last spoke with him, and what he has learned thus far in boxing.

CS: You suffered your first defeat since we last spoke to you.  What happened that night, from your perspective?  
 
ZACHARY WOHLMAN: That was over a year ago. In retrospect I think I got too much success (press, attention, whatever) too quickly. I wasn't behaving like a fighter anymore outside of the gym. Eric and Freddie told me that I wasn't ready to fight on short notice, but I didn't listen. Sure enough, by the third round I had no gas in the tank. I used to make all kinds of excuses about this fight, but I don't anymore. I'm human like any other fighter. I train hard and act accordingly now.

CS: I was in the crowd that night, and spoke to Paulie Malignaggi minutes after (whom you have described as being like a big brother to you).  He said he was more concerned about how you would mentally handle a first loss, saying that the next few days after a first defeat are the toughest on a fighter.  Was that your experience with it?

ZACHARY WOHLMAN: Well... I had my head cracked open from a head butt the fight before that (38 stitches). Took my first loss, then I had my jaw broken in the gym (mouth wired shut for 6 weeks). So more like a tough few months, opposed to a tough few days.  As far as the night of the loss, I'll never forget that. Paulie had tears in eyes, he said, "You gotta have a short memory in this game, you gotta train hard and you can come back from this." Since then I've come back strong which helps the pain subside. But I don't forget what happened.  Sh*t like that makes a man out of you.

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RETURN OF THE AMERICAN HEAVYWEIGHT

RETURN OF THE AMERICAN HEAVYWEIGHT

Long have we wondered what the heavyweight division would be like post-Klitschko.  Much in the same way we have wondered about the post-Mayweather pay-per-view landscape.  Both questions have often been asked with a sense of doom, as if boxing could not recover from the loss of these entities.  However, very soon, we may indeed get our answer to both questions.  While Mayweather's exit will certainly leave boxing's biggest PPV attraction out of the equation, boxing always recovers.
 
The heavyweight division, however, has only been in bad shape depending on your geographic perspective.  Even that may be open to question, as the reality of a Klitschko retirement looms.  The elder Klitschko, Vitali, has not only surrendered his WBC belt, and mandatory obligation, he is calling for elections to take place one year earlier.  This could potentially put him in the ultimate seat of power in Ukranian politics by this time next year.  Wladimir's mandatories are actually getting less interesting, if that were possible, as the loud-talking, but not oft-fighting British heavyweights vie for the next big money fight.
 
The Americans are by no means left out in this equation.  Between Olympians Dominic Breazeale and Deontay Wilder sporting unbeaten records, with all wins by knockout, and the recent performance of Bryant Jennings on HBO, the USA has many players in the Heavyweight discussion.  Perennial favorites like Arreola and Thompson may be falling short of the Klitschko line (or even a bit under it), yet Arreola always makes it exciting, and Thompson keeps reinventing himself.

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FEBRUARY BOXING PREDICTIONS

FEBRUARY BOXING PREDICTIONS

This is a very light month for big fights.  In fact, although many young prospects are fighting in February, the biggest fight was Mares-Gonzalez 2.  In the wake of that cancellation, it seems not many important matchups are taking place.  Some of this has to do with January and March being bigger than usual months, but the fights that are coming off in February deserve at least a bit of our attention.
 
Gennady Golovkin vs. Osumanu Adama
Yet another GGG mismatch has been scheduled, and until Golovkin can get Martinez, Sturm, or Quillin in the ring (all very unlikely scenarios) this will continue through no fault of his own.  Daniel Geale, Andy Lee and Martin Murray may provide better tests at 160, but it looks like a move up in weight may be the only way GGG finds opponents who can beat him.  Adama is tough, but little else, and Golovkin's last appearance in Monte Carlo let everyone know just how far "tough" gets you with him.  GGG by 4th round KO.
 
Daniel Geale vs. Garth Wood
Geale is coming back, while Wood is still living off his KO win over Mundine.  That took place two years ago, and Geale has beaten Mundine twice (even if he only got the decision once).  Geale is also being mentioned as a future GGG opponent, and would probably style-wise give the Kazakh destroyer the toughest fight he's had yet.  Wood should provide resistance, and a chin check, but those are tests Geale passes with no difficulty, especially when he is as motivated as he is now.  Geale by wide UD.
 
Miguel Vasquez vs. Denis Shafikov
This fights makes the list simply because things keep getting interesting around Miguel Vasquez.

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EXCUSES NOT EVEN NEEDED ANYMORE??

EXCUSES NOT EVEN NEEDED ANYMORE??

Lucien Bute landed a whopping six left hooks to Jean Pascal's right side.  That is how far the Romanian-Canadian has slipped.  I am not sure if it was the layoff, Pascal's style and newfound ring generalship, the fallout from the Froch loss, or a simply matter of aging, but Bute was not himself.  Hats fully off to Pascal for getting the job done.  He did not look a world beater by any stretch, but his ring generalship, something that was previously inconsistent at best, was fully in-force on January 18.
 
Bute was the fighter who, not so long ago, was finishing off nearly every opponent with hard lefts to the body.  He barely tried to throw any Saturday night, seeming clearly fearful of the right hands that were coming back his way from Pascal.  Pascal has not exactly shone in front of the Canadian crowds with the regularity that Bute did, hence his having a bit less of the crowd cheering for him.  If he thinks that will end here, he is sorely mistaken... he will not even likely have the lion's share of Haitian Canadian fans if he tries to reclaim the linear Light Heavyweight championship.
 
Pascal may genuinely be proud of his Haitian compatriot, but showing brotherly love makes fans question whether he is truly interested in a risky fight with Adonis Stevenson.  Maybe he simply wants to enjoy this victory before he thinks about such a tough assignment.  That is his excuse, although he should have at least acknowledged that he is looking to face Adonis in an all-Canada showdown.  This would be two Haitians... former champ vs. current champ... for what would amount to the biggest fight in Canadian history.  Stevenson, however, has no excuse for why he is not calling out Pascal.

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BRONER'S BEST MOVE

BRONER'S BEST MOVE

It is only two weeks into January, and already the boxing world is jockeying for position around the major attractions in the sport.  Mayweather-Khan has been whispered about for months, but never become official.  Pacquiao seems to have his choices narrowed down to Bradley and Provodnikov, which pretty much means Bradley.  Provodkinov would need to abandon his trainer and gym.. something unlikely to happen.
 
Marcos Maidana is a hot commodity, and has certainly posted the better resume recently in terms of a Mayweather sweepstakes.  The other hot properties in boxing that are on the rise: Golovkin, Stevenson, Kovalev, and Mikey Garcia seem to be continuing the pattern of heavier activity, in lieu of big matches.  However, most of these decisions, while frustrating to many boxing fans, can be understood from a business sense.  The direction Adrien Broner wants to head, however, does not have an ounce of sense to it.  The Problem wants to find a solution to his most recent defeat, with an immediate rematch.  The problems with this are numerous:
 
First, He lost a wide decision.  This was not a close fight.. therefore in no way does it warrant a rematch except in the sense that it was an upset.  There was also nothing controversial about the fight that would lead anyone to believe an unfair advantage had been had.  Secondly, Broner is too small to be a welterweight.  He is not developed enough, at least not yet, and he has not done what big brother Floyd did when he moved up in weight and found his power less effective.

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

Whoever wins tonight between Mendez and Barthelemy, enjoy it, as a one-sided loss is in the works against Mikey Garcia for the winner.  Caleb Truax is getting a good amount of ink for a fighter with limited skills, due to fights taking place in Minnesota lately.  I bet Jason Litzau wishes he had waited a bit to take advantage of this.
 
Speaking of waiting, why are we all waiting on Danny Garcia to find a dance partner?  Is he going to unify against Jean-Peterson?  Is he going to move up to face Maliganggi, Maidana, or Porter?  I understand waiting for some of these fights to happen may have been a necessity, but Garcia is not yet ready to be reduced to a twice a year phenomenon.  He needs to stay busy.
 
Speaking of busy, I bet Golovkin will have to settle for that schedule again in 2014.  HBO has the champ at 168 and 175, but GGG is closer to a junior middle than he is to super middle.  The rest of 160 lb division is either running scared or promotionally unavailable.  Don't think Sturm will ever fight GGG, nor will Quillin.  Chavez Jr wouldn't touch him with borrowed money.  Ward may expose GGG in a way that kills his marketability, much like they are struggling now with Matthysse.  So, look for maybe Martin Murray to get a shot, while GGG's other 2-3 opponents will be guys we haven't heard of.  Cotto-Martinez may provide false hope, but will likely lead to retirement for at least one, if not both of them.
 
Speaking of retirement, Juan Manuel Marquez needs to go.  He is a great fighter who got a much deserved win over Manny Pacquiao, but the Timothy Bradley loss was more than justified, and he is losing fans by pretending he was robbed.  He may have whined his way into all those Pacquiao fights, but it is not working now.  Bradley will only beat him more convincingly next time, and any opponent he faces will probably insist on drug testing that he is not willing to undergo.  There is nothing left to prove with Pacquiao, either.  Just retire.

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MAYWEATHER ON TOP??

MAYWEATHER ON TOP??

It looks like both Yahoo Sports and ESPN have picked Floyd Mayweather as their fighter of the year.  Apparently, I have different criteria than they are working with.  This seems a bizarre choice.  A choice rather, that people who do not choose to cover the nooks and crannies of boxing would come up with.  Its easy to simply name the best fighter on the planet fighter of the year.  However, such an analysis is obviously void of any true analysis.  Let's look at a few problems with this:
 
He fought twice
Yes, the twice a year schedule is something we have gotten used to, however, Floyd typically only fights once... his fights amounting to a super bowl-like atmosphere that has not been seen in boxing since the 1930s, when the heavyweight title seemed to only be up for grabs once a year, around July.  It may be easy to anoint Floyd because he actually chose to fight twice a year, but several top fighters fought 3-4 times, three of them went 4-0-4Ko's at the championship level.  This level of activity is not enough to push Floyd ahead.  We need special results, in addition to activity, which he did not provide.  This leads to point number 2.
 
He did exactly what was expected
Let us not forget that Canelo and Guerrero were built up in our own minds.  They were and still are good fighters, but were never a match style-wise for Floyd.  I do not blame Golden Boy and TMT for building them up.  The combination of a style that would bother Mayweather, and a fighter who has earned his way there is hard to find.  Add that to the cold war existing between promoters, and it becomes a near-impossibility.  However, he was expected to win a 9-3 decision in both cases, and that's exactly what he did, controlling even the rounds he lost.
 
Too many other fighters had better years
I consider 'fighter of the year' to be something that should also denote a fighter's starting place and finishing place to be drastically different places.  Bradley started the year a pariah, and ended it 2-0 with hall of fame like victories in which he bested tough opponents in completely different ways.  Mikey Garcia started as a contender and ended it a 2 division title belt holder, losing only one round in the process.
 

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JANUARY BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 2

JANUARY BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 2

Lucien Bute vs. Jean Pascal
Finally!  Well, I'll believe it when i see it, but actually this fight is only a big deal because it's been delayed.  It does not promise action, and could be like watching two Aikido masters trying to fight (all-defense).  It all depends on who's more rusty, who has more left, and who wants it more.  Bute suffered a more crushing defeat, but Pascal has been dealing with more injuries.  It's a tough one to call, but I believe the more athletic fighter with more 175lb experience has the edge.  Bute may take an early lead, and his body work could be enough to pull it out, but I think his chin and stamina will never recover from the loss to Froch, and Pascal will turn a slow fight into a fast one, and stop him late.  

Argenis Mendez vs. Rances Barthelemy
Mendez and Barthelemy both seem to confuse judges, but style-wise, it is a bad fight for the champion.  The "loss-win" Rances suffered to Usmanee has seemingly made him a better fighter, and Mendez better be very motivated with a potential Mikey Garcia unification, or else he is looking to lose it.  This may considered a bit of an upset-pick, but I like Barthelemy to outscore Mendez in an entertaining scrap.

Eleider Alvarez vs. Thomas Oosthuizen
Oosthuizen did not exactly scintillate in his HBO debut against Brandon Gonzales.  In fact, he slept-walked through the first half of the fight, unable to adjust until midway through the 5th.  He won the rest of the rounds it seemed, but his counter-punching style is not going to ask for fans to clamor for an Andre Ward match-up.  Alvarez's best opponents were a too-highly ranked Shawn Hawk, and a faded Edison Miranda.  he could not stop either, so he is not likely to threaten Oosthuizen.  It's a tough one to call, as Alvarez is the hometown fighter, being a Colombian based in Montreal, but something tells me we will see a narrow MD for the South African in a less than thrilling co-main.

Jermell Charlo vs. Gabriel Rosado

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JANUARY BOXING PREDICTIONS

JANUARY BOXING PREDICTIONS

I cannot remember the last time January was a good enough month to have two sections for predictions.  However, 2013 was a very tough act to follow, so 2014 seems to be raising its game right out of the gate.  This is a good move for all concerned as these fighters can easily fight 3 or 4 times this year, which is a new refreshing standard for many of the belt holders.

Marco Huck vs. Firat Arslan 2
Huck was very fortunate to get the decision in their first fight, but the 45 year old challenger has only gotten older, while Huck has gotten better.  Add to that the fact the Huck seems to get better in rematches, and you have not only an accurate prediction, but the reason why Povetkin's people will not be giving Huck a rematch for all the rubles in Moscow.  Arslan will make a game stand for a few rounds, until Huck's measured attack breaks him down.  Huck by 10th round TKO in a very good fight.

Mikey Garcia vs. Juan Carlos Burgos
Burgos deserved the win over Martinez, so much like a screwed Rahman, after the controversial loss to Tua, he gets the next shot after the lucky one gets deposed.  In that fight, Rahman did pull off the upset that Tua could not pull off against Lewis.  However, the talent gap and weaknesses are different here.  Even if Garcia is vulnerable to a lucky punch, Burgos is not the fighter to land it.  He can make Garcia look bad for a few rounds as Burgos' counterpunching style is wont to do, but Mikey is unflappable.  He'll break him down, and stop him a bit later.  Garcia by 9th round TKO.

Lamont Peterson vs. Dierry Jean

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147 - TOURNEY

147 - TOURNEY

How exciting is the welterweight division?  Let me count the ways?: It's so exciting that Top Rank and Golden Boy don't even need each other.  They have enough matchups to last them a few years (especially GBP).  Even the understaffed fighter stable at TRP between 140-154 has many interesting matchups: Bradley, Marquez, Pacquiao, Provodnikov, Kirkland and Andrade taking on anyone moving up, and if Mike Jones ever fights again, him too.  For Golden Boy, however, the sky is the limit.  There are at least 8 fighters at 147 alone that make for amazing matchups that are available to them.  In their case, we are not including 140 and 154lbers which make it an even more exciting, if confusing maze.

It's so exciting that if I told you there would be a tournament of the recent losers in the division, it would still be more intriguing than most of what is happening in other weight classes.  Broner, Berto, Judah, Guerrero, Alexander, Soto-Karass, and the loser of Ortiz-Collazo could still provide a lot of excitement.  Between the names I have just rattled off are many who have already come back from losses to right the ship.. and this would certainly provide the platform to do it again.  Collazo and Ortiz is a fight that could eliminate the loser from serious contention, but these are two men I would not be quick to write off for many reasons.  Erislandy Lara has said he can make 147lbs.  Danny Garcia or Lucas Matthysse are sure to move up eventually.  These are also fighters whose promotional ties provide no barrier to these great fights being made.

It is so exciting that the winners don't need to include Pacquiao or Mayweather to command public interest.  The winners, however, and this is Mayweather not withstanding: Mailgnaggi, Maidana, Porter, and Thurman could give us one heck of a 4-man tournament to rpovider a unified champion, and number one contender to Floyd Mayweather.  Let's be honest, though, the two names we are leaving out are Amir Khan and Kell Brook.  Neither of them have done anything at 147;bs to deserve being considered for this honor, and since a fight between the two of them is the biggest fight in the UK currently, there is not excuse why this should not be made.  Mayweather will probably still face Khan next, but if you thought fight fans were not happy with this match before, just wait for the outrage after Broner's upending at the hands of Maidana.  

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THE SOLUTION

THE SOLUTION

Adrien Broner is not Floyd Mayweather  We never thought he was, but with the similarities in style, background, and their close association, the comparisons were natural.  In fact, although Broner has certainly racked up the haters that Floyd enjoys, he was really the answer to most of their complaints.  He was a Floyd style fighter who had power, and defensive liabilities.  These were long the complaints of many Mayweather detractors... that he made for boring fights.  Broner made many mistakes on his way to the top, in what has become yet another light shone upon the holes in Al Haymon's previously thought perfect progression plan.

Broner took on only a few fighters of note, and had difficulty in most of those match-ups.  Like Wilder, Thurman, and others, Broner enjoyed an HBO/Showtime spotlight during a phase of his career that should probably been saved for FOX and ESPN.  Therefore we get more excited by his brilliance than we probably should have, and get more dismissive of him when he shows chinks in the armor.  The Broner machine was becoming so powerful that he skipped his most natural division to avoid being caught by big punchers like Matthysse and Garcia.  Did they know about his chin the whole time?  Was he purposely matched with light-hitting fighters?  I don't really think so.

Number one, Broner was dropped twice and hurt against Maidana, but Maidana was by far the biggest man, and puncher Broner had fought, and he stood up to the shots fairly well, considering.  He recovered when hurt at a pretty impressive rate, and by Chino's own admission, came back to rattle the Argentine.  De Marco is a big punching lightweight, and he could not bother Broner.  I think he has been carefully matched, but as usually happens in that case, you eventually run into someone who fights beyond what any of their previous encounters suggested them capable of.  That is what happened here.

No, after all the bragging and showboating, it was nothing Broner did wrong that led to his loss to Maidana.  It is what Maidana did right.  With trainer Robert Garcia heading for the fallen grace of a Buddy McGirt if he faced yet another loss for one of his fighters, his skills actually shone through.  He made Maidana a better fighter, but not changing his game; instead merely adding fundamentals to an aggressive style.  

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

If Darren Barker really has to retire due to hip replacements backing up on him, his win over Geale is even more extraordinary.  Sturm's reign will likely be a short one if he steps up, or a long one, if he returns to his protected ways in Germany, but this win was very impressive.  I have never been much of a fan, but he handled business, and went against his own nature to facilitate it.  Kudos to Barker for getting up twice, as well, and was even stopped while firing back.
 
Speaking of surprise results, was Rigo the only one who did what was expected on 12/7?  I know Kirkland won in a way he has before, but that fight with Tapia had so many potential outcomes, none could be considered a surprise.  Porter shocked Alexander.  Malignaggi pulled the slight upset.  Unbeaten and skilled Lamar Russ was outhustled by a recently wounded Macklin.  Even Dirrell could not get the title from Bika.  Trout vs. Lara may have had the winner a lot were predicting, but virtually no one thought it would be a rout.  Kudos to Rigo for winning as easily as we all expected.
 
Speaking of Rigo, we will not really know how consistent he is until he faces a busy fighter.  He has stunk it out when others do not make the fight, yet most of the aggressive fighters would likely walk into their own destruction.  He does not have an iron chin, but like Ward and Roy Jones in his early career, Rigo gets hit so rarely, that it does not matter.  If they can turn Lomachencko into a volume puncher, maybe the Cuban will have some competition.

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STILL MAGICAL

STILL MAGICAL

Tarver wins his comeback bout, and Malignaggi gets a big win over Zab Judah.  The two fighters known as magic men are still magical.  Now, Malignaggi did not capture a real belt in this win, yet in a division swimming with 'Money' makers, he has now made his best case to earn even more of it.  In a night of surprises and upsets, this one was probably the most expected of the least expected.  Zab Judah is just not the kind of fighter to trouble Malignaggi... at least not now.
 
Not to take anything away from Paulie's dominant win, but Zab definitely looked as if he had lost a step or two.  Malgnaggi is no spring chicken, but seems to be closer to his prime than Zab.  He out-boxed him, and had superior reflexes throughout.  Judah's power edge never figured in, not only because Paulie has a better chin, but because Judah was not willing to make it messy.  Up next could be a bout with Garcia moving up to 147.  It could also be a rematch with Broner.  It could even be a unification with Shawn Porter.  By themselves, neither man makes a case for a Floyd fight, but if they were to unify belts, a fall showdown with the "Money" Man would not be such a strange event.
 
Porter pulled off an impressive upset by being the first fighter to even attempt, much less succeed at, duplicating the style with which Tim Bradley defeated Devon Alexander.  Once again, one fight short of the big paydays, Devon falls short.  Again, it was to a shorter fighter, with a good jab, bull-rushing head, tight body attack, and awkward timing.  Porter now stands in a great position, as he won impressively, but still did not look like a world beater.  Khan is probably kicking himself for not taking that fight, as if had he fought that Devon Alexander, and won... he'd be an unquestionable candidate for the Floyd fight, instead of a fan-hated choice.
 
Bika and Dirrell fought well, but like Froch and Groves, completely disqualified themselves from the Andre Ward sweepstakes. 

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NOVEMBER 30 RECAP

NOVEMBER 30 RECAP

11 below Centigrade in Quebec City, and Adonis Stevenson still lays in a bathtub full of ice.  That ice was the hardest thing he would be hit with that night.  Stevenson got what looked to be a fairly easy win over mandatory Tony Bellew, but it is actually more impressive than one might think, at first glance.  With Bellew, he finished off a bigger fighter, coming down in weight, while he himself is a smaller fighter, coming up.  He also finished a man who had not been finished before.  He also had to pursue his opponent, who was intent on countering.  This opened up the holes in his defense, to the point where one would think, if he was in there with a bigger puncher, he may in some trouble.

Sugar Hill said the right things, and Stevenson executed those requests.  Also, he continues to win in different ways, which always lends itself to a great year.  We now have 3 strong candidates for fighter of the year.  One of the other two, Sergei Kovalev, won in even more impressive fashion.  Like Adonis, he was outboxed for a small stretch, before putting it all together, to stop Ismayl Sillakh the second he opened up.  Sillakh is weak chinned, and fights terribly when hurt, therefore we did not get to see many rounds for Kovalev.  However, the explosiveness, as well as the durability he showed early, would have many picking him to defeat the reigning champion in Stevenson.

Krusher vs. Superman is the only fight that makes sense at 175lbs, but since Hopkins is due an optional, and Ward may finally be making the move up, it may get delayed.  Add to that, the Bute-Pascal match, which will likely add a big name, big money scalp for Stevenson in his home country.  It also does not bode well that Stevenson was calling out Carl Froch of all people after his win Saturday night.  Froch looked all but done against George Groves, and is not even a light heavyweight.  What happened to the Adonis who called out Hopkins and Ward after only 60 seconds of work with Chad Dawson?  

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LEFTOVER BOXING PREDICTIONS - DECEMBER 2013

LEFTOVER BOXING PREDICTIONS - DECEMBER 2013

December 7 is such a busy week of boxing, many predictions were left out of my prediction section.  Also, the schedule has taken shape, leaving the closest thing to mega cards we have come (barring Floyd canelo card) in a long time.  When Austin Trout vs. Erislandy Lara is getting third billing, you know you have one heck of a card... and this week, we have two.  Let's look at a few more fights that I did not get a chance to break down in my predictions for December.

Matthew Macklin vs. Lamar Russ.  Macklin and Kirkland deserve respect for coming off of a defeat and a layoff, respectively, and jumping right back in with dangerous, undefeated prospects.  They are both pick em fights, however, I am picking both to be unwise choices by their management.  Macklin is never afraid to shy away from a challenge, but I think his two losses to Martinez and Golovkin will have him ripe for a hungry Lamar Russ.  In Russ, I like the skills, the movement, and the ability to take out wounded prey if the opportunity presents itself.  Macklin should be the sternest test for Russ, but I just think he doesn't have much left.  Russ will out box him, break him down, and other than getting tagged by some smart counters, not face much resistance.  Russ by late round TKO.

Kirkland is coming off of one of his many layoffs.  He technically got the win over Carlos Molina, but it might as well have been a loss.  Molina notched two more wins and a title belt, while Kirkland has been silent for nearly a year and a half. 

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ARUM IS AT IT AGAIN

ARUM IS AT IT AGAIN

Bob Arum is damned good.... very, very good at his job.  He matches fighters carefully, in order to convey that the richest possible matchups are actually competitive affairs.  This is done regardless of whether or not that is in fact the truth.  After last Saturday's Pacquiao win, we saw the latest example.  The Mayweather fight, thought dead for years, is now a rising topic of conversation.  Has anything changed since they reached an impasse years ago?  Not in the business sense, for sure.  Let's set the record straight now.
 
That fight will never happen.  Arum uses the topic to get regular people (non boxingheads, that is) talking boxing again.  The general public is almost always ignorant to the boxing world, save a few names.  Those two names since 2009, have been Mayweather and Pacquiao.  They don't know that boxing experts see that as a normal Mayweather fight, where he counters his opponent silly for 12 rounds.  They also don't know that promoter feuds make it an impossibility.  They also don't even know who Andre Ward and Guillermo Rigondeaux are... nor that those men, along with the Klitschkos, have surpassed Pacquiao in most P4P ratings.
 
Arum knows the end is near for Pacquiao, therefore his undercards, as well as the Macau scene, are being used to introduce his next few years of dominance at 126lbs.  Save Mares and Santa Cruz, every big talent in and around feather is a Top Rank fighter: Gradovich, Lomachencko, Donaire, Salido, Rigo, and Garcia.  A round-robin could take years, and new stars are being made all the time.  The 2012 Olympic class is just now maturing into prospects, and Bob Arum has done a good job gathering up virtually all of them in the international market, while Golden Boy has focused on the Americans.
 

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FORMER-SOVIET INVASION... AND THIS TIME, IT'S A GOOD THING

FORMER-SOVIET INVASION... AND THIS TIME, IT'S A GOOD THING

As a young American boy, the one thing we were all made to fear was a Russian invasion.  This almost always was associated with a military or political strike, yet even ion the sporting sense, it was feared.  The Olympics came to my hometown, and without the communist countries attending, we cleaned up in boxing gold medals.  The implication was clear, however, that if the Soviets had been involved, it would have been a much different story.  Even one Rocky movie was dedicated to the "Red Threat".  Fast forward to 2013, and a new invasion of the former Soviet-Union is underway, and this time it is a welcome sight.

It has been 23 years since the complete fall of the former USSR, and while many a hiccup has taken place in the young nations' thirst for democracy, the high standards of amateur athletic prowess are still in play.  It has taken the full 23 years, however, for the professional game to follow suit.  Much like a maturing fighter, the nation needed nearly two and a half decades to reach its full potential.  Klitschkos and other former world champions, such as Kostya Tszyu, Roman Karmazin, Nicolai Valuev, and Dmitry Kirilov have enjoyed some success 5-10 years ago, and even some home-field accomplishments, but due to the climate in Russia and the Ukraine, champions have not been able to fully enjoy a modern first-world boxing scene.

 If the Russian fighters had trouble, the Belarussian, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Armenian, and Kazakh fighters have traditionally had to abandon their home countries entirely (save a few 'back-to-roots' fights) to have big pro careers... coming to Germany, Australia, USA, and even Japan: Vassily Jirov, Sergei Lyahovich, Arthur Abraham,

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DECEMBER PREDICTIONS, PART 2

DECEMBER PREDICTIONS, PART 2

Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana
Broner had a tough one last time, so he is back in a very winnable fight, with a man who makes most fights exciting.  This is the first big puncher Broner has taken on, however, and he is doing so at 147, so he deserves full credit for that.  Broner does have a pretty good chin, and Maidana has been dropped with head and body shots before.  I see a replay of the DeMarco fight, with maybe a bit more offensive success by Maidana.  Broner by 8th round TKO.  Then it is time for Danny Garcia... no more excuses.

Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Joseph Agbeko
Agbeko is the type of fighter who would probably age well.  Winning with conditioning, chin, and volume.  However, none of those things will bother Rigondeaux, who is a master boxer.  Abner Mares is overrated, but has good boxing ability.  In the rematch, he showed what can be done against the Ghanan.  This will not be close, but it will be long.  Rigondeaux by wide UD

Keith Thurman vs. Jesus Soto-Karass
Thurman is a typical protected and carefully matched Al Haymon fighter... only taking on guys who are recently exposed, or recently hot.  Karass got a great win, but one can blame Berto's overrating, bad luck, and bad style decisions for that.  Karass did what he always does, which will be suicide against a fighter like Thurman.

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DECEMBER PREDICTIONS, PART 1

DECEMBER PREDICTIONS, PART 1

Shawn Porter vs. Devon Alexander
Alexander can't seem to get a big opponent to risk fighting him.  At least not the British ones.  Khan and Brook would both rather feast on nobodies, while waiting for big money, than risk taking on "The Great".  Shawn Porter has little to lose, and after he has looked nothing more than decent and consistent, he needs a big win to get into the discussion.  The winner of Thurman vs. Soto-Karass is likely waiting for the winner of this match, but welterweights are defining/honing their picture this month.  I think a motivated Alexander is still too good, and too seasoned.  Porter will also have his punch output reduced.  Alexander by dull UD.

Austin Trout vs. Erislandy Lara
One of the favorite junior middleweights and one of the least favorite.  Lara is skilled, but unless he's blasting you out in one round, which he seems incapable of at the higher levels, he can be boring.  Trout can also stink it out, but it largely depends on his opponent.  He is genuinely one of the good guys in the sport, and given the lack of marketability of the Cuban, it seems most would root for Trout.  Yet, Lara is a very live underdog.  Trout has shown his willingness to come forward if his opponents defensive skills warrant it, and the Cuban's counter-punching ability is quite impressive.  Neither man is coming off of a great outing, as Lara may have beaten Angulo, but looks vulnerable in nearly every fight.  Trout lost a close one to Canelo.. but something tells me, Trout is a slight cut above, and this will become clear in the later rounds, as Lara switches from boxing, to running.  Trout by MD.

Paulie Malignaggi vs. Zab Judah

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INTERVIEW WITH HENRY TILLMAN

INTERVIEW WITH HENRY TILLMAN

Winning a gold medal is prestigious enough, especially these days where Olympic boxers from the US have better odds of winning figure skating gold than boxing gold.  However, getting to win it in front of your home country, and hometown?  It can't get any sweeter than that.  Thus is the story of Henry Tillman.  Tillman is a former heavyweight gold medalist, who attained this goal in the LA games of 1984.
 
What followed was a professional career with many ups and downs, including title shots, and big name opponents.  Yet, for Tillman, who has been training fighters for over 20 years now, it has all come full circle.  One of his fighters, undefeated heavyweight KO artist, Charles Martin, is fighting on the Bash Boxing card at Florentine Gardens in Hollywood, November 14.  Tillman talked with Chris Strait for this show's trainer spotlight.
 
CS: You came to boxing late, correct?
 
HT: Yes, they had a program up in Chino, when I was a teenager.
 
CS: I know you were trained by Mercer Smith at Broadway Gym.  What were some of your other amateur accomplishments, besides the gold?
 
HT: I also trained out of Hoover Gym, but I think I had like 73 fights, and only lost 9.  I won the Nationals in Colorado Springs.  I won silver in the Pan Am games.  I was set to win gold in the nationals in Kansas City, but I broke my hand, and Tyson won in a walk over.
 

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NOVEMBER 2 RECAP

NOVEMBER 2 RECAP

We were expecting a lot of action this weekend, and we certainly got it... yet for the action we got, we got more of a commentary on the dangers of the sport than anything else.   We all know how dangerous this sport can be, but in the times of corner rescues and early stoppages, we get far less life-threatening injuries than was once the case.  We were expecting knockouts, and got them, technically (literally)... however the unwavering hearts of all involved this weekend, put these combatants in quite a lot of danger.
 
Curtis Stevens looked to give us what we all expected midway through round two.  He had landed a few good shots, and gotten caught with a huge shot himself.  However, when he showed the heart to continue, he went into a bit of survival mode.. fighting in spurts, and avoiding big bombs.  despite his reputation, GGG is a patient destructor, however, and was content to gradually wear down his opponent, until the corner rescued him.  Stevens was the healthiest loser that weekend!
 
Mago Abdulasamov showed a good amount of heart, as he tried everything he could in his one-dimensional style.  Mike Perez showed he was going to win in the first few seconds, as the fighters traded shots, and he emerged unscathed.  Although Mago is probably the bigger puncher (Perez last 5 wins have been decisions), the Irish Cuban has the far better chin.  The Russian adjusted, however, and was able to last the distance.  Now, he is fighting for his life in a NYC hospital, his career most certainly over.  Was showing heart really worth it, when he knew a few rounds in, that he was not going to win?

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FIGHTERS WHO SHOULD HANG 'EM UP

FIGHTERS WHO SHOULD HANG 'EM UP

Time for another installment of... well... me letting certain fighters it is time to clear the lane.  Some choices are obvious, some choices are wishful thinking, and others may surprise you.  Here is my latest assessment of a few who need to start thinking of their health before money.
 
Juan Manuel Marquez
Much like Holyfield, his style and abilities do lot lend itself to a retirement-level beatdown.  Tyson may burn bright, but he lost just as brutally, or as sadly, as his opponents.  This left him with no question as to when his heart, and body was no longer in it.  Marquez on the other hand can still compete, which may fool him into thinking that he should.  Three of the best defensive fighters ever: Ali, Benitez and Pep, suffered the ill effects of punches, despite us rarely seeing them caught clean.  Marquez has his faculties, his finances, and his legacy secured.  There is nothing left for him to accomplish.
 
Tavoris Cloud
I know he is young, but he is also done.  Two straight fights being outboxed, against Campillo and Hopkins, only to be completely taken apart by Adonis Stevenson.  He is a Don King fighter, so history would suggest he is not set financially.  However, he has been exposed, and now his confidence has been shattered.  He is pretty much out of the discussions at 175, and being the huge jump to cruiserweight, that move seems unlikely either... although an all-Don King war with Guillermo Jones would be entertaining, in his home state of Florida.  Guys like him end up getting beat up badly, and/or becoming opponents for young fighters.  He was such a strong prospect, that it sounds sad to say, but a former belt-holder who appeared on HBO and Showtime many times, is nothing of which to be ashamed.
 
Vitali Klitschko
This one has been obvious for a while, and I have mentioned it before, but new aspects have been recently introduced that make it even moreso. 

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WEEKEND RECAP

WEEKEND RECAP

Bernard Hopkins does not stop fighters, nor does he have an exciting style, nor a Spanish last name.  However, in Mayweather-like fashion,n he keeps us watching for other reasons.  He breaks records for age and defenses, wins multiple weight class championships, etc.  He is also a great interview, and usually has some kind of personality quirk that emerges in the buildup to any fight.  This time, he switched things up by actually exchanging with a safe mandatory, much the same way he surprised us with action against Howard Eastman nearly 9 years ago.
 
He was given as good as he got in dirty fighting, and as usual found a way to make sure his opponent was the only one penalized.  He did everything to discombobulate Murat, including kissing and showboating.  As long as he has the stamina and chin, and at least some of his old moves, he will be around.  B-Hop is not running out of age, so much as he is running out of beatable opponents.  Shumenov and Cleverly may lose in an action fight, but Kovalav and Stevenson would likely be favored.  Ditto Ward or Mayweather if he moves down.  Hopkins even hinted at moving up, but who he would face that would be worthwhile is beyond me.
 
The only controversy on this night, however, was in the co-main event.  There are many things about Quillin's TKO over Rosado that bother me.  The first is the issue of the scoring.  Judges were clearly auditioning for more work from Golden Boy and Al Haymon... scoring a very even fight as a whitewash for champion Quillin.  If the bout was not stopped, we were headed for an atrocious decision.  Much like Chavez-Vera, we can whine all we want.  Those judges will be back again, until we totally revamp boxing scoring.  The second is the style that Quillin used.  It was fairly effective on this night, but did Kid Chocolate make his case as a solid opponent for GGG?  Not really.
 

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

Chris John is being honored for longevity... I just don't see it.  Guys like him, Omar Narvaez, Sven Ottke, etc. do not really impress me, because the one time they left the safe confines of their home cooking, they showed weaknesses, and nothing special.  Longevity is not that hard when you are fed a steady diet of bums, and your belt is the kind that forces someone else to face your mandatories.  Chris John really has nothing going for him except for his unbeaten record.  Calzaghe is actually the only one who shined outside of that decade long protected bubble, and we had to wait forever to see it.

Speaking of waiting forever, Vitali Klitschko is officially holding a belt hostage.  How much more can the WBC bend over backwards to appease him?  You get the feeling they are still apologizing for the Lennox Lewis stoppage, which was not even their fault.  They allow him to go a year with no defenses, even longer with no mandatories, and even invented the "emeritus" status so he could come right back and challenge for a belt, with no tune-ups, after a four year layoff.  I appreciate the skills of both Klitschkos, but the act is getting old.  That boring dominance could be forgiven if they were active, and gave us great finishes, but even that has left their arsenal lately.

Speaking of an arsenal, Vasyl Lomachencko has everything to be one of the greats... but perhaps I am a bit hesitant.  There was another time we were singing the praises of an unbeatable amateur star who KO'd everyone and won Olympic Gold.  His name was Mark Breland, and while becoming a two-time belt holder is nothing to scoff at, he never came close to realizing his potential as a pro.  Skills cannot be measured in 9 minutes, when you know you may have to fight 36.  The good news is, we will know very soon if Vasyl is for real.. I just hope they don't ruin him if he is anything less than perfect.

Speaking of perfection, this trend of unbeaten prospects who have fought absolutely no one has to stop.  Yes, certain fighters are exposed in their first couple of losses (i.e. Seth Mitchell, etc.), but others like Orlando Salido would not have become the fighters they are today without plenty of them.  There is more than one way to build a prospect, just like there is more than one way to ruin them.  If the whispers about Deontay Wilder's chin and stamina are indeed true, how is building him up against stiffs and has-beens going to protect that?  Wladimir Klitschko had both problems, and it wasn't until they were exposed that he was able to get better.  Even Frank Bruno made some adjustments after a few hard losses.  

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MILE HIGH MISTAKE

MILE HIGH MISTAKE

So, we have another great action fight for 2013.  Not a fight of the year candidate, but darn close.  We knew this coming in, but there is always the chance of being disappointed.  The only way Ruslan Provodnikov and Mike Alvarado would disappoint would be a little different.  One of them dancing to victory in a clinch fest is not likely.  The only way the fans could have lost is an early KO, or quick stoppage.  Even that would let us down, compared to what we were expecting.  

As one of the few who predicted this fight correctly, I give all credit to Provodnikov.  There were many occasions where he could have resigned himself to having inferior boxing skills, and just followed Alvarado around the ring.  Ruslan, however, just did what he does.. applied steady pressure.  His only two losses were against fighters who spent most of their time boxing.  Durable guys, who don't expect to hurt you much, and have inexhaustible stamina.  Mauricio Herrera and Timothy Bradley fit that mold.  Alvarado did not.  Not quite, at least.  

Alvarado showed his boxing skills late against Rios, but what a lesson he needed to learn to get there.  He also is a good puncher.  he is used to seeing a result from his bombs.  Add to that, he was drained by his efforts to make weight, and facing a man who punches to the body with tremendous force.  It was not a good recipe for going a full 12 rounds, even with the natural heart that Mike possesses, combined with the pressure of fighting in his hometown.  Provodnikov deserved the win, but Mile High Mike deserved better than this.  You have to understand the way Top Rank operates.  

When you defeat one of Bottom Line Bob Arum's ticket sellers... you are not rewarded.  You are either shelved or buried on undercards.  

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NOVEMBER BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 2

NOVEMBER BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 2

Andre Ward vs. Edwin Rodriguez
Finally, the second best fighter on the planet is back in the ring.  He is actually taking on the most interesting fighter left in his division.  Rodriguez in undefeated, has exposure on the major cable networks, has ventured into the 175lbers with success, and has an inspiring back story.  Everyone else who is both ready and willing has already been beaten by Ward, or exposed by one of his victims.  Unless Chavez starts looking like more than a glorified journeyman, or Golovkin moves up, the future is at 175 for both men.  Rodriguez can be put to sleep, or discombobulated by good ring generalship, heart, or awkwardness.  Ward can do all three.  He can do whatever bothers his opponent, actually.  If Edwin's skin busts up, we may even have a stoppage, but I doubt he'll win more than a round or two.  Ward by wide UD.

Jorge Linares vs. Richard Abril
This is a battle of two men who could easily be undefeated.  If not for Linares's chin and skin betraying him, he has shown himself the offensive superior of all of his opponents.  Ditto Abril, who has not been betrayed by his body, but his lack of connections.  The winner here will get nothing but the win, and each man is not typically the type to give the other one problems.  Abril will likely not KO Linares, while Linares will not pressure Abril.  This could be a dud, but it is also the first time that Abril suffers a legit defeat.  If I am wrong, he is the best lightweight in the world, but something tells me, Linares turns it around on this night.  Linares by MD.

Carl Froch vs. George Groves
Carl Froch does not want Andre Ward... he merely wants it to look like he does.  George Groves is a talent, and a live underdog, but not enough is known about what he can do on the highest level.  Froch raises his game, especially when pressured, and makes believers out of all of us.  He just can't beat Ward, but can likely beat everyone else.  Groves will make it to the final bell, but probably not accomplish much else past round 4.  Froch by wide UD.

Vanes Martirosyan vs. Demetrius Andrade
Some fighters are held back fearing they will not excel at the next level. 

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NOVEMBER BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 1

NOVEMBER BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 1

Gennady Golovkin vs. Curtis Stevens
GGG not only wins, he wins in style, with brutal displays of power.  When Stevens loses, at least in the past, it was usually in anything but style.  This was the same man who allowed himself outslugged by Jesse Brinkley, and outboxed by Andre Dirrell, while barely putting forth a decent effort.  In fact, his showing against Dirrell was so bad, if you had said HBO would ever allow him on their air again, you'd have been looked upon as crazy.  A string of early KO's on television has us rethinking "Showtime", who will ironically get his shot on HBO.  If lighting strikes early, maybe Stevens has a chance here.. but that lighting would be striking a non-conductor.  Golovkin by KO, within two rounds.

Nonito Donaire vs. Vic Darchinyan 2
This rematch is happening about 5 years too late.  However, both men have more to prove.  We now know what kind of fighter can beat Donaire.  We also know Darchinyan will never be able to be that guy.  He is smarter and more patient than he was in 2007, and that should help Vic get to later rounds and make it competitive.  However, unless Donaire is too wide looking for a knockout, it won't be enough.  Donaire by decision or late round TKO.

Mago Abdulasamov vs. Mike Perez
Both big, hard-punching, sloppy heavyweights.  Perez may have the Cuban amateur pedigree, but you'd never know it watching the transplanted Irishman swing away.  He's also had bouts of inactivity.  None of this will matter.  Mago can fight, but looks as if his receptivity may be in question.  Perez, if nothing else, seems to be able to take a punch.  I have a hunch he'll be the first to dismantle, much like Bert Cooper vs. Willie de Wit.  Perez by Ko in the first few rounds, unless he is too sloppy to finish Abdulasamov.

David Tua vs. Alexander Ustinov
Why should we care?  

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KLITSCHKO AND MAYWEATHER

KLITSCHKO AND MAYWEATHER

There are two dominant forces with many things in common.  Let us look at the undisputed heavyweight champion, as well as then undisputed pound for pound king, for the similar aspects of their lives, and let's also highlight the differences.

Similarities
1) Both are 1996 Olympic medalists.  Klitschko won gold at Super Heavyweight, while Mayweather was robbed in the semi-finals at Featherweight.

2) Both left their promoters to be their own boss, as their stars rose.  This point is not too important if a fighter is less than stellar, but Bob Arum and Universum actually missed out on the prime fighting, and earning, years of these two very bright businessmen.

3) Both come from fighting families.  The Mayweather family crest is legendary in boxing now, but even Wlad only went to the gym, because his older brother Vitali did so first.

4) Both are completely dominant over their peers.  Not only do they win, they embarrass their opponents with the gap in skill.5) Both have number one contenders to their throne that they will not/cannot face.  Mayweather had Pacquiao, with the testing and promoter difficulties, while Wlad has his older brother. 

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BRADLEY V. MARQUEZ WRAP UP

BRADLEY V. MARQUEZ WRAP UP

I must say I was thoroughly impressed with Timothy Bradley's performance on Saturday night.  Not only did he win the fight, he made a great counterpuncher miss badly for 12 rounds.  The one scenario I thought could possibly lead to Bradley victory played itself out perfectly for him.  Bradley listened to his corner, and out-boxed Marquez.  The other half of that scenario, was Marquez falling in love with his own power, and choosing to stalk Bradley.  The only other time he tried this, was the only other comprehensive loss of his career.. a 12-round domination at the hands of Floyd Mayweather.
 
While Bradley certainly did not put a beating on Marquez the way that Mayweather did, he did employ a Floyd-like strategy.  Not in a long time, have we seen Bradley this defensively capable.  Marquez missed badly all night, and even in the last rally, missed a 4-punch combination, while getting caught twice himself, and staggered.  Marquez thinking he had won was laughable.  He needed to do nothing more than listen to his own fans booing the scorecard that had him ahead.  Not only do his fans not like Bradley, they are not particularly fond of the style he used to gain victory.  So, if they are booing, you know you got beat.  I have not seen that from a Mexican crowd since Whittaker boxed Chavez's ears off, and was denied.
 
Yet, Bradley's good luck with scorecards, and Marquez's bad luck, made it seem as if something might be amiss.  The only thing wrong in my view was how two of the three judges had it close.  One actually had Marquez ahead!  I had Bradley winning 9 rounds, and although you can argue it was a bit closer, the only rounds Marquez won, were won because Bradley didn't do anything.  Marquez was busy in certain spots, but was pretty much ineffective with everything he tried all night.  His denial will delay his career, but this fight was more of a passing of the torch than anything either man achieved with Pacquiao. 

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2013 John Bray Free Youth Boxing Clinic Photo Gallery

2013 John Bray Free Youth Boxing Clinic Photo Gallery

The John Bray Boxing Foundation held the 4th Annual John Bray Free Youth Boxing Clinic on Saturday, October 12, 2013 in San  Diego, CA at the House of Boxing Training Center.  The purpose of the free youth clinic is to help the community in preventing and combating gang violence while promoting discipline and academic success among school-age students.
   
Special guest appearances by former World Junior Middleweight champion Paul Vaden, Light welterweight prospect "The Relentless" Antonio Orozco, Light Middlweight prospect David Barrragan, 2012 U.S. Super Heavyweight Olympian and current Heavyweight prospect Dominic "Trouble" Breazeale, 2013 USA Boxing National Champion and Continental Champion Danyelle Wolf, and other influential leaders from the community.

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WHY IT WILL NEVER STOP

WHY IT WILL NEVER STOP

Brian Vera gets screwed against JC Chavez Jr?  Surely, you jest.  Yes, our sport of shitty decisions continues.  It will continue for many reasons, and will never stop.  It will never improve.  Just enjoy the action, as well as the knowledge that most of the time the screwed fighter usually gets his shot anyway, out of sympathy.  We often see this coming now, to the point where we are pleasantly surprised when it does not happen.  The reason for this is clear.
 
What most of the general public does not know is how little regulation there is on judges in a normal circumstance.  Judges are flown in by the host promoter, put up in nice hotels, given free food, drugs, women, whatever they wish.  The implication is clear.  If you score against my guy, you will not be back.  We seem to think the new judges scoring fights at home in bizarre ways do not fall under this, as it is a domestic fight.  We think they were just not experienced enough.  However, this is often just an audition for bigger events.
 
Let's look at the two California judges who handed in inexplicable 98-92 and 97-93 scores for Chavez.  Marty Denkin has enjoyed a long and prosperous career as a judge.  He does not want it to end.  He knows how to play the game.  Gwen Adair is hoping for more choice assignments.  That could be the only explanation for their scores.  I have spoken with both of them.  Nice enough people, and intelligent.  They are not incompetent.  They are merely looking for a reason to score for the fighter that will promise them more work.  How many times have we seen these controversial judges rehired over and over again.  It is because, to the promoters... there is no controversy.
 
Bob Arum hires those who play ball.  As does Don King, Golden Boy, Sauerland, Gary Shaw, Goossen, etc.  Felix Sturm is his own promoter.  Do you think they finally found justice in their hearts, when Soliman and Geale got the decisions over Sturm?  Hardly.  Their promoters learned the game, and simply had more earning power than Sturm.  If it appears that 50 Cent fighters don't get the close nod as much as we'd like, that is to send a message to 'Fiddy'... play ball, or you'll never get a decision in any state.
 

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OCTOBER BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 2

OCTOBER BOXING PREDICTIONS PART 2

Kell Brook vs. Vyacheslav Senchenko
Brook has very good skills, but when a fighter is managed the way he has been, one has to wonder if something is being avoided for good reason.  Senchenko is riding high after a win over Hatton, but didn't exactly look like a world beater until he landed the crushing body shot.  If Brook is dragged into a slugfest, or his self-belief wavers at all, the Ukranian will find it out, but odds are Brook will outbox him on the way to a wide 12 round decision
 
Shane Mosley vs. Anthony Mundine
Mosley looked like he still had some fight in him against Cano, and Mundine is the kind of fighter who runs and runs when threatened.  I see Mundine outboxing Mosley for a while, but gradually Mosley will walk him down, and pummel the mouthy Australian into submission.  It may even give Mosley a rare impressive knockout, I'm guessing by round 11.
 
Wladimir Klitschko vs. Alexander Povetkin
This fight is finally happening, and although Povetkin may be, on paper, the best fighter Klitschko has fought in awhile, styles make fights.  Povetkin has been carried for a reason, and he hasn't even looked great against that level.  The Moscow crowd will actually serve to motivate Klitschko,
 

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OCTOBER BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 1

OCTOBER BOXING PREDICTIONS, PART 1

Mike Alvarado vs. Ruslan Providnikov
After engaging in nothing but exciting fights, these two are almost guaranteed to give us a slugfest.  However, it only behooves one of them to hope for that.  Provodnikov only knows one way to fight.  Alvarado has different speeds.  The Russian also has a better chin, meaning that Alvarado should try and make it a boxing match.  He already has the support of the Denver crowd, so he does need to impress them, but there are enough holes in his boxing game to guarantee some great brawling moments.  Much as with the Bradley fight, Ruslan will also lose most of the lull times between those brawling moments, resulting in an exciting but clear cut decision win for Alvarado.
 
Bernard Hopkins vs. Karo Murat
Bernard Hopkins has a history of following up a legendary win, with a poor business decision.  He defeated Trinidad, then fulfilled a couple of mandatories, with a 14-month gap in activity.  He defeated Kelly Pavlik then took more than a year off.  He beat Pascal, then instead of retiring on top, he fought Chad Dawson in a high-risk, low reward match.  Here it is again, after beating Tavoris Cloud, he is not dropping down to 168 lbs for a big money fight with Ward, or moving up to make more history.  He is facing a useless mandatory where he has nothing to gain, and all to lose.  Murat is nothing special, but doesn't fight in the robotic way that would make Hopkins' night easy.  This is not a slam dunk for Bernard, and I feel he is headed for a very unimpressive 7-5 decision win.
 
Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Timothy Bradley

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4th Annual John Bray Free Youth Boxing Clinic

4th Annual John Bray Free Youth Boxing Clinic

San Diego, California (September 19, 2013) - The John Bray Boxing Foundation is holding the 4th Annual John Bray Free Youth Boxing Clinic in an effort to continue to help the community in preventing and combating gang violence while promoting discipline and academic success among school-age students.  After three successful events held in the San Fernando Valley and Central Valley of California, the John Bray Boxing Foundation has teamed up with the House of Boxing Training Center for an event in San Diego, California.
    
The House of Boxing Training
Center's Carlos Barragan Sr. and Jr. have continued to make major contributions and positive impacts within the South Bay communities of the city of San Diego for over 20 years.  Both organizations have arranged this free youth boxing clinic in an effort to raise awareness of issues that impact the youth of our community.  

Children and teens face many temptations everyday; whether it is drugs, gangs or peer pressure.  The John Bray Boxing Foundation and House of Boxing Training Center want to provide these promising young men and women with an alternative where they can feel at home and escape the pressures they have to deal with daily.  Although it is considered a boxing clinic, these participants will also listen to inspirational speakers, and learn about nutrition, life skills and attitude development.

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STRAIT JABS

STRAIT JABS

So Abner Mares has finally tasted defeat, after coming so close so many times.  Jhonny Gonzalez is a fun fighter, whether he wins or loses, to have him be a three time, two division champion now, with a shot at the hall of fame is kind of a nice ending.  It's probably a short reign, but like everything he does, it will be exciting.  Mares is already saying he'll maintain his tough schedule if a good fight presents itself, but don't be so sure.  He was never a perfect or unbeatable looking fighter, therefore his confidence went a long long way.  They might actually want to step him back a bit, on a card where they are ironically allowing the padded Olympians step up.

Speaking of the Olympians, I love Top Rank's new strategy with Murata and Lomachenko.  Both are punchers who are taking on tough assignments right out of the gate.  Both fighters could be titlists within 5 fights, and challenging today's elite, not just tomorrow's.  Exciting.  The other good thing about this strategy is that it shows us just how little they truly believe in the talent of Zou Shiming.  He is a doorway into the Chinese market, but the back-up plans for that region are already being lined up in an intelligent way, when we discover that Shiming is Chinese for Paul Gonzales.

Speaking of punchers, I am as excited as everyone else to see Santa Cruz, Kovalev, Golovkin, and Matthysse continue to impress.  They do so in exciting fashion, with aggression and power, and are usually secure men who do not waste our time with a lot of hype.  The even better news about fighters like this, is that much like their recent forebearers Kelly Pavlik, Nonito Donaire, and Brandon Rios, they will continue to entertain and sell tickets after they lose.  However, the hype often leaves out the type of fighter that will beat them.  As much as we are falling in love with this type of fighter, the slick boxer at the top of the heap will beat them every time.  As it was with Hopkins and Rigo (who would also still beat Kovalev and Santa Cruz, respectively), don't be surprised if this time next year, Andre Ward and Adrien Broner have scalped a couple of these favored punchers each.

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THE LINE BETWEEN PROMOTION AND EGO

THE LINE BETWEEN PROMOTION AND EGO

Andy Kaufman was the first comedian to make mind-games the whole show.  So good was he at luring in an audience, it was almost like watching a magician work, more than a comedian.  As brilliant and brave as it was, it had a very negative side-effect.  Generations of unfunny comedians were released into the population, thinking they were being misunderstood artists because the audience hated them.  Clearly there was a line between creatively insane, and just a selfish jerk, who was using an example to justify his lack of craft.  I make the analogy not just because boxing and comedy are the two worlds I understand, but because the boxing world has it's own Andy Kaufman in that way.  In fact, they share a January 17th birthday.

Muhammad Ali was the first to bring pro wrestling trash-talk into legitimate sports.  His braggadocio and poetry were insulting to many, but few could deny he worked at it, and was trying to sell tickets for both he and his opponents.  He had the standard ego and insecurity issues that plague many a human being who achieves stardom at a young age.  The bizarre mix of feeling superior, yet inferior, to the world around you at the same time.  What was considered novelty in Ali's day, however, has now become par for the course.  A whole category of entertainment programming is based on trash-talking.  Whole celebrities have been made out of this.  It is almost expected of a star athlete that he be what the WWE fans would call "a heel" at some times.  The enemy who wishes to be hated as much as loved, doesn't even get his wish very often.  It has become so old-hat that it is often ineffective.  In fact, people are forgetting what made it so effective for Ali in the first place.

When it comes to ability, we are talking about one of the greatest fighters of all time.  I don't mean top 100.  I mean in virtually everyone's top 3!  He predicted which round he was going to stop an opponent, and was often capable of succeeding!  When his body began failing him, he found new strategies and ways to win.  He took a stand, socially, and made himself available to be interviewed at different stages of his life, up or down.  If he didn't have this personality, he'd still be remembered by fight fans as one of the best, but with it, he became an international celebrity... the most recognizable sportsperson in history.  At some point, however, we stopped requiring fighters to be top-shelf before doing this.It is ok for James Toney to talk trash... ditto Floyd Mayweather.

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BIG FIGHT PREDICTIONS

BIG FIGHT PREDICTIONS

Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios
Careful matchmaking is a whole different animal when a fighter becomes a big star.  You cannot ever take the easy fight.  Instead, you have to look for the fight that is simply less difficult.  Promoters are forced to employ a tactical search for an opponent that is: name, exciting, competitive, but not threatening, and close enough to the business, that he can draw a crowd on his own if he pulls off the upset.  Occasionally that has not been done in Pacquiao's case.  Clottey and Bradley were high-risk opponents with lower fan bases, but PacMan is so big a name now, that even 5 straight decisions, followed by a dubious loss and a brutal KO defeat will not hurt his numbers much.

 What Pacquiao needs badly is an exciting opponent who will not beat him unless he is truly finished.  In which case, Arum cannot lose, as it will save Brandon Rios' drawing power.  Bam Bam is still reeling from lowered expectations after 2 losses in his last 3 fights (Abril was a loss, no matter what the judges said).  Expect Rios to not do much better than David Diaz did against Pacquiao.  Although Rios is a better fighter, and Pacquiao is slipping, he is a fighter than will allow Manny to get back to basics.  Pacquiao outboxes Rios, and turns back the pressure to score a late round TKO, probably more on skin damage than chin damage.

Timothy Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Marquez
This fight could make a PPV attraction out of the winner.  Ironic in that both are on the downsides of their abilities.  Marquez, because of age, and Bradley because of damage incurred in his last two fights.  Bradley's will to win, combined with his lack of power, mean he puts a lot of miles on the odometer, every time he fights.  Marquez does just enough to lose competitively in the major fights, and without the lucky punch he landed against PacMan, he was probably on his way to doing so again.  Their histories show the outcome.  Bradley will overwhelm Marquez with activity, while being countered very effectively in spots.  I feel as if both men will taste the canvas from flash knockdowns, but we will see the final bell.  Bradley by close, controversial split decision, in an entertaining battle.

Mike Alvarado vs. Ruslan Provodnikov
Who would have thought Top Rank's limited stable in 140-147lb range would have produced such good results?  

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ALL THAT GLITTERS IS BRONZE

ALL THAT GLITTERS IS BRONZE

Deontay Wilder has many parallels to George Foreman.  On Olympic medalist who barely had any amateur experience prior to the games, he turned pro and was brought along slowly... mowing everyone down in his path.  Sound familiar?  His opposition was questioned, but even as he stepped up, the early knockouts kept coming.  Sound familiar?  The only difference is Foreman aged into the strongest heavyweight division in history, and never went beyond short-term champion.  Wilder is approaching one of the weakest.  He could certainly be given the same Ali-style lesson by either Klitschko, but both are aging, and Wilder may play the Holmes to their Ali by the time he is seasoned.  

As it stands now, who on this continent would you pick over The Bronze Bomber?  Banks, Mitchell, Arreola, etc have all shown the wrong style to compete with him.  Even the UK doesn't have too many people who could stand up to Wilder's power.  Much like Big George, it's not so much who he is beating, but how he is beating them.  However, like recent fighters with his history: Lara, Fortuna, and maybe soon Golovkin, one has to wonder when he does fall, will it be hard.  Maybe Tony Thompson?  Maybe Denis Boystov?  To be honest, I'm not sure I'd pick any of them to last past round 7.  Maybe we finally have the real thing.

Big George continued to win at the very highest level, until he suddenly crash-landed against Ali. The aforementioned examples had similar experiences.  Fortuna went from 1 round destroyer to a boring draw.  Same with Erislandy Lara, who has since proven his mettle.  What if Golovkin is outboxed in a stinker by Martinez or Geale?  Stranger things have happened... but the competition is there to make them happen.  Wilder may not be so fortunate (or unfortunate) depending on how you look at it.  Thompson could catch him early, and take over.  Either Klitschko would probably take him into deep water and drown him now, but rest assured, he will be steered clear of those threats until he is wearing hardware.  Povetkin will have been exposed by the time the year is out, and perhaps Pulev, too.  The division is just too shallow.  

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RIP THE DUKE

RIP THE DUKE

Tommy The Duke Morrison has passed away at the age of 44.  In the most recent photo taken of him, it looked as if he was pushing 60.  Most even remotely close to him knew the end was near, and he lived a reckless life that would lead one to self-destruction.  He had flashes of offensive brilliance.  He showed tremendous heart in all matches, and was both the victor in, and victim of, big upsets in the Heavyweight division.  While there was controversy over the way his career ended, there is too, about the way his life ended.  Those things make for a more interesting read, watch, or listen, but they do not make us remember a fighter, or personality, in and of themselves.
 
We remember the things that matter, when we know we will be receiving no more new output from someone.  I don't care if he really was related to John Wayne, or how closely.  I am not a John Wayne fan anyway.  I don't care if he was or was not HIV positive.  With his style, and frequency of fighting schedule, he probably got to live longer (or more clear headed) by retiring with that diagnosis.  I don't care that he was glass jawed, and had stamina problems.  That only made him more exciting.
 
I don't care that he was a white American heavyweight.  At that time, we didn't realize what a novelty that was, and it only helped him land big fights.  I don't care that he was in arguably the least memorable of the Rocky films.  His character was believable, and he was a 22 year old fighter who had never acted.  I don't even care that he never got Tyson in the ring.  The ideal time for that fight was when Iron Mike was locked up, and Morrison had already been exposed a bit.

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2013 WISH LIST

2013 WISH LIST

We are more than halfway through 2013, and there is much more to look forward to than has already occurred.  Mayweather vs. Canelo is the closest to Mayweather vs. Pacquiao that we are going to get.  Pacquiao is not nearly atop the P4P list anymore, but he is sure to have a barn-burner against Brandon Rios, and usher in the new Asian era of dominance.  Who would have thought?  China is taking over for the USA in every category soon.  We will get to say boxing led the way.  Here's how I'd like to see the rest of the year play out.

Outcomes for scheduled fights:
Mayweather should dominate Canelo, and throw ice water on the "Viva Meheeco" bandwagon as only he can.  Alvarez will still be vital, and have a ton of time to move forward and get better.  He will then kill time by beating Khan in the UK, waiting for Matthysse to become a star.
Matthysse should destroy Garcia, and it won't be quick either.  He will then take on Broner.  That is a pick 'em fight.  
Pacquiao should beat Brandon Rios, but he will take more damage.  He will be on the retirement list by next year.
Bradley vs. Marquez... I hope it's a good, not great fight.  One more brawl will ruin them both.  The winner deserves the big money Pacquiao fight, and I hope it happens next spring.
Alvarado vs. Provodnikov.  Don't be surprised if that is fight of the year.  I really hope so.
Haye will KO Fury, and eliminate one of the many loudmouth Brits who can't beat Klitschko.  Price and Chisora are entertaining.. nothing more.
Arreola will beat Mitchell, but it won't matter... for now.  Soon, all these US heavyweights will have a nice round robin.

Retirements:
Sergio Martinez - He is on the way out.. he should quit on top, instead of Golovkin hammering him into retirement.  he's earned as much.
Vitali Klitschko - Don't hold a belt hostage, when you are already 42 years old, injury riddled, and planning your next career.  It's not fair to the fans, or the other fighters in your division.  You are a future hall of famer.

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LEFTOVER BOXING PREDICTIONS - AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER

LEFTOVER BOXING PREDICTIONS - AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER

There have been a number of good fights added to the schedule since I predicted top fights for these two upcoming months.  Two title bouts within the same division have been added to the Mayweather vs. Canelo megacard, and an intriguing heavyweight eliminator has sprung upon us.  The hype machine for Pacquiao-Rios has already started, and that fight should be an entertaining war as long as it lasts, but let's put the cart before the horse, and enjoy all the action that will be preceding it.

Carlos Molina vs. Ishe Smith
This fight is a giant question mark, even though on paper the spoiler against the underacheiver looks like an easy pick.  Molina has responded well to being the favorite, and his performances against Lara, Kirkland, Cintron, and Spinks show that he can succeed against virtually any style.  However, he does not have the best of luck getting judges and referees to be on his side, and in Smith's hometown, on his promoter's card... the Chicagoan will have to do everything perfectly to come out on top.  That is not typically how Smith loses.  He is competitive, goes rounds, and wins a few along the way.  This was the case, even when he was not well managed or motivated.  He is very much so now.  A unification bout with the winner of Martorosyan-Andrade, or a bout with the loser of the main event, or Austin Trout is almost assured for the winner.  My pick is both Molina, and Smith.  I pick Molina to deserve 7-5 decision, but it will be Smith who gets the nod.

Vanes Martirosyan vs. Demetrius Andrade
It is the battle of slowly-brought-along Olympians.  Will the solid all around fighter with better experience and opposition have the edge?  Or will the fighter who seems to have more speed, talent, and momentum end up on top?  Andrade is the goods, and he pretty much has all the pluses of Erislandy Lara that gave Martirosyan trouble, with more size, and activity.  Martirosyan will try to take Andrade into deep water and drown him, but he won't swim enough in the early rounds to keep up.  Andrade by an 8-4, 12 round UD.

Kubrat Pulev vs. Tony Thompson

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